Sunday, September 30, 2007

So, since law school, recent events, Arbinger

After law school I ended up working locally for a year or so, met my wife, got a job in Texas, got married and spent about fifteen years in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was very kind to us and the people there were delightful. I first employer retired and left the state and I ended up in a practice group that I really enjoyed. We only moved because we could no longer take living in a city where we had buried so many children, but we return from time to time.

In Dallas we bought a house near some friends (their daughter was Jessica's best friend and we went to her bat mitzvah), I commuted down 75 to work while the construction continued, and became an equity partner at the firm inside of six months. I eventually left for a life style that let me work only five days a week and walk my youngest to school almost every morning. I engage in "almost HIT" weight lifting (I recently took about eight-nine months off to deal with some rotator cuff injuries I had in Judo -- though I did win a second place at a tournament before that happened), long walks with my wife and a bit of blogging.

I keep trying to write. Most of what I end up writing is motions for summary judgment. A judge kind of makes me think of peer review with a vengeance, though I consciously write in a style that attempts to make the conclusions seem simple and obvious. It takes a lot of drafts and I have Blake Hyde to thank for teaching me a lot in that regards.

A dream job, if I'm not already in it, would be teaching negotiation, ethics and ADR -- I've enjoyed teaching, but I really would like more time to research and to write. I've published about forty times, mostly accessible material, though I had one article that has the strangest last couple-three footnotes (no one warned me that they didn't want 100 or more footnotes, but the editor really liked the article, so they solved the problem by compressing the last few footnotes together).

I've become convinced that integrity is a skill that you teach rather than an attribute, though in our current environment it is often just a matter of luck. I think integrity needs to be taught as a skills set, in connection with the appropriate rules.

My parents live down the street from me. My mom is thinking of selling her house when my dad dies (he is doing worse physically, but a lot better mentally since my sister-in-law Michelle came for a visit. As I told her, she is an angel who saved his life, at least for a while). He is in the end stages of Parkinson's, but medication now lets him sleep most of the day and he often has two or three good hours. We take turns with him on Sundays, today was my day and it was a real pleasure.

Much of what we do is try to provide a normal life for our children. The youngest knows that she has three sisters who died, but it does not cast a shadow over her life. It is hard when we see her playing soccer. Her hair has grown out again and even in much different team colors it brings back a lot of memories. But it is also creating new memories, and both old and new memories are very sweet to me.

As an after word, I've been reading Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box and I've noticed one small problem with it.

I find it terribly easy to look at blaming behavior, complaining, hurt feelings, anger and such and
see them as manifestations of "being in the box" or as symptoms of self deception. As a result, the response to many of those types of behavior is to encourage people to get over their self deception rather than look at their claimed problems. I can see that as appropriate, yet not satisfying. It really does give me a different perspective on some sorts of complaints, and I'm still thinking about it.

That aside, (as I'm not sure it is really a problem) I do like the fact that the book promotes the idea that leaders have to change themselves to change those they deal with, rather than inflicting change on others in order to manipulate them -- and makes that obvious and inescapable. I suspect Covey would be appalled at the number of times his principles are endorsed and promoted by leaders who have no intent of following Covey's precepts themselves (and the worker bees the consultants preach to can tell that) -- all because those using them don't get the fact that the change has to come from the top. In Leadership and Self Deception it is inescapable that the only place that change is effective is from the top.

That is revolutionary.

Thanks again Naiah.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The random effect of memory

There are times when the echoes of memory catch me so short. Little things, like fabric softener. Jessica was allergic to it, so we quit using fabric softener. After she died, eventually we started using it again, not to mention the advertisements and the times you can smell it on the wash of others. Usually it passes me by, but sometimes it catches me unaware.

I live with many memories, some very precious, most very happy. But sometimes, in grief, the strangest things are bittersweet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My law school experience

I was studying before class, in the class room, while another student played Chopin. Pleasant enough music to study by. He stopped, looked at me and said "you really enjoy law school, don't you?" Enjoyment was really my law school experience.

Much of it was because I found it mentally rewarding and did not feel stressed about employment. When I started I had been offered a job and had a place I intended to work when I graduated. Over the summer after my first year I went and worked there and really enjoyed it, and was pleased to watch the business continue to improve (sales tripled every year until the year they hit 27 million dollars in sales).

I took tax classes because I liked tax, the same for antitrust and a number of other classes. While I got off to a rough start, by the end of law school I had brought my GPA up to between the top third and the top 40% (we didn't have precise class standings), had taken time to tutor English Writing across the street for relaxation and I got a position clerking for the Utah County District Attorney.

Then my friends lost control of their own company, I got a rather nasty letter in the mail withdrawing the job offer I had already accepted and I found myself, rather late in the day, looking for work.

I probably should have taken the chance to convert the job at the D.A.'s office to a full-time job, but I had a friend who really needed a job, so I resigned mine so he would get hired (and he got a job to support himself and family). But that really isn't talking about law school any more.

I really enjoyed law school. I'm sad Ray Davis died so early, I'd have loved to have seen him at the reunion, and wish Gene Jacobs were in better health, I'd have liked to have seen him one last time. But law school was a great experience for me, even if I enjoyed it perhaps a bit too much.

Now I'm still trying to find time to write a book on negotiation, to expand my generalized conflict theory (cf -- for a collection of links to essays that sets out my approach) and to go back and rewrite all of to remove the typos and mistakes that crept in with the software and approach I used to put the site together. There is just never enough time.

But I still enjoy life.


Ok, I know that they are not all perfect, but I've had the good luck to encounter a number who were just great sorts. No, that doesn't mean the Saab driving blond in the theater department I had a crush on when I was much younger (well, it includes her too), but I've had the luck of meeting a number of of Australians whose charm went beyond their accents.

This week, on the flight back from my reunion I got to sit next to Cactus Jack* who had just gotten married in Salt Lake (12 hours before) and was on his way to another business meeting. He recommended some great books (I've ordered them through and told me about how he and his fiancée had read Rough Stone Rolling to get some background on Utah, and how he had enjoyed the book.

I smiled when he said he was "just a carpenter" -- the two guys who introduced my wife and I to each other worked as carpenters and I've a brother-in-law who got his start in the skilled trades as a carpenter. The only time I worked construction I was a carpenter's helper.

Anyway, some groups just seem to export well (English and Australians for example) and make your day a little brighter when you meet someone from that group.

What has made your day a little brighter?

* That is the name on his business card.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Notes from the reunion, questions

I really enjoyed the reunion and the trip to Utah. We got to see Heather (our nineteen year-old at BYU), old friends (including the two guys who set us up and made sure we met), and I ended up giving away copies of The Bottom Line On Integrity and How to Turn the Other Cheek and Still Survive in Today's World and Negotiation Genius -- a book I liked better the second time I read it (now I have to wait for it to go on sale to get another copy of it for myself).

We also ended up giving away our BYU v. Air Force tickets so we could spend the time in what turned out to be better ways (though I still have not watched a football game live at BYU).

It was neat to see how people were doing. Jim Layton, who I've always thought well of, really seems to fit the image of what the law school hoped to see happen with its graduates. Bonnie Esplin, who I always admired, was doing well, though she missed the dinner (she did update me on a lot of people, classmates who had died, those who had lost children, lots more).

And then there were the people I've always enjoyed. Jack Welch, Wes Yamashita, Spencer Robinson, Jeff Salisbury and so many more. I picked up loads of e-mail addresses and had a great time seeing family in the area and visiting friends. I can only wish I had more time, there are more people I wish I'd had time to see.

Guess I can always visit that way again. I love the mountains, especially this time of year and it was wonderful to see people I like and to hope they were doing very well.

What kind of memories do you have of places and people?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One book

There was a time if I were asked "what one book would you recommend?" the following would have been that book:

The Gentle Art of Communicating with Kids The Gentle Art of Communicating with Kids
by Suzette Haden Elgin (Jan, 1996)
In Stock

Price: $15.95

45 used & new from $0.97

When I used to do volunteer work for womens sheltered and battered women, I probably bought and gave away over a hundred copies of this book. I even started getting the bulk institutional discount from the publisher.

I really like Elgin's books, I love my children, and I still recommend this book, even if I've been buying copies of The Bottom Line On Integrity to give away these days and am currently reading more Arbringer Institute books.

If you were going to recommend one book, what book would it be?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Off to the law school reunion ...

So, if you are around BYU this week end, say hello!

Not to mention, I'll be at the game to see BYU lose another one.

(This is the first college football game I'll have gone to in my life, so it should be fun no matter what happens).

JRCLS, class of '82, just FYI.

We leave Wednesday, luckily we won't overlap too much with the house (guests come and go so often. Last time I left town the house was so full everyone wanted to know what we had going on and had not invited them ^-^).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

C. Terry Warner -- looking for links.

I'm looking for more links and more thoughts on Warner's writings and topics. I'm finding them interesting. Anything anyone can leave in the comments would be appreciated.

Integrity can be taught, can wisdom?

I ran across this recently, saved it for myself, and finally decided it was worth sharing.


posted by Frank Pasquale

Can wisdom be taught? A growing field of "wisdom studies" in psychology suggests that it can. I was reminded of Anthony Kronman's The Lost Lawyer when reading some of these findings:

Certain qualities associated with wisdom recur in the academic literature: a clear-eyed view of human nature and the human predicament; emotional resiliency and the ability to cope in the face of adversity; an openness to other possibilities; forgiveness; humility; and a knack for learning from lifetime experiences. And yet as psychologists have noted, there is a yin-yang to the idea that makes it difficult to pin down. Wisdom is founded upon knowledge, but part of the physics of wisdom is shaped by uncertainty. Action is important, but so is judicious inaction. Emotion is central to wisdom, yet detachment is essential.

Kronman similarly emphasizes a balance between "sympathy and detachment" in the ideal lawyer.

A recent essay by Michael Ignatieff on his mistakes as an academic reminded me of the importance (and elusiveness) of wisdom.

Continue reading "Wisdom"

Posted by Frank Pasquale at 09:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Read the original (and the rest of the post) at

Valuable Liquids

A friend, having purchased some of what is apparently the most valuable liquid in the known universe during lunch today, felt compelled to dig up this descriptive graph to share.

I thought I'd share it with you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Real losses

Not that past losses are not real. But current ones tug at the heart so much. My daughter was out helping to search for the senior at BYU who bicycled up to Bridal Veil falls and went hiking. She isn't the one who found the body, where the poor girl fell when she slipped.

Yes, current losses wash out older ones. In a way that is a kindness, in a way that is life. There is always a tragedy. The Armenian genocide gives way to the Jewish genocide which gives way to all the African genocides. The cycle repeats, instead of "never again" it seems like "always again."

The things that are written large are also written small. Someone asked my secretary at work what it was like dealing with family members who have degenerative problems. My secretary's mom went through that. (I was silent, I haven't spoken much about how my dad is going through the same thing). Most people do go through a decline at the end, either in the long or the short run. It is part of the cycle of life. Though I hope that when my time comes I escape dementia and endless pain. Those seem the hardest to me, as I see them from the outside.

I also hope to be as worthy of love as my Dad. I cherish him so, especially now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The exploitation of loss

There is an exploitation of loss by cowards, single minded and anonymous.

Interesting, I've had a series of profane (i.e. profanity and insult laced) posts complaining that I'm not acknowledging or blogging about Mountain Meadows or talking about where I was on "the" September 11 and that I need to let those drown out everything else.

I'm not sure I have much to add. I was walking back from the courthouse, there was a crowd in front of a television set in the underground mall I was walking through. I watched footage of the first of the twin towers with smoke pouring out of it.

Since I've been in CLE sessions with the mediator who handled the distribution of the payments to the September 11 survivors as he talked about the difficulties, the unreasonably self centered views of many, the heroic understanding of others, the way that people came together to acknowledge and share with domestic partners who lacked legal standing and the heartbreaking effects of the petitions by others who were not receiving special treatment for acknowledgment (financial or otherwise) of their losses as well.

What does what I have to say, what does that really add? All of those stories are better told by others.

As for the profane cowards, they obviously have their issues or they would not be reduced to inarticulate ramblings, obscenity and insults, demanding that everything else be focused on the issue de jour (of the day) of some.

I guess that I could post that there is a pressing need not to be tied down and locked into the anger and pain of the past. That focus on a loss after five to seven years is probably tied to (toss in your favorite psychobabble here) pathological.

Or that some people desperately need attention.

I hope this gives them what they need. It is the best I've got on this day.

As for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, this post says it much better than anything I could say:

Do Not Live an Authentic Life - Live a Moral One

Do Not Live an Authentic Life - Live a Moral One -- is a blog post about acknowledgment -- kind of a corollary to recognition and empowerment in transformative mediation. The take away line is: "The important point is to acknowledge what the real trade-offs are and who will be hurt the most by the alternative choices—especially when there is an inequity in power."

Too often it is tempting to be self-indulgent and call it authentic when what we are doing is exploiting an imbalance in power to make others unhappy and ourselves happier. Too often people look for excuses to do something other than live a moral life, for something that is more valuable than integrity.

Caveat: the essay springs from another discussion at Feminist Mormon Housewives about a situation where I don't know the answer to the problems discussed. "I only wish I knew the answers" was my final comment on the matter. But I wanted to take away what I found important about the discussion, the need to recognize when we are exploiting power in a relationship and calling it something else.

If you can't tell, while I've bought six more copies of McKay's Integrity, I'm now part-way through Terry Warner's "Bonds that Make Us Free." I'm behind the other people in the Bloggernacle who have read it (e.g. and , but find it very interesting and thought provoking, especially in the context of McKay's book.

Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves
Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves by C. Terry Warner (Hardcover - Sep 2001)

A link to a cute cartoon about being authentic, etc.: Ethically sourced?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Vouchers and the evidence

Using kindergarten lottery outcomes that determine which kids get into the most sought-after schools, they are able to compare the outcomes of those who win the lottery versus those who lose. The students who win the lotteries go to “better” schools and have “better” peers, but they don’t have better outcomes.

I've had real qualms about many school choice programs as I've seen them in action.

My first exposure was the basic public/parochial school split -- and it only seemed fair that Catholic families should get the money they pay in taxes for schools back to help educate their kids.

But, since then, I've seen so many bad schools operating as alternatives (and some really good ones too). But that essay, above, explained the hole in the logic I had not understood before.

I've got a lot more thinking to do, I obviously have a lot I still do not know, but this is one piece of the puzzle.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Message and Metamessage, Integrity

When I was much younger I was taught a lesson about message and metamessage. The one everyone knows is the deadly question "does this dress make me look fat?" That is really two groups of questions: (a) is this an item of clothing that I should buy or wear that would make me look good and (b) do you love me, do you find me attractive? Whatever answer you give to the question has to provide clear messages in response to both questions, not just the one that appears to be asked.

I used to be bluntly honest because I was socially inept and didn't know better. I didn't interject myself, and I wasn't rude, but when people asked, I would tell them the truth. In my ward at school that had led several people to think I was a compliment machine because the truth that the people I was talking to did not know was better than they thought or hoped. But ...

After I failed in the role of "compliment machine," someone came to me and explained to me where I had gone wrong. They rightly guessed that I did not want to hurt anyone's feelings. I immediately changed how I talked to people, because the message that was true, the metamessage, was that they were valuable and of worth. I did not want that obscured by responding to only the face of the surface question.

At the same time I learned more about negotiation. In negotiation, according to the accepted statistics, about 40% of the people are "aggressive." Without fail, all aggressive style negotiators lie. The best do it transparently, naturally and, err, honestly -- that is, they believe their lies and are unaware they are lying. In simulations, during debriefing, participants asked about how and why they think they did what they did reveal that even afterwards they believe the lies they've told.

I'm an attorney, a litigator. Much of what I do is negotiation. Much of it is attempting to find the truth. I'm lucky in that I work in an environment that is supportive of finding and dealing with the truth. Even so, I find that I have to watch myself to see that I live up to the expectations and beliefs of those I work with and against.

In that context I've been reading the book The Bottom Line On Integrity. Over and over again the book reaches and reflects on how our environment is filled with times and places where we either do not tell the truth or where our message and metamessage are out of sync (think of any lottery advertisement). Reading the book has helped me reflect.

In a way, integrity can seem like a literacy test. In the law and in the legal ethics of negotiation, it is often the choice of words that makes a difference. I.E. "That is the limit of my authority" vs. "That is what I'm willing to do right now." The first is a lie that is so common that courts have held that it doesn't count because no one could believe it. The second is the sort of thing that is true by definition.

But in life, integrity is something more, and is a collection of skills as much as it is an attitude. To act with integrity requires more than an intent to be honest, especially when message and metamessage clash or where the truth and bearing an honest witness may differ (there is a difference, many times, between "the truth" and the "whole truth").

I'm still thinking.

For something completely different:

and, my other blog, with different thoughts:

I also was impressed by the title of this post:

Do Not Live an Authentic Life - Live a Moral One

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I've been reading recently. One book that changed how I act is The Bottom Line On Integrity, by Quinn McKay (Author) " When I realize that this was written in 2004, I'm sad I didn't find it sooner.
Bottom Line On Integrity, The
Bottom Line On Integrity, The by Quinn McKay (Hardcover - Nov 10, 2004)

Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves
Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves by C. Terry Warner (Hardcover - Sep 2001)

Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box
Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Thanks to Naiah -- I'm going to read some more.

I've a longer post in me (I just need to find where I wrote it down in pen and ink when the computer was in the shop).

I guess I ought to toss in a good word for: Genderspeak: Men, Women, and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin (Hardcover - Oct 1993), especially since Amazon has it 33 Used & new from $0.59. The book is an interesting one. The publisher usually just does a single printing of books, sells them out and moves on. This one sold two printings before someone realized it was selling well. So, did they do a third printing? Nope, they just marked it off to good luck on a mistake.

Luckily you can buy used books easily now.

I also liked
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson -- though the fun part is to have people who have read it immediately be able to apply it. I find it and the competing/completing Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most by Douglas Stone both good books.