Friday, December 29, 2006

News: Not much time left

Hussein's execution is coming soon.

It's certainly a shock to see a hanging come so soon after the end of a trial. With American executions, it often takes decades for the convicted to be put to death, after all.

Gerald Ford also died this week. He'll never be one the "top 10 presidents" historians argue about, but most will agree, especially through the rosy lens of hindsight, that he wasn't that bad, either.

Still in Houston, so posting will resume as normal next week.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas to All

ABC Family was running its perennial marathon of Christmas-themed sitcom episodes today.

The "Christmas episode" is a long-running tradition in American television. Even the grandmama of all of these series, the still-popular "I Love Lucy," had a Christmas special. There's just something comforting about seeing the same old tired plots about the perfect gifts, children (dis)believing in Santa Claus, and getting together with friends and family. It's certainly a nice break for TV writers, who can usually turn off their creative brains and pick from a cornucopia of Christmas cliches.

In terms of holiday-themed TV, I'm also partial to "24 Hours of a Christmas Story" ("You'll shoot your eye out!") and everyone's favorite, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." These are great movies to view on the small screen for some reason - I suppose I'd feel a bit ripped off if I paid to see them in a theatre.

Gonna be heading to Houston tomorrow for a week, so there may be light blogging ahead. A very joyous holiday season to everyone.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

News: An interesting case

This guy has a 9mm bullet in his head. The police want it as evidence, but Joshua Bush's lawyers are fighting the search warrant, saying that to force a doctor to remove it would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searchs and seizures."

The problem, of course, is that the bullet has to come out eventually. And when it does, it's evidence.

The shooter in this case was a used car dealer who is a competitive shooter. Shot placement in here was good, but the slug did not have enough horsepower to breach the skull, a problem not unique to 9mm, of course - all the common handgun calibers are relatively poor in terms of penetration. Have no faith in your defensive caliber or gauge!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

School: The Last Hurrah

Yesterday, when I was out on the back porch to get my laundry, I tried opening the sliding glass door to get back into my apartment.

Uh-oh. The thing ain't budging. And my Torts exam is 10 hours from now. The Torts exam that counts for my entire semester grade. And everyone I know has left town.

So I manage to stay at a neighbor's place and call a locksmith. He pops the front door open in about half a minute - $60. And here I am now, less than two hours before the exam. Strange where life can take you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tech: A Wii bit of idiocy

I really love my Nintendo Wii, but it's not a perfect gaming device. Here are some of my main gripes:

1. Virtual Console pricing - When Xbox Live Arcade is presenting well-done ports of classic arcade games for $10, complete with new features like online play, it's a bit silly to sell plain-jane emulated ports for $8. Unfortunately, there's about a snowball's chance in Hell that this is gonna change.

2. Weather Channel - Just released today, the Wii Weather Channel is perhaps the stupidest way to get weather forecasts ever. It gives you the weather from 13 hours ago - that's great, but how is the weather going to be like in the future? I don't see how past weather news is relevant, unless you possess a time-traveling De Lorean.

3. Upcoming third-party games - Nintendo, one of the world's largest and most successful game publishers, invariably releases games that are at least competent, and sometimes excellent. Ubisoft is porting a year-old Prince of Persia title with tacked-on motion controls. 3rd-party trepidation is always a self-fulfilling prophecy - faced with a choice between a good Nintendo game developed from the ground-up for the Wii vs. a shoddy port, which game do you think people will buy?

Rant off. :)

Tech: Better Laptop Audio - Creative Audigy2 ZS Notebook sound card

While many PCs these days have decent desktop audio setups (after all, many users are gamers, media buffs, audio professionals, etc.), most laptops are still equipped with the junky software-based or integrated sound solutions they came from the factory with.

The result? Hard drive noise in your headphones, circuit noise in your recordings, and junky output for your shiny 5.1 gaming speakers. The real solution is a laptop sound card. The market is pretty small right now, and if you want a PC card-based solution for your laptop audio needs, you're basically stuck with either the Creative Audigy or the Echo Audio line (the Echo cards are nice, but expensive). I bought the Audigy a couple months ago to accompany my Klipsch speakers.

Creative included its usual "kitchen sink" load of software, which is good and bad. Good because many of these apps are genuinely useful, and bad because it's tough to wade through them all to find the functionality you need sometimes. In terms of performance, while the card certainly uses its share of the CPU, the resulting sound is nice and clean. The noise floor isn't all the way to the bottom, but it's low enough that you'd have to risk hearing damage to really care. My main caveat, noted in other reviews of this card, is the lack of a physical volume knob, but it isn't a huge fault if you've got it connected to speakers anyway. All in all, a good stocking stuffer for the audiophile in your life.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Music: Basil Poledouris, a tribute

I got so caught up in the whole law school thing that I didn't even realize Basil Poledouris passed away last month. It wasn't plastered all over the news like Steve Irwin's death, mostly because Poledouris had a low profile and was already 61 when he died. Very few composers have had as much impact on the modern film score, though.

His breakout work was the score for "Conan the Barbarian," still one of the best motion picture scores ever. While Arnold's screen presence might have been the visual anchor, Poledouris' score was arguably just as important to the film's success. Listening to it today, the score is not as leitmotif-heavy as a John Williams, but it definitely merges some of Poledouris' early experiences in the church with the vocabulary of Hollywood.

Many, many scores followed, including the scores to the Verhoeven films "Robocop" and "Starship Troopers." "Robocop" is a classic movie marred by a bunch of crappy sequels, but its driving, stirring industrial score evokes both Murphy's cybernetic form and Detroit itself. As for "Starship Troopers," like any Heinlein fan, I hated how Verhoeven gutted and reversed the book's message, but I had to admit, the score was pretty good.

Basil Poledouris, 1945 - 2006

News: Stalemate

In chess, a stalemate is when a player cannot make a legal move when it is his or her turn. While technically a stalemate is a draw, most chess players view it as sort of a win for the player who is unable to move, as that player would have probably lost otherwise.

I feel that's what's happening with these North Korea talks. The U.S., for all its posturing and threats, has not been able to checkmate North Korea - the place is still basically under Kim Jong-il's thumb, and the government seems as (un)stable as ever. The fact that Pyongyang has considerable conventional military forces right across the border (not to mention some marginal nuclear capabilities) means that they always have options - a space to move - even if they're unthinkable ones. People think that stuff will never happen, but it's happened before with lots of tinpot dictators, and it might happen again.

Got a Professional Responsibility exam in 4 hours, so it's off to the races...again.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sports: An Ugly Scene

The Brawl
AP Photo: Frank Franklin II
I'm sure any basketball fan has already heard about the melee that ensued in yesterday's Knicks-Nuggets game. While there's lots of condemnation to go around in this situation, I won't venture there. I've gotten into fights I shouldn't have; it's part of human nature, after all. Punish everyone involved appropriately (minimum 15 game suspension for Melo, and possibly 30 to be fair) and let's get on with the game. I do, think, however, that basketball as a whole has gotten more and more frustrating to watch.

School: Wilbert's

Wilbert's has been a fixture of Levin Law life for...well, I'm not sure how many years, but a long time. A combination bookstore/convenience store, it's probably the only place worth going if you need to buy a Civil Procedure book, a six-pack of Guiness, and a burrito - all in one trip. Apparently, the owner was offered a whole lot of money by UF to sell the place, which is literally right across the street from the law school, but to no avail.

I usually stop my for a quick snack or lunch, if time allows. They have a nice little outdoor section with umbrellas and lawn furniture, and it can make for a very pleasant way to pass the time in-between classes. Wilbert's has been in business so long, the place even has its own T-shirts - how many convenience stores can you say that about?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tech: "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" Review

As I've posted before, I wasn't really enthralled by Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. Now, however, there is a 3D Zelda I can cheer for. Twilight Princess is easily the best game I've played all year, and I think it's the best Zelda since Link to the Past.

I never thought I'd say it, but this might be the first time a Zelda game actually has a better story than the current Final Fantasy, FFXII. There's tragedy, romance (Link is mackin' on three ladies in this one), comedy, and mystery woven all through the game. Your sidekick, Midna, starts out appropriately morally ambiguous; her character arc really defines the game right up to the end.

The dungeons are fantastic in this one. There are some tricky, "what the heck am I supposed to do?" kind of puzzles in the game, along with some neat bosses. In terms of difficulty, I still think the combat in the game is too easy, but the puzzles are just about right.

The Wii motion controls work fairly well. I'd be lying if I said the sword swings were as responsive as pushing a button, but they're about 90 percent of the way there. The cursor aiming is pin-point precise and basically flawless.

People have pooh-poohed the graphics and sound. Honestly, there are some very ugly textures in the game, and most everything has fewer polys than you'd like, but the various special effects (water and sunlight, for example) are quite good, and there are many moments where the game is beautiful. The music is the standard MIDI everyone's used to, and while orchestrated music would be nice, the game still sounds great and even awesome at points.

Twilight Princess took me an honest 30 hours to beat - and I'm practically a Zelda savant by now. Many gamers will likely clock in 40 hours just beating the game. Besides the main quest, there's a ton of different nooks and crannies to explore, including several "mini-dungeons" that are sure to entertain. There's no grinding, no leveling up, no long backtracking, and practically no "filler."

I don't see how anyone could play the game, all the way through to the end, and not be satisfied. Twilight Princess has got everything you'd ever want in an action-adventure, and it deserves to sell like crazy this holiday season.

Rating: 94 out of 100

Friday, December 15, 2006

Food: Chutnees

There aren't too many places around Gainesville for good Indian food (well, more like none), but for something at least half-passable your best bets are either "Indian Cuisine" or Chutnees. Located about 5 minutes north of the city proper just off I-75, Chutnees has the blessing and the curse of a wayward location. A blessing in that I'm sure the rent is cheap, but a curse in that it's easy to miss the place if you don't know where you're going.

The food is typical Indian lunch buffet (tandoori chicken, naan, dal, rice pudding, the whole drill). These kinds of places are pretty common where I come from, so I am pretty picky when it comes to rating the food. Good buffets are rarer than hen's teeth (some would say they don't exist at all) and Chutnees doesn't do much to stand out. But, the place was comfortable, the food was competent, and the service was prompt, so it's worth at least trying.

2/4 stars

Thursday, December 14, 2006

School: Can I get a do-over?

The criminal law exam I took today was brutal. I hate closed-book exams - they always take me back to the time when you were forced to memorize things for a grade. There's just a lot more stress when everything's locked up inside your head. While I know being able to know and remember is an important skill, I also know most lawyers don't use much of what they learned in law school in their actual practices, so it does seem kinda arbitrary.

The consensus was that it was a pretty hard exam, not substantively, but procedurally; three hours is not a whole lot of time when you have to read the facts, the relevant statutes, plan an answer, and write it all down - 15 separate times. We also had an hour-long essay defending an arsonist - I couldn't come up with enough that was on point. Oh well. 2 down, 2 to go.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

News: Crime and Punishment

There's a serial killer on the loose in merry olde England. Regardless of your opinions on prostitution or England's (anti)self-defense laws, it's always sad to see people murdered and left in the woods. I wish the UK police good hunting in catching this sicko.

Regarding punishment, apparently the grand jury mistakenly no-billed that police officer in the PS3-thief murder case. This is disheartening, but in the grand scheme of things, I bet this kind of thing happens all the time. My criminal law professor has told us of the oft-repeated old chestnut that "a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich." It's telling that this cop was actually fired by his department, not put on paid administrative leave. Other cops on the raid said they heard no gunshots, save the ones Officer Long let loose.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Miscellany: On ginger ale...

In today's world, it's very difficult to find a true, old-school "golden" ginger ale, especially in supermarkets. The clear, super-sweet "dry" kind is by far the most common, and it does make a handy mixer for alcoholic drinks. But, let's face it, sometimes you're in the mood for something different.

There's a few notable times in my life where I've run afoul of ginger ale. The first time I really desired it as a kid was when I read the "Baby-sitters Little Sister" series of books (yeah, I know, I'm officially not cool any more, but whatever - I liked them when I was a kid). When Karen got sick, her mother (or was it step-mother?) gave her ginger ale to calm her stomach. Stranger still, I used to drink a can of ginger ale every time I volunteered at the hospital. So ginger ale is now always connected to sickness and upset stomachs in my mind. Oh well.

School: It starts...

My Contracts exam is in about 12 hours. Hooboy. I've practiced on sample exams pretty much all I can stand, and I've studied and outlined the whole book. And I still don't feel comfortable.

Time to get a good night's rest, and then it's another Christmas in the trenches.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tech: "Burning Crusade" trailer on the VG Awards

Quick post today.

Okay, I didn't watch Spike TV's rather dubious Video Game Awards, but I might have had I known a "Burning Crusade" trailer would be shown, complete with live onstage Goth choir singing to accompany it. Although I've said I'm not a WoW guy, this is just too cheeky to resist.

Check it out.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

News: Sometimes I wonder...

Remember that Louisiana Congressman who supposedly had $90,000 hidden in his freezer? The one that embarrassed Dems across the country?

Yeah, he got re-elected.

Now, I'm not saying he's guilty. He hasn't been indicted and no charges have ever been filed. But I think it says a lot when your own corruption-conscious party kicks you off the Ways and Means Committee. This guy is a Harvard-educated lawyer, and lawyers are often supposed to avoid even the appearance of any impropriety. His aides have pleaded guilty and only some crazy court decisions protecting his congressional files (never mind the mounting evidence that something is awry) from FBI search warrants seem to be preventing the indictment.

Thankfully, it seems Congressional Dems are giving this guy the cold shoulder. As well they should.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Miscellany: Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Last night temperatures dropped into the high 20s/low 30s - I was literally shivering after I took a shower. Now, I know that's nothing for anyone living north of the Florida panhandle, but for Gainesville, it's pretty freaking cold. This kind of cold can be very dangerous, too - even NASA is taking it seriously.

About 1/3 finished with my Contracts studying - and the exam is Tuesday. Here we go! :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tech: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 Speakers

While many gamers have gone to 5.1 and 7.1 PC speaker systems to fit their needs, I've never been able to justify the considerable space problems inherent in such set-ups. Half measures like putting all the speakers up front seem to defeat the purpose of surround sound entirely. No, I still use good old 2.1 speakers.

The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 model has been out for about six years now, but it's still going strong. I bought this set about four months ago at the start of the semester, and it's been serving well. The speakers require a significant burn-in time to reach their full potential - out of the box, the mids felt kind of stiff and the bass was lackadaisical. Play them for a couple dozen hours, though, and everything just sort of comes together.

The satellites are the main attraction. At 50-odd watts per channel, there's plenty of power. It seems like the system gives most duties to these sats, only reserving the lowest stuff for the subwoofer. Listening to "Mona Lisa Overdrive" from the "Matrix Reloaded" soundtrack, for example, the sub puts out the throbbing background hum perfectly while the sats do a great job with the strings and brass that the Matrix series is known for.

There are some annoyances, however. There's no power button on the satellites, which just plain doesn't make any sense. The unit is highly directional - off-axis performance is not great at all. That is, if you sit/stand right in front of the speakers, you get foot-shaking bass and clear highs, but if you step three feet to the right, the sound quality drops noticeably. This is acceptable given that these are supposed to be computer speakers, but it's something to note nonetheless.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Miscellany: The USS Arizona Memorial

When my family and I went to vacation in Hawaii, one of the places we visited was the USS Arizona Memorial, operated by the National Park Service. The visitor center showed a short film on the events and aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and then we were off to the memorial, which sits above the sunken USS Arizona.

The place is both a memorial and a graveyard for thousands of American sailors. I suppose in this modern era there is no such thing as a formal declaration of war, and even the very legality of war itself can be a source of much debate. But I have to believe that the nation lost part of its innocence that fateful day.

The memorial itself is beautiful; a gleaming white span with numerous openings and a huge wall with the names of all those who were killed there. The silence and the constant ocean breeze are what still remain in my mind though.

News: RIP James Kim

Not to turn the blog into an obituary, but I felt I had to note the death of a prominent CNET editor, James Kim.

It's strange when you see someone explaining the Zune in a video preview, and then a month later, he's dead. James Kim came across as the tech-savvy next-door neighbor everyone wished they had - engaging but knowledgeable.

I don't recommend everyone do what he did in that particular emergency situation (safest thing to do is stay near your vehicle), but no one can ignore the cojones exhibited by Mr. Kim, a family man who obviously fought to the death against the elements to save his wife and kids.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Links: Reason Magazine

There aren't too many libertarian magazines floating around - many of the older ones formed in the 70s, like "Inquiry" and "Libertarian Review," are now defunct. One of the survivors is "Reason," a monthly publication with (some say) a right-leaning libertarian slant. I catch up on it from time to time, though I don't have a subscription or anything.

The measure of any good magazine is how much it makes you think. In terms of breaking news, the various MSM do a decent job of at least telling people what happens around the world. What you receive from a magazine, supposedly, is entertainment, commentary, and analysis on topics that you thought you knew all about.

For example, a recent article in "Reason" focused on how ridiculously hard it is to fire a teacher in New York City. While we all joke about tenure, it's startling to see how bizarre the truth is. Here's the nifty illustrated chart.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Miscellany: The Christmas Newsletter

Our family has plenty of Christmas traditions, but one of the most enduring has to be the annual Christmas newsletter we send out with all our Christmas cards. In terms of content, it's a pretty standard affair - a general update on how things are going in our family, some pictures of our vacations, and the usual doses of holiday cheer.

This year, like every year, I'm writing the newsletter. My sister Christina is laying it out and adding photos (since she finishes school much earlier and goes home on the 12th - lucky dog). It's always a challenge writing these things, because many of the recipients are either near-strangers who we only see once every few years, or close family and friends who'll basically be reading this thing with us when we come over to their houses over Christmas.

There's also the matter of how much levity and sarcasm should enter into the proceedings. While, luckily, none of my extended family has died, I wonder how such things should be handled during the holidays.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tech: "Mulliga's Sense of Zelda" - A Retrospective

Worst. Zelda. Ever.

I've played almost every Legend of Zelda game ever made. Yes, I even saw that crappy CD-i Zelda game on an infomercial. Starting out with that first golden NES cartridge, Zelda games have been on tap for nearly two decades. To commemorate this, and to distract me from studying for my exams, here's some of the highlights and lowlights of my experience with the Zelda series:

The Legend of Zelda - Still one of the best games ever made. I beat this twice as a kid and twice as an adult (the adult playthroughs were swordless and on the Gamecube Zelda compilation disc). I still remember scribbling notes on that neat map they included in the package. The NES is capable of better graphics, though, so I suppose it isn't perfect. Rating: 9.7/10

The Adventure of Link - A more challenging and very different Zelda game, considered to be the dark horse of the series. I rented it for my NES (big mistake - no way to finish this sucker in three days if you only play off and on) and found it too complex for my tastes. Even as an adult, I just couldn't get into it. Oh well.

A Link to the Past - Again, one of the best games ever made. Everything good about the original is expanded here in beautiful graphics and sound. The element of story, which made a nascent appearance in Zelda II, is developed even further here (you uncle is felled in the opening minutes, which is enough to make anyone angry). Rating: 10/10

Ocarina of Time - Many consider it to be the greatest game of all time. I still think the original and LTTP were better, especially as Ocarina's really just a fancy version of LTTP. The Z-targeting system revolutionized how action adventures are made. Rating: 9.5/10

Majora's Mask - Another dark horse Zelda. I never got into this one, either - a bit too strange and off-putting for my tastes, plus the time limit puts a stop to the careless meandering I love so much in Zelda.

Wind Waker - The "cartoony" Zelda. Doesn't deviate far from the Ocarina template, except for that huge ocean. Best combat in the entire series - you can steal a weapon from an enemy, for example, and then either whack them with it or hurl it right back at them. The game was too short, the fetch quests at the end were a drag, and the game was way too easy (I beat it without even collecting any heart containers from bosses). Rating: 8.8/10

Twilight Princess - The most recent Zelda, and the one that's currently killing my free time. Again, sort of an Ocarina clone, but with better graphics. The dungeons thus far have been excellent (just finished the second dungeon), and I estimate the game will take a good 35-40 hours to finish, which is about right in my book. Rating: ???

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Books: Tale of two book series: "His Dark Materials" & "The Chronicles of Narnia"

I never really read either of these series as a child, besides a mandatory reading of "The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe" in fourth grade. While it's been said that the "His Dark Materials" trilogy is Philip Pullman's response to the C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, the truth is that they are very similar books, at least on the face of it.

I won't spoil anything about either story here, but they have basically opposing themes - Narnia is written as a fantasy with Christian elements and mythologies, while "His Dark Materials" uses lots of gnostic ideas. I will say, however, that "Chronicles" is the stronger series - the sense of wonder and disorientation when Lewis' characters re-enter the realm of Narnia in "Prince Caspian," for example, is almost palpable.

I did feel a bit offended when Lewis and Pullman introduce their personal biases and beliefs in not-so-subtle ways (with Pullman being the worst offender of the two until the closing books of Narnia). I'd like to read a good epic children's fantasy where no religious principles are explored, just to be fair (I believe "Redwall" and its progeny might fit the bill). I'm a little weirded out by such things in children's books - imagine if Curious George advocated aetheism or if Dr. Seuss talked about reincarnation (though of course Seuss himself was a staunch liberal).

Sports: Finding a way to win

AP Photo: Florida's Percy Harvin smoking up the field.

The Florida Gators just won the SEC championship game. Now the BCS selection controversy is on - should Florida play Ohio State, or should Michigan? You might remember my previous posts about the Gators' ugly wins this season - and they still stand. The Gators have not dominated in football games against credible opponents, mostly due to third-quarter collapses that destroy any leads they might have built up by halftime.

But, before everyone starts packing for the Sugar Bowl, it must be noted that there is some merit in finding a way to win games. Most people realize now, I think, that any given Saturday almost anything can happen - the rankings seem almost meaningless at times when unranked teams can squeak by or even wallop top-10 teams.

The Gators, though, have gone 12-1 and have won against lots of top-25 teams (UT, LSU, Arkansas). They weren't pretty wins, they weren't blowouts, but by golly, when time ran out, the Gators won. Call it luck (yeah, sure, they just got lucky against nine different bowl-eligible teams), call it the nature of the SEC, but I predict some mild riots if Florida gets left out this year.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

School: Studying time

Well, my Contracts exam is in a week and a half, so I'm going to start hitting the books hard tomorrow. My sister's party is literally thumping downstairs, but I'm trying to go through sample outlines to find some semblance of structure in the madness.

The universe of knowledge covered in the course is absurdly vast - we've gone through literally 700-odd pages filled with dozens of principles of contract law and even more cases that illustrate (or don't) certain points about those principles. That's a lot to distill and dish out in a 4 hour exam. I've already mentally resigned myself to the fact that Contracts will be my first and toughest exam, with Torts being easiest, and Criminal and Professional Responsibility somewhere in the middle.

In a way, it's reassuring. This is the home stretch, and the only person who can really let me down now is myself. There's only one time in college where I felt unprepared going into an exam - my Differential Equations course - but I vowed long ago it would never happen again.

News: Bong Hits 4 Jesus

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to a case where a school suspended a student for violating a school policy prohibiting the promotion of illegal drug use. The student, who displayed a large banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," was on a public sidewalk but was just outside the school. Students and teachers had been let out to watch the Olympic torch relay (the case was originally started in 2002, and like almost all appeals, it took years to reach the high court).

There are decent arguments on both sides, it seems. The student claims his First Amendment rights were violated. The school argues it has a right to restrict speech like this.

One way to think about these things is to consider the consequences of adopting one rule over the other.

If you allow the school to suspend this kid, than anyone who wears a shirt or a backpack containing an unpopular or political message could potentially be punished under the guise of protecting students.

If you allow the kid to do whatever he wants with regards to banners and such, you open the door for all sorts of nutjobs to proselytize/advertise/shock kids right outside the school when they walk to the school bus.

Consequences, always consequences.

Friday, December 01, 2006

School: Mitchell

This is one of my chums from back when I was still toiling in the electrical engineering department. Mitchell Preston, one of the oldest students in our class, is one of those guys that you just can't help but like. He served in the Navy as a submariner - the "silent service," as they say. From there, he did lots of different things, but finally wound up here at UF pursuing a degree.

One of the joys of higher education is getting to learn material along with people who are very different from you. Whether they're from another country or another generation, you always get interesting stories and worthwhile companions. I can't say every single part of my education has been worthwhile, but the people sure have been.

Miscellany: The battle of the bulge

When I was a very young kid, I was a twig. By fifth grade my Mom and my Grandma both focused on fattening me up, and it worked - all too well. I spent middle school and high school with a pot belly and low self-esteem (well, regarding my body, anyway :-P).

I wish I could go back to that troubled youth and impart some of the wisdom I've gained from trying to get in shape. The most important thing I would have told myself back then is that you don't have to clean your plate - I can't recall how many times I kept on eating even when I was full, just out of politeness and not wanting to waste food. It's more difficult in today's society where people pile on the servings.

I'd also tell my younger self to eat what you feel like eating. Never go on a "diet" - I sometimes wonder how people on low-carb diets can stand craving pasta and bread, while people on low-fat diets constantly long for steak and bacon. I'm not a nutritionist, but generally, I think when your body craves something, you should listen to it. Sometimes you just feel like a big garden salad, or a bowl of popcorn, or a prime rib, or ice cream. Again, as long as you don't eat enough of the stuff until you're bursting at the gills, you should be fine.

The final piece of the puzzle is exercise. Since I bike to law school and back, I'm guaranteed about 20 minutes of aerobic exercise 10 times a week. This is enough to keep my weight at about 170 pounds, but if you feel like losing more, you're going to have to pile on more activity. A good hour-long run three or four times a week probably sheds more calories than anything else you can think of.