Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Return of Son Alex

Son Alex has returned to Utah like the prodigal son after a summer in remote eastern Turkey. He spent the summer working on an archeological dig. He traveled from Salt Lake to Paris and then from Paris to Istanbul. After Istanbul, he traveled to his work site at a rural Turkish village. He saw a lot, learned a lot and it was no doubt a life altering experience for him. I was happy that he had the chance for this great life adventure, but I was more than a little happy to see him when he arrived back home to the protective arms of Salt Lake City’s Wasatch and Oquirrh mountains. I must say, that I was pretty excited to give him a fatherly hug for a son returned to the fold.

Alex is a smart fellow, good hearted and kind. During his boyhood years I endeavored to instill upon him the trait of being true to yourself; standing up for what you think is right despite being in the minority. I encouraged him not to go along with the crowd if he thought the crowd was wrong. I have tried to live by that principal even though it made me more than a little unpopular on occasions. I am pleased that Alex marches to his own drummer and does stands up for what he thinks is right. Sometimes, I have wanted Alex to do what I wanted him to do and when he didn’t, I was irritated.  But then as I thought about it,I would realize that he was doing what I had encouraged him to do, make his own thoughtful decisions in life.

We can encourage our children, help our children and try to protect our children, but they must follow their own path in life. It is nature’s way;  the young are meant to venture from the nest and find their own way. Hopefully, they will remember the old birds sitting alone on an empting bowl of mud and sticks thinking “I can’t believe they already hatched and flown the coop” and just hoping that the missing youngsters will drop back by sometimes with the odd worm or two for old dad or mom. (I know that is some kind of mixed bird metaphor but admit it, it was pretty good).

I love talking to Son Alex about history, politics and current events. He has a terrific knowledge of these things and he has a good take on things. When we are together, I find myself asking him many questions about historical issues, cultures and seemingly fairly obscure topics. His answers always provide me with food for thought and have on more than one occasion caused me to head to the library for more information.

I am proud of Son Alex, I love him and I am lucky to have him call me dad. Welcome home Son.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Didn't You Wake Me Up

When I do something stupid (a very rare occurrence unless you ask the Lovely Sharon and a lot of other people around me), it is discussed ad nauseam. For example, a couple months ago, I arrived at work with a shiny black leather slip on loafer on my left foot and a brown suede type shoe with shoe laces on my right foot. Admittedly, the match was not perfect. Some people, including every person at my office and Sharon, thought this was incredibly stupid. People came to my office just to see my feet. For a couple of days I took abuse for my fashion faux pas from all of my feet viewers. I accepted the abuse  without argument figuring it is only fair to be hammered for my own errors and stupidity. However, I sometimes get hammered for Sharon’s misdeeds. This is not fair and should be a cause for my indignant reaction. Consider the following:

My normal weekday schedule is to get up between 4:30 and 5:00 am.  I make a cup of coffee and drink it while I read my office email and various newspapers and news outlets (Salt Lake Tribune, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times etc.) online in my home office. My home office is in the Bud Cave which is in the lower level of our three story house. After about 45 minutes of online review, I take a shower in the Bud Cave bathroom, get dressed and head off to work. I generally leave around 6:30 or so for the office. (Be patient, this essay is going somewhere, I just have to paint a picture of the normal course of events at our house).

While all this is happening, Sharon is sleeping like a baby in the master bedroom on the main level of the house. She is oblivious to my rush of morning activity in the Bud Cave. I try to be very quiet when I leave, so as not to disturb her. (Damn I am nice). Unless, Sharon has some golf event, she generally gets up around 8:00.

Last week Sharon had tennis match scheduled for 9:00 am on Wednesday. She also had a golf team match scheduled for Thursday. The golf match was at the Ogden Country Club and she needed to leave our house around 7:00 am.

OK, the historical background is set.

At 6:30 am Wednesday morning, the day of the 9:00 am tennis match, I ascended from the Bud Cave to the kitchen, trying to be quiet as always. As I was in the kitchen, I was surprised to see Sharon wearing golf attire, her hair a little damp. It was obvious that she had arisen early, washed her hair and gotten dressed. I kissed her good morning and queried why she was up so early and why she was dressed in golf clothes since she had a 9:00 am tennis match. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. She thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday. She thought she had a golf match in Ogden.  She woke up at 5:30, (while I was busy down in the Bud Cave), showered, washed her hair and dressed. I thought I heard her moving around upstairs but wasn’t certain so I did not go upstairs to greet her on the morning. When I saw her in the kitchen she was harried as she thought she was running late to get to Ogden for golf.

Now realizing that this was Wednesday and not Thursday, she looked at me and said it was my fault this had happened. Incredulously, I asked “Why was it my fault?”

She responded with “If you would have come upstairs to tell me good morning at 5:30, you could have reminded me it was Wednesday and not Thursday and I could have slept for another couple of hours.

All of a sudden I got a headache trying to figure out why I should have awaken her at 5:30 to tell it was Wednesday and inform her she could sleep for another 2 ½ hours. Call me stupid but it never occurred to me that I should wake her up to tell her she could go back to sleep.

I left for work in a daze.

I am now planning, a surprise for her. On a day in the near future, when she has no morning activities, I am going to wake the Lovely Sharon up at 4:30 am to tell her she can go back to sleep for another 4 hours. Then with an evil smile on my face, I will head back down to the Bud Cave and read the online news.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lawyers

Lawyers, hate em or love em. I love em. Granted, I am one, but I do enjoy talking to lawyers, being around lawyers, and reading what lawyers have written. Many business men and women, religious leaders, news people, and fiction writers are trained lawyers. When referring to “trained” lawyers I am not referring to the fact that they don’t go to the bathroom on the rug or chew on a slipper or a couch. I mean they have gone to law school and may practice law or may be engaged in other professional pursuits.

Currently and historically, many of the Mormon general authorities have been lawyers. Many CEO’s of big business are lawyers. At least one big league  baseball manager, Tony La Russa was a lawyer.  Obviously, many politicians are lawyers. Like all professions, there are good lawyers and bad lawyers; shysters and people of high integrity. The vast majority of lawyers I interact with seem to be outstanding people.

I like that lawyers are interested in things. Today I sent an email to my partners telling them I had a 9 page article about LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate) which is a global interest rate reference used in many financing transactions. My email indicated that if they were interested in reading the Libor article, I would send it to them. I received five requests for the article. These five people either have no life, a bizarre sense of what is interesting, or are renaissance people. I like to think we are renaissance people.  As for me, I printed the article, read the article and finally put it in my briefcase to take home to the Lovely Sharon in case she is interested in the topic. (Hey you never know, she might consider my gift of the Libor article as very sweet and thoughtful).

Being married to a lawyer is not the easiest of things. I find myself having lawyer-like discussions with the Lovely Sharon. She makes a statement and I ask her for a clarification of what she means. If she uses a word or a phrase that is subject to more than one interpretation I find myself saying something like “that word means _______ to me. Is that what it means to you in the context of the message you are trying to convey?” Generally, her response to that question is a roll of her eyes and a retort of “What do you think?”

The problem with her response is now I have to figure out what her initial intent actually was and I also have to figure out what I thought her initial intent was. They may or may not be the same thing.  So then I have to figure out if her initial intent, and what I thought her initial intent was, are the same. If I conclude they are the same, then clarity has been brought to the situation. If I conclude they are not the same or I am unable to determine if they are the same, then I have to reconcile her actual intent, my thoughts as to what her intent was and then devise a process to determine what her actual intent was. This requires additional questions by me, an explanation to her by me about the uncertainty of what her intent actually was and request for further clarification of what message she actually was attempting to convey.

Generally, this results in further discussion, further analysis and sometimes further uncertainty. The conversation generally ends with the Lovely Sharon saying something like “Forget it, I will vacuum the living room myself.”

Oh well, we should strive for continued clarity

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Earrings and Hand Bags

I did not go into the office on Friday. I woke up around 4:45 am and spent a couple of hours reading and responding to office email and reviewing a contract for a client and then I was finished for the day. After 32 years of practicing law, I give myself a little breather on Friday’s. During the winter I am generally in Palm Desert, CA on Friday. From June through November 20th or so, I am in Utah but I generally don’t work more than a half a day on Friday.

My plan for this past Friday was to run a number of errands and then play in a golf game at 3:30. I planned on going to the bank, mailing some letters, going to Home Depot, going the Macy’s to buy some pants and going to the sporting goods store; Man Stuff.

Around 10:00 am I told the Lovely Sharon that I was heading out for my errands and that I would be back in time for golf. I told her that I thought I would do some ‘man’ stuff and give her some personal time for whatever she wanted to do. As I was just about to leave, the Lovely Sharon told me she would tag along with me. I responded by suggesting she might enjoy doing her own thing as my “man” stuff would not be all that fun for her. She wasn’t dissuaded and said she would just go with me.

We did go to Macy’s but I didn’t find what I was looking for. So I ended up waiting for the Lovely Sharon to look through about 800 pairs of earrings on the spindle display racks. She removed each pair from the rack, looked at them and then replaced them back on the rack. Even though she is quite adept at this process, It still takes quite awhile to go through 800 pairs. Then we walked down the mall to Dillard’s where we looked at another couple of hundred pairs of earrings and then we looked at purses. When I say we looked at purses, I mean we looked at every purse, handbag, tote etc. offered for sale by Dillard’s. They were big, little, leather, cloth, plastic. Some were on sale others were not. Every purse with a shoulder strap was tried on by the Lovely Sharon. That amounted to about 75 of them. After each one was slipped over her shoulder, she asked me how it looked. "Fine" I replied to each querry. I tried not to be obvious when I continued to look at my watch. For me looking at 75 purses with shoulder straps was like looking at cows at the State Fair; the first couple of cows are interesting but the next 50 cows seem to be redundant. At that point all you hear are moos and all you see are udders.

Once we had made the loop and looked at every bag in the store, I perked up a little and had high hopes that we would now be heading over to the sporting goods store. I wistfully looked in the direction of the door and started leaning in that direction. I was almost like a sprinter getting ready to come out of starting blocks. To my absolute horror, she started the loop again. She walked again through the very displays she had already dissected, like a biology teacher working on a frog. When I realized she was going for a second view, I leaned my head against a glass display case and moaned. It was painful, I mean really painful to see her start her loop walk again. She asked me if I was ok, and with all my strength, I was able to whisper that I was feeling a little dizzy but it would pass. I smiled and told her to take her time.

When she was finally done with the purse review (for the second time) we started to walk out of Dillard’s. I stayed close to her side as we walked through yet more earring cases, then through lingerie and finally through cosmetic’s. As we walked, I tried to use mental telepathy on her (“Don’t stop, keep walking, go directly to the car”). It worked; we finally made it back to car. When we arrived home, the Lovely Sharon said that she had enjoyed our outing. I said me too (and to be truthful, spending time with the Lovely Sharon is always worth it).

Oh by the way, I did make it to the Post Office.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hurricane Names

It is hurricane season again in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. I think one of the worst changes made in the name of political correctness was to change the hurricane naming procedure from naming all hurricanes after women to alternating names between women and men’s names. Think of the killer, devastating hurricanes of the past: Katrina, Camille, Agnes and Wilma. These monster storms sound frightening. “Hurricane Camille”. Doesn’t that name just conjure up images of howling winds, crashing seas, horizontal rain, and cows and mobile homes flying through the sky? You know the phrase, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. These female named storms sound like hell have no fury.

The current hurricane is “Hurricane Bill”. Oh please, Hurricane Bill? That sounds like Farmer Bob, Captain Jack, Captain Kangaroo, Yosemite Sam or Uncle Festus. Hurricane Bob sounds like our friend. “See you Mom, I will be back later, I am going over to Hurricane Bill’s house.” Your mom would respond with “OK honey, don’t be late, dinner’s at 5:00”. But tell your mom you are going over to Hurricane Camille’s house and she will undoubtedly say, “No way buster, you are staying home tonight”.

Hurricane Bill sounds like an old man sipping on tall rum drinks in the New Orleans’ French Quarter. Kind of a breezy smile and twinkling eyes, listening to Dixieland jazz.

I know, you might be thinking that there was Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Hugo, but face it, Hugo as in Hugo Boss, is in the fashion industry and Andrew, as in Andrew Lloyd Webber, wrote the song “Memories”. So these two hurricanes were not truly manly names but were androgynous storms, could be masculine, could be feminine.

Even the word “hurricane” (pronounced "her" a cane) makes reference to the female. The word is not "him" a cane.

Since our congress and administration are not spending a lot of time fixing the health care system but are spending a lot of time taking shots at each other and a lot of money on clunker cars, I suggest we contact them and tell them to change the hurricane naming procedure back to where it was. Maybe they will jump on this and spend some time doing meaningful work. Maybe there will be a consensus that this is a nice thing for bi-partisan cooperation. No, I am sure my fellow democrats will be frightened to appear politically incorrect not wanting to offend women, men, or transgender Americans and the republicans will not want to appear to be cooperating with a president who was born in Guam, the Philippines, Africa, Hawaii or all of the above. Maybe he was not born at all, he just showed up one day.

Ok, leave it as it is. I can hardly wait for Hurricane St. Francis of Assisi and Hurricane Mother Teresa.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Boss Revisited

A couple of days ago I wrote an entry called "The Boss". It generated a fair amount of response via email to me or in conversations. A few responses:

- Very funny reminds me of me and my husband (from Lyndee);
- Please tell Sharon I like Bounty paper towels better (from LaDonna)
- You must have a strong marriage if you can post that blog and still live at home (from Jeff);
- Man Up, don't let her tell you what to do (from Mark, a man whom, when I last asked him to play golf, declined by saying his wife wanted him home by 5:30);
- Very Funny (from Amy);
- We must be married to the same woman (from Bruce);

But maybe the best response was the comment left on the blog by the Lovely Sharon herself who wrote:

"Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks".

Oh, the Lovely Sharon, what a woman, the love of my life.

By the way, the Lovely Sharon shot her career round of golf yesterday at Hidden Valley Country Club, a one under par 71. Wow!!! Fantastic!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Boss

I have been married to the Lovely Sharon, for 5 ½ years. She is a quiet lady but over the last 7 years or so she seems to be a more outgoing person. Maybe it’s because I am such a loud mouth that she needs to fight for space in the conversation. Well anyway, even though I am the loudmouth and she is the quiet person of our relatively short marriage, she has emerged as the boss of the house, the boss of me, the boss of the sun and the planets that revolve around the sun. She is kind of like Eisenhower during World War II, the Supreme Allied Commander, or like an Ayatollah not only running the religious aspects of life, but the political, domestic and all other aspects of human existence. Examples:

The Wine Selection Process

Whenever I select a bottle of wine from our wine coolers and racks for consumption at dinner, after she looks at my bottle, she politely suggests that maybe she should select a bottle in place of my selection. I am convinced that if we had 100 identical bottles of wine, each of the same winery, year, variety and label, and I brought a bottle up for dinner, it would be the wrong bottle. Now, I don’t even try to pick a wine, I just have her go to the cooler and get the wine she deems appropriate. This saves me a trip to the basement.

The Parking Space Selection Process

I could drive into a parking lot with 10,000 empty parking spaces and if I would pick a spot to park she would say, “Why did you park here?”

If she is out of town and I am left to my own devices in Utah and decide to go somewhere, such as a book store, I find a parking space and then I call her on her cell phone and ask her “Is this space ok?” Unsurprisingly, sometimes the answer is “No”.

She has the uncanny ability to know that I am in the wrong parking space even if she is 900 miles away and cannot actually see the parking space. It’s amazing.

The Restaurant Selection Process

Finding a restaurant is always fun. I will ask her where she wants to eat. She always responds by saying, “Anywhere, you choose.”

This response does not really suggest that I will select a restaurant and we will go to that restaurant and partake of dinner. What it means is that I should name a laundry list of restaurants, each of which will be rejected in turn and then she will finally say, “What about (INSERT RESTAURANT NAME). “ I then respond “That sounds great” and then we go to that restaurant.

This little warm up procedure for dinner is kind of like batting practice before the game or hitting golf balls on the range before a round of golf. You are not actually going to dinner until this warm up is done.

A New Development

Last evening there was an interesting development. I asked the Lovely Sharon if she wanted wine for dinner. She responded in the affirmative. She said, “Go pick out a bottle.” I, being smart and experienced, responded with “Anything is good for me, why don’t you pick out something you would like.” She said she would get the wine. (See I am getting smarter figuring that I would save myself a useless trip to the basement. ) Without hesitation she said she would do so and accordingly I thought I had outfoxed her tonight.

She then asked me to get a roll of paper towels from the storage room in the basement. Suspiciously, I suggested that maybe she should select the roll of paper towels. She said “For heaven’s sake they are just paper towels, just pick one.”

With that said, I confidently departed for the storage room in search of the paper towels. I panicked a little when I saw there were two unopened 8 packs of white paper towels. I thought “Which one to open?” Then I remembered her words, “For heaven’s sake they are just paper towels, just pick one.”

So with fear subsiding, I opened an 8 pack, fondled several rolls and contemplated each roll until I found the perfect roll of paper towels. It felt good. It was new and bright white and just begging to be freed from its prison of the plastic 8 pack bag. Eager to be allowed to do the job it was born to do.

With more than a little excitement, I bounded up the stairs to present the carefully selected roll to her. I felt as excited as a dog bringing a newspaper to his master. I kind of waited around to be scratched behind my ears for a job well done. I was crestfallen when the Lovely Sharon, after analyzing the roll I had lovingly brought to her, said:

“Why did you bring this roll? I don’t like Bounty paper towels, I like Viva paper towels.”

I responded with “What’s the difference?”

Looking incredulously at me, the Lovely Sharon boldly asserted that the Bounty paper towels felt like paper.

Sparring back, I retorted “Wasn’t that the point in a paper towel? Its paper, it’s even called a ‘paper towel’.”

She then got me with the knock out punch – “The Viva paper towels feel like cloth, take this Bounty roll back and get me a Viva roll.”

Like a bad dog with my tail between my legs, I took the Bounty roll back and brought up a roll of Viva paper towels.

Next time I will be prepared, no more paper towel tricks, I will head straight to Viva towels.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Tidbits

It was a glorious weekend starting Friday when the Lovely Sharon and I drove to Payson, Utah to play the Gladstan Golf Course. This was my first time on the course and I really enjoyed it. Apparently, the back nine has been completely redone and it was difficult and extremely interesting. Shots down hills, up hills and over canyons. On the 14th hole, you needed to carry your tee shot about 200 yards over a canyon. I carried the canyon but wouldn’t you know it, there was a bunker in the landing zone and my ball found the bunker. The weather was great and we had a wonderful time. The LOvely Sharon shot a 35 on the front nine. Her back nine was not as good as she lost a couple of balls as we were trying to figure out where to aim. I played my normal pathetic game but I had a few good holes. We saw a few deer and other critters. If you get a chance to play the course, it is worth doing so.

Friday night I knocked over a glass of red wine on my beige home office carpet. It gave the Lovely Sharon something to do for about 45 minutes as she diligently worked to get the red out. I started to help but she "encouraged" me to get out of the way. The word "encouraged" may not be an accurate description but it is nice way to describe her command. I was mad at myself for being so clumsy, for making a mess and for wasting a fine glass of Biale’s Black Chicken, Red Zinfandel, but Sharon took it all in stride and never criticized me. I owe her one.

Saturday I did yard work for several hours and then ran some errands. Saturday night, 12 of us went to the Salt Lake Bees, AAA baseball game. I have wanted to go to a Bees game for about three years and finally did so. Although the Bees got killed by Memphis, I could not have enjoyed myself more. The whole evening was coordinated by Barry and Nanette and I am glad they took the time and effort to arrange things for us. I had a jumbo hot dog that was about the size of a German Sheppard dog’s front leg. In retrospect, I hope it was a hot dog. It was covered with peppers and onions and a cheese sauce, none of which I should be eating (see previous Blog Item – “Dr. Appointments”). Just to top things off, I added some ketchup and mustard to the mix. I am please to report, that I spilled none of it on myself.

Sunday, our friends Marsha and Rob, joined us for golf at Hidden Valley. The Lovely Sharon shot 74 which included a bogey, a double bogey and a birdie and 15 pars. Rob is a very good payer and hits the ball forever. I had not played with Marsha for a year or so and her improvement was significant since the last time we played. As normal I had a few pars and a bunch of uglies, The weather was blue sky and wonderful temperatures. It was a lovely day.

Back to work for me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dr. Appointments

Unbelievably its already August. It seems like I have not done much this summer. I have spent a lot of time at doctors' appointments. I have hit the trifecta: High blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. I am starting to deal with them all and my bathroom cupboard its starting to look like an old man's, heck I'm 56 so I guess I am starting to become an old man.

With all the insurance co-pays I have had to pay, I could have bought a ticket to Paris. If I were to have gone to Paris, the City of Light, the City of Love, I could have treated my ailments with red wine. I have been reading lately about how the French are in better health than Americans because of the red wine in their diet.

I think I will try that on my wife, "Sweetheart, I am feeling a little under the weather, could you please bring me a nice glass of red Zinfandel, and oh by the way, also bring me a couple of croissant's and a little pate." It sounds much better that a handfull of multi colored pills of various sizes. I keep forgetting what the pills are suppose to do so I had my wife write the ailment on the corresponding pill bottle with a blue sharpie. I am not certain what the malaria pills are for but what the heck, I have been watching a lot of jungle exploration tv shows lately, so they may come in handy.

Today I have a test that you have after you turn 50 (its my first), where you drink a four liters of an unpleaseant liquid the day before the test and then you are put to sleep (no, not like a dog is put to sleep) while the doctor does his exploration. I was called by the doctor's secretary yesterday with additional instructions for the procedure including an instruction to wear comfortable shoes. This, I must say, surprised me. Although I have never had this procedure done before, I assumed I would be lying face down on some sort of table. I did not anticpate I would be walking around the office with the doctor trailing me with some type of android camera device. The doctor who will be in charge of this Journey to the Center of the Earth type of procedure, is a friend of mine who I see weekly at the golf course. I am not certain I want to shake his hand next time I see him at the course. I know for certain that I won't be turning my back to him.

Well I best be signing off and to each of you, I wish good health and good fortune.