Friday, January 14, 2011

And, the latest book...

The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace AfflictionsThe Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions by Scott Adams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting book that's an almost completely satirical take on corporate offices. I guess the book didn't get more than 3 stars from me because it honestly kind of depressed me to read about some things that are mocked in the book which have actually happened here. I guess I also don't "get" all the Dilbert cartoons, although when they're on, they're REALLY on.

The book has a good, but far-too-short last chapter about how an ideal office should be run. I didn't agree with all of Adams' suggestions, but they came from a good place and were pretty thought-provoking.

But, enough non-fiction. It's time to read some good-ol' mind-numbing fiction again!!!

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Following Up

My last post sparked quite a sensation of comments here and on Facebook (mostly on Facebook), where it appears that if you're a member of my extended family, you most likely fall on the side of, "yeah, you have no sense of humor." Oh, well. Good to know. I'll just have to stop trying to be funny on my blog, too. I made my wife laugh this morning, though. Let's just call it a visual joke, and leave it at that. I'm a laugh whore, I admit it. So, I'll keep trying, for now.

Speaking of whores, ... actually, I'm not really going anywhere with that.

So, what to type about, what to type about?? I guess I never followed up on my first season of officiating high school volleyball. It turned out to be quite a fun year, or so I thought. I'll admit, it'll take a few more years of this to get any better, but I love being a part of the sport again. I'd love to be able to coach one day, but that may come, as I've made a lot of contacts with people inside the sport, so I'll just need to be patient and keep my eyes open for opportunities. I have also been reminded, through playing recently at church a few nights, that I still reek at actually playing volleyball. I'm grateful to my high school coaches who took pity on me and let me be part of the team, anyway, as much as I must have made life miserable for them, what with my bad skillz and all.

My wife and I have recently undertaken drastic measures in an attempt to reduce our debt load. Following the sage advice of Dave Ramsey, who's apparently a guru in this area, we have endeavored to tighten our collective belts and do this thing. Laura, who is actually not responsible for any of the bad debt that we may have (that would be all me), has figured that if we really get down to it, we can be rid of all our consumer debt (cars, credit cards) in about a year and a half. Meanwhile, I can no longer eat out like my life was ending tomorrow, or buy anything without the express, written approval of my dear wife. I can honestly say that this has been the longest four weeks of my life. However, it could be far worse. I did dig this hole, after all, what with my somewhat frightening tendencies to self-medicate my depression and whatnot with shopping. Yeah, you'd think only women have that problem. Unfortunately, not true. But, I have been so good lately. All this credit does go to Laura, though, as she's been the one to not get too upset at my previous wrongdoings and support me as I've tried to change. One month in, I can definitely say that we're seeing some positive results, already. We have a fully-funded emergency fund, and haven't used the credit cards at all for weeks. More than that, I was actually able to make an extra payment on one of my student loans today, which is really pretty cool. What would be even cooler is if all this not-eating-out-as-often forces me to lose some weight, too. The jury is still out on that, though part of the reason for that was the annual holiday binge.

Lastly, may I just wrap up this horribly random post by expressing real and sincere appreciation for my wonderful neighbors and friends in our "new" neighborhood. We've been in Eagle Mountain now nearly 20 months already, and we've met some wonderful, wonderful people who we just adore. A special shout-out goes to our wonderful neighbors Joe and Pam Wiggins, who have accepted us completely for what we are: a couple of introverted, boring, and bookish people with some weird kids. They have been so sweet to us ever since we moved in, and we truly treasure our friendship with them. Where I (and Laura, for that matter) no longer live in the areas we grew up in and therefore no longer have close friends that live, well, close to us, we've just loved how un-judgmental the Wiggins have been to us. I learned that Joe actually saved me from a church assignment that may have been hard for me with my recent struggles with anxiety, and I have really appreciated Joe and Pam's concern for us and their unfailing kindness. And, our kids love their kids to boot! And, Joe and Pam aren't the only ones we enjoy in our neighborhood. We're so fortunate to be around so many good people. While I usually try not to get too sappy, I just needed to let anyone who lives around us and who reads this to know how lovely they've made life for us here. Couldn't have asked for a better situation, and that makes everything all right in the end.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Did you know that I have no sense of humor? I didn't!!

Yes, I was actually told I have no sense of humor a couple of months ago. It all started with this letter to the editor which I wrote to the Utah State Bar Journal (yes, I know, I used the famous BYU Daily Universe editorial phrase, "I am disgusted..."--slight oversight).

Afterwards, I received the following letter in the mail. Names have been removed to protect the guilty (click on the letter pages to make them slightly bigger):
I have to admit, I was fairly peeved when I read this. I mean, aside from the personal attacks, this guy had the nerve to send me a book of lawyer jokes. Now, usually I'm pretty thick-skinned, but this just rubbed me the wrong way. I even checked with my boss before I wrote the letter, asking him if he'd seen the billboard and what he thought of it. It was pretty freakin' crass, in both of our opinions. So, I felt somewhat justified complaining, figuring others would feel the same way. But, turns out I'm just a humorless jerk. So, I wrote back to get my two cents' worth (note that comments in brackets are my own additions now, and would have changed the tone of my letter from the professional tone I tried to strike):

November 24, 2010

Mr. X, Esq.

X Law Firm

P.O. Box X


Dear Mr. X:

Thank you for your letter of November 15 and the gift that came with it. ["Gift" was a kind word on my part, methinks.] I appreciate your taking the time to write to me and explain your position regarding your billboard. Before I take up the content of your letter, I wish to make clear that in no way did I mean to cast aspersions upon you or your firm by way of the letter I submitted to the Utah Bar Journal. I tried to keep the letter somewhat vague about the identity of your firm in an attempt to minimize potential negative feedback to you. In addition, by writing to the Journal, which is arguably read by only other attorneys, I was hoping not to negatively affect any of your potential clientele. Your letter appeared somewhat defensive, and so I wanted to make my intentions known at the outset of my response. [Nice way to say, "What the 'H-E-double hell' are you so uptight about?"]

In regards to the billboard itself, I’ll admit: I did not get the joke. I’m well known for my sense of humor around my office [I think], but honestly, I did not catch the intent of the billboard. I even approached other attorneys in my office with the content of my letter to ensure I wasn’t out on a limb, and they had failed to see the humor in the billboard as well. My only defense in this regard was that my view of the advertisement was reasonable.

Now, you made some comments about me in your letter that I considered ignoring, but I’m not a big enough person to let them go without a response. [I'm actually the smallest 300 pound guy you'll ever meet.] First, just because I wanted you to reconsider your ad does not automatically mean I go about attempting to “silence unpopular voices” in contravention of the First Amendment. Please. I have just as much right to complain about your ad as you do to leave it up. [Although, I'd really wish you'd take it down. It makes you look like a jackass.]

Second, I don’t need to reconsider my attitude about my own profession. At various places in your letter, you accuse me of being “sensitive,” “threatened by the public’s view of our profession,” thin-skinned, and possessing weak feelings. [All true...check his letter.] If I was so sensitive, I wouldn’t have spent tens of thousands of dollars to become a lawyer. [Presumably more than he did to go to Lower Podunk Law School.] I happen to think being an attorney is a noble profession. [When practiced by noble people, of course...] And I have nothing to be ashamed of. What upsets me is the public attitude that prevails that because I’m an attorney, I’m automatically an ambulance-chaser and a weasel. I’m actually an incredibly bright corporate and patent lawyer who hardly ever steps into a courtroom. But rare is the layperson who can make the distinction upon hearing the word “lawyer” because of the actions and attitudes of some of our kind who care more about money than they do about people. [Ahem?] That’s what I find reprehensible. Nobody ever seems to remember that many, if not most, attorneys are upstanding and respectable people. I don’t know what’s thin-skinned about wishing people could make the distinction.

Finally, you tell me I’m obviously overwhelmed by how hard it is to be a lawyer. I can’t speak for your work, but my work is hard. I’ve spent many sleepless nights wondering if I’ve given reasonable counsel and wondering if I’d still have a job in the morning because I said something the corporate bigwigs didn’t like. And yes, believe it or not, I’ve done the kinds of work you so kindly suggest are harder than what I do. I don’t remember ever saying my work was the most difficult profession that could be practiced. I’m not looking for sympathy, though. Regardless of what you say about me, I can look in a mirror and be proud of what I do. [That might have been a little bit of a low blow. I tried to stay above board, but I can only take it so far when I'm ticked.]

I’m not sure why your letter dripped with such disdain for me when you’ve never even met me. If that was another attempt at humor, I guess I missed that one, too. My letter to the Journal didn’t make the personal attacks your response did [meaning, you're a big jerk.]; I can only guess that I obviously touched a nerve which was in no way my intention. You have my apologies for that, and even an offer to send an update letter to the Journal explaining that I have been notified that the billboard was a joke that I neglected to get. [Just what I want to do...publicly declare I have no sense of humor. Luckily, I was not taken up on this. Rest assured the letter would have been something to the effect of: "Dear Editor: The billboard I wrote about last issue was apparently a joke that was supposed to be funny. I am confused. Sincerely, Me."] Beyond that, though, I don’t apologize for anything I’ve said or intimated. You’ve got to be just as tough-skinned as I apparently need to be. And hopefully, the public perception of all lawyers will change, whether you want it to or not. Frankly, I think that would only be a benefit to us both.


/Casey B. Harris/

Casey B. Harris

Associate Corporate Counsel

About a week after sending this response, I got a call back from Mr. X, in which he said, and I quote, "I laughed because you finally got the joke." What joke? Did I miss another one? He also offered to take me out to lunch some day, which promise has yet to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, as I wait for his call, I'll just be sitting here, working on my sense of humor. And, if any of you post a lawyer joke as a comment, watch out. I might not get it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Latest Read...

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent wrap-up to the series. This one was especially thought-provoking, and like my wife said, you never knew how this one was going to play out. Very enjoyable series of books. One I will definitely read again.

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