Monday, October 01, 2012

Scraps of Mid-September

Sept 13, 2012

Some rain, some sun, hot some days, cool others. After dryness and more heat than usual, this September is turning out to be fairly ordinary, at in terms of the weather outside my door.

The gas bill came today. For the period August 10 to September 10, the charge for the natural gas itself was $7.50 – 19.22 therms at 39 cents each. The FAQ section at the U.S. Energy Information Agency reminds me, because I’d forgotten, that a therm equals 100,000 Btus. So we used nearly 2M Btus over 30 days to heat our water and cook some food. For some reason, the thought of using a few million of anything makes me smile.

That’s not the majority of the bill, however. Delivery charges were $14.40, or nearly twice as much as the gas charge. Guess it’s worth it. Natural gas would be a little tricky to pick up and take home yourself.

On the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend, I had jury duty. I have a receipt now to prove that I showed up, as summoned, at the downtown location of the Circuit Court of Cook County on August 29, 2012, and received $17.20 for my trouble. (Almost enough to pay the gas bill.) And what did I do? I read a book and worked on an article on my laptop.

I got a panel number and sat in the non-TV side of the large waiting room and waited. As the morning stretched on, other panel numbers were called and people left the room to report to their judges, but my number wasn’t called. I read 1493 by Charles Mann, an engrossing book about the Columbian Exchange. I worked on my monthly CRE tech article. I waited.

Lunch came and went – there’s a really good pita place, aptly called Pita Express, in the food court of the State of Illinois building (Thompson Center) – and by about 3, only a few of us were left uncalled. The woman in charge of the room then said, “You’ve done your jury duty, come collect your checks.” That was that.

A quote from The New York Times a little while ago, in the obit for actor William Windom:

“While stationed in Frankfurt, during the postwar Allied occupation, [Windom] enrolled in the new Biarritz American University in France and became involved in drama there. ‘To be honest, I signed up because I thought it would be an easy touch,’ he told The New York Times in an interview for this obituary in 2009, ‘and we had heard that actresses had round heels.’ ”

Round heels. There’s some slang you don’t see often any more. Maybe that's just as well, but I still enjoy running across old slang in new articles.

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