Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BINGO BINGO BINGO in Bismarck!!!

I finally won at Bingo! We haven't gone in probably a month or more because people have been busy since it is summer. But the reat thing about it being summer is that lots of people are busy, and so there are not nearly as many people at bingo. Which means two great things... 1-there is a lot less smoke, which makes it more pleasant while playing. 2-there is a greater percentage chance of winning. To win the big prize, you need to black-out your card in 55 numbers or less, so that is obviously not dependent on the number of people. But for the fun prizes and the consolation prizes, that does depends on the number of people, so the fewer people, the greater the chance of winning. And I FINALLY WON!!! Now the downside of fewer people is that the consolation prize is based on a percentage of cards sold... so the less cards sold, the lower the prize. My grand total winnings were only $15 (in the winter they are more like $30-50 consolations). But, still, it's $15 that I didn't have before. And being the engineer/finance person that I am, I spent $9 total for the night, so a $6 profit on $9 investment is a really good rate of return. More importantly, I got to yell BINGO, which was awesome... even more awesome was hearing the groans of all the losers who were SO CLOSE! Suckers!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Butt-Pockets in Bismarck

Following up on my shoe incident and speaking of embarrassing work situations... Another little gem for my fans. So, I was in my friend Kirsten's (pronounced Shirsten, don't ask me why) office last week chatting. I went to leave, and all of a sudden came to a jolting stop - she described it as a dog who ran out of leash. The corner of back pocket on my pants got caught in between the little wooden strip of the door jamb and the little metal plate that the locking/latching mechanism goes into, and I was stuck. I tried to free myself, but eventually had to get Kirsten's help. We were both laughing so hard that it took her a few minutes while I dangled there. On a good note, at least my pants didn't rip.

Black and Brown in Bismarck

So, the State Bar convention is in town. I went to hear my nemesis speak this morning. (The opposing counsel from me hearing.) Listened to her, chatted afterwards, met a couple judges, said hello to the chief justice, etc. You know, networking... After that a bunch of us went to Ribfest for lunch, which is in town this weekend. Walked around there, saw lots of people I knew. Good times. Came back to the office, was walking down the hall around 2:45 p.m., and notice... I am wearing two different shoes today. One black, one brown. I am awesome.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bajillionaire in Bismarck

This is a totally random short little post because I obviously don't have time to blog or I would do it more often...

Someday, when I am a bajillionaire, I am going to hire a fruit cutter to follow me around and cut up my fruit for me. Similiar to how Ken Paves follows Jessica Simpson around to make sure her hair looks fabulous (I will have one of him, too), I want someone who will core my pineapple, cut up my watermelon into bite sized pieces, core my apples (and maybe peel them sometimes, too), pluck my grapes off the stems, peel and slice my peaches and pears and nectarines, and most importantly, peel my mangos and cut them into cute little squares. I can handle spitting out my own cherry pits.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fighting in Fargo

So, my week started off in an interesting way. I was invited to attend a mediation session in Fargo. The case was a construction dispute on a pipeline project that has been going on since before I came to my position. This was the third mediation session regarding the dispute, the second of which nearly ended in settlement during my first couple weeks of work. Because I was so new and because my predecessor still works with me, just in a different division, he was going to finish out this case. In addition, we have outside council involved. So, really, my participation was unnecessary and minimal. Nonetheless, I decided to go because I thought it would be good experience since I generally tend to think all mediations can be a learning experience.

Well, I definitely got more than I bargained for. We left at 7 am and drove the three hours to Fargo. I started to count cars on the way, but then I had to stop. Two reasons, first, the driver was going way too slow and cars kept passing us instead of the other way around. Second, we pulled over for a break about an hour into the trip. Since this methodology didn't fit with my former car counts, I had to abandon my efforts. Anyway, we got to Fargo around 10 and went first to a law office. This dispute involves the contractor on one side, and three separate entities on the opposing side. We were at some law firm for one of the entities that was on our side. I had no idea what to expect, but when I walked into the room, I definitely didn't expect 15 other people to be there. Introductions all around, none of which I remembered other than the one guy I had met previously. We spent about half an hour discussing the case, most of which I didn't follow since I didn't have much background.

Then we all trooped over to another law firm for the mediation, which started at 11. Now most of you probably don't know too much about mediation, but the gist of it is this... it is not an opportunity to present your legal case and argue about the legal merits. It is supposed to be a forum where you set aside the legal issues and just try to work out a solution that everybody is equally pissed off/happy about. Well, this one started off with the council for the contractor (we'll call him OJ, short for Obnoxious Jackhole) launching into a 45 minute powerpoint presenation about the legal merits of his case and his version of interpreting the contract and how wrong we all were. It was lovely. Finally an attorney on our side interrupted and said he wanted to be separated into different rooms and to start working on solutions or we were just going to go home.

So, we started the mediation. We gave an offer, they gave an offer, we gave an offer... you get the point. Unfortunately, however, the negotiation sort of went in this fashion... We offered 5 apples and 3 oranges, then offered 2 apples and 1 orange, we offered 3 apples and 2 oranges, and they countered that they wanted 3 steaks. So then we talked about steaks... and just when we thought we were reaching a consensus, the topic of discussion changed again. And on and on and on... and finally around 5 pm, we made an offer that our outside council thought was way too generous just because we wanted to be done. We thought that would get things wrapped up, but instead, they countered with something more than what they had offered the previous round. And so on and on it continued. And finally around 7:30, my client got pissed, freaked out, and threatened to leave.

Meanwhile, bear in mind that it is a 3 hour drive home. Also bear in mind that I have my very first ever hearing (like a trial for those non-lawyers) in the morning bright and early. Also bear in mind that I have to go back to the office when we return home and pick up all my exhibits that I had left for my secretary to mark and get ready. So, I'm getting a bit antsy at this point.a

Finally around 8:30, it appears we have reached a settlement. Now we need to write it up and have all the parties sign it before we leave because this is apparently where things went awry in the first two mediation sessions. So, we find a computer and type up the agreement. For those of you who followed my facebook status updates, you know that the agreement was finally signed around 11:30 pm. This was mostly due to OJ coming in after we had made revisions and trying to change things or add points. This would have been acceptable if they were general wording changes to clarify matters. Unfortunately, OJ was a slickster Chicago lawyer and he kept trying to slip in items that were never discussed AT ALL during the mediation negotiations. It was disastrous. Only when my client again threatened to leave did things finally get signed on the dotted line and we got to leave.

I also need to point out two intermediate things. About an hour before we left, I thought about catching a ride home with one of the other people in our party since we were almost done. But then I decided to stay and see the great signing that we had worked all day on and ride home with my own people. Big mistake! On the other hand, it was interesting to see how things can fall apart at the end, witness people meltdown from lack of food and rest, and observe slickster OJ's behavior.

The second thing I should point out is that the mediation was ironically being conducted at the law firm where my opposing council in the next day's hearing works. And she actually stopped in. So, I met her. We chatted in the hall about our case for about half an hour since I had not gotten all of her emails from that day. She was lovely, really a nice person, someone I could see myself being friends with under different circumstances.

Anyhow, we FINALLY got headed home. Everyone wanted to eat because we were starving and crabby. However, one of my clients refused to eat in the car because it was too small for us to all fit and eat at the same time while driving. So, we had to actually stop at 11:45 at night (at Perkins, which was the only place open) to have a sit down meal. Are you kidding me????? By the time we finally got on the road, it was 12:30. I offered to drive because I knew that I would get us home the fastest.

We finally rolled into the parking lot at 3 am, at which time I had to then drive to my own office for my exhibits and materials for my hearing the next morning. Thank goodness I did, because it turns out my secretary screwed things up and I'm glad I knew that before I walked in. By the time I did that, came home, checked my email to make sure that the hearing hadn't been canceled or postponed, and took a shower, it was 4 am. I had to be up by 6 am to make it to my hearing on time...

Tune in next time for all the details.

P.S. The car count on the return trip was 7 cars, a new record low. It was actually 8 that we passed, but one passed me. Also, one of those cars was in the ditch on the side of the road (where I also saw it that morning when we passed in the other direction.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Between in Bismarck

Related to my previous post about fire and being located at the gates of hell...

When I was back in Michigan, several people asked me what my favorite part of living in Bismarck is so far. I had a hard time coming up with anything concrete, because while I can't think of too many bad things about living here (other than the isolation and lack of good restaurants), I also can't think of any super spectacular great things, either. Anyway, I got back and was telling my friend at work how people kept asking and I couldn't think of a good answer.

And she agreed... "Yeah, there really isn't anything great about living here, but ya' know, there really isn't anything bad about living here, either. It's sorta' like that thing, you know, ***snapping her fingers as she tries to think of it*** that thing that the Catholics have..."


"Yes, it's just like Purgatory!"

Burning in Bismarck

So when I woke up this morning and jumped on my computer, the first thing I noticed is that my weatherbug was flashing down in the corner, indicating some type of weather warning from the National Weather Service. I wonder if maybe it is fog, because we seem to get a lot of those warnings here, but then I realize that I can see the sun coming up and that's not the problem. That also eliminated rain/thunderstorms. Naturally I click on it to see what sort of weather-doom will befall me this day, and I see, "Fire Weather Warning in Effect", Friday morning until Friday night, Burleigh County. WHAT THE FRENCH, TOAST??? Having never seen this, I have no idea what it means. Does it mean that my county is on fire? That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense since the warning is 24 hours in advance. Does it mean that there is a fire headed this way and I must flee my home within the next 24 hours? Cause if so, holy crappers, where do I go? All I know is that the stupid little bug doesn't start blinking at me unless some bad shit is going to go down, and fire does not seem like something to mess with.

Upon further investigation, I see more description that talks about the heat and the relatively humidity (or lack thereof) in the grasslands. So now I'm wondering if there is something to do with it being so dry here and the wind blowing, that maybe grasslands build up electrical charge and somehow spontaneously combust and start fires to burn down Bismarck... do I live at the gates of Hell??? And if so, why wasn't I aware of this from national news prior to moving here. I mean, even the flooding in Fargo makes it outside the border, so surely spontaneous combustion torching the town would be newsworthy.

Well, I asked around at work, and apparently this is the same as the silly little signs that they put up around national forest warning of the fire danger level of the day based on the dryness. Because it is so dry, apparently we are supposed to be extra careful about throwing cigarette butts out the window. Also apparently sometimes these fires start along the railroad tracks because the train will throw sparks and ignite the grass nearby.

While spontaneous combustion seems a lot more exciting, I'm glad to know that it isn't likely I will wake up with flames outside my window tomorrow morning. I'm still confused as to why I have never seen this warning from my weather bug before.