Summer Travel Plans!

I’ve been blogging about serious stuff lately, so I thought I’d mix it up with some travel fun! I’ve got two big trips planned, one with my spouse and one for work, so I’m pretty excited.

Grand Canyon Road Trip
The first trip will be from June 10-20 with my husband. We’re taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon! I’m really hoping my brother and sister-in-law can drive out from Las Vegas to meet as at the Canyon; it’d be great to see them. But we’ll see. Either way, it will be an awesome trip! I’m really looking forward to doing some sight-seeing in the desert.

We are doing something very un-J-like (especially for two Js!): we are not booking hotels for every night ahead of time. We wanted to leave a little flexibility so that if we see something interesting and want to stop, we can do that without worrying that we won’t make it to our pre-booked hotel as planned. We are only pre-booking our hotel at the Canyon (in Williams, AZ, most likely) and the one night we plan to spend in Santa Fe. We are also spending a couple of nights with my spouse’s family: On the way there, we are spending one night with his cousins in Grand Island, NE, and on the way back, a night with his cousins in Denver. Other than those nights, we will just drive until we decide to stop for the night and sleep wherever we happen to find a motel. I’m a little worried about getting a skeevy motel that has bedbugs, but other than that I think it’ll be good. It’s nice to be a little spontaneous every once in awhile.

Our route to the Canyon:

Our route back from the Canyon:

Aside from visiting the Canyon, we plan to go to Lowell Observatory for some stargazing one night. It’s open to the public every evening! I’m really excited about that, and also to visit Santa Fe. I’ve never been there but have always wanted to go.  And between Albuquerque and Santa Fe there is the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, which we’ll be driving practically right by, so I think we’ll plan a stop there. Sounds really cool! The one thing I wish we could do that I don’t think we’ll get to is go to a powwow or something on one of the reservations down there, but I looked and I don’t think there are any happening when we will be passing through.


My second trip of the summer is to Australia for work. I advise students who want to attend Australian universities for a semester or year, but I’ve never been to Australia, so this trip will be very good. The main universities we work with are James Cook University in Cairns and Townsville, University of Wollongong, and University of Melbourne, so those are the schools I will be visiting.

First, however, I get to attend the Australia introduction (orientation/fun) run by our partner, AustraLearn. This takes place in Cairns and includes lots of fun and educational things as well as the general orientation program. The fun things include seeing an aboriginal performance, holding a koala and feeding kangaroos, snorkeling at the Great Barrier reef, and participating in a volunteer project. Sweet! After that, I fly to Townsville, visit the university there, then fly to Sydney. From there I take the train to visit U of Wollongong, return to Sydney, then fly to Melbourne to visit the U of Melbourne.

I have an extra day at the end to explore Melbourne on my own. I’m a bit torn about that, because if I skip the free day, I can get back in time for practice on Sunday with my Fest group (I’ll already be missing two weeks of practice!) but then again, how often will I go to Australia? Probably not much, so maybe I should just miss practice and take the extra day.

Toys, Consumerism and the Disappearance of Imaginative Play

Last night I had a chat with one of my very good friends who is about 4 months’ pregnant. Without my saying anything on the topic, she brought up the too-many-toys thing, so I recommended a book that I’ve been reading, Simplicity Parenting, to her. This might seem a bit strange, since I’m not a parent and not even pregnant yet, but a lot of these concepts are things I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I just recently found this book recently that really resonates with me, and I am happy to find out that my friend shares some of these feelings. As long as I’m not infertile or something, our kids should be close to the same age, and it will be good for our kids to have friends whose parents feel similarly about some of these issues, especially since I’m sure they’ll also have friends whose parents DON’T fee the same way, which will probably be hard for the kids to understand.

Anyway, here are some quote from the book about too-many-toys and some other things. (I would just blog my feelings, but a lot of them are perfectly described in the book, and using quotes is easier than re-articulating he same ideas in my own words.  )

As a society, however, we’ve signed on wholeheartedly to the notion that more, bigger, newer and faster all mean better. We’ve done so as a survival mechanism. It is a very basic, primitive drive (albeit with its own particularly manic, modern, Western spin). At its most basic level it is understandable, thought it no longer serves its original purpose, and we’ve taken it to the point where it actually threatens, rather than ensures, our survival. (p11)

Why simplify? Over the years, I’ve come to see how a child’s quirks or tendencies can be exacerbated by cumulative stress, I’ve seen how children can slide along the spectrum from quirk to disorder when they experience high levels of stress. If I had a bit chalkboard, I would write it as this formula: q + s = d; or: quirk plus stress equals disorder. (p24)

This echoes a book I read for my Complex Systems course, that talked about psychological disorders being basically this: a quirk or personality trait amplified into a disorder.

Children’s play [has become] less focused on activities, and more on the things involved, the toys themselves. (p57)


Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about TV. This isn’t going to be an anti-TV rant… as much as I’d like to claim the opposite, I enjoy watching TV. My husband and I have many shows that we like to watch together: House, MD, Deadliest Catch, Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Parks and Rec, The Big Bang Theory, Entourage, True Blood, and now Game of Thrones. Additionally, I like to watch Law & Order: SVU (and sometimes CI) and reruns of Star Trek. That sounds like quite a lot, but luckily the HBO shows (Entourage, True Blood, and Game of Thrones) are on during different seasons, so that cuts it down a little bit. In an average week, I’d say that there are probably 5-6 hours’ worth of shows on that we want to watch. That’s under an hour a day; not too bad. We also might watch a movie on the weekend.

The problem, however, is that we have the TV on MUCH more than an hour a day and for a movie on the weekend. Many days, especially in the winter, we have the TV on from the time I get home from work (5ish, or 6:30ish if we go to the gym) until we go to bed around 10 or 10:30. On the weekends, when we are home and in the house, it’s pretty much on all day unless we are working on a specific project. Most of that time, the TV is on just to have it on; we’re watching reruns or movies on TV. Many times, there is nothing on we really want to watch, but still we watch TV.

I often feel that I don’t have time to do all the things I want to do—read more, practice my flute, sew, etc. But really, if we limited our TV viewing to things we actually want to watch—new episodes that we haven’t seen or occasionally a movie—we’d have so much more time! There have been many times when we’re sitting around, watching nothing, really, and I think, why don’t we just turn off the TV and read, for God’s sake! And yet, we don’t.

When I’m home alone, I sometimes do turn it off and read or even just sit in silence (imagine!) but really I am as guilty as my spouse. Many times when I get home from work, I am tired and don’t want to do anything but sit on the couch and watch TV. Of course it’s preferable if there’s something I actually want to watch on, but usually that’s not the case. Even if there’s nothing on, I’ll watch something, just because I want to veg. And that’s not good.

More Thoughts on Jury Duty

I’ve been thinking more about my experience on jury duty. Yesterday, one of my colleagues asked me about it. I’m almost sure this colleague is an ISFP (in fact, I think she even confirmed this when we did the MBTI at work a few years ago). She was saying how she didn’t think she’d be good at jury duty because she’s not good at making decisions. This got me thinking; of the 12 jurors, there were 7 of us who never changed our minds (well, one of those 7 did at the very end, but he didn’t vacillate). The other 5 were really on the fence the whole time, and most of them changed their minds several times. I was thinking about all of our personality types, and I think probably most of us non-vacillators are probably Js, where as the vacillators probably were mostly Ps. I don’t think the divide was 100% J vs P, but I’d be willing to bet that was a big part of it.

Why did I volunteer for this??

I’ve been dreading this week, because I realized I had accidentally picked up TWO extra advising shifts this week. I have a tough enough time getting through one advising shift per week! But people needed coverage, and I hate not volunteering to help out if I can, so I did.

I also had a colleague visiting from Ireland on Monday. She’s super nice and I actually really enjoyed hanging out with her, but it’s still tiring. Not to mention, on Sunday she called me and, very last-minute, invited me to a gathering at the home of her friend she was staying with. Last minute invitations to social events are hard! Being social is difficult enough for me, but when I’m not expecting to have to do it and haven’t been able to gear myself up for it, it’s really difficult. Plus, I wasn’t going to know ANYONE there except for her, and I barely knew her. But I kind of felt like I had to go, so I did. And actually, it was fine. There were mostly old people at the party! And old people are easier to talk to, somehow. Also, I actually find it easier to talk to people I’ve never met before, as opposed to people I know casually but don’t really have anything in common with or anything interesting to talk about with. If you know the person, you have to think of something to start a conversation about, rather than just introducing yourself and asking how the person knows the hostess, what they do for a living, etc, like you can do with a complete stranger. Funnily enough, more than one person commented on how brave I was for coming to this party when I knew I wasn’t going to know anyone. I actually ended up having fun at the party, and I didn’t stay super long, maybe an hour and a half or two hours, but still, I was proud of myself.

The party, and thus where my Irish colleague was staying, was actually only about 5 minutes from my house, and her friend, who normally would drive her to the university for work on Monday, ironically enough, had jury duty!  So I offered to pick my colleague up in the morning, and she was very appreciative. It was no problem for me, and like I said, this colleague is really nice. So I picked her up around 9 (got to sleep in on a Monday morning, too– woot!), and then we went and did the orientation for my students going to Ireland this summer. There were only 2, so it was very low-key. Then my Irish visitor and I went to have a coffee, and didn’t really even talk about work – just had a chat. It was nice. Then she had meetings with some other peeps in the office, and I had my Monday afternoon advising shift, so we parted ways.

Jury Duty: Days 4-5

So at about 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon, we began deliberations. After discussing our initial impressions a little bit, we did an anonymous vote to see which side everyone came down on. Results: 5 Guilty, 6 Not Guilty, 1 Undecided but leaning Not Guilty. There were a few of us (including me) who were very staunchly Not Guilty, and there were a few who very firmly believed the was Guilty. Then there were several people who were very much on the fence.

Now, being a very strong introvert, you might think I had very little to say during deliberations. Wrong. I was probably one of the most outspoken people on the jury. I guess it’s that INFJ passion for our causes that came out in me—I felt very strongly that the prosecution’s evidence was not strong enough to convict, and I advocated passionately to that affect.

I thought about typology a lot during the deliberation process, actually. The evidence that the prosecution submitted as proof of his guilt was nearly all circumstantial. We were told that in the eyes of the law, circumstantial evidence does not hold less weight than direct evidence, but as circumstantial evidence is, by definition (“is evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact”), open to interpretation, we had to really rely on our own judgment as to whether we believed the circumstantial evidence “proved” the prosecution’s case. Also, we got stuck on points 2 and 4 from the list above (2- DH knew that DJ committed the felony, 4- DH performed this action with the intention of helping DJ evade arrest). Establishing guilt for both of these items required us to try to ascertain the defendant’s state of mind at the time of his alleged crime, which of course is quite difficult and requires interpretation and intuition as well.

Jury Duty: Day 3

We actually started the trial on Tuesday afternoon at about 4pm. That was annoying, because my spouse was supposed to pick me up at 4:30, when we were supposed to get done. But we didn’t get done until 5, and of course I had no way to contact him. On that day, we heard the beginning of the first witness, the arresting officer, KD.

Wednesday morning we heard the rest of KD’s examination, his cross-examination, and his redirect. He told us that the defendant, DH, who was accused of hiding his girlfriend, DJ, when she was wanted for a robbery.

According to KD’s testimony, the police got a call at 9:23 am saying that an old man had been robbed (of an amount between $30 and $383, but probably about $300) in his apartment building. They responded and talked to the victim, JV, and the manager of the apartment building, AM. They got security video from the elevators and the entryway (he specifically said there were NO cameras in the stairwell) and from these videos were able to determine a suspect. While they were there, another resident of the building came into the office and turned in a wallet he had found in one of the stairwells, which turned out to be JV’s wallet, with his ID in it but no cash. Then they went to the Salvation Army across the street, and people there told them that the woman they described from the security videos had been in there shortly after the robbery and had dropped a wad of cash accidentally, and was bragging about ripping off an old man. These people gave the police her name, DJ, and said that she had seen her boyfriend, DH across the street and went out to meet him, and that they had walked toward the house where they live with DH’s mom, about 2 blocks from the Salvation Army. The people at the Salvation Army described the house (they didn’t know the address), and the cops looked for the house, found it, called for backup, and knocked on the door.

When they knocked, DH opened the door and they asked if they could come inside and talk. DH stepped outside, closed the door, and said No, we can talk out here. It was cold and January, so the cops found this suspicious. They asked if he was alone, and DH said no, there was a female home. They asked if the female was DJ, and he said no, and they asked if DJ was there, and he said no. They said DJ was a suspect in a robbery and asked if they could come in and verify, and DH said no. The cops told him they could get a search warrant, and he said, fine, get a warrant. At that point, a female came out of the house and identified herself as LB. She called upstairs and DJ came down. She was wearing the same clothes as in the security video and willingly gave up the 5 $20-bills she had on her person, hidden in her underwear, from the robbery. She was arrested, DH was arrested for aiding an offender, LB was cited for possession of marijuana, and another male who was at the house was arrested for an outstanding felony warrant. They all went down to the station.

Jury Duty: Days 1-2

I’ve always wanted to be called for jury duty, so when I got the summons in the mail a few weeks ago, I was excited. I did have one fear, which was that I’d end up on a jury where I was the only one who believed the person was innocent (or guilty), and I’d have 11 people ganging up on me. I wouldn’t want to betray my conscience, and I don’t think I would, but holding out would be pretty unpleasant.

My term of service began on Monday, March 28. I got up in the morning and my husband drove me to the courthouse. I had my laptop and some reading material, as I knew that at least the first day would likely consist of a lot of waiting around, and I wanted to get some work and reading done. I arrived in the jury waiting room and checked in, and received the Jury Handbook. The room was pretty full – there were probably 100 or so people there. I had hoped there’d be coffee in the waiting room, but there was not.

I sat down to read through the Jury Handbook, and after a while, someone named Beth came and gave us a little orientation about how the week would go. A group of about 25 people would be called by name, and would be escorted to the courtroom for jury selection. This is called a jury panel. Then you go through the process of jury selection, or Voir Dire, which consists of first the judge asking questions to the whole group, and then each individual (in the presence of the whole group), and then each attorney doing the same. During the jury selection process, both attorneys and the defendant (and plaintiff, if it’s a civil case) are present as well. If it seems that anyone would not be able to be a fair and impartial juror, that person is dismissed. Once everyone is satisfied that the remaining potential jurors could all be fair and impartial, each attorney “passes the jury.” From the people left, 13 people (12 jurors and an alternate) are agreed upon by both attorneys and the rest are excused. You don’t know who the alternate is until it is time for deliberation to begin. At that time, the trial ensues, and when both sides have rested their cases, the jury goes to deliberate.