What I Learned This Week: #189

Monday, March 29 – Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Week in Jury Duty: Since I moved downtown I’ve been waiting for to be called for jury duty. I live two blocks from the court house and I work close to it, too. Jury duty, for me, would not be a hassle at all. And so I waited.

I was finally called to serve this week. Jury trials were suspended for Covid, and just recently reinstated. With Covid restrictions in place, the jury pool arrived in waves and there was plenty of space between each person. On my first day, they brought in 49 prospective jurors and immediately let 9 go. I was still in the running!

They split the rest of us into two groups, one for each case requiring a jury. After a while, they let the people in the other group go because their trial was canceled. I was still in the running!

Our group was called into a makeshift court room, one with enough space for the 20 or so of us, plus the Judge, the court reporter and bailiff, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney and his client. I was put in the first 12 prospective jurors. I took this as a good sign.

Jury Handbook

The prosecutor questioned us first. The incident on trial took place in the Justice Center, and he asked us all several questions about our dealings with and opinions of the Center and law enforcement. In the interest of truthfulness, when he asked me if I had any opinions about the Justice Center I explained that I walked past it everyday on my way to and from work and that I had a “sentimental attachment” to the building and the area around it. Yes, I know that’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true. Sometime when I walk by I can hear the inmates banging on the windows. I see the family, friends, and even foes of the inmates standing on the sidewalk, looking up, and attempting communication. I watch the weary officers and their guns walking around, too. It’s an emotional place if you’re paying attention.

The defense attorney’s questions, though he heard from everyone, focused on a few of us, me included, which I found strange. He also gave me his final question, “Is Mr. Bullock (the defendant) guilty or innocent?” He had spent several minutes of his questioning to note that Mr. Bullock is innocent until, or if, the trial finds him guilty. I don’t know why I got the last word, but I said “He’s innocent, until after the trial where he’ll be either innocent…or guilty.” And court ended for the day.

With a late start the next morning, I went into work confident about my chances of getting on the jury. When court came into session, and the prosecutor stood up to release the first juror, he called my name. Damn. So close! A dark day for democracy…in my opinion!

The Week in Government: I had been called previously to jury duty, for a high profile police officer shooting, and was let go immediately. During that call and this one, Hamilton County Jury Commissioner Brad Seitz was in charge of the juror pool. I don’t know how Mr. Seitz feels about his job, but he is absolutely great at it. He explains the procedure thoroughly and, because he knows jury duty and being downtown puts many people out of their element, he explains it rather compassionately. When people are good at what that do, it is a delight to see them at work. He is a delight.

The Week in Opening Day, a Shadow of Opening Days Past: Covid, for the second year in a row cancelled the Reds Opening Day parade, but it did not cancel the game. Neither did the snow squalls in the coldest Reds opener ever. And the Reds lost. Seemed like Opening Day captures our downtrodden mood. Then, on Friday, third baseman Nick Castellanos scored a run, got pumped up, ran his mouth against an opposing player, and got ejected. Wrongly, I tell ya! Castellanos lit the city on fire with his energy. The Reds won big on Saturday and Sunday, and there is some Reds excitement in the air.

The Week in Schleprock: My Mom had quite the Schlelprock week. She fine, but everything around her appears to be falling apart. As she heals up from eye surgery, pixels in her TV went out, not the whole picture, just the right side. Imagine that happening while you’re recovering from eye surgery. And then one her hearing aid went out. And then, the light fixture in her bedroom went out. It was a lot.

To keep from feeling sorry for our bad luck, I brought in some KFC for dinner on Friday night. Neither of us had eaten there in years. The chicken is still good. Everything else is not that great. But whatever. The meal was comforting. And then, for Easter dinner, we had, at her request, spaghetti and meatballs. That has to be one of the most comforting dishes of all time. So let things fall apart around us, we’re eating comfortably!

Schleprock Week!

The Week in Cooking – Fast and Easy: At the Saigon Market I discovered tins of curry paste that makes curry for dinner easy and tasty. For the Masamn curryy, I use this yellow can which people on the internet who know stuff about tinned curry, think is great. I added the paste to some coconut milk to make a sauce, then added chicken cubes, potato cubes, and green beans (because I had some left from last week). Served over rice, dinner was ready in about 30 minutes. Also, when I eat international food in a can, I call it a tin, like I’m an English Baroness or something!

Masaman Tin and Masaman Curry

The Week in Cooking – Slow and More Challenging: I make simple meatballs a lot, but for Easter meatballs, I wanted something a little fancier. I turned to Serious Eats for their take on Italian American Meatballs. Like some of the recipes on Serious Eats, some to the steps are too precious for everyday cooking, and I chose to skip the step that added gelatin to the meatball mixture. But I followed everything else to a tee, even pulling out my kitchen scale. They are easily the best meatballs I’ve ever made.

And while I was getting fancy on the protein, I figured I might as well get fancy on the sauce. I chose the Slow Cooked Tomato Sauce, also from Serious Eats, and I followed this recipe, as written. This is one of those modern recipes that calls for a bit of fish sauce to be stirred in at the end. This unami punch from fish sauce is a relatively new development (within the last few years) for home cooking. I tried the tomato sauce before and after adding the fish sauce. Just a few drops brought the entire potful to life. As a side note, a couple of years ago I ran out of my small bottle of fish sauce, but when I went to to the store to replace it, all they had was a big bottle. For the first couple years, I hardly used any of that big bottle. Now that I’m following some newer recipes, and know more about using fish sauce, I’m finally making a dent. And fish sauce is already rotten, so says the owner of Saigon Market, so it’s nice to be able to put it to good use, even if it takes a while.

Spaghetti and fancy meatballs and fancy sauce

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