Saturday, October 20, 2007

The KIte Runner

I just finished reading this great little book and if you want to read it, before the movie comes out, you should jump on it. It is a quick read and I think I had it done in a week. Not very familiar with the people and country of Afghanistan it painted a great picture for me. For those of you that may not be familiar with this title, it is 2 years old and has been on the N.Y. Times Best Seller list for 2 years. I had not heard of it until we began to sell it and the coffee mega giant. My friend who is in an actual "book club" told me that she read it when it first came out and that it was very good. So, I bought it and gave it a whirl.

I often wondered, as I read, how much of his own life in Afghanistan the author injected into his characters. They were very lush and full. There have been stories in the news that the release of the film is being held until the movie company can get the child actors and their families out of Afghanistan for safety reasons. There is a scene that occurs in both the book and film that may be unacceptable and disturbing to their countrymen due to religious reasons and so they fear for their safety. It is portrayed carefully in the film, but by their standards not acceptable, so until all is settled the film will not be released. I will go and see it because when I finished the book I actually said to myself that it would make a good movie.

The story is about two young boys, from different social levels who are like brothers. Their relationship to each other, with their own fathers and the country they call home. You will become riveted as you follow these characters into their adult lives, I know I did, and once the last page comes you will want to know more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Teenagers & Life

In December the United Nations took up a resolution calling for the abolition of life in prison without the possibility of parole for children and young teenagers. The vote was 185 to 1, with the United States the lone dissenter.

This article was featured in yesterdays New York Times and I found it quite thought provoking. Let me start off by saying, as someone who has taught "at risk" teens I know that there are those who can be worked with and turned around. Now, none of my kids had ever committed a heinous crime, so I can not speak to that sort of mental state, but I think if you catch them young enough that maybe they can be helped as opposed to sitting in prison for the rest of their life from the age of 13. Children can learn and are malleable.

According to the article there are currently 73 children serving sentences right now for crimes committed as children.

On October 17th, which is today, a group called Equal Justice Initiative plans to issue a report about adolescents that are currently serving these sentences. They say that states should be required to review the sentences of juvenile offenders as the decades pass looking for cases where parole might be warranted.

Prosecutors and victims' rights groups say that they are opposed to such an idea and option. They believe that the people are so dangerous that only life sentences without the possibility of release are the only fit and moral response. Corrections professionals and criminologists here and abroad tend to agree that violent crime is usually a young persons activity, suggesting that eventual parole could be considered in most cases. But the American legal system is more responsive to popular concerns about crime and attitudes about punishment, while justice systems abroad tend to be administered by career civil servants rather than elected legislators, prosecutors and judges.

According to a 2005 report from Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 59 percent of the more than 2,200 prisoners serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were 17 or younger had never been convicted of a previous crime. And 26 percent were in for felony murder, meaning that they participated in a crime that led to a murder but did not kill anyone themselves.

Bryan Stevenson, the executive director for Equal Justice Initiative said, " Thirteen and fourteen year old children should not be condemned to death in prison because there is always hope for a child." I tend to agree.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Tuesday morning as I was getting ready for work I was listening to a local talk radio station. The topic of their AM contest was based upon an article in a recent issue of GQ Magazine. The article was about " 27 Things That Have Changed Your Life." They mentioned things like the TV remote, microwave ovens and many female models. I began thinking that it would make a good blog entry.I think that I might look at some things other than material items as well. I started to think about my list, but I am not even sure that I can come up with 27 things, but I am going to give it a whirl and I am going to throw it out there for the rest of you to see what might be on your list!

These are only numbered for my ability to get track and has nothing to do with level of importance.

1. Moving away from home after high school graduation. Going to Texas to go to college made me a stronger and more independent person.

2. Getting a dog. Never having dogs growing up made me realize what an asset a dog can be. They are really there for you.

3. Graduating from college. I ended up in careers that were far different from my teenage ambitions, but they were the ones that I had natural abilities to do and I was really good at them.

4. Having a child. Up until then I was quite the party gal and was probably headed in a bad direction. It caused me to slow down and become concerned with someone other than myself.

5. Journaling & Blogging. By writing on a regular, if not daily basis, I am able to look more closely at things and pay more attention to myself and the changes in my life. It is an outlet like I have never had and gives me the quiet reflective time that I cherish.

6. Meeting John. Had I not needed someone with a truck to help me move it probably would never have come to pass. Prior to that I had been involved in a bad relationship and did not trust people. He rebuilt that part of my life. I trust him like I never have anyone else for many years.

7. TiVo. It is frickin' awesome!! When I watch my shows I never have to watch commercials! The best thing since sliced bread. I also can tape the stuff I want and watch it when I want.

8. Starbucks. When they first opened here they brought a quality coffee in to this town and now they pay me to be there and offer me quality health benefits. I have also made some new female friends there that I really like. It has been a great opportunity. Not to mention the free pound of coffee a week!

9. Boy Scouts. I learned that I have a true love of camping and backpacking that I never knew or had as a child. I was able to go to New Mexico and trek, I have been able to go all over Ohio and spend many nights in a tent under the stars, not to mention in to Virginia as well. I learned how to pack a pack, how to "leave no trace" camp. First Aid on the trail.

10. EMS. This one is obvious, the knowledge that I am learning has not only changed my life, but can be used to change that of others. I can be an asset in my own home or other job, even on the road. Kids at work come to me all the time with their cuts, scrapes and bruises.

11. Becoming a Parent. In my early 20's I never wanted kids. It was a surprise to everyone when I got pregnant. It made me a less self-centered person. More caring. A very good change. I think I was too self absorbed.

12. Becoming computer savvy. I never had any desire to mess with computer stuff, but when I worked for the police dept. they put one on my desk and expected me to learn how to do stuff. Now.... I can not imagine living without one. I use it to get all my news and information as well as keeping in touch with people near and far, like Wisconsin!!

This is just the simple stuff that I could think of right now. In no way does it dismiss any of the millions of other things and people that have entered and / or changed or contributed to the many parts of my life and made me in to the person that I am today.

How about you?