Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Year In Review

Lead Investigator Thomas H. Humphreys takes a minute to reflect.

Seth Godin's blog suggested that we take just a minute to brag, share with you, our friends and colleagues, what we've accomplished over the past year. It's both embarrassing and inspiring to put these things in a list. I am proud of the work our team did last year. Thank you David W. Green, PI and Kimberly D. Green, PI. The support and hard work you provide is priceless.

In 2010 we...
1. Completed over 50 hours of continuing education (State of TN requires 12 hours).
2. Published 48 blog posts.
3. Closed 45 cases.
4. Released 10 Newsletters.
5. Published 5 articles for magazines.
6. Took 3 educational field trips: FBI Academy, International Spy Museum, and New Orleans Retreat.
7. Celebrated two year anniversary for [FIND] Investigations.
8. Sent one crook to jail.
9. Completed one Certified Fraud Examiners Designation.
10. Located, cataloged, and analyzed in excess of $65,000,000 in assets.
11. Served process/located several hard-to-find people.
12. Had one fantastic year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[FIND] Vice - Lisbeth Salander

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, who Played with Fire and Kicked the Hornet's Nest
from the novels by Stieg Larsson

The four-foot-eleven, twenty-something, heavily inked and pierced, ass-kicking Lisbeth Salander has a serious axe to grind.

The backstory: victimized as a child by a sociopathic father and a sadistic psychiatrist, Salander has learned to trust no one and to take justice into her own hands. 

In adulthood, Salander becomes a covert researcher. She is known in the hacker underground as a computer wizard with a nearly photographic memory. She uses her mad skills to earn a living doing investigative work for a security firm. 

Her combination of extreme wariness, fearlessness, and tech genius has equipped Salander with a singular ability to exact justice and fend for herself. From fighting off large and numerous attackers and raining down a hellfire of punishment upon anyone who harms her to embezzling a fortune and using it to disappear at will, Salander is as capable and fierce an adversary as you would never care to meet. She takes no prisoners.

If you are unwise enough to $#@% with her, you may quickly find your bank accounts drained, your credit rating decimated, your assets frozen, and an exploding milk carton in your lap. To her enemies, she's a typhoon of whupass in a petite, ripped, punk-rock package. To her friends...actually, she doesn't so much have friends.

The Cocktail

James Hensley, manager of that inimitable speakeasy, The Patterson House, offers his take on the perfect drink for our diminutive detective, that tiny whirlwind of mayhem. A match to the garnish converts this tasty beverage to a relatively harmless version of the Molotov variety of cocktail. 
The Dragon Tattoo

2 oz     Vodka
3/4 oz  Lemon juice
3/4 oz  Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz  Cherry Heering
13 drops Kubler Absinthe.

Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake. Strain into a collins glass with a single large shard of ice. Top with club soda and stir two times. Garnish with  a large piece of ginger candy with a Luxardo cherry on top. Put three drops of Absinthe over the cherry and set it ablaze.

The Cigar
La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chiselito 

Filler: Dominican Republic 
Binder: Dominican Republic 
Wrapper: Ecuador 
Length: 5" 
Ring Gauge: 44 

Looks can be deceiving. 

Lisbeth Salander, as a consequence of her formative years, has an accidental sagacity and thick-proved skin that allows her to be a dangerous, desired asset. She ain't bad to look at. Some might describe her with the archaic "firecracker," but that is a misnomer. She's stronger. 

In choosing a cigar, she wouldn't be deceived by the numerous huge cigars that are a transference for some closeted men. She would smoke the Chiselito--as small and deceptive as she is. The cigar is small and looks good, but the ligero makes it extremely strong. It has more pepper and spice than some people can handle. You would eat before you smoked it for fear of turning green, or stomach turning. It's a pleasant kick in the ass. 

Lisbeth would probably smoke it between cigarettes on an empty stomach with a little black coffee for 
sipping. It is the cigar for someone with enough resolve to dig herself out of her grave.

by Joe Zike, UPtown's Smoke Shop

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Science of Anxiety

The Two Faces of Infidelity

In this business we often see checklists--catalogs of clues that a spouse might be cheating.

A quick Google search for “signs of infidelity” returns no fewer than 200,000 hits for How to spot a cheating spouse, How to tell if he’s stepping out, Ways to tell if he’s got a new lover. These lists are almost always the same: new perfume, new interest in physical appearance, secretive phone calls, mysterious expenditures, etc.

If you've ever had reason to perform that particular Google search, you know the feeling: it's that little kernel of doubt that sneaks into a marriage and destroys confidence, trust, and peace. Maybe it presents itself in small doses, meting out insecurity in infinitesimal portions. Maybe it walks into the room and screams.

Either way, those lurking unknowns and suspicions fuel a growing unease that can rapidly escalate to anxiety, stress, even a sort of mental paralysis. And the cheater experiences a form of anxiety as well—the stress that accompanies the need to lie to maintain a fa├žade of normalcy.

Anxiety – The cuckold/cuckquean’s perspective
Anxiety is a byproduct of fear, and fear of the unknown is, perhaps, the most distressing variety. Anxiety closes down the thinking brain and activates the body-protecting lizard brain, the reacting brain. As Gregory Hartley puts it in his book, How to Spot a Liar, philanderers are, “…brokers of anxiety.” When a person thinks his spouse is cheating on him, he receives a jolt to his idea of self and his frame of reference.

We organize our idea of self by assembling input from others and various situations. Our frame of reference, our view of the outside world, is prejudiced by experience. When one suspects infidelity, both self and frame of reference are questioned. Confusion and emotion take charge…anxiety rents space in the brain. 

Anxiety – The cheater’s perspective
When people have affairs, they lie to maintain their cover. Big and small non-truths leak out in a sludge of constant mendacity. From hiding credit card receipts to sneaking off to the back porch for late-night small talk via cell phone, every aspect of a deceptive person’s life is caught up in half-truths, fabrication, and deceit. And when someone tells a lie, he places himself under stress. He lives in constant fear of discovery.

Stress and the Sympathetic Nervous System
When the mammalian body perceives a threat, the sympathetic nervous system takes over and kick-starts the body's "fight-or-flight" response. Blood is routed away from the face and skin to the muscles. Blood is diverted away from the digestive tract. The bladder no longer has the ability to contract and expel waste. The liver floods the blood stream with glucose, preparing for physical activity. Heart rate and respiration increase and nostrils flare, offering the lizard brain a heavy dose of oxygenated blood. Metabolism is heightened, sweating intensifies. Pupils dilate to collect as much data about the threat as possible. Gregory Hartley calls this, "your mind at war.”

The outward signs are always visible, if sometimes only in very minute forms. The stressed person’s hands may shake. His complexion may appear pallid. His mouth and lips dry out, a result of dramatically reduced blood flow. Mucosa shrink, leading to pale thin lips and drooping lower eyelids. The brow clinches and draws downward. Shoulders draw tight in preparation for defense. Elbows are in, close to the ribcage in a defensive posture.

Inside, the stressed person feels jittery, hypersensitive. Thanks to a lack of blood in the digestive system, the person feels a sensation of butterflies in the stomach; he may even feel nausea. With the heart racing blood away from the skin, the anxious person feels a high core temperature and cool skin, that clammy feeling. His focus becomes narrow and sense of hearing is directed at the source of the threat. He hears his own heartbeat. His mind recedes to a primitive state, and emotions work their way involuntarily to the fore. The person under stress often becomes defensive, argumentative, and emotional.

These systems turn on at the cost of rational thought, leading to what Seth Godin calls “lizard brain.” Irrationality is the rule at this point.

How to stop the cycle 
The Simple (well…maybe not so simple) Fix for Stress

The cheater
Simple answer - Do not cheat. Alternative answer – stop telling lies.

In one case last year, we were hired by a woman's attorney to document a philandering husband’s activities. We placed him under heavy surveillance--three cars and four investigators. We documented the man’s every move, dates, picnics, overnight visits, etc. Confronted with his lies, the man took an unusual tack, opting to eliminate his ongoing stress and simply carry on the affair in the open. He even brought his new girlfriend to a meeting at the attorney’s office. He thereby removed the burden of a lie, and his stress level seemed to drop. From a purely practical perspective, this wasn't a bad call.

Ending the affair is always the best solution. But coming clean about an affair can at least remove the deceit variable from the equation and, along with it, some of the accompanying stress. And it might even allow the dallier to regain access to rational thought, which just might lead to more productive discourse.

The Cuckold/Cuckquean
Simple answer – remove the unknown.
Again, anxiety is a byproduct of fear, often fear of the unknown. Do not guess. Do not assume. Know. Anxiety leads  to "lizard brain," and in that state, irrationality is the rule.

Shakepeare didn't need to understand the sympathetic nervous system to recognize it at work on the human rational mind. He sketched this lizard-brain descent from suspicion to anxiety to madness (to brilliant effect) in his 1603 play "Othello" in which a man desperately in love with his wife allows his unwarranted suspicions to prompt a series of escalating irrational acts, ending in tragedy—the old one-two punch of murder-suicide, always, unfortunately, performed in that order.

Though potentially painful, it is always best to eliminate the unknown. Once a person has the facts…once he eliminates the unknown, he can remove anxiety, and (potentially) act rationally.

For the cheating spouse:  Gregory Hartley says, “You will simplify your life enormously if you eliminate complete fabrication from your repertoire.” Simply put, stop lying and placing yourself under needless stress.

For the spouse who fears a partner is having an affair: get the facts. Consider hiring a competent and qualified investigator to learn the facts on your behalf. Find out what's really happening, then act rationally from a place of knowledge and power.

Here at [FIND] Investigations, we believe that our role is to help our clients contain the unknown. By gathering documented and verifiable information, we hope to help people move from a state of fear and helplessness to higher cognitive function…and rational action.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Address Change for [FIND] Investigations

[FIND] Investigations has a new address: 

[FIND] Investigations
P. O. Box 120086
Nashville, TN 37212

One of my favorite recollections from growing up in a small town is walking with my dad to the post office. When school was out my dad would haul me to his office on Main Street and let me hang out for the day. It didn't matter if it was 100 degrees and steamy hot or 6 inches of snow and tooth-chilling cold; Tom dressed accordingly, lit out the door, and strolled down 14th Avenue to the intersection of 14th and Osborne to gather the post. 

This daily ritual was a social affair. We'd stop by Gibby's and chat, trek over to the bank and have a coffee, walk an extra block down to Simmons' Shoe Store and spend a few minutes chatting with Bill, one of my mentors. The walk, the ritual, the time spent sharing time seems to be a rapidly disappearing memory, an anachronism. 

Well, here at [FIND] Investigations, we celebrate the anachronistic. Each month we highlight a fictional PI, usually some gumshoe from history. We do not hide from the widely-held perception that this business is somehow more fun than it should be. Our new post office is exactly 1.98 miles from the office. The walk takes us past our favorite coffee shop, along one of Nashville's oldest boulevards, and by some of our best friends' houses and offices. In short, it's perfect. 

I made the stroll down 12th over to Belmont this morning. There was no snow on the ground, but it was tooth-chilling cold. Next time my dad's in town, I think I'll haul him to the office and let him hang out for the day. Maybe we can make the hike to the post office together, drop by my buddy Austin's office for a cup of coffee and a few minutes of chatting. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Camera to Help Your Life Safe and Happiness

Key Fob Camera
I just love the translated grammar issues with spy gear. We just picked up a new covert camera. (Pictured at right)

I love the camera. It creates wonderful covert video and still photos and is as innocuous looking as, well...a standard remote access for a car. I did, however, get a huge kick out of the sparse and syntaxically challenged instructions for operation. Opening sentence, "...hope it can help your life safe and happiness."

There is only one warning noted in the brief instructions pamphlet. It reads as follows:

"Serious Statement: This product is used in the illicit use is strictly prohibited, the consequence of self."