Monday, May 04, 2015

Here's Why I Don't Get Rid Of Dandelions

“She thought of the recurrent waves of pain that for some reason or other she and her husband had had to endure; 

of the invisible giants hurting her boy in some unimaginable fashion; 

of the incalculable amount of tenderness contained in the world; of the fate of this tenderness, which is either crushed or wasted, or transformed into madness; 

of neglected children humming to themselves in unswept corners; 

of beautiful weeds that cannot hide from the farmer.”

 -- Vladimir Nabokov, Symbols & Signs

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Some shots from my trip to Merrill, Wisconsin, for that big trial which did I mention we won? WE WON.

Above is the courtroom on Monday morning before the trial began.  That's my laptop there, and the file of the things I needed that morning.  Not pictured is the box of documents I also lugged in and out each day; that's behind me.  By the time I'd taken this picture, I'd been up for 3 1/2 hours and had driven 160 miles to get there.  I spent the next four days in this courtroom or very near it.

I never eat much during trials -- to focused on other stuff, which gets hard during a four-day trial like this.  At lunch on the first day I took a walk to think about things and clear my head from the morning, which had been amazing in the number of issue thrown at me.  If you want to know what it's like to be in a trial, consider this: Imagine the hardest class you ever took, one you're good at, but still was challenging.  Now imagine that you are going to have to give an oral report in that class on what you've learned in it, to prove to a group of people that you truly understand the material.  Now imagine that during that entire exam, a couple of people are attempting to interrupt you and prove that you don't understand a single thing about it, and that they are doing so by attempting to get you to explain not the class materials, but a bunch of different subjects entirely.

That's what a trial is like, or at least the best I can explain it.  This was a malpractice trial: we were suing a lawyer for screwing up and almost costing my clients their house.  By noon on the first day I had argued about the need for expert witnesses in that type of case, about the level of evidence needed to prove emotional distress, about whether the ethical rules governing lawyers required a mistrial to be granted based on claims made by an opposing lawyer, and had had to question 21 total strangers about their attitudes towards lawyers, lawsuits, debt, foreclosures, and other matters.

We hadn't even called the first witness by the time I took a walk up and down the street in front of the courthouse, eating an "Uncrustable," and drinking a Coke Zero.  

That sign above caught my eye.  It was on a garage, but the cite to Romans 12:2 was what made me wonder about it.  I didn't look it up until later that night, at the hotel.  This is what it said:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I like that. I'm a fairly religious guy, but even if I wasn't, I think I'd like it. I think that nearly every day I am transformed by the renewing of my mind.

This is the view from underneath that sign, looking back at the Courthouse:

And this is a dance studio along that walk.  I liked the sign (so did Sweetie, when we looked at the pictures):

And this is the Courthouse itself, a picture I took when I first pulled up in my comically tiny car that morning about 7:30:

Maybe more pics in the future.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Remember that time I proved velociraptors never existed? Our generation's brightest scientific mind (ME!) has done it again.

Not only has Jurassic World just gone out and admitted now that they're making up dinosaurs-- and since WHEN ARE DINOSAURS NOT GOOD ENOUGH THAT WE NEED TO CREATE SUPERDINOSAURS? JEEZ what is wrong with kids today? When I was younger, we had T. Rex and we were happy! Now you need GiantOSaurus or something to chase Chris Pratt around or you won't even look up from your Flappy Birds to notice.  Get off my lawn, you kids!

Anyway, got THAT out of my system.  Now on to the main story, which is how I always am one step ahead of the world and am a pretty smart guy.

You may have heard that I happen to have written a book:

That YOU CAN BUY RIGHT NOW but of course you already bought it right? Of course you did.  PLEASE HAVE BOUGHT IT ALREADY.  I need to retire. I'm so worn out.

The point is, buy my book. Also, the other point is, in my book, I hypothesized a world in which a corporation (IT'S PROBABLY NOT GOOGLE) manages to come up with a way to convert human brains into computer code and then reload the code into a clone, creating a new kind of human being that can be modified to tweak certain traits and of course used for profit.  Ah, capitalism!

This sounded like the height of science fiction to me when I wrote it a year-and-a-half ago; I was mostly just going off a comment made by Andrew Leon and an article I'd read about how an artist was going around picking up people's DNA and using them for art (true story) and figured it would be years, maybe, before my wild imaginings were proven 100% accurate.  After all, I wrote Santa, Godzilla And Jesus Walk Into A Bar YEARS ago, and it took that long for my "Xmas Machine" to be realized as a 3D printer that can create anything, including a heart.

So who could've guessed that somehow Chinese scientists got an advanced copy of Codes and thought "That would make a great project for us!" and would, almost simultaneously with the release of my book, edit the DNA in a human embryo?  Said that article:

Scientists have been able to manipulate DNA for years. But it's long been considered taboo to make changes in the DNA in a human egg, sperm or embryo because those changes could become a permanent part of the human genetic blueprint. One concern is that it would be unsafe: Scientists could make a mistake, which could introduce a new disease that would be passed down for generations. And there's also fears it this could lead to socially troubling developments, such as "designer babies," in which parents can pick and choose the traits of their children.

Which is ripped from the pages of my book, except for the parts about the Chinese.  I guess this means I am a huge hit in China, already, and I should start figuring out how to convert yen into dollars.  Or will the bank do that for me?

Friday, May 01, 2015

I'm (mostly) back!

I'm back.  My trip was for a three-day trial in the above courthouse that turned into a 4-day trial and involved, at one point, me being awake for 33 out of 36 hours.  We won, which made it all worth it, although trials -- and I say this as a trial lawyer -- are never really 'worth it.'  

So I'll post more pictures and stuff soon, once I get caught up on sleep and clear the tension out of my mind.  You can't spend a whole week thinking about things like extrinsic proof of prior conduct and the rule against hearsay and Millie The Horse and a lot more without having to take some time to let it all settle down.  

That and I need to spend some time with the family.  It was the first time I'd gone without seeing at least once a day since forever.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

10 minutes talking about: Splinter In The Mind's Eye

I decided that from time to time I will spend 10 minutes talking about something that I'm reading these days.  Consider it sort of the successor to Sundays With The Classics, which were the posts I used to use to demonstrate how little attention I'd paid in school.

The first such 10 minutes -- 10 minutes of my time, not yours -- is dedicated to the book I checked out of the library (electronically, of course, via my Kindle app; I'm not a savage. I don't read books printed on the flesh of dead trees) today:

Posting the pictures counts in my 10 minutes.
I checked it out purely out of nostalgia, although having just watched the new trailer for Episode VII, and having also secured a promise from Middle Daughter that she will babysit for us on opening day of Episode VII so that I can go see it when it comes out, I have had Star Wars on my mind today.

(People who have read my blog for a long time also know that Star Wars is in the running for The One Thing We Will Remember From The 20th Century A Thousand Years From Now.  All history is condensed into one or two important facts, and the more remote it is, the longer the span of time those facts have to cover.  Think about what we, as people, know about what happened from 1 A.D. to about 1300 A.D.  NOTHING. SQUAT. We have condensed a thousand+ years of human history into "The Dark Ages," and left it at that. So in the year 3015, what do you think people will remember about the 20th Century? In my mind it's down to these two:

World War II, the only 'nuclear war' we've ever had, and

Star Wars.

That's it for the 20th Century a thousand years from now.)

That was quite an aside!

So I was thinking Star Wars, as we all always are, and I was looking for a book to check out because I wasn't in the mood to buy a book and I'd finished all the old ones I was reading, so it was find a new book or  start reading the book Sweetie and I are reading for our Book Club. Our Book Club is just me and Sweetie.  We read a book together a chapter at a time; once both of us have read the chapter we discuss it and then move on.  We're working our way through Tana French's books.  I didn't feel like diving into the new one yet, so I instead went to take a book out. I got Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville (Kraken was one of my all-time favorite books but I'm skeptical he can keep it up), and Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which as I recall involved some sort of crystal or something.  That is 100% all I remember of the plot, and I'm pretty sure I only remember that because there's that crystal-y thing on the cover.

And that's 10 minutes.