Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mid-summer Wedding

Have I mentioned that Wife's brother is getting married the weekend after the bar? He is. His fiance has been planning this big "garden party" wedding for months now. The guests are expected to wear garden attire - but I take it that does not mean grubby shorts and gloves - I think I need to get some linen slacks and maybe I already have a shirt that will work, but I doubt it. I think just being upright at that point will be quite an accomplishment for me! I believe the bride and groom are wearing traditional garb - a tuxedo and formal wedding dress. There will be garden party games, lemonade and gardens for strolling. I'm sure it will be nice, plus a nice getaway for our family after the stress of the bar. We may take an extra day or two for ourselves before coming home from the festivities.

As for our kids, this is the big reference point for the summer - as in "After Uncles James' wedding, Mama will not have to go to school anymore!" Just one more month to go, and this will all be over!

Ramblings After Tax Law

Today I survived four hours of Income Tax law.

I just don't know what else to say about that.

Once all this law school/bar prep stuff is over and "normal life" begins, I am kind of worried about the stuff I am going to find out needs attention/repair/replacement at home. After about the first year or two of law school, Wife realized she could not really count on me to come home and take care of home repair stuff because there simply was not time, so she took care of most things by either doing them herself or calling a repair person. I noticed the other day how loose the faucets are in the kids' bathroom. I think I was notified of this problem over a year ago. I suspect new ones will be in our future. They don't need to be Danze faucets, though they could be....so long as they are new! Let's just hope we can wait and do this on our own time schedule and not that of the household gremlins! I think the humans of our household could use the attention first!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Simulated Exam Day

Today in BarBri review we did one performance exam and six essay questions. I was dreading it and not sure it would be a good use of my time since I've not studied some of the early subjects for weeks now. I imagined I might look at the questions and remember nothing. I did not dread it so much that it caused me to study on family day, or wake up early to study, or anything like that. I didn't even dread it enough to bail out. I suppose "dread" was not the correct word. Maybe it was simply causing me apprehension. (..of immiment, harmful offensive contact? Was I assaulted?) Nonetheless, I went, stuck out the whole day, and am glad I did.

I think overall, I did fairly well. I know I forgot a few buzzwords and an element here and there, but mostly, I actually remembered quite a lot. It was really good to see that I've actually learned a lot of the past four years - and clarified it over the past four weeks. Today was about trying, sitting for nearly the length of time of one of our "real days" will be, and seeing where we are right now. I don't know when we will get the feedback, but am hoping I have achieved or am close to achieving "minimal competence" in at least most of the subjects covered today.

After the simulated exam, I was fairly tired, and an hour or so later came down with a non-simulated headache. Eye-strain, I think mostly. Anyway, I am putting in my hours at work, minus this little posting diversion, and will actually get home relatively early to see Wife tonight. No homework tonight since we already put in a grueling, but well spent day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Thoughts from the Roller Coaster

"Oh my gosh this is insane! There is too much to learn. Too much pressure. Not enough time. Can't breath...."

"Calm the #%$?# down."

"OK, better. Bar schedule day is not so bad. I get to sleep in an hour later than work/law school life - way back before May. I see Wife and kids every morning. I take the dogs for a walk every morning and sometimes one or both kids comes with us."

"Dogs - I know you want to go for a walk. I told you we were going. We've done this routine for nearly 5 weeks now and every time we do not go until I have eaten my breakfast, brushed my teeth and gone to the bathroom. It does not help to whine, nor does it speed up the process for you to come into the bathroom with me and put your paw on my hand (boxer trait). I am perfectly capable of going to the bathroom by myself."

"BarBri lecturers - I do appreciate your attempts at humor, whether successful, or not. I appreciate the funny sayings, the songs, the mnemonic devices, and anything you can do to keep the information coming at a good pace while not boring me into a coma."

"Wife, I am teetering on the edge right now, and am sorry that I sometimes lose it over stupid things like letting the neighbor boy join us for dinner. Any little thing can throw the whole tower off balance, you know? Fixing one more plate and dealing with another human being seemed like a lot at the time. It was not, it ended up nice, and the kids all had fun."

"Coconut margaritas from Applebee's are really good and I may have to make my own."

On that happy note....I will soon be off to study....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hanging on the Bar

I decided I should do a quick post tonight in the event that I am actually bored to death during tomorrow's contract lecture. I am suffering through a series of three lectures (the longest set we have) and they are all 3 1/2-4 hours long. Contracts is just not that entertaining, nor is the lecturer, who I am sure is perfectly competent, but won't win an Entertainer of the Year award. Today was day two of this series. This has been our first set on video only. I know now that I STRONGLY prefer a live person, even when they are somewhat annoying.

Today the sun was out. This is good as the cloud cover has had me seriously contemplating the California Bar - though my classmates are encouraging that I make the switch to Hawaii. Somewhere where the weather will not cause me to commit any of the various criminal acts that we are studying.

OK - back to Torts essays.....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oddly Calm

Over the past couple of days I have been feeling oddly calm. I had a day or two that I was a little manic, and people at work were beginning to worry about my sanity, but then it was over.

I have taken in the advice from one of our lecturers about having a positive attitude, and thinking of bar prep and taking the bar as something I *GET* to do, not something I *HAVE* to do. If I really stop and think about it, there are a lot of people who want to go to law school that never get in. I think our school admits about 10% of all applicants. I was fortunate to get to go to law school, and really, I frequently took note of that. Now, I *GET* to take the bar exam. (Convinced, yet? I almost am.)

Also, reading another blogger's post about calming down made me laugh and was right on the mark. I don't have the link right here, but go look under comments to my posting entitled: Pep Talk from the Bar Review Folks.

Anyway, I am feeling pretty good right now, and right now is all we really have. Good enough.

So, now that Boy Wonder has had his last day of First Grade and it is officially summer, the rain has started, and it is supposed to stick around for a while. Great. The good part is it means we don't have to water the lawn and gardens.

Wife and I both hate messing around with the hose and sprinklers. Such a pain! Maybe someday we will have in-ground sprinklers, or some kind of cool recycled water watering system. For now, we have a hose with a sprinkler, we move it around the yard as needed, and wind up at the end of the day. BUT WAIT!! Look at this really cool thing I just found:

It is a No Crank Water-Powered Hose Reel. How cool does that sound? It uses stored up water power to reel the hose back in when you are ready. I am thinking this sounds like a huge amount of fun - and not just because it would be funny to watch the dogs chase the hose as it is winding itself up. I hate hassling with winding up the hose. I usually end up wet, or dirty, or the wound-up hose looks like a complete mess because I somehow have managed to wind against the natural curves of the hose...UGH!

For the last couple years we had a flat fabric-like hose that wound up inside a case....or rather, *I* wound them up inside the case. I often had to do it more than once, because if the hose doesn't quite wind right, or too much water is still in the hose, you have to start over or it won't all fit on the reel. It decomposed right off of its fittings this year, so we had to go buy a new hose and a rack to store it on at the side of the house. We'd considered a reel, but wasn't sure what would work well, or how it would fit by our house. Now that I see this No-Crank device, I think this would be the one to buy. I can just see myself at the end of the day, flipping the switch and happily watching the hose wind itself up as I sip the last of a cool, refreshing adult beverage. It's even on sale at Buy.com - a $10 rebate is available. If anyone knows anything about these fun-looking reels, let me know. Who doesn't love a fun yard gadget?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer's Here for Boy Wonder

Boy Wonder is officially a Second Grader!

As you can see if you check Wife's blog, he has had a very exciting day and is thrilled to be a big Second Grader. His grades were excellent and he has been placed in the accelerated class for next year. He is so proud, and of course, so are his moms. It doesn't seem very long ago that we were bouncing him around in a Baby Bjorn and singing him to sleep. (OK, truth be told, we sometimes still do that last one.)

Now it is on to summer fun for Wife and the kids. Days of blow-up pool fun, ice cream cones, day camp, reading on the patio, patio furniture covers, and when I am home, we'll light up the barbecue, and probably have some great nights spent in the tent set up in the backyard. (Some of those mornings I'll be rushing off to bar review for the day, but hey- get your fun where you can.)

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pep Talk from the Bar Review Folks

Yesterday during our bar review class, we got a "pep letter." It is sort of a "we know you are going crazy and want to kill yourself, but don't" message. It was kind of nice to know this is the point that we will all start feeling crazy, and losing our glasses, or our minds, or something equally valuable.

I am feeling somewhat stressed, and I know that it will get crazy, but will all be OK in the end. I'm mostly OK, but have started hearing my co-workers say - "You need to get some sleep," and "You are fun when you are stressed." Sad part is, I AM getting sleep. My mind just doesn't really have a lot of room to focus well on anything but bar subjects, and even those are still very out of focus. At least everyone knows, in theory, what I am going through and I don't think the expectations are particularly high right now for my daily functions.

In only 7 short weeks, I will be returning to my normal life, or rather, I will be discovering what the heck normal even looks like. "Normal" may be a constantly changing thing for a while....normal for during law school, normal for bar review, normal before I have a new job, normal for after I find a new job. Who said "The only thing constant is change."? True enough.

Who knows? A few short months from now, I could be starting a new job with new responsibilities, new routines to figure out, new co-workers, new health insurance and a return of premium life insurance, along with a host of other benefits. I will NOT be going to school at night - or in the morning. I will be coming home at night to see my family.....or maybe working late because it is a new job paying the big bucks that will help repay those darn student loans...I repeat, who knows?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Help! I Have Bar Brain!*

Today I lost my glasses.

Last night at 9:00 when I left work, where I study at nights, I had them. I know because I use them to read, and was reading as part of my study plan. (Osmosis seems unlikely to work.) This morning, when I went to get my glasses out of my bag to read in the parking lot prior to class, they were not there.

Now, normally, when I am done studying, I put my glasses in their case, which sits on my desk, then they go into my book bag. Therefore, they should have been there this morning. They were not. I used my old pair, which I still had with me because I just recently transitioned to new ones, figuring my new ones must be on my desk at work. When I arrived at work, there they were not.

I searched all over my work area, in my drawers, the workroom, the bathroom, called wife and had her check all over the house, I searched the car three times, and my book bag countless times. I asked my co-workers. I almost asked our maintenanc man who was chatting in our lobby. I even checked the ground near yesterday's parking spot, halfway expecting to find a sad, squashed blue case with what remained of my glasses, but no.

I finally decided I would have to give up the search, start work, and hope they found their way to a Lost and Found over the next few days. That is when I checked an overhead storage bin in my file cabinet. It is a space I do not even open once per week. There sat my glasses, in their case, safely tucked away.


It was good that I had put them away. Why at 9:00 last night that had seemed like the appropriate place to put them, I have no idea.

Wife says it is like I have pregnancy brain - but it is really bar brain. Yes, I guess that is it. Wow - it is awfully early in bar review to have already lost the part of my mind that is able to function in the real world - the world outside of bar preparation.

I wish Wife and I could just get away alone somewhere for a few days together - just to rest and reconnect and give my bar brain a break. I know she could use it, too. No kids. No dogs. No cats. No responsibilities. Certainly no bar review materials. A resort? A hotel? Motel? There are nice rv parks. I wouldn't be picky.

OK, OK, maybe in 7 more weeks.....

*Credit for the term "bar brain" is properly attributable to Wife.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Has-Been?

I told Wife two nights ago that I would clarify my remark about mindless TV. She is not the only one who gets sucked into it. I, too, have had my share of guilty pleasure moments, sucked into something that later made me want to take a shower. For instance - My Fair Brady, and Scott Baio is 45...and Single. We don't watch the big shows that seemingly everyone is watching, like Idol and Dancing with the Stars, but give us the dirt on some obscure star from the 70's...or the 90's...and apparently we're all over it.

Bar Review is going fine. We listen to lectures, fill out blank spaces in the workbooks as we listen, put the info into our own outlines later in the day, then do practice questions or practice essays until late into the night. I am doing OK without a laptop computer as I just use my work computer after work. I do see people at school though, with their sleek Macs with all the extra Mac memory, and I do have a little Mac-envy. One of these days, I will get a new laptop, but probably not until I really need it for work or something. Technology changes so fast, I may as well wait to see what I need and then get the latest and greatest at that point.

Now, let's see what's on the trashy cable channels....(just kidding - back to work!)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Little Mindless Entertainment

Sometimes mindless television is a really good thing.

Sometimes your brain is just too full to digest anything of substance.

Wife recently found some reality show about Tori and Dean, as in Tori spelling and her husband. It is kind of interesting in a voyeuristic sort of way.

On the whole though, I don't really like the reality tv shows, and you can only watch repeats of Frasier so many times. Our current standby entertainment is The West Wing.

Now, to call this "mindless entertainment" is not really accurate. It's politics - often heavy stuff - but still - it is passive - and that is nice. We hadn't gotten involved with The West Wing when it was actually on the air, but Wife's brother got the entire 7 season set for Christmas and encouraged us to take it home and watch it. We are now almost done with Season 3 and it is really good!

It took a few shows to start caring about the characters and getting to know their personalities and relationships, but now we are totally hooked. Martin Sheen is an awesome President with a heart, and wicked intelligence. (Quite the contrast with the real President of the US at the time - early 2000's.) Rob Lowe is a handsome, smart attorney-turned-speech-writer. Stockard Channing occassionally appears as the First Lady, and she plays the part with grace and humor. So many of the cast I do not know, but have come to love.

The show is well-written, funny, and still so relevant - in fact, some of the problems they were worried about or were dealing with are things we now see the results of and wish the past administration would have had the forethought of the television writers. I hear in later seasons there is a character that was based on Obama who goes on to run for President. (Forgive me if I have some of the details incorrect here - we haven't gotten that far, yet!) I'm looking forward to seeing those episodes.

Anyway, I highly recommend the series and if you see the very nicely packaged box set on sale, it is sure to give you at least 112 hours of good, thought-provoking entertainment.

Monday, June 08, 2009

10:00pm and I am ready for bed

...so what am I doing posting?

Wife pointed out to me that there was something amiss in my last posting, so I had to go in and correct it. OCD much?

Hey - if I didn't do it tonight, it might not get done, you know?

Well, all is quiet here. Wife is already in bed, kids have been asleep for hours, even the dogs and cats are already out. I guess I best go join them. If I am really living right, I will not have to move a cat, or a dog, to get into my side of the bed!

Bar Review

Wow. Bar Review is Fun.

Wait....let me redo that.....imagine the voice of the monotone teacher in The Wonder Years, or on Ferris Beuller's Day off....now let me try it:

Wow. Bar Review is Fun. (Note the capital letters for emphasis.)

No, seriously, the classes/lectures are actually quite good. Everything you should have learned in law school and spent weeks and weeks on, condensed into a few short pages. Crazy. The lectures are packed and filled with all relevant information.("Evidence that is relevant has a tendency to make the existence of any fact of consequence more or less probable." See how much I've learned?) No fluff. No chit chat. All essential stuff. So far, most of the lecturers have been very good, some are downright entertaining, and clear. BarBri knows what they are doing.

The down side - too much information in a very short period of time. I think many of us, me included, are already starting to feel overwhelmed. Saturday was bad for many of us, from what I hear. Today we have recovered and are back for more, ready to face the challenges of this odd reality we have signed up for.

I've come up with one unique idea for study strategy, but first I have to go back in time a bit.....For my birthday I got a very cool MP3 player that I love. It is blue, and very cute. See:

Wife found it on sale locally, and got if for me because I had complained that my last one did not have any words, so there was no way to search for or group songs. Sometimes you don't want to listen to Def Leppard followed by Cher and then songs from High School Musical 2. Just saying....anyway, this one plugs into a little auxiliary plug in my car, and presto, access to all of my MP3 songs.

Now, on to my study strategy - I noticed the other day that my MP3 player also has a voice recording feature. I was thinking this might be a 15-30 second memo feature, but the manual says you can record lectures, or whatever. We cannot record our BarBri lectures, but I am thinking of recording myself reading my own outline or sample answers from one of our books, and then listening to that when I am in the car. So much of the bar is remembering key phrases that I think this would be useful. Seems like a very handy feature that I will have to test out soon. Just one more thing to love about my MP3 player. That, and it's blue. Wife has the same one in pink. It's good to be made happy by something as simple as a color choice. :)

No testing the voice recording feature tonight though. Tonight, as every night, I will take about 2 hours to outline what we learned in lecture today, then work on a couple essay questions, then do some multiple choice questions. Then I will go home...be home by 9:30 hopefully....see Wife for a short time, then sleep. I have a full night ahead!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Wii are having fun now!

The kids and I have had great fun playing with Wife's brother's Wii game system wheneven we visit, but Wife and I have told the kids it was far too expensive for us to get our own. Well, I received a good bit of money as graduation gifts, and decided the whole family should reap in the rewards of our long, hard struggle, and so we used the money to buy a Nintendo Wii and some games. The game system seems to be about the same price everywhere. It is on sale most places for $249. If you click on the previous link, it will lead you to a place where that price includes free shipping!

The Wii is great fun! For anyone living in a cave, or in law school, for the past few years (several of my classmates have not heard of it), Wii is an interactive game system that connects to your tv and responds to your movements via a remote, or other devices such as game mats or balance boards. The game package that comes with most systems I have seen is Sports - which includes things like bowling, one of Wife's personal favorites, golf and baseball. We also got Carnival - which provides a TON of the kinds of games you'd play at a carnival - ring toss, dunk tank, skee ball, throwing a ball at a stack of clown-shaped pins to knock them over....all of those fun games that cost way too much to play on the midway. Well, this is a chance to get good at them! Boy Wonder loves to earn points to win virtual prizes, including crazy hats and such for your character to wear. (You get to personalize your own character for game play across all games.)

We've also had big fun playing Mario Cart, which is a racing game. Boy Wonder and I love racing each other - choose your character, your vehicle, and it is off to the races on all sorts of crazy courses! The last game we bought was Outdoor Challenge. This one hooks to a mat and you can do individual or team challenges, or do head to head competition. These games involve things like running and jumping over hurdles, racing through a mine on a runaway cart, rafting through a pipe, and climbing a rope up a waterfall. Boy Wonder and I had Wife in stitches as she watched us racing and jumping this past Sunday morning. It was fun, and I broke a sweat before I'd even had a cup of coffee! This was some serious exercise! Our Princess is still a bit young for most games, but she still enjoys helping where she can, and watching the action.

This has been a great gift for us all and is sure to provide hundreds of hours of fun for our family. Next purchase will be Wii Fit. Just about everyone we run into who already has Wii tell us we HAVE TO get it!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Post Graduation Report

As you will see, I took off a week from blogging following graduation. Let me say, graduation weekend was wonderful! Graduation was all it should be. Well, OK, the speakers could have been more inspirational, the ceremony could have been shorter, but overall - fun, meaningful, and all the ritual should be.

Wife, kids, Mom and Step-Dad were all there....and our kids did great! They were in the stands for 4 hours, including wait time before the ceremony, and they were so well-behaved. Wife did a great job of packing food and activities for them(OK, son's DS especially!), and they certainly did us both proud! I am very happy since this way, Wife could experience and enjoy my graduation, too.

I won't recap everything since Wife already did such a great job on her blog! I will say that I was wrong about me not having a big drunken bash. Well, OK, so it was not exactly that - but I will say Wife and I had quite the good time enhanced by a considerable amount of alcohol. :) Between a great party hosted by my mom and one of my sisters, the attendance of lots of family and friends, and a nice barbecue with Wife's family in our backyard afterwards, the Sunday after graduation was most excellent!

I am now one week into formal bar review through BarBri. It is going to be a very intense several weeks, but after four years of law school, another couple of months is not all that daunting. The bar exam itself....well....I can do it! That is my mantra...I can do it and I will pass!

Now that I am officially a graduate, looks like I'll be needing a new name for this blog. Any suggestions?