Saturday, December 30, 2006

Technology Overload

Yesterday I found out I was getting a DVD with multiple thousands of documents scanned on it. When I bought my current office computer about four years ago, I skimped on two things. The RAM (do they still call it that?) is 256k. That has worked out OK since all I do on the computer is create and edit documents, get and send Emails and surf and research on line. Until yesterday, not getting the, then fairly new, option of a DVD player/burner wasn't a problem.

When I was buying the player/burner, I realized I was out of USB ports on the tower; so, I had to buy a hub.

Surrounding me on the desk, floor and credenza are the DVD device, its various wires,cables, the USB hub with its spagetti and styrofoam, plastic and cardboard detrious from both electronic pieces. I forgot the twist ties.

Various parts of both devices are plugged into each other, the walls and other devices. Having not thought through the process, I am at an impass. I am out of electricity. I have four outlets in the office. One is useless because I covered it with book shelves. Another is useless because it is on an exterior wall and not near anything electrical. Two are now full up, one of which has a powerstrip plugged into it. Until I go get another powerstip, technology is on hold. Rather than do a paragraph or two on the charms of dial telephones and mimeograph machines, I'm off to Target.

Friday, December 29, 2006

There's A Fine Line

between done and over-done.

I usually cook dinner, such as it is. It can range from a sandwich to a real meal. A couple of weeks ago I decided I was going to make potato pancakes. The problem was my only exposure to the process was many many years ago, not really watching my mother make them.

When I asked friends about it they mostly said it was kind of like making hash browns. Did you know if you type the words potato pancakes into Google it returns "about 1,380,00 English pages" for the two words "(in .20 seconds)"? The first result is It has 12 pages containing 395 recipes. They boil down to the following. Finely grate potatoes. Press liquid out of them. Lightly beat eggs. Add salt and pepper to egg mixture "to taste." (As an aside, what kind of instruction is that? You can't taste it till you're done.) Add flour to mixture. Combine with potatoes. Mix well. Plop a spoon-full into oil in pan. Fry till done. This recipe also results in latkes. Who'd of known?

Tasting at the end uncovered the fact that they were a bit under-done and needed a bit more frying. Add sour cream and applesauce. Pretty good.

Last weekend, I decided to make home fries, without the aid of Google. I cubed potatoes. Added salt and pepper. Threw them in oil in a pan. I tossed the cubes as they spit oil at me. Given my lack of cooking skill, after tasting a cube which turned out to be under-done, I kept frying, just past the point I should have. Lucky for me, I fried two small potatoes and picked out and ate the cubes that I hadn't over done. Not cost effective but serviceable cooking.

You're looking for the moral of this story aren't you? Well, under-do what you're doing. It's correctable. When I'm in lawyer mode, there's a temptation to ask that one last question. I'm much better off when I don't do it. When I'm playing golf, I'm better if I don't over swing. When I'm writing a post, going for that irresistible turn of phrase that takes it over the top is not a good idea.

My motto for 2007 - under-do.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Help Wanted

I read the ingredients listed on food packages. Not because I am concerned about health or have an allergy to peanuts. Because they are there and, at that particular moment, I have nothing else to read.

Rarely, I'll not read at night for an hour or so before bed. But usually, I have three or four books in line for reading.

Lately, I've been on a jag. Reading to exclusion of doing things that I should be doing. To the exclusion of doing anything else. I realized that I only have one book waiting in line.

I went to my local used book store late last week. I walked out without getting anything. I went on Amazon yesterday. I couldn't find anything that I had not read and actually wanted to read. This just doesn't happen.

So, your help is wanted. Give me titles. Give me authors. Skip the overly-serious. I do serious for a living. I've read the masters both classic and modern. Think Richard Russo. John Irving. Enlighten me. Entertain me. If you have a book that made you stop and re-read sentences or paragraphs to savor them, I want to know.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rainy Night In Georgia

Under a drizzling sky in Atlanta, I hope you, your family and your friends enjoy a very merry Christmas and rewarding blogging in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

There's A Sucker Born...

My political views are informed (skewed?) usually by two competing mindsets.

I grew up in a conservative household. We went to church where there was a God of Fire who pointed you to a Saviour who, despite your basic cussedness, could redeem you. I took away the thought that people were basically bad and needed rules to follow and some one or thing to enforce the rules. Mix in my parents' Depression era, big government backround influencing me and you have government as your rule giver and enforcer to protect us from ourselves.

Then I read Heinlein, Rand, and others, discovering the charm of the rugged individualist. In the books, unfettered by messy reality, the individualist prevailed against the collective. We were all good. Rules and Rulers should be kept to a minimum.

Yesterday morning I had to drive south of Atlanta to McDonough in Henry County, Georgia for a hearing on a motion. Nice little town with a square on which the Courthouse sat. Gridlocked traffic for a mile around the square evidenced McDonough's inclusion in Metro Atlanta's problems.

In Georgia courts, motions are heard by the Judge on periodic "non-jury trial calendars." Anything and everything that doesn't involve a jury appears on these cattle-call mornings. As a result of my attendance at these events over the years, I am fully qualified to practice all kinds of law that I wouldn't touch on my worst day. Divorce, restraining orders, arraignments for non-payment of child support. I once saw a guy banished from all counties in Georgia but one (a fascinating Georgia practice for discussion in another post).

Yesterday, though my case was in the second position, I wasn't excused until about an hour and a half into the session. While there, I saw five hearings on motions to "Confirm Settlement." In Georgia in some cases, when a person gets a structured settlement (payout over time) of a judgment, the settlement has to be approved by a judge. Any change to the settlement later also has to be approved. These people had "sold" their income streams under the settlements to an investor. Kind of like taking an annuity when you win the lottery and selling it, after another discount for a lump sum later.

But here's the twist.

The amounts they were getting for their annuities ranged from a high of 75% to a low of 20% of the current, already discounted, present value. Without laying out all the math, this is a terrible deal. The people doing it were stupid. They needed someone to beat up the side of their head and knock some sense into them.

Instead, in turn, they marched up to the podium in front of the Judge with the lawyer who represented the investor buying the annuity. The lawyer asked them "questions." Did you read the agreement. Of course they did. Did you understand the agreement. Ditto. Did you consult with a lawyer or understand that you have a right to consult with a lawyer and decided not to. Why yes, I did. Is that your signature on the agreement. Yep.

The Judge then asked them two questions. What is your educational backround? It ranged from GED to college degree. Do you have any mental problems? None admitted to any.

The Judge then signed the Consent Order and wished them luck. Yes, to each he said "good luck."

So, am I P.T. Barnum, with a smile pointing them to the "egress" and wishing them luck like the Judge? Or Heinlein, Rand or anyone of a bunch of current talk show hosts? Or, do I lobby for laws to protect the idiots? If so, what kind of laws?

I got in my car, shaking my head, and drove back to the City.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Big Lie

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided Swift & Co. plants in six states, arresting a bit over 1,200 people this week after a ten month investigation.

The Company was aware of the impending raids and sought an injunction against them saying they would cause "substantial and irreparable injury." It said that the raid would remove up to 40% of its 13,000 workers.

After the raid Swift & Co. president Sam Rovit said that the Company has never knowingly hired illegal workers.

My considered legal opinion: Liar Liar, Pants on Fire.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

FOX IS Fair and Balanced - It Reports, We Decide

Last night FOX News, during Brit Humes' segment, reported two stories that caught my eye.

FOX reported that President Bush will not speak to the Nation before Christmas as previously thought. He will rather wait until the first of the year to unveil his plans in Iraq so as to give him more time for more input. Coupled with this announcement, it was reported that there may be a 20,000 troop increase in Baghdad.

Straight forward reporting. Fair in my eyes. Took about 2 or 3 minutes.

Before, during and after this segment, FOX teased a story about a shocking announcement by Angelina Jolie. When the segment finally aired, I learned that Jolie has met Jennifer Aniston! Moreover, Jolie would like to have a "long sit-down" with Aniston to talk about Brad Pitt!!! (There are three exclamation points used to reflect the tone of FOX's revelation.)

Again straight forward, albeit hard hitting reportage. Quite fair to all three of the stars. Again, not counting the teaser time, it took 2 or 3 minutes.

Those folks at Fox live up to their tag lines!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The More Things Change...

"Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them." Ben Franklin, 1751, as quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 11, 2006.

Cherokee County, Georgia is about 35 miles North of the City of Atlanta. It is one of the newest bedroom communities in Metro Atlanta and suffers all the woes associated with that status. Schools, roads, sewers are needed. Long time residents clash with the city refugees building McMansions on what was pasture land when their taxes rise to pay for new infrastructure.

Over the past month the old and new guards have put aside their differences to focus on what is really important, attacking the "damn Mexicans." (In North Georgia all Hispanic people, if referred to derogatorily, are Mexicans. Guatemalan just doesn't roll off the tongue. And they all look alike you know.) The County Commission has enacted two ordinances. First, it is now a crime for a landlord to rent to anyone who hasn't proved that they are a citizen or have resident alien status. Second, the County cannot spend any money to communicate to anyone in a foreign language unless the communication is mandated by state or federal law or is regarding a major government function: education, courts and health care. Both measures are largely symbolic given facts on the ground. Most rental units in the County are in its two cities, Canton and Woodstock, neither of which is bound by the County ordinance. Most government communication in foreign languages is the result of state or federal laws or involves education, courts or health care.

Cherokee's message to Mexicans by passage of the ordinances seems to be "you're welcome to plant and harvest our fields. Framing, drywalling and landscaping McMansions is OK too. You can maintain what you build. But make sure you're out of town by sundown. Oh, while you're here, keep your mouth shut. None of that jibber-jabber allowed among the polite folk in the County."

There's of course nothing new here as demonstrated by the quote of one of our Founding Fathers at the top of the post. African slaves, Irish potato famine refugees, Chinese railroad laborers, Okies, southern migrants in northern factories during World War II. They are all "Mexicans" to those that get somewhere first.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jane, You Ignorant Slut

Dueling political commentators got their start before Saturday Night Live. Dan Ackroyd (or was it Chevy Chase?) and Jane Curtin parodied James Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander who took rightist and leftist views on a news topic in a 60 Minutes segment called "Point/Counterpoint" which began in 1970. As I recall the feature, it was pretty civilized.

Firing Line, hosted by William F. Buckley, Jr., began a year earlier. It more closely resembled a traditional debate. More than civilized, it was the definition of urbane. The show was best watched with an open copy of the Oxford English Dictionary on the coffee table given Mr. Buckley's vocabulary.

Civility gave way to free-for-all with Crossfire on CNN in 1982. Original conservative host Pat Buchanan yelled at, interupted and talked over liberal host Tom Braden, who returned the invective.

With the advent of cable and its 24 hour appetite, talking heads from remote locations vie with the hosts on all the channels to see who can be the most abusive and derisive. FOX News' Hannity and Colmes, is typical of the breed. On occassion, by accident, a fact is spoken or an objective opinion is aired.

I think it all started going wrong about midnight on a Saturday in the 70's with the use of the modifier ignorant slut. Someone in a news department realized you could entertain viewers with adjectives. News and discourse became by-products.

To steal a phrase, I have a modest proposal. News talk shows should declare a modifier free week. No adjectives. No perjorative language. The speaker gets to finish what he or she is saying. Questioners must ask a real question rather than pontificating their viewpoint. The person answering a question must actually answer it, rather than using it as an invitation to say whatever it is that they want to say. All shows would be on tape delay. An objectivity censor in the engineering booth would bleep all offenses. A month or so of this might be necessary for the players to get the rules down. Early on, the entertainment would be in trying to read people's lips during the bleeps.

Or, we could get the old Not Ready For Prime Time Players to host the news talk shows. They'd show 'em how to do it right.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Borrower Beware

If you carry a balance on your credit card account from month to month, you might be interested in this new way banks have devised to separate you from your money:

I have friend who is a lawyer for a federal agency that deals with banks. He said that Bank of America has changed the way it calculates the "average daily balance" upon which it charges you interest.

The old less expensive way was, in simple terms, to add the daily balances each day in the billing period and divide by the number of days in the period. You paid interest on the result.

BOA now averages two billing periods rather than one. This change means you will pay more interest. An example:

On the first day of your billing period you buy $1,000.00 worth of stuff on credit. When the bill comes you pay $500.00 of the $1,000.00 you owe. Under the old calculation, you would pay interest the next month on the $500.00 balance in the new billing period (500 x 30 = 15,000/30 = 500). But now, BOA goes back sixty days. You pay interest not on the $500.00 you averaged as a balance in the new month, but on the average balance for two months which is $1,250 (1,000 x 30 + 500 x 30 = 75,000/60 = 1,250). If your card has an interest rate of 10%, this works out to $7.50 more in interest over the two month period. BOA is charging you interest on money you have already paid back to it.

According to my friend the fed, as long as the bank "discloses" this (the mice type you don't read) it is legal.

Special for Moral Turpitude

MT - Here it is with poor quality. But here none-the-less. For the rest of you, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution has an item on Sundays that talks about the Web. It highlighted a blog called By the Seat of My Skirt this week. Check it out, it's link is to the right under Recommended.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Can You Go Home Again?

I remember lying on the floor next to our Christmas tree when I was five or six. The main ornament for the tree was a collection of colored balls. Red, green, gold, blue, silver. Though I don't remember the specifics of the daydream, the balls were planets which I visited. Whatever the daydream, it was vivid, intensely pleasing.

The next year, I laid down next to the tree, beckoning the experience. At the time, I am sure I remembered the specifics of the daydream; but, I could not conjure the vividness, the pleasure. It was one of my earliest disappointing experiences.

I grew up Lutheran. Each Christmas season we went to Wednesday Advent services. At the end of the services, the main lights in the church were turned off and the congregation sang Abide With Me a cappella. I anticipated that moment all week. I heard the song recently. Though the feeling returned, it was not as intense. Again disappointment.

Thomas Wolfe wrote Look Homeward Angel. I read it in college and was taken by his language, the story and the characters. Some years later, I re-read it. It obviously hadn't changed; but, the book did not deliver the anticipated transportment. I brought a different viewpoint to it and could not recreate my first experience.

Can you duplicate specific pleasure? From my experience, no. But, we try to. We all take pictures when on vacation and pull them out to reminisce. We sit with family and friends - "Do you remember when….?" Should we? Why not. As long as we don't close ourselves to new experience, remembering past pleasure for its own sake seems, well, pleasurable. I just have to remember not to judge the recollection against the original and find it wanting.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Newly Recommended

Try R World at

Mostly serious stuff. Some interesting takes on a variety of subjects.

Killing By Any Other Name

As I start this post, I'm not sure if I am going to attack the Administration, the Media or both.

The Media is agog at NBC's announcement that "[a]fter careful consideration [it] has decided a change in terminology is warranted." Henceforth, whatever is going on in Iraq will be called a "civil war" by NBC.

Tony Snow says, not so fast, what we have is "sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences and also destabilizing a democracy, which is different from civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy."

President Bush: "[W]e've been in this phase for a while....It's tough, no question about it." In his opinion, it was "sectarian violence" by people seeking reprisal for attacks by al-Qa'eda. Poor aim by those people.

Ok. Now we have it straight. If the Sunnis and Shiia were slugging it out (which last I heard, they were) for supremacy (which I thought was their purpose) and for territory, rather than mis-guided reprisal against the wrong people, we would have ourselves a civil war. No battles for territory, no civil war. Nope, what you got is your garden-variety sectarian violence. Been there. Done that. Just something we have to expect in "this phase." It's tough. Yeah, your killing always is.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Annoying Add-ons

I travelled to the not so frigid north for Thanksgiving. I was happy to see that they still have stars in the sky out in the country.

When I got back to Atlanta I had to bail my car out of the off-airport parking lot. The bill came to $31.00 which seemed to be an odd amount since the lot doesn't have hourly charges - if you park over 24 hours you pay for the full next day.

When I got home and looked at the receipt, I found out that I had the privilege of paying a $1.00 "fuel surcharge." I guess it makes some sense given the fleet of shuttle buses eating gas; but, it's still annoying.

A year or so ago I got hit with a daily $1.15 "security fee" at a Myrtle Beach La Quinta. When I asked the clerk what that was for I was told it was for the safe that I didn't know was in my room.

This spring I went to Tucson for a weekend of golf at Loews Ventana Ranch Resort. Each day I was charged $12.00 for "resort services."

A number of years ago there was a steak place in Atlanta that gave the customer the task of grilling their own steak. If you wanted the steak delivered to your table ready to eat, they charged an extra $2.00.

I'm waiting for McDonalds to add a quarter to the price of a Big Mac for "wrapping services."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tryptophan and Thanksgiving


"Does turkey contain a natural sedative that makes you feel sleepy after eating a lot of it?

In this instance, lore almost intersects with science. Turkey does contain tryptophan, an amino acid which is a natural sedative. But tryptophan doesn't act on the brain unless it is taken on an empty stomach with no protein present, and the amount gobbled even during a holiday feast is generally too small to have an appreciable effect.

That lazy, lethargic feeling so many are overcome by at the conclusion of a festive season meal is most likely due to the combination drinking alcohol,...overeating a [solid-food] carbohydrate-rich repast, [and] increased blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract."

I have been to many Thanksgiving family feasts over the years. With or without the aid of Tryptophan, they invoke a warm, lazy, comfortable memory.

In the early years they rotated among my parents', an uncle's and an aunt's house. In the pecking order of cousins and brothers I was mid-level. Four older, two younger, plus my two younger brothers. In my childhood and teen years I never graduated to the big people table. There were just too many people with seniority.

Just before family started arriving, or just before we got to the relatives' house, my father would lecture us on proper behavior. In my young world there was no functional difference between a father or mother and an aunt or uncle. Any adult trumped any child. Woe to the child that didn't understand that. We were not to run, there was no yelling. You could not ask for anything. If offered, you could say yes. As a sullen teen I fantasized during the lecture, still given for the benefit of my younger brothers, about the permissability of asking for emergency life-saving treatment if I had a run-in with the carving knife.

While sitting on the front porch, a cousin taught me to tie my shoes on Thanksgiving Day. I went to my first non-drive-in movie, The Old Man and the Sea, on Thanksgiving day. I was introduced to the wonders of Kool Whip (the look on my mother's face told me all I needed to know about asking my Aunt for another dollop). White meat turkey slices with salt and mayo on white bread (a starch source I have out-grown) and cold stuffing, mid-evening is actually better than the feast during the day. Choking down a teaspoon of yellow or green Jello with stuff in it is an acceptable price for the rest of the day, though no one should have to eat canned cranberry sauce.

My generation is somewhat scattered over the Country. Me in Atlanta. A brother in Phoenix. A cousin in Florida. My youngest brother and some of my cousins are still close enough to each other to carry on the tradition.

My last family feast was in 1999 when I traveled not for the holiday but to attend my mother's funeral a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was held that year at one of my cousin's son's house. Tradition was turning full circle. My brothers had daughters. They had cousins. I was disappointed to see that the kids were not at card tables. Long tables had been borrowed from the church and everyone sat together. At least I got to sit at the big people table.

I'm going back this year to my youngest brother's house. There are a few more kids and no more of the original generation. I plan on eating dark meat, lots of mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie. I'm going to dollop on all the Kool Whip I want, which won't be much. I am not going to eat any Jello or cranberries, sauce or whole. I plan on smiling more than I did when I was sullen teen.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This Guy Can Write

Surfing blogs results in a lot more chaff than wheat. Here's a whole acre of wheat:

The name of the blog is Niagaran Pebbles. Well worth your time.

Me and My Computer

Back in the mid-eighties I bought my first computer, an Osborne, one of the first "portables." It was about the size of an overnight suitcase. It had a four inch screen and two 64k floppy drives. It was loaded with WordStar, dBase III, SuperCalc and Space Invaders.

One day I had composed a letter and told the computer to tell the printer (dot matrix) to print it. It did; but, it added a little gift. On the bottom right of the page it printed an *. I went back to the file. There was no asterick on the screen. I printed again. My letter with its asterick printed out.

I did a lot of things, none of which got rid of my new friend. I resorted to reading the manual. No luck.

Finally, I moved the cursor to the right of my name on the screen and hit enter maybe ten times. I printed the letter and it and the asterisk appeared; but, now the little bugger was safely by itself on a second sheet of paper. Mission accomplished.

I have upgraded my computer equipment substantially since then. My current system cost less than a third of what I paid for the Osborne and has what, a million times the capacity?

Yesterday, I was doing some research on-line. I told the computer to tell the printer to print a .pdf file I had found on a website. The computer and/or the printer decided that the old way of fulfilling my wish was boring. They decided to involve a friend of theirs.

A couple of months ago I bought a scanner. A wonderful invention. Mine, a Xerox Documate 510, comes with Paperport software which apparently had been cozying up to Windows and the HP printer software since it had moved in.

The three of them got together and decided that Windows would hand off the print job not to HP as it had been doing for the three and a half years I've had this system. Yesterday morning Windows woke up Paperport. Paperport stretched and "scanned" the .pdf file into its temporary file. There was my .pdf on the screen.

I asked Windows again to print the .pdf file which was still in my browser. Paperport, now awake, quite quickly told me the .pdf was resident in its temporary memory, why should it scan it again? What to do, what to do?

I hit "file" in Paperport. The drop down menu, like most others, had a print option, which I exercised. Pleased, Paperport told Windows to display a print dialogue box, just like it had been doing for the last three and a half years. I hit the print button. HP printed my .pdf.

Not having time to mess with the new division of labor established by my software friends, I continued working. A bit later, I need to print another file from the Web. Same result. Windows woke up Paperport, .....

Last night I got to thinking about the new full employment plan my software had enacted and remembered my problem with the asterisk.

This morning, I enlisted the aid of another piece of software. I called up Windows' Wayback Machine. You may know it as System Restore. I told it to go way back to Sunday.

System Restore then restarted the computer. I told Windows to print a web page. It left Paperport snoozing and got HP on the job, nicely printing the web page.

Somethings don't change.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Greeting Protocol

Walmart has announced that it will use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in its advertising this year. Though I can't verify it, I heard a caller on a radio talk show say that the leader of some group had decried this position as violating constitutional separation of church and state doctrine (this makes some sense as I recently read that Walmart is the fifth largest exporter of Chinese goods, with those above it on the list being countries).

Sovereignty aside, the following is my proposed protocol (who would have thought one was needed till recently) for year end greetings:

"Merry Christmas" to those I know to be Christian.

"Happy Hanukkah" to those I know to be Jewish.

"Happy Kwanza," actually, I've never said this though I probably would if I knew someone who would appreciate it or would be offended by another greeting.

"Happy Holidays" to everyone else.

On second thought, I'll probably avoid using any of these phrases and go with my usual "hey" or "what's up" upon seeing someone and "see ya," "take care" or "later" when departing.

And to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving and an early Happy New Year!

Friday, November 10, 2006

I've Been Linked

The pressure is on. While definitely not working, I went to to find that two, if I may say, fine bloggers have linked to me.

For a good time try: (distinctly styled, somewhat oddly structured posts that often loop within themselves to make a point) (the continuing saga of a group of wayward wastebaskets)

While I'm at it, I also recommend: (mostly political, well written) (usually pithy one panel cartoons) (irreverent, twenty-something, usually funny) (adult-themed stripper stories as vehicle for pretty good writing)


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Which Lie Is Worse?

"I did not sleep with that woman."

"[T]hey're going to stay on."

President Clinton went on to quibble about the meaning of the word "is."

President Bush yesterday was much more forthcoming when he announced Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation: "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and get you to move on to another question was to give you that answer."

Both Presidents lied for political gain. Clinton, to hide his sexual escapades which would not have gone over very well in the heartland. Bush, in an inept attempt to save Republican seats in the House and Senate.

So, is either lie worse? Are they equally culpable?

I hate when people lie. I'm not talking about "Oh, what a beautiful baby." I am talking about a lie that is intended to deceive the listener for the benefit of the liar (though I know at a low level my example of a benign lie does that).

From a practical point of view, for the most part, lying is counter-productive. I 'm a lawyer. Most people are not very good at lying. Try this. Ask a person you think isn't telling the truth the same question three different ways. Only a consummate liar won't trip themselves up. In a trial I love for an adverse witness to lie. When the witness is found out, it is very damaging in the eyes of the judge and jury. Lying to friends and family creates distrust, cheapening and eroding the relationship.

Don't lie. If you must, do it well. Or, follow the advise of Henry Ford (I think the Second): Never complain, never explain.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blog Surfing Tip

Though Blogger/Blogspot (I've never figured out why there are two domain names) has tons of blogs to randomly surf, the incidence of quality blogs per click of the Next Blog icon is awfully low, especially given my inability to read foreign languages, other than Spanish at a snail's pace.

I have discovered It is at heart a blog link exchange. Downside: it is non-intuitive, clunky and it doesn't follow through, at least so far, on its promise to refer a surfer to your blog for each blog you surf on it. Upside: more of the blogs you are sent to randomly are pretty good.

I have surfed on it a couple of times over the last week and found four or five blogs worthy of my blog favorites list. It's worth a try.


Having scanned the title, and given the date of this post, you think it will be about yesterday's elections. Nope.

A friend's grandmother died on Saturday. Another friend's father died yesterday.

Both people were in their late eighties. That predicates the cliche that they led long and full lives. From all I know, that is true. Both were members of the shrinking "great generation." One was a World War II naval veteran. The other was the wife of a WWII naval veteran. One left a spouse. The other has gone to join a spouse. Both left large, extended families.

To mark the first passing, I and friends sent flowers. For the second, contributions to a church's building fund were requested. Now I go back to my life. My friends, more slowly, return to theirs.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fair and Balanced?

I've had an idea for a post for a while and decided to do some research last night.

For the most part, I can't stand watching either the CNN or Fox evening news shows as both don't seem to me to be "fair and balanced." Each tends to spin a lot of the news their own way.

So, last night I started watching both at 6:00 p.m. I switched between them when a commercial came on. I didn't count bias when commentary was clearly being presented, only when it was shown by an anchor or reporter.

Here are my notes:

CNN reporter: "out of control corporate interest" in story about minimum wage debate.

Lou Dobbs (CNN): "anti-Republican sentiment running wild" when describing Senate race in Ohio.

Dobbs: "with as much integrity as can be managed" referring to election workers in Ohio when talking about a piece on problems with electronic voting.

Dobbs: "we wish the Nation the best" in a sarcastic tone when wrapping up the electronic voting story.

All of these quotes came in the first 45 minutes of the 6:00 p.m. CNN news show. I couldn't find any bias during the same period on Fox (Britt Hume).

I decided that changing at the commercials might have resulted in me watching more CNN than Fox, so I stayed on Fox for the rest of the hour. No bias; but, most of the time was devoted to Fox's "Panel" giving commentary on various issues.

At 7:00 p.m. Wolf Blitzer came on CNN and Sheppard Smith took over on Fox. I lasted another half hour and found only one marginally biased statement on Fox by Smith: "this election is about the GOP holding ground rather than gaining."

Asides: Jack Cafferty on CNN is quite biased but also quite funny. I saw Al Gore on Fox, he's getting a little fat.

The research is admittedly not objective or scientific; but, my current conclusion is that Lou Dobbs is a biased, bitter non-journalist.

Next step, O'Reilly and Hannity and Colmes. I figure they will even out with Dobbs.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wedding Blues

I went to a wedding this weekend. Twice.

Saturday, I went to the office for awhile, met a friend for golf and stopped off with him for a drink. Had to leave early to get ready for the wedding.

On the way, I stopped off to get a card to go with the present and allowed too much time, arriving about 20 minutes early. The wedding was at a very nice country club. I told the man at the gate that I was there for the "Smith/Jones" wedding. He smiled and lifted the gate.

I parked and sat in the car. As I sat I saw no one going in other than people who had been playing golf. I sat. I saw no one I know. I finally looked at the invitation I had put in the car. I was a day early. Who gets married on a Sunday?

On Sunday the nice man at the gate didn't ask me why I was there. He lifted the gate and directed me to the valet. The club was every bit as nice as it was the day before.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Stolen Humor

The following is stolen from an online magazine, The Spark, I think. Best line "you will not be allowed to talk to him."

In the days before the geek squads
(Matt note: I'm knee deep editing the restaurant guide, and you probably just want to skip to Holly's column about being married, so here's one from the column vaults. And as they used to say on summer TV -- it's new to you, anyway.)

I used to remember people's addresses and telephone numbers. Now I have the Blackberry. I used to leave my house to go shopping. Now I have the Internet. As soon as they invent a device with a sense of humor, I'll have no reason to use my brain anymore.

Computers run our lives. But unless you have a degree in computer science, you probably have no idea how they work. Gerbils on treadmills could be powering the thing, for all you know.
So how does it make sense that the computer is the only appliance in the house where, when something goes wrong, you have to dial an 800 number to get people who will try to diagnose your problem over the telephone and tell you how to fix it yourself?

Can you imagine if plumbing worked this way? "You say it's leaking? OK, so just where is the leak? Is it a slow leak, or a fast leak? OK, unscrew the whatzits to the right of the widget. How much water is coming out now? Hold on a minute, let me talk to my supervisor. Try the backstroke."

My problems started Monday night when we tried to install the new version of a popular Internet program on our computer. The installation went perfectly. Everything else on the computer immediately stopped working.

I called the technical help line. It is important to remember that there is someone on the other end of the technical help line who can solve all of your problems. You will not be allowed to talk to him.
Instead, you get a guy named John whose job it is to tell you, over and over again, to restart your computer.

Now, I understand where these tech folks are coming from. There are entire Web sites, designed by disgruntled techies, devoted to the people who call tech support in the middle of the night because they can't find the ANY key. Telling these people to restart the computer is like the plumber suggesting you start working on the problems with your toilet by flushing.
For some people, that's helpful advice.

I got past John, and the next techie couldn't understand why I was bothering him.

"So the installation worked properly?" he asked.


"Then what's the problem?"

"Everything else stopped working."

"So that sounds like there's a problem with the rest of the computer."

"But it started right after I loaded your software! I have a cable modem and ..."

"Oh, you have a cable modem? You need to be talking to our high-speed people. Hold on."

The high-speed people told me to restart my computer and then said I would have to call the tech support folks who run my cable connection.

The cable tech support folks told me to restart my computer and then told me that the problem was beyond their ability to fix over the telephone because the people who know what they're doing leave at 11 p.m. I don't blame them. If I knew what I was doing, I wouldn't be on the telephone after 11 p.m. either.

Two hours later, I gave up. One last time, on a whim, I restarted my computer.

It did nothing. But at least I know how to flush.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Judiciary. Bought? Definitely Paid For.

First, a disclosure. I'm a lawyer.

That out of the way, I've always thought that it is a bad idea to elect judges. To me the concept of a judiciary presupposes impartiality with respect to the issues that will come before it. (The minute I let out that I am a lawyer, I start writing like one.) People running for a non-judicial governmental position, campaign by telling voters what they propose to do with respect to issues that they will face. Judges would be violating ethical rules if they announced ahead of time how they will rule on an issue in the future.

Bad executives, legislators, commissioners, etc. are remedied by defeat at the polls. Bad judges face appellate review and, if really bad, impeachment.

All that said, election of judges here in Georgia has led to what appears to be a blatant attempt to "buy" a seat on Georgia's Supreme Court.

Carol Hunstein is a current member of the Court. She has a long history as a lawyer and a judge at trial and appellate levels. In a recent poll of the Georgia Bar she was rated as "qualified" or "well qualified" by more than 95% of the respondants who said they had enough knowledge to express an opinion.

Her challenger is Mike Wiggins. He has never served as a judge. Though judicial races in Georgia are officially non-partisan, Mr. Wiggins is campaigning on his Republican credentials. In the poll mentioned above he was rated qualified or well qualified by 23% of the respondants who said they had enough knowledge to express an opinion.

I'll be voting for Hunstein; but, that is not the point of this post.

Hunstein has raised about $770,000.00, mostly from lawyers. Why so much? Wiggins has raised only about $170,000.00, mostly from corporations. Georgia has $5,000.00 limit on campaign contributions; but, it does not limit spending by people or organizations which are not controlled by the candidate. Wiggins is the uncontrolling beneficiary of at least $394,000.00 being spent by the "Safety & Prosperity Coalition" whose donors are insurance, medical and business groups and companies in favor of their version of "tort reform." Better yet, "American Justice Partnership", an affilliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, is spending $1.3 million on advertising for him. Who gave that money? We won't ever know because the law does not require the American Justice Partnership to disclose its donors.

Someone is going to buy a seat (whether or not they get what they are paying for) on the Georgia Supreme Court. My group, the lawyers? Or big corporations? The loser is sure to be the citizens of Georgia.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fascination and Fear

Our fascination with and fear of homosexuality is in the news again following the recent New Jersey Supreme Court opinion which directs the New Jersy Legislature to pass legislation providing for marriage or "civil union" rights for gays and lesbians.

Try as I may, I can't figure out why so many people have such a problem with two men or two women being attracted to each other and demonstrating it.

President Bush in reaction to the Opinion said that marriage was “a union between a man and a woman....I believe it’s a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended."

Assuming that hetrosexual marriage is paramount to the well-being of America, how does homosexual marriage or allowance for civil unions damage it? If a marriage is in trouble, I very much doubt but that the cause is two men or women shacking up down the street, muchless a law that says that the men and women shacking up is legal. I don't see legalizing these relationships sending people in droves away from attraction to the opposite sex with a resultant decline in marriage rates.

Let's move on to the family issue and assume that kids are better off with a father and mother in the house rather than the alternatives of just a father, just a mother or two fathers or mothers. (As an aside, if that is the case, divorce, being "harmful to a sacred institution," should be outlawed and women giving birth out of wedlock should be forced to marry.) Is a kid harmed any more by living with two dads or two moms than with a single parent of either sex?

The answer to that can only be yes if you view homosexuality as evil and exposure to it as harmful.

That brings us to what I think is the underlying reason that so many fear gays. "My God says it is sinful. He isn't using lightning bolts much these days, so I have to use government to enforce his will." My opinion, without facts or objective analysis: I don't think he needs our help to punish sinners and I don't think government is very effective at it either (think scarlet letters and Prohibition).

Bumper Sticker

I saw this bumper sticker yesterday:

Where are we going and why are we in this basket?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stay Which Course?

The New York Times reported today that President Bush will no longer use the phrase "stay the course" in connection with the United States' presence in Iraq.

The President is quoted as saying "Stay the course means keeping doing what you're doing....My attitude is, don't do what you're doing if it's not working: change....Stay the course also means don't leave before the job is done. And that's - we're going to get the job done in Iraq. And it's important that we do get the job done in Iraq."


Exegesis aside, the problem with Iraq is we have never bothered to define nouns. What job? What course?

Without revisiting the debate about why we invaded Iraq at length, I recall that we wanted to divest Sadaam Hussein of his WMDs and end his support of terrorism. Thus, the goal was to capture Sadaam. Then we could hunt down the weapons and the terrorists. We've done that. Sadaam rails at his enemies, past and present, from the courtroom dock, incapable of supporting international or homegrown terrorism. Whatever WMDs were in Iraq are gone. What was not considered and what is now not being effectively dealt with is what to do with Iraq after we got Sadaam.

So again, what is the job; and, having defined the job, what is the course that will complete the job? I suspect that President Bush doesn't know and I know that I and a lot of people in the United States don't know.

For awhile the job seemed to be to establish a stable Iraqi government. The course was to establish a constitution, elect representatives, train troups and police and turn over governing and security to the representatives, troops and police. The constitution and government are in place but ineffective. The troops and police are in place but in "control" in two of eighteen provinces. Violence is on the rise throughout Iraq as ethnic and religious factions escalate attacks on each other and us. What to do?

Well we'll leave the job the same, we'll just change the course (we won't call it that, we'll just do it). We won't "cut and run." We'll set up a flexible timetable, not for withdrawal, but for the Iraqis to get their act together. We'll set "milestones." We'll create "benchmarks." Ah, we'll make the job the Iraqi's responsibility. When they fail, and as we measure such things, they will, it won't be our fault. Look at all the time, money and lives we invested (or wasted, depending on your viewpoint). We couldn't have done more for them.

When the dust settles and a totalitarian government (or maybe three) is in place, again, in Iraq, where will we be? Fighting WMDs in North Korea. Fighting terrorists, again, in Afganistan. Rattling sabers at Iran for supporting the bad guys and maybe thinking about moving into the power void.

One last thought, fighting terrorism is necessary. How the fight is planned and carried out is crucial. I hope the next President knows what the job is and plots a course to accomplish it without years of misspent time, money and lives.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stupid is ...

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito, at a recent event, bemoaned the passing of the days of the lonely leafleteer and the rise of the Internet: " 'This is not just like somebody handing out a leaflet in the past, where a small number of people can see this [in his view, inaccurate reporting on the Court].... It changes what it means to be a judge. It certainly changes the attractiveness of a judicial career.' " Gosh darn that First Amendment in the Internet era. Mere citizens daring to lessen his enjoyment of his life-time appointment by using a medium that actually allows unfettered distribution of news.

Justice Scalia at the same seminar said " '[i]t so happens that everything that is stupid is not not unconstitutional.' " Nah, he couldn't have been talking about his colleague.

Quotes from an article by John Heilprin, AP, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 22, 2006.

Friday, October 20, 2006

To 's or Not To 's

Clicking the title of this post will take you to a great piece of satire in Legal Times.

I side with Justice Thomas for probably the first time ever.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Walls and History

Most mornings I stop at a convenience store for coffee on the way to work. Most times I am there it seems that every casual laborer in Northeast Atlanta is there too.

These workers usually have paint stained clothes or boots that have obviously often walked a construction site or suburban lawn. They arrive and leave in pickup trucks, vans or packed six or seven in aging cars. Or, they stand and sit in clusters just outside the bounds of the store's parking lot, waiting for contractors, landscapers and homeowners to hire them for the day.

They live packed in apartments, again, six or seven sharing the rent.

They are for the most part Hispanic, or in Atlanta, its perjorative synonym, Mexican. They aren't U.S. citizens. Their green cards are the product of the underground economy. They don't file tax returns or pay employment taxes (actually, some do pay into the tax systems by withholding, they just don't collect benefits). But, from what I can see in Atlanta, and what I understand to be true in other parts of the Country, they are the mainstay of the construction, landscaping and farming industries.

It is said that good fences make good neighbors. Should they be "walled" out as suggested by many politicians and pundits? China, France and East Germany have tried it to keep their neighbors at bay or their citizens in their places (ok, the French used big bumps in a line). Over time the neighbors came anyway and the citizens left, over, under and through the walls.

A local talk show host illustrates his call for a wall by this analogy: If your house has a torn screen, do you spend your time trying to round up the bugs that are in the house, or do you fix the screen first? It seems to me that there are several flaws in the host's argument and his analogy.

Walls aren't screens. They don't keep people out, or in, over time if there is freedom or opportunity on the other side. Ask the Chinese, French and East Germans.

People aren't bugs. Bugs aren't entering the house for a reason. They are flying around and wander through the opening in the screen. They would be just as happy to have stayed out doors, or having entered the house, go back outside (you've seen a bee banging its head against the window trying to reach the outside). Conversely, people see, or hear about, what is over the wall. They consciously plan to make their way over, under or through, and plan to stay. When caught, they do it again.

Also ignored in the wall argument is the fact that we have somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to twelve million people living in this country illegally. They have no plans to leave and if thrown out, will do their damnedest to get back in. More importantly, the politicians and pundits have no plan and no desire to to keep them out or get rid of them in the first place. Note that Congress recently voted to build 700 miles of wall but conveniently forgot to fund the construction.

So what to do? Arguing about "amnesty," "guest workers," or "illegal aliens or immigrants" accomplishes nothing. Call them what you will. But do call them. Register them. Throw out those with criminal records. After registration, throw out those that commit a crime. Prosecute the companies and suburban homeowners that hire anyone without a genuine registration card. Prosecute the companies and homeowners that do not withhold income and employment taxes. You will see registration and payment of taxes. Ask the stock holders of the offshore gambling companies whose executives have been arrested if real enforcement of laws deters violation.

Implementing this system will obviate the need for a wall. People will line up at the border to register for entry. They will stop lining up when there aren't enough paying jobs to make their move worthwhile, call it a self regulating supply and demand immigration policy. Those that still try to sneak in are probably up to no good; but, we would have the resources to stop them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

All Things Law

The attached link will take you to a list of more legally oriented blogs, or in its words "blawgs," than anyone would ever want to read.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Pox on Both Their Houses

I downloaded the state wide ballot today (Georgia) to begin deciding what to do come the November election.

I learned that:

Both the Democrat and Republican candidates for School Superintendent are religious conservatives and would presumably bring that orientation to the education of everyone's kids.
The Libertarian candidate wants to end elections for the Superintendent and has no educational experience.

Someone got a constitutional amendment on the ballot to recognize "the tradition of fishing and hunting" as constitutionally protected.

Farmers got a proposed amendment to end taxation on farm equipment.

There's a proposed amendment to allow the Legislature to give money received from vanity license plates to be given to non-profit organizations where "there will be a benefit to the state."

In the news:

Sonny Perdue, the incumbent Governor went to Jerry Falwell's church yesterday in Virginia, presumably courting the absentee ballot vote.

Dennis Hastert and George Bush say "Foleygate" is a Democrat plot. The Democrats say you can't equate Foleygate to Clinton's escapades because Clinton went for women who had attained the age of consent.

No big finish here. Just a strong case of political ennui.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Amazing Curative Power of Rehab


Test question: Political corruption, anti-Semitism and pedophilia. Compare and contrast the root causes of the crisis in the lives of Bob Ney, Mel Gibson and Mark Foley.

For extra credit: Does the fact that Patrick Kennedy blames his recent driving adventure on his fondness for painkiller drugs rather than booze mandate his exclusion from this club?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I took up Golf late in life. Too late for it to be anymore than a usually frustrating, but often enough, on a given shot, thrilling, pastime.

When I started playing I looked at it as a replacement for pool, a game I had gotten as good at as I was going to get without playing an hour or so a day, every day. I thought the golf course was a big, unlevel pool table. I was wrong. Even on the green. Nothing is level. Nothing is straight. Even the curves (break) are not consistent. It is pool in three dimensions.

Worse, despite what some people say, it requires physical ability. Yesterday I played with a friend at what is called an executive course. No par fives and only four par fours. It is nicely suited to my lacking ability. No long shots.

About half way through, a guy, Sergio, asked if he could play with us.

Sergio is no taller than me. He speaks little English (he is a groundskeeper at the course and was able to ride out and play a few holes). He probably weighs less than me given my expanding waistline. But he is supple, he's young, damn it.

His backswing ends with his left wrist almost brushing his left ear. On his follow through, his right wrist says hello to his right ear. John Daily and Tiger Woods have nothing on him. Neither of my wrists have ever met either of my ears. I have, euphemistically, what is called a "compact" swing.

With irons, our shots went about the same distance. The difference being, his soar, mine hop. I'm Doyle Alexander (without talent). He's Ernie Els (with budding talent). Ah, to be young, damn it.

But, Sergio exemplifies what is wonderful about golf. He praised my approach shot when it came to rest close to the pin,smiling as if it was his own. I returned the favor (more easily and more often as he had more to praise, more often). His intensity spurred me to play better so as not to be embarrassed. He smiled ruefully at my pulled putt, lessening the embarrassment. I grimaced when he chunked a chip shot. He displayed perfect golf etiquette which I noticed led me and my friend to act the same.

I have met more Sergios than not at golf courses. Golf is a game of gentlemen and ladies. It takes our rougher edges and polishes them. For a few hours on a weekend morning, whether its corny to say so or not, we become a small and better community.

And, I had two birdies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss

The link below will send you to an article by Dahlia Lithwick at Interesting reading.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Straight to the Top

I was mystified and amused to see than less than a week from the inauguration of my blog site, it was the first result in a Google search for its title. I guess it is true that everything worth knowing is found on Google.

On the flipside, no one has visited the site since Monday.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Federal Judge Song

Folks, I'm apparently the number one result for a Google search for the Federal Judge Song. I'm sorry, but this link doesn't work anymore, and I can't find another source for the song. If you find one, let me know in the comments and I link to it for the benefit of your fellow surfers.

The link below is a must listen for those of you in the law biz. Just plain funny for everyone else.

Coercion, Torture, Clarification, Interpretation and Due Process

The Bush Administration and three prominent Republican senators recently announced their compromise on the allowed limits of coercion (torture) and the allowed limitation of due process when dealing with detainees (terrorists, combatants, suspects).

I don't have much to say about the first compromise, beyond the observation that coercion/torture, rightly or wrongly, has always taken place and will take place in the future regardless of how it is defined, interpreted or clarified. It is interesting to note that the allowed limit now appears to differ depending on the affiliation of the actor: Military personnel at Abu Grave (phonetic) are court-marshaled for revealed mistreatment of prisoners; but, the CIA sends prisoners to Guantanamo from secret prisons, no one asks what happened to them there and the Administration becomes very interested in clarifying what the CIA can do without subsequent fear of prosecution.

With respect to the second compromise, detainees, against whom charges are brought, apparantly will be entitled to hear sanitized summaries of evidence and testimony against them(Detainees not charged, will apparantly sit in Guantanamo with no ability to challenge their incarcaration). Since the defendant will not see the actual evidence or hear the actual testimony, there seems to be no way to cross-examine, impeach or otherwise mount an effective defense.

The Bush Administration, and now the senior Republican leadership, trust no one when it comes to their pursuit of national security, not even the Third Branch, the Federal Judiciary. What threat to national security is posed by a United States District Court Judge (subject to appellate review) reviewing the authenticity of evidence and hearing actual testimony by witnesses, then redacting information or concealing the identity of a witness where there is a probability that divulging the information or identity will harm national security in his or her independant judgment? Our national security interest is protected and the defendant gets a somewhat fairer trial. Who or what is harmed?

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Recently I bought toner for my printer, installed it, and, 3 days later, it was low on ink (buy HP not the Office Depot brand).

I took it back to the store with a sample of the poor printing and the original receipt. The return had to be authorized by a manager. I got an HP toner cartridge which cost $11.00 more - the start of my slide to curmudgeondy.

The young lady at the cash register scanned the old and new boxe labels and advised that I owed an additional $15.34 (the screen did show that total - $11.00 plus $4.34 in tax). Since the price differential was $11.00 and sales tax in DeKalb County, Ga. is 7%, I told her that I owed $11.77. She looked at me blankly. I gave it another shot. The old toner was $54.99. The new toner is $65.99. The difference is $11.00. Tax is 7%, hence (no I did not use that word) I owe you $11.00 plus $.77 in tax or $11.77. More blankness; but, I made progress as she called over another manager.

The manager was 40ish (so this does not constitute a diatribe against just today's youth). She looked at the screen and confirmed that I owed another $15.34. It only took one explanation for her to understand that the tax on $11.00 was not $4.34. She then, practically, reduced the price by $2.00 and announced that I owed $13.34, the new difference of $9.00 plus that $4.34 in tax that the pesky cash register still insisted that I owed (now I rail against the machine). I repeated my calculations. She returned to the register and announced that I owed $11.34 (she reduced the $9.00 to $7.00. The machine still got its $4.34 in tax). I thought about insisting that I owed $11.77 but thought better of it. I told her she had a deal and gave her the money.

I am not a victor in this exchange. I now have my toner, paid $.43 too little tax, BUT, I have a receipt that says I returned the $54.99 toner and paid them $11.34 for the new toner. So much for my chances in a tax audit (will this contemporaneous document help me with convincing the examiner?)

Friday, September 22, 2006


Should anyone happen upon this blog, you may safely move on. I created it about five minutes ago and I am playing with it to learn how to do this. Come back in a month or so. It will either be gone due to lack of interest or ability on my part; or, there might be something here to interest you.