amiguriken: (Default)
2010-08-26 11:21 pm

And Now I'm Reading Comics Again

At least, the plan is to start reading comics again. I've tried before, and it just hasn't worked out for me, but I think this time it's going to work. So long as I get some good graphic novel recommendations from somewhere. I've ordered a few older Batman trades, and I've started filling out my collection of Y: The Last Man. I also dragged out some unread and need-to-reread trades from my comics boxes.

The prompting for this is three-fold: 1) I have missed reading comic books in general and have longed to get back into them; 2) I just watched Batman: Under the Red Hood, which I thoroughly enjoyed; and 3) Saturday is Read Comic Books in Public Day, and I fully intend to participate.

So, this is a short entry, but if anyone out there reading this has recs for comics, preferably in easy-to-access-via-Amazon.com trade formats, let me hear 'em. I find myself wanting more Batman lately (the nightly rounds of getting my arse kicked playing Batman: Arkham Asylum have probably contributed to that), but I'm up for anything that's good. For Bats I already have "Year One", "The Dark Knight Returns", and "Whatever Happened to the Dark Knight". And I already own many of the "big" titles such as Watchmen (though I won't yell at you if you name them anyway - I don't have all of the well-known books and you may mention something I've forgotten).
amiguriken: (Default)
2010-07-22 11:29 pm

Insert Witty and Relevant Subject Here

Once upon a time, I read a lot. I read everything I could get my greedy little paws on. And then I went to law school and I all-but stopped reading anything but cases and fanfiction.

Recently, however, I have been tearing through books, which makes me exceedingly happy with myself. I was always proud of my voracious reading habits, and I had missed books more than I really even knew. Moreso, I missed that desire to read. It's terrible to say, but for a little while, I didn't really want to read that much. I comforted myself by reminding myself that I really was reading enough fanfic to fill several novels, but it just wasn't the same. It's just not as satisfying to read something on a computer screen instead of in a book. And even though I know that some of the fics I've read have contained as many words as some of my favorite novels, the factual knowledge of the word count doesn't strike me the same as the page count for a nice, long book.

I also recently realized how badly I have been neglecting my journals in recent years, both this one and my real hard-copy journal. For several years I updated each of these fairly regularly, but for a few years now I've hardly updated either at all. I would also like to rectify that. I don't do it enough, but the truth is that I really enjoy writing, particularly in the personal essay format that LJ/Dreamwidth and hard-copy journals encourage most.

And it strikes me that perhaps the best way to begin pushing myself to write more would be to start by writing about the thing I'm happiest about lately. I'm going to try to start writing reviews again (which will, of course, include tv and movies), but for right now I'll just start by listing out what I've been reading in the past few months along with a few notes.

Up first are Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books. I've read all of them except the latest hardback and the book of short stories (though I'll finish that one tonight). I have to admit I really have enjoyed reading these books, despite the fact that they could be classified as vampire romance. My favorite characters in the books (and the TV series True Blood) are Sam, Eric, and Pam. The characters are what really carry the stories for me. The weakest part of Harris' novels is the actual writing - she's not the worst writer I've ever read, her writing's just sort of bland. There is no beauty to her sentences, no elegance to her word choices, and I do find myself missing that when I read her books. As far as the stories themselves go, they're light, fun reads that are really perfect for the summer. Oh, and I appreciate Harris' respect for the vampire - her vampires don't sparkle and are actually dangerous.

In addition to ripping through the Harris novels, I've been reading Jim Butcher's Dresden series. I had previously listened to the audiobooks of Storm Front and Fool Moon (Dresden books 1 and 2), and thanks to my enjoyment of those (read by the wonderful James Marsters), I had also picked up a paperback of Grave Peril. Sadly, Grave Peril was to languish on my bookshelves for a few years. However, when I finished off Harris, I decided I was in the mood to read about the misadventures of Harry Dresden, Consulting Wizard. I started with Grave Peril, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then I picked up a copy of Storm Front and actually read it. (And I'm currently relistening to Fool Moon during my morning and afternoon commute.) Quickly, I'd say that I like Butcher's characters, even though both Susan Rodriguez and Karrin Murphy feel like cliches sometimes, at least they're likeable cliches. I really love how Butcher combines pulp detective novels with magic and the supernatural. I also have to say that his writing seemed to get stronger and better with each of the novels I read so that by the third novel I found myself appreciating his sentence structures and word choices.

Last night I finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I would write about it here, but frankly, I don't have time. I've already done two other series' injustice by writing such short little rambly pieces about them, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is more complex than either of them. I'll attempt to write about it next. (And I hope to expand on the other two.)

Right now I'm halfway through the book of Sookie Stackhouse short stories. I expect to finish it tonight. After it, I'm planning to read Wil Wheaton's Just a Geek. Sadly, my pile of unread books multiplies faster than I'm capable of reading. I'm like the kid whose eyes are bigger than her stomach - it's just that my eyes are bigger than my freetime.
amiguriken: (Default)
2010-03-10 01:29 am

Zombies, Confetti, and Sock Puppets

So tonight I took my pal daughtershade to see Jonathan Coulton and They Might Be Giants at a little venue called The Orange Peel in Asheville. I would love to write up something fairly in depth and discussing the joys of music for geeks, but right now I'm tired and feeling poorly, so I'll just do a quickie list that I'll intend to expand on but never will.

1) JoCo was loads of fun. I think he was surprised by the number of audience members who knew him. There were quite a few of us who attended the show as much or more for him than for They Might Be Giants. (Probably because They Might Be Giants has played Asheville a couple of times before, while the closest JoCo's managed was Atlanta.)

If you don't know who Jonathan Coulton is, I high recommend you visit his website: www.jonathancoulton.com and check out his music. He has some set up for free download, including a couple of my favorites "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "Chiron Beta Prime." I also recommend "Re: Your Brains" (a HUGE fan favorite), "Code Monkey," and "Future Soon."

2) I had no idea rains of colorful confetti could make me smile so much.

3) SOCK PUPPETS!

4) Science songs!

5) They Might Be Giants had an awesome trumpet player with them, a Mr. Kurt Rahm (sp?). He was a pleasure to listen to all by himself.

6) They Might Be Giants were absolutely wonderful. In addition to sounding great and being energetic on the stage, they really, truly, honestly seemed to be enjoying themselves. I got the feeling that they were just as happy to be there as we were, and that made the show even better.

7) The one problem with geek music is watching the geeks move to the beat. Hundreds of people awkwardly bobbing somewhat in time with the music, is simultaneously hilarious and kind of sad. But even thinking that didn't prevent me bobbing along with everyone else.

8) There were quite a few people there who were several years younger than the songs they were thoroughly enjoying, and I think that is awesome!

9) Oh, geeks. I love my people.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-11-28 12:14 am

Today

I spent most of the day hanging out with my five-year-old brother and my three-year-old nephew. They watched Spider-Man 2, Coraline, Star Wars: Episode II, and part of the recent live-action Peter Pan. They also put decorations on my Christmas tree (some of which will have to be shifted for evenness' sake), held several lightsabre duels, wrestled, read books, and talked and talked and talked. One of them even took a nap. And they had not worn out their welcome by the time I took them to my mothers--I was just trying to figure out what to do with them for supper. (I don't keep much actual food in my house.)

Today I also received my new cell phone. I upgraded to a Blackberry Tour. I wish I was planning enough out-of-country travel to justify it for that reason. But no, I just liked some of the new features it had, including, I'm ashamed to say, the camera. I can't believe I missed having a camera-phone, but there were several instances where I would have liked to have had a picture and had my cell phone but not a camera.

And let's not forget today was Black Friday. I actually did some Black Friday shopping. Online. I hate crowds too much to go out and intentionally inflict them upon myself. I also ate leftovers, including even more of my mother's wonderful sweet potato casserole, which is the single best thing I have ever eaten. It's the kind of food that causes otherwise normal eaters to to make sex noises and facial expressions, including, I'm afraid, myself. It is seriously just that good.

And now I'm closing out my evening by knitting for the first time in months while watching the original The Prisoner series on DVD. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy knitting. And I am really enjoying The Prisoner, though the equipment and the lave lamps definitely betray the show's age.

And now it's time to go back to my knitting. I would like to finish this one sometime this century.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-11-26 01:07 pm

Stinkin' Hobbitses

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow American type folk (as well as anyone else who feels like enjoying the holiday with us). I hope you all are enjoying the day off at the least. As for myself, I've so far celebrated the day by sleeping in, watching Eddie Izzard's Glorious, baking pies, and now watching The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (the extra-long extended cut). We'll be enjoying a large family dinner at my mother's house later this evening with far too much food for even my large crowd to eat.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-11-21 11:41 pm

Sneaking Into Adulthood

I bought my very first Christmas tree today, along with a few ornaments. It feels as though I'm slowly creeping into adulthood, and I'm not sure I like it. I attempted to balance that feeling out by purchasing an overpriced Han Solo ornament from Hallmark.

The other adult thing I've done recently is to volunteer to prepare portions of the Thanksgiving dinner. Up until now, I've never really been in a position to bring things. I've been in college or living too far away to really travel with food, and then last year I was living with my parents and could only help my mom and try to stay out of her way. This year, however, I'm in my own apartment and I have money and time, so I've decided to handle some of the pie-making duties. I'm going to bake pumpkin and coconut pies.

I've spent several recent evenings unpacking in my apartment. I recently set up two of my bookshelves and quickly filled them up. Today I unpacked even more books, filling up my Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett bookcase that sits in my living room and straightening up a little more of the other room.

There's still a lot of unpacking to do, but the apartment is starting to look a little less cluttered now. One of the big things I need to do is unpack my DVDs. That will mostly consist of putting them back in their cases (I've been using several large cd carrying cases for them since I moved last year). That'll be fun.

Work has been going pretty well. I've been staying busy and have had several days in court recently. I've got court again on Monday, as a matter of fact. It's a DSS day, and it's going to be mostly easy. Sadly, I am expecting at least one long hearing. But maybe a miracle will happen and a particular party's heart will grow a couple of sizes and we'll be able to come to a consent agreement.

Outside of work, my social life continues to be incredibly non-existant. I've been horrified recently to realize just how little I've been reading for pleasure over the past few years. It made me incredibly sad to think just how few books I've actually made my way through recently. And that includes re-reads of favorite novels! Ugh. I've got to get back in the reading groove. I've got at least half a tall bookcase full of books I've never read. I just need to take the time to read them.

One of the things I do instead of read is watch TV online. I LOVE this seasons of Supernatural. I've enjoyed all of the previous seasons of the show, but there's just been something about this season. I'm also a huge fan of Glee, and I really don't know why I even like that show. Those aren't the only shows I watch, but those are my two favorites right now. I need to watch what's aired of V, but I don't know whether I'll keep up with it or not.

All right. That's enough trivial rambling. I need to unwrap a bunch of caramels (baking caramel brownies for a church dinner) and watch the latest couple of eps of Supernatural.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-10-25 10:41 pm

Shifting Space

Since I haven't posted in a while, we'll do the traditional list-format update:

1) New office remains incredibly spiffy. I did have a problem with a ceiling/roof leak a few weeks back, but that has been taken care of and my office is all shiny and white again. I will take pictures eventually, though I'm afraid you'll find that they are pretty boring. I have found an art print I like that would look nice in my office: Van Gogh's "Almond Branches in Bloom." It's a lovely piece of work that has a bit of a Japanese feel to it. Also, the shade of blue he uses for the background is particularly lovely.

2) I have realized recently that I love Van Gogh. I don't know why I like his art so much, but I do.

3) Business is pretty good. I'm starting to make enough money to really make ends meet, which is awesome beyond words. And there are a lot of days in which I really, genuinely like what I do. Those days surprise me more than I can explain, but they also make me exceptionally happy. I've had a job I hated before, and I don't want to do that to myself again.

4) I have recently moved house. I had been living in a lovely little two-bedroom cabin. I am now residing in a recently heavily remodeled two-bedroom garage apartment. The apartment is not quite as nice as the house was, but, thanks to the remodeling work (and some heavy duty cleaning), it is pretty nice, and is not much smaller than the house was. One thing I really like about it is that the entire space is mine to do with as I please. In the cabin, I lost one of the bedrooms to my mother's office.
I ended up moving because of my grandmother. The apartment is beside her house (above her garage). When she is in NC, she worries a lot about being over here by herself, and her children worry a lot about her being over here by herself. For everyone's peace of mind, someone needs to live in this apartment, and right now I'm the person in the best position to do so (single, no kids, no social life of which to speak). My brother and his wife lived here for nine years, until the birth of their third child made this little apartment too little for their family.
The absolute best thing about the little apartment is that I get to live here rent-free. The worst thing about that is that it makes me feel guilty (a little bit) every time I complain about something.

5) I want a horse. That is all.

6) Today was Decoration day at the small Nolan's Creek cemetery. That cemetery only has three small graves, all infants. It's located on a hill deep in the National Park. There was a decent crowd out today, and the weather turned warm and sunny. The leaves are in full fall color right now, and I frequently found myself stopping just to look at how beautiful it all was in red and gold. The beauty of this area is something I always miss when I'm away.

7) I bought a new laptop that arrived last week (and on which I am now typing). It's a lovely Dell Studio XPS, and while I'm still getting used to a slightly different keyboard and some other changes from my beloved Inspiron, I'm very happy with it overall. I want a copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum to really test out the computer's capabilities, but I'm waiting for my Windows 7 upgrade kit before I install much of anything on the computer.

8) I have not watched a single episode of Stargate: Universe even though it's all currently still available on Hulu. I find myself tempted at times because of how much I loved Battlestar Galactica and how much I still adore Lou Diamond Phillips and Robert Carlyle. But even if the things I'm reading in the reviews hadn't turned me off of the show, I couldn't watch it because of my hatred for the channel formerly called Sci-Fi. I've been burned too many times by that channel. Between all of their moronic programming decisions, the idiotic name choice (I get the branding thing, I really do, but I can name hundreds of brandable options that sound and look less stupid than the one they chose), and the regular, casual insults to the fans of their programming, I just can't support them in any way, shape, or form.

9) I miss having science fiction tv to watch. I need to put my Netflix to good use, I suppose. Maybe it's time to finally sit down and watch all of Star Trek: DS9. I liked what I saw of that one. And there is at least one season of Babylon 5 I've not yet seen. Oh, and loads and loads of old Doctor Who. Frak the badly named channel that purports to play speculative fiction but is really overloaded with reality programming and wrestling. There's still good stuff out there, and it's easier than ever to acquire and view now.

10) While I'm talking about tv, I'm horribly addicted to Glee.

11) Okay, that's quite enough of that now. I have things to go and a bed that is calling my name. Sleeeeeeep.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-08-31 08:13 pm

Official

My fall to the dark side is complete: I have an office now.

I moved what little stuff I have over on Saturday and unpacked most of it then. The office looks pretty empty and sad right now, but I'll add more stuff as I go along. I need to find a good picture or two to put up. I have a gorgeous print of a The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly painting a friend of mine did, but I rather prefer it to stay here on my fireplace mantle. Right now the only thing I have on the wall is my diploma in its fancy-pants frame (the license will be joining it in a week or so, once the framer's done with it). I also have a handful of books on my bookshelf. Oh, and I have a Darth Vader bust and pewter figures of Han Solo and Chewbacca up on the top shelf (with the Metallicar sitting in front of Vader).

The main problem with putting art on my walls is that I don't like nice, tranquil prints of flowers and lakes. Monet has his place, but it ain't in my office. And the art I prefer is simply not appropriate--people do not want to associate their attorneys with surrealism. Nor do they want to walk into a law office and see superheroes (though I'd probably risk it if I had a nicely framed Alex Ross).

Another problem is that my office is stark white. I will most likely end up painting it a few months from now, but for now, it's snow white. This makes me not want to put up black-and-white or colorless prints (such as Escher or Picasso's "Don Quixote"). And it also leads me to be careful about colors. Some of the things I like will look even more garish against pure white.

Anyway, I think the office is going to be a good thing for me. I didn't get as much work as I'd hoped done today, but I got work done and didn't waste as much time as I usually do at home. And now that I'm home, I am not sitting here feeling like I need to be working on something. I think home space can now safely be home space and work space will be work space and I will be a happier person for having a place to escape work at the end of the day.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-08-12 12:13 am

Your Argument Is Illogical

I wish this were about Star Trek. If that were out on DVD it would be my happy place. Instead it's about everyone's favorite topic of late: healthcare. Yep. Another one. This one is slightly less ranty, though I do discuss slippery slope arguments toward the end.

One of the arguments I keep seeing about healthcare (James Carville made this argument in a brief television debate with Anne Coulter) is that countries with more government intervention in their healthcare systems have people with longer life expectancies than the U.S.

What really bothers me about this argument as support for a healthcare overhaul is the logical fallacy that it espouses. It is being used to indicate that the government control/interference in these healthcare systems is the reason that people in these countries are living longer lives.

This argument fails to take into account various other factors, not the least of which is that Americans tend to live more unhealthy lifestyles than the citizens of the nations with more government intervention in their healthcare. I'm surprised this point is not being made more often in the healthcare debate--it has certainly been a popular news topic over the past few years, often focusing on the expanding waistlines of the American people.

The facts of the matter are these: the United States has a much higher obesity rate in adults and children than any of the nations being cited as having longer lifespans. Common diseases related to obesity include heart disease and diabetes, both of which tend to cause shorter lifespans. As more Americans grow fatter, more Americans suffer the diseases and problems that are caused by obesity. As more Americans suffer those problems, more Americans need to be treated for those problems, which also leads to higher healthcare costs.

Prior to the current healthcare debate, figures about obesity were frequently cited in conjunction with concerns about rising healthcare costs for people in the nation. These legitimate concerns seem to have been lost in the arguments, however, probably because they do not necessarily affect the arguments for or against government overhaul of healthcare.

Another factor that is ignored by the broad numbers is that those numbers are affected by all deaths, not just natural deaths by old age or sickness. One area where this could cause a significant discrepancy is death by car accident. The U.S. has an extraordinary number of motor vehicles on its highways. It also has an extraordinarily high number of car-accident deaths. While I'm having difficulty tracking down exact numbers, I think it's arguable that the U.S. has far more car-accident deaths per capita than any of the healthcare systems being cited as examples of how government intervention creates a longer lifespan.

I will grant that there is one area in which government intervention might help to create longer lifespans: broader insurance coverage. It is difficult to argue that broader coverage would not mean more lives saved and, possibly, a slightly longer lifespan average nationally. However, even that is not a guarantee, nor do I foresee it making the number jump from where it lingers at 73ish up to the 80 and 81 some of those other nations boast. American numbers won't get that high until Americans become healthier as a people, and simply expanding healthcare coverage is not going to make that happen. Americans will have to fundamentally change the way we eat and exercise if we want to live longer lives. And I don't think anyone wants the government to go that far in regulating healthcare.

ETA: The title. Now the first line might make more sense. Bah!
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-08-07 12:18 am

A Brain, and an Athlete, and a Basket Case, a Princess, and a Criminal

I never wanted to live in Shermer, Illinois.

I really never wanted to be Molly Ringwald.

I don't even think I've ever sat through Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles.

But I loved, and continue to adore to this day, The Breakfast Club. It is one of my all-time favorite movies.

R.I.P. John Hughes. And thanks.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-08-05 10:08 pm

Odds and Ends

1) I acquired Pushing Daisies season 2 today. I never did see the final three episodes, though rumour has it they were available on ABC's website for some time. However, I am making myself rewatch the entire season in order rather than simply starting with the final three episodes.

2) It's time for a new computer, not that I can actually afford one yet. I currently have one computer that I use for both my personal crap and work crap. I really need one computer for each of those, and I've decided that this actually needs to occur before I move into office space at the end of the month. The plan is to buy a new PC for my personal use and then clear off my old laptop and dedicate it solely to business use. I should probably buy the new computer for business use, but I can get a LOT more memory on a new computer, and I tend to need more memory for my personal use than I do for business use.

3) I acquired a new business toy today. I had an interview with the child of one of my DSS clients today, and I decided that I wanted to be able to record the interview to play later. So I dropped $40 for a digital voice recorder. So far I'm liking the thing, though I've barely begun to play with it. Tomorrow I need to figure out how to copy the file to my hard drive and then burn it to a disc that I can mail to my fellow attorney on the case.

4) My DSS cases are messy and suck. Even the ones where I have good or halfway decent clients. Also, I know it's the cliche mysanthropic thing to say, but really, most of these people should not be allowed to reproduce. What really kills me (besides the rampant stupidity and moronic drug use--do these people not know what meth is made of?) is how many of my clients are the second or third generation coming through the system. I have clients who were in DSS custody themselves less than a year ago! It's so frustrating it makes me want to type multiple exclamation points!

5) Okay. Breathing now. No more talk of DSS clients.

6) I'm apparently developing a decent reputation in the community. Go me. One of my fellow attorneys informed me of this the other day. It really brightened my week.

7) Oh, hey! Something else not law-related: spent Saturday with my oldest nieces at Dollywood's Splash Country. It was okay, though water parks really aren't my idea of a good time. I'd much rather just lounge around at the pool. It doesn't help that, despite multiple applications of sunscreen, I came home parbroiled. My poor upper back is still hurting me days later. (And yes, I have slathered the worst spots with aloe. It's just that bad.) Some of the park slides don't allow sliders to wear shirts of any kind. So I decided that, just this once, I'd go with just my bathing suit. That was a huge mistake. Some of those areas of my skin haven't seen sunlight since I was five years old! Oh well. At least I got a lovely tan on my legs.

8) Saturday night one of my two-year-old nieces stayed the night with me. This particular niece is the one for whom I'm the best thing ever. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I let her have ice cream both at 10 o' clock at night and for breakfast the next morning. (Hey, her parents deserve it.) One of the fun things about having her over is that I've been working geekiness into her. She requested that we watch Doctor Who and fell asleep on me clutching my two Doctor action figures (Nine and Ten) and the Metallicar. She's awesome like that.

9) Oh dear dog, we're already more than halfway through the week. ARGH!
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-25 10:54 pm

Potpourri

1) I was very pleasantly surprised to find The Colour of Magic on DVD at a Wal-Mart today. There just aren't many people in this are who would have any idea what The Colour of Magic is, and I frankly wouldn't have even expected to spot the DVD in a Wal-Mart in Greensboro or in Lexington, KY. It's just not a Wal-Mart sort of thing. I know for a fact I've never seen a single Pratchett book in one.

2) I have a puppy now, and she's adorable. She's a tiny, black-and-white ball of fur. I don't expect her to get big (her parents are both fairly small dogs), and I'm hoping that she's as intelligent as I've been led to believe her parents are. I've been told she's a cross between a Feist, an Australian Shepherd, and an Airedale Terrier. Those are all smart breeds. I had initially given her the very boring name of Lucky (I found a four-leaf clover the first time I set her down in the yard at my house), but my brother has launched a heavy campaign to rename her Leia since he named his puppy Luke Skywalker.

3) Looking back, it seems obvious that I would become a fangirl. Even when I was small, I had that sort of obsessive mindset that led to collecting things. My first fandom was horses. I had so many porcelain, ceramic, and glass horses it wasn't even funny. I had horse pictures on my wall. I had books about horses. I collected My Little Ponies. And I even, finally, had my own horse.

My horse died several years ago, and it had been years before that before I did anything more with him than feed him some corn and call him "Fat-head". But now that I'm settling down, I find myself wanting a horse again, a desire that grows worse every time I'm around some of the great beasties.

I spent a little while this evening down at my aunt and uncle's house visiting with their horses. They currently have four horses in their pasture, three adults who belong to them and one colt that belongs to a friend of theirs. I was perfectly content to do nothing more than stand in their field petting and talking to the horses.

I'm such a sap.

4) I'm moving into office space! Yay! I've set a tentative move-in date of September 1 to move into some shared space with two other attorneys. I think it's going to be fantastic. I hope it's going to be!

5) I got Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader from Amazon this week (along with the Watchmen and Coraline dvds). I think I'm going to spend tomorrow afternoon reading it on my porch.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-17 04:26 pm

(no subject)

Now that I've ranted, managing to annoy at least one person and affecting/damaging how I don't know how many others view me (though really, if you know anything about me at all, nothing I posted should have been a surprise), it's time to post about some other random things that have pissed me off or amused me or that I just want to ramble about today:

1) This possibly wins the internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiElEQxGsdw (grokked from the official Robot Chicken Twitter feed @cyborgturkey). At the very least, this might be my new most favorite Batman related video ever.

2) I spent no less than three hours today in meetings for which time I'm not getting paid. My annoyance about this is great, and most of it is focused right where it belongs--at myself.

3) This is incredibly disturbing: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/some-e-books-are-more-equal-than-others/ I love my paper and ink books too much to ever fall completely to ebooks, but I have been interested in the idea of a Kindle for travel purposes. I like to carry around a lot of books at one time, and a Kindle would allow me to lug around multiple books with ease. However, the knowledge that my bought-and-paid-for books could be wiped from the hard drive of my device without warning or consent is enough to eliminate any urge I've had to purchase one. I have not read the fine print on how the Kindle operates and how the books are offered, but this would seem on the surface to be a contract violation of some sort. I wonder if we'll see a class-action lawsuit out of this.

4) I dread court next week. And I dread all the drafting I now have lined up for myself. Blech. Monday is going to be perfectly horrible. I've got a long drive to the court (about an hour and a half, I think), and what promises to be a miserable session of court. Tuesday I have two hearings, one of which I'm worried about because I have little to no evidence to back up my client's claims (though I believe the client's claims).

5) I've not hit the point yet where I miss law school, but there have been days where it's been a near thing. The thing that is preferable about law school to my current situation is that in law school I was surrounded by my friends a great deal of the time. And there was less responsibility--my butt was the only one on the line if I got an answer wrong.

6) If I'm going to post political rants of any kind, I have to get better about really not caring what other people think of me.

7) I need to start writing more again. I've actually felt more creative in the past few months than I have for a couple of years, but so far I've not managed to be very productive with it, which is rather depressing. Mostly, I'm at the stage where I write down the ideas for characters and plots, but then I don't really know what to do with them. I'm really getting hung up on character voices lately. I have characters in my head. I know their back stories. But I don't always know who they really are, and I don't have their voices down. If I could just get their voices, I think I could write again.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-16 09:14 pm

Health Care Reform

You are hereby warned that this is a rant and it is political in nature. Also, it is not in support of the current health care reform bills being bandied about by Congress. So if you think they're on the right track and doing what needs to be done, you might want to stop reading right now. Just saying.

Every article I read about health care reform makes me sick to my stomach. Today's latest was that a non-partisan budget director stated today that the plans currently being lobbed about will only cause health care costs to go up and will do nothing to help keep them down. And in the article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_health_care_overhaul), quotes from the bills' supporters just poo-poo these warnings.

Now, I'll agree that we have a problem with health care in this nation. I will not agree, ever, that the answer lies with drastic government intervention. I believe in small government for a reason, not the least of which is that at its best, our government is mildly incompetent and incredibly inefficient, and at its worst, our government is grossly incompetent and downright immoral and corrupt. I would not entrust most of Congress with my laundry, much less something as important as my health care.

For me personally, the piece of the legislation that worries me the most is the plan to require everyone to carry health insurance or to pay a fine. Well, I am one of the 50 million people who are currently uninsured. I am uninsured for several reasons, not the least of which is that I cannot afford to purchase health insurance. If these bills are passed, I'm going to have a choice of paying a fine I can't afford or purchasing government subsidized health insurance (probably the government-run plan) that I don't want and probably still won't really be able to afford.

My issues with having to purchase such insurance are three-fold:

1) I don't purchase health insurance as is because I feel that the insurance industry is run immorally and borderline illegally. I would prefer to start a medical costs savings account to which I contribute more than a monthly insurance payment each month. Given my age and current physical health, I should be able to set aside enough money to cover myself in case of medical issues down the road. The only problem here is if I face a major medical emergency before I have the funds set aside to pay for it. And that is, admittedly, a large problem that I haven't worked out how to overcome yet. Buying health insurance would take care of that issue but would also soak up most of the money I would need to set aside in order to not have to carry health insurance later on. It's kind of a catch-22 situation.

2) I fully anticipate that the government-subsidized insurance (particularly if it's government-run insurance) will be substandard. I foresee fewer options in my health care and far more limitations than I would have with private insurance. I also foresee a lot of things not being covered such as eyecare and dental care, despite the importance of both of these. And then there is the issue of what happens when we have a recession and budget crunches. Look at what's happening to our teachers and in our schools now. I can only imagine what hospitals who are dependent on the government funding will have to cut back on or buy more cheaply. It terrifies me to consider our hospitals being run like our public schools.

3) I have a moral objection to buying subsidized insurance. I have long declared that I do not believe I should have to subsidize others' anything, including health care. I do not like being forced into hypocrisy by my own government. Just as I don't believe I should have to pay for my neighbor's hospital visits, so too do I believe he should not be obligated to help pay for mine. Unfortunately, the current bills requiring everyone to purchase health insurance or pay a steep fine give me little choice until I can make enough money to be able to afford my own unsubsidized health insurance. (Of course, with the way I expect taxes to go up for everyone, I figure it'll be awhile before I'm able to keep enough of my paychecks to actually be able to make a living and buy insurance.)

Frankly, I don't believe that government interference on the scale they're talking about is going to do anything but frak the system up even worse than it already is. Even if, somehow, the current folks pull off a miracle and establish the perfect health care system (and they won't because they're rushing this through and not sitting down and really giving it the time it needs--which is the sort of typical government action that leads to horrible laws being passed, so no one should be surprised when this all blows up in our faces), even if they somehow do that, the next administration, even if it's the same party, will feel the need to meddle with it, to tinker, to make things "better," and within three administrations, the entire health care system will be in much worse shape than it is right now.

No, I'm not a cynic. Not me.

On the other hand, I do support the proposition that insurance companies be forced to offer insurance to everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. And I am okay with this even if it does mean my prices go up so that I am subsidizing others' insurance costs. I don't like that I end up subsidizing others' costs, but I can suck up some of it if it means that insurance companies can no longer cherry-pick only the healthier patients and then still charge them out the wazoo.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-12 06:42 pm

Cons and More Cons

Things I hate about my job:

1) Responsibility. Being an attorney comes with a lot of responsibility. I have to be responsible for keeping up with everything. I am responsible for keeping up with court dates and filing dates; for keeping up with my clients (even ones who've stopped paying me until such time as I withdraw); for keeping up with my own schedule, my billing, and my timeslips. I've also got to keep up with my taxes and filing the right business documents at the right time. It's a lot to keep on top of, and I'm not always the best keeper of myself.

2) I'm always on the job. It's 6:30 on a Sunday night, and I've already fielded one call from a client. I've got loads of stuff I actually need to get done before I go to court in the morning, so I need to spend most of the rest of the evening working. I regularly have to work on Saturdays and Sundays, and my workday rarely ends at 5:00 on a weekday. I used to have an 8-5 job. I liked that. At 5:00, I went home and left work behind. I did not get panicky phone calls at 9:00 at night. My weekends were entirely my own. From 5:00 Friday afternoon to 8:00 Monday morning, the last thing on my mind was work. I miss that.

3) Advice. People are constantly asking me for my advice. My FREE advice. I have spoken on the phone with so many people and given up far too much free advice over the past few months. I have got to stop giving people ANYTHING over the phone unless they're already established clients with money sitting in my trust account. People do not understand that over half of what they're paying me for is my advice and my knowledge. If I advise you, I've given you something of value for which I should be recompensed. But no, people think that if all I've done is give them advice and I've not done any paperwork or appeared in court or even met with them face-to-face, I've not done anything that they should be expected to pay for. And the worst thing is that I have trouble making myself harass people into paying me for these things! ARGH!

4) People. I am strange about people. On the one hand, I get along exceptionally well with most individuals. I am a people person. I am good at finding happy mediums and facilitating conversations and negotiations between warring factions. And some days I absolutely love people. On the other hand, I am something of a misanthrope when it comes to humanity as a whole. I think people in general are pretty stupid and they regularly piss me off.
Generally, I'm a cynic. But what I'm finding now is that the longer I serve as an attorney, the more cynical I become of people as individuals. Dr. House's motto is "Everybody lies." Well, that's even more true when they're in court. What's really frustrating to me is that it's both sides that lie to me. I have clients I can't trust and I have social workers and attorneys I can't trust. It's a major problem when I have to play the game of "who's the biggest liar," especially knowing which of the liars the court is most likely to side with. It's very, very frustrating.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate everything. There are things I even like about what I do. Otherwise I really, truly, honestly would not be doing what I'm doing. I'm just more frustrated than happy right at this particular moment in time, and I wanted to rant. I've had a few phone calls this week from an unofficial client (as in I've given advice and taken phone calls but haven't officially done any work for--yes, this is one of those "I'm screwing myself" situations) with a very nasty problem. And while I hope she's telling me the truth, certain facts have me very concerned about what's going on. It leaves me in a moral and professional quandary where I'm really not sure what I should do next and I'm stressing out more than a little bit right now. (Especially since I've got two hearings scheduled for tomorrow that have me more than a little unhappy.)

Okay. I need to go do some work and try to think about some positive things. Of course, the problem is that doing the former almost precludes my ability to do the latter.

Hm. Okay, at least I have work to do. That's a pro.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-07 10:04 pm

Randomitis

1) I will not complain about jerkface attorneys here.

2) I will not complain about jerkface clients here.

3) I cannot say enough about the relaxing powers of kicking and punching the crap out of something. Happily I invested in a free-standing kicking/punching bag just for that purpose. I just imagine heads where my roundhouse kicks land. I think my bag needs more weight though--I nearly knocked it over.

4) There is no 4.

5) I hate feeling like I've done something wrong when I am actually fairly certain I haven't.

6) I hate, hate, hate that I sometimes care about what people I do not even like think about me. ARGH!

7) I can't believe Donna only got one season of Doctor Who. She's my favorite companion by far.

8) I want to see Star Trek again very badly, but it's not playing anywhere close enough. (An hour's drive away is the closest.) Rather than breaking the law and hunting down a torrent (though it was ever so tempting), I opted for the next best thing--I bought the book. I hope it and a steady infusion of good fanfic will tide me over until the DVD comes out.

9) Have I mentioned lately that I have a general loathing for most of humanity? No? Well, I do. It had dulled down to a low-level simmer that just caused me to roll my eyes at most news reports and the like, but today I had no less than three people reaffirm why I insist that I'm a misanthrope.

10) Okay, glitterandlube, you have a point, rabbits aren't vermin. I'm actually rather fond of rabbits. Groundhogs, on the other hand, are most definitely vermin. And so are opossums. And moles--I am not a fan of the moles.

11) I have pre-ordered Coraline and Watchmen on DVD. Now I just need to hold out until the 21st. I really want them both!
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-05 10:46 pm

Coyote Howls

I live in the mountains, and when I say that, I mean that I live miles away from the nearest small town and surrounded by woods. True, my little holler is more crowded than it was when I was a child (there are now six houses within close walking distance of one another instead of two), but we're still country out here.

One of the interesting and sometimes cool things about living in the woods is the number and variety of wild animals I regularly see. Deer are frequently spotted grazing in an old pasture just down the road, and we also see a lot of wild turkeys. And of course, snakes, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, and other "vermin" are abundant.

There are also coyotes.

Coyotes have been a concern for us for several years now--we have cattle, and a hungry pack has been known to take down a calf or two. Coyotes also kill chickens, cats, and small dogs. They killed my neighbor's weiner dog just last summer and were rumoured to have killed a calf. Despite this, I've never really given the coyotes much thought. Until today.

This afternoon, I heard a coyote howl. That, in and of itself, was just kind of cool. But the response... I've heard people describe a coyote's howl as eerie, and the responding howls I heard today certainly fit that description. Some of them did sound quite like human screams. I am not easily spooked, but those howls, even coming as they did in the middle of the afternoon, made me uneasy. I think it was a beautiful but terrible noise. And while I remain unafraid, I am, perhaps, a little more wary of the local pack.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-07-03 12:05 pm

Other Attorneys

While the clients are usually the most interesting part of my legal day, sometimes it's other attorneys.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part, attorneys in these mountains are very professional and courteous. I have already made some wonderful friends among my soulless counterparts, and I even have some level of fondness for two attorneys I would classify as arrogant assholes. (I have a little bit of a soft spot for people who know they're arrogant assholes, embrace it, and are very up-front about their nature. I just try not to spend too much time around them.)

However, there is this one attorney who is causing me some issues, and I'm not sure what to do about him. I have never even met the man, but I have already been forced to file for sanctions and attorney's fees against him for filing a frivolous motion against my client. The fact that he didn't even bother to turn up to court to defend his motion speaks volumes to me. I took on another client yesterday whose ex has used this attorney in the past and who described the man to me as a slimy greaseball. I was contacted today about taking on another case which may actually require me to file professional complaints and seek a malpractice complaint against the man.

What troubles me about this is that I haven't even met the man. All I know of him is what I hear from other attorneys and my clients. I've heard him described as a nice man who's just terminally disorganized and I've heard him described as a slippery, vile weasel of an attorney who seems to take great pleasure in fleecing his clients. And while I hate to base an opinion of someone on gossip, I'm afraid that the combination of gossip and my professional frustrations with the man have my opinion leaning toward the weasel end of the spectrum.

A sad commentary on myself is that I kind of like having him around because of his bad reputation. As long as he practices in this manner in this area, I'm not going to be the worst attorney around. If nothing else, I show up to court and do so on time!
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-06-27 08:36 pm

Maybe Random, Maybe Not

I went and looked at office space to rent this week. I've been working out of home, which sounds awesome (and in many ways is awesome), but isn't going to work for me much longer. My house is small, and the second bedroom has already been set up as my mother's office. Since I live here without paying rent (or electric or for the phone or internet right now), I can't exactly ask her to move her office so that I can set up a better one for myself. And even if I could, simply having more space (and a separate workspace within my home) wouldn't actually address all of my issues.

Anyway, I went and looked at some completely empty space that I could lease and establish my own completely independent office. Then I went and spoke to a far more experienced (and very excellent) attorney about leasing some space in an office sharing situation from him. Right now I'm leaning toward the latter situation. I don't want to go into too much detail in case things fall apart, suffice it to say that for about the same price as renting just the bare space in my hometown, I can make a thirty minute commute to an office that's already set up and furnished and where I'll have two experienced attorneys I can go to for advice. It's really a fantastic bargain.

Other legal news for me includes the gain of a handful of new clients, an attorney friend of mine getting appointed a judicial seat (which is not unrelated to the new clients), having my first hearing in front of an ALJ (Administrative Law Judge, and that was a crazy experience I'd love to but probably shouldn't write too much about), getting appointed to some more loony DSS cases, pissing off and being pissed off in return by one county's DSS, and just generally trying to get by. Some days I'm okay, most days I feel like I'm just barely hanging on by the skin of my teeth and I can't help but wonder what ever made me think this was a good idea. Oh, and I got my first three hours of CLE credit out of the way, including an hour of ethics. It's unpleasantly like sitting through BARBRI classes, which is still an improvement over law school classes which torture students through liberal use of the Socratic method.

Outside of the law, I have little to no life. My best friend was in for the week this past week and we took a longer-than-intended hike near my house on Wednesday, followed by a long afternoon/evening of vegging out at my house. We hiked down to the lake (about a mile from my house) and then took a meandering route back that took us more than a little off-course. We were both pretty icky feeling when we got back. But I felt pretty accomplished for it. Other than that...hm...my church had Bible School and I helped with one of the classes.

Oh, and I've shopped recently. The fun shopping trip was to Staples, where I bought legal pads and file folders and an awesome new printer. The not-so-fun-but-nearly-as-necessary trip was today, where I went to Belk's and Kohl's and got clothes. For the record, I hate shopping for clothes. But I did find a nice pin-stripe skirt suit that had a really awesome sale price, and I found a couple of new nice shirts I can wear to court with my suits or wear without the onus of a suit jacket. Most of my shopping lately has been for work-related items. It's sad. But I'm planning to purchase a new laptop in the next few months, and that's going to be for personal use. I've decided that I need separate work and personal computers, and since my work stuff takes up less hard drive space than my personal stuff, the comp I shall buy shall have much more memory and shall be for my personal use. When I wipe my music, pic, and vid files from this one, there will be more than enough room for work stuff. Sadly, the new computer is months away. I need to start getting paid more regularly first.

So, in brief: potential new office = cool and exciting; law crap continues to be law crap; personal life continues to be filled with tv and internet; and I'd rather shop for office supplies than clothes.
amiguriken: (Default)
2009-06-18 12:23 am

The Power of the Internet

Last night school administrators for Bonny Eagle High School in Maine had to have been horrified to find that a story about their graduation ceremony (in which a student was denied his diploma for blowing a kiss to his mother) had hit the front page of Yahoo. Just a few short years ago, if anyone outside of that small community heard about this event at all, it would have been as a quick blurb on a news broadcast or a footnote in a large newspaper trying to fill up space. The school would have dealt with the irate parents of the community. Now, however, thanks to the internet, the story is everywhere, and school officials at Bonny Eagle High School have found themselves at the center of a maelstrom of opinions (most of them negative) from people around the entire world.

And, then there's the Twitter effect on the Iran elections. I remember Tiananman Square. Somewhere I still have the Time magazine with the cover of that iconic image of the young man facing down the tanks. The news we got from that tragedy was so limited. Now, thanks to cell phones, computers, and the internet, we are able to get stories directly from the students and other protesters in Iran. And the internet has given individuals in other countries ways to vent their own frustrations and share their concerns as well as ways in which to offer some small help. I have seen multiple posts on Twitter identifying ways for people in Iran to get around the censors to make their voices heard. That is amazing.

The internet is one of those things that makes me wish I had become a journalist. I could spend years writing articles on nothing but how the way individuals use the internet has completely changed our world and about how humanity as a species really, probably is not mature enough for that sort of power. Perhaps one day I'll start really writing again and can turn my focus to writing a serious article about the awesome powers of the internet instead of just rambling about it vaguely on DW and LJ.

(Speaking of the awesome powers--yes, I'm writing this from my Dreamwidth account. I'm giving the bugger a go.)