Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jury Duty

I was recently summoned to serve jury duty for the Federal Court in Santa Ana. I usually feel a sense of duty to serve, though I was not overly thrilled with this case. I had been summoned to serve in our local Superior Court in the last year, but that service would not get you excused from this summons unless you had actually served as a juror in a trial. While I have been summoned numerous times over the years, I have not actually served on a trial for at least 15 years, and probably more than that. I'd actually enjoy sitting on a case if it was expected to last several weeks.

The summons indicated that the case could last 4 to 6 months. Since my employer gives me full wages while I serve, I expect I am rather appealing to the court. I have a lot of projects at work right now, and knew that taking that time away would significantly stall and probably kill several of them.

The first day in court involved a number of administrative type tasks. They checked me in. The judge then spent some time talking about duty, how the selection process would be handled, that we should avoid news sources that might give information about the trial with possible biased oppinions and that we were NOT to talk to anyone about the details of the trial so as to avoid outside influence before reaching a verdict. The prosecuting attorneys then read the indictment to the jury assembly room. The indictment included well over 300 charges against approximately 8 defendants. While I didn't count them, there were probably somewhere around 500 charges. It took 3 hours to read. I think I only nodded off twice. We then completed a lengthy questionnaire of about 10 pages with many written answers.

I was hoping that my answers on the questionnaire would get me dismissed without having to return to the court - they usually do, though I have nothing bad to report. But, there I was again, sitting in the assembly room. We were informed several times that the court needed various recesses during the day, and we were never called in to begin the actual juror selection process. I made a lot of headway on a book I had bought to occupy my time. Finally, at the end of the day we were informed that all of the defendants has submitted plea bargains. Once the judge had accepted all of them, he was then free to dismiss all the jurors in the assembly room.

While I am now at liberty to discuss the details of the case, I expect it is probably best I not share them here. The judge was very congenial and thanked us each personally for coming in to serve. He indicated that over 9000 summons had been issued to come up with the jury pool of about 160 potential jurors. He also indicated that our presense directly impacted the defendants as the prospect of a trail became emminent. He assured us that our time had been well spent. I am glad that I had a chance to serve, but I am equally glad that I did not have to spend 6 months on the trial with the impact I expected with my work.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Order of the Arrow

My son David was nominated for induction into the Order of the Arrow, a Boy Scout National Honor Society. He had to be elected into the order by his fellow Boy Scouts in his troop. He will have to complete some additional tasks, include his Ordeal, before he becomes an actual member. His Ordeal will involve staying in the wilderness alone overnight. Adults will be in the area to ensure his safety, but he will only see them if significant danger threatens. I am glad he was nominated, and I am very proud of him.


I worked at Camporee over the weekend. I was part of the Citizenship station. I played the administrative role. Each scout patrol would come and present themselves to me. They would show me their flag and give their patrol yell. I would prepare their score card and give them their first points based on presenting their flag and reciting their yell. Only one patrol came to me without a flag, while two others got partial points because they did not present their flag to me. I would then direct the patrol to meet with ASM's who would judge the boys on their abilities to correctly handle a U.S. flag - unfolding, presenting and refolding. They also had to answer various questions regarding their rights and responsibilities as U.S. Citizens. Afterward, they would return to me to have their score for the event calculated and be presented with a ribbon for first, second or third place, based on their score. It was a long but productive day.

It has been just over a year since I was a Webelos Den Leader in Cub Scouts. One of the things I enjoy about Camporee is a chance to see some of my cubs. I got to see Jimmy and Michael this year. Their picture is shown to the right. I noticed Jimmy immediately. To be honest, Michael had changed so much that I didn't recognize him right off. They told me that Ryan and Zachary were still in Boy Scouts, but had not come to Camporee this year.

Camporee itself had some interesting aspects this year. We were on the bank of Irvine Lake. Across the lake was a punk band concert. I understand it was 23 bands playing from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Unfortunately, some of their language was a bit colorful.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Telescope Knob

I have been waiting weeks for this little gem. This is the focusing knob to my telescope. I can now use it. Maybe I will drag it out tonight if the sky is still clear. Thank you Dr. Winston!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

For some odd reason our 15 year old daughter demanded an egg hunt this Easter. We hid three bags of chocolate eggs around our family room. The kids ransacked the room and found most of the eggs. We'll see what additional eggs are found in coming months.

This was a simple and relaxing Easter for us. Church, our Easter egg hunt and a ham dinner.

David accepted to OCHSA

The same day we left for our Canoe Trip David received a letter from Orange County High School of the Arts. OCHSA is a public magnate school specializing in various artistic media. The school seems to have high academic standards, but is most known for the various artistic conservatories. Applicants must pass an exam to be accepted into a conservatory and attend the school. Our daughter has been attending for two years in the Opera Conservatory, where the school is the premier high school in the nation for opera. Our son David has been doing various creative writing for several years now and tested to attend the Creative Writing Conservatory.

My wife was itching to open the letter all week while we were gone, but my son demanded that he be the one to open the letter. Before opening it, he said that he would attend the school if he was accepted. David opened the letter Saturday night after our return. He has been accepted into the Creative Writing Conservatory. Even better yet, one of his favorite homeschooled friends was also accepted, so he is going with a friend.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Canoe Trip

My son and I went on a week long canoe trip with Boy Scout Troop 1201. This was the lower river trip. We went on the lower trip last year as well. The year before that my son went on the upper river trip.

We traveled about 84 miles down the river. We started in a nice camp site at Blythe, CA that is kind enough to let us launch our canoes without paying a launch fee. We pack up about 45 sealed buckets of food, 6 ice chests and two large patrol boxes, along with all our personal gear - tents, chairs, sleeping bags, cots, cloths, etc.

Our first stop was a small sandy beach just a few miles away from our initial launch point. Since we start the day so late, we can not go far. This also gives the boys a chance to get the feel for the canoes loaded down with all the gear.

Our next stop was about 12 miles further down the river at Camp McIntyre. We sleep up on a grassy knoll. Not my favorite site, but it does have bathrooms. We have to share the beach with others. There is a store on site and plenty of people and activity. Just a bit too civilized, I think.

The following day we went about 8 more miles to Sandy Cove. On the way, we stopped and let the boys jump off a piling structure that is about 15 feet high over the water. The water was barely deep enough underneath, so the boys kept dredging up nasty smell mud with each jump. Sandy cove is an undeveloped beach with an small inlet. They boys can swim in the inlet and mess around with the canoes without worrying about the river current. Lots of the Arizona locals also drive into the beach. We had some youth from town that we could have done without this year. We also had a minor accident with one of the boys.

Our next stop was in the Piccacho camping area. We traveled about 26 miles to arrive at the 4-S camp site. This was one of our layover spots, so we spent two nights there, with one full day of no canoeing. This site is fairly remote but did have bathrooms on site and some tables with coverings. Unfortunately, the layover day was pretty windy, and kicked up a lot of sand. This was where I spent my birthday.

We had some cell phone coverage and discovered that a storm was heading our way. Normally we would travel another 8 miles or so and stay at the main Piccacho camp site which is typically mosquito infested and not particularly pleasant. To avoid the storm, we chose to skip Piccacho and see how far we could get.

Another long day of paddling of about 28 miles got us to our final camp site on Squaw Lake on Thursday afternoon. We set up there and weathered the storm that arrived on Friday afternoon. This site is well developed and I had a chance to shower and get cleaned up for our ride home.

We were picked up Saturday morning and arrived home around 5:00 PM. We made a stop at Carles Jr for our first civilized meal in a week. I've posted some additional photos on Picassa. My wife has a few blog entries as well.