6.30.2007

iMightnothavetowaitsolong

The iPhone may be available in Alaska sooner than we expected. This is good news because after reading the early reviews, I want one bad. This should give me about 6-8 months to sell enough blood to afford one.

More importantly, AT&T's pending purchase of Cellular One means another fabulous feature is finally coming to Alaska: rollover minutes.

6.29.2007

Cottage Cheesy

My mystery subscription to Cottage Living Magazine continues. Another issue arrived yesterday. In this one, Eleanor Griffin, the magazine's Editor-in-Chief, provides the top 10 reasons she loves back porches in the Summer:
  1. you can read light fiction, a/k/a a trashy novel, in your oldest T-shirt without being discovered;
  2. you don't have to put on makeup;
  3. no worries about sunburn--but heartburn may be another issue (see #4);
  4. food tastes better when you are eating on a porch...
  5. ...except when a dive-bombing fly with a wicked wingspan crashes the party;
  6. fresh air trumps a 65-degree meat locker any day (and is better for the environment);
  7. need a nap? listening to the trees rustle in the breeze is nature's answer to Ambien;
  8. you have the best seat for nature's light show: fireflies!
  9. it's the one room where my preferred apple is a Granny Smith, not my Macintosh laptop;
  10. the world seems to slow down, so you can relax and spend time with Creating Cottage Style our special issue, on newsstands July 24!
The snarky comments can write themselves.

Admission

I think I'm addicted to Top Chef.

Droppin' Links

Hmmm, Things That Make Yo Go

Having recently discussed our mutual fascination/disgust with what "celebrities" have in their refrigerators, The New Girl came over last night to watch an MTV Cribs marathon.[fn1] We were not disappointed. Do you know who Brooke Valentine is? Neither did we. But we learned that her refrigerator is filled with nothing but Crunk Juice Energy Drink and frozen pizza. And she has a motorcycle she can't ride, a heart-shaped guitar in her bathroom, 2 tiny dogs, boxing gloves, and she lives in the same condo complex as her record producer (who helps her walk the dogs, and who, I'm speculating, she has slept with at least once). Oh, and she has a custom-designed Crunk mini-fridge next to her bed. Yes, next to her bed. Classy.

This should help those of you who have no idea what Crunk (or Krunk) is. In other Crunk/Krunk-related news, the nation's second-most prominent professional basketball league, the Continental Basketball Asssociation, has a team called the Atlanta Krunk. I don't know what's funnier--the fact that the Krunk is owned by Freedom Williams (the guy from C+C Music Factory) or that it currently has no players.
______________
[fn1]: While we are discussing cribs, Matt Geiger, former journeyman NBA center, is living large--real large. But I wonder why a 7-foot tall guy has a miniature horse?

6.27.2007

pictobrowser test: malawi

Pictobrowser seems like a pretty cool tool to use for uploading and sharing photos. I'm playing around with it and thought I'd test it out with some heretofore unpublished Malawi pictures:


iEnvious

People are freaking out about the iPhone, which goes on sale Friday at 6 pm. This guy has been camping out at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue since Monday. On Craigslists all over the country, people are buying and selling positions in line to buy one.

You won't find such a cottage industry in Alaska--the iPhone will not be sold here because AT&T/Cingular does not offer wireless service in the 49th state, though there are ways to circumvent this technicality and obtain a (temporarily) working iPhone in Alaska.

I'm not terribly disappointed. I couldn't afford one even if they were sold here. But I'm definitely a burgeoning tech nerd, I love shiny new toys, and I'm a sucker for anything with the Apple logo on it (as I had to explain to The New Girl when she came over the other night and found me lying in bed tinkering with two Macs. Apparently, the thought of owning a backup laptop had not occurred to her--but she still buys CDs and doesn't know how to use an iPod. I'm not sure how much longer this is going to last.), and I'm getting to the point where I need (rather than want) mobile e-mail and web access. Perhaps I'll pick up a tPhone instead.

B*** H*** 4 Jesus

For those of you who asked, this is what the banner actually looked like:

As for its location, it is safely tucked away in my co-counsel's office in Juneau. I'm going to talk to him and our client about selling it on E-Bay.

There has been a lot of discussion about the new War on Drugs Exception to the First Amendment created by this case. I've got some stuff to say about it as well, and I'll post some thoughts soon. In the meantime, Greg Bosen has created a banner that would be constitutional under the Supreme Court's ruling:

Boing Boing has a few other suggestions. It's still an open question as to whether my mom's banner would be constitutional.

FNYPL8

Someone at the DMV was either clueless or has a great sense of humor. I just saw this license plate: BLOME.

Alas, I fear BLOME is not long for this world. Much like the XONSUX situation,[fn1] someone is likely to call the DMV and complain.
_____________
[fn1] Last year I helped a woman successfully defend her XONSUX (Exxon sucks) license plate as a matter of free speech when the DMV claimed it was offensive and tried to take it back.

6.25.2007

How did I miss this one?

Knock Off
Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as a hoodlum-turned-fashion designer in this action-packed thriller set in Hong Kong. He and his business partner (Rob Schneider!) discover that a counterfeit clothing operation is actually a front for a terrorist conspiracy.

Wow. This movie is on right now. Amazingly, it is even worse than it sounds (though, I write that after watching only 85 seconds of the movie). Alas, I'm too tired to stay up to find out if it gets better--2 hours of tennis with Viv, Alex, and Hank; a high speed car chase through parts of the West High School campus that I know we were not supposed to drive on that ended with Alex and Sarah's new car in the hockey rink and mine blocking the entrance (all in an effort to retrieve my kidnapped dog); crashing a dinner party at Paulsen's; and a long day at work have left me pretty beat--so the Rotten Tomatoes review will have to suffice. I think "unwatchable" sums it up nicely.

It's Reigning Babies

The title of this post is in honor of former NBA player Shawn Kemp, a/k/a The Reign Man. On the court, Kemp was known for his prodigious dunking ability. Off the court, he is known for his prodigious powers of impregnation: Kemp has 7 children by 6 different women. But he still pales in comparison to some of these guys.

Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this, though it is a bit of a stretch. This post is about babies, or more accurately, a soon-to-be baby.

We threw a baby shower for Alex and Sarah last week. It was perhaps the most adult event I have ever been affiliated with. It was also the most intense, pressure-filled cooking experience I have ever had. It was a bbq, and I somehow wound up in charge of cooking all of the meat. I spent about 2 1/2 hours grilling 25 pounds of steak, chicken, sausages, and freshly-caught king salmon. That is the most meat for the most people (30 or so) that I have ever been responsible for at once. It was a little nerve wracking at first, especially because the flames on our grill are completely uneven, requiring lots and lots of moving stuff around. But everything came out really good, so now I feel comfortable adding "large-scale grilling operation" to the already- long list of things I'm just awesome at. (insert sarcasm here).

About 30 people showed up and Alex and Sarah had a lot of fun. They also got a bunch of gifts (favorite children's books, mostly, as per their request. I got them Dr. Seuss's Oh The Places You'll Go! I wanted to get them some Sweet Pickles books (I loved those!), but I couldn't find any in Anchorage.), and we made them play a game that involved taking a baby doll out of a bear cannister, undressing it, putting a diaper on it, then putting the clothes back on and stuffing it back in the bear cannister. The mosquito problem in our backyard prevented this from being a group relay activity, and instead Alex and Sarah went one-on-one. See below to find out who won. Pictures:

proud papa

pretty mama

Me + Vik + Table O'Gifts

Spread

Tracey Eating

Tracey pissed that I took a picture of her eating.
(notice the dude in the window checking her out)

A picture of Tracey just looking pretty, to make up for the fact that she is
probably pissed that I posted the previous two pictures.

What? What did I do?

belly

playing the baby in the bear cannister game

Alex wins!

time to open gifts

everybody loves presents

Josie had a good time too.

Just Another Manic Monday

Six o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream...


My alarm went off at six. I rolled over, picked up my laptop, checked Scotusblog to see if the decision was out yet, then alternated between hitting the refresh button on my computer and the snooze button on my clock for the next 30 minutes. By 7:00 I was on a conference call to dissect the ruling and talk about media strategy. It has been nonstop hectic ever since: Phone call with co-counsel in Juneau; Phone call with national office in NY; Phone call with my boss who is en route to DC.

And that's before I even got to work. Since getting to the office, the day has gone like this: Phone interview with a reporter from the Student Press Law Center; Took off shirt and tie and moved one couch out of the way and moved another off of a truck and into the office; Put shirt and tie back on to do TV interview; Took tie off and rolled up sleeves to fix copy machine; Went to post office to get mail; Radio interview.

I have another TV interview in a few minutes and then I'm doing Austrian radio (seriously). But we're not exactly sure what the time difference is between Austria and Alaska, so that may turn out to be tomorrow.

UPDATE: That Austrian radio interview would be at 4 AM. That's not happening.

Sorry Jesus, No Bong Hits 4 U

We lost. The Supreme Court ruled that the government's interest in stopping drug abuse among students allows schools to restrict student expression they reasonably view as promoting illegal drug use. You can read the majority and concurring opinions and the dissent here.

More later, after I've had a chance to talk to the press and read through it again.

6.22.2007

Pop Quiz Answers

True/False answers:
  1. I went out on a date for the first time in 2 years. False. But it was my first "real" date in 18 months.
  2. Jazzy Jeff is still the DJ, but the Fresh Prince ain't the rapper. True. DJ Jazzy Jeff's new album, The Return of the Magnificent, is really good. No Will Smith, but Big Daddy Kane, Method Man, and Pos (from De La Soul), among others, make appearances. Plus, there are some funny skits interspersed with the tracks. My favorite one involves Jeff getting pissed off because whenever people recognize him they ask "Where Will Smith at?" So, he calls Will (after going through levels and levels of Will Smith Inc. bureaucracy) and asks him if anyone ever asks him "Where's Jazzy Jeff?" Will says, "Um...no, but sometimes they ask about Carlton."
  3. I saw someone wearing a shirt that said "Boobies Make Me Smile." True.
  4. Boobies make me smile. :)
  5. A good friend of mine is on call in case Matisyahu needs kosher food when he is in town. True. And she got me backstage and on the tour bus. More on that later.
  6. I got hit on at a gay bar. True.
  7. The White Stripes are coming to Anchorage. True. But I still don't believe it, so maybe false?
  8. White Stripes tickets cost $60 each. True: $43 for the ticket + $15 in taxes and fees + $2.50 to have the ticket emailed. Thanks, Ticketmaster.
  9. It was fun. But that's it. And now it's over. Vague to you, but a valuable, and sad, realization that came way too late for me. True.
  10. George Costanza and I have yet another thing in common. True (to a certain extent) as it relates to the events in this episode.
  11. A random woman walked up to my car while I was stopped at a red light and asked if I could give her a ride home. True. I think she was drunk.
  12. A new sweetness has come. True. And as Stephen Dunn wrote, it has changed nothing but the way I have been stumbling through the world lately; and it does taste so good.
  13. We hired a butler. False. But we do have a guy who cleans our house every few weeks, and we just hired someone to mow the lawn.
  14. I can go from "totally anti-social" to "smooth" in less than 24 hours. True, according to Viv (despite her contrary remark in the comments), who finally thinks I'm cool again.
  15. These are the ten songs I have listened to the most (according to iTunes) over the past week:
  • The Beatles :: She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
  • Modest Mouse :: Missed The Boat
  • Matisyahu :: Indestructible
  • Arcade Fire :: Antichrist Television Blues
  • Wreckless Eric :: Whole Wide World
  • Lou Reed :: Nowhere at All
  • Nirvana :: Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam
  • Mavis Staples :: Eyes on the Prize
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff + Method Man :: Hold It Down
  • CYHSY :: Underwater
True. But, really, who cares?

Let's Go Mets

Nadav just emailed me some pictures from the baseball game we went to in St. Louis in April for Winston's birthday. Winston and I are both big Mets fans and we wore our Mets T-shirts to the game (that's Keith Hernandez on mine).

Here we are looking like a "before and after" ad for The Hair Club For Men:

And he we are looking like we're ready to apply for domestic partner benefits:

F@#K You, Windows

I bring my Mac with me to work every day because (1) when I have big writing projects, I prefer to type on a laptop, and (2) Windows sucks. This morning, bleary-eyed from a late night and all the smoke in the air, I was greeted at my desk by the news that my work computer (which runs Windows XP) no longer recognized its wireless card. Since I am, by default, my office's IT director as well as the staff attorney, I spent a good 20 minutes fixing that problem, then learned that the now-working wireless connection could not pull an IP address and connect to the Internet. Let me tell you how I fixed the problem: Over the course of an hour, I restarted the computer 6 times, turned the wireless connection on and off about 20 times, re-entered the network key 7 times, and waited patiently through the 4 times the computer totally froze up. Eventually, the Internet connection started working again.

This is what frustrates me: Between the time I left work yesterday (4:05) and arrived this morning (10:15), no one touched my computer. The network connection just shut down on its own, refused to recognize hardware, and erased the network password. Then, I didn't do anything technical to fix the problem (though I did almost kick it--not sure if that would be considered a technical maneuver or not)--I just reset things and turned stuff on and off for an hour. So, basically, I have no explanation for why the problem occurred, and no understanding as to how it got fixed. What I do know is that I spent nearly 90 minutes fixing it and another 10 minutes typing this. On my Mac.

Fire on the Mountain

As I mentioned yesterday, it's been hot. Today, Alaska is on fire.

6.21.2007

It's Like Africa Hot

I've been spending a lot of time with a girl I met just a couple of weeks ago, so there are lots of "getting to know you" stories being told back and forth. For my part, I find myself starting a lot of them with, "When I was in Africa..." or "During my trip to Malawi..."

I cringe every time I say it, because it I don't want to be the guy who only talks about some trip he took 4 months ago. They are pretty good stories, however, and she seems to enjoy listening to them. But soon I'm going to have to find some other interesting stuff to talk about, and since Viv pointed out my "lying smile" to her, now I can't just make stuff up without her knowing.

Aside from regaling The New Girl with tales of orphans and micro-business loans, Malawi has been on the front burner a lot recently. First, the Internet cafe at the school Solace built at the Malawi Children's Village is now fully operational:


Second, yesterday I had a meeting to discuss how to negotiate some tricky legal issues that Solace is facing, and it looks like we are going to have the help and support we need to take care of the situation (the meeting also paved the way for me to do some more teaching at UAA in the Fall, so that's pretty exciting). And I am going to resume a more hands-on role in this process.

Finally, as Matthew Broderick put it in Biloxi Blues, it's like Africa hot. It has been about 80 degrees and sunny (that means 20 hours of sun) here for the past few days. While this may sound pleasant to those of you who live in America, that's really fucking hot for Anchorage. And it is sweltering in my office--about 90 degrees. I've had a hard time getting anything done all week, and today is no exception. I'm going home now to nap before tonight's Matisyahu concert and Solstice party.

Encyclopedia Brown

Not surprising, but when you look at the numbers, you see just how skewed Wikipedia is toward pop culture. This means that if you are writing a paper on the Galactic Republic, Wikipedia is a great source. But if you are researching the Republican Party of Malawi, you might want to look elsewhere.

A Pitch For Big Government

Malaysia did it. Now New Zealand has told a couple that they cannot name their child "4real." The authors of Freakonomics addressed the socioeconomic impact of baby names (remember Winner, Loser, Lemonjello, and Orangejello?), and after reading that chapter, I fully support state intervention in the naming process, First Amendment concerns notwithstanding.

Sign Me Up

Maxim shows off the women of the Israeli Defense Forces in conjunction with Israel's tourism marketing campaign that highlights some of the country's, um, natural resources. The campaign has touched off a lot of controversy, especially considering the recent sex scandals involving Israeli Government officials. I agree with Ambassador Arye Mekel, consul-general of Israel in New York, that this really isn't a big deal:
"The pictures aren't anything you wouldn't see at a pool or a beach. Israel is always mentioned in the context of wars and violence. We want to show there is a normal life. Among the beautiful things we have are our women. We came there from 120 countries. Anytime you have a mix from any continents, you get very beautiful people. We don't see having beautiful women as a problem."
Also, I'm going to visit Israel as soon as I can. And I may try to join the IDF.

6.19.2007

Pop Quiz, Hotshot

Time for another true/false quiz:
  1. I went out on a date for the first time in 2 years.
  2. Jazzy Jeff is still the DJ, but the Fresh Prince ain't the rapper.
  3. I saw someone wearing a shirt that said "Boobies Make Me Smile."
  4. Boobies make me smile.
  5. A good friend of mine is on call in case Matisyahu needs kosher food.
  6. I got hit on at a gay bar.
  7. The White Stripes are coming to Anchorage.
  8. White Stripes tickets cost $60 each.
  9. It was fun. But that's it. And now it's over.
  10. George Costanza and I have yet another thing in common.
  11. A random woman walked up to my car while I was stopped at a red light and asked if I could give her a ride home.
  12. A new sweetness has come.
  13. We hired a butler.
  14. I can go from "totally anti-social" to "smooth" in less than 24 hours.
  15. These are the ten songs I have listened to the most (according to iTunes) over the past week:
  • The Beatles :: She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
  • Modest Mouse :: Missed The Boat
  • Matisyahu :: Indestructible
  • Arcade Fire :: Antichrist Television Blues
  • Wreckless Eric :: Whole Wide World
  • Lou Reed :: Nowhere at All
  • Nirvana :: Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam
  • Mavis Staples :: Eyes on the Prize
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff + Method Man :: Hold It Down
  • CYHSY :: Underwater
Answers soon.

6.18.2007

Dear Sheshy,

While we missed you at the poker game on Saturday night, rest assured that you didn't miss much, just the following: possibly the world's largest, northernmost outdoor Texas Hold 'Em game ever played in a mosquito tent at night under the sun; No Fold showing up for 20 minutes, never folding, doubling his buy-in, and leaving us with a full bottle of Maker's Mark; Dave ending a two-year streak of bad cards; Lots of mosquitoes; Dan got a straight flush; Brij setting up his video camera under the clear glass table to get the "World Series of Poker"-style view of everyone's cards; Justin performing your patented flop/turn/river card toss; Justin's antics not coming across as funny and endearing as your maneuvers; and, of course, this:


Hope you can make it next time.

6.13.2007

It's good work if you can get it

A few days ago I was doing TV and radio interviews. Yesterday I was reviewing abstinence-only sex ed materials, including a pamphlet titled 101 Ways To Make Love Without Doin' It, which contains many helpful tips. [1] Today I'm writing a brief for an Establishment Clause case. Later this week, one of the villages affected by the voting rights case we filed will perform a prayer ceremony to bring us good luck (they claim to have an undefeated litigation record). I love what I do and I am really lucky to have landed this gig. But after over 4 years in the same position, for a variety of reasons, it is time to move on. I'm exploring some other opportunities, but so far nothing is the perfect fit.
___________
[1] I didn't want to take the time to scan the pamphlet at work, and I couldn't find the full contents online, but there are plenty of lists that include many of the same suggestions, like this one, which suggests the following: "register with career services;" "visit the zoo;" "watch Friends;" "get tested for HIV;" and "clean your room." And that's just a few. Check the full list out. It's H.O.T. Personally, given the proof that abstinence-only sex ed doesn't work and is in fact harmful to kids, I prefer to stick with what I was taught in 6th grade: how to make love out of nothing at all (It should be noted, however, that in this song, Air Supply makes some of the most ridiculous claims ever.).

6.11.2007

Reveal Yourself

Who signed me up for a subscription to Cottage Living Magazine?

Well played, whoever you are.

Rock the Vote

Today we filed a lawsuit to require Alaska election officials to provide oral and written election assistance to Alaska Natives who live in the Bethel area and speak only the traditional Yup'ik language.

You can read about the case here, can listen to me being interviewed on Alaska Public Radio about it here, and can see a close up of my head here.

Uh, are you sure you're supposed to be here?

I was invited along to a small lunch meeting with the head of the voting rights section of the U.S. Department of Justice today. During the course of a conversation about the history of voting discrimination he asked, "What was the name of the governor of Mississippi in the '60s who..." Before he could finish, I blurted out, "Jesse Ventura?"

I swear I thought he said Minnesota. He didn't. But if he had said Minnesota, it might have been funny. It wasn't. Thankfully, everyone just ignored me.

That's it?

That was my initial reaction to how The Sopranos went out. At first I thought it was a pretty weak ending to arguably the best television drama ever, but then I thought about it a little bit and realized that it was very well done. But my opinion doesn't matter. Read about it from two of the best Sopranos analysts around, two guys who suddenly have a lot more free time on Sunday nights, Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall.

6.09.2007

Electric Blue

3:00 AM. Not quite light outside, but not dark either. It's just...blue.

Just got home. On the way, I saw a guy hitchhiking in the wrong direction on a one-way street. He wasn't having much success.

Ran into the girl from the Oceans Festival tonight. Remember when people used to write their phone numbers on napkins, instead of pulling out a cell phone? It's old school. And I like it.

Watching The Secret of My Success on HBO. Such an awful movie. And yet, so awesome. I miss the 80s.

6.08.2007

TGIF

Seriously, thank god. It has been a long, draining couple of weeks without much of a break. Unfortunately, this weekend will continue my streak of working weekends (though last weekend I did get a bit of a respite when I volunteered/hung out in the beer garden at the Oceans Festival) as we are getting ready to file a big case on Monday. But this weekend won't be all work: I have some sushi and movie plans and the Mets play the Tigers on Saturday afternoon and the game is televised here; I have blocked out a chunk of time to sit on the couch, veg out and watch baseball. I can't wait.

Work has been taxing lately--training and supervising all of the interns has taken a lot of time and energy, but I think they are almost up to speed and should be pretty self-sufficient from here on out. Though, they will never be perfect: I want them to be able to read my mind and understand exactly--exactly!--what I want from them without having to write it out in a memo and then take the time to explain it. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. Maybe we'll change our hiring criteria for next summer to include mind reading.

I'm also having a hard time connecting with them. In the past, I was really excited about the summer law students and I took the time to get to know them, to talk to them about school and their career plans. I really enjoyed playing the role of mentor. But this summer I'm not that interested; I see them more as worker bees. And while they are great, I'm realizing that what I really need is an assistant or a paralegal--someone who is going to be around for more than just 10 weeks at a time. Alas, it seems, I am outgrowing my job and the resources available in this office.

Other than that frustration, work has been good. My boss has been giving me more respect and authority, I have been working with some great people on a really interesting case, and I was invited to give a lecture to a room full of middle and high school teachers on free speech, student rights, and the BH4J case at the Bar Association's Educating on Law and Democracy Institute seminar held this week. It went well, though I did get into a bit of an argument with one of the teachers that ended with me saying, "Well, I'm just really glad I'm not in your class."

Some other highlights/lowlights/semi-epiphanies from the past week-plus:
  • I attended the annual summer fundraiser for AYEA, the organization that Triple-P runs. I try to make it there every year, and Triple-P usually guilts me into it by reminding me that I won a sweet backpack at a raffle drawing there a few years ago. This year it was fun, but I spent most of the night drinking at the bar with Scott and engaging Emma in a well-executed game of Pretending Not To Notice Each Other. Also, I got really good at walking past Emma's fiancee without making eye contact. I hope these become Olympic events--I would kick ass.
  • I finally figured out the lyrics to Yellow Ledbetter. (It's funny. Watch/listen to the whole thing.)
  • In the "that's fucking fabulous" department, I found out that both Emma and Alli are getting married. To recap, last Fall, Alli broke up with David to be with me. A few months later, I broke up with Alli to be with Emma. Though Emma wasn't exactly single at the time, that was nothing new for us and she told me she was going to break up with The Other Guy. She didn't. She dumped me instead. Now, Alli is marrying David, Emma is marrying The Other Guy, and I'm writing about it and posting it online. Yup, I'm a big winner.
  • Stupid things I've done recently: tried to take my shirt off while I had a toothbrush in my mouth; locked my keys in my car; mixed alcohol and Ambien (though that is more like "wobbly fun" than stupid); wrote several drunk emails (but only sent one, I think); this one is cheating because it didn't happen recently, but I only heard about it recently: an acquaintance of mine was at an airport on the day of the BH4J oral argument. She was watching CNN on one of the airport TVs. Apparently, a clip of one of the interviews I gave made it on to CNN and I was chewing gum while talking to the reporter. Yup. National cable news network, outside of the Supreme Court, and I was chewing gum. Stay classy, B-dice; I'm sure I've done more stupid things in the past couple of weeks, but I can't think of anything else right now. If you are aware of any, feel free to chime in with a comment.
  • Steve Santagati is a moron.
  • Emily's dad died.
  • The Mets have lost 4 straight games.
  • Sometimes I just don't listen. And sometimes I can be really selfish. It is clear to me now that those two facts had a lot to do with my losing something that I really wanted to hang on to. About that, I am frustrated and inconsolable and trying to learn from my mistakes.
  • There was a fire at an apartment building where two of my friends lived; they lost everything. It was amazing to see how everyone rallied to support and help them--lots of clothes, cash, and other necessities have been, and continue to be, collected. They are getting back on their feet, but it is tough going, and I admire their courage, resolve, and ability to laugh occasionally at the circumstances. In light of this situation, purchasing a renter's insurance policy (which has been on my to-do list for about 7 years) has been denoted as a top priority for the weekend, and Hank, Viv, MaryLou and I played the "what would you miss most/what would you grab if there was a fire" game:
Hank: Computer, music box from my grandmother.
Viv: Computer.
MaryLou: Tele boots.
Me: Computer, box of photographs, Josie. (not necessarily in that order)
  • Big problems, like dads dying and houses burning down, help put my little problems in perspective.

6.07.2007

Decidedly Ugly

The Deciders' 4-game winning streak and unblemished record are no more. Tonight we lost to our friends Ninjustice (the other lawyer team) by a score of 14-5. It was actually much closer than the score indicated: seven of Ninjustice's runs came with 2 outs in the 4th inning when our defense and pitching just completely fell apart. Plus, if Ninjustice's third basewoman (who played NCAA Division I softball in college) was on our team, we would have won handily. But, if she was on our team, then I would be adrift without a position, and I am really taking to third base. Tonight, I once again displayed my fielding prowess, snaring a line drive hit right at my face without flinching, ranging to my left to handle several ground balls, and even eliciting a few cheers from the opposing team and their fans when I made a diving/sliding/falling catch of a fly ball in foul territory.

6.06.2007

Happy Birthday Josie!


Josie is ten years old today. Ten! I can hardly believe it. I got her when she was just eight weeks old. I used to carry her around (to parties so I could meet girls) in the crook of my arm.

I got Josie at a party. It was a saturday night during the summer after my senior year at Ohio University (I stayed in Athens for that summer and one more quarter before I had (due to changing my major 4 or 5 times) enough credits to graduate.).

Some guy showed up at the party with this adorable little puppy. He said he met some people who were giving away puppies at the Athens Farmers' Market that afternoon and he took two. But then he realized that as a poor college student he couldn't handle two dogs, so he took one of them out for the night to try to find her a home. If he couldn't, he was going to take her to the pound the next day.


That sales pitch worked perfectly on the sorority girls who were throwing the party. They decided to keep her, but the conversation was peppered with things like this: "Our lease says no pets;" "I'm allergic to dogs;" "I'll walk her, but I'm not picking anything up." I butted in and said, "Tomorrow morning when you wake up and realize what a bad idea it is for you to keep the dog, call me and I'll come get her."

These are the girls who threw the party: Erika (drank a lot), don't remember (but we'll call her Annie), Sarah (so nice), and Kate (loved the song She Talks to Angels).

The phone rang early the next morning. "B-Diiiiice, do you still want the puuuuuppyyy?" Moment of truth. I never had a dog before. "Yes." And that was that. A boy and his dog.


The girls brought her over 15 minutes later. They already had a collar, leash, bowls, food, crate, and dog toys. I love sorority girls!

Picking the name was easy. I always liked the name Josie for a girl. Since I didn't have a human daughter, this seemed appropriate. However, I almost named her Dagny (for Dagny Taggart from Atlas Shrugged, which I was halfway through re-reading at the time) and the sorority girls requested that I keep the name they gave her: Gracie. I think I made the right choice.

That I'm feeling overly sentimental about my dog's birthday probably has a lot to do with the period of introspection I am currently mired in. I'm going to resist the urge to turn this into a retrospective on the last decade of B-Dice, but the last ten years have been quite an adventure--college to law school to career; Ohio to New York to Vermont to New Jersey to San Francisco to Alaska--and Josie was with me for all of it, except when I lived in NY--she stayed with my mom in NJ, and she lived with my dad in Phoenix during the first six months I was in Alaska.


She was just over a year old when law school started, and on the very first day of class, in a display of what she thought about me being gone all day, she chewed up my constitutional law book. Those days in Vermont were great, but I didn't realize how idyllic they were at the time. One day during our third year, while we were sitting around watching baseball and smoking various things, my friend Brad commented that "It's never going to get any better than this." At only 25, and a good 10 or 11 years younder than Brad (and much more naieve), I told him he was crazy and that I hoped "this" wasn't as good as it gets. Life is going to get much better, I told him, and that if "this" is as good as it gets, I'm going to be seriously disappointed.

Brad chuckled. "Look," he said, "you live in a beautiful part of rural Vermont. You sit around and smoke pot and watch baseball with your friends. You sleep with smart good looking women without consequence. Your only responsibility is to read and occasionally go to class and learn interesting stuff. Trust me. It's never going to get any better than this." He was right.


I don't think it ever got better for Josie either: Hiking up to Kent's Ledge or The Tepee every day after class (or sometimes when I should have been in class); Swimming in the White River all summer; Rolling around in whatever smelly, disgusting things she could find in Jay and Brett's backyard; Paying with her best friend Kali.

Josie and Kali playing in the Vermont woods

That's not to say life hasn't been good for both of us since then, but those days were ridiculously carefree. Josie didn't care much for the urban lifestyle we lived in SF--I was at work from 8-6 everyday and she was cooped up in our little apartment in the Mission all day, though, we lived with Al and Kali, so they kept each other company. We got outside plenty too: walking around the city (especially late-night jaunts to Taqueria Cancun), playing in Dolores Park, hiking in Marin.

Josie and Kali lounging at our apartment in SF

Bernal Hill, overlooking the city

But Josie is not a city dog; she loved Vermont and she loves life in Alaska. She's going to be really sad if we leave.

About to get on the ferry to Alaska in Prince Rupert, BC

Guarding the Argo out at Nate's lodge

Taking a break, somewhere in the Chugach

Josie Trivia:
  • Josie has never been on a plane, but she has been on a ferry.
  • Josie has had only 4 collars in 10 years. A blue one when she was a puppy. A bigger blue one when she outgrew it. Some sort of African tribal-ish thing I got her before we moved to SF. Now she sports a hot pink leather collar with silver studs.
  • I have convinced several people (you know who you are) that Josie is a genetically engineered "travel size" labrador that I got from a Silicon Valley company called PetGenTech.
  • Josie likes Chinese food (according to my mom).
  • Josie has fallen off a cliff, been swept down a river, chased by a moose, stung by a hive of bees, sprayed by a skunk, has had a run-in with a cactus, fought a wolf (twice), overdosed on chocolate, and once ate two dozen bagels in one (unsupervised) sitting.
  • Josie's first boyfriend was named Dallas.
  • One of my roommates in SF, Justyn, would often put a harness on Josie, get on his skateboard, and have her pull him around the city.
Those of you who know her know that Josie whines a lot, is totally obsessive about playing fetch, is a little neurotic, and is also a very soft, sweet, cuddly, lovable dog. You also know how much I love her. So, happy birthday, my sweet little girl. I can't imagine what the last 10 years would have been like without you.


6.01.2007

Deciding

To paraphrase The Flaming Lips, I don't know how a man decides what's right for his own life--it's all a mystery. There are things you can't avoid; you have to face them, even when you are not prepared to face them.

I have decisions to make. And they're not easy. But neither is playing softball for The Deciders. Though we are now 4-0, and I have been playing a fairly deft third base and hitting decently, my mouth keeps getting me in trouble.

The league we are in is co-ed. There must be an equal number of men and women in the lineup at all times and the batting order must be boy-girl-boy-girl. Failure to comply with these gender-based rules results in an automatic out. Last week I thought the other team was hitting two men in a row. When the second consecutive guy came up to bat, I started yelling to the home plate umpire from my position at third base: "Hey! Isn't that an out?" I was wondering why no one else seemed to notice.

I yelled some more as I started jogging toward the plate: "They just hit two guys in a..." Suddenly I was close enough to see that the batter was in fact a woman (though it was a very close call). I immediately shut my mouth and turned toward Vik, who was pitching. His mouth was agape and I just pretended that my histrionics were for morale boosting and I said something like, "Okay, guys! Let's get 'em!" Fortunately, only Vik, our shortstop, and the other team's third base coach heard my faux pas.

Tonight, my oral errors continued. I fielded a sharply hit ground ball and threw to first. But as I released the ball I felt it slip a little and it sailed off target (though Corinne was able to corral it and still get the runner out). "Oh, fuck!" I yelled, after which the umpire, who thought teh expletive emanated from our bench, gave our team an "official warning" about our language.

Despite getting my teammates in trouble because of my hot temper on the field, tonight's game was a lot of fun. We went into the last half inning tied 2-2 and we scored three runs to win (helped in no small part by my long double down the left field line). The Deciders are now 4-0. Next week we play Hank's team, Ninjustice, who are also undefeated. It should be a good one, and lord only knows what will come out of my mouth next.