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11:36am 09/03/2010
   
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shotguns   
04:10pm 22/07/2009
 
mood: impressed
When the zombie apocalypse comes, I want this guy on my side.

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/07/22/shotgun-expert-shows.html
 
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birthday!   
02:16am 27/06/2009
 
mood: good
This has been a pretty awesome birthday.

As anyone who's talked to me lately knows, I was assigned a largish project at work last week. Of the handful of staff lawyers working at my organization, one is out on grand jury duty and another is out on paternity leave, so we've been pretty short-staffed, and so when this project came in she basically called me in and said, "Deal with this." Long story short, I've been working my butt off for the past week or so, and managed to get everything done today just under the deadline.

(Which, by the way, ended up being at 6pm instead of 11:59pm because the FCC refused to take electronic filings for this project -- I found that out at 4pm and still managed to get everything done. Whew!)

People have been pretty uniformly surprised at how much work I've been putting in -- I have the impression that it's pretty unusual for an intern to have the degree of responsibility I did on this project. She told me that as a thank-you, I could have my pick of projects for the rest of the summer and have two extra vacation days to take whenever I want. More importantly, to me at least, I got a credit on the FCC filing -- my name is listed next to those of the legal team, which is pretty unusual given my temporary position with the group. More importantly still, I've got massive goodwill from my boss, which is always a Good Thing.

Maybe I have a martyr complex, but there's something strangely satisfying about having to work on my birthday. I guess it's kind of an ego trip -- the whole "there's no one else who can do this so we need you to make this sacrifice," gives me a feeling of importance.

Anyway, we managed to get everything wrapped up in time for me to enjoy part of my birthday! I went out for a beer with Jef, one of the lawyers I work with. I like him a lot, though he's got this aura of California cool and I kind of feel like I'm not quite cool enough to hang out with him. He's pretty awesome, though, and we had a good time talking over beer. After that I headed over to another bar to meet some folks for dinner and, well, more beer, and afterwards went to a rooftop party that appeared to consist of every Michigan student in the DC area gathered into one place. I got to see a bunch of friends I haven't seen all summer, which was great, and then I ditched out of the party early to go get myself an espresso drink at my coffee place. Because coffee is really much more my speed than beer any day of the week. And the barrista gave it to me free as a birthday drink!

Sigh. Good day. What more could I ask for?
 
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08:29pm 02/06/2009
 
mood: thoughtful
So, quick summary of my first year of law school: holy god, that was a lot of work. I was working 16 hour days (no joke) from mid-March until May 8, the day of my last exam, and then working halfheartedly on my journal submission for the week after that. I'm still trying to catch up on personal correspondence (including LJ) for the entire semester.

I'm in DC now for the summer, working for Public Knowledge. If you haven't heard of them, they're a public interest advocacy organization focusing individual rights in the digital age -- pretty much exactly what I want to do. They mostly work on copyright and telecommunications stuff. I'm supposed to do some blogging for them this summer on publicknowledge.org, which should be neat.

My feeling for the first few days has been: "So this is what it's like to enjoy your work!" The people are all great. It's not just the people at PK; I've met a bunch of folks from Google, EPIC, Yahoo, and other "key players" in tech law. There's been a good sense of camaraderie and goodwill, even when people disagree on issues. I guess this is the political process at work, from the inside.

I spent today at CFP (Computers, Freedom, and Privacy), an annual conference on... well, you've probably guessed. It was pretty freaking awesome -- I got to have lunch with Bruce Schneier and spend the day attending panels on a bunch of tech-law issues like cybersecurity and privacy, which is the kind of stuff I've been interested in since I was little. (Heck, I went into algebra in large part because I wanted to do work with cryptography.) The only "disquieting" thing was that... well, I've been reading The Stand for the first time, and the bad guys have these necklaces that are made of a black stone with a red scar in it that's shaped like an eye, or maybe a key. The CFP logo?



I actually like DC a lot more than I expected, although I miss lirelyn terribly. I'm living in a house with a few other folks who seem pretty decent, though my room is basically empty except for a mattress and a few piles of my junk on the floor. (Not that her being here would magically make furniture appear, but it's just not home without her.) Still, the weather isn't too hot yet, there's decent public transit, and the people are a lot friendlier than I would've thought. And I think I know a lot more people around here than I had expected.

Plus, I get to play dress-up whenever I want! Seriously, if you try walking around in the Midwest in a suit, you get looks. Around here, it's par for the course.
 
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03:32pm 24/04/2009
 
mood: sigh
Walking to school just now, I passed by a house with about half a dozen college girls in bikinis on the front lawn. "Hey, wanna come do a beer bong with us?" they asked.

Yes. Yes, I do. Unfortunately, I have a exam this weekend that I have to study for (and a lirelyn who would probably not be terribly happy with me) so I will instead spend the day in the dark, dank reading room instead of outside playing in the sun.
 
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nuisances   
10:01pm 25/01/2009
  I've really been in a pretty foul mood for the past few days. Rather than getting all our grades at once, the school posts them as they receive them from the professors, which is a great way to spread bad news over a long period of time. I didn't do nearly as well in any of my classes as I expected, resulting in basically a four day span of depressing news.

Plus, one of our professors decided to send out an assignment on Friday night for a five-page research paper due Tuesday. I haven't looked at it yet. I'm mildly offended by the short notice, and coupled with my sour mood from last semester's grades, I'm not inclined to feel very productive.

I tried to log into WoW to relax a bit, and found that there was more than an hour's wait to get on. I wouldn't find that so irritating, but Blizzard just recently offered free character transfers between servers, and shut them down early because they said enough people had moved. I try not to criticize game companies when there are problems, because running those kinds of things can be pretty challenging. But if hour-long waits are the intended norm, then it really looks like Blizzard's server admins are grossly incompetent.

I guess I've been kind of on edge lately. I mean, I feel like these are all valid complaints, but I can't shake the feeling that there's some underlying cause for my ill temper. I was in sort of ill spirits for my visit to Chicago last weekend, as well.
 
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misc   
07:21pm 29/12/2008
 
mood: relaxed
Since the last day of finals, I've been in hardcore relaxation mode. I have a bunch of work that needs to get done soonish, but I'm still sort of decompressing. It's strange to think it was only a week and a half ago that I was staring down a constitutional law exam. It feels like a different world.

The ridiculous weather has probably added to the feeling. There was a foot and a half of snow on the ground when we left our apartment just before Christmas; the day after Christmas, it was almost 70 degrees here.

G and I came back to Ohio to spend the holidays with her parents. They got me some things for Christmas, which was novel: I don't normally get gifts for Christmas. They got me a few books I'd been wanting off Amazon and a nice bottle of scotch, and I really couldn't ask for a better gift.

Not getting gifts probably sounds a little depressing, but it's really not, at least for me. My family doesn't really have the money to spend on me, and I'm hard to shop for anyway -- I have particular tastes, and if I want something, then I tend to buy it for myself. If I don't, odds are it's expensive enough that I'd feel uncomfortable having someone else buy it for me anyway.

Plus, while I love the idea of getting presents, it's rare that the reality lives up to my expectations. A wrapped present is a universe of potential: there could be anything inside! Until you open it, that colorful box could hold the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle you've always wanted. It's not until after you open it that you discover it's actually full of socks and underwear Aunt Martha got you again this year. So, as much as I love the idea of presents, the reality is never quite satisfying.

Maybe that's a pessimistic view of Christmas. Shopping for me is a punishment I wouldn't wish on anyone. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.

Anyway.

I've been spending my relaxation time doing what I love best, which is to say reading and playing video games. I'm reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (one of my presents.) They're both excellent. I've started the former several times, but I always get derailed when he starts talking about philosophy; I invariably set the book aside to go read the philosophers he references, then put those aside because they don't hold my attention well. Interestingly, both of them keep coming back to "concept vs. reality" dualism (whatever you want to call it -- I still think of it as rationalism vs. empiricism, since I was first introduced to the idea in college through Descartes and Hume.) It's a little funny that such different books talk about the same topic, but I guess it's a universal enough idea that it shouldn't surprise me.

In a few days, I'll have to re-immerse myself in class prep and other work, but for now, I'm in a little slice of heaven.
 
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MMOs   
12:28pm 11/12/2008
 
mood: aghast
To those who think World of Warcraft eats up too much time: meet Final Fantasy XI.

http://rukenshin.livejournal.com/17133.html

Skip down to just past "dispelling rumors" to see what I'm talking about.

On a similar note, I took my criminal law exam. It was MURDERous! (Yuk yuk yuk.) Seriously, though, it was pretty rough -- eight hours of exam with no break for lunch, and I ran out of time and didn't have a chance to fully edit it. The worst part may be that I won't know how I did for a couple months, because grading 90-odd of those exams takes forever.
 
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dream   
03:20pm 09/12/2008
  I had a bad dream -- I hesitate to call it a nightmare -- this morning that woke me up. I dreamed that I had gone in to take my Criminal Law exam, only it turned out to be mostly physics and special relativity, and my classmates were the upper level math and physics students from undergrad.

Honestly, I'd almost prefer if the test tomorrow were special relativity -- I think most of the people in my class are here to get away from math.

Tomorrow morning marks my first law school exam. Wish me luck!
 
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Obama   
03:46pm 18/11/2008
 
mood: busy
In spite of my efforts to post more, I've been largely unsuccessful. Partly -- in large part -- that's due to the volume of work I have from school, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit part of it was due to video games and the release of the WoW expansion.

Anyway, I think I'm probably the last blog in the US to have no posted on Obama's win, so here goes:

I don't think it's a big deal.

Allow me to explain.

I'm as sick of eight years of Bush rule as anyone, and I'm really happy Obama won. He's had no more vocal proponent than myself. I contributed my money (and more importantly to me, my time) to the campaign, which isn't something I've ever felt remotely inclined to do for a politician running for office. I've been following him since his speech at the 2004 DNC; when I heard him talk, I thought, "God, why don't the Democrats have someone like THAT running for president? Maybe he can run in 2012 after Hilary's had her shot in 2008?" What I'm trying to say is that I'm tremendously excited about his win, and I don't mean to downplay it.

People seem to be making a big deal out of the fact he's black, though, which I think is largely a nonissue. Yes, racism still exists today, but it's only a fraction of what it once was, and continues to diminish. Most of what we see these days that gets called racism is really classism in disguise.

A few years back, Jesse Jackson (of all people) commented that when he walked down the street at night, and discovered someone following him, he was relieved to find that it was a white person and not a black person. I don't really believe anyone would be worried if they discovered the person following them, white or black, was in a suit, rather than wearing "thuggish" attire. There's still a disproportionately large number of blacks who are lower class, so the issue isn't entirely divorced from the race, but I'm pretty convinced race is a superficial element and not an underlying cause.

Obama's not remotely lower class. He was a law professor and a senator. That's not a criticism; I want an educated and intelligent person heading the executive branch. But having an upper class black man instead of an upper class white man as president doesn't seem like it's revolutionary.

I'm really looking forward to being able to use the phrase "President Obama" come January 20. It gives me hope for the future. (And not having to worry about the damage Palin would do is a HUGE load off my mind. Hopefully he can undo some of the massive damage the current administration has done; it won't be easy.) I just don't believe his status as the first black president is the monumental precedent that people seem to be making of it.
 
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voting   
12:33pm 04/11/2008
 
mood: sick
I voted last week. I was supposed to be working voter protection today, but I woke up at 5:30 this morning to go to the polls and discovered I felt sick and awful. (And not just from waking up at 5:30 am.)

I'm disappointed that I'm not going to get to help make sure people's votes are counted today, but lying on the couch reading people's voting experiences on LJ is some consolation.
 
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law, narrative   
10:53pm 06/09/2008
 
mood: thoughtful
I went ahead and grabbed delegelata for my law school posting. Honestly, I'd rather set up an off-site WordPress account (or similar) and an RSS feed, but I don't really have the time or energy to deal with that and classes at the same time.

I definitely have law school on the brain, though. I had a Star Trek/law school dream last night in which I was arguing Federation law with Picard on the Enterprise. I don't know what brought that on -- I haven't seen an episode of Star Trek in forever -- but there you have it. (I'm hoping I can take Romulan Law as an elective next year, but I bet it fills up pretty fast.)

I've been thinking a lot about narrative structure lately. I ordered a copy of Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces off Amazon, and it showed up earlier this week, so I've been picking at it in my free time. The prologue was pretty weak -- he makes a lot of references to Freud and claims some pretty indefensible things, I think, about some of the symbolism in narrative -- but I'm starting to get to the meat of the book. It seems like the structure that he claims is universal to all narratives really is pretty ubiquitous.

What really piqued my thinking about narrative is Polaris, a mostly freeform RPG we played a bit while lirelyn and I were visiting Chicago last weekend. The setting is loosely defined; essentially each player plays a knight whose civilization is doomed, and tells the story of their knight's actions and feelings in these last days as they fight to preserve the little remaining beauty and civilization. It's a four player game; in each scene, one player plays the protagonist (that player's knight), while the other three play the antagonists, close personal acquaintances, and casual acquaintances respectively, and are responsible for creating interesting conflict for the protagonist to resolve. The game uses very formalized, ritualized language, which makes everything that takes place in the game have a kind of poetic feel to it.

As a consequence of both the book and the game, I've been thinking about what elements make for a good story and what elements make for interesting characters. We didn't get to play very much of Polaris, because we kept putting it off and doing other things, then ran out of time to play more than 1-2 scenes per person. Still, it was interesting enough to bear my reflection on it for the week since we played.
 
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pre-orientation   
10:01pm 25/08/2008
 
mood: thoughtful
So I've decided I am going to try to collect my law-school-ish posts in some venue other than this journal. Details forthcoming.

Today was an auspicious day for the start of my law student career. I was able to track down the information I needed and get to my course registration appointment on time. Courses for law students are pretty much predetermined for the first year, so registration consisted of picking up the list of course sections they had enrolled me in. Best part? I somehow managed to avoid getting any 8am sections, which I'd been dreading all summer. It's like they know me or something!

The second bit of serendipity came in the form of an empty locker. There are lockers available (as I was informed while picking up my course registration) in the basement of the law building, on a first-come, first-serve basis, intended primarily for commuters such as myself. Of course, since I was one of the last people they met with that day, there was a paucity of lockers available: maybe a dozen of the five hundred or so in the building were still open. But my math skills sufficed to tell me a dozen is greater than zero, which meant I was able to lay claim to one. Having a locker will make things MUCH easier on me biking in every day.

Orientation doesn't officially start until Wednesday. Tomorrow: a heap of errands so large that it would make Hercules happy he only had seven labors.
 
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11:50pm 24/08/2008
 
mood: tired
Thanks for those who replied to the previous post. I didn't really intend for it to be a comment-whoring post, but in retrospect, it probably seemed like one.

The past couple of days have been mostly me relaxing and enjoying my last bit of time before school starts. Orientation stuff begins this week, so today has had chunks of "OH GOD NOT READY YET NEED TO DO X" interspersed. I did get a slight reprieve, in that the full-on orientation doesn't start until Wednesday. However, it turns out I'm missing some information (my pre-assigned section number) that was apparently sent to me but which I never received, so tomorrow will be an early day of me hunting down the right people to talk to to straighten things out.
 
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reflections   
02:21am 22/08/2008
 
mood: thoughtful
It's been inexplicably difficult to write on LiveJournal for the longest time, now. I'll think to myself, "I should post something to let the people in internet-land know what's going on with my life," and then I don't. I can't bring myself to, somehow. It's strange.

I think that partly, it's because I started getting extremely paranoid about how much information was available about me online when I started at my last job. That's sort of stuck with me through the present day. While a lot of my older entries may still reveal quite a bit of information about me, I'm a lot more conscious (and self-conscious) about what I say about myself nowadays.

Partly, too, I suppose I wonder how many people I know actually read any of this. After a falling-out with a number of people a few years back, the volume of my interactions online, especially on LJ, dropped off rather drastically. There's something to be said for investing the time and energy to accumulate a huge list of friends, but I really don't know that I have it in me anymore, especially when the people I try to stay in touch with are scattered to the four winds of social networking sites.

And partly I don't post much because of video games. That was much more legitimately the case when I worked full-time, spent several hours a night at kung fu, and often played WoW for most of the rest of the night. It really came down to, "Do I play video games or do I make an LJ post?" Right now, I have ample time to do whatever I want, and some part of me wants to write, but it still doesn't happen.

At any rate, I've been thinking about all of this, and I'm not sure that it's leading me to any definite conclusions or insights. I do want to make an effort to chronicle what's going on in my life, both for myself and those who know me. I know I, at least, like hearing about my friends' lives, even if I mostly lurk these days. On the other hand, classes start in a week and a half, and I may find myself "reading and writing"ed out. I've thought about trying to record my experiences at school (a la inked_caduceus at med school) but I'm not sure I'll have the energy or dedication to keep up with it.

It's kind of funny; when the Web was first becoming the Next Big Thing, I remember being among the first to have a web presence, and how engaged I was in the process. Now, I still feel some inkling of that same urge, but I find myself utterly stymied when I go to put any effort into making web pages or blog posts. Not uninterested, just... incapable, disconnected. Almost overwhelmed. It's very strange.
 
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auld lang syne   
08:44pm 28/06/2008
 
mood: good
Today has been a day of extraordinary circumstance. From the beginning:

Saturday night each week, I typically go play Magic with my friends. lirelyn spent last night at her parents' place, and didn't want to drive back into town if I was going to be out all night, so I had the afternoon to entertain myself. There's a wine- and beer-tasting every Saturday wherein a number of my local acquaintances meet up, but I don't usually make an appearance because drinking a bunch doesn't mix well with driving to my friend's place for cards.

Today, though, I decided to wander over to the wine-tasting a bit earlier in the afternoon, giving me time to recover before driving, then order some dinner to go from the Thai place before I hit the road. Tonight ended up being a special treat -- they had a sake-tasting as well, so I got to try a sampler of fancy sake. More to the point, I ran into one of my friends from my old comic book shop days, Davy Crockett. (Yes, that's really his name.) I haven't seen him in at least ten years, probably closer to twelve. We hung out and chatted about old times until I got hungry enough to head off to order dinner.

Running behind due to meeting an unexpected friend, I got to the restaurant during the dinner rush, and had to wait half an hour for my food to be prepared. Fortunately, there's a good cafe right next door, so I popped in to order a mocha. While there, I bumped into a woman I'd seen around my apartment building.

Side story: the other day, I accidentally got off the elevator in our building at the wrong floor, and tried to let myself into the wrong apartment. It turns out she lives one floor below me. While excusing myself for trying to break into her apartment, I noticed that I recognized the surname on the door, but didn't think to ask about it at the time.

Seeing her at the cafe, I said, "Your last name is Saidel? Are you related to Burt Saidel, by any chance?" And she pointed up to the register, where her father, Burt, and his wife were paying for coffee. I introduced myself to him, and asked if he remembered my grandfather. Not surprisingly, he did -- the two of them were like brothers. They ran a dental practice together for a number of years and were the closest of friends. They were *overjoyed* to talk to me. We'd met once before, at my high school graduation, but never really talked since. I got to hear some wonderful stories about my grandfather, and an invitation to come visit before I head to law school.

Life is a funny thing, when accidentally trying to let yourself into the wrong apartment leads you back to a generations-long family friendship. Really, what a wonderful evening.
 
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like space ants   
08:02pm 21/06/2008
  FREEDOM! HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FREEDOM!

... not so horrible, actually.
 
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dreams   
01:54am 17/06/2008
 
mood: sleepy
I had the oddest recurring zombie apocalypse dreams last night.

I'm pretty sure I've never uttered that phrase before.

I don't remember a great deal about it. There was some kind of plague that turned people into the walking dead, and I'm pretty sure lirelyn was in it as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Excepting the Buffy part, I may have just had a private screening of The Happening.

I generally tend not to talk about my dreams, for several reasons. First, I don't tend to remember them very often. Second, even when I do, it's been my experience that hearing about other people's dreams never really does much for me. I find it hard to pay attention when people describe their dreams. So much of any dream is connections entirely in one's own head that it's hard for someone else to follow. The experience of having a dream is interesting; the description of a dream tends to not be.

I mention it mainly for two reasons:
1. At least two other people on my f-list had some flavor of zombie apocalypse dreams last night, which is an odd coincidence, and
2. It was disturbing enough that I was actually glad to get out of bed to my alarm this morning. (I mean, I hit the snooze button, but still.) I'm pretty sure I had the same or similarly-themed dreams three or four times last night, and by the last time, the sense of foreboding was pretty awful.
 
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obligatory drunken post   
11:47pm 06/06/2008
 
mood: drunk
lirelyn</lj> was kind enough to take me out to dinner at our local Mexican restaurant, Elsa's -- by which I mean she offered to drive home so I could have a couple of their killer margaritas. Those things are ridiculous, let me tell you. Two pretty much knock me on my butt, and I come from a long line of drunkards (read: Scotsmen.)

At any rate, I'm posting now, because I never seem to be able to find time to when I'm sober. Funny how that works.

There's a great sense of upheaval in my life at the moment. Part of that is just from today. Aronne, one of my oldest and closest friends, just left his job at the company where we both worked and shared an office. It wasn't exactly unexpected -- heck, I'm leaving in two weeks -- but it's strange to no longer be working together after several years.

And yes, as I mentioned, I'm leaving in two weeks, as I accepted the offer at the law program. We'll be moving at the end of July.

Honestly? I'm terrified. I keep telling people it's because of the money, and the debt -- it's $45k a year plus living expenses, and most of that is coming from student loans. After three years, that's O($130k) that I'll be in debt, which is a frightening thought. It's more than the debt, though.

Assuming I end up with a decent law-based job, I should be able to pay off the loans after a couple of years. It's the fact that I'm basically locked in for about 8 years -- 3 of coursework and another 5 of work-work -- to pay off my debt. I don't like being locked into a long-term course of action like that. Life's too short. I mean, I got a master's degree in St. Louis, but that was only two years, and that was almost too long. Plus, that paid ME to be there, rather than the other way around. Even if I ended up being wrong about wanting to go to my MA program, I'd wind up being in the black because I'd've been paid for my time there. For law school, I'm paying for my own time, and not a small amount. I'm pretty sure it's the right thing to do -- it feels right -- it just goes against my risk-averse nature to take this kind of a gamble.

Anyway, I should probably go off and drink more water and play more piano badly (drunk, remember) before I try to head to bed. At least the room's not spinning anymore.
 
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on biking   
01:12am 05/05/2008
 
mood: amused
The weather today was a little cool, but the sunshine was gorgeous, so I decided to go biking.

Sometimes people catcall or shout obnoxious things when you're biking on the street (as opposed to the sidewalk, which you're not supposed to do, but not everyone realizes it.) It doesn't happen terribly often, but it does happen. Today, however, I got a different kind of catcall. I had pulled up to a stop at one of the traffic lights, when I heard a woman's voice shout:

"HEY BABY, HOW BIG IS YOUR DICK?"

I turned to look behind me, and discovered two reasonably attractive college-aged girls -- and I can think of no more accurate word -- leering at me from the car behind me. Positively disconcerting. I swear, nowhere else I've been have people acted like they do in this town. I mean, I'm sure girls have to deal with it from guys, but it's not something I have a great deal of experience with.

Anyway, I reacted the only way I could think of -- I held up my hands a couple feet apart (to wild cheering from the car behind me), nodded suggestively*, and took off like a shot when the light changed.


*As suggestively as possible wearing a bicycle helmet.
 
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