August 31, 2005

We Hope New Orleans Gets Better

That was the very sincere closing line of the United Ticket agent who refunded our tickets to New Orleans. E & I had planned a weekend trip with friends in October. I was very much looking forward to it, as I had never been. E & his childhood friend, from Atlanta, were looking forward to visiting as adults.

It will never, no doubt, be the same. They knew a flood was coming. In fact, last Winter Break, in Atlanta, E & I and the friends specifically decided to go to New Orleans and stay at the Monteleone because we wanted to experience the magic one last time before the Big Easy inevitably succumbed to the forces of nature.

I never thought it would be this soon or this disastrous. I'm certain all of the inhabitants of all of the areas hit by Katrina feel my shock one-hundred fold. I've been keeping up to date by reading Ernie's posts as well as the local news.

I'm overwhelmed. We live in an age where we need not face the reality of death and the forces of nature on a daily basis. When we are reminded of the harsh reality of Mother Earth's strength, it's a bit much to take.

Best wishes to all affected.

August 25, 2005

Was there any question?

What "Happy Bunny" phrase are you?

you suck big time

You are a very honest person. You tell people how it is with no remorse.

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Book 17

The Human Comedy by William Saroyan.

In a ranting email, AH wrote about her shock that someone hadn't read anything by William Saroyan. Sheepishly, I admitted that I hadn't read anything by him either and promptly ordered this book.

AH, as usual, was right. This book was and endearing and heartwarming tale with the feel good simplicity of Horatio Alger tempered with a quiet childlike confusion and awakening to the tough realities of life. It is a quick read of several short vignettes that string themselves together into a great tale of the life, struggles, and death that visits an immigrant family during World War II.

More than anything, I loved the voice. Clear, simple, language. It was convincingly scripted in words that forced me to look at the world of this book with the bright-eyed wonder of the two children around whom the story grows.

This tale was particularly helpful in the current phase of my life. I have much to be thankful for and much more I should take the time to appreciate and enjoy. Instead, I've been moving too quickly and too wrapped up with details of my future life that I want to arrange. Each simple moment of life, in all of its flawed glory, is beautiful, and I thank the Human Comedy for making me laugh, smile, and remember that fact.
What NOT to do

D, a practicing 3rd year attorney forwarded me an email she received yesterday:

Dear D~ A law student at [insert law school], I am
currently in the process of applying for summer associate positions
for 2006.

So far, so good. A little random because of the lack of connection between D and law school, but not too bad.

I am interested in [D's firm] and was wondering if you
could please give me a brief statement as to why you've chosen to work

WHAMMY!!!!! GAME OVER!!! Hey Student: did you just demand a statement from an attorney working at a firm where you'd like to work? Talk about entitlement, this is a whole new level. Did it occur to you that D is an overworked young associate and worried about making her billable hours? Your request for her to do additional work on your behalf is absurd and shows a serious lack of understanding and people skills. If you must solicit information from strangers, the best course is to bribe them, not demand something. How 'bout asking her if you can take her out to lunch or a drink to pick her brain at her convenience?

I chose to email you as I think I also would like to practice

Uhhh... yeah. This isn't very helpful. You probably need a better reason to contact a stranger. There are a billion associates in litigation.

I understand you are probably very busy, but a short
sentence or two describing your experience at [firm] would be much

Actually, that's the problem. You clearly DON'T understand that D is very busy or you wouldn't be asking for her to provide you with information and offering her no incentive to do so.

Thank you for your help.

The presumptive thank you is always funny when the thing requested isn't received, no?



In case this still seems like a good idea to you: let me assure you, IT'S NOT. The reply that D sent was a reasonably firm but polite no, but the forwarded email and accompanying rant that D sent me, was much more telling:

Ok, so this RANDOM chick just emails me out of the blue... asking me
for a "brief stmt" of how i came to be at [firm] and if i like it.

[1] i am NOT going to tell you anything real, so unless you want the
standard "oh yes, it's wonderful. it's all about the people and
everyone's great" response, dont email me. i dont know you. send an
email to an alum or someone you actually have a random connection
with. Or, here's an idea, find someone you KNOW would tell you the
honest truth.

[2] how do i know you are who you say you are and not some random
person trying to get dirt from me? amd then going to post in on a
blog, send it to the entire legal community or something else wierd?

[3] if you want to ask me something, ASK ME. dont ask me a totally
vague and unanswerable question.

The one thing this student accomplished was to make sure that D will remember her name and vote against her getting an interview. Don't be that student.

That is all.

August 24, 2005

Book 16

Daughter of God by Lewis Perdue

In response to a comment from a poster who claimed to be Mr. Perdue himself, I ordered and read Daughter of
God. Unfortunately for Mr. Perdue, I came to the same conclusion regarding plagiarism by Dan Brown from The Daughter of God that I reached for The Da Vinci Legacy. Even more unfortunate for Mr. Perdue, the court agreed with my conclusion as well.

However, regardless of allegations of plagiarism, like the Da Vinci Legacy, I sincerely enjoyed Daughter of God. The background seemed much better researched than Dan Brown's works and the discussion was much more intellectual. In particular I found Mr. Perdue's treatment of the evolution of God-gender and the nature of faith to be on a cerebral level that Dan Brown's works fail to reach.

Additionally, while Daughter of God successfully weaves themes that are intellectually challenging and interesting, this success is not attained at the expense of plot. Rather, the plot is fast moving and interesting with plenty of gun fights, escapes, captures, murders, travel, near-misses and romance. If Purdue lacks the smooth plot flow of Dan Brown, it is only because the plot is broken up with discussions of historical background and philosophical musings that in this reader's opinion add to, rather than detract from, the overall story.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to those looking for a quick good read in the religious-thriller genre. In fact,I would recommend it over Dan Brown's Da Vince Code, if only because I find Dan Brown's complicated fictitious puzzles to be less interesting than Perdue's discussion of the true-to-life puzzles of religious evolution and individual faith.
Book 15

Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide
by Hal Higdon

I may never have the time to train for a marathon again. (I may never want to, either, but that's a different story.) So, I've got plans to put my free time and flexible schedule to good use by training for and completing my first marathon before the end of law school. Although I'm not wedded to it, I have gone so far as to pick an ideal race: flat, in California, well organized but not huge, cool weather, and, of course, before the wedding (may as well take advantage of those training miles).

In anticipation of that race (and the hope that I won't do something stupid to injure myself or find myself unable to finish the race) I added Hal's self-proclaimed ultimate training guide for the 26.2 mile race to the growing list of running books I've read this year.

Who should read this book: if you haven't read anything about running and plan to run a marathon, this is the book for you. Even if you are reasonably well educated on the subject of running, this book will serve to reassure you of what you already know and psych you up for your first marathon.

Who should think twice before reading this book: If you are looking for a large collection of various training schedules, you may be disappointed. There are a few training schedules included in the book, but I didn't find them any more helpful than the ones I've found on-line or in other running books. Instead of providing me with knowledge to plan my training, I found this book helpful because it shifted my perception of how I should train and the goal time I should shoot for with the constant repetition of themes to keep my type-A personality in check (slow and steady finishes the race, be disciplined with your training, be even more disciplined with resting and stretching, focus, and be realistic).

After reading this book, I've strengthened my suspicions: there is probably no substitute for running a marathon yourself and the majority of the stuff you learn while preparing and finishing the race can't be learned from a book. I waited until I had finished this book before outlining my training schedule for the next 6 months. I'm fairly certain that I would have settled on roughly the same schedule had I not read this book. So, the "ultimate training guide" didn't add much to my previous understanding of how I should structure my training. However, it did discuss the benefits and drawbacks of every training approach I'd ever heard of (and some I hadn't) and made me more confident in my own ability to design a solid training schedule for myself.

While reading this book, I confirmed that for the next 6 months I'll be doing hard/easy alterations, step-back weeks, a few shorter races, and no speed training during the last 12 weeks of marathon training. I'll try to keep the posting from being monotonous on the running side of things, but no promises.

August 19, 2005

I think I'm one of them, now

I used to love school. But something about the first day just rubbed me the wrong way.

Maybe I wasn't ready.

Maybe it's that half the school is closed for construction so my already cramped campus is now unacceptably crowded.

Maybe it's the reality that I'm paying twice the tuition that I thought I'd be paying for half the school.

Maybe it's the pointlessness of the third year of law school that so many people complain about.

Maybe it's the stupid freezing, spitting, foggy weather and driving from my wonderfully sunny house into the black cloud.

Maybe it's the not one, but TWO classes where I'm required to buy a supplement of the federal or state code that the class is based upon. I pay taxes. I have a right to access those materials from any printer. I shouldn't have to buy the $42 "student edition" of the probate code. What the hell is a student edition? Perhaps there are comments on the notes? Oh, no. Of COURSE NOT. Near as I can tell, the student edition is an excuse to make me pay money instead of accessing the grown-up lawyer version on LegInfo for free. [I have a feeling I'm going to become public enemy #1 when I ask for the syllabus to be updated with code sections instead of supplement pages. Watch me care.]

Maybe it's the $500 worth of books, even after I refused to buy the codes.

Maybe it's the uncomfortable silence of an entire row of people who couldn't speak up to let the professor know that they had been skipped. And the accompanying uncomfortable silence of the entire class when the professor launched into her "it's important that everyone feels included and participates" speech.

Anyways. Perhaps my Friday of no class, weekend of wedding festivities, and trip to DC will slowly ease me back into the swing of things. I really do want to enjoy my last year. But, if yesterday is any indication, it's going to be a long 275 days.

August 16, 2005

Recap and Pause

My last day of firm #2 came and went. Now it's just the waiting game for offers and the annoying reality that I've got to prep for OCI again because offers won't be out before materials are due.

The America's Finest City half-marathon was a blast. D impressed me. She went from being a non-runner to completing a half-marathon and running over 11 miles of it in 5 months. Also, it was the most organized race I've ever ran. Doing it to help pace D made it particularly enjoyable as it forced me to slow down a little bit (although not as much as D tricked me into thinking... good thing I trained). With my reserve energy, I watched the other runners, thanked the volunteers and crowd support and took the time to observe the impressive scene of so many people doggedly pursuing their goals. It was also nice to have some spare energy at the end of 13.1 miles to know that I could have gone a little farther. I'll be needing that knowledge and confidence when it comes time to up the mileage for marathon training.

In other news, DSL is intermittent at best 'til the Covad guys show up. Also, I'm living the gypsy life, couch surfing and catching up with friends 'til school starts. See you when I'm a 3L.

August 10, 2005

The Stamp of Approval

Our Save the Date cards arrived today. We've collected all but 5 of the addresses. So, all that's left is to address them, throw stamps on 'em, and put 'em in the mail.

In anticipation of this, I went to the On-line USPS postal store. I figured there would be quite a few postcard stamps to choose from, perhaps some particularly appropriate to the wedding theme.

Umm not so much. Try two. That's right. If you want to buy 37 cent stamps, you have close to 50 options, but with postcard stamps, you get to choose between the original George W. and Wilma Rudolph.

Wilma Rudolph? Who is that? Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of the founding fathers just as much as the next person, but I immediately thought it would be better to send postcards with stamps bearing the picture of this woman and the word "athlete." I was intrigued, I mean, who is this random other person who gets to share in the postcard stamp glory?

Well, it turns out, she was a bad-ass to the Nth degree. She was born the 20th of 22 children, with polio. She walked with braces until she was 9 years old. But, she rehabilitated her legs to become an athlete, first in basketball and then in track. She went to the Olympics at 16 and won a bronze medal, returned in 1960 at the age of 20 to become the first American woman to win 3 gold medals (in the 100m, the 200m and the 4 X 100m relay).

When she came home from the Olympics, she insisted that her welcome home parade be a racially integrated event. She is credited with saying that being the cause of the first racially integrated event in her home town of Clarkesville, Tennessee was her finest accomplishment.

Her achievements are amazing and impressive on their own. They are even more so when considered that she was an African American Woman in the South who grew up during segregation. Recently, I was shocked to learn just how long it took the world to accept that women could run marathons. No doubt it would have taken longer without Wilma Rudolph.

So, yeah. The save the date cards? They'll have Wilma Rudolph stamps. 'Nuff said.
Blogger ate the Heart Rate Monitor Post

Short summary:

Tour de Peninsula was fun. Biking isn't as strenuous a workout as running, in terms of average heart rate, even if there are mad hills and you're struggling up them with a mountain bike. If you're doing a loop, all that uphill means there are downhills.

Also, my heart rate monitor rocks. Who knew that you could use it to control the machines in the gym according to your heart rate? Why don't they advertise this? One of the best birthday presents I've gotten in a long time is the ability to simultaneously read for pleasure AND get a workout in at 60/70% of my max heart rate. I used to slow down too much when I read. No problem now, the heart rate gizmo talks to the machine and together they make sure I finish what I signed up for.

Also, thanks to the bike training and ice, my knee is healing nicely, and I should be able to complete this weekend's half marathon. We'll be slow, but that was the original plan anyways.

August 6, 2005

Book #14

On the advice of Paul Graham E bought one of the old original copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Mr. Graham was right, there were some unPC ideas that are no longer in the later editions. In particular, if you buy a more recent edition, you will miss out on the last two sections:

Letters that produce miraculous results (I would have taken this out too, seems like Mr. Carnegie gets quite a bit of the credit for the structure of annoying junk mail and spam!)


Seven Rules for Making Your Home Life Happier This section just cracked me up. Gender roles have changed quite a bit since 1936 and the advice, while built upon solid principles, is caged in outdated perspectives and a society that no longer exists.

One of my favorite quotes? "Every man knows that he can kiss his wife's eyes shut until she will be blind as a bat, and that he has only to give her a warm smack on the lips to make her dumb as an oyster."

My second favorite quote? "And she never knows whether to be mad at or disgusted with him, because he would rather fight with her and pay for it in having to eat bad meals, and have his money wasted, and buy her new frocks and limousines and pearls, than to take the trouble to flatter her a little and treat her the way she is begging to be treated."


Overall, for someone as socially clueless as I often am, this book was a good reminder of common sense: You will always have more success (not just professionally, but in all relationships) if you try to see things from the other person's perspective. I suspect that the world would be a better place if everyone read this book and took its lessons to heart. I could probably stand to re-read it every year or so to remind myself of my faults and how they can offend those I wish to endear. Preachy self-help language typically annoys me, so the fact that I could get through this book and found it reasonably helpful is probably as resounding of a review as any I would ever give a book that can be found on the self-help shelves.
Arm's Length

Friday, we languished through a 2.5 hour lunch (finished with chocolate souflees) to say goodbye to most of my summer class at firm #2. They are done with their work and taking vacation before they head back to their respective schools. Now there's only three of us left, and the summer is officially winding down.

From a distance, I watched my reaction to the exits of my fellow summers and felt a bit callous. They were nice. I probably should have gotten to know them better. But there's a limited amount of time in the day, and inevitably, they just became the latest goodbye in a long string. These days, I barely have time to maintain relationships with my longstanding friends and family. So, I've taken the easy way out, and didn't even really try to get to know the summers at firm #2. As they left, I felt a slight pang of loss at the fact that I have no idea how cool they are. But that loss is inevitable when there's too much to enjoy.

Next friday, I will follow last week's summers and say my goodbyes at the third job I've left in 7 months. I suspect people will feel the way about my leaving the firm as I do about leaving it. It's unfortunate that another acquaintance has to leave, but that's how the game is played. When the law school fat lady sings, I'll have had 4 paying jobs, an unpaid externship, memberships in half a dozen organizations, and 5 semesters of classes. Each of these experiences has required hellos, adjustments, and goodbyes. And with each one, I've been learning how to be less and less attached. I suspect there's an art to being friendly but not emotionally committed and I'm certain I'm not yet artful. But, I'm learning to appreciate the good people-people I meet and have come to respect their skills as some that I'd like to develop as I mature.

For the last 2.5 years, the only constant has been me and the path I'm trying to pick through the fog of my ever-changing goals. The work keeps changing, the subject matter keeps changing, the environment keeps changing, and the people keep changing. It's been a constant now, that at any point in time, if I look just a few short weeks into the future, I can see a whole new group of people and tasks in my daily life. This is excellent when things are difficult -- you can see relief on the horizon. But it's also difficult when things are excellent, because nothing lasts.

I've still got one more week at firm #2, but I find myself looking forward and thinking that it's primarily a formality. I know how it'll play out: I've got about 20-25 hours of work to do and lunch scheduled for every day with various legal peeps who want to ride the summer associate free lunch train just one last time. I'm already half-way checked out in anticipation of the next big thing that is fall semester.

So, for me, yet another symptom of law school (or perhaps just aging, maturing, whatever the hell you want to call it) is a recognition that I shouldn't rush to put my roots down in a transient environment. Because, I've got goals, and I'm likely to move on. And even if I'm in an environment where my goals don't lead to transience, many of my colleagues do have plans to leave for bigger and better things. I'd rather be happy than sad when great people leave to accomplish great things.

Basically, I'm finding it that in the world of the law, the callousness that is often one of the complaints about lawyers' personalities actually makes my life easier. Sure, I'm dedicated to my career and the quality of the work I do, but more importantly, I want to be happy and enjoy the fruits of investing time in good relationships I can depend on. I have a few great relationships and not enough time to develop new ones on the same level. The law firm, law school, and my legal career in general is not the first place I look for quality relationships. Logically, it just doesn't make sense. I wonder if that will eventually bother me. Regardless, I look forward the day I can be yoda-like in my separation from the law firm drama, while simultaneously engaged enough to appear concerned, interested, and friendly.