Wednesday, June 23, 2010

unloading the elephants

And by "elephants", I don't mean me. I'm looking less like an elephant every day, as a matter of fact. I started a diet regime last November and actually lost about 27 pounds by January. In February I started the regime a second time and lost 10 more pounds. I ended up being TERRIBLE at keeping the weight off and gained back the 10 pounds I lost in the "second round" and then some. of today, right here and now, I'm down 36 pounds total as of last November. If I didn't gain back those 10+ pounds, I would have been down at least 46 pounds already, but 36 isn't bad. Not bad at all. And my goal is to lose an even 50. Think I can do it by November?

Anyway...back to the real elephants.

I was in downtown Phoenix yesterday for jury duty (more on that later) and at one point I had to ride the juror shuttle from the courthouse back to the parking garage. As we turned one of the corners downtown, we saw the Ringling Bros. circus train unloading the elephants right near the US Airways Arena (which is where the circus will be performing this weekend). How cool is that? I seriously thought that I was seeing things and had to do a "double take". But sure enough, right there in front of the shuttle, the elephants were being unloaded from the train and onto the street. It was so freakin' neat to see that! And it really got me excited to see the circus. We're going this Sunday and Joe said that he went to the circus once before when he was a kid, but it will be a first ever experience for the rest of us. I can't wait!

Now...back to jury duty.

Last Thursday, I had to report for jury duty. I had been summoned before and never had to report, but this time I actually did. So I was prepared for a really boring day. The morning definitely dragged a little, but by 10:30 that morning, they called a group of about 60-70 people to go up to a courtroom. We were all given juror numbers and shuffled into the courtroom where the judge, the defense and the state/prosecution were already assembled. The judge briefed us on the general charges against the defendant and stated that the trial was scheduled to last for at least six weeks. Craziness.

Thursday ended up flying by. After they did the initial screening/releasing anyone who was physically not able to commit to six weeks, then they had us complete a questionnaire answering questions about our life experiences. Some of the questions included giving information about our own employment and personal experiences, the employment/personal experiences of family and friends, and listed all members involved in the case to determine whether or not we knew anyone involved in the trial. Some of the questions were not as personal and asked about our hobbies, what we read, if we understand what we're getting into, etc. The questionnaire was long. It took about an hour to complete the whole thing. After we were finished we were instructed to not discuss any of the details of the case to anyone and to report back the following Tuesday. And I actually did REALLY GOOD at keeping my mouth shut.

Okay. Fast forward to yesterday. Yesterday (Tuesday), I had to report again for the voir dire. Voir dire, as far as I know, is the step in the trial process where the lawyers have a chance to actually speak with the remaining jurors to clarify any questions they had about the completed questionnaires. This voir dire is used to further help the laywers in their selection process and it's a way for them to clarify whether any jurors might have potential biases and, therefore, be unfit as an "impartial" juror. I wasn't called upon because apparently my answers to the questions were clear enough, but they interrogated some of the other jurors in order to clarify those concerns.

For example, there was one woman who had witnessed a crime before, so they had her clarify how long ago it was, what happened, if she can remove that from her mind to be impartial in this case, etc. She said it happened about 15 years ago and that everything was fine and she would definitely be impartial in this case. In addition, there was a man who had a nasty divorce and directly discussed the animosity he felt towards his lawyer as well as his ex-wife's lawyer. Everything about this man screamed "wacko". He kept going on about how the lawyers handled things poorly and he ended up firing his, etc. But then, of course, he ended by saying that he would definitely be impartial in this case. Every juror, no matter what their life experience was, always said that they would definitely "be impartial". Of course people are going to say that! Because they want to be picked! But I don't care how much that guy sugar-coated things...he obviously hates lawyers, so what lawyer would want him on the case?

This process actually frustrated me a bit because no matter how many people say that they'll be 100% impartial, it's not always 100% true. Especially in the case of Crazy I-Hate-Laywers Man. And the questions the lawyers asked were mainly leading questions which required really only one-word answers. How much can you really learn about a person if you're asking the wrong questions and leading them to the answer anyway? If it was up to me, I'd hire a court-appointed psychologist to the jury selection because this process has shown me that the lawyers might not always be picking people who will be "impartial"...even though that's what they are supposed to be doing.

Anyway, I didn't get picked, so now I can talk about the case if I want, so here's the info:

Type: Criminal.
Length: 6 weeks (at least).
Defendant: A young man from Gilbert, AZ (he seriously looked like he was 14 years old...but I think he's 22 or 23).
Prosecution: State of Arizona.
Charge: Child abuse and first degree murder of a 13-month old child.

Ummm...yeah. The evidence/pictures alone would probably have made my stomach turn. Even though it felt like a blow that I wasn't picked, I guess you could say that I'm actually glad they didn't pick me. Crazy, huh? At least now I won't get summoned for at least another 18 months!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

travel ambitions

Remember my post last year about places that I want to go in my lifetime?

Didn't think so. :-)

You can view that post here but, more importantly, I have realized that I want to update the list. I realize that some of these places are expensive considering we can't even afford the cost for a trip to New England! So I guess you could consider these somewhat lofty dreams...but daydreams are so nice, aren't they?

Salzburg, Austria

New Zealand

Rome and Vatican City

Alaska (via cruise)

Cannon Beach, OR

Santorini (and any of the Cyclades)


(okay, I know we already put Alaska, but the Northern Lights are just so awesome!)

Great Britain

Paris, France

Delft, Netherlands

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


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