Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Luckiest Guy Who's Ever Been Mugged

Yesterday I gave grand jury testimony against the suspects charged with mugging me. I had never been involved with a grand jury until yesterday, and it was a fairly painless process. A grand jury determines whether there is probably cause to indict the defendants, and thereby bring the case to trial. Neither the defendants nor their attorneys are present, which means that I didn't have to face cross examination.

I was there all day, and hung out with the two men who stopped and called 911 for me. I also got to take them out to lunch -- it was the least I could do. In talking to them, I learned that I had an incomplete version of what happened that night. Apparently, when they showed up, they saw my assailants kicking and punching me, repeatedly. One said he initially assumed that he was witnessing a drug deal gone bad, the other thought it looked like they were pounding on a bicycle. I asked the witnesses if they thought my assailants were stopping, or if the assailants only stopped because the witnesses pulled over. Both of them were pretty sure it was the latter, and that the beating would have continued otherwise. One thing I had known but I don't think I've blogged about it -- it turns out that one of the suspects was already awaiting trial for attempted homicide, which involved the use of a gun.

Already I felt pretty relieved that nothing worse happened to me, but now I'm rather astounded at my "good fortune." Reviewing all my lucky breaks:

1. The two witnesses came by when they did to stop the attack. If they had shown up a minute or two earlier, they might only have seen me talking with my assailants. Had they come by a couple of minutes later, I might have been more seriously injured, &/or the assailants would have been long gone.

2. The only thing stolen was my wallet. True, I don't like being out the cash that was in my wallet, and it's a pain to cancel my credit cards and get a new driver's license, but they could have actually used the credit cards, and they could have stolen my car.

3. Despite being beaten, I had no additional broken bones or bruises -- my injuries were consistent enough with being punched out and landing on my left side to support the assumptions I had made about only being punched once and then falling to the ground (though the amount of abrasions on my left side did seem to be a little more than I would have expected).

4. I have no memory of the beating. I don't know whether it's because I blocked it out, or that I was rendered unconscious with the first punch, but whichever it is, I don't think there's any benefit to have that trauma be part of my memory (other than a generalized desire to have my memories intact).

5. The police were out in massive force that night, enabling a fast response to the 911 call, and the arrest of the two suspects.

6. It appears that I'll have no permanent injuries, and if I do, they will be comparatively minor. All that's lingering (beyond another month or so for the two broken bones to completely finish healing) is some numbness in three teeth due to the damaged nerve. All the feeling in the other numbed teeth has returned. One of the three feels 90% of the way back, and the other two are well over 50% of the way back. There's a very good chance that all feeling will return.

At the moment, the trial is scheduled for the start of October, which seems pretty quick to me, being only three months after the attack. I'm a little nervous about having to testify, but regardless, I'm happy that it'll be so soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sisyphus was an Environmentalist

I came out of L'Enfant Plaza under the overpass, and as I approached the street I saw three plastic bags, the smiley face with "Have a Nice Day" on it. Unused, just lying there, probably from a roll of them. I started to go past them, but I couldn't, so I doubled back and picked them up. Got to the street and as soon as I took a left, I saw two more bags, so I bent over and picked them up as well. Walked a little further and saw about two dozen of them against a construction fence, just cursed and walked by.

At day's end, I did pick up another bag that was still lying there, but most of the others were out of reach, on the other side of that construction fence.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Maine Vignette No. 4

A Milestone Reached

Brief naps after the wedding on Friday provide insufficient rest after Thursday night's drama, so we head to bed fairly early, especially knowing we want to hit the road early the next morning. Unfortunately, around 11pm, Emelia is back up complaining of a tummy ache, crying out "Poopy!" just as she did the night before. Her cries don't reach the level that they did the previous night, but all the same, it takes over two hours for her to start feeling better. A little after 1am, she asks for some milk, so I get up to prepare some for her. As the milk is warming, she gets up out of the bed where she's been lying next to Kathy, and starts playing in the kitchen. When the milk is ready, she drinks it all up, and seems quite content.

Then I tell her it's time for bed, and she starts screaming. She continues to cry when I put her back in her crib, and she even screams. As tired as I feel, I figure I might be able to sleep through the noise. She cries out, "Mommy!" several times, and gets no response. Then she cries out "Up Please!" but no one gets her. Then she cries, "Poopy!" several times, and Kathy gets up.

"Put her down!" I hiss. "Don't you see what she's doing?"

There's a pause, and Kathy puts her back down. Kathy wants to comfort her baby, and she can't be sure that she isn't genuinely hurt. I'm figuring it's manipulation pure and simple, but even if it isn't -- we can't stop the hurt, but sleep can. The screams return, but within 20 minutes she's sound asleep, and shortly after that we are too.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I am not a Vegetarian

Almost three months ago, Kathy and I decided to try becoming vegetarians, primarily for the reason that it's better for the environment. In the time since then, we haven't bought any meat for home consumption. We've still eaten some meat at home -- we weren't going to throw out the meat in the freezer or pantry, but the supply there is dwindling (and it's not like there was that much to begin with). We're learning as we go -- we've found a veggie burger that we both like, Kathy is experimenting with all sort of new grains (quinoa being the one she's used the most, but tonight she offered up a stew with amaranth, "forbidden rice," millet, and wheat berries in addition to corn, white rice, and quinoa), and we're both cooking some with tofu (Kathy more than me) .

Also generally speaking, we haven't ordered meat when eating out. Some of our favorite cuisines -- Thai, Pakistani/Indian, Vietnamese, and of course pizza -- provide ample vegetarian alternatives, so we've had no trouble on that end. We've had Turkish/Lebanese a couple of times, and found lots of vegetarian mezza. About the only time we've been eating meat other than finishing up our supply at home is when we've been traveling. Our trips to Hilton Head and Maine included meat consumption, as did our stints in Connecticut. In the case of the former, it would have been difficult to do so when we were in a house full of meat eaters and we were eating communally (similar when we were with Connecticut). In the case of Maine, there weren't many options available to us, particularly given that our kitchen was essentially unusable. Plus, when they're offering up Maine lobster at the wedding, it would have been hard to say no.

At this point, our approach is that we're not hard-core vegetarians, and we don't want to inconvenience others, and, to a lesser extent, ourselves. So although we don't consider ourselves vegetarians, we're eating a tiny fraction of the meat we used to.

Little steps.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Maine Vignette No. 3

Kilts on Parade

Tom ordered a kilt to wear for his wedding. When it arrived a couple of weeks before we drove to Maine, he and Anna dropped by with him wearing it, and Kathy thought I'd look good in one. So she immediately ordered one for me. Anna and Tom were being married by a Cecil, a friend of theirs, so they ordered him one. And Tom's best friend Troy had to get one.

When we got up there, Gene saw Troy wearing his when we went out on Sunday night and thought he should get one. Then he promptly forgot about it. Until Tuesday night. Wednesday he ordered a kilt, and they were able to overnight it from Seattle to the little coastal town in Maine where we were.

So the five of us wore kilts for the wedding.

Cecil, Troy, Tom, Gene, and Me