November 2006 Archives


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At one point last week I had occasion to look up Tsunami on Wikipedia.  (Note to law students--It's often a good place for a first look, but it's not an authoritative source.  Don't cite it in anything professional.)  I was reading along, particularly interested in the one that hit Japan this year--for a 23-inch wave.

Then I got to the part about "Warnings and prevention."  At the top of the section is a warning sign from Santa Barbara, California.  It has a little picture.  You have to see it for yourself, but I just think it's funny.  It sort of says, "If there's a tsunami, you should get to higher ground, or maybe go surfing, 'cause there'll be some killer waves, dude.  Oh, and look out for sharks, 'cause they're a problem during tsunamis.  And they don't like surfers. I'm just sayin'."

Snowy Wonderland

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Actually, the title doesn't have anything to do with the post--I just needed something and happened to look out the window.

I've gotten into listening to podcasts quite a lot, which I've mentioned.  One of the best things about it is that it allows me to fit my listening around my schedule.  For example, I love to listen to "Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me."  Last week's episode (not this week's--this week's is a 'best of' episode) was astoundingly funny.

One of my favorite parts was a recording of a phone call in which Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) called a reporter and apologized for "messing up [his] game."  You may have already heard about it from articles like this.  The show has the audio.

Of course, my regular reader will already be able to guess what I think of the reporter himself.  He's the one who referred to a journalism intern as "this pretty young thing."  It's highly offensive, and I don't feel at all bad about his "game" being 'messed up."  Note to reporter: perhaps when you stop referring to women by diminutive, objectifying nicknames, you might just have better luck with "the ladies."


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My school laptop was pretty underpowered when my stepfather bought it for me.  It was meant to be, since I was only planning on using it for school.  Still, it feels like it's been slowly winding down the last few years as I put more demands on it.  Particularly lately, it's been almost painful when I want to show somebody something in Word and it takes 5 minutes for the thing to start.

I suspected the culprit, where the bottleneck in my system was.  So one of my little projects this break was to upgrade the memory (doubled to 1GB).  It wasn't expensive and made a huge difference, and I think I've just added a year or two onto my laptop's useful life.

Now I'm considering a faster (and, incidentally, bigger) hard drive after the holidays.  None of these things turn it into a powerhouse machine, but it will at least let me keep working.  If I can spend less than $250 to keep a laptop going for a few more years, it's totally worth it.

Cat Bird Chow

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I'm that guy who puts out cat food for the strays in the neighborhood, particularly in the winter.  I know, I think it must be genetic.  Anyway, since I've been home for the break, I noticed that they aren't the only ones I'm feeding.  There's a persistent flock of birds that seems to think it's feast time.  I think I need to get some kind of stand-alone bird feeder with something tasty in it.

Breakfasty Goodness

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During my little break from school I made an awesome breakfast I'd like to share with both of you.

Finely chop garlic, saute in a bit of olive oil with an omlette pan or skillet.

In a blender, mix eggs (I used 4), peeled and roasted green chilis (I used 4), crushed red pepper, a bit of salt, maybe another small garlic clove, and whatever else you want.  Liquify.

In the pan you're using for the garlic, pour in the blended mix and either scramble or make into an omlette.  mmm.  Not an earth-shattering, relevatory recipe, but solid.

I wonder if I could turn it into a quiche?  I'll try that when I have time to make a crust.

The Best Holiday!

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I may have mentioned before that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The biggest reason for this is that it's still 'pure.' By that I mean it isn't like Christmas or any of the 'gift-giving' holidays.  The whole point is to take some time to reflect on what's good in our lives and to recognize those good things. At it's heart, it's the most optimistic holiday.

I also like that it's not religious.  It's one holiday that everybody in the country can celebrate no matter where they come from, what religion they practice, or anything else. I can't think of any religion that would object to a holiday like this.

And then there's the way we celebrate. The whole practice is simply getting friends and family together to have a big meal and spend some quality time together. It's something I love to do anyway, and it comes free with this holiday. What could be better!

It's funny--I've gotten several invitations to accompany people to their family homes for the holiday (since I'm on my own here). That's very nice of them and says volumes about what people are willing to do on this day. I have the best friends, ones that make that invitation without a second thought.

But it doesn't bother me to be on my own for Thanksgiving. I think that's because rather than be woeful about not having anybody to spend it with--demonstrably untrue--I know that I'm with my friends even now.  Friends I haven't seen in years, absent friends, and friends I've yet to meet: I can feel them all with me today and being alone in my house can't take that away. So in a way, I really am spending my Thanksgiving with my friends and family.

What am I grateful for?  Pretty much everything. Notably, I have the best friends and family in the world. I also have the prospect of a bright career in a field that--despite the occasional problems--I love. I'm grateful for my time at SAFE working with rape and domestic abuse survivors. These are the people that truly taught me about strength and perseverance.

Sure, it's not all roses. I wish that I weren't coming out of school with so much debt. It would be nice to have a romantic partner in my life. But these are both issues that come about from my own choices and that will be solved through my own choices. You could say I'm glad to be in a position that I can solve them at all, given that there are a lot of people in the world who are not in a position to solve their biggest problems.

So I urge everybody to take some time today, not just in a prayer before digging into your ginormous meal, to reflect on your life and think about all the good things in it. It's not something we do often enough.

Time to Go

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I'm doing research for a big project at the moment, and I just ran across a case named Rivers v. Poisson.  "Poisson" is "fish" in French.  I read the case name as "Rivers v. Fish" and tried to visualize the titanic struggle that led the fish to rebel against, and eventually sue, their environment.  It's funny to me, for some reason.

Or maybe I need to go home.

Pretextual Arrest Case

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The Wyoming Supreme Court came out with a fairly important case.  In recent years, the court has been construing the state constitution to give broader protections for defendants than the Fourth Amendment.  Article I, Sec. 4 of the Wyoming Constitution is similar to the Fourth Amendment, but as the U.S. Supreme court has scaled back protections, the Wyoming Supreme Court has taken an independent look at Wyoming's version.  The analysis is a bit different, and defendents seem to be generally more protected.

In Fertig v. State, the court looked at whether a pretextual, otherwise-valid traffic stop was unreasonable under the state constitution.  The facts were nice and clean: the police got an anonymous tip about a drug operation, surveyed the house, then kept an eye on the defendant's driving looking for an excuse to pull him over and hoping to find drugs.  The officers were completely candid and flat-out said at the suppression hearing that they were just looking for a valid reason to pull the defendant over to find drugs.

I won't get into the reasoning here, but basically, the court adopted prior U.S. Supreme Court reasoning that the officer's subjective motivation is not relevant to determining whether a traffic stop is valid.

Community Service

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A lot of communities have annual events that their veterenarians put on.  Basically, the vets all agree that one day a year (some places twice a year), they'll spay and neuter cats and dogs for free or for a nominal cost.  Some of them do it for free with a donation box so that people can pay what they can.

Why?  Spaying and neutering is critical to controlling the stray dog and (particularly) cat population.  When there's a lot of ferile beasts running around, not being cared for, it's a problem.  We've failed in our duty to the animals we've adapted for our own purposes, and it's not fair that we should have to put millions to sleep per year.

So is there any legal service that's as widely necessary as getting pets spayed and neutered?  Something that almost everybody needs to get done but doesn't?  Something that lawyers could, once a year or so, offer to do for nominal cost, especially to those with little income?

Absolutely: wills.  Everybody needs one, few people have them.  I myself have only a holographic will (valid under Wyoming law), but it probably needs to be updated.

Now I know that this may raise all sorts of complications.  Something like this wouldn't relieve lawyers from the duty to check for conflicts and provide quality service to clients, which would probably mean that a lawyer wouldn't be able to do as many wills as a vet does spaying and neutering procedures.  Still, it could really be great.  It serves the community, gets your firm name out, and it could really be a boost for support staff who--while they will have to work hard on that day to get everything out--can be rewarded at the end with the knowledge of doing something great for the community.

But I've never done any estate planning or wills.  The closest I've been is my Trusts and Estates class, so I don't know exactly what complications might be out there.  Still, with a little planning, I'd bet most of those problems would be easily dealt with.  Is there any reason it simply wouldn't work?


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Graduation looms.  While I'll miss this place, the environment, the leisure to learn and the rest, there's part of me that is really looking forward to working again.  I have fantasies about it, in fact.  I don't imagine myself in my office or telling people at parties I'm a lawyer.  That can't happen until I pass the bar and sworn in, in any case.

No, I fantasize about paying bills.  Specifically, I can't wait until I can start shoving money towards those companies I'm about to pay through the teeth for letting me use their cash.  I can just picture myself in a wonderful state of non-obligatory bliss, and it is a beautiful thing.  I have one year to go until my car is paid off, and it will be great when that's done.  Not that I want a car-payment-sized surplus in my income, I just look forward to adding that extra amount to my next bill to get it paid off that much sooner.

As fantasies go, it's pretty pedestrian.  But I'm looking forward to it all the same.


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Lately I've been in a position to hear more rumors around the law school, mainly about me.  I've learned all sorts of things about myself that I didn't know before I heard the rumors.  Some of them are funny, but others are borderline offensive.  I think I preferred not having any idea what's going on around here.  This isn't the kind of self-discovery I'm not a big fan of.

On another note, I have discovered a writing pet peeve of mine: misuse of 'they' and 'their.'  I see them used a lot to refer to singular things, like people or entities.  But they aren't singular, they're plural.  A company is not 'they,' a court is not 'they,' and a plaintiff is certainly not 'they.'  I know a lot of people try to use them to get around gendered writing, but that's not a good way to do it.

Off the Chart

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How high is my GQ (Geek Quotient) that that I think this article is really exciting?  And I'm really looking forward to seeing these beauties in action.  [h/t: AdamsDrafting]

Busy, Busy!

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Light posting this week. I, among others, have been focusing almost exclusively on the localtrial competition. We have semi-finals tonight and, with luck, finals tomorrow. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm making progress on the book, but it's taking a while because I'm so busy. That's also why I've had no cat photos the last few weeks: I need to be home from time to time so Ican take photos!

Have a great weekend!

What I'm Reading:

The Autobiography of Mark Twain (Perennial Classics) by Charles Neider

Not Ready for Prime Time

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I've had sort of a love-hate relationship with Linux over the years. Many years ago, sometime in the mid-late 1990's, I first tried it. I recall it was an early Red Hat distribution (back in the day when RedHat was free). It wasn't a happy thing. Notably, I remember I had a lot of trouble getting it to work with my modem. That was a long-standing problem around that time. So I stuck with Windows.

Then, just a few years ago, I had another (and much more substantial) fling with Linux. I don't remember the exact distribution. I had a dual-boot system and I used primarily Linux for the usual web and productivity applications.

I really liked it. The operating system was fast and lean, and was much more forgiving of little hardware errors (I had some disk problems that kept crashing Windows). It was a challenge to install software, though. Regardless, my experience was quite pleasant.

But I'm a PC gamer at heart, and Linux just doesn't do the job. When I got some new hardware that prevented the crashes, I ended up going back to Windows. It was simply easier to run Windows than have to reboot every time I wanted to play a game.

In the last couple weeks, I had a chance to dip my toe into Linux once again. I use my laptop for only school-related productivity-type things, and it is not a powerful computer. It's feeling its age. I wanted to get a pretty lean, uncluttered OS that would work for what I need it for. And since Evolution works with MS Exchange, I thought now might be the time to move to Linux.

Well, I tried it out (Ubuntu), and in so doing, I decided not to make the move just yet and I can articulate why Linux is simply not ready for wide distribution. The big deal-breaker for me was that I couldn't get my wireless to work on my laptop, an essential accessory. My problem is not unusual, particularly on Dell laptops.

But there were other things about the OS that made me realize that Linux just isn't ready for wide distribution. I say that with my criteria being that computers should be easy for most people to run common applications on a daily basis.

The thing about Linux is that installing programs is hard. Essentially, for those not in the know, youhaveto download the source code and compileit yourself. Various distributions have tried to simplify the process, but often this only results in, from what I can tell, several different packages available when you want to download something. You'll pick a different one depending on what Linux distribution you are running. It is not simple enough for Grandma.

I hate to say it, but I think this is a byproduct of the open-source process. Anybody can take this stuff and put a personal spin on the OS, and they have. While it promotes competition, it also promotes fragmentation and incompatability.

So I'm giving it a pass, at least for a while and full-time. I'll probably look into it again eventually, but in the meantime, I'll probably be a firm Vista user. Besides, I'm a gamer and gaming is absolutely lousy on Linux.

Have a Great Weekend!

What I'm Reading:

The Autobiography of Mark Twain (Perennial Classics) by Charles Neider

Good News

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This is good news.  I built my own desktop system and I continue to upgrade it by component to this day.  While I've had "my computer" since about 1998 or so, the only original desktop component is the case (and I've been thinking about getting a new one lately, anyway).

When I heard that MS was planning on only allowing one license transfer for Vista, that had me a bit concerned.  After all, Windows XP lasted about six or seven years before this latest version, and I don't expect Vista to be shorter.  I would basically only get one major system component switch, under the original license, and then I could be locked out.  Bad news when I would like to (and working full time again would have the money to) upgrade major components every couple years.

Now, it looks I can breathe easy.  Microsoft actually listened to the outcry and I can let go a breath of relief.  My PC gaming will not be abnormally jeopardized.  Just the usual jeopardy of whether I have enough budget to feed my habit.


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You Should Weigh 155
If you weigh less than this, you either have a fast metabolism or are about to gain weight.
If you weigh more than this, you may be losing a few pounds soon!

Coincidentally, that's nearly exactly what I weigh.  [h/t: E. McP.]

Start Saving

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Here's a graduation present I'll never get.

Space Wars

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Like oh-so-many others, I was brought up to press the space twice between sentences.  When I really got into writing, I used my new enthusiasm to reserve some funds for writing books of various kinds and discovered an ugly truth: one space is enough.  Specifically, the Chicago Manual of Style [the editor in me wants to call it the Chicago Style Manual] calls for only one space.  The editors explain more about why this is so here.

Recently, Ken Adams took up the battle cry against two spaces, and others have flocked to his banner.  It seems to be the better practice now to use one space, and I'm going to have to change my ways.

It's not that easy, of course.  I've been putting two spaces after a period since I was on an Apple IIe (love that Oregon Trail!).  It would have been great to switch in summer 2005 when I moved to the Dvorak keyboard (incidentally, one of the best moves I ever made--and remarkably easy), but it's too late for that.  I'll just have to do my best to retrain.

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