The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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Being Different in A Trump Sort of World

I never realized that I was different from most kids my age until I was at least 4.  Sure, around Christmas time, I wondered why we didn’t have lights or decorations.  My mother just said that we celebrate Chanukah (yes, it really does have a Ch).  I also wondered why Santa didn’t visit us, and she told me that we had a special dot on our door that told Santa not to deliver gifts to our house.  Being gullible, I looked for that stupid dot long after I realized that Santa wasn’t real.  I never did find it.  Just another little disappointment that I’ve had to learn to live with.  Anyway, I was born in Montreal and raised in Sydney, a small city in Nova Scotia.  Being Jewish wasn’t the rule, it was the exception.  Once, when I was about 4, I was playing outside and an older boy, or should I say bully,  from around the corner drove his bicycle over my feet.  He did this simply because I was a Jew.  Luckily, I told my older sister and friend Paul what happened and my sister knocked him off of his bike, and Paul jumped on him and pulled his ears until he apologized.

There were other incidents as I was growing up.  One boy kept yelling “Jill is Jewish” in the playground.  I didn’t get too offended, because even though it was meant as a slur, it was just a fact.  A couple of other kids told me that they knew that I was rich because I was Jewish.  I had no idea what my parents had, all that I knew was that I never did get Superstar Barbie because they said that they couldn’t afford it.  My friends were all very respectful though and defended me when bullying came up.  Interestingly, my closest friends in high school were Muslims and Hindus.  None of us cared about what made us different – we grew up in a very similar way.  The most uncomfortable encounters actually were with adults.

My neighbour, who seemed like a perfectly nice man that let me take his dog for a walk when I was walking my own puppy, later became a bit of a terror.  He got fired from the bank when he told a Jewish customer that he wished Hitler had finished all Jews off.  He  held a bit of a grudge.  When I’d walk my dog, there were times that he would follow us around with his car getting a little too close for comfort.  He threatened to “take a stick” to me and my dog if I ever let Rascal on his lawn.  I was 8 years old at the time, and finally realized that there really was something different about me, something that certain people may not like.

My grade 12 English teacher was the second adult that made things uncomfortable for me.  Just my luck, we were reading “The Merchant of Venice” and he felt it necessary to discuss the character of Shylock’s Judaism for longer than necessary.  Some of what he said absolutely was important to the narrative of the play.   Throwing in his opinion that all Jews are rich, that you never see a Jewish cab driver or maintenance person wasn’t.  He directed comments about Jews being doctors mainly, looking right at me (my father was a doctor) when he said it was just a little slice of heaven.  There was more, but he’s not worth any extra time than this.  Again, most kids and teachers were great.  People from the East Coast (of Canada) are very friendly and welcoming.  Most of the time when they’d make comments or ask questions, it was curiosity, not malice.

When I moved to Toronto, I experienced far worse.  Here is a small smattering of things that I rarely have spoken to anyone about:

  • A woman walked up to me walking along the street with a friend, and said “Excuse me, do you think you are in Jew-town?”.  Me, “Pardon?”  thinking that she couldn’t have said that.  The woman retorted, “You heard me” and walked away.
  • A person, not realizing that I was Jewish, joked about my part time job as a cashier at a card store saying that I was playing “the Jewish” piano.
  • Sitting with a group of friends and acquaintances watching TV one day, a skit came on featuring Hasidic Jews.  It was funny, and if you can’t laugh at your own people, who can you laugh at?  One person took it one step too far and he said exactly these words, “I f%$king hate f$#king Jews with their f$#king big noses and f#$king big wallets.”  He went on to say more, but stopped after a minute more of his tirade when the room got very silent.  He turned to me and said, “Your not Jewish, are you?”.   The last words that I ever said to him were “As a matter of fact, I am”.
  • “You are such a nice person Jill, it’s really too bad that you are going to hell because you don’t accept Christ as your saviour.  Sin is sin in God’s eyes.”
  • “Oh, when I said that Jews were obnoxious and horrible, I didn’t mean you Jill, you aren’t like that.  I meant other Jews.”  If I had a dime for every time someone said some form of this to me, I’d have a couple of hundred dollars at least.
  • I’m not religious, but out of guilt (it’s one of the stereotypes of my religion that’s actually true), I go to synagogue twice a year on the High Holidays.  Every time that I go, there is security that has to check my purse before I’m allowed on the premises.  Imagine going to church and needing to have it checked by bomb-sniffing dogs and needing police protection?  That’s our normal.

The list goes on and on, as it probably does for everyone who is a visible or invisible minority.  There have been times when I’ve seen what it’s like for someone else.  I was in Memphis with my friend when we were waiting for a car rental place to open up.  An African American woman came out of a bus with a whole bunch of children who also happened to be African American.  She was distraught, because the store was late opening and they had to be on the road and she wanted to return the keys for a car.  We offered to do it for her, and she looked like she was going to cry.  She explained that it was just such a nice thing to do after she had such a rough day.   Her group was on a high after taking the kids to the National Civil Rights Museum.  When she checked into her hotel, the front desk clerk told her to keep her little (insert the “N” word here) quiet.  It was traumatizing for her to go from the extreme of how far her people had come, to how much further there still was to go.

Another time, I was on a bus, and there was a young-ish black child (maybe 11 or 12) on his own.  A mentally ill woman starting walking up and down the bus shouting derogatory things about black people.  It was awful, and I just wanted to die for this child.  I talked to him and said you know what she saying isn’t true.  She’s mentally ill, right?  He slowly nodded, but it was so heartbreaking.  I just kept talking to him the rest of the bus ride so that he wouldn’t feel so alone.

All of the things that have happened over the course of my life didn’t prepare me for what I saw in Charlottesville.  The march by the Neo-Nazis and KKK sent chills down my spine.  Watching them take over the streets with their tiki-torches and Anti-Semetic signs was a horrible reminder of what it must have been like to be a Jew (or any minority) in Germany in the 1930’s.  The weekend’s festivities where they spouted hate against African Americans and all other minorities was a reminder that there are home grown terrorists in the US (and Canada) too.  They are being enabled by a President that doesn’t understand moral equivalency because he is completely immoral.

Here is what I have to say to the KKK, the Neo-Nazis/Fascists and haters of all kind.  “Jews will not replace us” (coming from a Nazi Germany and Neo-Nazi saying meaning basically that whites will not be replaced with immigrants and non-whites) makes zero sense.  I have no desire to replace a racist, sexist low-life who spends most of their time hiding behind a hood.  What am I supposed to replace you at?  Marketing for the KKK?    I can imagine the campaigns now: “Wearing White after Labour Day – a Klan do”; “Waterproof Eye Liner – How to paint a Swastika on your face without smearing it.”;  “The All White/Alt Right Food Diet”; “17 Different Woods That Are Best for Burning Crosses”.  I could go on, but I won’t, they aren’t worth it.

If you hate people because of their colour, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender/gender orientation or any other reason, you are a loser.  Really, just a big, old loser.  All of the people marching in the streets for “their country” and “their land” should remember that by ancestry, they too are immigrants.  The only Native Americans, are just that, the Native Americans.  You know, the ones whose land your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents took away?  The Confederates lost the Civil War – get over it.  The Nazis lost World War 2 – it’s time to get on the right side of history.  The side that embraces people that are different than you.  The side that Trump seems confused by.  There are no “fine” Neo-Nazis or KKK.  There are fine people that may be white or black or gay or straight or trans or Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Native American/First Nations or Chinese or Japanese or South-East Asian or Arabic or even a mix of all of the above.  We need to learn from history so that the devastation of events like the Holocaust never happen again.

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Plop – Revisiting My Take on Goop

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The people who know me best know how much Gwyneth Paltrow and I have in common.       I’ve written about my respect for her several times before, indeed citing some of our greatest similarities, minus the size of my wallet of course.  Check these out if you know not of what I speak – https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/plop/https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/plop-part-deux-dos-due-zwei-twee/  Gwynnie does have it tough, don’t get me wrong.  Just recently, Goop was called out by NASA for spreading misinformation about using NASA technology in healing stickers sold on her site.  She also enraged GOOPIES (get it, like Groupies, only snobbier) at a recent Summit for the brand in NYC.  Not only did many get upset and leave the meeting of the fabulous minds due to lack of Gwynnie time and ill treatment if they only spent $500 on their ticket, there were ridiculous line ups for treatments promised when they booked their day of grace with the chosen Hollywood Health Nut.  Lastly, some of her adoring public is thinking about consciously uncoupling with Gwyneth when she admitted on Jimmy Kimmel’s show that she really has no idea about what is being sold on her site.

I would never abandon my Gwynnie though, and decided to take some of her advice (even if she doesn’t take it herself) and live the Goop-ie life for one week.  Here are some of the things that I tried…

  • Earthing – Gwynnie said she didn’t know what this was really, maybe some electromagnetic energy force field that’s only available in the ground.  I knew she was just kidding, after all, she was on Jimmy Kimmel and we all know what a joke-ster she is, so I decided to try Earthing for myself.  I pondered the name first, that’s just how deep I am, and thought, well, this is something that I can only do on Earth – not Venus, Mars or Jupiter, just Earth – coolio.  Immediately, I felt a connection to the land.  It can also cure a multitude of maladies like insomnia, arthritis, inflammation and depression.  According to Clint Ober, simply put, “Earthing therapy rests on the intuitive assumption that connecting to the energy of the planet is healthy for our souls and bodies.”  I decided to walk bare-foot through the park, or tip-toe through the tulips, if you will.  I kicked off my Naot sandals (not on Goop’s list of must have, I must invest in one of their choices) and plunged forward into the grass.  Immediately, I jumped back after stepping into a big pile of doggie doo – GROSS!!!! I found a bird bath and joined my fine feathered friends for a quick rinse before I tried again.  I got squeamish thinking I saw a worm and a deer tick.  Earthing isn’t for the faint of heart, so I gave up, running like a girl back to the safety of the pavement and my sandals.  Verdict – caused more stress then it cured.
  • Jade Egg Practice – wanting a deeper sense of connection to myself and all of the other side benefits of the Jade Egg suggested on Goop including some kegel help, I decided to try it.  When I saw the $66 price tag, I immediately thought, I can’t spend that much money on my hoo-hah why not try a regular hen’s egg?  Same shape – right?  Except every time I did it, the egg kept cracking – what a mess!  People on the subway also looked at me strangely because every time I tried to shove my way into the doors, another egg yolk appeared at my feet.  Verdict – don’t use regular eggs, and skip this whole thing. 
  • IV Drip  (available at the Goop Wellness Summit) – I wasn’t able to charter a private jet to fly down to LA to partake in a weekend of wellness and GP disciples, so I thought about just getting an IV drip which they promise will rehydrate you!  Then I thought about it and went with nature’s hydration, scientifically proven to help you bring more water to your little cells – good old water.  Verdict – OH PLEASE!
  • Meaningful small talk – My Gwynnie has meaning behind all of her conversations, so delving deeper into Goop, I found an article on how to have meaningful small talk.  All 8 steps would be overwhelming for a mere mortal like me, so I decided to start with one small tip – ask for advice, because it makes people feel good about themselves.  I’ve started at a new work place, so I thought this would be a great way to get to know people.  I went to the Executive VP’s office and asked him if he knew the best place to find a gun-metal coloured purse would be.  I’ve been looking everywhere for one!  Instead of feeling like an expert, he ordered me to leave his office.  I then walked into the Sales VP’s office and asked him if he thought I should go with Mac Lipglass for a tried and true colour (my fave is Love Child) or go with Charlotte Tilbury?  He never heard of either but I’m sure it made him feel important to be included in such a riveting conversation.  Verdict – mixed.
  • Spirituality (Understanding How to Move and Manipulate Energy) – GP is a spiritual goddess, really!  It pours out of her pores.  The first thing that I think of when I see her, aside from the awful hunchback she will have later in life if she keeps slouching, is how she is a child of the Earth – so in touch with herself.  I read this article and felt overwhelmed by the ten steps, so I focused on one for more energy: “Make a list of different feelings. Free associate with each feeling. What is your relationship to that feeling? What are your beliefs or images about those feelings? Where do you tend to feel those feelings, if at all, in your body?”  When I wrote down my feelings, particularly about Goop, the first was bored.  I saw myself yawn as I was thinking about my feelings.  I felt my arms stretch back and my mouth open wide enough to catch flies.  My relationship with boredom – too boring to think about.  My beliefs are???? Not sure, can’t answer that one.  I think it’s find something less boring to do.  Verdict – MEH!

So, after basking in Goopie brilliance for one week, I learned several valuable lessons – never go to someone who is not a health care practitioner for advice or someone who has no clue what she is talking about for that matter for mental advice.  Stars like Gwynnie and Cameron Diaz, will never be my go to girls when I need treatment for something.  Remember Goop isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a business.


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The Bravery Bell

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“Promise me you’ll remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne, Christopher Robin.

In many hospitals that have chemotherapy wards, you’ll find a Bravery Bell.  The idea is that any cancer patient that finishes their last chemo session gets to ring it, much like the bells that end a round of boxing.  I’ve had the opportunity on several occasions to hear the bell ring, and each time, it brings a smile to my face and wish that I could join the systemic care team in applauding the latest patient that completed their treatment.  The last time that I heard it ring though, it also made me think about so many things.

Many patients with cancer face a different type of battle – their chemo never ends.  Are they any less brave than the ones who get to complete their treatment?  Shouldn’t they get to ring the bell too?  Others are treated with radiation – when their treatments end, they don’t have a bell to ring.  How about the family members that accompany the patients to their treatments, trying not to show any outward signs of fear, even though inside they are terrified of what their loved one will go through.  Trying every day to lift their spirits, trying to feel hope even when there may not be any.  Aren’t they brave too?

How about the wonderful nurses that provide such diligent care to each and every patient in the Chemotherapy Centres.  The nurses that quietly make sure that each and every patient is comfortable and warm and that their families are clear on what will happen.  The nurses who care about patients when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable.  If I could, I’d ring the Bravery Bell for them.  How about the doctors, no matter what the discipline, that contact patients and family members to reassure them and answer each and every one of their questions.  They too should get to ring that bell.

Cancer is the great equalizer.  Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, straight or gay, male, female or transgender, it doesn’t discriminate – anyone can get it.  It is unique in that the cure or the life prolonger often makes you sicker than the disease.  It makes patients, families, health care providers and care givers braver than they ever thought possible.

To learn more about the Bravery Bell and the nurse who brought it to Princess Margaret Hospital, click here https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2015/09/19/for-donna-the-bravery-bell-tolls.html


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The Serenity of Unemployment

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Image courtesy of me and a trip to Norway

Last May, I had a conversation with a now former colleague that I’ve known for many years.  She put a bug in my ear about how much I would love a contract job, or just some needed time off.  We talked about it for quite awhile, and she made me think of the excitement of possibility.  I know that not having a job isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it wasn’t something that I was sure about either, but as time went on, I became more emboldened and couldn’t get the idea out of my little head.  I’m not alone, but I worked very hard for so many years, the thought of taking some time away really sounded like a dream.  Some health issues with someone that I’m very close to also helped me see things  very differently.

You are not going to get any employer bashing here.  If you are reading this in your twenties or even early thirties, please take some very valuable advice from me,  every job has it’s ups and downs, but you should never be open about the downs or reveal anything confidential about the ups in social media or the blogosphere.  It’s not professional and it’s really not ethical unless you are a female Fox employee or work for United Airlines. For a very long time, I got to work with an amazing bunch of people, and for that, I will always be grateful.   There just comes a time in your life when you need a massive change and this is my time.  I need to find my next decade job, meaning that it will be long term in a company that I can grow with.  I’ve reached a place where I need to be a student rather than a teacher.  Learning is growing, and that can only come when you shake yourself out of your comfort zone.

In the last 6 weeks, I haven’t had a single moment of boredom.  Granted, I’ve been busy helping with a sick family member, which has taken up quite a bit of time, but I also made a conscious decision to say yes to everything, even if I wasn’t sure about it and to do things to better myself.  I’ve signed up for a digital marketing course to brush up on my skill set, agreed to volunteer for a marketing association and signed up for unlimited belly dance lessons and dance workshops so that I could get back to where I was eight years ago when I was part of a professional dance company.  I agreed to give a talk on social media and blogging at a local college’s marketing class.  I’ve met up with former colleagues and friends that I haven’t had the chance to spend anytime with over the past year.  I’ve said yes to every invitation that has come my way – there really is no excuse now for me to say no.  I’ve done some jobs around the house that I’ve been putting off – who really wants to clean venetian blinds slat by slat?  I’ve done stupid things that people have suggested so if you need someone to do that Flight Simulator or Edgewalk with, I’m your girl.  I’ve come up with theme days that I want to do once a week while I’m off that include but aren’t limited to:

  • Gift Card Day –  what better way to go on a shopping spree than to use up all of the gift cards that I haven’t touched!  My Master Card has points for a department store gift card in Canada, so I’ll cash those points in too.
  • Free Day – look up fun things to do that cost absolutely nothing.
  • TV Day –  a day to binge watch one show.
  • Magazine Day – you guessed it – read a bunch of magazines, all in one day.
  • Book Day – I signed up for a fifty book pledge this year, so I need to finish one book in a day.
  • Decluttering Day(s)- do I really need to explain this?
  • Kijiji Day – a day to photograph and post some of the things that I want to see if I can sell on Kijiji and other similar sites.
  • Neighbourhood Day(s) – every week, pick a neighbourhood in my city, either on my own or with friends and fall in love with Toronto all over again.
  • Culture Days – I’ll fall asleep if I go to multiple museums in one day, so I’ll spread this one out.  I went to see Strictly Ballroom this weekend with my sister and some friends – I’m counting that.  I’m going to see if I can convince someone to go to an art exhibit that’s in Toronto too.
  • Movie Day – I’ve never been to a movie by myself before, and I think it will be a good experience.  Once I’ve gone, I’ll come back and binge watch movies on Netflix or TMN.
  • Bad Job Day – doing all the ugly jobs and tedious errands that I need to do.
  • Spa Day – to recover from all of these brainiac ideas.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt more like myself than I have in a very long time.  I’ve started paying attention to my surroundings because I no longer have to have my face buried in my cell phone while I’m walking so that I can get one more email off of my plate.  I actually listen to the people that I’m with when I’m out instead of doing a mental to do list.  I’ve talked to strangers, got to pat some cute dogs on the subway and don’t fret while waiting in line, because I know that my turn will come.

I know that soon, I’ll have a new job  because that’s the way that life goes, but retirement practice has been fulfilling.  People may not be in the same headspace about this as me, and I totally respect that, but if you find yourself unemployed, whether it’s your choice or not, try to make the most out of the time.

 


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When A Goose Attacks

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Image courtesy of Buzzfeed

“I was attacked by a Canada Goose” said a text from my middle sister.  “The coat or the animal?” I quickly wrote, eager to find out if my sister was strong-armed by a sales person trying to pawn one of the  jackets before the season ended.  Most people can’t even afford the “down” payment on those coats.  “The animal” she replied with tears in her eyes (I’m guessing).  I proceeded to laugh for at least ten minutes, somewhat hysterically, before picking up the phone and pleading with her, in between giggle fits, to give me the complete honk by honk, oops, I mean blow by blow.  The more she spoke, the more I howled with laughter.  Cheer up Eeyore, it was bound to happen to one of us.

Now before you have a “bird” on me, I did make sure that she was alright in between my laughing fits.  When I spoke to her this morning, she told me to have a “gander” at videos of goose attacks.  The attack happened to her when she was innocently trying to use an ATM in downtown Oakville.  That’s what you get for “nesting” in the suburbs.  She turned her back, and her “goose was cooked”.  The bird bit her back with it’s toothless beak, twisting, but causing no damage.  It attacked again, flapping it’s wings at her head, causing a migraine, but luckily no “goose egg” on her noggin.  Surprisingly, even though it was a Canada Goose, it wasn’t polite enough to give her a sorry.  I wonder if the “Portugeese” are the nicer ones?

I’m not sure if there was a gosling close by, but my sister is an animal lover, even feeling sorry enough for the birds to eschew down products.  Now, it’s a different story – she thinks that those “birdbrains” belong in a coat, pillow or duvet.  The attack really came out of nowhere.  The only advice that I could give her for next time was to “duck” or blow her nose at the bird.  I always did say that it sounded like a mating call for a goose when she blows her nose.  If you are chased by a goose, you can always “wing it” depending on the direction of the attack “beak-cause” it can be difficult to judge what’s going to make them “fly off the handle”.  Maybe just tell it to “flock off”?

My sister really isn’t a “chicken” and so maybe I should give it a nest, I mean rest already. I apologize to you all, my faithful readers, if you found this post a little “fowl”.  Maybe I’ll get my sister a little gift for letting me write about her ordeal – nah, I’m too “cheep”.  I’m off for some bedtime reading, “Mother Goose” anyone?

 

 


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My Day In Court

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Image courtesy of humbernews.ca

Anyone who knows me well knows that if something is going to happen, it’s going to happen to me.  It’s definitely not always a bad thing, I’ve had plenty of great experiences thanks to this weird type of luck.  I’ve also been a little inconvenienced over the years.  That’s exactly the way I felt when I was summoned for jury duty in November.  Hoping work would give me a way out, I was told by my boss that it was my civic duty.  All that I could think of was 5 days of missing work, meant coming in on weekends and at night since it is the busiest time of year (or one of them).  Many people told me that I likely would just sit in a room all day waiting for my name to be drawn.  I was instructed to say that I was a racist (which I couldn’t in good conscience since it isn’t true), believed in the death penalty (which I don’t) or just answer the question by speaking in tongues (not familiar with the lingo).

I really thought that it would be just long days of reading my book and answering emails.  Of course, the justice system had a different plan.  My group was told that after we registered, we’d have until ten to get a drink, eat, do nature duty, etc. before we went up to court.  Still in denial over what was happening, I absent-mindedly posted humorous (at least I thought they were) observations about my fellow jurors not realizing what was about to transpire.  I simply thought that going to court meant that I would be placed in a different holding room, while I waited to potentially be called in for a burglary or fraud case.  Well, that’s not what happened.

About 300 people (estimate) were shuffled upstairs and told that we were entering the largest courtroom in Canada, that the judge was a representative of the Queen and that this was a very serious matter.  Once we were seated, things changed dramatically.  The defendant was in the courtroom.  The judge, a kindly looking older gentleman was at the front of the room, and the lawyers were wearing the official robes and collars that they have to wear in Canada, which are pretty cute, at least in my humble opinion.  I knew what His Honour would say though, before he even spoke – this was going to be a first degree murder trial.  Before you get cozy thinking that you are going to get some juicy details about the case, I made a decision not to give any details about the defendant or the victim. No names, no pictures, no who did it theories or details.  Before I even wrote about this, I looked at several blogs and they provided every salacious detail.  Everyone is entitled to write what they want from their own experience.  My feeling is, that there are so many people impacted by this, most importantly, the victim and her family and that it would be disrespectful of me to dramatize or comment on anything related to her death.  The defendant is also someone’s child or brother and is quite young – this case is tragic all the way around.  What I will tell you about is the experience.

The judge explained what the case was about (first degree murder with some brief details including the name of the victim, defendant and the general vicinity of where it happened), and the defendant gave his plea – Not Guilty.  His Honour then went on to explain that this was a case where the accused was going to defend himself. The lawyers were introduced, then the judge proceeded to ask the jury panel if any of us knew of the case, the victim, the defendant or the attorneys.  A few people put their hands up and one by one were escorted to the microphone where they were questioned politely by the judge.  Some prospective jurors were excused.  The witness list was read and once again, we were asked if anyone was familiar with people on this list.  Another small trickle of people went up to the microphone, some were excused, the remainder had to take their seats.

Before we went upstairs to the courtroom, we had to fill out a questionnaire with 11 questions including whether we clearly understood English, had any disabilities that may interfere with being a juror, any health concerns, etc.  At this point, the judge informed us, in a very respectful way, that he’s seen trials that were short and long, and that this would be a lengthy one – at least 2-3 months.  A gasp came over the courtroom.  Everyone looked at each other in shock.  He then proceeded to ask if anyone’s life would be substantially impacted by a lengthy trial and about 2/3 of the jury panel raised their hands.  The judge chuckled expecting this, and he told us that we had to really search our conscience and think about whether this was a case where we truly would SUBSTANTIALLY be impacted or if it was more of an inconvenience.  We were then told to line up, but they had to do it in sections, so I was seated until later in the afternoon.  Each person gave their form to the judge and he asked them a series of questions.  He was incredibly respectful, asking if he could reveal certain information or even ask questions related to their rationale.

Some people had very valid reasons – caring for an ill relative or they were owners of their own small business or English wasn’t their first language and they weren’t confidant that they would understand everything.  All of these people were excused with the judge’s respect and best wishes.  People with vacations booked were told that the court could accommodate their schedules.  People that  worked for large companies were told to speak to their HR Departments since many places paid employees for jury duty.  The judge only lost his cool once or twice and that was due to the responses he was getting, not bad temperament.  We were all referred to by number, not name, and he was always careful not to reveal anything personal without asking permission first.  His only frustration was the large line up of people.  He reminded us that jury duty could be very rewarding, and by the end of the day, I really wanted to change my answer to please this judge.  He was someone that I truly respected.  Unfortunately, circumstance prevents me from being too far from my phone in case of emergency.  My reasons for not being able to do jury duty this time, are private, but if it was just a matter of a heavy workload, this judge convinced me that it was my duty to serve and that wasn’t a factor.  He read my form and saw the pleading look on my face and unlike many people who went up to the microphone, he didn’t ask me a single question.  He smiled at me gently, and just said “After reading this juror’s response, I have no hesitation that being a member of the jury in this case would cause her undue hardship and for that reason, you are excused.  I wish you all of the best of luck in your circumstances.”  I thanked him and left.

This judge gave me hope in our justice system.  He made me believe that it truly was our civic duty to be on a jury and I hope to have another opportunity in the future.  This experience made me realize that this isn’t just an inconvenience forced upon us, but part of what we should be honoured to do.  What’s at stake is huge – justice for a victim and changing the course of the defendant’s life.  As hard as it may be for us to do, imagine how hard it is for the people that are truly impacted by this case.  Whatever you go through as a juror, at night you can go back home to your life and family.  The victim can’t.  The defendant can’t and their families will never escape from their nightmare, no matter what the outcome.

 

 


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Well, I Declare! Do You?

Getting back to travel, I’m just wondering how many of you shop ’til you drop when you vacay?  I bet many of you are taken in by useless tchotchkes, shoes that you just have to walk away with, jewelry that matches the sparkle in your eye and clothes that will reside on your elliptical for years to come.  I eschew touristy souvenirs, I have absolutely no use for them.  I do have a weakness for clothing and accessories though.  Plus, I’m a generous hearted Leo who likes to buy useless, yet thoughtful gifts, for family and friends that make the cut.  This translates into sometimes going over our paltry $800 limit (remember I’m Canadian).

It used to be even worse, and cross border shopping meant pulling tags off, donning about 6 layers of clothes, throwing out old shoes so I could wear new ones and looking like the Michelin Man as I got questioned by Canadian Customs.  Not being a natural liar, I usually stuttered through the answers or mumbled into one of the 5 sweaters that I was wearing (in the heat of the summer) that I spent about $50.  LIAR LIAR pants (3 pairs to be exact) on fire, I knew that Officer Bob was thinking to himself as he sighed and let us pass through.

There were times that I couldn’t lie or layer my clothes in such an overt way because I made the mistake of going to the US with someone that had been black listed.  Declaring pained me, so I’d sneak a sweater or blouse into my over-sized purse and hope that my friend didn’t discover my little peccadillo.  Then, I started going with one of my dearest friends who could lose her job if she was caught lying at the border and a condition of cross border travel meant…shudders…being completely honest.  At first, I resented it, but as more time went by, and I was waved through without paying duty, even when I overspent, I started appreciating the weird freedom that honesty brought.  I no longer was tongue tied  when I spoke to Customs.  I also looked better – 3 pairs of pants and 5 sweaters is just FUGLY.

The last two trips that I took, I was declared positively everything to the dime, and guess what?  I got brownie points.  One nice Agents of the Shield gave me a discount because I was honest so I paid a measly $30 – think of it – you lie to save $30?  Not worth it in my humble opinion.  Last night, when I got back from New Orleans, I was over by $50 – but declared it anyway – I have to be honest because I have Nexxus Card.  Once again, I was rewarded for being a do-gooder and paid absolutely zip.

So what does this all add up to?  Do you really want to stammer haltingly through a border crossing or sweat through your new clothes to avoid a few dollars at the border?  I no longer do, and I do declare, it’s freeing.  Enjoy your travels.