September 26, 2006

The day I almost called 911 from a stairwell.

So I put the finishing touches on my notes for a noon hour talk to the Dane County Bar Association and finished my preparation for my two hour 1:20 class and got in the car and drove over to the Monona Hilton where I drove down and down to the lowest level of the garage and parked the car. I took the elevator up with plenty of time to get to the banquet room, settled in, ate some chicken, and took note of the fact that the microphone wasn't working, so I'd have to put some serious energy into projecting my voice to the crowd of 100 lawyers and a few judges. I talked for 55 minutes about the highlights of the last term of the U.S. Supreme Court and left quickly knowing I had 25 minutes to get back to the Law School for my 1:20 class.

The first elevator doesn't want to go anywhere. It keeps chiming and reopening its doors. I get out and get in another elevator, which takes me down to the ground floor but doesn't go all the way down to the lowest level of the parking garage. Is there a stairway? A woman says she knows where there's a stairway, over here, and she's leading me out of the hotel and over to the Madison Club next door. I keep hesitating and saying oh, I don't think I should go that way, but she's sure of it, and I'm still hesitating, so she introduces herself, and I realize she's a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, and now I'm willing to go along. I get in the elevator with her, and say I need B1. She pushes a button and the door opens on B4. I can make if from there, surely.

Now I'm out in the stairwell alone, and I assume B1 is up from B4, even though I should remember I'm at the lowest level of the garage. Mistakenly, I run up the stairs. The door -- into the club -- is locked. I look up and see there is no higher door. I run down and find other locked doors. I'm worried about missing class and fighting the thought that I might need to call 911 to get out of the stairwell. I retrace my steps back to the elevator and eventually find a way out of the building and back to the hotel, back to the original elevator bank, and down to my car.

I'm driving like mad, trying to get to class on time. The 60s channel plays Three Dog Night -- "Mama Told Me Not to Come." Oh, yeah, I was just blogging about Three Dog Night the other day. It seems like good luck.

I make it back to my regular parking garage and run to the Law School building and enter by the door next to my classroom, where I arrive exactly on time, but without my books and notes. I tell my ridiculous story and say I need three minutes, rush upstairs for the book and the notes and a cup of coffee and rush back down, breathless, for two straight hours of teaching, including the least teachable Establishment Clause case. (Mitchell v. Helms... ugh!)

Just a crazy lawprof day.


Meade said...

Good thing you were wearing sensible shoes.

Gerry said...

Ann, did you get my comment I left the other day about your problem with your site being cached for Firefox?

I think that the issue is the same as described here:

"On pages that return a Last-Modified header but no Expires header, Mozilla will
automatically generate its own Expires date..."

Remember we had you add
<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="-1"> to your template? Try changing it to something like:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09 08:46:30 EDT">

You can use any date in the past. I chose that as a tribute.

Let's give this a try. It appears that Firefox is not reacting well to the -1 value.

Derve said...

Glad you didn't call 911. That's really for emergency purposes.

(Try information for the number of the hotel or the club. Their people would come faster.)

Tim said...

I blame George Bush and the neocons for the parking garage elevator and staircase quagmire. You would have been better off staying at home today.

Gerry said...


I am a moron.

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="Tue, 11 Sep 2001 08:46:30 EDT">

Instead of

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09 08:46:30 EDT">

That 09 in there was by accident, and once again was preventing Firefox from correctly setting an expired date.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: Thanks. I did see the other message, but I needed to save it for later. Too busy & message too complicated. But I've done this new fix. So, we'll see.

knoxgirl said...

(Try information for the number of the hotel or the club. Their people would come faster.)

Ann, please try to remember this next time you are trapped in a stairwell. And contrary to all your instincts, being a female trapped in a stairwell with (apparently) no exit is *not* an emergency.

tsk tsk

Gerry said...

"Thanks. I did see the other message, but I needed to save it for later. Too busy & message too complicated. But I've done this new fix. So, we'll see."

Yes, but unfortunately I had a typo in it that you copied to your template. It doesn't harm anything as is, but it does not work as is. See the correction above.

Also, on a completely different note, did you see this speech by a NY Times reporter? Interesting, IMO.

MadisonMan said...

Sounds like a Seinfeld episode.

Gerry said...


Getting there, but you are still hampered by me being a moron.

I saw you fixed my typo, and I checked the Page Info, and it did not work.

So I went here:

And I found this:
"All HTTP/1.0 date/time stamps must be represented in Universal Time (UT), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), without exception. This is indicated in the first two formats by the inclusion of "GMT" as the three-letter abbreviation for time zone, and should be assumed when reading the asctime format."

Ergo, when I put it as EDT, it violated the standard. Please make that GMT, as in:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="Tue, 11 Sep 2001 08:46:30 GMT">

As for why the standard makes one specify the timezone but also requires it to always be GMT for this header, I haven't a clue. Sorry- hopefully this time is the charm.

Todd said...

"I'm looking at my girlfriend, she's passed out on the floor."

And now that song is stuck in my head. Thanks.

Okay, could be worse.

Derve said...


So being alone in a stairwell during the day with plenty of air is an emergency because you are a female? Hahaha. Tell me again how tough and independent a character you are. It was part of the story technique; bet she never would have called and been recorded reporting this "emergency".

She's not as wimpy and frightened as you must be. (I know: 9/11 changed everything. ooh -- my shadow! *jump*)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

If you've ever seen what happened to Dr. Melfi in the stairwell of her parking garage, you'll never think of parking garage stairwells the same way again.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Why were so concerned about being late to class?

When I am the boss, the chief, the head honcho, the Man, I show up whenever the hell I feel like, if I show up at all.

But people rarely put me in charge of stuff because they are stupid.

Maxine Weiss said...

Doesn't that 60's channel ever play 'The Fifth Dimension' ???

'Age of Aquarius', 'Let The Sunshine', 'Marry Me, Bill' etc..

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: When I pulled out of my driveway this morning they were playing "Wedding Bell Blues" (that is "Will you marry me, Bill?"). And I was specifically thinking back to the 3 Dog Night discussion about how they were the last big cover band and then that so was 5th Dimension. 3 Dog Night also covered a song from "Hair" -- I think. So did the Cowsills, btw.

Also, I didn't come anywhere near calling 911 (despite the post title). I was mostly upset about being late for class. And of course that's a huge concern. A room full of people waiting for you to meet your responsibility? Terrible! Also, they might leave and then the whole class would be lost. It only meets once a week, so to miss a day is to miss 1/13 of the course.

Gerry said...

Once again, that did not work. That's the bad news. The good news is that I have enough info now to submit to Mozilla a very detailed bug report-- that time Blogspot sent a valid Expires header, and Firefox did not handle it correctly (it set the expire setting to sometime in 2020.

That means the "real" fix is for Firefox to be fixed.

In the meantime, one last thing to add to your headers.

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Cache-Control" CONTENT="no-cache">

The reason I suggest that is because I noticed the comment submission page here does not seem to have the refresh glitch, and Blogspot seems to always return that header in the response.

Maxine Weiss said...

The 60s Channel:

Hopefully they also offer---

Brenda Lee, Bobby Vinton, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Delfonics, The Stylistics, Connie Francis, Petula Clark--"Downtown", Bobby Sherman, Frankie Avalon, Sandra Dee, Vicki Carr,

Who am I missing? Patti Page---I think she's 1950s.

Peace, Maxine

P.S. What's the difference between a stairwell and a fire escape?

Townleybomb said...

Heh, I was going to mention "Mama Told me not to Come" during the last 3DN discussion. Far superior to "One", as it was written by Randy Newman and has a juicy, sampleworthy hook.

Don't know how things work up in Cheesylvana, but here in Philly, you have to call 911 for any damn thing. In the past few months, I've had to call it for a very minor fender bender and several loud-teenager based neighborhood incidents.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: After I put that last fix in, my Mozilla didn't want to open my page at all, so I took it out.

Gerry said...


I don't think that was a problem with that META tag-- I was getting your site just fine and the Expires value was always being populated with something reasonable. I think it actually worked this time.

I think that whatever problem you were having this morning loading your page was completely unrelated to any of this. Try it one more time!

knoxgirl said...

Tell me again how tough and independent a character you are


know: 9/11 changed everything. ooh -- my shadow! *jump*


Ruth Anne Adams said...

[S]o she introduces herself, and I realize she's a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, and now I'm willing to go along.

At first I wondered, "how could you not know Shirley Abrahamson just by her voice, much less a personal introduction?"

Then I did some research and realized there are two other female justices. Which one? PDR or AWB?

Derve said...

There's was an rsvp list viewable online, Ruth Anne. Look it up?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Derve: Thanks for the tip.
I'm presuming it was PDR; however, it's possible that it was AWB if she didn't RSVP but just showed up at the last minute.

Could happen.