Legal Quandary

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New & Improved Look!

Same Crappy Content.

As I mentioned, my old template had issues and therefore had to be kicked to the curb.

LQ has a whole new look, thanks to a groovy new template I found here.

It took a little tweaking (because I am stooopid when it comes to computers), and the comments link wasn't set up to do trackbacks, but somehow I made it work. Hooray for me!

That said, I wouldn't expect a lot out of me in the very near future - you may have heard I've got a closed book exam to study for...grrrr.

Yet Another Thing...

That blows about being a visiting student.

You take things for granted based on your experience at your home school.

For example. I found out about 5 minutes ago that one of my exams is closed book. I am not happy about this. Not about the fact that it is closed book (although that sucks too), but more that the professor never mentioned it. Not once. It's not on the syllabus. He didn't say anything the first day of class. In fact, he never brought the exam up in class at all - other than to say that he doesn't make old exams available. If you were giving a closed book exam, wouldn't you think it'd be a good idea to say so? At least in passing? I know the presumption is for closed book exams at some schools, but all 3 of my other exams this semester are open book, so I think I'm justified in being a little surprised.

Also - this would have totally influenced my decision to sign up for another class with the same professor next semester.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Only in D.C.

I got an email a little while ago offering an easy opportunity to make $25.

Doing what, you ask?

Holding a place in line for someone to allow them to hear oral arguments before the Supreme Court tomorrow.

Why would anyone need a placeholder in line?

Because they will be giving commentary on the upcoming cases on one of the major news networks and might not be done in time to get a seat otherwise.

I'm not doing it because they want you there before 7am - and also because if I did, there's a good chance I wouldn't make it on time to my 9am class.

But still - that's not an email you get everyday.

A PSA for Anyone With A Law Student In Their Life

The season of finals is upon us. While finals schedules actually vary a bit from school to school, it's a pretty safe bet that once Thanksgiving is over, your law student is trying to cram synthesize all the material they've been learning over the past 10 to 15 weeks.

Thanksgiving is over.

This means that now is NOT the time to schedule surprise visits. Do NOT just "drop in" on your law student - you might not like what you see. (Exception - if you're bringing food, it might be ok, but it's still better to call ahead.) Although law students tend to be pretty good at multi-tasking, this skill is currently being completely used up by studying for 3-5 exams and writing whatever ridiculous papers we've been assigned. This means there's very little left over for activities like "cleaning the house", "doing the laundry", "eating nutritional meals", and "personal hygiene".

Landlords. WTF is wrong with you that you would schedule a "periodic" house inspection during this time? One that can't be rescheduled. First of all, the holidays are stressful enough without having you come snoop through the house to make sure I haven't done extensive damage. I understand that you have "fiduciary duties" to the homeowner and everything, but really - you couldn't postpone it til January? After we've all had a little time off?

Friends. Family. I love you and I'm always happy to see you. Well, actually, I'm almost always happy to see you. But do you understand how visiting just now might actually make me more stressed out than I normally am? I'm already living on coffee, chocolate, and multivitamins. What more (or less) do you want? The only other clear cut signs of stress I could take on at this point would be if I started smoking, drinking heavily, and doing drugs. And I just don't think my body could handle that.

I understand (and vaguely remember from my life before law school...ah, those halcyon days) that there are all kinds of wonderful concerts, shows, tree lighting ceremonies, etc. that go on at this time of year. Don't ask us if we want to go. We can't - or at least shouldn't. Remember, if I go and then fail my Commercial Transactions final, it is ALL YOUR FAULT. Now, don't you feel bad? Then just imagine how I feel because my failure in a 4 credit class means that I WON'T GRADUATE THIS YEAR and I'VE JUST WASTED 3 GRAND ON A CLASS THAT I FAILED.

Please consider the above when making your pre-holiday plans.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Under Construction

E. McPan mentioned to me last night that strange things were afoot at the LQ.

So I decided to mess with the template. Of course, now it has some quirks too and I don't have the time to fix them. If you have any ideas on how to fix the things that are obviously wrong, please leave me a comment if you can. If not, email to legalquandary[at]gmail[dot]com.

Please and thanks.

Maybe This Will Help Me With Crim-Pro Outlining

But somehow I doubt it.

Your results:
You are Supergirl
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Iron Man
Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Via Heather

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Who Says Lawyers Are Bad at Math?!

Not the New York Court of Appeals.

The question...was whether a man named James Robbins was guilty of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school - which carries a longer sentence....

The nearest school, Holy Cross, is on 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. How to measure? On foot...the school is more than 1,000 feet away from the site of the arrest, because the shortest route is blocked by buildings. But as the crow is less than 1,000 feet away.

Law enforcement officials calculated the straight-line distance using the Pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2) measuring the distance up Eighth Avenue (764 feet) as one side of a right triangle, and the distance to the church along 43rd Street (490 feet) as another, to find that the length of the hypotenuse was - 907.63 feet.

Lawyers for Mr. Robbins argued that the distance should be measured as a person would walk it because "crows do not sell drugs." But in a unanimous ruling, the seven-member Court of Appeals upheld his conviction and held that the distance in such cases should be measured as the crow flies.

As an attorney, you should know you're in trouble when your client's best argument is that "crows do not sell drugs."

Also, somewhere there's a bunch of 7th Grade Algebra teachers who are very proud.


I made jook for the first time yesterday afternoon. For anyone who isn't familiar with what this is, you basically take the carcass of a turkey or chicken, boil the hell out of it until you can easily pull the meat off the bones, and then add salt and white rice. Then you boil the hell out that too until you end up with a creamy white soup. Then you add stuff into it. Like soy sauce, shredded lettuce, green onions, peanuts, etc. Sometimes you'll also see it listed on Chinese restaurant menus as congee.

The first time I heard of jook was before Mr. Q and I even started dating. We were good friends, though, and he spent Christmas eve of 1998 at my house. I was recently divorced and couldn't and/or didn't want to visit my parents in Germany. EC was with her dad's family. I had spent Thanksgiving with friends - who wanted to go have Thanksgiving dinner at a casino. I vowed to never put myself through something like that again. Mr. Q was getting ready to move back to California in February and had decided not to spend the money to fly out for Christmas. So I invited him over for Christmas dinner.

I made a lovely dinner of Cornish game hen stuffed with wild rice and cranberries, glazed carrots, and probably some other side dish (salad maybe?). Also, entirely too much wine - both red and white. We probably watched a movie or two and then Mr. Q retired to the guest room and I went off to my own room.

The next morning I was toying with the idea of using the cornish hen carcasses to make soup, when Mr. Q told me that his family always made jook during the holidays. (He is a whopping 3/8 Chinese.) After he explained what it was, I said "well...I've got chicken and I've got rice...." He said:

Yeah, that's just what I need. Some corn-fed white woman making me jook.

So that's the main reason I'd never attempted it until now. Even though I found out the very next year that his mother is every bit the corn-fed white woman that I am - and she's been making him jook for years.

Friday, November 25, 2005

In the Proud Tradition of...

The Numa Numa dance...

Comes this fine video!

Awesome. Enjoy!

H/T Paul.

Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!

I took the day off from studying yesterday as part of the Thanksgiving festivities. After eating way too much food and taking a nap, I proceeded to kick Mr. Q's and EC's heinies at Monopoly. We moved on to UNO once Lil Q woke up from her nap.

We gave Lil Q a fistful of cards, which she just sort of put down at random intervals. So it was sort of a combination of regular UNO and concentration, in that you had to remember what card you we actually supposed to be playing off of. Mr. Q decided this could also be a good learning opportunity, and we started announcing the cards we were laying down to reinforce Lil Q's colors and help her learn her numbers.

So Mr. Q laid down a card and announced:

"Red five...standing by"

Lil Q looked up and said "Heyyyyyy...that's my Star Wars!"

That's correct - my three year old recognized a line from Star Wars - a 25 year old movie.

Mr. Q's brainwashing must be working.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was telling Mr. Q last night that I think Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. What's not to love about a holiday that focuses on food, being together with family, and giving thanks for what you have? And you don't have to worry about shopping for presents - until tomorrow, that is.

It's just the four of us this year, but I'm still making the full spread. Because the other thing that's wonderful about Thanksgiving is leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Liar, Liar

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but have been too lazy busy to get around to it.

EC missed the bus last Monday morning. She had already missed the bus 2 other times earlier this year (sadly, for her, on consecutive days). And she knows Mr. Q and I are pretty hardcore about her being responsible for getting herself out to the bus-stop on time. The bus stop is right across the street from our house, so there's really no reason not to get there.

On this particular morning, my in-laws were still here, so I didn't find out about the missed bus until after I got out of the shower. Mrs. Q said EC had come into the house crying and Dr. Q (which is what we all call Mr. Q's dad, because he's a Dr. It makes sense in our world. Really.) came running upstairs looking for the keys and then jumped in the car to drive her to school. [Insert lengthy conversation about where exactly the school is, what the best way to go is, and Dr. Q's chances of getting lost, here.]

That night Mr. Q and I had a little interrogation session about what had happened. EC stalwartly claimed to have been at the bus stop on time, but said she didn't see or hear the bus until it was pulling away. When we asked why, she said she was huddled down with her sweater over her head. She claimed she didn't hear it because she had a song stuck in her head and it was so loud she couldn't hear anything. Upon further questioning, the story changed slightly - this time she said she was humming.

Would you have believed that story?
Yeah, we didn't either. And it's not like we don't have good reason to doubt.

The thing is, it was true. Or at least the part about her being out there on time. Dr. Q corroborated that she was standing out there well before the bus came, and that he saw the bus pull away without her on it.

This kid never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I think she was switched at birth because she is nothing like me. Though I have to admit, I felt pretty bad about not believing her when she was telling the truth.

Monday, November 21, 2005


You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills...

The Quandary brother-and-sister-in-law were in town for part of the weekend. I mentioned once that my SiL is studying to be a chiropractor. She'll be done with her program at about the same time as I find out whether or not I passed the bar exam - bottom line is that we'll both (probably) be unleashed on the unsuspecting public about a year from now.

During their 36 hours in town, SiL did an adjustment on me. I'd never had one before, so let's just say I had some issues. Like remarkably tense back and neck muscles of undetermined origin. (Injury? Poor posture? Stress? All likely candidates...)

I found myself a little bummed that as a law student, I didn't have anything to really exchange with her. You know - if I'd gone to, say, cosmetology school, I could have given her a fabulous cut and color. (That's just an example - I'm not saying she actually needs either of those.)

Sure, I could (and I'm sorry to say, did) offer several exceedingly boring thoughts on a couple of cases, political issues, and the like. I can also play Devil's Advocate with the best of them - but let's face it - nobody really likes that game. Especially non-lawyers.

I don't know that this will change much once I do actually graduate/pass the bar, since we're all trained to answer every question with "it all depends" or "the general rule is "x" but I couldn't give you a good answer without knowing all the details". Not to mention that lawyers seem to be a dime a dozen lately. SiL's other BiL is also a lawyer. In TVPNU, the next door neighbor AND the across-the-street neighbor - both lawyers. I can point out the houses of at least 3 lawyers within a block of our current house. Between these things and the whole restriction on not practicing law in a jurisdiction you're not licensed in, I probably won't ever have much to offer in exchange.

I suppose that's why I cook.

Dear National Zoo,

Your website sucks ass.

As you know, there were lots of people interested in seeing the new panda cub. I thought that I would be the coolest mom on the block and get my kids tickets too. I appreciate that you need to make viewing on a reservation basis - I have no problem with that. And I know I really probably shouldn't bitch about free tickets.

But here's what I have a problem with: your website was clearly not capable of handling the number of responses you got. As evidenced by the fact that I spent over an hour, enduring multiple error messages of "The document contains no data," "Service not available", and more than one server error, trying 5 different dates and multiple times for each date. Only to be told - after waiting for several minutes each time - that the spaces filled up before I submitted my request.

Look, I know the Panda cub is popular, but I don't really have that kind of time to waste. You're affiliated with the freaking Smithsonian - I have a hard time believing you can't upgrade your server to accomodate this kind of volume. Or contract with someone who does have the ability to handle it. It's not like you didn't see it coming.

Work on that, will you?



So I *was* able to get tickets, but when I went to print them, I got another error message. When I tried again, I got a message saying "Our records show that your tickets have already been printed. Please call us at [phone number] if you're having problems." When I called the number, the voice mailbox was full. Do you see how that's not helpful?

Update 2:
Hooray! I finally got in touch with a live body, who was kind enough to email me the link to our ticket. All is forgiven National Zoo, but you still might want to get those server issues looked into before you attempt something like this again...

This means the Quandary kids will be visiting Tai Shan on New Year's Day! Of course, you can get your own preview here.

I Can Mashed Potato...I Can Do the Twist

You Are Mashed Potatoes

Oridnary, comforting, and more than a little predictable
You're the glue that holds everyone together.
What Part of Thanksgiving Are You?

Mmmmmm....Mashed Potatoes. Clearly the best part of Thanksgiving.

Just Plain Nuts

You Are Pecan Pie Soda

Sweet, but totally nuts
What Jones Holiday Soda Are You?

Via Blogthings.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Is It Just Me...

or is Rupert Grint really the most horrible name ever for an actor?

Did his parents consciously try to find the most truly vile combination possible?

"Let's see...Grint...what first name would really highight the awfulness of that last name? Norbert? No. Horace? No - too mainstream. Herbert? Wasn't there a U.S. President named that? I know - Rupert!!!"

Or, maybe it was a family name and his mother had to agree to name her firstborn son "Rupert" as a condition of marriage. Though, if it had been me, I would have either walked away or tried to compromise and maybe agreed to use it as a middle name. Doesn't "H. Rupert Grint" sound so much better? Even though people who only use initials for their first name are inherently suspect...

On the other hand - I see his middle name is Alexander - a totally nice, normal (read: not ugly) name.

So, maybe it's just his fault.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Worst. Birthday. Present. Ever.

Earlier this week, I got a phone call from the cemetary where my dad is buried. They were calling to let me know that his marker had been placed that day. I emailed my mom to let her know, and she fired back "Just in time for Dad's Birthday!"*

I also feel better that the marker is there, but somehow I don't see it as a good birthday present. At least not one I ever want to get.

If you haven't figured it out already, today is (was?) my dad's birthday. He would have been 63. All week, I've sort of been thinking about what I would have gotten him as a birthday present if he had lived another 5 months. Things being what they are though, I'll probably make a donation to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

This is the last picture I have of my dad. I took it right before I left Omaha last Spring. I'm not overly concerned about posting it because most people wouldn't be able to recognize him from it. When I compare this photo to the ones taken at my wedding, or the ones we took the summer before he got sick, I have a really hard time believing the man in the pictures is the same person.

My dad was always clean-shaven when I was growing up. I heard he'd had a mustache in college, but shaved it off when he was commissioned in the Air Force. I think he regrew the mustache after he got sick partly to try to distract people from how thin he had gotten - not that it really worked. But he seemed to really enjoy the mustache and kept a sense of humor about things. I also think he wanted his grandkids to remember him as the funny man with the mustache.

Anyway, it's also been exactly 5 months since he died, and this whole post is making me sad.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I miss you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

But Wait...That's Not All!

If you act by midnight tonight, you'll also get this exciting meme. So, there I was, feeling all unloved this morning because readership is way down and nobody likes me, when I realized I'd been tagged by E. Spat.

Here's the deal:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post (I used my 24th because the 23rd only contained the words "Out Sick. Back Tomorrow" Why I tell you people things like that, I have no idea).
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Here's the sentence...from one of my less-than-stellar posts...

What does this exciting plan get you?

I pick:
Legally Intoxicated
Frolics and Detours
Chicken Magazine
Blonde Justice

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It's Tuesday!

And you know what that means?

Aside from meaning that I had better finally get my ass in gear and finish that draft of my Environmental Law paper, it means that Boston Legal is on tonight!

I know - I'm a couple years behind in my TV watching, but I just started watching BL this season. I wish that our PR prof had used BL as an in class example, since there seem to be possible (and sometimes clear) ethical violations in every episode of BL - even though Law & Order and certain websites were also entertaining and, oh yeah, educational. Unlike E.Spat, I am not in love with James Spader. To be entirely honest, his character, Alan Shore, has become a bit tedious the past couple of episodes.

But I *do* heart Denny Crane. Which surprises me because I'm not normally a Shatner fan. In fact, I think his acting in almost everything else he's been in has been pretty horrendous. Still, how can you not love an attorney who not only shoots his own client in the kneecaps, but also calls the Judge a douche-bag to his face?

Say it with me now...Denny Crane!

Now back to our regularly scheduled drudgery...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In Which...

I summarize my entire Environmental Law book in 85 words.* Have I mentioned (lately) how much I despise this class?

Environmental laws in the United States are totally inadequate. They seem to have been slapped together with bubble gum and duct tape. But things used to be worse. Nixon was a surprisingly decent environmental president. Reagan totally sucked. We were making headway until the evil Bush II administration. Corporations are the devil and you can't trust the federal government no matter who is in charge. Cost benefit analysis makes the government value things you can't put a price tag on. Vote for Ralph Nader. Amen.

* These views may or may not actually be representative of what I think about Environmental law. I'm just trying to save you the trouble of actually reading the book for yourself.

When I Was Your Age, I Walked to School Barefoot. In the Snow. Uphill. Both Ways.

So here it is. I'm turning into my parents.

EC's school puts out a 8-10 page newsletter every week. It contains information on the school dances, the fundraisers, the PTA activities, and what the kids have been learning. Let me start by saying that I think it's great that they do this, although I wish they'd just email it out and save the paper.

The front of this week's newsletter has an article written by the principal. In it, she tries to give parents a snapshot of a day-in-the-life-of-a-teacher. She talks about what time teachers get to school in the morning, how many kids they teach, and the many duties teachers perform that everyone seems to forget (hall patrol, lesson planning, meetings with parents, etc.) And that's cool - with few exceptions, I believe teachers to be very dedicated professionals who do a job that I couldn't do. I mean, can you imagine me in a room with 30 11-year-olds? I can't even handle ONE some days...

Here's where I take issue with the principal's article:

The teacher must also be sensitive to each child's self-esteem taking care not to make any child feel singled out. Remembering that childing need auditory, visual and kinesthetic reinforcement and that young adolescents can only sit still for about twenty minutes, pre-planning is crucial. Remembering that we live in a world where everyone wants to be entertained and instant gratification is an expectation, the teacher needs to exhibit extra-ordinary showmanship no matter how he or she is feeling.

It's actually just that last part that bothers me. I appreciate that the teachers really try to engage the kids, but I have a hard time believing kids "can't" sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time unless someone is putting on a show for them. Is it "can't" or "won't"? And is it "won't" because no one actually expects them to? It seems to me that we're feeding into the problem if we just let kids cruise through life and never actually challenge the kids because we're afraid some kid will feel bad if we tell him to "sit down, shut up, and listen to what the teacher has to say."

I think this does a huge disservice to our children because someday these kids are going to go off to high school and college and be expected to sit still and absorb what teachers have to say - without the benefit of either a dog & pony show to entertain them, or a break every 15 minutes. And the last time I checked, there weren't many employees who gave recess.

I recognize that kids need time to be kids, and I don't begrudge them that. However, I think part of growing up is also learning how to behave in situations that are "boring" or "stressful". Life is not TV. I learned long ago that if I expected to be entertained all the time, I was going to be bitterly disappointed.

I seem to remember sitting still for a full hour at EC's age, and being fully capable of learning something during that time. I didn't have a choice. Maybe it wasn't always effective learning, but I tend to think it was - my 6th grade teacher did a damned good job of keeping us excited about learning and engaged. (Thanks Mr. Wiechelman!)

So when an educator tells me that my child can't be expected to focus on a single task for more than 20 mintues, I begin to wonder if our kids are just living up to our (low) expectations.

and Mrs. Gorilla - you both spend far more time in a (non-law school) classroom than I do. I'd be interested in your impressions. Or anyone else's for that matter. Especially you parents.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

As Seen...

on The Neutral Zone Trap

If I drank 134.55 Grande Starbucks Mochas (skim milk, 2 pumps, extra hot & no whip, please), that would provide enough caffeine to kill me.

That answer might change if you take into account that I had 6 cups of Starbucks drip coffee today too...but let's not dwell on unpleasantries.

Breakfast in the Quandary House

My inlaws are in town, so I baked muffins this morning. Don't they look good?

These are without a doubt the best blueberry muffins I've had, so I thought I'd share the recipe. The whole wheat flour, oatmeal, cranberries and blueberries also make them chock full o' antioxidants and other nutrients.

This makes 24 muffins. We eat some fresh from the oven, and then freeze the rest.

1 c quick cooking oats
1 c lowfat buttermilk
3 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 med oranges
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c canola oil
2 eggs
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries (but more berries never hurt anyone)
1 c Orange Craisins

Spray muffin tins w/ nonstick spray

Stir oats & buttermilk together. Let sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together.

In large bowl, combine rind from oranges, 1 c of fresh squeezed juice. (You can use OJ from concentrate too, but the flavor won't be as intense as if you use the rind.) Add sugar and eggs, whisk together until smoothly combined.

Add buttermilk/oat mix into OJ/sugar mix. Stir until combined. Blend in flour mixture until just moistened. Add in berries.

Scoop batter into prepped muffin tins. (I use a Pampered Chef large scoop.) Bake @ 400 for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin (choose one toward the middle of the muffin pan) comes out clean.

The cooling racks are also from Pampered Chef - and I totally endorse those. You can stack them on top of each other, which saves a ton of space if you tend to make huge batches of muffins/cookies/etc or need to cool multiple layers of cake at the same time. For the record, I'm not a PC consultant, but registered with them when I got married. That's why I have a bunch of PC stuff.

Friday, November 11, 2005

This Nation Will Remain the Land of the Free Only So Long As It Is The Home of the Brave. *

Don't forget to thank a Vet today.
During Officer Training School, a woman came up to me and asked "Has anyone ever told you how much we appreciate what you do for our country?" That she would go out of her way to say thanks - even though I was still in training and hadn't actually done anything for my country yet - meant a lot.

Also - Happy Belated 230th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps.

* Quote by Elmer Davis. Kick-ass photo by one of my former troops, Staff Sergeant Jeanette Copeland.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bragging Rights

Mr. Q and I went to EC's parent/teacher conference yesterday morning. Since I know I've vented about the times that she's done dumb things, I figured I should give equal time to her success.

In sum:

She's smarter than the average bear and turns her homework in on time. Her classmates like her and her teachers wish they had 40 more of her.

Maybe the teachers are just schmoozing, but that's what I like to hear. =)

Maybe if you all are lucky, I'll post one of the poems she wrote when I dragged her to school with me on Monday. I'm not normally a big poetry fan, but I thought it was darned good. Especially when you consider that she is only 11.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

You Know What Drives Me Bonkers?

Well, truthfully, lots of things. But this one thing in particular is driving me bonkers today...

My Commercial Transactions book regularly includes this command:
"Solve the following Problems on the basis of the text following the Problems and statutory provisions provided."

Wouldn't it just make more sense to put the problems after the relevant text instead of making me flip back and forth? Isn't "provisions provided" also a little redundant - or at least poorly written? Also, why are they "Problems" with a big P?

There's No Food In Your Food!

Has anyone else noticed that Americans as a whole have a really crappy diet?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've always been one to check out what other people put in their shopping carts at the grocery store (because I am NOSY), but I've noticed lately that it is not just college students and single adults who are filling their bodies with junk - it's also parents who are teaching their kids to eat this way.

I notice it especially at Lil Q's new daycare. In TVPNM, breakfast, lunch, and snack were included in her tuition. Being the Pacific Northwest, the food was all vegetarian and mostly organic. (This might also help explain why tuition was $900 a month.) Here, we have to bring breakfast from home. Lil Q is a notorious early riser, so she usually has cereal at home, and then we just bring yogurt to school. But I can't help but notice what the other kids bring. There's several kids who usually have cereal. Some of it more nutritious than others, but even Cocoa Frosted Sugar Bombs have some redeeming nutritional value, right?* Then there's the Go-Gurt crowd. Because regular yogurt is just too damned hard to eat. Here, I think the parents are at least trying to provide a healthy breakfast, but have you ever read the ingredients on this stuff??? It's mostly corn syrup and gelatin - which might make for a tasty concoction, but it's not yogurt. But then there are other kids who bring Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, or Burger King. Every. Single. Day. Are we really too busy as a society to pour some Cheerios into a tupperware container or wash some grapes?

I know that technically this is none of my damned business, but I have to admit that I am concerned when I see 3 and 4 year olds downing enough calories in one meal to keep a fully grown adult going for a day. When we wonder why our kids are out of shape - I'm thinking the answer is fairly obvious. Between feeding them what amounts to candy for breakfast and then plunking them in front of the TV, it's a wonder they're all not 100 pounds by the age of 5.

I guess this really isn't anything new. I remember school lunches from my elementary school days, and I don't think the point of school lunches was really nutrition so much as cheap, fast and filling. (Remember those sandwiches made with a slice each of white and wheat bread spread with peanut butter AND butter??? I rest my case.)

Mr. Q for some reason has a copy of the daily school menu from the Biloxi public schools from the early 1990s. (We think his mom sent it to him in college as some sort of bizarre sign that his younger siblings were thinking of him. Or something.) A sample: Breakfast - Cereal, 1/2 Ham Sandwich, Fruit Juice, Milk. Lunch - Golden Fried Chicken Nuggets, Mashed Potatoes w/ Gravy, Early June Peas (in September), Hot Buttered Rolls, School Baked Cookies, Choice of Milk. Another day lists an Egg Roll as the main entree for lunch. My point is that while filling, this diet is a recipe for early heart disease and obesity. And yes, I'm taking into account that for some kids, this is ALL they're getting to eat for the day, and it's a damned sight better than what they would get at home. But still - are you seriously telling me we can't do better by our kids? Or that just because kids grow up poor, it's ok to foist health problems on them later in life because we couldn't be bothered to teach them to eat vegetables and other foods with actual nutritional value? I recognize that this shining example is about a dozen years old. The thing is - things haven't really changed. I see exactly the same stuff on EC's school menu. Maybe the menu selections have been slightly updated in that they're serving quesadillas instead of bean burritos. Maybe they offer more salads (iceberg drenched in dressing), but fundamentally, we're still feeding our kids crap.

I've also noticed that the poor eating habits we teach our kids don't just magically disappear when the kids grow up. While on active duty, I saw what the Commissary (the military grocery store) stocked their shelves with, and watched what people put in their carts. I saw what my airmen were bringing to work for snacks or lunches. Heck - I ran the soda fund for my flight, and I know for a fact that the best sellers were any carbonated beverage, any snack made by Little Debbie, and ice cream. (The Apple Streusel Coffee Cakes, Swiss Cake Rolls, and Fudge Brownies were always the #1 sellers). In my defense, I also tried to provide fruit juices, granola bars, string cheese, milk, and fresh fruit. But let me just say that we made a LOT of money selling empty calories and fat.

I also saw how many of airmen were on the weight management program. The program was a truly assinine concept from the get-go, whose inherent problems were compounded by poor administration. At any rate, lots of young men and women lost careers over the fact that they just didn't know how to eat and exercise. And by the time we got to most of them, their habits were just too ingrained to really do much about. (Two notes here. 1) I know there were some people who had other issues - such as the "disparity" between their neck and waist measurements, or health problems which made it difficult for them to lose and/or keep weight off. But the vast majority of the ones I observed started out with poor diet and exercise habits that they couldn't overcome. I can't tell you how many of them got so frustrated that they stopped caring about the career and decided it would be fine to get kicked out - so long as they could eat what they wanted and not have people harping on them about their weight. 2) I would be the last person on earth to argue that anyone has a "right" to a military career.)

I'm not saying my eating habits are perfect. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for any length of time knows that I have one heck of a sweet tooth. And that I can put away junk food with the best of them when I'm under stress. But I don't eat this way all the time. And I try really hard not to instill these eating habits in my kids.

Do we have dessert in my house? Yes. Every night? No. Do we eat fast food from time to time? Yup. But I can't remember when the last time was - probably on the drive out from TVPNM. Unless you count take-out pizza - which we've had exactly twice since we've been here.

The really frustrating thing is that I don't really know how to change things. I see our country's kids on a collision course with serious health problems. I know there's information out there, and parents either aren't aware of it (I don't see how this can be true) or are just choosing to ignore it. Or maybe I only think the information is accessible because I subscribe to several cooking magazines which emphasize healthy eating. I'm also frustrated by the fact that good food is becoming more expensive - meaning that Doritos and Coke become staple foods for people with lower incomes, while whole grain breads, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products become luxuries. Tell me again why we're subsidizing farmers to produce corn (and as a consequence, corn syrup)?

I guess the answer is for me just to set an example for my kids and leave it at that, but somehow that just feels like I'm not willing to be part of the solution. Is it really ok that the rich stay healthy and the sick stay poor?


* I'm not even sure I believe this statement.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Because A Lot of You Seem to Find Me

Looking for information about Pink Eye/Conjunctivitis. Apparently, my multiple posts about the Pink Eye Epidemic of 2005 have put me up toward the top of Google's search list for people looking for relief from eyes glued shut.

Here's the scoop folks: I recently had a mild case of pink eye again. This time I broke down and tried Similasan with very good results. Completely cleared up within 2-3 days. If you're looking for relief without a visit to the doctor, I would give this a shot. I paid about $5 for a bottle - after a $1 off coupon. The prices I see online are quite a bit higher though, so you might end up paying as much as $10.

So there you go. Never say I'm not helpful.

Sell Out

On Average, You Would Sell Out For

At What Price Would You Sell Out?

The Naked Truth

E. McPan has a link up to a story about NDC. The upshot of it is that a guy was arrested after ordering coffee at a drive-through restaurant while naked and masturbating. (I have to give the guy some credit for his ability to multi-task. The story even says he paid with his "unoccupied" hand.)

Now, I had a commander once who was well-known for driving to the Burger King on base in his pajamas to get breakfast for the family on the weekends. At least he had the good sense to wear clothes. He probably would not be a flag officer today if he didn't.

But the story reminded me of another friend, who used to be a paramedic. Years ago, he knew or was dating (I forget the details) a female cop. And apparently, this female cop liked to go driving in her cruiser without her clothes, and she invited my friend to come along. So he did. And they both drove around naked. I don't think there was any sex or masturbation involved (or even coffee), but I still think it's a strange image. And I find myself wondering if she wore her weapon or a hat while driving in the buff.

There was also the story of the Southwest airlines pilots who were fired because it was discovered they liked to fly naked.

I also seem to remember (but can't find an article to post) an Air Force crew who was disciplined when word got out that the ENTIRE crew was in the habit of flying naked.

As I was looking for the link, I discovered that there's a whole airline that's all about flying nude.

I'm starting to think that there's a lot more people out there who are pretty comfortable with their nakedness than you'd guess.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

If You Get A Chance...

Head on over to my good friend E. McPan's place and tell her CONGRATULATIONS! Her bar results came out today and the news was good!

A Broken Rule

The first rule of grocery shopping is, of course: never shop hungry. Did I pay any heed to this rule today? No, I did not.

Mr. Q and I were tentatively supposed to meet in Chinatown for lunch in the hopes of finding someplace fabulous for dim sum. (Any of you DC types know of any?) Alas, he got sucked into serial meetings, so we didn't go. I ended up staying at school for a "Lunch and Learn," but sans the lunch. The upshot of this is that I got home at about 3 and was starving.

And then I went to Whole Foods.

I intended to just grab some Zadjiki (their spelling - I would normally go with "Tzatziki", myself) and a little wedge of Cambozola. But I ended up spending way too much time (and money) in the cheese department. When I first walked into the store, they were giving out samples of brie with fig spread and almonds on little toast rounds. I know it might sound like a strange combination, but it tasted divine!

When I got back to the cheese counter, the guy had to look in back for the Cambozola. Which was fine, because the other gentleman was slicing up samples of Appenzeller, which he insisted I try. Like a mild swiss, but with more of a gouda texture. Of course, I bought some and I can totally see myself sitting down with a little fruit and eating this all in one sitting. And then, because it took a little while to get the Cambozola sliced, I started looking for a nice Brie to try - though I'm not normally a huge fan of Brie (if you get cheap Brie, all you taste is the rind and it tends to be rubbery in texture.) I opted for a small wedge of Fromage d'Affinois. After tasting this, I will never malign Brie again. So yummy. So creamy. I seriously had to restrain myself from eating the whole thing. If you generally like cheese (shocking as it may sound, there are people who don't - I only know because I married one), and you don't think you like Brie because all you've had is the stuff they put out at law school receptions, please go out and try the Affinois. Oh, and if you do opt for any Brie - make sure you let it sit out, since it's supposed to be very soft.

Between all the samples and the cheese I ate when I got home, I didn't have room for the beautiful Italian sandwich I bought. I guess it'll have to wait til tomorrow. I'm sure it'll go nicely with some pita chips and zadjiki.

Completely Unrelated to My Last Post

What is the deal with people who sneeze so loudly that they can be heard on all three floors of the library?

Is it really so difficult to hold it in just a little?

Metro Musings

I'm still kinda new to this whole Metro thing. Even so, there's a couple of things I've noticed so far. While some of these are just general observations, others contain valuable tips for my fellow travelers.

1) Be aware that the time you leave your house will bear approximately ZERO relation to the time you arrive at your destination. For example, the Metro trip planner says it should take me 34 minutes from Home to School. I think I've only made it in that amount of time once. Plan accordingly.

2) Walk Left, Stand Right. One of the fastest way to piss off commuters is to stand on the left side of the escalators, thereby ensuring that NO ONE behind you makes their connecting train. The trains are generally timed very tightly during heavy commute times, and it is not at all unusual for people to exit one train at a full sprint in order to get to their next train. I've never been the guilty party, but I've been one of the people behind them. On more than one occasion. As a corollary to this - if you've got luggage with you - MOVE THE HELL OVER - and allow others to get by! Even though you're coming from/going to the airport, other people still need to get to work/school. Also, for our visiting friends - please don't stop right at the top of the escalators to try to figure out where you are/where you need to be. Seriously - there are days I'd kill you myself if I miss my train because of your dumb, lost ass.

3) Metro stations seem to have the most unreliable escalators EVER. There are always notices of escalator outages, people fixing the escalators, or escalators that are just blocked off. These are usually at busy transfer points. Be prepared to walk some stairs. Quickly.

4) Don't stand on the trains with their backpack/suitcase/small child blocking the doors. Despite the pleasant sounding (but repeated) requests to "please stand clear of the door. Thank you," what that recording is really trying to tell you is "MOVE YOUR ASS OUT OF THE WAY!"

5) Shut up. Just put the damned cell phone away. (If you have Sprint, it won't work on the Metro anyway). No one is interested in one side of your stupid conversation. And ladies, I hate to say it, but you tend to be especially guilty of this one. And you make ALL of us sound so DUMB. For our visiting friends, if you ride Metro in the morning and talk to the people around you, you automatically identify yourself as a tourist. I'm cool with that if you are, but just so you know. If you talk too much though, you risk a nasty death at the hands of your fellow travelers. Which E.Spat can verify was very nearly my MiL's fate…

6) Let's just agree that you have terrible taste in perfume. Don’t wear it.

7) And if you smoke - could you hold off for maybe an hour before enclosing yourself into a small airless space with a couple dozen other people? Kind of like that break between eating and swimming? I and the other couple dozen people thank you in advance.

8) Lots of freaky people and/or people asking for money hang out directly outside Metro stations. The kids collecting for football uniforms, the Marian apparitions people, the people offering "free maps" for a $5 donation, the Lyndon LaRouche crowd. If you don't want to deal with them, remember two rules - DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT and HE WHO HESITATES IS LOST.

9) The trains are full of snazzy dressers. For example, one day I saw a lady wearing a choir robe that had been converted into a dress. It was burgundy. And someone had lovingly sewn lace over it. The lace had either started life the EXACT SAME COLOR or had been dyed to match over it. But the crowning touch was that this celebration of satiny-lacey-burgundy-disaster-in-progress came with a matching HAT! THL would undoubtedly say that "sightings like that are why camera phones were invented," but if you think this white girl is going to snap a photo of an elderly black lady dressed to the nines on the Metro, you are sorely mistaken.

10) Finally, if you really want a seat on the metro - I would recommend trying to get in the front car. My stop is only a few from the end of the line, but is already pretty full when I get on in the mornings. Oddly, there are always seats in the front car. Mainly, I think, because people aren't willing to walk that far down. Of course, once you get into the city, I don't know if that's going to really help you much.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another Reason to Get That iPod...

I saw on one of the actual law blogs* that some law professors are thinking of podcasting their lectures.

The law prof posting this development was skeptical, but I have to admit, I would probably be a fan. Even as I speak type, I have a tape of my Commercial Transactions class from last Friday burning a hole languishing waiting for me in my backpack.

I've already more or less become a Westlaw whore this year in my attempt to earn a free iPod. Not an iPod shuffle, mind you, but a real iPod. With lots of memory and stuff. (Though I hear E.Spat loves her iPod shuffle.) I'm still about 5000 points away, and I'd like to take this opportunity to whine mightily about how chintzy Westlaw is being about the points this year. Whaddya mean I can only play trivia once a day, up to 5 times a week??? And for a measly 2000 points tops? Don't you people realize I'll have to stay in law school an extra year at this rate - and THAT'S if I do all the online certifications and shit too!

Anyway. If any of my law profs would like to start podcasting their lectures and just emailing me the powerpoint slides, I'd be happy to just mail my tuition in. Thanks.

* you know - one of the ones run by a law professor who actually discusses the LAW from time to time. Unlike my random nonsensical babble.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Week in Review

As I mentioned in my (lame) post last night, I've been pretty delinquent in posting lately and feel like I owe some sort of accounting.

Aside from that little Thurs/Fri flu-like symptoms blip, mainly I've just been busy with school stuff.

My Environmental grade is based almost exclusively on a paper. I have to turn in a draft of said paper in just over 2 weeks. I'm not excited about the subject and I really more or less despise the class (which is a shame - because it could be really interesting), so motivating myself to do the research and writing has been something of a chore. Also, word on the street is that this prof never gives out bad grades, so there's not really much incentive. Except that damned internal desire to do a good job.

I have 5 classes on Wednesday - so Tuesdays are spent in large part doing homework. And watching Commander in Chief and Boston Legal. E.Spat was also here last week. Which means we both sat on the couch and made snarky comments about both shows while I diligently attempted my Commercial Transactions reading. (BTW - WHAT is going on with the TIES on Boston Legal? Spader and Shatner have been wearing some truly horrible ones lately.) Oh - and we ate some chocolate cake and ice cream too.

I also had the chance to meet some of E.Spat's friends Wednesday night - as well as be witness to the whole bartender incident. It was fun, but I think I've decided once and for all that I don't really like martinis. They always look so pretty - and then just taste like flavored rubbing alcohol.

As E.Spat left for the airport on Thursday, I went to the Pentagon to have lunch with a friend. My best friend from my first assignment is at the Pentagon now and I've never been there, so we decided to grab lunch there. There's a fairly elaborate security process, and you need 2 forms of picture id just to get in the door. Where you are rewarded with standing in line to go through an airport-like scanner, and then another line to get a truly awful picture taken for a temporary id badge. And then someone has to meet you and agree to walk around with you for the whole time you're there. The weird thing about the Pentagon is that it feels like a huge airport - but the planes never show up. Picture any large terminal. Starbucks, McDonald's and the newstands? Got 'em. The little golf carts that shuttle people from gate to gate? Check. People who will totally run you over if you don't move fast enough? Absolutely. Of course, there's also lots of long hallways with offices, but mostly, it just felt like an airport - but maybe that's because I don't work there. Sadly, lunch was cut short because I started feeling awful.

Aside from working on the dreaded Environmental paper this weekend, I was also a sideline participant in the Great Fireplace Experiment of 2005. Our new house has a wood-burning fireplace. (This is something of a novelty as TVPNM house had a gas fireplace - which didn't get used all that often because it was so LOUD.) The house even came with firewood - and I LOVE fires!!! But I have never built a fire, so I let Mr. Q and EC take the lead. They went through an elaborate process of rolling up newspaper, adding kindling, and selecting a medium sized log that would be "just right". This took a long time. Finally, it was time to light the fire. Within minutes, the whole middle floor of the house was filled with smoke and the smoke detectors started going off. It was at about this point I asked if he'd opened the damper - to which he responded that he couldn't find it. I do know enough about fireplaces to have an idea where this is - and showed him. I also discovered at this point that he had never built an INDOOR fire in a regular fireplace before - only his parent's wood-burning stove. At any rate, the whole house now has a campfire aroma to it, which I'm frantically trying to air out before it gets too cold to open windows. Mr. Q tried again on Sunday night, with similar results, so I think there may be something wrong with the fireplace. Consider the Great Fireplace Experiment of 2005 an ABJECT FAILURE. We probably won't be attempting it again - unless anyone has any good ideas as to 1) what went wrong, and 2) how to avoid future bouts of smoke-inhalation.

There was a lot of baseball watching last week. Hooray for the White Sox! There's also been a lot of movie watching this past week, and I think Lil Q may be permanently scarred. For the record, she did not enjoy Ghostbusters at all and told us we should "take back to library. People watch it. NOT Lil Q. I no like scary movies." She didn't think much of the X-Files either. Finally, on Sunday, the poor kid got to exercise her voice in the movie selection. She spotted Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the shelves and asked Mr. Q to "Please daddy, get for me? I watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Make Lil Q HAPPEEEEE!" How could he say no?

So that's what I've been up to. I've also been batting around a couple of other posts in my head. Maybe at some point I'll get around to putting them on paper. For now, back to Commercial Trans...