Monthly Archives: February 2016

(What I’ve Learned ) by looking up criminal behavior online

Does your state have a way to look up court cases on line? I don’t know how many do, but mine does. It’s not complete, there are mistakes like typos, and cases that are listed sometimes disappear; nonetheless I am so glad it exists. For want of a better word, it’s a very useful tool. These days, in an urban area certainly, people come and go so much, god only knows what kind of background they’ve had before they arrive on your doorstep (so to speak).

Many years ago I was talking (socially) to a man I hadn’t yet met on the phone. It was an okay conversation and at the point we hung up I was considering talking to him again. I only knew his first name but during the call he’d been telling a story and referenced his brother, and in the telling, while repeating what another person had said to his brother, referred to him as Dr [last name]. Now I had a first and last name of the man I’d been talking to which I plugged into the court case search. There, I found cases of not one, but two domestic violence incidents, featuring two different women. Now, one incident with one woman, MAYBE – and that’s a generous MAYBE – there’d be a plausible explanation. But two? Two women? Oh, NO WAY. I never talked to him again. Do you think I’d have ever learned that information from him directly?? EVER?

By looking at court cases, I learned my new neighbor, who I had a bad feeling about (which was why I looked in the first place), had a long, detailed history of criminal behavior, including prison time. Moreover, I could tell by the nature of the criminal activity and the fact it continued, that this individual had certainly not “learned their lesson” or turned their life around (nor did anything I personally witnessed suggest as much). If it’s possible, I want to know if the people in my vicinity, whether I choose them or have them foisted on me, are honest and have integrity. If they use drugs, break the law, carry weapons, or assault other people. What is that, forewarned is forarmed? And again, sometimes I’m just getting confirmation about hunches I already had about somebody.

I’ve looked up doctors and dentists I was considering and found court cases that made me think better of those options. If a doctor gets sued a lot or sues a lot, I want to know. If they have a lot of financial issues, be they personal or business related, that matters too. Someone with money troubles might be more inclined to jack up a bill or treat conditions that don’t exist. [Side Story: this isn’t about looking up cases, but I visited a dentist who wanted to do lots of unnecessary, naturally expensive, work on me. His office comprised of two suites, one of which had been formerly occupied by another dentist. Now they had all this open space, i.e. pricey real estate, sitting there. I thought to myself, SOMEBODY had to pay the rent on that second, dust-gathering suite. It wasn’t going to be me.]

A person running for office locally, someone generally unknown in our immediate community, turned out to have a spotty criminal history, including domestic abuse and mismanaging finances in a campaign elsewhere. Once that information got disseminated, voters were quite put off and did not elect him. Oddly, the candidate did nothing to address these issues and possibly offer their side and/or explanations while voters were still considering options. Not that it would have necessarily changed the outcome, but I just don’t understand why people think anything on record isn’t going to come out and bite them especially if they go into the public arena.

I knew a man casually, someone I liked and talked to when I ran into him out & about. There were things I saw that gave me reason not to pursue a further relationship, but whatever I thought about him, it had never occurred to me to look up his past online. However, he got himself into criminal trouble and once I knew that, I did look up his criminal history. Turns out, the recent crime, although the most serious, wasn’t the only one. I was surprised, disappointed, and upset. This guy was quite smart and had been tailoring what he showed me of himself. In retrospect I think he believed he was sharp enough to keep one step ahead of other people, me included.

My state also has a sexual crimes website which is in addition to the main court case site. You can plug in a zip code and find all the registered sex offenders within it. Given that people who commit sex crimes tend to repeat, that’s information I like to know.

I know there are people who just want to trust fellow humans and who wouldn’t want this type of information. They like to get to know people “naturally” or not have preconceived ideas about somebody. Not me. It’s not the only thing I rely on, but one. Sometimes it fills in a sketchy story. That is, I don’t automatically check to see if someone has a criminal history online. I generally need a reason. Lastly, there’s something else I want to say about this. I don’t think having access to someone’s criminal history is a surefire thing, a way to avoid getting hurt, scammed, etcetera. I believe there are sociopathic people out there with no criminal history. Which is good to keep in mind too.

Caption this

In a recent post I told of delivering a monthly newsletter in my community. I don’t mean it’s my newsletter; I was asked to do it. One of the interesting sights I described was a lifelike dachshund statue on somebody’s porch. I drew a replica for the blog.


Don’t say anything. I drew it from memory.

I skipped a month of delivering (I didn’t want to go careening off a rickety porch or unshoveled walk in two feet of snow & ice) and on return discovered the dachshund fellow was now dressed for the elements! I had to share.


I’m going to borrow a page from The Coastal Crone and invite readers to suggest captions for the photo in the comments.

Ch-ch-ch-Chia! (seeds that is)

P_20160214_152245.jpgSo, recently I posted a drink recipe, Everything but the Kitchen Sink Drink that included chia seeds. I’d never had them before buying a 15oz bag last month. Chia seeds get such swell press for their nutritional properties that I was curious if I’d be able to see any measurable benefits. I finished the bag in just under a month, so I was knocking back essentially half the portion size listed per day.

As I’d said in the other post, chia seeds are not exciting. Not offensive, but not “Oh, yum!” either. (I looked through my files and found a Delicious Living article from a few years ago – July 2011 I think – which described them as “flavorless” which I guess is better than the “boring” I said.)

I noticed two results. The first was I dropped a pound or two which I attribute to the high fiber. I don’t need to lose weight but to maintain it, which in winter is more challenging. So my weight is right where I want it. (Many years ago I read & kept an article which said the secret to weight loss is fiber. That simple maxim stuck with me and besides that, if there is anything adults are forever being encouraged to add to their diets, it is fiber. The Delicious Living article notes that with 6 grams of fiber per 2 tbsp, chia seeds have more fiber than any other whole food.)

The second specific thiing I noticed was that my nails grew a tad faster. I already have a decent amount of calcium in my diet and this was just an added boost. That is, I didn’t eliminate any of my other calcium sources while I was eating chia seeds. There may be other, less obvious benefits (the good fats ought to be working in there somewhere), but these were the ones I could measure.

Because I found the chia seeds for such a decent price ($2.99 for a 15oz bag), I went ahead and bought a second bag. I’m pretty sure I won’t try to eat it in a month, but I think it’s a nice addition to my diet, not for its bland taste, but for the nutrients. It’s one I’ll definitely have to remind myself to eat, because I’m pretty sure I’ll forget it exists otherwise.

Short Thought 136 (revenge)

When someone you’re getting to know tells you how they exacted revenge on another person in their life, it’s smart to remember that they may well use the same methods on you somewhere down the line.

I can think of several instances where people revealed unsavory or questionable things they’d done in relation to other people that, in retrospect, were just the same kinds of things they’d eventually serve up my way.

Maybe we drop our guard and think we’d never be treated the same way because the stories initially seemed like a shared confidence, not a warning.

Back to the…past

Every now and again I imagine what it might be like to go back in time in my life. Like, just to visit for a day, not to live. But the thing I get hung up on in my imaginings, is whether I would like to go back as I am now – with my current knowledge, ideas, self, etcetera – OR would I like to go back and be the person I was as I experienced the moment the first time around. I simply can’t decide. I realize it’s not super-important to make decisions about fantastical notions that ain’t never gonna happen, nonetheless I get fixed on this particular question. Given a choice, which would it be? I can see advantages to both.

Supposing I wanted to go back and relive a day in high school. It would be fun to be the girl I was then and see my old friends and exist in that skin. Because as years roll by, it gets harder to remember how it felt to me at the time, as well as other points along the way. What was I thinking and feeling at various times? Particularly at a crossroad? Or in a relationship? Maybe I’d like to go back to the last time I did a certain thing or saw a certain person, not knowing then that it would be the last. On the other hand, it would be so informative to go back knowing everything I know now. I could be useful to my younger self, although I’d feel kinda bad to tell her some of what I know now. Would she believe me anyway? Even if some of what I had to tell her was factual (and not just sound or pointed advice)?

There’s other moments I’d like to re-visit. A particular day at the ocean. Or when certain people were still alive. Like that. Again, not to stay – I am not the sort of person who wants to go back instead of forward or who repaints the the past as better than it was, safely blotting out the parts that weren’t so great. Remembering is a kind of “re-visiting” but I’m talking about something much more literal, the way it sometimes happens in movies. And it’s MY life in particular I want to see, not 1840’s Paris or something.

Yesterday when I was ruminating about going back in time, it suddenly occured to me I never contemplate visiting the future. I never imagine “visiting” a day in my life – assuming I’m still here – 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ahead. Part of the problem there is me; I suck at looking ahead in general and always did (that’s another subject). The other part is more practical and/or uncertain: what if I don’t like a day in my life in the future? What if I’d rather not know? It’d be nice if I looked down the road and pictured a fantabulous future sitting there for me, but in truth, that’s not exactly how I imagine. I am hopeful about the future but not overly fanciful, let’s say. I’m tentative. Tentatively hopeful? But not optimistic enough to charge forth shouting, “Bring it on!! Let’s go now!”

Ooooh, here’s another little notion for me to consider. What if somebody (whoever doles out these things) said yes, you may go visit a day in the past of your choosing BUT you must also agree to visit somewhere in your future? And you can even pick which one, name a date. Now THAT would be tough.