Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I know that the kiddies aren't exactly beating down the doors to hang out at public libraries, but this might be an over-reaction.

I began my role as an orientation leader for our summer starting class today. I'm not comfortable with the idea that I'm an authority on the law school or any such thing, but at least none of them ran screaming from the session; we do what we can.

Monday, May 30, 2005

I spent many, many hours this weekend with the local (and otherwise) quiz-bowl crew in an exercise known as play-testing. "Play-testing" consists of either simulating games or merely reading outloud question sets, for several purposes:

  • Testing the questions grammar and readability
  • Fact-checking when something sounds fishy
  • Testing for difficulty and age-level appropriateness (i.e.: eliminating the questions about deviant sexual practices and R-rated movies from the high school packets)
  • Making snarky comments about the people who wrote the questions.
Like any good thing, one can have too much play-testing, but the questions themselves can't. So we bit the bullet and did all 21 rounds. The mitigating factors were the snarkiness, the company, and watching all sorts of interesting sports on mute from deep, deep digital cable channels. At one point we learned, for instance, from the crawl on CSTV that something called Limestone College is in the Division III finals in, well, something; we also learned, sadly, that they are the Limestone Saints, not the Limestone Cowboys.

Thanks to the Canadian contingent, we also learned some interesting facts about everyone but DEK's current or future alma mater.

The strangest part of this weekend, though, will actually be next weekend, when we get to read all the same questions to high schoolers from around the country for real. Play-testing plus moderating for real makes for a weekend-long case of deja vu.

Finally, I have to relay this evening's discovery LJ style.....

Current mood: Super-excited that I found my sublettor's Weird Al box set
Current music: King of Suede/Polkas on 45

Thursday, May 26, 2005

No, the law review application didn't kill me; make me stronger? we'll see.

What is making me stronger is that I'm spending a lot of time in the gym, as hoped. One of the strangest things I've noticed is this. In L.A, both at USC and 24-Hour Fitness, they played a lot of the types of music you might expect to hear in a gym--hip-hop and rock, up-tempo, psyche-you-up type music. Here, two of the three gyms play no music at all; it's eerily quiet at times, but you get used to it.

The third gym, the IM Building, does not play music in the cardio rooms, but does in the main weight room. The thing is, they play a soft rock, "best of the '80s/'90/and today with no rap" station--the type you might expect a middle-aged secretary in a bad job to be playing at work. Occasionally it works--Crowded House's "Something So Strong" was strangely apropos--but for the most part you end up with the type of morose songs that make you want to put down the barbells and go sit somewhere and whimper. Within the last week I've heard "In the Air Tonight," "Come to My Window," and "Let Her Cry."

You might think this little story was going somewhere, but no. I just needed to vent. Carry on.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Finished journal applications...no more law school obligations for the summer...up very very very late doing so last night...watched another "are you from Neptune?" movie (Jaws)...played super dweeby bar trivia (hey, you got your Star in my Wars)...will sleep the sleep of the just...very very soon...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Just before leaving for the summer my roommate (well, now ex-roommate) asked me what I wanted to accomplish this summer. At the time I didn't have an answer beyond a flippant, "sleep 12 hours a day and watch a lot of movies." But I'm glad he asked the question, because it got the thought in my head that I should try to accomplish something meaningful this summer, even as I try to decompress from a busy year and prepare for a busier one. So today I decided.

25 pounds.

That's right, by the end of the summer I want to weigh 25 pounds. No no, 25 pounds less, that's it.

It's an ambitious goal, but the last time I had a really strong run in the gym, I lost 21 pounds from Labor Day to Thanksgiving 2003. There's no reason I can't duplicate it.

I haven't lost any pounds so far this summer, but I have been to the gym 8 of the past 9 days, and I know I'm starting to make progress because I noticed today that I'm starting to have biceps again. So that means I've exchanged at least a little bit of fat back into muscle. This is important, especially because the winter semester was bad for me; after the first month, I never made it back to the gym at all.

My final result for 1L year? I broke exactly even; I lost 10 pounds in the first month, and then spent the rest of the school year putting it back on. Considering the availability of buffet-style food all year, that's OK. But now it's time to get back to work...

He forgot about the super-annoying Sprint "one minute, two minute" lady, and he may be over the top a little bit with the baby thing, but this guy is the most compelling anti-dime advocate I've ever come across. OK, yeah, and the first.

On an only slightly less strange note, the best title to ever come up on my Launchcast station has to be I'm Downright Amazed at What I Can Destroy with Just a Hammer. The same guy has a charming little ditty arguing against the appropriateness of Native American sports nicknames, entitled If You Own the Washington Redskins, You're a Cock. And finally, the best song I've ever heard containing the word dekaliter: (Lord, It's Hard to Be Happy When You're Not) Using the Metric System.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

My law review and other journal applications are due on Monday, and then I'm actually, truly, honest-to-God finished with law school until the fall. Motivation is flagging in a big way. The law review application is an 8-page closed memo, meaning it's a self-contained assignment with outside research not required (in fact, forbidden). Well, 8 pages of text plus up to 7 pages of endnotes. That proportion should give some sense of the anal attention to detail required to complete the damn thing. I really want law review on my resume. On the other hand, I don't really want to do law review, and I sure as hell don't want to write this damn application right now. But, you know, I'm weak, so at some point panic will set in and I'll really get to work. (I should say that I have done a decent chunk of work, reading and highlighting the packet, and creating a bluebooked list of source citations. But still.)

In happier news, I had that experience last night where I watched a really good movie and wanted to talk about it with people, but it was one of those where the only possible reaction you would get from saying "I just watched x" would be: "Omigod, you'd never seen x? Are you from Neptune? Have you been there since two weeks ago Wednesday?" However, this is my blog, so I can just come out and say it--The Shawshank Redemption turns out to be as good as advertised, and from now on I'll remember that The Sports Guy isn't talking about some damn hockey player I've never heard of when he references Andy Dufresne.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I've been updating my Yahoo homepage lately, finding some cool new sites, several of which have shown up in my blogroll as well. Today's cool find is Drawn, which deals with all things animated, sketched, or otherwise, well, drawn. Some of the artists linked to are very cool, but my favorite link so far is the History of Pop-Up Books.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I went comment recommendations for 9 out of 10 of my free iTunes, and it would've been 10 if I hadn't been listening to the doo-wop station on Launchcast and realized it was absurd that I don't own a copy of "Heartaches" by The Marcels. So now I do. As for the others:

1. Don't Drop the Baby, The Judybats: As promised, it's an amusing little ditty. I know I've heard of this band, and I want to say that it was about 12 years ago when I did. But I'm not sure why.

2. Science vs. Romance, Rilo Kiley: Possibly my favorite of the recommendations. It seems as though they have ties to The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie, so I'm not surprised I like them.

3. Bitches Ain't Shit, Ben Folds: I have nothing to add here.

4. Devils and Dust, Bruce Springsteen: Apparently every album is Nebraska now for Springsteen, and the fun, pop side has largely gone away. I'm fine with that, I like both, but the dark side is probably The Boss's truer side.

5. Charm Attack, Leona Naess: This is a soulful song that reminds me of the best of Sheryl Crow, with a little bit of an '80s pop melody.

6. Under The Sun, Big Kenny: I really like Space's "Spiders" album (best known for "Female of the Species"), and this is a slightly countrified version of the music on it.

7. Crystal Frontier, Calexico: For anyone whose favorite band is Flogging Molly, it's hard to argue with ethnic sound mixed into American rock. Here it's a Mexican sound with horns and Latin guitar. I'm not into Latin-sounding music generally, but the Arizona-Mex-ish thing works for me here, just like it does for me with The Refreshments.

8. Rhapsody, Alejandro Escovedo: This is a slightly twangier sound from the Wilco and Uncle Tupelo songs I like. I didn't love it on the first listen, but it's growing on me.

9. The Lonely, British Sea Power: Solid alterna-pop song, with a Casio keyboard serving the 51-card deck role from "Flowers on the Wall".

All in all, its a really nice set of songs that more than fulfilled my goal of finding interesting new music (or new to me, anyway).

On the movie front, Mr. Nacho recently completed the AFI Top 100, and in the process reminded me that regardless of what you think about the project, it's a great reminder list for finding old movies to watch. So in the last several days, I've knocked off Shane and The Best Years of Our Lives. They're both deserving classics; I'm tempted to call the latter The Best Decades of Our Lives because it just goes on and on and on, but it does a thorough job of telling the stories of three different veterans adjusting to post-war life. I was surprised by how dark it was at times, and by the ending, which seemed to suggest a divorced man getting re-hitched to someone else, which I thought was strictly verbotten under the Hays Code. I could name any number of Westerns I like better than Shane, but they're mostly the later era of revisionist anti-Westerns (starting with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and then later films like The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). I haven't seen many straightforward Westerns, but Shane is a solid one.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Joe's tips for making chicken stir-fry in your new sublet:

  1. You should probably just go ahead and take the battery out of the smoke detector in advance. And open all the doors and windows.
  2. I know it's been a while since you've cooked for yourself, but don't forget to boil the chicken first. Dumbass.
  3. Brummel & Brown is a tremendous product; it is not, however, a great substitute for cooking oil.
  4. Cutting the still-frozen chicken while it's frying may not lead to real burns, but it does lead to a lot of temporary ouchiness once the Brummel & Brown starts flying.
  5. I really can't emphasize enough the importance of checking to make sure that some sort of spatula is among the utensils the apartment's regular tenants left behind.
  6. Hot sauce is a nice addition to your Big Ten Burrito, but the side of chips may be a little much.

If I actually get a high-paying job out of law school like I'm hoping, I'm going to need a money manager and a significant other in a hurry; otherwise, I'll be buying a lot of stuff like this and hanging it all over my walls.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

So, I'm not sure how much I've talked about what my summer looks like; rather than look back and see, I'll just put it out there and if it's repetitive, feel free to skip.

Depending on how you count, I have anywhere from 2 to 4 jobs this summer. I'm working in the Law Library as a research assistant, working at the Law Library reference desk, and working for a professor as a research assistant. I'm also managing the apartment building where I'm subletting; that's not a job in the sense of getting paid, but I am getting a nice rent break. No doubt there will stories there, some of which I may even be able to tell.

Today, though, it's more about the law library jobs. I finished my training today. Some of the training involved watching old videotapes and listening to old audiotapes, and then answering quizzes that looked like this:

1. A patron comes up to you at the desk and has questions. Which of the following best describes how you should react?
a. Continue playing on the Internet, and make it clear that they are putting you out.
b. Punch them in the face; that'll teach 'em!
c. Answer their questions courteously.
d. Fake a stroke.

2. Your shift is over but your replacement hasn't shown up. What should you do?
a. Call them, and if you can't reach them or they aren't going to show up call around for a sub; if no one is available, you'l have to take the shift yourself.
b. Immediately put up the sign indicating that someone will be back shortly; set several small fires on your way out out of spite.
c. Pull the fire alarm, grab your stuff and run; explain later that you had no way of knowing your successor hadn't shown up.
d. Fake a stroke.

In addition to taking the quizzes, I got to wander around deep in the closed stacks on the new employee tour. You know you're deep in the stacks when you find such crucial resources as Mauritius Supreme Court decisions. (And before you ask, no, this was not nearby; Mauritius materials are stacked in the British Commonwealth area.)

Finally, while on the tour today I came across this book, which was very jarring. The reason? When I was considering grad schools in 1998, my decision came down to Delaware or USC. Had I gone to Delaware, Gary May (the author, if you didn't follow the link) would have been my advisor. I've often wondered if I would have ended up at Delaware if it had been raining the day I visited USC and sunny when I visited Newark, instead of vice versa. Who knows. But for an instant it was a brief glimpse into the alternate history of Joe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

If you've ever thought, hmmm...I wonder what Brad Hall and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss are thinking right now? And Walter Cronkite, John Cusack, Jerry Brown, Quincy Jones, Jim Lampley, and Gary Hart too. Well, wonder no further.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Moving into a fifth-story walk-up was possibly the worst experience of my life. Moving out today wasn't quite so bad--top 20 at worst. Nothing fun about it. However, unlike my last three moves, each of which involved about a 2500-mile trek, today's move checks in at a strong 0.1 miles. The biggest benefit: the possibility of making multiple trips. That, plus moving out, moving in, and getting the first big grocery shopping trip out of the way all in one day, with blogging and basketball playoff time to spare. On the other hand, my feet and back are not speaking to me--ok, actually they are, and it's mostly swearing.

Thursday was a remarkable day. I was dreading the exam format, which was a whole bunch of mid-length questions, but it actually got me in a nice little zone where I spent the appropriate amount of time per question, and it disguised the fact that the breadth of my Con Law knowledge kicked the shit out of the depth.

Post-exam, I managed to get sloppy drunk, take a 2.5-hour nap, get hungover, and get very drunk a second time. Have I mentioned that law school is a hard-drinking culture? And never moreso than the the last day of finals.

Friday was a lost day, but lost days are great when you have the time to have them. I did find out that I got into Secured Transactions and First Amendment, as well as Enterprise Organizations and Taxation of Individuals. Of the latter two I will keep one and drop one; the keeping and dropping will be contingent on whether or not I can transfer into the other section of EO, giving me the dreamed of "8:45-12:15 and that's it" schedule. Let's just say I'll be checking add/drop early and often for a vacancy.

Oh, and thanks to Lexis-Nexis reward points, I have 10 free song downloads from iTunes. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I typed "Schoolhouse Rock bill" into a Google image search in order to come up with occasion-appropriate Con Law wallpaper for tomorrow's exam, and of course the second screen includes a picture of someone I know, who is not named Bill. I had no idea what to do with this, besides share. And no, Mark will not be gracing my computer screen for the exam. This Bill will.

Monday, May 02, 2005

So this morning I was trying to psyche myself up for Torts, and I started in my room, listening to some Final Countdown. (Yes, I have been watching Arrested Development; save our Bluths!)

On the way over to breakfast and the exam, I was trying to come up with torts-appropriate music. I was having a surprisingly hard time. My roommate suggested "In The Air Tonight," which I learned from "Stan" of course was all about no affirmative duty to rescue. I couldn't do any better than that. I got to the room early, put on my headphones, and went to work in Windows Media Player, looking for any appropriate song I could find. Ultimately I only found one that was directly on-point: The Refreshments' "Suckerpunch".

I did, however, notice that while I didn't have many songs that were tortious in and of themselves, I found a number of songs that could easily lead to tortious situations:

  • Indian Giver, 1910 Fruitgum Company
  • Drive My Car, The Beatles
  • Brick, Ben Folds Five
  • A Matter of Trust, Billy Joel
  • I Go To Extremes, Billy Joel
  • Going Away to College, blink-182
  • Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
  • My Best Friend's Girl, The Cars
  • Sparks, Coldplay
  • Screaming Infidelities, Dashboard Confessional
  • Blasphemous Rumours, Depeche Mode
  • In The Ghetto, Elvis Presley
  • This Fire, Franz Ferdinand
  • Bizarre Love Triangle, Frente
  • Every Time Two Fools Collide, Kenny Rogers
  • Shitloads of Money, Liz Phair
  • I'll Go Down Swinging, Exene Cervenka w/ Los Straitjackets
  • Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are, Meatloaf
  • Come Out and Play, The Offspring
  • Jagged, Old 97s
  • Such Great Heights, Iron and Wine/Postal Service
  • Someone Take the Wheel, The Replacements
  • Bales of Cocaine, Reverend Horton Heat
  • Wild Weekend, Rockin' Rebels
  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Bryan Ferry
  • Runaway Trian, Soul Asylum
  • Somebody to Shove, Soul Asylum
  • Six Months In a Leaky Boat, Split Enz
  • Gun, Uncle Tupelo
  • Hitchin' A Ride, Vanity Fare
  • Hey Little Cobra, The Rip Chords
  • Ballroom Blitz, Sweet

    and of course...
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money, Warren Zevon