December 30, 2005

Ever Notice

that when you haven't spent time or spoken with someone in a long time and you don't have time to catch them up properly on all the important stuff that's happened since you last hung out or spoke, that you have to choose between doing an explanation of the passed time no justice at all or opting for small amusing tidbits that may not tell the whole story but at least give a framed glimpse, and at the same time make you smile?

Yeah, me too.

So, in lieu of a failed attempt at catching you up, I recommend that you watch I heart Huckabees. Best movie I've seen in a long time. Seriously. I think I'm going to buy it and watch it whenever I need a comedic kick in the ass.

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Even if the "christ" part isn't your thing, I'm wishing you all a happy and healthy set of winter holidays with your family & friends.

My life couldn't be any more different than it was just two short days ago. Since I took my last exam, I've slept at least 10 hours each night, eaten nothing but good food, drank good wine with every evening meal, and hung out with family talking about fun stories from days gone by and playing poker and pinochle.

Yesterday, I did a bunch of stuff I hadn't done in much too long: I went for a long run in the hills [damn I'm out of shape...], relaxed in the hot-tub, and for the first time since September, I'm reading for pleasure. Needless to say, I'm not going to hit 25 books for the year on my approximately 25 book challenge. I could, but I'd have to count my textbooks, and even if I did read some of them cover to cover, that's just wrong. The whole point of the challenge was to read about one pleasure book for every two weeks of the year. I think I'll be able to bust out at least one or two more in the next few days. Mmmm.... holidays.

December 22, 2005

And I'm Spent

A friend of mine told me that the best advice she'd ever heard about law school was this:

At some point, you will have to deal with something that is ridiculous. It will seem overwhelming. Impossible, even. But it happens to everyone. You will get through it. You will be okay.

Good advice.

This was the most difficult finals period I've spent thus far, both academically, and emotionally.

But it's done.

Happy Holidays.

December 21, 2005

Hold yourself back

I am so hot right now...

The best thing about finals (other than finals pizza, one click of the internet button away from our local family pizzeria) is that you can wear the same extra large sweatpants and zip-up sweatshirt for days on end.

We're not talking about a J-lo track suit fashion attempt. I'm living in Hanes sweatpants where the crotch of the sweatpants is almost to my knees and the waistband is ALL elastic, easily reaching the middle of my rib cage. The zip up sweatshirt? Oh, it's from JC Penny's finest.

Mind you, I shower, work out in separate workout clothes and change the undergarmets & shirt on a regular basis. But to the outer world, who just sees the basic shell of comfort and slovenliness--it stays the same. It's my way of saying to the world, "Yeah. That's right. I haven't changed my clothes in 2 weeks. What are you gonna do about it?"

(Note: I'm not, however, cool enough to actually wear this outfit for the exams. Perhaps next semester...)

December 19, 2005


Another 7 units down.

Wills & Trusts: What? Not really sure. Feel like I was hit by a train.

Legal Ethics: God bless the final paper. Turned in. Done.

Now all I've got are the 3 units of my non-profits exam to do on 12/22. Eyes on the prize. Tonight's off, and then it's 2 days of hard-core studying to be done on Thursday...



December 18, 2005

Finals are fun for everyone

Not only are finals great for me, they provide E with an endless array of entertainment too.

E [standing behind me, looking at my Wills & Trust outline]: What's a benis? [pronounced like penis]

[Note: Benis is how I abbreviate "beneficiaries" in my notes, but now I just can't see the word without laughing]

E: Dude -- it's a nerd party in here. [In ref to H & I furiously flipping through books and typing on our respective laptops.]
BT: Are you having fun making fun of us?
E: Totally. It's just like high school, only backwards.

December 16, 2005

Challenging the Standard Law School Thinking

In the interests of taking a short break from Wills & Trusts (to which I will dutifully return for at least one more hour on this fine Friday evening), I present the following:

Before the beginning, I had silly dreams of going to a local private school whose fees were roughly twice of those of my public school. Since then, the gap between the two has narrowed sharply, but I still had a very nice realization in the shower the other day. (Yeah. That's right. The shower. What? I was trying to make a point...)

Private school did me a huge favor by rejecting me.

I'll be graduating at least $40,000 less in debt thanks to their good judgment. I know the standard law school rule is that you go to the best school that you get into. But, for any of you pre-law kids thinking about where to go, I'd like to offer an observation from where I'm sitting: for me, the standard logic doesn't work.

Let's assume I had been accepted to Private school, graduated, and passed the bar (large assumptions, but work with me here) instead of attending my school: I'd have the same letters after my name, I'd have received roughly the same quality of education (after 2.5 years at my institution and discussions with students at Private school, I sincerely believe this) I'd probably have more or less the same type of job lined up, and I'd probably have a different set of interesting friends in place of the great ones I've made. Assuming the alternative is that I do graduate from Public school and pass the bar (fingers crossed), the Private school alternative is a wash. A different path on the choose-your-own adventure with all sorts of unexpectables, no doubt, but the 10,000 foot view is roughly equivalent. The take home, for me, at least, is that it doesn't matter.

But wait. Had I gone to Private school, I'd be in at least $40,000 more debt. In exchange for that privilege, I'd have a fancier school name on my resume and I wouldn't have had to commute as far. But the people who would prefer to hire me, know me, or whatever, because of the fancy private school name -- I can live without 'em. So for me, personally, it comes down to the commute and the money. And in hindsight, I'm happy to trade the commute for the money, although in the moment, I probably would have gone with the herd.

So, after I had the shower realization (thanks for the rejection, guys!), I did some back of the envelope calculations. And when the numbers started to look ridiculous by estimation, I did the real math. Turns out, this year I saved $13,103 by attending public school over private school. In 1L and 2L, it was significantly more (I believe when I entered, it was a savings of over $20,000 a year).

To attend public school, I commute about 1.5 hours a day over what I'd have to commute to private school, had I been accepted. I spend a bit on gas, but I'd have to pay for an expensive parking pass at Private school. I'd guess that I have about a $5 a day extra outlay in terms of parking and gas over what I'd have to pay for Private school's gas and parking. Come the close of the year, I will have attended approximately 115 days of class and finals and weekend law school events. That's 177.5 hours of commuting and $575 worth of additional expenses. Which means I saved $12,528 by commuting, or about $70.58 an hour. (First year, with the lower tuition, it was probably well over $100/hr.)

Had I been accepted to both schools and elected to go to public school, the $70.58/hr of commuting that I saved would be easily the highest hourly compensation I have ever earned (with the exclusion of very short one-off projects). That alone would have made it a smart decision for me, had I had the option of making it.

More important for challenging the standard law school wisdom, however, is that $70.38/hr is a higher hourly rate than the highest compensation that a 1st year firm lawyer at one of the highest paying firms can expect to earn. If you assume a 40 hour week and no bonus, then even the 1st years at Skadden don't "earn" as much money per hour for their toils as the student who opts to earn/save a bit by commuting 1.5 hours a day to attend Public school over Private school.

With the 40-hour week, 50 weeks a year, and no bonus assumptions, the few theoretical law students who end up at Skadden are making less per hour ($70/hr, to be precise) than I am during my high-earning commute hours.

This model is probably conservative. In reality, I probably "earn" significantly more per hour for commuting than the average Skadden 1st year because a 40-hour week is unreasonably low, and it is unlikely that bonuses work out to anything more than $70/hr. Both of those realities would make the Skadden 1st year "earn" even less than me on my commute. Also, I commute with friends several trips a week, which is an enjoyable experience that has allowed me to develop wonderful relationships and, in general, has been one of the better aspects of my law school experience. I'm certain that the laughing conversations we have on the way to and from school are less demanding and more enjoyable than at least some of the hours as a 1st year at a firm.

In sum, I'm so thankful Private school rejected me. I'm better off. I'm happy to be where I am. I was also, in all likelihood, too foolish to see the reality through my pre law-school glasses. Had Private school accepted me, I probably would have gone. It's great when life is smarter than you are. Just great.

Okay. Back to Trusts. No, seriously. I swear.

I've had exams I felt were graded poorly, worded poorly, or an unfair test of the material we covered. I've felt the sting of the surprise bad grade when I thought I knew the material and did well on an exam. I've even felt the surprise of a better than expected grade due to a friendly curve. But yesterday's corporate and partnership tax was the first time on a law school exam where I've felt the sheer disappointment of just not being prepared.

I knew how difficult the material was. I had done enough over the course of the semester to know what I needed to do to be prepared for the exam. But I didn't do it. And I took the exam unprepared. Each of the essay questions was a problem that I know I could have done in the allotted time had I practiced them, but without the recent practice I was slow.

Much too slow.

I even guessed on several of the last few questions -- not multiple choice guessing, mind you, I'm talking about essay exam guessing. As in making up transactions and asserting that they might be subject to non-recognition without any statutory support and a vague memory of something that may or may not be true about a transaction that may or may have looked like the one I made up.

Four hours later, I left the exam, frustrated and very disappointed. Tax is a very fair class. If you prepare and do the problems correctly on the exam, you will get all of the points. I like the material. The exam covered enough that you didn't have time to figure it out during the exam, but if you knew how to do the problems, you absolutely could have done well.

But I was not well enough prepared.

With an unfair exam, a surprising grade, or a rough curve, the disappointment stems from the fact that the grade is not representative of how well you knew the material. But I'm not really that hung up on my grades -- they don't represent how well I know the material and as long as I feel good about what I learn, both the sting and the happiness from grades usually dissolves in a day or two. I'm here, I'm going to graduate and life's not fair, so it doesn't surprise me that law school grades aren't fair either.

But this time, for the first time since I started law school, I knew that I just didn't know the material. (I'm sure I didn't know the material in other exams as well, but at least I'd put in enough work to *think* that I knew the material.) And, so, this time, I'm very disappointed in myself, as opposed to my grades.

Clearly, instead of wallowing, the best approach would be to focus on getting all of the material from wills & trusts into my head to avoid a repeat. Yeah... I'll get on that.

December 14, 2005

Not the best use of time

After all of my frustration with the lack of normative scores for the MPRE, I passed.

It's a relief.

What's hilarious is that I thought I was eating sh*t on the practice exams. Knowing that California required a 79 and not really knowing what a 79 scaled score meant, I somehow felt that I should shoot for above 79% correct, and then I could be okay (does this make any sense at all? No. Of course not.) So, I studied for several days and really tried to know the material. As a result, I didn't just pass, I tested "ethical" enough to be a lawyer in every state that accepts the MPRE, and I have quite a few points left over too. In hindsight, I should have been using that MPRE cram time to prepare for class (perhaps finals wouldn't be so rough if I had) or just relax.

So, for those of you who were wondering, if you are missing between 13-17 out of 50 on the MPRE practice exams -- stop studying. You will be fine, regardless of your State.

December 12, 2005


Contracts. Wills. Weddings. Funerals.

Ceremonial steps to make sure that all involved are aware of what's really going on. Notification to the world. Historical hoops to jump through because that's what the ages tell us we should do -- and part of how we all recognize what's going on is the simple compliance with tradition for tradition's sake. It's how many injustices are perpetrated throughout the ages, and for much of my life, I was a questioner. I refrained from accepting even the most simple of traditions without asking "why?" Occasionally, I even went so far as to upset those closest to me with my refusal to partake in a ceremony if I couldn't understand the rationale behind the motions.

Given that introduction, it shouldn't be surprising that I think of myself as spiritual, but not particularly religious. However, I had a Lutheran education as part of my upbringing, and all the big events of my family history have been loosely tied to Christianity. I haven't so much rejected religion as found a way to be spiritual in my own way that doesn't require a congregation, sermons, adherence to a particular brand of dogma, and allows for more questioning, philosophy and incorporation of the useful bits from other religions, cultures and my own personal life experience.

In keeping with that approach, this morning, I waited 'til all the family had left and I took some time by myself to walk around the ranch and say my goodbye to my papa on his land. It was where he wanted me to remember him, it was where he was born, where he died, where I will always picture him, and it's beautiful. I cried, sobbing in the open air, gasping for breath with the reality of his passing and how I'll never see him again. But I knew he was in pain at the end, that he had a full life to be celebrated, and that he was ready to go, so finally, I looked around me, looked up, took a deep breath and prepared myself for the funeral. I had completed my personal, spiritual goodbye and could be there to support my family at the traditional, formalistic one.

I was surprised to find, however, that hearing Eccleasiastes 3, Psalm 23, and saying the Lord's prayer in unison with over one hundred fellow mourners was balm to my stormy soul. The words washed over me and helped the primal part of me understand what my conscious mind was in the painful process of accepting -- it was time to say goodbye. This is how we do it. This is the real thing.

And I think, on some level, that is why I switched from one who didn't believe in weddings or marriage, to one who is struggling with the details of implementing one. Long ago, E and I understood our personal commitment to one another, but the act of being joined as man and wife in a wedding ceremony will formalize the reality. There is something amazing, awe-inspiring, soul-quieting, and hyperreal about taking part in a ritual that has been passed down through untold numbers of generations. Today, a part of me embraced the ritual to help me truly accept my Papa's passing. The connection to my history was more comforting than I could have imagined.

I understood the calming effect much more as I watched my niece today, almost four years old, too young to really understand what was going on, but old enough to comprehend some of it. She's been through the ritual once now. It's part of her, and on some level, because we were all crying and tried to explain that she can't see Papa anymore, some part of her knows what these steps mean. Someday, when she needs it most, the memories of today will sweep up from her subconscious and explain to her what is happening at a funeral where she needs to accept an incomprehensible loss and grief. Most importantly, she will remember that it's a part of life, and that we all got through it.

Formalism. What a fascinating human thing.

December 11, 2005

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date

I'm nowhere near where I should be on my studies for this set of finals. Despite how little time I have left, I'm still at the overwhelmed and confused stage in most of my classes. I suspect I may have to take the exam in that state for at least a couple of 'em.

Yesterday, as part of my oh-so-productive studies, I spent about half an hour getting my head around the proposed regulations for penalizing disqualified persons who engage in excessive benefit transactions with their respsective non-profit organizations. Then I opened the supplement and read the ominous words: "replace pages 511-518 with the following pages." Yup, turns out, the proposed regs were enacted, with changes. Time to unlearn and relearn.

I have no one to blame but myself. Awesome.

December 10, 2005

Marathon procrastination

Although my knee is still purple, I was able to do my long run today.

I couldn't find the entrance to the Alviso Slough trail so I parked at the Environmental Education Center and ran around 'til I finished my scheduled 17 miles. My run took me through Alviso town, office parks in San Jose, the Mallard slough, which was closed for hunting season (huh?), and finally, a few miles on the Alviso slough loop. I'll know how to find it next time -- it's beautiful, empty of people, and full of birds.

Somewhere around mile 14, I made it back to my car for refreshments. I wouldn't have believed it 'til I tried it, but it turns out that Vanilla Bean Gu tastes pretty good when you wash it down with lemon-lime gatorade. Who knew? After the GU and gatorade, the last 4 miles were much easier than the last 4 of the 15 miler I did two weeks ago. So, either I'm getting better at distance, or the Gu helps. Either way, it's encouraging.

After driving to and around Alviso for 30 minutes (because I was unable to find the marina entrance), the long slow run, the brief stop in the Environmental Center to get a trail map and say hi, the drive home, and a nice hot shower, it's 2:30 PM, I'm tired and I've yet to crack a book, plus I still need to eat. But, damn, I haven't been this relaxed in days. And that, my friends, is why I do it.

December 9, 2005

Throw another log on the fire

I woke up in the middle of the night with stomach issues. They did not resolve themselves during the rest of the night. Now, I'm scared of our local sushi joint, feel like ass, and had to skip today's run. This is definitely one of the lower points in my life over the last few years.

I realize, however, just how ridiculously lucky I am to consider it a low point when the major negative is simply that I must simultaneously deal with: law school finals (lucky enough to get in, attend a good school, afford the education), be only slightly sick (in truth, I've got my health, my body is just annoyed with me), be in the difficult part of planning a wedding (I'm lucky enough to be marrying my soulmate), and dealing with the timely and peaceful passing of my grandfather (because even good stories come to an end).

No shocking and untimely loss. No famine. No trauma.

Basically, I'm whining a little bit. But, I wanna, so I'm indulging briefly before I go study all day. Apologies.

December 8, 2005

Antonio? Alexander? I thank you both!

Since my sister moved back to our home town, I'm the only one of my siblings and parents who lives more than 5 miles away from the others. I live a 3 hour drive away, so, generally, I feel lucky -- I'm able to see my family fairly often.

But last night, when my father called to tell me that my grandfather passed away, that 3 hour drive was a curse. I've never wanted to be in my hometown so badly and I've never felt so far away from those I need and who need me the most.

The phone partially bridged the distance, but not entirely. My sister called me, her words rushing out quickly between deep choppy breaths. Over the phone, I tried to calm her down. My dad and I spoke several times. He alternated between choked up, fine and possibly in denial, and tired. Each time, I tried to listen hard enough to understand what he might be looking like and feeling. The first time we spoke, my brother talked slowly and quietly in his deep voice and sounded as if he might be crying a bit, something I don't think I've seen since he was 14. I just wanted to give him a hug. I wanted to give them all hugs, but I missed my brother more than I thought possible. He and I weathered many childhood storms together, and I learned last night that his mere presence calms me, reassures me, and reminds me that this too will pass, and we'll get through it.

My main concern was my father: he's had a difficult year and had taken his father's illness very hard. Plus, he lives alone. I asked my brother if he and my sister would go and make sure my father was okay. Many phone calls later (dad: "I'm fine, I just want to sleep." sister: "Dad's being a jerk, I'm still going over to get a hug." brother: "yeah, we're going over there, just briefly though.") it sounded as if my siblings were going to be able to comfort each other and my father. 150 miles away, I relied on E and waited for my sister to call me after they left to tell me how my dad was doing.

I also did some thinking and decided that part of the reason my dad probably was reluctant to see his kids was because he's overwhelmed and knows that they are upset too -- perhaps he didn't want to feel obligated to care for them instead of himself. So, I did one of those over-reaching things that only family can get away with. I looked up one of my dad's best friends' phone numbers, called him, and told him that my dad's father had passed away. I asked him if he'd mind looking in on my father tomorrow. B, the friend, told me that my father had been in bed with the flu (didn't know that either...) and that he'd definitely stop by to make sure everything was okay in the morning. My papa's death was not my message to deliver, but I wanted to be reassured that someone who wasn't directly involved in the sadness would be there to support my father. I knew it was the type of action that could have gotten my father frustrated with me, but I didn't care.

After they left my father, my sister called, sad but calmed. She told me that B called dad while she and my brother were visiting and that dad was touched and wondered how B knew. When I heard that, I felt relieved, because even though I wasn't there, I was able to do something to support my dad last night.

When my brother got home, he and I stayed on the phone for an hour. We talked about everything and nothing, caught up, listened to my niece sing christmas carols and made plans for the holidays. It wasn't quite the same as waiting out the storm with him in person, but it was much better than nothing.

At the end of the night, 150 miles away, I felt pretty okay about the whole thing. I was included and I helped. All of this, of course, would not be possible without the telephone. While I may prefer email for quotidian communications, there is no substitute for the human voice in emotionally charged situations. So, Antonio Meucci, Alexander Graham Bell, and all the others (?), I sincerely thank you.

December 7, 2005

Procrastination II

I am not being particularly productive on my corp and partnership tax studying today. I am officially 1/15 done. Yes, I took the time to calculate that.

But, I've finished tons of wedding stuff: working on the invitations, the wedding website, getting engagement pictures printed, plans for the tasks I must complete with the family when I'm home for the holidays, etc. Every time I get a little bored with school, I can think of just one more detail that must be taken care of.

And though I'm annoyed that I'm not getting as much done as I should, I'm elated that we decided not to get married after the bar.

No matter how disciplined I like think I am, it is clear that I do not have the discipline to execute that kind of plan.

World, welcome Aaron I. Wright to blogland.

He's an amazingly talented Musician who's studying philsophy. His music and musings make for great excuses not to study.

December 5, 2005

Wedding Expectations

Back in the working world, I once had a manager who was very fond of the phrase, "I just need to manage their expectations better." It was his catch-all. He used it to explain every failure, frustration, and problem that he encountered, be it with his superiors, his colleagues, the members of his team, customers, or even, on occasion, when referring to his wife and children.

Repetitive language annoyance aside, he's got a point. Perhaps management really is simply that one thing, in any context (which is not to say that it's easy). I say this because I'm finding that if there's one thing about the wedding that is frustrating, it's dealing with conflicts between everyone's expectations (not the least of which is my own).

When we started planning, I was operating under the assumption that since E and I are throwing the wedding, our definitions of appropriate, fun, etc, would be the controlling ones. I'm not the kind of girl who always dreamed of the perfect wedding, so I figured I would be an easy bride, the whole wedding stress thing would not be a problem, and I figured that since E & I would be the ones with the ultimate say, it would be a piece of cake to make most of the decisions. E and I have different ideas about what this whole wedding thing should/could entail, but after we compromised on no elopement in exchange for a wedding party, E's pretty much on the "whatever you want is fine, honey" plan because he was raised by a mother whose wedding mantra is, "the bride should be the princess for the day." (Talk about a lucky on the family-in-law hand.)

So, I walked into this whole thing assuming it would be easier for me than for most. I've got reasonable expectations (or so I think), and our parents are relatively hands off because we are throwing the wedding ourselves.

But, while no one explicitly disagrees with the idea that it should go according to our plan, many of our friends and family approach the wedding with their own pre-conceived ideas about how it's supposed to work. Sometimes those ideas conflict with ours and we find ourselves in a situation where we have to decide between asserting our opinion and letting it be known that we disagree and would like it to be different than the assumed position, or opting to take the path of least resistance in a desire to not offend people.

For example, I've had a few awkward conversations with people who obviously assume they are invited. We have a budget and guest limit. Unfortunately, several of our close family friends are not able to be on the invitation list and our parents have had to convey their apologies. Also, many of our day-to-day friends are not on the list. Of course, we would love for all of these people to be able to celebrate with us. But it's not feasible. And, while our parents seem to be handling their end just fine, I'm finding myself at a loss for how to manage the expectations of our friends. If I say nothing, I fear they will continue to operate under the assumption that they are invited and will have their feelings hurt when they are not.

These conversations are often over before I even have a chance to sort out how I feel. A recent one went something like this:

When is your wedding? [BT answers]
Where? [BT answers]
Oh, how wonderful. I can't wait to go. It's going to be so much fun. Where are you registered? [BT freezes like a deer in headlights]
Oh, you're probably so overwhelmed with details, don't worry about it. Macy's is nice...

While I'm frozen, I'm usually racing through a million thoughts, including: does friend really think they are going to be invited? And they just asked me where they can get a gift to make their assumption known? Isn't that simultaneously sweet and rude? (that's me bringing one of my childhood expectations into the fray, because the theme is that everyone has their own set of expectations, and the stress is where they collide.) How long have we known friend? How well do we know friend? Did we mess up, should we have invited friend instead of Parent's Cousin Carol in Wyoming? Are we going to have to interact with friend in the future? Is friend going to be very hurt by not being invited?

When I told E about the first conversation I had like this, he said he'd had a couple at work that ended with him saying, "dude, you're not invited." The other guy said, "oh, that's cool man." So the corollary to the weddings are more stressful than you think rule is that it's MUCH less stressful for guys. Guaranteed that none of his engineer friends are trying to do anything thoughtful when he efficiently lets them know that they didn't make the invitation cut.

Another place where the expectations collide is with members of the bridal party. They also have their own ideas about what their commitment should mean in terms of how much say they get in the orchestration of the event, how much it should cost, how much effort they should put forth, when they should have to arrive, whether they should have to transport themselves, and how much of their input is required or necessary. These are our closest friends. To learn that there is such a gap in our baseline assumptions of how this is going to play out is surprising. I'm finding that my closest friends and family make choices that I wouldn't have made as a bridal party member, that I don't understand, and often, my gut instinct response is to feel hurt by their actions. This is where I need to manage my own expectations better.

I'm learning that I assumed people would want to defer to my opinions on style much more than they actually do. I was looking at it from the perspective that it is our wedding and we have to look at our pictures for the rest of our lives, so we should get to decide how they will look. But, the other side of it is that the people in the bridal party need to feel included, they want to be comfortable and feel good about being in front of all of those people too, and it may not be possible for them to do so within my idea of style, or with a consistent style between all of the different expectations.

So basically, when people talk about how stressful a wedding is, I wonder if they really mean that it's stressful to manage everyone's expectations so that the day ends up being as close to as fun, celebratory, solemn, and wonderful as all the different parties would like it to be. Certainly, that's what I'm finding the most difficult. We started with the idea of eloping, or a small destination wedding. But, we had to chuck that plan for the sake of our family. And, it's been one long quest to navigate the maze of everyone's hopes and expectations ever since.

In the course all of this, I'm learning quite a bit about myself, E, our family, and friends. In particular I'm learning that some of my opinions that I assumed were shared are not. I'm also learning that some of my opinions that I thought I had previously voiced surprise even those that are closest to me. In other words, I'm learning that people who I thought knew me well know me less well than I thought, and that I also know those that I thought I knew well less well than I assumed. There's something very stressful about that. How could they not know those things about me? How could I not know those things about them? Do they have a completely different idea of who I am than who I really am, and are they not going to like the bits of me that they don't know? And why am I having feelings like this about the people with whom we have our strongest relationships?

Putting on a huge party for those closest to you to celebrate the union with the person you love is such an expression of identity, love, and life, that's its bound to come with many complications. I just had no idea how many. It's very humbling.

December 3, 2005

Rant Against ExamSoft

My school, like many law schools and many state bars, requires you to install SofTest onto a windows laptop, register it, and bring it to the exam pre-registered, if you want to take your exam on a computer.

First year, this irked me because I primarily used linux as my operating system of choice. But, back then, it wasn't really a problem, because my laptop dual booted, so I installed the software on the not-so-often used windows partition and took my exams with it. Then, one day during my second set of finals, my old laptop died. I couldn't prove it, but suspected that at least part of its death was attributable to the terrible exam software that eviscerates Windows whenever it reboots into "secure mode" and then tries to go back in and tie up the entrails after each secure mode use.

So, when I got my dream laptop, I fearfully installed the exam software. I've taken three sets of exams on it, and the exam software seemed to work okay. Not great. But not disastrous. There's always a fearful minute or 10 while all the laptops in the exam room reboot into "secure mode." We're all hoping that we won't be the one whose laptop fails to play nicely on the day of the exam. There's usually at least one person in every exam.

Really, law school is all about the little things: the nice little added fun of computer russian roullette on exam day, for example.

Recently, I upgraded to the most recent version of the softest. Since doing so, I've bluescreen twice in 24 hours. I do not think this is a coincidence. I've installed no other new drivers recently and the stop code points to:

Typically due to a bad driver, or faulty or incompatible hardware or software. Use the General Troubleshooting of STOP Messages checklist above. Technically, this error condition means that a kernel-mode process or driver tried to access a memory location to which it did not have permission, or at a kernel Interrupt ReQuest Level (IRQL) that was too high. (A kernel-mode process can access only other processes that have an IRQL lower than, or equal to, its own.)

I know that softest does its job by sloppily replacing a bunch of REALLY important windows system files with its own versions. Additionally, it would not surprise me if the act of installing and running Softtest breached the Windows license that most of us have on our laptops. If so, the irony of many state Bars and law schools requiring students and would-be lawyers to commit copyright infringement in order to take an exam is too precious.

Honestly, I'm not too upset about the forced possible copyright infringement. I'm sure I accidentally breach the terms of my Windows license on accident all the time -- that thing is pretty limiting, and possibly not enforceable in all aspects, but that's another discussion entirely (not to mention that who wants to sue microsoft?).

I am upset that in order to take exams on a computer, I have to permit my computer to be injured. But, because I'd hate hand-writing for 4 hours (I'm not even certain I could do it, at this point) I do it. I'm mainly frustrated because I'm certain that the educational and bar administrators who contract with Examsoft have no idea to what they are subjecting their students' and bar-exam-takers' computers. This latest rash of blue-screens has me reconsidering my decision -- perhaps I should just remove the software and hand-write. I'd hate to lose an outline during the study period -- perhaps I'd hate the loss more than handwriting my exams? Who knows.

I'm also offended for people like Transmogriflaw who have to keep a separate "exam computer" just for the privilege of taking exams on a computer (although, if I had a junker, I'd consider it, just to keep softtest away from my computer).

While I understand the concerns about cheating, I have to assume there is an easier way to solve this problem in software at the application level (for example by disabling cut and paste from external sources? keeping a timer of when the app is in the foreground and maximized? Grabbing a copy of the message queue during the entire time the application is running and attaching it to the file when the exam is saved?). Add a good application level solution with warning to people that they will be caught, they are on their honor to report anyone they see in a different application, etc. etc. and you've got a halfway decent, cheaper, and less invidious solution. Also, open-internet exams would be a cinch... enable cut-and-paste and don't attach the log file or check the message queue.

[/rant concluded]

December 2, 2005

Foreshadowing: it's not just for movies

At mile 2 of my run today, the kid in front of me flew over his handlebars and caught himself on the pavement with his hands in a painful-looking pushup. He made an odd "oouuuffff" as he flew. It was quite a spectacle.

4.89 miles later, I made the same noise and found myself on the sidewalk in roughly the same odd pushup-like position. Bruised knee. Skinned palms. I limped away.

I couldn't see myself, but I'm pretty sure that I put on the better show.

I mean, come on, I'm a lady, pushing thirty, jogging slowly through a residential neighborhood in an oversized sweatshirt and baggy pants. Imagine if I tripped and bailed on the sidewalk in front of your house, flying forward while shooting, "ooufff" before I stood up and limped away.

I would have laughed at me...

December 1, 2005

Foot-in-mouth disease

BT: Ooohhh... I have a ton of lexis points. Maybe I'll get the coach purse. I mean I wouldn't normally buy one, that's just appalling (yes, I did actually use this word), but I'll take one for free.

H: Like this one? [holds up her purse]

BT: Errr....

I could try to spend multiple paragraphs explaining how I'm just generally opposed to paying a premium for the privilege of advertising for a brand, etc. etc. But, it'll probably just come out wrong like it did earlier today.

Gotta love it when you're in finals study mode and none of your words, whether on the computer screen or out of your mouth, are successfully communicating what you mean.


Also, I'm about 2 days behind on my study schedule thanks to underestimating my final paper for ethics (1 unit's worth of credit, jeez...) and the stupid journal article.

Love finals. Just love 'em.

November 30, 2005

Dyeable Shoe Store--DON'T DO IT

If you are looking to buy dyeable shoes for any reason (I know, I know... tacky, but what's a girl on a budget to do?), do NOT use

They do not have any stock, but they sure have lots of pictures, and you'll place an order thinking the sizes and pictures mean something about the stock that they carry. The site will charge your credit card for the transaction as you place it. The next day, the owner/operator will call you to inform you of all the problems she encountered trying to place your order with the wholesalers, and how you need to go with different shoes/shipping/etc.

But, I didn't order different shoes or a different shipping period. Presumably for a reason? Like, mmmm.... I don't know, perhaps, I didn't want to by any of the other shoes you carry, that's why I selected these ones? Or, perhaps I need them by a certain time and that's why I paid for expedited shipping?

Also, note that if you can't come to an agreement on all of the replacement shoes before the end of the business day, they'll ship what portion of the order they can fill on its own. When you call the next day, they'll happily place a separate order for the "replacements" you selected and charge you separately for the second shipment
as well.


That is all.
It's ba-aackkk...

I was up 'til 3:30 AM last night. I FINALLY finished the Journal Article that ate San Francisco. After 3 (count-em) failed email attachment attempts, I managed to rid myself of the thing.

Amped, it took me a while to fall asleep.

I had no reason to get up early today.

But, I woke at 9:15, ready to start the day with the all-too-familiar subtle panic: it's finals prep time (of course, I was dreaming about the wedding, so that could be contributing to my feeling of overwhelm, but regardless).

This is ridiculous. Doesn't my body know I'm a 3L?

November 28, 2005

It's about time

Skynyrd and Miles under one roof. Finally.

November 27, 2005

An Easy Decision

If 3L plus a wedding is any indication of how busy I'll be as a lawyer, I may not need to decide whether to quit blogging, go the honest route and disclose the blog to the firm, or not disclose and accept the risks of continuing my existence as a thinly-veiled anonymous blogger.

I have no time to post. Duh, I have no time to do anything. Hence, when I finally sit down to blog, I find that I can't remember the amusing tidbits that are the blood and guts of good blog-worthy material. Also, I'm just not that amusing. I crack myself up, but others... not so much. So, I need spare time to take note of funny things, remember to write about them, and edit. Lately, I'm short on the spare time, or perhaps my priorities have been reordered, so I've been writing about the mundane things in my life, which are, of course, interesting to me, but not so much so to others. I fear I've become one of them. You know them: the "here's-what-I-ate-for-breakfast" or better yet "here's what I did today, in bulleted list" crew.

So, in an effort to embrace my mediocrity before it whimpers into non-existence, and in a desire not to disappoint, I'd like to add that Thanksgiving was great:

  • Deep Fried Turkey: E'd been talking this up for the last 5 years. Apparently, the Californian version isn't quite as good. I'll agree that the meat was some of the most moist I've ever had, although I was disappointed that it wasn't quite like KFC, which is how I pictured it. All-in-all, it was not the life-altering experience I'd hoped for. Also, there were no mashed potatoes. I think I'm still a little angry about this and may be taking it out on the southern turkey. But, say what you will about the substitution of sweet potatoes for mashed potatoes (can't it be both?), I've never been able to sit outside in 40 degree weather and watch father-aged men slowly lower a brined and (hopefully) dried turkey into oil boiling at 300 degrees. It's a risky endeavor. Every year, someone burns down their house. The meat tastes so much sweeter because of the fear. Of course, this is done with wine in hand at 1 PM EST. So, basically, Thanksgiving in the south rocks.

  • Tuesday-to-Saturday: If you must fly cross-country for turkey day, and can fly on the T-S schedule instead of the W-Su schedule, I highly recommend it. I can't go so far as to say it was a pleasure, but it was much better than any holiday travel in recent memory.

  • 15 miles: Today's run of 15 miles was faster than last weeks 14-miler, but more difficult. This was after sticking to my running schedule by running in Atlanta and the North Georgian hills, which should have prepped me quite well. Right about now, I'm exhausted. 3 hours is a long time to be out for a training run. The water, carnitas enchiladas, two baskets of chips, and margarita afterwards, however, were some of the best food I've ever eaten.

  • Surreal Saturday: E pointed out that he woke at 6:30 AM PST (which is unheard of on its own--he's a programmer) to go shoot clay in a clearcut beneath power lines in the North Georgian mountains. Then, we ate lunch at the general store (I'm not making this up), drove into town, hopped on the plane, flew across the country, drove home, and headed to the local Californian Irish pub to celebrate the 40th birthday of someone we didn't even know (Gotta love the Irish, if you're friends with one of 'em, you're invited to all of their fun). Not the average cultural experience of anyone, really. At this point, you have to say, "only in America" and then give thanks. It's the weekend of the day for it, yo.

  • Southern Bacon: Tonight's dinner of 12 bean soup is in its final stages on the stove. The house smells like liquid smoke (and not a little bit). E warned me not to add any salt to the soup (I pointed out that the celebrated bacon may be delicious, but that perhaps because it comes from tobacco country, it's not for the most sensitive palate...). If nothing else, the bacon will add a unique and strong flavor to the soup... we'll have to see. Thankfully, we've got a whole 'nother half pound to use in the upcoming weeks. Seeing as how finals studying starts on Tuesday, you know there will be culinary procrastination like no other. Stay tuned for tales of the salty and smokey. God bless the South.

I am thankful. This is a great country and I am blessed to have such great family, friends and E. That is all.

November 20, 2005

A Brief Respite

I emerged victorious from my week of self-scheduled hell. My final trial for trial ad went reasonably well. I made objections by instinct, which was interesting -- when did I develop that instinct? I also forgot to enter the gun into evidence, but thank goodness for redirect...

After my week of late nights and trial prep, I basically finished what I wanted to finish more or less (a few journal things to sort out, but nothing huge), and am on schedule to jump into the next set of madness.

But, before I jump in, I actually managed to earn myself about 3 days between the end of trial ad and the flight to thanksgiving with E's family when I can relax and enjoy life and just do the ordinary reading and going to class that makes being a student flexible and easy.

This weekend, I put some of that precious-as-gold free time to good use by going to Big Game and watching Spitfire Levy step up and make his dad cry and all of us cheer. Good Job. Love the underdog. Love it. Think I need to rent Rudy.

Today, I ran the scheduled 14 miles on my marathon training program. I'd skipped Friday's run for trial prep, so I should have been in great shape for it. But, it was the longest run I've done. Ever. It's also much, much, longer than any distance I've ever ran by myself. I ran slowly, thought about whatever came to mind, drank water at every fountain I passed, and walked to warm up and cool down for a total of almost 15 miles in 3 hours. I can't believe how long a marathon is going to (a) feel on my legs, and (b) take in real time. I guess that's why you start building up the mileage several months ahead of get used to the mental focus and the physical output. I'm slightly overwhelmed at what I've signed myself up for.

Finally, I leave you with a terribly funny joke from H (with whom E and I had French food for dinner):

How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?



I couldn't stop laughing. Perhaps I'm slap-happy?

November 13, 2005

Big Week

I just got back from a 7 hour Wills & Trusts review. Now, I just need to fit my running, reading, finishing the journal article from hell, commuting, going to class, eating, and preparing for my final trial in ad trial on Saturday in the next 136 hours.

In order to do so, I'm going MIA for all non-required law school activities 'til Saturday afternoon. Wish me luck.

November 10, 2005

I'm all about da bling

My blog is worth $6,209.94.
How much is your blog worth?

Link thanks to E spat, whose blog is easily 10 times more entertaining than mine.

November 9, 2005


In the end, I chose to go with the firm that didn't pitch its shower or running culture. But, I was concerned about maintaining my running and had already started researching ways to pay for access to a shower so that I could run on my lunch (or, let's be honest, my dinner) break.

Yesterday, at lunch with some of my future colleagues from the firm, I asked about the gyms that people belonged to for the purpose of finding the nearest shower to the office. I was ecstatic to learn that the firm I chose has a shower in the basement. If only I had known, I could have broken the dead even tie and saved myself a couple of weeks of career decision anguish as well as gotten more schoolwork done (which I am now realizing is the main thing that's going to bite me in the ass from the first couple months of job stuff). Oh well. All's well that ends well. In hindsight, the career decision wasn't remotely as big of a deal as I had myself worked up to believe. I've made much bigger decisions in the past, most definitely will do so in the future, and no one really knows where or what they will be doing tomorrow, much less in a year.

Here's to not going completely bat-shit fucking loco. [raises glass]

November 7, 2005

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

(aka lazy, pull stuff from the fridge and pantry soup)

Generally, I have a good sense of how good/bad a throw-it-together meal will be before it's complete. But this concoction was shockingly delicious and filling. Even E approved: "This is amazingly good for something that has no meat or cheese."

Sautee a diced half of white onion, 3 chopped cloves of garlic, and 5 chopped dried red spicy peppers (the super-hot decorative ones) in olive oil 'til the onion is clear. Toss in some fresh rosemary, a few sage leaves, and briefly cover with the oil/onion/garlic mixture. Add 6 cups of chicken broth (3 cans), 1/4 bottle of old white wine from the fridge, and one can of stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

Lower to a simmer. Toss in one can butter beans, a chopped bunch of broccoli & half a bag of cavaturi. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve immediately.

November 6, 2005

One step at a time

Two weeks ago, I was in great shape for the Nike Half Marathon. Unfortunately, I started a pace group too slow and the race was too crowded to catch up to where I wanted to be. So, I called it training run for today's half marathon.

Unfortunately, life called a few times over the past few weeks, and made sure that I was not in the best physical shape for today. I was short on miles and sleep, and long on work, stress, bad food, and various other debaucherous activities that take their toll on the old body. Knowing how poorly prepared I was, part of me considered giving up on the run altogether. I could use the time to do some much needed studying or finishing up the journal responsibilities I promised to do before I can officially resign.

But, I'd committed to doing this race, I wanted to run across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, and I'd already paid for the privilege. So, yesterday, bright and early I made the final decision: I drove to and from San Francisco to pick up my race packet. If I was willing to do that, driving up to run the race was a sure thing.

So, in the spirit of making sacrifices for my goals, last night, I left E and friends at 9 PM after pounding water galore and "carb-loading" on a beer, hamburger, calamari, french fries, some of M's nachos and a salad. The server at the pub loved me and my constant, "could I please have another glass of water when you get a moment?"

Today, at 5:40 AM, I woke, stumbled into my running gear and drove to San Francisco on auto-pilot while drinking a gatorade. I arrived about 15 minutes before the race started, parked the car, put on my chip, bib, and garmin, and jogged to the start. In a bit of foreshadowing, I had the good fortune to be one of the very last people to get to use the porta-johns before the start -- it was already looking like I may just be lucky.

My plan was to shoot for my original goal of clearing the 2 hour mark, which meant that I needed to average about 9m10s miles. I figured I'd be consistently slower than that for the first 5 or 6 miles, I'd do the math, realize how fast I'd need to run to make up the lost time, and set a new, more reasonable goal on the course.

Mile 1 went as suspected: I finished warming up, and completed a 9:32 mile. 22 seconds to make up. Mile 2, however, surprised me at 9:05. "Huh," I thought, "only 17 seconds behind..." I didn't consciously speed up, but the chance of actually meeting my goal must have encouraged me, because I ran 8:51 for mile 3. And, there I was, 2 seconds ahead. All I had to do was maintain 9:10 minute miles for the next 10.1 miles and I'd have done it.

Thanks to the spitting fog, I wasn't that hot. Thanks to the short mileage weeks, my legs were fresh. And thanks to some decent downhills and the excitement at the prospect of running over the bridge for the first time, I didn't even realize that I sped up again to finish mile 4 at 8:35.

From wednesday's workout, I knew that pace was barely sustainable for 4 miles, so I had to slow up if I wanted to finish. My legs were happy for the slower pace, and it turned out, so was I: as I was slowly jogging along, R, a friend I used to work with and hadn't seen in over 1.5 years passed me. We stayed together and caught up for a nice 9:26 mile 5 and 9:41 mile 6.

R wanted to walk, so we parted ways, and refreshed, I ran mile 7 at 8:52. I met another runner, J, at this point, because he also was shooting for sub-2-hours, and he liked the pace I was keeping. We ran together for what my watch claims was a 6:50 mile 8 (I'm suspicious and will verify against the chip results when they are out), and an 8:57 mile 9 (more like what I expected).

Somewhere around mile 10, I really started to focus and J disappeared. The running faster thing really takes a toll on your legs. While they were fresh, they were also unused to long distances, and had never gone this far, this fast. I found that it took quite a bit of concentration to keep the pace I'd set as my goal. My body truly did want to slow down. But, I was so close to actually meeting my goal, that despite my failure to maintain my training, I somehow found the force of will to push my legs. I sustained myself with alternating thoughts 1) encouraging: almost there now, and 2) good-old-fashioned-reality-sucks: the marathon will be so much more difficult than this, so I'd better suck it up and get used to pushing myself if I plan to finish.

It worked. Mile 10, 8:58. Still on track. Somewhere in mile 11, people around me started grunting out loud. Thankfully, I've done that before when I've been pushing myself through intervals, so it didn't scare me. But it did make me realize how gross I must sound.

Occasionally, someone with a ton of juice would blaze past me. Slowly, I was passing some of the grunters, and a few of those who'd been keeping pace. We were all looking straight ahead, focused, and breathing hard. My watch beeped and I realized that I'd finish mile 11 in 8:42. I was surprised. Given how hard I had to work for the 8:58 on Mile 10, I figured I'd just keep getting slower for the rest of the race. But hey, no complaints here.

And then, I only had 2.1 miles left. I looked at my watch and realized I had 22 minutes to finish if I was going to meet my goal. I thought of the Nike race and how I had so much energy left at the end that I finished the last two miles in 15m13s. I knew that was not happening with these 2 miles. This was the hardest I'd ever run 11 miles and my legs were burning. I thought, "this must be what they mean when they say don't race too often because it takes too much of a toll on your body..."

I decided to shoot for finishing in 21 minutes. "10-minute miles," I told myself. "Just two ten-minute miles and you can stop." Like most things, deciding you can do it is more difficult than doing it. So, I actually ran mile 12 at 9:01 and mile 13 at 8:51. I even had enough to sprint the last bit at a 7:19 pace.

They announced my name, I crossed the finish line, and I wanted to cry, partially because my legs hurt, but also because I was so impressed with my mind over matter. Next time, I'll be in better shape, I swore to myself. Happily, I limped away with my medal and the memory of the 1:57 on the timer as I crossed the finish line.

Now, I'm home and need to hit the books. But before I did, I wanted to write about this because I've been so overwhelmed lately that I'd forgotten how amazing it feels to accomplish something that I'd set my mind to do. I need to remember that I should be honest with myself about my limits so that I don't crash before the finish, but when in doubt, I should keep going at the goal pace. It was absolutely worth it.

November 5, 2005

Admitting Defeat

Years ago, I'd have done it all and ended up in the hospital. (In fact, I did that once...) But I'm older now.

So, today, regretfully, I turned in my resignation from journal. My latest assignment had become a monster (as articles sometimes do) and I had not a spare moment to deal with this unplanned diversion from my time-block tetris.

After forcing my schedule into the shape where I could commit to finishing the journal work while squeezing in preparation for my final trial in trial ad, finishing my school work, the MPRE, running, wedding planning and finals, I had to admit that while I could balance it all, it wasn't pretty. And honestly, I didn't want to be in this same situation in the future. In order to be sure I wasn't going to be in the same situation in December, or worse yet, February (the month before the wedding), something had to give. Instead of sleep, I chose the journal.

Add the relief from knowing where I'll work next fall, choosing a cake designer, knowing the wedding colors, ordering the rings, and registering for gifts, and I'm almost relaxed all of a sudden. Perhaps I'll have a zen-like run tomorrow.

November 4, 2005

The Painful Irony

I'm not amused that the organization in charge of the MPRE refuses to release the raw scores that it uses to scale the exams.

I've asked google and all the legal people I know to estimate how to translate percentage correct on practice exams into scaled scores. Turns out, no one seems to know.

Instead, I get:

"Don't worry. Everyone passes the MPRE."

Or, better yet:

"80 is passing in California."

Oh, that's comforting. Too bad a scaled score of 80 means approximately the same to me as "two monkeys." Scaled to what, exactly? We don't know anything about it other than that 100 is the mean they shoot for when scaling scores. The only relevant information I have found is that it looks like only 15 percent of the people who took the exam in 2004 actually scored low enough to fail in California. So, pragmatically, I guess I can go to sleep and rely upon the hope that when I'm prepared and lucky, I don't usually find myself in the bottom 15 percent.

But, the bigger question is this: How can the ABA allow an organization to assign numbers that determine whether or not you are "ethical" enough to be a lawyer while not requiring that the organization disclose exactly what those numbers mean? Why do we give the National Conference of Bar Examiners the power to make this judgment without disclosing the methods by which it determines its scaled scores, or at the very least, which raw scores correspond to the scaled scores for past tests.

I can think of several reasons why an organization with a monopoly on testing would want to keep their scoring methodology a secret. But most of those reasons lead to the conclusion that the NCBE is hiding something, and not one of them is justifiable. Any help? Or are you all with me?

November 2, 2005

Back Home

Most people, they think that if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, you should bathe her in tomato juice.

They're wrong.

Massengill Douche works much better.

Good to know.

And yes, Penelope, my step-brother's dog, is doing much better.

October 30, 2005


When exactly did the Brothers Grimm get hooked up with that pimp?

I'm just curious, because I couldn't help but notice that Saturday's night on the town was over populated by little-slut-riding-hoods, snow-fuck-me-whites, cinder-fuck-me-ellas, and there's-no-underwear-butt-home dorothy(s).

Pardon the French, but really? Ladies? Is this necessary?

It's confusing, to say the least...

October 28, 2005

Word of the day

Corporate tax: It's exciting stuff, yo.
(The dark secret, of course, being that I really enjoy it.)

Pronunciation Key (-rîrj)

1. The state of being behind in the fulfillment of obligations or of being overdue in payment.
2. A payment owed.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 Houghton Mifflin Company.
Two Funny Things

Somehow, I managed to be in 16 units instead of 14 this semester without knowing it. You may wonder how I could do this. I do too. I think it had something to do with a plan back in May to drop one of my two unit classes after school started and I decided which one I liked better. Of course, I can't be sure because I didn't remember the plan...In fact, I probably wouldn't have noticed at all had I not done the sanity "Am I'm really going to graduate? Let's add up the units to be sure." check when I registered for next semester's classes. Oh well. No wonder I feel overwhelmed.

Also, Intel has put out a new set of ads that rougly belong in the category "entertainment in your lap." Apparently, you can see them as moving pictures on this gizmo called the television, so perhaps some of you are familiar. It was new to me, though. And I thought it failed pretty spectacularly. See them here.

October 23, 2005

And I'm Spent

In the last 7 days, I've accomplished quite a bit. I think the stress-induced inexplicable wedding/lawschool/running/law-job nightmares should calm down a bit. E, no doubt, will be happy with my increased amount of sleep. In particular, I've crossed the following items off my list:

  • Accepted a job offer. While I'm honored to have committed to a job for next fall, the process was exhausting. I spoke with and or met with everyone I know who currently works in the legal field to get their input and opinion on how my options could affect my career. I struggled with the reality that I had to limit my career to one of several paths, and in doing so, close the door to things that I wanted to do. Finally, I went with my gut feeling that I just wasn't ready to say that I'd never set foot in a courtroom ever again. So, I'm done. I supposedly know who I'll be working for and what I'll be doing a year from now. As if humans ever successfully plan that far in advance... (Incidentally, I lost the bet with E, and now owe him dinner at french laundry because he claimed to know my decision as of June 10th, 2005. I, of course, disagreed, challenged him to the bet, and the envelope we sealed with his prediction was correct, so I'm the chump with the check.)

  • Ordered bridesmaids' dresses. My attendants will be wearing a lovely halter top floor-length number. I ordered about one of every possible size that could be used and plan to take liberal use of AT's very friendly return policy.

  • Ran the Nike Half Marathon. It was very different from every race I've ever ran. The announcers kept slipping and using the word "product" in place of "race." That should explain the difference better than any long-winded discourse I could give. Unfortunately, I started with a pace group slower than I planned and was shocked to realize that the course was so crowded that I couldn't move up after I warmed up. Props to the lady who elbowed her way up the hill before fort mason by taking out Team-in-training runners who opted to walk -- the pictures of their inspirations pinned to their jerseys (survivors and deceased) were an excellent contrast to her idiocy. Given the crowds and the funky vibe, I opted to chill out and call it a training run for the US Half. Oddly enough, it's such a fast course that I finished in 2:11, and had a blast running the last two miles at a 7:39 and a 7:34 respectively. I didn't know I could run two miles in succession that fast, and most certainly not at the end of a long run. So that was exciting. Also, B gets props for finishing her first full marathon, as does ALV for finishing the half after waking at dawn.

  • Registered for my first marathon. I've been contemplating running this race for a while. But I kept putting off registration in case I had a change of heart, an injury, or a bout of sanity. Today, the site said it was almost sold out, so I'm committed. Wish me luck.

  • Caught up in my reading. Okay, technically, I'm already behind again, because I'm blogging right now instead of reading for tomorrow, but as of Thursday, I had done all of my reading for my classes before they occurred. It was a good feeling, if brief.

  • Almost finished my editor duties for the article I'm assigned. Yeah, journal is a ridiculous amount of work, but I'm more than halfway done with my major responsibility for the semester.

  • Other miscellaneous: viewed and approved the rehearsal dinner location, ordered groomsmen tuxes, had a doctor's appointment, was fingerprinted for the bar character application, scheduled/signed up for review courses for the MPRE, scheduled my final trial in trial ad, etc.

  • Found that I could successfully relax for hours at a time on the weekend and even slept in for the first time in weeks. Ahhh....

October 16, 2005

The Giant Artichoke

Yesterday, E, G & I drove down highway 1 to go to a wedding in Carmel. We passed a giant sign advertising "Deep Fried Artichokes." Lunch plans for the next day's drive back were clear.

So, today, we stopped at the roadside shack, only to find that they had frozen deep fried artichoke hearts. Not to be disappointed in our quest, we turned around, and pointed the car to Castroville, home of the artichoke festival, and the self-proclaimed "Artichoke Center of the World."

We figured we could order deep fried artichoke hearts at the restaurant next to the world's largest artichoke. We were correct. They were everything you'd expect them to be:


E put it best when he said, "They are good. But, it's not the life-altering experience I was hoping for."

In hindsight, 2 full orders ($7.95, roughly 15 hearts per order) with nothing except water was a bit much for 3 people. Now, I'm slowly moving, if at all, in a fried-food-induced tired state. Too bad I didn't get any studying done yesterday (run 12 miles, drive to Carmel, wedding) because the beer-batter in my belly makes today couch potato day. I have no choice. This stuff is powerful--we should tell the military.

Don't worry. I'll catch up on my school work one of these days...

October 13, 2005

Limping Along

My immune system has come under a stealth attack.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to the gym, and ran my intervals fairly quickly (did the last four at a 7:30 pace) for a total of about 5 miles. Thirty minutes later, in Spanish class, E asked me, "Are you getting sick?" I answered, "No, I feel fine."

Famous last words.

For the remaining two hours, my snorting, sniffling, and general grossness grew until I left the classroom as a collection of snot and pain. Still, I tried to pretend I was fine.

We went to Mexican food, practiced our Spanish with the waiters and busboys, and I slurped spicy seafood soup to open up my sinuses and distract my throat. The spicy liquid remedy didn't work either. By 11 PM, the words on my textbook were swimming. I gave in for a 15 minute nap and asked E to wake me so that I could finish my reading for the next day. When E woke me, it was clear--I was a goner. My throat and tongue were swollen, it hurt to swallow, me ears were achey and my nose was so stuffed that I had to breath through my mouth. Awesome.

In other news, I believe I've found one of the most ironic Supreme Court sentences ever:

For Example, in Wooley v. Maynard, (cite omitted) we held that a person could not be compelled to display the slogan "Live Free or Die."**

Really? What a country!

**Riley v. National Fed. of the Blind, 487 U.S. 781 (1988).

October 10, 2005

Oregon: It's another country

This weekend, E and I took a mini-vacation to meet up with friends from Manhattan in Portland, Oregon.

I've traveled to many foreign countries. I'm familiar with culture shock. But, I didn't expect to experience it merely one state north from my roots. I suffered from the idea that since I was raised in Northern California, Oregon just couldn't be that different. I was wrong.

At first, we were baffled by the amazing beer and relative lack of public celebration thereof. Then, we were confused by the sub-Italian pace of life. Finally, we all sheepishly agreed that the Willamette Valley made some good Pinot, but with nowhere near the consistency that the acclaim it has received would indicate. While enjoying the Meditrina release party at Sokol Blosser, we were given an explanation. No doubt, the man with the fake leaf wreath hat had no idea that he was explaining our entire Oregon experience. But explain it, he did:

This valley? Well, it's famous for 6 products. All of them agricultural.

#1? That's ornamental nursery plants. (makes sense, I thought, reminiscing on the multiple fields of pretty flowers we'd passed on our drive.)

#2? Well, that's hazelnuts, of course. This valley makes 95% of the hazelnuts consumed in the United States. (Huh. Roasting on an open fire, indeed.)

#3? Christmas trees. (Yup. We'd seen many fields of those in various stages of growth.)

#4? Unofficially. Marijuana. (An unofficial lightbulb went off in each of our heads. The explanation for the culture shock is that the whole state is totally roasting on an open fire, as it were.)

#5? Wine. (Number 5? This explains our underwhelm. When the wine is outranked by the unknown previous 4, well, California wine will spoil you. Seriously, though, we tasted some excellent Willamette Valley Products, and the scenery was gorgeous. But, overall, the hype was a bit too much, when the entire region is taken as a whole. In particular, we recommend avoiding Archery Summit if you're not into driving long distances to be treated like crap for the privilege of paying $10 to taste a $120 Oregon Pinot Noir that is the poster child of inexplicable trendy wine rag fame.)

#6? Huckleberries. (They are crazy about 'em up there. Who knew?)

The short story is this: if you are looking for a great, cheap destination with fabulous regional food options and the opportunity to feel as if you didn't leave anything undone after 3 days of walking and driving around to experience the northern bounty, we *HIGH*ly recommend Portland. (Caveat #1: If you are single and are looking for a night scene, this may not be the best option for you. Caveat #2: Despite what seems to be a slower pace of life, you will not have enough time to do all of your work for the weekend if you are a 3L taking a full load. You will return relaxed, fat, refreshed, full of beer that is better than the wine, and even further behind than when you left on your schoolwork.)

October 3, 2005

Enjoying the Benefits

Today, my school hosted a Supreme Court review. I attended and was treated to a free hour and a half that easily beat out the majority of the class hours that my tuition has purchased thus far.

First, there was free food. Second, there was free wine. Third, there was free diet coke. Did I mention it was free? Oh, and the technical reason why I went?

There were three of the bay area's foremost legal scholars giving squib versions of their takes of last year's most important Supreme Court decisions. Apparently, the broadband case is the only important case from last season related to IP. (In all fairness, despite the furor in the tech world, grokster is a no-brainer: if you're going to rely on substantial non-infringing use, you can't advertise copyright infringement as your main sales ploy. Shocking.)

Outside of IP, if you're me, other than Booker and FanFan and Gonzales, you are woefully underinformed of the Supreme Court cases from last session and completely uninformed of the cases to be heard this session (other than Anna Nicole's case, of course).

So I went to the event and attentively listened. It was entertaining, informative, and I was conscious of just how lucky I was to be so well educated. Two years ago, I might have thought I knew what I was hearing, but I wouldn't have understood the historical meaning of the ordinary English words they used, the legal jargon, the importance of the issues, or the depth of the knowledge that these three legal scholars poured upon us. But today, I was thankful and in awe, plus well enough informed to understand that I was still missing some things. I guess the transformation is almost complete.

And yes, while the scholars offered informed and interesting commentary on Roberts and Meirs, I tend to agree with Buffalo Wings and Vodka on the likely line-up of the Court.

October 2, 2005

A great weekend

Friday night was gourmet dinner with friends at a local greek restaurant. The waitress didn't like us so much, but we didn't like her either, so that was fair.

Saturday, in the theme of public transit and my life, BART made its best efforts to ruin my weekend (final score: bart $16; BT & E: 2 stations, 3 unvalued cards, and barely exiting one bart parking garage with our life). Finally, E and I admitted defeat and drove to the game.

But, the BART debacle must have bought me some karma because the game was a shutout. Sure, the QB made some errors and we looked a little sloppy, but it was fun to meet up with friends and enjoy the win. Given how long I've been a loyal fan of a losing team, I'll enjoy any win I can get, especially if it's followed by Mexican food and margaritas with college friends that I haven't seen in months. Priceless.

In one of the indicators that I'm no longer in college, I opted to leave after the restaurant closed to head home for an early Saturday night and lots of water before bed. Sometimes, it amazes me how my priorities have changed in the last decade. But, they have, and this morning, I experienced one of the reasons why. I willingly woke at 7 AM for a leisurely trip to pick up a friend, get coffee and drive to San Francisco. I was rewarded with one of those fabulous autumn summer days (yeah, you read that right) that almost make living in San Francisco seem like a reasonable option for someone who hates the fog. It was clear, blue, and [gasp] warm from 8 AM on.

CKD, J and I all showed up at the ferry building around 8:30 AM to take part in the Bridge to Bridge run.

In a simultaneously lazy and responsible act, I'd taken Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off of my feet and belatedly replaced the scheduled miles with 2 yoga workouts. It worked wonders. I felt energized, my knee wasn't the least bit sore, and despite starting in the very back and having to weave through the crowds, I managed to finish the 12K at a 9:01 pace. Plus, the route was roughly the same as the first half of the Nike race, so I now have a decent idea of what I'm in for next month: 6 miles of flat and gorgeous. (Before the hill at mile 7, but we won't talk about that right now.)

After the race and the inevitable waiting for transport, parking exits, etc., the boys joined us and we replaced all the burnt calories in a single guiltless brunch. After much laughter, food, and a mojito, I took a shower and a nap. In the interests of the story, I'll stop there and pretend it was the perfect weekend. (Read: I'm definitely not taking a break from necessary schoolwork right now. Perfect weekend. Perfect.)

September 30, 2005

Word of the day


1. To give a sketchy outline of.
2. To prefigure indistinctly; foreshadow.
3. To disclose partially or guardedly.
4. To overshadow; shadow or obscure.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000 Houghton Mifflin Company.

September 29, 2005

I see

My job decision has come down to a list of pros and cons, on paper. No wait, make that a weighted list of pros and cons. One of the fringe benefits at one of the firms is a shower and group of runners. This means I could run at lunch or other time during the day, return to work sweaty, shower, and resume working with a fresh perspective. It also means I'm more likely to be able to keep up my running.

I was weighting this as a nice perk, but pretty far down the totem pole, all things considered.

The other day, I mentioned something about maybe not being able to run when things got hairy at work as an attorney. The following conversation ensued:

E: Oh Great. [laugh]
BT: What?
E: I think that running is the only thing that keeps you from going completely bat-shit.
BT: [laugh] What do you mean?
E: Exactly what I said. I think that running keeps you from going completely bat-shit.

Perhaps the shower/running culture needs a slightly higher weighting...

September 27, 2005


The people I spoke to several times a day in junior high and high school became the people I spoke to daily, or every other day in college. New people in college became the close friends that I spoke to daily as well. After graduation, many of the daily conversation friends (both those from before college as well as those acquired at school) became the people I now email or talk to once every few months. I still feel close to them, I just don't know every single detail of their life, nor them, mine.

But, unlike most people, despite people moving away and vast differences in life experiences, until recently I still managed to maintain a teenagerism in my relationship with some of my earliest girlfriends. This was only possible through a heavy reliance on the telephone.

Lately, in a change that must be shocking to everyone who knows me, I find that I'm tired of the phone. If I must communicate via long-distance, I prefer email. And over that, I prefer to sit and relax in person.

Keeping up to date on the details of people's lives is very time consuming. I have trouble finding time to keep E completely up to date on my life and staying on top of what is going on in his. To go through the same for multiple friends, many of whom are several hundred miles away has become impossible. In fact, I've actually gotten it wrong a few times recently, by trying to fill in the gaps with what I think makes sense. Turns out, I've grown far enough apart in space, time, and life experiences that I don't know what is going on day-to-day with my closest friends from childhood and my best guess estimate is filled with all sorts of ill-informed conjecture and personal assumptions.

I think it's normal to reach a point where you respect and love your closest friends from childhood but acknowledge that you are not part of the group who knows them best anymore. If you don't live in the same town and see each other on a regular basis, you have to make time for phone calls almost every day, or you just won't have the information you need to understand what is going on in their life, and in particular, how they feel about things.

It's sad to lose the teenager umbilical cord connection to your closest childhood friends. But, it's probably inevitable. And, for me, it's probably been a long time coming. In the last month or so, I've been so busy that I've had to choose between regular phone calls or my running schedule, regular phone calls or wedding planning, regular phone calls or studying, etc. Add that the phone currently represents my confusion over career choices and the stress of wedding orchestration and it should be no surprise that I keep choosing other things over the phone.

So, yeah. I'm finding it bittersweet and liberating to finally be getting over my phone addiction. We'll see if it sticks...I do, after all, have almost two decades of the habit to kick.

September 23, 2005


Busy, busy, busy.

Do I go with option (A) or option (B)? That's the theme in my life these days. It plays out in every facet: career, wedding planning, social life, food, even deciding to answer the phone when a good friend calls while I'm trying to catch up on my studying.

I'm happy to report that I've been cooking more, I'm spending more time with E, and my running is on track. Unfortunately, the trade off is that I'm behind on wedding planning (did you know that DJ's are typically booked up more than 6 months in advance? Yeah, me neither.), haven't spoken to close friends and family as much as I need to, and am also behind in the reading for all of my classes.

I'm pleasantly overwhelmed with my todo list. I realize this juxtaposition of terms (pleasantly overwhelmed?) makes no sense to most people. But to me, it's doable. I'll figure it out in the next couple of months. I'll sort it out. The chaos is required for the calm that I want. I've just got to push on through. Today was a 5 mile run and 8 solid hours of studying with H. I'm not any further ahead than I thought I was last night. I only managed to clear things from my plate that I hadn't realized were there. Rad. Tomorrow, maybe I can make some visible progress. This should be a weekend of much studying, running, and not so much fun (we've only got a housewarming and wedding... which, in my crazy social schedule, is an *easy* weekend).

The best thing that's happened in the chaos so far is that a *ridiculously* gifted musician friend has volunteered to play divertimento piano at our wedding during the cocktail reception. I can't even explain how excited I am. This musician is of the caliber that does *NOT* play the wedding circuit. And, it's a close friend. I'm so honored and excited. Now if only I can manage to find a way to schedule the wedding pictures during the cocktail reception so I can hear some of the music...

Such is my 3L. I am NOT bored to death yet.

September 19, 2005

Book 18

You may think it's cheating, but I'm taking every possible point I can get. It's coming down to the wire, and I'm concerned that I may have trouble nearing a respectable end to my approximately 25 book challenge.

So, book 18 is Nigella Lawson's How to be a domestic goddess. I read all of the non-recipe text and skimmed each of the recipes. I think that counts. I now feel like I have a much better understanding of baking.

This better understanding is partially because the first recipe I tried from the book was the almond cake. It was amazing. But more importantly, it was a fun expansion of my food knowledge when I realized that marzipan is not cheese. I am amused to say that I actually left Safeway with a bit of a gourmet chip on my shoulder when the deli clerks hadn't heard of marzipan cheese. From there, I headed to my local gourmet grocer, who, of course, laughed at my idiocy and directed me to the baking aisle. Right...

So, clearly, I needed to learn a thing or two about baking. This book has been very informative and I look forward to making many of the recipes it teaches.
Not Alone

Today, I got up an hour early and tried to finish my reading. Didn't happen.

Instead of finishing my reading, I spent the weekend with E2 in San Luis Obispo, visiting my grandparents. E2 and I had a fabulous time hanging out with the old folks, relaxing, eating, shopping for $4 bathing suits (yeah, that's right, one-piece, zebra print, strapless -- it's on!), sitting in the hot tub, and running in the valley.

I was the first person called upon in my last class of the day. I passed. I felt kind of guilty. Key word "felt." Half an hour later at least five people passed in succession with the excuse, "I'm sorry, I didn't read." Ahhh. Company. Thanks guys!

September 15, 2005


I'm 1/3 done with 1st semester. Only 10 weeks to go 'til first semester classes are over (less than 1/5 of a year).

I'm also about 1/3 done with the year prior to graduation. Only 248 days to go.

The wedding is about 1/3 paid for. I suspect it's also about 1/3 planned.

If I can pull off another 3 day week for second semester (which I will do my best to do), then I have about 1/3 of a year's days left in the classroom and/or finals until I graduate.

And, statistically speaking, I'm probably about 1/3 done with my life.

There's so much to do in the world. And so little time. Sometimes I get frenzied with scooping up life and trying to experience as much of it as possible before my time is gone. And yet, when I catch myself, I try to slow down, because there's the difficult, but imortant reality that *doing nothing* is sometimes the best way to cherish the time you have. This weekend, God-willing, I'll go visit my Papa, who's still hanging in there. Whenever I speak with him on the phone, I'll inevitably say something like, "have a good day," or "have a good weekend." He always responds, "They're all good days, honey. They're all good days." He's right, of course. The trick is remembering it.

September 12, 2005

Assumption of Responsibility

Is it just me, or does it take a particular kind of person to flush the toilet and leave the stall without checking to see if their feces, toilet paper, and/or urine has actually left the bowl? I mean, there's a feeling of entitlement, and then, there's the honest belief that your waste will be cleaned up by some unidentified shit-fairy assigned specifically to you.

What is it about law school that attracts people of this type in such high numbers? Or what is it about my particular schedule of classes? I mean, I'm all for flushing on behalf of these people, because, hey, that's how I make the world a better place. I flush for them and for me. But really? Is this necessary? Wouldn't the world be an even better place if we all just took care of our own?

In all seriousness, though. I find that the people I like the most are the ones whose first questions are, "How can I take care of the problems I create?" "What did I do wrong?" "How can I do better next time?" "How can I improve?" "What am I missing right now?" But I have trouble relating to people who complain about how others are keeping them down, or how they don't have options, or how they are just "stuck" and are forced to wait it out 'til things magically "get better."

I feel like they may be the ones too preoccupied to flush their own toilets.

[laugh] well, if this isn't a rant by me blaming others, I don't know what is...

September 10, 2005

On Being a Statistical Outlier

Before she went off-line Sua Sponte posted about her heart rate jumping into the 170's during her workout, and how this was evidence that she was posing as a Californian, never truly one of us.

This prompted me, a fifth-generation Californian, to finally post about yet another wonderful thing I've learned from my heart rate monitor (great birthday present E! Thanks!). Sua, you too can belong here in the sunny land of awesome produce. Your skyrocketing heart rate doesn't even have the right to exclude you.


The standard logic about heart rate training zones is all derived from statistical means for groupings by age, sex, resting heart rate, weight, BMI, etc. The experts fight about the importance of many things, but, most of them agree on one thing: what really counts is that you train at the proper percentage of YOUR max heart rate. So, if your heart rate jumps to 170 during workouts that you perceive to be of medium intensity and you are otherwise healthy, then your max heart rate is probably just an outlier on the high side.

The best measure of your max heart rate is to actually max it out. That is, take a stress test in a lab, or buy a heart rate monitor and wear it whenever you exercise (eventually, you'll notice where you typically max out and some day, you'll do something stupid like go too far uphill in the heat or something and see a number that is probably right around your max).

After exercising with my HRM for the last couple of months, it looks like my max is around 200-205. What this means is that I regularly hit the low 170's (85% of my max) during most workouts, but it's nothing to be alarmed about. Before I got the HRM, I ignored the predicted heart rate max calculations (which all take averages for my age, sex, etc. into account) because I couldn't get a good workout if I followed them. Depending on which formula I use, my heart should max out somewhere between 176-196. Given that I hit 199 on my last 10.5 miler and easily lived to talk about it, this is clearly not the case.

Basically, if you are an oddball like me, you need to do all of your own personal calculations based on my measured (not predicted) HRmax.

But, say you don't want to go the HRM route, and don't want to get a professional max stress test, so you aren't going to have a "measured HRMax" regardless of how sloppy the measurement is. What then? Well, according to those in the know, the next best thing is to take one of the Sub Max Tests. I haven't taken either of them (perhaps I will in a follow up post), but I believe that if I were to walk a mile as fast as I could, my heart rate would level out somewhere around the mid 120's. This would put me at a calculated max of 185. So, anecdotally guessing (could this be any less scientific?), the mile walk test could provide a low prediction if you're a high-heart-rate outlier.

****Training Zones:
The general rules about targeting zones haven't changed in the last 30 years (50% warmup, 60% easy/fat burning, 70% aerobic fitness, 80% anaerobic fitness, 90% VO2max). But the old [(220-age) * Zone Percentage] formula isn't preferred anymore. Today, the Karvonen formula is the favorite. It multiplies the zone percentages against your Heart Rate Reserve (HRMax - HRResting) and then adds the percentage of your HRReserve to your resting heart rate to give you the target for the zone. So, if you have a high resting heart rate, you'll have higher Zone calculations under the modern formula, whereas in days past, your resting heart rate was not given a moment's thought.

For those of you still reading, you can try the Karvonen formula here.

Finally, if you'd like to read some reassuring writing about variance in max heart rates from someone who didn't just read a pile of running books and take a few exercise physiology courses in college, I recommend this article.