Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, February 28, 2005

David McAninch thinks he has discovered something, but the fact is that (a) every New Yorker knows about places like these; and (b) writing about places like these is a literary tradition that goes back to roughly Washington Irving. Doesn't mean it isn't something worth writing about-- I could go for a pig's foot and a short beer right now myself.

I wonder if pigs' feet are interdict?

After we saw The Gates, we went to lunch in Chinatown. Although she will not speak Chinese to the waiter, it is still good to have a Chinese speaking EGA along on excursions like this: she can read the signs on the wall, and tell us about the specials that aren't on the menu, and she picked out XO Kitchen where we had a fine dim sum meal.
Because we were feeling silly we used our swatches to make our own instalation, then we had steamed dumplings with watercress, and fried dumplings with shrimp, and a nice pot of congee, and steamed spareribs and a bunch of other stuff. We'd had pretty substantial breakfasts, but we'd also covered quite a bit of ground in the park, so we were all pretty hungry. Posted by Hello

To NYC over the weekend to see The Gates, to see EGA, to have several nice meals, and, for some of us, to see the City Ballet. Reviews to follow, as time permits. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 25, 2005

It is difficult to imagine that New Yorkers will vote for an 85 year old man to be District Attorney, but, on the other hand, it is hard to imagine any one other than Robert M. Morgenthau as New York District Attorney. Who was DA before him, Frank Hogan? His justification for running impresses me as close to undeniable: "I've got a terrific staff, I'd like to hold them together," he said. "The only way I can do that is by running."

Morgenthau does have a terrific staff-- always has. I was thinking about that today, and contrasting the way that office, and the Brooklyn DA's office, work with the way the Erie County District Attorney, Frank Clark, runs the show. Clark has been pretty visible lately because the County Executive has told him he has to trim his staff due to the budget crisis. (The number I heard today was 35 to 40 lawyers.) Clark does not want to do this, and has been arguing that there will be a crime wave if his office has to fire that many people. Can you imagine Bob Morgenthau saying that? Morgenthau would fight like a tiger to keep his people, to be sure, but he wouldn't ever say that his team couldn't get the job done-- and he'd be right. Morgenthau's ADAs would roll up their sleeves, and they'd keep on keeping on.

The difference is that Morgenthau picks his staff on merit. Politics is all about money, of course, and one way that it is about money is patronage. In terms of patronage, the DA's job is just about the best there is: not only do you get to give out jobs, but the jobs you get to give out are really good jobs. Well paying, prestigious lawyer jobs. Just for fun, I had a look at the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyers Directory to see how many surnames I recognized over in Clark's office. It is quite a list. Quite a few "Jr.s" and even more "IIIs". I'm sure many of these people are fine lawyers, and diligent public servants, but it is pretty obvious how they got their jobs in the first place, and frankly, that's not how you put together a staff like Morgenthau's.

Oh, and speaking of great jobs, Morgenthau's grandfather was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire for Woodrow Wilson. How great a job would that have been?

Essential free downloads for Windows users. (Via the Morning News.) I altready use most of them, and will certainly give Trillian a whirl again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I feel like I discoverd Laura Cantrell, but of course that's not true: EGA did. Nevertheless, I couldn't be happier that she is finding an audence, and William B. Swygart agrees. "Laura Cantrell is something like what happens when it goes right. It’s a marvellous, marvellous thing. One of my fondest memories of listening to John Peel was when he’d play her records, and introduce them by saying “And now, Laura.” Laura has the connection, the sense of familiarity whereby you feel comfortable just talking about her by her first name, just like all the best pop stars. I’d sit and listen and be spellbound, and I could imagine it happening up and down the country too, three minutes of people just sitting and smiling, easing themselves back into their chairs and listening to Laura… hackneyed, maybe, but that’s genuinely how it felt."

Of course you should download "Hong Kong Blues", but don't miss "Churches Off The Interstate", or any of the other songs she is bating the hook with-- I haven't been disapointed with a Laura Cantrell side yet.

A little more Dylanology: WFUV's tribute to "Blood on the Tracks", Hosted by Darren DeVivo:

Hour 1:
"Tangled Up in Blue," Toshi Reagon
"Simple Twist of Fate," Citizen Cope
"You're a Big Girl Now," Ollabelle
"Idiot Wind," Jeffrey Gaines w/Mary Lee Kortes
"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome," Joan Osborne & John Leventhal
Tara Anderson with perspectives on Blood on the Tracks

Hour 2:
"Call Letter Blues," Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks outtake (The Bootleg Series, volume 2)
"Simple Twist of Fate," instrumental from Alex DeGrassi & Joel Harrison
"Meet Me in the Morning," Marc Anthony Thompson w/Vernon Reid
"Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts," Brandon Ross w/commentary from Wendy Lesser
"If You See Her, Say Hello," Jen Chapin
"Shelter from the Storm," Richard Barone with Julia Kent, Tony Visconti & Buddy Cage
"Buckets of Rain," Jesse Harris
"I Shall Be Released," All

I love this station, which seems to be where all the progressive radio jocks from my youth washed up on shore. Yesterday, for example, I got Brian Ferry doing "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", Steve Earle's "I Ain't Ever Satisfied", John Hammond on "Heartattack and Vine", "Goin' Down To Laurel", and Richard Thompson's "Read About Love". They were featuring Tori Amos, so I found that I was obliged to switch away from time to time, but by doing so I also got "Little T&A" into the mix. The River just can't stand up to a playlist like that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The problem with David Dobbs analysis of our present medical malpractice system, and the potential advantages of adopting something like the Swedish system is that it fails to address the fundamental issue of why victims of medical negligence should be compensated any differently than are the victims of any other sort of tortfeasor.

That's one problem. Another problem is that he starts from the premise that there actually is a "malpractice crisis"-- notwithstanding the Congressional Budget Office study he gives the back of his hand to. Another problem is that he misstates the plaintiff's burden of proof.

I ain't buying it.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dylanology: Luc Sante weighs in.

I am just getting to the Mynah Birds period in Jimmy McDonough's Neil Young biography, "Shakey", and I am enjoying it a great deal. The Bard of Hibbing is a constant referent, as well he might be, but Young is in no way diminshed by this. Still, it is interesting to consider where Young fits in the pantheon: he is a quirky figure. Think about it: are there any great musicians that Young can claim to have "discovered"? (Nils Lofgren?) Who, besides everyone, has he influenced? How many great Neil Young covers are there? (Brian Ferry's "Like a Hurricane"? Nicolette Larson's "Lotta Love"?) And yet, there he is, one of the towering figures in this music, indisputably great, even though defining that greatness is a challenge. I expect I'll revisit this topic when I've finished the book-- I'm presently stuck in an airport, so that may be sooner than I'd planned.

Queen of Wands wraps up this Wednesday. I've been following it for about a year, I guess, and I'll miss it. I actually went so far as to go back to the beginning of the strip and catch up when I first found it, but if you haven't, Aeire is going to re-run it seven days a week starting a week from today. It is hard to say exactly what I like about Queen of Wands: mostly, I think it is that the characters all seemed to care about each other, which draws the reader into caring about them too. I respect the decision to bring it to an end-- as I've been following it, it is clear that with some diversions along the way it was written with a distinct narrative arch, and sticking with this was a good plan.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The conventional wisdom about the National Hockey League strike seems to be that the obliterated season demonstrates that there really isn't much fan interest in the sport, but I'm not so sure. Perhaps what it shows is who sport really belongs to, and if that message gets through maybe we will be able to start down the road to a saner Sports Word.

I enjoy hockey, but it has been at least three years since I have been to an NHL game. I had a great time at the Bemeji-Niagara game earlier this season, and have been trying to get it together to see another college game. It probably won't happen, but I've been following the local college hockey season with interest. It has been an interesting year in local college sports generally, in the usual bi-polar way that sports are always interesting: Canisus College, the local Jesuit institution has been in a state of meltdown, firing its long-time hockey coach when the students pressured the school's athletic director to do so. (The Buffalo News called them "players", not students, which gets at the heart of that problem quite nicely.) On the other hand, UB's basketball team has been playing well, and might get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

And there you have it-- I read the sports pages because I enjoy reading good news-- stories about people striving, stories about hard work being rewarded, stories about the extraordinary positive things that people are capable of-- even if, in the end, these things are really just games. In an important way they are not "just" games-- athletes apply themselves to their tasks as methodically and rigorously as anyone working on something covered in the other parts of the newspaper, so why shouldn't we take what they do seriously? In fact, we do-- sports is big business, and we all follow it, and what that means is that sports belongs to all of us. The NHL seems to think that it owns hockey, but that's demonstrably untrue: the NHL hasn't dropped a puck this season, but there has been hockey, and there will continue to be hockey. The NHL is run like a Ponzi scheme, but that has nothing to do with the sport. Jerry Seinfeld has famously said that following professional sports is really just rooting for laundry, and I have to say that I agree-- when people talk about how the Red Sox waited 86 years to win the World Series I fell like looking around to find the octogenarians on the team. These guys haven't waited 86 years, and it isn't really true that the fans have, either. Who owns the World Series? Well, the collection of players that won last year-- the athletes themselves-- accomplished it, so you'd have to say that it was theirs. In doing it, they made a lot of people quite happy, so in a sense those people, as beneficiaries of the victory, so to speak, also have a share. And then there are the team owners, who benefit financially. Of course they are the real owners of the sport in the economic sense, but what they really own is the platform for the athletes to perform on, and for the fans to witness the performance. Sports business is terribly run-- as a business-- but the athletes perform brilliantly, and we care passionately. Although it is probably true that the fans are exploited, and while it is arguably true that the athletes do not receive the full, fair economic share of the fruits of their effort in the end the athletes and the fans are the ones that sports belong to. The platform owners-- the NHL, for example-- can't take sports away, even if they think they can.

I like Anil Adyanthaya's idea: the trustees of the Stanley Cup should "award the Cup to this year's champion of the American Hockey League, which is the best league in North America now that the N.H.L. is gone for the year." Or award it to the winner of the NCAA tournament.

Sports belong to the people who care about them-- care enough to work to become athletes, or just care enough to care. In a perfect world everyone would be personally invested in sport by virtue of participation. I have said before that I've always considered myself an athlete, so I feel that my sports participation makes me a shareholder. We had dinner at Cole's tonight, and at the next table was the Oswego State basketball team, in town to take on the Bengals of Buff State. It was a heartening scene-- they were with their coaches, and the trainer. Behind them, on the television, UAB and Cincinnati were playing, and from time to time one of them would glance at the game. They were quiet, but cheerful. There aren't too many levels of basketball lower than Buff State vs Oswego, but they were getting into their game heads, you could tell. Their sport plainly belongs to them-- these are not college athletes who drive Humvees. They are at school to be at school, and while they are there, they are playing a game that they love.

The economic owners are the stewards of sport, and quite often they are bad custodians of something that I think we all agree is valuable. Because it is valuable, the poor stewards can only really end up hurting the economic component of the games that we love. People care about hockey-- but we may be learning that it is hockey we like, not laundry.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Top One Hundred Gadgets of All Time. "[L]et's lay some ground rules before we get started. What defines a "gadget" anyway?
* It has to have electronic and/or moving parts of some kind. Scissors count, but the knife does not.
* It has to be a self-contained apparatus that can be used on its own, not a subset of another device. The flashlight counts; the light bulb does not. The notebook counts, but the hard drive doesn't.
* It has to be smaller than the proverbial bread box. This is the most flexible of the categories, since gadgets have gotten inexorably smaller over time. But in general we included only items that were potentially mobile: The Dustbuster counts; the vacuum cleaner doesn't." (Via Boing Boing.)

As it happens, we're looking for gadget suggestions for the paying gig we have with "Buffalo Spree". What is something that fits into these definitional criteria that you would put on the list? Alternatively, what are some duds? We are thinking of a column of all duds, like this hilarious "Miss A Utility Knife". If men were women, they would like stuff like this-- it is a good example of a terrible gadget, because it has next to no appeal for its target audience. Think about it: the point of a Swiss Army knife is that it combines a blade, a corkscrew, a screwdriver and a couple of other things into a pocket-sized tool. Now think about the "Miss A": it combines a bunch of stuff that women carry in their pocketbooks into one unit. Why? It does not do any of the things that it does as well as the things themselves do-- and women have a system for carrying all this stuff around already. Guys reading this clicked on the link and thought "Cool-- that'd make a nice gift!" Women looked at it, trust me on this, and thought, "That's stupid". As with vacuuming robots, my recommendation to you, gentlemen, is to avoid stuff like the "Miss A Utility Knife."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hey, I know that guy! My brother's restaurant-- the first restaurant in California to become organically certified-- reviewed. "For Altreuter, whose job is to keep customers satisfied with hearty pub fare -- burgers, steaks, hefty salads -- while keeping prices reasonable, being limited to buying organic makes running the kitchen a balancing act.
When bell peppers are available for a good price in the summer, he buys enough for the year, roasting and freezing them. He cans apricots and puts the preserves away for the winter, when there is no local, inexpensive organic alternative.
Altreuter's menu is eclectic, and some of his biggest challenges are finding organic ethnic ingredients like spicy hoy sin sauce, rice noodles or dried chilies. Exhaustive searches often end in Altreuter just making his own condiments -- or tossing the entree idea and starting over.
Even common ingredients can give the chef trouble. The restaurant tries to rely on small producers in Mendocino County like Gaska. But sometimes small farmers just can't come up with 50 pounds of tomatoes on demand, Altreuter says. The menu warns, "items are subject to availability of organic ingredients."
(Via Saute Wednesday.) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Watching Westminster CLA mentioned that one of the kids she babysits just got a video about a Scottie who gets chased by some ducks. "Angus and the Ducks!" I exclaimed. She agreed that this was the title. For the most part I did a pretty good job of reading my daughters the books I loved growing up: "The Story About Ping" , "The Five Chinese Brothers","Caps for Sale", and of course, "Moby Dick", but somehow I'd forgotten "Angus and the Ducks". Too late now. I'd feel silly buying a copy, and CLA says that she won't borrow the video. She tells me that there is a Scotty in it, and some ducks, but I remember that much. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

To Luciana Souza and Edward Simon at the Albright Knox Microsoft Art of Jazz series Sunday, an excellent performance by two serious artists. Souza has a sweet voice which negotiated the complexities of Brazilian rhythm smoothly, without a hint of how difficult what she was doing really was; Simon was deft and witty. I don't have the grasp of Brazilian or Latin jazz that I should, but it is always a pleasure to spend some time with it, particularly live.

Souza draws comparisons to Claudia Acuna, who was poised to be the next big thing, but seems to have cooled off a bit; if I were more knowlegible about these things I could draw comparisons between Brazil and Acuna's Chile, and the stylistic differences that the Brazilian and Latin tradition bring to the interpretation of jazz standards. Or maybe not-- maybe it is not accurate to attribute these differences to culture; I think instead that they are stylistic choices made by each artist from the pallet that is available to each. Comparison between the two is worthwhile for the purposes of illustration, however: Acuna came to town with a big band, which suited her bold approach. Souza was more cerebral. Her latest project is a set of poems by Pablo Neruda set to music she composed-- Neruda was a sensualist, of course, but the undertaking is a demonstration of the intellectualism which she brings to her music. This sort of intellectualism seems characteristic of her approach-- she has put poems by Elizabeth Bishop to music also, and performed a composition that consisted of the first couple of lines of famous poems strung together. Not exactly the sort of thing I think of when I think of jazz-- but it was certainly jazz. Her performance was warm, and utterly charming. I would love to see her working with a guitarist-- something she does regularly; and I would be very interested in seeing Simon work in a trio setting. Interestingly, both Acuna and Souza took on "My Romance", a song I love, but not one that I hear all that often. I'm sure it is fun to sing, and perhaps there is something in it that draws musicians of a certain type, the way "Autumn Leaves" does. Souza's was more introspective, I'd say, or maybe flirtatious, while Acuna belted it out with exuberance.

Souza played two sets, about evenly divided between Brazilian numbers, the Neruda songs and more conventional jazz standards. It was a good mix, and they obviously were enjoying themselves

We're going down to see The Gates, but as an opponent of the Lights in Delaware Park, I have to admit that I see Witold Rybczynski's point: there is a real sense in which what makes Olmsted's parks great is that they are designed to create a very particular experience. Although they are artificial, and set in the heart of urban space, they are supposed to create a place where city dwellers can experience nature. The fact that his parks accomplish this by virtue of the fact that they are composed and artificial is the genius of them. The Gates are not consistent with this vision, but I still want to see them.

I'm not sure why the illuminated snowmen in Delaware Park were more offensive to me than Christo and Jean Claude's undertaking-- although the cheesiness factor is certainly part of it. I'm looking forward to seeing The Gates-- I've wanted to see this since he proposed it 25 years ago.

Monday, February 14, 2005

I feel sick about Lynne Stewart's conviction-- it amounts to criminalizing lawyering, which is something no free society should ever do. Like David Feige I've seen Ms. Stewart around the courthouse, and although I have never had an interest in being a criminal defense lawyer of any stripe, I have nothing but respect for the ones who take on the job. The good ones know that if they don't the system will collapse due to its own corruption, and they want to believe in the system. Lynne Stewart has never labored under any illusion that the system is fair-- her approach has always been to expose the unfairness, in an effort to make the law keep its promise. She was pretty effective at it too, but a New York jury-- particularly a Southern District Court jury-- isn't going to be very sympathetically disposed to World Trade Center bombers, or their lawyers. One of the first things I noticed after the September 11 attacks, after we all went back to work, was that the quality of the light downtown changed. It is different still, in Foley Square, where Stewart was tried, and where the Second Circuit, which will hear her appeal, sits. You hope for the best from your courts, but Foley Square, as Stewart could tell you, was where Roy Cohn pulled the levers on the Rosenberg trial. The quality of the light in Foley Square has always been variable.

You hang around long enough, and you realize that you know everyone. As it happens, the Assistant US Attorney on this case is someone A. practiced with back in the Brooklyn DA's office. I am sure he is pleased with this outcome, and believes that he is contributing to the war on terror, or some damn thing. I could never do Lynne Stewart's job, but it seems to me that she has made more contributions to the qualities that I cherish about the American justice system than Andy Dembar ever has, or ever will.

This afternoon I had a case management conference in the Western District federal court here in Buffalo. The magistrate I was before is the judge who presided over the Lackawanna Six case. He is fairly new to the bench, and his chambers are decorated with big framed chalk drawings of those proceedings, presumably made by a courtroom artist for use on television news. I was troubled by this-- the case really was never put to the disinfecting test of exposure to sunlight. The defendants, confronted with the Hobbsian choice of being declared enemy combatants or taking a plea, took the plea. We haven't heard about any terrorist attacks thwarted by reason of their cooperation, but the half-life of these sorts of things is pretty short-- when was the last time you heard anyone ask about the WMD's in Iraq? Still, it seemed to me that trumpeting one's participation in what looked like a real railroad job is in questionable taste, even for these times. I can't say that what happened in that case falls at the judge's feet, but I wish he didn't seem so eager to take credit for it. My response, of course, is to say nothing about it, but Lynne Stewart would have called him on it. That's why she is a lawyer I admire and respect, and why our glamour profession is diminished by her conviction.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I got 1,500 words, links and illustrations, all on the spike, but breaking news isn't what Outside Counsel is about on this story, so for now, a movie review.

"Festival Express" is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind when we signed up for Netflix-- and about as far from what everyone else in my household was thinking of as you can imagine. First and foremost, whoever did the editing on this deserves huge credit-- I have never seen a better put together rock'n'roll documentary, and I have to believe that the raw film was a catastrophe. The say if you can remember the 60's you weren't there-- but this makes a lot of things clear, and it does it in a spontaneous way that adds verisimilitude to what has become hagiographic received wisdom.

For example, Janis Joplin. You know, we've all seen a lot of footage about Janis, but this is some of the best. Really, she was that good. So was The Band-- they got tiresome, as avatars of some sort of authentic rock'n'roll quality, but they were pretty terrific, even if they were about as ugly as it is possible to be and still be allowed outside. Robbie Robertson can't sing a lick, either.

Sha Na Na? WTF?

The Grateful Dead is just something I will never understand. The Band is uglier, but required fewer drummers. The movie makes it clear that they were world-class partiers, and maybe that accounts for it-- otherwise I am still at a loss.

And hey! Buddy Guy! All you have to do when you're a black guy is be five times the musician, and hang in there for thirty extra years. Sounded as great in 1970 as he does today, and as he will 30 years from now.

What else can we learn from this fine movie? Even Canadian hippies were skanky. The women were chunky, and the guys all looked like they avoided both the gym and the shower. When they got going, the great bands of the 60's were better than I usually give them credit for. There is terrific stage footage here, and the jams on the train make you wish for more. (I have a feeling that Buddy Guy's band out partied the white folk, and showed up at show time ready for more, but there is less of them than I'd wish for.) Damn shame that the promoters weren't able to get this out there at the time-- I'm sure they got creamed on the money end, and this could have really made a difference. Wow, they were all so young.

Worth seeing.

Friday, February 11, 2005

"First off, following your heart is a really bad idea. This is why we have civilization, so people don't do that.

"Hearts are like pirate caves. They are reputedly full of hidden treasures but usually when you open one up a whole lot of bats, spiders, and angry bears come rushing out, and there's no gold."

"Good parents talk themselves blue in the face trying to convince their kids not to follow their hearts. Followed hearts generally do not lead children into good grades, good company, decent colleges, and stable marriages." Lance Mannion. (Via About Last Night.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

What this city needs is a place convenient to my office where I can get a decent breakfast pastry. I used to think what I wanted was a prune danish, but I have lowered my expectations: prune danish is obviously unattainable. I cannot fathom why this is such a problem. The Washington Street Market looked like it might be the answer, but although it has decent coffee, it also features the worst scones I have ever had. Spot has good coffee, and good scones, but is out of the way. Besides, I'm not really all that into scones-- they are more like wallboard than breakfast should be. Spot also has a cherry-cheese bearclaw which is okay sometimes-- a little too heavy, and a little too sticky most of the time. Starbucks is useless. Holly Farms has a cherry danish that is sort of like something Pillsbury would make. It's not bad, and it is just the right size, but the coffee at Holly Farms is so bad that it is almost not worth it. The place downstairs is just useless. They may have muffins, but I don't want a muffin. Or, to be more precise, when I want a muffin what I want is a nice toasted corn muffin, with a little grape jelly on the side. They don't have that. They also don't have fresh blueberry muffins, hot from the oven. So I don't want a muffin.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Pazz & Jop is out. There was a time- I guess it was when I was closer to 27 than I was to 50-- when I'd have most of the top 20 or so, and be familiar with pretty much all of it. Now-- well, I think "SMiLE" is pretty terrific, I feel like I discovered Nellie McKay, and, uh, I know who some of the rest are, because EGA has played some for me.

Part of this is that my tastes have shifted somewhat-- I'm more of a jazz listener nowadays. Part of it is that the proliferation of this sort of music has reached the point where you have to be either a critic (or a college station dj) to keep up with it.

Related: Pitchfork picks the top 100 from 2000-2004.

Sometimes I like hedonistic fruit bombs, and sometimes I prefer terroir. Mostly I just like wine, I guess. (Via The Morning News).

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Google Maps. Looks useful. (Via Kottke.)

Sixteen Rules to Live By. I am not in the habit of lifting other people's stuff wholesale like this, but these impressed me as worth it.

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone. I hear people say, “But I’m concerned about security.” My response to that is simple: “Security is for cadavers.”

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it’s attempted. Just because what you’re doing does not seem to be working, doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just means that it might not work the way you’re doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn’t have an opportunity.

3. When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think. There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of “undefined consequences.” My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, “Well, Robert, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.”

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, “As you think, so shall you be.”

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don’t look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what the Union Civil War general, Tecumseh Sherman said: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you’re doing as anyone else, provided that what you’re doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn’t fair. You make your own breaks. You’ll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems. You’ll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you’ll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: “You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others.” There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."

15. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16. There’s always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you’re really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: “We’re not here for a long time; we’re here for a good time.”
(via Al Nye the Lawyer Guy,)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Although I love "The Maltese Falcon" I have only ever seen the Bogart version. I really should try to locate "Satan Met a Lady". (Via The Morning News.)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Props to my law partner, winner of a juror's prize in this year's CEPA member's show-- the second time in three years she has won an award, making her sort of the Bill Belichick of the Buffalo photography world. Kate is hanging up the cleats at Berlin Blog, to pursue, as they say, other interests.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I've written here before about the thrill of the hunt: about scouring used bookstores or out of the way record stores for the item that would complete my collection. The thrill is all in the hunt, more often than not. Really what the hunt is about is an excuse to drop in to a store where you haven't been, or even to detour to a city that is strange to you, just to search for that elusive object. The internet takes some of the fun out, no doubt about it. Here's a good essay on the subject, by David L. Ulin. I'll be on the lookout for "Canary in a Cat House".

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I've talked a lot here about the man who I like to say, "taught me about this business", Remo Acito, but the fact is that I spent more time with, and learned just as much from his partner, Elinore Klein. Ms. Klein was fond of saying that the only thrill in law greater than running a devistating cross-examination was to stand before an appellate court, knowing that the panel didn't see it your way, and watch as your argument turned them. I've been lucky enough to experience both (and, having watched her, I must say that both were things that she could do the way some people can hail a cab)-- but I'd have to add a third to the list.

It is a treat to teach a class, and see that what you have told the students has been absorbed, and adopted to the individual style of the students. My "Depositions and Discovery" class this year has been that sort of experience this year. I love doing this, even though it makes my schedule insane, and leaves me exhausted. When I hear a student start to say "prior" and say "before" instead, or when I hear a run of questioning that just rings like a bell I am so thrilled it is probably almost comic. My little law professor fantasy is a treat that my partner and my friends and my family allow me to indulge in, and I am very luck to have the opportunity. I couldn't do it without them, and I really appreciate the help I get from them all. I think about all the great teachers I had when I was a young lawyer learning the ropes of this glamor profession, and as I drove home from class last night I thought that this year's class is one I'll dedicate to Ms.Klein, for all she taught me.
POSTCRIPT: I just learned that Remo Acito died this past November. He had not been well, as I understand it.

I'm not familiar with the Monty Python sketch that mocks Australian wine as "Sydney Syrup, Chateau Chunder and Côtes de Rod Laver", but even though I drink a fair amount of Kangaroo Red myself, I think that's pretty funny. Côtes de Rod Laver . When I want a quality bottle, my default will almost always be French or Italian, but I think this article is correct: it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a bad bottle of wine if you take a little time to think about what you are buying.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Reading the NYTimes book review today, and watching the news yesterday I had the same thought strike me: who are these people? Last night I watched the clip of Michael Jackson walking into court, waiving to his fans, and I thought, "He still has fans? Who are these people?" Today's book review is of something by Newt Gingrich, and I thought, "Someone would buy a book by Newt Gringrich? Who are these people?" I doubt that there is much crossover between the two groups-- the unemployed who stand outside the Santa Barbara courthouse and the right wing kooks who believe that Newt Gingrich is an intellectual, but maybe there is. Who are these people?

A decided to make Arancine over the weekend-- it's been years since I've had them, probably since we lived in Brooklyn. They came out quite well. I think I'd like to try them with Prosciutto, which is how they made them back in the 'hood. It got me thinking about the delis there-- they all had trays of both fresh and smoked mozzarella, and the sausage was astonishing. There were really two kinds of deli, with a lot of crossover: the pork stores, and the dairy shops (latticeria?). Of course there were greengrocers, too, all of these places little holes in the wall where I was looked upon as yuppie scum, but where A could shop and be welcomed.

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