Archive for February, 2014

This morning I was held at gunpoint for ransom…

20 February 2014 at 12:49 pm
by Jonah

…or at least that’s what the guy who called my dad said.

I was brushing my teeth this morning at 7:25 when my phone rang with a local number.  

“This is the El Paso County Sheriff’s office.  Is this Joanna?  Are you alright?”


“Are you able to speak freely?”

“Yes, I’m at home with my husband.  We’re getting ready to go to work.”

“Can you verify your parents’ address?”

Well, I know they’re on Ford Drive, and there’s a 1, 4, and 5 in the address, plus an additional one of those, though I can never remember which.  I just turn left at the red mailbox when I go over there.  I guessed, and Berck said, “That’s not their address!”  As noted before, I have a hard time remembering numbers, even with the police.

The dispatcher didn’t seem to care.  “And you’re okay? Your father called us very upset and said someone called him and said he was holding you at gunpoint and was demanding money.”

I looked outside.  An inch or two of snow had fallen that night.  There weren’t even any recent tire tracks on our ally.  Nothing but rabbit footprints outside.  “No, there’s no one here but us.”

“Okay.  We’re going to see if we can get the caller to meet us somewhere to drop off the money and see if we can get this resolved.  Can you verify your address?  We’re sending a deputy to make sure you’re okay.  You said you were getting ready to leave for work.  Can you stay at your house until the deputy either arrives or contacts you by phone?”

We waited 45 minutes.  I spent the time sending an e-mail to my office manager saying I’d be late and then shoveling the driveway.

Berck finally insisted I call the Teller County Sheriff and see if we could go to work.   The dispatcher said she had no idea what I was talking about, that El Paso County Sheriff’s office hadn’t contacted them, but if they did, she would let them know that I had checked in and was fine.  She added, “Oh, yeah, that’s a scam that’s going around.  We got three of those last week.”

I’d called Dad to let him know I was fine and sent both him and Mom text messages, in case they were still talking to the police and couldn’t answer.  Dad texted me back and said he’d call in a little bit.

When I did talk to Dad, he said he’d dropped Mom off at the airport to fly to Mobile this morning.  A number he didn’t recognize called his mobile phone.  He thought there was a possibility that it was the airline, so he answered.  A guy with what sounded to him like a Latin accent said that there had been a horrible accident involving a relative and did he have any relatives in town.  Dad said he had a daughter.  Then the guy said that he had a gun but that he wouldn’t hurt me unless Dad gave him money.  While they were talking, Dad had put his phone on mute and called 911 so the police could hear the conversation as well.  A deputy also showed up almost right away.

That’s about when I got my call.

The caller eventually demanded that Dad go to Safeway and wire him money.  So he’s probably not even in the country.

Then Mom texted me.  She had just landed in Dallas and wanted to know what my text message was about.







11 February 2014 at 10:09 pm
by Berck

I quit grad school. I even felt bad about it for a few days. But then I committed to build an airplane, and now I feel much better.

I knew grad school was going to be a substantial amount of work, but after several weeks of essentially doing nothing but working for 4 hours after work and all the weekends, I was starting to fall behind. Someone else at Georgia Tech mentioned that they’d already taken 3 days off of work in order to try to get caught up with school work. You know what? Screw that. I don’t need the degree; I thought it would be fun. This much stress just isn’t fun, and Joanna pleaded with me to quit on multiple occasions. The idea of quitting probably wouldn’t have occurred to me if she hadn’t been so persistent about it (I actually thought she was being dramatic at first, but it became clear that she was not.) Once I started thinking about quitting, I did it as quickly as possible because the refund was based on the day I decided to withdraw.

But I’m really doing this. Building an airplane. This is probably the most excited I’ve been about something since I started flight school. I never thought I’d have an airplane of my own, and I still won’t. My coworker, Randy, and I are doing this together, and we’ll share ownership when we’re done. We have no idea what we’re doing, but we have books, the internets, no grad school, and gumption.

I need to start a builder’s log. I initially decided I wasn’t going to do the blog-as-builder’s-log thing, but it’s probably a good idea. The builder’s log is required to prove to the FAA that we built 51% of the aircraft, and they like pictures. So I’ll probably set up a separate WordPress site for that…

Most of our tools and the kit for the aircraft tail arrived today. I’m planning on taking it home Thursday and using the long weekend to get started!