instagram update | march and april

05/8/2016

Not as delayed as last time. As always, there are cats and coffee. Plus some (sort of) kosher baked goods and it was primary day here in NYC, as you may have heard. The weather started cooperating a little more, but not as much as one would like, and I’ve begun experimenting with an antique film camera that I found at a tag sale, but since that requires film, you’ll have to wait even longer for anything other than a picture of the actual camera (so far I’ve shot 2 out of the 3 rolls of film I bought, and so I’m looking for something interesting to use the last 12 shots on before I send everything in together to get them processed).

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june instagram roundup

07/8/2015

non subway-project subway photos, fireworks, the high line, and pride month. It was June.

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inauguration day | 365:021

01/21/2013

Watching the inauguration on TV today provided me with a bit of inspiration. I admit that I didn’t wear this button quite as much as I did during the 2008 election, but I still voted for Obama, and I’d vote for him again if I had the chance.

IMG_0561

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Unfamiliar Fishes

08/2/2012

Unfamiliar FishesUnfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

As always, Sarah Vowell brings a unique and personal perspective to some overlooked areas of American history. I can’t say that I loved this as much as some of her earlier endeavors, but only because (as a north easterner), I think I have more context to place works such as Partly-Cloudy Patriot and Assassination Vacation. Nonetheless, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and Vowell’s unique voice brings some entertaining commentary to what is, in actuality, the fairly horrible history of our treatment of the Hawaiian people.

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so…that happened

05/12/2012

Apologies, but I need to have a little digression from the photography, and while I’ve posted a few links on twitter and Facebook, I have too many thoughts to get out.

Approximately three years ago, I got laid off from my job as a lawyer at a big new york firm. At the time, I was devastated, because I LOVED my job. Sure, it had its stresses and its late hours and its…personalities, but by and large, I liked what I did and I was good at it. The story at the time was that, since I wasn’t going to make partner, it was time for me to leave. In a recession. As I understood it at the time, they were trying to avoid getting tarred in the legal press for mass layoffs, so they started with the most senior associates and tried to tie it to ‘other’ explanations. The decision was made by someone (or someones) in upper management without consultation with the team I actually worked with, as the partners I was actively working on deals with had to find out from me that I had been canned. That made things a bit…awkward, particularly given that one partner had a ‘state of the relationship’ meeting with the GC at one client only a day earlier, where the GC apparently spent time talking about how glad she was that I was back on the team after returning from overseas.

I spent two years unemployed, looking for a job. Happily, about a year ago I started working again at an ‘alternative’ legal services firm that seconds its employees full time to companies, so I spend my days doing interesting work up in Stamford at a big multi-national company.

In the past few weeks, the firm that laid me off, Dewey & LeBoeuf, has been in the news quite a bit. Because they’re imploding in a spectacular fashion. On the front page of the New York Times. From what has been reported, as well as what I’ve heard from a few former colleagues that I remain in touch with (who have all managed to find new firms, thankfully), it’s largely due to gross mismanagement on the part of the post-merger firm.

Some background. I worked for Dewey Ballantine, which merged with LeBoeuf Lamb in 2007. As the story went at the time, Dewey had a bunch of debt but a stellar name, and LeBoeuf had solid financials. Even though the Dewey name came first in the post-merger firm, that was due to a quirk of Thomas E. Dewey’s estate requirements, and the merger was really a takeover by LeBoeuf – as evidenced by the fact that the post-merger leadership was headed by the LeBoeuf team.

So – to the current day. In order to attract some top talent from other firms, the leadership handed out a few payment guarantees. A few of these things are typical at any firm, but they should be limited because they otherwise undercut the entire nature of a partnership structure. But the vaunted, fiscally conservative post-merger management apparently decided to start handing out these guarantees left and right, including to incumbent partners. When they did their unusual bond offering in 2010, they didn’t disclose this. They apparently DID disclose that they ‘eliminated’ 300 lawyers post-merger, so their attempts at obfuscation discussed above were clearly just that. The Dewey debt pre-merger pales in comparison to what was apparently run up in the post-merger environment. As the story has been reported, none of the partnership were informed of the guarantees until last October, at which point there was mutiny. The Manhattan DA is apparently investigating the leadership to see if they did anything criminal.

What’s come out in the press is that they gave out 100 of these guarantees, then ran out of money to pay them as the economy took time to recover and more and more clients got stingier with external legal spend. So guarantee-less partners stopped getting paid altogether. Those partners, obviously, were going to look for any reasonable exit plan, creating a vicious cycle where the firm had less and less income (because a law firm has no ‘assets’ other than its legal talent). Earlier this year, FedEx apparently cut them off and the cafeteria stopped accepting the in-house payment system. And as partners start leaving, the chances that their clients (who move with them) will continue to pay outstanding bills to the old firm drops dramatically (sure, they have an obligation to pay, but they’ll focus on the new firm that they want new work from).

I’m torn between extreme sadness for a 100-year reputation that I helped contribute to for a few years, and the schadenfreude that comes from seeing the people who decided that I was an expendable resource that they could brag to investors about cutting get hoisted on their own petard. Mostly sadness. And horror at watching the slow-motion train wreck wreaking havoc on peoples’ lives (particularly the staff) because a few people were so freaking greedy.

What a shame. I now count myself lucky because at least I got some severance and COBRA coverage during my unemployment. In any event, I’m not spilling any secrets at this point, given how much of this has been written about in the press, but I just felt the need to get my thoughts down on (virtual) paper.

I’m also starting to feel a little weird, as I moved to Dewey from Thelen Reid & Priest, which went bankrupt about 3 years after I left there as well. My resume is starting to look like a graveyard.

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readings on the 4th of july: Washington’s letter to the hebrew congregation in Newport

07/4/2011

I haven’t done this in a few years, having moved this blog towards less political stuff and towards more pictures of cats and farm animals, but I was thinking about Washington’s letter recently, in light of all of the recent (and not so recent) claims as to the idea that our Founding Fathers (who were not a monolithic group by any means) were somehow founding the US as a ‘Christian Nation’. The idea is completely ridiculous on its face, what with the plain text of the First Amendment, but sometimes a refresher with actual evidence is nice. So here is a letter that George Washington wrote to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island:

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.

Gentlemen,

While I receive with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

it would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Sure, there are a load of inherent contradictions, not the least of which involving the fact that there were plenty of people (slaves, women) who were not citizens at all, and obviously were not thought of as equal. But again, the ideals of the founders, even if not always lived up to, were a road map toward a more perfect and equal society, and we still struggle and strive to reach that ideal today.

I particularly like his dis of “tolerance” – that to tolerate something’s existence necessarily implies the majority group giving permission for the minority group to exist, when the minority group doesn’t ‘need’ to be tolerated because it has the inherent right to exist in the first place.

Happy Independence Day everyone.

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the backlash

10/25/2010

The BacklashThe Backlash by Will Bunch

An interesting investigation of some of the players in the right wing noise machine, along with some conversations with folks on the ground who have gotten involved in the tea party movement. But I found two things that were bothersome. First, it jumped around too much – activists are introduced for a few pages, and then never heard from again, while others are threaded throughout the book. Second, Bunch has this really annoying habit of writing in the 2nd person, but only half the time (otherwise it’s 3rd person). I found this completely distracting and irritating. “I’m” not driving anywhere. Bunch is. And he should just say that, rather than ascribing what was obviously his reaction to certain things to the reader. Even where I agreed in principle with his thoughts, I don’t like having that “put” on me. so…eh.

My interest in this book can also be measured by the fact that it was only 336 pages long, and it took me 11 days to read it. I was worried that I wasn’t going to finish before it expired (I borrowed the e-book from the Brooklyn Public Library), and found myself skimming over things, even though I didn’t intend to. Not quite an engaging/engrossing read.

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at least i got a cool picture out of the deal

09/30/2010

It’s incredibly dreary and rainy today, which is the perfect excuse for an unemployed person such as myself to not leave my apartment for the entire day. Except, lucky me, I had jury duty down at the federal courthouse. Again. So I had to pack myself onto a rush hour train downtown this morning with everyone and their dripping umbrellas.

You know what happens next. 15 minutes after the start time, the clerk comes in, thanks all of us for our service, and informs us that the case we were supposed to be in the pool for settled late last night, so we can all go home. And, as a bonus, we’re done with jury service, even though they could have kept us on the hook for another week of pool-sitting waiting for another trial.

This was actually great, in that (as I heard on NPR this morning) they’re apparently picking a jury for a large terrorism case next week. So, all-in-all, not a terrible way to do jury service – a half-day on Monday and 15 minutes on Thursday. and I’m done for 4-6 years. It just would have been nice to have not had Monday and Thursday be the rainiest days of the week.

But I got a cool picture as I was leaving so…that’s something.

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I voted!

11/4/2008

I voted. It was really easy. And you should vote too!!!!

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VOTE TOMORROW!!!

11/3/2008

OK people.  One day left.

VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE

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