Thursday, May 31, 2007

I am a Law Geek
Maybe this is obvious. Yesterday it really hit me though. I was having lunch, networking with two ALJs (Administrative Law Judges) from the Oregon Public Utilities Commission, and they were explaining how most people, not even their families understand what they do. (I will post the Wikipedia definition at the end of this post.) One of them says he used to say he was a laywer for the government, but he says that was like two strikes against him - "Oh, God, you work for the government and are a lawyer." It wasn't winning him points at cocktail parties...In my mind, however, I was saying, "Cool - a lawyer for the government!" It didn't strike me that most "normal" people may not think that sounds like a great job, and to me, an ALJ is an even more impressive job.

Yup, Law Geek, and as one of the people I was out with put it, a "Government Law Geek." Well, guess we all have to fit in somewhere. Perhaps I have found my niche :)
An administrative law judge (ALJ) in the United States is an official who presides at an administrative trial-type hearing to resolve a dispute between a government agency and someone affected by a decision of that agency. The ALJ is the initial trier of fact and decision maker. ALJs can administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make factual and legal determinations.[1] ALJ-controlled proceedings are comparable to a bench trial, but with simplified and less formal procedures.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Boys are Weird.
I love my son dearly - I really, really do. This weekend, however, I realized that apparently 5 is the age at which the reasons that girls think boys are weird become apparent. For instance, yesterday after playing a treasure-hunt/adventure game with said 5-year old, I told him it was time that I play with his sister, a 2-year-old girl. We started playing with a dollhouse, and he asked if he could play, too. Of course, I told him. Soon, our game of setting up furniture and putting the dog in the dog house, turned into sliding toys off the top of the doll house, and using pieces of furniture or action figures to totally destroy the contents of the house. His destructive tendencies were in fine form!

Later, we were playing with a wooden train set. We set up a track and all three of us were rolling trains along the track when suddenly - EARTHQUAKE! The entire track was being ripped apart as part of the game. I convinced my son he needed to leave his sister's part of the track alone so she could continue playing and he could do whatever he wanted with his part. The trains started crashing....a single piece of his sister's track was removed to see what the train crash would look like..etc. I thought to myself, "Oh, right - boys are weird." My son is weird. Still, I love him, and know we will do our best to allow him to be himself, play in the ways he needs to, while focussing and limiting the destructiveness as much as possible. I guess the challenge of two moms raising a boy are just beginning. So far, so good...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Welcome Home Family!!!

Figuring most people that read my blog also read my partner's, I neglected to reveal the very important fact that my wife and kids are now back at home, after 5 weeks away. It has been tough for us all, especially my wife, who was away from home to be with her dying mother. It is a time of loss and sadness, yet we are grateful she was able to be with her mom and family, where she really needed to be. Not all people are able to do this. I'm sure this has given her some sense of peace and "rightness," even as things seemed so wrong.

I'm glad she could go, but am happy now to have my family back home!

Welcome home, my sweet loved ones!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Retail Therapy - REI-Style

OK, so I mentioned last week that I was about to go on a shopping expedition. I did and it was so much fun! I'd not been to the local, and quite new, REI store, so having a gift certificate to spend was a perfect excuse. Now, we are not particularly big outdoors/camping/hiking kind of people. We camp occasionally, but not since having two kids. I have a desire to kayak - again, kids make it rather difficult. Biking - not so much. Still - there is SO MUCH at REI to look at - flashlights, backpacks, shoes, jackets, outdoor toys - TONS!

Here is what I finally decided upon - some things for me and something for the whole family to enjoy: A watch (I unofficially collect watches), a pouch (we are arguing that it is a purse, which it is not - it hold my wallet, keys and my cell phone for when I am meeting with folks all dressed up and have no appropriate pockets), and "Is that a hamster ball?" No - it is an ice cream maker! How fun will that be to kick around the yard with the kids?

Thanks to my gift certificate-giving friend! The experience was a welcome escape!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Exams are over, class schedule craziness and more...

I have just spent the better part of 5 hours studying and trying to piece together possible class schedule options for next year.

There are three possibilities I must take into consideration:

1) If I have the flexibility to take day classes, but can't get into the clinic I want to take because it is overloaded

2) If I have flexibility to take day classes and can take the clinic I want to take

3) If I have to take all night classes because I'm in a new job that won't allow me flexibility of taking a day class/clinic

So, I've been trying to fill in all the options, get the right numbers of credits, manage conflicting class times, make sure I am getting the classes I need to earn the Environmental Law Certificate, plus balance it out with Bar subjects, blah, blah, blah. I've about got it worked out, but there are no contingencies for NOT getting into any of my desired classes. So, I have to get in to everything I want to take.

As you may have figured out, I still do not know if I will continue to have a job where I currently work. Maybe they will tell us next week. In the mean time, I am networking my b*tt off! I am asking everyone I know if they know anyone in the environmental field that might know of any open positions, or just who know a lot of people to whom they could refer me. I am hoping to find a job similar to a project coordinator, possibly working with contracts...anything to get some experience in the field. A law clerk job would be good, but it would need to pay at least $20/hour and I understand those positions are hard to come by. Even that wage would hurt our family income, though not as much as being unemployed. I could do it if I worked 40 hours rather than 32.

I'm avoiding the hard stuff here, the issues I have no control over - the family issues. My partner's mother passed away last Friday. She went peacefully, after what had been a rather rapid decline over the last few months, and a very rough last month. It is sad, but given the circumstances, everyone is relieved she is finally at peace. The funeral will be this Saturday.

My dad is declining....well, they are trying to get him stable enough that he can go live with my sister for a time, until he needs a higher level of care. Dealing with the Medicaid system, and the docs and nurses employed by such, is proving very frustrating for my sister who is the one trying to navigate it. Now that finals are over, and my family will soon be home (Yeah!), I can hopefully help out some, at least by making some phone calls, or helping her organize her thoughts and questions. She is overwhelmed, out of her own environment, frustrated, and sad. I think she is having a hard time right now being an effective advocate. It is always easier to see things clearly from a distance, where you can step away from the harsh realities of "the system" and the fact that your loved one is dying.

On that happy note....

No, wait, I really can't leave it like this. OK - happy thoughts:

FINALS are OVER!! I am officially a 3rd year law student!
I will get to be at home with my family for dinner every night, and tuck the little ones in bed every night!
Summer is arriving and the beautiful weather is so uplifting!
I am about to sneak out and see if I can spend the gift certificate for REI that a wonderful friend gave me for my birthday. I told her I'd be doing some retail therapy once finals were over. Now is my chance!

Happy Weekend everybody! (I leave for Seattle in the morning, so it is almost like my weekend.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

One down – two to go!

I took my Admin Law final last night. I feel good about it. I did not stare blankly at the page wondering what the heck to write, so that is always good. I do have a theory though that almost everyone leaves most finals feeling pretty good. Most of us do well… it is hard to have a good sense of if you did better than most or about the same. Oh, well. I did my best and now I’m on to the next. I will take Evidence and Con Law II next week.

So, where the heck have I been? Life has gotten crazy. For those of you who read my partner’s blog, you already know. Her mother is dying so she has been living in a hotel with our kids up near Seattle for the past three week so she can be close to her mom. It’s a total roller coaster ride, and not the fun kind. The kids and her are SO READY to be home, it is draining and sad and exhausting. The only good parts are that she is able to be with her brother and sister and all experience this together and they have really helped out a lot with the kids. Her brother’s girlfriend has been wonderful with them, trying to keep them occupied while Casey is with her mom, and accompanying them on fun outings, like to the Science Center. Of course, the kids, especially the little one, won’t let Casey out of their site for long, so it is all still very much a challenge.

I go up and visit on weekends. We all miss each other very much.

A week into this I found out the department where I work is being eliminated and my job may or may not remain. Great timing.

Later that day, I found out that my dad has been hospitalized and has terminal cancer.

WHOA! Enough! Done with bad news now.

At least Dad is up within about 15 minutes from Casey’s mom, so that is working out well to visit him when I go up on the weekends.

I was pretty shaken for a bit, but hey, I have to move on with life, right?

So, I am acting as if my job will go away, and contacting everyone I know that might know people that work in the environmental field – sustainability, alternate energy sources, regulation compliance, green spaces, anything! I figure it is time to get some relevant experience. I plan to specialize in environmental law – and will either practice or do administration when I graduate. I think working for the EPA would be fun. Anyway, if YOU know of anyone in the PDX area who might be looking for a project coordinator, or a legal clerk (legal experience would be good, too!), or a combination of administrative and legal work – please let me know!

Ideally, I will get a great job offer and find out that my current job will remain as is. I LOVE choices!

To all my law student friends – good luck on finals and have a great summer!