Tuesday, February 13, 2007

2008 Elections

I am very excited about the upcoming elections. It's going to be so interesting seeing history in the making. For the first time, the country will consider whether it wants an African-American, a woman, or a Mormon. There are going to be some interesting issues. In fact, I'm hoping for some good candid discussion.
I'm already a little disappointed in Obama. He was on 60 minutes this weekend, and while many of his points totally matched my own views, he was inconsistent on a point that really bothered and ultimately disappointed me. One minute he and his wife were talking about how, as a black man, he can get shot on the south-side at any time, and how he can't get a cab because no one will pick up a black man. Then, when asked if he thought race would be an issue in the election, he said no and if he loses it won't have anything to do with race. C'mon, if race is a factor in deciding not to pick you up in their cab, how can you expect race not to be an issue in voting for President? Too simple. I felt that all his answers were good answers in isolation but didn't send a cohesive message.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

de Young

On my final full day in Cali, my parents and I went to the de Young museum. It's in a new building, built specifically for the the museum. The building is really interesting and it's sheathed in copper and brass. It's also in the Golden Gate Park, which is always nice to visit - down the street from the bison! The de Young has a fabulous collection of art and artifacts from the Americas. It was really a nice museum. It had a very shi-shi cafe that overlooks the sculpture garden and park with really good (although expensive) egg salad and portabello mushroom sandwiches, and the museum is deceptively big. Once again I'm impressed by how nicely American museums are laid out. With the possible exception of a Picasso museum in Paris and the Munch museum in Oslo, I'm not impressed with the lay-out of European art museums. Their technique seems to be to just put as much up on the walls as possible. I like when museums have interesting placement of furniture and paintings. For example, at the de Young, we were looking at the paintings from American artists and in several places they had placed two paintings depicting the same type of subject matter, that looked like they were painted with similar color palettes and techniques, but they were from different artists. It was interesting to compare the similarities and differences close up.

The funny thing is that my dad didn't really want to go at first. Good thing he did, he helped solve a couple of mysteries for the tour guide who was leading the decorative arts tour.

The museum now know why the tops of the chair looks like it does, and how long it took to bend the rosewood table.

Fun facts: the sideboard has a place for liquor, silverware, and a chamber pot! The guy in the far right of the painting looks exactly like our tour guide at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville.

Tell me the first one doesn't look like a Klingon betleH. The next is a spirit suit, and the final is a form that the spirit of your evil ancestor can be tricked into inhabiting instead of haunting you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Superbowl down

Chicago was so hopeful for a good superbowl outcome. We all know how that turned out. The next day was full of criticism for Rex Grossman and the Bears in general. This struck me as kind of funny given the whole "Christian Coach" thing at the game. Apparently, that sentiment ends there. Okay, yeah the Bears didn't pull through, but let's give them some credit for getting there, and for stopping the Colts from scoring more than they did. You have to admit that the Colts played a good game. Their defense was always there on our guys!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Benicia, CA - the capitol on wheels

Obviously it wasn't all work when I went home for the interview. My parents actually took time off (in our travels we discussed how many days vacation time they each had - unbelievable) and took some trips. After my interview we went to Benicia. Benicia is a cute little town on a bay in the bay area. It's east of San Francisco Bay on the Carquinez Strait. Benicia has an interesting history - full of politicians, bordellos and a serial killer. Going in reverse chronological order, the Zodiac Killer made his debut near Benicia. For those of you who don't know, the Zodiac Killer "hung out" in California - seemingly favoring Northern California. He wasn't active when I was in high school, but that was where I first heard of him. It was reported that he killed young teenagers while out on a date. In fact, his first victims were two kids out on their first date - one of them a first date ever.

In Benicia's more ancient history, Benicia was founded in 1847 and is the first city in California to be settled by Anglo-Americans (as opposed to Spanish missions, forts or trading posts). For 13 months from 1853-4, Benicia served as the third state capitol. It was one of the four locations known as the "Capitol on wheels." It is the only pre-Sacramento site to survive. This was also during the rough and tumble gold rush days, so literally right down the street from the capitol, "entertainment" abounded. You can pick up a pamphlet from the historic train station (pictured above) and go on a walking tour. The main street isn't that long, and boasts two surviving buildings that used to be bordellos, two additional hotels (one of them said to be haunted by Disappointed Mary), and lots of old bars - one of which was later frequented by Jack London. (Jack London worked on the Fish Patrol and wrote "Tales of the Fish Patrol" and "John Barleycorn" there.) After much lobbying (by the wives of the legislators), the capitol moved to a more refined location at Sacramento.

One more additional note: in the 1850's and 60's, the US military decided on a new pack animal - the camel. The Camel Barns housed 77 camels for the purpose. When the Civil War broke out - they dropped the project. As far as I know, they let the camels go, and years later they were still finding camels in remote areas.

Two of the bordello sitesThe old state capitol buildingThe outhouse next to the capitol. It's a double seater!Some of the original buildings. The last one is now a tea house.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I bet misdemeanor convictions don't feel this good

I got my decision on the last case I argued. Murder conviction overturned! It's a published decision, which is great, and I made good law on an issue of law that hasn't been expressly held before. They only reached 2 out of the 7 issues they could have overturned on, but they were the two issues I argued at oral argument. Some of the things they say sound like they come right from my briefs too. I can't tell you how hard I worked on this case and how excited I am to have this under my belt! It's also a drop in the bucket toward restoring my faith in the system. A lot of things went wrong in this trial and I'm glad two problems were recognized.