Fitness in the Age of Snow.


All the body needs.

My fitness program always takes a hit post-Thanksgiving, and it has nothing to do with holiday food. No, my program takes a hit because I simply cannot sustain my running program when it gets cold outside.

Usually, the end of running heralds the beginning of the holiday chub. This year, though, I’d like to break that cycle. My usual way of handling my lack of motivation has been to push my running regardless of my aversion to running in the cold. The only times I have “succeeded” have been 2010-2011 (I was in Iraq) and 2011-2012 (Cuba) so clearly, I need a new plan.

So… yeah. New plan Good plan. Plan of ages.


What that plan is going to be, though… therein lies the issue. I have three possible paths to consider, but your input, reader, would be most appreciated.

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Examination Crossness – You’ve Got This.

Yes, yes… I know. You’re freaking out because it is exam time, and literally 100% of your grade in most courses rides on your performance on the exam. I’m here to tell you though, that you’ll survive. Whether you’re a 3L who has been through this many times before or a baby 1L who is diving into law exams for the first time, you’ve almost certainly got this.

  • There are literally thousands of students who successfully navigate law school exams every year. While the task may seem insurmountable, you’ll be fine… your exams will be over very soon, and you’ll be sipping your Starbucks Peppermint Mocha laced with the hard alcohol of your choice in no time.
  • Those study fails / less than productive study days are okay too. I would be willing to bet money than most, if not all, of the world’s law school students spend a not insignificant portion of their study time procrastinating on Netflix / Prime / etc. It won’t tank you, I promise.
  • Unless you have one of those horrible “should not be in education” professors, your professors sincerely want you to do well. After all, your success and future fame reflects well on them… they taught you everything you know, right? How does it look on that resume if half of their students end up failing out?
  • That you’re freaking out means that you are likely fine. True story… I knew a guy who refused to prep for exams, banking on his innate skill and his daddy’s law degree. He scoffed at the idea of studying, instead preferring World of Warcraft & Hot Pocket gluttony. HE ended up taking the walk of shame home. YOU, however, give a damn, so you’ll be able to muddle through.
  • Ultimately, they’re just tests. If you’re confused, you’re probably not the only one. Let’s be real… most law students are prone to fiction when it comes to exam prep. They act confident in front of their peers, but they all go home to cry over discount pizza and box wine every study night. You’re almost certainly as prepared as they are. And hey, it’s grade on a curve right? Hooray for group confusion!
  • And, finally, law school is graded on a curve. Dropouts look bad for the law school’s stats, so they’re not likely to outright fail you even if you are woefully unprepared. So, you’ve got this… and even if you don’t, you’ll almost certainly scrape by. 😉

Almosts & Never Weres.

South_Pole_Station_(11235888223)I’ve traveled a fair bit, and I’m happy with where I’ve been and what I’ve done thus far. But, there are two “almosts” that still sting when I think about them. 😉

Destination #1: South Pole Station, Antarctica.

No, seriously. Back in 2011, I interviewed for a position at the South Pole… not McMurdo, understand, but the literal “I am at the very bottom of the world” South Pole. My experience in Iraq managed to land me the position, and I was all set to go to the land of three showers a week and altitude sickness, when… to my dismay… the gentleman from the previous year decided to return to the pole. I was bumped to “backup guy,” thus ending my chance to travel to the South Pole for fun and profit.

Now, I have not given up on Antarctica… but I’m not sure that the stars are likely to align for the actual South Pole again. Ah well.

Destination #2: Marshall Islands, South Pacific.

While I was camping out at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, our contract renewal started getting a little sketchy. Because I was an experienced contractor who knew not to trust the contracting agencies, I started looking for work. One of the more interesting opportunities was a position as a system administrator in the Marshall Islands. The interviewers and I hit it off immediately… we ended up talking about random things for about an hour post-interview. Alas, the contract length of two years conflicted with my law school plans and the lack of high speed Internet interfered with my MS studies, so I had to say no. Thus, my chance to live on a tiny island in the South Pacific a mere 100 miles from an atomic test site was quashed.

This one isn’t necessarily out forever, though. Should I decide to discard this silly law school notion, I could probably apply and go. As it does not currently align with my long term plan, though… it’ll probably never happen.

South Pole image copyright Christopher Michael, who in no way endorses my travel angst.

Italian Frustrations.

I like my professors here in Italy, but the Italian style of rescheduling classes is extremely frustrating. For example:

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 7.01.03 AM

Now, I get the occasional overlap but this happens like… all of the time. I hate to miss class most days, so…. this is just an added stressor that American students don’t need. 😉

Russia v. Turkey: Amateur Assessment.

I’m seeing a lot of blah blah blah come across my Facebook feed concerning the Russian fighter jet that was shot down by Turkey. Some posters think Turkey was right to shoot down the plane, while others think that Turkey overreacted. Because most of the assessments are based on individual political positions v. international law, however, I decided to post my (Amateur 2L) assessment of the situation based on what I know of international law thus far.

Note that I am far from perfect, and that there are plenty of other interpretations. Even so, I think this ought to serve well as a starting point for proper discussion of the incident.

Now, before we begin I should probably note that I’m only interested in answering two questions:

  • Was Turkey’s action (shooting down the plane) legal?
  • Was Russia violating international law if it indeed overflew Turkish airspace?

First, I’ll be examining the situation from the point of view of the UN Charter. Both Russia and Turkey are signatories, so they bound by the charter. Second, I’ll be examining the questions based on the more flexible international customary law.

So, let’s get started.

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IPP#6: Social Network Evolution.

My friend and former co-worker Dave wrote up his take on the evolution of the Facebook community.  He was more or less spot on as far as Facebook is concerned. His post stirred a memory of a post I’ve been meaning to write, though… thus, you have IPP #6: The evolution and devolution of social networks!

My experience in social networking is relatively extensive. I’ve had an account on (most) social networks at one time or another (yay Six Degrees circa 1996) and I tend to do a fair bit of network hopping. In doing so, I have also bore witness to the lifecycle of these networks… these five phases are my take on that cycle.

Worth noting? Facebook should be sitting in Phase 3-4. but Facebook is a unique animal as far as I can tell. Because it is so ubiquitous / dominant, it is resisting decline.

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Anti-Refugee Cowards.

If you’re anti-refugee and pro-war against ISIS, yet you have zero intention of actually signing up to fight / support the fight against ISIS, you are a pathetic, hypocritical, self-serving sack of entitlement and cowardice.

How good it must feel to show your tough guy attitude towards ISIS from the comfort of your couch. How awesome it must be to demand aggressive foreign policies that put other people in danger while you relax by your pool and post anti-ISIS sentiments from your iPhone. How very patriotic you must feel. Hey, you fly a flag and put out yellow ribbons, though, so I guess you’ve done your part.

In case you’re a little bit slow, I’m absolutely mocking your cowardice.

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So, You’re Self-Hosting Thanksgiving.


(With thanks to @anwate for her for real useful post on hosting Thanksgiving!)

Come Thursday, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr will be overrun with a joy that can only come from a holiday celebrating socially acceptable gluttony, team sports, and… I think there’s something about hooking up with locals in there too. Anyway… if you’re like me, you’re necessarily excluded from the festivities in the U.S.A. Never, fear, though! I’m here to make your Thanksgiving feast one to remember.

I suppose it it worth noting at this junction that memories can be both good and bad. In any case, let’s begin!

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Lessons Learned.

When I arrived at law school, I made a concerted effort to befriend my classmates. While it worked… kind of… sort of… to a degree, differences in life experience and age got in the way of making many meaningful connections.  That, combined with my tendency to be reserved & standoffish*, pretty much doomed that experiment to failure.

I decided to give it another shot in Milan. This time, I went out of my way to find answers to people’s questions, offer advice based on my experiences (I arrived early) and generally did my best to help out. For this, I got called annoying because “I have to see your posts when you answer people like OMG.” I guess you can take the post-millennial out of her home country, but you can’t the self-centered brat out of the post-millennial.  And again, age, life experience, and my own standoffish nature clearly worked against me.

I think I’m done trying. My standards are high, I don’t like the flaky inconsistency of modern friendship, and I don’t like being the guy that people consider a friend only when they need something like tech advice or class info. So basically, experiment over.

Obviously, there are exceptions. For the most part, the sort of person to be worried about being an exception is probably an exception. 😉 But hey, you can ask if it bothers you that much.

*- Personally, I don’t think I’m very nice. Indeed, I’m more than a bit of a jerk. I’m probably hard to know, too. I get that.