Thursday, October 30, 2008

I think someone in Utah must have invented this

Big Hair for the Masses!! Perfect for that Utah poof.

P.S. I will post pictures from Melissa's wedding as soon as I have a chance to write a lengthy blog post this weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Weekend at the Homestead

So how do you feel about the following....

Mountain Scenery
Long walks in the Virginia Woods
Attorneys from Sullivan and Cromwell
Big band dancing
Naturally heated spring water pools
Facials and massages
White people
Mildly helpful to extremely disinterested service
Equestrian activities
Falconry (I think we have covered this)
Golf shoes
American Clay Tennis Courts
Washington and Lee and University of Virginia graduates
Southern accented conversations of college football
Rocking chairs on Front porches (and an ample variety of seating)

If you answered to any of the above - I love those things! Then a visit to the Homestead in Hot Springs, VA might be in your future. Exhibit the following:

Make sure that you bring your argyle sweater!!

Exhibit the following variety of seating options:

Here we are all dressed up for dinner and dancing. Unfortunately, there was no dancing for us because our server was terrible and always kept us waiting at exactly the moments when the band was playing. It was all very bad timing. Still, we looked pretty great (even if David forgot his tie, almost causing us to be refused service at the restaurant for a violation of the dress code).

Ah yes, very civil indeed.

Deadly Deer Warning

I might worry too much, but I still think that it is good information to know. What is your likelihood of hitting a deer while driving? Well, State Farm has come out with its annual Deer Collision Report to answer that very question. I happened to think about this quite a bit when we were driving in the mountains this weekend.

The state where you are most likely to hit a deer: West Virginia where there is a 1 in 45 chance. The least likely state, Hawaii, where you only have a 1 in 10,962 chance of hitting a deer.

It is a serious issue - 150 people died last year hitting a deer, and total losses to property because of deer collisions totalled more than $1.1 billion dollars.

Here is a nice map of the risk by state.

I will get back to posting pictures of my weekend in the mountains in the next entry.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Presidential and the Sublime

It has been a pretty busy weekend. So busy in fact, that I am going to have to break it up into a few different posts.

On Friday night, David and I went to see the Suzanne Farrell Ballet perform. The evening's performance was entitled "The Balanchine Couple" and featured a number of different pas de deux choreographed by George Balanchine. That would have been enough to make me excited. However, what took this evening from the lovely to the sublime was the opportunity to hear and see Suzanne Farrell herself, the quintessential Balanchine ballerina, narrate and describe each pas de deux. When I was a kid I re-read her autobiography Holding Onto the Air over and over again. I dreamed of seeing her dance. Since she retired in 1989, I never was able to see her dance in person. However, hearing her describe these pieces, some of which were specifically choreographed for her, was the next best thing. And having never have the privilege of dancing a Balanchine ballet myself, I am quite convinced that it will be the first thing that I do when I am resurrected and my body is perfected.

Saturday morning David and I left for our weekend trip. Our destination was the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs Virginia, but I will get to that later. The drive itself was very nice. We were able to make a pit stop at the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson (my favorite President) and his Presidential Museum and Library in Staunton, VA.

It was a beautiful fall day, and Staunton, VA is a lovely small town. It is the perfect place for our most idealistic and most academic of presidents to have been born.Here is his actual birthplace. His father was a Presbyterian minister in Staunton at the time. So this was the manse house for the Presbyterian church located a few blocks away. Here is Woodrow Wilson's presidential limousine. Here is an interesting fact about Woodrow Wilson's family. He had three daughters. His middle daughter got married soon after he became President in a lavish White House ceremony. His youngest daughter married the Secretary of the Treasury a mere six months after his middle daughter got married. His oldest daughter did not marry, but rather became a recording artist and later lived on an ashram in India.

I love the Fourteen Points. I love the League of Nations that Wilson had the courage to create, but failed miserably because other people were too afraid of carrying out Wilson's vision. I always appreciate another opportunity to learn about President Wilson.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Important Falconry Update

You may know about how much I love informing others about important government regulations that may affect them. Well, I thought that I needed to do a general public service today and tell everyone that the Department of Fish and Wildlife Service has finally published changes to Falconry Regulations. What is the most important change, you ask? Well, now you can practice Falconry, the ancient "Sport of Kings", without obtaining a federal permit.

I am sure that this move will inspire intense debate.

Coincidentally, the resort that David and I are going to this weekend, The Homestead, lists falconry as one of its activities.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My Own Fact Checker - Duchess of Devonshire style

Fact Checker websites are all the rage in the political world these days. It appears that all politicians have a problem telling the truth these days. Well, I too want a piece of this truth-telling action. After all, I can't stand people that haven't done their research but fell the need to shoot off their mouths.

So here is my fact checker for the trailer to the movie The Duchess. I have now seen two trailers that essentially state that Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire began life as an ordinary woman. In fact on trailer flashes the words "An Ordinary Woman" and the other one has the voiceover state, "She came from nothing."

Fact Checker: Absolutely False; So false, that this very characterization of Georgiana causes me not to want to see the movie. Georgiana was born a Spencer, her father was the 1st Earl of Spencer, in fact. The daughter of an Earl is hardly was an ordinary woman in 18th Century Regency England. Titled nobles were a tiny segment of the population of England, but who had the good fortune of most of the property of England and the British Isles. Georgiana, being born into wealth property had every advantage that an "ordinary" woman at the time would not have.

I have been going back and forth about going to see this movie. I finally read Amanda Forman's book, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, this summer and still haven't entirely resolved my feelings towards that book. At the same time, I also was reading a biography of Tudor England's Bess of Harwick, who was the matron of the Cavendish family that a few centuries later Georgiana married into. Bess of Hardwick really struck me as a woman before her time. Her wise and prudent investments in financial matters as well as her meticulous eye to protecting all of her legal rights to her property ensured the Cavendish family would have the means to one day become Dukes and Duchesses. Of Bess it could be said that she came from nothing (her family was minor gentry, with a very small estate relative to the Spencers of the 18th century) and built her family's fortune through a series of unfortunate events as well as prudent management and stewardship. In contrast, of Georgiana (as well as her husband, the Duke) it could be said that she did her best to squander the Cavendish fortune through what could safely be called a major gambling addiction and obsession with defining trends in Regency England. Certainly, Georgiana was noteable in 18th Century England for her intense political involvement on behalf of the Whigs. However, Bess' involvement at court on behalf of the fortunes of her family and interests is even more remarkable in the 16th century.

What digusts me about the trailer, and why I probably will not see the movie, is that overly romanticizes the life of a woman, who fundamentally was insecure and frequently made bad decisions. And that trailer absolutely showed that the film is attempting to make Georgiana into a heroine, that may or may not be deserved, but not at all for the reasons why the film trailer suggests.

I am writing a screenplay about Bess of Hardwick. She may not have been known for her beauty or trend-setting like Georgiana, but her prudence and thoughtful decisionmaking truly birthed a dynasty. And that is a far more interesting and long-lasting tale than the fleeting glory of being a fashion trendsetter.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

At Home on the Ninth Floor

This is what our mess has become:

(Note: Our Guest Room still is a little cluttered)

Family and friends - come and visit and you can see it for yourself.

I will even bake Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Just Curious

I realize living in DC has made me suspicious in a whole new way.

There is a police helicopter circling around outside of my window, shining its lights on something a few blocks away. I wonder just what exactly is going on and whether or not I should be concerned for my safety...

Eh, probably just DC...

Write This Now!

I need to be a good academic. However, the part of being a good academic that both excites me and terrifies me the most is publishing. This week at the library we had a meeting to discuss a proposal to help us to work on our research and publishing efforts. The meeting terrified me even more because I am terrified of never writing anything worthy of publication. I love to write. I love to research. I dream about writing very substantive and worthwhile articles or even books. However, I am incredibly self-critical and never believe that anything that I do is good enough to even submit for publication. I tie myself in knots even thinking of topics and research ideas, because I ultimately see them without merit. And yet, in spite of these anxieties, I read the crap that is published in the Law Library Journal sometimes and think, are you kidding me? They published that? I know I can do better than that. Then, I set up my expectations so high for what I believe would be worthy of publication and pass the stupid test, that it is impossible for me to meet them. I feel like if I am not doing something totally unique of transformative, then it is going to be a terrible indictment of my academic capabilities. This is very self-defeating.

Buttercream frosting eases the pain.