I ate my wafer...


It is monday morning, I'm stuck in Evidence, and the material is boring, but....

It is the week before my spring break, and my professors are already visibly hungover and lazy. So as long as noone makes loud noises, class this week will be easy. Besides the hungover professor factor, I just received the results from spectrographic analysis of the oil sample I sent in a couple weeks ago. I like getting spectro reports even when they have bad news, but this one is quite good for an engine of that type with ~220,000 miles. It is, unexpected good news that my car probably will not spit a rod through the block before I finish law school. So, even though it IS monday, the day is shaping up really nicely.


*Several edits to add links, and fix broken ones.

I'm sitting in Constitutional Law II, waiting like a crocodile, literally in the shadows with the light over my seat out. The first stupid comment today, from a repeat offender...

But in the meantime, an inebriated Amber has requested in the comments that I discuss two headed children. I learned a long time ago to placate inebriated Amber with bagels, cream cheese, ramen, beer, and now, two headed children. So, well, what can I say, having a spare head that has, oh, about as many signs of sentient life as Terri Schiavo, is really, really weird. I know it happens in nature all the time, but still, a head that blinks, has brainwaves, and moves its mouth when the other head nurses it odd. My knee jerk reaction was that 500 years ago in western Europe, or today in most of the 3rd world, such a child would be rather swiftly eliminated from the gene pool and the mother suspected of unnatural intercourse with the devil. ( for that matter, it would not be prudent to leave a two-headed alone with my grandmother for long). I find it disturbingly hypocritical that on a personal level I think a 3 headed, 6 legged frog is interesting, almost pet-fodder, and a two headed baby turns my mind towards infanticide.

The ethical issues of removing heads, especially if similar to a two-headed snake, the extra head was completely functional is difficult. It, I suppose brings entirely new meaning to the pro-choice arguments about removing an unwanted growth. On a male baby, removal of a spare head would be darkly ironic in that way, I suppose.

What does one call it if such a person kills one head? abortion? body modification? homicide? suicide? How many souls does it have? How many social security numbers? What if the head that runs the body abuses the other head(s)? Credit Rating? Employment? and the list goes on and on.

Well, too complex for me, time for lunch...


Snippets from Law School:

  1. I just decided to write my ~7,000 word International IP term paper on the wild legal issues surrounding Russian digital music sites. Complicated, interesting stuff involved: from how communist countries still have residual centralized licensing, parallel imports without actual physical items crossing borders, conflict of laws, treaty compliance hypocrisy, etc, etc. At the very minimum it should be way more enjoyable to write than my other equally long papers here (stem cell legal issues and campaign finance issues relating to the DMCA). I may even post it here depending on how it comes out, since unlike the other two, it probably will be interesting to read.

  1. I have a professor that successfully sued and beat AOL in court on a billing issue by outsmarting their smarmy customer service people on the phone. It is, a very cool story that anyone that's ever dealt with AOL would love. When I grow up, I want to use my legal powers for good like that!

  2. I have been barely resisting the temptation to wade into the current gender discrimination discussions in Constitutional Law. Four hours a week of listening to very poor reasoned arguments from a handful of wildly, irrationally, extreme feminists, and equally poor responses from one or two chauvinistic, stereotyping idiots is very irritating. About the next time I hear the first group attack court reasoning merely on the ground of a justice's gender or past decisions or the second group spout off about “the weaker sex”...Well, lets just say if I'm tired and over-caffinated, some people may leave the room with a lowered intellectual self-image. I know, its shooting fish in a barrel, clubbing baby seals, etc....but so tempting.

  1. I've been noticing that I tend to respect and like professors that either make me think (*cough*, work hard), or are interesting to listen to. The rare professor that can combine interesting stories and life experiences with the ability to challenge me is nearly the holy grail of higher education. I have one right now, and that's a very nice feeling.


I utterly and completely hate that two line "Hobbies" or "Interests" space on applications and resumes, be it for jobs, internships, clerkships, schools, etc. What the hell am I supposed to put there? I doubt I could condense all of my interests and hobbies into 500 words, much less two lines. Not to mention some of the more interesting ones are controversial. I know better than to mention shooting, gunsmithing, aviation, locks, motorcyles, or brewing if I can help it since they have possible bad connotations. Ugh. I just don't translate well onto paper.


I know, I'm a very slow and bad blogger, and it has already been discussed to death, but Hunter S. Thompson's recent passing is sadly premature. I consider Hunter to be one of the metaphorical blogging saints as nearly every blogger posts what amounts to gonzo journalism from time to time. In anycase, I personally saw Hunter S. Thompson as a Tom Wolfe with balls, with the good parts of the beat writers and Faulkner thrown in. Not to mention that Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas provides me with endless "As your attorney I advise you..." jokes, and away message quotes.

(One of my crazier friends, after viewing Fear and Loathing as his introduction to Hunter S. Thompson, commented that he thought that on the right drugs, I would probably be something like Dr. Gonzo...I'm still undecided as to whether that was an insult or a compliment.)


Mr. Wazoo, with some slight help from the Cooks has retold one of the best stories of all time, well, at least the more tasteful and printable parts of it. Probably if I were plied with beer, I would tell it with those parts thrown in, and include some more amusing side stories, such as Mr. Mahlon Adolphus Benson IV spraying beer out of his nose, certain inedible muffins, and how an inoccent high school student was nearly beaten to death.

Oh and for the rest of the post:

A. Mr. Wazoo might find women to go with his beer more readily if he wasn't "drinking cheap Mexican Beer". Women like men that have taste buds, and they might want to drink some of YOUR beer if you drink something decent.

Here's some free beer advice, unless dealing with an experenced beer drinking woman, try Young's Double Chocolate Stout; or get a fruit flavored wheat beer AND a sweet tasting porter or stout, then consider mixing them; Black Velvets, Black and Tans...remember Guiness is actually low calorie and low alcohol (~Budweiser), a possible selling point...

B. I'd like to think that at least a couple of times, *cough*, I've plied my friends with homebrew in order to help them in amorous situations. If beer is an Ark, does that make me Noah? If so, I'm feeding the animals I don't like to the ones that I do.


So, as QF45 would put it, time for some navel-gazing:

Growing up, I picked up a double-edged aptitude for quick fixes. In practical terms it means that I can beat the last mile out of failing mechanical devices, from throwing pepper in a radiator, or water in a slipping transmission, freezing a failing hard drive overnight, using radiator hose, and beer to patch the Highlands plumbing during a party... This is the mechanical realm of baling wire, duct tape, hose clamps, and JB weld. I would guess virtually all of my friends have heard: ?there's always another way?, ?its not what you can do with the tools you wish you had, its what you can do by making do with what's in the bag?, or ?its a matter of MAKING it work? come out of my mouth while staring at some mechanical problem without the correct tools or parts.

Fairly often in my life, I show someone a quick fix, and they light up thinking the problem is fixed, or can be safely ignored. I wind up telling the following cautionary tale about human nature to abuse quick fixes:

Sometime, on a Sunday in the mid 1970's, the pressure switch on my grandparent's deep well water pump stuck, and the pump wouldn't run=no water. My grandfather, since he could not physically go into the basement and look, described to my grandmother what a pressure switch was, how to tell were it was, and to ?go down and tap it a couple of times hard with the side of the flashlight?. She walked downstairs, followed his diagram and explanation, found the pressure switch and smacked it a couple times, and the pump turned on. Fast forward ten years at which point my grandfather has moved on to the big tool and die shop in the sky. My dad gets a call from his mother, who asks which well drilling company to have look at her pump, since her water just died. He decides to go over and take a look, she hands him an oddly battered flashlight, he goes down into the basement, and traces the wires and pipes to the pressure switch, which is completely covered in dents smeared paint transfers, and scratches. Why? Because, the switch had been sticking on, increasingly frequently over the last 10 years, and at the cost of dozens of flashlight bulbs, my grandmother had kept using the quick fix. Rather obviously, using the smack the switch method was fine for a one or two time thing on a weekend. But the switch was inevitably going to fail eventually, and there was the possibility that it could fail in a dangerous manner.

Besides abusing actual material quick fixes, my family is extremely prone to doing this emotionally. There are probably at least a dozen topics in my family that are simply not discussed because at some point in the past, the emotional duct tape of not thinking/talking/etc was applied, and worked temporarily. I'm tempted to list a couple of the ones that are darkly humorous, but it seems a bit out of line (#2 Cardinal Rule of Blogging: don't publish family emotional issues that are not talked about? Or doesn't if count unless I discover it the hard way?). I don't want to make it sound as if I grew up in a completely emotionless family, far from it. For that matter, there are some minor emotional sore spots that will heal over time if never discussed or thought about. However, now that I think about it, there is all sorts of stuff that boils back out in unhealthy ways. I suspect that at least 5 or 6 of my friends have been on the receiving end of this at various times, that I've lashed out unfairly and harshly because of one of these temporary, suppression fixes. Sorry guys, I'm aware of this now, and plan on working on it, hopefully faster than things boil up in hurtful ways.. It appears that suppressed, painful emotional things take 2-3 years to work back to the surface, sort of like glass.


Tech Advice Wanted

Cell Phone

After a year of stubborn indifference, I think I'm ready to start shopping for a cell phone again, and I want to advice, rants, complaints, whatever about people's cell plans. For background, I was a relatively happy AllTell/CenturyTel customer for 4 years, through four phones, until my contract expired a year ago and they INCREASED my rates radically after the contract expired, despite that new customer contracts had much LOWER rates by that point. So, after canceling that phone, I've noticed that there appears to be no consensus whatsoever as to what provider to go with. I have friends that have PCS phones and reccomend Verizon, friends that have Verizon and recommend Cingular, and so forth. So, what's the best cell company? Please comment!

Ipod Case

Using my sharply honed contract reading ability, I recently acquired a 40gb ipod through an internet pop-up marketing company. (Note, I'm not naming/linking them, just because I received mine for only a ~$50 + 30 hours of time investment does NOT mean that anyone else will, they seem rather fly-by-night.) I want any and all recommendations as to cases, car adaptors, and even p2p file sharing software (40gb leaves quite a bit of space to experiment in ones musical tastes). Even in the few short weeks I've had is, my pocket contents (Leatherman, Zippo, Flashlight, keys, change, picks, etc have started scratching the heck out of the white part of my ipod's case.

4340 v. 1018/1020 v. 304 SS stamping

I need a bit of technical information about the the difference in die life and stamping ease between 1020, annealed 4340, and the 300 series stainless steels. I've obviously looked up the book information, and have a bit of practical knowledge, but would be interested in a refresher of practical knowledge. I'm looking at straight, simple 90 degree bends in ~0.050" material.


Science Education, Imprimis, and No Child Left Behind.

(This was yet another fast and dirty post written w/o spell check in class, I may need to edit it later, sorry guys.)

The current issue of Imprimis discusses science education, a topic of particular interest to me. I certainly agree with Dr. Herbold's analysis of the current sorry state of high school science and math education. Unfortunately, blaming the educational community, the unions, and unqualified teachers seems myopic to me. The problem has its roots in a public lack of respect for science, and consequentally a lack of respect for science education. Parents (and in particular, school board members) are extremely unlikely to support requiring 3-4 years of science and math because they simply do not see any reason for doing so. The American public simply does not care about a science gap, or see any reason that science and math are important. Time for an Ad Councilcampaign on the value of science, I suppose.

Quick thoughts on the rest of the article:

1.A very high percentage of those with a degree in the hard sciences are completely unfit to become high school instructors.

2.The NEA actually has a very strong stance on requiring high school science, the last I checked, they supported, at least via published articles, even more science and math than the National Commission on Excellence.

3.Any educator that is truly a great, or even decent, teacher is more than qualified and capable to teach several subjects, at the high school level, that they do not have a major or a minor in. The best teachers I've had were not "qualified" from Mr. Herbold's perspective to teach all of their classes.

4. Money is tight, the number of school districts that could pay a teach $100,000 a year is quite small. Actually, given the rather unfunded mandate nature of the NCLB act, the big question this article doesn't answer is where the money comes from.

5.It is insanely difficult to determine which science instructors are good, bad, and mediocre. Managing a school is not like managing a tech. Firm where one can reward for patents, market successes, etc. Rewarding teachers based on the % of students that pass a proficiency test tends to promote “teaching to the test”, which is the absolutely worst way to excite students about science.

6.I certainly find the platitudes about the No Child Left Behind act predictable, but less irritating than most current Imprimis articles. I find it amusing that the education department has been flexing the supposed rigid criteria of the act.

Ironically, the lack of motivation to properly teach science extends to Hillsdale College itself where the ridiculously broad and superficial Science 101 class is considered more than adequate, while student knowledge of the U.S. Constitution will require an entire class. During my senior dinner at Dr. Arrn's house, I suggested that requiring Chemistry 101/Physics 101 of all students, not just the honors program would be a positive change. Dr. Arrn first expressed great surprise that I would argue for expanding a program that I did not major it, then expressed his concern that Science 101 should be modified to eliminate or reduce lab sections in favor of spending more time discussing how science integrates with the rest of the core curriculum. He went as far as to suggest that instead of science 101, we should change to “Science in the Western Tradition.” Sorry Larry, but teaching scientific method REQUIRES lab time, otherwise, you're teaching a boring HISTORY of science, not science. Not to mention that making science 101 remedial, and Chemistry 101/Physics 101 required raises the bar on incoming students. I told Dr. Arrn that I believed that his “Science in the Western Tradition” plan made as much sense as teaching foreign languages without speaking exercises, and instead devoting a great deal of time to the integration of how, for example, the French language evolved in response to historical events, and was part of the western tradition.

I've occasionally been a "self-destructive engineering idiot" myself, so I can identify with "No User Serviceable Parts Inside." And yes, I vaguely remember soldering a new power connector on Prizio's monitor several years ago, and being more than a little concerned about the 30k volt power supply. Little did I know that I should have gotten as sweaty as possisble and pulled my shirt off for safety purposes.


Whoever is writing radio ads in the Lansing area should be taken out back and shot:

“Behind every first date, there is a nervous young man hoping that the girl will eventually say yes to his proposal”

(From a jewelery store commercial)

-What the hell kind of first dates are they talking about? In a perfect, jewelery store world, maybe everything revolves around jewelery selling occasions like the hallmark holidays and marriage. I have to admit that I've probably never heard a jewelery store ad that I actually liked, and at least this one didn't insinuate a jewelery=sex bargain.

“If you don't stop smoking, you'll eventually die”

(From an herbal anti-smoking product ad, delivered in a dry, medical sounding manner)

-Well I suppose that means that Mormons have a lock on immortality. Just think, if I had never smoked a cigarette, I could live forever too!

“You can never have too much good, home equity related debt”

(2nd mortgage company)

-Wait, they just encouraged people to mortgage their homes...not to buy something, but because its good to have debt, just for debt's sake? Are people that dumb? Do they sit around thinking that they might not have enough debt?


At the moment, my room smells like cosmoline, woolite, and oranges. I have to say, it is an amusing combination.

I am, officially, a moron:

This semester, I have some classes that meet M-W, some that meet T-Th, and some that are only on W. Today, I discovered that Trademark is only a wednesday class, not a M-W. Now, since it is four weeks into the semester, one would think that I would have figured that out, but no, I'm too stupid for that. The first week, the class was canceled do to an emergency professor reassignment. The second week, the online syllabus listed class starting on wednesday, I think, so I assumed the Monday class was canceled. The third week, I napped through the Monday class, rather I THOUGHT I napped through it. Today...I thought I was several minutes late, and barged into a crowded auditorium full of 1L's who were in the middle of a career pep talk from the entire administration (the deans, career services, you name it). Yup, I walked in the front door expecting a class of 25, and discovered that I was front and center, deer in the headlights, in front of ~150. Sigh. So I finally checked the schedule, and discovered the truth.



A. Knock over a glass of red wine into laptop less than a week after sending desktop harddrive in for replacement.

B. Panic and flip laptop over into lap...of nice khaki pants.

C. While laptop is disabled (keyboard removed for rinse/bake), order new keyboard.

D. Discover that the @#$%^& Law school thinks that I transfered or otherwise did not return. (Which is quite hard to fix withough internet).

E. Finally track down Law School minions, convince them that I have been attending classes for the last two weeks:

Minion: Well the computer said that you should be deenrolled, that you didn't return after break...
Bob: But I've been in class.
Minion: We can't tell that from here...
Bob: I have class RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL from this office 3 days a week....
Minion: We're not allowed to check on that, we've never actually checked if someone was going to class before.
Bob: But the computer also said that I had moved back into my room...
Minion: Well, yes we were going to send you a bill for that...
Bob: But my room is free...
Minion: Not if you don't want to be a law student anymore, and haven't started classes...
Bob: (Deep Breath) Why would I live here if I wasn't still a law student? Couldn't you just check with the professors or something before deenrolling me?
Minion: Why would we check to see if you were in class? You're here right now...

F. After straigtening all of that out, discover that I had saved my keyboard, right after dropping $22 on a new one. Sigh. at least it was funny.

(I must have pissed off the woodeleves/Irony Fairy badly this week!)


An odd day.

-I woke up exactly an hour early, and for unknown reasons, failed to notice. So, I showed up for class, half-asleep, at 8:50 instead of 9:50. That's never happened before.

-I drank too much coffee and felt ill, but I was very productive because of it.

-I got both the "Has anyone ever told you that you look like the guy from Office Space" and the "Has anyone ever told you that you look sort of like John Mayer" within 15 minutes of each other..

-I decided that Daedalus is my favorite figure from Greek myth. Why? Because he improvises well under pressure and builds unusual things. (No, you perverts, it has nothing to do with the wooden cow.)

-I flirted with the ideas of building a propane powered lawnmower, a pulse-rifle, and an AKM with a SVD or M14 gas system (to make myself get comfortable welding again), and a CNC laser-cutting machine.

- I made entirely too much eye contact with one of my professors...either they hate me, or think I have potential, its hard to tell.