Thursday, May 22, 2008

Full of it...

... the bot that is. Gah!! I woke up Saturday feeling like crap and was really annoyed... I had plans for the weekend to get stuck into some sewing. I moaned and grumped for a while then collapsed on the couch for two days... yuck! Monday and Tuesday were both spent at home, no way was I working feeling like crap!
I went back into work yesterday feeling a lot better but still not 100%. I've been hacking anf coughing away, I hope it doesn't take too long to shake this off!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Early morning antics

I was fast asleep... deep, deep sleep.... when... WAWAAWAAWAAAWAAAAAA!!!!

A bloody alarm sounded somewhere nearby. After a few seconds it stopped and I figured someone must have tripped a car alarm. Then... WAWAAWAAWAAAWAAAAAA!!!! It went off again... and stopped... and went.... and stopped.... Tommy woke up and cussed and after a few more repeats we were both cussing....grrrrr! It was 2:45am for goodness sake!! Tom got up saying he was going to do something about it.... not quite sure what, but we sure as heck weren't going to sleep with that racket going on!

I crawled across the bed and peered out the window to see if I could spot where the offending vehicle was but the noise seemed to be coming from further up the street. It was at that point something caught my eye, a flashing light. I could see through the small window above the bed that it was the alarm unit on my elderly neighbour’s house. I called out to Tom as I quickly hauled on trackpants and a sweatshirt... "It's Eunice's house alarm!"

"Has she gone away?" Tom asked as we both ran to Eunice's gate.
"Not that I know of...."

I helped Tom unlock the gate in the dark. "Do you think I should call the police?"
Tom nodded and went to check out the house. I ran back to our place and called 111. When my call was answered I explained the situation and stayed on the phone until Tom came back. He wasn't able to see anything, no apparent break in, but could hear a radio going inside. "I'm going to break a window to get in, she might be having a heart attack or a stroke!"

I relayed this to the phone operator who said they had a car on the way. When I asked if we should break in the advice I got wasn't particularly clear "Well someone might have to... there's a car on the way"

Tom swore when I relayed this to him... "She could be bloody dying in there! I'm going to break a window to get in!"
The police operator said they would end the call now but we should call back if the situation changed. We both ran back over to Eunice's and I started banging on the door and calling out.

Tom found a rock... "Don't break the door, there's another door inside the porch that might be locked, you'd have to break that too."

I was starting to feel quite panicked by this stage, what if she was lying inside needing help?

We both looked at a little window next to the deck... "Fûck it" Tom said raising the rock.... and paused... "Hang on... I think the porch light just came on, that wasn't on before was it?"
I shook my head, and as I turned to bang on the door again Eunice's head looked out through the inner door.

As she let us in she told us she couldn't turn the alarm off. Eunice's hearing isn't so great and she'd initially thought the siren was on the radio which she had going next to the bed. She hadn't heard Tom banging on the door initially and was a bit bewildered.

After both of us trying to punch in the alarm code unsuccessfully, we asked her what alarm company it was. "There's a sticker on the door...." she said.
By this time another neighbour had arrived. Tom found the company name and Eunice pulled out her phone book. I found the number and dialled.... bloody answer phone!! Never mind, there was a mobile number to contact so I tried that. A groggy voice answered and I explained the alarm was going and we couldn't shut it off. Eventually we established there was a manual override key to turn off the outdoor sirens. Eunice found the key and we got those shut off, at least it wasn't continuing to keep the whole neighbourhood awake any more! The indoor unit however was still emitting a very loud, shrill bleep constantly. The guy on the phone explained that the battery unit might have failed and we'd need to open the unit to disconnect it.

The police had arrived by now and poor Eunice was a bit shaky... "I'm going to call Ian, he'll come around and fix it". I tried to tell her that she didn't need to call him and we would get her sorted out - I figured there wasn't much point in waking more people up! While I was talking to the police and relaying the instructions from alarm guy Eunice did call Ian though. I can't really blame her, I think by now she really needed someone familiar to comfort her.

Tom went to get a screwdriver and the police, having ensured no-one was in danger, left us to it, as did the other neighbour. Tom opened up the control unit and removed the battery... nothing happened initially.... but then finally the piercing bleeping ceased! My poor ears were thankful!!

We put the jug on for a cup of tea... this was well needed by this stage. Tom went back home to warm the bed back up for me and I waited with Eunice until Ian arrived. She was worried that this incident will be used against her, “They’ll say this is another reason why I should move!”. I tried to tell her that it wouldn’t have mattered if she did live elsewhere, the alarm would still have failed – it was nothing to do with whether she is capable of living alone or not!

We poured a cuppa when Ian arrived and I explained to him what had happened. He will get someone in to replace the battery and give the whole system a look over. Eventually things settled down so I gave Eunice a hug and went back home.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep the rest of the night as my brain was working overtime but I must have managed about an hour or so because eventually another alarm woke me – the clock radio… at least this one was not unexpected!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

World Belly Dance Day

Who'd have thought such a thing existed?
I celebrated by going to a Drum and Dance Jam organised by my teacher. It was a fun afternoon! When we arrived there was no power as linesmen were working outside on the street but that didn’t slow us down at all! The music ran off a battery pack and there were plenty of drummers. It was a great opportunity to get into costume and dance in an informal setting.
There were also a few stalls selling jewellery, costumes and doing henna tattoos. Danger, Danger!! Temptations!! I did score a few really good bargains without doing too much damage to my wallet!
I had worn my “new” tribal outfit to see what people thought. I got loads of compliments on it so I guess I don’t have too much more to add to it! I was really pleased to hear it looked good!
I forgot to pack the camera so no photos at this stage… maybe next time!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Civic Duty

Last week it was my turn to have a crack at Jury Service. The last time I was selected I wasn't able to go as I was away on holiday for the first day or so and because of that I was excused from turning up.
The time before that I was horrified to see people that could not even follow simple instructions were able to sit in judgement of others. Two initial jury panels were balloted from all those who had turned up. I was in the first group. We were introduced to our court attendant, Cheryl, and we were told we'd be going to Court 10 with the attendant once the trial was ready to proceed. The second group was to go with another attendant, Joanne, to Court 4. Our attendants went to check on whether the courts were ready while we helped ourselves to a cuppa. When they came back the two groups filed off with their respective attendants except once we arrived at court 10 and Cheryl did a head count, there were too many people.
"Okay folks, my name is Cheryl and we are in court number 10. Are you all supposed to be here?" Cheryl was greeted with nods, mutters and blank stares but everyone seemed to think they were in the right place. The only way to resolve this was for us all to stand and then as our name was called to sit again. Two people remained standing.... "I'm sorry but you two are not on my list. What court number were you told to go to folks?"...... " Numba 4"... Oh dear!! If they couldn't manage to get into the right courtroom how the hell should they be expected to concentrate through a whole trial??
I wondered if it was really true... that the people that show up for jury service are the ones that are too stupid to get out of it?! I resolved then and there that I as far as possible I should do my duty and attend Jury Service whenever I was called up!
As it turned out I was not selected for that particular jury and didn't make it onto another panel. On the Tuesday when I arrived we were split into two groups, one to come the following day and the others to show up on Thursday. When I arrived on Thursday they didn't need any more juries for the week so I was sent away again.
This time however I got to see a bit more action!
First off the bus system! I was able to make use of the new expressway so after a short walk down to the closest staion I was able to catch a bus for a short, fifteen minute trip into the city... I couldn't beleive how easy it was! Totally painless!
I was selected for a jury panel and shuffled off to the courtroom for the selection process. The charges were read out to the defendant and they involved several counts of sexual content with a minor. They are really quite graphic when the charges are read and specific deatil was given... cringe... I really didn't want to hear any more detail about this and my stomach churned as my name was called and I made my way to the jury box. Just as I was about to sit down the defendant's lawyer called out "Challenge!". Phew! That meant I wasn't to sit on this particular jury! Amen to that! Once the jury selection was over the rest of us went back to the waiting area where we were eventually excused for the rest of the day.
The bus trip back again impressed me even more than the one in. Buses leaving the city centre for my stop every 15 minutes! A far cry from the bad old days when I first started working in Auckland!
The next day I was selected for another panel but the trial wouldn't go ahead until closer to lunchtime so we were excused for an hour or so under instructions to be back by 11:15.... woohoo! Shopping!!
I had a bit of a wander around Queen St and then went back to the courts and waited... and waited... until about 12:30 when we were told the trial wasn't ready to go yet and we could wander off again as long as we were back by 2:00. I went out again but only long enough to find a bite to eat. Tramping about the inner city wasn't so much fun any more so I went back to the assembly room and filled in time "dancing" my belly dance solo and developing it some more... in my head not for real! Eventually we were called through to the courtroom. As they read out the charges for this case I cringed again... another sexual case, this time with even more counts to plead to, I lost count after 10! Oh God please don't let me get into this jury! As the names came out of the barrel the seats slowly filled up. There weren't so many challenges in this case but I held my breath until the last seat was filled... thankfully mine didn't come out of the barrel at all. It was late in the afternoon by this stage so once again we were excused for the day.
On the Wednesday morning I was selected in another panel. Again the case wasn't ready to start so we were excused for an hour or so. This time I didn't bother leaving the building. It was cold outdoors and I was over the idea of inner city shopping! Eventually we were called through to the court and this time I actually made it into the jury. The charge in this trial was aggravated robbery, committed in 2006. Once we'd selected a foreman the trial began with the first witness. When we broke for lunch I felt as though I needed a spell from the city, the noise and rushing about was doing my head in! I grabbed a bun from a sandwich bar and found my way into a small park behind St Patricks Cathedral.... ah!! that was better, it seemed a lot less stressed there than anywhere else I'd been in the last couple of days!
When it was time to get back to business we were ushered back into the retiring room. There was a bit of discussion over the evidence we'd heard so far but this was to fill in time as yet again it seemed we were waiting and waiting to be called back into the court. The time for the afternoon session came and went as we chatted out the back... waiting!! Then... once we were seated back in the court the judge told us there had been a development, and the nature of it would become clear soon enough. With that the registrar stood and read the charges out again and the defendant plead guilty!! Good Lord!! After all the waiting about and finally getting onto a jury, and more waiting about, the bugger had denied me the chance to see out the trial! No verdict required!! He was soooo guilty and he knew it. I reckon the only reason he changed his plea was in the hope of a lesser sentence, which, by the way won't be decided until the end of June! Gah!
Still, after that we were excused for the rest of the week. They had already selected panels for the remaining trials that week so we were no longer required... So that was the end of that... until the next call up!!