Hitler and the Family Jewels

The Nearly Perfect Doberman went to his first socialization class, his veterinarian having rather pointedly urging him on after seeing some signs of antisocial behavior. Even though he’d already been through canine military school, nearly every dog groomer in town had politely asked us never to darken their doors again.

Canine socialization was more than just a little intimidating for the young boy-dog. A Pug who resembled the group’s leader was in charge. The Golden Retrievers kept getting in his face like ebullient Texas cheerleaders, the older Labs were aggressive toward him, and he just couldn’t stand the Salsa the Border Collie. He took a likening to a pleasant and handsome young red male Doberman.

The first point of instruction was that we were to give our dogs commands in English. This is Mexico, and we’re supposed to speak English to our dogs? German would be all right, too, the trainer explained. And all along I’d been teaching Spanish to the pup, trying to make him fit in and understand others.

The red Doberman’s owner, a boy of about twelve years, asked if the Nearly Perfect Doberman was hembra or macho. Only months before, three veterinarians had turned down my request to neuter the Doberboy, acting if I’d suggested some kind of crime against humanity, destroying the bloodline and forever robbing the Nearly Perfect Doberman of his essential dogliness. Finally, the vet who’d studied at Cornell agreed.

My boy’s exterior plumbing clearly revealed his gender. “Well duh. He’s macho,” I responded. With no small amount of disdain.

“Was he in an accident?” the boy asked, pointing to the spot where the family jewels once hung.

“Of course, not.” I really didn’t want to pursue the topic further.

“So, what’s his name?”

“Goodman.”

“My dog’s named Hitler.”

I blanched. Hitler? For a nice mascota?

“A strong dog needs a strong name that people will fear,” he explained, adding with no small amount of disdain and some measure of authority that Hitler was actually a relatively common name for Dobermans. And that there was even a Rottweiler in town named Osama Bin Laden.

I could only imagine inviting little Hitler onto a soft dog bed, buying dog treats for sweet little Hitler, worrying about little Hitler as he aged into a feeble, old little Hitler. The beloved little Hitler, family pet. But maybe if you say Hitler enough, it loses its impact. “Sit, Hitler.” “Down, Hitler.” “Come, Hitler.” Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler. Mein Schicklgruber.

Goodman met up with a new canine pal – an enormous English Bulldog named Mohammed.

At the next week’s class, the mother of the fresa came over and told me that she’d explained to her son the quaint habits of Norteamericanos who routinely neuter their canines. I’m not taking any chances. Next time, I’ll get Neuticles for my pack partner.

Sending the Wrong Message

Everyone’s reimbursed for Banff.

Honey, I can do lunch at T.G.I.Friday’s around one.

Oh baby, oh baby, you make me so hot. I want you NOW.

All right, you did it again. You obviously didn’t learn your lesson from the last time you pulled that stunt. It’s all over, bucko. You’re toast. You know perfectly well what you did. You went off and sent that email to the wrong person, said the wrong thing to the right person, or did something perfectly foolish with email. Your face is red. I can see that right from my side of the monitor. You close down your email program, shut off the computer, and skulk away, wondering if your reputation has been damaged beyond repair. All the disclaimers in the world aren’t going to get you out of this one. You’re on email probation now.

Almost everyone has distributed a personal message to the wrong person at one time or another. Those who haven’t are merely waiting for their turn to come. It’s practically inevitable. If you haven’t already done so, you will. I have.

Ross Kodner calls it the “oh-no-second,” that flick of a lapse between your brain and your mouse that sends the unstoppable. You call it disaster.

A quick hit on “send,” and before your finger levitates a single millimeter from the mouse, you realize that a personal messages is now zooming through space to the screens of unintended eyes across the world. There’s no postmaster from whom the missent missive can be retrieved. You can only dream that the recipient will think that an evil someone spoofed your address.

PRIVILEGED – ATTORNEY CLIENT CONFIDENTIAL began one lawyer’s email to a client, outlining strategies not meant for the eyes and ears of others. But a slip of a click led the message to distribution to a mailing list of over a thousand lawyers. The errant lawyer immediately caught her mistake, and sent forth a second message, bearing the subject line “Emergency! Do Not Open, and Delete if You Do,” confessing her sin of sending confidential mail to the list, asking recipients to delete the mail, not to forward it, and to treat it otherwise with the respect usually reserved for toxic waste. And then she followed up with a plea to the list manager, asking that the missent missive be wiped from the archives and offering to pay all expenses associated with its removal. The lawyer did all that could reasonably be done to control the damage on a Sunday morning.

“Judge Juan Fulano is big fat idiot and his breath stinks” your message read. You intended to send it to Lisa Loopner, but it went off to Lisa Loopinski instead, because you relied upon the autocomplete feature to dredge up all of the Lisas in your address book, letting it finish the address after you’d typed in L-i.

No autocomplete for you. You used it, and it abused you. Give it up. All the careful keyboarding in the world won’t save you from its dangers. Jim Calloway, Oklahoma State Bar Association Practice Management Advisor, describes how to disable autocomplete in Outlook at Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog. In Eudora, it’s as simple as Tools | Options | Auto-completion.

Eudora also has the BossWatch feature, which warns users before sending email to selected addresses.

Email encryption is widely available and easier to use than ever. So, why aren’t more lawyers taking the time to encrypt email? Or does the problem lie with the recipient who can’t figure out how to use the Captain Magic decoder ring?

It’s possible to prevent those potentially humiliating situations.

• Let the mail season at least a few minutes before sending. Disable Immediate Send, sending off email after enough time has elapsed for the ink to dry. A few minutes isn’t going to make a great difference in the grander scheme of things. Even a couple of hours.
• Check, check and double-check what goes out. Oh, but lawyers are always in such a rush.
• Slow down.
• Edit messages carefully, paying proper attention to grammar and punctuation, and verify the recipient’s email address more than with a cursory glance.
• If you still can’t trust yourself, use a completely different email address for mailing list mail than you use for important client mail.
• Hire an armed guard to monitor your email habits.

When your fingers fly off in the wrong direction, it’s not the end of the world. Recall the message, hoping against hope. Apologize and mean it. Take that pledge to be careful the next time seriously. Realize that everyone makes mistakes.

On the other hand, there’s always Paraguay. Change your name, undergo some serious plastic surgery, enter the Witness Protection Program, and move to the unnamed city populated by bus drivers who’ve fled the scene of horrifying accidents in third world countries.

jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GP|Solo, receives her email at jjrose@jjrose.com in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. This column originally appeared in Technology eReport, published by the American Bar Association General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.

Bombing Apatzingán

We’d finished a dinner of pescado blanco in Patzcuaro one Saturday evening not long after September 11, 2001, and the chisme turned to a joke circulating on the Internet that had the mayor of Apatzingán sending an urgent plea to President Bush, pleading “Es Apatzingán, no Afghanistan. Por favor no nos bombardee.” Wondering whether there was any truth to the buzz, we decided to go to Apatzingán the next day and look up the mayor.
Escudo
Apatzingán, Apatzingán de la Constitución to be correct, is a point of pride, because that’s where the first constitution of Mexico was signed, back in 1814. Its fertile valley attracted the attention of Dante Cusi, who merits more posts in this blog when I find the time, almost a hundred years later. If you’ve ever eaten cantaloupe or watermelon or just about any kind of produce, the fruits of Apatzingán have touched your lips. By the by, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río developed this town, laying out broad avenues in this heart of the Tierra Caliente.

Apatzingán is not unlike California’s Central Valley or the Texas Rio Grande Valley. An honest, sweet land filled with hardscrabble lives, rich terrain, a mixed measure of poverty and prosperity, the kind of place that has no time for the effete and elites. In this truck-driving country marked by miles and miles of fields, the arts range all the way from sombreros to dancing horses and rustic harps and violins.

We met up with one of the town’s power brokers, and he showed off the Casa de la Constitución and drove us up the hill to the Santuario de la Virgen de Acahuato, towering over the valley below and practically revealing a view from the Pacific Coast all the way to Morelia. The Hotel Posada del Sol featured an enormous fountain pumping up sprays to rhythms and a lightshow, as well as an event center that was not only air-conditioned but also had a roof opening up to the stars. Just like Joe Wilson saw no yellowcake in Niger, I saw neither drug lords, meth labs nor bandoliered gunmen in Apatzingán.

But everyone just knows that it’s drug country.

In yesterday’s Día Siete ran an advertisement promoting the Valley of Apatzingán as a tourist destination, offering up two-night packages.

A war rages on in Apatzingán now, making Felipe Calderón a war-time president less than six months into his term, focusing public attention on this part of Mexico, where the Mexican military fights organized drug rings. Jorge Zepeda Patterson compares the situation to Baghdad. What’s going to happen in the Fresno of Mexico? I honestly do not know.

She’s Got to Have It

Five newspapers – LaVoz de Michoacán, Cambio de Michoacán, Provincia,
El Sol de Morelia, and La Jornada de Michoacán – publish daily in Morelia. At least three of then are available
at the local abarrote, and if I walked an extra block over to the plaza, I
could have my choice of even more at the newsstand. Or I could get in the car
and drive to the nearest intersection where newspapers are hawked between
stoplights. Sunday’s LaVoz, which contains the magazine Día Siete, often sells
out before I’m up and around on Sunday morning. So when a vendor knocked on my
gate last week, I up and subscribed again.

The vendor could only sell a week’s subscription, and he’d
come by and collect later. “Might be robbed,” he said.

Of course, I could’ve as easily dropped by LaVoz’ offices
and negotiated the subscription details, but the path of least resistance means
not having to look for parking. It’s just a matter of time before I make the
reasonable move of buying an entire year’s subscription at once.

Reading the local daily online just isn’t the same as spreading
out the paper version over coffee and leaning back on the loveseat or the
sitting out on the terrace, folding over some pages and occasionally tearing
out others. And then there’s the ritual of reading the paper in its proper
order: the front page, the paginas rojas (crime pages), and the social pages
absolutely must precede finishing the rest of the paper.

None of these papers will put The New York Times out of
business, but the New York Times almost never runs a story about Turicato or Tarecuato.
And it doesn’t carry Maitena. I don’t care if the Sunday newspaper is the Pulso de San Luis Potosior The Deseret Morning News, I’ve got to have it. The day’s just not right without the
newspaper.

 

 

Red Diaper Babies in Mexico

Gathering_of_fugitives
After World War II ended, many returning G.I.’s flocked to Mexico to study
under the G.I. Bill, but soon after there was another band of foreigners
finding welcome retreat in this country. The Red Scare, Joe McCarthy and the
Smith Act sent this group to Mexico
, in search of refuge. Diana Anhalt’s family was among them, moving to Mexico City in 1950.

She writes about their
experiences and those of others similarly situated in A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1948-1965.

At Archer Books, the book is downloadable. Gratis.

It’s a fascinating insight into the lives and times of those
who didn’t move to Mexico for life on the cheap amid swaying palm trees. Some stayed, and some left.