June 25, 2005

The Abyss

I stand looking into the abyss and it is looking back at me. It is contained within the confines of a corrugated cardboard box.

Monday and Tuesday, the movers come to pack us for our move. Before that, Saturday and Sunday, I must scurry around the house frantically packing up all the valuables I can find to bring them over to my parents' house. I also have to get clothes and things packed for a 2-3 week sleep over at my parents' house. My parents are being very nice about the fact that a hotel for that time would be 6-8 grand and it just ain't in the budget.

Wednesday, the movers remove us from the house.

Thursday afternoon, we sell the house.

Friday, we buy the new house.

If you've ever done this before, you know that there are more than a few places where these well laid plans could go awry.

Perforce, blogging will be somewhere between light and none. Consumption of rum in the evenings may be a bit higher. Just a guess, of course, but a good guess just the same.

Posted by Random Penseur at 06:40 AM | Comments (20)

June 23, 2005

Only a lawyer would . . .

Sometimes I am amused by my colleagues, all of whom are wicked smart. Here is the comment made by one of the senior guys when he changed a "will" in a letter I drafted to a "should".

I want it to be unclear whether it is "should" in the normative sense or "should" in the predictive sense.

Are we all clear?

I walked out of his office with a small smile on my face. The games we lawyers play sometimes.

Posted by Random Penseur at 03:44 PM | Comments (9)

June 22, 2005

The well is a tad dry today

I lack inspiration today. Well, no, that isn't true. I lack the energy to write a decent post today.

I was up at around 3:00 this morning, stressed by all the shit that needs organizing and attention as we slide faster and faster to the move. This thing, this move, this sale/purchase of old house and new house, this is a very intricate dance with lots of small pieces, all crucial, requiring coordination.

By the way, seems to me I never showed anyone what the new house looks like. Since I can't really come up with a decent post:


In the meantime, I spend my day chipping away at the to-do list email I sent myself this morning at around 4:00. I am not doing any legal work today. Just moving stuff. Consequently, I have a greater sense of accomplishment today than I have had in some time.

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:05 PM | Comments (14)

June 21, 2005

Something nice

I was due, I figured. Due for something nice to happen to me. It feels like it has been a long, hot and dry spell since the last soothing balm was applied to my sense of self. The drought is over.

Today, to my surprise, I was elected to the Board of an institution with which I have been involved for some years. I have only been active for the last couple of years and didn't imagine this happening for many years to come, if ever. I was shocked. I am being appointed to serve out the term of someone who recently died. I am probably the youngest person on the Board by some 10-15 years. To use an old English expression, I was gobsmacked by the call. The President of the Board assured me that no one on the Board was drinking at the time this decision was made. I asked. He also said my appointment was unanimous. I am to serve out the term of the man I am replacing and then I will be re-nominated to another three year term, or so the normal course goes, assuming I don't screw up too badly. You never know, of course. I am capable of pretty spectacular screw ups.

Still. What a lovely surprise and quite an honor.

Sorry I can't name the institution, but that's what happens when you blog in secret. You have to be a bit coy sometimes.

Posted by Random Penseur at 05:31 PM | Comments (15)

June 20, 2005

He slept

I went back yesterday, on Fathers' Day, to visit my grandfather again at the rehab facility to spend a little time with him on the holiday. See two entries below this one to understand the background.

Unfortunately, he was napping and I did not want to wake him. Instead, I sat with him. I settled into the vinyl (?) covered armchair which squeaked like vinyl does when I sat in it and I watched him sleep for about 20 minutes before I wrote him a note telling him I had been there and then I left.

It was sort of peaceful. He lay there on his back and frightened me a little bit with his breathing, which seemed rapid and shallow, not deep and restful like it ought to be for a nap. He was restless in his sleep, twitching. I wonder if he was in pain. It was a lot like watching a baby sleep. They move a lot and breath in ways that can be scary.

I just sat there and let the sounds of the place wash over me as I contemplated my grandfather's face and his body. He has aged so much, so quickly. He is less. He is not eating and the nurses are concerned. One has told my father that she thinks my grandfather has made a conscious decision to not eat. If true, I don't know what we can do about it. But he has lost weight. He was once very powerful, broad in the shoulders and deep in the chest, like he was when he played fullback on the Harvard Freshman team in 1934. He never had his nose fixed from when it was broken in those days. The thing that intrigued me, as I sat there watching him sleep, was that even though he has shrunk, his hands are still large. The hands don't change and maybe they give you clues about the body they used to be attached to. Parenthetically, hands are very hard for painters to paint correctly. They are complicated little things.

I think that the things you both value and take for granted as you grow older, you lose when you get very old. Privacy is the big one. Not just the privacy you get when you shut the door, but the privacy of silence. It's never quiet at the rehab facility and this is a pretty swank place, too. Still, you hear other televisions, you hear other conversations, you hear other people moaning. You can't lock it out. Noise is a physical assault as it manifests itself in sound waves that crash against your inner ear and cause the ears to vibrate. You don't have the means to protect yourself from that assault. You have no privacy. Unless your hearing is impaired, a mixed blessing under the circumstances.

I left him there, asleep, his hands clasped over his once broad chest. I left him a note telling him that I loved him and wishing him a happy fathers' day.

I spoke to the head nurse about the disassociation of yesterday (again, see two posts below) and she took notes and promised that the doctor would be made aware of it and would evaluate him.

I didn't cry. But it was very close. Close enough, I suppose, that the nurse tried to comfort me.

Underlying all of this, you know, is the thought, the hope, the belief that he's going to snap out of it and get better and be his old self again. That maybe he's just confused because of the painkillers. Any other result I cannot bear to contemplate. And so I don't. I choose not to.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:38 AM | Comments (7)

Some Girl Child Remarks

Two funny exchanges with the Girl Child this weekend:

1. The phone rings but stops ringing by the time I get to it to pick it up. The Girl Child looks at me and the phone and simply utters, grimly: "The buttheads".

Wonder where she picked that phrase up from *looking around innocently*.

2. At dinner last night with my father, the Girl Child runs off to play with her new best friend, another 4 year old girl. After a bit of running around, the Girl Child comes back with a serious expression and asks, "Mamma, what's my cell phone number?"

For the record, she doesn't have one.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:51 AM | Comments (3)

June 19, 2005

Who are you?

How much of your time do you spend trying to answer the question of who you are, how do you know you exist, what defines you? A least some of it, I bet, if you are at all self-reflective. You have also probably spent more time at various points in your life contemplating this question than at other times in your life. But it's always there -- how do you know?

Descartes had a simple answer -- Cogito ergo sum. Je pense donc Je suis. I think therefore I am. Rene wrote it in Latin, first, but I intially heard it in French. He defined his existence by his capacity for thought. Simple, no?

Too simple. I think that you are defined by what others think of you. Do you really exist if no one knows your name or recognizes you? Or are you a ghost, just sort of touching on this plane, temporally. I think you exist because others believe you exist. You are a hero if you are thought of by others as a hero. You are unkind if, etc. See, other people are, among other things, a mirror to reflect your own existence back at you. Without others, you don't exist, except maybe in your own mind and even then, who can really say. Think about it, too much self reflection, too much self contemplation, too much inside your own head and the rest of the world becomes less, or maybe more, but just the same your existence changes. I think.

Moreover, I think that your family is the most important source of you. What do I mean by that? They set the expectations that you try to measure up to, they are the ones from whom you hope to receive praise for your accomplishments, the ones you keep coming back to in order to affirm your growth, physical or other. They are the wellspring, the measuring stick. They confirm your existence and your place in a hiearchy.

What happens if your existence is suddenly called into question by the rest of the world? Or at least by someone very important?

You crumble. At least a little.

That's what happened to me yesterday.

I took the Girl Child to go see my grandfather in his rehabilitation facility where he was recovering from his broken hip.

He didn't know me. He asked me if we were in Texas and I told him no. He asked where we were and I told him -- in the rehab facility in Westchester, NY. He asked me if I was the Secretary of the facility. I told him no and we discussed how long it might take us to get to a mountain in Nevada. He didn't believe me when I told him how long it took.

I felt like crying.

I think that when my grandfather didn't know who I was, my place in the world became less firm. My existence wavered and I realized, if enough important people don't know who I am, I cease to exist.

I am posting this without re-reading. Sorry if it doesn't make any sense, but I wrote this one all for me. I needed to.

Posted by Random Penseur at 04:51 PM | Comments (12)

June 17, 2005

Sometimes, you don't get to finish

Remember my post from two days ago, about how a strong finish can redeem a whole bad day? It's two posts below this one, if you don't recall it. Well, I was wrong, sometimes your bad day/week can overwhelm your ability to finish.

I'm not really sure where this post is going. All I know for sure is that this has been a very difficult week. I have swung between two opposite poles -- one really enjoying what I do and one loathing what I do so much that I almost walked out (no joke).

Enjoying: it is beyond cavil that it is great fun sitting for three hours with a finance professor who is on everyone's short list for the Nobel Prize and parsing a complicated multi-party international economic transaction in order to stress test your assumptions at each step of the transaction in order to conclude that the transaction was a fraud, ab initio. Seriously. I love that. It was a mix of practical mechanics and theoretical finance conducted at a pretty high level. High enough to make my nose bleed. This was a part of my yesterday. The day before was spent in meetings with the possible plaintiff and his lawyer, the guy who referred the case to me. I feel a smidgeon of guilt for taking their money since it was so much fun, I'd have done it for free.

Detesting: there may have been a mistake made by co-counsel in a case I have. I did not catch the mistake and it may result in great unhappiness. Certainly, I feel like shit. I think it is fixable, but still, there will have to be some quick dancing and some interesting decisions. I have no idea how it will come out. I do know that I have not been very happy about it. How unhappy? Verge of quitting unhappy, anxiety attack symptoms unhappy, heart pounding unhappy (not exaggerating at all), bottom dropping out of stomach unhappy. Why? What if it wasn't a mistake on his part, what if we were getting set up to take a particularly nasty fall? And I didn't catch it. I have been running to try to fix it, but still, there are times and this week is one of those times, I really do hate my job.

Quite the dichotomy, no?

Posted by Random Penseur at 04:14 PM | Comments (6)

Yay, Margi!

Margi's two year old grandchild is about to get a new aunt or uncle, sometime in 2006! That ought to make family reunions more interesting. I want to be there the first time the grandchild gets to babysit the new aunt or uncle.

YAY, Margi!

Go over and give them your best wishes, will you, I think Margi would appreciate it.

And Margi's the best. They don't come any finer.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:10 AM | Comments (4)

June 14, 2005

A strong finish

It can not matter how you start your day, how you conducted yourself or your affairs during the course of the day, how overwhelmed you may have felt as the day ran on, if, and this is a big if, if you finish strong. For some, that may mean pushing through the pain at the end of a run. That would not be me, that person.

No, yesterday was a day of quiet. Not solitude, not happy quiet, not peaceful reflection. It was a day of feeling the desperate quiet, the stillness that comes from paralysis, not meditation. The frozen feeling of not wanting to take another step because you don't know what's going to reach out, grab your ankle, and send you sprawling all over the mess you are trying to avoid. One of those days. We all have them. I had it almost all day. I left the office to go home a beaten and downtrodden man. I went to bed a happy and rejuvenated guy. How come? Strong finish.

First, I reconnected with someone on the train ride home who is coming in to my office tonight after work to make a presentation to me and another one or two lawyers about a new case. I love, just flat out love, new cases. They are all shiny and fresh and smell like opportunity. I can't yet see all the hard work involved or if I do, I discount it a little in my excitement. She's decided to come in and talk to us because I am the only lawyer who has understood what she was talking about and she has tried to describe this to six or seven others. She's a lawyer too, for that matter. So, that put a spring in my step on the way home.

Then, home to a quick happy summer dinner. The temperature was in the 90's yesterday (and will be even hotter today). It was a day for a cold dinner. I had made, the day before, a salad of white beans, Italian tuna packed in olive oil, fresh pepper, and chopped roasted red peppers. A very simple thing. And then I applied some wine therapy -- the Vino Verde. Instant mood elevation. Vino Verde is from Portugal. It is a young wine, described as a"crisp fruity white, with lemon and green peach flavors". It is also slightly effervescent. A slight but happy fizz. It is a bit dry but very fruity. Not sweet. It is, at around $6 a bottle, the greatest thing to happen to summer wine since beer was sold at baseball parks. It is that good. It is particularly good with things piscine. Or with nothing at all. It is a young wine and meant to be drunk young. Go buy some. You will come back and thank me for it, I guarantee (channeling a little Justin Wilson there, remember him?).

Then, I tumbled on the floor with my children. The kids were like a litter of puppies. It was of no moment that I took a knee to the chin or my son's thumb somehow ended up in my nose. Didn't hurt a bit. They growled and climbed all over me and it was lovely, sublime even. Then stories were read, cuddles and kisses were given, and they were deposited in their beds a good 40 minutes later than usual.

To cap it off, what do I find on the idiot box? Grosse Pointe Blank. I really like this movie. First, I like John Cusack and like just about every movie of his I've ever seen. Second, it's the 1986 high school reunion! That was my graduation year. Third, the music. Finally, what can I say? I like a nice satire now and again. Besides, it has some other great actors in it. I couldn't stay up to watch the whole thing, but what I saw of it made me happy.

Yes indeed, it isn't where you start, it's where you finish.

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

June 13, 2005


She was terribly piteous in her pain. She moaned and she cried out loud and loudly, without the apparent ability to contain her cries. She was very old as was her husband. She, in a wheel chair, he, mobile and in what looked to be good health. They sat together, bound by what -- duty? love? habit? vows? no other choice? -- and alone, separated by her illness and his health, an unbridgeable vastness. Divided by physical condition. It is an immutable law of nature, I think, that while joy can be shared, pain cannot and it cleaves those formerly joined by love and shared experience. They ate from trays provided by the nursing facility at a round table in a sort of sitting room next to the door to her room. After the meal, he will leave and she will return, alone, to her room. I don't know their names. He called her Bee. He was very patient, almost infinitely patient, caring and tender. He explained to me, helplessly, that it's her back, that she needed an operation but, for some reason he did not explain, the doctors could not perform it. I was there because I had to retrieve the cup my daughter let in my grandfather's room. I was there to help this man, how could I not offer? I gently pulled her back upright in her chair. She had slipped down and he couldn't lift her and I am strong, certainly strong enough to lift a frail old woman and to do so gently so as not to hurt her more than that which I could not avoid. He was grateful and offered to me the back problem as an explanation, as an attempt, I think, to share his burden. Her feet slipped off the leg of the table and he knelt and placed them back on, without complaint, with all the patience in the world. I left them there, eating their dinner, joined by love and divided by pain -- is that melodramatic, that phrase? I hope not. It's how I saw them. Two gray heads together at the table. In truth, while I was saddened terribly, I was humbled by his love for her. I was saddened by the terrible indignity of aging, the thought that the golden years are not golden at all, but. . .

But what, really. I'm not sure. I left them there to go be with my little family. My golden haired smiling children. This reality is not yet mine. I can't share their experience but I could help just a little bit by lending my physical strength and my sympathetic smile to his explanation. Indeed, no one can share their experience. Pain cannot be shared. I watched my children play and thought, I'm glad that's not me in there. Not yet, at least.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:45 AM | Comments (5)

June 10, 2005

Some random thoughts

This barely qualifies as a post, just a collection of random thoughts this morning. Welcome to the pit that is my brain:

*Are thongs over? I have made a careful study of young, attractive, young, fit, and young women in tight summer pants and I am gravely concerned that I see panty lines all over the backside area. Have these women stopped wearing thongs? This is deeply disturbing. Can't somebody do something about this? For the love of God? Please?

*Where does the phrase "so long" come from? So long from what? To what? What's so long? How did this come to mean goodbye.

*Pecans must be the most expensive nut known to packers of mixed nuts. Why else do you only find around six of them in a can of mixed nuts? And why can't you buy them all by themselves, salted? In a way, this concerns me more than the thong question because I like to have mixed nuts in the drawer of my desk and really there isn't that much time during the day that I can devote to looking for thongs. I bet Howard, if he stops by today, will disagree and that's ok. It's a free . . .uh. . . something.

*It's nice to be a regular at your local whatever. It means that you find yourself paying for your breakfast and leaving the tiny joint before the two people in front of you have even been asked for their order yet. Yes, I am the breakfast king this morning. All must bow down before me. Ok, I'm getting a little carried away here, but still, perhaps a small kernel of truth?

*Do you think it's true that it takes at least a year to fully mourn a parent? An editorial I read this morning said that. It said you need a year to go by to fully experience at least one round of holidays without that parent and that each holiday tears it all open anew.

*I attended a reception last night that had, afterwards, a Lilly Pulitzer themed party. I was there at the reception for work, sort of. But the party, let me ask you, would you actually wear a tie that looked like one of these? I declined. It was either that or surrender the last vestige of any self respect I still possess. I had a nice time anyway, catching up with some old acquaintances.

*Picking up the new nanny today at the airport. The current nanny leaves us next Friday. The kids are going to be devastated. Still, they're young, they'll bounce back. But the stress is going to get seriously ratcheted up a notch now. Now, it feels as if the slope is significantly more inclined as we gather speed and move faster and faster towards having to have the house packed for the move. Stress always tastes so good. Well, to be thankful for the little things, at least with this move my wife isn't pregnant. Right, honey? Right?

*I heart the comments most of of you leave. The ones who leave the occasional nasty note, I do not heart. Them I pity. I can't always answer every comment, as much as I would like to, but I read them and I just adore getting them. So, my gracious thanks for the remarks y'all are moved to leave.

*[big sigh] I just figured out that seasons are not capitalized. I have been capitalizing them all along. I wonder where I picked that up from. I don't think French. My wife confirms not in Norwegian either.

*Speaking of summer (note correct capitalization), may I say that I need more fried summer foods. Specifically, fried belly clams. Them's fine eating. Seriously, there are certain things I feel one has to eat in the summer time, when the living is easy, catfish jumping *whap*. Down boy, down. Back to my thought, things one has to eat during the summer include, but are not limited to: fried clams; lobster (I actually like mine broiled over boiled or steamed); steamers; raw clams; watermelon; ripe local tomatoes mixed with raw onion and blue cheese (my four year old loves this, go figure); an ear of corn picked no more than an hour before; berries and cream; grilled burgers (Jim's look good, I'll take two, Jim!); and, surely, a peach so gloriously ripe that the juice runs down your chin and stains your shirt. Leave anything out?

*There. That just about concludes this brain dump instead of a post. Please feel free to either move about the cabin or go back to your regularly scheduled day.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:48 AM | Comments (24)

June 09, 2005

Today, my hands are tied

Today, I would like to write about work, sort of as an outlet for the frustrations creeping up over the edge of desk and jumping into my coffee while I'm not looking.

But I can't.

I cannot write about how annoying it is to have two different sets of lawyers between me and my client, both sets thinking it's ok to modify my firm's retainer agreement. It isn't. Neither of you idiots understand the intricacies of my firm's retainer. You may be good bankruptcy and corporate lawyers, respectively, but you aren't litigators. Your suggestions contravene the rules of ethics, the disciplinary rules, and the Rules of the Appellate Division, First Department, of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. This is a big ass case these idiots are potentially pissing all over. I wish I could write about it.

I cannot write about how much fun it is to be caught, with my cousin, between my father and my uncles and attorneys in two other states as the family attempts to put together a shareholder agreement for a family concern. This is way too annoying. Let me content myself with this, because I actually feel myself physically getting angry, a buy out provision in a shareholder agreement that calls for an accountant to value the interest being bought out at generally accepted accounting principles (mostly meaningless, by the way) but lacks a requirement that the corporation's books and records be kept in accordance with GAAP is downright dangerous. I think that this is going to make people very unhappy.

Getting into a business with your family presents issues that don't exist in most negotiations. There are sensitivities and sometimes grudges that have to be taken into account. The agreement will be less than perfect and all will have to trust to the good faith of everyone else. That shouldn't be a problem, but you never know. Ultimately, as I tell my corporate clients, a corporate agreement or contract is only as good as the people signing it, no matter what any lawyer tells you about how iron clad the protections are.

Trust, my friends. Without that, you're already f*cked even before you sign the contract. With it, you may not be f*cked until later.

Sure is ugly here in my office today. I'm going to throw away the rest of my coffee and see if I can get rid of some of my frustrations with it.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:48 AM | Comments (7)

June 08, 2005

More meme smack

I have been meme smacked again. I am answering both of them below.

Meme I: Five Things I Miss From My Childhood, from Kathy

Thanks, Kathy, for tagging me with this one. I am a bit of a nostalgia hound and this one was fun.

1. I miss being brown. I miss living before people cared about sun screen. I spent every Summer toasted a golden brown. I gleamed with health. I ran everywhere and all of my clothes had holes in them because I was that kind of a kid. We didn't have car seats for kids. I remember being allowed to stick my head out of the window of my parents' huge Oldsmobile and the wind sucking my breath away.

2. I miss sprinting down the street after the Good Humor truck as it spewed forth its horrible jingle. I would clutch, in my grubby little hand, enough money to buy ice cream sandwiches for my sister and me. My feet were always bare and I remember that the pavement on the street was always hot and I would try to run on the front of our neighbors' lawns so not to burn my feet. I was barefoot a lot. I wear socks and shoes now. I miss the hard little leather feet I had.

3. I miss my dad being young. I miss my grandmother, my maternal grandmother. I don't feel like elaborating. Do I need to?

4. I miss my sister being so gullible that she would hold her breath, on my instructions, as we drove past the local cemetery. I told her that if she breathed, the dead souls could come into your body and haunt you and that the only way to get rid of them was to eat liver. My mother would actually slow down and drive past the cemetery as often as possible because she said it was the only time we were quiet in the car.

5. I miss or maybe am just nostalgic for a time when we were allowed to be kids, when we weren't over scheduled with dance class and martial arts and gymnastics. When we could have the luxury of wasting time in play, in digging in the backyard looking for dinosaur bones, in feeling like our lives stretched out in front of us like an endless Summer punctuated by trips to the pool and bike rides to get ice cream at the end of the day. I miss that sense of wonder and of the time given to us to develop our imaginations, to realize and believe that anything was possible because we had the time to dream it. Seems like a paradox, but we as children then were better able to take advantage of our time by wasting it than by squeezing it and manipulating it in order to fit in as many different activities as our parents think the Harvard Admissions Office will look favorably upon. I miss being allowed to be a kid. I miss that on behalf of all the kids I see around me. My kids, I think, are going to have that. I hope. *fingers crossed*

The rules:

Remove the #1 item from the following list, bump everyone up one place and add your blog's name in the #5 spot. You need to link to actually link to each of the blogs for the link-whorage aspect of this fiendish meme to kick in.

Villainous Company
Pirate's Cove
Fistful of Fortnights
Cake Eater Chronicles
Random Pensees

Next, select four unsuspecting victims, list and link to them. Get the plank ready.

Nope. I rarely do that. If you'd like to play, jump on in. This one was a lot of fun.

Meme II: The DVD Collection, from Margi

Margi asked me to do this and I always try to do whatever Margi asks.

1. Total number of films I own on DVD/video:
Like Margi, I'm not sure how many we own. Probably somewhere between 30 and 100. I doubt we own more than that, but I have been surprised in the past by little things like this.

2. The last film I bought:
“Danger UXB”, I think. My wife gave it to me as a present. I heart Danger UXB and I recommend it every chance I get. It is about 14 hours long and it chronicles the adventures of the British Army in defusing UneXploded Bombs (UXB, get it?) which fell in London during the Battle of Britain and were in too senstive a location to be allowed to explode.

3. The last film I watched:

Umm, I'm not really sure. I don't get time to watch a lot of movies. We don't really let the kids watch television too much so it would have to be when they are sleeping. If they are napping, I'm doing errand stuff -- cleaning or cooking or napping myself if I can get away with it. If they are sleeping, I'm usually too tired to focus on a movie. Maybe the last one I watched in full was the Lion King in Norwegian. That was interesting.

4. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

Auntie Mame, with Rosalind Russell

Animal House, which I watched like 30 times in order to prepare for going away to college

Blazing Saddles

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Zero Mostel)

Saving Private Ryan, which I saw in a theater in Oslo and it was only with the greatest self-control that I stopped myself from standing up at the end and shouting at the whole theater -- "Did you see that? Those boys died for your freedom!" I can't tell you how close I came to doing that. And yes, I cried at the end.

5. Tag 5 people and have them put this in their journal/blog:

Nope. I rarely ever do that. If you'd like to play, jump on in and self select.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:28 AM | Comments (6)

Worms, etc.

The practice of law has been light the last few days. So has blogging. The two are related. The server at the office has a backdoor worm. I'm told that the whole server may have to be taken down and "cleaned".

I, techno-god that I am, immediately had a vision of the Worm Squad, intrepid souls in hazmat suits venturing into the server with explosive tipped probes to kill and/or chase the worm out. They would have voices burred from too much bad whiskey and cigarettes. They would have a devil may care and, at the same time, world weary attitude. They would save our infected machine. Some might die, but they would do so bravely and with an excellent last speech.

Now that sounds kind of cool. Probably much cooler than what they will actually have to do to the machine. What that may be, I still have no idea.

I'm going back to the Worm Squad idea. Go get 'em, guys!

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:05 AM | Comments (2)

The Hollywood Cliche

There I was, sweating away on some instrument of torture or other this morning, distracting my mind by looking at the t.v., when some commercial for some silly looking movie came on. As part of the trailer, they showed a rope bridge used to connect two sides of a steep ravine. I'm guessing it was supposed to be in South America but I don't really know. Anyway, it caused me to think of film cliches and here is a partial list:

*Rope bridges between ravines will break when you and only you are at the midpoint.

*Don't be a best friend in a war movie. You will die.

*Never, ever, go into the cellar in a horror movie. Again, death.

*A boy and his dog are soon parted.

*Preachers' kids are wild and dance better than you do.

*Hookers are not crack addicts and have a deep wellspring of sympathy and empathy.

*Many animals can and will talk if you only listen.

*Bad guys often can't shoot straight and if they hit anyone at all, it's the best friend.

*The geeky shy girl? Don't be mean to her. You're going to want to take her to the prom and she's going to be the hottest girl there. And she's going to be smart, too.

This is just a partial list to get people started, if anyone is inclined to play this game with me. Well, are you, punk? (Gratuitous Clint Eastwood reference).

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:51 AM | Comments (14)

June 07, 2005

I'm not quite sure what to say about this

I am in a quandary about this post. I'm not at all sure how to write it, maybe because I'm not quite at all sure what I think about it. Maybe I will write this post as if I were musing aloud to myself. You want to come along on a disorganized musing?

We used to live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a beautiful pre-war cooperative. We loved this apartment and we loved the building and we knew our neighbors and even socialized with them. It was a lovely building in a desirable part of town. Parts of the building were pretty Social, too, with a couple of people in the Social Register and some captains of industry and a federal judge. It was a high powered little place. I have no idea how we passed the co-op board or why, for that matter, I was elected to serve on that board. But that's another story.

We made friends with a very high powered couple in the building who had a child shortly (six months?) after we had our first. The two little girls became very close buddies. They played together probably every day. It was sweet to watch them. Even after we moved, the girls stayed friendly and we continued to see the parents, irregularly, but we did stay in touch. The girls attend each other's birthday parties. That's why I was in my car, stuck in nasty traffic, on Sunday.

It took us 55 minutes to go from 86th and Columbus to 84th and Third. That's just too damn long. Although the Girl Child was the model of good behavior in the back seat and was only slightly concerned that we were going to be missing fun things at the party. She was looking forward to the party. She helped pick out the gift and she even wrote her name on the card all by herself. And she drew a picture for her friend.

So we get to the party, and here, my patient readers, here is where I begin the musing part of the post.

The party was held in a big hall, a sort of multipurpose assembly room, at one of the very fancy UES preschools.

A word about the preschool in Manhattan. Parents sweat blood to get their kids into these schools. They procure letters of recommendation from top CEO's for their 3 year old child. They drag their children from interview to interview. They attend open house tours, they are interviewed themselves, they demonstrate to the school how they could be useful to the school. It is a competitive sport. There are limited spots and the schools are hierarchically grouped according to educational role fulfillment and social status. Some schools are better able to place children at desirable private schools than others are. These schools are highly sought after and the parents are, for the most part, well off and have sharp elbows. I have no doubt that they also want the best for their children, but I question whether they happen to weight equally the prestige of the pre-school in the calculus of dinner conversation with their peers.

My wife and I rejected this dance when we moved to the suburbs. When we got to the suburbs, they way we found our kids’ preschool was by my calling a prep school class mate and saying, “we live here now, where should we send our daughter, we figure you probably have a good handle on it” and that was that. We got a recommendation, made a phone call, wrote a check and that was that. No interviews, no tests, no nothing. Simple as pie and my daughter has loved her little school.

Back to the party.

The kids were all adorable, as healthy little kids are wont to be. They played nicely together, following the soccer coach/party leader and his crew. The Girl Child jumped right in and participated, to my infinite pleasure. Watching her run around and kick at the ball was sublime.

The parents. The parents were more interesting. This was the oddest for me. I guess there were class issues and money issues and geographical issues. I looked around the room at these people who are supposed to be my peers, who I would have been living in tandem with if my daughter had attended this school or any other similar school and I felt out of place.

The women, and they were mostly women there, were mostly non-working women with personal trainer hardened and pilates lengthened bodies. They dressed in the latest of fashions. They wore clothes by, I suspect, people I’ve never heard of. The conversations were vapid. They were, on the whole, waaay better looking than the suburban moms in my daughter’s class. They were fun to look at.

The conversations dealt with preoccupations and money issues I don’t usually hear about in the burbs. How many preschools one should apply to, the houses people were renting that Summer in the Hamptons, the rental of vacation houses in Italy (and bringing nanny’s with you), the stress of managing the nanny staff while being a stay at home mom, etc.

These are issues of class and of money. Class and money are not the same thing. Don’t make that mistake. If we had stayed in the City, this would have been my world. I’m not sure we would have been able to play in this world as comfortably as others at the party suggested they could. One family was met on the way out by a privately chauffeured Escalade. On a Sunday. They had the chauffeur working on a Sunday. That takes a lot of scratch. The Girl Child and I were parked on the street some four blocks away. We had fun walking back to the car and looking in the windows together. We do not have a chauffeur.

So where am I going with all this?

I feel like I dodged a bullet when I got out of Manhattan. It’s a big city, New York, but intensely small in places. These people who we would have been part of. . . Let me say this, I’m glad we moved, I’m glad we chose not to subject our kids to that. We didn’t want our kids to feel like the poorest kids on the block with everyone else jetting down to St. Barts on the private plane. I think that in the suburbs they are going to have a chance at a more normal life. Maybe. Maybe not, of course, but still, that’s the choice we’ve made.

And that choice feels good after that party. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the couple we stayed friends with, they just have made choices we’d never make.

Did this make any sense at all? Or was it just another failed post? Beats me. It was hard enough to struggle through writing it, I am not going to torture myself by re-reading it!

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:14 AM | Comments (16)

June 04, 2005

Seems profound to me

The Girl Child did not nap. Instead, she came downstairs and decided to color. That's fine. I kept her company. In the middle of her coloring, she looked up at me and pronounced:

Pappa, when I walk in my Summer it tastes like pear.

I decided that statement was profound and decided to probe no further into it than that.

I hope my Summer tastes like pear this year. And yours!

Posted by Random Penseur at 03:08 PM | Comments (11)

The Girl Child cannot clarify

Overheard in the house:

Boy Child: Arrh-arrh.

Mamma: Girl Child, what does "arrh-arrh" mean?

Girl Child: I don't know, Mamma. Usually, I understand everything he says, but on this point, I am not clear.

It just seems like way too grownup a sentence structure. She's only 4.5.

And by the way, after that, just to preserve the exchange, we agreed that we were going to go to Costco and she said:

GC: If we're going to Costco, I'm going Commando*!

BC: Mando [nodding his head for emphasis and in approval]

These kids are clearly spending too much time together.

*I have told her that Commando means going out without underwear on. Just in case you were not aware of the expression.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:40 AM | Comments (5)

June 03, 2005

What is friendship, anyway?

I was kicking this question around with my wife last night. The conversation started because she asked me what I get out of this blog, now that I've been doing it for awhile. I told her that, inter alia, I've made some friends and that took us to the question at the heart of this post: can you be friends with someone only through virtual reality? I told her yes but I want to expand upon my thoughts here.

I don't think that you need to be in the same room with someone to be friends with that person. Sure, having a few too many beers with someone, putting 'em in a headlock, giving him a noogie, all while saying "I luuv you, you little fu*ker" is truly a tangible indication of friendship. But is it necessary? No. How many of you have had penpals before? Would you consider them friends? I would.

No, I 've made friends here, even if I can't stay out let and drink/eat/talk too much with them and even if I've only met two of them in person -- Helen and Amanda -- that doesn't mean I don't value them just the same. That said, I sure would like to have drinks with some of you, and I think you know who you are (said in my very best Billy Crystal voice).

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:10 AM | Comments (13)

A milestone

Yesterday, I reached my 30,000th visitor since moving to MuNu, last year. Wow. I'm kind of stunned by that, to tell the truth. I know that some people come because they are looking for answers to particular questions and Google sends them this way. Some of those questions, by the way, are pretty icky. Others come because they have become friends and they want to check in. I have no idea what brings the rest of you! But, that's ok, too.

One thing that makes it particularly interesting for me to continue is the comments y'all leave. That makes it much more of a conversation and less of a monologue. I am very grateful for the comments. They make it all worthwhile.

So, 30,000 visitors later and maybe, just maybe I can start to think of myself as a writer. Maybe. You see, I find it hard to think of myself like that. Writer. It's such a big word, encompassing multitudes (with thanks to Whitman, there). No, I think I may be more comfortable describing myself with a less pretentious word. Scribbler, maybe. I don't know.

I don't know who my 30,000th visitor was, but he or she was searching for a picture of children holding hands. I think that's rather nice that a request such as that is what brought that person here. I hope you found what you were looking for!

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:41 AM | Comments (8)

June 02, 2005

Going to a lecture

New York City is fun. Lots of people come to NY, sometimes for the City itself and sometimes just to pass through on their way to other places. Tonight, I'm going to go see Roger Kimball speak. I don't know which of these two categories he falls into to but I'm just glad he's here. He wrote a great book called "Rape of the Masters". I'm very excited and I'm bringing my copy with me to see if he'll sign it for me.

Kimball was the inspiration for one of my favorite posts: Art. Rape. Politics. Gender. A Reflection, in which I try to do my own modern analysis of a piece of art. It was great fun and I think you might enjoy reading it if you haven't seen it before.

Posted by Random Penseur at 03:20 PM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2005

Street Art?

I think that this picture, captured in the raw with my cell phone camera, is street art. Either way, I like it:


This is a test of the cell phone camera. I want to capture more of the raw, less filtered, street life.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:00 AM | Comments (9)