Judge Harold Brown Singleton


I can never have a birthday without thinking of my grandfather.  On April 19, 1971 I was a birthday present to then 65 year old Honorable Judge Harold B. Singleton of Amherst VA, representative to the Virginia House of Commons.  I was first grandchild to a Charter Member of the National Honor Society when he graduated from EC Glass High School in 1925.  He attended Lynchburg College and during that time found a matchbook in a restaurant that contained an advertisement for law books on the cover.  He ordered them and became the youngest person to ever pass the Virginia state bar exam on his first attempt.  In 1938 he opened a law firm with Lucien Shrader and in 1941 he was elected to the Virginia House of Commons for 14 years.  He authored and sponsored the legislation that made it legal to buy soft drinks in Virginia and the 1950 revisions to the state code regarding the retirement plan for Virginia state employees.

In 1964 he was appointed Judge of the Amherst District Court.  Later he became the Chief Judge of the 24th District Juvenile and Domestic relations court.  In 1957 and 1958 he was elected National President of the Lynchburg College Alumni Association and National President of the Ruritan National Civics organization in 1963.  A lifetime of great achievements and I did not learn the full extent of them until after his passing in 1994, my last year of college.  Although he took me to coat and tie lunches to shake hands with US Congressmen, growing up he was just Pop.  Although I saw him in the courtroom on a couple of occasions, something I believe none of his other grandchildren ever did, I spent most of my time with him in his extensive garden at Green Lawn, accompanied by our favorite dog Blanc.   I will return to the house on the road I knew as Rural Route 40 very soon, although it is now called Father Judge Road in his honor, to visit my 94 year old grandmother who still resides in the only home I’ve ever known my grandparents to live in.

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Major websites need to focus on making password changes easier and more intuitive.

Have you ever tried to change your password on Facebook?  Google?  Yahoo?  Did you have to do an internet search to figure out how first?  Don’t lie.  I did and I’ve been behind a keyboard for a living for 20 years now.  This unto itself creates a security issue because all of these sites (and more) recommend that users change their passwords frequently but they do not make it obvious where and how to do so.

Every site should have a prominent “Change Password” link at the top of the user account setting page.  Not buried under “security settings” or a link to be sent by email for a password reset.  Furthermore they should go to great lengths to insure their mobile apps have clearly presented options to change the account passwords and they should automatically log the account out from any other device immediately when the password is change.

Why the major sites have not made password changes and management a top priority is a bit of a mystery.  I feel it may have to do with the fear of additional cost of support that may be required for users who change their passwords and then forget the new one or have trouble syncing passwords over multiple devices.  Either way the scenario is the fault of the site designers who do not make changing and managing passwords more obvious and intuitive.

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Bike shed is getting full.

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Jury Duty – Oakwood Home Invasions

I don’t know of a better reason to return to this neglected blog than this. I got about $272 for this 9 days of “service”, as Judge Hight put it.  I haven’t said much to anyone about it (that I didn’t see during the first hours after the verdict) aside from amy regular lunch crew at work.

On Tuesday, March 18th I appeared for my first ever jury duty summons. Yay.  I was one of 40 people who went to courtroom 703 when Judge Hight called for a jury pool. I did not get interviewed on Tuesday and had to return on Wednesday, the day I was interviewed and seated as juror #4. They asked each juror about everything from high school forward. I told them everything. I mean everything for those who know of my younger run-ins. I genuinely had little knowledge of the case at all. I didn’t even know about the earlier mistrial. I was not dismissed.

I had to return Thursday morning at 10:30 AM and assemble in the jury room. We thought there was going to be some long, formal instructions to the jury from the judge. By 10:35 we were “with the state” for opening arguments. Whoa. Just like that it was on.

We watched for 5 days as the state admitted over 525 pieces of evidence including traffic and dash camera videos of the pursuit of Jahaad and Shabbar from the Beyer’s house. We saw evidence from the Tran and Rochlin houses, where the brothers acquired a stun gun and their first gun, a Llama .38. We saw lots of photos of the Lovicks house where they stole another gun, a Raven .25 also used in the attack on Jason Beyer. We heard the 911 call by Mary Iverson who handed the phone to Jessica Beyer. That was honestly quite terrifying. She thought her husband Jason might be dead. Jason Beyer fought two armed gunmen and took a bullet to save his wife from being savagely raped after a sexual assault at gunpoint. In NC rape can only be vaginal.

Here’s some relatively unknown things about the case and the court proceedings. I don’t think most of this was in the media.

  • When Jessica Beyer ran into the Iverson’s house Mr. Iverson was too shook up to dial 911.  Mary Iverson had to take the phone from him and dial.
  • The getaway car, a 1988 Cadillac, wouldn’t start right away when the Marshall brothers were fleeing the Beyer’s house.
  • They threw the guns out their car windows while doing 90 MPH on Rock Quarry Rd. They were found the next day by a NCDOT employee and members of a prison work detail who handed them, and the ammo, over to their supervising officer.
  • There was a bag of marijuana found on the floor of the Lovick’s bathroom following the invasion into their home. Mr. Lovick admitted it was his to help with the nausea from the chemotherapy he’d just begun. This is true. It only added to his credibility as a witness because he could have easily lied about the origin of the pot. The Lovicks are great people.
  • The Lovick’s house was destroyed in the Oakwood tornado just a few years ago. The house had just been rebuilt and they’d been in it for less than four months.
  • Ms. Lovick has a “Barbie Room” with over 150 Barbie Dolls in it. She retrieved a purse from this room, secretly took out her wallet and credit cards and handed Jahaad an empty purse with some change in the bottom of it.
  • The jury did not know that Deonte Thomas, council for the defense, tried to recuse himself from the case because he was certain his client, Jahaad, would lie on the stand. We were shocked when we heard he was going to testify.
  • The jury got hung up most on counts 15 and 16, Assault with a Deadly weapon with Intent to Kill and Attempted 1st degree murder. I will not go into detail on how we reached our verdicts on each count.
  • The jury was insulted and appalled from the first 20 seconds of Jahaad’s lies on the stand. We couldn’t believe it when we were later told that some people, including victims, worried that we might buy his BS.
  • Deputy Biggs, our jury bailiff was amazing and he also runs a successful business as a wedding planner. Some of us called him Smiley cause he looks just like Guy Smiley from Sesame Street.
  • The ADA who presented for the state, Boz Zellinger, is likely to run for District Attorney to replace Colon Wiloughby who retired yesterday.
  • Here’s the big one: At the end of sentencing, Judge Hight informed Deonte Thomas that any appeal could only be filed by original council. What that means is that since Jahaad burned Deonte by testifying, potentially putting his law license in jeopardy, there is little to zero chance Deonte is going to file an appeal on Jahaad’s behalf. The judge locked it in.

The rest is pretty much a matter of public record and I’m certain Amy knew more details about what was going on procedurally during the trial through the media. The jury knew Judge Hight was about to lay down the hammer during sentencing when he starred down Jahaad for about 30 seconds, turned to the court pounded his gavel and pretty loudly said “Madam Clerk, take the following!” …. the sentence was read in months for each count totaling 263 years minimum.

Here’s the whole series pertaining to this story on WRAL: http://www.wral.com/news/local/asset_gallery/13518465/


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The Fate of Hard Liners

I have no respect in my essence for those who would promote hard line rules and authoritarian control over compassionate, peaceful governance. I will fight against anyone trying to impose such staunch ideology for those who have historically invoked hard line positions on any culture incorrectly assume their agenda provides them superior force. The reality is that a wave returning from oppression is always more powerful the most rigorous attempts at control. For a society to be stable and to protect human rights any society must be able to flex the option of questioning authority. Absolute control is a fallacy that only exists in the minds of those trying to impose it. True freedom only exists when people a free from controls implemented in the name of religion, politics, and any military agenda.

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Colorado could make more money than Microsoft.

It is absolutely staggering that one state alone may “generate more revenue than Microsoft” from marijuana cultivation while other states continue to run up the bill on tax payers by arresting, court processing and incarcerating citizens on low level possession charges. All over a drug less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, making NC particularly hypocritical because of the states devotion to tobacco farmers. This ain’t about “gateway drugs” or other tired, stale semantics. This is pure economics now. Any loss of revenue and added expense can now be specifically blamed on those too foolish to understand the basic concept of commodity supply and demand. Not to mention the parallel industrial hemp revenue.

Did you know that during the early colonial days of NC it was mandated by the Queen of England that 20% of all crops be comprised of hemp for the navy? To this day nothing can make stronger natural rope and fibers. Most synthetics struggle to surpass hemp, including Kevlar and carbon fibers. Hemp production was ended with the laws introduced by the politically motivated, paranoid propaganda campaigns of the 50′s through the 70′s.

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Five things that won’t be around when your kids reach your age.

The more things change, the more Americans try to keep them the same. Usually to our detriment. War stories, tales of the good old days… we love us some nostalgia. Even if it’s broken we won’t fix it unless there’s profit involved. Despite this desire by many to keep antiquated product, systems, and procedures in place there are quite a few things we use every day that are going the way of the beeper despite the resistance. We don’t need them, they don’t make money and our kids won’t have them.

#5 – Car Keys

It’s getting more and more difficult to buy a new car that comes with keys.  Proximity sensor key fobs are here to stay.  I made sure to buy a car that has keys in 2013 because it will likely be the last one I will be able to purchase new that does.  My kids will be driving in their 20′s laughing with their friends about the car keys dad carried.

#4 – CD’s and DVD’s

Redbox better take advantage while they still can because streaming is the future.  Your kids will watch episode 14 of Gilligan’s Island whenever they want to and they will wait less time than it takes a 30 second commercial to run for their programming to begin.

#3 – Land Lines

And for that matter wired internet connections.  My oldest son will be happy to look back at my fights with routers, wireless access points and bridges throughout the house and realize his wireless connection is effortless.  In less than 10 years AT&T will end the era of copper phone lines from the street.  It will all be fiber, VoIP and wireless.

#2 – Newspapers

Yes, they are still sold.  The only reason I know this is because someone leaves a free one in my driveway once a week that gets turned to mush as I drive over it more than four times.  I’ve never opened the little plastic bag it comes in.  Didn’t even read or keep the print edition that contained quotes and excerpts from this blog.  What a waste of paper.  If you still read a newspaper chances are you are checking your blood pressure regularly and considering a Geritol supplement.  It’s over.  Buy a tablet or eReader, let newsprint die and save some trees.

#1 – Checkbooks

Speaking of useless paper.  The UK is scheduled to do away with personal checking for private account holders in 2014.  The U.S. will certainly follow in short order.  They are nothing more than an expense in processing coupled with risk for the banks.  They are nothing short of infuriating for shoppers in a check out line.  It’s time to give up on the nostalgia and the perceived need for checks in the name of personal organization.  Does anyone under 50 actually balance a check book anymore?  I think we still have some checkbooks around.  I’ve literally written two checks out of one book in the last six years.

Of course I could go on… local applications on computers, hard drives, dedicated digital cameras, fax machines, dedicated remote controls…  Most items in the tech sector including some brand new ones like 3D glasses.  However I don’t share some technologists sentiments that movie theaters, performance theaters and other live performance venues will be impacted.  Much like the Beatles had to perform live over 12,000 times before hitting the Ed Sullivan Show, I think (and hope) the music industry is going to make a swing back to live performance as the main source of revenue, not 99 cent downloads.   People are becoming too anti-social and complacent (i.e. boring) thanks to technology and this is not a trend I see future generations outside of the gaming community embracing.

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Who isn’t a “hero”?

This one’s gonna fire up the “Fox Holes”.  I might be chased down by patriots in pickup trucks covered in magnetic US flags made in China.

Today I thought of Chris Hayes, an MSNBC anchor who was forced to apologize for a statement he made in 2012 when he said he was uncomfortable using the word “hero” to describe all soldiers returning from active duty.  It’s an apology that was not necessary, pandering to the right all for the sake of media PR.  I’m pretty certain Chris Hayes isn’t genuinely sorry for his statement, nor should he be.  Veteran’s groups went crazy.  I suppose they feel all vets are “heroes”.  Pretentious arrogance anyone?

We are at a point where the word hero has become almost meaningless.  A young volunteer fire fighter who’s never been on a call to a fire: hero. A young EMT who’s never been on a triage call: hero.  Hey kids, want to be a hero?  Get any job in uniform.  Janitor may count at this point, not real sure.  Did I just compare our glorious men and women who serve in uniform to janitors?  Yes I did.  Because they serve in uniform.  Apparently that’s all it takes anymore to achieve “hero” status.  Many of today’s military “heroes” coming home from service were, in fact, janitors.  Stateside telecommunication personnel who saw the most action of their tour during basic training come out of the armed services instant hero’s.  I was at a college basketball game and actually heard an old man thank a young kid in uniform for “being a hero”.  Politely the kid said “thank you sir”.  I asked the kid, who was handing out brochures, what he did.  He was a stateside mechanic before becoming a recruiter.  Stay out of harms way there “hero”.

In the former Soviet Union the title of “Hero” was officially reserved.  If anyone was labeled a hero or called themselves a hero outside of state sanction there was a serious period of incarceration waiting for them.  to earn the title meant you actually had to do something heroic, like oh say… turn the tide of Nazi occupation during WWII.  The first Hero of the Soviet Union was Vasily Zaitsev who killed 225 enemy soldiers in 5 weeks.   Ya, he did a lot more than put on a government uniform and go to work.  So did those honored as hero’s from the US during that same era.  Perhaps for the sake of saving true hero’s from this soup of mediocrity we’ve concocted we should heed this lesson from the Stalinist, Communist era and quit abusing the only word we have in our language to elaborate true heroism.  Reserve it for the real hero’s and don’t dishonor them by equating them to janitors who passed basic training and put on a uniform to earn the honor.

Worst of all, we probably have recently discharged armed forces personnel running around the country right now who are full of themselves and their “hero” status despite having done nothing more than performing the duties of secretary or quarter master.  Many of them are returning to the states and going from “hero” to unemployed the minute they are discharged.  They should not embrace the word hero and we should not bestow it on them because unemployment wasn’t the case for those honored for true acts of heroism in previous generations.  We dishonor our nations true hero’s with our modern abuse of this word.

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Three Pieces of Legislation

In light of the recent events in our dysfunctional Congress, this morning I presented a question to myself on the way to work: If I had to pick three pieces of legislation to be passed immediately that I thought would benefit all Americans what would they be?  Here’s what I came up with.  It turns out all of them would require constitutional amendments.

  1. A constitutional amendment dissolving Congressional approval for an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling subject to the repayment of those debt’s Congress has already incurred.
  2. A resolution to dissolve the Citizen’s United ruling and require full disclosure of the source and expenditures of all campaign dollars spent by any candidate running for public office.
  3. Repeal and replacement of the 26th amendment.  End the Electoral College and move to a national, popular vote for the President.
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For the first time since I started this blog almost 10 years ago I did not post for an entire month. That’s slack. I’ve gotta work on this site today. It’s stale and lame right now.

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