Not So Deep Thoughts

Part V: Just Like Starting Over

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Just for general information

Posted by jkhutchins on May 18, 2010

If you lie to me, abuse my trust, steal from me, and generally treat me like a pariah you don’t get to be my friend.


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Dear Mr. Blumenthal:

Posted by jkhutchins on May 18, 2010

First off, bad move passing yourself off as a veteran.  That is one sin I am not inclined to get over.  Especially in light of your deferments.  Serving in combat in wartime is a heroic act, even if it was against one’s will.  Taking credit for risking your life is not acceptable if you were safe at home while someone else unwillingly took your place.

But that is not why we are here.

Pushing prostitutes off of Craigslist was a very misguided idea.  Prostitution never goes away.  People have been trying for centuries now.  It is just not going to happen.  So, if you really want to do something about it, let prostitutes find a seedy corner and let them stay there.  If you chase them out, they just go somewhere else.  MySpace was very tiresome for the prostitutes.  But Craigslist was perfect.  People who wanted such services knew exactly where to look and everyone was happy.

Online prostitution is a good thing.  You have less sex workers on the street.  It can all stay out of the public view.  Since prostitution is NOT EVER going away, just let people have parameters in which to work.  In fact, if everyone knows and understands the rules, everyone is happier.  Those of us who don’t want to be involved with that particular trade can go on with our lives, wilfully ignorant.  It is the next best option after legalizing and regulating the sex trade.

But, once you disrupt that balance, the prostitutes need to find a new way to advertise.  Now I am getting a slew of requests for people to join my network.  None of them I know, and most of them talking about their hot bodies and how much they want to meet me.  Iwant them to go back to Craigslist where they belong.

Prostitution is NEVER going away.  So let sleeping dogs lie for the sake of the rest of us.

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Posted by jkhutchins on May 18, 2010

I am not happy about certain aspects of my life right now.  So, I get fixated on one thing I can control- my weight.

I am female.  Hence I have body issues.  It’s practically preinstalled these days.  Not that the problem is exclusive to women, it just seems to be more pervasive.  It’s no less serious for men.  And it sucks for everyone.

I have spent much of my adult life miserable.  I also come from two lines of short, pudgy people.  Even the thin ones are somewhat potatoesque, although it suits the males of the family better.  So, I’ve spent pretty much my entire adult life overweight.  The thinnest I have been since 1991 or so has in both cases been in the wake of a breakup.  When I’ve been cleaning out the rest of the clutter in my life.

In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation there.  The more junk I clear out, the more weight I lose.  Perhaps it is time to clear out more of the junk.  While I am much happier with my shape now than I was just a year ago, I still have quite a ways to go before I will be satisfied.  I am not talking about supermodel weight.  I just want to look good in clothes where I don’t have to worry about whether the sizes go high enough.

In the meantime, I’ve been exercising.  Pretty hard by my standards.  I try to get at least an hour a day in, hopefully four or five times a week.  After that I start having logistical issues.  Additionally, I am trying to incorporate more passive exercise.  I’ve been climbing stairs instead of taking elevators and things like that for awhile, but I’m trying to get myself to walk over to pick up the boy or go to Target.  I should probably start walking to the grocery store again now that the weather is getting nicer.  The main problem being due to financial constraints I’ve been spending more time at Fred Meyer, which is not so walkable.

What I need to do now is work on my upper body, which is much more tedious.  I can step or bike with distractions.  I’m not so sure how I can achieve that for my shoulders and back.  Perhaps I need weights.

The hard part at this juncture is the food.  When I just get semi-anorexic it’s not hard.  When I am keeping myself busy with cooking it’s much more complicated.   The easiest, cheapest food is carbohydrates.  Protein and vegetables are more expensive to use, and at this point I’m hoping to get by with what is already on my shelves.  And I’m trying not to waste food, so I end up with a lot of carbohydrate leftovers.   It also doesn’t help that exercise, stress, deprivation and other factors are making me crave sweets to an obsessive degree.

Eating with people is also not useful.  I love having someone around, and it is great sharing meals.  But it makes it much harder to starve myself.  I can’t reach into the freezer and have 300 controlled calories that cost me $2.  I have to think more.  This is good from a long haul perspective, but I don’t want the long haul.  I want to fit comfortably into my skinnier jeans.  I want to stop looking pregnant.

I do have the time right now.  Exercising up to 2 hours a day is going to be functionally impossible once I finally get work (although it will keep me busy enough to not snack and I will probably get more passive exercise).  I gain more weight when I am unemployed.  I do have the self-discipline to lose weight.  I lost 30 lbs in the course of about 4 months before, and not that long ago.  I can do it if I want it bad enough.  I’m trying to want it enough.

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Posted by jkhutchins on May 18, 2010

A little bile for a Tuesday morning.

Positively 4th St

I wanted the original but this is not a bad cover.

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law degree

Posted by jkhutchins on May 17, 2010

It is more complicated having a law degree but not the bar than people think.  Yes, getting a law degree is an accomplishment.  It is not the easiest thing to get into law school.  Especially if you want to attend a reasonably respectable one.  And completing school is not minor either.  While some schools like mine make it difficult to actually flunk out, it is still not the easiest experience.  There is a lot of complicated material to process and students are left to flail on their own a lot of the time.  People quit out of sheer frustration.

I was not so pragmatic.

I had started school and I was going to finish it.  I was miserable, but I had already invested a lot in the student loans.  Plus, I had a plan.  I could be a legal librarian.  Emphasis on the librarian.  I would be a librarian with specialized knowledge.  I had already trained to be a librarian but never worked as one.  For a lot of complicated reasons, one of which was my lack of self-confidence.  I had run pipe in the temporary Seattle library and the UW law school library, but not been paid to do reference.  And I really wanted to.

So, I graduate.  I take the bar because I might as well, right?  I had an awful time with bar prep.  I had not taken most of the courses tested on the bar.  I had taken none of the business classes, having been given the idea in my first year that I sucked at Contracts.  I was also awful at Property.  I had no interest in criminal law, and torts wasn’t where I wanted to go.  Torts was a miserable branch of law where bad people did awful things to other people, who were frequently none too sympathetic either.  Now, constitutional law I liked.  But that is a relatively minor part of the bar, and covered under criminal law.  Criminal law was more about procedure, which had consistently put me to sleep.  I still can’t tell you exactly the process of a trial.  I know most of the steps, but I can’t give you dates or exact names.  My subjects in law school were intellectual property, international law, and the first amendment.  All of which are federal law.  They are not covered on the Washington state bar.

Bar prep was utterly miserable.  I was having to learn three years of law, and try to remember law I didn’t learn very well in the first place over the course of six weeks.  My sample essays kept getting more and more discouraging results.  I knew fairly early into the bar prep class I wasn’t going to pass.  My not very strong resolve to really try to study got weaker and weaker.  All the while, I was still with the boyfriend who I was having perpetual problems with.  But I can’t blame him.  My problems were much more fundamental than that.  Bar prep is incredibly hard.  It takes a lot of dedication and focus.  I did not want to be a lawyer and I hated the law.  I wasn’t willing to study 10 hours a day for 2 months, especially since I seemed destined to fail.  I had a bit of a nervous breakdown shortly after bar prep ended, and spent an entire day watching Shear Genius because I couldn’t face what I had to do.

So, unsurprisingly, I failed.  I didn’t find out right away, of course.  I had to wait for months first.  In the meantime, I can’t get any work anywhere because any employers want me to have the bar first.  I skipped the law library association conference because of the bar.  It was in Portland that year.  The AALL conference is where most of the hiring gets done.  It was my best bet, and I didn’t go.  I still applied for academic library jobs, but there wasn’t much to apply for.

So, I failed.  I was shattered, even though I expected it.  I was treated like the invalid I was for several weeks.  My parents kept a watch on me.  I felt like law school had broken me.  Which it kind of had.  It shattered my confidence and made me feel like a fraud.

I was encouraged to get a copy of my results to see if it was worth challenging them.  It wasn’t.  I had thoroughly failed both parts.  I wasn’t even close.  I had passed one or two sections, but that was more than counteracted by the ones I had gotten less than 50% on.  Which was roughly a third.

I was encouraged to take the bar again, even if not right away.  My dad told me he would pay for me to take bar prep again.  As it happened, the bar prep class I took had a guarantee, so I might not have even needed to spend the full 3k again.  But I hated to waste the money on something I couldn’t pass and probably wouldn’t even use.  I didn’t want to practice law.  Really, the only thing I wanted was to have the ability to write nasty letters.  Plus it might help sway a library to hire me.

I accepted that I was probably never going to be an esquire.  Until I was ready to put the effort in to really study for the bar, for at least two months, I would never pass.  And I did not want to isolate myself from my son for that long.  I was not willing to suspend my life long enough to get through the bar.  Especially since I appeared to have no aptitude.

So, here I am.  I have the JD but not the ability to do anything with it.  It’s a painful existence sometimes.  By law, I can not give any legal advice.  If I talk about the law at all, I have to make a disclaimer that I can’t give legal advice.  I can not.  It is very humiliating to have to qualify everything I spent 3 years and over $100,000 learning.  I can not get any legal work.  I can’t be hired as an attorney, which is fair, but I am overqualified to get work as a paralegal or legal secretary.  I’m just a failure.  And I have loans to pay off.  So I can’t take just any job.  I have a mortgage payment to make in student loans every month.  For now, I am getting help with that, but I want to pay it off myself.  I hate living with the asterisk, which is what the last of the bar really is.  I have the degree, but it isn’t really finished.  Yet I am unwilling to make effort to finish, which haunts me too.  I live like this, miserable, but I have the ability not to.

In the meantime, I try for meaningful work where my law degree isn’t such an embarrassment.  One where I made a different choice, not that I was to weak to succeed.

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Kid parties

Posted by jkhutchins on May 17, 2010

My son just had his birthday party this weekend.  I think it was a success, everyone had a good time.

I think birthday parties for kids have gotten very out of hand.  I’m ashamed to say last year my son’s birthday was held at his regular swimming pool.  My ex made all the arrangements.  A room was rented for food, cake and presents, then the kids all went for a swim.  I am not sure it was really any better than what I did this year.  I reserved two tables at a city park.

My party was pretty simple.  It was held at Carkeek park, which has a lovely picnic area on top of a bluff.  So, despite the warm day, it was pretty nice because of the breeze off the water.  It also has a good view of the Olympics.  There is lots of grass, a playground area, and bathrooms.  My decorations consisted of a bunch of balloons and tablecloths.

The food was minimalist.  Costco pizza and a Costco cake.  Plus bottles of water, some Diet Coke and root beer.  I had forgotten about drinks so they were a last minute addition.

Entertainment consisted of a handful of “ubiquitous red cup” games.  They stacked plastic cups, transported some water in them with their teeth, and shot at them with squirt guns.  Then the squirt gun battle.  My big splurge was to buy 16 or so squirt guns for 7-10 kids.  I was on refill duty.  Kids would hand me an empty squirt gun, I would hand them a full one.  Some of the parents got involved too.  The kids ran around for a good 15-20 minutes squirting each other.  Other than that, they kids just played.  They ran around on the grass, played on the swings and climbing equipment, and played frisbee.  All very simple, and cheap.

I had explicitly said on the invitations I didn’t want presents, we just wanted people.  My low budget party was intended to avoid guilt on that front.  It’s not like my kid needs the toys, and presents at a party can be the stickiest part.  My real priority was to have enough kids there.

Kids these days have surprisingly few opportunities to just go nuts with their friends.  They have recess at school, of course, but that’s 15 minutes at a time with a lot of rules.  When I was young, a group of kids from the neighborhood would just hang out without much parental supervision.  My son doesn’t really have that sort of opportunity.  At my party, the kids didn’t argue.  They just ran around and stuffed themselves with pizza and cake.  I don’t think a theme party really accomplishes that.  I don’t think having an entertainment where they are expected to sit and watch is really a kid’s first choice, nor where there is one activity they are expected to do.  Their attention span at elementary school age just isn’t that long.

My main issue with that kind of party is that it turns into a vicious cycle.  One parent does it, others feel like they need to reciprocate.  And if a parent spends that kind of money, there is a social obligation to bring a gift appropriate to the occasion.  When it’s just a cheap picnic?  So much less pressure.  One parent loved the party, and said she would like to do the same thing.

One perk about my version was the flexibility.  Of course I wanted an idea of attendance because of the food, but otherwise it didn’t really make a huge difference how many were coming.  I had deliberately brought extra squirt guns.  Completely by accident, one kid from my boy’s school was already at the park.  He came to the party.  It wasn’t awkward, because there weren’t any issues about gifts.  I explicitly invited siblings, since none of the activities were too focused.  It was good for boys and girls.  Any extras weren’t a problem, but I wasn’t paying good money on admission for people not showing up either.  Leftover pizza and cake were not a big deal.

But most of all, the kids had FUN.  The expenses consisted of food, plates, cups,  plastic tableware, tablecloths (left over from last year), napkins, balloons and squirt guns.  I have enough of most of these left over I’m good for next year and possibly beyond.  The parents were relaxed, and the kids weren’t fighting about anything.

To be fair, I had an easier time because May is the perfect time for an outdoor party.  This format would not work nearly as well in November.  But I still think simpler is better.  And I might just get a picnic shelter instead, get a nice fire, skip the squirt guns, and not do much else differently.

But overall I am quite proud of how it all turned out.  Happy birthday, sport.

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Posted by jkhutchins on May 11, 2010

Forgive me.  But this has been on my mind for a while now and I want to sort this out.

New York Times article about confronting a chef.

Precis:  Chef is heard in the dining room chewing out an employee.  Twice.

NYT food writer goes to the kitchen, chews out chef.  Chef is unrepentant.  Chef comes to table, is defensive.  Chef throws out food writer and party.

NYT writer calls back chef, warns him about upcoming article.  Chef not interested.  Food writer wonders if he did wrong, or could have handled things better.

Point AShould food writer have written the article?

I say yes.  It brought up some interesting discussion about the rights of patrons and the rights and obligations of a restaurant.  In addition, the establishment was warned and essentially given a chance to argue their case before publication.  While some characterized the piece as revenge, I think it was a legitimate thing to do.  The piece was more about boundaries than shaming the chef.  That said, I’m not sure the chef needed to be named so prominently.  However, several New Yorkers were happy to know which restaurant to avoid.  So, overall, yes, the piece itself was reasonable.

Point B:  Should the journalist just have left?

That is a fair point.  I probably would have, but I don’t like confrontation.  Of course I also don’t like paying for food in the three digits.  The journalist had already settled in for a meal.  While there are plenty of restaurants in New York, he should not have been punished for the bad behavior of the kitchen.  His evening was already ruined at that point.

Additionally, by just leaving he does the restaurant a disservice.  Even if he leaves a message explicitly saying why he left, if the chef is that out of control, I suspect one more upset patron wouldn’t make much difference.  A note would not have the same impact as what the journalist actually did.  I won’t fault him on not choosing the easy out.

Point C:  Should the journalist have gone to the kitchen?

This was the main point of contention amongst the commenters.  Opinion was very divided on this.  Many argued that It was unsafe.  That may be a fair point, although the journalist stated that while he couldn’t remember exact details, he didn’t think he went past the door.  Many said he should have talked to the manager and let the manager handle it.  I strongly suspect that if the manager was going to handle the situation, he would have by the time the second yelling incident occurred.  That the manager did not do so indicates that he either didn’t feel it was a problem or that any action he (the manager) took would be useless.

In my opinion, if the manager was unable or unwilling to act, clearly the chef was too far out of control for a note or message to make much impact.

The other opinion on this was that the manager should have gotten the chef to come to the table.  Was that probably the best option?  Probably.  Assuming the chef did not refuse to come and the manager would make polite excuses.

The most heated point was whether the kitchen was  a sacred space or not.  Many commenters said that an angry reader would not show up at someone’s desk.  Up to a point, that is true.  But it does happen.  Some places they have to set up security because it happens.   In this case the kitchen was semi-open.  It is already an exposed area.  And the kitchen has already invaded the dining room with the shouting.  As long as the journalist is at the doorway and not being a danger or a major disruption, while being there was not a good idea it was not a gross violation either.

Point D:  Was the journalist in the wrong for making it about his experience instead of the employee?

No.  This is what the journalist did absolutely right.  While it seemed very self absorbed to many of the writers, it wasn’t the journalist’s place to do anything about the employee.  He was only entitled to complain about how it affected him.  Beyond that, he would have been inserting himself into a situation about which he knew little and was none of his business.  On this I applaud him completely.

Point E:  Was the chef entitled to run the kitchen the way he saw fit?

Strictly speaking, yes.  If he loses business because of it, that is his responsibility.  On the other hand, especially with high end dining, what a customer is really paying for is the service and ambiance.  So the chef violated the tacit agreement that exists in that situation.  If he really had to yell at the employee, he should have taken it out in the alley if he needed to.  The journalist was reasonable to complain.

Point F:  Should the journalist have consulted with his party first?

Of course.  But it was clearly not a planned out maneuver.  Minus points, but not a lot.

Point G:  Should the journalist have chewed the chef out of in front of his staff?

Probably not.  Still, I’m not sure any lesser action would have caught the chef’s attention at that point.  Also, if the journalist did stay out of the kitchen itself, perhaps it was on the chef to take the patron aside.  The real problem is it is impossible to say what actually happened.  The journalist wasn’t sure exactly what was said, and because of my personal experience, I’m not sure I would trust the chef, or anyone with that kind of anger management problems to give an entirely accurate account.  But that is my bias.  Without an eyewitness, I don’t want to give an opinion.  Nonetheless, the encounter almost certainly could have been handled better.   The chef should have calmed down on the spot, and the journalist should have poked his head in then left.

Point H:   Should the journalist have left after that?

Probably.  But again, he’s settled in for a good meal and in theory things will have settled down.  This also would be a probably wise but not obligatory move.

Point I:  Should the chef have ejected the journalist?

It’s his restaurant.  He can do what he wants.  I’m not sure it was the right move, but on the other hand the chef didn’t have a lot to lose at that point and it may have asserted his authority with the staff.  He could have chosen to try to recover instead.  He could have comped the meal and apologized about the disruption.  Having been shamed in front of his staff, however, it is understandable if not politic to just end the contact.   I just wonder how many other diners he lost because of mishandling the situation even before the account hit the papers.

Point J:  How biased is the account?  Was the chef really being demonized unfairly?

To some extent, almost certainly.    The journalist, based on the fact that he was blurry on many of the details, may have been under the influence of alcohol or overreacting and too angry himself.  Nonetheless, the fact that the journalist is questioning his own actions and was willing to talk to the chef before publishing works in his favor.  On the other hand, for my purposes all of this is hypothetical.  I am more interested in the questions raised than coming to a judgment.

I would have done things much differently, but I might have been happy to be with someone who would have been willing to speak up.  I hope someone learned something from the experience.

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Article Comments

Posted by jkhutchins on May 11, 2010

I am not 100% sure that adding comments to newspaper articles was a really good idea.  Letters to the editor were traditionally culled to the most interesting because of space constraints.  Now, anyone with an axe to grind can get their viewpoint in, even if it isn’t really on topic.  For example, any given article on marriage will get some response about how fathers are completely victimized by the family court system.  Any article touching on politics will descend quickly into a Tea Party argument.

I read the comments because they can be entertaining and enlightening, but it is alarming to see how much bile exists.  Of course, it always have been the motivated who speak up, but the level of pure nastiness is unsettling.  On all sides of the spectrum.  Some people tend to be angrier than others, and in a predictable way, but it is not all on sided in the least.

However, in my perfect world, anyone mentioning “my website” or “my book that is all about this topic” would have their comments removed.  Just because it feels really tacky even if it is kind of appropriate.  People who post straight out ads would be banned.  Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world.  If we did, GvE would be available on DVD.

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Posted by jkhutchins on May 11, 2010

It’s difficult.  I like to think about politics and the implications of various policies and worldviews.  For example, Originalism in constitutional law makes me foam at the mouth.  As do nativists and libertarians.  But on the other hand, I hate arguing with people, because I don’t like confrontation.  Plus I’ve known some people who fight very dirty.  Like a cornered wolverine.  So, I have all these thoughts drifting around in my head that I am afraid to commit to.  I dunno, I may still rant about net neutrality and libertarians.


I am also hyperaware of the incredibly public aspects of the internet.  As my career is far from secure, I don’t want to write down anything that could be held against me later.  Fairly or not.  Legally or not.

The problem is that caution can lead to incredibly boring blogs.  To the point of I wonder why I have one at all.  I guess I can gush about recent movies and recipes I’ve tried.  I can gush on in a very generic way about my boy because I worry for his safety and believe he should make the decisions about what he wants in the permanent record about him.

If I teach him properly, there won’t be any photos of him at parties.  He will be employable.


I probably should just write a diary.  The problem is, I feel stupid writing a diary.  Plus I know too many people who “journal” who drive me up the wall.  If I have a public, even a hypothetical one, I edit more.  I think out my position better.  Basically I use more discipline, and that is probably a good thing.  So I guess what I do is write down what I think and hope nobody finds it.

The upshot is, don’t expect to find a lot of substantive content.   Even amongst friends I am concerned about what I say.  I would like to rant about worthless ex-boyfriend but that reflects almost as badly on me.  Not because my behavior was as appalling, but because I wasn’t blameless.   More importantly, whining in public makes me look vindictive and petty.

So, if you are still reading, it this will be a semi-random mismash of shiny objects.  Be warned.

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Hello world!

Posted by jkhutchins on May 11, 2010

Here we go again.  This is my forum to rant (or at least go on at length) about random things so I don’t have to bore people around me.  And I can go on at length.  For my non-existent audience, welcome.

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