Grammar and Usage Rules that Aren’t

An abstract image of crumpled fabric.
Monotype, 2004.

As a lawyer, writer, and general nerd, I consider myself a bit of a grammar and usage stickler.  Language is always changing, though, and there are many rules to keep straight, so when I’m not sure about something, I look it up.  That’s what I did recently when I came across a post on social media declaring that people shouldn’t use the word “entitled” when they really mean “titled” (when referring to the name of a book, for example).  This person vehemently insisted that a book could not be “entitled” anything, but could only be “titled.”  It turns out he was wrong, though I’m not sure he could be convinced. Read more

How to Pack for a Two-Week Vacation with Only a Carry-On

A carry-on-size suitcase, tote bag, and water bottle - all you need for your vacation

In response to my last post, several people expressed surprise at my ability to pack for an international vacation with only a carry-on suitcase. As a follow-up, I thought I’d share some details about how I pack. Most of my longer trips have been in the summer, and some of these tips apply best to warm-weather travel, but others are useful year-round.

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The Bar Exam: Perspective and Self-Care

A stack of law books

Across the United States, recent law school graduates have begun studying for the bar exam, a two-day (sometimes three-day) test offered during the last week of July and also in February).  Each state gives its own version of the exam, which usually includes a day of tricky multiple choice questions and a day consisting of some combination of essay questions, short answer questions, and a closed-universe performance test.  Intensive test-prep courses usually begin in late May, and many test-takers study full-time and then some.

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Learning a New Language: Why You Should Do It, and How to Get Started

A word cloud of Greek words from a newspaper article

As I mentioned last weekend, I recently began studying the Greek language.  My husband and his family (who hail from Athens) had previously taught me a few basic words, but until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t tried to learn the language in any disciplined way.  The main reason is that my husband and his mother, sister, and brother-in-law all speak English, so I can communicate with them just fine in my own native language.

Still, that felt a bit lazy on my part.  And now that we are planning a trip to Greece, I want to be able to read street signs, say hello to any non-English speakers I encounter, and ask the kinds of questions one often needs to ask when traveling.  My husband will be there to translate for me, but there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from being able to speak and read at least some of the local language when traveling.

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Reflections on Time and Impermanence

Still life painting of photos arranged on a tabletop
Neoma, 2005.

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” -Confucius

My second life began when I was twenty-six. I at once became keenly aware of how short life is, how it can end suddenly, how none of us is promised tomorrow. This realization was not triggered by a near-death experience or the loss of someone close to me. It came about in the aftermath of divorce, while struggling to build a life for myself and to sculpt an identity. It arose during months of counseling sessions, self-reflection, trying to lift myself out of the hole of depression. I read the words of Eckhart Tolle, echoing the sentiments of the Buddha and other wise people over the millennia: “the present moment is all you have.”

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Sources for Legal News and Analysis

As you’ve probably realized, this is not a law blog.  I’ve previously written about why I can’t comment on controversial legal and political issues.  As a judicial staff member, I’m governed by ethics rules that prohibit me from opining on legal issues that may come before my court. The ethics folks take these restrictions seriously. I once attended a training in which the speaker said it would be unethical to post a recent Supreme Court decision on social media with nothing more than the comment “interesting case.”

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The Last Man on Earth: What Would You Do?

A rugged, uninhabited mountain landscape

One of my favorite TV shows right now is The Last Man on Earth.  The show’s premise is that a viral outbreak has killed nearly all people and animals, save a few who were immune or unexposed.  At the beginning of the show, we meet Phil Miller, who’s been traveling the country trying to find other survivors after losing everyone he knew.  He’s miserable and lonely, and just when he’s about to give up on life, he meets another survivor, Carol.  As the series progresses, a few others join them.  Phil struggles to adjust to living with people again.  The circumstances bring together dissimilar people who likely would not have crossed paths before the virus, and we watch them try to figure out how to live in this new world.  The show is quirky, funny, creative, and at times poignant, though it’s not as depressing as you might guess.

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Exploring Acupuncture

A calm lake with mountains and blue sky

At the suggestion of a friend, I recently tried acupuncture for the first time.  My friend is a long-time acupuncture patient and enthusiast.  She’s used acupuncture to treat various injuries and ailments and has seen results from it.  I’m undergoing treatment for a medical condition, and she suggested that acupuncture could help.  After doing a little research, I decided it was worth a try.

I tend to be skeptical of alternative medicine.  The world is full of snake-oil salesmen who want to sell us pseudoscientific treatments that seem too good to be true.  Though Western medicine has its flaws, I generally trust doctors and research scientists.  When someone starts talking about things like adjusting the energy flowing through the body, I raise an eyebrow.

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8 Good Reasons to Take a Hike

Lush scene from a hike in the Pacific Northwest

I’m lucky to live in a beautiful place that offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.  This year, my husband and I made a New Year’s resolution to go hiking at least once a month.  We felt like we hadn’t been taking full advantage of the landscape around us, and we thought the resolution would be a good incentive to spend more time together and work our way through our guidebooks to local trails and waterfalls.  We’ve really enjoyed our hikes so far and are looking forward to exploring a new spot this weekend.  If you need some inspiration to hit the trails, here are eight good reasons to get outside.

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Listen to the Music

A pair of wireless ear buds

I’m on year two of my One Line a Day journal, so for the past two and a half months, I’ve received a daily reminder of what I was doing and thinking on that day a year ago.  My March 21, 2016 entry mentioned exchanging favorite Dolly Parton songs with a couple of friends (we were planning a trip to Dollywood) and closed with this line:

“I think listening to music makes me more thoughtful – I should do it more often.”

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