The thrill of being a juror

There is a very good chance that it will happen to each and every one of us at some point in our lives. You go to check the mail and there is a summons notice to report for jury duty on a particular day. At least this is the case if you happen to live in the United States. In most cases, court cases are decided by everyday, ordinary people. You are asked to report so the judges and attorneys have good pool of people to pick from for their cases. A majority of people who are asked to report for jury duty are not picked to become a juror. In fact, I believe most people would rather not become a juror. It can really mess up a person’s daily routine of work, taking care of their families and other things that are important to them. About a month ago, I was one of those lucky? people who got that dreaded summons in the mail and I would like to share my experience.

When I received my notice for jury duty, I was very upset because my date just so happened to fall on one of my many vacation days during the summer. I was not happy because I had planned a trip a few months in advance and the reporting date really threw a wrench in my plans. Fortunately, I was given a new date to report after asking for a new report date. The day finally arrived when I was to show up to show at our county judicial building. I was perfectly relaxed and fully not expecting to be on a case. It was my expectations that I would be released and I would not have to worry about reporting again for a while. When I arrived, I was led to a large jury room where I joined around 70-80 in waiting for the next step. I was told upon arriving that there would be 2 trials going on, 7 jurors for each trial. So the odds of getting to be a juror on each of these trials were still slim; less than 20 percent.

The moment arrived when an official from the court, read off the names of approximately 30 people who were to report  for consideration on these trials. Half of the group was to be led to one courtroom, the other half to another courtroom. There the jurors were to be picked for each trial. My name just happened to get called. My heart started to race with excitement. The chances of getting on a case and becoming a juror dramatically jumped to around 50 percent.

In the courtroom, my group of 15 were asked questions by the judges and attorneys mainly about our thoughts and opinions on topics related to the case. For example, since this was a civil case involving a car accident, we each asked individually on our opinions about chiropractic care versus medical care. Did we have a certain bias towards any? Other questions were personal such as our educational background and whether we were married and had any children. I have to admit that it was rather intimidating speaking in front of the attorneys and judges. I tried to be as honest and direct as possible.

Finally it came down to the moment when the 7 jurors were picked. My name was called as one of the jurors. I could not believe what I was going through!! For years, I had watch many trials on television shows; now was about to get a real life experience of being a part of a trial. Just a few hours ago, I had about a 15 percent chance of becoming a juror, now it was 100 percent!!

At the beginning of the trial, the judge gave us very specific instructions about how to conduct ourselves during the trial. We were not to talk at all about the trial to anyone or post anything on social media pertaining to the trial. It was not exactly a high-profile trial so that temptation never existed. The trial last about 2 days with both the defense and the plaintiff doing a great job on trying to persuade us to see the case through their eyes. It was a rather short but intense trial with that left us with many things to ponder and consider. My mind kept racing back and forth during the trial. On the second day, I started to form a strong opinion and never wavered from it. Both sides finally rested their cases and it was time for us to head to a special room for deliberations. Here I was in a room with 6 total strangers deciding the fate of a couple of people that could have a lifetime of lasting consequences for them. Thankfully, we pretty much saw eye to eye on a number of things and the deliberations only lasted about an hour. I was fortunate enough to be on a great group of jurors. After our decision was made, we were escorted to the courtroom were the verdict was read. And that was it! It was finally over; my first experience as a juror had just ended.

As I was walking back to my car, I couldn’t help to think about those jurors who get stuck on far lengthier trials such as many criminal cases. The sacrifices they have to make are totally amazing. My little sacrifice of missing a few days of work is nothing compared to what they have to go through. And imagine trying to make a decision about whether a person should be locked away in prison? Unless it is very clear-cut that a defendant is clearly guilty, that would weigh on me for the rest of my life!

The experience that went through last week is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I would not hesitate to do it again. Being part of a jury is something that I am very proud of doing. While our judicial system is not perfect, it is still the best in the world and it was an honor to recently be part of that system and perform my civic duty as an American.

Will Tiger Woods ever be great again?

One the biggest story lines coming out this weekend’s PGA tournament in Whistling Straits is yet another missed cut for Tiger Woods. If you’re keeping score at home, that is now 3 straight missed cuts in majors for Woods who is now ranked 278th in the official world rankings after being the top golfer in the world for so many years. His downfall has been absolutely shocking. If someone would have told me about 7 years ago that Woods would be the 278th ranked golfer in the world on August 16th 2015, I would have asked what drugs he or she is on. Back then, Tiger could probably play left-handed and still be in the top 100. It was not a question on whether Woods could break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major champion wins, but rather when. He dominated the sport in a 10 year stretch that few golfers ever have. I have never seen in all my years of watching sports such a high-profile athlete fall like Woods has.

So what is the problem with Woods? Why has he fallen so dramatically? These questions get constantly asked by the golf pundits. The Golf Channel’s crew at the PGA spent a considerable amount of time talking about Tiger’s game and whether he will ever win another major. The consenus of many in the gold world is that Woods is finished as being a top flight golfer and will be just another regular average golfer from now on. As a fan of the sport and player, I am definitely in the minority in saying that Woods still has some bullets left in his gun; he is not finished by any means. It would not shock me in the least to see him rise back again to a high level and possible win a few more majors.

There has been a lot of talk about Woods having multiple swing coaches during his career and whether that is really a good thing for him or any golfer. My question is why change a good thing? Even when Woods was dominating and hitting the ball well, he was constantly changing his coaches. He had some of the best coaches in the game. Apparently, Woods is one of these guys who can never be satisfied with his golf swing. Perhaps he was and is still too much of a perfectionist. A good golf swing should be a simple natural motion. No matter how ugly it may look, the only thing that matters is for consistent results. Woods needs to go back to Butch Harmon and get his swing straightened out.

Sure, Woods at times has had problems with his swing but in order for him to really achieve greatness again, his short game really has to come around. During his glory days, Tiger used to be money on those clutch short putts. Nowadays, he is really struggling to make anything! Forget about fixing his swing, if his putting and chipping do not improve, Woods will definitely not come back and win anything. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a 20 handicapped golfer when I see Woods trying to chip the ball or ball out of a bunker. It is even more shocking to see him struggle in that part of the game as opposed to swing.

Many people who cover golf fail to mention the effect of his injuries in recent years. A back problem is very toxic to any level golfer. Woods has battled back issues in recent years and that could be why he has suddenly dropped off. It appears that Woods is recovering nicely from those injuries and that may be key in helping him regain his winning ways. I doubt any golfer with back issues can play at a high level. The margin of error in golf these days is just too small. There are just too many good players, especially younger players. His injuries are definitely a reason that he has fallen so dramatically.

Whether you like or hate Woods, you have to admit that his return to greatness would be huge for the world of golf. Imagine a major with him, Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy competing for the title? It would create interest that golf has never seen. I still believe it will happen eventually. Sure Woods will be turning 40 this year, but let’s not write his obituary just yet. If anyone can come back, it’s Woods. He still has a little bit of gas left in his tank to compete at a high level and beat some of the young phenoms in golf. He may not dominate golf again like he used to, but he could soon be a strong contender in many tournaments.

A great test for marriage compatibility

Every so often in this blog, I like to put my Dr. Phil hat on and dive into relationship issues. The great thing about discussing these issues is that many people can relate to these topics and can add their 2 cents to the discussion. One of the biggest relationship topics is the subject of compatibility between couples and whether they are compatible long-term. Obviously there are some very basic factors involved that show whether a couple has the potential to be together for life such as having common values and backgrounds, but those things are only part of the equation. Perhaps that supposedly wonderful person who you are currently dating has a terrible temper that you are not aware of. Just because both of you go to church on Sunday doesn’t mean that you are both right for each other. Maybe one of you is very poor in dealing with money and that has the potential to cause many troubles in a marriage. If I was to ever marry someone, I would really want to really know that person and there is no better way of doing that than going on a nice long road trip across the country with my potential partner, just her and I.

I don’t really believe that hooking up on the weekend to see a movie, sporting event or movie is a true test of compatibility. Sure we may have a great time together, but is there any real stress in doing those things together outside of the fact that parking may be an issue? Both the guy and gal are probably in their own little comfort zones in doing those things. After a few hours, the date is over and quite often, both people go back to their respective homes alone. In fact, some people are actually relieved the date is over for a variety of reasons. Their mate is driving them crazy that evening with constant complaining about work or something of that nature. They just need to escape. Or maybe the guy wants to watch that big ballgame on television and went on the date just to score some brownie points with his gal.

Now imagine going on a nice long road trip via a car? I mean car, not flying somewhere or taking a train. There is plenty of time for long meaningful discussions where you can really get to the know the other person. If the other person dominates the conversations and only talks about themselves, a red flag should immediately put up. That shows that they only care about themselves and are very selfish. On the other hand, showing concern about the other person by getting them to talk and asking questions about themselves is a great sign. I have met a few women in my life who are very poor at this. They blabber and complain about meaningless stupid things and that is a real turnoff to me and many guys.

On long road trips, both people are totally outside their own comfort zones in many ways. The beds are not the same at home, the food can be rather dicey and general fatigue can a huge issue. I know that I speak for a lot of people in saying that long travel makes me very crabby!! In many situations, I can deal with it because I am alone. Now throw in a women who will not stop complaining about that cock roach found in last night’s hotel room and that is a perfect spark to cause me to have a mental breakdown!! If I really love my woman, I will put up with her. The point that I am trying to make is that most long trips involve some or a lot of adversity and how you treat each other in those times of adversity can be a great test of true compatibility. Suppose the car breaks down somewhere in the middle of nowhere. How is this situation being handled? A guy who puts the needs and welfare of his gal first is a total keeper.

When the trip is finally over and both of you are just itching to go on another road trip together, that is a great sign that there is strong marriage potential between both of you. On the other hand, if you feel like you just got out of jail when the trip is over, I question whether there is any true compatibility. Signs of self centeredness and extreme tempers should be deep causes for concern. Being together for so long on a long road trip can really expose your partner for the fraud that they really are. Or it may just reaffirm what a wonderful a person they are. Forget about marriage counseling or filling out some long questionnaire about whether you are compatible with each other. There is no substitute for being together in sometimes less than ideal conditions on a long road trip.

Rhonda Rousey, an athlete who may be just too good for her sport

Every so often, an athlete comes along who totally dominates his or her sport. They are thought to be the best the sport has ever produced and automatically the talk centers around who will become the next so and so. In an individual sport like boxing or mix martial arts, the topic is always on who will knock off the champ. Very seldom in this day and age does someone dominate these sports for a long period of time; there is always someone younger and better waiting in the wings. When you talk about Rhonda Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion, you have to wonder whether that will actually happen. Is there somebody out there who can challenge Rousey and beat her?

In her last 3 fights, Rousey has won by either TKO or submissions in a combined time of 64 seconds, yes 64 seconds!! That is an average time of 21.333 seconds per fight for all you math majors out there. In fact, 9 of her 12 fights have not even lasted a minute! That is totally unreal!! The argument can made that Rousey may be the dominant athlete to ever participate in any team or individual sport, male or female. How can you possible argue against her? Nobody has ever dominate their sport like Rousey has so far. She is slowly closing in on perhaps being the most popular athlete in the world. And she is a hottie to boot!!

The question I have concerning Rousey is if she is just too good. Imagine if you are in Rousey’s shoes, wouldn’t you get bored at some point and just retire? What kind of challenge is left for you? I cannot think of any woman out there who can challenge her. Just maybe someone can last 2 minutes with her!!¬† The only real challenge left for her is to fight a man, but I can’t see many men willing to step into the octagon with her. What have they to gain by doing so?

Furthermore, who in their right mind would spend 60 dollars for a pay per view fight involving Rousey? I just feel that sometimes having an athlete as dominant as Rousey can actually be unhealthy for the sport. The UFC is rapidly gaining in popularity and wouldn’t it be nice to have some big rivalries between some of the fighters? Huge rivalries create a great deal of interest in sports like boxing or MMA and having multiple rivals for Rousey could be just what the sport needs. Eventually this will more than likely happen. There has to be another Rhonda Rousey waiting in the wings who is willing to challenge her. But for the present time, I don’t see anyone who is even close to beating her. My fear is that she will retire sooner than later. What kind of motivation does she having to continue fighting when there are becoming lesser and lesser challenges to deal with?

Maybe in her next fight, Rousey can tie one of her arms behind her back to give the opponent a fair shot. That would give the opponent a shot at lasting maybe 5 minutes with her. Until then, she will just continue in her onslaught on women fighters. I am just hoping that some fighter or fighters will come along soon to give Rousey that much-needed challenge. Not only does the sport need that but Rousey does as well.

Some random thoughts on the Republican debate

I have to confess that I was one of the nearly 24 million people who decided the other night to watch the much-anticipated Republican party debate on Fox news. I also have to confess that my excitement for the debate was very much fueled by the appearance of Mr. Donald Trump; was there going to be fireworks taking place since Trump and many of the candidates seem to be at odds with each other? As it turned out, it was an excellent spirited debate which certainly did not lack in any type of drama. I enjoyed watching every minute of it. While watching the main debate along with portions of the earlier debate, a few thoughts came to mind.

1.Way too many candidates for a debate. Although I enjoyed watching the debate, having 10 candidates was way too many in my opinion. There were times when I thought half the candidates left the stage; they were not even heard from for many minutes (see Ben Carson and Ted Cruz). Furthermore, the one minute maximum time frame to give an answer is way too short. It is very difficult to really understand a certain position a candidate has when they only have a minute to explain their position or 30 seconds to reply. The presidential debates consisting of mainly 2 people are always more enticing to watch.

2. Kudos to the moderators of the event. I heard criticism from many that the questions where too hard and not fair to certain candidates. I totally disagree. The moderators asked some very difficult questions addressing some the weaknesses of the candidates. The questions should be meant to be hard and put the candidates on the spot. I have such more respect for journalists who are not afraid to ask the tough questions that need to be asked. Forget about these softball questions that are often given to people like the president.

3. Best performance of the debate. I have to give it to Carly Florina. Florina is certainly a long shot to win the nomination, but her performance was outstanding and certainly can be viewed as her coming out party. I would just love to see her and Hillary Clinton in a debate! If she doesn’t get the nomination, she would be an excellent VP choice. I was very impressed with Mike Huckabee as well. He is a very brilliant man with a great grasp of the issues. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also had an excellent debate. Both of those guys are very underrated candidates in the Republican field.

4. Donald Trump. I didn’t think Trump really hurt himself at all during the debate. Some were saying that his performance was awful and he hurt himself. I disagree. I really look forward to seeing him in future debates when he can talk more about the issues that really matter. He is not afraid to say what is on his mind and put people on the defensive. I like that in a politician.

5. No losers in the debate. I have to admit that I like certain candidates more than others, but I would not have a problem with any of the candidates getting the nomination. This is a very sold field unlike the Democratic field.

6. A telling sign that so many people tuned in. It is really amazing that so many people watched a debate in prime time during the summer. Could this be a bad sign for the Democrats? People seem to want politicians with fresh new ideas. This field had many. Sure Trump’s appearance made this more interesting to watch, but I get the feeling that the American people want someone with new and bold ideas running the country.

If you are a fan of the Republican party of even more, a conservative, how can you not be pleased with the debate? I think there are many fine candidates who are chomping at the bit to introduce themselves and their policies to the American people.

The ridiculous reaction to the killing of “Cecil the Lion”

There are many times when I think that we have lost it as a society. I read comments on the internet and think to myself, “Is that person who wrote the comment really serious?” I find it really amazing that many people seem to pick and choose what topics they are really passionate about. The story about the killing of “Cecil the Lion” is a classic example. Twitter and social media just blew up this week when it was revealed that a dentist from here in Minnesota allegedly illegally killed a wild lion in Africa. Judging from the reaction of many, it was the worst atrocity ever in the history of the world. The dentist who committed this act of evil is thought to be more evil than Adolf Hitler. How dare he kill such a beloved animal!! Many believe that he must face the same fate of the lion. Yes, many folks around the world are totally up in arms over the death of a lion. Is this really what it has come down to in our society? We are more upset with the brutal death of an animal than the brutal deaths of many humans everyday in the world. How sad!!

Sure, Cecil looks very beautiful from the outside. Lions are very beautiful creatures; I can’t argue with that. But please do not compare them to your typical pet such as a dog or your house cat. They are dangerous animals who have been known to attack and kill humans. Just a few months ago, a young 29-year-old woman named Katherine Chappell was attacked and killed by a lion in Africa. They are not the type of animals that you take home as a pet.

The sad thing about this whole outrage is the fact that many of the “Cecil bandwagon club” seem to remain awfully quiet when a human loses his or her life. This story wreaks of many double standards. About a month ago, a beautiful young woman was gunned down in San Francisco by an illegal alien who was being harbored by the city. I did not see Twitter blow to the degree that this lion story did. When 21 innocent males were savagely beheaded on a beach in the Middle East, the level of outrage in social media was again far less. Everyday in this country and the world, many beautiful babies are being aborted, yet there is no outrage over this! Why? Children are being slaughtered by terrorist groups, but some people feel it is more important to get loud and vocal about some lion getting killed. Where are people’s mindsets? How can any reasonable human being feel more passionate about the life of some wild animal than a beautiful baby? Unfortunately that is the sad reality in this world today.

Don’t get me wrong, if the dentist is found guilty, he must face the consequences of his actions. But lets not compare him to Adolf Hitler and demand that he is hanged. That talk is complete foolishness!! By the way, this dentist has actually performed free dental services to children in South Africa. He is not as evil as some people want to make him out to be. He deserves to get his say in the matter whether pitchfork nation allows him to or not.

Those who are hooting and hollering over this incident need to take a timeout, chill out and go to your room. Please take a moment to reflect on what is really important in this world today. Save your outrage over the fact that innocent children are being shot by gangs in the streets of Chicago everyday. Or many are being forced into slavery in Africa on a daily basis. Those are important things that we need to be fully outraged over. Hearing about the death of some human killing wild animal does not rank high on my list of things to be outraged over.