Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life on the inside (or alternately titled “Baby, it’s cold outside”)


Okay, I admit it; I'm weird.  This Friday morning I woke up at my regular time (5:45am) and even though I have the day off, I quickly grabbed the remote & turned on the tv--ah, perfect timing.  The weather segment on the morning news was just starting and as predicted, the temperature is around -10F (and with the wind chill, -20F).  We are in a serious deep freeze & it hasn't been this cold in 15 years!  All schools are closed today, and businesses left & right are shutting down too, it seems... oh dear.  Heh heh!

Okay, I know it's not funny--this is dangerous stuff.  But I requested the day off a couple weeks ago (only because I have a bit of vacation time accumulated), & didn't know it would work out as well as it did.  When the weatherman says "Please don't go out unless you absolutely have to" then I have NO CHOICE but to be a recluse for the day!  

The only thing to do now is make a pot of coffee and decide what I'm going to do for the day that doesn't require me to leave my couch for any extended period of time.  Now where's that remote?    

BSG Season 4 

Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica just arrived a couple days ago from & I couldn't be more excited; who knew that a campy 70's TV show would someday be remade to become one of the greatest sci-fi series in tv history? 


Truth be told however, I admit to having some mixed feelings about my 'forced captivity'; when I scheduled today off, I'd forgotten all about Monday being a holiday too.  So aside from some marathon episode viewing of Battlestar Galactica...I suppose I'd better find some other things to do or else I really WILL feel like a prisoner.   blue warrior artwork


Just got this cool piece of primitive artwork for my prison cell...


If my sister Shawn was here, she'd probably be beside herself--"why don't you turn off that computer for awhile, get off your couch & hang those new patio drapes??"  Well, I suppose if I get bored enough...okay, this is something I've been meaning to do for a couple weeks now; but my stepstool is outside, and my patio doors are frozen shut!  It would appear that Mother Nature has granted me a reprieve.

All this prison-related nonsense reminds me of a rather chilling tale, something I've always kept mum about--but now it feels okay to share.  (And in true Dragnet fashion, the name of a particular friend has been changed to 'protect the innocent'.)



"The Curious Case of a Friend of a Friend"

A few years ago I was good friends with a quiet, hardworking girl who I'll refer to as Paula.  I liked her immensely (& still do) so I was concerned when I arrived at work one morning to find her pretty upset.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said it was nothing, but later confessed she was torn up inside because her best friend since college was in PRISON at the moment, on "trumped up charges" for something her friend's husband had done.  

I said "What'd he do?  Steal a car?  Forge some checks?"  Paula said there was some theft involved, but didn't want to go into any detail.  The only thing she added was that he was an ex-Navy Seal, and was seriously mental.  Sensing her reluctance to talk about it, I dropped the matter.

As the weeks followed, I would ask her from time to time how her friend was (who was in a Maryland prison that Paula often visited on weekends).  She usually just replied "despondent" or "feeling hopeless".

Several weeks later, I'm talking to my mom on the phone & she asks me if I've seen a recent 'crime special' on A&E called 'Thrill Killers', which she loved. (It's being repeated that night.)  It involves a young local woman--Erika Sifrit, only child of a well-to-do family who meets an ex-Navy seal named Benjamin Sifrit while on vacation & marries him just a couple weeks later.  Her parents grow increasingly alarmed as their daughter & new son-in-law get into tattoos, snakes and guns (& unknown to anyone, breaking into places like Hooters to steal & sell logo-merchandise on Ebay.)


(Erika & her husband Benjamin, in Ocean City)

What makes their story especially chilling is when this young couple go on vacation to Ocean City, Maryland.  While there, they befriend another couple, invite them back to their condo.  The couple is shot & their bodies are disposed of.   No reason--Erika insists her husband was obsessed with the idea of killing people for the sheer thrill of it.   How were they caught?  They were burglarizing the Hooters restaurant there, tripped an alarm & the police arrived.  While doing a search of the Sifrits vehicle, various personal items belonging to a 'missing couple on the news' are found.  Erika is even wearing the missing man's ring on a necklace (at her husbands insistence).  She later confesses to helping chop up the bodies and dumping them in various dumpsters about Ocean City. 

(They were tried separately, and Erika received 'life plus 20' for supposedly masterminding the crime, which she vehemently denied. She was currently waiting for the Supreme Court to hear her appeal.)

It was fascinating stuff, and then it hit me--this guy was an ex-Navy Seal?  How often do you hear that? Isn't my friend Paula's girlfriend married to a--it can't be!  The next day I approach Paula:  "Is your friend Erika Sifrit by chance?"  She says "Oh no--how did you find out?"  OMIGOD! 

I tell her about the A&E special, the ex-Navy Seal and putting two & two together; she says "I knew I let something slip.  Douglas, I've known Erika for years & this was her husband's madness, not hers." 

We talked about it from time to time, and Paula never wavered in her belief that her friend was innocent of the murders, let alone masterminded anything--just a submissive person, and fearful of Benjamin & his threats on her family's life.  She told me stories about Erika's life in prison & sometimes after a boring weekend, I'd say "I know how Erika feels, sometimes my little apartment feels like prison too"  and Paula always said the same thing:  "Doug, trust me it's not.  You have no idea." 

For the record, Erika appealed her sentence all the way to the Maryland Supreme Court, on the grounds that she had been led to believe the DA would get her a reduced sentence if she showed them where the body parts were disposed of.  Her appeals were all denied.   And finally, when I told my mom about my 'connection of sorts' to this famous case, I thought she'd love it but that didn't exactly happen.

MOM:  Doug, please don't let Paula know your full name!

DOUG: Mom I've worked beside her for years--trust me, she knows it.

MOM:  Does Erika Sifrit know that her friend Paula works with you?

DOUG: Yeah, Paula tells Erika about our talks sometimes.

MOM:  PLEASE TELL ME that Erika doesn't know your name!  She's a criminal mastermind!  WHO KNOWS what underworld connections she has on the outside!

DOUG:  Mom, you seriously can't--okay, she'll never know.

Well, even though I doubted her innocence, I never saw Erika as a 'criminal mastermind'; but as time went by I did come to believe she was everything Paula said she was.  Just a nice girl that was so eager to do the right thing, she did all the wrong things instead.

Okay, I don't feel like I'm in Apache-Prison anymore.  And Shawn, if you're reading this...I'm going to get to work on hanging those new drapes.

                native american freedom

Thursday, January 1, 2009

As 2009 arrives, I believe it’s time for a New Year’s Revolution

 the warrior contemplates  

I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions.  Every year someone will ask me if I've made any, and every year it's the same answer--"nope!"   I'm not saying there isn't a lot of room for self improvement, but they've always seemed like a copout to me.  Why put off until the New Year what you should've been doing six months ago?

However, that's about to change.  Lately I've been mulling over some needed "personal projects", and with the New Year approaching... well, it seems as good a time as any to make it all official.   But today IS a holiday (technically), so I don't think ONE more day of old habits is going to hurt anyone, right?  

I have a slice of raisin pie in the fridge, some deli rolls & a nice piece of kielbassa and sauerkraut simmering on the stove; and as soon as everything's ready...bring on the Big Love!



I rented the first episode of this HBO series on a lark, and fell in love with the show immediately.  Bill Paxton plays an earnest polygamist from Utah who "leaves the compound" to start a successful chain of home improvement stores and (hopefully) find happiness in a typical American suburb.  The entire time I watched Season One, not once did I feel envious of this character married to 3 beautiful wives--they certainly don't glamorize it.  Yet in one episode when Chloe Sevigny (the creepy traditionalist & the most interesting character, IMHO) says "how on Earth do marriages with only one husband and wife do it??"  I found myself nodding my head in agreement.     I've gotta say though, the show sometimes makes me feel lonelier than usual.  This guy has 3 wives & I can't find one.  I know, I know--it's only a TV show! August 1997 on vacation at Dondas


Getting back to the Revolution... it's time to fight the good fight 


This is a picture of me in August 1997.  My sister Shawn and I were on vacation and visiting our sister Donda (who was living in the South at the time).  I weighed 163 lbs & was pretty darn proud of myself; I'd spent the previous six months on a daily exercise regimen to drop 20+ pounds, swore off junk food (well, for the most part) and was in the best shape of my life.  So what happened??

Since 2003, I've weighed over 200 lbs & have been in constant denial about it being anything more than a few excess pounds.  (Why is that?  It always takes a recent photo that jars me back to reality.)  Last year I dropped around 15 lbs which I've managed to keep off, but I am STILL 45 LBS HEAVIER THAN I WAS IN THIS PICTURE.    



My current weakness is hot dogs in natural casing & topped with everything; I'm partial to Jalapeno mustard or chili & cheese...d'oh!

I don't have any delusions about looking any younger, but I am READY to be that thin guy again.  I mean it!  And that's my first resolution:  drop 40 pounds.  No pills or fad diets... just exercise & eating right.  Several weeks ago I joined a new 'weekly weight progress' at my job with a couple coworkers, but I haven't been taking it as seriously as I should.  That's about to change. 

Maybe I should post my weekly loss/gain here as well...the humiliation would be a great motivator.


Unfortunately, losing weight is only half the battle...

I've got a wealth of books and movies at my disposal, friends and family that are only a phone call away, and yet almost every night when I get home from work--what's the first thing I do when I walk in that door?  I flip open my laptop (to warm up while I change my clothes & go thru the mail).   I may not be on it constantly, but it's a constant companion--sitting here beside me on the couch for most of the evening.

What happened to the good old days of just turning on the TV instead?   Heh heh...

Seriously though, while I love being online, and I do appreciate the good friends I've made there, I'm already spending 8-9 hours a day in front of a computer while at work.  I need to cut back on the time I spend online--answering those emails can wait until the morning.  (I used to read 3-4 books a month; now it takes me weeks to get thru one.)  I also used to tease my sister Shawn about never spending any time on her own computer outside of work, but now...hmph. 

Well, all this rambling & I've only covered a couple things; there's a few other resolutions in the works, but this has been boring enough; besides, I think I a couple of them deserve blogs of their own.  (Look for an upcoming piece titled "Let's get Personal" in the weeks ahead.)   Thanks for stopping by, and I hope everyone who reads this has a Happy New Year.