I am feeling kindly disposed to the world at the moment. No good reason why. The sun is shining and its a beautiful day outside of my office. I got retained on a new matter this morning. That's always good.
Mind you, it will change shortly. I am having a meeting shortly with some scumbags who will no doubt piss me off. I don't know why some lawyers confuse aggressive behavior with effective dispute resolution. Ok, maybe I do. Sometimes its inexperience, but sometimes that is the only reasonable position they can take for their client. If you can't pound the facts, or the law, pound the table. I think I am in for some table pounding shortly. Oh, joy.
I posted the following comment on an article on taxi cab safety in NY at Gothamist (which is a great NY City website) and wanted to share it here. I thought it might amaze some people that this actually happened:
"Back in New Orleans, in the early 1990's, it was not uncommon to see drunken people left in bars, propped up in corners, with their addresses and $5-10 pinned to their shirts, as their friends continued on the next bar. When the bartender had a few moments, he or she would call a cab and the cabbie would take the person home. I never heard stories of that going awry or of a cabbie, assuming he was from United Cabs, misbehaving.
Can't picture that in NY, can ya?"
I saw a photograph this morning in the NY Times showing the last Oldsmobile rolling off the production line. That's it. No more Oldsmobiles. It got me thinking a little bit, as much as I could since it was 6:30 a.m. and I had not had any coffee, about the automobile as icon in America. This, I grant you, is not an original thought (but there are not many original thoughts anyway, so WTF -- sorry, still no coffee).
The car is romance and possibilities. There was another article in the Times talking about GPS and road trips. Road trips are what I mean by possibilities. If you grow up in the suburbs, nothing much happens without the car. For me and my family, that was the Oldsmobile.
My father was very clear on this point: America has been very good to our family and we will only buy American cars. So, for me, growing up meant that when I turned 16, it was driving the Delta 88 with a v-8 engine that just blew away my friend's cute little BMW. Not that I would ever do that. Driving too fast on I-287. Nope, must have been some other idiot with Iron Maiden or AC/DC (hey, I was 16!) blaring out of the speakers so loud that I blew one of them.
The car was painted a truly ugly brown. I loved it, especially because it smelled like old cigarettes and spilled coffee. It used to be the car my father drove to the train station every day. That smelled forbidden and grown up and serious. Everything I probably wasn't but desperately wanted to be.
That really brings me to the point I had been thinking about for a couple of days now. The car is not just the American icon, it is our special meaningful smell memory (damn, I can't get this phrase right). If France, thanks to Proust, has the madeleine, we have the smells of cars that bring us back to our youth. Can't most of you close your eyes and remember the smell of the school bus? That mix of diesel fumes and plastic and rubber and who knows what else that when you smell it you are a kid again? And you haven't done your homework?
That's why, for me at least, the car is an icon. That damn smell makes me think of my childhood. And I still miss the sound of that Oldsmobile peeling out of the school parking lot. Oh, I also miss the sex we used to have in that car.
The results are in on the "First Annual Horrible College-Student Poetry Competition". Worth a look even if it does not qualify as my "Time Suck of the Day".
Hat tip to Joanne Jacobs who runs a very interesting education blog.
Holy Shite! The Chief of Police and his Chief Assistant (who I gather is a woman), in Wales? Can you imagine the embarrassment? I can feel it from here. Its like your parents trying to rap. Its just wrong. I do wonder how it sounds in Welsh, though:
"I'm just a white boy called the Deputy CC / They said I'd never make it as a bitchin' MC / You got it all wrong, cos now here I am / Giving it for real in the North Wales BPA jam
They call me Roxy, or Ms Dynamo on stage / Unlike my brother here, I never look my age / I'm goin' to spill it all about the boys in blue / Show you what it's like within the not-so-solid crew
So listen! Watch a doin' here today / Checkin' what the Heddlu Gogledd Cymru gotta say / Put away your cameras and your note pads for a spell / I got a story that I really need to tell
Bein' in the dibble is no cakewalk when you're black / If you don't get fitted, then you'll prob'ly get the sack / You're better chillin', lie down and just be passive / No place for us just yet in the Colwyn Bay Massive"
It continues. You owe it to yourself to check it out.
This is a very old question, perhaps first asked in Latin: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" When the guardians, those people charged with the duties to protect you and to protect society, misbehave, to whom do you turn? Who is it who watches over the guardians? And then, of course, you are have to ask who is going to watch those who are watching the guardians?
It is my impression that the effects of 9/11 on NYC's Chinatown may not have received much in the way of national exposure. Chinatown got hurt badly. Chinatown's businesses and restaurants got clobbered as people stayed home. Those who tried to venture down there may have been deterred by travel restrictions and checkpoints. We are talking about people who were struggling to begin with. Now, if you take a peek at the article I linked to, it appears that the guardians are abusing their privileges, by parking where they shouldn't, and the people in Chinatown are taking it on the chin.
Basically, it works like this: Chinatown is congested; businesses need to have deliveries to stay in business so they have things to sell; the only street parking -- including loading zones -- appears to be taken up by police officers and corrections officers parking their private vehicles there. Result? Business getting hurt again. Remedy? Well, there is no easy remedy if the only people you can call to have cars towed won't tow the cars of their fellow officers. So, who guards these guardians?
The civil courts and the lawyers the merchants have hired. That is what the whole system of checks and balances is supposed to be about and the only way we've managed to answer the question. We don't give final authority to just one institution, just one guardian. All the guardians, in a sense, watch each other. Its not elegant, but it works most of the time in practice. But as one Frenchman once famously asked, yes, it works in practice, but does it work in theory?
post script: I know that the officers have no other place to park, that they are hard working joes (and janes) too, and that they are performing vital and critical functions. I support them and I thank them for their service. Indeed, after 9/11, I regularly thanked these guys in the streets in person. I just wish they'd take public transportation.
Go forth as God has commanded and create your very own Church sign.
So, I am suffering from a severe case of sleep-deprived lassitude today. The last two or three nights, my children have been waking up at irregular intervals resulting in my sleeping in stretches only. Even if you don't get out of bed when they wake up, for instance, if the baby is just chatting to himself in his crib, you still have interrupted your sleep cycles. I understand that messing with the sleep cycle is something that is done to prisoners to disorient them and make them more amenable to interrogation. What is has done to me is just leave me feeling wasted and useless today.
I am also stressed because my wife had a job interview yesterday for a job she really wants. However, the horrible thing is the waiting to hear period. Will she get called back? Will she just get the "thanks but no thanks" letter? Who knows? And the waiting is hard because you don't want to hope because that sort of magnifies the disappointment if you don't get it and yet you can't help yourself from hoping. So it created this odd tension. I told her to immediately begin aggressively pursuing other job options so that if this one doesn't come through, she can say something to the effect of, "ah, well, but I have all of these other live possibilities". It might also distract her from the waiting. The funny thing about a deeply intimate relationship is that I think sometimes her disappointments are harder for me than for her -- that I feel her pain more deeply because I have no power to jump in and try to fix it. Maybe its love. Maybe its just bullshit and I am being stupidly self-centered to think that I can feel her disappointment more keenly than she can. Beats me. I just know for certain that when she is hurt I feel it.
If you read French, the above is an interesting article on what's happening in Thailand where, "combat between the forces of order and the separatists has resulted in about 95 deaths, according to official estimates."
I saw nothing in the U.S. press about this. According to the article, this has been going on since January where, in this underdeveloped province, "majority muslim and where the tenants of radical islam are rapidly gaining ground", "policemen, village leaders, buddhist priests, civil servants, and tourists are the targets of the separatists".
This is wild (to me). I always thought Thailand was a relatively stable democracy with strong royalist traditions, to the extent I thought about it at all. Even the author of the article thinks this sudden violence is inexplicable.
However, it is interesting that there were multiple "coordinated" attacks. Is this the start of something bigger in Thailand?
If I write, and no one reads it, have I written? Maybe, if it helps me work out some questions and some thoughts. I had a professor in graduate school who told me that he thought that a person didn't know anything until they were forced to write it down. So, based on that, I think I'll continue writing. Even if almost no one is reading.
That said, I wonder how other blogs first attract writers? Perhaps its all word of mouth.
I yelled at my daughter last night. I mean really yelled. She was trying to kick her brother and she needed to have that behavior corrected firmly. We have been trying before to do this, but without great success. I know that she loves him and he is like a little puppy dog following her around, but she can't hit or kick him. We won't tolerate that. In any event, I hated every second of yelling at her. Afterwards, I picked her up and carried her into the living room where we sat in the dark and discussed it. She told me that she understands that she is not to kick her brother. She also said that I scared her (which made me very sad, even though I was trying to scare her a little bit). And she said, "You have to be careful with little people like me because you might scare them." That was like a punch to the heart. And I think she knew it because she asked me if I was happy and I told her that I was sad that I had scared her. So she asked me if a hug might help make me feel better. And I told her I thought it might and it did. For both of us, I think.
This made me, if not quite cry, certainly choke up. We live in a wonderful country and are fortunate to have men and women like this in our armed forces.
I mentioned before, in passing, the concept of commuting time as not being real time, as existing only in the interstices of your day. It is time defined more by what it isn't than what it is. What I mean is that it is time where you aren't: at work; at home; running errands; seeing friends; or playing with your children. See what I mean? It is time that doesn't fit nicely into the niche that is your daily life. It is time that is defined by the fact that it isn't any of those activities which constitute your daily existence. So what is it? I think of it as bubble time or time that is caught between your daily activities, which is why I consider it to be existing in the interstices -- its in between time. I think its a fascinating concept.
If, like me, you commute to work by commuter rail then you are probably in a seat, in a quiet train with relatively considerate fellow commuters who also value quiet (assuming you commute at rush hour or before). Maybe you read, maybe you sleep, maybe you listen to music. Maybe you just exist. If you are a to-do list, goal oriented person, maybe this is the only time of the day you can't be that, so you sort of shut down and exist. I can't explain it any better than that but if you look around the train in the morning you see people who are doing nothing and have such blank, sometimes almost slack, faces. Personally, I read the news paper or a book or a magazine on the way in. On the way home, much the same for me. Many people bring cocktails or beer or wine on the train home. That can make it a very civilized ride and I speak there from occasional but personal experience.
So, perhaps you agree with me that commuting starts out that way, at least. But what happens in the time you are waiting to commute. You know, you get to the station a couple of minutes early to get a good spot on the platform because the doors open more or less at the same spot every day. So you get there early to make sure you get your choice of seats on the train. But you are not alone. People are creatures of habit and more often than not will pick their group or spot on the platform. What happens when you see the same people every morning? Well, no matter how early it is, you eventually start to talk to them. Then you get your train buddies.
Train buddies are people who also only exist for you in this in-between world. You may never know their names. Sure, you may have exchanged names but you don't really remember them and the fact is that the names are not important. You know them by details and that is how you think of them. There is Bond Trader who sometimes commutes with Pretty Blond Fiancee. There is Euro Trader. There is Bow Tie guy. There is Real Estate Lawyer. There is Fire Lieutenant Jacket guy, who is always first at the platform. There is English guy. That's about it. By the way, almost all of them are men at 6:15 in the morning.
So, these guys exist in the margins only. What's odd, though, is the intimacy of the relationships. Fire guy knew I had applied for a new job that would have taken me to Florida to live. Something my parents certainly did not know. I know where Euro Trader's daughter is going to college and what she plans to study. I know about Bond Trader's former dating habits in the local bars (lots of foreign nannies) and his new wedding plans (his fiancee is a doll). I know about English guy's medical issues. I know that Bow Tie's wife just lost her job and he talked about how that will effect their house renovation plans. This is intimate stuff. And you know what else? All this takes place in no more than a 5-10 minute period shortly after 6:00 each morning. It stops when you get on the train because then you are in your bubble and no one wants to talk any more.
But, these guys are your train buddies. Keepers of intimate details of your life. You only see them for a couple of minutes a day and you may not even know their names. Maybe that's why the relationship works. Maybe we can only be intimate with others outside of our social/family circle if the main characteristic of the relationship is its anonymity.
Either way, I remain fascinated by the concept of time that you inhabit that exists only in the intersections of your life and filled with people who exist there with you.
Since we were talking about beer, it seems to me that this would be just a very fine accompaniment to a (now) cheap Norwegian beer. It consists of french fries, covered with melted cottage cheese curds, and gravy. Perhaps the new breakfast of champions?
A beer is probably an odd start to the day. Indeed, I have not enjoyed the breakfast of champions (leftover beer and a handful of chocolate chip cookies) since freshman year in college.
However, I feel compelled to share this random thought about beer and Norway. Beer holds a special place in Norwegian society. The first beer of the year taken outside when the weather is nice and taken with friends is a traditional and quite wonderful tradition. Still, with all that, the Norwegians Health Authorities are taking swift action to prevent a beer war. Retailers are lowering prices! Can't have that!
Social control over alcohol in Norway is very tight. Indeed, as a result of the high prices, every year or so someone dies from home brewing or wine making accidents -- usually from the bad hooch itself, not from the process of making it.
"The retailers cut the prices on some local beers to a point where only the state is making any money. The NOK 6.50 doesn't even cover taxes (which amount to NOK 6.61 on a 0.33-liter bottle), much less the cost of production or distribution. The retailers are absorbing the loss, figuring they'll make money elsewhere by luring customers into the stores. Norway has the highest beer taxes in Europe, equal to NOK 19.70 per liter. Denmark, by comparison, charges NOK 3.75 per liter."
And I used to jokingly refer to Norway as the land of the ten dollar beer.
(finally figured out how to put titles up!)
So, I was right -- I totally missed the lunch. I am told that she was a very good speaker. Ah, well.
One of the many (well, one of the two) comments I received touched on the issue of work/life balance. How do you achieve it? You don't, really. You cheat. All the time. Either you are taking time away from your kids or your work. In the end, there is not much time left for yourself and when you take that, you know you are depriving either children or wife.
And I think I do mean depriving. Let me take my daughter, for example. I have seen studies which I have found credible that suggest that girls who have a healthy and strong relationship with their fathers have a better life -- more likely to stay in school and less like to marry a dirtbag or end up in an abusive relationship. You see, these studies found, a girl is less likely to enter a relationship looking for the love she didn't get from Daddy if she actually had a Dad who made it clear that she was loved all the time and without reservation. So, deprivation because I feel a responsibility to make sure my daughter doesn't end up making a bad choice out of the fact that she had a poor relationship with me (perhaps through my own neglect) or because I did not spend enough time with her making sure that she has a strong enough personal values system to make good decisions in morally ambiguous situations.
So, where does that leave you? You prioritize your kids because they need you and you have serious responsibilities there, not to mention the fact that most of the time they make your heart go ~squish~. You prioritize work, because it pays the mortgage and the bills and because you have duties that you owe to your clients -- they depend on you to represent them to the best of your abilities. Where are you in this?
For me, I've come to rely on the quiet time on the train home from work when I can just read to myself or catch up on the enormous to-do list that runs my life. Thank goodness for the train. You have enforced time that you can't be with anyone -- its like time caught in the interstices of your day. But a half an hour a day is really not enough to recharge batteries.
Equally, where is your wife? Remember her? She needs time and attention and you need her time and attention because you know that she is struggling with the same issues you are with respect to time management. And if you don't find time to be with her, than what was the point of the exercise in the first place? Besides, you may never have sex again! At best, you may get to go out once a week for dinner and you try really hard not to spend that time discussing logistics for the coming week and all the garbage that remains on the master to-do list, because, that is not a relationship. And frankly, come Friday, you might even be too damn tired to go out at all.
So, you cheat. You steal time from one to give to the other. And it probably isn't enough in any sense. But its the best you can do and you hope its enough.
I suspect every parent in America is struggling with this. I certainly had fewer problems with work/life balance before I had kids.
Just a quick note this morning while I am waiting for edits to come back on the papers I am preparing which absolutely have to be served today.
My daughter and I were talking last night and she reminded me of the time last week when she and her little brother were playing with the door to my bedroom and he shut the door, pinching her fingers. And she said to me, very solemnly last night, "I was absolutely so sad". She just cracks me up. I had not intended this to be a place where I was just going to post cute stories about my kids, but it is an important part of my life and likely stories will show up just about every day.
I am supposed to go today to a lunch for the presentation of a painting of Barbara Bush which honors Mrs. Bush as being only the second woman in the United States who is the wife and mother of a U.S. President. May not make it based on work pressures. It is kind of interesting that she is being honored for her association with other people. There is a message in there about being a woman of a certain age, I suspect. I just think its odd that she is being honored not for something intrinsic to herself, or because she accomplished something wonderful, but because she married and gave birth, something women are doing all over the world. Or, considering watching my wife do it, maybe that's reason enough in and of itself to honor her, considering she was on the world stage.
Just another random thought.
I was musing about anonymity all the way to and from Court this morning on the subway. Should I remain cloaked? Should I tell my wife about this little exercise? How much personal detail should I reveal about myself and my life? I think my answer is this: remain anonymous and treat this as if I were talking to myself. In other words, don't censor the thoughts I intend to put down and give myself the freedom to expound and expand at length without concern for what people think about me. That freedom, though, must come at a price. The price, keep this a secret from my wife and co-workers, my friends and colleagues. That way, when Stinky (one of the partners with whom I work) does something to piss me off, I can write about it with impunity and without fear that he will recognize himself in the description.
That said, I think it will be hard to keep this to myself. I ain't good at keeping MY secrets (fine with other people's) and it would feel like lying to my wife or intentionally excluding her from a part of my life. Especially if this form of dialogue (monologue) supplants instead of supplements the dialogue I have with her about my feelings and concerns. I would hate if this results in my building a wall, however unintended. Anyone here have this experience? Assuming anyone is reading, that is.
I need a vacation. An honest real vacation. Something that takes me away from daily life, from leaving the house before sun-up, from the whole damn shooting match. I am so weary that I am afraid I am making mistakes. My daughter asked me this morning, at 5:50 when she should not have been up but for an unfortunate diaper incident, if I would get into bed with her an cuddle. It was an exceptionally sweet invitation and if I took her up on it, I'd never have made it to work. The thing is, I am tired of deadlines and the qoutidian pressures. I'd like to go to a beach house for two weeks and spend every day on the sand, playing with the kids, grilling in the evenings, and getting to know my wife again.
Sorry if this is too whiny, it is just how I'm feeling today. When I told my daughter last night that I wasn't feeling too well, she (age 3 1/4) asked: "Will you be available for a kiss and a hug later?"
So, while I am waiting for a new client to arrive to tell me about their problems, I thought I'd take a couple of minutes and get some outrage out of my system about a topic that is probably well, if not over, covered at many other thoughtful places: Israel and the Left. I've had a very unpleasant experience when I left a post at another blog recently where I took issue with what I perceived to be anti-Semitic comments where someone felt that the legitimacy of the State itself was called into question by its "genocidal" policies. This outraged me. I kept it in check on the other website because it wasn't my place to spew outrage all over someone else's house, but, still. So, I got motivated to open my own shop.
Genocide, it seems to me, is a term more accurately used in connection with the Palestinians and the Arab states than it is with Israel. First, it is genocidal for the Arabs to want to cleanse the region by pushing the Jews into the sea. Second, the role of the State controlled press in the Arab states is to incite racial and religious hatred. Let's not even mention what is going on in the State sponsored mosques. Israel does not practice genocide against the Arabs. Hell, it may be the only country in the region that actually permits full participation in a democracy to its minority population.
The Left confuses me with their insistence that Israel is practicing genocide. Why are they so blind to the pain experienced by Israel? Why is only Palestinian suffering "legitimate"?
Email added! Check on the links portion. Click on email me and then edit the information to make it work.
So, how does someone actually attract readers to a new blog? If anyone stops by and wants to share their ideas, I'd be happy to have them. I hope to have some lively discussions as time goes by.
This is my first post to my new blog. I am writing this now as opposed to doing all of the work I should be doing today. Therefore, by necessity, this will be kept short. My goal here is to create an outlet where I can comment on the things that piss me off, interest me, amuse me, or will do any of those three things to my readers. In short, this will be a general interest blog for catholic (with a small c) interests. I welcome your participation in my little experiment. I will be adding more later, including email contact information.
Here are some nice things people have said about me. No one represented below is my wife! My thanks to you all!
The "Terrorism is Not Ok Award" for my post on "Root Causes".
* * *
You *do* write beautifully, Random! Amber
* * *
I looove your blog. Intelligent, insightful, and interesting to read. I picked up this link from Amber's blog and saved it to read at a later date when I had more time. I'm really glad I did! Many thanks for such great posts. Holly
* * *
Well-written and humane as usual. Pat
* * *
Fantastic mad writing skillz. Talk about erudite - if I could write half as well... Jim
* * *
RP, the moment I walked in the joint, I could tell you were a person of taste and distinction!! stolypin
* * *
RP's blog is very interesting, taking me back in some cases to my youth back East and visits to New York. RP identifies himself as an anonymous litigation attorney who appears to be an associate at a law firm. The film Clueless says litigators are the "most feared" type of attorney, by the way. John Bruce
* * *
"Police Call..." Calling all cars... Calling all cars!
Be on the lookout for RP. He is wearing a fucked up suit, a gray strap-on, and is carrying an old brown box of CHEEZ-ITS. He was last seen in the vicinity of the outhouse, waving a loaded frickin' moron. (Ed. note... Ted Kennedy?) He is charged with holding up a candy store and running off with the owners barking moonbat. He is also accused of stealing a 1955 chainsaw and a pus-oozing Easy Bake Oven. It is advisable to approach this person with bitchin' caution, as he is known to carry a loaded slingshot. He uses the alias "Billy the Pear-shaped Globe" and has been known to disguise himself as an urge to kill. Watch out for this surprisingly uplifting criminal.
That is all...
Stevie from Caught in the X-Fire, in her Mad-Libs Days
* * *
Ok I have to admit that when I first saw it, I thought it said Random Penises. Mr. Random Penseur appears to have done most of the posts I saw on a quick review, but the title is plural, so maybe other family members help out. It seems to be divided between family life posts and political posts. Plus at least one cool pic. More politics than me. More family than me. Fewer ‚Äúfunny‚ÄĚ posts than me. Way less hallucinatory crap than me. Seems pretty good. I‚Äôll be going back. Good pacing. Prescription: Three times a week for two weeks, then as needed. Lord Floppington
* * *
Writes so much to think about‚Ä¶I sometimes end up staying up too late‚Ä¶ ;-) Kbear Naked
I am not inclined to do one of those "100 things about me" lists or to post out of focus pictures of my left knee here. But, I figure that if you have just stumbled across my blog and are curious about the author, I would provide some details here.
I am in my late 30's. I am a lawyer living in the NY City metropolitan area and I practice in the field of complex corporate litigation.
I am married to a Norwegian woman and we have three children: The Girl Child (aged about 6 as of 1/07), the Boy Child (aged about 4 as of 1/07), and the baby (another boy, aged about 9 months as of 1/07). I write a lot about my children because they are a source of never ending amazement for me.
I speak two foreign languages and have lived in two other countries. I have no idea what this has done for my perspective on world affairs but it has confirmed my staunch belief that the United States of America, for all its faults, is the single greatest country in the world and I am terribly fortunate that my great-grandparents chose to try their luck here. If they hadn't, I have no reason to believe that I would have been any luckier than any of the rest of my European cousins who did not survive the concentration camps. Now that's a heavy thought.
My interests are eclectic and catholic (with a small "c"). I read a lot, love architecture and art history, travel, fine wines and spirits, good eats, fencing, martial arts, squash, international affairs, billiards, and good conversation. I have an ongoing fascination with Africa, the devastating impact of AIDS, and a love affair with the City of New York. I'm a dog person and not a cat person. I added, in January 2005, a bunch of things here, in the context of a self awareness assignment I did with the Girl Child.
I started this blog for reasons I can no longer recall, but I have come to enjoy tremendously the friendships I have made as a result. They are no less real, it seems to me, than the friendships I have with those I see in person. You know who are you are, I hope, without my need to spell it out.
I have no idea what this blog is. If you have any ideas, feel free to let me know. If you just want to get a taste of the blog, I recommend hitting the Best of Me category button.
Finally, I heart comments. Comments are good. Leave some. If you do, however, please note that I require that they be left in a civil, grown up tone. Debate is good, disputes are fine, but do it like an adult. You certainly don't have to agree with me (and it would be boring if you always did), but you must be civil.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
UPDATED ON JANUARY 10, 2007: Originally written back in 2004, we have since added another baby so I felt I ought to acknowledge paternity here and update the other children's ages.