October 31, 2005

How not to quit a job

Here's a good way not to quit a job. I learned this from our last nanny who, speaking of last, lasted only 4 weeks before cleaning out her room and leaving us a note to inform us that she was quitting. I wouldn't have found the note on Friday (the day she fled) if I had not gone into her room to close the storm windows on her windows. I am sure we were not meant to find the note before Sunday. Unfortunately for her, my concern for her comfort (closing the storms), meant that we found the note with sufficient time to stop payment on her last paycheck (she had a couple of hundred dollars in personal expenses on our American Express card that I was NOT prepared to eat, thank you very much, and I noticed she neglected to leave us a check for that on her way out, a pure oversight, I'm sure).

I am furious. To leave without notice, without warning, without giving us a chance to find someone new, without even saying goodbye to the children, this is so terribly irresponsible.

We interviewed another nanny on Saturday. She would have been a good fit for us. Unfortunately, she "prayed on it" and let's say, merely, that G-d was not with us on this one. She didn't put it like that to me this morning, but that was the upshot.

We would be in a hell of a bind right now if it were not for my in-laws staying with us and pitching in. The in-laws presence makes this a mitigated disaster.

The time for us to find someone new is limited, however, and, while I suspect it will work out just fine in the long run, the stress in the short run is not at all welcome.

Ah, well, off to make some more phone calls.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:10 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 28, 2005

I am King Edward!

Found this one at Even Me:

King Edward I
You scored 61 Wisdom, 77 Tactics, 56 Guts, and 52 Ruthlessness!
Or rather, King Edward the Longshanks if you've seen Braveheart. You, like Edward, are incredibly smart and shrewd, but you win at any costs.... William Wallace died at his hands after a fierce Scottish rebellion against his reign. Despite his reputation though, Longshanks had the best interests of his people at heart. But God help you if you got on his bad side.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 37% on Unorthodox

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You scored higher than 69% on Tactics

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You scored higher than 57% on Guts

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You scored higher than 69% on Ruthlessness
Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test written by dasnyds on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Dilbert Blog

Scott Adams has put up his own blog, talking about, among other things, the creative process of writing Dilbert and what gets rejected and what gets published. Very cool.

Thanks for the tip, Owlish!

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is this just extra paranoid, or what?

Listening to the radio last night on the way home from the train station. I am such a geek these days that mostly I listen to 880 on the a.m. dial. The all news station. Anyway, they warned us not to hold our credit cards out while standing on line in a store. People with cell phones, they cautioned us, could take pictures of our card and use the information they captured to clone our cards and steal our identities.

Seems a little far fetched to me. Anyone agree with them?

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Don't really know what to title this

I had a meeting that kept me in the city last night. As if I wasn't already busy enough, I also chair a committee that handles interview requests for applicants to my undergraduate university. You want an interview to said institution and you live in NYC? You come through my office. We had our annual admissions office meeting last night with the admissions staff member who handles our area.

I found myself, in the twilight (sounds better in Norwegian, by the way: skumring), taking a bus up Madison Avenue to the upper reaches of the 70's. It has indeed been a long time since I have done this. I used to live in the lower 70's over by Second Avenue (by still my beating heart, I know you miss it). That was a less swank part of the Upper East Side ("UES"). The swank bits are really closer to the Park. Anyway, I like bussing up Madison. I much prefer it to the subway. There are windows you can look out, you can watch people, you can look at the everchanging array of shops (they change, mutate, go out of business, reinvent themselves with startling regularity).

I was struck by how interesting the UES felt, now that I no longer live there or go there on a daily basis. There was something about it that was odd. It took me a while to put my finger on it but I think I figured it out. It was money and all that entails. Let me elaborate. There are many, many stores on the gold coast part of the UES. Many restaurants, many service establishments (spas, etc.). They are filled with people who are there to help you, to make you feel better, to fill your requests, to respond to your needs (real or perceived, doesn't matter), to help you figure out what needs you haven't realized are unmet yet, and to just cater to you. That gives off a vibe. It is sort of smothering to pass through it, even if, like me, you don't have the bank account to be part of the target audience for this horde of service people. But still, a vibe. A comforting vibe that suggests that you never have to leave this cocoon of the UES, that all of your desires can be fulfilled with a smile here, that you will be taken care of. Money buys that. Money makes it feel that way. Money drives the UES.

You don't get that feeling in the suburbs where I live now.

I miss living on the UES but I'm kind of happy I don't live among the perpetually catered to, the always self-satisfied anymore.

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October 26, 2005

Thank you for all the nice wishes and congratulations!

I'm very touched by all the nice comments and good wishes you all have sent our way! We're a bit nervous about it all since, without going into detail, the last two pregnancies, while they have produced wonderful and beautiful children, were not very easy on the Viking Bride, not to mention her long suffering mate (that'd be me).

I'm kind of amused by some of the naming suggestions you all have offered. However, I would point out that we ourselves are constrained by the need to have whatever name we choose be easy to pronounce in Norwegian. Recall, if you will, that the Viking Bride speaks only Norwegian to the kids. If we can't pronounce the name in both English and Norwegian, it just ain't gonna fly. That requirement narrows our field of choice considerably.

Also, as some of you have helpfully pointed out, I have a naming problem for the child to be. I have a Girl Child and I have a Boy Child, already. What am I going to call this new child on my blog? Beats me. However, while still in utero, I will be referring to said new child as BNT, for Baby Number Three. Hope that helps. Any suggestions you all care to make to help me solve this problem would be greatly appreciated.

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October 25, 2005

And the answer isn't . . .

Well? Any guesses?



The answer to the unknown question is Jaquavius.

Say it out loud to yourself. Ja--QUAV--ius. Has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? A certain majesty, even. Kind of a Roman Empire vibe, no?

And yet, inexplicably, even capriciously, my wife, she who shall henceforth be called, "The Viking Bride", has, in the grossest and most disturbing unilateral exercise of power, rejected Jaquavius.

I speak the truth. She really has rejected this answer.

It seems that she thinks that would not be an appropriate name for our third child.

Did I mention that she's pregnant? 12 weeks along now.

By the way, whether I happen to agree with her that we will not be naming our new baby Jaquavius is totally besides the point. Of course, with apologies to any Jaquavius's out there, we will not be naming our child that.

But it does have a certain ring to it, no?

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October 22, 2005

Rainy day at work

I'm chained to my desk on this dreary Saturday, waiting for someone to review a five page memo I just wrote to a client who was just, one week before his wedding, blind sided with an outrageous prenuptial agreement that his wife had been working on with her lawyer for over a month. I read it for the first time last night going home on the train and I garnered strange looks as I exclaimed out loud and profanely about the fairness of this document. So, while I wait, I thought maybe I could stretch the fingers and exercise the mind and blog a little.

Thanks again for all of your collective patience during my recent trial and internet outages. No idea about the internet, but the trial closes to the jury on Monday morning and that will be that until post trial motions.

I rode into the city today and was reminded how unpleasant it can be to ride during the non-peak hour trains without an mp3 player. Lots of ambient noise, cell phones, loud chatter, and distractions. Hard to think under those circumstances.

But there was one couple I looked at, for really no more than a moment, a short moment, but it was enough. They were in their early 20's, I'm guessing. She was dark haired and pale skinned. Makeup expertly applied -- not too much and all of it to flatter her features. And she smiled at her boy friend and the smile was so lovely, so graceful, so unhurried in its patience and love. I felt privileged to have seen it. It made me think that she must have a lot of inner serenity and that the old wisdom that youth is in too much of a hurry doesn't really ring true. At least, not there. Her smile suggested that she had all the time in the world for him and all the time needed to appreciate him and the experiences they were having together. No pressure, no rush. His good fortune, which I bet he does not understand, is nothing short of astounding to me. I took all this in very quickly, but the memory stayed with me some several hours later. It really was quite a smile.

My in-laws are in town to stay for the next three weeks. Might as well be three years. Well, that was snide. It might be just fine. I'll try to reserve judgment.

While I was here at the office, I missed a milestone at home: Boy Child pooping on the potty! He called me at work to tell me about it in great excitement. He and the Girl Child left me a long and breathless voicemail while I was otherwise engaged. Do I need to tell you that I have saved that voicemail? Still, I regard this as proof positive that while I am at the office, shit happens.

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

Posted by Random Penseur at 03:42 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

But for how long?

So, internet service has been restored to my office. Still no email, still no fax, still only a couple of phone lines working. But, its a start. The only question I have is, for how long will I still have internet service? When I come back from trial today (been on trial all week), will it still be here? Truthfully, it is awfully convenient to be able to do legal research in the middle of a trial, so I hope it remains when I return later.

Otherwise, I'll catch up to you all later. Thanks to everyone who sent notes wondering if I was still alive. That was very kind.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:29 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 08, 2005

"Harow, Pin-cess!"

We had the best, most magical day today. The whole day was really outstanding, the driving aside.

It was raining buckets and sheets today and the parkway was full of deceptively larged puddles that caused hydroplaning and loss of control in several spots. In fact, it didn't stop raining at any point the whole day. That to one side, pretty much everything else was excellent.

We set off to New York City at around 9, me, wife, two kids and nanny (along as a guest, not as a worker) and arrived at Scandinavian House at around 10:45. We were going to attend a special children's book reading:

Princes Märtha Louise of Norway reads her newly published children's book, Why Kings & Queens Don't Wear Crowns (Hvorfor de kongelige ikke har krone på hodet) (Skandisk, Inc., 2005).

It was supposed to start at 11:30 but we wanted to get there early to make sure we could get tickets. While we were chasing the children around the lobby, a distinguished looking gentleman in a tie and coat approached my wife and inquired, gently, if she and the children were Norwegian. Upon being told they were, he invited us to take part in a private, invitation only reception for the Princess. Coool. We were escorted up in the elevator and hung out until the Princess made her entrance. There weren't more than 15 people at the private reception. The kids were excited to meet her, with the Boy Child practicing saying, "Harow, Pin-cess!", right up until the point she arrived when they got a major case of the shys. I actually had to bribe the Boy Child to say hello. Candy works miracles. This was one of the first outright bribes I ever bothered to resort to.

The Princess was way more attractive than I expected. And very nice, too. No one was really talking to her. I think that there may be an etiquette issue about speaking to royalty. Well, I'm American and I sort of assume that doesn't apply to me. So, we had a short but very pleasant chat about her time in New York. I'm glad I wore a jacket. She seemed pleased that someone spoke to her.

By the time we went down to the auditorium, we were among the last ones there and the place was filled. Except for the two rows up front which all had reserved signs taped to the chairs. We were directed to those seats. Again, cool.

I bought a copy of her book while everyone else sat down. Nice illustrations, by the way.

The Princess really was quite excellent. She told stories about trolls and stories about growing up as a Princess in Norway. The kids got to sit in front of her on the stage. It was, actually, a big media event with tons of photographers. My kids ended up getting filmed for Norwegian television because of how cute they were. Really. The Boy Child insisted on sitting on his sister's lap and she welcomed him and they just looked so darn cute together.

She read from her book and then they brought in a table for her to sit at to sign books. Because of our placement, we were around the first four or five people on line to get the book signed. The line stretched around the auditorium and out the door.

My wife went up with the Girl Child. When they got up there, the Princess looked up with a bright and wide smile. I had to wait until later to hear what happened.

GC and Viking Bride approach Princess and GC says, in Norwegian: Princess, would you like to come have lunch with us afterwards?

Princess: I would have loved to but I am having lunch with someone else today but maybe next time!

GC: Ok!

The Viking Bride wished her a safe trip back and they moved on.

I was, again, quite proud of the Girl Child. So self-possessed! Good for her!

We moved on to lunch at a private club nearby where we raided the coldcuts, made sandwiches and stole chips off each other's plates. I changed the Boy Child in the locker room of the men's fitness center. Thankfully, the only two guys in there were my friends and they didn't seem to mind.

After lunch, we ventured back out into the rain and retrieved the car from the garage to head off to the Norwegian Seaman's Church to stock up on chocolate. Well, chocolate stocks were low, but they did have a fresh cake, fresh waffles, and risgroet! Happiness was shared by all! The coffee was good too. After cake and waffles, one of the very nice ladies set the kids up with papers and magic markers and they happily scribbled away. The Boy Child was scribbling on his face, as well.

One amusing interchange. The Boy Child was scribbling away on another boy's paper and I overheard the following:

Boy to GC about the Boy Child (outraged): Hey! He's coloring on my paper!

GC to Boy (very calm): Its alright. You see, he's just a baby and doesn't understand, so its ok.

Again, quite proud of her. Like I've never said that before.

On the way home from the church, we made a quick stop at my favorite Hungarian butcher shop to pick up some yummy Hungarian salami and some walnut bread.

Then to home. Except that the nanny had to make an emergency pit stop in Norwalk, so we pulled off and all had dinner together.

Off to home, kids in bed by 6:45, and parents quite tired out, too.

All told, just a wonderful day. And pretty magic for a young woman, the nanny, who was making her first trip into NYC. Seriously, does it get any better?

Oh, and I almost forgot, the kids had no naps and behaved like total and complete angels.

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:24 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Up too early?

Do not rely on television during the in-between hours to provide anything approaching diversion. Up at 3:30 and not because you're slipping out of someone's bed who you just met three hours earlier at a party? Don't turn on the television. I feel as if I've taken a bullet for you all here. Sports Center can only be watched for so long. Dating programs, Blind Date and Elimidate, are just, what, disturbing? An outlet for behavior that I otherwise don't get to see a lot? If this kind of behavior passes for normal these days, than I lead a sheltered life. Its hard to look away, like a bad car accident is fascinating.

Actually, I have to say, the advertisements they run during these programs are really interesting. Feminine hygine products. Chat dating. Internet dating. Internet services. Other dating program promos. Fast food. Breath products. Most of them with a sexual theme. You can sort of reason backwards, reverse engineer, if you will, the typical viewer of these programs. I have to conclude that the typical viewer, the target market, may be a lonely woman with bad breath who has bad periods and likes Taco Bell while shopping for a new cell phone plan to use while chatting on singles' lines because her acne is too bad to date in person.

I have to say that I didn't even know programs like these existed before I turned on the television this morning to see how the Yankees did last night. Um, not well, as it turned out. When I want to bed, they were tied. When I woke up, the Angels had clearly turned it on. Still, there is at least one game left to play in New York. Unlike in Boston. Sorry, Mark. Seriously.

Anyway, off for more tea.

By the way, in case you were wondering, my grandfather has responded very well to the antibiotics and appears to be doing much, much better.

Posted by Random Penseur at 05:04 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 07, 2005

It wasn't me, I swear

I know I have some problems with my job, of late, but it wasn't me. I didn't do it. I did not cripple the office. That was Verizon and ConEd. ConEd had a transformer blow up, the old kind with the asbestos, and it took out a Verizon cable. What did that mean for us?

*No Email

*No Internet connection (no legal research, in other words)

*No faxing (fax line gone)

*Only 20% of our phone lines up

Take away our ability to communicate, to research, and to get all our phone calls, and what do you get? Lawyers who have a lot of time to clean their desks up.

We are pretty much totally shut down.

Also, personally, I have some bad news and some neutral news. Neutral first, I am still in the running or at least not been rejected yet for the change of career job.

Bad news: grandfather taken today to the hospital with a very high fever. My mother is beside herself.

I'll try to post a bit over the weekend but tomorrow we are all off to the city to see a princess. A Norwegian one who will read from her children's book. Ought to be fun.

Pax tibi.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

No title today, just some random thoughts

I have vacillated recently between blogging, bursting to write, and all dried up with no inspiration. A feeling like maybe I've said everything I've had to say and maybe I should consider taking a break from the writing. I think that maybe I'm just a teensy bit unhappy at the moment and maybe that means that I don't write when I'm actually unhappy. Really unhappy. That makes some sense, I suppose. When I was a child, and even now, when I was hurt, I tended to withdraw into myself, not wanting to be touched, just wanting to be left alone. The only company I could abide as a child was my dog. He was a 165 pound Great Dane. I used to curl up with him and cry out my sadness, cuddle away my disappointments. I miss him. We don't have a dog anymore. Instead, I have a blog. Less feeding and I don't have to walk it in the middle of the night, but less tactile comfort here too. So, there are tradeoffs.

I am not inclined to complain. Much. Funny aside, by the way. My fingers are not used to typing the word complain. Instead, they want to type the word complaint, which is more normal for these lawyer fingers to type. Aside over. The reason I am not inclined to complain is because of something William Buckley wrote about his mother. I read it last night on the train and it sort of smacked me in the face. His mother had just seen her eldest son buried and was in the midst of what Buckley describes as "convulsive grief". And he writes:

He had been visiting her every day, often taking her to a local restaurant for lunch, and her grief was, by her standards, convulsive; but she did not break her rule -- she never broke it -- which was never ever to complain; because, she explained, she could never repay God the favors He had done her, no matter what tribulations she might be made to suffer.

I was impressed by this because, inter alia, it contained two semi-colons. Also, it made me take stock and count my blessings a bit. Not a bad exercise when things seem a bit bleak. Bleak may be too strong a word. Maybe when you feel a little discouraged by the twists and turns your fortune seems to be following.

The book I took that quote from was "Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography". Good stuff. Some essays better than others but he writes quite beautifully.

Rosh Hashana at my parents' house was not a great success. My grandfather came from the nursing home in his wheel chair. We carried it up the steps to the door and included him in the gathering as best as he would permit. He is so greatly diminished that if I stopped to let myself think about it, it would break my heart. He's always been my role model and seeing him like this is difficult, for him and for me. Today is his birthday. I called to wish him a happy birthday and it was not a good call. He knew who I was but was not well. We did not have a long chat, just exchanged a couple of sentences, some good wishes, some hopes on my side and some admitted unhappiness on his. I had to push a bit to get him to tell me how he was feeling.

Today, I hope to go home to a harmonious house. A place where my children have been well behaved and not given our new nanny a fit. The Girl Child has been exhibiting adjustment issues. The new nanny, a sweet girl, feeling the culture shock ("boy, people out here sure are direct when they talk"), feeling homesick, trying to deal with body image and self confidence problems (none of which she should have; she's lovely), was told by the Girl Child yesterday that the was "fat and ugly". My wife and I were kind of impressed, quietly, that the Girl Child figured out how to put her finger so unerringly on the new nanny's ouchy spoot. The Girl Child also told my wife that she wouldn't listen to her because she was stupid.

None of this did I take well and we had a long discussion, mandatory apologies, and a no-story bed time. The Girl Child, I should note, did not take a nap and that always makes everything waaaay worse. I was really very angry about this and some other transgressions she committed and she knew it.

That said, and I have to say I respect her for it, even in the face of my very real anger, she stood up for herself and her perceived rights. I love her so much for that.

We got upstairs and I told her to get in the bathroom and brush her teeth. She told me that she didn't want to talk to me, that I made her sad, and that I had to say I was sorry first. I told her that if she was sad, it was a sadness of her own making, brought about entirely by her own bad behavior and that, as her father, I was required to correct it when necessary. She clearly disagreed and held me responsible for her sadness. But she shifted to another tack just the same and said that I had to say I was sorry anyway because I didn't say please when I told her to go brush her teeth. I agreed with her, apologized, and sent her off to brush.

I was so proud of her, at 4.75 year old, for standing up to me, for demanding a little respect, and for standing her ground. I have always tried to walk that very fine line between bending my little savage to the civilized comportment needed to live in my house and not breaking her will. Still working on the little savage part but clearly the will is still all there.

I think that may be enough for now. Besides, I have to take a friend to lunch for his birthday.

Pax tibi.

Posted by Random Penseur at 12:22 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 04, 2005

Its quiet for now

The house isn't stirring yet. All I hear is the drip of the coffee maker and the clicks I'm making on the keypad.

Today is the first day of the High Holidays. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. It is customary today to wish people a sweet new year. You eat apples and honey together, among other things, because they are sweet. It is also the beginning of the time of repentance which culminates on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This period is one in which you ask for forgiveness from those around you against whom you've transgressed. On Yom Kippur you ask G-d for forgiveness.

As all New Years go, it is a time for a new start. At least, I hope it is.

I didn't get the job in Chicago. I found out last night. I was "nudged out by someone with a better experience package". It wasn't me, I was told. Not to be too catty, but I am not unhappy about not working for someone who isn't clear on the difference between nudged and edged. Both have dged in them but they do mean different things. Also, truthfully, I'm not at all sure that I want to continue to be a lawyer at all. More on that, perhaps, later.

No word on the change of career job I interviewed for. At least, no definitive word. I gather from the head hunter that I still have some convincing to do, some doubts to resolve about the transferability of my skills. I suggested that if there were any doubts, ask them to meet with me and let me try to convince them why my skills could transfer. I hope they take me up on it. In the end, I would hope that I'd be able to state a good case.

As the Jewish calendar ticks over, I hope that there will be some new start for me. I am looking for a clean slate, a fresh start.

In any event, may I simply wish you all a sweet new year?

My daughter is awake now and I am going to hang out with her. And get some of that coffee.

Posted by Random Penseur at 06:45 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack