April 30, 2005

Lord Nelson (err, Duke of York)

Lord NelsonThe Duke of York*, from behind, in the morning fog:


I don't know why, precisely, but I think that there really is something about this picture. Maybe the contrast between the very red bus and the the very grey day.

Thanks to Jinn&Tonic for the correction! My bad!

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:11 AM | Comments (6)

April 29, 2005

Today's Architectural Photograph

Another picture from London, since I will be delayed at home this morning waiting for a moving company to come tell me how much it will cost to break all my china. This is my picture of the inside of the new dome at the British Museum:


Posted by Random Penseur at 06:12 AM | Comments (9)

April 28, 2005

Munch Theft update: Paintings destroyed?

Since the Scream and the Madonna were stolen, I have maintained the hope that they would be returned, unharmed. That may have been foolish. According to Aftenposten today:

The Munch masterpieces "The Scream" and "Madonna" have been incinerated, according to newspaper Dagbladet, citing criminal sources and a top secret police report. The paper claimed Thursday that the paintings were destroyed in order to get rid of damning evidence as the police investigation closes in on the culprits behind the robbery.

Investigation leader Iver Stensrud of the Oslo police said he had no knowledge of the supposedly secret report acknowledging the destruction of the paintings.

"This is completely unknown to Oslo police. I basically have no comment and normally we do not use Dagbladet as a reliable source here at the Oslo police," Stensrud told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting).

Three people are in custody in connection with the Munch robbery, but none of them are linked to crime via technical evidence, and the pair that carried out the heist are considered to be at large.

Dagbladet cited both criminal and police sources in their reportage, and said that police expect new arrests in the case shortly.

In any event, prepare for the worst.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:20 AM | Comments (4)

Guarding the Palace

I'm off to the doctor this morning, so, while I'm gone, I leave you this picture I took in London (I'm finally going to get around to posting some of these):


Posted by Random Penseur at 06:57 AM | Comments (8)

April 27, 2005

Random, disconnected thoughts

Today you get the collection of random thoughts that are scrambling around in my brain, fighting for attention, hoping that I'll notice them enough to let them out. I do these posts every once in a while, you may recall.

*What the heck is everyone so upset about John Bolton for? What does it matter if he is difficult or rude? How can that possibly be the issue holding up his confirmation? As the Democrats trot out every fruit cake who ever came into contact with Bolton, I can only think that this process, this trivialization of the confirmation process, can only end in scaring more people away from serving their country until we end up with those the Anti-Federalists feared the most: those who seek office and power for their own ends and not because it is good and right to serve your country.

*Sometimes, hours after you have exercised, you feel as if you could float down the hallway on legs rendered postively gossamer as a result of the blood flow.

*An important lesson learned: never challenge a Navy man on the topic of breasts. If you don't understand, feel free to ask Jim and he'll explain it to you like he did me.

*I have been toying with the idea of what I would do if I didn't have to work for a living anymore. Would I still work? Would I get a useless graduate degree? Travel without end? Or would I just continue to work anyway because my whole being and imagination, much like a tree tied down to a fence, has become so warped by years of work that too much of my self image and self esteem is wrapped up in professional identity and accomplishments? Or, finally, would it just send a bad message to the children if I just upped and quit? Note: this thought is entirely theoretical. There has been no lottery won, no inheritance gained, no huge damage award procured.

*I received a gift this morning from the locker room attendant at the gym. He's a nice guy and we chat from time to time. I suspect that maybe not everyone chats with him. Anyway, we got into a friendly argument about Rum. He's from Barbados and I was, to his mind, foolishly extolling the virtues of Guatemalan Rum which is this truly excellent stuff that you drink like a brandy, in snifters or at least without a mixer. He disagreed, being from Barbados. This morning he gave me a bottle of Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum, described on the Mount Gay website as:

EXTRA OLD, in its category, is the reference of the rum world. It is a masterful blend of the finest, aged spirits, selected attentively amongst the oldest reserves with a resulting maturity of 17 years. The force of its oak aromas is softened by its sweet, fruity notes, reminiscent of pastry and bananas. Easily identified thanks to its traditional label and its malt whisky type bottle, its magnificent luminosity, dark amber colour and extreme clarity are the key qualities of this rum. The result of many years of meticulous development, EXTRA OLD has received several Grand Gold Medals and Trophies from the highly respected International Institute for Quality competition.

I am excited to crack it open and very grateful for the gift. I'm going to get him some of the Guatemalan Rum to try.

*I am watching a not for profit I am involved with gear up for a messy internal fight. There are two boards, I serve on one of them as an officer. I just had an hour long discussion with the President of my Board, the upshot of which is that the other board may discover that they have bitten off more than they can chew on this one. I think it will be disconcerting for them to discover that we have formulated our own agenda, our own set of aims, and backed it up with advice from counsel and from an accountant. Yup, gonna be an interesting Summer for sure.

*[WARNING: SAD] Don't read the thought I put in Extended Entry unless you think today you can handle pain/sadness. Just skip it if you are feeling raw today.

I faltered today on the stupid elliptical trainer at the gym. Seriously, I almost stepped off to slink out of the fitness center to go have a cry. The morning news program showed pictures of the two children in Georgia who, from what I understand, figured out how to open the front door of the house and slipped out and ended up drowning, together, in a nearby drainage pond. The news reported that there was no evidence of foul play. I note that the drainage pond was improperly fenced with numerous holes. The picture made me want to cry as I imagined the two children drowning together. Maybe one fell in and the other tried to save the first one. Maybe they died calling for their mother, alone, bereft of help or succor. I am seriously upset as I write about this. Ever since having my own children, I am rendered completely distraught by events like this. I will end this one here because I have nothing further to say about it and am too broken up by this to continue. Rest in peace, little ones.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:21 AM | Comments (3)

April 26, 2005

Who is the most inept spy in Europe?

According to this article in the Daily Telegraph, it's Les Belges! The Belgian spies are no longer to be trusted with guns. That's right, no one is allowed to have a gun any longer:

The battered reputation of Belgium's security forces took a new hit yesterday with the revelation that its internal spy service has disarmed almost all its field agents after one drunkenly tried to shoot a colleague in the head. The civilian agents of the Sûreté de l'Etat, the equivalent of Britain's MI5, are already among the most powerless intelligence operatives in the Western world, with no right even to tap telephones.

Now, they have had their handguns confiscated on the orders of their general administrator, Koen Dassen, a Belgian newspaper reported. A working group has been established to work out who is armed and why, after Mr Dassen realised that controls were "worse than approximate".

Saar Vanderplaetsen, the chief spokesman for Laurette Onkelinx, the justice minister, confirmed that Sûreté agents had had to hand in their weapons, pending new rules and regulations.

She was unable to confirm reports that officers had gone on a virtual work-to-rule since being disarmed, including avoidance of risky missions. The exact numbers and missions of Sûreté agents are kept confidential.

Miss Vanderplaetsen said: "For the moment, everybody has had to hand in their guns because we had this incident, in October or November last year, during which an agent shot at another."

Mrs Onkelinx was reportedly distressed that she only learnt of the incident, in which no one was hurt, from the press four months after it took place in Brussels.

The agent suspected of firing his gun in the general direction of his colleague's head was said by the media to be an alcoholic with a dependency on anti-depressants.

Belgium's internal security arrangements have proved a source of frustration for their Western counterparts.

Lax passport security helped Tunisian militants based in Brussels to supply fake Belgian passports to the men who killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Afghan commander and enemy of the Taliban, in 2001.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

The travails of the house

Mark asked for an update on the house and, since I am particularly pissed off by the whole situation, I decided to write an update in the hopes that it might calm me down. Here's where things lie: I have tendered a contract to my Sellers and my Buyers have tendered a contract to me. My Sellers have not signed my contract and, thus, I have not signed my Buyers' contract. You can see why, right? If I sign my Buyers' contract to buy my house and my Sellers don't sign, I am bound to sell my house with no place to move to. My Buyers are getting antsy. So, I picked up the phone to explain the situation to them, to cut out all the middle men (the brokers and attorneys) so as to avoid diffusion of communication. Turns out the guy is a bond trader. *sigh* That means he has the professional time horizon of a day. Tops. I was told by him that he had received legal advise to withdraw his offer. Untrue according to my attorney who spoke to his attorney. Whatever. Buyer then told me that he would stand on his offer until close of business today and then re-evaluate. I said, fine, and thanked him for his courtesy.

I then heard from my lawyer that end of business means 4:00 and that "re-evaluate" means withdraw their offer.

Ok. So I email my attorney in CT and tell him that if the Sellers don't sign my contract and return it to me by 3:00 today my offer is withdrawn. As I said to my attorney, I cannot be in the position of my deal in NY falling through at the same time that I am bound to purchase this house in CT. That is a non-starter.

So now we wait while the clock ticks.

Did I mention that I am pissed? I now intend to be a prick with respect to the closing on my house, assuming that the deal goes through. What does that mean? No courtesy whatsoever shall be granted to the Buyers. No explanation that certain pipes might be adversely effected by low temperatures, despite all appearances to the contrary. No extra lightbulbs left for light fixtures we can't use anymore. I'll chuck 'em instead. I will not share any information whatsoever with respect to the house that I am not contractually required to share and that covers a multitude of topics. And that bottle of Champagne that we would usually leave for the new owners? Ain't happening. That will go to my attorney, instead.


My Sellers have returned their signed contracts. I guess the deal is going through, after all.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:01 AM | Comments (8)

April 25, 2005

No motivation, today

I got nothing, today. No topics I feel moved to write about today, although I was interested in writing about them before today. That's ok, they'll keep. I think what it is, you see, is a case of the Spring blahs. They happen to everyone, I believe. Today is my turn. So, here's what I'm going to do. If you feel motivated enough yourself to care, I will give you the two topics I was thinking about writing a little something about and let you decide what you feel like reading about.

Topic 1: Jewish holiday of Passover.

Topic 2: The power of a Court to make someone stop uttering defamatory statements.

Like I said, not much, but I'll let you vote.

Believe me, you'd rather hear about this than have me whine about coordinating the almost simultaneous sale/purchase of our old/new houses.

Posted by Random Penseur at 03:34 PM | Comments (8)

April 23, 2005

Take a moment and introduce yourself, if you would be so kind

[UPDATE] I'm sticky posting this at the top for a week or so as answers seem to be still trickling in. [/UPDATE]

Mia had an excellent idea which I am borrowing from for here and which she took from fellow Munuvian, Eric. She asked:

A while ago Eric at SWG asked his readers if they would leave a comment after a post to say if they were lurkers and/or bloggers themselves and he was surprised by the amount of comments he received. I like that idea because that would mean if they had sites themselves I could have the chance to go read what they were all about and I'd not feel so vulnerable as I do sometimes (when I see from my stats that someone has spent the last 3 hours reading my archives). So ....... if you have a moment, drop me a comment and perhaps tell me who you are? Lurker, commenter or blogger . Thank you.

I'm not feeling vulnerable, particularly, but I am curious. I figure that in a normal day, fewer than 5% of visitors as counted on my statmeter actually leave a comment. So, like Mia, I'm wondering about my visitors. Are you lurkers? Casual visitors? Google search visitors who, having found what they are looking for simply read and move on? Regular readers? Or just a good buddy (and you know who you are and I do, too) stopping by to see what's up?

Please do leave a comment and say, hello. At least that way I can get some sense as to who is reading, if anyone.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:27 AM | Comments (54)

April 22, 2005

I come not to praise Bernard Henri Levy

The Atlantic Monthly has embarked upon an ambitious and wonderfully conceived project to send celebrated French intellectual Bernard Henri Levy around the United States to emulate, sort of, the journey taken by my all time favorite Frenchman, Alexis de Toqueville. As I hope you already know, Toqueville was the young French nobleman who traveled across our fair land and penned the incomparable classic, Democracy in America. This book, to me, is the most important book ever written about America. I cannot praise it enough or overstate its importance. If you've never read it, well, go get a copy and check it out.

So, anyway, here's the Atlantic Monthly with this fabulous idea. The first report has just come out in the most recent issue and I rush to the news stand to buy it. I read the entire installment. Its very long. It, how shall I put this, really, really sucks.

Let me count the ways in which I was so cruelly disappointed. First, M. Levy doesn't seem to have the first clue about America. Second, his travels, like his writing (more on this in a moment) are disjointed and disorganized. He flits from place to place, never seeming to linger very long, with no apparent reason for going to a place or leaving a place. Third, some of the political biases he brings with him about America seem stuck in decades long since past. The war in Vietnam is over, Sir. I hope I am not the first one to clue you into that fact. Fourth, no one likes being condescended to. Just saying. Fifth, the writing style is suggestive of his entire approach. He writes in a staccato fashion, full of sentence fragments, as if to suggest great energy or urgency, that his observations are coming so fast and furious that it is impossible to get them down on the page fast enough before they are gone. Also, the style suggests a lack of calm reflection, a want of consideration and mulling over of the observations he purports to make. But I do think that the style of writing correctly reflects M. Levy's skimming over the surface approach.

The best part of the essay so far? The most impressive interchange? A policeman in rural West who, after stopping to tell M. Levy he needs to move along and discovers that Levy is following in Toqueville's footsteps, asks Levy if so far he feels that Toqueville's observations about America are still valid. Levy, I regret to report, writes of this encounter with wide eyed astonishment, as if to say that he is astounded to discover a cop with an education, but never gets around to furnishing an answer. I think that the police officer got the better of this exchange and I am proud to say so.

I hold out little hope for the next installment, even if I am going to read it anyway.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:17 AM | Comments (4)

R.I.P. Rover (no, not the dog, the car)


Rover Cars, the once proud British marque, is no more. Stunningly, I have not seen this story mentioned in the newspapers I read (the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal). Or, if the story has been mentioned, it was mentioned in passing and, to borrow from EB White, Rover passed despite the mention.

Some highlights: Rover announced about a week ago that it would no longer honour (spelled with a "u" out of respect) its warranties. That's right. You had a Rover and, bam, no more power train coverage, or any coverage. That sent the British press into a tizzy.

Then, this week, we learn that after all the land had been sold out from under the factories in a desperate attempt to raise money, the company is bankrupt.

Just so you know, that means 21,000 people are out of work now in England. Twenty One Thousand. That's a lot of people, any way you write it.

And with Rover, some say, goes the heart of British industrial manufacturing capability.

Finally, with the passing of Rover, we say good bye to some of the most famous British car names:





and of course, MG


Silly, isn't it, but I'm kind of sad.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:18 AM | Comments (6)

April 21, 2005

Happy Blogiversary to me!

Today, one year ago, I launched my little blog. At the time, I said:

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 hope to have some lively discussions as time goes by.

I think that the year has been a success. During this year period, I have put up 764 posts which, since I moved to MuNu, have attracted some 2217 comments. These 764 posts have attracted over 23,000 visitors to my Mu.Nu incarnation and, counting the prior site, 26,531 total visitors. Some of you visitors have become good friends and I value these friendships we have made together. I think you know who you are so I won't single you out now.

In any event, thank you all very much for making this such an interesting year. I'm still more than a little shocked to think that over 26,000 people have stopped by to read my blog. I'm also a little shocked that I've written 764 posts, for that matter.

And thanks, also, to Pixy, who provides such great hosting and permits those of us without great technical skills to still get in the game.

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:56 PM | Comments (11)

What's your next point, counselor?

The Girl Child, New York's newest lawyer, and I today on whether she was going to take a nap:

GC: Pappa, are you going to take a nap today?

Me: No, but you are.

GC: Why aren't you going to take a nap?

Me: Well, I just got back from the dentist and now I have to run some errands.

GC: If you're not taking a nap, then I'm not taking a nap.

Me: Oh, yes, you are.

GC: No. I do everything you do.

Me: No, you don't. First of all, I pee standing up. You don't pee standing up.

[long pause]

GC: What's second of all?

I was so proud of her just ignoring a point she couldn't refute and trying to move right along to the next point that I just took her with me on my errands. So, in the end, I guess she was right. No nap.

Posted by Random Penseur at 04:46 PM | Comments (5)

April 19, 2005

Things that made me smile today

Overheard while half listening to Sports Center on ESPN while tormenting myself on the various machines in the gym:

He was on that pitch like a fat kid on a Twinkie.

Is it bad that I laughed at this? I do like a good sports cliche.

While perusing an article on the endangered Pitcairn Island dialect which they have declared to be a language (and why not?) and are now teaching in school:

Alice Buffett, a seventh generation islander who has written a Norfuk text book and dictionary, said the pupils were enjoying learning phrases such as "Whataway yorle?" ("How are you?") and "El duu f'mada" ("They'll do for dumplings").

You have to laud a language that celebrates the integral role of the dumpling in society. "They'll do for dumplings". Big smile. I like it better than "that dog'll hunt".

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)

From King of Spain to Earl of Perth Amboy?

Ok, not really the Earl of Perth Amboy or the Duke of Newark or the Lord of Trenton, but the Count de Survilliers. Today's history link points to the historical oddity of the former King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, coming to live in exile in New Jersey in 1816 at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. Yes, that Napoleon was Joe's (we can call him Joe since he moved to New Jersey and, in fact, we can probably call him Joey if we feel like it) brother. Joey Bonaparte (damn, that has a ring to it) lived in Burlington County, New Jersey at Point Breeze in a stunning sounding estate, furnished with the spoils of aristocratic collections he had looted while his brother raped Europe. The paintings he brought with him included works by Murillo, Rubens, Canaletto, Velasquez, Snyders, Rembrandt, da Vinci, Gerard and Vernet. After he died, the paintings and the contents of his estate were all auctioned off.

There is an excellent link to the whole story here, so good, in fact, that I don't really think I have anything to add.

That said, who knew New Jersey played host to Napoleon's older brother? Very interesting.

Go here and see some of the artifacts from the sale of the estate.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:56 AM | Comments (2)

April 18, 2005

Don't judge me for this one, but. . .

The Girl Child slides over to me and whispers:

Guess what song I'm humming.

Me: I have no idea.

GC: I'll give you a clue.

Me: Ok. What kind of clue?

GC: I'll sing it [still whispering]. "Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap, dirty deeds, done dirt cheap."

Four year olds have minds like sponges. I feel a little guilty for, at some point, filling her little sponge with AC/DC.

Posted by Random Penseur at 12:20 PM | Comments (5)

Overheard on the Street: A cell phone call

Been awhile since I've heard a cell phone call worth posting, but happily, some new material has come my way. File this under how not to improve marital relations:

What am I going to do tonight? Same thing I do every night, go home to that bitch of a wife of mine. She's been sitting on the couch all day doing nothing but eating take-out Chinese food and when I get home the first thing she's going to say to me is 'Do I look fat?' And I'm gonna say, hell yeah bitch you look fat!!

The streets of New York are a never ending source of delight, amusement, and material.

Posted by Random Penseur at 12:04 PM | Comments (3)

What's old is new again

A trove of over 40,000 classical texts, unreadable for more than a century, may now be readable.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".

* * *

The papyrus fragments were discovered in historic dumps outside the Graeco-Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus ("city of the sharp-nosed fish") in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. Running to 400,000 fragments, stored in 800 boxes at Oxford's Sackler Library, it is the biggest hoard of classical manuscripts in the world.

The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy - the Epigonoi ("Progeny") by the 5th-century BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-century Greek writer Lucian; unknown material by Euripides; mythological poetry by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; work by the 7th-century BC poet Hesiod; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War. Additional material from Hesiod, Euripides and Sophocles almost certainly await discovery.

Oxford academics have been working alongside infra-red specialists from Brigham Young University, Utah. Their operation is likely to increase the number of great literary works fully or partially surviving from the ancient Greek world by up to a fifth. It could easily double the surviving body of lesser work - the pulp fiction and sitcoms of the day.

* * *

Speaker A: . . . gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.

Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle's songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.

Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot's rail.

These words were written by the Greek dramatist Sophocles, and are the only known fragment we have of his lost play Epigonoi (literally "The Progeny"), the story of the siege of Thebes. Until last week's hi-tech analysis of ancient scripts at Oxford University, no one knew of their existence, and this is the first time they have been published.

Sophocles (495-405 BC), was a giant of the golden age of Greek civilisation, a dramatist who work alongside and competed with Aeschylus, Euripides and Aristophanes.

His best-known work is Oedipus Rex, the play that later gave its name to the Freudian theory, in which the hero kills his father and marries his mother - in a doomed attempt to escape the curse he brings upon himself. His other masterpieces include Antigone and Electra.

Sophocles was the cultured son of a wealthy Greek merchant, living at the height of the Greek empire. An accomplished actor, he performed in many of his own plays. He also served as a priest and sat on the committee that administered Athens. A great dramatic innovator, he wrote more than 120 plays, but only seven survive in full.

Last week's remarkable finds also include work by Euripides, Hesiod and Lucian, plus a large and particularly significant paragraph of text from the Elegies, by Archilochos, a Greek poet of the 7th century BC.

I cannot overstate how excited I am by this news.

Hat tip to Jan at Secular Blasphemy (who, if you are not reading, you should be)

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)

How to sell a house quickly

Have a nice house to sell in a red hot housing market. Its really that simple. Here was the chronology for us:

Friday: Broker open house; five showings after that.

Saturday: Out of house all day; shown 15 times.

Sunday: Out of house all day; shown 10 times.

Sunday night: Tell those who made offers that best offers will be accepted by 11:30 a.m. on Monday.

Monday: Best offers made by 11:30, decision as to which to accept taken by 11:45.

Wednesday: House inspection occurs.

Friday: Contracts signed by buyers and 10% deposit check forwarded to my attorney.

I am a little bit astounded by the rapidity of it all, I must say.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:45 AM | Comments (6)

April 17, 2005

No metaphors, just the facts

First, thank you all for the thoughts and the prayers for my aunt. I considered turning the comments off for that entry and I'm glad I didn't. So, as I said in the title, here are the facts and just the facts.

The diagnosis, after the scans, is very grim. The cancer is located in her leg, as I said, but also in her neck and spine, which we didn't know. Simply put, this is a death sentence. I'm not sure how long she has, but this will kill her and will do so very painfully.

The best we can hope for, according to the many doctors in our family, is that she can start chemotherapy, have the chemo cause the cancer to go into remission, and then, have it go very fast when the cancer inevitably returns to her body. So, that is what I'm hoping for.

We had my parents over for dinner last night so they could play with the grandchildren and have a moment or two away from this. They had a nice time but. But. My father looked diminished by the news and sadder and suddenly older. He is the younger brother and he worshiped his sister growing up. I hope my son never gets news like this. He fielded one hysterical crying phone call from one of my aunt’s five children yesterday.

As for me, I'm kind of numb, still trying to make myself understand and accept this. My aunt and her family have always been very close to our family. I need to call my cousins today. I just, again, don't know what to say. I'll find something but whatever it is, it will be inadequate.

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:08 AM | Comments (8)

April 15, 2005

What can you say?

Cancer has been a fact of life for humanity for many, many years, some countries more than others. What is cancer? It is abnormal growth of abnormal cells leading to the formation of abnormal tissue. In other words, your cells freak out and make tumors. They can spread pretty quick, too. And if you've had a type of cancer before, you are, I gather, at a higher risk for having your cells freak out again in some other area.

Like my aunt. She had and beat breast cancer. She's one tough cookie. But she went to the doctor yesterday because of persistent pain in her leg.

She has bone cancer.

It was not a good day for the home team, yesterday.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:52 AM | Comments (14)

April 14, 2005

Expect it to be quiet today here

Today, I have to practice some law and stop blogging and stop reading and stop dealing with house moving stuff and house selling stuff and all the other shite. So, it will be quiet here today, in blogland. If you've come to read me today, may I suggest you check out some of my "Daily (practically) Reads"? They are all exceptional writers.

But before you go, spare a moment and remember President Abraham Lincoln, shot down this day in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater. He may have been the greatest president we have ever known.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:56 AM | Comments (3)

April 13, 2005

Gentlemen: Check your closets when you get home tonight

Check your closet when you get home tonight, gentlemen. The life you save may be your own.

This from the AP Wire today:

TENNESSEE: MAN SLAIN AFTER FINDING WIFE'S LOVER A Nashville man was beaten to death after catching his wife's lover living in a closet in their home, the police said. Rafael DeJesus Rocha-Perez, 35, left, was charged with homicide in the weekend slaying of Jeffrey A. Freeman, 44. Mr. Freeman's wife, Martha, had allowed Mr. Rocha-Perez to live in a closet of the Freemans' four-bedroom home for about a month without her husband's knowledge, the police said. On Sunday, Mr. Freeman discovered Mr. Rocha-Perez after hearing snoring and ordered his wife to get the man out of the house, the authorities said. Ms. Freeman told the authorities that Mr. Rocha-Perez bludgeoned her husband with a shotgun. (AP)

I don't really know what to add to this, if anything. But, come on, stashing your lover in the closet of the guest bedroom? Are you kidding me? I don't know about your guest bedroom closet, but I have cleverly ruled this possiblity out for my wife by already filling that closet with assorted crap and detritus. So, I'm feeling pretty safe at home right now I'd have to say.

Just the same, I'm going to take a quick tour of the closet and attic. Just saying.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:47 AM | Comments (6)

The End of the Rule of Law in Britain

The Rule of Law, that which has elevated out of the Hobbesian version of life being nasty, short, and brutish, has collapsed in England. I base this on anecdotal evidence, the best kind really. I find this truly shocking when you realize that England is the home to what we consider the start of real civil liberties.

So, before we dive in, let's consider for a moment what is meant by the Rule of Law ("RoL") and the role of the Government in that scheme. At its base, the RoL will preserve the security of private property, both from invasion from abroad and from invasion from within. The RoL will make sure that you are safe in your property -- safe from intruders, perhaps from fire, safe in your title to it as you are protected from false and adverse claims to your ownership, and safe and secure in your castle, as the old saying goes. At its base, without that assurance of security, your willingness to participate in society, and perhaps your ability to do so, is fatally compromised. How do I support that? Easy. If your overriding concern is protecting your property from threats, you have no time to do anything else -- to grow food, to vote, to travel to local markets, to worship with your neighbors, to do practically anything except stand guard. You pay for this protection through taxes levied on your property and that is a rather acceptable convention and compromise. The RoL is not free but you can expect, most of the time, it will work and it will work to preserve property and thus preserve the social order.

But what if it stops working? Let me posit the following scenario. You own a second home, a vacation home. You own it free and clear, no cloud on your title, no mortgage, no adverse claims to possession. You can do with it as you please, assuming no wet lands or town ordinances restricting you. It is walled completely by a 10 foot high brick wall. One weekend, going out to the place for a little relaxation, you discover that your house has been broken into to and taken over by a group of squatters who proclaim their intention to live there.

What do you do and what do you expect to be done?

* * * *

Didn't have to think for long, did you?

You'd invoke the basic protections of the RoL and call the police and tell them to get out here and expel the intruders, right? Of course you would.

And you'd expect the police to go ahead and do just that, right? Again, basically yes. It might be more complicated than that but somebody would get arrested and rehoused in jail and someone else might be handed off to social services and rehoused in a shelter, but you'd probably get your house back. The RoL would have been vindicated.

Anything shocking about this scenario to anyone?

Yes? Well, then, my guess is that you must live in England where a person's home is no longer a person's castle.

I just read a little piece in the property section of the Telegraph that impels the conclusion that England has withdrawn the forces of the Government from supporting the RoL. Apparently, in a factual situation practically identical to the one I posited, a family has been forced to rent the vacation house to the squatters at a rent of ÂŁ1 a week and an agreement to vacate the premises on three months notice. No word on how or who can enforce the agreement to vacate.

But what prompted my little tirade here was the statement put out by the police, and it is no exaggeration to say I found it shocking (“travellers”, below, are basically squatters):

Inspector Martin Elliott, chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, (0845 8505 505), comments: "The whole subject of travellers and the law in the UK is a complete mess. Legally, trespass is not a criminal offence but a civil tort. All of the public signs that herald that 'trespassers will be prosecuted' are therefore inaccurate, and should read 'trespassers may be subject to civil litigation'. Obviously, this does not carry the same punch and would probably deter no one.

"The Government attempted to strengthen the law in relation to invasions of land a number of years ago, and created legislation that basically required there to be more than 12 vehicles and the land-owner to demand that they quit within a reasonable time.

"Then, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intervened and issued guidance to police forces and councils, which laid the grounds for a 'holistic' approach. This guidance suggests that a problem-solving approach is taken, with councils, police and land-owners working together to encourage travellers to either settle in a locality, or act more responsibly when moving around the UK.

"This is fine for large invasions of land, but what about when three or four vehicles turn up, as in this story? I would suggest that, in these circumstances, there is very little that the police can do."

Did you get that? Very little the police can do to enforce your right to occupy your property without interference.

As I started this post, I end it: The Rule of Law in England appears to be dead.

And by the way, I would think, as an aside, that this kind of thing should well and truly kill the secondary property market in England. After all, would you go to the trouble of buying a second house only to house some stranger? Not me, mate.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:26 AM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2005

Today in History: The Civil War Begins


Today, in 1861, at 4:30 a.m. Fort Sumter was fired upon, returned fire, and the United States was officially at war with itself.

After it had all ended, over 600,000 Americans had perished. Source.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)

There I was . . .

. . . standing in the bathroom, slumped against the wall, my head pressed to the cold metal of the door frame on the stall, wondering whether I was going to vomit, and not sure whether I hoped I would already or whether I thought I could chance taking the train home without throwing up all over myself. Not exactly the high point of my day yesterday, but I suppose it will have to do by way of introduction to the migraine that burst into being sometime after 3:00, as near as I can recall.

I've had these headaches since I was a child but I've not had one for a very long time and this one just seemed to come out of nowhere. I called the nanny and asked her to pick me up from the train and then waited as long as I could, in a dark conference room or shuttling between the dark conference room and the bathroom when the nausea got too intense and felt too sudden, until I was reasonably certain I would not vomit from the pain on the train.

I made my way slowly to the train and sat down, pulling a cap low over my eyes, and sat there for the entire ride, trying to think of anything other than what I had for lunch. I sat there in more or less of a daze, not sleeping, not awake, just zoned out so that the announcement for my station came as a surprise, a welcome surprise but a surprise just the same, thus indicating that I had lost all spatial relationship with my sense of time and distance -- usually I know exactly where the train is in relation to my stop without effort.

I walked, again very slowly and with great attention to my balance, up to the parking lot where the nanny collected me, thank goodness, and I was able to locate the sun glasses I had left in the car and she took me home. She took one look at me and said that she would stay with the kids until my wife got home. That was very kind as I was close to totally incapacitated at that point.

I went upstairs, undressed, and climbed into bed, still wearing my sun glasses, where I remained and I think I may have slept, for about 2 hours and the worst of it passed and I was finally able to remove my sun glasses and tolerate the light.

When I was a child and would get these, I always had to vomit from the pain, I could not tolerate light, and I had to get cold, as cold as I could. Sometimes, I would take off all my clothes and lie on the tile floor of the bathroom, just to get as cold as I could, with a towel wrapped around my head to keep the light out. I think that used to worry my parents quite a lot when I was small. I can certainly understand why that would be.

Today, I am post-migraine. Not 100% by any means. I did not work out and I took 2 advil as a precaution because I can still feel something lurking. If I make it through the whole day, I will declare a victory.

I suppose time will tell.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:12 AM | Comments (5)

April 11, 2005

Our House was Off Limits this Weekend

The house was listed on Thursday and the brokers' open house was on Friday. Between Friday and Sunday night, I believe it was shown about 20 times, maybe more. We were politely asked by our realtor to make ourselves scarce this weekend since, after all, they are trying to show a house in which a family resides all while pretending no one lives there.

We were out on Saturday by 9 to deliver the children into the tender care of their grandparents. The kids slept over there Saturday night and, by most accounts, had a really nice time. Although, my father reports the following interesting exchange with the Girl Child:

GC: The Boy Child and I are going to get married and have a baby.

Grandfather: What are you going to do with the baby?

GC: We're going to play with it.

Grandfather: Where will the baby come from?

GC: Out of my butt!

That seems pretty close, actually, for a 4 year old.

And when queried about what she was going to be when she grew up, she explained that she was going to be a dentist and a ballet dancer and when questioned further about the combination, replied indignantly, "I can do both!!" You go, girl!

But that was all from Sunday. On Saturday, still on Saturday, my wife and I enjoyed a practically perfect example of the pre-child day, the kind of weekend day we used to spend when we were younger and had no responsibilities in our relationship other than making each other happy. Actually, those were pretty nice days, in retrospect.

We drove into the City on a glorious Spring day, dropped my wife's bag off at the gym so we could work out later and went off to the nearby American Scandinavian Foundation House to see an exhibit of contemporary Norwegian paintings from the collection of her Majesty, Queen Sonja of Norway -- a dedicated collector of contemporary Norwegian art. They also exhibited some of the Queen's stunning photographs of Norwegian nature. The photographs were mostly far superior to the paintings, I felt.

Then a taxi down to Chelsea to get tickets for the matinee performance of the Richmond Ballet at the Joyce. The Joyce is the preeminent center for modern dance performance in New York City. The best troupes in the world come through NY and many of them play the Joyce. Pre-child, we used to have a subscription to the Joyce and attended a lot of performances there. I heart the Joyce.

After procuring tickets, we adjourned for lunch at the Rocking Horse Cafe, where we sipped exceptionally spicy Bloody Mary's, drank strong coffee, and where my wife fell in love with a sandwich. And she fell hard for this: the Croque Señor, pulled pork sandwich with rajas poblanos, avocado, watercress, and queso Chihuahua.

After lunch, we wondered up the avenue a bit to go to my favorite source for Gay dance music so I could get the latest Gay Pride cd and whatever other excellent Gay party mix my buddy behind the counter, who has been there for years, could talk me into buying. They always have such a great selection and, what can I say, I love the music.

Then, the ballet. I was so disappointed by the performance. First of all, this was a big deal for this troupe -- the State Ballet of Virginia. This was their New York debut. As one group seated behind us said, they were "prepared within an inch of their lives". An inch, huh? Maybe they should have gone the extra mile. We saw two pieces -- Nuevo Tango and some Scottish thing. They were terrible. The dancers were wooden, no emotion, bad lines, sloppy movements, poorly defined hands and legs. I had a thought while watching them that just flinging yourself around a stage does not a ballet make. The choreography was worse, though. It was filled with cliches like dancers walking purposefully around the stage, lots of floor rolls, excessive use of props, overly dramatic lighting, total insensitivity to the music (unless that was the point, but I doubt it), and bad timing plays. It was dreadful. It was a second rate performance, if that.

I think we are spoiled living in NY and having our eyes trained by the best dancers in the world. I think that maybe the Richmond dancers, maybe, are at a disadvantage being so far from other dancers and the exchange of dance ideas and developments. I am trying not to say that they were provincial, because that is such a loaded word, but. . .

In any event, after the ballet, such as it was, we window shopped our way back over to the East Side and to go work out. On the way, we popped into furniture stores and thrift shops and a fun restaurant supply store where, my wife pointed out and wants to get, a sign for the kitchen which reads: The Hostess will seat you. I eyed several big espresso makers covetously, out of the corner of my eye so as not to alarm my good wife.

After a decent workout, we took ourselves off for dinner in the little concentration of Indian restaurants in the upper 20's in Lexington Avenue and for a little spice shopping in one of the excellent spice stores. My wife also picked up a glossy Bollywood gossip magazine from which I have added the word "gymming" to my lexicon. I did manage a decent little play on words, something that passes for humor in my house, when my wife and I had the following conversation concerning her order of Butter Chicken:

W: Do you think that they make this with regular butter or with Ghee?

Me: I have no idea. Why don't you ask the waiter and perhaps he can clarify it for you?

On the way home from the City, we received a phone call from my parents. The Girl Child was demanding to come home. She was only pacified with the promise of pancakes in the morning but it looked, for a moment there, as if we were going to have to go get her.

The Boy Child, by the way, declined to nap at my parents' house. My father said that after the Boy Child was piteously crying for a really long time, he went in where my son looked up at my father, cried, "Duuuude!", was picked up, flung his arms around my father's neck and kissed him as his savior. My father was quite pleased.

In any event, it was a wonderful day.

Now, as for the house, let the bidding begin!

By the way, if you are curious, I've put a picture of the exterior in extended entry below.

Our house:


Posted by Random Penseur at 10:15 AM | Comments (6)

April 08, 2005

Some friends are hanging it up

Go and bid Amber and Dan farewell as they hang up the blogging spurs and ride off into the sunset. They are great writers and I will miss them both. Thanks for all the great writing, you two, and best of luck in your future endeavors!

Posted by Random Penseur at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

The juxtaposition

The juxtaposition was a useful tool in studying architectural history, many moons ago. We would put two buildings up on the wall at the same time and compare and contrast and see what we could learn from the process. Like I said, a useful tool for art history but it has its limitations when applied to other things. I keep telling myself that, you see, and I'm almost convinced.

I was working out this morning, as I do most every morning, and the television was broadcasting coverage of the funeral of the Pope. While at first I was very skeptical about the benefit to my work out this broadcast could have, I ended up engrossed. It was beautiful and moving and wonderful and terribly sad all at the same time. One priest said it best when he said that maybe there was a life lesson here for all of us -- that here was a man who was rich beyond compare in love, his funeral attended by millions but who owned almost nothing, had no money, no family and no sexual intimacy but who was nonetheless rich. Something there for sure, even if I am not willing to pay the kind of price this man paid, putting to one side the fact that I am Jewish. Still, a much loved and, by all accounts, a tremendous man, a tremendous human being, a tremendous loss to the Catholic Church and to the world as a whole. New Yorkers have a special bond with the Church, whether you are Jewish or Catholic or something else. When John Cardinal O’Connor died, I felt it as my loss, because as a New Yorker I felt he was my Cardinal, too. I hope my Catholic readers understand and don't mind my claiming him, too. And I think it was like that for a lot of New Yorkers.

Anyway, back to Rome and this morning. I was mortifying the flesh on the elliptical trainer and watching the funeral and it was very special.

And then, a commercial. The commercial, the first one in over 20 minutes, was for a drug, a medicine. Ok so far, right? The drug had something to do with vaginal infections. It had a long list of warnings and side effects -- like be careful because your vagina could fall out if you take this or you could bleed or your uterus might float away.

Boom. Your juxtaposition. Funeral of the Pope right up next to vaginal bleeding. The best and worst of America in terms of picking a time and place to run that advert. Advertisements pay for the television coverage. They make it possible to send the reporters to Rome and broadcast this beautiful rite. I get it, really. But couldn't Fox News have shown a different commercial at that time? Something a little less graphic, perhaps. Something a little more solemn. Maybe I'm the only one that this bothered, and that's ok, since its my blog and I get to write about whatever I want. But it was the juxtaposition that got to me. The Sacred/Profane or at least mundane. I would have felt the same if the ad was for foot fungus, by the way. What did this juxtaposition say about America, this mixture of Rite/Commerce?

And here is where I run into the limitations of the juxtaposition, for while the juxtaposition may always teach you something, maybe the lesson isn't worth having or the comparisons don't hold water.

I don't know if that happened here because I find myself curiously reluctant to follow the path that this juxtaposition is leading me -- to condemn Fox and American television for their timing. What do you think? Is this a juxtaposition worth talking about? Or should I have gotten off the machine before I cooked my brain this morning?

Posted by Random Penseur at 03:25 PM | Comments (4)

Parent/Teacher Conference

We had the Girl Child's parent/teacher conference last night. It was, not unexpectedly, a love fest. They had only wonderful things to say about her: clearly very bright; very sweet; highly mature; listens well; nice to others; plays well with everyone; attentive to instructions; and just a joy and a pleasure to have around. They said that if everyone in the class were like her it would be a much easier job.

They told us nothing we didn't already know, of course, but I could still sit for hours and listen to people say nice things about my daughter.

Oh, and they were all totally charmed by the way the Boy Child came into class with the Girl Child every morning and waited to leave until after he and she gave each other hugs and kisses.

There are days I feel so lucky that I am simply waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:27 AM | Comments (4)

The Boy Child is fine, thank you

Since you all asked so nicely and sent such good wishes, I feel compelled to let you know that the Boy Child is just fine. Perhaps it was just a touch of stomach flu, no way to know really. But he's fine and happy and beautiful as ever.

Thanks for all the well wishing!

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

Today's Telephone Call of the Day

We have been having major problems with our phone lines this week and I just got a helpful call from Verizon to check on our status. It went something like this:

Her: Hi, this is Verizon calling to check on the status of your phone lines. Are they working?

Me: I don't really know.

Her: [astonished] You mean you haven't checked!

Me: Well, it really isn't my job to check and no one asked me to, but if you hang on for a second, I can go check right now, I suppose.

Her: Ok, now if you have any problems I will give you the Verizon repair number to call.

Me: What? You mean I can't just tell you, a Verizon employee calling to check the status of my lines, if I have a problem with my lines? That won't take care of it?

Her: No.

I hung up shortly thereafter since it was clear to me that this call had no purpose other than to waste my time and pad a statistic for the public utilities commission the next time Verizon wanted to raise rates. What a total crock.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2005

Munch Theft update

Do the police finally have a theory? Well, according to Aftenposten, maybe the Munch theft was linked to another robbery and maybe the gang who stole the Munch paintings did so to create a spectacular art theft that would tie up and divert police resources while the gang went on to perform another fantastic heist. Sounds ridiculous. Sounds like the police need to get some more money so they can buy a clue. I've been following this theft for some time and, well, here's the text of the article (in case the link expires) and you be the judge:

Munch robbery a diversion? Police now apparently rounding up the final suspects in one of Norway's biggest robbery cases now believe their work may also lead to a breakthrough in the high-profile theft of two masterpieces by Edvard Munch.

The robbery, which was a ruthless and large-scale operation, resulted in the shooting death of police officer Arne Sigve Klungland, making it an exceptionally violent crime by Norwegian standards.

The police investigation to catch the members of the gang behind the NOKAS robbery is the biggest law-enforcement operation ever launched in Norway, and has already cost NOK 65 (USD 10.2) million, probably a bit more than the thieves made off with.

Now investigators say they cannot rule out that the robbery of Munch masterpieces "The Scream" and "Madonna" from the Munch Museum in Oslo on August 22 last year was part of an advance maneuver from the band behind the NOKAS heist. The goal would have been to tie up investigative resources by creating a spectacular art theft.

On the grounds that the members of the various criminal networks in the underworld in Oslo and eastern Norway know each other, police inspector Iver Stensrud is optimistic that more than one case may be solved by the NOKAS investigation.

"I would therefore not rule out that the arrests in the NOKAS case will lead to a positive development in the investigation of the Munch case," Stensrud told Aftenposten.

Police have biological trace evidence in the getaway car used in the Munch robbery, and have an increasing number of suspects in custody to test.

The Malaga arrest of Toska, in the company of a 28-year-old Norwegian suspected of being behind a major hashish smuggling operation, is another indicator to police that Norway's criminal circles often merge, with multi-faceted international criminals becoming the norm.

"It is interesting for us that these two were arrested together. It is relevant to raise the question of whether part of the robbery take has been used to purchase large quantities of hashish, and this is something the police will investigate closely," Stensrud said.

Think I'm being too hard on these poor, hard working idiots? The only promising thing, from my vantage point, is that they may have some form of "biological evidence" recovered from the getaway car.

I despair that these paintings will ever be found.

And while on the subject, I bet if they ever do catch anyone, no one is going to jail because they will demonstrate that they are unbalanced. I mean, if you can get away with stabbing six people on a bus, killing one of them, and not serve any prison time, what do you have to do to get put in the clink?

Accused killer not legally sane A Norwegian-Somalian who went amok on an Oslo tram last August, killing one and injuring five with a combat knife, has been assessed as psychotic and cannot serve prison time.

Police arrive on the scene of the stabbing rampage that stunned Oslo in August last year.

Forensic psychiatrists say the 41-year-old man was psychotic when the crimes were committed and is still psychotic and recommend he receive treatment for at least five years. He stands charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

District attorney Terje Nybøe will ask that the defendant be transferred to compulsory psychiatric care when the trial begins in Oslo municipal court on April 26.

Defense counsel Heidi Bache-Wiig said her client does not remember anything that happened and will plead not guilty.

The 41-year-old was seated in the front of the tram and suddenly stood up and began methodically stabbing passengers. The driver stopped and opened the doors to help people escape and the assailant ran off, eventually getting away after threatening a motorist into surrendering a vehicle.

The Norwegian-Somalian man was a known 'ticking bomb'. He had been released from the psychiatric polyclinic at UllevĂĄl University Hospital four days before the tram attack and was on the police list of suspects when they received a tip from a mosque that led to an arrest.

The 41-year-old had no medication and reportedly had been sleeping rough, on benches and in bus shelters, and spending his days in a park in the period before the attack.

The investigation revealed that the defendant had tried to receive medical help just three hours before the rampage, but was refused. Norway's Board of Health criticized UllevĂĄl for their treatment of the man, and for not supplying their final report to the man's physician.

Bache-Wiig told Aftenposten that she is still considering suing UllevĂĄl for compensation for the way her client was treated.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

The Last Interview thought

It kind of hit me last night that my brave volunteers set themselves up for whatever questions I felt like asking and then answered them forthrightly and completely, for which I am very grateful. But it occurred to me that maybe it shouldn't be so one sided. Michele, in one comment, suggested that I answer all the questions that I asked people. Well, I'm not really inclined to do that since that would be something like 38 questions. But it did seem to me that if my interviewees wanted to each pose one question to me, that would total the same number of questions that they each had to answer individually and give them each a chance to turn the tables back around on me, which they might enjoy.

So, Indigo, Hannah, Dee, Angie, Helen, and John, do you all want to ask me one question each? What do you think? Make sense to extend this meme in one last direction and point it back at me?

I leave it up to you all entirely.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:43 AM | Comments (3)

Some Girl Child conversations

She was on a roll, last night.

First, the nanny and I were talking and the Girl Child came over and inserted herself into the conversation with this comment:

GC: Nanny is going to have a baby.

N: I am?

GC: Yeah, with her boyfriend.

N: Well, maybe someday, but not now.

Me: Besides, doesn't her boyfriend get a vote in that?

N: Yeah, daddies are very important, you know.

GC: No. They don't get to make decisions. The only ones who make decisions are Presidents and Mammas.

We both laughed but it occurred to me that it was not entirely inaccurate and moreover the President has to act, in some things at least, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The same thing is not really true for the Mamma who rarely acts with the advice and consent of the Pappa.

Then, later last night, I was putting the Girl Child in her bed and we had the following exchange:

GC: I hope that spider doesn't come back out from under my bed.

Me: If he does, don't worry, I'll eat him.

GC: Yuck!

Me: No, they're pretty good if you grill them.

GC: Pappa, you eat the yuckiest things!!!

Me: No, I don't.

GC: Yes, you do. People don't eat bugs. Frogs eat bugs. People eat food. And dessert. And snacks. And lunch and that's it.

There you have it, the four major food groups: Food; Dessert; Snacks; and Lunch.

No word on the spider.

As for the Boy Child last night, it was vomit city. All over his bed, my wife, the stairs, and his pyjamas. It was a long night.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:04 AM | Comments (4)

April 06, 2005

Last interview concluded: Angie's answers are up!

With Angie's answers up, this now concludes the interview game for my blog.

Thanks for playing, Angie!

This was actually a lot of fun and I might seriously think about doing it again some time, assuming interest on the part of prospective interviewees!

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:36 PM | Comments (2)

While on the subject of headlines. . .

This one, from the NY Law Journal on Monday:

Sex Trafficking Trial to Begin in Brooklyn

No word on when the trial will be expanded to Manhattan, but I'll keep you posted. Is this a great city or what?

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)

An quaint formulation

I am not a generalist as a lawyer. I am a specialist, practicing in the field of complex corporate litigation, often dealing with complicated and expensive financial matters, sometimes frauds. There is a lot of law I don't know diddly about. In fact, there is more work that I don't do, way more, than work that I am qualified to do. For instance, the list of things I have no experience in would include, but is not limited to, family law, matrimonial, personal injury, medical malpractice, tax, entertainment, patent, trusts and estates, criminal law (except for white collar), and, construction law. I could go on, but you get the idea, right?

That long preamble was intended to explain why I have never seen a "Citation", as the document is called, from NY State Surrogate's Court. The Surrogate's Court is the Court which deals with the probate of wills and the administration of estates. As an aside, the building in NY City is flat out gorgeous and if you have the chance, you should stick your head in. Anyway, one of my colleagues is working on a contested will case. Bitterly contested and I won't go into the details here because, inter alia, I don't really know them. But my colleague came in to show me this Citation because it starts with the following language:

By the Grace of God Free and Independent,

And then it continues by telling the reader what the Court is ordering you to show up and argue about. But I was struck by this lovely opening language in the caption. By the Grace of God Free and Independent. Isn't that lovely and quaint and maybe even antiquated as a formulation? Even if we are free and independent, although maybe less so since the feds aggregated all sorts of powers to themselves and expanded the role and power of administrative agencies and delegated all these quasi-legislative powers with little oversight to them and then created all of these unfunded mandates. . . Well, you get the idea. I'm going to stop here.

Still, I like it. By the Grace of God Free and Independent. That has quite a ring to it, doesn't it? I wonder when they started using this style.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:31 AM | Comments (3)

Today's misread headline

Sometimes I read too fast. Couple that with not getting nearly enough sleep, and not nearly enough high quality sleep, and you get this, at 5:45 a.m. on the train platform:

Actual Headline: Influx of Pilgrims Puts Strains on the Italians.

Headline as Read: Influx of Pilgrims Puts Strains on the Indians.

My Thought: What is this, an historical headline? Of course the Indians would have been put out by the arrival of the Pilgrims. It was the beginning of the end to their way of . . . Oh. Italians. Must mean the Pope. Right. Never mind. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along. How'd the Yankees do against Boston yesterday?

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

John's Interview Answers are up!

John has posted his answers and they are, uniformly, excellent and interesting. I highly recommend you go forth and read them. John's description of his perfect performance was exceptional. Thanks, John, for your thoughtful answers!

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2005

Helen's Answers are up!

Helen has posted her answers and they are, as expected, really great. Go forth and read them! Thanks for playing, Helen!

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

Sixth Interview: John

John is someone I like very much and so, when he came in late on the responses, I told him that I'd be happy to make an exception for him and throw some questions his way.

So, I will ask John five questions below and he will respond on his blog, let me know, and I will link to his answers. Actually, though, I'm posing six questions in case he doesn't want to answer any one question. So, John, you can pick and choose or answer them all. I leave it up to you, entirely.

Anyway, here are the questions and a link to the rules, which John has to include on his page:

1. You are on the desert island. What three books would you have to have and what would you want to be able to drink while reading them?

2. What’s your opinion on the designated hitter? Ruined baseball or extended the careers of some great players?

3. What is the most iconic song to come out of the 1980's?

4. What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you become it? Are you ok with not becoming it? If you did become it, has it been all you hoped?

5. Describe the best performance you’ve ever given and tell me why it was the best. Was it the crowd? The technical aspects? What made it great?

6. Describe your perfect, self-indulgent, guilty escape from work/family day. Even if it is just a fantasy.

John, it was only with the greatest restraint that I refrained from asking you: where is the oddest place you’ve ever had sex (and I don’t mean on/in your body by place)?

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:15 PM | Comments (3)

April 03, 2005

Fifth Interview: Helen

Helen is our fifth, but not final, interview. I must say that I'm both delighted that she stepped forward and feeling a little constrained by interviewing someone for whom I have such affection and admiration. Plus, I'd really hate to piss Angus off with my questions. I like Angus. One of these days, soon, I have to write a bit about dinner with the two of them!

So, I will ask Helen five questions below and she will respond on her blog, let me know, and I will link to her answers. Actually, though, I'm posing six questions in case she doesn't want to answer any one question. So, Helen, you can pick and choose or answer them all. I leave it up to you, entirely.

Anyway, here are the questions and a link to the rules, which Helen has to include on her page:

1. You live in London and have lived in Sweden. Has living abroad changed your understanding of your own native country? Do you sometimes feel as if you are the designated American representative on all issues?

2. You are on death row and it is time to pick your last meal. What is it and what would you drink with it. Assume no limits.

3. You’ve won the lottery and are going back to school to do a doctorate. In what field and why?

4. If you could go back in time and apologize to someone, who would it be and why?

5. Do you think that men who prefer woman who shave their pubic hair are threatened by real women?

6. Why do you blog? What do you get out of it?

Helen, I had several other questions I wanted to pose, too! So, if you don't like these, let me know. Although the others might be worse! For instance, which cartoon character do you identify more with, Tom or Jerry?

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:28 AM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2005

Hannah's answers are up!

Hannah has posted her answers to the interview questions and they were full and detailed. Some very cool explanations of things like the Dutch educational system. Go check 'em out!

Posted by Random Penseur at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

Fourth Interview: Angie

Say hello to Angie, our fourth interview.

I will ask her five questions below and she will respond on her blog, let me know, and I will link to her answers. Actually, though, I'm posing six questions in case she doesn't want to answer any one question. So, Angie, you can pick and choose or answer them all. I leave it up to you, entirely.

Anyway, here are the questions and a link to the rules, which Angie has to include on her page:

1. If you could pick one world affliction to end, which would it be and why? What bad effect on the world at large do you think your choice might have?

2. What is your biggest disappointment to date? How have you rebounded from it, assuming you have?

3. How is it to work in a traditionally male dominated profession? Do you find it different from other jobs you have held?

4. What is your favorite room in your house and why? How is it furnished?

5. What was the most unexpectedly great class you’ve ever taken?

6. Why do you blog? What do you get out of it?

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

Dee's Answers are up!

Wow, Dee, that was really fast! Thanks for playing. If you'd like to go see Dee's answers, and I'm sure you do, go check 'em out here!

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:12 PM | Comments (1)

Some random, disconnected thoughts

I have way too much going on right now to impose the kind of intellectual rigor required to produce a good, or at least decent, coherent post, so, as is my wont from time to time, I give you the following disconnected observations and thoughts that are rattling around in my head:

*I'm sorry that the Pope appears to be dying. On balance, I think he was a force for good and that the world will be a poorer place without him. That isn't to say I agreed with everything he did, or every position he took, because that would likely be impossible. But still, I'm sorry.

*I have not blogged about the elections in Zimbabwe. As you may know, the situation there has concerned me for many years. However, the regular media is paying lots of attention and I have nothing new to add. When the NY Times and the rest of the world goes away, I'll be back poking at it with a sharp stick.

*I read the newspaper on the train in the morning and then watch television news while working out. Does the television news channel rely almost entirely on the print media who, my issues with them to one side, do an outstanding job in comparison to the television types?

*There is something so relaxing about bringing a cup of coffee into the steam room after working out that it verges on the obscene.

*Putting your house together to sell is an exercise in small deceptions as you try to erase most, if not all, evidence of the fact that you live there. I will be keeping that in mind as I return on Saturday to the house my wife and I will most likely be buying. In the meantime, I hope nothing major happens to my house *fingers crossed*.

*Being a parent, any kind of parent (working, stay at home, whatever), is an exercise in applied guilt. Always being torn between different obligations, always trying to be patient with children, always feeling like you are short changing someone or something. Guilt. Learn to live with it because it ain't going away.

*Helen has had a birthday and is changing demographic groups. She might appreciate a happy birthday wish.

*Elizabeth is having a particularly tough time these days. If you have a moment, I suspect a kind word, while not helping any, would at least not go amiss.

*How can you not be impressed with the way Simon is kicking butt on readership? Congratulations to you, Simon, on a great blog!

*The heavens are supposed to open up this weeked and dump 3-5 inches of rain on us in a roughly 24 hour period. I've had better news, but, at least it ain't snow.

*I yearn for summer, for the shirt off on the beach, for making sand castles with my kids, for the smell of sun screen, for chlorine in the kiddy pool, and for rum drinks.

*Finally, I have put my tax information together. Those rum drinks sure sound good right about now.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:31 AM | Comments (4)

Third Interview: Dee

Dee is the newest person under the lens today.

I will ask her five questions below and she will respond on her blog, let me know, and I will link to her answers. Actually, though, I'm posing six questions in case she doesn't want to answer any one question. So, Dee, you can pick and choose or answer them all. I leave it up to you, entirely.

Anyway, here are the questions and a link to the rules, which Dee has to include on her page:

1. What is the one food you cannot abide and why? If there isn’t one, what is the oddest thing you’ve ever eaten?

2. What is the single most impulsive thing you’ve ever done? How did it turn out for you?

3. What piece of art moves you more than anything, and why?

4. How did you come to find yourself living a submissive lifestyle? Was the transition very difficult? Do your children know?

5. If you could pack up in live in any other city in the world, which one and why?

6. Why do you blog? What do you get out of it?

Tune in later for Dee's answers!

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)