19 November 2014

I found the Black Box! (or rather, it found me)

I signed up for a Black Box many moons ago. To be honest, my expectations with receiving one is not high, mainly because I do not have much luck with such things. So imagine my surprise when I received an email saying that I have been chosen for a Men and Adult Snacking Black Box, and one turned up at our doorstep shortly!  It sure was a pleasant surprise.
The box was quite heavy.  I secretly wished there was beer inside.
Oooh, wraps!  My wife was delighted to see that.
Underneath the wraps were more goodies.  And I saw a beer bottle!  Yay!

01 October 2014

The Silver Bullet and the case of selective amnesia



I had the good fortune of watching the movie adaptation of Stephen King's The Silver Bullet a couple of nights ago.  It's been a while since I first watched this film; in fact I was still in high school back then!  But I consider this as one of my favourite films so I was truly delighted to be able to watch this again after so many years.

I think that one of the more memorable parts of the film is the main character's wheelchair.  Marty (played by Corey Haim)  owns this souped up wheelchair that runs like a motorbike.  Motorised wheelchairs are a rate sight in my hometown back in the Philippines so I think this is why this image stuck.  I also remember the main plot (and who the killer was!), the scene at the abandoned bridge, the fireworks, and the action-packed ending.  How the story unravels itself is the hazy part.

As the movie progressed, I was mildly surprised at how much of the film I forgot (considering it's one of my favourites!).  I do not remember it being as blood-and-gore graphic as it was.  Selective amnesia?  It was like my mind decided to keep the parts which involved road chases and explosions.  Not sure where the bloody bits went off to.  It may very well be likely that I had my hands clasped tightly over my eyes at those times!

But what an enjoyable trip to memory lane it was!  I felt the same sense of wonder when Marty got his new 'motorbike' (aptly named the Silver Bullet), and elation when the killer was discovered.  It's good old storytelling without the CGI.  Admittedly, I've never read the book from which this movie was based on, but when I hear the name 'Stephen King' it's this movie that always comes to mind.

If you like watching werewolf movies, this one is an easy pick and fun to watch (not too serious with itself, and who doesn't love an 80s flick?!)  And the effects are not too shabby.

Now, to get my hands on another Stephen King movie adaptation, 'Christine'...

(image credit: movie poster from dvdactive.com, Marty on the Silver Bullet from disabilitymovies.com)


09 September 2014

Happy 10.16th Anniversary (to me!)

This is quite a momentous occasion because it's been ten years since I started blogging!  Well, ten years and 2 months give or take a few days in this case.  Exactly a month after my 10th (my first post got published on 7th July) I said I was going to celebrate.  Nothing fancy, just a couple of beers perhaps, and post a photo for posterity's sake.  And then time just flew, and before I know it, 2 months has passed.  Hence I'm writing this post to remind myself that a celebration is way overdue!  I have a couple of Guiness bottles in the ref, so this makes my weekend celebration more likely to happen.

28 July 2014

Call of Duty. Jury duty, that is.


It came as a surprise when I received my summons. After all, a number of friends have been in New Zealand longer than I have, and yet they've never been summoned! I would just like to share my experience in case you get your summons and wonder what it is about. While the website explaining the jury process is quite comprehensive, I do not see much in the way of narrating personal experiences, save for anecdotes.  So here's mine.

To be honest I was excited to do jury duty because it's something I've never done before. But people who I asked about it said that those who do jury duty are usually the unemployed because it's extra income for them. However, that did not deter me from asking our office if I can perform jury duty and our HR Manager told me to go for it and do our bit for the country!

While only 12 are needed, the court summons more than twice the number. In the court room, the charges are announced and how long the trial will take. Names are then drawn via ballot. If your name is called you stand up and proceed to the jury chairs. At this stage the lawyers can challenge you. No, there'll be no fistfights and such. They'll just say 'challenge' and that's the end of your duty. You go back to the audience chamber. There's quite a bit of suspense as each name is called and you wonder if they will be challenged or not. Once the person sits on a jury chair, he/she can no longer be challenged.

A couple of people from my group actually approached the judge and then, after a brief discussion, they returned to their seat. And that's that. I guess they asked to be excused, which can be granted if there is a perceived conflict of interest based on the trial that was read earlier.

 With my rotten luck at raffles and anything involving winning anything, I just sat there and expected to be back at work by lunchtime. But it seems the Fates had something else in mind as I got called and was unchallenged.

The day of a juror is spent mostly sitting at the courtroom and listening and pondering on the cross examination. I guess you can react to the drama unfolding before your eyes but the lawyers would keep looking your way, perhaps gauging if the proceeding is going for or against them so I tried to keep a passive 'what are you looking at?' face. I'm sure most of my fellow jurors were doing the same. Speaking of which, my companions were of varied backgrounds and everyone held full-time jobs, so that debunks the unemployed impression! We had some pretty good discussions between breaks and everyone got along quite well. We're a lucky bunch, said one juror, because she had done duty years ago and they could not agree with one another and was quite a mess, as I can imagine.

Note that you have to bring your own lunch (or eat out). Coffee, tea, and biscuits are provided for morning and afternoon tea.

At the end of the cross examinations, we were told to stay in the jury room and deliberate on the counts. We had to be unanimous on our guilty or not guilty verdict. I actually thought we were going to be holed up in a hotel room somewhere, never leaving until we reach a decision and getting food to order like they do in the movies. But it did not work out that way. We stayed in the room where we adjourn, with our phones confiscated for the day. Lunch was provided though, so that's one less thing to worry about. And we went home in the evening.

After reading the verdict on the final day, we all went to a local pub for drinks and chitchat, then it was back to normalcy. We had a great run. Wish I asked if they have Twitter accounts.

My overall experience: certainly thought-provoking and insightful. I recommend anyone who receive their summons to give it a go (provided your work schedule permits you!)

There are only 2 downsides I can think of:
- the jury seats are not comfy. After a couple of hours, we tend to squirm around. It was a topic in a couple of our tea breaks. We think it is designed to prevent the jurors from falling asleep.  Good thing there's the lunch break, and morning and afternoon tea.  It breaks up the day's session quite nicely.
- You can't tell anyone about the case, not even your significant other. You also should not read write-ups about it, lest it influences your decision-making. You should base it on the evidence supplied in court. It was a bit challenging not to disclose to friends what the case is about, but I guess it's for the best.


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