February 26, 2005

The Trial

Last week, my trial was on (hence the lack of posting). In my judge's chambers, each extern gets a trial to sit through and basically, acts as the clerk for that particular trial. Man, clerking is the best job on the planet. (Okay, perhaps being a judge is cooler, but still..)

My trial was educational and even (according to the low, low standard of entertainment in court) amusing. Highlights included:

--the woman who hypothesized that the reason she was stricken from a previous jury was that she was asked if she would have a problem with the fact that the defendant needed an interpreter and didn't speak English and she said, "well, yes, of course I would have a problem with that." (Really? You think they challenged you because of that little old thing?)

--the man who discussed the hit-and-run car accident he witnessed in excruciating detail in response to the question, "have you ever been involved in a crime that was prosecuted." Punchline? they never caught the guy. But, thanks for sharing.

--the woman who got snippity with the judge asking her if she was biased who finally said, "well, I'm an old hippy from new york. Do you think I'm going to be biased against the government?"

--In response to "do you have any religious or philosophical beliefs that would keep you from being able to decide who was lying and who was telling the truth?" the woman who said, "it makes me physically ill to think about being on a jury. I just keep telling myself, 'don't throw up, just don't throw up.'"

--the PLAINTIFF randomly interrupting the court, saying, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but..." (he was shushed by his lawyer at the judge's suggestion.)

--the PLAINTIFF frustratedly gesticulating and arguing with his counsel in whispers about whatever it was he wanted to discuss with the court.

--the PLAINTIFF rushing out of the courtroom without explanation.

--Plaintiff's counsel apologizing to the court saying, "I don't believe my client took care of his, uh, *needs* before we commenced."

--PLAINTIFF's much-awaited return 90 seconds later, when he rushed back into the court, paper towel in hand and grin on his face. Better yet was when he said, "Sorry Court," and sat down.

--PLAINTIFF's witness who testified that he knew plaintiff because he was friends with plaintiff's son's brother. (Huh?)

--Defendant's counsel making the analogy between a correctional detention facility and summer camp.

--Plaintiff's counsel getting down on his knees, shakespeare-style, during closing arguments.

February 23, 2005

Little Help?

I know nothing about Puerto Rico. There's a chance we may go on vacation there. Generally, I try to read a book or two written by a native author before or during my trip to a new place. For Puerto Rico, there doesn't seem to be a go-to history or work of fiction that makes people say, "if you have to read one book, it should be this one." I suspect my lack of Spanish googlefoo is holding me back, but then again, if it's not at a 4th grade level, I can't read it in Spanish anyways, so perhaps I'm not missing out.

Any suggestions?
Tell us how you really feel

The judge introduced me to my new favorite insult today: Oleaginous. (Thankfully, it was not used in reference to me.)

There are many listed definitions, but I point with glee to my favorite:

adj 1: unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech; "buttery praise"; "gave him a fulsome introduction"; "an oily sycophantic press agent"; "oleaginous hypocrisy"; "smarmy self-importance"; "the unctuous Uriah Heep" [syn: buttery, fulsome, oily, smarmy, unctuous] 2: containing an unusual amount of grease or oil; "greasy hamburgers"; "oily fried potatoes"; "oleaginous seeds" [syn: greasy, oily, sebaceous]

Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

February 21, 2005

A six pound good deed

My sister and I drove to San Luis Obispo this weekend to go visit our grandparents. They are getting on in age and the family had made it clear that the grandchildren (and, in particular the grandchildren with children, which thankfully leaves me out of the double guilt dosage) needed to start making efforts to visit, not efforts to explain why they hadn't visited.

This time of year, when it's storming, central California looks like Hawaii: the hills are deep spring green, it's raining, windy, and there are rainbows every day. After 3 hours of driving through the gorgeous views, we pulled into the budget motel I'd picked out (the grandparents are too old to be hosting guests but not too old to think they aren't and be insulted if you say no, so you have to check in BEFORE you show up at their place).

Although I hadn't recognized it on the web, on person I had a flash of recognition and said, "Hey, sis, I've got a question?..."

"Yes." She immediately responded with conviction and pulled out of the parking lot.

Turns out, the cheap motel was the place our grandparents had been pointing out to us since we were quite young. Every time, they'd point and tell us the story of the young girl who was murdered in her room one night and they never caught the killer.

Right. So, we found a different motel. Then we headed to gran's house, in town, where we were asked, "Do you want a steak or a fish dinner?" How great is that? When I've got guests, the question is usually something much more ridiculous and stupid like, "What types of ethnic foods do you prefer? Any food allergies? Special diet? How long do you want the meal to go? How hungry are you? How important to you is the value of the food? Music? Size of the restaurant?" But, nope. Not Papa. When fish was decided, gran and papa had my sister drive to Morro Bay so we could eat at Dorn's Cafe. This was convenient because Chris Dorn, the manager, was somehow involved in the superbowl betting pool that my papa and all the other local farmers belong to. Business/Pleasure. Whatever. The food was excellent, the ambiance and views were gorgeous, and I couldn't have done a better job with my 20 questions method of selecting restaurants. Never hurts to have the manager greet your grandfather by name and escort you to the table, either.

Gran and Papa were determined to show my sister and me a good time. They ordered a bottle of Talley Chardonnay, sauteed mushrooms and steamed clams for appetizers. Both appetizers were excellent, but by the time we were done, I had no room for more food (and I'd run 11 miles that morning, if that gives you any idea of the size and richness of these appetizers). Laughably, I still had a salad and my main course of halibut with rice pilaf and green beans on the way. So, I did my best to eat those and watched in shock as Papa put away a bowl of clam chowder, and a large calamari steak. Gran slowed down after the clam chowder, but I would have too if I was allowed to do so! My sister and I laughed as papa continued to put away food, clearing his green beans and asking gran why she wasn't eating her calamari steak, which he repeatedly refered to as "magnificent" or "perfect" and kissed his fingers. Of course, he kept turning off his hearing aid closest to gran so he couldn't hear her, she'd have to yell, he'd roll his eyes at us, she'd roll her eyes at us, and well--it was the usual adorable stuff.

The best part of the whole weekend? This morning, when we showed up for brunch, Papa informed us that he'd gained 6 pounds between breakfast on Sunday and Monday morning. When you're old and you've lost a lot of weight, it's a good thing to put a little back on. My sister and I were VERY proud. Now if only we could figure out how to do it without matching him him pound for pound...

February 20, 2005


As far as I'm aware, I have little to no stress in my life right now. I'm in ONE, (count it, one) class, and I've got a bad habit of not doing the reading without any guilt. Work for the judge is interesting but not overwhelming. And Monday is a holiday.

So what's with the random insomnia?
Friday night, we had friends over for dinner and stayed up talking, playing video games, etc. 'til 3:30 AM. Unplanned, but a blast. Unfortunately, because of the early wake-up for the judge, I couldn't sleep in.

So, a few short hours ago, E & I crawled into bed after K's birthday dinner and fell into blissful, much-needed sleep.

Now, I'm up, completely awake, and exhausted. What the hell?

February 15, 2005

Some General Comments

Running anything more than 2.5 miles on a treadmill vaults me into a frame of reference where time dilation is damn high. Clearly, the explanation is that I'm running at near-light speeds... (Horrible. Geek joke. I'm sorry. No really, I am.) Stupid rain, means I can't run outside.

Two cases on my desk (with a big ugly social security edit to come back any day now and raise the total to three, no doubt). Both are big, dense, detailed patent disputes. I'm content and the clerks are celebrating the approach of the holiday known as handing-off-of-trash-to-the-extern-who's-been-here-enough-weeks-to-have-half-a-clue. presidents' day. Everyone wins.

E's P2 450 appears to be going the way of Renquist--all signs indicate that we may have to replace it, but we're reverent of its previous service and we don't want to talk about the approaching doom in front of the poor thing.

And finally, I filed my FAFSA last night in time for today's deadline so I didn't make the stupid mistake of last year, so, in prep, I finished my taxes. Or, I thought my taxes were done, but todays' emails from both the feds and the state inform me that my returns have been rejected. Apparently, when they ask for your "Adjusted Gross Income" from the prior year to authenticate your filing, they actually mean "what you originally claimed as your AGI before you received the 3 months late W-2 from that bankrupt good-for-nothing company you worked for" (i.e. before the amendment to your AGI, or not your 'actual' AGI, just the number you originally 'thought' was your AGI). Or, at least, I hope that's what they meant, because I'm running out of numbers to feed them.

February 13, 2005

Il Fine Settimana di San Valentino--A food and wine tour

Tomorrow, E and I will probably do little-to-nothing special. But, this weekend was perfect, so we're happy to rest at home and do nothing.

We started by having friends over for dinner and stuffing ourselves full of frozen-and-baked-but-just-as-good-as-fresh elk bolognese, spinach salad with Wisconsin feta, red onions, orange tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette, freshly baked bread, wine, and dessert of cantucci in melted guittard french-vanilla chocolate. (Have I mentioned how much I enjoy cooking instead of studying on the weekends?)

Saturday, we slept in (scheduled rest day on the race training!) and then took off on the gorgeous drive to Amador County. Because it was February, the hills were a kermit green instead of the "golden" brown of the majority of the year. The weather was obviously confused, however, because it was warm, sunny, and clear. E commented that the windmills on the Altamont pass are often used in cheesy commercials selling the "future" and are a well-known Californian landmark. I had no idea, I'd been seeing them on road trips since my childhood. Given the green hills and blue sky, they were striking and gorgeous this trip, as opposed to the typical view they provide, which is merely interesting.

Finally, after a couple of hours of driving, we hit our first stop in Ione (a town we'd never visited on previous trips) Clos du Lac. They had a good table red for a reasonable price, a great petit verdot, a few other decent wine offerings, a five course food pairing, recipes for several of the courses, and, of course a gorgeous view of highway 88 and the hills it cuts a swath through.

After relaxing, eating each of the five mini-courses, and picking up a few bottles, we headed to our second stop in the bustling metropolis of Ione (pronounced "I own"), Nua Dair. Or rather, we tried to go to Nua Dair. We actually took a wrong turn and ended up driving past the Ione prison (contributing roughly 70% of the total population to the town) and juvenile detention facility (which looked like a really expensive boarding school). Eventually, we found Nua Dair and were greeted with enthusiasm. We were the only visitors at the time. A bus of 60 had passed by earlier, but thankfully we missed them. Nua Dair's food was good, the wine was decent, but the people--I love people who make wine as a vanity project. The owner told me he was a CPA and that it worked nicely because tax season is exactly the opposite of wine season. Immediately, my brain started spinning with plans of switching to the tax concentration and living a half-lawyer, half-winemaker life. Needless to say, E quickly pulled me out of there.

Stop 3: Bray Vineyards. Good syrah. Great U.S. senate soup. AMAZING olive oil from the French Creek Olive Oil Company (916-454-8570). Conveniently, we had almost run out of our favorite drizzling oil. French Creek had three different bottlings on sale, and each one could hold its own against Zampa without a problem--oh, but they are half the price, in prettier bottles, and made by local producers. We came home with too much olive oil, but I'm sure it'll make excellent gifts and food.

After wine-tasting, we were ready to relax, so we headed to the Wedgewood Inn for our sleeping quarters. It was quaint and full of goo-gahs, trinkets, doilees, antiques, etc. It was nice. I'm sure it was much more nice than I can appreciate. I felt how I'm sure others feel with me when I'm appreciating wine or food. I would have been just as happy in a spartan, clean, modern room with 1/10 the decoration. To each his own, I suppose. The owners, of course, were adorable and quirky, as was the dog, Wags. There's a reason why the focus in B&B is on the "bed" and the "breakfast" equally. The bed--I am not equipped to fully appreciate it (although, it served its purpose quite well, but it was wooden and full of carvings that looked old...I'm sure that's something worth appreciating to someone, to me, it was comfortable). But the breakfast--fresh squeezed orange juice, cheese blintzes in blueberry sauce, fruit in blueberry yogurt, bran muffin, and sausage--what do you think?

Today was more of the same. We hit Drytown Cellars for the screw cap demonstration. It was fun to see the bottles pass through the bottling line from start to finish. They ran the machinery so you could see the vacuum filler do its work (FAST!) as well as the capper, foiler, and labeler. I am now the proud owner of drytown cellars water in a screw top bottle. It's one of my favorite acquisitions of the trip. Drytown's wines are very reasonably priced and well-made. We picked up some every-day drinking bottles as well as some barbera futures for what was in the barrel and should be bottled this June.

We tried TKC winery and verified that like its neighbors on bell road, we're just not fans of anything they make. Wine is personal, so by all means, you should go see for yourself, but for us, there's just no need to go down that road.

Oddly enough, Dickson Road, the next road off of Shenandoah Road if you're coming south from Bell Road is home to three of our favorites: Vino Noceto, Domaine de la Terre Rouge, and newly discovered this trip, Serenidad. Serenidad is obviously a vanity project, the tasting room is in the garage in front of what appears to be their home. The only reason we found it this trip was because they'd posted two young boys with a sign pointing the way outside of Terre Rouge. We were happy they did though since they had a very enjoyable blended table red for $9 as well as a light pineapple and honey sauvignon blanc for $9.

To break up the drive home, we met up with some friends in Alameda (they got wine as a house-warming present) and enjoyed dinner at one of the greatest sushi restaurants in the bay area, Kamakura.

Alas, it was all so very wonderful, San Valentino, but now it's time to do taxes, the FAFSA and Finaid application. So, yeah, that's why we'll be doing nothing of note tomorrow. Happy valentines day to all of y'all.

February 10, 2005

Good News, Bad News

So, the good news is: ONE OF THE ORDERS I WROTE WAS PUBLISHED!!! I'm suffering from serious geek happiness right now. Something I wrote (which was accepted with very few edits, much unlike the majority of the orders I've submitted), is now available on lexis, westlaw, and will be available in books in legal libraries. Wow. That's cool. Of course, it's this arcane, ridiculous subset of law that needed a published case because it hadn't been addressed before, so you can imagine how out-of-the-norm it was. I don't care. I'm still ridiculously excited.

Bad News: I met with the professor who gave me the crap grade. I explained how I mis-read her exam instructions and how my answer makes perfect sense if you follow my interpretation of the instructions. Unfortunately, including me, 2.4% of all students who took the exam went with my interpretation. I don't exactly have "this is a popular interpretation" as an argument on my side. The professor apologized, explained that she didn't feel she could do anything with my grade and offered to write me a letter of recommendation to explain that the grade is not indicative of my understanding of the subject matter (since I did much better on the other questions, and she knows me from office hours).

Obviously, I didn't turn down her offer of a letter. I explained that I wanted to clerk and was concerned about the grade, since it doesn't exactly look like it belongs on the transcript of a federal clerk. She told me to keep my hopes up. I'm wary though.

My clerk's comment today didn't help. He read my exam instructions and agreed that I had a decent argument (not the strongest argument, of course, but a decent one). When I returned from my meeting, he asked me how it went. I explained that my grade would not be changed, but that the professor would write me a letter. The clerk said, "That sucks. It shows that she doesn't understand how the process works. They put you into the 'No' or 'Yes' pile long before they read your letters. I'm sorry." His tone of voice was very sympathetic. Perhaps that was the most impressive thing of the whole exchange. This clerk thinks I'm being screwed. And he's off to the Supremes next year.

Oh well. Such is life. At least lexis and my clerk think I'm smart. And, as I said before, I'm not scheduled for sentencing on the criminal calendar. In the grand scheme of things, I've got no problems.

I've also probably got no reason not to take off for a week and go to Italy during the school year of 3L. Sometimes the silver lining rocks.

February 8, 2005

The honesty fairy

Most of my favorite bloggers are very open with the details of their lives on their blogs.

Not me--I usually prefer to keep important stuff to myself until I figure out who I can trust it to. I think this isn't a common personality trait amongst the this-is-what-I-had-for-breakfast-today blog crowd (as opposed to the comedians or the pundits). And as much as I might prefer otherwise, I fall more into the excrutiating detail category than the other two.

So, in awe of my betters, I thought I'd point you all to transmogriflaw's discussion of Post Partum Anxiety (who knew?), which was inspired by Energy Spatula's arresting post about body image, and the amazing power that it holds over women. If a kick-ass female like ES has issues, then I stand by my long-held belief that all women have body issues of some sort. Some just hide it better than others. Perhaps a quick kick to the teeth is needed. Girls, think about employing the boot the next time an insensitive would-be complimenter says, "Oh, you look so great. Have you lost weight?"

Thankfully, I don't have any read-worthy issues that I'm aware of at the moment (ahhh... repression, it's a fabulous thing). So, I'll just say thanks to those of you who are brave enough to share yours and wish you the best.

February 7, 2005


I'm unbelievably busy these days. Work for the judge keeps me entertained--time flies each day and before I know it it's time to leave and run or be social or (god forbid) take care of annoying journal commitments. Speaking of which, I ran 31.54 miles last week as part of my half-marathon training schedule and I'm damn proud, if I do say so myself.

Anyways, I spent last weekend in LA visiting friends, so I did 10 of my miles at the friendship run. Damn kids--they are fast! It made me speed up though, so I can't complain. Note to all of you in relationships: if you hit a point where you're annoyed or fighting for some unexplained reason, sometimes a weekend apart is the answer. Nothing like sleeping alone to remind you how great you've got it and what you should show your appreciation for.

Other than that, there's not much to report. Except (1) my brother's dog is due to have her puppies any day (now that's cool) and (2) I managed to completely misunderstand the legal proposition in a case I cited in a memo today (thank goodness my work goes to clerks first...)