Strap yourselves In, Part Trois

Today is likely the last day before parts of Florida feel the impact of Hurricane Dorian. The lastest NOAA predictive map shows the following:

cone graphic

Essentially, by Monday morning the storm should be close enough to the US coast to feel some tropical storm-type impact, if not hurricane level winds. How close the storm eventually does come to the coast will determine just how much of the monstrous 180 mph sustained winds (maximum) will be felt. I read there were gusts up to 220 mph, and that’s completely nuts.

The fact of the matter is that hurricanes have become much bigger and far more fierce in the previous years. There can be no doubt about that. A few years back it was nearly unheard of to have a storm react Category 5, the highest level a hurricane can reach, and now it seems like every other year we’re getting a storm in that category or, as is the case with Dorian, on the far end of that scale.

The reason the storm is as powerful as it is, one presumes, is because of the warm water which fuels these monsters, and this past July was on record as the hottest July ever recorded.

But of course, one thing doesn’t have much to do with the other, right?! There’s definitely no such thing as global warming, right?!

Right?!

Yeah. Right.

The Bahamas are going to take a major beating for a while, and my heart truly goes out to them. We’ll see what happens with Florida, and beyond, in the next couple of days.

Strap yourselves in, Part Deux

Florida is, sometimes quite rightfully, viewed as one of the crazier states in the US. We are the ones that have, after all, Florida Man and the weird stuff this “Man” does, like this wild headline and article found on The New York Post…

Florida Man with no arms stabbed stranger with his feet

The man in question, Jonathan Crenshaw, had the following mugshot…

Jonathan Crenshaw

I actually know Mr. Crenshaw, though only very casually. He rented a room at the Hotel my father used to run and, emotionally, the guy is something of a mess. Born without hands (he has finger-like stubs where his shoulders end), Mr. Crenshaw can be a good person but, at other times, he can also be short tempered.

Being born without hands, he spent his life using his legs and toes in their place. He is essentially homeless and whatever money he makes is through his artwork. People online joked about the headline but the sad reality is that this is a person with great problems, both physical and mental, and society doesn’t care for people like him as well as they probably should.

Going back to Florida in general, there’s also the issue of voting. I strongly, strongly suspect that ever since George W. Bush “won” Florida by a sliver thin margin and the subsequent re-count issue and court intervention (the Supreme Court essentially gave Bush the presidency, and the country is all the worse for it), there has been funny business going on regarding voting here.

Too often it seems polls suggest a certain candidate (usually Democratic) being up or winning, and exit polls have shown this as well, and, what-do-you-know, the Republican winds up pulling it off in the end!

Hmmm…

Then there’s the hurricanes, of which the latest is Dorian. As of this morning, the projected path looks like this:

cone graphic

It’s oh-so-wonderful to live in such a big state (I read somewhere -and I hope my memory isn’t faulty- that the only state with a longer North/South spread is California) and find that a powerful potentially Category 4 hurricane is approaching your state and almost every single part of this state could have the storm’s landfall.

You live in Jacksonville, which is basically on the Georgia Border? You could get hit. You live in Key West, the southernmost point in the United States and the opposite end of Florida? You’re just outside the cone, but if the storm veers to the far southern end of the above predictive model, you will face hurricane conditions.

How does one deal with this?

I guess the first step is to try not to have a nervous breakdown.

Around here, I suspect everyone during Hurricane season becomes an amateur meteorologist. We check out models and predictive breakdowns and in our own, amateur way, try to figure out what’s going to happen. Hopefully something you see in the models indicates your neck of the woods will emerge from this latest threat unscathed. Or, if not, the effects won’t be quite as devastating.

I’ve been following the models -it seems like that’s all I’ve been doing the last couple of days- and I think the main reason the cone of uncertainty is as large as it is is because one Hurricane tracking model, the European one, indicated the storm might go further south and potentially make landfall right on Miami or even parts south of it.

As time passes, new calculations are made and new projected paths are created while the previous ones are discarded. Still, for some two days the European model was consistent in its belief that the storm would strike much further south than almost all the other models were indicating, Including the American model.

Yet the people at NOAA took the European model’s results very seriously. Why? Because it is considered one of the better predictive models for hurricane movement. It predicted, for example, Hurricane Andrew back in 1992 quite well.

So despite having various models almost all showing routes which take Dorian more toward the center of Florida, NOAA kept the European model in mind and in their own prediction of the storm’s path and hence the reason it winds up giving us a projection that is as large as it is.

But -and again, I’m an amateur here just like so many other Floridians- after the 5 A.M. path was released by NOAA and which I pasted above, it appears the European model was run again and this time the Hurricane’s path was more in line with the American and other models, ie having the storm moving toward the center of Florida rather than jogging south toward Miami or parts south of it.

Alas, we’re still a little too early to feel this is the way things will shake out and that South Florida has dodged the proverbial bullet. Nonetheless, for those who live in central Florida, it is truly time to start taking serious notice, if you haven’t already.

Dorian is a category 2 storm and is predicted to reach category 4 before it makes landfall.

That makes it a monster storm, one that could inflict a lot of damage wherever it should land.

Get ready, be safe, stay informed, and listen closely to the news.

If this amateur meteorologist knows nothing else, it is this much.

Strap yourselves in…

…’cause here we go again.

This is the latest (5 pm, 8/28) track of Hurricane Dorian…

cone graphic

How about that? The entire state of Florida for the most part is in the so-called “cone of concern”, which denotes where the storm may be by Sunday and Monday, when it may make landfall in the United States.

For those interested/concerned who want to see the latest regarding this, or any, storms, please go to the National Hurricane Center website, which can be found here:

nhc.noaa.gov

A second site I like to use is the Cyclocane website. This offers the so-called “spaghetti” models, the various mathematical predictive models for storms and where they may go. It’s another way to keep track of storms potentially headed one’s way.

Cyclocane International Hurricane/Cyclone/Thyphoon Tracking Map

Keep safe, everyone out there who may be in the path of these storms.

Didn’t see that coming…

One of the things that amuses me is the way movies either hit or sink.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason… one film connects with audiences and can become a HUGE box office hit, beloved by audiences world-wide, while another film is a complete (or near complete) wiff and sinks without much of a trace. Often this comes down to how “good” or “bad” a film is but not always. There are films that are critical bombs yet connect with audiences. There are films that are critical darlings yet bomb with audiences. Then there are those films that are complete box-office failures which, over the years, become cult darlings. Some even manage to become viewed as genuinely classic films, even if they did nothing when they were originally released. In the later case, you have the classic Metropolis and Blade Runner, both of which didn’t do very well upon their initial release and are now considered film classics.

We’re at the beginning of the school year and the latest movie releases are slim pickin’s indeed. This is not terribly unexpected. The summer rush is over and with the beginning of school, people aren’t as free to go to the theaters during the week, so studios aim their “biggest” guns to the summer period and release lower budget works they hope will recoup their investment and can hope -but do not expect- the box office of these films to be in the mega-hit range.

This past week, two films were released to theaters, one which I only discovered at literally the very last moment.

That film, Angel Has Fallen, is the third of the “Fallen” movies featuring Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, the President’s secret service detail. The two previous films featuring the character were 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and 2016’s London Has Fallen.

The plot of the first two films involve Banning trying to save/keep the President, played in those films by Aaron Eckhart, alive despite an intense terrorist attack. In the first film, that attack was on the White House itself. In the second film, it was while the President was in London.

In this third film, Mr. Eckhart is gone, replaced by Morgan Freeman (who was in the original two films as well), as the new President. Further, Radha Mitchell, who portrayed Banning’s wife, has been replaced by Piper Perabo. This time around, Banning is framed for trying to kill the President and must clear himself…

The other relatively “big” film being released this past week was the horror/comedy Ready of Not

Both films, IMHO, look interesting based solely on their trailers, though I have less interest in Angel Has Fallen because the previous film, London Has Fallen, was so awful IMHO and Ready or Not features an intriguing (again, IMHO) concept for a horror/comedy.

So, going into the weekend, I figured Ready or Not would likely be the box office champ, with Angel Has Fallen either a very, very close second or perhaps just taking the #1 spot.

Boy, was I wrong.

Angel Has Fallen easily took the #1 spot at the Box Office with a much stronger than expected $21 plus million take. Ready or Not came in 6th with a decent (considering the film’s very low budget) take of $7.5 million.

One other new film, Overcomer (another film I know absolutely nothing about), came in at #3 with $8.2 million. The rest of the films in the top 10 were holdovers from past weeks (if you’re curious, here’s the complete rundown of the box office weekend via Box Office Mojo).

Again: I’m intrigued by this. Incredibly so. I suppose audiences were in a mood for an action extravaganza and that’s why Angel Has Fallen did well. There might be other times and other weeks where there are plenty of action films available and a film such as this one may not have done quite as well. As for Ready or Not… maybe audiences weren’t in the mood for a horror film this weekend. Maybe if the film had been released closer to Halloween it might have garnered a little more interest.

Is this the reason one did really well and the other not quite as well? I suppose its possible.

Ultimately, who knows?

As it is, I once again fall back on the quote by screenwriter William Goldman, of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (among others) fame. In his book Adventures in the Screen Trade, Mr. Goldman provided a quote I’ve posted here many times which, in my opinion, encapsulates the entire entertainment industry…

“Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

I absolutely love this quote because its so damn true. You can create what you think is an absolutely smashing work, one you think audiences will eat up and make you a zillionaire… and the work comes and goes without so much as a shrug from audiences. Then you can create something almost literally in your sleep, a work you think is nothing big, and it becomes HUGE.

The best we can hope for is some mild/moderate success in the works we do, and hope the next one does even better.

Ultimately, nobody knows nothing.

Least of all me.

The Quippy Fun of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Over at film.avclub, Tom Breihan offers an interesting critique on the classic 1969 George Hill directed, Paul Newman and Robert Redford starring Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

You can trace the quippy fun of Marvel blockbusters straight back to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

It’s a fascinating –very fascinating, IMHO- look at the film. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

I love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. While parts of the film may have aged (this is bound to happen with most films), it remains a beautifully entertaining quirky western/buddy comedy, with Newman and Redford positively shining in the title roles.

I added a comment to the article and will post it here (with a few minor alterations/additions for the sake of clarity):

Originally, Steve McQueen was intended to play the role of the Sundance Kid opposite Paul Newman. For those unaware of the fact, in the 1960’s Newman and McQueen were fierce competitors for the title of most popular movie star, and McQueen in particular viewed Newman as his greatest rival.

So the idea of having the two play in a movie was incredibly intriguing, though it ultimately didn’t happen. And yet, I wonder what Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would have been like had Steve McQueen taken on the role. Would it have worked quite as well? Would McQueen’s Sundance have been a little too serious versus the more charming Redford take? Not that McQueen couldn’t be funny/charming as well, but like a few other movie “near-misses” with actors who could have taken on a role (Frank Sinatra or Robert Mitchum as Dirty Harry, for instance), perhaps this end result was for the best.

Steve McQueen was pursued for the lead role in the 1978 Walter Hill directed film The Driver (no relation to the more recent Ryan Gosling film) but he turned the role down and they got Ryan O’Neal to play the protagonist. He… wasn’t right for it, IMHO. Had McQueen taken the role, I suspect that film would have gone down in history as McQueen’s last great role…

Steve McQueen and Paul Newman did manage to share principle roles in a film a few years later, The Towering Inferno. The issue of whose name should be presented as the movie’s “star” continued to be an issue, which was resolved in this way, by having McQueen listed “first” but lower than Paul Newman, who was listed “higher”!

Image result for towering inferno credits

This is a screen shot of the opening credits of the film, and here you have the poster itself, which also features that same staggered credit line:

Image result for towering inferno credits

Again, McQueen is listed “first”, but Paul Newman is listed “higher”!

Tesla: First Long Distance Trip

Since purchasing my Model 3 Tesla earlier this year, I’ve been really eager to take her out on a longish trip. We’re talking a trip that requires at least one -possibly more- use of Tesla’s Superchargers.

However, month after month passed and there simply was no point at which I could do such a longish trip. That is, until the past week.

My youngest daughter, heading back to her University in North Florida, needed some help taking stuff up there and it proved a perfect time to test the ability of my Model 3’s long range trip along with the navigational computer.

The later proved to be a dream: You tap the Navigation button, put in the address to where you’re going, and the Navigational computer not only gives you the trip laid out, it tells you where to go to charge your vehicle once it gets low of charge.

That turned out to be almost exactly half-way from home to North Florida, in the West Melbourne area…

West Melbourne Supercharger
West Melbourne’s Tesla Supercharger station (not my car!)

I have to admit, I was nervous. The trip estimated I would have but 15% of charge left in the car once arriving at West Melbourne, a very small amount of miles (in the neighborhood of 50-60) left within the vehicle.

As I drove, I realized it was true what they say about Tesla’s: They use up far less charge when in stop/start city traffic and are able to use their “regenerative” braking, which allows the car to create small electric charges as the car stops itself. On the highway the vehicle’s electric charge goes away much quicker as you’re using pure charge with your movement and no/little regenerative braking.

And the faster you go, the more charge is used up.

So as I was driving a few miles ahead of my daughter, I was watching the range go down and down and down and, because it was the very first time I did this, I was indeed worried about the range and how close to empty I’d be once I got to West Melbourne.

Welp, as it turned out I didn’t have much to worry about at all.

The Navigation system measured the progress of the car as it moved along, giving me a very accurate estimate of what time we’d arrive at the charger as well as a mile by mile countdown to that arrival. The Navigator also showed me the exit number and, on the map in the Model 3’s central panel, my path.

The above photograph is not from my vehicle but it could easily be. This is the standard Model 3 interior, very sparse (I happen to like this, though others do not) and all your information is presented on that central screen. In the large area that covers roughly 3/4ths of the monitor, you see a Google Map which displays where your car is and, if you’ve entered a Navigation destination, a nice clear blue line shows your path to your destination.

Anyhow, getting to West Melbourne was fine. How was using the Supercharger?

It was fine as well but here is something that gas powered vehicles have an advantage over the Tesla electric vehicle: To recharge my car to 80% (which is where I usually charge it to), required roughly 30 minutes. If you’re filling a gas tank, obviously, this requires usually not more than 10 minutes, if that.

We were in a bit of a rush because my daughter was taking her two pet cats and didn’t want to stay too long, so we charged for a little less than the full half hour and arrived in North Florida with something like 40 miles left in my “tank”.

Again I was nervous about the range but, again, it turned out I didn’t have to be. The car knows how far it can go and, looking around online, I discovered if you’re approaching the point where you might reach 0, the car suggests your speed (the lower, the less you use) and/or a closer Supercharger to use.

In North Florida and some ten minutes max away from my daughter’s apartment is another Tesla Supercharger so after unpacking everything, I headed to it and in some 40 minutes (again, the car was very low) I had the car fully charged.

We used it for the few days we were up there and the day before the wife and I returned home we charged it up to 80% and the next morning were off.

The trip back turned out to be exactly the same as the trip up, only in reverse. We again stopped at the West Melbourne Supercharger station but this time around we weren’t in a huge rush to leave. The Supercharger is in a nice mall area and we were able to take a bathroom break and get ourselves a sandwich then eat it in the car while it was charging.

Once done, it was off again, using the car’s autopilot feature to essentially drive us back home. When we got there, I pulled out my charging cables and with the much slower 240V charger at my house got the car charged overnight (nearly 7 hours of charging versus 30-40 minutes) and was able to use the car the next day to head out to work.

My ultimate impression of the trip was very positive. Yeah, it takes a little longer to charge your car versus pouring gas in it, but Tesla is already at work with their version 3 of the Supercharger and I suspect it’ll soon make its way to all Superchargers. If nothing else, this company is looking at making all aspects of driving an electric car at the very least compatible if not much better than using a gas powered car.

I know there are many out there who hate Teslas. In part, it might be related to antipathy toward Elon Musk, but as I’ve said many times before: You can hate the man but you can’t argue with the technology and the car itself.

I’m still very early into owning a Tesla/electric vehicle but I remain very impressed with it. Yeah, the range isn’t quite up there with gas powered vehicles. My daughter’s Mazda can make the trip on one gas tank -though she’ll be running on the proverbial “fumes”- versus my Tesla which will not reach that distance and does require a charge about halfway up the coast.

However, this is the only thing that I find superior about using a gas car versus a Tesla, and given the distance and need to stop for a bathroom break/food, it really isn’t that big an inconvenience to stop for about 30 minutes for a quick charge.

Here’s the thing, though: These Superchargers work only with the Tesla vehicles. I can’t help but wonder how other electric vehicles operate on long distance trips like this. First, I know that almost all of them do NOT have the range of Teslas. Further, the charging stations that are available -and there are many of them- likely don’t charge quite as quickly as the Tesla Superchargers do.

Are they comparable?

I dunno. I suppose I could do a Google search and figure it out, but my interest is in my Tesla and I couldn’t be happier.

Until the next time we take a longish trip!

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs And Shaw (2019), A (Almost on Time!) Review

The Fast and Furious franchise has been a huge box office success for years now to the point where investors decided to make a spinoff featuring Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

If you’re a fan of the franchise, this looks like a fun time, no?

Well…

Here’s the thing about these films: They’re pretty ludicrous. But, as ludicrous as they were, I will give the F&F franchise this much: they kept things “serious” enough so that you feel some actual suspense. As stupid as they could get, you sometimes worried for the fate of the characters.

Not so with Hobbs and Shaw.

This film, from the opening minutes to the closing act, is presented as a goof. There are plenty of stunts and quips, delived by Hobbs at Shaw and vice-versa. Some of them are genuinely funny. There are two cameos that are for the most part delightful (I won’t spoil the surprise), and Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba do fine as Hattie (Shaw’s sister) and Brixton (the movie’s big bad guy).

But…

There is absolutely no sense of danger in this movie, despite all the stuntwork and sweat. There is no feeling, at any moment, that either Hobbs or Shaw or Hattie are in any genuine danger. As fearsome as Brixton could have been -he is presented as something of a bionic/android super powered man- he never lays much of a finger on our heroes nor could I, as an audience of at least one, ever felt he actually would.

So what we’re left with is a very slick and very loud film filled with explosions and crashes, shattered glass and crumbling concrete, and a decent enough story that the director/producer never allowed to get serious.

Which begs the question: How are we to feel any suspense, any thrills, in a film that so clearly doesn’t seem to want you to feel them?

There’s also this romance thing that is almost pathetically inserted into the film between Hobbs and Hattie that, it would seem, the movie’s makers belatedly realized was going nowhere and decided to tamp down on and essentially ignore by movie’s end. Perhaps I didn’t stay in long enough but the closing credit scenes (at least two or three of them, I lost track), didn’t bother to show whether Hobbs and Hattie finally had a date (OOPS! EXTREME SPOILER: They both survive at the end of the film!).

I have to say, despite some good laughs and some well executed action sequences, Hobbs and Shaw left me curiously unimpressed and, as we move further and further from the date I saw it (that was earlier last week), the less impressed I am with the whole thing.

Next time and despite the ludicrous things presented on screen, perhaps they should at least try to take these things a little more seriously.

The Hunt (2019)… a little more…

A few days ago I posted about the movie The Hunt, set to be released some time this year, and how its trailer was, IMHO, a perfect example of giving away too much plot. (If you’re interested, you can read the original post here)

Welp, it appears it hid from me (either that or I was too dense to notice) the fact that the film presents a situation where “liberal elites” are the ones who make a sport out of hunting and killing the salt-of-the-earth Red State folk, something that, thanks to that explanation, becomes clear when re-watching the trailer video…

Given the mass shootings which occurred these past few days and initiated by what appear to be right wing types, the studio behind The Hunt realized their movie and its promos may be a little too provocative in times like these.

As Jeremy Fuster points out in his article presented on thewrap.com…

Universal pauses marketing campaign for “The Hunt” after mass shooting

There is a long history of provocation in the entertainment industry, be it music (Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner as protest against Vietnam), literature (A Clockwork Orange), and movies/TV (The Prisoner, Planet of the Apes -the original-, etc. etc.).

When done well, I tend to applaud takes on controversial subjects. The movie The Parallax View, for example, presented a paranoid view of the United States and those who have all the power and how they keep those who step out of line in check… sometimes through assassination. Warren Beatty, who played the protagonist in the film, is a newspaperman who stumbles upon the deep, dark secret behind a cabal that may be responsible for assassinations. The movie becomes a fascinating look at how an innocent man becomes a patsy through mind control (think Lee Harvey Oswald, for those who are conspiracy minded).

Reading up on The Hunt and it’s entire analogy/message, I can’t help but think: Is that it? Rip off The Most Dangerous Game but offer the “clever” twist that the hunters are homicidal liberal elites preying on the “good folks” of the red-states?

Really?

Good luck with that.

The Irishman (2019)… a big lie?

Set to be released this year is the Netflix produced, Martin Scorsese directed, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci (among many others) starring The Irishman, a mob saga that promises to be something quite grand…

I must admit, I heard of the film being made but didn’t think much of it. When I saw the trailer, though, I got excited. The Irishman looks like an old fashioned Godfather-esq type mob film, filled with betrayals and shootouts.

I had no idea about the source material, though, and didn’t know how accurate, historically, the movie would be. Yeah, Jimmy Hoffa was a character in it (played by Al Pacino), but otherwise I had no idea if this would be fiction or semi-reality or an attempt at a full biography.

Then, I stumbled upon this article by Bill Tonelli and presented on Slate.com. In it, Mr. Tonelli argues the book and confessions of one Frank Sheeran, the Irishman the movie refers to, are likely complete and total fabrication.

Read for yourself:

The Lies of the Irishman

Mr. Tonelli offers fascinating reasons to doubt Mr. Sheeran’s confessions, which made shortly before he passed away in a nursing home in 2003 and which formed the basis of the book subsequently published to much acclaim and which is the basis of the Scorsese movie.

Mr. Sheeran, among other things, claims to have been the triggerman who killed Jimmy Hoffa. His claims, however, are decidedly wild above and beyond even that one claim, though I don’t want to spoil the article by giving them away (suffice to say the book and, presumably, Mr. Sheeran’s confessions paint him out to be something like a Forrest Gump of the mob world, involved to some extent in almost every big mob activity from the early 1960’s and through the 1970’s).

Read the article if you’re interested, it paints a fascinating portrait of the man and reasons to doubt his confessions. Note, too, that the author does present the “other” side, a few people who believe Mr. Sheeran was telling the truth.

Me?

When a story sounds too good to be true…

The fact that Sheeran positioned himself in so many big mob events while it seems many in law enforcement barely knew of him, suggests either A) he was a criminal mastermind who hid his tracks expertly behind the veneer of a drunk, or B) he was a gross exaggerator who spun tall tales regarding his own involvement in unions and the mob.

The story does indeed sound a little too good to be true.

My feeling is the odds are more with option “B”.

Jury Duty… again?!?

Not quite five years ago and back in 2014 I was called in for Jury Duty. I do it, but let’s be clear: It ain’t fun to spend your day sitting around and -as has been the case in the three previous times I have done jury duty- not get called in and essentially waste your whole day.

What’s irritating is that I’m seeing myself, my wife, and my kids getting these Jury Duty notices more frequently than it seems anyone else in our circles, be they family or friends.

What gives?

Is my last name simply tagged more often? After marrying, my sisters no longer have the same last name so maybe it is something like that.

I know, I know: I shouldn’t whine. This is a civic duty. But, seriously, last time I got Jury Duty was a little less than five years ago and in all that time I haven’t seem/heard of any of my family/friends getting called in once, much less twice (and, counting my wife and daughters, four more times!).

So today was the big day. The wife and I spent Sunday morning heading downtown to see where the Court House was and where, in relation to it, the public parking was located. We needed to do this because the last Jury Duty I did was in a different location and not downtown.

I had the address of the parking lot nearest the Court House set and programmed into my car (A side note: Teslas have a truly wonderful navigation system) and this morning got up bright and early and headed out there.

The weather was good but severe rain/thunderstorms were predicted. I beat the major rush hour traffic into the city and got to the public parking closest to the Court House. I found myself a nice spot, parked, and headed down to the ground level.

So far so good.

I walked to the Court House some two/three blocks away, climbed the steps up, went through the metal detector, and was directed to the Jury waiting room on the second floor. There, my “badge” (it was part of the Jury Duty summons) was scanned and, along with the crowd there, sat down to wait.

I arrived a little before 8 A.M. and suspected we were given this hour so that stragglers would make it in before 9 A.M., when things really began in the courts. A judge eventually appeared, made sure we were American citizens and above the age of 18, then told us about the beauty of serving. It was clear, like the last time, that she knew full well no one here was happy about being in this place, yet tried to make us comfortable. Interestingly and unlike the last time I did jury duty (you can read up on that here, by the way), not once did she or anyone else working there apologize for having us here.

I was somewhat surprised by the sparse amount of people in the Jury room. Last time around there weren’t that many either but this time it seemed positively deserted, and the Jury waiting room, I believe, was smaller in this building than the other I went to last time.

When she was gone, the videos monitors showed The Greatest Showman and I settled in for a bright musical…

I hate musicals.

A little after 9 A.M, perhaps no later than 9:20, a group of jurors are selected and sent out of the room. I brought a book and my iPad but wound up spending my time reading the book.

At just a little after 10 A.M., a second group was called on. They do the calling by listing the last four digits of your Jury summons number, then calling out your name. They did apologize in advance if the pronunciation of the name wasn’t quite right.

They called one person after another, perhaps some twenty five or so people and then…

…they called me.

I was something like the third to the last person called. I put away my book and walked out of the waiting area and into the outside hallway. As I said, some three more people or so joined us and, once outside, the lady who did the initial calling appeared and said:

“I will call out your numbers now. Please announce you are present. Once you have done so, you are dismissed and may leave.”

She spoke really softly and I was at the end of the group and only caught the “dismissed and may leave” part. I had to ask her to repeat what she said.

“I will call out your number and, once you have announced you are present, you are dismissed and may leave. Tomorrow you can log on to the Jury selection website to obtain your certificate stating you have performed your Jury Duty.”

I could have cried.

For most of my life it seems I’ve been living under a dark cloud. Don’t get me wrong: A lot great things have happened to me in my life. But there are these things that happen, these burst of bad luck… it seems like I step into it more often than I wish.

Not so this time around.

The lady read off number after number and finally, toward the end, got to mine (she read off the same numbers in the same order as she did in the waiting room, so I was near the bottom in both cases). When my number was read out, I told her I was “present” and she nodded and I said “Thank you” and she said “You’re welcome” and I headed out.

Come to think of it, I think I was the only one to say that to her. The others that were called before me said they were present and spun around and left so quickly all that remained were tumbleweeds and dust.

(Lest you think otherwise, I probably did the very same!).

So in total, I was there from a little before 8 A.M. to about 10:20 A.M., two hours and twenty minutes, and my Jury Duty was done.

I can only guess today happened to be one of those days when there were few cases before the court. Perhaps most of those that were on the docket were resolved or delayed until another day. Perhaps, as we’re in the last days of summer vacation, many lawyers and judges are not around and fewer cases are being dealt with.

Given the small amount of people in the Jury waiting room to begin with and very few people I saw as I headed downstairs and back out to the street, it did look like things were very slow this day at the Court House.

I don’t know if the others in the waiting room or that first group that was called up remained behind. For all I know and while I write this in the early afternoon, they might still be there. Jury Duty, one of the announcers said, officially lasts from 8 to 5 P.M.

Perhaps the people in my group just happened to get lucky and there were simply too many people there today and we were the ones that weren’t needed.

Regardless, at least for today and for once, it looks like I wasn’t stuck under that all too familiar dark cloud.

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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