Friday, December 30, 2005

It is mine!!!

When I quit my job, various managers, proving that great minds think alike, gave me a grand total of $400 worth of gift certificates to a local independent bookstore. I stopped by today to pick up a copy of Lincoln's Melancholy for myself (gave it to my sister and her husband for Christmas and made the deadly mistake of reading the first 30 pages myself before I wrapped it) and ended up buying The Complete New Yorker, which I've been lusting for since it was first announced. I think it's the perfect use of a gift certificate: I'd never buy it for myself if I had to pay cash, and it's probably the largest number of quality words obtainable for $100. Now I just have to install the dang thing. Can I put it on both my computers?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Crows, do your job!

OK crows, it's time to do your job. This opossum has been lying in the gutter across the street from my house for two full days. Did I not feed you delicious bits of my croissant every weekend last summer? Did I not allow you to take the salmon skin from my grill and steal the toasted buns? Do I ever complain when you land on the roof with your loud feet and stuff my gutters full of god knows what? So can you do this for me? Thanks.

Your friend,

The Superannuated 1L

P.S. Even Cornell University says that you eat dead opossum. What kind of defective crows are you? Get to it!!

Do you think she was trying to pick me up?

Today Ms. S and I went to the fabulous Olympus Korean Spa (the Tacoma location) and soaked and sweated and had our dead skin scrubbed away by a Korean gal wearing demonically abrasive green mitts. I found my scrub mildly embarrassing--they really go to town with those mitts, and my scrubber was actually flinging around little clumps of soggy dead skin.

Anyway, pre-scrub I was soaking in the mineral pool and this woman came in, asked me about my tattoo, then lamented the fact that Olympus doesn't have a motel attached. I said something like "I was just happy to see they had a restaurant." We engaged in a little bit more lame chit-chat, then she got out of the pool, revealing a not-very-well-executed tattoo of a split-tailed mermaid/siren thingy on her lower back with the tails uncurled and and spread on either side of her (the woman's) ass crack. The mermaid in the tattoo was also wearing a woman-symbol necklace. Just to avoid any confusion.

(And for more on the mermaid, siren, sheela-na-gig, and the Starbucks logo, see this and this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Your correspondent, not drunk at all, reflects on her Torts exam.

It was not particularly difficult, but I did fail to fully discuss the balancing of "burden of precaution" v. "likelihood and magnitude of harm" when evaluating the primary negligence claim. I remembered I should discuss it. I said to myself, "You need to make a note NOW so you don't forget to discuss that." And then I just kept hurtling along through the rest of my argument, failed to make the note, and left it out entirely.

What is it with the boy law students in my section that they got so obsessed with Samaritan statutes? I think one of them developed some kind of fascination, then it spread. After the exam, the hallways were all like "bzzz bzzz Samaritan defense bzz bz Samaritan." Just the guys. None of the girls. I have no theory about this. Maybe the Samaritan disease vector has primarily male friends?

But dudes, first, the Samaritan thing is a DEFENSE. Second, we haven't learned defenses yet. The prof talked about the Samaritan thing once, for about 10 seconds, probably in response to a question from the original source of the Samaritan contagion. Third, the test instructions explicitly stated that we should not waste our time discussing defenses. The only possible Samaritan action in the fact pattern was on the "duty to keep helping once you've started" exception to the "no duty to strangers" rule.

Dorks. (<------please note irony-------<<)

Will I feel like a total jackass if I'm wrong about this? Yes. Well, more like a partial jackass. We'll see.

The fact that the exam was not so hard makes me fear that the curve will be brutal.

Learnings: Make the damn note to yourself.

I got a new adult sippy cup!

Mine's green plastic. I predict that the sophisticated push-button silicon seal thing will very quickly get gummed up with nutmeg from the many eggnog lattes that bring joy to my days.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I love my wine. (Zero Manipulation, Peterson Winery)

(Yes, of course tonight I would decide to open the first bottle of the mixed case of wine I brought back from Sonoma...)

Zero Manipulation 2003

ZM2003 is one of the many fine wines I got over Thanksgiving at Locals in Geyserville. (4 bottles) I was a bit concerned that maybe it wasn't so lovely, since I tasted it about halfway through our Locals odyssey, when I was drunk and my palate was probably completely desensitized. Now, I'm not sure how my current tipsiness on eggnog and residual beer affects my ability to judge wine, but...

It's an outstanding, very reasonably priced table wine. Nice vanilla-y aroma (I think that's the oak, yes?), also a leather thing and something a bit acrid. Not too sweet, well-structured, lean on the finish. (See, I'm attempting to learn wine vocabulary and law vocabulary at once. Making me a...retro-yuppie? I dunno, but I SWEAR I'm going to get a summer externship with a plaintiff-side employment law firm...(Have I become repugnant yet? I think I may have just become repugnant.)) At $12.50, for my money it's better than the $11.00 (on sale) Syrah De Blageurs from Bonny Doon, which is the best wine I've found in that price range.

And it's got an interesting story. Very small winery. The wine's a blend of 78% Carignane, 14% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre, unfiletered, not scientifically made, and the Locals guy told me they do the blend before the fermentation. That might be bullshit. "Zero Manipulation" is the winemaker's term for his wine philosophy, which seems to aspire to being Dogme 5 for wine.

It's good wine. With no Washington distributor. Damn.

Your correspondent, drunk on eggnog, reflects on her Contracts exam.

(Secret to tasty eggnog: shake it with whatever liquor you're mixing it with. Presidente Mexican brandy is best. And add some nutmeg...)

Hm. So, having taken my Contracts exam this afternoon (before going out for beer with the youth and having a little eggnog at home), I have the following thoughts:
  • My need for latency time may be a serious problem on law school exams. I'm not sure if I have this problem to any greater extent than anyone else, but it quite simply takes me a while to ruminate on things and figure them out. This doesn't bear much relation to whether I've memorized the doctrine and have the facts at my fingertips or not--it simply takes me a while to think through the facts and all the different ways you could argue them. I don't really know how to handle this on future exams. I may try to bomb through the answers faster, then take a walk and reflect.
  • It would definitely be better to outline earlier and take a break the day before the exam. I didn't actually outline for this one--just spent some serious "quality time" with the Uniform Commercial Code (keep wanting to call it the Universal Commercial Code, like maybe it applies on Star Trek too...) and the Restatement of Contracts yesterday. I think that was fine, but I think it left me thinking a little *too* much about issue-spotting and rule-matching, and not enough about being a weaselly attorney and wrangling with the facts. I was too much, "Ah, x fulfills this clause of the code, therefore y" and not enough "one could characterize x broadly or narrowly depending on whether one wanted to argue y or z."
  • Do you think drinking *during* the exam would help? Like maybe drafting the answers, then taking a shot and revisiting them?
We'll see how I do. I imagine these problems are not unusual, so they may not be a problem as far as grades are concerned, but you know there's *someone* out there who can do this stuff on a dime.

Practice exams might help, but not the day before. Over the course of the quarter, maybe.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Why do Commercial Study Guides Exist?/Why is Law Taught via the Case Method?

Until recently, I've been mystified by the vast number of commercial study guides available for law school. I think my initial attitude was something like: If you can't extract a rule from a case, you'd might as well save your money and shoot yourself now.

Conversely, at times I've been mystified by the case method: Why teach law this way when it's clearly not the fastest way to learn doctrine?

Now it all makes sense...

Law is taught by the case method because:
  • Otherwise, it would be brain-searingly dull. The "stories" in the case books are the only thing that's kept me going some weeks.
  • What you learn via the case method is not doctrine, but legal reasoning and reading.

Commercial study guides exist because:
  • The legal reasoning and reading taught via the case method is hard. The more comprehensive study guides (like the Examples & Explanations* series) often explain things very much as the prof did in class, so they give you a second chance to make it stick.
  • The commercial outlines pull together all the doctrine in an organized (sometimes even systematic) fashion. You could do this from the cases, but:
    1. It would take a long time.
    2. Much of that time would be spent on essentially clerical tasks, and who needs that?
    3. You may have missed some of the doctrine in class while the reasoning methodology was melting your tiny little brain.

To perform well on finals, you have to both know the doctrine and apply it in a lawyerly way.** Therefore, if you just rely on the cases from class and don't either extract the doctrine yourself OR use a study guide to do so, you'll be screwed. Likewise if you just learn from a commercial outline and didn't get the reasoning of the cases.

*Pedantic point: These should really be called Explanations & Examples, because FIRST they explain, then they give you examples.
**Or so I've been told.

Let the studying for mini-finals begin.

[Note: Some asswipe in my neighborhood is downloading porn or something and my cable internets is really, really slow.]

Studying for my Civ Pro final today has made me realize that I hate studying for finals SO MUCH that I think it might actually be preferable to outline as I go next quarter. Then before finals, I’d just have to do practice exams and read study guides. That’s pretty much what I did as an undergraduate—learned stuff during the quarter, didn’t really do much for finals. Actually, that’s kind of what I’ve done this quarter, except in Civ Pro. Fuck.

I now have calluses on the heels of my hands where they hit the edge of my laptop.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Some stuff.

--The two gayest-seeming allegedly straight young men in my law school class have now become friends.

--Last night I had dinner out by myself, and was surrounded by couples on bad first (or near-first) dates. Here's a selection of quotes from the male half of the goth couple seated behind me:
[at top volume] "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" "It's just a flesh wound!" "I'm a loud person."

"My favorite movie is Amelie. It's just really beautiful."

"I'm sorry. I had a few, a few drinks beforehand. You should catch up!"

Superb. The other date guy I could overhear was talking about veal (did you know it's inhumane?), and his brother's diet and cholesterol level. ("Cheese, eggs, butter, cheese with eggs and butter.")

--I hate everyone.

--I went to visit a friend in the hospital. She'd had spinal fusion and was shaking from the pain, this despite the morphine pump. I wish I would have gone on more bad dates so I'd have had more entertaining stories for her. Or puppets. Finger puppets? More morphine.

--Why is this motherfucking Pope John Paul II miniseries on TV when I need something actually distracting to watch?

--Despite my bile, today was a good day. I had lunch with Ms. K and tea with Ms. P (yes, *the* Ms. P), both of whom invited me, which makes me feel like they get me and find me entertaining as a person and all. I bought BIG PAPER for timelining exam problems and drawing flow charts. (I have inexplicable faith in the big paper. It's just that most of the fact patterns I've seen on practice exams have had more relevant facts than you can really chart out on a regular piece of paper. Therefore, big paper. (OK, I just explic'd my inexplicable faith, yes?) No, not legal size paper--I think it's become obsolete due to a wave of new filing rules. Everyone keeps asking why I'm so excited about the big paper. I just hold it up and say "It's big!!)

--Also today, I attended a Bar/Bri torts review video featuring the founder of Bar/Bri. The running joke among those attending was that his little plastic glass of "water" was actually vodka. This seemed plausible because his affect was so disproportionate to the subject matter. (It's proximate cause! There's no need to bellow!!) And because there was a bad transition where he kind of banged his head on the podium, then there was an edit and he reappeared, much fresher. It was all very suspicious.

--Yesterday at the shrink, I realized that the worst thing about law school for me so far is that it makes me feel disconnected. Now, I'm sure this is partly due to the complete change in social situation and day-to-day-activities, the lack of real friends, etc. But it also seems like the legal thinking interposes itself between me and reality like some big dense gray cloud. It makes it a lot harder to be present, and to be in touch with my feelings. It makes yoga harder. It can make things feel kind of empty. And then it takes me a day or so of just sitting around stewing to start being aware of my feelings again.

--I'm happy and impressed that our impending mini-finals are generally bringing out pro-social and caring behavior from the 1Ls I know. (Ex: Lunch and tea invites, genuine inquiries into one another's welfare, offers to take notes for one another at the deadly dull Bar/Bri videos, bringing snacks to same.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

I think my brain is resisting the law.

The transplant is being rejected, perhaps.

We were going over old exam questions in Contracts today, and I think my ability to spot issues and argue them is significantly WORSE than it was three or four weeks ago. I have a total lack of joy--when we did problem sets a few weeks ago, I found the if/then, oh-you're-not-out-of-the-woods-yet nature of the analysis...actually fun. Today? Bleh.

Of course, this could be burnout brought on by doing my Legal Writing memo in a marathon session over the weekend. But. I don't think I can really chide myself about that: I have a hard time synthesizing stuff unless I just immerse myself in it. Of course, the immersion makes me non-functional in other ways, and I end up doing things like taking my wet sweaters out of the washer and leaving them wadded up on a chair for a day, or being late to class because I can't find my wallet and therefore can't leave the house.

I have no other news. Exams start in a week and I still need to outline all my classes and get my exam mojo back.

I want to eat nothing but Trader Joe's cheese enchiladas.

If I keep this up, I will no doubt suffer hardening of the arteries brought on by Trader Joe's cheese enchiladas...

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