Daily Update: Monday, April 20th, 2015

04-20 - 420 and 04-20 - Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Boston Marathon

We have no Saints to honor today, so we will note that today is 4-20 (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 which killed 11 workers and caused a major environmental disaster. As today is the Third Monday in April, today is the date of the 2015 Boston Marathon, and today is the birthday of my Internet friend Sonya in Colorado.

Since today is the 20th day of the 4th month, today is 4-20, or 420 (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The legend goes that a group of students at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California in 1971 who called themselves the Waldos would meet after school to smoke marijuana at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur. By the time everyone would arrive, it was usually 4:20 in the afternoon; intent on developing their own discreet language, they made 420 code for a time to get high, and its use spread among members of an entire generation. April 20 has evolved into a counterculture holiday, when people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. On a much more serious note, it was five years ago that the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. The subsequent investigation into the explosion found a failure in the blowout preventer. After burning for something under two days, the rig sank; it took some three months to cap the well, and the Gulf of Mexico will feel the effects of the massive oil spill for years, if not decades, to come. Today is also the Third Monday in April, and that means that today is the date of the annual Boston Marathon. Begun in 1897 and inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. It is one of five World Marathon Major Events (with the other events held in London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City). The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) manages this event, and amateur and professional runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon each year, braving the hilly New England terrain and varying weather to take part in the race. The event attracts an average of about 20,000 registered participants each year. In the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996, the number of participants reached 38,000. While there are cash prizes awarded to the winners of the marathon, most of the runners participate for the accomplishment of having run the race at all. On the negative side, in 1980 Rosie Ruiz came out of nowhere to win the women’s race; a subsequent investigation concluded that Ruiz had skipped most of the race and blended into the crowd about one mile from the finish line, where she then ran to her apparent victory. And in 2013 the race was marred by the explosion of two bombs in the spectator section near the finish line, hours after the front-runners finished the race, but while thousands were still running. Three people died, with many people suffering dire injuries; a police officer and one of the bombers were killed in the subsequent manhunt, and the other bomber has been found guilty but not yet sentenced. On the positive side, Dick and Rick Hoyt completed their 31st Boston Marathon in 2014 when Dick was 73 and Rick was 52. Rick was born with cerebral palsy in 1962; in 1977, he and his father began to compete in road races and marathons, with Dick pushing Rick in his wheelchair. When asked about their motivation to continue racing, they both say that they hope to prove to people all over the world that disabled individuals should not be left in the corner and forgotten about, but rather included so that they can have the life experiences others are so lucky to have. A bronze statue in honor of the Hoyts was dedicated on April 8, 2013, near the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. They did not finish the 2013 race (due to the bombing), and the 2014 race was their last as team runners; Dick was the Grand Marshal for the 2015 race, and Rick was in the race, pushed by Bryan Lyons, who has been with the pair since 2009. Today is also the birthday of my Internet friend Sonya, although I have no idea if she is celebrating her birthday in 4-20 style.

My first alarm went off, but my second one did not, so I woke up on my third backup alarm, one half hour later than usual. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and Richard gathered up the trash and put the trash can out on the curb. We headed off to work, remembering to put the cat carrier in the back of the truck for Deborah. Once at the casino I ate a vegetable plate in ADR, and called the pharmacy to renew two prescriptions. After 3:00 am I fasted, only drinking water. When we clocked in, Richard was at first on Let It Ride, then when that table closed he was on the $5.00 Blackjack table. I started off on Mississippi Stud, closed that table, was on the Sit-Down Blackjack table, closed that table, then became the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, adding the reopened Let It Ride table to my last rotation. After work Deborah borrowed the cat carrier. (She and her roommate Virginia have a pregnant cat that Deborah will be taking to the no-kill shelter.)

After work we went over to the Clinic; I had blood drawn (and a urine specimen taken) for lab work ahead of my Appointment with the Renal Specialist on April 30th. I also went across the waiting room to the Pharmacy and picked up my prescriptions. When we left the Clinic I had Richard go through the the drive-through at McDonalds to get me lunch, which I ate on our way home. Once home I read the morning paper. Richard was at first annoyed with himself that he had forgotten to stop at Wal-Mart Vision Center to have his glasses fixed, but then he found that his right lens had popped out at some point before we left for work today, and that he spent all day with no lens at all on the right side of his glasses. (He said he had wondered why the tables seemed sideways.) He mowed the front and back yards, and I went to take a nap. While I was sleeping he went down to Wal-Mart Vision Center and got his glasses fixed. I woke up at 5:30 pm, got my lunch salad to eat for dinner, and proceed to produce today’s Daily Update. Tonight our New Orleans Pelicans will play the second game of their series with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Playoffs (our Pelicans trail 0 -1 in the series), and I will report the score in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Anselm, Bishop and Doctor, and Grounation Day for the Rastafarians. I will wake up half an hour early and drive myself to work in the car (with Richard following in the truck), and I will sign the Early Out list. On my breaks I will address a birthday card to my brother Mike in Seattle. If I do not get out early, I will come home and take a nap in the afternoon before leaving for Lafayette at 5:00 pm. If I do get out early, I will go home, take a nap, then head to Lafayette about lunchtime. Our #1 LSU Baseball team (they made their way back to #1 in the current rankings from Baseball America) will play a single home game with Tulane tomorrow evening, and at 7:00 pm I will be at the Barnes & Noble in Lafayette to attend the Third Tuesday Book Club meeting to discuss The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon comes to us from Rubin Carter, American boxer. Born in 1937 in Clifton, New Jersey, he acquired a criminal record and was sentenced to a juvenile reformatory for assault shortly after his 14th birthday. Carter escaped from the reformatory in 1954 and joined the Army. A few months after completing infantry basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he was sent to West Germany. While in Germany Carter began to box for the United States Army. In May 1956 he received an “Undesirable” discharge, having failed to complete his three-year term of enlistment. He was arrested less than a month later for his 1954 escape from the reformatory and sentenced to an additional nine months. Shortly after being released Carter committed a series of muggings, including assault and robbery of a middle-aged black woman. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was imprisoned in East Jersey State Prison (formerly Rahway State Prison) in Avenel, New Jersey, a maximum-security facility, where he remained for the next four years, and spent time in the Rahway and Trenton state prisons. After his release from prison in September 1961, Carter became a professional boxer. At 5 ft 8 in, Carter was shorter than the average middleweight, but he fought all of his professional career at 155–160 lb. His aggressive style and punching power (resulting in many early-round knockouts) drew attention, establishing him as a crowd favorite and earning him the nickname “Hurricane.” After he defeated a number of middleweight contenders such as Florentino Fernandez, Holley Mims, Gomeo Brennan, and George Benton the boxing world took notice. The Ring first listed him as one of its “Top 10″ middleweight contenders in July 1963. Carter’s career record in boxing was 27 wins, 12 losses, and one draw in 40 fights, with 19 total knockouts (8 KOs and 11 TKOs), with his last fight being in June of 1966. On June 17, 1966, at approximately 2:30 a.m., two males entered the Lafayette Bar and Grill at East 18th Street at Lafayette Street in Paterson, New Jersey and started shooting. The bartender and a male customer were killed instantly, a severely injured female customer died of her wounds a month later, and a third customer lost the sight of one eye. Carter was driving a white car, which matched the description of eyewitnesses; he and his passenger, John Artis, were brought in and convicted of the crime despite the lack of fingerprints, the lack of gunshot residue testing, questionable testimony by the witnesses for the prosecution, and solid alibis. Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but jurors recommended that each defendant receive a life sentence for each murder. The judge imposed two consecutive and one concurrent life sentence on Carter and three concurrent life sentences on Artis. In 1974 the witnesses recanted their testimony, and with the support of several celebrities (including Bob Dylan, who co-wrote the song “Hurricane” and played it for Carter in prison), a retrial was granted. However, the second trial resulted in conviction again for both Carter and Artis, and the judge imposed a double life sentence for Carter and a single life sentence for Artis. In 1976 Carter was temporarily released on bail to seek a new trial; a news story that he had allegedly beaten a female supporter of his cause into unconsciousness dried up his celebrity support, and he was returned to prison. Artis was paroled in 1981, and the Supreme Court of New Jersey upheld the convictions of Carter in 1982. Three years later Carter’s attorneys filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court. In 1985 Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted the writ, noting that the prosecution had been “predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure,” and set aside the convictions. Carter, now 48 years old, was freed without bail in November 1985, having spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Prosecutors appealed Sarokin’s ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and filed a motion with the court to return Carter to prison pending the outcome of the appeal. The court denied this motion; the prosecutors appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. Prosecutors could have tried Carter (and Artis) a third time, but decided not to, and filed a motion to dismiss the original indictments. A judge granted the motion to dismiss, bringing an end to the legal proceedings. Carter moved to Toronto, Ontario, and was executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) from 1993 until 2005. Carter received the Abolition Award from Death Penalty Focus in 1996. That same year he was arrested when Toronto police mistakenly identified him as a suspect in his thirties believed to have sold drugs to an undercover officer. He was released after the police realized their error. Carter resigned from the AIDWYC when they declined to support his protest of the appointment (to a judgeship) of Susan MacLean, who was the prosecutor of Canadian Guy Paul Morin, who served ten years in prison for rape and murder until exonerated by DNA evidence. Carter often served as a motivational speaker. On October 14, 2005, he received two honorary Doctorates of Law, one from York University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and one from Griffith University (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), in recognition of his work with AIDWYC and the Innocence Project. In March 2012, while attending the International Justice Conference in Burswood, Western Australia, Carter revealed that he had terminal prostate cancer. At the time, doctors gave him between three and six months to live. Beginning shortly after that time, John Artis lived with and cared for Carter (died 2014): “Hate made me a prisoner but love set me free.”

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