Friday, April 25, 2008

Jury Duty & Crocheting

Well, I finished my jury duty this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t get put on a trial, but I did get this certificate commending me for my “conscientious, diligent and meritorious service”, LOL! I wanted to be on a trial though - waaah! (WARNING: Blogger messed up my line spacing on the rest of this post - I can't figure out why it always messes up on long posts).

I got called to a courtroom on Monday morning, and didn’t even make it into the jury box – I was seated in the back with the extra jurors. It was a civil case – personal injury from a car accident, and the lawyers took about an hour and a half questioning jurors, and dismissed at least 6, but got the jury picked before they got to me. Then I got called up to a courtroom for a criminal case after lunch, and sat in the jury room with about 25 other jurors for half an hour, until the judge came into the room and said the defendant had just taken a plea bargain, after the case had dragged on for almost a year. He said the defendant had gone to his ex-girlfriend’s house with a shotgun, was threatening her, fired a bunch of shots through a window, and hit her mother in the stomach. The mother’s intestines were hanging out (I wouldn’t want to be the paramedic who had to see that) and she went through 33 surgeries, but ended up dying anyway. The defendant was getting 21 years to life. I didn’t get called for anymore cases that day.

On Tuesday morning, I was called to a courtroom for a criminal case – felonious assault against a Cleveland police officer and receiving stolen property - was seated in the jury box, was one of the first to be questioned, and assumed I would be put on that jury. The prosecutor and judge dismissed a few people, and the prosecutor said he was fine with the makeup of the jury then, but the defense attorney dismissed me. Darn! I was soooo close! I still wonder what it was that made him want to dismiss me. There was a suburban police officer in the jury box (interestingly, from the same suburb where I live), and I knew he would get dismissed – as soon as he stated his occupation, the defense attorney wanted to speak to the judge and the judge ended up dismissing him. A woman whose father is a retired Cleveland police officer, and a man who said he will always 100% believe everything a police officer testifies to, also got dismissed. No surprise there either.

I came in on Wednesday, and ended up not getting called to a courtroom at all. I spent the day sitting at a table crocheting and reading and talking to four other jurors. It’s funny how five strangers, of different ages, races, and genders, can find enough to talk about to occupy 6 ½ hours – we talked about jobs, families, kids, news, sports, society, and of course, jury duty. A guy sitting at the table (who was part of the potential jurors in the case I was called for on Monday) is a corrections office with the Cuyahoga County juvenile detention center, and he had me cracking up when he said the kids at the center complain about the meals they’re served, and he told them they should be glad they’re not in the adult jail (upstairs in the same building where we were sitting), because the prisoners there get two slices of bologna (and he said the kind with the rind, not the good stuff, ha, ha!), two slices of white bread, and a warm white milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day, LOL!

Interestingly, it turned out that a lady sitting at our table is the wife of one of the correction officer’s cousins, who he hadn’t seen in a long time. He had no idea who she was until he said his first name, and she recognized it, and asked him if he knows her husband. While waiting to be called for cases, I also met a woman who knows one of my daughter’s Girl Scout troop leaders – the troop leader used to teach this lady’s kids, and I met a woman who works with one of my sisters in law. This same lady had also ended up sitting in a jury box next to a woman who she knows from her daughter’s soccer team. It’s funny so many people who know each other or who are connected somehow end up being on jury duty at the same time – I guess it’s just a small world here in the Cleveland area.

Anticipating having a lot of sitting around during jury duty, I brought along a few crochet projects to work on. I was concerned about whether I would be able to bring metal hooks into the building (bags are run through a scanner), and the guard at the front entrance didn’t say anything about them on Monday morning, on Tuesday, a guard opened my bag and looked at and felt them and said they were OK, and then the guard on Wednesday didn’t say anything. I would have brought some plastic hooks, but one project I was working on is in single crochet, and I’ve broken a few plastic hooks when working single crochet, because the stitches are tight. The corrections officer I was talking with said he was surprised I was able to bring hooks in, because they could be used as weapons. I showed him one and said it’s not sharp, and he said women can’t have crochet hooks or knitting needles in prison because they can rub the hooks against the brick walls, and sharpen them. Well, apparently they are allowed in at least some prisons, because Martha Stewart left prison wearing a poncho that a fellow inmate had crocheted for her.

Right after we got done talking about the hooks, one of the court employees brought up knitting and crochet during her morning announcements to the jurors, saying that some jurors were wondering if they were allowed to bring knitting an crochet stuff with them. She said some women were stopped by the guards downstairs, and some weren’t, but that it should be OK. A lady sitting at a table next to mine saw me crocheting, and said she also crochets, and wished she had brought her stuff with her. She said she likes to crochet with two or three strands of yarn held together, and that she had crocheted a red, white, and blue blanket with three strands of yarn, and a G hook. Ouch! My wrist aches just thinking about working three strands of yarn with a tiny G hook!
Here’s one of the projects I worked on during jury duty.
It’s the back of a hoodie sweater for my daughter, done in Cotton-Ease in “Bubblegum” and Red Heart Kids (the stripes) in “Playful”. The pattern calls for a single crochet/chain 1 stitch pattern, and I tried it, but it was so hard to see the chain spaces in single crochet, and so I kept missing stitches, and just decided to make the thing in regular single crochet, with half-double for the stripes. I used a K hook for the ribbing, and a J for the body.

I couldn’t bring scissors with me to the Justice Center (obviously – since they can be used as a weapon), so I quickly realized I couldn’t get far on the sweater without scissors to cut the yarn when I changed colors, so I ended up bringing another project to work on – this capelet.
The pattern is from the book Family Circle Easy Crochet (sorry the picture isn't very clear - I need to figure out how to use the "zoom" on my camera). It’s not a very recent book – it was published in 2003, but most of the patterns are really cute. I picked it up at the library. The pattern calls for Patons Grace, but being out of work, I’m on a yarn diet : (so I’m just using some of my Red Heart Hula from my stash. The funny thing is I had actually been thinking about crocheting a capelet or poncho from the Hula yarn before I came across the one in that book. I’m using a G hook, but if I made one again, I would use a smaller hook to make the mesh neater looking. I’m making the capelet longer than the one in the book. I got the capelet about half done by Wednesday afternoon, but then me and the rest of the Monday jurors (a fresh batch of jurors is brought in on Wednesday mornings) were let go at 4 PM, and told that we didn’t have to come back the rest of the week.

I was disappointed that I didn’t end up serving on a jury, but at least I got to serve on two other ones previously (in 2002 and 2006). I would have liked to have been on that jury I was dismissed from (the felonious assault). When the prosecutor read the name of the defendant to see if any of the jurors know him, and briefly mentioned the charges, the case didn’t ring a bell, so when I got home, I looked up the case online (obviously, if I had been chosen for the jury, I wouldn’t have done that), and found a newspaper article about it, and remembered that I had read about it in the paper when it happened.

Here’s the article:
Don't call him victim: Call him to catch a thief. Stolen Jeep recovered on personal stakeout
Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - January 24, 2008
Author: James F. McCarty , Plain Dealer Reporter
Britt Ahart didn't sit around and wait for police to find the thief who stole his 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee from his Shaker Heights garage early Saturday morning. He did his own detective work, using cell phone records, Google and a stakeout to help nab a suspect by Saturday night. "I didn't feel helpless, and I didn't feel like waiting for someone else to do what had to be done," said Ahart, 32, an accounting employee at NASA Glenn Research Center.
Fortunately, the stolen Jeep contained a cell phone belonging to his girlfriend. So he called the cell phone provider, where a sympathetic manager bent company rules and provided the only two numbers dialed after the theft. Then he ran the numbers through Google's online reverse-phone directory, and one of them spit back an address on East 136th Street in Cleveland. Ahart drove a friend's car to the home and knocked on the door. A friendly woman said a man with a shady past occasionally slept in her basement and had called earlier that day. Ahart flagged down a police patrol car and asked the officers to look for his Jeep inside a garage behind the house. But the garage was empty.
He left empty- handed, but returned hours later. He parked a short distance away and prepared for a lengthy stakeout. He didn't have to wait long before he spotted his Cherokee backing into the driveway. He dialed 9-1-1, followed by direct calls to police in Cleveland and Shaker Heights. "I found my stolen car," he shouted.
Within minutes, police cruisers screeched to a halt in front of the house. The first two officers approached the Cherokee with guns drawn, but the suspect didn't go quietly. He started the car and gunned the engine, sending the officers diving for their lives, according to a police report. The Cherokee struck the rear steps of the house and bounced into a fence, where it became stuck. The suspect ignored orders to get out of the car and threw it into reverse, barely missing one of the officers, the report said. One officer fired a Taser dart, striking the suspect in the forehead. Another sprayed the suspect with pepper spray.
Police pulled the suspect, identified as Djuan James , out of the car, handcuffed him and strapped him to a stretcher. He was treated for cuts and scrapes to the head, then released to police custody. James , 50, of Cleveland Heights, has a criminal record dating to 1977. According to court documents, he has been to prison 13 times for nearly two dozen convictions, most for automobile thefts, breaking and entering, receiving stolen property and drugs. James was charged Saturday with felonious assault on a police officer, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest, according to the report.
Police are holding the Cherokee until they finish processing it for evidence. Even if the car is a total loss, Ahart said he has no regrets. He was most concerned about the security of his two daughters, ages 10 and 7. As of Wednesday, he had not told them about the theft. "I'll be fine as long as they
don't find out that this guy came so close to us while we slept," he said. "As far as they know, the car had a few problems, and it's in the repair shop."

Caption: THOMAS ONDREY THE PLAIN DEALER Britt Ahart of Shaker Heights didn't just recover his stolen Jeep and help police arrest a suspect. He also recovered his stolen Social Security card, trailer hitch and tool box from the suspect's basement bedroom.

I can’t imagine what the guy’s attorney could possibly say to defend him. If that jury doesn't find this guy guilty, I'll be totally shocked. It would have been interesting to be on that case and hear his defense. Oh well.

On my bus ride home Wednesday, I was working on my capelet, and was sitting next to teenager in a big t-shirt and baggy jeans – definitely not someone I would think would be interested in crocheting. He looked at the project, and asked how long I had been working on it. I told him I had just started it that morning, and he was amazed that I had gotten so much done, and asked what it was. I showed him the picture from the book, and he asked how I got the colors in the yarn, LOL! I told him I’m using a multicolored yarn, a different yarn than he one in the book. We got to his stop, and he told me before I got off that I should sell my stuff. That made me feel really good, because I tend to compare my work to other people’s and feel that mine doesn’t look too great in comparison.

Anyway, even though I didn’t end up serving on a trial, I’m still glad that I got to go to jury duty, because at least it got me out of the house for a few days. I’ve been so depressed not working and just being home every day. Yeah, I’m still busy with the kids, and housework and homework and my online grad school class, but it’s feels weird not working, and I’m just completely stressed out about money and bills and the remaining expenses coming up for my sister’s wedding on May 10th.

I registered with a temp agency last week (a long, tedious process), and they had me take a bunch of computer and typing tests. I did very well on the computer tests (all Microsoft Office programs I have a lot of experience with from work), and I found out that I type 76 WPM (and that’s even adjusted for errors). I knew I could type fast, but I had no idea I was THAT fast. I felt pretty proud hearing that, LOL!

I guess I got fast from all that damn tedious data entry my boss had me doing. I worked for the national offices of a church, and my department would put together a yearbook every year – a directory of all the churches, staff, pastors, etc. in the denomination, with financial and membership data for all of the churches. We’d send out several thousand forms every year to be completed by the churches (6,000+ churches in the denomination, but some would enter their data themselves through an online system and some just would not return the forms for various reasons, but we’d still get back about 3,000 forms every year) and returned to us to be complied for the yearbook, and I would get stuck entering the data from most of the forms.

Plus, my department would receive completed surveys sent out by other departments of the church, and I would end up dong the data entry and running reports (in SPSS – a statistical software package) for those as well. I had just recently gotten done entering the data from 1,700 surveys on health care in the U.S. I hated, HATED, all that data entry, but at least something good (my increased typing speed) ended up coming out of the three years I spent doing it.

So, now I’m just sitting at home applying for jobs, and waiting for calls from the temp agency and employers. I applied for a job last week with my alma mater, Cleveland State University. It’s just an administrative secretary job, and it would be a pay cut from what I was making at my last job, but the university is a fantastic place to work if a person can get in there. Nearly all of their jobs are unionized, and they are considered government (state jobs), so their employees are in Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (which means a pension – a rarity with most jobs nowadays). They also have very cheap, but excellent medical insurance, and are generous with paid time off and holidays. After a person applies for an hourly job, if they meet at least the minimum requirements for the position as listed on the job ad, they are called to take a civil service exam (I know I way more than meet the minimum requirements for the one I applied for), and then the top scoring people are called for interviews, and then second interviews.

I think I have a great shot at getting the CSU job, but the whole process from application to hiring can take at least 6 weeks, and I don’t have time for that. I need a job ASAP. I’m just feeling totally frustrated and worried about finding a job. The job market here in the Cleveland stinks, and seems to just be getting worse, and then I realized too that with college graduations coming up in May, that the job market is going to be flooded with new graduates also looking for work. Arrrgggh! Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers about my job search.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that last Saturday (April 19th) was my wedding anniversary! My husband and I have been married for 6 years now (we’ve been together for 16 years total). Before I lost my job, we had planned to go out to dinner and a movie, but since I’m not working I didn’t want to spend the money on it, so we just stayed home, and my husband made a (delicious!) grilled chicken salad, rolls, and a red velvet cake (my favorite dessert), and we rented a movie from the video store. We almost always rent our videos from our local library, which has a great selection, but new release movies get snatched up so quickly. Speaking of the library, my library is implementing various “green” initiatives and decided to stop giving out plastic bags at the checkout counter. As an alternative, they are selling these cloth bags for $4 each, so I bought one. I think it’s pretty nice for $4.
While I’m on the subject of "greening", when I came home from jury duty on Wednesday, I saw that this flowering tree in my front yard had started blooming. I swear it had no blooms at all on Tuesday, and by Wednesday evening it was covered with blooms. I have no idea what kind of tree it is – you probably can’t tell from the photo, but the leaves are red (they’ll turn green later in the year). Dogwood, maybe? Here's another photo, of "Casa de Red Haired Lady" (my house, LOL!).
My cat (Stormy) has been enjoying the sunny (albeit chilly) weather we’ve been having the past few days – here’s her rolling around in the backyard. Yes, I know my backyard looks torn up but my defense, it’s not my fault! My husband and I are renting the house, and I think whoever lived here before us must have had a wading pool or something in the backyard, which caused the grass to die in that area. My husband had some grass seed and a spreader, and is going to go out there one day and cover the backyard with grass seed.

Well, I’ve got to go get the house cleaned up before I go to bed (Hurricane Dominic and Tornado Bethany hit today).



Hi Dear Blogger,
CONGRATULATIONS...Your first comment from me, and have fun. Sincerely,

Laurah said...

I've never been called to jury duty. It's interesting to hear how the process works. Sounds like a lot of waiting around.
That's crazy that the car theif was found by the owner of the car! Too bad his car was wrecked in the process.
I love the sweater you're making for your daughter. That's so interesting about the teenage boy. Maybe he wants to learn but is too embarrased? Funny about the multi-colored yarn comment!
Great picture with your daughter on the front steps. Looks like it was a beautiful day. I love seeing trees blossom like that.
Good luck on the job search!

naida said...

Hi Laura, I've never served jury duty before. At least you brought your crochet along with you. its funny how the most unexpected people will make nice comments on crochet.

that guy has been to prison 13 times?? whoa.

good luck with the job hunting. I hope you find something you like soon.

great pictures, and pretty tree! I love this time of year when everything is in bloom.

naida said...

oh, I forgot to say 'happy anniversary'

and that library bag is a great idea for going 'green'

Christina said...

Sorry you weren't picked for a jury. I've been to jury duty and its not my favorite thing in the world. Funny what a small world it is. I once went to school with a distant cousin of mine and had no idea we were related until we went to the same funeral and figured it out.

It looks like you made good progress on your projects though. I really like the colors for your daughter's sweater. That's pretty cool the teenage boy was interested.

Your house by the way is really cute. Good luck with the university job! I'll cross my fingers

Boogie said...

Hey, Red. There really was no defense from the lawyer for D. James. It was all surreal. I remember sitting on the stand and wanting to run over and pound his face in. Later in a Shaker Height Citizens Police Academy class, we were shown a video of predators, what they look for and why they do it. Guess who I was on the video... That's right. I'm pretty certain he's back to the same sh*t again.

Boogie said...

Boogie aka Britt Ahart