My late Dad had eleven siblings. Yeah, a very big family.
I received word today that the last of them died on Monday. It's the end of a generation. The end of an era.
I'll be AWOL for a few days, but please check back later.
After Words - 5/22/05; 4:45 pm CDT -
It's almost a joke, and it's unfortunate that someone has to die to bring it all about. But funerals for my late Father's side of the family become a sort of family reunion where relatives who haven't seen each other in years can come together.
My Aunt Lois Johns Fowler was born in 1913, the youngest of 12 children. And with that many children the whole spectrum of personalties was on display. I never knew the older ones, but there was an amazingly very wide range of occupations and outcomes for that group.
Aunt Lois was born on a farm near Round Rock, Texas, and moved to Odessa, Texas, in 1947. Her obituary can be found in the May 18, 2005, edition of the OA Online.
But you would probably prefer to just read the article at Aftenposten rather than look at the pictures.
Get out the vote!
[Via A Welsh View.]
Dennis Miller says "Buh Bye." CNBC is canceling Dennis Miller's talk show, and upon hearing about it Miller decided that should be sooner rather than later. The May 13, 2005, was supposed to have been his last. CNBC will replace the show with reruns of "Mad Money with Jim Cramer."
Where would PBS be without liberals? Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) board chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson is trying to inject some conservative programming, such as "Journal Editorial Report," into PBS' schedule to counter balance liberal programs such as "Now with Bill Moyers." Representatives David Obey, D-Wis, and John Dingell, D-Mich, have called on the CPB's Inspector General to look into Tomlinson's actions. It's a touchy situation. Tomlinson said, "Public broadcasting is a very fragile institution. If I cause liberals to lose support for public broadcasting, I will have done the system harm."
"SpongeBob SquarePants" slammed "WWE Raw" in ratings last week.
Dave Chappelle checks self into mental health facility in South Africa. Where did you think? Vienna?
[The most recent update is at the end of this post.]
They say that good fences make good neighbors. If only Theodore L. Jurgensen had a good fence on March 19, 2005, he wouldn't be in the trouble he's in.
He's on trial today in the 238th Judicial District Court in Midland, Texas, for aggravated assault against a peace officer, and this case has a very intriguing fact situation.
Yesterday, in the posted titled Jury Duty, I described the jury selection process for State v. Jurgensen in which I was a member of the original jury panel but was struck by one side or the other. The trial started yesterday afternoon, and as soon as I got free today I scurried to the 238th court room to see what was going on in the Jurgensen trial. Unfortunately, the complaining witness, Constable Charles "Choc" Harris, along with his mother and fiance had already testified. But, I was able to see Mr. Jurgensen's testimony.
According to Mr. Jurgensen, Constable "Choc" Harris moved onto the rural property next door with two unruly dogs; a large grey one and a pit bull. The large grey dog bit Mr. Jurgensen, and both dogs growled and barked at him when he got near the fence. On the day in question he was disposing of some tumble weeds, and he had to get down on the ground to place a cement block against a gate to prop it open. And the dogs barked, snarled and snapped at him, and even though they were on the other side of the chain link fence, he was afraid that they might climb over the fence as he had seen them do before. So he applied some pepper spray to their yapping faces.
Not long after that, Mr. Harris came forward and said, "did you spray my dog?" Mr. Jurgensen replied, "I sprayed TWO of your dogs." Mr. Harris responded by jumping over the fence and grabbing Mr. Jurgensen with both hands by the shirt near the neck and said, "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST!"
Jurgensen is a thin, wiry guy of 67 years of age. He looked to be around 5' 10'' in height, and he testified that he weighs 147 pounds. I'm guessing that Mr. Harris' weight exceeds 250 pounds, so there was a definite weight class mismatch.
Mr. Jurgensen testified that as Mr. Harris was holding onto his shirt Mr. Jurgensen did a quick flip of his arms that broke Mr. Harris' hold. Then Mr. Jurgensen performed what he described as a "left front snap kick" to Mr. Harris' crotch. Mr. Jurgensen pulled his handgun, a Smith & Wesson .357 semi-automatic, and ordered Mr. Harris to his knees. Mr. Harris pleaded with him to take his finger off of the trigger, and Mr. Jurgensen elevated the muzzle so that it didn't point directly at Mr. Harris.
Mr. Harris wanted to use Mr. Jurgensen's cell phone, and Mr. Jurgensen declined but said "who would you like me to call." Then he told Mr. Harris "you're disgusting. Go home." And that ended the confrontation, at least for the moment.
Enter law enforcement. Constable Harris called the sheriff's office who sent a deputy out to interview both parties. The deputy talked to both of them then filed his report. Back at the office, a decision was made to arrest Mr. Jurgensen. (There doesn't appear to have been any discussion of charging Mr. Harris for trespassing.) And on the following Monday, two sheriff's deputies and a five member swat team located Mr. Jurgensen in town, and they arrested him, swat style.
They found the handgun and a knife in the car. By the way, Mr. Jurgensen has a concealed handgun license.
The handgun was chambered with Speer hollow point bullets, and the prosecutor spent several minutes questioning one of the arresting officers as well as Mr. Jurgensen on that subject. A hollow point bullet expands when it strikes an object, and the result is a larger wound if it hits flesh plus a reduced likelihood that it would go completely through anything it hit, a wall, for example. There wasn't any testimony of what kind of bullets were in the gun on the date of the incident at the fence.
After the Judge read the jury instructions, the closing summations by the prosecution, Steve Stallings, and the defense, David Rogers, were brief retellings of the facts of the case, so for me it was a good chance to get some of the blanks filled in.
But there was one thing that struck me, and that was the way the prosecutor, Steve Stallings, handled one of the prosecution exhibits, Mr. Jurgensen's Smith & Wesson .357 semi-automatic handgun. The handgun had a cable lock on it, and it was probably inoperable. But, one of the rules of handgun safety is to treat every gun as if it were loaded. Call me a gun safety nut, but to see Mr. Stallings waving it around with abandon, inadvertently pointing it at the jury and just about everyone else, including me, I couldn't help but think that was awfully curious behavior. I couldn't take my eyes off it, and it was terribly distracting -- I didn't even hear what he was saying. If he wanted the jury to regard the handgun as the thing, the one thing, that turned this neighbors' squabble into a serious felony then I would think he would want to treat that gun as he would a live rattlesnake instead of waving it around as a harmless object. But, that's just me, and I was kicked off the jury in the first place, so it doesn't matter.
Judge John Hyde kept the case moving at a pretty good pace, and while there were some delays, the jury was sent to deliberation in slightly over 24 hours after the trial began. So as of the time of this writing the jury is either still deliberating or has retired for the day. I hope to receive a phone call from the court when the jury returns with the verdict, so watch for an update.
UPDATE, Today, 6:30 pm CDT: The jury had been given a choice of four charges, if they found him guilty. The most severe, aggravated assault on a peace officer, carried a penalty of probation to 99 years in prison. The weakest of the four charges was "deadly conduct." The jury came back around 5:00 pm with a verdict of GUILTY of "deadly conduct." The penalty phase of the trial will begin at 9:00 am tomorrow.
UPDATE, 5/11/05, 1:15 pm CDT: The punishment phase of the trial took place this morning, and the jury came back a little before noon with a verdict for a punishment for the class A misdemeanor of confinement in jail for one year with a fine of $4,000 but with the jail time suspended in favor of two years of community supervision (probation). Judge Hyde accepted the jury's verdict and added 30 days jail time without credit for time already served. The formal sentencing will take place Friday.
UPDATE, 5/13/05, 5:30 pm CDT: Today around noon Judge Hyde conducted the formal sentencing hearing. The sentence of one year of confinement was suspended, and Mr. Jurgensen was sentenced to two years of community supervision (probation) pursuant to Article 42.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure plus 30 days in jail which began on May 11, 2005. During the two year probationary period he may not possess or maintain firearms, he must attend anger management classes, and he cannot have alcohol or controlled substances. He was ordered to perform the maximum number of hours of community service provided by the said Article 42.12. And he can have no contact with Charles Harris or Mr. Harris' mother or fiance. Finally, he was instructed that as a further condition he must obey the family court in which he and his wife are getting a divorce.
UPDATE, 5/13/05, 5:39 pm CDT: Welcome readers from Jessica's Well where Shepherd makes the excellent point that we have so little choice about who our neighbors are.
I had to report for jury duty this morning, and I'm relieved to report that I got struck.
There were 146 Midlanders packed in a court room responding to a jury summons. The judge informed us, perhaps to minimize our own situation, that in Harris County there would be 1,000 potential jurors gathered at a time to endure the jury selection process. What he didn't tell us was that in Houston the level of civil disobedience regarding jury duty is somewhat higher than here, and sometimes there aren't enough potential jurors to conduct all of the scheduled trials.
The panel I was on was for the trial of a local man who was involved in a dust-up between two neighbors about an aggressive dog and a loud party. It was basically a neighborhood squabble between two hot headed, strong willed tough guys. Words were exchanged, dogs were unleashed, and guns were drawn.
Here's the problem. One of those neighbors was a constable who had the full force and power of the state of Texas backing him up. And the other guy, a Mr. Jurgensen, ended up on trial for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a law enforcement officer. That is a felony, we were told, with a penalty ranging from probation to 99 years in prison. There was an article about it in the local paper, but I can't locate it online. Sorry for the lack of a link. [see update below]
The prosecutor is Steve Stallings, and David Rogers represents the defendant. Each side gets ten preemptory strikes, and I suspect that I was struck from the panel by the defense for the reason that I had served on a criminal jury in the past. I wasn't the only panelist with that in our histories, and both the prosecutor and the defense no doubt wanted to know which side prevailed in those old trials. The prosecutor was very sly. He didn't ask "who won." What he asked was this: "who set the penalty, the judge or the jury?" Very clever, huh?
In that long ago criminal trial in which I was a juror we found the defendant guilty, and the jury assessed the penalty. But we didn't give the defendant as much prison time as the prosecution wanted, and when it was over the prosecution team was the side that was visibly disappointed. So knowing who won doesn't provide the full picture.
As for the present case, it seems a shame that it ended up in criminal court. Hopefully, both sides are satisfied with the jury they ended up with.
And me? I've got to go back tomorrow and go through the whole process again.
Updated 5/10/05, 6:28 am CDT: The spelling of Mr. Jurgensen's name has been corrected in the text, above. Today's Midland Reporter-Telegram has an article about the jury selection which can be seen at this link:
Man goes on trial for allegedly threatening to kill constable
Midland Reporter Telegram
From Staff Reports
Jury selection began Monday afternoon in the 238th District Court trial of a man who allegedly threatened his neighbor, a Midland County constable, with a pistol March 18.
Facing a possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison for aggravated assault on a peace officer, Theodore L. Jurgensen, 67, has been incarcerated in Midland County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.
Precinct 2 Constable Charles "Choc" Harris told sheriff's officers Jurgensen sprayed his dogs with pepper spray, then pulled a pistol and threatened to kill him when Harris went two doors down to Jurgensen's residence to inquire about the incident in the 1300 block of South County Road 1130.
Sgts. Ray Meek and Mike Reed took Jurgensen into custody.
"We were just enjoying the day and charcoaling some hot dogs in the backyard," Harris said. "I went over there and tried to talk to him to ask what happened. He became very belligerent, and the next thing I know he kicks at me and pulls a gun on me."
Harris said he negotiated with Jurgensen to avoid being shot and then returned home to call officers.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Stallings concluded his examination of 55 prospective jurors by asking each one which of four priorities is most important in adjudicating criminal matters -- protecting society, punishing the guilty, rehabilitating the convicted or providing a deterrent to other criminals.
Thirty-eight said protecting society is most important while 10 listed punishment, seven rehabilitation and none deterrence.
Jurgensen is represented by Midland attorney David Rogers. Judge John Hyde is presiding.
As I crawled out of the dumpster this morning I noticed a new layer of trash had been deposited: discarded mother's day cards.
There were a couple that looked interesting. As we all know, David Letterman has a new son named Harry. And here's one Harry must have given to his mom:
Happy Mother's day Mom! You're the greatest. But, who the hell are you?
Remember O. J. Simpson's children? This one was apparently meant for Nicole.
We miss you Mom. Justice will be served once daddy catches the real killers. (Or confesses, whichever comes first.)
Oh, here's one more. The lady who chopped off her daughter's arms last year got a card from her child. (Hey, it could happen.):
Hi Mom! I'd give you a big hug, but, you know...
And thanks for the gag birthday gift! GLOVES! What a riot!
There were more, but I'm off to the court house to report for jury duty this morning. Have a good Monday.
CGA is an affliction which probably has a devastating effect on our nation's productivity. And there appears to be no relief in sight for the millions of people who suffer from it. I'm talking about Computer Game Addiction. It can literally sap your time, attention and energy and leave you feeling defeated, that is unless you spend even more time, attention and energy mastering the game.
That being said, if you suffer from CGA then you'll want to avoid the flash game De-Animator. It's based on H. P. Lovecraft short stories, and it requires the player to save himself by shooting approaching zombies with a six shot revolver.
Should you decide to venture into this land of the walking dead then it might be helpful to know that the zombies can be dispatched with just one shot while they are in the process of rising from the ground. But once they are on their feet -- and some of them walk in from off screen -- then it takes multiple shots per zombie, and they get more resilient as the game progresses. When the shotgun becomes available it can make quick work out of them, but our poor hero is so painfully show and methodical in reloading that the shotgun has very limited use.
Hints: There are three types of zombies, and each has his/her own characteristics. The big bearded brutes are the hardest to stop, and I've got no hints for them. Once the easy stages have passed then these hints might be useful for the other two types. The skinny ones with the tall forehead can be dispatched with two pistol shots: the first one to the head and the second one to the chest area. The skinny ones that appear to be wearing a cap can be dispatched with two shots to the shoulder. My best score = 226.
You've probably heard about this one already. This Saturday the Time Traveler Convention will take place at 42:21:36.025°N, 71:05:16.332°W. (That's supposed to be at MIT.)
They say there will only have to be one of these conventions since time travelers can keep attending the same one. But we don't yet have time travel, so the only time traveling attendees would have to be from the future.
I should probably consult an expert on this, but I thought Einstein's theory held that time travelers could only travel forward in time and not backward. The theory says that the faster you travel the slower time moves. Perhaps that explains why jogging is so time consuming.
But who knows what the future holds?
Via Screenhead, who claims to have time traveled to this event already and says this: "You twats who showed up and condescendingly oohed and ahed over our "very powerful" laptop computers could give it a miss this time, no one thought that was funny."
Updated 05/08/05, 3:46 pm CDT: The Convention Website says this: "The convention was a success! Unfortunately, we had no confirmed time travelers visit us. We did, however, have a great series of lectures, awesome bands, and even a DeLorean. We regret having had to turn away visitors, but there were capacity restrictions governing Morss Hall."
Someone left a comment deep in the archives that said this:
This is gay!!!! What kind of a site is this????? U need games and music!!
Gee. I thought this was a hetero site, but I had better check. Turns out it's 20% gay. I checked out a few other blogs to see where they stood, and the results were even more interesting (tee hee). Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Check out your favorite website at How Gay is Your Website?
Cedric the Entertainer at the Correspondents' Association dinner last night:
There's a lot of stuff going on in the world. I know the President's got a hard job, brother, you know. You know, got to deal with Social Security and Iraq and all that, and you know, and it's always in the news, and you gotta deal with the news.
But you know what, that's all okay and fine and everything, but I just wanna talk about that lady that, you know, pretended to kidnap herself so she didn't have to get married. That's an issue, that's something , you know. That ain't [unintelligible]. "I've been abducted!" No, honey, All that stuff gotta go back to the Pottery Barn, that's what I'm mad about." [Video at The Political Teen.]
I didn't predict it, but it really shouldn't come as too great a surprise that someone would fake an abduction like that -- the 15 minutes of fame and all of that. She was the star in her own reality show. But you just gotta sympathize with poor John Mason. One day he's a murder suspect. The next day he's upgraded to jilted fiance.
But if they do get married, life with Jennifer Wilbanks will certainly not be boring. Every time they get in a spat, it's off to Vegas she goes. But now, she's the girl who cried "WOLF!" And it would be a long time before anyone got too exited if she really did get kidnaped.
But wait a minute. Wasn't there a reward offered? Yup, $100,000 to be exact. "On Friday, a spokesman for her family announced a $100,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance." Well, if she gets convicted then technically she could claim it herself, but then the family really would tell her to get lost.