Sittin’on the dock in L.A.

I hope you can see these rows of containers, each the size of boxcars.
They contain, I think, 300 million iPhones and one lone Wii, ready for

Tar Pit Burns

At the La Brea tar pits. They unearth an average of 10 fossils per
day, mostly dire wolves. It also smells like brand new pavement.

Alive in LA!

We're kicking around LA today, waiting to board tomorrow. Came across

Vacationing… So You Don’t Have To!

I love my job, but there comes a time when a man/woman/tranny needs to step away from the Intense Tech Writer Grind and commit some serious recreating.

I’m writing this on 3/4/09, and on 3/6/09 I’m flying to L.A. to hang out in Hollywood, pee on the big Scientology building there, and board a cruise ship to Mexico. I’ll post the occasional picture or quick anecdote, but my net access will be limited. I may end up just baking in the sun while cruising past some panoramic vista, wishing I could get my hands on a mouse instead of a cold glass of something pineappley.

Although this cruise is sponsored by the JREF, I’m not really going to do any serious critical thinking. And as much as I’m looking forward to seeing my friends, that’s not my primary goal either. I’m going because the farther you get out of your normal routine, the greater the chances for hilarious moments.

Last year, for example, we went with the JREF to Alaska, where I got attacked by wild sled dogs. Check out this insane carnivore:

Also, we got stalked by a ferocious grizzly.

Actually, salmon were running through that stream. That bear couldn’t have cared less about me. Who knew bears were related to house cats?

Being in a floating resort hotel en route to another U.S. state isn’t exactly a paradigm-shifting event, even if we did have to go to Canada first. Going to Mexico is going to be a little more alien, I expect. We’ll see.

For true mind-warping, you need to go to the opposite side of the world and drive on the wrong side of the road…

About 3 years ago, I found myself in Cape Town, South Africa. I don’t mean I woke up naked in Cape Town tied to a statue of Nelson Mandela and trying to extract my passport from my butt. No, this was what the 9/11 Truther idiots would call a “controlled destination.” Maria had gone down there for some client work, and since she was holding them over a barrel, she haggled a ticket for me so we could go on vacation when she was done.

I’d never been to Africa, but Maria had lived in Kenya for a few years. I had spent the last 10 years listening to stories of game parks and free-roaming giraffes (Maria’s totem animal, and her reason for preferring tall men). So off we went, Maria navigating and me driving on the left or “improper” side of the road. Our first stop was a game park called Sanbona, a new park that was really meant more for scientists than tourists. We were the only guests there.

It’s a 10km (49.7 furlongs) ride off the main road along a bouncy dirt trail. Ideal for our rented Celica. No cell phone signal, no one who loved us knew where we were, and I had no idea who had right of way at a crossroad.

About 6km (1.9×10^-13 parsec) in, I said “do you think we’ll see anything on the way to the lodge?”

“No, everything interesting will probably stay off the main road. We’ll see things deeper in.”

Not three minutes later, we trundle around a bend and there’s a damn lion lying in the road. Big fluffy mane and giant head and everything. Just glaring at us with those yellow eyes.


The lion s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y stood up, turned around, gave us one more look, and walked into the tall grass by the side of the road. Two steps in, and he disappeared. Of course, the camera battery was sitting in the charger. This was new, staring Big Toothy Nature right in the eyes. The biggest thing that had ever stared me down before was a deer.

We got to the lodge and met the naturalist/tour guide.

Him: “Hello, Mr. Walters! How was your drive?”
Me: “Fuh… fuh… fuh…”
Him: “Ummm… and Mrs. Walters?”
Maria: “I think he’s trying to say ‘fuggin’ lion'”
Him: “Oh. Yes, we have a pride here, but he’s an extra male, so he goes off on his own.”

Great. A sexually repressed loner lion. The Unibomber of the Jungle.

We spent that afternoon and the next morning touring around with a couple of scientists in an open jeep. The guy who met us was an ornithologist, and I think the other was a geologist, but I don’t remember. We got adopted by a herd of giraffe, which still makes Maria do a “squeeeeeeee” noise, and saw white rhinos and got circled by a bunch of galloping zebras.

The next day, we leave to head on to our next stop, and we have to bounce along that road again. This time, the camera is ready. Still no cell service. No one else is expected that day. Everyone from the lodge who was leaving had already left. Of course we get a flat tire.

Me: “Hey, remember how that lion became invisible two feet off the road yesterday?”
Maria: “Yup.”
Me: “You don’t see any tall grass that looks like it could hide a horny lion, do you?”
Maria: “I see nothing BUT tall grass.”

So we get out so I can change the tire and Maria can swipe these stinging black flies away and keep watch.

Me: “How will I know if you see the lion?”
Maria: “You’ll hear the car door slam and the doors lock.”
Me: “… Why would you lock the doors?”
Maria: “I don’t know how smart lions are.”
Me: “Can I hold the keys?”
Maria: “No.”

I learned later that we were never in real danger, since lions hunt at night, and during the day they are content to just snooze unless someone bothers them. I don’t know exactly what bothers them, but it must not be the sounds of loosening lug nuts.

We caught this video at our next game park. I’ve seen a lot of lion movies, but they must water the roaring down. When it really happens, you want nothing more than a barrier between you and them. Something like the Atlantic Ocean would be fine.

Turn up the volume for this one.

Anyway, that was a seriously epic vacation. I don’t expect the cruise to be anything like that, but you never know. We are planning to swim with some dolphins in Puerto Vallarta and drive some ATVs around Mazatlan.

“Hi! I am not indigenous to the Baja California penninsula! Perhaps you are thinking of chupacabras?”

Have a great week, everyone! I’ll have tons of stories when we get back, even if I have to make them up myself.

Check Out the DNA on that Babe

This is the third in a series of seminal stories from my sordid and nerdy youth. I got the idea from Wil Wheaton and his book The Happiest Days of Our Lives. I’m getting them out now before I return to cancer anecdotes. I hope you enjoy them, because I can only think of one more.

Coming soon: Sexual Harassment at my First Sci-Fi Convention

A couple of times in the course of a normal life, everything crystallizes together in a single perfect moment.

At the beginning of the year, NPR’s wonderful Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me told me about a story where a guy in Scotland came from a New Year’s costume party dressed as Thor, the Norse god of lightning. When he walked in, he encountered a burglar, and snapped. Charged the guy, who jumped out a window, leaving his shoes behind. Today, Mr. Torvald Alexander of Edinburgh is still basking in the envy of the rest of the male world.

To quote Wait, Wait host Peter Sagal: “Someone’s robbing your apartment, you’re six feet tall, and you’re dressed as Thor — sometimes it’s just YOUR DAY.” If Torvald lives to be 200, he will remember that moment more clearly than anything else in his life. As will the burglar.

Which brings me to one of my own moments…

I was an undergrad at Auburn University. I was still majoring in Computer Sciences, so this would have been sometime around my… third year? Sure.

CompSci folks tend to clump together, like gazelle when they think a tiger is near. Not so much physically clumping, but socially. (The tigers in this analogy are sorority girls.) My own cluster was about six people thick, which was larger than average at a school not known for its nerds. (Don’t laugh — we are known for our astronauts, so eat it, Harvard.)

One Monday morning before class, one of my clustermates, Rick, told me about a fraternity party he had attended that weekend. I don’t know how he got invited; I am guessing he helped someone change the light on the frat house porch and just stayed. Anyway, he told me about this amazing girl at the party. He didn’t get up the nerve to go talk to her, but she was tall and slim and had long brown hair and laughed a lot. She really cranked poor Rick’s tractor. Unfortunately, he didn’t get her name. I guess it wasn’t written on her clothes where he could see it from a distance. He had high hopes that she would come to the next frat party he got invited to.

She still might. I don’t think that party has happened yet.

I don’t recall if it was after class that day or sometime the next, but very soon after he told me about her, we were walking out of the computer building together when Rick grabbed my arm.

“Christian!” he hissed. “That’s her!” He was pointing across the street at a group of girls talking together.

It wasn’t hard to pick out the one he meant. She was tall (noticeably so, compared to the others), thin, with long brown hair.

She was also my younger sister, Laura.

Time stopped. The sun got a bit brighter. A universe of possibilities opened up before me. Somewhere, a dog barked. I picked the best possible option: I pulled out my Thor hammer and charged Rick.

No, really, I said something like “wait here — I’ll go see if she’s got time to talk, and then I’ll wave you over.” He was all for this sort of “warming up” technique.

I hadn’t seen Laura in a week or so. Auburn isn’t all that big a place, but we moved in different social circles. By that I mean she went to frat parties and I was a computer sciences major. But I came up behind her and got her attention.

It worked better than I could imagine. She turned, saw me, said HEY! and gave me a hug that undoubtedly made Rick jealous. During the hug, I gave Rick the thumbs up and motioned him over, hoping he would remember to watch for traffic.

By the time Rick made it across, Laura’s friends had dispersed, and she was saying “are you doing anything this weekend? You should let me make you dinner!”

Me: “This is Rick.”
Laura: “Hi Rick!”
Me: “Rick told me he saw you at a party last weekend.”
Laura: “Oh yeah! Wasn’t that a great party? I have to get to class. Call me about dinner! Nice meeting you, Rick!” And she wandered off.
Me: “Nice job impressing her with your oratory, dumbass.”
Rick: “She wants me.”

Priceless. For the rest of the week, I was a god to Rick. We had endless conversations like this:

Rick: “Are you going to call her for dinner?”
Me: “Yeah, why not?”
Rick: “Will you find out if she has a boyfriend?”
Me: “I expect so.” (She did, and he was a putz, but I figured that was a good exit strategy for after this stopped being fun.)
Rick: “If not, are you gonna ask her out?” (We were all native Alabamians. He might have asked this even if he knew who she was.)
Me: “No, she’s not my type. But I’ll talk you up if you want.”

I wish I had been familiar with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing back then. The whole situation reminds me of when Don Pedro pretends to be Claudio so he can woo Hero in his place, and Claudio starts freaking out that Don Ped–… never mind. Stay in school.

Word of my godhood spread among our cluster. It was a good week, and I was de facto Cluster Leader for a few days. But that turned out to be my undoing.

One little-known fact about nerd clusters is that your more successful ones have a Token Girl. We need someone to translate in case a sorority girl asks us for directions. It’s a tough job, translating “bear north-north-west for roughly 400 yards” into “go to the light and turn left.” Our girl was Kristen. Kristen was petite and blonde and could hang with or surpass any of us on the Knowing Obscure Crap scale. She caught wind of this “Christian the Love God” theory and was immediately skeptical. She would have had an easier time with it if I claimed to be Thor.

She was also a friend of my sister’s. When Rick and I encountered Laura, for once I was happy Kristen wasn’t with us.

But near the end of the week, I was by myself in the cafeteria, and she dropped down across the table from me. “What’s going on? When did you become a love god, and why don’t any women know about it?” She could say things like that with a straight face without sounding mean, which is why nerd clusters would take a bullet/wedgie for their Token Girls.

Reading between the lines, she was saying “our cluster only has one leader, and she’s perky and blonde — by what right do you usurp power, and why should I not have your head cut off?”

I told her the story much like I’m telling you now. By the end, she was in tears, had nearly slid under the table, and had to leave. I completely understood, and didn’t blame her for blowing my cover. I don’t know if she told Laura or the cluster first, but I do know that Laura took it better than my suddenly former disciples. They got over it soon, since I was still the one with the hot sister.

Things returned to normal. Kristen regained the near-infinite power you would expect a cluster leader to have. Rick and I had to put up with comments like “Rick, if Christian grew his hair long, would you date him?” Laura had something come up that weekend, so we didn’t have dinner.

Two terms later, I gave up on computers and switched to journalism, where the ratios were reversed: I was the leader of a cluster of girls majoring in journalism and public relations. (Eat it again, Harvard.) You can’t keep a love god down.

Summoning Fire Gods for Fun and Sexy Time

Have you heard of a book called The Necronomicon? It was a fictional book referred to in H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, but it eventually turned into a real book with it’s own bogus history. In either case, it’s filled with dark magic spells written by someone called “the Mad Arab.”

It is (or was, I haven’t kept up) a huge deal among the Satanic community, if that adds any legitimacy for you. It’s got a companion book called The Satanic Bible, which I bet is a rollicking read. In the heyday of the Satanic scare of the early 80s, it was books like this that frightened the extremely religious. They figured it was written in blood on human skin (although today it’s available on the Amazon Kindle), and it was so awful that it must have something to do with Dungeons & Dragons.

I had to see this book.

I was a junior in high school, and just getting to the point in both my rebellious youth and incipient atheism to get a kick out of idle blasphemy and consorting with anything and anyone that did not have a Southern Baptist church’s stamp of approval on it. I had a lot of options.

My group of layabout friends and I were loafing in the band room — which is what the exceptionally cool did back then — one January day when my friend Robert Watkins wandered up with a brown paper bag. Robert was the first guy I knew who cut class one day to have sex, which hadn’t been that long before, so when he appeared with some sort of secret, we paid attention.

“Guys,” he said. “Do you want to cast some spells?” So, no sex talk, unless the sex thing was a lot more complex than we thought.

Out of the bag came a worn black paperback with the same pentagram that Rush used, and the word NECRONOMICON written in 24-point Blooddrip Sans Serif Bold. Has anyone ever said “no, we would not like to cast spells, for we are 17 years old and too mature for such unwholesome behavior”? Maybe Sarah Palin did.

Anyway, we’re flipping through this book come across a spell called The Conjuration of the Fire God. Dude. Like I said, it was January, and north Alabama can get a little nippy. (Shush, it can too.) We grabbed our jackets and went outside, wondering why people as awesome as us didn’t have girlfriends.

No, I’m kidding about that last one. Robert was a known sex machine, although we never got independent verification of that from the girl in question. I was dating “Debbie,” who tended to go to class instead of lay around in the band room. I think one of the other guys was dating an amazing-sounding girl who lived in British Columbia and didn’t get to visit much.

So we’re in the parking lot, clutching the power to summon a fire god. We have one Big Bullet, and we need something to aim at. The we saw Jonathan’s van…

Jonathan was a year older than me. Nice enough guy, but tended to throw punches at people smaller than him for no reason. I was at least 4 inches taller than him, so we got along fine. He’s probably a judge now. But at the time, he drove one of these:

The perfect target! Easy to spot for a fire god, we figured, and far enough away from any of our cars. There were four or five of us, counting Robert and me, arrayed in front of the van. Robert and I both held the book while the other guys pointed at the ground and looked at the sky. (Why they thought something summoned out of a Satanic spellbook would come from the sky is anyone’s guess.) We prepared to read…

…and saw it was all written in Arabic. Damn it. But the facing page had the Arabic written out phonetically in English. Whew!

Robert and I struggled through trying to read that stuff simultaneously, figuring that would help. One of the other guys got bored halfway through and wandered back inside. We finally got to the end, looked around, and saw nothing. No angry face in the sky, no curling smoke. We were frozen solid, so Robert took his book back and we went inside.

Two hours later, school had ended. Robert and I were back in the band room with the fire god long forgotten. I was probably waiting for Debbie. Then someone came in from the parking lot, and we could see a bunch of people just outside the door all looking in the same direction.

“There’s a van on fire in the parking lot!”


“Is it Jonathan’s?” I asked, not realizing he was standing a few feet away.

“Why would it be mine?”

We squeezed past everyone and went outside.

It wasn’t Jonathan’s, but it was another VW bus no more than 100 feet away. (Remember, this was in the mid-80s. It would seem odd today to have even one of those in a parking lot, much less two, but they weren’t uncommon back then.)

Robert had turned white. I said “that stupid book needs instructions on how to aim.” He just walked back inside. He told me later he destroyed the book and started back to church, although that didn’t last more than a month. He must have had another booty call.

So, there it is. My closest brush with the spirit world. I need to get another copy of the book and practice on other cars. People who mount those triple-decker spoilers on Honda Civics, your days are numbered.

I talked to Jonathan a few days later, asking him if he was worried about driving a model that had been shown to burst into flame. His theory was that since they had closed the smoking patio a few months earlier, people had been smoking in their cars, and a VW bus was good for that. Seemed reasonable, uncommonly so for him. He had just punched a freshman, so his head was clear. Those things were like espresso shots for him.

I haven’t used my powers since, despite many temptations. The time is coming, though, especially now that I remembered this story. I’m totally getting a Kindle, 666th Edition, and lay waste to those who have wronged me. In fact, I can get a microphone and have the most awesome voicemail message ever.

I will let you know how it goes…

Follow-up Jury Duty Questions

(This one is super-long. But I promise I am done with jury duty posts. I’ll happily continue in the comments if anyone wants, or feel free to email me.)

Okay, I don’t want to subject everyone to endless chatter about my jury duty experience, but I did want to respond to the questions that came my way when I posted about it last week. I have a couple of other things in the works that should be more entertaining to non-legal people, which I will get up as soon as I can — definitely before my vacation at the end of next week.

First up: Nelsontyrone

“I would really like to know how you felt during the jury selection: did you feel that the lawyer was playing a game, trying to plead his case, or really trying to learn something about you?”

I didn’t think of it as a game (although since you mentioned it, I can see an analogy to two lawyers playing chess). But the questions were sort of… I don’t know… formulaic? I think both lawyers decided beforehand what sort of common experiences or outlooks would sway a potential juror, and tried to get to that information as best they could without giving away too much about their case. So it wasn’t so much that they were trying to learn much about me, but more that they were checking for obvious warning signs in my past or at the top levels of my psyche.

I guess the defense did a better job at the jury game, although I don’t remember his questions being any more insightful than the plaintiff’s lawyer. But for whatever reason, he got a jury full of people who can recognize emotional appeals and reason around them.

Did you think their questions were stupid, obtrusive, sneaky? Jury selection is the toughest for me. I am trying to de-select – get rid of the folks who are biased against trying to repair harms with money. At the same time, no one likes to be de-selected. I am trying not to bore them. I am trying to listen to their answers. I am trying not to judge them or cross-examine them into my way of thinking. I am really just trying to do my job for my client the best way I know how. What can you tell me about a juror’s thoughts while this is going on?

I think we understand. At least, I did. In Gwinnett County (I don’t know about anywhere else), you are pretty much on the hook for jury duty whether you get picked or not, I think it doesn’t matter as much as you think if we don’t make the cut. Being picked means we sit in a jury box listening, not being picked means we sit in the assembly room with our books and cell phones and iPods and bathoom freedom. The hassle comes from being selected to come in, not from being picked.

As for the questions, I thought they were a little shallow, but I don’t know how to improve them. Also, I’m looking back at them after knowing all the details of the case, which probably changes my view from what it was at the time.

Anyway, my advice is to not worry about offending a juror by cutting them, because they are not yet emotionally involved in the case. As long as everyone understands that people have pet peeves or uncommon views or something that doesn’t make them bad people, but can color their opinions in certain situations, there is no problem. (For example, if I was on a case involving someone who was being tried for torturing and killing dogs, I would have a hard time with it, because I have a bit of a hangup about the puppies.)

Next up, Cheryl Carpenter

Did you feel manipulated? How do you feel like the attorneys were using emotion and why didn’t you like it?

Again, this might just be me, but I lean more towards a “just the facts” approach. But we were charged with deciding who was negligent leaning up to the accident. That negligence is not going to be affected because the plaintiff loved her little boy or the defendant got straight As in college.

And the pictures of the dead boy in the gutter did nothing to advance the case. I can’t think of anything we needed to see in those pictures. Maybe I’m a little cynical, but I think the plaintiff’s lawyer was hoping we would feel so awful for her loss that we would be inclined to give her a little something. And maybe that works sometimes, but in our case, all twelve of us expressed some level of distaste for it.

I don’t think it was a shady move, really. It’s his job to do whatever he can for his client, and perhaps it works sometimes, or there are cases where emotional appeals are more valid. It just felt like we were wasting time and putting everyone through a roller coaster.

Also, you mentioned that the attorneys were just trying to cut the opposing witnesses during cross exam. Did you like this type of questioning? How did you feel about the attorneys when they were harsh with the witness?

I don’t have a problem with any of that. Part of the job, it seems to me, is to discredit your opponent’s case or to highlight the biases in the witnesses. If your testimony can’t hold its own against direct questioning, it probably deserves to be ripped up.

Similarly, some witnesses just need to be shouted down if they are being obstructionist or evasive. We didn’t get too much of that here, but the defense lawyer did get a little huffy with the accident reconstruction guy (and I don’t blame him – I was ready to beat him with a physics book myself), but they tended to appeal to the judge instead of getting in shouting matches.

Neither lawyer came of like a butthole. My impression is that the real butthole lawyers exist mainly on TV 🙂
My complaint about the Plaintiff’s Accident Reconstruction Expert

I alluded a couple of times to my negative opinion of this guy. I was asked offline to elaborate, and I thought I would do so here.

My main problem with the ARE was his lack of understanding of very basic physics. Either he is too ignorant of physics to have that job, or he started with the conclusion the plaintiff wanted and worked backwards.

There were some relevant facts about this case:

  • We did not know the exact impact point, but we do know where the bodies fell
  • The defendant claimed to be moving at 40mph, which is 5mph below the speed limit
  • The plaintiff and the older boy both ended up behind the car
  • The windshield was broken on the passenger side

This is the scenario he presented:

He ultimately concluded the defendant was moving at around 25mph, not 40, because tossing the victims 100 feet through the air would likely have killed all three. Conveniently, moving at 25 also gave the defendant more time to see and react, and since she did not, there’s a much better chance she was distracted by something else.

The problem is that there is no way to hit something from a horizontal direction and have them arc up and ahead of the impacting object. Try rolling a pool ball into another pool ball, and see if the second one flies off the table and onto the floor.

It’s a little more complicated, but basically a human being hit by a car will do one of two things:

  • she will fall flat to the ground and be run over
  • she will fall onto the hood and be carried along until the car either stops or she rolls off the side

Since the first impact would have been the car’s bumper at about knee height, far below her center of mass, she would fall on the hood. Since the windshield was cracked, we know she hit the windshield with her head or shoulder. Since she and her son were lying behind the car when it stopped and showed no signs of actually being run over, they clearly rolled or slid off before the defendant stopped.

She did not go leaping through the air ahead of the car. To suggest it tells me that the ARE is either ignorant of physics, or trusts that we are. Best evidence suggests it went like this:

  1. The defendant hit the the plaintiff and the older boy, and all three fell across the hood.
  2. The one-year-old got slung or thrown into the grass
  3. The plaintiff hit the windshield and rolled off
  4. A few feet further, the three-year-old slid into the gutter

WHEW! That was long-winded. Sorry!

So I hope you can get a sense of my frustration with this guy. It might seem like a small thing, but as any lawyer can tell you, if you can cast doubt on one part of someone’s testimony, you are obliged to doubt all of it. (That said — if any real physicists are reading this, please tell me if I made a mistake. I’m pretty sure I have the basics right, but I don’t want to libel this ARE. That’s partly why I didn’t mention his name 🙂 )

Okay, no more jury duty postings. For the next post, I’m trying to decide between telling you about the time I summoned a fire god or the time a computer nerd started lusting after my sister in front of me.

Book Review: Death from the Skies!

Death from the Skies! by Dr. Philip Plait is a wholly unusual book. It’s a book of hard science about the vast multitude of ways that the universe is trying to kill us all, and how it will eventually succeed, one way or another. But it’s also a humorous book, written in a warm, approachable style that, quite frankly, we need more of from the scientific community.

Despite the subject matter, I found it to be uplifting. Sure, there’s not much we can do to affect the Big Picture, but when you get a look at the grandeur and power of that picture, it’s a heady feeling to be part of it. At least for me; your spirituality may vary.

The We’re Doomed Connection
(sorry Kermit!)

Why do astronomers
Care about black holes
And Texas-sized pieces of rock?
Extinctions are common (in fact, ours is coming)
I doubt this will come as a shock.
Whether it’s gamma-ray bursts or a nova
Some day our species will die.
How will it happen?
How can we avoid it?
You’ll find out in “Death from the Skies!”

It’s hard to think about
But someone must do it
We don’t want to end like T. Rex.
Should we build laser guns, or nuclear missles,
Or something else much more complex?
Big rocks are looming but we’re not assuming
That we’ll be wiped out in their fire.
Phil Plait has told us how we can deflect them,
‘Til we’re killed by something more dire.

Read the book and laugh along,
There’s still a few billion years left…

Done in by gamma waves,
Or hostile creatures from “out there”?
The chances are tiny, although not quite zero
But no need to try to prepare.
Universe heat death is still surely coming
In uncounted zillions of years.
Things that we do here one day will not matter,
Read Phil’s book, laugh away the tears.

La, la la,
La, la la la
La Laa, la la
La Buy This Boooooooooooook

Read more by Phil Plait on the Bad Astronomy blog or by following him on Twitter. Tell him I sent you.

Upon further review…

…I still think we gave the right verdict.

On my way home last night, I drove by the crash site. It was dark and had been raining off and on, so I figured the conditions would be similar.

  • The curve before the convenience store absolutely played a role. The collision happened on a straightaway, but at 40mph she would have only been on that straight part for a fraction of a second.
  • The store is a lot closer to the intersection than I thought.
  • There are lights all around, but they are not powerful enough to illuminate the area.

What sealed it for me is that right between the store and the intersection, probably right on top of the collision, there was a guy standing on the curb, and I did not see him until he was about 10 feet from me. He was wearing a light-colored sweatshirt or long-sleeve shirt, too. Since I was actively looking to gauge how well I would have seen someone in front of me and still didn’t see him until 1/4th of a second before I passed him, I can totally believe the defendant never saw a thing.

No wonder the judge tells us not to go to the site while the trial is underway.

Okay, I’ll lighten up on the jury duty posts 🙂 I have a lot of comments to respond to anyway…

Media Coverage of the Trial…

…starring me as Anonymous Juror #6 squirming in the back row and twitching for his iPhone.

For those of you not following me on Twitter, the local news paper, the Gwinnett Daily Post, had a brief write-up in the Feb 17 issue.

I’m not referred to directly, but I think it’s obvious that the reporter is impressed by my steely gaze and furrowed brow and determined doodling during the slow parts.