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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If you're fuzzy on the whole then/than thing

Just remember:

  • Than is for comparisons
    • I am taller than you.
    • I like beans more than broccoli.

  • Then is temporal or conditional
    • Temporal: a sequence of events
      • First we went to the mall, then we got lunch.
    • Conditional: the old if...then construction
      • If you find that the defendant violated the statute, then you must find the defendant negligent.

As you can see, these similar-looking words are distinct from one another in use. All you need to remember, if you are not one who enjoys analyzing grammar, is that than is for comparisons and then is for everything else.

Does this make more sense than before? Good, then.

Monday, September 28, 2009

(Re)cycler - good for recycling and not much else

I previously reviewed Lauren McLaughlin's Cycler here on Bunsnip. To refresh your memories, that's the adolescent novel about the teenage girl, Jill, who turns into a teenage boy, Jack, during what would be a normal girl's menstrual cycle. On the plus side, she doesn't have to acquaint herself with tampons, but on the downside, well, she has to be a boy 5 days out of the month. And boys are icky. But throw in the complications that Jack is in lust with Jill's best friend, Ramie, while Jill is in love with Tommy, a boy who identifies as bisexual, while Jack is homophobic... and things get a little interesting. Altogether, I thought Cycler was a fun little vehicle for exploring gender and sexuality issues, even if it was a bit heavy on the teenspeak.

So I've been waiting with baited breath for the sequel, which I expected to be just as fun and interesting as Cycler. My copy of (Re)cycler came in the mail on Thursday, and I finished it Sunday night (along with the rest of my pertinent law school reading through Tuesday's assignments, in case you were wondering whether I've gotten off task. There are only so many wordy legalese-y cases you can read before you just need to unwind with a smutty teenage novel).

Much to my disappointment, (Re)cycler never got good. It never even got remotely interesting. There was one moment of tension between Jill and best friend Ramie where I was like, these girls should just do it and get it over with already, but then Ramie flew off to London for the rest of the novel. Homoerotic tension aside, I guess I just expected this novel to have a full-circle type of feel like the first one, with a little bit of hmm-I-never-thought-of-it-like-that thrown in for good measure, and complete with a sense of purpose once you reach the end. Instead, there were introductions of irrelevant and flat characters who didn't really add any interest value to the story, and at the end of the novel, I don't really feel like our heroine/hero have grown. I feel like things that should have been tied up are left flapping in the wind, while things I couldn't care less about have been resolved (so what?).

So, in sum, don't bother with this one. Go ahead and read Cycler if you haven't already; I still think it's good. (You can read the first three chapters for free at McLaughlin's website.) But (Re)cycler belongs nowhere but the recycling bin.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Is it ok for me to bore you to death with an example of bad writing when all you probably want to do is read your blogs in peace without getting grammatical heartburn because you are all out of Tums?

In my legal writing class, I'm learning about drafting office memoranda for the purpose of examining legal questions that may come up in practice. Here's an example of how my book recommends drafting legal questions:

"Were Arkin's defamatory statements about Dr. Hall privileged when he made them while giving an unfavorable job reference to prevent Dr. Hall from getting a job because he knew a patient had died after being operated on by Dr. Hall?" (The Little Book on Legal Writing, Dworsky, p. 122).
How's that for writing? Looks pretty good if you like run-on sentences. Glad I paid $13 for this garbage.

P.S. I've now read that example sentence several times, and still can't tell you what it's asking.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

IPSO facto

Today I attended the introductory meeting for IPSO, the Intellectual Property Student Organization at Lewis & Clark. I've been a little hesitant about spouting my interest in intellectual property because, being a humanities major, I lack the technical background most people have when they go into the field.

Ok, first, maybe some of you don't know what I mean when I say "intellectual property". IP covers non-tangible property, namely patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets. The big money item in that list is patents. Usually when you tell someone you are going into IP, they assume you are going to be doing patents.

Patent attorneys sit for two bar exams: the regular bar exam for whatever state they want to practice in, and the patent bar exam so they can prosecute patent applications with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. In order to sit for the patent bar, you have to have a background in something like engineering, chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, etc. I have a background in humanities, so unless I wanted to really be a masochist and get that technical background, I can't sit for the patent bar.

But I'm interested in IP anyway, particularly copyright. I think with the digital age, we are at the doorstep of new era in intellectual property. I can't tell you where I think IP is going, but I have some ideas, and in any case, I think it's going to be exciting. But I was worried that maybe I'm wasting my time trying to get into IP if I can't do all the areas of IP.

Then today, at the IPSO meeting, I heard from our three intellectual property professors at L&C, none of whom has a technical background. Granted, they are all academics now, so maybe that's not a good measure of what kind of IP career you can have without a technical background, but it was heartening to know there are others out there like me.

Furthermore, the patent professor emphasized that the only thing you can't do without a technical background is prosecute patents with the USPTO. You CAN, however, LITIGATE them. (In this area of law, prosecution means filing patent applications with the USPTO and trying to get those applications to issue into patents, while litigation means filing or defending suits about already issued patents in court.)

I never knew that you could be a patent litigator without a technical background, even though I worked in an IP firm for 3 years. (Of course, we only had one litigation case during those 3 years, and it was a trademark matter.)

So I came home today feeling renewed and excited that maybe I'm not chasing the purple unicorn with these aspirations for studying IP. This is further bolstered by a presentation I went to last week by an IP practitioner on Diversity in Intellectual Property. The title led me to believe that we were talking about getting more racial diversity in the IP field (since it seems like that's what diversity means now), but really the presenter wanted to emphasize that the field could use more diversity of thought. So people of non-scientific backgrounds are perhaps being welcomed into the field more than traditionally.

In any case, I'm really excited about pursuing this further. And I'm glad to know I can still deal with patents if I ever want to litigate.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today was a special day on the L&C Law campus. In honor of Constitution Day (which is technically this thursday - happy ConDay, y'all), L&C began a lecture series in honor of Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of the Supreme Court Justices of the United States. Justice Kennedy came to campus and dropped in on my contracts class, where he spoke to us for a few minutes. Then in the evening he introduced our guest speaker for the series, Dean Kathleen Sullivan of Stanford School of Law. Dean Sullivan is a leading Constitutional Law scholar, has a history of advocacy in constitutional matters in front of the Supreme Court, and, from what I've heard, was on the short list for the Justice position recently filled by Justice Sotomayor.

While I listened to Dean Sullivan speak, I was inspired by her enthusiasm for the law -- she exuded it. I can't seem to remember any of the things she said that inspired me. It was more of a feeling than an intellectual acknowledgment (some of you from back home might know this as "the spirit"). But anyway, I was filled with pride that I'm here, now, in law school. There was a lot of doubt in the process leading up to where I am now. I don't think anyone can go to law school knowing it is the right choice. It's a shot in the dark. I still don't know if it's the "right" choice, but it feels right, and I'm loving it so far. It's a little bit surreal, and I fear it will end too soon, though it's only just begun.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

The importance of sidewalks.

I'm putting off finishing my legal writing assignment which is due tomorrow in favor of writing this post. Normally writing doesn't give me much trouble, but I've always been a free form type of writer, just writing freely what comes to me, and revising afterward if necessary, but this class requires that I put a little more thought into the structure and organization of my work (not to say that free form writing can't have structure and organization, it's just usually more incidental than anything else. The content is the focus of free form, I find.) Thus, I'm having a mental block trying to conform to the formats imposed upon me.

But that's not the point of this post. What I really wanted to talk about here today is the one noticeable thing Portland is lacking: sidewalks. Sidewalks here (at least in the suburban SW, where I live) are sporadic. It is not unusual to find a section of sidewalk that stretches a few feet and then suddenly disappears for no apparent reason. In some places, there are literally two squares of sidewalk, and then nothing on either side, leaving pedestrians to fend for themselves. You wouldn't think Portland would be such a pedestrian un-friendly place, would you? But it is. There are bike lanes aplenty, which is great. I can think of exactly two streets in SLC that have bike lanes, but they are all over the place here. But what are pedestrians to do?

In the residential areas, often the only thing to do is walk in the street, and then try to get out of the way when a car comes. In busier areas, you often find yourself walking in the bike lane because there is nowhere else to walk. This is really not ideal, because I believe that pedestrians and cyclists do not belong in the same place. (Likewise with cars and cyclists, hence the benefits of the bike lane.) Too much potential for injury when you mix these classes of commuters. Sometimes, if you are lucky, there will be a margin of dirt to walk on next to the bike lane. Of course, it rains a lot here, so you can see how this is not ideal. (Actually, it really hasn't rained so much since we've been here, but I imagine in the winter it will be wetter.)

There is usually plenty of room to add a sidewalk in areas that don't have them, so I don't see why this has been so overlooked here. Ian posited that perhaps it is up to individual landowners and not the city to install sidewalks. This could be the case. If so, this is one instance in which a little Socialism could allow one to go a long way... on foot.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paragraph bitch

This is one of those posts.

One of those posts in which I bitch.

About what?

About people who create a new paragraph for every sentence in their blog posts.

Why do they do this?

Do they think it sets their words apart?

That people will pay more attention to what they say?

I, for one, find the practice terribly distracting.

Are you afraid of formatting?

Never got the discussions of paragraphs in your English classes?

Don't understand which of your thoughts go together and which are new directions?

Have you ever read a book written this way?


Ever read a book?

It's not done like this.

Not to say that your blog should read like a book.

Or that I'm the queen of paragraphs.

(Honestly, I format paragraphs more by their length than their content, so it's not like I'm perfect.)

But seriously, folks, how can this not bother you?

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

So, what you're saying is, Terrance is dead

We shared many lovely years together.
But you couldn't handle the stress of the move. I'm sorry.
Goodbye, Terrance! I will miss you.

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Portland in Photos

Mt. Hood. It's about 2 hours away from Portland by car, but you can see the huge peak from Portland. You can tell it must be big, because this photo was taken from an airplane when we hadn't really made much of a descent yet.
 Voodoo Doughnut is a legendary doughnut shop in PDX. Everybody has to go there at least once, and so we did.
 It looks as though I might be concerned about the status of my doughnut. But it came, I assure you. There is a picture of it on Ian's camera, but it is too delicious, and you might get diabetes just from looking at it, so I have not posted the picture for your own protection.
Here's a picture of Ian instead. Feast your eyes upon that handsome chap! Boy am I glad he came to Portland with me. We've done some really great things together so far.
Like visit Cannon Beach to see the Goonies Rocks.
While we were there, we also saw a poor little seal, who seemed tired of life. Chin up, little seal!
This is the Tryon Creek State Park, literally the backyard of L&C Law School. Part of my bike commute travels through paths very much like this one. It's incredible, but one must beware of the spiders.
The trees are still stunningly beautiful to me each day. I think maybe they always will be.
See what I mean? Just look at the richness of that green!
Even the bogwater in Portland is green!
But there are hints of other colors in Portland too, like these gorgeous purple blossoms in the marsh at Sellwood Wildlife Reserve. It's just a 10 minute drive across the river from us.
The thing that amazes me most about Portland is all the brilliant wilderness in the middle of such a starkly urban environment.
Take, for instance, this cold cement building living together in harmony with the trees and hills.
There are several such buildings viewable from the Sellwood Wildlife Reserve, and a few of them have brilliant murals painted on them that can be seen from a distance (if you happen to find a vantage point in Portland, which is not easy to do for all the trees).
I like all the birds on this one.
In absence of a third person, I attempted to get some candid shots of us myself. What a consternated look I have on my face. Hmm.
Ian, on the other hand, chose to take pictures of oddities, like this slightly obscenely holed tree.
I always knew my head was big, but man...
This shot reminds me of Lord of the Rings
And this shot reminds me of ER
And, finally, everyone can rest easy now, because I have been reunited with döner kebaps.
Thank you, Portland! I love you!