Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Good Ol' Justice System

For the most part, I believe in the power of our justice system. However, with the recent guilty verdict of Cynthia Sommer, I hope I'm never on trial for a murder I didn't commit.

Did she get new boobs with her husband's life insurance money? Yes. Did she act like a slut almost immediately following his death? By many standards, sure. Were her actions inconsistent with those of a grieving widow? Probably so. Did she live above her means both before he died and after? Most definitely.

The problem is, there was absolutely no evidence linking her to the arsenic that experts say killed her husband. No.Evidence.End of story.

I've been watching the trial coverage for the last month or so, amazed that the prosecutor was even allowed by law to charge this woman with a crime. I was positive that the jury would find her not guilty. I was wrong.

Seriously, I've been trying to imagine the anguish of losing my husband, being charged for his murder, having every man I slept with following his death testify against me on national television, go without seeing my children or parents for almost two years - and then be found guilty by twelve people that know nothing more about me.

And I'm not totally convinced that Cynthia Sommer didn't kill her husband. However, I think she was convicted before the trial even started. But, hello? Where is the consideration of reasonable doubt? I mean, isn't that the whole point? In criminal cases, don't jurors have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty (for example, credit card payments for arsenic on eBay)?

I can tell you one thing: If I were on that jury, we would have been deadlocked. There is no way in hell that I would have let a guilty verdict fly. Feeling in your gut that someone committed a crime and proving it are two different ball games. I think that people just naturally want someone to blame.

And I think these jurors made a terrible mistake.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Some of you may know that I recently became a Pawn Broker. It's not a career path that I would have thought I would choose for myself, but I'm actually enjoying it so far.

I have never pawned anything before, and never really knew how the whole process worked. For those of you that have never pawned anything, I'll briefly explain it.

First, pawning something means taking out a loan on whatever it is one may use as collateral (such as a wedding ring or television). A person comes in with something somewhat valuable, we appraise it at approximately half of what we could sell it for, and loan that amount of money at 240% APR (or 20% per month). (During part of my training, I learned that my wedding ring could be pawned for $35.00. Quite depressing - we paid a considerable amount more for it than that.) If a customer hasn't paid the interest on the loan or called in to get an extension within 90 days, we pull the item and place it up for sale. We do not run credit checks or report unpaid loans to credit agencies.

The first loan that I ever wrote was for $20.00. I tried to keep my mouth from dropping as the person training me started typing away on the computer without so much as blinking. Today, only four days into my job, I wrote a loan for $10.00 without even thinking about it. Loaning out such small amounts happens from the moment we open until the moment we close.

Let me just illustrate how much interest people are paying on these type of loans. If someone borrows $100.00, he or she is paying $20.00 per month in interest. Since the person has 90 days to pay the loan, in order to pick up his or her item would be $160.00. If the person comes in and pays all the interest, he or she can renew the loan for another 90 days. If he or she continues to renew the loan for a full year, it would take a full $240.00 to pick that item up. In fact, it would be cheaper for the customer to just sell us the ring for $100.00, and buy it back for the $200.00 we would sell it for. Crazy, huh?

Here's the thing: The more I loan, the more I get paid. But I can't help but want to tell these people that they are getting themselves caught in a vicious cycle. Can't pay a bill? Pawn a ring. Pay the interest. Eventually get the ring back. Come up short on cash for bills. Pawn the ring again. Pay outrageous interest again. Pick it up again. And on and on and on...It makes me feel terribly guilty (even though the terms are clearly marked on the pawn ticket).

As a side note, one guy came in for a $50.00 loan yesterday in order to pay a bill on time, and came in today to pay it off. You want to know how much he paid in interest for less than 24 hours? Ten bucks.

So I'm probably boring all of you to tears right now, but I had always wondered how this worked so I wanted to pass it on to you. I really am enjoying myself - which is pretty cool.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


So I got a job as a stripper. Well, not really. Just checking to see if you're paying attention.

The place I will be working, starting Monday, has a prominent sign inside that says "Let's go hunting," with Osama Bin Laden's picture above it. Any guesses?

I am really liking our new area so far. I love our cute little house, our kind-of scary neighborhood, and the fact that we have every store and restaurant we could ever need within a five-mile radius of us.

In fact, I started thinking the other day that I haven't had a tantrum since we left Germany. I haven't had the urge to blog about how annoying life sometimes is. Well, I guess that's because life is pretty nice here. I mean, I'm still trying to figure out which company to get a home phone and Internet from, why my mortgage payment book hasn't arrived (even though our first payment is due on February 1st), and why I haven't gotten a water bill yet (while fearing that it somehow got lost in the mail and the company is going to turn off the water because we "haven't paid the bill." Not to mention the fact that no one ever answers the damn phone and I have to go in to the office and wait in line for two hours to ask, "Why hasn't my water bill come in the mail?"). I'm annoyed that I have to go to the library to pay bills and that there aren't any jobs here that pay more than $8.00/hour. But other than all the normal things that most likely irritate everyone, there have been no panic attacks, no yelling at customer service representatives, and no direct orders for Scout to "get-us-the-hell-outta-here-or-else."

And I did buy my first handgun, which pretty much makes me feel like a bad-ass. And it kind of makes our kind-of scary neighborhood not so scary afterall.

I hope all of you are doing well. I really miss being able to read your blogs every day like I used to. OH YEAH! Congratulations to CalliValleyGirl! She's gettting married (which I heard via telephone from Sarah. Which shows how out of the blog loop I am). I'll be back to regular blogging and reading of blogs as soon as possible.