Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Will Sonia Do?

Interesting article in the LA Times this morning again suggesting that Sotomayor may not be the liberal everyone thinks she is. After a long discussion of her political activism while younger on behalf of Latinos and social issues, the article observed:

But little of that activist sentiment is revealed in the hundreds of cases Sotomayor has decided in her 11 years on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, raising the question of which jurist will present herself if she is given the lifetime tenure and complete independence of a Supreme Court seat.


Thomas Goldstein, a Washington lawyer with a Supreme Court specialty, said last week that he had reviewed 50 appeals involving race in which Sotomayor participated. In 45 of those cases, a three-judge panel rejected the discrimination claim --and Sotomayor never once dissented, he said.


Couple that with articles suggesting that she may not be a strong voice to preserve Roe v. Wade, and you have to wonder-- what does Sonia believe in? I worry if it is mostly herself. Sonia brings to mind the "queen bee syndrome" and a quote by another federal jurist, who will go unnamed, "This is my court and here I am king." At least that jurist was honest about what he believed.


Eddie Lazarus has an interesting article in Time this week where he claims that the Earl Warren liberal court was entirely foreseeable by Eisenhower who appointed both Warren and Justice Brennan. Eisenhower, according to Eddie, made those decisions based purely on politics and knew or should have known what he was getting. Does President Obama know what he is getting with Sotomayor or is this really a political decision too to get a middle of the road (and not really liberal) candidate through quickly so as not to distract from the pressing business of restoring our economy? Given the unusual longevity of Supreme Court Justices, the stakes are high for all of us if Sonia is not what Obama claims she is. I hope not. Otherwise, I am guilty of being sexist according to Judge Guido Calabresi. And I wouldn't want that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Smiling Sonia

"Oh what big white teeth you have, Sonia. "

"The better to chew you out my dear. "

From CNN.com article yesterday (n.b. Kar is a former law clerk and the bully comment is not just limited to conservatives)


Conservatives argue Sotomayor has a "hard-left record" and believes that judges should consider experiences of women and minorities in their decision-making. They also described her as a "bully" who "abuses lawyers."
Asked about allegations that she tends to be prickly with her colleagues, Kar said, "I would say no to that. What I would say is that she has a reputation for being prickly on the bench, which is a bit different."


The Los Angeles Times also reports that Sonia is "not particularly liberal". I have mentioned this to my human rights friends who have all said "ridiculous". (From their mouths to God's ears. I hope we do not have a repeat of Earl Warren but with the opposite outcome) Although, as I have said on FB, the fact that John Yoo has already attacked her as not being intellectually rigorous (Yoo is the author of many legal analyses where he tortures the law to promote the legality of torture) makes me suddenly want to believe that she will be a great justice. I am still studying her opinions so I hope to write more soon. My exposure to her was when she was on the district court and she rendered an opinion with legally dubious reasoning which seemed calculated to have our case go to a public trial where she happily welcomed the press (including setting up an overflow room) to review our highly confidential internal financial documents on a major motion picture. She also refused to let lawyers to leave the courtroom during breaks even to use the bathroom!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Impaneled but not in-juried!

I did my civic duty today by showing up in the Torrance courthouse (Los Angeles Superior Court) for another stint of jury duty.  I have served at this courthouse now four times--three times (including today) under the one day or one trial system and one time for a week where I had to show up every day and sit from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 or 5 p.m.  That jury service was also in the old jury room in the basement with inadequate seating and no bathrooms.  Luckily I was much younger then with fewer needed trips to the WC.

The new jury room is in a trailer with an outdoor area where you can sit or smoke.  I spent part of my day outside in the sun in the afternoon until the smokers and a really annoying engineer from Boeing drove me away.  The interior of the trailer is now outfitted with free computers and wifi.  There is a very nice magazine rack with reasonably current magazines.  I had my Kindle, Blackberry and some paperwork to keep me busy.  Interestingly no one turned on the televisions in the jury room today.  I actually might have liked to see the coverage of the Prop 8 decision but if the TVs were on, in Torrance, most likely they would have been set to Fox news.

Since I missed the deadline to do the orientation online, I arrived a little after 8 a.m. this morning to face an interminable line to get into the courthouse.  Then a very bad video was shown which let us know that being on a real jury is even more fun than it appears on television!  The same clerk who has been in Torrance for years gave his usual comedy routine. E.g. "My name is Lerol. That's L-E-R-O-L.  Not Leroy.  And I know at least one of you today is going to call me Leroy anyway."  

As fate would have it, my name was called this time in the first round of names to report to Department E on the 4th floor.  We got a short written description of the case to read (a car accident case where the only determination would be the amount of damages) and then into the courtroom to find out who would be the lucky 12 called into the jury box.  I was called as Juror no. 5 (which number I promptly forgot which makes a difference later).  We had to answer questions about where we lived, what we did for a living and what other adults living with us or our adult children if they did not live with us did for a living.  I, of course, have many adults living with me as well as one not living with me.  I identified myself as a lawyer, my husband as a lawyer and my son as a legal assistant/paralegal.  Last time I was voir dired in a criminal case, the judge and counsel only wanted to know about what my husband did.  "Ooof, you are a studio lawyer.  We do not care.   Tell us all about your husband's life work because that is what is important in determining YOUR bias".  This time it was my work that mattered.  The judge asked me questions about where I worked before the studio, what kind of law I practiced then and what I did now, and whether I had done personal injury cases.  I sniffed a bit myself when asked about whether I had done personal injury cases--"oh no, never!" I declared.  And I made sure that they knew I had worked at big LA law firms doing entertainment litigation as well as the major studio for which I work now. Finally I told them that my husband did human rights and civil rights litigation which some people might consider personal injury work but I did not.  I was a veritable Chatty Cathy.  When the judge asked me about the other adults living in the house--my mother in law (retired NYC special education teacher), daughter in law (new mother) and her sister (helps with child care for my two grandchildren who live with us too) I cracked that I also had 3 dogs and a cat. The people in the court room laughed heartily--- except for the judge.

Not surprisingly, the plaintiff's lawyer thanked and excused Juror no. 5 as his first peremptory challenge.  I looked around and counted the chairs and then bolted out of my seat for the door.  The judge reminded me to leave behind the fact sheet about the trial and chided me for folding and scrunching it.  I laughed and said, I thought you were recycling them and then I was out in a flash with a huge smile on my face.

I missed out on the booty call in the afternoon but Lerol made us hang around to find out if the remaining few in the jury room would go out to one last court room where there was a scheduled trial.  At 4:15 he released us just as I was having a FB conversation with one of my husband's partners about whether PI lawyers could rightfully be called, even in jest, a lower life form!  I grabbed my completion certificate and headed out to my car for home, after a quick stop at the Torrance Library to pick up more course and books on disc. Today I got Christopher Hitchens' atheist tome and a two part course on the Old Testament aka the Hebrew bible.  Somehow I had a need for religion after my day with the California justice system.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Want my MMM-TV

I have been a lover of television since I was a small child. (The picture here strongly resembles the first television I had in my own room as a preteen) My life revolved around watching my shows. I am certain that my love of television, as much as anything, lead me to my current job because television was always more important to me than the movies (which I am now required to call "motion pictures").

I have never wanted to be a television lawyer however. Once I watched the taping of an episode of Mad About You and thought that time had stopped. Same thing happened when we spent a hot summer day in a hanger at SM Airport as the audience for the taping of a Scott Hamilton Christmas special. How slow can you go?

When I got a TIVO about seven years ago as "research" for litigation in which my studio was a party against ReplayTV, the ability to time shift easily without putting tapes in the VCR seemed so cool and effortless. I started to watch all television pretty much through my TIVO. Since I had one of the earlier boxes I did not have much storage so I had to keep watching TV regularly or lose the shows as the box filled up and erased older ones.

Suddenly, however, I find myself not at all interested in television anymore. (According to a NYT article, I am not alone although not the norm either. Do you believe people watch on average 5 hours a day!) I doubt that it is the quality of the shows since we all know that my tastes have no lower limit. I used to watch Flamingo Road for example. (Ah Mark Harmon. You cannot act but you are so handsome). I am not a big fan of reality shows. For example, I have never seen American Idol and have only watched the Bachelor once or twice. I do not watch Lost or 24. I have gotten into watching crime shows which seem to be the only thing on other than reality shows. CSI and Law and Order, and their variants such as Criminal Minds, must be on every night on multiple channels.

None of it interests me anymore. This year I watched Big Love and Damages religiously. I eventually watched Grey's Anatomy but have slacked on House and NCIS, which were once Must See TV.

So what do I do now? I wish I could say that I have more hobbies that get me out of the house to plays and concerts and other activities. But I cannot. I do find myself at home a lot because I seem to be tired all the time. I read a lot more now. And of course there is the internet. I aspire to have activities again. I would very much like to resume piano lessons and singing. I want to go to the theater and lectures and concerts, if only they were not so hard to reach. Travel in LA is not easy these days. This weekend is a good example. I find it hard to justify going out when it involves getting into traffic in my neighborhood as out of towners stream in for the Fiesta Hermosa. And soon people will be coming for the beach although typically that level of traffic is never as bad as it is during the Fiesta weekends (Memorial Day and Labor Day) and 4th of July.

So I am ok with saying farewell to television for a while. I know that I have to do something to convert my cable if I want the TIVO to keep working but a part of me is wondering if it is even worth it. Old habits die hard and I bet I am not yet ready to give up the tube completely.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shield Me!

It is ironic that today, when I nervously "republished" in this blog Robert Greenwald's view that Starbucks is purportedly anti-union, I should find not one but two articles about the legal perils of blogging.  Since I am a copyright lawyer who also knows my way around defamation law, I try to be careful only to express opinions.  It probably doesn't hurt that only a handful of people read this blog too so my risk of being sued is very small.  However others have not been so lucky.

The WSJ reports that one blogger is being sued for defamation in New Jersey and is trying to invoke that state's shield law.  The NYT in a blog discusses a proposal to expand NY shield law to blogs such that any "journalist" would be covered even if she does not earn a living from the writing.  Sewell Chan, in this NYT blog, says:

The bill under consideration would expand the scope of the law to include “journalist bloggers,” with a blog defined as “a Web site or Web page that contains an online journal containing news, comments and offers hyperlinks provided by the writer.” 

What constitutes a "journalist"?  If I discuss a newsworthy issue such as the appointment of a woman to the Supreme Court or the allegations against Starbucks, am I a journalist?  What if my blog is a mixture of that type of commentary with personal anecdotes about mothers-in-law?  Would that eliminate my status as a "journalist" and if so, wouldn't that also make some columnists of the LA Times like Chris Erskine and Sandy Banks (although Sandy always manages to get some social commentary into her columns even if they report her personal stories) ineligible for the shield law?  

The internet has changed the way we approach news.  Blogs by "professional" journalists are common and "facts" get posted on the internet without the normal checks that journalists are required to do.  My experience with the TV news the other night was a good example.  I was convinced that the internet government website had the correct information and was frustrated that the TV news show would not confirm the magnitude of the earthquake.  I have to believe that they were following their procedures and would not report the size of the quake until they had an official confirmation from their USGS source.  The extension of shield laws to internet "reporting" therefore is tricky when the facts on the internet are not necessarily the facts.   Certainly something to think (and blog) about.

BTW Starbucks:  I really am your biggest fan and customer.  You can do no wrong in my book! (Please don't sue me.)

This is my Prayer


O Beloved Coffee!

I beseech you.

Please be available and plentiful in the next month while my husband is in trial in NYC.

Please be omnipresent while my son is with him for the next week.
Please allow me to do all the driving for those remaining at home, all the shopping and all the making of appointments.

Please give me the strength to fetch food for those in my home during the absense of the hunter/gatherers.

Please allow me to stay awake while I am at work so that I may make money to feed all the mouths that depend on me.
Please do not upset my stomach for it is you that I require.

For this I will forsake Robert Greenwald and his attack on your servant, Starbucks, because it purportedly does not allow unionization.

Hear me. Hear me. O my liege. For you are great and my only hope in this hour of my need.

Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On!

We had a 5.0 magnitude earthquake about 45 minutes ago.  I was sitting in my bedroom when the room started to shake and the windows rattled as if they were going to break.  I have lived in Los Angeles for most of the past 34 years and have lived through a number of shakers and rollers.  It has been a while.  The last big one I experienced was in 1994 which did structural damage to both my and my husband's respective office buildings.  I figured based on the feel of this one that it was centered pretty close to our house and was about a 5.0.  Correct on both accounts.  The earthquake was centered in Lennox which is about 5 miles from my house and USGS reported the magnitude as 5.0 after an initial reading of the magnitude as 4.7.

I always shout out when there is an earthquake.  This time instead of yelling "earthquake", I said "everyone get under something". After the shaking stopped and we determined everyone and everything was okay,  I went to the television to try to get news. I soon realized that I would do better on Twitter and Facebook.  Sure enough, I got more accurate information quicker on the internet, although at first I did not have an internet connection.  It is curious that the television news misreported the magnitude and epicenter at the same time I was looking at the USGS website with the official and correct information.  I guess television news still needs to talk to an official source whereas the online news sources can rely on online government official reports.  

A few things that television news does better.  It reminds everyone immediately that you should be even more afraid because this quake could be a precursor for a bigger one-- even though that type of event is much less likely than milder aftershocks.  Another thing television news can do is get human reports of how far the quake was felt and whether there was damage.  The news just reported damage in the Redondo Beach shopping mall about a mile from my house.  I gather there is water damage and broken glass at that mall. Luckily the mall was closed except for the movie theaters so that was the only business that had to be evacuated. (After watching Paul Blart, Mall Cop last night, I am imagining our local mall being evacuated by the hapless security guards that work there).

So, now an hour after the event, my heart has finally stopped racing and I am happily sipping my half caf Starbucks.  I have placed my shoes by my bed in case there is a big aftershock tonight and I am ready for the next natural disaster. 

ADDENDUM: USGS as of 10pm calls it 4.7. DAMN YOU TV NEWS!  Apparently KCAL talked to the correct person and the website was verified by a different seismologist.  

Here Comes Debbie Downer

I have been a bit down the last 24 hours and still feel like I have no energy. After a substantial boost to my mood from talking to my mostly bedridden friend on Friday evening, I found myself struggling to push away fatigue and darkness yesterday. Maybe it's a rebound effect. Maybe it is the almost June gloom--the constant state of overcast we get here near the beach in So. Cal due to the marine layer in late May and June each year. In any event I am thinking about death a lot lately. And as every other generation has faced as they grew older, I am looking at the death of people my age instead of my parents' generation.

A dear friend from high school sent me two obituaries this week of people we knew from high school. One was the slightly older brother of a boy who dated one of my friends in high school. I remember this man mostly as a football player in high school. Although he was my high school boyfriend's age, he was not in my boyfriend's circle of friends. The other obituary was for a woman who graduated with me from my all girls' high school. Unfortunately I cannot place who this woman was and I no longer have my high school yearbook handy. My friend promises to scan the picture from the yearbook to see if I can remember this classmate. There were only 108 girls in my graduating class so I am sure I knew her but I just cannot remember her right now. Before death comes the loss of memory.

I think a lot about my two friends who have aggressive cancer. Both are women in their early 50s and both are struggling with massive doses of chemo. As I mentioned above, one of these friends is no longer ambulatory. To cheer me up, my husband likes to describe in gruesome detail the last days of his father's fight with cancer-- the pain, the immobility, the deterioration. Oh joy. And I am supposed to be the Debbie Downer. As I talked to my friend on Friday evening, in the midst of the discussion of the chemo and the pain and the tumors, and through the fogginess of her massive doses of painkillers, I also experienced the person she has always been notwithstanding this terrible disease-- a mother who delights in her relationship with her daughter, a brilliant Harvard graduate who still enjoys a discussion about politics, a friend who wants to shield me and her other friends from the pain she is enduring, a funny, life loving person with wonderful quirks whom I love dearly. I have told her I love her more in recent months than I have in the 20 years of our friendship. And, as George Vaillant has concluded based on his years of research with the Grant study I do indeed feel more vulnerable expressing that love because I do not know how I will deal with the loss of this wonderful person in my life.

So maybe it is not just June gloom. Maybe it is my life at this stage of living. And loss is part of life so best to appreciate what we have in the here and now. That's why I will continue to express my love to those I do love.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OCTO-MATER

No. I am not the miracle mother of octuplets. I am instead the mater familias in a household of octogenarians. Let me explain. The obvious octogenarian in the house is my mother in law who will soon turn 84. She is in pretty good shape as you can see in her escapades at my grandson's birthday party ----------->
I also have 2 shepherd mix dogs, Sara and Chase, who are 13 1/2 and 14 years old respectively. Today I saw an article about the correct way to calculate dogs years. I do have a t-shirt that says "In Dog years, I'm dead" so this topic is of interest to me. Apparently the old saw that a dog year is seven human years is incorrect. So using another website, I calculated Chase's and Sara's ages. Chase is 88 and Sara (through interpolation) is 85. My mother in law has anthropomorphized Sara's failure to eat some days as "an old lady forgetting where her bowl is". Unfortunately, Sara does not forget where her bowl is as far as I can tell. She has recently learned the new trick (again demolishing an old saw) of tipping over the trash can in the kitchen and eating out of the trash. I think she is just full.

Chase and Sara have all sorts of illnesses. Sara has these growths that the vet thinks are cancer. Chase has discs problems in his back that make it hard for him to use his rear hind legs. But there are days when both of them scamper across the yard like they were puppies. The equivalent of the bounce house slide, I suppose.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Three Strikes OUT?

Internet piracy is rampant. The content owners have tried to stop it but it is mostly a game of whack-a-mole when you go after the pirate p2p sites and leeching sites. So the content owners have been working on a strategy for a few years  to institute what is called "graduated response".  Essentially, internet vendors spider the internet looking for pirate content and identify IP addresses with pirate content. These IP addresses are passed on to ISPs with the request that the ISPs notify the owner of the computer using the IP address that pirate content is being uploaded/downloaded from the address and inform that owner that if the uploads/downloads of pirate content continue internet service will be discontinued for some period of time. Some ISPs voluntarily are sending out these notices and most receiving the notices stop uploading/downloading pirate content after one notice. This type of graduated response program is also called a "3 strikes" program,  for obvious reasons.

France is considering making 3 Strikes a law. One of the legislative bodies passed it but a month ago the other legislative body failed to pass it. It will come up for a vote again soon. Unfortunately, it is getting nothing but bad press and to some extent some of the bad press is the fault of a content owner. TF1 fired one of its employees who protested the law to his MP.  TF1 learned of the protest from the French government who claims it was only providing the protest email to TF1 for information and not to get the employee fired.  This latest debacle in addition to the failure to have enough support at the last vote on 3 Strikes makes you wonder if France is really trying to sabotage the process rather than support it.  The European Parliament has voted against 3 Strikes unless overseen by a judicial process which renders it essentially ineffective since the idea is to have the ISPs act rather than have litigation over every act of piracy.  

People who oppose 3 Strikes do so on a few grounds.  One I have heard is that everyone has the right to internet access as if it were a fundamental human right.  3 Strikes does give some due process but does not have judicial oversight for the reasons stated above.  Hard to see why internet access should be a right rather than a privilege.

Another objection has to do with the methodology for determining the content that is uploaded or downloaded from an IP address.  Some fear that use of the technologies to identify content for "censorship" will allow governments to send notices based political speech. Some governments like China already block dissenting political speech.  Others like Germany are considering laws to require ISPs to filter child pornography.  ISPs in China cooperate with the government but in other countries fight any restrictions on what may be on their bandwidths.  After all, the more content you have, the more money you make. It is all just good business.  Unfortunately, when the content is piracy, the ISPs' good business is on the backs of the content owners who in this day and age do not see anywhere near the returns on their investments that they did in the golden age of the studio system and record companies.  Costs of production and distribution now are astronomical for the content industries, particularly the studios.  ISPs charge for their services but are happy to push "free speech" i.e free content to make sure their pipes are full.  If the internet were really free, maybe everyone should be entitled to free access.  Then the telecommunications industry may understand what the content industry faces with its losses due to people getting the fruits of its investments for free.


San Francisco Up High

I have spent a number of days in SF this past year.  I have gone for work and to visit my daughter who moved there in May 2008.  My next visit is May 21, 2009 which may also be my daughter's last day in SF for a while.  She has become tired of the dirty streets and street life.  Once when she and I were walking we saw someone go down an alley to shoot up. Last week we encountered a homeless man outside my hotel swinging a frying pan and yelling "I kill you." Luckily we were able to get by him without getting beaned.

My company limits me to 3 hotels in SF. The best of the three for my needs is the Westin Market St. which seems to be the darling of expedia.com.   This past visit we encountered what appeared to be high school women sports teams.   I have gotten used to the place. I now know to ask for a room on a higher floor.  I have had to change rooms a few times--once because of the large roof fan on a building right under my window and the other because of a handicapped shower/bath with no accommodation for those of us who like to stand when we shower.  Every room I have had in the Westin has had a broken phone by the bed so I came to know some of the technicians who made visits to my room to fix the phone.  I also had one bad experience with the internet connection which I had to have fixed remotely.  Minor annoyances all, particularly when you realize that there are homeless women right outside the hotel who are freezing in the cold SF nights. 
The hotel has some nice features--comfortable beds, Starbucks across the street, free NYT. But the wonderful thing about the hotel is the view.  Last week I was on the 34th floor and this week my room was one floor right below the room I had last week. So the views were virtually identical.  I could see Market St., the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Scattered throughout are some pics I took from my window. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

D-Light


"Hello Paul's wife. This is your (and Paul's) doctor. I got some more test results and it looks like you are bit light on your vitamin D. Take supplements and let's retest in 3 months. By the way, how is Paul?"

This is the message (more or less) that I got on our answering machine when I returned home from SF yesterday. Apparently I am in the very low normal range for vitamin D in my blood and need to address. So, hypochondriac that I am, I go to the internet to see what I possibly could have in the way of disease that would cause this condition. First, the internet instructs, as I have also read in articles, that supplements are not the best way to get vitamin D. One scientific article even said that supplements were counterproductive if the cause of deficiency is disease rather than lack of exposure to sunshine or other sources of vitamin D. Getting more sunshine seemed to be the recommended course to boost low levels of D. So I thought to myself whether I have been out in the sun less than I had been in past years and concluded that possibly I am a bit more house and office bound these days than I have been. On the other hand, I walk at the beach about 5 days a week so I would have thought that would balance out my eating in my office most days and relaxing at home on the weekends. In any event, melanoma be damned. I am going to get out more and get some rays.

Next I started looking at some of the diseases that might cause the deficiencies and symptoms. Celiac disease seemed likely except for the weight loss part. Kidney disease was another interesting possibility except all my other blood levels are normal. Perhaps it is medication I am taking. Well, the list of meds that supposedly lowers vitamin D levels did not include the 2 meds I take so on to another possibility. How about age? Older people according to the internet sites I visited have lower levels of D. But when they say older they do not mean AARP eligible. The studies said 65 and older which of course excludes me.

So I am at a loss. Of a cause as well as vitamin D in my blood. I guess I will follow the doctor's advice and take a supplement and try to get a bit more sun. Not the worst course of treatment to have to follow.

ADDENDUM I did a bit more research on the internet and found a website by a group that claims 501(c) status and champions the increase of vitamin D for health. According to this website, I may have Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome (!!!!) and need a combo of sunlight, supplements and food with vitamin D. It recommends 1000 IUs a day. My doctor said 800 IUs. At first I thought this website was a shill for vitamin manufacturers but upon closer inspection I am less sure.
I also found an article about the treatment of fatigue and pain with Vitamin D. Did you know vitamin D is more accurately called a prohormone and may affect the function of up to 1000 different genes.

Finally, according to another article I am in the prime age group to begin experiencing vitamin D deficiency and with dire consequences:

Lack of adequate vitamin D in older adults has been linked to osteoporosis, depression, some cancers (including those of the breast, colon, rectum, ovary, kidney, lung and uterus), multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes and, most recently, heart disease. Recent studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D double the chances of someone having a heart attack or stroke. An inadequate supply of vitamin D has also been shown to be responsible as a cause of generalized muscle pain and weakness.

There you have it. Much more vitamin D is in the cards for me.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Alicia in SonomaLand

We stayed at Macarthur Place Inn in Sonoma last weekend. I had fun walking the grounds with my daughter at dusk. We agreed it had an Alice in Wonderland feel to it. Mazes of hedges and vine covered lanes opened up on sculptures and fountains and white wood cabanas and even a life size chess set. I went out the next day and took pictures walking around the grounds.

After the first fountain and sculpture, I came upon stone ducks on the roof of one of the cabanas. Then I walked by the hedges past the rose garden and herb gardens. Eventually I came upon the Chess garden and then the library and the cupola where I imagine some lucky couples say their vows. Then back past the spa and a large lawn surrounded by cabanas to two different birdhouse fountains.
I will only post some of the pictures here.
I have a full set on FB for those who are my friends there.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bouncing Baby Boy

My grandson turned 4 this past Thursday and today he had his first official birthday party with classmates. His dad did a wonderful job of planning the party which took place in our back yard. I usually took kids out somewhere at this age like Chuck E Cheese's because I am lazy and hate to supervise a bunch of preschoolers at my house. But my son jumped in with a vengence. He ordered a bounce house which arrived and left very quietly. The bounce house had a sports theme with basketball hoops inside. My son also rigged up his speakers and programmed his computer to play music all afternoon. He set up battery operated bubble machines that blew bubbles all through the party. There was pizza, a pinata, a birthday cake, presents and party bags. All I did was attend, socialize with some of the parents and open a bottle of wine for some of the nondriving adults. My husband was the official photographer. The baby got walked around by one of my son's friends and even his two friends from forever who were defense linemen in high school (i.e. beefy boys) showed up to join in the reverie. I watched the kids in the bounce house for a while and think that bouncing must produce the same neurochemicals as meditation because they looked like they were in a zone.

All in all a good party and a good day.

Doctor Doctor Give the News

I finally went to the doctor a few weeks ago to discuss my overwhelming, sometimes bone crushing, fatigue. The internist I see is also my husband's primary doctor. As usual, my husband is much beloved by this doctor, notwithstanding the plethora of health problems my husband has not historically addressed. My son and I have had the experience of going to this doctor and feeling like we are not viewed as individual patients but extensions of my husband. That has lead to the joke of predicting that the doctor will say "Hello Paul's Wife [Son]. How is Paul doing" whenever my son or I go to see him.

I also have the experience of this doctor attributing all my ailments to "stress" (the kind word) aka "you are crazy". So I fully expected that I would get both statements in my recent visit. Sure enough, within a few questions to me about why I was there, I got the "how is Paul doing?" question. Then moments later I got the "Have you seen a psychiatrist" question. "This is most likely caused by stress". My response this time was that I had not seen a psychiatrist because what else would a psychiatrist tell me other than my physical problems are really psychological. You can see why this doctor may like Paul better than me.

Last night I got my blood work results. Everything is normal--sugar, thyroid, electrolytes. My cholesterol level is 155-- HDL 55, LDL 84 (for which I got a "very good") and triglycerides 77. These are basically the same numbers as last time I had blood work done 2 years ago even though I have gained weight. I would love to get my HDL above 60 so I read an article about how to raise HDL. Aerobic exercise (bah, I already do some), lose weight (bah, can't seem to anymore) and, what's this -- WINE? I do not really drink very much but this article assured me I would be healthier with a glass of wine a day. Hmmm. For the calories, I would rather have a cookie. Why can't cookies raise HDL?

I could hear it in my doctor's voice when he gave me the results. "Nothing physically wrong. It's all in your mind, you crazy person. How is Paul, by the way?"

Time for a Woman

According to Bill Clinton, our country has changed and has moved away from biases based on race, ethnicity, gender and religion. I think President Clinton is overstating it a bit but I was pleased to see two articles this morning in the male-centric NYT that focus on the accomplishments of women.

First, on the front page, the NYT talks about how President Obama has so many more choices of women for the Supreme Court than his predecessors when Justice O'Connor and Ginsburg were nominated. Some of the choices look great on paper too--Sonia Sotomayor is a Princeton and Yale graduate (although I have other qualms about her based on personal experience), Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, Janet Napolitano and even Kim Wardlaw on the 9th Circuit. A surfeit of talented accomplished women in public places!

Second, in the back of the front section there was a favorable article about Hillary Clinton adapting to her role as chief diplomat. Typically it is hard to find any news about Hillary but the NYT gave her props for stepping up on "key issues" : Pakistan, Iran and Cuba. She has put a positive spin on the super envoys calling them "force multipliers" that have "bought us time." Nice way of saying that she is up to speed and in charge now, boys!

All in all, a good day for women in the public eye. I just hope that Obama does not pick an intellectually and morally weak woman to appease the forces across the aisle. There are plenty of good women to put on the court.

Bill Clinton

I had the pleasure of attending a speech by Bill Clinton last night to a room of corporate lawyers honoring people who do pro bono work. The speech was very inspiring . Clinton spoke about communitarianism which I believe, although I am not sure, was a new phrase for diversity and globalism. [ADDENDUM: communitarianism is a philosophy/policy espoused by Amitai Etzioni, who I met once but whose work I never studied.] Clinton observed that Obama's election reflects a difference in a culture--that we are multi-ethnic and more gender balanced than we were 30 years ago. And we are all interconnected throughout the world as he observed the effect on certain Irish citizens due to the collapse of banks in Iceland. Therefore policy to affect problems must take into account this world community.

Clinton also spoke about his work in Africa to get low cost AIDs meds to sick people. He said that the most important question of our time is not what the problems are but how to solve them. He downplayed the financial crisis which he joked would be over "November 8 at 3:30 pm". Instead he said the important issues involve what to do to fix the worsening environment (e.g eliminate landfills such as the one in Mumbai shown in Slumdog Millionaire along a model adopted in Sweden to turn landfills into playgrounds) cure disease (e.g put collective together to sell low price generic drugs to low income people) , address people left homeless by natural disasters such as the tsunami and Katrina. He said that the legacy he wanted to leave and that we all should want to leave is to make a difference to people. After listening to him, I wanted to volunteer for something that is different from making money for the movie industry. I also reflected, having just finished Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that like Carter Clinton may make more major accomplishments in his post presidential years than in office (although Clinton did have a better run in office than Carter)

Here is a video clip from the beginning of Clinton's speech last night when he was warming up the crowd before he got serious:

video