Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meeting the Supreme Court Justices

How many people can say that they met Supreme Court Justices!!???!!!

Last week, Lewis & Clark had two very exciting visitors: Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Each Justice had a one hour long question and answer session with the law student. I attended both. Ok, so maybe that wasn't exactly "meeting" the Justices, but it sure was close enough for me!

Former Justice O'Connor's responses to questions were mostly anecdotal and not substantive, which was sort of disappointing. I understand that there are many topics about which the justices and former justices cannot speak, due to ethical and professionalism considerations. However, there are many substantive topics about which the Justices can speak. I think part of the problem was that a lot of the questions from the audience weren't designed to elicit substantive responses. And since I didn't ask any questions, at all, I probably shouldn't complain!

Although anecdotal, O'Connor's session was still interesting because her life is interesting. Originally from Arizona, she graduated from Stanford law school in the early 50's. Former Chief Justice Rehnquist was in her law school class (rumor has it she briefly dated him). O'Connor graduated at the top of her class, but could not find employment as an attorney. At that time, there were no legal positions for women, except as a secretary. O'Connor was offered a secretarial position at a firm, but turned it down. Hearing that the county attorney had previously hired a woman, O'Connor went to him for a job, but he did not have enough money in his budget, or room in his office space, to hire anyone new. After meeting with him, O'Connor wrote him a letter, begging for a job, and stating that she would work for free, and share space with his secretary. He accepted, and that was her first position out of law school. Shortly thereafter, she followed her husband to Germany. Upon returning to the states a couple of years later, she again couldn't find a job because of her gender. So, she opened up her own firm (four years or so out of law school) and did that, until her nanny moved away and she decided to stay home with her children.

Fast forward a bit, and she was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981. At that time, there were only 8 Justices, who were evenly divided. If the Court's decision was tied, the appealed decision became the binding outcome, but with no precedential value. Justice O'Connor said that the Court seemed happy to have a ninth, and didn't much care that it was a woman. She also said that she didn't feel particularly well equipped for the task, since she had little experience in the federal law arena.

Justice Kennedy spoke the next day. I've never known much about him, and after Rapanos, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I certainly didn't expect him to be as incredibly articulate, charming, funny, and inspirational as he was. He poked some good fun at Scalia, which was well received at our uber liberal law school. When asked about his characterization as a "swing vote," he responded that he is completely consistent, and that everyone else swings around him. There were several points during the session where he had people doubled over in laughter. He was the kind of person you would want to have over for dinner, if you weren't so indimated by how smart he is. And when asked about animal rights (which is big at L & C), he responded thoughtfully, but also reminded us that human rights are shrinking as we speak. His closing words were "we have a lot to do."

I'll tell you what: it is an interesting time to be going back to school. I'm glad I have this opportunity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Willamette River weekend

I haven't posted here in a while so I thought I would talk about what we've been doing lately. A few days ago we were invited over to Lisa's schoolmate Oday's house for soup and salad. He was a chef at a restaurant in France so being the lovers of all things food, it was a necessity that we attend. He served beet salad and split pea soup. Now before you go and say, "Gene, that's no big deal. I can do that!" I hope that Oday will come in and comment on exactly what was used in preparing this meal. I do know that the ham hocks that were used were taken from pigs that were pampered and taken to Disney for a weekend cruise on the Disney line of boats. That is how they roll up here with the piggies! After that the pigs are taken to a spa resort where they are given cucumber wraps and massaged for 4 hours. At this point, the pigs have no idea why the massaging is being performed, but who doesn't love a good rub? The last of the pampering ends with a trip to a mineral bath up in the Cascades which lasts for 24 hours. By this point the pigs' defenses have been taken down and they are willing and able to succumb.

The next day we took the dogs to the park to try and get them wet since they haven't been out in quite a while and needed a good run. Little did we know that the "shore" was mud and not sand. The dogs sank up to their bellies and were quite dirty. Lisa had a good idea to take them down to another part of the park that had pebbles down to the water. When we got there, she convinced the dogs to fight each other in the water, which they did without much hassle, and then their coats were as good as new. Lisa still says they smell of dirty water or fish or something.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hood Valley OR Labor Day Festivities

Well here is what we ended up doing:

Got to Hood Valley around 4PM on Saturday due to our dog Finn running up the stairs to the back porch the day before, and cutting a nice gash into the elbow joint of his back leg. He did it on Friday, and we gave it until Saturday morning for it to at least start to heal. It did not. I took him to the vet and poor little Finn had to get about 4 stitches. He was much happier afterwards, though. I'm not sure if that was from not having his guts hanging out of his leg, or the fact that he was sedated. Probably the latter... So we got to Hood River and went straight to our room at the Mosier House, in Mosier OR., which is about 5 miles from Hood River. Cindy, the manager, was super nice and the house was just immaculate. We put our stuff in our rooms and got back on the road, to head back to Hood River. We stopped at Phelps Creek Winery, and tasted some "fine wine" as some might say. We ended up getting their dessert wine. We then moseyed over to Cathedral Ridge Vineyard. Their wines didn't taste as good as Phelps, but we were able to sample their Syrah 2005, and it was fine. It was a bit more than we wanted to spend so we continued on since we had dinner reservations at Celilo's Restaurant. I had some really good seafood pasta. We walked up and down Main St. or whatever they call their main street in that town and then made our way back to our room. We were bushed!

We got up about 7am, but Lisa didn't get out of bed until 8am and myself about 8:45am since I decided not to shower before breakfast. Cindy had made us a huge breakfast from scratch using mostly local produce. It was wonderful and included blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs from cage free chickens, nectarines, bacon. After breakfast we went back upstairs, got our pajamas back on, and promptly fell back asleep drunk on food. We slept for a glorious 2 hours and I got up and showered after that. We then got on the road and proceeded to the Hood River Fruit Loop. We made it to our first stop on our list, and the lady wasn't picking, but recommended that we drive right up the road and talk to her neighbor who grows organic pears. We did, and seemed to hit it off with her neighbor, who invited us up to the top of his property which looks out at Mount Hood. We sat down inside the house he is building and just got to know each other for a couple of hours. It was a blast, and he ended up taking us into his orchard and letting us pick some of his fruit. He said he had elk, deer, turkey, and bears that come through his orchards looking for food. Later, at another stop, we got zucchinis and Lisa picked flowers. We picked apples and more pears from another orchard as well. We closed the loop down that day. We went to dinner at The Sixth Street Bistro & Loft. We walked around Main St. for a few minutes then retired.

Cindy changed it up for breakfast on Monday by offering us huevos rancheros with sliced avocado, and a side of strawberries and yogurt. We packed up afterwards and said our goodbyes, and went back downtown to do a little shopping. Later, we headed back to Portland, but stopped on our way back and got out at Multnomah Falls. We hiked to the top, and then explored up there for awhile. It was a few hours hike, but a lot of fun and good exercise.

We got back home and are now worn out. I'm headed for a shower and am cross-eyed. Hope everyone had a great weekend. We sure did!