Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thorns & Roses

Didn't there used to be a piece in the newspaper called "Thorns & Roses?" I recall the concept was that a person/thing/event/idea would get a "thorn" if they did something bad, and a "rose" (how appropriate!) if they did something good. Well, here is my version.

A ROSE to Benjamin for often calling a cemetery a "grave garden." I think I like this term better anyhow!

A ROSE to Hardees. I like Hardees in general, and am glad that one was built at Euclid and NE 14th, even though I've only eaten there a few times. I miss the one in Ankeny, which disappeared I would guess 10+ years ago. It's the Ankeny Animal & Avian Clinic now.

A THORN to many, many patrons of gas stations. I think gas stations should have two mandatory check out lines: one for normal people and one for people who don't understand life. For example, a few weeks ago I popped in just to buy a pop and a snack -- I was in a hurry and should be in and out in 2 minutes flat.  When I got to the cashier, there we two boisterous ladies in the line. The lady who was paying had the contents of her purse splayed across the counter. After paying, she SLOWLY started reassembling the contents while laughing about something with her friend and totally ignoring everything happening around her. The young cashier was obviously thinking "um, please MOVE!" but was too timid to say anything. It only took about 90 seconds, but still, that felt like an eternity.

A THORN to the bank teller last Saturday. The man in line ahead of me was doing some kind of complicated transaction. "No, the province is Quebec..." said the man, "OK... and what country is that?" asked the teller. ("Quebec, Mexico" I said under my breath.)

A ROSE to the late Dick Layman, the WHO radio news anchor who passed away recently at the age of 59. I recall that on the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was driving to work at FBBC. (Yes, I know, driving all the way from 226 College Ave. to the Admin Building . . . I must have been late, because I heard the 8:00 news on the car radio.) "It's like something out of a movie," Layman said, "a plane has crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center; we'll have more details as they become available."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Florida Vacation Reflections 2013

The Rose side of the family just got back from a fun & relaxing week in Florida. Our destination was Treasure Island -- a beachfront community just west of St. Petersburg. Yes, technically, it's an island because it's separated from the main land by an inner-coastal waterway, but a series of very short causeways and drawbridges makes it so it doesn't "feel" like an island. According to Wikipedia, "Treasure Island got its name after several property owners attempted to boost sales of the properties being developed on the island by first burying and then pretending to discover a couple of wooden chests on the beach around 1915. After claiming the chests were filled with treasure, the news of the 'discovery' quickly spread and people began calling the island Treasure Island."

We left the DSM airport on the morning of Monday, August 5th along with my Mom & Dad. (We would meet my sister and her family there). I would like to pause for just a moment to say that I'm very thankful that Allegiant Airlines decided to come to Des Moines a few years ago. Sure, they are a low- budget, no frills airline, and you have to pay for even the smallest niceties (carry on luggage, snacks, etc.) but the important thing is that they offer direct flights to a couple cities in Florida. When traveling with kids, a non-stop flight is 5 times better than something with a layover (maybe more than 5 times)! You don't have to spend a "whole day" traveling.

Even though Allegiant does fly into St. Petersburg, they didn't have a flight that day that worked for all of us, so we flew into Sanford... a nice, small airport (similar to DSM) on the north edge of the Orlando area. We got a rental van and drove about 2 hrs. and 20 minutes to our destination. (I would still rather fly once and drive 2-3 hours than have a layover.) Although we didn't stop there, we drove right through the town of "Land O' Lakes" -- I think the town is missing out on some great name-related advertising tie ins.

Our hotel was "Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites" -- as the name says, right on the beach (see reviews here). Every room is a 2-bedroom suite. Even though we were on the north side (ocean is on the west, of course), the rooms are angled so that you still get a fairly good view of the ocean. The hotel staff was very nice, and arranged to have our rooms fairly close together. It wasn't luxurious, but was clean, accommodating, and had everything we needed. We had a small leak in one of the bathroom pipes, so a maintenance guy came to fix it part way through the week. He told me that the building was only 7 or 8 years old, and it did in fact seem rather modern. The pool wasn't fancy, but big enough to have fun, and there was a small kiddie pool. I would give it 3 1/2 stars and cheerfully recommend it. The whole town seemed more family oriented that the Daytona Beach area (where we were at 2 years ago), and less of a "party atmosphere."

Some general recollections:

- At the beginning of the week, I told Ben & Joe that when digging a hole in the sand, it's a good idea to dig down deep enough to get to standing water. For the rest of the week, they called it "standard water."

- Both boys were hesitant of going in the ocean at the beginning of our week, but had warmed up by the end, especially Ben. On our last day, he and I spent about 40 minutes bobbing in the sea right at sunset. They still liked the pool better.

- Florida seems to have a much higher proportion of rude/selfish drivers than Iowa! Not necessarily bad drivers, so much, but just a "I'm in a hurry so I'm going to merge 1/4 inch in front of you" attitude.

- Customer service in the south is different that what I perceive it "should be." Servers, cashiers, etc. seem to think that being friendly and chatting is more important than either speed or accuracy.

- Combining our prior Florida vacation and this one (the last was 2011, we weren't able to go in 2012), I finished one of my Star Wars books, "Planet of Twilight." (Yes, It took me two vacations to finish one book. I'm a slow reader, plus it was usually only a few minutes each day of actual reading.) I was pleasantly surprised; it was a decent book after a below average previous book by the same author ("Children of the Jedi").

- Whenever Ben or Joe would do something really fun in the pool (like jump in, or be thrown up in the air by dad or mom), they would often proclaim, "That was off the huzzah!" (meaning something is exciting.... Not sure where this came from, but we think it is a mispronunciation of "off the hizzook.")

When we flew on the airplane for the first flight, Joe wanted the window shade down at takeoff, so he wouldn't see the "fire that would blast out of the engine." (I think he envisioned takeoff more like a space shuttle) Before the flight home, we explained that there is no fire involved (ideally), and then he really enjoyed watching the takeoff! It was also kind of cute that they both said, "touchdown!" when we landed both times, unprompted.

- Our flight home was very early, so factoring in driving and enough time to arrive in advance, we had to wake up about 3:00 AM. We were back in DSM before 11, ate, and took naps - all 4 of us! It was very little sleep, but one nice aspect was that we had the whole rest of the day to recover & allow Debbi to prepare for childcare kids coming the following day. Also, my current work schedule has me coming in to work a late half day on Tuesdays, so I was able to use Tuesday AM to catch up on some work around the house.

- I got to watch several episodes of "Pawn Stars" and "American Pickers" -- two shows I rather enjoy but don't get to watch much (we don't have cable or satellite at home).

The weather was mostly cooperative all week, save for a couple typical 1-2 hour Florida rainstorms -- come in as a massive downpour very suddenly, then once over it's back to beautiful & sunny within 10 minutes. One came on the only evening we went out to eat -- at "Bubba Gump's." We spent a few minutes trying to skilfully walk around St. John's Pass without not having a covered walkway over our heads! We also did some souvenier shopping that evening (without actually buying anything!), and I played two brief games of skee-ball at a rinky-dink arcade. The sunsets were beautiful. I never pulled myself out of bed early enough to see a sunrise. (We tried to keep sleep schedules to central time to not mess up the boys' internal clocks, so that would have been like voluntarily waking up at 5:30 central time - no thanks!)

It was also a good time with the family all around, just a time to relax and fellowship.

Thanks, Mom & Dad!!!

I think this picture should be on a postcard!
This looks like a Polaroid from the 80's
because the lens was foggy from the humidity.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goodbye, WAPELLO

During the summer of 1995, before my junior year of high school, I got my first car, and therefore, my first license plate: 426 CWI.

Since that time, I traded in my Blue '88 Pontiac Grand Am for a Green '99 Buick Century (shortly before our wedding in 2001), and subsequently traded that in for our present Brown '06 Buick Rendezvou (shortly before the boys were born in 2008). In both cases, the license plate was taken off the old vehicle and put straight onto the new one.

So, even though I haven't lived in Wapello county since August of 1997, I've had "WAPELLO" on my license plate as long as I've had a car. I even remember when I moved off campus in the 2000-01 school year, and I became an "official" Polk county resident, I called the Wapello county courthouse. "Just send the car registration form & payment to us, and we'll automatically forward the registration to Polk county next year." So, even though the registration paperwork and the sticker came from Polk county each year, the license plate itself remained the same.

 It seems like about 3-4 times every year, I would have someone ask me, "are you from Wapello county?" or, "are you from Ottumwa?" I didn't mind; in fact, it was kind of fun. I think this is how I found out that a couple in my church (Ray & Jeanne Taylor) used to live in Ottumwa; also, when we bought Ben & Joe's mattresses just back in March, the manager of Mattress Discounter in Des Moines told me that his folks used to own a furniture store in Ottumwa, because he saw the license plate.

However, it all came to an end.

My birthday is in March, so my car registrations are always due by the end of April. After paying this year, and without warning, two new license plates unceremoniously showed up in the mail box. This is the "newer" kind with the more reflective surface and without the raised numbers & letters. Oddly, it is now in the letters-then-numbers format instead of the numbers-then-letters format.

So, as of the 3rd week in April, 2013, I am no longer "from" Wapello county. Truly, the end of an era.

Old faded plate on top, new dark plate on bottom. (No, I don't want the whole world knowing my license plate.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013



- If you are making a left turn, the law requires you turn into the nearest lane. If I obey this law, and you, the guy behind me, disobeys and turns directly into the right lane and then guns it to pass me, you don't have validation to be angry when I then merge properly 1 second later and almost hit your front end.

- I don't mind if someone passes me on the freeway. What I do mind is someone tailgating me when the left lane is wide open!


- If you use a stall in a public bathroom, lock the door! There is nothing more embarrassing (for both parties) than opening a door on someone!


- If you are in a position of authority to give out information, you should probably know the information before you give it out. Example:
  - A lady called in the other day; she was under the impression that once you turn age 59 1/2, you can take money out of a pre-tax retirement plan and not pay taxes on it. Now, this is an unfortunately common misconception (For those wondering, no, you can't put money into an IRA, 401K, etc. and never pay taxes on it. You either pay taxes now or later. There is no escape). In this case, however, toward the end of the conversation she said, "Well, I'm really busy this time of year because I'm a C.P.A." REALLY? I feel sorry for your clients...

Life in General:

- What's the deal with the rise of jogging pants? (for non-jogging situations)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16th . . . First Day of Spring

I know that the "real" first day of Spring occurs somewhere between March 19th and 21st each year.

In my mind, though, we're not "in the clear" until today.

Here is why -- On April 15th, 1996, there was a short lived yet nasty snow storm. On this link, you can see the picture of the snow flake on the 15th, and that the prior Thursday it got up to 82 degrees. Some of my buddies and I even played some touch football that prior week, only to get snowed on a few days later. Pretty standard Iowa weather.

It was my Junior year in high school, and that year there were something like 15-20 snow days (at least it felt that way). This is significant because in Ottumwa (at least), seniors graduated about 2 weeks before the school year actually ended. AND, if there were snow days, seniors didn't have to make them up. Of course, the thing that ticks me off is that MY senior year there were only 2 or 3 snow days. Grrrr.

I went sledding that day, just so that I could say I went sledding on April 15th. IIRC, my friends Peter Hemmings and Brian Harrison got their car stuck on another car's bumper in the slope between the upper and lower pit.

So, take the shovel out of the trunk of your car, plant some squash, take down the snow fence, etc. We're in the clear now, folks!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Our Hearts Were Young (Are They Still?)

Can you guess what was 20 years ago today?

Our Hearts Were Young, which was the title of my 8th grade play, debuted on March 19th, 1993.

The script was actually titled Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, as was the namesake of the original book from 1942. In order to prevent a large heap of middle school giggles, the directors truncated the "and Gay" portion.

Ian and I were convinced that the Courier had
somehow photoshopped  the picture to remove half
 of his neck and add it to mine.

The plot, as I remember it, is as follows: Two girls, Cornelia (Erin Alberty) and Emily (Libby Paluska) get on a boat to go to France. One girl's parents may have been with her (Shawn Neary as "the dad" and Katy Krieger as "the mom"). They meet two guys, Dick (Ian Kenning) and Leo (myself). While on board they meet a boisterous French man (Alex Stroda) and a host of crew members (Mark Barron, Josh Linebaugh, Sarah Chmelar, Brian Harrison, Emily Kinsinger, Sarah Schrantz, Jim Bob Carnahan, and others I may be missing).

Wackiness ensues.

Ian and Erin (I think . . .)
I know it sounds a little funny to sum up the plot as "wackiness ensues," but that's because I genuinely don't remember any actual plot. There probably was a thin plot in there somewhere, but when you are in a play, you never actually get to watch the whole play. I do know there were some specific events:

- Emily matches up with Dick; Cornelia matches up with Leo

- Leo (me) at some point runs into the stewardess (Emily K.) [in a literal sense]

Brian Harrison, Ian Kenning, Myself
- The two "couples" enter some kind of card-playing tournament. When it comes to playing cards, Leo is thoroughly impressed with Cornelia, and declares that she is "wonderful!"

Well, that's about it for my memory of how the play actually goes. I'm sure there is some kind of conflict and resolution. If anyone knows what they are, feel free to share.

Of course, one awkward moment stand out head and shoulders above all others.

Emily Kinsinger, Libby Paluska, Jim Bob Carnahan,
Sarah Schrantz
There was a scene where Erin and I were supposed to have some kind of cheesy moment, and just as I lean in, about to give her a kiss on the cheek, Ian and [someone? maybe Libby] were supposed to barge in and interrupt the moment. Erin had said that if something ever went wrong, or there was a delay, she would fake slap me to prevent actual contact [something that seems plausible in the 1920's].

Well, the senior citizen's matinee, student performance, and Friday night performance all went fine; but on the final night, there was a very large delay, and after what felt like a long delay (but was probably only a couple seconds), I leaned in, anticipating the stage slap that was coming . . . but it never happened, and I actually did kiss her on the cheek to a lot of hoots and whistles. Erin turned as red as a tomato with embarrassment and THEN Ian barged in. I later found out that Ian delayed his entrance on purpose to mildly humiliate me.

Sarah Chmelar, Josh Linebaugh, Mark Barron
There was a lot of down time - since, of course, not everyone was in every scene - so there were plenty of opportunities to wander the school with minimal supervision, have fun, ride the elevator, (normally not allowed!) etc. I also remember hanging out with friends on the light & sound crew during these down moments, including Peter Hemmings, Scott Hecker, Sarah Burke, et al.

Catherine McMillan, Erin Alberty, Shawn Neary, Meghan Neary (unsure), Angie Crisswell (sp?),
Ian Kenning

Footnote: Most of these pictures were taken on my Kodak "Disc" camera, where the film was actually shaped like a disk . . . it was horribly inefficient, and could only take like 12 pictures per disk, but for some reason I liked it. It was the same camera I took on the 8th grade Washington D.C. trip. I'm sure there were a lot more pictures, but for whatever reason, these were the only ones found in a box recently. If you have pictures, please send them to me and I'll gladly add some!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wavey Guy

There was a "Wavey Guy" in Ottumwa who would regularly stand near an intersection and wave at people. In fact, most of the time, IIRC, he would actually stand in the intersection -- in the raised median of a divided road. This was in the intersection near Wendy's, Pizza Hut and KFC -- right where Ferry St. turns into Wapello St.. Well, right here, actually:

View Wavey Guy Location in a larger map

As the buses left Evan's to head north, we would go right by him. All of us bus kids would wave at him, and he just loved waving back -- often with the double-handed wave! A few people said that he had some kind of mental problem, others said he was a shell-shocked war hero. Then again, maybe he was just a guy that really liked waving at people.

This is not him, just clip art.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Self-Guided OHS Tour

In mid-August (2012) I went down to Ottumwa for a football meeting at OHS (I officiate High School football part-time in the Fall).

My crew arrived a bit early, so I decided to give myself a tour of my alma matter, and grab a few grainy cell phone pics.

(In case anyone is wondering about "security," rest assured that someone met us at the door and let us in who was with the state association. I would not have been able to just "walk in" off the street.)

I started in the auditorium. It was exactly as I remembered it, except for two exceptions: there were new seats, and the big round "seals" with the class mottos were not hanging from the balconys. (I recall one assembly where one fell down and hit a kid on the head or shoulders... maybe that's why they were removed?)

From there, I moved toward the Vo-Tec (Voc-Tech?) building. This now involves a walk thru the new library/fancy building that was conveniently completed just two weeks before I graduated. (Remember having to carry our instruments through the auto-body room just to go between buildings for concerts & pep rallies? "Whoa, look at that big saxamaphone!" All of the inconvenience of construction, almost no benefit.) Well, there is a hallway down the middle that essentially replicates the old 2nd- story "skywalk," which leads to that half-flight of stairs that goes down to the 2nd floor of the Voc-Tech near the elevator.

That door was locked - kind of. When I pulled on the handle the lock literally fell off. I wasn't pulling that hard or anything, but the round, removable lock that sets in the door must not have been set in properly. So, in I go.

In the halls of Vo-Tech, it was very dark, but in spite of the darkness everything looked exactly the same as I remember from 1993-1997.

Vo-Tec 2nd Story Men's Room

I went into the men's room right there, and noticed that the large half-circle style "sink" had been replaced by two more traditional sinks. Peter Hemmings would be sad to hear this, I knew.

The orchestra room was locked, and I tried the stairwell right next to it to see if I could get roof access, but it was gated off with a padlock. Shucks.

The "main" door (near Mr. Flanigan's office) to the band room was unlocked. Score!

Bandroom. The director would be facing toward me, but the offices are behind me.
Woah! What's this? I've stepped into backwards world! There was no elevated platform for the band practice area. Even more surprising, it was turned around. The percussion was close to the middle of the room, and the director stood on the south/east wall (basically right about where the snare drums used to be). I wonder what the reason for that was? I don't remember if the platforms were movable or not. I was thinking they were built in, and, if so, must have been torn out. It was just about a week before school started, so the marching band drums were already out. I'm guessing the first few practices had occurred -- at least the "drums only" ones. (Did you know that we had to come a week earlier than the rest of you each year? You should be thankful....)

I went over to the vocal music room which was essentially unchanged. In the rooms at the "back" they had 4-5 computers in there. (These are the rooms where we would practice in small groups or quartets sometimes. I recall one time where we were goofing off a little, and Mr. Schneider stormed in and ripped us to pieces [verbally]! ~ don't get me wrong, we deserved it.)

New Cafeteria

Out the other door and down the stairs I went, and back toward the main building. I was going to cut through the cafeteria on the lower level of the new building, but the floors looked like they had fresh wax on them so decided not to.

The "original" part of the high school, for the most part, looked completely unchanged. I did slide down one of the banisters! The area behind the auditorium (behind the stage side) had been re-worked entirely with new siding on the walls, as had the downstairs area behind what used to be the cafeteria and next to the student council room. Frankly, I was running low on time, and didn't want to risk getting stuck behind a locked door, so at that point I retreated back to the auditorium. It was a fun little 20 minute journey. I should also note that one of our breakout sessions was in the new library/media room on the upper level of the fancy new building, and it was very nice. What do they call that, the "middle building?" I propose "Mo-Tech."

(One last interesting note - the signs now all refer to OHS as a 4 story building. IE, instead of "basement" plus 3 other floors, the lowest level is "1st floor," the offices and auditorium are on the "2nd floor," etc.)

This "classroom" is on the east end of the 2nd  floor now (or is that 3rd floor?).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My "Day in Court"

On Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, I got my first - and only [as of this writing] speeding ticket.

You know, coming down from the north, that spot where I-35 turns into I-235? It drops from 65 down to 60 and then 55 in about 2 miles as it curves to the west into downtown.

I had the cruise control set on 71 mph, and was moving along nicely with the flow of traffic. I was the schlub who forgot to slam on his breaks, so I was the one who got the short straw. I admit it, guilty as charged. $181.50 speeding ticket, dutifully paid to the city of Des Moines.

But, that's all boring stuff. Here's the more interesting part of the story:

You're supposed to carry your proof of insurance in your car at all times, of course. Well, a few days before I had printed off new insurance cards . . . and dutifully left them sitting on the bookshelf at home.


So, in addition to the $181.50 ticket, I was also given a citation for "VIOLATION -- FINANCIAL LIABILITY COVERAGE." The charge? Approx. $385.00 -- ouch! Fortunately, the officer let me know that if I "go down to the Courthouse" sometime after the new year, I could "get it taken care of."

Well, based on that vague description, I wasn't really exactly sure what to expect, but, if it meant eliminating - or at least reducing - a $385 ticket, I was sure going to try!


I checked the Polk County Courthouse website (which I think was last designed around 1997), which had zero information on the topic. A call to the general courthouse phone number was slightly more informative, with a one line statement like "just come during normal hours and we'll get you in."

Alrightee then!

So, on the 3rd, I drove down there (I wanted to avoid the 2nd, because it was the first business day of the year and I figured pretty busy). Not knowing how long this would be, I put enough change in the parking meter to last me an hour and a half.

The courthouse is a secured building, so you have to go through a security line, much like an airport. After that, I walked up to what looked like an information kiosk, and asked the lady where to go for my situation. She just got my name and the date of the ticket, and then rummaged through a large stack of documents, pulled one out, and handed it to another worker who took it to who-knows-where. "OK, just go to that room right there [pointed]. When you go in, just sit quietly in any chair and wait for your name to be called."

[At this point, it may be fun to play the MATLOCK theme song!]

It's always fun in life to be told to do something when you have no idea exactly what that "thing" is. The door said, "JUDGE SO-AND-SO" on it. Am I going into an office? A courtroom? Some kind of classroom where they teach me about the real dangers of driving without your insurance card? If I cannot afford a lawyer, will one be provided for me? I didn't want to go in unprepared, so I went to the bathroom first -- you know, just in case this was going to be a long time.

When I went in, it was obviously a small court room. There was a big important looking desk and then a smaller, less important looking desk in front of and below it. There were only two people in the room, both female, one sat at the "lesser" desk (this must be the judge, but apparently she uses the "little" desk and doesn't wear a robe for these minor traffic proceedings) and one was off to the side (probably the court recorder?). Within two seconds, before I could even get to the nearest seat and put my papers down, the off-to-the-side lady said, "Remove your hat!" Oh man, I'm in trouble already! I mean, I'm a good boy, I know men are supposed to remove their hats indoors... my hands were just full! And the receptionist said to sit down quietly and wait for my name to be called; I was trying to obey!!! "Yes... sorry!" I said.

"DOUGLAS ROSE?" said the front lady, one second after I sat down. (Which I find kind of amusing as I was the only non-courthouse person in the room.)

I sheepishly walk to the front.

"Did you bring your insurance documentation with you?"
"Yes, Your Honor"
"I'm not the judge." (OK.... who are you exactly???)
"Sorry." [Hand her my print-off from the insurance company]
"Did you have auto insurance on December 19th?"
"Yes... Ma'am" (whoever you are...)
"OK, I'll be right back"

"Front Lady" walks up to the side of the "big desk" and disappears into a side room for what feels like 5 minutes. This must be the mythical "chambers." I was really nervous, so it may have been 30 seconds. In hindsight, I'm guessing she was some kind of Clerk-Of-Court. But who could blame me for assuming she was a judge? The name on the door was for a female judge, and she was the only "up fronter," after all.

She comes back out and says, "The judge [Judge who?] has decided to drop the charges. You will still have to pay the court costs. Are you going to pay those right now or online?"
"Uh.... [ not knowing how much that is] online?"
"OK, take one of those papers and pay your ticket and court costs by the 12th. You're all done."

Alright, well, that's that. In case you wonder, the "court costs" part of the citation was $60. A $325 reduction in the fine was definitely worth the inconvenience of my little adventure, but still a pretty expensive reminder to put that piece of paper in your car!



Well, I've still got over an hour on my parking meter, so might as well look around the courthouse... never been in it before! It's a pretty cool building.... dating from 1906.

Some great big and politically incorrect murals:

"The White Man Meets the Indian"

"The Indian Leaves Iowa"

Most interesting to me was this little alcove that has a quote -- it's to blurry to read, but it said (this is not an exact quote, but pretty close), "Law cannot exist without morality, and morality cannot exist without religion."

There were also quite a few fellows of the baser (looking) sort hanging around on benches waiting for something or another. I presume most of them were either accused of something, or parolees who had to appear in court for one reason or another. There were also a lot of lawyers wandering about. No surprise there, I guess.

Epilogue 2:

When I paid my fines online a couple days later, I found out that the mysterious judge in the chamber who waived the charges was The Honorable William A. Price. Thanks, Judge Price! [This still doesn't explain why the name on the door was that of a female judge, however. Perhaps some mysteries are best left unsolved.]