Friday, March 30, 2007

Dark underbelly of the 'burbs

Intersection of Route 1A and Route 140 in Wrentham, MA
March 30, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Civics in action

I did my civic duty yesterday, jury duty that is.

I spent most of my day in a large room with people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and ages.
I began to understand what cattle must feel like as were were herded and then held in the jury pool room at the courthouse in downtown Boston. There seemed to be a good number of people who ran into a friend or acquaintance in the holding pen. I caught up on some reading and worked on some Sunday NY Times crossword puzzles that I'd saved up (yes, I'm sort of a crossword puzzle geek).

We watched a video that was boring but useful. It was during the video that I began to notice a theme that court employees would touch on -- that we should feel good about being there at jury duty because our mere presence, even in the holding pen, was very important. In theory, I understand why it's important to be judged by a jury of your peers, and I appreciate that they want us to feel more than just apathy and annoyance for being called, but it got to be kind of condescending. Unless you're going to pat my head and give me a cookie for being here, please stop treating me like a child.

Eventually, after a long waiting period, I made it to an actual courtroom. I hoped that things would get more interesting. They did not. The benches were so uncomfortable. Is there a rule that says that furniture in the courtroom has to be as old as the system the law is based on?

So, I sat and sat, as the judge, lawyers, and court officials involved int eh case called each potential juror (there were like 50 of us in there) up to the bench to talk privately. It would seem as if they had a jury all picked out. Then the would lawyers dismiss people, sometimes without having to give a reason (they're allowed to). This went on for like another hour. I did some more reading. My turn to speak to the legal eagles finally came and I told the judge what I'd been dying to since she introduced the case- that I had a friend how worked for one of the parties involved in the case and I felt that it colored my point of view. (I was being honest, not just whining to get out of jury duty). Not sure why I couldn't tell them that to begin with... like when the judge asked if anyone knew any of the parties involved or had reason that they might not be bale to be impartial.

Dismissed back to the hold pen. Yay. More waiting. A snack (they thoughtfully have a sandwich counter right outside the jury pool area, and a break room to eat in). Banter with other prisoners of jury duty. Eventually all of us remaining in the holding pen were (thankfully) dismissed.

What lesson did I take away from this experience?
That the people who work in law (judges, lawyers, officers, etc...) must have endless amounts of patience to deal with such a boring process everyday. I admire their dedication to something that can, at times, seem obtuse and arcane.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sunny afternoon on the Green Line

My return trip on the Green Line went much smoother than my very slow ride down to the courthouse this morning. Trolleys were running behind schedule and packed trolleys were taunting us as they chugged on by the platform. By the time we reached Park Park Street, my ankle was killing me. At Park Street we were informed that the trolley had a problem and we'd all have to exit. Another train going to Government Center finally came, and I made it to jury duty in the nick of time.
At least I didn't have to pay for it. There was no one to collect my fare when I entered at the middle door of he car.

But they way home was a much more pleasant experience. Well, as pleasant as one can have on the T.
Our driver stopped and opened the door for someone who almost missed the train. She waited until a family had settled in with their stroller and several small children after they almost went flying across the aisle. After calling a middle aged couple up to the front to pay (I think this was around Fenway), she was gracious about their mistake upon learning that they were from Western Mass.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Boston's top 20 list

Boston officials posted a list of the top 20 code violators in the city on their website, which I find very amusing. I'm not sure exactly what codes have been violated, but I find the city's use of public shaming a creative attempt at problem solving (which the city could use some more of, in my opinion).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Providence has personality

My former home base, Providence, RI, gets recognized for being distinct. The capital city of the smallest state has more character than it knows what to do with- and that's not even counting politics (which are the unofficial state sport). I enjoyed living there, once I got used to all the quirks and charms that go along with life in the Ocean State.
  • the rush on bread and milk anytime snow is predicted in the vicinity of southern New England
  • a special breed of potholes (I once saw one on Wickenden Street large enough to swallow a Chihuahua)
  • students at a certain university who have trouble understanding the basic premise of looking before crossing the street
  • all the cool outdoor art, most likely compliments of a RISD connection in one way or another
  • Waterfire (which my mother once referred to as a "happening")
  • Quahogs
  • Operation Plunder Dome
  • Buddy Cianci, the Prince of Providence
But without it's personality, Rhode Island would just be the small state in the country.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Other Windy City

Something's really loud tonight and it's not the downstairs neighboors. (Highly unusual).

I've been hearing some creaking coming from the porch all evening. Figured it was just some of the crap we and our porch-share neighbors next door kept out there (some of their kid's toys, and air conditioner, a dead potted plant.. the usual).
A few miuntes ago there was this horrible cacophony- screeeetch! shriek! (Roommate was on his way into the building and heard it from below). Turns out that the partial porch divider is hanging on by mere hinges and the neighbor's clothes line tied around their half of the porch. One of the posts it is fastened to has become unmoored from the roof overhang and now it flaps about like a wounded, one-winged dodo bird.