Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Little Recognition

Today is the last day of finals for all 3Ls.  (They make us finish a day earlier than the 1Ls so the professors can get things graded before graduation next week.)  Pretty much, it's the official end of the semester.  All that's left of our time at Vanderbilt is to walk across that stage.

As that stage gets closer, I want to take a moment for a little imagerecognition.  You see that picture there, the one that isn't that great because I had to screen-shot crop it out of a group photo?  Yes, that one -->

That is Lisa Doster and she has been hands down the most influential person during my time at Vanderbilt.  Lisa is one of the Career Counselors in our career center.  Our career center is pretty vampire good, but Lisa is incredible.

1L year we were assigned career counselors alphabetically, and I got her.  Her specialty is government and public interest.  How perfect is that?!  (Mr. Trizzle has worked a lot with her too, for this reason.)  Despite this focus, Lisa doesn't try to shoo everyone that walks into her door into public interest or government.  What she does is encourage everyone to try everything, at least a little bit.

"Don't want to work at a firm?  Ok, but still go through OCI (on campus interviews with mostly stuffy young over-paid attorneys who probably don't want to talk to you anymore than you want to talk to them).  Do it for the interview practice.  Interview practice is always good.  Why not get it when it's so easy and right here?  Who knows, you might find a place where you click anyway."  That's the sort of thing she'd say.  "Just try it."

And she is always there to help.  Stop in, send an email, make a call, and she's there.  I can't count the times I've sent resumes, cover letters or personal statements to her for review.  She sends them back with neat edits, encouraging words and helpful comments, usually by the next day.  Even when I was in Nigeria, she would help me with applications.  When I got a phone interview with CC, she gave up her office so I could conduct the interview in a quiet place that had a back-up land-line.

That all sounds pretty kick-vampire.  But, the best part is that she doesn't just want you to find a job, she wants you to find a job you'll loveAnd she works really hard to help you find it.  She takes the time to find out about you, your goals and your skills.  And she helps you find that dream job, even if the path there isn't the usual OCI/send out a gazillion applications process.  That's the part that means the most to me.

Lisa, Thank You!!!


[Although I said she was the most "influential person during my time at Vanderbilt," that's sort of inactive.  I'm sure she will continue to be influential after I leave.  Our career services is cool like that, always there to help, even 20 years after graduation.]

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Today is World Intellectual Property day.  Not that any of my readers here would particularly care.  I celebrated by spending most of the day writing about IP.  (Does it count as celebrating when it's the same thing you do everyday?)

So, for a little celebration fun, here are some random items related to IP:

jeffersonJeffersonian ideas of property make our intellectual property laws different than the most of the rest of the worlds.  The IP clause in the constitution specifies that the protection of intellectual property is to promote progress, not protect the soul of the artist in works.


Victor_HugoHe wasn't just the writer that inspired the song that made Susan Boyle a hit, Victor Hugo was also an important player in the creation of the first collecting society.  At that time, the purpose really was to protect author and creator rights, rather than get money to labels and publishing companies.



Roy Orbison's hit song Pretty Woman was the center of the seminal case in parody Campbell v.  Accuff Rose.   The Supreme Court found rap group 2Live Crew's use of the song to be non-infringing because their song parodied Orbison's original.


juicy whip We've all seen the swirling juice machines at our local convenience stores, but did you know they were part of an important patent case?  In Juicy Whip v. Orange Bang the Federal Circuit addressed the "useful" requirement for patents and decided that deceiving people was useful.  (The swirling "juice" in the plastic cases is fake.  The real beverage comes from a concentrate syrup below the machine, just like a regular soda machine.)


coke This, alone, is valued at about 70 billion dollars ($70,000,000,000).  Not the company; just the trademark.  That is the power of a brand.



champagne The geographical indicator "Champagne" is so valuable that land inside the designated Champagne region lines is worth something like 700x the value of the land across the street.  According to my French-Canadian IP professor (who brought us Champagne for the last day of class), most of the stuff from across the street is just as good.

Game Over

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.  Not that teachers at Vanderbilt give dirty looks.  Well, not after 1L year anyway.

Graduation is less than two weeks away.  I can hardly believe it.  Yesterday, I turned in my seminar paper; the last bit of law school I had left.  I had two finals and took them on Monday and Wednesday this week.  That’s it.

I’m excited about what’s next.  (California here I come, ri-ght ba-ck wh-ere… oh, I guess not…)  I’m also rather sad. I’ve quite enjoyed law school.  (Finally, something where Daddy was wrong!)  And I’m going to miss my friends, well, the ones I don’t miss already.  I’m really going to miss sitting in the hall outside of Bartholomew, or on Main Street, talking copyright with my classmates, debating the meaning of ‘derivative’ or if fair use still exists in practice.  At least I’ll still have Mr. Trizzle to talk to about that stuff sometimes.

I’m also going to miss being around so many smart people all the time.  I’ve got a great job for this summer, sure to be full of smart people.  But, what about after that?  I think my biggest fear is to ever be the smartest person in a room.  What can you learn from that?  My role has always been the dumb kid in the smart people’s classes.  The one who’s not afraid to ask silly questions because everyone already knows she doesn’t get it.  The one who has to stay in from study hall to keep up, yet never falls too far behind.  What do I do if that’s suddenly not me?!

I’m going to miss Vanderbilt.  It’s a wonderful place.  If I have any complaints, it is only that Southerners don’t know how to regulate building temperatures.  That’s it.  Everything else about Vandy, wonderful.  Well, at least Vandy Law.  As a law student, it’s easy to escape from the swarms of Uggs pulling around girls in short dresses with swooped over bangs should you venture too far onto the main campus.  Ok, ok, there’s some of those in the Law school, too – but I was able to hide from most of that this year, sticking to my tiny IP classes.

I have a few more weeks left in Nashville and with my friends, so I won’t start ‘missing’ them yet.  Soon… soon…

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More Fun with Munchkinhead

I forgot to mention some of the exciting things Munchkinhead and I did this past weekend.  Maybe I forgot because they were both near the beginning of the visit.  Maybe it's just cuz I'm old.

Friday and Saturday was Rites of Spring at Vanderbilt.  T.I. was the big headliner.  (One of his last shows before he goes to jail.)  I didn't get tickets because Munchkinhead claims she doesn't like T.I. (put it on the radio and watch how quickly she starts singing along.), and I have seen him live before and didn't think he put on a very good show.  So, instead of going to the concert, we walked up to the beautiful Vandy campus and toured around it with T.I. as our live background music.  It was a beautiful night, and a nice walk.  Munchkinhead spent most of the time on the phone with Boots-With-Spurs guy.  (He's got those funny cut jeans, boots with the spurs; the cowboy was moving his herd; they all got through, next thing you knew, the cows went moo moo moo moo moo.)

Saturday evening, after all our shopping, we went out for a classic Nashville treat: dinner at Swett's.  The restaurant's really really old.  It was founded in 1954!  (Hee hee, just kidding Mommy.)  It is a staple of the city and an important part of the area's history.  The food is also delicious.  (Only the greens and beans are cooked with pork, so I can eat plenty of other veggies.)  It's down-home Southern cooking, meat and three, set-up cafeteria style.  I like picking up the tray and going down the line; it reminds me of going to Ponderosa with my family when I was little.  I finished the last of the leftover cornbread today.

Munchkinhead Go Bye-Bye :(

My little sister, Munchkinhead, came to visit me this weekend.  Yes, it's the middle of my finals, but I don't care.  I value time with my family above everything else, even exam prep time.  (I took one exam Monday morning while she was sleeping and think it went fine.)

We had a fabulous weekend!  She came in Friday night and we headed up to school for what was left of Blackacre (flight delayed).  She got to meet a few of my friends and luckily for us, the food that was left was all the yummy, expensive cheeses.  After the Blackacre, we did a bit of grocery shopping (I was out of milk!) and headed home for a nice evening in.  We watched what very well may be my new favorite movie, Lost in Austen.  If you haven't seen it, do!  Then you'll understand why Munchkinhead and I like to say things like "one peacock is probably sufficient."  (Mommy, don't watch it yet!  Watch it with me!)  Later in the weekend we also watched the real Pride and Prejudice.  (Do not ask which version!  There is only one real one!)

Saturday, the weather was gorgeous.  It was the only nice day, and our busiest day.  We started the morning by dropping some stuff off at a donation center in East Nashville.  (Shhh... don't tell my mommy my little sister came to visit and one of the first places I took her was the ghetto.)

We spent most of the morning enjoying the Parthenon and its surrounding park.  It was also good exercise as we walked there and wandered around for awhile.

DSCI0937 katrina at large parthenon doors me on swing at park

In the afternoon, we headed out to the Adventure Science Center with Foo Foo.  I think I had the perfect person to go with; nobody else would have been that much fun there!  (Ok, maybe Alfred.)  I learned something important: I'm big.  Sometimes that makes things that used to be fun scary.  I tried crawling through this giant heart, but I barely fit and was afraid I'd get stuck!  (Here's an example of some of the places we crawled.)

Katrina on culy pole

We did manage to climb up through lots of little spaces though to get to the top of the Adventure Dome and Look out over the entire city.

Katrina at the top of the Dome

Foo Foo had fun playing with the different sound equipment.

Katrina and Foo Foo at the listening tubes Katrina and Foo Foo playing with the Sound Tubes

We also discovered that if Foo Foo stands on Munchkinhead's head, they're almost as tall as me in my shoes.

me katrina and foo foo

After Adventure Center - we went shopping.  The trouble with having Munchkinhead around is that she makes me spend more money than normal because shopping with her is just so much fun!  We bought dresses at the South American import store down the street (more walking), then headed out to use one of my gift cards at DSW.  I had the hardest time finding shoes I liked!  The store was so uppity!  I did finally find a nice pair of brown dress shoes.  Can't believe I now own some BCBG.  We headed to Target but didn't find anything of interest there.  Finally, we went to Ross and were both delighted with the cutest dresses!

The rest of the weekend, Munchkinhead helped me pack because it was icky outside.  We did go out to Cafe Coco for dinner.  And we went bowling!  11 games on Sunday night, 5 more on Monday.  We had so much fun!  Munchkinhead beat me twice.  I started bowling with my left hand, too and now have 2 sore arms instead of one.  (And a sore back, and sore legs, and sore anything that can be sore.)

Katrina won me bowling cropped DSCI1000 I won

And on the last night, after bowling, we played Candy Land with Foo Foo, Daddy Bunny, April and Whiskey.  April and Foo Foo each won one game.  The pictures are on Munchkinhead's camera.  :(

Today, I had to take her back to the airport.  :(  She has more school now.  But we had fun, and she made it back safely.  I can't wait to see her again in July.  And then Alfred will be there, too!  What fun we shall have!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In the Ayer

Palm Sunday.  My second favorite holiday.  I always wear green.  It's the start of the most exciting time of the year.  And it means spring is on the way.  This year it was particularly exciting because it was also my birthday.

I sat in the back of the church alone, watching all the families and couples sharing this wonderful day.  Sad to be alone, but glad to be there with God and hymns and the joy that comes with a man riding into town on a donkey.

The children's choir sang, the real little kids; it was cute.  Then came the youth choir.  Ten and Twelve year olds grouped together in the front of the church, donned in long black choir robes with the short white ruffled mini robe on top.  Several of them began beating drums, which were slung over their shoulders.  "African drums for Palm Sunday, hmmm, neat,"  I thought.  The rhythm sounded sort of familiar.  I couldn't place it, so I decided it must just be a standard rhythm.

Copy of StephenChoirBoy Then the boy on the end opened his mouth.  And my head started shaking.  His blond bangs swooped to the side, he looked like one of those choir angel Christmas decorations people put out at the holidays, or maybe a member of the famed Vienna Boys Choir.  But what came out was anything other than angelic.  The young boy opened his mouth and started rapping. (Yup, looked pretty much just like this picture.)

flo rida Not just rapping, mind you, but a particularly insane sort of thing.  The choir, or presumably the stout bald headed man directing the choir, had rewritten the lyrics to Flo Rida's In the Ayer!  For church!

I, in fact, did not even realize this until a week later when I happened to be listening to Flo Rida's old album.  The beat started and I was like "where have I heard that recently?"  Then the hook came on: "oh hot dam, this is my jam,  keep me partying until the a.m.  make me throw my hands in the ayer, ay-ayer, ayer, ay-ayer."

You see, the church version had said some stuff about donkeys and such and then the kid said "they threw their palms in the ayer, ay-ayer, ayer, ay-er."  This little choir boy, standing in the front of a massive church, stained glass crucified Jesus rising high behind him, a baptismal font across the aisle from him, wooden pews, stone floors, arches, Bibles, Bibles everywhere for goodness sakes, and this kid is standing up there saying, no rapping "ayer, ay-ayer, ayer, ay-ayer!

By the time the kid got to the ayer part, I had burried my head in my hands.  It's too much for me.  I like hip hop; I like heavy metal.  But rapping and electric guitars do not belong in church.  I want bells and a nice pipe organ, putting joyful church-sounding music into the ayer, ay-ayer, ayer, ay-ayer, thank you very much!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hoppy Easter

[guest post by Daddy Bunny]

My mom seems to like to use me to deliver surprises.  When she came home for my Auntie Munchkinhead’s 16th birthday, she put me on Auntie’s sink and hid in the sewing room.  Auntie Munchkinhead came into the bathroom still rubbing her eyes from sleep.  “Daddy Bunny, what are you doing here?” she said to me.  Then she went into the hallway, holding me in her hands and saw my mom.  Group hug!  Mind if I kiss the rabbit?

Well, this morning, my mom got up very early, and before she went to get ready for church, she placed me outside my grandparents’ bedroom door with some candy in my paws.

Friday night, mom came home from church and started packing.  She was smiling so big!  I had no idea what was going on.  She usually tells me if we’re going somewhere.  She hadn’t said anything.  The next morning, she placed me and my sister, Whiskey, next to the bag she had packed the night before.  Next thing I knew, Whiskey and I were buckled in the front seat of the car and we were off somewhere.

Whiskey told me she guessed we were going home because she had said next time there was a visit to Grandma’s she wanted to go along.  I watched the familiar highway go past and decided she was right.  But then, our car got off the familiar highway.  We were on these teeny back roads, going through strange towns.  The stuff outside the window was all very pretty, but I had no idea where we were.

Turns out Whiskey was right.  After many hours we saw home.  We drove past it slowly and went to a gas station.  Whiskey and I were very confused.  We came all this way, weren’t we going to go home?!  Our mom got out of the car and came back sometime later in her pajamas.  Then, we went home. 

We parked down the street and walked up to the house.  Our mom had taken a key off her keyring.  She put the key in the lock, it didn’t turn.  She took another key of her keyring.  It worked.  Very, very quietly, we all snuck into the house.  Our mom took her shoes off as soon as she got in, picked us up and went into Grandma’s living room.

Whiskey and I were confused again.  I had told Whiskey that when we go home, we sleep in Auntie Alfred’s old room that now has two beds and this strange greenish color on the walls.  This was no bed in Auntie Alfred’s old room, this was the couch!  But the three of us piled onto it, covered up with Grandma’s orange afghan, and took a nap.

The next morning, Grandpa got up and saw me sitting outside his door.  He said, “there’s a Daddy Bunny outside our door.”  Grandma ran over to me, “if there’s a Daddy Bunny, that means Daddy Bunny’s mommy is here too!”  She picked me up and we started looking through all the bedrooms.  Nothing.  Then we went downstairs and looked.  Finally, Grandma found my mom, sitting at the breakfast table, dressed like the Easter Pirate.  (Whiskey wanted to be an Easter Bunny too, like me, so she was wearing the bunny ears and our mom was left with the pirate hat.)

Grandma was so happy!  It was wonderful.  Then Grandma helped me find my Easter basket.  It was full of yummy carrots. :)  Whiskey and I spent the day sitting before the fireplace, watching everyone play games and have fun.  Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It's My Birthday

And I'll hide if I want to.
Happy Palm Sunday everyone!
See you in a week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hi, My Name Is...

My name has always been special to me.  My parents named me after my great-grandmother, which is special in itself.  On top of that, it's a beautiful name that sounds nice and looks pretty.  And, it describes me well, or at least it did when I was little.  And most of all, I've always loved it because it was mine and only mine.  (Unlike the 80 Matts and several dozen Katies and Jennifers.)  But lately, I've realized my name's become more than special to me, it's become almost (I said almost) sacred.

My name is used so infrequently that when it is used, it has a very powerful feeling.  Not powerful in the "I'm so strong and mighty" sense, but powerful in the "there's a lot of emotion and energy in that one word" sense.  That creates a sort of circular effect, the less people that use it, the less people I want to use it, because I'm only comfortable with a few people directing that much force at me.

My family, a handful of close friends, that's about all who use it.  I'd like to keep it that way.  When a company calls me and asks for me by my first name instead of my last, I cringe.  When someone I don't know well addresses me by first name, especially in the law school, I feel unsettled.  Nurses, receptionists, etc., I don't like it.  (Especially since they usually butcher it.)  And I HATE having to introduce myself.  Partly because I don't really want people to know my name, and partly because I know I'm going to have to repeat it several times.  I don't like having to sign it, or even print it on paper or type it.  It feels like I'm giving up a part of me.  (Hence my signing all my emails "me.")

But when Mommy or Daddy or Mr. Trizzle or one of my aunts and uncles uses it, it sounds nice and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  (Alfred and Munchkinhead usually call me by special names only they use for me.  Munchkinhead has difficulty saying the only consonants in my name.  Alfred uses what she called me when she was very little and cute instead of beautiful.)

It's sort of interesting, the way things circle back.  There was a point, not that long ago, when a person only addressed another by the first name if they were very well aquatinted and in private.  I feel as though I'm heading back there.   People don't greet each other by name, they either avoid the address with just a "how are you," or they simplify it to a nameless greeting, "hey,"  "hello,"  "what up."  And in the law school, where most of our professors address as as Ms. or Mr. Last Name, it's common for us to address each other that way, too.  I.e. Mzzzzz Jones.

I think my name slowly moved into that extra-special realm.  Reinforced a bit by law school, but well established before then.  Whatever effect the constant use of nicknames in HS and college had, the result was cemented in Zambia where everyone just gave up on my real name.  (Like Munchkinhead, Tonga doesn't have the consonant sounds in my name.)  I became Nchimunya, to everyone.  Even to many of the other volunteers.  I liked that name a lot (though not as much as my pretty real name).

With the general lack of greeting people by name in society today, the proliferance of online identities and such, and the high use of nicknames, I wonder if anyone else feels this way about their given name.