Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Back in October at UB's Desmond Moot Court competition, the case being argued was Locke v. Davey. The judging was based on the advocacy skills demonstrated by the students, of course, rather than on the merits, but all of the judges I sat with had opinions about the merits, and guesses about how the Supremes were likely to come down on it. I really did not anticipate that seven of them would go along with the State of Washington, and, to be honest, even as I read the opinion I am not so sure I understand the distinction being drawn by Rehnquist. I mean, sure, there's a difference between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, and I understand that in Lukumi the Court was dealing with a statute that criminalized a particular religious practice, but I am missing how the fact that the state's disfavor of religion is "of a far milder kind" makes any difference. Don't get me wrong-- I am delighted with the result, but I am struggling to see how it fits with the other things the Court has said on the subject.

I wonder too about Justice Scalia's influence these days. Even though he has been spotted an extra vote, he seems to be finding himself in the minority more and more. He seems to be getting crazier and crazier, too. I cannot imagine that he expects anyone to believe that the Reverend Davey's loss of his scholarship will bring about the loss of Medicare benefits for the clergy (maybe he was reading "The Power and the Glory" on his last duck hunting trip). And I think it is hilarious that he finishes his rant by comparing the majority's decision to the French banning religious attire from the schools. It's such a talk radio style insult: "You are wrong! You are stupid! You are... you are French! Nahhh!" Sometimes you get the feeling that Scalia is going to work himself into a Rumplestiltskin style rage and stomp himself through the floor, you know?

Thomas's dissent is just an embarrassment. Anytime someone writes an essay or gives a speech that quotes the dictionary you just know that they've got nothin. He'd have done better to have simply said, "I vote with Nino. He always has good ideas."

We tried to play a little catch up on this year's movies last night: I liked "Lost in Translation" quite a bit, and I liked "American Splendor" even more.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

The CLE I was part of on Monday was on calculating damages in wrongful death actions, one of those topics that you never think you might become expert on until suddenly you realize that it's something you've been working on for two decades. New York is better than some states and worse than others in this area: although the statute limits recovery for wrongful death to "pecuniary loss", the jurisprudential notion of what that encompasses is pretty broad. For example, the loss of "love, nurture, care and guidance" that a child sustains as the result of the death of a parent is recoverable, and there is even a case floating around out there that talks about the value of these things to a grandchild. The value of this is difficult to quantify in economic terms, although there are studies, and there are economists that are prepared to speak to the question. The catch is that in order for there to be any sort of recovery for wrongful death, there must be provable pecuniary loss that is personal to the plaintiff. A husband's death means that a wife will sustain the loss of his economic contribution to the household, the death of a child means that the child's parents sustain the loss of the future support they could have expected from their child-- like that. You see where I'm going with this, right? It has long been the law that regardless of the emotional and economic relationship between two gay partners, the death of one did not result in provable economic loss to the survivor. I have, over the course of my professional life, had a few wrongful death claims dismissed on this basis myself. Happily, there is now New York decisional law that recognizes Vermont civil unions as forming the basis for a claim of pecuniary loss in the context of wrongful death actions-- an example of the very simple, humane effect that recognition of gay marriage will have. As Beth notes, this is a subject that draws strange opposition from all sorts of otherwise right thinking people. It is very hard for me to get my mind around why this should be so-- why anyone should care what someone else's sex life is like. Reading the polling data that Beth cites I can see why both Kerry and Edwards are trying to dodge the question-- their spines are both fairly new and still soft, after all, but wouldn't it be cool if Kerry actually had the guts to say something like, "I believe in lromance, I believe in love. I believe that when two people are in love they should be allowed to marry. I believe that marrage is a socially stabilizing force in society, and therefore I am in favor of allowing people who are in love to marry each other. I believe that religioius freedom is one of the most important principles we have in the United States, and I fully support the right of any religion to decide which marrages it wishes to sanctify, but I do not believe that it is the business of government to do any more than issue licences to people who wish to marry. To go further than that would be to set the government up as its own sort of religion-- which would be bad-- or to sanction the intrusion of government into our bedrooms-- which would be worse."

Friday, February 27, 2004

God Hates "Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites."

Seems to me that there are a lot things in the Big Black Book that are conveniently forgotten quite often. I seem to recall something about judging not lest ye.... something, something. It probably rhymes in Greek. (Thanks to Bluishorange for the link.)

Ernie is good (no surprise there) on electronic discovery. We are trying to do more with document exchange on CD, but it's true-- lots of people are very resistant to this. My busy day yesterday wrapped up in Niagara Falls on a case where a new party has just appeared. Counsel is trying to get caught up, and asked plaintiff's attorney for copies of the deposition transcripts. He hemmed and hawed, and suggested that perhaps the way to do that was to contact the court reporter that had transcribed the deps. I am very interested in moving this case fast, so I chimed in: "I'll have them scanned and e-mailed to you. Excuse me for a moment, your Honor." I called my office right there, then turned back and said, "They are on your desktop. Judge, we don't need to hang this case up any longer than is absolutely necessary. Can we get a short date?" The judge, who is kind of a ballbreaker, was suitably impressed with the alacrity with which this little discovery issue had been resolved. He is inclined to move discovery fast, just to give the lawyers a hard time (and keep his docket moving, too). He spent more time jawboning the case after that than the entire exchange of hundreds of pages of material had taken. And I got a short date.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I'm actually having the kind of week that I tell people I do this work for. Monday another lawyer and I put on a CLE, which was fun-- the organizers didn't give us much structure, and my co-presenter could have put more effort into his portion, but I felt that the writing I did was pretty solid, and I felt really good about my lecture. Tuesday was an office day, and yesterday I was in court all day on a complex products liability/construction site accident mediation, followed by a reception that evening out at the law school for its mentoring program. Today was the sort of sweet day that all lawyers love-- I went from part to part making appearances on four different cases, schmoozing with other lawyers and chatting with some judges. The best one was the last one, where I was local counsel, the best gig in the world. Everyone is nice to local counsel, even when they are not so nice all the rest of the time. I'm not sure why that is-- local counsel is a vestigial organ, but I love when I get to do it.

If there was some interesting travel involved, it'd be a perfect week. Maybe I'll nip over to Canada just to round things out. Or, maybe I'll do some actual work, and see how that feels.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Over at M(ake)1, a rare law related post. An interesting one, too.

One of the reasons I am wary about the Buffalo News is that it seems to me that either the folks that write for it aren't telling us everything that they know, or they don't know very much. There are certainly exceptions, but, for example, I damn sure know more about cooking, and eating (and writing) than Janice Okun. And although I would defer to Jeff Simon on jazz questions, I find it disturbing that the rock critic, Jeff Meyers, apparently has as his principal qualification for the job the fact that he has a mullet. I mean, unless he's writing about Rush, he will typically get some notable fact about the artist he is reviewing just wrong enough to make you wonder where he gets his information-- and he seldom has an opinion that is strong enough one way or another to really be useful. This week washed up old Rod Stewart was in town, which meant that we got a big puff piece in the Friday Gusto section, then a prominently featured review of the show in last night's paper. Reading the review two things seem to come through-- Meyers didn't like the show, and he didn't want to say so for fear of offending the people who were there and dug it. Rod's been on my mind lately-- Nick Hornby started it, but this review made me dig out my copy of "Truth" which made for a very satisfying listen. Emboldened, I slapped on "Beck, Bogart Appice", which harshed my mellow, let me tell you. Listening to "Truth" you could see why that was a band that was fated to fly apart quickly-- like the elements at the bottom of the periodic table, this was a collection of egos that was far too heavy to be stable. It is safe to say that after that Beck never worked with a singer again-- just with guys who did "vocals". I suppose it's all for the good that he eventually stopped trying. Stewart stopped working with a band when he left Mercury and recorded "Atlantic Crossing". His best work was behind him, and who'd have guessed it?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Books you have not read. Actually, this is authors not read. I haven't read some of them myself, and one or two I've never heard of, but what is the point of this list? Are these books or authors he's going to get to? It doesn't seem as though he is bragging about having not read these writers' works-- is he bragging about how intellectually honest he is for fessing up to having not read "anything by Thomas Hardy"? That's a funny kind of boast, isn't it? I find myself in total disagreement with the statement, "Whether I like someone or not, admire or despise them, has nothing to do with what they read. I have deep affection for, and cherish the friendship of, people who read only what I consider to be utter pap." I know people who do not read fiction, and am friends with several such. I go for long stretches during which I find that I am not reading fiction myself, but I am filled with contempt for people who do not read, or read only "what I consider pap." If all a person reads is pap, be assured that that that person's ideas are likewise pap. When I go to someone's house, if I don't see books and music in abundence, I wonder what the people who live there do.
(Via Outside A Dog.)

Sunday, February 22, 2004

I just finished watching "Waking Life", a movie EGA has been telling us to see since she saw it immediately after it came to our town. She was right, of course. This is a movie that -- well, let's put it this way: there are movies that immediately become additions to the list of films that you know you will see again and again forever. Almost as soon as this one started I thought, "Huh-- this is sort of like 'My Dinner with Andre". It is, in fact, only like that in the sense that it is a film about extracting meaning from existence-- the two movies have only the fact that they are pretty talky else in common. The other movie it reminded me of, in an odd way, was "Wings of Desire". It is not like that, either. It is a funny thing-- anyone that I know that would probably like "Waking Life" has probably seen it, and anyone that I know that hasn't seen it is probably not very likely to. The visual style of the thing is wonderful, but it drove everyone else from the room; and I have a feeling that it is the kind of film that would leave a lot of people sort of open mouthed and gently snoring. It must have caught me just right, because I'm thinking "Golly, I wonder if we could get Richard Linklater to come and do a screening to benefit Squeaky Wheel the way Keith Fulton is with "Lost In LaMancha"?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

I can account for some of my answers-- I say, "y'all" because it is the most euphonious form of the plural "you" available in English. It is a stylistic choice, gddmnt! They're hero sandwiches where I grew up, too, not just Maine, but I tend to order them based on where I am doing the ordering. I don't ask for a hero in Buffalo, (where heros are in short supply to begin with)-- I ask for a sub. When I am fortunate enough to be in New Orleans, I'll have as many po'boys as I can, and it seems to me that a "grinder" is really specifically a hot sandwich, like with meatballs or Italian sausage. No way am I 69% Dixie. No way. Take the test yourself. (Via Backup Brain.)

To Jelly Jar last night, at the Lafayette Tap Room. It's probably been two or three years since I've seen these guys play, and that's probably just about the proper interval-- they're good, but I don't own a copy of "Live at Filmore East" for a reason, and that reason is that I seldom really need to hear "Whipping Post". Something that they are doing now is playing more soul-originated material in a hard rock style, which works better for me than the more boogie based stuff that I associate with their sound. A terrific "Take Me To The River", for example.

I can't remember the last time I've been to the Tap Room-- musta been before it moved, and then moved back. It is an odd experience to be in a smoke-free bar-- a lot of ambiance is lost, particularly in a joint like the Tap Room where the cigarette smoke was always so dense that you could sometimes barely see the person you were talking to. Bars without smoke resemble cafeterias more than is really hip, I think-- there is a lot more Formica in a lot of bars than you'd assume. It was a pleasant outing, made more so by the fact that the set started so early that I was still able to be out in time to have what has become our regular post-ballet practice dinner out with LCA.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A. was stressing last night about a deposition she was going to be doing today. Her adversary-- I want to make sure I'm within the realm of fair comment here-- is a vicious bitch who is not above using the discovery process as a coercive tool, and A. was concerned that she would exploit the occasion of a nonparty EBT on a Friday afternoon to exactly that end. Somewhere along the way A. picked up the notion that one should never sink to the level of an unscrupulous opponent, but of course that's not true at all. What you must never do is resort to the same tactics as your unscrupulous opponent. That gets you nowhere, and is irritating to judges. The trick is to use your enemy's strengths against them. Because A. is a nice person, she should use the perception of niceness as a tool to work her own ends. There are several effective ways to do this-- even I have been able to use these tricks, and I'm not nice at all. First, remember who the most important person in the room is. The lawyers always assume that they are the most important, because they are, after all, the lawyers. Non-lawyers might guess that the most important person is the witness, since that is the person everyone is there to hear. Both of these guesses are wrong-- the most important person is the court stenographer, who is making the record that everyone else is going to depend on. If you are nice to the court reporter, you have a very powerful ally in the room. Because the reporter mostly functions in the background, lawyers often forget they are there, or treat them like furniture. Big mistake. The simple expedients of saying "Hi," introducing yourself, giving the reporter your card, asking now and then if she'd like a break -- these things will pay tremendous benefits. Remember, nobody in the room likes the lawyers. Even the clients hate their lawyers. If you can shift the balance so that one person likes you, you can do whatever you want to in that room. This works with witnesses, too. It's a mistake to think that the other lawyer's client loves him--they hardly know each other, most of the time. Try this amusing trick some time-- if your opponent is giving you a hard time about something, say: "Look, we're just wasting time." Turn to the witness then and say, "You don't want to have to come back, do you?" Do it on the record, and say it nice as pie. I guarantee that the rest of your day will go a lot more smoothly. He doesn't want to come back. You are both wasting his time-- but you are the one that cared enough to ask him, and now he likes you best.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Like everyone, I suppose, we occasionally have server issues. It occurs to me that identifying when this has happened is a way in which spam is actually useful. I mean, when I come in in the morning, it is possible that I might not have any email from the people with whom I actually correspond (not likely, but possible). It is completely impossible for there to be no mail from the folks that would like me to earn Big $$$ from home, however, and then I know that I have to get right on the case. Spam as a diagnostic....

For what it's worth (not much, I realize), I'm still voting for Dean. If he accomplished nothing else, he made the other Democrats vertibrates, and he managed to motivate a lot of voters who otherwise would have stayed home. The fact that these were, apparently, the only voters he motivated, and that he somehow failed to get any traction with more traditional Democratic voters is puzzling to me, but the Democrats need to do two things if they are going to win: they need to bring more people into the process, and they need to motivate cross-over voters. My hunch is that Edwards would be better at the latter, but keeping Dean involved will be important for the former. Besides all that, I want Joan Jett at the Democratic Convention

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I know plenty of people who are handier with a saucepan than I am, but I'm not bad. Long ago I learned that if I wanted something delicious, my best bet was often going to be to make it myself, so I've learned a few tricks, and a bit about seasoning, and while there are vast continents whose cuisine I cannot lay claim to being able to competently prepare, if it's European or North American, I've probably had a go at it, and I can often reconstruct it after having once or twice. I suppose I'm a picky eater-- I'd rather not eat if what is offered is not up to what I consider acceptable. Life being what it is, time to cook is at a premium, however, and I am also confronted with certain limitations imposed by my audience which complicate my task. One such is the presence in our household of at least one, and sometimes two pisco-vegetarians. This is okay-- we eat less meat, more fish. I can handle that. Over the weekend I made Chuck Taggert's barbecued Shrimp, which were delicious, only to find that CLA doesn't really care for shrimp. Yesterday, a bit pressed for time, I made pasta with a simple tomato sauce to which I added grilled red peppers. CLA doesn't really like red peppers, and delicately ate around them. I love working with eggplant, a very versatile vegetable, but A. won't eat it. I love cooking French food, but A. will consume nothing with mustard-- a base ingredient in more sauces than you'd think, starting with mayonnaise. In today's NYTimes there is a lovely article on anchovies. I love pasta puttanesca, but it contains two forbidden ingredients: in addition to the lovely little fishes, nobody in my house will touch anything that they suspect has been touched by a caper. The caper rule impacts on quite a number of nice sauces for fish, actually.

I'm just scratching the surface here. Down this path lies fishsticks and salads made with iceberg lettuce (and that orange dressing-- a worse insult by Americans to the French than any they have ever given to us). The most important question of the day-- "What's for dinner?"-- and I'm running out of answers.

I've probably mentioned this before, but I love writing discovery demands. Unfortunately they generate discovery responses, and I hate reading discovery responses.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Speaking of questions, Legal Fiction asks, Are Bush and Cheney evil people? He concludes not, on the grounds that, "It's not that they are consciously making bad decisions, it's that they are incapable of knowing what's good." I sometimes find myself defending the legal process when people say "What difference does it make-- they all lie" by saying that very few people consciously lie when they are on the stand. When people take the oath and testify, I think that, for the most part, they are convinced that they are telling the truth, notwithstanding the disconnect between what they are saying and what others see. We live our lives as the stars of our own movies, and if the lighting and the storyline favor us, well, it is our movie after all. We account for ourselves in the way that makes us look like the people we believe ourselves to be, and if we really believe it, it isn't really lying, is it?

This is, incidentally, why cross-examination works. It is pretty to think that our cross is so powerful that a witness will crumple and confess when subjected to the withering power of our Perry Mason questioning, but really what good cross amounts to is holding the witness testimony up against reality, showing it to the jury for what it really is. The difference between this and what Bush does is a marked one, I think-- he doesn't really seem to care that what he says is contradicted by the facts, or that he contradicts himself. What is important to Bush is what he believes. He lives in a supernatural world where beliefs trump everything else, which makes him blithely incapable of seeing, or caring about anything that exists in contradiction to those beliefs. You can't argue with that mindset-- people who see the world that way are incapable of seeing any other point of view. But does that matter? Does it matter that Bush believes that he is doing the right thing, that he seems incapable of existential doubt? I'd say not-- his intentions, however honorable, result in wrong, and that should be the measure of how we judge him.

As for Cheney, I am incapable of giving him even that much benefit of the doubt. He has cynically manipulated everything that he has ever had power over to work to his best advantage. Perhaps he thinks he is doing the right thing, but he seldom justifies it that way. The most telling quotation from the O'Neill book, it seems to me, is when Cheney tells him, "It's our due." Even if he doesn't know what is good, justifying his behavior on the grounds of "because I can" is not excusable. This is the justification of the bully and the tyrant, both of whom always know full well that what they are doing is inexcuasable.

So the question is not, "Is A-Rod that good?"-- we know he is, just by the numbers. The question is, "Will A-Rod make a difference?" and there, I think, the answer is probably no. I could be wrong, and it will certainly be a pleasure to watch him in pinstripes (just as it would have been agony to watch him play for the Scarlet Hose), but I just don't see how The Best Player in Baseball is going to make that much difference to a team in a competitive division that needs pitching more than any other commodity, particularly when said Scarlet Hose have improved their pitching staff to the extent that they have this off season.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Men born the year I was born were the first of our generation who were not obliged to register for the draft. The guys who were seniors when I was a junior had draft cards-- my class did not. Nevertheless, the War, and the draft, and the cultural politics surrounding these things were formative debates as I approached my majority, and I think it is fascinating that these old arguments still rage. Frankly, I would like to think that if I'd been called to go that I'd have moved to Winnipeg, but I know that it wouldn't have played out that way. I doubt that I'd have found myself in Saigon, but for sure, if I'd gotten that letter, my personal beliefs about the War notwithstanding, my stupid sense of duty would have seen me in khakis. I'm just as glad it didn't play out that way, believe me, and I am persuaded that the way I saw things back then was in need of rethinking. Well, after all, what doesn't benefit from re-thinking, right? So the fact that John Kerry went, and served honorably, and returned, and spoke out , again honorably, seems more impressive to me now than it did at the time. The culture back then was different. I know a lot of people who worked the system pretty hard to avoid the trip to the jungle, and I still respect that impulse, but there is no getting around the fact that what Kerry did was impressive. Can we say it was the right thing to do? It seems that way, doesn't it? Was what Bush did the pusillanimous thing that it now seems? Well yes, it does seem to have been, even if he actually did serve out his stretch. How obvious were the answers to those questions back then? Rather less obvious, I'd say. That happens sometimes in morally ambiguous situations. One of the things that puts it in perspective, I think, is that Kerry opposed the war, and went, while Bush says he favored it, and took the rich boy way out. This timeline tells the story in a pretty pointed way, and although I don't necessarily always buy the idea that the child is father to the man, it is nevertheless pretty revealing.

In a funny way the fact that Bush lay low for Vietnam forshadows his initial response following the September 11 attack. He went to ground both times, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Christgau points out that Pazz & Jop skews white. "Racist? Us? Can't be. It's just that Euro-Americans make more aesthetically commanding popular music than African Americans, year in and year out. History shows that, right?" There was a time in my young life when I followed all this much more closely-- I'm distanced from what is popular in music right now, but I am still an avid consumer, and I still care, even though I only own two sides referenced on the Dean's List (and one of those, Television's "Live at the Old Waldorf" is a burned copy that came into my possession yesterday. Thanks Tom-- it's mighty good!). It finally dawned on me last Friday that I really like "Hey Ya" ("Gimme some suga', I am your neighbor"-- c'mon, that's irresistible). So maybe I do still get it, even if I am spending less time and money at Championship Vinyl these days.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Scheherazade on male discourse. "One of the ways these exchanges were different than conversations I'm used to is that, of course, sports and commentary about commercials and ribbing of the other guy were interspersed and always took priority over the other subject. But each subject was treated with only a sentence or two -- unless I blurted in and asked questions, which mostly I didn't but sometimes my curiousity got the better of me -- and then was done. Information exchange is very efficient, apparently."

Further to Thursday's Dean meditation, I am reminded of the chapter in "Homer Price" when a stranger comes to town. The populance assume that the bearded individual who has lived in seclusion for the past twenty years is like Rip Van Winkle, and proceed to make a series of decisions based on this assumption. When it turns out that he is really closer to the Pied Piper of Hamlen they are forced to re-evaluate-- and their mouse problem, which the stranger had proposed to remedy, remains unremediated. I wonder how far I can torture this analogy? Is Haliburton like the fat, doughnut-fed mice that live in Uncle Ulysses' lunchroom? Perhaps I am over-thinking this again.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

I wanted ribs last night, but A. wanted to go to Ulrich's, so we had a nice light German meal instead. I pretty much got the hang of this sort of cooking a few years ago, but now, with two vegetarians in the house, and no desire on my part to look like a lederhosen-clad tuba player, I seldom make my famous sauerbraten. That doesn't mean I won't eat it if it is available, though, and I hit the gym today feeling a little more sluggish than I might have if I'd had partaken of a meal more sensible for a man with distance running aspirations. Perhaps there is a marathon in Nordlingen I could run....

Friday, February 06, 2004

Janet Jackson Breast Cupcakes. You know, I am tempted to bring these to next year's Super Bowl party.... Or at least add the recipe to the NFL book. (Via BoingBoing.)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I've been saying for a while that I don't think Howard Dean is George McGovern-- that the closest analog was probably Gene McCarthy. I'm not so sure that's right, either. I'm beginning to think that perhaps he's John Anderson. I do not think that Dean is going to bolt the Democrats, but I think that his appeal is more narrow than I'd hoped-- which is another way of saying, I guess, that I misjudged the beliefs of mainstream America. Not for the first time, either. Oh, well. On Wisconsin!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

A friend emailed to tell us that his dog died today. He must have been worried about her-- he had mentioned that she was in failing health when I saw him over the weekend. Today she just gave out, and he and his wife had to perform the last act of kindness we can perform for the ones who have done nothing but devote their simple lives to making us happy.

I expressed my condolences, but in the instance of a dog, the condolences of friends mean little. Although I do not have a dog, I know this well. My brother has always said that his autobiography will begin, "I grew up on Long Island, where I was raised by Golden Retrievers," and that is as true a statement of our childhood as I can imagine. As I walked home from work today, I thought about what my friend must be feeling, and I thought about that the fact that the first time I think I ever saw my father consumed with grief was when our dog, Dusty, died. I'm bad at guessing ages, but I think must have been younger than 8, and that would have made my dad, what? Late 20's, perhaps? Certainly younger than I am now. Both his parents were still alive, and if they weren't close to my age now, they were certainly younger than my dad is today. I remember him coming home, and just lying on the bed in the guest bedroom, staring at the ceiling. Certainly death was nothing new to him, certainly he had experienced the death of a dog before, but I had not, and I had never seen my dad that sad.

I guess that's the trade off we have with our dogs. They make us happy, just by being there for us, but the price we pay is profound sadness when they die. They always die, of course. We all do, but dogs live on an accelerated cycle-- they are that much more happy to see us, we are that much more profoundly sad when we will never see them again. And we are always sad when we think about it, except when our dogs are there to take our minds from it.

Of course I could work at Championship Vinyl with Rob, Dick and Barry. Could you? Too easy, actually, but what the hell. (Thanks to Dodd for the link.)

I was thinking about vacations. Something that A. and I used to do, when we were in law school, and for a while after, was camping. A. was a dedicated backpacker-- I preferred canoes. We did both, pretty regularly, with a group of friends that was small enough to be companionable, and large enough to constitute the largest human habitation in the places where we went. When did that stop? I think probably this started being less fun when we had children. When we were young and childless, it was possible to really get backcountry. The idea of being in the wilderness, and the physical exertion necessary to accomplish this, were appealing when it was just us and our friends. The logistics become much more complicated when you add people for whom a walk to the corner store is the Shackleton Expedition, so your goals become more modest. Wilderness becomes "outside somewhere". The physical exertion that was expended on a three mile portage is now used to load and unload the minivan. At this point camping ceases to be Adventure, and becomes Sleeping On Dirt. Frankly, at this point in my life I get crabby if I don't like the moisturizer in the hotel bathroom, so Sleeping On Dirt is out. I suppose this is something that having children has taught me. Funny about life's little lessons-- this is not one that I would have expected.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Kate got braces last Friday. Sunday, after Sonny Fortune and Rashied Ali (great, by the way-- I'll get to writing about it) A. thought it would be a good idea for me to take LCA sledding. As I rode down the hill on the first ride of the afternoon a kid wandered into my track. "Look out!" I yelled, and tried to steer away. She stood there, and raised her sled, like a shield. So I broke her sled with my face. Now both Kate and I are talking kinda funny, and it sort of sounds like we are trying to become NPR announcers.

Monday, February 02, 2004

A final Super Bowl thought-- the ads were pretty disappointing, didn't you think? I am particularly tired of commercials for products that give you an erection. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but to my way of thinking, that's what beer commercials should do. Mike Ditka? Maybe he makes some people think about sex, but I don't hang around with those people so much. The football through the tire is pretty lame, too. What they really ought to do is include that image as part of a montage: a train going into a tunnel, a rocket blasting off, fireworks, maybe a soccer ball going in the net, and Mickey Mantle hitting a home run-- 30 seconds of that sort of thing, and the product's name at the end would sell a whole lot more of the product than Ditka and poor old Bob Dole wringing their hands together and singing "Saturday Night Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week."

You'll want to read Dave's post over at the KRAC Blog today.

Howard Bashman has hung out his shingle. Congratulations, and good luck.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

I did my states map too.

and I was pleased to see that I have been pretty much true to my policy of visiting only states that vote in a manner consistent with my own beliefs most of my life. South Carolina is an aberration-- it's where the Catholic Church nearest to my parents' house happens to be. Yeah, I know, go figure.

For my purposes, a visit means that I broke bread-- merely being in the airport does not count. Until last year this meant that Illinois was not on my list; until Hell freezes over, Florida will never be, notwithstanding Miami's status as gateway to the Caribbean. I love this toy.

I'm a sucker for sites with a lot of rules to live by. Here's a good one, and some examples:

"All those skinheads over there? They’ll beat your ass.

Pajamas are indeed comfy, but society dictates we not wear them to school, work or the bowling alley.

The bouncer at Mons Venus always knows best. If he says you should stop, then you should stop.

Strictly speaking, ranch dressing is not an ingredient.

You can use Krazy Glue in lieu of surgical stitches. For when you’re, you know, too poor to go to the emergency room. Or trying to avoid explaining things to the police.
(Via Boing Boing.)

Hmm. I'll spare you the analysis that led to my Panthers pick-- the game didn't play out the way I thought it would, but, on the other hand, it didn't look like it played out the way Bill Belichick thought it would either. Good game, which is all a Super Bowl should be if your team isn't in it. Brady really is that good-- and Carolina is for real. I can't believe the Bills could have had John Fox, and took the (tastefully named) Gregg Williams instead.

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