November 29, 2004

Almost Halfway There

Thanksgiving with the family was everything it could have been.

First, we celebrated on Friday instead of Thursday, which meant that I got an extra half day of studying before the feast and was able to drive from 3 PM 'til 6:30 PM on Thanksgiving day. Talk about no traffic.

Second, my cousin from Washington flew in, I also got to see my other cousin, niece, brother, sister, father, aunt, uncle, and brother's in-laws. It was a big, full, long table with my father at one end and my 3-year-old niece at the other, each ably commanding the appropriate level of respect that is due to the head of the table.

Third, the turkey turned out perfectly, which is important since I was the designated cook (getting up after a night of drinking with my brother the construction worker to put the 22 lb. bird in the oven by 9 AM was fun...)

Fourth, the entire event was merely a 4 on the drama/annoyance scale of 10, which may be a family record low. Furthermore, in a shocking display of maturity, my parents both contributed very little to the things about which I could complain. Wisdom may very well come with age. How great to like them more as they grow older. I'm certain this has nothing to do with me maturing past the oh-so-pleasant ages of 14-23. Thankfully, I have cousins and siblings in this age range (not to mention fellow law students) to remind me that perhaps some of my earlier annoyance with my 'rents stemmed from my youthful idiocy instead of their unreasonableness...Nahh...Not me.

Fifth, and most importantly, after the 1.5 days of family crap, I was ready for a break. And I got one, in the form of a trip to Amador Wine Country with E on Saturday. Tasting good wine and buying multiple cases to stock the house for finals and the holidays was an excellent way to escape from the trauma of repetitive childhood patterns and remind me that I'm an adult with a wonderful life, an excellent partner, and overall, a million things to be thankful for, including my wonderful family (through wine-induced rose-colored-goggles they are perfect). E and I agreed that the Amador trip will be a regular addendum to Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family. I couldn't be happier with this plan.

Sixth, the freezer is now full. While most people leave Thanksgiving weekend with leftovers of mashed potatoes, yams, turkey, stuffing, and pies, I left those things with the local family. Instead, my father and brother, who are straight out of the hunting and fishing channel filled my trunk with 3 pheasants (thank goodness my father pays to have those birds cleaned by professionals now that he doesn't have children at home), 8 pounds of elk meat (the brown butcher paper helpfully labeled in sharpe pen "dead elk stew"), and about 20 pounds of alaskan salmon. We could have had venison as well, but we opted out, which just means I'll be looking for a good venison recipe to prepare for the whole family back in the homeland over Christmas week. Anyone know of any good recipes for backstrap?

Looking back, I see that I really couldn't have grown up to be anything but a food and wine geek. I was raised on freshly killed game, 4-H raised pork, beef and rabbit (raised 'em myself--that'll teach you about the value of life and where meat comes from, I'm an unapologetic carnivore, thank you very much!), and fish caught and cleaned by family members. My grandparents had a farm that my grandfather worked himself until I was in my mid-teens (and even in his later years he had a strong influence with the people who leased the acreage), so we ate home-grown persimmons (hate them), walnuts, sugar peas, lettuce, and more. When you've gone that route, just about anything farmed or raised in a mass-produced manner won't cut it. See... I really didn't have a choice.

After a reluctant return to my real life today, where I spent 8 hours studying and dealing with the faulty plumbing in our house, I had to focus on the positive, which is this:

I have too much to be thankful for to enumerate. Not the least of those things is that in a few short weeks, I will be halfway through law school. Half. Way. Done. Wow.

November 25, 2004

If I Ran the World

Everyone would just understand that forbidding teachers from showing students historical documents that reference Christianity is censorship. The history of this country DOES include quite a bit of Christianity. You might have heard. Systematically hiding a portion of the truth from people on any issue is never a good idea. [link via Mean Mr. Mustard.]

On the other hand, while people would be very against censorship, they would also understand that state-sponsored discrimination in the name of religious freedom is a laughable oxy-moron.

Perhaps we need to focus a little more on those historical God documents in school to explain to people that the purpose of religious freedom is to PREVENT discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, not allow for it.

Regardless, happy thanksgiving Y'all. Be thankful.


In response to a comment, I looked a little further into the teacher story. 'Til I see more details, I'm going to go with the mainstream media on this one. I'd love to know more about the reality of the handouts if anyone has verifiable facts--obviously I have no first hand knowledge. But, I find it hard to believe that not a single 5th grade parent of this guy's students (in the San Francisco Bay Area) wouldn't make it known if the handouts were actually as atrocious as feared...


E thinks I'm completely missing the point and the comment is a troll. E also thinks I cannot refrain from troll-baiting in response as it is my blog-given duty. Huh. Humans, amazing we ever manage to communicate anything, ain't it?

November 24, 2004

Productive like your mom

Well, it's almost that time of year again and since it worked reasonably well the last time around, I plan on keeping a ridiculous running schedule to keep me sane. Technically, classes aren't over yet, but all of my professors canceled today's classes in acknowledgment that most of us wouldn't show up regardless.

Given the free pre-finals study day, I planned on spending today in a familiar pattern: wake reasonably early, go for a long run, shower, burrito, and study 'til my eyeballs fall out of my head.

But, the stress just isn't there to make me maintain the level of focus that I most certainly need. Instead, my day so far has shaped up to look more like this:

8:00. Alarm. Snooze.

8:20. Alarm. Snooze.

8:40, roll out of bed and climb into running gear. Check temperature: 48 degrees? I can wait a little bit 'til it gets warmer, right? Catch up on reading some of my fellow bloggers, the news, email. Search for reviews of heart rate monitors.

9:20. Epiphany. Since I'm externing next semester, I won't have homework, except for one class. I'll have more free time. I could train for a race...

9:45. Finally convince myself that it's reasonable for someone like me to train for a half marathon in less than 3 months (the time between my return from winter travel and the actual race).

10:00. Print confirmation slip for the half marathon. E wakes up, sees me in my running gear and asks how my run was. Right.

10:20. Finish sending emails to my running-inclined friends asking if they want to join in the fun (or just some of my training runs).

10:55. 65 degrees out, and sunny. Finally leave for my long run.

11:40ish. Lose my way on the new trail and guess at how to get home. Keep running. Really warm at this point. Wonder if I was thinking straight when I was concerned about the cold.

12:18. Return from the run. No idea of my pace, because no idea how far I ran. Assume the best (when you are slow like me, and you got lost, and you hit stoplights, best case scenario is 7-7.5 miles in 83 minutes, it was probably closer to 6, but the beauty of not having a mapped route is that I can assume it was 8, at least). Pound water. Shower.

1:00-2:00. Go with E for burritos. It's a popular destination at 1 PM. Wait in a long line. Finally get burrito and stuff myself silly.

2:00. Begin evidence flashcards.

2:45. Call the fam to confirm thanksgiving details.

3:00. Call best friend who's unemployed. Catch up.

3:40. Return to evidence. Focus for about 15 minutes.

3:55. There are ants. The kitchen is disgustingly dirty. Impressed with my own ability to ignore the HUGE impulse to sweep and mop.

4:00. Check on E (who's working from home) and ask how work is going. Discuss ants. All of a sudden, I'm very concerned about being a supportive partner.

4:20. Return to evidence.

5:00. Go into the office. Check email. Blog.

5:20. Finish this entry. Plan to head back to the evidence book with the best of intentions.

Funny, after such a long day of work, I'm still invigorated and ready for more. I must be getting better at this whole law school thing.

November 22, 2004

When all else fails

And you should be studying for finals...

Take a quiz.

Apparently, I'm AVERAGE as a human being, a Sober Emotional Destructive Leader (aka "Dictator") and an Expressive Practical Physical Giver (whatever that means) in relationships. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, if you ask me.

Fear it.

November 19, 2004

Playing the Lottery

A few days ago, I had a depressing conversation with S, a 3L. She externed for a Federal Appeals judge last summer. Not a famous judge, just a regular old Cirucuit Court of Appeals judge I'd never heard of.

I mentioned that I was thinking about applying for clerkships and she tried to easily let me down. "Ummm.... I can tell you that you probably shouldn't pin your hopes on it. I only know 3 people who got interviews with any federal judges and one of them is probably #1 in the class as well as Editor-in-chief of law review." Interviews, mind you, not jobs.

She then described being in chambers during the application process and how 700 applications arrived for one position. The clerks had to do the first sorting rounds and they came up with the proxies of top 10% at a top 20 school. That got 'em down to 200. For round two, they limited it to top 5 people at a top 20 school with speaking experience like moot court or trial team, journal executive board, and one other extra-curricular activity. That got 'em down to 80. Somehow, they rolled dice and pulled 30 to interview from there. One of those lucky few got the job.

It was her opinion that everyone who applied to the circuit judges also applied to the district court judges within that circuit because there aren't enough circuit judges to go around. Hence, in her opinion, why students from my school aren't getting calls for interviews.

Makes sense. Frustrating. But what do you do? I guess you just put your packets together, mail them out, and hope for the best. It's like playing the lottery, but the tickets cost much more and the odds are slightly better.

The reality that the chance at a federal clerkship is a near nullity for people at my school is depressing, but, on the other hand, it does help weight the likely paths in the dependency madness of E's and my future.

November 15, 2004

Natural Law

I'm on call this week in Con Law. I normally do my reading and I'm not embarrassed to speak in class, so historically, when I've been on call, nothing really changed. But professor ConLaw has a habit of calling on people with questions like:

So, how would Justice Jackson, based on his dissent in some-case-we-read-two-months-ago, respond to Justice Breyer's concurrence in this case?

Right. So it's a little more difficult to be prepared in con law. So, I really paid attention while doing my reading for today. I read slowly, took notes in the margins, identified key phrases, and even read the relevant chemerinsky chapter (something I've been reserving for after I outline the section).

Sure enough. Professor Con Law called on me today. The conversation did not go as planned:

Prof: BT, I'm going to pick on you. Do you think there is such a thing as "natural law?" Are there discoverable laws about what is just wrong or right?

BT: Ummm, that's a fairly philosophical question...

Prof: [laugh] Welcome to the class. But seriously, do you think there are things that are just wrong?

BT: There are things that society as a whole decides are wrong...

Prof: But what about you? Are some things just wrong?

BT: I don't think we can affirmatively say things are just wrong.

Prof: But what about genocide. Wouldn't you say genocide is wrong?

BT: [conceding] Yes. I would say that genocide is wrong.

Prof: How do you know that?

BT: I don't. I've just put in enough time to form my opinion on this issue and I believe it's wrong.

Prof: You believe it. So if you were president, you'd go invade a country that was committing genocide and you'd tell the American people that you *believed* we needed to do it.

BT: Well, I'd have back-up.

Prof: What do you mean?

BT: I wouldn't be the only one who believed genocide was wrong.

Prof: Okay, so I'll give you back up on the genocide thing. But what about equal protection for women? Would you say that equal protection for women is right? Isn't it just something that is fundamentally good?

BT: Here, today, yes.

Prof: But it's not a moral imperative? Women in some cultures don't deserve gender equality. It hasn't always been correct?

BT: If aliens landed, I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't be so concerned about alien equal protection. But if it turned out that they were nice, one hundred years from now, alien equal protection could be seen as a fundamental right.

Prof: Well, if aliens landed, we'd be the ones who'd need to worry about discrimination.

BT: Good Point.

Not what I was expecting...but fun.

November 14, 2004


Yesterday, in the interests of falsely pinning some certainty to my approaching future, I repeatedly pressed E about where we could live and where we couldn't, whether we could handle each location for one year or two, and what E would do (quit job, telecommute, find a new job, go back to school) in each location.

Long term, we know we want to be here. But for the short term, there's absolutely no reason we can't go live anywhere. Which is awesome and disconcerting at the same time.

Last week, E tossed out the idea of getting a Masters in Leiden, Netherlands. I'd love to live in Europe for a couple of years. But a decision like that takes planning. When? How? What will I do while E's in school? How long would it take to get bar equivalence? I like the idea, but given my current set of plans, it won't work 'til around 2009 at the earliest, and that's assuming equivalence is less than 3 years.

Yesterday, I added to the pile of infinite options with a discussion of whether I would apply for clerkships, and where. I think that I, like much of the law school herd, will let the decision be made for me. I'll throw together a ton of packets for clerkships targeted at a large number of judges all over the country. And, if, for some reason, I'm blessed with a clerkship, we'll go wherever the hell it takes us. And we'll call it a little mini-adventure. The issue to be decided upfront is where would we be willing to go on the mini-adventure and what is not an adventure and more like torture.

Ideally, while we're hanging out on a mini-adventure, E will apply to schools and assuming admittance somewhere, we'll leave the clerkship just in time for E to start school (ideally back here, but you never know...). This makes practicing law for me contingent upon where E gets into school. E's start date for school is contingent upon whether and where I get a clerkship. The bar trip is contingent upon all of these things and more.

And of course, all this preliminary decision-making is before I've even worked in chambers or done litigation. I may hate chambers or litigation in general.

Cart before the horse a little bit? Almost Always.

But hey, it's better than studying for finals. In fact, it's kind of reminiscent of the LSAT logic games. Which is comforting, since as far as I can tell, those games have nothing else to do with law school.

November 12, 2004

Helpful Hint

Turns out, bacon grease has a flash point of about 450 F.

If you make bacon in the oven (mmmm...) and then take out the roasting pan and put it on the stove to remove the bacon...

Make sure you don't put it on a lit burner.

That is all.

November 8, 2004


A UC Hastings student organization (Hastings Christian Fellowship) is suing the school because the school will not fund them unless they sign the anti-discrimination policy, which states that the organization will not discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, HCF is of the opinion that requiring the group to sign the non-discrimination policy is discrimination.

HCF's complaint is filled with all sorts of interesting blather, including the choice quote on page 5, which states:

A person who engages in homosexual conduct or adheres to the viewpont that homosexual conduct is not sinful would not be permitted to become a member or serve as an HCF officer. A person who may have engaged in homosexual activity in the past but has repented of that conduct, or who has homosexual inclinations but does not engage in or affirm homosexual conduct, would not be prevented from becoming a member or serving as an officer.

A few questions:

1. Really? You think a publicly funded university should give you money and resources so that you can exclude people on the basis of their sexual orientation?

2. San Francisco? You figured the best place to bring this suit (because it's funded by two national christian activist groups) was San Francisco? California?

3. When the hell are you going to serve the school with the complaint? Apparently, Hastings is refraining from public comment until they actually receive the complaint, and although it was filed on October 21, the school hasn't received anything as of yet.

4. If it's that important to your organization to discriminate on the basis of religion and sexual orientation, why not forgo the $230 in funding you would have received had you signed the policy, and ask the national orgs to pony down the legal fees they'd save when you abandon your suit. With that kind of dough, you can hold your meetings in the swankest mason lodge money can rent. I'm sure they'd be happy to let you discriminate.

What's wrong with naked? It's cheap and classic.

(E, on lingerie)

No motivation today. Skipping the workout as I type. Will probably suffer from non-workout sleep issues. Will probably then be tired for tomorrow. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I think my subconscious knows that laziness will cease to be an option some time around next Sunday. I'm not clear on exactly when, but somewhere around 2 weeks before the last day of class my adrenaline levels double and I become this uber-efficient and ridiculous work-a-holic. Whatever works, I guess...

Regardless, the nap I just took, the chocolate shortbread I just ate, and the sitting at the keyboard IN MY WORKOUT CLOTHES will not be an option in the near future.

November 6, 2004

Making the Most of It

In an effort to fully utilize the free weekends I have between the hell that was the first part of this semester and the fun that promises to be finals prep, I went all out this weekend.

Sad part is, I'm writing this on Saturday at 10 PM and will be staying home for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow, my rock star plans are to go for a run and outline for con law.

Regardless, I'm pretty impressed with what E and I pulled off over the last 24 hours or so:

  • Drove to my sister's, picked her up, met up with 5 friends and had a 3 hour Italian dinner. Shut down the restaurant.
  • Rolled to a bar with some of the people who work in the restaurant (one of those weird friend of a friend connections gone bezerk) and closed the bar down.
  • Got back to my car to find that it had been booted. Rad.
  • WALKED with the rolling luggage in tow back to my sister's.
  • Crashed for a few hours, only to be woken by my sister's roommate who had to work at 5 AM (or so it seemed).
  • Inserted Earplugs. (Note, leaving earplugs as a standard item in the luggage is one of the smarter things we've ever done. They've come in handy more times than I can count, often used to drown out drunken snoring of happenstance roommates-for-the-night.)
  • Woke. Showered. W&V showed up and made some random concoction called a red tide. Sounds healthy, no? But, you can't turn down a gift drink, so... we toasted and drank in preparation for the alma mater's football game.
  • Walked to the football game. Hit a few bars, but spent most of the time chasing down friends and trying to orchestrate the madness of too many people, not enough parking, traffic and all else that comes with game day. Had a burrito at a joint that I'd only visited at 2 AM as an undergrad--it wasn't just the alcohol hunger, their food is actually fairly good. Eventually, we found our friends at the game.
  • Screamed and cheered 'til I was hoarse. The team won, but barely. It was a poor, ugly showing, but we'll take the gift win, Lord knows we're due.
  • Walked from the stadium to the parking lot by the bar from Friday, paid the attendant to get the car un-booted. At $60, it was expensive, but not that much more than game-day parking, so no harm, no foul.
  • Headed out to dinner with a different group of 7. Italian, again, different restaurant. Stuffed ourselves silly, again.
  • Drove home. Can't move. Exhausted. Content.

November 3, 2004


The mood at school today was what you would expect for a very blue city in the biggest blue state in the nation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a little skeeved out about fundamentalist religious freaks being appointed to the Supreme Court, and I'm annoyed that Bush doesn't seem to have a basic understanding of economics. But, perhaps I'm used to "losing" elections because when you have a set of values like mine, you don't align with any candidate, ever. Whenever I vote, I'm compromising some of my values at the expense of others. I shudder to think that most people actually endorse EVERY position of the politicians they vote for. Think for yourself, people!

But, truly, the big picture is that the world will keep on spinning and the day-to-day fundamentals of my life are fairly isolated from the president.

This reality seems to have escaped many of my fellow students as evidenced by quotes I actually heard today:

If this keeps up for another four years, there will be a revolution!

I'm going to have to move. I just can't stand to live in this country anymore.

We should just secede.

Are you kidding, if California tries to secede, they'll just blow us to smithereens. You think Falloujah is bad, it's nothing compared to what they'll do to San Francisco!

RIGHT! Of Course! You all sound so reasonable, well-thought out, and intelligent. (Okay, I'll give one to the "I'm going to have to move" dude. If you really need to move, go for it. I've got back-up plans for Australia if this country ever goes completely to shit. But, people, go travel! We are so far from hell, and you have NO idea!)

Honestly, I'm embarassed to have voted for the same candidate as these people. I don't join parties specifically because I'm scared to be associated with their wackos. But, in theory, the law students of a particular party should be some of the better educated and less ridiculous. So much for theory.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned moderation?

November 1, 2004

It's a Hell of a Town

L decided to move back to the bay area. Generally, I'm happy when my friends move so that they are closer to me (truth be told, I'm almost as happy when they move to be farther, but choose a really cool place where I can visit and have a place to stay). But L, he's one of those ridiculously multi-talented freaks. He studied at both the California Culinary Academy as well as MIT. He also happens to be one of those amazingly cool, extremely worldly multi-linguists. All 2 of my readers should know me well enough to realize that anyone with L's qualities is the kind of person BT would really like to hang out with. So, I'm stoked he's moving back.

Anyways, I made plans to meet him for lunch today at one of the tres chic deli/cafe/gardens nestled in the food enclave of Hayes Valley. After morning classes, I crammed my books into my locker and headed out, my arms light without the weight of the multiple bags I've been lugging around lately.

The day was clear, and I walked leisurely, enjoying the view of city hall, the opera, the symphony, and the random hearts (okay, so the hearts annoy me, but it's for a good cause. And they're hearts. So it's not like I can speak ill of them without sounding like an ogre.)

Eventually, I met up with L. We caught up on what had happened to each other as well as our mutual acquaintances, and savored our oh-so-food-capital-of-california sandwiches (panini-grilled sourdough with sage, roasted portobellos and gruyere). From there, we walked a bit and ended up in a french cafe. Somehow, despite feeling caught up, we talked another 30 minutes over coffee and pastries.

I arrived back at school to find that I'd taken a 2.5 hour lunch. It felt like an eternity. I spent time in the city that the tourists come for, the walk, the food, the views--it was amazing. Also, I had conversations that people who aren't in the first semester of 2L have at long lunches with their friends.

It was good to visit. I've got plans to go back just as soon as I finish chemerinsky, my oral argument preparation for ap ad, my outlines...