Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sometimes a killer is not all he seems

I have decided to come back to this blog as a result of something I've been paying close attention to for the last year now in the Albany media. Certainly most people who watch the news have now heard the tragic case of the death of Neil Olsen from Lanesboro. This has been a particularly hard thing for me to come to terms with personally because of who the killer was.

Christopher Robinson and I were friends when I attended Mt. Greylock in Williamstown, MA for high school.. When I knew him, he was a funny, sweet boy who managed to cut off the tip of his finger in art class on the last day of school and laugh about it as he put the band aid on. He liked to be with his friends, and talk and relax, and I don't think I ever heard him say anything bad about anyone. He was probably one of the least aggressive people in our group. Sure, he messed around did some stupid stuff, as we all did in high school, but I never saw him act with ill intent and he was always a joy to be around.

I completely disbelieve Mary Olsen's denial of having put him up to the murder. I know he and his sister were not exactly in love with Neil, but I would find it very hard to believe that in a 5 year period Chris became a stone-cold killer all of his own volition. I don't believe that he is heartless even now- very misguided, perhaps, but certainly he still possesses a conscience, as he arguably demonstrated at some points during his trial. I truly believe that Chris would not have done this heinous crime if not for the consistent badgering of his mother, and I find it upsetting that she is not held as accountable as Chris. She didn't pull the trigger, but from what I know of it, she may as well have.

It saddens me to hear that Chris will spend at least the next 15 years in jail before possibility for parole comes up. He certainly made a conscious choice and should be held accountable, but I hope he receives some sort of therapy while in prison and can turn his life around when he gets out. I pray that people will not overly condemn him for what he has done- everyone has a breaking point, and that night apparently he reached his. The crime should not be excused, but I write this in hopes of showing readers the side of Chris that I knew. I'll never forget his smile, or his laughter.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Thoughts on Internet Use Among Those Under 18, and Parental Monitoring has begun to surface more and more often in media reports. This is something that the blogging community picked up on way before news programs and newspaper articles, did, and many bloggers have been frequently putting up mirrors of Myspace pages for victims of crimes such as Taylor Beihl. So many people now in the 16-30 crowd have a Myspace profile, you'd be hard-pressed to find many high school and college kids who don't regularly use the site. Now the site has come under some amount of scrutiny for being a place where child predators are going to find victims, and parents are being encouraged to monitor their child's use of the internet.

Now it's not just this one particular site parents need to watch out for. Myspace is like many other websites, where all you really need is a valid email address to have an account. Beyond that, you can lie about your name, age, location, and even put up a picture of David Hasselhoff and call it yourself, and find a hundred people who believe are you, indeed, who you say you are. Friendster, Okcupid, and many other websites are similar. It's a sad fact of the world that there are evil people who lie and have really, really bad intentions. Still though, I want to know why parents aren't more involved in this stuff. I remember what it was like to be 12, 14, 16- it wasn't all that long ago for me, and it sucked. My mom told me what I could and couldn't do, and if I broke her rules, I was grounded, or appropriate punishment doled out, along with a healthy dose of that classic Catholic guilt trip. It wasn't always fun, but I'm still alive now, so I'd say she did a pretty good job parenting.

Kids today (and I was included in this) seem to think that they have a RIGHT to privacy. I think everyone is entitled to a certain amount of privacy, but I'm sorry, if you're under 18, your parents have every right to know who you're hanging out with, who you're dating, what you do when you go out with your friends, where you go, and when you go. This includes internet use.

So here are a few of things I would do if I had a child, which may also help you out if you're having trouble with this issue: If my child went to a friends house and could possibly use the internet over there, I would have no qualms about asking the friend's parent to monitor any online surfing or chatting done. I would check with the school to make sure they had some security measures to keep the kids away from sites they shouldn't be on, and if the school didn't have any such measures, show up to a PTA meeting and insist that something be done. If I had a child, I would make sure that I had software on my computer to block websites I don't want my child using, a logging system on all chats (which many programs like AIM now offer for IMing), and, of course, physically getting out of my chair to walk over and see what they were doing. Oh yeah, and if you ground your kid from the net, but they're using it anyways, or using it when you don't want them to, take the ethernet cable (the one that looks like an oversized phone cable), unplug it from the modem/router, and hide it. You can't do much online without one, trust me on that. But please, just be aware- if your kid is like me, they will bitch incessantly about you being too overprotective, too restrictive, blah blah blah, but then thank you for it when they are older.

On a side note: The Superbowl is today, I really need to watch it. I missed it last year, which sucked. However, since the incident with Janet's Jackson's nipple, I've been determined to never miss such excitement again. Let me tell you, when your fellow Fire Department members are sitting around talking about the wardrobe malfunction, and you confess you don't watch the Superbowl, all that respect you spent months earning goes right out of the window.

Oh yeah, and just to link that into the earlier topic, know what your kid is watching on TV too. TV can actually be a great way to get your child's opinion on some tough issues, without awkwardly trying to bring up over dinner why drugs are bad and safe sex (or no sex) is good.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cue the Horror Music- I'm Baaack

After a long break, much house and job hunting, and many days of contemplating the sadness of living out of one's car, I now have not only a roof over my head but also a steady internet connection here in Atlanta. So I have returned to blog on as regular a basis as I can; which is to say, probably not often; I will shortly be starting a new job that will demand most of my time.

I've finally caught up on everyone else's blogs, and am happy to see that Albany stays the same extremely corrupted place in my absence. Oh, wait, is that something I should be happy about?

On that note, I would like to take a moment to say list the things I miss about Albany.

1) Jerry Jennings. I have have to love the irony of him being called "Orange" when he attends local events like Hair of the Dog concerts, but man, that guy needs to learn the benefits of a real tan. However, the days of walking into McGeary's for lunch and seeing him there will be missed.

2) Lark Street. Oh, my god, do I wish we had Lark Street here. We have this place called Little 5 Points, but it's not the same. No place else in this world will ever live up to Bomber's in my eyes, and I got my first tattoo at Lark Tattoo, so it holds a special place in my heart.

3) The Corning Preserve. If you haven't gone for a walk here yet- why the hell not?! It's the perfect place to go on an hour lunch break and forget about work.

4) Channel 13 news.

5) Metroland. I get down here and they have this paper called "Creative Loafing", so I'm like yay! Metroland with a different name. I open it up and flip through- where is the reporting on local music? Where is the article on local happenings gone awry- and OH MY GOD, WHERE IS DAN SAVAGE? Don't take this gem for granted. Trust me, you'll miss it too if you ever leave. Creative Loafing's idea of "Best Of" is three pages of the best movies, CDs, and local clubs of 2005. Not nearly as comprehensive at Metroland's "Best of".

6) The convenience of being able to drive to Bennington, VT, Williamstown, MA, Boston, New York, Saratoga, Lake George, CT, Maine, Buffalo, Montreal, etc on a whim. Just trust me on that here. Down here if you drive long enough to get out of the suburbs, you may find a real life reenactment of the dreaded "Squeal like a piggy!" scene from Deliverance. Oh, and many of the rural counties are dry counties. Not too much else other than what's right in Atlanta unless you want to drive at least 4 hours to Savannah, although I will say, Stone Mountain is great for hiking.