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.

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