Greetings and a belated welcome to 2017! 🙂
Another year has come and gone, and the world spins ever onward. As such, it’s time to do an “end of year wrap-up” here at Dinosaur Bear, which essentially means 1) Complain about Law School 2) Not complain about the holidays!
I’ll get the whining out of the way first – last semester might have been the worst since the first semester of 1L and at the very least it was far worse than all of 2L. 3L is supposed to be all “omg so bored” but I messed that up somewhere along the line. Quite frankly I just tried to do way too much. The plus side of it was that I got to do some awesome research assistant work with a really cool professor. The downside was that my actual black-letter law coursework really suffered. Sure, I don’t have my grades yet (since such things take 30 years, give or take, at HLS), but I am profoundly concerned about the outcome of my Tax exam. I ended up studying really.. eh.. ineffectively? for it. Mostly I focused on the language of the regulations and not enough on learning Excel formulas. So naturally the exam was about 80% formulas. It was a good time. It’s the first time in law school that I ran out of time on an exam and just had to blindly guess on a few questions. Which was also part of the problem, a fair portion of the exam was multiple choice. What’s great about a traditional “issue spotter” law school exam is that you can savagely word vomit for 20,000 words and generally will know you didn’t fail (though to be fair I guess even that is situational). Multiple choice doesn’t really offer that chance to vomit. I mean you can literally vomit on your laptop if you like, but it’s not going to get you a better grade plus it’s nasty.
Anyways, Taxation aside, exams were exams. Despite my incessant complaining I generally don’t get that worked up over exams. In fact even on the exams where I’ve done pretty “meh” I’ve not lost any sleep over it. In fact there have really only been 2 classes in all of law school where my exam shitter-shattered me – my very first law school exam, and now tax. Interestingly enough, that first exam is also my worst grade so far, let’s hope Tax doesn’t go for the record. 🙂 [And lest you think a “bad” grade for me is something like a B, nah, I legit got the lowest grade possible above an F, haha – though zero fucks were ultimately given, it’s my hot body I do what I want.]
Oh, and in keeping up with tradition here is a shot of my miscellaneous handouts and notes from the semester – excluding, as usual, the casebooks themselves.
But hey, I can’t complain too much (challenge accepted) I got 13 days of no law school. Which in hindsight is kind of funny since in undergrad you get like what.. 3.5 months off for Christmas? Those were the days. Long brakes and classes that didn’t have mandatory law school curves. 😀
Still, in Taco’s world Mandatory Curves = Mandatory Beer. Beer is the life blood of a law student, or at the very least beer is my lifeblood, as a lot of my classmates drink $15 mixed-drinks.
I also had no shortage of beer through the holidays, which is a good thing. Oh, speaking of beer, if you haven’t looked at it recently or ever, I’ve retired The Beer List – an update explaining why can be found on its page. The TL;DR is that it’s just been streamlined elsewhere.
On the non-beer front, I’m currently knee-deep in J-Term. This is my first “normal” J-Term in that I’m not stuck in that abhorrent waste of life known as the 1L Problem Solving Workshop, nor am I off on magical awesome adventures in New Mexico. Instead I’m taking a straight up doctrinal class. It’s 3.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. Which is about 3 days too many in my opinion. The good news is that class is over at 12:30pm, leaving me all afternoon to do fun stuff like try to finish the 100 pages of reading for the next morning. That’s no exaggeration either, we’re going through a 1107 page book in 11 class periods, not counting the supplemental readings. Still, I’m really interested in the topic – American Indian Law – but it’s just uh.. a lot of law school. I get home from that 3.5 hour class feeling mentally the same as when I’d put in 10 hour days at the DOJ. The good news is that my research assistant position has been delayed a bit due to Congress being worthless, but that also means I’m currently making no money, so it’s a double-edged sword. It will start up before the end of the month, but at the moment I’m kind of glad it’s been pushed back a bit, even in spite of the lack of income.
What I’m really not looking forward to is that with the way J-Term works, you have 1 single day between the end of class and your exam. Then after your exam you have 2 days before the Spring Semester starts. It’s pretty cool. Yep. I live for it, yisssssssssssssssss.
Anyways, enough about that crap. I’ll update on law school again once I’ve done my J-Term Exam and have a more finalized Spring Term schedule (and I also have a cool update about what I’m doing for “Spring Break” to share at some point).
Let’s backtrack a bit and get to the good stuff – that is the holidays!
Yes, the holidays were a happy time of year as usual, even if they were slightly abbreviated due to my exam schedule and SB’s work schedule this year. That said, we didn’t let the shortened length hamper our fun and we partook of all the usual holiday fun, such as eggnog.
Yes, that’s Valentino upside in the couch – he had a bit too much eggnog.
December also saw our first bit of snow that amounted to anything.
Though as I type this (1/8) we have a lot more outside – somewhere around 1 foot.
In addition to eggnog we made some cookies for SB to take to various places – we went with a classic: gingerbread!
Of course we also had our little ole’ traditional “Taco’s House” family Christmas, which has grown over the years from just SB, Little Friend, and I to a whole swarm of buddies.
This was Pigsten’s first Christmas. As he is still a hatchling we don’t know how much of it he understood, but he liked all the colorful and shiny packages.
Even Tristen got wrapped up in the excitement.
The big “pressie” this year was Journal 3 from Gravity Falls. Unless you’ve watched the show it would be kind of hard to explain the significance of the Journal, but needless to say everyone was pretty excited about it. Plus, we still aren’t sure where it came from! Mysteries! If you haven’t heard of Gravity Falls, I’d recommend watching it unless you just despise cartoons.
One of the characters on Gravity Falls, “Waddles” is one of Pig’s favorite characters, for obvious reasons.
After having presents and stopping Tristen (multiple times) from casting spells from Journal we all had some Taco-made pancakes and special coffee!
Special in that we’d saved it since we met the Santa Claus in North Pole. It was pretty strong – probably to keep the Elves awake – but good!
Our family Christmas was two days earlier than usual this year, in large part because rather than flying from Boston back home we decided to take a train! Yep, after our high-speed train ride from Berlin to Munich, our train trip from Chicago to Seattle, and train ride (nearly) halfway across Alaska, not to mention our nearly constant short train trips on public transit, we are a bit hooked on train travel. Plus, as our voyage took us from Boston to Chicago, we’ve now been coast-to-coast on a train! As we’ve largely forsaken our passenger rail network in the US (I can soap-box that for hours, and even took a one-person graduate course in undergrad about this very thing) our options were Amtrak, Amtrak, or Amtrak. So, after the difficult decision of choosing our provider, we settled with Amtrak and booked our sleeper car (seriously the only way to do a train with an overnight component trust me) on the Lake Shore Limited! We later found out that that particular route is one of the worst performing routes in Amtrak’s entire network, but more on that in a moment.
Things started out pretty sweet. After we arrived at South Station we were setting on metal stools with our luggage among the “plebs” as Tristen would say. Well, on a whim I happened to notice that our sleeper cat ticket also got us access to the First Class Amtrak lounge known as “ClubAcela.” So we went from crappy seats in a crowded station, to a private comfortable lounge with free newspapers, coffee, snacks, TVs, etc.
This is what one might call “Shitting in high cotton.”
I took like five Cliff bars – those things are expensive. So, after enjoying our small bit of high society (check your tickets people!) we moved out to our train. We got to bypass all the poor souls in coach and go straight to our sleeper car. It was pretty nice – though in fairness our coach experience on the Alaskan Railroad was pretty awesome, but we also had pretty much an entire car to ourselves, whereas here the train was sold out and Coach was packed and depressing and basically the 1st Circle of Hell.
Meanwhile, we settled into our small (read: tiny) lowest tier sleeper room (which is plenty for us) and took advantage of our free food, drinks, and WiFi!
While the beer didn’t come free, sadly, we didn’t let that stop us from throwing back a few beers “on the rails.”
For the most part things were rolling along pretty well the first day (it was supposed to be a 19 hour trip) – we even left South Station at exactly the right time, even the Germans would have been proud. However, somewhere in New York things started to go downhill. First there was some sort of accident on – or near – the track which caused us to be held up. I’m still not sure exactly what it was, but when we finally got through the area there were downed power lines, about 5 cop cars, and at least 10 full-sized utility trucks. So, by the time we hit the hay we were about 2 hours behind schedule. The boys stayed up a lot later than us, hunting mice and grubs.
Despite being behind schedule, neither SB or I were too concerned because on our way to Seattle we were at one point 8 hours behind, but then made up all but like 1.5 or 2 hours of that overnight (we got stuck behind an oil train, which I cold also soapbox about – e.g. right-of-ways). So we figured the same thing would happen this time. NOPE. When we woke up we weren’t 2 hours behind, we were six hours behind. By the time we were supposed to arrive in Chicago we are only halfway through Ohio. So yeah. The good news is that SB’s family – who were picking us up – had stayed in a hotel in Chicago the night before, so they weren’t sitting at Union Station twiddling their thumbs. Anyways, as we progressed deeper into the Midwest things were mostly grey and snowy – go figure, but some of the river crossings were really cool (literally) with all the ice.
Once we got out of Ohio things sped up a bit, and pretty much all of Northern Indiana went by fairly seamlessly.
Anyways, we eventually made it into Chicago – about 5.5 hours late. We weren’t overly pleased about that, but given the state of our passenger railways you can’t really expect super performance on long-distance rides. The good news is that despite the large delay, we both enjoyed the trip. The only real downside is that delay caused me to miss seeing one of my friends (and the new Star Wars movie) – and since I literally only see my friends one time per year anymore, that kind of sucked. But hey, we’ve now been coast-to-coast on a train! 😀 The silver lining of being so late was that since I missed hanging out with my friends, we were able to hang out more with SB’s family and we even stopped through our old Stompin’ grounds of Lafayette, IN to have dinner (and beer) at the Lafayette Brewing Company. It was kind of funny, SB forgot her ID in the car and our server gave us a little spiel about “This is Indiana” which was funny because we’re from Indiana, but also because MA is like 50x more anal about IDs than Indiana is anyways.
All in all, we had great fun with the fam-fam. We didn’t stay through New Years this time around, but the Christmas schedule itself was largely unchanged. The Boys got to hang out with their Cousin Scooby.
Pigsten found Grandma Meem’s little holiday village and pretty much stayed there for 48 hours straight – and was surprisingly hard to find!
Pig bonded with his Sensai Mr. Bear, and they discussed Pig’s recent 1000 hour Yoga certification and how Mr. Bear was spending his time enjoying Nirvana.
The humans had pressies, food (oh so much food), alcohol, and family game time. I don’t even remember the name of this particular game, but SB won 20 freaking dollars worth of quarters during it!
I also tried a Budweiser for the first time in probably 5+ years. Budweiser holds a special place for me because it was the first beer I ever drank at the ripe ole’ age of 2 (or less). So, while I’ve moved on to other beers, I generally try to avoid beer-snobbery towards Budweiser specifically. But after getting Daryl 1 a twelve-pack for Christmas and noticing that the beer literally says “America” on the front, I just had to try one.
And it sucked. I mean god it was terrible. What’s weird, is that it was somehow worse than Bud Light. I mean.. what? But bonus points for plastering “AMERICA” all over the front of the now Belgian-owned beer.
The boys also partook of some beer… obviously.
Aside from SB slaughtering us in some quarter card game, we also busted out the ole’ Nintendo 64 which allowed me to redeem my e-peen at Mario Kart.
It was a lot of fun, though those 64 graphics don’t fare so well when stretched out to fill Meem’s TV (which Daryl 1 once broke in a fit of emo rage – seriously, I should tell that story sometime).
We also got out and about some, since our hometown has basically nothing to do in it. SB and MIL were supposed to get tattoos, but fate bitch slapped that idea. So we went and drank lots of beer at a place called “The Tap” – which lives up to its name.
In fact, they not only had an amazingly good selection of beer for Indiana, they had a damn good selection of beer period. Easily Top 5. BIL ordered a freaking $14 beer though, which cracked me up as I still have anal-rage over my $12.16 beer from freaking downtown Washington D.C. Anyways, in order to keep the good times a flowin’ we also went to a liquor store after the pub (which should be a rule) and bought some more beer, which we drank later. The first of which was an interesting offering from Dogfish Head which we mostly got due to the name and label.
Then we had a Rhubarb Sour Ale from “Tin Man Brewing” – in fact this was kind of the reason why we’d went to the liquor store as I’d had another sour from Tin Man at The Tap and the server had recommended this Rhubarb Sour Ale, but The Tap didn’t have it. So we went and found it in true alchy style.
Sours were kind of a theme for the evening, I love sours.
We also had Dogfish’s “World Wide Stout” which was ehm.. not well received. Maybe it was because we had it after the sours, but holy crap, it ended up being 18% ABV. It is not one I’d drink again.
In fact, so unenthused by that stout were BIL and I, that we had to wash down our beer with a beer.
Funnily enough, that “chaser” beer got me a badge on Untappd that I never thought I’d get – “Take it Easy” – which is for drinking twelve beers in one day. Yep, I’d lie and say I’m not proud, but I would be lying. Plus these were 12 real beers, not 12 Coors Lights, so Yessum, I earned that badge. Mmm gamification of alcoholism.
Sadly, for all the good company, good food, good (and bad) beer, and fun times, eventually we had to leave. It felt really short this year, namely because it was shorter than it’s ever been. But, that’s probably the way things will work from here on out. So we just have to make do with the time we had! Being an adult isn’t all fun and games I suppose – though I did get a new toothbrush this year, which was actually my most exciting physical present (not even joking, though it was a fancy $80 electric toothbrush to be fair)! For their part the boys seemed to enjoy themselves just as much as usual, especially their sleepovers and football games with Floppsy.
After a farewell lunch with my Dad, Stepmom, and Daryl 1 (once again at The Coachman) we were on our way by home – this time by plane, which while faster (much faster) than train, is generally far less exciting and magical – though we did make it out right before a big storm which was nice. The one exciting bit was that at some point in the past year Southwest had sent SB (but not me, lol) free drink tickets. So we busted out those bad boys real quick like. I even got to try a beer I’d never had before, “12 of Never” by Lagunitas.
What was even better, is that they didn’t actually take our drink coupons, so we can just use them again!
It was kind of a bumpy flight back, or maybe the beer just made it seem that way. 🙂 Still, there were no issues or delays and soon enough we were flying over the outskirts of Boston.
We then proceeded to fly like 50 miles out into the ocean and take the weirdest approach I’ve ever seen to Logan before, but the landing itself was far less eventful than certain landings I’ve had at Logan in the past. Once landed the first thing we heard at baggage claim was that an entire flight worth of luggage had just uh.. not came? or something. Either way I was like “welp this is gonna be good.” But fortunately for us our luggage came out just fine – albeit slowly, but better than destroyed. From there we made it home fairly uneventfully – though I did time it and it took us 1.5 hours to make it to our front door from the time our plane made it to the gate. Meaning that we can nearly fly 1000 miles in less time than it takes us to go 4.8 miles in Boston. That’s sad.
Once we were home the boys tried out some of their
clothes armor they had gotten for Christmas.
Valentino was ready to bring in 2017, even several days before the rest of the world was.
Pigsten was especially enthralled by some dinosaur Christmas socks that Meem got me. They were the “Sock Guy” brand just like my fire breathing T-rex socks.
After getting all settled in from our trip home we had a few fairly normal days. I was mostly working on finalizing my bar application (now sent on its way, woo!), SB was working, and Pig was doing Yoga.
During out first Friday back we tried out a new place called R.F. O’Sullivan & Son for date night, which we’d meaning to go to for awhile. We naturally had some beer. I went with the holiday “Celebration Ale” from Sierra Nevada:
While SB went with one of her standbys of Allagash White.
Part of why we tried out R.F. O’Sullivan & Son was because it was right across the street from Star Market, which we needed to visit in our ongoing search for corned beef (for New Years). Turns out, Star Market didn’t have it either (not even the butcher up the street from us had it), so we settled from a nice looking lamb shank and then picked up the last ingredients for a special pie I was making – both of which were for New Year’s Eve.
The lamb turned out AMAZING. I didn’t really have a recipe, just sort of went with a bunch of Taco-picked spices and a nice slow cooking process, and also beer, always beer.
Nothing like eating beer while you drink beer if I do say so myself.
Our featured beer of New Year’s Eve was “Route 101” by Ipswich Ale Brewing, a fairly local brewery.
As for that pie, it was a Pumpkin-Flan-Coffee Pie. Yes, a Pumpkin, Flan, and Coffee Pie – and it was awesome.
Like most of my creations there was no recipe, I just went for it, and it turned out delicious. I have a pretty good track record with just randomly creating things. They might not aesthetically score many points, but the flavor is generally good.
So, with our slow-cooked semi-corned lamb, beer, and hybrid pie we brought in the New Year by doing what we do best, staying in our apartment. 😀
We had talked about going out for some of Boston’s “First Night” celebrations, but it was cold and raining so we just stayed put and watched it all on TV. Actually that isn’t true, we could see Hancock Tower (er.. I guess it’s know known as the lackluster 200 Clarendon building) lit up like a candle. It’s kind of hard to see in this photo, but the building generally only has a flashing little red light on top, but on New Year’s Eve – or at least this New Year’s Eve (we’ve only been here for one) – they lit it up like a candle on top, it was pretty cool.
While waiting for the local fireworks (and the ball in NYC) we played a few games, starting with Blokus Duo – an instant Pigsten favorite due to the colors.
We also played a couple games of Scrabble Slam – including trying to do it with 5 cards instead of 4, which made the game literally impossible – though that was kind of fun in its own way. Then, soon enough Boston’s fireworks started, and we were able to watch them out our window and on TV – always funny.
And that was pretty much our New Year. Nothing to fancy, but still fun. Each other + the boys + food + beer = happiness. SB even managed to stay up until Midnight! She struggles these days. :p
Since SB took the 2nd off, and I didn’t start classes until the 3rd our mini New Year vacation was extended by a day, which was nice – though I mostly spent it preparing for J-Term. Once SB was back at work and I was back to going to school daily things quickly returned to normal and now we are all in our “busy bee” schedules again. Valentino and Pig are in their last semester at BC, and Tristen is – like me – on his final stretch of law school. SB is working two jobs, and trying to grow her Yoga practice. Pigsten is continuing Clifford School, and naturally has lots of construction work to do.
Speaking of Pigsten, the little fellow turned 1 on January 4th! We celebrated with some of his favorite things, a green drink, colorful things that look like rocks, as well as some gummy worms which Pig is obsessed with so Pigsten likes too! Seems like just yesterday Pigsten came to be known as Pigsten.
We still aren’t entirely sure he knows what a birthday is, but he was very pleased with his tasty colorful things and opportunity to use his truck!
So, in other words, things have gotten back to “Normal” here – insofar as such a thing as normal exists in the Taco household. 😉
Thus, the Christmas tree and presents and holiday movies have given way to the January grind, complete with a foot of snow on the ground. But, there are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. None of which are quite finalized yet – and in fact most of them are still closer to ideas than actual plans – but I’ll be sure to share those things as they begin to solidify. In the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on, as will Dinosaur Bear. In fact, Dinosaur Bear turns five years old this year, and while it wasn’t always known as Dinosaur Bear, it’s the same blog with the same ole’ me, so it counts. :p
2016 had some incredibly exciting events. From New Mexico, to Montana, to Wyoming (and briefly Idaho!), to Canada, to Alaska, to trains, planes, automobiles, boats, ships, and even a Unimog. Knowing SB and I, we won’t settle for too much of the mundane, so here’s to 2017 and whatever excitement it ends up bringing our way. 🙂
Until next time, and Happy New Year!