Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Apathy +Ignorance = Great Customer Service

Scene: Information table for one of the major bar prep courses. Two paid student representatives are staffing the table. A third year student walks up.

3L: When is the third year deposit due?

Rep 1: [chews gigantic mouthful of food taken seconds before 3L approached the table]

Rep 2: April.

Rep 1: [swallows mouthful of food] No, March. March 15, I think.

3L: [slightly confused] Oh. [hesitates] I don’t know why, but I thought it was sometime in February?

Rep 1: Oh [laughs], maybe it is.

Rep 2: [Reaches for information book]

Rep 1: Well, you’ll definitely get a bill.

3L: [laughs nervously] Oh, OK. Well, if they’ll send a bill... [drifts slowly away from the table]

Rep 1 and Rep 2 go back to their conversation.

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How I Plan to Pay Off My Law School Loans

I got a chain letter in the mail. No, not an email. An actual, honest-to-god chain letter on actual paper in an envelope addressed to me and mailed with a first class stamp. I didn't know people still did this. I kind of figured they'd moved on to 419 Scams.

This letter doesn’t actually resort to threats of imminent harm to myself or my family members should I fail to send the required copies within seven days. Instead, it relies on the innate greed that exists in all humans, describing in great detail the lavish lifestyle the sender—or maybe it’s supposed to be the original writer, since I’m supposed to photocopy the letter, etc., etc...—has achieved via his/her earnings from this pyramid scheme, uh, I mean “legitimate investment opportunity”. It also includes the requisite language about how the plan is “authorized” by Postal Regulations Numbers XXXX and YYYY. I briefly considered pulling those regulations up in Lexis Nexis just to see what they actually say (Did the writer choose numbers at random? Do the regulations actually exist? Do they have anything even marginally to do with sending chain letters?), but my idle curiosity isn’t enough to overcome my innate laziness.

The new twist on the old story is that the person obtained my name from the Direct Marketing Association of America. This is nakedly admitted to in the body of the letter and I am kindly provided with contact information for DMA and two similar organizations, so that I can obtain a list of names and addresses to send my own letters to. Presumably, this is so that you aren’t ostracized by friends and family who might actually tell you what they think about someone who would fall for this scam.

If you go to the Post Office website, there is a lovely warning about this type of letter scam, if you know where to look for it. I’ll totally turn this letter in the next time I head to the post office, too.

It’s funny, though, because as a child, I participated in several post card chains. Each person was asked to send a post card to the six people on the list and theoretically would get a bajillion post cards in return. Each time, I received a handful of post cards—not the enormous mountains of them that the letters promised, so I was always a little disappointed, but still, for a ten year old, five post cards from far-flung places is still pretty cool. I actually ended up being pen pals with one of the post card senders for awhile. The memory of the little thrill I got from opening the mailbox to find mail! addressed to ME! from someplace far away! means that I always send things to my youngest cousins when I go abroad. Now that my friends’ children are starting to get to an age where they would be excited by getting mail, I’m looking forward to mailing post cards to all of them, should I ever get to go anywhere again, that is. I wish that SOMEONE would include me in a round of Flat Stanley—I have friends in all kinds of crazy places that I can send it on to, several of whom are teachers. In other countries! Pick me!—but so far, no luck. I did come close once, when a girl I worked with had a nephew whose class was doing a Flat Stanley, but the person who was supposed to send him to me sat on it too long and Stanley didn’t have time to visit my family in Germany and the friend studying in Denmark and her brother living in London, plus whichever other random people we could dig up in other countries. I’m telling you, my friends and I could give a second grade class the Flat Stanley of legend. Especially now that I have friends who have friends who go to places like Jordan and Pakistan and Korea and Taiwan...

Monday, January 30, 2006


And I thought I was clumsy.

That guy must have seen his entire life flash before his eyes when those vases shattered. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind in those first awful moments when he began to realize what had happened?

Jelly Belly Flavors I'd Like to See

Fresh baked bread

Birthday cake

Chocolate Martini


Pumpkin pie



Marechal Foch


I would NOT, however, like to see any of these flavors until the stomach ache I have from eating at least a half pound of the currently available flavors of Jelly Bellys in the past two hours goes away.


Not Exactly Cross Dressing

Even though I bought it here at school, in a fundraiser for one of the student organizations, it weirds me out a little to see someone else wearing “my” hoodie with the logo of Our Law School. Especially if it’s a guy, because in my mind, illogical though it is, it’s a girl sweatshirt.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Silver Lining

Sometimes my bad habits work for good instead of evil.

Today, I intended to go running, taking advantage of a rare sunny day with unseasonably warm temperatures. Late in the afternoon, I put on workout clothes, but instead of getting up and leaving the house immediately, I sat down on the couch to watch the end of one of A&E's interminable design shows. The next thing you knew, 20 minutes had gone by and I was still sitting on the couch when the skies opened up and rain came poring down in great gushing streams. Had I left the house as planned, I would have been 20 minutes into the run-- close to the furthest point, distancewise, and facing a long, wet, and cold journey home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rumbly in my Tummy

Last night, I carefully prepared my lunch for the day. I made a ham and gouda sandwich on buttermilk bread with just a touch of mustard to add moisture, but not enough to overpower the taste of the surprisingly good gouda. Then I prepared a salad of field greens and feta cheese. The balsamic vinaigrette went into a separate container to keep the greens crisp. Then I added a carton of oh-so-delicious, good for your bones Brown Cow yoghurt. Perfect light lunch, healthy but substantial. It went into the refrigerator, to await a hurried departure in the morning.

Noontime rolled around and I unpacked my sandwich. It was very good, though just slightly soggy. I should have held off on the mustard until the last second. Following that, I took the lid off the salad... and discovered that it had turned to a mushy, strange smelling mess. I don’t understand what happened. I’ve packed salads on numerous occasions, but I’ve never had one turn so gross so fast. Sigh. But at least I have my yummy yoghurt. I popped the lid and stirred it all up, then took a big bite... and gagged on the unmistakable taste of a slightly spoiled dairy product.

Let’s review:

Sandwich: good, but soggy
Salad: Wilted and nasty
Yoghurt: Spoiled

Overall lunch score: 3 out of 10 (the gouda is really good!)

Is It So Much To Ask?

I know we’ve only been back from break for three weeks, and the dispenser has only been empty since before Fall Semester exams, but I really would have thought that the soap in the Women’s Restroom could have been refilled by now.



I can’t decide which pair of these shoes I’d be most willing to mortgage a piece of my soul for:

Ilse, so cute, so Alpine!


Professional... but I want it in the green felt, not the too autumnal brown that is the default picture.

If I were in a more practical mood, I’d also add these two to the list:

Roxy. Kicky, yet suitable for the office!

Fran... in the darker brown or the green.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Almost As Good As Chuck Norris

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Katze!

  1. Grapes explode if you put them inside Katze!
  2. There is actually no danger in swimming right after you eat Katze, though it may feel uncomfortable!
  3. The canonical hours of the Christian church are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, Katze and compline.
  4. When Katze is swallowed, she will enter the blood stream within twenty minutes!
  5. Ninety-six percent of all candles sold are purchased by Katze!
  6. Katze does not have toes.
  7. Britain's Millennium Dome is more than double the size of Katze!
  8. If you drop Katze from more than three metres above ground level, she will always land feet-first.
  9. California is the biggest exporter of Katze in the world!
  10. The patron saint of Katze is Saint Eugenie.
I am interested in - do tell me about

ETA: In reading comments on this post, I realized that I omitted to mention that this came from Eep. Mea culpa!


Cost Benefit Analysis

While I appreciate the potential disruption of the learning environment that can occur when students come in late, I would dare say that interrupting the lecture three separate times in the first ten minutes to scold the latecomers and impress on the class your intense desire for everyone to take traffic disruptions into account and be certain to arrive on time is even more disruptive and is unlikely to have a great effect on the chronically late. Extreme lateness is one thing. Wandering in four minutes after class starts is another. And if the same students are late over and over, perhaps a chat with those students outside of class is in order.

Just a friendly thought. Love you otherwise; today’s lecture was great. I'm really enjoying this class. In fact, I'm sad that I don't have another chance to take classes with you. But really, let's be reasonable.

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Skewing the Numbers

If there is a sudden spike in heart attack related deaths in Our Fair City today, you can place the blame squarely on the bus driver on my way in to Our Law School this morning. The first time I saw him stop with three or four inches between his bumper and the car in front of us, I thought it was one of those little things that happens from time to time. Anyone who’s ever driven a car will have at least one such occurrence in their past: the stop sign you missed, the car traveling in the lane next to you in your blind spot, the left turn in front of a car moving a little faster than you thought when you started the turn. Alas, it quickly became apparent that this was no one off, never-happen-again occurrence. Each stop involved a quick intake of breath by the passengers at the front of the bus. I began to think that the driver was engaged in some self-imposed challenge to see just how close he could get the bus to the next closest vehicle without actually touching, with a goal of measuring the results in molecules. Now, I’m sure that the driver is extraordinarily talented and has utter control over the multi-ton hunk of steel we are all riding in at every moment. I am certain that he is the Chuck Norris of bus drivers. Still. The law of averages would seem to say that sooner or later, things are bound to end unhappily. I’m just thankful that I got off the bus before that could happen.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


I don't mind the sorting and washing and drying part of doing the laundry. I kind of like folding the warm clothes fresh from the dryer. It's somehow zen, relaxing. And in the winter, I cherish the opportunity to steal heat from yet another source. When I was in high school and had to wait a very long time in the pre-dawn winter dark for a bus, I used to put my clothes in the dryer while I took a shower and did my hair and packed my school bag, then dressed in the toasty warm clothes right before I left the house. I love the clean smell of freshly laundered clothes. There are few things better than slipping into a bed made with freshly laundered sheets.

So why is it that having done all of that, I cannot seem to make myself actually put the clean, folded laundry away?

Wasted Trip

I went to Goodwill this afternoon to look for a new coffee table and to drop off some items that I've culled from my closets recently. I drove to one a little further away than usual because it's also near a Wal Mart and I needed to supress the gag reflex that even the thought of that stupid yellow smiley face induces so that I could buy my milk. The day that Tarjhay starts carrying Parmalat will be a great day in my life. A great day, indeed.

But I digress.

On my way out the door, I picked up the two bags of clothes and stuff that had been sitting in my solarium, waiting for my next trip to Goodwill. When I arrived, I plucked the bags from the backseat, tossed them in the donation bin at the front of the store, and went merrily on to pick through the racks for an hour. I scored an angora sweater and left happy. Then I continued on to Wal Mart, picked up a couple bags of groceries, and headed home, feeling productive and industrious. Arriving home in the dusky twilight, I carried the groceries inside and started unpacking them, then remembered that I'd thrown the bag from Goodwill in the trunk of my car. I ran outside, popped the trunk, and realized that I'd left the other three bags of stuff that I wanted to drop off sitting in the trunk, entirely forgotten since the afternoon earlier this week when I put them in the trunk with the intention of dropping them off this weekend.


Guess this means I'll have to work another trip into my schedule. Maybe I'll go to the big one near the mall...

Friday, January 20, 2006

But You Didn't Buy It Because It's "Cool"...

It cracks. me. up. when an SUV swerves to avoid a tiny bump or small pothole in the road. What is the point of all wheel drive if you're afraid to hit a two-inch bump in the sidewalk?


Thursday, January 19, 2006

In a New Element

Ash and I started swimming recently. This is a huge step for me. I didn’t learn how to swim until I was 27 years old. People usually look at me as though I’ve just announced that I still use Betamax when I say that, but there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for it. There was no money for swimming lessons when I was growing up and we didn’t live anywhere near a body of water that people might swim in, so I had never had opportunity or particular reason to learn as a young child. Then, when I was fourteen, I was at the beach with a friend. We had waded out a little way, until the water came up to maybe halfway between our waist and our chests, and then were riding the small waves on little inflatable rafts. I lost my grip on the raft and when I splashed after it, I got caught in a small riptide. Then, suddenly, I was in much deeper water and I couldn’t stand any longer. I tried to “swim” in a line parallel to shore, but I knew I wouldn’t last long, and started to feel panicked. I called to my friend, but it took a while for him to understand that I was in trouble. Luckily, he didn’t try to save me himself, but yelled for help and soon a lifeguard was headed toward me. I have never been so frightened and I could feel how tired my legs and arms were, waiting for help, trying to keep my head above water, but it was getting harder and harder.

For several years afterward, I could not get into water any deeper than my knees, or maybe my waist. Not even in a swimming pool, where there is no such thing as a riptide. My heart would start to pound, my head would feel dizzy, and I would feel an utter panic that I knew made it dangerous for me to be in the water, both for myself and for the people around me. The fear gradually lessened. I forced myself to wade into a pool as far as I could before the fear started and stay there as long as possible while trying to think about how safe I was and how different a swimming pool is than a large body of water. A friend of mine in Germany was a great help in this regard. His family actually took me to the Baltic Sea and to the North Sea and he literally held my hand through my first subsequent experience with the open water. I still feel incredibly uneasy in any water where I can’t see the bottom or where there might be a sudden drop off. A few summers ago I was at Laga Di Garda in northern Italy and while my girlfriends swam in the warm, sunny water, I was left behind. Now, don’t feel too bad for me: I was in Italy, it was sunny, the sand was warm, there were hot Italian waiters at the nearby café, and yummy, frothy cappuccino. Not exactly torture. Still, it would have been nice to join them in the water.

Sometime during college, I finally came to the realization that I needed to learn to swim, not just for safety’s sake, but because it was the only way to conquer the fear totally. I finally got my chance when I went on vacation to Walt Disney World with Finbar. Over the course of the week, I learned the basics of freestyle. It was incredibly liberating. Not that I had any strength or endurance at all. But I felt a little less helpless.

So, now I’m learning how to be a better swimmer. I’m learning how to breathe properly, how to use my arms more efficiently. Today, Ash started teaching me to do the breaststroke and I’m enjoying myself in the water for the first time since I was fourteen. I want to feel capable and safe in the water. I’d like to be able to swim in a lake again. I’d like to not feel afraid to go kayaking with my friends. Right now, I’m still very slow and I have no real endurance to speak of. But I’m getting a little better all the time. Every time I get in the pool, I feel like I’m getting stronger, and I don’t mean physically. It’s very empowering to be taking steps toward conquering a terrible fear.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

May It Please the Court

I spent most of my time at the university this weekend rather than lazing around my apartment and sleeping until noon. No, I haven’t suddenly decided to start studying like a real law student. I was volunteering as a judge for a high school Mock Trial tournament.

I have fond memories of my own stint on my high school Mock Trial team. I was nearly the only student who didn’t have dreams of going to law school—and ironically, I believe I’m almost the only one who actually ended up going to law school. I was the master of cross examination and literally made at least one witness cry on the stand in each of our trials. Our team coach, who was a prosecutor in my hometown, once expressed the fervent hope that should I ever go to law school, that I not join the local public defender’s office. I also found it great fun to find ways to get the other side’s key testimony excluded.

Isn’t it strange that I have no desire whatsoever to go into litigation of any kind?

Anyway, the view from the other side of the bench is quite different. The kids are so adorable in their little suits, I just want to scream. And then they stand up and say things like “Objection! This is hearsay!” “Your honor, this testimony is not being offered to prove the truth of the matter at hand.” and I just want to pinch their little cheeks. My favorite moment was when one attorney began his opening statement by smiling at the bench and saying “Good afternoon, ladies”. A hysterical mental image of what would happen if you addressed a judge in the real world as “lady” kept me entertained for several minutes.

Anyone who wants to test their knowledge of hearsay exceptions should volunteer as a judge for these things. Their materials intentionally build in numerous examples of testimony, the admissibility of which is dubious. Prior bad act? Statements made by the murder victim to a third party? Excited utterance? Got ‘em all.

At the end of each round, the judges offered comments to the teams. In one round, you could tell that one team was feeling pretty down because they’d lost several important skirmishes over admissibility of their testimony. The problem was that their questions were phrased in a way that left the answers open to attack on grounds of relevance and hearsay. The problem was compounded by the fact that they didn’t know the Rules of Evidence well enough to argue the case for admitting the testimony. When it came time for comment, they were unable to hide the naked expressions of pleased surprise when I had high praise for their performance. The fatal flaw in their line of questioning didn’t change the fact that their opening and closing statements were not only well structured but moving, and their witnesses were very well prepared and held their own on cross examination. They took copious notes when I talked to them about how they could work to improve their questions and move to protect them from attack, and left the room looking much, much more pleased with their performance. I bet the one attorney on that team was even more surprised to learn that I’d chosen her as the Outstanding Attorney in that round.

I wonder how many of the kids we saw today harbor dreams of a career in the courtroom? How many of them will end up in law school? How many of them will choose an area of law that will actually offer them the chance to enter the courtroom on a regular basis?


Get a Little Closer, Don't Be Shy

The bus was intensely crowded this morning. Deodorant commercial crowded. We were pressed in together, swaying back and forth, trying not to knock each other over with each lurch of the bus. The driver was doing his best not to slam the brakes or swing around the corners too violently. As we approached a stop, someone a few rows back started making their laborious way toward the doors, and the people around that person tried to move to the sides to allow passage to the front of the bus. I guess I didn’t move far enough because she placed her hand sqarely on my back and pushed—not very hard, not violently, just a little “signal push”, if you will—compelling me forward just slightly and eliminating the mostly symbolic half centimeter of space I’d carefully maintained between myself and the man standing in front of me. Let me tell you, I normally only stand that close to Ash. And of course, she stopped right there for what felt like an eternity, but was probably really only 10 or 15 seconds, drawing out the moment of awkward closeness. I looked up at the poor guy whose remaining personal space I had just stolen and using my best Joey Tribiani voice said “How you doin’?”. He started to laugh. The woman moved on and I stepped away again. He winked at me and said “Was it as good for you as it was for me?” and the people around us started laughing, too.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Willing to Die for His Art

Two busy roads intersect near the university. An older man, perhaps in his mid 60s stands directly in the middle of the left lane of a three lane westbound road, trying to take a picture of one of the buildings with a small point-and-shoot 35 mm camera. At first, the traffic is stopped for a red light and everyone's happy. Then the light turns. The woman in the van the man is standing in front of laughs a little at first, and waits far more patiently than I would have for him to step back out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Instead, he starts to back up, without looking, toward the center lane, attempting to get a better shot of the building. The woman taps her horn to warn him, still smiling. He stops, turns, and starts screaming obscenities at the woman who probably just saved his life, and purposely steps to the line between the left lane and the center lane, effectively preventing both lanes of traffic from moving and goes back to framing his shot, turning his back to a stunned driver who just tried to do him a good deed, and not even looking to make certain that the driver in the other lane was going to be able to stop for him.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Senate Follies

The Scalito confirmation hearings are on the television in the student lounge right now and the honorable Senator Joseph Biden just whipped out a baseball cap with the Princeton logo on it, put it on, and has spent the last thirty or so seconds adjusting it, bending the brim in. Now, it's noisy enough that I can't actually hear the sound, so I have no idea why he's doing this. It may be making some incredibly brilliant point that will strike fear into the hearts of conservatives everywhere, but from where I'm sitting, it looks... silly.

And the nominee's suit looks just a little too big for him from this camera angle.

I want to want to watch these hearings. But in reality, they're simply too painful to listen to for very long. Mostly it strikes me as a parade of overpaid old boys who are using their time at the mike to blather on about whatever issue they think is going to play well on the local news back in their states, even if it seems to my admittedly uninformed ears as though it's utterly irrelevant to Alito's fitness for the Supreme Court.

I think it would suck royally to be one of the people standing around in the background. Yeah, at first, it would be pretty cool, being a witness to history and all that jazz. But I imagine standing still for hours on end, trying to look interested, yet composed would get old very quickly. I would spend the entire time feeling imaginary itches, then wondering if I'll be in the background on C-Span at the exact moment that I chose to adjust the underwire poking me uncomfortably in the ribs, then trying to stifle a yawn, then realizing that I've been woolgathering for several minutes and feverishly hoping that I wasn't just on C-Span in the background, slack-jawed and with glazed eyes.

I know that some image consultant somewhere probably told them to do so, but the men look ridiculously uniformed in blue suits, white shirts, and either a blue or a red tie. It endears Arlen Specter to me just a little that he's wearing a brown suit and a green tie, even though they don't really match, just because it's different. Plus, the tie is a great shade of green.

I wonder what Mrs. Alito is thinking right now. She's obviously not really paying attention to what's being said at this exact moment (she's got the glazed eyes going on). She's also breathing very heavily. Whoops, she just "woke up"-- you could see her eyes suddenly snap to focus and she swallowed very hard.

I also love it when the Senators make a big deal out of yielding their time. "And now these meetings will end 4 minutes earlier than they otherwise would have." Bonus points when they repeat similar sentiments several times, significantly reducing the number of minutes yielded back while at the same time contributing nothing more to the substance of the hearings.

Was that supposed to be a trick question? "Let's see... Do you remember which Supreme Court justice wrote the opinion in Roe v. Wade?" You could practically see Alito's inner eye roll.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Why Bother?

If you're 40 minutes late for a 50 minute class, is there any point to coming at all?


By the Numbers

Number of minutes in line at the post office: 74

Number of postal employees visible behind the counter: 4

Number of postal employees doing work behind the counter: 3

Number of postal employees talking on the phone, complaining about how busy it was: 1

Number of stations selling stamps only: 1

Ratio of customers in that line to customers in the “general post office stuff” line: 1:10

Number of stamp vending machines available in the lobby: 0

Number of highly-touted self-serve mailing stations available in lobby: 1

Number of highly-touted self-serve mailing stations actually in working order: 0

Number of packages being mailed to various countries by two Slavic men at one of the two “general postal stuff” stations: approximately 150

Number of customs forms said Slavic men had filled out prior to approaching the counter: 0

Number of minutes this transaction tied up one of the two employees: approximately 45

Level of stress etched on the face of the remaining postal employee: extremely high

Number of times the ten year old in line behind me asked her mom why people wanted to buy 2 cent stamps: I stopped counting at 1,000

Number of times the mother explained that the price to mail a letter had increased two cents, in increasingly simpler terms: 900 or so, before she started saying “I just explained that to you.”

Number of times I had to stifle the urge to throttle the ten year old girl in line behind me: 879

Number of times someone in line complained that the line was so long: 59,395

Number of times I wondered if my car was being ticketed for an expired meter, given that this errand was taking about five times longer than I expected: 59

Likelihood that Parking Enforcement in Our Fair City might show mercy to cars parked near the post office: very, very low

Number of packages I needed to mail: 2

Number of pounds these packages weighed: 5.3

Amount of rate increase for Delivery Confirmation: 15 cents

Number of two cent stamps I purchased: 6

Number of parking tickets on my window when I returned to the car: 0

Distance between my car and the car who pulled in behind my parking spot: 4 inches

Number of times I had to reverse and pull forward to wiggle out of the spot: 3

Number of times I bumped the car in front of me: 0

Number of times I bumped the car behind me: 0

Number of times I mentally sang “We are the Champions”: 1

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Avoidance of Madness

I need to buy one more book, which for some unfathomable reason was not included in the book list for this semester (*gasp* Inaccuracy in materials from the Adminstration? Never!). However, I do not want to face the insanity that is the university bookstore at the beginning of a semester. It's worse than Walmart on Christmas Eve after the malls have closed.

I also need to take some packages to the post office for mailing. But I don't want to deal with the insanity there either, where the single counter worker seems to have a personal mission to explore exactly how slowly a person can move without actually inciting a riot.

So, here I am, sitting in the Student Lounge, blogging and eating. My lunch was particularly yummy-- leftover palak paneer and a fresh green salad with balsamic vinagrette, in case you were wondering-- and I'm contemplating a hot tea. I have to check and see if the tea leaves are still in my locker. That, however, would require me to actually move. This is problematic.

Does anyone ever come back to classes feeling excited? All I've heard all day is "God, I didn't want to come back!" and "Man, break was far too short!" I am a little weirded out by the fact that this is the last first day of classes I will ever have, but a little excited, too. Sometimes it seems like I just started law school; other times it seems like I've always been here and will always be here.

Alrighty, then. Off to *do* stuff.

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The Beginning

My first class of my last semester of law school began with this gem:

"Loss of mental capacity can occur at any time. This was proven to me by a set of blue books just a few weeks ago."

I like this professor already.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Bork Qaeda Ties?

I always knew there was something strange about him.


Do I Have to Go Back to School?

The carpet bombing approach to cold management was once again successful. Monday was only slightly sniffly and by Tuesday it was all over, freeing me to be a very busy and non-productive Katze this week. I had intended to watch ER reruns every day this week, especially since I knew that they had recently cycled back to the first season, but I never managed to make it out of bed in time. Instead, I spent several lazy mornings drinking coffee and reading with Ash. There was shopping and cleaning, a little unpacking,and so on. But the best part of hte whole week was not having to follow a schedule. I didn't set an alarm clock or wear a watch. It was wonderful.

Wednesday night, we saw Munich. I lived at the edge of the Olympic Village while doing thesis research in Munich and passed the very building where the attacks took place every single day. In fact, I often cut through the parking garage at Connellystraße on my way to or from the grocery. That summer, the documentary about the 1972 attacks aired on German television. I watched it together with my host sister in her dorm room. At dinner with our family at the weekend, we were talking about it and my host father casually mentioned that he had been at Fürstenfeldbrück as a rookie police officer. Given all of this, I was eager to see this movie as soon as I heard about it.

I was not disappointed. It was beautifully made and acted. There are a few points at which it veers ever so slightly into almost-mawkish territory, but those moments are brief and soon forgotten. I was particularly fond of a shot of the main character leaning over a balcony at a hotel where they are about to carry out one of the assassinations. It is framed in such a way that it matched up to the famous photograph of one of the terrorists. The camera lingered just long enough to drive home the point without dwelling on it as if to shout "HEY! QUESTION THE MORALITY OF THEIR ACTIONS!!".

Thursday night, the lovely Miss Tink was kind enough to give me her ticket to see the touring company of The Phantom of the Opera. It was, in a word, horrible. I've seen high school drama departments with higher production values than were evident Thursday night. The staging has been changed, it seems so that it re-creates some of the visuals of the movie. At several points, the actors roam aimlessly in circles around the stage-- literally!!-- then strike a pose, arms flung out. It seemed to have been directed by a high school senior with his acceptance letter to study drama at State U in his back pocket.

There are also numerous and significant changes to the lyrics. I wouldn't necessarily object to that if they were improvements, but frankly, it takes some of the more complex imagery from the show and utterly eviscerates the first aria. And that's all before we get to the actual performers who, again, could be outsung by most any high school drama department. It was actually quite appalling, all the more so when you realize how much tickets to see this drivel cost. There were a few lovely moments, but they were few and far between. There should be an appreciable difference in quality and tone between Carlotta and Christine, but instead, Christine was just as much of an overblown diva. Her voice was far too dark and nasal for the role and she slammed the notes at the end of "The Phantom of the Opera" like a pole vaulter straining to beat her last jump, not a hint of grace or loveliness about it. The Phantom had two voices: a lyrical tenor and a "scary voice" that involved some strange roaring, grunting method of singing. He vacilated between the two with no rhyme or reason. I suspect he thought it was "dramatic". He also failed to enunciate almost the entire way through the show, relying on the audience's familiarity with the show to carry the story. Lord knows, if you didn't know the story, you would have missed several important points in the garble. This was also a problem in the several scenes where numerous characters sing at once. Thank god I didn't pay for the tickets.

Then I met Ash for 80s night at a local club. I changed into my new 80s duds, and we danced for hours. It was so totally rad. It's been ages since I've been to a loud, smoky club. The music was excellent, too: not necessarily all of the cliche songs you hear on the local radio station, but all stuff that you recognize, stuff that makes you say to your friends "Oh, man, I LOVE this song!". In one funny moment, a guy hit on me right in front of Ash, but it was all good natured and I actually admired his guts.

Today has been utterly and completely lazy. I haven't accomplished anything, not even doing the dishes. At some point, I suppose I'll have to do something besides watch TV and blog today. Well, actually, I did work on the pile of paperwork that has been accumulating for the past month, so I guess that means I wasn't entirely unproductive after all. Oh, and I did a small job setting up some documents for anonymous evaluation by another group.

My books have not come yet, so it looks very unlikely that I will have my reading assignments done for Monday. Way to start the new semester!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

And This Is Effective How?

Do you know what happens to people who eat nothing but unhealthy food, don't exercise, and don't get enough sleep? I'll tell you: they get every stupid bug that comes along. Seven days in the house with three unhealthy adults and I'm fighting a cold that I refuse-- REFUSE!-- to get. This is my free week, possibly the last truly free week that I'll have until after the Bar Exam, and I want to spend it doing things that are fun, not blowing my nose and feeling too crappy to get up off the sofa.

So, I headed to Tarjhay with War with the intention of buying some cold medicine to stomp on the symptoms before they have a chance to get bad, as well as picking up some nice, soft Kleenex, orange juice and chicken noodle soup to supplement the eighty gallons of hot tea and honey I already had at home. I suscribe to the carpet bombing theory of cold management. All was well until we got to the cold remedy aisle. I had a coupon for a specific kind and was mystified by the fact that I couldn't seem to find this brand-- a major brand, not something obscure-- anywhere among the numerous boxes in the well-stocked aisle. Then I noticed the rack of small plastic cards with the names and pictures of some cold remedies and a sign saying to take the tag to the Pharmacy to obtain those products.

One problem: it's New Year's Day and the Pharmacy was closed.

For a wild moment, I thought I might just take the card to the Service Desk and ask them to get the medicine for me, just like I can get my photos even when the Photo Center is closed. After all, the medication is an over-the-counter product that does not require a license or anything to dispense. Then I noticed the second sign: "THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE WHEN PHARMACY IS CLOSED". Great.

Now, I understand that many places have moved products containing pseudoephedrine to locked cases and so on to prevent them from being used in the production of methanphetamines. I do not agree with this. The whole point of over the counter medication is that you don't have to get it from a pharmacist. You can walk right into the store, pick it up, and buy it.

Oh, the safety of the public is at stake!

Well, you don't have to get someone to unlock the ammonia or the bags of fertilzer at the garden center.

So there I am, sick and pissed off. I suppose I should have been happy to do my part to "protect society", but all I want is to get relief for my stuffed head and streaming nose. We went next door to the Horribly Overpriced Chain Store to see if I could get the drugs there or else maybe there was a pharmacist on duty there that could give me the over-the-counter drugs that I shouldn't have to have dispensed by a pharmacist. Lo and behold, the drugs were right there on the shelf.

So let's review:

Sick person unable to get medication, which is legally available to her, but which has been made unavailable not by state or federal regulators or legislators, but rather by someone at a mass merchandiser's corporate offices.

Those interested in obtaining the medication not for its intended purpose can do so by walking less than 500 feet to the next store.

Those interested in other, more nefarious activities can obtain the materials to do so from the first retailer.

Yes, now I feel safer.