Yesenia Aguilar Gutierrez has been charged with felony to commit domestic violence in front of a minor as the result of an automobile accident arising out of the negligence of the driver, Gutierrez. Here is the LINK to the original story in the Willamette Week – Online from November 11, 2009. And here is a LINK to a follow-up article on OregonBlue.com with information about the origin of the law under which Gutierrez was charged.

If you read both the articles (no, I’m not going to quote them both here) I think that you will agree that the Washington County Assistant DA Jason Weiner has gone wacko. I can see thousands of criminal cases now being brought because a minor has witnessed an automobile accident.

This case will ultimately be thrown out by any appeals court that sees it. In the meantime, Gutierrez has to live with a possible felony conviction looming in the air. Shame on the Washington County DA’s office for even considering bringing this case against any person. It is a waste of tax money, it is a crime against Gutierrez, and it is just plain bad practice by the DA’s office.

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For up to the next two weeks I have in my custody a privately published book. I would like to own the book; but it is a little out of my book budget at around $350. The book is titled: In Memory of Dorothy Ierne Wilde: Oscaria. Dolly Wilde was the niece of the late 19th century author, Oscar Wilde. Although she never met her famous uncle, she exhibited many of the traits of Oscar.

The “In Memory” is referenced extensively in the biography of Dolly, “Truly Wild,” by Joan Schenkar. One critic, Edmund White, characterized the biography as follows: “Schenkar has lifted the veil to reveal a sophisticated, overheated lesbian world in Paris in the first decades of the twentieth century. This is a great story, beautifully told.”

After Dolly died at a relatively young age in 1941 (age about 46) and after the end of World War II, her lover and friend Natalie Barney solicited writings from Dolly’s friends and had the memorial book privately printed. There are about 14 contributions, both in English and French, many by some of the more famous literary and artistic persons of Dolly’s day.

Except for her letters, Dolly wrote very little. Had she taken pen in hand as her famous uncle did, she would have been a well known person today. Here is a brief sample of her writing taken from a letter to her friend “Emily.”

“Dear Emily, Your letter arrived with my breakfast tray and a beam of sunlight cut the pages like a golden paper knife. I lit a voluptuous cigarette and in the fresh morning solitude—before the incidents of the day have broken me into segments—I read your lovely words.”

I am looking forward to leisurely reading through the book over the next few days before I have to return it to the library. I acquired the book via an inter-library loan.

A friend who writes an education blog (he is a retired teacher and a member of our local school board) suggested a book: How to Grade for Learning, K-12, by Ken O’Connor Published by Corwin Press, and now in its third edition, copyright 2009. The author describes a grading policy for Standards-Based Education.

I was struck by two things in the book. The first is that the creation and issuance of grades by teachers in the K-12 range is a very complex procedure. This is especially true because of a lack of any kind of regional let alone national consistency in grading practices. The second concept that struck me was that Mr. O’Connor has a very clear, though complex, formula for a system of creating grades at all levels of school.

I am not a professional educator, nor do I have any Education college classes under my belt, but I see here a fine system that should be considered by all school districts and state boards of education in our country.

A prudent shopper can find a new copy of the book (I looked on amazon.com) starting at around $30.00. I was even more prudent and acquired the loan of the book through an Inter-Library Loan at my local library.

Any person interested in education and grades, or has children in school, or is a professional teacher, you can benefit from the ideas in this book. If nothing else it will get you thinking about the grading procedures. You may even become an advocate for Mr. O’Connor’s theories.

Afghanistan has a population of about 28,000,000 which is slightly more than the State of Texas. Afghanistan and Texas are about the same area.

One of Afghanistan’s most telling statistics is not its area or population but its Infant Mortality Rate. It is the 3rd worst in the world; 151 deaths per 1000 live births. Let me pile on the negative facts. The fertility rate is 6.53 births per woman, the 4th highest in the world. China is at 1.79; India at 2.72; and the USA rate is at 2.05.

Literacy rate in Afghanistan is only 28% with male 43% and female 12%. The economy is 116th out of 228 countries in the world. GDP, Purchasing Power Parity per capita is $800 per year. The same figure in the Unites States is $47,000. The Afghan commercial bank prime lending rate is 14.92%. Electricity production and consumption are 150th and 145th of 228, respectively, in the world. In exports, Afghanistan is 173rd in the world.

This places Afghanistan in with the worst countries of Africa (the worst in economic and related matters).

Certainly we need to offer all the assistance we can to these people. We are partly to blame for their current situation. We must control Al Qaeda and keep the Taliban from regaining political control of the country. This won’t happen with troops alone.

The phrase “nation building” has been tossed around a lot; that is what is needed here.  It will do no good to keep fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban with troops. They will out last us and all the allies we can muster. We must solve these real problems of poverty, the abysmal economy, and infant mortality and fertility rates.

Maybe it is not possible to have success with any military commander at the head of this operation. These is no military victory to he had here.

The statistics are from the CIA World Factbook.

On November 30, 1900, Oscar Wilde died. By all accounts, he was one of the most important writers on the late 19th century. He spent two years in a British prison because of his homosexual life style. When he was released from prison he immediately moved to France never to return to England or Ireland, his native home. He died three years later.

While in prison he wrote a long narrative, De Profundis. Later, while in France, he wrote one longer poem, Ballad of Reading Goal. These two works ended his creative output.

There is so very much that can be written here about the man and his work. But where do I start?  I started reading his works chronologically, with the last first and then backward in time. I have so far gotten through the two works mentioned above. I was both saddened and exhilarated by what I read; saddened because of the tragedy that was the end of his life; exhilarated because of the excellence of the writings.

On my desk are two library book by/about Oscar Wilde; the first is his biography by Richard Ellmann, and the second a book of Fairy Tales by Wilde. In my brief case is a copy of his play, The Importance of Being Earnest.

So how did I all of a sudden find an interest in the life and works of Oscar Wilde?  I was talking to an internet friend about this and that. She mentioned that her 50th high school reunion was coming up soon. She told me that one of the more famous fellow graduates was Joan Schenkar, a writer, mostly of plays. I acquired a copy of one of her collections and was delighted by the first one I read. I looked around at what else she had written and discovered a biography of Dolly Wilde (Truly Wilde), a niece of Oscar Wilde. It is a great story, very well written, about Dolly’s life in the first 40-some years of the 20th century.

While Oscar’s life crowned the last half of the 19th century, Dolly’s was in the literary and arts life of England and France (London and Paris). She, like her famous uncle, was homosexual with her most famous lover being Natalie Barney who entertained in her salon the literary elite who came to and lived in Paris. Dolly had a talent for writing that was confined to letters and notes. They are yet to be collected into one publication.

How can one read about Dolly Wilde without jumping into the works of her uncle whom Dolly resembled in many ways, although she never, I believe, met him? Dolly was born about the time her uncle entered prison.

I look forward to learning more about Oscar and reading his many and varied works. As for Dolly, I am waiting for a copy of “In Memory of Dorothy Ierne Wilde:  Oscarina” to come on an inter-library loan. This publishing of this memorial book arranged for by Natalie Barney. While it was privately printed, it did go out for public sale in two editions of probably less that a total of 500 copies. Barney solicited input from Dolly’s friends that were collected and published in the book. Nearly all of the copies are in private collections or in public libraries. Purchasing one of the few copies for sale takes about $350. Thanks heavens for inter-library loans.

Since I was a kid, I always considered myself a Republican. Even into middle age I was there. I had even contributed a few dollars to Reagan’s election campaign. Sometime around the election of President Clinton my thinking changed. Since that time I have leaned toward the Democratic Party, and have mostly voted Democratic.

Today I made it official. I mailed in a change to my voter registration and designated myself a Democrat. One of the main reasons I did this at this time is in Oregon (where I live), in order to vote in the primary, a voter needs to be registered to a party. I could vote on non-partisan ballot measures and candidates, but not for the major candidates.

Oregon’s Congressman Wu of the First District will be facing some competition in the Spring 2010 primary election from David Robinson. Robinson has a great background which I think could make him a good Representative for Oregon. He is not an attorney which is a big plus in my book for anyone running for the Congress or Senate. Wu is an attorney.

In the 109th Congress, 218 members list their occupation as the law (according to the Congressional Quarterly). That’s a lot of lawyers. The next most frequent category of background is listed in the same source as public service/politics. Robinson fits this category.

I don’t have a feel yet as to how strong a candidate Dave Robinson will be; but I will be watching.

How does a person fill his (or her) time when retired, or mostly retired? When I mostly retired about 4 years ago, I was looking for something I could do that brought me in contact with people. I’m not a hermit, although I was a long-haul truck driver for several years. I enjoyed some of the solitude of that life, but craved being with people.

I discovered an organization near my home that fit my needs; and I was able to contribute to the benefit of that organization. I started volunteering three hours a week. Now I am up to ten to twenty hours a week.

The organization is Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, a nature preserve and education center located in Hillsboro, Oregon. Some of the jobs I do are a greeter for the education center, giving short talks to visitors about our exhibition center, watering plants, harvesting seeds, planting, cutting weeds, photography, etc. I am also very active in the organization’s annual fundraiser, the Tweet of Dweams.

I also volunteer a couple hours a week at the Hillsboro Police Department creating a report on all the graffiti incidents within the city. I have started attending the Public Policy Forum of Washington County, the weekly lunches with talks be various interesting people. And. . . I have signed up to work on a political campaign. More on that latter.

I also volunteer within my family. My daughter-in-law is going to college full time, so about three days a week I get to ramrod two young grandkids. Today I am spending the time at home with a sick one.

There are large numbers of organizations in any community that need volunteers. Go for it!