Tuesday, August 31, 2010

John Cusack Doesn't Like Opposing Viewpoints

Awesome meltdown from John Cusack, via his Twitter, where he stated:
Don't celebrities realize it turns people off when they do things like this?  Lloyd Dobbler, why?

What Do You Do When You've Reached Your Goal?

This might sound strange, but it is what it is.

I used to have a career in management consulting.  Then I left that to go to law school (and my mom about killed me), and ended up in my current job, as a law clerk job during my last year in law school, then I proved myself and they hired me full time.  And I've been there ever since.  For all lawyers, the goal is partner.  Either that or lots of money, which usually happens concurrent with the partner thing.

So.  I'm there.  I just graduated from law school in 2004.  My firm promotes partners much faster than some of the other larger firms, and I've made it.  I think I'm the first from my graduating class to make partner, at least according to the many people I keep in touch with.

So, what now? 

When you meet your ultimate career goal, there is something kind of sad about it.  Happy, yes, but sad also.  Because, what do you do next?  I have no other goals (currently) to reach other than the usual do good at your job and get lots of client kinds of goals.  But there are no more titles to aspire to, at this point.  It's a strange feeling.  There's not much I can do within my firm anymore other than be a great attorney, and now it's all about getting some good work.  I suppose I could aspire to be like my boss, or to be some huge person in the IP world, write articles, or whathaveyou, but.....I just don't have that kind of personality.  I am not a networker or a mover and shaker.  I like writing briefs, and I'm good at writing briefs and articles.  I'm pretty decent at taking depositions.  I'm good at oral argument in front of Judges.  Am I a good trial attorney?  Maybe, I don't know.  I don't have enough practice.  No one gets to do trial stuff until years in, and even then, only rarely  because most cases settle. 

At any rate, it's unsettling.  I would actually love to teach patent law, trademark law, or copyright law eventually.  I tend to do very well in instructing younger folks.  (I love taking the new associates out on depositions. and advise them generally in firm stuff.  People at the firm send them to me, in fact.)  Maybe that's where I go, eventually.  I could try to apply for an adjunct thing, but my worry is that I get too busy with work to really be able to do it.  But then again, if it is a commitment, it's a commitment. 

It's just weird to accomplish your goal so early.           

Random Thoughts on August 30/31

1.  I got a huge summary judgment win recently.  Like, huge as in I thought there was no way we could pull off a denial of summary judgment, even though we had some good arguments.  (The other side filed it.)  In fact, I was Nancy Negative, and told everyone on the team there was no way we were going to get it denied.  But, it happened, thanks to my briefing and my co-counsel's oral argument.  Oh, hurray!  So all day long I've been singing "All I Do Is Win" by D.J. Khaled.  I'm not sure if this is worse than me getting fired up for my appellate court argument last year by playing the Star Wars theme song in my hotel room.  (What is it about that song that just makes me want to go out and kick butt?) 

2.  Speaking of which, I am so into all of these hip hop/dance songs out nowadays.  I don't remember my mom being into current music as much as I am now when she was my age.  (Because I was 12 when she was my age.)  I just love upbeat hip hop/dance type songs.  Since I only listen to talk radio (more about that in a minute), I just browse the Top 100 on iTunes to find songs I like, and then use their recommendation feature to find more.  My top songs at this point are In the Ayer, Empire State of Mind, and Paper Rump (since it is a remix of my college days).  Yeah, I'm a little behind the times.  But I go through phases with songs -- I like this stuff for awhile, then I want more alternative type stuff, then I want heartbreaking songs, then something else.  But right now, I'm into all the hip hop/dance stuff.  I also love Donnie Wahlberg's I Got It.  Eh, what can I say.  He sang it on the cruise and it's damn catchy.

3.  Yeah, so I listen to talk radio almost exclusively now when I am in my car.  I think that officially makes me old.  I remember being a kid and being horrified when my parents wanted to listen to talk radio.  I listen to all kinds of stuff, but usually either NPR, Glen Beck, Dennis Miller, Michael Savage, Michael Medved, sports talk, or whatever else happens to be on.  I just like to hear opinions.  I'm not easily swayed -- I believe what I believe -- but I like to listen to opinions and other points of view.  I know these guys are all conservatives (except Michael Savage claims he's an independent), but there aren't any liberals to listen to, and....well....to be honest, I can't really stand to listen to the hard core liberals anyway.  I have to deal with that enough through the mainstream media.  It's nice to hear a different viewpoint sometimes.  I know people who are liberal don't think the mainstream media (other than Fox) is liberal, but they really are if you aren't liberal.  As I've said, I'm liberal in some facets, but not liberal in others, and some of the things they say are just really offensive to me.  I don't agree with any of the above guys in every way, but at least they don't offend me for having my opinion. 

4.  Sharon Angell and Dan Ryan keep sending me solicitations for money.  Dudes, I'm not in your state, which means I can't vote for you.  I understand you want money for the GOP, but just leave me alone.  I've got the awesome choice in November between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias.  It's a great choice, because they are both douchebags, so it will be a total "voting for the lesser evil or choosing the Libertarian candidate" kind of election for me.
5. I hope Venus Williams wins the U.S. Open.  She's always been my favorite Williams sister, and I was so sad for her when Serena broke through and kicked her ass repeatedly.  I've just always liked her and her outfits.  Sending good thoughts her way.

6.  I need to get Vogue's September issue.  What is wrong with me?  I used to subscribe to Vogue, but I found that I just don't read magazines much, so I stopped my subscription.  But their September issue is the bomb, and I need it.  I looked for it when I was at Dominick's last week, but it wasn't around the register.  WTF is with that?  I guess I have to go on an excursion tomorrow to find it.

7.  I'm thrilled to see that 60s is back in for fall because I have so many beautiful dresses and outfits that are true 60s vintage.  So I can wear them (not like I didn't before, since I wear what I want now), and everyone will think I am just super trendy.  (I have all of these amazing shift dresses with matching long coats that I wear to work every now and then, and every time I do, I get a ton of compliments from coworkers and random people.  I need to pull those into the regular rotation for fall.)  The good thing about a massive clothes collection like I have is that I can just pull things out when repeat trends hit.  By the way, wasn't camel also a trend within the past few years?  It seems like it was.     

8.  My sister's boyfriend fixed my downstairs shower door.  Who knew all it took was a roller from Home Depot and five minutes of his time?  He is my hero, because now I don't need to bring in a handyman.

9.  But I do need to bring in a plumber because one of my toilets is broken.  It just needs a kit fix, but God knows I can't do it, nor do I want to do it.  (I mean, I probaby in all actuality could figure it out and do it, but I have no desire to do it.  And I can't deal with anything toiletwise without getting sick.  I have the weakest stomach ever.)  So, I may have him fix some other thing also, since it doesn't look like I will have the cash to redo my bathrooms until next year at the earliest, and then maybe only one at a time, although my hopeful plan was to just do the two upstairs bathrooms at once and fast.  I just need the thingy that controls the shower/tub flow to be replaced in both bathrooms, because it is frozen in place in both upstairs bathrooms.  So maybe I'll have him deal with that while he is here fixing that toilet.  This is the first time since I lived with my parents that I've had multiple bathrooms, so while it's super nice to have guest bathrooms and extra bathrooms if a toilet goes bad, at the same time, it's more shit to fix and redo.  But I will not complain about having three full bathrooms!  Well, maybe a little.

10. And how about flashing.  I never knew what this was until we got a horrible rainstorm, and my lack of flashing gave way and leaked into my ceiling.  So, I need it all caulked up or the flashing replaced and all that.  We are working this out with the condo association, because we all have this problem.  Condo associations suck.  I could just get it fixed on my own, but I volunteered last year to be Secretary of our association (even though I just moved in) because no one else did, so I talk to our President a lot, and she urged me to wait until we figure out a solution for the entire complex (12 units), since we all have this problem, even though it hasn't yet appeared for everyone.  (Of course, people who don't have the problem yet don't want to pay for it, but that's another story entirely.)  The builder built our places not quite up to par back in 1985, and didn't do the flashing correctly.  So, we are dealing with it now.  (Although, to be fair to them, it apparently lasted this long.)  And we've gotten bids for the whole complex, and now we are going to have to approve a $1,000 or so per unit to get it fixed.  If it goes on much longer I'm just going to pay to get mine fixed.  It doesn't really matter to me, but I don't want it to get worse, and I already have to get my ceiling fixed.  So....  fun times.  It's fantastic to not be able to afford over a million dollars for a single family home in Chicago! 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fun Things to do in Chicago

The Chicago Sun Times posted a "bucket list" for things to do in the city of Chicago.  I've given some thought to mine.  I'm excluding from this list the obvious choices, like the museums, aquarium, and planetarium.  Those are kind of duh things.  My personal favorite is the Museum of Science and Industry.  Since I generally stick around the north and near north side, this list is hugely biased in that respect. 

1.  Lincoln Park Zoo.  It's free, and it's a damn good zoo.  If you visit in the winter at starting just after Thanksgiving until around Christmas, they have "Zoo Lights" where they decorate the zoo with Christmas lights and you can wander around.  Not many animals out at that time of year (except inside at the lion house), but it's very pretty and romantic if you are into that kind of thing.  Or you can just bring a flask and holler at the animals.

2.  Go to a Chicago Bears game in December or January at Soldier Field.  You really don't get the true Chicago football experience until your beer ices over before you can drink it.

3.  Watch a Cubs game from the rooftop seats across the street from Wrigley Field.  After the game is over, go for a bar crawl along Clark Street.  Don't forget to go upstairs at Sluggers, where you can hit the batting cages and play skeeball.  3540 N. Clark.

4.  Play a board game and enjoy a drink at Guthrie's Tavern.  They have pretty much any board game you might want to play.  1300 W. Addison St.

5.  Order a "chocolate milkshake" at the Weiner Circle.  Make sure it is late night (after 1 a.m. or so), and you are appropriately drunk.  This will cost you $20, and is not recommended for children, but is certainly a sight to behold.  2622 N. Clark St.

6.   Stay out at the bars until 5 a.m.  (It was amazing to me when I moved here that there are bars open that late.)  You have multiple options for late night bars, but my favorite is Burton Place.  1447 N. Wells.

7.   Go kayaking on the Chicago river.  There are many different types of tours available, all both for newbies and experienced kayakers, both at night and during the day.  They teach you how to do it prior to the tour, so don't worry if you have no idea what you are doing.  The Fireworks Paddle is a favorite.  Kayak Chicago, 1501 N. Magnolia.

8.  See a concert in Millenium Park or Grant Park.  The city views are amazing, and there is no place better to watch a concert in the city.  You can accomplish this by attending Lollapalooza, but other than that there are always concerts going on in the park.

9.  Take a cruise on Lake Michigan on one of the tall sailing ships.  I like the Red Witch at Tall Ship Adventures of Chicago.

10.  Have breakfast -- and cinnamon rolls -- at Ann Sather.  909 W. Belmont.

11.  For something a little more classy, hit Pops for Champagne for an after dinner drink.  601 N. State St.

12.  If you are in your early to mid twenties, do a bar crawl up Lincoln Avenue.  Start at Lincoln and Armitage (Gamekeepers, Stanley's) and work your way north all the way up to Wrightwood (The Grand Central) -- if you can make it that far.  (You hit a block or two of residential here and there, but keep going.  There are lots of bars along this strip, most frequented by DePaul students.)  This is also fun in your thirties, but the crowd on this strip is generally younger.  For a slightly (at times, and some bars) older mix, try a crawl up Southport from Belmont or Roscoe up to around Byron or so.  Make sure to hit Cullen's (next to the Music Box) for the macaroni and cheese if you are hungry.

13.  If you like to shop luxury, hit Michigan Avenue and Oak Street.  That's where all the big hitters are -- Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Burberry, Chanel, Neiman Marcus, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Hermes, etc.

14.  For easy access to beer, hit the Bull & Bear, which has taps at the tables.  431 N. Wells.

15.  For great sushi, in my humble opinion, go to Sai Cafe.  2010 N. Sheffield.

16.  To see some beautiful historic buildings and attend to some boutique shopping (as well as all of your make up and hair needs), go to Armitage between Racine and Halsted, and then north on Halsted between Armitage and just north of Webster.  It's a historic district, pretty, and easy to drop a lot of money.

17.  Go to a rooftop bar in the loop for a great view over appetizers and/or drinks.  I recommend either the roof at The Wit Hotel, 201 N. State, or for a little lower of a view (but a great view of the Library), try the Plymouth at 327 South Plymouth Court.

18.   If you are in town around Christmas, go to Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.  It's like Octoberfest at Christmas with all kinds of good food and little shopping booths.  It smells delicious.  You get the bonus of seeing the Chicago Christmas tree and the famous Chicago Pablo Picasso statue right there also.  118 N. Clark.

19.  If you desperately need to watch your favorite college team play football or basketball, many of the bars here are themed to specific teams, so you don't want to end up at an OSU bar if you are a Michigan fan.  Google to find out where to go on Saturday.  There are too many teams to list to tell you where to go in this post, but there is nothing quite like being in a bar full of people rooting for the same team as you, and where they play the team fight song on every score.  If you need your football fix while in town, you can find the appropriate watching place.  There are also themed NFL team bars, so keep that in mind when you are choosing where to watch your game.

20.  Go and watch live Blues at Kingston Mines.  It's a true blues experience, and well worth the cover charge.  2548 N. Halsted.

You know what?  There are just too many fun things to do in this city.  I'm stopping there.

Hmmm....I guess this isn't really my "bucket list" so to speak, because I've done all of these things.  Number one on my list to do is one of the architectural tours on the river.  I hear great things about them, but I've never done it.  I usually just kayak up the river and observe on my own.  I actually look forward for people to come visit me, because then I get to do all the touristy stuff around here that I would never do on my own.

Nancy Pelosi Likes Very Dark Chocolate

In the "More Now!" section of September's issue of More magazine, there is the following quote:
"Chocolate.  Very, very dark chocolate."  -- Nancy Pelosi, on how she survived the health care overhaul.
I'm going to assume she is speaking about food, and is not referring to some hot young black guy.  I absolutely hate reading comments like this from women in powerful positions.  I know I'm supposed to find it humorous and feel a kinship with her and think "Oh, Nancy Pelosi eats chocolate when she's stressed, too!"  But, I don't.  While it's funny on The Closer, in real life it sounds kind of pathetic coming from a woman who is probably a size 2, is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, and is second in line to the Presidency.  Like many of the comments made by Nancy Pelosi, it not only rings false, it seems like such a blatant effort to attempt to connect to the everyday woman.  

Can you imagine a male Congressman or Senator saying something like this?  The only person I could possibly see saying something like this is Joe Biden, but I'm not sure that's a compliment.  

But heck, what do I know?  Maybe she was secretly pigging out on chocolate during the entire nine months the health care debate was happening.    

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise

This is the latest Spike Lee Joint, and I watched it yesterday evening after my sister went home. It’s the follow up to When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts, which I haven’t seen. Essentially, it focuses on what is happening in New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina.

I can’t say I absolutely loved it, but I’ve been thinking about it all day, so that has to mean something. If anything, it is powerful and put together extremely well. I read The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley a few years ago, and have been fascinated by the epic failures at the city, state, and federal levels in New Orleans both pre and post Katrina ever since.

The documentary consists of interviews and footage of New Orleans residents, writers, journalists, activists, experts, and many others (including Brad Pitt) discussing the rebuilding of New Orleans from various standpoints – such as the housing, projects, crime, and schools. It veers off to the earthquake in Haiti for a little too long, and also for quite awhile into the BP oil spill toward the end.

Given that it’s Spike Lee, the predominant viewpoints on the issues raised are the ones he thinks are correct. Although he did appear to minimally attempt to show other viewpoints (because none of the issues faced are easy ones), both the time spent and the way the film is edited does not leave you wondering which view is the “right” one according to Spike Lee. For example, some detail is given on the decision to tear down the projects and build mixed income housing in their place. The predominant viewpoint shown is that this was the wrong decision and it was a terrible thing to do to those who lived in the projects. (Nevermind that it would have cost a fortune to fix the damage that was there both before and after Katrina.) While he showed one or two people who stated their views that the mixed income housing was a better idea for long term growth, their bland statements didn’t exactly compare with scenes of a group of people emotionally screaming and yelling at the city council meeting. He also – as per usual – did everything he could to make President Bush look bad and President Obama to look good, when the truth for both is somewhere in between.

That said, I’m a huge fan of Spike Lee’s directing. He has such a way of using music and images that is so unique and memorable. (One of my all time favorite movie scenes is from the 25th Hour where Edward Norton is in the bathroom talking to himself in the mirror.) It’s clearly a Spike Lee film. In fact, that is probably why I am still thinking about this documentary. While it doesn’t take much to put together a collection of the horrifying images of New Orleans post Katrina, somehow the way Spike Lee does it, in conjunction with the soundtrack, sticks with you and evokes stronger feelings than usual. (Another Spike Lee scene I love is the use of Fernando by ABBA as the camera scans over a car with two dead bodies in the front seat during Summer of Sam.) So, kudos to him for that. The guy knows how to make a movie.

My only real complaint is that it is four hours long, and at certain points starts to feel a little tedious. For example, at the beginning of the first hour there are scenes about the New Orleans Saints Superbowl win, with throngs of people in the French Quarter singing the “Who Dat” song, and it tends to drag.

Now I just have to watch When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts. I wonder if they are showing it on HBO anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Has My Sister Found the Right Man or Not?

So, my youngest sister (she's almost 28) is coming to visit me this weekend.  With her boyfriend, who I shall refer to as "J."

This is an interesting situation, because my sister has been dating J for around three years.  I say "around" because I truly have no idea.  All I know is that he has been around for at least multiple Christmases and family events.  He's sort of part of the family now.  I'm just used to him being around and buying him presents for holidays and treating him like part of the family. 

She hooked up with J after dating D for a year or so.  D was really rich, but around fifteen years older than her.  He was her sugar daddy, but not officially.  I knew he was too old for her, even though I did like him.  He treated her well and was a nice guy, which is what we all want for our sisters.  My mom liked D because he had a lot of money.  So, when my sister dumped D for J, my mom was really pissed off.  You see, my mom is all about either (1) money; or (2) education.  Poor J, he had neither.  But J is a super nice guy, he has a steady job where he makes decent money (but not "rich"), he is good at his job, he is closer in age to my sister, and he treats my sister like a queen.  So, I liked J from the getgo.  Honestly, the first time I met J I totally adored him.  I thought he had a lot more longterm potential than D, because my sister's biggest problem with D was that he was 15 years older than her and wanted to get married and have kids.  She was not ready for that at all.  I knew that, she knew that -- my mom would not accept that.  My mom still laments to me about D, even though D has since gotten married to someone else.  That was not the life my sister wanted, or was ready for.  I knew that, and she knew that.  And I don't blame her.  I think she made the right decision in dumping D.

So, my mom hated J for awhile, but then she grew to accept him, in part because I kept telling her how great he was.  (And he really was.  I loved J.  I loved J with my sister.  I thought they were so great together, complementary when that was needed, and all that.)  And I thought all was great between J and my sister, so I was being the annoying (and admittedly, usually drunk when I said this) sister and saying things to him like "dude, where's the ring?"  That was the wrong thing to say.  My sister is like me, I found out later.  She does not want to get married.  (WTF?  All right, maybe I need to explore how we were raised, because it seems bizarre to me that two of us have no desire for this.  On the other hand, my younger sister is happily married, as is my brother.  Maybe 50/50 is the best you can hope for?  Although, we do have a long line of independent women on my mother's side, which I found out about thanks to ancestry.com and talking to my grandmother). 

So, at any rate, my sister dumped J last Octoberish.  And it was a bad dumping.  He had moved in with her, and rented his house out to someone else, which resulted in a shitload of drama when she broke up wiith him.  Obviously.  (Note:  I was like, you couldn't have decided this before he rented his house out to move in with you?  Because now, his house -- that he owns -- is rented out, so where is he going to live?)  It was a Fucking Mess.  And my sister had sex with some other guy afterward, and J found out and J was going out with other girls and my sister flipped out and all this.  You know, the usual, right?  Just total drama.

But they kept talking, of course.  So, when I was with her in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend, I called her on it.  We got into a huge fight.  Because, my point was simply this, and I'm quoting it because although it is not an exact quote it is the jist of what I told her:  "I understand that you miss him -- of course you do, he was your best friend for three (?) years.  But you broke up with him for a reason.  And if you are getting back together with him simply because you are afraid to be alone, that is the wrong reason.  You cried to me on the phone about how unhappy you were with him, and broke up with him because of it.  I want you to be happy.  That is all I want.  So what are you doing?  Grieve, be sad, and then move on.  Your relationship with him will not get better.  You are young, hot (note:  she is outrageously hot), and you can find a guy who is better suited to you.  I want you to be happy, and I don't think he really makes you happy.  I think you are running back to him because you are lonely and scared."

We were both crying at the end of my rant, and my rant was only because I cared about her and wanted her to be doing what would make her happy long term and not short term, and I stormed out and gambled for awhile, and the next day I tried to apologize (even though I didn't really feel like I needed to), and she said "don't worry about it" and the trip went on like nothing had happened.  I just told her I wanted to tell her how I felt, and she accepted it.  But, in the end, she got back with J.

And they are coming to visit me this weekend.  And although I love J, I don't think my sister is completely happy with him.  Maybe she is now.  Maybe breaking up with him is all she needed.  I guess I will find out this weekend.  But, to me the fact that she dumped him once (and kicked him out of her house to do so) makes me think that this is a "comfort" thing as opposed to a "this is the guy I want to be with" thing.  All I know is that I never regretted breaking up with a guy once the long term hit.  (Well, maybe one, but maybe not, there are questions there, but I was young.)  To me, if you hit that "I can't stand you and I want you out" point, there is no turning back.  But J is back, and like I said, I like him.  So I'm curious to see how this weekend is going to flow.        

Your Purses Really Do Get Bigger As You Get Older

Well, the title says it all.  Why is this?

When I was in my teens and twenties, I was always drawn to smaller purses.  Those were what I liked.  The big purses were just too much room that would just be filled up with receipts and crap that got tossed in, and because there was so much room, I would never clean out my purse or notice it, and by the way, big purses were for moms.  This was before the big purse trend got started with the Olsen twins and other celebrities.  No one carried big purses.  There was simply no need.   

But now, for some strange reason, I need all that room.  The first truly high end designer purse I bought for myself was a Louis Vuitton Batignolles.  It cost me $550 -- a fortune.  At the end of my first year at my law firm, back in 2004, my big boss gave me two $500 gift cards to Saks, and that is what I chose to spend part of it on, at the Louis Vuitton counter at Saks on Michigan Avenue.  My youngest sister was with me, and she was shocked -- abhorred -- that I was spending so much money on a purse.  But let me tell you, I wanted that purse more than anything.  I just now looked at Louis Vuitton's website, and I don't even see that they sell this bag anymore.  It is similar to the Batignolles vertical, but the handles are top handles.  So, not the Batignolles horizontal, not the Batignolles vertical, just the Batignolles.  At any rate, it is smaller than both of the current Batignolles that are on sale.

Since then, I've expanded my Louis Vuitton collection by quite a bit -- Vuitton is by far my favorite purse brand, and I've got a lot to show for it in my closet upstairs.  I don't even want to begin the Vuitton count, because I'll start calculating the cost and be truly horrified.  I've also got a Fendi embroidered magic bag (that I bought after a particularly tough deposition in New York), a Versace (that I spent $1200 on while in New York with my mom, which led to my debit card being cut off because they thought it had been stolen, and all of the drama that ensued there, which I will leave for another time), a Gucci, and a whole bunch of Christian Diors (one which I got for $75 on eBay, which has been authenticated by the Dior counter at Saks as real; another that I bought in Las Vegas after winning big on the slots; and others).  I also rather like Coach leather purses (not the ones with all the "C" crap on them), so I have quite a few of those as well.  And many more....as you can see, one of my big things is purses.  Hey, they always fit.  Maybe if I get bored one day, I will photograph my purse collection for this blog.

At any rate -- not to get off on a tangent here -- I've been carrying the Batignolles for the past couple of months, and I've found that it is just too small.  This is not a particularly small bag.  I would label it medium sized.  I love it, and it's cute, despite the small oil stain on the top leather that happened when I toured a gold mine, also with my mother, but it's just too darn small for me now.  Since there is no zipper at the top, my crap is always falling out of it.  I've had to switch back to my Tipoli PM for my everyday purse, and even with that...I'm now wondering if I should have bought the Tipoli GM, which is much, much bigger.

Why am I carrying so much more crap now?

The only reason I can think of is that now that I'm older (or maybe just because I'm a lawyer), I always plan for the worst.  What if I get stuck somewhere, on the train, or in traffic?  I need my iPod and a book.  What if my eyes dry out?  I need eyedrops.  What if I get really sweaty?  I need blotters and/or powder.  What if my eyeliner runs?  Need that.  What if I need more lipstick?  And if so, do I want lipgloss, light lipstick, or dark lipstick?  Better bring them all.  What if I get thirsty?  Need a bottle of water.  What if I get blisters?  Need Band-Aids.  What if I get a headache?  Need a bottle of Alleve.  What if my feet hurt?  Maybe I should bring a pair of ballerina slippers.  What if....and on, and on, and on.  It's just neverending.  And then there are the standbys that have to always fit, such as cigarettes and phone.  What if it's a long night?  Maybe I need two packs of cigarettes.  Better have some business cards on hand, because you never know who you might meet.  And coupons, what if we end up at restaurant X, Y, or Z?  Maybe I need my Binny's card.  Or my CVS card.  So many things can come up, and I just want to be prepared.  Jesus, how did I end up like this?

It's funny, because when I go out for the evening, I prefer not to carry a huge purse.  But now I find there are just so many things I feel I need to have with me (even though I never use them) it makes it an impossibility.  I haven't carried my cute as can be Vuitton fuschia perfo pochette in ages.  I need to carry that again, because it is so cute.  The problem is, it barely fits my phone and smokes, which absolutely have to fit.  Beyond that, it can fit one tube of lipstick, my ID, and a couple of credit cards.  Realistically, that's all I need to go out.  I know this.  So why do I feel I need to carry around so much extra crap?  Is this just what happens to you as you get older?      

All I can say is that I'm so glad my sister is expecting a girl, because God knows if I don't have any kids of my own I'm going to need someone to pass off all these "too small" designer bags to.  (Well, unless my sisters want them first!)

Writing a Big Old Check for the Final Time

Well, my final "buy in to be partner" payment is due at the end of this month.  $50,000.  This one I am not taking out a loan for, as I have with the others.  I am paying it out of my savings.  I've had this money in my savings all year, since last year's bonus, but I didn't want to burn it on other payments right off the bat.  I figured I'd leave it until the end.  But damn, I'm going to have to write that check within the next week.  And that almost clears out my savings, except for around $15,000.  (Of course, I have other stock market and such investments, but this is my liquid savings money in the bank that I can get to without a problem.)  I know $15,000 in the bank is nothing to sniff at, but it's been a long time since I've had that little in my bank account.  Somehow buying a townhouse and making partner all at around the same time leads to vast expenditures from the bank account. 

It's a little scary to write a check for that much money.  I remember when I bought my townhouse last year and went to the bank to get a cashier's check for $140,000 how strange I felt.  For some reason, I almost felt like I was doing something wrong, withdrawing that much money, even though it was my money that I had saved up in order to buy a place to live.  That's exactly what that money was there for, but God, when I took it out, how scary.  I thought the bank teller was looking me up and down and wondering why I had this money and whether I was scamming her or stole someone's identity or had gotten this money through something illegal.  I swear, all of that ran through my mind while I was waiting for her to cut the check.  I was sweating -- even though it was my money.  She did ask what the money was for, and I told her that it was for my downpayment, and she just congratulated me.  Sometimes I make something out of nothing.  What a dork.  But God, that's a lot of money, right?  And even scarier for me, the fear of losing that check on the way to the closing.  Good news is that I didn't.  All went according to plan.

Also good news is that after this payment, my year of "buy in to the partnership" hell will be done.  So, next year all I have to worry about is my share of the overhead, which is also nothing to sniff at.  I guess I'm somewhat of a small business owner now, since what I bring in helps to pay the salaries of all of our staff and clerks, and our rent, and all of that business.  It's truly amazing to me, when I sit back and think about it, that I am in this position.  I never thought I'd be here at this point.  Don't get me wrong, I always thought I would be successful -- heck, I was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school, and that has to mean something -- but what I've accomplished has really been beyond what I ever dreamed.       

Bears Season Tickets and My Fantasy Football Lineup

Well, there are currently 4,935 people in front of me to get season Bears tickets -- which means I should get mine in about 20 years, unless the Bears start playing really badly and the line moves a little faster.  I could really kick myself for not getting on the waiting list sooner.  I bought season tickets off an acquaintance for the past four years, and sort of expected to keep doing that, so I never got on the list until last year, and then this year (for various reasons) I opted not to buy season tickets off him, so I'm left in the dust. 

My other option is to buy PSL seats, which I will hopefully be able to do for next season, but they can get a little expensive.  Luckily I'm not terribly picky when it comes to seating location, other than I want to be 200 level or lower.  (God willing I make enough money to spare a bit for the extravagence of some seats in addition to the new car that I desperately want.  By end of year I will know my situation.  Goddamn overhead -- it's killing me!)

In brighter sports -- football -- news, we had our fantasy draft today.  Here is how my team played out:

QB   Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
QB   Ben R., Pittsburgh Steelers (don't even ask me to try to spell his last name)
RB   Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (yep, I went with him over Chris Johnson)
RB   Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts
RB   Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
WR  Marques Colsten, New Orleans Saints
WR  Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars
WR  Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals
WR  Santonio Holmes, New York Jets
TE    John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks
TE    Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders
K      Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
K      Shayne Graham, Baltimore Ravens
DEF  Dallas Cowboys
DEF  Miami Dolphins

You'll notice, not a single Chicago Bear.  I almost took Johnny Knox, but opted for Sims-Walker instead.  I get to play one QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1K, and 1 DEF each week.  I wish I had a better starting QB.  Last year I had Peyton Manning, which worked out extremely well.  I actually think being at the end of the draft order is better in that you get two picks pretty close, so you can grab a good RB or WR, and also grab a top QB.  (The scoring in my league is a little strange, so QBs can do well.)  Yeah, I got to choose between Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson (a very hard choice, and I hope I made the right pick) for my first round pick, but then it didn't get back to me for 22 more picks, at which point all the top 5 QBs were gone, as well as most of the top RBs and WRs.  Oh well, I think I've got some good players, so we'll see how this all works out.  I'm hoping Colsten gets me part of the Drew Brees gravy train that is sure to play out.

Have I mentioned that I love playing fantasy football?  Last year was the first year I ever played, and while I have always loved watching NFL football, it really makes the games more interesting.  I get sucked into watching teams who I never would have previously watched, just to keep an eye on my -- or my opponents -- players.  And Direct TV has such the sweet set up.  You can program in your entire fantasy team, so they will flash updates across the bottom of the screen when one of your players does something, so you don't miss out anything and/or know when to switch over to another game.  At any rate, it's a lot of fun, but I find myself stuck in front of the TV and/or checking scores on my cell phone like a maniac pretty much all day on Sunday during football season.  I guess now I know what it feels like to be a man...       

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lace and Lace II and Coincidences

Back in high school I was a voracious reader.  I read everything from the classics to the trashiest literature imaginable.  It was the trashy stuff that caught my attention the most, from Sidney Sheldon (my favorite was If Tomorrow Comes) to Judith Krantz (Scruples) to Jackie Collins (Lucky).  Pure trash, but highly entertaining.  One of the other books I really liked was Lace and its sequel Lace II.  This is the one with the infamous scene in the mini-series where Phoebe Cates asks "Which one of you bitches is my mother?"  Deliciously trashy.  I hadn't thought about these books in years.

So, earlier this week I was watching Monk and decided to look up Tony Shaloub on Wikipedia.  This led to finding out that he was married to Brooke Adams, who starred in the miniseries Lace.  And I began to think about the books.  I get nostalgic about books sometimes, particularly books like Lace that I recall reading multiple times.  I could still picture the cover of the book -- light pinkish purple satin with a silver tray.  Once the book got into my head, I couldn't shake it.  I wanted to read it again.  So, I ran down to the basement to make sure I didn't still have it.  (I have been known to buy books more than once on accident.)  Alas, it must've gotten given away during one of my moves.  And while I wanted to read it again, right then I wasn't much in the mood to hop on eBay to find a used copy.  I just wasn't that desperate for it once I thought about it more.

Fast forward to today.  I took a walk over to the White Elephant resale shop, which is one of my favorite treasure places.  I had actually forgotten about my desire for Lace, even though the entire above incident happened just a few days ago.  So, as I was wandering the book aisles looking for something new to read, guess what I found?

Lace and Lace II, right next to each other among the paperbacks.  For $1 each.  Was someone looking out for me?

I snatched them up and stacked them underneath Augusten Burroughs' Dry, which I had also found.  (Yes, I was admittedly a bit embarrassed to be buying them -- well, maybe more embarrassed at my excitement to be buying them.)

It's really strange sometimes how things happen.  All evening I've been getting back into the story of Pagan, Kate, Judy, and Maxine.  Good times.  I think I'm going to reread Lucky next, which during my search for Lace I found out that I still have in my book collection.                  

Why is Kim Kardashian Famous?

Seeing Kim Kardashian on the cover of September's Allure magazine stopped me in my tracks.  What has Kim Kardashian done to merit appearing on the cover of a national magazine?  She doesn't act, sing, model (too short to be a real model), or by any other appearance do anything that requires any brains or talent.  From what I can tell, she just shows up at a lot of parties and premieres and lets a camera follow her around for Keeping Up With the Kardashians.     

In the article, Kim talks about her new $4 million dollar home.  Apparently sex tapes and reality television pay more than I thought.  More baffling is that all of this came about through the release of a sex tape.  Prior to 2007, no one knew or cared who Kim Kardashian was.  Now she's being featured on the cover of a national fashion magazine for doing nothing more than having sex with her boyfriend in front of a video camera and allowing cameras to follow her around all day.  No wonder Montana Fishburne seems to think that releasing a sex tape is a good career move. 

There was a time when a person had to do something in order to appear on a fashion magazine cover.  There was also a time when a sex tape would have ruined lives rather than started careers.  One wonders what Robert Kardashian would think about all of this if he were still alive.  More bothersome are the constant "news" stories about the other Kardashian sisters.  Kourtney and Khloe rode on Kim's sex tape coattails and landed their own reality show.  Khloe later married a pro basketball player.  The two younger girls, Kendall and Kylie, appear to be riding the train into attempted modeling careers.  In short, this entire family is now "in the business" thanks to Kim's sex tape.  Something about that just makes me feel dirty.

I find it so sad that these are the type of women who are getting the attention and headlines, while women like Danica McKellar and Natalie Portman are ignored.  (Of course, it's possible they are both happy to be ignored.)  I guess it's just easier to pander to the lowest common denominator.         

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell -- Terrible Adaptation

I hadn’t even realized a movie had been made based on the Tucker Max stories. I spotted this one while browsing through the Direct TV guide the other night, and DVR’d it to watch later.

First, a little bit of background. When I was in law school, I fairly regularly read Tucker Max’s web site. (This was in the 2003-2004 timeframe, when he used to blog and update his site with new stories on a fairly regular basis.) I found his stories amusing in the way I found similar stories told by my male friends amusing. And I always thought Tucker Max had a good way of telling the stories and making them seem more interesting than they really were, when stripped of the embellishment. (And I do believe that while they are all likely based on some truth, there is embellishment. In no way do I believe that he shit all over the lobby of the Embassy Suites in Austin, TX. I do believe that maybe he shit his pants while trying to find the bathroom.)

At some point – before I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell was published – I moved on and stopped reading his web site. When I saw the book in the bookstores a few years ago, I laughed and noted that the title was clever. But, I didn’t buy the book. At least half the stories from it are still posted on his web site, and there are really only so many “I got really wasted and then…” stories that a person can read.

At any rate, I watched the movie yesterday morning. Unsurprisingly, the stories don’t translate well to film. The trick to the success of the stories (and in my opinion why the book reached the New York Times Bestseller List) is how they are told, not what actually happened. It’s hard to incorporate that particular style into a film, when you aren’t inside the character’s head in a way you are while reading a story. I have the same problem with Bret Easton Ellis’ books that have been made into movies. It’s the same reason why Catcher in the Rye would make a terrible movie. (Note: Tucker Max is not in the same league as Ellis or Salinger, but those are the best comparisons I can come up with right now.) The underlying stories simply aren’t anything unique, intriguing, or new. It’s all in how the story is told.

The fact is, what actually happened (and hence the driving plot of the movie) isn’t all that interesting, and generally consists of events that probably half the college age men in this country have experienced. Probably everyone has had ridiculous experiences while drunk, and probably everyone has at some point had a disturbing conversation.  The events are clichéd, as is the movie. We’ve seen it all before in Dumb and Dumber, American Pie, The Hangover, Superbad, etc. Worse, the entire point of the Tucker Max stories is what an asshole he is, and how much enjoyment he gets out of being an asshole. The movie completely fails to address this, other than through a few scenes of the Tucker character making what are supposed to be witty and assholish comments to women. Funny? Not really. Steve Stiffler was more entertaining.

The movie tries to make Tucker Max likeable – an impossible task – and incorporates a storyline of his friend inexplicably falling in love with a stripper (in the nearly unwatchable Halo scene) and a his other friend getting into trouble with his fiancé for lying and ending up in jail. Lord, how many times have we seen this clichéd plot? This movie is simply another “group of male friends goes to strip bar one falls in love one lands in jail and then one of them gets married at the end” stories. And Tucker Max finds redemption. Are you kidding me? In short, the tone of the movie does not match the tone of the stories at all, and that’s probably its most fatal flaw. At least attempting to stay true to the spirit of the stories might have resulted in a better adaptation.

Altogether, it was a really boring movie, and I didn’t laugh once. (By contrast, I do laugh at the stories in print.)  Maybe that's why I had absolutely no idea that this movie had even been made.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dreaming About Retirement...

Is it bad that I'm only 36 and already planning my escape from the workforce?  Well, to be fair, not the "workforce" entirely.  I don't mind working at all. 

My problem is that I'm tired of the responsibility that is involved with my job.  You see, I can never leave my job entirely behind when I go on vacation or for the weekend or even for the night.  It is always there.  Now, with all of these smartphones and e-mail and all that, everyone always expects you to be responsive immediately.  It's not only annoying, it's intrusive and a huge pain in the ass.  Oh, but I guess I should be thankful that I make so much money for my annoyance, and that my tax burden is likely to increase by the end of the year for my annoyance.  And I should be patriotic and not mind.  Whatever.  The shit I have to put up with on a day to day basis is increasingly becoming less worth it to me, and thus my countdown to retirement.  I've started to calculate how much money I feel I need to retire.  The biggest obstacle is my mortgage.  Once that is done, I don't have a ton of expenses, other than my property tax and Direct TV bill, and I can get some bullshit job (punch in, punch out) to cover those, and simply live off my savings for the rest. 

I now remember fondly my days working at Wendy's when I punched in, punched out, took orders, made food, closed the store, and that was the end of things.  Now when I leave work, I wonder what e-mails will await me in the morning (unless I check them from home or my phone), or when I get back from vacation.  Opposing counsel always waits until the last minute at the end of the workday to send some scathing e-mail.  When they are on the west coast, I don't get it until at least 8 or 9 p.m. here.  Also, there's nothing quite like coming back from vacation to 500+ e-mails to go through, all of which are urgent, despite your Outlook Out of Office notice.  I particularly love attorneys who e-mail me innocently initially, so I know they got my Out of Office notice, then e-mail me again later demanding a response by the end of the day, when they know I am out, and conveniently don't copy any of the other attorneys on the case on the e-mail, who might be available to respond. That's always a great situation to deal with.

At any rate, it's possible that I'm glamorizing my previous experience at jobs that didn't carry over at the end of the day.  Everything always looks better in hindsight, and I recall getting annoyed with the Wendy's job also.  But still, it was different.  There is something nice about just doing what you are told, and not having to make any difficult decisions.   

My job always carries over, and there are always difficult decisions to make, which now, as a partner, I have to make.  There are always deadlines, always something else to worry about, always fees motions and bills of costs to worry about, always clients to worry about, proving your case...it's always something.  I'm more venting than complaining, I guess.  I'm reading too many Huffington Post article comments about how the "rich" (which apparently I am, since I make over $200K a year) are lazy and greedy and sucking the life out of the middle class.  And I sit back and say, really?  Am I doing that?  As far as I can tell, this year I'm paying well into the six figures in overhead in order to pay the salaries of all of our paralegals, secretaries, clerks, and associates.  That's income I made that is not going into my pocket, but is going into the pockets of these "middle class" people, of which I apparently am not.  And they help me and do a good job, so I don't mind paying their salaries.  They are all a necessary part of our business.   

But at the end of the day, this responsibility and stress simply is not worth it.  Nor does it seem worth it when probably I'm going to have to pay more of it to the government, since I'm "rich."  At this point, I'm staying right where I am, though, because this job will give me the option of retiring early, and I really am quite good at it.  I could quit and do something else, but the fact is, the money here is more than I can make anywhere else, and this is what I am good at.  So, I figure if I can just deal for about 10 more years, I might be in a position to leave this world of responsibility, smart phones, e-mails, and all that, and just take a step back.  Because I kind of want to just take a step back and simply not have to make the hard decisions.  It's hard to make the hard decisions, because sometimes you make the wrong decision, even with the best of intentions.  And I'm really tired of dreaming at night about work.  I just can't get away from it.      

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some Random Thoughts on August 20

1.  I've had my iPhone since Fall 2008 and am only updating the software for the second time tonight.  Yes, I never updated to the new and improved software.  Ridiculous, right?  I only decided to do it now because I found out that now you can actually group like applications together, and I need that for all my news apps.  I just don't care that much about having the latest and greatest.  Maybe the reason I never did it is because it is taking so freaking long.

2.  My youngest sister is coming out next week to visit, and my brother is coming out the second week in September.  I'm super excited to see them both, but it will be the first time they are seeing my townhouse (that I bought last August -- hey, I closed a year ago yesterday, so happy anniversary to me!), and it's so hard to explain to people who don't live in the city how much it costs to buy a decent place that is (1) near the train and restaurants and bars and stuff; but (2) not too close to the train because you don't want to hear it right in your ear; and (3) close enough to downtown that you don't have a long commute.  My sister gets it more than my brother.  He lives in the 'burbs in Cincinnati, and I paid double what he did for his huge McMansion complete with pool.  I know he's going to think this place is tiny for what I paid (is 1800sf tiny?), when it really isn't in terms of city living and my awesome location.

3.  I have one week to get my butt over to Sephora to get my free birthday gift.  I have to do it, because God knows I deserve it, based on what I've spent there over the past year.

4.  I wish I had a personal assistant to deal with all the bullshit.  Things like booking doctor's appointments (because I would go if they were on my calendar), sitting at my house to wait for the plumber to come, picking up new pantyhose when I am too lazy to do laundry, getting me bread and milk, scraping off the previous city sticker from my windshield so I can put a new one on, and making sure my flowers get watered.  I'm capable of doing all of these things, of course, but I'm just tired and don't feel like it.  I could also have my secretary at work do some of this, but I don't think it's cool to have a secretary do personal things, so I don't do it, even though some partners do.

5.  I just realized that I still have not heard from the girl who lost her keys -- keys which I have sitting on my counter.  Strange.  I will call her one more time tomorrow, even though I already left a message with my phone number and address, and if I don't hear from her then, I'm done.  I shouldn't have to stalk someone to get them to come pick up their keys -- which, by the way, is a massive keychain with numerous keys and the mini cards for CVS, Binny's, etc.  I would think she would want these back.  And for God's sakes, I'm her neighbor, so I'm not like some random on the street calling her.  People are so strange.  I can't imagine why she hasn't come by or called me.

Step it Up, Peach! Project Runway

I'm partial to Peach Carr on Project Runway, since she is representing Chicago.  Well, Lake Forest, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago, but beggars can't be choosers, as they say.

Plus, Peach seems like a sweet person, the other designers seem to like her, and she seems to know how to construct clothing.

That said, I would have put her in the bottom three after this week's Philip Treacy "hat" challenge.  The skirt and top Peach designed had no relation to the awesome hat she had.  I thought her hat was the best of the bunch, yet she sent something down the runway that had absolutely no relation and no cohesiveness with that hat.  It was bizarre, the pink and white patterned top (with ruffle) and skirt she sent down, in association with that fabulous black and white hat.  One could argue that was the point, although, after watching Peach flounder with designs and styling over the first three episodes, I think it was dumb luck (and horrible designs from other contestants) that kept her safe.

The fact is, Peach has designed either a sleeveless dress or a sleeveless top/skirt combo in a patterned fabric for all four of the challenges thus far.  Peach, this doesn't work for Project Runway!  You need to show some variety, some risk, some edge.  Everyone knows that sleeveless dresses and tops and skirts are the easiest thing to make.  That's why we see so many dresses on Project Runway.  While I don't mind her designs (and would wear some of them), and Lilly Pulitzer has made a career out of similar designs, I fear that Peach will not be among the Project Runway cast for long if she keeps this up.  It's only a matter of time until Michael Kors or Nina Garcia informs her how boring and predictable she is. 

What's most shocking is that in Peach's bio she identifies Valentino, Steve McQueen, and Balenciaga as her favorite designers.  What she's shown us so far could not be farther from any of their designs.  Peach, take some inspiration from some of their crazy designs and do something different.  How about a jacket?  Pants?  A shirt with sleeves?  Come on, I know you can do it.  Just step away from the Lake Forest country club set you are used to designing for and free yourself!  I'm rooting for you!   

A Little Chicago Road Rage This Week

I had the strangest thing happen the other night.

I was driving on a four lane road (two lanes each way), on the inner lane.  I was in the city, on Orleans Street, to be exact, and had just passed through the green light and was stuck in traffic behind the car in front of me.  Thus, the lane to my left was traffic going the opposite way, consisting of a line of cars trying to turn left.  I was most of the way through the intersection -- my back end was maybe hanging in the crosswalk -- and there was a car behind me, so I was sitting there, at a complete stop, minding my own business when....

The second car in line to my left (a total junker) was moving forward, and I happened to glance over, and the driver (some frat looking dude in about his mid-twenties, henceforth referred to as "Dude") was rolling down his window and gesturing to me.  I'm a little naive, so I thought maybe he wanted directions or something.  This is the conversation that ensued:

Dude: (screaming)  "Get in your lane!"

Me:  (panicking for a brief moment that I had drifted, but then checked myself.  I was in my lane.  I was also right behind the car in front of me, and the car behind me was directly behind me.  And there was at least six feet between me and this Dude.)  "What are you talking about?" 

Dude: (screaming)  "You are a terrible driver, clearly!" 

Dude then zoomed off and turned left, never to be heard from again.

I have no idea what this guy was talking about.  I was in my lane.  And I'm not a terrible driver.  Believe me, I've dated guys who were driving aficianados, and if I was a terrible driver, one of them would have informed me without question.  I don't claim to be the best, but I'm certainly not the worst.  I'm just not sure where this Dude thought I was supposed to be, and he was clearly able to get where he was trying to go, so it wasn't like I was blocking him. 

It was the weirdest thing.  All I can hope is that he got to wherever he was trying to go in such a hurry.  I mean, even if whatever I did (still currently unknown) annoyed him that much, people annoy me left and right all day, yet I don't scream at complete strangers.  What the hell is wrong with people?  

Can You Say Number 1 Draft Pick?

I drew the first draft pick in my Fantasy Football League at work.  We don't have the type of league where you get to keep players from the previous year, so it is all from scratch.

The number one pick is both awesome and burdensome.  I can pick any player in the entire league that I want, and everyone has something to say about who that player should be.  Don't waste it on a QB.  It's got to be a RB or a WR.  But which one?  How is the depth for the RBs and WRs?  I won't get another pick until the order works its way down to the bottom and back up, so this pick is important. 

The prime choices are either Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson.  I think I'm leaning toward Adrian Peterson.  Although Chris Johnson had a great year last year, Adrian Peterson seems to be consistently good year after year and has more experience, and with Chester Taylor going to Chicago, he might have the ball even more this year.  Then again, Chris Johnson is younger, has less fumbles lost, and also has potential to get the ball a lot this season.

I almost wish I had the number 2 pick, because then I could just choose the player the number 1 pick didn't take.  Almost.  Regardless of who I pick, the guys will all scream that I should've taken the other one.  And number 2 will get whoever I didn't pick.  I just hope I end up with a decent QB.  Last year I had Payton Manning, which worked out very well for me.   

Dear Sammi from Jersey Shore...

You are only 22, so I am going to cut you some slack.  At 22, I also did a lot of stupid things when it came to men, many of which I can't even think about right now without deep shame and embarrassment.  However, your behavior is making Jersey Shore nearly unbearable to watch, so your actions are starting to affect my life, because I enjoy watching the rest of the cast.  I both want to slap you and give you a big hug.  Instead, I will give you some simple advice, which I have learned over the years:

1.  Men may lie about things like where they are going, who they are with, and what they are doing, but they generally do not lie when they tell you how they feel about you, particularly if they really like or love you.  (They may lie about loving you, but they never lie when they say they do not love you.)  In fact, in my experience men who are interested or in love go out of their way to make sure you know, and that it is perfectly clear.  When Ronnie screams at you that he hates you, that you are a cunt, a bitch, or any of the above, please understand that is how he feels about you.  He is not lying.

2.  Men don't need you to "check on them" when they are wasted.  That's what their male friends are for, and most men can take care of themselves.  In last night's episode when you cut off from the group and chased after Ronnie's cab, and he ignored you, you deserved it.  There was no reason why you needed to "check up on him."  He was fine.  Stop trying to take care of a man who doesn't want you to take care of him.

3.  When a man shows up at a bar where all of his friends are hanging out, don't assume he is there to see you, as you did in last night's episode.  He probably is there to see his friends (and because that's where MTV was filming); you just happened to also be there also.

4.  A man who loves you doesn't go out until 5 in the morning night after night to the clubs with his friends.  He occasionally likes to go out with you or spend time with you.

5.  I have no idea why you and Ronnie broke up in the first place, but there was obviously some reason, whether initiated by you or him.  People don't break up for no reason.  Remind yourself of that reason when you start to find yourself getting drawn back to him.

6.  Talking incessantly about a man who is treating you like utter and complete crap drives your girlfriends insane.  At least feign interest in their lives and try to talk about other things.  It is not all about you.  And don't tell them you are "done, literally done" when you clearly are not. 

7.  Allowing a man into your bed mere hours after he called you a cunt, bitch, or worse is not only inane, but it makes you look like a fool.  It shows him that he can say whatever he wants and do whatever he wants and you will simply put up with it.  This will not make your relationship with him better, and he will only lose respect for you.

8.  It's okay to feel depressed about a relationship ending, but at some point you have to get out of bed and move on, particularly when you are being featured on a reality television show.  You are a very pretty girl, and there are a lot of men in the world.  Why are you so hooked on this loser?  Can you have any fun this season, because all I've seen is bitchface and sadness.  Further, you might feel better if you actually put some sheets on your bed.  Clean sheets can work wonders.

9.  Likewise, if you want to find out what Ronnie is actually doing, stop storming out of the club crying.  Stick around and watch the show rather than bother all of your friends in the house about it.  And don't put your friends in the middle of it.

10.  Most importantly, stop making excuses for his behavior and projecting what you want him to be feeling onto how he is acting.  If he wanted to be with you, he would be with you, and not just at 4 a.m. when he needs a warm bed.  I don't care about how much alcohol was in his system when he said what he said or did what he did.  Fantasizing may be easier on the heart than reality, but reality always trumps fantasy.

(Yes, I know this has all already happened, but last night's show drove me bonkers.  I can't watch these two anymore, and they are ruining what used to be a hilarious show.  More MVP and Snooki and J-Woww, please.) 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Debate Surrounding the 14th Amendment

Being the nerdy attorney I am, and given all the controversy around "birth right citizenship," and the 14th Amendment, I looked up the debate surrounding what it meant.  As a reminder, this is what Section 1 of the 14th Amendment says:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Here is the link to the actual discussion surrounding adoption of this Section.  It's quite a fascinating read, particularly with respect to why they decided it was okay that people who were born in this country of foreigners should become citizens.  At least arguably, things are very different now.  Also fascinating, and what led me to this in the first place is the meaning of "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".  At page 2893 (about midway through the left column), it is explained:
What do we mean by "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States?"  Not owing allegiance to anyone else.
Very interesting read. 

And Some Randoms...on Television Shows

1.  I love Project Runway, and I severely hate Gretchen right now.  God, could she be anymore obnoxious and egotistical?  While I have to admit that she has shown a lot of variety and talent (a dress, a pant/jumpsuit, and a skirt/jacket/top), she is just being such an ass to the other designers.  Her edit makes me suspect that they are setting her up for a big fall.

2.  Last night's True Blood was fabulous because there was very little Sookie.  It's amazing how great the show can be when it focuses on Eric, Russell, Sam, and Jason.  Keep it up.  No Sookie.  Or Bill.  And cut it out on the Tara, because I hate her, too.

3.  I'm watching Jersey Shore this season again.  I can't help it, but The Situation and Pauly D are hilarious.  The rest of them can go off into oblivion, but these two guys have got something special.  Their comments, facial expressions, and attitudes keep me coming back.  The rest of them (particularly Sammi and Ronny, who completely suck the life out of the show) can go away now.

4.  I keep watching The Glades, and I don't know why.  I think it's gotten better -- or at least the lead actor's gotten better at disguising his Australian accent.  Anyway, it's all right, but it's still getting there.  It could be good.

5.  Meanwhile, I love The Gates.  A nice supernatural show with some mystery, it's good.  But it has low ratings, so we'll see what happens to this one.  This is why I rarely watch shows until they make it past season 1.  The networks cancel them before they have any chance to catch on.  But, this is a good one if you like the supernatural type stuff.    

Fixing My Plantar Fasciitis or Heel Spur

This is a bit of a product endorsement, but I have nothing to do with them.  Just sharing my experiences:

I'm not sure whether I have plantar fasciitis or a heel spur, or both, but my left heel has been in serious pain since April.  Did I go to the doctor?  Of course not.  I hate going to the doctor, particularly when I can diagnose myself online, and find out that there is really nothing a doctor can do about this.  Based on the pain and the location of the pain, I figured out that m problem was either plantar fasciitis or a heel spur.

So, I am about to describe to you what I did to figure out how to deal with this pain, which has prevented me from wearing high heels (which is my standard) for the past three months.

First, I bought the Dr. Scholl's for Her Heel Liners.  This was when the pain first arose, and I did not realize the extent of my situation.  These somewhat dealt with the pain, but ultimately didn't do a whole lot.

Next, after I did a little googling on my medical condition, I tried the HTP Heel Seats.  These are supposedly patented technology and supposed to work for plantar fasciitis.  While they alleviated the pain for a week or two, they ultimately did nothing, and my heel hurt worse than ever.  Plus, these were too wide to fit into my high heels or any of my cute shoes, so that was a problem.

Next, I tried the Pedagog cushion for women.  While this fit into all of my cute high heels and flats, and gave nice arch support, it ultimately was really hard on the heel, which is where my pain was.  So, fail.

Next, I tried the Wonder-Spur Soft Silicone Heel Cup.  This thing is so flimsy that it actually pops out of your shoe and slides around.  It also doesn't do anything for heel pain.  What a waste.

By this point, I was desperate.  I had spent a lot of money and was still in a lot of pain.  However, after all of this heel support, I was beginning to suspect that maybe I needed some arch support as well.  So, I bought the Dr. Scholl's Heel Pain Relief Orthotics over at CVS.  I'm linking to the men's because I bought the men's on accident.  And after wearing the men's for awhile (they fit into my black ballerina flats), and then trying the women's, the men's provide so much more support and comfort.  The women's were still okay, though.     

These orthotics felt great.  I could walk again.  Fabulous.  Honestly -- these are the best orthotics.  Don't waste your money on any of the other crap.  But, my pain wasn't getting any better when they were off, so I went hardcore.

I found a site called the Mend Me Shop, who specializes in heel/plantar fasciitis issues.  And this site provided me relief.  I bought the Inferno Wrap and the Freezie Wrap.  The Inferno Wrap has healed my heel.  Seriously!  This thing is fabulous; apparently it stimulates the blood flow to promote healing.  And when I work out or walk a lot, I use the Freezie Wrap right after.  I can't talk enough about these products, because all I can say is that I can walk again, my heel feels great, and I can only attribute it to the Inferno Wrap.  I wore it twice a day, once for about 20 minutes in the morning, and once for about 45 minutes in the evening, and after three weeks, I can wear my high heels again.  Oh, hurray!  My heel is still healing, but I have no pain like I had before.  This truly works.  Buy it if you have plantar fasciitis or heel spur issues.  It's a little pricey, but it is worth it, because it actually fixes the problem.    

Cryokids or Kids in General....

I just turned 36, which among other things means I need to change my About Me section.  But somehow 35 is such a nice age.  Now I'm just that much closer to 40. 

Other than that, I've been thinking long and hard about the kid thing.  Do I want kids?  I'm single, and I love being single.  I've dated a lot, since I was 16 years old, so about 20 years of dating experience.  I've had a few long term relationships, none of which worked out.  What's funny is that none of them ended with hatred or anything like that.  They just fizzled and faded away, and they were mutual decisions to just move on.  I still love those men, as friends, or as individuals that I felt so much love for in the past, but what's done is done.  I still see one of my exes on a fairly regular basis due to mutual friends, and he is married with two kids now.  And it's funny, because when I see his wife, I think "Thank God that isn't my life."  Guess that one worked out for the best, eh?

And I, frankly, have no desire to get married.  Hell, I don't even like dating anymore.  Usually when I go on dates, I get about halfway through and wish I was sitting home on the couch with a glass of wine and Criminal Minds on the DVR.  I'm so tired of the whole charade, and who is going to pay, and do I have to avoid the kiss if I don't want to kiss him, and what if he's just boring and gross.  I just so rarely meet anyone who I'm interested in.  And honestly, I do try to meet men.  It's just that they are all either too weird, too boring, too old, too poor, or too something else.  Maybe I'm too picky at this point.  Maybe I deserve to be picky.  I don't know.  But the fact is, whenever I've dated anyone for more than a couple of years, I've eventually gotten bored and annoyed with everything about them.  So how can I ever get married for the rest of my life? 

Regardless of the marriage factor, I sometimes think I would like to have a kid.  One. Because having a kid is one of those things that you have a certain time period to do (before the clock stops ticking) that I think I might regret not doing.  It's not that I think I want one, it's more that I think I might regret not having one.  I'm not sure that's a good reason to have a kid.  And since my clock is ticking loudly right now, given my age, I've considered the whole going to the sperm bank thing and just doing it on my own.  But something about that really depresses me, since I was really close to my dad before he passed away and I don't think it's quite fair to subject a kid to a situation with no father, even though I can provide financially in every way for the kid.  And then I came across this web site, Confessions of a CryoKid, which is written by a sperm donor girl, who seems to resent her mother ever doing it.  Do I want to do that to my kid?  Um...no.  But yet, I don't feel that I'm being selfish (as she alleges her mother was) because I want to have a biological kid, yet I have no man.  Then again, maybe it is selfish to want a biological kid when I have no man. 

Anyway, my other option is to possibly approach some of my gay male friends/couples and see if they want to procreate.  Since they can't do it themselves, I can provide quite the commodity -- my uterus -- and since we all know each other already, maybe it could work.  We could certainly work something out.  And my kid could have a dad, and their kid could have a mom.  But, how do you even bring that up?  Maybe I could ply them with shots and convince them.  I don't know...but it is something that is heavily on my mind.  I've got to act within the next few years....

Oh!  And I have a brand new niece coming around Christmas.  My sister just informed me.  So, the count will be...two nephews and four nieces.   Can I add one to the mix?  Maybe.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Thoughts on Friday the 13th

1.  I found a set of keys near the entrance to my complex last weekend.  On the keychain was a preferred owner membership card to a car dealership, so through the dealership I was able to find out who the keys belonged to.  The dealership gave her my number, she called and left a message for me on Tuesday.  I called her back and left a message, gave her my address, number, etc.  Haven't heard a peep out of her.  Weird, right?  If someone had my keys, I think I'd be doing everything I could to get them back as soon as possible.

2.  My mom is so cute.  She sent me three different birthday cards, all with little notes, and a check for $100 with a note to "buy yourself something nice."  I earn quite a bit more money than she does, so one one level I find it kind of annoying that she did this; on the other hand, I find it pretty adorable.  My mom is great.

3.  My younger sister can be really strange.  When she was here in June, she borrowed a couple of books from me.  I just got them back in the mail.  I can't understand why she wasted the money to mail them back to me.  I mean, it's not like I'm never going to see her again, and I wasn't dying without my copy of The Stand.

4.  I'm dealing with an opposing attorney right now who doesn't appear to do a lot of litigation.  He keeps sending me letters that are eight or nine pages long (that's ridiculously long in the world of litigation) with words like "sanctions" and "Rule 11" bolded and italicized, and asking me to do things like strike my objections.  I've never had anyone ever ask me to strike an objection.  In fact, his letters are so long that I have trouble focusing long enough to read them to understand what his problem is.  I'm not sure why, but he also likes to include the entire language of various Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as if I have no idea what Rule 26 or Rule 33 are.  Maybe it's just because he doesn't know.  He also uses the word "purportedly" a lot to try and accuse me of not doing something that I actually did.  I'm finding it all insanely amusing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flipping Out on the Job

I’ve been enjoying all the news coverage on Steven Slater, the now infamous Jet Blue flight attendant who flipped out and stormed off the job in a very dramatic fashion.

I would love to do that.

It’s easy to understand how a person could get so frustrated with their job that they do something like that, particularly a flight attendant who has to deal with annoying passengers all day long. Like anyone else, I get frustrated with my job, too. My frustration isn’t limited to any particular group of people – it could be my co-workers, clients, opposing counsel, court reporter, whoever drafted the rules of civil procedure, or a Judge. Nevertheless, I’ve often fantasized about what it might be like to do something ridiculous a la Slater.

As a lawyer, you have to hold back a lot in the name of professionalism. You can’t tell a client you think they are full of shit. You can’t tell the Judge you think they are an idiot. You can’t tell opposing counsel to fuck off. Everything is much more professional. It gets hilarious at times, the wording that goes into a brief or motion. What the lawyer wants to say is “Judge, you seriously are buying this argument? Come on, it doesn’t even make sense!” but they have to instead say “Defendants’ argument is implausible.” You want to say “Judge, I’m really sorry my client is a fucking idiot who lied to me. He’s the inventor, so I took his word for it that he understood the technology, when clearly that was not the case. Please don’t sanction me.” But you have to say “Plaintiff’s understanding of Defendants’ technology was clarified during the discovery process, when Plaintiff gained access to Defendants’ confidential technical documentation.” And sometimes on a motion for reconsideration, all you want to write is four words “Judge, are you high?”

It is what it is.

More Weirdness from Airline Passengers

On my flight out to the west coast on Tuesday night, the plane was a Boeing 757 and I was in an aisle seat. While reading my book and waiting for everyone else to finish loading onto the plane, a girl approached who had the seat next to me. Before I could even put my book down and get up to let her through, she simply shoved her way through the very small opening between my knees and the seat in front of me and dove for the seat.

I’ve seen people do this before, and I don’t understand it. While they may feel they are being polite by not asking the aisle seater to get up, it’s much more of an inconvenience to me to have (a) someone’s ass right in my face; and (b) to have to try and squeeze in so there is enough space between my knees and the seat for him or her to get through. Seriously, I don’t mind getting up and it will take about two seconds. She got up twice during the flight to use the bathroom and did the same thing. She was quick about it, too – I usually didn’t even have time to react before she was up and her ass was right in my face.

She also did another thing during the 4 hour flight that continually baffles me – nothing. She did not listen to music, watch a movie (we all had the personal TV sets on the seatbacks in front of us, which gave a variety of movie options), read a book or magazine, play a video game or anything. She sat there and stared straight ahead for 4 hours, other than when she was running for the bathroom. I think I would die of boredom on a flight without a book or an iPod, yet I constantly see people get on the plane with nothing to do. Weird.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just Shut Up and Sing, Lady Gaga!

I saw the Lady Gaga concert last night at Lollapalooza. Before I get into the details about what I thought about this concert, let me just say this: Gaga has an amazing voice and sounded great live. In terms of actual singing voice live, probably one of the best.

I’ve never actually seen a female “pop” star live in concert, other than television performances at the Grammy’s or MTV Music Video Awards. The theme of this concert was Gaga trying to get to something called The Monster’s Ball. She never explained what the Monster’s Ball is, but kept referring to the crowd as her “little monsters.” It felt more like a Broadway show than a concert, and was interspersed with her ramblings and advice about life.

This is where it fell apart for me. Near the beginning of the show, she went on a rant about how it doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket (remember, this to a crowd of people who paid $100-200 to be at Lollapalooza), and you can be whoever you want to be, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something or that you aren’t good enough or aren’t pretty enough. This became a running theme for the evening, as she went on and on in between songs about how long it took her to get where she was and how no one believed in her. As a note of perspective, she was 23 when The Fame was released in 2008. Madonna was 24 when her debut single “Everybody” was released.

Maybe I’m just a cynical old person, and I can appreciate that there may be some people in the crowd who needed to hear words of inspiration from a pop star wearing a bikini, but it all seemed so forced. Was she looking for validation? There wasn’t one moment of the show, including her ramblings in between songs, that did not feel extensively choreographed and planned out, and she didn’t crack a smile all evening. She also screeched and swore a lot, and didn’t even look like she was having fun, which is what I enjoy in a concert. Why go on and on about this all evening? It actually ruined the show for me. I really wanted her to just shut up and sing, because that is what I paid for – not to hear advice on life. (It’s somewhat cute when a 24 year old claims to know it all about life; I was that way once, but now I know better.)

At one point, while rolling around on the ground, she stated that she hates the truth and would rather be fed a line of bullshit. I expected her to go on and explain why since this sounds like the kind of thing a 24 year old simply says to sound deeper than they really are, but then she dropped that line of thinking and stated that she “hates money.” I hate it when people say they hate money, particularly people who have a lot of it, and even more particularly when they are saying it to a group of people who have paid said hated money to watch them sing songs on a stage. If you hate money so much, then go back to living in your studio apartment in New York and playing tiny clubs. After awhile, none of us will miss you.

Her two favorite positions on the stage were on her back rolling around (why do female pop stars do this?), or standing on the piano bench with her ass in the air while playing the piano. She came out at one point in a costume designed to look like a nun’s habit, then rolled around on the stage some more to talk about how she believes Jesus loves the gays, and then on the screen we got a picture of an angel (I think) statue with blood rolling down it. Charming, and all of this caused a good portion of the crowd to leave. (In fact, about a half an hour into the show many more people than I would have expected left to go watch The Strokes play.)

My very least favorite part of the show (and the part that seemed the most desperate) was when she sang the song that goes “show me your teeth.” She’s clearly jumped on the vampire bandwagon which began in earnest with the Twilight series, because she wore a black bathing suit type outfit and had fake blood all over her chest, neck, and arms while she was singing. It wasn’t shocking or art, it was just gross. (Earlier on one of the side screens we had seen video of her dressed in white and eating what appeared to be a heart. Also very gross.) For someone who seems to try to force her uniqueness upon us, it was surprising to me that she went with the vampire schtick, which is already so played out. And then of course she had to sing Poker Face – the one song I wanted to hear – while wearing this get up. I couldn’t even look at her.

In all, I’m glad I saw her live, but in my opinion the show itself would have been better without all her excessive preaching, and also would've been better if she toned it down just a little bit. She’s an extremely talented singer – why is she hiding behind all these crazy costumes and attention seeking antics?

Update:  It struck me tonight, while watching Green Day perform, what ultimately bothered me about Gaga's performance, and that is this:  her performance was entirely about her.  She didn't care about the crowd or anyone who had come to see her.  It was all about her, and her struggles.  In sharp contrast, Green Day put on a show that was all about the crowd.  They brought people up on stage, interacted, and made it quite honestly one of the best live shows I've ever seen.  I'm not even a huge Green Day fan, but their show from beginning to end was awesome.  Better than Gaga.  And surprising or not, the crowd was a lot bigger than that for Gaga.  Go Green Day.  I can't even imagine how Soundgarden could possibly top their show.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How To Take a Deposition

Since I'm out on depositions this week, depositions are on my mind.  Particularly since I'm out with a fairly new associate who is getting one of her first opportunities to take deps.  It's funny, because these days the new associates walk in thinking that taking depositions is easy.  Well, it isn't.  And they learn that very quickly when they are on the spot in the chair and having to ask the questions.  What they don't realize is that the person sitting opposite them (the witness) does not want to answer their questions and has been prepped for hours not to answer their questions.  They also don't quite get that this is all recorded on a transcript, so when you are talking about "this" and pointing to a document, that kind of questioning is going to make no sense once you read the transcript, because the transcript will not tell you what is going on.  You have to know how to set up the record, and this takes practice.  You also have to know how to phrase your questions in order to get a good "nugget" to use in a brief.  All of this takes lots and lots of practice.  Yes, there are people who naturally excel at it, but generally for most people, it takes a lot of practice.

In discussing all of this with my associate this evening, I decided to write this post.  The first time you walk in to take a deposition it is frightening.  You don't know what is okay to do or say, you don't want to look like an idiot, you don't want to ask questions you don't know the answers to (which is all of them), you are afraid to push, you are afraid to challenge, and you are just generally afraid.  If you aren't afraid, you aren't human or you don't care.  If you don't care, you shouldn't be there.

Here's my advice:

1.  Make a list of goals of what you want to get out of the deposition.  Depending on who the witness is, your goals will vary.  Think about what part of your case you want to prove through this witness.  Focus on the issues of your case on which your client bears the burden of proof.  What can you get out of this witness?  This list should be maybe 5 general bullet points.  If you can't think of anything, then why are you deposing this person?

2.  Make an outline.  Depending on your style, your outline may be one page or may be 20 pages.  An outline helps to remind you what topics you want to cover.  The goal list also does this.  As you get more experienced, you will likely need less of a detailed outline.  If it is important to phrase questions in a certain way, think them through prior to the deposition and include those questions in your outline so you can read them directly.  Outlines also help if you go blank for a minute and don't know where to go next.  If you think this will never happen to you, you are crazy.  It happens to everyone.

3.  Remember that only your words are transcribed.  So, when you are asking questions about a document, be sure to state on the record the page of the document, the location of the information that you are asking about, and any other information that makes it very clear what you are referring to when you ask the question.  This is tedious, but necessary.

4.  If you need to, take 20 seconds and think about your question before you ask.  It's fine to take your time.  People get scared of silence, but do not let silence bother you.  You don't have to be firing question after question after question.  At times you will get on such a roll, but at times you won't.  Take your time and make sure your question is a good one.  Don't trail off, and always make sure that you are asking a question. 

5.  It's okay to be the stupid one at a deposition.  Don't assume, ask.  The whole purpose of a deposition is to find out information.  Don't take for granted the meanings of words that might make a difference to your case.  Ask the witness what they mean when they use the word "X" or "Y"?  Make sure you are all on the same page.  Sometimes being an idiot works in your favor because the witness may open up more.  If you don't understand any part of their answer, ask them to clarify..

6.  Make friends with the court reporter.  Seriously, don't be a jackass.

7.  Ignore objections from opposing counsel.  Don't let them get under your skin.  Sometimes constant objections mean you are asking good questions.  Other times it means you are asking really bad questions.  Occasionally, they might give a "vague" or "compound" type of objection, and based on that you may realize that you should probably rephrase.  Rephrase if you think they are right.  Don't rephrase if you think they aren't right.  Many attorneys will find some reason to object to every question you ask.  Just learn to tune them out.

8.  Ask whoever is the lead attorney on your case what you should order as far as transcripts.  They are super expensive, and you may not need a rough or expedited.  Make sure you ask before you order.

9.  Don't get married to your outline.  Allow yourself to flow along with how the testimony is going.  If you see a branch that might lead somewhere, follow it for awhile.  Ask questions.  That's what you are there to do. You never know where you might end up.

10.  On a related note to 9, listen carefully to the witness's answers.  Listen to what they are telling you.  I've seen attorneys who are clearly just reading through an outline of questions and they get and answer and move on to the next question without any follow up.  Follow up.  Ask for more information.  Use the words the witness uses when you follow up.  Listen.  Sometimes witnesses surprise you by what they share.

Well, that's ten.  I'll probably follow up with more. But honestly, taking a good deposition is such a skill.  Some attorneys are good at it, some attorneys are really bad at it.  Most of all, it takes a lot of practice.