Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What Constitutes "The Midwest"?

Last week I complained to y'all on the Stranger Facebook page that Skylar keeps referring to Salt Lake City and Denver as "the Midwest."


Skylar is from Portland and his general lack of knowledge of any city that isn't somewhat near an ocean is disconcerting.

I need this to stop. I don't have a problem with the Midwest. But I do have a problem with misinformation.

I have explained to Skylar on several occasions that this area is, at most, called the "Mountain West," but he usually dismisses this with a wave of the hand and a condescending up-turned head shake.

It is very obnoxious to argue with Skylar because of this exact type of argument strategy. How can I argue with a condescending head shake? I invented the condescending head shake. I invented it because you can't argue with it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Can Dogs Be Racist?

Recently I told you about Herminda.

She comes to my house every two weeks. I never know what time, exactly, she'll be showing up. So it sort of feels like a ticking time bomb. Unfortunately sometimes I forget altogether that it's an Herminda day. This happened last time she came.

I still don't know how many minutes she heard of my twenty-two minute performance of the first twenty-two minutes of Hamilton wherein I do the men and women parts, including occasional beat boxing and sound effects that make very little sense and are not part of the original production.

All I know is that when I came out of the bathroom in a towel, dancing (also my own unique addition to the production), and caught somewhere in the middle of an excessively-vibrato'd and high-pitched "HELPLEEEEESSS," Herminda was finishing loading the dishwasher.

As a credit to her professionalism, she didn't even look at me when I screamed.

Herminda has tried to explain the schedule to me on several occasions, wanting even more than I want, to avoid these bi-monthly accidental encounters. At least I think she has. 99% of our conversations sound like this:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Idaho City

This weekend Skylar and I drove from Portland to Salt Lake City. In case you're not familiar with maps, that is just under 600,000 miles and it takes 12 weeks to travel the full distance. Actually a little more when you factor in the time warp.

Obviously I don't have the temperament or . . . what did Skylar call it? Oh yes, "human decency." I don't have the temperament or human decency to "behave like a good person" on road trips exceeding two hours.

We split the drive into three days and explored Oregon and southern Idaho, which made it a lot easier for me to avoid a toddler-like tantrum.

The plan was to stay in Boise over night before making our final leg of the drive, but then I serendipitously stumbled upon a place called "Idaho City" while interneting. After google imaging the place for five seconds, I demanded that we visit the 300-person town, 45 minutes out of Boise and buried deep in the mountains.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Tenth Circuit

Some time ago I took on this interesting case with a partner at my firm. It's an Eighth Amendment case (the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment).

A year ago I successfully argued a part of the case and after the judge issued his ruling, the State of Utah decided to appeal the decision. When something is appealed from federal court in Utah, it gets heard by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is located in Denver.

I was happy to go to Denver to argue the case, and I did that this week. It has actually been a dream of mine for a long time to get to argue in front of that court.

Normal people dream about becoming a famous musician or meeting Oprah or getting hit by a car owned by a very wealthy person and being injured badly enough to never have to work again but not badly enough that life is miserable. I dream about standing in front of a panel of judges and indignantly saying something like, "WELL THEN I GUESS THIS ISN'T EVEN AMERICA ANYMORE."

When I told Rebecca that I was going to be doing this argument, she immediately invited herself, bought a plane ticket from Mississippi (where she lives right now I swear don'tevenask), and turned our text chain into a paper chain every 24 hours to count down the days until we could meet up in Denver.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Episode 10: The World of Hard Conversations

It's an ultra packed episode this week in Strangerville, in large part because of all of the happenings in America over the last week. We invite you to join us on a thoughtful and peaceful journey through stories about hard conversations. Come and laugh with us, cry with us, blow snot all over the wall with us (wait . . . you guys don't do that? Yeah . . . neither do we . . . we were just testing you . . . ).

As always, we beg you like people without pride to share Strangerville with your family and friends. And if you haven't done so yet, please go leave us a review on what the kids are calling the iTunes. Cathie will nod approvingly if you do (this is worth a lot).

Also, of special note, Jolyn and I tried our hand at singing a Paul Simon song in this episode. It was much more complicated than we were expecting. And I now have a new respect for professional musicians. 

Without further ado,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

We're all exhausted. So let's just enjoy some pictures of puppies and some links of stuff to waste your day.


Too soon?

I love you guys.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
I will be arguing an 8th Amendment case in front of the 10th Circuit in a few days. My friend Jenna came to help me practice. We call this "mooting with puppies."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


A lot of people were shocked last night when the election results unfolded. There's disappointment in many people today. This disappointment is the most consistent part of American presidential campaigns. I can promise you right now, there has never been a presidential election in my country that hasn't left hoards of people feeling a pit in their stomach and something like extreme worry or terror for their future.

And those people are entitled to that disappointment.

That disappointment is beautiful. It's beautiful because it means that apathy isn't winning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Whole Bunch of People Decided to Vote

A whole bunch of people got up today in my country to vote. A bunch of others already voted days or weeks ago by mailing in their ballots. The ballots were long, and they included names of people some of us have never heard of and categories of offices some of us have only vaguely heard of.

But a bunch of people decided to vote anyway. They didn't pretend to understand every intricacy of every race. They didn't pretend to know all of the implications of any feasible outcome. They just stared at the ballot and tried to remember what they've heard and conjure their understanding and their research.

They may have felt unsure about a choice here and there. They may have felt proud about a choice here and there. They may have felt emotional about a choice here and there.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Repurposing a Cupboard Door

A couple of weeks ago I got home from the office after a particularly stressful day amid a particularly stressful week/month/year. The weather was nice so I decided I would winterize my home.

I say "winterize" because that's a word I've heard other grownups use. I have no idea what it actually means or what one is supposed to do to complete the task. All I know is that each fall I wander my yard pretending to do stuff while The Perfects are outside in hopes that they'll call some instructions over to me.

On this particular evening, I decided I would go ahead and turn off the water to my sprinklers and do some other sprinkler-related stuff my brother-in-law told me to do once. He didn't explain why any of these particular actions were important. I think this is so he can maintain all the power in the family. It's a job security issue.

Naturally turning off the sprinkler water led to cleaning my entire garage and replacing 12 light bulbs before determining that the light fixtures themselves were the problem.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

So tired. But Matt's going out of town and Adam has some crap going on so I'm having a puppy slumber part tonight and you can't stop me.

We are going to stay up all night gossiping.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions.
Skylar and I didn't have Halloween costumes mere minutes before Halloween parties were to commence. So he made these. We were dominoes. And then my perverted cousin made Instagram comments about our inadvertently inappropriate number choice. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Special TV Surprise

It was Survivor night, so the usual crew gathered in my home. I flipped on the TV. There we were, minding our own business, like good Christians/Jews/Muslims/Americans/muggles/beliebers, when suddenly,

Anna: IS THAT MATT BROOME!!!!???!?

Eli: No. Matt Broome would tell us if he was on TV. Surely he wouldn't keep something like this a secret.

We rewound the commercial because these are the days of miracle and wonder and you can do that now. We watched it eleventy hundred times. And we had a major debate. Well, not so much of a debate. More of a "everyone telling Eli he's wrong."

Adam: That's Matt!

Eli: No.

Anna: Yes it is!