Jury Duty

Have you done Jury Duty?  I have.  It was an interesting and fulfilling experience. It was over a year ago so I feel OK talking about it now, even though I could have before. The process is what I was most interested in knowing, and I got to see it all as I made it onto the jury. One big surprise – I was never bored! On the contrary, I was fascinated by it all.

We received a notice in the mail and had to call or check the website the night before the trial in case it was cancelled, it wasn’t. The next morning about 30+ showed up at the courthouse, some came late, they had to stay late.

The bailiff brought us into the courtroom where the defendant and attorneys sat. We all sat in the audience area and the they randomly picked about 20 of us to question. Up to the jury box we filed. The judge read us some information and then the eliminations started.

First the attorneys, then the judge asked us questions as a group. Some people obviously wanted out. One guy used a weak excuse about being up for 5 days straight with a teething baby, which he most probably wasn’t as he looked fine to me. The judge tried to keep him, but eventually gave up and let him go. If you answered any questions positively they further questioned you. That’s how it worked, they asked the exceptions to raise their hand. Very structured.

Each attorney got to release some of us. I ended up in the final 14. Then they picked 2 randomly and dismissed them. We were down to 12, no alternates. Again we got a scripted lecture from the judge, not about finding guilt, but about searching for the truth. That’s what I remember most, he told us to try to find the truth.

We heard testimony from the arresting officer most of the morning. We got a break and then back to the deputy’s testimony. We were instructed not to discuss the case with each other in the jury room until the trial was over and we were told to discuss. So I took my Kindle and headed for a corner seat on breaks. We broke for lunch and were allowed to go anywhere we liked, again don’t speak to anyone about trial specifics.

After lunch a science expert was brought in, and it was her testimony that convinced me the defendant wasn’t telling the truth. In the mid-afternoon the testimony was done and off we went to come up with a verdict on three charges. Shortly after we started to discuss the testimony it was apparent we needed a leader, and much to my chagrin I was selected the jury foreman.

It didn’t really take us long to decide looking back on it. Mostly everyone was in agreement. Some had questions, some felt bad about giving a guilty verdict because of how the defendant would be affected, others were bitter about law enforcement for their own personal reasons. After about an hour of discussion, and a number of votes by show of hand, we were done. We were led back into the court and there really was no pomp and circumstance like on TV. As the foreman I just handed the papers with our decision to the bailiff, who gave it to the judge.

We were each questioned individually if we agreed with the verdict, and it had to be unanimous. I thought one guy might retract, but he didn’t. People thought they might see the defendant in the hallway on the way out, the bailiff reassured us we wouldn’t, he was going straight to jail from this courtroom. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 – LOL. When it was all done I really felt like he had a fair trial by a jury of his peers.

We were escorted out of the building and I was home by dinner! All in all it was interesting and a learning experience. I have to say everyone in that courtroom was very respectful and mindful of our time commitment as citizens. We were treated with the utmost reverence. The judge, bailiff, attorneys and other officials in the court were professional and most courteous to us. Suffice it to say I felt honored and appreciated that day, like I’ve not ever felt before. It was good and the streets were a little safer that day.

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Dallas History Lesson

Dealey Plaza in 2003.

Dealey Plaza in 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been to Dealey Plaza before, but it was a number of years ago. We took a road trip for Christmas this year and ended up going right through the heart of Dallas, TX on I-35. Turns out Dealey Plaza was less than a half mile off our route. So we stopped again. My sister-in-law had never seen in person the place where this country was forever changed in 1963.

Plaque mounted on the former Book Depository building. You can see where vandals attempted to remove the word 'allegedly'.

Plaque mounted on the former Book Depository building. You can see where vandals attempted to remove the word ‘allegedly’.

I stood on the 'X' and looked up to the sixth floor window.

I stood on the ‘X’ and looked up to the sixth floor window.

What strikes you first is how small the area really is. I guess we’ve seen it so often through a television or movie lens that it seems larger than life, but it’s not. The history is larger than life, but the plaza is not. Next I was a bit surprised at the number of people coming and going, on a cold December Sunday afternoon. I didn’t expect to be the only people there, but I didn’t expect to see so many people, of all ages and nationalities, at the site of a 50-years-ago assassination.  Democrat or Republican, American or Asian or European, it doesn’t matter, we have all been affected by the assassination of JFK.

ImprovementsThe grassy knoll wasn’t so grassy right now, and it wasn’t really accessible either as the city is making improvements – which is good. I again was able to stand on the two X’s in the road, the spots where the first and third shots were delivered to the president as he rode in his open limousine.

DSCN3362

Standing at the grassy knoll you can see where the ‘X’ is in the road. Looking across the 3-lane street to the triangle you can see just how close and almost intimate the area feels. While we were there people were mostly quiet and just taking it all in, both for themselves and with a camera lens.

There are a few street vendors telling the stories and selling you books and copies of magazine and newspaper articles. They talk of conspiracies, and FBI agents, and government officials. I just know that America lost another piece of her innocence that November day 50 years ago at Dealey Plaza.

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My Team Has Left the Building

I was on this great team at work, and it’s not often you can say that about your team.  We all got along well, covered each other’s backs, and generally worked as a well-oiled machine.  Even when we experienced a change in membership we managed the integration of the new member really well.

We were a team of 5, plus our team leader.  Admittedly we were the dumping ground for a lot of things, mostly application and system support that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else in our IT department.  Maybe because of that we were a great team.  Having such a variety of software, systems, and hardware to support kept our work varied and interesting.

We are a team no more – and that makes me sad.  I really liked our team.  I don’t understand why we were split up.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  But I don’t make the big bucks, or big decisions.  Maybe we got along too well, and had too much fun at work.

So I guess we are just stuck with the work of breaking up a well-oiled machine, no easy task.

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Smablet

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Smablet – I coined it. I haven’t seen this mashed up word used anywhere else yet so I’m claiming authorship. Smablet is an electronic device that functions as both a smartphone and a tablet, all in one! More specifically, right now I’m focusing on a Samsung Galaxy II Note. I think this is a first step in the evolution of convergent devices; smartphones and tablets becoming one.

Smartphones are any phone that has an associated data plan. Tablets are the devices that are about the size of a book and were spawned from the introduction of the e-reading devices.

I don’t understand the fascination with tablets in the technology gadget market. If you already have a smartphone you have the ability to; connect from anywhere, load apps to play games and track information, read your books, call your friends and family, take pictures, text, and surf the web. With a tablet you can do almost all of that, but you can’t call or text from a tablet. Albeit the screen size on a tablet is much larger, but then so is the device. So you have to carry two devices, a phone and a tablet, which have very similar functions. The only differences between the two that I can see is the ability to call and text, and the size.

Tablets

I’ve purchased a tablet, twice. And both times I returned it. I just don’t see where I gained any efficiency with a tablet. In fact it seemed more cumbersome to have it because now I had two devices to carry, and they basically did the same thing. Of course if you don’t have a smartphone I totally understand why you would want a tablet. And there are those people who have a smartphone but want the tablet just because it’s fun and another gadget, and I get that. I’m just not one of those people.

So for me I’ll be happy to get a Smablet – and I CAN’T WAIT! I specifically have my eye on the Note. I expect we’ll be seeing the market offer more Smablets, watch for it!

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To Stop – or not? That is the question.

Let’s talk about stop signs.  Specifically stop signs on private roads.  You know the ones, in shopping mall parking lots, or at the grocery store.  Or better yet, on a private road somewhere that people live, that’s what I really want to talk about.

Since most of us are probably familiar with stop signs in mall parking lots let’s start there.  Are you ever annoyed by how many times you have to stop in a mall parking lot?  I know I am.  Now, I’m not annoyed if the placement of said sign makes sense, like at a crosswalk.  But sometimes I think they put them in random spots as a power play.  Often I want to blow right through them because there is no person or car in sight.  So my question is – “Will I get ticketed by the police if I don’t stop at one of these signs?”  Then I wonder if the cops have any jurisprudence over my driving since technically I am on private property, the shopping mall’s road.  So maybe I can’t get a ticket for ignoring that stop sign?

Here is what I really want to know though, “Can I get a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign posted on a private road?”  This is why I ask, I live on a private road.  There are numerous families and lots of drivers living here.  Many years ago we had no stop sign at the intersection of the private road with the public road.  Then someone who lives on our road bought a sign and put it up at that intersection.  Does this mean I have to obey the sign now?  Just because someone else wanted to be reminded to look before entering the public road does it mean I have to stop?  I don’t think so.

However, if I do have to obey a privately placed sign I think I’ll buy 2 stop signs and put one on each side of my driveway entrance onto the private road.  Then everyone on our private road has to stop and give me right-of-way to get onto the private road from my driveway!

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On the Mend

This is where some of my physical therapy was conducted. Not bad – eh?

I’m almost healed, my doctor and my physical therapist tell me it will be at least 6 months post-surgery before healing is complete.  I’m 4 months out from surgery.  You’ll remember I had surgery to correct FAI of mixed type in my right hip.  Surgery went well, no surprises.  And that is always good news where surgery is concerned.  I was home later in the day, napping in my own bed by mid-afternoon. FABULOUS!

One of my helpful kitty nappers.

During rehab I had two therapy cats, strong narcotics, anti-inflammatories, and two machines; one to cool down the joint reducing the swelling, the other moved my hip to keep increasing my range of motion.  About three weeks later I started PT.  I don’t remember PT being particularly traumatic.  I do remember it helping a lot.  And surprisingly I only had to go once a week.  I also have a pool and it was a particularly hot summer, so I did pool therapy exercises daily – that was especially nice.  Once I got over the initial surgery pain the hip actually felt better the more I moved it.

My view from the hip moving machine for at least 3 hours per day, if I didn’t nap.

Recently I have been recounting my experience with my hip, the pain I was in before, and how I felt after surgery.  So I decided to tell you that for me the surgery was a success, I couldn’t be happier!  My low-back pain was gone within days after surgery.  Even though I was in pain from the surgery, I could tell the pain from the pinching in my hip was gone right away.  I can say I am pain-free in my hip 98% of the time.  Every once in a while I’ll have a pain, but nothing I can’t handle – and the incidents are becoming less frequent.  I’m walking distances again and can use an elliptical machine with no problem.

The only limit I have is no running, not that I ever wanted to run anyway.  Also the doctor recommends I limit my walking mileage, so probably no more marathons, or even half marathons.  A small price to pay for pain-free hip mobility.

Thank you Dr. Heinrich and staff for a job well done!

Other links:
Milwaukee Orthopaedic Group
Video of FAI surgery – Warning: graphic images

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DWTS, American Idol – I don’t get it

“Did you watch Dancing with the Stars last night?”  “Did you see who won American Idol?” These are questions I hear often from friends, co-workers, relatives, etc.

I don’t watch DWTS or American Idol.  I don’t get it.

I’ve seen a few minutes of each, as I’ve passed through the room, or on a news clip.  Yes the people are talented.  Yes they wear skimpy outfits.  But I don’t understand the draw, and it seems I’m in the minority.  It seems like everyone talks about both these shows.

What is the attraction of these shows?  Do you watch either of them?  Why?

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