Monday, January 29, 2007

The Body Perfect

I was feeling pretty good after a four mile run on the treadmill. Tired, covered in sweat, yes; but still pretty happy and looking forward to hitting the pool for a couple laps. I sat in front of my locker and pulled off my shoes and was surprised to the see the toe of my right sock was soaked in blood. Shock and awe were my first emotions; that I could apparently lose that much blood and not even know that something was wrong was a little puzzling. I pulled of the sock gingerly, still not knowing what I would find underneath it. I looked at my toes, inspecting each one looking for the source of my blood, eventually; I found a popped blister on the underside of my middle toe. As soon as I saw the little sore it started to hurt. Amazing.

I’m always amazed by the brain and our nervous system. I had run 4 miles and not felt a thing, but now, sitting, my foot was throbbing. What ever nerve that was responsible for sending messages to my brain had been ignored until my eyes, seeing the sore, alerted my brain to go find that signal and pay attention to it as it might be important. Pain, truly is relative. Pain doesn’t exist until our brain recognizes it, but once recognized, it’s difficult to get the brain to move on to something else. What an interesting machine we occupy.

A few weeks ago I took my brother to see the Bodies exhibit. It’s a roving show that has plasticized cadavers, bodies skinned so that you can see the muscles, organs, and other internal structures, and then posed so you can see the human body in work. It was an interesting show. At first it feels strange to be examining the bodies of long dead people in such an exhibitionist format, as if it were the definition of irreverence, but then you are over-taken with a sense of awe at how we are, each of use, put together. One of the most amazing displays were a nearly perfect dissection of the CNS, they had taken the spine and all the nerves from a body, keeping the nerves mostly whole. The result was a beautiful white tree, in a vague shape of a human body. It is amazing to think that one of those spindly threadlike nerves down at my toe was sending a electro-chemical signal all the way up to the spine and then to the brain were the signal was converted into a pain signal I could act on. Such a complex system capable of such complex work, no computer can even come close to this type of sophistication and complexity. Amazing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

1000 Customers Served....

Well, according to my little stat counter I've passed 1,000 visitors today. I actually restarted the counter about three months into the blog, but I'll celebrate this milestone anyway (despite it probably happening a while ago). Most of the visitors have been random but I'm happy, nonetheless ,to have you here; if by accident or by choice. So, thanks to all the readers and I hope you return.

To search for perfection is all very well, but to look for heaven is to live here in hell.

Well, in only 23 days I’ve managed to abandon my New Year’s resolution of rethinking the way I approach this blog. I had intended to blog less, and instead, focus more on a a couple of longer, higher quality posts per months rather than the sporadic burst of thought that this blog is now. However, I was kidding myself. I don’t have time in my life for long, well written pieces unless they are related to what I’m studying at the moment. And while I’m really exciting about personal jurisdiction and the 14th amendment, bilateral contracts, and the duty element in negligent torts; I’m pretty sure it would make for rather bland blogging.

At the heart of why I had made the resolution was an effort to fit this blog into it’s proper place in my life. To strike a balance with the time spend getting thoughts out of my head with cramming legal theories into it, to time spend gathering information online with time spend with my wife and dog. This issue of balance is one the most men/women face, the ancients Greeks were even pondering the subject and sought balance in life as a path to happiness. Yet, four thousand years later, the issue of balance is still one of the imminent questions of modern life, how does one achieve balance in life that will lead to happiness?

Recently, a local drivetime radio DJ was issued his own view on the subject. He had come to the conclusion that there are three competing compulsions/forces in a man/woman life and that balancing these is key to success. The three forces: work, family (& friends), and health. Unfortunately, he also said than in his near 50 years he never met any who could maximize all three, at the best a man could be successful in two of these fields. He held himself up as an example, he has excelled at work, he is in the most important time slot in a major market, as far as the radio business is concerned, he had made it to the top. He also said he was a good family man; a good father and loving husband. His health, well, he just didn’t have the time. He is a little overweight, he hadn’t run in years, and his blood chemistry is less than stellar. He also went on to say that if someone says that they have achieved success in all three areas, that they are liars. You could, according to this viewpoint, be good at all three and balance them, but you couldn’t be great in all areas, there just isn’t enough time or energy available to a mortal man.

I think there might be some credeance to the this man’s viewpoint. I think I am pretty happy, but I also think that I’ve managed to balance his forces.

Work. I have always been a good worker. I have always earned good grades, been hired into good jobs with decent pay, and received positive performance reviews. Now, back in school, I am a good student. My last round of test were A and B+s. I spend a good amount of time in the law library reading, prepping, and exploring issues beyond class. But, I now that I do hold back somewhat, I could spend more time, I could read and analyze more, and I could get straight A’s if only I gave a little more of myself to the process.

Family: I am a good husband. I love spending time with my wife, I try to listen, and I try to make her happy everyday. I also try to be a good son and brother. I call my parent every Sunday even when I don’t have anything to say or am truly not interest in what they have been doing (they are retired, every day is pretty much the same). I’m interest in what my brothers and sister are doing, I want them to do well, and I want to see them as often as I can. But, I could do better. I am not a very good friend. Currently, I get together with the guy maybe 4 times a year for dinner and via sporadic emails. I should call them more, I should reach out and try to involve them more in our lives, but I don’t. I have also not tried to expand my friend circle much since coming back to school. There have been opportunities: after class get together, kegs, recreational sports, and other event to draw the class together, but I’ve passed on them all to spend more time at home.

Health: I try to stay healthy. I try to run, swim and lift weights. As a former high school and college athlete, I’ve tried to maintain the healthy lifestyle I learned in school. But, there is more I could do in this area as well. I want to run a marathon, I need to lose some body fat, and I could always be stronger. I could achieve these goals. I could go to the gym every day, I could work hard each time I go, etc…But, I don’t. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like going, I stay home. Sometime, if I haven’t spent time with my wife or my school work is lacking, I’ll cut going to the gym out of my day.

I think, upon review, that I agree with this local radio personality. I could excel at school, my family, or my health, but to do so would require a sacrifice somewhere, I know I couldn’t do it all. But, I’m happy with the balance I’ve reached. I need to realize that I’ve accomplished enough, I have a good life, and to always remember that I could always to be better, but I don’t need to be perfect at everything. And, perhaps, perfection at everything wouldn’t be happiness at all.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seattle Regins

According to the show “American Idol”, Seattle singers suck. I’ve never seen the show, but I’m familiar with the people who list Idol on their resume: Taylor Hicks, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, etc…. All I can say: yuck.

Who lists Seattle on their resume: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Sound Garden, the current home of Dave Matthews, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. All I can say: the defense rests.

Having Simon say Seattle has the worst talent in the nation, and this Ryan Seacrest guy call Seattle a “talent vacuum”, is the best validation of the quality of the Seattle music scene this decade. This little city has had a bigger impact on music this this show could ever dream of.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bad Government.

The following link is an open response by over 130 law school deans to the recent statement by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles "Cully" Stimson. Stimson recently urged businesses, who are clients of law firms who allow their lawyers to do pro bono work for terrorist suspects, to withhold business from these firms. The goal, of course, is that the law firms faced with economic pressure will prevent their employees from offering legal assistance to these suspects, and hence, give the government a free pass to do as they please. He wants the law firms to have to choose between America and these terror suspects. This, on it's surface, is a stupid supposition because by representing these clients, these firms and their lawyers, are choosing America. Not the neo-con version of America where we eat apple pie all day and shoot anyone worshiping Islam at will, but the America grounded in law, in the belief in due process, and in the bill of rights.

The statement is just an outright scary proposition considering where it came from; the government is urging private business to help them keep suspects away from due process and legal assistance. Why does this administration hate the constitution and the American legal tradition. The government should come out with a statement admonishing the Deputy Assistants statement now!

A statement from a collection of American Law School Deans. (happily signed by the dean of my own law school, Seattle U, along with local school including Idaho, Washington, Gonzaga, etc...)

Monday, January 15, 2007

A few thoughts on MLK day.

My hours are filled, for the most part, with the words of dead, white men. As a 1st year law student I read decision after decisions from men mostly like Justice Cardozo tying to understand the logic behind our law, of the arguments that men have long since made and either won or lost, and why the law is what it is. Rarely do I get the opportunity to read a woman’s voice, or a minority voice in these cases. So far, I only remember one opinion by a woman, and this was Justice O’Connor concurrence in Lawrence v Texas (as a concurrence, it's only an opinion and a way to look at a argument and not law). This isn’t a pedagogy by design where our teachers are preventing us from learning from minorities, but it is the simple fact that the 1st year of law school is spent learning the foundation of law, not the modern nuisances that have developed, and that this foundation of law was poured by men, white men to be specific, and a minority voice was not present in the founding years of this nation, at least not on the bench.

The demographics are, however, changing and can be seen in my 1L class. American law, for most of her history, has been dominated by a single caste of people; the white sons of the upper middle and wealthy classes. Women and minorities were not present in most of our law schools and just started to walk the halls of the schools only 50 years ago. My advisor, my property law professor, invited us to breakfast one day so he could meet his advisees. He looked at the group before him and noted that there were more women than men, and that more than half of the group came from a minority background. He noted how different we looked, as a group, than he and his fellow law students had looked when he was in his studies. His classmates were all white and all male except for one lone woman; who was also black. All of his classmates were young, fresh from undergrad schools and ready to be molded in the vein of lawyers of old. Our class was marked by people who had already had careers and were coming back to school with opinions of law already formed and set.

This demographic change will have a huge impact on society because it will have a huge impact on law. There are those who believe that lawyers are parasites, sucking money from the common good, but those views held by those that don’t appreciate the role that lawyers play in American life or have never needed the services of a lawyer. We are a nation of laws. More so the Christianity, the legal tradition is our collective religion and lawyers are the priests of this society. The explosion of minorities in law means that the fundamental underpinnings of society will be written and adjudicated through eyes and ears that have seen and heard things that the forefathers of law never knew or dreamt of. Minorities will shape and change the law in a way that we are only beginning to realize.

Dr. King’s dream has been a long time coming. We are still years away from a true realization of equality. But, I believe, that this new generation of lawyers will do more to advance Dr. King’s vision than any before. It’s exciting to be a part of this generation, to be able to participate in the changes that we will bring, and to recast a truly equal society.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Majestic Eagle or Brutal Killer, Film at Eleven.

This morning while sipping coffee and staring out our kitchen window, I saw a bald eagle, the majestic symbol of our beloved nation, circling over our yard. It was a gorgeous specimen with a brilliant white tail and head with the traditional dark body color. I watched the bird circle a couple of times, I was awestruck by the beautiful and rare sight of the bird of prey soaring above the city of Seattle. And then my belly dropped and a flash of fear bubbled up, a subconscious scream trying to get my attention as I admired the bird. "Oh my god, my dog is outside in the yard!"

My dog, a sweet little Boston terrier, is not slight dog. She is stocky and muscular, but at only 20 lbs, I’m sure that from above she merely looks like a rabbit on steroids. She was sniffing around the yard, smelling the grass for the remnants of her poop that I had picked up the day before, oblivious to the world around her. This is the same dog who didn't see the dead crow next to the sidewalk on our walk yesterday, so I was certain she had no idea the an aerial shark was circling over her head.

As I stepped out onto the back porch I saw the eagle bank and turn back to our yard, it's head pointing down, it's eyes most likely targeting our poor, hapless poop-sniffing pooch. I ran out in the yard and yelled at the dog to go inside, which she did, running past me and through the doorway. I looked up to see if the eagle was in mid-dive but it was gone, vanished from the skies.

When we had taken our dog to puppy school cleverly title puppygarten, the instructor had warned those of us with little dogs to never leave them unattended in the backyard. One of my fellow classmates had raised her hand and offered, "Is that because they our easy to be dognapped by dog thieves?"

The instructor laughed and said, "Well, they are likely to get snatched but it will be more likely from the skies." She contorted her fingers into an imitation of talons, "Although we feel safe from the wilderness here in the city, the skies are still wild and your little ones are no more than prey to certain birds out there." A few of us chuckled at the thought of our pooches being dragged away by some phantom bird. The notion is laughable to those of us who have lived in the city for so long, so sheltered from the wilds except for the occasionally dead raccoon smooshed under tire and left on the side of the road. But, I guess she was right after all.

If you have small dog, remember this story before leaving them out on their own.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

This Blog is Going on a Diet for the New Year.

It has been a long time since my last post. There have been a lot of events that normally would have been blog worthy, yet have not been entered in the blog, such as: the destruction of my ipod by our dog, the Christmas trip to Spokane, the laughable Spokane media, and the BSU bowl win viewed through the eyes of this Vandal, and other such things.

Despite having fodder for the digital pen to chew through, I just haven't felt like writing the blog much these days. Although I do like to write and I do love the giddy jolt of joy that shoots through me every time I have a posting put out front on HBO, I am just not into the blog anymore. Deep down, I think my interest has waned a little because this blog isn't what I had envisioned. I had thought that I would spend more time on the blog and use it to practice the craft on writing and that is would become a digital discussion, but instead, this blog is merely a virtual scrap of paper for jotting down various observations.

Therefore, I think I will blog less and spend more energy on doing one or two long pieces per months versus many short posts. Or, I might drop the blog altogether, who knows? I am somewhat hesitant to say the blog is over. I've read too many other blogger's entries where they swear off blogging only to come back to it a week or two later. I suppose that the draw of having someone read your thoughts just has this narcissistic gravity to it that is impossible to resist forever. So, I won't say that this blog is over, but it is about to loose some weight. I guess I'll just play it by ear.