Tuesday, February 28, 2006

One Billion Downloads

In the spirit of Apple's recent momentarily newsworthy and self-aggrandizing milestone, I too will celebrate a marker passed.

Though not as cool (or profitable) as reaching a billion downloaded songs, scientists have calculated through advanced regression analysis that I will climb over 10,000 hits on Wednesday morning.

"The billionth song, 'Speed of Sound,' was purchased as part of Coldplay's 'X&Y' album by Alex Ostrovsky from West Bloomfield, Michigan. As the grand prize winner, he will receive a 20-inch iMac, 20 fifth generation iPods, and a $10,000 Music Card good for any item on the iTunes Music Store. In addition, to commemmorate this milestone, Apple will establish a scholarship to the world-renowned Julliard School in his name" -- Apple.com Press Release

That's pretty cool. But, I guess Ostrovsky should consider himself equally as blessed for not being the "lucky" winner for a George Michael or Nick Lachey transfer.

Well, in the paraphrased words of Carl Spackler, there will be no scholarships endowed in your name for reading these erratic and sporadic postings. But, I can promise total consciousness on your quest for Zen. So you'll have that going for you.

Thank you for reading. Good luck!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dear British Readers,

Thank you for showing result driven Americans that winning is not everything.

Medals are so last year.

Please welcome back your Olympic hero, Shelley Rudman. As you no doubt know, Shelley took home the Silver in Women's Skeleton; one of the most anticipated events every four years. Proving that it's not about quantity, you Brits funneled your vast sporting dollars into training for these games solely to win this particular medal - and did. I can't wait until the commemmorative DVD comes out, myself. "The Torino Games: Silver in Skeleton."

But, don't get down on yourselves, either. The Medal tracker just reflects a different set of priorities. While Estonia (3 golds), Poland (2 medals), and winter crazed Australia (2 medals) outpaced the Queen's devoted few, winning one medal at the Olympics can be quite prestigious. Consider the nations that did not even medal during this gathering in the Alps: Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran (sorry Shuli).

I guess if it's not football, don't call.

All my best,


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sixty Seconds of Posting. Starting Now.

Finally a moment to collect my thoughts - in a Property lecture. Having her out here in California has been amazing. I'm not saying that couples aren't ever supposed to fight, but the last eight months have been totally devoid of them.

I love living with her and this week is just the latest tease of what the future could and should bring. The walk up into the mountains, nice restaurants, and drinks out have been fun and all. But, I love cooking with her, being lazy with her, and laughing with her just as much.

At least I'm being honest.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Now Arriving

She's coming today - for a whole week this time. It's a good thing too. After seeing Little Brother this week, all those feelings about how hard it is to be away from home right now jump started again. I'm trying to be strong. But, it's hard to always bottle things up over here. Law school is a world full of warped priorities and false pretenses. It is too easy for seemingly normal people to get wrapped up in the race after some amorphous prize. I'm having the opposite problem, I guess.

People have been great in trying to reach out. But, it's just not in my nature to outwardly complain or lament. Every person has his or her cross to bear. At least with her, it doesn't feel like I'm imposing. She's a part of me. So, at least for the next week, I'll be closer to being whole again.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

And I Would Fly 5000 Miles

Okay. The truth is that I went to the game.

Monday., February 13
11:00 a.m., Constitutional Law

Tuesday, February 14
12:45 a.m (PST) to 6:09 a.m. (CST)- San Francisco to Minneapolis.
7:09 a.m. (CST) to 10:46 a.m. (EST) - Minneapolis to Philadelphia.

1:00 p.m., Lunch with little brother.
6:00 p.m., Dinner with little brother.
8:00 p.m., Penn v. Princeton

Wednesday, February 15
6:50 a.m. (EST) to 10:30 a.m. (PST) - Philadelphia to San Francisco.
11:00 a.m., Constitutional Law.

And yes, it was worth it. After eleven hours of sleep last night, I'm now sure of it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

No Love Lost

I think it makes sense to have two bitter rivals face off on Valentine's Day.

True, Princeton lost to a Division III school this season (Carnegie Mellon).

Double true, Princeton set the record for fewest points in a modern era game this season (21).

But, games like these still speak for themselves.

That's all I have to say about that.

Actually, I promise there will be much, much more as details are still forthcoming...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Long Island Knows Traffic, Chinese Food, & Skating

"TURIN, Italy -- When Emily Hughes got the telephone call from Italy Saturday night informing her that she was an Olympian, she and her family - including sister Sarah, the 2002 figure skating gold medalist - were just finishing dinner at Great Neck Japanese restaurant Daruma. Emily had the sushi, a dish she said was called the "Sarah Gold Roll."

Named, she said, "for someone we know..."

...She watched Friday night's Opening Ceremonies from Turin on television. "I don't think I missed out on anything," she said of getting her Olympic invitation on Day 2 of the Games. "But the Olympics had already started, and I just thought maybe I'd have another chance [in 2010]. But now my chance is here."

Like someone we know."

Isn't that precious? As much as I do think that really is the coolest story going down in Turin, I fear it will lose some charm and appeal as Bob Costas indoctrinates me with Hughes family footage and the like.

*Cue amateur video of Mom recording two daughters dancing in living room.*

I have little doubt that Costas will forge tenuous connections between the sisters, their childhood, their arguments, their boyfriends, their favorite tree to climb and Olympic greatness. All this, of course, cemented by the love and adulation of two dedicated parents.

*Cue camera shot to family. Including sister, Sarah, a nervously excited spectator in the stands now.*

With Bode choking, Apollo slipping, and Michelle wimping, please welcome the new face that NBC and her advertising affiliates pray will save their ratings.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Not Just Your Average Tornado

I've never been described as a "hectic tornado of energy" before. Until now.

I've been told that the link doesn't connect all the time, so attached below is the ESPN article in full. But, if you're a typical 'needs-instant-gratification' surfer, go ahead and scroll to the glorious bottom.

What? You didn't think I was newsworthy?

Penn's Red and Blue Crew Keeps With Tradition

PHILADELPHIA -- Captain Brian Walsh, in his dapper scarlet suit coat, keenly surveyed the red-clad army behind him. Morale was dangerously low, and something had to be done to rouse the troops.

"Let's go, Quakers!" he yelled, punctuating the cheer with a clap, clap, clap-clap-clap. The thousand-strong regiment took up the cry. "Let's go, Quakers!"

Penn fans
Drew Hallowell/Icon SMI
Penn fans at The Palestra do all they can in support of the home team.

Walsh is the leader of the Red and Blue Crew, a group of rabid supporters in matching T-shirts who cheer on the University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team and take residence in the lower west-side stands of the historic Palestra. But on this Saturday night, home cooking wasn't doing much for the home squad, as the visiting Yale Bulldogs had jumped out to an early 16-1 lead over the 23-time Ivy League champions.

"C'mon guys, get into this game," Walsh said, muttering through his teeth. "We don't lose to Yale."

Although Walsh, a Penn senior, can't suit up and play for his beloved team, he can stand just outside the game's boundary. Without broaching the invisible barrier that separates fans and players, he and his Crew did everything they could to affect the game's outcome -- hurling insults, jumping up and down, yelling in unison during shot attempts -- anything to strengthen Penn's home court advantage.

"Oh yeah, the other guys hear what we're saying," said Walsh. "I know, 'cause they're always looking back at us when they run back down the court."

Walsh's regular perch, just 3-feet behind the far sideline, is directly across from the Penn bench. While head coach Fran Dunphy had personnel problems to deal with (like players not managing a single field-goal attempt for the first seven minutes), Walsh had his own issues, like a late-arriving crowd.

"You see it's just getting packed now," said Walsh. "But there's no reason why people can't show up at 7:00, instead of at 7:15. We're trying to get full crowds by 6:30, so we can heckle the other team's warm ups."

To combat Dodger fan syndrome, the RBC is hoping to tie into one of the grandest Philadelphia basketball traditions: The cascade of colored streamers that were once thrown onto the court after a team's first basket of the contest. Streamers disappeared from The Palestra more than two decades ago, but they were allowed back on a one-game-only basis for a Penn-St. Joe's Big 5 contest, primarily in deference to the city series' 50th anniversary.

"We're not allowed to throw them on the court," said Walsh. "That was banned by the NCAA a long time ago. But one of our local sportswriters made the point that if we threw them up into the stands instead of on the court, that wouldn't delay the game. Maybe people would come early so they wouldn't miss the streamers. We're looking into that."

Things on the court were still far messier than a streamer cleanup, though Penn had begun to keep pace and cut the lead to 31-19. In response to several close calls that didn't go Penn's way, one young gent charged down the aisle, leaned out onto the court and gave the referee a double-barreled middle-finger salute.

"[Expletive] you, you [expletiving] [expletive]," he screamed, his breath heavy with drink. "You've [expletive, past tense] us, you [expletive]!"

"Sorry about that, man," Walsh said to the referee, not wanting to cost his team a technical foul or borderline calls when they really mattered, during the game's stretch run. "That guy's not with us."

Walsh's style is decidedly more low-key and calculating than that of his predecessor. J*nathan Lubin was a tornado of hectic energy known around the Penn campus as "The General," who often showed up at games wearing a business suit, California-cop aviator sunglasses and a red, white and blue headband around his closely-shorn red hair. Lubin gained some national notoriety when he won $250,000 on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," then nearly tackled Regis Philbin, screaming "Show me the money!" into the camera. You might say that Walsh is decaf to Lubin's espresso.

"My first year here we played Penn State," said Walsh. "I made a sign that said, 'You can't spell Nittany Lions without NIT.' Then I started going to organizational meetings and I helped Lubin with his duties for the past few years. It was generally understood that I'd be The General's successor. But I wasn't really picked or hand-selected. … I was involved; I stepped up, so I was next."

Walsh's duties include grooming the Red & Blue Crew's next generation of leadership. Charlie Weinberg and Jason Ginsberg are two Penn juniors who wear cheap cow suits to every game, Halloween costumes complete with ears and udders that they picked up at WalMart early in the season.

"Every time someone asks me about it, I try to make up a new story," said Ginsberg, when asked about the cow concept. "I tell people I'm really into Western bovine studies or that I'm a big proponent of the beef industry. It's real food for real people."

"These guys stepped up, just like I did," said Walsh, clasping the black-and-white shoulders of Weinberg and Ginsberg. "They're the chosen ones."

The cows' responsibility for the evening was to coordinate the rollouts, another of Philadelphia basketball's timeless practices. The feeling of being in the front row for a rollout can't be adequately described -- the 30-foot strip of paper, bearing a targeted message for the opposing team, comes surfing down atop the back rows and over your head. You hold it up for display for about 30 seconds, then shred the paper into confetti.

"You'll need a New Haven after the thrashing we give you," read one rollout, with the name of Yale's Connecticut home underlined for emphasis.

"In the past, rollouts have been painted or printed professionally," said Ginsberg. "We do ours in the fraternity basement with spray cans. I have to admit that sometimes the fumes get to us a little."

Just after halftime, once Penn had finally tied the game at 33, the university president came by to celebrate the comeback. An energetic and smiling Dr. Amy Guttman charged into the Crew's midst, slapping high-fives and trying on a paper Benjamin Franklin mask.

"How many colleges have a president who hangs out with the student section?" Walsh asked rhetorically.

"A-my Gutt-man!" the RBC fawned appreciatively, en masse. "A-my Gutt-man!"

Chants and shouts are a key element of any organized fan force, and most are used as weapons. Yale's Eric Flato went 3-of-5 from the floor in this game, but one of those two missed shots was a first-half attempt that went well clear of the rim, earning Flato a traditional "Airrrball" chant that followed him around for the rest of the game, whenever the rock came around to him.

And the Red and Blue Crew broke out the pop-culture reference dictionary to point out resemblances of a couple of diminutive Yale bench players. They were more than ready for 5-foot-8 senior captain Josh Greenberg, whose serenade was based on an early Sean Astin movie role ("Ru-dy! Ru-dy!"). Chris Andrews -- a 5-9, 160-pound specimen -- received TV-star treatment, however derisive.

"Web-ster!" was heard whenever Andrews got a touch. "Web-ster!"

But the instant democracy of a student section ensures that the constitution is always open to revision. "Ga-ry Cole-man," came the chant from fans underneath the basket. For the bulk of the second half, as Penn built a double-digit lead, the Crew effortlessly transitioned between "Ga-ry!", "Airrrball!" and "Ru-dy!" as Yale passed the ball around the perimeter on possession after failed possession.

Once the game was safely out of reach at 70-48, Dunphy reached deep into his own bench to activate Tommy McMahon, a gangly kid who'd played some in the nonconference schedule, but whose recent minutes have been reduced. The Crew immediately launched into a round of "Happy Birthday to You," eliciting a nervous smile from the freshman.

"Hey, make sure No. 34 gets some foul shots," said Walsh to the referee's back. "It's his 19th birthday today."

McMahon never did get to hit a shot or get to the line, but he was able to share in the celebration of a 74-52 Quaker win, highlighted by a monstrous 51-13 run. The young freshman will certainly get his share of future chances to step up and shine over the next three-plus years, because that's the way college goes: Seniors leave; underclassmen rise to shoulder the load.

And it works like that off the court as well.

"This has been a lot of fun," said Walsh. "But the most important part of what I do is to make sure the traditions continue, that the Crew stays strong. The cows will do a great job of running things next year when I'm gone; I'm sure of it. Then when they're finished, they'll pass it along to someone else."

The current leader pointed to an awkward redhead seven rows back, a strangely familiar young man -- one who might be predestined to lead the Red and Blue Crew into the future.

"Lubin's little brother is here," said Walsh. "He's a freshman. He's still got plenty of time to decide if he doesn't want to do this, but it's there for him if he wants it.

"All he has to do is step up."


Dad must be welling with pride over his two sons; a hectic tornado and an awkward redhead.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ramble On

When someone in your immediate family has cancer, I can assure you that out of sight is not out of mind. In fact, I think that being out of sight has pushed what ails Mom squarely into the forefront of my mind.

Sitting here, the length of the nation away from her, my thoughts circle back East like clockwork. But, everything about being out here serves as an information barrier. So, the cycle continues.

It's such a strange time for our family, but we are trying to stay positive. There really is no "beating" what Mom has at this point - though fighting it makes a hell of a lot more sense than drawing straws.

So, she's started treatment. Her experience with chemotherapy has been emotionally and physically exhausting. What I find hardest about this ordeal is the tension between being optimistic and realistic, between trying to live life as normal or changing course so as to avoid regret.

"But I know one thing I've got to do, I've got to ramble on."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Infidels and Their Drawings

We have been told that Islam is a peaceful religion. We have all heard the soundbytes that fundamentalists and radicals have corrupted a faith that praises charity, prayer, and study. That true Muslims preach religious tolerance and racial harmony.

I pray that's the case. I pray that the world's second largest religion is truly a source of uplift and redemption. But, saying something doesn't make it so.

Is it a coincidence that those seeking to frame the debate in politically correct terms are, often, American? If there is an authentic Muslim voice coming from a Muslim land condemning radical Islam as a perversion of the doctrine, I've not yet heard it. Is that because the growing fundamentalist movement is actually a legitimate reading of holy scripture?

Maybe the moderate Muslim voices in this country are the "radicals." Maybe the fundamentalists cries from the Middle East are the inevitable result of a tension between 11th century teachings and 21st century realities.

The constant outrage billowing from Muslim lands turned their hostile gaze away from the United States this week. From Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to Somalia to Iran, devout followers of Allah and Muhammad have again found a cause for which to spill blood. But, this time, it was over a cartoon published in European newspapers.

A cartoon.

Now, context is everything. I don't deny that the following drawing is offensive. It depicts Muhammad (and, by proxy, his faithful) as explosively violent.

So, it is not without irony, that thousands have taken to the streets and become explosively violent. The hypocrisy is also quite astounding. It is commonplace for Arabic news to skewer figures of Jesus and Moses in their own right. But, when the infidels desecrate the image of their prophet, it is Round 23453 of the Holy War.

If Islam were truly a peaceful religion, would the voice of reason need to come from Kofi Annan? Or, would it come from within?

Salam Aleichem.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Today was a historic day.

My brother called me for the second time since I graduated High School. To the best of my recollection, the conversation sounded something like this.

Me: Hello?
He: Ahh. Hope all is well. I should get going.
Me: O...kay, take care.

Baby steps, I guess. At least he intended to call me this time. I think. His first call, which I received in my last year of college, was inadvertently placed. Transcript provided below.

Me: Hello?
He: Who's that?
Me: What? You're the one that dialed. It's your brother.
He: Oh. Hey. I meant to call Dad.
Me: Right.
He: Sorry. Later brother.

Though, to be fair, we mostly keep in touch online. To my knowledge, he's alive at the moment and doing well; both facts not to be glossed over considering he lives in West Philadelphia and is now pledging.

NASA scientists calculate the next call to come in following the return of Halley's Comet in 2061.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Choose Your Own Caption!

Law school asks you to make changes to your life. Some are big. Others, I'm just realizing now.

I don't think that I have been more than five feet away from this computer since August. Honestly. This collection of keys and chips has been my own personal ball and chain. At least it weighs only four pounds.

So, to keep things fresh, I change the background setting fairly regularly.

This picture is currently the wallpaper.

Over the last few days, it has generated an interesting smattering of quips. My three favorite are listed below.

3. "I think you could have a found a better way to overcompensate than donning ethnic headware."

2. "So, it's settled. Opposites attract."

1. "Was that girl upset that you snuck into her picture?"

Clever, I think. Can you do any better?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dear Mama

"...When I was low you was there for me
And never left me alone because you cared for me
And I could see you comin' home after work late
You're in the kitchen tryin' to fix us a hot plate
Ya just workin with the scraps you was given'
And Mama made miracles every Thanksgivin'...
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

Pour out some liquor and I reminisce,
'cause through the drama
I can always depend on my Mama
And when it seems that I'm hopeless
You say the words that can get me back in focus
When I was sick as a little kid
To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did
And all my childhood memories
Are full of all the sweet things you did for me
And even though I act craaazy
I gotta thank the Lord that you made me
There are no words that can express how I feel
You never kept a secret, always stayed real
And I appreciate, how you raised me
And all the extra love that you gave me
I wish I could take the pain away
If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day
Everything will be alright if ya hold on
It's a struggle everyday, gotta roll on

And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated..."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Warning: Logic Ahead

This post was brought to you by today's Constitutional law lecture and the fine Supreme Court Justices that authored the classic opinions in Hammer v Dagenhart and Railway Retirement Board v Alton.

Now, watch as I flawlessly demonstrate formalistic analysis to the following excerpt taken from a headline article on ESPN.

"It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when [Bettis] leaves without that trophy," said Stevens, who said later he wasn't guaranteeing a victory but was only saying what he felt.

Assuming, for a moment, that Stevens was not guaranteeing victory. That would mean a Pittsburgh championship could still loom in the Tight End's crystal ball. Stevens, all knowing, gazes yet deeper and sees an upset Bettis departing Detroit "without that trophy." I dare say it would be an impossible result for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl and it be a "sad day" for Bettis for lack of capturing that hardware.

No victory guarantee? Reductio ad absurdum, I tell you.