September 30th 2005

tomorrow is a new month

Mr. Angst and I are taking a little trip this weekend—renting a car and driving across a state for an Oktoberfest. We happen to be going to an area where he has family, too, so we’ll get in some good visiting. I’m excited about it!

All this is really just to say that I probably won’t be posting this weekend. No idea what kind of internet access we’ll have, but my guess is none. Plus, we just won’t have time! Never fear, though—I’ll be doing my reading during my stint as the passenger. Productivity always comes first!

Everyone have a good weekend!

more on banning smoking

The smoking bans are following me! My Old City passed a ban right before we left town (it didn’t take effect until after we left). Now Our New City™ is on the verge of doing the same thing.

I don’t listen to the radio anymore, largely because I don’t have a car. I listen to my iPod for music on the commute and if I need news, I turn to the internet (and, occassionally, a podcast). So I haven’t heard any of the ads I heard in My Old City, the ones blaming Big Government for interefering in our lives. I’m sure they’re out there, though. This city seems particularly prone to that sort of rhetoric.

I also don’t know what general public opinion on this is. I don’t yet know any people who are “from” here—my circle is mostly students, newcomers. (And you know what? A lot of them are from cities with non-smoking bans. So there seems to be general approval among students for the ban.) But the actual people who live here in this city? I can’t imagine there’s overwhelming approval. People smoke here a lot. And I don’t mean smoking while out at bars or clubs, I mean smoking while walking down the street. Lighting up on the stairs on the way up from the train. Lots of congregations of smokers huddled outside buildings at mid-morning, lunch, and tea time. They smoke a lot.

But it doesn’t matter whether or not the people of the city approve or not, except in the broader sense that they elect local representatives. Why is that? It’s because there’s not going to be a public vote on this particular ban. It’s an ordinance being passed by the City Council. Maybe this is paternalistic Big Government out to get us! I know many of the other big cities that have passed smoking bans have done the same thing and it’s probably the only feasible way in such large metropolitan areas. Still, I liked that My Old City, despite the annoying ads and ridiculous mudslinging that resulted, let the citizens vote. And you know what? It still passed.

I don’t like smoking. I used to smoke, I quit. I don’t like going out and reeking of cigarettes when I’m ready to go home. I don’t like having to avoid going out at all nights before I’m supposed to sing or speak, because I know the smoke will completely wreck my voice. I just don’t like it. So in that sense, I am in favor of smoking bans, when they are reasonable. But I am bothered by a “decree from above” ordinance for a ban. Representative democracy, my ass. Everyone’s local rep has his or her own agenda, just like our Congressmen and Senators do.

So let the people decide if they want smoking bans. The results might be surprising.

September 29th 2005

i’m only watching this much TV because it’s premiere week

I like how the season premiere of Smallville brings in some of the Superman mythology from the first movie. A very interesting episode. The season should be quite good!

Oh My God

I think I like Civil Procedure. I know my friend Emily is rolling her eyes and groaning (and maybe making vomit noises) at that, but I really do think I like Civil Procedure A. Lot.

At least part of this revelation is that I said something smart in class yesterday. I broke the curse! And then the questions came rushing forth, in a great big gush and I almost couldn’t hold back after class.

Mr. Angst says this makes sense, that he sees that Civil Procedure is a lot like grammar, with the rules and all. That makes me feel like a big fat nerd. But he’s probably at least partially right.

because I know you were all worried

The guy with the car with the alarm that totally ruined my sleep on Tuesday night?

Had his car towed to have the alarm fixed. I hope “fixed” means “taken out and crushed with baseball bats, Office Space-style.”

Also, despite the appearance of total slackerdom in last night’s posts, I actually did get some work done. I did some online citation exercises. I was a little overeager in them and so missed some things that I should have gotten. Makes me feel a little stupid. But now I know that for the second set I have to do them more S-L-O-W-L-Y. Sigh. Not graded, at least.

I also worked some on my memo that’s due on the 11th. See? I was productive! AND I watched some really bad TV. Life could be worse.

September 28th 2005

still more TV blogging

E-Ring is possibly the worst show ever. I think this show is NBC’s attempt to capture the entire Walker, Texas Ranger demographic in one hour of bad script, acting, and plot.

more TV blogging

Jim needs to go.

Seriously, I would find The Apprentice: Martha Style much more palatable if Jim went away. I may not be able to watch this show if he keeps talking over people, interrupting, playing his “agenda” game and, basically, annoying the shit out of everyone on the team.

things i ****ing HATE

The first thing I want to do this morning is send a big shout-out to the guy who parks his car under my bedroom window and lets its alarm go off ALL NIGHT. You know, this guy has it figured out. Most car alarms go off for a while, then stop, still armed, waiting, but SILENT. Not this guy; he has managed to beat the system and HIS car alarm goes off, stops, and then STARTS RIGHT BACK UP.

So, thanks, guy! I didn’t need to those extra two hours of sleep anyway.

September 27th 2005

I am pretty sure today squeezed in a few extra hours on me

Oh by golly, it has been a DAY.

First, let me state for the record that when I get off the train after a reasonably long ride, I feel like I just stepped off a boat. I’m not sure if this is strictly related to the train itself or if it’s a combination of the rocking of the locomotive and where I’m coming from—Aikido. Aikido is the only place I go regularly that’s more than a few train stops away and I always feel this rocking feeling when I get home from Aikido. It’s mildly unnerving.

So back to my DAY. I had double Crim today, for starters. Contracts, by the way, was a smooth class today, but I am sure that had nothing to do with UNDERSTANDING how what we’re doing today fits into what we’ve been learning so far or anything. But, yeah, Crim was long. And we were supposed to get snacks since we were in class during the noon hour, but there were no snacks. There were burritos for the Federalists (who had a speaker I would have liked to hear but, remember, I had CLASS) but the line was INSANELY long and I was not so patient. So I had almonds for lunch.

And then I was so hungry that I bought a little thing of pasta salad and scarfed it right before Civ Pro, but it had onions in it and despite my attempt to AVOID the onions, I spent Civ Pro feeling that onion-y feeling in my tummy.

And Civ Pro was, yet again, a complete muddle. I got the reading, I guess. And I got what he was telling us. I guess. But in that class I always feel like I’m just keeping ahead, so by the time it really sinks in, he’s moved on and I either can’t ask the question I finally have or someone has already asked all the questions I might have had if I had caught on quicker.

Aikido, in other words, was a good ending to the day. I needed to burn off some agitation and steam, but I really wasn’t looking forward to getting beaten up (like I did in last Tuesday’s class). And joyfully tonight was not a beat-up-Kristine kind of class. It was a work-Kristine-into-shape kind of class, it was a get-Kristine-centered kind of class.

Now if only I could figure out how to underline and highlight straight while reading on the train.

September 26th 2005

shows I don’t need to get addicted to…or do I?

So I’m watching Kitchen Confidential, and I’m a little dubious. I mean, it has Will and Xander! But it also has James King.

There is perhaps one thing this show could add that would make me watch it, no matter the quality: Pacey. Then it would star a compelling trio of actors who gained fame on other shows!

I’ll give it a few weeks; it’s on right after Arrested Development, so it’s no hardship to just leave the TV on Fox. But if they disappoint me by making Will a whiner or Xander a complete idiot (you know, like they did on those other shows, at least until each respective character had to step up and do something to save the world), I won’t be able to keep watching it.

Update: OK, the end of the show pulled it out. I can only imagine this episode was the pilot (they usually are), and for a pilot, it was pretty good at using the comic abilities of its actors and developing a story.

Look, Fox is getting pretty good at scheduling these fun, offbeat comedies. (It’s also really good at cancelling them, I know.) Let’s hope this one has a chance to stretch its legs like Arrested Development did. I think it could evolve into a show I will actually watch.

i sincerely apologize to my inner slacker for completely ruining her reputation

I’ve gotten into bed with the Devil.

That’s right, folks, I’ve started outlining. Oh, that’s not what I started out doing—I was just having a casual little meeting with my study group—but the end result was a tidy outline of the first four weeks of Contracts, complete with the important points of each case.

Gah! When did I become that person? I had NO INTENTION of starting my outlining yet. We’re still in September! We’re still trying to figure out this whole scheme…right?

OK, I’m not really as aghast with myself as I make it sound. I started outlining because it felt right. Our little group managed to condense the remedies portion of the semester into five pages of outline. And it all makes sense.

If it weren’t clicking, this would be a very different post, seriously. This would be a post about how lost I felt during that meeting with the study group and how far behind I feel. It would be a post, probably, lubricated by a little rum. I’m not saying I have oodles of confidence, here—there were a few cases we slid right past because none of us could remember why we’d read them or whether we’d actually talked about them in class. There were some non-case digressions that we didn’t bother going over, because none of us really yet understand how they fit into the subject.

But for the most part, I feel good about what I’ve learned so far in Contracts.

Next week: probably Civ Pro. Prepare for a lot more angst.

September 25th 2005

Eggplant Napoleons

I am on a roll with good meals lately. Here’s another Sunday night recipe.

I should mention that at least part of what makes this meal so good is the farm-fresh eggplant, purchased from the farmers’ market. But as long as you choose carefully at the grocery store, and try to buy in season, you should be OK. I generally salt and rinse my eggplant—it adds good flavor as well as reducing bitterness. You could skip this step with really fresh eggplant but not with store-bought. It’s just an added precaution, you know?

I’ll also add that the idea for this recipe came, I believe, from Mario Batali, what with the stacking and all. But the process is my own.

Marinara Sauce

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 big cloves garlic, diced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine
1 to 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
handful fresh basil leaves, torn (or 1 to 2 tbsp dried basil)
2 tbsp dried oregano

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. The oil doesn’t have to be hot yet. Sprinke some salt over the vegetables. Cook until tender, about five minutes. Add garlic, stir in, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and stir to combine. Add herbs, freshly ground pepper, wine, and vinegar. Let simmer for at least 15 minutes. (When you get to this step, you can start on the eggplant.)

When the sauce has simmered for a while, puree it in a food processor, blender, or pass it through a food mill. (You can skip this step if your dice was really fine. Mine never is, so I always puree.)

Eggplant Parmesan

1 fresh eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 beaten egg (or 1/4 cup EggBeaters)
2 cups bread crumbs (just use plain)
1 to 1-1/2 cups grated Romano (Parmesan has too much salt, so avoid it unless you are familiar with the particular cheese you get and know it’s not terribly salty)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 ball fresh mozzarella
1 cup marinara sauce

Lay the eggplant slices out on a wire rack over a baking sheet or over your sink. Salt both sides of each slice generously without covering the eggplant with salt.

Let the eggplant sit for at least 20 minutes. Then rinse each piece thoroughly. Press dry in paper towels. You can wrap each slice in paper towel and squeeze; this gets the bulk of the water out.

Add 1/4 cup water to your egg. Mix the bread crumbs, cheese, and oregano together. Dip each slice of eggplant first in the egg wash then in the bread crumb mixture.

Preheat your oven to 275° Then heat 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. For better browning, I’ve been known to mix half olive oil and half vegetable oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Lay the eggplant slices in the oil and cook until crispy and brown. Flip and repeat. I usually have to do this in batches. Whatever you do, don’t overcrowd the pan or the eggplant will just steam and get soggy.

When all slices are done, lay the four biggest in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Top each slice with a spoonful of red sauce, then with a slice of mozarella. (You could use shredded mozzarella if you want. Also, be aware that fresh mozzarella isn’t exactly a melting cheese, particularly at these temperatures, so if you aren’t OK with that, use something that will melt better.) Add the next biggest slices of eggplant to each stack, top with red sauce, then cheese. Repeat until all slices are used. You could do five towers, or six, depending on the size of your eggplant and how thin you sliced it. Just do the math when you start to construct.

Bake the towers for as long as it takes to boil water and cook pasta. The point is just to warm everything through and get the cheese to melting.

Serve each tower with pasta.

all curled up inside

Rainy weather generally gets me down. But there is an upside to bad weather—I’m forced to stay inside and get work done. I like my weather user-friendly and sunny, but I also appreciate the inherent coziness of a wet afternoon. (If only it were also cold outside; instead, it’s a muggy 80 degrees.)

So I’m curled up in my overstuffed chair with my big binder o’ reading material and a pile of highlighters. I’m contemplating making some tea or espresso. Football’s on the TV and Mr. Angst is working on his own homework.

Frankly, it’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

holy poo!

Look, I never win anything, OK? I can sign up for any number of things, whether they be drawings or raffles or chances to participate in fun things. And I never, ever win. Still, I always sign up because, hey, you never know.

So, I am totally banging on our wooden coffee table with my foot as I write this because it seems my luck has changed and I’d like it to stay that way. What am I talking about? Apparently, I won the Grand Prize in the Westlaw raffle held for September. Yes, really, I won.

Now, the Grand Prize is a collection of study aids—I don’t really remember which ones, but I hope they are good. I’ll admit that the second and third place prizes seem perhaps a trifle better (3,000 and 1,000 points, respectively), but that’s only because I’m not much of a study aid kind of girl. It’s OK, though—I have duties to my study group, and I’m the only one who didn’t already have stuff to contribute.

But I won! And winning is a Good Thing. It’s a good start to the week, too, I think.

September 23rd 2005

Four-week update

I’ve now had four weeks of classes (five for legal writing, since we started that early). What have I learned?

Contracts: I know all about remedies, sort of. I basically understand expectancy, reliance, and restitution and I can probably muddle through which interest to use in which situations. I also know that our contracts case book is really fond of really old cases that are a bitch to read. Thankfully, they usually pair the really egregious old English cases with something more modern. Heck, we even got to read a breach of contract case involving Shirley MacLaine!

Criminal Law: We spent some time discussing rationales for punishment. Then we moved on to voluntary acts, omission, and mens rea. Criminal law is the one class where digressions are common and, unfortunately, not always helpful. I enjoy the subject matter and I think my professor is brilliant. She’s just not used to the one-hour class format (she usually teaches two days a week for an hour and a half instead of three days a week for an hour). Maybe as the semester progresses, things will get a little tighter.

Civil Procedure: Unlike many 1Ls, we just got to Pennoyer and International Shoe. Thank God. We spent some time going over the anatomy of a lawsuit and learning some of the key concepts in civ pro: summary judgment, for instance. We read a lot of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I like Civ Pro, but it’s the one class where I think I get more out of the reading than I actually do. I read and book brief and think I have a handle on the issues, and then I get into class and discover I totally missed the point.

Torts: Torts is the class we have only twice a week, on Thursday and Friday. Our other Thursday-Friday class is legal writing, so Torts feels like it just got appended to the week. Every time Thursday rolls around, I can’t remember anything from the week previous. Other than that, I like Torts. We’ve been discussing negligence, cost-benefit analysis (and by the way, they told me there would be no math involved, so what’s up with Learned Hand and his algebra??), and this week, res ipsa.

Legal Writing: Going just fine. We had some Lexis and Westlaw training this week, along with an introduction to print research. We’ve done two ungraded assignments—one a memo discusison section and the other parts and pieces of a full memo. The actual full memo based on that second assignment is due in a couple of weeks. I should probably start looking at the parts I haven’t written yet, huh?

OK, so generally, things are going well. I get my reading done, I go to class. I book brief. I try and raise my hand when I have something to add to the discussion or when I have a question that’s not stupid. I try to NOT raise my hand when I have something to add that isn’t really important or when my question is stupid.

Also, I’ve joined a low-key study group, I’ve made some friends, I’ve joined a couple of student organizations. I have a routine. My body is used to getting up early again. My cupboard is stocked with coffee and cereal and lunch meats. I see my husband fairly often and we make dinners several nights a week.

So law school is going well. One month in. I’ll do another one of these later in the semester. Just so I remember how I felt way back when, once exams roll around.

Friday fun

Whee! Lexis swag!

September 22nd 2005

Sausage and Peppers, slightly lower fat

I come from a big, ethnic family. We eat a lot of pasta with red sauce. I therefore make a mean red sauce. We also love things like sausage and peppers, though we never ate it at home, so I never learned to make this delicacy. Not long ago, Mr. Angst and I found a great restaurant and we had sausage and peppers there that were To. Die. For. So I decided I’d try and finally learn to make this dish myself. Here, my dear readers, is the FABULOUS result:

Sausage and Peppers, a la Kristine

2 tbsp olive oil
3 peppers, pick your color (I don’t like green, so I used 1 each red, yellow, and orange), seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
2 thin slices onion, quartered (so, cut your onion across the middle, then cut two thin slices, like you wanted to make onion rings, and then cut those slices crosswise in an X so you have nice thin strips of onion)
1 tsp. red pepper flake
pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
1 package hot turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup chicken, veggie, or beef broth
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup white wine
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add onions to pan and saute. DO NOT let them fry; you want them soft but not burned or crispy. After two or so minutes, add the peppers, skin side down. Try and get all the peppers into contact with the pan, to promote browning.

WALK AWAY, for at least 3 minutes. Do not fiddle with the peppers or they won’t brown and you will lose oodles of delicious flavor. Go ahead and add the salt, pepper, and red pepper flake. If you want to shake the pan some to get the seasonings down into the oil, that’s fine. But try not to move the peppers too much!

When the peppers begin to get soft and they are nicely browned, toss in the garlic. Stir the garlic into the onion and pepper mix. Don’t let it get too brown—burned garlic is bitter. When the garlic has softened, scoot the whole mixture out to the edges of the pan. Put the sausages, whole, in the hot center of the pan and, again, WALK AWAY. Turkey sausage, because of its low fat content, doesn’t have as much flavor, so the browning really helps to maximize the goodness of the whole dish.

As the sausage browns, turn it so that each link gets a chance to brown all over. Once the sausages are nice and browned, add the liquids and let them come up to a hearty simmer. Add the oregano and basil, stir into the mixture, and let it come back up to simmer. Cover the skillet for about five minutes.

When you uncover the pan, stir the contents around. The liquids should have come together into a slightly thick, murky broth.

Serve the sausages on pasta and cover with the broth. Be careful when you cut into the sausages—they might squirt. Devour with nice red wine and feel good about how healthy the meal was! Think about it—regular sausage and peppers are FULL of saturated fat and cholesterol and other bad things. But the low-fat turkey sausage, while definitely lacking in the texture department, has tons of flavor with hardly any fat at all.

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid

It seems Rita took a more northerly turn than expected, so my hometown is not the danger I feared it would be.

That, of course, means that other towns are in danger—namely, the one my brother lives in. He’s decided to stay, but he’s prepared: boarded up and well-stocked. (And what a birthday present for him! He gains a year on Saturday, right when the storm is set to make landfall.) I guess all we can hope for is that Rita moves quickly and doesn’t dump 40-days-and-nights of rain on Houston like that one tropical storm did. Of course, the flip side of Rita moving quickly is that she’s likely to spawn a bunch of tornados. Joy!

Speaking of Allison, by the by, I’d say that Houston is at least aware of the problems such natural disasters bring and is likely more prepared than it might otherwise have been. Still, hurricanes are no fun in big cities. I’m praying that everyone who should have gotten out did and that those who are left behind are well prepared for power outages and other deprivations.

September 21st 2005

two things

Hey, can anyone out there put me in connection with 2 or 3Ls at UC Davis? I’m trying to track something down. Email me.

(Also, Advantage Rent-a-Car sucks.

piece of s**t hurricanes

Times like these I really don’t want to be 1200 miles from my family.

First New Orleans gets hit by the big one—the first in four decades—and now my own hometown is in line to get swamped, having been spared a direct hit for my entire lifetime. Thankfully, my grandparents are already leaving, heading north, and I imagine both sets of aunts and uncles are going with them. That leaves only my godfather, who lives in a small fishing town, too close to the water for my comfort.

I can only think that, as horrific as Katrina was, it had the benefit of making a lot of coastal residents wake up and smell the storm surge. People who would never have left in years past are already packing up their cars and homes and getting away. Thank God.

I only wish I thought this extra caution would last beyond this hurricane season.