Monthly Archives: January 2009

Litigation Batman Style

I have never wanted to be a litigator because I’m a baby when it comes to public speaking. I’m sure if you examined my childhood there would be explanations for this. Regardless, the following quote from The Dark Knight made me rethink litigation. I would appear in court if just to say this:

Sometimes, truth isn’t good enough; sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.

In what context could I say this?

Is it possible to deliver something better than “truth” in a system that so cherishes it? At what cost?

Super Bowl Prediction

When asked about sporting events I reply that I hope it’s a close game. Most of the time I don’t care about the teams involved. Even if my team is playing, I want the game to be close. I consider spending four hours watching a blowout a waste of my (very precious) time. I want something that will captivate me into the last few minutes. My standards for sporting events are no different that those for a good suspense story – an outcome that hangs on a twist of fate – an extra heave-ho from one team or the other – a four-leaf clover growing on the right side of the field.

With that said, and acknowledging that I honestly don’t care whether the Arizona Cardinals (9-7) or the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) win, I pick the Cardinals to beat the Steelers by a score of 35 to 24.

What is your prediction? Do you care about the game or are tuning in for the commercials alone?

Movie: Frost/Nixon

I saw Frost/Nixon this afternoon at the reduced rate of $7. The movie was worth the time and money. I don’t know much about Nixon beyond the loss in the debates to Kennedy because he looked tired and the Watergate “blemish.” And I’ve never cared much about Nixon as his time was before my time. Regardless, the movie does a good job of doing what it set out to do – get me up to speed on what I need to know about Watergate to have an appreciation for the significance of Frost’s devastating interview.

Frost/Nixon frames President Nixon as a smart, calculating and well advised individual who was, for most of the movie, a more than worthy adversary for the fumbling Frost. But what is revealed in the final interview – the interview about Watergate – the interview where Frost gets his act together – is a weakened and regretful, but no less dedicated, Nixon. His face shows the burden carried by a man who has failed a country.

It was at this point that I thought how nearly impossible it must be for any president, good or bad, worthy or not, republican or democrat to carry the burden of their actions – and the effects those actions have on the American people. The presidency is an official office and the president is an official. No matter how regimented of an approach the man elected to that position takes, his conscience must be incredibly heavy at any moment. I’m not sure I would want to be in that position.

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged (to do it next). You have to tag the person who tagged you.

I was tagged into this meme via Facebook. Here are 25 random things about me:

1. I recently purchased a miniature grappling hook for my key chain.

2. My favorite television show of all time is The West Wing.

3. I’ve recently been reminded of an old nickname: Mr. Elite.

4. I love frozen chocolate chip cookies.

5. I will never believe you can beat me at golf until we’ve played 36 holes together.

6. Looks like I’m headed to Chicago to practice law. Or at least take the bar.

7. I have hiked the Grand Canyon twice. That’s enough for awhile.

8. I would like to live in a small log cabin in the northern reaches of the Adirondack region, write and hike. For a month a year. That would be cool.

9. I am an unforgiving driver who doesn’t realize his own faults. Follow the rules!

10. I have never broken a bone.

11. It is virtually impossible for me to memorize lyrics. I envy those who can pick up a song after listening to it one or two times.

12. I enjoy driving long distances. Either alone or with someone. It doesn’t matter. I like the feeling of “going somewhere.” I like that I might see something happen that no one else will see. If you ever drive past me, you may see me taking pictures out of my car window.

13. One of my favorite places to be is in an airport before my flight departs. Despite being around thousands of strangers, I feel very alone in airports. Nothing can touch me once I’ve passed through security. At that point in the trip, I can exhale, find a coffee shop and start reading.

14. I need to be more Rhett and less Ashley.

15. I will be happy if I end up practicing law, although I imagine that I will be happier if I can do something more creative. That latter, however, requires an equal amount of effort and dedication as does the former. I realize this. But in three years of law school I’ve been unable to fully kill-off that part of me that wants to explore. For some reason I’ve yet to figure out how to join the two interests – law and everything else – but one day… one day…

16. I have more than a few gray hairs. This is because I worry about things and sweat the small stuff. I have some learning to do.

17. I believe that teachers hold tremendous power and influence. As a graduate student I’ve had my share of good and bad teachers. The good professors captivate me, regardless of the subject. The bad ones can ruin even the most interesting topics. What makes a good teacher and a bad teacher is tough to say.

18. I don’t mind cold weather. I’m a tough guy.

19. I appreciate home more now than before.

20. I eat the ends of french fries and hot dogs now without even thinking about it. For many years I had a strict “no ends” policy.

21. No matter how much I like an apartment when I move in, I end up finding something wrong with it within six months. This makes me wary of buying a house.

22. I have never ridden on a motorcycle or a snowmobile.

23. I would never buy a suit from Banana Republic. I really don’t know why, though. It just seems like an odd place to buy a suit, regardless of the quality.

24. I don’t mind doing dishes. It’s relaxing.

25. I need to find a job! This should be #1.

Illinois Bar It Is

I don’t know if deciding on a state in which to take the bar and subsequently practice law was easy for most, but it was subtly grueling for me. There are many factors I can cite that have complicated the decision. First is that I do not yet have a job lined up. If I did, it would be a no brainer to take the bar required to start my job. Second is that I’ve spread my networking base and presence a bit thin over the past five years by working in Virgina and going to law school in New Hampshire, and now have to make adjustments and work harder to make up for my past.

With that said I’ve decided to apply for the July Illinois State Bar Exam. My intention is to practice in or near Chicago. I like the city very much, it is close to family, and many of my friends now live and work there. Further, if the decision is between the Illinois bar and the Michigan bar, I have more leeway in transferring my MBE score from IL to MI (3 year) than I do from MI to IL (1 year).

While the Feb 1st deadline is forcing my decision, it is by no means the reason for my decision. I have for a long time been undecided, but MI and IL have always been the forerunners unless there was something significant that compelled me to go elsewhere. That hasn’t happened, and if it does I’ll deal with it in due time.

For the immediate future, my focus is on finishing the Illinois application in the next three days, then diving into the job search.

Movie: Revolutionary Road

Couple falls in love. Gets married. Moves to suburbia. Has two kids. Man toils in a job at the company his father worked at for 20 years.

Revolutionary Road is not the portrayal of a happy family. The movie opens with a fight between Frank and April Wheeler on the side of Route 12 in Connecticut. Frank almost strikes April, but instead hits the roof the car instead. From this point on I found myself pushing myself back in my seat to get away from the hate that seethed from just beneath that which the Wheeler’s acknowledged to one another.

Whether the Wheeler’s had grown apart or had simply never loved one another does not matter by the end of the movie. It is clear that for them to remain together one of them will have to sacrifice so much of who he/she is that the changed person would no longer be who they were. This reminds me of a scene from Marley & Me where Jennifer Aniston’s character says that she never imagined she would have to sacrifice so much of who she was to be a good wife and mother. April simply seems not able to accept this, although her situation seems much more isolated.

It is sad to see Frank unable to accept how miserable April truly is. Is this a 1950s family dynamic insensitivity? Or is it something much bigger? Their problems seem much larger than his selfish approach to his family.

Nothing was bigger than the Wheeler’s to the Wheelers. Life was about achieving their dreams, but before they even realized they weren’t fulfilling their dreams they had sold out to suburbia.

This movie mad me think a lot about how impossibly hard it must be at times to be happy with someone else. It is hard from day to day to be happy alone, let alone caring for a spouse and children. There has to be a huge amount of understanding, trust, and effort visibly put forth. By no means am I saying that I don’t think it is worth it, but this movie cemented for me the importance of seeing the best in the person you are with. The importance of listening. The importance of not being scared to take a risk.

Final note: There was no mention of religion in this movie. It seemed like a deliberate statement. There is a default set of values and a community of support that comes along with being religious. Even if you are on the fringe, I believe just knowing it is there for you – believing that there is a God – gives you something bigger to turn to when everything you can see, touch, feel, smell, and hear makes no sense to you. I can only wonder how including religion in Frank and April’s lives would have changed the outcome of the movie.

Spring Semester: Week 2

Considering this is my last semester of law school, it seems only right to document some of it. I’m starting a week late, but that is kind of the theme thus far into the semester. Just this morning did I receive my last of five grades from last semester. Administrative Procedure was the holdout. When you think about it, the drop/add day has already passed. Technically, had I not passed Admin Pro I would have to stay an extra semester because it’s a required course. I’m sure exceptions could or would be made, but the point is that receiving grades this late is unacceptable.

Concerning my own snafus, I’m just now settling into my course schedule. I had to drop the mini-course, International and Comparative Copyright Law because it conflicted with Estate Planning for a grand total of 1.5 hours later on in the semester. I was told by the registrar that that was unacceptable. I switched to Federal Trademark and Copyright Registration, but later had to drop than when I discovered that Copyright Licensing does not fulfill the upper-level writing requirement I need. So, my final course load is as follows:

Environmental Law (EL)
Judicial Opinion Drafting (JOD)
Business Entities Taxation (BET)
Estate Planning (EP)
Copyright Licensing (CL)

Last semester I had it good. The grading of most of the classes in which I was enrolled was heavily weighted towards the final exam or project. I liked that because it simplified the semester. I wasn’t bothered with writing projects, oral presentations, and midterms. I could learn for four months and then regurgitate it on the page. And, no, I don’t think I crammed and then just forgot it all. It was a solid semester.

This semester is a different story. Despite my weeks concluding at 10am on Thursday and having 3.75 day weekends for the entire semester, my courses are absurd. Judicial Opinion Drafting involves writing three opinions and a 45 minute oral presentation where I am to lead class discussion regarding a justice or judge of my choice. Stop right there. That is enough to ruin my semester. Legal writing AND oral presentations. I seriously considered whether I really wanted to finish this whole “law school thing” when I saw that in the syllabus. Then there’s Copyright Licensing which is “simple,” yet it involves negotiating (read: talking).

I guess it’s finally time to face my fears. To open my mouth. To crack open my BlueBook (legal citation reference) if I can find it in storage. This is going to be a hectic semester, and I haven’t even complained about life decisions, bar applications, and searching for a job yet.

To do this weekend:

EL: Read about Eminent Domain and The Takings Clause
JOD: Read “How I write” law review articles and draft standard of reviews for a NH trial court.
BET: Review partnership taxation.

Fun stuff. K. Time to work. Bye.

Inauguration 2009

I watched from my little room on my old TV a great moment in history – the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. The prayer was inspiring. The music was moving. The swearing in was, well, a bit clumsy, but sincere nonetheless. A great start to a presidency with great potential.

All of this progress is good, however let us not forget the state of the union. Obama’s repeated sounding of, “Things will get worse before they get better,” still applies. We have a long and hard road ahead of us as a nation. The strength of Obama is the inspiration and goodness that will trickle-down from the President’s bully pulpit to individual Americans.

Let us not be fooled by the changing of the guard. While changing the name subsequent to “President” is significant, as I have often found in moving from one apartment to another, it doesn’t take long to find something wrong with the new place. And by the time my lease is up I can’t wait to move. I’m optimistic that Obama’s presidency will be different, but he has to do more than not be Bush.

God Bless America!

A Cold Walk at Night

It was late and the main street was silent and empty except for a young man walking with his hands in his pockets. His breath was gray under the yellow streetlights. When the wind rushed down the cross-streets between the red brick buildings the young man’s eyes watered. Rather than wiping away the tears he let them roll down his numb cheeks and freeze as they thinned. The smell of Indian food came with the wind and he breathed deep until his lungs hurt with cold. Then he exhaled and forgot the smell before it made him hungry. The red neon blush of Vinnie’s Pizza was ahead.

Behind, up the hill, the young man could see only the soft glow of town compared to the darkness left and right of it. The moon hovered big and low and shone with a brightness by which he could read the fragile ticking hands on his watch. 3:40 a.m. There was no traffic on the narrow road. The people who drive this road go to Church at 9am or have families to put to bed and spouses to comfort.

Another hour of walking and town was no longer visible. The woods on either side of the young man faded from dark gray dirt to the white moon. The trees in the foreground silhouetted against the gradient looked like massive black stakes thrust into the ground. The young man drew his arms tighter around his core. He flexed every muscle he could still control to ward off the cold, but could not stop shivering. He held his breath then exhaled down the collar of his coat. The warm air comforted him momentarily, but was replaced with dampness. He shuddered.

The young man wanted to walk until he felt nothing, and now he felt nothing but the biting cold. The feeling was not as calming as he had wished it to be. Instead, with town more than an hour behind him he felt everything. The wind blew hard and didn’t let up for several minutes. His teeth were clattering together now. His cheeks felt firm and it hurt to open his eyes.

As dawn approached he crossed the faded double-yellow line on the narrow road and started walking back towards town. Into traffic. There was no traffic at this hour. The people who drive this road are finishing their dreams and snoring.

The low skyline of town came clear in front of the rising sun. Walking uphill was hard on the young man’s knees. He was stiff and tired and didn’t want to walk any longer. Vinnie’s Pizza was dark. The wind had died. The cross-streets were calm. The young man would go straight home now. He wanted to be warm and to sleep until it was dark again.

Movie: Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino far exceeded my expectations, but it is difficult to pinpoint why. The acting of the supporting characters was often suspect, the story was predictable and simple, and the scenery was depressing. Overall it was a very plain movie about a lonely racist troubled old man who does all that he can not to befriend his Asian neighbors. Then he does.

But the takeaway of Gran Torino is obvious when I think about it. The flaws make the movie. Detroit is full of suspect characters that overshadow the good ones. Detroit’s reality is predictably desperate, broken, and and gritty. Every damn day. Detroit’s scenery is depressing.

Each of these things is Detroit for better or worse, and the movie captures that. Beyond that the tension in the movie stems from the duality between old and young men, well kept yards and broken down houses, Fords and Toyotas… learned and naive.

Advice to Myself

I posted this on a blog I wrote back in 2005 titled, “The Idle Hour.”

Don’t eat too healthy.
Sing in the shower.
Have fun, but work hard and don’t mix the two.
Raise your hand.
Ask questions.
Remember names.
Watch a TV show religiously.
Read books and magazines.
Stay clean.
Take a big risk from time to time.
Don’t forget how good home is.
Learn to depend on others, but don’t trust everyone.
Be moved by music.
Love someone.
Be foolish.
Don’t be fake.

Let’s see how I’m doing now, nearly four years later.

I rarely get the recommended amount of sleep, which, depending on source, varies. But I don’t feel tired and I seem to function well during the day.

I definitely don’t eat too healthy. Back when I wrote this I was downing about two burritos, four PopTarts, five cans of Diet Pepsi, countless cups of coffee, and a healthy amount of junk food – daily. Needless to say I gained a little weight. Not too much, but enough so that I didn’t fit into a pair of pants I bought in college. An odd feeling, but being young, it didn’t slow me down. I eat better now. I haven’t succumbed to the protein rich (enjoyment low) diets that some of my male friends endure for bigger muscles. (Really, how much muscle does it take to read and type!). It’s all about moderation.

I sign in the shower, but my true source of creative movement relief is dancing in the car while driving. Just give me XM channel 20 (Top 20 pop songs) and pump up the volume. I honestly think I might have some moves to show off that people would want to see. However, put me on the floor of a dance club and I will stand there frozen. I believe this is a comfort zone issue!

I have fun and I work hard. That’s pretty much how you have to approach law school if you want to survive.

I have not raised my hand enough in the past few years. It’s intimidating and often opens a can of worms. To my knowledge no one has died from raising their hand to date. I’m making a concerted effort to speak more in my classes this semester because my class sizes are smaller (six to 15 students) and the silence kills me.

Ask questions. Ditto.

I’m still horrible at remembering names. I need to work on this. I can meet someone, go through introductions, and then literally immediately forget what they said. It’s a “being present” issue, I believe. My mind is actually ahead of the moment in time thinking of something about which to converse. Definitely need to work on this.

I watch a lot of TV shows religulously. This has never been a problem and never will be. However, and this is a contradictory statement, TV is very take it or leave it for me. Not necessarily because I don’t care to see a show, but because there are so many ways to time shifting my shows.

I read a lot for school, which I don’t count as reading. Reading, for me, is more like reading something I got from Amazon or an actual bookstore. Reading, for me, is something of which I don’t do enough.

I’m clean. Except, now, I don’t like washing my jeans. Ever. It’s just not right to wash denim. Otherwise, I’m very clean and organized.

I don’t take enough big risks. This is partly tied to decisions. I need to develop a personalized approach to dealing with difficult problems more efficiently. Then take the risks without regret. I’m specifically thinking about the company I need to get off the ground with my sister. It’s been put off for too long.

Home is amazing. I have not forgotten. Nor will I ever. Traverse City is home. It’s both the same and very different every time I return. (This reminds me of the Benjamin Button quote.)

I think I have learned to depend on others. This line from above is my least favorite. It makes me seem like I was wronged at the time by someone or something. Perhaps I felt that way because of the chaos at work at the time. But honestly, no one has ever really ruined my trust in them. The best thing I can take out of this is, perhaps, that I need to develop a tougher skin.

I am more moved by music than ever before. I’m green, uninformed and at timed aloof to trends in music. However, it can be powerful, funny, fun, happy, rad, etc. You name it…

Love someone. Love someone. Love someone.

Someone close to me said recently that I’m too serious. It was seconded by another person. So, perhaps I have some work to do on being foolish, letting loose, and enjoying the present for what it is. I suppose my worrying negates any foolishness points gained by car dancing.

Don’t be fake. This is something that comes with age. Although I will say this. That the pressure to assimilate sways. As a teenager I wanted to fit in (to an extent – I was not desperate for attention). To be the same was not something that concerned me. I wanted to do well. To be good. Now, however, assimilation means, for example, not writing a blog entry that will hinder my job prospects should a prospective employer read it. I hate that. To me that is censorship of my expression. It is a harsh reality of the life I am currently in pursuit of. Somehow, there has to be a balance between not being fake and not screwing myself over. I’m not there yet, so mark this one down as still working.

I Will Forge On

The following quote by Clint Eastwood got me thinking about stuff that I’ve been thinking about more lately than before.

My father died very suddenly at sixty-three. Just dropped dead. For a long time afterward, I’d ask myself, Why didn’t I ask him to play golf more? Why didn’t I spend more time with him? But when you’re off trying to get the brass ring, you forget and overlook those little things. It gives you a certain amount of regret later on, but there’s nothing you can do about it. So you just forge on. (link)

I feel like this a lot lately. Not just with my father, but with my mother, sister, and friends. Even the dogs. Life passes so quickly that I often find it difficult to keep up. I wish there were 48 hours in each day so that I could call home more often, play an extra round of golf, or just shoot the shit with the people that mean the most to me.

We traveled a lot when I was a kid. We went to Disney World, out West on a train, skiing at Vail, and many other places. I see now, more than ever, how difficult it is (and how much more difficult it is becoming despite cell phones, skype, IM, etc.) to keep in touch – to get people together – to squeeze in a round of golf between school, work, travel, and whatever else occupies my time.

Grand plans are nice, but not required. Activities that were once trivial now create some of my most cherished memories. It is the short sunny hikes, silent hours on the couch, grabbing a quick beer, or riding into town that give me a chance to catch up. I rarely have much to say, but it’s nice just to be there. To be with family. To be around friends. It is in doing things with these people that I prove my lonely stubbornness wrong and find meaning in my life.

I do forge on, Clint. But I also wake up each morning wondering if I’m making enough of an effort. If I’m talking enough. If I’m doing enough. If I’m headed in the right direction. If… if… if… And these “ifs” will forever remain. There will seldom be definite answers. But I think that is okay because in the end I’ll have definite memories, too. I’ll forge on with my definite memories held closer than most other things I cherish. Those memories will comfort me that I did enough, and that although I could have done more, I am so fortunate to have the memories I do have.

Stream of Chris

This is from the archive, but I want to put it here so I don’t have to save it elsewhere. I used to have this in the sidebar of my blog. Then I took it down. Now, it’ll live on here. It’s just random stuff I thought of while working my job back in 2005.


speed of the puma strength of the bear (ben)
99 degree therma core raises body heat
time senstitive means junk mail
how to be boring by npr: soft talk, monotone, stupid questions
country clubs make me want to make money
make a short film – 10 to 15 minutes
communal back brushes should not exist
the art of golf – it isn’t easy to learn to hit a high fade or low draw, etc on demand.
driving by ex gf’s house. before you knew it. while you knew it. after you knew it. the shell, filled with the same people but different lives.
it’s like november in your apartment
north american strong man association
how to describe hot to unwrap a drinking straw
that’s rediculous
that guy, the girl
good news vs. negativity
learning to respect money
two baseball leagues or one?
write stories about pictures in house
who doesn’t want to be creative?
wedding ring or 18?
peninsula cremation story.
spontaneous panels
send links to friends once a week
i <3 sarah silverman remake a minute 60 times. or daily. oregon trail. remember? there's nothing wrong with falling. wait, i mean failing. old friends... who initiates the hug? cache cliche blind drawings