~ Today they are not knocking on my door, but 16 of them (or so) were waiting just outside.
The day began today when my wife looked out one of our windows and said, “There are a bunch of big, rough looking, men outside,” and “what do you think they want?”
Don’t get me wrong, I like my neighborhood. As neighbors we know each other, watch out for each other, watch each others homes. It’s like “Neighborhood Watch”, but better; it’s better because it is NOT neighborhood watch, no blue signs with that big “seeing eye” that looks like homeland security. We have had our spate with Blackwater, just said “no” to their troops. A couple of all black security cars still hang around, hoping for business, for a contract on or from the kids.
Their “service” was too creepy. Their “service” cost too much; it was like a protection racket gone really bad, the actual company was under indictment in California (for fraud). The web is good at defeating the bad guys in their games. The local police are nice enough, or nice enough to me. They watch the neighborhood and the neighborhood watches them like “community policing” should work. Bad cops can go be killers someplace else; we don’t need the beatings. The pay is OK if you behave yourself, and there really is a future and the retirement package is good too.
And too the movies hire movie cops – security. They hire rent-a-cops and real cops who do overtime. Someone has to protect the generators and those so very expensive cameras and lights. There is little action. The police just usually wave. All the neighbors just ignore them or wave back.
A former superintendent of state prisons lives across the street, or down the street, or something. I watch his house and he watches mine. He knows the drill. The best that there are trained him. He made friends with those inside. It was his job, and they got along and “talked” because “they” wanted out. He does other things now.
Then there are the flights of Ospreys overhead, a police helicopter or two, the news choppers too. A safer neighborhood you couldn’t ask for. There are so many people, groups, CIA agents and security watching everybody watching everybody that it is a wonder if anyone knows who is watching who. Sure, sometimes there are attacks on cars; a stereo or wedding present is stolen. Some people don’t know why cars come with a trunk. Sometimes too con artists knock on the doors, offer work that doesn’t work, or a job that doesn’t pay.
I wrote a week ago about the film people going bad filming breaking bad or close encounters or in plain sight or something. They left their generators on too long, untested and without proper permits they are too dirty. The law will catch up with them in time.
So I looked out, saw the crowd, thought it might be another shooting (with film, not guns, or not real guns of course, or real guns with no proper ammunition – meaning shooting blanks like Hollywood often does). There are enough weapons behind neighbors doors to equip a small-time army. Nobody has to say, “Keep off the grass.” Even the joggers keep to the streets. But that is because the sidewalks are in such (often) bad repair and the streets are so squeaky clean and clear that every jogger gets noticed (and not run down).
The park people did the flower planting yesterday. Lately the park has been a ruin. They went to change the main, a 3/4 inch pipe was to become a 1/2 inch one to save water in this desert place. The job has taken more than four months, lots of digging. One planter has been a constant ruin, an endless big hole, a series of pipes and wires to nowhere. It is city work; it’s the city (parks and recreation) that doesn’t always seem to get the work right. But when they do, it’s good.
So the “rough guys” were running back and forth across the street from the park to my front walkway, the starting point to my house. There was a congregation, at least one woman among all these men. They were standing over my water meter. Looking down. Looking like they were about to film an entire drought and then maybe put the blame on me. Parks is fine, but who needs all this recreation? Everybody may love a crowd, but on ones doorstep it isn’t always so fine.
“May I help you,” an older voice said. “May I help YOU,” I said. We looked at each other a moment; three guys ran across the street, eight others waited. “That’s my water meter,” I said; implying clearly that the Water Works people usually read the meter just using one (person) and now it is even easier as they use remote control (meaning electronic signal communication).
“Oh,” the older man said, “we are just measuring the distance from here to the park.” We are doing law enforcement training. We are having a class on accident and crime scene investigations, learning how to measure distances and draw a map of the scene. This corner is perfect, it’s not just a square, streets and roads everywhere. Don’t quote me.
He offered me a web address for his organization, promised to keep off my grass. Everyone was smiling now, and measuring, and writing down numbers and taping down tape measures that stretched along and across all the streets. The distance to the park sign was measured, the offset to the sun dial was next. The width of each sidewalk was noted. Neighbors watched from along and across the street. One finally walked over and inquired about what was happening and was so glad that the seven or eight police cars (scattered and hidden) were not really about me.
I guess I talked for what seemed like an hour. One guy was from the Florida panhandle, near the Corexit, but missed it. The other trainer was from Jamestown, New York. They travel the country doing this thing. It isn’t exactly training surveyors or for surveying, but the use of tapes and measures gets the point across. It’s like using metes and bounds, but a little better. There are better ways to do all of this, but they don’t pay me, so I just smiled and stayed happy. It was nice meeting a new friend and watching the neighborhood continue to bloom.
I mentioned that I had made a drawing of the park for a drinking fountain project a few neighbors had in mind. The project involved a trash can too. The city (P&R Dept.) had taken away our old one and left a $6.25 silver one in its place. It was ugly, dented, and shined too brightly in the sun. We (the near neighbors) had paid for the park in the beginning, the trash can, everything – so the least the city could do was replace it. That started a six month war, the WAR for Oxnard Park (or something). It is an interesting story. Before it gets lost, I should post the whole thing here.
I guess “the test” is over. All the law enforcement people had the morning to get their measurements in order. The afternoon was to do the drawing. Four hours, freehand. This type of exercise makes one think, which is very good. So I guess (meaning I think) my map can be posted now, and it will not ruin the exercise. It is pretty exact (meaning accurate). Meaning everything is to scale.
The names are not filled in, so an explanation appears below. But here is:
A MAP OF OXNARD PARK, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
North is at the top. A sense of scale can be realized by the fact that the round planters (in yellow) are from 10 – 15 feet across. The three small blue basins in the middle is the drinking fountain that the neighbors offered to pay for, but that we never got. The basin furthest south is a low one that would have offered fresh water to thirsty dogs.
The light green areas are grass, the brown ovals are the trunks of trees, two are cottonwoods; the southern most two are Siberian Elms. The walkways are cement, originally washed pebbles. The long yellow lines at the north and to the east are the curb cuts that we DID get put in (in 2009), to make the park legal and accessible for those using wheelchairs among us; but they are also good for skateboarders and roller skaters and infants in baby carriages and for kids with rolling push-cars and like toys. I ride my bicycle to and through the park now (when the coast is clear).
The red box is the control box with the wires for the remote controlled water system that often doesn’t work. The blue dot to the south is the 85 year old telephone pole that is just a light pole for the light that lights up the south end of the park.
The two red squares are the pylons that a month ago we finally got removed. They were not a part of the original park plan as they made the first wheelchair ramp in Albuquerque for “accessibility”, inaccessible. The distance between the wood poles was too narrow. They are gone now so this ramp is finally accessible after about 37 years.
Just north of (and next to) the pylons is the trash can that we finally got. It took like sixteen letters, a wedding, death, and funeral, a city council resoulution and four months, fifty emails, and the coming of hell and high water to make it happen. Some of us are willing to work harder than others.
The little yellow square is the original Oxnard Park sundial location. The “dial” was too sharp, so now it’s gone. A plaque has taken its place giving credit to the Oxnard Family who brought the park to the neighborhood and also flying to Albuquerque circa 1928. The original Oxnard Field was the TAT airport, now near the Albuquerque Sunport.
North of the sundial (pedestal), on the grass, is the pole and the Oxnard Park sign. A month ago we got a new second sign with Albuquerque Park Rules. The old sign was old and worn out, had old rules that needed to be replaced. Replacing the sign took two years and two months. Who says this city is slow?
The blue box on the left side (west side) of the park is the water meter. I have the record of several months of usage. The change in pipe diameter is good. Grey water watering at Oxnard Park is out of the question, the park is too small and the distances to grey water are too great.
Getting the measure of any park is good. Knowing a little history about ones local park is also good. Parks do need water. Which brings us to the drinking fountain; but that’s another story. I guess the law enforcement people brought their own bottled water.
[“Law Enforcement” Post written on May 26, 2011 @ 04:51 ZLT / GMT / Zulu / UTC]