Friday, August 31, 2007


Crabby, Overtired PC Student Haiku Friday!

Looking up at the PR class today, I could see the following archetypes:
40% zombies
30% angry
20% sentient but thinking about food
5% manic, laughing inappropriately at children dying in a horrible bus accident
3% catatonic stupor
1% homicidal, paranoid, and narcoleptic
1% The Unflappable Dan Stokes, who seems skeptically engaged at all times, in all situations

Anyways, here are the themes for this week's haiku:

1) Bates!
2) I'm homicidal, paranoid, and narcoleptic
3) Lines from the movies Animal House or Ghostbusters
4) Miss Teen South Carolina
5) The Immortal Marvin Gaye
6) What should change at Baylor Law School
7) viscuous liquid expelled onto me by IPLawBaby
8) Orientation
9) Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho)
10) My worst birthday ever

Here is mine:

The Iraq, Asians,
US Americans, they
All love the blondes!

Now you can write your own! Just make it fit the model of 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Best student answer to a question, ever

Would have to be "three?"

The question was "Is there anything about the facts of the case which would tell us there might be another target of the investigation?"

Oh, wait, no-- my all time favorite would have to be "Sentencing Guidelines." The questions was "What are the sentencing guidelines?" There were three rounds of this question-and-answer cycle.


Reading Comprehension Test, # 2!

Recently I received the following personal message via email. A short comprehension test follows the message. Each question is worth 4 points, and this exam will comprise 16% of your grade for the quarter:

Dearest in heart,

I really don't mean to bother you. But it is urgent and very important at this point that I contact you. Let me quickly introduce myself. I am princess Angela Willie. The former wife to late prince Duke Willie. I am 26 years old and I have a daughter who is 5 years old. My late husband was the prince of Buake,a town in Ivory Coast where I lived with him until his death in February 13th 2006. My late husband was a carefree, open-minded and considerate person which I believed contributed largely to his death. He never withheld these qualities from his subjects. The people he ruled. This is why it was easy for him to be poisoned. His death was suspected to have been carried out by one of his subjects. My husband called me in his palace one faithful Friday afternoon. He told me of the money (9.5 million us dollars) he deposited in a security company here in Abidjan. The capital city of Ivory Coast West Africa. He told me this exactly 3 months before his death. As if he knew he was going to die. He put the money in a box and deposited the box with a
bank, claiming they were royal costumes. Now after my husband's death. His kinsmen and his immediate family are after my life. They want to kill me and inherit my husband's wealth. Since I don't have a male child who can ascend to the throne.

No one knows about this deposit except the personal advicer to the prince.And I suspect he has something to do with his death. He is the one that told the kinsmen. That is why they are looking for me to get this documents. I succeeded in sneaking out of the palace at night. I abandoned every thing I labouerd for with my late husband in the palace but I took with me the documents of the money deposited with the security company I am hiding in a local guest house here in Abidjan. I need you to help me retreive this box and receive it in your country. I want to leave here and come over to your country to begin a new life away from this wicked people that killed my husband immediately you have received the money under your custody. I want you also to help me and invest this money in a good business over there. I will give you 15% of the money for your help.

Can I rely on you to help me?
I am urgently waiting for you.
Yours sincerely,


1) What is Angela's job?

a) She is a wealthy financial planner
b) She works in a Dean's Office
c) She is a princess
d) She works in a bank

2) Why was Prince Willie killed?

a) He was open-minded
b) He was carefree
c) He was considerate
d) He was messing with the cable tv
e) He liked to knock down the homes of his subjects with his royal bulldozer

3) What is the form of government in the Ivory Coast?

a) Democratic republic
b) Monarchy run by the Duke Willie family
c) Rotates between military dictatorship, anarchy, and despotism
d) Controlled by the elves

4) Where did Prince Willie get the $9,500,000?

a) He stole it
b) Just kind of from being the Prince. You know. Like that.
c) From being really open-minded and considerate
d) Commodities trading

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Constabulary Notes From All Over

With school starting, I have ignored a host of important news stories dealing with criminal law. At such times, you can always get top-flight analysis from Doug Berman over at Sentencing Law and Policy. In the meantime, I will make the following lame attempt to catch up:

1) Man Burns the Burning Man

This guy to the right (shown in his booking photo) has been charged with arson for burning, uh, the burning man. This raises some interesting points in the law, since the point of erecting the burning man is to burn him anyways. More importantly, though, is the question of whether it is wise to paint your face like the devil for your initial appearance...

2) Senator Larry Craig lookin' for men's room sex

It's hypocritical for environmentalist Democrats to fly around in private jets. It's also hypocritical for family values conservative Republicans to cruise for gay sex in airport men's rooms. It's downright hilarious when said law-and-order politician says he pled guilty by accident. I only hope that it emerges that in his booking photo he had painted his face like the devil.

3) AG Gonzalez resigns

It's good news, generally, that he is stepping down, because DOJ does not need the distraction. They really do have some important work to get done, folks. Meanwhile, I think there is a good argument to made, based on recent experience, for an AG who is somewhat independent from the President.

4) Ms. Teen South Carolina

As a U.S. American deeply concerned about The Iraq and The Asians, I can't thank Swanburg enough for first bringing this to my attention. We live in a culture (U.S. America) that horribly overvalues physical attractiveness and meaningless answers, but at least sometimes that makes it a really, really funny place to be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Things that make you go "Hmmmmm..."

1) A grey Nissan Sentra with "This is why I'm hot!" written in the back window.

Driving through the deathtrap that is the intersection of New Road and Franklin in Waco, I saw the above-described car being piloted by a subdued and overweight woman. Why the message? I have two theories: (1) The most attractive thing about her, sadly, is her ownership of a 1987 Nissan Sentra, or (2) Her Sentra is lacking air conditioning, so she is really hot in there and it is the car's fault.

2) Misconceptions regarding what cowboys do.

Recently I complimented a little boy (not related to me) on his very nice cowboy outfit. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a cowboy with a gun and sword, and kill you!" he responded. A little taken aback, I didn't really react to this announcement. However, this kid has some real misconceptions. First of all, the tyke seems not to understand the basic job responsibilities of a cowboy-- that is, to watch cows. I'm not sure how killing law professors is going to fit in with this task. Second, why would a cowboy carry a sword? A knife, sure, but even I carry a knife. Maybe it is a Sikh cowboy?


Wait-- am I supposed to be Goofus or Gallant?


Today is the day! Let's go!

It's finally the first day of PR, and I'm ready to rock. Still, it's always wise to do a final pre-flight review:

-- Full syllabus? Check
-- Lecture outline? Check
-- Giant bag full of cash? Check
-- Ceremonial sword? Check
-- Lasso? Check
-- Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct? Check
-- Samovar? Check
-- Teddy Ruxpin doll, loaded with tape of me giving the lecture? Check
-- ABA Model Rules? Check
-- Chocolate fountain? Check

Monday, August 27, 2007


How was the first day of practice court?

How did it go? I saw a few students, and no one looked like they had to change clothes or anything like that, which is a good sign. Here's a bad sign-- a few years ago, I came into the school just as paramedics were rushing into the PC room. Ouch. It turns out that it was just a case of someone fainting from a basic failure to eat breakfast.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


My favorite Baylor football play ever

Daniel Sepulveda was the best punter in Baylor history, and it was great to watch him play for four years. He started out playing linebacker, and in the play shown above you can tell. As you watch that video, keep in mind-- on that play, he kicks the ball, gets a late start (15 yards behind the rest of the team), and still gets to the ball carrier first and destroys him. Whew. I was at the game, and you could hear the sound of that tackle all the way up in row 52.

Sepulveda (who graduated last year) was an All-American, and now plays for the Steelers. He really only had one handicap, and that was the lack of a good nickname. In part, this may have been because he was from the affluent Dallas suburb of Highland Park, and names like "Deb Escort Destroyer" or "The Lacoste Avenger" would have lacked that edge football players want.

My choice for next great Baylor player: Sophomore linebacker Joe Pawelek. Prof. Serr, alone among prognosticators as usual, foresees a 10-2 season and a trip to the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl.



One of my favorite tasks at work is addressing the new students at orientation. My assigned topic is "Training the Competent Practitioner," which allows for a lot of latitude. For years, this section was covered by Bill Underwood, who gave an extremely inspiring talk, but I've had to come up with my own take on the theme.

It is that day, orientation day, that always marks in my mind the new year-- a day of celebration, really. And I think this is going to be a good year.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Mr. Bean had 1/5 of a great movie!

For lack of much else to see, I went to "Mr. Bean's Holiday" yesterday, and it was a very odd experience. The first 75 minutes of the movie were kinda boring and slow for the most part. It did do a good job of showing the elegance of the French, but I know better than to address that issue on this blog (people get upset). Then, out of nowhere, the last 15 minutes of the movie are hilarious. There is a film-within-the-film called "Playback Time," which is produced, written, directed, and starring a character played by Willem Defoe, and once that starts things get good.

Defoe provides a great parody of the type, but it is his movie that is over-the-top terrible. It seems to be a cop movie, but is mostly Defoe ruminating over his old girlfriend in pretentious faux-poetic tones.

In a way, it's too bad that there is the convention that movies have to be at least 90 minutes long, because this would have been a great 55-minute movie.

My other big activity for yesterday was working on my syllabus, which I then emailed by accident to those who took PR in fall, 2006. Thank you to all of those who emailed me back, panicked that you had retroactively failed and would have to return and take PC again. Oops.

Friday, August 24, 2007


It's another great day for Haiku!

Today was in the high 90's here in central Texas, so it doesn't exactly feel like the end of summer, but with school starting and the next cycle about to begin, we have to at least fake it. Here are some topics for this week:

1) Herbert T. Kornfeld
2) PC awaits
3) Megatron
4) Orientation
5) The 2008 Beijing Olympics
6) Boy George
7) Interviews
8) The French
9) iPhone
10) IPLawDrinx

Here's mine:

Chicago today
Running up stairs in a suit
That guy can move fast!

Now, you go. Make it kind of a 5 syllable/7 syllable/5 syllable thing, and it will be beautiful...

Thursday, August 23, 2007


True, dat.


Thank You, Mr. Publisher, Sir

Now that my book is done, I have sent it off to a publisher for consideration. It's kind of like having a jury out. Yikes.

Meanwhile, my article Aseret Had'varim in Tension: The Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights (downloadable here) was accepted for publication in the Journal of Church and State. That was an interesting experience; the Journal of Church and State is a peer-reviewed journal where several professor/reviewers look at each submission, and which insists that it have exclusive consideration of a piece. This is very different than the law school norm, where articles are submitted to several journals simultaneously, where they are reviewed by students rather than professors. I don't think one system is better than the other-- it was just interesting to see the other method at work.


A Brief History of Practice Court

For those about to start PC, all you care about is the guy who is teaching it now (and who has built up his own legend, of course). However, Prof. Powell has an impressive set of predecessors you may not be aware of. From most recent to the depths of known Baylor history:

Bill Underwood

Prof. Powell's predecessor, of course, was Bill Underwood, who is now President of Mercer University in Georgia. As PC professor, Underwood was well known for "the look." Which was followed, on occasion, by "the hook."

Lewis Muldrow

Prior to Underwood, Prof. Muldrow held court. He is well-remembered by his students, and many legends regarding his tenure still circulate. He has perhaps the most impressive of all portraits among those on display in the courtrooms.

Matt Dawson

Scores of Texas lawyers attribute their success to the ministrations of Prof. Dawson, who is still active in the legal community.

Frank Newton

Prof. Newton played a significant role in developing the practice court program he led for decades.

James P. Alexander

Judge Alexander was the first to develop the PC technique of assigning memos, according to Baylor historians.

Dick Cheney

Prof. Cheney was known for his goofy grin and his familiar catchphrase "Gimme that! Jeez."

Francois ("Papa Doc") Duvalier

The only black professor to have taught PC, Prof. Duvalier developed many of the modern aspects of the PC experience.

Prof. Hugo Strange

Little is know about the short period in which Prof. Strange taught. He is the last PC professor to have maintained a "laboratory" on the grounds of the school.

Tom Riddle

Sadistic and egomaniacal, the young Prof. Riddle left under mysterious circumstances.

Boris Badenov

Prof Badenov, though handicapped by a thick Russian accent, was a great innovator in developing the exercises now used. He also developed the use of henchmen as a pedagogical method.

Emperor Palpatine

Popular with students, Prof. Palpatine favored a "realistic" approach to legal studies, which featured experiential understandings of the negative outcomes from certain mistakes. It is from the Palpatine era that the tradition began that there shall be two PC professors, a master and a student.


Perhaps the most memorable response to students who failed to comprehend the reading came from Prof. Tron, who would scream "Aaaargggg!" before destroying the offending student and several sitting nearby. It is from this era that the PC term "shrapnel" came about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Civilization Expands Again!

Welcome to the world of blogging, Mr. Greg White! His blog, Always Appealing, is off to a great start. It appears he will focus on Texas legal developments and what is going on in the world of the Teletubbies, two realms that overlap surprisingly often. [The above photo appeared on his blog; it features Mr. Tinky Winky, not Mr. Greg White]

For those of you who don't know Greg, he's a great writer and lawyer. Here are some other facts about him:

1) He is a top Texas appellate lawyer, especially in the area of criminal law.

B) Greg frequently teaches at Baylor Law School.

3) He and his family lived on a horse farm which was destroyed by a tornado last year. Since then, he has lived off the land, with only a bowie knife, a single loincloth, and a Toshiba notebook computer with internet access and a solar-panel power source.

Again, welcome!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Baylor Law Students Workin' It

Our Supreme Court brief in Kimbrough was finished in plenty of time, thanks to the efforts of Michael O'Hear, Dustin Benham, Matt Acosta, and the Federal Defenders team led by Henry Bemporad. You can find it here-- it is the second on the list, and if you click on the link it will download.

Here's the impressive part: Pages 1 and 2 (the start of the summary of the argument) were written by Baylor student Matt Acosta. I asked him to take a stab at it, and his writing was so good I put it into the brief. Even after extensive editing by three top appellate attorneys (Henry Bemporad, David McColgin and Brett Sweitzer), Mr. Acosta's part remained almost unchanged.

As those who have worked on such things will understand, that's pretty impressive.


A short history of Baylor Mascots

With football season upon us, it seems a good time to revisit the history of sports mascots at Baylor. Currently, Baylor is represented by a green bear named Bruiser. Green, though one of Baylor's colors, is not natural for a bear, and his appearance is a little alarming. I once overheard him referred to as "Aramark Bear." Bruiser, however, has several predecessors, dating back over 100 years. Interestingly, through the early years a mascot was largely decided by who killed off the prior mascot:

1) Pretentious Man

From 1900 through 1901, the official mascot was “Pretentious Man,” a large-headed individual in a tuxedo, top hat and spats carrying a riding crop and Harvard diploma. He appeared to have an unpleasant sneer, and was roundly disliked. As their Senior gift to the college and community, the class of 1901 drowned him in the Brazos. As he was being put down, the mascot protested in his uniquely effeminate way: “My word! I do believe they intend to kill me! This is scandalous! Stop, unlettered scalliwags!”

2) The Unlettered Scalliwag

The Autumn of 1901 saw the installation of a new mascot, known as the “Unlettered Scalliwag.” Played by an illiterate A & M graduate, the Unlettered Scalliwag was, in contrast to Pretentious Man, extremely popular. Dressed in a Baylor sweater and oversized diaper, he roamed campus handing out beer to faculty, students and small children alike. Always pleasant, he offered up a popular chant at football games, as he attempted to lead the crowd in spelling out “Baylor.” At times, the attempt went into hundreds of letters, often including “X,” “J,” “Z” and other Scrabble favorites. Sadly, he also met his end quickly when, in Spring, 1902, he was struck and killed by the first automobile to visit Waco, an Oldsmobile driven by President Brooks as he arrived in town to take his new post.

3) The Baylor Oldsmobile

In the Fall of 1902, the symbol of the school became the “Baylor Oldsmobile,” which was simply the President’s car painted in the (then) school colors of Black, Gray and Mauve. This mascot disappeared during the infamous 1903 “Disaster Bowl” football game against the booze-soaked New Orleans School of College University [sic], and was replaced by “Mr. Ghost,” which was simply a random Baylor freshman dressed in a sheet with two holes cut out for his eyes. Mr. Ghost lasted for a relatively lengthy two years, before he perished in a dove-hunting accident. He is still remembered annually through Baylor's tradition of "White Out" at a basketball game, at which the spectators remember their mascot by wearing all white.

4) Prudence Abstinence, et seq.

Subsequently, in 1905, Baylor adopted “Prudence Abstinence,” a Bible-quoting church-lady mascot. Perhaps the least popular of any mascot, ever, anyplace, she carried a King James Bible and a handgun, and often shot at students she felt were violating the moral code of the Baptist faith. Her tenure ended in 1906 when she was convicted of multiple murders and executed on the lawn of a freshman dormitory to the great Huzzahs of the student body. Her Bible, from which she had removed Song of Solomon and parts of the Book of Matthew while inserting an extended and "amplified" version of Leviticus, is now on display in the Student Life Center. In turn, Ms. Abstinence was replaced by Darty, a large poisonous snake. Darty quickly matched the death toll achieved by Prudence Abstinence, and in turn was replaced with "Pluggy the Clown," an overweight middle aged man in a clown suit known for his catch-phrase, "Hey, kid, get in the van."

Pluggy proved to be a tort liability disaster for the school, and the Board of Intenders finally acted to normalize the situation, passing a motion naming the bear as the Baylor mascot and allocating funds to provide the campus with at least two live bear mascots, to be named in a manner most ingratiating to the President of the University at the time the bear was obtained.

Monday, August 20, 2007


First Day of PR...

The assignment for Day One of PR is available in the boxes on the third floor of the Law School. Fun!


More good advice for PCers ("Anyone... anyone... Smoot-.... Bueller... Bueller... Smoot-Hawley..."

In response to my previous post, "Tom" had some excellent tips in the comments section. So, good, in fact, that I have reprinted them here. I have added a few caveats at the end--

"1. I agree with what Ladybird said about getting there early. Despite what the schedule says, PC I starts at 7:45. You should probably be there no later than 7:30 (and even earlier on day 1).

2. I'll say what she was too tactful to say about the "shrapnel zone:" It doesn't matter how close you and your friends are, assess their work ethic and if you think they won't be prepared every day do NOT sit next to will pay the price.

3. Along those same lines, NEVER volunteer, EVER. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I can think of several times this last PC cycle where people volunteered and it blew up in their faces.

4. I know its a widespread practice, but don't just take a former PC student's old cases and rely on the highlighting/underlining from that old student. You'll never learn the material that way and you'll pay the price when you get called on. The only way to learn is to read the cases yourself.

5. Ladybird is absolutely right about getting enough sleep. Having read everything 3 times isn't going to help you when you can't stay awake in class. You have to do what ever it takes to stay awake in class, because if you don't the profs will make your life a living hell...I speak from experience.

6. You are never safe. There is no rhyme or reason to when the profs will call on you. This isn't like your first year classes where the profs just make the rounds. Just because you got called on yesterday doesn't mean you are safe for the rest of the week. Prepare every day like you have been by the profs that you will be called on the next day."

My caveat is attached to Tom's advice not to volunteer. I know that in PR, people who volunteer are much appreciated and not generally abused. PLUS, class participation is part of the PR grade, and the fastest way to pump that up is to volunteer-- it counts for much more than just answering a question when I call on you.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Incoming PC Students:

The Ladybird, a veteran of "the experience" has kindly offered up these PC survival tips. I would add to her list: (1) Buy lots of jello, and (2) Don't think PR is the reading you don't have to do.


Another Prejudice Gone

Yesterday was the annual "Meet the Bears" day at Floyd Casey Stadium. Basically, they open up the football facilities and people can come into the locker room and meet the players. It's really a nice occasion, and I usually go for at least a few minutes.

One of the surprises this year was that a few of the players, including quarterback Blake Szymanski, were holding tiny little lap dogs as they met the fans and press. The front page of this morning's Waco Trib sports section, in fact, has a big photo of Szymanski with a teeny Pomeranian named Elle, who is wearing a tiny white bow on top of her head.

I'm sure the players will catch some flack for this, but I was really glad to see it.

I love watching football, especially college football, but my memories of football players isn't so great. In high school, they were not pleasant guys. I was a cross-country runner, and even though we were tops in the state (or perhaps because of it), the football players gave us hell. Their favorite epithet, of course, was to call us "fags." They would latch onto any slight aberration from the norm (say, a red sweater), and articulate loudly in the hallways or locker room how "gay" that was. Few if any of them got college scholarships (though some of the cross country team did). They would have jumped at the chance to be in the Baylor locker room in uniform.

I can just imagine what those high school bozos would have done, though, if one of us had hung around the locker room around holding a fluffy little pomeranian named Elle with a white bow on her head.

Maybe it was not a good idea for Szymanski to get photographed with that dog, but it did make me think that maybe football players here are just a little bit more open-minded than I might have thought. If your girlfriend wants you to hold her dog, Blake, you'll get no complaint from me. Sic 'em bears!

: Bare Meat now has a photo of the QB, the cheerleader, and Elle the tiny dog, with the dog wearing what appears to be her own tiny BU cheerleading outfit.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


It's time for some appreciations...

As I readjust to Waco and get my game face ready for class (I'm going for kind of a Bill Romanowski persona this year), it's a good time to list some appreciations:

1) A Great Job

There are a lot of things to love about teaching, but one of them is that when you get a vacation it is actually a vacation. Nobody is trying to desperately reach you, you don't feel guilty for missing things at work-- provided you aren't behind on things, you can let you mind go with you to the woods. In my old job (Assistant U.S. Attorney) that was never true. Now I have the pleasure of coming back to town, pressing the message button on the phone, and hearing "You have no new messages..."

2) Baylor Law Students

When I am far from Texas, people often ask me about my job or Baylor. My answer is always the same-- that we have the hardest-working, best-prepared students anywhere. When I am talking to other teachers, they nod appreciatively, knowing how important that is. It isn't that it makes things easier; it's that it makes it better for the teacher because we can start a discussion with common knowledge. So, thanks, hard-working Baylor people.

3) Fellow Baylor Bloggers

I'm kind of addicted to the Bar Mate Baylor sports blog. Those guys know what they are doing. Plus, Poseur has proven to have staying power and strong writing; Swanburg will be fun to follow as he debauches the B-School, and C. Pankratz always gives me something to think about. I check these three every day. I think we might need some new blood though-- if you have though about starting a Baylor blog, this is the time. Let me know if you do, and I will toss you a link.

4) Friends Abroad (ie, outside Waco)

IPLawGuy and the CL's sent me some photos of their good times in DC, and it reminded me how lucky I am to have friends like these. Not that I got to go...

5) Faith Heroes

I'm not someone who worships or follows any other person, but I'm always learning from those around me, especially those who provide inspiration and challenge. Sometimes this is a colleague, sometimes a student, sometimes a friend or fellow worshiper. I'm always learning and hopefully growing my faith, and much of this comes from interaction with those around me who also take this journey seriously.

Friday, August 17, 2007


A New Year, a New Haiku Friday!

I missed haiku Friday. I'll be honest-- I made up a few even when I was unable to access the internet. Here are this week's suggested (but not mandatory) themes:

1) Elaine from Seinfeld
2) Buying textbooks
3) The weird emotional last-day walkout
4) The outhouse
5) The end of summer
6) Baylor Football
7) Barry Bonds
8) Rerun from "What's Happening"
9) Jimmy Walker in 2007
10) Mr. CL, Househusband

Here is mine:

Get Out! she yelled
Pushing Kramer with both hands;

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Hey! Finally someone is explaining how politics works...

I don't usually count on tv news to explain things to me, but I found this very helpful:

In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote


The vexing question of first-day assignments

Over the past few weeks I spent quite a bit of time in the "thinking room" of my secret island hideout pondering the first day of class. I have always thought that the first and last day of classes should be special, and need to frame the rest of the class by setting the context for the substantive content provided in the rest of the days. It's not an abstract thought, either-- I'm restructuring my PR curriculum. It's going to affect the whole course, so the first day will be all-new.

Every prof has their own style, of course. Some barely show up the first day, while others keep the class late. Still others seek to use the first day to define the students' feelings about the class (ie, fear). From what I have seen, there are three basic ways to approach the first day of class in college or graduate school (the second of which is the one I have usually chosen):

1) The Traditional Method

Hand out the syllabus. Intone some elementary rules for class. Perhaps introduce self and others. End early. Admittedly, this bare-bones approach has some advantages-- especially at schools where people are class-shopping early in the quarter.

2) The Special Method

Introduce themes of the class in a dynamic way. Illustrate with stories. Use some reading to make the point. Call on students to help them define the broad messages of the class. End on time.

3) The Regular-Day Method

Treat the first day the same as every other day-- use readings and call on students to cover the first full day of doctrinal material. End on time or a little late.

So, which is best? What should I do?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Summer Reading Recap

Here are the four books, in order read, that I enjoyed on my ten-day wilderness relax-o-fest. See if you can spot the trend that emerged over time!

1) Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Sample review: "Barbara Ehrenreich's latest work of social commentary, "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream," is an indictment of the "magisterial indifference of the corporate world." Posing as an unemployed white-collar worker, Ehrenreich adopts an alias and markets herself as a public relations person and event planner."

2) Sharing Good Times by Jimmy Carter.
Sample review: "President Jimmy Carter recounts a lifetime of mixing business and pleasure in this series of personal recollections. Carter is relaxed and clearly enjoys reading his work as he describes trips taken with the entire Carter family, fishing excursions, mountain-climbing adventures, and more. His self-deprecating humor, as well as his wisdom and balanced look at life, meshes well with his classic Southern drawl."

3) Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman
Sample review: "Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilarious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakota (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil."

4) Chloe Does Yale by Natalie Krinski
Sample Review: "Chloe Carrington is a typical Yale student, except that along with toiling through the usual grind of coursework, she pens a notorious and much-dished-over sex column for the campus newspaper. This touch of fame has wrought havoc on her social and love life, turning it literally into an open book. Chloe doesn't help matters much; she likes to share and can't resist divulging the gory details of her most recent date (or lack thereof) in her column, baring her soul for all to see."

I'm pretty sure I will end up in Hell for that last one (which despite the title is an actual novel and not soft-core porn, but is still just stupid).

Meanwhile, Poseur's reading list is much more impressive.


Back To School!

It's hard to leave the woods of Osler/Sleepy Walleye Island,and now I am on the long trek back. This morning, I'm in Lawrence, Kansas, which is the home of the University of Kansas. It's a pretty good town, though I keep expecting to see former Baylor Law standout Josh Zive toddling down the street in full Jayhawk gear. I now have been to every Big Twelve town except Lincoln, Nebraska, Stillwater, Oklahoma, Columbia, Missouri, and Manhattan, Kansas (hmmm... maybe that's too many to say "all except..."). Here's how I would rate them in terms of my own first impression, based on fun factor, beauty and scent:

1) Austin. If I had known about Austin in high school, I might have gone to UT.
2) Boulder. A beautiful, fun, goofy place. Plus, Mork and Mindy lived there.
3) Lawrence. A great downtown and old homes.
4) Bryan/College Station. I am kind of fond of A & M, which defines the town.
5) Norman. The name still cracks me up...
6) Lubbock. Has a fun part of town, but not pretty.
7) Waco. Not a great first impression, but it does become lovable.
8) Ames It smelled terrible!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I'm back! And I'm the dumbest guy in Grand Marais.

After ten full and relaxing days on Osler/Sleepy Walleye Island, I'm back in civilization and ready to blog. It was a great break.

Still, I did have one of the top bonehead moments in Minnesota history last week. Because Osler/Sleepy Walleye Island is, uh, kind of remote (off the grid-- no electricity, phone, or running water), you need to go into the nearest town once in a while for provisions. That town (a boat ride and 64 mile drive away) is Grand Marais, one of America's most beautiful little towns.

Beautiful, but a little weird. You would think that would let me fit in, but you would be wrong. Grand Marais has its own oddities, and they are different than mine. Plus, after all these years I still haven't figured out the rules there.

My trip into town began with a trip to Johnson's IGA for groceries. Unfortunately, because I love groceries, this took longer than expected and I felt rushed by the time I got to the check-out. Johnson's IGA has special, unspoken rules of behavior-- you use a regular cart in the store, then at the check out they put your bags on a different kind of cart and a sullen teen wheels them out to the car. My mistake was thinking that this second step was optional. I started to throw my bags into the cart I used in the store. One of the sullen teens came up, alarmed, but (because he is Minnesotan) he just said "you know 'dere, uh, hmmm... " and looked down. Not getting the message I brushed him off and said "I've got it" and kept loading the in-store-only cart. Soon I was surrounded by IGA reinforcements, all muttering about "you know... about 'dat cart" and pointing at the cart. Finally, they basically blocked my path-- it was sort of a scene. The woman behind me in line said "Ya, some people are stubborn." Oops.

Next stop-- the laundromat. After the confrontation with the grocery-cart posse, I was really pressed for time. But... laundromats have changed since last time I used one (1989). Not only the dryers but the washers are front-loaders. Confused, I threw my dirty clothes into a dryer and prepared to dump in some detergent. Again, I was surrounded by concerned and strangely polite Minnesotans (including the same woman who was behind me in line at the grocery store). One lady said "So, you just trying to save some time, dere?" in a tone of voice usually used on a tot lot. Oops.

Now really behind, I got done with the laundry and realized that I needed to get ice for the cooler full of provisions. I went back to another store (they probably won't serve me ever again at Johnson's) and got some ice. My task was to break up the ice to dump in the cooler, as I stood behind the car. Now, most people would just drop the bag on the ground to accomplish this, but there was a break in the bag and I didn't want the ice to get dirty. So, instead, I decided to break up the block of ice with a serious of head-butts, strategically directed at the problem areas.

It was just then, as I was banging the bag of ice against my head, that the woman from the grocery store and the laundromat rode by in a bike. She stopped for a minute, looked at me for a moment with almost as much disdain as the furious not-fat Dallas socialite, and rode off. I'll bet that's a story she will tell all through the long, cold winter...

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