21 years and a million miles

Twenty-one years ago, I walked a circle around an M1A1 tank, looking for loose bolts, worn track or broken torsion springs. Then I jump up on the turret and rearranged the equipment in the sponson box so I could get to what I thought I might need without having to expose much of my body to enemy fire. Then I cleaned my .45 for the third time that morning. My crew mates also went through their personal rituals. Two of the four of us weren’t old enough to have a beer at home. So we stacked ammunition and loaded extra magazines.

Twenty-one years ago, I was a high-school dropout serving in the Army to get away from a bad childhood. Everyone else joined up for their own reasons – some good, some noble, some just wanted to escape jail and others, like me just wanted to escape. The military served me well, better than the experience left some of my comrades.

My old roommate went to college and got a commission. He is a Major now. Two of my best friends from those days had a much harder time of it. One never came home. He lives in Texas with his parents, but he never came really came home. Another lives less than four hours away, he has had his struggles, but seems at peace with his life. My old driver, the man who didn’t dismount the tank once that I can recall from the time the first bullet flew until after the cease fire was called, seems happy with a great family.

What brought us to the sands of Saudi Arabia was a varied and twisted path for some. The experience there forged bonds stronger than many families. The men I served with made me become a better man.

One of those men was Spc. Clarence “Johnny” Cash. He served in our scout platoon. When I first enlisted and was sent to Germany, I wasn’t a very good soldier. I met Cash while drinking with some friends. He set an example and taught me a few things. Cash never came home from the desert.

We lost him in combat on February 27, 1991. The ground war ended the next day. I wish I had gotten to know him better. On the second to last day of February every year, I have a beer or a shot, sometimes both, and remember Cash and the others who didn’t come back, didn’t come back whole, or who never really came back.

God bless you, Cash and the others. We, the living and the returned, have a duty to which we must rise up to meet.

Iron Knights!

Nous resterons la.

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12 days til finals

It’s Thanksgiving Day. I did the family thing this morning, watched the Packers decimate the Lions and now I sit in the HyVee Cafeteria studying.

Why the HyVee? Free refills on pop, booths with electrical outlets and it would be too damn depressing to spend the afternoon in the law school library when I have everything I need in my computer or the books I’m carting around.

It would be sad if there wasn’t so much to prep for finals. In 12 days my class faces our first exam. Then three days to the second, four days to the third and two days to the last final of the semester.

12 days. I’ll be ready. The HyVee is open late.

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Just a hair over one week left on the 1L Memo

The discussion section has to be 3,000 words, I can’t write what the memo is about, either because we have been ordered not to discuss it under pain of failure and expulsion, or because I haven’t looked at the assignment yet.

I have to create some artificial deadlines for myself on this memo thing. I am really a deadline writer. My former editors will say I was at my best when all hell broke loose 30 minutes before press time, which is another way of saying deadline writers are pretty much useless when the deadline is a week away.

Right now, I should be researching …. and prepping to answer the burning questions. Instead I read for tomorrow’s contracts class and played a pretty impressive game of spider solitaire.

Realistically, I will complete my research over the weekend. And hammer the thing into shape by Tuesday. But, somehow, I know — I’ll still be playing something until five minutes before it is due. Because after all, nothing happens until just before the deadline.

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Good morning means “It’s my birthday” in spousese

So after several days of thinking my wife was mad because I correctly identified that the chair had four legs in response to the questionable assertion of “Good Morning” she made, I finally found out what “Good Morning” actually meant.

In referring the UCC, a law professor of mine once said, “The words literally don’t mean what they say.”

UCC and wives — both marginally incomprehensible and frequently quite aggrev…. I mean wonderful to spend time with in the quiet of my study.

“Good morning” was code for “It’s my birthday, numbnuts.”

Opps. Don’t know how I could have missed that.

I didn’t get the facebook pop-up reminder that tells me when the second cousin of the chick I didn’t like high school’s birthday is. So in an effort to save face, I say, “Honey, the day isn’t over yet. (Where did I put those keys…) I still have time.”

I reach for my shoes when the voice turns the room cold.

“It was yesterday.”

The ship is going down. I make one last ditch effort to save myself.

“It must be because you don’t look a day over 33.”

“I turned 33.”

I’m just going to go out back and sit with the dog. We don’t have a dog. But if we did, I’d be claiming half the space in dog house.

Move over little dog, cause the big dog’s moving in.

Whelp. Nothing else I can do. Might was well study civ pro. Maybe there’s a motion for “Get my butt out of hot water” in there somewhere…




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11 weeks…

After 11 weeks of law school, I can no longer think like a sane person.

My wife said, “Good Morning.”

Is it really a “good morning?” How do you quantify “good?” Is that better than “okay” or are the two analogous? Is “good” too subjective of a standard to properly categorize morning? How would a reasonable person define “good” in relation to morning? I didn’t step on sharp child’s toys barefoot nor any overnight surprises left in the hallway by cats. Can you — should you define good in the negative? Is it good if something bad has not yet happened? But that implies that good is a constant state of existence unless some outside force acts upon your good morning. Who is this outside actor and would they be liable for infringing on your good morning? What does the Restatement say?

Morning. Is it morning or has the day transitioned into that quasi time sometimes referred to as mid-day. Which time zone is the official record-keeper of morning? Television programs list their starting times as 9/8 central. If that is the rule, then morning ends at 11 a.m. central time, since it is already noon on the East Coast. Unless the mid-day gray area takes affect. Is mid-day a minority jurisdiction rule or a majority? The clock reads 11:05…11:06. Did she make the statement before 11 a.m., which might make her statement correct, or did she ask after 11 a.m. central, in which case her statement is totally inappropriate? I didn’t make a note of the exact time. Okay, assuming her statement was made before 11 a.m. and we are operating under the majority jurisdiction rule of morning ending at Noon/11 Central, then she was technically correct in the statement, which forces evaluation of the next question:

Does an accurate statement of “Morning” require a response under standard common courtesy rules when the speaker is your spouse of several years and the prefix of “good” has no ascertainable authority?

Common courtesy would necessitate an answer according to local custom. Wait. What’s my authority? Crap. I’ll have to look that up. I can’t do it now. She is looking at me. She looks annoyed. Perhaps the custom has policy roots in self-preservation. Go with it. Since local custom and courtesy require an answer, one must be given. However, under Rule 11b I can’t provide an answer that I don’t believe to be factually accurate.  But I am free to amend my answer once within 21 days.

At 11:08, I look up.

“The chair has four legs,” I say, with an aura of confidence. Then I walk out of the kitchen carrying the sugar bowl and leaving my cup of coffee in the fridge where the milk should have gone.

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The doctor was in and I’m out

About 20 years ago, I left the better part of my knee in a mud hole several hundred yards away from a fighting position where my tank crew engaged targets just hours before. It was a miserable, pissy day. Cold. Wet.

It was classic Army weather. We must have been happy every one of us complained about something. During that incident, I tore my MCL. In the ensuing years, my ACL and PCL also suffered from tears. Now, I’m zeroing in on 40 and the VA decides it is time to take another look at my knee.

The doc reading the x-rays and evaluating my MRI advises me that a total knee replacement isn’t going to get the results I want.

“You have to accept the fact that you are not going to be able to run again.”

Thanks doc. I’m 40 years old, fat with bad knees. I could have figured that one out on my own.

So, I’m getting a new brace and a fun round of torture, cleverly disguised as physical therapy. The most irritating thing is my knee is too bad to be fixed and not bad enough to get me the good parking spots.

A classmate pointed out that lawyers don’t need to run. She’s right. But mid-term grades were released today and I still haven’t figured out how to chase ambulances without running. Maybe I need a dog. That must be a second year subject.

Just call me “Hoppy.”

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Children, explosives and legal education

I spent the weekend pretending to study while achieving a new level of performance in Civilization 5. Then, in one of the brief moments of actual study, my 3-year-old son comes into my office and announces he wants a rocket.

Being the attentive parent, I said, “Okay.”

Then I processed what I just did. I agreed to let a 3-year-old have gainful control over a cylinder of compressed explosives and launch a missile. Time to set the Civ Pro down and pick up the torts notes.

I started reading to him about the exciting subject of res ipsa. And he interrupts me to say he wanted a flying saucer.

Great, I’m saved. I don’t have to give a 3-year-old the launch control to a tube of compressed gunpowder, I think. And exhale.

Then he says, “Daddy, where my rocket?”

This morning before class we went to buy a model rocket.

In the checkout line, he announces, “We going to shoot rocket at church.”

“That’s right,” I said to him, hoping the cashier wouldn’t call the cops. “We’re going to launch the rocket after church.”

What exactly is the legal liability of a 3-year-old launching a missile at a church? What would our pastor say?

For now, my son is giddy waiting for the moment he gets to launch the rocket, which will not be at the church. I apparently need to spend more time with my torts reading for agreeing to this.

res ipsa loquitur


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