Friday, January 27, 2012

Not strange in San Antonio: Remembering Edward White

He died 45 years ago today.

Who was he? He was this guy.

He was an astronaut. He was the first American to ever walk in space. He was from San Antonio. And he died on this day in 1967.

In the Apollo 1 capsule.

His death -- along with those of fellow astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Roger Chaffee -- were very tragic, but their passing woke NASA up to some very important changes that needed to be made in order to make space travel much, much safer for everyone else who came after them.

Thank you, Col. White. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten. Your family can be very proud of you. San Antonio can be proud of you. And we are.

We are.

Ponying up phony bills

Attention, all workers of fast food shops, gas stations, retail stores, and like establishments: Always -- always -- be suspicious of people who use very large bills to pay for small items.

Like drinks. (Emphases below are added, of course.)
According to a police report, the robber ordered a root beer float about 10:30 p.m. at the [Sonic] restaurant in the 1600 block of General McMullen Drive, paid with a $100 bill and told the victim to keep $3 as tip.

When the car hop went through his money to make change for a $20 bill at the customer's request, he noticed the $100 bill felt fake and confronted the customer, the report states.

They argued, with the customer pocketing the possibly phony $100, pulling out another $100 bill but refusing to hand it over, and finally threatening the car hop with a knife.
(from the Express-News)

You shouldn't wait until the money feels fake to get suspicious. Anytime anyone orders one drink and tries to pay with a Benjamin, you might want to start considering him with a wary eye. Right away.

You just might.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Someone who should have thought a little more

Have you ever been stopped by the police?

It's OK, most of us have. When you got stopped, though, were you given a ticket? If so, did you try to fight the ticket, take defensive driving, plead "nolo contendre", or any of the other customary options to resolve the violation?

If you did any of these, then congratulations! You did what was expected and customary, and most likely that ticket is no longer a part of your life.

Oh, but did you also lose several thousand dollars along the way? Do you think maybe that bad cop who gave you a ticket stole your money? Well, if so, you should give your next actions a lot of thought before you carry them out, because law enforcement takes a dim view of responses that are atypical.
Bexar County constables say [Alberto] DeLaTorre accused one of their deputies of stealing $5,000 in cash from him during that stop. An investigation yielded a different story.

According to the warrant, the 36-year-old was clocked doing 79 miles per hour in a 45 miles-per-hour speed area. Deputies say he was pulled over. The deputy reportedly smelled burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle. He says the argumentative suspect was asked out of his vehicle. He was then ticketed and released.

On Jan 11, the perjury suspect filed a complaint against the deputy alleging cash was stolen from his car during the traffic stop. The warrant says constables reminded him that the traffic stop was recorded on a patrol car camera. DeLaTorre allegedly stuck to his story and emphasized that law enforcement was corrupt.

Investigators say they reviewed the patrol car video and found nothing to support the man's claim.
(from KENS-5)

Note the term "perjury suspect" that the news story uses. That means the authorities did not like his lying to them, especially after they had given him a chance to take his story back after being reminded about the presence of video cameras.

That guy is lucky he was released at all during the initial stop in December. Going nearly 80 mph in a 45 zone, with a smell of marijuana wafting around your car? That's almost begging to be taken in for a free tour of the booking facilities before the night is out. But the constable who pulled him over was nice enough to let the guy go with a ticket, and for his gracious leniency he gets repaid with an accusation of theft.

I hope that officer continues to be lenient to people he pulls over, despite the treatment he got from this suspect. Most traffic violators aren't out to make life difficult for police officers, and almost none of them would go to this much trouble to get back at them.

I hope he remembers that. Especially if he happens to pull me over someday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Climbing the courthouse

Really? Again?
Two people were arrested early Tuesday morning after police caught them on the roof of the Bexar County Courthouse.

Police said someone noticed the couple on the roof around 4:15 a.m. and called authorities.

Police arrived and found a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman on a landing of the roof.

Investigators believe they were planning to break into the building and said they used a fire escape to get on the roof.

Police said they would not be charged with trespassing but face charges of public intoxication.
(from KSAT-12)

What is so fascinating about the top of the Bexar County Courthouse that makes people want to climb up there? Why that pile and not the surrounding structures? Does it have something to do with defiance of authority specifically, or is it just a building that looks so interesting it must be climbed?

And why charge the two in this story with public intoxication but not trespassing? Do they actually need to break into the building (as the other dorks did back in October) before they can get charged with trespassing? They are on the roof, and they are obviously up to no good, so hit them with the trespass charge along with PI, or let them go free. The PI charge makes less sense as they are not so much in public and very much so on property where they are not supposed to be.

In any case, they should be more careful. And they should give more thought to where they seek to share moments alone, at least when they are a bit sloshed in the downtown area.

Talking about the weather, 910 edition

We are almost there!

Just 90 short comments to go! We can do it!

(From WOAI-TV. Background here and here.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"S.A. police chief admits errors on night of woman's murder"

This is bad all around.
San Antonio police Chief William McManus admitted on Tuesday to "unfortunate errors" made while handling calls hours before officers found a woman raped and murdered early Friday morning.

McManus explained that a caller reported a disturbance overnight at 835 Menchaca St., but that the call taker recorded the address as 1135 Menchaca St. The incorrect address was passed on to the dispatcher, who in turn sent officers to the wrong home.

"The initial error was dispatching to 1135 as opposed to 835," McManus said. "The officers were sidetracked from that."

Police received another report shortly after about a possible assault at nearby Elmendorf and Micklejohn. McManus said officers heard screaming from a home, were let inside by a woman and found a man flushing drugs down the toilet.
(from KENS-5)

That toilet-flushing scene was not what the original call was about. The original call was about something else, something that ended badly, and something that wasn't discovered until it was way, way too late.

I don't mean to beat up on the police here, but an important lesson can be taken away from this: Emergency responders can make mistakes, and those mistakes could turn out very bad for you if you are the one calling for help. Be prepared to fend for yourself, and be prepared for the possibility that help may not be coming your way. It may be the most necessary mental shift you ever make.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dinosaur afternoon

Now here's something you don't see everyday.

(Tyrannosaurus rex metallicus spotted somewhere along Bandera Road.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fighting fires at the water works

Let's hope they weren't hampered by water restrictions.
A fire at a San Antonio Water System Station on Sunday has caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage and fire officials said it may take a few weeks to fix.

It was around noon on Sunday, when a fire crew driving back from a meeting downtown actually spotted the smoke coming from the SAWS pumping station at the Olmos Basin and responded right away.

Fire officials said the chlorine at the station was not effected [sic] and that they put the fire out fairly quickly, but still, crews had to deal with a lot of smoke.
(from KSAT-12)

Friday, January 06, 2012

R.I.P. Mud Festival

The City of San Antonio decided not to drain the River Walk this year for its annual cleaning. Matter of fact, they claim to be doing such a good job at keeping the tourist attraction clean that they will need to drain it less often in the future.

That's good, having a cleaner River Walk and all. But there is a sad casualty to this development: the Mud Festival.
The Mud Festival is history — at least the version we have come to know since 1987.

“They’re not draining the river and we just thought it was time to regroup,” Marcie Hernandez, the Paseo del Rio Association’s marketing director, said.

The Paseo del Rio is discontinuing the festival which has traditionally coincided with the draining of the river at the start of the year. The city has done such a thorough job cleaning the river in recent years that no draining was necessary in 2012 (although the newer Museum Reach is in the middle of its cleaning). The Paseo del Rio decided this was as good a time as any to shake things up.

(Plus, the city hasn’t allowed the festival to be in the actual mud in years.)


Next year, the Paseo del Rio will start a new tradition called the River Festival — taking the place of the Mud Fest — in which aspects of the various River Walk events throughout the year will be incorporated into one event, Hernandez said.
(from The Downtown Blog)

I hope the new "River Festival" is fun. And I hope it's successful. But the name just won't have that same bit of strangeness that made the Mud Festival so endearing, even if it never was as popular as other city parties throughout the year.