Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Murder in East Harlem - Police Officer Randolph Holder, NYPD

On Tuesday evening, the NYPD lost another hero, Police Officer Randolph Holder. He is the 4th NYPD Officer who has been killed in the line of duty in the last 11 months.

Officer Holder and other officers were responding to a reports of shots fired. At some point they encountered a suspect, who was fleeing the scene, and engaged in a gun fight during which Officer Holder was mortally wounded.

Officer Holder had emigrated from Guyana and was a 3rd generation police officer. His father and grandfather were both officers back in Guyana. Tragically, as news emerged that he had died from his wounds, some took to social media to applaud his death. As I read the commentary on some news sites I was sickened to see the vile remarks that some were quick to spew. However, the truth is that these insignificant wretches, and their opinions, mean nothing. They are nothing more than a minor blight on society, clawing and scratching for their fifteen minutes of fame.

I would not denigrate the memory of this hero, by giving their remarks another venue. Instead, I choose to remember the sacrifices of those lost. A legacy of honor and sacrifice that embodies the NYPD motto: Fidelis Ad Mortem

It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, but how they lived.

Unlike those who mock the sacrifices made by the men and women of this nation's law enforcement community; who hide behind free speech in order  to denigrate their service, the real heroes, like Officer Holder, willingly go into harms way to protect these cowards. We, as the majority, must never forget them and we must use our collective voice to drown out the rabble who seek only to divide and conquer this great nation.

God bless the sheepdog who protect us.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Monday, October 19, 2015

Anatomy of a Political Letter

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post entitled: How “Never Forget the Heroes of 9/11” turned into “Who?” In it I chronicled how Congress failed to permanently extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which were brought up as H.R.1786 and S.928

It is amazing to me how so many of those, who have chosen to not sponsor either bill, were all too eager to wrap themselves up in the flag on September 11th and remind all of their social media followers to #NeverForget This included my local representative, Congressman Rodney Davis (IL. – 13).
Not to let things rest, I decided to contact him directly and ask why he hadn’t co-sponsored the House Bill. I anticipated a positive response, seeing as I know him personally, so you can imagine my surprise when I received the reply letter from his office. To be fair, I know that he didn’t write this letter, as I saw him in town, zipping by me on the road. That being said, his name is on the document so it lands in his lap.

The letter opens with him thanking me for taking the time to contact him about the bill. So far so good, but then it begins to go south. The next paragraph stars off with “As you may know” and goes on to tell me about the matter in question.  Of course I know about the topic, remember I contacted you about it. I don’t make it a habit of writing to people about things I don’t have a clue on.

Then we make a left turn and completely change the subject. The third paragraph has nothing to do about the Zadroga Bill, but he wants me to know how he stands with 1st responders. He proceeds to tell me how last year he introduced legislation that would “enable veterans with medical training to more easily pursue careers as EMT’s.”

HUH? How the heck does this have anything even remotely to do with what I wrote you?

I asked one simple question: Why haven’t you co-sponsored H.R. 1786, a bill that would provide much needed funding for health problems 9/11 1st responders are dealing with, and I get a reply that talks about an employment program? Are you for real? Who the hell do you have working for you in D.C.?

You see, this is exactly why nothing ever gets done in Washington, D.C., because politicians never answer simple questions. Ask them the price of milk, they tell you how they support cattle farmers in Minnesota. Then they wonder why the latest polling puts them in the low teens when it comes to approval.  Americans are sick and tired of the weasel responses, and overall lip service, they get from their elected representatives.

But the best line is the one in paragraph four in which he ‘assures’ me that he will keep my views in mind should the bill come to the full House for a vote? Really? You won’t co-sponsor it to improve its chances of reaching the floor, but you’re going to keep my views in mind should it. This from the man that sponsored H.R. 3745: Keep Your Chiropractor Act. 

Wow, we have thousands of 9/11 1st responders dying because they had the audacity to respond to the worst act of terror ever committed on U.S. soil, but, if the cancer doesn’t kill you, you can continue seeing your chiropractor. SMH

Paragraph five also gets an honorable mention for insanity when it says “if you are facing a challenge with a federal agency…” What like challenges in dealing with my congressional representative?

Here’s a news flash, you’re going to be campaigning to get re-elected soon and I can personally ‘assure’ you that I will sure as hell keep this in mind when casting my vote.

Update: On October 26th, Congressman Davis finally signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill. I guess you can get something done in D.C. with a little pressure !!

Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_G_Nelson

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Want to see Perfect Pawn made into a movie ?

There is a website called the IF List, which stands for the ImagineFilm list. The IF List is a platform for movie and casting ideas. Whether you are a fan, author, aspiring actor, or industry professional, The IF List lets you discover potential films and TV shows, make proposals, and gain popular support for the ideas you want to become reality.

The NYC based company was founded by life-long friends and business partners with a shared passion for movie ideas. Inspired by the concept of a universal database for casting, the founders spent over a year rigorously planning and developing the product that would become the Imagine Film List. The core team is made up of dedicated artists and thinkers who bring together experience from multiple disciplines, including product design, web development, filmmaking, storytelling, marketing, and brand strategy. The company is committed to building a valuable creative platform and resource for the arts and entertainment industry. In this role, they are backed up by a number of partners including Backstage and Studio 4.

My book, Perfect Pawn, is listed on the site and I am asking for your help. By visiting this link: Support Perfect Pawn, you are able to do three things:

  1. Support Perfect Pawn’s efforts to become a movie development.
  2. Select actors who you feel would best be suited for the main roles.
  3. Write an endorsement for the project.

We have all read books that were so good, we wanted them to be turned into a movie. Here is your chance to do just that.

I would really appreciate it if you would take just one moment to support my book.

Andrew G. Nelson

Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_G_Nelson

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How “Never Forget the Heroes of 9/11” turned into “Who?”

On September 30th, 2015, Congress failed to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act H.R.1786 and S.928. To say that I am a little upset would be a gross understatement. I am embarrassed that our elected representatives would turn a blind eye to those of us who continue to suffer to this day.

I am one of the lucky ones. My symptoms are insignificant compared to those suffering from horrific ailments, like my old NYPD partner who developed cancer of the appendix. On 9/11 we lost 23 members of the NYPD, since then we have lost dozens more. The same is true for the PAPD and FDNY. Countless more, from civilian survivors to construction workers, have also paid with their lives.

I need to tip my hat to a fellow named John Feal, who started the FealGood Foundation. John is one of the construction workers who responded to the WTC and lost half a foot as a result of his work. He and a friend of mine, retired ESU Detective Glenn Klein, along with many others, have led the fight to assist those who continue to suffer from 9/11 related illness. Likewise, I applaud comedian Jon Stewart for his stalwart support. I’ve never been a Jon Stewart fan, but he earned my utmost respect by not turning his back on us.

Congress had an opportunity to truly #Neverforget when the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act came up for re-authorization. Certainly, based on the amount of tweets and Facebook posts that were made, by our representatives, on 9/11 about ‘never forgetting,’ you would have thought this was a no-brainer.

Imagine my shock when, on September 30th, it was not extended.

Unlike many things that originate in Washington, this program is run pretty well. So well that the program will be able to continue financially, at least for the short term, although most involved admit that some programs will begin to be affected as early as January / February. It seems inconceivable that those dealing with the medical hardships from the attack would be left out in the cold.

What happened to all those politicians who expressed their annual outrage and promised to “Never Forget”?

Several years ago, retired NYPD Lieutenant named Bill Dement Jr., wrote the book "Delay, Deny, Hope They Die: World Trade Center FirstResponders - The Battle for Health Care and Compensation."  Lt. Dement passed away in August 2014 from illness attributed to 9/11. After the re-authorization failed, the title seems to be more than a bit appropriate.

Perhaps someone should write one titled: We Were Heroes.

What saddens me even more, are the names of those who chose not to co-sponsor the bill. You would think that both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat, would have been eager to protect those suffering from the greatest terror attack in U.S. history. You would think, but you would also be wrong.

Honestly, I had expected the majority of the support for this bill to come from republicans. After all, they tend to rally around the flag and surround themselves with heroes. So who better to champion a cause like this? Apparently Messrs. Boehner and McConnell didn’t get the memo. No, those championing this cause turned out to be Mmes Maloney and Gillibrand.

Of the three current republican presidential candidates, only Lindsey Graham co-sponsored. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both did not. I have been an ardent supporter of Ted Cruz, but I can no longer support him. In fact, many republicans did not co-sponsor either the House or Senate bills. My favorite is Sen. James Risch (R – Id) who co-sponsored on June 22nd, then withdrew on June 23rd.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself in agreement with the likes of Senator’s Durbin, Feinstein, Frankel, Boxer, Warren and Schumer. I felt as if I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

I’d like to say that my own congressman, Rodney Davis (R-Il), someone whom I personally know, had co-sponsored the bill, but he didn’t. I’ll remember that come election time and I will remind a lot of my friends as well. Once again, I found myself surrounded by democratic members like Charles Rangel, Alan Grayson, and Sheila Jackson-Lee.

This has really hit home for me and is causing me to rethink my traditional support. I’ve been a republican since 1982 and had the honor of voting for Ronald Reagan. A lot has changed since then and I’m thinking now might be a good time to go independent. It’s time we start voting for the individual and not the party.

To be fair, this is just about those who didn’t sign-up to ‘co-sponsor’ the respective bills. Theoretically, someone could have chosen not to be a co-sponsor, but still vote for the bill. However, since Congress failed to act, how they would have ‘voted’ is a moot point. The truth is that these bills should have been given a straight-forward, up/down vote. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Why did the republican controlled Congress fail to act? The answer is: I don’t know.

Perhaps they were just too busy being politicians. Heaping praise on the 9/11 heroes, when the cameras were around, then turning a blind eye when the moment passed. Perhaps you should click on the links above and find out whether or not your representatives supported the bills. If they didn’t, ask them why not. The bills are currently in limbo, and require pressure from us to move forward.

Here is some fair warning to those up on the Hill, who waved the flag, said the right things, and claimed to support the ‘heroes of 9/11’……… Actions speak louder than words and we saw what you did when it mattered. Each and every one of you will come up for re-election and we will certainly Never Forget!

UpdateOn October 26th, Congressman Davis finally signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill. I guess you can get something done in D.C. with a little pressure !!

Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_G_Nelson

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Breaking The Rules: Chase Utley's late hit ends NY Met's Reuben Tejada's Season

Living in the Midwest, I don’t get a lot of opportunity to watch the NY Met’s play ball. I grew up a Met’s fan back in the 70’s. To be honest, it’s a hard life. Unlike Yankee fans, who always seem to have a seat at the post-season table, Met’s fans have to claw, scratch and fight for every appearance.

Up until last night’s 7th inning debacle against the Dodgers, the only thing that really annoyed me was the strike zone graphic which threatened to drive me further into insanity than my kids have previously done. Nothing says ‘WTF?’ better than a graphic that repeatedly shows a Ball and a Strike, side by side and outside the strikes zone……Personally, I’d rather they ditch the damn thing and let me go back to hating umpires for ‘imagined’ reasons.  That was until the 7th inning.

With one man out and the count 1 & 2, and runners on 1st (Chase Utley) and 3rd (Enrique Hernandez), the Dodger’s Howie Kendrick connected for a hit up the middle against NY Met’s pitcher, Bartolo Colon. The ball was fielded by 2nd baseman Daniel Murphy who tossed the ball to the SS, Ruben Tejada. Tejada approached the bag, extending his foot out to ‘tap’ the bag as he turned, preparing to throw to 1st base for the potential inning ending double play.

In baseball, there is something called the neighborhood play. The application of this developed because of the common practice of a sliding runner colliding with the fielder at second base, risking/causing injury. On a double play attempt, the fielder must throw the ball to first base, which would generally require a step directly into the path of the incoming runner. On a close forced out at second, a fielder often cannot avoid a collision while completing a throw to first base unless he stays some distance away from second base. For the sake of safety, umpires allowed fielders to score the first out of an attempted double play without actually touching second base as long as it appeared to be an out, i.e. the fielder made a clean catch, turn, and throw near second base before the runner arrived. This allowed the tradition of the take-out slide to continue while still providing a means of safety for middle infielders.

Unfortunately for Tejada, the Dodger’s Chase Utley decided to try and take him out, to prevent the double play. When I say take-out, I mean take-out. I haven’t seen a hit that bad since the Cincinnati Red’s Pete Rose went into NY Met’s Bud Harrelson in an eerily similar play. In fact, it was in the 1973 NLCS. In trying to break up the double play, Rose went in high and hard, elbowing Harrelson. Words were exchanged and then punches. What ensued was a bench clearing brawl.

Last night, the brawl never came, because Tejada never got up off the field, suffering from a broken right (Fibula) leg. Like Rose, Utley came in high and hard. Tejada, who fielded the ball as he ran toward the base reached his leg out to tap the base (the replay would later show that his foot landed somewhere around an inch or two away). In doing so, his momentum carried his body toward the outfield.  At that time he had his back to first base (and the runner) and was in the process of spinning around to throw, when Utley came crashing in. To say it was a ‘slide’ would be a gross distortion of the sport I know.  Utley never began to slide until he was almost parallel with the base. Tejada, with his body twisted toward 1st and left leg high off the ground, was slammed into, causing his body to flip up into the air and come unceremoniously crashing down.

Utley was called out and proceeded to jog off the field, leaving Tejada writhing on the ground in pain.

As you watch the replay two things are abundantly clear. First, Utley had no intention of sliding into 2nd base. His path took him away from the base and directly at Tejada. Second, Utley never even reached out to touch the base. Replay after replay shows that he made no attempt to ever touch the base.

As a result of the busted play, the Dodgers Enrique Hernandez scored from 3rd and Kendrick arrived safely at 1st.

Had Tejada gotten up, play would have resumed with Utley being out. However, as personnel tended to the injured Met, the Dodger’s took the opportunity to watch the replay and challenge the call. The neighborhood play is non-reviewable, however a ‘forced out’ is. I’m not sure which aspect of the play the umps felt didn’t fit a neighborhood play, but the play was reviewed for the forced out and the runner was determined to be safe, because Tejada didn’t touch the base.

Now this is where it gets a bit fuzzy. Since the play was reviewed for the ‘forced out’ and it was ruled that Tejada didn’t touch the base, it was deemed to be an officiating error and Utley was awarded the base, even though he never touched it. Why was it determined to not be a neighborhood play? Good question, let’s go to MLB Chief Baseball Officer, Joe Torre, himself a former player and coach.
According to Joe, who was asked to explain what basis umpires viewed the slide as legal and not constituting illegal interference, it was a “judgment play.”

I read the interview and I have to tell you that it looks like a lot of back-pedaling, mumbo-jumbo, political speak. In other words, MLB is engaging in a little CYA. See if you can follow along with me.

First, we are told that Utley was out, which would have fallen under the unreviewable neighborhood play.

Then we are told that this “wasn't a neighborhood play, because [Tejada] spinning around and then reaching for the ball and stuff like that.”

So then that allowed the play to be reviewed for the ‘forced out’ where the replay official in New York determines that Utley is safe, because Tejada hadn’t touched the bag.
Only problem is that, aside from “spinning around,” in order to throw to 1st, there was no “reaching for the ball and stuff like that.”  

Tejada had control of the ball in his throwing hand the entire time, even when he ended up on his back. He was attempting to pivot, in order to throw to 1st to complete the double play, and that is the neighborhood play. For anyone to claim, especially Joe Torre, that Tejada couldn’t make the throw, is ridiculous. Don’t believe me, then you, like Joe, need to go and cue up some Derek Jeter film.

I’m not claiming that Ruben Tejeda is Derek Jeter, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Maybe Ruben could have pulled off the miracle play that would have made this game memorable for another reason.

What bothers me even more is that later in the interview, Torre admitted that Utley could have been tagged at any time and would have been out. Seriously, Joe? Your umps screwed up, calling out Utley, and now you’re saying that some player should have just run down Utley, as he was leaving the field, and tagged him out, even though they had all heard or seen him be called out, and then they (the Dodger’s) couldn’t have challenged the call….. Wait, this sounds like a scam.

You know what is bigger BS than this whole judgment / interpretation nonsense? This: MLB Official Rule 7.09(E) which states: If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.

They say that some rules are “meant to be broken,” but apparently some are also meant to never be enforced.

For anyone who watched the play, it is abundantly clear that Chase Utley willfully and deliberately interfered with Ruben Tejada by attempting to break up the double play.  Even Torre admits that, in his opinion, the slide was late. Whether or not Tejada could have made the throw is a moot point. Utley should have been called out, as well as Kendrick, to end the inning. The Met’s would have retained the 2-1 lead.

The slide was egregious, even according to Torre who admitted that he was still reviewing the film to determine whether to take action against Utley. I guess it takes time to measure the outrage and determine the appropriate MLB response.

In 2011, during an extra-inning game in San Francisco, Marlin’s player Scott Cousins took a course slightly inside the third-base line and initiated contact with Buster Posey, the Giants' franchise catcher and one of MLB’s biggest stars, on a play at the plate. In the collision, Posey's leg shattered and the Giants' season never recovered. It led to the adoption of MLB Rule 7.13 which states, in part, that “a runner may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher."  Similarly, catchers are not allowed to block the plate, unless they are in possession of the ball. If the runner violates the rule, he's out. If the catcher does, the runner is safe. 

One thing is for certain, if the shortstop’s name last night was Derek Jeter, and not Reuben Tejada, Torre would be taking immediate action, but then again, this is just the Met’s and not his beloved Yankees.

As for us Met’s fans, as the old Tug McGraw saying goes: “Ya Gotta Believe!”

Follow me on Twitter at: @Andrew_G_Nelson

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Unplugged – Lessons learned after a hard drive crash

It’s been nearly a month since I turned on my computer and came to the stark realization that the hard drive had kicked the technological equivalent of the proverbial bucket.

I admit that a mild form of panic set in as I struggled to remember the last time I had backed up my files. It had been fairly recently, but I guesstimated that I was most likely going to lose at least 10-15% of the more recent files.

At this point I did what most semi computer literate folks would do. I begged, threatened, cajoled and desperately attempted to revive the computer for one last go, hoping that I could grab those files. Alas, it was not to be. I came to the conclusion that that the HD had suffered a physical flaw within the operating system section.  Every time that I tried to engage the repair program it crashed, restarted the computer and took me back to square one. I grudgingly accepted the fact that I was going to have to replace the HD.

About a week later I headed up to Springfield and picked up a replacement drive and a transfer cable at one of the big computer stores. Personally, I think they are staffed by a bunch of pretentious kids, so I won’t give them a plug. They had the drive, but not the x-fer cable, but advised me that their staff could take a look at the drive to see if they could recover the files, for a fee…… Uhm, no thanks.

When I got home I hit up E-Bay and found the item I needed and ordered it. I hope that the cable would allow me to slave the HD and view the files. When the cable arrived, a week later (thank you USPS for the outstanding job on 1st class mail delivery!), I set about taking the computer apart. Once I had the new hard drive installed I attempted to obtain a copy of the Windows 7 IOS. In the past, this meant a quick trip to Digital River to download the file. However, I soon found that that Microsoft decided back in February to sever their ties with them and now hosts their own files. Ok, no biggie, I went to Microsoft and prepared to download the file. At least that was my intention.

During the download process, when I was asked, I plugged in my Windows 7 key. Imagine my surprise when I was coldly informed that my key was not recognized. I checked it, even snapping a photo of the Microsoft decal, and re-entered the info. Again, no love.

I made my way to the Microsoft boards where I was informed that Microsoft does not view software, which is pre-loaded into a computer, as a valid key. WTF? Seriously?

I bought a computer, preloaded with a Windows operating system, but since I didn’t buy the system from them, they didn’t view it as legitimate…… Are you friggin kidding me?

No, they are apparently serious, but, for a nominal fee of about $30.00, they would mail one to me.

I was incredulous. Microsoft, that storied tech firm worth somewhere in the area of $175 billion dollars, the very same one who’s founder, Bill Gates, is worth in the area of $75 billion, requires me to send them more money for the honor of getting a copy of the operating system I already own?

My New York came out in all its glory. Bumper sticker / G rated version version: Microsoft, you can kiss my royal Irish ass.

I tried to load a copy from a torrent site, but couldn’t get it to read properly. Frustrated, I went to E-Bay and bought a copy on USB for less than ½ the price. Then I waited. The seller got the item out in the mail the next day, the USPS, leaving up to its stellar reputation for timely deliveries, took another week to bring it to my door.  With that kind of service, I guess we should get ready for another rate increase.

In the interim I meandered over to the HP site and downloaded all the device drivers for my system onto a USB. The consolation is that, should this occur in the future, I now all the necessary software to get back up and running in a timely fashion. Once I had everything in front of me, it took less than a day to get everything up and running. On the positive side, I have none of the pre-loaded garbage that systems generally come with. That should make things run a lot better.

I still have to load a bunch of programs I need, as well as get my A/V software back on. I dread the thought of having to log into all my sites, and enter the 20 gazillion passwords I have. Fortunately, those were all properly backed up on good old fashioned paper.

So what exactly has this month away from technology taught me?

Well, for starters, back up your files regularly. I nearly had a coronary when I realized that one of the books I had been working on might have been lost. Fortunately, the document was able to be recovered as well as a 1st gen cover graphic. So I only had minimal work to do to redo it. Still, the initial stress wasn’t exactly what I would call fun.

That being said, I learned a very valuable lesson: There is life beyond technology, and it is good.

A month away from E-Mails, Twitter, Facebook, etc., didn’t kill me. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. I chucked the whining, bitching and narcissistic posts, which are common to this medium, and felt myself actually begin to relax. I didn’t miss the complaints, the senseless arguing, and mindless posts. In fact, I went so far as to unplug from the TV as well. I didn’t care what was going on in the world, and if I watched anything, it was either a baseball or football game.

I got outside and did real, honest-to-God work. I got my hands dirty. I moved several tons of rock and dirt, with nothing more than a shovel and wheelbarrow, I cut down trees, moved bushes and helped my neighbor stack two cords of wood for the winter. I cleaned my garage and used some of the tools I had been allowing to gather dust. I got more off my to-do list in a couple of weeks, than I managed to do in a year. It was back breaking labor and I loved it. My body hurt more at the end of the day, then after 2 hours spent each day at the gym.

I also found that my family was actually interesting to be around.

No, being away from technology wasn’t a bad thing.

Unfortunately, I knew that I needed to come back to it. It’s kind of hard to run a business and write books when you are not connected. Even when you dread it, you know you still need to do it. It’s the nature of the beast.

So I am back, but on a limited basis. I have come to realize that we spend entirely too much time behind our computer monitors and smart phone screens. We are caught up in the flashy and mindless things of the moment, and don’t realize that a world is passing us by, just outside our window.

I have a list on my desk of the things I want to do before the snow arrives, so I’m going to impose limits on my tech time. I suggest you do the same. Put down that mouse, turn off the device, and go outside for a little while. Grab a tool, before the weather gets too cold, and do something really productive. You’ll find that after a few days you won’t even miss the computer, after a week or so you’ll even dread going back to it. At that point you will realize that there is a lot more to life then pixels on a screen.