Saturday, August 10, 2019

My Lie Detector Test

Today I was cleaning out a file cabinet and came across an article I wrote almost 15 years ago. I told my son what I found and he suggested I post it here since it's been hiding away in a file all these years. I'm sure things have changed since then but this is my experience. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past.

Today I passed the (local) police department's polygraph! This was something required for my application to be a victim advocate for the department. I was very interested in finding out how this would all work!

I was first scheduled for the polygraph on a Friday. However, once it was known that I was on a beta blocker blood pressure medicine, I was required to get a note from my doctor "releasing me for a polygraph" before I could take the test. I was most efficient in getting my doctor's note and had it turned in at the the police department by 9:00 a.m. the next day. I waited for another week before I was called and given another appointment. The lieutenant conducting the test apologized for the delay in getting back to me as he was swamped with work. This time I was scheduled for Thursday, September 16, 2004.

The test started in a small, private room with carpeted walls and a desk with a computer and a big black chair for me to sit in. The chair looked like the electric chair at the prison, with maybe the back not so high (no, I've never seen a terminal chair in person!) The arm rests were wide and so was the chair. I had to show my drivers license to prove I was indeed who I said I was. After I sat in the black chair, the lieutenant pulled his chair from behind the desk to face me at an 11:00 o'clock angle and three feet from me. The first thing we did was to go through six pages of questions. He explained it was to get to know me as deeply as possible.  The questions confirmed my name and then got specific.  He asked if I had discipline as I was growing up and who administered that discipline?  Who was my hero? What did I do for fun or hobbies? What time did I go to bed last night; get up this morning and what did I eat for breakfast? From there the questions were about "if I have ever" lied, cheated, stolen, used illegal drugs, physically assaulted anyone, had arrests and motor vehicle tickets, abuse of alcohol, peeking tom episodes or sexually assaulted anyone, forged checks. Some of the questions were asked over and over, just in different ways. If there was ever any hesitation "to think" it was quickly asked "what came to mind, what was I thinking?" Then it became necessary to explain any random thoughts that may have occurred (one thought I had to explain was that I remembered "biting" my friend when I was five or six!). This part of the test took one hour and 40 minutes. It quickly became obvious that one couldn't get by with dodging a thing as I was so closely watched with every question and ANY hesitation had to be explained.

After answering all questions as honestly as possible, I was then given a break and the "chosen" questions were put into the computer. This break lasted about 15 minutes. During this break I was escorted back into the lobby area where there was a bathroom and hallways plus displays to distract me while I waited. 

The next phase involved the polygraph machine and hook up wires. Once again, in the little room, I was directed back to the big, black chair. This time there was an electrified pad on the  seat for me to sit on. This pad would record any movement I made during the test (like squirming in my seat). A chain was wrapped around my upper bust and another chain around my waist. These were to record my heart rate. On my right hand I had electrodes wrapped on my index finger and ring finger. These were to record my sweating response.  Finally a blood pressure cuff was put on my upper left arm to record my body blood flow.  All this would measure my systemic (involuntary) response to questions for a fight, flight or freeze response.  I also noticed a glass bubble on the ceiling and I asked "who is watching us?" I was told that's the video camera that can be used for some polygraphs. It is never used for employment polygraphs, however. 

My first "test" involved my writing down a number between two and eight on a tablet of paper. Then I circled the number I wrote. The lieutenant then wrote above my number "5" the numbers 2, 3, 4, with my circled 5 in place followed by 6, 7, 8. My "only" opportunity to lie came next. With the polygraph running, I was to answer "NO" to every question. "Did I write number 2? Did I write number 3? Did I write number 4," answering NO to "did I write number 5," followed by the other numbers.  My "lie" was easily detected on the graphs on the computer so with that "lie" established, we moved on to the "real" testing. I was told specifically I was not to lie anymore!

With the next part of the test, it was necessary to sit very, very still. If I moved at all, the chart (test on the computer) would have to be done over. I was to sit straight, still, with eyes closed and answer ONLY with a yes or no. Explanations were not acceptable. There were about 8 or so questions and they were to be done up to six times, each in a different chart and in a different order of questioning. The polygrapher started by saying "the test is starting" then the blood pressure cuff filled up and he came around the desk to push out any air bubbles in the cuff. Without moving, I would  answer with the yes or no to each question. There was about 30 to 45 seconds between each question which recorded any physical response I had from my answer to the question. Some of the questions were: "Is your name Rita? Are you in Colorado? Have you ever lied to me at anytime? Have you ever used illegal drugs? Is there anything you're ashamed of? Have you ever taken credit for something you didn't do? Have you ever physically assaulted anyone? Have you ever taken another person's prescription drugs?"  If I can remember any of the other questions I'll fill them in as it was so intense one couldn't really "dwell" on any of the questions or do much thinking during this time. It was important to keep still and not count the number of questions or think what they were. Afterwards the lieutenant would always ask if one question stood out more than another and I couldn't even remember what the questions were!

I noticed during the tests, my breathing was very shallow and the blood pressure cuff was very tight. After the last question of each chart, I was told "the test is not over yet" as the air was let out of the blood pressure cuff. I was still not to move at this point. Eventually I would be told that I could wiggle my fingers and move slightly if I needed to. One time I said I needed to "yawn" as I had been breathing so shallow. I asked if everyone else breathed shallow during this and he replied that "everyone is different."

After three charts, the session was finished. I asked if I had responses to anything on the test. I think I was being "tested" as I was told "you did have some response to the question of having ever used illegal drugs." I burst out in a spontaneous laugh and said "oh that's so funny as that's something that I absolutely have never done." As I found out later, another person taking the test had the same experience when they were told they had a response to a totally off the wall question. I think there were all sort of little "tests" in the questions, etc. to check us out! It was like probing us to admit to some deep, dark secret we hadn't revealed!

I was told I had passed and that I'd be recommended to be a victim advocate. I asked if the readings were like an EKG chart. My records were then opened on the computer and I saw the reading of my heart rate, sweat response and answered responses. Every line was in a different color and it was obvious that I had no spikes on the tests. Out of curiosity and  wanting to find out as much as I could, I asked if I could have a copy of my written report. I was told that this is so confidential that even I couldn't have a copy. All paper work is kept behind a locked door in cabinets that only three people have keys for. These three keys are in protected custody of the three polygraphers in the police department and they don't look at each other's files. After four years, employment polygraphs are shredded. Other polygraph records may be kept longer for court requests and criminal reports, etc.

September 17, 2004, the next day. I'm amazed at how today I feel like I've been turned inside out and back again. When I returned home after the test, I was drained and on the verge of a headache. It was the intensity of the polygraph that I think I was feeling. It wasn't unpleasant to do the test or did I feel scared or threatened in any way. I only wanted to be as honest as possible and truthful. I guess deep soul searching and an unconscious response gave me this feeling. I have thought a lot about this experience in the last day and I see where going over it in my mind is a kind of debriefing of everything. It was a most interesting experience and I find some satisfaction in knowing "I passed my Police Department's polygraph test in flying colors."

Comment today (August 10, 2019): Fifteen years is a long time. I have no idea whether the same procedures are used now that I described here. My advice: always tell the truth. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Joy of the Big Round Table

Entertaining is something I love to do. Over the years I've served dinner to family, friends and clergy in California, Louisiana, Texas and Colorado. I've collected dishes, serving pieces and flatware to enhance most any celebration. I'm versatile in indoor or outdoor events as well as tackling small, intimate gatherings or larger shindigs. I entertain with tea parties, ice cream socials, barbecues or holiday dinners.

Family Backyard BBQ Fun!

To pick up hints on entertaining in the best way possible, I have perused many books on the topic. I have tea party books, bed and breakfast books, Martha Stewart books, theme party books, regional books and many more.

Tea Parties are a Favorite of Mine!

I even have another blog started with my love of tea cups:

One book (sadly I don't remember the name of it) inspired me to rethink my dinner table. When the children were young, I had a rather large, rectangular table with two leaves that easily sat 8 to 10 people. When all the children had left home, I thought I'd be down-sizing so I passed the table on. I didn't realize I would still he hosting a growing family, only now one including adult children, grandchildren, college friends and other visitors.

Grandkids Have the Most Fun Sitting at Their Own Table, Even When We Eat Out!

At one of my holiday meals a while back my guests were seated at two smaller tables put end to end. The table looked beautiful but it definitely hampered the conversation between everyone. Waving down the long table was the only way to connect with those at the far end.

I started to notice that my favorite tables in restaurants were round, about 60-inches across and could fit a bunch of us around it. It might be a little crowded but it was easier to converse with everyone. No one seemed to mind the coziness. 

I got it in my head that I "needed" to find a round table! Preferably one that was five-feet across. I already had a smaller round table and loved it but it wasn't round after I put a leaf in it. After starting my search for the perfect table, I found one that was intriguing. It was in a decorator store with a rather high price tag. What I liked about it was that it had leaves that attached to the edges of the table, thus maintaining its round shape when it was enlarged. What I didn't like was the heavy, strange base and the soft wood that would chip easily. I even brought my husband, Rex, to the store to show him what I had found. It was close to what I wanted but this wasn't it. 

Since another holiday was nearing, Rex and I were prompted to do a serious search for a larger table. A round table was my preference but it appeared that the need outweighed the availability. We considered a number of rectangular tables with leaves, almost buying one that luckily was out of stock. After a day of searching, we had one more stop to make.

We had looked in lovely, pricey stores but our final stop was at a consignment store in a new shopping mall. Immediately we felt hopeful as we wandered around the showroom. There were a few table sets all reasonably priced and worth considering. As we made a complete circle through the building we spotted what we wanted in the front corner of the store.

Our table had been waiting for us! There sat a 72 inch round, wooden table with drop down sides and a green wooden base. As we marveled at how perfect this table was, another couple noticed it and indicated interest until they saw that we had dibs on it first. So, with our new-found prize, we were additionally excited to find that with the drop down sides, it would fit in the back of our SUV which saved a hefty delivery charge. As I waited for Rex to back the SUV up to the door, a lady who worked at the store came over to visit. She told me how she wanted this table and she even went home and measured her dining room to see if it would fit. Lucky for us, her dining room was too small!

Our Table is Considered a Carpenter's Dream. I Love the Folding Legs.

A few days after bringing the table home we had our first holiday dinner on it. We had 10 people and it was delightful having everyone sitting around the new table. I had achieved my dream. 
A Family Christmas Dinner

However, we found out quickly, getting in and out of the table arrangement to go through a buffet line was complicated. It was decided that we needed a very large lazy-susan that everyone could reach. Another search began. Since nothing was available in the size we needed, a perfect round cutout, 36 inches across was found at a hardware store. Rex stained it and put a contraption on the bottom so it would spin.. I don't know what the proper name for it is but it works wonderfully!
Lazy Susan in Place for Easter Dinner

Our new lazy susan became an immediate focus of fun. At our Easter dinner we put all the hot dishes on it and passed the cold bowls between us. As the lazy-susan spun for each person to serve themselves it often was moving before the serving spoon got put back in the proper dish. We were a crowd of hungry people that kept the circle moving!

Thanksgiving rolled around and it was fun  looking forward to another family gathering. I love Fall and the time of Thanksgiving. Even the quilts I make lean heavy on the autumn colors. My Fiesta Ware helps me in celebrating the colors of each season with colorful plates to mix and match with even more added color in round placemats that reflect the shape of the table. 
Ready for the Festivities and Family to Arrive!

Let the Feasting Begin!

Please Pass the Butter

Major holidays aren't the only time we load up our table for fun gatherings. We use the table all year round. Birthday parties, summer gatherings, celebrations of all kinds brings the family together. 

The table sits quietly most of the time with one leaf dropped down, thereby making room to push the table against the dining room wall. The base has movable legs that fold up when a side is dropped. I was told that the table is a replica of an antique style. I sometimes wonder who had the foresight to own this unique table before us and why they were willing to give it up. However, it's found it's place in our home and it feels like it was always meant to be ours. A round table is welcoming and I hope all family, friends and clergy we entertain feel this warmth and welcoming in our home.

Welcome to Our Home and Table!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Petrified Wood Hunting

When my family started planning their first get-together in Nebraska, my husband, Rex, offered to take everyone on one of his favorite childhood hunts. He was to lead the pack on a hunt for petrified wood. Rex knew that petrified wood could be found not too far from the South Platte River.  

Petrified wood starts out as a tree or a tree like plant and eventually turns into a fossilized stone. This occurs when the wood becomes buried under sediment and is preserved by lack of oxygen when the organic wood is replaced with minerals and in time turns to stones of various colors. The colors are due to the elements in the sediment. This process can take millions of years. 

On a very hot Friday afternoon when the temperatures were soaring over 100 degrees, the family donned hats, grabbed water bottles and plastic bags in search of a likely place to search for petrified wood. Our car caravan pulled off the side of the road when this sand draw looked hopeful. 

One by one everyone took turns climbing through barbed wire in pursuit of  ancient fossil wood.  

Even my youngest granddaughter was ready to find her treasures. 

Once the first piece of petrified wood was spotted by my son-in-law, Gabe, the whole gang got into a competitive hunt looking for a bigger piece. Sometimes everyone stayed close together and other times they spread out trying to out-find the others. 

After searching for over an hour the kids decided they were pleased with their finds and wanted to head to the air-conditioned car. I was most happy to accompany them to a much cooler spot while the others kept their look-out for another 45 minutes. 

Abbi was delighted with her find. I did hear that the bigger piece "might" have been her Dad's find but Abbi was quick to claim it as her own. Everyone was hunting together so sharing is caring. 

Once back at our lodge, show and tell was a lively time. An old fashioned scale in the entryway  was brought back into service to weigh the fossil wood of the bigger pieces. The eye can be deceiving. From the day's efforts the all time winner of the largest piece was my son-in-law, Jeff. His petrified wood weighed 815 grams. His piece is the lower one on the picture below. The second place went to his daughter, my granddaughter, Maddie, with a weigh-in of 808 grams on the top of the photo below.  Maddie took the close call all in stride by declaring "it's only the difference of 7 paper clips".

To follow-up on this wonderful field trip, we all visited the Petrified Wood Gallery in Ogalalla, Nebraska. The museum displays petrified wood from all over the world including one case with petrified wood from the South Platte River which flows through Ogalalla. My husband, Rex, and his family know the twin brothers Howard and Harvey Kenfield who started their collection of petrified wood in the 1950's. In 2000 they donated it to be displayed in Ogalalla in this gallery.  Many art pieces are made from petrified wood. The Kenfield brothers have made 3 dimensional pictures of rustic cabins, barns and buildings. You can get a peek at a few of these on their Facebook photo page. I am happy to say we have one of their pieces which Rex's mother, Louise, had bought many years ago. I would love to include a picture of it here but it's currently crated in a special case for protection. When it's out again, I'll add a picture to this post.

The family gathered around the display case showing petrified wood from the local region at the gallery. It's a lovely museum not to miss if you're passing through Ogalalla on I-80.

Field trip anyone?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

School Starting Soon

It's July, 2018, and already thoughts are turning to the start of another school year. My daughter-in-law, a teacher, starts August 1st. The summers are much shorter than when I was a kid. 

As summer melts into school days and even though my own children are grown and out of school I still dabble in carpool lines with my grandkids. Just as when I was in Kindergarten, the time held tradition continues. (I'm third from the right)

When visiting my two oldest grandkids in Minnesota, Grandpa and I were always along for the ride to drop them off or pick them up. This year they are in eight and ninth grade. I remember when they were little and watching for them to find us in the carpool pick up line. Time goes by so quickly.

I always know when our local schools start because an elementary school is my backyard neighbor, I love hearing the kids' noise out on the playground and the school bells ringing. A school zone slows the traffic on my street as school buses rumble past my home.

Grandma Rita in Kindergarten! 

This year another of my grandchildren starts Kindergarten. I remember my Kindergarten days. They were fun and exciting times. One day I had the joy of driving my enthusiastic granddaughter, a Kindergartener, to her school. I think I was as excited to be in school mode as she was. It was a bit intimidating finding my way into the proper place for drop-off and then pick-up. I know all too well there are strict rules about such things. I may be a grandma but such adventures bring back lots of memories of driving my own five children to school.

I had a big, custom van that I drove my children in. I would be waiting for them in the school parking lot and not only my own but all the neighbor kids would come and pile into the van for a ride home. We didn't have to follow a seatbelt law back then so kids sat on the floor in the middle of the row of seats or crowded in however they could. I laughed because most didn't have far to walk home but they loved the social of riding with the others. Once the sliding door was closed, I often didn't even know who all was in the van so I asked for directions to the closest drop-off house. It was a fun time. 

With school starting in August, summer heat still lingers.  Today it reminded me of something I wrote in 1992 while living in Texas. It was a hot carpool day 26 years ago. I don't think the experience has changed very much when the temperatures are soaring. 

Mom's Taxi

It is so hot today!
The soles of my feet burn on the asphalt.
The top of my head smolders.
My clothes are wet and sticky.
Even my eyes burn in the intense heat.

Droplets form across my forehead and
I feel drips sliding down my neck.

I'm in my sun-scorched van
waiting in the carpool line.
School will be out soon.
When the bell rings,
I search the crowd for the little faces
I know.

From one school to the next
I travel.
Waiting at each school 
in the August heat,
in  the carpool line,
for my children.

Post updated from August 28, 2013

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Crawfish Boil

A family crawfish boil has been on my Baton Rouge-born sons' minds for years. Living in  land-locked Colorado, such a thing is rare indeed but they were determined. My boys, Paul and Andrew, checked into the possibility one Mardi Gras. The price was too high at that time so they waited. The next opportunity presented itself when we gathered the immediate family for a reunion in Lewellen, Nebraska over Father's Day weekend, 2018. 

The boys ordered 40 pounds of live crawfish from the Louisiana Crawfish Company in Natchitoches, Louisiana. They arranged to have it flown to Denver and delivered to the home of our oldest son, Paul.  Since Paul had to work he hadn't come up a few days earlier with the rest of the family so it was exciting waiting for Paul to drive up to Lewellen from Denver bringing the big Styrofoam container of live crawfish on Saturday morning. The squirming, smelly crawfish added such excitement when we all took turns peeking into the big white container carefully cradling our anticipated dinner.  

Andrew had the pot, burner, paddle and all the ingredients prepped, the corn, potatoes, onions, garlic and seasonings, ready to start the party once the crawfish were on scene. 

In go the crawfish!  Before our trip I mentioned our impending crawfish boil to local friends, I had to explain they just resemble tiny lobsters. I was hoping that would sooth their imagined disgust. As it turned out my daughter-in-law instigated a bowl of melted butter with creole seasoning added to the table to dip her delicately peeled crawfish in, pretending it really was lobster . I did try it and admit it was a good taste. Of course I like all things butter. 

Andrew stirs the crawfish, corn, potatoes, onions and garlic so they absorb the seasonings well! This boil broth turns everything to eating perfection. 

This golden broth becomes the messy juice that soaks your fingers and runs down your arms.  Even though it's drained off, it perfectly soaks the added sides to complete a most delicious meal.

40 pounds of crawfish and trimmings perfectly cooked and ready to pour onto the newspaper coated picnic table. The newspapers soak up any extra juices and makes for easy clean up of discarded shells and corn cobs. 

Steaming hot, heavy and drained Louisiana goodness brings the excited family to the table with picture opportunities of this amazing and memorable family event.  

My grandkids couldn't wait to make acquaintances with these strange crustaceans.  
My granddaughter, Morgan,  named her friend Sheila and carried her off to play. When I asked her later where Sheila was she replied "I left her under the tree."  Below Jeb is being  introduced to crawfish. 

Maddie's crawfish friend was named Gary. When the pile of crawfish dwindled, it was a time of accusation when Maddie said "Uncle Paul ate Gary". It was all in fun. Luckily no trauma ensued. 

Finally time to dig in! Twist, pull, peel and eat! No forks, spoons or knives, just plenty of paper towels, napkins and messy fingers. To add to the ambiance we even had Cajun music playing to tap our toes to while we slurped the flavorful juices and tender meat. 

Participating in this ultimate outdoor bash, sitting or standing elbow to elbow with our family the spice level on this boil considered that kids would be eating with us. All the same spice is a special flare to enjoy;  beer is the recommended beverage. Note the koozie from our wonderful supplier of the fresh and live crawfish. 

Finally, here's a picture of the happy crawfish eating gang. Notice our family T-shirts designed by my son, Matt.  

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ham Radio General License KE0EUS

After getting my Technician License in May, 2015, I started thinking about getting the next license, a General License. I bought the book and started to study. I hadn't gotten past chapter 5 out of 7 chapters before I had to have shoulder replacement surgery and a follow up repair.  By the time my head was clear enough to consider studying again, the book I was studying from had expired. The questions for the test and the books are changed every 5 years. I told myself I had no interest in chapters 6 and 7 anyway so I gave up the idea. 

As time passed I joined the Denver Radio Club and pursed my VHF and UHF contacts along the Front Range of Colorado. I was plenty happy with that using my Yaesu RT-60. One day while playing around on, a call sign data base, I decided to look up the town in Minnesota where my daughter lives to see if any licensed hams lived near by. I thought it would be good to have a contact in case I needed someone to check in on her and her family. Going through the 125 names listed, I found Eric, K0EAP, whose address sounded like it could be somewhere near my daughter. He had pictures of his antennas and lots of info on his call sign page so I sent him an e-mail. He immediately wrote me back and said he could see my daughter's house from his house, they were about 500 feet apart. 

I should have known I was starting to branch out beyond my Front Range contacts with a new Minnesota email friend. It didn't take long for Eric to tell me how fun it is to have an advanced license and I should go for my General. That same week one of my local ham friends from our Denver Radio Club told me I needed to get my General license. So the idea grew on me. I got a new book, signed up for a cram class given by the Patriot VE testing at the Red Cross Center and studied for the two weeks before my test. Study I did too. I was intimidated by the math and parts that I really had no interest in. I told a few people what I was doing and to please pray I can pass this test .During the classes I felt confident that I knew quite a few answers and that I had a chance to pass fairly well. 

The General test was given the same day as our second class. I was ready, so I thought. Looking at the test before me, I wondered where did these questions even come from. Even the equations I memorized in the book did not have the answer in the multiple choice to choose from. It was like I was working my way through a foreign language exam. I handed in my test sheets and just shook my head I was sure I hadn't passed. I was feeling embarrassed and deflated.

The 7 of us taking the exam waited in the lobby for our results. We compared questions that were on our individual tests and what answers we had chosen. I realized then that I had been given one of the harder tests. Some of the people had easy questions with basic answers. I had none of those.  As we waited, the examiner came into the lobby and called out one name at a time, congratulating them. It was hard waiting for the examiner to return again and again wondering each time if this was news for me. Finally I saw the examiner heading towards me. My heart truly dropped as he had an expression that I thought wasn't carrying good news. Guys before me had received perfect scores and the level of elation in the room was high. I was feeling quite devastated. When the examiner got to me his words of Congratulations almost dropped me to my knees. I was shaking and in total disbelief. It felt like an act of God's Mercy. As the examiner returned to get my paper work to sign, I tried to clear my head and even wondered if he made a mistake. I decided if he did come back with my temporary license, I would sign the paper and leave as soon as possible before he changed his mind.

I'm happy to say it all went through. However, I did find out I most likely did have heavenly intervention. The success wasn't all mine. I called my dear Mother who I had been praying for me and told her the joyful news. It was then I learned how this all happened. My dear 88 year old Mother told me what she prayed. She said "I asked God and Daddy to be with you. If you wrote down a wrong answer, I asked them to change it to the right answer." You know, I truly believe that's how I passed my General License. It keeps me humble as I had heavenly help. I don't know what happened to my test after I turned it in but I believe it received some blessed attention.   Thank you, Mama, God and Daddy for your help!