This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I had a somber and sobering day Monday.
My family was in LA for our annual California trip. Katheryn and I had planned on visiting Rose Hill on Monday morning. That's where my grandmother is buried. About a month ago, I learned that one of my graduate school friends was also buried at Rose Hill. I got in touch with her husband who had put up a beautiful dedication web site for her.
Rose Hill is a beautiful place. It's a very tall hill and it's very easy to get lost. I always take a GPS just in case. The combination of driving up the main swerving road and searching for my grandmother's gravesite always gives the experience a journey-like feel. I think I know exactly where things are... then I find myself lost in the slopes somewehere.
My graduate school friend is on the other side of the hill; I had never had a reason to drive all the way up the hill. Another journey, another find, another pause, another set of memories.
Later that day, I check my email and learn that a work friend had died in a car wreck. He and his family were returning from a river trip when their minivan was hit by a truck that had swerved into their lane after losing a tire. He and two of his daughters died in the accident. A third daughter later died at the hospital. His wife is now recovering at the hospital with their 4th daughter. A fifth daughter has been released from the hospital and staying with a friend of the family.
I had never worked on a client project with Gary Galle. He and I did work on several proposals and various small projects over the many years we were both at Andersen, then KPMG Consulting, then BearingPoint. He was a good man who often talked about his family. I think he was the rare breed in consulting who strived to keep things simple. The last several years have been tough for the world of consultants, with increasing demands, shifts in marketplace dynamics, and of course, the continuous RIFs (reduction in force). Gary survived this crazy consulting world, through the collapse of Andersen, through-out-of-town projects, through changes in management and companies. I hate the cliche, but he really was a team player, always ready to lend a hand. He didn't ask, "what do I get from this?", he was always ready to contribute.
I've been getting some updates that are being sent to colleagues. A memorial service is being planned.
On the Friday before July 4th this year, I received a Jury Summons.
This is the 3rd or 4th one I've received since I've been eligible. I served on a Jury back in 1995 involving a criminal case. If I remember correctly, it was county case, and only called for 6 jurors. The jurors selected me as foreman. The case involved a DWI and a possession of weapon charges. We convicted him of the weapons charge, but not the DWI. I was very proud to serve on that jury.
We've all heard the stories of "juries gone wild" or our friends and colleagues speaking of jury duty like getting teeth pulled. I have always secretly disliked such comments. No, our jury system is not the model of efficiency. And yes, bad guys try to take advantage of the system. And it's expensive, uncomfortable, inconvenient, boring, mind-numbing, frustrating... and that's just the 1st hour as you try to figure out where to park and sign in. Perhaps I had a unique experience; I felt that my fellow jurors were careful, honorable, thoughtful, truthful... It was two days of seeing first-hand one element of this American experiment.
If you are a citizen of the US, you have a duty to serve. For me, as a naturalized citizen, I explicitly gave my word during the modest ceremony with my parents across the desk from a immigration officer in some forgotten downtown Houston office. Not sure if the oath has changed since I took it, but here is the current oath from here.
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
Some big words for a 9th grader to spit out. But I knew clearly what I was doing, and what I was signing up for. So I will go to my summons.
I may not like the lawyers or the processes around handling the prospective jurors. But on that day, I will not be the business process consultant. I can be that on many days.