12.29.2006

He's Got Kids to Support

Kevin Federline enters the world of professional wrestling.
Update: K-Fed/Fed-Ex's album voted Least Essential Album of 2006. My favorite part of the review is the description of Federline as a "fauxmie" (faux-homie).

12.27.2006

Yes, That is a Moose Licking Itself



The Fonz

I just answered the question, "What are you doing right now?" with this: "Writing a brief and listening to old Alaska Supreme Court oral arguments."

I may be a law nerd, but I am definitely a cool law nerd -- the Fonzie of the law nerds, if you will. And I don't know what to make of this, but the person to whom I gave the above-quoted response replied with, "That's sexy." Perhaps she is the Laverne of the law nerds?

12.26.2006

Birthday Blogging

12:00 AM: Triple P brought out brownies with candles and the Christmas party crew sang happy birthday to me
12:30 AM: Helped push K-Rock's car out of a mound of snow. It was stuck b/c her 4WD was not working. Turns out, in 2WD the car was able to get out of the snow. In 4WD, not so much.
12:32 AM: Kennedy coined the phrase "Two Wheel Drive is the new Four Wheel Drive."
12:50 AM: T-Money created turducken/stuffing/mashed potato/cesar salad sandwiches.
12:55 AM: T-Money and I ate turducken/stuffing/mashed potato/cesar salad sandwiches.
1:05 AM: Drank some more 44 year old port with Lobo.
1:30 AM: Left the 10th (or 6th or 7th, depending on how you count) annual "This Ain't Your Grandma's Christmas, Bitches!" party
2:00 AM: Kicked it with Hank
3:30 AM: Went to bed.
8:00 AM: Heard phone ringing (why doesn't my mother understand time zones?).
10:00 AM: Heard phone ringing
11:00 AM: Looked at clock
11:00:02 AM: Went back to sleep
11:40 AM: Woke up, grabbed laptop and phone, got back into bed and listened to messages and checked e-mail. Phone calls from my mom, dad, uncle, west coast brother, and a couple of friends, all with birthday greetings. Also received an email from Eloise that helped put everything in perspective and eased some stress I had been feeling. She's really good at that. I like starting the day at 11:40. I like starting the day with messages from Eloise even more.
11:45 AM: Mom called
11:58 AM: Uncle called
12:10 PM: east coast brother called
12:20 PM: got out of bed
12:30 PM: coffee + Christmas dinner leftovers
1:00 PM: canceled plans for afternoon snowboarding due to laziness. rescheduled for nighttime
1:30 PM: canceled plans for night snowboarding due to extreme laziness. made plans for dinner tonight and night snowboarding tomorrow
1:45 PM: time to do some work
4:45 PM: Met up with Kim to go for a hike with our dogs
8:00 PM: Birthday dinner (ordered in Indian food) at my house with Hank, Kim, MaryLou, Petrovsky and K-Rock.
9:05 PM: Hank spills red wine on the carpet.
9:09 PM: Hank and Petrovsky go to store to get cleaning supplies (nothing eliminates red wine stains from carpet like hydrogen peroxide + dish soap) Note: Hank needs to be at the airport in 20 minutes.
9:33 PM: (loading music onto Hank's iPod) Hank: "Madonna? I need Madonna." Petrovsky: "No you don't. The White Stripes De Stijl. Make sure you get that. And Modest Mouse's Lonesome Crowded West. That's a good travelling album." Me: "Done. But he needs Madonna too. He might get into a sticky situation and the Madonna could come in handy." Petrovsky: "Good point. Wouldn't be the first time Madonna thwarted a kidnapping."
9:45 PM: "Hank's iPod project is finished. Wine is cleaned up. Hank is headed to the airport. The dishes are done. The girls are sitting around talking about sex. And I'm 31."
10:30 PM: checked progress of the "grow your own girlfriend" Kim bought me.
10:55 PM: Petrovsky left his debit card, safeway card, costco card, and bank account number on the coffee table.
11:40 PM: Kim: "It doesn't get much worse than this. I'm lying on my ass eating chocolate cake." Me: "And watching CSI."
11:44 PM: As legend has it, my dad bet his friend that I wouldn't be born until December 27. For most of December 26, he was in good shape. Then, late that night, the contractions began. During the delivery he supposedly was yelling at my mom to hold on just a little bit longer. He lost the bet by 16 minutes. The marriage, somehow, lasted over 20 years.
11:45 PM: there is cake on my hoodie

Hank's Plight

Hank (taking a break from frantically getting ready to leave town and figuring out how to use his new iPod): I want to kill someone right now!
Me: What's wrong?
Hank: My brother called me at 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, 6:00, 8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 4:00 and 5:00; he wants me to read something he wrote for his public defender. And my iPod is in Norweigan!
Me: Your iPod is Norweigan? Cool.

(postscript: I fixed Hank's iPod. Apparently, I can read Norweigan. For more on Hank's brother's legal plight, see infra, the post titled "Saturday.")

12.24.2006

Saturday, Con't

I couldn't sit still any longer. I spent a good portion of the aforementioned Saturday working. I'm writing a brief for an Alaska Court of Appeals case in which I am arguing that the Alaska Constitution's unique right to rehabilitation requires the Alaska Department of Corrections to provide in-prison sex offender treatment programs to amenable prisoners. A judge ordered DOC to provide in-prison treatment to two prisoners as part of their criminal sentences. However, DOC eliminated all of its in-prison treatment programs a few years ago. So the question is whether the judge was correct, and DOC has to again provide in-prison treatment, or if the state's plan to provide post-incarceration treatment will suffice. We're hoping that the Court of Appeals finds that the state has to provide in-prison and post-release treatment, which would provide the best rehab opportunities for offenders and will protect the public better than either type of treatment on its own.

So, after several hours of sex offender work, I needed to go outside. I grabbed the dog, trudged through the 14 inches of snow that has dropped in the last 24 hours, and 20 minutes later we were completely alone in the middle of the woods. The cloudy sky and snow-covered ground illuminated everything, making it seem like it was the middle of the day, not 10:30 at night.

We reached the edge of a small cliff and I sat down for a little while and enjoyed the silence. To my left there was a stand of snow covered trees. Straight ahead, a view of Cook Inlet. To my right, through the clouds and fog, I could see the faint lights of downtown Anchorage. After a little while the cold began to seep through my fleece undergarments and not-as-waterproof-as-I-thought-it-was jacket. Plus, my iPod was getting wet. We headed back home, the dog, only about 12 inches off the ground herself, trying to stay afloat in 14 inches of snow, and I attentive to the possibility of moose in the area (as indicated by the fresh tracks next to our own).* I've been pretty lucky with moose, having only been chased twice and only having one other dangerous situation where a big one tried to stomp on my friend's dog. But I always forget to be on the lookout for them.

So, to recap: interesting, important work + lots of snow + the ability to be alone in the woods without having to venture too far from home + moose = I heart Anchorage.

*I'm trying to get better at being on the lookout for moose. I was dating a woman for a while who had a preternatural ability to spot moose when we were hiking with our dogs, so I never really had to worry about it. Really, her skill was quite uncanny and very impressive. But, now that we are no longer seeing each other, I can't take advantage of her skills, and the dog and I must fend for ourselves. I never thought I would say this, but I think I need a woman who is a good moose spotter.

Saturday

  • Got out of bed at 10:15.
  • Spent an hour trying to reconcile a $1300 difference between my online bank statement and the balance in my checkbook. The reason for the discrepancy: I'm an idiot.
  • Went to pick up my suit at the tailor. Rose, the tailor, told me I have nice clothes, but I look sloppy because they are too big. She yelled at me, actually, and even grabbed my sweater, looked at the tag and told me I should by size large instead of extra large. It's a lot funnier when you consider that Rose is a short Korean woman with a very thick accent.
  • Drove to Mr. Prime Beef to buy bones for my dog.
  • Went to my office to reply to a couple of important emails that came in late yesterday.
  • Stopped by the store to buy toothpicks for the appetizer I am making for a Christmas dinner.
  • Came home, ate some food, and started working on a brief that is due next week.
  • Watched Mission Impossible III with my roommate Hank while working on said brief. Tried to follow that up with a showing of My Super Ex-Girlfriend, but Hank's DVD player decided to stop working. If anyone is considering purchasing a Cody DVD player, don't. Have you ever even heard of Cody? This reminds me of the time my dad bought a second-tier VCR and when I asked him about it he said, "It's the same as a Sony. They just use some different parts, like plastic instead of brass." Not quite the "Sony Guts" argument, but close.
  • Talked to Hank about his brother's legal problems. Real quick summary of Hank's brother Larry: He published a newsletter about himself that was so funny that folks at The Onion noticed and they threw a party in his honor; the same weekend he flew to NY for the party, he signed a book deal with Random House, and met and fell in love with a woman who worked at The Onion. He moved to NY, moved in with her, and everything was perfect until Larry came down with an awful case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and couldn't take out the trash or do anything around the house anymore. They broke up, he moved out. They subsequently slept together one more time and she got pregnant. She's now in Texas with the baby, who has a bizarre name that starts with a Z, and Larry is in Florida where he was recently arrested on felony forgery charges. But really, all he is guilty of is being stupid. Without going into the details, I'll just give these tidbits of advice: if someone asks you for help cashing an out of state check, don't. If the whole thing seems fishy, and you wind up asking the clerk at a check cashing establishment if the situation you are in sounds fishy, the answer is yes, it's fishy. If the person who asked you for help cashing the check seemed really nice at first, then started getting angry and mentions that you should listen to him because he has a "9" (a 9mm handgun, for those of you who are as un-street savvy as Larry), that is a hint that things might not be what they seem. The worst thing about this mess is that Larry is allergic to peanuts, and all they were "serving" during the 24 hours he spent in jail was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
  • Went for a walk in the snow with my dog.
  • Got my snowboard gear together for a trip to Alyeska tomorrow.
  • Watched my dog throw up and then eat it.
  • Received a wonderful late-night call from an old friend.

12.19.2006

Spam from Japan

Recently, I have been the lucky recipient of a ton of Asian spam. My spam folder looks like this on a daily basis (you have to click on the picture to get the full effect):Some of the messages are wacky and confusing:
Some are seasonal and festive:
Some are boring:
And some may involve a child phone sex line:

12.14.2006

Wunderbar

I lifted this from the New Yorker. It's just a great story. And I know Ben Wizner, who, if you can believe it, is even funnier in person.

JOYRIDE
By Mark Singer

Among the things that, with only a day’s notice, evidently can’t be procured in New York—not, anyway, at a price that bleeding-heart-liberal mortals would be inclined to pay—is a for-rent luxury convertible sedan. This truth was revealed recently to Ben Wizner and Steven Watt, staff lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, who were determined to help one of their clients, Khaled el-Masri, realize an uncomplicated, if somewhat unlikely, fantasy. On December 30, 2003, Masri, a forty-year-old unemployed car salesman, a Muslim German citizen and the father of four (now of six), boarded a bus in his home town, Ulm, bound for a brief holiday in Macedonia. According to a lawsuit filed on his behalf late last year by the A.C.L.U., the following happened:

At the Macedonian border, Masri’s passport was confiscated. For twenty-three days, he was held in a hotel in the city of Skopje, interrogated, not allowed to contact anyone. Next, he was handcuffed, blindfolded, driven to an airport, severely beaten, stripped, anally probed, dressed in a diaper and tracksuit, placed on a plane, drugged, and flown to Afghanistan, where he was imprisoned for more than four months.

It turned out that Masri’s abductors—the Central Intelligence Agency—had apparently mistaken him for an alleged Al Qaeda operative with a similar name. Two months after the C.I.A. recognized its error, Masri, again blindfolded and handcuffed, was flown to Albania and released. Back in Germany, he retained a lawyer, who was contacted by the A.C.L.U. The subsequent lawsuit, El-Masri v. Tenet, alleges violations of United States and international human-rights law and fundamentally challenges the legality of the C.I.A.’s “extraordinary-rendition” policy.

El-Masri v. Tenet hasn’t progressed very far through the American court system, however. In May, a federal judge granted the government’s motion for a summary dismissal. Late last month, the parties appeared before an appellate court, as the A.C.L.U. argued to reverse that ruling. Masri, who had been denied entry to the U.S. by immigration authorities last winter, managed to attend this proceeding. “I am asking the American government to admit its mistakes and to apologize for my treatment,” Masri has said. In an interview with the Washington Post, he expressed a more mundane wish: “I’d like to drive with the top down in a fancy car through New York City and to look up at all the tall buildings.”

Which is how Masri found himself, the other day, riding shotgun in a convertible for a drive through lower Manhattan. Because no fancy rental vehicle had been available, the car was a 2005 royal-blue Mini Cooper. (Anthony Romero, the A.C.L.U.’s executive director, had agreed to lend it so that the lawyers could surprise their client.) “Now my wish gets fulfilled,” said Masri, who is broad-shouldered, with a curly graying ponytail and gray-green eyes. A Mini Cooper can, reasonably comfortably, accommodate two in the front and a short-legged adult in the back seat—or, in an extreme situation, a fourth passenger. Ludicrous situation: a reporter squeezes in as well.

Rain is on the horizon. As the car, with Watt behind the wheel and Wizner in the back, along with Manfred Gnjidic, Masri’s German attorney, heads north on Water Street, a taxi-driver rolls down his window and says, “You guys must be having a ball. I wish I had a camera.”

Near Pearl Street, with the Brooklyn Bridge beckoning, Wizner debates options: “Don’t do it, Steven. We’ll be pulled over by the cops. . . . You know what, the hell with it. See where it says ‘Passenger Cars Only’? Get on there.”

By Cadman Plaza, a van driver pulls alongside: “You guys fit in one more?” Wizner: “He probably thinks we’re making a commercial.”

Back on the Manhattan Bridge, Wizner says, “Look, Khaled, the Empire State Building.”

“Wunderbar,” says Masri.

“Khaled’s interrogation in Macedonia was entirely in English, which he doesn’t speak,” says Watt. “But he’s learning.” Wizner does a fist bump with Masri and they both say, à la Ali G, “Re-spek.”

Cruising through Chinatown, Masri says (with Gnjidic interpreting), “I can’t decide where to look.” A moment later: “There are a lot of Chinese here.”

Up Lafayette, as it passes the Public Theatre, Wizner gestures to some buildings and says to Gnjidic, “Tell Khaled that if he gets two million dollars, like Brandon Mayfield”—an Oregon man wrongly arrested in connection with the 2004 terror bombings in Madrid—“he can buy a room in one of these buildings.”

Lafayette to Park, then west. Down Fifth for an eyeful of the Flatiron Building (the original reason to look up in New York City), around Washington Square Park, Houston to Broadway. Wizner, who is not the only back-seat passenger to have lost circulation in his legs, says, “You’ve seen a very small part of Manhattan, Khaled. I’ll show you on a map.” The rain arrives. As Watt searches the dashboard for a button to raise the convertible’s roof, Wizner advises, “Just press everything all at once.”

Past the Woolworth Building, City Hall Park, Trinity Church: “We’re very near Ground Zero, Khaled”—very near, in a chain of causation, the source of his nightmare. Traffic barely moving. A truck driver behind the Mini Cooper blasts his horn. “Do you understand, Khaled,” Wizner asks, “why nobody ever drives around New York for pleasure?”

Huh? Who?

The "coldest state with the hottest governor" now has a new attorney general. GILF Sarah Palin appointed this guy as the state's top lawyer. Surprisingly, according to the Anchorage Daily News, he "has no obvious experience in oil and gas cases or criminal law."

That is slightly concerning because the AG is responsible for oversight of the state's prosecutors and because, you know, oil and gas stuff comes up occasionally in Alaska. He is, however, quite the poet:
"In Palmer, I have an orchard and a bench in the orchard. And in September when the buds are dead and the sky is clear enough to see the stars because it's getting dark and it's warm enough to go outside and be comfortable, I go to the orchard. I have 13 lanterns in my orchard. And on a good night, I can sit there, under a canopy of stars, and I can look at the apples as they shimmer on the reflection of the candlelight and I can dream improbable dreams.
"Dreams are important. Ronald Reagan once said everyone has a heroic right to dream great dreams. Gov. Sarah Palin took that set of musings in my mind and the words that had been wonderful sentiments from President Reagan and turned it into a genuine reality in my life for an opportunity I could not have dreamed of."
--Talis Colberg, after being named Alaska Attorney General by Governor Sarah Palin, the hottest governor in the country.
This should be interesting.

12.13.2006

Biblical

Too good to be true: The Old Testament illustrated with...LEGOS!
Some examples:




Loading up the ark.













Non-believers drowning.












Noah sails away, no sweat.

12.12.2006

Poops

I opened the car door and it was instantly apparent. Emma came over and took a whiff. She confirmed: HER DOG POOPED IN MY CAR!

While cleaning it up/spraying air freshener, a somewhat disheveled man started ambling towards us from the other side of the parking lot. He led in with, "I'm sorry to sneak up on you like this, but I just..." I didn't give him a chance to ask for anything. "Dude," I said, "the dog just shit in the car. This isn't a good time." "Oh, sorry," he said and proceeded to knock on the window of the car parked next to us.

Emma asked, "Did you just use the dog pooping as an excuse to not give that guy money?"

Yes, I did. I wasn't in a charitable mood. HER DOG HAD JUST POOPED IN MY CAR!

12.11.2006

Emma on a Log


Cordova, Alaska. Summer, 2005.

Bridges to Nowhere



Million Dollar Bridge. Cordova, Alaska. Summer, 2005









Random bridge. Somewhere north of Willow, Alaska. Fall, 2005.


On The Rocks

I'm going to start posting random photos because I have nothing else to do tonight.


Eloise on the rocks. Post-hearing (where she kicked ass). Juneau, Alaksa. July 2006.

You Called Me

The phone rang, but when I picked it up there was no one there. Just static. The caller ID said it was Viveka so I assumed she would call back. She didn't. So I called her. She claims she didn't call, and according to her, there is no record of the call on her phone. Nor does my phone list the call among its received calls. Weird. The phone definitely rang. It definitely said the call was coming from Viveka. But neither of our phones show the call and she denies making it. This, of course, led to a discussion about whether her phone called me on its own, or if someone else is controlling her phone. Viv is freaked out, of course, and did not find any humour in my suggestions for the title of the inevitable horror movie that will be made about demonic/evil/possessed/terrorist cell phones (you have to use a slow, low, creepy voice for these to be even remotely funny): "Nights and Weekends Free" or "Anytime Minutes."

Bootie Time


These things are awesome.

The Cost of Democracy

Alaska State Senator Tom Anderson was indicted on charges of bribery, extortion, and money laundering. Anderson is accused of accepting $13,000 in bribes from a lobbyist representing private prison interests. If convicted on all counts, he faces about 95 years in jail and over $2 million in fines.

Obviously, he won't be convicted of everything, and he won't serve the maximum sentence, but he is still going to pay a hefty fine and do some time. Unless he rats somebody out. Which is entirely possible because there is all sorts of political corruption in Alaska right now that Anderson may have had his greedy little hands in. Anderson, who has always been shady (see, e.g., three children with three different women), may have been into something even bigger and may be able to cut a deal if he has dirt on, say, a member of the Corrupt Bastards Club. Yes, the Corrupt Bastards Club; a self-named group of state legislators who pride themselves on being corrupt fucking bastards. Existence of the CBC came to light at the end of the Summer when the FBI raided the offices of several Alaska legislators in conjunction with an investigation involving campaign contributions and Veco, an oil services company. They even have hats and T-shirts. The hubris of corrupt politicians is amazing. Assholes.

Back to Anderson: the story is great. Basically an FBI informant associated with a corrections company gave FBI money to a lobbyist who passed it on to Anderson in exchange for his support for a proposed private prison in Alaska. In order for the bribe to not appear to be a bribe, the money was funneled through a dummy corporation and Anderson was supposed to write articles for some trade publication, or something like that. But he never did. And he's caught on tape saying all sorts of incriminating things.

His current wife
, however, is at least smarter than he is. She is a newly-elected state senator, and she is doing her best to distance herself from him, claiming everything that he is accused of happened before they were married. Also, she has been suspiciously absent from the state recently. There are reports that she is in California recovering from nasal surgery and is not allowed to fly (doctor's orders, allegedly).

To conclude, Tom Anderson trashed his life and reputation and ruined his political career for 13 grand. 13 grand?! Really? That's it? Who knew you could buy a senator for so little?

We'll have to wait to see how this plays out, but I am hoping for ironic justice: Wouldn't it be great if Alaska finally built the private prison Anderson lobbied for and he had to serve time in it?

Bueller?

When I was a kid, we were "allowed" 20 absences per year from school. Beyond 20, I'm not sure what happened...you probably had to convince them that you shouldn't be left back. 20 absences was about 11% of the 180-day school year. This seems like a fair cut-off before the school administration should get concerned about a student's attendance.

I always missed at least 20 days of school, from fourth grade through high school. I think in sixth grade I peaked, missing about 40 days, mostly because I just didn't like my teacher (Mrs. Szarka), and I didn't feel like going that often. The attendance policy gave me the opportunity to shorten the school year, and I took it. I'm not really sure how I pulled it off. My dad travelled a lot during the week, so I just had to convince my mom that I was too sick to go in. Either I was a great actor/liar (I was), she thought her son was sickly, or she just didn't care. Maybe it was a combination of all three. In the end, I never had to repeat a grade, I learned what I needed to learn, and I got good grades.

Fast-forward 15 years. My job provides me with 10 sick days per year (in addition to regular vacation time).** If you don't use the sick days by the end of the year, you lose them; they do not accrue from one year to the next, so I try to use them all up. Fortunately, the sick leave policy does not contain a definition of "sick," though if you miss more than three straight days you need a doctor's note -- do doctor's even write notes anymore or do they just email like the rest of us? My definition of the term sick is quite broad. It includes "tired," "not feeling well," "feel like I might be getting sick," "depressed," "just plain beat," "stayed up late last night," "hungover," and "I was sick this weekend so I didn't really get to take a day off and I am taking it now."

Aside from the last one, I think these are all legitimate reasons for taking a sick day, but it raises another issue: whether it is okay to take a sick day in order to stave off being sick. As a practitioner of "preventive self care," I'm going to say "yes."

Also, Screech has a sex tape.

**The office I work in had no sick leave policy before I started working there. If you were sick, you had to use your vacation time if you wanted to take the day off. But, since employees did not start out with a lump sum of vacay time at the beginning of the year, but rather had to accrue it over time, you could wind up borrowing against your vacation time if you were sick. The other employees at my office were not concerned (they had been there for a while and had plenty of leave) or were convinced that the Board of Directors would never change the policy. I made a pitch to the Board, the crux of which was "healthy employees are good for business," and cited a few studies about the spread of workplace illness and voila, 10 extra vacation, er, sick days.

12.09.2006

5 to 1

Those are the odds, as of this writing, that the Mets will win the 2007 World Series. According to the Vegas oddsmakers, they have the second best chance to win, just behind the Yankees at 4 to 1.

Winston, a colleague who specializes in drug law reform, called me tonight from Vegas to see if I wanted to put some money on the Mets to win the World Series next year and to follow up on a discussion we had on a conference call yesterday. Winston also explained a new card game he invented. With much anticipation, I introduced the game during a poker gathering at my house tonight. Winston's game sucked.

Eloise used to work with Winston, and we worked on a case together last summer. We became friends and we still keep in touch. I always let her know whenever Winston says or does something funny. So a few days ago I informed her of this exchange:
Me: Are you okay? You sound like you have a bad cold.
Winston: No, I'm fine. I just got back from a Chinese buffet and I have some gyoza stuck in my throat.

12.07.2006

SCOTUS

I practice constitutional law for a living. Consequently, I get to work on some pretty interesting cases -- more interesting than, say, the stuff the average insurance defense or workers' comp attorney deals with. For instance, one of the cases I have been working on for the past couple of years involves these things: the Olympics, a device used for smoking marijuana (though some may claim it is for tobacco use only), Coca Cola, the Son of God himself, and a high school student's right to free speech. We won the case, but the opposing party retained Kenneth Starr and appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States ("SCOTUS" as we law nerds like to call it). The Supremes agreed to hear the case, so within the next three months the case will be briefed and argued before the Court. This is an important case, and the outcome will affect the ability of America's public school students to speak their minds and may re-shape an important area of constitutional law. But, more importantly, this will be the first time any sitting Supreme Court justice utters the words "bong hits" and "Jesus" in the same sentence.

On The Bandwagon

This is my first blog entry, but my Blogger profile says "On Blogger Since February 2004." I started another blog two years ago. I got as far as coming up with the title. Hopefully this one goes a little better; but with this one post, I guess it already has.