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May 18, 2011

Time-Travelers' Meeting Delayed...

Just a quick note to apologize for commenters' date-of-comment changing after each added comment.

There appears to be a logic-bug in the blog software. It's a peculiar data-writing method that "BlogEngine" employs. The interface writes to a file cache before committing to the database. Then it compares each entry against the database as a parity to test for updates or deletions, after which it deletes all comments in the database for the post then iterates through the list re-inserting each again using the cache as validation. And finally, it updates the file contents from the database to ensure the two are in sync. (This also explains why sometimes there are delays for content changes in the blog as the HTTP server does not know about the cache update and may return a 304 status.)
But to further complicate things, there is a server-time offset value to adjust the displayed time in hours differently from the time zone of the where the server physically resides. Sounds good, except by 'syncing' the two data-sources, every time a new entry is made the previous time-stamps get incremented yet again.

Anyway, I changed the offset to zero. This may make the timestamp value less accurate to the author's time zone, but it should mean they won't be traveling with Dr. Who any longer. At long last, if you notice the dates are still messing up, please let me know - even if you inform me yesterday.

May 17, 2011

The Cellular Demur - Part IV

This will be the final chapter of this series. It is resolved in my mind, and should further issues from this arise, then those do not merit public attention. However, I wanted to inform those who have followed the account and expressed concern what I’ve done and offer the readers some closure to this drama.
I did contact the principal of the school, apologized for having to share, requested he maintain this as a private matter but be aware there was the possibility of an incident. I didn’t like doing that, but felt it was really the responsible choice.
Finally, I wrote this letter, which has yet to be delivered but will be sent by certified mail in the morning.
Dear [name withheld]:
In my last correspondence I made it perfectly clear I do not agree with your allegation that my daughter’s actions alone caused the damage to the phone. I further explained that you have failed to deliver an invoice, details of the repair, or any credible evidence the incident even occurred – a reasonable request since you have demanded I pay these damages. Because you refuse to provide these rational requirements, I refuse to pay your unreasonable demand.
I did not ignore or avoid this incident. When I explored the happenings however, I found many details vastly different from your description. “All the other girls” turned out to be one person, who said Rachel did not damage the phone. “We know exactly when it happened” turned out to be no one even knew there was a problem until days later. “Something broken inside the phone” turned out to be a small piece of molding from the seam of the plastic case. “The technician said Rachel’s action was the cause” turned out to be a guy at [business name withheld] who doesn’t remember, couldn’t find a record of repair and certainly never wrote an analysis.
The alleged incident occurred over a month ago, but I have received not one single plausible indication that I should pay for whatever actually happened. If you were requested to pay another parent’s demand, if that parent provided no evidence and if your inquiries turned up inconsistencies and contrary explanations, would you agree to pay? I seriously doubt you would, and it is for these reasons I will not either. It is for these reasons I said bring your evidence before a neutral court if you still feel I should restore the financial loss.
However, that is not what you have done. You left an angry, threatening and profanity-filled message on my daughter’s voicemail. You sent fourteen text messages in the middle of the night, defaming my character, criticizing how I raise my child, making racist comparisons and blaming my child for your hateful language – delivered to a number you knew went to my daughter’s device, knowing she would read it, intending to inflict emotional damage to twelve-year-old girl.
Prior to those occurrences, as I said in my last letter, I was seriously considering paying for everything out of goodwill – or at least finding some agreement that was acceptable to both sides, even though I had never been satisfied this should be my responsibility. But your actions, threats and mean-spirited behavior boggle my mind. I cannot fathom what sort of strain could exist in a reasonable adult’s life to drive that person to treat a 6th-grade girl with such disdain over a material possession and an expense of four hours’ work at minimum wage.
How much time have you and I already lost? How much is our time and our emotional sanity worth?
What has transpired has left me uncompassionate to your circumstance. I no longer want to talk to you after such action, and I certainly will not instruct my daughter to give you additional methods to contact me.
This is why I am asking you to let go of this situation. You have already received your payment in the exercise of vindictive actions against a little girl who had no forethought to cause you harm. Even if my assessment is wrong and she is solely responsible for damaging the phone, it was neither intentional nor malicious.
Can you claim the same? Yes, you have received your payment. Let us call a truce and walk away before this escalates beyond its already unreasonableness.
But if you are not satisfied – and if you still seek vengeance, remuneration or whatever you believe it is required for your contentment, I ask you to conduct yourself in a civil manner, file your grievance with the court, but do not contact this family.
Let there be no misunderstanding. Do not speak, write, text, send pictures, email, facebook-poke, use third-party parlay or exploit any other form of correspondence. My tolerance is at an end, and any contact will be considered further harassment. My response will be to seek a Victim’s Protective Order against you on behalf of my daughter and to request the District Attorney file criminal charges against you for violating Oklahoma Statutes §21-1172 and §21-1173.
I hope you hear and understand my position. I hope this will end. I implore you to stop. No more name-calling; no more lecturing; no more harassing my daughter.
In one of your text messages you said, “Let’s deal with this.” I agree. You feel we’ve wronged you because of a broken phone. We say it was a no-fault accident and part of the cost of ownership. We say you have harassed and emotionally harmed a young girl. I can only imagine your response because frankly I don’t want to know it.
It rains on the just and the unjust alike, whichever side you see us be. But let’s deal with it; damages exist on both sides. It is time to let it go. No more harm need be done.
In Stern Resolution,
Dj Hackney

May 16, 2011

The Cellular Demur - Part III

Blocking incoming phone calls and blocking texts are two different entries with my phone provider I have recently discovered. As an afterthought, this makes sense to be me to have a more granular control over the services. However, when the barrage of texts hit my daughter's phone from the angry mother character of this "reality blog" series, I discovered that I had not properly requested the restriction. This has since been remedied, and I have been pleasantly informed I can manage blocking from my online account settings.
Technological-win aside, the person involved has clearly chosen the method of bullying and harassment rather than appealing to the civil court process. As frustrating as having to endure her hate-filled words is, this is an important coming-of-age lesson for Rachel. We don't throw the word "racism" lightly around my house, but when this woman's text compared our "running from responsibility" to behavior expected from only a particular ethnicity, that word became an acceptable label to use in this situation.
Moreover, Rachel is being baptized by fire in the lessons that some people really are not interested in resolving their problems, that ignorant and angry mishandling of an issue will worsen it, and that bullies are not limited to school yards and locker rooms. It is an unfortunate truth that there are resentful, ungrateful people walking among us. Rachel is beginning to understand why character and ethics really matter, as well as why choosing friends wisely and excluding trouble-makers from association is not merely a parental rant. (In fairness, the child-friend is as much a victim here, but outside the scope of our capacity to help.)
My preteen's grasp on authority figures, their role and their responsibility has been given a fresh understanding. Further, her mindfulness of how to respond properly to their solecistic behavior has been made anew as well. Rachel became frustrated between knowing she should give proper respect to an adult and tolerating a belligerent berating. She became greatly relieved when I told my daughter that after listening patiently it was okay to hang-up on this woman once she spoke hatefully or used profanity as a direct insult.
Gossip is another hard lesson. It has occurred at a minimum at her school, and I've encouraged Rachel to discuss the issue with no one, not even close and trusted peers. She can, of course, talk about it with family members, but I don't want her to exacerbate the case by drawing attention to it among those who have personal interaction with the girl or her mother. And I understand her temptation to vent and acknowledge the possible irony of my request while I write this blog.
There are lessons learned and many still in learning. Yet, sadly this circumstance is not over, I fear. I will probably have to write one more letter, a short and simple cease-harassment demand. I may have one of my attorney friend's draft it on official letterhead. But I need to make it clear that without a court summons I am no longer willing to discuss or consider this matter; to me it is closed. I hope further legal restraints are not required.
As an aside, I'd like to say this is difficult for me to take such a strong stance on such a simple issue. This is in part because I see this only as a misunderstanding which logically should be easy to resolve between reasonable parties. Also, I force myself to consider the Scriptural charge to avoid lawsuits and "give my cloak too" when the response "just sue me" becomes my mood. But these spiritual concepts referenced are not preclusions of the legal process, but rather about character, attitude and conflicts within the church itself. After careful thought, I have concluded my legal stance is aligned with my faith.
Finally, I note there will be little occasion for our paths to cross for an incident to occur, save one very important event. Next week is the 6th-grade graduation ceremony. Should the "angry mother" whisper and point, tell her friends her side, but remain distant and congenial, this would be completely copacetic. However, after her technological aggression, the odds of a confrontation seem high. I hate to involve the school in a private matter, but I may have to warn the principal of the potential issue.
I admit my own uncertainty of how best to proceed. As part of this forum, I welcome an open discussion and suggestions; however, if you do have comments to contribute, please keep them constructive. Comments on her character or speaking poorly of her actions are not welcome. While I disagree with what she has done, I won't participate in or permit defaming conduct. Thanks in advance for you cooperation and ideas.

May 15, 2011

The Cellular Demur - Part II

In the last post, I shared a letter I wrote to a parent who had brought a grievance to me over a damaged piece of property. I joylessly concluded that resolving the issue amicably would be impossible because the other parent was closed-minded and unwilling to share in the responsibility to verify what had actually occurred – both during the event and for the necessary steps afterwards.
Truth be told, I feel like I failed in this situation. While the clock cannot be put back and also while denying funds is justified, I had hoped for a better finale to this scene. Unfortunately, I was unable to overcome the other side’s perspective of the circumstance.
Perspective in this scenario oddly reminded me of Braveheart. My incident had no violence and no blue-faced conscription to remind me of the film. However, the perspective and undeniable certainty of being right is what brought this historic movie to mind.
As most know, during the late thirteenth century the Scots rebelled against their English rulers. As depicted in the film, the ruling English nobility treated its occupied citizenry in some awfully horrid ways. I sometimes try to think of the film from England’s perspective, but get caught up in the story and lose my academic effort. However, even though the English are wrong for the atrocities they do, the individuals who rape, punish by torture and terrorize the Scots really believe it is their right and/or duty to perform these acts – and hold no remorse or regret, justified in their own minds for these actions.
It is difficult to imagine the lack of conscience and the audacity to perform the droit du seigneur. Stealing a husband’s new wife before his very presence seems unthinkable in our modern culture. But according to historians, this tradition can be traced at least 3000 years prior to the setting of Braveheart. A twist of religious corruption combined with valuing a group of people as less than human allowed most English lords of the time to be completely convinced there was nothing wrong or invalid with this practice. Thus, the use of force and violence to defend it and other mistreatments were simply part of law and order in their view.
To segue from British history to my incident of a broken phone, I noticed this same undeniable right of something owed when negotiating with the mother with whom I tried to resolve the issue. She was unyielding in her perspective of what was proper. There was only one acceptable way to handle the issue, and she was unyielding to the point of hurling insults and character defamations at me and my daughter to force her perspective of justice for the damage. Even after I delivered the written letter (shared in Part I), this mother contacted my daughter yet again, spewing horrible words and insults. She somehow viewed the use of acrimony was simply part of her defendable actions to claim "justice" from her unswayable perspective.
I didn’t recognize her unwillingness to consider anything other than her own perspective until we had traveled too far down the path. She now feels that I lied about things I never actually said, but from her perspective she heard my negotiation how she wanted to hear it.
Knowledge and what to do with it are separate things. I don’t know if recognizing her obdurate view sooner would have made any difference in the outcome and honestly doubt any difference would have resulted. However, by not seeing it sooner and making the attempt to acknowledge and empathize from her perspective, part of the failed resolve lies on my own shoulders. Blame aside, the experience nonetheless has made me rethink how I enter negotiations in the future.

May 10, 2011

The Cellular Demur - Part I

I plan to express my thoughts about an unfortunate incident - really a series of incidents. However, I have so many thoughts I believe I will make this initial posting only a synopsis of the events, but I will not yet confess any evaluation or my self-analysis in response to these issues. I have made several notes about my personal observations and have outlined my second posting on the topic to try and remain honest in lieu of any feedback or discussion that may occur before completing the continued portion.
At any rate, I believe the best way to describe what happened (at least from my perspective) is to publish the letter I wrote and mailed today. I'm quite confident the recipient does not read my blog nor are the details explicit enough to reveal any person's identity other than my daughter's and mine. So, without further ado - the letter:
Dear [name removed]:
I am writing in reference to your allegation that my daughter Rachel damaged your daughter’s mobile phone on or about [date removed]. We have spoken on a few occasions but have yet to come to either an agreement or consensus of what happened. Despite your expression that I have agreed to pay for the damages, that statement is not true.
The professed damage to the phone occurred at your residence under your supervision. The phone allegedly was damaged during a horse-play incident involving three girls somewhere between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock in morning. Yet you claim my daughter was the only vandal in the group. Nevertheless, the mobile phone in Rachel’s care had been tampered with by your daughter, albeit without permanent damage. That said; my daughter agrees with portions of your account but does not consider her actions, even the parts which are in accord with your statement, could have caused the suspected damage.
Five days passed after the incident before you contacted me. You said the other girls claimed it was solely Rachel’s fault; however, when I contacted the girl present (other than your daughter), she expressed to me she did not believe Rachel damaged the phone. I asked you for further evidence Rachel was responsible. You told me you would have a technician examine it and give me a written report of what caused the damage. I also came personally to your home to inspect the phone, where I took pictures of the supposed damage. At my arrival, you immediately left the front yard and refused to speak to me, leaving me to correspond with your daughter. Finally, you have admitted that neither you nor your daughter purchased this phone and hold no financial investment in the item.
Several weeks later, you called to tell me a technician examined the phone and found the damage was definitely Rachel’s fault; however, I have yet to receive a written analysis. Further, when asked for the business and name of the technician, you were unable to provide such imperative details. There is no invoice for services performed or even an estimate for work pending.
To date, I have received no quantifiable evidence or material witness that my daughter is responsible for this incident. I only have your claim of what happened. Based on this, it is impossible to know whether Rachel is responsible for the damage, whether the damage happened at the time you declare, or even whether the phone has suffered damage at all. I cannot hand you thirty (30) dollars simply because you demand it.
I am not without compassion; however. I want you to know I did believe the phone was damaged at the party, but I was uncertain about the blame. Yet I declared if I could know she was indeed responsible, even in part, I would make the appropriate and proportional restitution. Further, I actually considered replacing the phone with a new model, as a gesture of goodwill and sympathy, regardless of Rachel’s degree of fault – as I understand this repair might be a financial difficulty for you.
Nonetheless, recent events have given me reason not to show you generosity. Your belligerent and profane tirade left as a voicemail on my twelve-year-old daughter’s phone line has prompted me to consider the legitimacy of this entire situation. A person who would cuss, harass and threaten a minor child over an unsubstantiated demand for thirty dollars might also be the type person to fabricate a tale to elicit either guilt or sympathy from others for the sole purpose of swindling money.
At this juncture, I refute all your demands, and I refuse to compensate you in any way. Further, because you are not the owner of the property, you have no business to contact me, my daughter or any person I know in regards to this matter. Should you choose to continue your harassment, I will petition all legal authorities, both civil and criminal, to prohibit your menacing behavior.
If you still believe you are due remuneration, then you will have to file your grievance in a Small Claims Court. However, know that should you choose this course of action, I will counterclaim for my lost time, wages and costs to respond to your baseless suit and potentially seek damages for loss to credit reputation.
I am deeply saddened by this incident. I told both girls that I did not want what happened to impact their friendship and that the adults would figure out how to make this right. But I also explained to both of them that to resolve a conflict a logical process and verification of events are undeniable requirements. Despite my encouragement, the girls’ association grew cold immediately after the conflict became known. Your refusal to provide any evidence, your unyielding demands without compromise and your disrespectful treatment of everyone involved has made not only this simple financial issue impossible to resolve but also destroyed the friendship of two young girls. That loss is far more excessive than the paltry thirty dollars.
     Dj Hackney

May 2, 2011

A Righteous Kill

I woke my daughter this morning with the words, “I have the most wonderful sad news.” Of course, I was referring to the military strike which killed Osama bin Laden. However, I phrased it this way on purpose – to promote a discussion about the positives and negatives of this event, to think realistically and philosophically about what had transpired.
There has not been a more despised enemy of America since Hitler. So, it is no surprise at the jubilant reaction of so many when President Obama announced the death of the mastermind of the 9/11 attack and many other terrorist plots around the world, including the attack on the USS Cole and the embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya. Osama’s crimes against America (and the world) were heinous, malevolent and cold. That said; I needed my daughter to understand what the celebration should be about – and it is not because a human being had been killed.
Don’t misunderstand me on either side of this topic. I believe that bin Laden’s death serves justice, that he deserved a death sentence and that capturing him was an improbable option which would have further promoted the terrorists’ cause. But it is not right to celebrate and revel in another person’s death, no matter who they were or what they did. There is important distinction between justice and vengeance – even when the resulting consequence is the same for both aspirations.
Moreover, as a Christian, I trust the scripture passage of John 14:6 where Jesus states that no one enters Heaven without going through Him. I doubt few Christians would argue that bin Laden will enter Heaven, even those who follow Christian dualism or those who believe in an all-saving God. But because of my specific view of how this life and the afterlife reconcile, bin Laden’s death without knowledge and belief in Christ is personally very sad.
Perhaps even more importantly, I believe that Christ’s sacrifice, a Holiday celebrated just one week prior to this event, paid for all sins, including those of this mass murderer and enemy of our nation. God had already forgiven (or offered forgiveness for) his crimes – even as heinous, malevolent and cold as they were. Neither I nor any other citizen of America has higher authority than God; thus, for me not to offer forgiveness for bin Laden’s hate is a direct violation of God’s will – at least as I interpret Christian philosophy. For me, to celebrate this radical Muslim’s death is wrong. For me, this type of harboring of hatred is actually a self-afflicted poisoning of my spiritual relationship with God. (You may disagree, but I will concede the debate and let you take it up with God directly.)
However, applauding the soldiers and trusting this action suggests our martial presence in Arabic countries may soon be unnecessary is not wrong. Celebrating the justice bin Laden’s death brings about and delighting in the trust of a more secure nation is not wrong. Reveling in a military victory that means my loved ones, my neighbors and this country’s service men and women are less likely to suffer and may live without terrorism is not wrong. This is what we celebrate with the news of bin Laden’s death, and it is important that my daughter be able to distinguish the difference.
It is also important that my daughter not be sheepishly na├»ve. In a culture of zero-tolerance everything, it seems to be harder and harder to understand motive from behavior and premise from policy. I must teach my child that war is not a desired thing, but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary. I need her to understand that violence is not the answer, but sadly there are some for whom nothing else is. To permit these types of people to terrorize and reign through slavery of invisible chains is a greater harm than fighting back, to continue the right of life and liberty sometimes comes at the cost of life and liberty, and to make choices between the lesser of the evil options is occasionally what this world forces us to do – these are the sad realities it is my duty to convey with the proper discernment to my daughter.
These are not simple ideas, and they are often accompanied with a flood of confusing emotions. My hope is for her to develop the intellectual and spiritual maturity to know today’s event was indeed a righteous killing but it is not for our enemy’s death that we celebrate; instead we celebrate justice and the security of our future. I also pray this insight finds its way into the hearts of all of Americans.
May God bless you and those you love.