Procrastination (But I Digress)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Bus

I just couldn't get out of bed yesterday. I don't know why--I had a lot of work to do--deadlines looming. I didn't have court until the afternoon, but still a lot of work in the morning. I had come in on the weekend and prepared a detailed list of what I had to do--can't get any easier than that, but still I am the queen of procrastination. [I even bought a bag of potato chips, but I think I forgot about them.]

Anyway, finally I was up and into my day and checking things off my list and I went to court in the afternoon. I was not early as usual, only this time I could not find a parking place to save my life. I ended up parking six blocks away. There are a lot of hills in downtown Los Angeles--ugh.
And of course, I only had ten minutes to make the hike. So off I raced to court and the clerk was late so I was on time and the other side didn't show up so I didn't really have any work to do once I was there and I was done.

I needed to drop something at the other courthouse about eight blocks away. So it was either, hike six blocks, get my car, find another parking place and walk to the court from there or save the gas, walk up hill eight blocks, consoling myself that it would be down hill going back to my car. I walked. Ouch were my feet hurting. So I dropped off and picked up what I needed from the other courthouse and started back. Inexplicably it was up hill back to my car.

I was trying to gage the lights to cross at the best times, choosing which way to cross by which light was the closest to green. I did have to stop and just as the light was turning green for me to walk, a horn honked. There are lots of horns downtown, so I'm not sure why I looked, but I did. There was a bus barrelling right toward me--the bus driver was holding out his hand to tell me to stop and not cross. I was kind of bored with all that walking, so I hadn't yet put my foot in the street, but my momentum was leaning toward the road and I stopped just in time to feel the woosh of the bus speed past me. I waited another moment or two before crossing the street and I thought, wow, I would have bounced off that bus like a feather and here it was so hard to get my heavy old self out of bed this morning.

It's all a matter of perspective. Funny, it was easy to get out of bed this morning--I even went to the gym.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


We are having an election in California on June 3rd. I am going to be an inspector again (which is a glorified term for the person who has to pick up all the supplies and set up all the voting booths). When the county calls to give me information or to check on me, they leave the message for "Inspector Van Houten" Doesn't that sound cool!

As I rearrange my calender and work to keep the entire day free of court appearances and rush projects, I must re-examine why am I taking a whole day away from my practice to basically volunteer at the elections (we get paid a whopping $100, not even half of my hourly billing rate). Sure, I like being the captain so to speak, being in charge. Sure, I think elections are very important and I want to do my part to make them run smoothly. But I keep going back to when I was in my early twenties and they wouldn't let me vote. They said that I wasn't registered, even though I had registered and voted in every election. Apparently when I moved, I didn't get notified about my correct polling place. I had no idea where to go and no one would tell me--they just said, no, you can't vote. I was so furious. Now, I know that there is a county phone number to call to find the proper polling place and a method to vote provisionally if someone moves so that their vote will count. The person at the polling place didn't know what they were doing. So I am here to vow that will never happen on my watch.

Then I made a mistake at the last election. It was a primary and if you are undeclared in a particular party, you must first fill in the circle to declare your party and then you can vote. Way at the bottem of the box of supplies that I never had time to go through was a graphic showing the voter where to fill in the circle. I didn't completely unpack until later in the day and a voter came back after voting in the morning to complain that no one had told him to fill in that circle--he wanted his ballot back, because it wouldn't count. It was impossible for me to get his ballot and a provisional ballot also would not help, because he had already signed the book. There was nothing I could do. This lapse of competency (it really was my fault) makes me again question, why am I doing this?

Hillary lost Guam by seven votes. Seven. In Toastmasters we have a world champion speaker who says that he never learned anything by winning, only by losing did he learn to do something better. So hopefully my lapse in competency will teach me to be a better inspector. When races are so close, it is important that every vote is counted properly. Inspector Van Houten, reporting for duty.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I am really enjoying the series Dexter. There are a few things that are slightly uneven, but all in all it is a very interesting show. If someone had told me that I would like Dexter and had described the premise (a serial killer who only kills bad people), I would have politely laughed and said, probably not. Dexter is a sociopath--make no mistake, but it is human nature to atribute humanity to other human beings. The character seems normal, but as viewers we are allowed into the internal dialog to hear just how hard he works to appear normal. It is like watching a program about some one who is autistic. From an entertainment standpoint we want "Rainman" to connect with another human, but the logical part of my brain says not so fast and loose with the facts. Last night on the episode of Dexter, he kissed his sister, goodnight. Ok, she was supposed to be asleep, but still--alarm bells went off in my head--no way, completely out of character. This guy can bearly carry on a normal conversation, much less show the slightest emotion. Tenderness is forced for public display of normalacy only. It turned out to be a trick--wow. He even fooled someone who knew him really well.

I know, I watch too much tv.