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Barbara Fritchman Thompson
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Barbara Fritchman Thompson Diary

Week of 12 July 2004

Latest Update: Sunday, 18 July 2004 16:25

Monday, 12 July 2004

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I just returned home from a "just for me" evening out. After my 4pm haircut I drove over to the mall. I needed to go to Sears and the tobacco store to get Bob some big cans of fluid for his pipe lighters. Usually, whenever I have errands to run it is...in, out, rush here, rush there. Yesterday I decided I would take the this evening to leisurely run some errands and not have to rush around.

I am not much of a mall person but periodically I like to just walk through looking at things, stores, etc just see what is going on "in the world" so to speak. I do not wear the latest fashions or buy the hottest "whatever" is out but I do like to keep up. I started on the ground floor of the mall and walked all the way through stopping periodically to look in a window or walk in a store. 

On the way back down the mall on the second floor I stopped at the food court for a chicken wrap for dinner then continued on my way. The two stores I actually needed to go into were at the very end on the second floor anyway, the tobacco store and the second floor of Sears. I picked up a birthday present for my dad and a new grill brush for myself. On the way out of Sears on the ground floor they had the Lands' End sleepwear on sale and their sleeveless knit tops. I had bought one of the sleep tops while in Sears in Bowie last month. 

After the Mall I made a quick stop at Best Buy to check on something then drove across the parking lot to the Barnes and Noble to look for a couple of things. I never had time to just browse the bookstore at my leisure. I spent about an hour in there before finally finding a book for dad's birthday and one for Bob and I. 

It was about 7:30 when I got home. I really enjoyed just being by myself, relaxing, and being out without having to hurry. With the exception of the major department stores that sale clothing for all ages most of the other stores cater to the young teens and early 20 -30 shoppers from what I saw. 


Tuesday, 13 July 2004

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"Your tax dollars at work...not!" Several weeks ago I received in the mail a dreaded...summons for jury duty. I hate jury duty and everything it stands for. As you may have realized by now I hardly ever discuss politics or religion on my web site. I don't like to discuss them in person so why would I wish to do it here.

In my almost thirty years of living back in Winston-Salem since college I have been summoned twice before this time. In NC we have a one day/one jury serve policy. You are sent a letter with a number. The night before you are to report, that would have been last night for me, you call the clerk of court to see which numbers have been called. A high or low number does not always mean anything. I did have to appear this morning, as I have two times before. Both previous times, I was seated in the jury box but excused both times. If I remember correctly I was out both time by 3pm or something. If you are chosen you sit that trial for the day. If the case is tried and completed before the day ends you go back downstairs and may sit on another trial or go home. If a particular trial will run longer than one day you obviously have to be present for a long as the trial lasts. Before this procedure was instituted, a person was called to serve jury duty for an entire week sitting on one or two trials for the entire week. 

The procedure is as follows: a set number of persons are called that are expected to be needed for seating the number of trials on the docket for the day to report at 8am to the jury holding room where we given instructions, etc. Once all the paper work has been handled you sit and wait until they call your name to go to a courtroom. This morning I was called, along with 29 others, around 10:30. We filed into the courtroom where the clerk of court called the first 12 persons to the box. Each one was interviewed by the prosecution and defense. The first pass, which took about an hour and a half, seated 8 people. We then went through four more excused when it was time to break for lunch from 12:30 to 2:00. Back in court, we sat through 1 more being seated and three excused, etc until all 12 had been seated. We had five of the 30 people left, myself included. I was the first one called to be interviewed as an alternate. Alternates have to sit the trial just as if they were on the jury in case someone gets sick, etc.

My case was a drug arrest, selling to an undercover agent. As I stated, I hate jury duty mainly because I do not believe our current system works. After today, I REALLY don't belief our current system works. Basically, the prosecution and defense threw out juries on both sides until they had the jury "stacked" in their favor. Otherwise, why not just call thirteen people, tell them to sit down, and begin the trial. My views on the legal or illegal sale of drugs in the US is much too long to get into on this page. However, I was dismissed, which is what I wanted, very quickly. Shortly after the other five people came down, they had also been dismissed. We have now spent a total of four hours plus 1 1/2 for lunch time, to choose 12 people. When I came back down to the holding room I talked with some of the people I was sitting around. The other 60 people in the room had not left the room to sit a trial at all. Around 4:15 the woman working the holding room called ten more people. Thankfully, one of them made it to alternate. We were finally sprung at 4:40.

Questions arise such as: why did they call 90 people to sit one trial? A basic civil case. After we were no longer needed for that trial, why were we not allowed to go home since they were obviously not going to set another trial today? I could go on.

Needless to say, after dinner I made a beeline for the gym to work out after spending all but an hour and half sitting on either a hard pew like bench in the courtroom or somewhat less uncomfortable chairs in that room. Oh, did I mention, I heard the same questions being asked 23 times to 23 different people before I was asked the same ones? The room itself had shrunk by two thirds as well. The last time I was called we sat in a big, long room, with lots of space to spread out. I have heard about how much court space has been needed at the Hall of Justice in the newspaper. The room they crammed us 90 people in was about the size of a large living room with chairs in long rows with an isle down the middle sitting practically on top of one another. 

Guess I have gone on long enough. There has to be a better way to screen potential jury members based on the trials being in courts that day. Basically the State paid 77 people to sit on their butts all day and do nothing at a rate of $12 each. 

I rest my case!



Wednesday, 14 July 2004

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I am now reading the second book in the Jane Bee English mysteries by C. C. Benison, Death at Sandringham House. Jane, a house maid in the Queen's service. The Queen and her staff are spending the Christmas/New Holidays at Sandringham House. Jane was allowed to spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day with her Aunt in London before having to arrive at the estate for the remainder of the holidays. Her father, who is over for a visit from her Canadian homeland, drove her to the estate and will be staying at the nearby Feathers Inn. 

The day after Jane arrives she discovers the dead body of an actress portraying the Queen herself in a pantomime. In this case, the play pokes fun at the royal family. Jane soon learns the dead actress is the sister of the head housekeeper for the Queen who had been living the US for some twenty years until recently returning to London. As with the first book, the Queen enlists Jane's help in solving the murder as well as the mystery of how the actress came to be wearing a tiara supposedly stolen during the theft of some royal jewelry 40 years prior.

As I mentioned when after I read the first book, C.C Benison is actually Douglas Whiteway. Several discussion about this series took place on the Dorothy L. mystery list I subscribe to. Among them were readers who wondered why he only did three books. One reason put forth was that he had three books planned out using Princess Diana. He published his last book in 1997, the year she was killed. In checking out some reviews on Amazon, the first book got great reviews, the second and third one did not. Perhaps he decided to bag the series for that reason and/or due to Princess Diana being killed. Who knows? 

I actually think the books are pretty good. Yes, it is far fetched that the Queen would be discussing a murder with one of her house maids and allowing her to investigate a murder. But, this is fiction. While the royal family are real characters, the stories are build around fictitious circumstances. Having been a avid reader of historical fiction I find the books fit in with others that use the same premise.   



As I type this journal entry it is now 7pm and still 91 degrees with a heat index of 94. We are supposed to get a cold front move in this evening bringing cooler temperatures and clear skies for the next couple of days and nights. An earlier prediction of strong storms along with the cold front has been reduced to just a slight chance this evening.

I did not get to go to the gym.  Paul was coming by on the way home from work to take some pictures with the digital camera of Bob and I for the back cover of the new book coming out next month. We used an acquaintance of our who is a professional photographer to take the front cover shots. Paul thought he would be here by 5:30 which would have given me plenty of time to get to Body Pump by 6:30. However, he did not arrive until after 6. By the time we got the pictures shot and checked to make sure we had some good ones to use it was too late to bother with going tonight.  


Thursday, 15 July 2004

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It was one of those frustrating days at work today. I woke up this morning at 6am and decided I might as well get up half an hour early and go in by 7:30 which would allow me to leave at 3:30. When I got to work both our Outlook and Internet access was down.

I fiddled around with some paper work and filing to see if it would be back up soon. By mid-morning we were still not up. Without the web we cannot do tickets because we cannot verify information. Instead, I worked on some behind the scenes stuff I could do that needed very little web work. 

Our team had a meeting scheduled this afternoon at 2pm with the InterAction folks to go over some problems we have been experiencing with the software. Our firm is one of the few that has rolled it out to all 470 attorneys/associates in the firm using it firm wide. At 10:30 this morning they called to see if they could come at 11am instead. We trooped upstairs to the meeting room and waited on them to arrive which was almost 11:30. The meeting ran until 1pm. By the time I came back down and heated up my lunch then took my walk it was almost 2pm before I was able to get back to work

By this time the web was up but not Outlook. I got started clearing tickets and finished cleaning up the reports I worked on in the morning. 

On the way home it was the usual: bank, gas, library, and grocery store. Bob needed some books to read so I spent about half an hour or so looking for something he has not read or would read. It was 5pm by the time I got home. 

I fixed salad's for dinner then took the Boys down to play with Emma while Bob finished up reviewing one of the chapters.

It was somewhat cooler today from what it had been earlier in the week. I am looking forward to getting in some observing time this weekend if the forecast holds up.



Friday, 16 July 2004

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Foiled again by Mother Nature. While the forecast for tonight is mostly clear the Sky Clock we use for transparency and seeing as a gauge for good observing conditions went downhill starting last night. This afternoon's update look pretty dreadful in terms of being able to see much of anything. We decided there was not much use in going out with conditions less than favorable.

I came home from work and mowed/edged the lawn. Or, shall I say I mowed the high parts of the lawn, mostly the Bermuda grass which loves hot, dry weather. It is so dry the ground is cracking open in the dirt areas. While we have had some rain it has not been enough to keep the ground moist with all the hot and humid weather. If we do not get substantial rain in the next week I will loose a great deal of the lawn. It does not pay to water it. I will just reseed in the fall.

Last night I finished up the Jane Bee mystery. Not sure what I am in the mood to start next. 


Saturday, 17 July 2004

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A somewhat lazy day. This morning I awoke at 7am but decided to snooze just a little longer. Next time I looked at the clock it was 8:45. I cannot tell you when the last time I slept past 8 let alone until almost 9. Last night I went to bed early to read but ended up turning the light out about 9:30. Other than getting up a few times during the night I slept almost 12 hours. No wonder I was tired feeling all week.

After spending a leisurely morning reading the paper and watching some of the British Open Golf I did the upstairs house cleaning. I finished around 11:30 and fixed lunch, actually brunch, since I did not bother with breakfast this morning. I watched more golf while we ate then took my shower.

I then tackled the downstairs finished area. The last couple of times I had walked through down there I walked through numerous spider webs. Before they could take up permanent residence for the summer I mounted a full scale attack with the vacuum doing the walls, corners, etc then the floor. Today was a perfect day to get that small chore done since I had no other pending tasks to work into my schedule. My folks and sister are off on a day trip.

Once that we finished I took the Guys down to play with Emma for a few minutes. Her folks are away just for the day. Once back home I came back to my desk to do some tidying up then checked mail and other assorted activities.

I shall spend the remainder of the day reading and relaxing. Last night I was wandering around the house trying to find something to read. That within itself is hard believe with two shelves of "to be read books" and a new batch of stuff I picked up at the library. For some reason I just could find something to fit my mood, which was due to the fact our observing session was cancelled due to the weather. I finally settled on the latest book by Lee Harris, The Bar Mitzvah Murder. Her books are light but entertaining. 

Speaking of the weather. We were supposed to have thunderstorms all afternoon and evening but so far the sun has been out and the storms have stayed away. The conditions are still horrible for tonight in terms of observing though.



Sunday, 18 July 2004

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Dad and I played golf this morning. It was overcast and dreary looking but it never did rain. While we ate lunch at the house we watched the final holes of the British Open Golf. It ended up after regulation play a tie between Ernie Els and and an unknown American Todd Hamilton. By this time it was getting on close to 1:30 so I came on home. Before coming upstairs I needed to check the oil in my car. This morning the engine was pinging. My car is not leaking oil underneath but burning it at a high rate of speed. In the end Bob had to add three quarts to get it back up to full. By the time I did get upstairs the four hole playoff was almost completed.

I did get to watch Todd pull off the upset win. He has played for ten years or more on the European and Asian tour before finally getting his PGA tour card after 8 tries. After getting his card he won his second tournament out, the Honda Classic and now the British Open. 

While I watched the tournament I read the paper then took a quick shower. Afterwards I gave the dogs a good brushing before finally coming back to check mail, etc.

The sun has been out all afternoon with only a slight chance of a thunderstorm. No real rain in sight. Last night my sister and folks hit such a bad rain storm they had to pull off the highway for awhile before proceeding to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Dad said it poured again while they were eating but let up by the time they had to drive on home.

We got maybe enough rain to wet the pavement not under the trees. It looked like it might have rained lightly over night but nothing substantial.




Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Barbara Fritchman Thompson. All Rights Reserved.