Jury Duty

Our local independent weekly newspaper has a column called “WTF” that attempts to answer questions about local weirdness (e.g. “what the heck is that weird building down on the southern end of Dorset Street?”). This week’s WTF question was “WTF: Why Are Some People Called for Jury Duty While Others Never Are?

I’m 51 and have never served as a juror.

I registered to vote when I turned 18. I was a freshman in college down in Georgia when I received a jury summons for service back in my home county in Virginia. I filled out the response form with “off at college, kthxbye” and that was that. Never received a peep since.

Carole’s never been called at all, in any way, shape, or form.

I’m 51, and she’s 48. Between the two of us, zip, zilch, nada in terms of juror service. Neither of us has ever not been registered to vote, so you’d think our number would come up now and then, right?

But hey, probability says situations like ours must exist (as the WTF article linked above explains). Knowing that doesn’t stop me from feeling kind of … I dunno, left out.

Admittedly, it would be kind of a headache if I did get called because my work involves very frequent travel scheduled far in advance, but at the same time, it’d be an interesting experience… for some definition of “interesting”. It’d be nice just to see what goes on.

On the other hand, I understand that it’s not uncommon to get empaneled, make arrangements to have time off and get day care and stuff, only to have the case in question get plea bargained. Everything gets plea bargained these days, or so I understand.

Still. Even if I got called to be a juror for a case involving jaywalking in a blizzard at 2 am on a Sunday and it got pled down to fourth degree mopery and dopery, at least then I could puff out my chest and say “I’ve done my civic duty.”

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Another Year, Another Marauding Antediluvian Saurian Bearing Angiosperms

I think Champ is really obsessed with me. He came by my office for the second year in a row to wish me Happy Valentine’s Day!

Doesn’t he look bigger than last year? The handler who brought him in, said he’d been eating a lot of hot dogs. I dunno, I heard he’s been eating a lot of kids. 😉

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Wide Net

I’m like many of my peers in having a “wide net” that sweeps in all manner of trivia, facts, obscure details, and what-have-you and stores it away against a time when said knowledge will randomly come in handy. If you’re reading this and you know me, you probably have a pretty wide net as well. The people I know well all tend to have this in common.

I sometimes wonder, however, if mine is atypically wide — I have a bizarre set of interests that you don’t always find in the same brain. In the last 24 hours, I’ve been able to supply the names of two of the major players in the unification of Italy in the 1800s (Garibaldi and Cavour) and I’ve found myself using “DUUUVAL” as the meeting password to an online meeting with a customer located in Jacksonville, Florida. Sports geekihood and regular geekihood don’t always coincide.

Having such a wide net can be kind of a curse. Carole, who graduated from Harvard and who competed on Jeopardy nonetheless assumes that she can ask me virtually anything and I’ll know the answer. I’m her human Wikipedia. On those (admittedly rare) occasions when I don’t know the answer, she’s dumbfounded… and just asks again, much as one would rephrase a Google search that failed to find what you were looking for the first time. It couldn’t be that I actually don’t know … it’s just a matter of rephrasing the question so my brain will cough up what she’s looking for. When I tell her that I actually don’t know the answer, she gets vexed with me. “I don’t always know the answer, Carole” I say, and she says “Once in a blue moon, sure. But you usually DO.”

No, this isn’t a humblebrag. As I said, I know a lot of people with the same blessing/curse, the curse of knowing everything. It’s just kind of weird, is all. A lot of times I have literally no idea why I know something. Just that I do.

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Update From The Front Lines

I spend almost all my time traveling for work — until this week I’ve been on the road every week so far this year: Texas, Texas, Texas, Arkansas, Texas. It gets lonely on the road sometimes, especially when I’m one or more time zones away from home and when Carole doesn’t get home until late due to rehearsals (choir and orchestra on consecutive weeknights).

So I get a little attention-starved now and then. And so once in a while I try to do or say something via email that will get Carole’s attention. (It’s awkward to send a telegram-like email that says “I AM LONELY AND ATTENTION-STARVED STOP PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO ME STOP”, so I have to use subtler methods.)

Last week I did this:

Carole wrote me this morning and told me that I should do a screen-shot and post it here. Apparently she found it amusing enough that she looked back at it days later. So, hey, I guess I can call that “success”.

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Walking Sixty Miles To Fight Breast Cancer (Again, Naturally)

Hi, all.

I am signed up to walk in the 2019 Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day walk, a sixty-mile, three-day walk to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer.

In order to take part, I have to raise a minimum of $2,300. The money raised will go to pay for research, clinical trials, education, and treatment. I wouldn’t undertake an effort like this if I didn’t think that the fight against cancer was one worth fighting for.

This will be my 11th time taking part in a 3-Day walk. I walk and crew these events not because it’s an easy way to feel like I’ve made a little bit of a difference. Walking sixty miles is no weekend-in-the-park fun run. I walk because it’s important and because it’s hard. Finding a cure for cancer is hard. Changing a diagnosis of breast cancer from a death sentence to a manageable, treatable condition … that’s hard. And we have made strides — the odds are getting better. But there’s still many a tough mile left to walk.

Will you help by sponsoring me? You can donate here:

http://www.the3day.org/goto/carole

Thank you so much!

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Te Deum

Hey, all. I’m going to be singing in concert with the Green Mountain Mahler Festival this Saturday at St Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. The Green Mountain Mahler Festival doesn’t just do Mahler works — they do various readings of orchestral and choral works by all manner of composers. Sometimes we just come together and go through a work from beginning to end, but other times we rehearse all day and then do a concert for friends and family in the evening. That’s the case here. We’re going to do two Te Deums (orchestra and chorus), one by Bruckner and one by Dvorak ; the orchestra will also do the Adagio religioso from Lobgesang by Felix Mendelssohn.

It should be fun. I’ve performed with the Mahler Festival pick-up orchestra several times, sometimes playing French horn and other times as a vocalist. I’m singing alto this time around.

The concert is at Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 8:00 PM at the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel at Saint Michael’s College, in Colchester, Vermont. Admission is by free will donation; the donations will go to AgeWell. For more information visit vtmahler.org.

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Green Mountain Horn Club concert

The Green Mountain Horn Club — an all French horn ensemble founded in 1984 by Alan Parshley — holds concerts now and then when we can get people together. Recently we played in Lincoln, Vermont as part of their “Hill Country Holiday” celebration. The concert was held at the United Church of Lincoln and we had a pretty decent turnout.

The video, above, was shot by my husband Jay from the church balcony. The sound isn’t professional quality, obviously, but it’s not awful. There are a couple of breaks in the action when the camera chose of its own accord to just stop filming, but we only lost a couple of the spoken-word transitions between pieces that our conductor used to give our lips time to recover. All the music was recorded.

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Aloha

In a couple of days, I’m going to deactivate my social media accounts (again).

Q. Why?

A. I feel fairly guilty about the way in which I use social media.

I wish I could say I sign in to social media to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances, but that’s not really true. I mean, I’d love to know about the truly significant stuff, but the signal to noise ratio is so low that … well, I just don’t care enough to sort through it all. If something important happened in your life and you could have used my sympathy or support and I didn’t provide it, I’m sorry. I probably missed it completely.

Mostly, when you’ve seen me using social media, it’s been me engaging in attention-seeking behavior. And I’m embarrassed as hell to have to acknowledge that. I acknowledge that even the act of posting this is attention-seeking behavior. Why not just vanish, and say nothing? Well, I’m embarrassed as well about the prospect of just having done with it and ghosting the entire planet. I figured I should at least say why my accounts are going to go zot.

I care about y’all, but at the end of the day, the negative consequences of taking part in things like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram are seriously outweighing the positive. I’ll probably keep on posting to my blog at furrs.org — it’s kind of a way I keep track of my own thoughts and feelings… but it’s entirely up to you if you pay attention.

I acknowledge as well that this might be temporary, that I might be back in a month or two. For everyone’s sake, I hope not.

Thanks for everything. Be well.

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RIP Russell Baker (1925-1919)

I hardly ever post regarding the death of a celebrity; I reason that sufficient other people will take care of the public fawning over the dear departed’s legacy. (And that, in any event, it bothers me that we seem to care more about the lives of famous people who we have no actual connection with than our actual neighbors.)

Today, I’ll make an exception.

Russell Baker, humor columnist, passed away on Monday at the age of 93. You can read the Washington Post’s write-up here.

Mr. Baker managed the nearly impossible task of being wryly funny in print, every week, for years and years. That’s not easy. I loved his dry sense of humor and his self-deprecation. I didn’t grow up reading his columns because our local newspaper, the Roanoke Times, carried Art Buchwald’s columns instead, but I discovered Baker once I ventured out into the world. His columns are worth looking up and reading.

But that’s not the main reason I’m posting here on the occasion of his death. I’m posting to honor the author of an essay so funny that it’s literally been hanging in my kitchen for decades: “Francs and Beans“. You may disagree, but I think it’s one of the funniest things ever written. And so I choose to honor its author by saying “Mr. Baker, thanks for the laughs. You made the world a better place by being in it.”

“You were immense.”

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Snowpocalypse 2019 (January 20th edition)

So there was a big snowstorm overnight, with 18″ or more of snow falling here in Richmond, VT.

Okay, it wasn’t really a “snowpocalypse” in the sense of power going out and roads being impassable … mainly because it just never got windy. A quick check of the Green Mountain Power outage map just now showed everything A-ok.

To get real frustration, you need wind blowing drifts right back over roads that just got plowed, and wind bringing snow-laden branches down on power lines. What makes this latest storm stand out is that it’s below zero Fahrenheit, and anyone who lives in a snowy part of the continent knows that you don’t typically get big snow when it’s that cold. I suppose it must have been warmer higher up in the atmosphere.

It was cold enough out that we skipped the Women’s March in Montpelier on Saturday morning even though a friend of Carole’s was one of the scheduled speakers and we’d wanted to go hear and support her. Neither of us felt brave enough to go stand for a couple of hours in zero degree Fahrenheit weather and have to rely on porta-potties if and when the urge arose. I have visions of being frozen into one of those things, and I want nothing to do with that.

The approach of this storm scared people enough that businesses were posting “we’re closed until Monday” notices on Facebook on Friday night. Ditto for churches — we knew as of Friday afternoon that there wouldn’t be services today. That’s actually kind of rare. Mostly Vermonters just keep on going until the power goes out. But five degrees below zero AND snow falling at a rate of an inch or two an hour for twelve straight hours is enough to deserve at least a bit of notice.

We went around last night and double-checked all the windows and pulled down all the blinds. It was damn cold out and we wanted the warm to stay on the inside.

I went out yesterday afternoon before the snow really got going and raked the accumulated ten inches or so of existing snow off the roof of our new gazebo, then did a second pass today. Truth is, I have no idea how strong our new gazebo’s roof is, but I don’t want to find out the hard way that two feet of accumulated snow is beyond its design load.

Looks like it’s time to break down and go buy a proper snow rake with a long extensible handle.

As of 3 pm or so, the snow’s basically stopped and the main roads are all plowed and passable. The supermarket in Waterbury was open, though most small businesses were closed. We drove up to the Bolton Valley ski area, a couple of miles from our house, and the lifts were open and the parking lots were full. Good snow means good business! Unfortunately, they’d also had a water line breakage and at least one of their restaurants was closed. I’m sure they’ll cope.

Long story short, our house is now in full Santa’s-Workshop mode. Cue the yetis, it’s time for a party.

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