My Adventures in Jury Duty

Last month I got called for jury duty. It was not the first time. In fact, it was–by my count–the ninth time I have been called for jury duty.

I have never been selected for a jury.

The first time, I had moved out of the county. The second, I showed up, and all the cases that day were continued or dismissed–and eventually, so were we (dismissed, that is). The third time, they formed a jury before they got to me. The fourth time, the last juror picked was the guy sitting next to me.

At this point, it started to feel intentional.

The fifth time, the judge made the parties settle because, as he told us afterward, “I told them, ‘I am not going to impanel a jury over a $100 dispute about a dress.'”

The sixth time, the judge excused me because my mother was dying, and I had to travel out of state to be with her.

The seventh time, the judge excused me because I had plane tickets for travel that fell within the time span of the trial.

The eighth time, the parties settled while we sat out in the hallway.

This time, I showed up at the courthouse (the one that is closest to me, which anyone in Los Angeles will agree is a minor miracle in and of itself). I waited most of the day, went to lunch, came back, and was assigned to a case–this meant that I had to come back two days later.

After an excruciating day of voir dire, featuring a plaintiff’s attorney who really liked to hear himself talk, and a judge who had absolutely no sense of the passage of time, we were told to come back the following day. (Hey, at least I got to eat at Puro Sabor, which I’ve been wanting to do for years.)

So we did. And there was yet another excruciating day of voir dire. Eventually, they selected a jury, and I got to go home.

The frustrating thing is that I sat there for nothing. Because if I had been called to the box, they would have learned immediately that I could not serve due to a conflict of interest. That’s what happens when one of the parties to the lawsuit is your employer.

screen grab

I don’t think the court and I have the same definition of “fortunate.”

I do want to go back to Puro Sabor, though. More lomo saltado, please!

Playing Favorites

Here are a few of Baguette’s favorite things (right now):

Snack: Pirate’s Booty–crunchy and (I guess) cheesy, so yea!

Meal: Macaroni and Cheese–This girl loves her cheese and carbs.*

Dessert: Chocolate ice cream, in great big spoonfuls.

Animal: Elephants (but lions seem to be more fun to talk about).

Celestial Body: The MOON!

Article of Clothing: Pants, but only in leggings form.

Book: Is It Bedtime, Wibbly Pig?–Not if Wibbly Pig can help it.

Stuffed Animal: Wibbly Pig (Kangaroo is a close second).

TV show: Either Kipper or Wibbly Pig.

Website: Google, because she knows how to spell it–and if Google could hear how cute their name sounds when she spells it, they’d create an ad campaign based on that.

little girl with toys

She does have some flexibility within the broader categories of iPad, books, and plushes.

*I just came across a new product: Pirate’s Booty Macaroni and Cheese. Where can I buy it?

PSA: Mercury Can Kill You

Not the planet. Well, I’m sure it could, because it’s super hot and also if it fell on you, ouch! But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Mr. Sandwich and I try to be environmentally friendly. Yes, we love our air conditioning, but we also do things to cut down on how much energy we use.

  • We line-dry a lot of our laundry.
  • We have solar screens (that Mr. Sandwich made!) on the windows.
  • Mr. Sandwich has added insulation under the roof.
  • We replace our worn-out appliances with the most energy efficient ones we can afford.
  • We have a gray-water system (that Mr. Sandwich built!).

We’d love to have solar panels on the roof, but that’s a much bigger project.

And indoors, we’ve been using these:

compact fluorescent lightbulb

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs can save a lot of energy. They cost more up front than the old incandescent bulbs, but they last much, much longer.

Also, they contain mercury. This isn’t a problem unless one breaks.

The other night, I went into our bedroom and turned on the light–and a bulb popped. Over our bed, an assortment of Baguette’s stuffed animals, and some clothes.

So we pulled out the sofabed and slept in the living room. The next morning, Mr. Sandwich cleaned up the debris, following the directions from the EPA.

Please make a note of those instructions, because they are important. And a little research revealed that leaving a burned-out CFL in the socket can cause it to explode. So learn from us, and don’t do that.

For now, we’re switching (as the CFLs burn out, and we remove them from the socket immediately, because who needs more exploding bulbs?) to LEDs. They come with their own toxic elements, such as lead and arsenic, and they also need to be cleaned up with extreme care–but they use even less energy than CFLs.

So it’s literally a case of choosing your poison.

CFL Sign

Quite the Treat for Father’s Day

Disclosure: I received free credits from Treat.com in exchange for writing about my experience.
All views expressed are my own.

If you’re like me, you always remember to buy greeting cards for special occasions–just as you’re driving away from the store. Fortunately, there’s an alternative that you can count on no matter where you are.

Treat.com is an online greeting card company that allows you to create customized cards for any occasion, either on their website or through their app. Father’s Day? Check. Graduation? Check. Get well? Check. Blank cards? Again with the check.

Additionally, Treat is a subsidiary of photo storage and sharing site Shutterfly.com. That means that if (like me) you already use Shutterfly, you can use photos from that account in your Treat cards–but you can also use photos from social sites like Facebook and Picasa, as well as uploading them from your computer, tablet, or phone.

As it turns out, I used Treat’s website to order Mr. Sandwich’s 2011 Father’s Day card–although I’d forgotten where I’d created it, I still remember and love that card. So this year, I decided to use the app on my iPad.

My experience? Very good. It was easy to add the photo I wanted, and much of the suggested text on the interior was also customizable–which meant that I could include the message of my choice. It was harder to choose a design, because there really are a lot of options. The Treat app has a features wheel that actually makes it fun to sort by different parameters, so you can choose to look only at, say, birthday cards that have a photo on the front and include a heartfelt message.

I decided to go with another Father’s Day card, importing a photo and selecting a design. Here’s what I came up with:

Treat.com greeting card for Father's Day

And on the inside?

Treat.com greeting card for Father's Day - interior

You can also include a gift card, if you’re so inclined. And to save you from forgetting to go to the post office, Treat.com will also mail your card directly to the recipient!

I realized that, true to form, I had forgotten to buy a card for the snarkiest of my many younger cousins graduating this spring. Treat.com solved that problem, too:

Treat.com greeting card for graduation

(There’s a photo in the interior of that one, but I don’t have permission to share it. So you’ll have to make do with the outside.)

Treat also offers a pre-order bulk discount and same-day digital cards, as well as photo gift options such as smartphone cases, mugs, and canvas prints.

My only caveat is that the app is technically an iPhone app, so I needed to hold my iPad in portrait orientation–which was awkward, because it’s in a keyboard case that doesn’t allow for that. This meant that I had to keep turning the iPad to make sure that what I was typing showed up the way I meant it to. But the app was easy to use overall, so I’ll be relying on Treat.com in the future.

I was not compensated for this post, however I did receive a sample for my review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

#YesAllWomen

Trigger warning–the discussion linked to below is replete with people’s experiences that may bring up your own. Please be prepared; my goal is not to cause you more harm, but to educate those who need to think about it more.

With that in mind, please read the #YesAllWomen discussion on Twitter.

I’m among the fortunate, because I haven’t experienced many of the traumas discussed there.

And now we all need to take a minute and look at that sentence again, because here’s what that really means:

I’m lucky, because I haven’t been raped.

That shouldn’t be lucky. It just shouldn’t happen. People just shouldn’t rape. Mass murderers shouldn’t be excused because they felt so entitled to women–and so deprived of them by their own problems–that they decide to kill women.

Read the thread. Be horrified. Question how you’ve perceived some of the things people talk about, including mine:

YesAllWomen

Mr. Sandwich says no one has ever asked him to smile, unless he was having his picture taken. People don’t accost men on the street and tell them to smile. Why do they do that to women? We have the same thoughts, the same range of emotions, the same variety of daily experiences–we’re not necessarily smiling at the moment we pass by you, and that’s okay.

The “smile!” command is just the tip of the iceberg. But it is the tip of the iceberg. And that’s why–ever since I was in my 20s–I would respond to the command with a big, beaming smile.

And also I would flip that person off.

#YesAllWomen deals with this. Please pay attention to their stories.

45 Good Things: What I Learned

My plan was to do 45 good things by my 45th birthday. The things could be big or small. They could affect people directly or indirectly. They could be public or very personal. The idea wasn’t to change the world, but maybe to change someone’s day.

Picking up three pieces of trash in a row didn’t count, but picking up three pieces of trash at different times of the day did. Giving money and food to people counted on a per-person basis, whether they were sitting together or in entirely different parts of town.

So, 45 Good Things later, what did I learn?

  • I should have started earlier.
  • Sometimes holding the elevator door really means a lot to the other person.
  • No, really, I should have started earlier.
  • I made a lot of donations.
  • I didn’t pick up nearly as much trash as I thought I would.
  • It took a lot longer than I expected.
  • I could have done the whole thing just picking up dog poop.

Complete list here.

Performance Anxiety

I’ve always been conflicted about children and performances. Growing up, I performed in piano and ballet recitals, and was in the occasional play. The stage wasn’t my natural habitat, but I never had any real qualms.

But when I was in junior high, I went to see my friend’s sister perform in her dance recital. She did just fine–but there was a class of tiny girls who went on stage with teddy bears, and one of them should not have been there. This girl just stared out into the darkened theater and sobbed, and none of the teachers went to help her.

Ever since, I’ve had misgivings about the idea of very small children performing on stage. Enter Baguette.

December 2010: Baguette’s first school Holiday Performance

Her class was all infants, and they were propped up in bench seats. Baguette was mesmerized by the stage lights and had no idea there was an audience, so that went well.

By the way, if there is anything more ridiculous than putting infants who can’t stand on a stage and calling it a performance, I don’t know what it is. (Although Bestie stole the show that year, I do have to admit.)

May 2011: Baguette’s first school Spring Performance

Each class sang and danced a little to a song. The infants got wheeled around in a cart and looked bewildered. It was fine.

December 2011: Baguette’s second school Holiday Performance

She was starting to get a cold, and couldn’t spot us in the audience. One of her teachers kept her from actually sobbing, but we could see the tears.

May 2012: Baguette’s second school Spring Performance

She had just moved to a new classroom and didn’t know the song. She knew she didn’t know it and she couldn’t spot us in the crowd, so she started crying quietly.

December 2012: Baguette’s third school Holiday Performance

I took her backstage to drop her off with her class, and she started sobbing and screaming. I left her, in the hope that she would settle down when she realized she was with her teachers (who she didn’t much like) and friends. After a few minutes, I asked the school director to check on Baguette. A minute later, she was back, holding Baguette and saying, “She’s not 100%.” We watched most of the show from the audience and then went outside and ran around in the patio.

May 2013: Baguette’s third school Spring Performance

Mr. Sandwich picked her up early and brought her home.

December 2013: Baguette’s fourth school Holiday Performance

We checked with her teacher (who she adores), who shook her head and said, “I think it’s going to be too loud for her.” We stayed home.

May 2014: Baguette’s fourth school Spring Performance

Again, we checked with her teacher, saying, “We don’t want her to feel left out, but we don’t want to put her in a situation that makes her unhappy.” The teacher said, “You know what? I think she’s going to like it this time. She’s really into practicing the song. She sings it all the time.”

So with trepidation, we showed up at school and hid. Because we know from past experience that if she sees us, she’s going to come to us. And what did we see? A girl who knew all the moves and nearly all the words, who followed her teacher’s lead, and who was beaming as she performed with her class.

little girl on stage with class

She would not have done that a year ago, or two years ago, and we know that because she didn’t. But she’s learned so many skills in the past six months, and she’s become so confident. This is huge.

This is huge.