Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ratatouille: A Second Viewing

I just watched the Pixar film Ratatouille on DVD, and I'm extremely glad I did. When I saw it in theaters on opening day, I somehow found it remarkably inconsistent. I thought the middle dragged considerably, and that some of the voice acting was really off. I loved parts of it, especially the last thirty minutes or so, but the rest I found to be of scattered quality. Overall, I liked the short Lifted that aired before the film more than the film itself.

However, I had a feeling that I would like Ratatouille way more the second time I watched it, and I was right. I adored the movie this time around. I can't explain it. Maybe it was because the part I thought dragged in theaters wasn't as magnified and didn't feel as long on a small screen, or maybe I'm a little older and wiser. Whatever the case, it was fantastic this time; the voice acting didn't bother me at all, and the pacing and quality level felt totally consistent. Great, great movie.

Also, if you haven't yet, make sure to check out the DVD, which has the aforementioned short Lifted (my hands-down favorite short Pixar has done) and the Academy Award winning short Your Friend The Rat, which is zany and beautiful to watch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Trial: Day 4 (May 8th)

Day 4

Super quick note here. Rereading my notes, I see that I mention that the defense lawyer was bad at making the criminologist look like she was incompetent. Um, I'm not sure why I wrote that, but there were definitely things he brought up that made her look not thorough at all, and really not particularly great at her job. Maybe I was distracted by how pretty she was. :)


Now THIS was a day in court. Things got very testy, we actually saw some evidence presented as opposed to shaky testimony, and we finally saw a picture of the crime. The day began with the other neighbors of the apartment in question, who were a Spanish-speaking only couple. They both presented relatively dull testimony, but the interesting thing was the interpreter. The interpreter was translating as the counsel was speaking, which was odd and disjointing; I don't want to think about how hard that must have been for the court reporter. From the scattered Spanish I know, the translation seemed to be dead on.

We also had a crime lab technician in today, specifically the one that analyzed the scene. A couple of things to note about her. She was incredibly pretty, almost overwhelmingly so compared to what you might expect from a criminal scientist. She's very young, and even though she has a good amount of experience (about fifty crime scenes), it did seem clear that she hasn't become as much of an expert in crime scenes as she will likely become (for example, she didn't feel comfortable talking about blood spatter; she'd only taken one class in it for her masters). Finally, her name is Michelle Madrid. Again, I can't make this stuff up; she sounds like she should be a hard boiled detective.

Anyways, as part of her testimony we got to see an actual picture of the deceased. Needless to say, it was horrifying. I consider myself to have a strong stomach when I hear about or even see disturbing things, but this was so raw and brutal, and the corpse was so frightening looking and mangled, that I definitely felt a bit queasy. Everyone was squirming in their seats at the picture, and there were some audible gasps. The thing that frightened me the most about the picture was the way her head was turned at a bizarre angle. I can't explain it, but when a head is upside down or turned in an odd way, I get freaked out. I still have occasional nightmares about the movie Ringu, where at the end when the girl comes out of the TV her head is attached to her neck but is literally turned upside down; I was beside myself during that scene.

Anyhow, Michelle Madrid was testifying pretty much all day. She was there from 11 to 4:30 (about two hours of that time was taken up with breaks). Our defendant's lawyer attempted to make her sound like she had been mildly incompetent at her job, but it wasn't working at all, and in fact, in one of the great moments of the trial so far, the judge started cracking up at his line of questioning and seemed to be waiting for an objection so he could ridicule the lawyer at asking her things that were clearly outside of her line of expertise.

The moment in question came when she was asked about a piece of toilet paper that was found next to the door knob, and she was asked, in a series of questions, if one would normally use toilet paper to open a door and for what other purposes it might be used. The judge pointed out that she was likely not an expert on toilet paper and asked the defense to go down a different path of questioning; this made the court erupt in laughter. Another similar moment was when there was a tangle over the phrase "anything's possible" which was asked by the prosecution. As the judge pointed out, anything is indeed possible, and since no one was there to actually witness the crime, it was ridiculous to ask her to speculate like this. The judge berated the prosecution a little bit this time, and we all cracked up again. Ah, court humor.

This was the most interesting day so far, and on Monday, the coroner comes in. Hoo boy.

Random Notes

Today, we had a bizarre moment where our defendant's defense lawyer was uncertain as to which defendant he had referred to in a question. The court reporter apparently messed this up in her transcript, since the judge couldn't read what she had written, but our jury (and I mean the jury I'm in, not the other jury) all leaped in and pointed out which defendant he had said. Way to go, us!

Michelle the crime lab technician was the only person so far on the stand to address the jury directly i.e. look at us as opposed to looking at the lawyers when answering. Kind of odd, but a nice change of pace.

Our defendant's defense lawyer seemed really tired today; his voice was strained and he made uncharacteristic mistakes like forgetting who he had referred to earlier.

The funniest thing to me so far has been how the defense and the prosecution are remarkably friendly with and helpful to each other. They refer to each other by first name, they occasionally make side comments to each other, and today in particular, there was a problem where one side needed some kind of pointer to show something on the screen, and the other side gave them a laser pointer! Clearly, the defense people are public defenders; there's no way prosecutors and defense lawyers would be this chummy normally.

That projector I keep mentioning? Today they tried to auto-focus pictures, and when it did, they were still really fuzzy. One of the jurors pointed out that the lens was dirty, which might be causing the problem. As I walked out for lunch, I checked, and indeed, it's filthy! You'd think they'd clean that thing once in a while.

I had some courthouse coffee today during the break, and oh my lord, was that stuff strong! Strong and disgusting. Now I know why on Law and Order and Homicide and all those shows, they complain about the coffee. Man...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Trial: Day 3 (May 7th)

Day 3

I want to note here that my assumption about the defense attorneys in the case is almost certainly wrong, even though as public defenders, they both work in the same office. It's interesting, though, that I made this assumption, and that I still can't guarantee that it's not true. I think it's more a matter of not only two very different styles, but also the public defender for the other defendant, i.e. not our defendant, having virtually no chance of proving his client innocent.

Today it got quite testy in the courtroom. One of the defense attorneys (actually the one representing the defendant we have to concern ourselves with) is ridiculously detailed with his questions; I have a feeling that what's really going on is that the two defense attorneys have collaborated on the questions they want to ask, and that the lawyer I mentioned earlier gets stuck with all the boring, detail questions. I'm guessing this is the case because our attorney is asking questions that don't really pertain at all to his client, but to the other client. The only other reason he could be doing it is to make the defendant's testimony seem inconsistent, which he is succeeding at but because there doesn't seem to be any ill intent, I accept it much more as faulty memory from a while ago than intentional lying under oath.

What's funny is that virtually every witness has gotten angry at our defense attorney for "twisting their words." Today it got to the point where the prosecutor objected on the very shaky grounds that the defense was "badgering" the witness (all he was doing was asking the witness about specifics in her preliminary testimony), and the judge smirked at the objection. Before the judge could say anything, our defendant's defense lawyer, who had been getting some verbal abuse from the witness who was getting annoyed with the questioning, offhandedly commented that it was really badgering the attorney, and the whole courthouse erupted in laughter. Also in a quick note, as soon as the other defense attorney started his line of questioning, which took approximately an eighth of the time it took the other attorney, the witness seemed to become much more relaxed, even though the other attorney was asking about the same events.

An interesting moment today was that we actually got to hear the full 911 call that brought the police to the scene. The actual call didn't sound that intense, but it made the witness on the stand, who had been very composed the whole time, break down in tears while listening to it. We also got to hear police testimony for the first time, from one of the officers (who is now a detective) who arrived on the scene first. It was actually fascinating to hear a testimony from a professional. He was calm and very honest about things he wasn't certain about. Definitely a change of pace.

This trial is going to be pretty dull until we get to the actual evidence, which at least for our defendant, is going to be absolutely critical in determining his innocence or guilt.

Random Notes

The other jury, which as far as I can tell doesn't include anyone under 35, had a number of people falling asleep off and on today, including the woman I mentioned yesterday. THIS is the jury you want to have deciding if a defendant was guilty of first degree murder?! To be honest, we should probably switch defendants. However, in a way, my jury likely has the harder decision to make, since the concept of aiding and abetting is relatively complex. Another thing about the other jury is that I see almost none of them taking notes, while most of the people in my jury take copious notes.

I mentioned the projector from yesterday being out of focus. It was used again today, and it was still out of focus, but the prosecutor adjusted it for less than ten seconds, and guess what? You could actually see what she was talking about! Incredible.

We got to look at the official transcript of the 911 call while it was being played. On the first page, the following was written: "Please hold while we redirect your call. Enjoy the music while you are on hold." I couldn't make this up if I wanted to. Unbelievable.

One of the prosecutors (I'm assuming the assistant DA) keeps giving me bizarre, intense looks. I wouldn't describe them as good or bad looks, just intense ones. She's being doing this since the first day I returned for jury selection, when we passed in a hallway. I have no idea what's going on, but it doesn't exactly make me uncomfortable, just confused.

The foreman was dressed in all blue today, as in blue suit, blue pants and blue tie. He actually looked incredibly stylish; not many people could pull that off. Apparently, foremen make a lot of money; he's been dressed in a different suit every day, and they've all looked pretty expensive.

No official person in the court, especially the judge, covers their mouth when yawning. Apparently, yawning out loud in a court while someone is talking is not it is in pretty much every other social situation I can think of.

The court reporters had to swap today in the middle of questioning. While they were swapping, and therefore anything said was off the record, the two started to crack jokes with the jury and be generally lighthearted. It was actually very endearing, but quite bizarre; we effectively went from talking about the exact color of blood splatters on a sweatshirt to self-deprecating jokes about court reporting in the span of two or three seconds.

There was a funny incident in the very beginning of the day. One of the jurors in the other jury from mine, who was wearing dress pants and ratty white sneakers with no socks the first day I saw her (believe me, it wasn't a quirky look; more like plain awful), was sitting in the box with what sounded like a radio playing. The judge was clearly annoyed and trying to figure out what was going on. It turned out her cell phone was turned off but still somehow playing music from sort of mp3 player in it. One of my favorite jurors in my group, who doesn't speak often but when she does cracks me up every time (when questioned about a statement she made in her questionaire during jury selection, she responded that she had had an Orwellian moment and would indeed be able to trust police officers; I was uncontrollably smirking), commented under her breath that it was probably "one of those ridiculous, stupid iPhones." Indeed, it turned out to be exactly that, and the security guard ended up having to confiscate it and "take it around back." Apparently, you can't remove the iPhone's back cover to get to the battery and shut it off in case of something like this. So now I have yet another reason to not pick up an iPhone (this is in addition to the fact that I hate how it feels on your ear when you actually use it as a phone, that it seems to randomly decide when to show you that you get texts, and that virtually none of the applications I've tried on it work all that well, including the internet).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Trial: Day 2 (May 6th)

Day 2

This felt like the first real day of the trial somehow, although it was still quite dull. We haven't gotten to the intense stuff yet. The thing that's very difficult about this case is that there were absolutely no eyewitnesses, which makes the prosecution's case pretty damn tough. What the prosecution has been doing is calling in "witnesses" that only barely heard or saw anything. Also, the testimonies have been VERY different from each other. The strangest thing is that the people living RIGHT NEXT to where the crime took place barely heard anything, while someone living across the courtyard heard screams and a thump.

The mother of the victim was called to testify today, and her testimony was one of the saddest things I've ever heard, both as a portrait of a pretty sad life and her sorrow over her dead daughter. I'll tell ya, if I ever become a dramatic writer of any kind, this experience is going to help me immeasurably in terms of understanding human emotions.

Also, today an amazing thing happened. A witness they had called yesterday was being asked questions from a defense attorney about her testimony from the preliminary hearing compared to her testimony yesterday. To call him thorough is an understatement, but by going through page after page of her previous testimony (this process seemed like it lasted over half an hour), he completely tore apart her credibility, at least to me. She got unbelievably testy as he was doing it, to the point where I was surprised the attorney didn't treat her as hostile. But it did seem, at least at times, like she had been flat out making things up or just saying things to say them. She clearly doesn't have the greatest respect for law enforcement and for the judicial system, but still. She didn't exactly help the prosecution today, I'll put it that way.

So overall, a relatively dull day, but an interesting one nonetheless.

Random Notes

There is one HUGE disadvantage to being a defense lawyer. You present your case last and question the witnesses last (or get a rebuttal last). This almost always ends up getting interrupted by needing to take a break of some kind. So your line of questioning almost always gets interrupted in mid-stride. In some ways, I guess this is good because you have a lot of time to revise your line of questioning, but say you get into a rhythm and it gets broken suddenly by needing to take lunch for an hour and a half. Not good.

Today a juror was falling asleep during testimony. She's an older Asian woman, and for the life of me, I don't understand why they picked her. She doesn't talk to anyone when we're outside of the courtroom, and the couple of times I've heard her speak it sounds like she doesn't speak English very well. Shows you the randomness of the system.

I still can't figure out the dress code. I went home today for lunch and changed into more comfortable clothing (I've been wearing a blazer these past couple of days) and no one batted an eye. I'm going to risk jeans tomorrow and see what happens. I doubt anyone will care.

There was a projector in the room today, and it was only used once, to show a picture of the victim. All well and good, except that the projector was completely out of focus! Why they didn't try to fix it, which would have taken about ten seconds, is beyond me. Someone was asked to identify if the picture displayed was the victim, and as they said yes, I was having trouble telling it was a person! Craziness.

There was also a tape that was played today of the first few seconds of a 911 call to CHP. When the call was first placed, the caller was put on hold for about fifteen seconds, and music started up. What did they play while the caller was on hold? Bone Thugs N Harmony. Crossroads. Everyone, including the judge, was trying to not crack up while this was heard.

A candidate for cutest animal ever

Say hello to the pygmy jerboa:


This is, well, just...


As one person puts it in the comments, Palin, the ball's in your court now.

(warning: graphic picture at the beginning)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Trial: Day 1 (May 5th)

As promised, here is the first of I believe thirteen installments of the day by day happenings of the court. I'm only going to edit this stuff for clarity/misspellings, but I want to keep my daily impressions as intact as possible.

Day 1

The main activity of the first day of the trial...sitting around doing nothing. Seriously. The inefficiency of the judicial system was on prime display today. The judge even apologized for it at one point. There are two juries for this case, given the two different defendants, and sometimes one jury has to sit outside of the courtroom while information pertaining to only one defendant is presented. I actually have a feeling that we, since we are the jury that has to decide whether someone aided and abetted in the crime, will be outside of the courtroom more than the other jury. But not so today.

What happened was that the two defense lawyers in the case had to make separate opening statements to the appropriate jury, so one jury had to sit outside while the other jury heard the opening statement pertaining to their defendant. My jury had to sit outside first. We were waiting for probably twenty minutes or so, and were then called in to listen to our opening statements. The first, from the prosecutor, was extremely intense and passionate, but sounded like they didn't have a lot of evidence regarding the defendant we have to reach a verdict on. It lasted about twenty five minutes. We then had to break for lunch before the defense lawyer had his opening statement, and were told to come back fifteen minutes later than usual(1:45) due to a sentencing for a separate trial. We came back...and then waited until close to 2:15; the sentencing took a lot longer than expected.

We then went back in and listened to the defense lawyer's opening statement, which lasted, and i'm not kidding here, for close to forty-five minutes. It was interminably long, but in the end, he made a rather amazing, if incredibly long winded, summary of the case and was rather convincing in terms of showing that his client was innocent. But of course, that doesn't mean anything right now; the evidence needs to come out.

Now remember, the other jury was waiting outside this whole time, and when you include the extra half hour we were all waiting for the sentencing to end, we are talking about over an hour of just sitting and doing nothing; at least they had a nice view of the city from the huge, beautiful window in the hallway of the courthouse. But man, what a crazy deal.

The other example of inefficiency came from the first person to testify, who was an eye or at least earwitness to the crime. It was all going very well and was straightforward until she was asked questions from the defense lawyers. They were asking her to remember specific details...from three years ago. She clearly had tried to put the whole thing behind her, and I don't blame her. But the line of questions, and the nature of the questions and her answers, threw her memory of the night into serious question. I was amazed to see how quickly I could go from trusting someone's memory to not being sure at all. I know she's not trying to be malicious or trying to lie, but I'm not sure what to think. Seriously, though, consider this situation. This crime was committed three years ago, and we're only now putting it to trial?! How could someone remember minute details about something as far back as that unless they had been taking notes? Amazing.

So my current status: Other defendant: really guilty. My defendant: innocent. However, this doesn't mean anything after only the first day. We shall see.

Random Notes:

The court reporters look like a mother/daughter duo. Both blonde, white, similar height, similar facial features. However, one is rail thin, wears suits and very little makeup. The other is buxom, wears colorful clothing and wears tons of makeup (I'm making her sound like she looks weird, but she's actually gorgeous). I'll let you guess which one is which.

The judge was falling asleep a little bit at points during the trial. I don't blame him. He basically has to sit there doing nothing.

I somehow got out of paying the full amount for parking; I forgot to validate my ticket, and when I only had three dollars instead of the 7.50 I needed, the person only said "You're coming back, right?" I said yes, not truthfully (I wasn't going to the same lot after lunch) and she let me through! I felt guilty and went back to pay the difference after lunch. But still...

Remember how I kinda made fun of how you're only in the courtroom for an hour and a half? After today, I see the reason why. It's exhausting stuff, listening to testimony, especially about this kind of subject matter. However, what is amazing is how easy it is, at least for me, to notice discrepancies in testimony.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Trial: A Summary

Well, it is finally over. For those of you that don't know, I have been a juror on a criminal trial for the past month (well, the trial was three weeks, but the jury selection process took a week). For one month, I have had to keep quiet about the nature of the case, but now that we have reached a verdict, and it has been entered into record, I can talk all about it. And talk about it I will! More than you might think.

To be as brief as possible, we were dealing with a murder case. And not just a murder case, but murder AND torture; now you can understand why it took a week to choose a jury. There were also two defendants and two juries; one was charged with the actual crime, while the other (our defendant) was charged with aiding and abetting the first defendant. It was exhausting, tedious, highly disturbing (I will never forget the pictures of the victim as long as I live), and ultimately, extremely satisfying.

Our jury was fantastic; we had all paid a lot of attention, and even though we had our verdict more or less decided on within ten minutes of entering the jury deliberation room (innocent, by the way), we wanted to make sure, to the point where we spent an hour and a half creating a worst-case scenario and walking through it step-by-step, and we listened for an hour to a tape of our defendant talking to the detectives on the case about the truth, to make sure he was really telling the truth.

In the end, the case against our defendant was extremely weak; there was virtually no reliable evidence, other than his own testimony, to even place him at the scene of the crime (there was evidence he was at the apartment building where it happened, however), much less aid the other defendant. It wasn't a hard choice. The other defendant, on the other hand, was clearly guilty, and to be subjective for a moment here, is a monster. The other jury actually found him guilty of first-degree murder AND torture, which seems to be a huge stretch based on the evidence. However, it was their verdict, and it means the other defendant is up for the death penalty! Apparently, both juries came to their conclusions within a day.

So why did I say in the beginning of this post that I would talk about this case more than you might expect? Well, for every day of the trial, I took down detailed personal notes after I got home. They are a combination of discussing the trial day-by-day and reflecting on the oddities and just general doings of the court system and the courthouse in particular. Starting on either Monday or Tuesday of next week, I will be posting one every weekday for the next two weeks, and hopefully they will be both entertaining and an interesting look into the judicial system.

I will have full notes from this last day at the very end, but I just wanted to say in this post how much respect I have for the lawyers in this case. Both the prosecution and the defense did unbelievable jobs, especially the defense. Our defense attorney, who is a public defender, did an extraordinary amount of meticulous research and preparation, and defended his client as well as a much better paid lawyer would have. There was an enormous amount of care and thought put into this case, which at the end of the day was about a crime that was horrific but not high-profile at all. But it matters profoundly to certain people, like the victim's family, and that's what's important.

I can now say with confidence that if something were to happen to me or someone I know, and enough evidence was collected and it got brought to trial, that the matter would be dealt with in as much detail and care as possible. That's a good feeling to have, and it's even better with the added fact that there would be the potential to have a jury like ours, one that cared enough to have general agreement right away about the verdict, but that still took the time to go over the case on our own terms, and to feel truly confident in our decision.

Our judicial system may be incredibly inefficient, but I have an enormous amount of respect for it now, much more than I think I ever would have if I had never been on a jury. Twelve random people got together and served justice. In this case, we clearly did the right thing, and I can't tell you how much pride I have in knowing that this was a job well done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown Review

This is not a fair review. Why, you may ask? Because in reviewing this album, I am basing its worth mostly on how it compares to its predecessor, American Idiot. I know that every piece of art needs to be judged on its own merits, but 21st Century Breakdown (21CB) is the same style of album as American Idiot (AI), has been called a spiritual successor to AI by the band, and has been compared to AI by pretty much every major reviewer I've read. So, with all of that out of the way, how does 21CB compare to AI, which for my money is one of the best rock albums ever released?

It sucks. Hard.

Yes, unlike almost every major reviewer out there, I heavily dislike this album, even on its own terms. Both the music and lyrics are a huge step backwards from AI, and the music sounds noisy and derivative. I have a feeling this album might work much better live, where the material could be played alongside older/better material, but as a studio album, the songs sound so similar that I didn't even notice at times when one song had transitioned into the next. Part of the power of AI was that even though it was a theme album, the individual songs were incredibly strong on it, enough to make you want to listen to them again and again. With 21CB, I can honestly remember three songs from the album, and for some odd reason, they all come near the end.

Another major difference between 21CB and AI is the context surrounding their release dates. AI was released at a volatile time in American history, and was a focused, direct assault on Bush and his administration; as a result, it had a vitality and purpose that very few albums have. 21CB completely lacks that sense of focus, and suffers mightily as a result. The energy here is all over the place, and the songs sound noisy and over the top for no particular reason. It reminds me of an action film where the camera cuts to a new shot every two seconds, trying to create the illusion of complicated filmmaking when in actuality the filmmakers have nothing of substance and so need to mask it with pointless, often incomprehensible action.

To top all of this off, the lyrics on 21CB are pretty much forgettable. AI had shockingly great lyrics, especially for Green Day. The singles off of AI, like Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Wake Me Up When September Ends, and American Idiot, were like the best anthems; catchy and with powerful lyrics that you could belt out at the top of your lungs and really feel like you were saying something of substance. Here, they have lyrics like the chorus to Horseshoes and Handgrenades: "Almost only really counts in horseshoes and handgrenades." What the $%#* does that mean?!

The songs I like from 21CB are The Static Age, 21 Guns, and Restless Heart Syndrome. For whatever reason, these leap out at me much more than the other songs on the album do; they feel more worked on and polished, and more direct than the other songs. They're not at the level of AI, but they're solid songs. They are also all at the end of the album, or the "third act," (eye roll) which strikes me as interesting; maybe Green Day worked harder on those or something.

The other thing I'm sorely disappointed with is that there are no mini-operas, like the two that were on AI. I love those compositions, as much for their audaciousness as for their musical quality. Were they completely successful? No, not at all; they dragged quite a bit (nine minutes will tend to do that to almost any rock song) and had parts that were less interesting than some of the other songs surrounding them, but they were full of energy, passion, and it felt like Green Day were really stretching their limits and having fun. In other words, damn good rock n roll. 21CB has nothing like that, unless you count the arbitrary "acts" that the album is divided into, which don't seem to have any cohesion.

In the end, 21CB reminds me of why I stopped listening to Green Day after a while, and why AI was so stunning to me when it came out. Green Day have always had lots of verve, are actually pretty good musicians, and write the occasional decent song, but usually lack the maturity and focus needed to really make a good/listenable album. AI was, out of nowhere, both extremely good, listenable, AND a total departure from anything Green Day had done. 21CB, on the other hand, is mediocre, mildly listenable, and sounds like a retread into some of their less interesting earlier work. I guess I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed. AI showed an enormous amount of promise, and it gives me hope that Green Day can put out something of its quality level again. 21CB, however, is not that.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quickly checking in

I know it's been forever, but the jury I'm on has been overwhelming, and I'm nervous to post anything of substance while the trial is going on. I promise I'll have plenty to post and for you to read when the trial is over, which will likely be sometime this week. Until then, here's an absolutely hysterical, yet kinda sad, report about a bodybuilding competition in Belgium.

Event canceled after competitors flee

BRUSSELS -- The Belgian bodybuilding championship has been canceled after doping officials showed up and all the competitors fled.

A doping official says bodybuilders just grabbed their gear and ran off when he came into the room.

"I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see anything like it again," doping official Hans Cooman said Monday.

Twenty bodybuilders were entered in the weekend competition.

Cooman says the sport has a history of doping "and this incident didn't do its reputation any good."

During testing of bodybuilding events last year, doping authorities of northern Belgium's Flanders region found that three-quarters of the competitors tested positive.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Job Interview

One of the best moments from Mr. Show, which had many great moments. Thanks to List of the Day for the reminder.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Utterly exhausted

Well, I didn't exactly have the most relaxing weekend of all time. In fact, I was literally doing something almost every minute of the weekend. However, it was all good stuff; I went to two get-togethers on Saturday, one family, one friends. I ran in a 10K (6.2 miles) on Sunday at 8 in the morning (we left the house at 6:30) and set a personal record by almost ten minutes! And then I had to go over to my grandfather's place and move a table, which was not too much fun considering how worn I was from the race. And now here I sit at work for the last time for a couple of weeks, since I'm on jury duty. Ugh...

I am so tired right now that when I stand up, I can feel the exhaustion in the back of my throat. It's the weirdest feeling, but my brain communicates it as tiredness. I've asked a couple of people about this, and they all know what I'm talking about with the back of the throat thing. Bizarre stuff, man... :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Barack Obama's First 100 Days...on Facebook

This has been linked to by a bunch of people, and there's a good reason; it's damn good. My favorite part is the online quizzes that Joe Biden takes, but it's all great. Make sure to actually visit the tinyurl that Cheney sends Obama.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm a juror!

Well, to my semi-surprise, I am actually going to be a juror in a criminal trial! I am Juror #12 (I could be the twelfth angry man). So, I'm not sure how much I'm going to be updating this blog during the trial; obviously, I can't say a thing about the trial until it's all over. The trial should last two weeks, starting next Tuesday. What I'm thinking of doing is keeping personal notes on my computer at home after each day, in the style of blog entries, and not posting them in public until the trial is over. Obviously, I can still post about random things, but the trial proceedings will last all day, and I'll likely be too tired to actively post every day. But we shall see.

By the way, the court system has it right in terms of hours. The day starts at 10:30, breaks at noon for an HOUR AND A HALF lunch, resumes at 1:30, breaks again at 3 for fifteen minutes, resumes at 3:15, and then the day ends at 4:30. In other words, you are never in the courtroom for longer than an hour and a half at a time. Pretty amazing.