Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sister Wives

I can feel another reality show sucking me in like a vortex and feel powerless to resist. For those who don't know, it's a new show on TLC about a family and bigamy in Utah. The man is legally married to one woman but calls three other women his 'wives' as well. My cable systems' 'on demand' feature carries this show on the line up. This means I'll be able to fit the show into my schedule.

Will I fight the battle of decency and good taste by not giving in to my voyeuristic tendencies? I don't know.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Baker v. Weedon

Here is another case that piques my puerile interests. At age 55 in his 3rd marriage, this guy married a 17 year old in Mississippi. It turns out the guy wrote a not so great will and about 40 years after he died, a mess erupted between his kids from a previous marriage and his widow.

In the case, the court stated that 'she hoed, picked cotton and milked an average of fifteen cows per day' soon after that marriage. And ho' she did!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Old Habits

A bad habit of mine is giving people nicknames. Most of the time those nicknames are kept to myself, but occasionally I'll let one slip out. The names can be silly, such as 'Mr. Kumbaya' or they can be downright mean. The one I regret is calling a coworker an 'ass monkey.' (For the record, the guy is white. I don't want anyone to think I'm a bigot.) I told some other coworkers and damned if the name didn't stick. Regrettably, I even said it to his face one time. After that incident, I promised myself that I wouldn't give people nicknames, but here of late, that bad habit has been creeping back.

I must resist the urge of doing this.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is the Witch Hunt Over?

Last week when I went to the gym, every day, CNN had on a segment about Christine O'Donnell. I was tired of hearing about her.

There is no liberal bias or political agenda on CNN's part, right?

I never heard of her until election season, and honestly, she seems like a political lite-weight. But the more CNN pisses and moans about her, the more I actually want her to win. I have a contrarian nature like that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Message in a Bottle

This entry could have been filed under ‘teasing the babies’ category. When I knew the babies were alone, once in a while I would call and leave a message on the answering machine. These answering machines are the type that one could hear the message while it is being recorded. If Abby was at my condo, which was a loft, Abby could hear the message from anywhere in the place. My mom’s house is bigger, but when the babies are alone, they often hang around the kitchen or breakfast room since they can better monitor the door where people enter and exit the house so they can easily hear the answering machine while they are alone in the house.

I would often yell Abby’s name, tell her she’s a good girl and how much I lala’d her. There were times when someone was actually home when I left a message, and they said Abby would poke her head up when she heard her name called. There were other times when the message was played back and Abby would cock her head to the side and quizzically look at the answering machine. I think she knew someone was talking to her and that the someone was me.

There were times when the eccentric behavior was taken up a level and I would ask the person at home to put the phone to Abby’s ear so I could talk to her. She would respond and become alert. Again, I think she knew who was talking to her and she was being spoken to. Andy, on the other hand, was scared. If he heard his name on the answering machine or phone, he would slowly ease out of the room and not return until the event was over. Andy had a lot of issues.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Just Pass."

The other day in class, a student 'passed' when the professor called the student's name. I couldn't believe it! It wasn't a dramatic moment such as that scene with Professor Kingsfield when he gave the student a quarter to call his mother to tell her he wasn't going to be a lawyer. Our professor quietly said 'OK' and picked someone else to carry the ball for that case.

I have to say in the student's defense that this professor doesn't give definite reading assignments on a class-by-class basis. We're given what we're supposed to read for the whole semester at the start of the semester and sort of guess the pace at which we are supposed to read.

Having said that, I'm glad it didn't happen to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Fun in Torts

Reading cases in torts always puts a smile on my face. In one case, an Iowa family 'protected' an uninhabited home they owned by placing a spring loaded shot gun aimed at the front door that would go off when an intruder went through the front door. Well, someone did break in, was shot and subsequently maimed. And yes, he sued that family's ass.

In a similar case in Ohio, a family protected their uninhabited home with dynamite! That definitely goes in the category of 'what the hell were they thinking?!'

So, what did I learn?

1)It's OK to protect people using violent force from intruders in a home.
2)It's NOT OK to protect property using violent force from intruders in a home.
3)In the Midwest, there are some crazy fuckers!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Guilt Trip

Whenever I would return to my mom’s house, one of the joys of coming home was seeing the baby’s heads peeking through the breakfast room window. Of course the babies were ecstatic to see me which was further accentuated by my mom or dad egging them on by saying ‘Who is that?’, ‘Is that Gary?’ or ‘Gary is here.’ Sometimes they would be whipped into such a tizzy that I could hear them crying and whining while I was still outside. By the time I made it to the door, they were there to greet me, sniff and play.

However, the window that they can watch me arrive home could also be used to watch me leave. Leaving them was always a sad event, even if it was just to go to school for a day. They would have long faces and become obviously quiet. If that wasn’t bad enough, they would stand at the breakfast room window and watch my departure. This window afforded a wide view of my mom’s yard including the side and the front. As I entered the car and started down the driveway, I could see their heads looking at the left window. When I was halfway down the driveway, they would shift to the middle window so they could keep an eye on my car, and finally when I rolled onto the street, they would move to the right window and watch me as long as they could. I don’t know if they were trying to make me feel guilty, but I felt guilty nonetheless. After I moved out of site, Abby would slouch down on the floor and pout for 30 min or so while Andy would go bopping into the den with my mom to enjoy his day.

Eventually, this routine ended. Abby was hobbled by arthritis and kept her movements to a minimum so she wouldn’t walk to that window to watch me leave. As guilty as I felt about having them watch me through the window, I would come to miss that ritual when they were no longer able to do it anymore. I felt a little empty and alone when I would glance at those windows only to see nothing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Foxes & Whales

Thank god we have moved on to estates in property. If I have to hear one more goddamned case involving hunting wild animals such as a fox or whale, I'm going to throw something. What an awful pedagogical tool to try to demonstrate the concepts of property law than by using these hunting cases.

What, did these assholes sit around and say 'Hay, let's use examples that no one can relate in activities no one partakes in or even gives a shit about in order to be examples of various concepts in property law. ' Oh well, it looks like these cases are firmly entrenched in the fabric of property law casebooks and that I'm swimming against the current on this one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poor Mrs. Schnible

I didn't think a civpro reading would be funny, but I am wrong. In describing the service of process in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a story is told about the unscrupulous Harry Grossman adroit at personally placing a summons in a defendant's hands. Obviously the bastard didn't make many friends, and the passage describes how defendants have "thrown him down a flight of stairs, shoved him off porches, and he was pinched, slapped, punched and kicked by scores of individuals, and was even beaten up one time by a family of seven."

In the story, the guy lures a widowed, little old lady aged 72 in the grips of the depression and had fallen behind in her mortgage payments and subsequently facing foreclosure. Ol' Harry lured her out of her home by yelling 'Fire', and so served was Mrs. Schnible.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Giggler

It wasn't a bad day. A day without the 'giggler' is actually a good day indeed. I guess I'm settling in now so that common everyday things are starting to annoy me.

One example is the giggler. A few feet from me in the library will sit a couple of people who will talk (or at least try to whisper) for quite a while. I can tolerate that and relegate it to background noise, but there is one woman's giggling that drives me bonkers. All I can do is but to ask her to STFU! But civility and politeness keep me at bay.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Fun in Torts II

These people at the Westboro Church protesting at fallen soldiers funerals push the very limit of my libertarian heart. I knew before I started torts that there would be some cases that would piss me off. I really don't have a horse in this race. I'm not particularly religious but am not anti-religious, not gay or have ever been in the military. Yet for some reason, these guy's boorish, outlandish, and insensitive behavior at a particularly vulnerable time and place in a family's life makes me want to slap the shit out of them.

This case has made its way from a federal district court in Maryland where the family of the fallen soldier initially won $8 million but was later reduced to around $2 million. The 4th circuit court reversed the lower court's rulings and now this case will be heard by the Supreme Court. I really don't know how the justices will vote on this one.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Family Feud

Our generational pride and self-absorbance often leads us to think that what we have faced is unique and new to the whole of mankind. One would think after seeing a few episodes of Jerry Springer that our generation was the first ever to experience the dysfunctional family.

However, after I've read a few dozen cases, there have been some seriously screwed up families well before our time. There were sisters suing sisters; stepson v. stepmom; or even aunt v. niece. The combinations are limitless. By the time the case makes its way to an appeals court or even the Supreme Court, the story is a little stale and old, but I like to think of the discord and drama that must have went on while these conflicts were played out. I'm sure there were some sad stories out there, but I'd like to think of all the theatrics that may have taken place, and I smile a little inside.

My family is not Ozzie and Harriet, but it's not the Manson Family either. We're somewhere in between. Sure, our family has had our share of rowdy-dows, but never, ever has our problems become a federal issue!

It makes me feel a little better about myself and my life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Class Participation

The amount of student participation differs between the three classes of torts, civpro and property. In civpro, people spoke only when spoken to except for the gunners. In property, people tend to be a bit more talkative but in torts people are outright chatty. I suspect we all bring in quite a bit of outside knowledge about torts while in civpro, we bring in next to nothing about that subject.

What worries me about torts is the knowledge we bring in may be distorted, warped and just plain wrong. Honestly, I never knew what assault was until this semester, and I thought assault went hand in hand with battery. They kind of go together, or so I thought, like peanut butter and jelly, ham and eggs, or grits and gravy-- one always went with the other.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Happened to the Old DOS Manual Authors?
Or Why I Hate the Bluebook

Remember those old DOS manuals? Remember when computers actually came with manuals? I've wondered whatever happened to those delightful technical writers who wrote those exemplary pieces of literature that drew so much confusion and consternation to computer users. These manuals would swing between providing so little information about a command that the instruction would be useless, or to including every damned tidbit about the command which again made the instructions worthless.

Well, I think I found where those guys went who use to write those DOS manuals. They are on the editing staff for the legal Bluebooks. When I first picked up a bluebook (and it really is blue), I had a sense of déjà vu. The instructions are so generic that it renders the instructions almost worthless. Thank god for the internet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Abby & Begging

(I don't have any photos of Abby begging, but this one is close enough. Nikki was pretty good at it, too.)

Abby had begging down to a science, an art form, if you will. She knew how to strategically position herself where someone was eating as well as how to give a certain ‘look’ to get that person’s attention. Nothing of Abby’s appearance would suggest subtly, but she knew how to place herself directly in front of the person eating so that the person would be facing Abby and be forced to look at her beg. All of this was done without one’s knowledge until she had staked out her position and locked in on her target. You were forced to acknowledge her just by her positioning alone.

On her last Thanksgiving, Abby tried her best to beg from everyone at the dining room table but with no success. Her next move amazes me still to this day. This overweight dog crippled with arthritis slipped under the table undetected so she could be in the best possible place to get food—directly underneath the middle of the table. No one knew how she got there, and how she was able to sneak under there was funny. When my mom pointed out where she was, we almost congratulated her for her determination and initiative.

But her strategical positioning wasn’t the only tool in her box. Abby could give a look that could evoke so much sympathy and concern for her that you would forget that she was a little fatty who could skip a meal or two. She had this sad, forlorn, long-face that could convince her target that she had been locked in a closet and not fed for days.

The last trick up her sleeve was one of last resort. She would slightly shift side to side. It wasn’t like Andy’s shifting where he looked like he was tap-dancing. Abby’s shift was so coy and yet wasn’t forceful that it would provoke her target. It was a move that said ‘Look at me, please!’

Normally, that would be enough for her to get ‘tumpty’ (something). In the event that didn’t work AND Abby was being ignored, Abby would pull out the big guns and loudly bark at her target in that deep booming voice she had. That would get anyone’s attention. Sometimes in an attempt to tease Abby, I would deliberately ignore her just so I could make her bark. She would be so frustrated, and it was so cute watching her bark like that.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Русский язык

In my sophomore year in undergrad during the second semester, I had a scheduling conflict with my Russian IV and Calculus classes. They were both at the same time, and it looked like I was going to have to take either the Calculus course or Russian at my new school where I was about to transfer the following academic year. It's bad enough having to take such courses but to break up the series between two schools is even worse. I told my Russian teacher, who was actually Yugoslavian, and she gave me the option of 'challenging the course'. I would be able to take the final exam which would be my final grade.

"That sounds wonderful" I thought! So, I signed up for the Calculus course and 'challenged' the Russian course. Things went fine in January, February and March. I was bopping along at a nice and relaxed pace , but when April arrived, the reality of the totality of the exam hit me hard. To say I was fretting would be an understatement. I came close to a full blown panic. "My entire 90min exam...what the fuck?!!!!" I thought. Having one-shot at this set me on edge. I lived through it and vowed I'd never do it again.

Well, guess what, merry sunshine? I'm in law school, and my grades for all of my classes this semester will be determined solely by the final exams. I think in November I'm going to be a nervous wreck!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pennoyer v. Neff
The Nef Reaction

The first case I read was Pennoyer v. Neff in civpro, and I was kind of excited. What a great segue this was going from chemistry to law by having the name of one of the parties in this case also sharing a surname of one of the many 'named reactions' in organic chemistry. There are so many cockamamie named reactions in organic chemistry and we are expected to know them all lest we look like idiots.

Other than the surname in common, there is nothing else similar between a case about personal jurisdiction where the court made a half-assed attempt to notify the defendant about the case and the conversion of a nitro alkane to a ketone. It reminds me of that scene in the Richard Pryor movie Moving when the movers in Idaho posted a note on the front door at Pryor's house after being over a day late, lightly knocking on the door and running back to the truck so they could go off and party.

I wonder how many times the association with the Pennoyer Case and the Nef Reaction have been made?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Housetraining Father

We didn’t have a hard time housetraining Father. Something I noticed about dogs is that they tend to have their ‘spots’ and are reluctant to go anywhere other than their spots. Father was particularly rigid about going to the bathroom at his favorite place. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall ever seeing him doodoo. Maybe this, too, was a result of his living in the wild and his need for discretion. One of the few times I saw when Father had defecated in the house was when I left him alone in the house for over 24 hours. He rarely defecated in the house.

I have seen him urinate but that was to mark his territory. This I saw him do quite a bit. This was also a problem for us. When a male dog marks his territory, he won’t stop doing it. He needs to constantly refresh his mark so that other dogs will know that Father is there, and that place is his domain.

Unfortunately for us, Father chose to mark the carpet in the dining room by the front window facing the street we lived on. We don’t know when Father started marking that dining room but by the time we did find out, the cumulative effect was damaging and noxious. I was down in Raleigh for a visit one summer when my mom prompted me to take a look at where Father had been peeing.

It was nasty. The carpet had a damp feel and a musky odor. Clearly the carpet had to be removed. I took out a utility knife and started cutting up the carpet into pieces. Surprisingly, once the carpet had been torn into, I could easily shred the carpet and rip it up from the floor. I completely removed the carpet from the dining room and living room in about 2 hours, all by myself.

Now comes the moment of truth. How bad was the floor damaged from where Father had been peeing for a while? It was bad. There was mildew, and the floor was permanently stained. My mom had to have the floor sanded and resurfaced. Otherwise, the floor in the remaining parts was in surprisingly good shape. After 30 years or more of carpeting, the hardwood floor underneath was in good shape except where Father had left his mark.
After the floor was redone, Father didn’t mark the dining room floor again. Another thing I noticed about dogs is that they don’t like to urinate on hardwood floors. Maybe the splattering of the pee bothers them and they prefer to piss on a carpet or rug so it can soften the landing of the stream of urine and soak up the piss. Maybe this is why people will put a rug by the commode for guys who don’t aim so well when they pee.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Little Whine & Cynicism.

Last year during the law school application season, I received dozens of emails from schools asking me to apply to theirs often times with an application fee waiver. “How nice of them”, I thought. Before I even set up my LSAC account, I had a good idea of where I wanted to apply and what schools I had a good shot at being accepted and not being accepted. Let’s face it, I’m not Harvard material. I know it; Harvard knows it, and now the whole blogosphere knows it. However, there were some schools sending notices to me that I thought ‘What in the shiddilywho were they thinking?’ These were schools in the top 20. I had no business considering them let alone applying to them yet there they were saying ‘consider us…here is your fee waiver’.

Being the skeptic I am, I wondered why they would ask a long-shot student to apply to their school. A few months later, I found one answer, but I’m sure these schools have many reasons asking students at the bottom end of their academic profile to apply to their programs. The US News & World Report posted their annual law school rankings, and since I was about to go to law school, I took a closer look at their methodology.

There are obvious factors considered in making these rankings such as the average LSAT and GPA of their students. But there was one criterion that led to my “A HA” moment. One criterion was the ‘acceptance rate’. The more selective a school is, the better it looks for the school since the school is more ‘selective’ and as a result helps that school’s ranking. I also realized that these schools could easily manipulate this number simply by asking a whole bunch of people to apply and subsequently denying their admission.

What a devious plan these guys use. They send out a massive email, lure students into thinking they have a shot at admission and ‘BOOM’…DENIED!!! The students get an application waiver while the school massages its data a little giving the illusion of being more ‘selective.’

By the way, I didn’t apply to those two top 20 schools that emailed me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

He Said He Would "Fix Her Clock."

It sounds like the title of a porn movie doesn't it? Who would have thought a case about assault would turn out to be so lewd and lascivious? In this case (Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Hill), the defendant is accused of assault on a female clock repairer. He asked that she come behind the counter so he could 'love and pet her' and that he would "fix her clock."

I can't wait to see how Prof Torts will handle this case and if he'll even acknowledge the double entendre about fixing her clock.