January 25, 2006

Putting the Frazz in Frazzled

I have been a denizen of appellate briefing hell over this whole month. But it will soon pass. The brief (50+ pages so it ain't too brief) is due next Wednesday at the Appellate Division. But I have been running and running and running with this and trying to keep up with other responsibilities. So, a very short post as a kind of snapshot.

*A dinner in a wood paneled library. Black tie. Silver candlesticks with huge candles. A long table. A convivial group of some 50 people. It was mighty nice.

*A ton of work on a pre-marriage agreement for a lovely client. By a ton of work, I'm sure I have billed over $30,000 on it. Well, I believe that push has come to shove today and the client and his intended cannot come to an agreement. I am both happy (that he isn't getting stuck with this woman) and sad (that they couldn't make it work). I know it wasn't my fault. But, just the same. . .

*The English really do make beautiful shirts and I may have a problem here. Like, I may need an intervention. Hilditch and Key. At least they're on sale. My wife is gonna, well, not kill me, since she still needs me to do stuff around the house, but, she may be less happy than she has been in the past. Still, a great deal and who is it who does not love a great deal? Not I!

*I think that the combination of too much work stress and not enough sleep makes you feel like a pencil that has been sharpened too many times. Just a pathetic little nub, not good for much of anything.

*The Viking Bride and I are taking a romantic weekend away next week. Hoping to feel rejuvenated. We probably haven't done that since December 2004, I bet. And boy, that is waaaay too long between times away.

*I hope all my buddies are doing fine over on their blogs as I have lacked quality time to visit.

Pax tibi.

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January 20, 2006

An emergency? You decide.

As you may recall, we took the children to the local police and fire stations on the day after New Year’s this year to deliver home made cookies. While visiting the very nice firemen, the kids got a small lecture on the 911 system and what to do in an emergency. With that background out of the way, let me get to the anecdote.

Last night, we went to the dentist. It was the Girl Child’s appointment but we brought the Boy Child, too. His first visit and I wanted him to get accustomed to the place and see that nothing scary was going to happen to his sister. Fine. No problems. He sat up in her lap after her appointment and even let the hygienist count and clean his teeth. They both particularly liked Mr. Thirsty, the thing that sucks all the water out of your mouth. I took a picture of them sitting there together with my camera phone. Not the greatest picture, but still.

After the appointment, while the kids were rooting around in the “Treasure Chest”, picking out toys, I had a nice chat with the dentist who, along with several other people in the office, passed along their condolences about my grandfather. For awhile there, the dentist was actually treating four generations of the same family. I wasn’t watching what the kids picked too closely, but, I gather, the Boy Child wanted exactly what the Girl Child wanted and so they both left clutching a plastic ring and a bracelet. Fair enough. Both happy, both with bright shiny teeth.

This morning, the Boy Child headed downstairs to retrieve, first thing, his ring and bracelet. He stayed, according to my wife, down there for a little while before coming upstairs where, the following took place:

BC: Mamma, mine bracelet is broken. Call 911!

Mamma: Boy Child, we only call 911 if there is a big emergency. We can’t call 911 for this.

BC: [Looks at her for a moment, considers her words and either decides to reject them or decides that this is a big emergency, and picks up the phone] 911!?! Mine bracelet is broken. Mine ring is not broken. Mine bracelet is broken. Come fix it?

Looks like the lecture that the firemen gave him really sunk in. Who says kids today don’t listen?

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It all makes sense now

I am a student of history. An amateur, to be sure, but a committed student with wide ranging tastes and interests. So many interests over so many periods in so many different locations that I would be hard pressed to pick just one to say, yes, that’s my favorite. But, if pressed, I confess to certain themes, certain issues, that I like to read about. Violent or revolutionary change is one theme, across cultures and in different places. Sometimes, when you read or when you observe, you are able to suddenly come up with an insight that escaped the professional historian. Maybe its because you are more widely read and have a less concentrated focus. But, either way, you have suddenly made a connection across cultures or periods and this connection allows you to evaluate or think about something in a new and different way. It is a serendipitous moment when it arrives.

I’ve just had one. For years and years and years, historians and anthropologists and archeologists have wracked their brains, trying to come up with a believable or at least plausible reason why the Mayans simply abandoned their cities in Mexico and Guatemala. Why did they just walk away from these gorgeous places they built over many years?

Well, I think I’ve come to know. Thanks to Connecticut Light and Power, I’ve been granted a stunning insight that has totally escaped the professionals.

Here’s what happened. The Mayans lost power and they moved back home with their parents. While they waited for Quetzal Luz & Electricidad to hook ‘em back up, the pipes in the pyramids burst and, rather than clean it all up, they just stayed at their parents’ house. And thus, the great cities were abandoned. Of course, QL&E still got a huge rate increase but the cities never came back.

Can’t you totally see it?

We actually didn’t have a burst pipe. And we did get our power back last night, thus allowing us to move home to discover that now that we had power, we had to call the oil company because we didn’t have heat. They were very nice and came over within the hour to bring our house back from the high 40's to a happier temperature.

Still, as we pulled away from my parents’ house last night, my daughter called to her grandfather: “Bye, Grandpa! See you at the next storm!”

That’s probably going to be this weekend.

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January 19, 2006

The Boy Child and the potty

The Viking Bride (who, by the way, very much appreciates all of the kind birthday wishes you all left her!) told me about an interaction she had with the Boy Child that, I felt, cried out for memorialization. The BC, you see, has become quite the poopy afficionado. He has come to realize that the act of pooping creates a reward. As he has a sweet tooth the size of the Empire State Building, a piece of candy is a huge motivating force for him. The Girl Child is his biggest cheerleader as she also gets rewarded for his hard work. Can't leave one of them out on the candy distribution. She will usually accompany him, at his request, and she gets down to potty level to peer intently at his tuchus to cheer at the first appearance of the poopy. "Yay, BC!", you will hear ring through out the house.

The BC has the exchange rate down cold. "Me poop on potty, me get marzipan". He regularly checks this fundamental point with us as if to make sure there have been no changes in circumstances, no problems on our end he should be aware of.

But a problem on his end, well, that was the subject of the conversation he had with my wife.

As she reported to me, they were in the potty together, the Boy Child perched on the seat:

BC: Mamma, poopy no come out!

BC: [Leans forward to look between his legs, speaks very angrily and with great command in his tone] Poopy! Me need you come OUT!!

[Waits a beat and yells at his bottom] COME ON, POOPY!!!

I believe that, at the end, the poopy listened and the marzipan was distributed.

* * *

By the way, we are once again without power and once again bunking in with the wife's inlaws. Who knew that Connecticut and Bangladesh had so much in common?

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January 17, 2006

More wisdom from the Girl Child

The Girl Child was with my mother yesterday, thanks to the power outage on Sunday (stay tuned, sportsfans, another storm with high winds headed our way!) And my mother related to me the following conversation:

GC: Nanna, do you still love H (my recently deceased maternal grandfather)?

N: Of course, I do, honey.

GC: Is it ok that I still love H, too?

N: Of course. Why do you ask?

GC: I wasn't sure if it was ok to keep loving people after they died and I knew you were really sad after he died so I wanted to wait to ask you until you were a little less sad.

We all miss him very much still.

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January 16, 2006

Refugees, with cake, from the storm

A huge storm hit our area on Saturday, and no, I’m not talking about my wife’s reaction to my having to stay at work until 9:30 on Friday night and then spend the whole day – through dinner – at the office on Saturday. The storm took down trees and power lines. It took our house off the power grid at 1:00 on Sunday morning. The temperature, in the meantime, plummeted. When we were up on Sunday morning, the day of the Girl Child’s birthday party, it was 55 degrees in the house. In case you were wondering, no power with a forced air heating system means no heat in the house. It was around 25 degrees outside. It did not look good for our heros. Snow, ice everywhere, and a very hopeful Girl Child.

Happily, for her, the party went off without a hitch. Almost all of her guests came and she had a lovely time. We had the party out of the house at a local gymnastics place. The Girl Child was the center of attention, surrounded by her friends, all of whom seemed to like her and were happy to be with her. It was sweet to see. The kids were all run ragged and the real shocker was the Boy Child. My son is without fear and with exceptional coordination. He declined any and all help on the balance beam, walking all by himself from end to end, many times, and then happily threw himself into the pads to dismount. He’d climb on other things as high as he could and throw himself into matts. He bounced, he rolled, he insisted on doing everything the older kids were doing. The staff, unsolicited, volunteered that they had never seen anything like him. I think we’re going to sign him up for gymnastics. I’m not sure we have a choice. The remainder of the Carvel ice cream cake came with us.

After the party, we went back to the house. Temp? 49 and falling. Decision? Evacuation to my parents back in Westchester. Run all the taps in the house, pack the bags, set the alarm (on extensive battery backup) and hope for the best. As evacuations go, it wasn’t horrible. We were taken out for a lovely dinner and the Viking Bride and I slept on the floor of my childhood room while the kids had a sleep over in my sister’s old room. Just the same, we slept terribly and the kids were up hours and hours before they should have been.

Power, according to CT L&P, was not going to be restored until midnight tonight. However, according to my alarm company (I heart these guys), power came back on at around 7:30 this morning. I immediately called the house and was thrilled to hear my wife’s voice on the answering machine, meaning that power really was back.

The kids are spending the rest of the day with my mother and my wife, who headed back up to the house, just called in to report that the power is back, the heat is back, all the water is still running, and, mirabile dictu, none of the Champagne froze and exploded!

Not exactly how my wife had hoped to start her birthday, but, there you go.

Happy birthday, my child bride!

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January 12, 2006

The Girl Child Turns FIVE!!!

Today is the anniversary of the birth of my first child, she who I call on this blog the Girl Child, a most remarkable/astounding creature by any measure. While I was out of the house again this morning, as is my routine, long before sun up, I left her a birthday card on the kitchen table, along with some presents she will open with my wife (who beautifully wrapped them). To say she is excited about her birthday would be a gross understatement. She has been counting down the days for weeks now.

This was most of my entry last year, on the subject:

January 12, 2001, my wife and I were at NY Hospital, 65th and the River, and at precisely 10:00 that morning, my wife gave birth to our first child, the Girl Child. Shortly after giving birth, my wife basically passed out and remained passed out for about an hour and a half. That meant that when they finished weighing the little thing, they brought her to me. Now, she was crying her little heart out, not at all happy to be taken from her mother's womb and pushed out into a cold, January morning. But, happily for the Girl Child, I listened to an old nurse some months back at the hospital who counseled us to speak to the baby while in the womb. She said it would be helpful at the time of delivery. So, every night, I used to read to my wife's belly and otherwise just chat to it for awhile. The result was that when the nurse handed me my little wrapped up bundle of shrieking baby, and I cuddled her to my neck and spoke soothingly to her, she stopped crying, let out a little sigh, and snuggled into my neck, totally at peace. It was altogether magical and I sat there with her, talking quietly to her, until the nurses made me give her back to be taken to the nursery.

That was five years ago, today.

Happy birthday, my daughter, and many, many more!

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January 11, 2006


I gather that here on MuNu, it is de-lurking week. This means that if you come by and visit but don't generally leave comments, this is the week to leave a comment, to step out of the shadows, to just say hello or to slag me off because you think the site is shite. Seriously, if only to satisfy my own curiousity, should you choose to de-lurk, would you mind telling me how you came to this blog? Thanks!

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January 10, 2006

The Boy Child asserts some authority

He's feeling his oats, got a bit of a swagger to his step, is taking charge and is not afraid to let you know it. He's also about 6 weeks away from being three years old.

This weekend, he says to his mother:

"Mamma, go sit couch. You in time out. You trouble!"

Last night, getting ready for bed, it was my turn:

BC: Pappa, you no drink my milk. You drink my milk, police come, take you away put you in jail.

Me: Why would they put me in jail?

BC: You drink me milk, you get sick. [Looks defiantly at me and says with emphasis] That is mine reason.

Me: Got it. Don't drink your milk. Check.

Also, two nights ago, we had the following exchange:

Me: Boy Child, do not push your sister off that stool! You could hurt her!

BC: [Outrage written all over his face; shaking his finger at me for emphasis] NO. SAY. THAT. WORD. ME!!!!

Me: What word, honey? What word are you objecting to?

BC: [Intense concentration, pause] Me no know what word. Me no ha'member.

Me: Well, if you can't tell me the word, how can I not say it?

BC: [sighs dejectedly] Me know.

I think its gonna be a long ride. Fun, but long.

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January 09, 2006

Potty training issues?

Phin has a thought. Seems to be useful, I think, for all ages.

A caution, swallow your coffee before clicking on the link.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Brief shower of existential angst, followed by doubt

In helping to clean out my grandfather’s things, I took for myself a large number of old photographs, many of them of me when I was a child.

I gaze upon this child, with his hazel eyes holding an intense gaze and his skin kissed gold by the sun, and I don’t recognize him at all. I feel no kinship, no sense of immediacy, no relationship at all. It is as if I have never met the boy. I recognize the bookcase he is posed in front of, remember the color it was painted, even some of the books. I actually recall the t-shirt, it was a favorite. But of the boy, of the person, nothing. It is as if I have no connection to the past. When did that happen, I wonder?

I know I was not created fully formed, as if sprung up from the earth, a man with hair going gray at the temples and wearing a suit and a tie, a man with a mortgage and responsibilities, with children and a job. I’m not sure what happened to the child, the boy. My memories of him are evanescent.

Alienated from the past, is it any wonder that sometimes one feels adrift in the present? And thus, unsure, uncertain, unable to visualize the future?

Or is it all just a crock of shit?

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January 08, 2006

Amy's back!

Amy is back on the web! YAY!

Links joyfully updated! All systems go!

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Observe the forms

There are certain forms, certain of what used to be commonly accepted ways to initiate interaction and social discourse. These are, probably, thought of as old fashioned by some and as taboos to be transgressed by iconoclasts and other self-consciously hip trend setters, both young (who ought to be rebelling against something) and old (who really ought to know better, but so be it). But they are neither. These forms, this kind of politeness, is neither old fashioned nor unnecessary. They include words like: please; thank you; excuse me; pardon me; may I trouble you; or, do you mind. These words provide a sort of social lubrication so that the parts in the great social machine (meaning, you and me) do not rub up against each other and snag or create friction which leads to heat. They allow our wheels to move more smoothly when we have to mesh together, even if only for a brief moment. I insist on them, both for myself and my children. My wife and I, if you can believe it, actually say please and thank you to each other, both as a matter of habit and course and because our kids might as well see manners in action -- do as I say and as I do.

So, background over.

This morning, as I awaited the 7:34 train to come and whisk me away to the bib bad city and to my desk where multiple tasks were provided by my kind and munificent employers to both delight and entertain me, I gazed out over the quiet, and mostly empty, parking lot. It was peaceful and I was sort of pleasantly lost in thought as my mind kind of drifted this way and that, sort of just bobbing along with the flow of my relaxed little stream of consciousness. The snow was falling, rapidly but not heavily, kind of drifting down etherally and lightly but quickly. It was kind of nice.

Then, an interruption.

"Do you know when the train comes", I was asked.

No, excuse me or pardon me or sorry for interrupting but . . . I dislike that quite a bit, as if you didn't know by now. If it were me asking, I would make some sort of prefatory apology first because I certainly don't think that just because you are standing there, just because you exist, you owe me any information or indeed any form of social discourse at all beyond the social implied contract that you will leave me alone and not trouble me and, hopefully, not impinge on the quiet exercise of my own liberties. That's certainly what you can expect, I believe. So, I acknowledge that and then ask for assistance or information or whatever.

Now, having examined what was missing from her question, let's look at what was there and reflect, if you are still reading, on why it was a bad question on at least a couple of levels.

First, I could have simply answered it, yes. Yes, I know when the next train is coming. Although, actually, even though the question is structured to permit such an answer, I would have to have a claim to some kind of omniscience that I do not really possess to know when the train is coming. So, I suppose I could have simply answered it, no, I do not know when the train is coming.

How could I know when the train is coming? I cannot see it, I have no GPS relationship with it. No, the most I could know is when the train is supposed to arrive at my station, when it is scheduled to arrive. That I could know and that I could tell her.

But you see, all she asked is whether I knew, not for the information I actually had to convey, although I believe she really meant to know the information and was not really inquiring whether I was generally informed and possessed of the information. Although, I suppose she could have been. Maybe she was seized of a compulsion to generally inquire of her fellow citizens to gauge their level of information concerning train arrivals and departures. Perhaps an over or under medication issue and not simply the evidence of a sloppy thinking process.

All that said, I doubt she walked away from our encounter thinking much more of me than I of her. I answered her thusly:

"Do I know when the train is coming? No. However, it is scheduled to arrive here at 7:34."

She walked away, her braided pig tails, so incongruous in a woman over ten, bobbing in her wake, seemingly so content with the information I provided that she, in the bliss of her contentment, neglected to thank me.

And so the wheels of social interaction grind together and stop. A little lubrication probably would have helped. I think you know what I mean. And since you do, let me not neglect to thank you for actually reading to the end of this rant.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:19 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

The best remark to a protester

This award goes to Kathy's husband who caused one elderly barking moonbat to flap her protest sign at him in great agitation as he challanged her world view. She also might have not approved of his cigar, but that's just me.

Kathy's observations on the pacifists who dine and dash at the table of life are worth a peek, too.

I'm gonna use this one as soon as I next get the chance.

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January 04, 2006

The Four Things Meme

Michele posted this one and, as I have a dearth of inspiration, I snagged it:

The Meme of Four

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Assistant Tennis Pro; Slide Projectionist for Art History 101; Bartender; and, oh yeah, Lawyer (current)

Four movies you could watch over and over: They may not really be movies, all of these, but: Danger UXB; The Jeeves/Wooster Series; Auntie Mame; Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House.

Four places you’ve lived: New York City; New Orleans; Paris; London.

Four TV shows you love to watch: I watch TV very rarely and while there isn’t anything that I loooove to watch, I do regularly watch Antiques Roadshow; Monday Night Football (camera work is excellent); All Yankees Games; What Not to Wear (the Viking Bride loves it and so I watch with her).

Four websites you visit daily: Bloglines (to catch up on all of my friends); Little Green Footballs; Gmail; Westlaw.

Four of your favorite foods: Chili; Black Beans (love them mashed up with more chili peppers than a human can usually stand); Burmese food; and, Lobster Bisque (current craze, will order if see on menu without fail).

Four places you’d rather be: Home with my kids; BEEEAAACH; Antigua Guatelama with the Viking Bride; the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Four albums you can’t live without: Ok, there isn’t any such thing. It changes all the time. That’s just the way it is. That said, at the moment: Noce de Figaro (Mozart); Zydeco; Jimmy Buffet (or as the Boy Child says, Johnny Buffin!); the Talking Heads, the early stuff.

I'm going to add the following category since I'm such a heavy drinker:
Four of your favorite drinks: This was Michele’s and she was all about the tea. Not me, even if I’m going to leave this up: Espresso; White Burgundies (tastes like liquid sunshine); diet grape soda from Polar Bear (so, sue me).

If you're reading this you may consider yourself tagged (if you like).

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January 03, 2006

Too wholesome

Suppress your usual cynicism if you will and venture back with me to a more innocent time, to yesterday, actually. Yesterday was kind of a throw back to a more innocent time.

We awoke early, the children and I. After a quick breakfast, and under the gimlet eye of the Viking Bride, baker par excellence, the Girl Child and I prepared a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. We carefully measured, mixed, smelled, and placed spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets. We baked them and wrapped the results in tin foil clad paper plates – two of them – and placed bows on the packages.

Then we got dressed up and went off, the whole family, to deliver the cookies – one package to the local fire house and one to the local police station. Both to wish our public servants a happy new year and to thank them for protecting us and keeping us safe. The Girl Child presented both packages. It was a great success.

The firemen were quite happy to see us and the cookies and the Girl Child presented the package with her thanks and best wishes. The Boy Child immediately began agitating for the Fire Chief to open the package, to the Chief’s delight. The fireman then gave us all a 45 minute tour of the firehouse. The kids got to sit in the driver’s seats of all the trucks, got to ring bells, and mess up the computers in the trucks. They showed us the equipment they keep on the rescue trucks and talked generally about some of the rescues they had been at. The kids got plastic fire hats they had to wear in the garage and on the trucks. It was just lovely.

Then, off we went to the police station. The Boy Child has kind of a thing about policemen. He sort of fears them. They have been involved in nightmares in the past (“Policeman come up in my bed and bite meg (pronounced my and means me in Norwegian)”). So, knowing this, the Girl Child issued the appropriate caution as we drove up: “Ok, Boy Child, when we get to the police station, you are not allowed to say, “Policeman dumb dumb”. The Boy Child promised. The police station was a bit more buttoned down than the fire station, more security, etc. But they still let us in and seemed really pleased to get the cookies. They asked for our name and address so, I hope, to send the kids a thank you note. The kids got badge stickers and life savers and we all got to see the communications room and say hi to the other policemen.

I think the kids really enjoyed everything. They had fun meeting people and learned, I hope, that saying thank you can be rewarding in and of itself.

Then we went off to the Gap. The kids got gift cards from the parents of our first nanny. The Girl Child referred to it as her credit card. We told them that the money was theirs and they could pick out whatever they wanted to buy with it. As you may imagine, the excitement level was high. The Girl Child chose a pick fluffy bathrobe (“Now we’re twins, Pappa!” (although I note that my bathrobe is blue)) and the Boy Child picked out some pj’s with cars on them. Both were very pleased with their choices. Very.

Then we took them off to lunch at a mediocre barbeque joint. The Girl Child and I colored on the paper tablecloth together.

Then, home for naps (mine and theirs!). Post nap, a clean up of the play room and incorporation of the new toys into the existing toys and dinner.

All in all, a genuinely lovely day, even if it was so wholesome as to make you gag!

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January 01, 2006

Breaking in the new year right

The new year began with snow for us here in coastal Connecticut. Lots of thick, wet snow everywhere.

So, our new year officially began with snow suits for the children and a shovel for me. They tried out their new sleds (Hanukkah gift from my parents) with great shrieks, dastardly spills, and dizzy revolutions. I would pause in my occupations of shoveling driveway and sidewalk to watch and listen to the shouts of laughter. Indeed, watching the 22 week pregnant Viking Bride slide down the slope was excellent, too.

After an hour spent in the snow, we rang in the new year properly. The kids had oatmeal with dried fruits and I. . . I had some hard earned contentment. I sat at the kitchen table amid the happy bustle of my family with the NY Times spread before me and a large mug of fresh brewed coffee into which I liberally added milk and Cognac. A cafe corretto, in Italian, or a kaffe avec, in Norwegian. Still, whatever you call it, it is a lovely reward for an hour of hard work on a cold morning.

Nothing to make a habit of, but it gives a nice glow to the new year, to a new beginning.

Not a bad thing at all, really. I wish you all a happy new year, filled with shrieks of fun and a little bit of Cognac for when it gets cold.

I have written and deleted a sentence about three or four times now, however, concerning a matter of grave concern to me. I am trying not to rush to judgment about something until I have all the facts, but just the same, I feel a great sense of unease. An uncle may have committed a breach of trust in our family concern, a concern of which I am a board member. I wish I did not have to start the new year wondering if my uncle is a goniff. And trying to figure out what to do about it. Either way, even if it is totally innocent, and the amount of money involved makes it hard to think that way, any faith or trust I may have in his judgment is impaired. So, in truth, it is a rather mixed way to start the new year and not, I hope, a harbinger of things to come.

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