Wednesday, August 31, 2005

school is cool...

this afternoon i had my first meeting of my race, racism, and american law seminar. i sat there in the room like a kid on christmas eve! this class is going to be amazing!

the course is being team-taught by professors richard delgado and jean stefancic. not only are they incredibly renowned critical race theory scholars, but they're brilliant and personable and kind and married. delgado is my faculty advisor and i've been nothing but impressed with him from the get-go. if this class goes as well as i hope, i think i might ask delgado and stefancic if they'll adopt me.

and i found out today that on the day before my birthday, derrick bell (pitt law grad extraordinaire, former harvard law prof, current NYU law prof, and a true giant in the critical race theory movement) is going to be lecturing at the law school. that's 2:30 p.m. in the law school courtroom on september 16th. mark your calendars!


by some stroke of good luck, i managed to get through to my dad just now on his cell phone. they're all doing okay, they've got food and water, and a small generator to keep the refrigerator functioning. he said they're sleeping on the front porch, where there's a nice breeze at night, and apparently they're "smelling like a football team", but no one is hurt.

my grandmother is staying with them. she had weathered the storm at my aunt's house, but they were flooded out (about 5 feet of water in the house) and she told me they all (grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins) had to swim down the street to get to an area that was above the water line. but at least everyone is okay.

i know that everyone is fine and that there's nothing i can do to help, but it was very good to hear my dad's and grandmother's voices, especially since the cell phone circuits have been maddeningly unavailable in the past few days. in times like these, the need to simply be in contact is so strong.

i feel incredibly fortunate that my family are all okay. and incredibly incredibly fortunate that my dad's house is all in one piece. dad told me about friends of our family whose homes have been completely destroyed. he said the city is an absolute disaster. they waited at the fairgrounds today for several hours to get fresh water and it sounded like some of the folks who were also waiting in line are not exactly handling this gracefully.

the repercussions from this storm are only beginning to be apparent. the casino industry in harrison county, mississippi (home of biloxi and gulfport) employs about 15,000 people. those 15,000 people are now unemployed -- the casinos (which are all built on barges along the coastline) were destroyed by the storm. additionally, the casinos are (were?) major contributors to the mississippi gulf coast economy. the reach of this storm has spread from west of new orleans all the way to mobile (alabama); these are highly traveled, well-populated areas that generate a great deal of economic activity for their respective states. the folks in new orleans have all been evacuated and it's rumored that it will be 12-16 weeks before they will be able to come back to the city. my dad's got tons of unused vacation time, so he's not worried about loss of income, but for thousands and thousands of folks who have been affected by katrina, there will be no ability to meet their expenses without some sort of public or private aid.

and as far as the national economy goes, 25% of the U.S. oil supply comes from the texas/louisiana/mississippi coast. the impact from this kind of destruction is going to be long and loud. now, more than ever, i'm glad i don't own a car.

my dad told me that he had thought hurricane camille (in 1969) was the worst storm he would ever see, but now katrina holds that title.

things can change so quickly. count your blessings.

train wreck...

i can't stop looking at pictures from hurricane katrina -- pictures of places i know and know well. i've read the coverage in the post, the times, CNN, NPR, even the BBC. the images are terrifying and the articles are worse.

the sun herald, the biloxi (for you yankees, it's pronounced "bil-UHKS-ee")/gulfport newspaper, is full of stories about the damage done, the deaths, the families who've lost homes and loved ones, the economic repercussions, the resources that will be required to bring things back to normal. rescue efforts are afoot, found corpses left lying on the side of the road until survivors can be found.

it's absolutely horrible.

...picures of new orleans and biloxi and gulfport and other coastal towns submerged in floodwaters...historical landmarks obliterated...neighborhoods and businesses decimated...bridges reduced to rows of unusable pylons...streets rendered unusable because of debris...the casinos on the coast of harrison county (mississippi) have been all but vaporized...

i can't imagine what katrina's victims must be going through. i can't believe that only a few days ago i was foolishly declaring my love for hurricanes and my reckless desire to be on the gulf coast to experience this storm's wrath.

i haven't talked to my dad today. every time i try to call him (or anyone in the 228 and 601 area codes), i get a manic beep beeping, indicating that all circuits are either overloaded or inoperational. my brother called me this evening. he's a wreck, going stir crazy in his arkansas hotel room with his girlfriend's family, wants to be home but doesn't know what he'll be going home to.

sheesh... and there's nothing i can do...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


i'm beginning to think there's something wrong with me. i don't even have _that_ much reading to do for tomorrow, yet i can't seem to sit still and get it all done.

instead, i'm thinking about oolong the bunny.

in the wake...

the post-gazette has a photo gallery of katrina's aftermath. several of them are of pascagoula. this one in particular absolutely broke my heart:

(this house is on beach boulevard, the stretch of road along the pascagoula beach.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

carrie bradshaw i am not...

...i debated as to whether i wanted to post something about this, but i've decided that it's my blog and i can do what i want with it. it is risky, though, as there's a brilliant stalker tool out there called google, which makes this blog pretty easily findable for anyone with a little bit of time and some interest. with this in mind, i won't name names (except for those whose names have already been named in this blog), for whom it's too late anyway. but here goes...

this summer i delved a bit into the world of internet personal ads. it seemed like a decent experiment in trying to meet people who aren't law students, and it has, for the most part, been successful in that i've met some cool people, made a couple of good friends as a result, guys who, for whatever reason, weren't right for relationships (too bad for them), but whom i'm glad to have had occasion to know.

but last night i had a bad date. a really awkward date. i've had worse dates, but this one was uncomfortable and from the moment i opened the door when he came to pick me up i knew that it was not going to work out. not that what i want right now is someone who will "work out" in the long-term sense. i just kinda want to be in a relationship. there. i've admitted it. i want to take the ferry to boyfriend island (the commuter ferry, of course -- there's nothing more annoying than a girl who visits boyfriend island and forgets/neglects her life on the mainland). and i don't feel like my life is missing anything because i'm single -- that's definitely not what i'm saying. it would just be nice to have somebody around.

i'm not good at dating. maybe i'm too picky. maybe i'm too impatient. maybe i'm just like my mother -- she's never satisfied. (ugh, that last one was a bad joke.) i've never been one to recreationally date, and i really only have a peripheral interest in it now. but there's really nothing better than the early phase of relationships, the "consumption phase", as my lesbian hair stylist in philadelphia once referred to it -- the time when you're all giddy and lightheaded and you want to take in as much about your significant other as possible, i.e., "consume", all the time.

i want that. i haven't had that since my early days with stean. i knew right away with stean, too, before our first date, even. he and i had this amazing first kiss -- my favorite first kiss. it was the perfect mixture of hesitation and anticipation and determination and weak-kneed euphoria. and it was in the rain. at christmastime. and the first time he told me he loved me? it came out almost like an accident, as we were on our way home after being out with some of his friends from work. i didn't believe him -- i chalked it up to the beers. but the next day we were in new york city visiting a college friend of mine, and we went to the museum of modern art (which i absolutely adore), and standing in the middle of one of the galleries, he stopped me, looked me in the eyes, and told me again that he loved me. that moment appears like a snapshot in my mind, as if my heart stopped for just a second so that it could preserve the memory, keep it like a souvenir, before moving on.

god, i miss stuff like that.

i wonder, are my standards too high? am i hung up on the idea of somebody who's part david foster wallace, part tobey maguire, part stephen malkmus? i mean, all i want is a guy who is intelligent and well-spoken, who's unrelentingly funny and witty but who knows when to be serious, who doesn't waste his energy on things he can't control and who knows how to forgive, who's confident (even a little cocky), but who knows how to make fun of himself, who is kind and patient, who is nice to waitstaff, who reads good books and listens to good music, who appreciates william carlos williams and wallace stevens, who shares my politics, who doesn't freak out when i freak out, who likes my family and whose family i like, who likes his own family, who isn't allergic to cats, who can cook, who wouldn't be put off by the possibility that i could get sick again, who doesn't get annoyed when i take too long in scrabble games, who enjoys harry potter but who understands that there is much better children's literature out there, who knows the difference between a mountain bike and a road bike, who isn't afraid of getting lost, who is grown-up enough to admit when he's wrong, who is willing to put some effort into things that are important to him, who understands and does not find it threatening that i'm perfectly capable of changing a car tire on my own thankyouverymuch, who doesn't talk during movies, who doesn't drink fancy coffee beverages that cost more than three dollars, who doesn't forget that i take my coffee black, who has (at least) a college degree and a real job, who loves what he does for a living, who has interests outside of his career, and who doesn't live with his parents. oh, and i want him to be swoon-inducingly attractive, tall, wiry (i.e., skinny but not scrawny), with good hair, possibly a few tattoos, a defined sense of style, have nice hands and strong, sinewy forearms, and (of course) find me completely charming and fascinating and amusing. that's not too much, is it?

okay, maybe that's a bit too much. or not. is it selfish to be almost 29 years old and still want someone who turns me on? have i reached a point in my life where sex is secondary? where companionship and stability should take preference? because if the answer to those questions are yes, then, well, that's depressing as hell. because i still want adventure, spontaneity, creativity.

i can (but won't) name men from my past, some that have always only been friends, some that i let get away, some with whom i did a masterful job of screwing up my chances, who are truly incredible and amazing people. but for each of them, i could tell you why things would have never worked out... they were too self-absorbed, too oblivious, too emotionally inaccessible, too emotionally accessible, too eager, too distant... there's always something wrong. which brings me back to the whole maybe-my-standards-are-unreasonable idea...

but no -- i'm not going to settle. because those "too insert-imperfection-here"s are generally true. for example, the guy from last night (whom i'm only using for example's sake -- he doesn't come near making the cut for inclusion in the group i was thinking about in the above paragraph) was... too young, too self-conscious, too awkward, too different.

to be fair, i know i have my flaws, too. i know i can be... too neurotic, too smart-alecky, too judgmental, too hardheaded, too persistent, too hard-to-read, too much. and the list goes on and on...

it honestly baffles me that anybody manages to have a successful relationship.

but getting back to the personal ads, i've read a good amount of them in my down time this summer. some are really good, a lot more are really bad, several are just plain embarrassing. but among the good ones, the type of woman the guys claim to be looking for is almost always identical -- smart, funny, no drama, independent. but between you and me, i know what i want well enough to know that someone who is smart/funny/drama-free/independent, while necessary, is very rarely sufficient.

here's what my personal ad says i want:
in the market for a cute boy with a quirky sense of humor who doesn't get bent out of shape over small things. someone creative and energetic, someone intelligent and well-spoken.
and i'd also like someone who can, without hesitation, agree with each of the following:
1. grammar is cool.
2. stem cells are not babies.
3. bill murray is a genius.

now, compare that to the above near-dissertation description several paragraphs up. yeah. total bullshit.

maybe we're all just too clever to be too honest. if a guy comes right out and says that he wants a woman with a macarthur fellowship who looks like angelina jolie, he's not going to get anywhere. so we water down our requirements to what seems acceptable, to what casts us in the most attractive light to possible responders. we want to look open-minded, yet with the right set of priorities; inclusive, but not desperate.

so, in short, i think i'm done with the whole online dating thing. at least for now. i may return to it at some point. but for now, i'm tired of it. i'm tired of the getting-to-know-you e-mailing, the interview-esque phone calls, the weirdness that comes with meeting someone for the first time that you already know a fair amount about. i don't know that it's for me. i think i prefer the old-fashioned way -- a little liquid courage and friends-of-friends.

welcome back...

a few more thoughts on the first day of school, now that i'm at home.

first, how my first day of being a 2L differed from my first day as a 1L:
  • i did my reading for today's classes last night; as a fledgling 1L i did my reading a good week in advance.
  • today, as i did the first day of last year, i brought my lunch (i pretty much always bring my lunch). last year, i found a sunny spot outside and ate alone. today i spent my lunchtime bouncing between tables of friends.
  • i don't sit next to krista in every class anymore. but only because i don't have every class with krista anymore.
  • first day of first year, i was terrified of being called on; today, i couldn't have cared less if i was called on or not -- at least now i know enough to bullshit my way through something resembling an answer
  • i feel a hell of a lot more confident about being a 2L. i'm a lot less afraid of being wrong in class. i'm a whole lot less intimidated by my professors and my classmates. as i 1L i was basically shaking like a leaf.
and, how my first day of being a 2L was exactly like my first day as a 1L:
  • i didn't know my locker combination. even though i had the same locker.
  • i scanned the faces in my classes to find the cute boys. i found none.
  • checked the mail in my mailbox, found nothing but lexis nexis flyers, put the mail back in my mailbox.
  • i got coffee with krista.
  • i have a professor named anderson who taught at villanova (but not the same anderson).
  • i'm almost positive i wore the same sneakers.
  • i wasn't called on in class on the first day of being a 1L or the first day of being a 2L.
  • i felt really happy and grateful to be where i was, doing what i was doing.
non sequitur:
i'm listening to the "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" soundtrack right now, but only the jon brion songs. there's one in particular that i absolutely love. it's called "row". it comes at the point in the movie where clementine and joel are sitting on the couch and clem suggests to joel that he hide her in a memory where they don't belong, and he starts singing "row row row your boat" and it starts raining in the apartment and joel runs and hides under a table and the tabletop turns into that wavy translucent fiberglass/plastic-y stuff that sheds are made of. it gives me chills. in a good way.

pascagoula in the NYT...

another katrina-visits-my-hometown image, this time from the NYT. article here.


talked to dad tonight. everyone is fine, but he estimates they'll be without power for a week or so and water for a few days. the water is the real problem -- everybody wants to be able to take a shower. the phones (land lines) will be out for a while, too. my family can use the cars to charge their cell phones, but reception is spotty and the circuits have been jammed all day.

dad's house survived relatively unscathed. there were a few leaks, but nothing major, no tree branches (or trees, for that matter) through any walls or windows. my step-brothers and my sister went for a drive down the beach this evening. my sis told me that several of the houses on the beach are absolutely leveled -- nothing there but the foundations. houses that i know, houses i can picture in my head. gone. i can't even imagine what that must feel like. hell, i get nervous loaning out CDs -- i would be a basketcase if i lost everything i owned. from what dad and caitlin told me, there were no storm-related deaths in pascagoula, but there's been some pretty devastating damage.

i told caitlin (my sis) to take some pictures and e-mail them to me once the power is back. if she does so, i will most definitely post them here.

daniel (my brother) and idus (his girlfriend) are currently in fordyce, arkansas. idus's parents live not too far from new orleans and headed up to arkansas sunday morning. daniel and idus followed suit later that afternoon. they're all fine, too, just not sure when they'll be coming back, or what shape things will be in upon their return.

what a mess. what an absolute mess.

sounds like a job for FEMA.

katrina moves on...

so, here's a picture from from pascagoula:

and its accompanying article.

my little brother lives in hattiesburg, mississippi. just checked to see what's going on with the storm. see where the eye is in the below picture? that's hattiesburg. i'm glad my brother and his girlfriend had the sense to get the hell out of town.

first day of school...

i'm currently in the library, on the fifth floor, at one of my usual tables. just witnessed a funny interaction between two of my first year professors, one of whom is in serious need of a haircut and obviously didn't feel any need to dress up for the first day of classes.

i love law school!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

so long, summer...

i've read for tomorrow's classes (i can tell you all about rule 401 of the federal rules of evidence and even more about ricky ray rector v. arkansas). i've set the automatic function on my coffee maker to brew at 7:00 a.m. my lunch is made and in the fridge. my books are in my backpack. my clothes are even all laid out for the morning.

it's back to school time!

weather or not...

here's what the national weather service has to say about the next couple of days for my family:

...Widespread rain. Strong winds. Lows in the upper 70s. East winds 15 to 40 mph increasing to 30 to 55 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 100 percent.

Monday...Widespread rain. Hurricane force winds. Highs in the lower 80s. East winds 50 to 85 mph becoming south and increasing to 75 to 100 mph in the afternoon. Chance of rain 100 percent.

Monday Night...Widespread rain in the evening. Strong winds. Lows in the upper 70s. Southwest winds 20 to 55 mph Decreasing to 10 to 20 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 90 percent.
the short version of the story: this katrina has turned into a real bitch.

my dad, sis, and step-mom have decided to stay put in pascagoula and ride this one out. my brother and his girlfriend have driven north to avoid the madness. i'd be lying if i said i wasn't a teensy big nervous about all of this for them. i'm not so much worried about flooding as i am about potential wind damage. this is a big ol', take-no-prisoners kind of storm.

of course, part of me is insanely jealous. i wish i were there with my dad and sister, in the soon-to-be dark house, with candles and flashlights and the sounds of wind whipping around the house and rain beating against the windows. hurricanes are incredibly romantic and fantastic and terrifying and humbling.

but then, there's the aftermath... the cleaning, the repairing, the drying, the days without electricity and running water, the heat and humidity, the looting... yeah, maybe i'm not so jealous after all.

but take a look at this:

maybe this is a testament to my permanent residence in bizarro-land, but i think this image, this storm, is absolutely beautiful. it makes me feel tiny and powerless, but in very grateful way; mother nature's own imposition of humility on us wee humans.

more fun with intelligent design...

ah, the tale of the flying spaghetti monster. you can read all about it here.

here's a fun excerpt from the "open letter to kansas school board":
Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.
hear hear! oyez oyez oyez!

i can only hope that someday the flying spaghetti monster and his noodly appendage will be given the respect it deserves in our nation's classrooms.

so much for "walking on sunshine"...

katrina update: she's now a category 5 and is expected to pay a visit to new orleans (which is pronounced "new OR-lenz", not "new or-LEENZ"; only yankees call it "new or-LEENZ") within the next 24 hours. this ain't good for n.o. -- the city is below sea level and a storm like this is going to cause some major flooding.

i was awoken this morning by a phone call from my brother, who lives in hattiesburg, MS, about 70 miles north of the coast. he called me because he couldn't get a hold of my dad and needed to talk to somebody in the family. the big question is whether my family is going to head north to avoid the storm. i, of course, am going nowhere. i live in pittsburgh. but this is a pretty big storm and although i am personally a big fan of major storms, i would rather my family not assume the role of sitting duck while 160 mile winds buffet the world around them.

but wait! my family is in pascagoula, not new orleans! yes, of course, but new orleans is only 100 miles from pascagoula, and pascagoula is still very much in the projected path of this storm.

so, my fingers are crossed, my thoughts are with my family and all of those in the path of this storm.

and in other news, my COBRA insurance coverage is apparently cancelled because my former employer has decided to no longer use the company i've been dutifully paying about $300 a month for the past year. and when did i find out? today -- august 28th. which gives me only 3 days to actually get new insurance, or i run the risk of losing any multiple sclerosis coverage because of nasty little "pre-existing conditions" clauses. goddamn it. goddamn it.

and finally, today would have been my mom's 53rd birthday. there's certainly one hell of a party going on in heaven right about now.

and another thing...

so, the writer in the letter to the editor that i included in my last post says the PATRIOT act poses no threat to "law-abiding" and "legitmate" citizens. well, the NYC subway searches pose no threat to folks who have nothing unlawful on their persons, too, but that doesn't make it right! i don't want my government to be able to stop me, search me, check my personal information, prevent me from accessing information at libraries, et cetera.

hello, the fourth amendment, anyone? whatever happened to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

gotta love the haters...

so ever since i sent my letter to the editor to my hometown's newspaper, i've been obsessively checking the newspaper's website online to see if my letter has made it to print. so far, no dice. but i did come across this little gem while perusing the archive of the letters to the editor:
A response to the ACLU
Thursday, August 04, 2005

To the editor:

Here is my response to a membership solicitation letter I received from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ms. Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU:

I don't need to list my address because you already have it. Where you obtained my name, God only knows, but I'm very sorry that you have obtained it because I detest your organization due to the fact that it is an atheistic, communistic organization that is attempting to destroy America in any way and by any means that it can. You will not succeed. Your organization is becoming more and better known for its opposition to our American way of life and millions of people here are aware of the ridiculous things you preach. I am one of them.

Your organization has attacked the Patriot Act as though it is an unnecessary measure. Perhaps before the war on terror it would be. But as "Of Mice and Men" describes, you do what you must when required. The Patriot Act is not a threat to any legitimate and law-abiding citizen. Your intent is to undermine our country by offending and frightening our uneducated and unenlightened people to gain strength in numbers. I am not one of them.

The invitation also states that the Bush administration is expected to push his personal religious beliefs. Doesn't the ACLU read the books and newspapers that are produced in this country? The President's beliefs are America's beliefs as a whole; witness the results of the last two Presidential elections. Again, I say, the ACLU is attempting to turn America into an atheistic and communistic country. I will not abide by these beliefs.

The ACLU intends to defend reproductive rights by defending abortion. There is no need to defend abortion if people would not participate in sex except as it was intended, inside of marriage and not as though we are still living in the sixties. Sex is a sacred part of marriage and is not intended for use outside of marriage whether the ACLU believes it or not. Again, this is where the ACLU is opposed to religious beliefs and where it advocates the destruction of American religious rights and values along with the American way of life. I will not agree with the ACLU ideals.

Yes, I hope the religious people in this country will expand their grassroots efforts to institutionalize discrimination against same sex couples, to put prayer back in our schools, to limit abortion and to encourage religious beliefs in our entire country. Our country was founded on a firm belief in God and freedom of religion. The ACLU would eliminate both and I say again, turn our country into an atheistic, communistic country. I will not join your organization.

(name omitted by me)


i mean, come ON! are you KIDDING ME?!?! i know that people honestly feel this way. i know that this was a heartfelt letter from a man (whose name i totally recognize -- pascagoula is a tiny town) who seriously believes what he says. and i know that the ACLU and other like organizations get hate mail like this all the time. but what frustrates me is that this guy is just plain wrong.

so, the ACLU is "athiestic" and "communistic"? do people not understand how much good organizations like the ACLU do? do people really think that entertainers like rush limbaugh and bill o'reilly are better for this country than groups that are true to the principles of the constitution?

you know, the whole reason we have separate branches of government and a system of checks and balances is because democracy on its own does not work. if democracy were the only system available to us, this new world order that the author of the above letter describes would be the world in which we live. ugh. get me my passport -- i'm going to france! the ACLU is out there trying to make sure that, among other things, folks who get chewed up and spit out by the democratic process are still able to take advantage of their constitutionally promised rights. that's what the judicial system is for. that's why we have the supreme court. because sometimes the majority gets it wrong.

the above letter is an appalling example of how wrong the majority can be.

katrina and the waves...

this has been one hell of a hurricane season. it looks like the portion of the gulf coast that used to be my home is about to get slammed. again. this time by hurricane katrina, and it's not even september yet!

to put some perspective on this 2005 season compared to those of my youth, i had two birthdays-by-candlelight as a kid because of power outages caused by hurricanes. those hurricanes were frederick in 1979 and elena in 1985. hurricanes are named alphabetically. my birthday is september 17th (three shopping weeks remaining!). in 1979, we were in mid-september on storm "F" (i.e., the 6th storm of the season), and in 1985, we were in mid-september with an E (the 5th storm of the season).

and so here we are, 2005, and it's the end of august. and we're already up to K on the storm list. i.e., number eleven!

and hurricane season has another two full months to go... obviously, the apocalypse is now.

emily's advice for the new 1Ls...

(not that any of them read this blog, of course)

1. stop hanging out on that awful site. it's ridiculous and you are not fourteen years old! or, if you choose to continue to make friends on, you'd better not EVER let me hear you complain that law school is like high school.

2. don't make out with your classmates at bar review (the rather unfortunately named weekly student-bar-association-sponsored thursday night pub outings). everyone will know about it by friday. including me. and i don't care.

3. all the 2Ls are geniuses. especially the former members of section B. i mean it. and no, you CANNOT use my contracts outline.

waning moments...

it's 2:19 on saturday afternoon. in 42 hours and 41 minutes i'll be starting my first class of my second year of law school. the big question haunting me this weekend is, of course, what am i going to wear on monday?

yesterday and the day before was orientation for the new first years. yesterday afternoon was a student organization fair, where all the various law school clubs/groups have tables set up and get the new students to sign up. my friend tom, president of the pitt law democrats, called me earlier in the week to ask if i would hang out with him at the dems' table. so i did, having nothing else to do.

but here's the thing... remember that coup that i was planning? my overthrow of the pitt law ACLU? well, the student organization fair was to be stage one. the (outgoing) president was supposed to be there at a table signing up the new recruits. but she didn't show! like, at all! she was nowhere to be found! so, tom made me a sign and gave me some paper and i became the rep for the pitt law ACLU! i got a list of about 30 or so names, not too shabby when you consider that all i had planned on was hanging out with tom and keeping him from flirting with the new girls.

of course, with great power comes great responsibility. looks like now i've got my work cut out for me.

meanwhile, a couple of tables down... (we were _so_ in the lefty corner. the black law student association, the pitt law women's association, outlaw, pitt law democrats, the ACLU, and the environmental law council were all clustered together, directly across from the federalist society, the republicans, and all the christlaw groups.) so anyway, my dear friend andrew is president of outlaw, the GLBT rights group. i was absolutely astounded by how many kids would come up to him and ask what outlaw was, and when he would explain that it was a gay rights group, but membership was open to everyone, the kids would make some stupid excuse about how they had already signed up for enough organizations and kind of walk away. good gravy! these are adult students (in theory). real grown ups are not homophobes.

oh well, at least andrew got all of us lefty 2Ls to sign up for outlaw.

and then, after the student group fair, we (i'm almost embarrassed to admit this because it truly is very very lame) headed over to shadyside to go to doc's. the SBA (student bar association, i.e., law school's version of student council) puts on a free beer free food thing as the close of orientation activities. and, yes, i went to check out the 1Ls. well, friends, surprise, surprise! they look just like my class. i only hope that the really cool ones elected not to go to the boozefest/meatmarket. i have good reason to hope this -- i didn't go last year. and i'm way cool.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

back to school blues, part 4...

sheesh! went to the bookstore today to get my textbooks. here i am, $516.30 lighter, and i still have two more books to get. here's the run-down:

course: administrative law
selected federal and state administrative and regulatory laws -- $27.50
yet-unbought casebook because all the ones in the bookstore were used beyond re-use -- $XX

course: international law
casebook -- $98.00

course: evidence
casebook -- $96.00

course: capital punishment: theory and practice
casebook -- $97.60
course materials -- $66.00

course: reproduction, sexuality, and the law
course materials -- $22.00
yet-unbought casebook because it cost $105.00 and i was freaking out about how expensive everything was

course: race, racism, and american law
casebook -- $74.25
critical race theory -- $34.95

ouch. i went to lunch with andrew, krista, and grant before we went to the bookstore. i had three beers at lunch, knowing that the bookstore venture would be painful. nothing kills a nice buzz like hundred dollar casebooks.

also, oakland was an absolute madhouse! students everywhere. parents everywhere. cars everywhere. four days until school starts! hoooooooooooo-ray.

much awaited, eagerly anticipated...

well, not really, but i figured i can't put up contenders in the "who would win in a fight" cereal championship and not post my own picks. so here you go:

a) the cookie crook v. sonny, the bird from cocoa puffs?

my money's on the cookie crook. sonny is clearly insane, and while the force of insanity is mighty, the cookie crook is one sneaky bastard. for starters, he wears a mask. additionally, he had to rise through the ranks of cookie thievery to earn the much, erm, coveted position of cookie crisp box cover boy. and finally, he would need only to unleash his secret weapon (a handful of cocoa puffs) to render sonny nearly unconscious (and possibly incontinent).

b) tony the tiger v. the sugar bear?

hail to the champion of all times: sugar bear! this would be a battle of epic proportions. tony the tiger has mad upper body strength, but his one move is his grrrrrrrrrreat uppercut. as long as sugar bear avoids this coup de grace, he's aces. sugar bear is suave and way cool, but underneath that stoner exterior, he's a crazed animal. and let's not forget that bears are mean motherfuckers when provoked.

c) the leprechaun from lucky charms v. dig'em the frog?

um, dig'em. leprechauns aren't real.

d) toucan sam v. the honey nut cheerios bee?

this one would be a draw. the honey nut bee is smarter and craftier and more deserving of a win, but one sting to his opponent and our dear bee is a goner. i suppose technically, after the disastrous sting to toucan sam has been delivered, honey nut bee would be the winner, but he wouldn't be alive to be announced as such. `tis a tragic fate for our buzzing friend. sigh.

e) king vitaman v. mikey from life cereal?

totally. king vitaman. mikey is just a little kid, and king vitaman is a king, and has, like, a kingdom and a royal guard and stuff. let me assure you, folks, that king vitaman is as real as you or i—-his picture on the box cover is a photograph; this is no illustration. his royal highness would kick some serious ass and mikey would be left in a vitamin-fortified daze with visions of life cereals circling his head.

h) the trix rabbit v. quisp?

quisp is from outer space. and he has a gun. no contest. the trix rabbit would be too distracted, all running around trying to steal artificially flavored and colored cereal from children. boooooooo trix rabbit! booooooooooooo!

g) snap, crackle, and pop v. count chocula, booberry, and frankenberry?

the monsters. snap, crackle, and pop are little guys, and their skill lies in cerealic onomatopoeia. AND, they must act together to accomplish their goal. chocula, boo, and franken each have their own similar but distinct product line and thus could attack from three independent directions. s, c, and p wouldn't stand a chance. the weakness i see for our supernatural breakfast friends is in where the fight would be held--there seems to be some limited- regional-release/not-available-in-all-markets issues. for example, if the battle were to be held in, say, pascagoula, mississippi, count chocula would have to take on snap, crackle, and pop on his own. it would be tight, but i still think that the count could pull it off.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

letters from a young poet...

i've lived in this apartment since march and i still have yet to make use of my wallspace, so lately i've been on a quest to find things that might look nice framed or mounted or whathaveyou.

i just went through a box that was full of old journals and i found some things that i had forgotten i had, mostly of the keep-this-because-it's-from-mom variety, including a mother's day card i made on behalf of my brother and me in 1982 (i was 5, my brother was 1), a copy of the program from my parents' wedding, and an invitation to my parents' wedding.

my mom and dad, being the good hippies that they were, made their own invitations. my mother had beautiful handwriting, and wrote on the cover of the invite a rilke quote:

"do you not see how everything that happens keeps on being a beginning?
and how could it not be His beginning since beginning is always in itself so beautiful?"

i also found a poem that i wrote as a child for a class project in poetry. i have no recollection whatsoever of having written this, but it might just be the greatest thing i've ever written, so i'm including it in this blog post, for old time's sake:

catch the sea?
oh no - not me!
it's too blue, too deep
i like to walk beside it
the waves hugging my feet
but as far as getting in --
did you see that fin!
no telling what's out there!!
it messes my hair.
it's safer on the shore
i can snore away the sun
and steam 'til i'm done
and can't feel any more.

in the sea
you have to kick and to bend and to swim
with your blood rolling in you have to brave slime
and stumps and curling blue blumps that crash into your chin
when i get in the sea
the sea gets in me
it crawls in my hears and puckers my tongue
it makes my nose run!!
i don't want to know the sea
i'm afraid
it would know me.

pittsburgh's, um, finest?

my friend and fellow blogger moon called my attention to the protest in oakland on saturday at the army recruitment center. (because apparently i live in a bubble.) there was some serious shit going down on the police misconduct front. here are some relevant links:

a post from the pittsburgh indy media center site
a really disturbing video, also at pgh indy media, showing a rabid police officer and his taser
an article from yesterday's post-gazette

and people wonder why cops have a bad reputation...

(hat tip)

who would win in a fight...

pure diversion for a tuesday... the "who would win in a fight" game. it's like this -- you take two people/characters/animals/whatnot and imagine who would rise victorious in hand-to-hand combat. with no further ado, i give you....

who would win in a fight?
the cereal box edition

a) the cookie crook v. sonny, the bird from cocoa puffs
b) tony the tiger v. the sugar bear
c) the lucky charms leprechaun v. dig'em the frog
d) toucan sam v. the honey nut cheerios bee
e) king vitaman v. mikey from life cereal
f) the trix rabbit v. quisp
g) snap, crackle, and pop v. count chocula, booberry, and frankenberry (a tag-team match, obviously)

when i was right out of college and lived in boston, my then-roommate and good friend christina and i would make up stupid games to amuse ourselves when we were out at bars. this was one of them. another was called "sixteen or seventeen". for that game, we picked various other bar patrons and decided whether they were sixteen years old or seventeen years old. it was a bold statement on underage drinking, i assure you. there was also the "there's your boyfriend" game (we didn't make that one up), or the "who can you get to buy you a drink" game. and the "stooky macky" game, which is really too stupid to explain, but provided hours of amusement for us.

christina apparently had a goat named sasha when she was a kid. i only ever heard about sasha when christina had had a few beers. and it was the same story every time -- sasha somehow got inside the house and ate all the hamburger meat and so they had to give her away. am i convinced that sasha ever actually existed? no way. do i consider christina one of the most fantastic people i have ever known? abso-effing-lutely.

Monday, August 22, 2005

how i spent my summer vacation...

well, only a week remains until i load up my backpack with my computer and my books and my highlighters and return to life as a student. at this moment, though, with milo curled up in a white heap on the couch next to me, i'm feeling somewhat ambivalent about the inevitable shifting of gears. but deep down, i truly am looking forward to it.

if you will, please indulge me a bit in this brief recounting of the stuff that filled my summer months...

ahem, how i spent my summer vacation, a top-five list:

5) my thumb looks a little greenish, right? maybe not, but i have managed to grow peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, marigolds, and a flowering pumpkin plant in containers of various sizes on my windowsills and on the roof that my windows open onto. i know that people garden all the time, but this was my first attempt and i'm very proud of my little plants. every morning this summer before work when i left the house on my way to catch the bus, i would cross the street and look back at my apartment windows so i could see how the plants looked from a distance. they looked lovely -- all green and new! and so what if the peppers are so damn hot they're almost inedible? i grew them all by myself.

4) finally, i have non-law school friends in pittsburgh! well, only a couple, but they are folks i really like and hope to keep around for a while. also, i've cemented some solid friendships with classmates whom i hadn't anticipated would become so important to me. this has been a fantastic summer for people and pittsburgh-exploration and feeling like a human being again. always good.

3) nothing says the fourth of july like fireworks, baseball, and caitlin! caitlin = my fabulous little sis. the child is seventeen years old and finally this year my dad lets her come and visit me on her own. and while i wish he hadn't taken so long to realize that she's old enough to ask directions if she gets lost in an airport, she was worth the wait. i love my sister ad infinitum. she's beautiful and smart and clever and tough -- so much more so than she recognizes yet. we had a great weekend together: saw the butterflies at the phipps, went to a terrible movie together (_war of the worlds_ blech!), saw the phillies spank the pirates, watched a damn fine fireworks display downtown. and we didn't even get into any sibling squabbles. it was a perfect city 4th of july weekend.

2) emily -- fighter for freedom, defender of liberty! my internship at the ACLU plainly and simply kicked much ass. i am convinced that i had the best summer job of any of my friends. i learned a ton, had a hell of a boss, worked with a great team of interns, renewed my conviction in why i've chosen this line of work.

1) i rode a bike 150 miles against MS! i still can't believe i actually did this. the thought of spending two solid days on a bike, dealing with incessant hills and sweltering heat (not to mention the sunburn and the saddle soreness) is totally laughable to me now, but in june it was something that i was determined to do. i raised a little more than $1,100 for the national MS society, borrowed my friend oliver's road bike, and told myself that as long as i did my best, i was okay. but folks, i have a lot of pride, and even though by the 80th mile on day one i was about ready to curl up in any available shady spot and shut down for a while, i kept going and successfully complete the whole ride. the weekend was amazing -- friendly riders, helpful volunteers, great organization -- and i am absolutely hooked. i've already started recruiting friends to ride with me next year.

so, there. not so bad for a summer. i didn't rescue any babies from burning buildings or stand on the front line of any revolutions, but i did all right. so...okay. i think i'm ready to go back to school now.

dear editor...

so, i sent a response to the opinion article in friday's _mississippi press_ (pascagoula's newspaper), also mentioned here. it's way too long to be printed in full, but we'll see what happens:
There does seem to be one thing on which Gaylon Parker and I agree – the debate over intelligent design clearly is not intelligent.

There is so much at stake in the current debate between intelligent design (ID) and evolution. Most significantly, perhaps, and offering most support of a purported link between ID and religion, is just how heated the public opinion has become regarding this matter. Proponents of ID hypothesize that the "intelligent" designer could be a time-travelling biologist or a space alien, but the most resonant suggestion for a largely Christian nation such as ours is that "designer" is euphemism for a divine creator. I have yet to see a portrayal of intelligent design that convincingly removes God from the realm of speculation. And for a country comprised mostly of theists, the notion that God is responsible for life as we know it is not one that will be easily overlooked.

With respect to the "theory" of evolution, we're dealing with a theory that is supported by a wealth of evidence; a theory about which hypotheses can be and have been formed and tested. The theory of evolution has earned its place as a scientific tenet. Intelligent design, on the other hand, has none of these hallmarks. ID, itself an untestable and unproveable theory, begins where it ends – at a question of faith in a creator. As a matter of science, ID doesn't pass muster. Additionally, nowhere do the scientific community and science teacher associations proclaim that evolution is proven fact. What they are saying is that evolution is "a major unifying concept in science" and is necessary for students to obtain a "level of
scientific literacy" (from the National Science Teachers of America website).

The First Amendment very clearly states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" This has been applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment and has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as a prohibition against any government entanglement with or endorsement of religion. The danger of teaching intelligent design in public schools is that for many, ID is a thinly veiled repackaging of creationism. By suggesting that intelligent design belongs within the popular definition of "science", the separation of church and state that the Constitution promises Americans becomes seriously endangered.

Public schools, as state actors, have no business introducing "theories" to students which force them to choose or even consider their religious beliefs. Even if there were a way to comprehensively accommodate all potential student faiths (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, what-have-you), are public schools really an appropriate context for that discussion? Moreover, is a biology classroom the proper venue? One of the great things about this country is that its government allows religion or non-religion to be a personal choice, one informed by family, community, and individual experience. Government provides this freedom by staying out of questions of religion. We do ourselves a great disservice if we forget that this country was founded because of a need for religious freedom. The day that government starts informing our choices in matters of faith is the day that we abandon the revolutionary and patriotic principles embodied in our Constitution and our history.

And finally, let's slow down in our rush to attack the ACLU. True, the ACLU has taken on some controversial cases, but it has been incredibly pivotal in this nation's history. The ACLU has been involved in everything from protesting the Japanese internment camps during WWII to advocating for labor rights to protecting civil rights and fighting racial and gender discrimination. The ACLU is a staunch defender of constitutional rights and the principles upon which this country was founded. I shudder to think where we would be without such an organization.
(thanks to grant for being my draft-reader/editor/preventer of emily saying stupid things.)

take out the papers and the trash...

but don't expect that you have any privacy interest in what you've bagged up and set at the curb. at least, not according to the montana supreme court.

what is fantastic here is the concurring opinion written by justice james c. nelson. he ruminates on the orwellian nature of our world today, and does so in as stark and frightening a way as orwell did in _1984_.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


from the fortune cookie that came with my dinner last night: "when winter comes heaven will rain success on you."

wow! good for me!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

reason number 4,234,197 why i'm never moving back to the south...

selections from an opinion article appearing in friday's the mississippi press, my hometown's newspaper:

No room for intelligence in design debate

Friday, August 19, 2005


It is offensive that the "theory of evolution" has become "evolution" despite the scientific requirement that facts must be reproducible in a laboratory. The "theory of relativity" is still called a theory, for example, because it hasn't been physically proven yet. But regardless of the lack of scientific proof for the theory of evolution, it is taught as gospel in classrooms across the nation.

Open hostility to religion is just as dangerous as state-sponsored religious teaching. In an interesting twist, the Louisiana ACLU is currently fighting a school board's prayer at the opening of each meeting.


The other danger here is that a segment of the scientific community is now holding instruction hostage to only one unprovable theory and using threats to limit thought. Science isn't supposed to work that way; it should be a world of exploration, not limitation.


Sadly, hostility to religion is driving otherwise intelligent people to do thuggish and unintelligent things. Their animosity is supposedly veiled by the notion that they are browbeating people for the right reasons. But it's all in the interest of spreading one gospel and excluding even the notion of another.

It's amazing that people think amoebas evolved into fish and that fish evolved into lizards and lizards evolved into rats and rats evolved into monkeys and monkeys evolved into people. It's amazing because it hasn't been proven and some folks are holding so tightly to the theory.

In the end, some scientists are expressing a faith rivaled only by the religious conviction they so casually dismiss and deride. But without the all-essential PROOF, they shouldn't be able to spread theirs without different points of view presented simultaneously.

um, wha? i like the use of the word "gospel" in this article. it really drives the whole constitutional notion of separation of church and state home.

as far as the necessity of proof, what proof do the intelligent design folks have?

booooo michael feldman...

on lazy saturdays when i'm at home, my NPR routine consists of car talk at 10:00, whad'ya know at 11:00, and (my favorite NPR show that isn't this american life) wait wait...don't tell me! at 1:00.

for me, "whad'ya know" is really only a filler in between "car talk" and "wait wait". i like the audience and some of the guests, but i really cannot stand michael feldman, the host of "whad'ya know". in my opinion, the guy is a smug, arrogant bastard. a couple of weeks ago he even made fun of peter sagal, the host of "wait wait"!!! now, for those who are unfamiliar with "wait wait", it's the NPR news quiz -- i.e., it tests guests' and audience members' and callers' knowledge of what's been going on in the news. and the fantastic prize for the winners is having carl kasell (of NPR's morning edition) record their home answering machine message! the show is very clever and funny, and the panelists (sometimes including the swoon-worthy mo rocca) are brilliant!

i think peter sagal is great. here's his bio from the "wait wait" site:
Peter Sagal has had a varied career including stints as a stage director, an actor, an extra in a Michael Jackson video, a travel writer, an essayist a ghost writer, and a staff writer for a motorcycle magazine. He is the author of numerous plays that have been performed around the country and abroad. Peter's play Mall America is currently being staged in Los Angeles.
now, how can you not love a guy like that? clearly, michael feldman is way jealous.

i'll leave you with this picture, also from the"wait wait" site. it's carl (on the left) and peter, and a tin-can phone:

Friday, August 19, 2005

it's way cold in hell today...

so, i know it's only the pre-season and all, but um, the saints beat the patriots last night?!?! now, i know i only recently admitted that i'm not a big fan of the NFL, but my brother is. my brother is also the frequent recipient of phone calls from me when it's late at night and i'm walking home by myself from bars. which is how i came to know about new orleans' victory over the pats.

why do i care?

1) i'm from southern mississippi. mississippi has NO professional sports teams. at all. so, southern mississippians cling to the saints for football, the braves for baseball, and whoever for basketball (i come from a family who roots for the celtics, but i think that's because the celtics, at least in my childhood, was full of tall, white guys -- much like my family).

2) as mentioned before, i do like the philadelphia eagles (this is actually less because i lived for several years in philly than it is because my brother has been a huge eagles fan since he the randall cunningham days). i like the pats, too (only because i lived in new england for a while). but the pats beat the eagles in the superbowl, and that just pissed me off.

1) + 2) = 3) the saints beating the pats is part awesome and surprising, and part revenge.

alas, the preseason counts for nothing... but it counts for something in my book.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

dear mr. sandman...

omigod. according to the lower right hand corner of my computer screen, it's 5:46 a.m. what am i doing? why aren't i sleeping? i'll tell you why -- because i decided that what i needed this evening was COFFEE. i'm a damn fool. a damn bleary-eyed fool.

i should be tougher than this. i come from coffee drinking people, people who have coffee with breakfast _and_ dinner, people who expect coffee to be strong and no-nonsense, people who sleep at night.

(of course, it probably didn't help that i took a long nap this afternoon. or yesterday afternoon. or whenever it was that i shouldn't have been napping because the rest of the world was awake.)

hey! it's haiku time. the only appropriate activity at hour of notsleepingness is haiku.

first, i'll share a little number that my good friend bryce wrote in the library one night during college:

sitting in the grass
a most holy trinity:
me, myself, and I.

bryce is a real comedian. now he's a lawyer. in texas. the sobering reality is that bryce is actually a very good poet, but the world doesn't seem to have much need these days for poet-lawyers. or lawyer-poets. it's a damn shame.

okay, my turn...




okay, so i'm not much of a haiku poetess right now. i can see the sun coming up. okay, so i can't see the _sun_ coming up, but i can see the sky getting lighter. this is depressing. watching the sunrise is only acceptable on two occasions (that i can think of right now): when watching the sunrise is the goal, and when you're with someone who is such good company that you don't notice that it's time for the sun to wake up. sigh... it seems that i've seen way too many sunrises because some unknown and unwelcome force has made me the unwilling keeper of a allnightlong vigil. more often than not those forces have been: schoolwork, deadlines, anxiety. no fun.

it's kind of amazing how quickly the sky goes from night to day. or dawn. dawn isn't even real. neither is dusk. they're just interstices -- the intervening parties between dark and light. ugh--somewhere therein is my haiku. and therein it will stay.

okay, ENOUGH! i'm going to go get in bed and stare intently at the ceiling for a while, until by sheer strength of will i can impose sleep on my body. so, goodnight.

emily's 2 a.m. impulse buy, brought to you by ebay...

so, when andrew and i were wandering through the john waters galleries at the warhol on tuesday, we decided that we needed, more than anything, was to be making collages out of holy cards, you know, those little wallet-sized cards with images of saints and other various religious figures, usually with prayers or the like on the back. we've got some fantastic ideas, too, but i'm not going to write them here, because then you'd go out and copy us and we'd lose out on our only chance to make millions. but trust me -- they're good.

you're jealous already. i can tell.

so, i've been combing the internet off and on since the museum visit, trying to find a cheap, easy way to get a variety of holy cards for a tiny price tag. here's a sampling of the websites i've searched in my quest:
(and my favorite:)

and then it hit me -- the place i really should be visiting is my good old friend ebay! of course! ebay! i mean, you'd have thought that i would have realized this sooner, since i've spent a good amount of time this summer cruising ebay for good prices on road bikes. but alas, i'm a little slow sometimes.

and now, after losing one auction for a mere 16 different holy cards, i found a "buy it now" option on a set of NINETY FOUR different cards for about $20. should i be spending twenty dollars right now on something i don't need, when my loan money hasn't yet come in and i can't even afford to buy my textbooks? of course not. am i glad i made the purchase nonetheless? you bet!

here are some samples of what i've got coming:

look out, MoMA! here i come!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

back to school blues, part 3...

here are some things i'm thinking about, w/r/t the upcoming fall (they don't technically all fall under the category of "blues", but i've started this motif and feel some devotion to it):

a) notre dame football season is coming soon! i truly believe that the virgin mary statue atop the golden dome of the ND administration building emits some sort of mind-control signal that transmits two strong and profound messages to its students: 1) it's not just football, it's notre dame football! and 2) alumni donations! alumni donations! alumni donations!

i can't get into the NFL -- it does nothing for me. the only team that i even marginally follow is the eagles. the NCAA, on the other hand, is riveting! maybe it's that the players are younger and less experienced, or that there are so many more teams, or that the rivalries are so much more intense, but i _heart_ college football. few things fascinate me more than the BCS!

b) soon it will get cooler outside! this means, among other things, that i can take my sweaters out of storage. i love sweaters. i can't own enough of them. this, like my never-fading fascination with snow and my utter disinterest in ice hockey, is a side-effect of having grown up in the hot hot hot and humid humid humid south. the first eighteen years of my life only provided me with about a month per year of comfortable sweater weather. that's just silly.

also, i bought a bright blue wool coat at the end of the season last year, and i'm very much looking forward to wearing it this year!

c) jason lee, who makes me feel climbing-the-rope-in-gym-class funny, is starring in an NBC sitcom. i've loved jason lee since he skateboarded into my heart in the sonic youth video for "100%". i'm really not so sure about this sitcom thing. maybe i should relish the opportunity to see jason lee once a week in my living room, but try as i might, i have some serious doubts about this small-screen transition. god, i'm such a snob.

then again, jason lee did name his child "pilot inspektor" and i was able to overlook that. so i'm sure we'll survive this television stuff. and at least it's not another reality show.

marilyn and elvis and jackie o, oh my...

yesterday, andrew and i, being the good pittsburghers that we are, paid a visit to the warhol museum. i must confess, i'm not a huge fan of andy warhol's work, but i cannot deny his importance as a pop culture icon.

and, the velvet underground were my first favorite band. so i do owe mr. warhol a big thanks for that ons.

the current special exhibition at the warhol is called "John Waters: Change of Life". here's the description from the website:
As he has moved from the avant-garde margin to mainstream culture, John Waters has been a powerful, influential iconic figure in popular culture. Organized by Lisa Phillips and Marvin Heiferman for The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, Change of Life zeroes in on the cinematic mind of John Waters particularly focusing on the early works, both cinematic and still photography that became a basis for his entire career. Waters' longevity as a cultural figure is based in his unique ability to tap into our most private attractions to the erotic, perverse, sleazy, and tasteless and harness them to the fictional and conceptual devices that drive both popular entertainment and art. The show will contain 76 photographic works along with five sculptural installations as well as the first showing of his early extraordinary underground films.
i liked the six floors of warhol's work at the museum, but i LOVED the john waters exhibition! it's simultaneously hysterical, grotesque, irreverent, provocative, clever, and timely. it's what you want (or maybe what i want) from contemporary art -- the show has the ability to take itself seriously and be "artistic" without having that annoying air of tortured-soul, misunderstood-artisan that spoils so many university MFA/BFA shows.

oh no, there goes my snobbery again...

i just want things to be authentic. i like to see worlds that blend creativity and originality with honesty. i know you can't completely divorce the audience from the artwork, but the work i enjoy most is the kind that enables me to feel less like a viewer and more like a voyeur, like the piece/object/song/poem/prose was created _only_ for the artist, as something that s/he needed to get off of her/his chest, and my experience of it is merely incidental.

eh, what do i know? i'm just a silly lawyer-in-training from a small town in mississippi.

the point, though, is that anyone reading this who is in the pittsburgh area should get thee to the warhol museum to check out the john waters exhibition. run -- do not walk! the exhibition is only around until september 4th.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

throckmorton hits the big time...

this little blog has made it! it's now officially listed as a Pittsburgh Blog! see it and all of its blog-colleagues at the Pittsburgh Bloggers website.


we will be invincible...

i haven't written much about the specifics of my internship this summer. maybe part of me wants to retain some semblance of anonymity (no, that's not it -- anybody want my social security number?). nay, it's more out of respect for the confidentiality of the material my internship host deals with.

it can probably be pieced together from my posts, though, and now that i've finished, i'll just come right out and say that i was a proud, proud intern for the American Civil Liberties Union this summer. the big case that the ACLU in pennsylvania is working on right now is on intelligent design -- the ACLU is suing the dover, pa school district because it wants to include intelligent design as part of its science curriculum. i have way too many articles in my e-mail (thank you, google e-mail alerts!) to pick one to link here, but here's the press release from the ACLU PA website.

but the reason i'm writing about this now is because i want to post this picture. it's an AP photo from a december press conference in harrisburg about the dover case. the guy at the podium is vic walczak -- my summer boss and one of my heroes. the crazy guy in the background with the sign needs no introduction. here's the article from whence this photo came. enjoy!

the dog-days have brought guests...

my living room windows are always open these warm-weather months, and there's a tree right outside. beginning in the late afternoon and continuing into the evening, the sound of the cicadas is overwhelming. it's so loud that i can't talk on the phone in my living room -- i have to go into my bedroom where the windows stay closed because i have a window unit air conditioner. it's really quite amazing.

the other day, while walking down the street, i saw a cicada skin stuck to a tree, evidence of the bug's molting process. when i was little, my brother and cousin and i would collect these hollow shells from the trees in my grandmother's yard and hold them in our small outstretched hands in an attempt to freak out our aunts. we were amazed by them, they seemed so miraculous and unlikely. except for a small slit in the top of the shell, they are delicate, perfect representations of the bugs that left them behind. even the legs retain every detail, every joint.

i had honestly forgotten about cicadas until this summer. i can't possibly ignore them now. maybe i haven't given them any thought in years past because for the prior six summers i've lived in city neighborhoods, away from enough of a concentration of trees and gardens and flowers and grass to attract a population of these noisy bugs. or maybe cicadas don't make it as far north as boston or as far east as philadelphia.

and these are just the annual, "dog-day" cicadas! i can only imagine how loud the summer afternoons must be when the 17- or 13-year cicadas are in town.

they will be gone soon, their mating season ends with august. my summer, too, ends with august. in two weeks classes will start again and i will re-enter the insulated world of school. in the meantime i think i'll do what i can to enjoy the outdoors, to leave my friendly mark on unsuspecting places, to make noises to be heard through open windows.

Monday, August 15, 2005

hello my name is throckmorton...

lately a few folks have asked why this little blog is dubbed "throckmorton". as with most (if not all) things, there is a story.

in college, my friends were liberal arts folks -- mostly english or fine arts or PLS (notre dame's great books program -- the PLS stood for "program of liberal studies" or "probably law school"). however, every rule has an exception, and my exceptions were my friends amy and adrienne (also my three-times-a-roommate) who were both math majors.

amy and adrienne had to take a physics class as part of their required courses. the textbook that they used was full of story problems about the mysterious "your cousin throckmorton", as in:

Your cousin Throckmorton is playing with the clothesline. He unties one end, holds it taut, wiggles the end up and down sinusoidally with frequency 2.00Hz and amplitude 0.075m. The speed of the wave is v=12.0m/s. At time t=0 the end has zero displacement and is moving in the +y-direction. Assume that no wave bounces back from the far end to muddle the pattern. Write a function that describes the displacement of the wave.


While aboard your yacht, your cousin Throckmorton cuts a rectangular piece (dimensions 5.0×4.0× 3.0cm3) out of a life preserver and throws it into the ocean. The piece has a mass of 42 g. As it floats in the ocean, what percentage of its volume is above the surface?

(note: while my grammar and spelling technique may be unstoppable, my math and physics technique is embarrassingly subpar. please do not expect me to be able to answer these problems.)

so there we have your cousin throckmorton. our dear friend throcky has lightened the mood for many a student and has put a friendly face on many a problem. but who is this throckmorton, really? is he friend or foe? blonde or brunette? republican or democrat? vegan or carnivore?

whomever he is, i named this blog after him. his name doesn't really mean anything. i suppose when i was searching for a moniker for these collective posts, i wanted something silly and light and unrelated to the subject matter, which at the time was dark and troubled and clinical.

throckmorton: "nice to meet you."

one more thing, an oft-repeated quote from this same physics textbook goes something like this:

"the workless refrigerator is a mythical beast, like the unicorn or the free lunch."

almost makes me wish i had taken physics in college.

alter ego, redux...

okay, what's even funnier is if i envision myself at age ten. here's how that would go:

hi y'all! thanks for digging up my time capsule! my name is emily mcnally! i am ten years old! i have green eyes, purple plastic glasses, and brown hair. my friends all have ataris and commodore 64s and nintendos, but my parents bought my brother and me a texas instruments TI99-4A and we play video games with educational value! i like listening to huey lewis and the news and new edition and america's top 40 with casey kasem! my best friends are kim, jamile, kelly, and much more! i play fullback for my soccer team! my number is 11! we're really good -- last year we got a first place trophy! i take piano lessons but i never practice! i'm a total nerd and go to gifted classes every saturday morning! i don't have the slightest idea what AIM is!

alter ego...

okay, it's a monday afternoon, i've had a lot of coffee, i'm a little bored. so i did a technorati search for my name...and i found a lone blog post from a ten year old emily mcnally. i'm probably breaking about a billion rules/laws/social mores by reproducing the post, but i'm doing it anyway. only i'm removing her AIM screen names, lest my MANY readers harass the poor dear. here you go:
Hey guys! Thanx 4 readin my blog!My name is Emily McNally! I am ten years old! I have blue eyes and dirtyblonde hair. I love playing the sims 2 University and all those other sim games! My favorite male singer is Usher! Boy is he eva hotttt! My favorite female singer is Hilary Duff! My best friends r Sammy, Christina, Melissa, Monica, and much more! I like shopping at Abercrombie, American Eagle and Limited too! I play soccer and gymnastix! Im in travel soccer in an undefeated team! I had a game yesterday and got a Goal! That was the first game of our new season. we won! In gymnastix I am learning a backhandspring! i can do a lot of things! I also like talking on the phone {thats a must}and and going on aim {24/7} MY screen name is xxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxx, and xxxxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!
i love her! her AIM screen names, all anonymity preserved, are variations of "soccer hottie", "girly girl", "gymnast", and her name. she's totally rad.

and she's inspired me to write a similar paragraph for my little blog, so here goes:

hey all! thanks for dropping by! my name is emily mcnally! i am twenty-eight years old! i have green eyes and darkbrown hair. i don't really play computer games but i do love parappa the rapper on playstation! my favorite male singer is stephen malkmus! he is totally hot! i don't have a favorite female singer! my best friends are krista, dave, grant, andrew, and much more! i like shopping but can't right now because i have no money and if i did i wouldn't shop at abercrombie, american eagle, or limited too! i love being on my bike! i like to ride in traffic and obey the rules and still get yelled at by motorists! sometimes i get on the treadmill at the gym and pretend that i can run really fast! i played soccer in high school! my only connection to gymnastics is that i tutored the only member of the penn men's gymnastics team for the LSAT! i like to do ceramics! i'm a law student! i like to grow plants! i don't have an AIM screen name!

my brain hurts from overuse of the exclamation point. punctuation was not meant to be abused like this.

from the "mcclane's new standard fishing encylcopedia"...

i love reference books. i love dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, anthologies, physician's desk references, manuals, almanacs, anything that gathers a bunch of information in one place. on thursday, when i was at krista's house, i borrowed from paul (k's boyfriend) one of the most terrific reference books i've ever happened upon: the mcclane's new standard fishing encyclopedia and international angling guide. from "aawa" (the hawaiian name for the black-spot wrasse bodianus bilunulatus) to "zooplankton" (protozoa and other animal microoganisms living unattached in water), this book is an alphabetized encapsulation of everything you've ever wanted to know about fishing but were afraid to ask, complete with photos, illustrations, and charts.

i'll share a few highlights. there is a strong possibility that more will follow in later posts. enjoy!

types of caudal, or tail, fins:
diphycercal fin (i.e., lampreys)
heterocercal fin (i.e., sharks)
homocercal fin (i.e., sunfishes)
lunate fin (i.e., tunas)
emarginate fin (i.e., trout)
falcate fin (i.e., jacks)
truncate fin (i.e., groupers)

curious about what exactly "scrod" is? because i sure was. and here's what mcclane's has to say: "the market name for a fillet of young atlantic cod (1.5 - 3 lbs), but may also include haddock of similar size."

under "first aid" is a chart for "dangerous, poisonous, and injurious aquatic life". some of my favorite entries:
-- agent: "shark"
prevention: "get out of water if sharks are present. do not antagonize sharks. . . ."
-- agent: "ratfish"
device: "venom apparatus on spine anterior to fist dorsal fin; sharp, platelike teeth."
prevention: "avoid."
(that's it -- that's all the guidance we get for prevention. brilliant!)
-- agent: "crustacea, lobster or shrimp in all oceans"
method: "allergic reaction."
prevention: "avoid all foods to which one is allergic."
(ah, mcclane's! so full of wisdom!)
-- agent: "ciguatera, a type of fish poisoning in the tropical or coral belt"
prevention: "ask local residents regarding edibility of fish"

there's another table under "first aid" called "skin- and scuba-diving dangers". here are some of my favorites in this group:
-- injury: "nitrogen narcosis, aka 'rapture of the deep'"
cause: "anesthesia caused by effect of nitrogen on the brain"
recovery: "spontaneous, as the depth decreases, providing one has not made a fatal mistake."
-- injury: "decompression sickness, aka 'the bends'"
symptoms: (among other things, ) "the chokes"

the book contains drawings of the genitalia of various mayflies!

there are fishes called "dolphins", but the mammalian dolphins, while closely related to, are not the same as porpoises.

under the entry "progressive action":
"the purpose of progressive tapering in a rod, whether applied to glass or bamboo, is to allow the caster a maximum range of casting weights. most rods are designed to assume one load iwth a comparatively small margin or more of less weight. the load factor is critical. the progressive action on the other hand implies that a light weight will bend the rod almost at its tip and very little elsewhere; as the weight (i.e., force) is increased, the point of curvature goes farther and farther down the rod. at the final and most extreme loading and application of force, the bend then, and only then, becomes almost circular."

definition of "supralittoral":
"that area of the shoreline which is ordinarily not covered by water, above the high tide line."


that's all for now. perhaps more soon. this book is definitely an easy way to kill some time.

news from singlesville...

i did something yesterday that i haven't done in a long, long time... i bought condoms. not only did i buy condoms, but i bought condoms purely for the hell of it -- i'm a totally single girl these days, a single girl without any real prospects. i'm fine with this. i'm in no hurry to be somebody's girlfriend anytime soon.

after i broke things off with stean, i had to do some re-thinking of my life. i had been "girlfriend" for three plus years -- i had to, in some respects, re-define myself as a single person. as part of this, i debated whether i should have condoms in the house. it's obviously not a bad idea -- i mean, who knows what could happen and in matters of sexual activity, there is no acceptable alternative to being safe.

but i wondered if having a stash of condoms in my bedside table would make me seem, erm, slutty? like, would a guy be turned off by a single girl who was so prepared for an impromptu rendezvous? or, would it seem responsible and considerate? and, would not having condoms so available possibly help me avoid a potentially bad alcohol-induced lapse in judgment?

i discussed this with guy friends, all of whom seemed to think that it's better to have my own protection on hand, if, for no other reason, so at least i know i'm using a condom that hasn't expired or been in somebody's wallet for god knows how long.

and so, on sunday, while in target with krista and paul, i decided that, as a single woman, having condoms is both reasonable and wise, and i threw a box of trojans in the shopping cart with my cat litter and shampoo.

paul asked if i was employing a strategy that the homeless use -- throwing some change in a cup and hoping that it will encourage passersby to contribute money of their own. i hadn't really considered it that way, but it can't hurt, right?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

architects may come and architects may go and never change your point of view...

yesterday i went to see fallingwater with my dear friend lisa, who came to visit from philly for the weekend. i don't know much about architecture or frank lloyd wright. i'm not going to be a poseur and write some sort of critical review of the home. i will say this, though: the house truly is beautiful and meticulous and very worth-seeing. most striking for me (and maybe this is because i'm tall?) was how small the interior spaces were; the staircases were narrow and dark, the ceilings were low, the rooms were close and intimate.

but what i thought about the most as katy, our soft-spoken docent, guided us from room to room, was about how frozen-in-time the space is. it was like stumbling into someone's old photograph, like falling into a chapter from a history book.

and more importantly...

the parties that house must have seen!!! i'm sure edgar kaufmann, jr., knew his way around a social gathering. what i would give to have been a guest at one of those parties! women in gorgeous, clingy dresses; men in high-necked sweaters and blazers; martinis in every other hand, cigarettes in long holders in the hands without drinks. the thought makes me giddy! i could picture myself standing on the terrace, wearing something that was red (or maybe green? but definitely fantastic!) with my hair all long and curly and my shoulders bare, flirting with some tall, dark-haired artist who talked to me about chet baker and who insisted on lighting my cigarettes. swoon... is this what becomes of the little girl who fantasizes about being a princess or a fairy? does she grow up to dream of playing dress-up and going to magnificent parties?

so, frank lloyd wright, thank you! although i must confess to not having really paid attention to anything i was told by my tour guide, you did give me an excuse to escape into my imagination for a while and revel in the beauty of make-believe.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

freedom bunker???

it's been said before, it will be said again, i'm (reluctantly and resignedly) going to say it now: the grand state of pennsylvania has moments in which it fits the description of pittsburgh at the west end, philadelphia at the east end, with arkansas/alabama/insert-your-fave-southern-state-here in between.

out with friends tonight, we got into a heated debate over a story my good friend andrew told about a new attraction at the county fair in his home lycoming county. for a few dollars, you, too, can participate in "freedom bunker", a game in which you get a paintball gun and are encouraged to shoot the terrorists, consisting of some stationary targets, including a representation of osama bin laden, and a man in typical arab dress. wha? nay, WTF?

this to me and to andrew and to several of our friends smells rather foully of racism and should be ceased forthwith. other friends felt that, while conceding that freedom bunker is racist, there is no way to stop how people are going to think and act and so it's not worth getting upset about.

why can't everyone just see things the way i do? this world would be, in a word, perfect.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

acceptance is the first stage...

okay okay OKAY! i just spent many hours watching many more episodes of "sex and the city" (seasons 5 and 6), this time with krista and several cosmopolitans (today was girls' day!), and i actually liked it. that's right -- i actually liked it! there were still many things that annoyed me (i hold fast to my critique of it being formulaic and predictable and that the women are stereotypes), but it does have a certain something...

i blame the cosmos.
that's, um, cosmopolitan short-form plural, not like the carl sagan cosmos.

my best friend, the writer...

click here. if you do nothing else at all today, just go here.

it's a link to the publisher's west catalog listing of my friend dave's new book, a series of essays about (contextually) torture, inspired by the abu ghraib prison debacle, prompted by a susan sontag essay that appeared in the NYT, and informed by his catholicism and his copious reading of his favorite literary giants. this is dave's first published book.

dave has made appearances on this blog. he's my college best friend; i consider him family. this is a guy whose endless short story drafts i read in various student lounge-y spaces at notre dame. this is a guy who has been serious about writing since the moment i met him. writing is not just a career for him, it's a passion, a true love, a soulmate.

so, cheers to dave! and buy his book.