Thursday, February 25, 2010

Many are called, but few are chosen

JURY SERVICE: A Rite of Passage to Adult Citizenship

That's what the poster in the Jury Gathering Room for the United States District Court in Minneapolis declared. It felt just a smidgen strange to think that, at the age of 52 years, 6 months, and 14 days, I was finally becoming an adult citizen of the country in which I was born and raised. "Today, I am a man."

I had been placed "On Call" for jury duty for a two-month period, and here I was, one-and-a-half months into it, finally being called to the courthouse to be interviewed for possible inclusion in a jury for a civil case. Just the possibility of serving on a jury in the U.S. District Court gave me a heightened sense of my own importance...albeit inflated and unfounded.

I parked at the Mall of America and rode the Hiawatha Line light rail into downtown Minneapolis. That was a first for me. The one really interesting/strange/mysterious thing I noticed was a small panel on the inside wall of the train that looked like it was a speaker for a public address system. Okay, the speaker-panel-thingy wasn't all that interesting/strange/ was the sign under it: PANTOGRAPH HANDLE.

I thought, "What the Sam Hill is a pantograph, and why does its handle look like a speaker-panel-thingy?"

According to, a pantograph is "an instrument for the mechanical copying of plans, diagrams, etc., on any desired scale." Here's a picture of a simple pantograph being used to draw an exact copy of a triangle, only larger.

In my extensive research on the World Wide Wackfest, I found a picture of the actual sign in question (thank you, along with a paragraph proposing that the sign is actually a pre-printed graffiti tag of a gang called The Draughtsmen: "Who else celebrates the use of the pantograph?"

The far-less exciting and far-more likely answer was discovered when I looked at the second definition for "pantograph" at Dictionary. com: "In electricity, a device usually consisting of two parallel, hinged, double-diamond frames, for transferring current from an overhead wire to a vehicle, as a trolley car or electric locomotive."

What does all of this have to do with jury duty? Well, nothing really, but I don't really have much to say about the actual serving of jury duty: I didn't get to actually serve. In the pool of 18 people being scrutinized to whittle down the number to 12, there were 5 pastors or ex-pastors. I was one of them who got whittled.

Suddenly, I feel insignificant and unworthy to be called a true American citizen.

"Today, I was almost a man."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Creative Recycling

An interesting conversation was had in my current place of employment the other day.

And yes...that is a noteworthy event. It doesn't happen that often.

My fellow technical writer, WhatifBoy, was talking about needing to take some time off to attend to the needs of his dog: "It's time for Sparky to have some knee surgery."

Having lived through Beloved's knee replacement last summer, my first thought, and actual statement, was, "It's time for Sparky to have his mail delivered by earthworms. Sayonara, Sparkster."

And then our administrative assistant, ClerkGirl, chimed in with a slightly more positive thought: "You know, there are plenty of dogs that get along fine with only three legs."

[The thought just struck me that the "Having lived through Beloved's knee replacement..." paragraph above might sound a little bit like I wish I would have arranged for my wife to be pushing up daisies instead of having her knee replaced. Ummm...FYI: that's not what I meant.]

I was feeling a teensy bit chagrined at having suggested euthanasia, when ClerkGirl added, "Then Sparky would have a new chew bone, too."

I'm still out of breath from laughing so hard, and I think I peed a little.

Friday, February 5, 2010

And they call the wind Earworm

Here's a quarterly round-up of the songs that were blowing through my head on these particular mornings as I fought my way toward wakefulness.

4 – Lullaby of Broadway (from the musical, 42nd Street)
9 – Undercover Angel (Alan O’Day) Whether this being in my head had anything to do with Beloved’s return from a week-long trip to Wyoming, I will leave up to you to decide.
15 – The Battle Hymn of the Republic
19 – Food, Glorious Food (from the musical, Oliver!)

1 – Honky Cat (Sir Elton John)
10 – Reason to Believe (Carpenters) And yes, sticklers for the Truth, the group’s name was “Carpenters,” not “The Carpenters.” I’m just sayin’…
16 – Burdens are Lifted at Calvary
17 – The Right Thing to Do (Carly Simon) and Midnight Blue (Melissa Manchester) This actually made a pretty interesting mash-up in my slowly-regaining-consciousness state-of-being. Maybe the cast of Glee should work on this.
21 – The Stranger (Billy Joel) This song marks a very special place in my musical life. The album that shares its title was the last pop music I ever purchased on vinyl. 1981 is also about when I stopped listening to pop radio with any frequency (or on any frequency, for that matter).
25 – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (For once! An earworm’s timing that makes perfect sense!)
27 – You’re the First, the Last, My Everything (Barry White) And let me tell you, if you don’t think it’s a scary thing to wake up with Barry White’s low-rumble of a voice looping through your consciousness, you’ve got another think coming.
29 – Nothing But a Miracle (Rich Mullins)
31 – Only Yesterday (Carpenters) Kinda spooky that this barged its way into my head on the morning of New Year’s Eve, eh?

2 – We’re Getting Nowhere Fast (This Train)
4 – Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong (Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes)
6 – Cry for No One (The Beatles)
8 – Theme from Firefly (I watched the penultimate episode of this Really-Good-But-Tragically-Short series on last night. The feeling is kind of like ActorBoy’s wedding reception: really enjoyable, but heartbreaking at the same time because I knew it couldn’t last.)
9 – Jesus Messiah (Chris Tomlin)
12 – Lotta Love (Nicolette Larson) I actually had to dig a bit to get the title and artist for this one. I searched on “Got a Lot of Love,” then tried “Gotta Lotta Love,” and finally plucked a snippet of the lyric out of thin air (my heart needs relating, not solitude) and found the answer. Who would have thought it would be that hard?
16 – (I Love You) More Today Than Yesterday (Spiral Starecase) Yes, that incorrect spelling is correct.
20 – We Need a Little Christmas (from Mame)
21 – Shadow Dancing (Andy Gibb) Not the first time this incessant tune has wormed its way onto this list. Maybe it’s because the song itself is so repetitive. It’s not nice to speak ill of the dead, but really, Andy…
27 – Private Eyes (Daryl Hall & John Oates)
28 – Kathy’s Song (Simon & Garfunkel)