Sunday, February 27, 2011

There's good news and . . .

The good news is that after an insufferable winter we've had moderating temperatures for the past couple of weeks. The snow pack is intact except for south facing slopes, where some bare ground is starting to show, but not nearly as deep as it once was. The last big storm we had was, as the weatherbots say, largely a rain event here. It snowed in ski country though, so everybody is happy. We got three inches of snow overnight, but that's trivial, and it's already melting.

The bad news is what comes next -- which has already started to show up actually. That would be mud. After a winter to remember, we're headed for an epic mud season. My waterfall is gushing, which is picturesque. But three separate rogue streams have formed that are crossing my driveway as sheets. I'm not going to get stuck in the snow again, but bogging down in the mud would be even worse.

It's impossible to keep it out of the house no matter what discipline one adopts. It sucks at your boots and well, it's just gross. Still, this is the last trial we must cross before the good stuff happens.

Then again there could still be another 2 foot blizzard .. .

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bozo the Attorney

I don't know why they call Connecticut the Nutmeg State. I'm positive we produce no nutmeg. Lately, our best-known product seems to be horrific crime stories.

Shortly after I acquired my foothold here in Windham County, the state executed Michael Ross, who had terrorized the farmland out here many years ago. In about a month, the state will inflict the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky on us. Last year, his accomplice in the notorious Cheshire home invasion, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death. If you aren't already familiar with the details of the crime, I suggest you not take the trouble to find out. I won't give any links but you can use your favorite commercial search engine if you must. I will mention a couple of details in this post, so if you really don't want to know, stop reading.

Hayes's attorney played it pretty straight. He didn't have a lot to work with, so he did end up asking a couple of off-the-wall questions at trial, but he had to do something to earn his fee. JK's legal team, however, is weirdly creative.

One of his lawyers violated a gag order by holding a press conference on the courthouse steps during the Hayes trial, to announce that yes, his client had tied an 11 year old girl to her bed, photographed her genitalia with this cell phone, doused her in gasoline and set her on fire. But, he did not anally rape her, in spite of where they found his semen. Well okay then. Sorry I misjudged the man.

Now, in pretrial motions, JK's counsel have tried to get the judge replaced, accusing him of being injudicious, intemperate, and biased. They lost the motion, so now they will face the same judge who they have called all sorts of names. That ought to help. They also petitioned that the normal seating arrangements be changed so that the defense sits near the jury. Apparently they believe the jurors will be reluctant to snuff a guy who they have sat close to. Since their client is a sadistic psychopath, I'm sure the jurors will enjoy looking into his cold dead eyes.

But the oddest behavior of the defense is that they have attacked the sole survivor of the crime, Dr. William Petit. Among various snide comments, they have asked that he be barred from the trial. They lost that one too. I presume they are trying to establish grounds for appeal, and I suppose they feel they have to do something. But all this just compounds the crime.

And that brings us to the actual point of this post. Both defendants offered to plead guilty in exchange for life. And that would be the hardest possible time since they would both -- but especially JK -- have to be isolated, since putting them in the prison population would indeed be a death sentence. The state turned them down because they're determined to give them both the needle. They can't even take a guilty plea with the defendants taking a chance in the sentencing phase, since state law doesn't allow for death following a guilty plea.

That means we need two trials, the second largely a re-run of the first, although presumably there will be more emphasis on the specific actions of JK this time. A trial means an assault on the jurors on court personnel, first of all, many of whom were traumatized and needed counseling following the Hayes trial. It also inflicts pain on the larger community that will be subjected to a filtered, but still sickening narrative of the crime. In order to kill these guys, the entire community is forced to wallow in their depravity and the agony they have inflicted, for months, so as to ritually turn it back against them.

Some people view this as somehow restoring order, or making the community whole in some way. I do not agree. I think it drags us down. We know these men are evil. I prefer to be better.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New neighbors

A big group of deer -- I've counted 8 individuals visible at one time, and I'm sure there are more -- has started hanging out in the woods just outside my front window. I've taken several pictures of the group, but they're too indistinct among the trees to be worth showing you. This one, however, strolled right across my front lawn. The snow has crusted over, which is why she's floating on top -- for the most part, their travel is very labored in our deep snow pack.

In fact I'm looking at one right now that has fallen behind the group and is badly bogged down, struggling to get out of what must be a deep drift.

I've never seen them in such a large group before. My hypothesis is that they aggregate under these conditions so they can break the snow for each other -- and indeed they tend to travel single file. They keep rooting around in the snow so they must be finding something to eat but it can't be a lot.

The space below my lawn is a hemlock grove, which I've read that they favor. I guess I'm lucky to own a deer park but I won't feel so lucky come planting season. We'll have a much harder time getting along then.