Friday, February 16, 2007

Curse of the firstborn Birthday

Last year on Samantha's 4th birthday, I ran into this incident, a shooting and murder of a 16-year-old boy. It happened in the morning, so by the time the afternoon/evening rolled around I had been able to get removed from the investigation activities and try to give my daughter a fun BD party. She might've been able to tell that daddy was a little different, but I gave it my best to act "normal".

Yesterday was my nephew's 2nd birthday, and my brother had quite the stressors too. He works for ConAgra foods, and was recently promoted to the grocery division. Well, in the last week there have been two Class 1 product recalls -- one for meatballs and the other for Peter Pan peanut butter, which you've probably heard about on the news. He's only been in the grocery division for one month, and they've had two national recalls. One of his colleagues has been there for 20 years, and had only worked on one similar incident during that time. So of course my brother is absolutely swamped, on his son's birthday, with a huge business crisis that is not his fault, but is still his cleanup responsibility. Fun.

My birthday's in August -- I'm the firstborn. Bet my parents can't wait!

Julian news

Since I brought up the shooting, might as well mention a couple of the other related events from the past week. First, we've noticed a return of the graffiti in our neighborhood, some of it even on the school grounds. After repeatedly following the city's instructions on how to report this, and repeatedly being ignored, Jamie called the school directly.

Jamie got connected to a vice-principal, and urged her to prioritize the removal of the graffiti, especially after what happened to Julian. The VP answered, "Julian who??". Jamie reminded her of the shooting and death that happened less than 3 months ago, less than 50 feet from the new graffiti. The VP said, "Oh, that. Well, it was never proved that the incident was gang-related."

EXCUSE ME!??!? The boy was killed by confirmed gang members -- fact. Julian himself had gang connections, and used to run with gangs -- fact. Julian's tatoos were not merely decorative -- fact. How was that not gang related?

Jamie was upset enough to then call Anne Clutterbuck, who is on the Houston City Council and has been very helpful and vocal about turning around the neighborhood and the schools. Anne couldn't believe what the vice-principal had said... then Anne laid this gem on us: "Of course it was gang-related. Julian was lifting up his shirt and showing those guys his tattoos when he was killed."

I can't believe I never thought of that. Julian's shirt had no holes in it, but his chest and stomach had bullet holes. The only way this was possible is if he was lifting up his shirt when he was shot. It makes perfect sense, but I'd never figured out why his shirt was in perfect condition.

The graffiti's still there, on the baseball dugout at the high school baseball field. Their season starts soon.

As a final note on all this junk, here's a picture of a Christmas ornament we made for Julian last year. Our church displays two trees every holiday season -- one is a "family tree" and the other is a "remembrance tree". This ornament went to the latter:

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