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patience.

5 Oct

What do you get when you add my job plus my new role as Executive Director at Why The Woods?  65+ hour weeks.  Please be patient.  I promise– I will update my blog this week.  Several times.

death penalty.

20 Sep

Thirty-five states have the death penalty; fifteen do not.  New York and New Jersey abolished the death penalty as recently as 2007.  Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846.  Wisconsin in 1853.  In 2009, New Mexico abolished the death penalty.  However, it wasn’t retroactive, so two previously convicted inmates still sit on death row.

Since 1976, a total of 1226 people have been executed.  56% of the 1226 defendants executed were white, 35% were African-American, and 7% were Hispanic.  This is compared to the percentage distribution of murderers in the United States, which is 34% white, 35% black, and 30% unknown.  Also since 1976, there have been 130 people released from death row due to new evidence proving their innocence.  California, Florida, and Texas make up the states with the most death row inmates.  In total, Texas has had 463 executions– four times more than the next highest state, Virginia.  Eleven women have been executed since 1976.  1052 have died by lethal injection, 157 by electrocution, 11 by gas chamber, 3 by hanging, and 3 by firing squad.

Now, the costs.  The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the cost of sentencing murders to life imprisonment.  The average death row inmate spends 10.26 years on death row.  In North Carolina, the cost of spending a year in maximum security prison is $32,000.  When you add the costs for an inmate to spend 10.26 years on death row at $32,000 a year with the cost of actually killing him, which is $2.16 million dollars, it ends up costing about $3 million per inmate.  When you take all 1226 inmates and consider that it cost $3 million to put them on death row and then, consequently, end their lives… the total cost is $3.6 TRILLION dollars.

Most disturbing of all, since 1990 only seven countries have reported executing juveniles:  Iran, Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Pakistan, and…  the United States.  That’s right–  several countries with questionable ethics and us.  Of the thirty-five states that have the death penalty, nineteen have a minimum age eligibility of 16-years-old.  In five states the minimum age is 17-years-old.  Only eleven states have a minimum age of 18-years-old.

Really?  We’re executing juveniles?

pen pals.

15 Sep

Number 35 on the list:  Become pen pals with someone in prison.

I don’t know anything about jail or prison.  I don’t know what the difference is between the two, besides the fact that prison sounds worse.  I don’t personally know anyone in either one of them.  As someone who recently moved to an unfamiliar part of the country, I don’t even know where a jail or prison is in relation to me.  My perception is simply what I’ve learned from watching movies.  (How accurate.)

So I did what I always do:  I looked it up on Google.

There are 35 prisons in North Carolina.

There are three levels of custody:  minimum, medium, and maximum.  Minimum security prisons are composed of non-secured dormitories that are routinely patrolled by correction officers.  The prisons generally have a fence lining the perimeter, but no watch towers or roving patrol.  Inmates assigned to minimum security prisons pose the least risk to society.  Medium security prisons are composed of secure dormitories that provide housing for up to 50 inmates.  The prison typically has a double fence perimeter with armed watch towers and armed roving patrol.  Most inmates work at self-improvement programs within the prisons, as well as work programs such as prison farm operation or highway maintenance for the Department of Transportation.  Maximum security prisons are composed of cells with sliding cell doors that are operated remotely from a secure control station.  These units are utilized to confine the most dangerous inmates who are a severe threat to public safety, correctional staff, and other inmates.  Inmates placed in maximum security prisons are typically in their cells for 23 hours a day.  During their only available hour they are allowed to shower and exercise.

Read tomorrow for more information on the costs of imprisoning an individual, programs available to inmates, and the death penalty, which happens to be in effect in North Carolina.

a funny thing.

23 Aug

A funny thing happened.

Wednesday:  I stopped using the internet.  I deleted my Facebook, unplugged my wireless card, didn’t use Skype, didn’t tweet.  I was cut off.  (It was also the most productive day of work I’ve had in a long time.)

Thursday:  I met with my friend Billy Riddle, founder and President of Why The Woods.  He asked if I’d serve on his board of directors and be in charge of a bunch of things including but not limited to:  internet activities such as starting and running a Why The Wood’s Twitter and Facebook fan page.

A funny thing indeed.

In order to work on the Why The Wood’s Facebook page, I have to reactivate my Facebook page.  I haven’t had the heart to reactivate it yet.  Well, that’s a lie.  I reactivated it, pushed enter, looked at the screen once it loaded, stated out loud, “This stresses me out.” and immediately deactivated it again.  Baby steps, I suppose.  I did, however, create a Twitter page for Why The Woods.  (www.twitter.com/whythewoods)  Follow us.

From the beginning I’ve said that the “50 ways list” isn’t a strict guideline, but rather a template for how to live life.  This instance is no different.  You have to roll with the punches.  (If you would dare call something as incredibly sweet as this opportunity a “punch”.)  So, I’m back online.  Don’t tell anyone but I’m not planning on reactivating my Facebook for another couple of weeks.

So there.

facebook.

16 Aug

Number 24 on the list:  Go TV free for a year. Or turn your TV into a pot where flowers grow.

If you personally know me, you most likely know that I don’t own a TV.  I deliberately don’t own a TV, because I want to focus on things that matter, like relationships with individuals, myself, and God.  When I sit in front of the television for any period of time, my mind shuts down.  (Isn’t that the point?)  For these reasons, I could very easily do number 24 on the list.

Confession:  God does not want us to live an easy life.  (See: “Confession“)

I am the type of person that greatly values communicating.  I write long e-mails, Skype my friends in near and far away lands, call just to say hey.  I THRIVE on my relationships with other people.  As such, social networking tools have become my friend.  Gmail has become my most visited link.  I recently joined Twitter because my friend told me it was right up my alley.  I’ve become very reachable and have enjoyed reaching.

So.

I’m getting rid of the internet for the next month.  Since number 24 was mostly a useless check off the list, I tried to think of a good alternative to going TV free.  I came up with giving up the internet for a month.  How many mindless hours have I spent on the internet, wasting time?  (I’m not answering that.)  The internet is something that has become a part of our lives.

I can’t entirely give up the internet; I need it for work.  And, though I’ve done a lot of research in preparation for my month hiatus, there may be an occasion or two where I need the internet in order to figure out how to best act on something that is on the list.  Like I said before, my goal has never been to “complete” the list in its entirety, word for word.  My goal was to take part in a passion-inducing, comfort zone stretching, heart-breaking, love-flowing, getting back to the basics challenge.

I can’t entirely give up the internet.  But I can mostly give it up.  I can remove my wireless card for my laptop at home, rendering it useless.  I can deactivate my Facebook.  I can get ridiculously behind on my Google Reader reading materials.  So since I can…  I’m going to.

Starting Wednesday, August 18th, you’ll have to call me to talk to me.

(What?!)

I’ll say it again:  Starting August 18th you will have to CALL me to TALK to me.

(What?!)

confession.

12 Aug

What better way to follow up on last week’s post, where I wrote, “If this week has taught me one thing it’s that I’m genuinely ashamed to learn that I view my own sins in a much more positive light than those of someone else.”

Number 48 on the list:  Confess something you have done wrong to someone and ask them to pray for you.

Good bye, positive light.

I don’t know how to write about this one.  I took this one and made it as difficult as possible.  In that, I didn’t just confess something I did to someone.  I confessed something I did to the someone I did it to.  I don’t know how to write about this one because I’m not going to write about what I did or who I did it to.   “Confess something to someone.”  What do you even write about if you remove the “something” and the “someone”?

Confession.

Confession: I had a really easy time thinking of who to confess to.  I had a really easy time thinking of several things I had done to wrong several people.  It was difficult to narrow it down to just one.  So I didn’t.

I think if there’s something I’m learning in all of this, it’s that the difficult things are becoming less and less difficult.

There’s this home group that meets at my friend Paul’s house every Wednesday.  Yesterday we talked about Matthew 6:1-4, a passage that talks about giving.  I said that last week, while I was initially trying to write the letter to the registered sex offender, I would have given anything to just give away $100 and be done with it.  That would have been so much easier.

Confession: God does not want us to live an easy life.

I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that we have all done things to other people that no one knows about.  We’ve wronged people in ways they aren’t even aware of.  Since we’re the only humans that know every thing we’ve done, it’d be easy to just keep our wrongdoings to ourselves.

Confession: God does not want us to live an easy life.

It’d be much easier to just throw money at our problems.  But I think that was never God’s intention.  I think He intended for us to face loving people head on.  It’s not easy.  Sometimes it’s doing something that no one even knew needed to be done.  But it does need to be done.  And it hurts so good.

I confessed something to someone the other day and it hurt so good.

Confession: My soul is filled with joy when it’s not easy.  I imagine that it fills God with joy as well.

black canvas.

9 Aug

This is more difficult than one would have thought.  Obviously I knew making my way through this list would be difficult, but I never realized how draining it would be.  Draining in the most beautiful of ways, but draining nonetheless.  The kind of draining where you spend a lot of time inspecting the parts of yourself God so desperately wants to change.

I’m friends with this guy named Jason.  Jason is the teaching pastor at theHeart, which is the church I go to.  Yesterday he did a sermon titled “black canvas” which is this idea he’s been mulling over for months now.  He spoke about how we all start with this blank white canvas.  That as we go through life, we add a black mark here and a black mark there and before long, we take a step back and realize that the entire canvas is black.  (This list makes me take a step back and realize that my canvas has been black for a while now.)  But, and I think this was my favorite part, Jason went on to say that a black canvas is just a different kind of blank canvas, that it’s a blank canvas with a history, that it is the kind of blank canvas that utilizes a battered and broken history.

We ALL have a black canvas.  Perhaps that’s been the most draining part of this blog– realizing just how many layers of black paint are on my canvas.  But also realizing that that’s no longer a good enough excuse to resist being used.

* To watch a video about this very topic made by, amongst others, the talented Paul Sherar click…. HERE.