Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ubud, Bali


Selling flowers at the market

I have a monkey on my lap!

Monkey Forest, Ubud
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Sanur, Bali




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Denpasar is full... Business OK?


Even the view is better in business...
(a chain of volcanoes)
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A kite in a tree in Jakarta...

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Saturday, August 15, 2009


On day three, Matt and I woke up early to catch a flight to Bali. Our flight was at 7am. The professor's son, who manages the guest house, assured us we could leave at 5:30 -- no traffic, plenty of time at the airport. Matt asked that the driver arrive at 5:15 just to make sure. It didn't matter -- the driver was late, and we left at 5:30.

We arrived at the airport nearly an hour later, close to 6:30am. There were lines everywhere. We showed a Garuda Air representative our ticket to make sure we were in the right place, and she waived at the line. We waited. And waited. We showed our ticket to someone else walking by, and they pulled us out of that line and told us to stand in another (short) line. Finally we got up to the counter.

The woman looked at our printout tickets and clicked at the keys of her computer. "Ohhh," she said, "Denpasar, is closed." "But they told us to wait," Matt protested quietly, voice breaking slightly with mild panic. "Ok, one moment --" the woman runs off with our passports and tickets.

We wait for her return, expecting the worst. Breathless she returns, and sits back down. She looks at us and says, "Denpasar flight is full. Only business." Matt and I exchange a look, not believing our ears. "Business OK?"

A few moments later we are racing -- RACING -- through the airport to try and make our flight, which was already in final boarding, also halfway in disbelief that our $60 tickets to Bali are about to buy us white tablecloths and real silverware in business class on a 747 -- better run before they realize their mistake!!

Oh heaven. By the time we got to the plane I was thirsty and a man brought me orange juice in a real glass. He look so happy when I asked for a second one. We had eggs and ham and two -- two! croissants, the best coffee we'd had yet, refills, oh, and the seats... so comfy...

Oh yeah, and Bali is nice, too -- but that's for the next post. :) (In a rush, have to get to a cultural dance...)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Total Traffic

Day Two

Jakarta's facades are cracked and stained
Jakarta's facades are glistening glass...

As we speed north in our taxi toward the Cafe Batavia for brunch, lines to the rhythm of "Jellicle Cats" run through my head. We pass through jumbles of buildings squashed together like townhouses, 3-4 stories high, crumbling, rusted, and dirty with car exhaust. Bootleg CDs, car parts, lamps. We also pass huge mall complexes with grand names like "Plaza Senayan" -- these are gleaming behemoths that house Western designer stores like Prada, Tod's, Hugo Boss, and Coach, connected by glass walkways to luxury apartments and condos stretching dozens of stories high. Security guards check the undercarriage of each car that pulls up with oversized dentist mirrors. We pass the Chinese quarter, where many buildings stand scorched and empty from a fire many years ago, with grey facades and neon signs. We pass skyscrapers entirely devoted to a single bank, a single company, Mercedes. There is one major road that runs north-south through the center of Jakarta, and this is it.

We get out of the taxi and begin to walk to the Cafe Batavia, the second-oldest building in Jakarta. It faces the first oldest, which is the old Stadthuis Governor's Building, and is now a museum. Cafe Batavia is the ultimate 30s bar -- upstairs the walls are lined with photographs, the walls are teak paneled, heavy teak shutters keep out the sun and lazy ceiling fans swirl overhead (though there is also air conditioning). A teak bar is faced with cowhide. Muted brocade curtains hang down over corner clusters of cushioned wicker chairs. The food isn't that great (the guidebook described it as "form over function"), but the ambiance...

After walking around, going to the museum (a great deal at 20 cents), and returning to the Cafe for a much needed drink -- it was getting hot! -- we caught a taxi to go to one of these fancy malls. Air conditioning seemed to be just the thing, and there would be restaurants for lunch. The car turned south. And the journey that took us 45 minutes that morning took an hour to go half as far. Oh misery, sitting in that cab. Matt told me that officials in Jakarta believe by 2011 the city will experience "total traffic" -- complete paralysis. The only thing moving are the express buses, which have a dedicated lane. If only we'd taken that...

That evening though, a real gem of a restaurant find redeemed the day: Payon. Walking through the small gate, there is an open air traditional pavilion under which tables and chairs look out into a small courtyard. Additional detached buildings, some with gift shops, some with private seating, and one with, of all things, a children's play area, all face the courtyard's central fountain. The servers wear collarless white cotton tunics and black pants. Traditional Indonesian flute music plays. The sound of water almost drowns out the whine of scooters. And they serve BEER, which is not common (Indonesia is predominantly Muslim). Full, sleepy, and slightly tipsy, with our mouths tingling from the spicy fried chicken and grilled fish, we make it back to the professor's house to pack for that next morning's trip -- to Bali!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Tree that Eats Kites

I am in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I arrived at 1:00pm local time, which is 14 hours ahead of California. The airport is built to resemble a series of low, connected wooden pavilions, decorated with wooden panels covered in intricate carvings in dull colored sheens. I remembered that Matt said, when he arrived the first time, that between the terminal and the main building, in the hallway enclosed with wood and glass looking over the tropical palms of a courtyard, you could smell the distinct tang of clove cigarettes tinged with jet fuel. I made sure to breathe deep. He was right.

Within, armed with a small collection of brightly colored landing documents, I gave and got in turn: arrival visa coupon, arrival visa, departure card, passport stamp, stern warning about drug trafficking (this on a sign -- Welcome to Indonesia! Drug Trafficking is Punished by Death!), a yellow health card so they could find me if someone on the plane comes down with swine flu, or bird flu, or SARS, or god knows. Finally, a passport stamp. The luggage. A final x-ray screen. And then -- Matt!

Matt arranged for a driver, who was kind enough to turn on the air conditioning in the car, as I was still dressed for Berkeley. (i.e. wearing socks.) The toll road out of the airport is lined with unevenly manicured hedges and cassava trees. The traffic is medium heavy, with little regard for signals, but the cars and trucks communicate with gently tapped horns and weave securely between lanes. We passed clutches of shanty housing, lean-tos topped with corrugated metal, some had walls woven with bamboo (?). Those looked nicer. Each cluster was broken up by faded but brightly colored awnings denoting a food stand or market, displaying indistinguishable golden fried food in the window, colored juices made of mysterious fruits, newspapers, cigarettes. The outskirts of Jakarta.

The road rose to an overpass and Matt told me this would be my first "look" at Jakarta. We got to the summit and I saw it: in every direction through every window of our SUV, the haze of the city stretched to all points of the horizon. It was dotted with skyscrapers in every direction, one, two, a dozen, twenty, forty, a hundred? Some apartment buildings with concrete balconies, some in the far distance those glamorous glass and steel structures housing the Jakarta branches of global firms of commerce and law -- those that couldn't afford to be in Singapore, at least. It reminded me of climbing to the top of -- was it in Paris, or St. Petersburg? There was a bell, and at the top you could see a panorama of the city broken by the steeples of churches in all directions. Only this -- this was much bigger.

We arrived at the professor's house, who runs a bed and breakfast out of the top rooms now that his children have moved out. I showered and changed and we walked outside. A small warren of streets lined with high walls protecting the large houses within gave way to a main drag, lined with sidewalks rife with large holes revealing the drainage ditches below. Watch your step. Scooters danced between the cars, always gently speaking to each other with beeps, as we walked toward the McDonalds to get our fried chicken and fries topped with seasoning salt. My first meal in Indonesia! There we saw school children in uniforms practicing off flashcards, couples cooing over laptops taking advantage of the wi-fi, a large brood of bright blonde children belonging to the Dutch expat couple running amok in the large, clean, spacious dining room. The cashiers answered Matt in uninflected English, and wore smart black McDonalds polos that looked new. We imagined this was a good job.

After a nap we ventured out again, after dark, which falls at 6pm. 6am-6pm is the day; we are just south of the Equator. (Did I mention it is quite warm here?) In the warren of streets, barefoot children flew small square kites, constructed of a tiny bent cross of twigs and stretched with tissue. These rose quite high on the nonexistant tropical breeze -- above the walls, above the large houses, above the heavy telephone wires -- so high! They run and laugh as the men sit in front of their houses, smoking clove cigarettes and playing checkers. White cats with smudgy brown faces and half-size tails stalk the roads, looking for small handouts.

We walk to a pan-Asian restaurant that has a covered terrace (covered because of the rainy season) dotted with red chinese lanterns amidst white christmas lights. Fans are blowing from the rafters near the large TV sets that are playing Dave Brubeck at the Java Jazz Festival. We sit and receive menus for two different restaurants -- our choice. We order "lime squashes" which at Jayakarta is called a Jeruk nipis peras: lime juice, sugar syrup, and sparkling water. Over ice. Lovely. We settle on sushi because it's cool, and small, and I am not very hungry.

We walk back and I sleep all night, disturbed once only by the blaring call to prayer at 4am.

I wake up early and Matt wants to keep sleeping. Outside our room is the dining room, set with toast and jam, bananas, and instant coffee makings. I make my instant coffee and pull the wood and wicker rocking chair out on the balcony to watch the sun grow higher in the sky. The houses around are all awake with the chatter of women sweeping, men delivering things on motorbikes, and birds chirping -- one of the houses has a dozen bird cages alive with the cooing of doves and pigeons and the chirping of parakeets. I can see the neighbors' laundry hanging and hear the washing of pavements. The cats are roaming silently, and sit to meditate on the day. A particular type of tree with long leaves grows to about two stories high, there is one in front of me with a kite stuck in its branches. Matt pointed out the one down the road earlier -- about six brightly colored kites that had flown so high, so you could barely see it against the hazy clouds, had fallen prey to its branches.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Open Letter to the RNC

Dear Republican National Committee:

I read with interest today the many headlines announcing that your constituency had paid for more than $130,000 worth of clothes for Sarah Palin and her family from high end stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barney's New York. Many of the articles focused on the issue that, should Sarah Palin keep the clothes, or should she use them for personal outings and appearances, they would count as income and be taxable by the IRS. In response to the news, you announced that the clothing would eventually be given to charity.

I would like to offer my services to you as a charity that would willingly accept such donations. Should you agree to donate Sarah Palin's clothes to me, which will otherwise be scrutinized for illegality, I will gladly, immediately, and with my best efforts make myself a charitable organization ready to receive your donation.

1) I would be able to appreciate the quality of Sarah Palin's outfits better than other charitable recipients. Who else noticed subtle sheen of the black silk shantung suit she wore at the Vice Presidential debates? (set off with the Swarovski crystal flag pin - a nice touch!) What about the the round-collar suits, the three-quarter sleeves, the bold but conservative colors? You strove to dress her in a way that would confer experience, legitimacy, and also femininity. You avoided Hillary's tangerine pantsuits and Condi's dominatrix boots, and found a "look" that, I'll admit, rivals Jackie O. and Carla Bruni meeting the Queen. This was not just a shopping spree; it was a transformation. You want to give away these clothes to someone who understands this; these clothes are a part of history.

2) I am a poor/I will put them to good use. I am currently a law student, which means that I am living off of loans, but I am also expected (as soon as I get a my first job) to have a wardrobe with a polished, professional look. I can't get away with Michelle Obama's H&M dresses; I need suits, pencil skirts, and double-breasted mini-trenches. Moreover, in the current economic downturn, it is unlikely that I will get a large signing bonus in order to properly prepare me and my closet for embarking on my career.

3) Sarah Palin's clothes can be tailored to fit me. I do not know what size Ms. Palin wears, but a recent NY Times article said that she wore a beehive hairdo because she is "short." I too am short. Everything else can be taken in. I will cover all costs of tailoring personally.

4) Your donation would be a sign of the Republican Party's willingness to support struggling young women entering the workforce. Moreover, you could point to the fact that I am a lifelong Democrat to show that the Republican Party never plays favorites, and is committed to fairness, equality, and rewarding merit rather than blind party loyalty and backhanded political tactics.

I am happy to name this charity as would best suit your needs. I would like to point out that my maiden name is Hispanic, and thus incorporating this into the charity name would also have the benefit of looking like your party supports minorities, whether you do or not.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Most Sincerely,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fabu-LAW-sity, Part I

In my Civil Procedure class (which only a few days ago I realized was distinguished from "Criminal" Procedure ... ohhhhhh...) we are discussing personal jurisdiction. When can a state gain jurisdiction over a person or a corporation? The early, famous case Pennoyer v. Neff creates a strict rule for establishing general jurisdiction over a person (called, funny enough, the Pennoyer Power Theory of Jurisdiction) which holds that states have exclusive jurisdiction to the persons and property within its territory and no jurisdiction over persons and property outside of its territory.

In later years, the courts had to determine how to address corporations under this rule. Not having a body, but being a metaphorical body, the courts established two "legal fictions" - metaphors - for allowing jurisdiction over corporations who were technically outside of the state: 1) "presence" (i.e. if a corporation has a "presence" in the state, it does a lot of business there) and 2) "implied consent" (i.e. if a corporation was "doing business" in the state, it was implied that it had agreed to jurisdiction there).

These metaphors were deemed illogical by a group of folks called Legal Realists (again with the creativity here) and were swapped out with a standard in a case affectionately called International Shoe. "Presence" becomes "certain minimum contacts" and "implied consent" becomes a fairness test, "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."

But, says problem #6 in the notes on page 97 of my casebook, what about in the case of an individual person, who is NOT a resident or citizen or physically present at the time in a particular state, but who "does business" there to such an extent that it might be analogical to an out-of-state corporation? For there is one (and only one!) such a case, Abko v. Lennon , in which a certain Mr. Richard Starkey was deemed eligible to be sued in the State of New York because, the plaintiff alleged, he went about "doing business" there with minimum contacts and fairness and all the rest.

And to this I said, Well, those minimum contacts and fairness standards stem from (and override) the metaphors of "presence" and "consent," which were only created because of the need to analogize a corporation to a person. Analogizing back the other way, then, would seem to undermine the whole process, because we do have sufficient standards for determining whether a person is under a state's jurisdiction or not. So we obviously need a standard here regulating the types of individuals that this special case can apply to, so as not to offend the entire system of due process. And I would suggest the proper standard here would be that the defendant can be subject to general jurisdiction if it can be shown that he or she is "bigger than Jesus."


OK, I didn't say that last part aloud. It's a hundred person class. But I sort of wish I did. ;)

Monday, August 25, 2008

law school accessory edition: lunch

I hate sandwiches.

Well, that's a slight exaggeration. I like, for example, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato on focaccia. I like that with prociutto too. I like most paninis. I like grilled vegetable sandwiches. And I like baguettes with brie.

OK, I like some sandwiches. But they have to be fatty, vinegar-y, or hot. And they can't, can't, CAN'T be on crappy bread. I am no PBJ girl anymore.*

So what's a commuting girl to do when lunch is on the line and proverbial moths are still fluttering out of proverbial pocketbooks? Answer: buy a really expensive lunchbox.

No, really; look at this:

This, my friends, is the Zojirushi Mr. Bento Lunch Jar, and it will be my new best friend in 5-9 shipping days.

An "American" sandwich won't even FIT in here - instead, I will have a four-course extravaganza, kept hot by Japanese Bento-technology. It is awesome looking, practical, and even has a CULT FOLLOWING! Seriously, if five thousand "Mr. Bento Porn" pictures can't stimulate some rockin' lunch ideas, I am worse off than I ever imagined...


*One exception. I will still eat a tuna fish sandwich with Doritos wedged inside - a favorite of mine from high school.