Monday, April 04, 2005

JOBS - I did it!

I passed the Illinois Bar Exam! Look! Here it is! Applicant number 10303 (that's me) has passed the February 2005 bar exam! At some point, I'll be coherent enough to discuss the ramifications of this in more detail. For now, there is a party to plan!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

LIFE - Back to the Grind

This has been the longest month of my life, and I still have two weeks left to go before I get my bar exam results. I've been very busy lately, trying to sort out what to do with my post-school self, and getting bogged down with everything else in the meantime.

The law practice is still a possibility. I'm enjoying working with our business clients, and not just because we bill hourly. Work is coming, though not quickly enough for my taste. Hopefully things will pick up once I have my license.

The Attorney General's office never did schedule an interview. The person making the hiring decision kept getting delayed and hung up in Springfield and I eventually just stopped trying. The other day I read that Illinois has a huge problem with failures to report juvenile sex offenders to schools. I suppose that would keep her busy.

I do have another interview, though. I'm trying to land an adjunct professor's position at John Marshall Law School's legal writing program. God only knows I've done enough of that to be qualified. It's not exactly what I want to teach, but it is teaching, and it's a way to get my foot into the proverbial door. Maybe between that and developing a solid independent practice I'll be able to land a full-time teaching job if I can get some more writing done.

Speaking of writing, I actually heard from Alex that our Shards of the Stone comic might not be dead. He's the artist half of the team. Turns out that he actually heard from the guy writing the checks. Hopefully he'll see some money for Issue 1 and we can get to work again. It'd be nice to write something that isn't law-related again.

Dave is calling me to bed. More later!

Friday, February 25, 2005

LIFE - A Long, Strange Week

Thank God it's Friday! This has possibly been the most stressful week of my life. I'm just relieved that it's over.

Sunday:

I went with Toby's boyfriend Andrew over to Costco in Niles to buy a new TV set. I had finally finished studying for the Illinois Bar Exam, and I needed something to take my mind off of the stress of two months of studying. I'm not sure what it is about getting a shiny new toy, but it's always helped calm me down. I'm not sure why, but it does. Maybe I'm just a consumer whore like that. My plan was to set up a media center PC and use it to control TV, digital video, and music all in one box. Well, we dragged the TV upstairs (the bastard looked a lot smaller in the store) and got it set up. HDTV is yummy!

Monday:

The parts I had ordered to finish out the media center arrived on Monday. I swear, the UPS driver with my route must really loathe me for making her run stairs every time she drops something off. So by the time I'm done, the PC has:

AMD Athlon XP 1.8 ghz
1 GB PC 2700 DDR memory
1 40GB 7200 RPM ATA-100 hard drive
1 75GB 7200 RPM ATA-100 hard drive
ATI Radeon 7200 video card with 64MB DDR memory
K-World MCE 200 TV tuner card
Linksys internal PCI 802.11G wireless network card
Cyberdrive CD/RW drive
Yamakawa DVD+/- RW drive
Windows 2000 Professional
Intervideo Home Theater

Something about playing with the guts of a computer really puts my mind at ease. It's almost like a form of meditation for me, and I needed all the relaxation I could get before the bar exam on Tuesday and Wednesday. If nothing else, this helped clear the Rule Against Perpetuities from my mind. Ugh.

So I drop everything in, turn it all on and... nothing happened. Turns out that one of the memory chips I had bought was incompatible with my motherboard. Back to Tiger Direct it went. After reinstalling the old 256MB DIMM, leaving me with a still-respectable 768MB of RAM, and repairing the Windows 2000 installation, I was back in business.

Then the TV tuner didn't work.

I could get picture, but no sound. Damn. Before I quit for the day, I did manage to get the cable box connected to both the computer and directly to the TV and rig an interim sound system - a 2-speaker Altec Lansing unit with a subwoofer and Dolby Virtual 5.1 surround sound.

Then Dave and I went out to Geja's for dinner with Mike, Lis, Elisa, and Don. I'm not a huge fondue fan, but damn their food is incredible. I could have done without the $80 tab for Dave and I, but I'm glad we got out of there for less than $100.

Later that night, Dave dropped me off at the Seneca Hotel, where I would be staying during the bar exam. All in all, Monday was pretty much the eye of the storm.

Tuesday:

I want to find out who came up with the domain name for the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar and shoot him. Whoever thought it would be funny to add a "Y" to the acronym and call it "ibaby" really should surf more porn. If he had, he might not have picked a name that sounds like some kind of Mac-themed adult site.

And yes, the ibrator is a joke, you sick bastards!

After a sausage McMuffin with egg (the breakfast of champions), we were ready to begin. First I had to listen to Margaret Thatcher's American twin sister read the rules and inform us all that if we had anything electronic anywhere at all, then we would fail. I did find it amusing to watch the proctors examine people's earplugs looking to make sure they weren't some kind of receiver.

Personally, I think anyone who is creative enough to embed a tiny receiver in an earplug and pair it with an invisible, subvocal microphone that he would need to effectively communicate with someone and cheat on the exam is plenty smart enough to make it as an attorney, but hey.

Honestly, the Illinois Essay Exam and the Multistate Performance Test weren't that bad.

The Multistate Essay Exam was pretty difficult. They asked some really obscure questions on choice of law provisions in domestic relations disputes. I found the copyright notice on the cover kind of funny. Apparently, the multistate exams are like Fight Club. You don't talk about them or they sue you for copyright infringement.

This test has been brought to you by Orrin Hatch.

After the test, I went and played D&D with Dave's gaming group. I threw together a quick character, kicked lots of imaginary butt, and ate Arabic food. Not a bad end to the day.

Wednesday:

Some people think I'm crazy for saying so, but I prefer writing essay exams to taking multiple choice tests. Especially the multistate bar exam. Thing is, when you're writing an essay, you can shotgun. When I hit an obscure topic where I missed some details, I can cover my bases. If A, then this. But if B, then this. And so on.

Not so much with the multipe choice test. The ones I really hate are the questions that have two "yes, because" and two "no, because" answers. Also particularly hateful are the ones where all the answers are right and you have to pick the "most correct" answer.

Apparently, they haven't gotten the memo that lawyers are not mind readers.

When all was said and done, I took a cab home. Some people complain about Mayor Daley. Anyone who requires all taxis to accept credit cards is a genius. Now if only he would shoot the bastards who paint their Crown Victoria cabs blue and white so they look like cop cars, it would be awesome.

I got home and started drinking. Grand Marnier, then Grand Marnier and vodka, then Triple Sec and Grand Marnier, then Triple Sec and Blue Curaco, and finally Chambord and Raspberry Pucker.

All in about 30 minutes.

On an empty stomach.

No more stress for me!

Later that night, I went to LAFF coffee. Tom and Paul finally paid me back for the Lion King tickets and I managed to get sober by the time I went to bed.

Thursday:

My dad finally got in for surgery. They took out a tumor on his tongue, a cyst in his mouth, and a lymph node. They want to run a biopsy to make sure he hasn't got lymphatic cancer too. On the plus side, he's already talking and won't need to be tube-fed at all. Mom is going down to see him this weekend. My sister and I will probably head down in a couple weeks.

I gave up on the K-world TV Tuner and sent it back to Tiger Direct. I went to Best Buy and snagged an ATI TV Wonder Pro card. It works great. I get TV on the media center now, and it has sound! Unfortunately, it seems like the onboard sound card sucks. The quality from the TV tuner isn't as sharp as the sound directly from the cable box to the TV. I would also like to figure out if there is a way to control the cable box via the computer so I can set the DVR software to record without having to set the channel on the box ahead of time. Well, time to try a new sound card. Then I'll set up the 400+ watt Monsoon surround sound system that we have just waiting for it.

Maybe I need to start having movie nights.

Friday:

Today, I have a dentist's appointment and I need to select a new surgeon to do the work on my underbite. Lexis changed Blue Cross providers and now my old doctor isn't in my network. Grrr.

Then Jamie is supposed to come over and bring me an unlimited version of Windows XP SP2. Apparently, University of Chicago students can buy Micro$oft products for $10 apiece, regardless of what they are. I think I may need to hit up my friends down there and abuse the hell out of that. Heh.

The week isn't over yet. It looks like I'm going to miss Stone Dog Inn tomorrow. Dave's friend Cheryl lost her father, so it looks like we're going to the funeral and having dinner with his parents. At least there's free food involved.

Friday, February 11, 2005

LIFE - The Other Shoe, pt. 2

My dad saw the radiologist today. It looks like he's going to elect for surgery over chemo or radiation. They need to take biopsies of his lymph nodes and thyroid gland to find out if the cancer has spread any.

Hopefully he'll be scheduled by the end of next week. It's a good thing I'm taking off the entire week of the IL bar exam. I should go down there and see him.

More to come as I learn it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

TECH - New Computer

First post from my new computer!

After several days of headache and a lot of stress, my new computer is finally up and running:

CPU - Intel P4, 3.2 ghz, 800mhz FSB, 1 MB L2 cache
RAM - 2 gigabytes PC3200 DDR
Hard Drive - 300 gigabyte ATA-133
Video - ATI Radeon 9550, 256 megabyte DDR
Sound - 4-point surround sound
Monitor - 19" LCD at 1280 x 1024
Optical Drives - 1 dual layer DVDRW, 1 CDRW
Floppy Drives - 1 legacy 3.5" drive
USB - 8 USB 2.0 ports
Firewire - 3 Firewire 400 ports
OS - MS Windows 2000 Professional, SP 4
Networking - Linksys USB 2.0 801.11G external network adapter

After installing everything, I was surprised to find out that the system and core applications (Open Office 1.14, GIMP Image Processing 2.2, DVD Decrypter, DVD Shrink, DVD X-Copy Xpress, Nero OEM, Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0, iTunes, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Mozilla Sunbird, AOL Instant Messenger, AOL 9,0, AOL Communicator, Spybot S&D, and Norton Systemworks 2003), I had used up less than 5 gigabytes.

I'm only now remembering just how bloated Windows XP really was and how much I don't miss the bells and whistles that it has.

When I was installing the system, I didn't realize that Windows can't effectively address more than 137 gigabytes of hard drive space without special drivers, so I was going crazy trying to get the drive to boot properly. Not to mention the fact that the Norton Ghost clone I made of my old system hard drive (and later the old system hard drive itself) refused to boot on the new computer for no real reason. On top of that, the copy of Windows 2000 that we had bought was a corporate OEM CD, which wasn't bootable, and the floppy disks that it created wouldn't work. I had to go and get another copy of Windows 2000, which obviously works fine.

Now, all I have left to do is install my games.

Mmm... Knights of the Old Republic.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

RPG - "Real" Roleplaying

This "Sorry, We're Open" strip reminded me of what I dislike about MMORPG's more than anything else. This used to apply to Magic: the Gathering and other CCG's when they were the big thing.

It's not that I think there's no real roleplaying going on on an MMORPG server, whatever that means, but I do think MMORPG's make it that much harder to actually motivate a group to do something. The logistics of in-person gaming (or even worse, LARPs with lots of people) really make the consistency of an MMORPG seem attractive, even if they tend to cater to the lowest common denominator.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

LIFE - The Other Shoe

After a long run of good luck, the karmic scales seem to have balanced back out. My dad called me while I was at tae kwon do practice. When I called him back, he told me that he had been diagnosed with a carcinoma in his mouth.

Cancer.

It's not that I'm surprised, really; he's smoked for something like 40 years now, despite developing diabetes and having a stroke. I suppose I saw this coming.

But it's not exactly the kind of thing you ever expect to hear.

At this point, I'm trying to be upbeat. It's a very early case, which is good, and doctors successfully treat this kind of cancer all the time. Still, it's cancer. My dad's mother had it. It killed her. My dad has it. I suppose it's time to update my medical history.

Everyone tells me not to worry, and they're right. I eat well, I take care of myself, and I don't smoke. Still, it's not every day that I come face to face with the mortality of my own parents. And to make matters worse, he's asked me not to tell my mother. I suppose he has his reasons. She'd go ballistic if she found out, and I'm sure he wants to get more information before he says anything. But damn that puts me in a spot.

The doctors are going to excise the lesion soon and see what happens from there. Hopefully that will be the end of the story.

If it is, and I ever catch him with a cigarette in his mouth again, I swear I am going to kick his ass.

ADS - Those Wacky Japanese...

I swear, it's because the live on an island:



It's called Kaba Kick. Yes, it's Russian Roulette for kids. You point the gun at your head and pull the trigger. If the gun fires, a pair of feet kick out from the end of the barrel. If it doesn't fire, you score points.

It hurts. It hurts so much...

JOBS - Interview, IL Attorney General's Office

The Attorney General's policy bureau called me back this afternoon. I have an interview for a research position at the office downtown on Thursday, February 3rd. The work seems really interesting. Unfortunately, unless I can come in with the maximum possible salary allowed, the money isn't great.

Maybe I can double up and do this and Lexis. I've really finished up pretty quickly this week, and that's doing 20 extra cases a week.