December 11th, 2004

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Judges sashaying to the swinging beat

As Vice President of the Garland Bar Association, I have essentially one duty. I am in charge of the holiday party. Last night was the Garland Bar Association Holiday Party. I read LiveJournals of people who organize and run functions and events. They cope with dragons, they solve crises, and they make home-made tarts for 300.

I am not so note-worthy. Last year, when my partner was in the vice president's role, one of our staff folks did all the arrangements for the party. As she was a dab hand at this, she handled all the arrangements this year, assisted by our other staff folks. I handled the really "difficult" part. They handed me the menu for the buffet, and I selected among the meat and vegetable entrees. I also attended meetings when we worked out how much we could spend, and I met with the local country club about what we needed to do. In short, I was as close to superfluous to the process as any Vice President could ever be.

When my wife and I arrived at the party, quite early, some seventy-something pre-filled name tags were
on the greeting table. The woman at our office who set everything up had had the names hand-calligraphed,
with a little insignia pasted on. Judges got a holiday coin sticker. Lawyers got the justice scales.
Civilians got snowflakes. I told my wife how cool I thought it was that she got to wear a flake badge.

We worried, as the early arrivals began, that attendance would be way down. Whispered rumours soon travelled through the room that Friday night was also the holiday party of the city's largest plaintiff's asbestos firm. Asbestos lawyers theoretically run a larger budget tathering than our little group, and we even heard rumours that the Beach Boys and other worthies (including musicians from the beach/surf era I had commonly assumed to be dead, and hence might have been of Christmases Past) had been booked to appear at the party. I thought that judges, presented with the chance to have fun until Daddy took the T Bird away, might eschew our modest celebration. Then the bulk of the folks started arriving, just like Whos in Whoville.

Soon, the party room was filled with lawyers, judges, politicans and spouses. We all tripped the light fantastic down the buffet, where, from turkey to roll to bread pudding, all was delightful. Although my one public duty during the party was to hand out to the past president the plaque for his fine work, our current president had such a cool tuxedo on that I prevailed upon him to perform this task. He forgot that the person nominally in charge of the party was me rather than my partner, so he thanked my partner for my fine work, as well as the staff person. It did not matter to me, much, because everyone closely involved realized that our staff person handled all the key ingredients anyway.

The country dance band was led by a recovering lawyer named Bubba. I must admit that "Blue Christmas" is not my kind of song, but soon the small dance floor was filled with the scene of judges sashaying to the beat. We did not dance. I was tempted to write something really colorful about how the scene of judges dancing reminded me of some ghostly scene from a Harry Potter movie, but actually, the truth is that everyone was just folks, really, and good folks at that.

One local justice of the peace, whom we knew before the robes were fitted, told us about the wedding he performed of a couple in night clothes and house slippers, and how the Judge Judy show combs his docket each month or two, hunting for litigants to televise. I had a good discussion with our "of counsel" lawyer's relatively new husband, in which we shared Baja California stories and longings.

All in all, it went well, and I seem to have dodged the bullets of embarrassment or incompetence such functions can shoot at one. But the most credit I can take is---I can take no credit.

Next year, as president elect, I will collect up the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education forms after
our monthly meeting, and mail them to Austin for accreditation. When you run with the big dogs, you do the big dog duties.
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Simple rules and complex harmonies

On the way to my office, I stopped in the Guatelamalan bakery, for a few bread-y morning things. I also picked up the Dallas Observer. I skipped by the headlines (turns out, by the way, that suburban commuters trains are slower than driving, the trains have not made Dallas into Toronto, and religious charlatans still take money from people) to the classified ads. I found what I was looking for.

Today I made it to my office a bit after 11. I drafted some things I needed to draft, and got one "out the door" via e mail. As I revised yet another document, I placed into the
cassette player my recently-recorded awful cassette of Christmas classics. It had that certain "I cannot say what" to which I aspired, although as with most of my creative output I fear that I will be much more amused than any other audience.

I follow a simple rule about small businesses on line. I sent them e mails to make sure they are still in business, prior to sending them a CD to duplicate or similar thing. My Monday e mail to the folks who duplicated my "Vibrating Electric Fields" CD, checking to make sure they were still up and running, went unanswered. I used the Dallas Observer classfieds to hunt out other prospects. I found a place in Austin, Texas who sounded like just the ticket, and whose pricing was sufficiently modest to make the whole thing workable.
I fired them off an e-mail, because kazoos played off key at Christmas cannot be denied. Mitigated? Perhaps. But never denied. Best played at low volumes, with ears protected by plugs.

I got a kind note from an eBay buyer. I had found myself behind a few days getting a sci fi book sale mailed. Yesterday I got a rather vigorous e mail, fretting about it. One refund and one mailing later, the buyer was in a different state of mind. Sometimes accepting responsibility prompts acceptance of responsibility.

Now I'm off to Federal Express, and then to take a long walk through a wetlands trail.
I'm tempted to take photographs, although I have too many cameras full of photos already.
Maybe the pinhole which is my mind will say "snap", but that phrase reads all wrong somehow.