Procrastination (But I Digress)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bonus, so you won't have to read the next one

Adam and I went up to San Francisco for the weekend. I've been wanting to drive to Carmel and see the 17 mile drive for a while and Adam had a Matches concert that he really wanted to attend, so this was a great excuse for a trip. I was a little concerned about driving for so long (Adam slept the entire time), but it was fine.

Most of the hotels were booked, but we found one that wasn't outrageous in downtown San Francisco (in the middle of all the adult theaters), and it was very nice. Parking was very expensive, but we had in and out privileges, so that took some of the sting out of it.

On Saturday we pulled into Oakland on gas fumes, but I couldn't find a gas station before the Bay bridge--that is a very long bridge. We made it across without running out of gas and got to the hotel. Later we were going to drive back to Oakland for Adam's concert, but I didn't want to get back on that bridge without getting gas first. I could not find a gas station to save my life. We finally asked for directions to a gas station and I couldn't get into it. It doubled as a car wash and I missed the only turn into it. So I went about 16 blocks out of the way to find a place to turn around and luckily there was another gas station there (with a car wash and equally difficult to get into). The first gas station was 3.29 and the second one was 3.18 per gallon. (We only saw one other gas station in San Francisco the entire time and we drove all around.)

After taking the wrong ramp to get to Oakland, it took about 45 minutes to turn around and go the right way, but finally we made it to the part of Oakland where the concert was being held. It was across the street from a movie theater, so I went to the movies while Adam went to his concert. That part worked out great.

When we first got to San Francisco, I wanted to walk down to Fisherman's Warf. The guy at the desk said it was about a 20 minute walk and we had a map. The problem was that the neighborhood while not horrible, was not all that good either. I was not too keen on the idea of whipping out the map. This was definitely a neighborhood to walk purposefully through. There were actually a lot of people on the streets and so many homeless people. Anyway, we went the wrong way and by the time we realized it, we didn't really have time to backtract. Thank goodness. On Sunday I drove to Fisherman's Warf--the hills we would have had to walk up were 90 degrees--straight up OMG. I missed the parking lot after two try's and so we never did go to Fisherman's Warf, but I'm sure we'll survive.

We came up the 5 freeway to San Francisco and we made it in about six hours. Going home, I took the 101, because I wanted to go to Carmel. Carmel is on the 1, so we had to find a way from the 101 to the 1. I didn't have a map so we stopped in a little store and paid $5 for a map. So much for looking for the cheapest price for gas. There were two ways to get there and one looked shorter than the other. So I took the shorter way, but after driving and driving it felt like we were going the wrong way, so I turned around. When I went to the next sign for the Monterey Penisula, it took us right back to where I had just turned around, so I told Adam that I was going to give that route one hour. It only took 15 minutes and then we were on the 1. We drove through Carmel (no parking places) and took the 17 mile drive (it looked different--the seals looked kind of sickly). I kept talking up the lone cypress to Adam and then there was no parking.

On the map, it looked like the 1 was shorter than backtracking to the 101, so I took the 1 south. I know better, I really, really do. That was so awful. It took us about twelve hours to get home and we didn't find a place to eat dinner until 7:30 and then Adam didn't want anything and nothing looked good to me either, so we left. We went to a hole in the wall market and got chips for dinner.

It was too long a drive for too short a time and I don't ever need to do that again. But I'm really glad we went. It was nice to see San Francisco and I think Adam enjoyed seeing places that he hears about though his music chat rooms.

The next blog is all about one of the movies I saw--it you didn't see Michael Clayton and you want to, don't read it yet.

Michael Clayton

Spoiler Alert--don't read if you want to see Michael Clayton and haven't yet.

I must say that through the entire movie, I was disappointed. The critics had built it up in my mind and throughout the movie it just didn't live up to the hype. However, I stayed with it. The beginning was near the end--I kept waiting for something awful to happen. There was all this spooky music, but nothing happened for the longest time. Then inexplicably a car blew up--really out of the blue. Then we went back to four days earlier. The movie was about lawyers and a big corporation. I didn't think the end was believable, but the real end was very intriguing. (I haven't seen "Rumor Has It" yet about what supposedly happened after "The Graduate", but this movie made me really think about that.) Michael Clayton is sitting in a taxi and the last three or four minutes of the film are just his face absorbing what has just happened--where does he go from here--nothing's changed, but everything has changed. Now what?

Days later I'm still struck by how no one in this movie was a bad guy (even the killers) and no one was a good guy (even the hero). They were all just people doing their best--doing what they thought they had to do. There was one larger than life hero in a small child and that was an interesting dynamic. An eight year old who was pushed to the side of the story and then brought into focus to fulfill little side plots. It's kind of like the adults know their flaws and are putting all their hopes into the child.

The lawyers were so true to life (except the end). The bored associates handling the depositions, the senior partners running around trying to placate the clients, mountains and mountains of paperwork. Michael Clayton was the "fixer" and when an irate client said that he was supposed to be a miricle worker for the amount of money the client was paying, Michael Clayton said that he was a janitor cleaning up messes (and his advice, I thought was really creative and right on the mark). I get so mad when my clients expect me to perform miracles--I want to tell them, I'm not magic--all I can do is argue the facts as best I can. There's a scene of Michael Clayton's day--a montage of overlapping telephone calls, files, problem solving, juggling six matters at once (not to mention the main plot of the movie problem). It was so true to life--that's my day sometimes.

The idea that the lawyer was a janitor stayed with me too. I cannot clean my stove--I mean it. No matter what I do, I cannot get the crusted stuff around the burner off. I've soaked it, doused it with 409, simple green, everything I can think of. It will not come clean. Berna (my cleaning lady) makes it look brand new everytime. She knows what she is doing and she makes sure she has the right tools. That's what a lawyer does. We have the knowledge and the tools. It just seems like a miracle that the stove is so clean after Berna has been there.

So I have to give this movie a thumbs up--it has really stayed with me and while writing this blog I realized that the ending that I thought was not believable fits if it is regular human beings doing the best they know how. I think that was the whole point of the movie.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

FIDM Had Me at Hello

I went with Adam to an interview with an admissions counselor at the Fashion Institute of Design and something with an M (Mechanics?). He had an earlier phone interview that Adrienne had been at with a Fashion Institute in San Diego. I didn't think that a fashion institute was a "real" school, so I was very skeptical. However, I'm thrilled that Adam has found these places that have learning opportunities that he is actually interested in, so I wanted to keep an open mind. Adam has always been very interested in Art, but there have been so few opportunites for art classes that I've been worried that he didn't get enough early training to make it a serious career choice.

The counselor that we went to see at FIDM was very perky. I was so impressed that she listened to everything we said and incorporated it so well into her sales pitch. Wow, she would make an excellent used car salesman--I wanted to stop her over and over and tell her, "you had us at hello."

I absolutely loved the school--the hallways were like a museum--every corner we turned was something new and wonderful. There was a display of miniture chairs--hundreds of different designs--they were so cool. There was a wall of sketches of fashion with a hint of color and swatches of material. There were large pop art posters and another display of movie posters--all different and really good for the same movie. She told us that this was a project that the graphic design class had done the year before and that one had won a National award.

Graphic Design is the area that Adam is interested in and she showed us the classrooms--every student had a computer and there were large screens for the Professor to make presentations. The "study hall" was a large room with a mixture of tables, conversation areas, a "pool" area (with cushions, not water) and chaise lounges made with a desk top for your computer. There was another "study hall" filled with drafting tables. The lighting was great. There was a production studio. The school is downtown and I never knew it was there. It overlooks a public park, but since the park is enclosed, it feels like it is just part of the school.

They offer an Associates Degree in Art and a Bacholor's Degree in Business. They focus mainly on fashion design, but they also have a graphic design major and production art major. The counselor suggested that Adam keep an open mind and consider the production art major as well as his first choice of graphic design.

I really was in love with the place and could hardly wait to sign Adam up, but then Adrienne reminded me that I was the one who was skeptical so I slowed down and tried to think about the down side. I haven't come up with anything yet.

It's up to Adam, of course. I think he liked it and I hope that his work so far is enough. He's had a few photography classes and ceramics, but I'm not sure that will be enough preparation. [I was really impressed that he had put together a portfolio for the interview and the car salesman was thrilled with all his work. That counselor really was art in motion--she had something clever and supportive to say about every piece Adam had and she remembered specific details an hour into the interview--I must say I wanted to hand her money right then and there for just being so excellent at her job. And of course, Adam's work really is impressive, but objectively knowing how rose colored my glasses are, it's so thrilling when other people think so too.]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jury Duty

Hurry up and wait was the order of the day. I couldn't sleep the night before jury duty. They wanted us at 7:45 a.m. at the Criminal Courts building. The parking lot is about five blocks away--up steep hills. I am always late for everything, but the last time that I was late for jury duty, I got completely lost--did not know what line to stand in and eventually I was told to come back the next day. That was really annoying, since I had already cleared that day--not the next day. So I wanted to be on time. Such a dillema--leave an hour early and get there before the court opens or leave 1/2 hour early and race. My plan was to leave 45 minutes early. Now I knew that this would not be an easy task. I usually wake up at 6:30, but I don't actually get up until 7:30. This time I would have to get up at 6:30. Usually if I have to get up early, I set the clock earlier, so as to build in this waking up process I have going, but noooo, I was so cool, I didn't think that I needed any stinking waking up time. So I turned the volume up louder (to remind myself that I actually have to get up at 6:30) and turned out the light. Three hours later when I still couldn't fall asleep from worrying if I'd get up on time, I considered setting the alarm clock earlier, but by now I had lost so much sleep time, I really didn't have any to spare.

When I finally went to sleep, I started dreaming about crime shows and jails. I just saw the 60 minutes segment on super max prisions. If I have to go to prison, I'm scared enough of all those other prisoners, that I think solitary confinment would work good for me, but they were talking about the guys in supermax as going insane. Not a good picture. There was an episode of Law and Order about a prison riot and they showed some of the people who had been on earlier episodes after they'd been in prison--that was a very scary episode.

When the alarm went off (weirdly at 6:45--I think I slept through turning it off the first few times), I realized that it was not being late that was worrying me--it was having to possibly send someone to jail. So I got up--did not go crazy that I was running late--a half hour is plenty. I was on the road and traffic was awful, but I knew that a judge was not going to be there at 7:45, so I put worry over being late out of my mind. I was not familar with the parking lot (I go downtown a lot, but a free parking lot beats my regular $17 parking lot by a mile), so I worried that I would have to circle the block, which is next to impossible in downtown Los Angeles. However, the parking lot was simple to find--the parking spot was really close and tight, but my car has already hit a poll, so what's a little more damage. Finding the way out of the parking lot was slightly confusing, but I managed and there were a bunch of clueless people just like me with their jury summons in their hand at the light. Luckily it was down hill to the courthouse, since by now I was over 15 minutes late, but I had a good crowd around me of other late people, so, no worries. One lady struck up a conversation and the rest of us were grateful. At one light, someone in our crowd started up the wrong street and we quickly set her straight. The back door to the courthouse that we were supposed to enter by was clearly marked and while their lines for security were not as organized as the airports--I figured it out.

Then came the elevators. There were six that were just for the 12 to 19 floors and then past that, in an area that sort of looked like it was blocked off, were the elevators for the 1 to 11th floors. The lady who started the conversation said that it was on the 11th floor, but my summons said the fifth floor. After a flurry of panic, I confidently stated that there must be more than one jury room and croaked for someone to press 5. I pealed out of the elevator on the 5th floor and realized that I had been there before. This was the floor that has the arraignment court that my class visited last year on our tour of the criminal courthouse. There was the snack bar, but I didn't remember the jury room being here. Not to worry, there it was at the end of the hallway. Great, I thought--I'm trying to be good on my diet and I'm going to be stuck all day long next to the snack bar--lovely.

The guard inside the jury room handed me a packet and said, take a seat. The room was packed, but I managed to find an empty seat between two people who had spread out, obviously not wanting someone to sit there. So now it was after 8 a.m. and I expected it to start any minute. After five minutes, I figured I might as well read my book. I used to never leave the house without a book. I always had room in my smallest purse to bring my book, but now reading a book has become quite a process. First I get out my book and find my page (that I have turned down the corner of, even though I hate defacing a book in any manner--I always forget to use one of the million bookmarks that I have). While holding my page (since I have smoothed out the corner, still feeling bad for having turned it down in the first place), I go to fish out my glasses, but I can't open the case with one hand, so loose my place in my book, get my glasses, put away the glass case, and finally settle down to read. What a terrible book. So I put my book away, put away my glasses and closed my eyes to try to go to sleep. That's when they decided to give us our instructions.

The instructions lasted a long time and then we had to turn in the paperwork (saying how long our employer would pay for jury duty--mine is zero). Then at 10 a.m., they told us we could go on a break for 20 minutes. That prompted most people to spread out into the hallways and tables, so that the chairs were not quite so crowded and for the rest of the day, I had the seat next to me empty. So I tried sleeping, I went back to my book (yuck), I tried sudoko (but I couldn't concentrate), later in the afternoon I even worked on my cross-stitch. At 11 they called one panel (not me). At Noon they told us we could leave for lunch and to be back at 1:30. As 100 people headed for the elevators, the panel they had called at 11 was coming in our direction done with that panel. It took about 20 minutes to get an elevator and I went back to my car for lunch (I brought my chicken and I even brought an apple--very disciplined--I was so proud of myself). It was up hill to my car.

In the afternoon, I did fall asleep sitting up and when I woke up I was strangely refreshed, but it was only 2:30. At 4 we all anxiously watched the clock and waited breathlessly for the release. They told us that it would come at some time between 4 and 5. At five minutes after 4, they came on the loudspeaker and said that we were going to be released, but that we had to wait for our name to be called and then come up and get our proof of service card. If we didn't answer here, then we'd have to come back and do it again in two weeks. The "heres" were very loud and clear. There was silence after the announcement and the guy said "you are allowed to be happy you are leaving" and then there was some applause, but quite frankly we were all too exhausted from our stressful day of waiting to get too excited. As I left the building to make the up hill hike back to my car it looked like rain, but it didn't rain. So that was my blessing, when I counted my blessings. That was the only one I had any energy for.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bite Size Law

I read the directions for my speech project and ice did not work, so I fell back on the law. As I suspected it was too long for the format, but I improvised and cut it short. I need to develope a plan to give speeches about law in short tiny segments. My speech was about real property lingo, but it was hard to know what the general public knew and didn't know. I thought it was all really basic, but afterwards people indicated it was all new to them. This opens up many subjects, but can I pack any of them into 5 to 7 minutes?

I think I'll tackle abortion next--that's a challenge. Everyone has an opinion, but do they really stop and think about the basis for their opinion or do they just go with their gut? Can I spell out basic premises in 5 to 7 minutes (and not express my opinion)? I want to come up with a way to present the issue, because it comes up in my law class, but I want the kids to make up their own mind after really examining the legal issue. Very ambitious. I think I'd rather go back to ice.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Did you know that they had ice in 400 bc Iran--they would cart it down in the winter from the mountains and then store it underground in sophisticated coolers with an elabrate fan system that kept the temperature frigid--in the desert. I had to search high and low, and usually fruitlessly for ice in Europe, but there's a moon of Jupiter completely covered in ice that is named Europa. Mythbusters proved that ice can be used to start a fire--carve the ice into a lens and then focus sunlight on kindling through the ice lense. Water is the only known non-metal substance to expand when it freezes. A glacier is not a frozen sea--it is fresh water formed from compacted layers of snow. Sea water doesn't freeze until 28.8 degrees F, because of the salt content. Black ice is really transparent ice on asphalt. There are 14 phases of ice. Although Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Cat's Cradle" featured ice-nine, the real ice-nine does not have the ability to freeze all water on Earth with the introduction of one grandular. Doesn't that book sound freaky.

I always knew I loved ice, but I had no idea of how many cool facts there were about ice (pun intended). I'm giving a speech and law stuff is too much for 5 to 7 minutes, so I decided to try something else that I love--I love ice. Ice was one of Caitlyn's first words. I rely on getting a steady stream of ice all day, everyday. When the ice maker shuts down, I have to go out and buy ice and I'm picky about the brand and then if that's all there is, I'm not picky at all. Crappy ice is better than no ice. Ice tastes like the stuff in your freezer and fridge. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the technology of an ice maker in its own little compartment making ice 24/7, odor free, effortlessly. I've thought about getting my own personal ice maker for my sitting room, but then I'm afraid I'd never leave my couch. At least now I have to get up every so often and get more ice.

Well somehow there's a speech here about ice. Now if I just had a great title--"Ice, ice, baby" is all I can think of. Or how about "Cool facts about ice--pun intended"