Silent Screams (and other odd sounds)

This is what I'm thinking RIGHT NOW. It may not be what I'm thinking tomorrow.

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A Sex Offender Lives Here

Sex Offender Lives Here

According to an article written by Bryan Robinson of ABC News, Judge J. Manuel Banales of Texas reviewed the records of all sex offenders placed on probation in his court in the last decade and ordered 14 of the offenders to put up a 2 foot wide, 18 inch tall placard that reads, “Danger: Registered Sex Offender Lives Here” in their front yard. The signs also contains a list of phone numbers to report suspicious behavior. In addition to the signs, the offenders were also given bumper stickers for their cars and portable signs with suction cups to put in car rear windows when they were riding in someone else’s auto. According to Banales, “These laws [sex offender notification laws] are designed to protect the community.” Banales went on to say that “Children are the most vulnerable of any of us. Many of the victims of these crimes never get over it. The whole idea is to protect the community, protect the children, and if targeting these offenders is what’s necessary than that’s what we’ll have to do.” Every state and federal government have “Megan’s law” statutes mandating community notification if sex offenders move into a neighborhood. While sex offenders names, addresses, photos and criminal records are available on state sexual offenders Web sites, Banales thought that this was inadequate because not everyone reads newspapers or has Internet access. (, Bryan Robinson)

Recently, more than a few people on social media sites have been publishing the sign that Judge J. Manuel Banales has deemed to be necessary to keep our communities safe. While I understand that almost all of us find sex crimes despicable and would like to find a way to make sure these crimes do not happen in our country let alone in our communities, I’m not sure I can get on the bandwagon with the “sign” campaign. Sex crimes are certainly heinous and spending the legal amount of time in a penitentiary is certainly warranted, just as prison time is warranted to someone who has taken a life. On a basic level, I think most of us would be able to agree that whether a person is actually murdered and dead or raped, beaten and left alive, both have lost their “lives.”

A murderer, depending on the degree, can “do his time” in confinement and be released a rehabilitated man to live among the general population; not so a sexual offender. A sexual offender “does his time” and then is released into the general population branded by a web site and possibly a sign placed in his front yard. A sex offender’s neighbors receive letters warning them of the potential danger of living next to a sexual preditor; one does not receive the same notification if a murderer happens to move into your neighborhood. I understand that most believe that a sexual preditor can never be completely rehabilitated. If that is true, and I believe the research supports such a belief, does placing a sign in a front yard keep them from committing these sexual crimes? Maybe, just maybe, the only real safe place to be from a sexual preditor is in the neighborhood with displays the sign; certainly any intelligent sex offender (and most are intelligent) would leave the vicinity of their visual brand. If the courts of law deem that a murderer is a threat to the population at large, that person, more than likely, is never released from prison. If the threat of the sexual preditor is great, shouldn’t the same safe-guard apply?

Please, do not think that I wish the offenders rights supercede the rights of the victim. Not only no, but hell no! The rights of the innocent should always prevail. The problem with saying (and believing that) is that there are more than “one” set of innocents. What about the innocent family members (mothers, fathers, wives, children, sisters, brothers) who have this sign displayed in their front yard for their neighbors to see? What was their crime? What did they do to deserve this punishment? Does merely loving a person who has committed a hideous crime automatically sentence them to the same punishment as the one who actually committed the crime?

No, I am not a victim of a sexual crime. No, my family has not been the victim of any sexual crimes. I also know that since I do not have first hand knowledge of such a thing, that some may think my opinion holds no value. Does one really have to experience a situation to have a valid opinion? Maybe, maybe not. I hold the opinion that there are some things I never want to experience.

I know I take the road less traveled on this subject. I know my opinion is not a popular one. I am sorry if that offends you but I hope my words have at least made you think beyond the popular opinion.

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The Way It Used to Be…..

I have to admit it used to irritate me a little bit when my parents used to say, “I remember when …..” followed by some better way of doing things or how much better the “olden days” were.  I remember saying to them, “Come on, things couldn’t have been better, you had the depression, the “big” war  and you didn’t even have colored TV.  Yep, those “good old days” must have been magnificent,” I would say sarcastically as I rolled my eyes and vowed silently never to say anything so ridiculous to my own children if I ever had any.

As time would have it, I grew up and started to hear myself echo the same words I used to hear my parents say long ago.  Of course, when I was in early adulthood, I would rationalize when I said those things thinking, “at least when I say them, they are true.”  Life has a way of sneaking up on you when you are not looking and by the time you are in middle adulthood you suddenly realize that what you are saying is exactly the same things your parents said way back when you didn’t believe them.  Life is funny like that.

So, you might ask yourself, what brought on this line of thinking? Strangely enough, the purchase and installation of new appliances has forced me to see things the way my parents probably did when they said, “I remember when…”

Recently, my dishwasher and microwave went kaput which forced me to start looking for these new appliances.  Being brainwashed by powerful advertisement, I basically knew what I wanted when I went out to window shop for what I thought would be a simple task of comparative price shopping and the purchase of my new appliances.  Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems and the simple task of picking out appliances and having someone install them has left a bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to big business.

When I was a young adult, when my appliances broke down, I went to local small businessmen who made their livelihood being reputable people who needed and wanted your business to stay afloat.  More than likely, these businessmen lived in your neighborhood and you went to school with their children.   A deal was made with a handshake until the paperwork could be finished.  More than likely your appliances were delivered and installed (free of charge) the same day.  The guarantee you received was backed by reputation and you didn’t have to pay extra for it.

As I’m sure you know, small business has been largely replaced by the big business chains who sell appliances at much more affordable prices.  These big chains price match so that shopping is really made easy.  All you have to do is go to the chain you want to give your money to and tell them what you want and how much you would save if you bought it at Store B and the price is matched!  What is lost when the big chains take your money and the small businessman can’t afford to compete anymore?  What is gained by purchasing appliances at lower prices?

Recently I have found out what is gained by purchasing from a large chain.  I gained aggravation.  I went to the retail store just to purchase an appliance.  Here is a little of how the conversation went.

Me:  I need a new dishwasher.  I would like the new Frigidaire dishwasher.  Do you have that?

Store:  Why yes we do.  It is right over here and it is only $……

Me:  Do you have it in black?

Store:  Yes it does come in black but we have to order it.  Can you hold on a minute while I take this call?

Me:  Sure.

Store:  (after 5 minutes).  I’m sorry, I had to take that call.

Me:  It’s okay.  Now, about the dishwasher.

Store:  Which one did you want again?

Me:  The new Frigidaire.

Store:  Oh yes, that’s right.  Have you seen it yet?

Me: Yes, you just showed me.

Store:  That’s right.  I’m sorry.  I talk to so many people in a day it is hard to keep things straight sometimes.  I am expected to do so much.  Much more than I used to do.  To tell you the truth, I just started in this department a few days ago and I’m still trying to get used to things.  (Phone rings)  Do you mind if I take this call.

Me:  No.

Store:  Ok.  I’m sorry that took so long.

Me:  It’s okay.  I think I’m going to look elsewhere.  Thank you for your time.

Off I go to another big retail store and the conversation goes something like this:

Store:  Can I help you?

Me:  Yes.  Do you have the new Frigidaire dishwasher?  Store B has it for $….

Store:  Yes we do.  We can match their price.

Me.  Good.

Store:  Now, is your current dishwasher hardwired or a plug-in?

Me:  I don’t know.

Store:  You have to know that information.

Me:  What is the difference?

Store:  If it is hardwired we won’t install it.  You have to have a general contractor to install it.

Me:  ….and I would have to pay for that?

Store:  Why yes.

Me:  How would I know if it is hardwired or not?

Store:  You have to pull the dishwasher out.

Me:  Really?

Store:  What we can do is deliver the dishwasher to your house (for a fee of course) and pull out your old dishwasher.  It if is hardwired, we will leave the new dishwasher there and set you up with a general contractor to install your dishwasher.

Me:  (Getting agitated)  Let me see if I have this straight.  You will sell me this dishwasher for a great price…..but you will not install it if my dishwasher is hardwired.  You will deliver this dishwasher for a fee and leave it in the middle of my kitchen if, when you pull out my old dishwasher, you find that it is hardwired.  Let’s say it is hardwired.  I take it that you will not disconnect the old dishwasher then.  So now I have a old dishwasher and a new dishwasher in the middle of my kitchen while I wait for you to hire a general contractor to come in and install my dishwasher.  Is that correct?

Store:  That’s usually the way it’s done ma’am.

Me:  …and I have to pay for the installation.  Is that correct?

Store:  Umm…yes.

Me:  …and tell me again how much this dishwasher is costing me.

Store:  All the major chains work like this ma’am.  We are no different from the others.

Me:  …and that makes me want to purchase a dishwasher from your chain how……?

How irritating it is to purchase a new appliance only to find that you have to spend the money saved to hire a contractor to finish the deal.  How can big business get away with selling something they don’t install?  When did we, as the consumers, allow this to happen?

I’ll tell you when I allowed this to happen.  I allowed it the very first time I purchased an appliance from someone other than my local businessman.  I have no one to blame but myself.