Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Slowly but surely things are winding down. This week was my last week with the judicial internship. Next week I'm going back to the ex employer to teach Exchange as a contract instructor, and finals start the following week.

My article has been published by the Law Review. I was excited about that. First it showed up on the Lew Review web site, then the hard copies came in a few days later. A couple of days after that the article showed up on the legal research services, Westlaw and Lexis. It's quite gratifying to be able to look yourself up on a service like that, and I'm wondering if in the future I will see anyone citing to my article. It didn't come with a job offer, though!

Speaking of, I asked the Judge to look over my resume and he made a couple of suggested changes. I've made those and I'm going to start sending my resume around after this weekend.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Inmates and 45s

Yesterday the interns sat in on some Spears hearings at the Darrington Unit, a correctional facility and home to almost 2,000 inmates. Then we took a tour of the prison. This is the third time I've been to such a place, having visited one in Corpus Christi and the one in Huntsville. For some reason prisons all smell like PE locker rooms. A Spears hearing is where the inmate has made some complaint about his treatment and a judge or magistrate comes in and chats with him to help decide whether the claim has any merit or not. That was interesting.

Anyway, on the way back I made the comment that I thought it was stupid and inconsistent for the RIAA to go after music downloaders when everyone used to record things off the radio and no one seemed too worried about that. One of the other interns--who already has his law degree and is finishing up an LLM in Intellectual Property--argued that didn't interfere with an artist's sales like MP3s do. I said sure it did. If you taped it off the radio you didn't have to buy the 45. He didn't know what I meant by that. He didn't know what a 45 was.

I would say complain about feeling older but someone might accuse me of sounding like a broken record. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mudberry Farms

Now that Halloween’s over, let me take a little time to tell you about all the Halloween events we did this year. I’ll do it in separate posts. I have more photos but Blogger is being uncooperative and I'll add them later.

Saturday, October 21. Dewberry Farms is a place about 25 minutes west of Houston. Nora had read about it on the internet and wanted to check it out. It certainly sounded interesting—a pumpkin patch, hayrides, activities for kids, and best of all a huge maze made in a corn field. We planned to go: Nora, her son, her sister, her niece, my daughter, and me.

It had been raining, so Nora called ahead to make sure that it wouldn’t be too muddy. They assured us it was fine and to come on out. We asked what time it was closing; they said 9:00 pm. We got there about 5:30. Dewberry Farms is expansive land with some thinly spread activity centers. Right at the entrance there is a ticket office, dining area, and gift shop all connected by a sidewalk. Walking through that area, there’s a moon bounce thing to the immediate left for the smaller kids, and a contraption similar to a swing but with sandbags instead of seats. Further out past that are some upended wooden wheels large enough to stand in. People would get inside and walk back and forth. They looked like hamster wheels. To the right, a sidewalk led to a display of animatronic singing chickens like what you might find in a Chuck E. Cheese. Beyond that is a small bike track with some oversized tricycles for the kids. In the very back are trucks for the hayrides that take people to the pumpkin patch. In between it all, or course, there were patches of mud. Generally people could get around it by carefully choosing our path, but some kids were caked in it so badly they looked like they’d absconded from the Romper Room Health Spa.

The kids went straight for the moon bounce. Then they wanted to try the sandbag swings. But when we got over to them we saw that the ground beneath was covered in thick mud. This added a new dimension to the whole swing experience: if you can’t stay on the sandbag seat, you get a buttfull of mud! So we talked them into going over to the hamster wheels instead. Clearly, I hadn’t thought this through. Walk through mud to stand inside a hamster wheel. Mud gets on the bottom of the hamster wheel. Walk around. The mud rotates to the top of the hamster wheel and falls on your head, and then back to the bottom of the wheel. Walk some more, and the process repeats. Fun!

The girls needed to go to the bathroom to wash mud off themselves, so we went over to the bathrooms. Turns out there were no napkins and no toilet paper. I complained to a man working at the nearby snack area. He was a friendly sort who let me know that he wasn’t surprised, and that there had been a lot of people there that day, and they had been cleaned out. I waited for him to say something like “I’ll send someone to go get these necessary items.” But he didn’t. If we needed toilet paper, it seemed we would have to improvise with something from the corn maze.

In case you hadn’t guessed by now, I was ready to go. But I didn’t want to be a stick in the mud (Ha!) so I mostly kept quiet. We stopped to eat some dinner, and by then it was getting very dark. There were no park lights or anything. People were carrying flashlights. We decided to take a hayride. They informed us the hayrides closed at 6:00. What? We were told everything was open till 9:00! OK, whatever. We walked over to the tricycles. Also closed. We put the girls on the trikes anyway and encouraged them to go ahead and do a lap, if they wanted. A volunteer came running over and telling us this area was closed at 6:00 and we couldn’t let them ride because it was too dark and the farm didn’t want to be liable for any injuries. We complained that we were told everything was open till 9:00 and again, we got the “Who told you that? That’s not right” speech.

OK, I admit this pic is a slight exaggeration.Finally, we decided to at least try the maze. That wasn’t closed. We walked over to the entrance to the maze and peered inside. By now it was completely dark. People going into the maze carried flashlights, creating an eerie, uneven light that shifted and moved like a thing alive. By this light we could see that the maze had standing water and deep, soft mud that slurped hungrily at the heels of those foolish enough to wander in. People were sinking into the mud halfway to their knees.

This was too much. We went to the gift shop and complained that (1) we were told everything was open till 9:00, and (2) that there wasn’t going to be mud. I didn’t think to mention the toilet paper issue, but I suppose I should have. They gave us our money back and we went to IHOP for some pancakes and hot coffee.