October 29, 2003

Apologies in Advance

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

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

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

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

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

October 28, 2003

Easy Pleasing

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

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

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


October 27, 2003

Thinking about the future

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

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

#2 surprised me. But it makes sense.

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

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

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

Celebrate Good Times

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

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

October 24, 2003

Good Old Fashioned Civil Disobedience

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

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

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

October 23, 2003

Breathing Easier

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

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


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

October 22, 2003

Sharing and Caring

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

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

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

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

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

October 20, 2003

Dose of Humility

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Read Good Books During Law School

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

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

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

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

October 18, 2003

Ditzy Genius, Will You Marry Me?

This was so necessary.
Next Semester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rad...I can't wait.

October 17, 2003


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

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

October 15, 2003

Technology, can't live with it...

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

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

P.S. Chilled avocado soup is the bomb.

October 14, 2003

Soup Season

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

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

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

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

Tonight: avocado soup.

October 11, 2003

Slow Down Jimmy

Photo courtesy of ernie.

October 10, 2003

What a Week!

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

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

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

October 7, 2003

Stuff Learned

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

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

Finally, the word of the day is:


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

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

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

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

October 6, 2003


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

windows receding
architectural puzzle
stuck in my chair here

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

edit the story
great narrative tradition
lawyers tell big ones

Setting it straight

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

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

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

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

October 3, 2003

Blogging in the real world

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

New Blogger

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

October 2, 2003

Teeth Dreams

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

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


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

October 1, 2003

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

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

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

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

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

Obstinately disobedient or rebellious; insubordinate.

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