Monday, December 31, 2007

Giants Pics

Finally, some pictures from our trip to Giants Stadium!

Halftime picture taken by some friendly fans. Notice the blanket I have wrapped around me. It was so cold! I have my gloves off because I was just taking a picture of Rob. The rest of the game I had two pairs of gloves on. And yes, those are my new glasses... I'm so old I have to wear glasses all the time now!

The younger Manning talks to his boys when they're backed up in their own endzone.

This was the exact view of the field from our seats.

Right before the snap.

The Giants coming down field later in the game. Eli prepares to pass.

Rob enjoying the scenery.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from Seattle

Or to be more precise, Bainbridge Island.

Rob and I are on Bainbridge Island, just across the water from Seattle, visiting my mom in her new home for Christmas. The house is fantastic -- it's a cottage in the woods and only a short walk from the beach.

The weather has been very rainy. But yesterday we saw the sun. So we wandered down to the beach to explore a bit. After a ton of walking, we headed to downtown Bainbridge to see National Treasure 2, which was surprisingly entertaining. Today we even got some snow!

We arrived on Friday after a looong journey from Chicago. True to form, I was working quite a bit last week. Silly me thinking the end of trial means the end of a case! Thursday evening I finally put my projects to bed and headed home to do laundry, clean, put the final touches on (i.e. finish purchasing) Resa and Nick's presents (they were coming over to exchange gifts) and pack. By 2am, Rob and I were finally ready to go to bed.

Unfortunately for us, the alarm went off at 2:45am because Resa was picking us up to go to the airport at 3:30am. Seriously. We had a 5am flight to Phoenix with just 30 minutes to connect to our Seattle flight. The 5am flight was about $200 cheaper per person, so we couldn't pass it up, but 45 minutes of sleep following the last two months of craziness at work was not easy. (Major sister bonus points, though, to Resa for driving us to the airport at 3:30am!)

Not surprisingly for O'Hare, even though our flight could have left on time -- weather was fine, crew was there, bags were loaded, passengers were chomping at the bit to get on the plane -- we boarded just a few minutes before our scheduled departure time and then took off about 30 minutes late. A few minutes before we landed in Phoenix, we knew our only hope was a delay on our connecting flight as well.

Rob and I mapped out a strategy. Rob was responsible for our carry-ons so that the moment the "fasten seatbelt" sign turned off, I could race off the plane to our connection in the hopes that I could somehow keep the plane on the ground long enough for Rob to catch up. Well the first part of the plan worked. I was the first person off the plane... and thus, the first person in line to get ourselves rebooked on a later connection to Seattle. This turned out to be particularly fortuitous because others on our Chicago flight were also bound to Seattle and didn't make the 2:30pm connection we eventually got on. (Our original connection departed at 8:30am.)

I got a nice nap in at the Phoenix airport until about 11am when we learned we weren't going to make it off the standby list for the first flight to Seattle after our scheduled flight. So we enjoyed some Pizza Hut pizza for lunch and read the latest US Weekly as we waited for the 2:30 flight. We finally made it to Seattle around 5:30pm. We were thrilled to find that our bags were already there!! We were sure they'd be lost for days.

Through some other bizarre miracle, my Blackberry worked through Friday night, long enough for me to get the emails that our final court filings had been received, but then shut down its data retrieval capabilities. The result has left me entirely disconnected from work, which I actually really needed.

I am so glad for the break. I am not surprisingly fighting my way through a cold. I think my body had been trying to get sick for the past 6 weeks, but my mind kept talking my body out of it for the sake of my sanity. Especially last week when the end was in sight even when sleep was not. So on Saturday it finally caught up with me. Sleeping in four days in a row has been amazing though. Sick or not.

We've had a great Christmas so far. I bought Rob a Wii off of eBay (which is what happens when you start Christmas shopping on December 18th-ish). The Wii successfully arrived at my mom's on the 24th with the original store receipt attached just in case -- nice! The Guitar Hero III, however, did not arrive on the 24th. But Rob is having a blast with the Madden 2008 game my mom bought for him. Meanwhile I'm enjoying my gorgeous necklace and earrings from Rob. I've never had such a glamorous present!

Anyway, it's been a nice and relaxing Christmas for us. I even finished reading a book today. Atonement, which I am not sure I liked. I tried to read it a couple years ago, but got bored. I want to see the movie though, so I had to finish the book! I loved the style and the writing. It was brilliant. But still I got bored at times, frustrated at others. I didn't ever get sucked in.

Post-reading, tonight was capped off with a fantastic turkey dinner. Even better... I have just a tiny bit of work to do between now and New Year's. So this week I will really truly be catching up on the emails I probably owe everyone who is reading this! Phone calls too. :)

In the mean time, thank you for all the Christmas cards. I'm beyond impressed with those of you who manage to fit those in your hectic lives! They are all hanging on our kitchen wall at home and we LOVE all the adorable photographs of the kids. I am always overwhelmed when I have a calm moment to reflect and realize just how lucky we are to be connected to so many amazing people scattered around the globe. I love that Christmas is a reminder of that.

So to everyone out there, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!! We love you!

P.S. The best part about my new job is that when all the holiday solicitations from nonprofits come in the mail, I can write a check to as many as I want. Here are a few I have written (or still plan to write) checks to, just in case you are looking for some additional worthy causes: Lakeview Pantry, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Off the Street Club, Planned Parenthood Chicago (who has a donor matching donations dollar for dollar through the New Year!!), Teach for America, Teb's Troops.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Trip to Mecca

That's what Rob called it, at least.

On Sunday night Rob and I went to Giants Stadium for Rob's first home NY Giants game. I'm sure it's shocking to some of you that Rob -- the world's biggest Giants fan -- had never before made it to a Giants game in East Rutherford. But it's true.

Earlier this fall, I bought a pair of tickets for Rob for his birthday. I picked a late season game against the division rival Redskins. If I'd been a bit more selfish, I probably would have picked a game earlier in the season because I'm not a big fan of sitting out in the cold.

After some logistical snafus (the Giants' website asks fans to please take public transportation because of their limited parking, but the public transportation options are even more limited), Rob's sister Gena swooped in to rescue us from our Newark "airport hotel" ($18 cab fare from the airport to the hotel... yet it's still "at the airport." Hmmm.). Anyway, Gena picked us up and drove us to the stadium with a little help from a GPS system.

We arrived a few minutes before kickoff. Rob grabbed a beer, I grabbed a hot chocolate, and we settled into our seats -- row 18, right behind one of the endzones. The temperature was a bit brutal. The wind was worse. But I've never seen so much Giants' blue in my life.

The first half was anything but pretty as Eli threw a few shaky incompletes and then his receivers started dropping great pass after great pass. I think the Giants managed a field goal, but I don't think they managed 100 yards of offense. They had a frustrating string of 4th and inches through the half.

Rob and I circled the stadium during halftime to get warm. We got back to our section as the second half got underway, but took seats back in row 36. Closer to the back wall and further from the wind's reach. Turns out that 36 is luckier than 18 -- the Giants scored a touchdown on their first serious drive of the game.

We were freezing, but the game was finally close. The Giants marched down the field again in the fourth, but failed to score from about 20 yards out. Then the wind carried their field goal attempt into no good territory. There was a fair amount of time left in the game, but the Giants needed two touchdowns. We knew it was not meant to be... so we walked out of the stadium in search of a way back to our hotel.

We'd been told that cabs lined up at a certain location outside the stadium. Not exactly. There were no cabs. There were small traffic jams of limos and buses. And the cab company whose number we had was not answering its phone. I thought we might die of exposure. Okay, maybe not, but I was insanely cold.

Miraculously, a few minutes later Rob spotted a cab in the distance. I told him to run for it and he took off -- snagging the cab and my undying affection just seconds before another pair of freezing fans. I was quite relieved.

We made it back to the hotel and packed our stuff. Our flight was Monday morning at 7:30am. Fortunately for us, our hotel made making the flight super easy. They didn't call us for our wake up call. The hotel alarm clock didn't work. They wouldn't call a cab for us until we got downstairs. When they finally did call a cab it never came. And when we gave up and took the hotel shuttle 20 minutes later, the shuttle dropped us off at the international terminal.

We made it to security, only to wait 20 minutes past our flight's boarding time while a mere 20 people sloooooooowwwwwly inched their way into one of those new security screening machines and then sloooooooooowwwwwwwwwwly inched their way out. After I got through, I grabbed my shoes and ran for the gate to make sure our flight didn't leave without us, leaving Rob to pick up all the rest of our things.

We made it to the plane, but of course the overhead baggage compartments were full. So we checked two bags -- as the flight attendant lectured us for having a large carry-on bag.

We made it home though. Thank goodness. Who knew I'd have another Newark adventure so soon.

I know it's been a while, so I'll post pictures tonight, along with everything else that's been going on in our lives. My trial work still isn't quite over, even though the trial itself is, so I've fallen behind on everything. I can't believe it's almost Christmas and I have virtually nothing for anyone!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


The week of Thanksgiving kept me pretty busy. I'm still busy. But I have been meaning to post about what I'm thankful for at this time of thanks. Better late than never, so here goes.

I am thankful to be married to the world's greatest husband -- someone who values me, gets me, cracks me up, shares my passions, and loves me... and also happens to be the best and hottest and awesomest ;) guy I've ever met.

I am thankful for my family, who I love through everything, and I am thankful we are all healthy. I am especially thankful for my mom, for everything she always does for me. I am thankful to have brothers(-in-law, or -almost-in-law) for the first time. I am thankful to live in the same city as one of my sisters. I am thankful that my family-in-law is so awesome (and I continue to be more and more thankful for this when I hear others' in-law stories :). I am thankful for being an aunt.

I am thankful to have a job that I love, including challenging work and brilliant co-workers.

I am thankful that our country still has a wealth of freedoms. I am thankful for the right to dissent publicly. I am thankful for Justice Ginsburg's dissents and Dahlia Lithwick's columns.

I am thankful for my wealth of friends. I am blessed beyond measure when it comes to friends. I am thankful for shared passions with friends. I am thankful for heated debates with friends. I am thankful my friends don't mind that I'm terrible at keeping in touch.

I am thankful (and rather surprised) that even though I rarely exercise and rarely eat well, I'm not terribly unhealthy.

I am thankful to be a homeowner and a not-falling-apart car owner. I am thankful to be financially secure.

I am thankful for television. I am thankful for books. I am thankful for football season. I am thankful for lazy Sundays at home (which I really miss these days).

I am thankful that I am emotional. I am thankful that I am happy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The subject will come as no surprise...

I got a Letter to the Editor published. Very exciting. :)

The Post folks were really great and printed the letter almost entirely as I submitted it.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Most of you know I'm away on trial right now in New Jersey. My first case as a practicing attorney. It's an exciting endeavor that I can't say much about, for obvious reasons. I can say, though, that the experience has gotten me thinking about my career quite a bit.

The thing about litigation, at least trial work, is that there is only one acceptable option. As I stare down what I hope will be a long career as a litigator, I realize that there's no way I can live up to my typical perfectionist standards. When I get to the point of second-chairing or first-chairing a trial, winning 100% of the time might not be possible. I wonder how I'll navigate that.

Well, tonight I heard a great random quote on television. "Success all the time tells you nothing except that you're very lucky." It put a smile on my face. Failing every now and then can be an advantage if you're willing to learn from it, right? Although I also subscribe to the wisdom handed down by another lawyer at my firm: "If you do your best, you will win. If you do your best and you don't win, no one could have won." A little more ego there, but I like it. :)

So I am doing my best. We'll see how my career goes. Can't wait to be back in touch with everyone once I get home!!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is Santa anti Katherine?!

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Oh! You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why

Many if not all of you may know that this is the chorus to a very famous Christmas jingle. For years I had never really thought about the lyrics. But now that I am married to Katherine, I have to say I am appalled. Katherine is the world's most accomplished pouter. If you have not had the pleasure of seeing this, make sure you ask her to pout for you. It's perfect! And now it appears that Santa has a long standing vendetta against Katherine, and I for one will not stand for it.

So I'm starting a campaign to repel this onslaught of anti-pouting. I don't know exactly how I am going to do this, but I'm certain it requires me to stay up on December 24 to have a little chat with Mr. Kringle. Don't worry, I'm not going to get violent, but I do anticipate the exchange to be heated. If this causes any of you to not receive your gifts on the 25th, I apologize. But I cannot allow Santa to continue with this reckless and ill informed rhetoric. Katherine deserves better ;)

(You see, this is what this blog is reduced to when Katherine is too busy to post.)

*Legal disclaimer: All threats made or percieved to be made against Kris Kringle, or any of his many aliases, are satirical in nature, blah, blah, blah (and yes, that is a valid legal term, at least in the Unified North Pole Court System).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Do you have good taste? I knew ya did!

If you're reading this blog, that means you have good taste. Since you have good taste, it also means you're a NY Giants fan. So me telling you that the NY Football Giants are 6-2 and playing the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday with first place in the NFC East on the line is old news... because you're a NY Giants fan. Get it, it's voodoo circular logic. Which basically means that all things center and return to the NY Giants.

Katherine probably thinks I should be saying this on my NY Giants blog. But I have given up that blog for the time being because I haven't blogged on it for quite some time and the Giants are on a 6 game winning streak. Since it has been established in the above paragraph that you all are as big a fan of the Giants as I am, you understand that my non-blogging is the sole reason for this win streak. So why wreck a good thing.

And that leads me to the point of this post. Everyone was focused on the Colts/Patriots game last week. I don't really understand why. Last time I checked, the Giants weren't playing in that game... which means it was... how should I say this... not as important as it would have been had the Giants been playing. Since the Giants will be playing one of these teams in the Super Bowl, I guess it did provide context for the inevitable matchup.

Go Giants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Still MIA

I'm off being a lawyer, or some other nonsense.

In the mean time, here's some reading I'm sneaking in when I have a (very rare) few free seconds.

Interesting article in light of the current AG nominee. Follow the links within to take it all in.

I've read a lot of the reviews of this book, but this one has resonated with me the most. Although I'm not a fan of the picture.

The dissent in this case.

And as a twin married to a twin, this hit home a bit.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A couple more pics from Rox's wedding

Towards the end of the night as it got a little chilly.

Before the ceremony, Roxanna and I posed for pictures. This is definitely one of my favorite pictures with Roxanna of all time!

Heading out

In the not so distant future, I'll be shipping off for trial. To get ready, I hit the local CVS drugstore to buy a new set of toiletries. Rob and I share lots of things, from soap to toothpaste to shampoo, so I figured I'd buy a new set of everything, throw it in a box and put it on the truck heading off to our trial site. No other way to describe my bill at CVS except WHOA. I've got some expensive habits. I think I'd rather live in ignorance.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of free time, but I thought I'd post some belated pics in lieu of writing a long update. Not much to say anyway. I will post more soon though... or I'll make Rob post.

Tim and Emily came over (as did Resa and Nick, but we don't have a picture of them) for the ALCS Game 5. It didn't go as hoped. Check out our lovely new couch, though, and our lovely new dining room table behind. The table expands to seat eight. How married-couple-ish of us. You can also get a glimpse of our stalled home improvement projects. You can see the yellow walls we still haven't painted and the mirror we don't want to hang until our walls are painted.

Rob and I put on our rally caps in the final inning, but still it was not to be. At least we have this comfortable new chair.

I was a pumpkin for Halloween. Resa and Nick have an annual Halloween party, so we made a quick appearance last night in between memos. It's a challenge these days to find a female adult costume that doesn't involve quite a bit of cleavage. Rob was an Old West bandit, but alas, he didn't model for a picture.

Monday, October 22, 2007

And in other news...

Go Rockies!!!!

Tears were flowing last night. I wish they'd been tears of joy, but it wasn't meant to be.

Wembley Week

On Sunday, the NY Giants will be visiting the Miami Dolphins in London's Wembley Stadium. Therefore, Katherine and I will be celebrating everyday of this week leading up to the game. Each night we will feast on food that represents some portion of the game. Tonight, we kick things off with thin crust NY style pizza (not as difficult to find in Chicago as you might think... if you know where to go). Other celebratory feasts will include English Pub food, Cuban food, Indian food, and whatever I can think of that celebrates either London, NYC and Miami.

For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that I have been planning a trip to London to see this game. Alas, I pulled the plug when I realized it would cost several thousand dollars to pull it off (don't worry though, K bought us tickets to see the Giants at Giants Stadium in December... she's awesome like that). So, I am finding new and better ways to celebrate. Luckily for Katherine the Giants are on a 5 game winning streak, so I have been in good spirits (win number 1 was a comeback win against the Redskins, which makes it that much sweeter).

Go Giants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

GO TRIBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight I came home, opened my computer, and got right back to work. Lots to do. Fortunately, I had a lovely sight to keep me company -- the Cleveland Indians winning Game 4 of the ALCS. I was close to having an even lovelier sight to view tonight, as I actually had tickets to the game. But duty (aka work) called, so I handed over my tickets to my Uncle Jim. He lives in DC, but he was planning on making the round trip to and from Cleveland just for the game. I hope he did in fact make it because the game was SO AWESOME!!!! My eyes were brimming with tears as the game reached the top of the ninth.

Now that my work is done for the evening, it's time to wax poetic. The Cleveland Indians are my first sports love. I grew up going to games at the old stadium in the 1980s when it was just me, my family, and a smattering of fans. Back then I thought that it was normal for a foul ball to land in the middle of rows and rows of empty seats. My dad and my uncles would race off to grab it, and they were pretty fast, so I also thought that it was a pretty typical day at the ballpark to leave with a foul ball. Ah, the good old days.

By the 1990s, I had a better understanding of the game and by 1995 I was in jaw-dropping awe of the Tribe shortstop who could catch line drives with his bare hand. My love for Omar has never faded, even though he's now a Giant. (Thank god he's never been a Yankee.)

In 1995, the Indians were on a roll and landed in the playoffs. My then-boyfriend was a Red Sox fan. When the Indians knocked the Sox out of the playoffs and headed to the Series, my boyfriend became a Braves fan just to cheer against the Indians. I'm not sure he realized how bad an idea that was. I was livid for weeks. Probably also due in part to the Indians' loss.

The Indians had another shot in 1997 against the Marlins. Game 7 was on a Sunday night but my improv comedy group did a show every Sunday night at 11pm. I had to show up for pre-show warmups at 10pm so I reluctantly wandered out of my sorority house late in the game. (Somehow, I'd managed to turn a handful of my sisters into not just baseball fans, but Indians fans, so it was pretty awesome that they kept watching the game when I left.) I doubt I was very funny in my show. As soon as it was over, I asked everyone I knew in the audience if they'd caught the end of the game. Wrong crowd.

I raced back home, knowing the game was over and praying for the best. I ran into my friend Kwesi and asked him about the game. "Go FLOR-I-DA!!!!!" he yelled. I'd forgotten he was from Florida. Maybe that's why we're not in touch any more. I walked into my sorority house to see my sister Cara with tears in her eyes. She and some of the other girls jumped up to comfort me. Pretty adorable. But I was crushed.

By 1999, I knew everything about every player for the Indians. I could also make a relatively decent argument why Omar Vizquel was more valuable than Derek Jeter. (I admit, part of that argument has faded over time. Grrr.) I could tell you the order and batting averages of the entire starting line up. I proudly wore my Tribe gear to Yankees stadium when Cleveland was in town. My then-boyfriend Mark was a Yankees fan. (Mark, do you like "then-boyfriend" better? :) Mark was also Jewish. So we decided that if we ever got married, I'd be okay raising the kids Jewish as long as they were Indians fans. They could not be Yankees fans. Anything but that.

Well, also that fall, I started working at McKins-y in NYC. As luck would have it, I got sent to Cleveland just as the playoffs kicked off. Somehow we scored tickets to the game, where I embarrassed my co-worker with my "Omar for MVP" sign. We were only 20 rows back a little past third base. During warmups, Omar and Kenny Lofton were in the outfield, so I raced down to the front of my section to wave my sign. There I stood, Vizquel jersey on my back, Vizquel sign waving overhead. Lofton and Omar walked back towards the dugout when Lofton spotted me. He nudged Omar and pointed to me sign. Omar looked at me, half smiled, and nodded. Right at me. Yup, Omar knows me. The Indians won that night. A Colon vs. Martinez pitching duel ending 2-1. I was ecstatic. The Tribe took game 2. And then... they imploded. They scored more than 15 runs over the next three games, but Boston scored about 40. Seriously. I cried as I watched the last game from a television in one of the lobbies at work.

Management started chipping away at the team. The Indians flirted with glory again in 2001, but faded in the ALDS against the Mariners. They've been "re-building", sans Omar, ever since.

Until now.

Is it too much to dare to hope for a Cleveland Indians World Series championship in the same year as an Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl victory? Probably. But please let it happen anyway. Forty-nine years is too long to wait for this! I can't believe the Tribe is this close but work will prevent me from going to the Series. But I will be there every second in spirit. The Tribe keeps breaking my heart, but I know it's not their fault. Thank god the real fans have shown up for the playoffs... unlike the fans from August!

Welcome Sophie!

Yesterday, our friends Heather and Blair welcomed to the world their daughter Sophie Jacqueline! Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations to the whole family. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

One More Thing...

I should also say that we had a blast when Kyle and Taber (and Taber's sister Vanessa) were in town for the marathon. On Friday, some co-workers invited me to a happy hour, but I declined, saying my in-laws are in town. The co-worker asked, "In-laws? Is that good or bad." "Good!" I replied. And it's absolutely the truth.

Kyle and Taber are not just family, but two of our best friends. We were especially happy to treat them to hospitality in our hometown because they were our saviors while I was in law school. They live just 30 minutes from Philly, so whenever Rob and I needed to get away, we'd invite ourselves over. I still remember one time when we showed up for a visit out of the blue. Kyle opened the door, saw it was Rob, and threw her arms around him. It was awesome. That is the enthusiasm with which Kyle and Taber have welcomed me into their family. And it's also why it's no surprise that Rob married someone with so much in common with his twin sister. Felicity forever, Kyle! ;)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life is Busy, Work is Long

On a brief hiatus from a short work project I want to finish tonight (er, this morning) since I've got a long list of other work projects to get through this weekend, so I thought I'd check back into blog world. This means I'm only a step away from starting to return friends' emails again soon... hopefully.

Things have been busy, which I suppose is not really new. Now that I'm a practicing attorney, I can't talk too much about the work aspects of life that are keeping me busy.Too bad actually, because there's a ton I'd love to talk about. Everything is so new. Suffice to say, there's a lot going on.

The rest of our life has been jam-packed as well. Our brother-in-law Taber finished 18 miles of the Chicago marathon last Sunday before it was called off by race officials due to the extreme heat -- record highs! We are very glad he's okay and that he made it so far and that he raised another $2400 for cancer research. He's off to the NYC marathon in November and it looks like Rob and I will be at the finish line for that one.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see this marathon. I hit the road on Sunday morning to DC to go to my law school friend Sarah's wedding. Sarah is not only a great friend, but has also been a great mentor to be through law school and beyond. The wedding was gorgeous, with two very moving poems read by friends of the happy couple. Probably the best wedding readings I've ever heard. My law school friend Mark and his wife Mary, two people I love love love, were at the wedding, so it was great to catch up with them. They live far away in Brooklyn. I think this was also the first wedding I've been to without Rob since Fall 2002! I definitely missed not having him with me on the dance floor.

My trip to DC was a bit of a whirlwind. I left Chi-town at 10am on Sunday, arrived in DC, checked into my hotel, raced to the mall to buy a dress to wear at the wedding, ran back to my hotel to get ready, headed out to the wedding, partied it up, went back to the hotel to do some work, went to sleep at 1am, then woke up at 4:30am to make it to the airport on time. When I got on the plane coming home on Monday morning at 6:30am, I noticed it had the same flight crew as my flight the day before. I think that means my stay was too short.

Back to work I go, but since I've used the blog to complain about bad service from random companies from time to time, I should share one more thing. I called T-Mobile the other day because we had a random $17 charge on our last bill. After explaining the issue, I was put on hold for a few seconds. Then the operator came back, apologized profusely, said there was no excuse for the charge, and removed it.


Who knew companies could be nice?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No, we're not ignoring you...

I know it's been forever since we've blogged. Life has been crazy. My new job is keeping me particularly busy, but I'm truly loving it. The team of lawyers I'm currently working with could not be more welcoming. The work is challenging. I've got a ton on my plate. But I'm happy, which is what it's all about.

I've also neglected to blog about all the amazing meals we've had lately. Our friends Ali and Eddie have cooked two divine meals for us lately -- one this past weekend and one the weekend before. Duck two ways, cog* au vin, homemade dumplings and more. My waistline best expresses my appreciation.

The weekend before last, our friends Tim and Emily made us a phenomenal braised (I think) pork dish. Oh my gosh it was great. We don't deserve our friends' amazingness in the kitchen!

This past weekend we were also so happy to have my beloved law school friend Cobin visiting us. He's in his last year of med school out in Utah (yes, he took time off from med school to go to law school). He had a test to take in Chicago, so he got to spend four days out here hanging out afterwards. I can never say it enough -- having good friends around is perfection. I haven't seen Cobin in more than a year, so it was fantastic to catch up. Cobin and Rob took part in cooking the fabulous meal we ate on Saturday night. The two of them and Eddie were a sight to see in the kitchen. I swung by Eddie and Ali's around 6pm to see them chopping and searing like mad. I helped too -- I set the table. :)

As if that weren't enough fun, Saturday during the day, my little sister Resa and I went wedding dress shopping. She's getting married in April. We hit a few stores and found lots of nice dresses. Not that I'm biased, but my sister is gorgeous, so everything looked fantastic. The last dress she tried, though, a Romona Keveza gown at Macy's, was beyond stunning. As soon as she put it on I started crying. Then she started crying. We were a mess. I think we may have found a winner.

Then on Sunday Rob and I bought some new furniture for our place. A couch and an oversized chair. So comfortable. We can't wait for them to arrive... although that won't be for a couple more weeks.

Tomorrow Rob's sister Kyle, her husband Taber, and Taber's sister Vanessa arrive in town. Taber's running the Chicago marathon on Saturday, which I think will be about his sixth marathon. He's raising money with his run for Lance Armstrong's Live Strong Foundation. Pretty awesome.

I guess the last thing I should say is that I'm pretty devastated by the U.S. Women's National Team's loss in the World Cup this past weekend. The loss to Brazil... there still are no words. But the third-place game against Norway was truly inspired. Hopefully it'll set the tone for the future. I'm hoping I can find some free seconds this weekend to write an article for ASN on how it all turned out, especially the goalkeeper controversy. We'll see.

Back to work I go. Trying to finish a few small things tonight. I promise to post something more entertaining soon. And some pictures. I'm trying to get Rob to blog more since work will be a bit hectic for the foreseeable future as I get settled in. Thanks for not giving up on us!

*I'm leaving this typo in because it's particularly amusing to me. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oh. My. God.

It has been a tough World Cup for the U.S. team. Right now it's halftime in their semi-final match against Brazil. To say things are going badly is the understatement of the year. They are down 2-0 and their veteran midfielder just got sent off with her second yellow after she was fouled by a Brazilian player. It's always rough to play the Brazilian women in that regard because they tend to take dives at a higher rate than the typical soccer team. That means the other team gets unnecessary fouls called against them.

This is just crushing. And I have to go on record and say that switching goalkeepers in the middle of the World Cup is extremely risky. I just don't have a clue how Coach Ryan justified that in his mind.

Off to work. I'm almost glad to stop watching this game.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bye, bye Panda

Those of you who are local may have met our Panda. No, we don't have an endangered species for a pet. We have a 1997 Nissan Altima. It was originally (and still mostly is) white. My grandfather Frank (my mom's dad) bought the car ten years ago. When my grandfather passed away in 2003, the car went to my sister Resa. Not long before Rob and I moved to Chicago, Resa bought a BMW. Needless to say, she didn't need the Nissan any more, so it became ours as of May 2006.

Some time in between Resa inheriting the car and her passing it along to us, the two front side panels were replaced by unpainted, black panels. I believe this involved some kindof crazy New Year's Eve story that ended with a banged up Nissan, but I'm not entirely sure. The result was a Nissan that looked quite a bit like a certain Asian bear. It quickly became known as the Panda.

We have loved the Panda very much... mostly. When we got it, the taillights didn't work. The dashboard still only lights up when it feels like it. Then last December it broke down a couple miles from home after Rob kindly picked me up from a late night in chambers. So we got a little annoyed with the Panda. Starting this past summer, the Panda got very noisy. You could hear it coming from quite a distance (although its volume still paled in comparison to my 1986 Toyota Corolla of yesteryear). On a run to Target a couple weeks ago, we realized that we couldn't run the AC any more lest we risk shaking the Panda to death. We stopped driving it more than five miles from our house for fear that some or all of the rattling parts might fall out and leave us stranded too far from home.

This weekend, Resa and Nick were headed out of town for a wedding. They picked us up Saturday morning so we could leave them at the airport. So we took the Saturday with a free car to head out to the suburbs and test drive cars. Always fun to go car shopping in a BMW.

We didn't go unprepared. Rob has been researching economical car choices for the past three years. At the top of the list was the Honda Fit, followed by the Honda Civic and the Toyota Prius. We tried them all and loved the Fit. It turns out that most Fits in Chicago are pre-ordered and they aren't often in stock. When we returned to the Honda dealership from the Toyota shop down the street, they'd already sold the Fit we'd test driven and had just one left. Fortunately it was exactly the one we wanted -- the sport model in black. So we bought it.

A pretty huge moment, I must say. I have never in my life owned a new car. In high school I drove a 1984 brown two-toned Toyota Camry (shared with Libby, naturally). At the end of my time in NYC, the previously mentioned 1986 Toyota Corolla hatchback fell into my possession for literally just a few dollars. It was severally lacking in the muffler department and couldn't reach above 55mpr. It ended up costing me $250 to get rid of it two years later. So even though the Honda Fit is one of the least expensive new cars you can buy, it is an enormous splurge given my car ownership history.

We are very happy with the new car, which we've named Zippy. We hope our neighbors appreciate it too. Our condo association has a shared garage for the six units. The Panda parked in there always looked like a bad game of "which one of these is not like the others."

Now the Panda is parked in Resa's garage as we prepare to donate it to charity. It served us well, but its time had come.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Checking back in...

I'm almost done with my first week at my new job, so life's been a little busy this week. I was up until 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning taking care of a few last things before I started work, and this week has been nonstop running.

For likely obvious reasons, I can't (and wouldn't anyway) talk much about my new job. But I can say that is very nice to be a practicing attorney. It's nice to put a different set of legal skills to work. It's nice to not just be writing opinions and bench memos by myself all day. The attorneys and staff at my law firm are all incredibly friendly and great to be around. So it's been a good - but hectic - week.

Life in all other aspects is good as well. Last night Resa, Nick, and my dad (who was in town visiting) came over and we had a belated birthday dinner for my dad. His birthday was on Monday. Rob made goulash, which was delicious. Resa brought pastries, also delicious. And a good time was had by all. This weekend we're loaded up with socializing plans, which is kindof unusual for us lately, so we're looking forward to it.

In other news, our trip to California was excellent. There is something about spending time with old friends -- even when it's hectic time, it's still relaxing because you're just so comfortable. That's definitely how I feel about hanging out with Roxanna and Dave.

Rob pointed out that in my quick posts about Roxanna's wedding I neglected to say a word about her new husband, Pavlos. Roxanna and Pavlos have been together since 2000 (maybe earlier?) when they met in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they were both working for the NBC affiliate there. So I've known Pavlos for a very long time (I met him when he and Roxanna still had undisclosed crushes on each other) and can honestly say he's one of the few men in the world who could be worthy of Roxanna. :) (I said as much in my toast at their wedding -- maybe I'll post part of that this weekend.) I was really thrilled that Rob and I were in attendance when they made it official!

I will definitely try to post some more pictures soon and get back in the swing of blogging regularly. Rob's also promised to blog about his wine touring in Napa, since he and Dave got to play tourists while I helped Roxanna before the wedding.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More pics

Rob and me at the end of the night.

The happy couple just after tying the knot.

Roxanna's a married woman...

We're back from my best friend's wedding and it was fantastic! Everything went wonderfully and Rob was understanding about me abandoning him all day Friday and Saturday to help Roxanna do pre-wedding stuff. I'll blog more soon, but here are some pics in the mean time.

This is my favorite pre-wedding picture of Roxanna -- sitting barefoot in her wedding dress sipping champagne, totally chill. :)

During the ceremony, I did a reading from The Prophet. (The cute dress is thanks to Libby who loaned it to me after I saw how cute it looked on her at the wedding she went to in Chicago last weekend!)

One more drink together before Roxanna walks down the aisle.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm sleepy...

This morning I woke up at 1:50am PST (3:50am my time), but some time in the afternoon China time. The U.S. Women's National Team was facing off against 3rd-ranked Sweden in a must-win game for both teams. Once again, I was a nervous wreck. I watched the game on mute in the dark because Rob as asleep (mostly) next to me in our hotel room. At one point he woke up and asked if I could make the tv darker (maybe he wasn't fully awake), so I offered him a towel to put over his head. He accepted.

The game started out terribly. I believe the U.S. gave up 5 corner kicks in the first five minutes. I've never seen that happen in a soccer game before. The defense was unorganized. The midfield couldn't hold onto the ball. Finally the field opened up a bit, although throughout the first half the U.S. midfield looked a bit too bunched together. They weren't creating passing opportunities for each other, which led to a few more turnovers than necessary.

Then in the 21st minute, defender Cat Whitehill let a free kick rip from midfield. Literally. From midfield. Sweden's goalkeeper had to punch the ball out of bounds to prevent a goal. I started to get a little optimistic. If the U.S. could almost score from midfield, surely they could win. Meanwhile the Swedes' goalkeeper was having a terrible time handling the ball. She was stopped shots, but the ball would regularly bounce out of her hands. That's no way to win a game against an evenly matched team.

Less than 15 minutes later, the Swedes' goalkeeper mishandled the ball again, racing off her line only to let the ball go bouncing past her. I believe it was midfielder Lori Chalupny (going off 2:30am memories here) who was alone in the box with a Swede defender. The defender necessarily pulled Chalupny to the ground to prevent an easy goal. The U.S. had a PK. Abby Wambach took the shot and brilliantly psyched out the goalkeeper -- lining her hips up as if she was shooting right but then nailing a shot to the low left. The goalkeeper was long gone in the other direction.

As the second half started with the U.S. up a goal, I figured out why the U.S. midfield had been so unstructured in the first half. Shannon Boxx didn't start. When the U.S. plays 4-3-3 (their typical formation of late), Boxx is usually the back midfielder of the three, keeping the other two spread in front of her and organized as a unit. I can't even remember the last major game in which she didn't start. Boxx's presence to start the second half made an enormous difference. The U.S. was winning nearly all the 50-50 balls. They were regularly stealing balls in the midfield from Sweden. They had good passing series to allow multiple shots on goal. The team just looked better in every aspect, especially confidence. Starting the second half up a goal probably helped a lot too.

About ten minutes into the second half, Wambach found herself alone with two defenders not far from Sweden's goal. She collected a pass with her chest, knocking it to her feet and sending off a shot all in one move. The ball raced past the goalkeeper and into the net. Wambach now has three of the U.S.'s four goals in the World Cup to date. It was one of the best Women's World Cup goals I've ever seen.

Finally the adrenaline started to fade in my body as the U.S.'s lead looked secure and my eyelids started drooping. Coach Ryan subbed in Heather O'Reilly for Lindsey Tarpley at the forward position, which is exactly the type of move you want to see. O'Reilly is a great and aggressive goal scorer, and she's often a starter, so her entry into the game for the playmaker Tarpley meant that Ryan was looking to add fresh legs and a third goal. While the game ended 2-0, the U.S. dominated possession for the remaining minutes. Spcial kudos go to Hope Solo, the U.S. goalkeeper, who had a rough game against North Korea, but bounced back to be flawless today.

I found myself feeling bad for Sweden when the final whistle blew. They've never had two consecutive World Cup games without a win. They were the last World Cup's runners-up. Now they can't advance unless the U.S. loses big to Nigeria. Not likely. But then again, you never know. The U.S. just needs a tie against Nigeria though to make it to the quarterfinals. So I am feeling a ton of relief right now.

In other news, I got up at 8am (after going back to bed a little before 4am) to get ready and meet Roxanna and her sister Carol at a spa in Napa. Then we met up with two of Roxanna's best friends from college and surprised Roxanna with a little bridal shower-esque lunch at a local restaurant, Celadon. Roxanna was totally surprised and we had a really wonderful meal. (Last night we ate at Angele which was also fantastic.) Now it's off to the wedding rehearsal and then rehearsal dinner in about 30 minutes. I'm glad we won't be out too late because it's another early to rise day tomorrow to get our hair and make-up done!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Rob!

Today is Rob's birthday. The big 3-2! We arrived in the Bay area earlier today and we're staying right in the middle of downtown Napa until Sunday. Tonight, Rob, my awesome friend Dave, and I are having dinner in Napa to celebrate Rob getting old. We're all in town for my friend Roxanna's wedding on Saturday. Dave, Roxanna and I have been hanging out together for about 15 years, so this weekend should be a ton of fun.

For Rob's birthday I got him tickets to see the NY Giants in Giants Stadium and an Indian food cooking class. And by "got" I mean "wrote Rob an IOU for" because I was supposed to get my clerkship bonus from my law firm before Rob's birthday so I could buy his presents, but the payment couldn't be processed until this coming Monday for whatever reason. Fortunately Rob's an understanding guy and accepts his present in IOU form. Yes, I literally wrote him an IOU. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

China is in a really tough time zone

For me, at least. The Women's World Cup kicked off this week and today was the U.S. team's first game. The game was shown live on ESPN2... at 3:55am CST this morning. I hadn't really done the math on the time difference so it was only last night while watching Monday night football, when I saw a commercial for the first game "live at 4:55am EST," that I realized the extra hours I'd need to be awake. I should have remembered the game times from the 2002 Men's World Cup that was in Asia. I remember several middle of the night/wee hours of the morning treks to The Diner in Adam's Morgan or Lucky Bar in Dupont usually with Carly and/or Brendan to watch group play. (This was just a couple weeks before I met Rob. :)

If you're not a soccer person, then you may not know that the World Cup begins with "group play." Each of the 16 teams are put in a group of four teams. The four teams in each group play each other in the opening round, then the two teams from each group with the best record move to the next round. From there it's elimination play. Generally, there's a little bit of structure to the group assignments so that the top four teams in the world are spread out over different groups. The twist is that the home team gets to count as a top four team to have a better chance of advancing. The home team is China, and they're not a top four team.

Conveniently for the rest of the world (a little two conveniently if you ask U.S. Soccer folks off the record), the U.S. drew into a group with Sweden, North Korea and Nigeria. (Interestingly, these are the same four teams from the U.S.'s group in the 2003 World Cup.) Sweden is currently ranked 3rd in the world (they were four, though, at the time of the drawing). North Korea is ranked 5th in the world. Nigeria is the best African team, but ranked about 24th. So you can see the issue with the U.S.'s group -- one of the top five teams in the world won't be in the next round of eight teams. The groups just shouldn't work out that way.

This morning, the U.S. faced North Korea. In 2003, after a fast start by the Koreans, the U.S. handily won the match with most of their stars on the bench. After opening group play with a win against Sweden and then a win against Nigeria, the Americans' spot in the next round was secure. I remember seeing two North Korea games live in the last World Cup -- versus Sweden and versus Nigeria. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I remember that at the press conference following the victory over Nigeria (North Korea's first game), the coach and the star players took questions from the media, brimming with confidence. (I was covering the games.) After the loss to Sweden, the team sent out a trainer to answer the media's questions -- although the trainer at first seemed to be pretending to be the head coach. It was very strange, and it was clear that losing was not to be tolerated by the team's organization... or possibly not even acknowledged as legitimate results. The officiating was decried by the team's trainer, and that was pretty much the end of the press conference.

All this is to say that when I saw the U.S.'s group draw, I was worried. Sweden would undoubtedly be tough. And North Korea... North Korea probably went home after their 2003 elimination at the end of group play and trained every single second of every single day for the four years since then. Guess who won last year's Under-20 Women's World Cup? North Korea. Guess who came in fourth? The U.S. The Americans in this World Cup have several veterans who are well past playing on the U-20 squad. Meanwhile, the average age of the North Koreans is about 22. So the comparison isn't fair. But it also means that means the vast majority of the North Korean team won a championship last year and are used to coming out on top of the Americans. Plus, any lessons learned from the 2003 game are useless against this new, younger North Korean team.

This morning, I set my alarm for 3:50am, stumbled downstairs when it went off, and curled up under a blanket for the game. The first half was intense. It was raining hard and the North Koreans were incredibly fast, taking a shot in the first minute. Their midfield organization was much better than the Americans'. The U.S. defense seemed a little prone to miscues. The U.S. forwards weren't seeing the ball much. I was so stressed that at the beginning of the second half, I changed the channel for a few minutes. Lame, I know. I know. But there's a real chance the U.S. could be knocked out in group play in this tournament. The world playing field is as level as it's ever been. A new women's professional soccer league is looking to launch next year, but I can't imagine that business plan would stay on track if the U.S. failed to place in this Cup. The game this morning, then, was about a lot more than just one tournament. I would be more crushed by the U.S.'s early exit from this tournament than I would have been if the Colts failed to come back last year in the AFC Championship against the Pats. Seriously. And I was a wreck and a half for that Colts game. See, no matter the outcome the Colts were guaranteed to come back the next year as part of the NFL, which has no chance of going away. Imagine if the NFL would fold if the right team didn't do well in the playoffs. A bit more at stake if you're both a football lover and a fan of that team, right?

I flipped back to the game to see the U.S. up a goal. Amen! But my joy was short lived. During a U.S. corner kick, star forward Abby Wambach (who had scored the lone goal) smashed heads with a North Korean and wound up on the ground with a bloody head. She left the game for several minutes to get stitches. The U.S. tried to play defense, but a goalkeeper mistake and then horrific defense led to two (yes two!) North Korean goals while Abby was out. I flipped the channel again to catch my breath, fearing I'd cry if another goal was scored by North Korea. Good thing I'm not covering this game! I came back and Heather O'Reilly had evened the match. Oh thank you thank you thank you. Of course at this point I was convinced that my watching the game was causing the U.S. to play worse, but I kept watching, busting out some frozen custard to help me through it. I felt both relief and sadness when the game ended in a tie. Not devastating, but not what the U.S. needed. I crawled back into bed.

I woke up to drive Rob to work a little before 9am. I turned on ESPN to check the score of the Sweden-Nigeria game that was finishing up. Miracle of miracles... it was a tie too. And it ended that way. That means everyone is even in the U.S. group. The U.S. are back to square one, along with everyone. If any team wins out their remaining two games, they'll advance. I'm sure the U.S. players are dancing with relief with the Sweden-Nigeria result. Hopefully that will be just the boost they need to knock out Sweden on Friday morning, which will begin at 1:55am Napa time. So Rob will have to try to sleep through my cheers in our hotel room that night. We're off to Napa on Thursday for Roxanna's wedding. Yea!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend warriors

The past two weekends I have discovered a whole new way of living -- weekends without homework. In my final weeks as a clerk, my hours were much more regular (as I'd promised Rob they would be), so I didn't have to throw any work in my bag to take home at night or on the weekends. Obviously (or maybe not considering no one who knows me would be surprised to learn the contrary) I didn't bring any work home after my last day of work on Friday.

So on Labor Day weekend, Rob and I got to clean our house from top to bottom including the things we never do -- organize the pantry, clean the fridge, sort through our clothes to fill a box for Goodwill, etc. Normally our cleaning is just an hour of mad scrambling and shoving things into closest before company arrives.

This past weekend we had lots of company. Our friends Bill and Claire were going to a wedding in South Bend on Saturday, so they flew into Chicago on Friday and stayed with us for the night. We got to try out a great Mexican restaurant in our 'hood (Agave Bar & Grill), which we highly recommend. We always have a blast with Bill and Claire and Friday night was no exception. (We also learned that a "ramp" is indeed a vegetable. Who knew? Well, apparently Rob and Bill.)

Then on Saturday, my twin sister and brother-in-law were in town for my brother-in-law's, cousin's wedding out in the Chi-town suburbs. Colin had arrived on Friday, and crashed with us as well, while Libby wasn't getting in until about two hours before the wedding. Since they didn't know if Libby would make it on time for the ceremony, Rob and I picked up Libby at Midway, drove her to the hotel where Colin's family was staying so she could shower and get ready, and then drove her to the ceremony, while Colin drove to the wedding from our place on his own.

After successfully completing our mission to get Libby to the wedding somewhat close to on time, and finding ourselves in the suburbs, Rob and I hit Ikea. We bought a great dining room table and chairs, which we've needed for a while. Yup, spending that law firm money already. Although I'd imagine most of the lawyers at my firm don't have dining room sets from Ikea. :) We assembled the table and half the chairs before heading out to meet Rob's friend Erin, who was turning 31, for her birthday dinner. Then Libby and Colin met us back at our place around 11pm.

We (me, Rob, Lib, Colin) went to Resa and Nick's house in the morning for brunch before Libby and Colin headed back to the suburbs for the wedding brunch. After they hit the road, Rob and I ran errands -- got Rob a new suit on sale, picked up the last of my stuff from the courthouse, bought new kitchen cabinet hardware at Home Depot, which we then installed when we got home. By 2pm, the last of our chairs were assembled, our kitchen cabinets looked sleeker, and we got to sit and watch football the rest of the day. Libby and Colin stopped in for another hour before heading to the airport, so Resa and Nick came over. Then when Libby and Colin left, Rob and I went to Resa and Nick's to watch the Giants. (Eli played great... if only the G-Men's D had shown up as well...)

I can't even remember the last weekend we had when we got to check off so many things off our to do list and still had so much free time! Amazing! Even with guests in town! Maybe I won't get another weekend like this for a long time. This weekend we're off to Napa for Roxanna's wedding, and I'm sure law firm life will keep me busy on weekends from there on out. But wow... it was good while it lasted.

It was especially nice to have such a busy weekend with lots of friendly faces around because I am so sad to be finished with my clerkship. I started crying when I said goodbye to my judge on Friday. When I first decided to apply for clerkships, I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of a clerkship. I thought I'd like to clerk on an appellate court; I thought I'd like to clerk for someone whose ideas about the law somewhat aligned with my own; and I thought I'd like to clerk for a woman -- someone whose career path could give some extra insight about what mine could look like in some ways. My judge certainly fit the bill, and the fact that she was in Chicago, some place where I have family and Rob and I would be happy to settle, was a bonus.

A couple months before I sent in my applications, I accidentally met my judge at an ACS conference. I was at a reception, ended up in a great conversation about the law with a female lawyer, and then Judge Wood wandered over. Of course I knew who she was, and it turned out the woman I was talking to was Judge Wood's sister. Then I had a great conversation with the judge and her sister and women in the law, etc., etc. Needless to say, I knew I had found the right judge for me. Magically, the fates aligned, two months later she invited me to interview with her, and a week later I'd landed my dream job. When I said goodbye to my judge on Friday, she said she hoped that the year had been what I'd hoped it would be. I laughed. I could not have dared hope for a year this good!

I don't mean to gush, and I don't mean to say the year was all roses and sunshine. The hours were often grueling. The work could be too difficult, tedious or both. It was hard and there was more than one bench memo I dreaded. But I got to spend a year helping a woman, who I consider to be one of the smartest and most dedicated federal judges in the country, make the law. It was an honor. If I look back at my career path, I can honestly say that I've loved all my jobs (although disliked certain aspects, of course) and I've enjoyed each job more than the last. As much as I am confident I will love being a litigator, I don't know how it can top being a clerk for my judge.

Anyway. Enough of this long, rambling post from this unemployed woman. Back to my "things to do while unemployed for a week" list! For anyone who doesn't know, my new job starts Monday. I'll be working here*. (I don't want to post the name because I don't want anyone googling the firm to stumble across my blog. :)

*Edited this post to delete the link.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Last Day :(

Tomorrow (Friday) is my last day as a clerk. I shouldn't be so sad, as I've already extended my 12-month clerkship into a 13-month clerkship. I should be prepared to leave. But I'm not. Clerking is without a doubt the best job imaginable for a lawyer, and I will miss it immensely.

My judge is exceptional, and I will miss learning from her. I will miss the cases I've worked on that aren't quite resolved yet. I will miss walking around the back hallways of the courthouse and sitting at the clerks' table in the courtroom. I will miss writing the law, even though I am excited to advocate for what the law should be.

All good things must come to an end, and now my clerkship days have done just that. (sigh)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Live Blogging from the NFL Draft

We take a break form our regular vacation-rehash programming to bring you this special report. It's draft day for Rob's (and my) fantasy football league and Rob and I have the first pick! LT it is for FC Gigantes (that's us).

Steven Jackson has gone number two to the Rams.

It's a run on running backs now... with super-pick Joseph Addai going fifth. Right before Peyton Manning.

Back to us and we've snagged Carson Palmer and Reggie Bush.

After a run on QBs we snagged Eli as our number two and picked up Larry Fitzgerald as our first WR. We picked Fitzgerald over my beloved Reggie Wayne, so we better get some production.

Now we've added Chris Cooley to our Tight End role and Matt Schaub as our back-up QB. Time to start thinking about defense. In our league, you pick individual players, not one team's unit.

Finally we've added some Colts to our line up. Adam Vinatieri and Bob Sanders join the team.

We've finished the draft and here's our line up:
QB Carson Palmer (Cin - QB)
QB Eli Manning (NYG - QB)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (Ari - WR)
WR Javon Walker (Den - WR)
RB LaDainian Tomlinson (SD - RB)
RB Reggie Bush (NO - RB)
TE Chris Cooley (Was - TE)
W/R Jamal Lewis (Cle - RB)
BN Matt Schaub (Hou - QB)
BN Julius Jones (Dal - RB)
BN Donald Driver (GB - WR)

K Adam Vinatieri (Ind - K)

D Bob Sanders (Ind - DB)
DB Justin Miller (NYJ - DB)
DB Chris Hope (Ten - DB)
DL Brian Urlacher (Chi - DL)
DL Antonio Pierce (NYG - DL)

Not bad, eh? If you add up the points from last season for each team's starting players, we're leading by 160 points. Of course, LT is giving us a 250 point boost beyond our backup RB, but we'll take it.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Douro Valley part 2

Back to lunch along the Douro. One of the best things about lunch was that Fernando, our guide, not only translated every detail of the menu for us, but he also explained what dishes were specific to the region and why. He recommended the lamb and the pork, so I ordered the former and Rob ordered the latter. The meal then started with a delicious sausage, made from scratch that morning, we were told. Hands down the best sausage I've ever tasted. Then came the main courses, which were huge platters of food. We also got heaping bowls of extra potatoes and rice for the table. I couldn't get enough of my lamb course, which came with potatoes and cabbage, both also delicious. When Fernando ordered an extra lamb dish for the table I was so grateful. Rob's pork had been marinating in a garlic sauce for more than 24 hours and was equally exceptional. The house wine was also excellent. It was red wine served either chilled or room temperature. The chilled version turned out to be a particularly nice summer drink. Everything was just wonderful. We were probably grinning from ear to ear the whole meal with delight.

All good things must come to an end, so we had to leave for our next stop eventually. That stop was Pinhao. It's a tiny town and we mainly just wandered around the train station whose walls are lined with azulejos that tell the story of making port.

This panel shows the boats loaded and heading down the Douro to Gaia.

And here's Rob at the station in Pinhao.

Finally we set off for our very last stop -- a local vineyard. We drove to the Quinta do Panascal, one of the region's top vineyards, which produces Fonseca brand port. (You can see pictures of the quinta at the Fonseca web site.) Vineyards are graded by some formal entity and the grades can range from A to F. Fonseca's vineyards are all grade A. We had the option of watching a video tour or talking a walking tour with an audio guide, so of course we picked the latter. It was mid-afternoon so the sun was a bit intense, but the views were well worth the effort. Here are some of our views.

Where the mountains look lined are where vines have been planted. There's several different techniques, but most rows of vines run parallel to the ground, although some run perpendicular.

This is what the vines looked like up close. It was just a couple weeks before harvesting begins, so there were huge bunches of grapes on every vine.

We tried to take a picture of ourselves in the middle of the vineyards on the mountain, but it didn't quite work...

We think the lens must have been in the shade where we propped up the camera. :)

We left the quinta with a small bottle of vintage port that we have to let age in the bottle for 10-15 years. So if you're in town for our 15th anniversary (13.5 years from now), you are invited to share it with us! Seriously! Once you open a vintage bottle, you have to drink the whole bottle within a day or two.

After the vineyard we had a two-hour drive back to Porto, and we said goodbye to the Douro Valley.

Far and away one of the most gorgeous places we've ever been.

The Douro Valley

As alluded to a couple posts down, our day trip through the Douro River region was the highlight of our trip. We stumbled onto the day accidentally and as a result of some trials and tribulations, so it was a nice reminder of how to make lemonade out of lemons, and, well, why the little things (demonic dogs included) aren't worth stressing over.

The company who ran our trip was called (I think) Living Tours. I've looked around for them on the web, but without success. Most tourist operations in Portugal are local affairs, so you can't book a lot of excursions online or in advance from afar. Anyway, we were picked up promptly at our hotel at 9:15am on Sunday morning by a friendly driver, Fernando, and a woman who we think was Fernando's mom. We loaded into the back seat of a small, modern minivan and set off to pick up the other two people who'd be joining us, a middle-aged married couple from Spain. They didn't speak any English, but Rob speaks a little Spanish, so we were able to communicate a bit throughout the day. Fernando transitioned seemlessly between English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

It was a rainy morning, the only bad weather we had in Portugal. Up until that point we'd joke if we spotted a single cloud in the sky and say, "Wow, the weather is terrible today." Portugal's summer weather is just gorgeous. Our itinerary for the day was four towns and a vineyard in the Douro region. Lunch was included and we'd be back at our hotel before 7pm.

The first town was Amarante. There we saw an old cathedral and a historic bridge. The rumor about Amarante is that the town and just about everything in it was founded by a hermit/monk named Goncalo. The hermit is now a saint, buried in the town's cathedral. Touching the tomb of Sao Goncalo is supposed to bring you luck -- especially if you're unmarried and desiring a mate. Not surprisingly then, the stone on the carved hands, feet, and face of Sao Goncalo atop the town are significantly worn down from all the attention from luck-seekers.

Here's the outside of the cathedral which is attached to the town hall/small art museum dedicated to a local cubist painter from the early/mid 20th century who is a bit famous.

A view from inside the cathedral.

The cathedral also housed beautiful cloisters.

Here's us in the cloisters. Can you tell that right before the camera lashed we were debating about where to stand so we'd be appropriately off-center? :)

Just outside the cathedral was the town's famous bridge, where locals held off the French who needed a river crossing in 1809. (I imagine the river was a bit more ferocious then). The defense of the bridge allowed the townspeople on the other side of the river to flee to safety before the French made it across and burned down many of the homes in the town.

A view of the bridge and the river (a small river that leads to the Douro River).
Me on the bridge with the countryside behind.

Next we arrived in in the Douro Valley, just across the mountains. We caught some gorgeous views of the rivers, loved the wind-power-generating windmills surrounded by clouds atop the mountains, and drove through the town of Regua -- the region's main stop in the transport of port from the region down to Porto and Gaia. We crossed the Douro River and headed into the small town of Lamego.

The lower bridge is the one we crossed. This is the Douro.

We saw two of Lamego's main attractions, its cathedral and its shrine. The cathedral dates back to 1129, although not much remains of the 12th century structure. I think most of today's cathedral is from the 16th century. It is gorgeous from the outside, but we didn't spend much time inside because there was a mass going on.

This is Rob in front of the ornate entrance to the cathedral.

We did get to take some time looking around the cloisters, also from the 16th century, which housed some special rooms, although we didn't know what the rooms were used for precisely.

Here are the cloisters with the cathedral rising up in the background.

This is the alter inside one of the rooms just off the cloisters. The gilded carvings reminded us a bit of what we saw inside the Ingreja de Sao Francisco in Porto the day before.

Next our guide drove us up into the hills of Lamego to spare us the climb up 600+ stairs to the Sancutary of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios. You may have heard of a Portugues shrine on top of a hill where pilgrims climb hundreds of stairs on their hands and knees to show their religious devotion. Ironically, doing this is supposed to bring you good health (tell that to your knees). The town has a pilgrimage festival beginning in late August and culminating on the main climbing day of September 8th, so we saw decorations all over the town in anticipation of the big day.

Here is the shrine, dating back to the 12th century, and the last of the stairs leading up to it. Multiply these stairs by about 12 and you'll get a sense of the total climb.

This is the view looking down from that first landing. The decorations on the small metal posts are for the August/September celebrations. You can also see the gorgeous mountains surrounding the town in the background.

Next it was time for lunch and at a "scenic overlook." We were expecting sandwiches at a picnic area, but we were enormously mistaken. We headed back towards Regua.

We stopped at a restaurant with this view of Regua from across the Douro.

More of the view here. Forgive my photography. It does no real justice to what we saw, which was nothing short of breathtaking.

We ate here, at the Restaurant Torrao, and it was the very best meal we had during our entire trip. AMAZING beyond words. Did I mention how amazing it was? But I've got to get some cleaning done, so I'll finish blogging about the Douro trip later today.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some Porto pictures

These pictures should go along somewhat with the post below.

Porto, the Douro River, and Gaia from a Porto church tower.

The end of a Portuguese wedding.

The entrance to the Ingreja de Sao Francisco. Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside.

Rob at the Casa do Infante.

Connecting with my roots at Real Indiana. Er, wait...

Burmeister ports. Yum.

Rob on one of the narrow roads of the hills of Gaia.

The azulejos in the Sao Bento station.

Boavista's stadium. Go panthers!

A Porto open air market.

And the less glamorous side of downtown Porto.