Jim's Polka

The life of a former software engineer, now a law student

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Food Blogging

I don't know that I'd consider myself a "foodie", but D and I definitely appreciate good food. We've had a few excellent meals over the years, mostly for special occasions. Some of the best in DC were Vidalia, Kinkead's, Colvin Run Tavern and 2941. The best meal I've ever had (and the most expensive) was at Galileo.

So, one problem of being in a new city has been figuring out where the really good places to eat are. (The other problem has been having less money to spend on food cuz of that whole tuition thing.) In the last few days, I've come across a few blogs that are helpful in that area. First, Venkat at Begging to Differ (which I already read) posted some of his favorite places in town. Then, I found Seattle Bon Vivant. I think I've gotten more good restaurant recommendations from there in the last day than any other time since we got here. Particularly nice is that they both seem to live fairly near me, so their idea of where to go matches up with what I'm willing to go to. (As opposed to driving way south to go to the dim sum place my in-laws took us to last summer.)

As a special bonus, a new restaurant just opened around the corner from us. I read about them last week in one of the alternative papers and thought "Hey, that address looks familiar..." They're already on my good side because they made their next door neighbor tear down this building that was a blight on the whole neighborhood. Anyway, they had a little open house last Saturday where they gave out free samples of their appetizers. If they're able to maintain that level of quality we got there, I think they'll do ok. It's too expensive to be a regular thing, but it could be good for a special treat.

If you're a competent cook with grand pretensions (like me), you might want to try the recipe I made for D for Valentine's Day - Baked Scallops and Seared Beef Tournedos with Artichoke Hearts and Asparagus Tips. It was probably the best meal I've ever made and it's definitely proof that better ingredients make for better-tasting food.

Mmmm.... now I'm hungry...

Monday, February 21, 2005

I'll Bet Someone Else Could Do Better At This

I've now seen this on two different blogs, so it must be a meme.

10 Things I've Done That You Haven't*

1. Been in a plane that got struck by lightning.
2. Gotten a song named after me.
3. Flown thousands of miles to go to a ballroom dance camp.
4. Slept a night on the National Mall. (And it rained......)
5. Kept a doctor alive and healthy.
6. Thrown a couch halfway out an eighth-floor window.
7. Been the first foreigner ever to come to a small Japanese mountain town. (Or so they told me. This one may not be true.)
8. Talked so much my jaw hurt.
9. Celebrated the 4th of July with a rijstafel in Amsterdam
10. Done a flip at my wedding reception.

* Unless you're my brother, who was there for a couple of these.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Negotiation Competition

We just finished the second night of the negotiation competition. I definitely enjoyed it more than the mediation competition back in the fall, but I'm still pretty drained from the whole thing.

We were given the scenario for our side about two weeks ago. On Monday, they assigned us the team that we'd be negotiating with. Yesterday and today we had negotiation sessions. Now, we have to write a contract by Tuesday. Half of our score comes from the negotiation and half comes from the contract. At this point, I don't care all that much, though. I achieved my main goal of the event, which was to just do a good job. Anything beyond that would be a bonus, but not expected. I'm happy to say that my partnership with E worked out very well, so hopefully she'll be interested in teaming up for the appellate argument competition in the spring.

I discovered that I'm pretty good at what I think of as the soft skills. I did a pretty good job of keeping the parties talking and keeping the negotiations moving when it looked like we were near an impasse. On the other hand, I'm not a very good hard-ass. I was just way too wishy-washy when it came to pushing hard on particular terms. E did a much better job with that part.

Oh, and I think LQ saw firsthand proof that some in the 1L class need to learn how to dress up right for these things. She's a nice person, but the fishnets were probably not the best way to go.

Bundle of Links

Bollywood for the Skeptical - for those of you who enjoy a good dance number, even if it seems completely unrelated to the story. (via BoingBoing)

The 10 Geekiest Hobbies - at my old job, we figured that LARPing (Live Action Role-Playing) was the geekiest activity of all time. It was nice, because you always knew that no matter what you were doing, there was someone out there doing something geekier. This list confirms that for us. (can't remember where I found this)

The Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager - graphs the popularity of any name over the last hundred years or so. Apparently, it's been downhill for Jims since the 1940s. (via GeekPress)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Two Great Lawyers

One of my biggest regrets about working before law school is that my grandfather died before I started. I'm named after him and I always felt a special connection with him because of that (although my brother is more like he was, personality-wise). He died 4 years ago today. It feels wrong to be sad when someone dies at age 82, but I think the world is worse off without him. As I go through this year, I've been thinking about how much I learned from him about being a lawyer and a person.

He was a trial court judge for a decade before he reached the mandatory retirement age. Six hundred people came to his retirement dinner and every one of them loved him. After he retired, he kept working 3 days a week in the settlement court. He used to tell us (me and my siblings) about the cases that he'd heard and ask what we would have done in his place. He never let us take the easy way out, either. He understood the defendant's side as well as the plaintiff's and he made sure that we were thinking about fairness and justice for both sides.

The local paper did a great obituary about him that I've used my handy Lexis access to read again. It was a good reminder of some things I'd forgotten and some things that I wasn't around for. It reminded me that during his time in private practice, he was a constant trial to my grandmother because he didn't bill his clients everything they owed. If he thought they needed a break, he never hesitated to give him one. It also reminded me of something he used to say: "A lawyer needs one of these to be a success: integrity, intelligence and industry. But to be a great lawyer, he needs all three." I'm trying my best to to live up to that. But, sometimes I wish he were here to talk about school.

He was also a huge Maryland basketball fan, so he would have been thrilled about today.

The other great lawyer is my dad. Today is his birthday. He's given me an idea of how to follow in my grandfather's footsteps. He didn't push any of us to become lawyers. All he wanted was for us to take some time off after undergrad to be real people for a while. When I told him a couple years ago that I was going to apply to law school, he was thrilled, but he was also happy that I hadn't defaulted into it. He didn't figure out what kind of lawyer to be until a couple years after graduation, but once he found it, he became an expert in the field. (Actually, one of his friends describes him as "the world's foremost authority on everything". I think I'm headed that way, too. :-) )

So, either I have a lot to live up to or I have a lot to inspire me. On most days, it's a little bit of both. Lucky for me, I'm going to need a little bit of inspiration to get me through the next week or two.