The Life and Times of Charlesrae

March 23, 2014

The Devil Sings the Blues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 5:27 pm

Why did I get so touchy when My Team lost an important contest this week? Hint: It’s not because I cared THAT MUCH about the on-court performance. It’s because the Internet is a cruel and hateful place. Yeah, yeah, welcome to the 2000s.

When did it become okay to profess public hatred for something you don’t like? I reserve “hatred” for things like disease, poverty, and that scumbag who threatened me in a parking lot last month. You know what? Chances are, I don’t like your athletic program, either, but you don’t hear me crowing about it a day after you lose. I don’t profess that when Your Team loses, America wins. Usually, I suck it up. It’s just a game, right? But you had to make it personal.

When you say you can’t stand Duke or its fans, you’re talking about me. You’re talking about my family, my classmates, my friends, and people with whom I choose to associate. You’re talking about the place where I learned to ride my bike. You’re talking about my husband and his family, who, while contributing more than 30 years of research to the university, you would NEVER accuse of being entitled rich people. You’re talking about my family friend, an avid hiker and “country lawyer” in Switzerland. You’re talking about the employees who run the university, Durham residents who are pretty happy to be employed. You’re talking about the other athletes, none of whose names you know. Is that fair? Life isn’t fair, you say. Sure, but you don’t have to make it worse.

More money and more obnoxious fans: are there boorish Duke fans out there? Of course–I’ve been one of them. That said, I assure you that the Duke fans I associate with are not entitled rich kids. Roughly half of current undergraduates have financial aid. The obnoxious fans? Why don’t you give this level of grief to fans that throw water bottles at opposing fans or set an entire street on fire (I’m looking at you, Terrapins). The two most oft cited incidents of obnoxious Duke fan behaviour are an incident that seemingly didn’t happen and one that happened more than 20 years ago.

I think the Lacrosse Scandal had a lot to do with Duke’s public perception. That entirely made up incident made a selective private university in a struggling town with a significant African American population look like an antebellum plantation. That image is one that Duke and Durham are going to have to fight for a long time. That’s when I think it became cool to hate Duke. Yes, actually “hate” Duke. Does anyone really condone this sentiment? Well, I sure don’t.

But you just hate the basketball team. You are aware that the roster changes annually, right? You’ve hated every single player that donned a Duke basketball jersey in the last 20 years? What the hell did they do to you? You didn’t like that bad call in a game 20 years ago. Wow, really? I’m bemused by your focus. You don’t like the coaching staff. Sure, dislike the guy who brought home gold medals for USA basketball in the Olympics. What has the coaching staff ever done to hurt you? (Kentucky and UNC fans–and maybe Wojo, given last week’s Marker Incident–are exempted from this paragraph.)

Hell, I’m not above a little schadenfreude every once in a while. But let’s dial back the vitriol and focus our hatred on things like animal cruelty and childhood hunger. Not a damn sports team and the people who support it.

May 27, 2010

Five Questions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 1:41 pm

5 questions from L user symphonymom

1. What was your career goal when you started college? When did you decide to go to law school?
I matriculated to college as a biomedical engineer, and fully intended to go straight to medical school and become a trauma surgeon. Well, it turns out that I’m not that competitive nor dedicated. I switched to a biology major my sophomore year (turns out BME at Duke is far more electrical than chemical), and after organic chemistry, tried to figure out what to do with my life. I’d started dating J by junior year, and his dad told us about opportunities at the Patent Office. So, that sounded good. I applied to law schools as a college senior, though I’m not quite sure why. I took three years to work in a lab at Georgetown to decide between graduate school and medical school. I did neither, and sort of decided to go to law school with J with the idea that I’d get a job in a firm doing patent prosecution. And here I am, nearly 9 years later, still at the Patent Office. Funny how life turns out sometimes. 🙂

2. What is your favorite dessert?
A really good vanilla ice cream with a fresh, warm strawberry or raspberry sauce.

3. Describe a perfect day – weather-wise as well as activity-wise.
This is surprisingly easy. I’m somewhere where there’s navigable water and I have access to a boat. It’s sunny, high-70s to mid-80s. After a morning of packing the cooler with drinks and snacks to the strains of the radio, we fire up the boat (to test the engine), hook it to the towing vehicle of choice, and spend a lazy day on the water, cruising, skiing, tubing, and chillin’. Day ends with a relaxed grill evening outdoors with tunes and laughter.

4. What movie made you cry the most? What movie made you laugh the hardest?
That’s hard. I would have to say that Steel Magnolias, while a cliche, gets me every time. So I guess it’s made the cry the most, in aggregate, over time. Laugh the hardest, I’m not sure. But I’m going to go with an old standby–as in, if it’s on TV, I will watch it–Ghostbusters. Sooo many good one-liners.

5. What’s your favorite sport to watch?
For the intensity and drama, it’s got to be college basketball, especially during tournament time. Seeing these young men and women play for their dreams with their hearts on their sleeves is quite moving. I like college and professional football, and I love a good soccer game, but you can’t beat the excitement and drama of college basketball.

If you want 5 questions, let me know in the comments.

November 10, 2009

The Supremes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 10:42 am

Yesterday, I went to court. No, not for anything *I* did. At least not this time. I took care of those incidents in my last few visits. I suited up, braved the 14th St. bridge in the morning rush, and scored on-street parking on Capitol Hill to attend oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court.

I read the “Visitor’s Guide to the Supreme Court” and carefully digested all the information, and was ready to stand in the appropriate line. Si and I scored some coffee at a local establishment and walked past the Library of Congress and the Capitol in the strong morning sun, confident that we were prepared for the morning.

And then we saw the line. The line that stretched the entire length of the SCOTUS stairs, across the front of the building, and halfway down the side. Undaunted, we took up residence in the line and made polite conversation with those around us. Keep in mind that this was 8am for a 9:30 seating.


As any patent geek knows, a big case was argued yesterday (Bilski v Kappos) that may very well result in a vast change in the manner in which method patents are interpreted in light of 35 USC 101 (federal patent law). Si and I were betting on the notion that the subject matter was so deadly boring that no one but us patent nerds would show up. Alas and alack, SCOTUS scheduled arguments in two marquee juvenile sentencing cases for the first two sessions in the morning, relegating the patent matter to a rare 1pm argument. The marquee cases drew large crowds, who, after waiting all morning and not getting in, weren’t going to be deterred by a boring case from getting in to see an entire argument. And so we waited.

We awaited instruction from the police officers and chatted away, making friends with a nice freelance thinktank writer who was determined to see any argument. Finally, after the 9:30am seating, the officers divided us into three lines–those who wanted to see only 3 minutes of an argument, those who wanted to see the 11am argument in its entirety, and those who wanted to see the 1pm argument in its entirety. We chose the latter line, and waited some more. Si went to get some water and move the car, and I struck up a conversation with a 3L from Louisville Law who grew up in Hickory, NC and was a NC School of Science and Math alum. Small world. He’d worked on an amicus brief for Bilski, and had flown in from Louisville just to see the argument.


By this time, I was glad I’d brought my knitting, and only regretted not bringing more reading material. I was beginning to appreciate the nice weather and the cool granite stairs that offered some respite from the constant standing. I saw some familiar faces–fellow examiners, supervisors, and group directors from the office. Of course, the latter two groups were “special” and were granted inside access immediately. I eventually made my way into the cafeteria and gift shop where I purchased a few trinkets and a sandwich. When I returned, the fat cats at Finnegan had distributed some leftover boxed lunches to the hoardes of grateful patent geeks.

Finally, it came time to line up for Bilski. The line separated into two portions–those who wanted to see the entire argument, and those who wanted to see only a 3-minute snippet. The officers sent 50 people from the former line into the gallery, and we continued to wait. After the beginning of arguments, it became clear that those of us still waiting had to settle for a snippet or get nothing. So we joined the three-minute line and waited to be screened. While waiting, some lady brought up her lunch bag, hauled out a four-inch knife, and explained the presence of such a knife to the officer. REALLY? Who brings a knife to the Supreme Court?!?!?! Needless to say, that held us up for a bit. We were screened, checked our phones into the coin-operated lockers, and were ushered into a curtained area at the back of the gallery.

Unfortunately, I was near the end of the line, so I got stuck in a chair in the back, which meant I could see little. I stood up for a moment, but was shushed downward. I could see Justices Alito, Ginsburg, and Kennedy from my seat, and got a brief glimpse of Stevens and Roberts when I craned my neck. Justices Breyer and Sotomayor did the bulk of the questioning when I was listening, and I have to say that the petitioner’s answers were not….awesome. When part of your argument is an assertion that yes, one should be able to patent an alphabet, I’m not sure you’ve got reason on your side. The courtroom is smaller than one would think, and it was a little difficult to hear behind the noise-dampening curtains placed between the main gallery and the short-timer-gallery. We did get to hear Justice Breyer crack a joke, however, and the courtroom laughed, so that was nice.

All too soon, we were ushered from our seats. Our friend Louisville attempted to remain unobtrusive in his seat to catch more of the arguments, but was unceremoniously removed. It was hard to follow the arguments since we heard so little of them, which is really disappointing, since I was so interested in the case. That said, I was pleased to be able to at least hear something.

Once out of the building, an errant leftover sleeping bag was cause for evacuation of the plaza and summoning of the bomb squad. Consequently, we had to walk 3 blocks out of our way to get back to the car and head off to the office. Man, I love DC.

October 22, 2009

Hello, blog!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 2:56 pm

It’s like “Hello, World!” but I’m not in programming class. It is October, and the chilly weather is upon us. Well, at least it *was*. Today’s highs are in the 70s, but I’ve already busted out the scarves, so there’s no looking back.

From the looks of my blog, you’d think I’ve done nothing since San Francisco. Alas, you’d be wrong. Here’s my general update, in bullet points. Hopefully, I can get my act together to post some pics.

-Hosted 39 Germans and 10 Americans in DC. German-US relations still cordial. 🙂
-Hosted 39 Germans in NC. Laid on the beach for 2 days and introduced the group to Partying, Leslie Style.
-Surprised 14 Germans with Stealth Trip to Tampa. Witnessed father on shoulders of tall German. Was afraid.

-Hosted 4 Germans in DC. 🙂
-Played hooky while attending afternoon baseball.
-Hosted 1 Chicagoan in DC.
-Went tubing for the first time in the Potomac. Declared love for tubing, resolved to do it whenever possible.
-Saw Sugarland!!!
-Hosted Summer Camp TCF meet at Elk Lake. Skipper skills need improvement.
-Last-minute trip to Tampa to float along a lazy river. In a tube. I told you I liked tubing!

-Hosted 2 Tampanians in DC. Finally had drinks at the top of Hotel Washington.
-Danced through my shoes at an Oktoberfest in Little River, SC. Started Sunday Morning Tracht Communion.
-During first trip to Ohio, crashed class at THE Ohio State University to surprise a friend.
-Ate bacon-wrapped weenies, deep-fried asparagus, and drank coffee martini at C-Bus TCF meet. There *might* have been some strip beer pong in there somewhere.

-Well, I missed September, so it must be time for another trip to Tampa! HHS Homecoming, more beer pong, and boating down the river. Trailer backing-up skills improving.
-Walhalla mudbowl!! Need I say more? Drinking, singing, dancing, and playing music with 40 of my besties in the mountains of South Carolina.

Okay, so now you have it in bullets, and I’ve at least started writing again. I’m going to try to flesh some of these out with pictures, so stay tuned!

August 14, 2009

In lieu of a real blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 11:42 pm

More random questions…

Can you fill this out without lying? Will tell you at the end

What was the last thing you put in your mouth? hot, buttered popcorn

Have you ever kissed anyone named Matthew? Don’t think so

Where was your profile picture taken? Carrollwood, Tampa, FL

Can you play guitar hero? Yeah, bay-bee!

Name someone that made you laugh today? Kevin

How late did you stay up last night and why? 1a,. yapping with Kevin

If you could move somewhere else, would you? Yes–RDU, TPA

Ever been kissed under fireworks? yes

Which of your friends lives closest to you? Mark & Tracy

Do you believe ex’s can be friends? Totally!

How do you feel about Dr Pepper? yucky

When was the last time you cried really hard? Really hard? 2 July, leaving friends at the airport.

Where are you right now? Assgroove

Who took your profile picture? Martina

Who was the last person you took a picture of? Me? I know, that’s sad.

Was yesterday better than today? only a little.

Can you live a day without TV? it’s been done, but I don’t want to do it again

Are you upset about anything? just nostalgic (stolen from emily)

Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? always

Are you a bad influence? totally

Night out or night in? OUT!

What items could you not go without during the day? phone, chapstick

Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? Jen Tyler

What does the last text message in your inbox say? Very nice!!

How do you feel about your life right now? Happy, yet missing my friends.

Do you hate anyone? Hate is a strong word, so no.

If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find? Phone numbers, addresses I don’t want to lose.

Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Holy hell, yes.

Has anyone ever called you perfect before? Yes, and I hated it.

What song is stuck in your head? Go-Gos, Vacation

Someone knocks on your window at 2am, who do you want it to be? Well, it’s definitely not my husband, so it must be a fantasy. Kevin Smith?

Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50? Dear heavens, no.

Name something you have to do tomorrow? make coffee, call Andrew

Do you think too much or too little? waaaaaaay too much

Do you smile a lot? if yesterday is any indication, yes.

Who was your last missed call on your Mobile phone? don’t care

Is there something you always wear? wedding ring

What were you doing 30 minutes ago? making popcorn, watching Office Space

Did you have an exciting last weekend? Nope. It was the only solo weekend in months.

Have you ever crawled through a window? and HOW

Have you ever dyed your hair? yepper

Are you wearing a necklace? not at the moment

Are you an emotional person? Yes

What’s something that can always make you feel better? beer? really good music.

Will this weekend be a good one? totally

What do you want right now? seriously? a teleporter, so I can see my friends more often.

Have you ever worn the opposite sex’s clothing? hell, yeah

Have you ever worked in a food place? yes, barista

Whats on your schedule for tomorrow? not much

Does anyone know your facebook password? yeah, J can figure it out

July 7, 2009

San Francisco, Day 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 7:19 pm

Day 4 in San Francisco dawned with great promise. I had enough time to briefly check my email before the internet went kablooey. Alas, I was unable to research good sushi places, but I think I will live. As we crossed into Marin County, Si decided we should walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Seemed like a neat thing to do, so off we went.

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Si reminded me of his college paper about earthquake engineering and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Nice weather ensured plenty of watercraft.

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We made it back to San Francisco County, with a view of Marin County behind us.

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I wonder if the huggers were in cahoots with the crisis counselors? Only in California….

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After arriving back in Marin County, we sought out Buckeye Roadhouse, as recommended by our new neighbor friend. Any place with its own smoker gets a pass in my book. Si had the smoked chicken salad, and I had the chili-lime brick chicken with some fresh Sierra Nevada. Yum.

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From Buckeye, we headed to Muir Woods to gaze at the amazing redwoods. Words can’t convey their massive presence. It’s humbling to think that these trees are far older than any of us and will be here long after we’re gone.

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God Bless America. 🙂

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After leaving Muir Woods, we popped back into the Castro for a little more shopping before heading back to Mountain View. We had conveyor sushi, which was pretty good, and soon collapsed into bed.

I love, love SF, and can’t wait to come back someday!

July 6, 2009

San Francisco, Day 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 1:56 pm

Saturday, in the park, I think it was the fourth of July. Wedding Day! Si and I spent the morning just chillin’ in our friends’ house in Mountain View. It was the first time we’d just chillaxed in a while, and it was fabulous.

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Soon enough, it was time to don our finery and grab some lunch. The food was delicious, but the dress code seemed a little pretentious.

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We took a a little detour into the foothills on our way to the wedding, and were rewarded with some lovely vistas.

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The wedding, held outdoors at Palmdale Estates, couldn’t have been any nicer.

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There was a gap between the wedding and the reception, so I did what any good beer drinker would do. I found a brewery–Jack’s–in Fremont. I can recommend both the Amber Ale and the Pale Ale, and the Mango Wheat wasn’t half bad, either.

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On to the reception, where the Best Man studiously prepared his speech–it was really, really good.

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The food was amazing, and kept on coming. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten such delicious Chinese food. We were lucky to be able to catch up with the Groom and Best Man for a quickie Duke Alumni picture.

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The bride changed into a stunning dress for the cake cutting, and then the Happy Couple made the rounds, toasting each table.

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All too soon, it was time to bid our farewells. We headed back to Mountain View, where we stopped by a neighbor’s cookout (hey, we WERE invited), and proceeded to chat, over Fat Tire, late into the evening. Only in California, right?

San Francisco Day 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 1:21 pm

Friday morning, I was left to my own devices while the boys hit some golf balls at a gorgeous course just north of Fremont.



The golfing excursion left me with some free time on my hands. I hadn’t planned very well, so I hadn’t made any advance arrangements to meet up with any of my friends. However, I did get a recommendation for a LYS, Imaginknits, so I hopped on the Bay Bridge and headed east.


I arrived in the Castro a little before Imaginknits opened, so I wandered by Mission Dolores while in search of a Post Office.


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I did a little shopping, picked up some stamps, and proceeded to spend large sums of money at Imagiknits. From there, I popped into Haight-Ashbury for some people watching and a delicious spicy lemon coconut chicken lunch.



From the funky shops of the Haight, I popped by Alamo Square.


I also found the Timbuk2 store, and walked out with an amazing messenger bag at 50% off. Can’t beat that with a stick. Picked up Si at the gofl course, and after a short change of clothes, we were back in San Francisco for the evening. We hopped a cable car on Powell Street and trekked up to Lombard Street, where we enjoyed the serpentine road.




We wandered Fisherman’s Wharf, which made me want to flee immediately. Any place that has a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company does not want my business. We swung by the Castro again for another picture opportunity.


And Leslie in her natural state:


July 4, 2009

San Francisco, Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 12:25 pm

Holy moly, have I had a whirlwind week. Wednesday morning, Trin called and asked if she could give up her sterile hotel room in favor of another night at our house. Never one to turn down a good time, I readily agreed. Which led, eventually, to this:


Consequently, I wasn’t in bed until cloes to 4am, with a 7am wakeup call for our flights to SFO. Thanks to those who called, texted, and made coffee to haul me out of bed. Made it onto the flights with no trouble, and I even got to cuddle a cute toddler for a while!

Once at SFO, we waited a bit for our luggage and then picked up the rental car, a Nissan Versa. Not bad wheels, but I had no idea just how big and busy SFO was–I was mezmerized by the planes coming in on the twin runways in the evening.

We drove down to Union Square, parked, and did a little shopping. J and I parted ways, as he wanted to pick something up at Macy’s. I wandered my way through Chinatown towards Coit Tower.




J and I met up at coit Tower, and climbed to the top, since it was such a clear day. From there, you can see downtown San Fran, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge.


From there, we descended 87 bazillionty steps to sea level, and wandered down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building.




We wandered about the shops there, though I did not buy anything, since I was unsure of our schedule. I came close here, though:


From the Ferry Building, we walked through the Financial District back up to Union Square and picked up the car. Since the weather was nice, we decided to pop by the Golden Gate Bridge.


As promised, the weather changed markedly once you get to the top of the Bay. It’s foggy, windy, damp, and chilly. We survived, though.


From there, I managed to find, get this, a brewery! We dined at the Beach Chalet on the water, where I had a Round of Ales (my favorite was the California Kind). After dinner, we wandered by the epitome of a California beach tradition (at least, according to Veronica Mars and 90210), bonfires on the beach.



June 30, 2009

In town…but only for a bit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie @ 9:35 am

Nope, I’m not even here for a full week. But I’m enjoying the time I have in the meantime with good friends, good weather, and good fun.



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