Category Archives: I am a total nerd, out and proud!

Searching for tester standing (possibly my law-nerdiest post yet).

More accurately, searching for tester /s standing; yielded this gem:

the … court found that items such as a pry bar, an electric circuit tester, a flashlight, and a feeler gauge were not criminal instruments even when found on a person standing in a pawn shop doorway at two o’clock in the morning.

Nobby Lobby, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 970 F.2d 82, 90 (5th Cir. 1992).  And I really don’t want to know what a Nobby Lobby is, though I’m hoping they are infringing the heck out of Hobby Lobby.

Therapeutic Disclaimer: Not ungrammatical. Non-binary aware.

I need a therapeutic disclaimer in emails and other media that goes like this:

 . . .  [blah blah blah] they* [blah blah blah] them* [blah blah blah] their* . . .

*Non-binary-aware, not ungrammatical.

I need this because I was raised on grammatical correction.  It was how we expressed love in our family, just as many families express love by overfeeding one another, or teaching their young’uns to hunt or catch a spiral pass.

At a point slightly before I was able to consume solid food, my mother taught me — and corrected me — on the difference between “which” and “that.”  If you said something was “more unique” in our household, you got a quick lecture on how the thing could be unique or not, but could not be comparatively unique because that suggested there was more than one of whatever it was.  I believe my mother stopped drinking Pepsi for a while (actually, I don’t recall her ever drinking Pepsi; Fresca was her soft drink of choice) when they advertised it as “The Refreshingest!”  One year, she corrected a typo in my home-made holiday card.   That year was 2007.

Perhaps my favorite story, demonstrating the inter-generational quality to this bonding-through-grammar, was when — at the know-it-all age of approximately 12 — I wrote a letter to the editor of the Washington Post suggesting that some article or another was “male chauvinist.”  My grandfather read it and provided this encouraging comment for my early efforts at politico-journalistic participation:  “I believe the adjectival form is ‘chauvinistic.'”  Seriously.  I am not making that up.

I have to add, of course, that I love my mother and grandfather, and that they prepared me well for a world in which you are in fact judged on your grammar.  No one taught me how to dress fashionably or wear make-up — we just weren’t a fashion-forward family

Image: three white people leaning on the side of a ferry boat. The young girl, around 9 years old, is wearing red shorts, a blue shirt and knee socks, the woman (holding a small dog) is wearing blue pants and a red shirt, and the man (with a scruffy beard) is wearing a short-sleeve button-down shirt and brown work pants.

— but dammit I know how to sound edumacated.

As an act of rebellion, I became a linguistics major and basked in the glow of descriptive grammar.  As an adult, I relish hearing and constructing neologisms, making prefixes and suffixes go where they have never gone before, and generally observing the way our brains interact with language when left on their own.  For all of this linguistic liberation, however, I still have a very severe case of GIS:  Grammatical Insecurity Syndrome.

One of the things I was taught alongside “which,” “that,” and never, ever “most unique,” is that singular verbs take singular pronouns, and that “they, them, and their” are plural pronouns.  I learned to police my language for this possible mismatch, and either change the number — that is, rearrange the entire sentence to be plural rather than singular — or change the pronoun.   And of course since I was a good feminist, I balked at the generic “he” and used the hell out of “he or she,”  “his/hers,” etc.  The random use of the generic “she” — which become popular when I was in law school in the 1980s — always seemed sort of strained to me, especially when used by male professors whose approach was otherwise pretty chauvinist . . .  I mean, of course, chauvinistic.

It’s time to leave all that binary shit behind.  It’s time to embrace they/them/their as singular, non-binary, pronouns.  And most of all, it’s time not to care if many people think I’m just ungrammatical.  As always, XKCD says it best:

Image: 9 panel comic, two stick figures conversing. Person #1:

Vocabulary Win

My opposing counsel called me a snake.  Which was fine, because it permitted me to use the phrase “herpetological invective” in my reply email.  #nerdsrule

Update with this thought:  I might just need to revise my ADA Defense Counsel Bingo card to include “complete snake.”  (Yes, I’m not just a partial snake, folks, I’m a complete snake, which is much more effective for slithering purposes.)

Summer Camp 1973

When I saw Mighty Girl’s post on Rosie’s Girls summer camp, “a trades exploration day camp for school girls” where girls can learn welding, carpentry, auto repair, etc., I was moved to comment (on Facebook) that I wish this had been an option for me instead of figure skating camp. I thought I’d expound.

Yes, figure skating camp. But first, I got to spend a summer attending the Flint Hill Day Camp, where (IIRC) we spent up to six hours each day making plastic lanyards. I’m confident that there must have been other activities, but that’s the only one I recall. I loved it just as much as you would expect a nerdy introvert to love engaging in six hours a day of non-book-oriented activities with random unfamiliar kids.

By the time I was 12, I was launched on my figure skating career, which was ultimately as successful as you would expect for a klutzy nerdy introvert, but did provide good money-making opportunities in college, teaching private lessons to local kids. But back to skating camp. In 1973, there was no year-round ice rink in the DC area, and the Skating Club of Wilmington ran a summer program for skaters of a wide range of abilities, from Olympic trainees to klutzy kids from locations without year-round rinks.  So off I went.

Image:  The side of a building, painted white, with large letters spelling out "Skating Club of Wilmington."

Activities consisted of skating, hanging around the skating rink, and hanging around the dorm. When I think of the sort of enrichment and structure that my friends expect from their kids’ camps these days, I don’t think they envision the sort of enrichment and structure the Wilmington summer skating program dorm provided:

Image:  young white woman in a white halter top shirt is sitting on the top bunk of a bunk bed with a white man, 20-30 years old, wearing a Budweiser t-shirt and jeans, and drinking from a can of Budweiser beer.Image:  white man, 20-30 years old, wearing a Budweiser t-shirt and jeans, and holding a can of Budweiser beer shares a chair with a young white woman in a white halter top shirt.

The back of the photo reads, “Laurie and Dr. John.”  So, yes, one of my dorm-mates — already much older than me — had a much older, beer-drinking boyfriend who had dubbed himself “Dr. John.”

What’s amazing is that — at 12 — I wasn’t even the youngest kid living parentless in this enriching environment.

Image:  white woman in white halter top sitting on the floor of a dorm room eating watermelon and sharing it with four young white girls, apparently ranging in age from around 7 to perhaps 12.

More of my hall-mates.

Image:  group photo in a dorm hallway, including 7 white girls ranging in age from 12 to 20, a 20-30 year old man (Dr. John), and a black teen-ager.

The back of that photo reads, “Laurie, Jill Cosgrove, Carrie Applegate, Amy Keilly, Bruno, Patti Downst.”  Through the miracle of Google, I learn that Jill Cosgrove went on to have a successful career as a figure skater and choreographer.   Couldn’t find the others.

Since I was the photographer, there are — sadly — no photos of me.  Wait, what?  No.  That’s not me.  No way.  Seriously?

Image:  two approximtely 12-year-old white girls in pyjamas in a dorm room, one sitting on a bed, the other standing by a desk with a toothbrush.

I also found this one, of me with my coach, Uschi Keszler, whom I totally idolized and who turns out — who knew?* — to be minorly famous herself, complete with Wikipedia page.

Image:  white woman with short, frosted white-blond hair, perhaps 30 years old, wearing a tourquoise polyester suit jacket with a young white girl with brown hair holding a stuffed lobster plush toy.

Yes, I’m holding a toy lobster.  Deal with it.

I tend not to have very fond memories of the whole skating camp experience.  It was my choice — my parents were not stage parents, though God knows the skating world had plenty of those — but in retrospect I’ve come to believe that neither the program nor figure skating in general was a very healthy experience.   It was a world that encouraged kid vs. kid (generally girl vs. girl) competition, with no sense of teamwork.  We heard rumors of kids ruining each other’s skates or program tapes before big competitions.  And, at bottom, I just sucked at it.  So wish there had been a Photography and Reading for Introverted Klutzes camp.  My peeps!

But going back through the photos made me remember a couple of other cool things (besides the early introduction to wardrobe-coordinated beer drinking).  Wilmington, in 1973, had a number of blind skaters.  One, Stash Serafin, shown here in my 1973 photo,

Image:  Young white man in patterned shirt and red warm-up jacket poses in front of a sign-board listing dances by name ("waltz, tango, blues").


has (thanks again, Google!) gone on to have a successful skating career.



And finally, in 1973, you could get an entire basket of fries for 35 cents!

Image:  snack bar with white woman in apron behind the counter.  Sign reads French Fries 35 cents.



*Well, I suppose many Germans whom she represented in the Olympics knew, but I was stunningly unaware of who she was.  In retrospect, I can only imagine her thinking — watching me skate — “I left my homeland for THIS?”


Because “back the f**k off” would be impolite.

Our yard has a long expanse of fence that faces a fairly busy road.  The fence was in need of upkeep before our recent wind and hail storms, and is now looking pretty dilapidated.

Image:  a street runs along the right side of the photo; on the left side, a green area bordered by a wooden fence which is sagging out into the green area next to the street.

We’ve scheduled a handyman, but we were busy and he was busy and one thing after another . . . he’s set to fix it on July 29.  But the fence was getting a lot of, um, neighborly commentary, so I decided on a bit of fence art:

Image: a street runs along the left side of the photo; on the right  side, a green area bordered by a wooden fence which is sagging out into the green area next to the street. A white sign is visible tacked to the fence near the broken area.

Image:  wooden fence with a sign consisting of three pieces of white paper stapled to it.



Fence Art 2 p 2

Text of signs:  “art installation: ‘waves of wood’ — symbolizing the transient nature of the material world, the multiplicity of human consciousness, and our hope for the future.”  A text box at the bottom reads, “In other words, the fence broke, we were focused on other things and procrastinated calling the handyman, who is busy for the next few weeks, but will be around to fix it soon.”

Not too transgressive, but at least I crack myself up!

Random Vegas Observations

There is an amazing variety of people in Las Vegas:  young; old; fat; thin; rich; poor; barely-clad; wildly overdressed; fancy; schleppy; drunk; sober.

Middle-aged ladies in Bryn Walker linen and Børn* sandals are, as a general matter, not one of those categories.  At my age, I would  fit in better in either (1) dyed-brown  helmet-hair and Talbots; or (2) a dyed-blonde bouffant and stretch capris.

Corollary:  I can’t go shopping in Vegas because casino shops generally don’t have Bryn Walker,  Børn, Lands End, LL Bean, or Best Buy.

New business plan:  The Introvert Hotel and Spa.  Next door to — but separated by weapons-grade soundproofing from — an ordinary casino, the IHS will feature quiet, sunny, reading areas with quiet waitstaff quietly bringing you umbrella drinks and quiet spa facilities where quiet massage therapists deliver relaxing, yet quiet, massages.  Projected client base:  nerdy introverted spouses of nerdy introverted poker players.

Related observation:  MGM moved its poker room from the former, centrally-located, area next to what I think was a strip bar with a limited playlist of brain-liquifying techno music, to a side area that was quieter than the entire rest of the casino.  Perhaps the MGM has realized that poker players are different from the rest of their slot-playing, beer-bong-toting, bachelor-party-reveling patrons.

Unrelated observation:  Who on God’s green earth brings their infants and toddlers to Vegas? It can’t possibly be fun for either the kids or the parents.

Lobster corn dogs: just the wrong amount of wrong.

Gatorade looks awesome in a wine glass:

{Image:  Bright blue liquid in a wine glass against a neutral background.}


* Yes, I enjoyed finding the “ø” in WordPress, but then you knew that.

Random case quote of the day

From Westlaw’s description of Lane v. Page, 272 F.R.D. 558 (D.N.M. 2011):  “scofflaw and ne’er-do-well could act as fiduciary to class of lineal descendants of loyal subjects of King Charles II of Spain.”

But would his claims be typical of disloyal subjects?


Great Moments in Standing Law

In 1975, the plaintiffs — four public inebriates and one taxpayer — brought a class action suit against various governmental entities in the City and County of Los Angeles to challenge the prosecution of public inebriates under California’s public intoxication statute.

Sundance v. Municipal Court, 192 Cal.App.3d 268, 270 (1987).

You lawnerds know what I’m talking about:  to have standing to challenge a law punishing public inebriates, you have to identify as a public inebriate.   QED.

Photo dump from the Droid

Random cellphone photos that entertain me without actually being worthy of an entire blog post.

Let’s hear it for the First Amendment:


Do these people know about revisions to the rules of professional conduct permitting brand names for law firms?

2013-01-31_12-21-45_684 crop

We love The Belvedere where you can get pierogis and they have a beer named after an astronomer!


So you can feel like a true carnivore when you eat your hamburger:


Stay on the sofa or get off the sofa — it’s so hard to decide!


In the DU Law School café.  Kids today have it so easy!


A neighborhood bar offers a bit of advanced wine-pouring guidance:


And finally, as a passionate avocado fan, I am always sort of annoyed that the Safeway thinks I need subtitles to figure out which avocado is ripe.


Non-mom non-skinny jeans

Looking for suggestions for jeans that are neither this:


nor this:


which by the way, the good folks at J. Crew call “toothpick jeans.”  I guess that’s skinnier than skinny jeans?  Seriously, I’d rather not look like the top photo, but I’d also prefer not to look like I’m trying to relive my 20s.  Actually, not *my* 20s:


but perhaps someone else’s 20s.  The 20s of a much hipper, better-dressed person.  But when even Talbots is offering this


—  combining the dorkiness of Mom jeans with the awkward discomfort of skinny jeans — what am I supposed to do?  And yes, I shop at Talbots, perpetrator of looks like this


because they actually make [basic, non-plaid] office clothes for short girls.

I’m not just trolling for comments here, though that is always one goal!  I’m serious.  Where can I get non-mom, non-skinny, non-toothpick, comfortable-yet-hip-for-a-52-year-old-lawyer jeans?

And if anyone says “eBay” — you know who you are! — you’re gonna have to show me how to be sure I’m not buying someone’s used clothing.