Monday, August 30, 2010

It Works!

I love success!  After we all pitched a fit, the EPA has denied the worthless petition trying to ban lead ammunition.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quote for the Week

Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.

George Washington

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tech Support

Her face is flushed red, and she looks as if she's about to punch something.  The office manager rushes into my office.  "My computer is down!  It won't work!"

"What's wrong with it?"

"I don't know, come look at it!"

Ugh... "Ok, I'll be right there."  I walk into her office, and stare at the computer.  It's on.  "What's wrong with the computer, it looks like it's working."

"It's the internet."

The internet?...I thought she said the computer wasn... "Ok." I sit at her computer, open a browser, and connect to the internet.  "The internet seems to be working fine."

"I know, but it's the email.  I can't use it."

Email!?!  "Let me open up your email."  I do and it immediately receives email.  I just look at her.

"It's this one right here," she points at a message.

I double click the message and it opens right up.  Again, I just look at her.

She stares back.  "Well, I can't get it to print.  I don't know what's wrong with my computer."

I pause for a moment.  Then, I reach around to the back of the printer and turn it on.  It powers up.

I wonder how many times she tried to print?  As I walk back to my office, I hear the printer spitting out God-only-knows how many copies of the email.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Even More Edjukashun

This morning, I saw this sign at the school where my girls are attending summer camp.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Edjukashun

I just received a letter from an attorney representing the opposing party in one of my cases.  The letter is mercifully short.  It has 8 sentences, all in one paragraph.

The letter has at least 7 spelling or grammatical errors.

Not a good way to make an impression.

Sigh...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote for the Week

Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.

Frederick B. Wilcox

Friday, August 20, 2010

Health Care Law (Behind the Scenes)

Soooo, what happens when this albatross of a health care disaster law, starts coming home to roost? Well, for starters, we have already seen stories of doctor and nurse shortages, reports of employers and employees having to pay more premiums or change plans, etc..

We were promised on a stack of food stamps and entitlements that these things would never happen.  They were just schemes and lies from the vast right wing conspiracy to keep the subjects from pointing out the emperor's clothes.

Now, it seems that every day yet another justification hits the dust.  That whole idea of saving money, that very few people actually believed?  Now it looks like they're being advised to drop that.

Verum Serum has the scoop and a link to the Power Point presentation.

Of course, this is all the fault of Bush and the Tea Party, somehow, I'm sure.  I expect that if this discovery gets any play at all (don't hold your breath), the elites will distance themselves from it claiming either no knowledge of it, or some other contrived nonsense.

They're good at that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cracks

I walk in the conference room, and there you sit, a picture of elegance.

Your hair is impeccably styled.  You carry yourself with an air of self confidence.  Your clothing confirms what the client intake sheet shows.  You are a professional.  As you answer my questions, you do so with incredible poise, as if telling someone else's story.  You tell me of your success.  You tell me how you are singlehandedly supporting you, your husband, and your children.  You tell me of how you have wrestled down debt, survived your husband's incarceration, his unemployment, and his refusal to find a job.  You tell me this with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

You have developed an impressive image, an almost impenetrable armor.

But I can see cracks.

Although you seem very composed, your eyes betray the fact that you have been crying.

Abuse.  Alcoholism.  Threats.

Someone who has so strongly survived the storms of life now needs a hand to guide her.  And I sense the shame.

Shame because of what has happened.

Shame that you can no longer fight this alone.

Shame that someone of your status and accomplishment is unable to hold out any longer.

Slowly, the armor begins to crumble.  And you weep.

Come, let's talk.  We have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

I've tried to stay away from this issue somewhat, because others who write much better than I do have said it better than I ever will.  However, I can think of no other reason for this mosque than to be confrontational.  Of all places to build, they choose a spot where our history of freedom was attacked with the intolerance and hatred of Islam.  I'm not saying all Muslims behave that way, but we have to look at the practices of those who were pleased as our innocent countrymen died.

To think that we have struggled for years to come up with an appropriate memorial to build on this site, and now have rushed through with plans for his mosque is puzzling.  To argue that one design or another does not do justice to the memory, and yet erect a mosque in the shadows of our pain is inexplicable.

This goes beyond freedom of religion.  This goes to their demonstrated ideals, coming from the very roots of their beliefs.  Those beliefs are highly inconsistent with peace.

From DC:

But to be clear, yes, I do have a problem with Islam. Actually, I have several, really more than that. I have a problem that virtually all the terrorists in the world claim to be Muslims. I have a problem with child brides, which Mohammed had and some of his modern-day followers (i.e., Zarqawi) have. I have a problem that no major Muslim cleric has ever denounced armed jihad. I have a problem with the way Muslims treat women. I have a problem with the way that Muslims treat people who disagree with them. Although I believe homosexuality is wrong, I have a problem with the way that Muslims treat homosexuals. I have a problem with how Muslims tolerate and encourage anti-Semitism, and also I have a problem with any religion that says "convert or die." I have a problem that Islam makes democracy difficult. I have a problem with Sharia law.


Well said!

America's Drug of Choice

My ten year old just walked into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes, "I need some coffee!!"

What?!?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cricket

You've kept me up half the night.  I could not find you.  I know you're in there somewhere, because I can hear your infernal music.

I have to go to work now, but you have turned this into an obsession.

When I return, I hope you are still there.

I will find you and I will kill you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mosquito at a Nudist Colony

I'm not even sure where to start.  I wanted to quote a section of this article for emphasis, but the hits keep coming.

The Stunning Decline of Barack Obama.

This from a correspondent for a British newspaper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quote for the Week

Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off... the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases.

Rick Maksian

Friday, August 13, 2010

Murphy Carpools with Me Today

Well, I'm in our second office today, about 45 minutes away from home.  My Jeep was stalling on the way here until I got on the interstate.

It's Friday, so the ride home is typically brutal anyway, but now, if the Jeep stalls in rush hour, it will be more interesting this evening.  I hope I won't be frustrating everyone else's ride home.  Sorry folks... I would say move on, but I guess you can't do that if I'm in the way.

Ugh...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Guns at Work

I reviewed the intake in front of me and rubbed my temples, trying to quiet the little men swinging pickaxes inside my head. I stood up too quickly and the little men switched to sledgehammers instead.  I need some aspirin.  I walked down the hall into the conference room. Inside was a lady in her mid 40’s. Her hands were firmly clasped in front of her and she gave me a weak smile as I walked in.

Years of marriage, and now, it’s come to this. She spoke, in measured terms, of abuse and abandonment. But, she was guarded.  There was some untold history there.  Suddenly, she looks out the window in alarm and resignation and softly says, “He’s here.” Her shoulders drop as she looks down at her hands.

“My husband is out there. I don’t know how he found me.  I’m struggling as it is, now he’ll completely cut me off.”

"Excuse me for a moment."  I step out of the conference room.  From inside the managers office, I call the reception staff in.  Everybody gets a quick briefing.  I ask them, "Any questions for me?" Only one: "Do you have your gun?"

Always.

You see, I don’t expect an office shooting. I don’t hold my breath because of what a visitor may do.  And yet, the vast majority of my practice is bankruptcy, domestic, and criminal/traffic law.  None of this is “happy law.”  Few people are happy to see me.  And so, I will not leave my safety to the whims and emotions of those who walk through the door.

I return to the conference room.  I need to wrap this interview up.  Her mind is not here anymore and we both know it.  I also need to be up front.  Ready.

"He just drove away," she says.  She gets advice on self-protection, my fees and initial strategy, and she goes on her way.

I alway have my gun while in the office.  My staff has grown accustomed to it, and while initially curious about the need for it, there have been several instances in which they were glad I had it. I have never had to even display the gun.

But like a good neighbor, it’s good to know its there.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ending Workplace Violence?

I read an article this morning on MSNBC that had me thinking about the shooting at the beer distributor in Connecticut. The article used that story as a backdrop to discuss violence in the workplace.

Now, according to the article, there are an average of 63 murders at work per year. Compared to the number of employees in this country, this is a small number. However, there are at least 63 families for which that number represents the entire world. Their world.

\The author notes that these attacks, “rarely come with a warning, making them hard to stop.” Then, in the very next paragraph, they advise to take prudent steps when there is some indication that there will be violence. Good advice, but it does little to solve the problem presented—attacks without warning.

What about a different approach? These acts of violence end when one of three things happens:

1. The shooter stops shooting, yet remains alive—whether because they have tired of the violence, or they have run out of ammunition

2. The shooter kills himself.

3. The shooter is stopped or killed by someone else.

The problem here is that the first two (which appear to be the most common scenarios) depend on the will of the one who started the violence in the first place. We hope and pray that the one who did not respect life a few seconds ago will now have a change of heart. This is not a good strategy.

Let’s talk about the third one. Imagine—if, in each of the cited scenarios, the victims had the right and the ability to stand up for themselves. I can’t guarantee that no innocent lives would be lost, but the shooter would no longer have the luxury of deciding when to end the violence. It would be ended for him.

How’s that for a defense strategy? What would Omar Thornton’s plans have been if he knew there was almost a guarantee that others in that plant would be armed? How would Amy Bishop Anderson have acted if she knew that the people in the conference room had weapons? Perhaps the case of Matthew Murray is instructive. Sure, Matthew Murray killed himself, yet he only did so after Jeanne Assam confronted him and made it impossible for him to continue.

Now, I understand that a few incidents do not make a statistical certainty, and yet, you have to wonder—what would be different if victims were always allowed the dignity to defend themselves?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nuts

First, a disclaimer. Most of my clients are the type everyone wants to have. You give them advice, they mostly follow, you clean up any minor left over messes, and then the case concludes. You’re paid, they’re satisfied, and the earth continues in orbit. Unfortunately, that does not make for exciting reading. Besides, I’m already at a handicap. It’s not like my writing is that easy to wade through. So, I have to write about the stuff that is at least marginally interesting and out of the ordinary.

Like this:

The office was hopping! There were clients lined up at the receptionist window, every receptionist was on the phone, and the telephones were blinking like a Christmas tree. I looked at my phone and decided to dive in.

Now, normally, the calls are “screened” for us by the receptionists. It’s not actual screening, because they don’t keep the clients away from us, but they figure out where to route the call. Sometimes, we’ve made a note in the client’s electronic file, and the receptionist can look it up and answer the question right there. Other times, they may ask for me, but their file is with another attorney. Even more important, they also keep away the small percentage of people who live somewhere else. Don’t know where they live, but it’s certainly not this planet.

I pick up one of the lines on hold, and take a deep breath. It’s like Russian roulette. You just don’t know what’s going to happen.

Me: Thank you for calling Law Office, how can I help you?

Caller: I filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy there that was just discharged and I think I overpaid the mortgage company.

Me: Ok. Let me pull up your file. What did you say your name was? [Answer] … Hmmm… I can’t seem to find it. How do you spell that? [Answer] … Hmm… When did you file? … [Answer] … Still nothing.

Caller: Oh, wait… I didn’t use your firm to file.

Me: ?! … Well, ma’am, you’re going to have to call your attorney.

Caller: But I don’t like my attorney! I figured since you were all attorneys, you could refund the money that I overpaid the mortgage company, and then you and my attorney can get together and get the money back from them.

Me: ??!!! [Pause]. Ma’am …I ... we’re ... we're not going to do that. Listen, I’ve got other lines on hold that I have to attend to, and there’s really nothing I can do for you. I’ve got to get going.

Caller: Can you refer me to another attorney who would be willing to do that for me?

Me: Ma’am, I don’t know of any. I’ve gotta run. Take care and good luck.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Less of Me

Losing weight is hard work.  Switching jobs moved my routine around, so I have not been as committed to working out as much as I should.  It seems like the dial on the scale is going the wrong way again.

Gotta get back on it, ASAP.  I figure a little public confession will help keep me motivated.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Advice

I've often said that I like to know the size of the truck that's going to hit me.  That way, I know whether I'll need to reach for an ice pack or a shovel.

When dealing with clients, I keep the same thing in mind.  Those seeking advice will get the best advice I can give them.  It may not be what they want to hear, but I'll tell them anyway.  I owe it to them.  For every interaction with a potential client, I try very hard to control the interview. I need to drill down past the emotions and obtain the information I need. I also need to judge body language and other clues to determine if the clients are being honest with me. Someone who is demonstrably dishonest will not be a client.

I opened the door and walked in to the conference room.  The room was brightly lit because of the large windows to my right.  In the middle of the room is a large conference table, with six chairs around it.  I took my seat at the head of the table and introduced myself to the couple already there.  The wife was seated directly to my left.  Her husband was in the chair next to her, but he had rolled it all the way to the end of the conference table.  There he sat, with his arms crossed, his head lowered, his face twisted into a scowl, and his eyes trying to burn holes into me.

Unfortunately for him, I'm pretty much immune to the evil eyes of a stranger.

From the beginning of this interview, it's pretty clear to me.  This couple is used to calling the shots.  They have a plan in mind and need me to go along with it.  The wife talks, the husband sighs and scowls.  He mumbles displeasure at my questions.  She tailors her answers to what she thinks I want to hear.  However, I'm not exactly new at this.  I see right throught it, and it annoys me.

In spite of their best efforts, I gather enough information to get an idea of what they intend to do.  It's not legal.  But that's no surprise.  Their behavior shows they have a lot to hide.  I lay out my advice, beginning with a simple warning.  If caught, they face years in prison.  The statute of limitations is measured in decades.  That's a long time to look over a shoulder.

The husband finally speaks up.  He releases his anger, sharply focused at me.  Apparently, their life has been one of finding ways to skirt the system.  They have not been successful, and every turn has left them worse than before.  He tells me he is angry at me, because I will not help them.

I end the interview, decline to help and show them the door.  The husband's attitude has gotten worse, and the wife's has not improved.  They walk out the door, the husband releasing one last insult as the door closes.

I chuckle and shake my head as I head out to lunch.

You are not worth putting my license in jeopardy.  I plan on sleeping in peace tonight.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quote for the Week

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.

Oscar Ameringer