Sunday, October 29, 2006

Poor Choices

This past week I have thought about how I feel about crime and the way we punish and even dispose of those individuals who commit crimes in this country. I had to ask myself if I was objective when looking at this problem. The answer I've come up with is NO, I am not.

A few months ago I was a witness to a premeditated violent crime. I was three feet away from a friend who was stabbed in the back with a steak knife taken from a restaurant that we had just been inside of. It only took moments....but at that moment.....time just slowed down to a crawl. Right now even as I think about it, things continue to move in slow motion.

The knife penetrated my friends back three different times...Once only millimeters away from his spinal cord. Another, just a shallow blow. The third punctured his lung.

I remember hearing screaming.....Was that my voice? I recall thinking my friend is being killed. I remember the flash of metal of the knife blade in the lights of the parking lot. I remember the faces of other friends as they pulled the attacker off of my friend, relieving him of his knife. I remember seeing my friend laying there bleeding.....his blood all over the hood of the car. I remember being the one to have to call his Mom. Waking her from a sound sleep to tell her that her son had been stabbed and was being life flighted to a hospital 60 miles away. I remember the sound of her voice..the fear in it.

But this isn't about me or what I felt or remember. It is about knowing that the guy who stabbed my friend had been arrested before. In fact 3 times prior to the attack. All three times during an 8 month period prior to the stabbing of my friend. That he had been arrested for drugs and assault. That on each occasion he had been arrested and then released on bond. Which is why he was out walking freely the night he decided to stick a steak knife in my friend.

The simple fact that this man in question, the attacker...was at home with his family before my friend even was able to leave the hospital from his injuries was offensive to me. The fact that this man shows no remorse or guilt for what he's done.

Proof of that is the way he walked into a store while my friend standing at the counter paying for his purchases...He walked up behind my friend, getting as close as he can get with out touching him and stands there. Almost as if daring my friend, his former victim to say react in some way. That is not a man who has remorse or feels guilt over what he's done. That is a man who's saying "I'm walking around free what are you going to do about it"? Knowing all to well that there is nothing that we can do to him or about him. He's laughing at us. At this system.

So am I objective about crime and punishment?? The answer would be..... NO I AM NOT.

I believe that most of the people in our prison system right now deserve to be there. I also believe that most were given multiple chances to straighten out before being locked up for good. So no, I have no sympathy for those behind bars. Its not a question that they may have made bad choices. Of course they did....they are in prison. Maybe there are even those individuals who have remorse for what they have done.

But you know what? Most of us go out into this world every single day and we make a choice to abide the law and not to commit a crime. We may want things, but we don't just take them if they aren't ours. We have people who make us angry and we make a choice not to pick up a weapon as a response to that anger.

So forgive me if I don't feel all touchy feely over someone else's poor choices. Or the need to give each individual a "do over card" because they made a that poor choice. I don't give a damn about your poor choices. YOU were more than likely taught the difference between right and wrong just as I was. YOU probably knew before you did whatever it was, that it wasn't the right thing to do. YOU knew, but you did it anyway. You got behind the wheel of that car after drinking....You took drugs or sold them...You took something that didn't belong to you.....You hurt another person because you didn't like them or were angry. What ever your reason for what you did...YOU DID IT. You made the choice to screw up your life. Deal with the consequences of it.

I have made my share of mistakes in my life. Luckily for me..none of them have been bad enough to land me in jail. But having said that, even I have some family members on my all too colorful family tree that have first hand knowledge of a jail cell...I have one family member that's even spent time in prison. Did I like it that this happened to them? No. Did each of them do something to deserve being in jail? YES THEY DID. They broke the law. I knew it..they knew it. Did I have sympathy for them being in jail..NOPE.

YES I felt disappointed that they made a poor choice. That the were stupid enough to get themselves arrested. I suppose there was even a part of me that wished that they had actually used the few brain cells God had given them and weren't out doing bone headed things. Things that not only hurt them...but their families as well. But the bottom line is...they didn't think..they did it..and they deserved to be where they were.

There is NO such thing as a victimless crime. Because as a tax payer as a citizen..each time someone makes one of those "poor choices". I pay for it. I pay for it by having a prison built in my back yard. I pay for it with my taxes, that house, feed, entertain and even educate that prisoner. I pay for it by having to lock up everything I own so that no one takes it from me. I will pay for it by not being able to let my future children play outside by themselves in their own neighborhood. That those same children cant go to school with out walking past a metal detector. That they cant wear backpacks any longer, just in case someone wants to bring a gun to class. I pay for it when I cant even go out to have breakfast at night with a group of friends without one of them ending up in the hospital.

Do you want to know the truth? I'm tired of paying for it!!! When are the people who make good choices going to matter more than the ones who don't?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Law And Order

I read the short article the other day about the 59 year old inmate who refused the offer to be let out of jail. This was a German man who had been convicted of murder in 1972 and has spent the last 34 years in jail. He was sentenced to life imprisonment...and apparently is taking that job seriously. This is the second time he's been given the chance to walk out of prison and he's declined.

I cant speak about the German prison system. I know very little about how they do things there. But it has brought up some issues I do have with the way that we do things in this country. And I'm pretty sure some of my views wont be too popular..but bear with me anyway.

First, I live in the south...and around here prisons pop up faster than weeds in a vegetable garden. I live in a very rural and some what economically depressed area. And judging by the number of prisons springing up lately, I guess somebody thinks that not only do we have the room for prisons..but that they would be of great benefit to the economy here! I think NOT.

Right now we seem to be building prisons fast and furiously. All the time we hear complaints about how we have prison over crowding..and have a need for even more prisons. I cant help asking myself: "WHY?"

Is it because we just have a society now that is now more corrupt and therefore more people who are breaking the law? Or is it that when we can catch a criminal..and sentence him, but we cant seem to follow through with punisment?

Are our laws and the punishments for breaking those laws insuffient to detour crime?

So I wanna know....Just how many men do we have at present sitting on death row in this country? And how many years have they been in this holding pattern of waiting for their sentence to be carried out? How long do we continue to let someone appeal and appeal before we say enough is enough?

YES, I realize that nobody wants to run the risk of convicting an innocent person. I also will admit our system is flawed and occasionally I'm sure that's exactly what happens. But I would also be willing to bet that the vast majority of people currently taking up residence in our prisons probably belong there. And yes, I will even go one step further and say that most sentenced to death..probably deserve that too.

I'm not here trying to debate the morality or validity of capital punishment. But I do think that if you create a law that says if you commit this crime, are convicted.. and this is your punishment...then that punishment should be carried out. Otherwise, whats the point?

So do we change the laws?....Change our system of how these laws are enforced? Truthfully, I don't know. But I DO know that its not enough to talk the talk...YOU have to be willing to stand up and then take action too.

If you cant...then remove the law or step aside and let others step up who can.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Are you one of those people that think Formula One (F1) is BORING?

I am a new fan to Formula One (F1) racing......And truthfully I guess if you had asked me that question this time last year.....I might have agreed with you. I admit I'm still learning my way around this amazing sport..... So I cant tell you all the stats and figures that a long time fan could. What I can tell you is that I love it! I never really saw myself as someone who would get into this kind of thing.......Now I'm totally hooked.

This coming weekends race should send this addiction into overdrive for a number of reasons. Mainly because its the last race of the season..That means every driver will be going all out to win it, making the unpredictability of it all really amazing to watch.

Plus...Its the last race for the former seven time FIA F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher...who will be hanging up his helmet and retiring from F1 for good after this ultimate race. That sports fans will all by itself make this race historic.

Oh and just for the record....... We are cheering for Ferrari (Schumachers team) to win this race and most importantly, the title. Admittedly that's not going to be easy to do, virtually impossible even. After an engine failure last week cost him the race and his championship lead. BUT.... the past has proven that it is never a good idea to write off the legendary multi world champion.

He may need a miracle. Well... it just so happens that I believe in miracles. If anyone can pull this off- its Michael.


(Hope you liked the video) : )

Special Thanks and love to Adrian, for his help with writing, editing and video for this post. And for introducing me to F1.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Sounds Of The Dark

I am a firm believer in the boogie man. I will never be the girl who is home alone in the house..hears the noise and then goes to investigate. I have watched one to many movies and know what happens when you do that.

Ok, well there was that one time a year or so ago that I had to tupperwear that bat that got in our house..but that was the ONLY time.

I don't dangle my feet over the edge of the bed at night. AND I don't go walking off in the dark all by myself. Which is why this weekend when we were all hanging out around a bon fire and I decided I needed to go out to the car...I took my friend Heather with me. The fire was in the back yard.....which of course is where most of the people were. The cars were parked in the people...lots of dark.

Everything was going well...Heather and I were talking. We got out almost to the car...when I heard the noise. Now it wasn't just a rustle of the wind wasn't the scurry noise of some small furry woodland creature....This was the noise of a serial was the was loud.

I don't have to hear a noise twice so I can try and identify it. Its was a noise..It wasn't normal..that's all I need to know. I took off. Now just for the record..I am not the big athlete..But when I heard that noise this girl looked like a track star. I screamed...I ran..and I didn't look back. I just assumed Heather was behind me.

I kept running until I got back up to the fire where the rest of my friends were...The crowd sees me zipping past them like a rocket..and of course were curious as to why I was moving at the speed of light. Someone says.....Jen what's wrong? I said.... I heard a noise! That produced a few chuckles and some grins from around the fire. But I didn't care. Then they said....Jen where's Heather? What? She's not behind me? This is the first time I notice I'm alone and there is NO Heather....A minute or so comes Heather up to the fire, winded from running.

Geezz Jen you just left me...I said.. What? I thought you were behind me! She said behind you?..I barely saw you...You heard the noise and you were gone.

OK (hangs head) This was true..I did kick it into the every man for himself mode.

She said.... Besides I cant run in these boots....AHUH..That was Heathers downfall right there..She had on her new boots...She had naively substituted fashion for safety. Rookie mistake..And not one you will see this girl making.

There are some very important lessons to be learned from all of this. First.....The importance of good footwear....And secondly...I don't have to be the fastest runner to survive the serial killers..I just have to be faster than my friend Heather.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Oh Deer

I have always liked having guys for friends....The way their minds work is completely fascinating to me. They are at times a mystery, very often a puzzle and usually a source of amusement....The way they can take their thought processes on this meandering bunny trail going from point A to point B and make it seem SO reasonable and logical is completely mind boggling.

Here is an example of what I mean...

The other day I'm talking on a the phone with a friend of mine. He says "Oh Jen, did I tell you about the deer"? No I say......We haven't spoken in a while..what deer? Well, he was out walking the dog in the pasture that's behind his apartment...There are woods that border the pasture and quite frequently he will see coyote out there at dusk. His dog suddenly stops marking things briefly to perk up......All of the hair on her neck and back was standing up..and she makes a noise.....(she doesn't bark, EVER, don't ask its a long story) My friend looks up and there standing about 12 or 13 feet away is a male deer. No horns yet..just buttons. They all just stand there staring at each other...

Ok let me cut to the chase..I know you are all dying to hear about the majesty and spender of this nature story unfolding.....but that's not what this is about. So let me fast forward this story.

The deer sticks around even after he sees my friend and his dog.. After the dog is tied friend is actually able to approach the deer close enough that the deer actually starts licking his hand!!!!

Now most of you are going "Awwww"......Yeah I know, I was too. Until he says.."You know I was thinking, if Id only had my bowie knife....I could have been eating deer for a month or so".

That snapped me right back to reality...I said..." WHAT"!!!?? You have got to be kidding me.

He said.... What?..I love venison. But yeah..I guess that would have been wrong huh? He says...Then I was thinking, I wonder how I can get a rope around its neck so I can take it home with me.

Again my mouth is hanging open....... WHAT???!!!! I'm shaking my head....You didn't?

He said... Nooo, I think the apartment management would have frowned on that.

NOOO....YAH THINK? (laughing)

Now just let me state for the record. This guy is an intelligent guy. He's well read..well traveled....educated..he has common sense. He was raised right, with two caring involved parents. So there is only one explanation for this type of thought process...He's a guy. Plain and simple.

Now, I don't think my friend would have actually taken that deer home with him to his apartment......aaannnnddd.......I don't believe that he would have gutted him for the meat either...Although now that I think about it....

I don't really I?

Because, after all he IS a guy.....


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Money Cant Buy Happiness..

I am beginning to think that maybe I was born with a birth defect. I was born without ambition. Yesss....(hangs head) I think I truly lack any.

I have watched friends and family for years scramble and jockey themselves into the best position for colleges and job opportunities. All for one thing, so that they can improve their current status in life. Either with the presence of the dollar in their bank accounts or by the prestige that comes with the job title. But I have never felt the fever. I'm not sure why.

I know I'm lucky, I have never been truly poor. At least I don't think we have. If we were, my parents hid it from me well. I know that my mom always made sure that I had whatever I needed. Do you think there in lies the problem? Maybe I wasn't taught ambition?

Don't misunderstand me...I have no problem with work. Whether I get paid for it or not...I'm no stranger to it. My family and relatives come from farmers and blue collar working class...Especially the generation of my grandparents, who believe its a mortal sin not to indulge in the fine art of manual labor. Its just not something I get all giddy and day dream about.

Its not that I don't want to earn a decent living someday. I realize that money is not just a luxury its a necessity. You have to have it to pay for the basic wants and needs in life. I guess I would like to be comfortable and not have to struggle to make ends meet. But I have never sat down and thought to myself...GEEE I cant wait till I'm pulling down 6 figures and I can by that 6 bedroom house with the pool and the three car garage.

I can remember one afternoon at one of our larger family gatherings....The family was all sitting around that huge table in the dining room. I was listening to my cousin speak of her aspirations for college and future employment. She wanted to attend college at these schools because they were top ranking in the country........Then move to this graduate school....From there she felt she could leap frog her way and land a job from one of these top ranking corporations. Making eventually X number of dollars.

During this recital of her future goals and aspirations....The parents and the grandparents were nodding approvingly and smiling. Saying how that was a good plan. Then they look at me. Sooo Jen what are you're plans?

I hate that question. Because I hadn't made my own personal map to the buried treasure, ie; The American Dream. I probably should have just thrown out my standard answers that I had learned to recite every time someone asked me this question. Lets face it..this had been going on for over a year at that point. I learned quickly that if I told the truth and said I really don't know what I want to do. Then I got the "Oh that's so sad" look or the even worse.."You're going to be a loser for the rest of your life" look.

I was thinking in that moment...that I don't care right now what I do. I'm not ready to make plans or pick something for the sake of saying I have. I think then is when it clicked in my brain that I didn't have this drive or whatever it is you want to call it to conquer the world. Or at least my little corner of it. That's when I made the critical mistake of trying to be funny...I told them I was currently employed as a non-profit slacker. There wasn't much money in it..But the hours were great.

Big mistake..Apparently this group didn't subscribe to my "I will figure it out when I do" theory. They felt I needed a plan and proceeded to tell me so. That is when it began...the talk about goals and my future. Its then that comes the we are going to now give you ideas as to what you should do portion of our talk. One of the Great Aunts told me she would be glad to hook me up as an Avon representative if I wanted. That she did quite well with hers and that is something that would still allow me to set my own schedule. Someone else said that they knew of the daughter of a friend of the family who was now working at the bank in town..and had gone from being a teller all the way up to the loans department. She apparently was doing quite well for herself.

But before I could even reply......Great Grandma who felt the only thing a person truly needed in life was a good relationship with their lord and maker... Spoke up and said...Money is the root of all evil. It wont buy you happiness. That is something you need to look to the lord for.

That's when Great Uncle Mack (my personal hero and role model for the non-profit slacker and semi wild child I am today) finally spoke up and put in his words of wisdom........

"Money may not be able to by you happiness...But it sure lets you enjoy miserable on a nicer side of town".

Cant argue with that logic.