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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in M. Davis-Wilson's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
9:45 pm
My mother passed away yesterday morning. There is both nothing and everything to say about this, and my journaling has withered with disuse, so I will leave it at that for now.

I miss her.
Sunday, September 27th, 2009
1:57 pm
Small mercies
The October GQ has Olivia Wilde on the cover, with the headline "Why We're Wild About Olivia Wilde". Which is sort of cheesy, but hey, such are headlines. We learn in the accompanying article that she changed her name when she began her acting career; her parents are named Cockburn.

I can only imagine the headline writers at GQ are really glad she made that choice.
Friday, April 24th, 2009
9:36 am
For those who don't follow Jen's LJ: Holy crap, I have a kid.

He does, in fact, have two arms. He's just so fast you can only see one at a time.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
4:10 pm
I think it's kind of awesome that I have to program my spellchecker at work to accept "lol" as a word.

It would be more cool if it weren't just shorthand for limitation of liability, but you gotta take the joy where you find it.

(Did I take foolish delight in titling my memo on permissible upper limits on limitation of liability "Lolcaps"? Oh hell yes I did.)
Monday, April 13th, 2009
10:24 pm
My first sole-byline legal publication was released today: a Focus piece in the San Francisco Daily Journal. (My first legal publication was an article last summer I assisted a partner with. It sorta counts.)

I have a particularly bad case of the feeling-like-a-frauds on this one, but the people who've read it seem to think it adequate.
Friday, March 6th, 2009
8:10 pm
Iss mah birfday uh-morrow!
It having been almost a third of a century since I came into this world, some observation of the day seems appropriate.

It having been almost a third of a month since I had a proper day off, a big hullabaloo seems less than totally appealing. (Especially as Sunday will almost certainly be spent reading reams of supplier agreements.)

Thus, in honor of my natal day, we will be At Home to Guests tomorrow, starting around lunchtime. If people would like to come and say hello, we would love to have you. There may well be snacks and tasty beverages. Weather permitting*, we might even break out the hot tub.

Email me if you haven't been to our new place; it turns out that Google Maps lies.

*disclaimer: weather may not be permitting
Saturday, February 14th, 2009
7:43 pm
Three Dog Night
So we have two guest dogs with us this weekend. They're having fun tearing all over the place and somehow inspiring Finn to do things like climb up on the dining room table. And periodically, all three dogs will decide to come see me and look at me soulfully, as if to say:

Finn: I'm the cutest dog in the whole wide world!
Skipper: No, I'm the cutest dog in the entire universe!
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
10:04 pm
For years I have wanted a particular utility. I want a program that I can feed the names of everyone I want to stay in touch with, and the last time I contacted them. It would then prod me whenever it had been some set amount of time since I communicated with X, Y, and Z.

Does anyone know if such a thing exists? It seems like it would be a fairly simple Facebook app. I know that professional contact managers like sales reps use would probably do what I want, but that seems excessive.
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
10:41 pm
I have spent all goddamn evening trying to get my computer to connect to the wireless. Even now, I have only managed to get my Ethernet to work correctly. I've tried everything I can think of, but no matter what I do it just won't give me a freaking IP address. Plus my computer keeps connecting to the trailer park next door's router. Which won't give me an IP address either. Which suggests that something is probably wrong with my computer, but damned if I know what.

On days like these, I really wish there was somewhat I could blame for wireless networking. Because they would probably live in my neighborhood, and then sweet vengeance would ensue.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
7:23 pm
In which I vent like an aging coal plant
I saw an article today about a poll which asked whether people thought that global warming was predominantly due to human activity or natural activity. This appears to be a major part of the debates surrounding climate change and appropriate policies thereto. I think it's an extremely pernicious framing of the issue, and sensible people should resist it (even those people who are skeptical about climate change but interested in rational policymaking).

Primarily, this is because OMG CLIFFHANGERCollapse )
Sunday, January 25th, 2009
11:37 am
The trials of homeownership (selected highlights)
So we got our property tax assessment, and it sort of encapsulates what's happened to Bay Area real estate over my lifetime. When the previous owners bought this house twenty-odd years ago, the assessed value of the house was divided more or less evenly between the value of the land and the value of the improvements to the land, weighted slightly toward the land side. (It's a big lot.) Since then, the improvements have increased about 60% in value, which is actually somewhat less than keeping place with inflation. (Makes sense, I guess; stuff gets old.) The value of the land, meanwhile, went up 425%.

I came home the other night to a pronounced smell of gas in the house. All our pilot lights were on, and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, but I had run into a PG&E guy that morning who asked if I had smelled gas. So I called PG&E, but it turns out that their customer service is terrible after hours. Then I tried the non-emergency services number for Mountain View, and they advised me to get out of the house and sent out the fire department. So after a few minutes three fire trucks roll up, and a half dozen firefighters are looking around for where the gas smell is coming from. (Apparently it was a slow night.) Eventually they conclude that the smell ebbs and flows depending on where you're standing, and does not appear to be coming from the house, and smells more like sewer gas anyway. So that's that. Poor Finn was traumatized; he fears trucks and strangers, and I don't think I've ever seen him quivering with anxiety like that before.

Over the last couple of days, our floor furnace has been misbehaving; the pilot has gone out a couple of times, but Jen has been able to relight it. Then this morning there was a faint gas smell, but the pilot was on, so I figured we were probably OK. Then a few minutes ago there was a loud THUD noise, like someone dropping something heavy. Jen and I both went to see what the other one had done to cause it, and we found a burnt-hair smell over the floor furnace, and the furnace was actually fully on now. "I told you I smelled gas", says Jen. I think if this keeps up we should probably call someone.

This actually makes an old memory of mine make sense; I was sitting at my childhood kitchen counter when a gas leak blew out* the back wall of our kitchen, but the memory is much less violent than I would have assumed a gas explosion would be. I remember my mom jumping back in startlement (she was cooking at the time), but my actual memory of the event itself is...pretty much a loud THUMP. So there you go.

*"Blew out" maybe overstates the case. But there was a hole in the wall afterward.
Saturday, January 10th, 2009
8:50 pm
Lessons of the Wriggly Wranch (not a brothel in Nevada)
Composting really does teach you things about nature.

We got a vermicomposting rig a few months ago. The Wriggly Wranch is a set of three plastic bins; the bottom one is solid, with a tap, and the other two are filled with holes on the bottom. You put all your vegetable scraps in along with a bunch of worms, and they produce dirt and "worm tea", which is basically water with various dissolved nutrients in it. (OK, technically what they produce is not so much dirt as worm poo, but it basically looks the same.) When one bin fills, you switch the bins and start putting new vegetables in the new bin; the worms migrate through the holes, and after a while you can empty out the now-abandoned dirt. Liquid collects in the bottom bin, and periodically you drain off a pot of worm tea.

Now, I was basically friendly to the whole composting thing, but I wasn't sure what we would do with all the dirt. We don't use that much fertilizer. (I guess we have enough ground to fertilize now, but we didn't in Menlo Park.) This, I imagined, is the core problem with a lot of green living solutions -- the logistics. It's great to turn our biowaste back into soil, but how would we then get these mountains of soil back where they would be useful?

As it turns out, we have not yet gotten a single load of compost out of our Wriggly Wranch. After three months, we just swapped the bins yesterday, and the worms haven't started migrating yet. As it happens, worms eat really slowly; the vegetables mostly rot before the worms really get into them. And they're kind of fussy; we have a lot of citrus waste because of our ornage tree, but apparently they turn their noses up at citrus when there is other fare. Also, they produce a *lot* of liquid; we've probably poured off a few gallons of worm tea.

It makes me rethink my attitude about not retrieving stray bits of trash just because they're biodegradable. I always assumed nature was pretty speedy about processing our wastes, but it appears not so much. At the same time, I am no longer concerned about urban composting drowning us in excess dirt.
Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
2:45 pm
Fenwick had a firm holiday on the day after New Year's, which made this a glorious opportunity to have a four-day weekend with time to relax and to get things done. In the same weekend! Unfortunately, as has long been its wont, my body has decided to take such a broad uninterrupted span of free time to get its sick on. This makes me sad. Also bleary and congested.

In other, unrelated news, Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker is an absolutely terrible book. Baker more or less writes by pouring out raw id onto the page, which in the past has made for entertaining if rather pervy prose. However, Checkpoint is a 2004-era Bush assassination fantasy rendered as a dialogue between two old friends, one of whom has apparently gone off the deep end and decided to kill the president. While he accomplishes his usual feat of expressing clearly and accurately the things that people think but would never, ever say, in Checkpoint that insight doesn't lead us anywhere. In large part this is, I think, because after the two characters have between them expressed the key dilemma of an assassination fantasy -- the target deserves to die, but it would be Wrong to kill them -- there's not really anywhere to go. It's basically the dramatic equivalent of a long blog thread on "Bush: Worst President Ever?" It would, I think, have been much more interesting if Baker had written a book about someone actually killing the president. There's interesting conflict in killing the president, but not so much in wanting to kill the president, and only slightly more in admitting that you want to kill the president.
Friday, November 21st, 2008
6:21 pm
Esquire, bitches.
Sunday, November 16th, 2008
7:29 pm
One Reason Why Civil Unions Don't Cut It
After election day, I did some research on the law of California domestic partnerships, and I found something interesting that I thought y'all might also find interesting.

In California since 2003, domestic partners receive all the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law. (The original domestic partnership law in 1999 had only granted same-sex couples (and elderly couples, interestingly) a limited subset of marital privileges.) Now, at that time, it wasn't entirely clear why legal equivalence wouldn't be an adequate solution to the question of same-sex marriage, and I had sort of assumed a few years ago that that was probably where we would wind up for a generation. The discussion has advanced a great deal since then, but I think one issue is that many people don't understand why civil unions don't satisfy.

In my research, I found one distinction in the law that seems initially unimportant, but seems more significant to me the more I think about it. To get married in the state of California, you must go to your local county clerk to apply for a marriage license; you must have your marriage solemnized by an officiant approved by the state (essentially, a state official or a religious figure); you must have your marriage license witnessed by two people. This leaves a considerable amount of leeway for whatever marriage practices you want to follow, but it creates a certain floor of ritual. Your local community (the county) must be involved; your personal community (the witnesses) must be involved; and you need to have some sort of ceremony (solemnization).

To form a domestic partnership, you get a form from the Secretary of State, you both sign it, you get it notarized, and you send it back to the Secretary of State.

So, to get married, you need to go to church, or to City Hall; to get partnered, you need to go to Kinko's. What this means is that we have offered same-sex couples a close equivalent to *being* married; we have not offered them anything remotely like *getting* married.

And frankly, the latter is arguably more important. In the five years I've been married, I haven't made much use of the rights and responsibilities of a spouse. Preferential tax treatment is nice, and we've saved a bit of money on health insurance. And to be clear, it's good to know that all of the other perquisites of marriage are there -- hospital visitation, spousal confidentiality, and so on. But the nuts and bolts of my everyday life are not that much different from what they would have been if jendaviswilson and I had just cohabited indefinitely.

What is different is that we made a commitment to each other before ourselves, our families and friends, and the community at large. The involvement of other people makes a difference. The involvement of the community makes a difference. We talk about weddings binding two people together, but I think in most marriages that work is already done by the time you walk down the aisle. The wedding ritual affirms that bond, and then demands the community's support for it. And that last part is what domestic partnerships don't do. The state of California recognizes same-sex relationships; it doesn't bless them.
Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
8:13 pm
Incremental progress!
The state of California has concluded that I do in fact possess the moral character suitable for a member of the bar. (Yeah, OK, shut up.) The competence bit remains to be seen. Thanks to everyone who vouched that I am neither a meth dealer nor a serial killer, that you know of.
Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
10:09 pm
Holy crap, I'm a lawyer
This morning I finished my first actual assignment as an actually employed lawyer. It's been a very long time since I had a real job.

They assure us that while the sky may be falling, it is probably not falling on us. It is still a slightly nerve-wracking time to be the new guy.
Sunday, October 5th, 2008
9:01 am
Sarah Palin is a gift to comedy in ways that you couldn't even dream up. I was looking at a still of the SNL debate sketch this morning, and realized that while Sarah Palin and Tina Fey do look eerily similar, Palin's hairdo is flattering to Palin but not to Fey. Thus, they don't even have to do anything to create a slightly ridiculous effect; they just have to dress Fey like Palin, and she looks sort of goofy even before she does a thing.
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
7:31 pm
Talk to your dogs about mud...before someone else does
The dog park we go to in Menlo Park has poor drainage, and hence when the city waters, certain low points turn into mudholes. Somehow, by a mysterious confluence of geology and landscaping, the city of Menlo Park has succeeded in creating crack for dogs. And not just crack, but Movie of the Week crack.

A few months ago, Finn would occasionally take a nibble of mud if he happened to wander by one particular mudhole while at leisure during a dog park visit. As time passed, he started eating mud whenever he would get bored with the other dogs. As it became clear that we disapprove of his new pastime, he started to get furtive about eating mud -- stealing a nibble, then running away before we could grab or interrupt him. Recently, he started ignoring other dogs who are his friends in favor of eating mud.


Our puppy is a junkie.
Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
6:18 pm
Why do they lie about the details?
The latest McCain flap is over his story of sharing a Christmas moment with one of his Vietnamese guards over a cross scratched in the dirt with a stick. Some suspect that this is a fabrication, because the story is eerily similar to an incident that supposedly happened to Solzhenitsyn and which is a popular inspirational story among the evangelical right (though there are some indications that it may be an urban legend; the story appears nowhere in Solzhenitsyn's works), and McCain apparently never talked about it before 1999. One of his fellow POWs has confirmed the basic story, but says that it didn't happen at Christmas and the cross was drawn by foot, not by stick. (Of course, this was Bud Day, who was one of the key Swift Boat Vets, so take that with however much salt seems merited.)

Now, I don't know the truth, and I'm willing to believe that something along those general lines happened; there have been other stories of North Vietnamese guards who were either closet Christians or just sympathetic to the Christian faith of American POWs. But it seems unlikely that John McCain experienced an event almost identical to a popular story among a key demographic that he needs to woo, then forgot about it while writing multiple memoirs, only to recall it upon developing Presidential aspirations. Why, then, would he set a trap for himself by fabricating minor details of an essentially true story?Collapse )
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