In short: Crazy week, nice weekend.
As I said at the beginning of the month, I have the Mental Hygiene calendar for the month of May. Every Thursday, a judge conducts hearings or signs orders regarding the commitment and treatment of mentally ill patients. Usually these are civil commitments, but there are a handful of people who were committed after being adjudicated "not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect" for a crime. Mostly these are retention proceedings, to keep a patient in a mental facility, or proceedings to authorize treatment over a patient's objections. Being, basically, the law firm for the State, our office handles proceedings for patients in state facilities. (A separate legal services office represents the patients.)
For various reasons, we generally don't know for certain until Wednesday afternoon whether there will be any hearings on that Thursday. This week, though, I'd known in advance that I would have a fairly large hearing on Thursday, so I spent much of the week getting myself and my witnesses prepared. On Wednesday I found out that I would have one other hearing. And then I found out that maybe I wasn't going to have the first hearing after all. So I spent Wednesday afternoon trying to figure out what was going on—while still, of course, prepping my witnesses, because a trial lawyer lives and dies by preparation. Especially me. I hate doing things on the fly. After I did a bit of prep on the other hearing and was heading home, I heard that the first hearing was going to be postponed. Great. So I went home, did more prep on my lone hearing, and then collapsed into bed.
Thursday morning I go to court, along with my colleague who's come to metaphorically hold my hand, since this will be my first hearing. And before my one and only scheduled hearing, I discover that I will have another two hearings, on matters that I know squat about.
Did I mention that I hate doing things on the fly?
Everything turned out okay in the end, despite my doing one incredibly embarrassing thing. (Finish the direct examination of the psychiatrist: "Your Honor, no further questions." "Counselor: this is also a proceeding for [something else that I didn't talk about at all]!" Watch Kate turn red and fumble a transition question badly, getting another sharp correction from the judge! See Kate wish she could crawl under a table and die!) Well, it was definitely an interesting experience, and I got some great tips from my co-worker afterwards. I really wish I didn't get so drained after being in court, though; I'm basically useless for the rest of the day, at least.
I also picked up a couple of short-term, short-deadline research projects this week, which are both interesting (even if with one of them, I'm frantically learning about X in the fervent hope that a case involving X will not materialize). With the usual business of my job, it's shaping up to be a busy few weeks.
Despite that, I purposefully did not bring any work home this weekend. I had a long weekend, we weren't going anywhere or having any company, and I just wanted to unwind, at which I was moderately successful. Saturday we went car shopping; I really want a hybrid, and so we went to see whether Chad could actually fit in the driver's seat of one. He can drive the Prius, somewhat uncomfortably, but that's better than the Civic, which he can't drive at all. (I'll be the one driving it most of the time, but it's silly to get a car that Chad cannot drive in an emergency.) Then we bought lots of books and came home. I did more research on the Prius, and after dinner, we watched two DVDs. Actually, we only watched part of one, Ronin's "alternate ending"; we rented it solely because we could not imagine what alternate ending there might be. Well, we couldn't imagine it because it was terrible. If you at all liked the ending of Ronin, do not watch the alternate ending. I've expended a considerable amount of effort trying to pretend I never saw it, without complete success. On a happier note, the DVD of This Is Spinal Tap is extremely silly; the voiceovers of the band members, in character, are terrific. There's also another hour of outtakes, practically an entire movie in itself.
Sunday I bought clothes for work (two skirts, two linen/rayon shirts that I absolutely adore, plus a sweater on clearance for home, most satisfying) and then sat on our new swing, for the first time since we bought it, and read most of the new Pratchett novel. Went to bed early, but woke up thirsty and then was awake for far too long, plus I had bad dreams all weekend.
Today I did a lot of cooking, updated the book log with the new Pratchett, and that was about it. Today was chocolate chip cookies for when Chad has his advisees over this week (he had this term's class over Thursday, which was fun), and parmesan-garlic risotto with baked chicken (I love risotto. This needed more garlic, though.). This week, I also tried papersky's method for cheese sauce; in brief, instead starting with a roux, just cook the butter, flour, and milk together. It worked a treat, even with the different proportions from my original recipe (1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups milk, 2 cups cheese, 2 cups macaroni = great mac & cheese), and it was indeed much faster and easier. Thanks!
A few links that caught my eye this week:
- An eyewitness account of the bomb going off at Yale Law School, and one professor's comments on the aftermath (thanks for the condolences, by the way)
conversation about disaster studies and why human nature is
selfless under the right conditions (NYT link):
" . . . Exhibit 3: The World Trade Center, which was
the largest waterborne evacuation in the history of the United
States. A half a million people evacuated Lower Manhattan by water
and there was no plan for it. People in barges, sailboats and
ferries with no instructions put into the port after seeing those
buildings on fire. If you're out in the water in a pleasure craft
and you see those buildings on fire, in a strictly rational sense,
you should head to New Jersey. Instead people went into potential
danger and rescued strangers. That's social."
I did not know that, and found it really striking.
- For readers of the Exordium books, by Sherwood Smith and Dave Trowbridge: some of the visions on Desrien were cut from the series for length. There are links to them on Sherwood Smith's page. (I haven't had time to read them yet.)