Sunday, October 31, 2004

More Political Fun

Slap the Candidate!

It's strangely cathartic. "That's for cutting funding for Americorps!" "That's for not bothering to learn how to pronounce 'nuclear'!" "That's for lying about your intent regarding the draft!" "That's for being such a smug piece of crap!" "That's for refusing to take responsibility for anything in any meaningful way, ever!" "That's for using EPA funds to pay for campaign ads!" "That's for lying to the UN about WMD in Iraq!" "That's for your efforts to blur the line between church and state!" "That's for trying to take away my civil liberties under the guise of 'Homeland Security'"

If you hit Bush hard enough, Howard Dean jumps out and yells "Yeeha!". I've been trying to hit Kerry hard enough to provoke a similar response, but can't seem to hit him hard enough no matter what I try.

All of this frivolity, of course, is simply disguising my deep-seated anxiety over the election.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


I was the only student who showed up for Swedish today. That was both good and bad: good because I got the teacher all to myself and could therefore go as fast as I wanted, bad because when I walked out the front door this morning, I left my stack of books and notes for Swedish class sitting on the kitchen counter where I'd put them so that I wouldn't forget to stick them in my backpack. My plan had been to look on one of the guys' papers for today's class, a plan which obviously doesn't work if neither of the guys is there.

It was actually really productive. She had prepared a list of body parts. I didn't really need the vocabulary (although there were a few words that I didn't know), but we ended up using the list to really work on pronounciation. I was able to take the time to ask questions like "When you say that is the sound sitting at the back of your throat or on your tongue?" and "Is your tongue touching the back of your teeth when you say that?", then take the time to mold my own muscles and moouth to fit the descriptions. It really helped, too. I feel like I have a better feel for the vowel (and I just sat here for like 2 minutes trying to remember the English word for "vokal") formation in Swedish in opposition to German.

This is a really difficult thing for me. I've been told many, many times that my Swedish has a German accent, which is haha-cute the first few times, but pretty embarassing when you think about it. It is my goal for my Swedish to become as accent-free as my German and I don't just mean "no American accent". I've spent a lot of time softening my "s" and removing the "sh" sound from the letter combinations "st" and "sp" and that's gotten better (although "s" is something I have to be thinking about. As soon as I start to go on autopilot, forget it-- we're talking Wienerschnitzel and Sauerkraut.) But vowel sounds are sneakier. The most difficult for me is "u". I can hear the difference, but I have a lot of difficulty forming the proper shapes with my mouth.

It seems like she's pretty unhappy with the work being turned in by the other students in the class, though. At the beginning of class, she was very grim and started with a mini-lecture about the quality of work not being worth the three credits we (they-- I'm auditing) are getting for the class. Then she stopped mid-sentence and said something to the effect of "Well, you aren't the one who really needs to hear this anyway," and changed the subject. When it became clear that the guys weren't just running late, but weren't coming, she made some remark about how they were probably just afraid to get their midterms back.

I don't know how serious the other guys are about learning Swedish, although I do really like them both. I know for me it's something that gives me the chance to stretch my intellectual legs in a way that actually has some reward for the effort, which is a nice change of pace from law school. It's also a chance for me to do something that I really love. And I've already gone to so much trouble and expense that it seems silly not to squeeze every last bit of learning that I can out of the class. Sometimes it's a little frustrating for me when the others don't go as fast as I would like to, but I've also got more Swedish under my belt than either of them, so it would be incredibly snotty of me to fault them for that. Lord knows I wasn't the star of UISS.

And as much as I disliked Ylva, I have to admit that I worked my butt off and learned a lot in class. I feel like I might have learned more if I had been permitted to remain in Kalle's class, but socially, Ylva's class was probably a better fit for me. So I guess that evens things out a little bit. I know that Lune's a little disappointed in the results of her stay at UISS, and I understand why she feels the way that she does. I share some of her criticisms of the program. But overall, I think it was very worth it for me. In fact, if I thought I could afford to do it, I would absolutely go back next summer. It won't happen, seeing as it's time to, oh, you know, GET A JOB and start building a resume that might actually get me hired at some point in time. But if I were to, say, win the lottery in the next 5 or 6 months, I would go back and spend the summer picking apart my vowels and struggling with partikelverben.

Anyway, the status of class next semester is still up in the air. The teacher is going to see if the course could somehow be defined as a graduate course so that I might have hope of getting credit for it. She's also hoping to get a structured text book and have a meeting time more than once a week. I'm semi-stoked about the first one, since the text that she's picked for approval by the department is not your typical dialogue-based language text. It's a book about the history of Sweden up to modern times, including political developments and so on. The second part I am very much in favor of. Once a week for one hour is just not enough, especially when you have to share that hour with other students. We're all basically nice people, so none of us wants to hog the class time, which means that we often sit around the table politely waiting for someone else to answer the question instead of just answering it ourselves. I am especially concerned with not being "That Girl" who shouts out every answer and hogs all the attention, so that no one else ever gets a chance. At the same time, I worry that we're just bogging ourselves down with our niceness (it's actually quite a nice problem to have, if you think about it: EVERYONE'S TOO NICE! Oh, WOE IS ME!)

And now that I have to gå på Toa and my stjärt is going numb from sitting in these stupid library chairs, it is time to slutar blogging för idag.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Exercising My Right Not To Vote

... for Simon Leis, that is.

I took the time to fill out my absentee ballot tonight, googling to find information from various sources on the candidates that I was unfamiliar with. I especially liked this page on the League of Women Voters website. One of the things that has always bothered me when voting is the judicial races. First, almost every one of them is running unopposed. That's a different rant and we will return to it shortly. Second, you usually don't hear anything about the candidates, so you don't know what their record is, what their positions are, or anything else about them, really. There are rare exceptions, such as the judge who sentenced the parties in a domestic abuse case to get married to each other, prompting a media uproar and public scrutiny of his record as a judge. Third, even if you take the time to inform yourself about all the races, complete information on the judicial slates can be difficult to find. Minor and maybe even petty, but I hate not knowing what I am voting for (or against).

One candidate who I particularly liked stated in his political philosophy statement that he is opposed to the current system for financing judicial campaigns because it is effectively "buying a judge" and compromises the impartiality of the judicial system, especially at the State Supreme Court level, where millions of dollars have been spent on the campaign this year. In accordance with that view, he has limited contributions to his campaign to $10 per person. I agree with his view on the campaign finance rules and like that he puts his money where his mouth is.

And as for races where people are running unopposed:
Why does this happen? I could see that there might be some situations where the public is so deliriously happy with the performance of a given public servant that they would never dream of voting him out. But really, even then there are bound to be dissenters. Their voices should be heard, too.

I just don't see how it can be healthy for local government to have 9 of 31 offices be filled with candidates who ran unopposed. You may say that even an unopposed candidate could be sent a clear signal if a large portion of the electorate chose not to vote for him anyway. But how many people are aware that you don't have to vote in every category for your other votes to count?

Which brings us full circle to Simon Leis. He makes my hometown look ridiculous and acts like more and more of a whack job every year. I do not want him to be the Sheriff. But for the last several elections he's run UNOPPOSED. I mean, seriously, is there no other party out there that could float a candidate for this job? Libertarians? Green Party? Anyone? So I left his field blank. I am so happy to live in a place and time where I get to vote-- even if I chose not to vote for a candidate who's a shoo-in to win because he's running unopposed.

Punching the card was oddly exhilarating. It was like popping bubble wrap. PUNCH! PUNCH! and I totally wanted to keep going and punch out all of the holes, then call the Board of Elections to request a new ballot because I ruined my old one. But I was pretty sure that wouldn't go over too well and my vote is too important to throw away, even for the sweet satisfaction of another round of PUNCH! PUNCH! PUNCH!

Then I made sure to TURN OVER THE BALLOT so that I could CHECK TO BE CERTAIN THAT NO CHADS REMAIN PARTIALLY ATTACHED. It was clean as a whistle (although my desk and carpet are covered with tiny little chads. Makes me wonder what clean up of the rooms where they did the recount in Florida must have been like. Probably a real pain in the tuckus. Those things are worse than confetti.) and my vote for John Kerry is not imperiled by any ambiguous dimples or hanging chads.

HEY! GET READY TO VOTE! If you requested an absentee ballot, take a minute to fill it out and get it in the mail before you miss the deadline. If you're going to vote in perosn on Election Day, do your research now. Find out what the candidates support. Find out what their records show. Decide who will do the best job of protecting your interests and the interests of society as a whole. Then find a way to get yourself to the polls on Tuesday. There is NO EXCUSE not to make your voice --or your silence-- heard!

A Little Partisian Election Fun

Play the Give George Bush a Brain Game

More Template Changes

I really hated that last template. So I thought I'd switch to one with a more... autumnal feel to it.

What I didn't realize was that, once again, I would lose all of my comments. Sorry about that, guys. It's not that I don't care what you have to say-- I love when people leave comments behind-- but, well, I guess that's the price you pay for a little variety in life.

Here's a Little Halloween Fun

The Shining in 30 Seconds With Bunnies

Some of you have already seen this, but it's always worth another 30 seconds.

Monday, October 25, 2004

DeToqueville Returns

I just returned from a weekend in the City of Light with Finbar. It was nice to get out of Dodge for a while (even if it was only to the entirely inappropriately nicknamed City of Light) and very good to see Finbar again. I hate this long distance crap.

He's staying with his family for this short stint. The whole family is insane. Sometimes it's good crazy, sometimes it isn't-- but it's always interesting. Luckily SFB wasn't home for the weekend. That alone made things about 1000% BETTER than I expected it to me.

But I digress. I drove up on Thursday afternoon, about a four hour drive if you stay anywhere in the vicinity of the speed limit. If you're Finbar (otherwise known as "Ol' Leadfoot"), you can make the drive in about 3 hours and 15 minutes. I hate to drive more than anything. I hate hate hate it. I don't even like to drive around the city and long-distance driving lost its charm about 2 weeks after I got my driver's license. If I could get away with it, I would not own a car and would never drive. This drive wasn't too bad as those things go, but it was very depressing-- grey skies the whole way and drizzle most of the way. The further north I drove, the fewer leaves remained on the trees until by the time I exited the highway in the City of Light it looked like I'd been travelling in a time machine and ended up three weeks in the future.

The last hour or so of the drive I'd entertained myself by imagining the moment that I would arrive at Casa Finbar and fly into his arms for a humongous hug and kiss. I rounded the corner at the top of the street and... the only person at home was his younger sister, Sam. Not that I wasn't happy to see her. I like her a lot, but she isn't the person I wanted to kiss. It turned out that Finbar had gone to work out so that he would be free on Friday (his normal workout day). Well... OK.

I hadn't been sleeping well all week because I stayed up super late last weekend and messed up my sleep cycle. By the time Finbar made it home, I was too tired to go anywhere for dinner and couldn't even stay awake until he'd finished unpacking his gym bag and starting a load of laundry.

Friday, Finbar went to work and I ran some errands. Thanks to his father's intervention, the optometrist thinks that Finbar and I are married. But I got my glasses for about 1/3 off, so that's OK, I guess (plus it will be true eventually), but now I feel like I can never ever go back there again because I'm such a bad liar (which, more than any moral squickiness, is why I don't lie on principle) and they surely saw right through me and now they think I'm crazy. But then, maybe I'm exaggerating. *wink*

We made plans to go out with Sam and her SO for dinner that night. I chose the restaurant based solely on the nuclear-grade chocolate brownie and the kick-ass chocolate martini from the dessert menu and the fact that there was a 90+ minute wait was no deterrent whatsoever. Finbar and I left before Sam was even finished getting ready so that we could get on the waitlist. By the time Sam and her SO showed up, there were only 40 minutes or so left to wait. Sam's SO (I'll have to think of a nickname for him) started hemming and hawing about the wait. Apparently he had a friend in from out of state who was heading back the next day.Now, they knew where we were going. This place ALWAYS has a 90+ minute wait at the dinner hour, regardless of the day of the week. So it's not like they didn't know that this would happen. But more importantly, if he wanted to go out with his friend, he should have just gone out with his friend. We didn't invite them, they invited us. If he would have been upfront and just told us that he had other plans for the evening, there would have been no hard feelings. As it was, I was a little insulted that he was basically saying "well, there's some place I'd rather be, sooooo, could we hurry this up?" Ah well, he's normally a nice kid, so I'm sure he didn't intend it to come across that way.

Sam and Co. took off to meet the out of state friend, so it was just me, Finbar, and chocolate martinis at dinner. That was more than sufficient. In fact, I wish I would have skipped straight to dessert.

Saturday we went out to the small farm that we visit every fall to buy apples, cider, and pumpkins. I love this trip. It's a little more than a half hour along country roads lined with trees that are just explosively brilliant. No matter what the leaves look like in other parts of town, these trees are more colorful and hang onto their leaves longer. The farm runs a small shop starting in September and continuing until around Thanksgiving. The same woman is always behind the counter. It never changes-- a small oasis of timelessness.

Except that now it is changing. Not the farm-- it looks exactly the same as it always did. But the area around the farm is more and more developed. Over the past few years, you would turn down the road and see one or two new houses being built up near the tree line. But this year there were two separate housing developments with identical houses clustered in newly cleared areas. The little path that we used to pull off at for a short walk is gone. The farm no longer looks out across a wild meadow-- one of the two new developments is there. But the apples still taste the same and the cider is still tart and so apple-y that you half expect the drink to crunch in your mouth.

Saturday night we went to our very favorite Indian restaurant where we ordered items that aren't on the actual menu (mmmmmm, pakora khadi...) and witnessed a display of jackassery that made me want to strangle the table next to us.

This restaurant is owned and run by an Indian family and they usually have one or two people waiting tables who are freshly arrived in the States and struggling with the americanized English a bit. This is not a huge deal-- the other, more experienced waiters or the manager are usually hovering in the background and will step in if the new guy gets in over his head or gets too confused. If the customers are just a little bit patient, then everything usually works out just fine.

Just after we were seated and received glasses of water, the new guy brought a drink to the table next to us-- four middle aged people dressed from head to toe in black. Not goth black, more like pretentious artist black. The drink was in a martini glass, but was obviously not a martini. He placed the glass in front of one of the women. She looked at it like a cockroach was floating in it and in a voice that one might normally use to yell at a disobedient dog said "No. Whis.key. Sou.r." The new guy stammered something about yes, it is a whiskey sour. And it did look like the right color. I'm guessing that he got confused and poured it in the wrong glass. Call me crazy, but I don't think the Whiskey Sour is a traditional Indian drink. Anyway, she was having nothing of any whiskey sour in a martini glass and ordered him to (and I swear I am not making this up) "Take it away."

Some people don't understand the concept of the difference between being a
server and being a servant.

If it had ended at that, we likely would have forgotten the whole thing shortly afterward. Unfortunately for the poor waiter, things continued in the same vein for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately for the rest of the people trying to dine in the restaurant, it continued at a rather loud volume. They wanted to order something without any spice in it. Not something mild. Like any Indian restaurant, this place has a sliding scale of spiciness-- in this case, from 1 to 5, 1 being mild (and it's verrrry mild, practically no spice at all), 5 being hot. How hot seems to depend on how much they think you mean it. We usually order everything at a 3, but we joke that there's "Indian 3" and "Caucasian 3". If we order anything that's not actually on the menu, we usually get a much hotter 3 than if we order something "mainstream" like Rogan Josh. Anyway, the waiter (and by this point, they'd very astutely switched to one of the more experienced waiter and sent new guy to another section) started to explain the sliding spiciness scale to them. They cut him off (rude) and using the "bad dog" voice told him that they didn't want any spice at all. Why on Earth did they come to an Indian restaurant?? Then they didn't like the small copper warmers on the table. It was one thing after another until the poor waiter hardly knew whether he was coming or going any more.

In between abusing the server and staff, they talked at the top of their lungs about work. How they're sick of this policy and angry that they're only getting 2 weeks paid vacation this year instead of 30 days. You could totally have played Buzzword Bingo by listening to this conversation. By the end of dinner, I wanted to walk over and pour that freaking whiskey sour (which, by the way, the manager re-made and poured into the proper glass-- and she never touched it) right down each one of their black turtlenecks. Of course, I would have needed more than one whiskey sour to accomplish this, so it's just as well.

Following a minor skirmish over Sweetest Day presents, we went to the only good coffeeshop in the whole city, which was recently re-opened. Seems like the previous owner didn't like to pay his taxes... Anyhoo, it turns out that one of the baristas (is this word applicable to men as well as women?) was a guy that Finbar went to engineering school with. Seems he's unemployed (or, I suppose, underemployed), too. While they were shooting the breeze about their mutual job searches, I made eyes at a rather scrumptious-looking pumpkin pie in the window. Along about the time that Finbar launched into the story of the armadillo on the front stoop, I gave into the temptation and while I was waiting for them to plate it and douse it with whipped cream, this blond chick squeezed inbetween me and Finbar and goosed him.

Turns out that Sam and the SO (he STILL needs a nickname!) had come to the same coffeeshop. They joined us for an evening of howling laughter over the insanity of the family. I was really glad because it helped me to kind of get over my pique at the (possibly unintentional) slight from the night before and leave The City of Light with a better impression of Sam's SO.

I capped off the weekend with Sunday breakfast at my favorite greasy spoon and a shopping trip to Wegmans (oh, lord, how I miss Wegmans. How I hate Giant Eagle!) for some staples. Not to let the weekend go unspoiled, Finbar and I then proceeded to pick a fight with each other in the driveway.

I intended to make a dramatic exit, all tires squealing and "Thelma and Louise"-style UP YOURS, but let's face it, I'm not any good at that playing games stuff. With me, you get what you see and you see what you get. I'm generally very direct in my personal relationships. I ended up turning around and coming back to make amends and ended up watching the end of the football game (I. Hate. Football. The things we do for love...) as a sort of unspoken truce. I don't like to have unfinished business hanging over us-- we have a general rule that we don't go to bed angry with each other (not that it never gets broken) or that, barring that, we at least try to call a truce before we go our separate ways. It mostly works... mostly. Sometimes it means putting things on the back burner that are going to end up boiling over eventually anyway, and then it backfires. I didn't want to drive the four hours back and then spend the week agonizing over it. I guess I'll give up a little bit of my dignity for the sake of keeping the peace over the distance.

It was good to get away, even if it was only for a few days. It was better to see Finbar, even if it was only for a few days. Hopefully, the big biodiesel job will open up and he can come back to me for awhile.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

They Even Included a Stylus

I got my absentee ballot in the mail today. It's one of the infamous punch card ballots that caused so much trouble in Florida. The instructions make very sure to tell you to TURN OVER THE BALLOT when you're finished voting and REMOVE ANY HANGING CHADS. What I want to know is, what if I make a mistake? If I were voting in person and accidentally punched the wrong box (and they are tiny little boxes placed close together), I could leave the little curtained booth, go up to the nearest poll worker, and request another ballot. My mistake ballot would be immediately ripped up, then a new ballot would be removed from the box and given to me. This is obviously Not An Option in the whole absentee ballot procedure.

The cool thing about voting absentee is that I can use the internet to look up all the candidates running in the little local races. I've always hated when you would get to the candidates running for County Auditor or Town Coroner or whatever and not really know anything about either candidate off the top of your head. I believe in being an informed voter as far as possible, but some years there are so many races and issues that you just can't remember each person running. This will be by far my most informed vote EVER.

In Like Flynn

The official notice was in my mailbox this morning.I'm off the waitlist and on the enrolled list for Adoption Law AND Family Law! And in more glad tidings, the time and days for the course taught by the visiting professor have been announced and they fit perfectly into my schedule. I have 14 lovely credit hours and could potentially end up in 2 more if enough people drop Spanish For Lawyers! So now I get to go back to the Registrar's window and drop Professor Marian's class. I feel like breaking out the bubbly...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It's Called "Professional School" For a Reason

So stop acting like you're headed out for a night on the town.

Really, girls. And yes, you are girls, not women. There's no reason to be sitting in class all hoochied up in your super low-rise jeans and halter tops. It was bad enough when it was still warm, but now you're really ridiculous. If 98% of the people around you are wearing jackets, then the slinky black top made from a 6"x6" piece of cloth and a few pieces of elastic might not be the best choice to put on when you leave your apartment in the morning. And strappy sandals should go back into the closet by mid-October in this part of the country. If you can't put your clothes into separate piles for "Clubbing" and "School", then you need to rethink your clothing choices. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously as a lawyer if your boobs are hanging out? You don't have to come to school business casual, but you should at least make the effort to find an outfit that wouldn't get you kicked out of church for indecency.

And while we're at it, let's talk about your liberal use of perfume. First of all, one small squirt should be more than sufficient. If you think to yourself, "Gee, I wonder if I've got enough perfume on", you can always safely assume that the answer is "yes". Always. Second, there is no reason why you should be carrying a bottle of perfume in your bookbag. The corollary to this rule is that you don't need to reapply your perfume between classes. Third, if you choose to ignore my first two points, apply your perfume by spraying it on yourself. Do not spray it into the air and use your hands to waft it toward yourself. Who taught you that, anyway? Incredible stupidity of this maneuver aside, you are now contaminating my airspace. I don't want to smell like a funeral bouquet (nice fragrance choice there, by the way::roll eyes::) and walking directly through your chemical cloud is irritating my asthma. Also, in case you didn't notice, this bathroom does not have any ventilation. No windows, no fans, nothing. That means that now your icky fragrance is trapped in here for every woman who needs to use the bathroom in the next 45 minutes to enjoy. Thanks. Really.

Time Change

Is it just me, or is the end of Daylight Savings Time reeeeeally late this year? I’m kind of ready for it now. This getting up and out when it’s dark in the morning thing is hard. Especially when Finbar’s not around to drive me to school in the morning. Then I have to get up, make my own coffee, drive my own car to the Park-and-Ride, and ride the bus in to school. I know, I know, poooooooor me. Nonetheless, I miss Finbar most in the morning. Sometimes he’s the only reason I get up when the alarm clock goes off.

In the evening, it’s kind of nice not to have to take anyone else’s schedule into account. I’ve been eating horrible junky comfort food that Finbar would never go along with for dinner. For example, last night I sautéed mushrooms and onions, added cream of mushroom soup and poured the whole concoction over orzo. It was pretty good stuff, considering that the main ingredient was the Ambrosia of the Midwest—and the cheap Aldi brand at that. Finbar would want to bake garlic bread, toss a salad, and open a bottle of wine on top of the pasta. Then we’d settle down for a full sit-down dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I like coming home to that most of the time. I am, after all, Foodie Girl. But every once in a while, I want to do what I did last night, which is to make a big bowl of something sloppy and eat it sitting in front of the computer, reading the Television Without Pity recap of “The Apprentice”. It was a lovely evening.


“We spent all of High School and College learning that your writing isn’t adequate unless you take what you can say in a sentence and make it take a whole page.”

Well, I think you might have missed the point in every single course, chica. I never had a professor or a teacher tell me that wordier is better. In fact, I seem to remember being told on numerous occasions that the aim of writing is “Clear, concise, and to-the-point” prose. I break the to-the-point rule ALL THE TIME. I am just not capable of talking in a straight line, at least not in the casual context. In a term paper or a professional writing, that’s not the case.

On one memorable occasion as a Freshman taking a course with the Ph.D students, I got the only A in the class on the midterm. The professor held it up as an example because it was the only test that didn’t blather on for pages. His theory was that the wordier an answer is, the more likely it is that the author is trying to camouflage weak ideas. I think I agree with him. For the most part, people who are compelled to use 50 cent words when a 25 cent one would suffice and need four sentences to say what could be phrased in one turn out to be the people whose thoughts have no substance to back them.

Court is Back in Session

I bailiffed for the Moot Court again the other day. It was a whole different experience this week. First of all, no Judge Hottie. In fact, two of the three judges didn’t even bother to show up. A woman in her early 30s who was on the moot court team when she was a Pitt student herself was the only one of the three who came. When, at 6:15, it became apparent that the other judges wouldn’t be there, she got on her cell phone and called around to her colleagues and eventually talked one of them into dropping everything and running down to Our Law School to judge. At 6:30, we had to tell one of the teams that their trial was postponed until sometime next week. I felt horrible for them. They were all prepared to go, dressed up in their suits, dragged their exhibits into school.... and then they get told to just go home.

It turns out that there are actually people who don’t want to advance to the next round. I was shocked! I mean, to me, there’s no reason to do something like this if you don’t want to win. Not that doing something like this has no value if you don’t win. I sincerely believe that it’s all in the journey and in challenging yourself to be the best you can be. But it just seems strange to me that you wouldn’t want to find out that doing your best turns out to be the best, if that makes any sense. Apparently, though, there are people who are only in this for the one credit hour that you earn if you complete the first round. People who go on to the subsequent rounds are not given any additional credit—they are competing for the glory of it, if you will.

I ended up as the bailiff for Judge Blonde. She was... one tough broad. That’s the best description I can come up with for her. She has no time for nonsense and doesn’t want to hear your excuses. I explained the timing rules, gave the lovely “all rise” speech (and remembered to ask for her name beforehand, so that’s an improvement) and she jumped right into the proceedings. No “pre-trial motions” on her docket, no siree.

Opening arguments started and you could see right away that these guys were not in the league of the teams that I saw last week. Stammer, stutter, repeat yourself, lather rinse, repeat. It was awful to listen to. But the important thing is the questioning of the witnesses, so a terrible opening isn’t the end of the world.

Oh God, the questioning of the witnesses. Rule number one of questioning witnesses is Know Thy Rules of Evidence. Let me tell you just how very much the Plaintiff’s attorneys violated this rule. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that in the heat of the moment it can be difficult to see clearly enough to know exactly which rule is being violated, even when you know there’s some problem with the question. But there is no excuse for not being able to defend your own line of questioning against the opposing counsel’s objections. One of the first things we did with our lines of questioning back in the day was to try to think of all the possible objections that could be made to each individual question and then come up with the reasons why the objections should be overruled. These attorneys not only didn’t do that, they must not have even read the rules of evidence before the competition ever. The Defense totally destroyed several of their key lines on direct. Then they failed to prevent the defense attorneys from bullying their witnesses all over the playground during cross-examination. It was sad, really. I kept wanting to leap up and yell “Asked and Answered! Asked and Answered!!”

I think my favorite part of the night was when, after the two sides had been bickering back and forth over whether the defendant could testify that he was driving at a “reasonable speed” for five minutes straight, Judge Blonde finally yelled in exasperation, “Will somebody please ask the defendant whether he looked at the speedometer or not?” Beautiful.

The timing rules for these trials are pretty simple. You get a certain amount of time for each witness (it varies for each witness). For example, for direct examination of the plaintiff, the attorneys had 20 minutes. Then the defense gets 10 minutes to cross-examine the witness. Following the cross, the plaintiff’s attorney then has the opportunity for re-direct of the witness, but only if there is time remaining from the direct examination. In other words, direct + re-direct cannot equal more than 20 minutes. This becomes a matter of strategy—how much of your time do you want to reserve for re-direct when you may not even need it?

The attorneys don’t even have to time themselves. That’s one of my jobs as a bailiff. I sit behind the judge and to the side so that both sides can see me. I record the time that the examination begins and when it gets close to the end of the allotted time, I hold up a 4x6 notecard that has the remaining time written on it. There’s a warning at 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, and 10 seconds. Then the bailiff is to stop the questioning, regardless of where it stands.
I hold these cards up above my head and generally try to keep them up until the attorney sees it, or until the next card goes up—whichever comes first. The previous teams that I bailiffed for were very good at 1) positioning themselves so that they could see me out of the corner of their eye OR 2) having their partner watch for the warnings and give them a signal. These guys were just not paying attention. It didn’t really matter for the most part, because they were not coming anywhere near the allotted time limits. But the Plaintiff came back for re-direct of a witness with only one minute remaining. He saw the one minute warning for sure because he was looking directly at me when I raised it. And his partner saw the 30 second and 10 second warnings, but didn’t say or do anything. Finally, I called “Time”. He glanced up at me and kept going like I hadn’t said anything. I repeated “Your time is up” in a much louder and firmer voice. His jaw snapped shut so fast I swear I heard his teeth crunch. Then he tried to argue with me that his time couldn’t possibly be up. Judge Blonde nipped that right in the bud. He “apologized”—and that’s in quotes because what he said was “I’m sorry. I know you’re just doing your job.” Which is not an apology in my book. But whatever—it’s not personal, I would do the same if LaPresidente or War Or Death were the attorney involved.

Now I’m really interested to see who gets to the next round.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Seriously, Don't Sit There!

Dragonbreath caused a chain reaction today that resulted in my seat being taken when I arrived late this morning (I was registering for classes—Add/Drop began at 9 am this morning). I’m sure he thinks that this means he scored some kind of points on me.

I spoke to Professor Feedback after class to let him know the extent of my displeasure and to point out the correctness of my prediction as to the consequences of allowing Dragonbreath to set the policies for seating. It made him totally flustered.

“Oh, I thought I’d solved that problem”

“Well, no.”

“What can I do about it?” (Don’t forget to imagine the Jimmy Stewart voice and stutter.)

“You can tell him to either sit in his own seat or to make an official and permanent trade with someone else.” Boy, anonymous grading sure has made me brave.

This concept seems to have thoroughly blown his circuits. He wandered off down the hall, muttering something about talking to Dragonbreath. I think Ol’ Dragonbreath may have replaced Daisy Burpee in first place on my Hate List.

Verbal Pimpslap

I love it when the professors tell Skippy he's an idiot right in front of the whole class. I hate it when they let him keep talking anyway.

Add/Drop Part II

I registered for the Adoption Law Seminar (#1 on the waitlist), Copyright Law (replacing Business Organizations, which was at the same time and for which I was #32 on the waitlist), Spanish For Lawyers (#4 on the waitlist), and Intro to EU Law. Let’s talk about that last course. It is being taught by a visiting professor. That could be good or bad. Some visiting professors are phenomenal and really bring a breath of fresh air to the learning environment. Others are well-meaning experts in their field who haven’t taught very much, perhaps not at all. They struggle with the specialized skills that teaching requires, much to the detriment of the students. My torts professor last year was like that. An obviously brilliant woman who didn’t know how to teach a course. It was very painful. By the last week of the semester, she was getting the hang of things, and I would gladly sign up for one of her courses next year. But it is safe to say that my torts class was not one of my more productive learning experiences.

The problem, however, is not the professor. The problem is that there is no time or day for the course. It’s TBA. RRRRRRRRR! How are you supposed to know if you can take the course if they can’t tell you when it’s offered? Especially when the class is not being taught in a normal time frame. It’s a two credit hour course. Those are usually taught once a week in a two hour time block. This course will be taught in two two hour time blocks for the last seven weeks of the semester. So that significantly increases the chances that it will conflict with another course that I’ve registered for. Unless they offer it at some crazy time tike 3-5 pm on. I registered for it anyway, and I was the first one to register, so I definitely got into the course.

So let’s sum up: Nonprofit Orgs (2) + International Dispute Resolution (2)+ Copyright Law(3)+Intro to EU Law (2)= 9 credit hours confirmed.

Family Law (3)+ Adoption Law (2)= 5 credit hours likely to be added.

14 credit hours so far... not bad.

As long as I get into Family Law, I can drop Professor Marian’s course (yay!). If I get off the waitlist for Spanish For Lawyers (don’t know how likely that is), then I could possibly also drop the course even if I don’t get into Family Law. Nur keine Panik, that’s what I keep telling myself. Nur keine Panik.

Professor McPherson

I’d like to introduce you to Professor MacPherson. He’s an interesting guy. Decent looking, snappy dresser, funny... in fact, a little too funny. You see, Professor MacPherson thinks he’s still a student himself. He’d like us all to think he’s the funniest, the hippest professor—Mr. Popularity. He’s also the only professor of his particular ethnicity on staff. He often sprinkles his lectures with hip-hop oriented slang that borders on ludicrous for a man of his age and occupation. For example, today he wanted to know the tax consequences for a guy who sold a famous-for-some-record-breaking-thing baseball for “three LARGE”. This irritates me. It’s almost as if he thinks he has to “keep it real” to prove himself to the students who share his ethnicity, which is ridiculous, because he’s obviously extremely intelligent. But occasionally this habit is unintentionally funny, as on the day that he muttered under his breath, “You gotta take da marginal tax rate inna account for damn sure”.

Professor MacPherson is so busy being funny and ripping on the Yankees that class lecture is nothing more than an irritating afterthought. There are approximately 125 students in the course and you could, on any given day, walk up to at least 90 of them and get the same answer to the question “What do we need to read for class today/next time?”, namely, “I dunno.” Class is scheduled to last for 100 minutes plus a 10 minute break. He has never once kept us for the full class period. We always take a break that lasts closer to 15 (or even 20) minutes and class ends somewhere between 75 and 85 minutes. Not that I’m complaining about this. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that this class is so disorganized and aimless that it’s painful to be there. It might not be so bad if the Ethernet connection at my seat worked, since then I could escape into the joy of the internet. Unfortunately, I chose my seat based on its location in the room. That was back when I was still naively expecting that the class would be interesting and I would learn a lot. Now I wish I’d chosen my seat based on which seat had a functioning Ethernet port. Live and learn, I guess.

The thing is, I don’t dislike Professor MacPherson. I would absolutely invite him to go out drinking with the group. But that’s kind of the problem—he constantly acts like the kind of guy you’d want to go out and drink with. In a way, it robs him of the authority that he should have if he wants to control a classroom. And let me tell you, there are few classes so uncontrolled as his. It’s not that there’s total anarchy or anything. But people don’t come to class prepared. People leave at break. When he calls on someone in class, he is more likely to get a smart remark about the Yankees than a straight answer to the question he asked. And in an astounding moment of candidness, he told us that he “doesn’t like to ruin people’s GPAs” so he rarely gives anything less than a B “unless you just ain’t tryin’” (and I swear, that’s a direct quote). Which is great for me, but good Lord, why would you remove any motivation that might have remained to go out and find other resources in an attempt to learn the subject matter? The whole point of taking the course (aside from the fact that it’s four desperately needed credit hours) was to learn the material in preparation for the bar exam. And yes, I know I shouldn’t rely on others to supply motivation for me, but I need some help here—the lack of reward for your effort in law school will drain even the most motivated of scholars.

So, today I’ll sit in his class for another two hours (and by two hours, I mean 75 or 80 minutes) of my life that I’ll never get back. I won’t learn anything. I won’t be taught anything. I probably won’t even take notes. I *will* however, fantasize about a world in which my understanding of Federal Income Taxation and the legal theory behind it would be increased by my presence and work in Professor McPherson’s class.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Every Little Bit Helps, I Suppose

Especially when you almost failed in your last effort to throw your state's vote your brother's way (Thank God for The Supremes!) Maybe disenfranchising large numbers of voters before they have the chance to possibly choose the "wrong" candidate will help.


Easy Targets

"No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office." -- Covert Bradley, fitness expert

"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then--we elected them." - Lily Tomlin


Another Stupid Internet Quiz

Except that I liked this one. So, I guess that means that *I* don't think it's stupid.

What Kind of Girl Are You ?

I'm sure it won't cause any heart failures to tell you that I'm a hybrid of "Indie Girl" and "Foodie Girl". The sad thing is, the only reason that I don't own every single thing listed in the Foodie Girl description is that I can't afford to buy it... yet. No wonder I can't get back to that Kate Moss-esque stature I once had as an undergraduate with no time to cook or eat.

Friday, October 15, 2004

My Creative Side Needs a Kickstart

Finbar and I have an anniversary coming up. I have to come up with an idea for a present. The thing is, I always do something creative and meaningful for our anniversary. One year, I made up a stack of cards entitled "101 Cool Things About Finbar". Another year, I bought twelve Yankee Candles that had names that corresponded to key events in our relationship over the previous year and a candle holder to burn them in. One of my crowning moments was the mix-CD and accompanying booklet in which I superimposed the lyrics of the songs (which, again, corresponded to key events in our relationship that year) over a collage of movie tickets, pictures, etc. from things we'd done together that year.

Any one who knows me knows that I have a presents problem. I am compelled to search for THE PERFECT GIFT for everyone, for every occasion. I am not capable of just buying a token gift for anyone. Christmas shopping is a nightmare with me. I've tried delegating some of the choosing to Finbar and just giving him the money to buy the stuff, but I can't do it. I must pick out the perfect gift. Period. It's a sickness, really. The positive side of it is, that if you've ever received a present from me, you know that it was from the heart and that a lot of thought went into it.

Anyway, I'm ready to start working on Finbar's anniversary present now because the big day is just over a month away and I'm in law school, so I haven't got a lot of free time OR cash. The problem is, I have NO IDEAS at all. I even went to Michael's and JoAnn's and just walked around looking at stuff, searching for inspiration. No dice. I used up all the good ideas already??? The only thing to do is dump him, I guess ;) Start over with some other guy who won't know that I'm just recycling ideas from my previous relationship.

Do you guys have any inspiration for me?


So after my not-so-succesful experience with registering for classes last year, I am desperate to get into some courses during the add/drop period for Spring semester, which starts next week. I am currently registered for seven credit hours, three of which are a course that I would dearly love to drop, as it is taught by Professor Marian, and I'm not sure that I can stand another semester of her. But I can't possibly drop it unless I can not only replace it, but also find at least 5 (preferably 7 or 8) credit hours of other classes. And that's not going to be easy.

The courses offered next semester are truly less than inspiring. It's heavy on the Civil Procedure and technology end of things. And a lot of the courses are only two credit hours each. The three credit hour classes are almost all offered in the same couple of time blocks. And anything decent already has a waitlist a mile long.

Following the original registration and adjustment period, I am number 2 on the waitlist for Family Law. I desperately want this course. It is a pre-requisite for a myriad of other courses. It is also three credit hours. However, I don't know how likely it is that I'll actually get in. The professor teaching it is supposed to be the better of the two who normally teach the course. Half the law school wants to take it for the same reasons I do. And the fact is only 120 of the 450 or so students eligible for the course will be admitted.

I am also on the waitlist for a course called Alternative Dispute Resolution. It conflicts with Family Law, so I would drop it if I am added to Family Law. But I don't want to drop it if I don't get into Family Law. But you're automatically registered for the course if you're on the waitlist and enough people drop it for their number to turn up. So I could find myself in the position of being registered for both courses at the last minute of the add-drop period. And you are charged $5 each time you process an add-drop slip (because apparently $28,000 in tuition isn't enough to cover the two or three minutes that the registrar's office has to spend on processing my add-drop form). Seeing as I am very, very poor this year (blew all my money on that study-abroad nonsense), I don't want to spend a single dollar more than I have to for this crap.

Which leaves me with the task of finding ten credit hours of other courses, just in case I don't get into any of my waitlist courses. So far, I've decided to definitely register for Copyright Law, which has lots of spots left and is taught by a professor I immensely respect and like. The only other course that I'm really inspired by is Adoption Law.

Unfortunately for me, Adoption Law is a seminar course with limited enrollment AND has Family Law as a pre-requisite. I just so happen to have the professor teaching it for a class this semester. I approached her after class Wednesday and asked if she would consider making an exception to the pre-requisite. She asked me to either stop by her office on Thursday or write her an email explaining why I wanted her to do so. Last night, I sent her an email telling her about how I'm adopted myself and why that makes me interested in taking her course. She emailed me back this morning and told me that she is willing to waive the pre-requisite because she thinks that my personal experiences will enrich the class. Woo hoo! But wait, let's temper that excitement because the course is already full. Boooooo. She told me to register for it to get put on the waitlist and to come to the first class. If, after add-drop and scramble day, there are still no openings, she will see if there are other options available to me for taking the course.

I would also like to take Spanish For Lawyers. This course also has a waitlist, of course, so I can't really enroll in it. It is two credit hours, so it's not a big help in my quest for a full schedule. But it would be useful in my quest to do immigration law. And it would (I think) be fun. Y'all know how much I loves me foreign language classes. And it's not like I'm getting any credit for the Advanced Swedish courses I'm taking.

So that brings the total of courses where I'm hoping for someone (or two someones) to drop the course so that I can get in to THREE.

Best case scenario: I get into Spanish For Lawyers, Family Law and the Adoption Law seminar. That would give me fourteen credit hours total. If I drop Prof. Marian's class, that leaves me with eleven. I would like to have 15 credits minimum so that I can not have to kill myself next year to reach the 88 credit hour minimum to graduate. I have no other attractive options open to me. The unattractive options include Employment Law, and ummmmm... well, not much else, really. I'm at a complete loss.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004


It's been a "Frukt är inte godis" kind of a life lately. But in this insane spurt of insomnia, I googled up Grynet. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to reclaim the "Ta ingen skit!" part of my life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

It's Funny 'Cause It's True

I just added this blog to my list of links here. It's probably only funny to other law students and lawyers, but feel free to read it if you don't fall into either category. The writing is just exquisite. I especially liked the section on Torts.


Maybe He Should Organize a "Chippendales Night" at the Local Pub

Finbar isn’t going to take the North Carolina job, even if they offer it to him. I feel guiltily relieved by that, because it was never my dream to live in rural North Carolina and I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the employment prospects for myself there. After visiting the company and getting a taste of their operation, philosophy and the working environment, he’s thinking that the company is too unstable financially (they have all their eggs in one basket that could—and probably will be—upset by events in the Middle East) to justify a move to an unfamiliar area with no support. He also thought that there was little “team spirit” for lack of a better term, making him uneasy with the prospect of entering a new industry and a new living area with co-workers unwilling to help each other out.

It’s difficult to watch someone who you love go through an extended period of unemployment. The frustrations and insults to your ego are nearly incessant when you find yourself rejected again and again over a period of weeks or months. How can you not start to take it personally when you essentially hear over and over again: you’re not good enough to work for us?

It’s scary, too. If someone who has not one, but two degrees, both with honors, and has worked at more than one Fortune 500 company over the course of his career, can’t get a job despite months of intensive searching, what’s to say that it can’t happen to me or to someone else I love? He follows all the advice you usually see in the employment columns. He treats the job search as his job, getting up early every morning and sitting at his desk by 8:00 a.m. He keeps meticulous records, follows up on any leads that he gets, and sends thank-you notes to the interviewers. He has cast his net fairly wide, too, not limiting himself to just this city or to jobs in his specific field of interest. Despite a fairly wide geographic area (he’s willing to consider just about anything in the East, Texas, Arizona and large parts of the Midwest, so long as it’s within shouting distance of an urban area—that part is so that I’ll have a chance of finding a job there when I finish law school). Just about the only thing he’s ruled out is the West Coast, which is more of a quality of life issue than anything else. We’d like to be able to pay down my student loans and get a foothold on house ownership—at 30-something, it’s time to start putting down roots. Jobwise, he’s looking at not only research, but also technical sales and techwriting jobs, so it’s not like he’s limiting his options there.

He’s currently back in The City of Light for a four week “job interview”. Which is very odd, if you ask me. The company did not want to interview him. Instead, after reviewing his resume, they asked him to come work for them for four weeks. If they like him, they will make him some kind of unspecified offer for more permanent employment. Personally (and maybe I’m just a horrible cynic), I think it’s more a case of they have a job that they think will take about four weeks and they don’t want to pay a temp agency. We’re both looking at this as a four week temp job. If something better comes of it, great. If not, no big deal—four weeks of work is better than no weeks of work. Plus it places his unemployment on hold, which is a bonus.

I keep telling him that he should get his own blog to write down the things that happen in job interviews. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction in this area. From the company that invited him to an interview more than 1,000 miles away and refused to fly him in, to the company that expected him to stay in the company trailer on the owner’s ranch more than 100 miles from Houston (when he arrived, he found an armadillo on the doorstep and dusty bare light bulbs in the ceiling among other... rusticness), to the company that asked him for an interview in one department, then sent him to three different departments until he ended up interviewing for a completely different position that he wasn’t qualified for and didn’t want (and the final guy interviewing him yelled at him for “applying” for that job when he didn’t have the right experience—Finbar was so shell-shocked by that point that he didn’t even know what to say)—the stories are as endless as they are depressing. Sometimes I wonder how these people keep their jobs.

And so here we are, exactly where we’ve been for months now: no job, no real prospects for a job, no money coming in, no idea where he’ll be in six months. The problem with all of this is that it’s not just about him and his job. I need to know where I’ll be taking the bar pretty soon. And I’m here to tell you that I have no intention of taking the bar more than once. Do I go ahead and take it here? Or in the state I came from? Or in some other, third party state where neither of us has ties currently but where we think both of us might possibly find employment? It makes me slightly ill thinking about this. How do other people manage this? Are there other couples with professional careers in different fields that can make something like this work without one of the couple essentially giving up their career? We don’t have or want children, so that should theoretically make it easier, but so far, I don’t see any real advantage to it. Neither of us minds moving to an area away from our families (and in fact, neither of us currently lives in an area where we have family), but at the same time, it gets harder and harder to uproot yourself, move your whole life, get to know a new city with new neighborhoods and new culture, make new friends, etc. But then again, maybe it’s getting harder because I’ve done it so many times. And maybe it’s just because everything else in my life seems so unsettled, so I’m looking to sort of “hang my hat” on some small hook of stability. I’ve always been a big proponent of the idea that you have to live somewhere where you have no ties at least once in your life to learn how to build those ties, to find out who you are when you don’t have the ready-made background you find with your family or with lifelong friends. That’s how you grow as a person. And it’s good to leave your comfort zone every so often.

At any rate, I’ll be here in Our Fair City for at least another year and a half. Who knows what happens then?

“The ship in a harbor is safe, but ships are made for sailing.” (no idea who actually said this, but I’ve seen it attributed to Mark Twain.)

Hello, How Are You?

One thing that I just don’t get is people who can’t even say hello when you pass each other in the halls. There are quite a few of them at Our Law School. Now, I don’t like everyone who goes to school with me here. In fact, there are quite a few people for whom the old ant hill and honey treatment would be too good. But we’re all grown ups. Short of someone who killed your puppy or pushed your grandmother down the stairs, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to greet each other cordially in the halls, especially if you run into them out of the law building.

I think my new passive aggressive fun is going to be purposely greeting the people who do this. How much of a jerk do you have to be to totally ignore someone who says hi to you directly? Makes you look like a jackass if you do. It’s sort of a variant of the “kill ‘em with kindness” school of thought.


Monday, October 11, 2004

All Rise

It’s obviously been a busy, busy week, when I haven’t had time to post to the blog. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re doing things that matter. But it seems like this week has been nothing but a series of small annoyances that you can’t ignore. Taking care of these things doesn’t give you any sense of accomplishment. You can’t even see any difference in your surroundings like you do if you clean out your closet or organize your CD collection or whatever. So I spent the last week doing things like filling out yet another copy of my financial aid paperwork (which the financial aid office can’t seem to keep in its files for more than 60 seconds straight), mending some items for Finbar, cleaning out a box of papers, etc, etc.

The one thing I did that was acutally really cool was that I was the bailiff in the first round of mock court eliminations. I originally signed up just for a chance to do something extracurricular and to get a peek at what the mock court is like. I was actually kind of dreading it by the time Wednesday rolled around. It involved coming back in to school in the evening (which is never a good thing) and was scheduled to last three hours (which seemed like a pretty long time to listen to anything at law school). But I am nothing if not a woman of my word, so I dragged myself into school at 5:30 pm.

The meeting time for the students involved was 6 pm. At 5:30, the lounge was filled with students wearing suits and ties who were running over notes and tweaking lines of questioning. Occasionally one student-attorney would run up to another student-witness and make a breathless declaration like “They’re going to ask you about the exam you performed at the hospital and whether a knee could pop out later. Don’t speculate! Just tell them that the knee presented at normal!”. At 6 pm, there was a mass exodus to the first floor meeting point, where the same suited and tied students milled around with nervous bravado, acting as though they go to court every single day and this is nothing, nothing to be nervous about for them.

A few local attorneys, presumably alums of Our Law School, had volunteered to act as judges for the competetion. The other bailiff and I sat in a small side room with them, waiting for the last minute preparations to be finished. Two of the judges were quite young, possibly even younger than I. I promptly nicknamed them Judge Red (‘cause he has red hair) and Judge Hottie (‘cause, well...). The third judge looked like he might have been in his late forties. He didn’t really interact with the other judges or with us, so I didn’t get the chance to assign him a cute nickname. There was much laughing and joking about the cost of attendance at Our Law School, which has skyrocketed in the last few years— coincidentally at the same time as the school made the big push and broke into the first tier—and the strange spending priorities evidenced by the renovations to the library and the addition of several flat screen TVs (which are used to display a daily calendar of event and the current weather condition and are another rant altogether) to the public areas of the school, while the elevators are falling apart and the wiring doesn’t allow you to turn on two microwave ovens at once in the kitchen area.

Anyway, Judge Red and Judge Hottie seemed like nice guys—very funny and not at all arrogant (unlike many other young attorneys who are still busy trying to establish their place in the pack). My theory is that this is because they both work for very, very small firms where they don’t have to scrabble to be noticed and where they have been given heavy responsibilities from Day One. Judge Hottie was especially attentive to me—in fact, it might be said that he was flirting with me quite heavily. Scoring sheets were handed out to the judges, timing sheets and time cards were handed out to the bailiffs, and the basic rules of procedure were explained to us. Judge Red asked Judge Oldie (see, I just came up with a nickname for him; I just needed a chance to interact with him – or in this case, his memory—to come up with one) if he had any tips for judging a competetion. Judge Oldie promptly replied, “Overrule everything”. Nervous laughter from all involved. Judge Oldie continued, “Overrule every objection just on principle. Give the opposing counsel the chance to respond and explain why it should be admitted. Then overrule it anyway, unless the issue is really obvious. That will give them the most practice at objecting, responding to objections, and contending with loss of evidence or admission of unfavorable evidence.” He chuckled. “I once had a student send a “Notice of Appeal” to my office the next morning.”

That’s beautiful. Can you imagine having the sack to do that? Personally, I would offer that student a job on the spot. Well, that might be a little overboard. But it should be rewarded somehow!

The organizer came back to the room and assigned one judge to each room. Then she asked if I had a preference about which room to bailiff in. Judge Hottie piped up, “Oh, are you going to bailiff with me?” Do you see my eyes rolling back in my head? The organizer says, “Sure, why not? You two go to Room 1. Good luck!”

Room 1 was right outside the “Judges Chambers”. Judge Hottie wanted to know how the room was set up and where he was supposed to sit. The he wanted to know how I thought he should run things. Then he wanted to know if he needed to hear pre-trial motions. Good Lord, man! It’s the first round! Relax! Is there a spot on the sheet for pre-trial motions? No? Then you don’t need to hear them! Or go ahead, if you like, but they won’t make any difference. It wouldn’t make any sense to even have this competition if you could just prevail on a motion for summary judgment, now would it?

I walked in to the room and was really quite relieved to see that none of the students involved were people that I know personally. I know I wouldn’t want to have my first presentation be in front of someone I know, especially someone who I’m not close friends with. I’m sure others would feel the same way. I explained the time limits and the rules for re-direct and answered a few questions about the procedure for the evening. Then I walked up the aisle to the place we’d designated as the bailiff’s seat during our hallway conversation and began my big bailiff’s speech:

“All rise.” And they did, which made me want to giggle for some reason. “Court is now in session in the county of Allegheny, the honorable Judge...” uh, what the heck is Judge Hottie’s name? “The honorable Judge Hottie presiding” probably wouldn’t go over too well. Oh jeez, you’d think I would have had the brains to introduce myself at some point. Where are my manners? And if I couldn’t be polite, I should have at least had the brains to ask his name for this exact purpose!!

“Dan Stevenson" Judge Hottie to the rescue! I finished my speech, Judge Hottie ordered us to be seated and asked if there were any pre-trial motions. Someone made a motion to exclude some testimony or something like that, Judge Hottie overruled it, and opening arguments began.

There were four student attorneys involved, two on each side. On the Plaintiff's side were two women I didn't recognize at all. On the Defendant's side were a man I vaguely recognized and a woman who I knew by sight mostly because she is one of the older non-traditional students. It was she who presented the defense to the objection and although she was noticably nervous, I was really impressed with her argument. As the examination and cross-examination of the witnesses began, I was really floored by the quality of the presentations.

It was kind of odd, seeing my classmates suddenly mutate into attorneys. I mean, you're kind of used to seeing people dressed in suits and ties because of OCI. It kind of doesn't even register after a while. But it was different altogether watching them examine witnesses, lay out arguments, contest evidence, and so on.

I really enjoyed myself in the end. My job kept me just busy enough to not drift off during hte boring parts of the night, but the proceedings were actually far more interesting than I expected. It was almost like a sporting event-- watching the volleys, holding your breath to see if someone drops the ball... At one point, the Plaintiff objected to a certain witness's testimony on the grounds that it was hearsay, which happens to be the subject we've spent the entire semester up to now discussing in Evidence class. And I, from my perspective outside the heat of the moment, immediately knew how the Defendant needed to phrase his defense of the testimony to get the objection overruled. But he wasn't hitting on it. In fact, he wan't anywhere near it. And I soooo wanted to jump up and be like "The testimony isn't being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted! And it's a statement against interest anyway!" This was actually one of those clear-cut cases where Judge Hottie could have overruled the objection with reason (as opposed to just following Judge Oldie's advice), but the attorney just wouldn't give him a reason to. The judge even started asking him very pointed questions trying to nudge him in the right direction, but the poor guy just wasn't getting it. Judge Hottie finally had to sustain the objection.

But that was the only really big mistake I saw. For the most part, everyone was great and very professional. The only breach of that was one of the plaintiff's attorneys kept playing with her hair and couldn't stop giggling-- probably nerves. It was really cool.

Post trial, Judge Hottie kept the flirting going right up until the moment when Finbar showed up to pick me up. All of the participants had left, so it was just me and Judge Hottie. I was waiting for him to finish filling out the scoring sheets, since it was my responsibility to collect the sheets and turn them in. Finbar came in and sat with me at the back of the room. Judge Hottie's scowl got deeper and deeper. When he finally finshed the scoring sheets, he couldn't even be bothered to shake my hand (rude!) and rushed out of the room as fast as his little legs would carry him.

I had a lot of fun anyway and I volunteered to bailiff in the next round as well. Next year I might even go out for the team myself. I would really like to go up to each of the participants and tell them how great I thought they were, but I wasn't sure that it was appropriate at that point. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see them in the next couple of days and tell them.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My Eyes! My Eyes!

You may have noticed the toolbar at the top of my blog. It has a small search engine that lets you search only in my blog, a button to the Blogger homepage, and a button called "Next Blog", which randomly opens one of the gajillion other blogs hosted by Blogger.

I love this button. I can sit and click it for ages. I've surfed onto some very cool blogs that way. I've seen blogs written in many other languages. A surprising number of them are written in Icelandic, especially considering the fact that there are less than half a million Icelanders. It seems like everyone in Iceland must have a blog on Blogger. Surprisingly few of them are written in French or German.

I have a few simple rules for use of the "Next Blog" button. First, any blog that uses "133t" speak orTyPeS LiKe ThIs is to be clicked past as quickly as possible. Ditto any blog that plays music. I also refuse to read any blog like the one I saw last night written in such poor English that the author should be hunted down and sent to prison for Felonious Assault on a Language. And no, I don't mean people who are obviously not native speakers of English. I mean the blogs whose authors "rite stuffe like thiz...they like 2 think it's kuul, they shud no better". And the bottom of the barrel, as far as I'm concerned, is any blog that attempts to download something to your computer. Otherwise, I don't particularly care what people choose to write about or where they're from or what the name of the blog is. You either like the stuff they write or you don't-- either way, they'll keep on blogging and no one will ever force you to read something you don't want to.

It's really kind of cool to see exactly what people like to blog about. Some blogs are intensely personal, others more facetious. I found a bunch of 1L blogs the other day and spent hours reading them, laughing (in a "it's funny 'cause it's true" and a "been there, done that" kind of way) at the progression that many of them show from their entries in August ("I love law school! It's so challenging and invigorating! I know I'm smarter than all of my classmates!") to the entries at the end of September ("Oh my God, I have so much work to do! The reading is killing me. And why are the profs so mean to us?"). Many of them are also beginning their first Legal Research and Writing assignment-- the Closed Research Memo-- and are muy stressados about that. All I can say is, I can't wait for the entries when they finish their first set of exams and get the grades. A little cruel perhaps, but again, it's that recognition of one's own foibles that makes it funny. A laughing through the tears kind of laugh.

But today, thanks to the wonder that is "Next Blog", I accomplished what years of experience on the Internet and wanton Googling of just about anything you can imagine could not do for me: I accidentally pulled up porn.

Well, OK, it's sort of not the first time it happened. The first time I was only a bystander, though. One of my collegues and I were organizing a "Hole-In-One" contest at a charity golf outing and needed to order one of those little collapsable plastic tents that you can set up to provide shade. Cee was pretty sure that she'd seen them at Dick's Sporting Goods, so we decided to check their website and see if we could have it delivered... I'm sure you can fill in the next part of the story yourself. Did I mention that our boss and the owner of the company was a very conservative Catholic who would break into a nervous sweat at the mention of any topic that might suggest that people have naked bodies under their clothes or bodily functions of any sort? Did I also mention that he was in the building, in his office, directly in the line of sight of the computer screen, while this was happening? And of course, we were both so shocked that we started screaming with laughter, hissing at each other "Turn it off! Get it off the screen!". Ah, good times. Let that be a lesson to you: never assume that the company's name + .com = a valid url for that company.

So anyway, here I am, luckily at home and not, say, in the student lounge, and I click "Next Blog", and what should appear on my screen? A blog whose first entries included pictures of a young girl "wearing" nothing but a bra. I put "wearing" in quotes because it was posed to look like the bra might slip off (oopsie) at any second. It was nothing more than a thinly veiled advertisement for a pay porn site and was so stupid that I had to laugh hysterically for five full minutes. I clicked "Next Blog" again and thought the story was over, a cute little anecdote to tell my friends tomorrow. But, in the words of Dave Barry, I am NOT making this up, in the next half hour, I clicked into two more thinly veiled ads. All three were under the same user name and had been started in the last two days or so.

I wonder if some smut peddler decided that putting up a whole slew of "blogs" would be good advertising. It's free, right? Of course, I would think it would be difficult to reach your target audience. But then again, I would guess that it's no less effective than spamming people. I also wonder if it's against the Blogger Terms of Service?

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Which means that I've lost all the previous comments. I'm sorry if that upsets you, but there's nothing to be done about it. Feel free to take this as an excuse to leave new comments all over the place.

Happy Birthday, Death

Happy birthday to yet another of the Horsemen. I’m glad War introduced us. Law school wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you. May the next year be filled with job offers, men throwing themselves at your feet, and exams that are so easy you fall asleep while taking them.

Ear Worm

I hate cute cellphone rings. I especially hate ones that make noises other than electronic ringtone music. For example, the one that the (otherwise very nice) coffee cart lady here in Our Law School has recently downloaded to her phone and wants to show every single student that comes in to buy a latte. It starts off playing the first few bars of the old kindergarten favorite “Halloween Is Coming” , then switches to a high pitched whistling sound that I suppose that is supposed to be a scary, scary ghost saying “woooooooooo, woooooooooooooooooooo”. It makes me want to grab the phone right out of the (otherwise extremely sweet) coffee cart lady’s hands, stomp it into little pieces, and spit on the remains. The worst part of it is that the “Halloween Is Coming” part turns into what is called an “ear worm” in German.

An “Ohrwurm” is a song that gets inextricably stuck in your head, the most famous example being “It’s A Small World”. And as everyone knows, there is no cure for an ear worm—except another ear worm. Unfortunately for me, “Halloween Is Coming” seems to be a much stronger ear worm than even “It’s A Small World”. So now I want to throw myself on the ground, stomp myself into small pieces, and spit on my remains.

Monday, October 04, 2004


This quote from another (most excellent) blog sums up a major part of my life’s philosophy:

“Most people aren’t used to being confronted on their stupidity and will yield if called on it.”


Said without preamble:
“You know that law firm in Washington, D.C. that does International Law?”

Yeah, ‘cause there’s only one of those.


She's Gonna Blow!!

Mt. St. Helens is about to erupt! Maybe. Possibly.

The famous volcano has a special place in my heart for two reasons. I had just started school when the last eruption happened. Strange child that I was, I preferred the evening news to the cartoons, so I got to see the apocalytic imagery firsthand as it filtered out. Unfortunately, I didn’t yet grasp the concept of the distance involved between Ohio and Washington. I constantly ran to the windows to look for a cloud of ash blotting out the sun, images from the Bible mixing in my mind with the televised coverage from Washington. Before I would go outside, I would look up and down the street for the flow of lava that I imagined being the product of the eruption. I was terrified of the destruction that I was truly convinced was headed our way.

Many years later, I finally got around to taking my science gen ed in college. The choices were Chemistry (which I almost failed in high school), Physics (which I had to drop in my German high school), Biology (which had a five-day-a-week four hour lab—who are they kidding??), Life Science, and Geology. Having narrowed it down to the last two, I visited the bookstore to look at the textbooks for the course. The book for the life sciences course looked deadly boring and cost almost twice what the Geology text cost. So I registered for Geology. Then I had to choose between two classroom elements: Intro to Geology or a three-part sequence called something like “Survey in Real World Geology”. Now really, given those two titles, which course would any other science-phobe take?

It turned out to be a great choice. The first part of the course was called “Geology of Cincinnati” and involved weekly field trips where we observed different rock formations, fault lines, caves, and so on. We also learned quite a bit about how human activity affects and is affected by the geological features of the area they live in. For example, we visited a neigborhood that was built on an artificially created hill with a creek at the bottom. The neighborhood had started off just fine. Unfortunately, as more houses were built (increasing the weight on the artificially created hill) and the creek continued to erode the soft shale banks at the bottom of the hill, the land under the houses started to literally slide down and cave in from under the houses. We were able to walk along the street and then along the creek banks and see the processes at work. I was instantly hooked.

The second part of the sequence was to do with glacier formation and ocean currents. It was most notable for the teacher, who was a hippy from the old school of hippiness. He had wild hair, wore Birks everyday (even in the middle of winter), and really loved it when the students would come to visit him in his office. Again, lots of fun and I learned more than I ever expected to learn from a Gen Ed class.

The final part of the sequence was the “sexy” part: vulcanology. Of course, by the sheer nature of the course, it was only an overview of the field. We learned (more) about plate tectonics (which we’d touched on briefly in both of the previous parts) and about things like inclusions and geysirs, and then we got to the meat of the course. We started off easy with the formation and evolution of the Hawaiian islands. Then we talked about Iceland (which, incidentally, was the previous prof’s pet topic, so we’d already covered it in great depth by means of small asides in lecture and coversations before and after class). Then we spent more than a week talking about Mt. St. Helens (you had to know I’d make it back here eventually).

The professor had assembled a great array of video footage, photographs, and charts/ graphs documenting the eruption and its aftermath. It was, if you’ll pardon the expression, devastatingly effective. The computer graphics and charts were frightening enough, but the testimony of survivors of the eruption was chilling. It is somehow unimaginable that something like that could happen in someone’s suburban backyard, or in a major city. But there it is—piles of ash making streets impassable, torrents of mud sweeping heavy rescue equipment away as though it were nothing more than a pile of Tonka trucks.

The professor followed up day after day of this with several more days of charts and data from a number of other places in the U.S., including Yellowstone National Park. It was almost like being a child again. I was (and sort of still am, in an insane kind of way) too terrified of a massive geothermal eruption at Old Faithful to even contemplate a visit there. And Seattle? Forget it! Don’t you know there’s a buncha volcanos there, just waiting to blow?? (Although now I have a strong reason to want to go to Seattle, so I guess I’ll have to overcome that irrational fear.)

And now it looks as though Mt. St. Helens is ready to speak again. I wonder, though, how much of the coverage is due to the fact that Mt. St. Helens is a “sexy” volcano—it's famous, it has a history, people know what it means to say “Mt. St. Helens erupted”. All indications so far are that any eruption that occurs (if there is one at all), will be fairly mild as these things go. The other thing I
don’t get is the footage I keep seeing on the news of people lining up along the observation decks to look at it. Hello! Don’t you people remember what happened last time? Seriously, do you think you can outrun the product of a volcanic eruption? Maybe what needs to happen is that people wishing to stand along the viewing platform be required to watch video tape of the last eruption and to listen to the radio transmissions from the geologists who were caught in the blast and died. Personally, if I were near a volcano that suddenly started spewing steam and ash, I would leave the area as fast as my little legs (or my four little wheels, as the case may be) can carry me.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Happy Birthday, War

A happy birthday to the Fourth Horseman. I miss you tons, but I’m glad you’re getting the opportunity to spread death and destruction in London, as you’ve wanted to for so long. As my german Papa likes to sing for birthdays: Viel Glück und viel Segen auf all deinen Wegen.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Are You Registered To Vote?

And have all of you living in places other than your usual district requested your absentee ballots? Many states' deadlines for voter registration are Monday. If you still need to register, there are a gajillion websites that can either do it for you or point you to the forms to do it by mail. Off the top of my head, for example:

And if your state hasn't gotten with the times and, like OHIO, doesn't allow you to register to vote online, take a moment to ask your elected officials to make a change to that policy.

There was an interesting segment on NPR this week about local voting rights for college students. I personally never understood why this wasn't already the policy. College students are almost without exception of voting age. Few of them are felons. What logical reason could there be from preventing them from voting in the district where they spend the overwhelming majority of the year (if not the entire year)? They are affected by decisions made on a local level, so why shouldn't they have a say in those decisions and in the election of those who make the decisions? In many cases, they are also tax payers in that district. This is another change that I would like to see made to election law/policy in the US.

And let's not even get started about the Electoral College.

Anyway, don't take your privilege (and no, it's not a right-- SCOTUS sez so) to vote for granted. Get registered, get informed, and make your voice heard on Election Day. A single drop of water may seem insignificant, but lots of drops of water formed the Grand Canyon.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Please Bear With Me

It was brought to my attention that the background on my last blog shows up on some peoples' screens as a piercing day-glo green. I hate websites that hurt your eyes. So I picked this less colorful template. Which needs some major tinkering to get it to my likin'. And that's going to take a while. In the meantime, don't worry if strange things start showing up.

Apartment Hunting

Finbar is apartment hunting again. Which means that I am apartment hunting vicariously though him. Now, that's OK with me. I really like looking at different places to live. In fact, as dork-a-licious as it sounds, I would find a tour of all the local open houses an appealing way to spend an afternoon. It's a little bit vouyeuristic, I suppose. I like seeing the insides of different houses. In fact, when we go for walks in the evening, I like to look in through the windows of the houses we pass. I don't want to see the people. I want to see the wallpapers, the lighting fixtures, the built-in bookshelves (drool). I like imagining what I would do with the space if I lived there. I like thinking about sitting on the front porches or weeding the flowerbeds. It's a kind of sickness, I suppose. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking. I am so tired of renting. I want to own my own little piece of real estate where, if I spend the money to buy elaborate moldings or take the time to paint the rooms, it's taking care of my investment, not embellishing a property that I'll be relinquishing to its real owner sooner or later. I long for a washer and drier that I don't have to share with anyone else-- and that I can use at anytime of the day or night and even leave the clothes in the drier or washer while I go to the store because I don't have to worry that someone else will need to get in there and will throw my stuff on the floor of the laundry room. I can't wait for the day when I can rip out all the cheap carpeting and either refinish or install wood flooring.

But I digress.

The problem with apartment hunting with Finbar is that it's like looking for a dog with my dad. My dad has always been a hunter, and when I was a child, he always had one or two dogs that were trained to rabbit hunt. (And before any of you decide to go off on a rant about how evil hunting is-- spare me. I don't hunt personally and don't like to even look at guns. My father doesn't hunt any endangered species, or any animal that we or our friends don't eat. He never shoots an animal for trophy pieces or leaves it to die in the woods.) These dogs were always working dogs, not pets. They were well-fed, groomed, and exercised each day. But they were not animals that my sister and I were allowed to play with and were NEVER ever allowed in the house. They had special kennels behind the house. Nonetheless, we always got attached to the dogs and it would cause many tears when a dog that could no longer hunt or was too old or sick to live in a kennel without being cruel would be moved to my aunt's farm or to a friend of my father's home, where it could live out its remaining time being spoiled by someone else. And then the process of finding a replacement would begin. This usually meant visiting a series of breeders and people with "Puppies For Sale" ads in the newspapers. My dad, who I'm sure thought that this was a good way to spend time with the girls doing something fun (I mean, we loved dogs, right?), would line up appointments on Sunday after church and we would drive all over the county looking at dogs in people's basements. They were always beagle pups, and anyone who's ever seen a beagle knows that 1) they have the cutest little puppy faces, 2) they have the saddest puppy dog eyes, and 3) they are very friendly dogs who just want to be looooooooved. So, my sister and I would be practically shaking with delight at the wriggling, yelping puppies. We'd always fall in love at first sight with every single one of them. My dad would stand around talking to the people selling the dogs, looking for whatever magic qualities that he wanted in the dog, giving us just enough time to cement the bond with the puppies, aaaaaaaand then he'd decide that this dog wasn't just right. We'd be crushed-- and he'd be totally mystified at the tears. In all the years before we got Dottie (the last hunting dog he's owned in a long while), he never once understood why we were so incredibly upset by this whole process.

Finbar does this exact thing with apartments. He takes me to a place with lovingly maintained hardwood floors, original turn-of-the-century hardware, built -in bookshelves (drool), and low rent, lets me fall in love with it, aaaaaaand then decides that it's not exactly what he was looking for. He did it again today. I loved this apartment so much that for one insane moment I actually considered moving out of my very nice living situation and renting the apartment myself. I want this apartment so bad, it makes me want to cry. And now he's hemming and hawing about maybe it's too small, maybe he can find something cheaper, what if he gets that job in North Carolina (God Forbid), what if, what if, what if. It makes me want to kill him.