I’m not ashamed to say, “I love my iPhone!” It goes everywhere with me, and does just about everything. But I never realized just how much it can do until I read a TrendingBuffalo.com story (via consumerist.com). It opened my eyes to just how valuable my iPhone really is.

The author of the story found a nearly full-length ad by Radio Shack from a 1991 edition of The Buffalo News. Of the 15 electronic gadgets on the page … 13 of them are now crammed into my iPhone. Back in 1991, buying everything in that ad, according to the story, would have cost me …. wait for it … more than three thousand dollars! More like $5100 in today’s money, it goes on to say. Here’s the ad:

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Here’s the list of items the iPhone has rendered obsolete:

  • All weather personal stereo, $11.88. I now use my iPhone with an Otter Box
  • AM/FM clock radio, $13.88. iPhone.
  • In-Ear Stereo Phones, $7.88. Came with iPhone.
  • Microthin calculator, $4.88. Swipe up on iPhone.
  • Tandy 1000 TL/3, $1599. I actually owned a Tandy 1000, and I used it for games and word processing. I now do most of both of those things on my phone.
  • VHS Camcorder, $799. iPhone.
  • Mobile Cellular Telephone, $199. Obvs.
  • Mobile CB, $49.95. Ad says “You’ll never drive ‘alone’ again!” iPhone.
  • 20-Memory Speed-Dial phone, $29.95.
  • Deluxe Portable CD Player, $159.95. 80 minutes of music, or 80 hours of music? iPhone.
  • 10-Channel Desktop Scanner, $99.55. I still have a scanner, but I have a scanner app, too. iPhone.
  • Easiest-to-Use Phone Answerer, $49.95. iPhone voicemail.
  • Handheld Cassette Tape Recorder, $29.95. I use the Voice Memo app almost daily.
  • BONUS REPLACEMENT: It’s not an item for sale, but at the bottom of the ad, you’re instructed to ‘check your phone book for the Radio Shack Store nearest you.’  Do you even know how to use a phone book?

Now you see why I love my iPhone? It’s a whole lot cheaper than buying all that stuff. Plus I doubt I could fit it all in my pocket.

Everything from 1991 Radio Shack ad I now do with my phone

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If you’re over 50 you can relate to this. A couple of years before I hit half a century, I started getting mail from AARP. My wife, who’s quite a bit younger than me, just laughed. “Hey old man,” she would yell, while holding up the latest mail, “Here’s another one for you!”  Nothing against AARP, but it was a smoke signal giving me a warning that the Big 5-0 was right around the corner, and I didn’t like that. Not one bit. It reminded me of when my father hit that milestone, and I remember thinking, “That’s old. Really old.”

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Today, Michelle Obama is celebrating her 50th birthday. I really don’t have any insight on how she’s dealing with it, but chances are her girls think she’s over-the-hill. But the First Lady did send out a tweet while holding up her AARP card. “Excited to join Barack in the 50+ club today … check out my AARP card!” President Obama turned 50 in 2011.

Over the years I’ve come to grips with 50. Heck, I’d love to be 50 again. I just can’t wait until another Michelle, the First Lady of our house, starts getting mail from AARP. It’s coming. She won’t like it. Not one bit. I can almost smell the smoke signals already.  It’s either that, or someone’s burning the mail.

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Every year at this time, my wife and I stare at our backyard. The bare trees, brown grass, frozen ground and covered pool. Yeah, it can be a little depressing. Heck, even our dogs refuse to come out of their dog house sometimes.

Apparently we’re not alone in feeling a bit down. And especially today.  According to a study that looked at negative comments on Twitter, the first Monday after New Year’s is the most depressing day of the year. I didn’t know that. Now I’m really bummed out.

Here are a few reasons why, some more obvious than others:

  • It’s Monday. The first day back to work or school for many who’ve taken the holidays off.
  • Holidays are over. The next big holiday is 142 days away (Memorial Day).
  • Winter weather is lousy (Tulsa is hit a record low this morning of -2).
  • You may have gained a few pounds over the holidays and feel guilty.
  • New Year’s resolution are already broken.

So back to my wife and I freezing out on the back patio this time of year surveying the bleak landscape. We always tell each other that we have something to look forward to. It’ll look completely different ……. six months from now!  I’m feeling better already.

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That’s a picture of my desk after last night’s election coverage. A mess. Sort of like the past 10 months. It’s been a long campaign and one of the most bitterly fought and negative mayor’s race in Tulsa’s history. Certainly the most expensive. Incumbent Dewey Bartlett spent nearly a million dollars. His opponent clearly topped that. Former mayor Kathy Taylor spent $3.3 million.

Most everyone thought it would be closer than it was. It wasn’t. Bartlett won by 10 points. Taylor gave her concession speech shortly after 8 pm. Election night drama? Not last night.

Now that Bartlett is in for another four years, what now? What do Tulsa residents want him to do? We asked that question on Tulsa’s Channel 8 Facebook page, and while many of the responses can’t be repeated here, many others offer some good suggestions. Here are a few:

  • Ryan: “push for the river to have something like bricktown and bring tulsa a amusement park”
  • Candy: “Figure out the trash issue!!”
  • Diana: “remember that people live on north side of Tulsa we would like our parks fixed for our kids so we don’t have to drive all the way across town for our kids to play, or fix the roads that have big enough holes in them to lose a toddler in.”
  • Renee: “Really Fight Crime in Tulsa. That place is a war zone.”
  • Mike: “Fix our roads and get rid of the traffic cops”
  • Cheryl: “Crime needs to stop.”
  • Suzy: “Transform the river like other cities our size have.”
  • Melissa: “Please take good care of our policeman and firemen! They take care of our city each and every day!  They deserve respect!”
  • Suzy: “Widen south Tulsa streets…after all the 74137 zip code pays more in property taxes than any other part of the city, yet has the worst, two lane, non curbed roads in the city!”

Crime, roads, trash and water. Better get to work Mayor Bartlett. You have a busy four years ahead of you.

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In case you missed the first hour of our election coverage Monday night, here it is … in 18 seconds. I just wished the political campaign season would go that fast!

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That’s a picture of me with a man who played a role in one of the biggest stories in U.S. history.  A few months ago a friend of ours, Kathy Throop, mentioned in passing to my wife that her father was going to be interviewed by Tom Brokaw for an upcoming NBC special. Her dad was a retired Dallas police officer who put the handcuffs on Lee Harvey Oswald. “Would Mark be interested in talking with dad for a story?” “I’m pretty sure he would,” my wife told her. She was right. 

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Most of us who are old enough will never forget the moment we heard the president had been shot in Dallas. For Kathy’s father, November 22, 1963 started out much like any other day. But it ended with a violent struggle with someone he would later learn had just shot the President of the United States.  

Here’s the incredible story of the man who played a little known, but important role, in a tragedy that would change our nation forever.

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I met Ray Hawkins on a sunny, but chilly late October Tuesday morning. He had just pulled up in front of the movie theater, stepped out of his truck, and slowly shuffled to the back of the vehicle. I watched as he lifted up the handle with one hand, pulled down the tailgate with the other, and then struggled to take a walker from the truck bed. It was one of those walkers on wheels that doubles as a portable chair to sit on when you get tired of standing. I offered to help him, but he refused. I could tell he had performed this tiring ritual many times, and wanted to continue doing it on his own as long as he was able.

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Only when Hawkins safely planted his legs on the sidewalk, leaning slightly forward with his walker firmly in his grip in front of him, did he say anything. “I’m Ray Hawkins.” Short and succinct. We had met only on the phone before now. I had called him three weeks earlier with my request. “Oh I don’t know,” he told me then. “I really don’t have that much to say.” But I knew he did. And I had hoped he would agree to meet me, because I knew this man had played an important role in one of the biggest stories in American history.   A role very few people knew about, in a tragedy that would shape our nation for decades to come.

Before this day I had only seen a picture of Hawkins.  A much different, much stronger looking man. The black and white photo showed someone full of swagger, his confident smile and cool shades worn as easy as the badge on his chest and white-handled pistol sticking out from his hip. It was a photo of him as a young police officer. Ray Hawkins was a cop, or used to be, sworn to protect and serve the citizens of Dallas, Texas. He spent decades on the job. But I was interested in only one day in his long career in law enforcement. One day. November 22, 1963.

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We met in front of the theater, but we weren’t there to take in a movie. In fact, at this hour of the morning, it was closed. We waited for the manager to let us in, just us, for a special showing of sorts. The Texas Theatre is tucked in among normal shops along West Jefferson Boulevard in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood. For 80 years, it’s been home to the biggest stars in Hollywood. But it’s most famous for a visitor who slipped in without paying on a late November afternoon 50 years earlier.

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As we waited to be let in, Hawkins and I chatted. He sat down in his walker and asked if he could turn his back to the bright morning sun. He coughed, tried to clear his throat, and then coughed again. I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. “I don’t know where this cough came from,” he mumbled. I assured him I wouldn’t take up too much of his time.

We began talking about the President’s much-anticipated visit to Dallas so long ago. The city was abuzz. Thousands of people lined the streets. Kids waved small American flags. Women and men waited for hours to catch a glimpse of Kennedy and the striking First Lady. And security was extremely tight. For Hawkins though, it started much like any other day. He was assigned to cover traffic and accidents. Traffic and accidents. This day was nothing special, nothing different for him. He wouldn’t be anywhere near the President’s motorcade as it wound its way through town. But it turns out he was. And the day would be one he’d never forget. And one America would never forget.

Like most people who are old enough, Hawkins can remember the moment he learned the President had been shot. “I was at an intersection and they (the motorcade) had to pass me to go to Parkland Hospital. So I called the dispatcher and asked them what the emergency was. They told me the President had just been shot.” 50 years later, the emotion is still there. “I thought surely it couldn’t be true,” his voice quavered. “That that had happened. Especially in Dallas. As nice a place as we are.”

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We were let in. I can imagine the Texas Theatre looks much like it did a half a century ago. A poster of Jean Harlow in “Hell’s Angels” hangs next to photos of dozens of famous directors, from Hitchcock to Huston and Stone to Spielberg.  Hawkins and I were then ushered into the large darkened theater room. Row after row of empty red cushioned seats. Hawkins sat down,  directly behind one of the most famous movie chairs in U.S. history. Third row from the back, fifth seat in.  It immediately brought back his memories of a violent struggle with a man he would later learn had just murdered the most powerful person in the world.

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After killing Kennedy in Dealey Plaza, Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit 45 minutes later. At this point, no one knew the two murders were connected. No one, except Oswald. A tip from a clerk was called into police of a suspicious looking man in a shoe store along West Jefferson Blvd. Before police showed up, the man left the shoe store and slipped into the Texas Theatre as it was showing “War is Hell”. That’s where a small army of officers headed, including a young Ray Hawkins. It wasn’t long before the theater was “raining police”, as he described the scene. “I don’t know how the word got back there,” he said, “But I do know an officer jumped off the balcony. It was pretty hectic for a while.” And Hawkins had a front row seat to a real life drama no movie script could ever make up.

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Oswald was sitting in the third row from the back, fifth seat in. Hawkins and officer Nick McDonald were the first to get to him. Oswald started to run, but three seats closer to the aisle the two officers grabbed him. As Oswald drew his gun and aimed to fire, Hawkins says McDonald caught the hammer between his thumb and finger. It was that close.

  • Me: “You didn’t know that this man had just killed the President of the United States?
  • Hawkins: “No, I didn’t know then.”
  • Me: “So you didn’t know the struggle that ensued here would take on national implications?”
  • Hawkins: “No, I really didn’t. It was rather hectic for a while.”
  • Me: “And you slapped the cuffs on him.”
  • Hawkins: “Yes sir.”

The only words Hawkins remembers Oswald saying was “I ain’t done nothing,” followed by screaming as they took him away. He recalls Oswald was roughed up a bit during the arrest. Again, they didn’t know he had shot the President. All they knew was he had just killed one of their own. Yeah, they roughed him up all right.

  • Me: “Did you contribute to that?”
  • Hawkins: “(laughing) Not that I know of (laughing).”
  • Me: Not that you know of?”
  • Hawkins: “(again laughing) Not that I can remember.”

Hawkins never saw Lee Harvey Oswald after that. Of course, two days later Jack Ruby would shoot and kill Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station. Hawkins told me that while Oswald was in the interrogation room, an officer popped his head in the door and said they were looking for a guy named Oswald in connection with Kennedy’s killing. Without a word, the other officer pointed to the man they believed had just killed Officer Tippit. That’s the first time they put two and two together. In one harrowing, life-and-death moment, Hawkins had captured a cop killer AND a presidential assassin.

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For Ray Hawkins, what happened inside the Texas Theatre the afternoon of 11-22-63 is now a hazy, distant memory. But it’s one he says turned out as well as could be. And to play a role in a slice of American history … dark as it may be … any actor who’s graced the big screen here, would be proud of. “If there had to be something like this,” he says, “Well, it was great to be part of it.”

Here’s Ray Hawkins’ story that aired on Tulsa’s Channel 8:

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen . . .

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. . . “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” will soon be here. The new Ron Burgundy movie will be in theaters December 20th.

This week Anchorman 2 released not one, but two new trailers. I can only hope the sequel will be as hilarious as the original with Ron, Brick, Brian and Champ.

Here’s one of the new trailers:

Occasionally after reading one of the stories in our newscasts I’ll come home and check if it applies to me. Tonight was one of those times. There was a story that worried me. And if you’re a pet owner, it should worry you too.

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Protect your dog from dangerous jerky treats!

There’s a warning about a popular treat many people give their pets. The FDA is investigating “jerky treat” products. And for good reason. Since 2007 they’ve been tied to nearly 600 deaths, and more than 3600 illnesses in dogs. And not just dogs are getting sick. A few cats too.

The FDA calls it one of the most mysterious outbreaks it’s ever encountered, saying there isn’t just one particular brand of jerky treats to avoid. They’re causing kidney disease, and the most severe symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea. Veterinarian Dr. Mike Jones says it could also cause your dog to be thirsty all the time. “A lot of people think my dog is drinking a lot of water, that’s a good thing,” says Jones. “Well, if they drink too much it’s not a good thing.” He advises pet owners if they notice any change in their dog’s appetite or water consumption to see their vet.

Jerky treats made in China have killed nearly 600 dogs and sickened more than 3600 since 20071

Jerky treats made in China have killed nearly 600 dogs and sickened more than 3600 since 2007

While there’s not one brand of jerky to point the paw at, most of it is made, you guessed it, in China. Doc Jones: “We know that their regulations are not as strict as ours. If it says “Made in China” for a dog treat or a dog food, I wouldn’t feed it.” His advise? Avoid treats altogether, and throw out any of them, made in China.

We have four dogs (including my college son’s dog Switzer), and give them treats all the time. As soon as I got home I checked the pantry. Fortunately they weren’t the jerky treats. But in the small print, the package says Made in China. That’s enough for me. Following the good doctor’s advice about avoiding treats altogether, especially those made in China, I tossed them in the garbage. Better safe than sorry.

Even cats are getting sick from "mysterious" jerky treat illness!

Even cats are getting sick from “mysterious” jerky treat illness!

Courtesy KFOR

Courtesy: KFOR

We know Barry Switzer is a great coach. He led the Oklahoma Sooners to a college football national championship AND the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory. But did you know he’s also a dog lover?

Oklahoma City’s KFOR is reporting that Switzer rescued a dog from a hot car this week. The TV station got the scoop from Shanna Williams with the Canine Sports Academy in Norman. Switzer said he saw the Rottweiler in the vehicle, which had the windows down, but still felt bad for the puppy. So he grabbed the dog, found the owners and bought it from them on the spot! No word on how much he paid.

This isn’t the first time Switzer has shown compassion for a dog down on its luck (or worse).

Courtesy: KFOR

Courtesy: KFOR

Last year he doubled the reward (from $5000 to $10,000)  for information leading to the arrest of whoever was responsible in the death of a dog in Rogers County, OK. The owners found their black lab after someone apparently tied her rear legs with metal baling wire and dragged her to death behind a vehicle.

So Switzer’s latest good deed shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After buying the Rottweiler, he took her to a vet for a complete check-up. According to KFOR’s report:

“I told the doc I want rabies shots, check for worms, everything,” Switzer said. “They even clipped the toenails so it was a pedicure for her. She went to the spa.”

Switzer says he’s going to hand-pick the new owners. Oh, he also gave her a new name… “Stella”.

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Maybe it’s not too late for him to change his mind on that name. If you’ve read my recent posts here, you know  my oldest son just bought a Golden Retriever puppy.  David goes to OU and is a HUGE Sooner fan. So huge he named his puppy “Switzer”, after the famous coach. So maybe Barry should reconsider, and call his pup “Bradshaw”.  Just saying.

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Switzer is about nine weeks old now (read more about him here).  He still keeps us up at night, chews on shoes, baseboards and ankles, and pees at will. Yep, he’s still a puppy. But he did pass a milestone this weekend … he did the doggy paddle on his own for the first time.  The picture above is him with that “Sure I can do it!” look afterwards.  Jacob asked me if he would just sink like a rock if he let go of him in the pool. I said there’s only one way to find out. It was a short solo swim for Switzer, but a successful one. Now let’s work on the chewing, peeing and late night wake-up calls.

Very late one night last week our bedroom door flew open and the lights went on. My wife will tell you I’m usually not very alert in the middle of the night. But this time she was the one whose head never left the pillow, as I shot up in bed. There, standing at the foot of the bed, was one of our boys. And Jacob was visibly distraught.

  • Me: “What!”
  • Jacob: “I need your help.”
  • Me: “What?”
  • Jacob: “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.”
  • Me: “What?”
  • Jacob: “I’m going to throw up in my mouth.”
  • Me: “What?”
  • Jacob:  “It’s the puppy. I need your help.”

Not knowing what to say other than “What?”, I got up and followed him.

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Switzer

The puppy. I just knew he was going to be such a … how should I put it? Such a …. puppy! A few weeks ago our oldest son, David, came up with the lamest idea. “I’m going to get a dog,” he said. “Sure,” I replied. “No, I really am. I want a dog.” For the next couple of weeks ALL of us (including his friends) gave him reasons why that wouldn’t be such a good idea, including:

  • You’re still in college (he has one semester left).
  • You’re still living with frat boys (enough said).
  • You’ll be traveling with your new job and living in apartments.
  • You can barely make yourself a sandwich (the dog would starve).
  • Mom and I aren’t ready to raise grandkids (assuming his new dog will eventually become our new dog).
  • We already have a zoo at home (Jeter, Major, Tipsy, Butters and a fish).

Sounds reasonable, right? Not to David. He was dead set on getting a dog. “OK,” I said. “You can find a good dog at the shelter or some rescue group.”  “Nope,” he said. “I’ve already found the perfect puppy. It’s an English Creme Golden Retriever.” A what?

Switzer with one of our labs Jeter

Switzer with one of our labs Jeter

In short, an English Creme Golden Retriever is a Golden Retriever with European genetic lines. And their coat can be much lighter in color than American goldens. David found a breeder nearby with puppies for sale. For a lot more than the cost of adopting a dog. A LOT more.

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The puppies’ mom and dad are both Russian. “Nyet,” I told him. But by now the Cold War between the two of us was obvious. And there was no détente in sight. David made quite a bit of money this summer and he’s made up his mind to get a dog. “OK,” I said (again). “But don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”

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His name is Switzer. Oklahoma Sooner fans will get it. He’s about nine weeks old, a ball of soft, creamy fur, and …. okay I’ll admit it … pretty darn cute. And until David heads back to college, Switzer has joined our zoo. The other dogs, even the cat, have initiated Switzer into the family much like college frat boys initiate new members. There’s been some hazing (growling, barking, hissing and snapping), but otherwise they all get along. But the fact is Switzer is still a …. how should I put it? He’s still a … puppy!

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Jacob needs my help. So I reluctantly get out of bed and follow my son.  He’s been on puppy patrol while Switzer’s single dad goes out. Pinching his nose tightly shut with two fingers, Jacob leads me to “the scene of the crime.” The evidence is everywhere. I’ll admit, it’s not a pretty sight (or smell). Switzer had been neglected and when duty called, it answered. It’s smeared all over the rug and wood floor by our front door. I’ll spare you the details but Switzer at the time had worms, like many puppies do. It’s like the floor was moving. And it is. That’s probably why Jacob threw up in his mouth and pleaded for my help.

But how could the puppy be so neglected with so many kids around? Tommy’s friends were also there. And how did Switzer’s mess get smeared all over the floor? I had just installed security cameras the day before (click here as to why). So let’s hit rewind and see what happened:

 

I’m pretty used to cleaning up after dogs. Of course, Switzer won’t always be a puppy. Check back often to see him grow up, and also how David deals with being a single dad.

David and Switzer

David and Switzer

Volt, Mark and Buddy

Volt, Mark and Buddy

I sure hope my boys see this. They think the ‘ol man doesn’t have it anymore. Well, I think he does.

The above picture is with my pals, Buddy Bookworm, the mascot of the Tulsa County Libraries, and Volt, who electrifies fans at the WNBA Tulsa Shock games. We always have a lot of fun when we get together to promote reading and basketball. And today we took it to a new level. After shooting a promo at the BOK Center,  I decided to take a gamble. I picked up the basketball, stepped well beyond the three-point arch, and fired away.

Channel 8 promo guru Larry Nitz had his GoPro out and running. Does this ‘ol man still have it? You be the judge.

 

One dribble, step up, shoot and swish. Nothing but net. I was feeling pretty good about myself, when Volt took the basketball from my hands. He stepped to half-court, turned his back to the basket and …..

 

Thanks for stealing the show Volt! He’s actually pretty good at it. Did you see that back flip after sinking the basket? That’s something I’ll be working on next.

For years, we’ve had a lot of activity at our house.  With three boys, there’s no shortage of kids dropping in. Michelle feeds them and many stay overnight. It’s never a dull moment around the Bradshaw home. That’s the way we like it. But last week we had an unwelcome visitor. Someone invaded our privacy in the middle of the night. We don’t like that.

Sometime in the early hours of Friday morning, a thief came into our house while everyone was sleeping. We didn’t know it until later that morning when

Dropcam camera

Dropcam camera

we noticed things were missing. A laptop was gone. So was an iPhone. The iPad? That too. Add to that a debit card. All were left on the kitchen counter when we went to bed. All were gone in the morning.

We almost always lock all the doors at night. But that night the last one in, forgot to. And we paid for it. The next morning, as I walked out to get the paper, I saw a cop car down the street, and later a mobile window repair business in front of the same house. The neighbor’s car had been broken into the same night. Coincidence? I don’t think so. We called police and filed a report.

The night before the burglary, I remember watching a story on ABC News about a Washington family who had set up cameras in their house to watch their dog while they were on vacation. Instead, they watched a burglar rummaging through their garage. It was possible thanks to a $150 Dropcam camera. The homeowner told ABCNews that the camera ended up saving her and her husband a few thousand dollars in stolen items.

Here’s the story:

 

The camera was linked through a WiFi connection to a mobile application that sent her an alert any time motion was detected. It allowed the couple to watch as the intruder browsed through expensive bicycles and gathered valuables. They called police who arrived as the burglar was leaving. Though no thumb-Dropcam-product-iPhonearrests were made, all stolen items were recovered after the intruder made a clumsy escape.

Guess what I’m buying into? A video security system. And which one? I bought more than one Dropcam over the weekend that I’ll set up around the house. It says they’re easy to set-up and use. I’ll get alerts on my smart phone, where I can watch what’s going on at home. But here’s what sold me. Dropcam has a DVR service and will save video for up to 30 days (for a monthly fee).  It would have caught my burglar. At least on video. The cameras come in sometime this week. I’ll keep you updated on how I like them.

Oh, by the way, another thing I learned to help protect my family and property? And it’s really simple. Always lock the doors.

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