Posts belonging to Category Keller Stuff

Holster Your Weapons!

It appears that someone lost a loaded handgun at the Keller-Smithfield playground (oddly called an “activity node” by the city).

On Thursday morning a young boy found a small .22 caliber “pocket” pistol in a sandbox at the Keller Smithfield Activity Node.  He did the right thing by alerting his parent and a call was made to our department.  We seized the loaded handgun and we are working with ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) in an attempt to trace the origin and owner of the pistol. At the present time we do not have an open case of a stolen firearm in Keller that matches the gun found in the sand box.  We believe that someone may have been sitting on the edge of a sandbox and the gun which is designed with a belt or pocket clip was inadvertently dropped.  This was a very serious incident and we are so fortunate that the young boy did the right thing.

—Keller PD E-Safe News, April 20, 2007

I saw the email yesterday afternoon and didn’t think that much more about it until I reached the Keller-Smithfield end of the trail when walking Boots and noticed the Channel 11 news van.  They seemed to be wrapping up their 6:00pm live coverage when I arrived. 

This incident is a good reminder to all people who carry handguns that they have a duty to retain control of those handguns at all times.  Aside from the safety issue of a child finding the weapon, there could also be legal liability.  If the person who had the gun didn’t have a CHL, then there could be a UCW charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year in jail and up to $4000 fine).  And there is also the possibility of a charge under Texas Penal Code §46.13 (making a firearm accessible to a child, which is a Class C misdemeanor if no one is injured), although this section requires proving “criminal negligence.”

As for whether BATFE will be able to trace the owner, it will depend on how the current owner purchased it, or whether it was stolen (and not reported).  If the current owner is the first owner and purchased it from a FFL licensee, then the BATFE can follow the trail from manufacturer to dealer.  If it has been sold multiple times, then it will depend on the entire chain being documented.  FFL licensees are required to document all sales, but private sellers have no such requirement.  I know some private sellers who document all sales and some who don’t.  Of course if it’s stolen, the trail will end with the last documented purchaser.  Which is a good reason to report all thefts as soon as you’re aware of them.  If I were the police I’d be suspicious of someone reporting their .22 pocket pistol stolen today, given the news reports (aside from Channel 11, it was also on all the other local stations last night and this morning).

Finally, this also points out the benefits of good record keeping.  I keep records of the model and serial numbers for all my guns*.  Should any of them be stolen I will be able to give specific information to the police for tracing and recovery, as well as for insurance purposes.

* This brings up an interesting problem for some gun owners, in that most don’t quite trust the government not to abrogate the BoR at some point and decide to confiscate all guns.  So there are likely a good number of “off the books” guns purchased through anonymous private sales and not recorded anywhere.  Gun banners should keep this in mind should they attempt to enforce any such Utopian gun-control fantasies. 

Putting On The Brakes

I see in the letters to the editor section of today’s Keller Citizen that not everyone agrees with me that it’s about time that TxDOT fixed the dangerous left-turn problems at several intersections along Keller Parkway.

Seeing red
Ah, Big Brother is at work in Keller again. The Feds are now forcing us to use 10 percent ethanol blend in our gas, even though it results in a 10 percent reduction in gas mileage, and is doing nothing to reduce our “dependence” on foreign oil. And they are talking about forcing us to use 30 percent ethanol. With refineries running at reduced output on purpose, because nothing is better than big profits a year before an election, and gas prices again approaching $3 a gallon, TxDOT (with Keller city officials cheerleading) wants us to burn our gas idling at an intersection for 3-5 minutes waiting to turn left even if the nearest oncoming traffic is a quarter mile away!

Now I may grant TxDOT’s premise that it can be a little difficult to see oncoming traffic coming from the west if there is the ubiquitous gravel-semi or SUV in the east-bound left turn lane while you are trying to turn left onto Rufe Snow, but I’m not buying that that premise holds at the Keller/Smithfield or Anita/Bourland intersections. As one who waits to turn left at Anita at least four times a week, sitting at that intersection when there is clearly no traffic coming – I can see almost all the way to 377 – is beyond frustrating.

Now, I’m all for the Keller PD enforcing the speed limits and busting red-light runners, but that is a separate issue. Good grief, are Keller drivers stupider than Southlake drivers? The intersection at 1709 and Carroll Avenue is very busy and, I hate to give them any ideas …but they haven’t felt the need to impede traffic there, yet, by putting up a “left turn on arrow only” sign.

If you feel as I do, may I suggest an aggressive letter campaign to TxDOT and your Keller councilman to put the “left turn yield on green” signs back up at Keller/Smithfield and Anita/Bourland. Maybe even some civil disobedience is in order?

James Lenaburg

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Lenaburg’s letter.  I have nearly been hit a number of times at all three intersections.  So much so that I generally avoid those sections of Keller Parkway if I have a choice. 

Both the intersections at Rufe Snow and Keller-Smithfield suffer from the offset problem, and both have high accident rates.  Now I will grant his argument that the intersection at Anita/Bourland doesn’t suffer from the same vision/offset problem.  But it’s still a dangerous intersection and despite the clear vision I’ve had several near-misses there, not to mention personally witnessing a serious wreck caused by the failure of the left-turning driver to yield (or more accurately, the failure of the driver to stay put, as she had stopped but for some inexplicable reason pulled out in front of a pickup truck that had the green).

As to whether Keller drivers are more “stupid” than those in Southlake, I won’t bother to hazard a guess.  But I will say that they certainly seem more impatient, as evidenced by Mr. Lenaburg’s assertion that having to wait to turn is “beyond frustrating,”  and the numerous near-misses I’ve personally observed at Rufe Snow and Keller-Smithfield.  Many of the near-misses were saved only by the good reflexes of the driver who had the right of way (perhaps local residents with plenty of familiarity with those intersections?).  If oncoming traffic has to slow down to avoid hitting you as you turn left, you’ve failed to properly yield the right-of-way.  By the way…. I’ve come across the aftermath of a couple of accidents caused by people who didn’t grok that whole yield-on-green thing at 1709 and Carroll.  One involved serious damage to one of the vehicles and another was a rollover.  Perhaps that intersection isn’t as safe as you may think?  [I will grant that these were Friday evening incidents, although they were all well before 9:00pm. ]

Anyhow… as I learned long ago, it may seem frustrating to wait at the light, but the amount of time is actually small in comparison to your overall trip, and in the end is far more bearable than being in a collision.  As someone who has been hit twice in the past by drivers who failed to yield right of way through disregarding traffic control devices (i.e. red lights and stop signs), I’m particularly sensitive to this issue.  Consequently I make it a habit to watch for such things.

It’s About Time…

I see that TxDOT is finally putting up “Left On Green Arrow Only” signs at Rufe Snow and 1709.  And from the article in the most recent Keller Citizen, it appears that they will also be doing so at Keller-Smithfield and 1709.  All I can say is that it’s about time they did this. 

Because of the crazy offsets of the turn lanes and the lights at these intersections, people making left turns can be a serious hazard.  Hopefully, once people get used to the signs, we’ll be able to cruise through those intersections without fearing for our lives.

Whippin’ The Hog

There seemed to be an increased police presence yesterday afternoon in the area of Bear Creek Park and Bear Creek Intermediate school.  I saw two patrol cars and the supervisor’s SUV at the school along with several cars patrolling the area. 

But while I was out on the trail I was a bit surprised to hear the distinctive ‘potato potato’ sound of a Harley Davidson motorcycle in the clearing behind me.  I turned around to see a Keller PD motorcycle officer coming down the path, whipping that big Harley back and forth around the curves.  big surprise

He disappeared somewhere in the trees near Bear Ridge and Bear Run, so I couldn’t tell if he went down the rest of the path or if he got back on the road over there.  Still, I’d be curious as to where he was going and why he was on the trail.  While these guys are well trained, it’s still a bit dangerous to have a 700-800lb Harley on a four-foot wide trail mixed with pedestrians, dogs, bicycles, and roller-bladers.

Trash Dumping

I saw in today’s Star Telegram that Southlake has decided to dump Allied Waste.

As frustrated competitors looked on, the City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to a new trash service provider and a rate increase without putting the contract out to bid.

The council approved an 18-month contract with Republic Waste Services of Texas, also known as Duncan Disposal, after an informal survey of five area companies.

The contract is valued at $2 million and begins April 30.

“What we need now is good service,” said Councilman Gregory Jones before the 7-0 vote.

“I’m very pleased with the provisions that have been put in this contract.”

The strike certainly didn’t help, coming as it did at a time when customer complaints had been growing over late or missed collections. 

Oddly enough, though, service actually improved for me during the strike!  The replacement drivers seemed to arrive earlier and didn’t throw my trash can willy-nilly in the middle of the street.

As alluded to above, though, my chief complaint is that the regular drivers have a bad habit of throwing my trash can in the street.  Worse, right after the strike ended, I looked out the window and noticed my trash can in the street again.  About a minute after noticing it (I was on a conference call and couldn’t run out to move it) I saw the truck come back up the street to pick up the trash on the other side.  The driver got out, looked at it on the way to and from grabbing the neighbor’s garbage, and just left it there!

Aside from that, the service works fairly well in my neighborhood, though.  Maybe others had more problems during the strike than I did.

But should the Keller City Council consider alternatives, I hope they maintain the current terms of service.  From everything I’ve heard, containerized service sucks (cf. Ft. Worth).  I’d be willing to pay a fair amount more (haven’t decided an exact amount, though) to maintain our ability to be free from the shackles of carts and having to deal with the recycling nazis (once again, cf. Ft. Worth).

Fair Weather Pikers

With the recent warm weather there has been a marked upsurge in bicyclists and rollerbladers on the trails.  What I find annoying is that some of them seem to regard the presence of me and my dog as some sort of impediment to their progress.  Some seem hellbent on riding two-abreast and on cutting across corners, which tends to cause them to impinge on my personal space.

The other annoyance I now face is a group of women who walk three-across and seem to want to dare me to stay on the trail and hit one of them.  What the hell is up with that?  They’re lucky I was raised to be nice to women, regardless of how chauvinistic they may find it.

I can’t help but wonder where all these people were when it was 40 degrees and raining?  I was out there every day with the dog—rain, shine, or snow.  The only things that keep me away are lightning and ice.

Anyhow, I’m tired of accommodating rude riders and inconsiderate walkers.  Perhaps it’s time to deploy the stiff-arm approach. 

Seriously Busted

I was out and about on the Bear Creek walking trail earlier this week when I saw this.

A young woman in very tight, short, shorts and not much of a top had just jogged past.  Ahead I saw a man and his young daughter (perhaps 8 or 10) taking a shortcut across the grass.  It was quite obvious that he was watching the jogger, since his baseball cap was a dead giveaway as to where he was looking (target lock acquired:  tracking initiated).  Unfortunately, while he was looking at the jogger he wasn’t looking at the ground.  He stepped in a hole, twisted his ankle, went to one knee, then rolled on his back and did a sort of upside-down bug dance (i.e. legs and arms flailing). 

All in all, a fairly good performance, as it distracted his daughter from noticing the reason for his fall.  I gave it an 8.0 for form and an 8.5 for the save.

Haunting The Trails

Being a daily dog walker I tend not to pay a lot of attention to what particular day it is.  To me it’s just a daily activity.  We’re out there day after day, in the heat, the cold, the rain, etc.  The only things I draw the line at are lightning and ice as I don’t care to become a crispy critter and I’d like to avoid breaking my ass.

Anyhow, on Saturday I took Boots over to the park and encountered a bunch of stuff prepositioned at the bridge where the trail splits to go to the Pointe and Town Center.  The sign near the tent they’d set up said it was for the haunted trail event that was starting at 7:00pm.  Worried that I might be blocked from returning I made certain to try to wrap up our daily sojurn well before 7:00pm.  As I was crossing the bridge someone I assume is from Keller Parks and Recreation said to me that the trail would be closing shortly.

I took the opportunity to ask her to have signs put up in advance of the next event to warn regular trail users that the trail would be closed.  She seemed surprised by such a suggestion and made a statement to the effect that in 10 years of doing this event no one had ever asked for them.  It’s unfortunate that no one was willing to be a pain the ass besides me, but aside from that I think this is a classic example of getting so wrapped up in an event that you think everyone assigns it the same level of importance as you.  I’m just out to walk the dog and I don’t pay a lot attention to what day it is unless I’ve been reminded that an event will occur.  When they ran a triathlon a few weeks ago the organizers put up signs on the trail stating the date and time that the event would be run.  I thought this was a nice touch and it allowed me to plan my day accordingly.

In my opinion it’d be nice if Parks and Recreation would put up signs in advance of any activity that would close a trail or a portion of the trails.  They don’t have to be elaborate or fancy (like the custom-made metal ones used for the bridge repairs).  I’d just like some warning so I can plan to be elsewhere when the trail closes and the hordes show up.

Update:  The haunted trail event this weekend jogged my memory, though.  I recall a couple of years ago that the trail looked like it had been wrecked the day after the event.  There were bits of props from the “scare stations” (or whatever they were) still in place, there were candy wrappers all over the ground, and there were still lots of fake spider webs on the trees.  That fake spider web stuff doesn’t appear to be biodegradable (or if it is, it’s really slow).  I continued to see bits and pieces of it for more than a year afterwards.

Keller Go BOOM

Anyone in the area yesterday morning probably heard (or felt) the sonic boom that hit around 11:00 am.

Spend $45 million or so on an airplane, and you’d want to know if it can at least blow past Mach 1.

Well, most everyone in north Tarrant County can attest to one F-16’s readiness.

At least one F-16, flown by a Lockheed Martin test pilot, broke the sound barrier (a bit more than 750 mph) around 11 a.m. Wednesday, setting off a sonic boom that had people buzzing. Dozens of calls flooded police and fire dispatchers in Fort Worth, Keller and North Richland Hills.

Among the curious was the manager of a Sonic Drive-In in North Richland Hills. “Real weird,” Thomas Horne said about the boom.

Joe Stout, a Lockheed Martin spokesman, said two F-16s flying at over 30,000 feet were in a “supersonic corridor” that extends from Alliance Airport to Ardmore, Okla. Every plane is tested at supersonic speeds before anyone gets the keys.

“Occasionally the sound does carry into areas where we don’t want it to be heard,” Stout said. “We apologize to anybody inconvenienced.”

I used to hear them all the time when growing up in East Texas (I was told by someone that they were caused by SR-71’s going to Barksdale AFB, but I’ve never been able to confirm that), so I immediately thought “sonic boom” (and identified a second smaller one and that they came from the northwest).  However, it’d been a while since I’d heard one, and I don’t recall ever hearing one in Keller.  So I doubted myself for a second and went outside just to make sure there wasn’t a real explosion in the area.  But I didn’t see anything and just dismissed it.  However, on the scanner I heard dispatch call station 2 and mention that they were getting lots of calls for an explosion on the northwest side of town. 

I’m guessing that there must be a lot of people here who haven’t experienced many sonic booms, which is probably not surprising as the military tries to avoid supersonic overflights of highly populated areas.  Even in areas where they’re allowed to do it they tend to keep it confined to above 30,000 ft. (as in this case) to minimize the effects.

Once you’ve lived with them for a while they really aren’t too much bother, except for the fact that they scare the bejeebus out of the dog…

Compatibility, Standardization, and Cost

I’m about to do something not often done on this website.  I’m about to argue that KISD should spend more money than originally planned on something.  It’s not turf or stadiums, though.

One of the interesting things I learned last night when I took my CPR/AED renewal was that KISD is in the process of purchasing 55 AEDs for use on all of their campuses.  They are evaluating various models and comparing costs before making the purchase, which is of course the right thing to do.  In the absence of other factors, I’d suggest using cost to feature analysis and picking the one with the most features for the lowest cost. 

However, there are other factors to consider.  Specifically, the City of Keller has standardized on the LIFEPAK 500 AED from Medtronic.  While the LIFEPAK 500 isn’t the lowest cost model, it had the advantage of being directly compatible with the LIFEPAK 12 Defibrillator/Monitor that Keller Fire-Rescue carries on its trucks and medic units.  This means that the electrical pads that were applied to the patient for the AED can be plugged directly into the LIFEPAK 12 and the LIFEPAK 12 can use those pads for both defibrillation and pacing.  The 500 is also compatible with the Medtronic LIFEPAK defibrillator/monitors carried by the majority of EMS agencies in the KISD area (i.e. Medstar for Ft. Worth, Watagua DPS, Southlake Fire, etc). 

So why is this compatibility so important?  Can’t any AED save a life?  Certainly having an AED is better than not having one, so should KISD choose another one it’s not like their brand will cause people to die that wouldn’t have otherwise died (hopefully blank stare  ).  Still, though, there are some good reasons for compatibility:

  • As noted above, the electrode pads used by the LIFEPAK 500 are directly compatible with the LIFEPAK 12 and can be used for defibrillation and pacing as well as reading electrical activity (ECG) on the monitor.  Other brands would likely require removing the pads and replacing them with compatible ones.
  • Once a pad is used for defibrillation it will cause a burn (first degree) on the patient’s skin.  This is an acceptable side-effect, given that the alternative is dying.  However, it also means that if you have to change the pads you have to find a different position, which may require putting the new ones in a suboptimal location, as well as causing new burns.  The ideal locations are on the upper right chest and on the left side, towards the bottom of the ribcage, such that you’re making a diagonal through the heart.
  • When a pad is used the first time it breaks down some of the electrical resistance and will be more effective afterwards.  Replacing the pads means having to start over.
  • Changing pads takes additional time over just plugging the pads into the LIFEPAK 12.

While all AEDs are designed to be easy to use (per FDA/US Gov requirements), it should also be noted that Keller Fire-Rescue trains quite a few people in town on CPR and AEDs and the training is done with the 500T (the “inert” trainer for the 500; it simulates AED operation pretty realistically, but can’t actually shock anyone).  It certainly can’t hurt to have the same model of AED available that Keller Fire-Rescue trains with (although I do acknowledge that many KISD schools are outside Keller itself). 

This is one situation where I think spending a bit extra to insure compatibility and continuity of care is worth it.