No Workaholics Here

I don’t know how this whole ‘workaholism’ thing got to be so popular. It seems like a weird rationalization of unhealthy and unhappy behavior to me, but what do I know? I have times (like now) where I am lucky enough to have sufficient work (note I said “work,” not paying clients – these are two very different things) and am actually at the point where I am going to have to start turning down work. I do not feel comfortable taking on any new clients right now because I think I do not have any additional time to grant to new matters.

Apparently, this is contrary to how most lawyers operate. I am informed that you never turn down work and that you just keep taking new clients, even if you don’t have time to actually talk to them. That seems absurd. I suppose the thinking is that you hire staff and associates to talk take over. I have no desire to do that. Also, it could also be a matter of what kind of work I do. Unlike most solos, I don’t do criminal, or personal injury, or domestic (anymore, that is another story), or social security, or anything like that, so I don’t really have to run with a large client base. In other words, I have a very low-drama practice and I like it that way.

Could I keep taking clients and make a shit-ton of money? Probably. But there is no way in hell I want to do that. I already did the billable hour robot associate gig at several different firms and it is just not for me. I don’t know. Call me lazy, but I just don’t like being that busy or stressed. I am not a “workaholic.” And I personally don’t see the virtue in that. I mean, if you are a workaholic, more power to you, live long and prosper and whatnot, but don’t expect me to do the same. When I am spread too thin, it makes me anxious and I don’t enjoy ANYthing. And I don’t do a good job at anything.

So, in light of that, I am taking the day off to get caught up on family and house shit. Laundry, painting, mowing, raking, cooking, baking, etc.  God I am giddy with delight…

And for those of you who are working today, here is a little food pR0n to ease the pain:

Mile High Lemon MeringueWhat kind of pie is this, you ask?

IMG01143

Mile High Lemon Meringue

Why, it’s lemon meringue!

Palate Cleanser

I know, that was a LOT of Glenn Beck. Let’s cleanse our palate with a little recap of things I baked and cooked this last weekend.

Friday night I made butternut squash, chevre, and sage ravioli with brown butter sauce:

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Saturday, the baked potato soup and the parmesan breadsticks:

Parmesan Breadsticks

Parmesan Breadsticks

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Baked Potato Soup

There – now don’t you fell better?

Let’s Put the “Beck” Back in Christbeckmas…

Oh HELL yes – I totally know what what I am getting people for Christmas:

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It’s like the Vagina Monologues, except instead of empowering millions of women, it empowers Glenn Beck!

*First, the singing of the glorious music by people who are not Glenn Beck but have no doubt been touched by him.

Then Glenn Beck himself will ascend to the stage, surrounded by real life-living people whose lives he has touchingly touched and Glenn Beck will tell these lovingly touched real life-living people about the real life events that inspired him to write about the real life events of struggling and brink-bringing-back-from and the restoring and the whatnot.

Then there will also be the sharing of the overwhelming stories of people whose real lives have been literally changed and touched lovingly, redemption-wise, what with the bringing back of some of them from literal brinks and the restoring of the real-life family relationships and such as.  There will be the tellings of the struggles with the brink of collapse at the mouth of the abyss and how all were brought back to revisit the redemption by the life-changing impact of The Christmas Sweater’s message, which has been had on people all over the country.

Then, Glenn Beck will bestow a simple gift on all the real-life living sharing sharers which is the literal gift of showing you a re-mastered, lovingly retouched and literally exclusive version of The Christmas Sweater, which is not actually a sweater but an experience of the allegory of the struggles and redemption. Afterward, there will be even more of the literal introducing of the real life  livers who were literally touched by the re-telling of the retouched touching story and then you will be shared with the story as you experience their intimate journey of transformation through the simple gift of life-sharing brink-saving redemption. In closing, Glenn Beck will be touchingly love-lifted and touched by the literal premier voices of redemption and you may share in the simple gift of the watching Glenn Beck’s literal ascension to the heights of uplifting raisings and the rousers of the music.

This incredibly uplifting raising of the life-affirming literal brink-leaving of Glenn Beck celebration will be simulcast to HD movie theatres all over the country.  Join Glenn Beck and the life-living touchingly touched people he has literally touched for the next evolution of The Christmas Sweater and see for yourself why critics and audiences alike are heralding Glenn Beck as a new American classic. This is a once in a lifetime event, and a perfect way to celebrate the true meaning of Glenn Beck with your entire family from the comfort of your local movie theatre.

*This lovingly re-touched telling of the heralding of the story of how we all may experience the redemption of Glenn Beck was taken from the literal true places of selling the experience and then saved from the brink of the abyss of collapse with the heralding of touching.

Demand-A-Dish is BACK!

Okay, so I am in the mood for something warm and homey.  So tell me what to bake:

The Art of Argument, Part 1

I was just thinking how moving back south has really changed the way I analyze and put together an argument and that it actually may have changed how I argue and discuss issues more than law school and lawyering have.  Before I moved back here, I was always in fairly liberal settings, and never had to think about my argument’s structure from A to Z.  “X” was right and good and true and correct because I and everyone around me *knew* it to be so. However, since moving back here (well, and becoming a lawyer, which is really just trying to become a highly skilled arguer), I have had to learn how to discuss and explain and prove what, to me, just seems like obvious universal truths.

Why is it good to help out other people? Why is it bad to allow corporate profit to trump individual well-being? How can I believe that racism still exists when everyone says they are not racist? How can I say that christian ethics are not the most important quality in a candidate? Why do I think the military and military actions profit corporations at the cost of the middle and lower classes? Etc etc.

I also have to remember to always try to discuss my feelings and opinions in a neutral and civil tone, since most people around here and certainly most of my family are very conservative and very vocal in their opposition to everything I believe. I take great care to stick to the issues and facts, never say derogative things about a person, characterize my assertions in the most general terms possible, and talk ONLY about facts that I personally have verified. I also take care to ALWAYS find something to agree about, praise the person I am talking to for having a thoughtful opinion, and actually listen to what they are saying. I never jump on them when they throw out radically erroneous facts and I never demand they defend their assertions.

Though I am beginning to wonder why I bother, since (a) no one on the other side of these discussions ever notices and doesn’t appear to even be listening and (b) it certainly isn’t reciprocated.

At any given chance, these people will say utterly outrageous and just awful things about me, “liberals,” and the people I respect, support, admire, and work with/for.   Ad hominem stuff, things about their family. To my face, to me, as if this appropriate. If an issue comes up in conversation, and I, after carefully examining my words, voice an opinion, they will jump my shit, attack ME and deride my thinking and my sources and claim that I am attacking them, and that all (my “group”) just clearly hate (America, christianity, hardworking Americans, etc.).

None of these people ever take the time to think about how disrespectful or rude or unfair or ridiculous this is. Not once have they noticed the care and respect I show them and their opinions.  I NEVER would say such things to them about the people and issues they support and I NEVER criticize them personally, or deride their thoughts, or accuse them of being a part of a group/engaging in mind-think/being closeminded, etc. EVER. And I certainly would NEVER instigate a fight about politics with my parents right before they went in for a colonoscopy (yes, for real). And it just saddens me that they don’t even notice this.

And these are usually the same people that get deeply personally offended if I simply state an opinion on an issue with which they disagree. For example, relative X goes on and on about how terrible Michelle Obama is and how she has 22 personal servants while Laura Bush has 1 and Michelle Obama is costing us money and much money she spends on clothes and how she is pimping out her daughters to Gap and what an awful mother she is and is so fake and a bad American.

I then pointed out – correctly – that Laura Bush had between 15 and 19 members in her personal staff and that all First Ladies have had roughly the same number, the differences being dependent on how active the First Lady was AND whether or not there were minor children in the WH. For real, that is more or less verbatim what I said.

Relative X then jumps my shit for accusing Laura Bush of not doing anything and how dare I and how awful I and all the liberals are because we were always making fun of the Bush twins and talking about LB’s car accident and how disrespectful and how we are all about the First Amendment until someone says something we don’t like and at least LB was a “real” American.  And so forth. And somehow I was the bad actor in this “discussion.”

And like I said earlier, I am about to the point where I am DONE being the only one abiding by basic rules of decency and respect. Why should I worry so much about offending people that clearly don’t give a shit about my opinions and don’t even think twice about offending me?  I just don’t know how much more I can bite my tongue.  That is one of the reasons I started this blog, so I could work through some of my frustrations with this and perhaps let off some steam that I cannot vent around the people I love.

But for now, I think I am just going to have to leave the room the next time someone brings up politics.  Because if this doesn’t stop, I am going to have to leave the state.

The Luxury of Objection, Part 2

…Where was I? Yes, the Franken Amendment.  It didn’t rewrite any contracts. It didn’t invalidate any laws. It simply said, no government contracts (that is, none of my money and your money) to companies that force their employees to sign binding arbitration agreements in which the employee had to waive the right to sue on for claims of sexual assault, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, retention and supervision. For those of you that don’t know, the latter three are claims you would see when, say, an employer hires someone to be a delivery person who has 8 DUIs and then one day gets drunk and mows down a bunch of people while driving the company van.  The amendment also covers civil rights claims of workplace discrimination.

And, as most of us know, this Amendment comes in the wake of the the gang rape and false imprisonment of 19 year old Jamie Lee Jones. Who, though she may eventually be able to get redress in court, was forced into arbitration by her employer. Notably, DOD said they couldn’t prosecute the perpetrators because of the arbitration provisions.

The way I see it is that there are 3 groups of people who have some legitimate interest in this legislation. First, women. Women specifically who work in these positions have very damn obvious safety and security issues vested, as well as Constitutional rights against discrimination and, well, the right to not get raped and/or the power to bring suit against those who are responsible for the rape (and please, don’t give me a bunch of shit about why should the employer be responsible for rape. They are, and if you have a problem with that, maybe you should work for Halliburton).  Women in general also have vested liberty and property interests in this bill, as the arbitration provisions are clearly discriminatory in effect and it would really be nice to know that Congress gives a fuck about this and is sending a message to employers that this shit is NOT okay.

Who else has a dog in this fight? Businesses. Businesses have financial interests in this bill because, as I mentioned above, businesses like arbitration because, long story short, it puts/leaves more money in their pockets. Who else? Legislators, obviously, have professional (non-personal) interests involved. Likewise, legal professionals have indirect and personally neutral interests at play, because they practice in these areas and need to know the laws, but unless they are females or own/run businesses in addition to the lawyering, they don’t have vested personal interests. And I am sure there are probably some more folks with indirect and non-personal interests in this bill, but you get my point. While women, businesses, legislators, and lawyers certainly constitute a large number of folks, there are still a LOT of people that do not truly have any actual interest in this bill.

Which FINALLY brings me to my point. If you don’t have a direct and personal interest in this bill – specifically, if you are not a person whose rights are directly impacted by this sort of shit – how absolutely lucky you are. Do you realize how nice it would be to just be able to go to work and live your life, without having to worry about all the “other” shit?

How awesome is it to know that you will get hired when you are qualified?  To get paid more than other people doing the same work? How great to know that if you just do your job, you will be a valued employee and get raises and promotions based on your merit, and will mentored and will move up the ladder quickly. You will always be invited to events with the bosses, no one will make crude jokes about you to your clients or your co-workers, and you don’t have to worry about getting raped on the job.

I am not saying you don’t deserve this – hell, we all deserve this. No one is trying to take anything away from you.

I am just saying that having a little care for those who are NOT so lucky might be the decent thing to do.  When you form an opinion on an issue that directly affects the rights of other people, and does not do ANYthing to threaten your own well-insulated rights, at least take the time to learn about the situation. Because, you see, while you have the luxury to sit back and pontificate on the “abstracts” of these issues, many people do not.  These people are ACTUALLY affected by your opinion.  Really, truly, fucked-up affected by it.  You – your opinions and your votes – can either take things away from REAL people or keep them out of their reach, or you can help them get the actual, substantive meaningful rights THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.

This isn’t just-sittin-around-havin-a-beer-and-talkin-smart about nebulous potentials. What you say and think and talk about and vote for affects other people. If you have taken the time to educate yourself on the matter, and still feel – for whatever reason – that you must come down on the other side, then that is certainly your right. But know that you have the luxury to think about such things as semantics, sub-contractors, trial attorney rates, and a whole host of other nitpicky, substantively meaningless things because YOU don’t have to worry about getting sexually harassed or raped at work.

And it costs you NOTHING to share this luxury with everyone.

The Luxury of Objection, Part 1

So, I have been thinking a lot about the Franken Amendment.  More specifically, I have been thinking about the people that oppose it. Not just those that voted against it and the DoD, but also the general citizenry who believe that this Bill should not be passed. And yeah, I know that followers of Hannity don’t necessarily represent the “general citizenry,” but they seem to do a fine job of representing the people that have decided it is absolutely necessary that they oppose the bill. Because this exemplifies something that greatly confounds me.

So, the Franken Amendment, for those of you that don’t really know, is a policy mandate that would prohibit DoD from entering into contracts with companies that require their employees to sign some pretty major arbitration agreements.  An arbitration agreement, for those of you that don’t know, is a contract between an employer and an employee wherein the employee agrees that in the event that something happens to them while they are in the active employ of their employer, employee agrees to waive his/her rights to sue employer and instead agrees to submit to binding arbitration.

Arbitration, for those of you that don’t know, is a non-judicial process where A and B meet with an arbitrator, who reviews the situation and enters a final and legally binding decision.  That is it – the end. No review, no appeal, no day in court, no jury, no accountability, no press, no right to discuss, no ability for judicial execution and enforcement, and no publicity.  But, despite what some of the tools in Congress are saying, this doesn’t mean ‘no lawyers.’  It also doesn’t mean it is less expensive.

And let me break it on down for you a little further. No matter how much people spin this, it is EMPLOYER-FRIENDLY. Yeah, it may have some benefits for the employee, but it is SO SO SO much better for employer than actual court, while actual court would almost always be better for the employee. Employers use these agreements to effective limit/remove their liability for everything from discrimination claims to assault.  If you think these are a good thing for employees and just a nice service that employers offer (how it is often spun to employees) then ask yourself this – why are employers so hot to get their workers to sign them? Because it is BETTER for the employer and WORSE for the employee.

So, you may ask, why in the HELL would an employee sign such a thing? Well, it isn’t like they have a choice. If they are not required to sign one at hiring, chances are at some point they will have one presented to them and will be given the hard sell on why they are so awesome for employees and how nice the employer is to provide such a service, and how they don’t have to sign, but if they want to keep working, they will need to sign it.  And meanwhile, employer is shitting bricks waiting to make sure that the pregnant woman signs it so that they can tell her they cut her pay.

But so what, you say, if you don’t like it, then find another job.  Really? Fuck you. If the Constitution gives us the right to seek legal redress, and Congress has given us a framework of laws and regulations to protect us, the why in the hell is it okay for an employer to effectively force you to waive all of that? It isn’t. But so long as anti-employee groups like the Chamber of Commerce are around and pouring money into the political coffers, Congress and the courts will allow these things. But I digress…

Delayed Demand-A-Dish

This week’s Demand-A-Dish will be delayed ’til Monday/Tuesday on account of I will be useless until then. I would really like to do something new and fun, but need some ideas.  What do YOU think would be fun to make? Comment away and give me some ideas…

Mmmm...souffles.

Mmmm...souffles.

Motivational Pasties

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I have not been keeping up with my shit lately.  But you know what? I have been pretty damn swamped with the lawyerin’ lately. Which is a good thing, considering I have a family to co-support and a bad thing, considering that the lawyerin’ sometimes most of the time makes me feel spiritually void and occasionally physically ill.  However, in the last couple of weeks I have got to do some of the lawyery stuff that I really like – namely, estate planning, appellate work, and pro bono stuff for people who really really need it.  So that part was good, but of course was mixed with a very heaping helping of crazy shit and the useless time-sucking procedural and handling crap that constitutes about 87% of what I do.  Specifically, straightening out other people’s fuck-ups because they didn’t listen to me and tried to do shit on their own, talking down hysterical and overly-emotional clients, and trying to figure out exactly how in the HELL I am supposed to draft/file/move for yet another novel thing in a yet another court I haven’t been in before.  As for the bad shit, I can’t force people to listen to me, other than dumping them as clients when they fuck shit up beyond repair and do things I have specifically told them NOT TO EVER DO. On the handling issue, I could avoid most of this if I would just quit giving clients my cell phone number. But I can’t realistically do that.  Likewise the procedural crap.  Sigh.  So anyhow…

It is could as hell outside – not your typical MegaChurch gays and liberals hell, but your old school, 9th Circle kind of hell. And I really really need to do some yardwork, or at least get rid of the scary looking tomato plants that finally succumbed to blight and creepy nasty bugs. So, I am thinking that I will bribe myself into getting off my ass and getting some shit done with the promise of some comfort food for dinner. SO, I believe I will be making pasties, possibly with lamb and gruyere, and some skillet potatoes for dinner.  That should get me (and possibly some able-bodied family members) up and moving.

tatos

tatos

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe

Here is my recipe for Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage, adapted the original, which you can find on Epicurious.com.

 

These dumplings have a light texture, thanks to the addition of fresh ricotta cheese. Drain the ricotta in a sieve for two hours before starting the recipe.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

 

2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork

1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsalted butter

About 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

 

 

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.

 

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.  I froze half for later enjoyment; which still left enough to feed at least four hungry people.

 

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

 

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.

 

Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.  Add gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. 

 

Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage, October 2009

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage, October 2009

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