Friday, January 30, 2009

LegalMist's Amazing Super Bowl Prediction

Here it is, folks, the moment you've been awaiting! LegalMist will now predict the outcome of the Super Bowl!

I would say that I can't believe the Arizona Cardinals are even in the Super Bowl, but I'd be lying; after all, I predicted it, didn't I? In fact, as you may remember, I was spot-on with my prediction that the Cardinals would win the Division Championship game, and I missed the points by only two per team.
Although we had a friendly little competition going last time (well, I did anyway -- not sure Dr. Zibbs even noticed), I'm not sure whether Dr. Zibbs will have a prediction for this game, since his Eagles are out of the running. If he does, it will be interesting to see who is closer this time around.

As with my last prediction, this forecast is based on a complex analysis of various factors including statistical analysis of each team's scoring to date, weather patterns in the Pacific, and astrological effects, with just barely a dash of wishful thinking thrown in. Plus a gaze into my crystal ball.
Without further ado...

My prediction for the Super Bowl:

Cardinals: 32

Pittsburgh: 29
Yes, I realize this puts me in a very small minority of persons who actually believe that the Cardinals will win the Super Bowl. I may even be the only person in that category. But the way I see it, they are on a roll, and they are well overdue for a big win.

Even if you don't believe me that they'll win the whole thing, you've got to believe me that they will beat the point spread (7! No way!) that the Vegas oddsmakers have set.

Legal Disclaimer / Warning: As the investment companies like to point out, past performance is not a guarantee of future success -- for either football teams or psychic score predictors. So, follow my advice at your own risk; there are no guarantees.

Then again, based on my practically perfect prediction for the Championship game, you'll ignore my advice at your own risk, too.
See, it's risky either way ... Might as well believe in the miracle!

Happy Super Bowl Weekend, everyone!

Another Fine Award

Bella, over at That Damn Expat, gave me an award! Thank you, Bella!

The award is called the "Premio Dardos," which is Italian for "Darts Award" or "Darts Prize." Here it is (isn't it a beauty?):

Here is the official text that accompanies it:

"This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

I'm honored that Bella, one of my favorite bloggers, has given me a prize for "adding value to the Web." I certainly would like to think that I occasionally provide a laugh or a new insight that makes someone's day a little better or more interesting, and it's wonderful knowing that Bella thinks I do! So, thank you again, dear Bella!

I am also supposed to pass the award along to 15 other bloggers (and contact them to let them know they've been selected). There are so many awesome bloggers out there, it is hard to pick just 15, but here they are, 15 bloggers and their blogs, who embody the values the award is designed to recognize:
1. Ms. Florida Transplant, at "Just a Girl... and Her Dogs"
2. Beck, over at "Frog and Toad are Still Friends"
3. Lisa, at "The Butterfly Farmer"
4. Angie, at "Stumble Thru Life Gracefully"
5. Tova Darling, at "Secret Life of Tova Darling"
6. Green, at "Ramblings of a Green Yogurt"
7. Skyler's Dad, at "Some Days It's Not Worth Chewing Through the Leather Straps"
8. Whiskeymarie
9. Jenners, at "Life With a Little One and More"
10. Legal Diva, at "The Reasonable Person"
11. Dave, at "Five String Guitar"
12. Alice, at "Mindless Rambling of a 26 Year Old"
13. Laura, at "My Thoughts - Uninterrupted"
14. Peggy, at "Musings of Meggie"
15. Vodka Mom, at "I Need a Martini Mom"

If some of you have already received this award, sorry for the duplication -- just know that lots of us think you are fantastic.

I have to say, though, I am curious about the name of the award.

The picture appears to be an old mechanical typewriter with golden words erupting from it. Pretty cool image, actually. But I can't quite make out the words at the bottom of the award - Best Blog.... something. So what, exactly, is the relevance of the name "Darts Prize"? How do "Darts" relate to blogging?

Being the neurotic attorney that I am, I couldn't just accept the award at face value; I had to try to do some research. This is part of the reason it has taken me so long to acknowledge Bella's kindness in giving me this award.

First, I traced this award back as far as I could, from one awardee to the next, all the way to last year when it seems to have first been awarded from an Italian blogger to a bilingual blogger here in the States. Even though I took Italian 23 years ago, I couldn't read all of the Italian blogger's explanation of the award, but it seemed to pretty much track what is stated above -- with no explanation of the "Darts" issue.

Since my Italian is pretty rusty, I had reached the end of the line as far as my ability to learn anything useful about the award that way.

So I ran a Google search for "Premio Dardos." There were 611,000 results. That's a lot of bloggers! My review of the first few pages of results did not turn up any new information and I didn't have time to read all 611,000 entries.

So I gave up on finding the "official" explanation of the meaning of the name, and turned to my analytical skills to divine a meaning.

I came up with three theories: (1) The name "Darts Prize" refers to the fact that I have been "targeted" to receive this award; (2) The name "Darts Prize" refers to the precision with which the words are crafted on this blog (analogous to the precision with which the darts player must aim his dart at the target); (3) The original award-giver made a list of all the bloggers she liked and threw darts at the list to decide who would win the prize. (You can see how my superior analytical skills have made me a successful attorney).

Does anyone else have any theories?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

LMK's Art

My daughter loves art. She has always loved to draw, color, paint ... create. She is not a child prodigy in the sense of being able to paint perfect representations of things at the age of 5. But she has a good eye for proportion, design, and detail.

For example, at age 8, I would never have thought to draw highlights in a dog's eye, but she did. Heck, when she was 3, she was putting eyebrows on her line-figure drawings to show various expressions -- anger, surprise, happiness.... When she was in first grade, she drew a picture of me (stick figure in a dress) in front of a wood-framed stand-up mirror. How do I know it was wood, not metal or plastic, around the mirror? Because she drew the wood grain, and it looked realistic! And she got the angle on the reflection just right, too. So even though she hadn't developed her people-drawing talents yet, I thought (still think) the picture itself was amazing, coming, as it did, from a 6 year old. When she was in second grade, she was one of six kids in her school selected to have her art (a butterfly collage) hang in the School District Office, along with art created by 6 kids from each other school in the district. So she's no Michaelangelo (not yet, anyway), but she's pretty good for a kid.

My Mom suggested I start an online gallery of her art, and also said she wanted to buy a fridge magnet and some note cards, if I would just make it possible. So I uploaded one of my Mom's favorite pieces of my daughter's art (a purple butterfly) onto and used it to create some items for sale online -- a mug, thank you cards, fridge magnets, stickers, keychains, mouse pads, apron.... even postage stamps. They have a lot of things you can make on Zazzle. Here is a sample thank you card:

Dr. Zibbs has some items available on Zazzle, too, including this coffee mug:

so if your taste runs to Blue Yaks instead of kid art, you should check out the "That Blue Yak" line of goods on Zazzle. You're welcome, Dr. Zibbs. (He didn't even ask me to do this promo; I'm just nice that way).

My daughter then brought me another piece of art she made and asked if I'd put that up on the site, too. So I did. The second one is not my favorite, but it's cute -- a puppy dog with angular-looking ears. Here is a sample "awesome" sticker:

So now we have a whopping two designs in the gallery. I am still working on editing them -- for example, some of them need a little work re: centering the design on the product, or revising the color scheme. My Mom says I should add my daughter's initials and date to each piece, as well as the web address for the gallery in case anyone sees the mousepad or thank you card or whatever, and wants to buy one.

I am thinking no one but family will actually buy anything, and they will know who made the stuff and won't want the* web address on the art.

What do you think? Should I dream big on behalf of my daughter and assume that strangers may see and love her art work and therefore may want to know where to buy it? Or would the addition of the web address to the products take away from the overall design?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The (Not-So-)Sexy Six Random Things Meme

Skyler’s Dad over at Some Days It’s Not Worth Chewing Through the Leather Straps tagged me for a meme – the "sexy six" meme. I'm not sure where the "sexy" part comes in, since all it seems to ask for is six "random" things about me. Do you think Sandra Bullock is sexy? Because if so, then I'm going to consider that I've satisfied the "sexy" part of the meme, too. Otherwise, I'm just going to pretend it didn't exist.

In any event, I’m happy to play along and post 6 random things about me, in case you are actually interested and didn’t get enough random things with the "Honest Scrap" award and the prior "Six Random Things" meme. But, as I often do, I’m going to skip the part where I’m supposed to tag 6 more folks to play along, since I am never sure whether folks want to be bothered with these meme things or not. On the other hand, I don’t want to stop you from playing if you like, so if you want some blog fodder, consider yourself tagged!

Here are six random things about me:

1. I have a half-inch scar on my right leg from when I was about 8 years old and my class took a field trip to Silver Springs in Florida. I was (ignoring the posted signs and the direct instructions from the chaperones not to climb on things and) walking along the edge of an old row boat that was sitting there, for display purposes only, at the side of one of the paths. I slipped and fell, and a rusty nail pulled a big chunk of my shin flesh off on my way down, leaving a pretty deep hole in my leg. Funny thing was, it didn’t even hurt.... until I looked at it and saw the bloody hole. Then I started screaming. One of those kid-with-open-mouth-and-eyes-pinched-shut-wait-for-it-here-it-comes-wait-wait-wait-it’s-going-to-be-loud kind of screams. I had to miss the glass-bottom boat tour and go to the infirmary instead, where I refused to allow stitches and insisted that a bandage would do, which is why I still have a large scar to remind me of the fun.

2. I love to bake, and I am good at it. My cakes are beautiful *and* delicious. Not like those disasters over at Cake Wrecks.

3. I am a terrible cook.

4. I occasionally teach a class for students who want to improve their scores on the Law School Admissions Test ("LSAT"). My students have told me I look like Sandra Bullock. I find it oddly appropriate (accurate or not) that they would compare me to the star of the 1994 movie "Speed," given my prior job driving a bus and my penchant for driving fast.

5. When I was in law school, I was a student member of the admissions committee for two years. One of those years, the committee selected for admission to the law school a man who had just been released from prison, after serving his sentence for murder. (It was an interesting, and very contentious, committee meeting...)

6. I have studied Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese. Japanese was the easiest to learn to speak. You pronounce the words just as they are written (based on the sounds represented by the Japanese syllabaries – I never did learn to read / write the "kanji" or word characters), and you can actually follow the grammatical rules. There are only three irregular verbs. I loved it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Important Stuff Alert - Read This Now

A lot of my readers, perhaps all of you, already know about Skyler's Dad's blog, "Some Days It's Not Worth Chewing Through the Leather Straps." If you haven't read his blog yet, you should. His posts run the gamut from hilarious to thought-provoking to heartbreaking. Mostly hilarious, though. I'm sure you'll enjoy his blog.

But even if you don't want another blog to read and/or follow, at least go there right now and read this letter. It's heartfelt and well-written. Read it, and pass it on to as many people as you can.

Oh, and if you happen to be, or to know, a legislator, governor, congressperson, or member of our new President's administration, please make sure they read it, too.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Kid Funnies

When my daughter was in preschool, I became pregnant with baby #2. Being the neurotic mom that I am, I rushed out and bought a book entitled "What to Expect When Mommy Is Having a Baby" to help my daughter more fully understand the pregnancy concept. It was a good book for a preschooler, if a little "too cute." It provided simple information about how the baby grows inside the mom and how it is born, with helpful, anatomically correct but not overly graphic or detailed, illustrations.

My daughter loved it, and I had to read it to her every night for what felt like 6 years but can't possibly have been more than 9 months, since she let me stop reading it after the baby was born.

If you want to get a feel for the book, click here and check out a couple of pages. (Dr. Z, don't get your hopes up. There are no good boobie illustrations here.)

One day when I went to pick her up at her preschool, I overheard the following conversation:

Small kid voice: "My mommy has a baby growing in her tummy."

Preschool teacher's perky happy voice: "That's right, Analisia, she does. LegalMist's Kid, your mommy has a baby growing her her tummy, too, doesn't she?"

LegalMist's Kid: "Well, actually, it's called a "Uterus."

Ay yi yi. I love that she learned the anatomically correct information, and I was proud of her for pronouncing it correctly. Not so thrilled that she felt she should show off her knowledge in such a condescending way!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cardinals Beat Eagles, 32-25 -- Super Bowl Bound!

The Cardinals won the NFC Championship game!

My prediction: Cardinals 34, Eagles 27.

Actual Result: Cardinals 32, Eagles 25.

I was pretty close to right on. And a lot closer than Dr. Zibbs. I think we all know who to turn to next time for football advice, right?

Wish my Cardinals luck in the Super Bowl!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tova Darling's Button Pendant Contest

Go here for your chance to win one of Tova Darling's adorable button pendants!

But if you don't win, don't despair. You can buy them at, too -- just click on the link from Tova's site. Happy shopping!

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Prediction - Cardinals vs. Eagles

(Photo by Texas Mustang on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons attribution license)

The Arizona Cardinals are in the playoffs. Not only that, but they are doing well in the playoffs. They are doing so well, they are scheduled to play the Philadelphia Eagles (Dr. Zibbs' favorite team) in the Conference Championship on Sunday here at home!! They have a real shot at competing in the Superbowl.

(I can't believe I got to write that!)
Long ago, back in the mid-1990's, my husband and I had season tickets to the Cardinals. For years after that, I ran the football pool at work and watched the Cardinals obsessively every weekend. But this year, for the first time in many years, I have completely ignored the NFL season. Until the playoffs. When suddenly (well, not really "suddenly" -- they've worked on it all year; it's just that I suddenly noticed how well they are doing), my team is in the running for the SuperBowl!

All I can say is, "wow."

The sensation is a little like watching your kids grow up. When did she become so self-confident? you ask yourself, when you notice - really notice - how she handles herself at school this year. When did he develop such compassion?...

I want to know: When did the hapless, hopeless team I've known (and loved / hated for years) suddenly become playoff material? When did the Cardinals learn to play real football?

I am somewhat annoyed that the Cardinals couldn't manage this playoff thing 15 years ago, back when I did not have kids and therefore had time and money for season tickets and might have finagled tickets to a playoff game. But oh no, back when I had season tickets, the Cardinals were the laughingstock of the NFL and the stands were routinely only half filled -- and with the other team's fans.
...Except for one crazy fellow who sat in our section and showed up for every game dressed and painted head to toe like a Cardinal, complete with fake beak and feathers. His enthusiasm carried the whole section. He cheered loudly and shouted obnoxiously at the opposing team's players, and his enthusiasm, volume, and obnoxiousness remained constant no matter how soundly the Cardinals were defeated. He just liked to cheer for his team. I miss that guy. I hope he will get to be there this weekend.

Here is my prediction for the Championship Game on Sunday:

Cardinals 34
Eagles 27

This prediction is based on a complex formula involving statistical analysis of each team's scoring to date, weather patterns in the Pacific, and astrological effects, with just barely a dash of wishful thinking thrown in.

I am wondering whether Dr. Zibbs agrees with my complex statistical analysis and prediction? I think he should buy me a beer if I am right. What do you think?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Meditation on the 1950s Housewife

With a recent post, Angie over at "Stumble Thru Life Gracefully" got me thinking about my career choice versus the limited choices available to the average middle class woman in the 1950s. That Damn Expat's "Wife Tips" meme also contributed to my thoughts.

There is no doubt that I have benefitted enormously from the "women’s movement." I was able to choose a career that, most days, I enjoy. I make a decent living being a lawyer. I like legal "puzzles" and helping people solve their legal problems. Overall, I’m glad I was not born in the 1930s and was not required to be a middle class homemaker for my entire adult life. And yet....

There are days when I am sick to death of being a lawyer and dealing with obnoxious people and sticky legal issues and judges who "don't get it" and I think, wow, I wish I could stay home all day and have time to clean my house and bake cookies and do art projects with my kids. Even though I don’t love cleaning, I think I would pretty quickly find a routine for getting the major housecleaning and errands done, and would then find time for fun things, too, like reading, baking, bicycling, trying new recipes, perhaps an art class, playing tennis... whatever.

If my husband could afford to have me stay home and do all the cleaning, shopping, and errands, and if I were willing, it would undoubtedly make his life easier, too. I would handle chores like getting his oil changed, taking out the garbage, shopping, paying bills, mowing the lawn, picking up uniforms for his soccer team at school, and so forth that he is always having to squeeze in during weekends and evenings, and we would have more time to just "hang out" with each other and with the kids.

I also often think how nice it would be, as a busy attorney, to have a "wife" to do things for me, like clean the house, run errands, cook, shop for groceries, pay bills, iron clothes, take the kids to music class and doctor appointments, etc.

When I worked at a large law firm, I always felt there was "unfair competition" in the billable hours race. Many (perhaps even most) of the male associates had wives who stayed home and handled all of the day-to-day cleaning, tasks, and errands for them. Thus, it was easier for them to show up at 8 a.m. and stay until 6 p.m., while remaining focused on their work throughout the day. Because my husband and I divide such tasks, I was often having to show up late or leave early to handle some errand or another, or make telephone calls during the day to schedule doctor appointments, or to rush home and clean the house because we were planning to have company that evening. It made it hard to compete in the "billable hours" game, and led to me working lots of late nights and weekends – time I would rather have spent with my husband.

Similarly, if I could afford to have my husband stay home – and if he were willing – to do all those day-to-day errands, kid-related tasks, and major housecleaning, it would definitely make my life easier and would probably help me focus more on my job instead of on the dry-cleaning that needs to be picked up or the kid party that needs to be planned. Plus I’d have more free time at home and, without the ever-growing "to do" list, I would be more relaxed and be better able to enjoy my husband and kids. (I’d be a little sad, though, I have to confess, to miss all those piano lessons and sports practices that I currently attend.)

Thus, I can genuinely understand how the men in the 1950s were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic when women wanted to stop being happy little homemakers and go get a job. I mean, if you were the recipient of all that extra assistance, which allowed you to focus on your career and get regular raises and promotions, you certainly wouldn't want to give it up, either, thereby finding yourself with a dirty house, more errands on your "to do" list, a wife who now complains that her day was stressful and By the way, honey, can you cook dinner tonight? – and on top of all that, to suddenly have to compete in the workplace with a whole new contingent of bright, motivated people who are out to beat you in the "I want a promotion" game.

"What? What happened to my paradise?" those poor men must have been thinking. No wonder they objected.

And yet, the change had to come. It was simply wrong to insist that women stay home and "take care of their man."

But the problem, as I see it, was not in the division of labor per se – one spouse staying home to cook, clean, and generally "run" life, while the other earned a paycheck. The problem, as I see it, was in forcing people into this job, particularly when the decision about who should be forced into the homemaker role was based solely on gender.

In other words, I definitely see "homemaking" as a valid choice of occupation for a woman or a man to make (assuming the other partner makes enough income for this to be feasible, and agrees that it is a good choice for the marriage). In fact, it is a choice that could well be good for many people – and their kids – if affordable and if both people want this arrangement, and if both people accord due respect to the sacrifices and hardships the other is enduring.

There also has to be some recognition of the value of the homemaking role and of the fact that voluntarily undertaking the homemaking role will severely limit a person’s future employment options, so that if people get divorced, there is a provision for the former homemaker to receive a reasonable amount of financial assistance for a reasonable amount of time from the former beneficiary of all that homemaking, so he / she can obtain a degree and get a job and/or find a new "love" who likes the idea of marrying a homemaker.

The difference between my little utopic ideal and the stifling atmosphere of the 1950s is all about the attitude and the options -- a career of homemaking should be an equal-opportunity option -- i.e., a choice that men, as well as women, can freely make without being ridiculed. It should also be a true choice -- i.e., a choice that is made only if both partners to the marriage agree. There should be no unilateral decisions to abandon the work force and the income it provides, and no attempts to force the other person into the homemaker role by any person or institution in our society.

And it should be a choice that both parties recognize has monetary value and yet limits the homemaker’s future options, so that if they end up divorcing, there is no one crying and whining about being required to pay alimony for a reasonable amount of time.

What do you think?

Should all people, women and men, get a job and split those household duties? Is it hopelessly anachronistic and only the province of the devoutly religious to have a stay-at-home parent? Or should it be a widely accepted and even promoted occupational choice for both men and women?

If you are a homemaker (male or female), do you enjoy your role? Do you prefer it, or would you rather be working?

If you have a job / career outside the home (male or female), do you enjoy it? Do you prefer it, or would you be a homemaker if you could?

Whatever you do, do you feel "judged" by those who have made a different choice?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm Just Full of Surprises

Can you stand another car story? If not, you may want to skip this one. If so, then read on:

In light of my third "confession" in this post (that I love to drive fast like a NASCAR driver and I'm obnoxious about it, besides), you might find it surprising that, on my seventeenth birthday, I actually received a ticket for -- get this -- driving too slowly! Can you believe they even allow police officers to ticket teens for driving "too slowly"!?! You would think they would award medals for that kind of thing instead.

As you might surmise, it wasn't really a ticket for driving too slowly, although that's what the checked box on the form said. But that was just the officer's euphemism for "she flipped me off and was a smart-alec besides, so I'm going to make her pay for that," because there was no box to check for that particular offense.

Here is what happened:

I was driving my dad's fiancee's car* (a 1972 Mustang) one very rainy night on an unlit, somewhat remote, curvy, hilly, narrow, very bumpy and very puddly gravel road** through the woods in Northern Virginia.*** The car was sliding around each curve, and I was a little afraid I would run off the road and into the ditch, particularly at the bottom of the hill where the one-lane bridge crossed the creek, when a car came hurrying up behind me with its bright lights on, shining directly in my rearview mirror.

The Mustang did not have one of those day / night mirrors. I could barely see the road in front of me before this other car arrived on the scene, and now the lights reflecting in my mirror were pretty much blinding me.

I tried speeding up a little to put more distance between us. It didn't work; he stayed right on my tail.

I slowed way down and drove as close as I could to the side of the road, hoping he'd pass me. He did not.

I stopped, hoping he would go on around me and leave. He stopped behind me and waited.

I opened my window and waved for him to pass me. Still, he waited behind me.

I got scared and drove quickly away, then slowed to a speed that would ensure I did not run off the road. The last thing I needed was to be in a car wreck deep in the woods with this maniac stalker right behind me. (If I had seen the movie "Deliverance" before that incident, I would have been humming that tune from the dueling banjos scene while I drove.****) The stalker followed, close behind, those bright lights still blazing away in my rearview mirror.

In an effort to appear brave instead of scared out of my wits by this nut job, I flipped him off. He flipped on the blue and red lights and the siren and pulled me over.
. . . . .

The officer swaggered up to the window and asked for my license and registration. As I dug them up, he directed his flashlight's beam into the car and, so far as he could without knocking off his Stetson, poked his head into the open window and had a good look around.

He noticed that the horn was not attached to the steering wheel (it had an unfortunate habit of falling off every time the car went over a bump.)

"Whar's yer horn?" he asked.

"In the back seat," I replied.


"Well, sir, it falls off whenever I hit a bump, and this is sort of a bumpy road, don't you think? It seemed a little silly to keep reattaching it on this road, so I tossed it in the back seat to get it out of my lap. I figured I'd put it back on later, when I got to the pavement. Do you want me to reattach it right now? I'm just a wee bit afraid it might fall right off again, though." (Sadly, my tone was a "wee bit" sarcastic throughout this long-winded explanation. He didn't interrupt me, though, or tell me to stop being sarcastic ... just gave me more rope to hang myself with....)

"Well now, that horn's not doin' ya' much good in the back seat, now is it?"

"Well, no sir. But I haven't really needed it tonight anyway. All the bad drivers have been behind me." (Oh sh** I shouldn't have said that.... why can't I keep my fool mouth shut?!?)

"That so, eh? You wait here, missy." He swaggered back toward his red and blue blinking cruiser.

An eternity and a half later, he appeared at my window and, mimicking my sarcastic tone, said, "Happy Birthday, LegalMist," while handing me a ticket for "driving too slowly" and "failure to maintain proper equipment on the vehicle."

(If you want to know what this cruel man looks like, just go to the dictionary and look up the word "jerk." His picture is right there next to the definition. I think they've even computer age-progressed it. And, um, no... no, I haven't held a grudge for over 20 years or anything stupid like that.... ahem...)

I was young and foolish and too scared to tell anyone I had flipped off a police officer and then had been sarcastic besides, or why I had felt so provoked, so I just paid the ticket and didn't tell anyone the story behind it. My dad's fiancee was very kind and paid the fine for the "equipment" portion of the ticket, saying she should have had that horn fixed before. When I told my Dad about the "back story" years later, he laughed and said he always knew there had to be more to that ticket than I had let on, since he had never known me to drove "too slowly."

I learned two valuable lessons that day: I never flip the bird at anyone when I drive, no matter how annoying they are. And I am never sarcastic with police officers, even when they deserve it.
* It was a bright red 1972 Mustang fastback; this was before I got my awesome 1965 'Stang) My soon-to-be stepmom was a very cool lady to let me borrow her beloved 'Stang.

** I tried to think of more adjectives to describe this road but I think I used them all already. Please do not have me arrested for "adjective abuse." Thank you.

*** Ironically, the road was named "Lawyers Road"; it has since been paved and widened and is now in the middle of the suburban sprawl. You can tell I am a lawyer because I have three footnotes in one sentence, and all three contain irrelevant matter that I find fascinating but which may be of no interest at all to others.

**** For your viewing pleasure, here is the aforementioned "dueling banjos" scene:


Monday, January 12, 2009

Pulitzer Project Book Announcement: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (winner, 2005)

For those who are reading along with me for the Pulitzer Project (explained in this prior post), I have selected my next book to read: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize winner in 2005.

The book gets good reviews on the Pulitzer Project web site by those who enjoy introspective, personal narrative type novels, and is not as recommended for those who prefer lots of action and adventure.

Here is a link to it on I am sure you could also buy it at Borders or Barnes & Noble or wherever else you like to shop, and it may even be available for free at your local library.

I got it as a Christmas gift. :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Car Adventures, or, Don't Forget To Eat Your Black Eyed Peas For New Year's (Reprise)

I told you previously about buying my first-ever brand new car, Lady Too. Today I'd like to tell you about my adventures in 2008 with Lady Too, in an effort to save you from the terrible mistake I made.

And no, the mistake was not in buying the car. The Chrysler 300 is a very nice car.

My mistake was that, tragically, last New Year’s Day, I forgot to eat my black eyed peas to ensure luck and prosperity. It is now clear to me that I must never forget this important task again. I remembered and ate them on January 2, 2008, but that was obviously too late to prevent all of the bad luck in 2008.

To refresh your memories: On January 13, 2008, I purchased my very first new car ever, a shiny brand-new Chrysler 300, promptly named Lady Too.

On January 21, 2008, Lady Too was stolen. That’s right, folks, stolen! She was parked directly in front of my house when I went to bed that night, but when we awoke on January 22, she was gone. Vanished. Just an empty spot where my car had been. Can you imagine?

So much for the alarm system that not only was supposed to make noise and alert me if someone broke into the car, but also was supposed to keep the engine from starting. Impressive thieves, I guess, although I don't remember being impressed so much as annoyed and very sad when I first discovered their talent on that January morning.

I went through the whole grief routine: denial (looked out the window 38 times just to confirm she was really gone), anger ("Those horrible awful terrible f-ing no-good crooks!!!"); bargaining ("please please please let my car come back -- I'll never drive like a maniac again, really!"); despair ("Now what will I do? I just bought that car! I can't afford to go buy another one! There probably isn't another white 2007 with a sun roof in town anyway...."); resignation/acceptance ("I guess it could be worse; at least they didn't break into the house and hurt my kids; my insurance will cover it; it will be ok eventually..."). Ack, how melodramatic could I be, anyway?

Those thieves must have eaten their black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, though. In looking for the registration papers to provide to the police, I soon realized that I had accidentally left them, along with the spare key, in the glove box, in the little pouch that came with the owner's manual. I had brought the manual in its little pouch with me on my errands the previous day so that I could check what kind of gas to buy when I filled the tank for the first time. I still don't know how the thieves got into the car to begin with -- it was locked and the alarm was set -- but they had to be pretty darned happy when they discovered that they would not need to hot wire it because some fool had left the key in the glove box of this new car with fewer than 300 miles on it. And even happier when they discovered a full tank of gas!

So now they had the car and the key and the registration papers -- not to mention the full tank of gas -- and I knew I would never see Lady Too again.

And – even more bad luck for me – I had just given away my little green Lady on January 20, so now I was without any car at all. I couldn't exactly call up my friend and say "Hey my new car got stolen, can I have the old one back?" since he had just spent several hundred dollars for new tires and brakes. It just didn't seem right somehow....

On the bright side, my kids and I have bikes so they had no excuse to miss school. And my insurance company provided a rental car for me the next day, so I wasn't without transportation for long.

My emergency black-eyed pea consumption on January 2 must have paid off at least a little because -- amazing things do happen! -- after a couple of weeks the police found Lady Too. The thieves had simply driven her until she ran out of gas and then abandoned her on a freeway entrance ramp. Too bad I hadn't procrastinated that gas purchase a day longer.

The police took a week or so to "process" the vehicle – dusted it for prints and looked for other evidence, I guess. So a few weeks after she was stolen, Lady Too was returned to me.

Even more amazing was the fact that the hoodlums who stole my Lady Too didn’t wreck her or tear her apart at a chop shop. They didn't spill anything inside or shred the leather seats or rip out the stereo. Heck, they didn’t even re-program my radio stations, although they did manually change the setting to a different station. And when they abandoned her, they left the key in the ignition. There were just a couple of scratches on the bumper, my kids' booster seats and a few other little things were missing, and there was a footprint on the ceiling liner, but overall, Lady Too was only slightly the worse for her adventures.

So avoid it if you can, of course, but if you absolutely must have your car stolen, I highly recommend having it stolen by these apparently professional and reasonably courteous thieves.

My insurance covered the cleaning and touch-up paint, and a mechanical inspection showed there was no damage to the engine. By the end of February, I was driving Lady Too again. I was thrilled! I was amazed! I was a little shocked, too, really, since I had not expected to see her ever again. In any event, I figured my luck was changing, and the emergency January 2 black-eyed peas had done their job.

But then, on the way home from returning the rental car, some idiot who failed to look before quickly changing lanes nearly side-swiped my husband's car. My husband swerved to avoid the other car and dented his rim on the curb. A costly repair. Ok, that happens sometimes, I thought. It's not about the peas.

And then a few weeks later, while driving Lady Too on the freeway, a rock hit the windshield and I had to have it replaced. Ok, that happens sometimes, I thought. We can't blame that on the peas, can we?

And then the price of gas skyrocketed to $4.00-plus per gallon, causing me to seriously question the wisdom of trading in my green Lady (which got 27 mpg on average) for Lady Too (which gets 20 mpg on a good day). What was I thinking? Still, though, this just *couldn't* be about those darn peas, could it? Surely I can blame this on George Bush instead, right?

And then while I was out of town for a week or so over the summer and the car was parked in front of my house, someone hit the back passenger side bumper and damaged the bumper and taillight, requiring another repair. Aaaaagghh! I had to admit it. I just should have eaten those darn peas!

And then one day I took my daughter to her piano lesson, and when we got in the car to leave at 6:15 p.m., the transmission would not move from "Park" to "Drive." It’s under warranty, so I called the dealer's repair shop, but it was closed already. I called AAA and waited for the tow truck driver to tow us home. He said this is a common occurrence with 300's. There is some weak link in the transmission which they fix and then there is no problem after that. (If they know this is a problem, why don’t they fix them before they sell them?!?) Meanwhile, he had to crawl under the car and disconnect something in the drive shaft so he could pull the car up onto the back of the tow truck, quite a lengthy process. The dealer picked up the car the next day and fixed it for free, so that wasn’t too bad, in the end.... still though.... those peas were haunting me.

And then on Halloween, some hoodlums hit my windshield with a rock or bat or something and shattered it and dented the frame around the windshield, so I had to have the windshield replaced and the frame repaired. Aaargghh... the peas....

And then Chrysler announced huge financial and labor difficulties, leading to speculation that it might not exist a whole lot longer. So much for my 10 year bumper-to-bumper warranty.... and all for the lack of a few black eyed peas!

And then, thankfully, 2009 dawned, and I remembered to eat my black eyed peas first thing on New Year’s Day.

And then on January 4, I received a notice in the mail: They caught the evil hoodlum who stole my car last year. I have to say I’m amazed. I had assumed that would never happen.

And gas is down to $1.50 per gallon.

And Chrysler might survive at least a few more years to honor my warranty.

Perhaps this year Lady Too will suffer no further damages, and Chrysler will recover from its economic difficulties, and gas will stay in the $1-$2 range, and I will happily drive my beautiful, fully repaired, no-longer-new Lady Too.

Life is glorious again! I ate my black eyed peas this year!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. Zibbs

We interrupt the continuing* saga of Lady Too to bring you this important announcement:

Today is Dr. Zibbs' birthday!


(If you are wondering who Dr. Zibbs is, you just don't know what you are missing and you should go visit his award-winning blog, That Blue Yak, immediately. You can either Google this: That Blue Yak, or you can just click on one of the many links to Dr. Z's award-winning blog from my award-winning blog.)

I just found out yesterday that today is Dr. Zibbs' birthday -- wow, a truly monumental event, and I was unaware until yesterday! I feel so.... clueless.

Ah, well, no time to bake him a cake myself, so I'll just send him a virtual cake. Click here to see what it looks like, Dr. Z! (For those of you too lazy to click on the link, it's a Yak cake, from Ace of Cakes).

(Knowing your obsession with boobies, Dr. Z, I was going to get you a boobie cake, but while I was searching for one, my computer was invaded by some wierd virus and I had to stop, run my anti-virus software, and reboot. So you get a Yak, instead. But hey, the thought was there.)

I don't have time to send Dr. Zibbs an actual gift, either. So, here is your virtual gift, Zibbsy!

I know you will need these after you celebrate your birthday by drinking massive quantities of alcohol and falling down some stairs somewhere.
And here is a bonus video for you, Dr. Z! I was going to make a video of me singing the Happy Birthday song, but, alas, no time.... (are you detecting a trend here?). So this funny video of some people singing happy birthday to their cubicle-farm co-worker will have to do!

All of the above was completely unnecessary, because the only thing Dr. Z really requested for his birthday is that he wants to have his highest traffic week ever. I am hereby doing my part, providing Dr. Zibbs with this link-infested shout-out blog post to make it easy for you to visit Dr. Zibbs' award-winning blog, That Blue Yak. All three of you who may not have gotten the message from the yak blogspot are now getting it from me. Pop on over and help Dr. Zibbs' dream come true! Zibbs is a comment whore, so comment with abandon! (The snarkier the better, on his blog!) Click around and laugh your a** off! I promise you'll have fun, and you'll help Dr. Z have a great birthday besides.

What could be better than that?


* What? You thought we were done with that drivel? Oh, no, there is more. Possibly too much more. And a moral to the story, too. Look for it tomorrow. Or Saturday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Buying My First New Car ("Lady Too")

I told you last time about my little green car, Lady, and my need to replace her.

I researched the replacement possibilities. I wanted a brand new car this time, one with a good size engine, that handles well and looks nice, but not unnecessarily expensive. No Beemers or Lexuses ("Lexi"?) for this gal - I wanted a car, not an income statement.

I considered a newer model Toyota Corolla, but I just couldn’t get excited about it. I looked at the Honda Accord and Civic, Nissan Sentras, and lots of other makes and models of standard four-door sedans. My husband suggested the Chrysler 300. It was bigger than I wanted, but the Chrysler Sebring four-door looked about right, so off we went to the Chrysler dealership.

I drove the Sebring. It is a cute car and it handled well, and the engine was strong, but it felt cramped inside; it wasn’t even as roomy as my smaller Corolla. The salesman -- and my husband -- talked me into "just trying" the Chrysler 300.

I fell in love with the 300 when I drove it. It handles well for a big car. With the V6 engine, it has good "pick up" (and it actually gets the same gas mileage as the 4 cylinder model -- why would anyone even consider the 4 cylinder?!?). It is spacious and comfortable. For a larger car, it has good visibility all around the vehicle. It has a huge trunk for hauling all things kid-related (sports equipment, groceries, band instruments, girl scout cookies...). The one I drove had a sun roof. And it looks pretty cool, too. Part classy mom-car, part gangster-mobile, depending on your angle and mood. (I looked for a solid link for you guys, but all I could find were links to ones for sale, which may or may not be there by the time anyone clicks, so you'll just have to run the Google search for yourself if you don't know, and want to know, what this car looks like.)

The dealership had a few 2007 models still on the lot that they were willing to sell for far less than sticker price (since they were well into the 2008 model year and would be getting the 2009's in before long....). So I got a great deal on a brand new car. I settled on the one in "Cool Vanilla" with a sunroof and only 19 miles on the odometer -- 10 of which I put there on the test drive. And so on January 13, 2008, I bought my first-ever brand new car.

When we went to pick her up, my kids whined the whole way there about how they would miss "Lady" and they couldn’t believe I was really going to get rid of her. I explained I would be giving her to a family friend who had no car, and he would drive her and love her as much as they did. They were somewhat happier knowing that outcome, but still not thrilled.

Then they saw the shiny new "300" and they rode in the very spacious and comfortable back seat with its smooth cool leather seats, the fold-down arm rest / drink holder, and the separate ac/heat vents just for them. They experienced the joy of the sun roof. They immediately got over my little green "Lady." My little girl admitted that "Cool Vanilla" was a pretty good color for a car, even if it wasn't green. My little boy said he loved the new car and she would henceforth be known as "Lady." I call her "Lady Too."

I still miss my little green "Lady" sometimes, but my kids have never mentioned her again.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Little Green Lady

Previously, I told you all about my first car, my awesome 'Stang.

Today I want to tell you about my 1997 green Toyota Corolla. My little green Toyota was an excellent car – although not as awesome as the 'Stang. She got good gas mileage (27 mpg). She handled very well. She started every morning and took me everywhere I needed to go without ever breaking down. Well, almost every morning, because of course she was not immune from the usual problems that cars have here in Arizona – she would refuse to start once every couple of years or so and I would buy a new battery and then all would be well again. She got a flat tire a few times. Twice in one week, actually, but it wasn’t really her fault. There was just way too much construction debris between my home and my office for a while there. She was, overall, a very reliable car. I didn't drive her just for the sake of driving, the way I had with my 'Stang, but that was probably a good thing. Better for the environment, anyway.

My kids loved that car. She was the only car they had known me to own. I bought her when my daughter was 3 months old and the car was 1 year old with about 25,000 miles on it. At the time, it was the closest I had ever come to owning a "new" car. My little boy named her "Lady." My little girl’s favorite color was green.

But Lady’s paint had become faded, mottled, and chipped – not very impressive when meeting clients of the new law firm I had opened, so if I were to keep her, I’d have to paint her. She needed new tires (immediately) and new brakes (within a few months), and she was due for the "big service" (the scheduled preventative maintenance package that costs about $500 where they replace not only the oil and filters, but also all the hoses, belts, etc). The driver’s side sun visor was shredding, dropping little pieces of foam all over my lap every time I drove the car. I couldn't just remove it, as a sun visor is a necessary piece of equipment here in Arizona. A new one would cost $175 (highway robbery!), and I had been unable to find one in good shape at a junkyard. The air conditioning still worked, but not as well as it should – it would need some work, too, if I were to be able to drive to court wearing my lawyer suit in the summer. And her blue book value was just over $1000.

In short, Lady needed much more in maintenance and minor repairs than she was worth, money-wise. She was also old for a car (11 years old, with well over 100,000 miles on her) and therefore possibly due to start having engine problems. It was just time for a new car.

So last January 1 (2008), I announced my intention to get a new car. My kids were, shall we say, less than thrilled with Mommy's idea. "NO!" they cried. My little boy kept repeating that I couldn’t possibly sell "Lady"! My little girl flatly declared that I could only even consider buying a new car if it was also green. Both kids were close to tears at the prospect of not riding in Lady ever again. Both kids embarked on a ceaseless campaign to change my mind. ("But it's Lady!" "You can't sell Lady!" "I don't want to ride in a new car, I want Lady!!") Holy cow, you'd think I was taking away their toys, or their dog!

I have to admit I was a little sad, too, to give up my reliable little green Lady. But I was determined to get a new car. Next time, I'll tell you about the search for her replacement.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Gingerbread Bears

Okay, I know it's a little late for this, given that it's January already. But I just had to show you the adorable ginger bread bears my husband and daughter made for Christmas.

Aren't they just the cutest things you've ever seen?!?

They taste good, too.