Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogging about Legal Matters

I've been reading lately about ways to be a better lawyer. I had assumed that improvement would be simple for a new attorney; every new day would be an improvement on yesterday's ignorance.

Well, apparently there is more to improving than the passage of time.

Here are some of the suggestions for improving as a solo attorney:
1. Regular contact with clients. Write notes to them, call them often, and invite them over for long games of cribbage (preferably not during the business day, but don't rule out the possibility of billing them at the standard hourly rate).
2. Go Paperless. Scan every document, label files well, have a good back-up system, shred all hard copies, and spend leisurely afternoons at the lake because of all the time I will save not having to sift through endless paper files.
3. Create a blog on which to write about legal matters. Of course, not confidential client information, but non-confidential, non-client legal matters.

It's this third suggestion that has piqued my curiosity. I already blog right here. This blog is about one of my passions. It's relatively easy to write about a passion. But what might I blog about if I start a legal blog?

These "suggestors" for solo attorney improvements were light on explaining what legal topics, outside past stories about crazy clients, that might be interesting enough that people would actually want to read about.

Here's one idea:
I have found myself dealing with several grandparent custody issues. These are tricky. Grandparents usually seek custody of a grandchild when their own child is not parenting well or is unable to parent. Recently, I've been researching MN's presumption that a natural parent should have custody of their child rather than a third party, often a grandparent. It sounds like a great presumption. However, it is not a great presumption if the natural parent is unfit and the grandparents are fit. Getting over the natural parent presumption is not a slam dunk, even if common sense says grandparents should have the child.

So, a blog about legal matters. Technical enough so that other attorneys would read it and not seek my disbarment, yet practical and readable enough so that a non-attorney would benefit and enjoy their time reading it.

I'm open to suggestions. How about a blog title?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just an Update

Thursday evening, I started a run on the treadmill but had to stop at 24 minutes as a good friend drove off our driveway. We pulled her out, but I was unable to get the rest of the run in.

Last night, during our first soccer game, one of our players, Sharri, got hit in the chest with a soccer ball. It knocked her down and sent her to the hospital. She fractured a rib but as far as I know, she's fine and desirous to play next week.

During the second game, I played defense. It was a lot of fun. Two brothers from Lebanon dominated the game. Fortunately, I was on their team.

At home, we stayed up with our friends from Iowa, Leah and Elisabeth, drinking wine and eating cheese until 2am. Lots of stories from Cono, the boarding school where we used to live and work.

Marty and Leah started talking about doing Trail Mix again this April.

Two things I am not doing enough of:
1. Running
2. Studying for the WI Bar exam

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Argument from Potential

Marty found this video on youtube tonight. Absolutely incredible. The argument from potential is a strong philosophical argument against abortion.

This is a strong practical argument against abortion:

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

We've been waiting for weeks.
Mo Willems in St. Paul at the Red Balloon children's bookstore.

He was very entertaining and funny. He read his new book "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed" and "I'm Going to Play Outside."

One child asked him where he gets his ideas for his books. Mo answered that he gets his ideas from a box that creates a piece of paper that he gets every month, called a mortgage.

Mo also told us that he had visited a museum of Charles Schultz' works. They gave him one of Schultz' pen nibs. He used that nib to draw the pictures in the Naked Mole book.

Flash photos were not allowed, so the following pictures are not real crisp.

Emma. A signed book. A drawing of the naked mole rat.

Emma, Grace, Zeke, Levi, Eli and Mr. Willems.

Mo reading from one of his books.

Zeke spent the book-signing time flipping his way through card books and pointing at various letters and saying "T," "S," "P," and so on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All Good Under the Hood

The doctor visit today ruled out a crushed disk as the culprit of this pain in the hamstrings.

So, I think I'll take a few days of rest from running and just see if rest solves it.

I finally broke down last week and purchased a pair of road shoes. It's been over 2 years since I bought road shoes.

I gave in because I would really like to run FANS 24 this year. As far as I can tell, this is all on pavement (unless one can dodge dogs and other runners on the grass and worn trail next to the pavement around Lake Harriet). Consequently, this means I'll need to put more miles on pavement.

This may actually be o'kay. Pete and I won't be able to run as much together this year, and I'm not as inclined to drive down to Afton or up to Wild River by myself. This means I'll be doing more training from home. It will save time and gas.

I've a great 20-25 mile road run through the country-side that takes me from home, up to Marine on the St. Croix, and all the way back on highway 95. These runs just mean packing more food and liquids as there isn't a good way to leave drop bags.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Off to a Good, Painful Start

Last year, I didn't start running in earnest until February. So, while the mileage is still low, I'm already ahead of last year.

Nevertheless, I'm in the most pain I've ever been in while running, except of course for the 3 consecutive ankle sprains in the first 8 miles of Leadville last year.

This fall, while talking with a doctor about my ankle, he mentioned that he had ruptured a lower disk because of too much running. The fluid, not certain what fluid, had drained down onto his gluteus maximus and bicep femoris muscles. He said that it felt like some one had hit those muscles with a hammer every time he ran.

When I told Marty this, she, knowing me very well, said that I too would have this same problem shortly.

Well, here I am with severe pains in the gluteus maximus and bicep femoris muscles. So intense that walking from the car into church and around church today was difficult.

Could it be that playing soccer on hard astro-turf in poorly cushioned soccer cleats has caused a disk to rupture? I've been worrying about it all week. I'm stretching every chance I get, and yet there is no relief. And it's not really in an area where one can ask just anyone to help "stretch it out." Well, I guess one could, but 92% of the time it probably wouldn't be appropriate.

My 2009 running plans are shot! There is no way I can run anything longer than a trip to the fridge with this type of pain.

Tonight on the treadmill, I ran some short intervals at 15% incline. Wow, did that hurt! Then it struck me. Maybe I'm just sore from last week's treadmill incline workout.

I think I may focus on flat, steady runs for a few weeks to see if things improve.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The First Outdoor Run

I debated all early afternoon.

1. 20 degrees with beautiful snowflakes falling to the ground.
2. Snow covered trails
3. sunlight filtering through trees
4. a sweaty wool long-sleeve shirt
5. striding out down a gradual incline
6. the euphoric feeling of getting that second wind and feeling capable of running for several days

1. those snowflakes are actually falling to the ground horizontally, aka it's windy
2. the trails will have X-county ski rutts, and every skier is going to remind me that snowshoers and runners are not allowed on the ski trail
3. the sun goes down awfully early these days. It's difficult to see the trail in flat light
4. then I've got to wash it and hang dry it; all without my wife's help
5. my hamstring is going to kill going down hills (a soreness from last night's double header soccer games)
6. the fact is I'm so out of shape that even if I run every day, I won't be experiencing that euphoric second wind until March.

It's crazy. Something just snapped, and I was putting on running clothes, filling the Camelbak bladder, and counting out salt pills.

I'm still out of shape, but it was a great run up at William O'Brien State Park. The outer loop: 6.5 miles in 1:14:00. Nothing exceptional, except that it was one more time when the con list was overcome by the pros of trail running.


Last night, I was able to play for another team during the 10pm time. What a rush! They knew how to place the ball, run plays. Now, I'm not a very good soccer player, but it was really fun to play with them. Yes, it was much more serious play, but it felt great to be playing as part of a well-working machine.

During the 9pm game, I managed to run right into another player. Sorry, Nancy.

The one problem I face with continuing to play soccer, is that it leaves my ankles in bad shape. Last year, I almost did not play the second season because it was affecting my training. My plan for this year had been to only play until Christmas, then drop so I could focus on running in the new year. So far, I'm playing more soccer and running less.


Marty and the kids have been in AZ since Tuesday. They get back Monday.
As always, I imagine how much I will enjoy the freedom. Freedom to read, get house projects done, watch a movie, run often.

I don't know if freedom is that great of a thing. Family life is too full, too rich to have this type of freedom, without family.

I have remodeled our front closet, replacing the hangers with hooks. After years of trying to fit in, pretend that we are someone we aren't, I've removed the coat hangers. We are not a hanger family. We are a hook family.

I've also resealed the slate entrance area.

Next, start studying for the WI bar exam.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Looking for Advice

I'd like to run two 50Ks in April as the official kick-off to the 2009 season.
I've got to buckle-down and study for the WI Bar Exam. The materials will arrive next week. The exam is at the end of February.

I need to start getting long runs in. I'm not certain how to schedule my runs now that I have a real job!

Please tell me:
1) how you balance running with family, job and all other things, and
2) when you get your runs in: mornings, evenings, lunch hour.


Friday, January 9, 2009

We're Not Alone

Marty and I are not alone in our quest to be caffeine free.

My roommate from college has stopped drinking Diet Pepsi. He went cold turkey and is not looking back.

Dana from soccer started saying goodbye to caffeine about a month ago. Her stories of struggle sound a lot like ours; headaches, and feeling like you've lost a good friend and some great watering holes. Like us, she mentioned that she feels better and is sleeping better.

For both Bob and Dana, it sounds like lots of water is the key. For Marty and me, we've found that uncontrollable weeping seems to take the edge off.

Girls got back home from a week in NY. Christmas with grandpa and grandma this evening.

Fun game of soccer tonight.

Painting my office tomorrow. Color: bamboo.

Run? Maybe tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Inaugural 2009 Run

Today was spent sitting and frantically trying to absorb legal information from 9 to 4:30.
Most of the day was very informative. I was even able to get several of my own pressing legal questions answered. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's seminar on business entity distinctions as I've had many people talk with me about forming LLCs or S-Corps.

Nevertheless, when I attend these CLEs (continuing legal education courses), two things happen. First, I spend all day thinking about the things I am unable to do. Second, I get real "itchy." You know the feeling. It's as if your legs are going to burst if you don't get up and walk or run through the sky-ways.

This morning, I intentionally parked in a lot about 7 blocks from the CLE offices in order to 1) save some money on parking (it costs $22 to park in the City Center lot), and 2) be able to run back to the car after the seminars.

Then, it was over an hour in the car driving home. Sorry, I do not mean to complain. I'm just setting you, the reader, up for why I had to climb on the treadmill this evening. Yes, the first run of 2009 was on the treadmill. 31 minutes, 3.2 miles. 10 min pace for first 15 minutes, then slowly ramped up to 7.5 min pace. It felt so good to stride out.

Well, I've started running 6 days earlier than last year's inaugural run. However, last year's inaugural run was 7 miles up at St. Croix Falls Park with Pete. We started around 7am. The temperature was -8°. I remember running the last miles up on a bluff with a ferocious wind blowing. I wore hat, gloves, pants, two wool shirts, and a outer shell. The water froze in the tube running from my water bladder on my back to my mouth. Pete's water bottles froze. Most of our January and February '08 runs were in the -° temperatures.

Tonight, I wore shorts and a wool t-shirt. The water in my water bottle got warmer as I ran. The basement was a balmy 58°. Definitely a portent of warmer runs in January and February '09.

Oh yes, today was a 3/4 can of Mountain Dew. That's only because the early afternoon seminar on estate planning tools was gaining the upper hand on my attention span.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Update in Order to Remain Consistent

I'm on a roll, what with going without caffeine and blogging every day.

Today, I had a small amount (the depth of the width of my index finger) of caffeinated coffee in my cup of decaf. It was just enough to remove the I-can't get-anything-done-this-afternoon feeling but not enough to make me anxious.

Also, I'm just about ready to start running again. I looked at my running log from 2008. I started running again on Jan 14 last year.
I'd like to get out before that date.
I'd like to put in more miles than last year.
I'd like to run more than just once a week this year.
I'd like to run more 50Ks and 50 milers (races) this year.
I'm going to have to run more miles on the road this year.
I'd like to run Fans 24 Hour this year.
I'd love to run Superior 100 but am scared to death of the Superior Trail. Actually, it's my ankles that are scared.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Out of the Pot and into the Frying Pan

Today was yet another completely caffeine-free day. While I feel good, I did crash this afternoon around 2:30. That, however, was most likely caused by the large lunch I ate.

Large lunch?
"Don't you survive on sliced turkey, cheese and mustard sandwiches for lunch?"

Not any longer! At least not on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

That's because I am, as of 12:16 today, an official member of the Lions Club. And with that membership comes many perks. So far...the official Lions Club pin and a weekly lunch, which always includes a dessert. Lions Club meets on Tuesdays. Today is Tuesday, so I really think it was the
au gratin potatoes that caused me to crash and not a lack of caffeine. Thank goodness. Note to self for next Tuesday: more from the fruit bowl and less from the potato pan.

Thursdays ... Rotary Club. Ditto the above, although I'm not yet a full, pin-wearing member yet.

I digress. The point of this blog is to relate that while I'm saying goodbye to the caffeine addiction, I'm afraid I've picked up a new one:

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Caffeine-free Day. Really


Well, the day's not over yet, but I doubt I'll have any trouble during the next few hours.

Now, I have a new problem. I have drunk more decaf coffee today than I have ever consumed total. I no longer need to keep a Starbucks close at hand; I need to keep a bathroom in my hip pocket!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Are Addictions All Equal?

Having spent the last 19 days trying to stay on this caffeine-free wagon, I think I am much more empathetic to people with "real" addictions. I have some questions, however.

1. Having stopped using, do little uses of a preferred substance set an addict back, causing them to feel both sick and desperately wanting more at the same time?
• I've allowed myself a few caffeinated beans here or there, or an afternoon espresso with just one shot of the goods, thinking that this little infusion would help take the edge off the headache or tiredness. I'm wrong. That little bit of caffeine makes me anxious, tired but desirous to drink more.

2. Is this why "real" addicts who are recovering can't just ease off their drug of choice?

3. Is it possible, say in a month or two, to be able to have a cup of java every once in a while without going back to pre-December 15 behavior?
• I'm hoping that once my body is purged of its desperation for caffeine, I'll be able to socially drink again.

So, any real or former addicts out there who could give me some advice?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Really, Really Like Coffee. A lot.

Technically, I like caffeine.

Marty lamented this afternoon that she thinks about coffee all the time.
I reminded her that we thought about coffee all the time before, as well.

Before, while I was drinking no fewer than 2 double shot espressos daily, I:
• was often frantic
• felt like I had dark circles under my eyes
• had periods during the day, usually around 5pm, when I thought I could sleep standing up
• thought about when the next espresso was coming
• got lots of stuff done.

Now, I:
• sleep really well
• don't feel perpetually peppy
• think about when the next espresso is coming
• think about the futility of drinking the decaf espresso
• wander around the house aimlessly on a Saturday

I think it may only be in hindsight that I'm able to say that kicking caffeine was a good thing.

Things I Learned during Soccer Last Night

Marty and I play soccer in an adult soccer league. Our team is El Feugo. In the past two years, we've collected about 2 wins. Yes, 2 wins... Marty just questioned this number. We've accumulated about 10 goals in no fewer than 2,478 games.

Before Christmas, I took a likely goal from another player as he was within about 5 feet of the goal. In the spirit of Christmas, he gave me one of the largest and deepest bruises on my left calf that I've ever experienced.

The calf has given me so much trouble ever since, that I've considered going to get it checked...just to make sure it isn't a rare form of cancer that might result in needing to have my leg amputated. Yes, I've drifted to sleep many a night wondering how I would run the single track section at Afton State Park with a prosthetic.

I learned last night, that I probably just have a healing bruise and not cancer. This is because, as I played, it seemed to loosen up and gave me no trouble.

I also learned that I'm not a sprinter-athlete. I literally need to sub out every 5 minutes because I get so tired. Now, if we could play a 12 hour soccer game, I might be able to hold my own.

I also learned that I'm not as good of a soccer player as I'd like. I'm pretty sure that at this stage in my life, I do not want to go to great lengths to become the type of soccer player I imagine myself to be. I'll save the good playing for FIFA '06 on Playstation.

I also learned that a fellow player is also weaning herself off caffeine. She's taking a more reasonable, non-cold-turkey approach. She's easing herself off slowly. She'd like to escape poor sleep and the jitters. By the sheer power that caffeine holds over us, Marty and I resort to her approach about every other day. Good luck to her and to us!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Caffeine-Free does not mean no caffeine

That's because our decaf espresso this morning had 5 caffeinated beans thrown in.


because my cup of decaf coffee this afternoon had a shot of the REAL espresso thrown in.

It's because my headache was so bad, and we had just attempted to shop at IKEA, with the 3 boys.

Have I fallen off the wagon? A purist would say I have. But I like to think of this process as a slow and methodical pulling-myself-up-onto-the-wagon process. I've been pulling myself up onto this wagon since December 15.

I'm pathetic!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Caffeine Crutch

To admit to needing a crutch to deal with life is not a course of conduct many of us traverse with ease. I have to confess, that on many occasions I have responded to a concerned inquiry with, "No, I'm not addicted. I just really enjoy coffee." I'm a liar. I now have substantial and compelling evidence that I'm an addict.

Around December 15, Marty and I stopped drinking coffee in the midst of our violent stomach virus. Evidently, coffee and viruses in the stomach together are not good companions.

As our sickness abated, we realized that we had already gone caffeine-less for several days. "Why not just a few more days and try life without caffeine," was our thought.

Today, the day after staying up with America's favorite pop stars to watch the New Year come in, Marty and I agreed to grind 22 caffeinated beans with the "less desirable" beans for our morning espresso. Usually, I've been taking 2 ibuprofin with my decaf espresso. (Maybe a new specialty drink at Starbucks called the Decaf Depth Charge.)

I've thought about coffee almost every minute of the last 16 days. A friend of ours went of coffee for four months and said, "I never didn't want it." I understand that desire. I live that desire. I wander around the kitchen in the morning with little purpose - there's no warm mug to hug and so no reason to sit and contemplate the day ahead. Actually, that's not true. We still brew decaf every morning, but most mornings I think, "What's the point of drinking this?"

In the afternoons, to replace my afternoon espresso, I've resorted to several candy bars to diminish the depression.

At the rate we're going, I think it's safe to say that we'll be free from our caffeine addiction by the time we retire.