They're Jerking my Chain...

Yanking my chain...

We're Messing With You, WingBoy!

No April vacation for me this year.

I was scheduled for jury duty earlier this month, but on Thursday prior to service (and just before the Federal Gubbermint nearly ground to a halt) I was notified "not to report." I still had to check in each Friday for the rest of the month to learn if I was swimming in that jury pool.

Late last week, with the end of April looming on the horizon, I checked in at the court website and found this notification:

Status: Completed
Your jury service is concluded.
The court is grateful for your participation in the administration of justice.


That was my vacation they pulled out from under me. Long days with 2-hour courthouse lunches, a chance to meet fascinating people and perhaps convict them, and, most important ...and absolutely irreproachably valid reason to not think about work at all. No piles of e-mail taunting me with things undone. No jammed printers. No desks to crawl under looking for elusive data jacks.

Just joyous impressment into government service. I secretly hoped I'd be sequestered.

Instead, I'm done. I believe they never intended to use me. I think Congress invented the whole government shutdown thing so the Scranton courthouse wouldn't stink of chicken wings after lunch each day.

Am I pee-ohed??


From the Sky - Part X

From the Sky - Part X

By James M. O'Meara, © 2011

Need to catch up on From the Sky? Visit the From The Sky page today...

Minestra Maritata

Wedding Dress...

They didn't warm up to Joe right away, my aunts. It took a while. They were never unkind or cold to him. They were instead polite. Exceedingly so, and it grated badly on my nerves. Their forced, plastic smiles and benign obligatory conversations with my fiancé were proper in every way, but it was clear they were simply tolerating him out of respect for my father.

Out of respect for my father.

The 2011 Blue-Wet Game...

My brother the diehard...

My brother the diehard...

I have very few personal traditions. The one I never miss is the annual Penn State Blue-White game. If I can walk, crawl or be air-lifted in I'm attending. In 2002, feeling like crap and just a few days before ending up in emergency surgery, there I was with my son James and nephew Tyler watching the game. We park a mile and a half from the stadium, and enjoy a day of football and walking through State College

A few years ago, my brother Bill and the boys joined me in the stands for a rain-shortened game. When they pulled the team early, we screamed "Wimps! Wimps!" from the sidelines. (Yes, we knew pulling the team was the right thing to do for safety's sake ...but we were there, soaked to the skin, and they were leaving. We just wanted to beat our chests a bit.)

This year, it was just Bill and I. The boys (young married men, now) couldn't make it. The weather was horrific. We were drenched to the bone. I learned that "water resistant" means "Yer gettin' wet, buddy."

Only 7000 of my closest friends were on hand...

Only 7000 of my closest friends were on hand...

We were way up in the stands where we could see the whole field. We stood the entire time. During one massive downpour, a stadium employees gave us an odd look when Bill said (in his best 'Carl Spackler' voice): "...I don't think the heavy stuff's gonna come down for quite a while."

The Watchmaker

Albert Einstein...
Albert Einstein...

About a week before the unprecedented disasters began unfolding in Japan, I finally got around to updating the little "This and That" blurb on the right side of my webpage. I chose a quote from Albert Einstein, a personal hero of mine. While he may have been speaking primarily of atomic bombs, the message is still relevant: We are creating technology which we are not wise enough or mature enough to use wisely.

We forget that we are not that far removed from the caves.

We forget that we are not the masters of our world, we are guests and we exist here at the pleasure of the host, our Earth.

Over the course of human history, our planet has from time to time effortlessly wiped whole human cultures from its surface. Altantis. Pompeii. How many others, I wonder? How many times have humans found themselves on the wrong side of Mother Earth's temper?

But now, perhaps for the first time, we have a trump card in the deck of disasters. We have cracked the power of the atom, and we are not ready for the responsibility that comes with it. As evidence, witness the continuing folly of building reactors in fault zones. We may build reactors we think can handle anything the planet throws at them, but it's the unexpected that trips us up. In Japan, the reactors shut down as they were supposed to when the earthquake struck. But the ensuing tsunami damaged the cooling systems, and now a nuclear disaster is unfolding as well. The reactors were built in a fault zone, within the potential reach of a tsunami.

Folly, thy name is mankind.


Rejected by the judicial system...


I was recently notified I've been summoned for jury duty in the US District Court for the month of April.

The last time I was summoned I was ultimately deemed "disqualified" because I was deaf.

I'm still deaf... but deaf with a difference: Bilateral cochlear implants. I made the court aware of my implants. The reaction? Well, this time I am swimming in the jury pool.

How do I feel about it?

Like another closed chapter in my life has been opened again.

Yes, jury duty can be an inconvenience. But it is an essential part of our justice system. It is a duty that pales compared to the sacrifices of those who risk their lives day in and day out, at home and abroad, to protect and serve and assure our way of life.

And also, for a guy who regularly eats at his desk, a "courthouse lunch hour" is practically a vacation.

I just hope my fellow jurors won't mind the aroma of chicken wing sauce after lunch.

* * *

OK...on to the next project...

...but I'm not sure what that is!

What I have to guard against is a little streak of laziness when I finish a project, and there's a temptation to kick back a bit after finishing Patience.

But I think I will keep at it. I'll probably concentrate on From the Sky for a bit. It's much closer to completion than No Cognitive Defect. I also have numerous early drafts of stories to rewrite for submission. In short, after all these years, I finally have enough "Schtuff" to start sending multiple things out while I work on new material. I think I'm the kind of person that needs a rhythm of some type when they work.

Meantime... there's snow-a-coming. Again. I can't wait for this winter to end. I may try and dispel it with a ritual of spring (grilling on the deck). I'll offer burnt hot dogs and dried-out burgers to the gods of weather. --Jimbo

Is Dynamo Dreaming Chicken Wing Dreams for 2011?

Dynamic Dynamo at 11:50 PM EST New Year's Eve 2010...

Dynamic Dynamo at 11:50 PM EST New Year's Eve 2010...

This is solely the result of eating two giant plates of linguini with clam sauce and a big bowl of cold shrimp with cocktail sauce very late on New Year's Eve.

In the interest of full disclosure, maybe I had a wee bit of rum punch on an empty stomach beforehand. Just a glass. Okay, a big glass. Three of them.

I did rally in time to greet the New Year, then had a steamed clam or two as my first meal in 2011. Maybe more than two or three. Okay, it was a couple dozen. With lots of butter.

(Editor's note: linguini, shrimp, rum punch and steamed clams do interesting things to your innards at 4AM. I think it was the butter. I'll cut back on that next year.)

* * *


No Cognitive Defect XVI

No Cognitive Defect - Part XVI

By James M. O'Meara, © 2010

(Need to catch up on NCD,? Just click here!)

First Date...

Wilson started their meal with wild mushroom soup and a quail egg salad. The wild mushrooms and quail eggs were from a specialty grocer two blocks down. The soup had a garnish of paper-thin prosciutto in the center. It was ready when Erica arrived. After the soup, she insisted on helping so they worked together on the salad. They started with the quail eggs. They quickly soft-boiled them, and he showed Erica how to carefully open them with a serrated knife and scoop out the contents into a bowl with a small melon baller. She prepped the romaine lettuce while he added vinegar and sea salt to the quail eggs and whisked it together for a simple dressing, which Erica drizzled over the bed of romaine on their salad plates. The meal's main attraction was a cherry-roasted rack of lamb. The lamb was already coated with a thick sauce made of pulped pitted cherries, some rosemary, salt and pepper, a little brown sugar and a dash of pineapple juice. He put it in the oven to roast while they did some of the dishes together. She washed, he dried. That arrangement would reverse by necessity years later, but from the very beginning the two of them were joined at the hip in the kitchen. When the lamb was ready, he sliced their portions and made their plates, spooning out some mashed potatoes he'd made earlier and kept warm on the stove. They took their plates to the table and talked as they ate.

NCD House Cleaning and other niblets...

Since the election ended, I've been concentrating on fiction. It's hard to mope around feeling sorry for myself after losing when I'm completely immersed in the lives of the characters who have been waiting patiently for me to get back to work on them!

On that note...

I'm about to post the 16th segment of No Cognitive Defect. It struck me that I have to reorganize the NCD menus. NCD started out as a short story idea that popped into my head while I was out for a walk. But it became much more. I have to reorganize things a bit so that it's a bit less intimidating to readers. If I do it right, it's just a little "house cleaning" that won't mess up the reading experience.

Next... I'll be zipping off to Harrisburg on Wednesday, December 1 to participate in a Cochlear volunteer event. This is an area where I feel I can really "Make a Difference" (hey, that was a decent campaign slogan, wasn't it??).

Finally, I've really enjoyed watching my Nittany Lions post-election. They're a very young football team that will give opponents fits over the next two years. And, being a NEPA guy, I love a walk-on quarterback from Scranton getting the starting nod. Scranton! Where soap opera writers send characters to die!

"I'm off to Scranton, Gil!"

"See you soon, Marnie dearest."

Next episode, the phone rings.

"Gil. It's Dr. Biff. Marnie had an accident. She fell down a coal chute in Scranton. She didn't make it."

Yup. You gotta love the idea of a Scranton kid with a lot of moxie guiding the Nits. Go get'em, Matt McGloin...

* * *

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