December 23, 2003

Family Time

My life is predictably boring and wonderful these days. E and I are with our respective families, which does make life a little weird for me. We haven't been apart for this long for 2 years.

But, I'm distracted by my brother, sister, sister-in-law (more or less), mother, father, friends in my hometown, and OF COURSE, my adorable niece. For the last two days, I braved holiday shopping obstacles at the mall and target with a 23-month-old in tow and either her father or mother running interference.

Lots of work. I find that I need a nap when she does. And, since I'm on vacation, I willingly take one each day.

The basic scene is as you'd imagine it: my presents are wrapped (finished that today, thankfully) and under the tree, and my mother is buzzing about the kitchen in her typical ADHD way--making two grandiose meals at the same time while attacking 17 other holiday tasks. The stress of her ridiculous approach to holiday meals is a bit much. But then again, I'm staying with my brother, so I don't have to see it 24-7, and even if I did, it's worth it for the tradition of beef wellington for christmas dinner. Mmmm... beef wellington.

I'm off to perform pie patrol (Honey, can you take these pies out when they are ready before you leave? Oh, and marinate the beef? And wrap this present? And... Oh, I can see by your face that I should stop with the pies. Can you take the pies out?)

And then, I'm off to a much needed break from the fam to spend the evening with one of my best friends from childhood.

Happy holidays, break, winter, etc. to you all.

December 19, 2003

Totally Crossed Out

See those courses over there? To the left? They are all crossed out. I'm way too happy about this.

I know I'm only halfway done with a couple of the courses, but I'm leaving them off the list 'til classes start again.

So far today, I've slept in, done some christmas shopping, relaxed, and ummm... not much else.

How great is that?

December 18, 2003


And I'm done. E and I just returned from a nice long Italian dinner at our favorite local joint. We talked about nothing and everything, for the first time in several weeks. Along with Pasto Ceppo and Pasta Norma, we sipped down a bottle of Guiseppe's recommendation: Vigorello. Wow--the perfect way to celebrate the end of the semester. It's light, full bright red fruits, and with the perfect hint of oak, although it was a little heavy on the sediment, if that bothers you. It's my new second favorite Super Tuscan, after Tignanello, which will always claim number one because of the memories from the night in San Gimignano when I first had it.

As for the exam, it's over. The whole semester is over, in fact. One-sixth down. Amazing.

The long story is that H and I crammed as much as we could in our under-prepared heads and compiled as many helpful documents as we could for the open book exam. We managed to cover it all, but definitely not at the level we'd covered everything else. We were scared, actually.

But, I assume we owe a huge Thankyou to the vibes sent my way from Sua Sponte. Yesterday, when it became ridiculously apparent that H and I were not going to be completely prepared for our exam, we had to make a choice. We each named what we thought the essay portion would cover, and we covered those portions extensively. Apparently, someone was listening. It was almost scary how dead-on my guess had been... I called it down to the sub-sub-rule on the first issue and the general topic of the follow up question was exactly what I suspected. A Big Huge Thanks is all I have to say.

So, the next time I have to think about law school is when I return from my two-week vacation in Egypt. For now, it's all fun, family, holidays, gift shopping, bowl games, and getting back into the swing of being a normal human.

December 16, 2003

And then there was one

Property was reasonable. 3 hours, 3 questions, weighted according to their time allotments. I left feeling better than after Torts. But, that wasn't hard to do.

I took the night off and went to dinner with E and some friends. I hoped to recuperate, and did, some. But morning came too soon.

And now, although I'm still exhausted, I must focus. 53 hours 'til I'm done with the first semester. Civil Procedure seems undaunting after all of the other exams--it's open book, and only 25% of my final grade. But, unfortunately, I'm also less prepared for it than any of my other exams. So, I've got to buckle down, get a ridiculous collection of notes into a workable outline, tab the rules, attend one last review session, and go through several practice exams all before Thursday afternoon.

I can't wait 'til I'm done with this marathon.


Turns out, it's Kwik-so-tic, not Kee-oh-tic. It comes from Quixote, as in Don Quixote, the book, written in SPANISH. Seems like the pronunciation would follow the Spanish rules, but apparently, the Brits decided that "Kwicks-ote" (think oatmeal) was how to pronounce the man's name and it looks like they were the ones who coined the word quixotic. Cultural imperialism. Lame.

If you're wondering about other words you may have mispronounced (or correctly pronounced, if you asked me) check out this cool article about common English words disagreed upon regardless of dialect or linguistic background.

December 14, 2003

Reality Check

One of the theories of why Property rights exist says that without private property, people will not speak up for themselves against the tyrant, because they have no guarantee of anything outside of what is provided by the state. If you follow this line of thought long enough, you get to the place where property rights are a pragmatic way to avoid war--and all of the fighting over who gets the biggest piece of the pie.

The difference between theory and reality is that war is already happening. It's merely a question of scale, and whether the fighting is known to the masses. The truth of property is that it's a system to minimize the war, not avoid it.

So, with an eye towards minimizing war, I'd like to offer a blessing to each and every American, Iraqi and international soldier working for peace in Iraq. May the capture of the despot bring you much good will and momentum on the arduous road to a greater peace.

December 13, 2003

Over the Hump

I've had no social life since classes ended. Other than stopping by K's house the night before my first exam, I haven't seen any of my non-law-school friends since November. 'Til yesterday, that is. After my glorious 11-hour night of sleep, I spent 6-hours stuffing everything I know in property either into my head or onto the cheat sheet for about 6 hours. Then, E and I went to a long-lived and favorite client's holiday party at Morton's in Union Square. Mmmm... Filet Mignon. The size of a small house. Oh, and to top it off, they cleared us out of the private dining room a little early (in exchange for a round of drinks on the house) so that we could make room for a party for Jaws. No problem, man. No problem at all. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Dude is REALLY tall.

So, the event to mark halfway was was great: Friends I hadn't seen in 3 months to a year. Union Square during the holiday bustle. Good Wine. Rare beef. And one of the best James Bond Villains of all time.

E and I came home, watched the Simpons, had a cup of tea and passed out. Although I slept quite well, I did wake at 3 AM with bit of beef-madness. Apparently, I was suffering from beef-inspired property dreams, one of which involved a broken deep-fryer, several of the party's attendees, a huge side of beef going into the fryer, hot-oil everywhere, and me yelling at the landlord about how the fryer was part of the common area facilities and boy, were they in trouble. Guess I'm not getting too far away from Torts, but at least it is somehow landlord-tenant related. Apparently, my subconscious didn't get the memo about the night off.

December 12, 2003


E works with lots of Indian Programmers. Today, one of them sent the following Out Of The Office message:

Subject: OOTO 12/13 - 01/06
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 14:58:09 -0800

I'll be on vacation in India.

Yes - I'll be checking email when I'm sober.
Yes - I'm going to get my hair cut.
Yes - I'm getting married.
No - I don't know her.
No - I won't set you up with her sister.

Happy holidays,

Two Down

Torts. Three and a half hours. Even longer than contracts.

So, studying took priority over blogging for the last few days. Tuesday, H and I boiled our outlines down to the two-sided page of notes that we were allowed to bring to the exam. Turns out this two pages of notes thing was a bit of a farce for two reasons:

1. In order to finish the exam you had to know the material cold and be a very speedy typist. There was very little time to consult your notes, so spending an entire day constructing the cheat sheet of perfection was a bit of a waste of time, in hindsight.

2. We covered way too much in Torts to fit all of the relevant material on two pages. I say this despite the fact that I used crazy MS-Word-Foo and got 3 columns in 6.5 font with margins of 0.2 on all four sides for both pages. After removing so many useful things and staring at the page trying to decide what else could go before it fit on 2 pages, I realized that the two page notes trick was the professor's way of trying to get you to memorize the important stuff. There are easier ways to memorize...sheesh. So, at the end, you have most of it memorized and the stuff that would be really useful on the exam are the random analyses by dissenting judges, elements of minority opinions, etc. that you could pull-out in policy arguments. But, of course, that stuff didn't make it through the filter of importance to earn a spot on the 2-pager. So, basically, it's a security blanket unless you are so confident that you can fill it with random shit that may come in useful. I'm not that cocky.

Wednesday, H and I cranked through a few practice exams and read the model answers. From them, we determined that there's a pretty high reward for pull-it-out-of-your-ass arguments. The more novel and crack-potted, the more likely they are to keep the professor interested as they are grading their 85th essay. Turns out an engineering degree is a bad thing in these cases. It doesn't occur to me that I should develop a theory about explosions, crashes, etc. that goes against the laws of physics. Thankfully, there were no speculation about destruction questions on the exam.

So, I barely used the notes. And, I barely finished. The proctor called time when I was halfway through spell-check. Turns out I don't know how to spell "forseeability", [laugh] oh well. It's halfway correct and halfway not.

Overall, I was a little disappointed in the exam and my performance. It definitely covered more material in two questions than any of the prof's earlier exams did. I believe I identified most of the issues, and I did my best to analyze the important ones. But, there were too many important issues and not enough time to analyze them all. None of her practice exams had dealt with this problem and I didn't know if it was worth it to point out that I saw the issues I didn't have time to get to, or if I shouldn't bother unless I had time to also analyze them. In the end, I had to make some concessions for speed: I took the two sentence approach. One for "here's an issue" and a follow up of "the facts indicate blah-blah-blah, which leads to a insert-case-here-style approach where result will be the outcome. Or something like that.

I'm disappointed because there was too much to do and in the real world, I would have done it all. On the exam, I had to pick the best few issues to address fully and then use the time left to briefly touch on the others. I did all the basic stuff like sticking to the time allotment for the first question despite it's length, and taking one-third of the time to outline my answers before I started writing. But, the outlines identified WAY more material than I could write about in the remaining two-thirds of the exam. I did my best to rank them in order of importance and just go. I guess I'm a little disappointed because when you are so pressed for time that you don't have time to think, it becomes a game of instincts, and not necessarily a test of your knowledge or ability to communicate it. I guess I can hope my instincts were correct. I have to accept that law school sometimes grades on things like test-taking strategy and instinct instead of understanding, and move on.

Because Hey, I finished my first law school class. I spent the remainder of yesterday giving my brain a much needed break. Some of us went out for lunch and drinks after the exam, we avoided discussing the exam as if it was the plague, then I lounged on a couch watching H's built up TiVo collection (Cold Case Files, Law and Order, QueerEye), read some of the Economist, and finally, went out for dinner with E. Italian food, wine, and early to bed.

This morning, I woke refreshed for the first time in at least 3 days. I slept for 11 hours. I can't believe how physically exhausting this extended learning process is. But, Property is over in a scant 3 days. So, I'm off to make yet another 2-page condensed sheet of ridiculousness.

December 9, 2003

Refreshed...Sort Of

The nap was two hours. It was dark by the time I woke up, so the leaves are still out there annoying our next door neighbor to no end [evil laugh].

I woke intending to study, but took a quick break to call my sister. Turns out my Dad's house was robbed last Friday. Due to finals, I didn't make the weekend family calls (or attend the funeral of my father's best-friend's father) so I was out of the loop.

Apparently, when my dad came home from work for a late lunch, he interrupted them. Have I mentioned that my dad is 6'4" and approximately 290lbs? He went inside to write down the license plate of the woman in the van in his driveway only to watch her partner, "a little guy," run out the front door. He chased after the guy, who left on foot while the woman sped away in the van. The guy got away (my dad's strong but umm... not so fast...). The woman circled back to pick up the guy and my dad CAR-CHASED HER VAN THROUGH TOWN UNTIL HE PINNED IT AGAINST A WALL, with his American 4-door sedan, no less. Then he called the police and waited for them to come pick her up. My dad is hilarious. [laugh]

The story should be better, though. The police let the woman go after 5 hours because my dad never saw her get out of the van or go into the house, she was only parked in his driveway and there was no stolen property in the van. Oh well. Somehow I doubt they'll come back.

Of course, then I had to call my dad and my brother to catch up on the family gossip and yell at my dad for not telling me (I didn't want to bother you during finals). Then E came home, so we talked about our days. In truth I only got about 2 hours of studying for Civ Pro done before dinner and watching Carlito's Way. Another awesome Pacino performance, but at 2h20m, I didn't get to bed as early as I would have liked...

When I woke this morning, I was tired, but I think my brain is capable of going back to full assault mode. It's not happy about it, but I'm not giving it a choice.

December 8, 2003

One Down

Contracts. Finished. 3 hour exam. Very Long. Most people were complaining about not having time to finish. But, I think that's a good thing. I'd rather have a test that covers tons of topics and have the opportunity to write about what I know in order of best to least. If I missed some of the lessor points, so be it. Tests that seem easy and go for a few key points always freak me out. I wonder if I'm missing things, and end up racking my brain in the spare time to try and make up shit that might or might not get points.

After taking that test, I'm drained. I'm going to take a nap, rake the leaves (workout and chore, all in one), and then... begin studying again later this evening.

Based on today's exam, my studying plan looks like it's working pretty well. My approach has been to get the outlines done. Then get the cheat sheets done. By then, I had a general sense of the material and H and I attacked as many practice exams as we could handle.

In the last 3 days, H and I covered around 15 exam questions in prep for this test. We'd outline under time pressure, allotting about 1/3 of the question length, just like we would in the real test, and then we'd discuss what we found. I can't believe how lucky I am to have found a study partner who: doesn't annoy me at all, asks questions that make me think and learn, can study at my house on a regular basis, and enjoys burritos. What were the odds?

And, then, to top it off--we have very different brains. So, we often we take different positions on things that could go either way. We discuss our respective positions and at the end have a very good idea of how to argue both sides of the issue. All but one of the issues (that I spotted, at least) that showed up on the real exam were things we'd covered in depth on the two days prior. I feel like I'd have worked harder without H and chances are, I would have learned less. That's my advice, find a study partner who has the same work ethic and a different way of thinking than you.

Off to get some recovery sleep since the hotel sleep was fitfull and too short. I've finally come down from the adrenaline high I've been on for at least the last 36 hours and my head hurts. My body is craving the bed and I'm only too happy to comply.

December 5, 2003

The Good Life

When you're studying like mad, it's the little things, like emails from your friends that really make your day.

A friend told me about going to his high school reunion:

I had a one person to try to corner me and find out my salary,
but I was able to pass this over easily by just telling him that
I'm a director of soft porn, so my earnings vary.
I explained that last year was a down year,
but this year I really expected to...
get it up.


December 4, 2003

Best Left-Over Thanksgiving Idea

Turkey Fajitas:

Sautee some diced onions and garlic in olive oil.
Throw in cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, chili powder and pepper.
Add a small can of tomato paste and 2 cups of turkey stock and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Cut up left-over turkey (light and dark meat) into bite-sized chunks, throw them in the pan with the sauce.
Cook 'til the sauce has boiled down to the consistency you like and throw in some diced bell peppers for the last 1-2 minutes.

Serve on warmed tortillas, with pico de gallo and lettuce.

And, now, the turkey leftovers are finally gone.
Failed Experiment

I broke down and rebooted into Windows today. Abiword and Open Office couldn't handle my contracts outline formatting. I'm not a formatting freak, but I guess bullet points, bold, indentations, etc. for more than 30 pages were just too much for open source to handle today. I don't have the time to force it to work right now.

There IS a market for a good MS-compatible word processing suite on linux. I wonder when someone will get around to making one that's actually an option for people under pressure to produce documents.

I hate it when I have to go back to using the monopoly. At least this time, they won the battle on features. But, I'm still grumpy about it.

In other news, I accessed my blog in IE for the first time and realized my fonts were hard to read. Here's the newer version.

Back to contracts.

December 3, 2003


Turns out there was a surprise review session today. I really wanted to cut off of campus after class and get some fresh air, and perhaps buy toilet guts, since one of our toilet flushing mechanism died from the abuse of family, turkey, gravy, etc. But, the toilet will have to wait, as will fresh air. The review session was a practice exam of short answer questions for professor Early. He rabidly guards his short answers (the going theory is that he reuses them) so the opportunity to practice on some, even if they were made up by a previous student of his, was something I could not turn down. So, I did what I should have done and studied for a couple of hours, gulped down some food, went to the review and finally took off with H to catch Shattered Glass.

I highly recommend the movie as a study break. Of course, I highly recommend anything that's a study break these days. But seriously, Hayden Christensen did a very good job of playing a clearly troubled young writer, and the story is entertaining. Of course, when he's getting suspended and asked to leave without any of his belongings, the main character asks if he can at least take his law school books with him. The scene involved a book that looked disturbingly like my property book. I just can't escape...

Tomorrow, I've got two timed practice exams: property and torts. Thankfully, my property outline is done. I came home refreshed from the movie and tried to fly through the remaining 15% of my Torts outline. At midnight, I called it quits without winning. If there's anything on the last 5% of class, I'll have to rely on the fact that we recently covered it. I need sleep. Thankfully, E is being wonderfully patient with me and made me tea, ordered dinner for delivery and agreed to come stay with me at the hotel on the nights before my morning exams. I'm very lucky.

Off to kill a few trees by printing my notes and outlines for those classes.

December 1, 2003

Life According to Grandmother

Gran sent an adorable thank you email for thanksgiving that included the following:

Had a good trip home, no rain. It is cold here today, too cold to
rain, darn it, we could surely use it. Your home is lovelyand I'm sure that you are going to be very happy
there. It is nice that you have so many nice cupboards, you can never have
too many. I fussed around with this computer and somehow it is working, but it
makes me so angry because I don't know what I did to make it work, oh well I
won't worry about it until it won't work any more then I'll really be ticked.
I'm sure it is working because you put a good hex on it. HA, HA, HA.
Thanks again my darlings and both of you have a wonderful Christmas.

No mention of finals or school. Not because I didn't mention 'em but because they aren't important. She's been alive a long time. In her wisdom, cabinets, weather, and hexes (on technology) are important, but not school. I'll keep that in mind.

November 30, 2003

Exam Tips from Posner

Posner's responses (see below) to Howard's questions are accessible.

So really, he was talking about written briefs, not exams. But it struck me that if I could keep them in mind while writing my exams, I'd be much better off.

My advice for lawyers practicing before me and my colleagues is threefold:

  • always explain the purpose of a rule that you want us to apply in your favor, because the purpose of a rule delimits its scope and guides its application;
  • always give us practical reasons for the result you are seeking; and
  • don't overestimate the knowledge that an appellate judge brings to your case, because we have very little time to prepare for argument in depth, and the breadth of jurisdiction of the federal courts is such that we cannot possibly be experts in all or most of the fields out of which appeals arise.

I shall try.
More Procrastination

I can hardly wait.

Howard will be adding Posner as a new addition to his very cool 20 questions for the appellate judge.

Okay. Off to burritos and then to study. I swear.
Stupid Patents

I did this as a kid. Didn't you?

What happened to "known or used by others"? How hard can it be to ask your friends, parents, etc. if any of 'em used a swing like this? Ugggghhh....

Okay, now I'm really going to study.

And the beat goes on

Friday and Saturday, I followed the advice of the career center, and DG & Transmogriflaw. My resume is back to 2 full pages, with less specific tech details than it used to have, and no listing of "Skills." All told, I put in over 10 hours of resume editing, firm research, cover letter writing, hand-feeding the nice resume paper into the printer one page at a time, mail-merging letters and labels, editing the letters to make them more "personalized", and envelope stuffing. I've got a nice stack of job packets to show for it. They'll be gone tomorrow and then I get to wait-and-see.

Today is more contracts outlining. H is coming over to sit at the table with me, just like yesterday. We studied 'til 12:30 AM. On a Saturday. I'm so amused at my commitment to only study 1 weekend per month. I'm glad I took advantage of all of the free time in the beginning of the semester. I probably could be taking more free time for myself now, but the problem is, I've never sat for law school exams. I have no idea of how much I need to know. So, I'm going to err on the side of too much. Which is why my life isn't so interesting these days. Oh well. At least I still like the subjects I'm studying. I couldn't imagine doing this much work if I hated it.

Although, there is one thing I hate. I'm definitely out of balance right now. After the big family blow-out, my priorities are now school, school, and a reasonable amount of exercise to keep myself sane (and from turning into an amoeba). It's a conscious choice, but it does have some shitty results.

Yesterday, I talked to J, one of my best friends, and my college roomate of 3 years. We usually get to hang out with at least once every 2 weeks, often much more.

J: So, when's the next time I'm gonna see you?
Me: Probably not 'til after finals.
J: Huh, so when are those over?
Me: December 18th.
J: Shut up! You're going MIA for a full month?
Me: [tired] Yeah...

That's the shittiest part of all this. Friends? What? Oh well, back to the grindstone.

November 28, 2003

Paying the price

Turkey: every moist bite was worth the 5-hour wait
Mushroom-bacon stuffing: as good as it gets
Garlic-cream cheese mashed potatoes: creamy
Ginger-orange cranberry sauce: tangy
Gravy: fatty and delicious
Candied yams: probably not necessary
Dutch apple crunch pies: 3 pieces, definitely not necessary
Family, fun, and food: the day was exactly as it should be

Just woke up with acid reflux. Probably should have avoided at least one of the slices of pie. Oh well. The first Turkey-day at our house was a huge success, so I'm not complaining. Besides, I have crazy leftovers for finals. I hope to not overstuff myself again. Ouch....

November 27, 2003

Family Rocks

Or, at least, my family does. Now that I'm finally old enough to appreciate them.

My papa (grandfather), who is deaf with hearing aids, has close to a liter of fluid in his lungs, but can't get them drained again until he has 1.5 liters, and had to walk very slowly from his hotel to the restaurant in the same parking lot. However, he found the strength to fiercely grab my arm as we sat at the dinner table and quietly yelled at me, "Papa is getting this check." Right. No arguments here. You'd think I hadn't seen this argument a million times by the look in his eyes. Besides, why would I make a fuss when my dad is going to make one before he lets papa get it. Clearly, my place would be to make a fuss to my father, not to papa. I've fought that fight enough times. I know the rules. Birthdays and father's day are the only days where it's appropriate. And, if there are non-family members around, then even pretending that I might want to contribute is some weird insult.

So yeah, in our family, the oldest man at the table gets the check. Or, the person with the most respected power. I'm not certain how it'll work when the oldest or most respected person is a female. The older generations are certainly sexist, or more entrenched in their gender roles. Or, something like that. Anyways, I'm not really sure I get of all of the cultural crap that goes with the check-getting, but it's there, and I've accepted it. Free dinner. I'm a law student. It's cool papa, you can fight with dad (who's also the oldest son) about it. But not me.

My brother, the father of my adorable niece, the smartest most wonderful 22-month old on the planet, also happens to be one of the funniest guys you've ever met. He's my reality check. He embodies so much of Zen without trying that it's frustrating. I doubt I'll ever have his serene laughter in a seemingly unfunny but actually hilarious moment.

He's a young father, a high-school dropout, a construction worker, and one of the least stressed people I've ever met. He's got to support a whole additional life-form while working in a notoriously undependable field (a few months ago, his boss at the time decided to get married, so he gave him 3 hours notice that there would be no work for 3 weeks, and after that, well, he just wasn't sure). And yet, he's way less stressed than I am, living this ridiculously cush life where the governement gives me cheap money to learn cool shit. Sure, I try to keep myself relatively chill, and do a fairly decent job when compared against law students. But really, that's like saying I'm doing a good job of keeping my carnal urges in check when compared with John Holmes.

So, tonight, my brother told work stories about fires, missing fingers, tearing things down, and what-do-you know, turns out he's the only English speaker on his crew, and his Spanish is pretty damn good. I never even knew. I knew he could affect accents pretty well. I knew he took a couple years of spanish in high school. But, dude, the guy actually speaks Spanish really well. He's so different from most of the people in school. He's brilliantly intelligent but doesn't care. He feels no need to show how bright he is, what he's accomplished, or where he's headed. He just wants to chill, have a few beers, tell jokes, trade stories, and have a good time. He really is the epitome of cool. He's a great dad, a good boyfriend to his baby-mama, and an awesome brother who turned down a free (dad's paying, same principal) hotel room at the Sheraton to stay at our house so the siblings could all bond.

My sis, as I mentioned, is having fun and figuring out who/what she wants to be. She showed up early, helped with food prep for tomorrow, and gave up her ridiculous architecture student schedule for a full two days to be here. Given that she often pulls multiple all-nighters in a row and will be paying for this holiday with her sleep, I'm honored and impressed.

My gran, bless her heart, made my papa stop at the Madonna Inn on their way here for pies (mmm...dutch apple crunch, you have NO idea!). She also pulled at my brother's hair and complained that it was too long. She corrected the hilarious stories my aunt told about my dad to be sure that the details were exactly true and not exaggerated. She's cranky and stubborn and sharp and hiding parkinson's in a fiercely brave way. (Much like the check thing, the hiding ugly truths thing is another weird family issue. Used to piss me off. Now it's quaint and endearing.)

My aunt sat in 3 hours of traffic to meet us at the restaurant and made hilarious jokes at my father's expense which is always a fabulous thing. Earlier, she made the hotel reservations, got the directions to my grandparents, called them every 4 hours to make sure they were cool, and generally, made it possible for them to be here.

My dad sat in traffic for 4 hours and showed up with a case of eye of the hawk for the "kids" to take back to our house after dinner.

More people arrive tomorrow and the feast will be wonderful. On the day for giving thanks, I can't believe how much I have to give. Because, like I said, my family rocks.

November 25, 2003


Last weekend, I spent an hour culling my 2+ page resume down to the career-center mandated size of one page. This meant that all non-legal experience was left for inference from job titles.

Today, in my meeting with a career center counselor, I was told that given my technical background, I really should have a two page resume with bullet points for each job to show what I've done.

Hate it when I cross something off my to-do list only to have it reappear later.

Oh well. I can add un-shrinking my resume, to the weekend's tasks of outlining contracts, writing cover letters, and stuffing envelopes in time to get them in the mail with the rest of my classmates' entries in the December 1st blitz.

Thank goodness for the break from legal montony that Turkey Day will provide. Last night, we pulled off $257 worth of grocery shopping at 9 pm. God bless 24-hour grocery stores. Tonight's fun consists of finally finishing my property outline and the very last reading of the semester (only 10 pages of contracts and I'm in the clear...) with study breaks for cleaning, and hiding all dangerous-to-little-people objects.

November 24, 2003

Survey of the Good Stuff

This weekend was predictably boring and full of studying, outlining, and updating the old resume. I feel good because I'm on track and not over-doing it (yet). I've never actually been this prepared for exams this early in the game, it's weird. I'm actually annoyed at my discipline. My weekend was devoid of most of the stuff I look forward to M-F. Now it's Monday again. I'm still outlining property, I have 8 cases left, and hope to finish the entire thing before it's time to go to school.

Good Stuff from the Weekend:

  • Friday night with E, a friend D, and her husband, talking, drinking wine, eating pizza, and consoling her because she did not pass the bar. Shitty. What else are friends for but to make you laugh when crap like this happens?
  • Saturday Morning Sex
  • Bike ride to the last 30 minutes of the GAME to cheer for the TEAM from the tailgater's parking lot (With E).
  • Dog Day Afternoon (With E)
  • Sunday Afternoon Burritos (With E)
  • Hot Tea (With my books)
  • Knowing that Turkey Day will mean a house full of good food and family

Okay. I guess my weekend wasn't that lame. In fact, I'm batting 1,000 on the relationship end. I just miss being a bum.

But, there's nothing like knowing unemployed JDs, reading people's comments on the 2L job market, and knowing a couple of people who didn't pass the California Bar, to motivate me to study at the expense of my usually chill weekends. At least reading period won't suck. I'm going to be well rested and get to work out regularly. I'm also going to know my shit. Shoulder to the wheel.

Interesting note, in D's class at her law firm, the kids from lower tiered schools all passed. Only 20% of the kids from top 10 schools did. The Civ Pro Review of Clarity was taught by a professor from a nearby "lower tiered" school. Despite the legal prestige rule of thumb, there are good things about being away from the ivory-tower theory-heads.

November 23, 2003

Dog Day Afternoon

Watch It.

A young Al Pacino holds up a bank in order to get money for his transvestite wife's sex change operation. 1970's, Comedy, Drama, Directed by Sydney Lumet (also responsible for 12 Angry Men).

A highly recommended break for your brain.

November 20, 2003

Did you know

That there was once a Justice Frankfurter?

When you're living my current life, you've got to take your amusement where you can...

Basically, I'm still alive, and my life is ludicrously boring, hence the dearth of postings [as opposed to my oh-so-exciting life when I'm posting]. I've finished the reading for the semester in property, and I'm one page short of finishing Civil Procedure. I've attended every study group this week--but they are hit and miss, some are amazingly on target and helpful, others are taught by frenzied 2Ls who haven't read the cases for the week. Unfortunately, it's not predictable. Last week, Professor Together's study group was an excellent hypothetical exercise that taught me a ton. This week, I wanted to yell at the 2L to stop bull-shitting--we could all tell he hadn't read the cases, it's not like a spade can't call a spade.

A few weeks ago, I took advantage of the "scholarship" offered to students and registered to attend an intellectual property conference near school this week. This morning, I went to school an hour early in hopes of signing in, picking up my badge and attending the sessions between classes. Did I mention that the people who told me the conference center was "around the corner from school," were extremely optimistic? There is a corner involved. There was also an $8 cab ride back to school since it took so long to walk there that I took my badge, bagel (can't forego the free food), listened to about 10 minutes of lecture and then left to go to class. I didn't go back and will not be doing so. Kind of a waste of a "scholarship" but I'm sure they'll send me marketing materials about CLE until I puke, so it's a fair trade.

The best thing I've done this week is attend a review session for civil procedure taught by an alumnus. He boiled down everything we've covered into a lucid, clear, and well-organized 90-minute lecture. He also gave us useful advice about what each of our professors actually want to see on exams. Before the review, I was certain Civ Pro was my biggest stressor. By the end of the lecture, people were asking him why he didn't teach at our school. In other words, staying 'til 8 pm when class got out before 4 pm was a good call on this one.

So, yeah, other than class, study groups, reviews, outlining, and finishing the reading, I'm trying to hit the gym or do something physical at least once every third day. I was right to enjoy my spare time while I could.

Oh, and H is cooler than I thought (which is hard to imagine). My concerns about H not understanding the need for anonyminity were clearly unfounded. Today, he referred to my cast of players by asking me repeatedly who I had been "talking" about when I mentioned someone was conservative (like daddy). It took me a while but eventually, I caught his drift. Given that other law students were involved in this conversation, I was happy and impressed with his skill. I think perhaps he's more capable of subterfuge than his all-american-as-apple-pie image lets on. I admire that.

November 17, 2003

When I'm Free (aka procrastination)

I think I'll put my creative writing skills to use by baiting a scam artist.

For now, I'll just post Michael Bako's email address in hopes that some spiders will pick it up and spam him with some equally stupid Nigerian 419 fraud.

I'm particularly impressed with these details:

I was the account officer to one Mr. Ali B. Ashraf who died along
with his family on the 7th of November 1997 in an BAC 1-11 3005 plane
crash at Engirin River,near lagos. All 141 passengers on board were


Unfortunately from the day of his death till the time of this letter
none of his relation or friends has come forward for the claim. The
bank's policy stipulates that if such fund remained unclaimed after a
period of five (5)years it will be transferred into the bank treasury
as unclaimed funds.

I received the email on Thu, 13 Nov 2003 03:33:23. As in, 1 year 6 days too late to take part in the scam. Bummer.
Want to laugh?

Put competitive 1Ls, a couple of weeks before their first set of finals, into a damages negotiation exercise.

Make sure that there aren't enough details in the hypo so that to accomplish anything they'll have to agree to common versions of the facts before they even begin negotiating.

Watch them go for blood. As in, my client wants at least $1 million dollars for the horrific laceration and resulting pain and suffering that was the result of your client's gross negligence in purchasing the dangerously sharp paper. People came in ready to fight. There was little to no agreement about the basic material facts that would be a necessary part of even attempting to negotiate.

The whole point about negotiating and coming to an agreement seemed to be lost. But, boy, were a lot of people having fun pretending to be bull-dog lawyers.

It was a nice diversion from the reality of approaching exams.

November 15, 2003

Nothin' but the Rent

Still alive. The current standing is outlining, reading, eating, sleeping, talking to E, with working out coming in dead last. Despite the event's success, my commitments to the do-gooder club are not over. Also, somewhere in the next two weeks, I need to get to the career center, get them to tell me why my resume sucks, write cover letters, and send out about 20 packets to the various firms I'd like to work for this summer. Add general crap like bills, keeping the food supply stocked, and preparing for the holidays, and well, you can see why the blog is suffering.

I'm in countdown mode at this point--two weeks of class, 3.5 weekends, 4 finals, and then freedom.

I was happy to see that The Onion has made light of bloggers getting found out. Granted, I think it's particularly funny when people post under their real names and are surprised to be found out. But, it doesn't really matter how it's written, it is funny--we expose ourselves on the internet, the stuff that people like to read is the stuff people like to hear. It would breed schizophrenia to keep track of what we say where and avoid telling good stories in both spaces. Why are we amazed when people connect our online selves with our flesh ones? [Laugh] Even though we know it's futile, that doesn't stop many of us from pretending we're anonymous and free. Bless those who have us figured out and honor our wishes.

November 11, 2003

Misread Words

Redound. Not Rebound. Redound. Somehow, the first time through the passage, I saw rebound. The second time I looked it up. What do you know, according to the 4th definition, I didn't need to do so.

Main Entry: re·dound
Pronunciation: ri-'daund
Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French redonder, from Latin redundare, from re-, red- re- + unda wave -- more at WATER
Date: 14th century
1 archaic : to become swollen : OVERFLOW
2 : to have an effect for good or ill (new power alignments which may or may not redound to the faculty's benefit -- G. W. Bonham)
3 : to become transferred or added : ACCRUE

November 10, 2003

Sigh of Relief

Well. LWR is officially over. I turned in my memo, had a few beers with my classmates, and came home breathing easier. Man, I hated that class. I'm very happy that I only have to concentrate on my substantive classes for the next few weeks. That will most certainly be enough to keep me busy.

In other news, H found me out. I'm no longer a fully anonymous blogger. It was only a matter of time. One of the more interesting side effects of H's discovery was fascination.

"Why do you blog?"
"What do you write about?"
"Am I in your blog?"

I tried to explain why I started and couldn't come up with a good explanation. It's just something some of us do. We're odd. For me, I guess it's a desire to be part of the community that's helped me out so much, and also just a desire to leave proof of my existence. In high school I had an English teacher who had a sign on the wall that said, "If you want to be remembered when you are gone, either do things worth writing or write things worth reading." Clearly, I'm not really doing either right now. But my heart is in the right place.

Also, I don't feel so lonely simply because I blog and I know that people read it. I don't separate blogging from reading other blogs, so I guess another plus is that participating in this world is immensely practical: I'm often the 1L who has the down low on journals, interviewing, exams, life-in-school, and other basic stuff that you could easily learn by doing. Thanks to those that have gone before me, I've already vicariously lived through many of the trials and tribulations of law school. Given how easily I could have blown off class, reading, my memo, outlining, etc. and not buckled down for the long haul, I'm very grateful to my predecessors for their stories. I'm in it for the good fight, and I owe much of my dedication to my comrades.

November 9, 2003

The Score

Last week was rough. Each of my professors gave at least one mini-lecture on the topic of exams. They claim these lectures are to calm the fear of the 1Ls, but it seemed to me that they just heightened everyone's jitteriness. I kept up on the reading, went to class, studied late most nights, and went to the eye doctor (note: law school is not so nice to soft contact lens wearers, not enough blinking while reading==scary bloodshot eyes). I completed yet another draft of my LWR memo only to get yet another "suggestion" for organizing the content (mouse on a wheel, that's me). I went to discussion group for a class or two and attended yet another professional panel of practicing attorneys. I also completely bailed/forgot about lunch with a very busy friend/client and showed up late to my first class on every day but one.

I'm still fitting my real life in the cracks of law school, but the available spaces are decreasing. E's birthday was yesterday. We had a blast with roughly 20 friends, some of whom we hadn't seen in several months. We stuffed our faces on some of the freshest and most reasonably priced sushi I've ever had in the city at Judah Ozaku Ya. We were both VERY glad it was over when it was. Too much. That is my life in two words these days.

Speaking of too much, holiday and winter break plans are shaping up, including plans for up to 17 people at our house for Thanksgiving. People say I'm crazy for hosting Thanksgiving during my 1L year, but they don't have my family. It's the first year in the new house--it's not much of a question. My dad's parents are both in their 80's, married over 50 years, and able to drive the 3-hour trip to our new house. How can you say no to that? They are awesome, hilarious, cranky, smart, and wonderfully old people. Every time I see them I'm reminded that my time with them is limited. I'm not letting law school fuck up my priorities that much.

In the I-don't-know-if-that's-necessary-right-now-category, I bought plane tickets for my trip to Egypt over winter break. I also bought arabic CDs to listen to on the commute and a few books on arabic as well. I am trying to learn the alphabet when I need a break from law school books. So far, I can recognize 4 letters. I have a couple of weeks after finals to learn as much as I want, so I'm not trying to jam it into my study schedule like an idiot. It's just relaxing to learn new letter forms after staring at the same damn latin letters for hours on end.

This week promises to be much worse. H is coming over to start outlining property today. It's unlikely that we'll finish, so it'll have to be continued on Monday and Tuesday. The final draft of my LWR memo is due tomorrow. The fundraising event for the do-gooder club I'm in is Thursday. I'm shocked out how poorly the event is managed. There are at least 10 major tasks left and the head of the committee hasn't assigned them. I suspect this will devolve into a ridiculous frenzy on the day of the event...

The light at the end of the tunnel is next weekend. I already bailed on an acquaintance's 30th birthday bender on Saturday--which would have been fun, but the price of time is too high. I plan to do nothing but hang out with E, study, sleep, eat well, work out, update my resume, and catch up on any lingering real-life issues from the week.

November 7, 2003

Made My Day

My little sister, who's generally quite the goody two shoes, got her drunk ass ejected from a club last weekend.

I'm so proud.

The best part? She was too drunk to remember even going to the club and had to hear about it from her friends.

Everyone needs to have at least one night like that--it's a common human experience that makes us all understand each other just a little bit better.

November 4, 2003

Amazing conversation from the gym

Two Women:

W1: Well, you know, it's just so bad for you... all the toxins.
W2: Oh, definitely. You know, if you're really concerned, in addition to the seaweed wraps, you can go down to LA and get a colonic.
W1: Yeah, I'm thinking about it. Autotoxicity is really getting to me. I've heard if you cleanse yourself of those toxins it's great for losing weight, your skin, everything. It's just so good for you.
W2: You need to be sure not to abuse it though. Only like once every 6 months.

Ugggghhhh.... there are so many things wrong with this conversation. Why is the most popular medical farce of Victorian times making a comeback? At my gym? Near me? Just in response to this, I'm thinking about not renewing my gym membership... I'll just run, get some weights, maybe a road-bike and trainer/rollers for when it rains.

P.S. To the person who found this blog via 1L memo bad grade. We all feel you, dog. No stress. The writing grades are by far the most arbitrary, 'scool. It'll all work out just fine. Keep on keepin' on, and all that. Peace.

When Catholic School Girls Attack

Yet again, I have proof that DitzyGenius is the bomb. I'm Laughing my ass off thanks to her link, and very happy to hear that someone else in law school gets the concept of headphone etiquette. Actually, I'd prefer it if people actually got the concept of, "I'm working, please don't bother me," regardless of my accessories, but that's probably asking for too much.

Law School Books

After so much time in each of their company, I've come to think of my books as people.

Torts is preachy, really bad at math, and doesn't seem to have a full grasp of science, although this doesn't stop her from making the oh-so-popular horrible quantum or grand-unification-theory analogy. Her heart's in the right place, but she often presents a slanted perspective--it almost always seems that her hypos are geared to make your heart bleed for the plaintiff. I'm doing my best to put up with her in the professional sense, but we wouldn't spend time together unless it was required.

Contracts is very proper. He's got lots of old english, citations to the restatement and UCC immediately following the cases, sections on background and history, a very sober serif font on cream-colored textured paper (instead of the youthful glossy white of his fellow comrades). Plus, he has the propriety to put his own comments (rhetorical questions, things to think about, etc) in short, concise paragraphs, in italics. He seems to respect the tradition of the law more than my other books.

CivPro, well, she seems to be too busy to actually give me the time of day. She throws a ton of information at me and expects that I'll go elsewhere for elucidation if I'm confused. She seems experienced, a know-it-all, and very well aware that what she knows can not actually be taught in two short semesters.

Property is a geek. He's quirky. He's got all sorts of oddness and details that exist for good reasons but he's not interested in spelling it out for you. He'll show you the way he derived the solution, but he's certainly not going to just GIVE you the equation.

And that, my friends, is a quick look at my exciting social life these days.

November 2, 2003

The Long Haul

H and I decided that if we outlined one subject a weekend, starting this weekend, we'd be on target to use the last weekend of classes to finalize the last few weeks on our outlines. Mind you, this is in order to be on target. Not ahead. Simply on top of things. I think November is the reason most people hate the 1L year. I've done a decent job of not sacrificing my weekends to the law school gods, but this month will be a different story.

In an unfortunate bit of foreshadowing, we both seriously underestimated how long it would take to outline Torts. We figured 6 hours of work on Saturday and we'd be home free. Well, we did work for about 6 hours yesterday, and we're halfway through the syllabus. Today will be more of the same.

More fun this week will include getting another draft of my LWR memo in to my TA for feedback, which I may choose to take with a grain of salt. My meeting with the LWR prof was VERY enlightening. He is looking for very different things than the comments I had been getting from my TA. Which explains why my last memo didn't do so hot--TA told me it was great, Instructor had a different definition of great. I'm very glad LWR isn't a GPA class--I don't have to be so upset about the unfairness of having the rough drafts graded by someone with different standards than the final grader--talk about lack of useful feedback. (Some of the TA's suggestions actually lost me points on the instructor-graded memo. Sheesh.)

I'm guessing all 1Ls are all in the same boat--last couple of weeks of LWR, which makes up more than 50% of that grade, panels of professionals all over the place (which are important to attend since most of us have no clue of what there is to do, much less what we want to do), all the summer job stuff to do before December 1, and the long haul of finishing out the semester: keeping up on reading and going to class when it's the last thing you want to do, outlining, and just when you think you've finished learning everything you need to know--there are sample exams to write.

I'm glad I took advantage of the free time I had earlier in the semester, because I suspect the next 5-7 weeks are going to be boring. My goal is to maintain my sanity: to make time for workouts at least 4 times a week, and to have a fun night or weekend afternoon at least twice a week. Other than that, it's me and the law.

I'm guessing that many of my fellow students don't need as much time as I do to maintain their sanity. They'll be able to cram more work into the last few weeks than I will. Age does have its disadvantages: I need sleep, I need to spend time with E, I need to workout, I need to eat healthier. Then again, maybe I won't get sick after finals for the first time in my life--my younger MO was to cram like Hell, take finals, and then spend the next week in bed. It would be nice to start enjoying the break immediately after the last exam...maybe acknowledging my needs is wise...I guess I'll have to wait and see.

November 1, 2003

Twas a Happy Halloween

Man. Things were magical last night. You know how sometimes things just fall into place and you feel like the world was made for you to enjoy? That was last night. I thought we would be handing out candy to the kids alone, ordering pizza, and going to bed early. Which would have been fine.

But, friends decided to come join us--so the four of us sat outside, drinking wine, laughing and handing out candy to the adorable children who were directed to our non-decorated house from the neighbors' extravaganza (which included a petting zoo of jello molds of brains, dyed udon noodles, radishes with fake eyeballs glued on the front, several dry ice experiments, a smoke machine, music, the mummies, strobe lights, spiders, spider webs galore). Another friend showed up after he left work, and then we were five.

When it was too dark for kids, we decided to go get "7 courses of beef." Yes, there is such a thing, it's a traditional Vietnamese meal, and it is wonderful. E and I always laughed about seeing it on the menu at our favorite South Bay Vietnamese restaurant. One day, we ordered it when out with one of our friends who is a huge eater and always up for a dare (okay, E & I were up for it too... who wouldn't be, it's 7 courses of beef?). Turns out the courses are smaller than you'd think, it's actually almost a light meal, and DAMN, are the courses good: a flash fried beef salad (awesome), beef in vinegar and onion fondue to be constructed (by you) into rice paper rolls with veggies (a gift from the gods), 3 different types of small beef rolls, beef/vermicelli/spice meatballs on rice crackers, and a rice-based porrige with, you guessed it, beef. Dinner was long and full of laughter. Plus, there's the drip coffee into condensed milk.

We tried to find a friend's housewarming party and failed. Mainly because I looked at the start of the mapquest map instead of the end and we drove around our own neighborhood looking for his street. Didn't happen. We didn't really want to go anyways, but we felt good knowing that we tried, and it just didn't work, we didn't even have his new number.

We came back, lost one of the friends, played some video games and called it a night. That was exactly what I needed after this week of school.

October 29, 2003

Apologies in Advance

I've got too much to do. This week--the combination of chores, social events, preparing for the holidays (ah, the multi-stage travel plans for winter break and details of thanksgiving at our house...), school, trying to work out at least twice this week, and additional school stress/crap/work because the final memo for LWR and final exams are quickly approaching--I'm feeling very stereotypically 1-L-ish.

Tomorrow AM, for example, I have to rise and be out of the house before 7:30 in order to stop by the house of friends to pick up chairs we lent them for their housewarming, then the commute in rush hour traffic to meet with my LWR prof about my memo (2nd one, should I rewrite, 3rd one, how's it looking?), then my regular day of classes from 9:30 - 3:30, possibly a quick drink with some school friends, commute home, read 'til 7:30 PM, get presentable and go out to dinner with E to celebrate 3 years of blissful togetherness.

Friday, well, there's school, a meeting for the do-gooder club I joined (where I'll either have to admit I did nothing of the task I was assigned or somehow squeeze it in), and then handing out candy to the kids from our very non-decorated, non-festive house. Our neighbors have an entire display--multiple spider webs, mummies, a TV (working!) that the mummies are watching in the front yard. Down the street, they stuffed some pants, added some shoes and put the waist on the ground. Looks like someone is buried head first up to the belt. Awesome!

This weekend, I'm hoping to catch up--as in start outlining, finish some more chores, take yet another crack at my memo...Some of my fellow students will be taking an "Exam Writing System" course this weekend. I'm opting out. I'm also very curious what they will cover. Curious enough that I feel hypocritical for opting out--although I suppose even if I wanted to take it I wouldn't have time. I suppose I'll have to keep myself happy with advice I've gathered from friends who've been through this already and the general approach preached by Getting to Maybe.

And with that, I bid you adieu. See you soon, I hope.

October 28, 2003

Easy Pleasing

A friend was in town, so dinner plans were made that went quickly from 4 to 6.

I finished my reading and ran for the first time in several days to build up the appetite I knew I'd need.

We all ate ourselves sick on very authentic south Indian food.


October 27, 2003

Thinking about the future

I went to a professional panel of IP lawyers today. Both lawyers who got into the field without a technical background came through the litigation door. Both had strong backgrounds in foreign language. All 3 indicated that other than a technical background, a foreign language is the next most useful skill an IP lawyer can have. (Unless, of course, you can come in with amazing people skills... but we all know that's fairly unlikely {evil grin--I can pick on geeks cuz I'm one of 'em}).

Why the foreign language? Two reasons:
1. The increasingly international nature of technology law
2. The ability to translate, learn new vocabulary, and explain things with a limited set of words are all very useful skills in the courtroom when dealing with technical jargon and trying to explain it to a jury or judge.

#2 surprised me. But it makes sense.

I also listened to the career services schpiel: Network, network, network. My friend, H, was offended. "I'm not excited about the concept of cold calling people and pretending to have things in common with them to set up an informational interview so that I might get a job with them this summer. That's not me. I'm not all about networking. I've never had to schmooze in my life. It seems wrong that annoying and questionably-qualified schmoozers will deprive qualified non-schmoozers of jobs."

I realized just how much the valley has changed me. I used to be offended by the concept of networking too--I wanted the world, and my career in particular, to be completely merit-based. But, every job in my post-college life has come through personal connections or word-of-mouth recommendations. This isn't due to lack of trying in companies where I had no connections. It's just the way of the world. There are too many resumes to sift through and nothing acts like a seive quite like words from the mouth of someone you know. I'm not sure that making connections isn't some sort of merit-based test--it tests your people skills and your communication skills. But, I remember feeling like H at other points in my life. In particular, I remember feeling animosity towards the stereotype of Ivy League schmoozing winning out over competence. Thankfully, in the tech world, the connections will get you the interview, but your skill has to get you past the first interviewer. If you suck, they won't even bother taking you out to lunch.

I assume it's the same in law, but perhaps it is more corrupt and all you need to know is someone with power. I hope I'm wrong. For H's sake and for mine. From what I gather from reading about OCI at the more prestigious schools, schmoozing is not involved--it's more like a round-robin jousting tournament. I can hardly wait for my turn on the horse.

Celebrate Good Times

The last official class of LWR is complete. Woo Hoo!!! Ken even made a funny joke. That's how magical the moment was...

I've got a private meeting with the instructor, two more drafts of my final memo, possibly a rewrite of the first memo, a social outing with the class and then it's over. You have no idea how happy I am.

October 24, 2003

Good Old Fashioned Civil Disobedience

I've been part of software projects where things that didn't exist were promised by the management. I've seen what gets thrown together in the short term and then delivered. Demoware. With Bugs. That the engineers are embarrassed about.

Check out Why War and the excerpts from the Diebold internal memos. Looks like the election software for the 2000 elections may fit the crappy software bill.

I may have to buy a copy of Black Box Voting when it comes out.

October 23, 2003

Breathing Easier

The breakneck pace I kept up this week paid off--I'm basically in the clear for the week. I have relatively little reading tonight, two classes tomorrow, and I've finished all of the ridiculous research for my LWR Memo draft that's due on Monday. I decided my knees needed 3 days off, so starting tonight and through the weekend (while I'm blissfully relaxing at a friend's parent's vacation house), I've restricted myself from all running and hiking (but I'll probably get talked into a bike ride, which I'll enjoy). I already warned all who will be at the weekend retreat that I'll be arriving with law school books. It seems I'm in good company since at least one of the professionals admitted to bringing work. I hope to pound out a decent memo and most of next week's reading between sips of cocoa, gourmet meals, wine, biking, Pictionary, Uno, great conversation, and of course, enjoying the sun and lake.

This afternoon, I baked a cheesecake for the weekend. First one. Looks pretty decent, but what a weird process--I had no idea what went into one of those things. The first cheesecake maker must have had one hell of a muse... Speaking of muses, I'm amused that besides enjoying blogging, tech stuff, and law stuff, many of my fellow blawgers are also food geeks.
In Case You Were Wondering


If, for some reason, we run into each other outside of class, I'm NOT interested in the hypo you just came up with. Particularly the one that incorporates the sandwich man, and the money I'll pay for my sandwich.

October 22, 2003

Sharing and Caring

So, the nice approach is preferred. Fine. I agree. I'll share anything and everything.

Although, the everyone uses the same statutes, cases, etc. theory works pretty well unless your memo is based on an actual case that your instructor tried. In our case, no other 1Ls are looking for the stuff we need. Today, the librarian asked me why 1Ls are looking for legislative history and treatises on obscure law. Uh, that'd be because there is no case law in this area and our instructor pointed us in that direction. Interesting? Fascinating. Good topic for a graded memo in a curved class for basic legal skills? Probably not.

But, what goes around comes around. Or something like that. Right?

So, I wonder who who hid all 4 copies of the library-use-only treatises that our instructor recommended we reference. The reference librarian explained that they'd been missing for a week. They aren't even allowed to leave the library. All 4 copies? There's only 15 people in the class. And most of 'em work in groups.
If what goes around comes around, I should share things that I find with these people? It's a hard bit to swallow.

I've got too much to do to be blogging right now. But, I just wanted to let you all know exactly what I'm up against and why I don't feel like sharing everything I find. Sharing as in telling people so that they don't have to repeat my work, mind you. Not sharing in the "it's my book and no one else can use it" sense. That is just ridiculous.

October 20, 2003

Dose of Humility

LWR Memo came back. Seems that LWR doesn't like me any more than I like it. Big fat B-minus.

I'd say about 1/4 of the marks were things I'd argue--and will, in my sit-down review with my instructor next week. 1/4 of the marks were stylistic things that you always encounter with a new audience and experience has taught me to let them go (the word "several" really gets his goat...who knew?), and 1/2 were totally valid. {laugh} I probably did need a conclusion paragraph at the end of my first set of points. I did quote an older case than the one I should have quoted.

Given the curve, and the mistakes I made, I'm not shocked at the grade. But it does have a minus hanging off of it that I'd really rather not be there. It just hurts, I'd rather it wasn't there. I could do a rewrite to get the minus removed. But, the course is a non-GPA course.

I want to rant about the arguing points and his general lack of effort on our part, and that it's the first feedback I've gotten from him, so how could I know to avoid his stylistic pet peeves. But even if I those things for free, I'd still be looking at a B+ in the best case. Seems like it's not worth the rant if it won't even get me to an A. Truth is, I missed some important organizational points.

Today, when we went over the topic for our next memo, I volunteered cases, statutes, and senate hearings that I'd found. But, I'm aware that it's a curved class. When I volunteer what I've found, if others haven't found it, I hurt myself. It didn't stop me--I was happy to point to what I considered relevant parts of the law--well, for the most part. I did keep one rabbit-in-the-hat find to myself. I guess my point is that it seems silly to have group discussions about research and findings and then grade on a curve. The curve will kill the group discussion, eventually.

I miss problem sets. I liked the curve much better when the problems just got longer and harder until people didn't finish the test in time, or got them wrong. You could share the equations ahead of time and know you weren't hurting yourself. The competitive crap sucks. Oh well. Such is life as a 1L.

Don't Read Good Books During Law School

So, I finally finished One Hundred Years of Solitude. It was Epic. Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Depressing. Magical. And exhausting.

That's right--Exhausting. Good books make me think. A lot. And I've already got lots to think about with property, civil procedure, contracts, torts and LWR (which may suck as a class, but the assignments actually cover law that's interesting...) In fact, I have so much to think about that I've been having fscked up dreams.

I spent much of today when I should have been working on my LWR memo thinking about Columbia and multiple generations of family living in one house over the years. Their trials and tribulations. The fact that life was totally out of their control and they were constantly forced to accept that fact. The death of the good. The long lives of the not-so-good. The illicit loves. The human reality and drama. And so much of it was the antithesis of the American Myth. This really got me thinking. Most 2nd generation (and anything beyond that) Americans of my generation were raised by parents who honestly believed that life was a ladder, a recipe, a formula. Work hard, get an education, prosperity is yours to achieve, if only you reach for it. But for the majority of the world's history it hasn't worked like that. Luck is a very large force. Death comes whenever it feels like it. War changes everything. The American Myth/Dream doesn't deal with those realities. Neither does our media. How could they get an audience if they did? But the myth is an abberation. Most people would claim it's not sustainable. Even more would claim it's just plain not true. And I'm stuck in law school in a contrived competition against a bunch of kids who know very little outside of the myth. I don't even know much outside of it. I think that'll change during my lifetime. But for now, I need to focus on school. Which is unfortunate, because after the book, school seems much less important.

{sigh} I'm on a self-imposed book moratorium until winter break. {laugh} I wonder how long that'll last. Perhaps the next choice can be a little less demanding? All I know is that The Cairo Trilogy is definitely out 'til after exams.

October 18, 2003

Ditzy Genius, Will You Marry Me?

This was so necessary.
Next Semester

I got my first choice elective. Tax. I think it's because no one wants to take tax. I didn't hear a single person in my section (besides me) say that they were going to take it. Sounds like comfortable dorkdom to me.

Unfortunately, next semester's schedule is not as cool as this semester's. 9:40 class M-F. Given the commute, and my desire to sleep in, this is not a good thing. On Wednesday, I will have one class. At 9:40 AM. What do you suppose my attendance record for that class will be? It's very hard to justify getting up and driving for twice as long as I'll be in class.

On the plus side, I don't have any classes that go beyond 3:30 PM and I will get out of class at 1:40 PM on Fridays. Of course, I have no idea where moot court fits in this whole thing, so my celebrations could be early and incorrect. Let us hope this is not the case.
Weekend, It's the Weekend...

Man, I love the weekend. We had four friends over for dinner last night: lots of laughs, eggplant parmagiano, several bottles of red wine, and Marie Calendar's pies. What more could I want?

I've got 2 LWR assignments, quite a bit of reading, outlining I should but probably won't do, and chores and working out that I probably will do. One of the chores, as I mentioned, is to go to Frys and leave with only a new cpu fan and a case fan. I can only hope that the recent addition of Simpson's Hit and Run to the household will keep the technology urges in check. I suppose we'll see. (Simpons Hit and Run rocks, by the way.)

As for school, it's slightly geared up, but still in an acceptably chill state. A 2L friend of mine tried to gently curb my enthusiasm the other day, "the last 4 weeks are going to be hell, just accept it." The 3L who heads the fundraising committee for the pro bono student group I joined had this to say while trying to schedule the event:

Well, we can't have it after Thanksgiving. A horrible exam-death descends on the campus after Thanksgiving and it's a terrible place. No one will be interested in attending a social event, even if it's for a good cause.

Rad...I can't wait.

October 17, 2003


I'm pretty good about doing my reading before class. But yesterday, I was in such a hurry to leave school that I forgot to pack my books. At home, I felt like I was playing hooky. Reading my pleasure book, drinking wine, watching a movie, hanging out with E, and even eating the remainder of the leftover avocado soup all felt like guilty, dirty, cheating fun. Funny how stolen fruit tastes better.

The gods must not look too much down on my sins because my unpreparedness went unpunished--although my friend H, who sits next to me, was called on, and stumbled through the response from the book briefs. Book briefs... those things look pretty cool. May have to go get me some.

October 15, 2003

Technology, can't live with it...

My desktop hard drive is dying. Intermittently, it likes to crash. Horribly. As in "I can't find the kernel file, I can't boot" type crashing. Both Windows and Linux are dead when this happens. After it cools, it seems to work for a while. So, I took the side of the case off and am letting it breath easy in the end of its life. But, the functioning period is decreasing in average time--shortly it'll average 5 minutes, no doubt. So, cross your fingers for me and hope that I get my backups across the network before this functional period runs out.

I'm off to write a sample exam answer for professor rate. I also hope the computer doesn't crash before that's done and printed. Wish me luck.

P.S. Chilled avocado soup is the bomb.

October 14, 2003

Soup Season

8 weeks in. Fall, as much as it comes here, is on it's way. It's getting colder at night. The time for soup and big red wine is here. Mmmmm.....

Traditionally, I read more during the colder seasons. I hope this habit will serve me well this semester. Some concentrated reading and outlining is probably in order for the weekend but today is chores, and the rest of the week rolling along in the go to class, workout, read, research, and write mode. I'm keeping up, but feel like a bit of mid-semester consolidation would do wonders for keeping me relaxed and focused on the important things in life. Like soup.

Last night, E and I enjoyed green bean and parmesan soup--a much better use of green beans than as a side dish.

Sautee a few chopped garlic cloves in 2 T butter.
Throw in a hand full of green beans, with the ends chopped off.
After two minutes, add a can of chicken stock, salt, and pepper to taste.
Boil for 10-15 minutes until beans are tender.
Puree the beans and liquid 'til smooth and return to the pot.
Mix in a handful of parmesan cheese until melted.
Serve immediately.

Tonight: avocado soup.

October 11, 2003

Slow Down Jimmy

Photo courtesy of ernie.

October 10, 2003

What a Week!

The work load was particularly brutal this week. The final draft of our memo is due Monday, and several of my classes have hit topics that are more complex than anything we've covered up to this point. My workout schedule took quite a hit this week. But, thankfully, I was able to fit in a quick workout between classes today that let me join my classmates at the bar after school. Usually, I'm in a hurry to get away from school in order to fit in a workout and relax in the sanctuary of home. But, today, I was feeling social, and glad that I went. I learned at least 5 new names, which for me, is amazing. I met people I'd never seen, and most of 'em were cooler than the average stress cadet I encounter on a daily basis. Again, I suspect there is a positive correlation between law students' willingness to toss back a few drinks and my enjoyment of their company.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Wednesday morning, I observed arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite the human feces on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse steps, I couldn't believe how much the reality of the Court of Appeals matched my dreams for what it should be.

The courtroom was smaller than I expected, with seating for 50 people, two small tables for the attorneys, and the bench, which was flanked in the back by Grecian-looking female statues carrying a banner on their heads. I stood in the corner, near a floor-to-ceiling marble pillar, as the arguments for the next case began. The judges presiding over the arguments were: Procter Hug, Jr., Senior Circuit Judge, who was quick to smile and engage attorneys in humorous word-play; A. Wallace Tashima, Senior Circuit Judge, who spent much of his time examining documents, but when he did speak, it was apparent that he was listening very carefully to every word that was said despite his lack of eye contact; and Betty Binns Fletcher, Circuit Judge, who had a disarmingly soft-spoken voice that delivered the most critical comments of the three judges. All of the judges were plain-spoken, and appeared to know the law better than any of the attorneys before them.

October 7, 2003

Stuff Learned

As of this moment, the 5th Google hit for the purported future governor is for a weight loss supplement. Seems that the stereotype of shallow Californians may hold a bit of truth, no?

Sometimes (like last night), after finishing a ton of law school reading before bed, I sleep fitfully--tons of weird dreams about vaguely legal sh*t, but mainly just not restful sleep. Is this happening to any other law students? I wish we knew more about dreams. I've heard of the theory that REM is knowledge download and sorting, but it hasn't been proven yet, has it? Too bad, I'd really like to know more about my rabbit teeth dream, and what the hell I was downloading and sorting there...

Finally, the word of the day is:


pro·pin·qui·ty ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pr-pngkw-t)

1. Proximity; nearness.
2. Kinship.
3. Similarity in nature.

[Middle English propinquite, from Old French, from Latin propinquits, from propinquus, near. See per1 in Indo-European Roots.]

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

October 6, 2003


Yup. I still hate LWR. Every minute of it. Today, I boiled at the lecture/reminder that any one absence without a hospital discharge or any missed assignment could equal 10 percent of our grade. What? When the instructor himself has had the TAs teach two of the classes, has rescheduled two classes to his office, and hasn't given us any feedback on a single piece of work. Mind you, it's the 7th week of a 15-week semester. He's batting less than 500 on teaching the lectures in their scheduled locations, and he's got a big fat goose egg of a percentage on actually grading or providing feedback for any of our assigned work product. Oh, and the lectures cover material that should be obvious to anyone who's taken more than 2 semesters of AP or college level English writing. So, yeah. I hate it--I don't deal well with inefficiency and waste, particularly when it's my time being wasted.

Today, I decided to channel my negative LWR energy to a good cause. First, I bought a bottle of Kettle One to add to the secret bar that some of my section mates and I are keeping in an abandoned locker. Second, I tried to meditate and count my breaths while being lectured in LWR. Guess what? I don't have that much Zen.

So, I settled for haiku, pulling words from the lecture and my thoughts:

He went to the bar
before class, were i did too
omit needless words

don't konw what to say
one idea paragraph
Strunk and White for you

blue sky fog approach
first sentence only matters
unhappy work--bad

cheating words added
poem, one good paragraph
one dish at a time

windows receding
architectural puzzle
stuck in my chair here

word coitus preferred
Tarzan verbs for each Jane noun
vary the music

edit the story
great narrative tradition
lawyers tell big ones

Setting it straight

Saturday I read and highlighted 12 cases for my memo. Then I drove to my hometown to have dinner with friends and play with my niece until her bed time.

Sunday, the same friends and I drove to the harvest festival in Amador County. On the way there, we found ourselves waiting at a stop-sign to enter the two-lane highway. There was a parade of several hundred motorcycles, and no break in the traffic. We were all impatient. The first care car in the line missed several opportunities to go and we (the people in my car) were grumbling, "come on, you could have made it." The passengers in the second car actually threw their hands up in disgust when the first car refused to make a break for it in one of the traffic breaks.

After the first and second car finally got on the highway, the car in front of us jumped out when there was a break in the far lane. A 1/2-ton truck in the near lane slammed into the front of the sedan, causing it to spin two times. I held the streering wheel hoping it wouldn't spin a third time and hit us. When it stopped, we jumped out, called 911, and all offered what we could to help. One of my friends is an Athletic Trainer. She called the shots, ordering people to help until the paramedics, jaws of life, and fire department arrived. Even after all the professionals arrived, they handed her gloves and enlisted her help in getting the woman who was pinned out of the truck. The driver of the car that the truck hit was a young boy, probably 18. His passenger was his grandmother. They both appeared to be in excellent condition even though their American-made sedan was missing most of the engine block. The driver of the truck appeared to be fine. The passenger of the truck had a broken hand, a broken leg, a dislocated hip, head trauma from her head breaking the side window, and chest pain. Life changed for all of those people in half of a second. It almost changed for us. The car behind the truck was driven by a race car driver, who avoided the crash. Had he not, we probably would have been hit as well.

Be careful people. Slow down. Keep your priorities straight. I was glad that I had chosen to spend the weekend with family and friends instead of finishing my memo. That's what I'll be doing this morning. I have no problem trading a few LWR points for quality of life in a world where we can die at any moment.

October 3, 2003

Blogging in the real world

Thanks to Howard for the the link to the Glove Girl story. I hang around a lot of hard-core valley tech nerds who see blogging as yet another fad. But, no matter what people may think, blogging is affecting corporate America, and has come into its own. Where it goes from here remains to be seen. Obviously, those of us who commit our thoughts to the ether believe it's here to stay, but only time will tell.

New Blogger

Public Defender Dude chronicles the life of a PD. It's a great perspective to have available. Check it out.

October 2, 2003

Teeth Dreams

I once had a roommate who had teeth dreams at least once a week. I now sort of understand just how disconcerting they may have been.

I had the oddest teeth dreams last night. I flossed my teeth and they became hollow. Then most of 'em fell out. Then, I opened my mouth wide and had a spare second set of teeth curled back into my mouth--long, and curved, like rabit teeth. I filed down the rabbit teeth and they were gorgeous--fully replacing the hollow teeth, which had disappeared.


In other news, Rush Limbaugh may be in trouble. There are many people who would love to see the allegations of drug abuse be true. We'll see.

October 1, 2003

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

With the first day of October comes the realization that there's only two months of classes left until classes are over and finals are here. Weird. 6 weeks in and 9 weeks left, including two graded LWR memos (the first of which is approaching rapidly, fun) and lots of outlining. That was fast. You'd think with 6 weeks down, Ken would have proven to actually be a nice guy (far from the truth), Ms. Cute-Loud would have shown up at least one day without the glam, professor rate would have evolved in her verbal tick, and I'd have more to report. But, I don't.

In fact, if anything Ken, is turning out to be a bigger a**hole than most of us imagined. Initially, I tried to defend his social idiocy when he wasn't around and people were talking sh*t. But then one day I, too, was attacked by him. And he just continued to make offensive comments and talk at people when they attempted to better understand his point. Sorry buddy, no more defense from me.

In other news, the word of the day is Contumacious. It's a pretty good word.

con·tu·ma·cious ( P ) Pronunciation Key (knt-mshs, -ty-)

Obstinately disobedient or rebellious; insubordinate.

contu·macious·ly adv.
contu·macious·ness n.

September 30, 2003

Does this stuff actually work?

I received some great spam this morning. Who actually falls for these things? I like how email to excite is "secure".

David Taylor
11 Taylor close
My name is David Taylor brother to former Liberia president Charles
Taylor I seek your partnership in helping me invest the sum of 8.5million
US dollars on properties in your country This funds are proceeds from
sales of our country natural minerals resources to some companies in
Europe while my brother was still in office.
If you know that I can trust you with this funds and you have property
investment experience reply to this my secure email address -

September 28, 2003

Student Life

I love school. Do you hear me? I'm going against all 1L trends and admitting it. How could I not?

I get to read hilarious cases infused with the language of erudite, pompous, muddled, and straightforward judges. I actually like the reading--you can feel the people behind it. I hear my fellow students complaining about how legal cases are dry, and I want to say, "try reading technical specifications." I'm telling you, cases are great.

I am required to attend 14 hours a week of class. Only I'm not really required. Of course, there's more to do if I'd like to go: discussion groups, student group meetings, group study and research sessions in the library. But really, the life of a law student is full of freedom. The freedom to not do your reading. The freedom to not go to class. The freedom to go out every night and party like a rock star before exercising the freedom of not going to class. I can only assume that students who complain about 1L don't like the side effects of exercising these freedoms. Or maybe they hate having the choice and making the one that seems less fun. I'm not certain.

This week was slow after the Wednesday from hell (first LWR assignment due, 9:30-6:30 at school). So, I haven't brought my school bag in the house since Wednesday. The next time I'll have to do so is Monday evening. To celebrate my freedom, I started 100 years of solitude, pushed the weekly total to 17.5 miles of running, and agreed to participate in a grueling weekend of chores and socializing that have nothing to do with law school. I'm starting to wonder if I could get up to 30 miles a week, which is baseline for a marathon. I never thought I'd want to do a marathon, but given how much time I'm finding in my schedule these days, if I was going to do one, this year would be a good time. *laugh* My guess is that idea will die a timely death sometime next week.

Why am I celebrating law school so loudly? I know it's not the style. I know it's not what 1Ls do. I know I'm supposed to lament how much work I'm doing and how concerned about my grades I am. But, I'm telling you--my quality of life hasn't been this good in years. It makes me so sad to see my fellow students stress themselves out and hate every minute of it. I hate to see them forego the fun and relaxation that is there for the taking, because most of us won't ever get this time back. We're all going back out into the real world--even those of us that avoid BIGLAW. We're still going to be on at least a 40-hour grind. Having just come off of the grind, I can only say, student life rocks--even the reading. Have some FUN people!

Turmerik--Restaurant Review

Friday night, E and I took friends out for a delicious dinner at Turmerik--a restaurant billed as Indian fusion. The food from the dinner menu (as opposed to the snack-type menu) was some of the best Indian food I've had, with the lamb biryani, eggplant curry, and tandoori vegetables receiving good reviews from our group. The paneer spinach "meat"balls in a creamy yellow sauce won the award for the night. We never really found the fusion (although it did seem that one of the naan was made with buckwheat. Perhaps this is fusion? Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Indian food to say) since most of the ingredients and styles were vaguely familiar Indian food stuff. I'd say it's more like gourmet Indian, mainly northern. More expensive than most Indian restaurants, but also worth it. If you want a nice ambiance for sit down Indian, you now have an option. If you have vegetarians to feed, it's an even better option--plenty of stuff for them, with meat to keep the carnivores happy.

The wine list had a huge build up, but I wasn't that impressed. They have lots of expensive wine available, but if you aren't going to drop over $100 on a bottle of wine, the list becomes average. There was no agreement on red v. white. So we went with a half bottle of each.

The only half-bottle of white in our price range was Calera chardonnay. Kind of nice when the list forces you to pick something you'd never try otherwise. Even better when it's good. I've never heard of Calera, but it's just south of the valley (in an area I never really thought of making wine, much less good wine), so in theory, we could go visit. The chardonnay was one of the ways I like 'em: mellow, floral, and minerally--very Burgundy-like, which made sense when I went to the web site.

For red, we went with Alexander Valley Merlot. I haven't tried any of their wines in a while. I was pleasantly surprised--a reasonably-priced, good merlot from a well known vineyard? These things exist in California? God bless the grape glut.