Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Want Ads, anyone?

I almost quit my job last week.

I still might do it today.

Not to blow my own horn, but I do a great deal to keep this firm running, at least the bankruptcy side of it. If I walked out the door, the people in my department here would not know what to do. I do all the bankruptcy case review, all the bankruptcy hearings, all the negotiations with creditors, opposing counsel, trustees, and the court. I am the one that has re-built the firm's rapport with creditors, opposing counsel, trustees, and the court. I am the one that keeps up-to-date on recent bankruptcy law. They would be left with no-one to practice bankruptcy law.

Well, they would be left with the Big Boss and my senior counsel. . . but . . . .

You see, my supervising attorney apparently really has no interest any more in practicing the law, but he delights in rubbing his so-called "opponents" noses in it when they're "wrong."

We came to verbal blows last week over a Motion he wanted me to file. I told him he was wrong. He refused to admit it, because it made opposing counsel look bad. I told him it would damage the good rapport we had with that attorney and his office. He did not seem to care. I told him that it was an inadvertent mistake by someone who happens to be a friend. He told me that it was my friendship coloring the issue, not his glee at proving an "enemy" wrong.

Then another employee--holier-than-thou, self-important--jumps into the mix. Explains to me the damage that has been done to the client by the "evil" attorney.(Oh, all right, he didn't actually say "evil" but you could almost see it in his eyes.) How the client's "entitled" to get the relief that my boss wants to get from the court.

Never mind that, so far as I can tell, there is no provision for such relief in the law.

Never mind that it was an inadvertent mistake by opposing counsel's office and that the situation was covered in disclaimers that my office-mates and supervising attorney won't admit to seeing.

Never mind that he's wrong.

Now I have to argue something that I have NO belief in and that I think is reprehensible. It could cost, potentially, someone their job. I argued for 24 hours to take a different course of action. I re-wrote his motion six times, only to have him put it back in front of me for signing with only minor, insubstantial changes.

Oh yeah, he's forcing me to sign it, because he does not sign anything around here any more. Little does the boss know.

So I am going to suffer the wrath of opposing counsel.

And probably the judge.

Not that it was anything illegal or necessarily improper. Just something that goes against everything I believe in where the practice of law is concerned.

Well.

I'm just about done.

I've been stabbed in the back one too many times since the start of December 2006. I've had too much passive-agressive lecturing given to me. I've had too much mothering and monitoring of my work.

I've had too much implied insult towards --and quiet aggravation with-- my belief that family comes before all this crap.

This may have been the final straw.

If I did not have the Horde and my LW to support and feed, I would have thrown the motion back in his face that day.

But I didn't.

And now I've gone along with something I don't believe in because there was a pay check at risk.

I realize now what that makes me.

And it ain't a pretty realization.

Read More......

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Constants: Death and Taxes

Now, I'm generally not one to go in for the whole conspiracy theory fascination that so many seem to have. Granted, I don't entirely trust my government any longer and I find a lot of things that happen in the world news to be "fishy" at best, but I have yet to fit myself with a tinfoil hat and I am proud to say I have never read--and do not own--a copy of Catcher in the Rye. Also, Conspiracy Theory is really one of Mel Gibson's worst movies.

That being said, in browsing the 'web today, two stories caught my eye. The first story--at World Net Daily--reveals a settlement agreement between the IRS and the Scientologists, courtesy of a recent report by the American Bar Association Journal and a Wall Street Journal report in 1997.

Apparently, under their secret agreement with the Internal Revenue Service, Scientologists "can deduct the cost of religious education as a charitable gift." Now the question becomes whether members of other religious groups can cut the same agreement or whether Scientology is getting special treatment.

The ABA Journal report deals with a case currently on appeal before the Ninth Circus Court of Schlemiels Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Granted, it may be the most-overturned court in the country, but it appears that there is some sanity on that court after all. "The [ABA Journal] report said Judge Kim Wardlaw noted during arguments that the issue 'does intrude into the Establishment Clause,' and that the 'bottom line' is whether the IRS has, in fact, agreed to treat members of one religious group differently from members of another group."

Proof? The WND story concludes with a comment that "when the Sklars attempted to take the deduction the IRS sent them letters explaining the terms for Scientologists to take such deductions, but then disallowed theirs because they didn't provide receipts from the Church of Scientology."

Then we had this story from the St. Petersburg Times.

Lonsdale, whose one-man crusade against Scientology made him a public enemy of the church, was found dead at his home over the weekend in an apparent suicide. He was 39.

Police discovered Lonsdale's body at 12:20 p.m. Saturday after neighbors reported a foul odor. They found a garden hose stretched from the exhaust pipe of Lonsdale's car into a window of his home at 510 N Lincoln Ave., according to Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Daly-Watts.

Daly-Watts said there were no signs of foul play, and police found what appeared to be a suicide note. It was not immediately available.

The medical examiner's office said the official cause of death is pending toxicology reports.

It was a lonely end for a man who emerged out of nowhere in 2006 as a thorn in the side of the Church of Scientology.

This was a man who taped hours and hours of camera footage, staking out Scientology buildings, and then produced a local "pseudo-documentary" for local cable television. Granted, there may be better ways to spend your time, and all indications point to the fact that Mr. Lonsdale had tired of his crusade and was pulling his life into good shape.

Then he kills himself?

Say what?

Randy Payne, a former Scientologist . . . said that he last spoke to Lonsdale two months ago, and that Lonsdale had found steady work. . . . He talked about going back to school and getting a private investigator's license.

"He was getting on with his life," Payne said. "He had every reason to live."

Landlord Joe Critchley said Lonsdale was an ideal tenant: He paid the $650 rent on time every month and he kept the place clean. The last time they talked, Feb. 1 or Feb. 2, Lonsdale seemed fine. "He would be one of the last people I would expect to commit suicide," Critchley said. "But you never know."

You never know.

Except sometimes you do.

There are much easier ways, I'm told, to commit suicide. But as a movie buff and avid reader, I know that there are many harder ways to kill someone else. There are also many more obvious ways to kill someone else.

I started out thinking about a humorous angle to the connection between these two stories; instead, I'm a little bit weirded out right now, to tell you the truth. Big time heebie-jeebies. The more I think about it, the more I wonder: the story says Clearwater, Florida is "the heart of Scientology's religious headquarters." It would be interesting to see exactly who in the community was on the church membership rolls. Any investigators on the Lonsdale case, perhaps?

Show of hands?

After all, we've seen that Scientology gets a pass from the government on Taxes. Why not also on Death, the other constant?

We don't have anything firm. Nothing but circumstantial evidence at this point.

So, you never know.

Except sometimes--deep down inside--you do.

Read More......

Friday, February 15, 2008

Deities and Irony Pt. 2 (**Warning: Black humor**)

As we first discussed last month, it appears that it is not only possible for Deities to understand and appreciate irony, but they have a sense of humor about it as well. (And let's not get into a discussion about my use of the plural Deities--it's for effect.)

Well . . . it's happened again. We have more proof.

news.com.au has the following report:

A LANDMINE blew up in the home of a religious cleric in southern Afghanistan, killing the mullah, two of his sons and two other men who had been preparing an attack, police said today.

The cleric's wife was critically wounded in the blast in their compound in the southern province of Helmand late yesterday, and a daughter was hurt, provincial police chief General Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said.

The bodies of the mullah and his two sons, both under 15 years old, remained at the site of the blast, he said.

Other people in the compound said two other men were killed but their bodies had been removed before police arrived, he said.

The group was likely associated with the Taliban, he said. The extremist militants are particular active in Helmand province, where they are said to be tied up with opium and heroin traffickers.

An insurgency by the Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001, was its deadliest last year with more than 6,000 people killed, most of them rebels but including hundreds of civilians.

Just a side thought here: are these insurgents terrorists really that bad at math. The report cites "hundreds" of civilian deaths. Let's round that up to 1,000. That leaves 5,000 rebel terrorist deaths. That's 83%. That means 375,000 virgins waiting. Do none of these so-called men stop and say "Whoa, dude . . . . If we build this bomb, five of us in this room are going to die for every civilian we take out?" Has no-one crunched the numbers?, Are you mad, people? ARE YOU INSANE?!? Just from a logic point of view: (a) you're more likely to take out your buddies than an infidel and (b) where's the proof of the virgins?!? I mean, that's 375,000 virgins per year. That's one heckuva lot of virgins!

And let's not even discuss the fact that the "virgin promise" is non-gender specific. (Thank you to Jeff Dunham and Achmed the Dead Terrorist for bringing that point to light.)

Now, the report doesn't say this . . . but I understand from my research that the cleric had blue eyes.

One "blew" this way and one "blew" that way. (drum flourish).

I also understand that--despite what you would expect--the cleric and his sons were actually not thinking about their respective 75 virgins. That's right . . . the last thing to go through their collective minds?

Their feet! (drum flourish).

Thank you folks. Try the veal. I'll be here all week.

And don't forget to tip your waiter.

Read More......

Stupid can be clients, too!

So.

Some years ago, back in the early days of my bankruptcy practice, (late-90s?) I have a client show up first thing one morning with some documents in hand. I didn't think anything about it, because we had a hearing later that morning. Note that his attendance at this hearing was mandatory; if he missed it, his case would be dismissed.

About an hour later, I wandered out past reception and noticed that he was sitting in the waiting room, reading a magazine. About twenty minutes after that, he appears at my office door (apparently the receptionist left her desk for a moment) asking if I remembered who he was and if I was going to the hearing this morning, or if he was on his own.

As much as I was tempted to tell him he was on his own, I restrained--and told him I'd be leaving for court in just a few minutes. He then proceeded to ask me question after question about the documents he was asked to bring to the hearing. Question after question. He tried to go over the documents with me, for which I didn't have time, and I told him to just take them to the hearing and to go ahead and leave for court. He finally took my advice and left for court.

Oh yeah...turns out he'd told the receptionist that he was waiting for me and had simply sat in the waiting room for over an hour. But, as Ron Popeil says, that's not all!

When I finally got my files together and made it to the hearing, I was fifteen minutes behind him. He was nowhere to be found. Nowhere. Now, I should explain in advance that this hearing room is on the second floor of the court building. The hearing room is also clearly marked. The elevators dominate the building lobby.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. Still no client.

The hearing had started and they were ready to call his case when he came running down the hall, huffing and puffing. I grabbed his documents from him, turned them in, he answered a couple quick questions, and we left. When I got back out into the hall, he explained that he had locked himself in the stairwell.

For over twenty minutes.

Fifteen of those minutes were spent hammering on the door and yelling for help. Some kind gentleman finally heard him and let him through.

He locked himself in the stairwell for twenty minutes and almost missed a crucial hearing.

Now, I can understand that most of the doors in the stairway are locked from the office side for security reasons. They are, after all, security doors in a "secure" public building. But I'm also pretty sure that fire code regulations would require the first floor door--leading into the lobby--remain unlocked and accessible from either side.

He locked himself in the stairwell for twenty minutes, screaming and knocking, and almost missed a crucial hearing when the door several floors was unlocked and open.

He locked himself in the stairwell for twenty minutes with an open door three floors below him. That's like claiming to have locked yourself in a convertible with the top down.

(We won't get into the fact that the receptionist LET him sit for an hour without telling me he was there allegedly waiting for me. That's another rant for another day.)

I'm guessing that someday, if I remain practicing long enough, I WILL meet a client who HAS locked themselves in a convertible with the top down.

Then I will have seen everything.

Read More......

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

If the Shoe Fits....

What is it with our modern culture and ill-fitting clothing?

I'm not just talking about the ill-advised use of spandex on the larger people among us... I'm talking about the poor attire choices of so many people you see around you, be they svelte and fit or "less-than-such."

I crossed state lines and headed to the big city last week and had the chance to ride some late-night mass transit. My word.... Ten years ago, you would have had to go to Los Angeles or Las Vegas to see so much flesh. And, as we've already discussed, it's not always pleasant flesh.

(OK. I'm going to catch a lot of grief for that phrase... "pleasant flesh". I'm guessing the LW is going to need more than flowers for Valentine's to make up for that remark.)

I also see it in my clients all the time. We've had the "dancer" who appeared in bankruptcy court in a spaghetti strap crop-top; granted, it was covered (mostly) by a blazer.... But the blazer did nothing for the denim "Daisy Dukes" she was wearing. I've had an anorexic teenage guy with an oversize tank top, with more tattoos than flesh. Of course, you have the ubiquitous thong sightings (which raises the question: how do they make those little strings SO strong to fit some of these men and women? (Yes. I did say "men." That, my friends, is a sight sufficient to bring last Thanksgiving's dinner back up the pipes.)

I've seen it in other attorneys' clients, too. Like the woman wearing a tube top (also under a blazer, for what good it did) whose...umm... breasts Northern Assets had a more-than-passing acquaintance with her waist. Or the girls with hip-hugging pajama bottoms. Guys in sweat pants.

I guess I should be glad it's NOT just me.

But today there was a sighting of perhaps the worst of all.

Yes.

There was a sighting of what a friend of mine terms "Hairy Belt Cleavage."

....

....

For the uninitiated, "belt cleavage" is often seen when a plumber is hard at work.

Add in copious amounts of (horrifyingly enough, apparently GROOMED) back hair on the lower back and beyond, and .... Well, you get the picture.

Oh! For a government job where you don't get these people in your office ... and if you have to work with them, it's only in passing for a brief moment.

We're talking three to five years at least of this client. Would it be crass or unprofessional to grab him by the shoulders and shake him while screaming, "Pull your shirt down, man! Wear a longer shirt! Throw the hip-huggers away! For all that is good and Holy in this world, PLEASE COVER UP!"

Would that be soooooo wrong? It's something to ponder, certainly. A possible solution.

So...why am I telling you all of this?

Misery loves company. Plain and simple.

...and maybe by sharing, I can get a little bit of the picture out of MY head.

Read More......

Monday, February 04, 2008

Declarations

What an amazing piece of advertising this is.

Due to some previously-scheduled family and church obligations, I was unable to watch the Super Commercials er.... Super BOWL. Normally, I'm stuck afterwards between two or three really good commercials to name as my "favorite."

Not this year.



Dang.

We need more of this.

Much more.

So that, to use the words of President Abraham Lincoln, "this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Read More......