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July 11, 2003

Back in the Mix

It's Friday, so here's a poem by Secretary of Defense Ronald Dumsfeld (it's deep, so hold on to your seat so you don't fall in):

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Now, wasn't that special? I told you it was deep. Slate offers more wisdom in this vein, or you can go all out and buy the book. L. and I went to the bookstore last night and she entertained me with choice selections from this little tome. Wow, that Dumsfeld really makes you think! (The comments on Amazon are nuts. Are these people for real?) And if even the book doesn't give you enough of this "existential" circularity, just keep watching the news—I'm sure Dummy will offer plenty more gems as the tangle of lies he and his pals have been telling begins to unravel. Stay tuned!

So I'm back, and about all I can say is: Wyoming rocks. But if that's not eloquent enough for you, check out the view from 12,000 ft.:

This pic was taken looking southwest from Medicine Bow Peak. Although the peak is at 12,013 ft, the hike to get there is only 2 miles and easier than it looks from the bottom. This hike has become something of a tradition for me; I do it just about every time I return to Wyoming (which isn't that often anymore—this was the first trip in 4 years) and it always reminds me of all the best things about my home state. Although this picture doesn't really show it, Wyoming is exceptionally green this summer thanks to some heavy spring snows and quite a bit more spring and summer rain than the state's had in recent years. I remember many July Fourth holidays when the state's meadows and prairies were already burned to a light golden brown by the hot summer sun, but this year the various shades of green from the grasses, sage, pine, cottonwood, aspen, willow and myriad other plants compete with each other for attention. In addition to a great hike in the Snowies, the fam-damily and I also made our way over the mountains for a dip in Saratoga's "hobo pool", which is fed by a natural hot spring and sits right on the banks of the North Platte river. At around 112 degrees, the water may be a little hot for July, but if you're ever in the area when there's snow on the ground, the hobo pool can't be beat. If you're feeling adventurous, go in late January when there's likely to be at least a foot of snow on the ground. You'll be able to get overheated in the hobo pool, dash out through the snow to the river for a shocking dunk in its freezing waters, then dash back to the hot springs to start the process again. It's a little like a Finnish sauna, but wetter. (And you don't have to take my word for it; if you'd like to know what life is really like in a small Wyoming town you can get your local Saratoga scoop over at Life In A Northern Town.)

So the trip West was a nice walk down memory lane in a lot of ways, but it ended horribly with a return trip that took over 16 hours. It seemed that just about everything that could go wrong, did. First the alarm in my hotel didn't go off and I had to dash out of bed and get to the airport—22 miles away on the other side of Denver—in 1.5 hours. Somehow, I made it: 40 minutes from the second I opened my eyes I'd dressed, dashed out of the hotel, driven across town and out to the airport, dropped off the rental car, and made it to the ticketing desk, and all of that rushing only to find that my 7 a.m. flight had been delayed until 9:45! A mixed blessing, but fine. Things started to go seriously downhill when the 9:45 time slipped to 10:30, then 11, then the flight was postponed indefinitely and I was rerouted completely, pushing my arrival in D.C. back from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Ok, no big deal. I finally got on a flight to St. Louis with no real problems, but in St. Louis I learned that it was raining in Baltimore and our flight would be delayed. After two more delays and a good 45 minutes in the plane on the runway waiting, we finally took off and made it to BWI where, of course, my one checked bag did not arrive. I wrangled with the luggage people as quickly as I could and made it to the last bus of the night that took me to the last train of the night which finally brought me home. Whew. Damn American Airlines!

If this is what traveling from DC is going to be like, maybe I should just learn to like it here.

And perhaps I will, but first there's a new tiny wrinkle in the whole law school saga that came in the form of an email from Michigan in the early part of last week that said:

As we enter July, we at Michigan have just a few extremely strong candidates left on our waiting list, and you are one of them. You are without question a candidate we would be happy to admit in any year, but our enrollment target made it impossible for us to extend you an offer during the regular admission season. 

Right now, we do not believe we will need to go to our waiting list, but we also know we can't predict these things with perfect accuracy. It may be that we will have a high number of withdrawals in the next couple of weeks, or it may be that when registration and orientation come, we will have a high number of no-shows, which would lead us to run to the waiting list. I am therefore writing to you now to assess your interest in remaining on the waiting list.

Of course I told them I'm still interested. I mean, how could I not be interested in going to the #7 law school in the country? Not to mention the school's public interest cred. And of course I have no idea whether I'd go if they called (this ain't an ambivalent imbroglio for nothin', folks!). And, of course, I understand the chances that they will call are about a million to one. Still, wrinkles are fun, don't you think?

And, though perhaps I shouldn't say so, it's especially fun at the moment to think of being able to tell GW to take a hike. Why? Because I'm a freak. But really, I'm sick of getting mail from them scolding and scaring me about the risks and dangers of not buying a Dell laptop through their special purchase program. I'm certain that if they could, GW would hold a gun to the head of every One-L and force him/her to buy a Dell laptop through their special program. But since GW knows it can't actually do that, it's trying to hold a rhetorical gun to my head and that's just not giving me a positive impression of the place. Sure, it bugs me that they're trying to force me to give money to Intel and M$, but beyond that their rhetoric is infantilizing and shows a distinct lack of respect for their audience.

Ok, so I'm blowing things out of proportion and probably conflating my distaste for GW's rhetoric and computer policies with other concerns I have about the place and about going to law school more generally. Many of those concerns are the same ones I had when I made the decision to go to GW in the first place, but now they can all be boiled down to the fact that it was never top of my list for any reason, but more of a default choice. I had a bit of a crush on American because of how it sells itself as something of a progressive school, and I liked Georgetown because, well, it's Georgetown. Now that I've spent a few months telling people my plans, I keep hearing the same question: "Did you say you're going to law school at Georgetown?" No, I say, it's George Washington, to which people invariably respond with, "oh," and a furrowed brow that says, "why not Georgetown? That's the only DC law school I've ever heard of." Sometimes they save me the trouble of having to guess what they're thinking—they just come right out and say it. When I visited GW last March I detected a distinct inferiority complex among the people I talked to; they'd always mention Georgetown in condescending ways and even explicitly say things like "we think we're better than Georgetown." And maybe they are. The point is, it seems like very few people—neither students nor faculty— end up at GW by choice; instead, they end up there because they couldn't get in (or hired) at Georgetown.

Is that true? No, I'm sure it's not. And it shouldn't matter. It doesn't. And I was never really excited about going to Georgetown, either. Maybe the problem is I've never been outright excited about going to law school at all. Maybe my trip West made me think crazy things. Maybe I just have too much time on my hands to complicate my life with hypotheticals. To quote again from the great Dummy:

We know there are some things We do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, The ones we don't know We don't know.

Right. And it's the weekend so there's fun stuff to do—like the NOW Presidential Candidates Forum tonight. And there's another one next week. See, it's cool living in the nation's capital.

Posted 01:14 PM | Comments (3) | law school

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