Late Registration

Welcome to law school orientation, dear reader.

Here’s what Michigan Law School looks like. That’s the Lawyers Club on the right. Lawyers Club is a fancy term for “dorm.” That’s where the Blog resides.

Our room is kinda small, but it’s got everything we need: an internet connection so we can blog, a closet to keep heavy coats, and a TV with nine sports channels. Nine. We are not making this up.

This is the library. This is the inside of the library. If you gotta read boring stuff for eight hours a day, it’s nice to have a pretty room to read in.

And this is where we spend our Saturdays. More on that in a later post.

Okay, so now that you’re oriented, it’s time to make friends. You can share ours. Here are some of them. From left to right, that’s the Blog, Chris (note the frat goggles), Amy, Sean (more frat goggles), Josh, and Spencer. They’re good people. You’ll read more about them in future posts.

Next: class. This semester, we’re taking Property, Torts, and Contracts. These are typical 1L classes. 1L is what we call first-year law students. Second-year students are 2Ls, third-year students are 3Ls, and fourth-year students are past-due to graduate. We call that “taking a victory lap.”

Law classes are not like classes you’ve been to before. Law classes are full of funny-sounding words. Say “tortfeasor.” In law classes, you’ll be called on even if you don’t raise your hand. This is called the “Socratic method.” It’s named after Socrates, who believed people learned better if they felt really dumb. Law professors think it’s important to carry on this pedagogic tradition.

Here’s the good thing about law classes. When they’re over, you walk into a hall filled with second-year students. These people were in your shoes last year, and they voluntarily returned to law school. This makes you think, “Huh. If they came back, this must be worthwhile.”

After class, you go to the library to get ready for tomorrow’s class. The library isn’t so bad. All your friends are there. They have to read the same thing you do. It’s bonding through communal suffering.

This routine might sound boring, but sometimes really fun things happen. In our second week of classes, the Chief Justice just dropped into our Contracts class. He was in town to celebrate Michigan Law School’s 150th birthday and help us break ground on our new building. He got to Ann Arbor early, and decided to surprise some 1Ls.

So he just walked into Contracts and stood in the back of the room. The professor, who was explaining something contractual, stopped mid-sentence.

“Uh, ladies and gentlemen, we have with us a most honored guest. Mr. Chief Justice?”

The Chief Justice walked to the front of the class.

“Thanks,” he said. “I didn’t come to impart any specific wisdom or anything. You guys have any questions for me?”

The Blog’s hand shot up.

“Can you tell us about Citizens United v. FEC?” the Blog asked. Citizens United is a case the Supreme Court had heard the day before. Justices aren’t allowed to talk about cases before the court, but we figured it was worth a shot.

“Uh, no,” said the Chief Justice.

He stayed for more than 20 minutes, casually answering (and not answering) questions and graciously ignoring our gaping mouths.

So fun things do happen at law school. We think you’ll really like it here.

We’ll try to post more regularly from here on out. There are plenty of quirky goings on to keep the Blog entertained. We hope you’ll be entertained, too.

On the Road (again)

You’ll be happy to know we made it to law school. 

In the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to the Blog’s campus, classes, and new friends. First, let’s take a look at how we got here. 

We drove from BlogMom and BlogDad’s house in Tacoma, Washington all the way to Ann Arbor. Our first stop was Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a giant underground volcano, which is why random jets of water and steam and mud gurgle out of the earth every so often. If you haven’t been, you should go, and go before it erupts. Once it erupts, we’ll all be goners. 

We didn’t see any bears while we were there, but we did get stuck in a buffalo traffic jam. The road was eventually cleared by a park ranger who herded the buffalo away. Think Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, but driving a police cruiser. 

We drove through Wyoming, stopping to see Devil’s Tower. Devil’s Tower has cool American Indian legends associated with it, and like all cool American Indian legends, the story involves a giant bear. We stayed with Aunt Kate and cousin Dan, who were most hospitable. 

In South Dakota, we hung out in the Badlands. They didn’t seem so bad to us. 

The next stop was Chicago, where we gorged on pizza and crashed on our buddy Doug’s floor. Doug owns three pair of hiking boots and zero pillows. The Blog has mailed him one. 

We arrived at the University of Michigan Law School safely and soundly last Monday morning. We were well oriented by the end of the week, when we flew back to Texas for another cousin’s wedding. 

This bride was also a daughter of Uncle Richard (you remember Uncle Richard), and this wedding was also a hoot. The bride was gorgeous, the groom danced a hole in the floor, and the Texas Tech fight song was sung by all attendees in earnest.  

We don’t have pictures yet, but we’ll put a few up when they come in. For now, please accept the following excerpted conversations as substitutes. First, the Blog greets Uncle Richard and Aunt Malinda upon our arrival in Lubbock: 

Uncle Richard: Hello, boy! 

The Blog: Hello, Richard! You look like you’re losing weight. 

Uncle Richard: Bullsh**. I’ve got more chins than the Hong Kong phone book! 

::Aunt Malinda rolls her eyes:: 

Second, the conclusion of Uncle Richard’s toast to his daughter, the bride: 

Uncle Richard: I’m also thankful that, now that your name will be Abby Standefer Scioli, you can finally get those monogrammed towels! 

We returned from the wedding to our first week of law school, which will be the subject of our next post. Until then, dear reader, be well. 

News: Sports

Good news, dear reader! The Blog is back in the Land of the Free. We had a blast in Europe, but it’s good to be back.

Our trip home was bookended by athletic events. Before we left England, we attended a soccer match. The Blog is a fan of the North London club Tottenham Hotspur (actual motto: “To dare is to do”), who faced Olympiakos of Greece (fake motto: “If you don’t have a jheri curl, get lost”).

The game ended 3-0 to Tottenham. We’ll spare you the play by play, because what was really fun was the singing.

You heard us.

Before the match began, Spurs fans chanted, “If you hate Arsenal, stand up!” For those of you not hip to the lingo, Arsenal is another North London club and Spurs greatest rival. Arsenal was not playing that day against Spurs or anyone else. Nevertheless, everybody stood.

The Greek fans sang non-stop throughout the first half. We would tell you what their songs meant, but we don’t speak Greek. When Spurs scored just after halftime, they grew less raucous. This prompted Spurs fans to sing a round of “It’s awfully quiet over there” to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it.”

When Spurs went up by three goals, their fans sang, “Can we play you every week?”

As the game wound down, Spurs fans dropped any pretense of paying attention to the action on the pitch and let loose: “You fat bastard! You fat bastard! You ate all that pie!” The target of their ridicule remains unknown to the Blog. Anyway, Spurs won, so everyone went home happy.

Meanwhile, all the way back in Tacoma, the Blog’s mom (we’ll call her BlogMom) was in the final stages of training for a triathlon.

You heard us.

The triathlon involved a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, and a three-mile run.

“I think I’ll only train for about half the swim,” said BlogMom. “At that point, I’ll probably drown.” The Blog was not encouraged by BlogMom’s attitude.

Then, the day before Race Day, tragedy struck. BlogMom suffered a terrible injury while saving children from a sinking battleship. Actually, she fell off her bike and skinned her knee.

There was some question as to whether BlogMom would persevere. But persevere she did. On Race Day, BlogMom did not drown during the swim. She did not fall off her bike during the ride. She did not trip during the run.

She finished in the top half of her heat, which really impressed the Blog, BlogDad, and BlogBro. For her efforts, she received a shiny medal and our undying respect.

So the triathlon was a great success. But the Blog, never one to let grass grow beneath our feet, is already back on the road.

You heard us.

Law school orientation starts Monday, so we are currently engaged in a cross-country road trip. Photos and stories to come.

One last note: this blog (sic) has almost served its purpose. We don’t want to hang on too long and ruin a good thing. Besides all that, our posts from this summer have been about our adventures in Texas, on the road, and at Oxford. Our future posts would be about our adventures in Torts, Civil Procedure, and Contracts.

Yet some of you dear readers (sic) have asked the Blog to consider writing into the autumn. If you’d like to cast a vote one way or the other, chime on in.

That’s all for now. Type to you again soon.

Bubblin’ in Dublin

Welcome to a rare double post, dear reader. Today, we want to bring you highlights from a weekend in Dublin, which you can read here. But we also want to make you hip to the haps in Oxford. Scroll down to the next post for that update.

The Blog got to Dublin and back on a boat. We traveled with new friends from Oxford, and met up with a friend we’ve known for more than twenty years (which makes the Blog feel very old).

Together, we sampled Dublin’s cuisine, visited city landmarks, and made Irish friends. And that was just the first day.

The second day, we did a few things not related to beer. We took the train to Sandycove, a town just south of Dun Laoghaire, just to see a part of Ireland outside the capital. We walked up and down the seawall and had a spot of tea at a little café. It was quite pleasant.

We returned to Dublin, where the Blog was wowed by the Book of Kells. The manuscripts convinced the Blog anew that human beings have limitless capacity for art, and so a limitless capacity for redemption. If you haven’t read How the Irish Saved Civilization, the Blog will buy you a copy right now. (NOTE: we won’t really buy you a copy, but you should read it. Trust us.)

We also examined the bog bodies in the National Museum, and the stories those cadavers can tell are worthy of Joyce, Shaw, and Yeats.

Then we went back to the pubs.

We left Dublin Sunday morning. The ferry ride was a might windy, but we caught a few winks on the train through Wales.

Four observations about Ireland:

Observation the First: Ireland is beautiful in ways the Blog didn’t expect. Yes, the hills and rivers and oceans are stunning, but even grimy Dublin is beautiful in its activity. It rattles and hums, and at night, it glows like an ember split in two.

Observation the Second: Irish people drop F-Bombs the way Snoop drops “izzle.” The f-word is as common as Guinness, rain clouds, and U2 t-shirts. When we were visiting the Book of Kells, a librarian noticed a tourist taking a photo right in front of the “No Photographs” sign. The librarian promptly exclaimed across the hushed library, “Oh, for f—‘s sake!”

He got the tourist’s attention. And everyone else’s.

Observation the Third: On a related note, Irish people say funny things. Consider the following, spoken by a young Irish lady in line to enter a pub, which was overheard by a member of our party (translation provided):

“Oy forgot me long bloose to cover oop me tunder ties.” I forgot my long blouse, which would have covered up my large posterior.

Observation the Fourth: As the Blog’s Bible study leader used to say, in heaven the Irish are in charge of music. Music is everywhere: on the street, in the pubs, in museums and on trains. The foot tapping was epic.

That’s all from here for now. Keep reading for the update on Oxford, where we’ve posted info about New College, the Blog’s classes, and Bill Clinton.

Oxford

First, a little about the Blog’s digs.

The city of Oxford is dominated by the University of Oxford, Britain’s oldest and highest-regarded university. The university comprises 38 independent colleges, the first of which was founded in the neighborhood of 1167 AD. New College was founded in 1379—“New” being a relative term—and that’s where the Blog calls home for now.

New College is known for its chapel and its crew. The chapel was built around the time New College was founded. It houses an El Greco portrait of St. Peter and a façade of nearly fifty sculptures of Biblical figures. The façade was one of the few left standing after Protestants destroyed almost all Catholic art and architecture in Oxford during the Reformation. It is also home to the New College Choir, one of the most famous boys choirs in Britain. Most importantly, about fifteen seconds of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were filmed in the cloisters behind the chapel.

New College’s crew is the only Oxford crew to have won an Olympic medal. In the 1912 games in Stockholm, New College was set to race in the final against a crew captained by a man from Magdalen College and crewed by rowers from around Oxford.

New College won a coin flip to determine which team got the fastest lane. Following a sportsmanlike tradition, the New College captain offered the lane to the Magdalen fellow, who was then supposed to return the lane to the New College crew. Instead, the Magdalen fellow took the best lane for himself. He and his band of miscreants won the race by a nose. New College took silver.

When the New College crew crossed the finish line, its captain called out “God damn bloody Magdalen!” a phrase which as become the New College Boat Club’s cheer ever since. The boat club’s stationery still says “GDBM” at the bottom.

King Gustav, appalled at the Magdalen captain’s lack of sportsmanship, presented his royal colors to New College, and ever since, the team has raced in the purple and gold of the Royal House of Sweden.

****

While in Oxford, the Blog is studying international human rights law. We’ll spare you the details.

Wait. No, we won’t.

The Blog assumed international human rights law was an attempt to make the whole world operate under the Matlock principle: if you do something bad, someone—usually a clever, well-coiffed senior citizen—will find out and persuade a judge you should go to jail.

After a couple of weeks, we’ve decided the goal is instead to create a system wherein massive violations of human rights just aren’t committed. Over time, seemingly small treaties, agreements, and cases build a globally recognized code of dignity and respect. It’s not that people who commit genocide will be put in jail; rather, eventually, genocide will be patently unthinkable.

****

Outside of class, we’ve been playing pickup hoops, studying, and lifting the occasional pint. Aside from the New College pub, the local joint is the Turf Tavern. The Turf is where Bill Clinton allegedly didn’t inhale. Er, right.

The Blog is having a blast, truth be told. The people are fun, the town is beautiful, and the ideas ricochet off the walls as they have for 900 years. It’s a place we could get used to.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on here. The plan is to head to London next weekend, which will surely lead to more posts. Talk to you then.

French Lessons

The Blog just completed five days in Paris. We don’t see what’s so great about it.

Unless, of course, you like good meals, beautiful women, and stirring art. Or soaring architecture, fine cigars, and pleasant green spaces.

The Blog gave the town a chance, dear reader. We checked out the museums, the landmarks, the gardens, and the churches. They were nice, but… meh.

Okay, we loved it. So sue us. Sure, the French talk funny. And yes, we occasionally have to save their beret-wearing hides. But there’s something about Paris. It’s bustling, but not aggressive. It’s curt, but not rude. It’s lovely, but not soft. It’s wonderful.

The Blog stayed in a small but nice apartment in the 7th arrondissement. Our tour guide, Joelle, speaks fluent French, which was very helpful.

The Blog’s favorite sites? The Rodin museum, the Place des Vosges, and Notre Dame. If you’re headed for Paris, the Blog can tell you where to get good falafel, too. Hit us up.

Favorite artwork? The Burghers of Calais, Liberty Leading the People, Night with Stars, and Nike of Samothrace.

Favorite moment? Smoking a Montecristo No. 2 while walking from Place des Vosges to Pont Carrousel and watching the lights come on at the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay.

Generally, the ugly stereotypes of Paris are only sort of true. Parisians sometimes sniff if they think you’re American, but an honest attempt to communicate in French goes a long way toward making friends. The side streets are dirty, but no more (often less) than any American big city. And, Scout’s honor, we saw no mimes and heard no accordions.

The martial history of the city is also very present. Vestiges of the Revolution, Napoleon, and more recent conflicts are everywhere. It’s as if Bunker Hill, Yorktown, and Constitution Hall were all places you passed by everyday.

Last, Paris is rich. Not money-wise—everything-wise. The food is flavorful in the extreme. No architectural detail lacks purpose. Fashion, wine, and conversation are not pastimes, but serious pursuits requiring attention and precision. It’s a sociology study, that’s for sure.

Anyway, we liked Paris. But now we’re in Oxford, which we also seem to like. More updates in the next post.

T-town

Well, dear reader, the road trip has ended. The Blog drove through the American desert, up the coast of California, through beautiful Oregon, and all the way back to the City of Destiny.

The second half of the trip was as fun as the first. I saw Death Valley, General Sherman, and Crater Lake. I ate chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, hung out with my cousin Ben, and walked in the Pacific Ocean. And as I pulled up to the house, I remembered the last stanza of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.

Some statistics (we know how you love stats):

The Blog traveled a total of 3592 miles.

Highest elevation: 12,095 feet above sea level at Independence Pass, Colorado.

Lowest elevation: -6 feet in Death Valley, California.

Largest city on route: San Francisco, California, population 808,976

Smallest city on route: Rockville, Utah, population 247.

Tanks of gas purchased: 11.

National parks visited: 10.

Awkward conversations with national park employees: 13.

Ex-girlfriends reconsidered: 2.

Nights slept in car: 6.

PB&Js eaten: 9.

Impromptu guitar concerts: 3.

Best country music lyric heard: “I gave up smoking, women, and drinking last night, and it was the worst 15 minutes of my life.”

Cell phone calls ended by lost signal: 37.

Thanks to all who spent time on the phone with the Blog as we traveled through deserts and mountains and deserty mountains.

Since in Tacoma, the Blog has just been kicking back. Golf with Dad, getting Mom ready for her triathlon, hiking at Mt. Rainier with the neighbors, and enjoying sunsets from the deck.

Anyway, time in Tacoma grows short. Tomorrow the Blog is off to Oxford by way of Paris. We’ll post from the road.

Hope your Fourth was a good one, dear reader. Talk to you again soon.