Life As Is

...it being understood that Seller and Seller's agents make no representations or warranties
pertaining to the fixtures or state of repair of the World or any of its systems.

Thursday, September 30, 2004
  locales :
pastoral homefront

favorite foodstand

cherished learning environment

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
  La Follette Bloggers : Readers of this blog know that I am currently a 4L (technically, a two-time 3L), but may not know why. I am here for four years as a dual degree student--J.D. (Law) and M.P.A. (Public Affairs). Highly recommended if you want to delay submitting yourself to the job market for a year. Plus, I like getting to know people outside the law school. Students at the (Fightin' Bob) Lafollette School of Public Affairs are a well-grounded lot.

Welcome, then, to two Bob-Types who have blogs now listed over on the left-hand side. Little Ceasar's Daily R&R ("puppies and politics, rants and raves... on a somewhat daily basis") and Mr. Brendon's Big Blog ("I will discuss with you the power of the word") should give readers a good introduction to the eclectic mind of a public affairs student. Worse dressed than a law student, and a little less stressed, but all-in-all, someone you'd much rather introduce your mother to.

(And when I say "worse dressed," I mean that in the best way possible).
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
  controversy : This got my grad school classmate in trouble today when she e-mailed it out to a list of people in our department. I don't see what is so threatening about it. It's just a combination of letters and words strung together.

Justice Powell would say: If you don't like what you see, it's a short journey from the mailbox to the waste basket.
  Looking forward to thursday : I heard an explanation of the Bush presidency this morning that makes it easy to understand why he enjoys such widespread support. Beyond the core group of people who support him for the tax cuts, Bush appeals to the public at large on two levels. He has staked much on the notion of extending the principles of democracy to other countries, which connects to our highest ideals. And he holds himself up as our protector, which speaks to our fears and elicits a more visceral response. The combination is a very powerful one. By contrast, Kerry's appeal is purely intellectual--he only reaches us on that one level.

It's an important debate.

(UPDATE: Mom, I know you're out there. Don't worry, Kerry will do fine.)
Monday, September 27, 2004
  SosySteps Update : Judging by the amount of feedback I have received--the new feature, SosySteps, is getting a fair amount of traffic and people like it. I'll keep the link at the top over on the right-hand side. As I mentioned before, the primary intended audience is family, friends, and regular readers who are curious. The point is to archive daily vignettes from my son's life. My plan for the future is set it up so that K can start posting too, hopefully with two of us doing it we can make it last for the longterm.

I'm still figuring out how to do it right. Today I struggled with how to write something down over there without making it too cutesy. He'll probably read it someday, and of course I don;t want him to feel bad or weird about what I've written--especially becasue he'll know that a whole bunch of people read it before he did (most of them probably his family members, but still).
  Naming a Child : It's not at all easy to pick out a name for a child. I am in the process of doing so right now for our Number Two, scheduled to arrive in February. Sosy has already given his little brother-to-be a nickname, "Paco," so we usually just call him that since it sounds better than Number Two. The process of picking out an actual name has to be taken much more seriously than the adoption of a nickname, however, in part because nicknames inevitably morph and change over time, so the choice of actual starting point for a nickname (in this case Paco) carries less gravity.

Also, those know know me are aware of my deep love for the ceremonial aspects of life. I like to use people's full names and middle initials. When I draft legal documents I make liberal use of phrases such as "whereupon," "be it resolved", and "hereby set my hand and seal." And, if you need any more convincing, consider that I am probably the only person at this law school who thinks about becoming a notary on a daily basis. We can debate the merits of my adoration of what some would call pomp and circumstance at a later time. The point is, this name has to be good.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
  New Feature : As promised, I set upa new feature for the family audience out there (and other readers who are curious). A place to archive tidbits from my son's life: pictures, vignettes, etc. It's called SosySteps. Check it out.

The picture is of him but even though it says my name right next to it. I have to figure out how to change the profile.

  mind warp : Law School has permanently altered my brain functions.

K and I have been casually looking into the cost of childcare in order to know what we would be up against if she decides to stop taking care of Sosy fulltime and enter the workforce or go back to school. As of 2004, in Madison, I'm told that it would cost roughly 10,000/yr/child. Holy scheisse. So far no evidence of brain-warpage, but next K and I began to weigh other costs that would be associated with the decision.

We both agreed that monetary costs aren't the only factor... it's complicated because of all the variables, but kids in daycare don't get as much one-on-one attention as most parents would like, etc. So there may be social costs associated with daycare that go above and beyond the monetary costs. Here's where the mind warpage seeps in.

I started busting into the compensatory damages jargon: "If we assume that the social costs of childcare are roughly equivalent to monetary costs... so let's see that's 10,000 monetary... 10,000 social...." I was about to conclude that it would not be worth working unless she could rake in at least 20,000 (after-taxes) PLUS the opportunity cost of working. But I was interrupted by a humbling realization:

"You can't put a number on that!" She said, laughing, assuming that I was joking. Oh my heavens, she was right! I tried to act cool but on the inside I was shaken. In law school you can just assume away inconveinent facts and use numbers to represent things that can't be quantified. But, um, this isn't law school. This is life. Make a note of that.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
  Changes : Finished my TABOR write-up a little early (conclusion: bad idea jeans); no problems printing even though I had to use the evil and diseased law school computer lab. My kind of day.

Here are the plans for the blog:

1. Keep the title "Life As Is"--can't belive I settled on one--but think of ways to emphasize the double meaning, which is a reference to "as is" buy/sell contracts. Maybe it's more of a latent meaning; not actually sure if i's a double meaning, becasue what would the first be? Anyway, mental note, don't overdo it with trying to emphasize the contracts connection, maybe just leave as is (I crack me up).

2. Get the blogroll and the archives onto one side, and shape up the roll with links to UW Law Blogs and more langauge links.

3. Change color, this red had its time and place but now it's bringing me down. looks to much like a high school blog. I want mine to be dark and brooding with nifty design elements.

4. This is the most exciting part--link to my new project "SosySteps" which will be a kindof family-oriented thingy on whatever Sosy's latest thing is, with pictures and anecdotes glaore. Primary intended audience: family members and curious readers of the main blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
  Clerkships : Congratulations to Eric Barber, who landed a prestigious judicial clerkship with Judge Richard C. Wesley of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Eric graduated in May and is spending this year as clerk for Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Congrats also to two of my current classmates who landed clerkships: Sarah Maguire and Bryan Cahill. Both will graduate with me in May 2005. Sarah was my Law Review Editor-in-Chief, and Bryan I know from both Law review and study groups. Haven't seen them around much lately (neither at the Law school nor, in Bryan's case, Whole Foods)--must be because they were off meeting with judges far and wide.

By the way, you read my post on OCI yesterday. Interviewing for clerkships is MUCH more competitive. So these three just went through uber-OCI... hats off.

(UPDATE: Bryan's clerkship is with Prosser, so he'll be staying in Madison. Also Congrats to Jerry Bramwell, who snagged a federal clerkship in the Western District of Kentucky.)
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
  Doughnuts and Blogging : I enjoyed the Doughnuts & Faculty discussion this a.m. (topic: blogging). My favorite moment was when Professor Bilder, trying to understand, asked: "Now why is it that anybody would read these things?" A central issue that emerged for me was whether or not I should put up a site meter again and start keeping track of how many viewers see this. Prof. A. made a compelling case for it. She said that when keeping a traditional journal or sketchbook (of which she, like me, has had many over the years) there is a deeply-held, almost-secret desire that someday it will be published and read widely. I was struck by the raw honestly of her admission.

From the no-site-meter camp comes prof. C.--read her own (equally-amazingly honest) assessment here. I think I tend to oscillate back and forth between these two extremes (although their blogs are very similar in some ways), somewhere in the less-honest middle ground.

Anyhow, the session made me take another stroll through the various UW Law blogs out there. Many are grappling with OCI, which got me thinking and motivated my post from earlier today. I made a pledge to keep up better with other UW Law bloggers, and I'll get that side bar in shape with some links soon, too.
  My OCI : The first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce. That was my experience participating in the law school's on-campus interviewing (OCI) program. OCI is the reason that the jean-clad scruff who usually sits next to you in Tax was randomly replaced by a dashing young man in a nicely-cut suit today. He may have even smelled good. But you can believe his palms were sweaty.

Like some others out there, I went through it not once but twice. But unlike most OCI-vets with two tours behind them, who went off and graduated--strange concept--I have been around to ponder and reflect on my own experience while watching the next wave of achievers make their way to the front.

I call my first year, 2002, my tragedy year because... well, you try it. To be successful at OCI I had to learn how to package myself, and I found that to be very dehumanizing. Which is just another way of saying lonely, I suppose. My second year of OCI, 2003, was a farce because by then I had only one place in mind--a firm here in Madison--as the place I wanted to work. But I still interviewed with a bunch of others, as a safety net. Rather than being a dehumanizing experience, it was simply a disingenuous one.

I wouldn't be writing about this if I hadn't ended up at the place I wanted (thank heavens). Happy endings are a good thing. And looking back I'm even ok with the tragedy part of it--knowing as I do now that it was a growing experience for me. I could have done without the farce.
Monday, September 20, 2004
  In other developments : The WI State Law Library has a separate page on its website dedicated to real-property law.

Sol has taken up cooking.

And, music is a virus.
  Not a Member of BATLaw :
The Economist reports that on 9/13, this man and his accomplice strutted their superpower moves and exposed major weaknesses in buckingham Palace security. Registration req'd, so I'll give you the story in relevant part:

On September 13, two men dressed as comic-book characters scaled a fence around Buckingham Palace before clambering on to a ledge. Robin Robin (David Pyke) gave up when challenged by armed police, but Batman (Jason Hatch) shouted and gesticulated for five hours. His point: he was a serious and responsible parent who ought to be granted more access to his children.

Mr Hatch, who once changed his surname in order to protect his children's privacy (the move hardly seems sufficient), not only attracted further scepticism and ridicule for his cause. He also fell for the old police trick of plying protesters with sweet drink. As any child will testify, a good dose of orange squash will, after a few hours, lead to discomfort. Particularly if your underpants are on over your trousers.

Saturday, September 18, 2004
  Yogurt Face :
Friday, September 17, 2004
  Donuts & Faculty on Blogging : This tues the Law School's weekly faculty-student discussion (called "Donuts & Faculty) is about blogging. The discussion will led by Ann Althouse. 8:30 a.m., Lubar, etc. Donuts and coffee will be provided, but it's bring your own laptop.

If you've recently graduated and would still like to attend, I'm pretty sure I can get you in. (Oh, wait, you have jobs.)

  Control Freak : Tagline for a story from The Economist Web site: Vladimir Putin, control freak. The story provides details of the Russian leader's power grab following last week's tragedy in Beslan. From now on the governors of Russia's 89 regions will be chosen by the President (!) and approved by a local assembly rather than being elected. OK then.

Also interesting (in a more positive way) is Putin's framing of the tragedy, in part, as a poverty issue. Putin pledged to create:
...a federal commission for the northern Caucasus, whose main job will be "the improvement of the standard of living in the region".

To Putin-watchers, the last item does signal a shift. Though he still blames foreign terrorists for stirring up trouble in the northern Caucasus, he also admitted in this week’s speech that "the roots of terror lie in the continuing massive unemployment in the region, and the lack of an effective social policy".

"Maybe he is only now reali[z]ing that the poverty and social problems are the roots of these conflicts," says Fiona Hill of America’s Brookings Institution.
Rather than determining to fight "terror" strictly on the supply side (which is how I would characterize the U.S. response to 9/11), will Russia adopt an approach closer to that advocated by former President Clinton, which is to attempt to reduce the demand for it?
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
  quid-nunc : The Latin words quid and nunc literally mean "what" and "now." Put them together to get my new favorite English word: quidnunc (pronounced KWID-nungk according to Martha Barnette.) A quidnunc is a nosy person; a busybody (Am.H. 2000). THat is, someone who is always asking, "What now?"

"The condo is wonderful and you'll love the neighborhood, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn that you’ll be living next door to a pair of quidnuncs." (Barnette).
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
  Hatch goes west :

A tip of the hat to H., friend and lawschool classmate, who arrived in Madison with his family late August, 2001, and departed today. For three years I saw him meet every challenge and, with sweat and tears, come out ahead.

Well done, my good man.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
  dive in : This past week the big Maple that shades one whole side of our apt building dropped its leaves. Today Sawyer, Bryon, Juliette, and Ling Shiu took advantage of the situation.

After the other kids left, Sawyer kept the party going on his own.

I love the fall.

Saturday, September 11, 2004
  The Articles' Long Shadow : You've gotta love Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Washington Post. A real stickler for grammar and usage. His website is called The Slot, after the traditional place for a copy editor to sit at the horseshoe-shaped desk of a newspaper editor. The various department editors, known as "rim men," would sit around the outside.

Walsh is from the old school (read: a hardass). In my view that is appropriate, because he is at the top of his game. As would be true in any profession, he has a right to expect as much from his colleagues/workers/pupils/etc. as he expects of himself. That's how I feel about professors here at the law school. It is fine for them to expect a lot of me--in fact I appreciate it--as long as they themselves aren't just "phoning it in" as J.L. would say. Most do not. Here's a tidbit from Walsh that lawyers will appreciate. It's a post from the blog section of his website:
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. No apostrophe. Unreal. Would you trust these peopleses with your singular child?

The error, for the record, is that they tried to use "childrens" as an adjective to describe their hospital. The word "children" is already plural, however, so if they really wanted to do that it should have been "Children Hospital," which sounds rather strange. In any case, the presence of the "s" can only signify possession, here, but you need an apostrophe for that.

Here's the part that lawyers will like:
(Update: I wrote to the hospital through its Web site, and a PR person was nice enough to answer. Apparently this question comes up a lot. It seems the error is an old one, and attempts to insert the apostrophe have been rebuffed by staff lawyers in the name of consistency with the articles of incorporation. Still reprehensible, but to my mind not as bad as...
He goes on to reference an even more "reprehensible" practice discussed in one of his earlier posts. Let's not go there. He's a bit too much of a crusty curmudgeon for me to parrot his entire rant. But he's Walsh. He's in the slot. I respect him.

Friday, September 10, 2004
  policy on typos : It's an interesting topic--what to do about blog typos and errors. Writing is a process, that's how I see it. So I'm sure I'll go back and edit previous posts on occasion. Just style editing, though. If I reverse myself on an actual idea or assertion, I'll do it openly.

Some typos desrve to be left in place, however. Earlier today I indicated that I would be learning about the various tax rescources at the library. And this is from Gabber Blabber last week, when sol was considering whether or not to put up the money for a pricey computer monitor: The problem is, I don't want to buy a CRT, but a flat screen is expansive. That's great stuff.

I've been mentioned in one of Eric's kingly decrees. It's true, I am on record as having said that "blogspot" is an ugly word. I still think it's a terribly unfortunate word combination, but in making that assertion, insofar as I meant that I would never migrate over to Blogspot, I guess I'm a flip-flopper. And by the way, did you know that, much like Pinnochio's nose, every time you flip-flop on an issue your lantern jaw grows larger? (Just kidding.)

The tax party was awkward but informative, by the way. Over and out.
  Finally settled on a title, I think : After trying out a bunch of titles I finally settled on the one above--At Last/at Least. It's from my old companion, Lucky. German guy. I traveled with him through Vietnam. He could never get "et lawst" and "et leest" right because he had learned them backwards. After traveling with him for almost two weeks I had them switched in my mind, too, and the next time I heard a person use them correctly, to me they sounded wrong. One of those things.

I'm off to Tax I. We're getting a special lecture from the law librarian today on all the tax rescources that the Law Library has to offer. That's right, it's a tax party, and I'm invited.

(Update: Changed the title again two days later.)
Thursday, September 09, 2004
  announcing my presence : I just sent out an email to a (very small) group of people giving them the URL. Hello visitors.
  Aus-pi-cious : Et-y-mol-o-gy I would forget if I did not write it down. Definition of Auspicious: 1. Attended by favorable circumstances; propitious. 2. Marked by prosperity or success. (Am.H., 2000). Now, here is an interesting usage point:
Purists have sometimes tried to limit the use of the adjective to meaning "of good omen," but the meaning has long since generalized to mean "favorable, successful": This has been an auspicious organizational meeting, one that gets the company off to a good start. (Columbia, 1993)
The purists are focusing on the word's Latin root "auspic-," which is also in the word auspice, an observer of birds. Auspicy is the practice of bird divination.

This is the kind of stuff that I love. I am with the purists on this one. We already have the word propitious, which means presenting favorable circumstances. No reason to take auspicious and make it into the same thing, kissing goodbye that special shade of meaning brought by the root word "auspic-" (i.e., the omen factor). The next time you find yourself using the word propitious, check your calendar. If it is January 1st, those favorable circumstances that you are describing are propitious if you only mean they have gotten the year off to a good start. BUT, if they signal the coming of a good year ahead, say auspicious, as in a birdly divined sign of good things to come. Flapping your wings is optional.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
  renouncing my presence : This is the latest incarnation of the weblog kept by yours truly, which is emerging from slumber. A friend has referred to his blog as going into hibernation. That suits me. I like to think of my blog as a sleeping bear.

I found a it strangely amusing when my fingers typed out the word renouncing (instead of re-announcing) at the outset of this post. It's a common blogger theme, and you'll see it here no less than anywhere else: the love/hate relationship with one's own blog.

Hello to my far flung former classmates. The Atrium is empty without you (More on that later, too).


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