Carl Yirka, a long-time Vermont Law School professor and friend, passed away over the weekend, after a long battle with cancer. Carl was a wonderful human being, a great friend and colleague during my time at VLS, and a witty travel companion extraordinaire. In addition to the time I spent with him on matters related to the VLS China program, one of my fondest memories with him dates back to a 1999 trip to Petrozavodsk, Russia. It was right around the summer solstice, and we were there for a short environmental law teaching stint. We arrived into St. Petersburg on a flight from the US. After a full day exploring St. Petersburg, the evening/night-time van ride to Petrozavodsk was one of the most memorable (but also bizarre) trips that I have ever experienced. Since it was the summer solstice and since St. Petersburg is located at a relatively high northern latitude (approximately the same as Anchorage, Alaska), daylight lasted almost 24 hours. Driving during these “White Nights” basically meant traveling through a rural landscape where people were doing gardening, recreation, and other activities at a time when everyone would ordinarily be asleep. For the entire 4-5 hour drive there, the driver kept telling us that we were about to arrive even though it would be hours longer. The road seemed to go on forever, and the sun kept hovering around the horizon but never set. It was an experience that could have come straight from a Twilight Zone episode. And to cap it all off, when we arrived, we had a full Russian dinner with our hosts at around midnight.
I am really going to miss him.
Starting next semester, Santa Clara Law students can expect to see an even more globally diverse campus as the Law School and the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (“ITESO”) have signed a new exchange agreement that will open up exciting opportunities for law students and faculty of both institutions.
ITESO is a Jesuit university founded in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1957. Like Santa Clara Law, ITESO is known for its academic excellence, a deep concern for both local and global contexts, and its commitment to social justice. Santa Clara’s Center for Global Law & Policy trains students to meet the challenges of globalization for the practice of law and supports cutting-edge faculty research in international and comparative law to advance justice and the common good.
Pre-Law Magazine once again gave Santa Clara Law’s International Law program an “A+.” Regarding our International Law program, the magazine stated, “Santa Clara University School of Law in California, another A+ school in this specialty, is home to the Center for Global Law and Policy, which offers the largest and one of the oldest summer aboard programs in the nation. It offers nine summer class programs as well as more than 30 externship options, including working in large international law firms, local firms, nongovernmental organizations, courts, international organizations and the UN.”
This particular tragedy related to adventure travel to visit a volcano in New Zealand caught my eye because I finished teaching my 1L tort law course a few of weeks ago and only submitted my final exam last week. It contains a couple of teachable aspects. Many of the cases that I cover in my torts course involve serious human tragedies, yet when one reads the dry judicial writing describing the events, one would never really appreciate the pain, suffering and tragedy that occurred. Here, the news article describes the raw suffering of the injured and how tourists and tour operators were lulled into thinking that it would be safe to bring people to the volcano. From a tort law teaching perspective, the incident also poses some interesting questions about the tour company’s liability and the types of legal defenses that could be raised. Is there a future exam question here . . . ?
For those who remember the 1971 Iowa torts case Katko v. Briney – here is a cautionary tale of how the homeowner himself was fatally injured by a booby trap intended to protect his home against burglars.
As many know, Citizen Yang is also Farmer Yang. Farmer Yang has a backyard fruit orchard as well as a flock of eleven egg-laying hens. Prior to keeping chicken, Farmer Yang did not know that chicken lose all of their feathers on an annual basis, usually in the fall. One of our older hens, Opera, is now going through the molting process. She looks as if she was just through a bad fight. But all is normal. Molting chicken do seem to get shyer and they drop in the flock’s pecking order. Ordinarily, Opera is a fairly dominant hen; but during this time of the year, it seems that other hens are picking on her. The last image is from the previous year, showing her in the full glory of her regular plumage.
I don’t usually talk about my gardening, though my friends and students know how much I enjoy it, and I can’t resist here. (Gardening is also a great way to appreciate the connection that we all have to the soil and earth – just ask my happy compost earthworms.) I just came home from a long trip to Asia for conferences, meetings, and family visits and inspected my overgrown garden this morning. My neighbors had been kind enough to look after our chicken and water the plants. (When we were still living in Vermont, I would regularly walk my land . . . haha, all 2 acres it; it would be a quick walk; this morning was even quicker.) All the growth that’s happened is actually one of the most delightful things to discover after one has been away. I found a championship-size zucchini (shoe/foot for scale; actual size was 20 inches), though it may not be edible anymore, as well as lots of tomatoes and ripe pluots from my “Flavor King” tree. The pluots have an incredibly “perfumed” flavor – hard to describe, but I have never had anything like it in the supermarket. (If you live in the San Jose area, I’ll be happy to share, though beware that most of them have already dropped.) I am also a great garden-ripe tomato fan – there really is nothing better than summer tomatoes that have been ripened in the garden. My Asian pear trees have also come along – there’ll be a bountyful harvest in a month or so!
There were also a couple of gardening lessons I was planning to pass along – things I learned the hard way this year. Hopefully, they will be of use to others. But I will do that separately.
In the meantime, here are two other things I discovered in my travels — for your amusement. The first is the little upstart-cousin of the Ritz-Carlton (in Kuala Lumpur), and the second is the local (at the Kuala Lumpur airport) menu of Burger King — Taro pie and Pineapple pie (the local counterpart to the standard US apple pie). I was only recently told by a student that BK and McD’s have local menu items in various countries around the world, so I have been looking out for them.