February 28th, 2007


Jury Dutiful

And I'm off to jury duty. Thought of a great idea for a legal thriller this morning. Can't even begin to think what I'm going to do with it, so it's going in the files for now.

See you all on the other side.

Unquiet Houses

I've got a little time and some bandwidth here at the Grove of the Justice, a/k/a the Multnomah County Courthouse. I propose an LJ game for this week.

We'll make our own little virtual anthology, Unquiet Houses. Each entry should be a brief (or not so brief) explanation of some aspect of architecture or [post]urban design in a future Earth emerging from the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Those aspects can be historical with respect to the narrative present of Unquiet Houses, or they can be contemporaneous, or even speculative.

I'll lead off in comments. Have a ball.


I got down to the courthouse a few minutes after 7 am. The instructions said the building would open at 7 and the jury room would be open at 7:30. The instructions also strongly admonished me not to be late.

The building opened about 7:20, forcing all of us to stand in the near-freezing rain until then. The jury room opened about 7:50. Once I made it through the very long line into the jury room, I was told we'd be on hold til 10 am, because the courts follow the public school closings, and the public schools are on late opening today. Of course, that info wasn't widely available at the very early hour most jurors had to get moving to be here.

Figure 50 jurors here, as of this writing, they've burned about 50 person-hours in inefficiency.


Given that we're on hold, I went out for a bit of breakfast. That was a mistake, because when I returned the security line to get in snaked down the block. We all stood around in the freezing rain while people went through the checkpoint one by one.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Department could stand to take some lessons from airport security. The x-ray machine has very short belts at both ends, so people can't cue up their belongings. Every time someone sets off the walk-through scanner, instead of having a diversionary inspection point, the deputies stop the entire line to do their wanding and their pat-down. Guess what? Random people in off the street with little or no experience of security lines set off the scanner constantly.

The result is a line that processes several people a minute, at most. With two lines and 100+ people in the freezing rain, that's bad math.


It's all about time. As I've observed before, the public's time has zero value as a resource constraint here in the court system. By the time we get to point of being selected for empanelling, this process will have consumed 250 man-hours. At $1.20 an hour in compensation.

Note that I'm not complaining about being here. Not at all. I'm thrilled to be here, and very much hope to be selected. But the process by which they use the resource that me and my fellow citizens represent is deeply flawed, and abusive of our time and goodwill.

"Immigrants boost pay, not prison populations, new studies show"

The L.A. Times has a story on two new studies showing that immigrant populations improve overall pay in a community, and have significantly lower incarceration rates than equivalent native-born populations. According to the story, "Both studies are based on U.S. census data, which includes both legal and illegal immigrants."


Home, home again

Got bounced on voir dire. (Surprise!) Fascinating experience, though. I wasn't specifically instructed not to discuss what went on in the courtroom, but I want to check into that question before I write about it here. I certainly didn't hear testimony or anything like that, but I was sworn in.

Feeling the chill

Had a very nice dinner with maryrobinette. Which was doubly nice because we met at McMenamin's Broadway Pub, where the heat works. Here at Rancho Lake the furnace went down sometime yesterday, and the furnace guy won't be here til tomorrow. Meanwhile we had freezing rain mixed with snow today.

It's currently about 45 degrees in my abode. I thought I had a line on a space heater tonight, but there was a crossed wire somewhere. Good thing I have cats. I'll use them like Han used the taun-taun in Empire Strikes Back. Or maybe I'll just dial up the electric blanket.

I loves me some winter.