Monday, October 31, 2005

Jury Duty

Tomorrow I report as directed to fulfill my duty as a productive and conscientious citizen. Also, it's a day away from the office with pay so that makes it a lot easier to be enthusiastic. Regardless of my motivation, however, I have always liked being called for jury duty. I'll read a book and listen to some music. We'll get about 2 hours for lunch so I'll get to go someplace better than my usual "I've only got 30 minutes so this better be quick" joints. Best of all, there is a small chance I'll actually make a jury this time.

I've come to regard jury duty as sort of a contest. A bunch of people sit around waiting for their number to be called. It's a little like a raffle I suppose. In any case I am aware that most people do not like jury duty and go to great lengths to avoid it. Me, I have always wanted to be on a jury. Perhaps I am being naive about this but I think it would be terribly interesting. Plus I think I would be a good juror. I believe I would take it very seriously and try very hard to be objective and reasonable.

The closest I ever got to being a juror was one time when I actually made it up to the box for questioning by the attorneys. Unfortunately for me the case involved welfare fraud and I am a social worker for the welfare department. I assured them I could be fair and unbiased but they thought it would be a conflict of interest and excused me. In hindsight I suppose they were right. Oh well, maybe this time I'll make it. If not, what the hell, a change in the routine is always welcome.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

There's a couple of things you don't usually see at a funeral

Last weekend I went up to a town called Antioch, near San Francisco, for the memorial party of my friend John. The party was held at a place called the Beer Garden, which is a dive but it was his favorite. The owner of the place closed up for the day, provided all the food and booked a kick ass band to boot. Loyal customers are remembered and rewarded at a place like this. The family provided an ungodly supply of booze so it was an open bar as well.

I'd guess that there were 50 to 60 people who showed up. I don't think there'd have been half that many for a traditional service. I would have gone regardless but having worked at a funeral home for a couple years I was very pleased to avoid some rent-a-pastor's generic sermon. I found this party to be much more satisfying as a way to say goodbye. I think most of the attendees would agree.

One item of note:

The ex-stripper adopted daughter of the deceased flashed her breasts at the crowd from the bandstand after the family had been introduced. This was greated with great applause and no small amount of admiration. Her uncle was overheard to say, "That's Mary for you, get a couple drinks in her and it's out with the tits". Personally, I thought it was a vast improvement over even the most heartfelt testimonials I ever heard at the funeral home.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

He had to gnaw his own foot off to escape

Last night I went to an preseason exhibition basketball game here in Bakersfield. The Lakers always play one preseason game here since there is supposedly a large fan base in this town. My friend Mike had gotten some comp tickets from his boss and although I don't really like basketball I figured what the hell, it's free. Don't get me wrong, I understand basketball and can follow a game just fine. I just don't care.

The Lakers were playing the Wizards. Now I grew up in the DC area so I know that the team is really called the Bullets. Awhile back some pinhead decided that "Bullets" carries negative connotations and they were forced to change their name. They held a contest and allowed people to write in their suggestions. Somehow Wizards won. The name sucks, but since I don't actually care about basketball it is only a theoretical annoyance.

The only player whose name I had heard was Kobe Bryant. I am pleased to report that during the entire time I watched the game he never had sex (consensual or otherwise) with anybody. Apart from keeping tabs on Kobe I didn't find the game all that exciting. I assumed that there would be a good sized crowd but the arena was only about 2/3 full. I ended up leaving about half way through the second period. They had pulled the starters and things were getting sloppy. I did notice that the Lakers have a player named Smoosh. That was kind of funny.

Anyway, my reason for writing about this: In order to get to our seats we went to the row above them and attempted to step down into them. I went first and after carefully examining the approach I chose to step on the arm rest and proceed from there. This turned out to be the correct method. Mike did not utilize the same technique. Instead he chose to step onto the front of the folding seat with his right foot and bring his left foot down on the back of the folding seat. He then lifted his right foot to put it on the floor. Naturally the left foot on the back of the seat caused it to fold up. He was now standing with his left foot on the floor and his calf pinned between the seat and the backrest. And he couldn't get it out.

The best (or worst, depending on your point of view) part was that everyone behind him had seen it happen and were now waiting to see what happens next. It didn't help matters that I was paralyzed with laughter and completely unable to assist. People began shouting out helpful advice. Things like: "Pour some beer on it, it'll loosen it up" and "You're gonna have to gnaw it off at the knee". Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed and after 5 minutes of careful manuevering he was able to catch the heel of his shoe on the seat and pry it off, allowing him to finally free his foot of it's confinement. The crowd went nuts. I believe that for many of them it was more entertaining than the game. I know I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

John Hopper, 1946 - 2005

Today my friend John Hopper died of cancer. He was a good man and will be missed by many. He was just about the only person I knew when I moved to Bakersfield. He always made sure I was included and made me feel welcomed. He made my transition infinitely better than it otherwise might have been. For that kindness and for many others over the years I will always be thankful. Goodbye John. You were a strong and reliable friend and I'll miss you very much.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Had to come back

So I had a weeks vacation to spend but I'd be doing it alone. What better way to kill a week alone than by going to Las Vegas and dropping off some money. It's a tolerable 4 to 5 hour drive from here and since I'm not overly imaginative I decided to go.

One thing I learned is that on a long trip XM radio's stand up comedy channel is fantastic. It's almost like having a passenger. Much more entertaining than music.

The other thing I learned is that I don't like the Luxor casino. It's too damned big. I got lost several times. Also, since it is a pyramid, the elevators (or inclinators, as they called them), go up diagonally. So you not only have the normal downward force but a very disconcerting sideways force as well. Luckily I am not a drinker but I can imagine the effect this would have on someone who had taken liberties with the free drinks at the tables.

Anyway, it was a fun trip and I'd like to say that it's great to get back to work. But that would be a lie.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Gotta go

Going on vacation. See you all next week.