Thursday, May 30, 2013

Well that was... unpleasant...

Ramblings Post #226
You roll the dice. You take the leap. You pull the trigger. You open your mouth and start talking. You take the first step. You realize that nothing is certain and you go anyway. Then, and only then....

whatever happens, happens. And for the record, most of the time its not like it happens in the movies.

I took the Georgia bar. I did not pass the Georgia bar.

That about says it all. I have no real explanation. Yet. But the madness that was is now about to repeat itself. Reading and re-reading black letter law, practicing MBE questions until my mind hits that subject determination action automatically, again. This time more essay practice and...because I swear I didn't do it but I'm not sure... swearing by and adhering to my answer formation rules.

Since the news has gone out I have received a continued vote of confidence from the folks, who
remind me I've gone to far down the path to turn back now. A good talking to from my brother, some of it good and some of it bad. And a few well placed "don't worry about it" acts from a small circle of friends. Very small circle of friends.

Why? This is embarrassing. And thanks to those who care for consoling me, but for the record, I don't really give a damn who I know that took it two or elevensixteen times to pass, I am me and they are them. This is well within the margin of my current ability. For me not have accomplished this gives rise to self doubt, a luxury I can ill afford at this juncture in my life. There are enough material issues in my life that cause me to rethink myself, and now to have a more substantive issue arise? I had trouble sleeping waiting for the results, and I'm having more trouble sleeping now. 

Not passing puts a the next part of my life on hold. Would just passing answer all my problems? No, of course not. But it would open up some opportunities in the legal field - some even income related - that are only opened to individuals who have passed. After all, student loans will be due soon. I'd like to drive a car that isn't held together by dust. New furniture maybe? If my house gets robbed again, I"m not sure I can afford repairs and stuff replacement. Income doesn't solve all problems, but for these minor matters, it does have a tendency to help somewhat.

Failure isn't what it used to be. When I was younger, twenties and early thirties, failing was shrugged off easily, put aside as an aberration. Even when the terms of my failure were epic, there was still a social distraction around the corner. Age colors things. There is now a palpable weight, a rising urgency to succeed. This is the first thing law related that I did not overcome. It hangs over me. For the time being however, I will compartmentalize. Focus.

As far as how to handle this in the sense of retaking it? I know what I have to do, and what its going to take to get it done. A larger degree of determination, a great deal more diligence and more attention paid to the nuances. And since I was prepared to start studying the same night I learned this information, I think I've got that down. Well, maybe I do, and maybe I don't. Just to be clear, it was the classic just a "few points miss", not a "re-examine your life"or a"why did you even go to law school" fail, okay? But that means I can't slack off because of overconfidence. Better, not just again.

Barkeep. Time for your summer vacation. I have things to do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Scandals that Weren't

This is a political post.

When you don't like somebody, everything they do is wrong. If you don't like somebody,  you can rationalize the validity of the statement "Look at them, sitting there eating cookies like they're better than me." And although they've been subtle about it, we are beginning to get the impression that maybe some conservatives don't think of the President as their pal, ha ha.  Okay, all jokes aside, we all know that if Obama personally cured cancer they still would not like him. Which I believe makes every assertion made towards him more than a little suspect.

Now the sad part is there is plenty to get mad at Obama about: the continuing existence of Guantanamo which serves mostly as a radical recruiting tool, the comically dubious nature of the drone strike program, and the ridiculous backlog of claims at the VA. Any one of those is fodder for a semi-serious critical analysis of the President's well as many other things. But instead we got the week of fake scandal. Not anything about jobs, or growth, or deficit reduction, or the continuing abuse of financial privilege. No, we got this.... 


Once you become convinced of a conspiracy, until you find said conspiracy, you will never be satisfied. No matter what facts emerge, unless you can link them up to make your theory valid, you will believe that there is more to find. Even when nothing more exists. Which brings us to Benghazi.

The conspiracy cadre wants so dearly to learn that awoken in the dead of the night and told the
diplomatic mission was under attack, the President said "f**k'em" and went back to sleep. Or even that somehow the President was in Benghazi that night leading the attack, Hillary Clinton with a fake
mustache by his side, in an effort along with the ACLU, the Unions and gays to bring down the country. Unless Obama and Hillary confess to something like this, then these fools think they must still be hiding something! Because this is bigger than Watergate...which just goes to show you how few people remember the particulars of Watergate, why it was so bad and why this isn't even close to that accident of history. And at this point I'm not sure what they're still trying to prove Obama did wrong. I don't think they even know. 


So let me get this straight. The problem is that the taxing agency of the US used inappropriate criteria to select applicants for review which resulted in delays and asked for too much information from said applicants. Yes, really, that's the whole scandal. It sounds simple, but what it caused is for conservative groups to be treated unfairly. Maybe. But let's look deeper, let's look for context.

In 2010, with the Citizen United decision having been handed down which loosened the rules of money in politics, there was a sudden upsurge in requests for 501(c) tax exempt status. The problem was a lot of the applications were more than a little suspect, as the organizations requesting to be classified as "social welfare" groups clearly were not anything of the sort. Social welfare organizations can't favor specific legislation or a candidate, and cannot be focused on political campaigning. A large number of the applying organizations clearly were political, and thus ineligible for this classification. So the IRS spotted possible widespread tax fraud, something that seems to have been forgotten when discussing the scandal. The problem is they took the wrong steps in their initial investigation.

Only this doesn't even appear to be a coordinated effort by the sitting administration, but more a group of bureaucrats looking for a workload shortcurt. Or rather, one person. Which is terrible. Unless of course you actually work for living, then you kinda understand how overworked people look for shortcuts. And if you look into it a little more, you realize that this not only happens all the time, this instance doesn't even reach the level of normal shenanigans. History shows FDR, Nixon and most recently in 2004, then President Bush targeting Greenpeace, the NAACP and churches who spoke out against Iraq using the IRS as a weapon.

So there must have been a cover up of this horrendous and illegal practice? Um, but Congress looked into this last year, and the Acting Head of the IRS testified on this very subject before a Ways and Means subcommittee. Answered every question they had too. And although inappropriate, the act is hardly illegal.

So the real scandal is organizations who submitted forms for tax exemption, during a massive surge in applications, that that appeared fraudulent got got delayed and received extra scrutiny? Oh, the horrible shame of the IRS tying to do it's job. 

Associated Press

It's funny how the people who implored the administration the loudest to investigate the national security leaks, well, not implored, more like screamed at the President to do something, are the ones now outraged at the actual investigation. Even worse, the things they're mad about aren't even the right things. Again, going with context.

The Justice Department tries to do all sorts of things of dubious legality in an effort to be legal. They write up an opinion, stick in the file and like magic "they can do that." That's why we think "waterboarding" somehow is exempt from the term cruel and unusual.  The Justice Department did not just seize two months of Associated Press phone records. Repeated use of the word seize has colored this whole episode with such a bad connotation. It gives the impression of men in dark suits showing up and just taking things. Would you be as mad or interested if they used another word like, er, "asked for", "requested", or "subpoenaed"?

Because the Justice Department did get a subpoena. You know, like on Law and Order. Which means that this time they didn't use "opinion magic", they like...went through legal steps and junk.  Eric Holder had even recused himself - meaning he had no part at all - in the investigation to avoid any irregularities. And since they had to then serve the Associated Press with the subpoena, and wait for them to comply...AND the Associated Press cited it understood the existence of security concerns and waited to run the story....why is there outrage? The AP handed over the info...then waits a while?

That the leak that is being pursued was of classified information seems to have been overlooked. That a person without the proper clearances receiving said information is against the law has been pushed aside in the rush to damn Obama and his administration. Inflammatory language to gives rise to the imagery of jack booted thugs isn't helping. But then the AP, and the Conservatives, are trying to make its case in the court of public opinion.

The practical upshot of this week, ...mess? On the plus side, we've spent a week unconcerned about the unwholesome antics of what ever talentless starlet would have normally been our focus. But on the downside, our attention was on the ludicrous political circus of pettiness, greed and jealousy that needs to end before we head down the rabbit hole.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma, May 2013...

What the...
via redditor - SteakandApples

I just don't even have words for going from mundane America to inhabiting an apocalypse straight out of the current genre of end of the world video games. 

I just don't even have words for the absolute randomness of nature.

I just can't even say...


Friday, May 17, 2013

A Quick Restaurant Review - Tabard Inn

The DC stories #4
I went, I ate, I drank, caught some hot jazz and then on Saturday I had brunch! For the new folks, brunch and I have an affair going for ages. I just can't leave it! There is something about a late breakfast on Saturday, maybe on a warm patio, with light conversation. It all seems so movie magical. And damnit, I wanna be in the movies!

Since I was going to be in DC, the idea was to pop in, see a few sights, shake hands with a few folks I hadn't seen in a minute and run through a wedding before jumping back on a flight to the ATL. Yeah, sounds it exciting doesn't it? And since Sporty was out of town, I let Shade know I'd be in the area. Shade just a few weeks before had announced her engagement, so when we talked about brunching on Saturday, I thought I was going to meet the new fiance and get to give him the once over. But Shade picked me up from hotel alone. Which was cool, she has a two-seater and I wasn't going to set on his lap.

The Tabard Inn looks like a converted old row house, which it may very well be, and serves as a boutique hotel on N Street,  just off Dupont Circle. The restaurant, also called the Tabard Inn, is in the back, and it's supposed to be super good. And for the record, we did NOT have reservations, which are highly suggested. Shade figured she could just get us in. I think I know too many VIP divas. 

The waiting area for the restaurant (not hotel check-in) has more of a living room feel than any waiting room I've ever sat in. It's all antique photos and paintings, frumpy but comfortable old couches fronted by coffee tables wrapped around a dormant fireplace. The space's only drawback is that its in the middle of the building so there is no natural light. It was the kinda spot you could get a good book, close the doors and read all day. The restaurant itself, on the back of the building, was the DC standard, cramped and old...the two signature motifs of the city that seem to permeate every establishment. Checkerboard floors, wooden tables, and patio that unfortunately was dominated by shade. Did I mention it was small... no wait, intimate. But they serve brunch. All the rest fades.  

We started with the doughnuts, which have a cinnamon sugar on them. They weren't Krispy Kreme, but they came with a vanilla whipped cream that set them off just right. For the entrees I got the Scrambled eggs with house-made Toulouse sausage and home fries, and she got a Crab cake with fried green tomatoes. For some reason this simple order took a while, and for some other reason the eggs were a little less firm when it did show up. But it was still pretty good. I tasted a bit of her crabcake  For dessert we shared an apple tart with ice cream on the side.  The design was unusually good, with the right mix of creamy, a crunchy toffee covering and the apple's core sweetness.

During our long interlude, she brought me up to speed on the goings on with her, the medical career, her DC house buying adventure, the prospect of an instant family with her fiance's child, the getting of a child friendly car, the impending nuptials and the difference of her longstanding insistence to be married in South Africa for her family's sake versus the now harsh reality of the logistics nightmare of such an undertaking. There was one other big secret, but that's a another story. I'll fill you all in later.

After we ate we went for a quick world wide tour. Just around the corner from the Tabard Inn are a series of embassies, and we walked into what I think was called the "Passport to DC", where the various embassies opened their doors, set our a spread and said come on by. The streets were packed and we listened to the bands from Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and were tempted by the delicious aromas and goodie bags. We'd planned to make a circle and end up in Australia, when just as we got to Chile, whose band was on break, Doctor Shade's on call beeper went off.  And that was that...

So was the Tabard Inn good? Yes, in a word. Would I go back? It's someplace I can take Sporty when I go back and say confidently that I have been there. Now, because everyone isn't me, and I realize that as of late I've been able to get by with them, I'm gonna suggest that you make reservations.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Quick Restaurant Review - The Bohemian Caverns

The DC Stories #3
I went, I ate, I drank, and listened to some smooth jazz. I used to rock the scene and had seen so many jazz performances I liked to think I was a fan. Then I watched the little guy next me vibrate like he was going to explode as the music played. Very little gets me that excited. Very little.

I like jazz. I enjoy Coltrane, Monk, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, listen to Gato Barbieri and Norman Brown, and have gone to more than few jazz shows around Atlanta. So I was happy to tag along with Sal and my brother to the Bohemian Caverns for a night of jazz. Okay, I didn't know it was a jazz trio before we got to the door, I just knew that Sporty was out of town and the term "free ticket." So sue me.

The spot is up on U street, near Howard University. It's supposed to be a legendary jazz spot. Parking is tight, and so we parked up the street and took a pretty decent stroll. On the way Sal spotted the African American Civil War Memorial which is supposed to have an ancestor of hers on it. It's supposed to have been referenced in Glory, but I can't confirm that. I would have loved to have walked around it, but the arrangement was closed off. That and it was getting dark, and those names were small.

The Bohemian Caverns itself is probably three spots in one, there is the interior with, I guess, a bar, the outside patio, and the downstairs performance space. This review is only of the performance space. The local people we were with who wanted to walk down the street to another bar afterward the show. But then I got to see more Dee Cee. 

Now, I'm guessing its called the Caverns because lo and behold, the interior of the performance space is done so that it appears we are in a cavern. Well, maybe it's vice versa, and that they renovated it that way to go with the name. In either case, with its cave like motif the room is the most intimate of musical spaces, with small dining tables wrapped around a small stage such that the farthest table is no more than twenty feet back. Not only can the artist hear you, they can see you. A few tables they could probably reach out and touch you.

Now realize that we went here an hour or so after going to Georgia Brown's so much was not eaten here. I will say this, the bartender at the Cavern was better than our previous stop. Why? Rounded ice cubes. Seriously, the crushed ice had bruised my beverage earlier and I wasn't sure if the whole city was slacking, but the smooth ice of the caverns saved this poor town. I did have a slice of the chocolate cake however. A little dry, not the best I've had but okay.

The entertainment was The Young Lions, a jazz trio that is apparently very popular in the area. A mix of drums, piano and bass, the music is a blend of experimental, jazz, and hip beats. They are good. Very good. From our vantage (we sat to one side of the stage) we could see the shadows of the fingerwork of the  bassist Kris Funn, and it looked like he was weaving magic spells. With piano breaks, drum solos, James Brown tributes and just jamming, they had the crowd thoroughly entertained. The drummer Quincy even had us all roaring like lions before the night was over.

After the set I met the true jazz fan I alluded to in the intro, eager to share his joy with someone. And I have that kinda face. He had come in late, and took delight in the sounds bright eyed, grinning manically. He gave off the vibe of one of those guys who lives in a one bedroom apartment with no TV, whose living room is shelf after shelf of vinyl jazz records. He raved about how the Caverns was the spot for true jazz enthusiasts and not some other more commercial spot. I smiled and, just a touch frightened, agreed. 

Now they have two sets on Friday, an early and a late set and we'd attended the early one. My new music friend was staying for the second as well, so we left him behind. We walked down a few lively blocks to a spot called Next Door, right next to Ben's Chili Bowl, to finish out the evening.

Would I recommend the Caverns to the weary traveler in need of musical sustenance? Let's just say that I might have found a spot I would even send somebody let me see whose playing. That means yeah, go. Go now.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Quick Restaurant Review - Georgia Brown's

The DC Stories #2
I went, I ate, I drank, and somebody even got married. Well, that part was kinda planned, but eating this good wasn't. I mean the point of your average fast food chain is no matter where you are, you know what you're getting. But then with that attitude, you miss so much.

The city of Washington has all the makings of a mecca of culinary artistry, as it hosts so many different nationalities with various embassies and missions that dot the city. That said, after waking and eating early, driving to Hartsfield-Jackson, parking in economy parking and walking the mile or so to the terminal on my bad ankle, realizing that everything inside the airport was insanely overpriced, flying, and waiting for my brother to procure the rental introduction to the local cuisine could have been a Burger King for all I cared. I was hungry.

Luckily my sad introduction to vast array of options was foiled by my brother's, long time companion? I think of her as my unofficial sister-in-law, but here... I've referred to her as previously by my brother's old nickname for her, Sal.  Well, she had been directed to try a particular haunt upon arrival because it was a can't miss. And since I was traveling solo, and they were nice enough to invite me along. Not that the deli on the corner looked bad. After a quick consultation of Google maps and adventurous driving we were on our way to Georgia Brown's, a upscale joint on 15th St. just North of the White House.

Note: The official name is Georgia Brown's Low Country Cuisine. So, technically this is the food of South Carolina. I did not know this when I arrived. I went to DC to eat food my mom makes. Oh, you fate.

The interior of GB's reminded me oddly, of the old Justin's in Atlanta, but with a lower ceiling. Similar layout - Bar up front to the right, dining room to the left, and at roughly 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon the bar packed with customers dressed casually. I half expected to look over and see some people I knew then feel obligated to go over to apologize for not joining them. It's what I guess you would call "city big", as it was still a small space but very nicely appointed. All various tones of muted browns, with a large poster of Obama and MLK right by the hostess podium.

The dining room by contrast was, er...quiet? No, empty, yes, that would be the more correct term. Empty. It was very well appointed, with a huge metal sculpture intended to remind you of being under and oak tree suspended from the ceiling and lots of light, with the tables the "just a little too close together" feel that all good restaurants have. You, know, that pushed in one table too many because of the crowds feel. Now, to be fair, the room was starting to fill in when we finished, so maybe the dinner hour is different in this region of the country. Or we just got there early. 

As an appetizer, we split the bread plate. Now, let me say this, I could have gone there, gotten two or three plates of the bread and gone home. They're apparently famous for their cornbread, which comes in skinny loaves with warm butter. And they earned that reputation because fresh from the oven the cornbread is a hot devisement of perfection, with just a hint of sweetness from the butter. 

Now, If I remember correctly, Sal got the Amish Chicken with Mac and Cheese (wait, there are Amish in SC?), my brother got the huge Cowboy steak they had as a daily special and I settled on the Southern Fried Chicken, which came with collard greens and mashed potatoes. The food was good, the chicken cooked in what I assume were quarters and fried crisply without drying it out. Now, this isn't health food, as the gravy, mashed potatoes and greens were delicious...and health food ain't delicious. My brother loved his steak, which was supposed to be eighteen ounces and it looked cooked perfectly.  The service was attentive but not overly so, and when they offered for coffee afterwards it didn't feel overbearing.

I may not have mentioned it, but Sal was instrumental in getting me my current "gig", interning at the Fulton County Courthouse. We talked about the my experience so far, and caught up, as although my brother and I talk often we don't see each other regularly. Well, we didn't talk that much, the food was good and they were hungry too. It was a good finish to a long day. Well, not really, we went out later that evening, in and out of DC and all that, but had we called it a night there I wouldn't have been mad at all. Next time I'm in DC, I think I know where me and Sporty are going!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Washington Dee Cee, Baby....

The DC stories #1
Last week, I went to our nations capitol, Washington DC. I ate, I drank, I saw the arts, I went to a wedding, I drank some more, I caroused, I caught the 8am train to Baltimore on Sunday morning. Remember - be careful what you wish for kids, because sometimes you get it.

My plan was to go to DC for my cousin's wedding. And to see Sporty. Well, mostly to see Sporty, the wedding was just an excuse. But apparently asking someone to a wedding a month in advance is a little late. Well, that and Sporty already had tickets to go to Vegas for the Mayweather fight. And even my cousin said the plan was to catch the fight either at or after the her absence was understandable. So my new plan was to run through DC with family, and not get to see Sporty. I even know a bunch of DC people, but people my age work for a living...and my schedule in and out was tight. So, limited if any visiting.

Please note that despite my best intentions, I don't travel often. And when I do...well, there's not really much to say. I mean it's been so long since one of my trips has been to somewhere other than my parents house I shudder to think about it. Technically, I think I've been counting riding out to see my brother as traveling in some sense, but since we both live in Atlanta, that's just weird. Oh, Atlanta's a big spread out city, and its an at least forty five minutes there, so it almost counts as a day trip...but it's still Atlanta.

I caught a deal at, so I managed to get a room maybe three blocks from the Capitol for less than I thought possible. Bonus, it was around the corner from the hotel the family was staying I could ease out if I so desired. Nice hotel, nice room...though it did look a bit dated. But then I was probably expecting something unrealistic, although a suite with a private butler shouldn't sound crazy. 

Now, DC proper? The vibe I got is that Washington is a what I guess people think of when they think of moving to the big city. Nearly everything is in walking distance, or designed to be walked to, or there is a cab every fifteen seconds. There is the international flair and it has all four seasons. It even looks cleaner than NYC, and appears generally safer. There were street rallies, cute little shops, restaurants with couches on the sidewalk and it all looked so television urban. By comparison Atlanta feels like its just a series of suburbs with the occasional skyscraper thrown in for flavor.

I can see why Sporty likes it.

Now I have no pictures. I had both my actual cameras charging, and left them both on the kitchen counter. And the camera in my phone has slid down into the casing, so all those pics come out pitch black. So I went to bring a camera city - museums, architecture, arts - and left mine picture clickers at home. I may need a new phone.

But there's more. I made three noteworthy stops on the trip...two Friday, and one Saturday. I did run into Shade for brunch, which I'll chronicle shortly. There were some good moments, some bad moments. All in all it was a typical weekend in the neighborhood. Just that neighborhood was a plane ride away.

Barkeep, water. Keep it coming. Back to the grind.