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Mastering the Art of Embarrassing Myself

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 19, 2014 in Fail

I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Superior Court for a solo who’s only been licensed for about a year and 9 months now. While most of that has been on the civil side of the courthouse, it encompasses a handful or two of criminal cases as well.1

But in one of those weird coincidences of life, all of those clients have had last names falling in the first few letters of the alphabet — all “A”s and “C”s before today.

So I’m down in Wake County for Superior Court calendar call today, on behalf of three folks convicted as part of the misguided prosecutions of last year’s Moral Monday protestors.

One of them has a last name starting with H, so about thirty minutes or so into calendar call I note my appearance on his behalf and get a new court date.

Another hour or so goes by, and we’re only to L. I look at my watch and realize I need to go add time to the parking meter so I don’t end up with yet another parking ticket.2 My next client’s last name is Smith, so I figure I’ve got time.

I go downstairs, throw a couple more quarters in the meter, come back to the courtroom… and see everyone streaming out :surprised:

Panicked that I just missed calendar call for two of my clients, I rush up to the ADA and apologize and quickly explain that I had to go add time to the meter…

…before thinking that maybe there was still more to calendar call to go. Sure enough, she replies “oh that was just the first half. We’ve got a 10-minute break before we do N through Z.” :beatup:

Some days I truly question whether I have the competence to do this for a living…

  1. Including one of the “boneheaded decisions” I wrote about during my Year 1 Recap. []
  2. I still get them with annoying frequency, just like when I was in undergrad :mad: []

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3

Surveying the Wreckage

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 20, 2012 in Fail

Well, it had to happen at some point…

After spending the better part of three years reading through dozens of law school blogs and writing about life at NCCU Law with something more or less vaguely resembling a degree of regularity, law:/dev/null finally hit the single-tilde “Not updated in 30+ days” mark :beatup:

Worse, the blog backend is in total disarray: the .htaccess list hasn’t been updated in ages so the spammers are back, our error message plugin evidently broke with an update some time ago and I didn’t even notice until yesterday, and the blogroll is more-than-a-smidge outdated.

I’m still here, and law:/dev/null will still be here too — there’s bar prep to write about,1 and if nothing else I’ve got about a half-dozen entries in varying stages of completion I need to finish and post — but it’s gonna take some work.

Just wanted to post a quick message saying hello and letting y’all know I haven’t totally disappeared :)  Have a great night!

  1. …which starts tomorrow! :crack: []

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Ugh

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 25, 2012 in Fail

When political commentators talk about the presidential election race every four years, have you ever heard them talk about a candidate’s “path to victory”?

I always thought it was a silly phrase to use. I’m not really sure why; maybe because I always saw the President of the United States as a “national” leader that I briefly forgot about the state-by-state nature of the election.

Well this week I’m learning first-hand about the concept  :beatup:

We got back our last-set-of-grades-before-the-final in NC Distinctions, NCCU Law‘s course to help immerse 3Ls in the key distinctions between North Carolina and other states in Future Interests, Criminal Procedure, Real Estate Finance, and Family Law. The course features one test every couple weeks in each of those subjects, worth 20 points apiece, and a final exam covering all four subjects also worth 20 points. Every test except the final can be retaken — the overall score is determined by taking the best of the two scores on the multiple choice portion, and adding the average of the two scores on the essay portion — and there is a curve of no more than +8 points.1 It’s a class the 3Ls before me always complained about and is a renowned GPA killer.

So I’ve been studying my butt off trying to get an A in here now that the best I can do in Arbitration is a B+.

I’d done sufficiently well on the first test (Future Interests) to escape a rewrite entirely, did well on the CrimPro essay so I decided not to risk my score dropping by doing a rewrite for that one, and voluntarily did the rewrite in ReFi to juice my score when I realized the trajectory my grades were taking. I needed roughly an 18 apiece on the FamLaw test and the final; not easy, but not outside the realm of possibility with enough studying.

Me after seeing my latest Distinctions grade

I botched the first FamLaw test multis, earning me a 16. Under the Distinctions scoring model, though, I could bring that up to a 19 on the rewrite.

Then I did the rewrite (the grade we just got back)…

…and got a 16.5 :beatup:

My guess is Prof Distinctions was feeling sympathetic, because she rounded my overall average on the subject to 16.5 from 16.25.  As appreciative as I am, the bigger issue for me now is that I need a perfect 20 out of 20 on the final exam to get that A. Miss a single point and I’m down to an A-; miss 3 or more puts me in B+-and-below territory.

I feel like I’m back at N.C. State, where I spent my Christmas breaks doing academic work and was still doing assignments to graduate in July even after I had “walked” in May.

This is entirely too much effort during what should otherwise be the relaxing downhill coast to graduation… and my “path to victory” is mighty doggone narrow. Grrr.

The final Distinctions exam is tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me y’all! :)

  1. Meaning if someone aces the course the curve will be less than +8, but if we all fail we’re not getting more than +8 no matter how the curve turns out. []

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3

Trapped

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 25, 2012 in Fail

“I must be, like, a malfunction magnet.

Because your sh*t keeps malfuntioning around me.”

Some of you might recognize the quote.1 I got to live it earlier today :beatup:

After NC State‘s 3-point loss to Kansas on Friday night and some sleep + work + exploration yesterday, 雅雅 and I did some final roaming around of St. Louis before I headed home to Durham (I’m currently writing this from the massive Hartfield-Jackson Airport in ATL waiting for my connecting flight). I like checking out national monuments so I wanted to visit the Gateway Arch. And when I found out you can go inside to the top, naturally I wanted to do that too.

The experience got old after the first 2 hours… :mad:

If you’ve never visited the Arch, basically there are tiny orb-shaped trams that travel to the top every 10 minutes. You buy a ticket, climb down some stairs, enter the tram and take a roughly 4-minute ride to the top. You then get out, climb up some stairs, and walk into the archway itself where there are small angular windows you can peer out of to get a view of the neighboring area.

Panorama view from the west-facing side of the Gateway Arch

The view is cool — I took plenty of pictures for future panorama-making :D — but it’s also brief (and cramped). Most of the folks who take a tram up take the next tram down 10 minutes later, after jostling and pushing past each other for the length of the archway. Check out this blog entry from Quirky Travel Guy for a run-down of the experience.

And that jostle+push+ride-down-10-minutes-later was our plan. We made our way to the other side, “signed in” for the next tram ride down, directed to go down the stairs to our specific pod number, and waited…

…and waited…

…and waited…

…and waited…

…and waited some more.

After well over an hour went by, an announcement was made that the ground control folks downstairs had decided they wouldn’t be running any trams on either side of the Arch with no explanation as to why :crack:

We were all told to come back up the stairs to what was now an even more-crowded Archway with about 120 people stuffed into it. Then instructed by the Park Ranger to go to the other side of the Arch for the next tram on that side (which would have made us last in line and heading down 2-3 trams later). As we start jostling in that direction and people are clearly getting irate, we’re then told to turn around and go back to the side we were originally on. And told to “sign in” again. And sent back down the stairs for the next tram.

Two hours in the Arch, but another state crossed off the list!

Where we waited for another 45 minutes :beatup:

Luckily I’m not claustrophobic, but standing awkwardly in a cramped stairwell for over two hours isn’t exactly what I envision doing when I think about visiting national monuments. Eventually a tram finally showed up, 雅雅 and I got back onto solid ground, and I decided I won’t be re-visiting the Gateway Arch any time soon ;)

But at least I got to check off another state on my “Have to Visit All 50 Before I Die” list? :spin:

That’s it for tonight, about to board the flight for Durham.2 Have a great night y’all!

—===—

From the law:/dev/null “Excellence in Government” archives:

  1. From one of my Top 10 Favoritest Movies Evah. Yes, I’m a bit of a nerd — you should have noticed that from the title of the blog… ;) []
  2. Where I’ll turn 31 years old at some point mid-flight… :) []

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F*cked by Government Incompetence

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 6, 2012 in Fail

Let me start by apologizing for the profane title. We try to keep things family-friendly here but I truly couldn’t think of a sufficiently cathartic alternative title this time without dropping at least one F-bomb. :beatup:

Long-time readers of law:/dev/null know that Big Guv’mint and I aren’t exactly BFFs.  My love and support for education notwithstanding, I seem to be a magnet for every other buffoon making a living off the taxpayers’ dimes.

There was the whole conducting-a-levy-after-it-was-released debacle with the IRS during 1L year. The NC DMV conceding they improperly revoked my license the following summer.  My Post Office Box getting carpet-bombed by duplicate deferment notices a couple weeks after that.

I’ve even had the “joy” of a TSA crotch grab because apparently my cross necklace is terrorist-y…1

In each of those cases, though, an apologist for Big Guv’mint could at least make a non-frivolous argument that I bore at least some responsibility for other’s failures. I could have paid my taxes as they were due instead of trying to get back into college, could have called the NC DMV instead of assuming they updated my address when they sent my new license to it, and could have remembered to take off my suicide bomber bling in the airport.

This isn’t one of those times. :mad:

Let’s begin at the beginning: today did not start off well.  My car wouldn’t start despite a fresh battery installed just last week (driving car maintenance costs during 3L year to the $2K mark) so I once again headed to the repair shop. The repair guys still didn’t know for sure what was wrong, but ~$515 worth of repairs later they assured me everything would work this time.

So now being flat broke and not knowing how April’s rent is going to get paid, I decided to bite the bullet and call Sallie Mae to apply for one of their bar prep study loans. I give the agent my information, have him submit the preliminary app… and get told I can’t be approved for a loan. Which was mighty odd when I’ve been busting my butt to get my credit into the “as good as you can get without having a mortgage” zone, on top of me just disclosing my entire financial life to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners at the beginning of January.  If something was wrong, I should have known it.

A new addition to my credit report, courtesy of Big Guv'mint's incompetence

Panicked now that I have absolutely no clue how I’m going to cover rent for April — or May or June or July or August — I log onto the Equifax website to check my credit report.

And see this.

That reads “150 days past due”.

As of February 2012.

On a student loan issued in August 2011.

Now those of you who are good at math might notice there’s a 6-month gap between August to February. Roughly 180 days give or take. As few as 155 if you’re going from August 31st to February 1st. Meaning whatever the hell happened with this thing, I’ve supposedly been “delinquent” since the day it was issued. No in-school deferment. Not even a grace period. Nothing.

At this point I briefly stop being concerned about the Sallie Mae app and start being terrified about my bar application itself. The NCBLE likes getting everything about your life and I had just told them in January I was current on everything. Now I’m listed as 5 months late. A pretty big omission that can’t be good for the whole “character and fitness” thing.

Luckily I’m ever-so-slightly OCD when it comes to legal and financial documents, so I’ve got a copy of every single thing I sent to the State Bar. I pull it out, flip to one of the appendices — and sure enough, even the Federal Direct Loan website had me listed as being current on everything :crack:

Big Guv'mint says nothing is due... but I'm apparently 150 days late on it anyway

It’s a bit hard to see because this is a copy-of-a-copy, but you can clearly make out “Next Due Date: 07/14/2013”, “Pay This Amount:  $0.00”, and the timestamp when it was printed out — 01/03/2012, when I would have been 120 days late according to the Department of Education’s report to the credit bureau.

Staring at physical evidence that something was/is amiss, I transition from being worried to being furious. I call the DOE’s 800-number and get to spend the next 30 minutes of my life talking with one of their agents.

He first tells me I owe ~$300ish dollars on March 14th (next week). He then tells me I’m on the verge of defaulting because I’m 150 days late and they report things to the credit bureaus at 90 days. Trying to contain my rage I politely reiterate that I’m still in school, don’t graduate until May, and am entitled by law to an in-school deferment.

Then I get put on hold :beatup:

About 5 minutes later he gets back on the line, tells me he’s going to flag my account as being in forbearance so it doesn’t become even further past due, and will “submit some paperwork” to correct the deferment issue.

And then adds “There might be a little smudge on your credit report. If that becomes an issue, call back and we’ll try to fix it.”

(1) “If”?
(2) “Call back”??
(3)Try“???

I got off the phone before I said something I’d regret. Then filed a credit report dispute with Equifax and took the dog out so I could decompress a bit.

Since Big Guv’mint’s got sovereign immunity — and I don’t have a property interest in a prospective loan, or other damages to bring me under the Tort Claims Act — there’s not much I can do in terms of legal recourse. And at this point, thanks to the DOE, I now have an oncoming financial train wreck bearing down on me that has to take priority.

But damn this is ridiculous. Completely, totally, inexplicably ridiculous.

This wasn’t some loan issued before they nationalized the student loan industry, converting something from my private lender to my public one and something getting lost en route. It wasn’t the first public loan issued to me, where maybe someone somewhere at some point might have been unsure of how the process worked. No: it’s the last loan of at least 13 of them issued under the Direct Loan program.

And the best they can tell me is “If us screwing up becomes an issue for you and you can’t pay your bills as a result, call back to wait 30 minutes and then we’ll try to correct our failures.” :mad:

I pray I can stay healthy for awhile, because with my track record God only knows what’s going to happen when these clowns take over my healthcare system…

  1. The full-body scanner showed I had nothing else on me except for the chain around my neck — why do you need to follow up with groping my genitals? :roll: []

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Those days when you should have just gone back to bed…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 2, 2011 in Fail

LDOC1 and SBA’s last Presidents’ Roundtable meeting were Wednesday, NCCU Law‘s class-free “Reading Day” was yesterday, and as of today our Fall final exam period has officially started.

So my dishwasher decided to commemorate the event by exploding.2  :crack:

I’ve got a Tax final due tomorrow at 8am that I really needed to finish this afternoon, so I could study for the Sales & Secured Transactions final happening at 2pm. Instead I got to spend time cleaning up nasty water, airing out the apartment, and trying to convince the dog we weren’t getting bombed by fighter jets.

No clue what prompted the breakdown either because I’m not missing any dishes. Reverse serendipity maybe? :beatup:

  1. Last Day of Class for those not familiar with the acronym :) []
  2. It wasn’t a bona fide “boom” explosion so much as the sound you get when you throw a piece of metal into a running high-power motor, complete with fine shards of metal flying all over the place… []

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Signs it might be law school finals time…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 20, 2011 in Fail

I’ve already lost my exam number… that I just picked up on Thursday.

And apparently over the past month I completely forgot to notify my grandparents at any time that I’m coming to visit for Thanksgiving in a few days, so now Thanksgiving dinner is being held elsewhere :beatup:

I swear I’d lose my head if it wasn’t physically attached to my body. I’m ready for this semester to end already!…

Have a great upcoming week y’all, and GOOD LUCK to everyone trying to make it through the end of the semester alongside me!  :heart:

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Getting lost FTL

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 7, 2011 in Fail

I’ve got a Tax assignment due tomorrow morning at 8:00am.

And it won’t be getting done on time, because apparently at some point back around September I was mentally checked out and totally don’t remember anything at all about calculating “adjusted basis” and related stuff :beatup:

I know it seems like law:/dev/null is becoming one big cautionary tale to the NCCU Law 1Ls/2Ls coming after me, but y’all I’m dead serious: when you go to class, GO TO CLASS.

More to come when I can find some time…

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[F]ixed [O]r [R]epaired [D]aily

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 11, 2011 in Fail

“The best laid schemes of mice and men,” Robert Burns wrote a couple centuries ago, “go often askew[.]”

That pretty much sums up today :beatup:

One thing I left out of yesterday’s update on life was that I missed AppAd last Monday to get repairs made to my car, a paid-off-but-aging-rapidly Ford Focus that I’ve driven across the State of North Carolina several times over.1 My cursed tire was flat again for reasons unknown so I headed in to the repair shop, got the tire fixed (gratis), and decided to get the usual pre-winter maintenance done as well: oil change, tire rotation and alignment, coolant flush, and so on.

Sure it came out to a few hundred dollars, but I thought to msyelf “At least this car won’t need any more maintenance until Spring semester.”

Ha. Hahahaha. Ha.

:(

So today’s Election Day in the Bull City, I leave the apartment a little earlier than usual with the plan to go vote before class… and notice the car feels funny. When you’ve been driving the same vehicle for nearly a decade, you can just tell when something’s wrong. And sure enough when I get to the next stoplight the battery warning light comes on to tell me something’s awry with the electrical system.

Rather than turning right to go to the polls, I turn left to go to the repair shop again. A few minutes after turning my key over to them I learn that the refurb’d alternator I had installed back in 2008 picked today to stop working :mad:

And unlike my old 1987 Mazda pickup truck (the first vehicle I had), today’s cars are manufactured by machines that cram parts so @#$%ing tight that it’s damn near impossible to service yourself and takes repair shops a few hours to fix things too. My Focus is actually intentionally designed so the only way you can really replace the alternator is by machine-lowering the entire engine block a few inches :roll:   So I’m at the mercy of the repair folks, shell out more $$$, and head on my way 3 hours later.

In time to completely miss both Tax and Employment Discrimination, less than 24 hours after promising Prof Tax I’d be in class on-time and caught-up…

Over the past just-over-a-month I’ve now spent in excess of $1500 on auto repairs:  getting the cursed tire fixed 3x, replacing some part that holds some other belt in place,2 last Monday’s maintenance, and then this stuff today. That not only totally wipes out my savings account that barely endured what is already my most expensive semester of all time, it also erases the $700 I had set aside for my NC bar application due January 1st :(

And just to add insult to injury? I was late getting out of Sales & Secured Transactions tonight so I couldn’t even make it to the polls before they closed, making this the first election I’ve missed since I started voting 12 years ago :beatup:

Needless to say your friendly neighborhood blawger’s in a bitter @#$%ing mood. Heading to bed with the knowledge tomorrow will inevitably be a better day — have a good night y’all! :)

  1. Literally — I’ve driven it to every campus in the 17-institution UNC system at least 2-3 times apiece. :D []
  2. Which just completely fell off while I was driving one day, destroying the belt in the process :mad: []

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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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