Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Exchange at Walmart

I'm at the pharmacy counter, being all but fingerprinted in the process of buying pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (sudafed). We get to the part where I have to sign a contract on a computer screen, and the pharmacist says, "When you sign that, you're just saying you won't start a meth lab in your basement." I said, "If I knew how to build a meth lab, I'd be in an entirely different field." She said, "Oh. You must be at the law school."

Quote of the Day

"I just think [men] wearing women's accessories should be less critical of expanding personal liberties." ~R.S.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Enjoy the Ride

One week down, thirteen to go. And they will go quickly. To help me stay organized and save time, I bought a new MacBook (my old pc laptop died a lingering death after only two years), organizing software, and a "pocket pc" telephone with wi-fi and autosync (will upload your calendar to the big server in the sky, the one you can't misplace or douse with coffee).

After my fifth "pocket-pc" telephone malfunction (only one was verifiably my fault, if you think you shouldn't be able to drop a phone from one foot off the ground and still have it work) I sold the phone for cash and went back to my $10 cheapie model that just sends text messages and has a little "nap's over" alarm. I'm thinking about moving on to iPhone, if the rumors about gPhone aren't true. Why? Because for $99, I purchased 52 lessons from Apple - once a week, they will sit down with me for an hour and answer all of my questions about any of their products, including how to use the software. I get to sit down and ask a human being "How do I do this? And how do I do this? And then what about this?" If I only schedule one session every two weeks, that's still about $3.80 per hour. They are going to lose a lot of money on me with that one. I accidentally locked myself out of one of my calendars, so I'm really looking forward to my next lesson this Sunday.

So I also bought "mindmapping" software, available at At the student price, it was worth it - it's designed to create, in nice colors and typed fonts, all the stream of consciousness mapping I'm used to doing on napkins, the backs of paper placemats, and occassionally newsprint and butcher paper. It just looks more legitimate when you can reproduce it on a computer and spit it out of a printer. I need to figure out how to use it. The company has free "webinars" on how to use the product - but I can't get the webinars to work. I'll call them on Tuesday to iron that out. As it was, I spent Friday morning on the phone with both the Mac and the software sales people trying to figure out where the software hid after I purchased and downloaded it onto my laptop. Apparently, I had also thrown out the software before I installed it. Now I know that downloading and installing are two separate actions/ phenomena.

It will be years before the time I save using these tech tools and organizing software will pay for the time I'm investing learning how to use them. And by then, it will be time to learn more software, for the tech tools that haven't yet been invented, which by then I will not be able to live without.

Speaking of electronica - I love my electronic evidence professor, Chief Judge V. He's a federal judge in the central district of Pennsylvania. He has a two-hour drive in from Scranton, PA. God love him for caring enough to do a four-hour round-trip drive to teach us once a week. Nationally, he's raised the bar and set standards for admission of electronic evidence and use of electronic equipment in courtrooms. He has an entirely pragmatic approach - he cares about and teaches what will actually make a difference, what really happens, and teaching us what we need to know to do what we will need to do, with competence.

My advocacy professor, Professor J, takes the same approach. I love her transparency and her focus on what actually makes a difference. She is self-effacing, highly qualified, minces no words and wastes no time. I love her. She was a federal prosecutor, then a public defender, and is currently a professor to undergraduate students at a local ("local" is anywhere in central Pennsylvania) state university.

At this point, I'm grooving on the adjunct professors. I think their exams are going to be a better fit with my real-life approach to exam taking. My sheer inability to force myself to give answers that work in theory despite their practical irrelevance has put me at a disadvantage on some exams. I chalk it up to a lack of academic diplomacy. I did way better maneuvering through the intricacies of practically applied international antitrust than I did through the academics of professional responsibility.

You may not be surprised to learn that in the field of law, Professional Responsibility has no inherent connection to morality. Its only claim to ethics is whatever fairness comes bundled with informed consent; not that they are intrinsic, but that sometimes, coincidentally in some situations, the latter creates a result that is ethical.

I am writing this from Enrico's Tazza D'oro (Enrico's cup of gold) in Highland Park, Pittsburgh. One week of classes under my belt, my Friday conciliation conference call was canceled (someone went into labor - the birthing kind), and Love and I needed some mending so I canceled my to-do list and Sopha and I hit the road. My first inclination was to meet her in Bedford and hand over Sophia (joint custody arrangement while in law school), but my asshole alarm went off, so I reconsidered and drove to Pittsburgh. Three hours, two coaching calls and one shitty text message (I sent it) later, we convened in the kitchen. Love was great with me, and my hardness melted away almost instantly. We had a great night and are in the midst of a fabulous weekend. Apparently I am not allowed to leave today, so I am pretending to get school work done in a favorite cafe while Love gets her ya-ya's out playing Ultimate. She'll make it up to me this afternoon.

The coffee at Enrico's is among the best in the city, but the best reason for coming here is that I always - always - run into someone I not only know, but am very happy to see and would like to catch up with. This is the only place on the planet I can say that about. (Yes, I know that each of the last two sentences ended in a preposition:

Today at the coffee shop I ran into FM, who earned a Ph.D. in statistics-something-or-other from CMU and now works for a big-name policy-wonk government funded research -paper producing non-profit. The conversation went like this: school > assholes are attracted to law school > we're all trying to please our parents > academic advisors and employers are functional stand-ins for parents > one's chosen profession can also compensate for parenting > applied statistics can compensate for parents who neglected the practical aspect of parenting (food, timeliness, clothing...) > theoretical statistics vs. applied statistics > balancing the theoretical with the practical > getting to the bakery before the bread is gone. She just came back carrying olive oil, but no bread. Life is random. Here, it is also beautiful.