Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vacation in the Sun - Day One

There's just no hope for this, with school bearing down on me and no end in sight to the legal work, I'm just going to have to throw the pix up on-line and do a very brief explanation.
The day after Christmas we joined M's sister and family on Marco Island, Florida. We flew into Miami and rented a car. The rental was reserved and paid for in full ahead of time and yet when we arrived they didn't have a car for us (so they claimed) and kept trying to get us to pay for an upgrade. They tried to tell us that rentals aren't guaranteed unless you pay for them in full up front. When we proved we did pay in full up front, they had nothing to say. We need to file a complaint with the BBB.

So we drove west out of Miami, which by the way, has really confusing streets. There are streets, roads, avenues, blvds. with all the same names, and east, west, north, south in front of them. So say you're on 34St N and you need to get to 8th Blvd. W, you will see 34St, 34th Ave., 8th St., 8th Ave. all while trying to find 8th Blvd. Once we got lost and looped the area a couple of times we realized avenues ran north and south, streets ran east and west, and major thoroughfares in the middle of the city were the dividing lines between north and south, and east and west. It's actually a very logical system if you know that going into it, but if you have a crappy rental car map that only shows the names of roads every 20 blocks or so, you can't see the big picture how things are laid out. That said, we eventually found our way out of Miami and drove west through Everglades National Park to get to the Gulf side of the peninsula and Marco Island.

Marco Island is a resort community for people with lots of money. I felt really out of place there. We shared a condo rental with M's sister and family that was older and not like the fancier high rises in the middle of town, and it was facing the beach. It was very comfortable and we could just pop downstairs and go to the beach at any time. I'll show you pix of it later and impress you with the beautiful beach they had there.

First, I'll show you our deep sea fishing photos. The first day we were on Marco Island we went a few miles into the Gulf on a fishing boat to try our hands at fishing. We caught tons of beautiful and a few weird looking fish. I caught my obligatory one fish with the first line I dropped and that was enough for me. I spent the rest of the time taking pictures.

While we were fishing a mama dolphin began following our boat. Initially we were full of the oohs and aahhhs at seeing a dolphin. It was even more special when her baby joined her and we could see the baby nursing from her in the water. Then we quickly realized she was following the boat to get our fish. As soon as she saw a fish on any of our lines, she dove for the fish. Next it became an adventure in fishing to see if you could reel your line in quicker than the dolphin could steal your fish. Quite funny actually. So below are the pix leaving the harbor, catching bait fish in a net on the way out and some of the fish we caught. I also included a number of shots of the dolphins. The mama has the cut off top fin, probably from getting too close to a boat's motor, and the baby is next to her in a couple of shots. The final shots are of some of the birds in the harbor when we came back. Sorry I'm not putting comments next to each photo, just no time. The next post I'll show you the condo and the beach, plus the trip through the swamp.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lessons to learn

So apparently one of my New Year's Resolutions should have been to learn how to say no and not take on too many jobs. Either that, or as I get older, I'm just not as able to focus and get to the work at hand. Whatever the reason, I'm busy and school starts back next week. I'm trying to finish up legal stuff and tax stuff for clients before next week, thus my absence on the blogs. Oh well.

Until I can manage to squeeze out enough time to finish the vacation post, here's a fun calculator so you can feel worse about your income. I used it and found out Mitt Romney earned as much in a day and a half (work hours) as I made in a year. His tax rate is also half of mine, yet raising taxes on the rich or making taxes on investments higher would be unfair somehow. How is it fair that he gets to pay less in taxes than any average worker? I just don't get it.

Salary Calculator

Friday, January 20, 2012

Popping In

Just checking in. Would you believe I've been swamped with work, during my break? Ugh. So that's why I haven't posted on the vacation yet. I've got the pictures loaded, just haven't had time to write. While you're waiting on me to juggle my workload yet again, here's something that caught my attention. I don't agree with all he says, but I found a little bit of a kindred spirit here because I believe in God, but I don't believe in organized religion.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sorting pictures

I know, Larena says I'm supposed to share vacation pictures. I've been sorting through them and playing with them on Photoshop, they're almost ready for a post. I will post 4 of the shell shots I took. The beach we vacationed on had TONS of shells of various colors. There were also sand dollars, but we only found broken ones. I haven't found an intact sand dollar since I was little and walked the beach at St. Petersburg, FL with my grandmother. Anyway, enjoy the pix. Oh, and Michele, I did 6.2 miles in 82 minutes today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rick Santorum

You would think when someone is running for President of the United States there would be a certain amount of decorum as befits the lofty office of the President. You would expect candidates to run as if they plan to represent and protect the rights of all citizens, not just some of them. You would expect people who vote for a candidate to judge whether they will do a good job representing the interests of all Americans, not just some of them. I know, I'm living in a fantasy world, however, on what freaking planet is Rick Santorum a viable candidate for President of the United States?!

Here are some of Mr. Santorum's stances on various issues:

Birth control / contraception: 1. No sex for married couples unless you're trying to have a child. 2. No contraception for anyone for any reason. I guess a woman in his world view shouldn't have the right to control her own body. I guess he doesn't understand birth control is used to alleviate many female reproductive issues and is not used simply to control birth. And who the hell does he think he is coming into the bedrooms of married couples and telling them when they can have sex? It's guys like Santorum, who are so religiously nuts, that gives religion a bad name. story

Homosexuality: Mr. Santorum believes a man who is in prison and has abandoned his children is better than two gay, loving, supportive parents for a child. No, seriously, he really did say that, he really does believe that. story

Racism: Mr. Santorum believes Black people are different from white people, and that they're shiftless, lazy, and taking government handouts. story What century is this guy living in? Have his knit sweater vests cut off circulation to his brain? His stance on so many issues is so backward, so offensive, I'm really stunned people are actually supporting him. Do they understand who this guy is? If this guy were a Muslim saying all this, people would be going nuts about all this, but because he labels himself a conservative Christian, well, that's okay. No it's not. It's not okay for anyone, of any faith, to come into my home and tell me how to live. It's not okay for anyone of any faith to try to change the laws and force me to live according to the tenets of their religion. *long scream*

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Reviews

For Christmas I received two books, which in and of itself was either a very brave or very foolish move on Santa's part because I literally have an entire bookshelf of books I've received for the last 3 Christmases that I have yet to find time to read. That said, since we immediately went on a week's vacation the day after Christmas, I took one of my new books with me and read it in just over 2 days, and it's a very thick book.

The book I received and quickly devoured was _The Scottish Prisoner_ by Diana Gabaldon. You may have read a review of one of her books here before, if you've been reading me for a number of years. There are only two authors that I have read this extensively, Diana Gabaldon and Taylor Caldwell. Gabaldon's books are very heavy on history, moderate on medicine and politics, and light on time travel. Sounds like an odd combination, but they really do work well together. Gabaldon's main series of books are the Outlander series about Jamie and Claire Fraser. Claire accidentally stumbles through time through one of those ancient rock formations in Scotland and the Outlander series follows her adventures in post-WWII Europe and 1700s Scotland and America. It's an excellent series and I devour each book that comes out and there are many. I feel like her Outlander series is like the Harry Potter series for adults. Here's a link to her website: Diana Gabaldon website

So the Scottish Prisoner is not actually from the Outlander series, even though Jamie Fraser is a main character in this book. The Scottish Prisoner is from her side-series about Lord John Gray. He's a minor character from the Outlander series who was so popular, that she began writing a series of books about his adventures. What I enjoyed about the Scottish Prisoner was not only another story about John Gray that helps round out his character and life history, but also that Jamie Fraser was included. There were huge gaps in Jamie Fraser's life story from the Outlander series that were filled in, in the Scottish Prisoner. So if you are a fan of the Outlander series, you should read the Scottish Prisoner to add to your knowledge about Jamie. If you haven't read any of her books, this book can stand on its own as a good story. The Scottish Prisoner, like many of Gabaldon's books is heavy on intrigue of the Jacobite uprising of the 1700s Scotland and England. I have every book of the Outlander series and most of the books from the John Gray series. I haven't read a bad book from Gabaldon yet. She is an excellent storyteller and the pace of her books is excellent as well. I would recommend any of her books, but would recommend the Outlander series first. If any of you locals would like to borrow one, I'm happy to share, even though the last person I loaned a book to never returned it and it's been 4 years. I've since purchased a replacement. Oh, and her Outlander series is so complex and interesting, I've easily read each book at least 3 times because each time I read them, I pick up more information that I missed in previous reads.

After I finished the Gabaldon book, for the last couple of days of our vacation, I was working on my appellate case that I had to argue when we returned from vacation. By the time we made it to the airport to fly home, I was burned out on the legal reading and decided to pick up something else to read at the airport. I was planning on getting a magazine when this book, _Sarah's Key_ caught my eye. Just before leaving school for Christmas break, a professor told me he'd seen the movie, _Sarah's Key_ and thought it was fantastic. So I grabbed the book and read it in just about a day. I can honestly say this is a very good story, a good plot, a good mystery and it unfolds nicely. There are things that happen in the story that are harsh realities that help make this piece of fiction believable. That said, there is one character and one plot line in the book that is not fleshed out enough to make it believable. This one character and his storyline attempt to tie up the book in a "happily ever after ending" that is not believable and honestly, very irritating. It was like someone slapped an ending on this story from another book, or the author got tired and just tied things up quickly. The ending was the more so disappointing because all the rest of the story was so enjoyable. I felt cheated by a poorly written ending. I would still recommend this book because everything but the last few pages are good. I also enjoyed this story because my area of historical interest is genocides. I learned something about the Holocaust that I didn't know prior to reading this book. I went looking for a fact based book about this particular incident, the Vel D'Hiv roundup and the only books I could find on it were written in French. If you're put off on books on the Holocaust, don't be with this one. Yes, there are some things in the story that are tragic, but this story focuses more on the culpability of French citizens when they were occupied by the Nazis, and the cultural ignorance and denial that is present in society all these years later. IMDB Sarah's Key

So with all this reading of late, I decided to begin reading the other book I received for Christmas, _Rin Tin Tin - The Life and the Legend_. Anyone who knows me would think this is the perfect book for me. The book starts out on the battlefields of WWI when Rin Tin Tin and his sister are found in a bombed out kennel in France. History, a good thing in a book for me. Rinty, as Rin Tin Tin later is called by his owner, is a German Shepherd. I LOVE German Shelpherds, as anyone who knows me also knows. This should be an excellent book for me. This book also follows Rinty's career in Hollywood of the 1930s and the succeeding generations of his pups who carry on the family business. So far, I'm about a third of the way through this book and it's horrible! The writing is very slow, goes off on tangents about the author's personal life, and the writing is pedantic and annoying. I will keep reading this book in hopes it will pick up the pace and redeem itself, but at the present, all I want to do with the book is beat the author up side the head with it. How could you ruin such a potentially good story like that? NPR story

Thursday, January 5, 2012


One of the other things I'm trying to make more time for, besides reading and home improvement stuff, is exercise. M and I began "jogging" last January as a New Year's resolution to get in better shape and live healthier lives. On the anniversary of that slow beginning, I am happy to announce I jogged 5.2 miles today. It took me 67 minutes to do it, that's just under 13 minutes miles, but I'm so happy that I was able to go that far. It's been all I could do to just make 3 miles each day. The most I've jogged has been 3.8 miles, so this was a big deal for me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The big, bad appellate case is finally behind me. I can breathe again. I can sleep in. I can read books, visit with friends, be an actual human being and not a bee-otch. New posts coming soon.

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...