Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday To You

While most at Baylor Law will be celebrating the momentous occasion of the birth of fellow law student blogger W.K. this evening (myself included), there's another birthday that slipped past the radar largely unnoticed. Today, December 17, 2009, marks the 20th anniversary of the very first full broadcast of The Simpsons television show. Since then, they've produced 449 episodes and a full-length feature film. I've seen every one of them numerous times. I can't tell you what a monumental occasion this is for t.v. history. The Simpsons has been a part of my life since I was 7 years old, and I truly can't remember a time when new episodes were not being produced. Because I fear that this will be the last season of The Simpsons, I feel that it's necessary to pay tribute to the family that has brought me and millions of others so much joy and comfort throughout the years. So over the next few days (or whenever I get around to it), I'll be posting some of my favorite Simpsons moments, trivia, and clips for all to revisit and enjoy. Take a moment today to say Happy Birthday to W.K. and to the Simpson family as well. May their shenanigans live on as an indispensible part of American culture forever.

Thank you, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Marge, Santa's Little Helper, Snowball II, and especially Homer. Happy 20th Anniversary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Hottest Gifts of 2009



As the holidays draw ever closer, I thought I would take some time to help relieve the stress of buying gifts by giving you an idea of what the hottest gifts are this year. Here's what my friends and family will be getting from me:

Video Games- video games are more popular than ever, and here are some of 2009's hottest titles to look for in stores this season.
  • Grand Theft Auto(erotic asphyxiation)
  • Call of Duty 2: Jury Duty
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Congressional Subcommittee Hearing
  • Assassin's Creed 2: Assassinate Creed 
  • Wikipedia Edit Challenge 2009: Citation Needed
  • Rock Band: The Captain and Tenille Edition
Gift Cards- Sometimes, the best gift you can give someone is the gift they give themselves using money or electronic credit that you gave them. Here are some of the most popular gift cards this year.
  • Waco Taxidermy- free raccoon pelt with purchase of full body raccoon mount
  • Ace Hardware- $15 'bucket 'o drywall screws'
  • Chili's Bar and Grill- 50% off any appetizer with purchase of Chili's franchise
  • Hasting's Books, Music and Video: Buy any Jennifer Lopez movie, get a Matthew McConaughey movie free (not valid for any movie that grossed more than $10m at the box office)
  • Praco Gun & Pawn: Free rifle cleaning with purchase of gutting knife
Toys- What Christmas or Hanukkah celebration would be complete without seeing the eyes of your children light up when they see the toys that Santa has brought them? The following are some of the year's most sought-after toys for the kids.
  • My First Meth Lab- your child will be fascinated for hours while learning about chemistry, engineering, business, psychiatry, and basic legal procedure! Includes lab coat, test tubes, bunsen burners, and coffee filters. Batteries not included (but battery acid is essential if you want to use the kit properly)
  • Li'l Busboy- teach your child the value of hard work with this fun roleplaying game! Your child can't wait to put on the white t-shirt, black apron, and hair net. Bonus points for skimming tips!
  • Twilight: The Movie action figures. Characters include 2nd Assistant Gaffer, Best Boy Grip, and Assistant to the Caterer! Have fun reenacting all your favorite scenes from the behind-the-scenes footage from the movie!
  • Professor Bates Action Figure: teach Contracts and Secured Transactions with this action-packed toy that's guaranteed to be a hit with buyers and sellers alike! Contracts II exam included, BMW and Unidentified Woman sold separately.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with your holiday shopping. They're guaranteed to be a hit, and when you see the look of joy on your loved ones' faces, you can think of me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Published Author!

Well, not really. But this morning while I was Googling myself (not a euphemism), I happened to notice that the Waco Herald-Tribune, the local fish wrapper, published one of my letters recently. I never noticed because they never contacted me to verify that I had sent it, something that other newspapers who have decided to line their pages with my jeremiads in the past have done. Anyway, not only did they publish my letter, but someone actually responded to it, which they also published. I have reproduced the original letter below, along with the response, to save you from having to sift through the Trib's less-than-friendly website.

Original Letter (that I submitted, not the Trib's edited version), dated 12/14/09:
    Diane Schrader’s Nov. 7 letter asks “when are we going to stop letting people from the Middle East into our wonderful country?” This kind of ignorant attitude is typical of people who cannot separate their own personal prejudices from an isolated incident of violence. The atrocities committed by Major Hasan were not the actions of an ideology or of any ethnic group, but of one mentally disturbed and severely misguided individual. Attributing this type of incident to anything more than the violent hatred of one person is unfair to Middle Easterners and goes against the fundamental idea that persons should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. It troubles me greatly to imagine that something like this could happen here, but it troubles me almost as much to know that some will use a horrific event like this as an excuse to fan the flames of their misplaced hatred of Muslim-Americans. To Schrader’s query about when we’ll stop letting Middle Easterners into our country, I have my own question: When will people like her start leaving?
Justin Tapp, Waco
 And the response:
    The term “terrorist” has become rather narrowly defined. It is now used to describe only those who work directly for Osama bin Laden. Others who perform unspeakable acts of mass murder in the name of Allah are described as deranged. Isn’t that a bit like requiring an athlete to be on the Yankees roster before he can be called a baseball player? Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan on Nov. 12 was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in relation to the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shootings. Screaming “Allah Akbar,” he allegedly began shooting defenseless people. But, according to Justin Tapp’s Nov. 15 letter in the Sunday Focus, Hasan is not a terrorist. The poor fellow simply became unhinged. And we wonder how Hasan was allowed to slip through the cracks. Why doesn’t the Muslim community rise up in righteous indignation when one of their own becomes “deranged?”
Joe Walker, Lorena
My only contention is that I never actually said that this was not an act of terrorism or that Maj. Hasan was not a terrorist, only that the actions were not representative of any particular group or ideology, least of all the entire population of Muslims in our country. Maybe Joe Walker didn't pick up on that part, but my guess is that this argument would fall on deaf ears, as it seems like he's already made up his mind. At any rate, it's a good idea to Google yourself every so often, as you never know what you'll find.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'Tis the season to be terrified..

America is the greatest country on the planet. We are a veritable melting pot of people, taking the best and coolest traditions from around the world and assembling them into a badass Voltron of culture (see generally, e.g., IHOP, Arnold Schwartzenegger, St. Patrick's Day, Mario Bros., Epcot Center, Chinese buffets, et al.).  Recently, however, I've become a little disappointed with the way we're shaping up. Americans as a whole seem to have an unwarranted sense of entitlement, and this is especially evident at Christmastime, where our awesome culture descends into a messy jumble of consumerism and self-indulgence, couched in the "spirit of giving." Fortunately, I've become aware of a European tradition that could hold the answer to our country's dilemma of desire, and that is the Krampus. According to Wikipedia, Krampus is described as follows:

Krampus is a mythical creature who accompanies Saint Nicholas in various regions of the world during the Christmas season. . . . While Saint Nicholas gives gifts to good children, the Krampus warns and punishes bad children. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December . . . and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.


I think this could really catch on in America.  I've always been of the opinion that sticks ultimately work better than carrots, and I think American children are on a dangerous path of being spoiled even more than my generation was (and believe me, we were spoiled). Imagine the terror a young child would feel if you told them that Krampus would eat them if they didn't behave. Forget getting a new Wii; I guarantee you your kids will behave if you convince them that this horrible monstrosity will descend upon them if they are naughty. The next generation has very few things to fear, other than abstract concepts like Al-Qaeda and juvenile diabetes, so I think that now would be a good time to bring back some good old-fashioned terror into the Christmas season. Let's all remember the reason for the season: acting good out of fear that a Germanic demon from Hell will devour you in your sleep. God bless us, every one.




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My First Book

As part of my ongoing series of self-effacing humor, I thought I would bring you some more of my work from when I was a young child (because I know you're all dying to see shitty drawings that I did in first grade). Most of you probably don't know that in first grade, I was an aspiring novelist. I wrote a short book, an existentialist self-examination into the workaday habits that drive the human spirit. I now present it to you in its entirety, with annotated commentary to help you understand the inner workings of the boy who would become Justin T. It's called "What I Do Every Day," or as I like to refer to it, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." (nobody steal that title btw) Enjoy:



Despite my publisher's admonitions, I felt that the mohawk giraffe-dragon with a guitar was a fitting piece for the back cover of my magnum opus. Let's begin..



Like most young children, I started the day by brushing my teeth. I also drew pictures, presumably while looking directly down at the desk with a spotlight in my ear.



I also enjoyed watching television, which in our house was actually a coin-operated laundry machine, as you can see from my drawing. Also apparently I didn't become an ace at spelling until 3rd grade. Shcool? Really? Embarrassing.


Like many of the great literary minds of our time, I read a book every day, apparently in a room with a fan. Also, you're probably wondering why "Christmas" is misspelled. It's not. We actually celebrated Chistmas, which is a completely different holiday where you decorate your tree like Pablo Picasso.


"Shaking the presnts [sic]" is not a euphemism for anything, though my ambiguous pseudo-knees and inappropriately wide smile might suggest otherwise. I honestly have no idea what's going on in the next page. Apparently I said "55," and there's inexplicably a man, a tornado and a car at the bottom of the page. Also it appears that I am talking to a light fixture, or am about to get curb-stomped by a giant foot. Childhood was a weird time for me.


Fearing my skin wasn't as bronze as it could be, I was forced to sleep in a tanning bed at night. Also, I ate alone in a diner every day at lunch, contemplating the meaning of life. I told you this was some existential shit, folks.


 Flouting conventional manners, I ate my supper with a hat on. Take that, social grace! Also, it's a little known fact that I turn into Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King when placed in a bubble bath.


Even in the 1980s, I was gaming before gaming was cool, and apparently playing World 2-1 of the original Super Mario Bros. game for NES. I also thought that a little abstract art wouldn't hurt the book, and that my age should be written in Chinese.


In first grade, I didn't yet know how to write in cursive, but I knew there were some connectors so I just decided to improvise. (Side note: this is still how I write in cursive to this day.)

As you can see (hopefully), my writing has improved drastically since my early work, but it's clear that even as a child I showed prodigious promise as an author. The autographed first edition hard copy is available for sale; inquire for price.


Monday, December 7, 2009

For Your Amusement

While visiting my parents over Thanksgiving, they turned me on to this little gem from my childhood: my 3rd grade report card. I don't think it needs much explanation, other than the 5 absences I had during the spring semester- I had surgery and apparently didn't turn in all my makeup work (still got an A, suckers!). Also, apparently I was a badass at spelling and having necessary materials when needed.



"Needs improvement" my ass.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Should Dr. Laura Be Prosecuted?

From time to time, I find myself driving around town between 3pm and 5pm, which is when Dr. Laura Schlessinger's radio show airs. I generally detest Dr. Laura. I think she's rude, arrogant, she doesn't listen to people when they talk (something that, in my opinion, is pretty important for a therapist), and she's deceptive. By that I mean, she calls herself Dr. Laura, which is in and of itself not deceptive, except that she holds herself out as a therapist when her Ph.D. is in something like exercise physiology. Apparently you don't have to be good or even a real therapist to be a radio therapist, but I digress. The other day I was listening to her show and someone called in to talk about the fact that their cousin was molested by a family member at around age 12 and is around 16 or 17 now. The person was asking for advice on how to confront the family member about it, and how to proceed. Dr. Laura's response was to tell the caller that they needed to contact the authorities (true) because "once she turns 18 you can't press charges." Now, aside from being objectively wrong (the statute of limitations on sexual assault varies from state to state but there usually isn't anything prohibiting prosecution once the victim hits the age of majority; at any rate the statute of limitations isn't in danger of running out after 6 years in most places), I would argue that this constitutes legal advice. If someone comes to me with a legal problem (say, a crime has been committed against them) and I tell them "here are the legal steps you need to take to resolve this issue," I am practicing law. Does Dr. Laura have a law license? Is she authorized to give legal advice in any jurisdiction? No. I don't see why I'm prohibited by law from doing this as a law student, yet she can do it on a nationally syndicated radio show and no one says anything about it. Now of course the defense to this is that she's not holding herself out as a lawyer, but I still think there's a pretty strong case since she is holding herself out as a professional giver of advice. I'm sure the State of Texas would have something to say if I started giving medical advice to my legal clients, even if I didn't hold myself out explicitly as a physician (side note: since I'm getting a Juris Doctorate, can I call myself "Dr. Justin" and give out medical advice on a radio show even though my degree is in a totally unrelated field?) I say Dr. Laura should be charged with practicing law without a license and tried in a court of law. Let's hold her to the same ridiculously judgmental standards to which she holds everyone else.


I'm Dr. Laura, and I'm my kids' mom an awful, shrill human being.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reader Questions Pt. 1

In this installment, which I hope will become a regular feature, I will answer questions from the readers of this blog, so the three of you start thinking of questions to ask me that I can answer. Today's question comes from fellow blogger Micah over at Micah-Circuitry, who asks "Justin T., being a self-professed zombie enthusiast, why haven't you yet reviewed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the seminal mashup that combines Jane Austen's 1813 literary masterpiece with scenes of violent zombie mayhem?" (paraphrased)

Well Micah, here's why. Back in high school, I took an English class with a super cool teacher who had us read all sorts of modern and classic literature. Among these was Pride and Prejudice. I got about 40 pages into it and I just. couldn't. do it. It was soooo boring and tedious. I couldn't make myself care about the inner workings of 19th century English high society, no matter how hard I tried. So, I went to my English teacher with my concerns, telling her that I was probably going to fail the test because I just wouldn't read it and it wasn't worth my time (keep in mind that I was an all-knowing high schooler at the time). She took pity on me, and we worked out a deal wherein I would read 3 Kurt Vonnegut novels in exchange for not having to read Pride and Prejudice. To this day, it remains one of the coolest things a teacher has ever done for me, and I greatly appreciated it. So what does that have to do with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well, I wouldn't read it back then because it was mind-numbing, but it also didn't contain scenes of violent zombie mayhem throughout the book, as I'm quite sure Jane Austen was not well-versed in the endless battle for global domination against the hordes of the undead.

So here's the deal. I am older, (ostensibly) wiser, and can read a lot faster than I could in high school (thank you law school). And I'm willing to give it another shot, because what kind of zombie enthusiast would I be if I didn't embrace all aspects of the zombie canon? Plus there's a chance that that rascal Mr. Darcy could get eaten, which would certainly liven things up. So, I'm going to borrow the book, probably from Jesse and Diana over at The Davis Firm (oh, fyi guys, I am going to ask to borrow your book) and read it over the Christmas break, when I have a little more free time than I do now. I'll report back with a review once I finish it. And who knows, maybe violent zombie killing will awaken a passion for Victorian Georgian culture within me that has lain dormant all these years. It's ironic how only the undead could bring life to this book for me. Or maybe it's just coincidental, I don't know, but either way I'm going to read it.




Tune in next time for Reader Questions, and if you have any questions you'd like answered, feel free to drop me a line.

This Week's Awful Pop Music

Driving to Houston and back every other weekend gives me a lot of time to listen to the radio. Except for the period that I usually turn it off while I pass through Bryan/College Station (because honestly, we all know nothing good comes out of those towns, including music), I generally get a good 6 hours of music every other week, most of that coming from the radio. Yesterday, I heard 3 songs in a row that inspired me to write another blog about awful pop music. So, I present to you the 3 songs this week that make me envy the deaf:

Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga seems to be a regular feature on the bad pop music radar, mostly because her music is terrible. This song, however, is her worst yet (that I've heard). In addition to the insanely annoying nonsense words at the beginning of the song, it's a generally unintelligible mess of predictable rhythms, mindless lyrics, and of course a ridiculous video that has nothing to do with the song. In the great American musical tradition, I expect it to hit number one.



Sweet Dreams by Beyonce

Beyonce is kind of like the "golden boy" of bad pop music. Starting with Destiny's Child, she's been pumping out sub-par generic pop crap since the late 90s. Somehow, she's managed to make it to the top and stay there, despite the fact that her music is not good. I'm not saying it's not catchy or that she's not talented, but rather that the music she puts out is continually uninspired and derivative. In the latest installment of trite pop sap, she ponders whether or not the dream she's living is a "sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare." I've got news for you, Beyonce: you're obscenely rich, naturally gifted with looks and talent, and have the American public at your fingertips. If you can't decide whether that's a sweet dream or a nightmare, you should be thankful that you were gifted with looks and talent, since brains clearly isn't your strong suit. Keep trying, Beyonce; eventually you'll figure out whether or not your life of luxury is a sweet dream or a nightmare. (side note: this is not the official video for the song, I just didn't want to sift through youtube to find a version that could be embedded.)




Sweet dream or beautiful nightmare? Don't ask Beyonce; she has trouble with these things.


Tik Tok by Ke$ha

This song is like the musical equivalent of aggravated assault. I couldn't even finish it without turning it off and lamenting the state of American culture as we know it. The fact that this was ever produced- let alone listened to and enjoyed- is a sad commentary on our society. I don't even need to go into why this song is bad; listen to about 10 seconds of it and you'll see for yourself. Also, anyone who spells their name with a dollar sign is an idiot, no exceptions.



I want to cry for humanity.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Favorite Zombie Weapons, Pt. 1

A fellow law student and blog reader asked me today what my favorite zombie kill in Zombieland was. It took me a while to think about it (banjo, ultimately), but really, I had to think about the weapons used. It got me thinking about my own zombie defense strategy; specifically, what weapons I have and would like to have when the zombified crap hits the fan. So, here are a few of my favorite weapons with the explanations accompanying.

Tactical Shotgun



Cost: $400-$1200
20 Gauge
Pros: The tactical shotgun is great for close- to medium-distance encounters. Its strong blast does the trick, and its compactness and engineering make it lightweight and ideal for a primary weapon.
Cons: The shells can be heavy and take time to reload, and distance factors highly into efficacy.

Hatchet



Cost: $20-$35 for a quality non-wooden handled model
Pros: In addition to being light and powerful as both a sharp cutting and blunt force weapon, the ax also boasts the added functionality of serving as a hammer and even prybar as you travel or hole up somewhere. You will never regret having a hatchet around when society breaks down and you're forced to face all of humanity with only what you can carry on your back.
Cons: A wooden ax handle would be more prone to breaking or rotting, so these should be avoided. Full-tang metal handles or hard plastic handles are preferable. Also carry a small whetstone to keep it sharp.

Glock 23 .40 S&W Caliber Pistol


Cost: $450-$600, used or new
Pros: The Glock 23 is a great pistol known for its durability and accuracy. Seriously, it is almost impossible to damage this gun to the point of not firing. I've seen shows where they drop it off a 4 story building, batter-dip and fry it, freeze it in ice for two weeks, and run over it with a car. The Austrians know how to engineer a pistol, and when every shot could save your life, you need to be confident that your gun will fire every time you pull the trigger. Additionally, the .40 S&W caliber allows more power than a 9mm and less weight and size than a .45 . It is a sharp, reliable weapon that you will love having in your arsenal.
Cons: Some people don't like the trigger safety on the Glock, but in a post-apocalyptic situation, having a trigger safety is a huge advantage over a thumb safety. Other than that, I can't really think of any downsides to including this gun in your zombie defense plans.


Rocket-Propelled Chainsaw



Do I really need to explain this one? It's a freaking rocket-propelled chainsaw. Come on.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Google Gets Legal

Google just got a lot more awesome. Yesterday, they announced that they will now be offering access to state and federal caselaw through their Google Scholar service. While not as comprehensive as Lexis or Westlaw (e.g., Google Scholar doesn't have the cases in the Federal Appendix), it's certainly a great starting point for doing any basic legal research. Additionally, this reduces the cost for solo and small firms to access basic case documents. It currently costs around $9 per document to access things on Lexis if you're not on a flat rate plan, so being able to pull even 10 cases a day for free will save you $100 a day. I can't stress enough how big this is. Lexis and Westlaw have such a stranglehold on caselaw databases as it is, and finding the cases in the printed reporters involves finding a copy of said reporters and actually going there and looking them up, something that not all solo or small firms are able to do. Providing this kind of access opens up a whole new realm of legal research for the little guys, including the public, and this is good. Access to information is always a positive thing, and I applaud Google for continuing to make contributions to the general public's ability to access information.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review #1: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

I have been waiting anxiously for the last couple of months since I found out that Nintendo was releasing a new Mario game for the Wii. I have always been a fan of the Mario games and the trailers for the game (see below) were really cool and made the game look super fun. So this morning, the gf and I picked it up at Walmart and spent the better part of the day playing it.



So what do I think? So far, the game is incredible. We played multiplayer, which is a new feature that hasn't been available for previous Mario sidescrollers. The gameplay is a throwback to the older Mario games, combining elements from all 3 originals, as well as Super Mario World for the SNES and the Mario games for the DS. The multiplayer was really well done as well, allowing players to cooperate, play independently, and even harm each other if you can't stay out of the way. The multiplayer sort of reminded me of Super Smash Bros. Melee, which was also a great game even though I suck at it. We only played through 3 levels, but I was really impressed with everything I saw and the game remains very challenging and even downright difficult in parts despite the appearance of being easy at first glance. I can't wait to play the rest of the game, on multiplayer and single player modes, and I will report back with more comments when I get a chance to play more over Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NH Trip is a Go.

So I am spending the latter half of Christmas break in NJ/NYC with the gf and her dad. As part of my trip, we are going to take a day trip up to NH to see where I used to live and to check it out as a potential place to move after graduation. I booked our hotel room yesterday using some sort of bonus point system through my credit card, meaning I paid $0 for the hotel. We're staying a night in Bedford, NH on 12/28/09, and I am super excited about being back in NH for a little while. Just in case anyone was wondering.

The Definitive Law Student Guide to Waco

So I've decided to try and compile a guidebook of sorts for incoming law students that could be passed around in the same manner as first-year outlines. In it, I'd like to include information about places to eat, shop, live, hang out, buy stuff, be outdoors, drink, etc. What else should I include? I consider myself somewhat of an amateur expert on the city of Waco, and I feel like I could make a valuable contribution to the future law school community by providing my information to others, but I'd like to get your thoughts on it: what should a guide to Waco be sure to include?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Take heed, restaurant staffers

Rarely do I repost anything verbatim without adding my own take on it, but I found this list on the New York Times website, and instead of linking you to it and making you do the work, I'll just repost it here, since I think it's a great list and I agree with pretty much everything on here.

100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Do, pt. 1

1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.

2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.

3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.

4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.

5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.

6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.

9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.

10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.

11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.

12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.

13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.

14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.

15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”

16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.

17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.

20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.

21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.

22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.

23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.

24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.

26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.

27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.

28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.

29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.

30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.

31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.

34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.

35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.

36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.

37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.

38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”

39. Do not call a woman “lady.”

40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.

41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.

43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.

44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.

45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.

46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.

47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.

48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.

49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.

50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.


Waco area restaurant staff especially take notice of numbers 8, 32, and 43/44.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Zombieland: A Review



This weekend, to blow off steam from my Admin Law final, I decided to go see Zombieland again with the gf and the Davises. Needless to say, it was even better the second time around. I noticed a lot more stuff this time around, and with that in mind, here is my review of Zombieland from a self-proclaimed zombie enthusiast.

You can guess what's about to happen here.


Plot: The plot of Zombieland is simple enough, as it follows the standard formula for zombie mayhem: a group of individuals has banded together, for better or for worse, and are making their way across the country heading to Pacific Playland, a theme park near LA that's rumored to be zombie-free. Each person has their own agenda; Columbus, the movie's main character, is seeking his parents out; the girls are seeking Pacific Playland, and Woody Harrelson, or "Tallahassee," is seeking a Twinkie. Aside from a few minor plot holes, the story was really solid and easy to follow. The rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse were excellently done and obviously well thought out, and a few of them have made it into my own personal survival strategy. The slow-motion scenes at the beginning do a really good job of portraying the reality of what a zombie apocalypse would actually look like, showing the total breakdown in society and portraying zombies not only as the scary angry guy down the block, but everyday people including blushing brides, firefighters, strippers, politicians, and even little girls dressed up as princesses at a birthday party. The story itself doesn't change much from the traditional zombie canon, but it definitely makes for a worthwhile hour and a half as the characters battle the undead in bathrooms, grocery stores, an Indian casino gift shop, and of course, a theme park.

Casting: The casting of this movie is great. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job as Columbus (the characters go by the names of cities so as not to get too familiar in case the worst happens). A poor man's George Michael Bluth, Eisenberg does a great job of balancing the fine line between nerdiness, gumption, terror, intuition, and bravery. It's nice to see a character in a zombie movie that's not a complete stereotype, and Eisenberg is really enjoyable in his breakthrough role. Perhaps the best character, though, is Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson in a role that seems written specifically for him. A zombie-hating, Dale Earnhardt-loving, ass-kicking redneck with a snakeskin jacket and a shit-eating grin, Harrelson steals the show time and time again as he hunts zombies and twinkies with equal ferocity. Add in perhaps one of the best celebrity cameos of all time (I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet), and the casting of this movie couldn't have been more perfect.

Gore: Let's face it- zombie movies are violent and gory, and this one doesn't disappoint. While we're spared for the most part the more visceral flesh-eating scenes (except for a couple), the movie nevertheless delivers tons of great zombie kills, doing the living dead in with weapons including hammers, banjos, cars, guns, baseball bats, chainsaws, and even a piano. A great zombie movie isn't complete without a few great zombie kills, and this movie has them in spades.

Zombies: the zombies in this movie are the more modern fast-moving viral zombies, casting off the constraints of the traditional lumbering George Romero undead. I used to prefer the old-fashioned slow-moving style of zombies, but in the last few years I've really come around to prefer the fast moving ones for a few reasons: first, the action is a lot more intense when the zombies are able to sprint. Second, it's a little more believable (relatively speaking) to have zombies that are actually live virus-ridden humans, as opposed to reanimated corpses of the undead. This also makes them easier to kill, as an undead zombie can only be killed by destroying the brain, whereas an undead human can be killed by any number of creative and entertaining means.

Overall, the movie was excellent for both the die-hard zombie film enthusiast and the casual moviegoer who likes action and violence. It's rated R for obvious reasons, and I wouldn't recommend taking your kids to see it if you have qualms about violence or profanity, although there is less of the latter than the former. Even still, I loved this movie and have seen it several times already, and I foresee many more viewings in the future. See the movie if you haven't seen it already. Thumbs way up.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pros and Cons

Pros: Going for the head, proactive recognition of zombie scourge

Cons: Not killing on the first shot, intoxication, not actually a zombie.


Sunday, October 25, 2009
Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa City police are investigating an early morning assault in which a man accused another of being a zombie, then punched him twice.

Police say the assault occurred at 1:17 a.m. Sunday at an Iowa City restaurant south of the University of Iowa campus.

A man was ordering food when he was approached by another man who called him a zombie, then hit him in the eye. When the victim tried to call police on his cell phone, the man punched him again, breaking his nose.

The man then ran out a back door.

The victim was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ever Dream This Man?




So recently I stumbled across a website with an interesting subject. Apparently a psychiatric patient drew a picture of a man who kept appearing in her dreams, and a few days later another patient recognized the picture as the man who kept appearing in her dreams as well. Soon enough, psychiatric patients all over the world began recognizing the portrait as the same man that has been recurring in their dreams. No one knows who it is and no one has ever met him in real life, yet he supposedly occupies the dreams of thousands of people.

Now, I'm not one to go for crazy conspiracy theories, and I'm certainly not one to blindly believe everything I read on the internet, but something about this just creeps me out on a fundamental level. Even if it's not true, the picture and backstory combined make it a pretty creepy hoax. If it is true, well, that's just terrifying. I'm not sure what would happen if I ever saw this man in my dreams, but I can't imagine it ending with anything less than a violent showdown. (EDIT: it appears that it's part of some viral marketing campaign. Still not any less creepy.)

You can read more about this phenomenon at the original website.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zombie Invasion: Waco

So I saw Zombieland this weekend (review coming soon (hint: thumbs way up)). With that in mind, I decided to repost my zombie map of Waco for those who have tuned in since I first started this blog a year ago. I haven't updated it since then, so I should go back and do that soon since a few things have changed (and those changes could be crucial, depending on the situation). So, here is my guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse in Waco, Texas, USA:


View Zombie Invasion: Waco in a larger map

Monday, October 19, 2009

Strange Visitor

I've had some pretty strange houseguests during my time here in Waco, but yesterday was a first for me. I opened the balcony window to let some air in, and after a couple of minutes, this little guy had crawled into my apartment from the balcony. Which is, of course, surrounded by a city block's worth of concrete and at least a quarter mile from a body of water. Behold, my not-yet-teenage-mutant-ninja friend:





Where did this thing come from? What's its story? How did it make it all the way into my abode after only a few short days of life? I want to know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This Week's Awful Pop Songs

So in order to mix things up a little bit, I'm trying to start a new feature on this blog where I discuss the horrible pop songs that I've heard recently. I admit that listening to top 40 radio is sort of a car-crash guilty pleasure of mine-- kind of like a car crash, you know it's horrible and awful but you just can't look away. So is my view on top 40 radio. With that in mind, here are the awful pop songs for this week:


1. "Fireflies" by Owl City


This song might be the most insipid tune I've ever heard. I can't even listen to the lyrics without cringing. "I get a thousand hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs"?!? Seriously? It seems to me like this guy should be getting a thousand hugs from 10,000 grizzly bears. That might make for a more interesting song.



2. Paparazzi- Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is back on the scene, months after her ill-fated song about a poker face, where she revealed her blatant lack of knowledge on the difference between poker, roulette, blackjack, and other games of chance. Now, she's singing about how she's going to "chase you down until you love me." See, this is what's wrong with Hollywood. If I wrote a song to Lady Gaga about how I was going to relentlessly pursue her until she caved in to my desires, I'd probably be slapped with a restraining order. Lady Gaga does it and it hits the Billboard charts. It's almost as creepy as the Enrique Iglesias song a few years ago where he told us that "you can run you can hide but you can't escape my love." Maybe he and Lady Gaga will start dating and end up killing each other in a fit of crazed passion.



3. Party in the USA- Miley Cyrus

This song sounds like what I imagine to be the product of a bunch of middle-aged white guys in suits sitting around a conference room trying to decide what teenagers respond to these days. It feels so incredibly manufactured that I'm not even sure I can chastise Miley Cyrus for putting it out. I mean, if a bunch of suits handed me an insipid pop song and said "we'll give you millions of dollars to put your name on this," I'm not entirely certain I would say no either. Besides, this sort of bubblegum pap will be that much more enjoyable to look back on when Miley Cyrus begins her inevitable Britney Spears-like crash and burn.



EDIT: Ok, I just watched the video that I posted to go with the Miley Cyrus song. Holy crap, does anyone else have a problem with the oversexualization of a 16 year old? I mean, she's singing about dancing in a taxi cab and it's like watching a bachelor party. I have a real problem with this.


If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bleach my brain to try and wash this stuff out. Tune in next week for more awful pop music!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Meat Market is a Dangerous Place

So, the title of this post is a two-pronged observation on both the state of the dating scene in Western culture and the prevalence of disgusting disease in the beef industry. I recently read two articles on the New York Times website that didn't appear to be interrelated at first, but upon further inspection I realized that they actually encompass the same subject. So let's look at the articles.

The Dating Game, Ivied and Pedigreed

This article describes a new trend that's apparently cropping up in the urban centers of our nation. It's a business/personal networking group aimed at the "Ivy Plus" crowd- people that went to Ivy League colleges, as well as lesser schools with top programs in certain fields, such as law and medicine. According to the founder of the group(s), it's a great way to meet people with similar interests as you.
“You can say: ‘Hi James, you went to Harvard? My brother went there.’ Or, ‘You went to Dartmouth? I remember when we used to sail there and the awesome Dartmouth regatta parties.’"

I remember the awesome regatta parties we had at the University of North Texas. Man, we partied like crazy at those regatta parties. We'd put on our blue blazers with gold buttons, white canvas shoes, khaki pants, and get all kinds of rowdy as we talked about what kind of knots best secure a line to an anchor or what cast member of Gilligan's Island we were most like. Ok, not really. It seems to me that this is a great way of pointing out to other people that you spent a lot of money at a college without actually proving that it made you any more interesting or intelligent. In reality, I've known some brilliant people to come out of Ivy League schools, and I've known some real turds as well. I guess what I'm getting at is that pedigree doesn't really mean much to me and it's hard for me to understand why it's important to other people, but I guess that doesn't really matter.
“If you wanted to describe these schools, these are all highly selective, academically rigorous institutions,” she said, although social reputations also come into play. “The Duke people are so much fun. There’s just some schools you want to make sure you include.”


Duke has around 14,000 students. It's strange to me that one can make a generalization so broad based on something as arbitrary as an academic institution. I guess I still have a lot to learn about the culture of class. In the meantime, enjoy reminiscing about the time those guys from Dartmouth vomited in the coat check room at that regatta blast back in 2007.

The second article I read, which was much less mysterious to me, was about the state of safety in the American meat industry. According to this piece, basically it's terrifying.

E. Coli Path Shows Flaws in Meat Inspection

According to this article, which revealed a number of interesting things, there are serious issues in the meat industry with quality control. Ground beef is a gamble, simply put. Because not every company tests its meat products for E. Coli, it's hard to determine whether or not a frozen beef patty (which can contain cow parts from as many as 1000 different cows and several countries) is safe to eat. Surprisingly, Costco seems to be one of the only major distributors of meat that actually checks its meat for e. coli prior to grinding. I also found it interesting to discover that Cargill is America's largest private company.

Many big slaughterhouses will sell only to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli, according to officials at two large grinding companies. Slaughterhouses fear that one grinder’s discovery of E. coli will set off a recall of ingredients they sold to others.


Uh, yeah. That kind of thing should set off a recall. That's the purpose of a recall- to take defective and dangerous products off the market. Somehow I just can't get behind the sentiment expressed by the big slaughterhouses that a little e. coli isn't anything to raise a fuss about. So the moral of the story is, eat ground beef at your own risk.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Zombies vs. Vampires

So lately, it seems like vampires are all the rage. With the Twilight saga, the story about a group of high school vampires who do each other's makeup and turn glittery when exposed to sunlight, the world has been looking on vampires with a new light, one that's filled with adoration, intrigue, and affection rather than fear, respect and distrust. From Trueblood to The Vampire Chronicles, vampires are the new "it" subpopulation, so it's time to clear up a few things, namely about the ranking of vampires in relation to zombies. So let me make this clear:

Zombies > Vampires. Always.

Let's talk about why this is an indisputable fact of nature.

First, zombies are ruthless. Zombies relentlessly pursue their prey. They don't stop for pesky things like falling in love or severed limbs or being dead. Zombies only want one thing: living brains. They aren't worried about secret societies, power struggles, love, betrayal, redemption, or anything else that plagues the world of vampires. A zombie never feels bad about biting someone he's in love with, because that's not an option for a zombie. This makes them a superior predator in all regards.

When has this ever happened? Never.


Second, zombies don't yearn for adoration. Most of the vampire literature in existence focuses on their struggle between embracing their vampiric instincts and coexisting or gaining acceptance in a human world where they're feared and hated. Zombies don't have to worry about this. Why? Because they don't care whether or not they're accepted. Zombies have no desire to be loved, admired, adored, or respected by their human counterparts. Really all they care about is delicious brains. So while vampires are busy brooding about how to fall in love and how to cope with the loss that comes with immortality, zombies are gnawing through skulls and getting shot by the Marines. Zombies 1, Vampires 0.

To a vampire, group therapy represents an opportunity for growth and acceptance. To a zombie, it represents a buffet.


Finally, zombies aren't immortal. While this sounds like it might come up as a plus for vampires, really it works against them. Think about it: vampires are immortal, meaning that they will be around, whining and being pale, for an indefinite period of time (barring something awesome like Blade getting out of tax prison and going back to wrecking shop on them). Zombies, on the other hand, represent the immediacy of the world we live in, as they pose an immediate threat to the human population. They are ruthless, diligent, and best of all, they can be dealt with. A zombie apocalypse has an end in sight, either when all the zombies have been dispatched or when the entire human population has succumbed to zombification. Either way, it's not an open-ended scourge, unlike vampires. So in a hundred years, we're still going to have to deal with vampires writing bad poetry and brooding and wearing stupid clothes, whereas zombies will have come and gone without subjecting us to their emotional vulnerability. I look forward to the day when zombies discover they can feast on vampires, killing two birds with one stone.

In conclusion, zombies have always been and will always be the superior undead scourge, and it's time they regain their terror-inducing prominence amidst a growing obsession with pretty-boy teenagers who wear body glitter.


Rob Pattinson vs. Rob Zombie: Who do you fear? Exactly.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Career Options Pt. 2

So in my continued quest for eventual gainful employment, I've been exploring my career options, including a few that I mentioned in my last post. Here are some more jobs I've been considering. Feel free to add any input or insight that might be helpful in my search.

5. Outlaw/Renegade- this seems like a pretty sweet gig. Riding around on a motorcycle, blasting across the alkali flats, eating at truck stops and drinking at sleazy dive bars, wearing brass knuckles, and just generally being a hard-ass. Unfortunately it appears that this job doesn't pay that well, although since it's technically self-employment, you don't have to worry about getting hired in this tough economy.
  • Pros- lawlessness, flowing locks, flexible scheduling, skull-cracking, curb-stomping, having a theme song
  • Cons- lack of regular hygiene, comparisons to Lorenzo Lamas, dealing with 4-wheeled drivers, Johnny Law




6. Celebutante/Socialite- along the same lines as the renegade, there seems to be a burgeoning market for jobs that don't actually have any work product or responsibilities. Although I wasn't born into a famous or extraordinarily wealthy family, I think I could pull off shopping, eating in nice restaurants, and carrying around various dogs for a living. Especially if they'll let me do my celebutante shopping at Cabela's. However, I might run into trouble being seen as legitimate, since I know nothing about fashion, celebrity gossip, and the only non-political celebrity I've ever met was Jimmy Houston. I think I'll keep this one near the bottom of the roster but its' not out entirely just yet.
  • Pros- flexible schedule, work from home, self-supervision, fame, money
  • Cons- paparazzi, no health plan, am a dude

She got paid more for this picture than I've earned in my entire life.

7. Ultimate Fighting Champion- While I'm not sure repeated kicks to the face is something my guidance counselor ever suggested (I wasn't paying attention too closely or I wouldn't be in this position), it's certainly crossed my mind, particularly on days when being repeatedly pummeled seems preferable to the mental pummeling that is law school. I'm not quite in fighting shape yet, but I imagine I could get there within 6 months or so. Although it might take me longer to train for the cage, I imagine I could be pretty decent at it. I mean, how much mental capacity does it really take to beat people to a pulp for a living? (Attention UFC Fighters: please don't kill me for this post). Time to buy a speed bag and some steroids.
  • Pros- awesome job title, watercooler conversations involve phrases like "spleen" and "ruptured," uniform only consists of shorts, work days last as many rounds as you want them to
  • Cons- weak haunches, brain damage, UFC fans, brain damage, preference for having teeth


This is a strangely accurate representation of PC. One of those guys is the PC professor.

Time to send out some resumes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bands you should listen to (that you probably don't now)

1. Mark Lanegan- Mark Lanegan, the solo artist who formerly led Screaming Trees, is like Tom Waits meets Wilco meets industrial. He's rough, gritty, and strangely poetic. I recommend Bubblegum, which I believe is his latest album. My friend Micah recommended it to me back in September and I've been hooked ever since. Check out "Methamphetamine Blues" and "When Your Number Isn't Up" for two very different sides of the same hard-rockin' coin.

Youtube- Methamphetamine Blues
Youtube- When Your Number Isn't Up



2. Uncle Tupelo- This early 1990s band pretty much defined the alternative country genre. Jay Farrar's lyrics take center stage, while Jeff Tweedy's musical stylings shape the music and run the gamut from hard rock to bluegrass to covers of old Americana folk music to even some punk stylings. Although they split up in 1994, Uncle Tupelo remains one of my favorite artists of all time, and their music should definitely be listened to by anyone looking to experience a real solid American band. My personal favorite album is "March 16-20, 1992."

Last.fm- Whiskey Bottle
Last.fm- I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)



3. Explosions in the Sky- I've been trying to introduce people to these guys for years, and it almost always goes well. If you're familiar with Mogwai, you probably have a general idea of what these guys sound like. I think it's described as "instrumental post-rock" by Pitchfork or Wikipedia or whatever, but really it's just a bunch of guys with guitars who play some rocking songs that really explore textures and layers in instrumental guitar rock. I know that's a pretty horrible description, but I promise they're good. It's amazing how much emotion can be conveyed by a band even without using words. Check out "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" for a great starting point.

Youtube- What Do You Go Home To?
Youtube- First Breath After Coma



4. Doug Burr- Doug Burr is a Denton-area musician with a unique sound. It's part Neil Young, part Johnny Cash, part Will Oldham, part Tom Waits (sidenote: that's two Tom Waits-sounding artists I've recommended, even though I don't really like Tom Waits. Interesting). I first heard Doug Burr about 4 years ago opening for a Bob Schneider show and I've been following him ever since. His last full album, On Promenade, is probably in my top 10 albums of all time. Even his new release, The Shawl, which is select Psalms set to music, is really top-quality music. Out of all these artists, I recommend Doug Burr the most, both because I want to see him succeed and because I really stand behind my recommendation of him. Check him out on Myspace, and if you like his stuff, buy a cd on iTunes so he'll keep making music for years to come.

Myspace- Doug Burr



Monday, July 13, 2009

Career Options Pt. 1

I'm at the point in my schooling right now where it's time to start seriously considering my career options. The time to start applying for legal jobs starting in Fall 2010 is rapidly approaching, and it means that some preliminary decisions have to be made and some pre-screening has to be done. With the economy being what it is, for better or for worse, I realize that I have to be flexible; however, I've narrowed my ideal choices down to a few select types of job that I'll be seriously looking into.

1. Public defender- this is probably my ideal job at this point. The work is interesting, I have a decent background in it, my law school curriculum has been tailored toward criminal law, and with a government salary, you don't have to worry about clients who won't pay. There are plenty of drawbacks, to be sure, but I think this job is one that I would really enjoy and would be good at. Plus, there are criminals in every single state in the United States, so the job market spans far and wide, leaving plenty of room for choice of location.
  • Pros: flexibility, autonomy, relaxed work environment
  • Cons: poverty, lack of resources, tight economy, risk of getting curb-stomped


2. Human Rights/Relief Worker- this job would require a bit more sacrifice, since it would likely be in Africa or another developing or third-world area. However, this job would be a great combination of my educational background (foreign language, public administration, law), my work background (criminal law, politics, administration, immigration), and my liberal douchebagginess and guilt. I'm really interested in this job, but I know so little about it, so I'll have to flesh out many more details before I can really explore this option
  • Pros: humanitarianism, travel, adventure
  • Cons: poverty, malaria, difficulty in securing employment, risk of getting kidnapped


3. Dark wizard/Ringwraith/Witch King of Angmar- this job is almost too cool for words. Just yesterday I was reading the Lord of the Rings books, and I realized that the coolest character in the series is by far the Witch King. I realize this may be a difficult job to come by, and it seems to end badly for those who hold it, but that doesn't scare me. Also, I was the best man at a wedding this weekend, and I was in charge of keeping the ring, and I feel like I did a pretty good job. I feel like the ability to cast dark magic on people would be a very transferrable job skill.
  • Pros: job coolness, autonomy, direction, wicked uniforms, badass transportation
  • Cons: white wizards, hobbits, sunlight, risk of getting sword-chopped, crappy health plan


4. Professional Bass Fisherman- Although I'm not super keen on the idea of wearing a shirt with some corporation's logo on it, being able to ride around in a boat and wear sunglasses for a living seems pretty cool. Just look at those who have done it before- Jimmy Houston, Bill Dance, Don Johnson. Plus fishing is awesome, and it seems like the job is somewhat recession-proof, as I can't imagine fish particularly care what the Dow or Nasdaq is doing at any given time. This might also be a hard job to come by, but if I could maybe start out as a dark wizard and learn some cool magic, it would be a lot easier to both get the job and succeed as a professional bass fisher. One Spinnerbait to Rule Them All...
  • Pros: wicked sunglasses, tackleboxes, worms, giant checks, mustaches
  • Cons: fish and game regulations, corporate sponsorship, risk of drowning, accidental hookings

I'm going to do some research and see where it goes from there. More to come...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

18 Hour Day of the Dead





Let's talk about zombies. Alaska is one of the safest locations to be when the zombie invasion happens, and it's time to talk about why.

Location

One of the biggest elements of survival in a zombie invasion scenario is location. How many zombies there are and how easy they can travel is one of the biggest factors that contribute to large-scale breakouts vs. localized occurrences. Fortunately, Alaska has the upper hand in this regard. Should an outbreak start in the lower 48 or Canada, the zombies would have to travel through the Yukon Territory or via plane or ferry in order to get up here. That's not to completely discount the possibility of some wayward zombies making it up here, but I'm confident that we would be fairly safe even if a large-scale outbreak occurred (which would undoubtedly shut down air and boat traffic to Alaska).

If an outbreak originated here, on the other hand, I still feel fairly confident that the severity would be minimized by the sparse and scattered population of Alaska, coupled with the other features that make it ideal for weathering an undead apocalypse.

Defense

Alaska is well-armed, plain and simple. There are a lot of guns up here, and people aren't shy about carrying them. Much like the Confederate soldiers, the people of Alaska are proficient in the use of firearms, giving them a distinct advantage in the realm of defending themselves and their homes from zombie aggressors. In addition to the well-armed population, one of the big advantages of the Great White North is that the natural landscape provides an additional layer of protection against a zombie invasion.

Geography

Zombies would have their work cut out for them in Alaska. First of all, the natural terrain does not make it easy for zombies to get around. The place is covered with trees, rocks, snow and ice, and things are pretty far apart. A zombie could wander in the woods for days or weeks before coming across a potential victim, who is probably armed and able to defend against the attacker. In addition to the terrain, Alaska is filled with animals that can fend for themselves. While it's common knowledge that zombies have no interest in animals as a general rule, it's entirely plausible that wandering zombies will eventually run across a wayward bear, moose or wolf who will defend its territory or young from any perceived threat, alive or undead. Let's not forget that during the summer, it's light for most of the time, offering another level of protection to the zombie-wary Alaskan, since darkness makes it harder to detect approaching zombies. Another distinct advantage of Alaska is that for seven months out of the year or so, it's frozen solid. This works well for humans because zombies can't operate in cold weather. The muscles freeze and they pretty much sit there until it thaws out and they can move again. This works well for those around during winter, as they can simply head out on snow machines for a good ole fashioned zombie-dispatchin' good time. While not all of them would be able to be dispatched, the winter climate in Alaska offers significant protection that simply isn't available in much of the lower 48.

In short, Alaska is a great place to live, but a pretty crappy place to be undead. I am confident that if when the zombie apocalypse finally arrives, those of us living here will be much safer than those unfortunate enough to be somewhere like California.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In These Tough Economic Times...

Ok, so I am really sick of hearing about how shitty the economy is right now. It seems like every single advertisement, talk show, radio program, and newspaper column is about how bad the economy is and how everyone is worried. It's especially bad in the legal community, it seems. With BigLaw firms cutting jobs and slashing salaries, many people are worried that a paradigm shift is occurring that will change the way the legal community does business as a whole. Law students are worried about getting jobs and lawyers are worried about how they're going to pay their mortgages.

My solution? Stop whining.

Frankly, I welcome this change. For many years now, the legal community has been largely an affluent group of individuals making a lot of money for their services. Regardless of whether you feel these services are worth what they charge, few will disagree that lawyers in general tend to be more affluent than others and generally have less money worries than the general population (nb: too many "general"s in that sentence). Even public defenders, who make less than almost all other types of lawyers, generally live ok, if not well. It comes as no surprise to me that an entire profession that enjoys more financial success than most others is suddenly finding that it's not worth as much as it once was. I also find it hard to sympathize with people who have such an upper hand in life (i.e. higher education and greater earning potential) having to deal with the same money and employability issues that the rest of the world faces on a daily basis. While it's not to say that the law profession isn't completely invulnerable to economic downturns, the bottom line is that we are lawyers. The only person that we really have to be hired by is the client. Your law firm may not need your services any more, but stop whining that your life is over and your services are useless. You are well-educated and better off than most people. Quit bitching about it.

/end rant.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kenai Lake Fishing Trip


So, we took the boat out on Kenai Lake today and survived. The original plan was to go to Kachemak Bay to fish for halibut, but the waters were too rough for fishing comfortably, so we decided to head up a little ways to Kenai Lake for a little pike/rainbow trout fishing. The fishing of course was the last priority on the list, behind shooting, drinking beer, building fires, cooking food, and drinking beer. The lake itself was beautiful, with a blue hue to the water that only comes from a pure glacial stream. We also hiked a ways up a hill to a cool looking waterfall, which proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. My new hip waders came in very handy for all the boat launching and docking, not to mention the fact that they make me look like a sexual tyrannosaurus. Scott's hip waders would've been a lot better if he hadn't fell in the lake and rendered them completely irrelevant. What an idiot. It was a great way to spend a day and I'm glad to have had yet another Alaskan adventure and lived to tell about it.