NCIS AND MY PACEMAKER – Marilyn Armstrong

EPISODE: Need to Know (2012)

Alan Katzenbach, a lawyer, waits for Gibbs with his client, a chief petty officer named Leland Wiley. Wiley was busted for drugs and wants to trade his info — which he says is about national security.

It concerns Agah Bayar, the arms dealer. Gibbs is interested. Wiley comes over to talk, but grabs his heart and drops to the ground.

ncis-need-to-know

Gibbs comes for the update from Ducky. Turns out, Wiley had top security clearance and his workstation is locked down. They haven’t been able to connect him to Bayar yet.

Abby calls Gibbs to the lab. She tells him Wiley’s pacemaker was linked into a computer to monitor it. Someone hacked in and jacked his heart rate up to 400 beats per minute.

“Somebody murdered Wiley by remote control,” she says.


What does this have to do with me?

Well, glad you asked. This episode so intrigued the heart surgery team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston (where I had all that heart surgery in March 2014), that they decided to find out if it really could be done. One of the people that performed the experiment was my surgeon.

They did it. My surgeon did point out as far as they could tell, to actually hack a pacemaker you had to be no more than a couple of feet from it. Nonetheless, they made the manufacturer change the programming.

In theory, nobody can hack my pacemaker.

I find this comforting. Garry finds it disturbing and I suppose I can see where he’s coming from. He doesn’t like thinking about the mechanical and electronic stuff that keeps me alive. It would creep me out too, but I’m a bit of a geek.

RBB-pacemaker

I find the technology sufficiently interesting to overcome its inherent creepiness. It is creepy. However, it doesn’t matter. No matter how I feel about it, I’ve got this thing in my chest. It keeps my heart beating. If my heart would beat on its own, I wouldn’t need a pacemaker.

In the beginning, they used to stop my heart will beat without it. My heart stops beating. Talk about creepy. It is a very unpleasant — and indescribable — sensation.

The blue tooth remote functions still work. They are (in theory) more secure than they were a couple of years ago before the NCIS episode aired and the guys got curious about it. Remote functionality is important. After all, I might need a tune-up. Blue tooth lets my doctor access my pacemaker from … how far? I don’t actually know. A considerable distance, whatever that is.

Garry — again — doesn’t want to know about it. I pointed out if someone murders me, this is potentially important evidence. He would still rather not think about it.

So there we are. Too creepy?

I can feel my pacemaker. It sits on my left shoulder. The outline is visible. I can feel the wires, the connections through my skin. I find it impossible to ignore. I might as well find it interesting. It’s part of me, after all.

And no matter what, I will always have that Pacemaker because, after all those tests, my heart absolutely will not beat without it.

DON’T GET OUT OF THE CAR! DID YOU HEAR ME? STAY IN THE CAR! – Marilyn Armstrong

 

Unless you are living on a different planet, you have probably watched a lot of cop shows. Whether they are still in their first season, early reruns, 200th rerun. You can watch them 24-hours a day 7-days-a-week. At one point, I was a  “Law and Order” addict. I needed frequent fixes. I discovered that any time, day or night, there’s a rerun of “Law and Order” playing somewhere. You just have to look for it.

As it is, Garry and I watch a lot of cop show reruns and we can recite the dialogue in most reruns of NCIS. It’s not the only stuff we watch, but it is a major component.

If you watch enough of them, eventually you don’t even need to know the plot: you know who the perp is the moment he or she shows up on your screen. Garry knows that the most well-known featured actor is the killer. That’s why they hired him or her.

I often wonder if these shows are really a single script, written by someone long ago, then periodically altered slightly as needed for various episodes of different series.

Our absolutely favorite moment in all of such shows is when one of the cops has someone in the car who isn’t a police officer or other official investigator. Maybe it’s a child or relative of one of the officers (aka, stars) … perhaps a friend, a former cop now retired, journalist, or another person who by chance (and script) happens to be there when the star or co-star is called to the scene of a crime.

What does he or she say to their ride-along person? They say it (or one of its close variations) every time.


“STAY IN THE CAR!”


It pops out of the mouths of television and movie heroes with alarming frequency. On the NBC TV series “Chuck,”  it was a gag line. On most shows, it’s real dialogue and not supposed to be a laugh line … but it is. At least in this house.

One of my favorite versions can be found in the  “Last Action Hero” (1993):


01:08:06 – Stay in the car.
01:08:07 – No way. I’m coming with you.
01:08:11 –  How many times have you heard someone say, “Stay in the car” and the guy doesn’t?
01:08:19 – Good point. I’ll stay in the car.

Subzin.com says the exact phrase “stay in the car” can be been found in 356 phrases from 296 movies. I think they are missing a few thousand instances in a wide variety of TV series. Also, they are not counting variations like “don’t leave the car,” “don’t get out of the car,” and “remain in the car.”  If you include the more generic “stay here” Subzin finds 20,781 phrases from 11,645 movies and series which is a lot of instances even if you say it quickly.

Regardless of the situation, whether it’s a 9-alarm fire, gunfight, crime scene, being stalked by a serial killer, or the Zombie Apocalypse where the undead are gathering for the final attack: no one stays in the car. Cop, kid, or an extra (destined to not survive past the opening credits), no one in film or television history has ever stayed in the car.

In real life, as we stumble through our lives, we get a lot of hints from The Universe that maybe this time, we should stay in the car. Don’t get involved. Let other people take care of this particular problem. Let the cops do what they are paid to do. Someone else can catch the bad guy, report the fire, deal with the crisis.

Who stays in the car and who gets out?

I never stay in the car. I might miss something. I’m sure there are others who actually do as they are told being mindful of authority. Unlike me.

They want to be safe. They believe if they follow the rules nothing bad can happen. Except life doesn’t follow a script. We lack scriptwriters. I often feel that presents us with some serious challenges because we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know if we will survive in OR out of the car. I mean, we could get shot through the car window, too. Staying in the car may not be the best choice.

Besides, you don’t learn anything exciting by staying in the car. If you never venture out of your comfort zone, when life gets crazy, you’re going to have a rough time in this insane world.

For all the times I’ve been told to stay in the car then promptly jumped into the fray, against all logic and common sense, I’m glad I did it. Even with all the bumps and bruises, life is too short to miss something exciting. Who knows if there will be a car in which to stay when I need to hide?

When life gets exciting, I want to be part of the action. Usually.

SABOTAGE – AND – MURDER

Early Hitchcock, by Rich Paschall

The 1936 Hitchcock thriller, Sabotage, could be a story for the present day.  Foreign saboteurs are planning terror attacks on a big city.  No one is sure who these people are or why they are planning these things.  In this adventure the city is London and the time frame is “the present,” in other words the mid 1930s.  It is loosely based on a story by Joseph Conrad, Secret Agent.  Hitchcock released another film in 1936 named Secret Agent.  It is no relation.

Alfred Hitchcock

In Sabotage London experiences a blackout which most take in good humor.  At a local theater, patrons are demanding their money back, and when the wife goes to see if her husband, the theater owner, is home he claims to have been there all along.  We have seen that he has just returned.  He is the saboteur.

Oskar Homolka, the Austrian actor, plays the theater owner.  You are left to guess what European country or group he may be working for.  Sylvia Sydney plays his wife, apparently an American, while her younger brother, played by Desmond Testor, sounds rather British.  Homolka as Karl Verloc does not come across as particularly evil, but rather caught up in the plot.

Scotland Yard is suspicious of Verloc and has Detective Sergeant Spencer on the case.  He is undercover as a grocer assistant at the business next to the movie theater. He ultimately befriends Mrs. Verloc and her brother to get information.

Unhappy with the results of the blackout, the saboteurs want Verloc to plant a bomb that will terrorize London.  It is to go to the station at the Piccadilly London underground at a busy time of day.  Verloc does not want to coöperate with anything that may cause loss of life, but is threatened by his contact who apparently has some hold over him.

Sabotage

Sabotage

The film was released in America in 1937 under the title The Woman Alone.  I guess you could say Mrs. Verloc is alone in this story.  She is unaware of her husband’s activities and seemingly has no one else.  Well, no one else until the concerned Scotland Yard detective comes along. He obviously becomes fond of her as the story progresses.

Although early in his career, the film shows some of the aspects of the great Hitchcock films.  As we build to what is supposed to be the big moment of the terror plot, we see the rapid fire cutting of scenes, to take in not just the faces of the people around the bomb, but the clock as we watch the time move faster and faster to when the bomb is supposed to explode.  Things are not unfolding as planned, and then they take a Hitchcock style plot twist.  We will leave the rest to you in case you wish to track this down.

It is not going to land on the top 10 Hitchcock movies.  It is just an interesting early work of a director who will ultimately become a master of this type of intrigue and suspense.  This certainly is not very satisfying when compared to later Hitchcock fare.

The 1930 drama, Murder, is also an early Hitchcock piece that exhibits some brief moments of Hitchcock style, but basically contains all the elements of bad early “talkies.”  It does not contain much to hold your interest.  I fear its great reviews of more recent years are based on the reputation of the master of suspense, and has little to do with this work.

The plot starts out like Twelve Angry Men, but does not go down that road for long.  Written by Hitchcock, his wife Alma Reville and Walter C. Mycroft the story is based on the novel and play, Enter Sir John.  The story opens with a young actress being accused of the murder of another member of an acting company.  She seems to have been caught red-handed with the murder weapon at hand.  One of the jurors, Sir John, does not think she is guilty and after all jurors give in to the guilty verdict, including Sir John, he decides to investigate.

Murder

Murder

The lead character is played by Herbert Marshall, who went on to a long career in Hollywood films.  Norah Baring plays the actress about to face the gallows.  Yes, they were going to hang the beauty.  This give Hitchcock the nice opportunity to show us the shadow of the noose as the gallows are being built outside the cell window.  There is no need to show the actual building when he can terrorize the audience through shadow and sound.

The lighting and editing are poor, more often than not.  A little of that may be due to restoration.  Hitchcock admitted in an interview years later that the actors were encouraged to improvise dialogue in scenes that were not quite finished.  “The result wasn’t good; there was too much faltering. They would carefully think over what they were about to say and we didn’t get the spontaneity I had hoped for.”

This might account for the slow pacing and awkward pauses we find in many places.  Also, the actors are playing as if they are in a theater rather than in a movie.  It is not uncommon to see this in early talking pictures with actors who were trained for the stage.  The over dramatization of all the actors is a bit uncomfortable.  The type of staging seen here was more suited to the West End than the silver screen.  At the same time, Hitchcock also filmed the movie in German with other actors.

digging grave

If these two features offer anything, it is a look at life in London in the 1930s.  You can see how a poorer class of people lived and at the very least, you know the props and sets come right out of that time period.  Unless you are such a Hitchcock fan that you need to track down these re-mastered works, you could take a pass on them.  For some reason, they are available on DVD, and for free on You Tube.

STAYING SAFE ACCORDING TO THE NRA

What a shock! The best that our government could offer to Parkland were … you guessed it … thoughts and prayers and of course “it’s too soon to make decisions when we’re still trying to figure out what happened.”

We know what happened. We always know what happened.

2018 mass shooting in the U.S. — and it is only the middle of February

How many answers do you need? A school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead and another 14 wounded in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday. To no ones surprise, he used a military-style AR-15 semi-automatic machine gun. We don’t call them machine guns anymore. We have fancier names, but that’s what they are. Of course, rather than examine the gun issue, the spotlight is on Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who admitted the shooting.

It was interesting watching Wolf Blitzer try everything to pin Florida’s slippery governor to agreeing that in a state where an 18-year-old can’t buy a legal beer or a handgun, he can buy an AR-15. If you have a really dark sense of humor, you could enjoy the wriggling of the governor trying to find any possible way to say he was going to protect the kids, but not get rid of  the law that allows a troubled 18-year old to buy an AR-15. Because, well, y’know, there’s a second amendment. Moreover, we wouldn’t want to upset gun manufacturers or the NRA. They donate lots of money to politicians and money talks. In fact, ONLY money talks.

A rack of weapons of the same general type as the AR-15 rifle that the Broward Sheriff’s Office said was used in Wednesday’s mass shooting. Sue Ogrocki AP

It doesn’t matter how many kids get killed every year. Or how many adults and toddlers. The real, key issue is that gun manufacturers need to have the right to sell guns to everyone, mentally ill or nominally sane and the younger, the better.

And even though I would love to lay all the blame on our current administration, this problem has been with us a very long time. No president or congress in my lifetime has been willing to brace the NRA or give up all that money the NRA gives to candidates.  The Republicans are even worse having managed to eliminate what few laws we had and then acting like these killings are some kind of mystery. Like we don’t know that the AR-15 is the weapon of choice for those who prefer killing many people quickly.

And here we are. Again.

In Florida, almost any adult can buy a rifle so long as he or she is not a convicted felon — or unless he or she has a medical marijuana card. Because as we all know, marijuana is the drug of mass violence and overeating on chocolate cookies.

Most guns used in mass shootings across the United States were legally obtained — sometimes by the shooter, or from a family member who had  a gun permit. You should know that all of the deadliest mass shootings in this country involved an AR-15 or similar weapon. ALL of them. Every single one.

Don’t worry. The NRA is safe!

It is very difficult for me to find anything amusing about this, or find any way to excuse anyone for failing to change the laws to protect lives. Every other “first world” country has banned guns and they have as a result a hugely reduced rate of gun violence. No matter what nonsense the gun lobby spouts, the reality is incredibly simple. Limit the purchase and use of guns and gun violence goes away too.

But of course, it won’t happen. It has never happened. It doesn’t matter how many kids we slaughter. We will keep selling as many guns as the market will bear until we are all mentally and emotionally completely numb. Beyond anger and mentally dead.

I’m pretty close to that already.

IF NOW’S NOT THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT GUN CONTROL, THERE WILL NEVER BE A TIME – TOM CURLEY

I originally wrote this post when I was watching the mass murder in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. I’m now watching the news coverage of the most recent mass shooting  in Texas. It wasn’t as big as the previous one in Nevada. That was the biggest mass murder in US history. That one took the prize for body count, but this one is still pretty good.  The biggest mass murder in Texas. Go Texas! Many have suggested that offering prayers would be pointless since all the victims were already in church, praying as they were shot. Oh — and via the same gun, too. The fabulous AR-15.

Noticing a pattern by any chance?

 

Mass shootings are almost a daily event in the USA. Think about that. I just read an article from Newsweek that states there is a mass shooting in America almost every day.

This one was the largest and worst mass shooting in American history. And you have to work hard to get that kind of award in this country. The guy had more than 10 guns. At least one or more was an automatic rifle.

Another more accurate word for automatic rifle is A MACHINE GUN!! A machine gun has one purpose.  Kill large numbers of people quickly. It came into use on a large-scale in World War One.

It’s job was to mow down and slaughter hundreds of soldiers in a very short period of time. It worked really well. 50 to 70 THOUSAND soldiers would be killed in one single battle.

It worked really well in Las Vegas too. Over 58 people dead and over 500 wounded.

And of course, the first thing you hear from Republicans and NRA gun nuts is “Now is not the time to talk about gun control! We have to concentrate on the victims!” They said it when dozens of elementary school children were slaughtered in Newtown, CT.

They said it when a crazed right-wing nut job slaughtered nine black people worshiping at their church.

They said it when a nut job shot up a movie audience in Aurora.

And it goes on and on. And they’re doing it again. I have noticed that the NRA nut jobs haven’t trotted out their favorite piece of utter bullshit. “The only thing that can defeat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That one drives me  bat shit crazy. Maybe they aren’t dragging this one out this time because even if every person at that concert had a gun (and it was a country-music festival so you have to figure more than a few might have been packing) it wouldn’t have been much good against a guy on the 32nd floor in a hotel across the street.

Both Ellin and I took a gun safety course a few years back. It allowed us to buy a gun legally and register it in the state of CT where we live. It also allowed us to go to a target range and shoot our guns legally. Ultimately we decided not to get registered and get a gun. Why? Well, first, we realized we just don’t need a gun. Second, we learned from taking the safety course that guns are REALLY DANGEROUS. People shoot themselves accidentally all the time. The statistics would amaze you.

And third, Ellin was way too good at it. (Do not piss her off).

So, I am going to say it. I am going to commit heresy. THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS FUCKING STUPID. This almost religious obsession with fire arms is FUCKING STUPID.

The second amendment was a concession to the southern states because they were afraid that the federal government wouldn’t come to their aid when they had slave revolts.  It’s not that commonly-known, but one of  the slave states’ biggest problems was slave revolts.

They happened all the time. I can’t imagine why. So, these states wanted to be sure they’d have their own “Well-regulated state militias” to keep their “property” in line.

But here’s the thing. We don’t have slave states anymore, even though a few states still seem to think it would be a good idea. Why, then, do we still have this stupid amendment?

Did you know that it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the idea of the second amendment stopped meaning “A well-regulated state militia” and began to mean that you could buy all the guns you wanted — like hunting rifles, military assault rifles, silencers. Anything, with no regulation whatsoever.

Why? By the 1970’s the gun industry had sold all the handguns and hunting rifles they believed they could possibly sell. The market had been saturated. Sales were starting to drop. What did they do?  They started marketing assault rifles to the public.

After all, nothing takes a deer down better that an AK47 opening up on full automatic. You can pump forty rounds into that big bad buck in about 10 seconds.

That’s American!

The comedian Jim Jefferies does an iconic routine about gun control. He makes a lot of good points.

He mentions how about 10 percent of his audience is furious when he does the routine. One guy screamed at him after one show “You can’t change the second amendment!!”

To which he responds “Yes you can. It’s an amendment!”

He’s right. We had an amendment that made drinking alcohol illegal. Sixteen-years later, we added a new amendment to amend the amendment.

Now, the endless cycle will continue. Again and again. I feel sorry for the next mass murderer. He’s going to have to really step up his game to top this one. But this is America! I know we’re up to it.

Maybe gun control isn’t the solution. Maybe bullet control is. (Technically they are called cartridges. See? I told you I took the course.) Put a 5000% tax on every box of cartridges. If each cartridge cost about $100 dollars or more, it might help. A little.


After all guns, don’t kill people. The bullets coming out of the guns at 3,900 feet per second kill people.

Now is not the time to talk about gun control? Really? Bullshit. Now is exactly the time. And the next time it happens. And the next time after that.

Oh, and if anything I’ve said here has offended any NRA gun-toting “Merican”, or for that matter, anybody else? Fuck you. I don’t care. The first amendment gives me the right to say the second one sucks.

UNDOING IT

I want to undo anything that shoots. 


Gunpowder. TNT. Guns. Nuclear power. Anything that makes guns, modern weapons, and modern warfare possible. No landmines, howitzers, or automatic weapons.

I’m okay with  knives, swords, maces, bludgeons, ropes, and other weapons of personal, intimate destruction. I want to eliminate everything that blows up, shoots, explodes, or kills from a distance — or en mass.

96-knives_3

If you want to kill someone, you’ll have to do it face-to-face. Up close and personal. If you want to kill someone, stand up and fight. Beat him up. Have a knife fight. Gore is fine, but the blood will spray on you, too.

blood evidence

You can’t kill anyone from a distance. You can’t site your target with a sniper rifle from a rooftop. No sniper rifles exist. Not even a pistol.

Since I have this power to undo what has been done  — and I’m sure there’s time travel involved here — if you try to work around this, I’ll take away your bows-and-arrows too.

Behave yourselves and don’t run with scissors. It’s okay to stab your neighbor with a pair or beat his or her head in with a bat because hey, we’re human. Killing are us.

NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT GUN CONTROL … REALLY!? – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this as I watch the news coverage of the most recent mass shooting  in Nevada. 

Mass shootings are almost a daily event in the USA. Think about that. I just read an article from Newsweek that states there is a mass shooting in America almost every day.

This one was the largest and worst mass shooting in American history. And you have to work hard to get that kind of award in this country. The guy had more than 10 guns. At least one or more was an automatic rifle.

Another more accurate word for automatic rifle is A MACHINE GUN!! A machine gun has one purpose.  Kill large numbers of people quickly. It came into use on a large-scale in World War One.

It’s job was to mow down and slaughter hundreds of soldiers in a very short period of time. It worked really well. 50 to 70 THOUSAND soldiers would be killed in one single battle.

It worked really well in Las Vegas too. Over 58 people dead and over 500 wounded.

And of course, the first thing you hear from Republicans and NRA gun nuts is “Now is not the time to talk about gun control! We have to concentrate on the victims!” They said it when dozens of elementary school children were slaughtered in Newtown, CT.

They said it when a crazed right-wing nut job slaughtered nine black people worshiping at their church.

They said it when a nut job shot up a movie audience in Aurora.

And it goes on and on. And they’re doing it again. I have noticed that the NRA nut jobs haven’t trotted out their favorite piece of utter bullshit. “The only thing that can defeat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That one drives me  bat shit crazy. Maybe they aren’t dragging this one out this time because even if every person at that concert had a gun (and it was a country-music festival so you have to figure more than a few might have been packing) it wouldn’t have been much good against a guy on the 32nd floor in a hotel across the street.

Both Ellin and I took a gun safety course a few years back. It allowed us to buy a gun legally and register it in the state of CT where we live. It also allowed us to go to a target range and shoot our guns legally. Ultimately we decided not to get registered and get a gun. Why? Well, first, we realized we just don’t need a gun. Second, we learned from taking the safety course that guns are REALLY DANGEROUS. People shoot themselves accidentally all the time. The statistics would amaze you.

And third, Ellin was way too good at it. (Do not piss her off).

So, I am going to say it. I am going to commit heresy. THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS FUCKING STUPID. This almost religious obsession with fire arms is FUCKING STUPID.

The second amendment was a concession to the southern states because they were afraid that the federal government wouldn’t come to their aid when they had slave revolts.  It’s not that commonly-known, but one of  the slave states’ biggest problems was slave revolts.

They happened all the time. I can’t imagine why. So, these states wanted to be sure they’d have their own “Well-regulated state militias” to keep their “property” in line.

But here’s the thing. We don’t have slave states anymore, even though a few states still seem to think it would be a good idea. Why, then, do we still have this stupid amendment?

Did you know that it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the idea of the second amendment stopped meaning “A well-regulated state militia” and began to mean that you could buy all the guns you wanted — like hunting rifles, military assault rifles, silencers. Anything, with no regulation whatsoever.

Why? By the 1970’s the gun industry had sold all the handguns and hunting rifles they believed they could possibly sell. The market had been saturated. Sales were starting to drop. What did they do?  They started marketing assault rifles to the public.

After all, nothing takes a deer down better that an AK47 opening up on full automatic. You can pump forty rounds into that big bad buck in about 10 seconds.

That’s American!

The comedian Jim Jefferies does an iconic routine about gun control. He makes a lot of good points.

He mentions how about 10 percent of his audience is furious when he does the routine. One guy screamed at him after one show “You can’t change the second amendment!!”

To which he responds “Yes you can. It’s an amendment!”

He’s right. We had an amendment that made drinking alcohol illegal. Sixteen-years later, we added a new amendment to amend the amendment.

Now, the endless cycle will continue. Again and again. I feel sorry for the next mass murderer. He’s going to have to really step up his game to top this one. But this is America! I know we’re up to it.

Maybe gun control isn’t the solution. Maybe bullet control is. (Technically they are called cartridges. See? I told you I took the course.) Put a 5000% tax on every box of cartridges. If each cartridge cost about $100 dollars or more, it might help. A little.


After all guns, don’t kill people. The bullets coming out of the guns at 3,900 feet per second kill people.

Now is not the time to talk about gun control? Really? Bullshit. Now is exactly the time. And the next time it happens. And the next time after that.

Oh, and if anything I’ve said here has offended any NRA gun-toting “Merican”, or for that matter, anybody else? Fuck you. I don’t care. The first amendment gives me the right to say the second one sucks.

HACKING YOUR HEARTBEAT

You thought this was a creepy, personal fantasy.
It turns out to be real. I told’ya, didn’t I?


FDA recalls close to half-a-million pacemakers over hacking fears


Turns out former Vice President (and erratic shooter) Dick Cheney was right all along: Your heart can be hacked. At least if you have a pacemaker, that is. On Tuesday, the FDA recalled 465,000 of the medical devices — the ones that help control your heart beat — citing security vulnerabilities. The pacemakers, which come from health company Abbott (formerly St. Jude Medical), require a firmware update. Fortunately, it can be installed by a health care provider in just three minutes. The models affected include the Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Accent ST, Assurity, and Allure.


EPISODE: NCIS – NEED TO KNOW (2012)


Tamer Hassan guest starred as Arms Dealer Agah Bayar.

Tamer Hassan guest starred as Arms Dealer Agah Bayar.

Alan Katzenbach, a lawyer, waits for Gibbs with his client, a chief petty officer named Leland Wiley. Wiley was busted for drugs and wants to trade information he has — which he claims involves national security and Agah Bayar, the arms dealer.

Gibbs is interested. Wiley comes over to talk, but grabs his heart and drops to the ground.

Gibbs comes for the update from Ducky. Turns out, Wiley had top security clearance and his workstation is locked down. They haven’t been able to connect him to Bayar yet.

Abby calls Gibbs to the lab. She tells him Wiley’s pacemaker was linked into a computer to monitor it. Someone hacked it and raised his heart rate up to more than 400 beats per minute.

“Somebody murdered Wiley by remote control,” she says.

What does this have to do with me?

Well, I’m glad you asked. This particular episode so intrigued the heart surgery team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston where a group of surgeons wanted to see if it COULD be done. Can you “attack” a pacemaker by remote control? One of the people that performed this experiment was my surgeon.

They did it, though my surgeon pointed out you had to be no more than a couple of feet from the pacemaker to do it. But you could do it. So, they contacted the manufacturer who changed the programming to protect it from potential attack. Cool, yes?

 


NOTES:

I had all that heart surgery in March 2014, not 2013 (how soon we forget) — which I now know was 2014 because I have implant cards to tell people what spare parts are in my body. Unfortunately, none of them indicates which part is which — which ones are implanted heart valves and which one is the pacemaker. Just trying to find out if my pacemaker is being recalled. I mean, my car is being recalled, so why not my pacemaker?

I also had one transplant card for each breast, but that one seems to have gone missing. Oh well … I believe that number is imprinted on the silicon baggies, so I’m sure they will find it as needed.


In theory, nobody can hack my pacemaker because the surgeons fixed it back in 2012. I am safe from remote terrorists. Which is good, because worrying about it was keeping me up at night.

I find it oddly comforting. Garry finds it disturbing. I suppose I can see where he’s coming from. He doesn’t like thinking about the mechanical and electronic stuff that keeps me alive. It would creep me out too, but I’m a bit of a geek and can detach from it on a personal level and get into the coolness of the electronics.

It is  kind of creepy. However, it doesn’t matter. No matter how I feel about it, I’ve got this thing in my chest. It keeps my heart beating. If my heart beat on its own, I wouldn’t need the pacemaker.

Every time I go for a pacemaker checkup, they use a little machine and briefly stop the pacemaker to see if my heart will beat without it. My heart stops beating. Talk about creepy. It is an icky feeling. Anyone with a pacemaker knows what I mean.

The blue tooth remote functions work. They are (in theory) more secure than they were before the NCIS episode aired and the guys got curious. Remote functionality is important. After all, I might need a remote tune-up. Blue tooth lets my doctor access my pacemaker from … how far? I don’t actually know. A considerable distance, whatever that is.

Garry — again — doesn’t want to know about it. I pointed out if someone murders me, this is potentially important evidence. He would rather not think about it.

So there we are. Too creepy?

I can feel my pacemaker. It’s in the hollow by my left shoulder. The outline is visible. I can feel the wires, the connections through my skin. It’s impossible to ignore. I might as well find it interesting. It’s part of me, after all.

RETHINKING GUNS

So, I finally have to ask this question. If your own or a loved ones life is the price you pay for supporting “everyone’s” right to have and use a gun … is it worth it? Really worth it? Is your career, supported by money from the National Rifle Association really and truly worth your own life? The life of a friend? Of a colleague?

I am sorry when anyone gets shot. Anyone, anywhere, at any time. This was yet one more meaningless shooting which could easily have been prevented. I’m sorry Steve Scalise is back in intensive care. Horrified that this crime apparently has not even given gun advocates some pause to consider that maybe there is a way to control guns without eliminating them. To at least keep them out of the hands of those patently unable to control their use … including children, toddlers, and mental patients who’ve slipped off medications and are wandering the streets, looking for targets.

Guys, maybe you could consider rethinking your position? Even a small movement in the direction of simple commonsense might stop at least some of the killing.


A little more from Garry Armstrong:


There’s always been a nonsensical reaction to the issue of gun regulation in the United States. I did myriad stories during my career about illegal weapons used in gang wars, drive by shootings and mentally deranged people killing and or seriously injuring innocent bystanders. Gun lobbyists always said “It’s unfortunate but you can’t legislate because of isolated incidents”. Isolated, my rear end!! If you tally the number of “collateral damage” victims — just in the past 50 years — the numbers are staggering. It was popular to say the gun violence occurred mostly in the inner cities and “Those people were just killing each other off”.

Check again and note the shootings in upscale, predominantly white communities — just in the last calendar year. Few of “those people” were involved.

It’s a national nightmare that behooves people of all political persuasion to realize that “ALL lives matter!”.

MY WAR AGAINST PACKAGING

We watch a lot of shows about murder. Between courtroom battles and watching Ducky dismember a corpse (NCIS), I’ve seen it all. People get convicted on blood evidence, even if they didn’t really do anything. I know how incriminating mere traces of a victim’s blood can make anyone look. Which is why I worry about packaging.

These days, Amazon offers you (sometimes, on some items) special packaging that you can open without a pneumatic drill and hacksaw. Unfortunately, this trend has yet to pass down to the people who made those little hanging blister packages. You know, the stuff you pull of racks in stores? Then spend half a day mutilating in an attempt to release whatever has been secured in it?

This evening, while making dinner, I nicked myself with a paring knife. My son and my husband both have been known to pull knives out of my hands and chop the veggies themselves because watching me using a knife made them too nervous to watch.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t bleed so much. This is ironic indeed because when I go for tests at the hospital, they can never find a vein or get any blood out of me. I have suggested I just bring a paring knives, slice open a finger and they can have more blood than they’ll know what to do with, but for some reason, they don’t find this nearly as funny as I do.

Anyway, I nicked myself cutting up some turkey sausages. It wasn’t a bad cut and if I hadn’t been in a hurry to get dinner fixed while simultaneously fighting with the cable company on the telephone, I might have put a band-aid onto my finger sooner. There would a lot less of my blood all throughout the kitchen. Not a gusher, mind you. Just a mere dribbler.

After I finally got the food cooking, I put the knife down and ended the phone call, still snarling at Charter. That was the moment when I realized my blood was everywhere I looked. One little nick and CSI would have a field day in our kitchen, proving conclusively that my dear husband is a murderer. Of course, someone else would have had to murder me, but from what we’ve seen on television, that shouldn’t be a problem. There are some towns in England where they have to bring new victims in by bus because so many get killed each week on TV serials.

If anything ever happens to me, they’ll find my blood everywhere. Garry will look guilty as hell.

Have you ever tried to get a couple of blister-packed pills out of their containers in the middle of the night? It says “press here” and you do, but all it does is stretch. The medication still out of reach and if you are unlucky, you have also successfully crushed it to powder in its  blister.

The hacking and hewing means I cut myself regularly, but I also damage the contents of packages in my frenzied attempts to extract whatever is in there. I used to use my box cutter to pry the back off my Blackberry to get to the battery. Taking the back off and removing the battery was the only way to reboot the phone, so I gave up and got an iPhone. I didn’t like the iPhone better, but at least I could stop prying the phone apart with a knife blade. Now I have another smart phone and you can’t open it at all, which is fine with me. At least I won’t need to battle my way into a battery compartment again.

I do not set out to do myself injury, but in the contest of me against packaging, packaging is  winning.

My blood everywhere I’ve ever opened a package. You’ll find blood on my computer, mouse, knives, tweezers and especially my beloved box cutter.

I keep my box cutter hidden lest someone try to take it away. You’ll never get my box cutter. Never!

SEND IN THE FEDS – RICH PASCHALL

The Streets of Chicago, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


When I was in Medellin, Colombia, someone had brought up the name of Pablo Escobar when we were out for food and drinks.  Escobar was an infamous drug lord who had lived in the Andes mountains near Medellin.  My friend commented unhappily that they have to keep telling people that Escobar was killed in the 1990s, meaning he does not live there anymore.  I told him I understand. We have to keep telling people that Al Capone no longer lives in Chicago.  The crime boss died at his home in Florida in 1947.  Sometimes the truth does not help you to shake your reputation.

1931 Photo Credit: cta Historical Photo Collection

1931    Photo Credit: cta Historical Photo Collection

At the present time you may hear that Chicago is the murder capital of the country, just like in the Capone days.  The leader of our nation has said that crime here is “totally out of control.”  He even tweeted recently that they might send in the feds if we do not solve the problem.  While we are all dismayed at the uptick in violence in our city, one thing we know.  We are not in the top ten in murders per capita on anyone’s list.  We are not in the top twenty either.  Depending on who is doing the measuring and what size cities they go by, we may even miss the top 30.  I know it is hard to believe.  Google it!  You will find many news stories about Chicago, but you will also find plenty of articles about cities complaining they have a higher rate.  You will find many web sites with rankings and wonder where we are.  We’ll wait right here.  Then come back and let’s talk about this.

The murder rate was up in 2016. We have not seen such rates since the 1990s.  It was a big increase over 2015, but when you look at this on a per capita basis for large USA cities, you may ask, “What about Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis?  What about Baltimore and Dayton?  What about Milwaukee?  Can we send the Feds there, too?  Can we send them to Atlanta and Houston and Camden?”  In fact there are many cities with increases, so why does Chicago get so much more coverage than the others?

Perhaps it is because we are the third largest city in the country.  In comparison to New York and Los Angeles, the crime numbers are much higher.  It is easy to look at the three together, as many newspaper articles are fond of doing.  From that vantage point, we look very bad.

Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive

Perhaps it is because we are the center of the country.  We have the busiest airports.  We are at the crossroads of the nation.  Highways, railways and even ocean carriers move through here, making this their hub and their home.  As a center of commerce, there is no overstating Chicago’s significance.

Perhaps it is because the 44th President of the United States hails from here and the current leader — number 45 — would like to embarrass him.  Perhaps it is because Chicago voted overwhelmingly for his opponent and he is trying to make an example of us.  Or not.  This is likely a minor issue as we were already getting plenty of coverage.  But why don’t we read tweets about any of the cities in the Top 10 of murder rate per capita?

No matter where we rank, the problem has grown and something needs to be done, but send in the Feds?  Absolutely.  No big city mayor is going to turn down help fighting crime.  But there is a slight problem with the leader’s promise.  “What does it even mean?” 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale asked. “It is so vague.”  What kind of help is he sending?

Representative from Chicago, Luis Gutierrez, (my Congressman, by the way) is not impressed with our leader “beating up” Chicago.  “Chicago’s murder epidemic is more serious than a late night twitter threat from the new Tweeter-in-Chief,” he said.  Other Chicago leaders from local aldermen to the Cardinal are unhappy with the treatment.

Instead of vague tweets, where is the partnership with the Justice Department, the FBI, DEA?  If there are resources to send, our mayor is all for it.  We are a big city with big city problems.  There are certain types of help that would be meaningful and possibly effective.  “Chicago, like other cities right now that are dealing with gun violence, wants the partnership with federal law enforcement entities in a more significant way than we’re having today,” Mayor Emanuel said.

In a breaking story this weekend, 20 more ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents are being assigned to their office here.  A request for this help is long-standing and the Mayor mentioned it to then president-elect 45 in a December 7th meeting (apparently fearless leader forgot about it).  Federal gun prosecutions in this District fall way behind other big cities and resources were needed.  If more agents have any effect at all, we know who will take credit.

Chicago lakefront

Chicago lakefront

It is tough to be in the spotlight, especially when the light is made brighter by a guy with a Twitter account.  We are a world-class city with world-class attractions.  We have fine airports and railroad stations.  We have a lakefront that runs the length of the city with land that is open and free for all.

We have one of the largest fresh water lakes that supplies our drinking water and our summer playground.  When I stand at the Planetarium out on the lake, I see what I think, in my biased viewpoint, is the greatest skyline in the country.  If someone wants to send help, we are glad to have you.  If someone wants to wage a Twitter war, can he pick on St. Louis and the Cardinals instead?

Sources:

Murders Up in U.S. Cities–But Crime Rate Still Near Record Lows,” Time, December 20, 2016
Highest Murder Rate Cities,” Neighborhood Scout, Location, Inc.
Most Dangerous Cities in the United States,” World Atlas
FBI’s Violent Crime Statistics For Every City In America,” CBS local, October 22, 2015
Emanuel to Trump: Chicago Would Welcome Federal Partnership to Quell Violence,” nbcchicago.com, January 25, 2017
Rahm To Trump: ‘Straight Up,’ No Troops In Chicago,” dnainfo.com, January 25, 2017
20 More ATF Agents On Their Way To Chicago,” Chicago Sun-Times, February 3, 2017

A SERIAL KILLER IS LOOSE! MURDER MOST FOUL! by GARRY ARMSTRONG (PART 3)

THIS IS FICTION! NOT TRUE. A STORY. NOT A REAL EVENT.

Homage to MidSomer Murders from Garry Armstrong, the show’s current number one fan. And with a nod  and a wink to Sunset Boulevard and Philip Marlowe. On the occasion of our granddaughter’s 20th birthday, a lovely little murder.

Photographs (mostly) by Marilyn Armstrong,  except for a couple by Garry, aka “The first Victim.”


THE THIRD VICTIM: Looking for Connections!

72-owen-vic-gar-09182016_058

Some of the usual suspects were released on ROR four days ago. A bluff move to flush out perps higher up the chain. But then another twist. A third body. The Third Man.

72-owen-vic-gar-09182016_053

The corpse was found less than an hour after the suspects’ release…. which was before any media update. The cops were keeping a tight lid on information. All the released suspects were being closely tailed.

The third victim was found  in a field adjoining the site of the original crimes. All doubts vanished. For the newshounds, it was clear.  A serial killer at work!!  Police refused comment. Of course. Unnamed sources close to the investigation admit that motivation for the three murders remains murky.

Which has only heightened media speculation.

72-pot-mar-09182016_005

Is there a drug connection? Money laundering? Has the Mob invaded this sleepy New England village?

An Interpol agent was spotted at the latest crime scene. A handout statement offered no insight why international law enforcement was now involved.

Then, a break from a trusted, veteran reporter — retired but he sometimes helps when police need answers.

A connection was spotted between two of the three victims. Similar tattoos. The veteran reporter noticed the familiar inks and huddled with Interpol to see if there’s a link to the Russian mob. No confirmation from the reporter or Interpol, but chatter with gangland tattoo experts has been confirmed.

Some of the police are trying to remain under cover.

Some of the police are trying to remain under cover. This group from Dodge City are keeping a low profile.

Meanwhile, the now four-pronged investigation is advancing on multiple fronts. State troopers and local detectives are looking for connections between the three victims.

Was the first victim an anomaly or grisly diversion in the serial killings? Or, were the later killings an attempt to befog the first murder? Was this a hate crime? If so, what do the haters hate?

So many questions, so few answers.

Network news outlets have set up staging areas, each trying to scoop the other as they slaver over every new bit of gossip and try to spin it into the story. The FBI’s BAU (Behavior Analyst Unit) is on the case and their current thinking is that the killer is a pro. A stone cold killer.

They’re working backwards, trying to connect the three murders. Fresh eyes are looking at murders number one and two.


Background Review: THE SECOND VICTIM: Murder most foul!

(There will be a short quiz following the conclusion of this story.)

Local, state and federal investigators are offering minimal information about the latest victim. CSU photos show he was white, middle-aged, and apparently healthy. There’s no word on how or when the victim was killed. A local resident confirmed the body was found in the same area, the same farm land where the first murder occurred more than two weeks ago.

Some wonder if  this is a worse case scenario. It’s top buzz on talk shows.

A SERIAL killer running amok…. on the heels of the late summer birthday party murder!!

Victim Number Two

Victim Number Two

Shock waves continue to reverberate. It’s the ultimate loss of innocence for a small town where typically, the top news item is roadwork tying up traffic on main street. Burglaries or car break-ins are the high-priority items on the police blotter. No one worries about big city violence. Everyone knows everybody. It’s that kind of town.


THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY – The First Victim

My granddaughter’s birthday party murder was the game changer!

State police are still sifting through the testimony of party guests. Records are being checked for previous criminal activity. Cold cases are being unwrapped, searching for clues or patterns.

Reviewing party guests, no one stands out as an obvious suspect. Everyone seems pleasant, amiable. Perhaps not overly friendly, but polite and civil. No blatant hostility was evident. No obvious suspects stand out from the crowd.


THE SUSPECTS

Profilers are looking at the gathering, breaking them down into age groups and backgrounds. Motive is the big question. Everyone is so vague in their answers. This case calls for someone with expertise.

And, that would be me. The victim. This is my case, my story. I will tell it best because it revolves around me. It always did, in life and now, in death.

72-Garry-NCIS-Uxbridge_01

A retired, award-winning TV News reporter, I was checking out suspicious things before my demise that warm summer’s day. Now I know it was no coincidence, but at the time, I was bemused by the variety of possible weapons I found in the shed. All so readily available to anyone with a grudge and an opportunity to commit murder.

I’d covered so many murders in my forty plus years on the job, I knew something was amiss. Something was strange, wrong. Creepy. Unfortunately, I was right. Pity I didn’t realize the object was … me.

I didn’t say anything to anyone. It was pleasant party. I hoped we could avoid family squabbles and enjoy the festivities and go home with nothing more than mild indigestion to deal with. Everyone was focused on food. Hot dogs, burgers, salad, coke and beer. Good stuff. Classic American cuisine.

I was on my third or fourth hot dog. Feeling pretty good. I discreetly eyed the other guests, trying to put those weapons I’d seen out of my mind. Conversation was light. Restrained. Most guests kept their distance. Something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on precisely what.

72-shed-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_058

It fell on me to make some toasts, I suppose because of my professional background. I looked at the faces as I offered some light banter. No one seemed offended — but no one really laughed. I must’ve touched someone’s hot button — but who?

I turned around to get some water. I felt a whack on the back of my head. The world went blank.

The Victim!

The FIRST victim!

On the ground unable to move, I could still hear the people gathered around me. I hoped someone was calling for help, but it seemed everyone was taking pictures — of me — or selfies with my body as background.

I heard giggles and laughter. Then nothing. Nothing but The Big Sleep.


What’s the motive? Where are the connections? Is it a stone-cold killer or a killer made of actual stone? Tune in next week for another episode of MidSummer Murder!


Part I – LATE MIDSUMMER MURDER MYSTERY BY GARRY ARMSTRONG

Part II – A SERIAL KILLER? LATE SUMMER MURDER MYSTERY BY GARRY ARMSTRONG (PART 2)

A SERIAL KILLER? LATE SUMMER MURDER MYSTERY by GARRY ARMSTRONG (PART 2)

THIS IS FICTION! NOT TRUE. A STORY. NOT A REAL EVENT.

Homage to MidSomer Murders from Garry Armstrong, the show’s current number one fan. And with a nod  and a wink to Sunset Boulevard and Philip Marlowe. On the occasion of our granddaughter’s 20th birthday, a lovely little murder.

Photographs (mostly) by Marilyn Armstrong,  except for the first one, which is Garry’s, aka “The Victim.”


Investigators now must rethink their original premise.

It’s no longer an isolated or random case of violence. Network news outlets are in the area. The FBI’s BAU (Behavior Analyst Unit) is on the case too. This is the team popularized by TV’s long-running “Criminal Minds” series.  No local or state turf wars here because the case is becoming sufficiently bizarre even for veteran crime investigators.

In a gruesome discovery, a second victim has been found!

Murder most foul!

Local, state and federal investigators are offering minimal information about the latest victim. CSU photos show he was white, middle-aged, and apparently healthy. There’s no word on how or when the victim was killed. A local resident confirmed the body was found in the same area, the same farm land where the first murder occurred over a week ago.

Some wonder if  this is a worse case scenario.

A SERIAL killer running amuck…. on the heels of the late summer birthday party murder!!

Victim Number Two

Victim Number Two

Shock waves continue to reverberate. It’s the ultimate loss of innocence for a small town where typically, the top news item is roadwork tying up traffic on main street. Burglaries or car break-ins are the high-priority items on the police blotter. No one worries about big city violence. Everyone knows everybody. It’s that kind of town.

72-intersection-uxbridge-09122016_016


My granddaughter’s birthday party murder was the game changer!

State police are still sifting through the testimony of party guests. Records are being checked for previous criminal activity. Cold cases are being unwrapped, searching for clues or patterns.

The honored guest

The honored guest

Reviewing party guests, no one stands out as an obvious suspect. Everyone seems pleasant, amiable. Perhaps not overly friendly, but polite and civil. No blatant hostility was evident. No obvious suspects stand out from the crowd.


THE SUSPECTS

72-garry-serendipity-082116_2

Profilers are looking at the gathering, breaking them down into age groups and backgrounds. Motive is the big question. Everyone is so vague in their answers. This case calls for someone with expertise.

And, that would be me. The victim. This is my case, my story. I will tell it best because it revolves around me. It always did, in life and now, in death.

A retired, award-winning TV News reporter, I was checking out suspicious things before my demise that warm summer’s day. Now I know it was no coincidence, but at the time, I was bemused by the variety of possible weapons I found in the shed. All so readily available to anyone with a grudge and an opportunity to commit murder.

I’d covered so many murders in my forty plus years on the job, I knew something was amiss. Something was strange, wrong. Creepy. Unfortunately, I was right. Pity I didn’t realize the object was … me.

I didn’t say anything to anyone. It was pleasant party. I hoped we could avoid family squabbles and enjoy the festivities and go home with nothing more than mild indigestion to deal with. Everyone was focused on food. Hot dogs, burgers, salad, coke and beer. Good stuff. Classic American cuisine.

72-food-grill-barbecue-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_082

I was on my third or fourth hot dog. Feeling pretty good. I discreetly eyed the other guests, trying to put those weapons I’d seen out of my mind. Conversation was light. Restrained. Most guests kept their distance. Something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on precisely what.

72-shed-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_058

It fell on me to make some toasts, I suppose because of my professional background. I looked at the faces as I offered some light banter. No one seemed offended — but no one really laughed. I must’ve touched someone’s hot button — but who?

I turned around to get some water. I felt a whack on the back of my head. The world went blank.

The Victim!

The FIRST victim!

On the ground unable to move, I could still hear the people gathered around me. I hoped someone was calling for help, but it seemed everyone was taking pictures — of me — or selfies with my body as background.

I heard giggles and laughter. Then nothing. Nothing but The Big Sleep.


More to come! Suggestions anyone? We suspect there will be at least one more victim, probably more than one. Who’s the killer … and what’s the motive? 

 

LATE MIDSUMMER MURDER MYSTERY by GARRY ARMSTRONG

THIS IS FICTION! NOT TRUE. A STORY. NOT A REAL EVENT.

Homage to MidSomer Murders from Garry Armstrong, the show’s current number one fan. And with a nod  and a wink to Sunset Boulevard and Philip Marlowe. On the occasion of our granddaughter’s 20th birthday, a lovely little murder.

Photographs (mostly) by Marilyn Armstrong,  except for the first one, which is Garry’s, aka “The Victim.”


Shock waves are still reverberating throughout our pastoral valley. Some call it a loss of innocence for this small town. Usually, the biggest news is about roadwork tying up traffic on main street. Burglaries or car break-ins top the police blotter. No one worries about big city violence. Everyone knows everybody. It’s that kind of town.

72-Main-St-Uxbridge-GA_047

My granddaughter’s birthday party murder was the game changer!

State police are still sifting through the testimony of party guests. Records are being checked for previous criminal activity. Cold cases are being unwrapped, searching for clues or patterns.

The honored guest

The honored guest

Reviewing party guests, no one stands out as an obvious suspect. Everyone seems pleasant, amiable. Perhaps not overly friendly, but polite and civil. No blatant hostility was evident. No obvious suspects stand out from the crowd.


THE SUSPECTS

Profilers are looking at the gathering, breaking them down into age groups and backgrounds. Motive is the big question. Everyone is so vague in their answers. This case calls for someone with expertise.

And, that would be me. The victim. This is my case, my story. I will tell it best because it revolves around me. It always did, in life and now, in death.

72-Garry-Fenway-Park_185

A retired, award-winning TV News reporter, I was checking out suspicious things before my demise that warm summer’s day. Now I know it was no coincidence, but at the time, I was bemused by the variety of possible weapons I found in the shed. All so readily available to anyone with a grudge and an opportunity to commit murder.

I’d covered so many murders in my forty plus years on the job, I knew something was amiss. Something was strange, wrong. Creepy. Unfortunately, I was right. Pity I didn’t realize the object was … me.

I didn’t say anything to anyone. It was pleasant party. I hoped we could avoid family squabbles and enjoy the festivities and go home with nothing more than mild indigestion to deal with. Everyone was focused on food. Hot dogs, burgers, salad, coke and beer. Good stuff. Classic American cuisine.

72-food-grill-barbecue-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_082

I was on my third or fourth hot dog. Feeling pretty good. I discreetly eyed the other guests, trying to put those weapons I’d seen out of my mind. Conversation was light. Restrained. Most guests kept their distance. Something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on precisely what.

72-shed-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_058

It fell on me to make some toasts, I suppose because of my professional background. I looked at the faces as I offered some light banter. No one seemed offended — but no one really laughed. I must’ve touched someone’s hot button — but who?

I turned around to get some water. I felt a whack on the back of my head. The world went blank.

The Victim!

The Victim!

On the ground unable to move, I could still hear the people gathered around me. I hoped someone was calling for help, but it seemed everyone was taking pictures — of me — or selfies with my body as background.

I heard giggles and laughter. Then nothing. Nothing but The Big Sleep.


To be continued … as soon as we figure out what happens next!

And since that was indeed a gather together of friends and family in celebration …

The Daily Post | Together

HACKING THE PACEMAKER

EPISODE: NCIS – NEED TO KNOW (2012)

Short Synopsis:
Tamer Hassan guest starred as Arms Dealer Agah Bayar.

Tamer Hassan guest starred as Arms Dealer Agah Bayar.

Alan Katzenbach, a lawyer, waits for Gibbs with his client, a chief petty officer named Leland Wiley. Wiley was busted for drugs and wants to trade information he has — which he claims involves national security and Agah Bayar, the arms dealer.

Gibbs is interested. Wiley comes over to talk, but grabs his heart and drops to the ground.

Gibbs comes for the update from Ducky. Turns out, Wiley had top security clearance and his workstation is locked down. They haven’t been able to connect him to Bayar yet.

Abby calls Gibbs to the lab. She tells him Wiley’s pacemaker was linked into a computer to monitor it. Someone hacked it and raised his heart rate up to more than 400 beats per minute.

“Somebody murdered Wiley by remote control,” she says.

What does this have to do with me?

Well, I’m glad you asked. This particular episode so intrigued the heart surgery team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston (where I had all that heart surgery in March 2013), that they decided to see if it really could be done. Could you “attack” a pacemaker by remote control? One of the people that performed the experiment was my surgeon.

They did it, though my surgeon pointed out you had to be no more than a couple of feet from the pacemaker to affect it. But you could affect it. So, they contacted the manufacturer who changed the programming to protect it from potential attack. Cool, yes?

In theory, nobody can hack my pacemaker. I am safe from remote terrorists. Which is good, because worrying about it was keeping me up at night.

I find it oddly comforting. Garry finds it disturbing. I suppose I can see where he’s coming from. He doesn’t like thinking about the mechanical and electronic stuff that keeps me alive. It would creep me out too, but I’m a bit of a geek and can detach from it on a personal level and get into the coolness of the electronics.

RBB-pacemaker

It is  kind of creepy. However, it doesn’t matter. No matter how I feel about it, I’ve got this thing in my chest. It keeps my heart beating. If my heart beat on its own, I wouldn’t need the pacemaker.

Every time I go for a pacemaker checkup, they use a little machine and briefly stop the pacemaker to see if my heart will beat without it. My heart stops beating. Talk about creepy. It is an icky feeling. Anyone with a pacemaker knows what I mean.

The blue tooth remote functions work. They are (in theory) more secure than they were before the NCIS episode aired and the guys got curious. Remote functionality is important. After all, I might need a remote tune-up. Blue tooth lets my doctor access my pacemaker from … how far? I don’t actually know. A considerable distance, whatever that is.

Garry — again — doesn’t want to know about it. I pointed out if someone murders me, this is potentially important evidence. He would rather not think about it.

So there we are. Too creepy?

I can feel my pacemaker. It’s in the hollow by my left shoulder. The outline is visible. I can feel the wires, the connections through my skin. It’s impossible to ignore. I might as well find it interesting. It’s part of me, after all.