Sunday, October 28, 2012


I'm lucky enough to live in a city that handles "severe" weather pretty well. Still, it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

I won't rush out to purchase bread, milk, or eggs. We might need some D batteries for the big radio in the kitchen in case the power goes out, but I have my Walkman and we have a plethora of the AA batteries it consumes, as does the portable speaker unit we can plug into the Walkman.

I may hit the grocery store for silly things: Mexican cheese to top chili; more onions for sausage, pepper & onion sandwiches; apples, just because they're tasty this time of year. Other than that, my freezer and larder are already in winter preparedness mode. Cans of beans, broths, and tomatoes in various formats; rice and pasta; various types of breads and rolls (all in the freezer). Cheeses. All kinds of frozen veggies -- spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans. And there's the cooking water from last week's spaghetti squash experiment. I froze it so use in soups. Did I mention I have a gas stove, so cooking isn't an issue?

We discussed whether or not to keep our cars in the garage. If there's a power outage, we won't be able to get to them. We decided to risk it.

My children are both away at colleges that are used to severe weather situations and that have plans in place for the safety of their students. Y-Chromo is a Resident Advisor, so he's in on all of the preparedness planning. Besides, he's an old hand at it, having suffered through Irene last September. X-Chromo's school is more of a blizzard-survival kind of place, but high winds are high winds, and her school has a rep for high winds, including rumors of a minimum weight requirement for students (not true) and stories of ropes strung along all the walkways for students to grasp so they won't be blown into the lake (also not true).

So I'm not going to obsessively worry about them. Obsessive worrying will only make me crazy, which accomplishes nothing except making me crazy, which isn't one of my goals in life. I have to trust their good judgment and the people in charge of the facilities.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

City Living

We live in a medium sized city, best known for the basketball team of the university bearing the same name as the city. TV Stevie and I like living in the city. He is a Bronx native, and I'm from rural upstate New York. Our city is a nice compromise between the two.

When our children were in school, we debated moving to the 'burbs, but couldn't swing it at the time. We learned the public schools aren't as bad as people -- the press and others -- make them out to be. My children just as well on their state tests as children in suburban schools. Maybe they didn't have as many opportunities for after school activities, but that's life. That's reality. They were both accepted into every college to which they applied and both are doing just fine.

We like the convenience of being only minutes from the entertainment venues: the baseball stadium, the Civic Center, and the various theatrical venues. Our city is also located less than two hours from other things we enjoy. It's a good place to live.

But there are downsides, and in recent months, those downsides are becoming more prevalent. People now drop their unwanted electronics on our corner. The city says it's our problem.

People let their dogs do their business on our lawn and don't clean up after the beasts. Or, as has happened a couple of times, do clean it up, but place the bags of excrement in our garbage can. Seriously. And last weekend, TV discovered that someone is letting a large dog walk up the driveway of the house next door to us, where the dog does its business on the strip of grass belonging to us that TV tries to keep mown. People, I don't let my children crap on your grass. Please return the courtesy!

A few weeks ago, TV discovered a bag of batteries on our lawn. Someone just tossed them there, so it became our responsibility to recycle them.

Speaking of recycling, since our supermarket has installed machines to handle bottle & can recycling, we've debated whether or not recycling is worth the aggravation. But don't despair! Our bottles and cans won't go into a landfill. Every garbage night, the scavengers roam, looking for anything they can recycle (they once woke me up while beating apart our old sleeper sofa for the metal). Maybe putting our cans and bottles in our recycle bin will put food on a poor person's table or school supplies for an underprivileged student.

Someone else recycling our cans and bottles could be another benefit of city living.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jury Duty Observations

Several weeks ago, I received a questionnaire with regard to jury duty. I replied on-line. A few weeks later, I received a summons.

Unlike many people, the thought of jury duty doesn't annoy me. I'm fascinated by the process and would love to sit on a jury. Plus I'm a reader, which means if there's a chance I'm going to be sitting around waiting for something, there's going to be a book in my bag. What's not to like about a day off from work reading?

I had to report on Tuesday, as Monday was Columbus Day observed. I arrived early enough to park in the garage where I could get a discounted rate. (Yes, it still cost me $4 to park, something that irks me, but it's part of the free enterprise system, right?)

While going through the metal detectors and other processes required to become a juror, I noticed there are a lot of smokers left in the world. Most of them seemed concentrated in that room. Around me. There's nothing like the stench of cigarette smoke mixed with heavy perfume to annoy a person. I was also surprised at the number of people wearing jeans.

I was in the first batch of jurors to be assigned to a case. Manslaughter.

My number had yet to be called when we were dismissed for lunch. I was lucky and found a hot dog vendor and a bench in the warm autumn sunshine. Perfect day to sit outside and eat.

I was the final potential juror called before the mid-afternoon break. The prosecutor asked me one question (several versions of the same question): did I understand the difference between intent and premeditation? The defense ignored me. I was dismissed at around 4pm.

The consensus of the other dismissed jurors was the same as mine: the defendant was going claim bullying as a motive, the prosecution was going to say the defendant waiting too long (another day?) to defend himself.

I enjoyed listening to the responses of the other potential jurors, especially one young man, Respiratory Therapist. When asked if someone were beating up on him, would he use a gun to defend himself, RT replied that he might. Not to shoot someone, but if he had one, he might pull it out to intimidate his attacker. RT also had many disparaging things to say about the site of the crime. "Everybody knows the southside is a bad section," he said.

Then the topic of bullying came up again. One potential juror said, "It's been around forever, but now it's a societal issue." He did not speak in a positive manner. RT carried the discussion even further: "It's like giving last-place teams a trophy because they participated. That's what's wrong with the world today. So people get bullied. Get over it. "

Wow. As a clutch of us walked back to the parking garage, RT admitted he might have laid it on a bit thick so he'd be dismissed, but he also didn't lie about his beliefs.

And now I'm done for at least ten years.