Esot's Trenches

True tales (Trigger Warning!)

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If life's like a box of chocolates.. sometimes there's a chocolate coated rock or two... watch out for them teeth!

(Previously 'From Nerd to Criminal in Seven Easy Years'... let's hope that's over)

As often as I've thought this tale to have reached an end, it rears its ugly head.

It's time to write a friggin' novel. Here it comes (in unsorted pieces):

We'll start with the first legal-encounter, way back in highschool (was it "The Year 2000"?)...

Back in those days I might've been deemed amongst the nerdliest of nerds. I took Japanese not because I was interested in Anime nor Pokemon, like the majority of my classmates, but because it was a good move for business relations in the tech-fields; I'd been doing electronics circuits since I was 6y/o, began working in IT (with full district-wide network-admin privileges) at the school-district between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school and continued to do-so for nearly a decade thereafter.

I'd skipped a grade in math back in middle school, then my middle school math teacher "followed me" to my high school (cool?). In my Junior year of high school, I started taking college classes. My day was split between math with my ol' pal the math-teacher and classes at college (a full college load being three classes). I bussed between these two campuses, each day, taking nearly an hour each way, three trips total (home was somewhere in the middle), three hours a day spent on busses.

The first thing I noticed about that (community) college environment was that people were there because they wanted to be there to learn and better themselves, not because they were forced to by some system, nor by the expectations of parents or others. I felt astounded, to say the least... Here people actually cared about their (and others') educational experiences. And lo-and-behold [most] teachers/professors respected that, nevermind the grown-up decisions of their students, enough to not even bother taking attendance.

I got sucked-in to that level of dedication almost immediately, and as soon as I'd started, I had no intention of continuing with the partial-days, planning to switch to full-days at college the following semester (which, was a bit difficult since high school worked on the semester system and college was on the quarter-system).

Now, I'll take a step back to have an ol' throw-back to my grade-school (K-10) experience... I can't recall *ever* skipping a day of class in my entire grade-school-[only] experience. In middle school I was often called out of class to work in the computer lab (where I was responsible for setting up the image used on all the computers). This was definitely permitted, and I still managed to pull A's and B's in all my classes. (I even came in on summer-vacation to wire-up the building with ethernet, crawling through the crawl-space with only two boards preventing me from falling through the ceiling tiles!)

I was sick, one day, in middle school, wherein I asked my dad to let me stay home, and he said essentially if I was well-enough to ask, then I was well-enough to attend. That day I was sent home by the school nurse as contagious, and caught a bit of guilt for the call's having interrupted ol' Pa at work. From there-on I never bothered to even try to "call in sick" nor was ever sent home again. Raised somewhat "mind-over-matter" I seldom got sick in the first place, and only that once to the level of contagious. The only days I missed were those of dental/vision appointments and pre-planned family vacations. Meanwhile, who knows what my classmates/friends had been skipping class for: mall-trips, movies... Seems there were days everyone knew was a skip-day, some even seemingly-sanctioned by teachers, and yet I was somehow left-out of all of these. I knew of a bush near my middle school where some of my closest friends hid inside to smoke weed instead of attending class, and I know of others who literally smoked weed *with* the security-guards (we went through three guards in three years!). One Time I tried smoking a cigarette in that bush, went immediately home and showered and brushed my teeth for hours on end for fear of what guilt I might be given for something my...

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  • heat! mobility! electricity!

    esot.eric9 hours ago 1 comment

    new fuel pump installed!

    great story, but no energy to write it now.

    buddy apparently got home, his mother was looking for him, guess I reached the right people. but I guess they're mad, maybe justly, 'cause they didn't call back to let me know he's home.

  • whoops

    esot.eric03/16/2018 at 04:08 5 comments

    no one to blame but myself.

    although, we mighta been ok, on that front, if it weren't for what appears to be a dead fuel pump.

    so aside from what could be some serious/life-altering trouble in my near future (though many have called the offense something along the lines of 'piddly'), there's also the fact I'm stranded 90ish miles from 'home', trying to figure out how to repair a fuel pump on my budget, nearest store being miles away, nearest auto-store much further, and whatnot. 

    AND I brought a buddy, who... is also stranded, lacking a personal-phone or net access, and broker than I, and now towns away... I was able to let his family know where he's at... but now I wonder if he'd'a wanted it otherwise. oy! the joys of an era where phone numbers are seldom remembered, and internet unavailable.

    on my front...

    lots of very thoughtful and helpful people to thank, so far, including the madre, who, if you read earlier 'trenches' you might think I've no relationship with... but that'd be a mistake. She's been quite helpful through this.

    the impounder took my cat to the humane society, and a really nice gas station attendant took me to pick her up. two days basically all I could think about was that I killed her... but there she was waiting for me!

    Many thanks owed on many fronts. many which may never be stated.

    A bit terrified about the future, but between trying to get the van running and trying to make sure my buddy is OK, haven't really had time to think too much about that.

  • Now THIS Really blows

    esot.eric02/16/2018 at 00:35 4 comments

    would you believe that over 1200 makes/ models of vehicles from 1980-2001 use the same mounting pattern, nevermind shaft-length, and quite a bit more, for their blower-motors?!

    The entire blower-motor assembly I needed was sitting on a back-room shelf across the street from the gas station I frequent... $33 new.

    With many apologies to my brother-in-heating-crisis, I couldn't wait another night for our 40mi(?) and potentially-unfruitful junkyard run, without at least seeing whether the part was across the street. i figured the odds were low they had it, and lower that i could afford it. Instead it would seem i coulda been cozy a week ago. I installed the thing at midnight in the rain under a lighted eve that was just long enough to cover my hood at a clinic that didn't open for another six hours, and a bit nervous as my battery had to be removed for the entire process, making me a sitting-duck in an unknown neighborhood while circled at least four times by the same car. But an hour and fifteen minutes later... Cozy.

    I've since flaked twice on the junkyard-run, which would hopefully get my friend both warm and moving... I'm not a great friend. :/

  • This kinda sucks

    esot.eric02/13/2018 at 07:27 8 comments

    ...and... it's already falling apart, less than an hour later.

    I'm definitely no aerodynamics expert... but I first tried a cone, tightly-wraped, and, well, it only kinda blowed. Then some experimentation led to the conclusion that most of the suckage comes from the *side*. Thus the boxy front 'mushroom' and surface-mount.

    A little better.

    suffice to say, the reinsert-connector-method failed almost immediately after the last log-entry.

    Today, dug out the motor with every intention of soldering, to instead discover that it worked when starting from some positions, but not others. The commutator was badly corroded in some spots, badly worn in others, and copper shavings everywhere.

    Did some filing and cleanup of the flecks inbetween... and it eventually worked *every* time. Actually marked all the starting-points I tried, until probably 40 roughly evenly-spaced all the way around. Perfect, really. And just enough time till sundown to put it all back together and bask in the warmth during sunset.

    As soon as I finished a guy asked for a jump-start... turns out his starter was fried... smoke pouring out, and... inaccessible by the likes of me. So while watching sunset in warmth, counted my blessings, and stuck around while he waited for AAA.

    Went for 'breakfast', finally, and the blowage decreased on the way until... nothing, by the time I had to open my window at the drive-through.

    Thus, the 'mushroom' fan at my vent.

    Also weird: when this first happened, I ran into an friend, car-liver, who on the same day became without heat... actually had an engine-fire. pretty gnarly, a several-day repair for the likes of car-dwellers, especially considering the new lack of mobility. But, looks like the damage is mostly limited to wiring, so hopefully things'll get running soon. Anyways, he's an elder gentleman, with elder-pains, in a car, not a van, so could probably benefit more from some 'good vibes' sent his way.

    and the night prior, ran into another elder-homeless-friend, sans-car, who's lost more sleeping bags than he can count... so, I guess there's alotta folk who could benefit from warmer days.

    as to the commutator; it would seem the brushes have worn down to the copper mounts, thus the shavings everywhere. It was luck, really, I was even able to see inside, let alone do some cleaning. There's a cooling-port on the side. But if it is the brushes, then accessing them (let alone finding replacements) would be quite difficult...

    There's talk of a junkyard trip for the engine that caught fire, so might have to do the same for my blower, and maybe my rear window.

  • This blows

    esot.eric02/11/2018 at 00:46 4 comments


    I ran through the fuses and switches and relay with a multimeter and came up with a schematic... and it's not too strange, except for the part that: the fuse is 50A!

    I don't think that ground wire is rated for much beyond 30, but... ok.

    There was 12V at the motor connector, so the motor's dead, right?

    Started to remove it, but was thwarted by another engine part in the way, and removal wouldn't'a done me much good anyhow, nothing to replace it with, and otherwise don't want air coming in from the engine... so sealed it back up...

    But then a few ohms across the motor.

    Well, WTF?

    Surely not internally-shorted, otherwise fuse... right?

    Connect the dang thing back up... and it works.

    Reseat the battery tray and.. it doesn't work.

    Battery (and tray) in, out, in, out... because it blocks the fan...

    Finally figured out to leave the battery out and use jumper cables...

    Finnicky little bugger.

    So, it seems there's a lose connection. A 30ish Amp loose connection. Not going to think about that.

    The pins at the motor-connector wiggle a bit, so I think it's inside the motor, which, of course, is darn-near welded shut.

    So, I guess, for now, wiggle the pin, reattach the connector, repeat until it kicks in.

    Thankfully that connector is accessible with the battery in! It's a tight squeeze,but accessible.

    30ish Amp loose connection. Fully-made or fully broken. Weee!

    But my feet are warm, again, so, whew.

    Wonder if it was damaged in the tree incident.

  • Now with less blowing

    esot.eric02/10/2018 at 07:34 0 comments

    last night I was watching a movie,  ish since i'd already seen it several nights in a row, and was mostly spending time with the cat, thinking about things... so at some point I took a few minutes to acknowledge just how well-off we are, considering... and a big point was about how we have heat... yahknow, the sorta thing one might do on Thanksgiving... giving thanks for having heat.
    So, on that note, it had cooled down a bit since the last time I ran it, so I got up to turn the engine and heater on... and no heat.
    Friggin' blower doesn't do anything.
    I guess that's what I get for expressing gratitude?
    Not the fuse, not a relay... everything else is burried behind the console or in the tightly-packed engine compartment... 
    Friggin' weird how just about everything that's gone wrong with this vehicle is related to the heating/cooling system. First the heater-core leaking antifreeze on the floor under the cat's litterbox... the radiator sprung a leak after the heater-core was bypassed... countless coolant fillings... the bypass exploded one day filling the cab instantly with steam/vaporized coolant... the tree that fell on my hood... well the only *functional* damage was to the radiator, which I fixed with a hammer and epoxy... and now... the blower-fan just conked out within twenty minutes of its last use with no warning... not even a sputter.
    So, I bought a fan and have it blowing on the reexposed core, which is barely staving off the chills, but better than no blower. But WTH happened?!

  • Cheating death?

    esot.eric01/22/2018 at 07:16 4 comments

    tonight this happened:

    That was a rather large tree, bounced off my hood, slight damage, heart pounding for hours.

  • Stupid eric + When BB-8 runs...

    esot.eric01/14/2018 at 07:58 11 comments

    locked my keys (three friggin sets) in...

    Then thought it wise to use the largest rock I could find/lift to break the window...

    Glass *everywhere* all the way to the other end of the van... on my bed, in my sheets, piles of glass in my clean laundry.

    Apparently tempered glass is nice in that there aren't shank-sized shards, but I've come across more tiny needles than I'm comfortable sleeping on without a Thorough cleaning. seriously, glass in places I couldn't imagine it'd get into, at distances I couldn't imagine it could travel, around corners I couldn't imagine it could corner.

    So... the whole interior was stripped, and I've slowly been moving things back in... first the food and bed. Then any tool I think might be useful in installing a replacement window... that's pretty much it, so far. Kinda like starting over. but better! Now I know what's under the flooring (besides, shockingly, glass)

    Cat's been quite a sport during the multiday cleanup, including the first night barricaded in the passenger cabin trying to sleep upright.

    so, now I know why so many cars have tarp- or plastic-covered windows.

    I wasn't *entirely* stupid, though... this is surely the easiest and likely the cheapest window to replace. And the tarp wraps nicely around, and clamped in place, by the door.

    And... Thankfully, the weather's been in my favor. It's probably 10+ degrees warmer lately... "the snow" (we usually only get 1-3 days of snow a year... much to my childhood's school-day chagrin) happened a few days prior. Though Facebook reminded me of "snowpocalypse" a few years back, which apparently happened two days after (and several years prior to) the breakage.


    So I finally got around to the 7th star wars...

    When BB-8 is "running", does he have to slow his pace to keep his head on?

  • Projects...

    esot.eric01/05/2018 at 05:00 0 comments

    i haven't really been doing many.

    Not sure why, exactly, but certainly the situation is taking a toll. It's a PITA to clear enough space, dig everything out, and so forth just to have to put it all away in a couple hours. Nevermind the electricity thing... since I've been needing to idle the engine for heat, anyhow. But project-motivation doesn't seem to come at those times. Heck, just turning on the laptop to save myself from thumb-typing is too much hassle, these days. And none of these reasons have begun to touch the surface of other project-thwarting techniques that have been thrown at me.

    The latest 'project' was to downsize my storage unit. managed to scale it down to fit in a space which should literally be half the price. Which is pretty friggin important these days, as my income was decreased dramatically. The smaller unit would *almost* make up for that... (meaning i've been WAY overspending on storage...) otoh, living-expenses, nevermind the ~20% rent-increase, have gone up... making the last week+ of the past couple months damn-near unbearable.... a neighboring couple in an RV brought me hot food on Christmas, very kind.

    So, the plan was to do the move to the new unit on the 20th. Being 2/3rds of the month, I figured I'd be walking out of there with an extra $20 in my pocket, since I paid for a full month in the big unit... and... I really needed that $20... I could barely afford the gas to travel there and back, 5 friggin miles... that gas, alone, would've prevented a christmas spent under blankets watching my breath... nevermind the $20.

    Instead of $20 in my pocket on the 20th, and an extra $130 in my pocket every month thereafter, I've been getting the runaround for WEEKS since. Numerous attempts, much gas, no progress. 

    Basically it boils down to locking poor people into situations they can't afford, holding their belongings hostage.

    To change units, it seems, one must pay up-front a full month's rent for BOTH units. "We'll subtract the difference from your next bill". There's NO WAY I can afford to front $400, the whole damned point is that there's obviously no way I can even afford the unit I'm already paying for!

    And we're not talking... oh, just slide for a month on a util bill, we're talking that extra $150 is more than an EXTRA week tacked onto the end of the month (now the middle) with no heat and no electricity, and it's a long walk to the rest-rooms. 

    But hey, come february i'd be ballin'! No, doesn't work that way.

    So, basically, they value new customers over those who've been feeding into their paychecks for some time... 'cause new customers get a nearly 30% monthly rate discount, and first month for only a buck. But if you're transferring, you have to pay full price for two units up-front, and no rate-discount, nevermind the six-month rate-increase!

    So then I find a seemingly perfect company... decent dude, even told me I could save twenty bucks by using my old lock. $37 total to move in for the remainder of the month... thankfully I got some money for Christmas, otherwise even $37 would've been moot. Pro-rated first and last month, no less! My move on the twentieth, there, woulda had me walking out with $20 in my pocket, right?

    But... i've been screwed by fine-print before... seemed like a great dude until I asked to see the unit *before* signing the contract. Suddenly he's practically running ahead of me, complaining about being busy... and "the computer doesn't work that way" bull-shit.  Then, turns out the unit is the wrong orientation, I wouldn't be able to access my stuff, so he's suddenly willing to show another unit, and back to his earlier demeanor, which was what i'd've called a decent fellow. Should I be suspicious? The unit is clearly smaller... i pace it out. Finally shows another with weird angles that, actually, would make accessibility easier... it's even, likely, about the same square-footage promised,...

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  • The era of everybody's gotta hack

    esot.eric12/26/2017 at 19:41 5 comments

    don't get me wrong, I'm all for people's thinking outside the box, creative solutions, etc... "hacking", whether it be some gizmo or something else entirely.

    but like anything, there are... what... times and places, right and wrong... moral compasses, maybe, should be considered.

    That goes for both the creative person working out the solution, and MORE-SO for those forcing such creativity.

    The last part is what bugs me.

    Computers are supposed to be tools to make life easier, not overlord-systems that must be pandered-to.

    In this era, everyone, it seems, must appease some running-code. If-then statements don't always account for every case, especially when humans are involved.

    ... don't get me started on specific examples.

    .... ugh... don't get me started.

    So, we live in a new era, where it's all about learning the Goddamned-arbitrary tricks of the trade, where catering to some computer program (which may change in a month!) is more important than human interaction.

    Thankfully... there are those, and many it would seem, who *do* learn ways to "work the system" such that hidden checkboxes can be revealed, etc... ways to bring back what if-then statements have plausibly-unintentionally taken away... the ability for, e.g. a sales-rep to give loyalty-discounts to repeat customers, or to assess a damaged product on the shelf and give a fair discount... nevermind a whole slew of scenarios I, a computer-programmer, would never predict.

    These sorts of things are, realistically, forms of hacking, these days... 

    i.e. whereas twenty years ago it wouldn't be at all uncommon for a sales-rep to look at the damaged product and say "how about 50cents?" And just key in the price, nowadays it's pretty much de-facto that the barcode must still be scanned to appease the inventory-database-overlord... that means, at the very least, a special override must be entered, and that usually by a manager, who has to be summoned to help a person so broke as to risk botulism save a measly quarter on canned peas.

    Maybe it wasn't manager-required-material at all, just some hidden button to click, or SHIFT-F3, to bring up the new-price window... regardless, it takes a certain amount of care and effort to find said solutions... In many cases it wouldn't be a stretch to call that discovery-process "hacking", and, again, thank god people like that exist.

    this was gonna be a rant about how difficult databases and guided-forms and such-like have made it for humans to be treated like humans, for humans to treat others like humans... and oh how my brain does want to go down that path...

    But I guess i'd rather end on the earlier good note: thank god people exist who do care enough about other people to find creative solutions within the systems they're forced to work with, and are capable enough in that realm to do-so.

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jlbrian7 wrote 04/20/2016 at 01:09 point

I still have your address, and half a mind to mail you a six pack.

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:01 point

Hah! That's a brilliant half-a-mind you have, there :) Thanks, yo!

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:21 point

Hey, you already succeeded in contributing toward a six-pack, just by liking! Thanks!

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davedarko wrote 04/19/2016 at 07:18 point

The like on this is a moral support like. At least for me. Your country can get weird :(

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:16 point

Danke Shen, DaveyD! Great help, that moral-support! 

Sometimes it's got its weirdnesses, probably has something to do with its youth. When I get to writing/posting "chapter 4" there will surely be a portion mentioning that the release-defender and the cell-block officer had hearty laughs while reading the police-report, saying they'd never even heard of someone jailed for it. I was foolish not accepting the course-of-action the police-officer tried *repeatedly* to recommend and for believing him to be exaggerating about jail as the only other option. So, obviously, it's not something they look to jail people for on a regular basis.

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RoGeorge wrote 04/19/2016 at 06:19 point

Amazing story, please continue!

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:26 point

Haha, thanks. I'll continue writing the story, but I think I've had enough living of it for now ;)

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esot.eric wrote 04/21/2016 at 07:23 point

Hah, appropriate user-icon, as well :)

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Roman wrote 04/19/2016 at 02:49 point

I had no idea you could get a criminal record for that. I wonder what else could get you a black stain on your record. Weird.

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:25 point

I think the/a lesson is, when a cop is considerate enough to give a warning, one should listen to the cop... But I agree whole-heartedly, I'd been having nightmares and waking in cold-sweats/swears nearly every day since it happened, fearing exactly your concern.

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cyplesma wrote 04/18/2016 at 16:33 point

1. I'm not a lawyer, 2. welcome to prison planet, but that is another web site.   3. constructively speaking do what you can to find a good lawyer, look for one who's parking lot is full not one that has an empty parking lot, their clients are in jail not out and about. If you are under 18 you'll have a hard time chatting with politicians about this, but try, and find someone to help, aclu maybe. spread the word on facebook even. go to the state police or even feds about it.

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:33 point

3 sounds like good advice I hadn't considered, the parking-lot thing is an interesting observation. I had to go the court-appointed route, due to finances... They're busy, understandably, but she's been very patient/helpful explaining things, etc.

As far as the rest, we'll start with this telling-of-the-tale and see where it goes. But you can bet the sum-total of such experiences have taken a toll on me that some might be able to place large monetary values on.

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cyplesma wrote 04/20/2016 at 16:28 point

I certainly understand, I got the parking lot observation from a college instructor who's day job is a lawyer, and this was back in '96.  Do your best not to take any deals, once you do that you will be treated as being guilty,  and you cannot appeal. There are some things you can get expunged from a record but that is a very short list and it is very expensive to do that as well. There are some legal websites where lawyers answer questions. I haven't have need of them but I know they are out there.

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Fernando wrote 04/18/2016 at 13:32 point

Yes, it reminded me the story of  Ahmed Mohamed ...

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esot.eric wrote 04/18/2016 at 13:57 point

Judging by the utter terror I've experienced in my comparatively minor experiences with "The System" I have no doubt poor Ahmed, and many others, must've had horrendous absolutely horrendous experiences.

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j0z0r pwn4tr0n wrote 04/18/2016 at 16:12 point

Reminds me of my own delinquency. I got charged with shoplifting because I saw some riding mower batteries being thrown out behind a store. When the police officer showed up, I didn't even try to run, I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I plead guilty because I didn't have the money for a lawyer and couldn't afford to miss work for a lengthy court battle. I served 10 days in jail, did 40 hours of community service, 1 year of probation, had to attend a moral therapy class to tell me stealing was wrong, and I had to pay restitution. It still makes me angry to think about it, but I didn't have it as bad as most. And oh yeah, good luck getting a job whenever they see that shoplifting charge come back on the background check

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esot.eric wrote 04/18/2016 at 17:47 point


Maybe I should put an image of "trigger warning" on this page...

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:57 point

rereading with a clearer head... 

yikes! "Moral therapy" sounds a bit oxymoronic to me, especially based on the overall punishment's moral-value as to suiting the alleged "crime".

Reminds me of... oh, I think I was six, and my dad's bank had just changed names and was disposing of a shitton of office-supplies with their old logo... Most of the stuff was brand-new and still sealed in shrink-wrap. It was literally spilling out of the dumpster in a huge pile in their parking-lot, so I said "hey, free office supplies!" and we picked out some three-ring binders and some other things... Next thing we know the manager comes out yelling "We're calling the cops!" and accusing us of stealing, etc... That was terrifying to a six-year-old.

Thanks for that reminder!

In this case, my court-appointed attorney (and nearly everyone I've talked to) made it very clear that if *nearly any* other option was available than pleading guilty, to accept it. It seems to me in a reasonable world I might've kept 10 people awake for 2 hours, so spending twenty hours in jail should've been more than enough punishment, in consideration of fairness/balance, so I figured a judge might think similarly, but my attorney informed me that A) the record/background-check job/rental applications thing is a big one, as many won't bother to ask/look into the details of why you have said-history (won't give the benefit-of-the-doubt), and B) the sentences, usually, contain requirements exactly like your "moral therapy" class... e.g. if alcohol is even alleged to be a consideration, then something like rehab is usually a requirement. Yikes.

Sounds like you're a considerate/fair/reasonable dude, so your expecting a considerate/fair/reasonable/comparable sentence seems entirely reasonable to me. Sucks people have to find out the hard way for basically little more than a misunderstanding. On the plus-side, I suppose for some, the graph isn't linear from our experience, otherwise joy-riding for a couple hours in a stranger's car would be a death-sentence. Utterly terrifying.

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Roman wrote 04/18/2016 at 13:10 point

It sounds like a beginning of a novel.

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