Holiday Music. Wait Which Holiday?

This will be my last post of 2010. 

I am going to take a break from blogging to do what dad's do this time of year: eat cookies, watch football, construct children's toys and playsets from instructions written in a foreign language, use an entire roll of gift wrap trying to wrap the Mrs.' presents and the final products looking awful, etc.

I'll be back in early January. 

In the meantime, I offer this...
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Setting: A Hallmark gift store at the local shopping mall. 

The family is browsing the Christmas decorations, while our special little guy "Luca" is interested in a holiday display on the wall.

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SLAMDUNK: What are you doing Luca?

LUCA: I listening to "Halloween Course".

I looked at the musical Christmas ornament in front of our energetic boy and saw that it was a tribute to Clark Griswold plugging in his outdoor holiday lights--a scene depicted in the comedic film Christmas Vacation.



SLAMDUNK: Hmm.

Curious, I pushed the tiny button on the ornament and was provided with music.  Yes, the "Halloween Course" or better known as the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

SLAMDUNK: Oh yeah Luca, I like that "Halloween Course" as well.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Debbie Flores-Narvaez

I had just a couple things on the missing person case of Debbie Flores-Narvaez. 


Case Summary

Ms. Flores-Narvaez is a showgirl in Las Vegas who reportedly was last seen on December 12.  On the night she vanished, her roommate (who filed the initial report) stated that Flores-Narvaez was going to visit her ex-boyfriend Jason Omar "Blu" Griffith at his residence.

Reportedly, Griffith confirmed that he spoke with the missing woman that evening, but has not seen her since. The victim's vehicle was found abandoned in a parking lot in the northern part of Las Vegas.

Flores-Narvaez's mother said that she received an odd message from her daughter on December 1 stating: "In case there is ever an emergency with me, contact Blu Griffith in Vegas. My ex-boyfriend. Not my best friend."* 

*Note: The mother was confused as to the meaning of the message--it is unclear.

Also, Las Vegas Metro Police arrested Blu Griffith in October of 2010 and charged him with battery/domestic violence of the missing woman and coercion (for allegedly throwing the victim's cell phone so that she could not contact authorities).

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Comment #1: Look at the Police Report

Skip the summarized news accounts of the domestic violence incident between the couple and read the arresting officer's report, it reveals an unappealing picture of Griffith.  The report details include the large clump of the victim's hair recovered by police and him allegedly kicking her that caused visible bruising--this occurred while Flores-Narvaez was pregnant.  

Comment #2: Look at Griffith's Twitter

Griffith had not posted anything to this Twitter account since last year, but it is still revealing.

On July 8, 2009, he tweeted this:

"Just took a large gulp of that I don't give a (--expletive--) juice. You should fear a man who is willing to give anything to get everything. (Truth)"

Six of his next seven posts over 10 days focus on his frustration with women and relationships.

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Police will continue to investigate Griffith's potential involvement and other possibilities that could explain the missing woman's disappearance.

My prayers are with Ms. Flores-Narvaez and her family.

For a $100

I actually got two laughs from the following--first simply at face value, and second in that it reminds me of the many grown men I see intent on trying to relive their past "sports glories" or in most cases compensating for their lack of sports glories...

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"This is from a football Saturday at Notre Dame. We were walking by this group of kids playing football. My friend told them he would give them $100 if they kicked the ball off to him and he didn't run it back for a touchdown. He ran past most of the kids fairly easily, but 'had' to stiff arm the last kid."

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Yes "Big Boy," congrats on the touchdown and keeping the $100, but I hope these kids find you again in 15 years for revenge when they are over 21 years old and built like professional wrestlers. 

Joseph the Mugger

Since I posted two missing persons stories last week, I don't have one for my usual Missing Person Monday segment today.

Instead, I offer this.
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Police are more apt to catch a certain type of criminal.

Which type?

Well, stupid, of course...

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Manchester police said they arrested a man after a 91-year-old woman was mugged outside a church, and the incident was caught on surveillance video.

Officers said the woman her companion, Patricia Turcotte, 67, were heading to afternoon Mass at St. Hedwig's Catholic Church on Walnut Street on Tuesday afternoon when a young man approached them.

"I didn't have time to be scared. I didn't know what was going in," Turcotte said. "Someone was running by, she is falling and I am falling with her. She said, 'They got my pocketbook.'"

A security guard at the Currier Museum across the street observed as a truck pulled into his driveway and a man got out. He focused the museum's security camera on the man as he crossed the street and grabbed a purse from the victim, who was on her way to a 4 p.m. church service.

The victim, who did not want to be identified, fell to the ground, and the man took off running down the street, police said. 

The suspect returned to his parked truck at the museum three hours later, where police were waiting for him. They arrested Joseph Audet Jr., of Manchester...

The security video of the incident is below...



The 91-year-old victim reportedly broke her wrist during the strong-arm robbery.

And the suspect?

Nice of him to return to the scene of the crime to try to retrieve his truck, and offer the highly creative alibi to police that he had been out jogging for the past few hours--only he had forgotten which streets the strenuous exercise had occurred.

Authorities have linked another robbery involving an elderly woman to Audet Jr., and are investigating his possible participation in other similar crimes.

I was not surprised to learn that the defendant dropped-out of school in 10th grade, lives with his parents, and has a previous arrest history.

Yes, being stupid significantly increases a criminal's chances of being apprehended.

On David Emigh, Missing

Sorry for the second post today, but I wanted to talk briefly about this case.
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Authorities are searching for David Emigh, a missing pastor from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, after he failed to show up for his church's Wednesday night worship service.



Reportedly, the last person to see him was his wife Sharon Emigh (also a pastor at the church).

Ms. Emigh stated that at about 11 am on the Wednesday of his disappearance, her husband told her that he was returning home to retrieve a book.  He left the church in his black 2008 Ford pickup (OK tag number E56304), but did not return.

The latest report on the disappearance is here at one of the local news station.

Within a few minutes of this story going national, the perceptive crime enthusiasts at the site WebSleuths had made two observations:
1) A Lake: Looking at a probable driving route from work to home, he would pass by Sand Springs Lake

2) A Phone: The missing man used an IPhone to post to his Twitter account.  Though David appears to tweet infrequently (his last post was on Dec. 8), it is important to note that he used a mobile device which could be helpful in locating him, if he was in possession of that phone.
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Nicely done by the Internet folks.

If David has his phone, I hope that authorities go through the necessary protocols to immediately begin pinging it. 

The dire need to ping now rather than later was recently exemplified by this story of Tanya Rider, a missing woman from Washington state, who was rescued after being pinned in her car for 8 days.   Evidently, Ms. Rider had driven off the road and crashed in an area obscured by trees.  She was taken to the hospital in critical condition after her ordeal (revised 12/18/2010).*

With Mr. Emigh's case, my prayers are with the missing man and his family.

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*Note: Thanks to JJ from Phila for sending me the link to Ms. Rider's story, and for reader Sue who pointed out that Ms. Rider has recovered since the story is from a few years back.

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UPDATE: Authorities report that contact was made with Mr. Emigh on 12/17/2010 after his vehicle was spotted at a Wal-Mart in Cleveland, OK.  A police spokesman stated that Emigh was safe, but has "a medical issue that will be dealt with privately."

Bad Underwear

In an effort to diversify my post topics, today I delve into a recent fashion study released by ShopSmart Magazine:

...Women own an average of 21 pairs of underwear, and many say an ill-fitting or ugly pair can ruin their day, a new survey shows.

"We know that bad hair days can affect women's moods, but who knew that bad underwear days could also ruin their day," says Lisa Lee Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports.
Their research center conducted a telephone survey of 1,008 women 18 and older about intimate apparel.


Almost half of women (47%) say they feel sexier and more confident wearing a nice or special pair of panties. "The first thing we put on in the morning does make a difference in our day," Freeman says...

27% say their mood is affected by wearing an ill-fitting or unattractive pair of undies...

So uncomfortable undergarments can affect a person's mood?

Wow.  Who knew?

With that kind of thought-provoking question, the study's authors should have applied for federal government funding like officials in Blue Springs, MO did a few years ago to study the "local goth culture"--they were awarded $273,000 for that "essential" research.

Am I really blogging about bad underwear?  Can you tell it is a Friday?

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Have a great weekend everyone.

Tiffany Hartley

Recently, an emailer asked me for my opinion on the David Hartley case.

In October 2010, David's wife, Tiffany Hartley, stated that they were jet skiing on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake when the pair were attacked by armed men in boats.  Ms. Hartley said that her husband was fatally shot in the head, and she escaped to the US side of the lake.  No sign of Mr. Hartley has been found.


The report started a firestorm of political stories--since it dealt with the hot-button issue of the unsecured border between America and Mexico. 

I have not read enough to form an opinion yet, but investigative blogger Peter Hyatt posted detailed arguments as to why he is suspicious of Ms. Hartley's statements on the disappearance of her husband.

The obvious question is: why the heck would people who were informed about the dangers of that area go jet skiing there? 

Character on Display

After my son's first basketball scrimmage with another local squad, a young man from the opposing team approached him.

Addressing my son by him name, the kid stated:

"Great game. I have seen you play before, and you put on a clinic today--offense, defense, and ball-handling."

My son thanked him for the compliments, they exchanged pleasantries, and then both went their separate ways.

Prior to that brief chat, my son told me that he had seen the nice opposing player at school, but did not know his name since they are in different grades. He said that they had never talked before.

I had seen the "nice kid" before on several occasions. I remember that he is usually the last person to be picked up very late in the day from the school's after care program.

Often, he has the longest school day of any of the students—still garbed in his blue uniform after the sun has set when many of the other third graders are at home in their second hour of X-Box.

I also know that "nice kid" is adopted and happens to be of a different race from anyone else in the school.

Despite all of the challenges, this 8 or 9 year-old initiates conversation and offers compliments and encouragement to someone he does not even know.

They say that children reflect the character of their parents.

I was impressed.

Nicely done mom and dad.

Kari Swenson: Survivor, Part V

For a summary on Kari Swenson's ordeal go here, or for other posts in the series, you can go here.
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PART V: CONCLUSION

Why discuss such an old case?

Here are three observations as to why missing person/crime victim Kari Swenson's ordeal is relevant: 

1. Kari Exemplifies the Traits of a Survivor

Just because I am shot, does not mean I am going to die:  "If you get shot you die" is the biggest victimization fallacy created by television and movies. In reality, if you are shot, you are probably not going to die. You are more likely to die if you stop thinking and concede defeat.

Refuse to Quit: Kari was wounded and left to die in the wilderness. She crawled, pushed and pulled herself while looking for one of the rescuers' radios. She found a blanket that helped her body fight the onset of shock. Over four hours later, when authorities found the camp, she was still conscience and able to weakly call for help. She never gave up.

Be Creative: Kari made numerous attempts to help anyone tracking the kidnappers including dropping personal items, feigning exhaustion, and stomping her cleats to leave identifiable footprints.

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2. On “Mountain Men”

As seemingly ludicrous as "mountain men" being responsible for an abduction seems, it did happen in this instance. Don and Dan Nichols, Kari's kidnappers, did not have the felonious criminal history that would have indicated that such a crime was in their plans.

Knowing history and then applying it to other abductions, hearing folks discuss "mountain men" as potential suspects in a case like the disappearance of then six-year-old Morgan Nick from Arkansas, does not seem as far-fetched.

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3. School Shootings and Missing Persons

Former Sheriff Johnny France described a contentious meeting with Kari's family while authorities were still searching for the Nichols. France recalls being verbally blasted by Kari's father (Dr. Bob Swenson)—the victim’s family was angry that law enforcement had not initiated the ground search for Kari until the morning after she had been reported missing.

France explained that an evening search would have been dangerous for his personnel--especially since they used lots of volunteer searchers, but the family did not accept France's argument.

According to France, Kari’s family wanted nothing to do with the sheriff, and during the criminal trials never thanked him for his work in the case.*

The exchange reminded me of reading a law enforcement training text in the 1990s.

The author posed this question concerning a school shooting (from a responding officer’s perspective):

You and several officers arrive at a school and hear shots and screaming inside, what do you do?

The authors advised not to rush into the building but to wait and attempt to establish communications and gather additional intelligence. Then, an informed decision could be made as to what specialized units (SWAT, hostage negotiators, etc.) should be called so that entry could safely be made.

The authors argued that running into a school building could result in officers being shot—which further complicates the situation.

In sum, the authors recommended caution.

This is quite different from what the public demands from police in contemporary school shootings--entry is made into the school as soon as possible to try to save lives and prevent violence. Officers don’t wait for SWAT.

A similar transition was made in responding to missing persons.

Historically, police required citizens to wait a specific amount of time (e.g. 48 hours) before a missing persons report could even be filed. In most circumstances, investigations did not start until well after this mandated time.

Now it is more common to see authorities initiate investigations in the early stages of someone disappearing.

Would Sheriff France have started the ground search on the evening of Kari’s disappearance if the incident occurred today?

After authorities knew she went running on a path in the early afternoon, and found her car parked next to the trailhead, would authorities have pursued the missing persons case more aggressively, because that is what society now demands of law enforcement?

Certainly, the pressure to search immediately for a missing runner would be much greater in 2010 versus 1985—where, as with the response to school shootings, caution now takes a backseat to action.

I think it is a change for the better.

*Note: It is my understanding that the family’s anger was directed at France, and not other law enforcement involved. I will be reading the family’s perspective in a different book to get a better understanding as to their complaints about Sheriff France.

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Previous posts in this series can be found here.

Tis the Season

Citizens must be extra vigilant in reporting possible crimes to ensure safe communities.

Ok... uh, maybe not this vigilant:
November 14, 2010


HUDSON (OH) -- A Sullivan Road resident called police to report a "suspicious package" on his front porch Nov. 2 at 3:20 p.m.


The resident said he observed an unknown person leave the package and called police, according to the police report.


The officer said he could see the package was clearly labeled with the Amazon.com logo and asked the man if he had ordered anything from the firm recently.


The man reportedly said "Why yes, I did."


The officer told the resident his order had arrived. The resident then said he was comfortable opening the box. The officer then left the scene, according to the report.


I wish all calls to police ended in such a warm, happy, and humorous way.

Note: I got the idea for the above post from this site.

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Have a good weekend everyone.

The Spirit of Lassie in Austin

Lassie fans would be proud of this dog:

(AUSTIN, TX)...Paul Horton, 57, wound up at St. David's Rehabilitation Hospital after he failed to negotiate a seemingly little jump from the trail to a paved road near Lake Travis.


"I had probably done that 100 times, 200 times," said Horton.


But on the morning of Oct. 30, he did not.


"I went over the handle bars and landed on my head on the concrete ... and life changed," said Horton.


Life changed because he was now paralyzed from the chest down. Horton lay motionless for 45 minutes. With no one in sight, he realized his 4-year-old golden retriever was still by his side.


"I expected him to behave like Lassie and run down to the police station and tap out my location in Morse code or something," said Horton.


Yogi did not do that, but did something just about as impressive. Horton's neighbor, Bruce Tate, recalls walking down Mountain Trail with his wife when they were met by Yogi.


"Yogi is a quiet, happy dog, he's never noisy at all, but he was barking furiously to get our attention," said Tate.


The Tates followed Yogi throughout the wooded area and down the hill. When they saw Horton, they called 911. To this day, the Tates wonder what would have happened if Yogi had not interrupted their walk.


"I don't think we would have seen Paul without Yogi," he said. "I think Yogi saved his life."

Yea for Yogi!

I'd like to think that our big dog would help save me if anything happened on our nightly strolls. In reality, I think the pooch would leave me to suffer at the first sight/smell of a pizza delivery guy or an attractive female canine.

I'll be sure to bring my cell phone just in case.

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For more on Yogi that includes video footage, you can go here.

On the death of Tina Smith

Just wanted to mention this on an Amber Alert in Virginia.


Brittany Mae Smith (Photo Credit)

Authorities in Roanoke County, Virginia issued an Amber Alert for 12-year-old Britanny Mae Smith after her mother, Tina Smith also known by Tina Dyer-Smith, was found dead in their home.

Law enforcement were called to Ms. Dyer-Smith's residence after she did not show-up for work.

Authorities believe the death is a homicide, but are awaiting autopsy results.

Police would like to speak to the victim's friend/ex-boyfriend, Jeff Easley, and think that the missing girl may be with him.

Tina Dyer-Smith's MySpace page is revealing.  Her last two posts were:

12/3/2010:  "looking forward for now on"

11/24/2010: "you will look back and regret but you sealed ur fate"


Jeff Easley is listed as one of her MySpace friends, and authorities believe he is driving a 2005 Silver Dodge Neon.

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My prayers are with the missing child and her family.

Why I Only Sing in the Shower

During my lifetime, I have experienced plenty of lousy days. 

I have messed presentations and speeches up so badly that I just wanted to crawl under a rock and hide for weeks. 

So, I can imagine how Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band must feel after inadvertently providing footage for Fail Blog with his botched singing of the The Star-Spangled Banner prior to Sunday's Kansas City Chiefs football game:




Update: Sorry folks, it looks like the embedded video got pulled from YouTube, but you can still watch it here on Yahoo Sports.

 I do have one bit of advice for Mike and the band.

Don't leave this tweet or this Facebook post at the top of your page for more than a day referencing just prior to your walk off the plank:
  

"Sitting at Arrowhead stadium waitin to sing the national anthem at the chiefs/broncos game."

When you tweet, blog, or Facebook something and it stinks, if you can't delete the message, post an apology, and then cover it with 5 or 6 new topic messages.

I mean push that bad entry to page 3 or at least to the bottom of your current page. 

Otherwise, you give unnecessary opportunities to lots of commenters just visiting the blog to bash you over the goof.

Yes, if I ever have a lousy post, I'll try to cover it as quickly as possible with you know brilliant posts...er...uh...ok..any posts in hopes that others will not see my poor effort--which will then be displayed at the bottom of the homepage or not at all.

Not that I have had a lousy post or two or three or anything during my blogging career...

Kari Swenson: Survivor, Part IV

This is part IV in my series on the disappearance of Kari Swenson.

For my other Kari Swenson posts, you can go here.
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Summary of Previous Posts:

Twenty-two year old student Kari Swenson enjoyed running trails on her breaks from the Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana. On July 15, 1984, she encountered two men while trudging along a mountain path. One of the men grabbed and punched Kari, and then the two restrained her with nylon cord. They then led her off of the marked trail and into the wilderness. The kidnappers eventually set up camp where Kari spent the night chained to a tree. She learned that they planned to make her become the “wife” of the younger of the two "mountain men."

Unaware of the kidnapping but searching for Kari, two rescuers wandered into the area of the camp, and during the confusion, the younger attacker accidentally shot Kari in the chest.  One of the rescuers was also shot and killed and the attackers fled the scene--leaving Kari wounded and alone.  More than four hours later, law enforcement found Kari at the camp, and rescuers were able to airlift her to a local hospital. 

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PART IV

Aftermath


Don Nichols (father)

Don was convicted of kidnapping, deliberate homicide, and  aggravated assault in 1985, and received an 85 year sentence.  Don was eligible for parole in 2007, but his application was denied. Prior to the decision, Kari’s father Bob, a Professor Emeritus, encouraged a letter-writing campaign that likely had an impact on the Nichols’ parole board. Dr. Swenson wants Nichols to serve another 15 years at least.  Don's next opportunity for parole will be in 2012—the convicted man would be 81 years old then.

Dan Nichols (son)

During Dan’s trial, his defense attorney successfully portrayed the kidnapper's father as a controlling abuser of his son—a dad who had robbed Dan of a normal childhood. Obviously, testimony from multiple sources showing Dan to be concerned about Kari’s injuries and ecstatic when he was later informed that she had survived the shooting, helped his argument. Dan was convicted of lesser felony charges and sentenced to 25 years. He served 8 and was released in 1991. Reportedly, Dan’s still lives in Montana and works in construction.

Johnny France (sheriff)

Focusing on the victim, I did not discuss Sheriff Johnny France much. In tandem with another sheriff (the crime occurred on the border of two counties), France led the investigation and search for Kari. He was credited with single-handedly capturing Don and Dan Nichols as the kidnappers camped on snow-covered ranch land. Ironically, France used a similar ruse, the “don’t move you’re surrounded” bluff, to get the Nichols to surrender—a tactic that got rescuer Al Goldstein killed.

France’s popularity rocketed initially, and led to appearances on national television and a $50,000 contract for book rights to the story. Critics assailed France for appearing to profit from the incident--something the sheriff downplayed.

Combined with criticism from other law enforcement (that France was a show-off) and from Kari’s family (that France should have initiated the ground search earlier), France’s star-shine began to wane. As a result, a majority of local residents voted for France’s competitor in the following election, and Sheriff Johnny was defeated. France left law enforcement, focused on his private business interests, and still resides in Montana.

Kari Swenson

One would think Kari’s brush with death, would have resulted in an extended rehabilitation process. Just four months after the shooting and her hospitalization, Kari resumed serious physical training for the biathlon. Despite having to shelve her skiing workouts after a few weeks due to the intense pain (Kari admitted that she pushed herself too fast), she was able to win a race, and qualify for the 1985 World Championships. Competing at only a 75% to 80% level of what Kari felt she could perform prior to the shooting, she finished 26th at the international completion.

Kari competed again, but focused her energies on veterinary school. She still managed to offer analysis as an Olympic commentator during the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, and served as a technical consultant for the made-for-television movie about her terrifying encounter in the Montana wilderness—performing many of the skiing scenes herself. Now a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Kari still lives and works in Montana.
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On Kari

Of all the sports stars and celebrities that society expects us to admire, shouldn’t we hear more about inspiring survivors like Kari Swenson?

A person could very well have accepted his/her fate lying in the woods: "I am shot through the lung. No one knows I am here. I am going to die.”

Kari refused to quit. Her story is one that embodies tenacity-exhibited through her powerful will to live and triumph over evil despite facing enumerable odds.

In a few years, when my sons and daughter are older, should I impress them with one of the many brilliant game performances by athletes or celebrities or should I emphasize the courage of a virtually unknown woman named Kari Swenson who embodied tenacity?

My decision is an easy one.

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I’ll have one more planned post on this series—what does Kari’s incident have to do with school shootings?

I’ll try to answer that question next Monday.
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Previous posts in this series can be found here.

A Polyester-graph?

Before I go with my scheduled entry for today, I wanted to thank Hilary over at The Smitten Image for recognizing my post Dodgeballered as one of her Posts of the Week


Her blog is always interesting and she takes fantastic photographs. 

What is it with all of the talented Canadian photographers?  I will have to start drinking some of their water and hope I can capture some of that creativity.

In any event, here is something to ponder...
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This is from Tuesday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

...The admitted rapist of an 11-year-old girl stunned a Philadelphia courtroom this afternoon when he retracted his guilty plea, called himself the Anti-Christ, and yelled "You'll know I'm telling the truth if you give me a polyester-graph."

Jose Carrasquillo, 27, pleaded guilty in August to sexually assaulting a girl in Kensington when he was in a drug-fueled rage.

Judge Rami Djerassi denied Carrasquillo's request to withdraw his guilty plea. Instead, Djerassi sentenced him to 30 to 66 years in prison...

Nicely done by Judge Djerassi.

I am at least comforted that society will not be at risk from this convicted man for at least the next decade, and that he will have lots of free time to study the Bible and its teachings on the Anti-Christ as well as invent a "polyester-graph" to help him in the future.
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Have a super weekend everyone.

Talented Photographers

It's time again for National Geographic's annual photo competition and a writer for the site Boston.com selected 47 of his favorite images.

All of the photos are fantastic (go here to see a comprehensive list), but here are my top two:


Photo and Description by Sean Heavey: A supercell thunderstorm rolls across the Montana prairie at sunset.

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Photo and description by Amy Helene Johansson: Unsafe Journey. A woman is riding between the railway carriages of a local train heading north from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Her luggage is tucked under the carriage in front of her. It is the month of Ramadan, a fast which culminates in Eid-ul-Fitr, a three-day celebration. Tens of thousands of people leave the city to go to their home village and celebrate with their families. Trains are packed and many who fail to get tickets before they sell out or can't afford buying them at the black market ride on the roof of the train or, like this woman, finds a quiet spot between the carriages.
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Even after viewing many of the 2010 entries, I still like Gemma Collier's entry from "The Land of the Long White Cloud" that I featured in a post last year the best--her image was awarded an honorable mention in the 2009 English Edition Viewers' Choice contest. 

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Note: I got the idea for this post from the blog Other People's Ideas.