Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Yea, this is my shocked face...

I thought I would look into a story that was tearing apart the lives of two families and threatening to take a New Orleans neighborhood with it.  A 13 year old boy, likely on his way home from choir practice, accidentally ends up in a backyard, despite the locked gates, at 2 AM.  He innocently starts opening the shutters on the windows of the home and looking inside.  The homeowner, finding this a disturbing turn of events, proceeds outside to investigate and has armed himself in case of trouble.  One minute later the teenager is suffering from a head wound.  Many were up in arms over the shooting of this unarmed boy.

9 months later and we have a different story.  The grand jury was divided and did not vote to indict.  The prosecutor reviewed the case and chose not to prosecute.  Why?  Well, it seems that since his tragic injury, he has recovered enough to commit burglary, attempted burglary, and has now been charged in a previous burglary and assault that involved the theft of a firearm.  He was not charged in the last one at the time due to his injuries and being in a coma.  The DA's office was in fact surprised that the teen was out and about based on the description of his condition given by the family.

Unfortunately, I am sure that the various statistics will list this as both a gun violence incident and a child shooting incident, but still lack a column for justified self defense.  No word yet on how this will affect the teenager's choir practice...

Monday, June 2, 2014

A magical experience...

My family was recently given free tickets and transportation for a whale watching excursion out of the lovely city of Monterrey.  My wife has wanted to do this for years.  We were a little concerned about her service dog and how he would react to the boat.  We got a life preserver for him (very sleek and form fitting, much like his raincoat) and hoped for the best.  On the day of the event we got up early, had a light breakfast and were almost ready when our ride arrived.  So running just a little late, and with a full travel mug of coffee for the trip in my coat pocket, we set off.

The trip down was uneventful, although using the navigation on our driver's iPhone with a shattered screen was entertaining.  It may seem to be a dying breed, but my Blackberry screen had no such issues and I felt was much easier to navigate.  Once we arrived we walked down the pier, taking in the morning bustle of delivery trucks dropping off the morning bread and other supplies to the various restaurants.  The morning catch was coming in to the adjacent pier.  There are two different whale watching business at the end of the pier, one that is entirely commercial (and has a very big boat) and one that is owned by a naturalist (and has smaller re-purposed boats).  We went to the latter, got our tickets and waited to board.  We were happy to see the crowd for our company was evenly split between the two boats and neither was crowded.  The other company's boat was packed.

Soon we were off.  It was a magical trip.  Just off the pier we saw otters.  Then some sea loins relaxing in the harbor and on the harbor breakwater.  On the way out we encountered a group of Risso's Dolphins, quite lovely.  After that it was out to the deeper water, where there we whales breaching, surfacing to breath and create lovely spray with their blow holes and give the occasional tail slap.  One hung out just 30 yards from our boat, giving everyone a great opportunity to take pictures and savor the experience.  After a few hours, we headed back in, seeing different whales and some sea lions before reaching the harbor.  All in all, quite the magical experience.

Well, unless you were affected negatively by the rolling sea in the bay.  In that case, you spent the first half hour feeling ok.  After the slow exit from the harbor and the short trip out of the relatively calm area around the harbor, you will start to feel a little...  unsettled...  You will concentrate on the horizon and the landmass behind the boat, until the captain stops to show some wildlife and slowly circles the boat in place, throwing the up and down motion of the water you were coping with into a side to side motion, as well as a mix of the two.  After that, you will spend roughly three hours hanging on the back rail of the boat, revisiting your breakfast and wondering how you could carry on so long when you had a small breakfast.  We were instructed at the dock that if you felt sick, please use the back of the boat, which was done by the unfortunate soul affected.  However, that meant that you were also in the area of the exhaust stacks, which high as they were still threw a goodly amount of fumes into the rear area of the boat.  Additionally, if you did not have the distance required, instead of just feeding the fish you also decorated the back end of the boat.  Small respites taken at a bench due to the exhaustion in the arms and legs are interrupted by a need to once again debate the possibility that at some point your stomach will come out on the next heave and all of this unpleasantness will end.  Most people on the boat have wandered into the galley area or to the front of the boat, giving him time to ponder his decision to make this trip and to have breakfast before it.  So after three hours of misery, the boat pulls back into the harbor and he collapses, exhausted and a mess.  That miserable passenger was me, and I have to apologize to everyone else now, because I was not capable of doing so at the time.  The service dog seemed to do ok.

My wife and daughter tell me that it was a wonderful and magical trip that they would love to do again.  I told them to fuck off and have a nice time.