Friday, March 28, 2008

Random Notes

I am now 15 months and 110 entries into this blog.

Sometimes interesting things happen that seem blog-worthy, but they don't merit their own post. Sometimes they might actually BE blog-worthy, IF I gave them a shot.
Here are a few things.......

I am speaking at career day at Rebecca's high school next Friday. I have spoken to students before, and I like to show them the New York Law Journal, to demonstrate the wide variety of legal careers. I started hoarding back issues, but I knew I would not have enough. So, I called the Law Journal circulation department, told them what I was doing, and asked if they could send me some back issues. They agreed to send me 25 back issues. When I opened the box, I had 25 copies of a recent issue where the headline was "Lawyer Disbarred For a Second Time"!!!

I haven't been talking much about law practice lately, mostly because I have been too busy DOING it. Most "cases" are rooted in "problems" of some sort, and most problems have to do with people. I've had quite a few "dysfunctional family feud" cases lately. It's a challenge to remain detached and do my job, but after 25 years I see that detached is the only way. Would it be wrong for me to put up the following sign in my office......."If you have problems with everyone you have to deal with in your life, have you ever considered that the problem is YOU?"?

I've had Netflix for about two months now. I really enjoy it. If you are not familiar with this, you pay a flat monthly fee (my plan is about $16/mo). They send you 3 DVD's, which you can keep as long as you like. When you are done with one, you mail it back in a pre-paid envelope, and they mail you the next DVD on your prioritized queue. It is very easy to add movies to your queue, and very easy to change the order. When you mail one back, you get your next one 2 days later. It is very easy to search for movies, and you can search by actor, director, genre, and many other ways. All the movies have little synopses, which is very helpful. I try to keep 3 good ones here at all times, with something for everybody. This weekend I am looking forward to watching "August Rush" with Rebecca, a movie she saw in the theatre and loved. One great fringe benefit, for me anyway, is Netflix has drastically cut down on my TV watching. Of course, my TV watching consisted primarily of channel surfing. Watching a good movie, for a block of time, just feels.....healthier.

One thing I HAVE been watching on TV is the NCAA college basketball tournament. Not every game, but enough to make an observation about a particular player. Stephen Curry, a guard for Davidson, is the best college player I have seen in a long time. If you get a chance to watch him play, don't miss it.

One thing about blogging, I have new found respect for anyone who writes a regular column. My virtual hat off to all column writers and bloggers. Even when I don't agree with you, at least you are saying it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Barack Follows My Advice - Will It Be Enough?

The morning after I suggested that Barack HAD to address the Pastor Wright problem in a direct way, it was announced he was preparing a major address. The next day he gave "the speech on race". Here's a link to it

Under the circumstances, it was as good as anyone could have done. That speech was perfectly written and sincerely delivered. Time will tell whether it will be enough. His speeches accentuate the boobishness of our current President. McCain will be no match for him on form. If it comes down to substance, and the voters make their decisions that way, well, that's the way it should be.

Here's what Barack should do next: He's got to put some "meat on the bones" and talk in SPECIFICS on some of the issues. We've all heard about the need for change, and I suspect most Americans agree.....what we've got has been a disaster. Barack will be able to talk specifics about issues, and he MUST start doing this. It fits his style to do it, and he should not be afraid to do it. When he talks, he's like Einstein compared to Bush, or McCain for that matter.

I he saving it for the general election? Are he and Hillary too similar to talk about these things now? Is she too good a speaker (she IS good too) for him to get specific with?

He can talk about the war, and not in platitudes, not in generalities. I dare say he can even state he understood the thinking behind it....the need to confront terrorists, and state specifically how he would do that.

He can talk in some detail about the mortgage crisis. He should talk in a way that we would know he would be "on it" when the time came.

He can talk about the importance of the Supreme Court. Harvard Law Review is not a lightweight credential, and the importance of HIS Presidency on the future of the Court should be on the table.

Got a plan for health insurance? Let's hear something specific, and some proof that the plan will not cause a tax increase. How will it work, actually.

This Pastor Wright thing was not the way Barack drew it up, but it may be the way he breaks through to moving beyond the generalities and telling us all why he will be the best President. Being different is not enough. If he's really got the goods, he's got to get positive and show it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thoughts on Barack

Since I've been calling Senator Clinton "Hillary", I have decided to be even handed and fair and refer to Senator Obama as "Barack".

The first time I heard the full Reverend Wright recordings I was driving back from court, listening to Rush Limbaugh. Now, to all my liberal friends, I urge you not to commit "guilt by association" and condemn me for listening to Rush. I've gone on record as saying you have to leave your brain at the door to listen to Rush, or Sean Hannity. Here's a link to the best of Reverend Wright (incidentally, transcripts do not do it justice, these should be seen and heard)

In case you were wondering, that silence you have noticed lately is Hillary NOT talking about this. Mr. Clinton is muzzled too. This was the miracle Hill & Bill have prayed for. She hasn't been able to touch him. Every attack has backfired. This is the unforced error they needed, and they are letting Barack twist in the wind.

The other silence is McCain saying zero about this.....for now. My guess is they are pulling for wounded Barack to fight his way to the nomination, so they can Willie Horton their way into the White House. Remember this? Will that work? Well, if you want the Democrats to win, it ain't gonna help.

Barack's response to all of this has been tentative and unconvincing. Here's a column that says it well

Media coverage on the Pastor Wright story has been surprisingly light. You don't think so? Ask yourself this question.....How would the coverage have been if ANY Republican candidate had attended a church for 20 years where the leader had said racist, incendiary, anti-American things? He might get the nomination, but the media would beat the drums and ensure his defeat in the general election.

One place where this story will not be lightly covered.....the Democratic convention. Particularly among the Super Delegates. The real politicians. The ones who know what it takes to get elected, or heaven forbid, be.......UN-ELECTABLE.

How ironic, if Barack becomes viewed by his own party as un-electable, and not because of his race. He'll be perceived as un-electable because the majority of Americans will know that a fair standard has been applied, and that a real LEADER, a UNITER of ALL Americans, would NOT have stayed with this Pastor.

Oh, and Barack, you have one way to salvage this thing. CONDEMN your Pastor's words as WRONG, as NOT your beliefs, and say it like you believe it.

Keep saying he's your embarassing uncle, and the real embarassment will begin.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Weekend With Manny Part 4

This is the last installment of "Weekend With Manny"......I promise.

We went back to the Pompano casino, with a game plan of simulcasting/poker, buffet dinner, then simulcasting/poker. Actually, I didn't play poker before dinner, we bet on simulcast horse racing from all over the country. I insisted that Manny find a nice seat, because I suspected if I didn't remind him to do this, he'd stand the whole time. I think Manny thought we'd eat dinner at around 5, but we lost track of time and didn't think of it till 7. I hit two nice winners at the Meadowlands (something cool about betting a New Jersey track in Florida), and was ahead a few dollars.

We walked over to the buffet and there was a long line.

"Oh shit", my Daddy said.
"Don't worry Dad, it's a buffet, it will move fast because people want to eat and get back to gambling."

I saw people walking by with plates piled high with shrimps, crablegs, and other "high end buffet" stuff. The wait wasn't too bad, and the way it works pay, you are admitted, and you eat as much as you want. It's self-serve, except a waitress brings you drinks and coffee. Our entrance tab came to $54.

"Oh shit", my Daddy said.
"Don't worry Dad. First of all, I'm on vacation. Second, I'm ahead exactly $54 from horse racing. Third, let's enjoy some good food."

We split up to load our plates. I loaded up with shrimps and cocktail sauce. Also some brisket, some lasagna, and some fresh turkey with cranberries. And some salad.

I waited awhile for Manny to return, and started eating.

He then came over, and sat down with what looked like a cup of consomme.

I said, "What the fuck is that? A $54 cup of consomme?"

After he stopped laughing, and after I stopped laughing, he explained that he likes to check everything out first, have a cup of soup and THEN get his food. Who could argue?

He didn't eat that much, but then I realized why. He was saving room for desert. Fact is, the desert choice was extensive. While I picked at my rice pudding, he came back loaded with an impressive variety of cakes and pies. When he was almost done, we saw a woman walk by with an ice cream cone. Manny said "That looks good. I'd like to have an ice cream cone."
"So get one."
"I didn't see any."
"Dad, that lady had an ice cream cone, so they have it. You want me to get you one?"
"Yeah, vanilla.....with the kind of cone she had."
I brought back two ice cream cones. I can't remember ever enjoying one so much.

After that, I played poker for a few hours. Manny played horses, and assured me he was "taking it easy", and I believed him. He came over to the poker tables at around 11:30, and it wasn't busy, so nobody had a problem with him hanging out and watching. When it's busy that's frowned upon. I know he got a kick out of watching me play poker with "MEN", and I got a kick out of watching him watch. He hung out with me till about 1 AM. We drove home and reviewed the rules of the game he had just watched for two hours (Omaha hi-lo 8 or better). He had a pretty good idea, and we also reviewed some of the better hands. He really liked it when I stuck it to a nasty guy across the table and took down a big pot. I wasn't sure at the time if he had noticed that, but he had. He commented "That guy was a prick, everyone at the table was happy when you beat him."

We got home at 1:30!!!! I think we both felt like teenagers.

Next morning....what to do for breakfast....
I knew....."Pop, we're going to John G's, the place that Joan was raving about."
"But we don't know how to get there."
I just looked at him.
He said, "I guess you'll find out"

We had a great breakfast at John G's Great food, good coffee, right on the ocean.

Back at the ranch, we rested till it was time for me to go. As you may recall, I finished the weekend by flying home during the Super Bowl.

Start to finish, it was a weekend that will be hard to beat.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Weekend With Manny Part 3

After my mechanical triumph I told Manny I'd like to relax and read by the pool. I had never been to the Century Village pool, so I asked him to either come with me or show me where it was. Turns out there are about five pools in Century Village, a main pool and four "satellites". He recommended the nearest satellite pool, so off we went.

On the way there we met one of his neighbors. The conversation went like this.....

Manny: "Lucille, this is my son Barry."
Lucille: "The horse racing guy?"
Manny: "No, my other son."
Lucille: "Oh, nice to meet you."

A little background is in order. My brother, Brian Seidel, has been a harness racing trainer and driver for the past 30 years. I know, all across the Midwest my blog readers are thinking, "What kind of career is this for a Jewish boy from Queens?" It's not the usual, that's for sure. Here are some harness racing pictures from my archives.........

Picture on the left is Brian's first win as a trainer. Left to right is Manny, Brian, driver Ron Battoni and me. The horse was named "Master Vilas". He was blind in his left eye and raced with a special covering, which can be seen in the picture.

Picture on the right is a horse named Fly Fly Elsie, with Brian driving. In the photo, from the left is Brian's friend Eddie, Brian and Manny. I had put together an ownership group for Fly Fly Elsie, and she won quite a few races.

At the pool Manny introduced me to another acquaintance....

Manny: "Max, this is my son Barry."
Max: "The harness driver?"
Manny: "No, my other son."
Max: "Oh."

After awhile we walked back to the apartment and ran into another neighbor, Walter...

Manny: "Walter, this is my son Barry."
Walter (to me): "Driven any winners lately?"
Barry: "Nah, that's his other son."
Walter: "Oh."

Upstairs I made some sandwiches for us. As we sat down I said, "I'm enjoying this."


"No, being the other son. It's......different. I kinda like it."

Manny said, "Are you sure? I mean, you know how proud I am of you, I just have more opportunities to talk about Brian because people find it interesting."

"Dad, it's totally great. Actually, I'm looking forward to telling Brian about it."
We both laughed till we were coughing.

Then we made our plan for the rest of the day. He wanted to go back to the buffet at Pompano for dinner, followed by more simulcasting and poker. I had one small addition.....we should do simulcasting and poker before dinner too!

Next: My Weekend With Manny Part 4......Buffet dinner and late night at the casino.....

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Weekend With Manny Part 2

Just prior to going to bed on night one, Joan made the shocking discovery that "the refrigerator light is out....I'll have to call someone to fix it."

Manny was in his pajamas, but said "I'll fix it tomorrow."
Joan said, "I'll have to call someone."
Manny said "I can fix it, but it will have to be tomorrow."
Joan said, "OK".

I was up first the next morning. The fridge light was still out. Joan was up next, went to the refrigerator, and said "I'll have to call someone to fix this."
When Manny came into the kitchen, she said to him, "The light in the refigerator is out, I'll call someone today."

I was expecting him to blow up, but he said nothing. I felt like blowing up, but instead I said, "I'm sure I can fix that." I knew that ACTION was required, so without much ado I placed the contents of the top two shelves on the counter, and quickly removed the top two shelves so I could assess the situation. Manny was amazed at my assertiveness and said "What are you doing?"

My answer shocked him even more....I said "Have you got any tools?"

Putting things in perspective......Manny is pretty handy. However, my main recollections of Dad fixing things involve cursing and nervousness. I hated being around that, especially since I have those tendencies too (genetic? or learned?). I always shied away from any "do it yourself" work. I've often noted my strength area when it comes to repairs is "yellow pages". That being said, I have gained SOME experience and confidence at minor repairs. I take a calm, studied approach, and I know my limitations. Refrigerator light (with cover over the bulb) is in my jurisdiction. Unbeknownst to my hosts I had recently removed "cover of oven light" (a much BIGGER job) at home.

Manny went to get his tools, while Joan said "I'll call someone, you don't need to do this."

But I DID need to do it.

Manny had a big tool kit, but he did not have the adjustable wrench I needed to remove the grating over the bulb. However, he did have my favorite tool, the vice grip. I took it from the box and said "This'll work."
Manny said, "Whoa pal, you sure you know what you're doing?"
Joan said "I really should just call someone."
But they could not stop me, I was in the zone.

The vice grip enabled me to remove the two nuts and take off the cover. The bulb unscrewed and I handed it to Joan and said...."We need one of these." She silently went into the bedroom and brought me the exact bulb.

Neither of them knew how excited I was, and when I screwed the bulb in and it worked I screamed.........."LIGHT!!!!! I HAVE MADE LIGHT!!!!!!!!"

Then, without a word, I screwed the cover back on, put the two shelves back, and put all the food back in the fridge.

Manny then said, "Son, I'm so proud of you. Not because you fixed it, but because you were so calm. It's like you are.....mature."

Joan said, "You guys want scrambled eggs today?" Weekend With Manny Part 3.