Brobeck’s fall

I found out from an aquaintance today that his law firm was shutting down. He was surprized I didn’t know already.

But, in my defense, it happened quite suddenly.

This Article talks about how the firm fell. It was apparently a very respected company.

I called my boyfriend to tell him about it. “Remember our attorney friend?”

“What about him?”

“His company went Enron.”

Of course, Enron’s scandal was far bigger than this law firm. Lawyers (the irony) are still threshing that one out. The executives running away with all the loot, the stock losses for thousands of people saving for their retirement. The blatant dishonesty.

I know very little about Brobeck, but reading between the lines of this article, there are some interesting facts.

“Partners…are personally liable for a percentage of the debt, though it’s not clear how much. ”

That’s a little different from the Arthur Andersen/Enron menage a deux. Personal responsibility is refreshing. But why did they get so far in debt?

Maybe lawyers aren’t so good at acounting.

But it seemed to be something else. They apparently would have been okay, but there was dissention in the ranks. Some coalition of lawyers drew sides and some of their best talent left.

That’s also ironic, now that I think about it. Lawyers are supposed to be involved in creating agreements between parties. But they couldn’t agree with themselves.

“the firm’s downward spiral began in earnest in November 2001 when former Chairman Tower Snow Jr., facing opposition from a group of partners unhappy with his management style, said he would not seek re-election to a third term.”

Snow left, and took a huge number of attorneys with him.

” another group of 11 intellectual property partners, led by rainmaker James Elacqua, defected to Dewey Ballantine.

Elacqua said the demise of Brobeck is “a real tragedy.” ”

It sounds like he didn’t really expect the whole place to shut down after he left.

for every action, there is a reaction. AKA consequence. No one really thought it would come to this.

Yup, it’s cold

I just found out there’s this guy at work who is fascinated with Alaska. He mostly grew up in Texas..Actually, that figures…I’ll have to get into the Alaska/Texas thing later. My Alaskan readers know what I mean. Anyway, he forwarded me this correspondence he’d had with a North Pole resident about the effects of cold:

>Off-the-topic question for you: After it’s 64 below, when it warms up
>to, say, 30 below, can you tell the difference? I just ask because
>it’s something I’ve wondered for a long time but am not likely to
>find out by personal experience in Houston, TX. And where in Alaska
>are you where it would get so cold?

>Actually your question is most welcome – I love this place
>and it is kinda fun to talk about it. Yes, 30 below is a major
>improvement. I can drive without the transmission fluid stiffening
>up, I can breathe outside without coughing when I first go out, all
>sorts of goodies. The teens here start wearing shorts again when it
>gets up to 15 to 20 below. We’re all a bit nuts, I guess.
>I live out of Fairbanks in a little community that was named North
>Pole because of the extreme cold, not the chubby guy in the red fur
>suit…though fur suits do look good this time of year. And chubby
>works out ok here for 8 months of the year…everyone but the teens
>has so many layers of clothing on, you can’t tell.
>Good story – when I first moved up here years ago, someone told me
>that once it got below 60 below, you could take a cup of boiling
>coffee outside and toss the liquid up into the air – and it would
>turn to ice before it hit the ground. I tried that a couple times in
>’89, when it was below 70 below, and it just isn’t true. It turns
>into a cloud and floats away…. don’t know how cold it was then,
>even our thermometers stop at 70 below, and mine was bottomed out big

Well, you can’t use BOILING water…But that’s pretty neat, that it completely disappeared into mist….

Me and Chris tried it when it got to 40 below, with a cup of just regular cold tap water. What happened was, the droplets that separated themseves from the main body of water DID freeze before it hit the ground. The main section of water didn’t freeze that fast and splatted on the snow like a rorschach.

Naturally, Chris and I thought it might need a little more TIME to freeze before it hit the ground. We thought it might freeze entirely if we threw it off the balcony on the second floor. But the distance of the fall worked against us. When we tried to gather the evidence of the experiment on the snow below, it was hard to tell which was the ice from our cup of water and which was just regular ice.

She’s right about the breathing thing. When it’s really cold, if you breathe through your mouth, your air passage doesn’t have enough time to warm the air sufficiently before it reaches your lungs. It hits the little pink cells in your lungs like a punch to the gut; you have to cough. Of course, you can breathe through your nose, but the moisture in the nasal passage instantly freezes on the nose hairs. And it’s still not enough time to warm the air. You’ll cough and sputter until your lungs get used to the cold and then you can breathe.

You should wear a scarf over your mouth, to breathe through. It creates a little pocket of air warmed by your breath and keeps your warmer. Of course, the scarf gets a layer of frost and ice over the part you’re breathing through. And your eylashes frost up.

Of course, what it does to cars is another subject entirely.

science can be blind

I eat a lot of microwave popcorn. I imagine a lot of people do.

I am also notoriously cheap. It burns me that i have to pay so much for all the packaging of microwave popcorn. I figured that there must be a way to make my own microwave popcorn.

I bought the actual kernels yesterday. I put them in a ziplock bag, leaving a little opening for steam to escape. I put it in the microwave and hit start.

I heard them pop! I was exited! but they weren’t popping very much. Not a lot of popping going on.

I opened the microwave. The ziplock bag had melted onto the bottom. Nasty! So I had to get all the hot unpopped kernels out, and then scrape off the melted plastic.


Maybe I needed to use a paper bag.

OR MAYBE i needed to ask the internet how to do this.

I found THIS article.
Very interesting. This poor little science nerd decided to see which was the BEST popcorn brand. His criteria was just that the most kernels popped without burning.

I would be interested in a brand that tasted good, but perhaps that is not easy to define scientifically.

He actually tried his own method of popping corn, using a paper bag. He soaked the kernels in water overnight to increase their water content. The water is apparently what the microwave uses to heat.

And it worked!

But he never saw the true genius of his experiment. He didn’t realize that he could bypass the whole paying extra for the packaging and make his own homemade microwave popcorn.

I did find THIS recipe. It’s a good guide for ratios and cook time.

long content

I just love my blog. I am a writing addict, really. In prior times, before I had this fabulous content delivery system known as “Blogger” available to me, I would write VOLUMINOUS emails to everyone that would answer. Not to mention the ones that didn’t.

The joy of writing them was enough.

Even before email, long ago in the 80s, I used to write letters to people. I had several pen pals I wrote to every week. It felt wrong to me if I didn’t write at least 4 pages. To many, I wrote upwards of 20 pages. Honestly, I’m not sure what I had to say. I didn’t really have any exciting life as a homeschooled teenager in the remote suburbs of Alaska. But I wrote anyway.

But now we have the internet! There is so much good stuff to read. People generate content every day, scads of it. I don’t know how many hundreds of people have their own blogs, and not all of it is self-referential psychotherapy. Not all.

There are all those clever new guys that made stabs at politicians and public figures. And Blogcritics, reviewing music and movies.

A lot of those folks seem to be quick quippers, dashing off little paragraphs.

I tend towards multiple pages. It makes me feel like looking sideways in the mirror.

“Does my blog look fat?”

I found this today, from

The fact is, reading on the web – or at least reading anything longer than a few hundred words – just isn’t that pleasant an activity. And yet the Internet seems like a tremendous opportunity to deliver great writing to a far-flung readership. This is precisely the paradox that has burned up hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital over the last few years. And still the question remains: how can this cool tool be used to distribute information with a little depth, with a little soul?

Preach it!
That is some of what I am trying to do for you, my readers, known and unknown. A little depth and a little soul.

My tolerance for reading more than a few hundred words on the net might not be shared by everyone. But I hope that I make it worthwhile, the PageDown button not too tiresome, and my chubby blog makes itself worth your time.

louie’s story

Hey everybody!

My moose story inspired a friend to write another wild-animal Tale (tail?). I wanted to share it with you.

Louie’s story

The black ball beside the road ducked just as I drove past it on my way to work. I realized at once what it was and turned around to get it. Two more cars passed it before I got stopped and the small black ball ducked each time. It couldn’t have gotten any closer to the side of the road without being on it. I walked across the road and bent down to pick it up and was meet with a cry and a beak that opened so wide, I could see half way down its throat. The baby magpie must have been blown out of its nest the night before by the high winds, and was hungry. I looked around for the mother and was greeted by cries form a treetop a short distance away. I picked the baby up and put him on the other side of the fence, hoping that its mama would feed it still.

I stopped and looked for it after I got off work that day. I didn’t see it and hoped that it was being taken care of. I went on home and fixed some supper for myself. I decided to go do some grocery shopping after supper and so I got into my car and drove out to the road. There right by the road, so close it was scary, was my little friend, sitting there like he was waiting for me to come by. I got out and picked him up, once again greeted with the beak open so wide I was amazed by it.

I set him on the seat of the car and he just looked at me with a look that said, ” It was about time. I’ve been waiting for you. ” We went back into the house and I mixed up some baby bird food. He let me feed him without too much trouble, as he was very hungry. Then he just sat there on the towel, looking at me as if to say, “What’s next?” I looked him over and marveled at the half-inch tail and the perfect baby feathers all over him.

My husband, Dan usually takes care of the baby birds we find but he was gone for the next week. So I was just praying that I could keep the little guy alive for a week till he got home then we could name him together and he could take over its care. Our first week together went well and we got to know each other. The baby was very alert and would sit there and watch me as I went about my housework. When Dan got home, he said lets name him Louie. Dan figured that Louie was about three weeks old when I found him. Now Louie would just sit and watch all that went on around him and he realized that there were birds in the other room. He wasn’t able to fly yet but he could hop to anywhere he wanted to go. It wasn’t long before he wanted to join in the fun he thought he was missing in the other room. He would sneak in when I would forget and leave the door open and the other birds thought he was just another of the flock. When he learned to fly, he would chase them around the room.

Louie grew to enjoy being with his people. He would stand on the dish drainer and give you kisses. He didn’t like you to touch him but he would always come to see what you were doing. If you were very lucky, he would let you scratch the top of his head with one finger.

We tried to teach him about eating what other magpies ate and so we would offer him pieces of meat and cheese. Louie loved cheese and if you left the top off the container of shredded cheese, Louie would help himself. Louie was always hungry when we got home from work and would rush through the door as soon as you opened it. If you didn’t give him food right away, he would follow you around till you did. He would eat all he wanted and then hide the rest. Any little nook or crack was a good place to secret away snacks, in his mind. We would find bits of his dinner stuffed away in our checkbook that had been left on the table or tucked under the edge of a magazine. Anything with a hole in it would soon hold his treats and I had to learn to turn things so it didn’t have an opening for him to use.

The minute you started to pull into the driveway, Louie would fly to meet you. He would follow you down the drive and wait patiently on the side view mirror while you got out of the car. I would always talk to him and tell him “Hello, Louie”. It wasn’t long before he would say hello Louie to himself when I would let him out on the morning. He would sit on the post, chattering to himself.

Louie was very friendly when he wanted to be. He went over to meet the neighbor, Bob, one morning. Now Bob wasn’t aware that Louie was a pet and so it kind of freaked him out when Louie peered over the edge of the roof at him. However, Bob was used to all our pigeons standing on the roof edge and so he didn’t pay too much attention at first. Bob went to sit in his lawn chair, setting his cigarettes and lighter on the ground beside him. Louie flew down to check it out. Now magpies like bright and shiny things and so these really caught his eye. He tried to pick up the cigarettes and Bob grabbed them. He tore off the bright silver paper from the end of the pack and set it in front of Louie. He set the pack back down. Well, Louie must have decided that bigger was better and tried to carry off the whole pack. The pack was bigger than he was used to carrying and had to land a short distance away. Bob retrieved the pack and set it back down by his chair. Louie decided to try extracting a cigarette from the pack and so he picked it up and shook it. Out fell several of them. Louie grabbed one and flew to the top of a low shed. I guess he didn’t like the taste because that’s where he left it. Louie would go visit Bob and would even come when he called him. Bob soon found that Louie liked treats and would give him food tidbits during the day.

Louie was under the impression that all creatures were put on this earth for him to play with. As he grew up in the kitchen, he found that the dog was an excellent playmate. I don’t think the dog harbored the same thoughts but Louie never took that into consideration. As the dog wandered around the kitchen, Louie thought it was great fun to follow him and pull a couple of hairs on the back of his leg. The dog not realizing this was a game would go hide under the buffet. Louie wanted to play so he would walk under the buffet and chase the dog out and the fun would start again. Louie would follow the dog and whenever the dog wasn’t paying him heed, Louie would grab a couple of hairs.

Louie would follow you wherever you went when you were outside. If you headed down the drive to get the mail, he would fly ahead and wait on the mailbox for you. Then he would fly back to a fence post, waiting for you to return. I would sit outside at the patio table and he would come and stand on your feet. If you had shoestrings, they were for Louie to play with. He quickly learned to untie them for you. He would climb up you and sit on your shoulder and give kisses or listen to you talk to him. If you had a snack, you were expected to share.

At dinnertime, Louie would invite himself and would help himself to whatever looked good, dragging his piece off to the edge of the table. After satisfying his hunger, the leftovers were secreted away for late night snacks. One afternoon while I had cookies baking in the oven, Louie followed me in the kitchen door. I took the sheet of cookies out of the oven, turning my back to the ones left to cool on the counter. I was aware of Louie flying back and forth behind me and when I turned to place the warm cookies to cool, discovered that there were several missing from the cooking rack. I grabbed the cookie from Louie’s mouth and hunted for the others he had spirited off. I never did find one of them.

Louie was willing to share anything with you, even if it was yours. He would walk across the table to your beer bottle and try to pull it over. He would drink a little beer if you tipped it so he could get his beak into the opening. Then he would strut around the edge of the table as if to say, “Look at me, I’m something special.” He would share your soda too, till he discovered he didn’t like it.

Magpies are very territorial and Louie took great care to insure that no one invaded his territory. Invaders were not allowed and the meter reader was no exception. I saw her pull into the driveway one day and waited for her to leave. It seemed to be taking a long time for her to do what needed to be done and so I went outside to see what was happening. I found her back by the meter but she had never had a chance to get close enough to read it. Louie was nipping her shoes and flying at her head to keep her away from the house. I tried to let Louie know that it was all right but he wasn’t having anything to do with it. She finally got her job done, but I bet she will never forget her encounter with a magpie protector.

Louie didn’t react to everyone that came to the house like he did to the meter reader. The vet had to come visit one of the emu’s that was feeling under the weather. Louie didn’t bother the vet but he thought the vet’s truck was a new playground. The vet found Louie riffling through the things on his front seat and just laughed. We were worried about the West Nile virus that was affecting the horses and members of the crow family, and the vet gave us the vaccine to inoculate Louie. The vet still laughs about Louie in his truck.

But some people just shouldn’t invade Louie’s kingdom, such as the water truck. The driver opened his door and Louie flew straight at him. He scooted across the seat and went out through the other door as Louie decided to check him out. Louie flew straight through the truck, trying to let the driver know he was in hostile territory. Luckily Bob was home and saved the water truck driver from the menace of Louie’s protectiveness.

One day, my daughter, Shanna, came for a visit and wanted to see Louie. We were standing by the back door, calling him. He didn’t come right away and so I went to look for eggs behind the house. Suddenly I hear Shanna calling me, in a panic or so I it sounded. I got to her as quick as I could and there was Louie standing on her jacket covered arm, talking to her. “Hello Louie. Hahahaha, hello Louie. ” She was so excited to see Louie and as he was climbing up and down her arm, told me that she didn’t know he could talk. We went into the house and Louie sat with her for an hour before going on to something else.

Louie was a loner for most of the time he was with us, preferring our company to others of his kind but he did make friends with one other magpie and they would spend time together. Louie’s friend would land about 30 feet away and watch his interaction with us. A couple of times, Louie wasn’t waiting to come in at night and would be out, coming back in the morning to eat. The last time I saw Louie, he had pick up a large piece of hard bird food I had thrown out from the birds’ dishes in the house and flew off towards the grove of trees by the creek where the colony of magpies lived.
I don’t know if Louie and his friend took up together or if some other fate befell him.

When the wind is blowing, I remember how he didn’t like to hear the wind and would sit and shake like a leaf. When I bake cookies, I always wonder where that other cookie is I didn’t find. Every time I see a magpie sit on the post and chatter, I hope its Louie. I still find his secret hiding places with his little bits of food. I wonder if he has enough to eat. Wherever he is, we miss him and would love to have him come back to us.

Sheryl Mireles

the men of monday night

There is this little Oasis of Germany here in Los Angeles called the Alpine Village. it’s the Home of Oktoberfest, and of all things German. The waitresses wear those St. Pauli girl bodices, much to the delight of male patrons.

But I wasn’t there for the cleavage. I had in on good authority that Monday nights is free swing dancing. I headed down there to check it out.

Unbelievable. The live band was really excellent. I have been used to ska-type San Francisco swing, but these guys were mellow and sophisticated. Horns, keyboard, drums, they were pros.

I got there before my friend did, the traffic was really light. MLK day and all. So I sat down by the huge dance floor and watched the original swinger go to it.

I mean original. The median age of the dancers out there had to be in the 70s. But they could do it! Those men in their suits! And the ladies with their cute dresses and piled up hair were floating and twirling with style.

I had barely had a chance to take it all in before a fly septegenarian stepped up to my table. “Would you like to dance?” he asked. He had on zoot suit pants, a styling bow-tie and an immaculate white shirt.

I couldn’t say no! He was an amazing dancer. A really strong lead, and after a few seconds, he had me dancing things I’d never danced before.

His name was Marco, and he actually knew Robert, the friend I was waiting for. He said, “The YOUNG people usually sit over there in that corner. There is a second dance floor behind the band.”

It was all I could do to keep up with him. We danced half a dozen dances before he relinquished me. What energy!

I sat down, still looking for Robert. But I couldn’t stay there long. Another gentleman, whose name I never caught asked me to dance. He was a little more staid, but he kept up a conversation the whole time about his travels over the world.

Robert did arrive, and he and I had a great time dancing. But I am still impressed with those gentlemen.

Ladies, if you want to see real charm and remember what it’s like for a man to treat you like a queen, go down and dance with the men of monday night at the Alpine Village.

powerful names

I met some new friends this weekend…Amy and Jamie. Amy just moved here from Virginia. She is aspiring to be…a singer? an Actress? whatever works.

She was aspiring for a long time to live in LA. Now she is, so she feels like she’s made serious progress.

Her full name is Amanda, but she doesn’t like it. She said that she went by “Amanda” for a brief, weird period in time. Apparently, the guy she was dating knew a different Amy that treated him badly. He didn’t want to call her Amy, too.

That relationship ended.

But Amy was thinking that she might need a new name for her new city.

“What do you think?” she said. “I want something more powerful! Amy is a very passive name.”

Jamie was having nothing to do with this. “Your name is your name. You are who your name is. You can’t just change it!”

Well, that’s not my philosophy at all! Those of you who know me understand that I have unique naming conventions. MURPHY is not my real name…

So I looked at Amy and tried to think of more powerful names. “Rebekah?” I said.

“Hmmm…” was her response.

“Well, let’s see…you want powerful names…maybe a verb.
I have it! ‘Di’ as in Diana! That’s a powerful name!!”

Jamie didn’t think that was funny, but _I_ thought it was hilarious.

This got me thinking about action verb names. Right then, I couldn’t think of any other feminine names that were action verbs. Jamie wasn’t playing, anyway, so I let it drop.


While setting up a video conference for someone my new conference producer appears on the TV screen and introduces himself, “Hello, This is Neil. I will be your producer today.

“Neil?” I said. “That’s one of those cool action verb names.”

Neil himself was very cool. I told him that there weren’t very many female verb names, and about Amy, nee “Di”.

So we both started thinking of names. I told him they were mostly masculine names. “Like Stu.”

He smiled. “Yeah… And Phil!”

That made me laugh.

But Neil was challenged now. He had to think of girl’s names.


“Ooh! good one.”

Neil works in a big conference support pool, so he got the other guys involved in coming up with names. I walk like a wraith from conference room to conference room, so I didn’t have any help. He starts calling out the suggestions:


“Oh yeah!” I said. “Mark! How could I forget my own brother’s name?”

Things were quiet for a while. We were thinking.

It took us a while, but we came up with these names:

And, after some discussion, we included:

We were concerned that Peg and Eddie might be nouns, and Jimmy may be one of those names that became a verb because of the person who first performed that action. “To Jimmy” a lock…It may have become a verb because of the original “Jimmy” who invented that action upon the lock.


It was very amusing. And Neil was a great sport.

the 60s

Bee Gees member Maurice Gibbs passed away recently. That’s sad, he was quite young.

This has given rise to some editorial reminisces about the 60s. Collin Levey, in her article for the WSJ, said this:

“The difference is that back in the baby boomers’ youth, there were real edges of the envelope. The issues of sex and drugs and freedom and anger and war were new, and raw–they were also in the lyrics of the songs. ”

Um..Sure. Sex, Drugs, Freedom and Anger were invented by the 60s generation. What geniuses they were.

I remember when I was a pre-teen, and I heard some straight-ahead rock music for the first time. I was so excited! I thought that this was the coolest thing I had ever heard! The guitars, and the energy. I bopped around telling everyone that THIS WAS THE BEST MUSIC EVER MADE.

It wasn’t. I learned that when I grew up a little bit. There was better music out there. I gained some experience, some perspective, and was able to evaluate that music in a broader context.

I’m frustrated with narrow-minded view of history Levey’s article represents. Were the hippies the only ones to experience free love? What about the Poet, Lord Bryon? He was a proponent of free love. And George Elliot, the female writer. She gave up the Victorian ideals of marriage and lived in sin with her soulmate, who happened to be married to someone else. She was shunned for that.

Anger…it had been done before the 60s. Ever hear of the French Revolution? And freedom. I think that Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson did some stuff along that line.

Coleridge wrote his drug-induced poem, Kubla Khan, in 1797. That’s quite some time before Bob Marley.

Things happened in the 60s. If you lived through them, they may be particularly significant to you. But don’t make them more than they were! Have some respect and humility. Every person take their place in history behind some people and ahead of others.