Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jury duty and more...

I didn't post on Tuesday this week as I was called out to jury duty. I have been on call the whole month and was diligent in checking to see if I needed to go in. Of course, I forgot to check on Monday night so discovered on Tuesday am that I needed to go. It is about 60 miles away - US Federal Court. So Tuesday was a hugely chaotic day. Fortunately I had packed my lunch already so just threw everything in the car, including reading material, and took off. Sigh. Traffic was bad and I got lost looking for the parking garage and then trying to find the courthouse from the parking garage. I got there 90 mins late.

As a result, I was not selected to go to the courtroom as one of the first 75. I was in the 16 people left behind to be in the next group. This was both good and bad. Good because I could read. Bad because I had to listen to the handful of women who talked constantly. One of them asked the officer in charge of us about every 30 mins what was happening. They were very nice women. Just didn't have any entertainment and therefore talked. And complained and whined. Sigh

I got through 2.5 PLY magazines on Tuesday. At 5 pm, we were told we were going to have to stay late to finish up the jury selection. This was so that we didn't have to come in on Wednesday. At 5:10 pm, the courtroom called to say that court was recessed and we'd have to come in the next day. Darn! The women immediately wanted to know why things had changed, why the people in the courtroom were told to come at 9:15 am while we were asked to come at 8:30 am, and so on. Sigh

The way the process works is this: the first 75 people were questioned one by one to see if they could be allowed to serve on the jury. Once they were eliminated by the questioning, they could go home. So some of them were able to leave earlier in the day on Tuesday. The ones left at the end of the day (35 or so) had to come back in with us on Wed. We were the backup crowd. If the jury could not be selected from the 35, then they would call us in.

On Wed, I was more prepared and got up on time and got there almost on time. This time it was traffic and rain that delayed me. I was there about 10 mins late. We were put in a little room this time with hard wooden chairs. Not the nicer room with comfy chairs we were in on Tuesday. Darn! I got through another 1.5 PlY magazines before we were dismissed around 11:30 am. The jury had been selected.

We weren't allowed to bring electronics in. I thought about bringing knitting or a spindle but decided that catching up on PLY was a good thing. I am way behind on reading them. I should have taken a set of Post-It flags to mark articles that I wanted to refer back to. Oh well.

On to travel - this is a short post. Back in July, I went to Montpellier France for a business trip. I didn't have a lot of time to explore because I wanted to get back in time for my wedding anniversary. However, I did arrive early, on the morning flight from Paris. So I had a few hours on the day I arrived to wander around. Montpellier is a big university town but it also has a lot of lovely old architecture.
 Morning sunrise from my hotel room. There is a big roundabout outside which you can barely see. We were in the more modern part of town.
 This is the plaza in the old part of town. It is a pedestrian plaza. All those tents are owned by cafes. You sit outside and order coffee or lunch or a beer or even dinner and people-watch. It is a lovely place to hang out and people do hang out.
 Montpellier has a trolley system. We could have taken the trolley to the town center or walked - about 15 mins. We chose to walk. In the past, when I've been there and had to walk back in the heat of the afternoon, I've taken the trolley. But in this case, my work took me in the other direction and so we just walked here the first day and then for dinner on the other days. So walking was fine. Montpellier gets really hot in the summer.
 There is also a cute little tourist train. I haven't ridden this. People also bike all over town.

There is a carousel in the plaza also. Also a fountain which I did not photograph in its entirety. However, you can see it on the right here in front of the carousel.

A movie theater is also on the plaza. From the plaza, there are numerous narrow winding streets that wander off in different directions. These lead to smaller plazas where there are parks or cafes or both. There are also shops on the streets.
 We walked by this shop selling ballet shoes. Quite the window display!
 Looking into the shop you can see the boxes of ballet shoes in the back.
 This shop sold hats. I was tempted to buy one as I forgot mine. But I thought better of it as I have a couple of hats at home and I would have to carry this back.
 In the old part of town, cafes and restaurants are everywhere. Some are tucked into the buildings and don't look like much from the outside. These are the more expensive ones. There are many that flow onto the street also. You can see a bit of one of these here. They have some internal space but also have tables and umbrellas on the sidewalk or on a plaza. This photo is taken from a plaza looking into a street.
 Here's looking into another street. I think we ate dinner at the restaurant on the left on one evening.

Finally, we had a local colleague (relatively local - he is from Nice) who drove us to work and back every day. We stopped at a good bakery for a cheap coffee and pastry for breakfast. In the past, I used to stop at a bar/cafe for a coffee and a pastry but he said that now many French people go to these bakeries. The coffee and the pain au chocolat were excellent. He comes from a bread making family and told me that a bread baker will use less butter in a pain au chocolat and a pastry chef will use more. Pain au chocolat is the only breakfast I eat in France!
Well, the one morning, a dragonfly came and sat on my saucer. He/she was very persistent and didn't move so I took his/her picture. Not something I've encountered anywhere else!

That is all for today. Over and out!

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