The Trouble in Ferguson

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri have been troubling. The sad death of Michael Brown and subsequent clearing of criminal charges of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Brown, is troubling enough. But the aftermath of the grand jury decision to clear Wilson has proven to be troubling as well.

After the grand jury’s findings were released a night of violence broke out in Ferguson. Businesses were looted and set aflame. Shots were fired in the streets. I understand why people are upset and I don’t blame them. What I don’t understand is the violent reaction.

The grand jury in this case heard many hours of testimony and reviewed the available evidence then made a decision. The public, including the protesters, did not hear all the testimony or review all of the evidence the grand jury did. For better or worse this is the legal process for such cases. We don’t have to agree with the grand jury’s opinion. We don’t even need to accept it. But we do need to abide by it.

The violence that broke out last night is nothing more than crime using a particular event as an excuse. It serves no purpose in finding justice for Brown and does not further the discussion of how to better handle such cases in the future.



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Where I Want To Be

In an effort to kick start my writing I’m taking on online writing class. Today’s assignment is: “If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?”

The 12 year old Balevenie is on the left side of the shelf. The 10 year old Laphroaig is on the right. In between are a dozen other single malts ranging from Aberfeldy to Talisker.

On the side table is a book. It doesn’t matter what the book is about. It could be about anything from the Civil War to baseball to science fiction.

Next to the book is an empty whisky glass which won’t be empty for long but will be empty again before this night will end.

The chair is comfortable. The light is soft. The atmosphere is quiet and warm.

I’m right where I want to be.



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Twenty Minute Flow

In an effort to kick start my writing I’m taking on online writing class. The first assignment is to write anything that comes to mind over a 20 minute period. The following is my entry.

I saw a news story today about online gamers calling 911 to send emergency services to the homes of their online opponents as a way to get an edge in the game. The calls usually report fake hostage situations or murders requiring SWAT teams be sent. As troubling as this is I’m not sure what’s more troubling: the trend itself or the fact that there’s a nickname for the phony calls (“swatting”)?

I have been a New York Jets fan since I was a child and what’s more infuriating to me than the fact that they haven’t won a Superbowl in my lifetime is that they keep finding creative ways to lose. The latest instance took place yesterday in a 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Late in the game the Jets scored a touchdown to bring the score to 31-30 (the pending extra point would have tied the game). But the game officials ruled that the Jets had called a timeout just before the ball was snapped. This, of course, nullified the touchdown. At first viewing it didn’t look like anybody called a timeout but television replays showed that Jets Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had signaled a timeout from the sideline. What is really wrong with this is that only a head coach can call a timeout from the sideline. So the timeout that cost the Jets a chance to tie the game was, by rule, not allowed to be called.

Game officials will say that when the snap is imminent they cannot take their eyes off the field of play to verify who is calling the timeout. This is understandable. But the rule exists so there must be a mechanism to enforce it. Unfortunately for the Jets yesterday that mechanism doesn’t exist.

I’ve listened to the new U2 album, “Songs of Innocence”, several times since it was released as part of Apple’s iPhone 6 announcement last week. As a long time U2 fan I was excited for the new release. The actual songs on the album, however, tempered my excitement.

I had heard rumors that they were working on something so I wasn’t surprised there was something new but I was surprised at the Apple promotion. Still, it was new U2 so I gave it a listen as soon as possible. Needless to say, based on what I’ve written so far, I am underwhelmed by the new tracks.

Though there are some points that I enjoy there is really nothing new here. The songs, of course, are new but there’s nothing about their execution that is new. I could swear I’ve heard some of these tunes on other U2 albums. It’s just the same sound in different packaging. They’re no longer originating their sound but rather just sounds like their old material.



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Mouse Tanka

This is my first attempt at a Tanka style poem and is in response to The Daily Post’s writing challenge, Full Tanka.

Once upon a time
there was a small little mouse
who hungered for cheese.
But when he made his best move
the cat had his say. The end.



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Finding A Lost FitBit

One day last week I wasn’t feeling very well (turned out I had the flu) so when I got home I went to be to rest. A few hours later I got up to change out of my clothes and noticed that my FitBit One was missing. I immediately looked in the area of my bed and couldn’t find it. I continued to look in all points of the house I had passed between the front door and my bedroom and still couldn’t find it. I opted not to go out and retrace my steps as it was already late and I really wasn’t feeling well (did I mention I had the flu?).

Late the next day, after trying to rest as much as possible (because, like, I had the flu), I set out to find my FitBit One. I didn’t go out and retrace my footsteps because I really thought I had it when I got home the previous day. I opened the FitBit mobile app on phone and saw that it was connecting to the One so I knew it had to be in the house. I moved around the house a bit and re-synced the app with every move so I could see if I was still close to it. If the app detected it then I was within 30 feet of it (the distance limit of it’s Bluetooth signal). After doing this a while I narrowed the search back to the bedroom where a very thorough search turned up the One wrapped in the shirt I had been wearing the day before.

Though the description above makes it sound simple the search actually took a while. And while FitBit’s own help pages states “Many users find that their trackers wind up in the dirty clothes pile…” it still too me some time to get there.

When I first discovered it was missing I had tweeted how it would be nice if there was some kind of Find My FitBit app similar to Apple’s Find My iPhone app. What I discovered after I had found it (but wish I saw it before) was that someone had replied with a link to just such an app. FitBit Finder detects the signal of any nearby FitBits and displays it’s signal strength on a graph. Instead of knowing if you’re within 30 feet using this app will tell you roughly how close you are within the 30 foot radius. I wish I had found this app before.



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