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Assorted Miscellany

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 14, 2010 in Weekend Roundup

Good evening folks! :)

I’m trying to make my way through the 2nd book for my internship (Six Thinking Hats) so I don’t have time to write much, but I did have a few bullet points to toss your way:1

  • Had to go pick up registration materials for the MPRE today. For some reason, knowing I’ve got this exam looming in the near-term future kinda makes the whole “omg I’m gonna be an attorney. Who let that happen?!” thing ever-so-slightly more tangible… and prompting me to freak out accordingly :beatup:
  • Speaking of exams, I discovered that I’m a compulsive snacker when I study for finals. I’ve somehow managed to pack on +15lbs in between Thanksgiving and now despite -0- change in my activity level :crack:
  • Lots of stuff going on in the blawgosphere here recently. A quartet of tidbits for you to check out:
    • The weekly Law School Roundup — a years-old gathering of posts from law students around the interwebz that used to alternate between Evan Schaeffer’s Beyond the Underground and ImNobody’s Thanks, But No Thanks — has found a new home over at KatieLuper.com. Katie’s a graduate of SMU Law out in Dallas and getting ready to knock out the TX bar exam herself, which is presumably so monotonous that she reads blawgs for the occasional sanity check ;) If you’re new to the blawgosphere, the Law School Roundup and ClearAdmit’s Fridays from the Frontline are both an excellent source for discovering new law students!
    • One of those newcomers is Jose, a 1L at Ave Maria Law who has been actively engaging us blawgers on Twitter for awhile now. His new blog is online over at Law of Jose — definitely swing by when you get a spare minute or two :)
    • Madame Prosecutor also posted her first update in months, giving folks a breakdown on how her semester turned out. We’ll see if she ends up disappearing again :P
    • And another brand new blawg, but from a lawyer this time, is Peter Romary’s foray into the blawgosphere over at The True Verdict. Peter’s done a lot of work on behalf of students here in North Carolina and I consider him a friend, but (just in case that’s not enough reason to go read his blawg) he’s good at strongly wording his strongly-held opinions. Plus he’s from the UK, that’s gotta be worth something right? :beatup:
  • Peter’s most recent entry is on Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who’s been all over the news for awhile now. The issue of Assange being a sexual predator notwithstanding…2 am I the only one disappointed with WikiLeaks in general? The libertarian in me loves the concept, because I’m fairly certain all governments are doing things they have no business doing — and if someone happens to leak that fact, it’s more-than-slightly dishonorable on the part of the government to complain when its own hands aren’t clean. But for the all the value of the concept, and the “cool factor” of the various technologies used in its implementation, the near-exclusive/obsessive focus on the United States really robs the website of its moral virtue (at least in my feeble mind). Despite histrionics to the contrary, the U.S. is still a mostly-open society with a mostly-open government. If our government’s documents get leaked, sure feel free to post them. But where are the documents on Iran, which has a tendency to execute dissenters? Or China, which prefers jailing them instead? Or any of dozens of other countries that people flee by the thousands every year… to come to the United States? :roll:  The whole enterprise is a disappointment, and it saddens me as a tech guy to see hacktivisits across the globe rally to Assange’s defense. </rant>
  • Now that I’ve gotten that particular rant out of my system, I’ve made some more blog tweaks here at law:/dev/null too:
    • On the anti-spam front I’ve started closing old entries to comments if they kept getting spammed. This isn’t a site-wide policy yet (and hopefully it won’t become one) but I figure the odds of an uncommented entry from [#] months ago suddenly getting legitimate interest is pretty slim ;)  In any event, if for some reason you happen to venture to an old entry that you want to comment on but don’t see the comment box, shoot me an email and I’ll re-open the entry to comments. Trackbacks and pingbacks should still work, so you’re also free to blast me from your own blawg too :*
    • You should also see the <title> of each page now reversed, listing the post title and then the blog title. They used to be the other way around, but it got really @#$%ing annoying having to constantly expand the textbox in Google Analytics to see which posts were getting traffic since all I kept seeing was “law:/dev/null – Blog Archive – …”. So I flipped them :beatup:
  • I just found out yesterday that I’m using a different book in CrimPro next semester than what I used in CrimLaw… which means, since I’m taking one class and tutoring the other, I’ll have to bring both to school every day :mad:
  • And I’m still waiting on grades :mad: :mad: :mad:
  • But other than that life is going pretty well :)  I’ve got a lot of friends with birthdays coming up, é›…é›… is coming to visit, I’m heading out west this weekend for firearms training, and the internship is pretty cool. I’m definitely blessed — and actually looking forward to the upcoming semester! :spin:

That’s it for tonight y’all! Hope all of you have a great rest-of-the-week! :D

  1. And yes, I realize it’s not the weekend and putting this entry in the Weekend Roundup category is technically inappropriate. But since I usually post things late — and I can pretty much rename the categories willy-nilly whenever I want anyhow — I’m just gonna put it here and let y’all pretend it was posted 2 days ago ;) []
  2. Reminds of a L&O:SVU episode… []

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Straddling the fence

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 13, 2010 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody! :D

Way back during my (first-of-two) sophomore year at N.C. State, I had a classmate who was a transplant from England.1

He took great joy in coming up with as many bad puns, double entendres, and various other efforts at groan-inducing wordplay as he could, as a way of highlighting the differences between the way we talk here in the States and what he considered “proper” (read: British) English :roll:

Then one day I was carping about not knowing what to do with my slowly-imploding academic life, and without missing a beat he shot back:

“You can’t ride two asses with just one, T. Greg.”

His other weak attempts at witticism notwithstanding, that particular comment has stuck with me in the decade since he uttered it :beatup:

You’ve probably heard other formulations of it — “there’s no decision worse than indecision”, “if you can’t do everything at least do something”, “moving backwards is still moving”, etc etc etc — but the underlying point is still the same. We live in an increasingly risk-averse society (highlighted by our ever-expanding government “safety net”), people avoid making tough choices, and in the process our problems perpetuate themselves… and usually get worse over time.

Food for thought (I promise that's the last pun in this entry! :beatup: )

I got reminded of his remark this past week reading Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese?, a book I was given at my new internship doing legal work with the tech folks I mentioned last month. The book’s a quick read at a svelte 74 pages and the story is a bit (pardon the pun) cheesy.  But it packs a lot in those few short pages. Definitely read it if you get a chance.

Anyhow, the point of that belabored windup to this blog entry is that the book got me thinking about my classmate’s comment, which in turn got me thinking about my own future career plans…

…which in turn led me to discover I have no effing clue wtf I’m going to do with my life after getting this J.D. in 2012 :crack:

This time last year I just knew I was going into the USMC JAG Corps.  Then I ended up on crutches and went on to fail my Physical Fitness Test.  My heart still wants to do it, but I don’t think I’m willing to give up enough time in my other activities (SBA, trial team, potentially making Dean’s List) to really focus on getting in shape.

Even so, I figured it wasn’t a big deal because I just knew I was developing an affinity for CrimLaw and could make a decent living as an Assistant District Attorney.

And of course if that didn’t pan out I just knew there was academia and my “one of these days” goal of teaching2 something like Constitutional Law and/or Criminal Law and/or Evidence at some indeterminate point in the future, a prospect that got reinforced when I locked up a CrimLaw tutoring gig for next semester.

But then out of the blue this internship with I-Cubed opened up, giving me a chance to delve into technology-related law too. The people I’ve met and the company in general both seem pretty doggone cool so far… even though I feel like I’m already behind schedule on my deliverables despite steadily grinding since I started last Thursday3 :surprised:

Completely different areas of law, completely different sets of pros and cons, completely different pay scales — and that’s not even including any other options I haven’t been exposed to yet since I’ve still got 1.5 years of law school left to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s a good predicament to have. I’m just flummoxed trying to figure out what I want to do, so I can (as Johnson puts it in the book) head out into the proverbial maze in search of my own cheese.

Anyhow, I think that’s quite enough angst for one entry :)  If anyone’s got any compelling insights feel free to share them — and if not, I hope all of you have an amazing week! :D

  1. The same guy who always called me a “queer bird” whenever we talked politics. []
  2. Scroll down to Item #23 on that link []
  3. Though I’m sure a chunk of that is from time spent in the law library trying to not f*ck up on real-world work involving my worst 1L subject :beatup: []

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Halfway done!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 12, 2010 in The 2L Life

Another month, another one of my sporadic weeklong disappearances :beatup:

This has been a crazy week — spanning both final exams and a new job — but things are finally starting to get back into a rhythm so I can start focusing on the important things in life.

Including, but not limited to, the fact I’M NOW HALFWAY DONE WITH LAW SCHOOL! :spin: :spin: :spin:

::happy dance::

My last exam was in Evidence last Wednesday and with it my 2L Fall semester officially came to a close. Professors at NCCU Law have until January 12th to turn in grades so it’ll be awhile until I find out how I did, but here’s my expectations on how things will turn out:

  • Constitutional Law I: Unlike the midterm that I knew I knocked out of the park, I thought the final was pretty @#$%ing difficult :surprised:  30 multiple choice questions and then 3 essays spanning a whole range of issues. There were a few multiples I genuinely had no clue how to answer, and I was typing on the essays right down to the very last minute. After talking with classmates after the exam I’m fairly certain I missed a good chunk of stuff on the essays so at this point I’ll just be happy if my grade doesn’t have a negative impact on my GPA. Hoping for: B+.
  • Domestic Violence: History, Law & Practice: I drew a bead on this class early, determined to deal with the difficult subject matter and ace the course. I tried to avoid skipping class (difficult for an 8:30am time slot), intentionally went overboard perfecting my motion in limine, thought I was fairly well-prepared for oral arguments, and just generally worked my @$$ off to excel at everything. This is the only class where I’ll be legitimately irked if I don’t get the grade I want :beatup:  Hoping for: A.
  • Legal Letters: This was another paper-based course along with DVLaw, and I got near-perfect grades on all the assignments… except for the research memo I postponed in favor of studying for ConLaw. That dropped me to the bottom of the pile grade-wise, so the only hope I have for a decent grade is that (1) other classmates turned stuff in late too, and (2) my grades on the other assignments were marginally high enough compared to everyone else that I can edge past a few folks into the middle of the pack.  Hoping for: C+ or better.
  • Evidence: This one burns. 10 true/false question, 30 multiple choice, 1 essay. I know I completely and totally demolished the essay, in no small part due to knowledge I cemented in my brain doing research for DVLaw and from watching all 7 hours of BarBri’s online lectures (something I highly recommend for future exams). But the answer options on the multiple choice weren’t as precisely worded as I expected, and I often found myself feeling like I was playing a game of “pick the least wrong answer”… which means I probably didn’t know wtf I was doing :(  Fingers are crossed but this one falls into the ConLaw pile of “I’ll be glad as long as it doesn’t drop my GPA.” Hoping for: B+.
  • ZombieLaw (Decedents Estates I): My feelings toward this one have changed a bit since the post I wrote just after the exam. Initially I likened it to Contracts and my 1L Spring final, where spending a ton of time on questions just to work my way to an “either of these could be right” coin flip meant I did pretty bad. But in this case, although it took me 2.5 hours to grind through the 30 multiple choice questions, I eventually found an answer for each one that made sense to me — there was no coin-flipping at all. So my hope of hopes is that it means I got all the multiple choice right ::fingers crossed:: Hoping for: A-.
  • Expected 2L Fall GPA: 3.400 | Probability Factor: 18.2%

Why the added “Probability Factor” on this particular grade rundown? Well, if all these grades turn out like I hope, that means I’d make the Dean’s List… a feat I haven’t accomplished since Fall 2005, my first semester back at N.C. State :beatup:

Back in undergrad I had an incentive to perform well, since I had a pre-existing agreement with the Dean’s office set up in 2000 where they’d retroactively wipe away my sophomore Spring semester1 once I finished a summer session with “satisfactory academic progress” to prove I wasn’t totally incompetent. Of course I dropped out that June because I couldn’t afford tuition, so that semester of solid grades never took place until I came back 5 years later.

But here in law school, the only incentive I’ve got to perform well in class is just the self-satisfaction of knowing I can do it… and truth be told that’s just not a terribly strong motivator to a guy who already has an outlandishly oversized ego ;) So I figure the odds of me actually making Dean’s List this semester are about 2-in-11.

If any of you get the urge to cross your fingers, say a prayer, or bribe a professor on my behalf2 please feel free to do so. Until then, y’all have a great night — and best of luck to anyone still dealing with final exams! :D

—===—

From the grade-related archives:

  1. They took pity on the fact I was a moron who was working 4o hours a week thinking I could make enough $$$ for tuition and still perform well academically :beatup: []
  2. Just kidding about the bribe part. Maybe. :angel: []

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“I fought the [Zombie] Law and the [Zombie] Law won”…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 6, 2010 in The 2L Life

Ugh.

I’m usually pretty good about gauging how I perform on an exam after I leave the room.  For example, I knew within minutes that I got thoroughly mauled on my Contracts II final.1  Conversely, I figured I knocked the ConLaw midterm out of the ballpark before I left the room.

My impressions of ZombieLaw fall more toward the KII side of the spectrum than the ConLaw side :(

The cover to my class binder. Clearly I wasn't ready...

I’ve spent most of the past 72 hours studying non-stop for this exam. For someone who can’t stand sitting still for any protracted length of time, and who (successfully) finds a million different reasons to avoid doing schoolwork,2 somehow managing to sit still in my living room with the North Carolina General Statutes and the Uniform Probate Code and class notes and outlines and etc etc etc all strewn around me while actually reading them was quite a big accomplishment.  I thought I knew the material reasonably well.

And then I turned to the first page of the exam, and felt like I spent the ensuing 3 hours being repeatedly violated by a few sheets of paper :crack:

The exam was 3 hours long, comprised of 30 multiple choice questions worth 60% and a multi-faceted essay worth 40%.  And just like in the KII final, it took me an exorbitant amount of time just to work my way through the multiple choice — 2.5 hours.

For those of you who are math whizzes, that translates to 83.3% of the exam time spent slogging through 60% of the points…

In the 30 minutes that were left I frantically typed as much as I could conceivably type on the essay topics. There were issues with failed devises from a will, figuring out where the residue goes under the fictional jurisdiction’s anti-lapse statute, testamentary libel, partial revocation by physical act, an attempted holographic codicil, dependent relative revocation, latent ambiguity with a devise, the list goes on and on.

I think I maybe got about two-thirds of those issues covered in some minimally-competent fashion, and there’s no telling how many other issues were there that I missed. It was a mess.

The only potential upside is that most of my colleagues had similar concerns, so either (1) we all did equally bad and I can eke out a passing grade, or (2) the extra time I invested on the multiples will put me in the top echelon of the class and I can ride the curve on the essay to a better-than-passing grade.

Or (3) I really didn’t know wtf I was doing and I end up with a C like I did in KII :beatup:

We’ll see how it turns out :)   Spending tonight and tomorrow studying for Evidence, my last exam of the 2L Fall semester :D Good luck to everyone who still has exams left!

  1. Notice both that entry and this entry start the exact same too. That’s what literary folks call “foreshadowing” ;) []
  2. One of my occasional diversions from ZombieLaw was finding a functioning PSone emulator that I could either run in VMWare on the Mac or boot into Windows and load directly so I could play my old Final Fantasy Tactics game again  :spin: []

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Is law:/dev/null loading any faster?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 5, 2010 in Technology

Hey y’all! :D  My general absence from blogging is going to continue for at least another 72 hours — gotta get through my ZombieLaw exam tomorrow at 9:00am, then Evidence on Wednesday at 2:00pm.

Then after that I will officially be done with my 2L Fall semester… and past the half-way point on my journey to a J.D. :spin:

Although I’m not blogging regularly during finals, I’m still taking an occasional break to tweak the server that hosts law:/dev/null.  So I wanted to get some feedback from you:  is this blog loading any faster than before when you pull up our site?

In addition to some minor code-trimming of the WordPress template we’re using, I also added Google’s mod_pagespeed Apache module.  The only noticeable change that I see on my end is that a big chunk of file requests now show up in my logs as being made by my server itself — I can’t tell if anything is actually loading any faster :beatup:

If you notice a perceptible change one way or the other, let me know :)  I’ll be back here in a few days!

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Showtime

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 2, 2010 in The 2L Life

Lots to talk about y’all, but not tonight — 1st exam of Fall 2010 is at 9am tomorrow :surprised:  A 4-hour beast in Constitutional Law I to be precise.

I know basic ConLaw almost instinctively after studying it since at least high school, but I don’t feel confident at all about my recollection of the minutiae on stuff we’ve gone over these past 2-3 weeks — when I was focusing on assignments for other classes :beatup:

If you’ve got any spare prayers available, feel free to send them my way ;)

Thanks guys, and have a great night!

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