Good Morning Ted and Jody:
This morning I awoke remembering a lecture my 7th Grade History teacher, Mr. Dobson, gave about lead in the pipes and pottery of the Roman Empire. Mr. Dobson relayed how the Romans poisoned themselves with lead and didn’t have a clue: ruining all their drinking water through lead pipes and using lead pigments to fire their dishes and drinking cups. Unlike us, Americans, in the modern 1950s who were still poisoning ourselves with lead-based paint in our homes. I recall him vividly waving his arms and shouting, “all because it is easy to clean.” He actually stood on a chair and said, very loudly, “We have a clue, people, but we keep doing it for profit.” I suspect this memory was triggered by an article summarizing some research on the impact of sugar-free soda on dementia and strokes I read the day before. Being a prolific consumer of sugar-free beverages, I get enough Aspartame to preserve my entire body, daily, in the formaldehyde, it produces in human beings according to the purveyors of alternatives to it and sugar. My first reaction to the article, was “It is a little late to tell me now, guys. Where were you with this information back when sugary drinks had turned me into a diabetic?” Towards the end of the article, it cautioned that the findings, that I was 3 times more likely than a non-daily consumer of Aspartame sweetened beverages to have a stroke and or dementia, were only associations.
OK, back in the 60’s I took statistics courses at Indiana University (a little-known fact is that I have a minor in Economic-Statistics from that institution) and philosophy of science courses from Milton Hobbs of the then Department of Government at IU at the graduate level. Further, in my career, I taught statistics to undergraduate political science majors who majored in political science to avoid taking any math or science courses (that made me the professor to avoid at all costs). So, basically, I have a fair understanding of what associations are. They are a way to get around the fact that science cannot prove anything. Or to put it differently, associations are pretty strong evidence that something is going on at some level. So, here I am in my 70s with information that my lifestyle (at least in the form of my beverage of choice) is giving me an increased risk of dementia and stroke over the next ten years. Since I have been swilling down sugar free cola since the mid-1980s (I gave up caffeine in those sugar free drinks the 1990s and have no idea of what adverse effects that will have), I am thirty years past that stroke and dementia, so when it hits, it will probably be the stroke and dementia equivalent of a magnitude 10 earthquake that will separate California and the Pacific Northwest from the rest of North America (which, I think is the plan to succeed from the pestilence dominated nation to which we have sunk. Do you suppose the stroke and dementia I am courting is my way to avoid dealing with the reality of the pestilence?). All I know to do at this point is to switch back to peppermint tea and pray no one does a study of associations with bad things with it.
On a positive note, yesterday morning was supposed to be rainy. So, I slept in past the time to get out for sunrise shots. So, it is very difficult to explain how I got these shots yesterday morning—indeed, it was past sunup. I guess the rain in the west made the sun a bit reluctant to make a timely appearance in the east—it can’t like this much rain any more than we do. The last shot was taken with the Nikon P900 using a beanbag type tripod on the tunnel cover on the Ridgeline. So, every time a car or truck went by; I got extra vibration; so, I have not reached the lack of shake in this portrait of the heron. But I will get there.
I trust this finds you not drinking non-sugar beverages (healthy), happy and ready to take on the day.
Warmest regards, Ed
003 A Puzzlement
Fiction in 1132 words by T. Edward Westen
Captain Batan scratched his head and said, “Every time I try to add two and two, in this case, I come up with double and triple digit answers.”
“What do you mean Captain?” asked Detective First Class Eddie Philipson.
“Andy Kellog claims the dead woman just appeared in his cab,” replied Captain Batan. “The paramedics say that based on rigor mortis, the woman has been dead for at least four hours. To be in the position the woman is in that cab she had to be placed there before the rigor mortis set in—four hours before Andy called it in. But Andy didn’t start driving that cab until 90 minutes before he called in. The driver who had the cab before Andy says there was no dead woman in it when he clocked out. The dispatcher, claims she didn’t see a body in the can when it left the garage. The old guy who cleans out the cabs between shifts says nothing. Indeed,” looking down at his notes, Captain Batan said, “his exact words were ‘Nothing, I saw nothing.’ The passenger,” again looking at his notes, “Frank Millard, a reporter for the Enquirer, backs up Andy’s account. He says they were talking and the woman ‘appeared out of thin air.’ The Prophet only knows what story he will write. The crime scene unit extracted the woman very carefully and reports that other than a few traces of her skin on the meter and seat, which they admit they could have caused when they exacted her, there is no evidence she was killed in or near the cab. Finally, the autopsy shows the woman died from the impact of a two by two-inch square shaped solid object, like a fence post or railing, which left no trace of its composition in the four inches it penetrated the woman’s forehead. The final piece of non-information we have is no one vaguely fitting the woman’s description has been reported missing in the two days since she, er, well popped into Andy’s cab. No one has called in to say they recognize the reconstructed photo of the woman we released the day she showed up. So, where do we go to find out if she was killed, died of an accident or is just a figment of my imagination”
Detective Philipson silently handed Captain Batan the latest copy of the Enquirer. The Headlines read ‘MURDEROUS MAGICIAN MAKES VICTIM APPEAR IN CAB.’ Scanning the article Captain Batan read ‘this reporter was present when the magician’s victim suddenly appeared in Andy Kellog’s cab. Andy Kellog was abducted by aliens some months ago but says they were not aliens. Could the time travelers he claims abducted him have exiled a murderous magician into our time?’ . . .’Police are baffled.’ . . .’When will the murderous magician strike again?’ Captain Batan shook his head. Handing the paper back to Detective Philipson he said, “At least he has the part about us being baffled right.” He paused for a moment and then asked, “Do you read this regularly?”
Detective Philipson laughed out loud, “That fellow who wrote the article personally brought it in.”
The Desk Sergeant walked over and handed a note to Captain Batan and said, “There is another one, on 38th.”
Captain Batan, looked at the address and said, “This is next door to Phil’s Bakery.”
The Desk Sergeant shook his head yes, “Another dead naked lady. This one in a delivery van. The driver came back after leaving a package and found the woman sitting in his seat.”
Captain Batan turned to Detective Philipson, “Eddy you are with me on this one. You drive.” He told the Desk Sergeant over his shoulder as he was following Detective Philipson to the stairwell, “Call the responding officer and don’t let anyone touch anything until we get there.”
Arriving at 38th Street just south of the light on Mulberry,
Detective Philipson left the car blocking the intersection with the lights flashing. “I wonder why the responding officer didn’t block the street?”
Captain Batan recognized Officer Diggs and said, “Because it is Officer Diggs. I suspect he is still rattled from his gunfight with the coffee pot and windows not to mention holding Andy at gunpoint two days ago. Remind me, how long before he can retire?”
“A few weeks, as I recall,” replied Detective Philipson. “Maybe it would be safer for coffee pots and windows if you put him on a desk until then.”
“You may not believe it, but the Chief turned down that very suggestion,” replied Captain Batan. “It seems the Chief’s wife is Elmer’s cousin and wants him to go out with dignity. I didn’t have the guts to ask the Chief what his wife thought about him working behind a desk.”
As they approached Officer Diggs, Detective Philipson said, “I hear that.”
Officer Diggs asked, “Hear what?
“That we have another naked woman popping into a vehicle out of thin air,” replied Detective Philipson.
“If you can believe these guys,” said Officer Diggs. Pointing to the delivery truck, Office Diggs said, “No one saw the woman in the Van until the driver came back after making his delivery. He first thought some of the guys in his union were playing a prank on him as tomorrow is his birthday. Then when he touched the woman’s arm and found it stone cold and saw the hole in her forehead he went back in and called us.
Captain Batan walked to the van double parked on 38th Street in front of Glenn’s Shoe and Leather Repair. The dead woman was leaning against the steering wheel and was indeed stone cold. To him, the hole in her forehead matched the hole in the head of the woman pulled from Andy Kellog’s cab. As he was contemplating the scene, someone cleared their voice behind him, “Ahem, Captain, you done?”
Captain Batan turned to find Lieutenant Mathew Bohme of the crime scene unit. “Yes, just trying to get a feel for what must have happened.”
Lieutenant Bohme raised an eyebrow, “At least this one we can get out before her rigor relaxes.”
“Why is that Lieutenant?” asked Captain Batan.
“While she is in an almost identical sitting position as the one in Andy’s Cab,” said Lieutenant Bohme, “this one is not wedged in tightly. You can thank the fact that the driver of the van is three times Andy’s size and the sliding doors.”
“Did you take photos of the other one so you can do an overlay?” asked Captain Batan. “Identical positions might be important.
“Yes, we did,” said Lieutenant Bohme.
Captain Batan nodded, “I hope that helps. Now let’s get this street open for traffic”
On the sidewalk, Frank Millard was snapping photos with his cell phone.