Print Story The last several days
By aphrael (Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:27:08 PM EST) (all tags)
It's been an amazing couple of days, and while I'm still kinda tired and it's really unpleasantly warm, I'm in a really happy place.

The TL;DR of the last several days:

  • Wednesday, Supreme Court decision day. Proposition 8 is dead. I don't like the legal reasoning used to kill it, but it's dead, and I'm amazed at how happy I am about it.
  • Thursday, urgent work crisis day. A work crisis so bad I got email from the director of engineering at 9am asking me if i'd had a chance to look into a problem which had come in at 11.45 the night before and which was discussed entirely on an email trail I wasn't on.
  • Thursday night, practicing law for the first time.
  • Late Thursday night, great fun hanging out with one of my closest friends in the city.
  • Friday, official approval, the project I've been working on since late fall of 2010 has been accepted by our customer. Ding-dong, the witch is dead.
  • Friday night, dinner with a friend to celebrate his birthday; Jared was out of town for the birthday party and wanted a raincheck.
  • Friday night, word comes that the 9th circuit has vacated the stay of the court order enjoining enforcement of Proposition 8, and marriages can begin immediately
  • Friday night, hangout in a bar to celebrate two friends getting new jobs. This turns into an awesome karaoke party which runs until 3am. Jared stayed out for the whole thing.


I wrote about it a little bit here (, but mostly I didn't write about it because I couldn't. I was totally devastated when Proposition 8 passed. It really felt like a personal insult delivered to my face by the voters of my home state; by revoking the right of gay couples to get married, they were explicitly saying that my relationship wasn't equal to a straight relationship, that I wasn't the equal of a straight person. And it wasn't somewhere this was expected; it was my home state. I was crushed. My faith in the democratic system - a bedrock, core principle faith which runs to the heart of my being - wobbled, and I almost lost it.

I dealt with it by escaping to a cruise. No news, no need to talk or think about it, some space from it, allowed me to heal enough that I could function, and move past it. But the wound lingered.

So of course I've followed the court cases that came out if it obsessively.

As a matter of law, I do not like the decision handed down on Wednesday. It uses a legal theory that I think inflicts significant harm on ballot initiative systems. The Supreme Court basically said that when the state officials won't appeal an adverse decision against a ballot initiative, nobody else can, at least not in federal court - something which greatly reduces the power of the initiative system to act as a popular check on abuse by elected officials. I think that's a real problem.

And yet ... I was aware Wednesday, and again today reading the news from last night, that I'm really happy to see Proposition 8 dead. Incredibly, ecstatically happy. It doesn't actually effect me in the slightest, since I don't live in California any more ... but it feels like the lifting of a great blight. The people of my home state called me unequal and inferior; they have been overruled. What's not to celebrate?


I obviously can't go into too many details, because it's work and work's confidences aren't mine to share, but I've been working on a single project since the late fall of 2010. My team does software on pcs that rasterize images and send them to printer hardware, while otherwise telling the hardware what to do. There's a communication protocol between us and the printer firmware, and this project involved rewriting out entire back end because a new model of printers from $manufacturer had a new communication protocol.

April and May were fairly stressful as we scrambled to get through a procedural gateway which was a necessary prerequisite, at a certain time remove, to successfully ending the project on the schedule needed for us to be able to ship with the printer.

We made it through that, and then we had a slog through June trying to finish it off. Thursday there was an enormous crisis in the form of "fix this problem TODAY or we won't be able to approve the software." So the day started with email from the director of engineering asking me if i'd worked yet on this problem that had come in at 11.45pm last night via an email thread i'd never seen until the director of engineering paged me into it. I spent the day working on that, some of my coworkers figured out the solution to the problem, and the team fixed it.

We got approval that night from the printer manufacturer, we can release the software.

Hallelujah. We can move on to the next project (which has actually been running in parallel, and should also be done soon) now.


I am a lawyer. I am licensed to practice law in three states. But I have not been able to get anyone to hire me to practice law. And so I don't.

But there are various ways to volunteer as a lawyer. One of the ones we've got in New York is an office which helps debtors who are representing themselves in court. A typical situation is: you find out one morning that your bank account has been frozen. It turns out that it's been frozen because someone sued you on a debt, you were never served notice and so didn't appear in court, and the court granted a judgment in favor of the person suing you. What do you do?

You come down to this office and some volunteer attorney explains what's going on and what the steps are that you need to follow and, sometimes, helps you draft letters, etc.

I took a training course in April in how to do this. For various complicated scheduling reasons, the first shift I could sign up for was Thursday of this week.

I wanted to do this. Helping people with real problems is kinda the reason I want to be a lawyer. But I was also terrified to do this. I don't know the law in this area particularly well, and i've never actually worked as a lawyer; I wasn't sure I could do it and not simply suck horribly.

My actual performance was mixed. I don't know this area of the law terribly well, but it turns out that for most people's problems you don't need to. It turns out one of my great strengths is explaining to people in a way that makes sure they understand, and in translating things to lay language; I was substantially better at that than the first attorney I worked with, and once my knowledge is more detailed and in depth I'll be one of the better people overall at the clinic.

Which kinda astonishes me and gives me a huge morale and confidence boost. Since I had a similar reaction to the skills of the ADA in my recent jury duty experience,though, I shouldn't have been too surprised.

So I came out of Thursday night wired, with that kind of wired that I can get when I've been scared of something for a while and finally go do it and find out that I didn't need to be scared, combined with the joy of getting to do something I actually really want to do, for the first time.

I'll probably do this about once a month, on a volunteer basis, for the next little bit at any rate.


One of my closest friends in the city is going to school and working, with the result that he works evenings. Which means that the time he's most available for hanging out together is after he gets off work. So Thursday night I met up with him at 11pm; we went to a bar, had some drinks, hung out together until we both passed out watching Dr. Who. There's nothing particularly memorable about the conversation we had this week, but it was still a lot of fun; I really enjoy hanging out with him like this, it's always a great time and leaves me feeling happy the next day. :)


Another friend - a really great guy whom everyone loves -- had a birthday back in early June when Jared was out of town. He had a party. I ditched Governor's Mudder early to go to his birthday party (which turned out to be no great loss as they cancelled the show for the night shortly after sundown anyhow). Jared wanted a raincheck, so we took him out to dinner last night. We went to a lobster bar, which he quite enjoyed (and which I tolerated for the company); it was a good dinner, our friend had a great time, and while I was tired from staying out all night the previous night, I enjoyed it.


Two of our friends in the city just got new jobs. So, as our circle here does, they invited everyone out to a bar to celebrate. That was kinda meh for me - I wasn't drinking because I didn't want to get hammered (foolishly figuring I might be able to get some sleep last night), and the bar wasn't a good place really for talking. But around 11pm we decamped to a karaoke bar down the street.

Karaoke is meh when it's with drunk strangers. It's awesome when it's with friends. So we stayed out, in a group which dwindled in size as the night went on, until 3am. Somewhat to my astonishment, Jared - who doesn't like loud noisy enclosed spaces, doesn't drink, and doesn't like staying up late - was having a blast, and stayed until 3am with everyone else. It was a great time; I want to go do it again. :)

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The last several days | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
Thanks for the summary. by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 04:53:19 PM EST
 And for your insight into the decisions this week.

I'd say you have every right to be giddy. I'm sorry my culture was (and is) so slow in coming around, and so pointedly injurious to people who are different.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

the third? by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 10:16:26 PM EST
CA, NY, and?

New Jersey by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 10:32:50 PM EST
It's a Pyrrhic victory at best. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 01:42:32 AM EST
Opponents of Prop. 8 decided to use the stick of the USSC and not the carrot of a different initiative. Meanwhile, backers of Prop. 8 will become more bitter over their loss at the hands of outsiders.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

stick? by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:39:17 AM EST
There's no federal supremacy here. They said no standing and didn't decide the issue.

And in the DOMA case, it was no Brown v. Board of Education - they called it states' rights, despite the equal protection-y reasoning.

I sure wish there were sticks.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
yes and no by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 10:18:08 AM EST
I agree that they should have passed a new initiative, and i'm irritated that it looks like California will be the Mississippi of 2060, with this antiquated anti-gay provision in its Constitution that has no effect but which lingers as a blight on the text.

That said ... while there is a core of people who will become more bitter over this, I think the majority of Californians will accept it and it will not be a problem. The proper analogy for this is Loving, not Roe.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
The opponents used the stick of the USSC? by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 02:00:24 PM EST
It was the proponents of Prop 8 that appealed to SCOTUS.

And, well, the backers of Prop 8 will certainly become more and more bitter over time. I'm not certain that their loss coming at the hands of "outsiders" will make much difference one way or the other to that bitterness. After all, they were just fine with outsiders like the Roman Catholics and the Latter Day Saints pouring cash into the pro Prop 8 campaign. That it was SCOTUS that eventually struck down Prop 8 will only increase the bitterness marginally.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
"Outsiders" by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:26:00 PM EST
You know where the major funding for the Prop 8 campaign came from, right?
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
The last several days | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)