Meet Me at the Watercooler (interesting topics to impress your co-workers)

As some of you may know, I work in the legal profession*.  As a result, I often hear of strange and interesting cases that have been put before the courts.  I will begin a new series #watercoolernews to keep you informed of the bizarre, unusual and obscure.

Hold onto your seats folks.

Do you remember seeing this cute macaque that took a selfie using a camera belonging to photojournalist, David Slater?  Apparently, Slater left his camera unattended sometime in 2011 while in Indonesia.  The monkey then found the camera and took a selfie.  Absolutely adorable, right?!


Self-portrait of a female Celebes crested macaque (photo credit: David Slater)

Slater has published this photograph and even offers prints for sale.  He donates a portion of the sales to one of the local charities supporting the monkeys in the area where this picture was taken.

Well, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) decided to sue Slater stating that he did not own the copyright (ownership & publication rights) to the picture.


Here’s what happened – PETA filed the suit stating that Slater can’t own the copyright because he did not create the picture.  The district court that heard the case made a ruling that a monkey is not a human and therefore does not have the same rights as humans.  Albeit, the president & congress can extend rights to animals in other situations.  In this case, it does not appear that the monkey has protection under the copyright laws, effectively dismissing the case.

What would his protection be anyway?  How is the monkey harmed by Slater reproducing the picture, selling the picture and donating proceeds to a charity that supports monkeys?

PETA appealed and case went to the court of appeals.  Sometime after the lower court’s ruling but before the case was heard by the court of appeals, all parties reached a settlement, essentially ending the matter, again.

Not so fast!

The court of appeals decided to render an opinion on the issue anyway and upheld the lower court’s opinion.


Not only is the lawsuit itself absurd, but so is the court of appeals’ wasteful use of time and resources by deciding to rule on a case that resolved itself months prior, twice before!

Discussion topics:

Is PETA being ridiculous in filing the lawsuit?

Once parties reach an agreement, is the court of appeals overreaching its duties by rending an opinion on a matter that the parties already settled?

Does the monkey have rights?

*DISCLAIMER: I’m not an attorney so any advice given should not be construed as legal advice but only as a common sense approach to general situations.

Say Something

Apparently, I live under a rock.  There is a band that is pretty popular yet I just learned of them.  I used to be the one who introduced my friends to cutting edge and new music, but not anymore.  I blame my iPod.  An iPod guarantees commercial-free music – my favorite music.  Why wouldn’t I chose that over the radio?  Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

Recently, I heard Say Something (ft. Christine Aguilera) by A Great Big World.  I have only heard it twice, yet I woke up at 4:00am this morning singing the harmony to the chorus line.  I just had to find the song and learn all the lyrics.  (It’s times like this that I miss my piano and miss Mini-Me and her guitar).  I found 2 videos on YouTube – one with sand art and one with Christine Aguilera.  The latter captivated me.  The harmonies are so haunting.  I start crying.

It’s 4:00am.

Why in the hell am I sitting in the middle of the living room, curled up in the fetal position, ugly-crying and singing this song, with my dog staring at me as if I have 3 heads?

Then I realize . . . this is closure.

My divorce was July 31 of this year.  It was a strange and long process to finally get to that day.  I was separated for 8 years.  Yes, you read that right.  Eight (8) years.  This post isn’t about blame or anger.  It’s about the death of hope when a marriage ends.  That’s what I hear in this song and it’s what brings me to my knees in realization of who I was while married and who I want to be now.

I blamed my ex-husband for his mistakes in our marriage, but by the time I realized my equally bad mistakes, we were already separated.  Not only was he done with me but he was finding new relationships.  It took 8 years for me to finally say that I’m done too.  During this whole time, all I wanted, was to show my husband how I changed.  All I wanted was a second chance to show him that it could be different for us.  We both made mistakes.  Many of my friends and family told me that his mistakes were bigger and I just needed to move on.  But what most friends did not understand was that my mistakes, although they may be small in comparison, we’re so hurtful to him.  I cut him badly with my mistakes.  They contributed to his acting out.  No, my mistakes that hurt him are not excuses for his choices, but they certainly wounded him deeply.  All I wanted now, was a chance to show him how our life could be better because I’ve changed so much.

 Say something. I’m giving up on you. 

Please hear my contriteness and let’s try again.  Let’s not kill our marriage without one last try.  But you have to take a step towards me.

 I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you. 

I know the pain I caused.  Oh, how I wish my eyes were open to that years before.  I know that I used my silver-tongue to slice you through.  If I could go back, I would.

 Anywhere I would’ve followed you.

Let’s move somewhere and start over.  Oh, you’re stationed in Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, MI?  Sure, I’ll quit my job and volunteer positions and uproot our kids, if you’ll give our marriage a second chance.

 Say something, I’m giving up on you

I know I’m the one who kicked you out.  I know I’m the one that pushed you in a corner and bruised you.  I know that we’re separated because I made choices that wounded you so deeply, but we’re here now.  Listen to me now.  Hear me now.  Make a move so that we can move forward.  But you have to make a move.  I cannot carry us both.

 *          *          *

That is that.  Hope is now gone.  Regret sets in.  I’ve done all I could to try to restore us.  I’ve offered myself long enough now.  The rejection will stop.  I’ve stepped forward but you have not.  The end.

So, at 4:00am this morning, crying in the fetal position, I grieve the death of my marriage for the first time since the divorce was final.  That’s not really true, I grieve the death of hope.  That’s what hurts so badly.  I always felt the tiniest drop of hope that our marriage could be restored to something beautiful, more beautiful than we could ever imagine.  Now, all that is gone.  Hope is gone.  The door is closed.

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m A Logophile.

Do you even know what a logophile is? No you don’t. It’s not someone who loves logos. Or legos. And, it’s not creepy. I promise. A logophile is a lover of words according to Merriam-Webster. Admittedly, it’s a bit nerdy. I blame my grandparents for this problem. They both were English majors and educators.

My grandmother was incessant about correcting grammar. She was so to blame. We, my siblings and I, were her grandbabes, her cherubs. Instead of cossetting us, she chided every other word out of our mouths. Alas, we are indebted to her revisal. As a result, my siblings and I can promulgate our vocab attainment with little effort. Our pretentiousness is irksome, but charming. Don’t you think?

I also blame my grandfather. He had a dictionary that was over 18″ in girth. As tender progeny, each of us took turns sitting a top said dictionary in an effort to reach the table during meals. Osmosis must have occurred, albeit via our posteriors, enhancing our adulation of words. I admit that I was disconsolate upon my dethroning when my younger sisters began using the makeshift cathedra. Frankly, I thought it rude that I had to relinquish my dictionary-seat just because I gained altitude when my sisters had not. It did not seem equitable.

Over the years, I culled a list of cherished words to share with you. I welcome you to seek happenstance to utilize at least one of these words in your daily vocabulary. Once the word falls from your lips, watch as the bewilderment passes over your companion’s face. They’ll be so enamored that they’ll never play Scrabble with you again. They’ll also discern that you’re above-average intelligence and will want to flock to you in hopes that your smarts will drip onto them.

Without further ado, here’s my Top 10 of stupendous words:

10. Homunculus
9. Enumeration
8. Truncate
7. Borborygmus
6. Fard
5. Macaronic
4. Agape (Greek)
3. Camelopard
2. Hemidemisemiquaver
1. Heliotrope

So yes, the dictionary-seat taught me how to talk out of my ass. Therefore, no one should pay any attention to me. Oh wait.