Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Judge of Elections

It's the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November today, which means that it is time for another general election in the United States. It's not a presidential or regular congressional election, but many other important positions are on the ballot, including municipal officials and judges, which (for better or worse) are typically elected in Pennsylvania. Alas, with my class schedule this year, I'm not able to resume my position that I had in previous elections as judge of elections, checking people in to vote, so I suppose from here on out I shall be forced to list on my résumé "Judge, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (retired)."

As a law student, I take an especial interest in these elections, both in general and in accordance with the principle that "a good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer knows the judge." I extend that aphorism and say that "a fortiori, that "the best lawyer got the judge elected."

Browsing again the Book of Common Prayer and its section on various Prayers and Thanksgivings, I found this prayer for Courts of Justice on page 821:
Almighty God, who sittest in the throne judging right: We humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone; through him who shall come to be our Judge, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
And I shall again repeat the petition for an Election, from page 822:
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States (or of this community) in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm now well into the semester here at the H. John Heinz III College of Carnegie Mellon University (n.b. Thresher geeks, it takes a different style than the James A. Baker, III, Institute at Rice) and have generally enjoyed my courses--which are heavy on economics and, for some reason, Harvard Business Journal readings. But I have two unpleasant aspects of my schedule.

  1. I have an evening class, Monday nights from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and I just don't care much for that time slot. I like to do schoolwork in the evenings, and this bumps that start time back a few hours.
  2. Friday afternoon "recitation" review sessions, from 3:30 to 4:50 p.m. They're not mandatory, strictly speaking, but they sure do seem like a good idea.
Thinking back across my eighteen previous years of schooling, I've never had either an evening class nor one that started after 3:00 on Fridays. My schedule is fixed for now, and the Monday night class was pre-assigned before orientation, but at least it's just a half-semester ("mini," in campus parlance) and so will be over soon.

My Google Calendar situation has also gone crazy in the past few months, with what can only be described as a proliferation of calendars for various clubs and groups being shared with me. It's good to know what's going on, but it is visual clutter--though necessary, to be sure.

Oh, schedules! So strictly do they dictate my life.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I'm starting in a dual degree program at Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III College in the Master of Science in Public Policy and Management next week, in a dual degree program with the law school at the University of Pittsburgh. I'm excited to start but have to take a deep breath with the major tuition burden it will represent. And though I save a year doing the dual degree program compared with enrolling in them seriatim, I'm not crazy about bumping my graduation date back to 2014... the same year as those incoming 1Ls this year.

In any event, I wrapped up my summer job at the law school the other day and am now on a bit of an adventure in New York (and perhaps to Washington later this week). My quest is to visit as many National Park Service sites as possible, and get the stamps in my parks passport, which I "discovered" a year or so ago after having let it lie dormant for around 15 years.

So, I'm hoping to see Grant's Tomb today, and then who knows from there. Huzzah!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011


The new Target store in East Liberty opened this past week, with today's grand opening being the metaphorical capstone to the previous week's petit opening, when the store was open for business, but with minimal fanfare. I stopped by on Thursday and again on Saturday to check the place out, and it is nice. I hope it will be an anchor in the neighborhood for a long time, and as the linked article suggests, it is but one manifestation of a revitalized region.

Surely one of the coolest aspects was this, an escalator for shopping carts raising them from one level to the next. A very neat feature.

The place also boasts around 15 Three Rivers bike racks in the parking lot, which were very much in use as of Saturday afternoon.

After my initial stop on Thursday, it occurred to me that I should check out the documentary East of Liberty. I'd heard about it but never seen it, so I checked it out at the library and watched it that night. While I can certainly sympathize with the plights of people for whom the past forty years haven't been kind, I thought that the critiques offered by the interviewees (and by inference, the filmmakers) were one-sided, simplistic and underwhelming. A lot of it seemed to boil down to complaining about what "those people" ("gentrifying" rich white people, perhaps from the suburbs) were doing to East Liberty, and in particular, to a handful of public housing high-rises. The film seemed to idealize life in pre-Target East Liberty and demonize the people whose efforts (and money) were making it a more attractive neighborhood.

In any case, I will surely be shopping again at the new Target and look forward to the next chapter from the makers of East of Liberty.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Looking at the iPhone's weather app yesterday, one would have thought it an inapposite evening to take a solstitial bike ride.

But the informed cyclist checks the radar, as on weather.gov :

Not a cloud in the sky for miles around! And so it was.

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Friday, May 27, 2011


While I did recently fly to Houston and spend some (more) time in Texas, today I "fled" the country, for the nearest, cheapest non-United States place: I took Megabus to Toronto.

The overnight bus was largely uneventful but rather sleepless. And though I specifically asked at the border checkpoint, the immigration/customs officer told me they only stamp passports for travelers arriving by air. So that was disappointing.

But the weekend is otherwise looking good. We'll head back to the Royal Ontario Museum, where I visited circa 1997, and look at dinosaurs excavated from right here in Canada. And many other things.

We head back to Pittsburgh on Sunday night (overnight) but for now I'm going to enjoy the lovely politeness of Canada.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011


Things continue to occasionally happen to me, but in the midst of school, and now with the approach of finals, I have been strained to tell (all of) you about it in this space. Well, my ten-week silence is at an end!

Recent weeks have been characterized especially by visits. Dan Savage, columnist, blogger and founder of the It Gets Better project, came to speak at the University of Pittsburgh, and I was there to see him. (David Lawrence Hall, where he spoke, was also the location of my 8th grade promotion ceremony.)

It was an especially fitting venue since I had first read Savage's column sitting on the Pitt campus waiting for the bus at the Tennyson Avenue stop sometime circa 1999.

Next, I was visited (vicariously) by Vice President Joe Biden. I had written him the day after President's Day to wish him a happy Vice President's Day (which I suggested was appropriately observed on President's Day + 1), and he wrote me back.

I also complimented him on his French cuffs, which looked especially sharp as he sat behind President Obama during the State of the Union address, and he sent me a set of Vice Presidential cufflinks.

The previous night, someone wanted to visit Pitt Law so badly, she tried to drive her car straight into the courtroom.

(Photo by The Pitt News/Luc Felak/Senior Staff Photographer)

The next morning, they had put up some boards to cover over the hole, and a few days later, it was well on its way to being patched up.

But I maintain its distance from any legitimate roadway, not to mention the steps and columns in the way, make this remarkable nonetheless. These photos capture some of the improbability that a car would travel so far.

Then, I was visiting Squirrel Hill and saw that someone else was visiting and brought the skulls of various animals with him or her everywhere he or she went. Excellent.

Then I was a volunteer at TEDxCMU, a fun set of presentations on various topics. Luis von Ahn's presentation on Duolingo was awesome, and I can't wait to see it rolled out for the public.

They showed Twitter posts about the conference during breaks, including this one from me.

Almost as memorable as the presentation on Duolingo was the immense quantity of Red Bull there. Evidently Red Bull called up the organizers sua sponte and offered to co-sponsor the event by donating a couple cases of Red Bull.

I visited Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College, where I've been admitted to their MSPPM program (still waiting on my financial aid package before I decide for sure) and on the way to a reception at the Heinz History Center, we saw none other than Bumper Bike.

Also visiting Squirrel Hill, in addition to the skull-transporting motorist (supra), was a giant squirrel, perhaps named Murray, as announced in this issue of Squirrel Hill Magazine. (Though I was partial to the also-ran names "Captain von Bushy" and "Nut Nut.")

Finally, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori came to Pittsburgh where she spoke about a variety of topics in a Q&A session at Trinity Cathedral.

Let the visits continue!

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