Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Summer of 2007, part 1

I am finally back on the posting wagon, after a long absence. Here is a quick update of what I have been up to in the past month or two.

I have been working for the U.S. Attorney's office here in Columbus this summer; in particular, the Civil Division. It has been a great experience-I have gotten to work on a variety of different projects, including both research and writing. This has been the first time I have had the opportunity to draft motions for the court, and really see firsthand the impact I am having on cases. In one instance, I got to sit in on a pretrial conference in which the judge would decide how he would rule on motions. It was very gratifying to me to hear the attorney cite the cases from the memo I had prepared, even though these kinds of meetings will be routine in my life as an attorney.

Also, I have gone back to the Vineyard, after having tried other churches in the area. I have found a great men's group there that meets on Saturday mornings, and I am excited about getting together with them once a week to learn Scripture and have fellowship with other guys my age who are fellow believers.

I haven't gotten to do a lot of traveling so far this summer, except back and forth on I-71 between Akron and Columbus. I am planning a couple of trips for later this summer, though. Later this month, I am planning to head down to Cincinnati for a day, to see the Cincinnati Zoo, go back to Newport-on-the-Levee, and possibly go to a Reds game or King's Island.

If I get a chance, I will try and coincide this trip with the Sixth Circuit's oral argument schedule. I have been externing with Judge R. Guy Cole on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this summer, doing research on cases and preparing a bench memorandum, which will be used by other judges to give an overview of the factual background and the legal issues prior to issuing a decision on a case. It would be great if I could see oral argument on at least two or three cases, not just to gain some general legal knowledge, but also to watch some experienced practitioners in the craft in which I hope to engage after graduation.

I am also in the process of applying for judicial clerkships. My goal is to clerk for either a federal Magistrate, District, or Circuit Judge, or for a state court judge in Ohio, either with the Ohio Supreme Court, Ohio Court of Appeals, or a county Court of Common Pleas. I am putting this to prayer, and am going to work hard to show the judges to whom I am applying that I will do a great job as a clerk.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'm Back, At Last

I know it has been a long absence from my regular blog posts, but having been busy with so much for the last six weeks, I am finally through the second year of law school and ready to blog again. Some updates:

- On Monday, I start my summer job with the U.S. Attorney's office in Columbus. I am also working for a federal appeals court judge this summer, in addition to taking an independent study, where I will be writing a paper on a topic relating to civil procedure. I have some other volunteer work and opportunities planned as well, depending on time constraints.

- My other goals for the summer, in addition to working hard at all of my jobs and activities ("activities" mainly being a Managing Editor on the Ohio State Law Journal), include getting in better physical shape, improving my walk with the Lord, and becoming more active in church. The last goal is the one in which I have been lacking, especially this year. It is absolutely critical that this summer, and in my last year in law school, I find a church to call home, and one in which I can get involved and get connected with a solid group of fellow believers. One of the primary characteristics I am looking for in a church is the ability to meet a good number of people my age, in addition to having a culture where members love God and the worship and service aspects are healthy and strong.

- One other thing-I am going to try and blog more often. I know that the last two months have seen a sharp drop in the number of posts, but I am going to try and post at least twice a week now that I am free from the demands of coursework and the second year of law school.

- With what little spare time remains this summer, I am excited about planning lots of cultural and recreational activities, not just in Columbus, but around the state. In Columbus, I want to go see a couple of Clippers baseball games, the Columbus Zoo, and go to a few concerts and plays or musicals, since Explore Columbus offers them at a discount. I am also planning on taking a trip or two out of town, to go to a Cincinnati Reds game, Newport-on-the-Levee, and the Cincinnati Zoo, and to go hiking with a friend in Hocking Hills State Park. If I have time, I am also planning on going with the family down to King's Island, or maybe Cedar Point if we get the chance.

So I am home for the week, relaxing, spending time with my family, and getting ready to start my summer job(s) next week. It is going to be a great summer, and I am looking forward to posting about it on here soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

News From the Infirmary

I am still sick from the weekend, but I wanted to make another long-awaited post:

- Easter for me didn't go so well. I stayed in the apartment sick all weekend, so I didn't get to go home or even go to church. I did get to watch "The Ten Commandments" and "Cast Away," so the night wasn't a total loss. Fortunately, I am going home this weekend, so we will be eating our Easter ham a week later than normal.

- I recently found out that I will be working for the U.S. Attorney here in Columbus this summer. I will be in the Civil Division, serving as a law clerk for cases in which the federal government is a party. It will be tough to be away from my family during the week, but I am planning on having a lot of fun in addition to my work. Some of the trips I am planning include going to Cincinnati and visiting Newport-on-the-Levee again, going to Cedar Point, and hiking in Hocking Hills State Park.

- I will have pictures from my Moot Court trip to Newark and New York soon.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

New Blogs

I have redesigned the features you see to your right, creating a new list just for blogs, and including the blogs I check regularly. Check them out if you get a chance. The new additions are:

- Phi Beta Cons
- The Volokh Conspiracy
- SCOTUSblog
- The Drizzle
- Letter to the World
- The Hook
- Ken Jennings (of "Jeopardy!" fame)
- That's Dynamite, Baby
- Jaired Hall (a fellow Blackstone alum from Regent Law School)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dollar Coins and Grocery Shopping

Not really a connection, just two observations I had for today:

- Today really impressed upon me how much of a difference brand identification makes when you go to the grocery store. Today, instead of getting all my groceries at Giant Eagle like I normally do, I went to Aldi to buy some. If they are not in your area, Aldi is a discount grocery store-it's set up on the inside much like a warehouse, with boxes of items in rows lining the aisles, instead of your normal grocery store, where the items are arranged on shelves. Also, you bag your own groceries-you can buy bags at the store for a nickel apiece, or you can bring your own bags or take any empty boxes that are laying around.

It's different than the normal grocery store, but nearly everything is much cheaper than you would find it at Giant Eagle, Kroger or any of the "traditional" grocery stores in your neighborhood. The food you buy is a "generic" brand, like "Toasted Corn" instead of "Kellogg's Corn Flakes" for example, but so far, everything I have bought has tasted the same, and cost about half as much. The best deal I got today was on cereal-I bought the generic corn flakes at Aldi, and paid less than half as much as a box of Kellogg's cereal from Giant Eagle. Cereal is definitely overpriced, and I, for one, am tired of overpaying for it.

And you have to ask yourself-why are you paying $4.00 a box for cereal (and some of the "health" cereals like Product 19 are even more than that)? The answer: packaging. You're paying an extra two bucks, the price of a cup of coffee or an hour of parking at the Statehouse, so that you can have Tony the Tiger, or Captain Crunch, or whichever cartoon character you want staring back at you when you open the cupboard in the morning. Then when you go to pour the cereal into the bowl, and eat it, you get the exact same thing. Really, what else matters besides taste, price, and nutrition? This just shows how susceptible we all are to brand identification. Granted, not all generic products are the same as their brand-name counterparts, but many of them are. We just don't give them a try because we have been socialized to drink Pepsi, eat Kellogg's and General Mills cereal, wash our clothes with Tide, and get our morning coffee from Folger's or Maxwell House.

- Being the avid follower of presidential history and trivia that I am, I was excited to hear about the new dollar coins being issued by the U.S. Mint depicting each of the presidents, starting with George Washington. They just came out this past month, but many of the coins (by U.S. Mint estimates, about 50,000) have been found to be missing the words "In God We Trust" that were supposed to be printed on the rim. This has led to accusations that the motto was intentionally omitted, supposedly as a way of conditioning Americans to becoming accustomed to using money with the motto removed. Here's the story.

I think it was an honest mistake. If they had left off "In God We Trust" and nothing else, I would be inclined to think that it may not have been accidental, or that maybe Michael Newdow had found a new government job. But what was left off was the entire inscription on the edge, which, in addition to "In God We Trust," includes "E Pluribus Unum" and the date. And since it only happened to a relatively small number of coins, 50,000 out of 300 million struck, and at the beginning of the process in which they are being issued, this seems to go against the idea that there is some kind of conspiracy afoot.

Besides, if the idea was to get the public accustomed to "godless" money, why use dollar coins? Most people don't use them on a daily basis, case in point being the Sacajawea dollars that came out a few years ago. I just hope that this doesn't discourage the U.S. Mint from producing new coins-I am still collecting the state quarters, and I am planning to collect the new dollar coins too. I will be lucky to get one of the "error" coins, though.

The Lamp Unto My Feet

Some of the Scripture verses/passages I need to remember/am going to meditate on this week (all are from the KJV):

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk but not faint." -Isaiah 40:31

"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. / But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, / Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; / Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" -Titus 3:3-6

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? / For ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Just some initial thoughts, even though the new week is still to come:

- I don't want to give the impression that I am taking the passage from Titus out of context. Verses 1-2 read "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work. / To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men." I think the message here is to work as approved before the Lord, and not to have an overly critical attitude toward others, staring them down for their weaknesses. The reason is simple: we were at one time sinners, equally in need of a Savior as those who so desperately need Him now. And, of course, we are still sinners, but have been redeemed. Not because we were inherently better than the people who have not yet responded to the Gospel, but because of the work of Jesus at Calvary. God had mercy on our souls.

This is something of which I continually need to remind myself. Beginning in high school, and continuing today, I struggle with the attitude of "forget them all." My (misguided) instinct is to watch out just for myself and the people I love, while turning my back to the sinners all around. But nothing could be further from the attitude of Christ.

My prayer this week is that I start to grow more tolerant of the people around me. Not just my classmates, but the imperfections of the average person I encounter every day-the reckless driver who cuts me off in traffic, or the people who make too much noise on High Street at night. I know that patience is not my strongest personality trait-but it is surfacing more often, day by day. Every time I hold my tongue in traffic, or remain calm at the trivial annoyances of others, I count this a small spiritual victory.

- Waiting upon the Lord is starting to come a little easier too. It used to be that I had to have what I wanted, when I wanted it, all the time. I still struggle with this sometimes, but it is waning as I get older. I have come to realize a simple truth: all my complaining, hand-wringing, and doubting is not going to move mountains, add an hour to my life (which I could really use right now, by the way), or do anything else to accomplish the Lord's work. I know now that I am better off putting that energy into dealing with the problem, thus using it constructively.

Lately, I have begun putting my entire future in God's hands. I have pretty much thrown out "the script," a plan for my life I formulated in high school, and replaced it with a desire to move in the direction God wants me to go. Of course, I still make general plans, and still have an idea of what I want to do after I graduate, for example. But my plans now include the one ingredient that was missing before-flexibility. Ultimately, I am not the one in charge. The challenge I face as a Christian is to keep growing and making progress, and learning to accept that I am guided by the One who holds time itself in His hands.

- Finally, I want this week to be a time where I take better care of myself. In law school, it is easy to fall behind on things like sleep, exercise, and good eating habits if you're not careful. In the haste of keeping up with my commitments, I sometimes forget these basics, and my health and well-being sometimes suffers as a result. Part of being a mature Christian (and a legal professional) is maintaining my body as a well-oiled machine for God's work. Starting this week, I am going to get back on track, by eating better, losing some excess weight, and getting plenty of sleep.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Uncle Sam

That's who I'll be working for this fall. I got the call today, and I am excited. In particular, I will be working for the United States Attorney in Columbus, part time, in the Civil Division. This is a great opportunity to get some work experience during my third year, and possibly a chance to advance my career if I work hard and God wills it to happen.

My basic focus during law school has been fourfold: maintain good grades, excel at Law Journal and Moot Court, keep active with extracurricular activities/volunteer work, and get as much practical work experience as possible. I think that so far, I have kept up with each of these, and I will be a formidable candidate for a good job after graduation.

By the way....I apologize to anyone who checks my blog daily (if there are any of you left) for the dearth of posts lately. Moot Court, Law Journal, the Legislation Clinic, and my work-study job have been teaming up to give me a run for my money schedule-wise. I will try and post more regularly from now on.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Goal.....All 50 States

Check out this site, which gives you a map where you can plot the states you've visited. I actually found it off Rebecca's blog, "The Mercied," so you'll have to ask her where she got it.

I have only been to 16 states, plus the District of Columbia. That might be more than many people have had the chance to visit, but my goal (which, of course, you can figure out by reading the title to this post) is to visit all 50 states someday. It is an obsession of mine ever since I was a little boy, and we went to Disney World, which is when I got to go through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and then Tennessee and Kentucky on the way home. I hadn't really thought about visiting more until last summer, when I got to visit Arizona (a beautiful state) and Massachusetts (lots of history). So as of this post, my map looks like this:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I will get to visit at least two more this year-New Jersey in a few weeks for the Moot Court competition, and Connecticut in August for the Acton Institute convention. So after this summer, my map will look like this:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

And of course, here is the ultimate goal:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Here are the top 5 states I am looking forward to travelling to someday:

1) Utah-I have heard a lot about it from my friend who has worked in Zion National Park. I thought I would want to avoid the desert after spending a couple of weeks in the burning heat of Arizona, but there is something incredible about the vast expanses of the West, something that I got only a small taste of, and that made me want to go back. In Utah, I want to see the Arches and Zion national parks, the Wasatch mountains, and Promontory Point, the site of the "golden spike" that completed the transcontinental railroad.

2) Oregon/Washington (tie)-I have always wanted to see the Pacific Northwest, especially the Oregon coast where they filmed "The Goonies." I've heard that it is rainy there, but I'd take that over snow any time. Plus, Washington would be a cool place to visit to see the Space Needle and Mount Rainier. Seattle is the headquarters of Starbucks-one trip there and I could JOG back to Ohio.

3) Wyoming-Yellowstone is the big attraction here, plus Devil's Tower, but really, most of the state is a national park. It's not crowded, and would be the ideal place to go camping for a few weeks, or maybe a few months after I retire. It's probably one of the few places left in the United States where you can go to find real "wilderness," and hopefully I will either get to know someone with land here, or I can buy it myself.

4) Vermont-I'd like to take a trip through New England; a couple of my friends went through here last May, and visited 9 states in 7 hours. Really, I could pick any of the New England states here (except Massachusetts, since I have been there already), but Vermont and New Hampshire would be nice to see, especially in the fall. Plus, on the way there I could stop to see some Revolutionary War sites, like Fort Ticonderoga in New York.