Thursday, May 27, 2010

No to Soft Drinks

Sugary drinks' link to high blood pressure. (Thanks, Instapundit.)

Growing up, my mom never had soft drinks in the house, never Cokes for example, and she was from Atlanta. The only exception was ginger ale when we were sick. There was also a soft drink called Squirt she would get - not often but sometimes - when we were not feeling well. Those came in 4 oz. bottles. But otherwise, no soft drinks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Some Sweet Moments in Austin

So, another thing I love about Austin. It is where my family IS. It is where we have been laughing, crying, playing and sleeping for almost 5 years now.
I love that my son's soccer field is both right next to Town Lake and right next to downtown. And, I love my house and its location. I love that my son's kindergarten librarian has about 8 piercings in her right ear and that her hair is dyed black and white and that she LOVES, LOVES, LOVES books. I love that we will be walking Aidan to school next year most likely along with our across-the-street neighbor. And speaking of neighbors, I love that on my street of 18 houses, 10 of them have children 6 and under. I love that I love my neighbor moms. We are such a smorgasbourd, (how on earth DO you spell that word?). I look forward to meeting with all my fellow neighbor moms each month so we can have book club, (where we discuss books, eat good food, drink good wine and share with one another the triumphs and heartbreaks of parenthood). I love where we live. I love that the people in our city are more often than not committed to being good stewards of the earth (our reasons may vary widely, but I enjoy living around others who take this call to responsibility and stewardship seriously). I love how many amazing restaurants there are in town that are unique and homegrown (not to say that I don't like chains, too...let's hear it for Chuy's and their roasted veggies burrito!) I love how green it is, how many trees there are (even if they are all gnarled and squat, at least there's a lot of them, right?)

I love living here. I love that my family LIVES here, and since pictures of bookclub are not that interesting, here's some pictures of my family living here, in Austin.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Things I Love in Austin...the first post

This is what I saw on my way to Town Lake (which has officially been voted "Ladybird Lake", but I just can't make the transition). You can't really see it, but that entire little lower bar to the stroller has deep maroon fringe hanging from it. This is the most "pimped" stroller I have EVER seen.

This is the beginning of the trail I run at Town Lake. The section I run about 4 times a week is 3.1 miles. If I ran to the next further bridge to cross over the river (which is a section of "The Colorado River" and which is at this point called either Town Lake or the aforementioned Ladybird Lake), it would be 4.17 miles. If I ran another bridge further it would be 4.82 miles. The longest route is either 10 miles or 13, I can't remember. Maybe someday I will run it. But for now, I am enjoying pushing myself to go faster and stronger on my little 5k section.

This is what I see when I have reached Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge (my midway point). On this particular day, I got to be there when the sun was rising. It was lovely, and so nice outside: mid 50's, cool breeze. It would only have been better if I had had the bonus of getting to have Macon run with me. This day, I was alone. (Unless you count, Michael Jackson, Rob Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love, Linkin' Park, Kelly Clarkson, the Dixie Chicks and others who run with me often.)

These last two pictures are what I see when I come to the end of my run and look either way off the last pedestrian bridge.

I love Town Lake Trail. What a beautiful place to run. Lately the trail has been heavy with green. I love the peace, I love that no matter what time I am there, there are always other people running, walking, biking...pushing single, double and even triple jogging strollers! I love that the dirt trail is soft on my legs and doesn't pound back against me like the streets around my house. I love that I have grown to not only love how I feel after the run, but also how I feel on the run when I am there.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Strongarm" Alumnus Publishes

Jason Berggren, formerly of the band Strongarm, has made a splash with his 10 Things I Hate about Christianity.

Walter was one of the band's early promoters.

Here's the website for the book.

Slow Rehiring

This is a good article to which Instapundit linked concerning the very slow pace of re-employment.

In our own office we laid off two secretaries early last year, and have only lately upped the head-count by moving a part-timer to a full-time clerk/receptionist position. In part not rehiring two full-time secretaries arises from a partner leaving. On the other hand, a barely full-time associate has been transitioning to complete full-time as she completes some extra schooling which we funded for her. She will very soon replace the partner in terms of "billable hours" contributed.

Taking up part of the slack has been an increasing use by the "time-keepers" (the lawyers and paralegals) of the advanced software that we have. We simply don't need clerks to finish off a lot of the work - we can do it ourselves because of the technology at hand. We continue to edge up the learning curve with that technology.

Finally, the layoffs we made were of people who were barely performing anyway. In fact, we laid them off not because the recession had bitten into revenues, but because it made us stop and think about the overhead issue. We laid them off because we realized that we could do without them. And we have become less tolerant of average performers, as these two people barely were.

I wouldn't be surprised if in some respects we are a microcosm of what is happening in some areas of the private-sector economy where people are not being hired back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why We Live in South Florida

One reason, anyway. Rick Tuttle took this photo of the sun coming up off Miami Beach.

A Few More Miles to go Before I Sleep, God Willing

In the class I teach each year at the UM Law School in its Masters of Laws in Estate Planning program, I recently met a student who was not all that younger than I, a man who, after a varied and interesting business career, decided to go to law school five years ago. He told me about being inspired to go back to law school by the then "oldest lawyer in Massachusetts."

I searched for such a lawyer, and found his obit. His name was Reuben Landau. He died in late 2007 at the age of 103.

(I note that he changed his diet after having a heart attack while he was in his fifties.)

UPDATE: As I think about this gentleman, I also note that a son of his was in his firm. What joy that must have been each day for him to come to the office and work with his son. I stayed away from encouraging my children to go into the legal profession. I didn't discourage them, but I wanted to stay out of the way of the calls that God might offer them. Part of my reluctance, though, was that I found the practice to be so difficult, and I'm sure I let that show at home. Particularly difficult was the period during which I was a partner in the Miami office of an international law firm located in New York City. The boys were in their teen years at that time. When that firm closed their Miami office and pushed me out on the street, I began to discover how much fun it was to be a lawyer. By then Macon and Walter were out of the nest. Mary, however, gave law school a bit of a look. At least she seemed to enjoy wearing the "Chicago Law" sweat shirt I brought back from a reunion years ago.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS)

Here I thought high frequency radio transmission (HF) was so yesterday that only aging amateur radio operators used it. Now I read in the May 2010 QST Magazine that

HF NVIS propagation has been battlefield proven in the Balkans, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a method of communicating over mountains that you can't put VHF repeaters on. It has gained traction and is used for EmComm in the US, especially if conditions take out repeaters.

"VHF" means "very high frequency" and transmissions on VHF are good for line of sight communications only. "Repeaters" are what our cell phone systems depend upon.

The HF bands are between the broadcast bands at the lower end and the TV bands at the upper. (The TV bands are VHF and some U[ltra]HF.) HF bands are usually thought of as DX (long distance) frequencies, because the radio waves at those frequencies can "skip" several times back and forth off the ionosphere and the surface of the earth until they reach literally around the world. The radio wave that skips this way is called a "skywave." (I have discussed the miracle of propagation before.)

(Sometimes you can hear a transmission from someone that skips both ways - that is you hear the person from both directions - very nearly simulataneously. Very nearly is the key phrase, because one transmission is just a bit delayed: it would have traveled a little further than the other, unless the transmission originated exactly half way around the world from you. Thus, those sort of transmissions have a sort of echo.)

Usually if you are making an HF transmission, you want your antenna to be as high off the ground as possible, so that the radiation is a nearly as horizontal as it can be. This gives the signal a good bit of distance to travel before it bounces of the atmosphere the first time. Furthermore, the angle of the radiation when it hits the ionosphere will be acute.

But if your antenna is on or near the ground (that is, 1/4 wavelength or lower), the signal tends to go mainly up ("near vertical), hit the ionosphere, and then bounce back down (thus the "near vertical incidence skywave" or NVIS). If the incidence of the skywave were exactly vertical, then you couldn't reach anyone with your signal unless he was standing beside you. But the skywave is never completely vertical, so an HF NVIS can travel, according to the QST report, out to about 1000 miles.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Competent Person's Worst Enemy


I see this everywhere. I see this in myself.

It applies in all contexts, whether one is a competent lawyer, a competent husband, a competent church elder - you name the role one that one may assume from time time and think he discharges very well. Arrogance is incredibly corrosive.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Let's Make Plans!

The New World Symphony will open its new Miami Beach facility in January.

On January 30, NWS founder and artistic director will conduct Modeste Mussorgky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" . . .

-From today's Herald.

This is So Bad!, of course.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Catching up on Un-Related: Design Matters to Me

Jason Santa Maria's design bibliography. Macon points to it here.

Why would it seem that the older I get, the more important design seems to be? Maybe it's just my perception and forgetfulness, and that it has always been important. But now, with the fires banking and the energy seeming to settle, a good design simply makes it easier to get into a matter, easier to access. I don't have to fight through all the clutter of bad presentation. But for design to be "good" in this respect, it needs to get me to function quickly. Or to meaning. Or to function and meaning. Or maybe function and meaning are the same. I don't know. But good design makes it easier to get there.

I need some help here.

What's an API call, for one thing?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

How about this deal?

Government gets completely out of the health care business (it simply hands out a limited number of "health care stamps" to needy US citizens), abortion is NOT classified as a medical procedure for purposes of using those stamps (except in the case of abortions necessary to save the life of the mother), no medical person is required to render abortion services nor pharmacist to fill an abortion prescription, and "choice" continues to be the law.

Would someone please make the connection between the Arizona situation and our anti-marijuana laws?

For example, please connect the dots presented here.

Where is capital flowing?

In my practice, I see a lot of investment portfolios that are managed by professionals. The basic portfolio is apportioned ("allocated") mainly between stocks ("equities") and bonds ("fixed income securities"). There are other allocations in most portfolios today, such as, for example, real estate and commodities, but I would like to talk about the "equity" portion of the portfolio, which is usually a very large portion, sometimes 60% or more, depending on the objectives (and the risk tolerance) of the investor.

Over the last 30 years, I have seen the equity portion move from investments mainly in US "large cap" stocks to a situation now where at least half of the stock portion is allocated to overseas stocks. Of the overseas stocks, which were initially European and Japanese stocks, an increasing portion over the last 25 years or so has been allocated to "emerging markets," that is to stocks from China, India, Brazil, Thailand, and so on. (Actually, China, India, and Brazil are no longer considered "emerging" in many portfolios. Those countries are prominent, of course; they are now considered to have "emerged.")

Initially the reason I heard for stock investing overseas was "non-correlation." That is, the stock prices, say, in Tokyo generally would not correlate with the stock prices on the NY Stock Exchange. Thus, when our market was down, Japan's market was up, and the volatility of the portfolio was dampened as a result (which is a good thing). But that reason for investing overseas has pretty much gone by the board as we have moved into a more-or-less single, one world market place.

Now one invests overseas because one is likely to get a better return, even when adjusting for risk. I never quite made the connection between the amateur-investment-policy-observer part of me and the amateur-economist part of me until this post from Instapundit. People are increasingly going overseas with their investment dollars because they are finding economies there that favor a better return. In other words, you can get more for your money outside the US. That's pretty sad.