Saturday, March 31, 2007

Not Flying Under The Radar

So, a couple weeks ago, my school had its CALI Awards. For those of you not familiar, a CALI award is given to the highest grade in each class (See this website for a list of schools that participate in the CALI program (91 total), it even has all the winners, (good luck finding me, but hopefully you can find you). For those not in the CALI program, it is referred to as getting “The Book” in a class. See this for more info).

I cleaned up at the CALI’s, but really did not want to go. I am not really one for public acknowledgment of achievements. A grade on a transcript, a pat on the back from my boss, and money are all I really need for validation. Sure, absence of some recognition hurts, we all have some ego that needs to be fed, but I have no need to stuff myself on ambient praise.

But I went because I did not want the Prof. making the announcements to make some snide comment about me. Turned out, he did not read the awards, so it was all moot anyway. But I still rebelled in my own little way. The invitation says “Formal Attire Requested” leaving a nice loophole, such as using "may" in a contract.

No, I did not show up in my usual slovenly appearance. I showered before hand. I wore a nice shirt (though it is frayed in a few places) and wore a pair of khakis that are frayed, look like shit and are too long and big for me, so they keep falling down. However, I did wear nice shoes (not my regular shoes that are falling apart) and black socks. Had I not just shaved my head recently for unrelated reasons, who knows what my hair would have looked like, but that was not a concern. Quite a few of the guys getting CALIs showed up in a suit and tie, looking immaculate.

A part of me feels bad for not treating this like a big deal. For most people, getting a CALI is a big deal, and it should be. It is not easy. Sadly, my 153 LSAT and inability to write a decent personal statement left me at this school, and while I do (or more accurately, did) bust my ass, to me, this is all inconsequential. I have more demons to fight than a CALI can shield. But for others, it truly is a great accomplishment. A part of me feels like I cheapen this for others when I show up like I do not care and leave with a wheelbarrow of CALIs.

Maybe I should turn this around, all those who CALIed classes with me in them should feel even better about their achievement. Maybe? Can that happen? I got kind of pissed that I did not CALI a couple of classes, but I suppose it happens (for instance, one class I had last semester, I finished the exam with over an hour left. I considered revising and adding to my answers, but did not feel like it because the Prof. wrote some shitty exam questions. If he cannot put forth a good faith effort to test me, why should I bother to put forth a better than good faith effort to answer? I still got an A-, but I hate being talked down to. I am much more pleased with the exam that was impossible that I ended up with an A- on).

So you probably think I am an asshole right about now (and you would be right, but at least I know it right?) but let me close out this post with a nice anecdote. Back a couple years before I went to law school, I was working a night job. It was a seasonal position, and I was in charge of operations (jointly with another guy), but for all intents and purposes I was a temp. I would be let go at the end of the summer, just like all the guys I supervised. But this job involved very intense operations in the two weeks leading up to July 4th (we worked hard to make your picnics more comfortable). These two weeks involved long hours by everyone, grunts and supervisors combined (by this I mean that everyone in the company got involved in the normal operations, not just the seasonal workers). But my crew would work 11-14 hours days, depending on how things went. Each grunt would head out in a truck, do their assignments, and come back, and invariably, if they got back before 4 am I would send them out to do more work (imagine coming in after working 10 hours only to have your super demand you do more work, the night after you worked 14 hours).

So anyway, July 3rd was usually a pretty short night. So that night, I decided to do something nice for my guys. The bosses did not give a shit about how hard they worked, or the shit they put up with from me (most of them liked me, but I would just keep pushing them). So I told my co-super, after the crew had gone out for the night, that I was going to order a bunch of pizzas for the guys. He asked me why, and I said because it would be nice. Make them feel appreciated. A small gesture can boost morale (god knows the bosses did nothing to boost morale, they were too busy bitchin’ about what they had to do). Since the 3rd was a slow night, I did not have to worry about any bosses being around, checking in, or harassing us in anyway, so I ordered a bunch of pizzas and paid the man when he arrived (it was about $60. Considering I made over 2.5 grand (gross) in those two weeks (much more than a member of the crew would get because I was there from start to finish (and I made more than them)) it was nothing).

Sure the pizza was cold when they came back, but what did they care. Though, they would invariably ask where it came from. My response, “It just showed up around 11.” I have no clue if any of them believed it, but they were all too tired to inquire further. If they thought it came from the higher-ups that is great. Better for the company. I had no stake in this, it just felt good to do something for these guys.

Of course, if I really did not want recognition for this, then why am I telling you?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Opening Day

. . . Is Monday, but I could not wait. A little video clip to get you fired up for Monday.

(by the way, everyone knows that the season starts when the Reds pitcher throws out the first ball. This Sunday Night bullshit is just that.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Overheard in Law Review

As my group is working on our technical galley (checking the cites in the footnotes) in the law review office, another publication editor walks into the room:

Other Editor: "[Tim] ([my publication editor]), I have a question for your group. [Cue some boring ass-shit about how to site an id. in reference to a bunch of statutes, and a couple responses.] O.K. thanks, that helps. How is your article going?"

Tim: "Eh, you know, it pretty much sucks."

Group: Laughs and nods in agreement.

Other Editor: "How many footnotes do you have?"

Tim: "Oh, about 350."

Other Editor: "Yeah that sucks, we have 305. It fucking sucks."

Group: Nods in agreement.

Me: [after a couple beats] "Oh, so tell me what you really think of my comment."

[Awkward silence]

[Still silent. I should mention, that no one gets my sense of humor. I deliver everything in a nice monotone, and have an extremely dry sense of humor, so people who do not know me (which is virtually everyone) do not know when I am making a joke (actually no one ever knows when I make a funny).]

Other Editor (who is in charge of editing my comment): "Oh, well, [backpedaling] I mean its good, its just . . . umm . . .

Me: "I was just kidding."

I should not have let him off so easy. It would be nice if one could get a straight answer sometime. I am tired of this "It Depends" bullshit. (for instance, if I was not in the room, my comment would royally suck, but when I am there, it is alright).

How Depressing

I just looked at the front page for ESPNU, and these are the headlines:

And it does not even mention the UNC mascot dying.

Seriously, WTF?

A Moment of Reflection Part 2

Part 1

Part 2 was going to be expansive (and eloquent) dissection of the law school experience. "The Path of the Law" to quote Holmes, and the pitfalls of thinking that getting a JD is the answer to the proverbial question of "What should I do with my life?" These are important questions, and I decided to take some time to fully formulate my point view. If I was billing for the amount of time I thought about this since last Wednesday, I would have no need to take out a private loan next year. There is a lot of time to just think when you spend 11 hours driving in two days. So I was getting ready to espouse brilliance and caution into the blogosphere when . . .

Those bastages over at Barely Legal decide to update their blog for the first time in months over the weekend. Long story short, the lightning that my post was set to ignite, will not have its thunder heard for weeks, or months, or ever. So if you check out that site (as I am sure you all religiously do), you will pretty much get the point of what I was going write here.

However, there are some pretty important distinctions, which I will address now (there is no point in reprinting my entire e-mail to my sis, so I will hit the high points).

The e-mail from my sis stated that she was thinking about attending law school part-time. My response began with this query, To start with, why do you want to go law school?

This is the threshold question. Failure to provide an appropriate response to this, and the inquiry ends. In lawyer terms, for a court to hear a case, there must be a controversy. However, you will never hear a court explicitly state that a controversy exists, unless the decision is based on those grounds, and it is not that it is overlooked, it just becomes implicit. In determining why to go to law school, a prospective student will formulate a reason why, without digging deeper. The why becomes implicit and shoved into the background, to be forgotten until you become a 2L, with a chance to think, "Where are we going?" (or for you latin aficionados, Quo Vadimus).

The same arguments can be advocated for Undergrad. I have no reason for going to college other than it seemed like the next logical step. There is no why, it is just the next step. Law School should never be the next step without a clearly defined goal, whether it is being the next Vincent Bugliosi, Henry Hyde, or Frank Easterbrook (while understanding the road each path takes), or a just the desire to work for Legal Aid. Whatever the goal is, before going to law school, it should be clearly defined.

My sister told me that she had a desire to do something with IP finance, so I wrote to her that there had to be a better way to prepare herself for a career in IP issues without going to law school. Hell, a nice week long seminar could probably sum up the most important issues in IP law, or at least how it relates to what she wants to do.

Other than the poor reason for attending law school, I railed against attending law school part-time. What I did not mention in my e-mail, is possibly the best reason: The fact that when attending full-time you can go out drinking on a Wednesday night, then stay up until 5:30 a.m. arguing all sorts of semantics, and sleep through your nine o'clock class because you still have a couple absences to give. How would want to give this up? What I focused on in my writing to my sis was the burden she would have.

First, it is about five years to graduate i think. That is a lot of shot weekends. Second, with one or two, three hour classes a week, there is going to be a lot of reading. The general rule is for each hour in class, it is three outside of class. At least the first year. So if you take six credits (two classes, I am not sure exactly how many you would take), that is 18 hours (at least), for a total of 24, plus work. 64 hours in toto a week is not too bad.

I harken back to my first year, when I studied my ass off. Reading cases two or three times, and briefing them. That first year is a tough one. I could not imagine the first year lasting two years. The rigors of the first year provide a substantial benefit. You come to understand the process, how to read a case, whether or not you like it, you are learning to think like a lawyer. It becomes easier, but that first year is tough.

I could not imagine working full-time, going to law school part-time, and dealing with all this bullshit for the first time. You got to want it pretty bad. Which brings us full circle, back to the why.

Barely Legal penned a series of bad reasons to attend law school (I am too lazy to find the links, but it is around April '06 (I think), and I generally agree with them. Money, prestige, thinking one man can make a difference, are all too pretentious for but a few of us. Pragmatic reasons grounded in thoughtful decision-making are much more pertinent. Those reasons, are personal to everyone, and I will not bother to make a list.

I suppose now would be the time for me to list my reasons for attending law school, but I do not feel like it. They are still valid, and I still think I made the right decision (though feel free to ask if that holds true a year from now), and I am comfortable with that.

So, as for my moment of reflection, I am not ready to aim that mirror on myself just yet, but I will happily point it in your direction.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Moment of Reflection Part 1

So, my iPod just crapped out on me. My computer decided that it did not want to transfer songs to it anymore. I blame my computer, because it is a piece of shit, and not my iPod, which fucking rules. So, I had to restore my iPod, which means erasing everything and loading everything back onto it. However, after I erased, iTunes popped up a question that gave me pause.

It asked me to name my iPod.

My iPod already had a name, and now, I had the privilege of deciding whether or not to rename it. I could have stuck with the old name, its original name (though I never refer to it by this name, it has always been "My iPod," which may be a bit derogatory, but since my iPod cannot think, it is not protected by the 14th amendment), or picked a new, more relevant name. For instance, if you have a baby and name it "Stan," that may be perfectly appropriate at the time, but after a month or two, you may think that a better name would be "spit-up monster that just won't shut-up." I suppose it is a good thing that we get only one chance to name our kids.

But since my iPod was never birthed out of something I had intimate contact with, I feel that a name change is possible. Because the first time I plugged my iPod into my computer, I had to name it, so I came up with the thing that was on my mind at the time.

"Donkey Porn"

O.K., that was not it. I have never willingly looked at donkey porn before in my life. No, I bought my iPod back in the summer of aught four, when I was full of promise, my whole life ahead of me, and my head full of chemicals. At some point that summer, I had made the decision to go to law school, come hell or high water (had I known either would be better . . .). So at that time my life was focused on the future. Certainly, it was not on the present. I was working a blue collar job, a night job, where I had some authority, but no real responsibility. Plus a kick ass salary (hey $14+ an hour to surf the web was pretty good pay, as I "supervised" a bunch of guys). Sadly, that was not good enough for me, and I had my heart set on law school. Though it was about three months before I could start applying, I was focused on getting in.

So after the July 4th week, when I had worked 160 hours in two weeks, I decided to splurge, thanks to all of the overtime I had worked. And that resulted in the iPod I currently own, hell, when you are working $400 does not seem like that much money.

So back to the point, I named my iPod "Law School Bitch." I forgot the comma, it was supposed to be "Law School, Bitch" as in, I am going to go to law school in spite of you iPod. See, despite my 153 on the LSAT, I fully intended to make law school my bitch, and thankfully, my lack of any meaningful life experience combined with my inability to sell a damn thing (i.e. my personal statement) resulted in me only being accepted to a handful of schools, none of which has ever produced a Supreme Court justice (and maybe a handful of federal appellate judges) (what I am getting at is that I had a choice between crap #1, crap #2 and crap #3). This however, did enable me to make law school my bitch. I was looking over my transcript tonight, and I was like damn, what the hell am I doing here (the main reason I did not transfer was because I wanted two years on law review, screw what the firms want, that is something that I wanted).

So enough with the self-congratulatory bullshit (what is this, the Oscars?), the point is, I had to decide whether or not to rename my iPod. When I got the damn thing, law school was the goal, but now, I have no clue what my goal is. I could fail every class I still have to take and end up with a C GPA (remember, law school is front-loaded in the first year, and you get no credit when you fail a class, I think, I should check on that). So I know I can do well here, that is no longer a goal. I will be published in my school's law review journal, so that is no longer a goal. The three things I wanted to accomplish when I went to law school have been done (granted getting a good job is not something that really was a goal, I figured 1+2+3=6 figures, but I am not close to that).

Back when I named my iPod, I saw my future. Now, I am not sure what I see. So I regret going to law school? I do not think so, there was not much going on for me when I made the decision to go to law school. But all of that was put into perspective when my older sister e-mailed me saying, " hey brother, I need your advice on law school. do you think I could go part-time and do a good job?"

My response coming, some point in the future

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Defining "Sucks"

As I type this it is nearly 5 a.m. My comment was due yesterday, but the editors allowed us to have an additional couple of days to make sure they are "perfect." So really, it is due Wednesday morning. But mine was finished on time. It was done. All I had to do was ensure that my cites were correct, that I was properly, and that all my sources did, in fact, exist.

Should have been easy right? Well it was.

Enter the government. Or the damn government as I will call it. Damn it decides to issue a short report (which I discovered around 11 p.m.) that pretty much endorses all of my arguments. Now, because this is available, I am going to have to cite it, and all of sudden, I am not [specific industry] genius, but rather an unoriginal copycat.

So now I have to revise (or really add to make mention of and quote the report) a bunch of my footnotes to include this report, as well as note it in numerous places throughout my paper.

I would not care so much if I was just handing in my final draft for law review credit. Unfortunately, my comment was chosen for publication (and the deadline is so that the comment can get an independent galley review), so I pretty much have to care about what information is included, because, god forbid, some person may read it one day.

Update: It is now around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. My comment is finished. I have been up since 12:30 Monday afternoon. Yep, you know what that means, Time to start Drinking!!!

Update #2: It is now 1 a.m. I surpassed my goal of being up for 36 straight hours. I think that is pretty good. I am not a marine, I am just a man. Well, something less than a man; I am trying to be a lawyer after all.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Things That Could Have Been Brought To My Attention YESTERDAY

So after a hard day of doing pretty much nothing, I went to bed at 10 a.m. and got up around 3 p.m., which happened to be quite frustrating, I decided I needed a cool refreshing beverage. You know, to help me sleep. Contrary to what my life would indicate, I really do not like going to bed long after the sun has risen. So I went to the local Kwik-E-Mart around midnight (the one across from the law school since I unfortunately had to spend some time there tonight) and picked up some cool refreshing Rolling Rock. I then went to check out because, when you get down to it, stealing is just wrong, and waited for five minutes while the cashier was trying to find the birthdate on the ID of the guy in front me. I figured this would be just great, my out of state ID would make it impossible for the rocket scientist behind the counter to find my birthdate.

I got the front of the line, and calmly handed my ID to the clerk. He looked at it for two seconds, handed it back, and said matter of factly, "I can't sell this to you. It is expired." Then he grabbed my beer and threw it on the back counter while I, dumbfoundedly, looked at my license and said, "Whaaaaaaaaa??"

So my license expired two weeks ago, I think I lost the automatic renewal form, and now I cannot buy beer at the gas station across the law street. Thankfully though, I usually go buy my sleep aid at another gas station, and they know me, so I still got my stuff tonight.

Also, I was editing my comment today, and guess what? You can have automatic cross references. Yep, no one told me this. So I had to go through my finished freaking article and make them all automatic (that would be all the supra n. X's). So if you ever write a document with footnotes, remember that. Because I had no freaking clue, and it was a bitch to fix them all. Took me a freaking hour (I had to do this. My editor told me to).

And while trying to edit my paper, I was trying to listen to my iPod. But the earphones I bought for $9.99 are a piece of shit, not only the way they sound, but they also like to transmit static. I have to adjust the plug every two minutes. Why didn't anyone tell me that earphones you buy for $9.99 are not worth the plastic they are molded in?

And before that happened, I was planning on going to the law school so I could consult Redbook. But when I wanted to leave, it was freaking pouring. No one told me it was going to rain today. That pissed me off, but at least I was able to put off work for a couple hours (and no, I am not a pussy, I just do not trust my "waterproof" computer case and do not own an umbrella).

And even before that, as I was laying in bed at five a.m. and came across a show on A&E that informed me that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, but rather a bored rich woman who fucked for the sheer joy of it, not for money. Apparently some scrolls were found in Egypt that refutes the common thought about her. I never trusted a bible written by white men, that was passed on through talking for several centuries, but now my head hurts thinking about this.

So to recap, I am driving around on an expired license, wasted an hour doing clerical work, my iPod is only worth as much as the headphones that are used, was in danger of getting wet, and have had all my thoughts on God cast into doubt. I think I need to spend more time reading and less time watching reruns of Scrubs, The Simpsons, and Yes Dear.