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origin of jury nullification

jury 5

The modern jury evolved out of the ancient custom of many ancient Germanic tribes whereby a group of men of good character was used to investigate crimes and/or judge the accused. The Anglo-Saxons, immigrants to England from Germany, created juries during the reign of Alfred the Great (849 – 899), king of Wessex, in the belief that the king and the people should share power and responsibility for justice. Anglo-Saxon juries investigated crimes, and after the Norman Conquest (1066), some parts of the country preserved juries as the means of investigation.

The jury of this period was “self-informing,” meaning it heard very little evidence or testimony in court. Instead, jurors were recruited from the locality of the dispute and were expected to know the facts before coming to court. The source of juror knowledge could include first-hand knowledge, investigation, and less reliable sources such as rumor and hearsay.

Up until this time, guilt or innocence was determined in trials by ordeal. Suspects were tested as to guilt (for example, in the ordeal of hot metal, molten metal was sometimes poured into a suspected thief’s hand. If the wound healed rapidly and well, it was believed God found the suspect innocent, and if not then the suspect was found guilty).

The modern jury trial evolved into something more like we would recognize today in the mid-12th century during the reign of Henry II (1133 – 1189) when English law was transformed from such ordeal-based systems for deciding the prevailing party in a case, especially felonies, to an evidentiary model. Juries, usually 6 or 12 men, were an “ancient institution” even then in some parts of England.

The new juries looked at evidence of fact. Called juries of presentment, laymen, knights, and ordinary freemen were sworn in under oath, and they inspected the evidence and made inquiry. These juries were adopted systematically throughout the country, and fostered methods that would eventually be known in common law countries as trial by jury.

What became apparent in the early days of juries, is that the outcome of a jury trial could be “rigged” by the jury selection process and outright fraud. What became apparent in the intervening hundreds of years is that those in power, whether a king or a legislature, could pass laws that make lawful the most egregious acts against justice (for example, the anti-Jewish laws of the Third Reich and the Jim Crow laws of the American South). What is a jury to do when it is asked to uphold a law that is just plain wrong?

One of the earliest antecedents of modern jury systems is the jury in ancient Greece, including the city-state of Athens, where records of jury courts date back to 500 BCE. These juries voted by secret ballot and were eventually granted the power to annul unconstitutional laws, thus introducing the practice of judicial review.

Jury nullification means deciding not to apply the law to the facts in a particular case by jury decision. In other words, it is “the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her.”

In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a series of such cases, starting in 1670 with the trial of the Quaker William Penn which asserted the right, or at least power, of a jury to render a verdict contrary to the facts or law. Occasionally, juries have asserted what they believed to be their “ancient right” to judge the whole case and not just the facts, and have brought in the verdict of “not guilty”.

Today in the United States, juries are instructed by the judge to follow the judge’s instructions concerning what is the law, and to render a verdict solely on the evidence presented in court. Important past exercises of nullification include cases involving slavery (Fugitive Slave Act of 1850), freedom of the press (John Peter Zenger), and freedom of religion (William Penn).

In United States v. Moylan in 1969, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously ruled: “If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the right to acquit, and the courts must abide that decision.” The Fully Informed Jury Association is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to informing jurors of their rights and seeking the passage of laws to require judges to inform jurors that they can and should judge the law.

In Sparf v. United States in 1895, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws.

Modern American jurisprudence is generally intolerant of the practice, and a juror can be removed from a case if the judge believes that the juror is aware of the power of nullification.

It seems to me, however, that jury nullification offers an effective strategy for forcing the courts to see most acts of juvenile parricide as something other than a common, violent adult crime. Jury nullification is a faster way around the fact that fifty separate states deal with juvenile parricide differently, even though standards of morality should be universal. Jury nullification is backed by centuries of tradition, even if the judges don’t like it.

The day must come when the complexity of parricide must be recognized by the courts and not dealt with as common crime.


Thanks to Wikipedia for the content of this post.




Groove of the Day

Listen to Jackie Lee performing “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide”


kids on the border

Immigration issues are not my thing, but I am exasperated by the politicization of the current crisis by all of the parties involved. Plus, the kids from Central America are showing up on the border, which is in my own neighborhood.
The current crisis is clearly not of the current administration’s making; it is being faulted for not reacting fast enough and effectively enough to a situation that was set up by the former administration—all the while being denied the resources it needs to deal with the crisis by the Republicans. Disingenuous, to say the least.
Obama has requested nearly $4 billion to deal with the crisis, while Congress will equivocate and avoid dealing with the situation by arguing about the price-tag of doing so. All the while, the crisis will only worsen and benefit the unstated (and secret) agenda of the Republicans to maintain illegal immigration and thereby suppress wages in the US.
This is an immediate situation that is no less controllable than a destructive storm hitting one of our ocean coasts. The suddenness of the crisis is suggested by a look at the numbers over the last several years:
border kids 4.
This crisis is being fomented by outside forces including the governments of Mexico and Central America. In a stunning  development a week ago, Mexican President Nieto and Guatemalan President Molina announced cooperation on getting Central American refugees through Mexico and into the US.
Both presidents held a joint press conference in Playas de Catazaja, Mexico, to officially announce an agreement to make it easier for those making the illegal journey to the United States from Central America, to cross into Mexico. The Southern Border Program to Improve Passage will provide for more border checkpoints along Mexico’s border with Guatemala, and offer more protection and even emergency medical care to those making their way north. The illegal aliens will even receive a so-called Regional Visitor’s Card.
border kids 6Officially, the program will grant the cards to only illegal aliens from Guatemala and Belize, allowing them to remain in Mexico’s southern states for 72 hours (more than enough time to reach the US/Mexican border by train). While those two countries share a border with Mexico, the program will undoubtedly benefit anyone who makes it to the border, which would explain why our Border Patrol stations are currently overflowing with illegal aliens from El Salvador and Honduras as well.
We are told these outside forces encouraging illegal immigration also include non-governmental entities including migrant smugglers (looking to make a profit off their desperate clientele) who are making false promises and actually advertising the message that now is the time to take advantage of the current inability of the US government to repulse the flood of immigrants. It is the immigration equivalent of Denial Of Service attacks by computer hackers.
border kidsThis is unconscionable. The hardships which the children endure in their long trek through Mexico are serious, indeed. Once they get here, the conditions these children are being kept in are far from ideal, and critics are calling the warehouses where many are being held tantamount to government-sponsored child abuse. Yet the kids continue to arrive, filling up facilities faster than officials can open them.
In South Texas, where the bulk of the surge is coming through, more than 1,600 youths have filled up 13 shelters. Federal officials have also opened temporary facilities to deal with the overflow at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio TX, in Ventura CA, and in Fort Sill OK.

border kids 2One key difference the recent arrivals are displaying from their predecessors is that they’re not bothering to sneak deeper into Texas, opting instead to turn themselves in and allow US policy toward immigrant youth decide their fate. Current US policy allows youngsters from Central American countries other than Mexico to be released to an adult living in the US while awaiting their court hearing. Mexican youth are returned to an agency in that country.

As a result, while the children are crossing over from Mexico, they are predominantly from Central American countries including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Vice president Joe Biden was south of the border in June, talking with leaders of several Central American nations to make it clear that these children may not stay permanently if they are caught by the border patrol. The White House is offering financial aid to get them back home. The president was in Texas last week, but declined to visit the border, where the Republicans would only have used his presence on the border against him.

Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson was in Texas, along with several high-ranking officials, to see for themselves the chaos at the border protection facilities.

The dimensions of this crisis are greater than generally acknowledged. The Department of Homeland Security appears to have low-balled its estimates of the number of unaccompanied alien children it’s publicly claiming will arrive in the US during the fiscal year of 2014.

DHS claimed in its most recent budget proposal that current trends lead it to estimate 60,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) will cross illegally this year. A closer look at DHS’s own numbers, however, shows that at the end of May a total of 47,017 had already arrived. If this trend continues, the numbers could exceed 100,000 by the end of the year.

Indeed, in early June a news agency leaked an internal draft memo from deputy chief of Border Patrol Ronald D. Vitiello that revealed the DHS expects UAC apprehensions in 2014 to be about 90,100 and in 2015 to number 142,000. Vitiello’s memo stated that government policies are creating incentives for illegal minors to cross the border. The memo appears to be an internal draft working document, and was neither signed nor made official. Yet it suggests what may be really going on.

President Obama referred to the unaccompanied immigrant children as presenting an “urgent humanitarian situation.” It would be cynical in the extreme for anyone to use this crisis for political gain.

In Washington’s highly-polarized atmosphere, I wouldn’t put it past anyone. In fact, it’s already happening.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Paul Simon performing “Mother and Child Reunion”



Hey, what’s going on in Colorado?

In 2006, same-sex marriage was banned by the state constitution in a 55% popular vote. However, on December 20, 2013 the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in the case of Kitchen v. Herbert (a Utah case challenging that state’s ban on gay marriages) legalized same-sex marriage in Colorado and other states within its jurisdiction.

On January 6, 2014, after stays had been denied by the District Court and the Tenth Circuit, the US Supreme Court granted a stay of the District Court’s order pending consideration of the appeal by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On June 25, 2014, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, finding that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but stayed their mandate pending petition to the Supreme Court.

Despite this stay, Boulder County immediately began issuing marriage licenses.

So now gay marriage is not only legal in Colorado, but the state is also famously the first to have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized in the same jurisdiction.

gay marriage & marijuana

It seems we’ve been misinterpreting this Biblical passage all along.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Weird Al Yankovic performing “Which Backstreet Boy’s Gay?”


the bikini

yellow polka dot bikini

It seems hard to believe, but the bikini swimsuit is older than I am.

It was introduced in France by engineer Louis Réard in July 1946. Réard was a mechanical and automotive engineer by education, but was running his mother’s lingerie boutique near Les Folies Bergère in Paris. He named the design (four small triangles of cloth) after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where, four days before the bikini’s introduction to the world, the US had initiated its first peace-time nuclear weapons test.

Its impact was truly explosive. Réard said that “like the bomb, the bikini is small and devastating.”

bikini bomb test

I still remember the sense of outrage the bikini created in the US. Many western countries declared it illegal and the Vatican declared it sinful. Popularized by film stars like Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress, and Sofia Loren in Europe, and Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Esther Williams, and Betty Grable in the US, it became common in most western countries by the 1960s. But in the 1950s, the starlets took advantage of the risqué publicity associated with the bikini by posing for photographs wearing them.

The thing that probably did more than anything else to bring the new swimwear into the mainstream was the 1960 release of this song, today’s Groove of the Day. Since then, summer has never been the same.

yellow polka dot bikini. 2jpg


Groove of the Day

Listen to Brian Hyland performing “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”


the dangers of sexting


It was just a matter of time before a story like this appeared. The practice of teens and US congressmen transmitting sexually-explicit selfies, combined with the proclivity of law enforcement to disregard common notions of privacy, plus the fury of an over-protective mother, made this inevitable.

I don’t profess to suggest any solutions to this bad situation. I am just relieved to have missed this kind of mess in my own life. Let’s be honest. Given prevailing values and social norms in the greater society, it could happen to anybody.

Even though this story proves that many teens make choices that suggest they are brain-dead, I feel sorry this young man is being asked to do this.


Manassas City Police Want To Take A Picture Of Teen’s Erect Privates

by Alex Pfeiffer, The Daily Caller
July 9, 2014

Manassas (VA) City Police have threatened to forcefully take photos of a 17-year-old’s erect penis.

Prosecutors told the defendant he must plead guilty or police would get a search warrant to the take the pictures. This process would potentially involve taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection.

The defendant is facing charges of possession and manufacturing of child pornography in the “sexting” case, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. If convicted, he could be incarcerated until he’s 21 and included on the state sex offender database.

These charges stem from a legal complaint filed by his 15-year-old girlfriend’s mother. The girl sent photos of herself to the 17-year-old, who in return sent her an explicit video of his penis.

Jessica Harbeson Foster, the boy’s attorney, says that Detective David E. Abbott told her they would “use special software to compare pictures of this penis to this penis.” In the situation that the defendant refuses to allow them to take the pictures they would, “just take him down to the hospital, give him a shot and then take the pictures that we need.”

Foster has pushed back against the search warrant. “What is just about this? I don’t mind trying the case. My goal is to stop the search warrant,” she said. “I don’t want him to go through that.”

The defendant appeared before a judge on July 1 and declined to plead guilty. Substitute Juvenile Court Judge Jan Roltsch-Anoll granted a continuance so police could get a search warrant.

Carlos Flores Laboy is the court appointed guardian for the teen and pointed out the irony of the prosecutors’ actions. “They’re using a statute that was designed to protect children from being exploited in a sexual manner to take a picture of this young man in a sexually explicit manner. The irony is incredible.”


False Alarm This Time


Police Abandon Plans To Photograph Teen’s Penis In Virginia Sexting Case

Police in Virginia will not proceed with controversial plans to photograph a 17-year-old boy’s genitalia as evidence in a sexting case against him.

Manassas police backed down Thursday following criticism for obtaining a search warrant to take pictures of the boy’s penis. Authorities planned to compare those photos with a pornographic video the teen allegedly sent to his 15-year-old girlfriend in January.

The teen’s lawyer had said officials threatened to medically induce an erection in the boy if necessary, the Washington Post reported.

Critics said photographing the teen would be creating more child pornography.

Manassas Police Lt. Brian Larkin said the department will allow the warrant to expire, the Associated Press reports.

The case, which was first reported by NBC Washington, hinges on an exchange between the teen and his girlfriend in January. The girlfriend sent photos of herself to the teen and he responded with a video. His girlfriend’s mother contacted police.

When police arrested the teen, they photographed his penis against his will, his aunt, who is his guardian, alleged to NBC Washington.

The teen has been charged with manufacturing and distributing child pornography. His girlfriend has not been arrested.

If convicted of the felony charges, the teen could be listed as a sex offender for life.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Madonna performing “Forbidden Love”




Even though on some days it’s hard to appreciate, I do have a lot for which to be thankful.

One more payment, and at age 34, my son Henry is finally free of his crushing student loans. Free at last, and he only has himself to thank for it. For nearly a decade he has aggressively paid down his loans by living a life so austere I have never seen it before (including in the movies and on TV), and still has real money in the bank. He doesn’t have a stick of furniture and lives among boxes, always ready for an emergency move. Right now he is sleeping on an air mattress and debates whether a bed is in his future. For many years, he lived on $10 per week for food. When he tells others how he lives, people can’t believe it.

I, at least, have furniture!

Yet I am thankful that Henry has grown up to be self-disciplined, independent, and free. It is the fondest wish of most parents. I am thankful that Henry and I have independently arrived at similar ways of life. We understand and respect the choices that one another has made.

I am thankful that I once again have solar power. It would not have happened were it not for the generosity of people around me. A gift from a donor let me buy the new components which needed to be purchased. The loan of a charge controller by my neighbor allowed the system to be installed. And then my friend came up to the house the day I received the controller, and installed the system itself.

The oil companies nearly turned me into a consumer. It was awful being milked and having nothing to say about it. I might well have been a hemophiliac with a flowing wound. I have long believed that in this life you are either a producer or consumer, and I have devoted much of the last decade eliminating waste and moving through the in-between grey area to an ever-more-pure state of being personally productive. The bleeding has ended and I can get back to my frugal, productive ways.

When things were at their worst, the only thing that sustained me is that the only reader to have visited Estrella Vista was the first reader to have contributed to keeping it going. Because of his knowledgeable support, I never despaired of my purpose. For that I am thankful, too.

Gratitude, it is said, is the open door to abundance. The universe, some people say, is bountiful. “Abundance is not something we acquire,” says Wayne Dwyer. “It is something we tune into.”

Yet we are surrounded by messages of scarcity. Since my parents exited the scene, I have had to work very hard over long periods of time for anything I have earned or accomplished. Nothing was easy for me and for most of the people I have known.

The economy is in recession and more and more friends and family are without work or are having trouble living comfortably. Cities and states are going broke or bankrupt and cutting back on critical services like education, prisons, police and fire personnel. Our ever-growing population and demand for cheap energy and natural resources are stressing ecosystems and threatening our survival.

Is this apparent scarcity truly real? Is it possible we are living in an abundant universe that can take care of all of us without knowing it?

According to several websites I have consulted, the answer is “yes” if we can learn to see our world in new ways consistent with recent advances in physics, psychology, and consciousness science. Like prior consciousness revolutions, this one will enter the mainstream slowly… but those who adopt its lessons sooner will find new opportunities where others only see limits.


Quantum mechanics tells us that we live in a universe in which many states of reality are superimposed over each other, and the act of observing is needed to determine which one becomes “reality.” As John Wheeler, former Professor Emeritus of Physics at Princeton University described, we live in a “participatory universe” in which an observer is actually required to bring the universe into being.

While this principle is not itself easily proven, recent research at some of the nation’s leading universities says that the lessons of quantum mechanics seem to apply at human scales.


Social psychology research demonstrates that our core beliefs and values shape how we view and interact with the world. For example, many experiments have shown that prosocial and cooperative behavior derives significantly from past experience combined with some overall personality differences. If you believe that you live in an untrustworthy universe, your behavior is likely to confirm this bias. On the other hand, if you are generally trusting and open, you are more likely to call forth trustworthy behavior from others.

Psychology and mythology inform us that true transformation of deep beliefs and habits often requires a letting go of current forms, and embracing a fear-inducing period while one navigates the psychological darkness of the unknown.

Consciousness Science

Neuroscience researchers have discovered that the amygdala in the brain is responsible for emotional learning and fear-conditioning. It consolidates memory slowly over time in ways that shape our emotional responses to different types of experiences. A person’s fear of social situations, or anxiety related to perceived scarcity, is determined by the amygdala through patterning past experience, especially when one was young. These emotional responses can profoundly shape one’s lifetime perspective.

In addition, neuroscientists have discovered that fear responses can be unlearned and openness cultivated in different ways, including through magnetic stimulation and the careful administration of psychedelic substances. With less fear and greater openness, new possibilities can emerge and be realized.

When we bring together these findings from physics, psychology, and neuroscience some interesting new possibilities begin to emerge. If our consciousness plays a role in actually shaping our universe, and if our beliefs play a role in determining outcomes, and if we can  overcome our fear associated with changing these beliefs, then it seems possible that we can actually shift our consciousness to recognize and co-create an abundant world.

One website hosts a lecture series including contributions from 27 different trainers (all free) who teach that we can take positive steps towards creating abundance. Others promote the “law of attraction” which makes the same point from a slightly different vantage point. Is it likely that we will experience a shift towards abundance, not just as individuals, but as a society generally?

Do you see any signs of newly-perceived abundance in your own life? I look forward to hearing your insights and experiences.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Billie Holiday performing “Pennies From Heaven”


mourning nation

11 Sculptor Giulio Monteverde (Bistagno, Alessandria, 1837 - Roma 1917) 46522210

The effects of the Civil War, the first modern war, had an extraordinary effect on the psyche of Americans. Nearly 2½% of the population of the North and South were touched by death. For a nation of 31 million people, this translated to 750,000 dead in all, more than in all other wars combined. Never before or since had so many Americans died in battle. Transposing this percentage to today’s population, 7 million people would die. Thus, nearly every person in America was affected. In the state of Alabama alone, there were over 80,000 widows—80,000 women dressed in black for mourning.

At the outset of the war, both sides of the conflict were totally unprepared to handle such an overwhelming number of bodies. They rotted in the fields and were subject to desecration by angry residents and wild animals such as dogs and pigs, scattering the bones over an even wider area.

The enormous tide of death completely transformed America. Prior to the war, there were no national cemeteries, no provisions for identifying the dead or notifying their next-of-kin, no federal relief to provide aid to those who grieved, no other agencies or bureaucracies for providing aid, no adequate hospitals, no effective ambulance corps, no federal provision for burial, transfer, and reburial of people. Through fits and starts, the nation gradually began coping with the task at hand (embalming was a wartime innovation), but by the end of the war the nation was still inadequate to the task. The problem wasn’t “solved” until the decades following the Civil War, and then the nation addressed death on a scale not seen before (even though death had always been regarded as a normal part of life).

American views and practices related to death and burial paralleled those of Europe and began to change significantly in the 1800s. Probably the most dramatic manifestation of this change was the graveyard itself. In London and Paris, the concept was revolutionized with the design of elaborate “garden cemeteries” that were lushly landscaped burial grounds as well as public parks. The trend quickly took hold in the US, especially after the Civil War.

The Victorians had a lot of superstitions associated with death. For example, when there was a corpse in the house you had to cover all the mirrors. If a mirror in your house was to fall and break by itself, it was believed that someone in the home would die soon. When someone died in the house and there was a clock in the room, you had to stop the clock at the death hour or the family of the household would have bad luck. When the body was taken from the house, it had to be carried out feet first because if it was carried out head first, it could look back and beckon others to follow it into death.

Socially, decorum demanded that family members adjust their behavior and dress for years after the death of a close relative. Particular clothing was worn to mourn the dead all the way back to the 1600s. But it was in the 1830s and 1840s that mourning become an art form. There were many books written on the subject of how to mourn, what to wear, when to wear it. When Prince Albert died in 1861 (the same year the Civil War began) and the Queen of England went into mourning, society on both sides of the ocean took on mourning with a vengeance.

Mourning became a central fact of wartime life and, with the disinterment and reburial of the dead, for years thereafter. Formal black mourning clothes—even items of underwear and accessories like gloves and handkerchiefs which had to be black—were a society-wide necessity.

Death has been swept under the rug in modern times, and the only places we can see it now as it was is in the cemeteries of the age. I know I have shown pictures of cemeteries before, but I have always liked graveyards and the images of them are not to be depleted. Here are some of my favorites:










city cemetary sb in


Gettysburg 1




Groove of the Day

Listen to Martin Gaskell performing the Victorian hymn “The Strife is O’er”






fr perrault

Early in my “vacation” I was faced with a situation that, in some respects, was a low-point in my life.

My solar power system was totally dead, its replacement paid for but waiting for delivery of a charge controller that was also paid for, but back ordered by the supplier. Without its delivery, the whole new system was on hold. I had two generators, one of which runs but is surging and blowing out electronic equipment in the house, and the other which runs for 20 minutes and dies. Both generators use inordinate amounts of gasoline and have been breaking me financially. So I had no power. No Internet. No TV. No radio. No writing (I can’t write on paper; my hands only work on the keyboard). No money. This was a first.

Yet, curiously enough, my mood has been upbeat. I can take it. I have this fantasy that I am serving a sentence with these hardships in parallel with my parricides. If they can handle it, I can too. The one thing we all have in common is that we are survivors.

The other night, however, I thought that I couldn’t take it. For only the second time since the stroke I downed two glasses of scotch, got drunk (I’m a real lightweight anymore), and fell asleep in the dark.

Then, sometime during the night, I had an “ah-hah” moment.

The thought came to me that life is a matter of choosing between life and death, and that I have been choosing death since my wife died almost 21 years ago. I chose to grieve rather than looking to the future. I invested too much money to keep her literary magazine alive longer than it should have lived. I didn’t care about the financial consequences of my decisions because I didn’t think I had much of a future. And here is the worst thing: I had developed an expectation (based upon my ancestors’ longevity) that I would not live beyond my 73rd birthday… only 7 years from now.

Now here is the thing about expectation: it is a very powerful thing. Without really knowing it, we make thousands of little decisions based on our expectation of what is going to happen. Our lives can become a matter of self-fulfilling prophesy.

I realize that my expectation that I have only 7 years to live is not enough time. I have about 2½ years to continue paying on the central tract at Estrella Vista and can only then begin to live comfortably on my monthly Social Security check afterwards. That would leave only 4½ years to build everything I want to leave to the parricides who would survive me. Obviously not realistic.

I need another vision of myself—another expectation—to hold in my head, one that supports (not undermines) my goals. A wizened, maybe toothless, old man who will live far beyond 73, and be vital up until the ancient end. A Father Perrault from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.

I need to follow my mentor’s example: he and his wife took me aside at the American embassy in Paris and told me about a horseback ride they took on her 65th birthday on which they both pledged to live as long and well as they could, and for him to start his fifth career. He lived into his 90s and became successful and widely-loved (again), and she lived to over 100.

I can, too.

Luckily for me, I have a piece of fiction in the can which features a character ready-made for this purpose. This is a character based on what I would like to become. Whether this manuscript ever sees the light of day, the character already exists and is available for me to internalize whole-cloth. He is a character who has lived for over 120 years, a character with plenty of time.

Now maybe some readers think that this epiphany is too little too late in coming to do any good. I beg to differ. There is an old saying that we live our lives forward, but understand them in reverse. My grandfather had a plaque in his den which said “Ve Get Too Soon Oldt, und Too Late Schmart.” The timing matters not. The only thing that matters is that we eventually grow smart about our lives.

This is the whole essence of redemption.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Five for Fighting performing “100 Years”


PS: New Posting Time. In an effort to become less dependent on nighttime power generation by any means, I am moving the publication time for new posts from midnight to noon. Get used to it, you early birds!



sun face 4

My solar system was fixed today… actually, just a little more than an hour ago (at about 8:00 pm), so I will be getting back to work tomorrow.

This is the first time in two months that I have been sitting at the computer and it is quiet outside. I can hardly believe this day is here without the sound of the generator in the background.

Pinch me.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Herman’s Hermits performing “There’s A Kind Of Hush


the end, for the time being

Empty Fuel Gage

I am taking a few days off, maybe a week or more. Until more contributions come in, the coffers are empty and I need a break.

As I mentioned a couple days ago, the cost of fuel to keep the generators running has been absolutely ruinous–this at a time that sunlight is greatest and we should be enjoying lower costs for electricity.

Through the generosity of one contributor, I have arranged for a gift that will get us current with our expenses, but it is unsure how quickly the gift will hit our accounts. Foreign contributions made through Paypal involve 3 or 4 days of “float.” US payments made through our fiscal agent, The Juvenile Law Society, involve a delay of a week or more, and the donor said it would take several more days than that to transfer the money. So either way, we have no option but to wait.

I am using this “vacation” to solve some technology issues which have recently been bedeviling me. Of course there is the issue of the electrical system, which I hope to have fixed by the time I return to regular publication of the Diary. But the ancient computer upon which I compose Wandervogel Diary is also in sore need of a tune-up, and I must plan for it to be in Alpine for a full day or more to be repaired. Also, a new back-up generator surges and then stops running after about 20 minutes; so this, too, must be brought into working order.

In the month of June we were able to do a number of good things, among others, to help Derek King raise sufficient funds for a security deposit on an apartment. So I feel good about that, as should you. Much more needs to be done, but it will have to wait for a week or two.

Life out here on the desert is difficult in the best of times. When two or three things go wrong all at once, hard choices must be made… and writing this blog is just too difficult to fold into the mix.

I hope you won’t be too disappointed. This situation is only temporary and I’ll be back on the air before you know it.


Groove of the Day

Listen to The Doors performing “The End”


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