Author: Bill Cash

Welcome back, Class of 2008

Welcome back, 2E’s of Capital Law! Here at the beginning of our fifth semester, I find it’s a good time to take stock of where we are and where we’re going. Time slips by so quickly.

Law school has been a lot tougher than we imagined, but we made it to the midpoint, right? Here at the end of the first half of the second year, we’d be exactly half done with law school… if only we had followed the lead of our turncoat former colleagues, those wretched people who switched to the day program. Now they’re part of the snobby “day people,” those green youngsters who until recently were still mired in extensive disputes over Property I and the system of conveyances. We didn’t follow that path. No, we decided to be “smart” and keep our jobs while losing our heads, and now must face the reality of 28 more months of night school, including summers. “I’ll pay for school as I go,” we said, “so I won’t be in too much debt at the end.” Ha.

Here at the uneasy start to a fresh semester, I like to think what’s become of us. One thing is: there are a lot fewer of us than there used to be. As you might know, I keep a semi-morbid list of the fallen: those students who started with us, but are no longer with us. People have left our class for a number of reasons: lack of interest; deciding the law isn’t for them after all; the high cost of tuition; better job offers; medical problems. I truly regret the loss of so many colleagues, and encourage those still left to hang on, because I think the rewards are worth the pain. Still, I can’t help keeping track out of curiosity.

2008-chartAccording to my official count, we started August 2004 with 91 students. Every semester, we lose about 10% of our class, not counting those day student emigres. The current total is only 46 who’ve hung in there. At this rate, I will be the only student left come May 2008, and even that isn’t certain. Last night over pizza, Prof. Darling evoked the spectre of my own dropping out. “I can imagine the sad scene when you slowly cross your own name off the list, closing your computer forever.” (I love FASHes!) :)

One of the things they warned us about law school is it tends to turn us all into competitive jerks. Either you are outwardly competitive and trying to impress everyone else, or you are competitive but covering it up. Most people pretend not to be interested in this, but one thing I’ve discovered is, secretly, they are. And what a perfect environment we’ve got for the comparing! Not only is there the all-present GPA, but we also have created a variety of other ways to measure ourselves, usually in pompous, sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing ways: all the clubs, elections, societies, and just plain old cliques and study groups. (In some ways, law school is more like high school than college. At least in college, there was a pretense that we were supposed to act like adults now. I’d pay extra tuition never to hear about another “important” law school election again.)

Boldface names II

Special thanks to Ben and Nathan for another “fabulous” 918 Christmas party.  This year I did not embarrass myself and incur the substantial wrath of Matt Brown; rather, I behaved according to the reasonable person standard and we can all be grateful for that.

I did have the jarring experience of meeting a hair-wax-loving chap called Bill Couch, which was very disturbing, since the other guests were getting us confused.  And I thought I was so original.  So I talked to him and told him that he would have to change both his first and last names for party purposes, which he agreed to do: he said, “Tell you what, you can have Bill, I’ll take BC3.”  Whereupon, poooof! my head exploded, because of course, I invented BC3.  I almost slapped him, but he was straight, and that would only deepen the divide.  So I just sort of walked away and bitterly complained to everyone else.

In other news, I now have a new pet.  My cat enjoys dusting under my bed with his body, drinking out of the toilet, and, inexplicably, soft-sided luggage.  Yes, I actually got his favorite suitcase out and am leaving around the house so he can lie on it.  It’s been an interesting experience so far; I never thought I would be a cat person, but it’s one of those things: when you live in the city, you don’t have a choice.

Finally, I have to suggest for anyone interested in the Supreme Court to check out The Brethren, a book by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong.  OK, it’s real old, but it’s a “tell-all” that discusses events and cases during the first several years of the Burger Supreme Court.  I just ran across it and it’s hard to put down.

Turkey for the uninitiated

Some of the nice people in my family have decided that they’ll spend this weekend in Vegas and go see Paul McCartney in Phoenix, while I get to stay here and take Grandma to her doctor appointment where they’ll probably tell her she needs a hip replacement. These people actually aren’t returning from the west until Thanksgiving Day around 4pm, and they have actually asked me if I wouldn’t mind, oh, cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.  So.  It’s a great honor, but seems like I’m getting the raw end of the deal (P.S., where’s my free trip).  And of course, this is a real winner for me because if I do fine, then everybody gets turkey as usual, but if I screw it up, I’m the Bad Son Who Ruined Thanksgiving.

Without further grumbling, here are the directions for cooking a turkey, courtesy my mom.

  1. On Monday buy the frozen turkey it takes two days for it to thaw in your refrigerator.When you buy the Turkey you will need also
    • Two loafs of bread
    • Four Apples
    • Four Cups of Walnuts
    • Two cups of Raisins
    • One stalk of Celery
    • Four Eggs
    • Sage
    • Parsley
  2. On Wednessday night about 5PM take all the bread and lay it out all over the counter to “dry”  about 8PM it will be sort of dry, flip it over on the other side for an hour or so
  3. Cut the bread in cubes, a seratted knife works better than a regular butcher knife
  4. Cut up the apples and sprinkle with Lemon Juice.. THey wont turn brown if you put lemon juice on them
  5. Wash and cut up the celery.  The slice in small pieces they dont have to be too small
  6. Put the celery, Raisins, Walnuts, all in a bowl
  7. Mix up four eggs with a fork  add the sage into it about two tablespoons you cant over season it
  8. Put the bread now dried out in a bigger bowl cover with saran wrap and leave it on the counter
  9. Put the celery, raisin, walnut egg thing in fridge with saran wrap and the eggs by themselves with saran wrap
  10. Look into the turkey.. the turkey people put many hidden things inside
    You should find a neck, small bag labeled or maybe not that say liver or gibblets, and often chucks of ice
  11. Take all the stuff out of the turkey body  run some warm NOT hot water make sure  you have all the chucks of ice out
  12. Get a clean garbage bag and stick the old turkey in there if he is messy and bloody from the water you can stick a clean hand towel under the garbage bag so he doesnt gunk up your fridge
  13. Read how many pounds he is, I usually get 25 so you have plenty of leftovers.  The sack will tell you how long to cook stuff verus unstuffed.  I think stuffed is 25 minuts a pound on the turkey sack, but I find the overcook it at that amount.
  14. Count back when you want him done based on the sack cooking directions
  15. When you are ready to cook him take half the dried bread and set it aside
  16. Drain the lemon juice off the apples, you dont need much lemon juice just a little to keep them from getting brown
  17. Dump the apples in the walnut/celery/raisin thing
  18. Restir the eggs, maybe add half a cup of water but not very much really
  19. Dump the apples/walnut celery egg thing into HALF OF THE BREAD, remember you set half aside that has nothing on it.
  20. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands
  21. Evaluate how it looks.. if it looks 50% bread and 50% other stuff dont add any more bread.. if it doesnt look 50-50 add some more bread, you may end up throwing out bread, dont worry it doesnt cost anything feed the bread to birds for thanksgiving
  22. Get the turkey out of the fridge  You wash his insides the night before so the bread doesnt get drowned in the water you might ahve to put in him to get rid of the ice buildup.
  23. Get some handfuls of the stuffing mixture and put inside his big cavity.. FIll it about 80% full.  Cookbooks will tell you less that it will expand but I have never found it to expand, it soaks up turkey jucies and gets smaller to me but that has been my experience.
  24. Rotate the bird to the neck side.  You can get maybe two cups of the stuffing in this side… The idea is to “puff it up” so he looks pretty
  25. Put him in the over at 325 I belive check the turkey bag.
  26. About half way through the estimated cooking time, check on him..  If he is getting two brown take a sheet of aluminium foil and make a “TENT” over him.. Dont secure the tent edges, leave them to flap in the air, if you seal them down it “Steams him” and makes him tough.
  27. Take the rest of the dressing stuff and put in a greased pan and hold onto it until the turkey is almost done.. If there is room cook the stuffing along with the turkey.
  28. If there isnt room in the oven then bring it with you and  you cook it when you put the turkey on the table.  This stuff cooks in about 30 minutes.

Updated for 2015: This recipe withstands the test of thyme, with people still looking it up and using it ten years later. But there’s something new that I do these days which isn’t in here. Before stuffing the turkey, soften 3/4 to 1 stick of butter, and mix it liberally with sage using your fingers. You should have a mostly pliable butter sludge. Also using your fingers, loosen up the skin from the meat… all over the bird, but particularly the breasts. It is possible to totally loosen all of the skin if you want to (but it’s not necessary). After you get the skin unpeeled, shove the butter under the skin. This is messy work and it is really going to freak you out if you don’t like touching meat. However, what I’ve realized is that the presence of the butter under the skin flavors the meat, and it serves as a moisture barrier to keep the meat from drying out. The fat blocks water from leaving the meat… and you will get an extremely tender bird. Do it!

…and who NOT to vote for!

Every year, it falls to me to grouse and complain about the abuse of the public trust practiced by certain local candidates who seem to think they own the whole damn road.  I’m not talking about the driving, I’m talking about their signs in the public right-of-way.

This year on May 23rd, I wrote to City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer to complain about violations of the Columbus City Code.  The relevant section of code is 902.02 (a).

902.02 Obstructing sidewalks or streets.
(a) No person, regardless of intent, shall place, deposit, maintain, or use, or cause or permit to be placed, deposited, maintained, or used upon any street, alley, sidewalk, highway, or right-of-way any materials, containers, vending equipment, structures, appliances, furniture, merchandise, bench, stand, sign, or advertising of any kind, or any other similar device or obstruction except as authorized by the transportation administrator, as required by Chapter 903 of the Columbus City Code.

I did get a very nice and considerate voice mail, along with a suggestion to forward my letter to Public Safety Directory Henry Guzman, but neither of these guys has completely solved the problem.

I don’t drive very often, but I did happen to drive down Olentangy to dinner tonight and in a half-mile stretch, I saw signs from five different candidates!  The offenders cluttering the public landscape were:

  • Phill Harmon, unendorsed Republican
  • Mary Jo Hudson, endorsed Democrat
  • Jay Perez, endorsed Democrat
  • Mike Rankin, endorsed Democrat
  • Amy Salerno, endorsed Republican (Ms. Salerno is the winner of this tacky contest, having staked out seven signs on every corner of the intersection of Goodale and Olentangy River Road)

These signs collect all month, blowing all over the street, and then no one takes them down after the election.  Public land belongs to everyone, and is not to be used to one candidate’s personal benefit.  And may I remind my readers of the irony here, three of the above candidates openly violating city law and the public trust are running for judge?

Party and qualifications be damned.  If you put up a sign on public property, you lose my vote.  Let’s have a little dignity and respect for the process.

Why you should vote YES…

Reading the editorial page of the Columbus Dispatch is like being in an abusive relationship.  Just when you think you’re safe, you wake up, and out of nowhere you get brained.  Unfortunately, unlike a battered wife, I really have to admit that it’s all my fault and I don’t know why I keep going back to him.

This Sunday the Dispatch opposed Reform Ohio Now’s issues 2 through 5.  With all the thoughtful writing they’ve done on local city issues and on abuses of power, plus with the series of articles we’ve seen on Ohio’s lopsidedly gerrymandered legislative districts, I was sure they would back at least some of the issues.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to be lying to my friends that “I fell down the stairs,” because this hurt and I sure didn’t see it coming.

I was not whole-heartedly behind each issue.  In very brief, the issues are:

  • 2: absentee voting in advance
  • 3: campaign contribution limits
  • 4: end party-based gerrymandering of districts
  • 5: pass statewide control of elections to a board rather than the Secretary of State

I have been leaning toward opposing 2 and 3 and supporting 4 and 5.

Issue 2 allows people to vote up to 35 days before the date of the actual election.  I think this is a terrible idea.  While the idea of absentee voting seems nice, a lot can happen in the five weeks before an election.  As we allow voting farther and farther ahead, people are more likely to miss defining events on the campaign trail, and once your vote is cast, it can’t be changed.  Consider what happened last year in the 26th District where I lived: the Democratic primary was won by Mike Mitchell, who defeated his opponent by only 173 votes.  But (according to the paper on March 9, 2004) Mitchell had gotten a DUI citation just two days before the election.  He was also charged with going 70 in a 55 and driving on a suspended license.  (Unfortunately, this didn’t hit the news until it was too late.)  If people had known about this before they voted, I think he would have lost the election.  Early voting costs you the chance to make important last-minute decisions.

Issue 3 is campaign contribution limits; I honestly don’t have a strong position here and I don’t want to talk about it.  I think they are a mistake.

Issue 4, however, is the real jewel of this year’s reform package.  Under issue 4, anyone could submit a plan for the state’s legislative districts, and that plan would be scored for its political competitiveness.  The formula — which is insanely complicated (go read it) — gives higher points if a district is more evenly balanced between the two parties.  The highest overall point-getting plan generally wins and is chosen by an impartial board.  It’s more complicated than that, but it would end the system where last year Democrats won their Ohio House seats by an average of some 60 percent and Republicans by some 40 percent.  Gerrymandering used to be more of an art, but in the last go-round, computer mapping technology had advanced so much that these crazy unwinnable districts have been much easier to draw.  (I know, because I write mapping software.)

The gerrymandering in our state is really costing us, because the people who get elected just have to win their party primary, not appeal to a broad electorate.  In the case of the 26th District, by the way, Mike Mitchell went on to run unopposed in the general election, and he won.  (The Dispatch said that the “solution would be worse than the problem” and that “Democrats’ weak challenges to GOP officeholders have played a role in this problem.”  But it cuts both ways when Republicans don’t field any candidate at all.)

Issue 5 would take election oversight duties away from the Secretary of State and give them to a board of election officials.  Although a board might be less responsive, I think it would be a worthwhile step.  In Ohio in 2004, as in Florida in 2000, the Secretary of State was at the center of a heated, disputatious election, and the Secretary of State was also the chairman of the Bush campaign.  It presented a ridiculous conflict of interest.  I understand Florida has already stripped their SOS of election duties, by the way.

I think the Dispatch does have a good point to make about the complexity and specificity of the laws, saying that “they seek to write highly detailed, prescriptive language and untested policy into the Ohio Constitution.  Once there, fixing any deficiencies would require another statewide vote.”  While this is true, I am not exactly holding my breath for either party to voluntarily level the playing field.  Also, while issues 2 and 3 generally deal with regulation of elections and are probably better suited to being acts of the legislature, issues 4 and 5 are structural in nature and therefore do belong in our state’s constitution.  As an alternative, the broad outlines of issue 4’s formula might have been put into the constitution, along with the requirement of a more detailed enabling act to be passed by the legislature, so that the variables could be tinkered with, but I’m not comfortable with anything coming out of the Statehouse these days.

Our electoral system is fundamental to our functioning democracy.  Vote yes on issues 4 and 5!

From the Bureau

We were told that if every person in P&C Systems completed their United Way pledge card (whether or not they actually gave to United Way), we would be allowed to wear jeans every day until October 21st.  Corporate drones love to wear jeans.  Every day you would get a report of the number of people who had still to complete their pledge card — 400, 200, 75, and it kept going down.  The deadline to finish the job was today.

We came very close to 100% participation in the UW ePledge process, with 99.9% of associates completing United Way pledges online by the end of today.  Unfortunately, that means no free jeans days will be awarded.  However, it was a great team effort and your contributions will go to hundreds of great charities.  Thanks for your great participation!

0.1% would represent approximately 2 people.

On coming out

Every year, that familiar holiday, National Coming Out Day, seems to come earlier and earlier.  Seems like I was just taking down my Gay Pride Month banners and poppers and it’s already time to put up the Coming Out tree, bedecked with supportive photos of all the people I still haven’t told.  Yes, there certainly is something special about October 11th.

Unlike other people I could mention, I didn’t have a big problem with “coming out.”  It was pretty easy for me at 17, when I decided to do it under relatively trauma-free circumstances.  I understand the kids these days have it even easier than I did, taking guys to their senior prom and whatnot.  At least in my part of the world, we have overcome, and any uneasy don’t-ask-don’t-tell truces I may be living with are of my own making.

At Capital this year, the gay law students group BiGLaw decided to support those who maybe didn’t have it so easy, by trying to commemorate Coming Out Day (which, despite my snideness, is a real day that I remember each year).  They didn’t organize any actual event that I know about, but they did put up a few signs reminding people when it was and what it meant to those who can’t be open about themselves and to those who are.  I thought it was pretty mild stuff.

The Christian Legal Society, however, decided to organize a presentation from someone at a group called “Mission: America, who was going to come and talk about her experiences as an advocate for preserving traditional families.”  I guess that didn’t pan out, and so they decided to hold, instead, a prayer meeting “for those who have come out and/or are considering coming out and/or are struggling with homosexual attraction.”  This was to be held on Coming Out Day at eight o’clock in the morning.  It was announced in an e-mail to all students.

The e-mail prompted a lot of rumbling among my near-universally straight fellow law students.  “How dare they conduct their little ‘hate-in,'” one bleated.  Somebody else said they should not be allowed to organize events that appear to directly oppose other groups at the school.  In reference to the baleful effects of homosexual attraction, another person suggested we tell the Christian Legal Society, “Thank God we’re not attracted to you!”

This event prompted me to do some thinking.  As an ardent defender of our liberal Constitution and civil rights, I felt no desire to try to stop the meeting or to complain to the administration.  It would have been hypocritical to tell anyone not to express their beliefs, particularly on the very day that is intended to promote tolerance and openness about others.  But I was rather shocked that a “counter-protest” would be organized in response to — well, not even an actual event.  Somebody puts up a few signs saying “it’s OK to be gay,” and the reaction is to arrange a prayer group reminding us that some people think it’s not?

The delicious possibilities for civil retribution began swimming through my head.  I would go to the meeting wearing nothing but a tiara and a Speedo.  I would solemnly stand outside with a sign reading, “No prayer please, we’re gay.”  Or: “Touched by an angel; touched by a priest.”  Or, while being asked to pray for those literally damned homosexuals, I would suggest that we pray for “the ignorant, the intolerant, and those who maliciously spread misinformation and lies, trading on the backs of the Oppressed just to advance their own political agendas.”

But, sadly for you, dear Reader, I did none of these things and decided simply to attend.

May I say, now having attended a meeting of each group, neither BiGLaw nor the Christian Legal Society exactly commands hordes of zealous followers.  The CLS meeting was attended by, er, just the CLS President, me, and my friend.  In other words, we outnumbered them by an exact ratio of 2-to-1.  Where were the queens?  (Did you know it is solid dark at 7am???  I didn’t!  That has to have had something to do with it.)

So Sondra and I had a pretty civil conversation with the assembled representative and member of the Christian Society.  The CLS seemed unanimously glad to see us, and it was truly eager to explain that it did not intend to convey a message of disapproval or dislike for gay people: “not at all, not, not, not at all.”  It just happened to organize a prayer meeting on the same day as Coming Out Day to, you know, let gay people know that it disagreed with Their Lifestyle.

Ah yes.  When you hear the dreaded lifestyle argument, you know you are in for a hard ride.  To Joy’s credit, she was extremely considerate and polite and I do believe she is sincere.  That is to say, she sincerely believes that the gay people of this world are wrong, and she is sincere about telling us.  Her position is that if someone knows the truth, shouldn’t that person try to convince others of the truth?

We suggested that this would be akin to organizing counter-protests on Martin Luther King Day, or Rosh Hashana.  After all, if Christianity is superior to Judaism, why not attempt to convert Jews on one of the holy days?  (“Maybe we should do that,” the CLS, I’m sure, jokingly mused.)

I advanced the idea that, you know, it’s kind of a civil society we’re living in, and there should be room for all viewpoints, and no matter what your religious beliefs happen to be, you should respect the differences of others.  On this point, the CLS was philosophical.  I know that the Christians at Capital, like all good people, do believe in civil rights and freedoms for everyone.  But, we tried to stress, the prayer meeting’s intent appeared to be less than truly respectful of everyone.  Rather than trying to convert us on our day, we suggested, maybe they could hold off until next week, or something.  When Joy asked that there simply not be Coming Out Day (presumably, she meant, at CULS), because it has nothing to do with law school, I had to disagree: coming out has always been tinged with politics, and it always will be as long as people in our society politicize the issue.  Besides, wasn’t it the Christian Legal Society that organized the gay marriage “debate” against the CULS Democrats last year?

At the end of the day, I don’t feel like much changed, but people’s minds are made up and convictions are deeply held.  And I genuinely understand, and heartily disagree, with some of them.  I’m glad I attended, and I’m particularly glad that the rumored brawl between Christians and rugby-playing lesbians did not break out — particularly not at 8am.  It’s obvious to me that law school, like the church, is one of the leading institutions concerned with issues of justice and fairness, so I’m glad that there are busybody Christians and remonstrative straight supporters and sleepy gays on all sides of this issue.  Chalk one up for Liberty.

Winds of change

Last night right after class, I came home and crept into bed.  It was the cap on a very draining week, which is what every week winds up being these days.  I lay there for a few minutes, then got back out and dragged myself into the shower so I could go out to Plank’s and have free pizza courtesy of the Student Bar Association and the Public Interest and Government Law group.  PI-Gov, as they call it, is affectionately known to me as “PIGLaw.”

Aside from the always-jarring experience of venturing into any part of Straightland (is that a real woman? what’s with all the braided leather belts? I paid to be here?), the night was reasonably pleasurable.  We stood around gossiping about people we know, some of whom we’d just been sitting next to in class not an hour before.  Did you know so-and-so pretended to be absent when he was called on in class because he didn’t have the guts to admit he hadn’t done the reading?  Is it true that a certain military figure has dropped out?  Did you make the National Moot Court Team?  And lurking under all these, my favorite obsession: so who’s number one in the class?

Alcohol is always such a great social lubricant, isn’t it?  I didn’t drink because I wanted to sleep when I got home, but I had a good time teasing the woman who has been named the Blonde Tornado.  (Not by me, I hasten to add, and not an unironic choice on the part of the namer, either.)  She teased me about my appalling clothes — T-shirt, jeans, and rubber sandals — then made a sweeping gesture that caused her to dump her own beer onto the very same sandals.  It was even funnier the second time she did that.  She’s a good girl and I do wish her the best.  She’s just so easy to talk to (“it’s my own fault, I shit where I eat”).

Why are we all chasing after this law degree?  Sometimes I see the students as satellites orbiting the decidedly un-Heavenly body that is CULS.  Some of them are in regular, close orbits, passing over the books and the library each week like clockwork.  Others, like that big liar from Con Law, are erratic comets that grow brighter and dimmer with no discernible pattern.  Yet all of us are going to be launched out in a different direction some day — or crash onto the surface.  Why are we doing it?  From this vantage point, it’s hard to envision ever getting out or using this stuff.  Some days it feels like I’m still not a grown-up.  I hate wearing the backpack.  Will wearing the suit and, sadly, the occasional braided leather belt, feel any better?

How to make lobster sloppy joes

I have to say this is totally the best sloppy joe recipe I’ve ever found.  It was stolen from the internet, I just wish I could remember where I got it.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (seriously, y’all — do not freak out about this)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Buns
  • 15 lbs lobster meat, arranged (optional)
  • Your parents’ permission

Usually makes six or seven nice-sized joes.  Sometimes I prefer to use more cumin and less brown sugar, it depends on the mood.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the ground beef for 5 minutes.  Add the onion and red bell pepper.  Saute for 5 more minutes, or until the onion is tender.  Drain the fat.

Now mix in the tomato paste and water, stirring until the paste is dissolved (doesn’t take very long).  Stir in everything else.  Continue to heat until the mixture is thick and stewy.  Sometimes, I like to add a little extra water and reduce again.

Bon appetit!  If you make it, let me know what you think.

On California

From the June 2004 issue of Metropolis (yes, Virginia, the huge piles of newspapers and magazines do eventually get digested).

For all their flaky granola daffiness, Californians gave us Silicon Valley, Multimedia Gulch, and the Lockheed Skunk Works.  Who are we to question the spiritual needs of these gentle unworldly people and their cyborg governor?

On storms

You might know that hurricane names are based on lists of names drawn up by committee years in advance.  I think I read somewhere that Atlantic names are one-third English, one-third French, and one-third Spanish to represent the countries in the region.  But I’ve decided it might be more satisfying to have our hurricanes named after strippers, whores, and drag queens rather than some bland lists of names in boy-girl order.

  • “Hurricane Cinnamon is breathlessly lurching toward Jacksonville!”
  • “Tropical Storm Trixie has grazed the island of Hispaniola.”
  • “The residents of Newport News have braced themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Virginia West.”  (special thanks to imposing local drag empress Virginia West)
  • “Tropical Storm All-Beef Patty has become unstable and has blown out to sea.”
  • “Tropical Depression Miss Thing has been brooding off the coast of the Bahamas for four days now.”

Victory over technology!

Yes! It is true! Eleven months after The Failure, I have successfully gotten all six of my beautiful halogen lights back up and running! It’s the Summer of Bill, I tell you! The Summer of Bill!!!

And all it took was a $56 part, a ladder, twenty minutes of straining, and ten months of self-loathing! As soon as the new couch comes, I’m havin’ a party, baby!

Flight of the penguin

I saw the “cute penguin movie” today (March of the Penguins).  Rather than bore you with the details (cute movie; Emperor penguins are remarkable creatures), I’ll skip right to the funny part.  I noticed in the credits the following three people listed consecutively: pianist, bassoonist, accountant.  My mind immediately fluttered to two courtly musicians and a guy with a giant calculator.

We don’t have liftoff

Mary and David Savoie had returned to their favorite viewing spot along the Indian River, bringing cousins from Pennsylvania to watch the shuttle launching in the distance.  Joshua Lacy had settled beside them with a cooler, and nearby, Tony Vivian had fired up his radio and grill.

All had staked out a grassy lot beside Route 1 to watch the first space shuttle liftoff in more than two years, but after hearing that the launching had been scrubbed, all left dejected.

“It was going to be so perfect,” said Ms. Savoie, casting one last glance at the Discovery, barely a glimmer across the water, before driving home to Sanford, near Orlando.  “Oh, well, make that past tense now.”

New York Times, 14 July 2005

No, damn it, make that subjunctive!  Regular old past tense is used for things that actually happened in the past!  Grammar idiocy is killing this nation.


I am taking the Criminal Law final exam today.  As usual, whatever I am taking at the moment tends to inform my actions and thoughts.  Lately I have been going around muttering “guilty of this, guilty of that” when I see bad things happen to good people.

I had a terrible nightmare about this test last night.  In real life the exam has fifty multiple-choice questions (I hope).  In the dream, I got to question 45 or so and then I think I decided to go get a drink of water.  When I came back, I noticed I only had about fifteen minutes left for the last five questions — no sweat.  Then I hit question 51, and then 52, and then realized the exam was a lot longer than I thought.  I did what I could to plod through the rest of the questions, looking at tame stuff like accessories before the fact and criminal negligence involuntary manslaughter.  Then it started getting crazy — questions like “If Defendant has an equilibrium of 2p = 0 * 5, what is the optimum value for p?”  I started to panic a lot and did my best as the exam changed form into a hybrid legal/math/chemistry mess.  Time was called, but I was nowhere close to being done!  As I frantically counted carbon atoms, a tall white woman stood over me and said, “Time is up!  Time is up!”  I tried to mark “A” for each multiple-choice answer but found the exam spiraling into short answer, essay, everything!  “You have reached the secret bonus section of the exam,” it read at question 80.  “Some of these questions are trial questions for future versions of this exam.  Be sure to answer everything completely!”  She started grabbing my test.  The entire room started chanting “Finish him, finish him!”

And I woke up, jerking my head off the pillow with a start and a yell, afterschool-special style.  In all my life I’ve never had a dream about a test before.

It’s been a looooooong year.  School ends Thursday.