The web log

June 15, 2015, 3:53 p.m.

Odds and Ends


Summer clerking and other life updates

It's been a wild year. The first year of law school is behind me (still waiting on spring grades, though), and life has been treating me pretty darn well.

Life Achievement

We'll start with the best highlight: At the end of May, Krista and I finally tied the knot. After roughly 1.5 years of wedding planning, everything came together beautifully and I now get to sport a little tungsten bling on my ring finger. If that isn't the best way to start a summer, I don't know what is.

Legal Progression

On the professional front ...

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Aug. 26, 2014, 9 a.m.

Law School


1 Week Down: Thoughts on law school so far

I know more about personal jurisdiction than I did a week ago.

I know more about negligence than I did a week ago.

I know more about due process than I did a week ago.

And I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.

This past week was the first of my law school career. Already, I've briefed more than a dozen cases and my bookmarks have made a noticeable leap towards the center of my textbooks. Here are the highlights from two of my favorite classes so far:


My torts professor was at one ...

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July 29, 2014, 10 a.m.

Law School


Welcome to Law School

Sturm College of Law

Civil Procedure. Torts. Criminal Law. Lawyering Process I.

That will be my life for the next several months as I begin the journey through law school.

From what I've been told, this first year of law school will be challenging and stressful. I read Scott Turow's One L and watched The Paper Chase at the suggestion of my father to get a sense of the work I'll have to put in over the next 10 months to survive my first year at the Sturm College of Law. I'm not convinced, however, that I'll have any ...

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March 6, 2014, 10 p.m.

Odds and Ends


Hello world!

Welcome to my new website.

This lovely piece of internet real estate has been in the works for some time. Honestly, it should have been completed a long while ago, but I've been putting off coding everything up.

You see, this blog is powered by Django and is more-or-less homegrown. I say more-or-less because it relies, like most projects, on the kindness of strangers and takes advantage of several Django packages, including:

  • grappelli - For a sexier admin interface (that you'll probably never see)
  • django-filebrowser - For incorporating images and other media into posts
  • django-tinymce - For styling blog post text ...
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March 3, 2014, 10 p.m.



NICAR postmortem

I’m not quite sure I can summarize everything I learned at this year’s NICAR conference in Baltimore. There’s simply too much.

Here, however, are the highlights that I know I’ll be putting to use in The News Journal newsroom:

Statistics: Our new best friend

I attended a few panels on better using stats in the newsroom (one of which was even called “Enhance your stories with statistics”). We’ve done some rudimentary statistics quite bit, finding means, medians and even modes to explore different various topics.

Beyond that, our only real venture into more complicated number ...

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Feb. 26, 2014, 10 p.m.



#NICAR - Day One

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, the annual NICAR conference. For the uninitiated, this is the conference where journalists from all over the country (and from many other countries) get together to talk data, open records, technology and all the other wonderful components that make up the world of computer-assisted reporting (i.e. CAR or data journalism).

This year’s conference is conveniently located in Baltimore and, as in previous years, is off to a strong start. My goal is to leave birdland with a better understanding of statistics and the R programming language. I spend most ...

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Dec. 31, 2013, 10 p.m.



Some 2013 work highlights

Screenshot from Keep the Beat dashboard

The past year seemed to fly by, and after looking at the server where I publish a lot of my work, I think I know why 2013 seemed so quick. It was busy.

What didn’t we map?

Looking back, I realized that I spent a lot of time building maps. Some of them were more interesting than others, and they varied quite a bit in complexity. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites:

  • In the fall, DelDOT was warning drivers about deer on the roadway. Of course, we had to find out where the most deer-related ...
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July 13, 2013, 10 p.m.



Delaware's dangerous intersections

After months of analysis, reporting and delays, Melissa Nann Burke and I finally saw our analysis of the most dangerous intersections in Delaware grace A1 of The News Journal.

STORY: Delaware’s Dangerous Intersections

INTERACTIVE MAP: Most Dangerous Intersections

Our analysis focused on the 185 intersections that averaged at least 15 crashes per year between 2010 and 2012. I’ll defer to the story for a discussion of the findings, though. Here, I want to focus on how the analysis was done.


Tools: QGIS, PostgreSQL+PostGIS

We obtained a geo-database of all reported crashes in the state (which ...

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Jan. 3, 2013, 10 p.m.



Parsing tables in MS Word with Python

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while and was reminded when I saw a post from Anthony DeBarros about using xlrd to parse an Excel document.

A FOIA request for voting records for Delaware state legislators returned a ton of MS Word documents, each with a table of votes for a single legislator. The State House uses a Lotus Notes database and actually stores their voting records in this format. So, I had to extract all of the votes from the files and put them in a form that I could examine with excel and later put ...

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Nov. 6, 2012, 10 p.m.



Locked out of the server on Election Day

Screenshot of the homepage on election night.

Election Day at The News Journal was a pretty solid success.

We used PHP and internet duct tape (iframes) to scrape and display results for big races live on our homepage and results for all races on another landing page.

Unlike the Primary Election, our cron job ran smooth all night and my stress level wasn't through the roof.

The day before, though, was a little more difficult.

We've been having issues with the main LAMP server that we use for interactive content. It's also the server that typically hosts all of our site scrapers and I ...

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