August 30, 2006

Even drugs have their limits

I have spent the day zonked out on pain killers -- floating in and out of sleep, in and out of pain. When not zonked, I read a Clive Cussler book. I picked it up just before V-Day when I figured I needed something mindless to read whilst recovering. Even the Percoset could not make Mr. Cussler's novel readable. It was a disaster. I implore you never to read anything by him, ever again. The only good thing about the book was the picture on the back cover of his pretty classic cars.

On the other hand, I heartily recommend Mr. Fick's book: One Bullet Away, the story of Mr. Fick's time as a Marine officer serving in the Iraqi and Afganhi campaigns. He signed up after graduation from Dartmouth with a degree in classics and ended up a Captain in Force Recon. Well written and very hard to put down.

I will resume my drug induced haze shortly. Thanks for continuing to stop by, check in, and leave your much appreciated comments.

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August 29, 2006

A short visit to the office

All I'm good for is a quick pop in visit to clear my email and make sure nothing exploded on my desk in the past couple of days. I slept the entire train ride into Grand Central today. Thank you, Codeine! That was the only positive thing I can mention. I am going back to see the doctor again. I am not at all certain that things are progressing as they are supposed to. In fact, as the bruising appears to be getting worse -- darker and more extensive -- I am concerned that I may be bleeding internally still. So, off I go again.

Thanks for all the nice comments y'all have left. Even if I have not replied to them, I have read them all and appreciated each one of them.


The doctor said that I am in the 5-10% of those who experience these kinds of reactions. Not to worry, he claims. It will all clear up in time. Of course, I have to go back next week. In the meantime, the nice doctor has upped the painkillers from codeine to percoset. Boy oh boy, that percoset is much stronger.

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August 27, 2006

I figured it out

It has all become clear to me now. A vasectomy is reliable contraception because you never, ever want to have anyone (not even yourself) touch your genital area ever again. Oh, and the whole area looks so icky that probably no one ever would want to touch it anyway, even presuming you'd be willing to let them, which you would most emphatically would not.

I spoke to the doctor today. He kindly called me back very quickly at 12:30 after I called him at 8:30. I wanted to know if the debilitating pain I felt between the lowest abs and the genitals was normal and why I was getting this huge black and blue mark pretty much all over the place. Turns out it is. Who knew?

I will be amazed if I feel well enough to return to the office tomorrow.

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August 26, 2006

Setting him straight

The kids are at my parents' house for the weekend while I recuperate. My father called me last night to tell me about how the Girl Child set him straight on an issue and I wanted to record it so, here it is.

Grandfather: Boy Child! I need you to sit down right now and finish your dinner.

Girl Child: Grandpa, no, that isn't true. You don't need him to sit down and finish his dinner, you want him to sit down and finish his dinner.

I gather my dad was the tiniest bit flabergasted. As well he should be. I mean, she's only about 5 and a half.

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The day after

Ok, briefly, it hurts. And I've learned that there is no way I am ever going to allow myself to be talked into having someone cut my body open to "fix" something that works exactly as it is supposed to be working ever again. The swelling, the continuing to bleed a little bit from one of the incisions, the pain, and the side effects. What side effects? Well, I'm trying to figure this one out but the Cipro apparently can really upset your stomach while the Tylenol with Codeine claims to give you constipation. The two little pills are fighting it out right now, I gather.

Yup, a whole lot of fun here.

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August 24, 2006

Today, I am a man

This phrase, in the title, is the phrase commonly uttered by American Jewish boys on the occasion of their bar mitzvah. The bar mitzvah is the traditional manhood test in Judaism. You stand in front of your community and you prove to your community that you are literate and that you either have an understanding of the laws of the community or can acquire such an understanding. It is a literacy test that, when passed, confers the status of adult on the test taker. If you can understand and follow the laws, you are no longer a child and you will be held accountable for your conduct. Hence, the statement, "today, I am a man."

This phrase came back to me today as I await tomorrow when I am scheduled to have a vasectomy. I was wondering, as I kicked the thought around, do I say tomorrow that now that I can no longer father children, "today, I am somewhat less of a man"?

I don't know the answer. The reasons for having this procedure, which I am dreading, having never really had any surgical intervention before, are easily set out: my wife really must not fall pregnant again. And as the urologist and I discussed, we need a foolproof method. Actually, we had the following interchange:

Doc: What kind of birth control are you currently using?

Me: Well, I have been trying to convince my wife of the benefits of "oral contraception", if you know what I mean.

Doc: *Loud Snort* Please. You're married. That's never gonna happen.

I don't personally feel his medical judgment is binding or even ought to be considered by my wife, but just the same, there it is.

So, I await the chop tomorrow with great anxiety and no small amount of unhappiness. I've been very happy over the years with the way my plumbing has been configured. I am struggling to accept the need to re-arrange it. One, I am not big on pain. Two, well, do I need a two beyond pain? If there is a two, it might involve strange, sensitive, and not too deeply examined issues of self-image.

This has been the medical attention week. I saw the urologist on Monday, the annual check up on Wednesday, the dentist on Wednesday, and then I will have the big chop on Friday. In anticipation, I also had a haircut. There were thoughts of Samson, in part. Also, I wanted to have short hair if I was not going to be able to wash it for a day or two. The doctor yesterday, by the way, gave me a nice clean bill of health, subject only to the blood test results. In anticipation of that, I carefully broke my fast after that first Wednesday appointment with a 10:00 a.m. big old serving of onion rings covered in chili and melted cheese. Food of the Gods, my friends, and vouchsafed only to those deserving souls who either have low cholesterol already or those who don’t know what their test results are but want to stock up on the yummy fat, salt, and grease in case of a result that would suggest such happy food is contraindicated.

I do hope tomorrow goes ok and that I do not get any of the complications the urologist described in too gruesome a detail.

But before that, I will be dining with wife and friends tonight at a classic old New York steakhouse where I will prepare for the snipping with rare meat and red wine. However, and I am not saying I’m compensating for anything here, and shame on you if you think that, I am going to hit the gym and lift a lot of weight. At least two of the three sets of chest press with the 75 pound dumb bells. Not compensating at all, ok?

Anyway, have a nice weekend, y'all. If you need me, I'll be the guy on the couch with the icepack. I plan on being whiny, a little bit, too. Just because.

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August 18, 2006

What card do you send?

I'm pretty sure that Hallmark doesn't have a card for this situation. Let's say, hypothetically (or not), you have a friend. You've kind of lost touch. You happen to pick up the paper. You see your friend quoted extensively. You read the article and figure out that he's being quoted because his $430 million hedge fund just blew up (that's business speak for went bust). You want to send him a note, something along the lines of it will all be ok in the end but you're not quite sure what to say. Hallmark is not an alternative.

What would you write? I am curious. I did drop him a note telling him that I expect that this will turn out, in the years to come, to have been simply a hiccup in a successful career.

Man, how do you lose $400 plus million.

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August 17, 2006

How not to have a productive afternoon

Suggestion One: Go to a meeting to plan a dinner for 100 people. Taste the menu. Determine which wines work best with which courses. In doing so, try three whites with the appetizer and two reds with the main course. Go back to work.

I am very tired all of a sudden.

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A re-discovery

I like it fast and hard. Not a lot of pauses. I like it when you're going so hard that your glasses fog up, when the sweat is dripping down your face. I like it when you have to stretch yourself into positions you never thought you could contort yourself into under the circumstances as you streeeetch. You have to do it with a partner, of course. That's what makes it fun. The sharing of the time and the striving against each other.

I'm talking about squash of course. I played this morning.

Boy have I missed playing squash. I just didn't realize. I took quite a break for several years as I let my elbow heal up. There's just somethinga about the game that is so seductive. The pace is fast, the angles are acute, the shots have to be just so and controlled, all while running around the court, and the reflexes have to be sharp. Oh, and you have to think and react. Damn, but it is fun.

There is another racquet game I would like to play. Ever hear of Court Tennis? Or Real Tennis? It is the game from which regular tennis evolved. There are not a lot of courts in this country. I can think of one in NYC, one in Philly, one in Rhode Island, and one in Tuxedo Park, off the top of my head.

Competition is good. I have been jazzed all day.

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August 15, 2006

A Guest Writer: The Viking Bride

What follows is an email I received from my wife which I thought was so funny, I had to share it.

Epistles from Bridgeport

Out getting lunch today, I had the following experiences, which, to me, encapsulate Bridgeport fairly well.

*Overheard from late-20’s woman in jeans, t-shirt, and knit vest while she was chatting on her cell phone: “Well, I’m off to parole and then I’m going home.” Perhaps she was talking with her partner in crime?

*As I continued walking down the block, I saw 2 nubile blondes talking to a middle-aged hispanic man. They were asking, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love the Lord?” He was looking confused.

*Farther down the block, a mid-50’s woman in a skirt and cardigan made eye contact with me. Sensing she may have some connection to the nubile blondes, I decided that really, I didn’t feel like engaging in conversation about my love of the Lord. So when she volunteers “My name is Claire”, I respond “How nice for you” as I cross to the other side of the street.

She cracks me up, my wife.

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August 14, 2006

Reflections on the weekend

I think that since we've had a third child, my life has narrowed quite a bit. I am less concerned with the outside world since I am just trying to hold it all together, kind of on the fly, at home and at work. No matter how bad I have it, of course, my wife has it way worse. No question about it, she rocks.

But, back to me. Like I was saying, my focus has narrowed. I have less energy to devote to thinking about world affairs, about politics, about international relations, about international and even domestic economics. So, of course, I write less about it here. Instead, the home front, the kids, my wife, my health, working out, my weekends, all of these things take on much greater significance. I think, perhaps, just maybe, I am beginning to entertain the possibility that I am losing my perspective a bit.

Also, I have to say, that whenever I do focus on the news, I am disappointed. Lamont over Lieberman? Really? The idea that Israel should not have the right even to exist? Really? Can you blame me, at some level, for not pushing too hard to escape this narrowing of focus?

Either way, that's where I seem to be right now.

So, the weekend had a lot of highlights and almost no lowlights.

* Seeing old friends for dinner on Friday night and watching the moon rise, fat and orange, over Long Island as we sat out on a terrace on the water.

* Playing with the kids at the pool.

* Sitting outside on the deck with my family and my parents, drinking a bottle of rose prosecco, as we celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary.

* Taking a solitary dip in the ocean while my daughter waited for me, happily ensconced on a towel in the sand on Sunday.

* Taking my non-napping daughter to see some open houses. She insisted on seeing all the bathrooms and closets, objected to the lack of bookshelves in the library, and was concerned about how to fit a kitchen table and chairs in one house. Interesting to see what $3 million can buy, though. Theoretically, that is, since I don't have and don't expect to have that kind of cash to spend on a house.

* Making the baby laugh.

All of the above are high points. There were certainly more. But with the sleep deprivation comes the loss of memory. So, there.

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A signal

I think that my brain is sending me a signal, a message, a sign. There can be no clearer indication that you want to replace your 1995 Subaru (with 97,000 miles on it) with a new BMW when you find yourself deeply immersed in a dream in which you are, and probably have been for quite some time in the dream, reading the owner's manual on a new BMW 525xi at 4:40 a.m. when your alarm wakes you. And you were jotting down points during your dream so you could follow up on them later.

I'm hoping by noting this here I will purge myself of this. Futile? Perhaps, but one must try.

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August 10, 2006

The concept is icky

Our trial settled today in the middle of the plaintiff's direct case. The settlement got put on the record, the parties were voir-dired, the case was closed, and we all went to lunch.

At Appleby's.

I approached the front door with some trepidation, having never been inside one of these places before. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to food. I like really fine restaurants or real dives or diners. I don't like places that try to re-create some odd fascimile of a dive bar. Either be a dive bar or don't. Also, I am sceptical of chains, of places where the food is created in some corporate development office, test marketed in Toledo (pace, Toledo, nothing meant by it), and then re-assembled in White Plains. Besides, I wonder how these places contribute to the growing obesity / pre-diabetes problem we're having.

Well, now that I've eaten there, I'd say my snobism is confirmed and I think these places contribute a lot to obesity.

One, the snob thing. I ordered for lunch the grilled salmon caesar salad, one of the healthiest choices I could locate. Fine. Overly dressed, but fine. I was not too surprised to learn that extra anchovies would not be made available to me. I was shocked to learn that the restaurant did not have a pepper mill so that a little fresh ground pepper could liven up the salad. So, they ain't really cooking for someone like me. And I could tell, based on the surprised look on our waitress's face, that people don't really ask for fresh pepper very often.

Two, the obesity thing. I drank diet coke with my repast. My companions, the same. As they finished the overly large drinks, the empties were immediately whisked away to be replaced by new overly large drinks. If my companions were drinking real coke or some other full sugar soda, they would have consumed enough empty calories to account for their entire day's quota. They also would have made the sugar companies wicked happy. If this is how middle America is drinking when they eat at this place, the obesity thing is just gonna keep getting worse and worse.

I think I could do without a return trip. And for the record, my soda was the only one at the table not in need of a refill. I could barely manage the giganto cup they served me the first time.

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Blog Meet

I've been in and out of trial all week. The first day, sort of, was Monday. We showed up and the court had us hang out for a really long time before telling us he couldn't take us that day. We arranged to come back the next day and to continue on Thursday if need be. This was good. This left me with an entire afternoon all to myself as I had zero intention of driving back to CT from White Plains to then go into the City by train.

So, I met up with Robbo who was on his way to his secret Llama Vacation Destination ("LVD") at a barge/bar on the Saugatuck River. It was really lovely. The meeting, that is, not the bar, although the bar was just fine. We hung out for around 3 hours, drinking beer, eating fried shrimp and chicken wings, and sharing stories and confirming similar outlooks and viewpoints. I hope that we get a chance to hook up again on his way back from the LVD. It would be fun to get the families together and drink a little tequila. Or a lot. Whatever happens.

It was really grand, our afternoon together.

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It was a really long time ago for me, too

So, we're sitting around the dinner table tonight. The Viking Bride, The Girl Child, the Boy Child, the Nanny and me. The following is a snippet of conversation:

GC: So, do you know. . .

Me: Who knows what evil lurks in men's hearts!?!

Total silence, blank looks from everyone but the Viking Bride

Me: The Shadow knows!

Nanny: Is that from a movie?

Me: No, it was from a radio show a long time ago, many moons ago, before they had television.

GC: [tone: genuine puzzlement] Was that the 1980's?

And just like that, your youth is their history book.

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August 09, 2006

Don't cry for me

I won't let you. I don't deserve it. I played hooky for lunch today and took a taxi down to the Village (Laguardia between Bleeker and West 3rd) where I met an old friend for lunch. We sat outside. We watched the fetching young women in their summer dresses parade back and forth in front of the restaurant. We drank a bottle of Gavi, a happy Italian summer wine. The breezes blew on us gently. The trees shaded our table. The anchovies were strong. The fish was fresh. The espresso was properly bitter. And two hours after arriving, it qualifies as almost the ideal summer hooky day. Tomorrow we are back in trial but today, today I am an escapee.

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August 08, 2006

Off in trial

Silence continues here, more or less unabated. I am in trial in one of the surrounding counties. Off to catch a train in a few moments. Gotta love these intra-family disputes in these close corporations. Vicious.

I'll report back, probably tomorrow. I spent a lovely 2 1/2 hours with Robbo the Llama Butcher yesterday. No full report forthcoming as I fully intend to protect his privacy and secret identity, but perhaps a mini-report.

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August 03, 2006

Are you there, God? Its me, counsel for Margaret

The title illustrates what a lawyer is reduced to when his phone system goes ker-pluff, as mine has. No calls in, no calls out. Kind of peaceful actually and conducive to a rambling post, the likes of which I have not done for a long time. So, if you are interested, here it is, a random walk through my brain:

* The way to beat the heat and humidity is not move too much and drink a lot of gin. I intend to put that into practice at a reception later tonight.

* Last summer the fashion among women was the peasant skirt, which I noted before. This summer, I am happier to report, it appears to be the baby-doll half dress thing. Way more fetching, way more likely to cause a fellow to walk into a lamp post. Not that that happened to me, mind you. I'm just saying it is a possibility. I could see it happening.

* I have hit on a brand new marketing idea for my firm's legal services. I spent the morning writing it up in a memo and have circulated it for comment. Could be a damn fine opportunity.

* Nothing sets a man up for the day more than an early game of squash (RP four games, opponent nil), followed by a breakfast meeting at which a smoked salmon omelet cooked in plenty of butter was consumed, and followed by a lunch meeting during which the main topic of conversation, over lobster bisque, was PG Wodehouse. Yes, indeed. Some days it do pay to arise from the bed.

* The Viking Bride, she of the steely gaze and strong constitution, has returned to the work place after 16 weeks maternity leave. As she told her boss, "I had to come back; I only had $31 left in my checking account". The kinder are taking it well, mostly. They passed a nice Monday together going bowling and then painting pottery before she went back to work on Tuesday. The baby is waking up once a night now, which is still a bit too much for the Viking Bride to fire on all cylinders. Just the same, her firing on 6 is still more than most on 12.

* I have ceased reading all newspapers and watching any news shows at this point. The coverage Israel receives simply depresses me. It is so terribly slanted, so one sided, so grotesque that I am forced to conclude that Israel, with the exception of the United States (the best friend any country can have, in my opinion), for the most part, stands alone. Israel must look to herself for her own defense, for her own protection, for her own success. The international community of nations will not now nor likely ever grant Israel full recognition or treat it fairly. So, if Israel must go it alone (but for the United States), then so it shall. I had a chat with a woman the other day who spent World War II first being hidden and then in a ghetto and then in a camp. She is worried, again. I think she is not wrong to worry. I share her concern even if I lack a similar personal framework of experiences against which I can measure today's events.

* I am seeing an enormous rise in cases involving employee dishonesty. I have two in litigation now and was consulted on two more yesterday. I am wondering if there is a sickness in society that brings these out now. Maybe people see all the fortunes being made so quickly (or they think quickly) and want it for themselves right now. Maybe it is just a translation of immediate gratification through creative embezzlement. Maybe people just suck. Beats me. Or maybe corporate governance has improved and more of these shit is getting flushed out of the system. Either way, I don’t like these people.

* Petunias. Big hanging baskets of pink and purple ones. I have hung them from the pergola over my deck at home and they have made me very happy. I enjoy watering them in the evening, I enjoy gazing at them from the kitchen, I enjoy being out on the deck to look at them as the butterflies buzz all around us. Happiness is a petunia. I will post a picture over the weekend, I think.

* Rosé wines make summer happier, too. This cannot be disputed. I purchased, yesterday, an Italian rosé. It is cooling in my fridge now and awaiting the marinated, boneless leg of lamb I intend to grill for dinner on Friday. I look forward to Friday. I do indeed.

* I reached out today to an old friend, someone I have not spoken to in years. It was gratifying to hear the pleasure in the surprise in his voice. We’re having lunch in about two weeks. I thought about him because I had been looking into a certain signer of the Declaration of Independence and he is a descendant of that signatory. It is cooler that you have to know him for years and years before you learn that fact.

* I have been asked to hold another lawyer’s hand at trial on Monday. I will read the papers and do what I can to be helpful. It is nice to be asked. I hope I can contribute something worthwhile. I do like trials. Trials are fun.

* I leave you with this thought. It is summer. I hope that you follow my lead and eat as many berries or stone fruits as you can. They all taste better with a tiny bit of heavy cream poured over them, by the way. Just saying.

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 01, 2006

Da heat

It is sucking my will to live out through my pores. Totally enervating.

So, in the meantime, I will post an email exchange I had with my cousin's idiot girlfriend in London. It might further raise the temperature. It started with someone sending around pictures of soldiers in mostly Iraq having kind of touching interactions with the local populace. The idiot girlfriend objected.

First, her email:

I think it more honest to show soldiers killing people. That is, after all, what they are trained to do irrespective of country, politics, race, creed or colour. (or predilection to kittens).

Second, my response:

While I have done my best to stay out of this one, the following from Opinion Journal bears quite a lot on your comment below:
A cartoon that has been making the rounds shows the difference between Israel and its enemies. It shows an Israeli soldier and an Arab terrorist pointing rifles at each other. There is a baby stroller behind the Israeli soldier and another in front of the Arab terrorist.

Here's an anecdote from an Associated Press report that illustrates a similar point:

Sgt. Ron Yehushua, 21, of Jerusalem, said there were moments of beauty in war, too.

Despite the brutal carnage he witnessed, he said the image etched most deeply in his mind was that of the Lebanese family he encountered in the midst of battle. He said he shared some of the little food he had with them and handed a young girl a piece of candy.

"That's the bravest thing I did," he said. "I was afraid that in war people lose their humanity, that they become bad. I will carry that memory with me because it reminded me that I am human, and that I am fighting for peace."

Then her reply:

Fighting for peace? people really still say things like that? Well in order to stop the I'm right your wrong thing - I believe it leads to people to kill each other in the end - Here's a thought from John Steinbeck which will I hope stimulate some more thought.

"Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live - for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And this you can know - fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."

Comforting? Impossibly naïve? Think on.

Finally, my response to her reply:

Do people really say things like that? Yes. People who feel threatened, pushed to the wall, confronted by others who wish to push them into the sea. This isn't naïve at all. Instead, it shows, I think, a soldier trying to hang on to his own humanity while protecting those people who he is charged with protecting from showers of rockets. Rockets sent to kill civilians and only civilians. People who are fighting for their very survival do believe they are fighting for peace, fighting for the chance for their grandchildren to take buses free from fear, to play in schoolyards without looking for rockets or men with guns. If you fail to appreciate that, it means simply that you are very fortunate that you live in a place where such fear is not part of your daily existence. To call it naïve is wrong. In fact, I thought it showed a great deal of hope for the future.

Steinback has always been a bit of a hack, in my view.

Where, if anywhere, do you all come out on this?


Here's the cartoon:


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