Monday, December 22, 2008

Doc Review

In the ABA Journal, an article about the life of the contract attorney (doc review):

I make $35 an hour for the first 40 hours and $52.50 for each hour thereafter. Averaging 60 hours per week, I make a pretty good living for reading e-mail. A contract attorney working those hours can earn $100,000 a year. But there are no new skills acquired and no career advancement. Still, small firms in the New York area offer starting salaries below $50,000. State clerkships pay in the lows 40s. So this is the only way for many attorneys to survive financially.

Contract positions often last less than a month. You register with staffing agencies; recruiters then place you in projects at major firms, accepting a generous portion of your check in exchange. The buzz around reviews is that a firm bills out an attorney at $180 an hour and pays the temp agency $60 per; the agency, in turn, pays the attorney $40. Ranking somewhere below paralegals and above the cleaning crew, thousands of contract attorneys are making ends meet in this subsection of the legal industry.

Today, like always, I read e-mails from the client’s computer network, then code each according to its relevance. Often the vast majority are in no way responsive to the discovery request. Substantive reviews or analyses of documents are discouraged—if not banned outright. The contract attorney’s role is clear: Review and “bucket” documents, bill the requisite number of hours, and otherwise fly under the radar.


Date Deductible

So this guy thinks he can deduct the amount he's been spending on dating this girl. As Prof. Honigsberg would ponder, "Good ideaaaaaa?!" Above the Law quips:

TaxProf Blog reports on the findings from the U.S. Tax Court:

Mr. Shih was romantically involved with Ms. Yang, and she moved into his home. There were discussions of a formal engagement, and their relationship was intimate. Mr. Shih testified at the trial and his testimony concerning his romantic relationship with Ms. Yang was evasive. Mr. Shih was called by respondent and testified on direct examination that Ms. Yang had performed services in his business in exchange for the payments made to her during 2005. On cross-examination, however, after admitting that his relationship with Ms. Yang was more than a professional one, Mr. Shih could not recall taking her out on dates or any intimacy in their relationship, even though their relationship existed only a few years ago.

It is obvious that Mr. Shih and Ms. Yang have conflicting interests in the outcome of this controversy and that their positions are diametrically opposed. Mr. Shih structured the payments to Ms. Yang so that they appeared to be wages. He issued a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and used the notation "salary" or "wages" on some of the checks used for payment. Ms. Yang, however, was forthright in her testimony and answered all questions whether or not they favored her position. On the other hand Mr. Shih professed to remember only those things that supported his position that the payments were income to Ms. Yang. We find his testimony to be evasive and untrue.

The facts show that Mr. Shih made payments totaling $10,500 to Ms. Yang with "detached and disinterested generosity" out of his affection for her at the time of payment. We accordingly hold that the $10,500 in payments made during 2005 was a gift and not reportable as income.

What did Shih expect the court to say? I mean, how many guys do you know that will give a girl $10,500, but can't remember if he had sex with her? In fact, how many people do you know that will give a girl a $10.50 movie ticket, but can't remember if he had sex with her?

There's no accounting for some people in this world!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Employers and Facebook

Without a doubt, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have made the toil of life as a law student a little more bearable. While professors prattle on and on about jurisdiction and due process and consideration (hopefully never in the same class!), law students find out where the next law school party is going to be, and click through pictures of other law students getting a little friendly at the last party. All good, right?


Those pictures of a good time had by all may become fodder for employers looking to vet applicants online. And, as Shari Claire Lewis observes, they may be perfectly within their rights to do so:

One issue prospective employers should consider is whether a company viewing an applicant's publicly available Facebook page or other postings is invading the applicant's privacy. Although not yet directly addressed by New York courts, it is likely an individual who posts "private" information on an unrestricted Web platform does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In matters unrelated to Internet use, the New York Court of Appeals has determined that New York does not recognize a common law right of privacy.[FOOTNOTE 7] Moreover, in applying District of Columbia law, which does recognize such a right, the Court of Appeals nevertheless ruled that an individual does not have a right to privacy with respect to information the individual has disclosed to third parties. The case, Nader v. General Motors Corp.,[FOOTNOTE 8] arose in a very different context nearly 40 years ago, but the court's reasoning is relevant to social networking disclosures.

In Nader, the court rejected a claim of invasion of privacy based on allegations that General Motors, through its agents or employees, interviewed many individuals who knew the plaintiff, Ralph Nader, asking questions about him and casting aspersions on his character.

The court acknowledged that these inquiries "may have uncovered information of a personal nature," but concluded that it was "difficult to see how they may be said to have invaded the plaintiff's privacy" because information about Mr. Nader that was already known to others "could hardly be regarded as private to the plaintiff." The court reasoned that because Mr. Nader had previously revealed the information to others, he necessarily had assumed the risk that a friend or acquaintance in whom he had confided might breach the confidence.

Looked at in the context of these earlier decisions, it appears that New York employers who access publicly available information that an individual chooses to place on the Internet for anyone to see probably will not be found to invade that individual's privacy.[FOOTNOTE 9] However, there may be ramification to a company that obtains access to information that the individual has attempted to limit access to, by passwording it or designating it as private.

Consider, for example, a Facebook page designated as private and therefore requiring the poster provide individual permission before her private page may be read. No doubt a potential employer that correctly identifies itself and receives the prospective employee's permission to view the private page does not violate that individual's privacy. But what about the prospective employer that obtains permission covertly, such as through another employee or an alias? Equally, can a prospective employer require permission to access a private Facebook page as a condition of employment? Clearly, the latter circumstances are much more problematic.

Additionally, Facebook itself may have some interest in the sanctity of its resources and protecting the privacy of its users so that use of its service does not come to be seen as a potential liability. Facebook's terms of use state that, except for advertising programs such as Facebook Flyers and Facebook Marketplace, Facebook is available to users for "your personal, non-commercial use only."[FOOTNOTE 10]

A company that relies on Facebook for hiring or firing decisions arguably is using the site for commercial purposes. Whether that can lead to any claims by Facebook (or specific individuals) may be unlikely, and damages, if any, would appear to be highly speculative. Nevertheless, its public relations and marketing may require Facebook to take an aggressive stand.

Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be different answers to the question of whether or not employers may hack into private photos of job applicants. Of course, the smart thing to do is to be careful what pictures to put up. You may think your friends are just sharing something intimate, but in today's Internet, you never know whose eyes are looking.

So, if you're unsure whether or not a picture may not embarrass a friend, at the very least keep it in an album marked for your friends' eyes only. And, if you can, ask your friend if it's alright for you to post up the picture. Further, should a friend ask you to untag them or to delete a picture of them (or at least crop them out), listen and do what you can to abide by that; remember, what goes around, comes around.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Employment Outlook

Many people who recently passed bar exams, as well as many current third year law students, are wondering about their employment prospects. Here are a couple of interesting articles.

First, John Bringardner writes that the jobs are out there ... overseas:

Major American law firms have long had a presence abroad, staffed by a combination of local counsel and lawyers from the home office. But as the economic downturn continues to cause upheaval in corporate America and the law firms that serve it, many firms are relying on their international outposts to keep profits up — and a growing number of lawyers are starting to look overseas for work. Not long ago, the City of London was New York’s primary competitor for financial talent, and Britain was often one of the first choices for lawyers deciding to head abroad.

But with Wall Street in tatters and London struggling as the credit crisis plays out, lawyers and analysts say that the most promising places for legal careers are such far-flung locales as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. Even though Dubai’s booming economy has cooled sharply recently, lawyers say demand for their services remains strong there, and other overseas markets are still beckoning lawyers despite the global impact of the credit crisis — at least for now.

When work was plentiful at home, it was often a tough sell to get lawyers to move halfway around the world. But since the financial unraveling in September, that’s all changed. In the last two months, recruiters in Hong Kong and Dubai say they’ve seen a record number of New York résumés from candidates looking for law-firm or in-house legal work overseas.

Over the past decade, major corporate law firms have made international expansion a top priority, and some have become truly global businesses.

In the past decade, top firms like Jones Day, based in Cleveland, went from 6 foreign offices to 18. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, based in New York, went from 3 to 9, and Latham & Watkins, based in Los Angeles, from 5 to 14.

More than ever, then, being bilingual can be a real plus.

Meanwhile, BCG Attorney Search analyzes growth markets. Folks in Southern California should remain optimistic:

In addition, we have seen a significant rise in the number of highly qualified attorneys looking to relocate to California. Thus, while the Los Angeles market remains steady overall, it is definitely a "buyer's market" with the "buyer" being the law firms. Our contacts within the firms tell us they are getting tremendous responses to the openings they post and therefore are tightening up their hiring criteria more than ever. In this market, it is helpful to have strong ties to California, admission to the California Bar (or plans to sit for the exam in the very near future), or an area of specialty in which there is still high demand but low supply.

Further, those interested in Intellectual Property work, especially in Orange County, need fear less:

Intellectual property remains a healthy practice area in this market. Many firms are looking for attorneys with both IP litigation and patent prosecution experience. Patent prosecution specifically, remains one of the hot areas of law in Orange County. Firms are seeking attorneys with electrical engineering, computer science, and physics backgrounds mainly. There are also a few openings for attorneys with biotech science backgrounds, as well as mechanical engineering backgrounds.

Since hiring has slowed due to the economy, more firms are seeking candidates that are already members of the California Bar and USPTO, even though this wasn't a strict requirement in previous recent hiring periods. Furthermore, candidates with advanced degrees will definitely have an upper hand in this competitive market. Most firms are seeking attorneys in the 2-5 year range for these positions, but more junior level attorneys will also probably be considered. Orange County also has openings for patent agent candidates as well. As always, partners with a book of business are highly desired.

Hopefully these articles have helped. Good luck out there!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The results of the July 2008 administration of the California Bar Exam were released to the examinees on Friday 21 November 2008 at 6pm. At 5:30pm, I was running errands. I felt a certain discomfort in my stomach. Chalking it up to hunger, I headed for a local Chipotle. The line was a long one, and I considered leaving to go home and get online at 6pm. I resisted the urge.

As it turned out, I was online by 6:09pm. I entered my application and file numbers, and the California Bar Association web server spat back a screen. The most important sentence: "The name above appears on the pass list for the July 2008 California Bar Examination."

I read it several times to make sure I didn't misread it. Each time I felt my eyes welling up more and more. I had done it! I passed the California bar exam!

The remainder of Friday evening was filled with joy as friends who passed shared the good news. Many happy people combed their Facebook friends lists, over and over again, hopeful that all of their friends would soon be reporting good news.

After a lull in the insane Internet updates, I bought a 750mL bottle of Glenfiddich to savor at home. People were celebrating, but for once I decided to stay in to celebrate privately.

Not everyone passed. Unfortunately, some people that were close to me were not on the pass list. According to the California Bar Association, 61.7% of examinees passed, including 83% of first-time takers from ABA-accredited law schools in California. This is a higher pass rate than before, and the report notes that examinees across the country had performed very well on the multiple choice portion, the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), which is standardized across all jurisdictions. Having taken the MBE, I am surprised at that number, and conjecture that perhaps many questions had multiple acceptable answers. Either that, or most of the crazy mortgage-based questions were experimental, and thus not considered in the final accounting.

Another concern, for examinees in Southern California, was the impact of the Chino Hills earthquake. According to a report commissioned by the California Bar Association, the impact seemed to have been minor. The Bar Association adjusted exam scores by using the tests from Northern California as a control group. For some strange reason, although the earthquake occurred closer to the Ontario testing site, Ontario examinees were adjusted by only either 1 or 3 points, while San Diego examinees were ajdusted by either 3 or 5 points.

In any case, the result has been a vindication of three years of hard work. To those who passed with me, my heartfelt congratulations to you, you have worked hard and deserve it! To those who fell a little short, this is no judgment on your intelligence or your work ethic. If you decide to continue pursuing a career in the law, take the exam again, because I cannot wait for you to join me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Google Compromises

L. Gordon Crovits writes in the Wall Street Journal that the recent compromise between Google and the book industry is the former's concession that, contra its motivating spirit, information is not always free.

Copyright is critical to provide property rights in books, music and other forms of intellectual property, contrary to those who claim that somehow everything must be free just because it's on the Web. But content owners also belatedly realize that simply suing consumers who find new, convenient ways to access content online is not as good as finding new business models to profit from customer interest that technology makes possible.

Under pressure from all sides, Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office had dithered about so-called orphan works, books whose owners or authors are hard to find. Congress toyed with a test of requiring payment after a "reasonably diligent search" for the owners.

This vague standard "would have been a classic Washington solution to the problem," Lawrence Lessig said in an interview, "meaning it would have been a nightmare." Mr. Lessig, a Stanford law professor and author of several books on copyright, says the registry is a huge breakthrough because it ends uncertainty. "Establishing who owns what is real progress," he says. "An efficient solution can be found once there is settling of property rights."

Google still claims it has the right to index content on the Web for its search engine. Exactly what snippet or excerpt goes too far for fair use in other cases remains unclear. Under the registry it will set up, the owners of the intellectual property can set prices for book downloads, have a Google algorithm set prices, or refuse access altogether.

The market solution means Google will now offer millions of books for sale, sharing the proceeds with publishers and authors. Books long out of print will be searchable and available for a fee.

This is a sharp break from Google's approach of gaining access to content such as newspaper and magazine articles simply by providing advertising-supported links, though the company warns not to read too much into this precedent of agreeing to make direct payments for content or encouraging its users to pay for content online.

This shift by Google led Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs books, to wonder if the book settlement could have lessons for other owners of content. "Google has now conceded, with a very large payment, that information is not free," Mr. Osnos wrote for the Century Foundation. "This leads to an obvious, critical question: Why aren't newspapers and news magazines demanding payment for use of their stories on Google and other search engines? Why are they not getting a significant slice of the advertising revenues generated by use of their stories via Google?"

Sometimes, maybe it's best when private entities are forced to figure out ways to deal with each other.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Never Steal a Law Student's Laptop

One would-be robber discovered why:

Then the robber made the mistake that ultimately landed him in the hospital -- he went for the laptop. According to Botsios [the student], he said "Dude, no -- please, no! I have all my case notes...that's four months of work!" Saucedo, obviously underestimating the fury of an overstressed, overworked first-year, was unsympathetic. That's when Botsios could take no more.

Wrestling Saucdeo to the floor, Botsios separated the bat from the thief and repeatedly punched him in the face. When it was all over, police had to get Saucedo stitched up before charging him with armed robbery and kidnapping, while Botsios only suffered some scrapes and a bruised knuckle. Most importantly, at least to the student, is that his laptop, which he called "his baby," escaped unharmed. Next time, Saucedo might want to try robbing a third-year student, as they're generally more docile.

Nobody comes between a law student and his laptop!

(Hat-tip: Kanita)

Friday, October 24, 2008

UC Irvine: Get a Legal Education for Free!

It is well known that California has the largest number of lawyers of any state. In fact, there are often complaints that there are simply too many lawyers in California. UC Irvine's law school has the answer: free legal education!

Students who enroll at the University of California’s new law school in Irvine next fall will get their legal education for free.

The law school is giving full tuition scholarships worth about $100,000 to its first 2009 class of about 60 students, the National Law Journal reports.

There you have it. If there are too many lawyers, the solution is to make it easier to get a legal education, rather than targeted incentives such as loan forgiveness for those intending to work in the public interest. What's this you say about a California budget crisis?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Biting Billables

Above the Law reports that O'Melveny & Myers is cutting staff in both the New York and Los Angeles offices. In the Los Angeles office:

Five associates are gone, a number of staffers have been let go, and there are rumors about more to come. Performance related or not, "job security" is surely a thing of the past.

The premise for the terminations apparently has to do with "performance". The tipsters seem to indicate that this means that people simply having been billing enough.

Many law students take it for granted that billable hours are a standard to surpass, but that first year associates are not required to meet those numbers. This may still be true, but certainly with these sorts of dismissals, especially during a time when most first year associates would be watching their backs and making sure they do not provide large firms with excuses for dismissal, one wonders whether the allegedly inadequate numbers are much higher than usual, or the O'Melveny Class of '07 simply wasn't up to scratch, or some combination thereof.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Law Jobs in the Economic Downturn

TaxProf has posted a blog entry discussing bleak job prospects for current law students. Hey, TaxProf, I've got news for you: it sucks for current graduates, too!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Michigan Makes Exceptions to LSAT

Apparently, the University of Michigan's law school will now be setting aside 5-10 out of its incoming class of about 350-400 students for in-state undergraduates, whose LSAT scores will not be assessed. Read story here.

I'm not so sure about this. There's much to be said for finding alternatives to standardized testing. The question for any alternative is whether or not it is a good measurement of a person's ability to handle the bar exam and the practice of law.

Friday, September 19, 2008

RIP Professor Whitebread

Professor Charles Whitebread has passed away.

Those readers who have graduated by 2008 will certainly recognize Prof, Whitebread as Bar/Bri's designated Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure instructor. His methodology was at first unorthodox, as he did not provide a shorter version of the main outline. Rather, he taught us that we already knew the law, and that all we needed to do was group the particular common law crimes according to a time-tested fashion. Developing an outline subsequently from his lecture was probably time better spent than reading the entire 70-page long outline (and that's just for Criminal Law!).

Prof. Whitebread, you will be missed. Requiesce in pacem.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bar Trip Review

It has now been more than a week since the end of the Great American Post-Bar Road Trip, and I'm here now to provide some review. We'll go according to topics as they occur to me.

When the trip was just a thought in my head, gas prices were shooting up all over the country. I had thought that, at about 10,000 miles, the cost of gas would end up being about $2000, assuming $5.00 per gallon, and about 25 miles per gallon. As it was, we got closer to 28 miles per gallon, at about $4.00 per gallon, across 9791 miles, for a total of about $1400 in gas. The least expensive average tended to be in Houston. The Pacific Time Zone seemed the most expensive, as was New York City and Ontario Province. The single most expensive fuel stop was in Eureka, CA, where we refueled for $4.499 per gallon.

At any rate, fuel turned out, as expected, to be the most expensive portion of the trip.

Food was the second highest expense (less than $1000), but was still significantly less expensive than fuel. This, even though we were often treated to meals by our hosts, and even once by a cousin in Chicago (thanks, Jannet!). Among the reasons why the costs stayed high include the facts that we would get really sick of McDonald's and eat well once in a while; and the fact that we would often buy beef jerky, Pepsi, and Monster, to break up the boredom of long stretches of Interstate. We also spent some money on water, although no tray of bottled water was ever more expensive than an average 3.5-ounce bag of beef jerky.

Lodging was the third highest expense. Fortunately, we had the gracious help of friends and family, and we also roughed it twice. On Days Four and Five, we stayed with Uncle Thomas; on Day Eight, we stayed with Hraesvelg; on Day Twelve, we slept in the car at a bright, 24-hour shop in Connecticut on the border with Rhode Island; on Day Fourteen, we stayed with Aunt Nancy; on Day Sixteen, we stayed with Uncle JT; on Day Seventeen, we stayed with Nuki06FireZ; on Day Twenty, we slept in the car in two different rest stops in western Montana; on Day Twenty-Two, we stayed with Derek; and on Day Twenty-Three, we were home.

In connection with this, we noticed that the rest stops in the Southeast were probably the most attractive; they had plentiful vending machines and were clean. Montana's rest stops were mostly under renovation, but the last one along Interstate 90 was something else: it had eight single-capacity bathrooms, and the ones for men each had both a urinal and a toilet. There was no vending machine, though.

As for hotels, the worst one was Regency Inn, in Jacksonville, FL. Sure, it was not very expensive, but it was in a terrible part of town (the Denny's there closes, and the McDonald's stores shut off their lights), the carpets were sticky, and the non-smoking room reeked of cigarette smoke.

The best deal had to be the Route 66 Hotel and Casino. There were no taxes, whether sales, service, or room. The interior was comparable to a four-star hotel in any major city. We really didn't want to leave!

The most important thing, however, is thank you, to those friends and family that put us up. We really appreciated it, and hope to be able to return the favor one day!

We often came across road construction on the Interstates, as well as on some of the national and local highways. Fortunately, we tended to avoid major cities during rush hours; even so, sometimes road construction would significantly reduce our pace. Easily one in ten miles was under construction. Even at a more conservative estimate of one in every twenty miles, that still meant nearly five hundred miles of road construction encountered along the way.

The worst roads were probably those in downtown Manhattan, with its numerous potholes. The worst highways, however, were easily rural Québec, which felt a lot worse than Manhattan. Further, we drove that highway at night, so it was impossible to see the potholes to avoid them, although I strongly doubt I could have avoided them even had I been able to see them.

Urban vs. Rural
Because we did not stay in any one place (or have enough money) to do all that much, most cities to me did not stand out all that much. The ones that seemed to have a more particular character were Houston (the humidity!), New Orleans (goes without saying), Washington, D.C. (monuments galore), New York City (goes without saying), Montréal (the Frenchness!), Chicago (the traffic), Seattle (like a clean version of San Francisco), and Berkeley (the tree sitters). There are of course other cities that have plenty of character, such as San Francisco (which I know because I've been there for much longer periods of time on other occasions), or even Boston, but we really did not explore these cities long enough to savor their character.

The countryside was likewise rather plain, particularly the corn fields of Iowa and Minnesota. However, we did get to watch some pretty spectacular sunsets (we never woke up early enough for a sunrise). Also, the family farms of northern Ohio and Indiana were very picturesque; since they are not far from large cities, they are worth visiting without having to abandon "civilization".

As for wilderness areas and protected areas, the ones that left the deepest impressions were: the Grand Canyon in Arizona; the White Mountains in New Hampshire; Niagara Falls in Ontario and New York; Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; Yellowstone in Wyoming; and the Redwoods in northern California.

This is a huge country, and to do real justice to everything there is to see and do would require a lot more time than we spent on this trip. Nevertheless, we are very happy to have had this opportunity to get a glimpse of so much.

The Soundtrack
We listened primarily to three CDs, two of which were compilations burned by yours truly a long time ago. (There were no newly-burned compilation CDs on this trip.) The third was a live recording of the Three Tenors, with Zubin Mehta conducting. The other two CDs included:

  • Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody"
  • UB40 - "Kingston Town"
  • Big Mountain - "Baby I Love Your Way"
  • OMD - "If You Leave"
  • Cause & Effect - "You Think You Know Her"
  • Alizée - "Moi Lolita"
  • New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle"
  • Paola e Chiara - "Vamos a Bailar"
  • Lightning Seeds - "Pure"
  • Yaz - "Only You"
  • Andrea Bocelli - "O Sole Mio" and "Nessun Dorma"
  • Colm Wilkinson - "This Is the Moment"
  • Frank Sinatra - "Strangers in the Night", "It Had to Be You", and "Blue Skies"
  • Louis Armstrong - "What a Wonderful World" and "Moon River"
  • Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole - "Unforgettable"
  • and many others that I don't recall right now

Summary All in all, it's been a very tiring experience, and fairly expensive, at about $3700. However, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bond with dad, and I will never regret having done this. Hopefully, if you try this, too, you will have the benefit of our experience.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bar Trip Day 23

Today, Day Twenty-Three, was the final day of the trip. We left early from Derek's place, because the parking meter starts running at nine in the morning on weekdays. Since Derek lives so close to the Bay Bridge, we had no trouble getting on and finding our way to the other side of the San Francisco Bay. Since dad got to go to his alma mater on this trip, it was my turn.

There is a spot on Sproul Plaza which is theoretically not subject to the laws or jurisdiction of any human nation or state.

I used to be a regular near Sather Gate, when I used to "table" for the Chinese Student Union.

I used to have an Americano and a scone at Caffè Strada before classes. This time, I just had a cafe au lait.

When I started fifteen years ago, Underhill was a set of tennis courts above a parking lot. During my freshman year, the tennis courts were torn down, and Underhill was just a parking pit for several years. Now, Underhill is again covered, this time by a soccer field.

The dorms have grown, too. The dining commons has been relocated away from the central plaza of each complex of dorms, and new buildings have been added to each unit complex. I had to live in both Cheney and Deutsch my freshman year, because of renovations.

From atop the hill at the Lawrence Hall of Science, one gets a much better view of both Berkeley and the Bay Area.

Along the way to the freeway from the Lawrence Hall of Science, we encountered a stand-off between authorities and tree-sitting protesters. Word has it that the protesters were eventually removed from their perch.

Along the way, it seemed like locals were setting up shop near the mesmerized throngs.

We decided to take US Route 101 this time, so as to be able to get to Pismo Beach along the way. Why? To have clam chowder at Splash Cafe.

Pismo Beach is home to some nice views of the Pacific Ocean.

The locals like it, too.

Finally, we found our way back to Santa Monica Pier, which is where we "officially" started.

Icy Z has traveled 9,745 miles since leaving Santa Monica the first time around. There is also the extra distance from home to Santa Monica, adding about 40 miles to the total.

Hango was glad to see us back again.

This is the last video log entry of this trip.

Thank you for keeping up with this travelogue!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bar Trip Day 22

This has turned out to be the penultimate day of this trip. Today, which is Day Twenty-Two, we headed south from Eugene, Oregon, to Grants Pass, where we hopped on US Route 199, which together with a long stretch of US Route 101 in Northern California comprises the modern Redwood Highway. Redwood trees depend greatly on fog or mist, as shown here along the California Coast:

With this access to water, redwoods can grow very large indeed.

When many redwoods grow close to each other to form a forest, the result is striking, indeed. It is a mixture of colors and shapes hardly visible anywhere else on this planet.

Icy Z, every bit the Fairlady, gets in on the act.

Better in color or in sepia?

Although all mature redwoods are huge, one particular tree has been designated as "Big Tree" in Prairie Creek State Park, which is part of the Redwood National and State Park system.

Afterward, we pushed ever farther south. We had originally thought we might stay in Santa Rosa so as to be able to get up early in the morning to get a picture of San Francisco, or at least of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, that would leave us too little time for tomorrow's final drive. Fortunately, Derek was able on short notice to let us crash in his living room, so we pushed on into the city. This is a view of the San Francisco base of the Bay Bridge, as seen from Icy Z, near where Derek's place is.

Check out today's video log entry for today's highlights.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bar Trip Days 20-21

Our push toward the Pacific has come to an end. After our experience with Mount Rushmore, we began Day Twenty with a big breakfast:

From Cody, Wyoming, it was about 50 miles to Yellowstone. For much of that route, we were in the Buffalo Bill State Park, which covers the town of Wapiti, and the northern fork of the Shoshone River, which was lined with fascinating geological structures.

Finally, we arrived.

One of the first things we saw was Yellowstone Lake. At a particular point, Steamboat Point, dad discussed philosophy with a local.

The surface waters of the lake itself are bone-chillingly cold, despite the fact that hot vents steamed around the lake, as well as elsewhere throughout Yellowstone.

One of the delights was being able to meet the locals. Alvin and Simon turned out, but Theodore was probably asleep.

The Continental Divide snakes through the park. At the point where this picture was taken, the snowmelt in a shallow pool flow two ways. One way leads to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. The other leads to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, which drain the entire American Midwest, spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

We did get to see Old Faithful. It was really cold while we waited for the geyser to erupt. When it actually did, it was difficult to see the water behind the steam.

On our way toward Mammoth Hot Springs near the North Exit, we ran into more locals, such as this buffalo.

Along the way, we saw Gibbon Falls, but no gibbons. After Niagara, though, Gibbon Falls is simply not as impressive.

When we finally got to Mammoth Hot Springs, we found that the waters were mostly dormant, making most of the terraces about as dry as Liberty Cap.

Nonetheless, there was at least one spring whose source waters were still in place.

On our way out, we finally met some elk. The rangers urged us along, but had nothing to say to this fellow who decided to cross the street without a favorable light.

As we left the park, there was a stone arch to send us on our way.

We got into Montana, and took Interstate 90 toward Spokane, Washington. We drove all night, taking small breaks here and there. We did not get much sleep; a Nissan 350Z is not a comfortable bed. Nonetheless, we did what we could as safely as possible. We got to the Columbia River Gorge, along the interstate west of Spokane, well before mid-morning.

As we kept pushing toward Seattle, we got glimpses of Mount Rainier in the distance.

Approaching Seattle meant crossing Lake Washington, first onto Mercer Island, and then into Seattle itself.

We paid for some parking in order to see Pike Place Market. Parking is very expensive downtown, so we could only afford 30 minutes. That meant most of our walk was rushed.

Because of the haste, I could not explore the brewery more than posing for this picture.

But I did feel a connection to this, the first ever Starbucks store.

The market is beautiful; unfortunately, we could neither see it all nor really linger on any one thing.

Finally, we called around and found our way to Lake View Cemetery, where Bruce Lee and his son Brandon are buried. We paid our respects. At first, given the effort it took to find the place, we were skeptical. After having seen the graves, however, and the obvious love and affection shown to the Lees, we felt touched in a way we hadn't thought possible. It was well worth the trip.

After our visit with the Lees, we headed south on Interstate 5, which we took to calling "the road home". We stopped by the University of Oregon for the sake of a cousin, and ended up calling it an early night here in Eugene, Oregon.

Before we sign off for the night, here is the latest video log entry.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bar Trip Day 19

After a good rest last night, we began Day Nineteen by driving into Rapid City, South Dakota, and then heading south to see Mount Rushmore. Along the way, we finally managed to get a picture of the hay rolls; apparently, hay and cattle are bigger in South Dakota than corn and soya beans, which we had seen plenty of since northern Ohio.

As we neared Rapid City, we saw barren gray hills unsuitable for either farming or grazing. It was the Badlands.

Mount Rushmore is a stone's throw from Rapid City. You take US Route 16 up into the Black Hills, and go about 25-30 miles. From the road, Gutzon Borglum's monument to America seems no big deal.

Nonetheless, we decided to go in. There is no admission, but there is a fee for parking in a private parking lot. It's a rather nice lot, and it only costs $10 per car. Since we'd come all this way, we paid the fee and went in. We posed with some of the natives, since dad was born in the year of the sheep (which in Chinese (羊) could refer to either sheep or goat ...

... and I'm a Capricorn.

More than 60 years after his death, soon after which his son, who took over for him, declared the monument "complete", Gutzon Borglum stays close to the work for which he will always be remembered.

The amphitheatre is lower than Grand View Terrace and thus gives a better perspective as to just how huge the monument is.

Some friendly fellow tourists offered to help us commemorate this father-son road trip.

A final closeup of George, Tom, Teddy, and Abe.

Afterward, we decided to look for Crazy Horse. We found him, but were asked to pay $20 to see him. We decided that that was four times too much, so we turned around and got a shot of the Chief from the road.

After Mount Rushmore, we continued taking US Route 16 into Wyoming. As we approached Buffalo, we could see the beginnings of the Big Horn mountains.

At Buffalo, we decided to take the southern fork around the mountains. We've finally come to rest here at Cody, from where we plan to tackle Yellowstone tomorrow morning and early afternoon, before we head for Montana to get back on Interstate 90 in our push toward the Pacific.

Before I sign off for the night, here is today's video blog entry: