A Week for Jury Duty, Fire Smoke and A Bomb Threat

A month ago I got a jury summons for the week of October 10th (Monday was Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day). This was the first time that I ever got a jury summons. If you have a driver license and/or vote (I have the former and do the latter), you eventually get selected for this public duty. As a writer I was eager to participate and learn about the process. As a worker I was anxious since my employer only pays for three days of jury duty and the court pays only $15 per day. The average length of a jury trial in Santa Clara County is five days, but a murder trial could go on for weeks. A short trial I could put up with, a long trial would be a financial burden. The week itself was a trial by fire from jury duty, fire smoke and a bomb threat.

The daily routine for a potential juror is to check the juror reporting website twice a day (11AM and 5PM for my group number). The Tuesday groups reported to the Palo Alto court location. The Wednesday groups reported to the Morgan Hill and downtown San Jose court locations. The Thursday groups reported to the Civic Center location (outside of downtown San Jose). The remaining groups weren’t called in for Friday.

There are three sets of group numbers: 100’s (San Jose), 500’s (Morgan Hill) and 600’s (Palo Alto). My group number was 162. Based on the previous week’s group callings, I expected to report in on Wednesday. A dozen groups reported in on Tuesday. Three dozen groups got called in on Wednesday, raising the counter for the 100’s group to 142.

Wednesday was a very long day.

Smoke from the Sonoma county fires circulated throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, making air pollution worse than a typical day in Beijing. I’ve watched wisps of smoke drift pass my office window in Palo Alto. The afternoon sun was a bright orange orb in the gray sky above. Coworkers at the bus stop claimed to have never seen air pollution this bad before. Like most government workers, they come from all over the United States and few are Californian natives. The 1985 Lexington Reservoir fire that burned 14,000 acres blotted out the Silicon Valley for three days, making the summer sun a blood-red orb in the sky and covered cars in ashes.

When the express bus to San Jose didn’t show up, I took the 89 to the California Avenue Caltrain station. That ended up being the scenic route through Palo Alto. Police and emergency crews closed Page Mill Road between the 280 and El Camino Road, diverting traffic across Page Mill Road to a different street that exited out on Stanford Avenue. With reports of grass fires starting in Berkeley, Oakland and Livermore, I thought there was a nearby grass fire in Palo Alto.

Conversations on the bus quickly turned real estate prices on Stanford Avenue, where the bungalows on tiny lots go for millions of dollars. A brand new house under construction won the “money to spend” award for having the second floor overhanging the first floor by two feet on one side. Like tourists on a tour bus in Hollywood, we gawked at the expensive home and shook our head in disgust.

The next morning I found out from a fellow passenger on the express bus that someone called in a bomb threat at HP. With most of the HP buildings on or just off of Page Mill Road, police shut down the whole street to check each building for bombs and snarling the afternoon commute for hours. It took me an extra two hours to get home.

I didn’t get called in on Thursday. The website that morning told me to check that afternoon, and then to check back on Friday morning. The next morning I checked the website at 11AM to discover that I’m released from jury duty and received a one year exemption from being summoned for jury duty. It’s one less thing to worry about for the next year.

Legally Stockpiling Weapons For A Shooting Spree

Whenever there was a mass shooting in the U.S., I’ve always pointed out to friends that the law doesn’t prevent a law-abiding citizen from stockpiling weapons and ammunition, spreading out their purchases over time to avoid detection by authorities, and then going on a killing spree. A point that Senator Diane Feinstein made on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” made about the Las Vegas shooter, who passed multiple background checks for purchasing weapons. It’s more difficult to buy two packs of Sudafed than to legally stockpile weapons and ammo.

While the number of households owning guns have declined between 1994 to 2013, the number of guns by gun-owning households have increased substantially to an average 8.1 guns. That number is somewhat misleading. So called “super gun owners” own eight to 140 guns, the average being 17 guns.

Who are these people who own multiple weapons?

  • Collectors — When Silicon Valley had more orchards than silicon chips, many neighbors owned hunting rifles and had mounted trophies in their family rooms When I spent a weekend at a middle school friend’s ranch in Morgan Hill, his step-father pulled out an elephant gun he used for a big game hunting in Africa (no mounted elephant or lion head from that trip, but elephant gun was impressive). The next day my friend and I shot off semiautomatics as the adults shot off replicas of ball-and-powder muskets.
  • Survivalists — Nut jobs in the mountains waiting for the government to take away their guns is as American as apple pie. That was the NRA mantra during the eight years of the Obama Administration. No gun owner I’ve talked to ever had President Obama show up on their doorstep to take their away guns. Their defense of the Second Amendment often boils down to being able to turn Bambi into hamburger as quickly as possible. If Republicans can pass the silencer legislation in Congress, silently as well.
  • Mass Shooters — Some weapons are meant to kill people as quickly as possible in a hail of bullets, as the Las Vegas shooter and pretty much every other mass shooter in the U.S. have proven in recent years. Not all mass shooters are criminals who got their weapons illegally off the street.

The politicians are not serious about gun control in any meaningful way after the Las Vegas shooting. Banning “bump stocks” doesn’t prevent someone from modifying an semiautomatic rifle to automatic fire. California has a law going into effect in 2018 to restrict ammo sales to purchasers who passed a background check and Internet sales must ship to a licensed dealer for pick up. That doesn’t prevent someone from quietly stockpiling ammo with routine purchases or going across state lines. The only way to end the mass shootings is to pass restrictive gun laws and buy back guns from the public.

Why I Had My Ten-Year-Old Slashdot Account Deleted

After falsely accusing me of threatening to shoot people, creating fake accounts to mock me, and posting dick pics of Russian schoolboys with my contact info (a situation so vile that I couldn’t write about it in the blog at the time), the trolls pulled a power play that I haven’t seen happen on Slashdot in 15+ years. During the long Labor Day weekend, the mods (moderators) systematically down voted every comment I had to -1 to drag my karma from excellent (50 comments per day) to terrible (two comments per day). So I pulled a power play of my own: I asked management to delete my ten-year-old account.


The deletion of my “creimer” account became inevitable when I used the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice to have management delete the “cdreimer” account, and subsequently four other fake accounts, that the trolls created to mock me since Anonymous Cowards (ACs) can only post ten comments per day per IP address. (Creating a new user account requires a unique email address, which is easier to do than finding a network with a different IP.) As a content creator who routinely asserted his rights under the DMCA (usually against idiots who reposted free copies of my ebooks on international websites), I made quite a few enemies by using the DMCA on Slashdot.

When the trolls started posting dick picks of Russian schoolboys with my contact info on Russian image websites, I had to issue, somewhat ironically, hundreds of DMCA takedown notices to have the images removed. Using Google Chrome to translate Russian into English on the web page (a feature that the trolls didn’t know about), I’ve noticed most image websites had a drop item on their contact form called “DMCA Notice” to expedite such requests.

The trolls howled bloody murder for six weeks because:

  • I was issuing DMCA takedown notices for dick pics that I didn’t own the copyrights.
  • The foreign image websites honored the takedown notices at face value even though I wasn’t the copyright owner and the DMCA was unenforceable in their jurisdiction.
  • The dick pics came down faster than the trolls could repost them.

At the end of the day, the Russians didn’t want those dick pics on their image websites.

The Author Account

I took possession of the “cdreimer” account by signing up the newly available username to claim as my own. (As for the other user accounts, I’ve signed them up with disposable email addresses from Guerrilla Mail and discarded the password reset emails to render unusable.) I’ve never wanted “cdreimer” (first and middle initials, last name) on Slashdot since I created the “creimer” (first initial, last name) account years before I started writing and publishing under my author name. While the trolls think that both names represent the same person, the personas for each one are quite different.

  • As the trolls found out the hard way, “creimer” was an Internet brawler willing to get down and dirty in a protracted fight. About 8,000 comments — probably more since the comment history before 2009 is no longer available — were written before 2017. As the trolls escalated the conflict, an additional 4,000 comments got written this year.
  • As for “cdreimer,” he’s too busy to post more than one or two comments per day, doesn’t care to argue, and has no use for the trolls.

During the last three months of “creimer,” I’ve carefully built up the karma for “cdreimer” by submitting news stories for consideration. It took ten approved submissions to move the karma from neutral to excellent. Of course, this was all for naught.

Getting Modded Down

Since “creimer” was consistently up voted more times than down voted by the mods, the modding system didn’t matter. Threats to mod my account into oblivion rang hollow for most of the year. After the DMCA episode, it wasn’t unusual for an AC to post a comment and a down vote at the same time. (Although ACs post comments anonymously, many have user accounts to gain mod points for the purpose of punishing logged in users.) When the day of reckoning came, I was ready to react.

Management deleted the “creimer” account without any questions the day after Labor Day.

Like the “cdreimer” account, I signed up the newly available username to prevent someone else from reusing it to mock me. Like the other user accounts, I used a disposable email address and discarded the password reset email. Unless I make a request to management to delete the current incarnation, “creimer” was gone for good.

Two weeks later I started posting comments as “cdreimer” and behaving like a noob (new user). The honeymoon didn’t last long. The trolls started shit posting and the mods started down voting every comment I wrote. In short order, my karma was terrible at -1 and I could only post two comments per day. That’s fine with me. The last six months of playing with the trolls on Slashdot has been an educational experience.

Meanwhile, the trolls are getting desperate. They keep posting the same copy-and-paste comments in response to the one or two comments I’m able to post each day. If anyone disagrees with them, they accuse that AC or user as being “creimer” and copy-and-paste the same comments in response. I don’t even bother to read these comments, being the same drivel posted for months. Most readers find this “following around” comment behavior more annoying than posting links to dick pics.

When Slashdot had a two-day outage from flaming power supplies at their data center last week, I made a comment over at SoylentNews (a Slashdot-clone that came into existence when the code behind Slashdot was open source for a while). Like a pack of Chihuahuas in heat, my trolls came running over to hump legs and tried to get the mods there to mod me into oblivion. It didn’t work. Unlike the mods at Slashdot, the mods at SoylentNews up voted my comment twice for its content and didn’t down vote because someone got their covfefe hurt.