* Don't go having fun without an electron, kids. What would your grandmother think? Lord.)
With a winter like ours in New England -- relentless blizzards, subzero wind chills, snowdrifts the size of albino brontosauruses -- you eventually start asking yourself some important questions. Questions like:
Will the yard ever thaw again, or should I start charging neighborhood kids two bucks a pop to ice skate on it?
Can I claim snow blindness on workers' comp, to get out of trudging through waist-high Siberian slop to the office every day?
If I trip face-first into a snowbank and play it off as though I'm making a snow angel, will anyone actually believe me? And will the bus I'm waiting for leave without me in disgust?
Important questions, all. But the most pressing one I've found is not one I expected. It's more of a wardrobe query, and it's this:
When does a thing stop being "clean", exactly?
Let me preface my thoughts on this by saying it's not a question that usually comes up. A worn garment is a dirty garment -- a filthy, unclean, shameful lump of cloth to be hidden away from polite society until such time as it's been laundered, fluffed and, depending on your fabric softener brand, made to smell like a thousand old ladies buried in a rose garden.
"The rule is clear. I might bend it occasionally, when push comes to salsa stain, but I've never questioned the rule."
In other words, worn equals dirty -- with a few exceptions. Weekend sweatpants, for instance. A hoodie slipped on just to make a beer run. Gently lived-in jeans on a desperate Friday morning, when the only clean options are tuxedo pants and a neon pair of Speedos.
The rule is clear. I might bend it occasionally, when push comes to salsa stain, but I've never questioned the rule. It's the rule.
That was before the four snowmen of the Blizzapocalypse blew through, shitting sleet on our heads like New England had collectively signed up for some sort of climatological ice bucket challenge. Now the rule isn't so clear. For instance:
All week, I wore four shirts. The average forecast was fourteen degrees below absolute zero, or something equally ridiculous, with a seventy percent chance of slipping on icy sidewalks and falling ass-backwards into a snow bank. So I layered. I started with a T-shirt, then a long-sleeved T, then a heavier long-sleever and then a sweatshirt or rugby or whatever I thought I could get away with wearing to the office that wasn't lined with fur or the cozy warming blubber of baby seals.
These shirts were all different, every day. But by mid-week, I started asking: are some of these things still "clean", by some reasonable definition?
Like, clearly, not the T-shirt. That thing is rubbing up against pits and hair and tucked into pants and became dirty -- really, truly dirty -- roughly three seconds after I put it on. The T is not clean. Nobody's saying that.
Ditto the outer shirt. While its experience is perhaps less... suffocated, it's out there in the elements, sleeves flapping, touching people and walls and probably rogue globs of salsa, so it's definitely not clean, either. It's seen things, man. And it's probably filthy.
But what about the shirt under that? Existentially speaking, is it clean? It's not exposed to the world. It's not touching me. It's got a two-shirt buffer from me, to soak up any scents or liquids or anything else a disgusting human might ooze throughout the day. So, what's its status? Clean? Dirty? Can I wear it again without washing it? If I do, can I tell anyone? Is this even a sane question? And if it is, should I write about it in a public place, exposing my madness to the world at large?
Clearly, the answer to at least one of those questions is "yes". Sadly for us all. But that doesn't answer my original question, which is whether some of those "sandwich" shirts in the in-between layers are clean. Or "clean", which would be close enough, because I lived in a dorm room for four years and heaven knows we didn't come anywhere close to "clean" -- or even ""clean"" -- the entire time.
It's not just the shirts, though. Oh, no. We're not in "layer your torso and be done with it" territory here. This is time to gird all the body parts, which means extra insulation all over -- which means further conundrums vis a vis personal hygiene and doing fourteen loads of laundry every week.
Seriously. Sandwich shirts are easy, by the time you start asking yourself whether you can recycle the middle pair of three socks into your wardrobe. Or whether any of four pairs of boxers were safe enough from your junk to make it back into rotation.
So yeah, this winter is tough. The shoveling we can handle, and the driving and the freezing and the roofs collapsing under two tons of white stuff. But the wardrobe planning?
Shit. Make it spring already, would ya?
Also cannibals, chipmunk nuts and some chick in a bologna suit. As all good science should. Check it out.)
I was never all that good at math. I mean, I can add, and multiply smallish numbers together and convert inches to millimeters, if you give me a few minutes. And a quiet room to think about it. Also, a calculator.
Basically, I'm cool with any sort of math you might need to do to calculate baseball statistics -- because honestly, what other point is there of learning math at all? Sure, astronauts should know a little trig, and math teachers should maybe watch Good Will Hunting at some point, but otherwise it's just piling on. The final college math exam should just be figuring out the batting averages and ERAs for every schmo on the Minnesota Twins, and congratulations, you're ready for an office job.
(This has the added benefit of getting someone, anyone, to pay attention to the Twins for a couple of hours. Those guys are like the Cleveland Indians, without the Major League love.)
I say all of this to admit that I'm no Benoit Mandelbrot when it comes to mathematicals, but I've recently learned that I'm also not the worst when it comes to numbers, either. Because that trophy belongs to home appliance installers.
"We scoped out brands and features and which in-door ice makers would make cubes in naughty shapes for parties."
My wife and I recently bought a new refrigerator. We scoped out brands and features and which in-door ice makers would make cubes in naughty shapes for parties.
(Answer: none of them. You're missing an market here, fridge peddlers.)
Once we had our favorite models in mind, we moved on to the very most important spec of all: width. Because you can pick out the most spectacular refrigerator of all -- it can deep-freeze your Ben and Jerry's, email when you're low on milk and squeeze boob cubes into your Tom Collinses all day. But if it won't fit in the kitchen, you're shit outta luck. And also outta milk, and that appears to be Cherry Garcia dripping all over your linoleum. Aw.
We didn't make that mistake. There are a couple of ways into our kitchen -- the condo layout is sort of a Mobius strip -- but the biggest available doorway is thirty inches wide. That's thirty. Three. Oh.
Like I said, I'm not much with the maths. But I got out an abacus and a few sheets of paper, and I figured out that to get through a thirty-inch doorway, we'd need to buy a fridge that had a maximum width of less than thirty inches.
(I know, I know -- nobody came here expecting word problems. This isn't the SAT. But bear with me. There's only one more bit of math. Promise.)
So we did just that. We picked out a model that claimed to be, minus the removable door and brackets, less than thirty inches wide. Not by a lot. Let's face it -- a six-inch wide fridge isn't helping much of anyone. You could store uncooked spaghetti in there -- standing up, not longways, obviously -- and that's about it. Maybe pencils. Or a single row of hot dogs.
Clearly, we wanted something wider. So the fridge we selected was on the higher end of what's feasible: twenty-nine and one-half inches. A tight fit, to be sure. But physically possible. Shoved through on a dolly, there'd be a whole gaping quarter-inch chasm on each side as buffer. Easy. Like tossing those hot dogs down a hallway. Or something.
So we ordered the refrigerator, set up a delivery and on the date a couple of guys came and wheeled it into our living room, next to that thirty-inch doorway. They removed the door and some other fiddly equipment, dollied it over and said...
Turns out, there are flanges -- or flangey-type metalish things; my applied engineering is about as good as my math -- sticking out of the fridge cavity, by about an inch. Which, added to the twenty-nine and one-half inches advertised in width, is apparently too big to fit through the door. Or so the guys told me. And then showed me on a calculator. And Texas Instruments don't lie.
We then dipped into a fascinating discussion on semantics, and whether the "bracketless" designation in the spec sheet also implied "flangeless" -- or "flangey-type metalish thingless". Also, we debated the nature of the phrase "less than thirty inches", and found our philosophies on the matter to be, shall we say, less than compatible.
Which is odd, because that's pretty basic math. I know it's math, because there are numbers involved. And I'm sure it's basic, because it's something I've actually learned. If it were rocket science, it would involve Greek letters and derivatives of things, and I'd get a headache thinking about it. But I don't. Until I talked to the installers.
So. Now we have a second appointment with the home appliance people, who maybe this time will send a mathematician on the crew. Or at least, someone armed with a goddamned flange remover. In the meantime, we have a perfectly lovely, full-featured, doorless and flange-protruding refrigerator disassembled next to our living room couch. It's not keeping our Chunky Monkey frozen, and my hot dogs and spaghetti are scandalously room temperature.
All I know is, when this thing gets in there, it had better make the naughtiest ice cubes the world has ever seen. Somebody owes me.
Does compute, baby. Does compute.)
There's a trick to spending the winter in Boston. It's the same trick I imagine would be needed to spend a winter in Minneapolis, or Vancouver, or, say, the ice planet Hoth:
Park your car in a garage.
It took me several winters in Boston to learn this lesson, because I'm not all that bright. Also, I was busy shoveling snow during most of those winters, so I didn't have a lot of free time for reflection. But eventually, slowly, I learned.
That's half the battle.
The rest of the battle, presumably, is actually owning or renting a garage spot in which to park, and I haven't exactly figured that part out yet.
(I suppose the other alternative would be to ditch the car. But that's not exactly practical for people in my situation.
Like, honestly, what if you had to bring groceries home from the store on Hoth without a car? It's not like they make hatchback tuantuans.)
That puts me in a bit of a pickle, automotively. I do have a parking spot -- but it's not in a garage; it's in the great outdoors. By which I mean, it's at the end of an overcrowded behind-a-brownstone parking lot accessed via a narrow snaking eighty-foot driveway across the street.
"I just want to park, and to not wind up like Jack Nicholson at the end of the Shining when I need to drive somewhere."
So not "great outdoors" in the "Grand Canyon" or "Swiss Alps" sort of way. But it sure as hell ain't a garage.
In the best of conditions, it's not even much of a parking lot, what with all the vehicles crammed in together and the angled-parking angles jutting all willy nilly. What it is, after a blizzard, is a fantastic snow receptacle. You can store tons of the stuff in there. On top of cars. Between cars. All down the driveway. It's fantastic, if you're in the snow hoarding business.
And best of all, even if someone comes in to rob you, they can't get any of that snow out without an industrial bulldozer. You could be the Scrooge McDuck of snow.
That's not really my thing. I just want to park, and to not wind up like Jack Nicholson at the end of the Shining when I need to drive somewhere. Like South America. Where it's warm.
This year, I've finally made progress. That parking spot of mine has had two feet of snow dumped on it in the last two weeks -- and another foot coming this weekend, it's rumored -- but there's one key difference between this season and the winters of back-breaking shoveling past: my car's not in it.
You see, I've failed in fifteen Boston years to find a garage spot near where I live. But I have managed to weasel into a job that gives me a parking spot beneath a shopping mall three blocks from where I work.
I'm not saying that's ideal, either. This is the life I'm working with, is all.
So whenever a new storm's on the way -- like yesterday -- I leave my car at work, in the mall garage. Sometimes I walk three miles home, for the privilege. Sometimes, it's a white-knuckle cab ride through the hordes of people desperately stocking up on bread and milk and non-edible sidewalk salt. But the best way through this Arcticifaction of New England -- perhaps the only way, judging by the thousands of street-parked cars that haven't been dug out in three weeks -- is this remote-parking, garage-borrowing nonsense I've adopted.
Now. If I can just swap my sidewalk for some nice clean warehouse hallway. That would be sweet.
(Another week, another science. Secondhand SCIENCE, that is.
This time, we're talking tumor suppressors -- the genes that do important and necessary things, but are only really appreciated after they're gone. Like Vincent Van Gogh, or orthodontic braces. Or a veggie burrito. You get the idea.)
I'm thinking about looking into home automation, or the "internet of things" or "casa Futurama" or whatever the hell people are calling it these days. I haven't taken a serious look yet. I just know that it sounds terribly cool, and that if you don't have the gross national product of a small second-world nation to throw at it, it's going to be disappointing.
Still. It does sound cool.
Take "smart appliances", for instance. We were in the market for a new refrigerator recently, and one of the models that caught my eye was a "smart" model from Samsung.
(Which begged the obvious question: are all of their other models somehow "stupid"? Calling only one "smart" out of a product line of six or whatever doesn't speak very highly of those other fridges. Do they get distracted and unplug themselves when nobody's supervising? Will they boil the gallon of milk I put inside? If none of them can spell "freon", how can I expect them to use it properly?)
(Maybe that's just me. I've always argued that when companies put out a product that's "new and improved", they should have to relabel the remaining stock of original product "old-ass and craptastic".
It's possible I'm a little over-sensitive to modern marketing strategies.)
Anyway, the idea of a smart refrigerator sounded amazing. And I've read in tech articles before where the technology is heading. Barcode readers installed on the doors. Automated sensors to tell you when your milk is expired, or you're nearly out of Cheetos.
(For the record, I don't routinely store my Cheetos in the refrigerator.
But if I had a smart fridge that would sound an alert when I'm almost out, then maybe I would. I'm just saying.)
"This is not the glimpse into the "home of tomorrow" I was hoping for."
Now, I haven't shopped for a refrigerator in several years. So I was eager to see what fantastic time- and effort-saving features had made it to the marketplace. And I went over that Samsung fridge's specs, top to bottom. Here's what I found:
1. It works like all of their other refrigerators, which is to say like pretty much every refrigerator made in the last five years.
2. In the front, instead of a little screen to show temperature or which kind of cube will come out the ice maker, there's a slightly bigger screen about the size of a cheap tablet. A cheap Samsung tablet.
3. The screen is basically a cheap Samsung tablet glued to the door, with several crucial differences. First, the only apps appear to be Pandora, a recipe viewer and a picture display. Second, you can't install any more apps on it. And third, when you compare features with the "stupid" fridges, the cheap tablet glued to the fridge door costs about three times as much as one that isn't glued to the door of a refrigerator.
(Presumably, Samsung sells a whole tier of these Frankenstein beasts, with the price escalating if the tablet is glued to, say, a toaster. Or a French coffee press.)
This is not the glimpse into the "home of tomorrow" I was hoping for. The "home of that day I taped my recipes to the fridge and bought a shitty Bluetooth speaker for the kitchen", maybe. But not "tomorrow", by a long shot.
I'm starting to get the feeling all these other home automation gizmos are in basically the same boat. They're not really "smart"; in fact, they're barely "savant" . Sure, I could get a front door lock that would open when my keychain comes within ten feet of it. But would it stay locked if it was a Sasquatch carrying my keys, and trying to get in to raid my delicious, possibly-past-the-date and maybe-refrigerator-boiled milk?
I don't think so.
Or how about lights that turn on when I enter the bedroom -- unless I'm sneaking in at three in the morning, and trying not to wake the missus? Also, some of those lights can change color. Will they turn green to remind me to take out the recycling? Or red, when I'm getting chewed out for waking up my wife at three in the morning? Or most important, orange when there's a sudden emergency because we're almost out of Cheetos?
Again, it's doubtful.
So I'll keep looking into this "smart-if-you-say-so" technology, but I'm not getting my hopes up. If all the rest of it is only as "smart" as the fridge, it's going to be a long, long time before my kitchen knows more about my kitchen than I do.
I'd better stock up on Cheetos. Just to be safe.
(This week's Secondhand SCIENCE is lost... in... spaaaaa-aaaace.
Well, almost. It's actually all about trans-Neptunian objects, which aren't quite "lost". But they are really, really far away. And there might be more of them than you think. Have a looksee.)
I'm not much for New Years' resolutions.
"New Years' resolutions are like assholes: everyone's got one, and nobody wants their face rubbed in someone else's."
Partly because they're a little too common. I tend to stay away from the conventions that everyone follows, because how interesting are those? To paraphrase a popular saying about opinions:
New Years' resolutions are like assholes: everyone's got one, and nobody wants their face rubbed in someone else's.
Wait. Maybe that was birthdays. Anyway, you get the point.
Also, I don't like New Years' resolutions because the tradition is completely arbitrary. A large fraction of the eastern hemisphere doesn't even recognize January first as the start of the new year. A few hundred years ago, various Europeans celebrated in spring, or September or December 25th. And between all the adjustments and gaps and tinkering with the Gregorian and Julian and other calendars over the centuries, who knows whether modern "January 1" is still the same "January 1" people were talking about through history, anyway?
What I'm saying is, if you simply must make an annual resolution, pick whatever day you like. It's fairly likely it was "New Years' Day" to someone, sometime, somewhere in history.
Mostly, of course, I'm just lazy. So I don't make New Years' resolutions. But this year, I am making a "Second-to-Last Week of January resolution".
Which is perfectly as good. See above, if you don't believe me.
What I'm resolving is to finally finish reformatting and re-releasing the Amazon prank review articles I wrote for ZuG.com a while back.
(A recap of the situation, for those of you -- okay, all of you, who can't be bothered to link through and catch up:
ZuG.com was a Boston-based humor site for around 15 years, featuring pranks, articles, message boards and some of the least uncomfortable talk about "pee tubes" you can imagine.
Also, some of the most uncomfortable talk about pretty much everything else. And yes, it was glorious.
I wrote two series of around fifty articles each there -- one involving Facebook post pranks on companies, and the other silly Amazon reviews. When ZuG closed up shop on April Fools Day 2013, I was able to grab the materials [and permission] to repost those articles here.
I got the Facebook posts cleaned up and reposted by April 2014. The Amazon articles, not so much. Like I said, I'm lazy.)
So, I'm making a late-January resolution to get these silly things live by April 1st, the second anniversary of ZuG riding the old flaming Viking funeral ship out to sea.
(Or choking on a cocktail wiener while sitting on the toilet. None of us has actually seen the medical examiner's report.)
To be honest, I'd nearly forgotten about those old Amazon reviews, but my memory was jogged when I found out two of them were hand-selected (by Amazon automated delivery drones, possibly) to appear in Did You Read That Review? It's a book chock full of odd and hilarious reviews of Amazon products, and I'm proud to be a part of it.
Also, now I want to get those articles up so I can read what the hell I was thinking when I wrote that nonsense.
So if you want a sneak peek of the Amazon-pranking goodness to come... again, by April... probably, unless it's really hard... then check out the book. Or just sit back and wait (like I've basically done for nearly two years), and perhaps the articles will magically reappear.
Either way, this is the best non-New Years' New Years' resolution I've ever heard of. Anybody can lose weight or quit smoking or get elected to Congress in the space of a year. But I'm taking laughs from the internet tomb in which they lie (and also, a book), and bringing them back to life -- the better to be ridiculed, mocked and vilified for creating them in the first place.
If that doesn't say "brave new year", I don't know what the hell else does.
(It's time again for science. That's Secondhand SCIENCE, natch.
This week, it's a look at DNA origami. Want to fold a pretty swan out of your genetic material? Well, that's kind of strange. But maybe you can. Have a look, weirdball.)
I'm not sure I'm on board with this whole "Boston hosting a Summer Olympics" thing.
Sure, it would be a fantastic cultural experience -- people from countries all over the world would mingle in the streets, sharing thoughts and cuisines and various exotic pathogens. It'd be like a United Nations meeting, with more javelins. Or Carnivale, without the boobs.
And maybe living here, I'd even be able to score tickets to a couple of the events. Nothing extravagant, of course. The popular sports would be way out of my price range. But maybe I could catch Cameroon and Laos in a cornhole semifinal, or whoever Russia hasn't re-absorbed in Eastern Europe playing a game of table soccer.
Are those exhibition sports? I don't really keep up.
Still, I can't see the advantages outweighing the significant and inevitable suckages. Logistics, for instance. Boston proper is approximately the size of a Denny's place mat, which means the venues for sports would either be outside the city and miles apart, or allcrammedupontopofeachother, which would lead to some terribly awkward moments around the Olympic village.
Just for instance:
Latvian athlete: Hey, bucko -- you got your sweaty handballs in my beach volleyball panties.
Norwegian athlete: To be pardoning, no -- you wrapped your beach volleyball panties around my sweaty handballs.
Both: They're two great tastes we can medal in together!
And then they'd run off to practice Greco-Roman wrestling in the dorms. Do you want that on your conscience?
"There's a reason people only bother going to Gillette Stadium for four games a year in December and January. I'm just saying."
Well, fine, maybe you do. Still, it seems kind of messy. And the point stands -- the plan as I've heard it is to use existing sporting venues all over the suburbs, which would mean an awful lot of zipping around on overtaxed roads and buses and subway cars to see them. There's a reason people only bother going to Gillette Stadium for four games a year in December and January. I'm just saying.
Speaking of which, that's another markdown for the Olympics: why would you host a sporting event that the local sports heroes wouldn't excel at?
That's just not the Boston way, frankly. When we've hosted the Stanley Cup in hockey, we made sure the Bruins got to play in it. Ditto the World Serieses at Fenway; the Red Sox were right in the middle of those. All the NBA playoffs in Boston have featured the Celtics, and the NFL post-season played here includes the Patriots, like clockwork. The local fans love those teams, and the players. But where in the world would any of them get into the Olympics?
Nowhere, is where. What's David Ortiz going to do, join a rowing team? They say Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have a great rapport on the field -- but can they synchronize swim? And who wants to see Zdeno Chara in competitive horse jumping? Not the horses. I'll guarantee you that.
Besides all of that, the last few Olympics have been enormous money sinks for their host cities, costing billions of dollars to plan for, put on and clean up after. Neither Boston nor Massachusetts has that kind of money lying around; it's already earmarked for Harvard fundraisers and MIT startups. Also, I think we're probably still paying for the Big Dig. Also, Ted Kennedy's bar tab. And the Tea Party.
(No, not the loonybag recent one. The other one, back in Redcoat times.)
So personally, I think I'd prefer if the Olympics pass Boston by -- with one exception. These are the 2024 Olympics, I think, and that's still a few years off. Maybe by then, we'll have this virtual reality thing finally figured out, and all the games will be digital, with the athletes competing via joysticks from the comfort of their Olympic Village sleep pods, and the rest of us jacked into the Matrix to watch. It might not matter at that point what city the Olympics are "in", technically, but I'd be all for Boston hosting then.
Why? With all the fancy hacking and coding the kids can do these days, we can probably muster a way to make Big Papi a world-class (virtual) rhythmic gymnast. And that's a (digitally-enhanced) spectacle I'd pay (real money) to (fake) see.
(You know what's special? Relativity, that's what.
Well, not all of it. Just the special kind. Obviously.
It makes regular relativity look like remedial relativity. Check it out.)
Next week, I'll be venturing into new territory for me. New, somewhat troubling and highly judicial: I've been summoned for jury duty.
It's my first time, which seems to be unusual -- just about everyone I mention it to has been called for jury duty themselves. Which means they have stories. And lots of advice:
"Better take a tablet, so you can watch movies or something."
Evidently, watching the wheels of justice turn isn't as mesmerizing as the writers for Law and Order would want you to believe.
"If you get sequestered, make sure they give you the good takeout food."
This advice was sadly not followed up with tips on how to score the good takeout, or exactly what constituted "bad takeout". I've frankly never met a spicy eggroll I didn't like. But I've never had one in a courthouse, either.
"If you want out fast, just give 'em the crazy eyes. Say you're pro-arson or something."
This seems like good advice to get out of some things fast. A blind date, for instance. A PTA meeting. Volunteer firefighter training. But assuming there's a prosecutor in the vicinity, I think I'll stay away from confessing love for any sort of felony. Or misdemeanor, for that matter.
"If some suit is still yakking about evidence by noon, I'm just going to vote to fry the defendant for whatever disturbing the peace or litterbugging he's in for, so we can all get on with our lives."
But I am good with the crazy eyes. I'm totally doing that.
The main thing I don't want is to get sucked into some months-long affair that drags on forever. A couple of hours of criminal justice system is fine -- I've watched my share of L&O marathons on cable. But I'll lose interest soon enough. If some suit is still yakking about evidence by noon, I'm just going to vote to fry the defendant for whatever disturbing the peace or litterbugging he's in for, so we can all get on with our lives.
Well, okay. So the rest of us can get on with our lives. The perp should have thought of that before he dropped his gum wrapper on the ground, or whatever.
The scary thing -- other than everything about a courthouse, and being formally summoned to one at eight in the early-ass morning -- is that there are two hee-yuge trials around town just getting under way. The Boston Marathon bombing trial started picking jurors last week, and apparently the ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez murder trial is doing the same now. Neither of those seems like a quick "in-and-out" kind of deal, somehow. Probably, there's some evidence to go over, and witnesses to call and such. The bad takeout could get really old for somebody sitting on one of those juries.
Of course, as a (sometimes) writer, maybe I should want to land on one of those high-profile cases. Some jurors get through those, wrangle some sort of legal rights or other, and pen bestselling books about the experience. I can't say that wouldn't be attractive. Except for all that writing that's probably involved. Still.
The bigger problem is that I'm really that kind of writer. You don't want deliberations about a cold-blooded murder, or a capital terrorism case, to sound hilarious -- but I'm not sure what else I could go for. Most everything I write -- including this nonsense -- is a swirl of iffy snark, self-deprecation and dick jokes.
(Psst. It was the "spicy eggroll" thing. Sometimes they're subtle.)
Anyway, I don't think that's a risk for me. Those are both federal cases, I think, and I'm not being called to a federal courthouse... I think. I don't really know how this works. Maybe I'll get traded for a sack of "good takeout" burritos, and wind up sequestered for months. Or I'll acquit a jaywalker after ten minutes of defense. Or I won't get called at all. That might be likeliest.
(I really do have the good crazy eyes. I'm just saying.)