a.k.a, "The Dave and Katie Show"

Time again for another chapter in the never ending story of Dave "stud puppy" Dickie. It is, however, time for a little change in format. It would appear that our hero's life has become dangerously intertwined with one Katie "Macintosh Lover" Barhydt. What changes this may bring to the life, times, and /out of the latest suburban adventure tale remains to be seen....

Our last episode left Katie and I on a return flight from skiing in Utah near the end of February. It was just in time for the two of us to head for Mammoth for a three day skiing weekend. It was a wonderful trip if you enjoy sitting in a car for hours on end, staring into oncoming headlights and jabbing paper clips under your fingernails to stay awake. If your idea of fun is skiing, however, there was a minor problem called "weather". High winds at the top, and rain at the bottom, convinced Katie and me to head back for LA after skiing a single day. We did stop to hike for a couple of hours in "Red Rock Canyon," a California state park located along the way back home. Red sandstone cliffs under the glaring sun, carved into intricate, bizarre shapes by countless generations of howling winds and sudden thunderstorms ... it left one with a real appreciation for the endless variety of nature and the modern conveniences that allow you to avoid it. We jumped back in the air conditioned Camry and headed home.

On the third of February, Katie received a rather exciting piece of news; she was promoted from the JESS Ground Subtask Manager to JESS System Engineer. This had the side affect of making her indirectly my boss. Katie and I had a long discussion about what affect this would have on our relationship. We rapidly decided that we were mature, intelligent, reasonable adults and could settle any minor differences of opinion with dueling pistols at ten paces. Fortunately, it turned out that we worked reasonably well together. In the meantime, Katie has already earned a reputation as an outstanding system engineer.

On the fourth, we had a pot luck party at the house. With the people Katie invited, it was about evenly matched between men and women. Of course, with the kind of dynamic magnetism generated at these sort of events, the expected happened; Katie, Jeff, Alison and I sat with all of the single women chatting about this and that while all the single guys clustered in a distant corner of another room discussing the relative merits of "Stroh's" verses "Budweiser". Still, it was an outstanding party.

On the twelfth, Katie and I headed off to see a play at the invitation of her parents. Katie's sister Anne also joined us, unaware of a nefarious plot against her. Katie and her mother, with the care and consideration typically associated with forms of life that are now thankfully extinct, invited along any woman's (or man's) worst nightmare ... a blind date. "Tom" is a regular at Katie's racquetball club. He is a massive guy; on the racquetball court he frequently builds up enough momentum to make the walls bulge several inches when he hits them with the ball, incidentally causing a heavy thud that is more a vibration in the floor than a sound. It usually causes the more earthquake conscious clients to dive under tables. He turned out to be a really nice guy despite his physical resemblance to a runaway locomotive. We ate at a downtown restaurant called the "Sonora Cafe." The food was great, but the waiter seemed to miss the big picture when it came to the concept of "b e i n g in a h u rry" since he seemed to interpret this as a desire to play a game of hide and seek with our check. We made it to the theater on time by leaving dessert behind. The play was ... interesting. It was one of Los Angeles Theater Center's attempts to promote the works of third world authors. "Burning Beach" proved once again that the experience of growing up in a poverty stricken, repressive society provides the background necessary to write really, really, bad plays. The most interesting part of the play was when a cabinet, for no apparent reason, began spurting blood all over the stage. We i 3rd was not the word for it.

On the twenty sixth, we invited our families over for Easter brunch. It would be the first time Katie's Mother, stepfather, and sister met my folks. Jeff Stern and Alison also joined us. One minor problem remained. It was one of those foolish mistakes that you recognize a few minutes after committing yourself; brunch would be during the day while the lawn was visible. Our lawn was in the same condition as most Californian real estate, i.e. a fairly close approximation to a desert. This was by choice; Jeff, Jeff, and I long ago recognized the superiority of living in a naturally balanced ecological area, coexisting in harmony with the native climate and soil of southern California, and avoiding the necessity of mowing the lawn. But parents have these funny preconceptions about pleasant living conditions, so I did the best I could and mowed the few scraggly weeds in a feeble attempt to simulate a real lawn. My parents managed to arrive in the midst of this activity, however, and complemented my dedication to mowing the sand. In the meantime Katie was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She did a much better job of providing a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere than I did, I'm afraid. Others brought food as well, and we dined on scones, fresh cut asparagus, stuffed mushrooms, quiche, and other fine dishes. Multiple bottles of champagne were opened with the standard competition to see who could blow the cork over the wall of the condo complex adjacent to our house (there were many winners). Jeff and Alison kept everyone amused by clutching at each other continuously which prompted Katie's sister to describe them as "attached at the navel." All in all a very pleasant affair.

The last weekend in March, Jeff, Alison, Katie and I headed for Mammoth for our last skiing trip of the year. Mammoth was hit with massive amounts of snow during the month, but it was warm enough that spring skiing conditions had set in. In fact, the sports page of the LA Times showed a number of skiers on the slopes of Mammoth with shorts and no shirt. We dressed lightly as a result. The first trip up (on lift 16, the longest lift on the mountain) the sub-arctic winds slammed into us with the intensity of immersing oneself in a vat of liquid nitrogen. I and Katie grabbed onto one another in a desperate attempt to huddle together for warmth under the onslaught. The wind blew with savage force, finding gaps in our light jackets and plunging in like scalpels. As soon as we reached the top of the lift, we attempted to head downhill as fast as our numbed legs would take us. The snow was superb for those dressed to enjoy it. Despite a few falls, we made good time getting down the mountain. The lower part of the mountain was much more protected from the wind, and as a result the sun was rapidly making a slush pile out of the snow. A few runs later, Katie was fed up and quit. Jeff and I decided to ski for a while longer, including a few runs at the higher altitudes, but finally the cold drove us in. We vowed to return the next day, however, with warmer clothing.

The next morning, Katie and Alison both decided to skip skiing, but Jeff and I were determined. We gathered what scraps of clothing we could find and headed for Warming Hut II. The top of the mountain, were we had hoped to find good skiing, was closed due to winds. We were skiing a few overcrowded and somewhat slushy runs on the front of the mountain, trying to decide where to go next, when we overheard someone in line say chair 9 was open. Chair 9 is on the far left side of Mammoth, and climbs to a false peak just under the top of Mammoth. The real peak sweeps down to the top of chair 9 in a large, steep bowl called "Dave's Run" (named after me, of course). From there, it extends off to the north, leaving a long ridge called "Dragonback Ridge" that can be traversed with difficulty in order to find steep bowls that are not often skied.

Dave's run looked like heaven. A unblemished sweep of pure white snow glistening in the sunlight like a billion diamonds ... and completely inaccessible since the lifts to the top were shut down. It was maddening. Still, a glance along Dragonback promised the potential of a few decent runs; Jeff and I started the traverse. Twisting in and out of the rocks and other obstacles on a fifty degree slope isn't trivial, but Jeff and I have a lot of practice in that sort of thing, and we worked our way across half the ridge in relatively short order. We stared up the mountain. Overhead was a beautiful, untouched slope that made Dave's run pale by comparison. The fact that there are no lifts to that section of Dragonback made it even more intriguing. "If only we could get up there..." I said to Jeff. We glanced at each other, both grinning dangerously. "Time for a little mountain climbing!" shouted Jeff, releasing his bindings. I quickly followed suit, and we began climbing the slope with our skies tossed over our shoulder.

We used the hard toes of our ski boots to kick into the snow on the increasingly steep slope, digging little footholds each step of the way. Shortly, sweat beaded both of our brows despite the low temperature. On we went, grimly determined to have as much fun skiing as possible. A cramp began to develop in my ribs, and Jeff was huffing and puffing like a dog in a microwave, but we wouldn't be swayed from our path. The slope reached the point where standing straight up left our noses almost touching the wall. Finally, we decided to take a break. Looking down the slope showed our progress, which was all of maybe twenty feet. I looked at Jeff. Jeff looked at me. "Ummm... maybe we should give this a try some other time" Jeff said. "Yeah" I agreed, "I think Katie would really be disappointed if we did this without her." "Alison too" agreed Jeff. "OK, why don't you put you skies on" I told Jeff. Jeff looked at the seventy degree slope he was perched on. "Ummmm... how?" he asked. It was a good question. There was no way to put the skies down without having them go tumbling down the hill. With muffled curses, Jeff and I spent the next fifteen minutes carving out a section of the snow to provide enough of a flat area to get the skies on. Finally, we were ready. Perhaps not as high as we would have liked, perhaps a little later than we would have preferred, perhaps close to complete physical collapse, but none the less in a spot never skied by others before. "GO!" I shouted, jumping off the little man-made ledge, hitting the snow off balance, tumbling down the hill in a small shower of high tech ski accessories, and ending up about sixty feet below where we started the climb. A less than awesome maneuver. We skied down the rest of the way to the chair lift. We skied for a while longer in slushy snow, but finally decided to just head back for home that day.

Katie flew out to Florida in the middle of April for her grandmother's ("Nana's") birthday party along with her sister, Anne. Katie's cousin, Liz, joined them at their scheduled stopover in Dallas, and the three continued on to Longboat Key Florida. Katie claims they spent most of their time chit-chatting, which I humbly interpreted as talking about me. (Ed. Note: further proof that Dave suffers from an extreme case of dementia.) They all stayed at Nana's condo complex for the weekend. Katie describes it as humid enough to make showers superfluous, but smog free enough to make a three mile jog fun. They also had an opportunity to go shopping for eight hours, the prerequisite amount of time necessary for Katie and her relatives to invest in the purchase of a T-shirt. The actual party consisted of a receiving line, an open bar, dancing, and dinner. Rather elaborate, but you only have one 85th birthday party, right? The next day the "girls did Lido beach". This was actually a significant activity since it caused Katie to purchase what at first I thought was a pair of wildly colored socks, but what turned out to be a "bird" (which is kind of like a bikini, but is too small to deserve seven letters). Whatever you want to call it, I approved greatly.


On the 23rd of April, Katie's mother completed her doctoral thesis. Sometime during her more foolish younger years, Katie had signed up to help her mother print the thing out on a laser printer. Little did she know that when it was finished, this thesis would have twice the mass of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and a 1969 Cadillac Coup de Ville combined. It required special handling; any place where it might be stored had to have the floor specially reinforced with steel I-beams and concrete. Of course, Katie being Katie, one look at the text she was responsible for printing and she was off making minor corrections (where "minor" means "rewriting major portions of the document and incidentally red lining Darwin's book on evolution"). For the amount of work Katie put into it, we could have had a couple of trans-Atlantic tunnels completed and a Space Station for good luck. Anyway, all 700 pages were finally complete and ready for Katie's mother's committee. It was hard to tell who breathed the biggest sigh of relief; Katie, her mother, or myself.

Also during this time, I had an opportunity to get more intimately familiar with our legal system. I had the honor of being drafted as a juror for the municipal courthouse. You want to talk about boredom? If you could gather together all the boredom generated in the juror waiting room in a single day, concentrate it in a small area, and release it on demand, you would cause an effect matched during the entire history of mankind only by televised presidential speeches. All one hundred and seventy six jurors that started the same day I did were herded into a large juror waiting room. Inside, there were seats, a few tables, maybe a half dozen jigsaw puzzles and several brightly colored tonka toys (don't laugh - a couple days into this, several fights broke out over who got to play with the things).

My first experience on a jury was rather disconcerting. 45 people were selected from the juror waiting room, including myself. We wandered down a few floors to the Division Two courtroom. The clerk drew twelve names from the forty five cards he received, one for each of the potential jurors. I was one of the twelve chosen. The judge gave us a few details about the case. It was a drunk and disorderly conduct charge. We spent the next three hours playing "IQ test for the mentally deficient" with the judge. He started out in a relatively straight forward fashion, asking questions about my occupation and home address. Then it got strange. "Mr. Dickie, do you have any biases against drinking?" "No," I replied. "Do you have any biases against policemen?" "No," I replied. "Do you have any relatives or friends that are policemen?" "Yes, my cousin's husband," I replied. "Do you think this will bias you for or against the police?" he asked. "No," I replied. "Do you have any relatives or friends that have been convicted of this sort of crime?" "No," I replied. "Are you SURE you don't have any bias for or against policemen?" "Yes." "Absolutely?" "Yes." "Ever get a speeding ticket?" "Yes." "Don't you feel like that biased you against the police?" "No." "You have no bias against drinking or the police?" "Yes," I replied. "Ahhhh, so you do have a bias!" "No, I said I have no bias." "You sure?" he asked, looking at me suspiciously. "Yes, I am absolutely, one hundred percent, completely certain that I have no bias against drinking or the police," I answered. "Suppose I was a policeman, and I gave you smack with my billy club during a riot, even though you weren't doing anything wrong" the judge continued, "do you think you might have a bias against policemen then?" "No." "Suppose I was a policeman, and I broke into your house, lit the place on fire, shot your dog, and molested your wife ... wouldn't you have a bias against the police then?" "No." The judge looked at me from under furled brows. "Awfully convinced you aren't biased against cops, aren't you?" "Yes, but I must admit that I'm forming a bias against pinheaded, moronic judges that insist on asking the same questions over and over again" I replied.

No, only kidding. I didn't say that, just thought it. But seriously, this kind of idiotic, third degree continued not only on me, but on each juror, for the better part of three hours. The point appeared to be to get someone to answer that they were biased after half an hour of denying it, thereby proving themselves dense enough to make a black hole jealous. I was tearing what little hair I have left out. Finally, however, the judge finished. At this point, the opposing attorneys had an opportunity to ask questions of each of the jurors. Each attorney had some arbitrary number of "preemptive strikes," where they could have a juror dismissed because their tie and shirt colors dashed, or some other strange criteria. The defense attorney stepped up to the podium. "Mr. Dickie," he asked in a deep and serious voice, "do you have any bias against drinking or the police." I stared at him for a moment. "/ ... have ... no ... bias ... against ... drinking ... or ... the ... police" I replied in a stilted fashion, "but I can write it on the chalkboard six hundred times if you need proof." Not good enough, unfortunately. We spent a total of two hours with the two asking the identical questions the judge had. Then came the preemptive strikes by the attorneys. The general concept is, as far as I can tell, to allow attorneys to stack the deck in favor of their position. How they decide who stays and who goes, however, is a combination of personal (read "warped") judgement and black magic. I was dismissed by the prosecuting attorney on her second pick. I headed back to the waiting room.

I went through the same nonsense for the second case on which I was called, but they settled out of court before anyone had the chance to be kicked off the jury.

Finally, on my seventh day as a juror, I was selected for a jury. It was a indecent exposure case involving an individual who had clearly never quite determined the criteria for joining the human race. Short, about twenty-two years old, overweight enough to qualify as a hazardous obstacle to international shipping, he had a huge thatch of greasy, unkempt hair and a bushy beard that looked like a happy home for many varieties of local rodents. He wore his finest: a yellow, stained V-neck sweater over a surprisingly dean blue shirt and faded blue jeans. He had the gollywog expression normally found on chimpanzees in the local zoo. During breaks, he would find a corner outside the courtroom and begin intently reading a tattered copy of "Third Foundation" by Asimov, providing the clear impression that it was much more important that any silly legal squabble he might be in. The guy was, in every sense of the word, a complete loser. It was clear that the defense attorney would take one look at my freshly pressed shirt and maroon "power" tie and dismiss me.

After the standard three hours of checking for complete pinheads, the defense attorney was allowed to question the jurors. He seemed like a nice, older guy and carried himself with a relaxed and disarming air, cracking jokes occasionally. He asked each juror three questions in turn. With minor variations, they were "Do you think my client looks guilty?" "Would you take the word of a woman witness as more valid than that of a male witness in an indecent exposure case?" and "How do you feel about our legal system?" I thought about potential answers as I waited anxiously for my turn. If I was to be tossed off a jury again, I'd at least have a little fun. "Your client? The anti social slime-bag over there who clearly never made it past pre-adolescence? No, he doesn't look guilty at all" would be amusing. While I came up with many similar variations on the same theme, he got to me. "Mr. Dickie, you stated that you were in the Navy on nuclear submarines prior to working at JPL?" he asked. "Yes," I replied, surprised at the unexpected line of questioning. "Did you know Admiral Rickover?" the attorney asked. How in the heck did this guy know anything about Rickover, the man who had lead the development of the nuclear navy? "Yes," I replied, "I interviewed with Admiral Rickover prior to being accepted into the nuclear power program." The attorney looked at me with a smile on his face. "Rickover interviewed you for the nuclear power program?" "Yes" I replied. "And he personally selected you for the program?" the attorney continued. "Yes, that is correct" I replied. "Well then, I certainly don't have a problem with you" he said with a chuckle, immediately proceeding to the next juror and leaving me in complete shock.

The next day, the case began. Opening statements from the two attorneys went fairly rapidly, giving very little detail about the case. The first witness was called. It was a gorgeous redhead who was a student at one of the local commuter colleges, PCC. The prosecuting attorney began. "Miss Lyman, could you describe the events on the 28th of January, on or about 12:00?" she asked.

"Yes. I was taking a break between classes and had walked out to my car to eat lunch. I was studying a text book while I sat eating in the driver's seat when suddenly I heard a loud thump on the hood of my car. When I looked up, the defendant was standing there. He had pulled his shirt up and (exact text deleted}"

"{exact text deleted) I'm afraid I don't understand" replied the prosecutor.

"You know, he was .... (exact text deleted) ." "No, I don't know." "Well, he was ... ahhh ... (exact text deleted) " "Could you please be a little more specific?" "Well, he was ... ummmm ... he was rubbing Ms ... he was ..." "Please, Miss Lyman, could you just tell us what he was doing?" demanded the prosecutor. "He was ... he was ... (exact text deleted) ?!" the woman shouted.

The prosecutor smiled. "Thank you. Could you tell us what happened next?"

"Well, I rolled up my window and tried to start my car to leave the area, when the defendant threw himself on the ground and started ... ahhh ... (exact text deleted) ." The defense attorney jumped up. "OBJECTION!", he cried, "Witness is making suppositions." The judge accepted this, and directed the court clerk to strike the answer. "What exactly was he doing?" asked the prosecutor. "He was ... ahhh ... grinding his (exact text deleted) " the witness replied, smiling with the victory of having found the right combination of words to say the same thing without making "suppositions." The prosecutor smiled back with a feral quality. "No further questions" she said.

The trial went on as we heard about the rest of the incident. Miss Lyman drove off, but the defendant had escaped the area by the time the FCC security people made it to the scene. Fortunately, he was apprehended the next day while attempting to peek into the women's locker room at the FCC gym. He was later identified in a lineup by the witness. It looked pretty open and shut to me, and the defense attorney must have agreed, because they coped a plea later that afternoon and we were all dismissed. That marked my last day as a juror. Great fun, let me tell you.

Well, as per usual, I'm running far behind the times. To let you know that I am still alive and cooking, I guess I'll send this off with a paltry six pages of material. Do not dispare, however, for the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY big news (read "trouble") is soon to follow!