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.