Saturday, March 31, 2012

My office!

Hey! I finally put things on my walls in my office!

The giant wall of certificates (taken from my desk chair)
My Alabama Bar certificate (fingers crossed) will go on the right 

On the left is the door, don't mind the trash on the floor.
(Mom - this is the wall space I set aside)

My desk (the only real change is that I moved the bookcase and put up two of my Monet prints
(note the calendar on the left :-))

And this is the cleanest my office will likely be for another 6 months

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Obamacare and the Supreme Court

Update: if you're looking for good (nerdy) info - SCOTUS Blog is a good place to start:
They have audio and transcript from oral argument, which began today.

A big news story today is the second anniversary of the signing of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. Obviously there was vigorous debate, and many people disagree with the individual mandate. And what do people in our country do when we don't like something? Sue!

Regardless of your (or my) opinion, as a lawyer, I'm really excited for oral argument to take place, but my reasons actually have almost nothing to do with the law itself, but rather a certain constitutional law question that the Supreme Court justices seem determined to not give us a straight answer to.

According to the Constitution (and not the one that says that Obama is not a citizen, or any "constitution" that a tea party fanatic likes to cite, because they are almost always wrong), Congress is allowed to pass laws that regulate "interstate commerce." And after all this time, we still do not know what the heck that means. On the one hand, medical marijuana sold only in California affects interstate commerce, on the other hand, the presence of guns near schools, or physical violence against women, doesn't. And the basis for the healthcare law is this commerce clause. So it will give the justices another opportunity to set forth clear rules about what exactly Congress can and cannot regulate. Historically the courts have struggled with the question of how much can Congress regulate, and how much it should save for the states to decide. As much as that is a political question, it is also very much a constitutional, interpretive and scholarly question that many of us law types get excited about.

You should also keep in mind that whenever the Supreme Court hears a case, they have the right and the opportunity to create new law. Of course that is discouraged politically, but justices on both sides of the aisle do it, and sometimes it is simply necessary, because the older rules simply don't work in today's society. So as much as people can make informed predictions, and as much as the parties can cite precedent, 5 people can agree to do what they want.

The irony is, after all of this hype, the court might not even get to the constitutional question because of the Anti-Injunction Act, which, if applied to this case, would mean that the insurance mandate would have to take effect before anyone can sue under it, and it would delay the ultimate question until 2014. Stay tuned!

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The Hunger Games

One of these days I'll have to make a list of the movies I've seen at midnight. It's getting quite long (Harry Potter, Spiderman, Pirates, X-Files 2, more Harry Potter).

I saw Hunger Games last night - I think it's the first movie I've seen since moving to Alabama.  I saw it at this cool 100-year old theater in downtown Mobile called the Crescent, where they serve beer and wine in addition to the typical popcorn and candy and the owner talks about the movie before he begins the screening (for this one he talked about how it's getting great reviews, unlike Twilight).

The movie was great (I loved the book), but I'm too tired to go into it more than that for now except to say that the casting was actually quite brilliant, and it was definitely worth the fatigue this morning.

Have a good weekend! Curtis gets back tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Since I'm not on Facebook...

This is where you get to hear me rant about the Second Amendment.

I don't hate it.  In fact, I think, given the atmosphere in which we ratified the Bill of Rights, it was necessary.  And, it's so ingrained in our culture that, like the First Amendment, it will never go away, and probably should not go away.

But as I often tell my friends and family, I'm not a fan of the Second Amendment. I'm a fan of the 14th amendment, that gives equal protection of the law to everyone.  I'm a fan of the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech and religion), and it's strange to me that in Western Europe, you can be arrested for something you say.  I LOVE the fourth and fifth amendment, which prevent unreasonable searches and seizures by the police, and give you a fair(er) trial.  I just think that the Second Amendment, of all the Amendments, is completely overemphasized (by the NRA, I'm not afraid to say), and people spend way too much time defending it, as compared to other rights that we have in this country.

And stories like the Treyvon Martin killing murder always leave me preoccupied with this issue. If you're not aware, Treyvon Martin was a 17 year old, who was staying at his dad's house in a nice neighborhood in Florida, when he walked to the store to get some snacks, and as he was walking back the captain of the neighborhood watch shot him dead.  Treyvon was unarmed (unless you want to count the skittles he was carrying), and being followed by this watch captain, who called 911 to report a "suspicious kid" (as he had done several times before).  The 911 dispatcher told this guy not to follow the kid, and he did it anyway (how do we know? the kid was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone for part of this, saying "this guy is following me").  I haven't heard the 911 call, because I know that it will disturb me even more than this case already does.

In Florida (and Alabama and several other states), you do not have an obligation to retreat when you feel under threat.  And you even have the right to respond disproportionally to the threat, so if someone is coming at you with a fist, you can legally shoot him.  That is why there is speculation that this shooter will not be convicted of murder, if he can convince a jury that he was reasonably threatened (hey, Casey Anthony got off, he could too).

But setting that aside, as well as the obvious racial element here (a black kid in a hoodie in a nice neighborhood is OBVIOUSLY a threat), can we talk about guns?

Why is this dude allowed to walk around a family neighborhood carrying a handgun?  We care about the right to have a gun so much that in some states you can have them anywhere.  That is absurd to me.  Gang members can carry guns, drug dealers can carry guns, people with mental illness can carry guns, and the neighborhood vigilante who thinks he knows how to protect the neighborhood and ends up killing an innocent kid, can carry a gun.  I don't understand how we tolerate this as a society, how our values are so twisted that we want to protect our "FREEDOM" before we protect the safety of our kids and our community.

I once had a discussion with a friend from law school about the 2nd amendment.  He said that perhaps people are so passionate about it because they feel it is the most under attack.  I see cases like this and I beg to disagree. The additional irony is how many 2nd amendment folks also feel so strongly about the "sanctity of life," and yet fight so hard to be able to carry a gun, which I am willing to bet kills more people every year than abortion. It just feels so upside down to me.

There is such a thing as responsible gun ownership, but walking around your neighborhood with a gun ready to shoot anyone is not that.  This is why we need regulation and why the right to "bear arms" should not be unrestricted.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How have I been exercising lately?

Some of you may be curious abut my workout regimen, now that I'm in a weight-loss process.  Especially given the fact that I was diligently recording my Jillian Michaels workouts last year.

Well, I can't do as many of those videos these days, because of our neighbor downstairs.  I may speak on that in a separate blog post later, but we are so annoyed with her, it's hard to put it into words (hint: she's a nurse that thinks that everyone else should be quiet during the day while she's sleeping). So, once a week or so, Curtis and I look out the window, see that her car is gone, and put in a video.  

I actually just got a new JM Video - Kickbox Fastfix.  Curtis wasn't crazy about the kickboxing, but I loved the fact that it is only 20 minutes (from warmup to cooldown), and gets you a decent sweat.  Each workout on the video focuses on a muscle area, one lower body, one upper body, and one abs.  I've only done the abs so far but am looking forward to trying the other workouts, tomorrow perhaps. 

The other days of the week, we go to the gym. 

Thankfully, our gym has 5 cardio machines, and it isn't hard to get a free treadmill, which is both of our workout of choice for the moment.  I am focusing on decreasing my 2 mile time.  I try to go 4-5 days a week (this week I went Monday-Wednesday, and tonight (Friday), and plan to go a lot more while Curtis is away). 

I don't exactly remember where I started, generally anything under 28 minutes (for two miles) I'm happy with.  But the last two times I attempted it I was able to get just over 25 minutes, or 12:30/mi.  I'm quite pleased with that. I'll likely try to keep under that time, and then do another push in a few weeks after I've lost a little more weight. Running has always been something difficult for me, and it's nice to have a good routine and something that I now look forward to. I have ideas of a half marathon next year on the horizon, but right now I really need to focus on getting into a healthy weight range, and I still have a long way to go.

The other issue is injury management and prevention.  I'm trying to go easy on the treadmill because often it doesn't take long for things to go wrong.  I'm a little concerned about shin splints, as well as my right Achilles ankle. Tonight for example I walked the two miles instead of running/walking them, so that I can do some speed over the weekend hopefully without straining it.  I don't mind the daily aches and pains (well, I do actually, but the alternative of not exercising isn't great either), but I've been lucky to avoid major injury so far and I'd like that to continue while I'm losing weight, since exercising is a crucial physical and emotional component of my life.

I'm also considering joining a local crossfit gym for a segment of my weight loss. It's expensive, and I think if I do it I'd only commit to 6 weeks at first, it's open Monday-Friday for classes that I can go to after work.  I'm trying to decide when to start, probably mid-April at the latest, otherwise I'll have to wait until after summer, since I have a lot of after-work summer events at the firm this summer. But it is something that I have at the back of my mind. Right now it's just nice to regain a running stride and have my clothes fit better.

I weigh-in tomorrow morning and am hoping for a good loss! Will update my sidebar after I find out.  

The Kenny and Christine Show

Curtis is on his way to Hamburg, Germany, for at least the next week for work. He is scheduled to return next Friday, but they might have him stay another 5 days. He got his new iPad from UPS literally minutes before he had to leave for the airport, so that was exciting.

Kenny and I have many walks planned, including a trip to the Fairhope art fair. He is getting groomed tomorrow, so I'll make sure to post before and after, that's always fun. We're due for beautiful weather so I'm excited to be outside. And there's this whole March Madness thing going on that I love to watch, so I think we'll survive without Daddy (but just barely).

Have a good weekend!

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Being without Facebook for Lent has actually been an interesting study on how I and my friends depend on it.  I have had to jump back on my account for information a few times so far.  Each time, I promptly go on, find the information I'm looking for, look at a few news feed items (I can't help it), then re-deactivate my account.

The first time, I was looking for someone's contact information for a family member, someone I didn't know but I thought I might find on Facebook.   I've had at least one person ask Curtis where I went.  Just today, I wanted to make sure that someone hadn't put something on Facebook before I contacted them.  It's hard when you're so active on Facebook - friends (including me) depend on the information that is there.  It's just assumed that when you post something, all of your friends find out about it.  I've had to tell at least one friend to make sure to email me when something big happens in their life (today - medical residencies are announced) - because I won't find out on Facebook.

Aside from that, I actually haven't missed it much.  I don't yearn for the information - I continue to get the news I'm interested in on Twitter.  But I'm looking forward to my return so I can see everyone's baby pictures and other family news. I'm looking forward to sharing pictures from Juls' wedding and seeing the other pictures people post. And I'm looking forward again to being able to share my own commentary on current events and discuss these issues (serious and silly) with my friends.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alabama Voting and Politics

In case you were actually born yesterday, you should know that Alabama is not politically similar to California...

First, the voting experience. I arrived at Rockwell Elementary, just down the street from my house, and was immediately asked by the ladies checking me in after I gave them my ID, "how did you find yourself in Alabama from California??"  I explained that we got jobs here, yada yada yada.

Then, I was asked if I wanted a Republican or Democrat ballot. In Alabama you don't register with a party, but rather choose a party when you show up to vote (one of the few things about Alabama politics that I like).  But the way they asked me was funny, it was like "Republican. Or, Democrat?" as if they knew that everyone was voting Republican (anyone who votes with a Democratic ballot shouldn't even show up, all the candidates, left or right, except for Obama for President, run as Republicans).

Then I sat down at a table, with these wooden dividers to make sure we had "privacy", and I stared at my ballot for about 3 minutes to figure out what I was supposed to do (it was one of those where you have to draw the line from the arrow to the box of each candidate you want, at least that's what I hope the instructions meant). I then waited in line to put my ballot through an optical scanner that looked like it was lucky to have survived the 70's.  Then of course I got my sticker and was excited that I had just voted for the first time in a place like Alabama, for republicans.

Turning to the results, some folks in the office here felt ashamed that our state went for Santorum.  Thankfully it's proportional so he didn't actually gain any ground on Romney (the only sane electable one I think is still in the race, who won Mobile County).  But the bigger news is that the Republican winner for Chief Judge of the Alabama Supreme Court is crazy. And, the "democrat" (who isn't really) that will run against him in November is just as, if not more, crazy.  Here's what he said about undocumented immigrants:

[Harry] Lyon said if elected, he would sponsor a law to get all illegal immigrants out of the state within 90 days, or be hanged in public. “It would only take five or 10 getting killed and broadcast on CNN for it to send a clear message to not set foot in Alabama,” said Lyon, a Pelham lawyer. “Anybody that breaks into my home is a threat to my life. I remember the Alamo.”

So there is quite a bit of concern among the lawyers here about the state of our judicial system.  If I wasn't already careful about not finding myself on the wrong side of the law, I am now. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pinterest Update

I just took down my Pinterest site.

Why? In the craze of it all, I hadn't considered the Copyright ramifications.  Pinterest is a great idea, but the reality of it is, there is no control over what happens to the photos you upload, and you have to be very careful about violating copyright law.  Without saying what I had put up there, I'm not sure that I had legal permission to pin or re-pin ANYTHING, and could have been sued by any number of people for what I re-pinned.

And when you sign up, the site tells you that they will not be responsible for any kind of liability, and that if they get sued because of something you pin, you have to pay for their legal defense.

So, to my friends, please be careful about what you Pin on that site, that you actually have permission to share any photos you upload, and that the photos you re-pin are also posted with permission.  Or, be like me and get off the site or just become a passive observer.

I may be overly paranoid, but:
1. I am a lawyer, so this is kinda in my wheelhouse and we're naturally paranoid AND cynical.*
2. I read a few articles that convinced me. See Here and Here if you're interested.

*Note that this blog does not constitute legal advice!  (I know it's silly but I have to say it)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St Patrick's Day in New Orleans

I drove to New Orleans and back today to spend the day with my good friend Samantha (who was in town from Montreal) and her mom. We started the day by going to church at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church in New Orleans, a beautiful old church that had sustained 5 million dollars in damages from Katrina but had since rebuilt, and is a beautiful facility.

After church we headed over to a crawfish boil! Yes I tried it but it was just okay - I'm not a big fan of seeing the eyes on my food before I eat it. But the location was perfect - it was located along the St Patrick's day parade route! So we spent some time catching throws of course. Here are the pics!

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

The view from my room

I had a firm retreat just east of Destin, FL this weekend. It rained all day yesterday, but I woke up to this today:

More to come:-)

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