Away From Home

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Donate. Now.

In lieu of a big fluff post about my first day of real classes, I'll post this:

All of you need to donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Seriously. I'm not even kidding.

Every single person reading this blog has the ability to contribute.

If you don't have the money: Pack a lunch for a week, and donate the $30 you would have spent.

If you don't have a credit card: Find a friend (or parent) who does, and give them the money to donate. And then make them donate too.

Think it's not important?

Water continued to rise in downtown New Orleans, reaching 12 feet in some places Thursday afternoon.

The city had no power, no drinking water, dwindling food supplies, widespread looting, smoke rising on the horizon and the sounds of gunfire. At least one large building was ablaze Tuesday.

. . .

"This is a tragedy of great proportions, greater than any we've seen in our lifetimes," [Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco] said.

. . .

Katrina destroyed "every one" of the casinos that raked in a half-million dollars per day to state coffers, Barbour said after a helicopter tour of the affected areas.

"There were 10- and 20-block areas where there was nothing -- not one home standing," he said.

. . .

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said 80 percent of his city was under water, in some places as much as 20 feet deep. New Orleans, he said, "is in a state of devastation."


Harvey Jackson, of Biloxi, Mississippi, told CNN affiliate WKRG-TV that he believed his wife was killed after she was ripped from his grasp when their home split in half.

"She told me, 'You can't hold me,' ... take care of the kids and the grandkids," he said, sobbing.

Harriet Leckich, also of Biloxi, visited her property and said, "Everything is gone."

"There's no sign of our car that was in the driveway," Leckich said. "It's just phenomenal, because nothing was recognizable. The waterline was so far back, and there were cars that had been pushed into the sea wall. There was an airplane from Keesler [Air Force Base] that was almost in the railroad."

Leckich said six trees near her home, which was built in 1945, also were gone.

Another Biloxi resident, Suzanne Rodgers, who lived in a two-story, brick apartment near the beach, told CNN's Paula Zahn on Monday that the entire building was swept away.

"All I found that belonged to me was a shoe," she said. "There's nothing left."


The American Red Cross launched the largest natural disaster mobilization in its history, larger than services for last year's four Florida hurricanes combined, said the organization's president, Marty Evans.

More than 75,000 people were being housed in nearly 240 shelters, and Evans said she expects the numbers to grow.

"It's going to be a long-term operation," he said. "We're talking many, many weeks, months."

I donated $100. Give whatever you can, right now.

UPDATE: If that link doesn't work for you, try this one.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A treatise on my 12-hour day

I didn't blog this weekend because I was sad about leaving my summer job, and because I didn't feel good. So there.

My day started with an interview. Number 7. With another Midwestern firm. They're starting to run together at this point.

Got finished with that and walked 7 blocks over to begin orientation at my fall externship with a Major Government Department.


Mmmm... perhaps I need a new acronym. How about just Government Agency, GA.

Anyway, I was there in the conference room, when a friend of mine from school walked in. Turns out he's also starting an externship there, so we did orientation together. It was nice, since I hadn't seen him much all summer. We watched these really awful movies about "Don't harass people!" "Don't tell ethnic jokes!" "Don't let strangers into the building!"

Well color me enlightened.

Fortunately it didn't take long, and I was able to put in a few hours at the office. Well, I was there for a few hours, but only ended up doing about 45 minutes of actual work, due to meeting people, getting a tour, etc etc.

At one point, my phone vibrated. A message! A voicemail! Could it be a firm, with a callback offer?!? Oh please oh please oh PLEASE??

No. It was another friend of mine, saying "Hey, hope you're getting some callbacks today... oh by the way, I got an instant callback today, where the guy offered me a callback before I even left the interview."

That's right. Not only was I disappointed that it wasn't a firm, but it was about someone else getting his fourth callback. I'm happy for him and all -- but it didn't do wonders for my mood.

Then 5:00 came. Work's over! Time to go home, right? Wrong! Mondays and Tuesdays I get the overwhelming joy of having an evening class, from 6:00 to 8:00.

It was sooo booooring. Even more so than expected. I'll spare you the details.

I came home and found a letter. From Interview 1. In a thin white envelope. I didn't want to open it, but of course I did anyway. As expected, it's a rejection.

The score: 0 callbacks, 1 rejection.

At least my housemate made curry tonight, so there was food waiting for me upstairs. The very long day ends on a high note.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Lake

So yesterday after classes, 6 of us to a Lake House in Council Grove. We got there at about 5. Then we went grocery shopping for today and went to Pizza Hut. We just hung out and played Uno. The lake by the way is beautiful; it was so pretty.

Today, we had brunch and went out on the lake. There was a water trampoline thing that we jumped and layed on. That was fun. We got back to the dorms at about 6. I'm slighty burnt but oh well, it was really fun. It's nice to have running water again. We got there and the water didn't work so we had to buy water to flush the toilet and wash dishes etc. A neighbor looked at it and appearantly they have to replace something but oh well it was fun

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Christian Challenge

ok so tonight a couple of my friends and I went to this Christian challenge thing on campus. Everyone on campus is invited. There is a bunch of singing with a small band and there is a scripture where the director talks about it. It was pretty fun. Afterward this really nice girl invited us to a birthday party for one of the people there. So we went to that for a few minutes and talked with her and then some people had homework so we left.

Tomorrow at 4, after classes, 6 of us are going to Council Grove to a lake house. We're just going to hang out and spend the night. Then, we'll come back Saturday. So that should be fun.

Interviews cinco y seis

Two more interviews this afternoon. I'm posting this recap rather
than, say, doing something productive because -- well, actually, I
don't know. You tell me.

Today's first interview was with a firm we'll call CT. It's a
Midwestern firm (are you sensing a theme here?), in a city that I
haven't spent a whole lot of time in. This interview was interesting
because he mentioned that he used to keep up with all the desktop
computing magazines (not a small task, mind you). The rest of the
interview then essentially wrote itself. Their firm seems to be
pretty technology-centric, which is a big plus for me. They just put
in a new million-dollar conference center, and their extranet portal
uses SecureIDs. Nice. CT didn't interview many people today, so if
they decide to call back anyone from GW, I feel like I have a pretty
good shot of being selected. <i>If</i> they call back anyone.

The second interview today was with BF, from the Upper Midwest /
Rockies. Very nice people. Less of a technology focus here, but it
seemed like they embrace it when it will really help them, rather than
just when it's impressive-looking. A very pragmatic way of looking at
it. They also have a good communications practice in the office that
I'm particularly interested in, which is a huge thing for me. I'd be
pretty excited to work there.

The world today's freshmen grew up in

A group of professors from Beloit College has compiled the "Beloit
College Mindset List," which looks at the worldview of this year's
incoming college freshmen. The list is quite interesting, even though
many of them apply to me as well. The list:

• Andy Warhol, Liberace, and Jackie Gleason have always been dead.

• They don't remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors.

• Al Qaeda has always existed with Osama bin Laden at its head.

• Wayne Gretzky never played for Edmonton.

• Boston has been working on the Big Dig all their lives.

• With little need to practice, most of them do not know how to tie a necktie.

• Pay-per-view has always been an option.

• They never had the fun of being thrown into the back of a station
wagon with six others.

• They learned to count with Lotus 1-2-3.

• Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker have never preached on TV.

• "Whatever" isn't part of a question but an expression of sullen rebuke.

• The federal budget has always been more than a trillion dollars.

• Condoms have always been advertised on television.

• They've always had the right to burn the flag.

• Money put in their savings account the year they were born earned
almost 7 percent interest.

• Southern fried chicken, prepared with a blend of 11 herbs and
spices, has always been available in China.

• The Starship Enterprise has always looked dated.

• Pixar has always existed.

• It has always been possible to walk from England to mainland Europe
on dry land.

• They've grown up in a single superpower world.

• They missed the oat bran diet craze.

• American Motors has never existed.

• Les Mis has always been on stage.

• "Baby M" may be a classmate.

• RU-486, the "morning-after pill," has always been on the market.

• Snowboarding has always been a popular winter pastime.

• Biosphere 2 has always been trying to create a revolution in the
life sciences.

• Researchers have always been looking for stem cells.

• They do not remember "a kinder and gentler nation."

• They never saw the shuttle Challenger fly.

• Airports have always had upscale shops and restaurants.

• Black Americans have always been known as African-Americans.

• They never saw Pat Sajak or Arsenio Hall host a late-night show.

• Matt Groening has always had a Life in Hell.

• Salman Rushdie has always been watching over his shoulder.

• Tom Landry never coached the Cowboys.

• The Field of Dreams has always drawn people to Iowa.

• Jimmy Carter has always been an elder statesman.

• Miss Piggy and Kermit have always dwelt in Disneyland.

• "Americas's Funniest Home Videos" has always been on television.

• There has always been a pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Interviews 2, 3, and 4

Today's schedule:

3 interviews
More work
Home! == Prepare for tomorrow's interviews

How fun, right? Let's get started:

Today is the biggest interview day for me. Three in one day, arranged somewhat in a group so that I wouldn't have to miss too much work. I figured that was wise. All of today's interviews were at the same hotel as Monday's.

The first one went surprisingly well. I say "surprisingly" because the more I think about it, the more I think Monday's interview didn't go very well at all. Color me shocked if I get a callback from them.

Today's first (call them EH), on the other hand, would not surprise me at all. I hate to say that I expect a callback, but I wouldn't be surprised. EH is a medium-sized Midwestern firm on paper, but with a nationwide practice and client base. How is that possible? Because "you definitely rack up the frequent flyer miles working here." I felt really good about the firm after the interview, and left the room really wanting to work there. It seemed that they liked me as well. The interviewers even brought up a discussion of how their callback process works and when it takes place. Surely that's a good sign, eh?

The second interview was more of the traditional "interview." Let's call this firm ES. It started with "So tell me about yourself." I hate this question because, come on, you already have my resume and cover letter. Anything that's relevant is going to be included in there -- and since anything I answer to that question is going to be something that I feel is relevant, well, you're not going to learn anything from it.

That said, I felt like I got along well with the interviewer. Which doesn't say much -- everybody gets along with their interviewers. There's no other option. This interview, like Monday's, could go either way. I like the firm, its size, and its location, and I would love to work there. However, a callback is probably not forthcoming -- though I would accept if offered.

The third interview went, in my opinion, fantastically. (I really really hope the interviewers felt the same way!) This firm, SP, is another Midwestern firm. When I mentioned being interested in communications law, one interviewer said "Oh! Well, one of our best clients is [a major telecom company]. One of the problems with hiring new telecom attorneys is that you need to apprentice them for a while, to teach them about it; but you could just hit the ground running."

Music to my ears. It was all I could do to not break out in song and dance.

The main complaint I have about these interviews is that the interviewers invariably feel the need to spend the first 5-10 minutes talking generally about their firm. The problem is that anyone who's done their research (for example, umm, me) already knows all the basics. Let's just start with the discussion, rather than with a lecture overview.

SP did it right. We sat down, talked about my summer employment, and then got right into back-and-forth discussion about the firm's culture, expectations, technology, etc. Thank you, SP.

If SP offers me a callback, I'll accept on the spot. It really seems like a fantastic place to work. Pleeeeeeeeease call me back. I'll even bring homemade cookies if they want!

Tomorrow: 2 more interviews. Good times.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Today was my first day of college classes, and what a day it was. It started off with an algebra class at 9. Then, bam, biology (uggg). Next came the ever intriguing phycology. Then, walking and jogging. Then, Yay lunch at 1. Last off comes Public Speaking (booo). So far not too bad. I have to read some stuff and I have to give a speach on Wednesday which I have no idea what to talk about. That was pretty much my day. I only got lost looking for King Hall and finding the 3rd floor in Science Hall (only one stairway leads to it so it's tricky). I have an 8-10 bio lab in the morning and a 1-3 Constructing your career class. That's it for Tuesdays.

Monday, August 22, 2005

GC Interview Recap

So my first interview was this morning.

(For some reason, typing that gave me the mental image of a "law school book" -- kinda like a baby book, only instead of having little stickers that say "Baby's First Steps" and "Baby's First Word," this one had "Baby's First FIP Interview." Apparently I need more sleep.)

As I anticipated, I got little sleep last night. What I didn't anticipate was last night's midnight discovery -- that this firm (let's call them GC) used to have a telecom practice, but it seems to have been purged several months ago. Their big emphasis is on health and pharma law.


Which is not to say that's a bad thing -- it just isn't what I expected when I tossed a resume their way. Anyway, I retooled my sale toward the corporate side, and went to the interview.

FIP is held at a luxury hotel downtown. Each firm gets a suite, and the interviews are in there. You're supposed to go, check in, and then go up to the room and knock at the interview time. I was doing great at this point -- I was relaxed, calm, and knew everything I wanted to say.

Then I knocked on the door, and something inside of me finally woke up and realized Wait, this is actually happening! Gah! I tried to relax and just focus on the things I want to say, but I couldn't remember them anymore!

By the time I got inside the room, it was alright. I didn't say anything too stupid, didn't say "like" (although I did slip a couple "you knows" in, sigh), and didn't seem too boring.

When it comes down to it, the process is just arbitrary. All objectivity is gone from here on out; now it's just who likes you and who doesn't. Therefore, it's impossible to tell how I did.

If I had to guess though, I'd estimate my callback chances at 35%.

Interview #1

Well, here goes nothing. My first interview is in just a couple of hours. I have a copy of my transcript, a resume, a mostly-finished writing sample (which will be done by interview time), and a list of questions for them. I've thought through answers to some of the more common questions. Here we go.

And if things start going downhill, I'll just cool their hot hearts with a cool island song.

On a tropical island, with the coconut trees...

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I know I know. It's been a long time. Well...Wednesday I moved to Emporia which was quite a change. I've been pretty busy. On Thursday I went to a block party and got a bunch of free stuff. Yay! I also went to a dance. It was pretty fun. Mostly I've been hanging out with a bunch of girls on my floor which has been really fun. Classes start tomorrow! Crazy. Later we're going to walk around campus and find out where everything is so that (hopefully) I won't get lost. I probably still will. Although I've already had an adventure trying to find a building. I had to carry my computer to a building in order to get the internet to work. Of course we took the long way to get there cause we had no idea where we were going. It was heavy but luckily I had a friend come with me and we took turns carrying it. So all in all, things are going pretty good so far.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Memo-writing sadness

I'm now up to 8 interviews, starting at 10:50 Monday morning. And I don't have a finished writing sample. Sigh.

But why, you ask? Here's why. At work, we tend to be more functional than formal, so when a question is asked, they want the answer quickly, not formally. Writing the answer in a formal memo takes too long, so I didn't end up with a pile of writing samples, like some people did.

A couple weeks ago, I said that I needed a writing sample. One of the attorneys gave me a question that I could write in memo form, so I did. It ended up at about 6 pages, answering a question about whether or not the business could do a certain thing. They looked at the memo and gave the answer to the business unit, who decided that this info cannot be seen outside the company.

I found this out yesterday morning.

I was able to take the research I'd done and answer a different question, one more fit for public consumption. But because it was conceived and written in only a few hours, it's not polished at all. Fixing that is Goal #1 for this weekend.

In other news, a good friend of mine is in Baltimore this weekend, so I'm going up there tomorrow afternoon. Should be fun!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cindy vs Terri

Up to now, I've done a good job of staying out of the Cindy Sheehan mess, but I just can't stay out any longer.

[Surely you all know who Cindy Sheehan is by now, don't you? The woman who lost her son in Iraq and is camping outside of Bush's ranch, hoping to get the chance to ask Bush why her son had to die? Okay, moving on.]

Bob makes a very good point. Bush claims to be "too busy" on vacation to allow Cindy to come into his ranch and have a 15 minute talk. But in March, Bush somehow found the time to interrupt a vacation and fly back to Washington to sign meaningless legislation for Terri Schiavo.

Let me say that again. He was able to take the time to fly to DC for Terri, but he doesn't have the time to let Cindy come to him.

The disparity is striking. This man has some seriously wrong priorities.

Is Roberts a chauvinist?

Maybe Roberts isn't the right guy for the Supreme Court after all:

Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

FIP Update

7-0-22, with 6 pending. Yes, that means I got another interview! Woo!


"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX)

Half of all Kansans disapprove of Bush

The group SurveyUSA has just released its latest nationwide polls on the popularity of George W. Bush.

The Kansas numbers are 46% approve and 50% disapprove.

That's right -- for the first time, more Kansans disapprove of the job Bush is doing than approve. In fact, only one percent higher, and we could say that most Kansans disapprove. And this is in a state that went overwhelmingly red just one year ago!

The national figures are just as astounding (well, not really astounding for those of us who have been paying attention). In only 10 states do more people approve than disapprove. TEN!

And remember the big 2004 battleground of Ohio? The state that Bush barely squeaked out to capture the win? Only 37% of Ohioans currently approve of Bush, versus 60% who disapprove.

A little voter's remorse, have we?

The nationwide aggregate isn't much better -- 41% approve, 55% disapprove.

Don't think the GOP monarchs haven't noticed, either, as they're fleeing the wreckage of the Bush administration like rats (see, e.g. Frist's latest stem-cell flip-flop).

Fortunately, this means that us Dems won't have to deal with a GOP candidate in 2008 who gets the benefit of leftover goodwill toward the previous administration. The playing field will be level (or if anything, tilted *toward* the Democrats). Unfortunately, we still have to suffer through two and a half more years of this administration's ineptitude. At least the public is waking up enough to finally oppose Bush.

Good luck Erin!

Everybody wish Erin good luck with her move today, and with the upcoming school year!

I know she'll do great. :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Employment news? Not really, but I can pretend

My "informational interview" was today, and it went smoothly, I think. Not spectacularly, and not terribly -- just smoothly. We talked about the industry and about the advantages and disadvantages of working in the FCC to start my career, as opposed to in a firm. Definitely good and bad points on both sides.

In other news, my VP at work is setting me up with another informational interview, this time with Big-Time Partner at Very Prestigious Law Firm That I Have No Chance Of Working At. Exciting, yes, but not too exciting. Today's meeting at least stands some chance of turning into a job.

I'm now at 6-0-22, with 7 pending. Guess I get to start the direct write campaign again. Sigh.

iBooks aren't all that special anyway

A couple weeks ago, one of my housemates heard about a big laptop sale down in Richmond. A school district was getting rid of 1000 4-year-old Apple iBooks, and was selling them for $50 each.

Of course, we promptly made plans to go.

However, we soon found out that there was so much demand that they were moving the sale from the school to the fairgrounds. Rather than deal with crowds, we decided that it probably wasn't worth it to drive clear down there and possibly not even get one.

I think we made the right decision.

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday, with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line.

"This is total, total chaos," said Latoya Jones, 19, who lost one of her flip-flops in the ordeal and later limped around on the sizzling blacktop with one foot bare.

More than 1,000 people turned out at the Richmond International Raceway in hopes of getting their hands on one of the 4-year-old Apple iBooks, which retail for between $999 and $1,299. The Henrico County school system was selling 1,000 of the computers to county residents.

Officials opened the gates at 7 a.m., but some already had been waiting for hours in line. When the gates opened, it became a terrifying mob scene.

People threw themselves forward, screaming and pushing each other. A little girl's stroller was crushed in the stampede. Witnesses said an elderly man was thrown to the pavement, and someone in a car tried to drive his way through the crowd.

More (with picture!) here.

Monday, August 15, 2005

FIP Results Round 1

Today was the first release of the on-campus interviewing results, where I first found out which of the 35 firms I bid for took enough pity on me to grant me an interview. Not all of the firms have their lists in yet.

The score: 6-0-15 (interviews - alternates - rejections), with 14 unknown.

Interviews start next week. Some of the firms I was really hoping for are still in the unknown pile, so wish me luck.

And no, I won't say which firms are in which category, at least not publicly -- call me if you really want to know. I will say that every one of the 6 interviewing firms is from a different city, which could make for a very interesting callback schedule if everything goes right.

UDPATE: It appears that some of the firms that show up as "unknown" for me are not unknown for other people, who are taking all the slots. So, don't hold out much hope for any of those to come through.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Recall Connie Morris

Connie Morris -- Exhibit A for why the Kansas School Board is a bunch of loonies.

She has said she was required by God to run after she had written an autobiography about overcoming sexual abuse and depression.

Partially financed by the conservative Kansas Republican Assembly, Morris campaigned as a fiscal conservative and spoke out against illegal immigration, adding that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for the education of the children of undocumented workers.

Her comments soon got her into trouble. Morris e-mailed an anti-immigration group that Garden City Mayor Tim Cruz was an “admitted past illegal immigrant.”

But that wasn’t true, and later Morris apologized.

Then, she told a reporter that she had reported to the FBI a Lawrence filmmaker for possibly stalking and “terroristic” behavior.

The filmmaker, Ranjit Arab, denied he stalked Morris but said that he patiently tried for months to get an interview with Morris for a film he was doing that was critical of her stand on immigration. Arab said he later sought a copy of the FBI complaint and the FBI told him nothing was filed.

Either she lied to the reporter, Arab said, or the FBI thought her claims were baseless.

“I think Morris’ actions against me are consistent with her behavior towards others who stand up to her. She’s a bully and she takes cheap shots,” Arab said.

On her Web site,, Morris says she opposes illegal immigration because it is devastating to children.

She thinks that children of illegal immigrants should not be educated! What possible justification could there be for that stance?

First off, it unnecessarily punishes the children for their parents' actions. The children didn't choose to cross the border illegally; their parents did. Why should we hold the children accountable?

Further, giving them public education provides tremendous benefits to society. Do we really want thousands of people growing up completely uneducated? They'll be able to get no job and end up living on welfare or on the street. That is not good for anybody -- not the person, not society.

Oh, and for presenting herself as a teacher who believes in "quality education," her website is rather un-proofread. I counted no fewer than 5 typos in two pages. (Cheap shot, I know, but come on -- she's on the State Board of Education here! Shouldn't we demand excellence?)

Read the full article for a better representation of her views. If you think she shouldn't be on the Board any longer, the recall effort is at

I would sign it if I were living in Kansas.

Tiki party!

I got to meet the new roommate today. He's moving in at the start of next month, but he dropped some of his stuff off today. That's fine with us; it doesn't take up much space. He seemed really cool, I think we'll all get along fine.

Unfortunately I didn't get to help them much, as I had more pressing matters to attend to...

For example, a tiki party.

Apparently one of the attorneys I work with has a big tiki party every year. It's kind of a big deal, but it's all the way out on the coast.

You may be thinking "But you don't live anywhere near the coast." If you are, you're right. And if you weren't thinking that, well, try and keep up.

I caught a ride out there with another attorney, who lives in Virginia. 50 minutes later, we arrived. (By the way, did anyone know that southern Maryland grows corn? I sure didn't. Driving between corn fields made me a little nostalgic for home. But I digress.)

The house was on a circle at the end of a long road. On one side of the circle is the Chesapeake Bay, and on the other side is a small jetty of water, putting the neighborhood on a little peninsula. Their house was on the jetty side, and sat on a lot roughly an acre in size.

We went around back, and what do you know -- on the waterfront is a tiki bar. Yes, a tiki bar. Like you'd expect to find in [insert random Caribbean country here]. Hence the tiki party (it all makes sense now!).

It was really nice out there. It was hot, in the 90s, but a breeze was blowing in off the water so it was comfortable outside. They had drinks and food, and nearly everyone I work with showed up, along with dozens of people I don't know. Like I said, it's apparently a big deal.

The sun went down, the tiki torches got lit, and as it was getting dark I realized -- there aren't any bugs here! It was a little bit strange (albeit in a good way) to be sitting next to a large body of water at dusk and not be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Anybody know why this area is so bugless?

Then we came back into the city, where it is still oppressively humid. So it goes.

Friday, August 12, 2005

More extravagance in the subway

Apparently they're lowering the threat level for mass transit back to yellow, in line with the rest of the country.

So why was there a need for seven armed DC police officers on the Metro Center platform this evening?

Kansas GOP opposes anti-fraud campaign

Chris Biggs, Kansas Securities Commissioner, just launched a new ad campaign to warn citizens about the dangers of fraud. The ads are on TV and radio, and feature situations such as a man getting caught in an illegal investment scheme, and losing everything. Biggs then appears and warns, "Call our office and investigate before you invest."

Good idea, right? Raising fraud awareness is good for Kansas.

Unless, apparently, you're with the Kansas GOP:

"It's blatant campaigning at the expense of the state. We know it. He knows it. There's lots of frauds and scams out there. I'm not certain he didn't just perpetrate one," said State GOP Chairman Tim Shallenburger.

Really, Tim? Are you really sure you want to suggest that the ads are a fraud? That securities and investment fraud isn't really a big concern?

I think he's still sore that he lost to Sebelius.

Get over yourself, Tim, and start thinking about what's best for Kansas, rather than how to get your name in the paper.

Gays in the clergy?

There's a big internal battle going on in the Lutheran Church:

Delegates to a national meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted Friday to remain unified despite their differences over homosexuality, and prepared to take up contentious proposals on the role of partnered gays in their denomination.

The unity resolution was approved by an 851-127 vote following a short debate and was the first of three measures before the churchwide assembly Friday.

"Our job is not to judge one another, our job is to love one another," said Patrick Monroe of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, speaking in favor of unity. "This motion allows us to move forward in that way, not just with sexual issues but with all issues."

. . .

Several delegates opposed to the changes worried that ordaining gays would strain relations with other Christian denominations and with the many conservative Lutherans overseas. Many delegates said the truly Christian approach would be to convince homosexuals to change their sexual orientation.

"We would be granting exceptions to biblical, moral standards that have seen approval for 2000 years," said David Glesne of the Minneapolis Area Synod.

Lutherans in the audience -- what do you think the church should do?

UPDATE: The proposal was defeated, 503-490. That's not as close as it sounds; it would have needed a 2/3 majority to pass.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I hate deadlines

Turns out I almost ruined the best part of my fall semester: the externship.

I was looking through a bunch of info on the coming semester, searching for the book list (I still haven't gotten any books yet). I came across a document on outside placement, which is the process through which I can get class credit for doing an externship. Pretty sweet deal.

Except the deadline to file the Intent to Register form was two weeks ago.

I just stared at it. 'Intent to register' form?!? I've never heard of such nonsense!

To make things even worse, my brain chose that moment to remember the Words of Wisdom that were imparted unto me about the professor in charge of the program:

"She's really nice and really helpful, just as long as you meet the deadlines."

Hoping against hope, I emailed her. I made no excuses, just asked if there was any room left for me.

Turns out that there were "a couple" spots left. Five minutes later, I faxed in the form.

Disaster narrowly averted (I think). I feel very fortunate right now.

What in the world is an informational interview?

And the search for next summer's job begins....

The process starts with Fall Interview Program (FIP), where a whole list of firms come interview on campus. I think the list is around 220 firms long, but you can only "bid" (i.e. apply) to 35 of them. That was all due last week.

In addition to that (since only 10-20% of the class actually gets a job through FIP), I'm also applying separately. My boss at work was kind enough to set me up with an "informational interview" with a named partner at a medium-sized firm that I'm interested in.

[named partner, n.: A person with their name in the firm's title; i.e. David Boies at Boies and Schiller (not a firm I'm interested in)]

But what in the world is an "informational interview"? I have no idea how to approach this. It's clearly intended to be different than a job interview, but at the same time, my job search is the sole reason for the interview. Hmm.

Anyone have any insight?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Fair, etc.

I know I haven't bloged lately. I have been kinda busy. Saturday I went to the Dickinson County Free Fair over in Abliene. Our family did the usual look at all the smelly animals etc. Then I met up with some my friends and watched a band made up of mostly Solomon-ites play in the band shell. They are kinda punk rocker-ish, but fun.

Sunday, a bunch of us went to the the demolition derby. I had never been before. It was interesting and pretty fun until the finale, if you will, in which they didn't seem to really hit eachother. A friend of mine's boyfriend was in the rookie's portion. He did pretty good. I found out that on Tuesday he got 7th out of 23.

Last night Emily and I spent the night at my best friend's new apartment. There were going to be a few more people but for one reason or another, they didn't make it. That's ok though; we had a good time. We didn't really do much just hung out and went on some walks around the exciting town of Concordia, KS. It was kinda sad because we'll still keep in touch and all but we won't really get to hang out anymore. Oh well, I try not to dwell on that.

I only have two more days of work, Thursday and Saturday. Then, I leave on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Judicial style

The full text of Fisher v. Lowe, 333 N.W.2d 67 (Mich.App. 1983)

J.H. GILLIS, Judge.

We thought that we would never see
A suit to compensate a tree.
A suit whose claim in tort is prest
Upon a mangled tree's behest;
A tree whose battered trunk was prest
Against a Chevy's crumpled crest;
A tree that faces each new day
With bark and limb in disarray;
A tree that may forever bear
A lasting need for tender care.
Flora lovers though we three,
We must uphold the court's decree.

Who knew?

I just ordered a pizza online, for the first time!

I love the Web.

The Law Firm gets dismissed

After only two episodes, NBC has used a peremptory challenge to strike The Law Firm. They probably could have struck it for cause, however...

(If you got that joke, you get to wear the Dork hat for the rest of the day.)

I watched the first episode, and let's just say, there's a reason I didn't blog about it. I was too embarrassed. The show was just plain bad.

I'm not even sure why I'm admitting it now.

"Hi, my name is Scott, and ... (choking up) I watched The Law Firm..." *murmurs of sympathy are heard*

UPDATE [11:03 pm]: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned... I watched the second episode tonight. I'm so ashamed...

On the ACLU

There's been some discussion lately over the NYCLU's (a division of the ACLU) lawsuit challenging the NYPD's policy of searching suspicious-looking passengers on the New York City subway. The criticism has particularly come, as you can imagine, from the right-wing, which claims that the NYCLU is helping terrorists and hurting Americans.

I contend that it's actually the other way around.

First let's consider the role of lawsuits in this country. Why do they even exist? Lawsuits exist to hold people accountable. If you break the law, you'll either be prosecuted (a criminal lawsuit) or sued (a civil lawsuit). The lawsuit itself is, in essence, a test. The plaintiff says the defendant broke a law; let's test the facts to see whether this is true. If it is, the courts hold the defendant accountable for the illegal act.

Two forces act to discourage meritless suits. The first is the high cost of suing somebody. Litigation is expensive, sometimes to a fault. This is particularly true if you really want to win -- the best attorneys in the country can charge $1000 an hour, or more. Most plaintiffs are not going to be willing to incur this cost simply to harass somebody.

The second force is what's known in the business as "Rule 11," which sanctions plaintiffs (and their attorneys) who file frivolous suits. Filing a suit which has no legal merit risks being fined, having to pay the defendant's attorney's fees, or even being held in contempt.

But back to the ACLU (as the parent organization of the NYCLU). Many people hate the ACLU. There's even an opposition movement. Why is this? Because the ACLU gets in the way, opponents say. By challenging religious displays, police searches, and the like, the ACLU is destroying society.

But their real problem isn't that the ACLU is challenging. Opponents' real beef is that the ACLU is winning.

As we have already seen, when a plaintiff wins a lawsuit, that means that the defendant broke the law. If all of the laws, displays, and regulations that the ACLU has challenged were legal, then they wouldn't have been struck down, would they?

Isn't it a fundamental truism that everyone, male and female, human and corporation, private and government, most adhere to the law?

This includes the NYPD. If the subway searches are legal, then they will be upheld, and the NYCLU will lose. If they are illegal, they will be struck down. How is this a bad thing?

So why are people so mad that the subway searches are being challenged? Obviously, because they're afraid that the NYCLU will win. They're afraid that the NYPD will no longer be allowed to break the law.

This is not a door that we as a society should enter. If we start letting the NYPD break the law, then don't we have to let every police department break the law? When the police no longer have legal bounds, you end up with what's called a "police state," or, more commonly, "fascism."

The ACLU and NYCLU simply ensure that the rule of law continues to reign supreme in this country.

If you don't like the law, change it. Don't pretend it doesn't exist.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

You haven't lived until you've beaten a crab with a mallet

This afternoon, a few of us went over to Annapolis to visit this place called Cantler's Riverside Inn. It's an actual crab shack, in that it's right on the water, so the boats unload fresh crabs straight into the restaurant. Doesn't get any fresher than that, folks.

Getting there is interesting, as it's not on any of the main roads, but thanks to the wonders of Mapquest, we were able to find it without difficulty.

The place is arranged with large tables that run the length of the room, giving it a very friendly, congenial atmosphere. We sat outside, where picnic tables were laid out on the deck overlooking the water, and ordered a dozen steamed crabs.

They were so good it defies description.

The crabs came out whole, on a tray, and slightly reddened from the Old Bay seasoning. And I do mean whole, with their legs, faces, etc. still attached. None of us had ever eaten whole hardshell crabs before, so we had no idea how to begin.

It turns out there's a certain method to "crab-picking," as it's called. First, you pull all the legs off (making sure to save the claws for later!). Pull a little piece off the bottom, and then you can rip the top shell off. Scrape away the entrails, break open the last piece (the provided wooden mallet helps), and voila -- you have crab!

And yes, it is as messy as it sounds. They don't even give you plates -- you just eat on top of a big piece of butcher paper. It's a fair amount of work to get to the meat, but once you're there, you really feel victorious. I win, Sebastian. You can't keep me out!

Then you get to the claws, which open fairly easily with the help of our friendly mallet, and have a couple bites of delicious meat inside.

Fresh crab is like nothing else. There's a huge difference between crab fresh from the water, and crab that's been shipped someplace. Even if you think you don't like crab, you have to try it fresh -- it's so much better.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Having no cash makes me a sad panda

So here's my dilemma:

I'm supposed to go downtown with some friends tonight. Generally, that requires money (unless you're a girl, then you make somebody else pay).

Except I have $4 in cash.
And $4 in my checking account.
But I have lots in savings!

I tried to transfer some over into checking so I could get it with my ATM card, but it was too late yesterday. I don't think it's going to post until Monday.

So, does anybody know of a place where they let you get cash back when you write a check?

UPDATE: One of my roommates was willing to trade cash for a check. (To paraphrase Mr. Wimpy, "I'll gladly pay you next week for some cash today....") Crisis averted.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Restaurant Week part dos

Today being the last day of Restaurant Week, much of the office went out to take advantage. And it was expensed! Woot! My main hope was that it would be better than the Oval Room.

The venue of choice was Sam & Harry's, most likely chosen because it is 1 block from the office. It seems to be somewhat of a jazz venue, with various portraits and things on the walls. I will have to remember that, next time I feel like jazz.

The menu was shorter than at the Oval Room. 2 appetizers, 3 entrees, 2 desserts. Might be because the lunch menu is always smaller; I don't know. It made the decisions pretty easy, though.

For an appetizer, I had chilled tomato soup. Yes, cold soup. It was good, though, and only slightly tasted like pizza sauce. In direct contrast to the spartan portion of shrimp I received at the Oval Room, this one actually came in a regular sized bowl. Which was full. Imagine that!

The entree was chicken, on a bed of potatoes and cooked with a rosemary sauce. Again, in a shocking development, it was regular sized! And quite good, I might add. Tender and juicy, seasoned just right.

But the dessert topped all. CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! And oh yes my friends, it tasted every bit as good as it sounds.

Sam & Harry's was everything that the Oval Room was not. Good food, good portions (5 hours after finishing, I'm still not hungry), quality service.

This, I believe, is what an upscale restaurant should be.

Lee Iacocca + Snoop Dogg = Visual fun

From the "Is-This-For-Real?" Department, the new Chrysler commercial features Lee Iacocca and Snoop Dogg, in one of the most bizarre pairings imaginable:

The commercial shoot at the Woodland Hills Country Club north of Los Angeles was scheduled to be an all-day affair. More than 100 people and four semi-trailers of equipment were involved.

The playful tone of the script was clear from the opening scene, with Iacocca in a pink golf shirt and tan slacks apparently waiting for someone in front of the club.

Suddenly, a Dodge Ram pickup pulled up. "Nice ride," said Iacocca.

Then Snoop popped out of the driver's seat clad in garish plaid pants and an argyle sweater vest.

"Thank you, Mocha-cocha," he drawled.

The repartee as they headed out to the golf course was classic dead-pan dialogue.

When Snoop exclaimed that he's "got the hook-up, nephew," on a good deal for a Chrysler car, Iacocca feigned puzzlement.

"I'm not sure what you just said, but now anybody gets a great deal," said Iacocca.

Snoop, in his own words, agreed.

"Fo-shizzle," he said, "Ica-zizzle."

They traded lines like it was the most natural thing in the world that a 6-feet-4-inch, goateed rapper would be teeing it up with a grey-haired corporate big-shot.

Their off-camera moments were priceless. In one scene, Snoop drives a pimped-up golf cart with spinner wheels and white leather seats, with Iacocca sitting next to him. When Snoop gunned the cart down a steep hill, Iacocca held on tight.

"How are the brakes on this thing, Snoop?" he said.

"I got you baby," Snoop replied. "But that would be a funny commercial if I tipped over with the boss in here."

"Yeah," Iacocca huffed. "That's funny alright."

With temperatures topping 100 degrees, the shoot was broken into segments so the stars could retreat to shaded tents or air-conditioned motor homes labeled "Mr. Iacocca" and "Mr. Dogg."

Click the article for a behind-the-scenes look, with pictures! Where else are you going to see Iacocca wearing pants you could smuggle immigrants in, and Snoop wearing.... well, you just have to see it. I lack the language skills for an effective description.

It's almost enough to make me want to see the commercial....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mazzilli fired

Bye-bye Mazzilli.

The Baltimore Orioles fired manager Lee Mazzilli on Thursday with the team mired in an eight-game losing streak and still reeling from Rafael Palmeiro's positive drug test. The Orioles have made bench coach Sam Perlozzo the interim manager for the remainder of the season.

This completely needed to happen. The O's were once 14 games over .500, and were in first place for 2 full months. Now they've lost 16 of 18, 5 games below .500, and 10.5 games out of first.

No Oriole team in history had ever been 14 games over .500 and then
fallen below .500 in the same season.

Now, the question is -- are Flanagan and Beattie next? Should they be?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Shopping Extravaganza

It's been a quite a day. I went to Salina to do a little bit of shopping with my dear father. Well, first I HAD to get a shot with my mother. Being the wimp that I am, I didn't like it but it really didn't hurt so that was good. Then, we went to CellularOne and mom and I got flip phones. Then, Dad and I got a HP printer/copier/scanner at Wal-mart. Next, we went to the mall and got me some tennis shoes. Many dollars later, I am closer to being ready for school. Speaking of which I leave in two weeks from today. Ahhh.

Restaurant Week at the Oval Room

It's Restaurant Week in DC! Many (most? all? I don't know) of the top restaurants run specials, where you can get a three-course meal for $30 instead of the usual $50+.

I went with Joe and some of his friends to the Oval Room last night. It's about one block from the White House, so it's a favorite restaurant of both Andrew Card and former President Bush. Given its high-profile clientele, it must have been good, right? Right?!


First off, let me say that the room is not oval in the least. I have no idea why they chose that name.

For my first course, I chose the grilled shrimp. Not a bad appetizer, eh? When it came out, I just stared at it in disbelief. It was 3 shrimp, arranged in a little circle pattern in the middle of a large plate.

The girl next to me remarked "Careful, don't spoil your dinner."

Oh don't worry, no danger in that.

The only appetizer with any substance was the Caesar salad, which should have been labeled "Some assembly required." The lettuce leaves were completely whole. I'm talking 4-5 inches long here. And rather than including usable cheese, they just slapped a couple whole slices on it.

Surely the main course will be better.

I had the chicken (surprise surprise), with some sort of a mushroom sauce on it, and the same dwarfism disorder that plagued my appetizer. It was literally gone within 5 minutes, and only served to wake my stomach up.

"Whoa, we're eating now? Keep it coming! FEED ME!"

One chance to redeem themselves -- the dessert course. I chose chocolate mousse with strawberries. Of course, it was tiny. It was as if the chef had taken an ordinary tablespoon and placed one big scoop on my plate.

Everything tasted good, but not spectacular. Certainly not the best I've ever had.

The service was also minimal. (Maybe it was a theme?) The only times we saw our waiter were when he was taking our orders and bringing us food. He never introduced himself to us, and never even remotely appeared as if he cared.

So we left 10%. A bit of a stiff, I know, but he did the bare minimum for us, why should he expect more than the bare minimum in return?

Turned out that he did expect more.

On our way out, some of the group stopped by the restroom. While the rest of us were waiting, the waiter came up with the check and said "You know gratuity isn't already included, right?"

I couldn't believe it.

It's one thing to expect good tips for mediocre service. It's quite another thing to ask for more money. Being conflict-averse, we gave him more, but I felt dirty doing it.

All in all, a very disappointing outing. I'm not convinced that these upper-class restaurants offer anything more than the restaurants I'm used to. In fact, this one offered much less.

I do not recommend the Oval Room.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Brownback hits a new low

You know you're in for a treat anytime Brownback goes on TV, but his recent appearance on Face the Nation takes the cake:

This will be one of, I believe, the first time we've ever used taxpayer money to pay for the intentional destruction of human life and that's what this does.

On a scale of 1 to Really Freaking Stupid, this is just off the charts.

And remember: This man thinks he should be President!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Missouri Adventure

A friend of mine is going to attend what is now called Missouri State, and her uncle lives there. The two of us made a trip down there so that she could set a position at her job and I tagged along for fun.

I had to work until 8 on Saturday so we left at about 9 that night. It is quite a trip down there, we made it at about 2:40 am.

On Sunday, she took me to see her school. The building were nice, from the outside anyway, but it needed more grass. It was all parking lotted, etc. Then we went to Bass Pro Shop. I had never been there and it was amazingly huge. Then we took a trip to the mall for a short while. After that we went to this huge fair. They had a talent show that was awesome. We heard a 14-year-old, who sang an Alicia Keys song, that was amazing. I also found out that Springfeild has ALOT (I mean ALOT) of hillbillies. I saw more cloggers in one night than I thought I'd see in my lifetime. There was also a yodler. So that was interesting. We left before the end of the adult portion to go meet one of her roommates. She'll have three and this one lives in Springfeild so she met us at a Starbucks. Neither of us had never been to one so that was quite an adventure. I kinda liked it and her roommate is really nice.

Today, Courtney did some things she needed to do. Then, we hit the road. We got back at about 9:30 tonight. So it was quite a weekend.

Apparently I'm allergic to NYC

Ever since I got back from New York, I've had this chest cough that just won't go away, and isn't getting better. It even kept me up last night, which meant that I had the pleasure of an absoludicrous headache all day.

In other news, I have to clear out my locker at school by tomorrow, or else they cut the lock and throw it out for me. I still have my Con Law book in there, and in the interest of not losing a $100 book, I went by after work to get it.

Turns out I forgot the combination.

Fortunately I have it written down at home, so as long as I go get it during the workday tomorrow, I should be fine. In theory.

So wish me a textbook and a cough-free sleep.

More on Palmeiro

From Palmeiro's statement today:

I am here to make it very clear that I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period. When I found out that I failed a test under the new drug policy, I filed a grievance and challenged the suspension on the basis that I have never intentionally taken a banned substance. Ultimately, although I never intentionally put a banned substance into my body, the independent arbitrator ruled that I had to be suspended under the terms of the program.

I am sure you will ask how I tested positive for a banned substance. As I look back, I don't have a specific answer to give. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to explain to the arbitrator how the banned substance entered my body. The arbitrator did not find that I used a banned substance intentionally in fact, he said he found my testimony to be compelling but he ruled that I could not meet the heavy burden imposed on players who test positive under the new drug policy. I accept this punishment and want to address it publicly. . . . I feel terrible that this has happened, but I think there is something to be gained from it. If my situation results in the education of current and future players about the dangers of taking anything without a prescription from a licensed physician -- that is a positive. At the end of the
day, it is important for all players to understand the risk of contamination and to be very careful about what they put in their body.

He says he never intentionally used any banned substances. Do you believe him? Do you think it should even matter whether he meant to or not?

Palmeiro suspended

Uh oh, turns out that Raffy was juicing after all:

Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for violating Major League Baseball's steroids policy Monday, nearly five months after telling Congress that "I have never used steroids. Period."

Palmeiro two weeks ago collected his 3,000th hit, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

Palmeiro, 40, is the seventh and highest-profile player to test positive for steroids under the major league policy adopted earlier this year.

A lot of people have been saying that Raffy is not worthy of the Hall of Fame, and this will only add fuel to their fire.

How long until Sosa gets exposed?

DeLay's Dirty Trick

From The Nation:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took this shady scheming to a new low last week, when he "mysteriously inserted" a $1.5 billion sweetheart deal for Houston oil companies into a massive energy bill that supposedly had been finalized. The provision, according to the sharp eye of Rep. Henry Waxman, stipulates that 75 percent of the $1.5 billion allocated for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico must go toward "a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."

The leading contender for the contract just happens to be the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America consortium, based in DeLay's Sugar Land, Texas, district. Its members include war profiteer Halliburton and Marathon Oil, under SEC investigation for bribing the president of Equatorial Guinea for oil rights. Governor Rick Perry created the consortium in March 2004, promising 1,500 jobs. "None had been created as of last December," AP reports.

The provision was apparently added at 4 am last Tuesday, after House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton, a favored son of big oil, halted all amendments and wrapped up the House and Senate conference. Amazingly, the ranking Democrats on the House and Senate energy committees knew of DeLay's plans, and did nothing to oppose them. The dispute only emerged after Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey learned of the provision, and its intended beneficiaries in DeLay's district.

In other news, the sun came up in the east this morning, and all current data indicates that it will set in the west.

Somebody please defend DeLay here. I am honestly clueless on how it can be done, and would like to learn.

Western Kansas is boring?

Breaking news: Western Kansas is boring! Stop the presses!

Residents in two Kansas communities are angry over a radio spot for the Kansas Lottery that suggests their towns are boring.

The Kansas Lottery is partnering with several Kansas radio stations to promote its Great Escape Hybrid Doubler tickets. The promotion gives listeners a chance to call in or register online for chances to win the tickets, trips or prizes such as concert tickets or spa treatments.

But WIBW is changing its ad promoting the game after it angered tourism officials in Garden City and Cawker City. Written by staff at the Topeka radio station and approved by the Kansas Lottery, the ad promised a lucky winner two tickets to a Kansas City Royals game and free admission to Worlds of Fun, both in Missouri.

"94.5 Country and the Kansas Lottery considered giving away an intimate rendezvous to Cawker City," the ad said, "but a giant ball of twine just isn't too romantic. So, we decided on a great escape to Kansas City."

It continues: "We also toyed with the idea of a getaway to Garden City, but nobody could actually say that with a straight face," the ad says.