Monday, November 29, 2004

Weekend Update

So I got back from Thanksgiving today. Caught the redeye back -- it's very tiring.

The weekend was terribly relaxing. It was just so nice to be away from the city and hanging out somewhere, unapologetically vegging for days on end. We arrived late (like 9-ish) on Thanksgiving night so Chad and I picked through the leftovers (of which there were lots) and just hung out with friends. The hanging out continued all weekend. We did nothing but just sit around doing nothing. I saw so many movies (on DVD) this weekend it was insane: Elf; The Chronicles of Riddick; Species III (ugh); Galaxy Quest. But it was okay. In a previous incarnation of my life, I would have been bugging to go out, to do something: when visiting friends in another city, make the most of it by actually doing stuff. We didn't. We walked around a few nights, but most nights were early and a few extended dinners were all we had. And I loved it.

Some interesting stupid discussions took place. I'll get to those later. My friends can be... well, wildly tactless.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brain Fart

I am so in need of a brain transplant. I'm too young to be suffering from Alzheimer's. This is confusing and annoying at the same time.

This afternoon I suffered from the most amazing and incredible brain fart I've ever experienced. Ever. And to compound the mental hiccup, I made my gaffe incredibly public.

So I'd been following this court case for a while now, because it relates to my practice. The Third Circuit decision was promising, and I had cited to it before in briefs I had written, but the future viability of the decision was put in limbo when the Supreme Court decided it would accept the matter for resolution. Of course, it also meant that the Court may hand down some very favorable law. In either event, the Court was prepared to announce a rule of law on an issue that was pretty contentious in my field.

Meanwhile, back in the office, my colleague subscribed to an email alert system whereby a national legal research racket provider sent her monthly email summaries of developments in the field. We amended our contract back in June to provide those emails; she suddenly realized she had not been receiving them. So today, she got the matter straightened out, and the research company sent her emails from way back when she first should have been receiving them. She, in turn, forwarded them to me.

So I, like a diligent little person, decide to take a look at these updates to figure out the emerging trends in our field, and whether any recent developments will help my clients. First one I open, lo and behold, mentions the Supreme Court's decision in this case I'd been following. Great!, I thought. The decision was pretty favorable to the position I wanted, so I was happy. So happy, in fact, that I cut and pasted the little blurb into a new email and forwarded it to a listserv for lawyers in this area who practice in the same field as I do.

Only a few minutes later did I come to realize -- through my boss, no less -- that the case which I had just emailed hundreds of lawyers about was decided by the Supreme Court six months ago. In fact, we had already discussed the holding of the case on the listserv. For some reason, I had completely forgotten about this. I looked at the blurb as if it were the first time I had heard about it.

And now hundreds of attorneys who practice in the same field as I do are wondering where the hell I've been for six months.

I've already got a plan: Should anyone ask me what the hell I was thinking, I'm going to say that I sent that email out months ago, and somehow it must have gotten stuck in some internet limbo until just now.

But my office knows the truth, and we're all getting a pretty good laugh out of it. Well, frankly, I think they're enjoying it more than I am. At least I have the gift of laughing at myself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm heading out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend (visiting some friends out west) so I thought I'd just take a quick moment.

Despite my bitching (and I do bitch a lot -- see my tagline), I am confident that I have a great life, surrounded by great people. I could be happier, but not by much. I have a great job that treats me with equal mixtures professional and personal interaction; my friends remain the key to my sanity; my health is decent. What more could a guy ask for?

Special shout-out to my financial planner, who took me on as a client even though I tried -- hard! -- to tell him that I had no money and huge debt load. He restructured my life, gave a new approach on how to think about my financial situation, set goals for me, and most importantly, got me to put away enough money to start investing. He's truly changed my outlook on the financial portions of my life, and for that, I thank him, even though he probably doesn't even know that I keep this blog.

To my friends who have made my life special, fun, challenging, and real, I love you all and thank you for putting up with my shit.

If you're reading this blog, thanks for reading. :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Telephone trouble

Okay, sometimes some people in my office can be, well, pretty stupid. Just sometimes.

Today T. was asking me how to do conference calling. (For some reason, the secretarial staff doesn't know how to do some of the more basic secretarial functions -- like create a conference call -- and I do. Go fig.) So I told her the process, which involves: (1) placing Call #1; (2) hitting the "Conf." button; (3) placing Call #2 on a different line; and (4) pressing the "Conf." button again. Not terribly difficult, right?

T. decides she wants to try out the function before actually using it. (I don't know why she felt the need to do this. It's not like we're doing a conference call out of this office this afternoon.) Instead of executing the test run on, say, some cell phones or something, though, she decides to conference two phone lines from the office together. That is, she picked up line 3, called line 2, then patched the two lines together. Effectively, she has created an endless loop of nobody connected to nobody. No phone in the office now is permitted to break into the "conversation" because the lines are "in use," and we can't seem to figure out how to cancel the ill-conceived "conference call."

Sometimes it's amazing any work actually gets done around here.

Links Up.

So I finally found a way to put links up on this blog. It's not the most elegant, and I'm still trying to logically decipher the blogspot code to figure out how to create those little symbols in front of each entry (though I think I may need some assistance from blogroll for that), but hey, I've put some links up.

Is it weird to link to other people's pages if they don't really know you read their blog? Like one day they'll be checking their traffic, and they'll notice me as a referring site, and think, Who the hell is that and why is he linking to my blog?

Monday, November 22, 2004

I Honestly Love Her

I am so in love it hurts. I never thought I'd ever say it, but it's true. I am totally, completely, absolutely head over heels in love.

Olivia Newton-John has been one of my favorite performers since I was a kid. My uncle Randy had given my brother and me a hand-me down stereo system, consisting of an AM/FM radio and an 8-track tape player which could play "regular" tapes too. (Yes, I'm that old. But for the record, I never owned a turntable.) Because he no longer had an 8-track player (he was upgrading to, I presume, a system with a better tape player), he gave us all of his 8-track tapes as well. Not many, and not many that I really cared about, but....

One of the cassettes he provided was If You Love Me Let Me Know by the aforementioned goddess of the recorded voice. It instantly became one of my favorite 8-tracks. One of Olivia's earlier works, there was a great sampling of country music in there, as well her now-classic "I Honestly Love You." I do wish I could somehow find this album on CD -- or perhaps get hold of an 8-track player to play the tape again -- because I still have the words memorized.

Another of the 8-tracks we were bequeathed was the soundtrack to Grease. I don't remember now if I had seen the movie before or after getting addicted to the soundtrack. I certainly know now that for the first few hundred times I saw Grease, I was clearly too young to pick up on the plethora of subtle sex comments interspersed through the movie. To this day, every time I watch the movie again I pick up innuendo I hadn't picked up on before.

But the point of all this is that I had fallen "hopelessly devoted" to Olivia Newton-John early on in my tender childhood. Her voice was captivating and mesmerizing, her beauty timeless. Having also seen her in interviews, or on random celebrity profiles (before they became de rigeur on cable "music" channels), I came to realize that Olivia is also a truly wonderful person outside her music: she's battled breast cancer, she's served a United Nations goodwill ambassador, and she's simply a delightful woman, sweet and personable.

This weekend she performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Baltimore being under an hour away from D.C., I could not pass up this opportunity. (Special kudos to my buddy Andy for noting her arrival and ordering the tickets!) Could not pass up the chance to see my idol live.

Andy scored some kick-ass seats. We were literally five rows from the front of the stage, albeit on the left side rather than dead center. But it was close enough. We got to see Olivia in all her beauty strutting her stuff in front of a packed concert hall. At 56, the woman is still as gorgeous as ever -- and I am not exaggerating. I don't believe she's ever had surgery, but she is as youthful and energetic as ever.

Keep in mind, again, I have worshipped this woman for literally decades now. Andy and I both agree that she is phenomenally talented. Further superlatives fail me, I love her so much. Andy and I had met over the Internet several years ago, and one of the things that made us as close as we've become is our mutual love for Olivia, among other pop stars whom others are view as too embarassing to acknowledge.

So there I was, watching my goddess incarnate spin her magic on stage in front of me. And I started to choke back the tears. I had to hold them back if for no other reason than I knew if I started crying I wouldn't be able see my woman clearly, and by golly I was going to keep my eye trained on her. (Well, except that her guitarist was actually quite hot, so my eye wandered from time to time. Yummy.)

Before I started to going to concerts put on by some of my favorite performers of all time, I had not been able to understand why those stupid little teenage girls would sob and go crazy in front of, say, the Backstreet Boys. I truly understand now what a moving experience it is to be performed to by your idol. (Although, to my credit, my idol worship has encompassed several decades of cultivation, unlike any moments inspired by flash-in-the-pan boy bands.)

By the end of the night, I couldn't hold back, and I was in fact, crying. And I couldn't stop. And I found that I didn't want to. It was the happiest I had been in a long time. Andy laughed at me, 'cause here's me, great big smile on my face, tears staining my cheeks, and still more on their way.

Andy and I seriously contemplated returning to Baltimore the next day for her last performance in the city, but eventually decided we weren't able to make it. Besides, I think I would have been emotionally drained had we attempted it.

Had I had a chance to speak with her, I possibly would have asked her to marry me. I Love Her. I Honestly Love Her.

Friday, November 19, 2004

A Long, Long Time Ago....

I randomly googled a friend of mine from elementary school the other day. I don't know why I did it; I just felt like it. Actually, I think it had to do with my college homecoming leading to nostalgia about my more "innocent" days, which led to the halcyon days of youth, with led to ... oh, never mind. The end result is, yes, I googled a childhood friend of mine.

I attended a public elementary school which was literally right across the street from my house. My neighborhood was pretty much lower middle class; my peers were a random assortment of kids of varying backgrounds, talents, and support structures. Yet even when I was under 10 years old, I remember most of my friends were the types who would end up in some sort of G&T program, whom the school singled out for some sort of academic strength. I was not destined to hang out with the classmate who still thought that the opposite of "boy" was spelled "gril." I know I sound like total insensitive snob for saying it, but academic achievement was such a big deal for me and my parents, even in grade school.

So only a few names popped into my mind when I got to thinking about kids I used to hang out with. One girl, R.O. (I'm actually going to try to maintain her privacy), came to mind, if only because she definitely had a distinctive name. And I liked her well enough. I remember learning, and playing, cribbage with her in the 5th grade. (Did I not tell you I was a big dork?)

It's surprising the stuff you find on the internet. I found out that R.O. was married by viewing pictures from her wedding. Surprisingly, I still recognized her younger sister, as well as her mother. And it's a little disturbing to see her mother, and other women her age, playing around with condoms at the bachelor party.

I also found her email address by looking at a list of her classmates in a doctoral program, from which she graduated last year.

(As an aside, I can tell you what you get if you google my not-too-common name: My work home page is buried in the middle of a slew of links to pages which talk about a guy who wrote some recognized scholarly treatise on the history of Asian-American civil rights. That's not me.)

I wondered if she would respond if I sent her an email. Heck, I wondered if she would even still remember me. But I figured I had to give it a shot. Because nothing sobers you to how life can change like talking to a girl you haven't seen for over 20 years.

R.O. did, in fact, respond to my email. She recognized my name, which quite surprised me. She's no longer living in Hawai'i, and she and her husband have at least one baby. We've been exhanging emails back and forth intermittently for a few weeks. I've told her that if she makes her way back east to she must tell me and we can get together. But I fear that travel with a baby may be tricky for her. (I hope her husband doesn't think I'm hitting on her or anything.)

Speaking of, seeing as we were prepubescent when we last exchanged any words whatsoever, she has no idea that I'm gay. She in fact asked about my personal life, including whether I was married and whether I had kids. I simply managed to avoid answering that question. It's strange, comfortable though I am with my sexuality, having to come out to all kinds of new people -- either if you've just met them or if you're re-establishing contact -- is still a somewhat tricky task. There's a balance to be struck -- it's something intimate enough that you just don't tell everyone if you're not positive they'll respond favorably, and yet by not saying anything, you lend some credibility to the notion that it's shameful (it's not).

If I were seeing someone, I wouldn't hesitate to tell R.O. that I was dating a wonderful guy. It's much more tricky to properly work it into conversation when you're trying to say, "I'm single, Bush won't let me get married, and even if I could I currently have no prospects anyway."

But after these past elections, I feel like I have to tell her. Being "out" is a political statement now, and there is substantial benefit to being as out as possible in this post-election "moral values" bullcrap society.

Handshake etiquette

Here's a little-known bit of etiquette which I picked up from Miss Manners last year: A man should not, in social settings, extend his hand in an offer of a handshake to a woman. It is the prerogative of the woman to make this overture first.

I try to stick to this rule whenever I'm introduced to a woman I don't know, but sometimes I forget and just involuntarily stick my hand out. I've never been called on it, nor have I ever met a woman who balked at me for offering a handshake (or not offering one), but I like to try to stick to these seemingly random etiquette rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

West Wing rerun

Okay, the last source for great politics should be a fictional television show, I'll admit that. But from time to time the show does come up with pretty damn good quotes which I wish real politicians -- and the American public -- would heed. I was watching a rerun of the show on Bravo last night, and found myself going, "That's what I'm talking about!"

It was just before President Bartlet was announcing his intention to run for President again. He had just disclosed his M.S. recently, and the West Wing was engaged in a slew of hand-wringing about what he should say in his next address to the nation, etc. etc., when Toby reads out loud a draft sentence that contains the word "torpor." (The following dialog is paraphrased from memory; I didn't have the time to transcribe.)

Consultant: You can't use that sentence. No one will know what the word "torpor" means.
Josh: "Torpor"? It means "apathy."
Toby: And dullness.
Consultant: I know what the word means, but most of the American public won't!
[C.J. walks into the room.]
C.J.: What word?
Josh: "Torpor."
C.J.: It means "apathy."
Toby: And dullness.
Consultant: I know what it means! What I'm saying is most of the American people....
[The President's voice interrupts.]
The President: ... can look it up. We shouldn't have to talk down to be understood by the American people, we should be raising the level of dialog. If you're going to be the "education President" you can't very well be hiding the fact that you have one.

Now that's what I'm talking about. John Kerry was trashed early in his campaign this election cycle because -- scandal! -- he can speak fluent French. That quality of his quickly dropped from any public image he portrayed of himself, as if being ignorant of the world were an asset. "I don't want no hoity-toity French-speaking Massachusetts senator as President!", proclaimed the so-called "heartland" voter from the Red States.

Instead, they preferred a president who can barely string together a sentence in English without a teleprompter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What's in a Name?

Through another blog, I was pointed to a name dictionary which describes me thusly:

The name of Dennis has given you a very imaginative, creative mind. You always have new ideas, but too often they are for an easy way out of a difficulty, or an easy way of making money. You are not inclined to apply yourself consistently to a job and to reach the fulfilment of your goals through perseverance and hard work. The influence of this name has caused you to feel unsettled emotionally and mentally. You are never satisfied with conditions, because your feelings and desires are so changeable. Hence you seek change in order to have the opportunity for travel, new experiences, and new friends and associates. There are people in your association who could influence you unfavourably and thereby mislead you; disillusionment, embarrassment, and bitter experiences then become your lot. You have a very talkative nature and because of it, you could do well in saleswork or in a position where you handle the public. However, you would find any position requiring self-confidence and aggressiveness very trying. You are subject to moods of depression and self-pity, arising in part from a lack of confidence. Nervous tension often affects your solar plexus and stomach area. Also, the kidneys and fluid functions of the body could be affected.

If you are about to have a child, why would you ever inflict this kind of burden on your child? (I'm referring to parents-to-be; I have no doubt that the people who gave me this name have no idea about this assessment of my name.) The scariest thing is, it's frighteningly close to accurate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

... but He Didn't Kiss My Ass!

Okay, this article kinda steams me. Wait, it really steams me.

Two quotes bug me:

- The headline: "Women Say Kerry Should Have Wooed Them"
- "Kerry never drew a very strong contrast with Bush" on women's issues until the end of the campaign, said Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations.

What the hell? Pledging to fight any attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade isn't enough of a distinction between Bush and Kerry to vote for the actual pro-choice guy?

I recognize that the headline may just be someone's idea of catchy, but it irks me. The candidates' positions on women's issues couldn't have been clearer. W. is against abortion and would love more than anything to make it illegal. And yet women say Kerry should have kissed their asses more? What, just being on the right side isn't enough?

What did you want, an engraved invitation? Or perhaps he should have been standing there handing you toilet paper while you took a crap. Please. If you're a woman involved with the Feminist Majority and/or that National Council of Women's Organizations -- the two groups mentioned in this article -- ass-kissing should not be required for you to vote for the right guy.

Kiss My Ashcroft!


I remember in 1996, just after Bill Clinton won his second term in the White House,* the Washington Times -- independent and unbiased source that it is -- printed a huge headline that read something to the effect of "Clinton Cabinet Runs For the Doors" or something like that. Point being, the headline implied that certain members of the Clinton cabinet fled the administration as if from a burning building. I even got the visual image of teems of people, dressed in their business suits, running out the door, like a scene from The Birds or something.

Because serving in high-power positions is pretty damn challenging for four years, I'm told presidential cabinets change all the time after re-election. I just wonder if the Washington Times will have a headline similar to Clinton's now that the Bush cabinet is readjusting. Somehow I doubt it.

* I note that Pres. Clinton won re-election in 1996 by a much larger margin than did Mr. Bush this past week. And yet I recall no media coverage whatsoever of Pres. Clinton declaring his "mandate" from the American people.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Moral Values and the South

This is was just forwarded to me, and by golly, it's awesome. (Did I just say "by golly"? I think it's to offset the profanity-laced yet pretty good arguments made in the link I'm about to provide.) I haven't been able to fact-check all the links, but it's a great read.

Fuck the South.

Apologies as necessary


Cute site.

Monday, November 08, 2004


No, this isn't a map that has anything to do with the electoral college. It's a map of all the states I've visited in my lifetime. Pathetically few, I know, but my funds have usually been quite limited.

create your own personalized map of the USA

And here's a map of the European countries I've visited (same caveat as above applies):

create your personalized map of europe

I've also been to a few countries in Asia -- Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam -- but they didn't offer specialized Asia maps without including the rest of the world, and that just didn't seem worth it to see where in Asia I've been. Besides, I've also been to Hong Kong, which was still British at the time I went. It's not on the list anymore, so to have it highlighted I'd have to select China, and well, that's just misleading.

*** Woah, graphic overload. Anyone wanna give me a pointer or two about how to force the graphic to fit into the template properly?....

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Manhunt, revisited

In a previous post I mentioned my disdain for the Bravo show Manhunt, at least to the extent that it featured almost no people of color. As an aside, I mentioned that there were no "out" gay men on the show either.

Well, I was wrong. Apparently, at least one guy, Rob, is in fact gay. Okay, it's mentioned in his biography on the web site, but I didn't take the time to read through the bios, I was just kinda watching the show. In a recent episode, he finally "came out" to his fellow contestants and expressed some surprise that no one even realized he was gay.

Of course, the obliviousness could come from the fact that while all these prettyboys revel in their metrosexuality, it just blurs the line between gay and trendy.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What "mandate"?

So some of the news accounts I've read -- and some of the commentators have opined -- that this election gave Mr. Bush a "mandate" to carry forward his agenda. What?

I can't help wondering what the hell these people are talking about. Since when does a slim 3.9 million vote popular majority represent a "mandate"? Compared to the 2000 elections, sure this election is a blowout. But it's seriously NOT the Reaganseque landslide of 1980. This country is sharply divided. When the country is sharply divided, you should not be looking exclusively at the votes you did garner and say "I heard you loud and clear." It is imperative that you acknowledge that a very sizeable minority disagrees with you. You must listen to them too and work to strike the balance between the two.

Unless, of course, you're an autocrat, in which case you were likely to govern as you wanted to whether you received 50.01% or 100% of the vote anyway.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

We Are Fucked

When Bush was appointed (by the Supreme Court) in 2000, there was a cute picture circulating around the internet, depicting a copy of Time magazine with Bush on the cover, and the statement below it: "WE'RE FUCKED". It has come to pass again.

Half the people in this country have told us that it's perfectly acceptable to send our young men and women to a foreign country to start a war when you don't know whether any real threat to our national security is at stake. A man who isn't prepared to debate the issues without falsely mocking his opponent is worthy of leading the country. A man who will not meet with the press or otherwise hold his administration up to public scrutiny is a good man. A man who uses federal Secret Service resources to expel, detain, and arrest persons who dare exercise First Amendment freedoms at campaign rallies is someone you can trust your civil liberties to. A "conservative" who turns this country from a few billion in the black to tens of billions in the red is smart. A "federalist" who presides over the largest federal government ever in our history is perfectly consistent. A worldwide leader who scoffs at and alienates foreign governments is worthy of heading ours. It's perfectly acceptable to propose writing discrimination into our Constitution rather than ensuring actual equality of rights.

We are so fucked. And I am so angry that half of this country that I love so much is so completely brainless that they can't see what a dangerous man Bush is.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Two Ringy-Dingy...

Went back to Kerry/Edwards tonight for last-minute calling of still more voters to remind them to get out and vote. Unfortunately, found out I had a few Bush supporters on my list. They are not friendly people.

Fun phone call of the night:

Me: Hi, is ____ there?
Man: Who's calling?
Me: My name is Dennis!, I'm a volunteer with the Kerry/Edwards campaign.
Man: Yeah, she ain't votin' for no Kerry/Edwards.
Me: Sorry to hear that. Just please don't try to kill her if you find out you're wrong.

Okay, okay, I didn't actually say that last part, but I wanted to.

Go vote.

Redskins lose!

Okay, so apparently there's some strange little piece of political folklore that says that the last Washington Redskins game before any presidential election says something about the election results. For the past umpteen presidential elections -- "umpteen" being a technical term for "pretty decent number which I don't know precisely" -- the incumbent has won the White House when the Redskins win the last game before the election. Obviously, the challenger has won whenever the Redskins lose this game.

The Redskins to Green Bay tonight after a flag was tossed, recalling a Redskins touchdown late in the fourth quarter, a loss compounded by the fact that Green Bay thereafter intercepted a Redskins pass for another touchdown and two-point conversion, leaving the final score of 28-14.

The penalty call against the Redskins has been called "controversial." Wow, the mirror between this game and the elections is more accurate than I originally gave it credit for.