Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Juror Nullification

Publicity in private places is not too different from privacy in public places. Cell phone conversations, can be heard, at least half of the conversation, in some strange and unexpected places.

During my most recent wait in the Jury Assembly Room, I sat near a back corner of the room, really the next to the last row of seats, with a thick and interesting book. People were generally quiet back there.

After about twenty minutes, a voice, whispering hoarsely, but striking me as a stage whisper, interrupted my thoughts.

"Are you awake?"

"I'm at the courthouse - jury duty."

"I was afraid I was going to wake you last night when I grabbed you."

My discomfort with eavesdropping grew. I glanced over my shoulder, hoping to let the whisperer know that she was being overheard.

I had to look again, this time more closely.

The whispering continued, but the speaker was out of sight. There was a large coat draped over the corner seat. Under it was the head and upper torso of what sounded like a woman.

"It's okay," she continued, "I'm sitting in the back under my good coat. Nobody can hear us."

I exchanged knowing and amused looks with several of my fellow jurors-to-be and quietly left the area, my modesty over riding my curiosity about the nocturnal grabbing about to be made public in a very private place.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Outsourcing the cat

I'm intrigued.

In his blog, You Don't Say, Baltimore Sun Copy Editor John McIntyre wrote about outsourcing his cat to India. From the comments to his post, I am not alone.

For years, it was the aging dog, his toenails clicking on the hardwood at 4:00 AM, rousing me from sound sleep. Get up or clean up were my choices. It wasn't his fault that for several years I haven't been able to get back to sleep at that hour. Poor Blaze had lost his sight, his hearing and his ability to get up to go out before it was too late. Selfishly I looked forward to the nights following his last meals, six consecutive Thanksgiving dinners with all the touches, followed by a last nap at the vet's office.

Now, the cat has taken over for Blaze. My wife has always rescued cats and Nike came from a humane woman who had, by my experience upon entering her home/rescue shelter, learned to breathe in an oxygen free environment. On our first date, I told my wife how much I liked cats. I characterized them as "fun to kick".

Nike's hypothyroidism is under control with the help of twice a day medications. He sleeps endlessly and is undisturbed by the family activities going on two feet away from his favorite slumber spot. Oh, he wakes up to beg for whatever the humans are eating, but is otherwise undisturbable. Even the clanging of pots and pans such as occurred on the New Year's Eves of my childhood gets no more than a perturbed raise of the head and a look that could kill through half-opened eyes.

I, on the other hand, am still susceptible to the 4:00 AM call of the wild as supplied by a domesticated animal. Now it is incessant, plaintive mewing accompanied by affectionate palpation of my bladder, which brings me from my dreams. We tried closing the bedroom door, but really like the flow of fresh air that an open door brings.

Some mornings I go to the door and he rushes into the hall in anticipation of company. Whoosh. The closed door doesn't please him, but sometimes I can get back to sleep. Other days he twists and turns, rubbing his fur on my legs as a stand, receiving the other relief that will permit to service the feline's needs.

On the mornings when he wins, I am, all too often, finding food dishes with good quality, prescription (treatment for a bladder) contents. Sometimes he wants the dry food, topped with a dash of water, and other times he seeks the canned, refrigerated food. Recently, he seems to want company, nothing more.

Yes, the idea of outsourcing the family pet holds my interest. We can turn on the computer when we have the need for visual stimulation and turn it off when the urge has passed.