Sunday, March 11, 2007

On matters entirely unrelated to the topic of this blog ...

First, thank goodness for the early reappearance of daylight savings time. I go crazy in the early darkness all about.

Second, I haven't been practicing my cello very much at all in the last six months. Nonetheless, I am gradually reaching the end of Bach's flute partita in A minor, BWV No. 1013, transcribed for cello in D minor - lovely piece - I don't play it very well, but I think it is time to move on. Question is, move on to what? I would like to play the Vivaldi two cello concerto thing in Renee's Suzuki book - nice piece - but alas, the kid is not wild about playing with Daddy. My view, for what's it's worth, is what was the point of raising her with music lessons if she won't play music with me? On the electric cello frontier, I still need to finish transcribing Santana's La samba pa ti, so I can finish learning it. But what new in the classical field?

Third, after thinking it over carefully, I've decided that if I could play any instrument really well - apart from the cello, that is - it would be the pedal steel guitar. I don't think any instrument comes quite as close to the lyricism and timbre of the human voice. My impression talking with musicians is that it is a very difficult instrument to play well. But I sure do love it.

Fourth, said daughter has a big decision to make, whether to leave her current school, NCS, and go over to Sidwell, where she was just accepted. Tempted as I am to just tell her she's going and that's that - she's only fourteen and in 8th grade, for heaven's sake, and my wife and I know to our bones that she would be fantastically happier and at least as well educated - we've told her it's her decision. I'm holding my breath and hoping she does it.

Fifth, next week is my spring break week. It is a law of nature that my spring break never coincides with my wife and daughter's. So next week is a big writing week for me - I have to get the short UN book ms. redo heavily underway and revise the short Fordham piece and write the long pending stuff for the TLS and also make sure I'm prepared with my upcoming talks at Bard College and Wayne State University Law School. At the same time, I have important administrative stuff to do at school - turn in a proposal to start up a mini program on nonprofit law at my law school - and with the Media Development Loan Fund, getting ready for the April board meeting in New York.

Sixth, after I get back from break, I want to get my research assistants geared up to help me revise my course materials for my basic classes. I've decided I need to shift the focus in my corporate finance class - less emphasis on stuff that was covered in business associations, such as equity, and much more focus on bonds and debentures, as well as much more focus on derivatives. I don't plan to introduce any real quantitative stuff into the course - I used to do that, years ago, made the class all buy a particular calculator, did present value, etc., but with 90 students in very different "math places," it was a disaster year after year. The students who already knew it were bored and wrote notes in student evaluations about how much of their tuition dollars you wasted, and the ones who didn't didn't manage to learn it and wrote notes about the inverse. You need a four or five day a week class with small sections and homework each day, not a law school class. My colleague at WCL, Jonathan Baker, has started teaching a quantitative methods class that covers both litigation issues such as statistical use of evidence and basic finance stuff, and I push students over to him - the class is new but my students love it. But I do think you can study derivatives from a legal/finance standpoint as precisely what they are (and the folks at Long Term Capital forgot) - contracts. You can still do a lot with derivatives just dealing with forwards/futures, options, swaps, and securitization, just looking at their contractual characteristics and their marketplace uses. So I want to rework some of that material, also add more explanatory material to my IBT class, which mostly consists of basic contractual transactions.


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