September 2004 Archives

Series to Start Monday

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It occurs to me that I've been in law school for a whole month, plus, and I haven't really said anything about my professors.

So, beginning Monday, I'll be doing a 5-part series on my professor. Some entries may be short, some long, but all will be honest.

One note: I am mindful, as seen here, that this is public information and that professors have access to this blog, and perhaps already do. I happen to be in the fortunate situation that I don't have anything bad to say. Perhaps a constructive criticism, but I'm also in the fortunate position that my professors are not adverse to constructive criticism. Perhaps some profs. don't like hearing anything bad about themselves, but that's not true in my school. Besides, I have nothing really negative about them to say, perhaps only a couple tips.

So, Monday, stay tuned.

Why should someone be a lawyer

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From now on, when people ask me why I want to be a lawyer, I should respond with the following:

"Because ignorance of the law is no excuse. Can you explain to me the difference between 'supervening' and 'independent' intervening forces and which one satisfies the element of proximate cause of a crime?"

Didn't think so, you're going to jail.

More funny court opinions:

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In the spirit of Travis' post, Here's the dissenting opinion, in part, that I recently learned of through ambivalent imbroglio. I do take credit for looking up the cite, though : )


Eakin, J.

* * *
A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
but the Vehicle Code does not divorce
its application from, perforce,
a steed, as my colleagues said.

"It's not vague" I'll say until I'm hoarse,
and whether a car, a truck or horse
this law applies with equal force,
and I'd reverse instead.
* * *

Commonwealth v. Noel, 2004 Pa. LEXIS 2182.

More reasons to be mad at Bush

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I've recently discovered that my former associate and current friend, R, has been denied her job. She worked at the particular agency for about a month and they discovered that the grant funding was reduced because of a shift in spending policies in the federal government.

Anyone who has seen Farenheit 9-11: remember the single state trooper on the Oregon coast? Yep, it's homeland security that this money is being shifted to. I wouldn't mind so much if it would actually a) make us safer b) not take money from other much-needed programs.

Very frustrating, and I fee very bad for R; it was her dream job.

On another note, I just had my exit interview. While I can't reveal details, I think it went ok. I did my best to be truthful and objective in my suggestions for agency changes. I'm skeptical as to how far my recommendations will be followed, but it's really not my choice, is it?

First Spam!

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Wow, I know I'm making it big. I recently got my first comment spam! Very exciting. Of course, I've had MT-Blacklist installed on my site for quite some time, but I've never used it. It did quite easily find and delete my one (1) spam comment. We'll see if more follow, but I feel up to the challenge!


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I really need to take an hour organizing my bookmarks in my browser. I've got a hundred, at least, that are all jumbled together and most I never use, I just have them for reference. Computer Clutter.

Thing 2

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Finally, at long last (and because I need to pause before delving once again into contracts), Here is Thing 2.

(BTW, I realized the Dr. Seuss reference as I typed it. Funny.)

So I recently saw The Passion of the Christ. The movie, overall not a particularly great cinematic experience, crystallized in my mind something that is seriously wrong with Christianity.

(This is the time to say it: I'm not religious. This is something that will be abundantly clear by the time you finish this post, but I thought I'd mention it early.)

The problem, as I see it, is that Christianity as a whole and a lot of individuals I have seen are way too caught up in the whole crucifixion thing. I understand the bit about "Christ dying for our sins," and whatnot, but at some point the way that Christ died has become much more important than how he lived. I don't agree with everything that Christ is attributed as saying in the Bible, but overall I think there are some good lessons there. So why is it that the way he died, as portrayed in Passion, has really taken over the valuable lessons for living?

This bothers me. I really feel like if someone wants to really be a Christian, why not focus on the things that Christ is attributed to doing or saying rather than dying. I think that more human and, well, just plain better portrayals of Christ can be found in The Last Temptation of Christ (Green Goblin and Winston Wolfe costar, how messed up is that?) and even in Jesus Christ Superstar. (Note: The Last Temptation book is much better, even. I recommend it highly.)

Ok, that's it for my high horse. Let the flaming begin, or at least Watts v. Watts, 405 N.W.2d 303 (Wis. 1987).

the Apocalypse

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The world is ending. There can be no other explanation. I'm not much of a religious person, but look at the evidence:

-George Bush is our "president," and look where we are now? (Isn't there something in Revelation about a crashing and burning bush leading us into hell?)
-You can sue a 5 year old. I'm not kidding. Try it, it's loads of fun!*
-Republicans are trying to get Nader on the ballot.
-Finally, this.

'nuff said.

(Note: still not Thing 2. It is coming, really.)

(Another Note: Is "upliftment" really a word? Last word of paragraph 3. I don't think so.

*There are exceptions, but I don't know what they all are yet.

If any of you have children between the ages of 9 and 12 then you probably know who Lemony Snicket is. Or, if you're like me and you got caught up in the Harry Potter craze and it just made you want to read more and more books about increasingly upsetting situations for orphans to be in, then you know who Lemony Snicket is.

I'm guessing you might not, though.

At this point, I wish I were you. You see, a while back, my library system won a little contest that Harper Collins' children's division offered. If you won (which we did) then your store would be graced with Lemony Snicket's presence. Okay, we're not a store, but we have an overly dedicated Snicketmaniacle librarian at one of our branches. For the past three months, the library has scrambled around trying to figure out how to deal with a visit from Mr. Snicket. They finally decided to rent a ballroom, offer tickets (for free, of course) and hope for the best. The room holds 850 people. The library gave out 1040 tickets. We're right next door to the fire marshall. The event is tonight. Please, keep your friendly guest blogger in your thoughts as she is probably going to be completely trampled by a large Snicket crazed mob of mothers and small children.

You might not understand. You see, Mr. Snicket (or Daniel Handler as people in the real world call him) has written an incredibly popular series of books. He's written A Series of Unfortunate Events. Some of you may have heard of that since the first three books have been made into a Jim Carrey movie due out some time in December. In essence what is happening with my library tonight is somewhat akin to a rock concert. An overbooked rock concert. I'm a little leary.

On another note. My father called me on Monday night with some interesting news. He called to tell me that he is getting married on Thursday (today). Huh? Apparently, I'm not going to that wedding since I'm in Maryland (my dad's in Denver) and caught up in the Snicket web today.

What else can happen this week?

If I were a rich man

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You know, if I were in an election, and I had no issues during my, oh, let's say governorship for example, and there was an issue with something that happened thirty-five or so years ago and the issue wasn't dispositive but was nonetheless damaging, would faking evidence of that issue and then leaking it to the media so that it could be revealed and then discredited be a good idea?

I'm just sayin'.

Just Wrong

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Is it sick and wrong of me that I get all goobesnackered and jellykneed whenever I hear a Light Saber start up?


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(This is not 'Thing 2')

Well, it happened. I was just asked to be the class of 2007 technology representative. Who would have thought?

Item of Note 1:

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For my research class, we have to do a 'research journal.' Essentially, we get a question that we have to research using the sources we have learned to date in class (read: no or LexisNexis). For my first research journal, I only spent three hours. The sources, for those of you who know of such things, were secondary: encyclopedias (legal), treatises, ALR, Law Reviws, etc. There's a lot of information out there in all those sources combined, so I really felt that I did a rather casual job of this assignment, but I simply did not have more time to spend on it.

Well, I got it back today with this comment:

Your work, all-around, is a thing of beauty & I have no criticisms. This is excellent work & gives you many resources to move on to. You appropriately identified all the outstanding issues that requires further research. 10/10


There's another item of note, but that comes in later.


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We should have a gym in the law school building so that I wouldn't have to walk the three blocks to go exercise.

Oh, wait...


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I like it when everyone likes me.

I'm going to be a lawyer.

Anyone see a contradiction?

Resolving mail issues

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Well, I got mad at my cablemodem ISP for the first time today.

One or two of you know that I've had some issues with email lately, and these issues all come down to one thing: spam. No, not that I'm getting it; I rarely do and what I get is easily taken care of. No, the problem is that everyone else is getting spam.

You see, it used to be the case that if you had an email account (I'm talking non-web based), you could pretty much check your email from anywhere using programs like Outlook or Eudora. Because there's so much spam now, however, most ISPs have a policy whereby they don't allow you to route email through anyone else's server. What does that really mean? Well, when I'm on campus, I can only send mail through the server, which kind of cuts out my email address. That was unfortunate, but at least I had an option. Then, on Friday, my ISP decided to start doing the same thing. From then on, I couldn't send mail through my 'regular' account, or my UW account from home.

This was extremely irritating, particularly because they didn't tell me, nor was this information anywhere on their web site. It took an email to tech support (I had a suspicion) to confirm that this was happening. Now, I could have solved the problem by changing my outgoing server in my email program, Outlook, but that would mean that I'd have to change it every time I changed location! That's right, how fun is that?

Luckily, I happened on a little utility that will change my outgoing server based on my location. Genius!

I just hope that this fixes the program, because I'm just a little miffed at wrestling with my email. I must admit, I'm toying with the idea of just bagging it and installing an email server on my laptop so that I can bypass the whole ISP thing.

Study Aids

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So I've started using a trial of Microsoft OneNote. While a lot of its features really shine on a Tablet PC, it works fine on a laptop, too. I haven't decided if I like it enough to buy the full version ($50 - Academic price), but I am warming up to it. The main strength in my case is a centralized program that has all my notes, briefs, and eventually my outline. It keeps things organized fairly well and I can easily export it to Word if necessary.

So, anyone else use this program or something like it? What do you think?

Additionally, it's becoming apparent that flashcards or something in my Property class might be useful (fee simple with an executory limitation?). The one thing I wonder is if it is really necessary because of the fact that I will hopefully have multiple exposures to the material and will, through that application, perfect my use of the terms. Anything from anyone who has been through this?


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As one could reasonably assume from my dearth of posting this last week, things have been pretty busy. I've been bent over my books a little more than usual and what free time I do have has been spent multitasking between quality time with GF and catching up on a little reading. Now it is time to start my outlines, so good-bye to that little bit of reading I was able to do until now.

There was a lawyer I knew a little before I started law school (in fact she wrote one of my recommendation letters,) and I always used to wonder how she managed to do it all. She was involved in so much.

Now I know: Those people that can't cut it don't survive law school. Part of the trial by fire is that you have so much to do and you must try not to lose your sanity on top of it (which means time with friens and family and other downtime.) If you can't learn how to work hard and use your time like it's a buffalo, you're gonna burn out mighty quick.

It's a growth experience.

Farmer's Market

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Gotta love it. I spent about $40 on Friday, but it was fabulous. I ended up with a lot of corn, good and cheap, as well as some other miscellaneous fruits and vegetables. I got myself a loaf of flaky and delicious pesto bread for the weekend and (the expensive part) half a bushel of fresh roasted chilis. My freezer is now stocked. I'll probably make another trip down there right as they're finishing up and try to get a full bushel and overload my freezer before the season ends.

Needless to say, I ate like a king this weekend, with fresh corn and fried eggplant. Mmmm.

From the Assignment:

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"Similar reasoning applies to appellants' assertion that the language of conveyance created a fee simple subject to a condition subsequent. A fee simple subject to a condition subsequent is a fee simple estate in land that gives the grantor a discretionary power to terminate the grantee's estate after the happening of a stated event, not certain to occur. (citations omitted)" Wood v. Board of County Commissioners of Fremont County, 759 P.2d 1250 (Wyo. 1988).

Welcome to my hell. The sad thing is that I think I'm actually understanding it.

Chess and Law School

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So I promised an entry today, and dammit that's exactly what I'm going to give you. As the name implies, today we're going to talk about chess and law school.

"Chess and law school!?" you may ask, "How long have you been studying today? Clearly enough to be delusional!"

Not so. You may be surprised, but there are a lot of similarities between chess, and I mean competitive chess, and the study of law.

First just a little bit of background. I do know a little about competitive chess. It has been a bit of a hobby, off and on, for about the last five or six years. While I enjoy it a lot, I'm not actually that good, relatively speaking. Basically, that means that I can beat most casual players, but I end up in the *ahem* lower half of the rankings when in competitions. So, here's how chess and the study of law go together (note to the masters of either: Yes, I've oversimplified.):

  • Pattern Recognition: Chess is all about recognizing patterns. If you ask the masters about what makes a successful player, this will pop up somewhere in the list. It's not really about "seeing ahead" or anything, because studies show that Grandmasters only see a move or two ahead of the novice. The difference is that the master has played so many games that s/he can see various patterns in the pieces that s/he has seen many times before.

    Law is similar. In the case of law, though, you're looking for patterns in the reasoning. You're looking for the logical progression from the current law and arguments to the result reached by the court (though sometimes it seems to work backwards, but that's a different post.) The bottom line is that the way you learn both is by learning patterns.
  • Case Studies: For those not familiar with law, the way one learns it is by studying the cases that have gone on before (at least in the common law system; I don't know about others). The idea is that you learn how to apply legal reasoning through repeated exposure of actual cases.

    Now guess how you learn chess? That's right, you study games that were played in the past. By repeated exposure, you learn how to think about chess (see above) while simultaneously learning the practice of chess.
  • Concentration: I got home from the law school at 9pm tonight, and tonight was not particularly unusual. I arrived at the school at about 7:40am and only had two classes today. My study time consisted of painstakingly digesting cases and (for writing) struggling to apply some of the principles that I had learned. The concentration is involved can only be understood by someone who has waded through Finnegan's Wake, by James Joyce (and I have considerable sympathy for you people. Especially the ones who, through sheer force of will, understood it.)

    Now chess games, in competition, must have a time limit. This is theoretically to ensure that the games do not go on forever. "A time limit," you may say. "That doesn't sound so bad." Not so. Typical competition chess games range from four to six hours. No kidding. And it's not uncommon to have two games per day in a tournament, though not at a championship level. The level of concentration involved is astounding, especially considering you're constantly trying to outplay your live, human, and probably-as-smart-as-you opponent. My first tournament, I played three games the first day. I went back to the hotel room about 9 pm and barely escaped my clothing before falling asleep, sans dinner. As much as it might seem like it, the casebook doesn't think back at me.
So, there it is, three good reasons that chess is like the study of law. I'd even go further and suggest that anyone considering law school begin the study of chess in earnest. It can only help.

One last update, you'll notice that I added the electoral vote predictor icon. It will update daily, so check it out. The main site also has an RSS feed, as does this one.

Speaking of Word

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I'm afraid my built-in dictionary in MS Word is just not capable of processing legal things. I've been adding an awful lot of words to it lately. Words like 'Assumpsit' and 'Lessor'. I wonder if there's some kind of legal add-on pack? Wouldn't that be nice?

Anyway, I had previously bought for myself a little 'thumb drive', something like this. I'm finding it to be the most wonderful little gadget, particularly when I needed to print something out from the law school PC lab. In goes the flash drive and out comes my hard copy. Very nice. Now, I've figured out how to put shortcuts on my desktop that will automatically open my explorer window to the particular folder I want.

It may not sound like much, but it's the little time savers that really make computers a pleasure to work with. Well, ok, the big time savers too.

Tomorrow, I'll have my Big Important Post about why chess is the perfect preparation for law school. Stay tuned!

I'm learning

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So Iíve been in law school for two weeks now, and Iíd like to think that my money (or rather that the bankís money) is actually doing something. So Iíll demonstrate a little something that Iíve learned from law school.

Brief background (known before law school): Our system of laws are based partially (to a great degree) on prior court decisions. What courts have said in the past you normally have to go with.

With that under your belt, understand that in law school, what they do is look at court opinions and it is supposed to show how the courts reason and where the successful arguments develop.

Generally, the idea is that thereís precedent, thereís an argument and the court follows logic to reach the decision.

Hereís what Iíve learned in law school: that the aforementioned process is a farce to a large degree. In reality, judges seem, in about 3/4 of cases, to come up with their conclusion and then making the logic fit their decision. This is particularly illustrated by the decision in Keeler v. Superior Court. Socially, politically, ideologically and otherwise I agree with the decision, but logically itís a bit weak.

Not that Iím getting cynical or anything.

Library Problems

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Ok, so I can't find a place in the library that actually has a reasonable temperature. So far everything is either too hot or too cold. To top it off, the wireless in the area I was in kept blinking out at random. I'm going to try another location next time, though it's not at a table, to see what's going on. I could deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous homeostatic controls if I had the tools necessary to do my work.

And for those who wonder why I need an internet connection when I am, after all, studying out of a book, that would be a good point were it not from the fact that I use the online Westlaw and LEXIS tools pretty frequently. Often in the discussion portions of my casebook there are other cases referenced as examples of different topics and its nice if I can at least look up the cases and skim them.

Anyway, I have eaten a total of two slices of bread today, so I'm going to get some chow. Later.

Okay, so who really expects that when they leave a nice shiny red bullhorn sitting around that no one will play with it? Really. And what's a little siren first thing in the morning? It certainly gets the blood pumping, I've been told. If they didn't want me to push the siren button, they shouldn't have left the bullhorn just sitting around at the Circulation desk. I mean, it was just calling my name.

Did you know that a siren makes people run really fast? Even when they've just barely dragged themselves in to work, and haven't even had their coffee.

Well, I didn't get into any trouble, really. One of the higher ups came in and said, "I heard that siren and thought, Stella's here." Yup. So, in case you're wondering, I'm feeling a bit better. Not 100% yet, but much better. I'm back to my old tricks. Unfortunately, they have now hidden the bullhorn.

Milo, R.I.P.

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Ok, so the promised story of Milo. I mentioned below that my betta (fish), Milo, was sick. He has been for a while, but we were trying some things to make him feel better. None of these seemed to work, as I somewhat expected. The problem is that dropsy is really a symptom and not a disease in itself, which meant it could really be caused by any number of things. It had become clear that he was in pain and he was having trouble getting around, so yesterday I euthanized him using the freezer method, which is supposedly one of the most humane ways, lacking any medications.

I'm really sad to see him go, but the rest of my fish are doing fine and I may get another betta in the future.

Anyway, back to law school stuff, we had our little organizational showcase this afternoon where different organizations got up and talked about what they were and what they did. I already knew I wanted to be part of the Women's Law Forum and that I'd like to do all kinds of trial competitions. I've already started being active in the Law Students for Equal Justice club. The only real debate is that I'm thinking of joining a legal fraternity and there are two available.

One is Phi Delta Phi, and I have to admit that I'm drawn to the stated goals of increasing the professionalism and ethics of the legal profession. Something fairly serious and visionary appeals to me. The other group is Delta Theta Phi, which seemed, at least on this campus, to be more of a social, party, let's have fun kind of thing. I'm not generally into having fun.

I could just not do either, but there are some benefits to membership in either one of these groups. I admit that I could use some input from people, particularly those who have experience with either of these two groups.

Republican Word

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So I'm briefing the case Sweatt v. Painter et al., and I was entering Counsel's names. For those that weren't aware, this is a case in which Thurgood Marshall, future Brown counsel and justice of the US Supreme Court, took part. I put in his name and MS Word naturally hilighted it as a possible misspelling. Curious as to what the suggested correct spellings might be (his name at birth was Thoroughgood, but he shortened it as a child), I took a look. Well, to my surprise, guess what one of the alternate spellings was? Go on, guess!


How's that for irony. Even moreso for anyone familiar with the desegregation struggles in this country (USA).

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