Archive for April, 2011

Sweat Dreams: Oh, My Beating Heart

Today I really wanted to get my heart rate up.  For awhile I was crusing along at around 115-118 beats per minutes.  Then this came on my iPod and my heart beat rose to 135.  Ah, that R&B steady backbeat.

My four miles ended with me hoping that my wife will sing this song to me when I come home.  Maybe after I take a shower and lose a few more pounds.  Cool song and singer.

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Jury Duty: Pick Me

Day Two (Morning):  I arrive for the 8:10 check-in a few minutes early and stand in line to go through security.  It’s pretty much like the airport except the security is actual cops and you don’t have to take your clothes off or get rid of your water and snacks.

Then we file into a big room and pick up a clipboard and information brochure titled:  A Juror’s Guide to Washington’s Courts.  We also have our juror badge scanned.  Every few minutes the clerk drones:  “Please have your badge out, it will go faster.”  Very much like having your boarding pass scanned.  A woman in back of me asks:  “What does ‘have your badge out’ mean?”  Please don’t let her be on my jury.  And really don’t let her decide someone’s guilt or innocence.

I take a seat with a couple hundred other people and settle in with a book and a bottled water.  We’ve been told there will be a LOT of waiting.  A quick look around the room tells me I am overdressed.   Easily three quarters of the prospective jurors are wearing jeans.  It seems to be pretty evenly men and women.  Age tends to skew older with maybe 25 people under 30 years old.  Most young people have a LOT more important things to do.

A clerk announces that the first trial and courtroom are ready for jury selection.  She reads off 35 names and I am number 14.  We are instructed to leave the room and go to the elevator and up to the fourth floor into yet another room and await further instructions.  By 8:45 I’m the room with 34 of my peers.  There are 20 men and 15 women.  Average age looks to be about 45.

I settle in to read my Juror’s Guide.  I learn that I need to be 18, a citizen (I wonder if they will ask for my birth certificate.  They guy next to me looks like he probably wasn’t born in the U.S.  Does that mean he’s not a citizen, or just can’t be president?)  If I was ever convicted of a felony, my civil rights must have been restored.  Oh, and I have to be able to communicate in English.  The woman in front of me is talking on the phone in Spanish … I wonder if she speaks English.  Oh, and hats are not allowed.  Weird.

An amazingly obese woman informs the group that she will be showing a video and reading a few more rules before the next step.  We watch the 3o-minute video titled:  We The People.  It tells us what to expect and our roles throughout jury selection, a trial and deliberation.  Then the woman tells us where the bathrooms are and that a judge will be coming in to welcome us.  Water leaks from the ceiling into a bucket.

A judge comes in and thanks us all for responding to the summons.  He points out that this truly is a sacrifice since this is a really old building and the seats are hard, the rooms small (especially jury deliberation rooms) and some courts are really cold and others too hot.  I can confirm that no seat has been comfortable yet.  He also lets us know that our selection was completely random via a computer.

Finally we are ushered into Judge Weiss’s courtroom in numerical order.  That means the first 13 sit in the actual jury box.  Damn.  I just missed but this isn’t selection yet.  It just means that the first 13 randomly selected are in the box and will sit on the jury if they survive the jury vetting from the attorneys.  I’m hoping one of them is booted so I will be on the actual jury.  The rest of us are all seated in the viewing (audience) seats. 

Judge Weiss welcomes us and introduces the prosecutor and defense attorney.  He also introduces the clerk, bailiff and court recorder.  He provides a synopsis of the case which is probably not going to be used for any upcoming Law and Order episodes. 

The case is simple.  A Washington State patrolman is standing on the shoulder of southbound I-5 in back of his unmarked patrol car checking for speeders.  His radar gun clocks a motorcyclist speeding (75 in a 60).  He waves at him to slow down and pull over.  The biker keeps going and the cop jumps in his car to pursue with lights flashing … no siren.  Within a mile the biker gets off the freeway and crashes the bike  on the off-ramp shoulder and skids into a car.  He is arrested and charged with eluding the police and driving in a reckless manner, which is a felony.  It happened in August 2009.  What the hell took it so long to get to trial … and should this really be a trial?

Next is voir dire which is the questioning process from the judge and two attorneys.  They ask everyone if they have any knowledge of the case, any personal feelings or feelings that might make it hard to be impartial.  My butt has lost all feeling but I remain impartial. 

They also ask if we have friends or relatives who work for the state, county or law enforcement.   One woman says that “my cousin’s husband was a Tukwila policeman 20 years ago.  He died several years ago so I don’t think it will affect my impartiality.”  When asked about involvement in a crime, one woman said she was held up at gunpoint.  She’s “not sure” if she can be impartial because she loves the police from her experience. 

When asked about knowledge or ownership of motorcycles several people raise their hands.  One guy was just pulled over for speeding last week on his motorcycle.  Two guys race bikes. 

When asked about general hardship by being here, two guys say they are out of work and this will cause them stress because they are the sole support of their families.  They want to be looking for a job.  (Don’t they know this pays $10 a day plus mileage?)

This process takes quite awhile.  The attorneys can remove jurors with a peremptory challenge (no reason needed) or for cause.  They get up to six of each.  Long story short, six are removed and I Am On The Jury.  I am lucky number 13. 

The judge calls recess for one hour.  We will come back at 1:30 and begin with opening statements.  By the way, both attorneys are young, probably mid-thirties.  We haven’t seen the defendant yet.

Next:  Testimony

Jury Duty: I’ve Been Summoned

Here we go with another post-ISC experience:  Jury Duty.  I have been called twice before but never selected.  Maybe this time I will actually get on a jury and decide someone’s fate. 

It’s interesting that while I was working at the inter-galactic agency many of my peers were diligent about getting out of jury duty.  They felt that the need to knock out a couple of contact reports and write an ad was way more important than sitting on a jury.  They figured out ways to let the courts know that their work was indispensable and bragged about it.

But I digress.  I can hardly wait.  The following is a chronology of my recent jury experience.  I was forbidden to write about it until it was over.  It is and this is what happened.

Day One:    I receive my summons in the mail.  It instructs me to go online and fill in demographic data.  It arrives with my jury badge which I need to bring to the courthouse.  I need to call in and find out if I’m going to be in the pool of possible jurors.

I call the number and a recorded message tells me I have to be at the Snohomish County courthouse Monday morning.  The instructions say I should bring water, something to read and wear casual, comfortable and “appropriate” clothes.  I guess I need to leave the tank top at home.  I wonder if I can wear jeans.   I watch a bunch of Law and Order re-runs to see what the jury is wearing and they all seem to wear sweaters.  I also took a peek at To Kill A Mockingbird and noted that the jury was all men and they were really sweaty.  I think I will go “business casual”.  Back in the day that meant khakis and a sport shirt.  I dig the khakis out from way in the back of the closet.  They are only moderately wrinkled so I’m good to go.

I set the alarm and doze off with visions of 12 Angry Men rolling through my brain.

Tomorrow:  Will I get picked?

Sweat Dreams: The Well-Dressed Man

The other day a gentleman approached the treadmill wearing what I can only describe as NotDryFitOfficeWear or NDFOW apparel.  He was a well-groomed man of about 50 years including no visible ear or nose hairs and a moderate brush cut with salt and pepper hair.  He looked quite distinguished.

He wore a comfortable button-down checked sport shirt…long sleeved and buttoned at the wrist.  Over that he had a beautiful wool/cashmere blend sweater vest.  Oops.  Haven’t seem a lot of those lately.  And a very nice pair of dark gaberdine slacks with a slight break just over his shoes. 

And he topped (bottomed?) that off with a sensible pair of walking shoes with dark socks so there was no break in color from top to bottom.  He calmly set the walking speed at 1 mph and strolled away for about 45 minutes.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t break a sweat.  I sure did … not because of my workout (down 23 pounds folks! from my previous portly look) …but because I was so under-dressed.  Tomorrow I will wear a suit and tie on the t-mill.

I Can Touch Your Food

As part of my epic post-ISC (Incredibly Successful Career) journey I recently took and passed the state of Washington test to become a food worker.  That means I can now work in any restaurant and handle food.  By the way, even if you are a cashier, host/hostess, sommelier or owner … you gotta have one.  I wonder if Tom Douglas has a food worker’s permit? 

This was more about the experience of taking the exam than whether I’m going to be the next sous chef at Dahlia Lounge. But hey, now I have options I didn’t have before … like working the concession stand at high school football games.   By the way, I took it with my 17-year-old son who aced it, while I missed three.  It takes six misses to fail so I’m way good but will probably have to work for my son.

The room was about 60-40 women to men.  The women tended to be 40+ years old, overweight and English was not their first language.  The men were almost all high school/college age except me and one man who spoke very little English. 

The process involved reading a 20-page food safety booklet and then taking the test.  Some people didn’t even open the booklet and took the test.  I think they were re-taking the test or renewing their permit.  Others were reading for well over an hour.  I finished reading after about 40 minutes. 

There was a lot of stuff about wearing gloves and changing gloves and making sure the gloves were not used for changing the oil in your car — or your hair.  And there was a section devoted to all the bacteria and germs that can be transmitted because of poor food handling.  By the way, after this I will never, ever patronize a salad bar again.

There are a lot of rules about food temperature.  For example, the “danger zone” is between 41 degrees and 140 degrees.  Since most bacteria won’t grow in extreme hot or cold temperatures, food left in the danger zone is when bacteria grows that make people sick.  So leaving milk and raw hamburger out on a counter is a bad idea. 

You get the idea.  It’s pretty much common sense.  When I nervously picked up my test questions from one of the two women monitoring the class I was relieved when I saw the questions.  For example, here’s one from the test:

You should always wear gloves when handling food because:

A.  They look attractive

B. Customers are  more comfortable seeing them on restaurant employees

C.  They prevent the spread of germs 

D.  None of the above

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t need to study to get that question right. 

When I finished, I turned my test in to the woman and she graded it right there in front of the “students.”  I just stood there quietly while she checked off my answers and felt 30 pairs of eyes staring at my back.  I know because each time someone turned their test in, I watched to see how they did. 

One guy turned his test in and missed almost all the questions.  He seemed stunned.  Then he started to question the results … in very bad English.  It appeared that he probably couldn’t understand the questions because he couldn’t understand what they were saying to him.  Not sure what his language was.  I think it might have been something Middle Eastern.  He wanted to go through each question and answer and get an explanation.  They told him he should get a tutor or someone to help him understand the booklet and test.  He left looking quite distraught.

Here’s the kicker:  He was renewing  his permit.  

Sponsor Me

During my Incredibly Successful Career (ISC) at the inter-galactic agencies, I was involved in a lot of branding.  I was one of the people (it was always a big team) who helped clients figure out their brand personality/image/tone/footprint/architecture/position/strategy/voice/blah for a lot of money.  I loved it.  We were always able to find some unique insight about their business that they couldn’t figure out…even though they had worked there for several years.

Usually at the end of the process we did ads, pr, direct mail, digital stuff to let the world (uh, I mean their target audience) know about this cool newly re-positioned brand.  Sometimes we even got them to sponsor stuff, including events and venues.  (Ex. Quest Field, Key Arena and how about WaMu Theater…I mean, can you still sponsor something when you don’t exist?)

I remember once asking the head of marketing at Safeco, how they gauges success from the millions they spent on having their name on a baseball stadium.  She said, “The first year we monitored every mention and picture throughout the U.S. and after a few months we were well into the millions so we knew it was a (drum roll) home run.  Then I asked her how much incremental revenue they attributed to the naming and she didn’t know.  Hmm.  Apparently the WaMu Theater naming rights didn’t help much either.

Anyway the point of all this is that branding is an inexact science replete with as many failures as successes.  It happens.  I think Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) provides a unique perspective on the world of branding.  His TED presentation is illuminating, entertaining and fascinating.  It will make you want to see the documentary that he is promoting:  The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.  Thanks to Craig Heisner for finding this gem.  By the way, I’m selling the naming rights to my blog to the highest bidder.

Buh Bye Glenn

Crazy town just lost one of its luminaries when Fox “News”  (Their news should always be in quotes.) cancelled his show.  When he took to the blackboard, viewers took off.  Apparently people had enough of his bizarre theories and decided to focus on Charlie Sheen instead.

Jon Stewart once said about Beck:  “Finally, a guy who says what people who are not thinking are thinking.”  Amen

Just to remind you of what a wingnut he is, here are a few quotes from the Wingnut Hall of Fame.  But fear not, he still has a radio show and lectures and books to spout his wisdom.  So it’s just a television buh bye.

  • “You have the artwork of Mussolini there, here in New York at Rockefeller Plaza.” –analyzing the artwork decorating Rockefeller Plaza, which he said contained a hammer and sickle, Glenn Beck show on FOX “News” Channel, Sept. 2, 2009
  •  “This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture….I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people, I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.” –on President Obama from his FOX “News” show, July 28, 2009.
  • “The only [Katrina victims] we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” Sept. 9, 2005