Monday, August 27, 2012

One Angry Man

Today, I received a summons from the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, ordering me to register for jury duty. Under ordinary circumstances I would LOVE to serve on a jury: imagine the blogging possibilities! However, under ordinary circumstances, I would be living in Canada.

As it stands, I am not. Thus, before even opening the envelope, and therefore not having a clue of what was being asked of me, I was addressing to it outraged, yet noble speeches in my head, dredging up my first-year poli-sci understanding of civics: “No sir, will NOT stand to be drafted for the duties of a citizenship that I while being denied the attendant rights, upholding laws for which I’ve no franchise to ratify…” which ended, in my imagination, with the judge chastened and my fellow potential jurors applauding. Man, that jury-summons envelope got it GOOD from me.

On opening it, I was directed to a handy website on which I had to register, with the dire warning that if I did not do so by September 28th, I WOULD BE SUMMONSED AGAIN, TO APPEAR AT A LATER TIME. As threats go, seemed to be, as the kids say, weaksauce.

  Once I punched in my juror i.d. number, I was greeted by a pre-recorded video featuring the senior presiding jurist (whose name escapes me already). After her assurances that I was executing my civic duty for which my fellow citizens were grateful, she concluded with a rather ominous observation that I myself might be pleading my case in front of 12 suckers just like me. The subtext: “do this right, or karma will come around to bite you.”

Once her spiel was over, I was brought to another page, which launched automatically in a countrified version of “God Bless America” along with patriotic iconography  – a very MySpace touch, on a website devoted to the sober administration of justice and upholding of the law. It seemed outré that they should be trying to make this process rousing.

By this time, my imaginary speech was a tour de force indictment of the entire system: a treatise on the nature of law as a Platonic ideal that should be untainted by exclusionary nationalistic preoccupations (the contradictions of this stance with the arguments in paragraph two of this post were, I expect, to be reconciled in subsequent drafts). My reverie was interrupted when I realized that I was now being prompted to fill out a series of questions, any one of which could disqualify me. First one: “Are you a citizen of the United States.” I answered "No" and shortly thereafter…. “You are not eligible to serve.”

Honestly, I’m more than a little disappointed. It was going to be a hell of a speech.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vasquez Rocks: It was, in fact, hot enough for me.

"I will conquer that, for it is there."

California is in the middle of a heat-wave. As such, we decided that today would be a good day to go for a hike to see the Vasquez Rocks, which is located in the middle of a desert, which in turn is sitting atop a giant frying pan, inside a massive convection oven, that is on fire. It was hot, it what I’m saying, and certainly not the circumstances in which strapping a baby to your back along with the associated baby-infrastructure and climbing up a steep hill with a cranky and underslept toddler would be advisable.

However, I am well aware that no one reads this blog for parenting competency  (I am aware that the way I update this thing, I could have stopped, more accurately with “no one reads this blog.” Shut up, wisenheimer).

In any case: Vasquez Rocks are about an hour away from where we live. I insisted that we go through a car wash before leaving: vehicles accumulate a lot of dust in Los Angeles, and we were overdue. This made us late to meet our friends and, unfortunately, gave Amynah lots of I-told-you-so opportunities when we got to the park and immediately drove into a cloud of dust kicked up on the park’s dirt roads. Amynah is not so saintly a person to rise above an invitation to smirk as tempting as that.

Anyway, the temperatures were scorching. Searing, even. The sun was blinding. Small insects were flinging themselves onto my car for the sweet relief that oblivion would bring from the heat. It was breathtaking. Let not my pampered, Northern-bred temperature tolerances fool you: our hiking companions are natives of Tehran (today’s projected high, according to the BBC: 35 degrees Celsius) and they said that the heat was clearly the cruel jest of a malevolent and wrathful god (I may be paraphrasing slightly).

On arrival Sana was thrilled by the landscape and the rocks – she immediately added to my load of camera, binoculors, water bottles, diapers, spare clothes and Inara with several handfuls of mineral specimens. She also made a bee-line straight up one of the larger monoliths, while Amynah and I struggled to keep pace. Clearly, I have done an inadequate job explaining gravity’s universal dominion to her.
In any case, that one climb, 15 minutes total, was enough to knock all of us out. We found a clump of trees that had themselves taken shelter behind some boulders, and hid in their shadows for the next 30 minutes while we waited for the visions and dizziness to pass. We then walked back to the car, even then managing to get slightly lost as we were disoriented by the unrelenting onslaught from the idiot fire beast in the sky.

Ramin and Atefeh along with proof that no, I did not forget Inara.
I will allow that the rocks and surrounding landscape were beautiful, and the company – Ramin and Atefeh – were gracious, especially as they allowed us a cool-down period in their apartment (promptly trashed by Inara) and then treated us to the best Iranian food we’ve had since leaving Montreal. But still, let it be resolved that I shall not stray any further than fifty feet from an air conditioner until November.

Such was the heat that when we took our break, I deliberately sat beneath this spiderweb in order that I could benefit from a few filaments more of shade.