October 2022 Part II

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Our regular pumpkin patch, Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Farm, has been getting progressively more expensive, charging for more and more things, and getting more and more crowded. So we decided to try a new place, Swans Trail Farm. They had many of the same things and some different stuff. Their corn maze was actually really cool — modeled after Washington state, with paths designed after interstates and highways, and models of different landmarks at relatively correct locations. They also had these huge inflated bouncy things that the kids had a really good time playing on. Their pumpkin patch was smaller than Bob’s, but we didn’t have any trouble finding pumpkins.

Chilkoot decided to actually carve pumpkins (with some help from KrisDi) this year. He made two characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas — Oogie Boogie and Zero.

Chilkat painted the Pacman ghosts, a black cat, and another cat.

KrisDi did a pretty amazing eyeball. I did part of the cover of Twenty-Eight Teeth, an album by Buck-O-Nine. I should have made him lean forward more.

For Halloween, we dressed up as Mystery Inc. I was Fred, KrisDi was Daphne, Chilkat was Velma, Chilkoot was Shaggy (and he carried around a stuffed Scooby). The kids were super cute, and I particularly loved Chilkoot’s straightened hair (which promptly re-curled itself while out trick-or-treating).

I don’t remember which day, but one day before Halloween I woke up with severe back pain, to the point where getting out of bed was a terribly painful experience, and functioning through the day was difficult. I spent a week sleeping on the couch in recliner mode, and used a cane while we were out trick-or-treating. Still, I needed to go in and sit down before the kids were done.

We took the kids to see the stage version of Little Shop of Horrors in Issaquah, which they really enjoyed. “The most messed up bedtime story!” The production was neat, because they had a total of like seven actors (including the puppeteer for Audrey 2), one guy played a ton of parts. I loved the song about the sadist’s mom advising him to be a dentist to turn his natural tendencies into a profitable business. The stage version also had a different ending than the ’84 movie musical — Audrey 2 eats Seymour and Audrey, investors get cuttings and market it to the world, they plants grow up and destroy humanity and take over the world.

=== From here down is a long story about my experience with jury duty, so skip it if you don’t care. ===

I figured it was unlikely I would be selected for a jury, but I was wrong. Selection day was by Zoom, and I got a little rude with the defense attorney because he was asking stupid questions (or asking questions in stupid ways). But, they picked me for a criminal case. It’s over now, so here’s the story: Defendant (youngish black male) got into an altercation at the Big Lots in Burien in September 2021; apparently he was considered suspicious for shoplifting and got defensive when asked if he needed any help. An older lady employee got her hand caught in a strap when he thrust the bag at her, he dragged her down the aisle, punched her in the face and chest (apparently thinking she was trying to take the bag from him), knocking her on the floor (she broke her wrist). Assistant manager stepped in, got punched in the face twice (no serious damage). Another shopper, a 75-year-old veteran, came up behind defendant with the stated intent of putting him in a chokehold, but defendant turned around. Vet punched defendant in the face and got punched in return; vet went flying back and fucked his hip up really badly when he hit the ground.

There was a 29 second cell phone video of most of this which we watched dozens of times, stepping through it second by second several times.

Defendant then left (with lots of shouting), assistant manager threw him his bags, and he walked away from the building. 911 of course had been called, he gave a false name to the first cop that saw him, and then ran away. He was arrested.

He was charged with robbery (shoplifting) and two counts of second degree assault (the lady and the vet). The robbery charge disappeared after we heard testimony from the cops, who gave drastically different accounts of whether or not any Big Lots merchandise had been found in the bags. We heard testimony from the lady, the manager, the vet, another employee, two cops, two doctors.

There were 15 people selected for the jury, and all of us were present for the entire case, so they selected three numbers from a hat and those jurors were dismissed as alternates. I was juror #8, and I got dismissed. The jury found the defendant innocent of both assault charges.

In my opinion: There was no way I would have said guilty for robbery. There wasn’t convincing evidence he actually had anything. I think he was innocent of assault on the vet. There was enough time for the vet to see the altercation between the defendant and the manager and lady was over, but he threw a punch anyway, and punching back when you don’t know what’s happening is reasonable, and the extreme results were just unfortunate. I think he was guilty of assault on the lady. There is no way I would believe she could hold on to the bag strongly enough for him to drag her down the aisle, and he had enough time to realize that she wasn’t trying to hold on to his bag and stop.

My experience: A lot of what you see on TV court drama is right — objections and sidebars and “strike that from the record” and sleazy spinning of facts and appeals to emotion. But it misses some slimy details. “I don’t remember” happens a lot more in real life than on TV. There’s a strong focus on “what you actually observed and what you actually remember,” which leads to an obnoxious fiction — cops write reports, and there are transcripts of conversations from months before, which are likely more reliable than memory. “Do you remember such-and-such? No? Would looking at <report or transcript> refresh your memory?” Then the witness would read, turn the document over, “Oh yes, my memory is refreshed.” No way do I believe this consistently results in refreshed memory. Why not just allow the report or transcript itself as evidence?

It took almost two weeks before deliberation started (which apparently took two days). Lots of time spent waiting, which would be easy to interpret as the court being inconsiderate or inefficient — but I think they just had to do things between the lawyers and the judge that the jury shouldn’t see or hear.

This was particularly stressful because (1) It was open-ended — it will take as long as it takes, (2) I had a new employee starting on Halloween, (3) I needed to go to Japan to host a software conference that I was helping organize, and there was very little time between the expected end of the case and my flight.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

October 2022 Part I

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The tail end of KrisDi’s trip was early October. We had already volunteered to be the headshot photographers for Kettleworks, and the chosen shoot day was while KrisDi was still gone. So, I set that up and did it without her. Although I wasn’t allowed to do our kids, since KrisDi wanted to do our hair. Up above, you can see our studio setup in the garage. The kids still played and goofed around with their troupe and generally made chaos. Here’s Chilkat’s final headshot, and here’s Chilkoot’s.

We went to Salmon Days this year. Chilkoot wanted to dress the same as me again. It still surprises me how little of Salmon Days has to do with actual salmon, but we always get to see some in the river passing through Issaquah anyway (and this time we actually went through some of the hatchery area, which we usually skip).

Kettleworks also had costume fittings, so here’s Chilkat dressed as Judge Yertle the Turtle and Chilkoot as the Mayor of Whoville. Prototypes of the costumes, anyway.

My HR person at work (we basically have just the one, and she has a ton of jobs) — I’ll just call her HR — is awesome. She’s been at the company just a couple years longer than me, and since I’ve been a manager I’ve worked very closely with her and we’ve built up a relationship. She sees photos of KrisDi’s food and occasionally gets to taste it, and we’ve talked a number of times about her coming over for dinner. She also adores and misses our kids, who used to come into the office pretty frequently.

At the last company picnic, I had a chance to talk to her husband while HR was busy, and I convinced him to give me his cell phone number so we could organize a surprise for HR — he would tell her he was taking her out for dinner, but not where. I learned later that this is pretty unnatural in their relationship — HR basically hates surprises and Mr. HR is terrible at / unwilling to keep secrets from her.

HR had an unplanned visit to Japan to take care of family, and while she was gone, Mr. HR, KrisDi, and I set a date to make Beef Wellington for them. Mr. HR apparently told her he had run into “an old friend” and they were going to dinner with them, and HR was dreading it, afraid it might be someone from work she would prefer to avoid (which it might have been!). She kept pumping him for information, but he held strong, and she was SUPER surprised.

Anyway, the food turned out great, I got to introduce them both to some interesting beers and whiskeys, the kids were excited and actually off their iPads. I had a great time, and I think they did, too.

Aside from that, there really wasn’t a lot going on in the first half of October. Both kids had dentist appointments (no cavities!). KrisDi volunteered to help teach math at Chilkoot’s school. My work had an actual in-person party. I skipped the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment