Archive for the 'Life Improvement' Category

Family Law Burnout

Lee Rosen of Divorce Discourse posted on reaching a breaking point in family law. One of the readers commented that having another practice area can help and Rosen commented that it would only work for lawyers smart enough to handle two practice areas. My response was as follows:

I have never viewed it as being smart enough to handle more than one practice area but more of a necessity as a small town attorney. While there are practice areas which I do not handle, e.g. bankruptcy or social security, it is generally accepted in our area that attorneys handle more than one practice area. While reading your post I had the same thought as Mr. Sanderson that it is easier to avoid burnout when I can scale back my family law cases and take on cases in other areas. While I agree that it would be great to be able to focus on only one practice area, I believe there are some benefits to a varied practice so long as you are providing competent representation.

Your timeline seems accurate, I have been practicing for six years now and I do not do as much family law work at the moment. I have tried to do a better job of screening clients on the front end and establishing boundaries so I get paid and so I get fewer Sunday night phone calls when the visitation exchange did not go perfectly by the court order but the kid did come back in one piece. I think client screening is one of the most important skills regardless of practice area to maintain sanity in the workplace for attorneys and the staff that will interact with those clients.

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I highly recommend Rosen’s site and have linked to it from the inception of this site. For those of you interested in technology in the law firm, he has many excellent posts and podcasts that have helped me in my position as honorary IT manager of my small firm.

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Book Review – I’m With Fatty

Yesterday morning Hot Momma was watching Today on NBC as I was getting ready for work. An interview with some fat guy who wrote a book about being fat came on and she made sure to get my attention so that I could see the interview also. I was interested but I kind of blew her off because I was running late for work and frankly, she hurt my feelings. I know I’m fat but it is all the more painful to have the fact pointed out to you by your goddess-of-a-wife even when she loves you unconditionally and just wants what is best for you. I bought the book on my Kindle app for my iphone before I left the driveway, read 89% of it last night (on a Kindle so I don’t know how many pages that is) and finished it this morning. The book is I’m With Fatty: Losing Fifty Pounds in Fifty Miserable Weeks by Edward Ugel. You can find the Today show story here.

I started reading the book when I got home from work last night and could absolutely relate. A once athletic male becomes a middle-age overweight father whose love for food and lack of exercise has put him on a path of unhealthiness. The book chronicles Ugel’s year of wins and losses in incredibly honest detail. His description of the thought process and inner struggle that can take hold and allow a compulsive eater to make horrible food choices was eerily familiar. He also discusses starting a new exercise routine, hiring professional help, juice cleansing and colonics.

All things considered, I enjoyed this book. It made me think about my situation and ways I could use this book to further change my life for the better. You will be sorely disappointed if you are looking for a detailed meal plan and exercise routine. There are plenty of nuts and bolts books about eating less and exercising more. But this book gives an honest view of being a fat ass trying to slim down and has some laugh out loud parts too.

Personally, I found it interesting that the impetus for deciding to “get healthy” was Ugel learning from his wife that he snored and then learning from his doctor that he had sleep apnea and needed a CPAP machine. I too have a CPAP machine and I too learned of my condition thanks to my wife. The difference I guess is our reaction to the machine. Ugel was disgusted by the thought of wearing a CPAP mask and said “it was simply asking too much of my wife. Completely fat and the mask? No. She shouldn’t have to suffer through that, not even for me.” I don’t love my CPAP mask but after having it for a few years I have come to accept it. I think Hot Momma prefers me wearing the mask to hearing me snore or not hearing me breathe. But I realize that it keeps us from the kind of snuggling we used to enjoy in college. We have a king size bed and Thing 1 and Thing 2 crowd in often but there are times when it would be nice for Hot Momma and me to meet in the middle of the bed and fall asleep in a loving tangle. The CPAP is not really snuggle-friendly. So I agree with Ugel that my wife should not have to suffer through that, but I appreciate that she never makes me feel self conscious for wearing it.

I need to become the healthy man that Hot Momma and the two Things deserve (and don’t forget Thing 3 on the way). I need to become the healthy man that I deserve. I guess I’ll just have to come up with a different angle for my book chronicling my success since Ugel did a pretty good job of covering this one.

The iPad as a Laptop Replacement

I bought an iPad two weeks ago. I had been considering the purchase since the product was announced and did a fair amount of research on the product so that I would know what I was getting. Plus I already have an iPhone so I am very familiar with the interface, and so are my kids, as I’ll discuss. I have read many articles complaining that the iPad is nothing more than a huge iPhone and cannot replace a laptop for getting work done. I agree to some extent, but the fact that the iPad is like a huge iPhone is appealing to me because I like the touchscreen interface. At this point I would not scrap the laptop completely but I can see myself using my iPad for things that I used to use my netbook or bigger laptop.

I did buy the Apple Wireless Keyboard and find that it greatly improves my ability to draft longer items. The keyboard is very thin and light and is very easy to bring along with you. I find typing on the iPad screen very similar to typing on the iPhone and I have already become fairly comfortable but the wireless keyboard is much faster and allows for touch typing whereas the iPad screen keyboard seems to work better when I use more of a two finger approach.

I recently went on vacation and opted to take my iPad instead of my netbook. Here is a brief list of how I used my iPad on my vacation:

Viewing PDF files

As I have discussed before, my office has digital client files along with the paper files. I was able to load my iPad with files to review on the plane. I also loaded some magazines that I had scanned. Viewing PDF files is a much better experience on the iPad than on a netbook or laptop because of the ability to rotate the screen to read the document in portrait view rather than landscape.

Pictures

We took a lot of pictures on our trip. I used the Apple Camera Connection Kit and we were able to load pictures taken on our digital camera card and our iPhones for viewing on the iPad. The pictures look amazing on the iPad.

TV shows

I bought a season of an HBO series that I had not yet seen. It helped pass the time on the plane (when I was supposed to be viewing those client files, remember) until Thing 1 decided she wanted to watch some of the shows I had loaded on it for her. She is five years old and had no problem navigating the video app to view her shows because she is already a notch below expert at using my iPhone.

Internet Browsing

Once we were at our destination, I used the Safari app extensively to check out restaurants and attractions in addition to keeping track of the goings on with Facebook.

Kindle

The Kindle app is nice. I have a Kindle which I brought with me to use for reading outside. I also have the app on my iPhone. It is nice to be able to pick up wherever I left off on any of the platforms. I had a travel guide-book that I could use on my iPad and iPhone on my trip.

VPN + RDP

This is the thing that for me make this close to a laptop replacement. I was able to set up a VPN tunnel to our server and then use a remote desktop app to log in to my computer and the server from my iPad. There were a few issues that came up while I was out of the office and I was able to log in to the server and fix them without any problem as if  I was physically in the office. The connection is a little slow over the cellular connection but was workable and was even better when connected to Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

I often leave my bigger laptop docked at my office now anyway and would use my netbook to remote connect if needed. I still have my netbook and will probably still use it from time to time but now that I can use my iPad to remote connect I see less of  a need for the netbook. The iPad really provides a much better viewing experience than the netbook, especially for PDF files and pictures. One of the best things about traveling with the iPad was the ease of traveling with an iPad. The charging source is much smaller than with a laptop, the iPad itself is much thinner and lighter than a laptop, and I did not have to take it out of my carry-on bag at security. Unfortunately, I did still have to take off my shoes.

Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3?

In my inaugural post last year, along with a an explanation for the name of this blog I briefly introduced you to my wife, Hot Momma, and my girls, Thing 1 and Thing 2, which is of course a nod to their favorite author, Dr. Seuss. Well it appears that Thing 3 will be arriving this winter. Hot Momma, when she is not wanting to vomit, is ecstatic. I am looking forward to the experience but I am admittedly concerned about the prospects of raising three kids. I know it can be done, I know many others have raised many more, I know it will be fine. But it seems like a much bigger jump from two to three than it was from one to two. Table for four, ten minute wait. Table for five, it may be a while. Luckily, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are brilliant, as discussed here, and they should be in the running for some college scholarships to defray the high cost of college tuition. Time will tell as to what attributes and abilities Thing 3 will possess. If he/she is anything like his/her older sisters, he/she will be pretty awesome. (We will find out the gender of Thing 3 prior to his/her arrival but it is still too early to tell)

In May I posted about ONE Extraordinary Marriage, a new website dealing with marriage and intimacy building. Thanks to Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo, our marriage is very fulfilling and I believe we are better able to deal with the challenges of raising three kids while keeping up with all of the other demands of life. I just bought their new book, Stripped Down, and look forward to reading it with my wife to continue our efforts to maintain our marriage.

After You Clean Your Desk, Clean Your Office (and Your Computer)

Lawyerist.com seems to have a theme going. Today I read Improve Your Practice with an Uncluttered Office which also referenced the clean desk article I previously discussed. One point of the article is that clutter wastes time and the author states that “Even “paperless” offices can have computer clutter, making it difficult to find a particular form, template or motion that you know you did, but that you cannot remember where or how you saved it.”

I think that digital clutter is even more of a problem that physical clutter. There is only so much space to hold physical junk, even the people profiled on A&E’s show Hoarders have to cram their belongings into whatever size space they have available. But with digital junk it is much easier to let things pile up, even if you do not have a medically diagnosed pathological condition (but if you do, here are some resources).  Hard drive space is relatively cheap these days and it is so easy to save multiple drafts of documents, scan every piece of paper that enters your life and worst of all copy all of these files to another folder so that you end up with multiple versions of the same file.

I spent hours yesterday, letting the process run in the background while I did actual legal work,  transferring files from several different external hard drives onto one big network drive and I plan to go through the files at some point to purge duplicate and unneeded files. Our office servers have not been cleaned up in quite a while either but it seems like such a daunting task to undertake. I am probably the only person in the office who knows how much open hard drive space we have and I’m sure there are few people around the office that give any thought to creating duplicate files, either intentionally or by accident.

Another reason I think digital clutter is worse than physical clutter is the time required to sort and review the files, especially if they have nondescript file names. I can pick up a stack of paper and run through it pretty quickly to see that it can all be trashed but it could take considerably more time to process a group of Word document or PDF files if the file names do not provide enough information. I am still looking for some quality file preview software that would allow me to see what the file contains without having to open the file in the native program. I have used Explorer View with good results but I am interested to see what other people are using on their Windows computers for this function. I am also in need of some affordable (or free) duplicate file fixing software that can scan network drives.

How do you handle digital clutter? What are your recommendations for software to help with this problem? I would appreciate any insight you have.

Catching Up With Fat Daddy

It’s been a while since I checked in around here and if anyone out there was disappointed I apologize. It has been a very busy month but things are getting back to normal, sort of.

Hot Momma has been putting in a lot of time in her small business which has required me to spend some more time with the kids and around the house. Luckily I am able to telecommute relatively easily and have a fairly flexible schedule.

Thing 1 is constantly amazing us with her intelligence and abilities while Thing 2 is staring to blossom into a little person with her own personality. I guess my only complaint is that they both seem to have extreme early-onset  pre-pubescent attitude disorder. If things don’t go their way, watch out. But shortly after their blowup they return to sweet, pleasant little girls.

I have continued to take pictures of every meal for my Photo Food Journal and have had mixed results. This past month there has been a lot of stress with my job and Hot Momma’s business so my emotional eating tendencies crept in a little more than I would like. But because I was documenting through photographs everything I ate I was still more mindful of my meals and did not backslide as much as I may have in the past. I had more burgers and pizza this past month but still stayed away from candy and other total junk.

I plan to devote more energy to establishing a consistent exercise regimen now that my world has calmed down a little. I am far from a morning person but that seems to be the only time I can consistently devote to exercise. So not only do I have to start a new exercise habit, I have to start a new getting my fat butt out of bed early habit.

I read another book last month: The Eat-Clean Diet for Men by Robert Kennedy and Tosca Reno. I thought it had some useful information and some interesting recipes. One particular part really got me:

“The human body is designed to be vital, robust, active and brimming with physicality – that urge to run, fly, swim and simply do is part of the joy of being human. The tragedy comes when the body is no longer capable of completing these actions. It does not make sense to reject the simple logic that consuming more nutritious foods will help you turn your life around, enabling you to once again feel the expression of joy rather than sorrow.”

There are so many things that I would like to do that I am not capable of doing with my present body or if I am capable it is much more difficult than it could be. Tomorrow is a new day and the work towards a more vital body and a more satisfying life awaits.

Progress Report

Well, it is the end of March and I am happy to report that I am well on my way to being fat. Since March 1st I have lost nine pounds. As of breakfast I have 134 pictures in my photo food journal.  From the pictures I can see that 72% of my meals were prepared at home and 28% of my meals were prepared in a commercial setting. I can see that I had pizza for dinner (or breakfast) eleven times and I had five cheeseburgers during the month. I think that the pictures have really helped me quickly evaluate my diet and it also makes me more conscious of my eating since I take a picture of every little snack, which lately has caused me to skip the bad snacks altogether.

Leo Babauta at zenhabits.net posted a habit change cheatsheet; a few of the tips include: 1) Do just one habit at a time, 2) Start small and 3) Do a 30-day Challenge. I spent a month working to stop biting my fingernails, now two months later my fingernails are photo-ready. I spent a month working on keeping track of my meals through photos, now I am much more aware of my meals and as I said I am slightly slimmer. For April I think I am going to focus on establishing a better exercise routine (which in all honesty “better” would be spending ten minutes a day doing any physical activity).

I read two books on food this month, Food Matters by Mark Bittman and The Eat Clean Diet for Family and Kids by Tosca Reno. They both had their good points. I think I like Bittman’s 80/20 approach better than Reno’s 100% approach to clean eating. I also was less interested in the environmental concerns expressed in Bittman’s book than I am about the impact of food on my body directly. Both were helpful in advancing my knowledge on the subject. (DISCLAIMER: The links are not affiliate links, I haven’t gotten around to setting anything like that up yet.)