Thursday the 3rd
…didn’t get picked.
I was glad I didn’t get selected, but would not have been disappointed had I been. This wasn’t for a regular trial session jury, but for Grand Jury duty. You would have to report one Thursday per month (more if needed) to decide if the prosecution’s case had merit for trial and if it did, hand down indictments. There are 18 Grand Jurors, 12 picked today for the year of 2008 and 6 returning members from 2007. So, although today’s lucky selectees were chosen to serve for one year, half of them would get held over and serve a second year.
First, all of us assembled in an unused court room and then at the appointed time we were guided into the actual court room. The judge came in and then the Clerk called the role. We were numbered alphabetically, so because my last name starts with a B I was a low number. As the clerk called our number, starting at #1 and going all the way up to #99, we had to stand and say aloud our name. They skipped quite a few numbers/names, leading me to believe some folks had called in with excuses already.
After everyone had sounded off, the clerk informed the judge he had 64 perspective jurors with one no-show. He asked the missing persons name and then told his bailiff to inform the Sheriff’s Office that he wanted a bench warrant issued for that person to be before him next Monday at 9:30. The judge then read a series of questions that if you could answer yes to you might be excused from duty. One person was excused because they had moved to Augusta (last weekend) and two more were excused for medical reasons. There were about a half dozen who had hardships that made it inconvenient to serve once a month and they got swapped into the regular jury pool for a two week session later in the year.
This left about 55 people eligible for the 15 spots (twelve plus three alternates) giving me a 27% chance of getting chosen. Our juror number and names were written on small slips of paper and loaded into a “high tech’ metal box the size of a cigar box and professional shaken up by the Assistant Clerk of Court. The slips of paper were then drawn out one at a time.
The first number called was for a woman seated right behind me. She muttered an expletive under her breath as she made her way up front. The woman sitting next to me went “Oh my,” in mock surprise. I whispered to her, “Yeah, she didn’t seem to happy about that.” About halfway through calling the 12 Grand Jurors, the clerk called out, “Juror number six – ty seven.” My heart skipped a beat there. I figured for sure that I was going to get picked as one of three alternates, but didn’t.
All of us unwanted jurors were directed back to the original room where we were given a written excuse for work and a check for $20.
Thanks Aiken County for buying my wife and I BBQ at Bobby’s for tonight’s dinner.
Scratch and Sniff Post
Wednesday the 20th
I didn’t recognize it, wasn’t motor oil, wasn’t gasoline and it was not anti-freeze. Wasn’t coming from the car at all. It really only smelled right on the stairs from the house to the garage. I opened the cabinet doors one by one and sniffed. It was faintly there, but I was unable to pinpoint it. Didn’t smell like paint and it wasn’t natural gas. It had a sweet odor, so it certainly wasn’t a dead critter under the house.
As I pulled into the garage tonight after work the smell was still there, so I started a more thorough search of the garage. Wasn’t the fire ant killer or the potting soil. Not the 3 in 1 oil or the liquid wrench. Didn’t come from the car wax or Amour-All. Not the Simple Green nor the tire shine. Wasn’t coming from the bicycle chain lube. Ditto the “clean” rags. Not the wallpaper paste or the wallpaper remover. Kind of smells like it was coming from the spray paint area. Didn’t smell like paint, but I started pulling out the dozen cans of partially full cans. What’s this?
AH HA! A pint can of Paint & Varnish Remover way in the back. As soon as I put it on the counter I knew I’d found the culprit. I don’t remember ever buying this. Probably purchased when we first moved into the place to clean paint off the molding or something. Pretty toxic stuff I guess, only took 18 years to eat right through the metal can.
Happy Daylight Savings Time Day
Saturday the 8th
If your family is anything like my family, today is a big day and celebrated by exchanging gifts. We are biding our time signing carols and drinking the traditional aqua vitae until the appointed hour when we gather around and watch the lower right of the PC screen as the hour magically jumps back from 2:00 AM to 1:00 AM.
Now excuse me while I go change all the other clocks in the house to tomorrow already.
That Was Unexpected
Thursday the 24th
A co-worker (Hi Mark) and his sister are always trading gotchas and he has been after me to take some cheesy steering wheel cover on vacation out west and mail it to her so she won’t have a clue who sent it to her. Seeing as we are redoing bathrooms in lieu of going west this year he cooked up a different plan that I could help with. And it fit right into Donna and my Post Office picture taking.
Mark bought a deck of cards, a box of envelopes and 3 books of stamps. We would put one playing card in an envelope and mail it to his sister from each Post Office we visited. I used a laser printer and addressed 55 envelopes to his sister with a return address of John Smith, 123 Main St, Anytown, USA 123456. The first envelope contained the box so she would have a place to put the cards when they arrived. To ensure she kept the box I printed out a little note to go in the envelope with the help of the Ransom Note Generator. Two weekends ago Donna and I made a trip up to Greenwood, SC to mail the box. We picked Greenwood, the sister’s hometown, so she wouldn’t immediately suspect Mark (even though he knew she would think it was him anyway.) Mark didn’t even tell his wife what we were up to because he knew his sister would call her and get the truth out of her.
Because I didn’t want to just put a playing card in an envelope, I was going to put a piece of blank paper in with it. Then I thought maybe I’d put one word on the paper and when she had all the pieces of paper there would be a sentence that explained the whole gag. But I thought that was a little too much, so Plan B was to gather 52 quotes from the internet and put one on each page. For extra fun I made sure to get a quote that included a bolded word matching the card, i.e. “When I have to choose between two evils, I always try to pick the one I haven’t tried before.” – Mae West went in with the two of clubs.
This weekend when we went on our PO photo trip we mailed an envelope from nearly every Post Office on Saturday and a couple more on Sunday. Because the Post Offices were all closed when we got to them we mailed them inside when we could, but most ended up in the blue box outside. Because the blue boxes don’t get emptied until late in the day, almost all our “letters” didn’t make it into the system until Monday night.
Yesterday Mark’s sister got 11 pieces of mail that included a playing card and a quote. Now here is where it went off course, instead of thinking it was her brother having a little fun, she thought someone was harassing her and went to the local police. That’s right – the police.
This morning Mark’s sister called Mark’s wife to tell her about the ordeal she was going through. Now because Mark’s wife knows nothing of the prank she can only listen with concern about the problem. Naturally when they get off the phone with each other, Mark’s wife calls him. She tells him about his sister going to the police with these harassing letters and how the officer has told her it looks like the work of a sexual predator and if she gets anymore (which she will tomorrow) to bring them right in and they’ll try and get some fingerprints off them. At this point Mark realizes the jig is up and confesses to his wife that he was behind the letters.
Mark then came up front to tell Donna and I the story where we all had a great big laugh about it. Then, because both Donna and my fingerprints are on file from being in the military, and not being real sure how serious the detective was taking the case and not wanting to really worry his sister Mark emailed the quote file to her and then called to tell her to check her email while he was on the phone with her. She was somewhat relieved at not being stalked, but somewhat mad. We are hoping in a couple weeks she will see the humor in the whole thing.
Hail To The Emperor
Tuesday the 20th
There was a 40% chance of afternoon thunder showers. We took the umbrella to work, but left it in the trunk. My job was to keep track of the radar and if it looked like thunder rolling our way I was to go out, take off the cockpit cover, raise the top and bring the umbrella back in.
I failed miserably at my job. When it was time to go home at 4:00 PM I got up from my desk and walked down to the other end of the plant to get Donna. As I passed by some windows it looked very dark. Uh-oh! As we left the plant someone was walking in with an umbrella saying that it had just started raining. He was right and they were big fat drops too. As we walked quickly to the car the rain intensity picked up rapidly. We started running (this is the only time I regret parking in the north forty), it was coming down at a pretty good clip by the time we reached the car. I popped the trunk tossed in everything I was carrying and started to take off the cockpit cover. Tossed the roof up and Donna tried valiantly to click it down while I wadded up the soaking wet cockpit cover and tossed it too into the trunk. I started the car and raised the windows as the rain poured down. The interior was pretty dry, but we were pretty wet.
About a mile from the plant the skies really opened up, even with the wipers on high I had to slow down because of visibility. Then it sounded like somebody was shooting at us. Pow! Bam! Rat-A-Tat-Tat! Call 911 we’re under fire. It was hailing. Pea-sized up to grape-sized frozen water was pelting us. With absolutely no place to hide I just kept driving. I’m afraid to go out in the garage to look at the car and see if there are any little dents, but not as afraid as I was during the storm that the hail would get big enough to start tearing through the canvas roof and start hitting me on my noggin. After a couple more miles, and a couple more cloud bursts, the skies cleared, the rain stopped and we donned our sunglasses for the rest of the trip.
Monday the 30th
We did our weekly grocery shopping yesterday and as our custom I load the conveyor and Donna moves to the end and will start bagging if there is no one there. I have the coupons in my pocket (Donna hands them to me as we buy the item the coupon is for) and the loyalty card for the store in my wallet, plus I have the debit card for paying, so I stop opposite the cashier.
When the cashier was done scanning our items and deducting the coupons, I swiped the debit card. At this point, knowing my wallet is empty, Donna says, “Take out a couple extra bucks.” This is unnerving because I am used to requests for specific amounts. I ask Donna what she means by a couple. Her answer was even more unsettling, “Just round up the total.” Our bill was at that point ninety-four dollars and fourteen cents. Crap! She expected me to do math under pressure, the cashier was waiting, the woman behind me had her stuff on the conveyor belt…I couldn’t do it, I just knew I’d subtract wrong, forgetting to carry the one or something, and the bill would come to $101 or $99.
I punted, figured I would just take out ten bucks, that should be easy. I push the other key, hit the 1 and the 0 and hit OK. Your total is $94.24. Damn that’s ten cents! Cancel. Back. Cancel. Panic.
I just know everyone around is staring at the doofus who can’t operate the card console. In my head I imagine the kid at the service desk is making an announcement, “Attention Kroger shoppers. Gather around Register #5 and watch an old guy try to operate the credit card reader. Grab a latte at the Starbucks counter and come on up front because next he’ll be trying to pay using the change from one of those little rubber things with a split in it that even your grandfather is too cool to use anymore.”
Miraculously all my button pushing has brought me back to the “Would you like cash back?” screen without having to swipe the card again. Alright, I want ten bucks, not ten cents. I push the key opposite other and push the one and the zero keys, then the big green Yes button. There. That wasn’t so hard was it?
Apparently it was hard, because the cashier hands me my receipt and my dime change.
And while I’m sure she was trying to be helpful by pointing me to the ATM machine near the service desk, I wasn’t listening to the cashier, I mumbled rudely, “No thanks. I don’t really need it.” I just wanted out of the store.
My very supportive wife waited until we got outside in the parking lot before she started laughing at me…
Goo Goo Eyes
Wednesday the 16th
Today we rode the tandem into work and our arrival time was around 15 minutes before the opening bell, so to speak, for most of the hourly employees, so quite a few of them were sitting under the break area awning getting in one last smoke before going to work. Unfortunately the bike rack where we are supposed to park is like 15 feet from the awning, so Donna and I have to unload our lunches and change of clothes right in front of the crowd.
Now a person on a bicycle is a rare enough sight as it is, but put two people on a long ass bike and we are talking parade level attention. One of the engineers was arriving at the same time and as he walked up to the building he noticed us unloading, but what he found most eye-catching was not us, but the looks of all the other employees openly gawking at Donna and I. He said nearly everyone was looking in our direction with sort of an incredulous look, as if they were thinking to themselves that no sane person would ride that thing.
Yesterday we had a very busy day, so instead of coming home and cooking something we dined out at what used to be one of our favorite south side eateries, Wing Place (why it “used to be” is the subject of another post.) When we were finished eating and heading for the door there was also a mom leaving with her daughter just in front of us. The girl was somewhere between to ages of seven and ten, very cute, with long curly light colored hair, a big ol’ smile and the largest eyes you ever saw. I really noticed the eyes because they were aimed directly at me. This girl was staring at me like I was a movie star or a pony.
As it turned out, mom and daughter were parked next to us in the parking lot, so we were more or less following them. About half way towards the cars I got another look from the little girl. Donna wondered if I dripped a bunch of ranch dipping sauce down the front of my shirt and she hadn’t noticed. Mom loaded the little girl in the back of their Jeep Wrangler as we got into the Miata. The girl was looking over at me, with an almost wistful expression, like maybe she was wishing it was her getting into the Miata instead of Donna. As the mom was going around to the driver’s side of their vehicle we put the top down. The girl was still looking our way with her big eyes and her chin in her hands with her elbows on the side of the Jeep and I could swear she let out a sigh of regret, it was almost creepy.
What Is Love?
Monday the 10th
Sunday nights from 6 PM until whenever, Bravo runs a Law & Order: Criminal Intent mini-marathon and I like to watch the repeats of older shows until 9 PM when USA runs a new episode. The original L & O is still the best (although sometimes their twists at the end stretch credibility), occasionally L & O:SVU leaves me feeling like a voyeuristic pervert, but L & O:CI is a guilty pleasure with Goren, it’s quirky lead detective and Eames his sneaky hot partner poking and prying until they get to the bottom of the crime.
I’m sure because of contractual obligations Bravo only gets to show certain seasons of the show, so nearly all the time I will recognize the episode as one I’ve seen and watch it again anyway. Sometimes I get real lucky and I won’t have seen it for a while, meaning I have forgotten who the killer is, so the show is a real treat. Rarely, I will stumble on an episode I haven’t ever seen at all before. Tonight at 7 o’clock that happened and it was exciting.
At ten minutes after seven my wife came into the living room and asked if she could have the TV, the Olympics were on and there was going to be swimming, diving and gymnastics tonight. I said, “Sure, go ahead.” That my friend is love.
When it turns out they were showing synchronized diving right then I didn’t make her turn it back to L & O:CI. That my friend is true love.
Sunday the 7th
Sung to the tune of Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair):
“If you’re going to walk Hitchcock Woods
You’ll be sure to get spiders in your hair
If you’re going hiking in the woods
You’re gonna see lots of animals in there”
On our walk in the woods this morning we saw several humans, some with dogs, some on horses and a couple on foot. We saw a fox squirrel and lots of spider webs, even some with spiders still in them. We heard several different species of birds. We saw a toad, a salamander and a snake. A SNAKE!?!
He was a decent size one too. just lying there across the trail, probably 4 foot long. When I first noticed him he looked like a little krinkle french fry, all wavy like. Must have been asleep because when I poked him lightly with the end of my walking stick he smoothed right out and kind of looked up at me. Flicked his little red tongue at me several times and just stayed where he was. I’m thinking he was kinda pissed at me for waking him up because he pulled his head back like he was going to strike. I was still standing back away, just close enough to poke him again with my 4’ walking stick.
He didn’t like me poking him, but he still didn’t move off the trail until I kicked sand at him for the second time. He looked up at me once more, as if to remember my face, and slithered away slowly biding his time, probably planning when he could catch me unawares at another time.
Just after he left the trail Donna said, “Take it’s picture.” Good idea I thought, if I only had a camera. I did, like I always do, it was right there on the end of my walking stick. I just didn’t think to use that end of the stick; I was too busy poking with the other end.
Cash Back II
Thursday the 9th
On our way to get our monthly haircut Donna wanted to stop at Walgreen’s, she had a couple coupons that were burning a hole in her pocket. Of the three, there was only one we ended up using, eight Halloween themed pencils for a buck. With tax, $1.07. Donna asked for five or ten dollars cash back because she would need a few bucks in a couple days when she went out to lunch with her department. I figured if I just rounded up the bill to $10 that would do it. Donna agreed because that would give her some singles for a tip. I skillfully guided myself to the other amount screen for cash back while subtracting a dollar seven from ten. I typed in the amount I wanted back, hit OK and OK again. The cashier handed me my receipt and change and we headed for the door. When I looked down at the receipt total it was then that I realized the math tutoring from Jethro Bodine might have been a mistake.
I had asked for $8.83 back making my total debit purchase $9.90!
Oh, so close.
Thursday the 13th
At work a big chunk of the productive part of today was spent staring at nearly worthless PC. Half of everything that most people need to do their jobs and one major item, email, are controlled through servers in New Jersey and it seemed like maybe somebody parked their truck on the network hose and didn’t realize it. Started sometime mid morning and after lunch we got partial connectivity back and received this email:
From: Xxxxxx, Xxxxxxx [INDAUTO/ASCONUM/FP]
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 1:08 PM
Subject: NETWORK OUTAGE
Our Datacenter is still experiencing network problems as a result of several outages by our local telecom carrier. We have failed-over to a backup link and will continue to work on restoring the primary link. We are severely limited in bandwidth so please suspend all non-work related web/internet activities until our primary link is restored. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience and understanding. If you have any questions, please call me at the numbers listed below.
Manager, Network Systems
The highlighting is just as it came from the sender. My favorite part is the red letter words, “please suspend all non-work related web/internet activities” because I could swear that every employee has to sign off on a computer usage policy that expressly forbids using the net for anything non-business. I’m thinking that because this manager has to remind us not to use it for non-work, that perhaps he must think it is OK in other times to use it that way.
Tuesday the 16th
On our trip down I-95 in Florida on last Thursday I saw a most interesting car. I was in the center of the three lanes when I noticed a small black sedan with dark tinted windows approaching fast. In the center of the grill was a shiny oval badge with a large L in the center. The car was a Lexus. It looked smaller than their smallest cars the IS and as it passed by I didn’t recognize it. Now I’m a car guy, I read practically every major car magazine and check AutoBlog every day, so if Lexus has a car below the IS I would known about it. Once the car was past me I could see the back of the car and right there on the left of the trunk was a chrome Lexus badge, in the center of the rear panel was another oval Lexus logo where they were supposed to be. On the right side of the trunk was the clincher, a chrome IS250. A neighbor used to have an IS250 and this was definitely not one.
I wasn’t real sure what it was, but I had an idea and it was confirmed after I had internet access, it was a Toyota Yaris sedan. Props to the owner for a nearly thoroughly convincing job, he even stayed in the family so to speak. If he had just combined two badges on the back to give the car two letters that weren’t on a known model, like say IC250, I might have actually though I spotted a prototype.