Saturday, August 31, 2013

Buy Local... Power?

I don't really think that I like to fight for the sake of fighting... I used to. But, I got over that a while back. I do like fighting for a good reason. I think this is a good reason. Big companies aren't inherently bad. Many of them, however, do use their powers for evil and not for good.

Campaign For Local Power from New Era Colorado on Vimeo.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Put Your Trust In...

A coffee shop near my place has a bulletin board available for community use. Some of the notes become their own little conversations. This one was just a little hilarious.

"Jesus, I trust you."     "Science I trust you."

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I try very hard to make my interactions with other people, positive. I like others to be happy that we crossed paths. This is especially true with people who are stuck at work whilst I roam free.

So, when I walked up to the very bored looking young woman behind the register at the office supply store, we chatted. We had a brief pleasant series of exchanges, but when I attempted to sign up for their email list, she discovered, and informed me, that the period key on the keyboard was broken. We laughed and mused that even on a boring day, everything doesn't go off without a hitch. Opting out of the list, I finished checking out, and commented as I turned to leave, "Good luck with your period... Wait!... I..." The compounded agony of my faux pas was the realization that a woman and her daughter had stepped in line behind me. Making, manic eye contact with the woman in line, I blurted out, "Not period. Just the dot key on her keyboard." And ran out of the store. At least she doesn't have my email address.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sentenced To a Month...For Raping a 14 Year Old

Read the full report at the Billings Gazette Website

I don't know how this can be realStacey Dean Rambold, a senior high school teacher raped a 14 year old student. We know this because he confessed. He confessed to targeting a student in his school for, "sexual intercourse without consent," in 2008. The young woman took her own life a few weeks before her 17th birthday. A tragic result of her death was that her voice wouldn't be heard in trial. The deferred prosecution and eventual agreement the prosecution made with Rambold is horrible:

The agreement called for prosecutors to put the case on hold for three years. The charges would be dismissed, the agreement stated, if Rambold completed a sex offender treatment program and complied with other conditions.

He complies with a treatment program and they drop the charges of the rape of a 14 year old, who was so scarred that she killed herself. I believe in redemptive justice, but that’s really hard to swallow.

In December 2012 the courts learned that Rambold FAILED TO FINISHE THE PROGGRAM! In fact, he got kicked out of the program, when it was learned that he had been having unsupervised visits with minors, had not informed his counselors of a new sexual relationship, and missed meetings.

Rambold's attorney, argued Monday for the suspended sentence. He said Rambold lost his career, his marriage and his home and has suffered a "scarlet letter of the Internet" as a result of publicity about the case.

His client is being shamed on the internet, so he shouldn’t have to go to jail? Yup. That makes sense.

The judge’s response:

Judge Baugh said he listened to recorded statements given by Morales before her death and believes that while she was a troubled youth, she was "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold. […]The judge also said Morales was "older than her chronological age."

I am sick inside of my soul.

The judge went on to sentence Rambold to 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended.

Translation: He will serve 31 Days for the rape, leading to the suicide of a fourteen year old girl.

You can read the full story in the Billings Gazette. And, check there for updates.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Courthouse Blues

Listen or Read, but enjoy.

As a 28 year old black man, I go out of my way not to spend time in the halls of justice. I didn't even want to go into the courthouse to pick up a marriage license. It’s not that I've done something that should get me arrested. And, while I am always a tiny bit concerned with getting thrown in jail for contempt of court… and also, a little, for that parking ticket I never paid, and everything in the USA PATRIOT act, and the NDAA, mostly I hate the guard shack.

The guard shack is the worst. Full of bored and/or paranoid members of the law enforcement community, this is the place where bad things happen to good, albeit absentminded, people.
And, I am, very admittedly, absentminded. To date, I have lost three nail files, a handful of crappy lighters, one Zippo, a cheap knife, and one hunter green double hinged wine key at a series of guard shacks. Of course, by this point in my life I've stopped carrying a knife. Not out of any kind of principled stand, mind you, I just broke the clasp off my old one, lost, and then failed to replace it.

With that track record on guard shacks, I've taken to leaving my coat and all pocket contents, save ID and whatever money or paperwork are required for that specific trip, whenever I’m faced with the looming specter of confiscation. As a general rule, though, I have to plan ahead. Not just trips to the municipal palaces, I “pre-remember” as much of life as possible. Keys go in a certain place. Phone. Wallet. I once looked for my glasses for three days because I couldn't remember putting them three feet away and they got covered by a single sheet of paper… Stop laughing. So, if I didn't plan to go to the courthouse, my mind is still at the office… or the library… or at home… wherever.

I’m getting ready to leave for the office when the call buzzes from my brother. “Do you have a hundred bucks?”
     “Any chance you’d stop by the courthouse and pay my fine. I can’t get there before they close, and I could do without a bench warrant.”
     “Sure,” I responded, without hesitation. I knew he was good for the bill, and, we've always been those siblings. In the 10th grade, I forgot my work shirt, and my 10 year old brother rode his bike, the two and a half miles to bring it to me, “’cause [he] knew [I’d] need it.” So, yeah, I'd pay his fine.

I’ll spare you the details of my tooling around the one-way street filled labyrinth of over-priced metered parking that is Downtown. And, instead, cut to my stepping through the double-doors of the municipal building, and coming face-to-yellow rotating beacon light with my old enemy… the guard post. And then I realize that because this is my brother’s plan, I didn't “pre-remember” anything. I have stuff in every one of my nine pockets. And, as I begin the adventure which is excavating all the hidden folds of my winter coat, I have the next unpleasant revelation of the day.

A friend, Dave, was in a bit of a spot, when the dean at his school called him into the office to say, that because of an oversight by Dave’s advisor, and the registrar, he’d missed a prerequisite to nearly all of the classes from the previous three years. He had to finish the class that semester or he’d be kicked out of the program. This was especially bad news for Dave, because of the nature of the class. So, I tutored him through the semester, as a favor. During all of our sessions, I’d incessantly flick any one of his knives open and closed. At our last session Dave gifted me a Kershaw: Tanto Blur, an excellent knife retailing at about $80.00+. Which I gratefully and absentmindedly slipped into my pocket the day before my brother called me.

So, as I begin the mental exercise of preparing to fish coins, receipts, pens, and a veritable mountain of flotsam and jetsam from their hiding places, my hand comes first to rest on my brand new knife. And, as the first person in line I’m already face to face with the gate keeper. The guard hands me a basket, and I give him one of those pained looks of apology.
“I have a knife in my pocket,” I begin, in a quiet voice. “And, I’d rather not throw it away.”
What follows is a virtual masterwork of that, “you’re such an idiot” look; which he holds for what feels like hours.
     “Should I just go back to my car?” I sputter out, uncomfortably.
     “Give it to me,” the guard replies flatly.
     “I could just take it back to my car,” I try again.
He repeats himself with a similarly quasi-disdainful tone. And, smirking, says, he'll put in a little envelop, and I can retrieve it upon my return. Uncomfortable with this arrangement, but without much in terms of alternative, I hand over my knife and begin filling up the basket destined for the x-ray machine. The ever growing line behind me stirs, and now I'm just feeling scattered. On the other side of the machine, I begin ramming the contents of the basket back into my pockets with wanton disregard for organizational scheme. The sole focus? Getting away from the derisive gaze of the guard, and the impatient eyes of those trapped in line behind me.

The woman behind the ultra-thick Plexiglas payment window was pleasant enough, but she was definitely all business. My plan to explain that this was all on my brother’s behalf was preempted entirely by the instruction to type the “social of the person on file, into the keypad.” Then she asked how much I’d be paying. “$100,” I replied and began patting myself down to recover my money. As I smiled and dug once more, I realized that in the guard shack fiasco, my money got a bit moved around. A $20 here. A $20 there. After a minute or two, I’d reassembled eighty of the hundred I walked in with.
     “You could just pay the $80,” She said, doing a better than average job of, veiling her very likely growing impatience. In the midst of my delusion, I searched for at least another full minute, as another line grew behind me. “I guess I’m paying the eighty,” I sighed exasperatedly. As it dawns on me that, there’s a chance that I dropped the missing bill at the guard station while jamming errant papers into my pocket. Only by now, I don’t even want to make eye contact with the guards.

So, I shuffle back, hands in my pockets, standing-by for a second, ‘til the guard recognizes me. Handing me my knife, his, “Next time, leave it at home,” line convinces me to just give up on the money, and move on with my day.

Back in my car, the final $20 falls out of a fold in my jacket onto the seat beside me. For a split second, I consider going back in… Yeah, no.
Photo By: *Whitestarflower