6

Overwhelmed… but I like it (really!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 23, 2011 in The 3L Life

So the whole “look for a whole bunch of posts around mid-week” thing didn’t quite pan out as planned (surprise! :beatup: )

To be totally candid with y’all, I’ve waaaaaayyy overextended myself this semester — even moreso than my senior year at N.C. State1 — and trying to convert my thoughts into words (and proofread them) just takes a big chunk of time that I haven’t been able to set aside like I hoped.

That’s not a complaint; I actually like the insane pace and crushing workload because it prevents me getting bored. I just wanted to make sure you don’t feel like I’ve abandoned you ;)

There’s been a lot going on over the past couple weeks that I can’t really elaborate on at length, so here’s a bulleted list with some quick thoughts:

  • The class schedule I created is unquestionably the single dumbest decision I’ve made in a very, very long time :beatup:  Stacking up nearly all my classes on T/H means I get almost nothing done on those days, then I also fall for the illusory appearance of an empty M/W/F by scheduling meetings and other events when I should be reading for class instead. And there is -0- redeeming value to having Sales at 6pm-7:15pm beyond Prof Sales being highly recommended by the students who came before me.
  • I was reminded by a friend from undergrad that I actually tried a similar T/H-stacked schedule setup my freshman year at N.C. State, with disastrous results…
  • Class performance is all over the map. I’m more-or-less on track in AppAd and ConLaw II, on track but confused in Tax, behind but not confused in Employment Discrimination, not sure where I’m at in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, and completely and totally lost in Sales & Secured Transactions. We don’t get Fall Break this year so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to turn everything around, but I’m hoping now that we’re through appropriations season in SBA I’ll be able to catch up.
  • I feel particularly sheepish about Sales, because Prof Sales has stopped me on at least 3 separate occasions and warned me not to let my extracurricular activities interfere with my academic work… and that’s exactly what’s happened despite my assurances to him that it wouldn’t :oops:
  • Speaking of SBA appropriations, we went from 2pm-midnight last Friday — 5 hours for presentations, 5 for deliberations — and barely finished voting on 9 of 21 groups. Then spent another 7 hours last Sunday before getting through the rest. I’m not sure what other changes SBAs can make to expedite this in the future, but one thing that needs to be done is mirroring NCSU where group presentations happen in the week before the vote instead of a marathon Friday+Sunday session. This year’s challenge was a -40% cut in the funds available for appropriations, from $115,039.83 down to $68,976.22, and unfortunately SBA isn’t likely to get that money back any time soon.
  • On a related note just to vent a bit, just one time I’d really like to preside over a group that has its budget go up while I’m in office. The Student Senate’s first funding increase in a decade kicked in the year after my graduation, my tenure as UNCASG President coincided with the economic meltdown and an ensuing freeze on spending by state agencies, last year as Treasurer we discovered SBA was missing nearly $17K compared to what our predecessors said we had (just before main campus gutted the budget further in January), and my back-of-a-napkin estimate this past weekend suggests I’m currently presiding over the lowest amount of funding the SBA has had since George H.W. Bush was President… and most of our students were too young for elementary school :crack:
  • ♫ One of these things is not like the others... ♫

    While we’re talking about SBA, apparently I’m the oddball of the group :surprised:  As some background, I’m a huge fan of personality assessments to help people learn more about themselves and offer clues on how they can better interact with their colleagues; self-awareness is one of the most-versatile weapons a person will ever have in their arsenal as they go through life. So I took some personal time and went through a trio of them myself2 then asked the SBA to try one we were given during my senior design project in undergrad. I’ve posted the results on the top of the picture at the right (the bottom part contains my 5 “Themes” from StrengthsQuest).  I can’t help but feel like I’m on Sesame Street

  • Oddball status notwithstanding, we make a good team. The dynamic is vastly different from last year but generally we all play to each other’s strengths. Earlier this week I was actually called “the Lil’ Jon of SBA” in light of my hype-man role… which actually suits me just fine ;)
  • Did I mention that last Friday was the first day of near-winter weather we’ve had this season?  And, in true North Carolina fashion, rather than give us any semblance of Fall the temperature simply dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight :mad:
  • And I hate Fall and Winter btw…
  • On the other hand, I absolutely adore my dog! :D  He’s still incredibly well-behaved, hasn’t soiled the apartment at all, deals with me being in class from 8:30am to 7:15pm three nights a week, and is generally just all around awesome. He has his dog quirks — scent hounds don’t particularly care if the temperature’s dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight — but I’ll happily deal with it in exchange for having a happy and loving dog greet me every time I walk into the apartment :spin:
  • Switching gears over to the “real world” for a bit, way back in the halcyon days of 2004 I got myself fired from the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office after writing and signing this letter that got published in the Raleigh News & Observer (on the first day of the NCGOP’s state convention to boot). So imagine my (non-)surprise when the now-Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly approved a referendum seeking to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, an utterly bizarre proposal that was generating unintended consequences before it was even adopted. Even though I’ve mentioned my own reservations about gay marriage, there’s simply nothing conservative at all about this Amendment One business and the government effectively decreeing to churches what will and will not constitute a valid marriage between consenting adults. It’s particularly galling given its timing alongside the repeal of DADT: the self-proclaimed “most military-friendly state in America” is essentially saying it’s perfectly acceptable for homosexuals to die abroad defending our freedoms, just make sure you don’t bother coming back and trying to claim the same government-bestowed privileges conferred upon the other folks who are married… :crack:
  • The most-irksome aspect of Amendment One, from this ConLaw-loving law student’s standpoint, is the timing of the vote: you’re essentially taking a duly ratified constitution adopted by an overwhelming majority of voters in a general election, and which includes among its provisions guarantees of religious freedom3 and equal protection,4 and seeking to have those clauses invalidated through an amendment in a primary election when the politicians know turnout is always less. Never in the history of this country has a primary for a presidential election year had higher turnout than the ensuing general election. The politicians not only knew that when debating when to schedule Amendment One, they intentionally planned it that way. Absolutely outrageous. This facet alone has prompted me to join NCCU Law‘s chapter of OutLaw and start encouraging friends and colleagues to vote “NO” next May.
  • On the Student Government side of things, UNCASG has returned to its habit of epic fail-ness less than 2 years after my term as President ended. It’s not really my place to opine on that failure since I’ve already had my time in the spotlight and put my successors in as good a position as any successors have ever been in the group’s 39-year history. But if any of the delegates still happen to read law:/dev/null I’ll tell you this: screwing around with the organization’s structure isn’t going to fix anything if you don’t have the cajones to hold the leadership accountable. The N.C. State Technician was kind enough to publish a forum letter I wrote to them on the point. I just hope someone actually listens.
  • We’ll see if the Technician’s counterparts at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel follow suit, as their oft-ridiculed Editorial Board continued its habit of plucking fabricated figures from the ether to attack UNCASG. One of their latest editorials inexplicably claims UNCASG spent $50,000 for our NC in DC advocacy trip back in 2009, even though the actual figure was an order-of-magnitude less: $4,750, spent for a bus so that the four-dozen participants (who paid 100% of the remaining costs out-of-pocket) didn’t have to take a dozen or more cars and the attendant gas and parking reimbursements that would have had to go with them. I truly have no earthly clue how the DTH Edit Board picked this random total when I sent them a spreadsheet at the end of FY09 listing out every single expense UNCASG made, down to the penny. It’s one thing to embrace nixing UNCASG’s ability to advocate federally during an election year — something I’d wholeheartedly embrace on pragmatic grounds alone — but simply inventing whatever data you want to support your arguments reeks of journalistic impropriety.
  • Over in the blawgosphere, I’ve gone through our entire blogroll surveying the law school blog landscape and it’s not pretty: more than two-dozen blawgs shut down permanently or otherwise moved to triple-tilde status (see my Blawgpocalypse 1.0 entry on how I handle categorizing blawgs), roughly a dozen more moved to double-tilde status, and only a collective handful of new and/or newly updated blawgs to replace them. Of the 183 blawgs on the law:/dev/null blogroll, 72 are defunct — that’s ~39%, compared to ~15% at this point just under a year ago.
  • But on the bright side, law:/dev/null finally hit the 1,000,000-pageview milestone way back on September 6th :D  I know it’s a small thing, and it’s a testament to how crazy life has been that I haven’t even been able to put together a Site Stats entry to analyze it yet, but in light of blawgs wilting like roses in a heat wave I’m incredibly privileged to still have y’all dropping in to see what’s going on in my law school life :) Thank you! :*

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this list, there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve wanted to write about! But I’m gonna wrap it up here so I’ve hopefully got some spare thoughts to pen in the near-term future ;)

Have a great night and an amazing weekend y’all! :D

  1. When I was President of the UNCASG, President of the NCSU Student Senate, policy analyst for a state legislator, and graduating senior in Computer Science… all at the same time :crack: []
  2. My Myers-Briggs/Keirsey test has me back to ENFP (“The Champion”), the first time I’ve turned out the same as something I’ve gotten before. []
  3. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 13: “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” (emphases added) []
  4. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 19: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws[.]” (emphasis added) []

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3

Back in a week or so

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 7, 2011 in The 3L Life

Hey folks! :)

law:/dev/null will be sporadically offline over the next week starting tonight, and updates will be queued up in the meantime instead of posted nightly — I’m making a number of behind-the-scenes tweaks to the WordPress install and the layout template I’ve been using,1 archiving server data for this site and others I’m hosting on the same machine, and grabbing some of my content from Facebook (“T. Greg’s Tomes”) that I’ll be trying to HTML-ify for archiving here on the blog.2 And somewhere along the way I need to keep up on law school reading and related events :beatup:

Apologies in advance for the disappearance, and keep an eye out for us mid-week next week!

  1. The layout in particular was never really intended for what I’ve been using it for; if I can get a spare weekend to work on some graphic design stuff, don’t be surprised to see a total layout switch some time in the near-term future if I can’t optimize some of this CSS. []
  2. Since FB can’t keep their @#$%ing layout consistent for more than a month at a time… :mad: []

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3

Law school: putting the labor in Labor Day

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 5, 2011 in The 3L Life

I’ve officially concluded that the course load I signed up for this semester was, in fact, insane :crack:

Scarcely two weeks in to my 3L Fall semester at NCCU Law and I’ve already burned an extended weekend getting caught up on reading for classes. I took some time on Saturday to clean up the apartment1 and enjoy some Wolfpack football, but otherwise have been steadily immersed in my Tax and Sales books.

And the sad part is I’m technically not even caught up yet: I wasn’t able to get my Employment Discrimination textbook until this weekend, I’ve saved ConLaw II reading for tomorrow in between classes, and I’ve got Sales practice problems to knock out somewhere along the way.2 :beatup:

But on the upside (and on a totally unrelated note), either today or tomorrow law:/dev/null should hit its 1,000,000th pageview! So I’ll have another Site Stats entry to queue up later in the week :D

That’s it from me, I’m heading to bed so I can get up for the 8:30am Tax class — have a good night y’all! :)

  1. In what has quickly gone from a bi/tri-weekly ritual to a weekly one, solely to keep the results of Samson’s shedding from growing out of control :beatup: []
  2. And that’s not even getting into the fact I’m behind on SBA work, which in light of my recent and not-so-recent history is almost more annoying than being behind academically… []

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2

Reason #17 why I don’t work in IT

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 1, 2011 in Fail

Alternate title: how I almost created a really expensive paperweight :beatup:

After 5 years of dependable service, the Airport card in my original edition MacBook Pro finally started to die a couple weeks ago. It was making life difficult between my networked laptop backups getting corrupted from the sporadically dropping signal1 and having absolutely no internet access at all during classes.2 :(

Determined to make this laptop last until after I’m licensed next year, I took it into Apple for an official diagnosis that the card was dying (it was) and an estimated on repairs (~$100). The cost wasn’t particularly exorbitant but it would have required me to part with my laptop for 3-5 business days — which simply wasn’t going to happen.

Since my laptop has long been out of warranty — and I’ve already hand-upgraded the RAM, hard drive, and CD drive myself — I bought a replacement on eBay and planned to do the upgrade myself.

I’m at NCCU Law about 45 minutes before Sales starts, which should be plenty of time to get the top case removed, the antennas unhooked, the card swapped out, the circuit board tape replaced, and everything back to together again. Leaning over a table with an ice cube tray beside me for sorting the removed screws, I’ve got everything apart and the card out in 15 minutes and the new card put in.

I go to replace the screw in the retaining bracket that holds the wireless card in place…

…and my fat fingers knock the @#$%ing thing off the screwdriver :cry:

I shake the circuit board and don’t see anything fall out. I check the table I’m working on and don’t see it. I crawl around on the floor and can’t find it. I get a broom and sweep the entire region, poring over flecks of dirt bigger than the missing screw, all without success.

And did I mention this particular screw for this particular retaining bracket is required to hold the wifi card in place and re-secure the top case? :mad:

After successfully burning 30 minutes on an unsuccessful screw-hunting expedition and my “laptop” looking like nothing but a circuit board with a monitor attached, I ask EIC to go tell Prof Sales that I’ll be missing class for the 2nd day in a row.3

I then go to the law school’s IT folks and get a magnet-tipped screwdriver4 and also ask if they’ve got a screw of a comparable size and width. After spending another 30 minutes testing various screws from a bad Lenovo ThinkPad, nothing works and what little hair I have left on my head is falling out from the sheer terror that I’ve just torpedoed my efforts at keeping this laptop through law school.

Finally, in near-total desperation, I take the recommendation of a nearby 2LE who suggests using one of the screws elsewhere on the logic board instead. I promptly unfasten one of the screws holding the CD drive in place (since I use that once every 2-3 months at best) and fasten the wireless card, get the keyboard reattached and the top case back on, press the power button — and everything works :surprised:

By the time I’m done, it’s roughly 2 minutes before Sales class ends… whereupon I had to tuck my tail between my legs and go explain to Prof Sales that I had no intention of missing his class.5

The upside is that I’m now able to write this entry from the comfort of my bedroom without losing signal for the first time in weeks — but after nearly having a heart attack over a screw comparable in size to a blood clot, I think I’ll stick with law instead of IT ;)

Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. Not having multiple redundant backups of my files makes me paranoid after seeing what happened to one of my Legal Eagle colleagues and my own personal drama with Gmail here, here, and here… []
  2. Yes, I listed “no wifi in class” as an unmitigated negative — as counterintuitive as it sounds, I actually pay more attention to the material when I know I have the option to not pay attention to the material :crack:  When I’m trapped in a room and forced to listen, I pull out my iPhone and start playing Angry Birds. []
  3. On Tuesday I participated in an interest meeting for SBA elections — clearly my priorities have not improved since undergrad :beatup: []
  4. I know, I know — something I probably should have done in the first place… []
  5. Even though we’re paying to be here, and we’re all adults and professionals, and etc etc etc… every time I have to initiate one of those types of conversations with one of my law school professors I still feel like I’m back in elementary school being called to the principal’s office. []

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