if justice is blind... Sua Sponte
My law school odyssey: three years, three time zones and beyond.



From my torts casebook:

In Lucas v. Hamm, 56 Cal.2d 583 (Cal. 1961), the Supreme Court of California held that an attorney who had drafted a will that violated the rule against perpetuities was not liable for malpractice. The court, noting that Professor Leach had described the rule as a "technically-ridden legal nightmare," declined "to hold that defendant failed to use such skill, prudence, and diligence as lawyers of ordinary skill and capacity commonly exercise."

thus spake /jca @ 9:22 PM...

I had an unusually nasty commute experience this morning, which is probably a metaphor for something-or-other.

After a highly unusual Caltrain delay due to an electrical short, I got to the city about fifteen minutes later than expected. I jog-trotted across King Street, pullman bag in tow, relieved that the MUNI trolley was still waiting for me. I slowed to a walk, heading back towards the rear car (it's the one that stops closest to the proper pair of escalators at Civic Center).

And then the doors started to close.

Wait a second, I thought. The driver has already seen me approaching. He can't just be leaving. What's going on? And then, after just a split second of excess deliberation, I lunged for the nearest door.

I figured if I could get a limb wedged in the door, a hand or an elbow or a foot or something, that would be all that was needed to sound an alarm and reopen the doors and stop the tram from moving any further. It probably would have been; but that extra split second got me in the end, and I found myself slapping my palms against the windows of a pair of already-closed doors, much as desperate lovers do in movies while attempting to persuade their fleeing paramours to stick around a bit longer.

I got on another streetcar about ten minutes later, and still was almost late to torts. Now I trust the streetcars that much less; every time I look at one, I see doors sliding shut in my face, almost laughing at my inability to stop them.

thus spake /jca @ 7:27 PM...

Reason #42 why I love Professor Torts:

His illustration of Learned Hand's rule for determining a reasonable standard of care in a negligence case. "The burden of actually reading a case is less than the probability that you'll get called on times the loss you'll feel when you're called on and haven't read the case."

thus spake /jca @ 1:03 PM...


No natto, but I did enjoy something new today: iced green tea with smoked plum, complete with a good layer of "pearls" (black marble-sized jelly balls made from tapioca) in the bottom of the cup and a big pipe of a straw through which to slurp them. My husband derived similar pleasure from his almond-milk tea, and unlike me, he actually went out of his way to slurp up all his pearls after he'd finished the liquid part of the drink.

Pearl tea! Is this a California thing, or can it actually be had elsewhere in the country?

thus spake /jca @ 10:27 PM...

Too lazy today to go to San Francisco when it's not required of me, and plus the trains aren't running, so today's teahouse excursion will only take us as far as Cupertino. Still, the shopping center where we're headed is a terrifically fun place -- an open-air mall that we jokingly call "EPCOT," since all of the maps and signs are either solely in characters or subtitled in characters (I recognize Korean and Chinese characters, although there might also be kanji and I'd have no idea). Even the adjacent Charles Schwab branch has something in characters on the sign, which leads me to wonder how you would spell a name like Charles Schwab phonetically in any Asian language.

Maybe the Ranch 99 market will even have natto!

thus spake /jca @ 3:05 PM...


My law school has released this semester's final exams schedule, and my December now looks like this:

Last day of classes: 12/6
Torts: 12/9, morning (guess I'll have to get a hotel room in the city for the night)
Contracts: 12/12
Civ Pro: 12/16
Crim Law: 12/19

It is, of course, awfully nice of the school to space exams out like this. Three days in between each pair should give me ample time to study. But the problem is that the premiere is on the 18th, the day before my Crim exam. I know I'm going to be completely fried from the previous three exams, and will probably be simultaneously packing to head back east for holiday family-visiting action. My chances of resisting temptation aren't exactly promising.

Torts and Crim, rumor has it, are the only exams that really matter this semester, since Contracts and Civ Pro are both two-semester courses with next semester's exam counting for 75% of the grade. So it would seem that Crim would be one of the two exams I would absolutely not want to compromise.

But on the other hand, it's the premiere. And, as if I weren't already in a puddle on the floor over Aragorn

this time I get to swoon over Eomer as well

which just makes Crim feel so, well, unexciting in comparison.

Ahhh, if it were just me being me and things were already as I wanted them, I'd totally cave and go to the premiere. But I've got to keep my priorities together, and those, alas, don't include Karl Urban. Or shouldn't. Or can't.

Eyes on the prize.
Eyes on the prize.
Eyes on the prize.

thus spake /jca @ 7:43 PM...

Wow. I just finished this case for torts, and I don't know whether to laugh or just roll my eyes repeatedly.

I will say that it's the longest paragraph I think I've ever seen outside of James Joyce.

Guess that's why they pay Manhattan municipal judges the big bucks...or at least did in 1941...

(Incidentally, if you're looking for a break from briefing and/or a good laugh, check out the rest of this guy's website. You'll laugh.)

thus spake /jca @ 6:29 PM...

This excerpt from Jay Nordlinger landed in my email box yesterday, with the subject line "Life in the Supreme Court fishbowl":

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was greeting Louisiana State University law students after a speech a few years ago when one enraptured student came up to him and said, 'I've named my pet fish after you.' 'Oh, you've named him "Nino"'? the justice said. 'No,' said the student, 'I've named him "Justice Scalia."' Later, a professor who'd overheard the conversation asked the student whether he had other fish named after justices. 'No,' the student replied, 'Justice Scalia ate all the others.'

thus spake /jca @ 5:16 PM...


Can anyone recommend a CD ROM drive that will rip a CD into nonblippy MP3's in somewhat less than thirty-six hours? Every review I find rates the product not on its ability to rip a CD, but on its ability to play a DVD movie. Perhaps this feature will be important to me some day, when I once again have time to watch movies and for whatever reason decide I wish to do so on my computer screen. Meanwhile, I'd love suggestions to suit my current need; I'm starting to get really, really tired of ninety-nine variations on La Folia on the wall, ninety-nine variations on La Folia...

thus spake /jca @ 3:36 PM...


I've complained about Thursdays before, but never in any real substantive detail. Here is what my Thursday is like: I catch the 8:17 train into the city, with just enough time to stop by Starbucks (a so-so idea, based on cost & quality) or the school cafeteria (a far better idea) to procure some caffeinated beverage, a bottle of water, and the sandwich that will eventually be my lunch. And then the marathon begins.

Crim Law starts at 10:40, Torts at 11:40, Contracts discussion group at 12:40, Contracts actual class at 1:40, and Civ Pro at 2:40. At 3:30, there's just enough time to run across the street and up to the lawbrary to print out whatever's required for that day's El-Dubyar assignment before El-Dubyar itself starts at 4:40. It lets out at 6:30, and if I'm lucky and MUNI is running on schedule I catch the 7:00 train and am home by 8:30 pm, with a full twelve hours elapsed since I left that morning.

It unequivocally sucks.

Having said that, today was saved in a brilliant fashion by my husband -- or more specifically by his friend M. I should first say that while it's common knowledge that we do not own a printer, the casual Sua Sponte reader may also not know that we, for all intents and purposes, do not have television. We lack cable entirely, and the TV set we do own is roughly twenty years old. You turn it on by pulling out a knob; turning that same knob controls the volume. Its sole use is in playing VHS tapes on our old VCR (we're not going to bother buying a DVD player before upgrading everything else).

Anyways, M., who shares my husband's philia for all things Japanese, had chosen this day to share with us a taped episode of Iron Chef, a show which we both adore. It was the battle where Morimoto faces off against a Japanese traditionalist named Kumamoto over the focal ingredient, a vomitous-looking mess called natto. Neither my husband nor I have ever tasted the stuff; the nice waitresses at Fuki Sushi have prevented us from ordering it whenever we tried to, since it apparently smells worse than it looks and tastes worst of all.

After watching Morimoto-san take this disgusting stuff and boil it in Coca-Cola to make a dessert, suddenly my Thursday felt a lot better.

thus spake /jca @ 10:38 PM...


I've lit a stress-relief candle, which smells vaguely like soap.

You know, there's probably a buck to be made in the gag-gift market selling stress-relief candles with wicks at both ends.

thus spake /jca @ 9:06 PM...

Time to finalize my draft memo. I hate attempting to restate things in fewer words.

My pets are starting to feel my pain, or maybe my husband's, or maybe both. I opened their cage today to say hi, and Luca, who's normally reasonably mellow, completely freaked. He bolted away from my hand twice, landed in the wheel and ran like the wind. My husband came over to see what was going on, reached in as well, and was promptly bitten by Enzo (who has an aggressive streak).

"What's gotten into them?" my husband wondered as Luca scampered around in circles, wedging himself back between the wheel and the cage wall, and Enzo retreated back under his log cabin toy.

"Well, you know how they say you can smell fear," I mused. "Maybe these guys can smell strung-out, and they smell it on us, and they want no part of it."

Bad sign, though...when you're so strung out that your mere presence upsets your pets.

thus spake /jca @ 9:01 PM...


I should really finish my El-Dubyar citation exercises ("The case of James T. Kirk versus Jean-Luc Picard appears in the second volume of the Atlantic Reporter, at volume 145, on page 190" and so forth), but I've been distracted by that worthiest of legal columnists, Justice Bedsworth. I adore this guy. Maybe he'd like a clerk from Northern California, in a few years?

thus spake /jca @ 8:43 PM...

Folks who have met me in person for any length of time know that I turn red at very little provocation. Embarrass me, and I blush furiously; make me laugh too hard, particularly with a mouthful of water, and you'll see me turn a shade of purple best described in the words of former consulting coworker P.T.: "Hey, is that color web-safe?"

Today I fear it gave me away.

My husband, who is prone to illnesses both real and imagined, decided in a panic at about 1:45 pm today that he just might have ruptured his appendix. He chose to alert me to this by repeatedly calling my cell phone.

Unfortunately, I have Civ Pro from 1:40 to 2:30 on Tuesdays. Doubly unfortunately, I had oh so stupidly forgotten (as I tend to) to set my phone to vibrate. Triply unfortunately, the phone was stowed away in my pullman bookbag, which itself was stowed on the floor in front of and about three feet below my seat in the second row of the classroom amphitheater. And then, to add insult to injury, the special ringtone that (repeatedly) indicated my husband as the caller was set to a laughably-digitized MIDI of Saint-Saëns' The Swan.

By the end of class, the professor himself could have hummed along with it.

The first few times it rang, I winced -- and continued typing, pointedly ignoring the fact that The Swan was piping through the air near me and hoping that my face wasn't turning red. Professor Civ Pro is not kind to in-class cell phone victims; maybe I could escape his radar. By the third time, though, the thing happened to pipe up during a moment of total silence. Tum, tum, tum, tum, tum, tum, tummmmmm ta-tummmmm... "What is that?"

I sat there, feeling my face heat up, certain that Professor Civ Pro would immediately figure out it was my phone and ban me from the classroom thenceforth. A., who sits next to me, helped me out: "It sounds like someone's piping in music through that speaker up there," she suggested, indicating one up on the ceiling. I furiously emailed my husband to stop calling me while I was in class, hoping he was near his computer.

"Sounds like the ice cream man," said Professor Civ Pro, and returned to his lecture on long-arm statutes.

I could only imagine the color of my face. There wasn't any good way for me to stand up, go down to my bag, and shut the thing off without clearly identifying myself as the guilty party. The phone was hardly loud enough to be more than a giggleworthy annoyance...maybe I could just hold out until the end of class?

Tum tum tum tum tum tum tummmmmm ta-tummmmm...

Sure enough, everyone giggled. At this point my face turned the color that isn't web-safe.

"Ice cream man, ice cream man," muttered Prof Civ Pro, shaking his head.

Maybe it's helpful that it keeps going off, I thought to myself. Maybe people will be less inclined to think it's someone's phone when the sound keeps repeating and no one does anything. Maybe everyone will just assume that someone's playing a GameBoy back in the gallery or something. Why does he keep calling??? I started two emails to my husband, but canceled both when I realized they consisted almost entirely of exclamation points.

Civ Pro isn't usually one of my favorite classes to begin with; today, it couldn't end soon enough.

The phone wound up ringing a total of four times. I later noticed that he had also sent me three pages. Thankfully, at least the pager vibrated. His third voice mail finally informed me that he feared he'd ruptured his appendix and was driving to the doctor's for an emergency appointment.

Now, if either he or I had known anything about ruptured appendices, we'd both have had our minds set at ease by the fact that he was capable of driving himself to the doctor's office in the first place. But neither of us did, and so peace of mind had to wait until I called him, missed him, and had him return the call: "False alarm!"

Lessons learned:
- Set your phone to vibrate!
- If you're the kind of person who forgets to set your phone to vibrate, never keep your bag out of arm's reach.
- If you're the kind of person who calls a loved one repeatedly when you're afraid something's wrong, please be considerate of said loved one's likelihood to wind up on harsh professors' shit-lists before you start chain-calling.
- If I wind up living in a neighborhood where the ice cream man plays Saint-Saëns, I'll consider myself lucky indeed.

thus spake /jca @ 6:11 PM...


On-campus interviewing ("Oh See Eye") season has begun at my school, which means two things to an otherwise unconcerned 1L:

1) My favorite study room, a luscious miniature library tucked away up on the third floor of the classroom building, has now become overcrowded to the point of uselessness. Every time I check, the gloriously-overstuffed leather couches and scarce electrical outlets are all occupied by folks in temporary exile from their usual place of study, the much larger room down the hall and around the corner that's currently serving as Oh See Eye headquarters.

2) People in suits. Elsewhere this might not be so laughable; but people are Californian at my school, and the standard dress code includes not only board shorts and T-shirts but flip-flops. No, not fancy thong sandals: actual plastic flip-flops in Day-Glo colors, the kind you'd buy at the drugstore and wear to the beach. I've decided it must be a SoCal thing, since locals -- myself and my husband included -- are much more likely to be seen in public wearing Birkenstocks. (At least I would if I ever got around to refreshing my two-month-old pedicure. But I digress.)

Anyways, the besuited throngs are cute in a penguinish kind of way. They fuss over their neckties and makeup in the elevator mirrors like actors headed for an audition, but unlike actors, they haven't quite figured out how to wear their new skins. Fidgeting abounds, which makes a crowded elevator all the more entertaining. The student services association is running a rather escapist "suit check" in the mezzanine lounge: if you can't stand to stay in character for the whole day, you can always drop your duds off on their bellhop's rack for a fee of $2 and attend class in your flip-flops.

What impresses me the most isn't the concept of Californians wearing suits -- I'll spot one on the train every so often, frequently enough that their mere existence has ceased to surprise me -- but the fact that the suits chosen by these particular Californians all seem to have come from the same dye lot. They are all straight-cut black-on-black affairs, better suited to a pallbearers' convention than an impression-making session. I took one look at a few similarly-attired folks queued up outside the ad hoc interview center and heard the lyrics to an old Sting song in my head: fussing and flapping in priestly black like a murder of crows.

My own interview suit dates from the "gray is the new black" era; I guess its time has come and gone, and now the new black is actually the old black again. I wonder if it still will be by the time my own Oh See Eye turn comes?

thus spake /jca @ 7:34 PM...


Prof. Cooper on laptops vs. Prof. Davies on laptops. (And just for fun: Waddling Thunder on laptops.)

I hadn't thought of my notetaking as an act of stenography -- words flowing straight from my ears to my fingers, bypassing my brain -- before, but I wonder. It'll be interesting, when I finally get around to starting my outlines, to see how much of my notetaking will resonate as something I've read before, and how much will be total news to me. (Prof. Cooper -- I don't game during class! Really! My spread-thin attention span couldn't handle it. My in-class multitasking is limited to keeping an email window open, since we're required to turn off our cell phones in class. And that's all. Seriously.)

Worth noting, on a different subject: after being leveled with food poisoning and eating nothing more substantial than water and Tylenol for 36 hours, few things on earth are more heavenly than a bowl of plain basmati rice.

thus spake /jca @ 6:20 PM...

Feeling slightly better today, but still not happy. I can sit up and even walk around without fainting, but I still have no appetite and am nauseated by the smell of pretty much anything that has one.

Turns out our friend did win Best of Show yesterday, with, among other things, a keg of steam beer that was "even better than the stuff he gave us," according to my husband. It says something for my current physical condition that even hearing this inspired in me no desire to taste it.

St. Daniel phoned me yesterday, in a welcome break from feverish snoozing. "It's OK if you have to miss class," he reassured me. "You'll still do fine." And, in response to the warning I'd gotten from the 2L on Wednesday ("How could someone with a 170 and a 3.8 from Cal not make a 2.0 here? But she didn't, and she didn't come back."), St. Dan reassured me: "The worst grade you'll get is a B. If it's a question of going to bed vs. doing one more brief, go to bed -- your presence of mind is worth more than one brief."

Even if he's making it up -- or, at the very least, if he's representing an opinion every bit as personal as those put forth by the commercially-published doomsayers -- I owe an ongoing debt of gratitude to St. Dan, and others like him, for supporting me at my most susceptible. *hugs*

Faced with the choice of whether to brief all the reading I did on Friday or sleep some more today, I think I just might opt for sleep.

thus spake /jca @ 9:43 AM...



For weeks I'd been looking forward to the Norcal Home Brewers' Festival, the daylong bender in Napa where our homebrewer friends stood a damn good chance of taking Best of Show with their steam beer this year. All this week I couldn't wait for the chance to set everything aside, stop thinking about school and moving, and just drink a bunch of really good beer (and lambic, and mead, and so forth).

So of course I have to go and get sick!!!

[gnashing of teeth]

It's my own damn fault, too. Back on Thursday, on the train home, I asked my husband to make me some salmon, and stupidly suggested that he dress it in a buttermilk-based hot sauce I'd made. What I'd forgotten was that I'd made the sauce several months ago, that this particular recipe contained no vinegar or alcohol or other such preservative, and that buttermilk goes bad. I ate the salmon without incident, and then, yesterday afternoon, felt an odd pain in my stomach.

I took Mylanta; it got worse. I ate an apple and some popcorn, thinking it might be hunger. It got worse. I took some simethicone. It kept getting worse. We went out for Indian food and I found that I had no appetite whatsoever. And then, once we returned home from dinner, all hell broke loose in my GI tract. I was feverish, shaking with nasty chills, unable to stand or even sit up without hearing deep water rushing in my ears and seeing black veils falling down in front of my face. I crawled from the bathroom to bed to the bathroom and back, utterly miserable even before I realized that I would probably be out of commission for Norcal.

This morning I thought I felt better; then I got up, started to walk to the bathroom, and almost passed out. No dice. My husband took my temperature: a hundred, even. No Napa for me.

Eight hours later -- despite spending pretty much the whole day in bed, in various states of drowse -- I still feel awful, although now at least I can walk to the kitchen and get a glass of water without passing out. Standing or sitting upright for any length of time still makes me nauseous, though, and my whole body aches like I've just had a huge workout (another thing I had to skip today).

I'm open to suggestions for food poisoning home remedies, if anyone can suggest one...

thus spake /jca @ 6:19 PM...



My husband had forwarded me an email earlier in the day, from one of his longest-standing best friends. These guys played Dungeons and Dragons together ages ago, back before their voices had even changed. Now S. was proudly sharing the news with my husband that he had successfully begun a master's program at MIT.

My husband holds three-and-a-half degrees from MIT: two bachelor's degrees (they actually give you two diplomas when you double major), a master's in electrical engineering, and a year's worth of Ph.D. studies, including PWEs and orals. He left the school on sabbatical when we moved to California, a few years ago, intending to return eventually. In the meantime, he co-founded a startup company and married me (though not in that order).

Lately he's been wondering whether it was time to call the startup experiment a qualified success and return to the previously-scheduled plan. Now that S. was there, brimming with effusive praise for the MIT educational model, my husband remembered afresh how much he missed it.

"Do you want to go back now?" I asked him as we drove to Burrito Real for dinner.

"First you have to get into law school," he responded.


He's not the only one who's thinking about leaving. We spent last Sunday afternoon at a going-away party for three friends who are headed back east, two to New York and one to Boston. A smattering of other folks have also quit showing up to work in favor of reestablishing themselves on the Right Coast. Now, it seems that the last straw may be about to hit the camel's back: my husband's grad-school roommate, one of his founding partners in the startup, is pondering bailing in the imminent future.

"He needs to take some classes, study for the MCAT, and all his family and support systems are back east," my husband told me over my cell phone as the train shuffled out of San Francisco last night.

"Wow," I said. "At the party he talked about heading to med school, but I figured he'd wait until next summer."

"He's kind of like with you and law school," my husband surmised. "Once you're set on a plan, there's no reason to wait."

"Well --" I didn't have a response to that. The obvious reason to wait would be to enable yourself to do things right the first time, rather than setting yourself up into a position where you're praying for a reversal on new evidence. On the other hand, we're all getting older, and medical school takes a good deal longer to complete than law school. And technically, acting now might well give him enough time to do things right. He went to MIT also, and monomaniacal obsessiveness is, after all, a graduation requirement there.

(No, I didn't go to MIT, in case you're wondering. As obsessive as I am, I freely admit that I'm far too unfocused to survive the place.)

My husband is rather at sea at the moment. On one hand, he's as ready as anyone to join the eastward exodus; apart his gym membership and his wardrobe consisting solely of T-shirts, shorts, jeans and Birkenstock sandals, he's no more Californian than the sugar maple. But on the other hand, he started something out here, it's going better than anyone would expect in this market, and he would hate to leave without seeing it through to some closure point.

"Just get those grades," he said, effectively leaving the decision to me.

Get those grades.
Tote that barge.
Lift that bale.

thus spake /jca @ 7:26 PM...

A big up to the University of Waikato in New Zealand, which now features Sua Sponte on its blawgs list. Kia ora, guys, and of course you're invited to join the Blawg Ring!

thus spake /jca @ 12:20 PM...


Back a month ago, when I first noticed that my school's cafeteria sold little packets of Motrin at the checkout counter right next to the candy bars, I found it amusing. But now I find it very, very wise of them.

thus spake /jca @ 11:07 PM...


The draft memo is finally done, to my relief. Now I remember the best part about writing papers: finishing them.

Rushing out to catch the 5:20 train this afternoon, I ran into a nifty 2L in the lobby and, rather against my schedule, got to talking. She is also a classical singer and loves the idea of planning a performance later in the year, which now means I have no excuse for not getting back into practice. But then she started saying depressing things to me: "Don't spend more than six hours a week on El-Dubyar. Okay, ten hours a week. But no more. Here's the secret: everyone gets a B."

Well, that's not exactly true, she specified when pressed for more information. One person per section gets an A. Everyone else gets a B. The sole A is earned by voodoo, by the one person who has magically developed the oh-you'll-figure-it-out-with-practice instinct that the El-Dubyar establishment is proudly refusing to teach us directly.

This made me a bit nauseous.

"Listen," said the 2L, by way of reassurance. "Grades are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

"Ah, shut up," I said, as kindly as possible. Not going to listen. Plugging my ears. Begone, nasty evil thoughts. La la la la la la la.

I'm just really tired of hearing this. I can't help but imagine that a well-prepared student with decent presence of mind and a cultivated facility for issue-spotting, someone who's gone to all the discussions and picked up on all the professorial buzzwords and nitpicks and causes célèbres, is probably going to do just fine on the exam. If I can make myself into that person, I should therefore inherit this likelihood of doing just fine. Why not?

I missed the 5:20 train but made the 5:55, got home at 7, booted up the laptop and flipped on the stereo -- but this time I didn't bother with the Dvorák. I queued up The Fragile, long overdue, and went to work.

If there's going to be one A, I'm going to do my damnedest to isolate the formula that earns it. I'm going to figure out as much as I can to crack this code, to puncture the myth that law school grades can't be earned.

And now the memo's done, or at least a satisfactory draft thereof. In the midst of my typing-citing frenzy, I overheard a song lyric that was better than Xanax. So simple. I paused for a moment, closed my eyes, and pretended someone was saying it to me:

I won't let you fall apart.
I won't let you fall apart.
I won't let you fall apart.
I won't let you fall apart.

thus spake /jca @ 10:34 PM...


At long last, after nearly an entire month of keeping the pace of school, I'm experiencing a long-awaited sense of déjà vu. I've got a stack of photocopied, cross-referenced, Shepardized cases on the couch cushion to my right, the laptop on my lap, some nice upbeat Dvorák on the stereo, and my first memo for El-Dubyar, as yet unwritten, on the to-do list for tonight.

I've got a paper due, and I'm procrastinating. It's like college all over again.

'Course, if it were college, I wouldn't be blogging; I'd be involved in some vehement, heartfelt, and yet utterly trivial discussion with my roommates, or tweaking the HTML on my old home page, or listening to St. Dan and his roommates play their guitars, or studying Italian poetry over coffee with A., or trying to convince my husband-to-be to set aside his fifteen-hour problem set for a few minutes since I was calling long distance. The music back then would have been Rachmaninoff or Ella Fitzgerald, the computer a 1991-issue 486 named the Elephant, and the furniture consisting largely of stacks of loose cushions. My hair had not yet begun to turn gray. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living.

I miss college.

My procrastination skills, I'm proud to report, have weathered the years since graduation far better than any other skills I acquired as an undergraduate. I've already unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned off the mess of mail on the kitchen table, put some chicken out to defrost for dinner, and even finished my Crim Law reading for tomorrow. By rights, I should be devoting these present moments to organizing my memo, pulling together an outline, reaccustoming my eyes to the Courier font.

I will, soon enough.

Right now I'm reminiscing, though. Ah, how I miss it. I wish A. would call up from a blue phone so we could head over to the Taft Caffè and pick up where we left off, pondering Ungaretti. M'illumino d'immenso. I wish I'd get an ntalk request from J. that would keep me up all night and make me cranky the next day in the best kind of way. I wish I could hear K. play the Rain Song on his guitar one more time. I wish I didn't have to dye my hair. I wish I'd thought so many things sooner than I did.

Section 415 of the California Penal Code defines disturbing the peace as either fighting in public, making loud and unreasonable noise, or using offensive words in such a manner as to provoke an immediate violent reaction. The guy in our hypo didn't really do any of the above; upset with his best friend, he swore at the top of his lungs in a public park, which could perhaps have been unreasonable noise except that it wasn't really. Then, when an off-duty police officer leading a troop of girl scouts on a park tour overheard him and asked him to stop, he swore at her. Swearing at a police officer has been known to constitute "fighting words" under California law. And I'm thinking about this again now, and that's good, and memory lane is getting a bit too misty so I'll go back to work now. back to work now. back to work. to work.

thus spake /jca @ 8:30 PM...


In the interest of giving back to the community, particularly the community of folks googling Sua Sponte in search of case briefs, the Sua Sponte editorial staff is proud to present:

Pennoyer v. Neff, explained!
(Form of a question, please.)

Q: So why did Pennoyer sue Neff, anyway?
A: He didn't. Neff actually was the one who sued Pennoyer. Federal cases heard on appeal list the name of the appellant first; in this case, Pennoyer was the original defendant. He didn't win the first round; therefore, he appealed.

Q: OK, so why did Neff sue Pennoyer?
A: Because Pennoyer claimed title to some land in Oregon which Neff was pretty certain belonged to him first. Pennoyer bought the land under a "sheriff's deed," the nineteenth-century equivalent of a repo auction.

Q: How did the land come up for auction if Neff owned it?
A: Now we get to the meat of the story. Neff originally claimed the land under a government patent. (Today, possessing a patent means you own the rights to a particular piece of intellectual property; back then, it meant that you owned the rights to a piece of real property.) He engaged an Oregon lawyer, J. H. Mitchell, to help him finalize the paperwork on the patent...then left the state of Oregon and returned home to California. Mitchell proceeded to sue Neff for nonpayment of legal fees.

Q: People who don't pay their lawyers are bad and evil. OK, I'm with you so far.
A: You're quick for a 1L. Anyways, the Oregon court system allowed for service of process by publication -- basically, to let someone know you were suing them in an Oregon court, all you had to do was print an ad in the local newspaper saying so and have the paper's production manager document this in an affidavit to the court.

Q: But didn't you say Neff lived in California?
A: Exactly! So when Mitchell served him with process in the Oregon newspaper, Neff obviously missed it. The Oregon court convened to hear the case, but when Neff failed to show up, a judgment was entered upon his default -- liable by reason of his own absence, as it were. The court then seized and sold Neff's Oregon property to pay his debt to Mitchell; it eventually wound up being sold to Pennoyer.

Q: Wait, so a court in Oregon could get away with appropriating land that belonged to a guy in California just because he didn't read the Oregon papers?
A: As it turns out, no, they couldn't. The Mitchell v. Neff decision was reversed in the first round of Neff v. Pennoyer, since apparently the affidavit filed by the editor of the newspaper was legally flawed.

Q: That's why they couldn't do it? That sounds way too trivial for the U.S. Supreme Court.
A: You're right. When the case finally made it to SCOTUS, they upheld the reversal, but for completely different reasons.

Q: Right, the whole mess with attachment and jurisdiction in rem. I don't get it.
A: OK. First off, remember that no state court could serve process on any noncitizen who isn't present in the state. Let's say I live in California, you live in New Jersey, and you want to sue me in a New Jersey court. You have to serve me while I'm actually in New Jersey, either changing planes in Newark or visiting my relatives over the holidays. You can't just publish an ad in the Star-Ledger saying I'm hereby served -- I'm not.

Q: Couldn't I sue you in federal court?
A: Only if you sought damages in excess of $75,000. But that's diversity jurisdiction, a separate issue; let's not digress. You're suing me in state court, and so you can't serve me with process unless I'm there. This is personal jurisdiction, a.k.a. jurisdiction in personam.

Q: But if you owned property in New Jersey, couldn't I somehow sue you?
A: Yes, you could, in either of two ways:
   1. "Sue my property." When the property itself is the item in contention, you've got jurisdiction in rem. You'd file a case like In re five acres outside of Bridgewater, New Jersey, and whatever outcome resulted from that case (let's say, for example, a defined boundary) would be binding on all subsequent owners of that property.
   2. Attach my property, then sue me. This is an innovation lifted from international law: jurisdiction quasi in rem, where you can sue a nonresident of a state but he'll only be liable up to the value of the property he holds within the state. "Attaching" the property (thanks to the Angry Clam for clearing this up) involves bringing a piece of property into the custody of the court, linking it to the outcome of the case. You've got to do this right at the outset of a suit; obviously, you want it in contention before the defendant has a chance to sell it.

Q: OK, so then how did the Oregon court screw up?
A: They lacked jurisdiction in personam over Neff since he was domiciled in California and not present in Oregon at the time of service/during the suit. They lacked jurisdiction in rem over Neff's property since the subject of Mitchell's suit was not the property, but Neff's alleged nonpayment of fees due Mitchell. And they lacked jurisdiction quasi in rem since they failed to attach Neff's property at the beginning of Mitchell's suit, waiting until after the judgment to seize it.

Q: But didn't the Oregon court have subject-matter jurisdiction over the case?
A: Doesn't matter. SMJ alone is insufficient; without personal or (quasi) in rem jurisdiction, a court can't adjudicate your claim.

Q: After all this, what happened to Pennoyer?
A: He lost. Perhaps he should have considered relocating to California.

thus spake /jca @ 10:18 PM...

The neat part of being bipolar is that the downs never last long, and the ups are always rewarding to the extreme.

After spending nearly the entire weekend in a blue funk, which only deepened upon my husband's insistence that he spend a large chunk of our allotted Together Time repairing our broken wireless network hub, I finally rediscovered the upswing today.

The wireless network is once again functional, thanks to spousey's skillful capacitor-soldering. Our meeting this morning with our soon-to-be new tax accountant worked out very much to our satisfaction. Torts was canceled today since Prof. Torts was busy atoning for all the torts he'd committed this past year. And then, this afternoon -- [cue the Handel] -- we finally figured out a way to do the rest of this week's El-Dubyar research without wasting time.

Faced with the task of cite checking seven cases for a memo we're drafting this week, my study group mobilized around the Shepard's carrel in the federal reading room. L. or I would call out a state citation; R. would check it in the red paperback supplement, I'd check it in the hardbound supplement, L. and A. would check the case editions, and then we'd all call out our findings and R. would record them on paper. It felt almost like a football huddle: "37 Cal App 3d 721, hut!"
"Check! Next!"

Ah, the joy of a functioning system. I apologize to everyone whom I annoyed whilst skipping through the lawbrary, gleefully yodeling "I love efficiency!" on my way to redeposit the paperback supplements at the circulation desk.

Things were definitely looking up. I found myself, on the train reading Contracts, glad to be on the train reading Contracts, appreciative that Caltrans maintains such nice clean comfortable trains. Words themselves were starting to look beautiful to me again: I lingered over "California Supreme Court Reports" for a long time -- it sounds like some kind of abstract creamy dessert, if you think about it long enough -- and even found myself meditating on the elegant simplicity of the word "law."


thus spake /jca @ 8:15 PM...


Maybe this is a problem.

Several days have passed, I've had at least one good marathon twelve-hour night's sleep, and yet I'm still all in a knot over school. I noticed last night, to my dismay, that I've nearly exhausted the bottle of grappa my grandmother gave me back in the spring. I haven't yet gone for the Xanax, but am bothered by the fact that I've started to think about doing so.

My to-do lists are spawning like rabbits. My husband, who's never had time to do any of these things, is learning the hard way that he can no longer say "So, can you take care of this?" I can't. I can no longer keep my house in order, it seems. There is so much mail on the kitchen table, and the mere thought of going through it all is exhausting. We're meeting a new tax accountant on Monday morning, and while I understand that this is a courtesy, that they're taking time out to meet us and reassure us that we're doing a good thing by choosing their firm...I just don't have time for it.

My school, not otherwise known for its wealth of extracurricular activities that aren't somehow related to the study of law, has just announced that there's an Aikido club meeting on Tuesday evenings. Free lessons in a martial art I've frequently thought it would be fun to learn...but I can't go. The lessons don't end until 7:45, which means I'd miss the 8:00 train and wouldn't get home until 10:30, which must remain my bedtime if I'm to preserve any presence of mind.

"You can't do everything," says my husband, wisely, truthfully, and unhelpfully. I guess what bothers me is how little it seems I can do these days. Reading for class is no worse than jogging on a treadmill; so long as I keep my pace up, I've got it under control. But -- as if I needed more help remembering the definitions of tortious intent or malice aforethought -- El-Dubyar is singlehandedly monopolizing my schedule, clogging my precious few free hours with insubstantial, duplicative tasks that could (and will) easily be minimized by available technology. When it was just a matter of reading, briefing, going to class and assimilating actual material, I was in control. But now I've got to account for an extra dozen hours a week in the library, engaging in tasks that are such a flagrant and gratuitous waste of my time that I come away from it feeling personally insulted.

I know it's not personal. I know that nobody in the registrar's office said "Oh, that one's a commuter, so give her the extra-awful El-Dubyar assigments so she'll never have time to come up for air." All 400+ of us in the first-year class are stuck wasting the same amount of time on the same activities, whether we commute two blocks or fifty miles. I just can't help but think that if the commute were two blocks, if I weren't spending so much time on trains and had even an extra half hour just to sit down with a cup of herbal tea and read a magazine or some blogs, life would suck a great deal less.

"It's remarkable," I griped this morning to S., "how little control I'm realizing I have over my life at this point."

"You know," she replied, "you're going to have to watch that you don't burn out on this."

"What's worse," I complain to my husband, "is that it's not even the difficult stuff that's giving me trouble."

"That's a good thing," he replied, wisely, truthfully, and unhelpfully.

I wish I could buy time, go back a few months and just carve out several blocks of hours and insert them into my current life...

thus spake /jca @ 7:39 PM...


I tend to be pretty sour-humored this time of the month, get extremely strung out on just a little too much caffeine, and have learned to loathe Thursdays in general. So on a Thursday at this time of the month, after my standard Starbucks chai latte in the morning supplemented with a double-bagged grande cup of Tazo Awake tea at lunch, any coherence or wit I might normally possess gives way to depressive panic and a semi-insatiable craving for Nine Inch Nails songs. Nasty Nine Inch Nails songs at that, along with which I'd gladly be screaming at the top of my lungs if we didn't live in such a densely-populated apartment building.

I am just not in a state right now where I should be saying things in public, particularly things that get documented in sempiternam in the Google cache even once I think I've gone back and prudently deleted them. Anything that goes live on Sua Sponte, I've learned, is a story I'll have to stick to. Virtual promissory estoppel. &c.

I am full of rants right now, many if not all of which are on issues that will likely cause me to merely shrug and laugh as early as next week. Rather than post these, I think instead I'll have a few shots of grappa and do my best to fall asleep.

thus spake /jca @ 10:09 PM...


I wound up taking a minor shortcut today on my El-Dubyar research, only semi-intentionally (or, I guess, fully intentionally in the tort sense, since I was substantially certain that I'd find what I was looking for). Several seemingly-interminable rounds of library going-at-it left me with a decent-sized stack of cases, but there invariably seemed to be one or two more that might be valuable...which meant back to the stacks, pray that someone else hasn't already pulled that volume of the California Reporter, and then it's time to loop the loop again.

Anyways, the case I found was not Californian, not federal, but actually contained in the Minnesota Reporter. At this point I had already missed two trains which I'd hoped, at one point or another, to catch; and I had had it with the goddamned fractal self-similarity of all these cases, the shelves full of identically-bound books, the lines at every photocopier, the temptation to just bail on the whole thing. So I fired up Google (Bless you, Wi-Fi!) and, in a matter of seconds, had my case reference. Thankfully, it turned out not to be relevant. Hopefully, no one will ask me how I was able to conclude this.

Then again, I wonder. We're prohibited from using Lexis and Westlaw, since they're ostensibly 100% duplicative of the book-thumbing tasks we're currently learning to perform. But what about Google and Findlaw? They seem more complementary of the process, given the amount of information you already need to know before either will be useful (as opposed to things like Witkin's or Cal.Jur, to which you can turn when you don't even know where to begin).

Honestly: if you had a California lawbrary at your disposal, and no access to Lexis or Westlaw, how would you look up a case from Minnesota while avoiding the apparent transgression of *gasp* making good use of zero-cost publicly-available technologies?

thus spake /jca @ 10:17 PM...

Last night I made the mistake of taking a non-drowsy antihistamine before going to bed, which eventually resulted in me realizing with a jolt that it was 2 am and I was surreally, hyperclearly awake. And oddly enough, all I could think about was promissory estoppel.

Never take your contracts book to bed with you unless you're prepared to face the consequences, I guess. At least I wasn't dreaming about promissory estoppel, which would have been weirder yet. (Incidentally, here's my secret for remembering the definition of promissory estoppel: "But you said you would! And if you don't, I'm screwed!" Yes, I did come up with this at 2 am; it probably shows.)

I like the word "estoppel," a mangling of Latinate and Germanic etymologies that I can very easily imagine fitting into the daily dialect back in the days of I de S et Ux. Imagine driving your donkey to market, laden under with cheeses and sheepskins, while the folks around you bandied words like "estoppel" about as they haggled. I smile at the thought, but maybe I've just been reading too much Edward Rutherfurd.

thus spake /jca @ 11:36 AM...


Sometimes you're stuck depending on the kindness of strangers.

Yesterday I bought a wireless LAN card for my laptop, which, blessedly, worked without a hassle. Either the school network is extraordinarily simple, I thought as I emailed away, or else I'm just remarkably lucky when it comes to wireless components.

Last night, my husband demonstrated that it was certainly not the latter.

We have -- or more rightly have had -- an Apple Airport powering our home wireless network for about two years now. My husband is about as big a fan of Apple products as I am, but at the time the Airport was the only wireless hub available for under $500. Hubby got the thing talking to his IBM laptop through a neat Java program, and all seemed to be well for a long time. Sometimes he'd complain of a weak signal, but we chalked it up to our mediocre ISP rather than our hardware.

Last night the weak signal was getting on my husband's nerves to the point where he decided that we needed to do a bit of component rearranging, attempting to mount the Airport on a wall in our central hallway to increase the signal into the living room. This, apparently, was more than the 'Port could stand; it quit on us, then kicked back in, then quit, then started looping-the-loop, rebooting itself every twenty seconds or so.

To shorten a very long story, my laptop didn't make it onto the wireless network last night. By the time I woke up this morning, the Airport was in pieces on my husband's desk, so presumably tonight will be no luckier.

I didn't really mind; it was more important to me to have wireless access at school than at home (where I use a desktop machine anyway). But I failed to realize, what with all the moving-around of laptops and components we'd been doing last night, that the power cable to my crusty old Sony never made it back into my pullman bookbag.

I caught the 8:17 train this morning and was unpacking my stuff in a classroom at about 10 when I realized that something was missing. I called home in a panic, and my husband confirmed that yes, my laptop power cable was still sitting blithely in the living room, doing no one any good whatsoever. "Take notes on paper," he said, "and go print your briefs off a floppy."

But of course, since bad things happen in threes, both my scratchpad and my spare floppy disk also were completely nonpresent in my bookbag.

Fortunately my section is populated with really nice, helpful, friendly people -- strangers prone to acts of kindness. Sainthoods-for-the-day go out to I., who spotted me a few pieces of notebook paper, and especially to A., who loaned me *her* laptop power cable during Civ Pro and Torts. This charged me up with enough juice to make it all the way through Contracts with five minutes of uptime remaining at the end -- and the great relief of not being stuck attempting to decrypt my chicken-scratch handwriting at the end of the day.

Alice reports that one of Garrett's professors has banned laptops in the classroom. After today's experience, I'd just as soon go to class underwater without a snorkel.

thus spake /jca @ 5:48 PM...


Fans of Randy Cassingham (a.k.a. the originator of the Get Out of Hell Free card hanging on my cork board) will appreciate the legal bent to his latest oeuvre, the Official Stella Awards for goofy litigation.

thus spake /jca @ 8:12 PM...


Ahh, so glad we live in the Bay Area.

Today was our local Art and Wine Festival, a liberally-liquored street fair taking up most of downtown. Anything involving booze, garlic fries, direct sunlight and shopping is OK in my book, and this year's shindig fit the bill as admirably as ever. I repeat: ahhhh.

Do other areas of the country have this many street fairs, or is it just us?

thus spake /jca @ 4:53 PM...

To the person who reached this site through the Google search "law school" AND "I'm scared" -- don't be!! It's only as bad as you make it.

St. Dan phoned me yesterday, alerted by his patron-saint sixth sense to my confusion over Pennoyer v. Neff. Bless his heart, he straightened it all out for me. St. Dan should really consider being a law professor. (Are you reading this, St. Dan? You really should!)

thus spake /jca @ 11:26 AM...


New WhatWord record: Level 37, with 1,930,545 points. This is the first time I've ever broken a million points on any game, and yet it's annoying that I didn't quite reach 2 million.

There's some koan there about finding satisfaction in life, but right now I think I'll trade it for a good night's rest.

thus spake /jca @ 12:01 AM...


Only three hours in the library today. 'Twas a wise suggestion indeed to do this goofy research in teams. I've now bonded with half my El-Dubyar section and we at least have distributed paper cuts. And it's awfully depressing how much legal publishing seems to be done by cartels. I've got to wonder: if copyrights on these things are so stringent, how is it that we can photocopy them so liberally? Are we somehow not violating copyright just because we're students? I can't wait for intellectual property law...

In other news, today's train reading finally brought me to the bane of every student of civil procedure, Pennoyer v. Neff. I have a feeling I'll understand this case a great deal better once I figure out what "attachment of property" means. To what is it attached? The court? How? It seems that if this one little thing had been done to Neff's property, whatever the heck it is, then the court would have had In Rem jurisdiction (right?)...but nowhere within the opinion was it explained exactly what property attachment is or how it works. Can anyone enlighten me here?

thus spake /jca @ 10:15 PM...


Today, to my horror, I've begun to understand what the "research" part of Legal Writing and Research stands for.

Background: I've been an Internet marketing consultant for the past three years. I am accustomed to clean, digital, paperless processes (and am happy to come up with one if none currently exists for the problem at hand). I am not accustomed to paging through books looking for references to other books which in turn may refer to a further round of books or back to the original books, towards no greater end than finding out which books are cited the most by the greatest number of other books. And I am absolutely appalled at the amount of paper consumed by this entire charade, from the useless photocopies -- this could all go on a screen, dammit!! with hyperlinked cross-references!! -- to the multiple double-spaced Courier-font printouts we're required to submit of everything we write.


I choke up at the number of hours I'll spend, the number of hours spent by all lawyers, digging and shuffling and grunging through oh so much paper paper paper everywhere. I'm going to have to photocopy things, and somehow find a way to carry all this paper on the train. I'm going to have to print things, which means sneaking into my husband's office on a weekend or -- oh, I can't stand it -- actually purchasing my own printer expressly for the purpose of tattooing dead trees within the confines of my own home. For shame. For shame.

"You need to learn to do this now," says our El-Dubyar instructor, "since Westlaw and Lexis are so expensive, and if you wind up working for a district attorney or a judge or some public entity, they won't necessarily have the money for it. Actually, most firms even ration the number of searches you're allowed to do on Lexis."

Can this be true???

How did this happen, that the one or two or paltry few companies who've actually made some progress towards automating this drudgery are fixing prices so as to render their services largely inaccessible? This would be so easy to fix! Courts could web-enable their archives. Current search engine technology is a more than adequate improvement over me giving myself serial paper cuts in a dingy lawbrary. Is it an issue of copyright? Or just dogs in the manger like the Wests, Witkins and Shepards of the industry who have institutionalized this inefficiency to guarantee themselves a continuing revenue stream?

I'm perfectly fine with precedent dating back to the fourteenth century. I just wish our research methods didn't.

thus spake /jca @ 11:12 PM...


Sleeeeeeepy today. I made the mistake of stretching out on the couch with my Civ Pro and promptly found myself dozing off right in the thick of pendent jurisdiction (which probably would have made even less sense if I'd managed to stay awake).

I'm fighting the apparent necessity to fortify myself more routinely and/or with something stronger than my daily Starbucks chai latte. It clearly isn't doing its job.

More news on the toys front -- today I checked out a Wi-Fi network card on loan from the Student Information Center and, to my immense surprise, managed to install it correctly on the first try. Two things have come of this: 1) I now want to rush out and acquire my own wireless LAN card, since I had to give this one back by 5 pm; and 2) I'm awfully nervous that having Internet access while in class will lead to such unfortunate excesses as interrupting my notetaking to blog.

We'll just have to see how good I am at resisting temptation, I guess.

thus spake /jca @ 7:45 PM...


New toys update:

The Ott-Lite throws this incredibly clear light. It's like white sunlight, desaturated, with the contrast settings jacked up. I read a good twenty pages of Contracts, and the only eyestrain I felt was due to the fact that I didn't have any other lights on in the room (controlled situation, na?). When I'd look up from my book, as one invariably does when reading Contracts, my eyes would have to adjust to the darkness, which confused them a little since the Ott-Lite was so bright. But with lights on in the background, the Ott is dead-on for lighting up a book. Wish I'd had it for the LSAT.

The Lyra is functioning exactly the way it's supposed to. The PC software that converts MP3's to Lyra-format MPX files, though, is being a bit temperamental. It converted half my playlist without incident, but now is petulantly refusing to touch the other half. Ah well. I've got a good three or four dozen variations on La Folia to get me through tomorrow's commute...which makes it almost worth looking forward to.

thus spake /jca @ 10:33 PM...

There's something about getting packages in the mail that is reminiscent of the holidays, even when you've ordered the stuff yourself and know exactly what to expect.

I've never been a big fan of United Parcel Service, which refuses to leave packages at one's door if one lives in an apartment building (which we do). I became even less of a fan of them last week, when for three days in a row they consistently refused to let go of my packages without my signature, ignoring the progressively angrier insistent notes I left stuck to my door. Today I finally got fed up, rushed home early from Civ Pro, peeled down the Central Expressway to the UPS warehouse in Sunnyvale, and picked the damn things up myself.

And suddenly everything's all right. I've already forgotten my annoyance with UPS. I've got new toys! The Ott-Lite floor lamp blends right in to our living room and casts a different color light than I've ever before seen from a light bulb. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, obviously; I'll report back on the actual workability of the thing after I use it tonight for my Crim and Contracts reading.

And RCA, unintentionally kindhearted folks that they are, not only sent me a functioning MP3 player -- they sent me one that's a generation ahead of the broken one I'm returning to them. No more silly parallel-port flash card readers! We are now firmly in the twenty-first century on this one. (See, kids? With $35 and enough patience, you too can have an MP3 player of your very own!)

I'm deciding how I feel about the design. It's not quite the same as the older one, which I liked; the new model is squarer and less smooth and bubbly-looking. Then again, when I picked it up and turned it on, I instantly figured out what all the buttons did, which to me is the entire point of usability. It's too easy to get suckered into the "ooh, pretty" school of thought. My new Lyra2 may not be as easy on the eyes as the original Lyra, but it works, a good thing.

Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with the included headphones. I guess I'm still old-school with respect to headphones; I usually use the ones that sit on the crown of your head. These, however, are the kind that hook over your ears and loop around the nape of your neck. I'm not sure how to set them on my ears, whether they sit on top of my long hair or underneath it, whether they're adjustable at all. I may just go back to the earbuds, which would lighten the load in my bag as well.

I've got to force myself to get my reading done before I'm allowed to play, though...there's Crim for tomorrow and the Contracts I didn't do over the weekend. I've already read most of the Crim on the train, though, at least before I fell asleep (Tuesdays and Thursdays are my wake-up-at-sunrise days; I bet I won't be getting much done on the ride home on either day).

Back to the grind...and then, figuring out how to rip my Vivaldi CDs!

thus spake /jca @ 6:59 PM...


It worked! I have successfully managed to forget about law school for two whole days. Perhaps I'm not as obsessive as I feared? Or, at least, my obsessiveness is still in its stem-cell stage and can be channeled away from school just as readily as toward it.

Or maybe I just needed a break.

It's a nifty thought, having made it through my first month of law school and still being basically in control. Granted, said month was basically a week and a half, and I did find myself awfully exhausted at the end. Still, it's a pleasant thought to have Survived A Month Of Law School, and I'll take pleasant thoughts wherever I can find them. (Got a few pleasant thoughts to spare? Send 'em my way!)

My darling spouse has come up with an excellent idea for productively making use of our designated Together Time. Inspired by a book we found during one of our regular Saturday-evening visits to Lucy's, San Francisco in a Teacup, we have now embarked on a quest to explore as many teahouses as we can find in the Bay Area. First on the list was the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park; now, this weekend, we've broadened our scope to Chinatown with the Imperial Tea Court.

Picture my husband and me -- nary a drop of Asian blood betwixt us, stumbling about Chinatown like wide-eyed tourists, being careful not to break anything. We had an excellent lunch of five-spice chicken and hot yams with broccoli at Chef Jia's, which set us back a whopping $10. Nor did the grocery stores disappoint, overflowing with all manner of exotic vegetables that piled out onto the sidewalk in stacked boxes. We saw at least a dozen different species of whole dried fish, including the shark fins used for the eponymous soup (a steal at $148.00 per pound, which may explain why we won't be seeing any on the menu at Chef Jia's anytime soon). We saw spiky melons, warty green cucumberlike things, huge ginger roots that must have come from actual ginger trees. We also saw someone throwing up on the street, but quickly looked away. "You know," I said briskly, to change the subject, "there's a torts case where a woman throws up in a men's bathroom, and that's actually relevant to the case."

OK, maybe I didn't completely forget about school this weekend. (The case is Dupler v. Seubert, from which we learn that if you're alleging false imprisonment, your arguments gain extra credence if the defendants wouldn't even let you go as far as the women's restroom to puke.)

Anyways, the tea was mindblowing. I'd never tasted Pu Erh tea before, although I had great fun repeating its name for the rest of the day. (Try it. It's pronounced just like it looks -- pooh-errrrr.) I don't normally drink very strong tea, since I'm supposed to be avoiding caffeine and my husband prefers weak tea anyway. So my first sip of Pu Erh tea, served Gong Fu style (sniff the tea leaves -- rinse them off -- sniff again -- etc.) from one of those cute little clay pots, knocked my socks off.

I'd never imagined that a mouthful of tea could taste so many different ways. It hit my palate in three or four waves of flavor, first tealike, then earthy, then smoky, then an aftertaste still in search of an adjective. "Wow," I said to my husband. "This tea goes places that I didn't know tea could go."

He wasn't sure he liked it, but warmed up to it on successive steepings (I teased him about how he liked it as it got progressively weaker). We'd pour water over the tea leaves, clock them for two minutes, pour the tea out into the decanter and into our little tinier-than-espresso-sized cups, which contained maybe two full swallows. But this wasn't a swallowing tea. You sipped it, swirled it around on your tongue, tasted it like wine. No water on the side, just a little bowl of ginger-flavored almonds to munch on. It was immersive. It was terrific. We're going back.

Eventually, that is. We've got quite a few other such places on the to-do list as well.

thus spake /jca @ 10:45 PM...


I found this infographic from CNN amusing, in an odd way:

thus spake /jca @ 9:31 AM...

more final thoughts...

sua sponte
transferring law schools
on the moblog
the short list
otherwise of note
recurring themes
fellow travelers
other blawgs