Monday, December 15, 2014

I don't deal well with stupid people, part 3

So LM's daughter (LMD) got her driver's permit recently.

I took LMD out to begin teaching her the basics of driving.  We found a nice empty parking lot next to a pretty-much-abandoned strip mall in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.  There are lots of pretty-much-abandoned lots here lately, given the economic downturn, which (although it is finally starting to improve) has left many businesses bankrupt.

This pretty-much-abandoned strip mall had one tenant remaining:  [Unnamed Midwestern State] University.  Why that University has a branch here, I have no idea.  Perhaps it is trying to compete with "University of Phoenix," which seems to have opened branches in pretty much every state.  Anyway, there were no cars in a whole huge section of the lot, and about 8 cars in another section of it.

We started in the section with no cars.  After quite a while of driving around, practicing turning, stopping, turning the other way, stopping with the tires on exactly this line or that pothole or that crack in the road, accelerating gently, accelerating gently, turning sharply, stopping quickly, trying to run over that piece of paper, turning gradually, stopping slowly and smoothly, etc...  I was running out of fun ideas...  I thought it would be fun to try driving around real cars and perhaps try parking

So we did.

And LMD parked next to a car on her left.  Then parked next to a car on her right.  She did a great job both times -- right between the lines, no problem.  So I had her park between two cars.  Then, as she was about to back out of the space, she got a shocked look on her face as she looked past me through the passenger side window:  "Mom!  Mom!  Look!

There was a security guard standing next to the car.  I rolled down the window.

Security Guard ("SG"):  What are you doing?

[Seriously?  It isn't obvious?!?  Whatever...]

LM:  Practicing driving.

SG:  Well, you can't do that here.

LM:  Why not?  It's a public parking lot.

SG:  Well, I can't have you driving around my students' cars.  If you crash into one of them, that would not be good.

LM:  First of all, she's not going to hit a car.  Second of all, I'm insured, so if she does hit one, we'll fix it.  I promise.  It won't be a problem.

SG:  No.  You can drive over there (pointing to totally empty lot) if you want, but not here.

[Thinking:  "Says you and what army?  Who made you emperor of all you survey?"]

LM:  We did that already.  She's got the hang of driving around nothing.  She needs to practice around things now.

SG:  Well, you can set up some traffic cones over there if you like.

LM (sarcastically-enthusiastically):  Oh, that would be cool!  Do you have some of those?

SG:  No.

LM:  Oh... well, that makes two of us.  (Rolls window up.)

LMD (in a shouted-whisper tone of voice):  (MOM!  STOP!  YOU SOUND JUST LIKE GRANDPA!!)

... I guess I come by it honestly.  At least I didn't ask if he had the authority to call someone with authority, as grandpa would have done.

Again, I felt a little bad afterwards. He was just doing what he perceived as being his job, even if he was overstepping his bounds a bit. I didn't feel as bad as I did after my unfortunately snarky encounter with the clueless lady at the church that I wrote about last week. But not as justified as I felt after being a little mean to the clueless and overeager Adobe sales rep.  Sort of somewhere in-between.

Because yes, he was overstepping his bounds.  It's not like there were any spaces marked "reserved for __ University students"--so presumably any drunk or otherwise piss-poor driver could come park anywhere in the lot, next to "his" student's cars, so why pick on us?!?  (At least this particular novice driver was being supervised by a very-experienced driver who previously has taught others to drive buses!)  Answer:  because he thought he had the power to do so and he was bored sitting around doing nothing.  And he had that air of "I've think I've got power and I'm going to use it even though I really don't have the right to do so" that just irritates the crud out of me.

So there you have it.  Judge me if you must.  The short story is, "I don't deal well with stupid people."

Monday, December 8, 2014

I don't deal well with stupid people, part 2

So this one slipped out unintentionally.  And I felt bad about it.  I don't really intend to be mean to people.  I try really hard to be nice.  But sometimes I just don't deal well with stupid people.

I was in Sedona, Arizona, with a friend.  We were visiting the famous "Chapel of the Holy Cross."  Here is a photo (from Wikipedia):

There were a lot of tourists who had the same idea we had, at the same time, to visit the chapel, so there was a line of cars slowly making its way up the curvy road to the parking lot at the top of the hill.  It was moving very slowly.  Basically, when one car left, they'd let another in.

We parked at the bottom of the hill and began walking up the steep, curvy road.  Since there were so many cars on the uphill side, we walked on the shoulder of the downhill side--there was more room there.

A car came zooming up the road in the oncoming (downhill) lane of traffic, passing all the other cars in the uphill lane.  We were just approaching a sharp left curve.  I was thinking what a rude, insensitive jerk the driver was.  The car stopped next to us and the driver lowered her window. 

Driver:  Um, that's a big curve up there.  Do you think another car might come down the road and run headfirst into me?

LM:  Well, yeah, that could happen...

Driver (sounding alarmed):  What should I do?!?!

LM:  Well, you could wait in line like everyone else.

Driver:  What...?  Oh, no!  You mean those cars aren't parked?  I thought they were parked!  Oh, they must think I'm such a twit!


OK, so she was clueless, not soulless.  I forgave her instantly and immediately felt bad about thinking horrible thoughts about her--at a church, no less! I even reassured her that, now that I thought about it, she was right, the windows of so many of the cars are tinted, you can't even see if someone is inside them.

In other words, I tried not to act like a self-righteous prig.  But the fact remains that I don't deal well with stupid people, and so it just sort of slipped out... and I was kind of mean to a person who was probably really nice, even if she wasn't all that bright.

She backed down the road and got in line, "like everyone else."

We walked on up to the chapel, where I prayed for forgiveness.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I don't deal well with stupid people, part 1

Here is the ridiculous discussion I had with the Adobe Sales Representative last year, when I needed to have .pdf editing software.*  I had tried calling the 800 number but could not get through the answering-machine “tree” to find a live person.  So I tried the live-chat function on the Adobe website.  The chat is edited to make it shorter and eliminate some unnecessary “filler,” but is otherwise an accurate transcript that I copied and pasted when I finished chatting with the Adobe rep, because of its sheer absurdity. I wanted to be able to look back and laugh.  And often, I do.

*Note that I subsequently purchased “Cute PDF” software, which was only $49 and works great (much better for my uses than the far-more-expensive Adobe software, which we have at my new job).

Chat Transcript (I tried not to be snarky.  I think I was mostly successful.):

Thank you for contacting Adobe Sales. My name is Priscilla. How may I help you today?
Priscilla: May I have your first name please?

LM: LegalMist

Priscilla: Hi LegalMist.

LM: I am interested in buying Adobe Acrobat.  However, I looked it up online and it does not list compatibility with MS Vista operating system. Will it work with Vista?

Priscilla: Acrobat XI Pro is not compatible with Windows Vista.

LM: Acrobat X was compatible with it. Is that one still available and supported?

Priscilla: I am sorry, Acrobat X is the older version software, hence it is not available for purchase.

LM: The computer is only 5 years old.  Can you let me download Acrobat X for free?  Or is there some "fix" for Acrobat XI to make it compatible with Vista?

Priscilla: I am sorry, since Acrobat X is an older version software, it is not available for download.  You need to upgrade your operating system.

LM: But my operating system is fine and works great for everything else I do. So why would I pay a bunch of money to "upgrade" it when it doesn't need to be upgraded, other than for your program? Why is Acrobat not compatible with Vista? What problems or issues will arise if I just download it?

Priscilla: I am sorry, since Vista is an older version OS it is not compatible with all the new software.

LM: But Acrobat XI is compatible with XP, which is even older than Vista.

Priscilla: I am sorry  for that.

LM: Will you give a discount on Acrobat XI equivalent to the amount I have to pay to "upgrade" my OS so I can buy it?  Also, do you know what problems or issues will arise if I just try to download it anyway?

Priscilla: Just to confirm, do you have any older version of Acrobat?

LM: No, all I have is the Adobe reader. But I find myself needing some of the capabilities of Acrobat.

Priscilla: Could you tell me the tasks that you wish to accomplish using this software so we can get you the right product?

LM: I want to be able to scan documents into my computer and assemble them along with other computer-created documents and then make the whole thing into a PDF/A file so it can be filed with the Court.  Also, I'd like to be able to use the redaction feature and the "bates-stamp" / page numbering feature.

Priscilla: Are you interested in working with images or creating flyers or logos?

LM: No. I have no interest in creating logos or designs or flyers.  Just legal documents. I'd also like to be able to edit .pdf's

Priscilla: Based on the tasks performed by you, I recommend that you purchase Creative Cloud subscription, as you will get all the Adobe software and also you will get Acrobat XI Pro.

LM: Is Creative Cloud compatible with Vista?

Priscilla: I understand your concern, however I can get you Creative Cloud single App for $19.99 per month only. You can install the application on 2 systems. Either both Mac’s or Windows or 1 on Mac and the other one on Windows.

LM: Does it work with Vista, though?

Priscilla: With single App, you will get Acroabat XI pro with all the upgrades and updates for free.

LM: But does it work with Vista?

Priscilla: I am sorry, it is not compatible with Vista.

LM: Well, then it does me no good. I have Vista, remember?

LM: Let's go back to my prior question: Can I buy Acrobat XI with a discount in the price to reflect the cost of "upgrading" my OS (even though I don't need to upgrade other than to use your program).

Priscilla: I am sorry,we do not have any discounts available.

LM: So there is nothing you can do to help me, then?

Priscilla: With single App, you will get the software at a low monthly cost of $19.99 per month only.  This is the best option available to purchase the software.

LM: But you told me that single App is not compatible with Vista, so I don't care about it being the "best option" for purchasing the software; it won't work with my computer. Ok, well can you at least answer my other prior unanswered question, which is, what problems or issues will arise if I try to install it even though it is incompatible with Vista.

Priscilla: I am sorry, Acrrobat XI Pro as individual product or with Cloud, it is not compatible with Vista.

LM: You said that already, but you still have not answered my question, which is: What problems or issues will it cause if I attempt to install it?

Priscilla: You will not be able to install the software on Vista.

LM: So it simply won't install?

Priscilla: Yes, you are correct.

LM: Priscilla, you have finally answered all my questions. I have to say I am not impressed, though. You tried several times to sell me the "single App" despite knowing that I have Vista, and only later told me that it was incompatible with Vista. What good would it do me to buy it? I can't use it, apparently! I guess I simply cannot purchase your products and will have to look elsewhere.

Priscilla: I am sorry, however Acroabat XI Pro is not compatible with Vista.
Priscilla: I wish I could help you with that.


Seriously, I cannot believe how hard she tried to sell me a product that she knew full well I cannot use.

My advice?  Buy “Cute PDF.”  It works great, is less expensive than acrobat, and as far as I can tell, it is compatible with just about every OS (although I don’t use Apple computers, so I can’t vouch for that one). And avoid Adobe chat.  They are useless.  Worse than useless, a total waste of time.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Coolest. Trees. Ever.

At the University of Virginia, LegalMist's alma mater, stand the coolest trees in the world.  They are called "Pratt Ginkgo Trees," and they are lovely.  They are found elsewhere, too, of course.  But I remember, very clearly, exactly one day at the end of autumn, just as winter was beginning at the University, watching these beautiful trees shed their leaves.

They do not lose leaves gradually, like other trees.  Instead, they drop them all at once, in about one day.  I sat for about three hours one afternoon near the Lawn at U.Va., watching one gorgeous tree drop leaves.  It looked like snow.

I found a video for you on YouTube of a ginkgo tree at someone's house, that looks about like that tree at U.Va. looked, on that gorgeous fall day, dropping leaves so fast that it almost looked like a snowstorm.  Here it is:

I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Divorcing this narcissist will be hell on steroids...

No one gets married thinking they will get divorced.

Well, maybe some people do, but then they are fools.

But let me give you some free advice:  Before you get married, think about how a divorce would go, if it were to come to that, sometime in the distant future.  And then don't marry anyone who you would not want to have to try to divorce.

I knew from the beginning that my then-boyfriend could be mean and vindictive if he felt he had been "wronged."  I watched him treat others badly and seek petty revenge when he felt they had treated him badly.

But I was in love, and so was he, and at the time, we were nice to each other.  He was fun to be with, creative, smart, funny, adventurous, romantic...  We both thought we would be friends forever, regardless of what else might happen between us.

We were wrong.

We have tried marriage counseling.  It helped, marginally, for a while.  The counselor would tell us both things that we should work on to improve our relationship.  But instead of taking the counselor's advice and applying it to himself, my husband too often used it as a weapon against me, as in "The doctor said you are supposed to ____" or "are not supposed to ___" -- all the while, not working on the issues the counselor had asked him to work on.  He wouldn't take seriously the "couples exercises" the counselor assigned -- the ones in the book designed to build trust and understanding.  He would say they were "silly" or "goofy" and he didn't want to do them.  If I pushed the point, he would give short or flip answers to the questions asked.  I gave up.

Eventually, I gave up on the marriage. I got tired of giving and not feeling appreciated or loved.  The constant criticism is just too much to bear. I guess a part of me felt like, if he was going to criticize constantly, he might as well have something to criticize.

At this point, we are not friends, and we are not lovers.  There is open hostility, snide remarks made in front of the kids, and a complete lack of communication about many issues.  It is time to end this marriage.

It is not good for me.  It is not good for him.  It cannot possibly be good for the kids.

And yet I dread it, because I know he will be manipulative, vindictive, and downright mean.  He thinks I have treated him badly.  I think he is wrong, but it doesn't matter what I think.  I know what is coming.

I have assisted so many others through this process.  I have seen the damage a manipulative, vindictive, and mean person, with the "right" ("wrong?") lawyer, can inflict on a soon-to-be-ex-spouse, on the kids, on the family as a whole.

I do not want my kids to be in this crossfire.

But the only way through to the other side, to peace and the potential for real happiness, is a divorce.

Friday, April 18, 2014


I took my son to the Boy Scouts' "Camporee" last weekend.

It was so much fun!  And so hard, too...  I am *not* a natural camper.  This was a real effort for me.  I love my warm soft bed, flush toilet, and daily shower.  Camping involves none of these things and so I don't do it often.  I love the outdoors, but usually only if I know I can sleep in my own bed at night.

We left Friday after my son got out of school.  Arrived in Pine, AZ, at Camp Geronimo, around 6 p.m.  Selected our campsite and hauled our stuff up from the car.  Set up the tent in the dark (not fun!  Thank goodness the troop leader and his wife helped out!).  Drove the car back down to the parking lot and hiked the mile back up to the campsite.  Had some fried chicken we'd brought along for dinner.  Went to the scout ceremony/ meeting and sat in the increasing chilly-ness.  Slept on the rather uncomfortable camping pads and woke up cold at 4 a.m., added extra blankets and woke up at 5:30 a.m. with the sun...

And then the actual fun started.  Breakfast in the cold-but-warming beautiful morning with birds singing, scout flag ceremony, dressed in the "Class A" uniforms for the "inspection," and then more scout ceremonies...  all done by probably 8 a.m.  Then some scout activities/challenges for the kids --  involving problem-solving, teamwork, and fun.  The theme was "Zombies," so several of the events required completing them within a time limit before the "Zombies" were released.  There was a fellow applying Zombie make-up to anyone who wanted it...  although most of us adults looked like zombies even without the makeup, after a night spent setting up a campsite and sleeping, very little, in the cold!

Then we had lunch, and then there was hiking, crawfish-catching, and lots of unstructured, kid-led games like Zombie tag, "infected," capture-the-flag, pinecone wars, something resembling lord of the flies and pinecone-throwing, and random explorations of the gorgeous, huge wooded camping area.  Meanwhile, the adults supervised some and hung out a lot, getting to know each other and enjoying the birds and the blue sky with pretty little clouds and the trees and the lack of biting insects and the sound of the wind in the trees.  It was awesome.

Later that evening, after dinner, there was another flag ceremony at sunset, and then a camp-wide meeting at which my scout's Webelos den and my scout's host-boy-scout troop tied for first place for the campsite cleanliness and uniform inspection prize -- both groups scored a perfect 100%!  Each group won large portable grill, to be used for future campouts!  Very exciting!

I met a fellow who is the grandfather of one of the Webelos.  I had met the Webelo's mom before, and she is really nice, too.  He lives down the street and around the corner from us, and works in a building two blocks from where I work.  Such a small world we live in...  He loaned me a jacket, because I forgot to bring my warm toasty one.  He is a soft-spoken, kind-hearted, handsome, smart, sweet man about 15 years older than me.  I have to admit to having a small crush on him.  If I weren't married, I'd have been flirting with him...  As it was, we enjoyed looking at all the stars that can't be seen from the Valley of the Sun because of the light pollution and talking about our jobs and kids/grandkids.

Then we had a great big campfire and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores (yes, the boy scouts love them as much as the girl scouts who invented them), cleaned up a bit, put out the fire, and then slept in our tents in the cold again on the hard ground softened only somewhat by thin camping sleep-pads and bags, woke up at 5:00 a.m. with the sun listening to the birds sing, had another flag ceremony, broke down the camp, and headed back to civilization with a new appreciation for our warm comfortable homes, soft beds, heated bathrooms, and showers. 

Life is good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Got A New Job...

... And I am so very happy!

For the past few years, I had been applying for jobs whenever I found something I thought I would enjoy doing.  I did not apply for jobs that did not pay well.  I did not apply for jobs that I thought I would hate once I started.  I already had a job (running my own law firm) that I wasn't thrilled with (well, the boss was nice...) and that didn't pay well enough (mostly because I am a much better lawyer than business-person, and did not focus enough on billing and collections) and that featured a never-ending parade of obnoxious opposing attorneys and occasional difficult and/or deadbeat clients and that often resulted in me sitting alone in my office for hours at a time working, with no human interaction at all.  No, I did not apply for anything similar to what I already had...

I applied only for interesting, well-paying jobs in law firms or agencies where I would work regular hours for regular pay and have nice people to talk to each day.

I am now handling appeals in child welfare cases, and I couldn't be happier.  My research and writing skills are put to good use.  I rarely have to interact with obnoxious persons.  The cases are a little sad, but I feel like I am doing some good in this all-too-difficult world, helping kids move on to better lives.  I don't have to deal with billing and collections.  The hours are fairly regular, 40 to maybe 50 per week.

My co-workers are helpful and kind and fun, but not too chatty or intrusive.  We all have work to do so we spend most of the day doing it, which is good.  But there is a sense of camaraderie and fun, too.  We had an NCAA pool.  Two to four of us go for fifteen minute walks almost every day to chat and enjoy the day (that will end soon, though, once it gets hot here in the Valley of the Sun...).  We go to lunch once a month or so.

And one of my co-workers is a secretary!  And she is so smart and knows so much about this area of the law, and she pays attention to details and is enthusiastic and nice, and I enjoy talking with her, and she is always doing things--without being asked--that really help to make my job easier and more pleasant! And someone else pays her salary!  For those of you out there who are the excellent secretaries and paralegals, thank you for all that you do!  You are wonderful.  For those of you who haven't thanked your secretary or paralegal this week, go do it *now*!  You just don't know how lucky you are to have a good assistant, until you don't have one.

And I get a regular paycheck, directly deposited into my checking account every two weeks!  And I never have to spend my weekend sending out bills, or spend a Monday morning making calls to clients to ask when they are planning to pay their bills, or make several trips to the bank each week to deposit checks.  And I am making more than I was making before (although probably not as much as I could make if I were better at running a business, or more dedicated to working 80+ hours a week as a lawyer).

And, perhaps best of all, there is an IT department, so when I have computer problems (rarely, now that folks who know what they are doing are in charge of the computers...), someone besides me is in charge of fixing them!  My goodness, people, if you haven't thanked your IT guy this week, go do it *now*!!  They are a godsend!

Our computer system at work crashed last week, and I got to go take a walk and then do some reading while I waited for it to be fixed.  Everyone else was complaining about the "wasted" time.  I was relishing the fact that I didn't have to stress out about how to fix it, and *then* stress out about how to get my work done.  I could relax and just wait for the computer to work, and *then* stress out--but only if needed!--to meet my deadline.  It was such a relief!!  For those of you out there who are the IT guys at work, thank you for doing such a wonderful job.  People should appreciate you more than they do.

My former work computer, which is now the home computer, is dying a slow and painful death right now, and I am just so very happy that my income and professional well-being do not depend on my fixing or replacing it by tomorrow.  Instead, I can wait until this weekend or next weekend or the weekend after that and shop the sales to get a good deal on a new one.  And I can use the laptop to surf the 'net while I wait for a new desktop computer, without worrying about the fact that the laptop doesn't have all the software I need to enter my time, do my billing, etc.

And, I get paid vacations!

And paid sick leave!

And paid holidays!

And a retirement account!

Work just doesn't get much better than this! 

I am glad I was patient and waited for the right job for me.  I have not been happier at work since I was a bus-driver in college.  :)


Next on the list....  a better marital relationship.  I am not sure whether that means fixing the existing one, or getting a new one, but something has got to give...