I was born and raised north of Chicago, spent my teenage years in Park City, Utah, and then fled to Boston for college. I graduated from Harvard College in June 2002, with a degree in government, focusing on the causes of war. At the end of my freshman year I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and in the summer of 2002, received a commission in the United States Army.

Fortunate enough to earn an eucational delay to attend law school, I attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where I met and courted my lovely wife. After graduating in 2005, I served more than four years on active-duty as an officer in the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

My political and philosophical views are rather hard to categorize, as anyone who reads this page regularly should quickly find. I like to think this qualifies me as an independent thinker, though the only evidence I have for this is that I seem to disagree with everyone about something.

Why Handful of Sand?

The book that has probably had the most influence on my life is Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was the first book of any philosophical pretense that I read by choice. Though it took a couple of times through before I understood much of what I was reading, I was immediately struck by how much of what Pirsig said constituted a sophisticated and coherent discussion of the many raw and incoherent ramblings that had long occupied my head.

Perhaps more importantly, Pirsig's book was the turning point in my approach to Zen and Buddhism. I had long been very skeptical of Buddhist philosophy, associating it with the drug-loving Beats and my drug-loving high school friends. Pirsig's book, while not really a Buddhist text, convinced me to take another look, which led me to the Cambridge Zen Center and weekly classes. And I've never looked back.

That's a long way of introducing one of my favorite passages from the book, in which Pirsig discusses the way we sort, categorize, dichotomize, and generally misunderstand the world around us:

We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness and call that handful of sand the world. Once we have the handful of sand, the world of which we are conscious, a process of discrimination goes to work on it. We divide the sand into parts. This and that. Here and there. Black and white. Now and then.

And there you have it. It is all Pirsig's fault. Blame him.