Jan 30, 2009

Court

I don't really want to talk about the court case this week. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting. Jury duty means a lot more than I ever imagined. Never in a million years did I imagine myself sitting on a murder trial. But I did. As juror #2. It was an unforgettable experience. I hope no one has to go through what we did. Parts of me are very glad that we had the jurors that were there. I can honestly and truly say that the defendant had the most caring jurors he could possible have. Each and every one of us struggled with our decisions. It was not an easy case. I've copied the newspaper story below. Parts of it are wrong. Parts have been slightly pulled in one direction or another. It was never stated that the reasoning for the gun was due to gang activity. Gang actvitiy had nothing to do with this crime. To be completely honest, while we considered things that happend in the past, the point was that this man killed someone. We had to use the facts and testimony that had been presented and apply the law to the case.

Law is hard. It's not cut and dry. We had to look at many different angles in this case. We wanted very badly to reach a verdict of second degree murder but it was not possible. Given the circumstances, the facts, the testimony of the defendant, we could not do it. The defendant made a very bad judgement call and because of that mistake, he was convicted. Every single juror wished we could turn the evidence to make it second degree, but we couldn't do it. We even asked the judge to clarify specific parts of the law but he was unable to assist us in this and stated that the law was written in simple language that we should be able to understand and interpret.

Every juror maintained an open mind. NO ONE was against the defendant and I was so proud to be part of a jury that was so open and honest. We had a diverse group and I think each of us was there for a purpose. Several jury members were emotional. While I wasn't visibly emotional during the trial, I would be lying if I said I never cried. We knew the impact of our decision. We all knew that if our verdict was first degree murder, this man would serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison. We took our role very seriously and I think that the defendant and his family should know that. (Though I doubt they'll ever read this blog!)

There are so many more things to write, especially in response to the article below. Maybe at some point but today, I don't have it. I need a break. A man, a young man, will be spending the rest of his life in prison because of a decision that was made yesterday. Knowing that I was part of that is a lot to digest.

Jury finds man guilty of murder
Friday, January 30, 2009

*Edited 22/05/09 to remove newspaper story

Jan 28, 2009

Can't chat...

... but can't wait til I can! The case got juicy this morning. And hit home in a lot of ways. I think that's all I can say without completely losing all juror integrity. Umm, my sister isn't allowed to comment on this post!!! There were three news cameras in the court room today and it was on the news (apparently) yesterday so I'd imagine if you really wanted to know what it was all about, minus details of course, check out the news.

It's 70 degrees here today and I SO wish I could go run. I have to be back in court by 2 so there's certainly no time but I'm hoping the rain will hold off til later or rain now and stop by 5 so I can get out there. It's gorgeous! The sun is trying really hard to peak through the clouds and I am not so sure it will make its way through but the temperature is great! I love today!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Jan 26, 2009

Monday, Monday


I could post Do Something Monday BUT... I'd rather complain about jury duty. This is the 5th time I've been called and I'm not even 30! C'mon! There are plenty of 50-year old people that have never been called. What gives?!

In the past jury duty has simply been: show up, check in, dismissed, wait at home, wait at home, thanks for serving, see ya.

No so much the circumstance today... all 70 of us were assigned a case. I thought I was lucky when I wasn't called for civil court. Little did I know, that didn't mean I got to wait around all day. It meant I was an automatic for criminal court. Blah.

So I'm juror #2 for a first degree murder trial. Great. Apparently it's going to be real with photos and everything. My terrific sister worked at a law firm and saw all sorts of crazy stuff in files and I liked vicariously learning about things through her. Key word there: vicariously. Not as in I want to see it. Ew. I am so NOT excited about autopsy pictures. Ick, ick, ick!
On a happier note...
D had an interview weeks ago for a federal job doing similar work that he does now (engineering related and something about acquisition, it goes over my head most of the time...). We hadn't heard anything then he found out he'd been requested and the background check had started. But then in was a looong time.




Until today! When I got home from jury duty I saw a VERY exciting email!!!


Yippee CAVEMAN!!! I really did jump up and down!!! Such a relief... still with the Air Force but with a different (read: better) group. Now he gets to work with his buddy M who was his old boss.

Oh! And Britt's puppy... I think we decided on the name Fort. Short for Fortunate. I'll have to post pictures and his story when I know more. I think she's still trying to piece it all together. His surgery was bumped to Thursday so she will probably get him on Friday. No details yet. I can't wait to see him. Poor little guy. So small and sick. I know she'll take good care of him though. And probably fall in love and add him to her already enormous and growing bunch of puppies! She has a blog too but doesn't post much: http://www.fosterdanes.blogspot.com/. Maybe I can convince her to post lots about Fort since he'll have more frequent updates. Don't hold your breath!

Hope everyone had a great Monday! Let's keep our fingers crossed for a speedy trial so I can get back to work by Friday for a class I'm teaching!

Game Night!

Saturday was game night... a previously weekly event that will now officially be monthly. We used to play dominoes every weekend but let's face it people, these are the days of Wii. Thanks Kuz for bringing the Wii! Wii/e were happy to play! haha (That's a joke for anyone who didn't see the first Wii commercial.)

It really was fun though. We did the fit test then played a ball game where you balance this ball on a platform and get it in a hole, then we skied and snowboarded, and we also played a bubble game but it was hard so we didn't play it long. Skiing was the favorite. (I think.) K wanted to play the car driving game but we decided on Balderdash so cars were tabled for next month.
Pizza, Mmm!





Nola found herself a treat...

Jan 24, 2009

Back into the swing of things



We thought last week was our "let's get back into the swing of things" week but alas, it was not. Sooo... this week WAS. Weekend rather. I talked to D last night and we both agreed we had to get serious about the state of our physical being. In other words, we're getting fat people. Nola and I just got back in from a quick one-miler. The plan was to run three miles but she knicked her paw on something and was bleeding. I could tell how bad it was but she wasn't limping so we did a quick mile and called it a day. Did I mention it was sprinkling the whole time too? So, probably not the best day to start back but I was ready to roll and took full advantage of that!My pretty girl also got her new collar in the mail today. She's so freakin cute! Well, back to baking cookies for game night.

***Oh! My sister is on the phone... she's getting a 7-week old great dane puppy next week. He's white and silver (we think) and is having two big surgeries, one of which will be to remove his eye. I'm sure I'll get some pictures soon. I can't wait to see him! Anyone have good boy dog names? (No big dog names, i.e. Rocky, Apollo, Zeus, etc...)

Jan 23, 2009

Good News!

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a situation we had with one of our friends in Rwanda. I've not talked to George yet to see what has evolved since our chat, but I have talked to others. Things are slowly but surely happening and that is GOOD!!!

Know what else is GOOD? For the past two years we've been working on raising money to rebuild Good Hope School in Kampala. The cost is only about $60,000 to rebuild the entire school! But because of other projects and day-to-day life, it's been hard to focus just on the school and really give it the attention it needs. Let's face it, we're small; and to be heard we have to cause a LOT of havoc around here. Especially since our city is filled with nonprofits and actually has a much higher number of nonprofits than our capital city when it really comes down to it. Because of that, there is a lot of competition for donors. Combine that with the fact that our organization doesn't even help its own community and it's difficult to recruit donors.

Our donors are mainly people who know me personally or who already have fallen in love with Africa. But anyway... let's fast forward a bit. A couple years ago one of our donors said her son was interested in helping Hope Aid with some projects and that's how the school project came along. The only catch is that he's pre-med so he's really busy. But we were able to do some really neat fundraisers and raised a little over $2,000. That was enough to rebuild one whole classroom!

I talked to said student, "P," earlier this week and he decided that maybe this project is too big. Uhuh... it is big. For us at least... So he asked what else we could do.... which leads me to the GOOD news!

Back in September, our Ugandan HAI directors sent us information about a clinic in need of some help. They mainly needed supplies and beds for the maternity ward. Since this fit right in with P's medical training we decided this would be a great match. We emailed the directors and now, we have a plan! I'm not exactly sure when the money will be sent, I think we still need a little more information, but it's another project that will be done and that is GOOD!!!

Linda, one of our directors, is in the middle here. (Linda, if you are reading this you are now officially famous!) The clinic is in Kabarole, which is the county of most of our projects. I'll be sure to post more once we know when things will start moving along! 'Til then, I'm rejoicing!

Jan 22, 2009

A Thousand Words Thursday


This photo was taken last year by David Rwamwaro, East Africa Director of Hope Aid International, as part of a report on past projects.
For more information about Hope Aid, click the link above. We'd love to match you with someone in need. All of our small projects are income-generating. The majority of our beneficiaries receive poultry, pigs, goats, and rabbits. Other projects have included brick making, sewing machines, garden supplies, and a cow. School fees are also a priority and are as little as $20/year. 100% of all donations are sent directly to Uganda.
Absolutely no administrative fees are withheld.

Jan 21, 2009

Works-For-Me Wednesday

I'm going to talk about my dog again. Because she's sorta like my child (for now). Ok, she is my child (for now). We had lots (lots) of snow yesterday and Nola has very sensitive skin so I have to be careful of how long she's outside. I knew she'd want to play so I dug up her booties from when she had surgery (to remove her dew claws) last year.


I'm quite sure people saw her and said, "oh that poor dog." But the girl had such a good time! She was shivering so I know she didn't mind the sweater and the booties annoy her initially but they enable her to stay out and play longer so really, they're for her benefit. And the scarf around her neck that I knit, yeah, I'll give you that, "poor dog." I couldn't help myself, her neck looked exposed without anything on it and she already had a sweater and boots so why not a scarf?! Plus, it wasn't like I went out and bought it... it was made with lots of love. (Yeah, I know, it's worse that I took time to make it. Do I sound like I care?!) ;)



So, dogs with sensitive skin, meet booties! They work for me. Her. They work for her.


For more tips, check out Shannon's blog!

Jan 20, 2009

More Snow Day!









video

All in all we got a good 6" of snow (at least!) -- a very, very rare thing for NC!

I just read the paper and there have been over 50 wrecks in the last four hours. (All county employees no doubt.) I sure hope tomorrow brings a looong delay as it's supposed to stay below freezing tonight and into the morning. Even with snow plows, salt trucks and sand dumping machines we'll need a looong delay since we really don't do snow here.

Happy Snow Day!

Snow Day!




Isn't this a creepy rib picture? It's the gutter but I swear it looks like an alien's rib cage!

Nola loved the scarf I made her, it was really cute!

I loved that her chin whiskers were covered in snow!




Don't panic, mom's head didn't fall off (although sometimes I swear it spins!)... she was bending over trying to make a snowman and when I saw the photo afterwards, well...

This is the highway when I was finally able to leave work. Safe Mr. County Manager, real safe. Thanks for thinking of us. I appreciate your concern for our safety. Thanks for watching the news and taking note when they warned us EARLY this morning that this would happen.

Oh the snowman building...


"Something beautiful girl..."


It's snowing here. I'll be writing about that later today, you can be sure of it!

My sister just called, she lives about 45 minutes west of where I live and she told me that she just saw something so beautiful.

She told a sweet story.

She was driving along the road (snow covered b/c here in NC we don't do snow so everything shuts down, cept the county and that's why I'm working til 1...) and she looked over and saw two deer on a bridge and they had snow on their backs.

That's it. End of story. I can't stop laughing. I'm sure it was very pretty and I could totally be all poetic and deep about God's beauty, but she was so excited about this "something beautiful" and this was the absolute last thing I imagined her saying.

Jan 19, 2009

LOL -- "Chewies"

Ok I can't take a picture because I'm charging my camera batteries just *in case* we have snow tomorrow... but I'm watching Jon & Kate and they're answering viewer questions tonight.

One viewer wrote and asked, "What exactly are chewies?"

We call Nola's rawhides "chewies" and she knows this word well... when she heard it on TV she immediately woke up and started looking at the screen turning her head in all directions then back at me... it was SO FUNNY!!!

Needless to say, she now has a chewy.

(And the Gosselin kids call their blankets chewies, in case you were wondering...)

Weekend in Photos

Random things we did this weekend...Snuggled...

Made homemade vegetable soup...

Painted the kitchen and dining room...

Made a sling for when I have to carry the scaredy cat...

(a blurry but better photo)

Snuggled some more...

Watched the pond freeze when it stayed below freezing for almost three days...


Made fruit and oatmeal bars but ate them while they were still gooey!
What did you do all weekend?
***Cross your fingers, we might get SNOW tomorrow!!!***
(We really want the snow!)

Jan 16, 2009

VGNO

Time for Girls Night Out! Ann posted a party game this week so.... voila:

1. What is your name: Gin
2. A 4 Letter Word: Give
3. A Boys Name: Gabe
4. A Girls Name: Greta
5. An Occupation: Anchor-person
6. A Color: Greenish blue
7. Something you wear: Gaitors
8. A Beverage: Grape juice
9. A Food: Goat's cheese
10. Something found in the bathroom: Gobs of toothpaste stuck to the sink
11. A place: Greece
12. A Reason for being late: Got stuck in traffic
13. Something you shout: Go get 'em Tiger!

(Does it bother anyone else that there are an odd number of questions?)

Happy Friday!

A Lesson on Hair

Did you know that singer Beyonce’s hair isn’t really hers at all? Apparently she had it infused. I don’t remember how I learned that. Media I’m sure. Yesterday, I was talking to my friend K at work, and she’d just gotten her hair done. It’s super cute by the way, but I digress. I forget what I asked – oh yes – about the color… but one thing lead to another and soon we were talking about whose hair was real and whose wasn’t of everyone at work. I had the brains enough to know a couple people had extensions or “fake hair” (despite the fact that it is really real hair, just not alive in the sense that we typically think…wait, isn’t hair dead? Hmm…) but some of people she listed… oh, the shock!

Last year I learned that there were grades of hair. People either have “good” hair or “bad” hair. I’m not really sure what the “grade” means. Is it A, B, C, D, F like in school? Or is it a numerical thing like grade 1 or grade 8 or 10? All I hear people say is good or bad. I do know it has something to do with the softness. Maybe when K sees this she’ll comment so we’ll know.

I should also mention that I’m talking about black people hair. I don’t really like to say African American. No one says that unless they’re white and oversensitive or afraid because they think they’re going to get beat up, robbed, or mugged and called racist if they say “black.” To be honest, if I was in Moyewood passing out condoms (I don’t think I’ve ever posted about my job…that’s another day…but you should know Moyewood has always been the “rougher” neighborhood in town) and I said something to someone referencing “African American” I probably would get my butt kicked. Just say black, people. Do I like being called Caucasian? Not really. Call me white. Ooh this just reminded me of a story with my friend I who is from Rwanda. When she got her US citizenship I asked how she’d list her race because technically she wasn’t “African America” as most people. She said, “just call me black.”

Anyway…back to the hair. I was watching 10 Years Younger on TLC not too long ago and a black lady was featured. She was really pretty, middle aged, and I started watching about the time they were doing her hair. It was really short so I was curious to see what they’d do. One guy came in and braided it all in a spiral circle really tight on her head then another guy used a needle and thread and sewed some hair to the braids. I felt like I’d just seen how the magic trick was done. THIS is how it’s done? Who knew?

So back to yesterday… K came in and when I commented on the new ‘do I immediately asked if it was sewn to her hair. No. It wasn’t. Huh? Then how does it stay on? “It’s glued.” “How?” She then proceeded to show me. I saw it and acted like I understood but I still sorta don’t get it. I kinda do but not really.

Sorry if you thought Beyonce had good hair.
"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."
-Anonymous
You don't change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by changing yourself.
-Gerry Straub