Saturday, September 24, 2011

And These Are the Daily Admonitions

My jury duty commitment ended this Wednesday.  It ran for 4 months, from Friday, the 27th of May until Wednesday, September 21.
Yesterday it was a little hard to believe that I would not be heading out to swear at the traffic on the freeway, be told to park "on levels three or higher" when I got to the parking garage, and sit in a basement grand jury room, listening to cases about stupid people doing (for the most part) stupid things.  Most of the cases we heard did fall into this category, although it pains me to admit that I will likely be haunted by some of the examples of the worst of humanity that we also had to sit through.  Fortunately, the stupid cases far outweighed the heartwrenchingly awful ones.
When I first received my summons (the one that cordially invited me and said that if I couldn't make it I'd only have to pay a $500 fine), I had many friends make suggestions on how to get out of jury duty.  As well-intentioned as my friends are, none of those suggestions are really germane to a grand jury selection process (although they might still be applicable for a trial jury).
I'll be honest - I truly enjoyed the experience.  Sure, once the school year started up again, I sometimes allowed the stress of trying to get 40 hours' worth of work done in 24 each week to get to me, but this process really opened my eyes to the judicial process and gave me a new appreciation of it that a college-level course on the three branches of government never could.  I know that many of my fellow jurors were similarly inconvenienced, and several of us spent some of our lunch hours making calls, checking emails, and otherwise completing work projects when we would have preferred to actually go to lunch and relax a little bit.
While I am forever sworn to secrecy about the cases that I heard and the decisions that we made, I thought it might be helpful to educate my fellow citizens on the ins and outs of the grand jury selection process as well as the daily procedures once empaneled on a grand jury so that those lucky few who receive the same engraved invitation I did know what to expect.  Should any of my fellow jurors stumble across this, please feel free to leave additional recommendations in order to make the whole experience easier on the newbies who will follow in our footsteps.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saving the World - NOCC's Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer

I'm writing this post fewer than 24 hours after receiving a text from my co-worker, Alicia.  Lily's cancer is in remission.  In remission.  IN REMISSION.  It was only 9 months ago that their family's world was turned upside down, and now, while there are still a few more tests that need to be run, I'm overjoyed that the family can now start returning to the "normal" that they once knew.
This morning marked the beginning of my fall race/run season.  While the summer months here in Arizona are far too hot to take even a leisurely two-mile jog, now that the temperatures are now moving back into the double digits (something that nearly requires a state holiday here), I was excited to start getting back into the swing of things.  What better way to do so than to honor my paternal grandmother, Lenora Elsie (Thayer) Jones, who passed away in 1977, before I was born, from ovarian cancer.

My grandmother, Lenora, with my dad
in August 1955.
I wear teal to honor her.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So Go Downtown - Things'll Be Great

I only have three more days of jury duty.  While it's been a truly fascinating experience - I really don't get why people try so desperately hard to get out of it - the toll of being gone from my job twice a week is truly taking a toll on me, and I'm looking forward to having those two days back so I don't feel compelled to stay up until all hours in order to get assignments graded and returned, etc.  I am thankful that I have an exceptionally supportive department chair and principal, and my other department members and colleagues have offered some fantastic encouragement as well.  Everyone should feel so fortunate in their workplace.
But I think one of the best aspects of being on jury duty is that it has forced me to be in downtown Phoenix all day for each of those two days.  Now, many large cities that I have visited have a bustling atmosphere, and Phoenix is not that different.  During the day.  But in past years, unless there was a sporting event or concert, the city practically rolled up the sidewalks come 5PM.  That's the thing about the Phoenix Metro Area (known to locals as The Valley) - since we have everything we might "need" in our own particular suburbs, there isn't that same need to head downtown.  While we do go to Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe with friends every New Year's Day (gotta get those beans and greens!), usually we stick close to home.  Why go to Majerle's near the ballpark when there is one in Chandler (same could be said for Coach and Willie's now, too)?  Who needs to go to the comedy club on Jefferson when the Improv is in Tempe?  And don't get me started on parking - it's a b****.