Catching up

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 23, 2010 in Randomness

Just as a general note to readers, posts over the next few days are going to be sporadic (and even more content-free than usual :beatup: )

After burning half the day yesterday and minimal productivity in between classes today, I finally got my hands on a temporary laptop and will be getting caught up on outlining, studying, and prepping for this weekend.

Promise I’ll have something at least semi-readable by the end of the weekend :)



MBP, R.I.P. (maybe)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 22, 2010 in Technology

One would think somebody who graduated with a degree in, say, Computer Science wouldn’t be so surprised by the fallibility of modern electronics.

But there I was this afternoon, trying to open up an Excel spreadsheet with my final exam schedule, sitting there perplexed by the lack of noticeable activity. Little did I know the truth: my 4-year-old MacBook Pro was sitting there dying in front of me :(

I eventually shut it down, thinking this was just another Microsoft Office bug and that would be fixed by a quick restart. I power it on, hear the familiar chime, see the Apple logo come up, and…


Restart and try it again, thinking it’s a fluke. Same result.
Restart again and try to boot into the Windows Vista partition I use for ExamSoft. This time it freezes at the initial Windows progress bar.

Fear starts to creep into the back of my mind. “Just relax,” my mind reassures itself, “It’s probably just a corrupted hard drive we can fix in about 20 minutes.”

Grab my Snow Leopard install DVD and try to boot from the disc. Nothing.
Reset the SMC and PRAM then restart again.  Nada.
Restart in the Unix equivalent of “safe mode.” Nil.

I notice the complete and total lack of noise from the hard drive, meaning it’s something other than a failed drive (usually a corrupted disk makes a clicking sound). Fear turns into dread.

Restart in verbose mode to to see how far along the boot process gets, and notice it hangs at:

ACPI: System state [S0 S3 S4 S5] (S3)

My heart sinks; dread turns into panic. The inner-geek in me notices that particular line was a stumbling point for the Hackintosh1 folks when there was an incompatibility with the motherboard and the OS.

Translation for MBP users like me: the motherboard is dead :cry2:

I run to my old desktop in the other room (used for doc archives) to see if I can load the laptop’s hard drive in FireWire Target Disk Mode. It works, so I’m thankfully able to at least pull off the docs I’ve modified since my last backup.

I promptly schedule an appointment with the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store. Pack everything up. Jump in the car. Speed to the Apple Store. Plaintively explain everything to the guy at the Genius Bar.

All to no avail.

20 minutes later, after trying a few other tests I didn’t have the resources to try myself, my fears are confirmed — the logic board has failed and my laptop won’t be booting any time soon. I reluctantly agree to have the laptop shipped to a repair depot, where hopefully a logic board transplant will get it in good working order again.2 It gave me a better understanding of what this feels like.

That’s pretty much how my afternoon/evening was spent today. I’ve lost hard drives before (always backup your data!!) but never a logic board. It put me in a sufficiently frosty mood when I got home that I neglected to follow one of the cardinal rules of cooking as I made dinner, ending up with grease burning the heck out of a couple of the fingers on my right hand :beatup:

BUT, on the bright side, this means I’ll have to pay attention in class for the next few days since I won’t have the news or Facebook to distract me :D  I’m determined to find a silver lining to this whole scenario…

  1. A hacked installation of MacOS X on non-Apple hardware. []
  2. The downside is that I’ll be out a few hundred $$ and have to give up my laptop for 5-7 days… 1 day before meeting with my partner on our Legal Research project, 4 days before the monthly UNCASG meeting, and 9 days before midterm exams. :beatup: []

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Digesting the FRCP

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 21, 2010 in The 1L Life

To the current attorneys that happen to swing by law:/dev/null every now and again: how do they test the various Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the bar exam? Do you get a cheat sheet or anything listing each rule? Are only a few of the main ones tested? Or do you have to remember the essence of every single one?

Trying to keep up with the new material in CivPro this semester is like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet and getting a horrible case of indigestion afterwards… :beatup:

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Time heals all wounds…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 20, 2010 in Wolfpack Athletics

…but sports helps you forget them faster.1 ;)

I had mostly forgotten yesterday’s drama by the time I woke up this morning to get ready for a trip down to Raleigh. The N.C State men’s basketball team took on Wake Forest, where the Wolfpack thoroughly mauled the Demon Deacons in a 68-54 victory that we led the entire game.

You can tell from the celebration this was the first win we'd had in awhile :beatup: (photo by Raleigh News & Observer)

Yes, that’s the exact same N.C. State currently dead last in the ACC standings, and the exact same Wake Forest that was ranked #23 in the AP poll :D

The trip was a little interesting/odd this time because I invited Co-Counsel, a WFU alum, to join me back during the Kilpatrick-Stockton mock trial competition. Turns out her dad is an N.C. State guy like yours truly so I lined up tickets for her parents too. But with of the start-to-finish beating administered to the Deacs, she was in a thoroughly frosty mood pretty much the entire time — meaning I spent most of the game talking to Papa Co-Counsel :beatup:

Of course her bitterness didn’t stop me from heaping on a good helping of trash talk during/after the game :angel:

Overall it was a fun way to spend a Saturday. Even when we lose, I love going back to N.C. State and catching up with the folks I left behind to head to Durham and the N.C. Central University School of Law.

Now I’ve just gotta catch up on studying since midterms are only 1.5 weeks away… :eek:

  1. Especially when your team wins! :D []

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This whole law school “competition” thing…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 19, 2010 in Drama

…is a complete and total farce. jsyk.

Let me preface this entry by saying I’ve had a downright blissful experience at the N.C. Central University School of Law so far. For all the internet talk about gunners and Socratic nightmares and everything else that supposedly makes law school such a horrible experience, I haven’t really encountered it.

My less-than-stellar moments of Socratic hazing (notably in Contracts and in Torts) receded from my memory almost as quickly as they happened; I actually can’t remember either day at all except what I wrote here on the blog :beatup:

Even the personal drama that crops up at every school has been minimal. There were some childish inquiries about Madame Prosecutor a few weeks in, some unrelated ASG issues that same month, and only a pair of bona fide law-related gripes before and after midterms — both by the same people, all of whom have been notably silent since finals.

The general lack of drama can be seen by the category counts: in 154 posts over the past 6 months,1 only 4 of them went in the “Drama” listing.

So it’s a little grating when it seems like someone is going out of their way to be ridiculous.

Those of you who are regular readers here at law:/dev/null2 know I’m pretty much completely open about my grades, posting a class-by-class list of both the Fall ’09 midterm results along with my final exam grades and current GPA. My rationale for doing so is a blend of principle and pragmatism.

On the principle side, I just don’t see why grade secrecy is that big a deal so I feel no compulsion to invest energy in keeping mine secret.

On the pragmatism side, it’s a combination of 3 things:  (i) because grade info is an artificially constrained supply (by virtue of folks keeping grades secret), demand for grade info/gossip is high; (ii) I have a horrible poker face,3 so the first person to ask me for my grades would inevitably get either the truth or a poorly-concealed lie; and (iii) since someone could get the info in person without any trouble, putting it online for everyone to get without any trouble theoretically levels the playing field and destroys its social value as gossip, consequently reducing/eliminating the number of people talking about my grades (which ideally is the objective anyway).

Besides, if it bothers any of you that much you can always stop reading :)

Bearing that background in mind, I also don’t mind talking about grades when folks ask me. I had a candid conversation with Rico during our run on Tuesday. Co-Counsel4 hit me up on Gchat to ask about yesterday’s LRP quiz. And as I was leaving CrimLaw today I chatted with Rockstar about how crazy people can act sometimes in this environment.

It turned out to be a prophetic conversation.

When I got home I cut on a Law & Order rerun and started catching up on emails and Facebook messages. While I was working on the latter one of my classmates, clearly in a petulant mood, starts ranting at me over FBchat about my inquisitiveness during CrimLaw. Apparently I’m annoying… even though Professor CrimLaw has made it clear on numerous occasions that if the class doesn’t start speaking up he’ll forgo Q&A-style teaching in favor of the less-preferred lecturing from the podium. That and I plan on doing this professionally so I’d like an answer while the question and material are both fresh in my brain ;)

In general I didn’t respond to her diatribe beyond the occasional “gotcha” and “ok,” which apparently only pissed this chick off more. She closes with “if u spent half as much effort studying as u do asking questions maybe u’d have grades like mine.”

::cue scratching record sound effect::

Honestly I couldn’t even be mad about the remark, that’s how derisible it was. I just replied with a “lmao k” and that was the end of the conversation.

I noted all the way back in September that there’s far more to a lawyer than a GPA.5 We’ve all got different interests, we’ve all got different objectives, and in general we’re all going to end up at different places in life — professionally, temporally or geographically. As long as I’ve got my 2.5 required for most extracurricular orgs, I’m satisfied. You should be too.

I’ll put it another way:  I have no interest in law journal or becoming a corporate attorney. You have no interest in trial team or throwing criminals in prison. Almost by definition, we’re not in competition with each other. So do us both a favor and spare me your sanctimony :heart:

And if my questions are that irksome, convince your classmates that a lecture is less boring than a Q&A :*

To the rest of you, please forgive my ranting :oops:  I hope you all have a great night! :D

  1. Can you believe we’ve been in law school that long?! []
  2. THANK YOU!! :) []
  3. See my losses at poker night if you need an example :beatup: []
  4. Co-Counsel’s new to law:/dev/null, a 1L in a different section. You’ll probably read more about her later. []
  5. Though if this girl’s an example, tact apparently isn’t included. []

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Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2010 in Student Government

It’s been a good day :)

Things started off well when I made it to Legal Research & Persuasion on time. A minor success to be sure, but with our new schedule this semester I miss 2 days’ worth of LRP every time there’s a UNC Board of Governors meeting — so this is the first lab I’ve been to since the semester started :beatup:

It got even better when we got grades back for the quiz I mentioned yesterday. The grade itself wasn’t a surprise (BlueBook/citation stuff is one of the things I did professionally back when I was a paralegal) but it means I don’t have to go to class tomorrow. And since Professor Ks cancelled that class too, it also means I get to sleep in extra late since those are the only 2 classes we have on Friday mornings :D

But the main joy came from reading the student newspaper at my alma mater.

Some quick background:  I briefly mentioned last month that the statewide UNC Association of Student Governments had already gathered 15,000+ student signatures on a tuition petition calling on state legislators to scrap a mandated tuition increase (with $$ raised going to the state’s General Fund) and replace it with a smaller tuition increase set by the Board of Governors (with $$ raised staying on each respective campus).

Back when we were prepping the campaign, back before the first signature was signed, we got a lot of hostile carping from a lot of different folks — and as the guy in charge, most of it was directed at me.

One well-connected person told me to “hold off.” Another more tersely insisted “your plan is not going to be helpful” (though he was kind enough to preface it with “with all due respect”).  And then there was N.C. State’s Technician, which was kind enough to editorialize here that the Tuition Petition was a “futile gesture designed to improve the image of student leaders”… yet another condemnatory editorial in a span stretching back to the start of my 1st term :roll:

But then by the time last week’s BOG meeting started, the number of signatures had grown from 0 to over 20,000 — over 90% of our 21,500 goal, with 3 weeks left to go.

It was a point I made sure to mention in a speech from the podium, flanked by over a dozen Student Body Presidents and other student leaders from over half the institutions in the University system, with thick stacks of signed petitions in their hands :angel:

After the meeting, the very same gentleman who just a month earlier said the petition campaign wouldn’t be helpful came up and thanked us for doing it, noting how helpful it would be when budget deliberations take place this summer.

Then today, as I’m in the FishBowl reading for Torts, I discover the Technician wrote a fresh editorial… now citing what they call the “great” work UNCASG is doing with the petition.

I almost fell out of the chair :beatup:

Now I’m not the obnoxious type to demand someone say point-blank they were wrong, but I’m more than willing to infer it from their subsequent words/actions ;)

So yeah, it’s been a good day :D We’ll see how tomorrow turns out :)

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Spreading the (Law School) Gospel

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 17, 2010 in The 1L Life

NCCU Law has a “Law Student for a Day” program going on this week, where 1Ls who volunteer get paired up with an undergrad student thinking about law school, and let them be a “shadow” in classes and other activities throughout the day.

As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of better promotion for the law school so I volunteered for the program :)

My shadow (we’ll call him Shadow for this entry) was a junior pursuing a dual major in poli sci and business, solid GPA, aspiring corporate attorney, and taking the LSAT this June.  Compare that to my degree in Computer Science, a GPA that looked like it was shot repeatedly and left to die, with no interest in corporate law and who took the LSAT in February :beatup:

But what I lack in academic credentials I more than make up for in zeal ;)

After an impromptu tour of the law school, Shadow joined us for Property where we’re discussing leaseholds, privities of contract and estate, etc. The material was/is a bit boring but the class provided him an opportunity to see the Socratic method in action — definitely A Good Thingâ„¢ for an ambitious pre-L :D

CrimLaw was far more engaging and easier for a non-law student to grasp since we’re going over the elements of homicide.

Trying to put myself in Shadow’s shoes reminded me of how utterly clueless I was when law school started seven months ago. Makes me almost wish I had done something like this when I was in undergrad. Almost.

Wrapping up CivPro reading then heading to bed — get back my first quiz from Legal Research tomorrow morning so need to make sure I don’t oversleep and miss class :beatup:  Night folks!

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Mmm Ks nom nom nom

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 16, 2010 in The 1L Life

Reading up on Justifications for Non-Performance in Contracts. Not entirely sure why it’s a “defense” in a Torts/CrimLaw context but a “justification” in a Ks one, but I digress.

Anyhow, no-oral-modification clauses are abbreviated NOM throughout the notes. And every time I read it I envision this happening to the contract:

Obligatory cute bunny pic. nom nom nom.

Yes, I recognize this is probably one of the first signs of some degenerative mental illness…

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The Law as a Time Capsule

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 15, 2010 in The 1L Life

Every now and then when I’m reading these casebooks, it really throws me for a loop to realize how incredibly old so many of our rules of law have gotten.

The obvious reference for a 1L is Property, where items like BlackAcre were first referenced nearly 4 centuries ago and most of the estate terminology was created around the same time.

But even in Civil Procedure many of the rules are orders of magnitude older than the current students of them. Consider, for example, that counterclaims were first codified in New York in 1852 (1.5 centuries ago). Or that the comparably “new” Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are closer to the 1-century mark than the 0-century one (created in 1938 / 0.7 centuries ago).

For all the talk of law evolving — which we know it undoubtedly has just looking at the opinions we study — it’s still interesting to see how many vestiges of it remain relatively untouched decade after decade after decade.

Just thought I’d share my bemusement :) Back to more CivPro before bed. Hope all of you are having a great start to the week! :D

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Things TDot Likes: Men’s Wearhouse

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 12, 2010 in Things TDot Likes

“You’re going to like the way you look.  I guarantee it.”

That’s the corporate tagline for Men’s Wearhouse, the clothing store where I’ve gotten most of my professional attire over the past few years. But when I pulled my BlackBerry from its holster this morning, I got a message that could work almost as well:

“U have to have big [cojones] to wear a pink tie and a pocket square lol.”

A little color never killed anyone :D

That was from one of my colleagues during today’s meeting of the UNC Board of Governors, where we adopted tuition/fee rates for the 2010-11 academic year.  Those rates included a long-sought fee to fund a football team for UNC Charlotte, as well as a fee to finally build a new student center at N.C. State

…but the topic of discussion for several Board members kept shifting back to my hot pink tie and matching pocket silk :beatup:

I actually started the draft for this post a couple weeks ago after a not-quite-but-somewhat similar occurrence. A fellow 1L from the N.C. Central University School of Law stopped by to hang out for a bit, saw me putting my tie racks in order, and remarked about how much I’d “grown up” compared to my earlier wardrobe.

Now I’ve never been a fan of the stereotypical “corporate” look — black or navy suit, white or light blue shirts, earth tone ties, no pocket silks, etc. But I confess it’s what I used to wear back when I wasn’t in school, since it’s what everyone else wore too.

Then one day I went into a local S&K Menswear1 looking for a French blue pocket silk. The staff looked at me like I was crazy, and one of them even tried to talk me into getting a navy blue silk instead (a color I already had, and didn’t need even if I hadn’t). I left disappointed and figured I’d try the Men’s Wearhouse shop next door.

I not only found the French blue silk I was looking for, the ties/silks area was like a color pinwheel with all sorts of vibrant choices. Not sure what the salesperson was pulling down in commission, but I happily parted with a tidy sum of $$ to get a few ties, matching silks, and shirts.

It was love :lovestruck:

I’ve been shopping there ever since. Suits, shirts, ties, silks, even the occasional tuxedo rental. They’ve even helped me put together a slightly-exotic outfit every now and then, like when I had to find a suitable shirt / tie / silk combo to match these colors for UNCSA.

So if you’re a guy looking to add a little visual pizazz to your attire, Men’s Wearhouse just might be the place for you ;)


I’m taking the weekend off from blogging to (hopefully) get caught up in CivPro and Legal Research. See y’all on Monday, have a great night! :D

  1. Later acquired by Men’s Wearhouse, ironically enough []

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