Blog Securty Update: Orange Alert!

We have a situation on our hands of paramount importance. My brand new UVa Law hoodie, which was generously given to me by my loving wife for Christmas, has been viciously kidnapped and put up for ransom by freedom-hating terrorists. Judging by the culprit’s flagrant disrespect for the unalienable rights of private property, I have concluded that this crime must have been committed by radical, pinko-commie Canadians.

I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly decry this outrage and emphatically state the “We Will Not Negotiate With Terrorists!”


My Triumphant Return to the Hallowed Halls of Virginia’s Most Prestigious Educational Institution

It seems like just last week that I was basking in the warm Edmonton sun with nothing better to do than to enjoy the freedom from any kind of deadline or obligation that vacations are designed to provide. But alas, since then I have been caught up in a such a large whirlwind of school and job searching that I almost expected to see a the Wicked Witch of the East fly by, laughing that distinctive cackle that further reminds me that I am definitely not in Alberta anymore. However, the fresh blanket of snow that greeted me when I awoke at 2:00PM, in Charlottesville for the first time since December, I almost was able to convince myself that that entire previous day of traveling was but a dream—that I was alone in my admittedly comfortable bed quickly dispelled that illusion. With my wife once again a continent away, it was August 2006 all over, except, of course for the aforementioned snow, the furniture in my apartment that allowed me to spend the night in a bed instead of on the floor, and the previously alluded to fact that, unlike the first semester, UVa Law did not feel it appropriate to ease us back into the swing of things and, at least in my case, scheduled four classes for that Monday, none of which had I completed the first days reading assignment.

The area’s law firms joined the school in thinking that the returning 1Ls are all well-enough aware of the comings and goings of law school life that they do not need any adjustment time, and scheduled receptions starting on Tuesday. These receptions are basically opportunities for us future lawyers to acquaint ourselves with our future career possibilities, but in my humble opinion, their real purpose is nothing more than an opportunity to eat hors d'oeuvres and, if its your thing, drink free alcohol. I mean, there is so much sucking up at those receptions it reminded my of the time when my sister thought it would be a nice gesture to my mother to invite in a vacuum salesman who promised to clean our living room carpet; and like that day, I imagine that some of the firm lawyers who were at the receptions would have like to have exercised the same tacit to avoid the various brown-nosing 1Ls who perfected their gunning skills last fall that my parents did to avoid the salesman: hiding in their rooms. In short, the student to lawyer ratio was so high that I doubt that any hiring partner will remember any potential employee enough to influence their decisions in the slightest. The evenings weren’t a total loss, though: there was food, and at one I even picked up one of those cool highlighters that have built-in sticky tabs. Oh boy, I can’t wait to start outlining now!

The other firm even that I was able to participate in was the mock interview program that took place on Friday. Now that 30 minutes or so was not a complete an utter waste of time and resources. I had an interview with Kennedy Covington, and had spent the previous night perfecting answers to questions I expected to receive, such as “What assists do you think you will bring to this firm” or “So, why do you think you want to work in North Carolina” (which was a little harder question to come up with a convincing answer considering I don’t want to work in North Carolina). However, none of my carefully prepared responses turned out to be of any use, since we ended up spending almost our entire time together discussing Alberta weather, last year’s Stanley Cup final when the beloved Edmonton Oilers took on the heartless Carolina Hurricanes, and my preference to Macs over PCs. The fact that employers are more concerned with how well a student will fit in to their firm that their qualifications just showed me that Haines was right all along: First Year Associates are just fungible billing units. I’m glad I’ve chosen a profession that will value my skills so much.


My Impending Death on the Banks of Lake Michigan

Here I am, back to where I never thought I would go again. I am not talking about my delayed return to Charlottesville, although our month-long break is roughly twice as long as my usual holiday and just long enough to forget that I am in law school and begin to believe that my real calling in life is to sleep in until 11:00 every morning, waste the day and finish the nights hanging at my friends’ (who, by the way, have been back in school since the 8th) house reliving past activities such as attempting to create a tin-can telephone between 2nd and 13th floor apartments and contaminating my water with centerpiece candle-oil at Julio’s Mexican restaurant. No, being 6:00 PM after spending since 5:30 AM in airport after airport, I wish I was back home at the ‘ol UVa.

But, since traveling in airports is such a boring subject, let us change it to something a little more uplifting: irrational fears. Everyone is afraid of something, I’m sure. Sorry, all you macho guys who claim immunity, I’m not buying the act—there has to be something that sends chills up your spine, be it spiders or heights, or just committing to that girl you have been seeing for a while but you haven’t even been able to muster enough courage to take the next step. My fear, which is, in fact, entirely rational and fully explains this post’s opening sentence, is Chicago Illinois. That’s right I am afraid of Chicago, the very city where I sit right now, typing this message and nervously shifting my eyes back and forth in search of trouble because being in a metropolis such as this, you can never be too weary.

This fear of Chicago started not to long ago actually, but has since taken control of my life to such a degree that I have had (and this is complexly true and factual) had nightmares of the dreaded monster of concrete and people, millions and millions of people, crawling up and down the walls and hiding out in thousands of cars trucks and SUVs that inhabit its vein-like freeway system. I take you back now to August 2006, when I had just unexpectedly left my bride of a mere three months at border-post in Montana and traveled halfway across the country in Fanny, my amazingly reliable Ford Escort. I arrived in Chicago at about 10 AM with high hopes and Sufjan Steven’s anthem of the city playfully streaming out of Fanny’s speakers. I traveled without incident when it happened: the mother of all parking-lot style grid-locks loamed behind me as far as the eye could see and quickly expanded for miles behind Fanny and I. Now, being the stalwart adventurer that I am, I didn’t panic—at least not for the first couple of hours that I used to travel 10 miles or so. No no, the panic didn’t set in until the low fuel light came on. I had never before tested the low-fuel light, but luckily it lasted the 20 minutes or so that it took to reach the next available off-ramp (Fanny saves the day again), which I excitedly took and ended up leading straight into what I will describe simple as ‘the ghetto.’ And I’m not talking about the "oh, Garneu Towers’ old stoves are so ghetto," but the actual get shot in the back because someone doesn’t like your brand of tennis shoe (or, perhaps more likely, because he particularly likes your shoes) ghetto, where I had to pre-pay for my gas to a gruff-looking attendant seated behind what I could only assume was bullet-proof glass. Fortunately for all, I was able hastily completely re-route my cross-country odyssey an escape from that horrible, horrible city (after a few more hours of adventure in its never-ending suburbs with a full tank of gas and all limbs attached.

Ever since that day, I have been terrified of Chicago, yet here I am, back in that death-trap of a town, listening to the PA system warn us of the airport’s “orange alert” and anxiously awaiting my delayed (surprise, surprise) flight that will carry me safely away from almost certain death. Aghh, does that old woman have a gun!

Oh wait; it’s just an apple.


Finally, Some Good News

The day that everyone has been waiting for with baited breath and sweaty hands has finally arrived. Well, not exactly arrived, but actually has a date to attach to it. Yes, I am pleased to announce that my wife finally has a Visa interview date: As of Feb. 15 (and barring some unforeseen circumstances), Theresa will be a permanent resident of the United States, much to everyone’s relief.


Words to Live By

You would probably think that since I am currently enjoying a long Christmas break, I would have nothing better to do and update my blog pretty regularly, but the thing about having nothing to do is that there is nothing really exciting to talk about. This being my immediate predicament, I first thought that I would make up an exciting story about fighting off terrorists in downtown Edmonton, but realized that since there aren’t really any terrorists in Alberta, no one would believe it. Instead, because it is the start of a new year and time for resolutions and such, I will take this time to expound on some of the wisdom that I have learned over the past twelve months. So, I’ve got out my soup box and am perched precariously atop of it and my oversized ego, ready to dole out some good ‘ol fashion learnin:

First off, vacationing in Edmonton during January is not a very good idea, unless you are an inuit who is used to living in a house made of ice, in which case Edmonton might seem to you like a tropical hot spot. For anyone else foolhardy enough to choose this particular city as your next winter getaway, be prepared for a winter blast of -30 degree weather (which, for those of you who think that because I always report my temperatures in Celsius this is not as cold as it seems, coverts to -22 degrees Fahrenheit). I was able to sneak away on one of the warmer days to take in a day of snowboarding and otherwise spend my time in the worlds biggest mall (sorry all you American patriots who think the Mall of America is the biggest, but we hold the Guinness record).

Next, if you are flying out of Dulles airport on the Friday before Christmas, make sure you arrive at least 3 hours early. Either that or cut in front of the entire line like I did.

During my stay in the US of A, I have learned (or rather reaffirmed my previous knowledge) that Americans, not matter what age, race or station in life, love to make fun of Canadians, and, to accomplish this task, have only about 3 jokes to use. So, as a word of advice to all those who think they are Dan Akroyds or Jim Carrys: I’ve heard it all before. Now, I’m not trying to be all whiney because I really don’t care what anyone says about my home and native land, and to prove there are no hard feelings, I will provide to anyone who wishes to continue the Canadian merry-making a short list of potential jokes to keep you going: hockey, the metric system, “Zed”, beer, the loonie, igloos, Mounties, doughnuts, maple syrup, “toques”, Celine Dion, Zambonis, curling, monopoly money, snow, “hoser”, Wayne Gretzky, Marijuana, homosexual marriage, “Eh”, small military, universal health care, no guns, better and cheaper education, clear air, lower crime rate, and top 3 rank on the UN’s ‘Best countries to live in’ list. Oh wait, were there some good things on this list? I guess I forgot what I was writing about.

Speaking of Canada, I wouldn’t be much of an indie rock fan if I did not use my advice post to recommend looking out for the new Arcade Fire Album due out in March. And, by the way, I’m sure all of you other indie-rockers out there will be happy to know that I have finally kicked my nasty little “Dashboard Confessional” habit once and for all. It happened all of a sudden too: one day I was listening to my iPod on random and this Dashboard song came on. Well, about half-way through the song, when Dashboard was taking what seemed like an eternity to singabout which shirt to wear on a date that I just felt like yelling: “Stop your incessant whining, you namby-pamby baby!” And that is when I realized that my disdain for emo is finally total, much to my relief. So, with my newly aquired rise in hipster status, I will attempt to play the part of a music blogger just a little an recommend an album that I think is quite something and am quite sure that most readers have not heard. “Phages,” by The Most Serene Republic is a limited edition EP available on iTunes, emusic and the Arts and Crafts website that is a light and Jazzy indie-rock gem.

Do not try to take any shortcuts while walking in Charlottesville. The last time I tried to cut across the field to get from the law school to the post office in Barracks, I ended up half-jumping-half-falling at least 12 feet down a cliff through thorny bushes and ending up in the UVa bus depot, where I had to descretely brush myself off and pretend that I actually had a purpose in the lot while mechanics were probably laughing under their breath. The good news is that my shins were the only things cut—I probably saved about 3 minutes or so in traveling time.

As for advice pertaining to other forms of travel in Charlottesville, ie driving: just say no. Charlottesville is a small town with big city traffic (plus a police force that is more oversized than Morgan Spurlock after a month at McDonalds, and whose sole purpose seems to be closing the exact roads that you need to use to get home).

Tim Horton’s is a Canadian Gem (which luckily has recently expanded into the USA): I just haven’t found an Apple Fritter in Virginia to match one of Timmy H’s. Old Dutch Jalepeno Chedder Potato chips are another. Sorry Utz, you may have been voted best chip in 1993, but you cant really match the power of the Dutch Crunch.

Now that the whole “I’m LDS” thing is out of the bag, I am in a good position to give this advice that I learned when my friend and his girlfriend came to Charlottesville for a visit; it would be useful for anyone who is having LDS guests over (who are not married). As I’m sure everyone knows, our church believes it is important to remain pure before marriage, so certain steps must be taken when traveling with your girlfriend (or boyfriend). As far as I can tell, these are a few guidelines that I thought were pretty arbitrary, but that Theresa seemed to believe were obvious enough that it was almost laughable and certainly disappointing that I was not already aware of them (and I remind everyone that these ‘rules’ are just a set of observation and in no way reflect official church policy, but may serve as an interesting insight): first off, girlfriends are not supposed to stay in the same house as you when you are visiting your friend who is also single. This means that if you are visiting said friend with your girlfriend, it is customary to find your girlfriend another place to stay, usually one of your friend’s female friends. This was the situation Theresa and I were in when we visited her sister in Calgary to go to a Stars concert. This rule apparently does not apply when the friend you are visiting is married (although separate rooms are still a must). This was the case when my friend, Danny H, visited me. So, as Theresa explained (on the phone), even though I was living by myself AND am younger and much less mature than Theresa’s sister, the same-house-but-different-room sleeping arrangement was acceptable. So, that’s it: if your LDS friend is coming for a visit, follow these guidelines and no one will be offended.

And on that enlightening thought, we will end for today. Don’t worry, I have much more advice to give, but we’ll have to save it for another post.


The Year is Dying, Let It Die!

Now that I am a family man and all, I have picked up the long standing tradition of composing a Christmas letter. Below I present the Miller Family's Christmas Greeting:

To our dearest friends and loving family,

At the dawn of this year, the two thousand and sixth of our Lord, the Randal and Theresa Miller family was yet to be formed. Sure, they had spent the better part of the previous year blissfully enjoying their courtship, and the ring-watchers had had their sights set on Theresa’s left hand for at least 11 months, but as of January, the couple had not formalized their marriage plans with an official engagement. During this first month, Randy’s arms were practically overflowing with his many Law School applications, and Theresa spent her time fretting more about whether her seemingly dead-beat boyfriend will ever muster up enough courage to finally ask for her hand in marriage than completing her full course-load at Grant MacEwan.

Unbeknownst to Theresa, Randy’s engagement plans were already in there final stages as February opened, and on the first Monday of the month, Theresa received a small note under her door that began a week-long scavenger hunt with the reported goal of asking her to the big sweethearts dance. The hunt sent Theresa on a whirlwind review of their relationship, as each note lead to a different location around Edmonton where she and Randy had shared a significant memory. The trip ended in Hawrelak park, with Randy not only asking Theresa to accompany him to the dance, but to accompany him throughout eternity.

In the next few months, Randy and Theresa hurriedly prepared for their forthcoming nuptials and were able to spend a wintery weekend in Whitefish with Theresa’s family, where hearts were knit and bottoms were bruised (on the ski-hill, of course). They also made the decision to spend their next three years at the University of Virginia School of Law, although they had to consult an atlas to discover where their new home would be.

Not wanting to end his single days quietly, Randy and his roommates escaped to Mexico for a seven-day bachelor celebration in late April. After he returned, on the thirteenth of May, the long-awaited wedding occurred, with Theresa and Randy exchanging sacred vows in the Alberta Temple. Following a family brunch at the Cobblestone Manner and a Calling reception in Taber, the newlyweds hopped a plane to Victoria to begin their eternal voyage among the lush foliage of Vancouver Island. After six days of kayaking, sightseeing and fine dining, the couple returned to Edmonton for a second reception and to begin their married life.

June was a month of long workdays, but the new family was not one to stay in a single city for too long. On Sonic 102.9’s illustrious traveling game show, “What’s In The Van Man?” Randy won a trip for two to Vancouver, and for a few days in July, he and his wife took in the sights and sounds of the harbor city. After this trip, however, they did not return home; instead, they traveled straight to Meadow Lake, Montana to spend a week with Randy’s family. That was the end of their fun.

August was Randy and Theresa’s big move—or should that be Randy’s big move. Because Theresa was waiting for her Visa and despite the couple’s valiant efforts from almost the moment they were wed, the new bride was barred entry into the USA, leaving Randy to travel to Virginia and make a home for himself alone. This was the twilight of their year and tears were shed on both sides of the 49th parallel. For three long months, the couple’s only communication was distant telephone conversations and one brief visit at Thanksgiving. Fortunately, The University of Virginia is a great school, so Randy was able to effectively fill his days with both legal studies and social gatherings that, more often than not, involved softball and/or much drinking (by his classmates). Theresa worked at Boston Pizza. Finally in November, the last piece of the new family’s life became realigned when Theresa made a daring (yet legal) run for the border and was able to satisfy the port official enough to join her anxious hubby in Charlottesville, proving once and for all, that Virginia truly is for lovers.

So, this tale ends happily for all. Although Theresa is still waiting for her immigrant visa, the couple is together and enjoying Virginia’s mild winter. This was truly a momentous year for us, full of great change, good times, a few hard times, but overall, much jubilation. We hope that 2006 treated you as well as it did us. Happy Christmas.

The Millers