KN, p. 187 “On the Road – Get Ready for the Blizzard”



“Blizzard? What blizzard? It’s 70 degrees outside!” That’s Sheila talking as she looks over my shoulder.


I’ll have you know that there has been snow falling in the northwestern part of the USA already. In 2018, the northwest received over 400 inches of the white stuff, with the midwest getting pounded often enough that there were cars and trucks stuck on the roads for a while.

I never think about being prepared to get stuck for hours because I live in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. If traffic stops for any length of time, people have been known to get out of their cars, leave them on the highway and walk to the houses close by. That can cause a LOT of headaches when snow plows come through during the blizzards.


But, it’s not an option to leave the car in the middle of no place during a blizzard when you might be miles away from help. It’s usually warmer inside the car, plus it’s a shelter until help does arrive.


What do you do when you get caught traveling to a vacation spot or a storm moves in more quickly than the weatherman predicted? It is possible to die if help is a long time coming or your car gets buried in snow, so how do you avoid that?


To borrow a phrase from the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared.


If the weatherman isn’t sure about the path of the storm and you need to get somewhere a couple of hours away, follow these tips:


  1. Make sure you have a full gas tank.
  2. Let someone at your destination know your predicted arrival time.
  3. Charge your cell phone.
  4. Travel with snacks and several bottles of water for each passenger.
  5. Toss a couple of blankets in the car, just in case.
  6. Always travel with flashlights, but before the trip, check the battery power.
  7. Keep kitty litter in the trunk, in case you get stuck and need traction to get out of the slick spot.
  8. Buy a short shovel (available in auto supply stores) and leave it in the trunk. (thanks, Sue Harrison)


If the storm hits unexpectedly while you are on the road and you can no longer see to drive (or the roads are hazardous) stop the car and pull over if you can.


  1. Stay inside the car.
  2. Run the motor for ten minutes every hour.
  3. Open the windows just a crack to avoid carbon monoxide buildup inside the car.
  4. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
  5. Tie a colorful scarf to the door. During a white-out, this will help the road crews find you more quickly.
  6. Make sure to stay hydrated.
  7. Exercise to keep warm – swing arms and legs as much as possible for a few minutes out of every 30.



Be smart about it and travel safely this winter. Better yet – stay off the roads until they are clear.


*Photo by Patti Phillips






KN, p. 211 “Does Your Town Have ‘Active Shooter in the School’ Defense Strategies?”


Homeland Security has defined an “active shooter” as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place.


Most experts agree that there is no one simple solution to the level of violence being aimed at the schools by individual shooters in the USA right now, but most people agree that it has to stop.


While we, the parents and friends and neighbors of the children struck down since the beginning of 2018, as well as elected officials and law enforcement officers, wrangle over what the solution should be, take a look at the ‘stay-as-safe-as-possible’ methods the school children should practice, as suggested by Homeland Security:


Their plan is called: “Run, Hide, Fight,” and includes these strategies:


  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers


  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit


  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door


  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door


The ‘Fight’ part has to do with taking down the shooter, but no Elementary or Junior High student I know is capable of doing that, nor are 99% of the High School students or teachers I’ve met.


In many communities, fire drills must be performed twice a month to comply with City or State regulations. During these drills, children are escorted to the exits in an orderly manner – no running – and out designated exits to areas away from the building. Most schools have multiple exits and with several hundred people who must leave in under two minutes (State requirement for speedy evacuation) the teachers and administration take this responsibility seriously. At a well-run school, the end of day dismissal is conducted just as efficiently, but just to the outside door and sidewalks. The busses and cars are waiting at the curbs, and the walkers know where to go.


In the scenario of the active shooter, Homeland Security suggests that the children should always know two ways to get out of the building so they can get out as quickly as possible if needed. Children should leave behind their backpacks and just get out. So that any First Responders on the scene can sort out the good guys from the bad, the evacuating children should keep their hands in the air, leaving the cell phones in their pockets while exiting.


If the children are stuck in the building, they should hide – under desks if that’s the only shelter, or in closets – but, out of the line of sight of the classroom door. They should silence their cell phones, so as not to alert a shooter to the location of more targets.


Plus, if the children are lucky enough to be in a room that has moveable chairs or tables to jam under the doorknobs, they should do that. Please note: most classroom doors do not lock from the inside, and many don’t lock at all.


In this new reality, safety drills might include mock shooter scenarios where students try to remember how many shooters there are, their location, and even a description of their appearance – clothes, hair, shoes, etc. Every piece of accurate information helps in resolving the real-life incidents.



Many States around the country responded to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 by requiring their schools to increase school security and enact safety drills. In the wake of the Florida shooting (February, 2018) more States are responding to public pressure and taking the step to examine current safety standards and procedures throughout the districts.



Whatever your stance on how to solve this issue, our children should be safe at school. Period.



Please visit for more information about the Homeland Security policies and programs.



KN, p. 191 “Is he/she a serial killer?”


Warning: Some content may be too intense for some readers.


In 2005, the FBI conducted a symposium in Texas for law enforcement officers and defined serial murders in this way: “The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events.”


As terrifying and brutal as these events are, the FBI reports that serial murders occur in less than one percent of all murders committed in any given year.


That doesn’t mean that law enforcement treats serial murders any less seriously, just that most cops will never encounter that kind of case. When they do, the hardest part of the investigation might be recognizing that two or three murders committed across several counties could be linked in some way. Different personnel spread through different jurisdictions might not see all the facts in evidence and never see the connections, hence the reason that some serial killers are never caught.


Although not every point is true for all serial killers, there seems to be a common thread in the backgrounds of most, starting in their childhoods. Here are a few of the behaviors that appear to tie the Serial Killer category together.


  • Childhood abuse and/or neglect
  • Lousy grades in school or poor work performance, despite a high IQ
  • Damage to the brain’s frontal lobe – childhood head injuries
  • Bedwetting
  • Arson
  • Animal Torture


As possible suspects are investigated, and/or eliminated, more weight is given to those on the list who have those behaviors somewhere in their history.


Serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Gacey all had above average intelligence, as evidenced by their ability to commit multiple crimes and evade capture (and even detection) for so many years. But Dr. Katherine Ramsland, Forensic Psychologist, maintains that even the smart ones can do dumb things.


“…serial killers range from Ivy League caliber to downright moronic. Self-defeating habits or failure to plan wisely have brought many down. It’s not all about IQ. Even smart ones can be idiots at just the wrong time.”



  • Ted Bundy drove erratically in a stolen car.
  • Randy Kraft had a dead body in his passenger seat when the highway patrol stopped him for suspected drunk driving.
  • Joel Rifkin was also “transporting,” but without a license plate.

As Dr. Ramsland said, “You’d think if you had a corpse with you, you’d at least try to be inconspicuous.”



Dr. DP Lyle, cardiologist, forensic expert, and crime writer, interviewed Dr. Ramsland on his Writers Forensics blog, discussing the various descriptions of serial killers being used today.


Dr. Ramsland said, “The behaviors that stand out for budding psychopaths who are the most apt to become violent involve unmotivated deception, tendency to blame others, callous disregard, and ADHD – a combination of them all. Such children will tend to manipulation, deflect responsibility, damage property, steal, do poorly in activities that require sustained discipline and focus, and play cruel pranks. They will also exercise their need for control on others who are weaker, including animals, and this could involve experiments, mutilation and killing.”


Some serial killers are angry for imagined (or real) slights and seek revenge against those who were “mean” to them.


For more information about the criminal mind, visit Dr. Ramsland is the author of dozens of books and articles on the subject. Her latest, “Confessions of a Serial Killer,” is the untold story of Dennis Bader, the BTK killer. Scary stuff.


The average person is unlikely to interact with a serial killer, but many law enforcement officers or profilers get specific training in order to keep it that way – to keep the community safe from predators. It has been found that not all serial killers work alone, and a good percentage (around 15%) are women.



How do you keep from becoming a victim?


  • Don’t go out with people you don’t know.
  • Don’t get into cars with people you don’t know.
  • Don’t go shopping at night by yourself.
  • Park your car in well-lit areas and lock it.
  • If your car has a flat tire in a grocery store parking lot, go back into the store to get help. Don’t accept assistance from a stranger who just happens to be near your car.
  • Become familiar with self-defense techniques. Take a class to become proficient.


Use common sense, be extra aware when alone, and stay safe!


*Photo credit: Ted Bundy – Wikipedia







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