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I had my last final yesterday, and now I am halfway done with law school.

Thank god, because, this seriously, was a kind of horrible semester. (I’m also at the psychotically hormonal stage of PMS, so… there’s that. Fair warning, and all.)

First, I had knee surgery a week before classes started. I spent the first month pretty much stoned on vicodin, and the rest of the time trying to catch up. As a rule I do not suggest this. (I also wrote two papers for my summer classes while high off my ass. It was a little awesome.)

I also lost my job at unnamed large bookstore because I dared to need time off to heal from some surgeon sticking crap in my knee and fucking around to make to work better. That sucked. A lot.

I spent an unreasonable amount of time at physical therapy.

I was not able to go to taekwondo ALL SEMESTER which is horrible, because the stress relief is the best thing ever.

My classes were, by and large, annoying. For those of you following me on Twitter, you saw some of the temper tantrums about adminstrative law, which was THE WORST THING EVER, or an annoying topic in legal writing. I never bitched about Wills Estates and Trusts because… well, there was nothing to bitch about, but it was SO DULL. Evidence was fun, and Wrongful COnvictions was fun, but both were SO. MUCH. WORK. Wrongful Convictions was a 2 credit class and usually had about 150 pages of reading, and the final paper was 20 pages, end notes, and… well I got more and more crazy as I was trying to finish the damn thing and we got to the point that I’d quoted both World War Z and Babylon 5, and said that prosecutors fucking up was why we couldn’t have nice things.

AND THAT WAS ME RESTRAINING MYSELF.

I did miss having the entire section together.

So it was a lot of work, and after coming from a graduate program which was All Crime, All the Time, and thus All Things I Gave a Shit About, having all the things that I didn’t give a shit about is hard. Next semester will be better- it’s Almost All Crime, All the Time.

So we got to the point where there’s finals to study for and I was kind of frantic, and stressed out, and not having much of my regular outlets for stress relief and some interpersonal shit that kind of boiled over right at the end just made everything worse.

However, it was not all bad.

I have been writing romance novel reviews for Smart Bitches who love Trashy Books, and people seem to like them. (Yup, I love romance novels. It’s true.)

I really did love Evidence, for all my bitching about hearsay.

My knee is doing very well, for all my bitching about that.

I discovered that if I take an antihistamine, I can drink beer. This is a new development and very welcome.

So there’s that. The semester is over, and I, for one, am very glad.

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My roommate made an appeal to the Twitterverse for happy things after a day of RAAAAAAAAGE.

Someone sent her this (watch it with sound, there’s a song):

So we’ve spent the past thirty minutes occasionally breaking into choruses of “BABY MONKEY! BABY MONKEY! RIDING ON PIIIIG BABY MONKEY!”

Then she said, “This is so awesome, it should be ILLEGAL.”

I said, “no.”

“No?”

“NO.” The the part of me that has an admin law final in TWELVE HOURS said, “The notice and comment period at the FDA? That would be fucking INSANE. Because baby monkey. and there could be no coherent rule promulgated about that.”

There was a pause, and then she said, “You’re annoying.”

“You love me.” (and she does. I saved Christmas last weekend. And I feed her duck soup sometimes.)

“Those are not mutually exclusive things.”

Life with a law student in the throes of finals crazy.

(She is now trying to find something to mash up the Baby Monkey song with.)

I’m trying to get a good chunk of my Wrongful Convictions paper done (how inquisitorial systems of justice deal with some of the major factors that cause wrongful convictions in the US adversarial system). So naturally I thought I’d write a blog post instead.

Today’s topic is friends outside of law school.

I came to law school six years out of college, and two years out of grad school. I do historical re-enactment with the SCA, and that is where the bulk of my non-law school friends are from. I also have a group of friends from my tae kwon do school (who I haven’t seen is FAR TOO FUCKING LONG) and internet friends from all over the place- some local, some not. I also have a kick-ass roommate who is not involved in this law school crap at all. More about that in a bit.

And for real, I could not be doing the law school thing without them. The thing with law school is it eats your brain. And your life. And being able to go to people who knew me Before, and are not involved means I can go out with them and not be a law student for a little while. (That doesn’t stop me from practicing cross-examination skills on them, or discussing the various forms of hearsay exclusions, but they politely let me ramble or just say “Red, your mouth is moving. You might want to see to that.”)

Having the internet and social media has helped a great deal, too. I know what’s going on with them, even if I don’t have time to actually spend TIME with my friends. My posting has gone way down on Livejournal and Facebook (but not Twitter- though Twitter is the Law Kid’s Support Group, so….), but I at least skim.

It’s very easy to lose yourself into the morass of law school, and if you’ve moved to a new city where all you know is your classmates, it’s hard to not go out with them and just eat each other’s stress. I absorb other people’s stress- it’s very annoying. When I came back after Thanksgiving break and had lunch with some of my classmates, I came back home a stressed out mess and my roommate was like, “….you were FINE until you went back to school.”

Oh, empathy.

Anyway, while it is important to keep your old friends, they won’t always understand why you can’t hang out, or why you’re a bundle of stress, or why you keep muttering about all that Pennoyer crap, or why Palsgraf is a stupid case. Some people will get mad and take it personally, when really it’s just an artifact. But they probably would have gotten mad no matter what you did with your life. So it is important to also have friends who know what the hell is going on with you.

I know my section last year really came together after the Contracts fall final- it was horrendous and the essay didn’t seem to have a THING to do with what we had learned. And going to the bar afterwards was really a time of bonding – I wrote in my LJ that, “Here’s the weird thing (or maybe not so weird) after the post traumatic exam bar run, we’re like, all besties now. People who I didn’t think knew my name were letting me huff their drinks and fist bumping as I left. It was kind of awesome.” (and the hungover faces in the library the next morning were also kind of funny).

(One thing I love about my friends- law school and non-law school alike, is that they are mostly used to and very tolerant of my grabbing their drinks, taking a big huff, and giving them back. Last night at Bar Review, I did that to someone new, and impressed him that I was able to identify the beer he was drinking straight off. heh.)

The thing that’s great about my roommate not being in law school is that when I come home, I only have to deal with what ever I bring with me. Sure, her life is crazy, and she has her own stresses, but having “home” and “school” be two very distinct places is enormously helpful. (That’s also one reason I generally try to not study at home, and when I do, never in bed. Bed is for sleeping and bed-related activities. Studying is not a bed-related activity.) She will also listen to me blather, and sometimes I study by explaining things to her and she’ll nod politely, ask questions, and declare that Pennoyer is a stupid name. Which it is. And by explaining it, that means I understand it better.

I do compartmentalize my life an awful lot- to the point that there are different names involved with which group I’m with at any given time (though “Red” tends to cut across all boundries). And even though I would much rather be at an SCA event right now, I really should get cracking on this stupid paper.

Why I love Twitter

I know, it’s not cool to admit you love Twitter. But I do. And I’ll tell you why.

About a year ago, a co-worker and the former-but-no-longer (because how dare I take time off to recover from KNEE SURGERY- I’m such a needy bitch) bookstore job asked why on earth I had a Facebook AND a Twitter. Didn’t I just say the same things on both?

Well, no. I use them for very different purposes. Facebook is how I keep in touch with people who already know my name. Twitter I’ve been using (primarily) for law school commiseration with law students across the country. (I don’t use my real name in most of my internet interactions- I’m the only one, and easy to track down.)

I also use it for celebrity stalking. Once in a great while I’ll get a tweet back from someone I follow and make random replies to, but it’s rare. Now that I’ve been doing reviews on Smart Bitches, well, that’s gone up a tiny amount. But I still have not gotten a reply back from Russel Crowe or Nathan Fillion.

Oh well.

Anyway, back to the law school commiseration thing. Early in my 1L year, I was whining about something inconsequential (as 1Ls are wont to do), and I got followed by LegalGeekery. Which lead me to laura Bergus, and on and on until I was following a small bunch of law students, including Huma_Rashid (who is fucking awesome) and her law skool BFF, BobBlahBlawg (who is awesome in his own, somewhat creepy way). And through them I fell in with Lawschoolninja, and Jose3tx, and NevilleM. Then there’s the pack of ginger law students (at last count, I think there’s five of us?). And then my circle expanded to include actual grown up attorneys, like Schantzlaw and Mirriam71.

And a number of us have blogs, which is great. I really like reading Mirriam and Marcus’ blogs because they are both doing what I want to do when I grow up (if I survive this exam season) (which is looking doubtful), which is criminal defense work. And they are both funny, thoughtful people who will, upon occasion, pat us law kids on the head and tell us we will survive.

But the real fun of twitter is when we’re all trying to study, but want to procrastinate. Last night, @obxlaw, the self proclaimed grumpy old man lawyer who wants the kids off his lawn and tell us that we’re young whippersnappers or something, tweeted about bidding on Carribean vacations, and someone should help him. I said he shouldn’t do that unless he was going to take all the law kids with him, and made sure the law kids that follow him were in on the message. Things kind of exploded after that (Mik called top bunk, Huma said we should all get puppies, Obxlaw tried to say he didn’t know ANY of us), but it was a great procrastination tool for a couple of hours.

The funniest thing that has EVER happened is I was in Evidence one day. Our SBA had organized a food drive, where if we brought in a can and had it sitting in front of us during class, we had immunity from getting cold called. Our Evidence prof, who is, in fact, awesome, knew that he still needed there to be a way to get us involved, and if scaring the crap out of us with cold calling wasn’t on the table, bribery totally was. So he said that for every person who volunteered an answer and also had a can, he would donate a dollar to the food shelf. He walked in that morning and pulled $100 out of his wallet and said “Okay. Ninety seven people in the class. Lets do this.”

So it did encourage people to at least try for answers that might not have done so otherwise, and at one point, one guy said, after flubbing his way through a question, “I feel like I’m on Fox News, getting money for saying stupid stuff.”

I thought that was pretty funny. So I tweeted it. Huma, in Chicago, also thought that was pretty funny, and retweeted it. Shannon, who I did not know at that time, said “HEY. That just happened in MY class.” So now we are all friends and will, upon occasion, tweet at each other from across the room (although I am not sure where she sits), or the lawbrary.

So that is why I love the twitter.

Pot roast!

So, for an example of food to make while you’re doing other stuff, today I am making pot roast in the crock pot. I have all these cookbooks, and I use them for ideas, but rarely really use the recipes. But Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is a good one for crock pot ideas.

My roommate got me some blue potatoes at the farmers market the other day, and I got a hunk of beef (a roast of some kind-the grocery store labeled it as “good for slow cooking!” and that was enough for me. 😛 ) and some veggies and went to town.

So:
1 white onion, handful of blue potatoes, parsnips, celery, mushrooms, garlic, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, salt, chunk of beef.

Slice the white onion, put in bottom of crock pot.
sear the beef in a par with hot olive oil
Chunk up the potatoes, parsnips, celery, and mushrooms if you didn’t get them presliced.
Throw it all in to the crock pot, pour the broth (I made 4 cups of bullion, because I had that already) and a couple glugs of worcestershire sauce. Add in the garlic, pepper, salt, and herbs.
Turn the crock pot on low for 8-10 hours, or high for…. 4? 5? Until the meat is done.

This should keep me in food for four meals.

Want a nickel’s worth of free advice?

Finals are coming up. For you 1Ls, it’s hellish. I won’t lie. It will suck. But you will survive.

First, study. Make sure you know your shit. If you haven’t figured out the best way to outline for you, it’s okay. A friend of mine last year said she wasn’t sure what worked best, so she tried “everything.” Then she wasn’t too happy with her performance at the end of the semester- I think she was working hard, but not working smart. She calmed down a bit in the spring and was much happier. The E&Es saved my ass in Contracts and Civ pro last year. Use them.

Second, relax a bit. Going into finals exhausted and burned out isn’t going to be helpful. There is plenty of time during finals for that.

Third, food. Try to eat as best you can. When we got into the final stetch last year, I got a huge food order delivered from Peapod, and spent a day listening to BarBri lectures on my Ipod while cooking several meals- I made a huge pot of chili, a lasagna, and bbq chicken in the crockpot. Kept me fed for the week and a half I did not have the time or energy to spend on cooking, and did not have the money to spend on takeout.

Fourth, exam week. GET SLEEP. All nighters will only kill you. I stop studying for the next day’s exam around sundown. As my grandfather said, “I always liked the nights before exams. I didn’t have to do anything.”

Fifth, the exams themselves. Most of my exams were mixed multiple choice questions and essays. I learned in the spring that the best method for me was the read the essay question first, jot down a few ideas, and then do the MCQs. Once i was done with them, I would then do the essay questions. That gave the essay time to percolate, I worked through the issue spotting on the subconscious, and I did a LOT better on my exams.

Now if you will excuse me, I have an Evidence outline to deal with.

First, full disclosure. I am geek. However, I am not very good at it. My friend @Liamstliam calls me “the least geeky geek he knows.” I don’t go to cons. I don’t like them. (I did go to WorldCon when it was in Boston, and while it was fun, it was not the $200 worth of fun the membership cost.) I don’t LARP (but do not preclude the possibility in the future, I’m a little busy right now. Forexample, right now I am avoiding my admin law reading), I don’t game, I don’t play video games (expensive, y’all), I don’t read that much hard scifi (prefer fantasy), I shower regularly, and I do my best to follow social graces (except when I don’t care).

What I do is historical re-enactment (I’m taking Law of the Ancient World because I love Roman history and it’ll translate into classes in the SCA realm), I read a LOT, I review romance novels, I like watching genre TV and movies, I am conversant in Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and Buckaroo Bonzai, I’m working on my second advanced degree, and I listen to Made of Fail, a geektastic podcast.

(If you’re wondering what the fuck-all this has to do with Little Red Riding Hood, hold your horses, we will get there.)

Two episodes ago on Made of Fail, the subject was “building the greater geek community.” Find other geeks, and you will see that you are not alone in loving Farscape, or being able to quote Buffy from start to finish. You can find people with similar interests, and some of them will become friends, and Wil Wheaton will lead us all into a era of hope and prosperity (I may have made that last bit up).

Last episode, some dingbat wrote in saying (and this is so paraphrased), “First, you can’t make a greater geek community because not everyone will like eachother and THAT IS BAD. So don’t try. Also, geek guys can’t even behaving themselves around eachother, and if you add women in to the mix, it will explode in MOAR ANARCHY, and that’s even worse and dangerous for the women. So Geek guys and geek girls should keep totally separate.”

First Dayna ripped him a new one- just because the ideal of a great geek community is just that, an ideal, doesn’t mean we should TRY to make friends and find other people who share our interests (and the fact that there are people who believe that if we can’t all get along then we shouldn’t ever try is another issue- see The Five Geek Social Falicies for more on THAT) . And then she laid into him on the “for the safety of the womens” argument, which is, as you know, crap.

It is also really fucking old.

Today on Twitter, Jake Adelstein (he wrote Tokyo Vice about his experiences working as a reporter in Japan, and the Japanese organized crime families. It’s REALLY good, and I highly recommend it) mused about the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and that it makes no damn sense. Which it kind of doesn’t. Because you have this kid, sipping through the woods, and this wolf shows up and is like “Where you are going?” and she tells him she’s going to Grandmother’s house, and he hops over to Grandmother’s house to lie in wait for the kid, rather than just eating the kid right then and there.

I pointed out that the original(ish) version was a metaphor for rape and forced seduction- the well-bred girl is lured into a house with a strange and evil man-thing, convinced to take off her clothes and throw them into the fire, and get into bed, when she is raped and then eaten. In Perrault’s version, the wolf wins. No one comes to save her. In some of the early oral traditions, she saves herself, if there’s any . It isn’t until the Brothers Grimm that the archetypical male savior comes along and saves both girl and grandmother.

(If, by any chance, anyone doing a google search on Little Red Riding Hood for the purposes of a research paper comes across this post, for fuck’s sake do your own research. This is cribbed heavily from Wikipedia and very much paraphrased, and very much a perfunctory blurb.)

Anyway, in his author notes, Perrault says the moral of Little Red Riding Hood is this:

From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner. I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition — neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!

Or: Young ladies shouldn’t go where there might be danger, because they cannot recognize danger. Not all men (wolves) are dangerous, but the ones that are a very bad.

Or: Geek girl should not go into where there are stupid, uncouth geek guys because the geek guys just can’t control themselves.

(See? Told you there was a point.)

So instead of a) teaching girls that danger exists and b) how to recognize it, and c) how to deal with it, we should instead not teach them anything, but keep them locked up and away from danger, is that it? Because if we teach them about the wider world, then they might (GASP) do things that are not on the list of “Approved Things For Young Ladies To Do” and they might Go Out and Have Fun and maybe even (HORRORS) Embrace Their Sexuality and then chaos reigns, cats and dogs sleeping together, rivers flowing backwards…

Or, to bring it back to the idiot who either is so concerned for the safety of women geeks that he thinks they should be segregated, geek men are so unsocialized that they can’t help but make things unsafe for women. Also crap. I don’t believe that’s true, that men have no control over their actions. Have there been cases when geekdom has been unsafe for women? Oh yes. But I don’t blame that on the culture of geekdom, I blame that on the rape culture in which we all exist, and I blame that on the individual men involved.

But I think that Moron’s view of “we must be separate for the safety of the women” isn’t based on anyone’s actual safety. I suspect he just hates women and doesn’t want us in his geekdom.

And that’s just too damn bad for him.

It’s my birthday, and I am 32 (that hurt to type a little. Ooof). What have I done today?

We talked about the Confrontation Clause in Evidence

I went to physical therapy.

I went to Wills, Estates, and Trusts.

And I am, as I type, avoiding my Administrative Law homework. I’m avoiding it because Admin Law is MY MOST HATED CLASS EVER and doing the reading ON YOUR BIRTHDAY surely violates the Eighth Amendment, right?

Right?

Shit.

Anyway, in better news, my left thigh is looking a lot less withered these days.

(And no, I did not drop trou to get these pictures – I am wearing gauchos with the legs pulled up.)

This is about a week and a half post surgery:

Withered thigh muscles. Sigh.

And this is this after PT this afternoon, 9 weeks, 2 days post surgery. (The red blotch is because we had just finished icing everything down and I have delicate, sensitive skin.) (I AM SO TOO A DELICATE FLOWER)

IMAG0073

See the difference? Less indented. Progress!

Anyway, I really need to get this Admin Law crap done, and I don’t want to. Or I could talk about the mock trial try outs.

Lets do that.

So the thing with the mock trial try out is that most of us are 2Ls, and we are in the middle of evidence. So we really don’t know evidence yet, or how to apply it that there was stuff getting admitted left and right that shouldn’t have (or objections that were totally missed- I had two question on my cross I was ready to withdraw, and no one called me on them).

Anyway, as best as we could, we did our job, and still didn’t get called back. Which is incredibly disappointing. (yeah, yeah, the work is its own reward, blah blah fucking blah, whatever. It’s disappointing!) So that’s that until the client counseling competition next semester.

(And I just resisted the urge to throw my Admin law book across the lawbrary. For all my bitching on Twitter about hating on idiots who talk in the lawbrary, I think that throwing a book across the room would be pretty bad too. But not worse.)

When last we checked in, my surgeon had cleared me to “go back to the gym” and I eyed him narrowly and said “…back?

I hate the gym. It’s so BORING. And expensive. And boring. And gyms are judge-y.

He asked what I wanted to do, and the answer is I want to get into training for my black belt test again, but that’s a no go since that requires the ability to pivot, which I cannot do until February.

So I am/was tearing my hair out with stircrazy frustration. However, the internet hive mind succeeded in finding a solution.

It’s a gym, and it’s boring, however, it’s dirt cheap ($10 a month, no commitment), and it’s on my way home from school, and it’s anonymous enough that I can hide in the corner, do my thing on the bike, and leave. Eventually I will work my way up to an elliptical (which I’ve never used and am a little intimidated by), but there is something nice about sitting on a bike for 25 minutes and listening to podcasts that have fuck-all to do with school (unless Legal Geekery has a new one, and even then that’s less about law school and more about crazy legal culture).

So now that THAT is all settled, I’m looking for a job to replace my stupid bookstore job (still really angry about that) and prepping for mock trial (did a practice run through of everything with my partner- my cross-ex is gonna be awesome) and getting through the rest of the semester (I hate Admin Law SO SO SO MUCH).

But I will be in DC on October 30th for The Rally to Restore Sanity, so that is something to look forward to.

Duck Soup

I like food. Food is lovely. Food also costs money, and my loans only go so far (and it appears that requiring knee surgery lost me my part time job in a bookstore, which I am really quite livid about. Three years and coming in for two months between injury and surgery WITH A TORN UP KNEE, and following the direction in the employee handbook was apparently not enough to keep the job. FMLA doesn’t apply, because I am…. was…? too part-time and didn’t work enough hours in the past 12 months), so foodie impulses are hard to realize.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I got the urge to cook a duck in the crockpot. Duck is yummy. Duck is ridiculously yummy. Duck is also not the cheapest poultry out there. But it’s so much yummier than a factory raised tasteless chicken. Duck can also be a little hard to find in conventional grocery stores.

My law school is not far from Boston’s Chinatown, and on the way to the T, there is the Chinese grocery store. I often buy veggies there, because they are insanely cheap. I figured that the odds of them having duck were pretty good, even as I was steeling myself to have to buy a duck with head attached. And they did! They had ducks with head, ducks with head and feet, and for a dollar more, a duck with no head and no feet. I decided the dollar was worth it. (I have helped slaughter and butcher chickens and rabbits. It’s one thing to accept that you have to deal with the head of chicken that you… you know what? It’s totally not logical, not at ALL, but I did not want to deal with head and feet. So I didn’t.)

So Sunday I bought the duck, and some potatoes, garlic, and a giant onion bigger than my fist. On Mondays, my first class is at 3 pm, so I assembled the duck in the crockpot before I left for the day.

Here is what I did:

Pull duck of out fridge to discover it’s still frozen solid. Put duck in a water bath in the sink to at least thaw enough to remove the giblets.
Chop potatoes into chunks, put in the bottom of the crockpot.
Chop up onion and the apple you already had.
Peel a small head of garlic
Pull out duck, pry loose the neck. Decide the remaining giblets (not in a plastic pouch) are not worth fishing for.
Shove as much onion, apple, and garlic in the duck as possible.
Put the duck in the crockpot.
Frown when the duck is still frozen enough that it won’t easily mush down to fit in the crockpot.
Twist the legs around so the fit better.
put the remaining apples and onions and garlic around the duck.
Put on lip, and then put a heavy book on top (Con Law is a good bet) to hold the lid down.
Turn on low, go to class.
Come home ten hours later to wonderful smelling apartment, make roasted asparagus, eat dinner of duck, asparagus, and potatoes that have roasted in duck fat.

Later that night, I pulled the rest of the easily gettable meat from the carcass, and put the carcass plus the leg and wing bones in the freezer to make soup later.

Later, by which I mean today. I made the stock Thursday night (take carcass, put in stockpot with a chopped onion, more garlic, bring to a boil, let simmer until bedtime, pull out the bones), and about two hours ago, I put the stock, which has a LOT of meat in it, diced potato, chopped leek, mushrooms and peas (and thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt) back in the crockpot and will have me some duck soup tonight.

So that comes to at least 7 meals (three from the initial roast, four I’m expecting from the soup) from $26 for everything. Not too bad.