Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Man vs Wild - The Groundhoggening

Looking out the back window while I'm making my coffee I see two of the little bastards helping themselves to my tomatoes so I get the shotgun out of the closet, run in the living room and rifle through the ammo safe for a couple of shells and sneak out the back door. My granddaughter follows me out:

"Are you going to shoot them?"
I'm gonna try.
Will there be blood?
I hope so.
Lot's of blood?
I hope so. Go inside."

She comes out a little while later wearing surgical gloves and carrying a pair for me. Strange kid. She's obsessed with puppies (they're so cute)  so I kind of figured she would be upset if she saw me blasting a groundhog. I guess not. I didn't get it anyway. This is the same kid who checks out the reflection of the tv in the wardrobe mirror when she comes in the room to make sure I'm not watching something too scary. How the reflection is different from the real thing, I don't know. But it is.

So this year, it's Scripto -1 Groundhog Nation -1 since I live trapped one this morning and took him out of town on my way to work. Technically, relocating them is illegal. Rabid groundhogs or, more likely, rabid farmers, I suppose. Anyway, I was running late and I couldn't be bothered to gather up pistol and groundhog both. I never have much luck opening the cage and getting a shot off before the varmint runs away so I usually don't bother. In all the excitement I could see shooting myself in the foot. Some things would be hard to live down around here. The only thing worse would be caught fucking a turkey. I think that guy had to move away.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The First Flush of Freedom

Too bad the Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act of 2011 or whatever it's called died in the House the other day. You would think that if incandescent bulbs were good enough for the Founders they would be good enough us. People bitch about the quality of light in the curly ques but I don't see a lot of difference. But, then again, I'm getting old. I kind of like them - I don't feel too bad about forgetting to turn them off. And they're cheaper to run. That's a good thing. Even for an American.

Senator Rand Paul has his panties in a bunch about the federally mandated low flush toilets and will no doubt propose The Flush of Choice Act. I don't know what he's eating but apparently he's having trouble getting all the paper down. Now, I'll admit I had the same reaction when the law was passed - that if the feds wanted me to change my toilet they would have to come pry my 1960 - 7.5 gallon American Standard super flush off my cold dead ass. But I've gone through a couple of models since then and I have to say that the technology is a lot better than when the low water models first came out. So Senator Randy, just quit yer bitchin' and swap out your commodes - you can afford it. And don't expect the Invisible Hand  to magically cure our environmental problems. If it was up to the markets the Cuyahoga would still catch fire and Pittsburgh would still be dark at noon.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Guilty As Charged

Of what, I'm not sure but I'm not one to miss an opportunity to put my two cents in whether I know anything about it or not. I'm not a lawyer but I have been on a jury in a murder trial which, I believe, puts me one up on the rest of you jaw flapping yahoos out there. Now with Casey Anthony I can see how the jury would acquit her of the first degree murder charge. Not enough evidence and the whole "kill the kid so that she could party" motive seemed pretty suspect to me. Why not leave her with the grandparents or put her up for adoption? But if the jury didn't think the evidence was enough for felony manslaughter of a child, the very least they should have come in with was felony child abuse. The defense, no doubt hoping for at most a manslaughter conviction, opened that can of worms when they put out the claim that she helped to hide the body after an accidental drowning. Who the hell doesn't call 911 when they find their kid at the bottom of the pool? I guess everyone grieves in their own way but acting like a drunken hose bag shouldn't be one of them. And the tearful group hug around Anthony by the defense team after the verdict came in was touching. Hard to believe they actually like that girl. Assholes.

And, speaking of assholes and not being able to tell yours from a hole in the ground, let's talk about the OJ jury. Although statistically improbable, if you run through enough trials over a long enough period of time eventually you are going to get 12 retards together in the same place at the same time. Retards who decide despite a convergent trail of physical evidence, motive and opportunity that led right to Simpson, it is more likely that a conspiracy of cops who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time orchestrate a convoluted plot to frame OJ because...well, because...that's why.

So we're howling because we want justice for that little girl. We want some finality where the guilty are punished, God is in heaven, and all is right with the world. Then we can start to put it out of our minds. I don't think that's how it works. More often than not the guilty die in bed at a ripe old age, murders are unsolved or undiscovered and the universe just grinds on. It's a fucked up situation is what it is.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Not Like TV

Serving on a jury, I mean. My experience was of a somewhat befuddled system run by somewhat well intentioned people. It was a murder trial involving a guy who shotgunned his step daughter. Unlike a lot of trials there was no doubt on either side who pulled the trigger. Our job as jurors was to determine intent and figure out whether we were dealing with 1st degree murder or a lesser charge of manslaughter. The defense based their case on the supposition that this guy was too intoxicated to mean to kill her and the prosecution based their case on numerous prior threats that this guy had made. There were no BAC readings and both sides trotted out "experts" to explain at what level of intoxication a person no longer knew what they were doing. Of course they completely contradicted each other so of course we pretty much ignored that testimony. The consensus was that the "experts" were a couple of clowns, anyway. So there we were after testimony, locked in a room with graphic pictures of a dead girl, a representation of the room where the killing occurred (if I remember correctly we also took a road trip to the house) and the murder weapon, a monstrous long barreled twelve gauge. There wasn't a lot of drama, just a bunch of well meaning strangers trying to do the right thing. We were instructed on the specifics of the law and we were trying to fit the evidence to the most likely verdict. If you wanted to be a dick about it I suppose you could bollix up the whole thing by ignoring the judge's instructions but like I said, all of us took this seriously, there was dead girl involved.
Maybe we were a particularly relaxed group but that whole dynamic of people splitting into teams or yelling and trying to take over the proceedings didn't occur. We were split about 8 to 4 - 8 for first degree murder and 4 for voluntary manslaughter. I made my position clear - he had threatened her previously and he gunned the poor girl down as she was running for the door. There is no doubt in my mind that he was trying to kill her and if he was drunk out of his mind he couldn't have made that shot. In the end we came in with guilty in the 1st degree. Most of the jury were women and I could see in their eyes that there was no way that they were going to let this motherfucker slide. I found out why later. A whole sad story of continual sexual, psychological and physical abuse. I guess some of us were a little more aware of the dynamics of the situation than others. That stuff never came up in the trial and I sure didn't pick up on it at the time. Wouldn't have changed my mind one way or the other.
Sentencing took all of about 10 seconds. Pennsylvania has mandatory life without parole for first degree murder. I didn’t know it and was a little shocked at how abrupt it was. One minute he was there and the next he was gone. Would it have changed my vote? I don’t think so.  The judge thanks the jury and cuts everyone loose so after being sequestered and coddled like little kittens the jury was suddenly dismissed to walk out with the herd consisting of the press and the perp’s and victim’s friends and family (who were sometimes the same people). Weird. For some reason I wanted to talk to the lawyers. But I didn't.

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Vacation - Part One

Two days in and Grampy realizes that he's spent the entire week's budget

Unanticipated stayover at Kent Narrows - $185
Gas and tolls to retrieve workable car - $95
Repair of family truckster - $482
Replacement boogie board and skimboard - $85
Food, boardwalk, stuff - $565
Spending a week with the grandchildren - pricey