Friday, December 31, 2004

"[A]sk for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man."

Look for me tonight and you shall find me either: (a) at a party, drinking rather heavily, or (b) passed out in my apartment somewhere. I would say "passed out in my bed" except there's no guarantee I'll make it that far, especially since my couch and floor are both quite comfortable. (Though one is certainly cleaner than the other. The couch, damnit!)

Happy New Year's!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sexy Beverage Container Designs

CNN: So much for the school milk carton -- Children drink more out of bottles, so schools switching. The punchline?
Several years ago the milk industry decided its boxes were not visually competitive when sold alongside the relatively sexy bottles of juice and soda increasingly common in schools.
I think the writer or editor who chose that adjective should be fired. Or lauded. It's an even split. (A sexy split!)

Rest in Peace Detective Briscoe

Actor Jerry Orbach, best known for his long-running role as New York police detective Lennie Briscoe on "Law & Order," died of prostate cancer Tuesday night. (Excellent CNN article.)

I'm not a huge L&O fan but Orbach was a good actor. As the CNN piece so aptly explained:
"Law & Order" and its spinoffs are all filmed in New York, and Orbach was so identified with the city that he was declared a "living landmark" by the New York Landmark Conservancy in 2002.
Farewell Detective Briscoe, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Quick WoW Note

That's World of Warcraft for the absent-minded.

My character is now up to level 39.3 and 210 Blacksmithing. This means in approximately 0.7 levels (or 55k exp) he will get a horse, a host of upgrades to his spells and abilities, the chance to select either Weaponcrafting or Armorcrafting and the ability to wear plate armor. Truly exciting.

For the record, whatever record or phonograph that may be, I'm reporting my character's (or characters') progression more for myself than anyone else. It's kind of neat to be able to look back and say, gee, he rose 10 levels in the past 8 days.

Ciabata, ciabata everywhere and not a drop to drink!

Lunch today: Bologna on Ciabata vs. Smoked Turkey on Baguette. In my opinion, smoked turkey beats out bologna any day of the week. Even Mondays. However, ciabata beats out baguette likewise. So the question comes down to which is more important, the meat or the bread? Which will be the deciding factor that dictates which sandwich I consume?

Today, the ciabata won. That's not to say it will always win in such circumstances, though I give it the odds-on favorite over the meat distinction. Rather, I found I would willingly suffer the bologna since it came with the ciabata which in and of itself would be quite tasty and scrumptious. 'Lo and behold, the ciabata lived up to its name and provided a tasty counterpoint to the mildly-nauseating bologna. In fact, it performed so well that at some point I opted to finish the bread while leaving the remaining meat, lettuce and tomato uneaten. In an interesting twist, the bottom piece of bread, the one upon which the bologna had been directly resting, retained a hint of the bologna flavor. While I did not enjoy the hint of a taste, even finding it disconcerting at first, I appreciated its presence and wondered if there might not be a market for meat-flavored bread products. Nothing too strong or overwhelming, just a mild hint of a suggestion of a certain noteable meat-flavor. (But preferably not bologna.)

Also, I wonder what the etymology of the the word "bologna" is. After consulting a "knowledgeable dictionary," I learned a few things. "Bologna" is pronounced similar to "baloney" and the latter may be considered a variation on the former. In addition, apparently there is a city in Italy named "Bologna" and apparently pronounced similarly. (Though foreign pronounciation, at least of Italian words, is beyond my knowledge and honest capability.) Curious. I wonder if the meat "bologna" isn't originally from Bologna, Italy or tied to it in some manner. Also, I wonder where "bologna" devolved to the "slang" term "baloney." I assume it occurred on this side of the Atlantic as part of some ritualistic American bastardization ceremony. So many questions and so few answers, especially as I am currently reluctant to troll the internet and Google for information.

Still, it was one tasty sandwich largely due to the ciabata. When in doubt, I say go for the ciabata and never look back.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

"It's the time of the season..."

"...for loving." While that has nothing to do with the topic of this post, it came to mind.

I like winter. I'm not such a huge fan of "the holiday season." Why? Well for one, I'm Jewish. That is, I don't celebrate Christmas. Never have. So "everyone" getting in a tense uproar about the upcoming long weekend and Christmas shopping and the like means absolutely nothing to me (other than possibly the long weekend). In addition, though I often don't mind Christmas songs, they do tend to grate on me after a while. As does the impression that I dare not set foot within a few miles of any mall since they are bound to be overwhelmed and utterly obnoxious. It all combines into one mishmash of loathing. I don't get togther with relatives. I don't sit around a Christmas tree opening presents. I don't enjoy a huge, family-based Christmas dinner. I don't roast chestnuts by the warmth of an open fire. I also don't resent any of that but if that's what the holiday season means to the majority of Chirstmas-observers, understand that it means absolutely none of that to me.

Channukah (my preferred spelling) was always a fun time at home. Since the time I went to college, though, it's become less-observed as finals tend to inevitable run into the observance/celebration, meaning I almost never observe or celebrate it. Again, I don't resent that, it just translates to the month of December holding less meaning for me other than the end of the semester.

Likewise for New Years. Like Valentine's Day, I can't think of a single New Years in which I actually and thoroughly celebrated and enjoyed the holiday. Very few of them have I drunk much if at all. Very few of them have I spent in the company of people other than family members. Very few of them have I actually enjoyed. The vast majority of the time, it's been something like "okay, yay, it's the next year. I saw the ball drop, guess I can go to sleep sometime in the next hour or so." Seriously. Hell, one of the few I remember is the one from 2001 --> 2002 and that's because I spent it playing Dark Age of Camelot (an MMORPG) on my computer! And the reason I remember it is because a box popped up wishing me a happy New Year from the game operators! If that's my most memorable New Years, you can tell I haven't truly been celebrating them.

Yes, I know I could probably really celebrate New Years if I wanted to. Go out and find a party, have a party, hit a bar, do something. But I've never truly felt the push to do so. Bars generally aren't my scene as I'd prefer being with friends and people I know. And then, most of them have their own plans for New Years that generally don't include me. To quote Calvin & Hobbes: "It's a vicious cycle that took years to perfect."

All of the above is also not to say that I get depressed or down-trodden this time of year. I don't. It's nice to have a festive atmosphere on the air and people generally happy and/or content for a while. Both are rare occasions and I appreciate the generally positive sensation that overrides most things. It's nice. It's also infectious. And that's probably why I don't get depressed or despondent. I mean it's Christmas time and New Years and all that. How could anyone get too upset? (Especially since the semester is over and we have at least 3 weeks until the next begins.)

So in this festive time and merry atmosphere..

I wish everyone a very merry and happy holidays!

Judge Halts Guilty Plea in Anti-Spam Law Case

Judge questions anti-spam law:
Judge halts guilty plea by ex-AOL employee who sold e-mail addresses, questions new anti-spam law.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge has refused to accept a guilty plea from a former America Online employee accused of selling the Internet provider's customer list to a "spammer," saying he was unsure a crime had been committed.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein stopped a Tuesday hearing at which Jason Smathers was to plead guilty to conspiracy and interstate trafficking of stolen property, saying he had a "technical question" about the alleged crime.

At issue, the judge said, is whether the actions rose to the level required by a new anti-spam law, which states that spam must be not only annoying but deceptive.
The case by federal prosecutors charges that Smathers, of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, stole a list of 92 million customer screen names from AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc. (Research), and sold it to an Internet marketer. CNN/Money also is a unit of Time Warner.

The marketer then allegedly used the list to promote his online gambling operation and sold the names to other spammers, according to prosecutors.

Smathers, 24, faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and interstate trafficking of stolen property, but was expected to receive a sentence closer to 18 to 24 months.

After the hearing was unexpectedly cut short, an attorney for Smathers said "everything has been thrown open now" by the judge's refusal to accept his client's plea.

"This is a new statute," the attorney, Jay Goldberg, said. "He is questioning whether the conduct here met the standard of deception."
I iwsh had time right now to research this case a bit more. I'd like to know what exactly the statute says, especially with regards to deception. If the anti-spam law only tackles deceptive spam, in my opinion that ignores the vast majority of spam, which is not deceptive in its subject line. If I did explore and learn a bit more, I could comment on the Judge's position because, based on this unsupported article, it seems a bit fishy.


Chia: The ultimate cult holiday gift.
Over the past two decades, the Chia Pet has grown beyond its marketer's expectations to become a classic kitsch gift.

The company began marketing Chia Pets -- the Chia Ram was the first -- around Christmas 1982 after purchasing a variation from a man who happened upon the idea in Mexico, said Michael Hirsch, vice president of Joseph Enterprises Inc.

The company kept the trademark name, but revamped the product and packaging and began advertising on television. The hokey "Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia" spot shows children applying the seed mixture to the terra cotta planter.
"I can remember specifically when Chia Pets came out on the market," he said. "We thought they were so cheesy that they were cool," he said.

New Chia products are added every couple of years and there are about a dozen varieties, including Shrek, Scooby-Doo, an assortment of animals and an herb garden.
This article actually made me want to run out and find a chia-thing of my own. I can't grow anything. At the moment, I inherently dislike anything which would require attention and time on my part in order to grow or live. This includes but is not limited to: plant life, fish and other animal life. Seriously. If its life is dependent on me providing it something on a regular basis, no thank you. But a chia-something could work. I could probably handle watering it and watching it sprout growth-like green things. Heck, I have old bread products and old oranges that have sprouted green growths, why not do it deliberately?

So maybe I'll look around online and order one online. Sit it on the ledge over my couch maybe. Who knows, the possibilities are endless!

Also, I was contemplating chia-things one may not expect to hit the market any time soon. After discarding the first few which were far too uncouth to put into print, I put the list on hold pending some time to sit and thing about it at greater length. There may be a follow-up post involved at some near time in the future.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Gilligan Strikes Again!

I'm watching the season finale of The Real Gilligan's Island on TBS while I wait for the WoW Update download to finish. (Only 2% more to go!) This reality show is like a train wreck. You know it's going to be bad and you know you shouldn't be watching yet you can't seem to peel your eyes off it. I'd say the only redeeming feature of the show is Mary Anne Kate. (And that's because Movie Star Rachel Hunter was voted off last episode. By the way, what the Hell was Rachel Hunter doing on a reality show?!? She's a model/movie actress for cryin' out loud! Then again, the same could be said for Movie Star Nicole Eggert.)

Anyways, the WoW download will hopefully finish soon. It's only been downloading for 2.5 hours now.

WoW Patched

After surfacing from my brief nap, I learned that WoW has been patched. (Patch notes here.) I know this probably doesn't mean too much to any of you but from my perspective it's nice to see. A little over one month since release and Blizzard is obviously hard at work fixing broken things and balancing others. Rather encouraging. The one item notably missing, however, is a fix to the 20th level Paladin quest. (One of the early NPCs doesn't, or didn't, respawn when a Paladin strayed too far from the NPC.) Anyways, hopefully Blizzard fixes (or has fixed) that particular bug.

Btw, I'm downloading this 39.31 MB patch at record-breaking speed: 6-8 k/s. Note that I have a cable modem capable of speeds up to at least 360 k/s. Yeah, I'll be downloading this patch for the next.. few hours or so. ::sigh::

The Aftermath

Well, that's it! Crim. Pro. is over. The final felt easy which means one of two things: (1) It was easy. (2) It wasn't easy and I missed the parts that weren't. Only grades will tell.

By the way, ever feel like you're in a zombie movie? No, not as the gun-wielding hero but.. as a zombie? I feel rather like a zombie today. Usually such sensations stem from a lack of sleep the previous night. Today is no different. After lunch at The Half Door with a friend, I believe I shall retire to my apartment and hibernate a bit.

The Morning

I read (perused?) the entire Crim. Pro. E&E (Examples & Explanations book, for the laymen) in about 2.5 hours (including two 5-10 min. breaks to pause and watch brief portions of The Chronicles of Riddick).

I currently have a mild cold/the flu. This is to be easily distinguished from my previous bout with a viral infection. Nonetheless, this morning I feel like crap warmed over. Not death, just crap. This does not bode well for my exam though I am hopeful.

'Lo and behold, I have the book (Laurell K. Hamilton's Blue Moon) I was seeking. Considering the current disorganized state of my apartment, it's a minor miracle that I found the book before purchasing a second copy of it.

I go now to watch more Riddick, eat breakfast, shower, shave and pray (not necessarily in that order).

More Ideas

Bad Idea: Not studying more for my Crim. Pro. Final which, as is ever the case, is tomorrow morning at 9am. Should be fun. Fortunately it's my last exam for the semester though I still have 1-2 papers outstanding.

Bad Idea: Not wearing gloves or a hat when I went out in the afternoon. My car said it was 12 degrees outside but I'm sure the +10 mph wind brought that number to single digits if not lower. Oh joy for a winterous wonderland. But only if I don't have to drive in it.

Bad Idea: Finishing my book instead of studying more for Crim. Pro. I'm hooked on Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Just finished Burnt Offerings only to learn I'm missing the next in the series (but not the three after that). Guess I'll be hitting a bookstore tomorrow.

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's a bit chilly outside.

Bad Idea: Clearing the two inches of snow off my car while wearing boat shoes.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Of Bus. Org. and Cars

Just got back from the exam. Wasn't too bad. I'm pretty sure I did okay on it.

Excellent! 'Wayne's World' car for sale.
The Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Ill., is auctioning off about 100 items, including 25 to 30 cars, from its collection in order to make room for new exhibits.
Apparently there are some other, actually decent cars for sale too:
Besides the robin's-egg blue Pacer with a "flame job" on the front fenders, the museum will also be selling a 1951 Studebaker painted to portray a Gotham City police car for the "Batman" movie series, the Gadget Mobile from the movie "Inspector Gadget" and a wrecked 1970 Dodge Charger used in 2001's "The Fast and the Furious."
The most valuable item to be auctioned is a prototype Shelby GT-500 convertible Mustang once owned by race driver and engineer Carroll Shelby. The museum is asking $1.2 million for that car.
::Sigh:: If only my bank account could withstand the hit...

"Where we're going, we don't need roads."

Rather quickly because I'm so far out of time that it's like I've gone back to the future.

Business Organizations Final in about an hour. Am I prepared? Hehe. Yeah, that's all you get as an answer to that one.

My Criminal Procedure Final is next Tuesday morning. My plan is to read the relevant portions of Examples & Explanation. If I can do that, I may be able to handle that final.

Fortunately there are no other finals for me. Unfortunately, I have a long-term paper for Forensics to deal with. (Not to mention the unfinished Special Research Project that never quite got off the ground.)

But enough. Time to study for 20 more minutes then go face an exam that will be slightly less than fun.

Oh yeah, my WoW Paladin is now at level 31 with 160 Blacksmithing. Whoo boy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Acht! It's cold!

Yesterday: Low 40's.

Today: Mid-20's but with wind it feels like mid-teens.

Can anyone explain this to me?

Browser Security Article

Who Profits from Security Holes? -- an article from Benjamin Edelman. Worth a quick read, as is his site.

It's like there's a party in my mouth!

During my grocery shopping yesterday, I snagged some "Entenmann's Donut Shoppe Glazed Popems." They closely resemble glazed hole-like donut creations of a coffee shop who's name might perchance rhyme with "Punkin' Hoenuts." (I'm just saying.) Good lord these things are good. And addictive. And tasty. And good. Seriously, it's like there's a party in my mouth. Just concentrated goodness. And I think it's time for another.


In response to my preceding post of about an hour ago, no. In the month of November, no Federal Court handed down an interesting decision relating to Intellectual Property. Zilch, zip, none, nada, ain't happenin'. What does this mean? I won't feel so bad for preparing a moderately-uninteresting presentation since there's really quite little of interest to present.

And yes, a hearty "thank you" goes out to all you Federal Courts for providing me with absolutely no material. Hopefully I can do the same for you at some point in the future. Errr... on second thought, scratch that last one.

Didn't someone do something noteworthy?????

After searching through my IP blogs, I have determined that very little of interest has happened in the IP legal realm during the month of November. This does not bode well for the monthly presentation I have to give at noon at my firm. Mind you I usually have these things prepared well in advance, not so today. To Westlaw, and more specific (and slower) searching, I go!

And you haven't had any recent posts because of World of Warcraft. (Which will serve as my explanation except for last night when my final Antitrust paper monopolized my time.)

Bad News: It may appear to others as if I've fallen off the face of the planet.

Good News: It's Finals time so they don't notice.

Bad News: I have fallen off the face of the planet.

Good News: My Paladin is up to level 29.5 and his Blacksmithing is up to 151.

Bad News: My Paladin is up to level 29.5 and his Blacksmithing is up to 151.

Good News: Yesterday I had lunch at Bertucci's with a friend and went grocery shopping.

Bad News: My Bus. Org. Final is this Thursday and I haven't studied much as yet.

Good News: I'm not feeling sick at all any more.

Bad News: Though I need to get A LOT more sleep. And stop posting to the blog instead of working on my presentation for today. Because I have to finish it. And I have little time left in which to do so.

Yeah, that's about the rundown for now.

Friday, December 10, 2004

"I smite thee!"

As I was doing some catch-up blog reading, I came across this post over at Energy Spatula's Will Work For Favorable Dicta:
Anyway, the point of the post was to relate the latest gem from Prof. ConLaw.

Context: Talking to us about religion and schools allowing sports teams to pray before games.

"Boy, that must really suck if you pray and then you lose. Not only are you losers but you know God wanted you to lose. It's like you're smitten by God. Smote? Smoten? Smoted? Smited? Well, whatever."
I shall consider myself "smoten."

What if WoW were more "lawyer realistic?"

As I was walking from my car this morning, I thought that to myself. Actually, it began with me thinking of a personal ad for my Paladin and digressed from there. So here are a few things (including the personal ad) that would make the game, in some sense, more "lawyer realistic."

23rd Season SWM Human Paladin tank ISO sexy Night Elf for fun, TLC/healing, buffs, maybe more. Must supply own potions and armor. Message Belic.

The humanoid monsters should occasionally drop a special item called "Complaint." This item would be a mandatory pick-up and function like a quest-based long-duration curse. It would start with the target's Spirit being reduced by half (Spirit -50%). Then, while still holding this document, the player would have to find an "Answer." This in turn would reduce the players Strength by half (Strength -50%). Next, the player would have to find a "Discovery Request and Interrogatories." Agility -50% and Armor -50%. Next, a "Motion for Summary Judgment." Stamina -50%. Then a "Ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment." Intellect -50%. Lastly, a "Lawyer's Bill." Hit Points -50%. Having collected these 6 items, the player would take them to an NPC in the main city and turn them in. The reward would be: a high fee (player must pay it to the NPC to end the quest), a weapon permit (allowing the player to wield his weapons against the humanoid enemies), a cloak with very nice stats called "The Lawyer's Bane," and a choice of a new weapon (i.e. a hammer called "The Gavel," a dagger called "The Letter Opener," a staff called "The Lawyer's Aid," a sword called "The Sword of Justice," an axe called "The Equalizer," a wand called "The Quill," etc.).

There could be a special dungeon of lawyers called "The Court House." The enemies would be humans ("lawyers") wearing suits and wielding briefcases and security guards. The lawyers could shield themselves with their briefcases while they blare loud, annoying chatter-like sounds over the player's speakers, in an attempt to scare the player away. The boss of the place could be a judge. His main weapons would be spell-like abilities such as "Demoralizing Glare" (a stat-reducing curse), "Constitutional Argument" (a DoT spell), and "Precedent Citation" (a DD spell with a snare component). The reward for defeating the judge could be some cloth armor ("The Judge's Robes," +Intellect, +Spirit, +Agility, chance to proc a freeze-like slow effect when struck) and/or a 1h hammer ("The Judge's Gavel," +Strength, +Stamina, chance to proc a 2 sec. stun) and/or a special off-hand item ("The Rule of Law," +Intellect, +Spirit, +Stamina, chance to proc a ).

Make a new class in the game called "Attorney." This would be a combination pet-owner/spellcaster class. The pet would be a summoned one called "Attorney's Aide." Upgraded versions could include "Summer Intern," "Expert Witness" and "Paralegal." The Attorney's spell repertoire would primarily consist of debuffs, that is spells that reduce the enemy's attributes or have other non-damaging negative effects. The Attorney would have to also have some damage-based skill, either damage spells or, my preference, weapon proficiency with daggers, hammers and staves. The class' armor capabilities would be leather and the class would be able to wield small shields. The Attorney would also have a few unique group-based buffs to offer, not to mention a few decent self-only buffs to increase the class' fighting skills. The Attorney would also have access to a special item-based spell-like tradeskill called "Drafting." This would enable the Attorney to make some very powerful buff, debuff, crowd control (mez, stun, root) and damage spells. Only a few of the documents (e.g. The Will) could be used by non-Attorneys.

Enough for now. Do you have any suggestions for including lawyers and/or "the law" in computer/video game worlds?

Where have I been? Azeroth, of course!

Apologies for the lack of posting. I have been spending every "free" minute (and some that are not so "free") playing World of Warcraft (WoW). I'm hooked. I thoroughly enjoy the game and absolutely love playing it. This is equated not only to fewer blog posts but also less sleep and less consistent meals (e.g. a quickie dinner so I can get back to playing). I'll try to use the blog updates as a method for weaning myself off this incredibly addictive and wonderful enterprise.

I have 3 stories to link up later on. Watch for those.

There's also a new chapter of As The Gavel Strikes still in the works. No ETA other than "hopefully soon."

Watch for a humorous follow up post on WoW. Also, I reiterate my offer from before. If you're looking to give it a shot or are already playing, I'm on Argent Dawn (nee USEast), Alliance Faction. My main char is Belic (a now 23rd Season Human Paladin) and my secondary is Lymirae (a just 6th Season Night Elf Priestess). Give me a holler!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Librarian a Bore, But Tolerable

I caught TNT's Librarian: Quest for the Spear on TNT tonight (8-10pm EST). It stars Noah Wyle (ER) and features Kyle MacLachlan (Sex and the City, Twin Peaks), Sonya Walger (Coupling, The Mind of the Married Man), Jane Curtin (Our Town, 3rd Rock from the Sun), Kelly Hu (X2, The Scorpion King), David Dayan Fisher (Jerry Bruckheimer's National Treasure), Oscar® winner Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias) and Bob Newhart (Elf, The Bob Newhart Show). Peter Winther (The Tag) directs the cliffhanger written by David Titcher (Around the World in 80 Days).

TNT's Plot Outline:
As THE LIBRARIAN: QUEST FOR THE SPEAR opens, brilliant 30-year-old student Flynn Carsen (Wyle) is kicked out of school by his professor because he believes Carsen, after earning 22 degrees, lacks life experience and thinks it would be a disservice to him to continue on. While Carsen's mother, Margie (Dukakis), is haranguing him about finding love and setting him up on blind dates, Carsen receives a mysterious invitation to interview for a job at the Metropolitan Public Library. After a bizarre but successful interview, Charlene (Curtin) and library head Judson (Newhart) reveal to Carsen the true nature of his job, a secret job that has been around for centuries. He is charged with protecting the greatest treasures of history, which are being kept in a secret section of the building. Among the treasures housed in the library are the Ark of the Covenant, the Mona Lisa (the one in the Louvre being a replica), Pandora's Box and Excalibur, to name a few.

Carsen finds out the job is more than he bargained for when members of the malevolent Serpent Brotherhood (Fisher and Hu) break into the library and steal one of three portions of the Spear of Destiny, an ancient holy relic that grants its owner control over the world's destiny. He must now track down the other two portions to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
First and foremost, the reason I watched this made-for-TV movie is because it stars Noah Wyle and the plot (what little I'd heard) sounded mildly interesting. Why did I finish watching it after the first 60 min.? Well, I'd already watched the first half, it wasn't that bad, the female lead "intrigued me" (read: she's pretty attractive, as is the female baddie), and I honestly had nothing better to do (except perhaps spend another 2 hours in World of Warcraft).

So, my review of the movie? In a word - cheesy. Cheesy as only cheesy can be. Like putting American cheese on a pizza a la Domino's. Cheesy. TV Guide calls it "[a] poky Indiana Jones knockoff" and they're not too far off. Parts of the movie feel very much like an Indie ripoff or, in movie parlance, an homage to the series.

Specifically, I have a number of observations. The few CGI (computer generated images) pieces are overdone and far too clearly fake. Not unlike the green screen portions. Or the fight scenese which, too, are a bit over-the-top and unbelievable. As for the plot/story, it, too, is not a little fake and very predictable. Not completely involving but not uninteresting either. If you can deal with a plot, CGI, fight sequences and a movie of made-for-TV caliber (and not much more), then maybe you won't be disappointed.

Personally, I didn't think it was a bad movie. It wasn't very good but hey, what can you do. I'm glad it starred Noah Wyle as, IMHO, he is well-deserving of good movie roles. Unfortunately, this was not a "good movie role" per se. Nonetheless, it's a step. He himself did a fine enough job acting. It's just everything around him, you know - little things like the plot and budget, that really showed as lacking. I'm hoping that as opposed to holding him back, this movie serves as a stepping stone to better roles, better characters and better movies.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Watcheable. If you want. But not mandatory.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

*Cough* *Cough*

I would have entitled this *Viral Infection* *Viral Infection* except that just sounds stupid.

No posts since Monday due to a trip to the hospital late Monday night. I only left said hospital this afternoon and am spending the next few days in restful recuperation at home not in Hartford. The theory is I underwent a viral infection of some sort. Of course to get to that determination I also underwent a lumbar puncture (aka spinal tap) to rule out bacterial meningitis and other bacterial infections, an infusion of an antibiotic named Rociferin (sp?) that may have set off an allergic reaction (we're not sure), and all sorts of varying symptoms including but not limited to a fever, dizziness, nausia, generic ill-feeling, and locational onsets of achiness.

It was not fun. At all. But I'm feeling better although still relatively weak and fairly tired. Good things I've learned include: I still don't have MS (I'm at risk since I've had optic neuritis and colitis); my MRI looks fine as does my CAT/CT scan; Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford is without a doubt the nicest, cleanest and best hospital I've ever seen (if your insurance covers it, I highly recommend St. Francis should it be necessary); and I could start a new career as a human pincushion. (All they want to do in hospitals is take blood samples!) All in all a rather (unforunately) exciting Tuesday.

Now if only I could dislodge this piece of cashew that has stuck itself halfway between my mouth and my collar bone... (And I'm not kidding either. I can breathe fine, the piece just won't go up or down. Damnit.)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Good/Bad of the Morning

Good: Waking up on time even though I only got ~3-3.5 hours of sleep.

Bad: Half way through my shower, learning that the hot water is short-lived this morning.

Good: Encountering hot water when I begin to shave.

Bad: Half way through shaving, learning that this hot water too is short-lived.

Good: Getting to work early/on-time.

Good: After checking my law school e-mail, learning that my afternoon Crim. Pro. class is cancelled. WoW here I come!

The Purported Failure of the Living Will

CNN -- Living wills not always a clean solution:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Patients checking into hospitals and clients meeting with their lawyers often are advised to take a simple step toward planning for the future: fill out a living will.

But the reality is, too often, they don't really work.

The concept is straightforward: outline your wishes while you're healthy to guide doctors and family members who might have to make life-or-death decisions for you later on. Would you want to linger in a vegetative state if it were unlikely you'd ever wake up? Or would you rather be allowed to die?

But end-of-life medical questions often involve much more complicated medical and moral questions. Many living wills are so vague as to be useless.
A will might direct that no "extraordinary measures" be used if someone's condition is hopeless. But what is an extraordinary measure? And what is hopeless? If there's a 10 percent chance a treatment will extend someone's life by six months, is that good enough? Should an end-stage Alzheimer's patient, whose life is greatly diminished but still has moments of joy, be given antibiotics to treat an infection that otherwise might bring a quicker end?

There are other problems. People change their minds after they write their living wills but don't update them. Many living wills never make it to the bedside, left in a file cabinet or safety deposit box. And family and doctors often do a poor job of deciphering the patient's wishes even when they have the wills in hand.

"Most people believe that a living will can be written that is effective and that genuinely conveys real information that can be used in making decisions, and that is not true," said Carl Schneider, an expert in medical law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Since 1990, hospitals have been required in most states to offer all patients the chance to fill out a living will. But despite the law and despite several high-profile end-of-life legal disputes, most people still don't have living wills.

"Enough. The living will has failed, and it is time to say so," Schneider and colleague Angela Fagerlin wrote in a bioethics journal, the Hastings Center Report.

Relying on loved one is preferred, studies find

A better end-of-life option, experts say, is to give a trusted loved one the legal authority to make decisions if you become incapacitated. Two large studies found more than 70 percent of people would prefer that doctors rely on family rather than living wills in making decisions about their care.

This has its own problems -- the designated decision-maker may not understand what the patient's wishes are, and picking one person to make decisions could cause tension inside a family.

The stereotypical conflict, doctors and nurses say, comes when the adult child arrives from out of town feeling guilty he hasn't spent more time with his parent and resists steps to end the parent's life, even as a brother or sister who lives nearby says this is what the parent wanted.

Still, experts say designating someone to make decisions allows for more flexibility than living wills.

Another choice that holds less legal weight but perhaps more influence: thoughtful conversations in advance with your regular doctors.
The questions have become more acute as medical advances have given doctors unprecedented ways to prolong life. At the same time, a series of high-profile legal disputes over whether to end medical treatment have prompted more people to consider putting their wishes explicitly into writing.

This fall, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a law that reconnected the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, 40, who was severely brain damaged 14 years ago. (Florida high court ruling)

The Schiavo dispute pits her husband, who says she wouldn't want to live this way, against her parents, who want to keep her alive. Schiavo did not have a living will. (Judge extends feeding order)

Another hurdle: Persuading doctors

But doctors don't always follow a patient's instructions even when they are clear. Sometimes the document doesn't accompany the patient. Or the doctor fears litigation or simply disagrees with a patient's wishes.

Jeanne and James Hanchett thought they were prepared. Both physicians, they had filled out living wills saying they did not want extraordinary treatments. Each had given the other legal power to make medical decisions.

While watching his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play at Three Rivers Stadium, James Hanchett's head fell onto his wife shoulder. Mrs. Hanchett and bystanders tried to revive him. "There was no response at all," she said.

Paramedics arrived about 25 minutes after he suffered the heart attack and put a tube into his lungs to get them moving again. But Mrs. Hanchett, a semiretired pediatrician, knew it was too late.

At the emergency room, she told the doctor to stop resuscitation attempts. He refused, saying, "'If it were my mother or wife, I would want this to continue,"' Mrs. Hanchett recalled.

She said the doctor dismissed her when she told him that her husband had a living will and that she had power of attorney.

"So I turned on my heel and walked out. I didn't want to start screaming and yelling. I had to call our children," she said.

It was 29 hours before she succeeded in persuading doctors to remove the equipment.
So much to respond to. I'll try to hit them in the order presented and with bolded and underlined headers.

Vagueness: Part of the problem may be that lawyers prefer vague language. We do. Wiggle room is a grand thing if you can make it work. Hence phrases like "extraordinary measures" and "hopeless." Vague phrases that insinuate a nebulous meaning. One way to combat this element is to change the specific language. For example, instead of "extraordinary measures" maybe one should use "extraordinary measures such as CPR or..." Explain the meaning a bit more to more clearly establish the intent behind the phrase. This seems like a drafting problem to me, primarily residing on the lawyer's end though a common set of interpretative phrases would also make this easier. That is, establish common meanings for common phrases. This too would reduce or eliminate the doubt and uncertainty.

Updating Living Wills: This complaint is a poor one. A failure to update a living will rests squarely on the individual concerned. Just as with wills, should you change your mind you must update the document in order to clearly establish your intentions and have them effected. If you don't update the document, don't expect it to reflect your true intentions and don't expect that your intentions will be accurately followed. Gee, was that so difficult? I don't think so.

Access to Living Wills: This is a failure of the system. If doctors are looking for valid directions to follow and lawyers (and their clients) are attempting to draft valid directions for the doctor to follow, the intersection of these two seems obvious and predictable. It's borderline amazing that we as a society don't have an established connection between them. Perhaps its time to implement a national system to address this shortcoming. It wouldn't have to be anything real fancy or complicated. Set up an online database of living wills and powers of attorney. Make the database accessible only to specific hospital employees and doctors. Allow lawyers and their clients to access the database and upload the documents. Yes, I've skipped over a few of the problems. You would need some sort of authentication or verification step on the uploading end to prevent tampering with the documents. Perhaps this can be accomplished by requiring that copies of the original, paper documents be sent to the company. You would also need some sort of official recognition of the system, to enable hospitals to properly rely on the documents within the system. You would also need some sort of control, if possible, on the hospital's end to reduce unwanted and unnecessary access of the system. I.e. Something to try and prevent people from looking up their relatives' or friends' documents without due cause. And the system would need to be safe and secure against unwanted hacking, to enable it to be recognized and accorded respect. Still, it seems doable with the right investment and structure. Plus it could require a small fee for uploading documents. That way the system could become self-sufficient and possible. I have little idea of how to earnestly implement this idea but if someone else is interested, send me an e-mail. It could have potential and could potentially be very helpful and desirable.

Relying on a Loved One: To me, this seems like a one-sided aspect. If the individual would like a loved one, and a particular one at that, to make decisions concerning the individual's health care, the individual should specify that intention in a living will or, more appropriately, a power of attorney. This is not a catch-all nor truly a significant aspect of the living will but rather a choice for the individual when considering this topic. It's an option, not a solution.

Advance Conversations With Your Doctor: This, too, is an option and not a solution. Again, should the individual wish that his or her doctor make choices on his or her behalf or effect the individual's intentions, this should be made clear in the living will or power of attorney.

Persuading Doctors: This parallels the access issue discussed above. Doctors need to have some mechanism by which they can rely on documents produced. As it stands, it appears that no such mechanism exists, perhaps with the exception of waving the document in the doctor's face. Even then, the doctor may be loathe to follow its directives, especially if they are at odds with the doctor's personal beliefs or goals. This is a failure of the system, of the interaction between the legal documents and the medical community. Although it relates to living wills, this particular "problem" lies more in their effect than their existence and may be addressed and "fixed."

The Living Will Has Failed: In my opinion this conclusion is patently wrong. The living will has not failed, we have failed to ensure that these documents are accorded proper treatment. Much as society has implemented devices such as wills and trusts to address certain legal aspects in advance of their occurence, living wills do the same. If we as a society want these documents and want them to have a legally-binding and not insignificant effect, we must address their "failings" and ensure that they are accorded the respect they deserve. Why the author of the CNN piece, and others, have interpreted this to mean the documents should be or have become entirely inefficacious is beyond me. I see it as a failure of the system, and of the government, that can rather easily be addressed should we so chose.


I've purposefully delayed posting this for at least a week, fyi.

I don't know that I've mentioned it before but I do work (part-time) for a law firm and have been there since Summer of my first year (almost 1 1/2 years now). I will not name the firm or respond to any inquiries therefor, thereof or there____.

But I do want to comment that it's quite strange to come in on a Monday morning for a few hours and watch the managing partner, a lawyer and two paralegals leave. And I mean leave as in give-their-notice-and-quit leave. It's also strange to later hear that another partner will also be leaving at the end of this year. Fairly unnerving and unsettling, especially as I don't have an offer yet.

Monday Morning Roundup

Quite a few things here and I don't feel like breaking them up into separate posts.

First, I hope y'all had a nice holiday! Mine was okay. The usual. I'm contemplating a post on my grandparents (really my grandfather) sometime soon. I'd do it now except I ran across at least 6 other things to post on.

Btw, I'm not from the South. I only use the phrase "y'all" in an online context, e.g. e-mails, the blog and the like. I never, repeat, never use it in day-to-day conversation. I think it would sully my mouth.

I forgot one BIG critique for World of Warcraft. (And I'm too lazy right now to link up my previous 2 posts on the game.) The character creation. I've played a few MMOGs, namely Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life, City of Heroes, and Asheron's Call 2 (beta). Wow has the worst, again repeat, worst character customization of all. The choices you can make on your character are not only limited but the characters end up looking moderately ugly! As a human male your face will resemble all other human males. Period, Q.E.D., end of story. Very annoying. Especially when coming from games like SWG, Second Life and CoH which all offer insane amounts of character customization. Then again, if that's the worst aspect of WoW, it's more than bearable.

I got my WoW Paladin, Belic on Argent Dawn (US East RP Server), up to 13th Season and 65-some Blacksmithing. I'm just now going to take him out of the starting region (Ellwyn) and start exploring Westfall. Sometime I'll make the trek up to Ironforge. Thus far I'm loving the Paladin class. Rather versatile and pretty darn strong. My only complaint is that he won't be able to pull monsters. That is, he won't have a ranged attack to use in order to draw an enemy monster to him. Kind of annoying and strange but manageable. At some point I'll probably try out a Druid and/or a Warlock but not until I get Belic fairly high so he can supply money and items as needed.

I've also reconnected (or started to reconnect) with my 2 old DAOC guilds, namely The Enclave and The Stonecutters (link pending as it is not easily remembered). I chose Argent Dawn so I could meet up with The Enclave again. Good group of players, very helpful. They're pretty much the reason I was able to really get into Dark Age of Camelot. If anyone out there is interested, come on over to Argent Dawn (Alliance) and look me up. I'll help you out as I can. Plus I'm sure you can join up with the guild if interested.

As a helpful update and self-directed reminder, movies I'll likely see soon: Spongebob, Christmas With the Kranks and Alexander (maybe).  Opening this Friday there's Closer and House of Flying Daggers.  On Dec. 8 there's Blade Trinity; Dec. 10 is Ocean's Twelve; Dec. 17 is Spanglish, The Aviator (won't see) and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; and Dec. 22 is Meet the Fockers and Flight of the Phoenix (won't see).

Also tomorrow sees the video/DVD release of Spider-Man 2. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow since I absolutely loved the movie. Saw it twice in the theater this Summer. Well worth purchasing and probably my vote for best movie of the Summer. Where Spider-Man annoyed and bothered me, Spider-Man 2 remedied and remediated. (Peter Parker of the comics would never, never have said "no" to M.J. Seriously!!!) I can't wait for the third installment, especially given where the second left off! Man, I'm almost drooling in anticipation.

Another self-reminder to do a post on subsequent releases of Special Edition DVDs.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Edition) is finally making it to DVD soon. I don't have the exact date but it might be tomorrow. If not, it's sometime in the next month. I can't express (or maybe I can) how annoyed I am that they delayed the Extended Edition release by ~1 year. Truly annoying. I have the Extended Editions of the first two and refuse to purchase anything other than the like for the third. I have to say, the Extended Editions are well worth the extra money and not just for the bonus material, rather more so for the extra footage in the films. It adds even more depth to the story, if that's possible. Very nice.

I think that's everything except for the 2 CNN pieces that follow. (And the subsequent, separate post on another CNN piece.)


Julia Roberts [37] gives birth to twins:
Roberts, who is married to cinematographer Daniel Moder, delivered Hazel Patricia Moder and Phinnaeus Walter Moder at a hospital in Southern California [on Sunday morning], said Marcy Engleman.


Daughter turns in dad who called police on her:
NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) -- A father's attempt to teach his daughter a lesson about drinking backfired when the teen led police to a stash of drugs and weapons inside their home.

Kevin Winston, 46, called police at 2:45 a.m. Friday after his 16-year-old daughter came home drunk and unruly. When police arrived, however, the girl told them she feared for her safety because her father stored drugs and weapons in the home.

The girl led officers to a crawl space above the ceiling where they found four semiautomatic guns and more than 600 vials of cocaine.

Winston was charged with numerous weapons and drug charges. His five daughters were placed in the custody of a relative.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. And let the parent who has things to hide not be the one to call the police. Just incredible. You can practically smell the irony.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

WoW Rather Nice So Far!

As noted yesterday, World of Warcraft came out. I've played for 4-5 hours so far and hit level 7 out of 60. Here are my thoughts so far, given that I haven't even gotten out of the beginning areas yet.

First off, the interface is very intuitive and easy to use (pretty much unlike any other MMORPG I've played before). The game is fun and easy to navigate. There's an in-game map so you won't get lost. All of the item stats are easy to follow and easily noted. You have a rather limited inventory, only 16 slots to start, but you can equip up to 4 additional containers (bags). The tradeskills are easy to use although resource gathering will be a bit annoying as the nodes are randomly instanced in the world, as you play. Unlike Star Wars Galaxies, though, I don't see resource quality affecting product (yet at least) so that's nice if it's true. I've only played a human paladin so far but the downtime isn't bad and the game is fun. The only problem nowadays is lag and server population. As time passes and we move further away from the release, I anticipate this problem diminishing.

Btw, if you can stomach the cost ($50 up front, $13-15 per month), this is a good starter-MMORPG. The system requirements are a little high. My computer is at the low end but it still plays okay and is playable. I'll report back again when I've gone deeper in the game, possibly with some class-specific advice and notes.

(Official WoW Site) ( (WoW Vault) (WoW Stratics)

ADDENDUM: Of course the World Server (whatever that may be) is offline and I cannot play at the moment.

Also, don't be surprised if there are no new posts until the weekend due to the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving! [5:42 PM]

I Heart Huckabees Heartfelt But Frustrating

I Heart Huckabees was my Tuesday afternoon movie. Stars Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts. Written by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena, directed by David O. Russell.

Yahoo! Plot Summary:
This ensemble comedy is about a married couple, the Jaffes (Hoffman, Tomlin), who work as detectives, helping people solve existential crises in their lives. For those not familiar with the philosophy-based term of "existential crisis", some examples of such a crises would be a "mid-life crisis", a "what am I doing with my life?" sort of hang up, "my life has been a mistake", "my whole life is a joke", etc. Their first client in this movie is Albert Markovski (Schwartzman), who is experiencing angst because of his position at Huckabee's, a popular chain of retail stores. Investigating his workplace, the Jaffes take on one of Albert's coworkers, Brad Stand (Law) as a client as well, which leads them to investigate his girlfriend, Dawn Campbell (Watts), who is the spokesmodel in the Huckabees TV commercials. Meanwhile, Albert teams up with an existential firefighter (Wahlberg) and a French radical (Huppert) out of frustration with the idea that the Jaffes are helping the very man who seems to be part of Albert's existential crisis.
Although billed as an existential comedy, this movie is really just existentially confusing. It gets caught up in its own philosophy, repeatedly tripping over itself in its quest to say something that it doesn't get across. As much as Sideways (review) tackles weighty, deep subjects in an easy to follow, calm, collected manner, I Heart Huckabees does not. The movie can be boiled down to the question: Is there meaning to life or not? And it doesn't provide any answer or insite in its rushed attempt to tackle the topic.

Can you feel me tripping over my own words in an attempt to explain why this movie just didn't quite work as it meant to? For crying out loud, I almost fell asleep in the middle!

I can't say I truly enjoyed this movie because it really didn't say anything or go anywhere. You may feel like life has a purpose, an underlying connection, or you may feel like life is random and chaotic, meaningless. That's it. To produce a confusing movie that neither directly confronts the interrelation between these concepts nor indirectly suggests any conclusion regarding them is an exercise in futility, much as watching it is.

I'm really not trying to say "don't go see it." Rather, I want you to understand that I'm honestly frustrated with the film and pretty confused about its goals and direction (or lack thereof). It was far too existential for its own good. That's about the punchline.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Maybe Theater-Worthy, maybe Rental-Worthy, maybe not.

The Grudge Will Give You A Grudge having spent the money to see this lousy thing. (Maybe.)

The Grudge (Yahoo! Movies) was the second of my double-viewing on Monday afternoon. It stars Sarah Michelle Gellar and features Jason Behr, William Mapother, Clea DuVall, KaDee Strickland, Grace Zabriskie, Bill Pullman, Rosa Blasi, Ted Raimi, Ryo Ishibashi, and Yoko Maki. Directed by Takashi Shimizu and produced by Sam Raimi.

Generic Yahoo! Plot Summary:
The Grudge is the curse of one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage. Those who encounter this murderous supernatural curse die and a new one is born, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror.
More specific IMDB Plot Summary:
Kare Davis (SMG) is a woman residing in Japan with her boyfriend, who is studying abroad. Temporarily assigned to be caretaker for a woman (Grace Zabriskie) with severe sleeping conditions, Kare goes to an unsuspecting house. But what she finds, is something she would never expect. The house is plagued by the presence of murderous ghosts, the result of a curse. The curse is born from someone dying in a powerful rage. Now, Kare finds herself being tormented by that curse, as it eventually starts claiming it's victims.
Here's the deal. If you ignore some of the minor (imo) plot holes and just soak in the unnerving atmosphere and creepy vibe, it's an okay-to-sub-par horror flick. However, overall, it's tripe. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the vibe and how I absolutely loathed the two, but the movie itself isn't very good. The plot-continuity leaves a lot to be desired as does the acting and order of scenes presented. (E.g. You're shown Gellar, the house post-some killings, then shown the killings, then shown other ones, then it goes back to Gellar... Not linear by any means and certainly not intuitive.)

Apparently this was an American, bastardized version of a hit Japanese film. Supposedly, the original Japanese movie is good or maybe great. But this p.o.s. that I saw just reeks. I recommend you avoid it at all costs. Not worth the money, not worth your time, not worth the ink this is written in. Heck, I'm a fan of SMG (Go Buffy!) and she wasn't even close to being enough to make this movie worthwhile. Really, avoid it like the plague.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Won't see again for the rest of my life if I can possibly help it.

After the Sunset Is a Bright Light

Okay, okay, the puns are getting worse.

I took in After the Sunset (Yahoo! Movies) as the first in a double-viewing on Monday afternoon. It stars Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris, and Chris Penn.

IMDB Plot Summary:
Two master thieves (Brosnan and Hayek) are finally retiring after one last succesful mission. Residing in their own tropical paradise, their old nemesis, FBI Agent Stan P. Lloyd (Harrelson) shows up to make sure they really are retired. Docked in the port is a ocean liner called the "Diamond Cruise" and Stan is convinced that they're not really retired at all, and that this is the next set up. While Lola (Hayek) is busy settling into their new life and trying to find ways to keep busy, Max (Brosnan) is contemplating whether or not to steal the diamond. Now the question is, will he? Will Stan finally catch him after eight years of chasing him? Will Lola help Max steal it? And what of that shady character that has told Max he must steal the diamond for him?
This was a fun movie. It was entertaining, engaging and kept me interested right through the end. The plot isn't terribly deep though it has its fair share of twists and turns. There's a lot of sexual tension, between the two thieves and then between the two police, that makes things even more interesting. All in all, not a very deep movie but a very enjoyable one. As long as you're not expecting some huge blockbuster or philosophical poignancy and just go in looking to see a good heist movie, you should enjoy it.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Theater-Worthy, maybe DVD-Worthy.

Shadow Hearts Covenant a Sweet PS2 RPG

I picked up Shadow Hearts Covenant (Shadow Hearts 2) a little over a week ago. It's a PlaySTation 2 Roleplaying Game and a rather nice one at that.

A brief bit on my RPG background. I loved Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation, the one that revived the FF series. Using a strategy guide, I spent over 70 hours on that one in college, getting all the limit breaks and ultimate weapons, etc. An amazing game. I also played through Star Ocean for the PS2, noting the differences between it and FFVII and learning of its inferior nature. I missed FF8 and didn't like the cartoon graphics of FF9. Final Fantasy X for the PS2 was my next big one. I played through that one, enjoying it, and its improved graphics, immensely. Final Fantasy X-2 was okay but I didn't like the costume aspect and never really got into it. Then came X-Men: Legends (reviewed earlier). After that, on to Shadow Hearts Covenant ("SHC").

I like SHC. The battle system is rather interesting as the success of your attacks and spells are based on your ability and skill with something called the judgment ring. Basically, take a watch face and spin the minute hand in a clockwise direction at a varying speed. The speed is individual to the characters and may be slowed down with items. You have to "hit" certain slices on the watch face for your spell to succeed or do well. Kind of neat as it adds an extra skill-based aspect to the game. Keeps me awake and paying attention, else I lose the fight.

The characters each have individual special capabilities. E.g. One can transform into powerful monsters, one can use wrestling moves, one can use special sabre moves, etc. This creates very different, well-delineated roles for them to fulfill. Works for me. The most annoying aspect is that at least 2 of the characters will have individual challenges sprinkled through the game. Needless to say, in the constraints of a 4-character party and with 6 selectable characters at the moment, it's tough keeping the lesser-preferred ones at a respectably equivalent level. That is, non-partied characters get half the exp that the competing ones do, and thus level slower if not played.

Anyways, the story seems good and interesting so far, with cut scenes liberally sprinkled throughout, showing you the developing tale. I've only got 13.5 hours in the game so far but I've really enjoyed it and plan on playing a lot more (if I can tear myself away from WoW). All in all, if you like RPGs, I suggest checking this one out. It's pretty good and I rather enjoy it!

Sideways A Slanted Hit

I saw Sideways (Yahoo! link) on Saturday night with a friend and her boyfriend. It stars Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, and Sandra Oh. Directed and written (screenplay) by Alexander Payne, with Rex Pickett as the one who wrote the novel.

IMDB Plot Summary:
Miles Faymond (Paul Giamatti), a failed writer who teaches junior high school english takes his best friend, former hot actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong drive up to 'wine country' in California. There they explore the nature of their failures and question their relationships. Jack, about to get married, has an affair and wonders whether he should call it off. Miles, recently divorced, questions whether or not he made the right choice.
Before I begin, please note that I missed the first 10-15 minutes of the movie as we were running late. Even so, I caught the film from the point where the trip begins so I don't feel as though I missed much, if at all anything important.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It's rather dark at times but balanced overall by the entirety of the story. It's a movie about wine, women and men, in that order. Miles is a huge wine buff and the movie is liberally sprinkled (if not downright soaked through and through) with a lot of wine information and tidbits. Miles' wine fanaticism also gives some focus for the relationship between him and Maya (Virginia Madsen) and a nice tie for the whole movie. It also provides some of the oomph behind the bigger, more emotional scenes.

The characters are very nicely done and by the end of the movie you feel as if you have a good handle on who they are, where they are and where they want to go. The transition into that knowledge is the heart of the film, as the characters learn about themselves and reconcile their conflicting desires. The two main characters are definitely not pure or simple, but rather flawed and deep. Even Jack, the most superficial of the 4 main characters, has some hidden depths and worries behind his decisions, notwithstanding his actions.

As for the character flaws, and I read this bit elsewhere (I forget where) so it's not of my own genesis, the movie puts the 2 main characters' flaws out there and doesn't do too much with them. At one point (and this is not a spoiler at all), Miles steals money from his mother. Nothing is done with that, it's just there to show you that although he's loyal and intelligent, he's not perfect by any means. That in particular just sits there. Not a bad thing and certainly not a problem if that is my only complaint, but I agree with the review I read that some of the flaws are there to be there, not to be explored or considered so much.

You can tell this is a somewhat deep movie. It tackles a lot of character development very well. You're not going to be overwhelmed by it and it's all rather easily understood at the time, though I will probably watch it again and again as subsequent viewings will probably improve on my take of the movie. It's really no wonder that some are calling this film the best of the year. It really is well done and rather engaging.

I recommend you check it out if you're okay with more artsy kind of films. This is a nice one and seeing it in the theater is worth the cost. I'll get this DVD as soon as it comes out, not unlike I did for The Chronicles of Riddick and will shortly do (next week) for Spider-Man 2. I really enjoyed this movie.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: DVD-Worthy without a doubt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

WoW Release!

World of Warcraft came out today and, foolishly, I purchased it. I'll likely load it up tonight, once I get back from seeing I Heart Huckabees.

Dolphins and Locusts and Camden, Oh my!

Dolphins save swimmers from shark:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) -- A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday.
Further proof that Douglas Adams was probably dead on in the fourth book of the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.


Locust plague sweeps into Israel:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Millions of locusts swarmed through Israel's Red Sea resort town of Eilat on Sunday, devouring crops and flowers in the country's south.

Israeli agriculture officials sent crop dusters into the air to spray against the locusts that swept in from North Africa in the first such invasion since 1959.
In the Bible, locusts were the eighth of 10 plagues that God inflicted on the ancient Egyptians before Pharaoh, their leader, let the Israelites go.
The last major invasion of African locusts 45 years ago ravaged crops in the Jewish state.

But some Israelis as well as laborers from Thailand, where locusts are a delicacy, made the best of the current outbreak by collecting the insects and taking them home for dinner.

"Delicious," said one Israeli man in Eilat, licking his lips after picking a locust off the ground and eating it raw. "They're a delicacy fit for a king."

A Web site in Eilat listed recipes for locusts including locust shish-kebab, locust chips (French fries) and stir-fried locusts. The recipes said it was essential to cook the insects while alive "as otherwise they become bitter."

The locust is the only type of insect that is kosher and permissible for religious Jews to eat under Jewish law.
Either it's a sign of the coming apocalypse or a tasty afternoon treat. You decide.


Camden, N.J., named most dangerous city:
TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- Camden has been named the nation's most-dangerous city, snatching the top spot from Detroit, according to a company's annual ranking based on crime statistics.
Atlanta, Georgia, St. Louis, Missouri, and Gary, Indiana, rounded out the top five in the most dangerous city rankings, which was to be released Monday by Morgan Quitno Corp. The company publishes "City Crime Rankings," an annual reference book that will be published next month. Detroit fell to second in this year's list.
The news wasn't all bleak for New Jersey. The state's Brick Township was rated the second-safest city for the third straight year, behind only Newton, Massachusetts, while the Garden State's Dover Township was ranked tenth. The other communities in the top five were Amherst, N.Y., which had been ranked as the safest city for the past four years, followed by Mission Viejo, California, and Clarkstown, New York.

The rankings look at the rate for six crime categories: Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. It compares 350 cities with populations of 75,000 or more that reported crime data to the FBI. Final 2003 statistics, released by the FBI in October, were used to determine the rankings.
Another boon for the New Jersey tourism industry. Then again, why would people actually want to visit New Jersey? (Okay, okay, notwithstanding Atlantic City, Six Flags or Wildwood.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

X-Men: Legends Xcellent!

I finished up X-Men: Legends for the PS2 (PlayStation 2) this weekend. Took me a little over 31 hours to get through. I've gotta say, this is a very good X-Men RPG adaptation! The game mechanics are a little strange in that it's a live-action RPG game, sort of like Starcraft with a 4-character team and the usual RPG elements (levelling, skills, stat points, equipment). Still, it suits things and works rather well.

I'm a BIG X-Men fan. Even as the X-Men have expanded their ranks over the past 40-some-odd years, my favorite group is the original 5 (Cyclops, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey, Angel/Archangel, Iceman and Beast). In Legends, you eventually have your choice of 14 X-Men (maybe 15, I had one character unselectable though that may have been a placeholder for Professor X, who is only playable for brief durations in the game) from whom to form a 4-character team. Those available are: Cyclops, Phoenix (Jean Grey), Iceman, Beast, Wolverine, Jubilee, Gambit, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Magma, Colossus, Emma Frost, and Storm. As you progress through the game, more and more of the characters become playable, as you encounter them. Also, unplayed characters level up as your played ones do, albeit not as fast. I found the unplayed ones to lag behind 1-2 levels.

Each character has at least 3 useable attack skills you can power up as you level. The brawlers have a single, powerful, 1-hit attack and a lesser-powerful, multiple-hit attack. The non-brawlers have various other skills, e.g. Storm can cast lightning and make whirlwinds or Jean Grey can use telekinesis or a point-blank, area-effect (pbae) psionic spell that stuns and damages targets in her vicinity. Every character also has an Extreme ability that you can unlock starting at level 15. Basically, it's a powerful attack that requires special "ammunition" (if you will). Also, every character has a timed buff ability. E.g. Wolverine can temporarily increase his movement speed and stats. Some of these abilities can affect the rest of the party. For example, Cyclops' one increases the Strike and Agility (stats) of the party wqhen you get it to a high enough level.

Enough explanation. My favorite and end-game team was Jean Grey, Wolverine, Iceman and Cyclops. Jean kicked so much ass it's insane. Her pbae attack, once other skills of hers that increase its damage were maxed, was simply devastating. Plus, her timed skill was a damage reduction that affected the whole party (-50 at the highest level). Simply put, she was the cornerstone of my team. Wolverine is the best brawler. He regenerates health and had the highest Strike and Agility of all the characters. Plus his single strong attack was really quite strong. Iceman had a self-damaged reduction timed skill (-50) plus a self-damage increasing skill that added 80-100 ice damage to his melee attacks. His timed skill also increased the party's punch damage by 25-31 energy damage. Lastly, Cyclops was the leader. His leadership skill increased the efficacy of the team's combos and his optic blasts were not insignificant. Plus, his timed skill ended up bumping the party's strike and agility by 14 points each for 32 seconds. Rather nice.

The game was very linear and there was no chance of getting lost or not knowing where to go. I also found the characters to be at the appropriate level for the areas they were in. Nothing was very hard. The worst part was when uncontrolled team members would fall off ledges or such, something you really can't help or control.

All in all, a very fun game! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes the X-Men and action-based RPGs. I can't wait for the next one!

National Treasure Should Not Be Treasured

I saw National Treasure on Friday night with Captain Kate and her fiancee. The movie stars Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, and Sean Bean with cameos by Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Gone In Sixty Seconds, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur, and many, many more) and directed (and produced) by Jon Turteltaub.

Yahoo!'s Summary:
All his life, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been searching for a treasure no one believed existed: amassed through the ages, moved across continents, to become the greatest treasure the world has ever known. Hidden by our Founding Fathers, they left clues to the treasure's location right before our eyes... from our nation's birthplace, to the nation's capitol, to clues buried within the symbols on the dollar bill. In a race against time, Gates must elude the FBI, stay one step ahead of his ruthless adversary (Sean Bean), decipher the remaining clues and unlock the 2000 year-old mystery behind our greatest national treasure.
Before I go any further, be aware that this is a Disney movie. It has a PG rating.

Although a decent movie, I did not enjoy this one all that much. The story and concept really weren't bad, it had potential, but the execution just left me wanting. Wanting what? More depth, less simplicity, less suspension of disbelief. They should have made this movie either more believable or less believable. More realistic or more fantastic. 'Cause where it sits now, there's too much that's strange to make it real and too little focus on the unusual to make it another world or planet. It slips through the cracks. I honestly can't say I'm surprised by this failure (imo) since it is a Disney film. I generally find most live-action Disney to not come out quite right (Pirates of the Caribbean being a notable exception).

Also, the setup immensely annoyed me. The movie spends the first 15 minutes setting up the entire rest of the film. What does this mean? The background, story and plot are thrust upon you in too short a time. Plus the subsequent 85 minutes are spent resolving the first 15. Not good. While the action sequences and special effects kept me interested and paying attention, the plot just kept getting thinner and thinner. It was even predictable at times. (And I try not to predict movies as it tends to spoil the effect for me.)

All in all, an okay movie that really didn't do it for me. Knowing that the plot is thin, the characters a bit one-dimensional and the concepts of black & white well ensconced (notwithstanding stealing the Declaration of Independence -- it was for "the better good" or such), if you think you might be interested after seeing the preview/trailer, check it out. Who knows, you may like it a bit more than I did.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Rental-Worthy or Theater-Worthy.

It's Deer Season! It's Wabbit Season! No, It's People Season!

Five hunters gunned down in Wisconsin woods -- Police: Dispute over deer stand apparently led to killings:
(CNN) -- Sheriff's deputies are investigating the killings of five hunters Sunday in northwest Wisconsin -- bloodshed apparently sparked by a dispute over a hunting spot. A suspect has been arrested.

"This is completely nuts," said Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle of the Sawyer County Sheriff's Department. "Why? I mean, five people dead because somebody was trespassing on property. It makes no sense."
"Apparently, the person was asked to leave and get out of his deer stand, and he didn't take it very well and he fired away at them," she said.
Veness said the killings have shocked Exeland, a village of 219 people about 135 miles northeast of Minneapolis.

"It just doesn't happen in this neck of the woods," she said. "We don't expect any of this to happen."
Right, 'cause when a hunter shoots people instead of deer in other states, that's completely expected. Uh huh.

As a non-hunting Northeasterner (read: Yankee who lives in or near a city), this just screams out to me of Darwinism and natural selection. (It does!)

TV Show Watch

TNT's Quest for the Spear on Sunday, December 5th @ 8pm (ET).

Sci Fi Channel's Legend of Earthsea on Monday, December 13th @ 9pm (ET).

Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica Miniseries kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 11 @ 9pm (ET - Part 1) with Part 2 on Wednesday, Jan. 12 (9pm ET?) and the complete version (Parts 1 & 2? Part 3?) on Sunday, Jan. 16, @ 3pm (ET). I rather liked the movie-introduction of BG and look forward to the series!

CNN Stories

Before the first, posts to look forward to: movie reviews of National Treasure and Sideways; PS2 game reviews of X-Men: Legends and Shadow Hearts Covenant (SH2). There haven't been any posts for the weekend because of the latter. (Hehe.)


Kennedy assassination recreated in video game:
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A new video game to be released on Monday allows players to simulate the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The release of "JFK Reloaded" is timed to coincide with the 41st anniversary of Kennedy's murder in Dallas and was designed to demonstrate a lone gunman was able to kill the president.
Ewing said the game was designed to undermine the theory there was some shadowy plot behind the assassination. "We believe passionately there was no conspiracy," he said.

Traffic Games said the objective was for a player to fire three shots at Kennedy's motorcade from assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's digitally recreated sixth-floor perch in the Texas School Book Depository.

Points are awarded or subtracted based on how accurately the shots match the official version of events as documented by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination.

Shooting the image of Kennedy in the right spots in the right sequence adds to the score, while "errors" like shooting first lady Jacqueline Kennedy lead to deductions.
That game is in such poor taste it's positively amazing. IMO, the only reason the company can get away with it is because the Kennedy assassination is so far rooted in the target group's past that there's virtually no memory of the event. Give it another 5-10 years and we may even see video games based on the Vietnam War, another currently-taboo subject. Wouldn't surprise me terribly though I would be equally apalled.


Scientists flood Grand Canyon - Flood waters will bring natural sediment to ecosystem:
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona (AP) -- Scientists flooded the Grand Canyon on Sunday to restore beaches and save fish and plants that have been disappearing since sediment-free water began flowing from a man-made dam 40 years ago.

A torrent of gushing water raced down the Colorado River and into the canyon, carrying badly needed natural sediment with it, as four giant steel tubes at the base of Glen Canyon Dam were opened.
The construction of Glen Canyon Dam upstream forever altered the canyon: Four of eight native fish species have disappeared and prospects for the fifth, the endangered humpback chub, are grim. Only about 7 percent of the historical sediment before the dam was built remains.
Interesting application of ecology. I wish them luck!


First sex tourism law trial conviction:
SANTA ANA, California (AP) -- An 86-year-old man was found guilty Friday of attempting to travel to the Philippines to sexually molest girls, in violation of a new federal law aimed at fighting sex tourism.

A judge found John W. Seljan guilty of six counts, including attempting to travel for the purpose of having sex with minors and possession of child pornography.

Seljan faces a minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 270 years when he is sentenced in March.

The retired business owner is one of about a dozen men who have been arrested under the Protect Act, which was enacted last year. The law made it easier to prosecute those who molest children overseas and increased penalties.

Seljan was the first to go to trial on charges brought under the Protect Act, though at least two men have pleaded guilty.
A federal agent testified that Seljan told investigators he had "sexually educated" young girls in the Philippines with their parents' consent since 1983, and that he believed it was legal and culturally accepted in that country.
I vaguely recall hearing of this new law. Although I'm certainly not a fan of sex tourism or child pornography, the law reeks of an overextension of power. The government has decided that this particular conduct is so heinous that it must, for the good of its people, attempt to prevent them from participating in it. So, what's next? If the government determines that drug usage or prostitution is too despicable, no more flights to Amsterdam? Then, if people travel there from Germany (for example), no more flights to Germany?

Ridiculous, of course, but not too much so. Especially given the recent Republican win. Morals and values will be at the forefront of American government for at least the next 4 years. While often important, this particular aspect is also often too-far emphasized and considered.


Woman wins matchmaking lawsuit:
BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- A federal jury awarded as much as $434,000 to a Ukrainian woman who sued the Internet matchmaking service that set her up with the man who allegedly abused her after they wed.

Nataliya Fox accused Encounters International of fraud and negligence, saying it should have screened its male clients and told her about a law that helps foreign nationals escape abusive relationships without fear of automatic deportation.

Instead, Fox testified, agency owner Natasha Spivack told her to endure the alleged abuse or return to Ukraine.

The agency had said it had no obligation to tell Fox about the so-called battered-spouse waiver because it never recruited her as a client. Spivack testified that Fox made up the story to get a U.S. visa. She said she had only introduced two adults and could not be held responsible for what happened.
Granted I have insufficient information to make a full determination (not that I'll let that stop me right now) but it sounds like the agency should have made it routine practice to inform its clients of this law. You know, your standard "Cover Your Ass" regiment. Hell, that's why us lawyers exist, right? (Or at least one reason.)


Microsoft warns Asian governments of Linux suits:
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp. warned Asian governments on Thursday they could face patent lawsuits for using the Linux operating system instead of its Windows software.

The growing popularity of Linux -- an open-code software that is freely available on the Internet and easily modified by users -- is a threat to the global dominance of Microsoft's Windows.

Linux violates more than 228 patents, according to a recent report from a research group, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the company's Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore.
The Chinese government, in particular, sees its reliance on Microsoft as a potential threat. Conspiracy buffs believe certain patches in the Windows code might give U.S. authorities the power to access Chinese networks and disable them, possibly during a war over Taiwan.

Ballmer said the security fears some governments had about using Microsoft software were overblown.

"We think our software is far more secure than open-source software. It is more secure because we stand behind it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software," he added.
So much is wrong with this one that it's obscene. Let's start with Microsoft trying to instill a sense of hesitancy over an unlitigated matter (or one pending litigation) whose success could severely hurt Microsoft. That sounds like antitrust to me. Next, we have the conspiracy theories and comparisons between the two. I'm sorry, but Microsoft's Windows platform is less secure than Linux. Why? More popular means a better target. Write one virus for Windows or work on variants for Linux flavors? Which is the one-stop shop? And Microsoft is not doing a good job of keeping their operating system ("OS") in good straights. They never have, IMO.

If I could get away with it, if I knew my games and programs would work well, I'd switch to Linux in a heartbeat. Heck, I've already stopped using MSIE (Internet Explorer). I'm already thinking that when I get a new computer (probably in a little less than a year) I'll put a Linux flavor on this, my current-but-then-old computer. Just for fun, to play around with. Hopefully I'll have the time to play with it, too.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Strangest Search Leading to This Blog

The current title-holder:

An MSN Search for "top ten worst serial killers" lead to Top Ten Worst Answers to an Interview Question (Part V).

I'm pretty sure the interview answers were not the least bit helpful although it's scary that that blog page is the best MSN can do with that query. Google's response was at least more apropos if not more helpful. The blog page doesn't show up within the first 200 of Google's search.

Two Quick Ones

Last night, in Forensics, I held a human skull that was from someone who lived in Connecticut around 100-200 years ago.

In review, in Forensics to date, I've handled a pistol (unloaded of course), heard Dr. Lee speak, and seen (and smelled) dead bodies. This class rocks!

Lastly, a link to a post over at The Slithery D:
The American Film Institute is making their list of the 100 greatest movie quotes.
Personally, I think the list is incomplete. No Godfather quotes for one. I'm sure it's also missing some other "classic" movie quotes. Then again, I may be biased based on my age. Still, it's fun to look at their list.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A Few Thoughts

I'm not a hit-whore. (Link-whore? Search-whore? Whore?) I link to stories I think are interesting and/or amusing. Often I comment on them. Occasionally this can lead to a minor spike in readership as I link to or comment on something people are looking for. Like my post that mentioned the MNF Nicole Sheridan incident. Checking my Site Meter referral list, I see 18 searches leading to this blog based on that one small report. I find it rather disconcerting, especially since all I did was quote the CNN piece. Hell, I didn't even see the clip!

To the best of my knowledge, the most inbound-popular pieces for this blog are the two on Pop Rocks. Apparently those posts shows up pretty high for those searches.

Apologies for missing two weekly Top Ten Lists in a row now. As with my initial goal of at least one post a day, the weekly feature goal, too, seems to have fallen by the wayside. While minorly frustrating, especially given there's no good reason I can't have prepared Top Ten Lists, it's probably safe to assume this weekly feature has ceased to be weekly. As I come up with new lists, I shall endeavor to post them on Wednesdays.

I have a new installment (the third so far) of As The Gavel Strikes in the works. It's almost done. I'd probably have posted it today except I have about ten minutes left in Crim. Pro. and it's not ready yet. I spent the early portion of class skimming Rufus' & Jeremy's blogs. My weblog reading quotient has fallen dramatically of late. (Though I always have time to see if Soupie has a new JB up. After all, what's life worth living without JB?)

A Little More

CNN: News anchor appears nude.
CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- A television news anchor appeared on the air nude in a first-person report about an artist's photographs, drawing a record number of viewers for the time slot, the station said.

Sharon Reed was one of hundreds of people who participated in Spencer Tunick's nude photo installation in Cleveland in June. Her report, shown Monday on the 11 p.m. newscast on WOIO-TV, showed far away angles of her nude and some closer seminude shots, as well as other participants.
WOIO news director Steve Doerr said the idea was to cover Tunick, a well-known artist, in a different way. Doerr said the story also was aimed at bringing in ratings during November sweeps when audiences are measured to set advertising rates.

Monday night's newscast received a record 17.1 share, compared with the 13.6 earned during the newscast airing immediately after this year's Super Bowl, according to Broadcasting & Cable, an industry publication.

The station aired advisories before the piece, and FCC spokeswoman Janice Wise on Wednesday said WOIO followed commission rules that prohibit indecent material from being aired on broadcast television from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Doerr said the station received mostly supportive messages from viewers. Reed said she considered it an important story about art.
There's a headshot of her with the CNN piece. Maybe more news programs should "boost their ratings" by showing more "art pieces" like this one. Yeah. Right. Good idea. At least the station admits it's pandering.


CNN: The Kmart-Sears deal - Two of nation's oldest retailers set $11B merger. Will lower prices, better merchandise follow?
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Kmart is buying Sears, Roebuck & Co. for $11 billion in a deal that will marry two of the nation's oldest retailers that had trouble keeping up with the changes in American culture around them.

The deal, announced Wednesday morning, will create the third-largest retailer in the country. The new company, known as Sears Holdings, will be based at Sears headquarters outside Chicago.

While the new company will operate both Sears and Kmart stores, "several hundred" Kmarts will be converted to Sears, Sears Chairman Alan Lacy said at a news conference. The companies currently operate about 3,500 stores combined.
Intriguing and highly relevant to my Antitrust class tomorrow morning. (I already e-mailed the prof.)


Lastly, in a (somewhat) completely expected non-surprise, The Girl has gotten back together with her former ex-fiancee (not that they're engaged again but it wouldn't be too accurate to say ex-fiancee with no qualifier). Again, mildly interesting but not unexpected.

Time for me to start not thinking about the Crim. Pro. homework I haven't done and have to hand in tomorrow afternoon. It's non-graded but I have classes all tomorrow morning so it looks like another 4 or 5-hour sleep, tops. Ah well.