More Economy Day (Christmas) Arguments

So, the whole "Ho Ho Ho" firing thing may or may not have been a myth, but I am still going to stick with Economy Day. But changing the name of December's holiday has not resolved any of Theresa and my disagreements. We have compromised on the advent calender thing (Theresa is counting down, and I'm counting up) but we are now having a new fight: when presents come in the mail, can you open them right away?

I wont tell you who holds which opinion, as to not influence your opinion.


Happy Economy Day

I just read the other day that a Santa Clause was fired for saying 'Ho Ho Ho,' instead of what his employer wanted him to say: 'Ha Ha Ha.' First off, I think this whole Ho Ho Ho controversy is about the most ridiculous holiday scandal I have ever heard - doesn't the anti-Ho people realize that sometimes two words sound the same but have completely different meanings? If this keeps up, then well have to start talking about the Hoover Darn.

Secondly, our modern society has already tried to bleed out every Christian element from Christmas, which I always thought would leave us with a completely secularized and materialistic holiday season with the big man in red taking the place of the little baby in a manger. But with stories like these coming out, it seems like society has taken another step towards removing absolutely all meaning from the holiday seasoning by attacking Mr. Materialism himself: Jolly 'ol Saint Nick. Next thing we know, they'll be people complaining about Santa propagating anti-obesity stereotypes and Christmas trees contributing to global warming by furthering deforestation.

So lets just cut to the chase shall we: I propose that we remove all traces of Santa Clause, the Reindeer, Christmas trees and figgy pudding from this holiday season (as well as any religious undertones, naturally). And if you think this cleansing would completely derive us of everything fun about this festive season, don't worry - I've come up with a new theme that will still get all those shoppers hitting the stores: ECONOMY DAY!

That's right, I think December 25 should be a day where we can celebrate all the good that holiday shopping does for our economy, without having to worry about religious confrontations or insulting characters. So happy economy day everyone!


Our Favorite Albums of 2007

One of the things that I love most about the end of the year are critics "Best Albums of the Year" list. Although I know that critics' opinions don't really matter in the end, I always like to read what they have to say, either to see if my favorite albums get on other peoples list, or to discover good music that I had overlooked this year. So, since the internet allows everyone to publicly voice their own opinions, I am proud to present Theresa and my "favorite albums of the year." Since our household is a democracy (at least for now - when we have kids, it will shift to an oligarchy) Theresa and I each made our own Top Ten list and then, giving each of us equal weight, compiled a master list (In parenthesis are Theresa and my individual rankings) :

1.) Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
T: I love Spoon. I like the name because spoons are useful and the songs are fun to sing. "Give me my... Japanese cigarette case!" (R:7, T:1)

2.) Feist: The Reminder
T: Feist's music is so dancey. She inspires even the worst dancers to get on their feet. And because even the non-dancey songs are good, this album is wondtabulous (wonderful + fabulous). (R:6, T:2)

3.) Radiohead: In Rainbows
R: Radiohead definatly got a lot of press this year with their no- record- label- internet- only- pay- what- you- will album, but did anyone take the time to mention the music? I really, really liked Radiohead's previous albums, but lets face it, they can be kind-of downers. I enjoy In Rainbows because it seems a little cheerier. Thom's mother would be proud. (R: 3, T: 5)

4.) Sunset Rubdown: Random Spirit Lover
R: This was my favorite album of the year, and it is only number 4! I guess this goes to show that it might not be for everyone, but I love it! If you give it a chance, you might just be caught up in its frantic neon-lit Laberynth-esque stage-play of a production. (R:1, T:-)

5.) Metric: Grow Up And Blow Away
T: I like this new-old record, despite the fact that none of Metric's other albums float my boat. It's bluesy and cool and just plain better. (R:8, T:4)

5.) Stars: In Our Bedroom After The War
T: I like this record, but we are not yet at the point in our relationship to drop the L-bomb. It is a lot of fun, but it's just not that beautiful. [funny - that's what Theresa said to me when we first started going out.] (R:9, T: 3)

7.) Rock Plaza Central: Are We Not Horses
R: Mechanical Horses that think they are real, having an exestential crisis after a war between the humans and the angels, with the narrative focusing on one of these creatures' love affair with its enemy - what can I say more. (really though, the music is very good). (R:2, T:-)

8.) Frog Eyes: Tears Of The Valedictorian
R: Another acquired taste. Think of Chris Farley frantically playing a guitar and yelping like a wolf, and you'll have Frog Eyes. I think Tears is their best album, and the 9-minute epic "Bushels" is mostly why I rated it so high. (R:4, T:-)

9.) Kevin Drew: Spirit If...
R: Think of this as the low-key follow-up to Broken Social Scene's last album, which alone should be enough to get on this list. I liked it when I first heard it, but it wasn't until repeated listens that I really started to love it. (R:5, T:-)

9.) The New Pornographers: Challengers
T: I don't really like this record, but it has some really great songs on it. My new favorite song is Challanger (Neko Case is awesome). It alone put this album on my list. (R:-, T:5)

A couple things I've noticed while making this list: First, Theresa's favorite bands are sure higher on this list than mine - I guess I like her favorite bands more than she likes mine. Second, We sure like Canadian music - 8/10 albums are from Canadian artists.

So, do you agree with us? What were your favorite albums this year?


A Bitter Arguement Almost Ruins The Miller's Christmas

We need your help resolving a little Christmas debate Theresa and I are having. As everyone knows, that December is the month for, not only gross materialism, but also Advent Calenders - a tradition that is fun for the entire family. However, the fun of these monthly treasure collections has been tainted this year by a bitter argument that has rocked the Miller home: Do you start the calender at 24, and count down to 1, or do you start at 1, and count up to 24?

My argument is that the numbers represent the days of the month, so on the 1st, you open door #1. Also, in those chocolate calenders you can buy for like $1, the only constant chocolate shape is Santa Claus, which is always under the 24, since this is the night that Santa makes his rounds. Logically, if you were to count down from 24, Santa should appear under the 1.

Theresa's argument is simple: an advent colander is supposed to count down the days until Christmas, so naturally you should open the door that corresponds to the number of days left until Christmas (24 on Dec 1, 23 on Dec 2 etc.). In her defense, she cites the same chocolate calenders, which read in large letters on the front "24 Chocolate Days Until Christmas," which demonstrate that the calender's purpose is to tell us how many days there are until Christmas, not which day of the month it is (we use regular calenders for that).

So, what do you think?


A Holiday-Themed Excuse to Show Off Some Pictures From Holly's Visit

This is my thankful post. So much of the internet is dedicated to complaints and complaints about complaints, that it is about time to give thanks. After all, life is pretty good, isn't it. And no, the timing of this post has nothing to do with a certain holiday that occurred this past week.

I am thankful for my family. Especially the ones that come and visit us, as my sister Holly did this weekend (as demonstrated by this - may I say artsy - picture I took on our trip to DC). And of course, I am also thankful for the ones that comment on my blog.

I am thankful for Virginia, to copy the answer that Theresa gave during an amazing dinner we had at out Grandparent's place in Buena Vista last Thursday. It is nice to live in a beautiful part of the world (case and point below), and I have been given so many opportunities here, such as being able to attend UVa and getting a good job for next summer.

And certainly not least, I relate the same answer I gave directly after Theresa extolled the virtues of the old Dominion: I am thankful to Theresa - she may have a playful streak (which is not at all annoying in any sense of the word), but she certainly brings copious amounts of joy to my life. I also love her hat in this picture - she looks like a burglar)

Now for what I am definitely NOT thankful for, since we don't want too much gratitute in one place. I HATE CHRISTMAS ADS: they represent all that is wrong with capitalism by pretty directly saying that you will not be happy unless you buy lots of stuff (and that your loved ones will hate you if you don't get them what they want). OK, I'm going to stop here. I could get carried away...


The Fridge That Represents America

Last week I said that I would not talk about our fridge. This week, though, I will. Not because I have nothing else to talk about, but because I have discovered deeper meaning in the story. Deeper meaning into the true spirit of America, which, if anyone even remembers, was the whole point of this blog to begin with.

Sometime last week I read some tips on how to make your home more energy efficent, one of which was to make sure the seal on your fridge door is tight so that the cold air wont escape. So, naturally, I go home and check our fridge and discover that the seal on our freezer door was loose enough to allow cold air to seep out. I the hope that the management would care enough about my energy efficiency to perhaps fix my fridge, I called them to my place to check it out. And they did come. The maintenance guys agreed that the seal was loose, so decided to fix it BY GIVING US A NEW FRIDGE! And, looking back, when our dishwasher's door-latch broke, they got us a whole new dishwasher! Is this how you all do things here in America? If any little (and I assume easily fixable/replaceable) part of a machine breaks, scrap the whole thing and buy an new one?! Should I stop washing dishes, and instead buy a new set after every meal? My car is due for an oil change, should I just get a new one instead?

I guess my complex might be trying to replace all the old appliances with new ones (in which case, we should make up some problem with our stove), but I like to think it is America's consumer culture that is fueling this amazing juggernaut of waste.

Oh America...

And in completely unrelated news, as I am writing this post, I'm listening to a live Broken Social Scene concert on npr.com. I mentioned a little while ago about how the Stars Concert we attended was available on the website, and now I will go the next step and recommend you (nay - command you) to subscribe the the "All Songs Considered Concert Series" Podcast, where you can download full concerts from artists like The Arcade Fire, Spoon, The New Pornographers, Animal Collective, as well as the two previously mentioned shows. Pretty Cool, Eh? (I had to throw in that 'Eh' to remind myself that I am still a Canadian)


This Doesn't Surprize Me In The Least...



My Cop-Out Post

I was thinking all yesterday on what profound (or at least humorous) words I could write this week, but alas, no one can be brilliant every day (or, even ever, if you are less than impressed with my blog so far). As for our activities of this week, unless you want to hear about our new fridge or repairing our car, I wont bore you with the details.

Instead, I present to you this clip from a cartoon that Holly and I loved when we were kids back in the 80s. Youtube certainly hasn't helped all of those 20 and 30 somethings who are already becoming almost sickeningly nostalgic. Of course, my present display of nostalgia should be forgiven, considering the pure awesomeness of this video: Animalypics.


Wilson Sonsini

It's official. As of yesterday, I have accepted an offer to work at the Palo Alto office of the Law Firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as a summer associate next year.

That's right, not being one to restrict my moves to short distances, Theresa and I will be packing up next may and traveling the 2824 miles (4544 Km) from one coast to the other. Anyone familiar with my recent history should not be surprised with my decision to once again cross an entire continent in order to forge a new home. In the past five years, I have moved from Mexico City to Edmonton, Alberta (2974 miles/4786 Km), and then from Edmonton to Charlottesville (2423 miles/3899 Km). It seems my motto should be "If the move isn't at least 2000 miles, its not worth doing." I also find it significant that this new move means that I will have lived in the four corners of North America, living in the North (Edmonton), South (Mexico DF), East (Charlottesville) and West (Palo Alto).

But anyways, I am very excited at the opportunity of working with Wilson Sonsini. From what I have learned so far, they are a great firm with a specialty in technology and life sciences. I can't wait


It's Business Time...

And I don't mean in the "Flight of the Concords" sense. What I am referring to is my business-oriented short course that just wrapped up last week and has a name so long, you would think it was a title to one of my blog posts: "Launching the Enterprise: Selected Topics in the Start-Up of a Biotechnology Company." Essentially, in this class we split into a few groups and produced investor presentations about an actual biotech company of which our instructor is currently involved in. Secretly, it seems like an chance for him to gather a bunch of ideas from us before he has to give his own presentation this week, but since the class was so fun and informative, I wont hold it against him.

Now, I don't want to brag, but I must say our presentation was pretty much amazing. We tried a new method of powerpoint presentations that our instructor very quickly introduced. The method is outlined in a book called "Beyond Bullet Points" by Cliff Atkinson of Sociable Media and essentially does away with bullet points and focuses on short descriptions and compelling graphics, leaving the speaker to discuss the details of the presentation. I must say, after watching both traditional and new powerpoint presentations on the same topic (another group also elected to try the new method), I have been converted to to new style. Not converted enough to actually buy the book, but definitely enough to convince Theresa to use it in her upcoming presentation on Genetically Modified food. Her presentation is also pretty slick, and will definitely blow everyone else in her class out of the water. Look out Nash!

Here are a couple of slides from both Theresa and my presentations. The first is from Theresa's presentation and is pretty self explanatory. The second is my slide, which accompanies the section in our presentation that discusses how focusing our drug on a certain type of cancer makes it eligible for Fast Track FDA approval and orphan drug status (I debated whether I should include an orphan in the pic: maybe have Oliver driving the sports car)


A Halloween Mistory Solved by the Incredible Sluething of a Pair of UVa Students

So, there appears to be some strange goings-on at an abandoned house near my Grandfather's place in Buena Vista, Va. Pumpkins have been appearing, moving around, and disappearing, black cats prowling, and Ravens flying overhead - all in the weeks immediately preceding Halloween. Well, my Grandfather, being the inquisitive one, has challenged the family to solve the mystery and report our findings. Theresa and I, having consulted UVa's foremost paranormal expert Dr. Spookenstien and researching the history of Buena Vista, wrote this solution:

Randal and Theresa Miller

Daniel Hartson is usually a very obedient student. But after attending Elder Cottle’s Eternal Marriage class at Southern Virginia University, he has become desperate to get married. So desperate, in fact, that all the girls at his school have become weary of his multiple advances and he cannot find anyone to accompany him to the harvest ball. Undeterred, Daniel checks out a book on the dark arts from SVU’s library, and goes about learning a spell that will allow him to summon the spirit of one of SVU’s former students, so that he may take her to the ball.

Sally Crumpkin was the heir to the Virginia’s largest pumpkin empire, Crumpkin Pumpkins. She was a buxom young lady with curly orange hair and a friendly smile who attended Southern Seminary (SVU's predecessor) for almost a year before her mysterious disappearance in 1907. Of the school’s many activities, Sally enjoyed most the croquet matches she played with her friends, which was the very activity was doing the last time anyone ever saw her. During that fateful match, her friend struck her ball and sent it rolling down a hill and in a dark thicket of trees. Sally entered the forest after it.

The Buena Vista Witch was the town’s most feared resident since she first arrived in 1897. After a full 10 years of terrorizing the neighborhood, she concocted a plan to gain immortality. When she was ready to cast her immortality spell, she set up her cauldron in a dark thicket of trees, added various ingredient (including one large pumpkin) to the brew, and begun chatting. The spell was nearly complete when a small red ball entered her sanctuary, followed by a beautiful young redhead. The commotion proved disastrous: the witch mispronounced a critical part of the incantation, which altered the spell. Both the Witch’s and Sally’s spirit became trapped in the pumpkin forever.

Daniel Hartson carefully reads aloud the words from his book, keeping in his mind the image of Sally Crumpkin, whose painting he saw in the school lobby. As he finished the spell, smoke filled his room and the sky above SVU darkens considerably. Brilliant flashes of lightening are the only illumination seen for some time. Daniel faints from the smoke and his classmates run out of their dorms in a panic. When he finally awakes, the school had calmed down. Daniel was disappointed to see in his room, not a beautiful girl, but a large and ominous pumpkin.

Little did Daniel know, he had succeeded in summoning summoned Sally Crumpkin. Her spirit, along with the Buena Vista Witch’s, is inside the pumpkin that had appeared in his dorm. The BV Witch, who had already subdued Sally’s spirit, immediately used her magic to overcome Daniel’s will. Under her influence, he took the pumpkin and moved into the abandoned house that was once occupied by his foe. Once there, BV Witch began to gather her strength for All Hallows Eve, when she will escape from her prison. Meanwhile, because of Daniel and Sally’s mutual captivity, they are able to communicate and soon fall in love. If only there was some brave soul who could defeat the Witch and free the lovers from her spell before it is too late.

The End


I have created a list of friends blogs, many of whom have linked to this blog. If you would like me to link to your blog or remove a link I have posted, please let me know.


Do They Know It's Halloween?

I sure hope they do, or else they might think that Theresa and my costumes reflected the way we really dress. This year, we decided to dress up as the most frightening thing that we could think of: Emo kids! (For those who have not been to high school in the last little while, Emo is a horrible genre of music consisting of 20 or 30 something guys who still think they are 16 and whine-sing about their latest girl trouble. see Dashboard Confessional, Something Corporate). The idea just came to me on Saturday, and we just went with it. Overall, I thought our costumes were good, although I was a little uncomfortable in those pants!

So, newly emo-ed, Theresa and I set out last night and had a great time with a bunch of kids who definitely did know it was Halloween. At least I hope they knew it was Halloween, since they set up an elaborate haunted house, which would be strange if they thought it was easter. The house itself was great, but one thing that was missing was Daniel Harker, who was Theresa's 'ol haunted house buddy: when they went to one in Edmonton a few years ago, Danny H would alway cower behind Theresa, and then scream and scream when something jumped out at them. I actually think they had a TV in the works, where those two would travel the world investigating haunted houses, screaming and running around for an hour a week. Its a shame NBC dropped it at the last minute--too frightening for children, they said.

After the haunted house, we then headed for the Law School's Halloween party, but it appears the police forgot it was Halloween and had showed up to take the 'trick' out of 'trick or treat.' So we decided to just keep walking by. All and all, good fun. No picnic in the graveyard, but you can only expect so much, right?

The title of this post, by the way, comes from my favorite Halloween Songs:


The Stars Were Out In Full Glory At DC's 9:30 Club

In the first year of Law School, they scare you half to death, in the second they work you half to death, and in the third they bore you half to death. I heard this statement recently and have decided that it presents a very accurate portrayal of my life; so, while last year I must have been too frightened to post every few days, currently, with my job search, moot court, Health Law Association, and classes, there seems to be precious little time to share my life with all of you.

That being said, Theresa and I did manage to find enough time to drive up to DC and attend last night's Stars concert with the Cummings. For months, Theresa and I have been talking up this concert, so when the night finely arrived, Katy and Aaron must have had the impression that it would be the defining moment of their entire lives. Needless to say, we were quite nervous that the show would not be as good as we promised. But it was. There was just as much over-the-top theatrics and amazing music as we had described. One reason we love Stars is that the male singer, Torque, is much more of a diva than the female (Amy Milan, who showed off her amazing voice last night), and he certainly lived up to his reputation last night, over-acting like a drama-kid who never really grew up. At least he used a hand-made t-shirt that said "I 'heart' Menomena," apologized to the band he accidently insulted during his diva-spat with Pitchfork Media.

The Concert was actually broadcast on npr, so you can listen to it here. You might even be able to hear us cheer.

And to continue living up to our goal of only eating at restaurants that we cannot find in Edmonton (ie. no nation-wide chains), we all went to Ben's Chili Bowl, a famous little hole-in-the-wall establishment that serves amazing chili and plays old-school rap. The place, which is apparently quite famous, is frequented by movie stars, and, as of last night, us as well.


Law Student Beach Vacation Almost Ends Trajecally: Sources Say

Do law students even get vacations?! This is probably the question that came to your mind upon glancing at the post title above, and I am happy to inform you that yes, fortunately there are a few dates that UVa law has set aside as a break from studies. One of these breaks was last week, so Theresa and I, along with a troupe of four other law student families (ranging from 1Ls to 3Ls) pounced on the opportunity to catch a few sun rays and relax after what has proven to be a busy month of school in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And let me tell all of you who chose not to join us, did you ever miss out. The weather was perfect, the water was warm, the beaches were not crowded and the company was brilliant (Since wacthing a couple of Brittish movies in the last little while, I have decided to pick up a little UK slang, so I use 'brilliant' in a general sense - without, of course, insinuating that our companions were anything less than intelligent).

The trip was not entirely without incident, though, and danger presented itself in the guise of powerful riptides which carried more than one of us off course and shark sightings that may or may not have be imaginary (and fueled by our watching YouTube footage of shark attacks). Fortunately, all of us escaped the treacherous ocean and the world was spared the misfortune of loosing any aspiring lawyers.


This Entry is Irevelant

Today was my second, off-brief round in the prestigious William Minor Lile Moot Court Compitition, and not only am I glad that it is over (for now), but I think it went pretty well. Not one to toot my own horn (although now that I am in America, I should probably get myself into the habit), but if I were asked to give an objected, unbiased recount of how I did tonight, I would have to respond in a police yet authoritative tone that I pretty much nailed that thing better than the Paslode F350S PowerMaster Plus air powered framing nailer. I was calm, well organized, efficient and tighter than a Vise Grip 10" Metric Quick Adjusting Wrench. It was a nice improvement over last week.

I do have to say, though, that the most awkward minutes in this competition are not those spent at the podium, but those that fill the time when the judges are deliberating, and the competitors must wait outside and try to feign a friendly competition, when all you really want to say to your opponent is something like "You call that a rebuttal?! I can't believe that you would even attempt to counter that amazing argument I made." I will however, note here that my opponent did a superb job in his rebuttal, as well as his main argument. My compliments to him.

And in completely unrelated news: I AM SO EXITED FOR THE NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM. It certainly was a nice surprise to discover today that the new album, which looked to be delayed for another year will, in fact, be released in only 10 days. And that they are slamming another nail (with the Paslode F350S, probably) in the record industry's coffin is, like the album, priceless.


This Post is Moot

Anyone in my immediate family could tell you that I like to argue, and it's true. While in my formative years, I would argue about any and every topic under the sun, whether or not I agreed with the position I advocated and regardless of the amount of knowledge (or lack thereof) I had on the topic. In High School, I once, without knowing anything about Intellectual Property, argued for the complete elimination of copyrights (information wants to be free!) with my mother, who was taking a graduate class on the topic. Unfortunately, I have not been able to continue my near constant debates with Theresa because her responses to my theoretical sparring (usually consisting of pokes and/or tickles) are just too persuasive to rebut.

Fortunately for my internal advocate (some people have inner children, I have an internal attorney - I like to piture him as a cute little toddler with a suit and briefcase), the annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition began here at UVa this month, and last night I had the great pleasure of participating in my first oral argument. Sure, the judges posed much more difficult questions than my sisters, who quickly grew tired of my uninvited debates, but I was also more prepared than I was back when I took on arguments simply because I could not let any statement of opinion go unopposed. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous, and once during my response I was convinced that I must have sounded just like Miss Teen South Carolina, but all and all, I think I did OK.

And for all of you who believe that Moot Court is pointless (ahem, ANG see back page thumbs down), you really have to get in touch with your inner advocate.


Primer: Canadian Indie Rock

While I don't usually don't post to merely tell you about something someone else has written, preferring instead to only encourage reading what I have written, this following article is so important, I believe everyone needs to look it over at least once.

Primer: Canadian Indie Rock


More Existential than Kierkegaard and Nietzsche Put Together

I have briefly mentioned before how much I like albums that are created as a complete whole, instead of three-minute pop songs that are created as much to sell ring-tones as they are to convey an artistic expression. A good album, much like a novel or movie, should present a continuous whole, designed to be enjoyed from beginning to end, with a distinct opening, middle, climax and conclusion, with the songs building off of and referring to each other to create a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts.

My previous two musical obsessions, Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover, and Frog Eyes' Tears of the Valedictorian where just such albums, but my current infatuation takes the whole "album as a whole" thing a bit further than these. Toronto's Rock Plaza Central's album Are We Not Horses is a concept album so ridiculously outrageous that it could justifiably be mentioned in the same sentence as Rush's 2012, or Supertramp's Crime of the Century (and of course, any sentence mentioning Supertramp should also include the words 'totally awesome'). The album is about, and get this, six-legged, mechanical horses who, during the great war between the humans and angels, believe they are actually real horses, and the existential dilemma that ensues when their allies, the humans, try to tell them that they are not. Add into the mix a poignant love story between an angel and one of these mechanical horses and a singer who sounds like he has no business perusing a music career, and you've got yourself the best darn album I've heard in a while. (Well, at least since I listened to Random Spirit Lover a few weeks ago).

And if that is not enough to rush out to your local record store and purchase this equine masterpiece, check out this non-horse-related music video for their wonderful single, which features one of Canada's great home-grown children's shows, Nanalan:

My Children Be Joyful
The MP3 is here


Stand Proud, Loonie, Stand Proud

Congratulations Canadian Dollar! For the first time in my life, you have regained your previously lofty position as the stronger (or, at least equal) of the two North American Dollars! It looks like you're not so loony any more. Maybe this will help convince some of our American friends who believe otherwise that Canada is indeed part of the G8.

But, because I have been accused by Theresa of always painting too rosy of a picture of my beloved motherland and not presenting the more balanced opinion that she prefers to give out (which is not because she loves Canada any less - if anything, she is more patriotic than I, but I guess a little more realistic), I point you to this objective article in the Globe and Mail.


Run Free High Horse! You Are No Longer Needed!

I caved, and I cannot be more ashamed of myself. After months of announcing of Theresa and I's proud, TV-less existence, the Miller family home is now bathed in the glow of the infinite cathode-ray tube wasteland that is television. Although "infinite" is probably not the most accurate description of our situation, though, since have merely boughten an antenna and therefore, only receive about 5 channels.

I place the blame our recent decent off of our high horse squarely on the shoulders of one man, and that man is Micheal Scott. "But" you protest, "Micheal Scott is a fictional character." And to that I reply, "Precisely... precisely."

The only reason we have succumb to this depravity is so we can tune in for the new season of "The Office," after recently viewing the entire third season on DVD. Oh well, its hard to be too righteous. (And of course, considering the total lack of quality entertainment that can be provided by television, I doubt we will be watching it much)


The New Broken Social Sc... No Wait, Kevin Drew Album

Randal: I would wager that most people who are anticipating the new album Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew, Spirit If... are more excited about the Broken Social Scene Presents part than the Kevin Drew part. And yes, with Kevin (one of the leaders of the broken scene) and a slew of Broken Scenesters as guests, this new album does sound like a new Broken Social Scene album. But (and I am showing my true Canadian Indie Rock nerd status here) I would say that it sounds more like a KC Accidental* album. The music is a lot more mellow than BSS's recent outings, and it has the low-key feel of a post rock album, but with Kevin's (and a whole bunch of other people's) vocals all over it. But it just goes to show what I've been saying all along: Broken Social Scene (and in this case, Kevin Drew) has created a whole new genre: post post rock! But do I like it? Sure: 3.5/5.

*KC Accidental was the band, formed by Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin, that later evolved into Broken Social Scene.

Theresa: I enjoyed this Broken Social... oh no wait, I mean Kevin Drew album. I was kind of disappointed that BSS would choose to showcase Kevin Drew first, seeing as he is always quite prominent on their albums. I mean there are a lot of other amazing members in BSS that don’t get the recognition they deserve. I do like how he had a lot of guests on this album (most of them from another band that rhymes with croken social scene), my favourite has to be Tom Cochrahn, Canada’s bad boy (well he really isn’t that bad: he has done stuff for AIDS in Africa, and he sings that “So this is Christmas" song; but he also has messy hair and wears jeans, which is about as bad as you can get in Canada). All in all it was an ok album. 4.5/7 (3.2/5).


UVa Has No Class (or at least, only has as much class as any other school)

Approximately one year ago, I rousingly gave my approval to UVa's policy of wearing ties and/or sun dresses to football games. At that time I did add the qualification that this policy is being replaced by another, much less classy dress code of orange T-shirts, but noticed at the games I attended, the tie and dress wearing students still represented a respectable percentage of the crowd. This year, however, I am sad to report that significantly less students opted on continuing that noble tradition, and even the stadium's giant score board sent out an overt t-shirt promoting message to the masses. Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you, and I myself will gladly admit that a t-shirt, whatever the color, will keep any football fan much cooler than a dress shirt and slacks, but I see this change as yet another step away from the romantic age of yesteryear and towards an uncreative, conformist and overly informal future. What happened to individualism? Where did our sense of style go? Alas, it appears to have washed away in that ever encroaching sea of orange that is so vigorously promoted by UVa's athletic department, which, having already sucked a fair amount of class from this scholarly institute already, is probably now planning up ways to add more evidence against creationism by encouraging sports fans to hoot and hollar and generally act very similar to our less-evolved simian relatives. But, then again, I guess sports fans already do that...

And speaking of apes, as you may have deduced with you expanded capacity for rational thought, Theresa and I had the pleasure of attending UVa Football's home opener this Saturday, if for no other reason but to introduce my Canadian wife to the spectacle that is (American) College Football, which I myself had only first experienced last September. All and all, it was an enjoyable afternoon, despite my previous comments, and as was observed to me, you haven't really experienced the USA until you have experienced College Football.


There's No Fighting In The War Room!

And now, a special sneak peak into what goes on during a top secret officers meeting in any one of the numerous law school's student organizations (assuming, of course, that there actually are meetings, as opposed to the President dumping all of the work onto one poor soul to do completely herself):

Prez: Ok guys, we have a new year upon us and a bunch of gullible 1Ls who signed up willy-nilly for our mailing list, mainly because the felt obligated after taking our free candy at the activities fair. We've got to rope them in before some other indistinguishable club takes 'em!

VP: Right! I say, we hold a welcoming activity the first week of classes and lure them all in with promises of free BBQ/Pizza/Sandwiches etc.

Secretary: Yeah, but isn't every other organization doing the same thing during that same week?

Prez: Who cares! We'll just take all of their free time--Law students will do anything to get ahead!

All: Mwa Ha Ha Ha!

That being said, our Health Law Association Fall Kick-off went off amazingly. We had a bunch of 1Ls who were really interested in Health Law show up, and Professor Riley and I were able to introduce them to what UVa has to offer in this area. And of course, we ate some good wraps and some delicious brownies.

And tonight is the RELLS opening social...


Labour With a "U"

Happy Labour Day Folks (and that is labour with a 'u'). I am currently celebrating this, the final long weekend of summer labouring in the law school, mostly trying to get this Health Law Association Kick-Off off the ground. But do not fear, Theresa and I will not allow this important holiday to go unrecognized, and will be heading off of a picnic later today.

And speaking of picnics, we would like to personally thank (or really, inpersonally thank, since I am doing it on a public blog) Katy and Aaron for the wonderful birthday party they invited us to last Saturday. Theresa and I stood up and showed all of the Americans present that us Canadians are not all wimpy pacifists by together calling upon that great Canadian strength build up by throwing hay bales and surviving -40 weather, and violently cracked open the pinata with two mighty swoops, spilling the contained treasures to the ground. I also was able to effectuate a stunning come-from-behind croquet victory, which despite some theories, was not because us Canadians have more respect for the Queen. Rather, I won because I am pretty much amazing at everything I do.


Back To School

My second year has begun, and here at UVa, this means that I have essentially graduated from Jr. High and moved up to plain-ole regular High. And by this I mean that we are no longer herded around from class to predetermined class with the same set of fellow students, but get the chance to strike out on our own and create a unique schedule. So yes, Section J and I have to now part ways, but not without the fond memories to remember each other by. As of now, I'd say it was a fairly easy break-up, and we are definitely still going to be friends (its not even weird when we see each other in the hallway, or, say at the Section J Welcome Back BBQ). Hopefully our relations will stay congenial, and that I will not have to sometime in the future throw myself a pity-party and dump all of my Section J pictures into a garbage can of flames. But I digress. As of now, my 2L classes are quite satisfactory, but with my courses in Criminal Investigation and Evidence, an outside observer might think that I am on the track to a fulfilling carrier in Criminal Law rather than my previously stated aims at Life Sciences (at least my patent class is on course).

And speaking of Life Sciences, us at the Health Law Association experienced a very pleasing turn out at this year's Activities Fair where we, as well as every other club here at UVa, took a note from the firms attending OGIs and gave away candy and other paraphernalia to lure unsuspecting students to our booth. Unfortunately, our budget did not allow us to purchase those HLA-branded flash drives I wanted and those light up pens we ordered did not come in on time. So we just had to stick to the basics of sun-melted mini-chocolate bars, in the hope that our unhealthy treats will further fuel this nation's obesity epidemic an insure us health lawyers plenty of work for years to come


Trick or Treat?!

We are in the middle of a severe drought. And yet it rained quite heavily last night. In fact, there has been a couple of rain storms this week, and some the previous as well, whose occurrences, along with my observations that Virginia’s plentiful vegetation are green and the soil is still a little damp, has served to teach me a little more about my adopted home: apparently, it doesn’t actually have to be dry for there to be a drought in Virginia. But maybe the problem isn’t so much the lack of rain as much of it being that the moisture comes in discrete bursts; you know – when it rains it pours.

And speaking of a sudden deluge after weeks of relatively little activity, on grounds interviews have begun here at UVa Law. And for those of you who don’t know what this it about, what happens is that hundreds of Law firms come to the school from all over the country to interview us second and third year students in 20 minute intervals for summer positions. This humble author will have at least 23 interviews by the time this week is done, with as many as 8 occurring on the same day. But I, for one, will not join my similarly situated classmates in complaining of the long hours and numerous firms to keep straight, because really, if you look at it in the right way, OGIs can be fun. Yes, I know you may be shocked to read the phrase “OGIs can be fun,” probably for the first time in your life, but hear me out:

OGIs are a lot like Halloween. Although I have previously compared law school interviews to speed dating (and I do not retract this metaphor) this time around I have come to the shocking realization that OGIs bear a striking resemblance to everyone’s favorite pagan celebration. I make this comparison because, just like on the 31st of October, us interviewing students get all dressed up and go from door to door collecting treats from people who we do our very best to win over without making fools of ourselves in the process. That’s right, as far as I can see it, the main objective of these short meetings of forced geniality is to give us students on last chance to collect treats, which include in this case, handfuls of branded trinkets of varying usefulness: highlighters, mini-staplers, flash drives, decks of cards, key chains, note pads, pens, light-up bouncy balls, and of course, candy (the most halloweenish of all promotional items). And at the end of the day, I come home and dump out my computer bag so that Theresa and I can check out my loot and add it to the growing pile. Now if only there was a crotchety old firm (who would probably represent the dental lobby) giving out toothbrushes instead of candy, my Halloween memories would be completely reenacted. All that will be left is for a group of frustrated Law students to attack a particularly unpopular firm’s interview room with eggs and toilet paper. And being at UVa, this wouldn’t even be too surprising.


No, You're a Geeky Baby!

It seems that, based on the number of times that I have taken my relatives - who have all chosen August as the time to visit 'ol sunny Virginia - around the main grounds and through the law school, that I should update my resume to include "full time UVa tour guide." And of course, this being interview time, anything that can give my resume a little boost will be more than welcome.

But anyway, Theresa and I had a second opportunity to visit with Brent and Jodie's kids, however, this time, the parents were also in attendance. On Saturday the whole gang, as well as Grandma and Grandpa, came up to C-ville for a picnic and a tour of our little town. And for Theresa and I, this meant another energy-filled afternoon with Addy, Ben and Matt - and this meant, as any of my relatives could probably guess, hours and hours (and hours) at the pool. I am surprised that those kids have not grown gills due to all of the time they spend in the water. Highlights include Matt's Nirvana-baby-dive (he he always jumps into the pool belly first and sprawled out like the baby on Nirvana's Nevermind album cover), Ben's shockingly loud screams (it turns out that both Theresa and I are, in fact, geeky babies) and Addy's utter enthrallment of a Japanese game show that we flipped to in the hotel last week. We did find that, although we have received condolences from other relatives that we had to actually look after that wild bunch all by ourselves, the kids were not nearly as bad as their reputation. Sure, they had energy to spare, but they really aren't bad kids at all. That being said, I think Theresa and I would be happy to go on a little bit more without children of our own.


One of Those Horrible Clip Shows, But in Blog Form

Seeing how this blog called “Adventures in a Strange and Distant Land,” I feel it appropriate to announce that I have been in this weird and far-off place for an entire year. It seems hard to believe that it has been twelve whole months since I was hanging out in our less-than-luxurious apartment just off of 99th Street in Edmonton, listening to the non-stop roar of that busy street’s traffic and trying to finish off that large sack full of corn that Thersesa’s parents had so graciously brought us up from Taber, the Corn Capital of Canada. And me, not being one to shy away from nostalgia, would like to proceed with a brief month-to-month summary of this intrepid adventurer’s journey that has led me to where I am now.

Aug: the night immediately following a Wolf Parde/Frog eyes concert with my good friend and ex-roommate, Petey, our hero and his wife set of on a cross-continent trip that was very shortly interrupted by the hard-working Montana port officials who thought the Canadian wife of a duel-citizen student was much to suspicious of a character to allow across the border without a visa. So, this adventurer was left on his own to face the crushing boredom of Montana and North Dakota, the demoralizing gridlock of Chicago and the suffocating humidity of the mid-Atlantic. And then school began.

Sept-Oct: This adventurer spent probably the loneliest days of his short life holed up in his half-furnished apartment, trying to gain control of that freight train called Law School, wrestling with the immigration department (thanks to the vastly appreciated help of UVa’s international students office and his uncle Roger), and speaking to his dear sweet wife, who had been forced back home, husbandless, years after moving away, every night. Feeling uncomfortable with the couples in his ward, these months also introduced our hero to the frat-like lifestyle of his fellow students, complete with football tailgates, beer-pong, and, of course, softball.

Nov: Finally marshalling enough resources to make another run for the border, Theresa made a daring trip to Toronto, on the hope that the border patrol in this part of the country would be kinder than their Montana brethren, not having any assurance of success and without any concrete plans in case of failure. Fortunately, she proved to be just as valiant as husband and was able to complete her journey to Charlottesville and spend the next month as a visitor to this great capitalist nation.

Dec-Jan: After (barely) surviving his first round of Law School exams, our hero and his wife traveled back to the blistering Alberta winter for a relaxing Christmas break, happy to visit with their families and see many old friends from their college days.

Feb: Having to stay behind once again because of various immigration details that had to be completed in Canada, Theresa set about preparing for her upcoming interview while our hero makes his triumphant return to UVa Law and begins his 1L job search, landing early the position he was most wanted to score: researching for professor Riley in the field of biotech law and bioethics. Meanwhile, Theresa is off to the east once more, this time braving more than one horrendous blizzard in order to attend her Visa interview in Montreal (that lasted no more than 5 minutes – yeah 7 months of waiting for a 5 minute interview) and then continue on to her new home in the Old Dominion as an official US Permanent Resident.

Mar-May: The newly reunited family finally acquaintances themselves with the other couples in the ward and sets about beginning a normal life together, which, for our hero, means actually purchasing such items as a bed and garbage cans etc and finding time amidst the hours that he spends with his wife to actually finish his first year of law school.

Jun-Aug: With Theresa working at the student health center and our hero neck deep in the latest articles on synthetic biology and animal transgenesis, the new family enjoys a relaxing summer visiting their grandparents, exploring Virginia and welcoming their parents and other extended families. And of course, preparing to begin all over again…


consume consume CONSUME!

One interesting result of only watching TV on very limited occasions (ie. in the laundry room) is that the ads seem to have become more salient to me. And by this I mean that I am noticing how incredibly contrived and obnoxious they are. At first I thought that there is this parallel universe out there were people just care so much about their stuff, like their possessions are the most important things to these people, who just can't get enough of talking about their newest lawn mower or fast food hamburger. Upon further reflection, I realize that these commercials don't really depict an alternate universe - just the United States. (OK sure, Canada is pretty much just as materialistic as the US, but the point I am trying to make here is that in the States, they take their consumption culture just a little bit further than their northern neighbors. For example, they seem to commodify everything - even health care and education).

But anyways, to further my newfound distaste for all things advertising, I ran across a couple of interesting articles. The first details a study that found children like food better if it comes in a McDonald's wrapper and the second discusses a new trend of designing ads that have nothing to do with the product offered, but are rather psychologically designed to capture people's attention (such as the dancing alien that is often used to advertise mortgage rates). And then there is this whole Baby Einstein case, where the ads a pretty much flat-out lies. I just think it is kind of sad that much of our academic studies in psychology are being put to use to sell the latest tennis show, which is 95% identical to its competitor.

But good news! There is a personal cure to such rampant commercialism: DON'T BUY CRAP THAT YOU DON'T NEED (and by this I include probably 3/4 of the stuff most Americans buy).

Whoah, got a little preachy there for a second. Sorry about that - I just get a little annoyed with society sometimes.


Rides Slides and Waves

Having had such a delightful few days this past weekend, it would be a shame for our adventures to not be trumpeted accross the electronic superhiway via this very blog. You see, Theresa and I, knowing that the dog days of summer are nearly past, took it upon ourselves to skip work for a day and head out onto the open road for an end-o-the-summer mini-vacation.

The first stop on said outing was not in fact coordinated by us. For my Uncle and Aunt has come to the old dominion for their own vacation, and subsequently took off to New York, leaving their three kids in the care of their and my grandparents. So then, what is there for my Grandparents to do, but continue the time-honored tradition of spoiling their grandkids - in this case, by taking them to King's Dominion, a amusment/waterpark just North of Richmond. And since I am a grandchild of said grandparents, and because they needed back-up from a couple who is willing to brave the larger rollar-coasters with the elder of the children, Theresa and I were invited to come along. And let me tell you, I don't know if Addy Ben and Matt even had as much fun as Theresa and I did running from ride to ride, and even snapping a quick photo of Dora the Explorer to be used in impressing Theresa's 3 year old neice (much to the embarrasment of our 11 year old cousin, who is much too cool to be seen with Dora). In all, we spent over 10 hours, split between the rides and the slides (waterslides that is).

The next day, setting out from a Richmond hotel the we shared with our cousins, Theresa and I next travelled to Virginia Beach for a day of relaxation following that rollar-coaster of a Friday the day previous. Now, Virginia Beach is a nice beach with good sand and warm water, and Theresa particularly enjoyed not only setting eyes on the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, but jumping right in and playing in its waves. All and all, we had a good time, especially walking along the shore, hand-in-hand, watching the multitude of visitors there to enjoy the sun and surf. It was particularly interesting (in a saddening yet amusing way), watching the little kids at the edge of the tide-line building their sand castles, only to have them come crashing down when the waves reach the point where they had originally deemed safe enough for construction and while the constructors desperatly, and ultimatly vainly, trying to sheild their creations from the ever-encroaching onslaught of the unstoppable forces of nature. And, as another, unrealated observation, I can confindintly say that the Canadian Girls were definatly the most attractive of any in Virginia Beach, at least judging from the one whose nationality I could difinatively accertain.

So yeah, we had a great weekend - so much so that we did something that we have never done before and I thought we would never do on our many trips on this side of continent and the other: We bought a souvenir. That's right, it was a spiral sea shell that cost under $3.00, designed to be the crown jewel in our shell collection that we collected on the beach of Vancouver Island on our honeymoon and currently have proudly displayed in our living room. So come over and check it out sometime.


A Boatload of Fun

Any of you who have had the pleasure of signing up of On-Grounds Interviews with Law Firms could join with me in attesting that it is not always the most enjoyable experience. Especially when you are searching the NALP directory for Law Firms' hiring policies and you see the yet another standard listing that says something like this:

"The application process for [name any law firm] is very competitive... superior academic credentials, particularly with respect to law school grades and class rank, and excellent written and oral communication skills, are required... demonstrated leadership skill, strong motivation, good judgment, the ability to work well with others, an interest in community involvement... etc etc."

This is, of course, particularly troubling if, like me, you are a born follower, completely lack motivation of any kind, have terrible judgment, always end up fighting with your co-workers and absolutely detest the community. (Note to Legal Employers: the above self-description was merely made for comedic purposes, and does not reflect in any way the true dispositions of its author).

But every once and a while, even the most desperate Law Student gets a breath of fresh air. Mine came when I read the following hiring criteria from an actual Law Firm:

Able to leap tall buildings in a... no wait, that is for our superhero opening. For lawyers, you must be smart (but not talk about it all the time), hardworking, energetic, motivated (that is not a code word for "cut-throat"), have lots of interests, enthusiastic, and have no significant enemies. If you do have enemies, we would prefer it if they are not armed. Celebrity status a plus unless you are the loser in the Who-Wore-It-Best feature of a tabloid magazine

Now, I don't know about you, but this looks like the place for me, especially since I will probably be able to eliminate my top enemies by the end of the year and I defiantly wore that Dolce & Gabbana top better than Jenifer Aniston. And besides, any Firm who openly describes themselves as "a boatload of fun" just seems like my kind of place.


Lies, Lies, And More Lies, And Records

Just the other day, during my daily perusal of CNN.com, I discovered, much to my shock and disappointment, the that lonelygirl15, the popular video-blog about the life of an average 16 year-old, was in fact (get this) fake! Yeah, I know, this is old news, but it came as a shock to me to find out that good 'ol lonelygirl, which whom I'd shared the last year of my life, laughing and crying at her adventures with school plays and dating, was all just an elaborate lie. I couldn't be more outraged. To think a bunch of actors would stoop to such lows as to fooling us sentimental youtube watchers just to get a bit of publicity! But... this news has prompted me to make a confession myself. Let it now be known that this blog you are now reading is also completely contrived. That's right, I don't love "Sunset Rubdown," I've never eaten at "Aqui es Mexico," and I don't even actually go to "Law School." In fact, there is not even such a place as "The University of Virginia." I hope this news does not influence you all to stop reading, for even though my adventures may be fake, they come from the heart. And so, to continue on my quest to gain international fame and glory, I bring to you this next post on a topic, which I am quite confident that not even a single one of my readers cares much about at all:

This weekend, Theresa and I happened upon which soon proved to be another find in this great town of ours. This find is none other than a small little record store just off the downtown mall called Sidetracks (218 W Water). It is owned and operated by a helpful guy who still listens to his turntable but is up on the new scene (he happened to be playing Spoon that day). He taught me a little about caring for my own record player and chatted a bit about some new indie bands. All and all, a much more pleasant experience than going into larger music stores like Plan 9, which are staffed by a bunch of apathetic kids or iTunes, which is staffed by no one at all. Now, I know that unauthorized downloading and online music retailers have all but consigned the record store to distant memory, but let me assure you that there are ample reasons to check out your neighborhood music shop, especially an independently owned one like Sidetracks (Or if you're in Edmonton, Blackbyrd Myoozik, 10442 82 Ave):
1.) Vinyl Records have a (much) better sound quality than MP3s and will, if properly cared for, last forever
2.)CDs also boast a better sound quality than MP3s and are DRM-free (their prices are also falling)
3.) Most (good) albums are designed to be listened to as an entire entity, not just as randomized singles.
4.) Visiting iTunes just doesn't have the same charm as going to a little store and flipping through album covers
5.) Vinyls are collectors items
6.) You'll be supporting a local business


It will be difficult for me to write an objective review of the new Sunset Rubdown Record Random Spirit Lover because I absolutely love everything the band has done. Imagine trying to get an unbiased opinion about the Boston Red Sox from a die-hard fan. But I will try:

Sunset Rubdown: Random Spirit Lover
Sunset Rubdown's music is like a runaway stage coach widely careening from one bizarre soundscape to another, all with Spencer Krug's manic, Bowie-esque vocals at the helm, and this new album is no exception. In the case of Random Spirit Lover, Krug takes us on an adventure reminiscent of Alice and Wonderland, but set in the eighties and lit exclusively by neon lights (the album art does a wonderful job of capturing this mood). This record takes Sunset Rubdown another step towards full-band maturity, since it includes not only wild tunes that would fit nicely on a Frog Eyes record, but some nice ballads and a greater presence of Camilla Wynne Ing. Overall, I loved it (could I have possibly said anything else) and highly recommend it to anyone willing leave reality behind and plunge into the rabbit-hole. 5/5 (naturally)

T: I think the new sunset rubdown record... well I like it just about as much as I like old sunset rubdown. I have to admit that it can be too much for me at times, but for the most part listening to the new album has been pleasant. There is one song on the album that I quite enjoy, mostly because it reminds me of my childhood love for David Bowie. This song [Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns] immediately conjures up a nightmarish image of David Bowie, dressed as the Goblin King [from The Labyrinth], chasing me through an old timey house of mirrors, trying to steal my poor baby brother. To conclude, I thought the album was good. 3.83/7 [2.76/5]

Check out this new song, Up On Your Lepord, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days, which captures the album's essence quite well.