Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Random Acts of Office Kindness

This exchange, over the course of ten minutes, deteriorated badly.

My correspondent is one of the real good guys and helps the rest of us stay sane:

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 9:57 AM
Subject: December ads for XXX

There is enough space in the December issue of XXX to give each of you full-page ad space for your usual promotions. I am going to re-use your most recent ad UNLESS you notify me and xxx that you have changes.

Please let me know if the latest ad is OK to use; any changes or a "No, thank you" are asked to be given today.



From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:01 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

Dear D:

Please use the most recent iteration of our ad. I've attached a copy.



From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:02 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX



From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:03 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for xxx


From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:03 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX



From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:03 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

pretty please with jimmies on top?

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

what color jimmies


From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

rainbow or chocolate, i'm not picky

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

ok, chocolate. done


From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

You're a prince, thanks

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:06 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

you are a gentleman and a scholar.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Funny Turkey Pictures

Thanksgiving's coming soon. So how far behind can a post entitled "Funny Turkey Pictures" be?

Especially since I learned that more than half of my most recent visitors were looking for Funny Pumpkin Pictures.

And if that last one made you laugh, you definitely need to try out this funny turkey game. [You may have to scroll down after you click on the page to get to the game.]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jeannemarie Devolites Davis Is Horrible

O.K., there's dirty politics, and then there's hitting a new low in dirty politics and then having the audacity to obliviously claim you can't understand what the fuss is about.

Ms. Davis, in a close race for a Virginia State Senate seat, published her opponent's home address, phone number, and MINOR CHILDREN'S NAMES, in a mailed advertisement, and then, when called on it, claimed it was inadvertent and said

He sent out a piece with his children's pictures and their names. Give me a break.

Sure Jeannemarie, no difference there.

Her opponent, J. Chapman "Chap" Peterson called a press conference and had this to say:

Words can't describe the anger I feel. My family does not live in a gated community. We live on a public street in a subdivision which is easily accessible to strangers. In fact, we are two blocks from the county jail.

According to today's Washington Post, where I got all this and a link to which I'll put at the end of this article:

"One effect of the mail piece is that the Virginia Coalition of Police and Deputy Sheriffs is thinking about withdrawing its endorsement of Davis."

Said Marshall Thielen, a member of that organization:

They're both good candidates for law enforcement. But what she's done here is just horrible.

The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office must agree. Again, according to WaPo: "Sheriff's deputies have patrolled [Peterson's] neighborhood since Wednesday, [although Peterson] said he did not request increased protection."

I think the whole thing is un-effing-believable, outrageous and a dramatic new low.

Read about the whole sordid mess here.

You Guys are Pretty Freakin' Wonderful

I started to type thanks in the comments section of the last post, but it got long so I'm making a new post.

THANK YOU. (Also to my friend who sends e-mail rather than comment here.)

Interestingly, my own feelings, a few weeks out, mirror your comments, in nearly the same ratio: 7/8 "something better will come along/it wasn't meant to be" to 1/8 evil-e.

Also, I keep remembering when I was hired by the Teamsters. I'd just completed two years at home with Monkeyboy for his first two years of life and RFB and I agreed it was time for me to start earning money again because Monkeyboy was old enough, and could benefit from, a quality day care facility we'd scouted (at the IRS, of all places)

My pal who was in the Teamsters Communications Office knew I could write a decent English sentence and was looking for work. He arranged an interview for me with his boss, who was hiring.

I was offered the job, but lost it because I couldn't start soon enough. (They needed me in two weeks and I felt we needed a month to get Monkeyboy comfortably transitioned into day care.)

They hired Mr. Congeniality, who turned out to be anything but. He alienated everyone in the office in record time. By the time they fired his ass, I was now available on shorter notice.

Voila, the most silliest resume progression in human history: Stay-at-home dad to Teamster staff.

Again, thank you everybody, your good wishes really warm the cockles of my heart.

(Does anyone know exactly what those are? I don't. But whatever they are, they're definitely warmed.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Miss Congeniality

Do they still give out that award in the Miss America contest? I remember watching it as a kid and thinking it seemed like a pretty hollow substitute for winning the whole thing.

It sure feels that way when you come in second place for a job you really want.

Four interviews in the course of two days, several weeks apart. Walked out both times thinking I'd really put my best foot forward.

A couple of weeks waiting, with hope slowly diminishing.

One very awkward conversation with an old acquaintance who had to call me to give me the bad news. It had the tenor of one of those sucky "it's not you, it's me" conversations at the end of a relationship. (I think I, playing the role of Avis, was stronger in connections with the D.C. poverty law community, but Mr. Hertz was clearly a better fit in the corporate environment of the prospective employer.)

A few more weeks before I could blog about it without feeling rotten.

It's really O.K. now, but I was very bummed.

Yesterday, one of my A-number-one friends in the community of bloggers asked me what ever happened to the potential new job I'd interviewed for.

Then last night a friend from the synagogue asked the same question.

When I realized it didn't ache to answer them, I realized it was time to post about it.

My apologies to anyone whose fingers were still crossed. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Awesome Time-Waster

Many thanks to e.clec.tic spaghetti, for introducing me to this hilarious Halloween version of that old favorite, Hangman.

I think.

I got 230 points on my first try.

I'm pretty sure it won't be my last.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"It's Destruction for the Public Good"

From today's WaPo:

Hire of the Week
Julie A. Rochman is moving from blowing up legislation to blowing up buildings.

Rochman, 45, is a senior vice president with Glover Park Group, an all-Democratic lobbying and public relations firm. Before that she worked for the American Insurance Association, one of Washington's most potent lobbies.

She was recently named chief executive of the Institute for Business & Home Safety, the insurance-backed organization that tests structures under extreme conditions to see how well they hold up. It pelts houses with hail and re-creates other types of disasters for the purpose of reducing structural risk.

"We will test full-scale houses and commercial structures; we'll blow them up," she said with a smile.

The group's mission is not unlike that of another group Rochman once worked for. From November 1996 until late 2000, she was vice president of communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is best known for crashing cars -- as a way to make them safer, of course. "I loved crashing cars, I'm going to love crashing buildings," she said. "It's destruction for the public good."

At the Institute for Business & Home Safety, which is located in Tampa, Rochman will succeed Harvey G. Rylan, who is retiring.

A lifetime ago (actually September and October of 1979), Julie and I were high school seniors, spending two months in Israel studying at the American High School in Israel with fifty other 16 to 18 year old kids.

I love it when old acquaintances turn up in the news doing cool things.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Nearly Your Size

Many thanks to insidious truth, for putting me onto the hunt for the origin of this quote:

"When I was young, I said to G-d, G-d, tell me the mystery of the universe. But G-d answered, that knowledge is for me alone. So I said, G-d, tell me the mystery of the peanut. Then G-d said, well, George, that's more nearly your size." George Washington Carver.

Carver went on to revolutionize and enrich the lives of poor, southern, black sharecroppers with his bulletin How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, first published in 1916.

And with similar bulletins about the cultivation and uses of sweet potatoes, alfalfa, wild plum, tomato, ornamental plants, corn, poultry, dairying, hogs, and the preservation of meats in hot weather.

Check out Wikipedia's wonderful article about Carver and his life's work here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Funny Pumpkin Pictures

Moonbeam just sent me a bunch of funny pumpkin pictures. It's really hard to choose, but I think these are the best:

I Heart Halloween.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hello Dalai

Yesterday's WaPo had a fascinating article about the Dalai Lama's representative in Washington. He is himself a revered Lama, but turned in his saffron robes for a lobbyist's wingtips and briefcase nearly two decades ago. Check it out.

And just so no one else has to do it, here's a link to the famous Llama song.

Finally, what did the Dalai Lama say to the New York City hot dog vendor?

(As is my custom, the answer to this joke will appear as the first comment. So don't click through to comments until you give up.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Candidate Shopping

Minnesota Public Radio has developed an incredibly useful tool for clarifying your own views on the important national issues of the day and offering you a list of how the 18 (yes, 18) current presidential candidates match up with your views and the intensity with which you hold them.

It takes but a few minutes, and it doesn't prescribe a particular candidate. It just gives you a list of the candidates who, in aggregate, most (and least) match up with you. I was skeptical, but the list it generated matched my own personal ranking of the candidates, in the correct order for me, almost EXACTLY.

It's pretty amazing. Check it out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This One's for the City Editor

RFB got it from our mutual friend Sara.

You know you're from Rochester when
1. "Waking up with the Wease" doesn't mean that you have a respiratory infection.
2. The thought of eating a "garbage plate" makes your mouth water.
3. The only thing at the annual May Lilac Festival is snow.
4. The worst four-letter word you could say is "Fuji".
5. You can't swim at the beach.
6. You thought that you had figured out that alternate-parking thing, but wind up with a ticket anyway.
7. Toronto is about 70 miles away, but it takes four hours to get there.
8. The name "Greater Rochester International Airport" is bigger than the airport itself.
9. There's an 800 number to report a pothole in the road.
10. You know that a "Can of Worms" is not something that you take fishing.
11. Your baby's first word is "Wegmans".
12. You ask lifetime residents where the George Eastman House is, but they don't know either.
13. In a city where it snows at least 90 inches a year, they build a new sports stadium with no roof on it.
14. It can be 70 degrees one day, below freezing the next, and you think nothing of it.
15. Your mother is buying outfits to wear to Wegmans.
16. Your low-fat diet is never low enough to exclude an Abbott's custard.
17. You order a white hot and a pop, and the counterman knows what you're talking about.
18. You can travel from Egypt to Greece in about a half-hour by car.
19. D&C is a newspaper, not a medical procedure.
20. You know who Vinnie and Angelo are.
21. You can go to any mall on a Saturday and see at least 5 people you either work with, went to school with or dated.
22. Your year has two seasons: Winter and Construction.
23. You awaken from a deep sleep, look at the clock and see that it's 6:00, but you have no idea whether it's AM or PM.
24. When 12+ inches of snow falls overnight, but you never thought of NOT going to work.
25. You are perplexed when friends from other cities come to visit and want to "see the sights".
26. A flagpole strung with white lights seems like an acceptable alternative to a municipal Christmas tree.
27. In winter if the temperature hits 45 degrees and the sun comes out, people walk around downtown wearing shades and no jackets.
28. There are places at the poles that seem to get more sunlight during the winter months than we do.
29. Wegmans is somewhere to go on a Friday night, for entertainment.
30. Half the change in your pocket is Canadian, eh.
31. You define summer as three months of bad sledding.
32. You think that people from Pennsylvania have an accent.
33. Halloween is snowed out with great regularity.
34. You have experienced frostbite and sunburn in the same week.
35. Your idea of a seven-course meal is a six pack of Genny and a bucket of Buffalo wings.
36. You believe that "down south" means Maryland.
37. You can compare Nick Tahoe's garbage plate to at least 3 other knock-offs in competing restaurants.
38. You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Rochester, NY.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Playtah's Brick (and RFB's Too)

This one has a back story. Please read this post, and its comments.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

O.K., on with the tale.

Later on, they wrote a second note home, saying they'd come up a little short, and asking that families that could, dig a little deeper and buy another $35.00 brick.

We did. For the second brick we used one of Playtah's suggestions. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I think Playtah is one of the funniest mammals in the blogosphere.

And now, without further ado, here are the pics. Here's Playtah's:

Here's RFB's:

And here's the whole marquee and Monkeyboy next to it, just because:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is This Land Made for You and Me?

Tara, of e.clec.tic spaghetti fame, notes in response to this post that she loves the song "This Land is Your Land".

I do too, and usually preface it with the comment that "I think it ought to be the National Anthem, but then again I've always been pretty pink."

I say that because Woody Guthrie originally wrote the song as a refutation of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". Wikipedia does a good job of recapitulating the history here.

Because I'm singing on a children's stage, and because I don't need to get overly political, I always sing what has become the most recognizable version of the song, stopping after the first two, most recognized and most sing-alongable verses.

But it's probably worth your time to read the full song, written by an angry Woody Guthrie, in Late Depression-era America. For nearly everyone reading this, the last three verses will be new to you.

CHORUS: This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond desert
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
and the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

As I went walking, I saw a sign there;
And on the sign there, it said, 'No Trespassing.'
But on the other side; it didn't say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tell Me About Law School

A blogger friend asked me the question above.

I kinda like the response I crafted. So I'm repurposing it as a post, with redactions to protect identities and to delete one blatant fabrication I included in my original answer for comic effect:

Dear [Redacted]:

It very much depends on the law school. [redacted], the law school at [redacted], I'm told, has much to recommend it.

I hated law school, for purely idiosyncratic reasons:

1) I'd gone to The George Washington University as an undergrad, back when its undergrad program was way less highly ranked than its law school. My law school classmates looked down on the rest of the University, and I had a chip on my shoulder about that.

2) I knew when I went to law school that I wanted to train to be a poverty lawyer; I hoped never to send a client a bill in my life. I figured the Exxons and the Mobils of the world had plenty of representation; I wanted to represent people who, but for me, would find themselves in a courtroom alone.

This was not a common motivation among my law school colleagues. Few of us shared the same value system. One went so far as to tell me, after hearing that I'd done a summer law clerkship at a place called Community Law Offices, that I couldn't take such a job upon graduation or I would bring down the class average starting salary. [Blatant fabrication, told for comic effect, redacted.]

My last eight credits of law school were earned working at the Legal Aid Society of DC --- six for the hours I put in there and two for a paper I wrote. The paper was a very long "how-to" manual for young lawyers at big firms who took a pro bono case defending an indigent person from eviction.

They had the resources and knew how to write a brief and make a noise like a lawyer (i.e. "Objection, your honor, the question calls for speculation outside of the witness' expertise", or "Objection, your honor, immaterial," or the ever-popular "res ipsa loquitor").

But they had no idea what legal defenses one might proffer in a non-payment of rent case (i.e. breach of the warranty of habitability, violation of the rent control statute, failure to properly serve a summons on the defendant(s), or the ever-effective "failure to serve a proper Notice to Vacate in Spanish" --- even where no party to the transaction spoke Spanish.)

That last one was sneaky and unjust, but thoroughly legal in DC and, more than once kept a roof over the head of some innocent children who had the misfortune to have spendthrift idiots for parents. At least until winter ended, the spring thaw came, and the wronged landlord put a crowbar in his wallet and hired a lawyer to do the lawsuit by the books.

I put in all of this prefatory material just to warn you that my views may not reflect those of the typical law student. (Also 'cause I sometimes suffer from logorrhea.)
[Redacted area of law] is a growing field, and desperately needs trained lawyers who understand [redacted technical subject]. The D.C. Bar has 21 Sections, and one of the largest is the [redacted area of law] Section. Some of the most interesting people I deal with are from the [redacted area of law] Section.

If you're thinking about law school, do your research. Some schools (including G.W.) have strong [redacted area of law] faculties. You want to go to such a place.

However, don't expect most of your classes to be in [redacted area of law]. Even the most specialized law schools have a primarily generalist curriculum. First year is spent on very basic, broad topics --- typically Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and Legal Writing. The goal is to get you a basic grounding in how the common law was developed, how it is developed, and how legal analysis works. It's a very specialized, not-necessarily-intuitive, way of thinking.

In your second and third years you have more opportunity to specialize, but you still must take a lot of classes that won't be about [redacted area of law]. At least not directly.

But you'll take Administrative Law, because most [redacted area of law] litigation starts out in administrative agencies like the [redacted federal agency] or [another redacted federal agency]. You'll take Federal Jurisdiction, because the disputes that aren't resolved at the administrative level then wind up in a Federal Court. You'll take International Law because, more and more, these issues stretch across borders and cannot be resolved in only one jurisdiction.

And, if you're smart (a given here), you'll take at least some credits in your school's clinical program. You'll wind up representing poor people in disputes far afield from [redacted area of law]. This is not just because I think it's the moral way to proceed. Much more than that, it's the only way to see praxis, instead of theory. Many freshly-minted lawyers have never seen the inside of a courtroom or a hearing room, have never drafted a Complaint or an Answer to a Complaint, and haven't the foggiest idea of how to translate laweyerese into language a client can possibly understand.

In all these areas, you'll stand in much better stead than your peers if you've done these things. (And maybe pick up a bit of good karma on the side.)

If you go to law school, you will have one big advantage over the drones who march in lockstep from a poli sci major to law school without any intervening time in the real world. You'll have valuable perspective to help keep you grounded. I saw a number of folks go literally and certifiably nuts because they had no experience in the real world and were confronting, for the first time in their lives, a room full of people who were as high-achievers as they were. It freaked them out.

I have a lot of trouble picturing you freaking out over your first C grade or over a professor who fancies himself the second coming of Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman) in "The Paper Chase".

There's an adage about law school that says "The first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death." There's some truth in it.

The sheer volume of reading you have to do as a 1L is daunting, even to a promiscuous reader like you or me. I found little time to read the newspaper, let alone the fiction and biographies I normally thrive on, as a 1L. And I have to admit, the competition and high level braininess in some of my classrooms was scary.

But the fact that I was comfortable in Foggy Bottom after my undergraduate years there, and the fact that I'd taken a year off between undergrad and law school, helped with perspective on the scariness. [Redacted personal detail because my mom sometimes reads this blog].

In the second year, I had to read EVEN MORE than in the first year, but you get used to it and develop strategies for note-taking and outlining that, while the work is even more intensive than as a 1L (typically you're taking one or two more classes as a 2L) make year two more work than fear.

By the third year, you just want to get it out of the way, take the Bar exam and start your professional life. Typically, you've clerked during your second summer, and if you're lucky (and good --- a combination I suspect is innate for you), you have a pretty good shot at a job where you clerked after 3L is over.

Also, this is where taking some credits in your school's clinic comes in. The real life problems of real life clients are rarely boring.

Whoo-boy, I've pontificated at length here, and have only scratched the surface a bit. Of course your question was a mite open-ended.

Please follow up with any further questions you might have.

A law education is a good idea for you. If nothing else, it'll keep you from getting screwed when you develop the next [redacted product or service] and need to make sure you're the one who gets paid for it.



Monday, October 8, 2007

My Duet Partner is Also a Music Video Producer

And an all-around swell kid:

IMPORTANT NOTE: We've discovered that the youtub link works better if you don't start it 'til the Save Darfur ad is done loading.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Health Insurance?

A man suffered a serious heart attack and had open heart bypass surgery. He awakened from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns at a Catholic hospital.

As he was recovering, a nun asked him questions regarding how he was going to pay for his treatment. She asked if he had health insurance.

He replied, in a raspy voice, "No health insurance."

The nun asked if he had money in the bank.

He replied. "No money in the bank."

The nun asked, "Do you have a relative who could help you?"

He said, "I only have a spinster sister, who is a nun."

The nun became agitated and announced loudly, "Nuns are not spinsters! Nuns are married to G-d."

The patient replied, "Send the bill to my Brother-in-law."

(Thanks to my friend Michel, for passing this along.)

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Dash

I first heard this poem, by a poet named Linda Ellis, when a friend of my grandmother's recited it at her funeral. I keep a copy posted above my computer at my desk. On a Friday like today has been turning out, it helps me keep perspective.

I hope it does the same for you.

The Dash
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the second with tears,
but he said that what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth,
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard,
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
(You could be at "dash mid-range.")

If we could just slow down enough
to considerwhat's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel. less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be pleased with the things they have to say
about how you spent your dash?

Word of the Day

Someone on my shul's listserv subscribes to Urban Dictionary's Word of the Day.

Today, she posted August 30th's word: "Aibohphobia".

First to comment with the definition wins 1000 points.

These points are non-redeemable, non-transferrable and void where prohibited by law.

No fair looking it up on the internet, at Urban Dictionary, Google, or anyplace else. You're on your honor.