Away From Home

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Heisenberg principle at work....

This is so good it gets its own post.

One of the geekiest jokes ever:

From bash.org:

so anyway, heisenberg is speeding down the street and he gets pulled over by a cop
and the cop is like "do you know how fast you were going?"
and he says "no, but i know exactly where i am!"

On the save

From Tim Keown at ESPN.com:

Bear with this for a second because there might be an important point about the mechanics of managing a baseball team in here somewhere.

On Saturday night, the Dodgers were tied with the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth: The D-Backs are in first place, the scuffling Dodgers need a win – hey, this game means something. And now the D-Backs have the bases loaded and nobody out, thanks to a mess created by Dodger reliever Giovanni Carrara.

The situation is fairly simple: The Dodgers need one strikeout, and preferably two, to keep the D-Backs from winning the game. Understand, this isn't a save situation because the game is tied.

Among the Dodgers' relievers, who is best equipped to get one or two strikeouts? If you said Eric Gagne, you're right. So why not bring Gagne in to clean up Carrarra's mess? Well, because it's not a save situation, that's why.

So Carrarra – by all accounts a heck of a guy – stays out there and walks Kelly Stinnett to lose the game.

That's right – four balls to Kelly Stinnett with the bases loaded. You think Gagne would have done that?

And answer this: If Carrarra had gotten out of that mess, and the Dodgers had scored three in the top of the 10th, and Gagne had pitched the bottom half without giving up the lead, who would you say saved the game?

The statistics would say Gagne saved it, but logic would say otherwise. The guy who truly saves the game is the one who gets the most important outs, no matter the inning. That's why the save is and will continue to be the most overrated statistic in the game.


So true.

Up or down?

What does everybody think about the "More below the fold..." feature? Is it good to have less clutter on the front page? Or would you all like to be able to read everything on one page?

Comment and let me know.

It's official!

In other news from today, we signed a lease on the new house! W00t! We'll get the keys in mid-June sometime.

Plus, due to the possibility that we won't get released from our lease here until July 31, we got a discount on the rent at the new place. Only $1500 for July instead of $2500.

It's a two-year lease, so we won't have to worry about any of this next summer. Which means we also don't have to worry about rent increases.

And -- the building is still under the builder's warranty. Which means if there are any latent defects in the place, we're not stuck living with them. They will be fixed.

Now all I need is a grill and some patio furniture...

First Day

So, I showed up for work about 15 minutes late. I used the side door, that way the boss wouldn't see me. After that I just sorta spaced out for a while. I just stared at my desk -- but it looked like I was working. I did that for a couple hours after lunch too. I'd say that this week, I only really plan on doing about 15 minutes of actual... work.

(And if you didn't get the above joke, I feel sorry for you. You're only missing out on one of the funniest movies ever to grace the 50" HD widescreen that is, sadly, not in my living room. But rest assured that if it were, it would be well acquainted with this movie.

The first day was good. I'm not sure if this was due to oversight or difficulties, but there was not yet an office for me, so I worked in the conference room. Not a big deal, but I expect to have an office when I return on Thursday.

But what about tomorrow, you may ask? Why are you not going to work? Oh I am, just not downtown. I have to attend a "New Hire Orientation" in Ashburn, VA. For all of you who are not familiar with where that is (or was that redundant?), it's here.

Notice how you can see neither downtown nor my house on that map. If you look closely, you can see the West Virginia border in the upper left. Yes, Ashburn is that far out. I might as well visit Kansas while I'm there -- it's close enough.

Fortunately, there's a bus that goes there. Yes, a bus, in the singular. *sigh*

But as far as the substantive work goes, it was good, I thought. They gave me some background reading in the morning to get me introduced to telecommunications law. All I have to say is that I am glad for my time at Central Mechanical -- I learned what concepts like local loops and bundled services were.

In the afternoon I got an actual project, drafting a response to comments to an FCC rule change. Well, I'll draft on Thursday, today was spent going through the comments and brainstorming. Really interesting stuff, the day flew.

If you ever feel like drowning in acronyms, just pick up a book on telecom law. UNEs, PIC, LEC, ILEC, and CLEC are some of the ones I dealt with, just today.

Finally

Here we go -- my first day at MCI. Wish me luck.

Some lies are apparently more OK than others

From David Sirota:

Atrios posts a 1998 story about the Washington, D.C. Establishment's outrage at Bill Clinton for his lying about the Monica Lewinsky scandal. What is truly nauseating is not the corrupt and cliquey insiderism - it is the outrage over lying about sex, and the subsequent silence we've all experienced from the media/political Establishment when it has come to the current administration's lying about war.

Here are some choice comments from the 1998 article:

"There has to be a functional trust by reporters of the person they're covering. Clinton lies knowing that you know he's lying. It's brutal and it subjugates the person who's being lied to. I resent deeply being constantly lied to." – Hardball's Chris Matthews

"The deep and searing violation took place when he not only lied to the country, but co-opted his friends and lied to them." – Reagan/Clinton adviser David Gergen

"What is troubling is the deceit, the failure to own up to it. Before this is over the truth must be told." – Sen. Joe Lieberman (who hasn't owned up to his own pre-war role pushing Bush administration lies about Iraq)

"The judgment is harsher in Washington. We don't like being lied to." - Washington Post columnist David Broder

"When you lie to the country, you are using your authority to undermine the presidency." – Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (who, by the way, had no problem subsequently plagiarizing work and then lying about it).

Where is the outrage from these Beltway Establishment figures over the Bush administration's blatant lies about Iraq? Oh sure, you can find a scant example here and there, but generally, it's nowhere, especially considering the purported anger that D.C. elites claim to feel about being lied to.

I have nothing to add. This pretty much speaks for itself.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Name That Tune

Introducing a new feature of the blog: Name That Tune!

No, it won't be like the old game show. I'll provide a line or two from a song, and the first person to identify the song gets, well, credit for being the first.

Let's begin:

"I got more rhymes than a Bible's got psalms."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

More on the Giddens fight

You may or may not remember that Kansas guard J.R. Giddens was stabbed last week. Turns out he may not have been just an innocent bystander:

Four witnesses, including two other stabbing victims, said Giddens and at least 10 other men attacked Jeremiah Creswell as he stood outside the bar. Creswell, 24, of Olathe, Kan., admitted being intoxicated and told the Star that Giddens had confronted him inside, asking if he "had a problem," and continued the confrontation outside.

Witnesses said Creswell was beaten with fists, bricks and bottles, and kicked. He used a 4-inch folding knife to stab some of the attackers.

. . .

"Giddens was the first one in," Flores said. "When he ran by my car, people were yelling, 'Giddens, Giddens, get back, get back.' He ran right at the dude and started hitting him. The next thing I know, five or six other dudes were right on him."


Not only that, but it appears that he wasn't even the only KU player involved:

Two witnesses said Giddens' teammate, C.J. Giles, was also part of the group that attacked Creswell, though he has denied involvement. And former Kansas player Bryant Nash told the Star that he punched Creswell.


So much for KU basketball being a bunch of good guys.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Save Voyager!

As utterly ridiculous and asinine as it seems, Bush actually wants to cut off all funding of the Voyager program.

Voyager 1 is the farthest man-made object from Earth. It is actually more than twice as far away from the Sun as Pluto! It just passed through the region of space called the "termination shock", which is where particles from the Sun start running into gas and other matter from elsewhere in the galaxy. Never before have we had the opportunity to learn about what happens at this region of space, what types of matter are found there, or actually anything at all about it.

This sort of data is priceless. To re-create the opportunity we have right now would take at minimum 25 years (that's how long it's taken the probe to get there), plus the time and immense expense of designing, planning, building, and launching another probe.

But it's not alone. Voyager 2, an identical probe, is not far behind, and will cross the termination shock in a few years, but on a different trajectory. That means that even if one probe malfunctions, the project is still not dead.

Plus, the probes have enough power to keep communicating with Earth until the year 2020! Think of all that we can learn in the next 15 years about a region of space which most people never think about. If interstellar travel is ever going to be a reality, we have to know what happens in this part of space.

In short, we have at our disposal a resource which is unique in all of human history, and which is producing information which will quite probably be critical in the future.

And what does this program cost? How much money is Bush going to save by cancelling the project? $4.2 million. I'll say that again: $4.2 million. With an M.

Let that sink in for a second. This country has an annual budget of 500 million billion gajillion dollars, the war in Iraq is costing millions every week, Bush passes billions (with a B) of dollars in tax cuts, and suddenly he wants to cancel the best project that human space exploration has ever created, to save $4.2 million a year.

I swear, Bush gets more and more stupid by the day. Even proposing killing Voyager is, without a doubt, one of the most ignorant things this Administration has done.

Housing Approval

We've been officially approved for the house we looked at a couple days ago. Looks like we'll be signing the lease next week.

What this means, of course, is that everyone reading this has to come out and visit.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's a veritable shop-stravaganza!

I went massive-shopping this evening, to get some good dress clothes for work. (What's massive-shopping, you may ask? Well, it's like regular shopping, except regular shopping doesn't normally involve dropping over $500 on clothes.)

Yeah, I spent over $500, but look at what I got for it -- two worsted wool suits and two pairs of dress slacks. I spent $560 and got $1100 worth of clothes. I'm rather proud of myself.

I'll end up going back either tomorrow or Saturday for shirts, maybe ties, maybe another pair of shoes. Possibly a sportcoat. Who knows, I might end up getting another suit, too. I got black pinstriped and tan/olive suits today, and I might end up getting a dark blue one as well. At the very least, I'll get some blue slacks.

Poll numbers

From democrats.org:

According to a recent CBS News poll, 61% of the country now feels that President Bush does not share their priorities, while only 34% say he does. They add that "if there's any solace for Mr. Bush, it's that even fewer people, just 20 percent, say Congress shares their priorities."

Things are bad when you need to find solace in the fact that people find others in your party even more out of touch than you are. Apparently attacking Social Security and being willfully ignorant about what's going on in Iraq aren't popluar with the American people. Who knew?

I have nothing to add.

Abuse allegations at Guantanamo

Everyone remembers the furor over Newsweek's story a couple weeks ago that alleged that soldiers at Guantanamo flushed a Koran down the toilet, right? The one that got the right-wing all riled up, and even prompted an angry response from the President? The one that Newsweek ultimately retracted?

Turns out Newsweek might not have been wrong after all.

From today's Washington Post:

The summaries of FBI interviews, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of an ongoing lawsuit, include a dozen allegations that the Koran was kicked, thrown to the floor or withheld as punishment. One prisoner said in August 2002 that guards had "flushed a Koran in the toilet" and had beaten some detainees.

(More discussion at the Daily Kos.)

The Pentagon continues to deny the accounts, but this much is clear: Ever since Guantanamo began accepting prisoners (or "enemy combatants," to adopt the administration's position), the government has been aware of allegations of abuse. If they've been aware for at least 33 months that mistreatment might be happening, then you would expect that the government would 1) make sure the allegations are clearly and provably false, and 2) make sure everyone knows that they're false.

Even if you give the administration the benefit of the doubt, and accept that part 1 might have been done, it is painfully clear that part 2 was not. While I'm not saying that it's an absolute fact that mistreatment is happening, you do have to consider the following statement (from the same WaPo article):

The disclosures came on the same day that Amnesty International released a report calling Guantanamo Bay "the gulag of our time" and labeling the United States "a leading purveyor and practitioner" of torture and mistreatment of prisoners. Amnesty and the Constitution Project, a legal advocacy group, made separate demands yesterday for an independent investigation into allegations of detainee abuse at U.S. facilities.

Oh, there have been such investigations before. But there are also accounts, by at least one person who worked as a translator there, that the military actually staged fake interrogations for the investigations to see.

"They would find a detainee that they knew to have been cooperative," Saar told CBS. "They would ask the interrogator to go back over the same information," he said, calling it "a fictitious world" created for the visitors.

If the allegations were as clearly false as the Pentagon would like us to believe, then wouldn't they be willing to let an independent investigation happen? Sounds like a fantastic opportunity for the Pentagon to prove itself right, which would be fantastic PR, and to do the investigation on somebody else's dime.

Unless, of course, there's something they don't want the investigation to find....

Tragic Fire

Crawford, Texas (not AP) - A tragic fire this morning destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. The fire began in the presidential bathroom where the books were kept. Both of his books have been lost. A presidential spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had almost finished coloring the second one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Housing update

Tonight we went and looked at a house we may be moving into. It looked good, and promising.

See the full details, including enough pictures to melt down a dialup modem, here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Success!

I have a job!

I just got a call back from MCI, saying that they appreciated my persistence, and that I am officially on board. I start Tuesday morning! And get this -- the rate is $18/hour!

It feels good to have this job, not only because of all the work I put into it, but also because it really is one of the best positions I could have gotten. Much better than nonprofit or government work, which is what most people do. Also, I think it'll be better than a judicial internship.

*does a happy dance*

Musical goodness

Click for musical goodness from Pete and the Mouse Band

Monday, May 23, 2005

News on the housing front

Joe's been in touch with the realtor that's letting the new townhouses I posted about a few days ago, and we have an appointment to view a unit on Wednesday. Specifically, it's this unit here:



It's about the same rent that we're paying now, but with only half the deposit, so I should get some money back out of the deal. Hopefully it's as nice as the unfinished ones promised to be.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide postmortem

I finished reading The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide. It's a series of six books. The first one (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) was the one they made into a movie. It's quite good. Things get kinda confusing around the third book, because the story suddenly starts time-jumping and it gets a little hard to follow at times. But ultimately it all makes sense, especially by the end of the entire series.

All in all, it was good. I enjoyed reading it.

If anyone would like to read it, post a comment to let me know and I'll send it to you.

More on Episode III

A few more thoughts on Episode III that I neglected to post last night:

I hate the PowerPoint-style transitions. When switching from one scene to the next, rather than just having a blank frame and then starting the next scene (you know, like a normal movie would), Lucas apparently thought it'd be better to show off his 1337 PowerPoint skillz. Most of the transitions were there, too. The screen wipe, the one that changes the screen like the hands of a clock, even the window blinds. Window blinds! *slaps Lucas with a large trout*

Oh, and if the other movies had the same transitions, well, then Lucas needs to get trout-slapped for those too.

There was actually one exception to the "terrible acting" aspect of this movie. Ewan McGregor did a good job. Other than him, everyone else was bad. Even Samuel L. Jackson was disappointing, and I never thought I'd say that.

Chewbacca would play bass

Found on the Web:

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Episode III

Joe and a friend of his were going to see Star Wars Episode III tonight, so I went with them. I'd read reviews that said it was better than I or II, so I was thinking good things about it. It was both good and bad.

Let's start with the good.

It had very good graphics. Now that they've finally figured out how to do CGI shading properly, all of the worlds and characters looked believable. No more of this Final Fantasy "it's so lifelike!" malarkey. Final Fantasy looked very computer-generated. This was, I'd say, the first space movie where every world looked believable. Its CGI even exceeded Lord of the Rings.

Unfortunately for this movie, that ends our tour of the good aspects.

Let me put it this way: If this movie even gets in the discussion for an Oscar in any significant category, then the entire Academy has just proven itself to be loonier than a bunch of 17th-century inbred European aristocrats. Acting? Bad. Screenplay? Bad. Even the characters' reactions and development were overly typical and expectable.

And the dialogue was just terrible and riddled with cliches. For example, on Padme after learning of Anakin's turn: "Medically she's fine, but for reasons we can't explain, we're losing her. She's just... lost the will to live."

They should have handed out vomit bags. I actually laughed out loud at several lines, they were so bad.

Even Yoda, he of the distinctive speech patterns, wasn't immune. In Yoda-speak, entire paragraphs, he would say. And then, inexplicably, he'd talk just like everyone else for an entire scene. It's like George Lucas forgot which character he was writing the lines for (yes, Lucas himself did write the screenplay).

Final score: On a scale of 1 to Incredibly Awful, this movie was Pretty Freaking Poor.

Website for the Brownstones

Turns out that there's a website for the new townhouse development that I posted about a couple days ago. The development is called The Brownstones at Wheaton Metro. Some of them are finished, and the one in the very upper-left is for rent, at almost the same rent that we pay now. Wish us luck.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Sen. Pat Roberts on the nuclear option

"What goes around comes around ... [it is] not in the best interests of either party or the Senate to take this step."

Kansas City Star, 05-15-05

More ridiculousness from Bush

Everyone knows that Bush always surrounds himself with yes-men, but this is just getting silly.

Never hearing dissent in internal meetings is bad enough (in my opinion, it's critically bad), but to not hear dissent even from the public is just stupid. This man is supposed to be the representative of the people. Doesn't that mean he listens to us, rather than just force us to listen to him?

Oh wait, sorry, I'm using logic again. That's not allowed when dealing with Bush.

Giddens Slashed

Kansas guard J.R. Giddens was slashed by a knife early yesterday.

Here's wishing him a speedy recovery. He has a big load to carry next year.

On the Saddam photos

The UK newspaper (tabloid?) The Sun has printed a group of photos of Saddam Hussein, in captivity, including a front-page picture of him in his skivs. It says it got the pictures from a US military source "in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance in Iraq.''

Bad idea, guys.

I will say nothing, and take no position, on the legality or appropriateness of The Sun's printing of the photos. They should have never gotten the photos in the first place.

As the article suggests, releasing the pictures could be a violation of the Geneva Convention, which states that prisoners of war must be treated humanely. Spreading pictures like that around is the sort of thing you would do to a caged animal in a zoo, not a person. Plus, even though he's in military prison, he still has some semblance of privacy, at least from the public at large. Also, such displays are not going to break the resistance. If anything, the release of such ridiculous images will only infuriate them more by thinking How dare they publicly humiliate our leader like this!

Most importantly, how can we, the United States, claim to be "the shining city on the hill" (as Reagan put it), if we have to stoop to such lows?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

On governing

From The Hitchhiker's Guide:

The major problem -- one of the major problems, for there are several -- one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

And so this is the situation we find: a succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being in power that they very rarely notice that they're not.

And somewhere in the shadows behind them -- who?

Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to?

The search begins...

In addition to the Montgomery at Wheaton, there's another new development down by the Metro station. This one is townhouses, somewhat similar to ours. Fortunately, they were still under construction. Why is that fortunate? Because buildings under construction are rarely locked.

We walked through them, and one floorplan in particular we really liked. It was a 3 bedroom + den (so, 4 bedrooms for us), on 4 levels. That's right, it's 4 stories tall. Plus, each of the 3 "actual" bedrooms has its own full bath, with tub. Full kitchen, large living room, in-house washer/dryer, 2 car garage. AND, (and this is the best part), it has a rooftop patio. Patio = space for a grill!

A couple of them already show "For Rent" signs, and the asking price is the same neighborhood as what we pay now. Maybe a little more, but not more than an extra $50/person/month.

'twould be nice.

Bad news Thursday

Our lease for this house expires August 1, and while we were expecting that the lease would be renewed, it seems that this expectation was incorrect. So the search is on for a new place.

Joe and Allen already talked to the owners of another townhouse in the same development, who are looking to rent. The place is almost exactly the same as the one we're in now. However, we're not first on the list -- somebody else talked to them the day before.

There is also a condominium development across from the Metro that they've looked into.

I'd like to stay out here in Wheaton if possible. It's a good area, and I like not having a car. Hopefully it'll work out.

Wilt's 100 point game

As anyone who is alive and coherent knows, Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 points in an NBA game. Turns out that the radio broadcast of the 4th quarter of that game is online. Fantastic stuff.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Don't call it a comeback (I've been here for years)

I'm back in DC now. The trip was up and down, with the two graduations and visits to my families representing good, and the very condescending lecture by the county attorney representing very bad (no, I don't want to post about it here).

In other news, I've given in to curiosity and started reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Question of the day: Is it a bad thing that, 200 pages into it, the character I most identify with is Marvin?

Discuss.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Graduation

So my sister graduated from high school today. Yay Erin!

Somehow they got Josh Svaty (from the Kansas House of Representatives) to be the graduation speaker. I don't think he has any connection to Solomon, other than the town being in his district. I guess when you're a politician, you take every opportunity to speak before your constituents that you can get. At least he didn't mention politics.

Then we had a reception for her at the house. It was estimated that 50 people came. I'm relatively certain that's more people than I had.

In response to Logan, yes, my family not only decided they were going to undertake major renovations on the house, but they wanted to get it done before I arrived. And succeeded. The place looks fabulous. They got all new cabinetry, knocked out a wall, and got all new floorings. It's practically a new house.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Good times in Delphos

I spent last night at my mom's in Delphos (Population: 4, if you include the cow). OK, so it's not that small, but it is the epitome of small-town America. It's very nice and peaceful; a welcome break from the hurry-up attitude of DC.

And between my mom and Dave, they make some of the best meals. Last night we had butterfly pork chops with polish sausage, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and biscuits. It was delectable.

Now I'm in Solomon, getting ready for the baccalaureate service before my sister's graduation. My family just got done redoing a large part of the house, but I'll talk about that later. And maybe post pictures.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Here's to you, Barbara

Barbara graduated from Kansas State today. Summa cum laude. In only three years.

And I couldn't be prouder.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Down with the Nebraska gay marriage ban!

Nebraska's gay marriage ban was struck down today. I think this is the first one to be shot down.

From the AP:

A federal judge Thursday struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage, saying the measure interferes not only with the rights of gay couples but also with those of foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

. . .

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the ban "imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights" of gays "and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process."

Bataillon said the ban beyond "goes far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman."

The judge said the "broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related persons living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals."


For those of you scoring at home, there are now 17 states with similar bans in their state constitutions. Kansas is one of them.

Nebraska's law fell because it was overbroad. In legal parlance, it was not narrowly tailored to achieve its goal. This is the same problem that I have with the Kansas gay marriage ban. It goes way too far.

In case you have forgotten, the Kansas ban not only says that marriage is only between a man and a woman, it also says that none of the benefits of marriage may extend to other relationships.

Think about that for a second. Does that mean that opposite-sex couples that have lived together for decades cannot have any of the privileges that married couples enjoy? What about parent-child relationships?

The ban is intended to prevent civil unions or domestic partnerships. However, it also means that an opposite-sex couple that has lived together for decades (but never got married, perhaps for religious or tax purposes), had children together, and behaves as if they were married, cannot make medical decisions for each other, cannot be considered next of kin, and cannot enjoy any of the other benefits that married couples do.

Two people should not have to be legally married in order to enjoy these things. Marriage, these days, cannot be considered a privilege. It is far closer to being a right. Too many rights and benefits come attached to the label of "marriage" for the state to be able to say "You want these things? Fine -- just get married," let alone be able to say "Just get married -- but not to him."

More time in Kansas

I changed my return flight, so now I'll be coming back to DC next Wednesday instead of Monday. Diane set up a meeting with the county attorney for Tuesday afternoon, and now I'll be able to go.

This means, of course, that I'll have more time in Kansas! I know I know, you're all just soo excited. I'm not sure where I'll spend the extra time. Suggestions are appreciated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Con Law Grade

Apparently grades are going to trickle in separately, and on their own schedule. My first one is back. Constitutional Law, B+.

:(

I thought I did better than that. I knew the stuff. Besides, I need grades higher than my GPA, so it goes up. Not down. This pulled it down by 0.02.

The other 3 grades better make up for it.

It's a great day for baseball

Today was the O's game. Watching the O's, at Camden Yards, in an afternoon game, with free tickets. Does it get better?

I took Joe's digital camera, so that I can bring you, loyal readers, this pictorial essay (aren't you lucky). Click on any picture for a giant-sized version.



As we walked into the stadium on Eutaw Street, we were greeted with this sight. Warehouse on the left, field on the right. And directly in front: Boog's BBQ!

Although I've been to the park twice now, I have not yet had Boog's. I'm waiting on you, Dad.

Note the bright afternoon sunshine. Does it get better than this?



Yes, it does. You know how I said the tickets were third row? I was wrong. This picture was taken from my seat. Yes, I was sitting down in my ticketed seat while this picture was taken.

These seats were so good, the tickets didn't even have prices on them. You have to have connections to get these.

So what were our connections? Jared's mother apparently works at the U of Maryland Med Center, and the seats belong to the hospital director. The director gave them to Jared's mom, who gave them to him. And did I mention they were free?







More game shots from my seat. Note the extreme closeness to the game action.

I expected this game to be a tough one. The Twins were pitching Johan Santana, last year's Cy Young winner.

So of course, we put 4 runs and 9 hits on him, and then tagged the bullpen for 3 more. Their bullpen is not good.

In other news, Brian Roberts is really small (5'8" or so). BJ Ryan is really huge (6'5" or so). And Jay Gibbons is really goofy looking.



Final score: Orioles 7, Twins 4.

It has been a good day.

News from MCI

Holy tightroping monkeys, Batman, MCI actually called. Turns out that I'm "on the short list," and that they're "really interested" in having me, but that they also need "to check with our HR people and see what kind of resources we have available." Is that good news? You tell me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Stand Up

I went to the mall earlier, because today is The Day. Stand Up was released today.

I got it on DualDisc, which is a new format. I actually had no idea that it even existed. Essentially, it's a CD on one side, and a DVD on the other. This means that it will (supposedly) work in regular CD players, but can also have DVD-Audio as well as video on the other. Stand Up's DVD side has a 5.1-enhanced audio version of the album, as well as a 20-minute video on the making of the album.

I say it "supposedly" works because, well, it does. The CD side plays just fine in my portable CD player (which is 6 years old now), but will not play in my laptop (1.5 years old). The disc is a little thicker than normal, but I know that's not the problem, because the DVD side plays fine. I also don't think it's a copy-protection problem, because I can't even listen to the songs, let alone copy them.

The copy-protection idea also bothers me, because I always make a copy of my CDs before I take them with me. That way I can carry them around without caring if they get scratched, because the original is at home. At the moment, I can't copy the disc at all, which makes me hesitant to carry it with me on the Metro etc.

By the way, such aforementioned copying is legal, under the Fair Use copyright exceptions. See also Sony Corp v. Universal City Studios, Inc, 464 US 417 (1984).

I'm such a nerd. I just got the new album of my favorite band, and here I spent 6 paragraphs talking about the technical side of it. I like the album, a lot. It's different than any of their other albums. It feels very natural, like it just flowed out of them rather than being generated.

Five stars.

SUPER URGENT NEWS BULLETIN!!!

Wendy's is giving away free frostys this weekend!

*gets in line now*

Could this be decision day?

I called MCI this morning, and while he didn't have any news, he did offer me this: "Tell you what, let me call you back this afternoon, hopefully I should have something by then." His tone suggested that there's a good chance a decision will actually be made.

So send me your best hopes/prayers/small animal sacrifices. I really hope this comes through.

Monday, May 09, 2005

How to recognize different types of trees from quite a long way away

[Bonus points to anyone who knows where the title comes from.]

I got started with my work on the textbook today, mostly just getting acquainted with the concepts and ideas I'll be researching. I'm not real familiar with it still, but at least I understand the differences between "community property," "traditional title," and "equitable distribution" systems of property division.

I would have gotten more done, but I decided not to go downtown, in the hope that MCI would call me. If you thought that they would actually come through and call me today, well, you were wrong. You're not alone though -- I was wrong too.

So I did that stupid "answer a bunch of questions about animals and it gives you insight into yourself" quiz that both Logan and Mela did. I'd post the results, except it was wrong. In fact, it was so wrong, I'm not even gonna link the quiz to let you all take it. Maybe that'll teach it for being wrong. Or maybe not.

I need some ice cream.

And finally, I broke my string of days-without-caffeine today. I hadn't had any caffeine since Friday, but I broke down and had a Dr. Pepper. But only one. I'm pretty sure I'm addicted. :-(

Are you kidding me?

I got a phone call this morning. No, it wasn't MCI. It was a friend of mine from school, Jared, and we proceeded to have this conversation:

"I think I can get third row box seats to Wednesday's game. Wanna go?"
(0.000001 seconds later) "YES"

Looking at the matchups, it's scheduled to be Johan Santana vs Fat Pitcher. Which means the O's will probably lose, but it's not every day you get to see the best pitcher in baseball. Especially from third row box seats.

** EDIT **

Oh, and the tickets are FREE! Does life get any better?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Let's keep it clean! Now come out boxing!

Well, I haven't posted much this weekend, have I? There's a reason for that -- I've had a very enjoyable weekend of doing nothing, and hence have not had much to say.

I called home and talked to my mom and stepmom today. That was really enjoyable. I need to do that more often.

Only 5 days until I go home for a visit! I just wish it could be longer.

I've decided that enough is enough from MCI. If they can't get some sort of answer to me by tomorrow (maybe by Tuesday), then forget it, I'll just work for Gutman instead. It'd be nice to set my own schedule anyway.

In other news, I just discovered today that there's a new Dave Matthews album out! Guess I'm going to the mall tomorrow....

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy mother's day to all the mothers out there!

(Open thread for shout-outs)

Judge Dave and the Rainbow People

OK, I confess: I didn't completely do nothing today. I read a book: Judge Dave and the Rainbow People, by Dave Sentelle.

It was really quite good. It's the story of a gathering of 20,000 hippies (the Rainbow People), the state of North Carolina wanting to block the gathering under a health and safety law, and the judge who decided the case. The book is a first-person account, written by the judge himself. (Side note: Judge Sentelle is now on the DC Circuit, and was one of the judges who decided the broadcast flag case this week.) It's a very interesting read, particularly the two occasions where the judge went and explored the hippie gathering himself (and yes, he did describe it as a "hippie gathering").

From the prologue:

All of my career, not only as a judge but as a lawyer and law student, I've fretted about the extended power of the judge who takes over and operates a prison, school system, or housing authority. That's why it becomes especially ironic that I am, so far as I know, the only federal judge who took over and operated a hippie reunion.


Really a great read, not only because it's a look inside hippie subculture, but especially because it looks at things from the perspective of a judge, with all of the insight and behind-the-scenes access that such a first-person account necessarily provides. Plus he doesn't write like a lawyer, he writes conversationally, and takes the time to explain legal terms like "subject matter jurisdiction" and "pro se litigant."

Four out of five stars.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

On the broadcast flag

What did I do today?

I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.

In other news, the DC Circuit struck down the "broadcast flag" regulation yesterday. For the uninitiated, a brief recap, courtesy of the EFF:

The Broadcast Flag rule would have required all digital TV receivers, including televisions, VCRs, and personal video recorders like TiVo, to be built to read signals embedded in over-the-air broadcast television shows that would place certain limitations on how those shows could be played, recorded, and saved. The sale of any hardware that was not able to "recognize and give effect to" the Broadcast Flag, including currently existing digital and high-definition television (HDTV) equipment and open source/free software tools, would have become illegal.

The FCC was created to regulate communications, but this regulation would have applied only after the "communication" aspect of the broadcast had finished. As such, the FCC lacked the authority to pass this regulation.

Why am I posting about this? Because it's good news. I could possibly have had to upgrade my MythTV box already, which I really did not want to do. Also, it means that, for example, schools which use video for distance learning will not have to purchase special technology to continue. Many schools would have had to completely redo their entire distance learning setups.

Besides, many of you reading this blog consider yourselves to be conservative. You should be especially pleased with this ruling, because it helps to slow the spread of big government.

Discuss.

A very good day

My day so far:

10:30 -- Out of bed. Check email, etc.

11:30 -- Start playing Nintendo.

2:00 -- Stop playing Nintendo. Start watching Office Space.

3:30 -- Start playing Diablo II.

It's been a good day.

** EDIT**

Or maybe I won't. Stupid runaway CD... Guess I get to clean my room instead.

Sleep -- as elusive as a greased Republican

Finals are over, and I still can't sleep. I had hoped this problem would go away after the exam stress is relieved, but apparently no dice. I don't know what I'm going to do when my pills run out.

Instead I'll just ramble for a while. Joe found a new roommate to replace Neil, who's leaving at the end of the month. I don't know much about the guy, other than that his name is Joe and he'll be interning on the Hill this summer. So in the fall, we have to find someone else again. I don't think that'll be too hard though.

The Wizards won! They haven't been to the second round of the playoffs since I was less than a month old. Now they get the honor of losing to the Heat. Washington's not bad, but they can't run with Miami, at least not for a 7-game series. Miami will win it in five.

The O's won too. Not a big surprise, since they were playing KC, who's fighting with Colorado for the "worst record in baseball" distinction. Seems like just a couple years ago that KC was making a run at the AL Central title. Oh wait, that was just a couple years ago...

I still need someone to go to the game with me tomorrow, but it looks like that won't happen. It's a shame, too -- Bruce Chen is facing Jose Lima. Pitcher's duel? Nah -- but it'd still be nice to see. Plus I haven't been out to OPACY yet this year.

I still haven't heard from MCI. It's seriously getting frustrating now. I'm about thisclose to just telling them to forget it. Besides, if they really wanted me, it wouldn't be so hard for them to make up their minds.

I didn't hear from Justice at Stake this week either. Whatever.

But I got two care packages this week! Hooray! Thanks Diane and Faith LWML!

Mmmm brownies....

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's good to live in a pro sports town

I'm watching the Wizards-Bulls playoff game, and the place is going crazy. A sold-out arena, rocking, in DC. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be there. Just a few years ago, such talk would be heresy. Maybe I can score a couple tickets to the second round series.

And I need someone to go with me to the BAL-KC game, either tomorrow or Sunday. Please?

Catch-up post

Oy. It's been a while since I posted. I shall catch up with a quick evaluation of recent occurrences:

My civ pro exam yesterday was ridiculously easy. That is bad. Why? Because in law school, the class grades are on a curve, which is normalized to a pre-set mean. So, my grade is somewhat dependent upon my performance, but is heavily dependent on other people's performances. The better they do, the worse I do, and vice-versa. So an easy exam is bad, because everyone will do well, and all the grades will be clumped together. Bad times. 3/10

Afterward we busted out champagne, and then went out to celebrate the end of the first year. 8/10

This morning, however, was Very Bad Times. 0/10

I went to a meeting for all of the people that are going to be helping with the family law textbook. It was interesting, in a neither good nor bad sort of way. I got some good direction and guidance, plus my assignment. I'm going to be working on (and probably writing) the chapter on division of marital assets during a divorce. I'll start that... tomorrow. 7/10

I filled out the paperwork so I can get paid (10/10!!), but they wanted two forms of federal ID, or a passport. I don't carry my passport with me (duh), and ever since the picture thing in my wallet broke, I haven't had my social security card either, so I couldn't get things finalized. Maybe I should start carrying my SS card around again (no, not that SS). No big deal though, I'll just finish things up next week. 5/10

Then I came home and took a nap. 9/10

So altogether, my last couple days have averaged out to a 6.3/10. Still a D-. Crap.

**EDIT**

The post office finally did their jobs, and delivered a box of yum yums from Diane! W00t! 10/10

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Workin' in Family Law

I accepted the family law textbook position. It's only 15-20 hours though, so I'll do something else too. Hopefully MCI, if not then probably the other research assistantship. And who knows, maybe Justice at Stake will decide to actually call me back -- then things will really get interesting. Or maybe not. I'm not sure I'm all that excited about working for a nonprofit advocacy group anyway.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Can you have negative energy? The answer is Yes!

I'm completely mentally exhausted. Yesterday's Contracts debacle sapped all the energy I had left.

On the plus side, it appears that I might know this stuff better than I thought. I did a couple of practice hypos and got most of the points. So that's encouraging.

The bad thing, though, is that tomorrow's exam is going to be the easiest of all. Yes, that is bad. It's bad because that means that it's harder for one person (namely, me) to rise above the rest by catching a hidden subpoint or two. On this exam, there will be no hidden subpoints. All of the issues jump out at you. Honestly, I don't know how anyone can do significantly better than anyone else.

Unless it turns out that a good portion of the class does not understand the material. Which is definitely possible, because our professor was terrible at explaining things. The only reason I somewhat know it is because I've been using secondary sources.

Someone send me some energy quick, so I can go over this stuff a few more times.

Critical Thinking is a Very Good Thing

From CBS News:

Nearly 30 years of teaching evolution in Kansas has taught Brad Williamson to expect resistance, but even this veteran of the trenches now has his work cut out for him when students raise their hands.

That's because critics of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection are equipping families with books, DVDs, and a list of "10 questions to ask your biology teacher."

The intent is to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of students as to the veracity of Darwin's theory of evolution.

[ . . . ]

"The argument was always in the past the monkey-ancestor deal," says Mr. Williamson, who teaches at Olathe East High School. "Today there are many more arguments that kids bring to class, a whole fleet of arguments, and they're all drawn out of the efforts by different groups, like the intelligent design [proponents]."

It creates an uncomfortable atmosphere in the classroom, Williamson says - one that he doesn't like. "I don't want to ever be in a confrontational mode with those kids ... I find it disheartening as a teacher."


I think this is fantastic, and not because high schoolers are standing up for creationism. I think it's fantastic that they're asking the all-important "Why?" question, even if they're not creating the questions themselves.

I also find this teacher's quote to be utterly repulsive. He's upset and disheartened because he's being questioned? Too bad. If you want an environment where kids are expected to absorb your every word as truth and just parrot it back to you, then go teach elementary school. By the time kids reach high school, they are capable of asking why things are the way they are. And if they're not going to be expected to ask it, then they should at least be encouraged and supported when they do.

Think about this, Mr. Williamson -- the entire field of science would not exist if people hadn't started asking "Why?"

Civ pro creates a vacuum

So I went to a review session for tomorrow's civ pro exam, and I'm very clearly not ready. All those stupid rules and their little intricacies.

But on the plus side, no one else is ready either.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

News On The Employment Front

After an evening of accomplishing very little studying (which may or may not end up to be a really poor decision), I feel less doomed than I did earlier. So, now I shall pass on another piece of information which many of you will be interested to read:

I got a job offer (or two) today!

To be precise, it's one firm offer, and one mostly-firm offer. They're both from professors. The firm offer is from a professor who needs help writing a family law textbook, specifically sections on child custody, division of assets, and other divorce-related issues. The mostly-firm offer is from one of the professors I had last semester, who does mostly clinical work. He needs help with the clinic, plus some help preparing for a class next year.

I know, it's not MCI, but it's something.

I'm slowly and reluctantly realizing that MCI probably won't happen. If it were going to happen, surely they wouldn't be dragging it out this long. I feel like it's a game of chicken -- who can hold out the longest? Supposedly they were now going to give me an answer "the early part of this week."

*looks up* Nope, no flying pigs.

So if there's a snowball with the name Beelzebub on it, I'll jump at MCI. Otherwise, I'd like to take a position with both professors. The family law casebook is only 15-20 hours a week anyway. Plus they're both paid!

I feel like I've just been punched in the gut

Well that was a trainwreck.

4000 words of awful.

What happened was this: We had the same professor last semester for Contracts I as we did this semester for Contracts II. Last semester, we (the class as a whole) smoked the final. Maggs (the prof) said it was the best scores he'd ever seen on one of his exams. So this semester he apparently thought "I pity da foo dat thinks dey know Contracts," and made the exam absolutely ridiculous. It was Operation Shock and Awe, run to perfection.

One good thing, though: Everyone else felt the same way as I do. Everyone, without exception, agreed that we just took the hardest exam ever, hands down.

So a group of us went to Friday's and drowned our sorrows in cheeseburgers. I'm talking smothered in toppings, half-inch-thick, grease-dripping-into-puddles cheeseburgers.

And I felt a little better.

Only one exam to go. Civil procedure; Thursday; 2:00. In under 43 hours, I'll be a 2L.

I suppose I should be excited. Mostly, I'm just tired of studying.

I had a dream

I had a dream last night that I was at graduation, and Jesus was there.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Tuesday's coming. Did you bring your coat?

So tomorrow brings Exam Number 3, also known as Contracts II. Without going into too many details, let's just say that I'm making a big list of all the concepts that might show up on the exam, and the count is up to 61. So far.

Have I scared everyone away from law school yet?

In other news, today brought this interesting item, from the Kansas City Star courtesy of the Daily Kos:

Republican Rep. Jerry Moran won't run for governor next year, a knowledgeable GOP source told The Associated Press on Friday, amid talk from prominent party members that Moran had chosen not to enter the race.

Also, the Wichita Eagle, in a story posted on its Web site Friday, cited "a well-placed Republican source" saying Moran wouldn't run [...]

Many Republicans have seen Moran as a strong candidate who could unite the often-feuding moderate and conservative wings of the state GOP. Some thought his candidacy might prevent a primary, and give Republicans a better chance of unseating Sebelius.


I consider this to be partially good, but mostly bad, news. It's partially good in that Moran's name recognition alone would have given him a decent shot against Sebelius (who I think is doing a very good job).

It's bad news, though, in that it helps clear the path for possibly the worst candidate the Repugnants could field: Phill Kline. Eww. Even typing his name makes me feel dirty.

In case any of you are unfamiliar with Kline's Grade-A wingnuttery, here's a quick primer. A couple months ago he started demanding that all abortion clinics provide him with full access to their medical records. His stated reason is that he wants to ensure that abortions aren't being provided to children -- a criminal violation of Kansas law. Regardless of what you think about abortion, this is a blatant invasion of their patients' constitutionally-protected privacy rights. And in case you were wondering, yes, constitutional rights do trump criminal investigations, especially ones that are just fishing expeditions.

Think about what would happen if the government were suddenly allowed access to your private information. 1984, anyone?

Lest you be reassured by the fact that Kline has yet to declare for the governorship -- trust me, he will run. I just hope that Kansans are sane enough to write him off as the ultra-wacko that he is.

What's a billion?

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
A billion days ago no one walked on two feet on Earth.
A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the current rate of government spending.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Starbucks still sucks

Exciting news from today? Uhh, not really. Instead, I'll lull you to sleep with boring ramblings.

I went and wandered around the mall for a while. Why? No particular reason. I do need new shoes, though. I discovered that all of this year's shoe styles under $100 are awful. I don't need new shoes that badly.

Given yesterday's frustration with Dunkin, I decided to give Starbucks a shot. As expected, there was a majority of white people, and also as expected, the prices were high. The same as downtown, actually, which is particularly noteworthy when you consider that building rents in Wheaton are nowhere close to rents downtown. Even on K Street, the power center of the city, where commercial space is worth more than your firstborn child, the prices are the same as they are here. And to top it all off, the coffee wasn't very good, and I got nothing done.

So I came home, took a nap, and went to Dunkin. Productivity!

The moral of the story, children -- Starbucks is Geneva Stoller, and Dunkin Donuts is Terrible Terry Tate. One keeps you in line, and the other gives you a Badge of Shame. And if anyone gets this joke, post a comment and let me know. My bet is that none of you do.

In other news, I'm going home in a couple weeks! W00! Erin should feel special.

On irritating people

Quite possibly the thing I dislike the most about living in the city is the beggars. I was sitting there at Dunkin Donuts, knee-deep in Erie, and this guy that smelled awful tried to interrupt me to give him money.

So I ignored him.

I have nothing against homeless people. I, however, do have a problem with lazy people. Unfortunately, the group "lazy people" seems to overlap with the vast majority of the group "homeless people."

Let me give you an example. A friend of mine went to undergrad at Florida. Apparently Gainesville has a lot of homeless people (who knew). For four years, whenever a beggar would ask him for money, he'd tell them that he'd pay them $10 to wash his car. He even offered to provide the soap, buckets, and sponges. Number of times he got his car washed: 0.

I have no problem with giving money to people who perform some service for me. Even just playing an instrument outside the Metro stop counts -- it brightens my day just a little. But interrupting my reading does not count. I simply cannot believe that there is no way for these people to earn money. This is freakin' America, for cryin' out loud.

I'm similarly frustrated with overly loud high school students. There was a whole group of them at Dunkin too. All sitting at the same set of tables; all trying to be louder than the rest. And all talking about drinking, doing drugs, and getting in fights. As if pillaging your body and breaking the law is something to be PROUD of.

I really really hope that I was not so wantonly inconsiderate when I was in high school. Somebody tell me if I was, so I can jump out the window in shame and penance.

Maybe if I don't leave my room tomorrow, I won't have to deal with people.