Holding the Line

I restored this old toolbox over the last several weeks. I bought it cheap and spent way too much time on it. I didn’t even really want to do it in a thin blue line theme. I find myself burnt out on blue line stuff. As I sat on my couch last night, screwing in the screws on the top, I heard the news that a Terre Haute police officer was killed. I got to thinking, the thin blue line is so much more than license plates, stickers, shirts, and all the other stuff people slap a blue line on. The blue line I grew up holding in such reverence is still the brotherhood. It represents all of us who have chosen a life of sacrifice, and service, and pain, and continue to come to work every day because if we don’t do it, who will? I recently heard about a shortage of police officers in Indiana. It may be nationwide. People don’t want to be cops anymore. I can’t blame them one bit. But a shortage of police officers means longer hours, more shifts, later retirements. Will we complain? Sure. It’s what we do. But we’ll still put on our vests, drop a gun in our holsters, and go. We’ll go to your unruly kid; we’ll go when your neighbors fence has leaned too far; we’ll go when you’ve locked your keys in your car for the third time this month. We’ll go when you’re hurt; we’ll go when you’re scared; we’ll go when no one else will. We are that thin blue line that faces the darkness in this world. We know that to turn from the darkness will allow it to steal the light of those we’re sworn to protect.

I’ve heard a lot lately about there being a war on police officers. Take a minute to read the social media comments on officer down posts and you’ll see how much support we still have. Listen when people thank you for your service. Take a minute and let someone pray for you when they ask. There are people that wish us harm, but brothers, there are a whole lot more that want us safe. You say there’s a war on cops? Our army is bigger. Our army is stronger. Our brotherhood has been fighting this war a hell of a lot longer than these thugs have and we learn from every single mistake. We won’t lose this war. We won’t falter in the fight. We will lose damn good men along the way, but we owe it to those men to keep fighting.

Hold the line, Brothers, we need to more than ever.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Book Review

So this review might be about 7 years too late, but its only a few days before the movie hits. If you haven’t read Ready Player One yet, you still have time to get it in before the movie comes out.

I had never heard of this book until a few months ago when the IT guy from the department mentioned it. He was an 80’s kid who grew up with the old cabinet arcade games, D&D, and some of the best movies of the last 50 years.

The book is based around Wade Watts. A kid in the not so distant future in a world where everyone’s lives have gotten so bleak and dreary that they escape into a massive multiplayer online world called the Oasis. When the creator of the Oasis dies, he leaves his incredible fortune to whoever can solve a series of riddles and challenges that he has hidden throughout the online world. We follow Wade, through his online persona- Parzival, as he builds friendships, relationships, and rivalries with people all through the Oasis. Parzival is just another unremarkable kid, living his dreary lives both in and out of the Oasis. That is until he is the first to solve the first riddle.

I may have enjoyed the book a little more if I was born 5-10 years earlier. A lot of the references pre-date me. That being said, I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as this since I read The Martian a few years ago. The book has action, adventure, friendship, loyalty and betrayal, and enough nostalgia references to take you on a trip down memory lane. It’s a quick read once it hooks you. My biggest worry is that the movie will disappoint.

You can get the book as a mass market paperback for less than 10 bucks. Maybe you can find it used for much less. I highly recommend it!

“Huh?” My Cop Life with Hearing Loss

I’m a cop with a “disability.” Shortly after I was born, I suffered a reaction to medication that affected the nerves around my ears. I have significant hearing loss, and because of that, I have had my career opportunities limited. At 17 years old, I stood in a Marine Corp recruiting office with my parents blessing, ready to sign my life away. I was determined to make a career out of the Marines. I had my eyes set on boot camp in 2003 and I was specifically requesting a job that would get me into combat. There was nothing else in the world I wanted more. And then I went to MEPS and sat in an old booth with headphones so tight, if I didn’t have tinnitus, my ears would’ve been ringing from the pressure. I guess I missed a few beeps and they kicked me out. Attempts at waivers never quite panned out and eventually the recruiter told me the options were exhausted. I was crushed. My hearing loss was less profound then and I thought I heard everything just fine. I’d performed fine in school. I held conversations just fine. Plan B was community college.

Fast forward to 2016, and holy shit, I knew I was missing a ton. I’d spent years progressively saying “huh?” more and more. I noticed I was dialing up the TV and radio more and more. I was missing whispers on perimeters in the dark. I knew it was a problem. I was terrified to take steps to correct it. I was worried the stigma would end my career in law enforcement. I didn’t know any cops with them. I looked at prices for corrective surgery. I couldn’t afford the $30k per ear or the 6 month recovery. I looked at hearing aid prices. I couldn’t afford that either. My insurance barely touched them. Frankly, I was scared.

In 2017, I finally bit the bullet. I called an audiologist. I had not been to one since college. I tried to join the Army after a few years in college. Same result. That last audiogram was enough to keep me out. I was afraid to see the new results. I even found myself hoping that maybe I just had a blockage in my ear. Maybe it was a tumor or a big ball of wax. I wanted it to be something that could be fixed immediately. Turns out my ears were bad. It wasn’t a quick fix. Or was it? The audiologist told me what she charges and I walked out and never looked back. Then I found an opportunity that literally changed my life.

Did you know that Costco, in addition to being one of my favorite places to shop, has optometrists, pharmacists, and EVEN AUDIOLOGISTS on staff? I had visited the hearing center a few times and picked up brochures every time, but I was still nervous. I called and scheduled an appointment about two weeks out. I went in, got a FREE hearing test, and then the sweet audiologist let me put tester hearing aids in. Holy smokes, I almost cried. I could hear a watch ticking, I could hear my hair brush against my collar, I could hear the hand dryer in the bathroom two hundred feet away behind a closed door. AND IT WAS LOUD! She let me try a few, but I knew what I wanted. I had 4 copies of the brochure in my truck.

Today I wear a ReSound Hearing Aid on each ear. I was able to afford them through generous contributions to my HSA from my employer. It took a few days to get my pair ordered and in stock. But when they arrived, I walked out wearing them after a brief fitting and adjustment. They have replaceable batteries, last a few days, and Costco even sells the batteries cheap! I barely feel them anymore and find myself reaching up to double check they’re in. I’ve even accidentally gotten into a shower a time or two forgetting about them. You know what the coolest part is? They’re Bluetooth capable. I stream music, video games, podcasts, EVEN MY PHONE CALLS directly into my ears! All I do is answer the phone and keep the handset close by. It sits in a cradle in my car and people hear my just fine when I talk in a normal volume. They require minimal maintenance and I drop them in a small desktop dryer every night. I clean them briefly every morning.

Neither ReSound nor Costco paid for or requested I sing their praises. They probably won’t even read this post. I wrote it because they changed my life. They saved my life. I can hear my kid laugh at full volume. I hear birds in the morning. I can watch TV after the fiancé goes to bed without her wrapping a pillow around her ears. I can still take them out and turn them off and sit enjoying a quiet peace that those without hearing loss may never experience. I work every day now confident in my ability to hear my fellow officers. I can sit through trainings and learn from the instructor rather than reading the materials. I’ll say it again, ReSound hearing aids saved my career and forever changed my life.

If you are reading this and you think you may have hearing loss, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about hearing aids. I’m by no means an expert, but I know what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a Costco hearing center. They’ll bend over backwards for you, and all you’ll pay for is the hearing aids and the batteries. They were wonderful.

I’m a cop who technically has a “disability,” but after accepting it, addressing it, and moving past it, I wish I’d done it a long time ago. Don’t waste time getting the full enjoyment out of life.

The picture attached are the ones I have. Mine are a slate gray. I swear they’re smaller than they look and I don’t feel them at all any more!

Resound Hearing Aids

Always Growing, Jones Loflin

Always Growing—How to Be a Strong Leader in Any Season

Jones Loflin

As any cop will tell you, we assume a leadership role the day we hit the road. I spent too long assuming I would pick it all up as I went along. Turns out there is a whole world of leadership resources out there. In the past 2 years, I have been picking up a ton of books on leadership, and this past Christmas, my future in-laws were kind enough to indulge my reading habits. I received a book called Always Growing- How to be a Strong Leader in Any Season. It’s a fictional account of “David” accepting a leadership role at his company. Facing challenges with his new team, he turns to his sister, “Kelly,” who runs a successful orchard. What follows are a multitude of conversations between David and Kelly and David and his team mates. Kelly gives valuable lessons to David about agriculture that David metaphorically applies to the business world. It’s cheesy and very eye-roll inducing at times, but I’ll be damned if a lot of it didn’t make sense. Broken down into 4 parts: Grow, Cultivate, Prune, and Harvest; David learns lessons along the way to make his team as successful as possible. He “Grows” the team by making a plan, figuring out what his team needs to implement the plan, and providing the right environment to promote growth. He “Cultivates” his team by staying involved in the plan and ensuring nothing interferes with the growth. He “Prunes” his team helping them cut out things that might not contribute the most to their growth. Finally, he “Harvests.” The “Harvest” is the reaping of the rewards and celebrating the results.

As far as law enforcement, I think the most significant section to me was the section on “Pruning.” Starting out, cops need to establish their roots. They need to get a good foundation of all aspects of law enforcement to build on. I think as we cops start to grow, we all naturally start to find a niche that we enjoy. We might need to start pruning things out to make ourselves the most effective contributing member of our team. I’ve worked on squads where nobody focuses and just wants to do it all. I’ve also worked on squads where everybody has a skill set that stands out. We do a lot of work on our own out here, but when we combine the skills and efforts of everyone on the squad, we can get more done. We have guys who are great at dope work, we have guys who are great at interviewing, guys who are great at DUI investigations. To get to where we all are, we’ve had to decide where we wanted to go, and start saying no to opportunities that might stretch us too thin. We’ve had to self prune to make sure we can focus our energies on things we are best at. The author says to “prune at the first sign of undesirable outcomes.” I think from a leadership standpoint, this is key. Personally, I have had to make decisions on what to prune in my own career. I personally think I have good people skills. I removed myself from the Emergency Response Team and since then have moved on as an Instructor and a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator. I knew I could never be a negotiator if I was still on the team, so I had to prune in one place to grow in another.

To summarize, I liked the book. It was a very quick and easy read. I may never read the whole book again, and it might not be the first book I hand to someone else, but it has a lot of valuable information and I’d definitely recommend it if you get a chance to read it. The end of the book summarizes all the points made throughout and those points are pretty simple to understand without all of the context. Jones Loflin brings a lot to the table with this book as far as leadership principles. It’s very metaphor heavy, but it’s not as exhausting of a read as most leadership books. I’d give it a 7/10.

Gideon Falls, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

Every town has a secret; but the secrets of Gideon Falls may be more sinister than others. Father Wilfred has been sent to lead the town’s church after it’s  leader, Father Tom, died mysteriously. What mystery does Father Tom’s death hold? In this first issue, Father Wilfred is unwillingly drawn into the darkness. Alternatively, we see Norton, with a deeper motivation to delve into Gideon Falls’ evils. Is Norton’s motivation pure or purely the product of mental illness? Will it really matter in the end? Gideon Falls, the latest from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, the powerhouse team from Green Arrow reunite to bring a new horror book to Image Comics. From just the first issue, I highly recommend adding this book to your Descender and Royal City pulls. Sorrentino’s vivid beautiful art style, combined with Lemire’s ability to introduce story lines that will inevitably collide, create a book I am honestly excited about picking up going forward. Debuting in March 2018. Contact your local comic shop for more details.