Silent Poker, Holy Poker

Every year I go caroling with some of the folks from my choir around the nursing homes in Northeast.  My choir does several outreach programs there throughout the year, but Christmas caroling is the most fun.  We sing a few basic songs, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, etc, and invite everyone to sing along with the ones that they know.  Then we take requests.  This year, a cheerful lady, let’s call her “Bluehair #1,” requested Silent Night.  To be sure, we just sang Silent Night.  But if she wants to hear it again (or forgot), well fine.  It’s Christmas.  Silent Night again.

Then another sweet old lady, let’s call her “Bluehair #2” raises her hand.  We call on her and she says, “Is it Christmas?”  To which my friend responds, “Does anyone know that one?  How does Is It Christmas go?”  To which I replied, “I don’t think that was a song request.  I think that was a question.”  We explained to her that yes it was Christmas, and that’s why we were here to sing Christmas carols.  To which she said, “sing Silent Night.”

Unsurprisingly, singing Silent Night four times in one outing (Bluehair #1 had another request) inspired a Federal Circuit Silent Night counterpart, reflecting on that occasional terrible oral argument…

Silent Bench

Silent bench,
Questionless bench,
Throw a bone;
Be a mensch.
Counsel jumps as a softball is tossed,
With no clue that he’s already lost.
End this pain and sit down;
End this pain and sit down!

Silent Judge
Questionless Judge
Can my words
Make you budge?
All that stuff in my brief is worth shit
If you don’t agree with it.
Just tell me what you want
Please tell me what you want

Poker tonight, 8pm, [——].  Don’t be silent!  RSVP.


Reindeer Games Poker

ʼTis the season, my clerk family, where all of the traditions and tall tales of old come back to us in familiar melodies.  Ah, Christmas carols.  Those bouncing, twinkling ditties about Santa and Rudolf that warm our hearts by driving us to drink.  So spike the egg-nog and mull up some wine.  Let’s see what the holiday favorites channel has in store for us today…

You know Markman, and Philips, and Cybor, and Rite-Hite,
Kingsdown, and Seagate, and Lucent, and Limelight,
But do you recall—
The most famous Fed. Cir. opinion of all?
Ritchie v. Vast Resources
Had some very funny facts (it’s a dildo)
And if you ever read it (read it)
You couldn’t help but make wise cracks (IT’S A DILDO)
All of the other law clerks (super-nerds)
Laughed and called the panel names (like “lubricious”)
They never let poor Goodman (wamp, wamp)
Live down that bench memo shame (In ancient Sumeria…)
Then one Foggy Bottom day
Posner came to say (whoa, whoa, whoa)
“Thirty years of precedent?
That’s not really what you meant.”
Then all the clerks went ape-shit
And they shouted angrily,
Ritchie v. Vast Resources
You’ll go down in infamy!” (like Baird v. Army)

Join in the holiday spirit at poker tonight, 8pm, [——-].  Bring something festive.  RSVP so I know how many antler hats and red noses to haul down from the attic.

Guilting Poker

Hello, and welcome back to reality!  Apologies in advance, this is going to be a long email, but I have no choice.  So much has happened since we last corresponded.

We had Thanksgiving Thursday, during which we surround ourselves with all the things for which we should be thankful and silently gripe about how much they annoy us.  Then there was Black Death Friday, during which battle-crazed shoppers awoke at the wee hours of the morning to beat the shit out of each other in Walmart parking lots in the hopes of getting slightly discounted prices on already cheap Chinese-labor-camp-manufactured electronics that will be returned for store credit in January anyway.  A Saturday also happened, but it doesn’t have a name that I’m aware of, probably because most people sleep through it.  After Sit-in-traffic Sunday there was the much celebrated Cyber Monday, during which people do millions of dollars’ worth of online shopping instead of addressing all the work that piled up over the holiday.

And finally, the most recently named day in the tradition of naming post-Thanksgiving days—yesterday—Giving Tuesday.  Yes, this is a real thing, google it.  Giving Tuesday is a day during which people who have compassion or who itemize their tax returns are supposed to donate money to a worthy cause.  Did you not know of this or did you not get around to giving?  Don’t worry, we’ll come back to this.

Because even though I said “finally” in the previous paragraph, the naming of days is not over.  I have named today:  Guilting Wednesday.  And I will herein start the new Guilting Wednesday custom:  guilting.

I shall begin my guilting by reporting on last night’s meeting of the People-Who-Waste-the-Federal-Circuit’s-Time Club, which convened mostly because Omar “the wrath of” Khan was in town carrying out the Club’s mission. He was joined by Michael “better call Saul” Goodman, also recognized for similar efforts.  The meeting was presided over by club president Matt “Unhung Hero” Dowd, and visited by Dan “G.I. Jew: Real American Hebrew” Lerman, our ambassador to the People-Who-Waste-the-Supreme-Court’s-Time Club.  After inducting yours truly, the topic shifted to why these once poker frequenters do not come to poker anymore.  They promised that if they were mentioned in an email, they would show up.  Boom.  Guilting.

But they’re not alone.  Although this listserv keeps growing and growing, the number of people who come to poker is not growing nearly as fast.  So all you lurkers out there, getting your free chuckle at my life’s failures, time to feel the guilting.

Picture Valentine’s Day a couple months from now.  While you all are warm and snuggling with your special someone, I will be running through the frigid streets of D.C. in my underwear.  Not leggings with some funny print boxer shorts over top.  Underwear.  D.C. has no public nudity laws.  I’m not doing it just to show off my pasty white body stuffed into lacy lingerie, but rather for the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s “Cupid Undie Run,” which raises money for research and treatment of neurofibromatosis (NF-1).  Remember the picture of the Pope hugging a man covered in tumors that went viral a couple weeks ago?  That guy has NF-1.  My very good friend’s 1-year-old son (superhero alias: Jimmy Powers) also has NF-1, and we are running in the Undie Run as Team Jimmy Powers.  Remember Giving Tuesday?  And Guilting Wednesday?  It’s all coming back now.

Take the $10 that you aren’t going to spend on poker tonight, because despite saying every week that you are totally going to show up one of these weeks, tonight just isn’t the night, and donate that unused poker buy-in to sponsor Kristina Caggiano on Team Jimmy Powers.  You can donate here:  It’s super easy.  It’s just $10.  It helps babies with tumors.

For those of you that are interested in actually showing up to poker tonight, it will be at 8pm at [——–].  There will be booze and loose women (if you bring them) and absolutely no more guilting.

Babies with tumors.

Poker in the Turkey Hole

So we all know that I hate CNN.  Unless you are new on this list, in which case, know this:  I hate CNN.  Yet due to the powerful force of habit, or the lack of a better news resource that I can access from my heavily censored work computer, I still check the headlines every morning on  On Monday that sorry rumor rag ran as its top headline: “Deadly Storm Approaching the Northeast Will Prevent You From Traveling Home For Thanksgiving or Seeing Your Family Ever Again!!!”  Needless to say this trumped-up bullshit inspired panic in my mother who thought we should leave Tuesday morning, and drive through the rain, in order to guarantee we would be home with enough time to help all the non-vegetarians prepare turkey.  Apparently everyone else in DC was also watching CNN because we sat in traffic for two additional hours.

But it was totally worth it because it allowed me to have this conversation with my mother:

Mom: I’m not going to put any turkey bits in the stuffing this year so you can eat it.  Me:  oh, cool, thanks.  Are you going to bake it in the oven still?  will there be room?  Mom:  it’s a 20 lb turkey, there is plenty of room inside it for all the stuffing.  Me: Mom, you have to put it in a separate baking dish.  It’s not vegetarian if it’s stuffed inside meat.  Mom:  it’s not stuffing unless it’s stuffed inside something.  Now it’s not good enough for you for food to be meat free, it also has to be a meat virgin?  It’s like feeding the craken…

But I digress.  The moral of the story is that I’m in New Jersey and not around to host poker, and my guess is that many others may be out of town or hosting family at this point.  Which makes the importance of a timely and accurate RSVP all the more important for Neal and Jen, our gracious hosts this evening.  In case you don’t recall from last week, they live at [——-] in Columbia Heights.  They would like to see people showing up around 8pm.  My understanding it that they have fun backup plans for anyone interested in socializing, even if there is not sufficient poker quorum.  So don’t be shy!

And for tomorrow, whether you are traveling to your hometown for a big family gathering, or enjoying a quiet dinner on your own terms, take a moment to fully savor the one meal a year where we Americans stop thinking about what we want, and focus instead on being happy about what we already have.

Doorbuster sales start at 8pm Thanksgiving Day.

Panic Room Poker

There are a bunch of new people on this list, so let me open by saying welcome to  getting an email every Wednesday from a crazy person.  The emails tend to be pretty formulaic.  I start out by rambling or ranting about some asinine thing that I did or I saw on the news.  I then gracefully transition into communicating logistical information about this week’s Federal Circuit Clerk Poker Game, such as where and when the importance of a timely and accurate RSVP.  There is often a running mockery of Dolin or Goodman, but I will take it easy on the inside jokes this time.

Ok, here comes the ramble part:  I am “working” from home today because I am waiting for the locks to be replaced on my door.  I notice last week that the key to my front door bars was missing from the communal set of house keys that we keep in the foyer.  I assumed someone was using it or had temporarily misplaced theirs and I replaced the key with a spare.  Then yesterday, I noticed that same key was missing from the key ring again. It was there the night before, but now it is gone.  All the other keys were still there, just the front door gate key was missing.  All of the inhabitants of my house were in the living room at that moment, so I told everyone the disappearing key story and asked for an explanation.  No one had one.  No one took either key.

Needless to say I was creeped out to the max and need to get the locks changed.  But I don’t want to leave the house unsecured in case someone with two stolen copies of the same key intends to intrude and steal my… TV?  I don’t know.  My house doesn’t really have nice things.  So here I sit, armed with a cell phone and a kitchen knife.  Guarding my fortress.  Learning how fantastically unproductive I can be when I have access to reddit during the workday and when every odd creak and shudder of my circa 1890 house is misinterpreted as the arrival of a maleficent vagrant.  I’m pretty sure there is a fire demon that lives in my furnace and plays the drums and is practicing diligently to audition for Chief Rader’s band.

Completely unrelatedly, (that was the graceful transition) poker will be hosted tonight by the very lovely Neal and Jen.  They live at [———-] in Columbia Heights, next to [——].  You should arrive at their house at 8pm, armed with at least $10 and a bottle of some adult beverage.  If you are new to poker, this would be a great one to get your feet wet as the regulars tend to be better behaved for the classier hosts.  You can still RSVP to me.

Ta daa!  This happens every week.

Seafeud Poker

There are several things that every minimally competent attorney knows that you should not do immediately prior to an oral argument.  For example, you should not try cocaine for the first time the night before an oral argument.  You don’t have to be Don Dunner to grasp that concept.  You also should not schedule major cosmetic surgery the day before an oral argument.  Pretty basic stuff.

Now I may have never had cosmetic surgery or done cocaine, but I still manage to do things that any minimally competent attorney would not do right before speaking for the first time to a panel of article three judges.

For example.  Let’s say, hypothetically, yesterday was Goodman’s birthday.  And let’s say, hypothetically, he wanted to drink cobra venom for his birthday.  Now regardless of whether this is a good idea in the first place, would you make your first culinary exploration into poisonous snake excretions the day before an oral argument?  That is essentially what I did.

Goodman wanted to go to a seafood restaurant for his birthday.  I am a vegetarian, and I do not eat animals, terrestrial or aquatic.  But we were there, and it was a special occasion, and I reasoned with myself that clams and scallops are invertebrates, they don’t have heads, or faces, or even brains of any kind.  They are barely animals.  So just this once I don’t have to be “that girl” who orders scallops on a bed of mashed potatoes without the scallops.  For $45.

Following my mollusk madness I discovered that just because I convince my brain that I can eat something does not mean I have convinced my body that I can digest said something.  Especially where said something is a truckload of cheap shellfish that my vegetarian gut does not even recognize as food.  At first I thought maybe my intestinal distress was just pre-argument jitters wreaking havoc on my system.  During riding that evening I actually had to stop my horse, dismount, and run up to the barn bathroom.  At least it was a barn.  Barns always smell like shit.  As my symptoms progressed to more closely resembling food poisoning, I realized that I might not make it through 15 minutes of oral argument with nothing but clenched pilates-toned butt cheeks between me and Armageddon.

Thankfully, my super-fast metabolism managed to complete resolution of the problem by about 9 this morning, and I made it through what turned out to be almost an hour of argument with no emergencies.  Perhaps I should celebrate with some meat…dipped in cobra venom…

So anyway, poker.  Yes it is happening.  It happens at 8pm.  It happens at [——-].  Bring a ton of booze.  I have been drinking since 11 AM, so I’m waaaaay ahead of you.  RSVP.

Oh, and for all you in-house counsel on this listserv, I am totally a competent attorney.  Like, for serious.

Winey Poker

Despite truly abhorring it quality of its news reporting, for some reason I still read the CNN headlines every morning.  This morning seemed pretty normal.  People are still angry (and somehow surprised?) that a new government website doesn’t work very well.  Other countries are still angry (and somehow surprised?) that our government spies on their emails.  There was a terrorist attack in China, that’s actually real news, good job CNN, but wait—what is this?  THERE IS A GLOBAL WINE SHORTAGE?  To the extent the quality of CNN’s journalism is at all influenced by the frequency with which people click on links I wholeheartedly admit my contribution to the problem on that one.

It’s true.  Apparently China’s recent and growing fondness for European wine has caused an “undersupply of nearly 300 million cases” of wine this year.  Global production is at its lowest since the 1960s because of bad weather in France and Argentina.  And U.S. demand is growing much faster than its own production levels.  Morgan Stanley (whom CNN believes is a source for this kind of information) says the problem is only going to get worse.  Since Morgan Stanley could barely recognize the imminent collapse of its own industry, I think if they say there is a problem, then there is a catastrophe.

Now is not the time for sustainability and conservation all you science-nerd Washington liberals.  Now is the time for frantic indulgence!  Bring a bottle of wine to poker!  Everyone drinks at least one bottle of wine single-handedly.  No sipping, hell—no glasses.  Uncork (or unscrew, I don’t judge) and guzzle your way to [——-] at 8pm.  RSVP on behalf of your wine.

And note that I didn’t tell anyone to come in costume or make this a Halloween-themed poker in any way.  You can thank the journalistic integrity of CNN and all those lushes in China for eclipsing that whole concept.