Sunday, January 30, 2005

Life in Hell With Providian Bank

Beware of Providian Bank

Last September my credit card was stolen. A slew of unauthorized charges were made.

The card that was stolen was a “renewal” card that was sent by Providian to my home. Evidently, my existing Providian card was about to expire. Well – the renewal card never made it to me, but it did make to Wal-Mart, Kmart and a bunch of other places in very short order.

One day I get an automated call from Providian asking me to call them. I figured it was just the same old phone spam about wanting to sell me something I didn't want. In fact, my card had been suspended due to “suspicious” activity. I thought that was rather surprising considering that I kept the card in my file cabinet and hadn’t used it for upwards of a year. This is when I learned Providian had sent me a renewal card, but they also claim I had “activated” the card.

I believe what happened is that the same people who obtained the credit card also obtained the pin number that typically follows several days before or after the credit card itself. Hence, they activated it OR they had or have some other bits of my mail and managed to pass the security question (like enter your phone number, zip code, whatever).

Initially, Providian was amazingly helpful and I thought the matter was quickly resolved. They reversed the charges, I had to fill out some paperwork and I was relieved to have the matter over with.

It wasn’t over. And it isn’t over. And it isn’t going to be over for a long, long time.

Yesterday, I got a letter from Providian saying they had “performed an investigation” and are denying my claim – and reversed the fraudulent charges back on my statement i.e. they put the stolen credit-card charges BACK on the bill.

Needless to say I’ve been reading over the “arbitration” clauses that have become standard fare for most credit card agreements. So far, it doesn’t look good. Everything and anything is arbitrated, hence this enables companies like Providian to do whatever they want – including contracting out of all kinds of laws that were originally designed to protect people like you and me from fraud.

Going through with Arbitration is therefore – an option, but far from an ideal path. Naturally, I would like to have my day in court before an impartial judge and/or jury, instead of appearing at great expense before an entity chosen and hired by Providian.

Instead, I’m contemplating what I consider to be a potentially novel path, which is to sue the merchants that accepted the stolen credit card and attempt to recover monies from them. That won’t be easy. I’m not entirely clear yet what I could base my claim on i.e. legal theory, plus I can see some jurisdiction issues, and a bunch of other stuff to mull over when it comes to going down this path. The upside is that I don’t have arbitration issues. I don’t have ANY agreements with Wal-Mart, Kmart, etc. Did they follow proper procedures to verify the identity of the person using the card? Was the merchant negligent? Did the merchant exercise reasonable care in verifying the transaction? You get the picture.

Just as I get sick of law school - this crap happens and I get reminded as to why it's important that I keep going forward - because Fighting Evil is hard work.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

My Nerd Score

I learned about this from Robin (Orbiter Dictum)

This explains why I had such a hard time getting dates when I was young...

I am nerdier than 98% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Posted by Hello

The Next Round Is Gonna Be Different..

This is the term where I get off the ropes and turn things around…

Last term I could barely stay awake. I initially thought it was just the normal pressures of the wife and kids being back in Arizona, trying to pay the bills, the lack of breathing fresh air, the need to constantly study, or plain old depression. While all of these things were certainly clouding my ability to concentrate, I also needed a boost in some basic nutrients. Resolving that issue has in and of itself done wonders for me.

My attitude and approach to the materials and to the exams is also different this term… it’s healthier and less hostile. And when it does rev up to being pissed and jaded (thanks to some of Cooley's antics/policies), I try to step back and see the big picture - and get the monster to calm down.

Last term I did very few written practice exams and even fewer multiple-choice warm-ups. Four weeks into this term I am already doing practice exams each and every week. I do practice multiple-choice from the Finz Book, Q&A books and Finals series. Once I sign up for Bri/Bri – I plan to work with those as well. Practicing multiple-choice has several upsides to it – the primary one being the emergence of patterns and a prism through which to see and learn how a given rule is applied to a small set of facts.

I meet with my professors on a regular basis. Rather than assume I will find an answer to a concept on my own, I set appointments with my profs and meet with them. I have met with three different professors thus far this term and they have been incredibly helpful, not just with their specific area(s) of expertise, but how to approach exams in general. Each prof gives me their own unique angle, which in turn gives me insight into what they are expecting of their students on their own exams. I also get my questions answered.

I brief each and every case and read the notes as well. I hate briefing. I still debate the merits of doing this task, but I do it anyway, if for no other reason than to keep my mind working and thinking about law and watching for patterns that sometimes emerge from the cases. The patterns I am referring to have more to do with language and usage/application of the rules rather than trends in law itself (although that is certainly useful as well).

I am outlining differently. Last term I didn’t start outlining until well after midterms. This term my outlines and notes are already starting to morph into a form that makes them useful and reviewable. I am by no means perfect at this, but I’m definitely better at outlining this term compared to last term.

Time management. I set aside blocks of time for doing only law school related studies and entire blocks of time for doing other things. I try to get out of the studio/apartment and into the regular world if for no other reason than to back off from legal studies to give my mind a rest. Too much of this stuff can make one sick. Too little of it can make one careless. I believe a big part of success in this venture will be a matter of finding a sense of balance.

I try to avoid politics – a toxic yet desirable opiate that I’ve concluded I can’t handle in large quantity this term.

My choice of legal supplements is different. Although I happen to think Emanuel Law Outlines on Civil Procedure is outstanding, the balance of my supplements this term is Examples and Explanations. I have the entire series and it’s highly readable – almost enjoyable. Before approaching a topic in the regular textbook (for eg Parol Evidence Rule in Contracts), I read the section in Examples and Explanations about the topic first. This method seems to provide a good map for me before wading into in the regular textbook and the class itself.

For some people law school comes with considerable ease. They can hold down two jobs, balance ten different things on their pinky, sleep 8 hours a day and still get straight A’s with relative ease. That just isn’t me. I thought it was, but it’s not.

I have a decent analytical mind, but frankly I am a little slow on the uptake. However, once I get a head of steam going I can cruise along quite nicely. I am one of those students that if he wants to get A’s and B’s rather than C’s and D’s in law school – it’s pretty clear (to me) that I will need to continue taking a fresh approach and combine it with developing ever more effective study skills. The only person who can turn this around for Majqa – is Majqa. Great professors or crappy ones it boils down to my own ability to narrow my thinking, focus and get with the program. Being something of a rebel by nature (high school drop out at 15, been fighting “the man” ever since) such a task of giving up ones own huge ego to The Borg of Law is definitely an uncomfortable adjustment.

Last term I was all over the map and it showed up in my grades. This term… this term will be different.

Posted by Hello

Thomas Cooley Law School - – One of The Good Things Worth Mentioning

I feel I should mention a few things that I happen to genuinely believe to be excellent aspects of Cooley, and contrary to how it may seem based on some of my blog entries – Cooley has a lot of good elements that are definitely worth commenting on.

The Professors Are Excellent
This proved to be my biggest surprise. I knew beforehand that Cooley had a (I would argue false) reputation for being “the worst law school in the country”; therefore I feared my professors would reflect this notion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Forget the rubbish you come across on some of the law school discussion boards about Cooley – the professors at Cooley are probably one of the best things the school has to offer. Naturally some professors are better than others, but overall the teacher-quality is one of the big fat silver linings Cooley has to offer. Mind you this is only my personal opinion. Your own mileage may vary…

My 1L professors are not only outstanding teachers but excel in their “approachability” outside of class. They are not off writing their next book or making TV appearances or handing classes off to TA’s, instead they seem to focus on the work of producing what they feel will be good lawyers.

If you attend Cooley you may find yourself surprised to find that the classroom demeanor among many of the professors will stand in stark contrast to their one-on-one personalities. With rare exception, I have found all of my professors to be more than willing (if not outright eager) to help a student. Even those that seemed to be a bit tyrannical in class are typically open and friendly outside of class. My first term Contracts professor had (and still has) a reputation as being exceptionally tough, but outside of class the man was/is a virtual pussycat and welcomes drop-in visits by students. If you need help, you have to ask for it. At Cooley - knock and ye shall receive.

My current Contracts professor is a tough and demanding woman, but I also hold that she is an outstanding teacher. I am developing a deep respect for this professor not so much because she commands the floor (and is a wee bit intimidating), but because she is exceptionally clear and helpful in class. She does a quick and to-the-point review; next she gives the definitions and rules about what material is going to be covered, gets into the problems and briefs, and then wraps up. She is also very approachable after class and more than willing to discuss any issue that needs covering, but in the same token she demands professionalism and proper conduct from her students. Don’t screw around with her and she will bend over backwards to help you, as she is one of those professors that seem to love students.

My Torts professor is perhaps the most unique member of the entire cast of professor-characters that I have encountered thus far. This man is focused, clear, enjoyable to listen to (if you like Bill Clinton – and I happened to like Bill Clinton), and determined to see his students succeed. In fact, during the first day of class he commented on how he has been able to steadily reduce the fail rates of his students. Very few people fail his class, and rather than take that as a problem, he considers it a good sign that his teaching is becoming more effective. When any student fails he takes it upon himself to contemplate if and where he went wrong with the subject. He commands respect not by being a tyrant, but by being helpful, reflective and concise.

Posted by Hello

Friday, January 28, 2005

I am an Annoying Tort


and go to because law school made laura do this.

Many Have Asked... What Does Majqa Look Like? Well... here I am. It's no secret that I am an older student - and believe me - thanks to Thomas Cooley School of Law I feel every bit my age and then some.
Posted by Hello

QRIO Robot By Sony (Cool Amazing Video)

QRIO Robot From Sony

This certainly ranks up there with one of the more far-out things I’ve seen take place in technology. These little Sony robots are COOL and very nimble.

Check out this video and you will see what I mean.

Those are ROBOTS dancing! From the looks of it they’re at most 3 feet tall and just amazing (well... at least I think it's pretty cool, but I am a bit of a dork).

Here’s more videos on these cute… and … somewhat ominous robots. You'll need Realplayer to watch these - OR - you can download and install Real Alternative - a player and codec that lets you watch Realplayer videos without having to install all of the crapware that typically comes slithering along with the actual Realplayer.

Check out Real Alternative HERE.

If the server is down, you can try going direct to the developer. It's developed by these guys HERE.

Posted by Hello

Things About Cooley I Wish I Would Have Known

(This is the information that didn’t get included in the '"Welcome To Cooley" package)

Cooley has an attendance policy. If you miss more than twice – you are dismissed. Yes, you read that right. Therefore, if you are not motivated to attend class, Cooley will be very unforgiving. During the winter storm warning … Cooley did NOT cancel class. If you were unable to make it, got stuck in the snow, etc, the fact that there was a blizzard is just tough luck. It WILL be counted against you. Blizzards, winter storm warnings, and government pleadings that you stay off the roads are no excuse.

Cooley has multiple-choice and essay sections on each exam. It’s about a 50/50 split in terms of points, although lately it seems to be tilting slightly more toward multiple-choice questions. My Torts exam had 60 multiple-choice questions and as I recall a 45-minute essay question.

You can’t bring bottled water into the two-hour-forty-five-minute exams. Thirsty? That’s too bad. Got to go pee? Gee. Maybe you shouldn’t have drunk so much water before the exam.

Your first-term, first year classes will probably have a mid-term multiple-choice exam. It will count for roughly 10% of your overall grade. Your performance on this exam will have almost no correlation to how you do on your finals.

You do not get “study” breaks between classes and final exams. It is not unusual to have your last class on a Monday and have the exam on Wednesday (and the next on Thursday, the next on Friday, and so on). Almost all Final Exams are schedule back to back. If you don’t like taking one whole week of back-to-back final exams, you might want to take Cooley off the short-list.

Very few seats are available for taking your final exams on laptop. Lots of people complained about this – and trust me when I say this – complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. If you do get lucky and take it on a laptop, you will be using a program that is basically the equal of Notepad. You don’t get to use Word, WordPerfect, or anything of that sort to type your exams. It’s also a good thing to know how to spell, use good grammar, and so on, as Word won’t be around to help you.

There is no such thing as a “take home exam” or an “open book exam” or any of that sissy crap. Every first year exam (not so sure about 2L and 3L) is a closed book proctored exam. If you don’t know the UCC in your head, memorized, plus know all the elements of whatever Tort, Criminal Law, Con Law, etc, problem you are confronted with on an exam – your puny girlyman inability to memorize 45 rules per course in your head for finals will mean you become a C student. That’s if you’re lucky. I also happen to have ended up being one of the many girlmen in my class i.e. I am at best a C student.

You do not get to take in outlines, notes, paper, bottle water, nothing, nada, zip, into the exams – with the exception of writing instruments. You do get to bring in pens, pencils and highlighters. Cooley proctors will also provide very dull and utterly useless pencils for you in the event you need one. I always take one so I can be rest assured that Cooley has indeed thought of everything; even the Coffee is cold in the vending machines during exam week.

Parking is a joke. It’s about $8 to $10 a day to park in one of the ramps. Metered parking will kill you with tickets. This problem will probably never be solved. If you have classes on weekends, the situation is 100 times better.

Cooley is very flexible with their scheduling. You can take classes at night, weekends and regular “traditional” day classes. You can also mix and match with part weekend and part weekday. That’s what I did last term.

In some classes simply book-briefing (along with using canned briefs) without producing written briefs of your own work - is prohibited. You MUST write your own briefs and, this varies by professor, expect to turn in your briefs if called on. My Contracts professor expects students to write their own briefs and likewise those students are expected to expect to have to turn in those briefs if requested. My Torts professor is more practical and has said that we should do whatever works for us. So - this policy varies by professor. In general - at Cooley you will find yourself writing an awful lot of homespun briefs. Mike Shecket or 4Law or Casenotes will come in handy, but more often than not you'll find yourself taking the long road at Cooley.

Some of the professors are excellent and you will find yourself learning a lot from them. This can be misleading though as knowledge of a particular subject or enjoyment of a class does not always translate into a good exam score. It’s not just how they shove it into your head, but how you vomit all of it back out. Which brings me to IRAC.

IRAC. They love IRAC at Cooley, unless you get a professor that lives or works in the real world, which case your skills at IRAC can be less than perfect. If you get one of the tenured guys that have done nothing but teach for 20 years – you will need to IRAC and EERFC perfectly. If you don’t know what IRAC means, Cooley will teach you…

With a mind numbing, required, zero-credit hour class that takes all of the work and time of a normal 3-credit hour class, but counts for nothing on your grade. This is a special class. You can’t miss it more than once or you’ll automatically get an F and have to take it again during the following term.

If you either void-grade (yup – I had to do this) a class OR your gpa falls below a 2.0, you will be placed on Academic Probation. It doesn’t matter if your GPA was a 4.0 and you needed to hit the void-grade button for a single class that went south – you end up in the Special Ed section of Cooley. I just got my helmet and special shoes and now, thankfully, I won’t be able to hurt myself in class anymore.

If you get placed on Academic Probation and if the following term your GPA is below a 2.0, but above a 1.5 – you get one more term to fix it. If you haven’t fixed it after being on 2-terms of Academic Probation, you are dismissed. Oh – and coming back to Cooley after being on a single term of Academic Probation for any reason is made extra-difficult for you (see below)…

After your first term of Academic Probation, no matter how well/poorly you did during that term on exams, you will be punished by having your financial-aid for the following term placed on “hold” until at least week 5. If you need student loans to survive, pay rent, etc, they will inform you of the fact that “you will need to make other financial arrangements.” Basically – this is just their way of saying they want you to be certain this is something you want to continue with, although it will *feel* as if they want you to leave to make room for the next round of bodies being injected into the Cooley matrix.

Until recently, roughly 75% of the people who ended up on Academic Probation never made it out. Over the past two years this has been reduced to 50% and the people running the ARC (Academic Resource Center) really do seem determined to bring down that number even more. I'm not so sure I agree with their methods, but I suspect their hearts may actually be in the right place.

The Cooley overall attrition rate is, give or take, about 48%. It bounces around a bit, but on balance about half are gone after the first year. Your odds of failure at Cooley are exceptionally high and somewhat proportional to their rate of accepted admissions.

Lots of people try and transfer out. I don’t have numbers on how many actually succeed. I suspect that deep down I don’t want to know.

Cooley has low ranking due to its “big front door” policy. It gives a lot of people a shot at an ABA accredited education that might otherwise not have found their way into a traditional law school. There is something positive to be said for that. It is a very non-elitist school with respect to admissions, but every other aspect of it is extremely traditional. My LSAT was in the low 150’s, so I had a few other options, but chose Cooley. I was unaware of its peculiar policies until after my arrival. I had heard that it was “a hard school”, but I figured that was just the teenagers complaining. No. It’s a HARD school.

The Socratic method is used extensively, although some professors are more into it than others. The ones that seem to be the most into it are the classes in which you will need supplements, because looking for the UCC-207 to come bursting out of the chest of a student being called on just isn’t going to happen. The Socratic method was novel for the first two weeks, after that it became (and has become) apparent to me that this method for teaching law is utter bullshit. Philosophy – yes. Humanities – maybe. Law? It is about as inefficient of a system as one could find, yet some of the prof’s are really into it.

Generally speaking, and this depends on the professor, you will get one “pass” for each class. I know a few professors who give NO passes. It’s up to them. Typically, you must notify the professor in writing BEFORE class that you are unprepared. A few of them want affidavits rather than just a note or letter. If you are unprepared a second time… well… don’t be unprepared a second time or let’s just say it means it’s time to pack your bags.

If you were unprepared when called on, and failed to do the above… what happens depends on the professor. Generally, you will be sanctioned and/or given an assignment that has to be turned in within a day or two to the professor. It will be, from what I’ve heard, a time consuming assignment. It’s punishment for “taking up the time” of the class and the professor for being unprepared.

I am actually, on balance, impressed with my professors. I am unimpressed with many of the policies of the school and it is my main motivation for having on-and-off regrets about my choice of law schools. They have a lot of good people at Cooley and the facilities are excellent. I visited top-tier schools (before I realized I was a “slow” kid) that didn’t have facilities as nice as Cooley’s. Overall...

If you go to Cooley you need to go in with open eyes. You CAN succeed at Cooley, but a lot of people fail regardless of how hard they worked at it. It is probably one of the harder law schools in the country, but at the same time they really do give you a shot at making it, although in the end you will probably find yourself wondering if it was worth it.

Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Tort Case? Crim Law? Both? Again, like the one below, this could go either way. Was the TV station negligent for giving a false-warning of an impending nuclear attack? If so, does comparative negligence come into play here? Homicide? Certainly looks like "... killing of another human being with malice aforethought..." Then again - maybe it's really a products liability issue. Things aren't always what they appear to be. I say this guy has a case against both the TV station as well as the gun manufacturer. Oh - and the dead woman - definitely got loads of Tort action going on there as well. Uh oh - but this guys comments point to an mens rea "intent" element. Hmm. Not good. Not good. This might be murder. Damn. No money in this one. Ok, move on.
Posted by Hello

Is this a Tort or Crim Law hypo? Based on the fact pattern, it's tough to be certain. Maybe he was just cleaning his gun - and it went off? Negligence on the part of the gun owner or the manufacturer? Strict product liability issue? What if the gun misfires again and this man's wife meets the same fate as her mom? I know. Tough call.
Posted by Hello

Briefing Cases. I'm sick of it. I hate it. Yet - it's pretty much required and one of my prof's said she will be making students turn in their own, homespun briefs.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Swamp Still Depresses...

I've been avoiding politics (for the most part) and frankly that is a good thing. Last term I was nearly consumed by all of the crap and bullshit taking place in this country that I was only moments away from making an investment in one of those super-useful hats (see posting below). Still... every now and then I stick my toe into the swamp if I feel too happy, optimistic, hopeful about the future, etc.

Simply Appalling never lets me down.

If you're not pissed off today, just head on over for a quick dose of reality. I tend to like my reality served dark, cold and please hold the sugar.

Law School Utility Hat?

This hat is not only useful for watching TV, but expect to find it a MUST during your first term in law school.

UPDATE: Considering I am currently searching for a TV (I don't own yet), the posting might be a wee bit hypocritical...

Posted by Hello

This Explains An Awful Lot...

Microsoft in 1978. Let the picture do the talking.

Posted by Hello

Mistakes, Me and Law School

I try and stay positive as much as I can. It's nice knowing that maybe, just maybe, I can be an example to others...

Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Koan and Law School Exam Questions

A koan is a story, dialog, question, or statement, generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that may be accessible to intuition.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to actualize Zen so I can get straight A's this term.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Cool Expose Clone for Windows XP

I came across an amazing little program that is a surprisingly decent clone of Apple’s Expose functionality for Widows XP. Its called TopDesk by Otaku Software and does wonders for organizing my briefs during class and switching from OneNote to Outliner to Treepad and back.

Basically – if you know how Expose operates on Macintosh OS X, you’ll know how useful this little knock-off by Otaku Software will prove to be.

A trial version, are available at the link below and the full working version is $10.

I've also been using ObjectDock Plus by StarDock to make my Desktop not only sexier, but less cluttered and more organized (the tabbed docking feature is really nice).

Friday, January 21, 2005

What You'll Wish You'd Known

I picked this article up from Slashdot. It seems applicable to the law school experience if not life in general. It's good advice for younger people that... I wish I had known or been told when I was young.

What You'll Wish You'd Known

Businessweek: Linux Incorporated

Businessweek has always truck me as miles above tabloid business publications like Forbes and this article merely confirms my high opinion of Businessweek. It is an outstanding must-read article for people interested in the emerging competition facing Microsoft, despite the best efforts of the Bush regime to reward entities that engage in anti-competitive behavior (namely the laughable Ashcroft "settlement" with Microsoft).

This is an outstanding article on the heartburn Linux is giving that bloated, creepy, virus-ridden pile of crap operating system known as Windows. God, oh God, how I hate Microsoft and Windows. I've had to use Windows XP on my laptop since coming to law school and I have pretty much hated every minute that I've had to use this bloated buggy piece of crapware. Were it not for the fact that I've come to actually LIKE OneNote (and OneNote sadly will not run with Cross Over or Win4Lin), Windows wouldn't even exist on my computer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Bottle of Sunshine Changed My Life

For about the past nine months I’ve been battling something I can only describe as extreme and intense fatigue. Initially, I figured I wasn’t getting enough sleep thanks to the wonders known as law school, but my sleep levels often failed to correlate with how I felt. In particular, I would get extreme fatigue during certain times of the day – typically during the early afternoon, irrespective of how much sleep I managed to get the night before. At the time I chocked it up to Property being an especially boring class to me, hence the extra-noticeable fatigue I felt during that class. This did not, however, explain why I felt like crap on those days in which I didn’t even have a class.

Because my fatigue seemed to kick in on a clockwork-like basis, I began to wonder if I might have something physically wrong with me. Mild depression seemed like a plausible explanation as I tend to be regarded as a rather “moody” person given to bouts of extreme exuberance to annoying brooding darkness to appearances of extreme exhaustion. I tried various remedies to smooth out this aspect of my emotional body, ranging from supplements to nicotine to regular work out routines. While these things certainly helped, I still couldn’t shake the rain clouds thundering in my head.

I began Googling for a solution. The first thing that came to mind was CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Severe illness, flu, stress, or combinations of those elements have often been attributed to the onset of CFS. Although I had indeed been seriously ill a few years ago, my recovery had also been relatively uneventful and therefore I ruled out extreme illness as an element of causation.

I started researching the topic of CFS I came across something very interesting – a man who had battled CFS for years for which he had no explanation for its root cause. He had been prescribed anti-depressants, changed his diet, exercised more and overall his story sounded a lot like mine. However, one thing stood out…

He used to live in California (like me), and in fact lived near the beach (like me) and tended to get a decent share of sunshine and good weather (like me). He became increasingly fatigued and ill when he moved to the upper Midwest (like me), but as the years went by he never connected all the dots (at least not until several years later). He saw doctors, psychologists, tried antidepressants, changed his diet, but alas these things only helped in a very limited way. So what did he do?

He began taking Vitamin D. Initially, it was a disaster as the Vitamin D he was taking was based on fish-oil and this made him pretty sick due to his being allergic to shellfish. He then switched to a non fish-oil based Vitamin D and lo and behold his CFS began to make a radical improvement. His theory was that his body had been getting the doses of Vitamin D it needed through his California lifestyle. Moving to the ugly, gray, horrible Upper-Midwest combined with his being confined in an office most of the day led him to try supplementing his diet with big doses of Vitamin D i.e. a bottle of much needed sunshine.

I decided to give it a try. I started out with 400 IU’s of Twinlab Allergy Vitamin D supplements and worked my way up to taking two (2) 400 unit capsules on a daily basis. The results in my case have proven to be nearly instantaneous. Within two days I felt completely different. My clockwork fatigue evaporated. The clouds in my head began to give way to sunshine. My thinking became sharper and the mild daily headaches a thing of the past.

Because I doubted the simplicity of merely upping my intake of Vitamin D as a cure-all to my fatigue, I decided to give it a few more weeks just to be certain. It has turned out to be THE answer to my fatigue, which also tells me that I didn’t have actual CFS, but was merely deficient in Vitamin D. Looking back it all makes perfect sense. I went from having a lot of sunshine (Arizona, California) to very little sunshine (Wisconsin / Michigan living).

So… if any of you are transplants to this miserable God damn awful place known as the Midwest and can’t seem to shake the blues – try supplementing your diet with Vitamin D. You just might need a bottle of sunshine to replace the sunshine you used to get from living in a place that didn’t suck.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Airport Epiphany

When I worked for Grey Advertising a long, long time ago, in what seems like a galaxy far away - I traveled constantly. During any given week I could find myself in a half dozen cities, visiting one per day or sometimes even two or three. Flying at that point in my life was no different than taking a cab. Off one plane, hop in the rental car, drive to appointment/show/client/whatever, back to airport, fly, rent car/take cab, appointment, then hotel (maybe) or possibly plane ride back home. Ah, the single life. I could live that way back then, but not these days. At any rate, I’ve always loved airports and traveling. Unless I’m tired (back then I was almost never tired), I tend to be relatively extroverted. I have a huge ego; I talk loud, and generally love to get to know people of all persuasions. I find human beings absolutely fascinating - even the ones I hate never fail in providing a moment or two of insight I end up using later down the road.

Last week I got bumped to a different flight at Phoenix Sky Harbor due to bad weather hitting the upper Midwest (this was during my miserable commute to classes at Cooley – wherein more abuse awaited me). While waiting for my eight-hour-delayed departing flight, I became the brief center of attraction for a cute little 1-ish year old learning to walk. She was a real cutie pie. I struck up a conversation with what I thought were her parents and asked them if this was their first child. They said “No. Our son was killed last year in a car accident, so we adopted his daughter…” Oh boy. That comment, in turn, led to a VERY interesting discussion about life, God, The Universe, and pretty much everything. They did most of the talking and I had zero problems listening.

Everything I’ve wanted to know about life has probably been told to me while slugging my way through an airport. Things you think are important often times turn out to be little more than useless bullshit in life that isn’t worth the time of day, but for some reason we all make the unimportant important, and take the important for granted.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

That's It. I'm Switching Back To The Macintosh (eventually)

This is about as perfect as it gets for me. A $499 Macintosh. It's a G4. Does everything I could ever want, plus contains all the lovin goodness underneath that is UNIX.

Here are some cool Apple products and I want to buy each and everyone of them.

Cooley Law Part 2 of ??

This post is in part an answer posed to me by Evan on this blog.

To say I share some of former Cooley student Evan’s past concerns about Cooley is an understatement. I believe on balance Cooley is a good school that provides opportunities to those who might otherwise have never obtained a chance to sit at an expensive ABA accredited law school (let alone actually graduate from one). I like Cooley’s non-elitist approach to things i.e. “a big front door” that gives just about everyone a shot – or two shots in my case. I think that’s commendable.

I love learning about the law. It is an intellectually rigorous experience… yet in the end what it comes down to is how well I can IRAC, parse multiple choice questions and play “the game” called law school. Somewhere between the joy of learning and the way Cooley does things arrives a hellish paradox that makes me want to kill everyone around me and myself as well. I have a hard time imagining Abe Lincoln, as he taught himself the law, feeling the way I do now as I go through a process that turns normal human beings into lawyers.

In 1998 I had a chance to be among the first students admitted into Kaplan’s new online law school Concord University. I decided to forgo that avenue believing that sitting for the California Bar and being limited to practice in about 19 states (provided I pass their respective bars) would be too limiting. I also would be limited to federal practice in my home state of Arizona, although I could have been House Counsel for my employer via their California office. Ultimately I decided to skip the $4,000 per year tuition (that’s what it cost back then for Concord) and opt for hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, a chance to rarely see my family (wife and 3 sons), forgo meaningful work, all so that I could eventually practice law in small town Arizona. No doubt all of this seems to explain why I am in the Special Ed Department at Cooley.

If I had gone the “alternative education” path I probably would have in turned wondered if I should have gone the “traditional” campus route. The latter affords greater opportunities in exchange for massive amounts of student loan debt and shitty personal relationships combined with intensive monastic celibate living. Hell, what’s not to like ?

Going to Concord (or any of the other alternative non-ABA California distance learning law schools) would have let me be with my family, see my sons grow up, maintain a love of learning law (or at least avoid developing a slow burning hatred of the subject), plus work while at the same time completing a law degree with little or no debt. In fact, assuming I would have passed the bar two years ago (possible considering that Concord has a 50% pass rate - 20 points above Cooley's), I’d be practicing law today with zero debt.

I haven’t made up my mind about transferring out of Cooley to another school. I may do that, or I may finish up and just suffer the flights from Phoenix to Detroit every week for the next 3 years. Another thing I might do, crazy as it sounds, is to transfer to into a distance learning school like Concord. An old Jewish proverb says “To stop a loss is a gain…” and I’m starting to wonder if stopping an additional $60,000+ in student loans is a good move ...

Tough decisions. For now, I just keep going…

Friday, January 07, 2005

Thomas Cooley Term I

My experience thus far at Thomas Cooley is very troubling to me. I plan to write about this in great detail shortly, both as a warning to prospective students as well as to current students who are barely holding on to C grades like yours truly. I believe Cooley overall provides the same level or degree of legal education as any other law school, but their overall business-model is something that prospective students may want to become more aware of. Unlike a lot of other ABA schools, Cooley will give you a shot, but in the end you just might regret taking them up on their offer.

What separates the A students from the C students is definitely NOT “studying” as I was a dedicated and diligent student. In fact, I am starting to wonder if perhaps I studied so hard that I ended up becoming downright myopic. The class I blew off the most ended up with a higher grade than the class I busted my ass on. This is equally troubling as it is perplexing to me.

The “system” or way things are done at Cooley doesn’t help. I am void-grading Property, but void-grades don’t post until Week 5. That’s fine, but when I went to the Registrar to “drop” Property II they wouldn’t let me do it. Why? Because my void-grade will automatically drop me out of Property II. What this means is far from clear to me. Technically, after Week 5 I will lack the prerequisite for Property II, but as part of the void-grade contract I have to take Property I during this semester. A Pink Floyd lyric from The Wall suddenly comes to mind: "If you don't eat your meat, how can you have any pudding? If you can't have any pudding, you didn't eat your meat..."

I might appeal my Contracts exam, but I will decide that for certain once I obtain the blue book. I am a few points away from being bumped into a higher-grade level and if I see grounds for an appeal I plan to act on that. Considering that Morgan has been doing Contracts for 20+ years at Cooley odds are I will lose, but on the other hand, he had to grade hundreds of blue books and just might have missed something. Since I am within striking distance of moving up a notch, and providing I indeed find grounds for an appeal, I think the misery of an appeal stands to be worth it.

I also came across another piece of information that troubles me. Cooley students that sit for the California Bar seem to be stuck in the 30% first-time pass range. Because of my long-standing business connections with all things California, I was planning to take the California Bar exam when I finished serving time at Cooley. Oddly enough, Concord (an internet-based law school) has a first-time pass rate of 50% compared to Cooley’s 30%. I had a chance to attend Concord in 1998 and now I’m wondering if all the ABA-based debt is going to be worth it.

California Bar Pass Rate for 2004 HERE

California Bar Pass Rate for 2003 HERE.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Against The Ropes

I am still in the game, but Property definitely put me against the ropes. I am going to void-grade it, pick myself up and keep going.

Posted by Hello