Thursday, September 30, 2010

Digging Out

I'm a little snowed under, so I'm spending the next day or so digging my way out.



Cover me, I'm going in...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Sooo, I have a birthday coming up, and I'm trying to decide what to ask for as a gift.  Maybe a GSG5?  Maybe a .22LR AR15 upper?


Hmm... what to ask for?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good On Ya, Drew!

I saw this article this morning, and I had to read it because of my perpetual struggle between personal growth and personal shrinking.

Drew Carey Weight Loss

Umm... Good for you!  He lost 80 pounds, the hard way. 

Personally, I know that I will struggle with my weight for the rest of my life.  It's just something that I have to deal with.  That's not a depressing thing, it's just a test for my self discipline.  I've regained most of the weight I previously lost (lost 40, regained 30), but I'm now back on my way down.  I've now given back 5 of those pounds.

It's hard work, since I enjoy gaining more than losing the weight.  Even so, I'm always proud of those who make the trip.

I'm still on that road, heading back in the right direction.  Let's hope I don't have a round trip ticket.  Even if fall back a little, though, every attempt makes me a better person because it develops a better self discipline.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Violence in Churches

This evening, I will be presenting a seminar at a local church on the topic of church order and safety.  During my research for this seminar, I found a resource from a gentleman, Carl Chinn, who has been tracking violent incidents on church property since 1999.

Of major interest to me was the following, tracking incidents from 1999 to the present:

Attacks resulting in the death of others:  168  Not all of those attacks involved someone rushing in to kill people, and some involved seemingly random events that just happened to take place on church property. 

Number of those attacks stopped short by the authorities:  5 (less than 3%)

Number of those attacks stopped short by others:  7 (a little over 4%)

Number of those attacks that did not stop until the attacker was finished: 156 (almost 93%!)

In 93 percent of those cases, the attacker decided when to start the attack, who to attack, and then, when to finish.  Many churches refuse to talk about security, for whatever reason.  That doesn't make the risk go away.  Churches who depend entirely on good will and a good name to protect them from violence are being foolish.

Violence does not make an appointment, nor does it respect.  When the attack comes, those at risk are already behind the curve.  All the arming, training, and preparing we do is simply to allow us to catch up a bit faster than the attacker can react.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Staff Meeting

I thought I'd let you look over my shoulder at my notes for a recent staff meeting, not that you'd be interested, but I think these may be helpful.

1.  I'm the attorney here.  Do you know what that means?

That only means that I went to law school and passed the bar.  It doesn't mean I'm smarter, it doesn't mean I know best, it simply means I'm the one with the student loans.  Therefore, if you disagree with my conclusion, or if you have information that may help me come to a different decision, I expect you to share it.  I will value that more than I will value you simply agreeing with me.

After a staff meeting some years ago, two of my directors came to me separately and each told me they disagreed with a decision I had made.  They shared some information which would have changed my mind.  I was not pleased.  I had to publicly change my decision (that affected many people, some who did not even know me).  Not a good feeling.  Don't do that to me.

2.  Be where you are supposed to be.

My number one pet peeve, by a far margin, is tardiness.  Show me you value this job and my time by showing up when you are supposed to.  After you tell me, for the third time in a row, that traffic delayed you, I expect you to be intelligent enough to leave your house earlier.  If you have a legitimate scheduling issue, I may work with you, but lack of proper planning gets no sympathy.

I had one receptionist that was often a few minutes late.  I remember driving to court one day, calling the office repeatedly to make sure she had come in.  Then, it hit me.  I was more worried about her showing up than I was about my case.  That's a waste of my time.  We fired her.  Don't be that person.

3.  Don't be afraid of the push.

If I like you, I will push you.  If I'm getting B-grade work from you, but I think you can do A-plus work, I will push you.  If I catch you slacking, I will push you.  It doesn't mean I have it out for you, it just means I want to see you grow.  If I ever stop pushing you to do better, start looking over your shoulder.  Start looking for another job, too.  It means I've given up on you.  I may be biding my time, but you will be replaced.  That's not a threat, because I like my team.  Just keep that in mind.  Don't be afraid of pressure.

4.  Don't lie.

This is a biggie.  I'm quick to give the benefit of the doubt.  I've needed grace often enough to know I need to dish it out as well.  And, I do.  In spades.  But, if you lie to me, regaining my trust will be near impossible to do.  Not impossible, but nearly so.  Even if you do regain my trust, it will be as tenuous as a strand of hair.  Take responsibility for your actions.  I don't like blame hunting.  For most of our problems, we don't have time.  I'm just trying to fix it and prevent it from happening again.  That process is a lot quicker if I know where to start.

And for heaven's sake, don't fudge your time sheet!  That's stealing.  I will find out, and when I do, it very well may be the last time sheet you sign here.

Don't make me think I made a mistake by trusting you.  I can be very hard on myself when I make a mistake, and I don't like to repeat the process.  That's not good for you if the mistake I made was trusting you.

5.  Don't poison the well.

We all drink from the same well here.  We all spend the majority of our weekdays here.  I don't expect everyone here to become drinking buddies, but I do expect everyone to make a huge effort to get along.  We all have quirks and issues (I have more quirks than any normal person should), so flare-ups are going to happen, but that should not be the norm.  I don't tolerate a lot of drama.  Clients can bring it in (it's how we make money), but they take it out with them.  If we start manufacturing our own drama, I will shut it down.  To that end, I can't stand gossip.  Don't bring it.  Handle your issues with your co-worker and leave everyone else out.  If that doesn't work, bring me in, but I'd better not be the last one in the office to find out.

When I was working as a consultant for this firm, I quickly identified three employees that were poisoning the work here.  They are no longer here.  It's that important to me.

6.  Pay follows work.

There's plenty of work to do here.  Don't be afraid to do some.  That means that, if you see work that needs to be done, don't let it sit just because it is not in your job description, or because you think you ought to get paid more to do it.  This is a small business.  Everyone wears multiple hats, and I will never ask you to do something I have never done or am unwilling to do.  In prior jobs, I have mowed lawns, I have cleaned toilets, I have worked with garbage, etc...  As the managing partner of this firm, I have answered phones, set appointments, and done many other things I ask you to do.  If I'm not too good to do it, neither are you.

There are some times when a promotion comes before you do the work. But, don't be afraid to take on greater responsibility if you have the ability to do so.  I see pay increase as a reward for good work, not as a way to improve work habits.  Usually, pay follows work, not the other way around.  Who knows?  You may end up being so good at some other work you pick up here, that I am forced to promote you to the new position and hire someone else to do your old job.  That's how I became co-owner and managing partner of this firm, even after the founder told me it would never happen.

Remember, if I ask you to do something new, it's a task.  If you do it before I tell you, it's initiative.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Heartbreaking

The short, thin man rises to greet me. He extends his hand and smiles weakly, as if that very act is taking what little energy he has left.



He has been married for over 20 years, but his wife recently left him for another. He is alone now, recently unemployed and trying to raise four kids. The youngest is barely out of her teens, and the oldest is not much older. One is a special needs child. Other than those, he has no family left.

He has now reached the proverbial end of the rope. He is here for information on divorce. And perhaps, he is seeking confirmation for the plan he has laid out.

With an steady voice, he explains his plan. He wants to allow the house to go into foreclosure, and then, give up his children to the state. Just as his wife has walked out on the family, he plans to follow behind her.

His voice is emotionless, not because he has no heart, but because all his emotions are spent. There is no anger left to summon, no tears left to cry, no resolve left. Despair and surrender have moved in, and the only fight left is over which one will take him first.

Now, I am not going to judge him for any of this. I don’t have enough information to pick a side, so I’m not going to judge his wife either.

But man, this sucks.  I try not to get lost thinking about four kids.  Four kids who have no idea their dad is in my office planning to leave them in the hands of a stranger.

I’m still mentally processing this, long after he has left…

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quote for the Week

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.

Plato

Saturday, September 18, 2010

You Say That Like it's a Bad Thing

A friend was looking at Bing Maps and said he couldn't believe he saw my car parked at the gun range when he zoomed in the pic.

I double checked, and sure enough!  There I was!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Arrived

Well, it’s not like I have a lot of free time, but I hadn’t heard from Tony Cassise, blogger at My Road to Freedom, for a while, so I did some digging. I’m not sure what triggered the curiosity, since I don’t chase down every blogger that disappears for a while. He was a frequent commenter, using the name “Did it MY way.” He had not posted on his blog since July 25th. His last post promised a range report, and since I was looking for a 1911-style pistol, I kept checking back. Nothing.

Out of curiosity, while looking for blog fodder, I Googled his name and found this.  I wasn't sure if it was him, until I looked at the photos on the site and found the same photo he used on his blog profile

Anthony Lewis "Tony" Cassise passed away on July 29, 2010.

I never met him, but judging from the comments on the memorial sites and his comments on mine and other blogs, he had a lot to offer and I learned a lot from him. 

Rest in peace.  Your road to freedom has taken you home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Outcome

Contrast the prior story with this one:

Added neighbor Betsy Sirkorski, "As a person who's been an opponent of gun ownership, I'm glad he had one now."


That's how it's supposed to work!

I'm still seething.

Don't Worry, the Police Will Protect You

This story is absolutely, enragingly, sad.

To say that I am angry is blisteringly insufficient.

The message from the government is simple:  Stay calm, folks.  Stretch out a begging hand to those who wish to lord over you.  Help will be here soon, we hope.

Not me.  I will not wait around for the government to finally believe or deem my plight important enough to intervene.  Neither should you.  Arm yourself.  Fight to ensure these scum-sucking, worthless, hell-bound maggots get what they deserve.

Unbefriekinglievable.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Open Carry

I have been carrying my gun openly for some time.  Around here, I get very little notice.  It could be because I resemble a police officer or detective, or it could be because people don't care or don't find it noteworthy.

I did have one interesting conversation recently.  An employee at the local big box store was ringing up my purchase at the register when he remarked to a coworker standing nearby, "Guns make me nervous!"  Although he wasn't actually talking to me, since he was supposed to be attending me, and was only about three feet away, I joined the conversation.

"Why does my gun make you nervous?  I haven't done anything to you."

"They just do.  Why do you feel like you have to carry a gun?"

"I carry a gun to protect myself if necessary.  I don't carry it to intimidate, and I'm not a violent person.  I'm may be one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.  However, not everyone I deal with is that understanding."

By now, customers that were nearby began to show an interest in our conversation.

"Well," the employee said, "you would have a different view if anyone ever pointed one of those things in your face."

I paused for a moment.  "I'm sorry you had to go through that, but the problem was not the gun, the problem was the individual who pointed it at you."

"I guess you're right."

"Besides, would your story have been any different if you had been armed and able to defend yourself?"

[a brief pause and look of understanding]  "Never really thought of it that way."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quote for the Week

The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

Plato

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years

I'm not even sure I'm awake. I'm trying to shake the fog out of my head, it's not even 9am yet. The owner of the firm, Dave, walks into my office and quietly says, “I'm sorry to bother you so early, but you may want to say a short prayer. There's been some kind of major accident in New York.”  I grunt a response and look back down at my file.

Something is nagging at me, though.

I turn to my computer and pull up some news websites. Well, I try. I'm not sure what's going on, but it must be big. All the news sites are down. Dave comes back in, “It's a plane. They say some kind of plane has crashed into a building.”  The hairs on my arm stand on end.

I turn on my radio and try to find a news station. Another employee walks in.  Her face is pale.  “Another plane has crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.”

My throat is suddenly dry. “I know.  Dave told me.”

“No, its another plane. Into the other building.”  She's fighting her emotions.  And losing.

I try to swallow.  Stupid websites! Why can't I pull anything up? I find a radio station and my life changes. 

Dave and I look at each other. I don't remember who, but one of us decides to cancel all appointments for the day. The receptionists are sent to the task.  There is a dark silence in the air.

I have to get home.

It's only a few minutes away, but no matter how hard I push the accelerator, the car does not want to move. There are three stop lights, and today, they stay red forever.

I finally make it to the apartment, taking up two spaces as I park.  There's no one outside.  I run up the stairs, two and three at a time. I pound on the door while trying to fit the key in the lock. The key is three sizes too big. Did someone change the lock?

My wife, holding my 5 month old daughter, comes running to the door. My two year old is playing on the floor.

No greeting, no fanfare. “Have you talked to your sisters?” I can barely get the question out.

“No, why?”

“Call them. There's been some kind of accident in New York.”

“What is it?” She's impatient, and my mouth can't speak as fast as my mind is moving.

“Baby, you have to turn on the television. I think it's bad. I've got to get back to the office.”

I grab the small TV from the spare room, yank the cord from the wall, and rummage through a drawer to find the old rabbit ear antenna. I jump down the stairs. I barely make the last step, almost falling. I throw the TV in the car and race back to work.

I get to the office and bring the TV into the conference room. Everyone follows me in.  I plug it in and try to adjust the rabbit ears. Stupid TV. Why won't it work? Do we have cable in here?

Finally, I bring up a snowy, grainy news broadcast. I move the antenna around, trying to get a better picture. All of us are gathered around that small television, with different degrees of disbelief registered in our faces.

Then, we see the buildings begin to collapse. Behind me, someone screams out in horror and begins sobbing loudly. It's contagious. As the buildings collapse, most of us have tears in our eyes. All I can think about is the thousands of people who are in those buildings. I can't see them, yet the knot in my stomach is paralyzing. I am watching people die.

After an eternity, I walk back to my office. My feet weigh a hundred pounds each and I feel like I'm walking through mud. I sit in my chair and stare. I don't know what I'm looking at, but it doesn't matter. My eyes can't focus anyway.  I keep replaying the sight of those buildings collapsing.

So much changed that day. So much will never be the same.

I was not there.  I lost no relatives or friends that day.  But, I lost something just the same.

We have grieved.  There was time for that.  We have nursed our anger.  There was time for that as well.  But, eventually, it's time to put the tissues down, take the bandages off, and take our post, ever vigilant, at the guard tower.  Freedom worth having is freedom worth protecting.  At all costs.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

Never forget.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yes, Extremely Distasteful, But...

The decision by Rev. Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center to burn the Quran is in poor taste, does nothing to advance Christianity, and in fact, goes very far toward alienating those the church purports to reach.

That is my personal opinion on that subject.

And yet, all that aside, I also believe this same activity is protected speech and should be treated as such.

Muslim Advocates executive director Farhana Khera said after the meeting that Holder had described the Koran-burning plan as “idiotic and dangerous,” but regretted the ceremony itself was not a violation of federal law. (Article by Mike Bernos)

Now, granted, this is hearsay, with a newspaper reporter quoting Farhana Khera, who is quoting Eric Holder, but, if true, this statement troubles me.

You see, I for one, do not regret that the ceremony is not a violation of federal law.  The last thing I need is some stuffed shirt deep in the bowels of the political wasteland telling me what should be an allowed ceremony.  That, Mr. (or Mrs.) Government, is none of your business.

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.  Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 415 (1989).

Texas v. Johnson was the very controversial "flag burning case," that limited the government's ability to "protect" our fragile feelings from someone else's behavior.  Hmmm.  It looks like we need to grow up, suck our lower lip back in, and understand that there are people out there that will hurt our feelings.  That does not make it a federal crime, it only proves that some people are just mean.

The State's position, therefore, amounts to a claim that an audience that takes serious offense at particular expression is necessarily likely to disturb the peace, and that the expression may be prohibited on this basis. Our precedents do not countenance such a presumption. On the contrary, they recognize that a principal “function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.” It would be odd indeed to conclude both that "if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection […] and that the Government may ban the expression of certain disagreeable ideas on the unsupported presumption that their very disagreeableness will provoke violence. Id., 408-409 (citations and footnotes omitted; formatting changed for clarity; emphasis added).

Let's hope our elected leaders get this right and stay out of it.  This issue should be handled in the public square as a difference of opinion, not in the stale halls of Washington as a potential crime. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

Got an "encouraging" message from my staff telling me to enjoy the rest of my vacation and the Labor Day holiday.  They sent me a picture of my inbox:



Thanks team, I think.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quote for the Week

Most people aren't appreciated enough, and the bravest things we do in our lives are usually known only to ourselves. No one throws ticker tape on the man who chose to be faithful to his wife, on the lawyer who didn't take the drug money.


Peggy Noonan

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Puppy Arrives!

Well, Mia has arrived.




She's a small Pekingese with an oversized attitude. It took me all day but I think I have been able to make peace with her.  Now, I’m no expert on dog speak, but I think this is how our conversation went.

Me: “Hello, Mia! Welcome to your new home!”

Mia: ROARRRRR (What she thinks she sounds like.) grrrrr, yip, yip (What I heard.)

Me: Why are you mad at me? I've barely met you. What did I do?

Mia: Like you don’t know!

Me: What are you talking about? What could I have possibly done?

Mia: You never know what you do! Are you really that clueless?

Me: Listen, can you at least give me a clue?

Mia: If you don’t care enough to notice, I’m not going to tell you!

Me: Whaaaaaat?! OKAY, I’M SORRY!! FOR WHATEVER!!!

Mia: [Wagging tail.] See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Me: GRRRRRR

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Found Dog

Well, I just found out that my sister-in-law and her husband are giving us their dog.  We are about to have a Pekingese dog underfoot.  Funny, I wasn't looking for one but we now seem to have found one.

Unfortunately for me, this dog has been here before, so we have some history.  She hates me.  Absolutely, bark-to-high hades, go-absolutely-ballistic hates me.  This, from the moment she first saw me.  I'm not sure what I did or what my ancestors did, but apparently, there's heck to pay.

Looks like I'm going to have to stock up on doggie biscuits to try to win this one over.

Sigh...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Phone

Setting: Juvenile Court.  I don’t even remember what my case was about.

Bailiff: ALL RISE!!

We all stand up, I button my jacket, and the Judge walks in.

Weighing almost 400 pounds, he looms over the courtroom from his high perch, staring like an owl on a tall tree, surveying his territory.  He is not the large, jolly type.  I have never seen him smile.  This judge and courtroom hold a particular place in my memory.  Years ago, this was the very first courtroom I appeared in.  He was the first judge I ever addresed as an attorney.  These are facts which I am sure he neither remembers nor cares about.

We are in his world now.

On today's menu for him are a mother and her teenaged son.  The prosecutor reads out the charges.  They don't appear to be anything terribly serious, so I tune out and review my case folder one more time.

A cell phone rings out.

The courtroom goes deathly quiet, and my heart skips a beat.  I grab my phone and look at it.  It takes a moment or two to register in my mind that my phone is off.  The sound is coming from the direction of the Judge's bench.

I glance up.  The judge is leaning forward, staring holes into the teenager.  "Do you need to answer that, young man?"

"No, sir," the teenager says in a small voice.

"Well, it must be important, since you kept the phone on.  It might be an emergency.  Are you sure you don't want to answer it?"

"No, sir.  I'm sorry."

"Please, go ahead and answer it.  You've already interrupted my court.  We'll wait."

"No, thank you, sir."

It did not end well.