Category: Uncategorized

Doing my duty

Doing my duty

Earlier this year I was doing one of my favorite things – checking the mail (Don’t laugh – you know you love it too!) As I opened the mailbox, I noticed an official looking letter from the illustrious sheriff of our fine county. I quickly panicked – what had I done that might have caught the attention of local law enforcement? After jump starting my feeble memory, I relaxed realizing that I don’t think any of my recent infractions should have hit the sheriff’s radar. So, I started to get excited. Maybe he was offering me a job or possibly I was going to be named citizen of the year. So I ripped into the envelope and was smacked square in the face with reality – I had been summoned to serve jury duty.

After having my week of service delayed on two occasions because of work commitments, I recently had my chance. Of course, as the nice woman at the clerk of courts reminded me, I had no more delays in my bag of tricks – I had to be there or I would get a not-so-friendly visit from the sheriff. After enduring traffic I didn’t even know existed at an hour of the day I hardly see, I was in a room with about 60 people waiting for what came next. Nervous excitement might have been the best way to describe what we were feeling as we all crammed into a room that certainly was not designed for the number of bodies now inhabiting it.

At last we were herded (no better word to describe what happened) into the court room for the pomp and circumstance that awaits new jurors. After instructions, a video and a swearing-in we were ready to go. And it didn’t take long before I heard my name called and I was introducing myself to the judge and lawyers. As 12 of us settled in, the questions started. And didn’t stop. In fact, I heard the same questions so many times I am certain I was hypnotized and asked to cluck like a chicken in front of the whole courtroom. (I can neither confirm nor deny the previous statement.) After three hours of prying, the defense attorney evidently didn’t like my shirt or something and dismissed me.

After that, I began to realize what jurors actually do when called to serve – sit and wait. And believe me, we did a lot of sitting, a lot of waiting, and lot of wondering why in the world we were there. At times, we had the distraction of being in the courtroom and watching fellow jurors play the million question game. Other times we were crammed in that back room striking up conversations with people who were perfect strangers just days before. But it was during those moments of conversation that I realized the one good thing that I learned while on jury duty – or jury service as the officials like to call it.

You see, the more than 60 people called to serve that week came from all across the county and from all walks of life. They were young and old, from different cultures and socioeconomic statuses – but all were called to perform the same task. Thus, the playing field was leveled and we were all just citizens. Maybe that is why it was so easy to talk to people who I normally would not have struck up a conversation with or approached. But talk we did. I wouldn’t say we became best friends during our moments in the jury waiting area, but I now have a better idea of who shares this chunk of earth with me. And there are some really good people out there and I am glad I met them.

As we were dismissed for the week, the judge thanked us and let us know that the court would not have gotten its business done if we had not been there. I mean if the justice system moves forward because a couple dozen of us sit in a room and talk, so be it. But I do have to thank the county for giving me the opportunity to meet some new people and get to know some “neighbors” that I would not have met without the wonderful invitation from the sheriff. Mind you, I am glad I am exempt for the next two years, but here’s hoping I bump into some of my fellow jurors as I traverse the county. They are good people who did their service – and I am glad I did it with them.

Aged wisdom

Aged wisdom

So, recently I turned 25 for the second time. Wait a minute – that’s not right. I turned 10 for the fifth time. No, no, no – I am 5 for the 10th time. Well, I think you get the picture. One thing I have realized as I have aged is the world is full of not just people who are challenged in the intelligence area (trying to be P.C. here), but also there just are a lot of dumb things out there. Don’t believe me? Let me lay a couple of them on you.

Warning labels

Now, in concept, these labels serve a purpose and are necessary. I honestly believe it is wise to tell people not to wash down their medicine with a fifth of Scotch. I get it – good advice. But some of these warnings are just, well, stupid. I mean do we really need to tell people not to operate their toaster in the shower? Must Harry the handyman really be warned not to point the nail gun at his face? Must someone really be told not to hold the wrong end of a chainsaw? I mean come on people.

“Timed” traffic signals

OK, now this one I think is the Department of Transportation just flat lying to us. Supposedly if you travel the speed limit you should hit each light as it turns green – as long as traffic allows constant driving speed. Yeah right and if you play the lottery enough times you are going to win. WRONG! I really think there is some marshmallow head in a room somewhere that is too busy playing Angry Birds to turn the lights green in a timely fashion. I mean, come on, just tell us the truth – these lights are timed to irritate you to the point of making you not only want to pull your hair out but also the hair of the driver next to you.

Conspiracy theories

OK, now I enjoy these when it comes to movie plots. Who doesn’t want to believe a 12-year-old in Omaha has been given the opportunity by the U.S. government to control all the computers in China so as to cripple their economy. I mean that’s great stuff for the big screen. But the amount of namby pambies in the world who buy into every “theory” that comes down the pike is ludicrous. Come on folks if any one man or government had the power we ascribe to them in these conspiracy plots, the world would have ended a long time ago. Get a grip and grasp a little reality folks.

Scam emails

I mean there are enough dumb things in the world to fill countless libraries, but I will end with this one. The fact that anyone believes these makes me wonder how we as the human race still exist. Come on – the prince of Nigeria wants to share his fortune with you? Mrs. Belvidere – who has amassed billions of dollars – now wants to give you that money because she has no children, her husband has passed and she can’t spend it all? Bill Gates will give you $150 for each person to whom you merely send this attachment? If you all are going to believe this, I have some beachfront property in Nebraska I will sell you at a good price.

OK, so maybe these things aren’t stupid. Maybe as I get older I just got more irritated by stuff like this. Maybe I am the one who is stupid. That’s up for you to decide. But just know that if you call me stupid, I don’t come with a warning label and I will fill your email box with scam emails of conspiracy theories about traffic signals. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

All shook up

All shook up

I’m willing to bet it has happened to most, if not all, of us at one time or another. You go to open your favorite beverage and BOOM – you are greeted with an explosion of carbonated proportions. There is drink all over the walls, the ceiling, your favorite shirt. And chances are your reaction to the mishap is anything but puppies and rainbows.

The occasional exploding beer or soda can happen to anyone. And despite all the tricks – tapping the sides of the can or opening it slowly – the trapped bubbles are going to rush to escape causing a sticky mess. Unless of course you do the one tried-and-true method – show patience when opening the can. Of course, this trick is only successful if you know the can has been agitated before you try to open it.

Many of us are like that potentially exploding can. The people around us have agitated us. Life has shook us up to the point where we are ready to explode. We are simply waiting for the right situation or person to loosen our lid and start the volcanic eruption of pent-up frustration and anger. Good chance the results will be quite messy. We can try venting slowly, but even then, there is a good chance of an emotional blowup happening.

So what can we do? Much like the shook-up can, we need to be patient. We need to take time away from the people and things that have us at critical mass. As we do this, we can slowly calm our frayed nerves, allow our anger to pass and calm ourselves to a point where life doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Without this time to relax, an explosion is inevitable. It will be messy and others will get caught in the mayhem. Relationships will be ruined. A job may be lost. Irreparable harm may happen.

If life has you shaken and ready to explode, you owe it to yourself and others to take time to calm down. Give yourself the quiet space to allow life to settle before you try to “open up.” Be patient with yourself and ask others to be patient with you so things don’t bubble up and over. Maybe find a quiet place to relax and enjoy your favorite beverage – one from a can that has not been shook up, of course.

Reaching out to others

Reaching out to others

As a journalist, I see and read about the dregs of humanity on a daily basis. Murderers, rapists, terrorists – on and on it goes as the headlines spell out the awful things man does to his fellow man. And as the years mount, you can’t blame me for being just a little cynical.

So as massive Category 4 Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas, I already was dreading what was I going to see. Reports of incredible damage and even loss of life. Picture after picture of cars and homes destroyed. Update after update of just how bad things were. And let me tell you, Harvey didn’t disappoint on offering up a heaping helping of bad news.

But then something happened. The reports started to show a side of mankind that we don’t see often enough, and Lord knows in today’s world we need to see more of it. Video of countless people pulling up to flood-ravaged areas with their personal boats to see what they could do to help. Everyday people going into dangerous areas to save their fellow man. I even saw a video of a 5-year old boy – a Houston native now living in Philadelphia – doing a lemonade stand to raise money for the folks in Texas.

Every hurricane has an eye – an area of calm inside the destructive force of nature. And it seems that each time a storm hits, we see the “eye” of mankind – the calm, peace-loving side that will do anything to help their fellow man. And often it is complete strangers lending a hand. They have no vested interest in these communities hit by the storm. They just have a heart and desire to help.

The only negative in all this is why do we have to wait for Mother Nature to hit an area with destruction to reach out and help others. Our world is being torn apart by hate and violence. Why not help out someone around you today for no reason other than to be a light in a dark world?

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud each and every person who in a large or small way reaches out to those in need after a natural disaster. I just wonder why our hearts can’t be so moved to help each and every day. We as humans show real humanity when those around us are down and in need. We just need to make it a habit to show our love for our fellow man on a regular basis – even when the sun is shining.

… You might be a hazard

… You might be a hazard

Charles Caleb Colton said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Well, Mr. Foxworthy, I hope you and all the fans of “you might be a redneck” consider this a sincere moment of flattery for you and the highly amusing comedy routine.

On the way home from work last night, I was reminded that if you ever wondered where all the idiots are at any given moment in time, I can tell you – they are on the road. And the number of idiots seems to go up exponentially the later in the evening it gets. So, without further ado, let me entertain you with … you might be a hazard.

If you believe that going less than 40 mph on a road that is clearly marked every half mile or so with a posted speed limit of 55 mph … you might be a hazard. If you are so tired or drunk that you think driving that slow makes your travel safer, you are wrong. If you are that bad a driver that you believe you make everyone else less apt to die at your hands by going slow, get off the road.

If you are so color blind that you can’t differentiate between the colors on a traffic signal … you might be a hazard. When the light is not only red but has been blazing red for seconds and you blow through the intersection, the only thing I can think is you must be so color blind you can’t tell the light has changed. Or you are just so stupid that you think several tons of metal at a high rate of speed will do nothing to the human body should it suddenly come to an abrupt stop.

If you believe it is your God-given right to use your high beams regardless of surrounding traffic … you might be a hazard. Believe me, blinding your fellow driver – whether it be from behind or as an oncoming vehicle – with your brights does nothing to make the roads safer. In case you are unaware, a blind driver is highly likely to not see you, a deer or even the side of the McDonald’s restaurant. (That little piece of advice is free. You can thank me later.)

If you think a constant speed is any speed other than reverse … you might be a hazard. Trust me folks, there is a reason car manufacturers made cruise control. It is not a safe practice to see how often you can bounce between 25 and 45 when the speed limit is 35 mph. And if the changing speed doesn’t eventually kill you, the other drivers you are irritating no end may just do so.

If you want to drive your car from my backseat … you might be a hazard. I never will understand the practice of tailgating. I mean if you want to know what radio station I am listening to, I can roll down my window and let you hear it. If you want to know what is in the grocery bags in my trunk, I will pull over and describe it to you in detail. While rubbing is racing on the track, I don’t think it is a safe practice on a city street.

All kidding aside, the roads are no place for idiots. If your driving habits resemble any of these, it’s time to place a higher importance on the lives of those around you. If you think driving is just something fun to do and you won’t ever hurt anyone … you might be a hazard. And trust me, the road is hazardous enough without you adding to it.

Doughnuts in the dark

Doughnuts in the dark

 

So, unless you are living under a rock – which might not be a bad place to be of late – you know there is this little celestial happening taking place on Monday. Now, don’t get me wrong I have nothing against a good solar eclipse every now and then. My problem is the craziness that ensues around it. No, not the mood swings of toddlers or the possible rampant explosion of women giving birth. I am talking about doughnuts here folks!

There is a cosmic confection conundrum among us that has me just a tad perplexed. It seems that many bakeries are offering special treats in honor of the eclipse. Now I am never opposed to someone running out a new flavor of doughnut. In fact, I don’t think there ever needs to be an excuse to eat a doughnut, make a doughnut, buy a doughnut – I think you get my point. My concern is this – why limit a delicious treat to being offered only one day? Do the sun and moon need to have a dance in outer space for you to offer me chocolate goodness? And why are you shaming me into eating doughnuts in the dark?

While the masses are cutting holes in shoe boxes or frantically looking to get a pair of those crazy shades, I am trying to figure out how I can purchase all the special “eclipse doughnuts” for myself. I mean in the amount of time most people are staring aimlessly at the sky I think I can eat a couple dozen of those round beauties. And I will not feel guilty about it at all. I will be eating in the dark only because the sun is playing peek-a-boo with the moon. I am not ashamed to eat my doughnuts in any atmospheric condition.

So on Monday if you buy one of those special doughnuts you might want to keep a close eye on it. Because while the darkness envelopes the land, my mouth might just be consuming your doughnut.

Hello world!

Hello world!

What do you get when you mix a slightly insane journalist with the World Wide Web? chrissiegel.com is the outcome.

Welcome to my website. I hope you enjoy your stay. There are complimentary chocolates on your pillow which you might want to eat before sleeping because I understand melted confections are quite difficult to get out of your ear. Feel free to call the front desk if you need anything. We won’t answer, but feel free to call.

In all seriousness, I have thought a long time about creating a website to give me a creative outlet for the nonsense that rattles around in my brain on a daily basis. So, away we go. Some of what I post may be silly. Other posts may be more serious in nature. I may touch on sports. I might ramble on about the heat, traffic or sunshine on a cloudy day. I might post links to music I like or that speaks to me. Not sure how often I will write, but I will write. There is just no telling what I might do, but that is the fun of having a website on which to pontificate.

I hope you will enjoy what you see and share the site with your friends. If you have ideas of what you might like to see or a topic you want me to address, let me know. Much like elected officials, I will ignore you but you can ask. I kid, I kid. I welcome your suggestions and comments. So without further delay – welcome to chrissiegel.com