Re: Tactless and nosy

1

It seems like any sort of accident wouldn't have suspicions tied to it

Unless it was drug-related.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:30 AM
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Anyhow, as you know heebie, I also have a facebook friend who had some sort of death in her life, I think? And is now taking care of kids? Who might be her nephews? But her sister maybe isn't dead? But may be in jail? But it's hard to say? And I don't really feel comfortable asking? Reflects well on me, I'm sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:31 AM
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There have been three people with whom I went to high school (all veterans of our most recent wars, incidentally) who have died suddenly, and without any mention of accident or illness. I did sort of wonder what happened, to the point of some light FB snooping. (I'm guessing that two were suicides. I thought all three were until I was told that the third had in fact od'd on heroin.)
SO! I too am a nosy horrible person.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:36 AM
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They put another name up on the wall this week: this one is Afghanistan 2012. Shot in the back by one of the ANP he was training. I remember thinking back in 2006 that they might not have enough room on that panel for all the guys we were going to lose: fortunately it looks like I was wrong about that.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:40 AM
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I always want to know everything about everything. It is sometimes a feature, and sometimes a bug. My previous boss would frequently chide me with varying degrees of gentleness or lack thereof as being "the most curious of men." (And no, we were not unaware of the potential double meaning.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:41 AM
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5: "Didja hear the one about the kid who wanted to know everything about everything?" Don't actually click that link, but I had to respond.

I am also really, really curious about what's really going on in people's lives. I just friended a woman I met at queerspawn playgroup in time to watch her relationship implode, and I foresee a horrible custody fight in her future if it goes on like this. I'd be a lot more comfortable looking back on it than watching in realtime, but there's not much I can do to intervene.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:52 AM
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... So I'm guessing suicide? It seems like any sort of accident wouldn't have suspicions tied to it, and if it were something violent at the hands of someone else...it wouldn't be spreading rumors about the guy in that case.

I would suspect aspersions were being cast on the widow but perhaps I have read too many murder mysteries.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:52 AM
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One of my dead friends died accidentally, in her apartment, at 29. And she had been in treatment. So, while people do of course slip in the shower occasionally, I've assumed it was heroin, but don't really know anyone well enough to ask. I sympathize with de mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all that, but jeez, I hope if I fuck up like that, people can just be honest about it.

Also, this weekend is the next iteration of the annual event at which I saw my friend who died in the fire for the last time (it's a little later this year, so we've already passed the actual anniversary of our last meeting). I guess I will go, as it is for a good cause, one that was very dear to him, and I told him I would keep coming back to it. Really fucking sucks to lose these younger folx. He would have been 10,000 times the activist I could be at my best. And what of all the kids in Haiti or Pakistan or wherever? I've been a lot better on the depression front this last little while, but looking at the big picture, it's hard to feel very good about stuff. Just have to keep my hand on the plow and my eyes on the prize, I suppose.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:55 AM
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Okay, I just did some more research on 2. It is my friend's cousin, and she definitely died, but I don't know what happened to the kids' father. Did he die too?! Maybe he was in the military? Anyhow it is all very hard to say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:59 AM
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Over the past few years, I've had two different high school acquaintances (we weren't ever friends of any sort other than the Facebook type) commit suicide after their marriages fell apart. In both cases, they had married their high school girlfriend, so 20-25 year marriages, and announced the split on FB. No indication (from my distance, anyhow) that any such thing was imminent until one day a bunch of RIP posts start rolling through my feed. Despite never having been close, nor having seen either of them in person for a couple of decades, I was pretty shaken by both. I guess mostly in a "there but for the grace of something or other" sense.

I've also hit the age where major health stuff is starting to take its toll on my cohort. One friend just had a massive heart attack and is in the ICU, another is dying of lung cancer (despite no smoking history), a couple who just dropped dead out of the blue from aneurysms. I'm already a bit prone to being wigged out about this since my father died at 40, and these sure don't help any.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 7:15 AM
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... I went to my one possible gossip source, and it turns out the mutual friend did indeed know, and said something (infuriating) like "Oh, I have my suspicions. But I don't know for sure, so I don't feel comfortable saying." ...

You could have asked something like "So what's the official story?".


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 7:19 AM
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My FB feed is currently full of RIPs for a classmate who just committed suicide. I didn't know the guy, but apparently he was a decent sort and very well liked. There have been a lot of suicides of once removed on FB friends over the past year or so. I'm choosing to take this as a sign of how many FB friends I have rather than something darker.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 7:50 AM
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I went to my one possible gossip source, and it turns out the mutual friend did indeed know, and said something (infuriating) like "Oh, I have my suspicions. But I don't know for sure, so I don't feel comfortable saying." I said "So it was unexpected? It wasn't, say, an illness?" and she confirmed that it was unexpected. So I'm guessing suicide? It seems like any sort of accident wouldn't have suspicions tied to it, and if it were something violent at the hands of someone else...it wouldn't be spreading rumors about the guy in that case.

"Suspicious" is vague. It could mean "The police investigated it as a possible homicide," or it could mean "he was hit by a car, and I don't personally know whether the driver was impaired," or it could mean "the family said it was an accident, but he had been Having Problems for a while," or it could mean "I like gossiping and being the center of attention so please please please keep asking me for information."

But I tend to read too much into things.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 7:56 AM
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I was caught really off-guard, because with a disclaimer like "I really don't know for sure, so I have my suspicions, but..." I thought she was leading up to "take them with a grain of salt, please. Here's what I think happened." So when she ducked the question I wasn't thinking on my feet very well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:05 AM
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A non-sad version of the same curiosity: I recently saw a note in my college alumni news that the son of two of my female classmates is graduating from college. Mazel Tov! This brought to mind that 21 years or so ago, they had sent in a birth announcenment that did not make clear which was the biological mother. I was consumed with wonder about which had given birth, even though I barely knew either of them. Never found out.

Also never found out whether they had intended to keep the information private, or they (or an editor?) had simply followed the typical format for such announcements, where that bit need not be stated. Same sex birth announcements were more of a novelty back then.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:05 AM
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A non-sad version of the same curiosity: I recently saw a note in my college alumni news that the son of two of my female classmates is graduating from college. Mazel Tov! This brought to mind that 21 years or so ago, they had sent in a birth announcenment that did not make clear which was the biological mother. I was consumed with wonder about which had given birth, even though I barely knew either of them. Never found out.

Also never found out whether they had intended to keep the information private, or they (or an editor?) had simply followed the typical format for such announcements, where that bit need not be stated. Same sex birth announcements were more of a novelty back then.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:05 AM
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Heebie, you shouldn't be nosy about these deaths. You should be nosy about the kid who is being raised by three dads in Texas. Now that has to be a story.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:24 AM
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I love that family so much. They're adopting the son's biological sister any day now.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:46 AM
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18: Wow! I just read this and it's kind of blowing my mind that Florida has gone from not allowing anyone gay -- partnered or not -- to adopt to having three parents on a birth certificate within, like, a year.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:48 AM
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I don't actually know who is on the adoption certificate. I'm guessing only one of them is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 8:57 AM
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I'm pretty sure Texas is one of the states where a same-sex couple can get put on the birth certificate if they have a sympathetic judge. Our state used to be like that until a nasty custody battle got that option taken away from all of us.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:02 AM
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19: That's how quickly civilization collapses.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:03 AM
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Reflects well on me, I'm sure.

It's easy to improve a reflection when you're starting with such an original, Tweety.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:04 AM
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Tycho Brahe: Noseless and tacky


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:08 AM
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He had a golden one, I heard.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:21 AM
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I have no idea what 23 means (oh, I mean, I probably do. Sick burn, right?) but it sure misunderstands the relevant idiom.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:28 AM
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On the second death, couldn't you message and ask?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:44 AM
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Speaking of dead people on Facebook, it sure gets creepy sometimes.

There's this one guy I knew in college - only a friend in the Facebook sense, I guess, but we did have some friends in common. He died at least three years ago. His Facebook page is still active, with friends or relatives posting "miss you" and "RIP" and "see this picture of us at the lake? Wish you were in it" every month or so. I can't begrudge anyone their coping mechanisms, but it's pretty pointless to me, but I don't want to defriend someone just because they're dead.

That's a minor thing, but it's really sad in the case of my mom's cousin. He died just a little more than a year ago, and his widow is still recovering. Every so often she posts "I miss you" and stuff on his Facebook profile, and, you know, whatever helps. The thing is, she also seems not not very computer-literate (or someone else might also have the password), because every so often something appears there that looks a lot like a spambot got into the account. Next time I see it I'm going to try to let her know that she might want to do something about her malware protection, but in the meantime I'm weirdly glad it's a stupid program because I'd hate to think of a human being so ghoulish. (Not like I couldn't believe it, but you know what I mean.)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:45 AM
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27: You mean just "I'm sorry to hear about J. What happened?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:47 AM
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but I don't want to defriend someone just because they're dead.

This kind of amused me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:48 AM
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27: For some reason (other than that I can no longer actually read with comprehension but rather substitute thoughts form my own head) I first read that as "On the little death."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:49 AM
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30: Because you're a ghoul.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:50 AM
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28: in the situation related in 2 my friend regularly tags her dead cousin in pictures of said cousin's kids. Which is sweet, I suppose, but also... spooky? Odd? Related to an understanding of the semiotics of picture tagging in facebook that I don't fully grasp or share?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:51 AM
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33 doesn't strike me as crazy, because a third party wandering onto the cousin's FB page might like to easily see photos of the kids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:53 AM
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28: Something similar happened with a friend of mine who died, gosh, nearly two years ago in a weird accident. He was missing for a while before people figured out that he was dead and his page became a nexus for info sharing not just for him, but for other missing people in his city (there are a lot of people who wander off drunk for a few days, it seems). After it became clear he was dead, the page moved to status updates on locating his body, with his mom and his brother posting regularly.
What was weird, though, was that as soon as his body was found and identified this weird know-it-all dude with whom we had gone to college starting posting about how he had notified FB to shut down the page because the guy was now confirmed dead, and so please everyone do the same and stop posting there. The man's mother was still posting funeral updates and friends were posting remembrances! The random dude did not succeed I guess in shutting down the page, since it's still up, and next week I expect to see a slew of birthday wishes. (Sad.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:55 AM
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34: yeah, that's true. As a sort of thing to do on a memorial page it is very reasonable and thoughtful. I may just be reacting to the oddness of Facebook's lack of a way to indicate that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 9:59 AM
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Two topical anecdotes:

Anecdote the first: For years I thought that my cousin who died young and mysteriously had died of AIDS. I figured he was gay, though he wasn't out to the family, and his immediate family was all hush-hush about the cause of death. A decade or so later I learned from a stranger that my cousin had drunk himself to death - the family had been covering up for his alcoholism rather than his homosexuality.

Anecdote the second: A long time ago I wrote about a high school classmate who AFAIK had been killed in action in the Marine Corps. Last year, one of my dead classmate's fellow marines emailed me out of the blue because he had run across my writings, and wanted to recount to me the true circumstances of my classmate's death, to which the emailer had been an eyewitness. It turns out that a third marine from the same unit had shot him between the eyes with a pistol at close range after a dispute over a girl. The killer had served time for some lesser offense (like mishandling his weapon or something), and the emailer was still furious about it.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 10:08 AM
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another is dying of lung cancer (despite no smoking history)

Radon?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 10:15 AM
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Maybe.

"Yesterday, we had Steve the Radon Man out at our house to make sure the radon mitigation system was working properly. When we first bought our house in the summer of 2009, we tested for radon and found levels that were too high (16-21 Pi/L, about 4 times the EPA's recommendation). The radon mitigation system was installed and we assumed it was working properly until my recent diagnosis. Steve the Radon Man, though, tells us that our electrical outlet for the mitigation fan was tripped. We had a lot of electrical outlet problems with the house when we first moved in. Worst case, we have lived through two winters (when radon levels in a house are highest), without proper mitigation. My first concern was [6-year-old daughter's] health. I made a number of calls, including to her pediatrician, the EPA National Radon Hotline, and the MA Department of Health. The summary is this: Two years of radon exposure is not enough to create a problem on its own."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 10:30 AM
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Two years of radon exposure is not enough to create a problem on its own

But if she previously lived in other houses that may have had undiagnosed problems with radon...


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 10:41 AM
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Right. So maybe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 11:01 AM
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28: I left the DE's page up for a while so her set of friends (only partially overlapping mine) could find out what had happened to her. Then I took it down because she was, like you know, dead, as in autopsied and all.

Then I found pictures, and writings and such and I figured her old and new friends might appreciate seeing them so I reactivated the account and put some of that up there. The feedback was uniformly positive. So, I left the account active, and occasionally some friend will write something there, or I will, or her son will.

It seems pretty harmless, and possibly beneficial, not really much different than putting flowers or a stone on a grave marker, or lighting a candle on an anniversary. A Facebook page is, after someone's death, a handy focal point, that's all, and geographically convenient to all who knew that person.

Being the sensitive soul that I am, I figure anyone actually distressed to see it or see that I or someone else posted something there can just fuck off and defriend us all.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 11:04 AM
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33/34: Or they have this in mind.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 11:09 AM
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30
but I don't want to defriend someone just because they're dead.
This kind of amused me.

As far as I can remember I've never defriended anyone. I wouldn't swear by my memory as far back as college, and of course I don't feel obligated to accept all friend requests so this doesn't mean that there are complete strangers on my list, but after so long it's almost become a point of pride, and a good excuse for not paying attention to it. I don't want to give anyone the honor of being first. "I can't let this racist nut get to me, I was arguing with right-wingers way back in college, I don't even need to go beyond Snopes to make him look like an idiot." "Hey, don't blame me for not defriending that guy as soon as he wrecked your car, I haven't defriended anyone else either." "Sure, she's a bitch, but is she really the biggest bitch I know?"

Yes, I realize this is a bit idiosyncratic. I've been thinking about giving up this policy, but this issue isn't the biggest reason anyway.

42: Oh, sure, the "page as memorial" thing doesn't bother me. Great way to do a memorial. In the case of the guy from college, I find it a tiny bit annoying just because it's not for me, but big deal, that's my problem, and it's a tiny one, not even among the top 10 most annoying things about Facebook for me. And in the case of my cousin, it's sad what else is happening on the page.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 11:26 AM
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I bet me and my family are causing people to be riddled with curiosity about my uncle. He died in December, in a way that was accidental, but related to drinking and mental health issues, but not in an exciting way, but with lots and lots of backstory that is long, and boring, and sad, and some gross, but none all that interesting.

I haven't really figured out a way to respond to questions in a way that seems right- I feel like I either sound like I'm being needlessly mysterious/don't want to talk about it, or I accidentally am implying suicide, OR I end up just being really boring/sad and making people so sorry they asked.

His facebook page is still up too. I think it's weird but it doesn't bother me particularly.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:17 PM
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I've only had one peer-like person die, and I actually still have his contact info in my e-address book, as some weird memorial. I guess deleting it doesn't seem right. For awhile FB would ask if I wanted to friend him, but I don't think it ever occurred to me that his page had been left up as a memorial. It's not there now.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:32 PM
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45: I wonder if a polite fiction about your uncle is appropriate. We tend to think of them as symptomatic of repressed times, but I think that they often are/were simply sociable ways of handling awkward situations among people who don't want/need/deserve to partake in the awkwardness. Kind of like babies born 8 months after the wedding - "She was early" is a harmless fiction that doesn't require the person being informed to pretend to judge/not judge or in any way acknowledge the actual facts (granted, this is an example that's probably fading into obsolescence, but I think it's illustrative).

Holy crap! I just remembered that I owe somebody a proposal today. Shit!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:36 PM
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"My proposal is this: nothing."

"Yes, very modern, I agree. Yes, very airy."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:37 PM
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Awww, is it AB?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:37 PM
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I just had the weirdest feeling (related to nosiness). When I was in high school, in a very large school district, I was chosen as the alto soloist for a Mozart piece, and a boy from another school was chosen as the tenor soloist. He stood very close to me in the little soloist's quartet and smelled nice and also had a voice that I decided was the most painfully sexy voice I had ever heard. He had a very distinctive name, one that sounds more like a cartoon character than a person, so I remembered it and used to participate in the usual high school crush conversations by saying, "Oh, I'm holding out for [Cartoonish Name]." No one else could draw my attention.

Friends played along for a whole year, writing in my yearbook about him, drawing pictures during class of us going to prom together, etc. People would take notice of what car he drove, and we'd compete to write the best poem about his insane-making sexiness. It was stupid, but we knew it was stupid; it was just a funny game to talk about me as being desperately, horribly in love with some boy about which we knew like three things (his car, his voice, his name). I never spoke to him except to tell him after that one concert that he had a beautiful voice, and he blushed.

He never seemed to have been picked for state choir, and his solo competition scores were always low (of course I checked the lists). I couldn't have been wrong about his voice--he made my knees weak, and I was a total snob--but maybe he had performance issues. Who knows? I puzzled on it a lot more than I probably should have.

Anyway, this is all 17 years ago now, and I haven't thought about him in ages. I'm checking my work email here at my desk, and the email from alumni news at the tiny college where I teach is announcing that [Cartoonish Name], class of '00 here, just opened some cool shop on a coast. It's totally him! Suddenly the memory of my first long-term idiotic (but fun!) pointless crush comes flooding back.

It was a fun/weird moment.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:44 PM
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You should write him and relate the story. If something like that randomly showed up in my inbox, it would make my year.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:50 PM
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"I maintained a possibly deranged and partially fictional obsession with you for a year and a half, and am now a professor at your alma mater, and you have no idea who I am"? I might get a restraining order.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:52 PM
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I maintained a possibly deranged and partially fictional obsession with you for a year and a half

In other words, you went to high school.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:54 PM
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52: "Hey, this is crazy, I haven't seen you since high school choir and I read the alumni newsletter at the college I work at and you're in it. Small world."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:56 PM
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We met exactly one time, at an all-district choir event. It's not like he has any idea why I would remember him. (I certainly don't remember any of the other soloists or singers.) I think this is a private moment of interesting feeling, which I nonetheless here share with you.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:59 PM
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It's not like he has any idea why I would remember him.

Distinctive name.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 12:59 PM
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54: Probably could add something like "I still remember how beautiful your voice was" without seeming crazy or creepy.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:01 PM
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Am I the only one who thought 54 was a Carly Rae Jepsen riff?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:03 PM
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Skip the email step; just go bang on his door one morning as he's emerging from the shower.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:04 PM
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Explaining that you're his number one fan.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:05 PM
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59: Better yet, bang on his door one morning while wearing only a towel.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:08 PM
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If I were to mention this story to anyone involved, it would be to the women with whom I exchanged poems and doodles about [Cartoonish Name]. He was a great source of creative energy for a group of nerdy funny girls.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:08 PM
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Really? Send him a short casual email and see what happens. It's not as if you got him fired from the LAPD and he's now hunting you and anyone close to you.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:10 PM
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51 is right, although AWB is of course free to ignore it. most people would be happy to know that someone remembered their artistic efforts fondly.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:13 PM
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Why on earth would I contact someone who doesn't know me? That seems very unlike me. I don't even contact my closest friends.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:14 PM
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55: Huh, I missed the "from another school" part. OK, never mind.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:14 PM
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50: He had a very distinctive name

Thomas Schelling?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:30 PM
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Huh. Quick scan and no one went for "mentioned in passing"? I don't have a snark for that, but it stuck out.


Posted by: Mentioner | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:30 PM
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Oh. Heh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:32 PM
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65: I'd do it just to have a possible social adventure, your mileage obviously varies considerably.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:43 PM
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35: That was indescribably sad. But now I am suddenly tactless and nosy. Who tried to shut the page down?


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:43 PM
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70: Oh, if he had opened a shop in town here or something, it might be worth a laugh, but he lives about 2000 miles from here.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:46 PM
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[Cartoonish Name],

It's hard not to fall for a boy named "Foghorn Leghorn."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:48 PM
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|| Ethical quandary for the mineshaft. A colleague from a remote office called the other day, "off the record." He inquired as to the reasonable amount of time that a certain type of legal matter should take to handle. I told him that my rule of thumb for such a matter of average complexity was about 100 hours. The matter as he briefly described it sounded to be slightly more complex than average. The individual who had handled it billed about 110 hours, which I thought sounded reasonable. Nevertheless, it appears that the remote colleague intends to shave some time off the bill. The guy who did the 110 hours of work is someone I consider a friend, and I sort of feel like I should give him a heads up. Yes? No?|>


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 1:50 PM
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What is the relationship of colleague and guy you consider a friend? Partner with the client relationship and associate?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:03 PM
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Also I'm curious as to what the 100 hours was for (not that you have to say). I had an opposing counsel argue seriously recently that taking a significant case through trial should only take 300 total lawyer hours, to which the response was basically to laugh.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:07 PM
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I'm a little thrown by anything that takes 100 hours that you'd be able to make a good estimate of the time it would take in detail. Any task anywhere near that big, I'd think the amount of time it would take would be wildly variable depending on the specifics.

Ethically, I think you can give your friend a heads-up, but you don't have to and it's unlikely to make much of a difference.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:12 PM
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Boy, I assume there is some "rest of the story" going on here where for some other reason they are looking for a way to justify a lower charge, because in my mind a 100 hour estimate is about as much support of 110 hours charged as you are ever going to get. Obviously IANAL, but am going by my experience with time estimation for non-repetitive complex tasks in general. (Unless the guy is thinking "Abe always pads his estimates.")


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:24 PM
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Agree with 77. Also, I can't imagine why a write-down of that magnitude would be a big deal even assuming the person who handled the matter should have done it a little faster (absent suspicion of billing fraud, which doesn't sound like it's the case here). But if you got the sense that it was going to be a black mark for the handler, yeah, I'd be very tempted to give a heads up so he can find a way to address it, assuming he can do so without giving away your indiscretion.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:25 PM
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Sure, there are always the unexpected twists, like some novel innovation heretofore unseen, that can make what looked like a 60 hour box into a 150 hour task. Or the 6 boxes that look like 200+ may be full of endless, meaningless duplicates and only require 80 hours. 100 is a ballpark based on the averages, and I was clear that what was reasonable in any given case was fact specific. It sounds to me like this was similar to Halford's experience with someone thinking a significant case would take 300 hours all the way through trial. Unreasonable expectations. Happens a lot in my field -- people don't seem to think actual work is required.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:31 PM
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I assume the guy already wanted to shave time off and was looking for justification when he asked you.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:32 PM
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And yes, the time will be cut out of concern for making a client happy. Funny how it's always the associate's time that gets cut...


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:33 PM
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81: I think you are right. I answered the question assuming he honestly wanted to know what was reasonable, but I don't think he expected me to say, "Yes, that sounds more than reasonable."


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:34 PM
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82.last: really? Every firm I've worked at, when billables get written down out of concern for the client, that doesn't affect the associate's time. Barring, of course, some genuine incompetence or wrongdoing, or going far beyond the scope of what you should be doing in the first place; but in that case there'd be much bigger worries than a a few docked hours.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:38 PM
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84 was my experience, as well -- usually the billing partner has huge discretion to offer write-downs, but they don't affect an associate's time for bonus calculations or whatever absent very serious suspicions of bill-padding.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 2:52 PM
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OT: My insane gym owner, who is fond of sayings like "being rational never solved anything," is now carrying around this incredibly awesome book everywhere and reading it in between workouts.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 3:05 PM
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Here, whether it hurts the associate or not turns on whether the time gets written down/off before it gets billed to the client. If you send out the bill, the client bitches, and you cut some time to make peace, the associate is (mostly) unaffected. If you cut it before sending the bill out, it's a red mark. In either case, it affects the associate's fee receipt stats, which can be a big or little deal depending on how often little shaves are made.


Posted by: Abe | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 3:09 PM
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Huh. Nine years in three firms, I never got any feedback about what happened to my billing (and there's certainly time I would have written down if I had the client relationship) -- that is, the total on my timesheets was always, AFAIKnew, what I was getting credit for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 3:13 PM
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87: Yeah, after I posted 84 it occurred to me that it would affect fee receipt/realization stats, but I would have thought it would take a lot of writedowns to move those in a material way in the multi-year window that would be relevant for such stats (primarily in a promotion context). But I've never worked anywhere that pre-bill writedowns were directly docked from associate time (for bonus or annual target purposes). That policy seems like it would make the already-insane competing incentives of the billable hours model even more problematic.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 3:25 PM
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89.last: Yes.


Posted by: Abe | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 4:11 PM
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My firm is more like Abe's: write-downs are a black mark for associates. Associates are encouraged to "monitor" their write-downs (no idea how they're supposed to do that). If your write-downs are large that's a sign that you're inefficient. (Or, alternatively, it's a sign that the parter you're working with consistently gives clients quotes that are too low, and so has to write down your time to meet those estimates. Which happened to me fairly often.) Write-downs certainly factor into bonus calculations, and also promotion. Personally, I think this policy is insane, but I decided just to ignore it because it's one of those things that seems impossible to change and fruitless to worry about.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 5:01 PM
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That said, I don't see any need to give a heads up to the associate in 74. Although I also don't think it would hurt anything if you did (although you might get tangled up a mess that there's really no reason for you to be involved in). Basically, what LB said in 77.2.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 5:04 PM
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Abe's obligation here is to make sure the remote colleague understood that the lawyer's estimate was reasonable. As long as he did that, I don't think he's obligated to do anything else.

Not only does Abe have no obligation to inform his lawyer friend, I'd go so far as to say Abe has an affirmative obligation to not do so. "Off the record" sounds like he promised confidentiality to the remote colleague.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:08 PM
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Thanks, folks. Advice and input appreciated and helpful.


Posted by: Abe | Link to this comment | 02- 8-13 6:48 PM
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(I made it.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02- 9-13 9:24 AM
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93: Either that, or it means that the caller wanted an off-the-record estimate.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 02- 9-13 9:26 AM
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95:?

Also, does Facebook have a "Dead" status. It seems like it should.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 9-13 6:22 PM
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97: https://www.facebook.com/help/359046244166395/


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02- 9-13 7:02 PM
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97: I went with "It's complicated" from the "In a relationship with ..." when I reactivated the account and put a bunch of pictures up. Freaked some folk, most managed to cope. I'd like "Dead" as an option, might give some low g people a clue about why their friend request didn't get dealt with instantly.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 9-13 7:43 PM
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I've been wrestling with the "How did this FB friend from high school die" problem this week, too. The info us conspicuously missing from her obituary.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 02- 9-13 7:47 PM
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Thought you might like this case:


http://sharonmadds.blogspot.com/2012/11/fee-award-more-than-jury-award-times-100.html


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-10-13 7:46 PM
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