Alert Alert!

Just posting a heads up that I’m in the process of moving. Nothing nearly as disruptive as my last move—just moving across town—but still the kind of thing that will cause blogging to get interrupted.

Photos have already been drying up for a few months. I’ve been pretty lax on my contributions over at SABR (despite having more responsibilities there now). Having to disconnect and reconnect my internet will literally knock me off the web for a bit.

But I’ll be back as soon as I’m able…hopefully with a full hopper of posts I’ve written and feeling rejuvenated by having moved out of a small apartment into a home where we’re no longer all getting in each others’ way. The kids are looking forward to having their own rooms. I’ll have a proper office. It’ll be great.

Also, anyone planning on mailing me cards (or anything else), please ping me on twitter or shoot me an email so you know where to send stuff. And if you just mailed something? Don’t fret. The nice thing about just moving across town is that we’ll be able to move in a less traumatic fashion than having to clear everything out in a single weekend; i.e. I’ll have access to my old mailing address for a few more weeks.

Oh, and if you sent me anything recently, my post acknowledging the trade and thanking you for sending me something cool will be delayed. I WILL get to those though. Saying thanks on here for other people’s generosity is something I take very very seriously.

Thanks for reading! I apologize for the interruption.

Hiatus/Apologies/Excuses

I’m beginning the intense portion of a cross-country move from California* to New Jersey** next month. Which means that blogposts will dry up a bit until I’m done dealing with move logistics, packing, unpacking, apartment set up, etc. If things start to look a bit thin or weird next month, don’t worry, the blog isn’t dying.

*San Francisco Bay Area for anyone who’s not managed to figure it out by the museums I go to and sports teams I like.

**Princeton area. So not really New York vicinity, Philadelphia vicinity, nor The Shore. Also, according to what most people tell us, not really New Jersey either. 

I expect to be able to ramp things up again come September* once the move is complete and everything is all set up. Until then, I apologize for the interruption.

*Heck, since I’ll be unemployed starting in September, I’ll have plenty of time to blog.

The good news is that I’ve got a ton of drafts and ideas in the hopper just waiting for me to devote the time to working them out. I’ve also got a massive* backlog of digital photos to process and film to scan.

*For me. 2 months of digital images and a half-dozen rolls of film.

I’ve already visited the area once and managed to take a trip to the Princeton Museum of Art. So I’ll have a trip writeup sometime. I’m looking forward to getting to museums in both New York and Philly as well. Obviously the museums I write about are going to change dramatically—it’s not just due to SFMOMA being closed for three years.

Oh, and there will probably be a bunch of lousy photos of the area as I get them all out of my system.

Thanks for reading.

Jury Duty

A couple weeks ago I got tagged for jury duty and actually had to report. It’s both exciting and daunting to actually consider being on a jury. While I believe it’s a civic duty and would love to know more about the legal stuff, it’s also a huge pain in the ass which can never come at a good time.

When I reported on Wednesday, it turned out to be quite a bit more exciting and quite a bit more daunting. Murder. Insanity plea. Six-week estimated length of trial.

Gulp.

I think everyone was sort of shellshocked. There’s definitely something sexy about murder. At the same time, six weeks off of work (i.e. six weeks remoting in after-hours from home) is brutal.

Wednesday ended up being a mass dismissal of all non-English speakers and anyone whose job wouldn’t compensate them for the time off.* The rest of us filled out a massive 20-page questionnaire about our opinions of and experiences with the police, attorneys, the 5th amendment, self-defense, mental illness, etc. After filling out the form, we were instructed to report back on Tuesday.

*Thought experiment. And not suggesting that I can think of any better way to do this. Is it fair to the defendant to exclude any non-salary, non-exempt worker from the jury?

On Tuesday, the actual jury selection begins. 18 lucky contestants are chosen for the panel and the lawyers go to town. I am not selected. Like the rest of the group, I find this kind of annoying. Yay for more waiting.

The questioning from the lawyers and the instructions from the judge are pretty interesting though. I get a definite sense that they’re actually working together to pick a good jury. All are stressing the importance of the 5th amendment and really hammering on anyone who shows any sort of bias to make sure it’s legitimate rather than just an attempt to get off the jury. Also interesting is how many of the panelists appear to be actively trying to please the attorneys. I can’t figure out whether this is due to people wanting to be on the jury or cagey attorneys taking advantage of our natural instinct to please.

I’m also beginning to notice important themes for both the DA and the Defense. The Defense is really trying to determine if people are open to the concept of adult-onset mental illness with no prior medical history. The Defense is also really pushing the concept of trying to determine exactly what was going through the defendant’s head during the act.* Meanwhile the DA is looking for people willing to trust circumstantial evidence. Oh, and it turns out that this is definitely not an “is this the right guy” case but rather an “is it really murder” case. Also, it’s a stabbing. And prostitution is involved.

*I don’t think I can be fully convinced of this. I can buy self-defense stuff, at the same time, I do believe that certain societal rules should be followed and don’t require understanding of the underlying principles. Being nice to other people is one of those rules. My son is 18-months old and we’re teaching him this. We’re not wasting our time with explaining why.

We make it to the end of Tuesday before we get to the exclusion phase. Seven panelists are dismissed, seven new ones are brought in, and we all switch our opinions about hoping our names are called.

The good news is: eleven jury members selected, only four (one jury and three alternates) left to go. The bad news is that holy crap, they’re not really excluding people. And yes, my brain has decided that I do not want to be on the jury.

We’re to report back the next day.

Wednesday morning, the same kind of questions. The new panelists have had time to think though and do a better job at not giving in to the lawyers. The next exclusion phase results on tossing another 7 panelists (including a couple of the originally selected group—I guess the lawyers had some extra time to think overnight too). Now we’re all nervous. We don’t want to get selected and how long is the selection process going to take?

More questions followed by two exclusions. After both attorneys pass, all of us in the gallery sort of gasp. We can do the math and realize that things are almost done. Also, it’s ~11:00 and there’s a chance we can go home before lunch.

Or not. We enter a long recess which lasts until we’re informed to come back at 1:30.

We grumble our way back at 1:30. Jury is sworn in. Alternate-selection begins. Crap. I don’t think any of us realized that alternate selection was the same process as jury selection. Only one exclusion is exercised though. And it’s because the DA wants to choose which of the four remaining panelists are alternates rather than let the judge do the picking.

We’re out by 2:00. Woohoo!

Final thoughts? I’m generally impressed with what I saw. Waiting sucks. But the court I was in seemed to be committed to actually educating us about basic legal practices. Is definitely an interesting process. And I’m a bit sad I missed all the groveling to get out for “personal hardship.”