Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Patrick Belton's ex-girlfriend has forsaken men. As someone who has been in his shoes, I advocate embracing the optimistic response.

Lapdog redux

Will Baude is in TNR again, this time rebutting the foolish Thomas-and-Scalia-always-agree meme (now in full length form - thanks, Spencer).

Sonnet 38

First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its 'Oh, list,'
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, 'My love, my own.'

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Google search weirdness

Lately all these hits have been coming to the site from people Googling Austin Bramwell. You're in the wrong place, folks! This is the home of Amber the small-l libertarian, not Austin the paleoconservative in monkey pants.

Update: the sudden curiosity about HLS's best dressed conservative is explained.

Scalia, you old dog

A tasty Blakely footnote:

"To be sure, JUSTICE BREYER and the other dissenters would forbid those increases of sentence that violate the constitutional principle that tail shall not wag dog. The source of this principle is entirely unclear. Its precise effect, if precise effect it has, is presumably to require that the ratio of sentencing-factor add-on to basic criminal sentence be no greater than the ratio of caudal vertebrae to body in the breed of canine with the longest tail. Or perhaps no greater than the average such ratio for all breeds. Or perhaps the median. Regrettably, Apprendi has prevented full development of this line of jurisprudence."

Sonnet 128

Oft, when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

-William Shakespeare

Countdown to International Kissing Day

As some of you may know, July 6 is National Kissing Day in the U.K. The United States lacks such a holiday. In an effort to call attention to the underrated pleasures of kissing, I am beginning a one-woman crusade to establish Kissing Day in the U.S.A. Every day I will post a song lyric or poem relating to kisses.

How you can participate:
-Post on your blog or tell friends via email that next Tuesday is International Kissing Day. Write a kissing-themed post or share a sweet kissing story.
-Find someone to kiss. You have a whole week, so get cracking!
-Kiss 'em! Kiss now, kiss all week, but definitely kiss next Tuesday.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Foiled Again

Why can't cell phones cause infertility in women? I can't hear people talking on mine half the time. It would be nice if it was good for something.

Dodgy theories and evasive maneuvers

Today the summer associates took a field trip to the Supreme Court. We heard the judgments in Hamdi, Padilla, Rasul, Patane, and Seibert. I confess to being most interested in the two Miranda-related opinions (despite my disappointing performance in Advanced Crim Pro, I maintain an interest in the subject matter - atypical for someone who normally gives up on things she's no good at). Justice Thomas was the only one willing to go along with the government's line in Hamdi, but in the cab on the way back I was still treated to the old saw about Thomas being Scalia's lapdog. In this instance, one of my colleagues sniffed that he probably wrote a confused opinion, since he usually just goes along with what Scalia says. Bah.

We also were told that we'd meet one of the justices. I had envisioned something a little more personal and intimate than what occurred (a Q&A session in a conference room along with another 20 summers from a different firm) and also something a little more informative. The justice couldn't comment on any matter that might come up before them in future cases, wouldn't disclose any juicy Court gossip (Closed Chambers is "nothing like the Court I know," the Justice says. they all get along peachily and sing kumbaya), and was a bit vague when it came to substantive questions. Anything specifically about a case produced an instruction to read an opinion. The Justice thinks the greatest challenge facing young lawyers today is balancing work and home life (how stale). When someone asked what would be the most lasting decision of this Court in the civil rights arena, the Justice dodged the question. We walked out having learned nothing except that the summers from the other firm prepped themselves with much more showy questions about cases. It was less exciting than one could have hoped for.

Regional differences in stolen items

During one of my visits back in Texas, I took note of the fact that condoms were the only item locked up behind glass in the town's supermarket. I thought this was sad for a variety of reasons: that young people there were so ashamed to be sexually active that they would rather shoplift than take condoms to the checkout line, that putting birth control items behind glass where they required a special request to a clerk to obtain probably further discouraged bashful teens, and that all this probably meant more unsafe sex and teen pregnancy (not that this was the store's fault - they are within their rights to minimize shoplifting by locking up frequently stolen items).

Last night I stopped by a drugstore in D.C. to pick up milk and soap. Unfortunately, the latter (in both its bar and liquid forms) was locked up in the aforementioned glass cabinets and I had to track down an employee to let me in to get body wash. He said they have a problem with people stealing soap. Ah, D.C., where the condoms roam free but the soap is under lock and key.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Where is the South?

There was no blogging Friday due to my firm's summer associate outing, but while we rode the bus back to D.C. there were some interesting conversations. (First of all, I revealed that I was a libertarian, which produced much befuddlement and consternation among those who formerly had good opinions of me as a right-thinking and sane individual.) Perhaps more controversial was our discussion the nature and location of "The South." It began with the assertion that D.C. is a Southern city and rolled merrily along from there. Some relevant issues we highlighted in determining whether an area could be included in the South:

-The Mason-Dixon line
-History of secession
-Slave v. free states
-Self-identification by residents as Southern and chosen association with "Southern culture" (whatever this means) and historical narrative
-Percentage of immigrants from other regions and number of generations who have lived in the same place
-Whether entire states had a consistent identification as Southern or whether states could be Southern even if a significant portion of the population rejected Southernness (NoVa, possibly Atlanta)
-Conversely, can regions of non-Southern states be Southern (example given was Kentucky/Indiana border, AKA Kentuckiana)?
-Texas: is it the South?
-How long does one have to live in the South before becoming Southern and how does one become non-Southern after leaving the South?
-What is "The South" defined with respect to? The North? The Mid-Atlantic? The Midwest? The more subdivisions are permitted, the smaller "The South" becomes.

We had some strong sentiments expressed by people from the D.C. suburbs that D.C. is not Southern and neither is Maryland or Virginia (at least NoVa). I think a lot of this was people imposing their own reluctance to be identified as Southern on the discussion, but I am suspicious generally. My quick and dirty definition of the South:

Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, North and South Carolina, Virginia, D.C., Kentucky, Tennessee, southern Missouri, eastern Texas, and northern Florida.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Unwarranted fears

Yesterday I turned in a memo that had been looming over me since the first day of work. It dealt with an area of law I had never encountered before, even in the most general or elliptical sense, and involved a great deal of research that confirmed, on a daily basis, how little I understood about how such transactions operate, the applicable (and changing) legal standards, and where the case law in all the different jurisdictions was going.

Today I got a call from the partner and went upstairs to review the memo with a fearful heart. Of course, it all turned out much better than I thought; he liked it and wants me to do some deeper research for a follow-up.

*sigh of relief*

Being a summer associate is nerve-wracking sometimes. It's not all lunches and wine-tastings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Never go to the Willard Hotel for breakfast. Although we had a very nice tea there last week, today we waited for 45 minutes after ordering before getting our breakfast dishes - and that was after having to ask repeatedly for the breads we ordered before and for such necessities as drinking water and milk for our tea. After the unacceptable delay, fully half of the meals had something wrong with them: sauces that should have been on the side dumped on top, onions missing, gummy waffle texture. Fie on the Willard Room and its pokey staff.

Nitpicks, nerves

I really wish the work computers had a tabbed browser. There are three programs running along the taskbar at all times: MS Outlook, the window of firm applications, and the document management system (which never seems to work for me when I want to save something). This means if I have more than four MS Word or Explorer windows open they tile themselves, and this is insanely annoying. Mozilla would be nice.

I turned in one of my memos and scheduled my midpoint evaluation for next week. Oh, that sinking feeling. On the bright side, I found a really helpful revenue ruling for the research for my second memo. I will miss tax when I rotate to litigation. Maybe they can continue to throw me some tax assignments on the sly. It's not like they have a dozen summers clamoring for them. Then again, I don't think document reviews are so bad. We'll see how things work out in my new department.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Maybe a just a little blog . . .

Breaking radio silence to say yay for Will Baude, who published his first piece in The New Republic Online today.


My grades continue their slow motion slide. If only I could adjust myself to contextual mediocrity or, in the alternative, bring myself to put forth the effort of 1L year. All I do know is that I am never taking another class with a take home or a paper if I can have one with an in-class exam instead. (I'm vaguely envious of people with GPA-boosting clinicals. Too bad most of the ones Harvard offers are uninteresting.)

The memo research is becoming critical, so no more blogging today.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Staying late

I'm still at the office. Today is my first real experience with staying late - most of the other summers, especially those in litigation, have done it tons of times in the last month. I thought I might order dinner through the firm's online delivery service (Seamless Web, for you New York types in the know), but I've been snacking all afternoon on a bag of gummi bears and am really not that hungry. I am getting frustrated and more than a bit panicky, though, since I've been hacking away at these last two issues since before lunch and still have little idea of the answer to the partner's questions.

Damn! I left the taxi voucher in my other purse. Maybe someone will still be at the front desk to give me another one when at last I finish this assignment. I'm sure the Metro will still be running then, but . . .


I have four Gmail invitations available. If you're interested, write to my Harvard account.

Sunday, June 20, 2004


No longer knowing the identities of all my commenters is an odd sensation.

I feel a sudden urge to sing the kind of ditty that invokes the spring

It's a beautiful day, cool and bright: perfect for strolling and picnicking. Unfortunately, today's schedule includes a less appealing menu of tax research and memo writing. I suppose that when one is thus cooped up, a certain amount of staring out the window and daydreaming is to be expected.

Productivity outlook: low to moderate.

(By the way, does anyone know of a decent Tex-Mex place in DC? The cantina on 17th is mediocre in all ways and Lauriol Plaza is a bit expensive for what you get.)

Friday, June 18, 2004

Harvard, why do you hurt me?

From an email sent out by the registrar today, June 18:

Full report of 2003-04 grades will be released on line on June 22. Please note the new location. Go to the Registrar's web page, select Registrar's Office On-line Services, and within that, select On Line Schedule. PIN is required.

If you find that you are unable to access HLS on-line services from the computer terminal at your company/firm, please try again from your home computer/laptop, as your employer may have technology in place to prevent you from accessing our web site.

Now I love that they are providing grades nearly a full month earlier than they did last year, but now my weekend will be filled (okay, not filled, but randomly interspersed) with thoughts of impending grades, grades that are unavailable to me for four whole days! Why not just send this email out on Monday? The inability to access them from work is just icing on the cake.

Out of my head

After nearly two whole days in a migraine induced state of wooziness, my brain has finally broken free. Unfortunately, in the interim I have acquired another project, been confronted with several journal problems, been seen at work for the last two days in some sort of disjointed fog, and realized that my wardrobe has some gaps that need to be filled immediately. The deadline for my large research project suddenly looms. It's like I've been away on vacation for the last couple of days and it all went to pieces in my absence.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Best friends

Eugene Volokh muses on the divisions between those whose closest friends are same-sex versus opposite sex. He thinks that close cross-gender friendships have become more common with increased integration of the professions. That may be one factor, but the propensity to be close friends with members of the opposite sex is often well entrenched at a young age. My tendency toward membership in his third category dates back to at least the third grade, but I always attributed that to a greater appreciation for boys' more straightforward way of interacting (versus the cattiness of elementary school girls). After years of complex and exhausting friendships with women in junior high and high school, finding good male friends in college was like coming home again.

Revenge of the memo

I got back the memo I submitted last week. They did not enjoy it as much as Curtis's boss enjoyed his memo. They didn't like my Bluebooking, either. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Tuesday song lyric

Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
'cause I only have eyes for you.
The moon may be high,
but I can't see a thing in the sky,
'cause I only have eyes for you.
I don't know if we're in a garden,
or on a crowded avenue.
You are here, so am I.
Maybe millions of people go by
but they all disappear from view,
and I only have eyes for you.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Mr. Yuck says do not lick the wall

The firm picnic was not as exciting as last night's gambling evening, although there was tasty barbequed chicken. Of course, being back home is no great shakes either. My entire apartment reeks of Raid due to a late night encounter with some kind of two inch long, multi-legged insect that crawled out of the windowsill right by my face. If anything can survive the chemical dousing I spent the greater part of the morning performing, it deserves this apartment more than we do.

Little rainbows everywhere

This evening my firm had a social event near Georgetown, but since it was a beautiful day I thought I'd walk instead of cab over. For the previous couple of hours there had been shouting and distant bullhorns, but I attributed it to another protest (there was one against genocide in Cote d'Ivoire earlier today - how odd is it to see people in DC waving signs decrying the policies of Chirac?) or general neighborhood noise. Only two blocks from my apartment, though, I ran into a march. The streets were lined with people, but until the rainbow flags peeked over their heads I didn't know what was up.

It was the Gay Pride Festival Parade.

It worked out that the route from my apartment to the hotel where our event was located exactly followed the path of the parade, so I saw the whole line of floats, from political candidates to PFLAG to (many) drag queens prettier than I am to the DC Bears Club. A guy trotted up, made a little bow, and asked if he could have a hug. I gave him one. A woman from one group handed me some Mardi Gras beads. Even the cops seemed to be caught up in the spirit (the salsa music pumping from the Latino group's float had to help).

One of the great things about living in a city is you just happen upon wonderful things without looking for them. The firm event was fun, but if I could do it over again I think I'd be a half hour late to the cocktail reception and stay to watch the parade.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Where did everybody go?

The last day or two have been full of strange and unsettling events. First, my friend Chris was supposed to join Lovely Sarah and me for drinks yesterday, but he stood us up with no explanation.

Then my roommate, who I had half-quarreled with on Wednesday, not only did not acknowledge my greeting when she finally came back to the apartment last night and instead continued to talk on her cell phone (granted, I shouted down from the loft, but I was already in bed), but she was not in the apartment this morning when I woke up. I know she was going to Tennessee to drive the partner's car there this weekend, but that's not until this afternoon (last weekend was her firm retreat). So where is she? Where was she? Are we not on speaking terms? Who knows?

Thanks to the government workers' being on holiday, the Metro was eerily empty this morning. I've never seen it so deserted on a weekday before. The streets were bare of traffic as well. DC was a ghost town. Even the office seemed a little echoing today, although the firm was open for business.

This weekend I have two firm events, so that should keep me occupied and provide human contact. I hope.

Life's little victories

Fun: receiving packages.

More so: gleefully mailing packages to other people.

Best yet: sending messages via unusual means with the goal of surprising someone - and succeeding. I love surprises.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


If you're not a regular Crescat reader, here's a belated heads up. I have been guest-blogging over there this week, which is part of the reason for my limited blogging here lately. The posts:

In which I lament the relative absence of wild creatures from my recent city life.

In which I reveal my preference for economic efficiency over "character-building" charity work

Not enough of this


Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.

-Amy Lowell

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

As if I needed more reasons to despise Harvard

Harvard recently announced that it will move to an electronic billing system for students. My initial reaction to this was positive; I pay as many bills as possible online, since it allows me to save on stamps and to pay my bills as they come in and thus makes me less likely to forget them. However, Harvard refuses to send you a paper bill even if you request one - completely ignoring people who pay bills but do not have internet access, either due to age, technological inexperience, or poverty (although undergraduates below a certain level go to Harvard for free now, so this last point is less important than it would have been a year or two ago).

While it's almost certainly a huge cost savings for the university to do away with mailing thousands of paper bills, not having an opt-in request system for paper copies and forcing people to do everything electronically whether they have the hardware or not irks me.

We also don't have grades yet. However, the registrar's office has helpfully added an additional layer of webpages between you and the online schedule request, making my obsessive checking include one more agonizing click-through.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

No time to weep

They may close the firm on Friday for Reagan's funeral. They may close all the big firms in the city. In how many ways is it bad that my first thought on hearing this was, "but I have a memo due on Friday!"?

Things are heating up

Yesterday was pretty intense. I still haven't heard back from the partner about the submission, but no news is probably good news: no "see me" emails in my inbox this morning. Today will be spent puzzling through the tax code (how much is tax like a choose your own adventure book, or maybe a text based computer game?). Tax I like for the same reason I like accounting; you get to play with numbers until you get the answer you knew you wanted in advance. There might be a maximizing solution, but it's likely that no one can agree what that is, so the only wrong answers are ones that make your client lose in Tax Court or get mad at you for causing him to pay more than he had to.

Tomorrow, unless I am utterly baffled by the tax project and have to skip it, will be our Habitat for Humanity day. Of course this means that the relatively cool weather is slipping away and it will be in the high 80s or 90s for the rest of the week. Mmm, working outside in the heat. At least the cicadas are disappearing too.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Good intentions

I had grand plans to come home and blog, but after working in a frenzy all day, turning in my first big project to a partner, going out to reward myself with consumer goods and being defeated at every turn when I attempted to purchase some useless frippery, and having doughnuts for dinner, I'm exhausted and have no creativity to spare. Maybe in the morning.

Sunday, June 06, 2004


My friend is in her room watching a movie on her laptop while I am in the living room reading articles about Regulation FD. Unfortunately, the movie in question is Monster, so she is gasping and screaming, "Oh my god! I'm going to throw up!" and "I don't know if I can watch this movie." Charlize is screaming, too. Tiffany refuses to walk away from it, though.

I knew watching it would be unpleasant and work provided a good reason not to. I didn't know I'd have to hear it.

A lot of graphic violence doesn't bother me. Neither does a really dark or depressing choice of subject matter. Some movies, though, seem calculated to make you feel worse for days after leaving the theater. I avoid those, even if part of me thinks that consuming critically acclaimed downers would be a valuable part of my film education. I don't eat a lot of vegetables, either.

Update: Will Baude comments. Without taking too much time from my current tasks, I wish to highlight the distinction between films and books that make you sad and those which delight in the degradation of their characters or seem to portray the most negative aspects of human nature as the most essential. I don't require happy endings. I do, however, wish to gain something from the experience of reading or viewing more than the irresistable urge to shower or a week-long despairing funk over the futility of the human condition. It's the difference between a dish of bitter greens and a bottle of castor oil.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Living the life

I often discuss, both with my roommate and with my own coworkers, the differences between our firm experiences. Part of the difference is firm culture - a Southern firm will have a different feel than one based in New York or Los Angeles. However, it seems that there are at least two strategies for wooing summer associates as well. Will Vehrs asked what I thought of my firm's team building exercise from yesterday and answering him only heightened the distinction.

I am at a firm where they do spend money on social events for us, but not an inordinate amount. We have a handful of big events scheduled, most of which are firm-wide, not just for summers. Our happy hours are the monthly firm happy hours. There's no drinking at lunches or a habit of going for drinks after work. We do get one day off, if I recall correctly, for a public service project (working on a Habitat for Humanity house: I'm going, not because I particularly want to give houses to the poor but because building things is immensely satisfying and gaining some tiny knowledge of carpentry sounds appealing). When we do get a free lunch, about half the time the food is modest; we go where the associates would have gone anyway or have it catered in by the firm cafeteria. I like it. It's a realistic taste of firm life.

My roommate, however, has already had two Fridays off, most recently to go on an all expenses paid road trip to pick up a car from another state for one of the partners, although I think he is paying her and the second summer associate in his individual capacity. They took another day off to go sailing. Drinks after work is an institution and she had lunches every day her first week and some days her second at fancy restaurants. Nothing is real. She works in a fantasy summer associate paradise. I think this is dishonest. It's a bait and switch; when you get back as a first year associate none of this will remain. How can you make an informed choice without a good sense of how your work experience will be?

One can argue that perhaps spoiling the summers is necessary to draw us in and convince us to work there for a year or two, giving us time to become accustomed to the lifestyle the salaries bring and thus more likely to stay despite the long hours - any dealer can tell you the first one is free. I can't help but think how silly it all is, though; why jet us off to Mexico for retreats (as some Houston firms are rumored to do) or ply us with binges of liquor when they could be finding which of us will be hard workers? The whole thing is somewhat bewildering.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Lessons Learned

If there is one thing Wonkette has taught us, it's that the blogosphere equivalent of sleeping your way to the top, providing titillating sexual content and being female (so it's hot, not creepy), gets results. That's why I feel conflicted about the current Instalanche; in an ideal world, my blog would get noticed because of something I wrote about law school or firm life or even a particularly witty comment about film or literature. Instead my musings about making out are what get the links. I don't know what relevance this has to the whole women-in-the-blogosphere debate, but you can draw your own conclusions.

Kissing Day

Apropos of my earlier post, Jesse at Abelblog suggests that tomorrow, June 5, be declared National Kissing Day. That's possible, but why not align ourselves with the Brits and have it on July 6?

Victory is mine! - er, ours.

We took a break from projects this afternoon to have a "team building exercise." I was afraid this would involve standing on top of a table and other summers having to catch me or some such nonsense, but instead we played a Jeopardy style trivia game. My team was in third place going into the bonus round, but thanks to some gutsy betting and my accurate recollection of how to spell "autochthonous," we took home the grand prize: Loews Theatres gift cards and little trophies to keep candy in. The card will pay for at least 3 movies. What should I see?

I am the very model of a modern major cheapskate

Yesterday we received our first paychecks. This is undoubtedly the largest biweekly paycheck I or anyone I am related to ever had. The understandable impulse is to send it off to the bank. However, my subletter called to let me know that she's sending the first month's rent and it should arrive soon, so I'm holding off on depositing my paycheck until I can send them both at once and save the extra stamp.

They are Lewis & Clark stamps, after all. Why waste 37 cents worth of something so pretty?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

In defense of comments

Some bloggers have recently discussed their aversion to having comments enabled. While I think that Scheherazade did an excellent job of defending comments, I feel compelled to add a few things I've found valuable about having them.

1. People are much more likely to leave a comment than to write an email. Email is more formal, non-anonymous, and does not leave a public record of protest. Unlike Jeremy, I'm not concerned about being upstaged by commenters. I find that one of the best aspects of this reduced cost of communication is that people are more likely to correct me. I hate looking stupid and not knowing it, so I appreciate readers who let me know when I went too far or made a mistake. We all learn something, the blog is improved, and everyone wins.

2. I can count the number of strangers who have emailed me about this blog on one hand, but have discovered at least a dozen new blogs by following links to commenters' websites. Because they read my blog, we often have some interests in common, or at least more so than random surfing produces. Comments provide me with additional web entertainment!

3. Comments are not always from strangers. I have several classmates who read and comment semi-regularly, and since we no longer live in the same apartment (or even the same coast), it's a convenient way to have a conversation with old friends. Sometimes surprise guests even appear - like Christiana or Ray - and we can all circle around and give them a virtual hug and ask them why it's been so long.

4. Finally, reading comments (or their more conventional counterpart, letters to the editor) on any website functions as a rough gauge as to when a website has jumped the shark. Once I find the comments or letters more informative, well-written, and interesting than the post or article they address, it's time to go. There are some exceptions to this; a site can integrate comments with its format such that the site is largely discussion based from the beginning. This, however, requires a certain humble approach to blogging, with an emphasis on creating posts that provoke thoughtful replies. (Update: Teresa Nielsen Hayden, whose website sets the gold standard for valuable comment threads, comments below that the best approach may not be to keep the riff-raff out but to guide the discussion by participating. I defer to her experience.)

Will may bemoan the signal to noise ratio in the comments section of popular blogs, but for those of us who are in the less traveled areas of the blogosphere they have their incidental benefits.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Kissing is a pastime highly underrated by people of a certain age. It seems that once one is out of the teens and well into the experience of adult sexuality, there is a tendency to shift focus away from the delicate pleasures that once enticed us. Kissing becomes a perfunctory act, or at most a form of foreplay. Fewer and fewer people recall the keen delight of kissing for kissing’s sake, of making out for hours in a state of foggy bliss, drunk on sensation. The absurdity of pressing lips together, of daring to explore with the tongue: perhaps their strange charms are forgotten, or they no longer inspire giggles and heady excitement. We no longer make time for oddball kissing games, sneaking nibbles or marathon snogs. It’s a damn shame.
Newspaper editorial from World War I:
“As for those wretches in the Senate, envious, pusillanimous, or abandoned, who with doubts and quibbles have denied their country’s conscience and courage in order to make a Prussian holiday, they may well be left to the judgment that good men and true men never fail to pass upon delinquents and dastards.”

Not enough people are called dastards these days.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

WaPo seems to think we should be worried about unlicensed phlebotomists. While I'm sure that, all else equal, more training makes for better and safer blood drawing technique, I would take the current average phlebotomist over the alternative, a licensed and trained nurse who draws blood only occasionally and received a smattering of training in her distant nursing school days. My mother's a nurse and she routinely has to call phlebotomists in to do difficult sticks that young nurses cannot do (that's when the other nurses don't call her instead; with twenty years of experience, she has the techniques down pat and while she complains about how often that happens I think she secretly likes being the resident expert).

My needle horror story (not as gory as Ms. Butler's): when I went in to get my wisdom teeth out, they put in an IV to shoot me full of liquid Demerol and Valium. While the drugs were on drip, they stuck the nitrous mask on and waited. After a few minutes, I was high as a kite but not sleepy in the least. They wait more and keep asking if I was getting sleepy, but I said no. Finally, they lifted the sheet from my arm and realized that the silly nurse (not an experienced RN or trained phlebotomist, I assume) has infiltrated my IV and all the yummy druggy goodness is just hanging out subcutaneously and not anywhere near my bloodstream. They freaked out, which I thought was funny since the gas is still flowing, and then had to restick me and shoot another dose of Demerol and Valium into my vein. I passed out and woke up on my grandmother's couch with my mother screeching about how subcutaneous liquid Demerol eats flesh or something and I need to keep my arm elevated so I have tissue left in my elbow. Moral of the story: painkillers good, IV insertion training better.
Despite my best efforts to medicate it out of existence last night, the Migraine from the Black Lagoon has returned in full force, along with the realization that the research assignment I intended to finish over the weekend and which is due today slipped my mind completely and now has to be finished this morning. Ugh and double ugh.