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Friday, December 17, 2004

Happy Rama-Hanu-Kwanzas

A punk band out of Florida recently did their own "politically correct" version of Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.

O Crap-- I used the "C" word. Please accept my apologies anyone I have offended. I fully acknowledge responsibility and understand that just because you are here reading MY journal on MY page you should not have to be subjected to my Christian . . .

O Crap-- I did it again! I'm so sorry.

Anyways, so this punk band: they did this version of that, uhm, famous, uh, Holiday Carol and called it Have a Happy Rama-Hanu-Kwanzas.

I have finished all of my finals. I have finished my FIRST SEMESTER OF LAW SCHOOL!!!!!! YES!

Thank G-- oh, uh, Allah/Budda/Krishna/Rama and any other unnamed object of faith I have yet to include.

Anyways, so all I have to say to everyone is this:

Have a Happy Rama-Hanu-Kwanzas!!!!!


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Multiple-Choice Hell

Never ever again will I minimize the implications of a multiple choice test.

Never ever ever ever, never ever again.

Of course I studied. We all studied. I just don't think we knew what we were studying for.

Typical comments from my classmates:

"I hated the last 5 hours of my life . . . I absolutely got my tail handed to me."

"That has to be the absolute worst test I have ever in my life taken."

"I'm actually looking forward to the torts exam, after this one."

People, you cannot know how deep into the darkest realm of humanity we were taken. We came face to face with absolute despair, humiliation, hopelessness. We found oursleves staring into the eyes of that "Dark Brooding Omnipresence of the Law". . . and we blinked.

O, the horror. The horror.

Defeated by legal hypotheticals people by the cast of the Flintstones (Slade had rocks dumped on his head by Flintstone at the quarry and brought suit alleging negligence but Pebbles was the rightful party instead) and Disney (Mickey was suing "the Club" for poisoning Pluto with Donald acting as defense counsel while Goofy had fled the country to take a job in France) and otherwise peppered with names like "Per" and "Pia" and "John E. B. Goode" and Massachusetts' Leprechauns looking to give away pots o' gold by using the Federal court system-- we began to feel as if taking the Law School Admissions Test had been a party in comparison.

Never again will I minimize the implications of taking a multiple-choice test.

Rumor has it, however, that this was Prof. CivPro's own form of inspired retribution. You see, the practice test we took was nothing at all like the hell we found yesterday.

The practice test was actually quite entertaining.

In the aftermath of that little exercise, however, a question arose as to an answer. An e-mail was sent to Prof. CivPro and he responded to all of us.

One extremely intelligent and oh-so-thoughtful classmate of mine, however, decided to then write an e-mail to a friend which was also accidentally sent to Prof. CivPro.

Prof. CivPro sent the following out to the rest of us:

"Here is a slightly-edited response that I received after my last

'so what? Did they (just by knowing about the lawsuit going
on) have actual notice or not? I wish this jack*** would just answer the f***ing
question in simple, easy to understand terms.'

And by the way . . . anonymous grading is a wonderful thing."

Thus began the rumors that Prof. CivPro was going to increase the difficulty of the final. Where he wasn't able to exact justice upon the idiot that sent the e-mail, he punished us all.

The only thing is: I don't really blame him.

Never again will I minimize the implications of taking a multiple-choice test.

Never ever ever again.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Ghosts of Christmas Past Still Haunt Me

A very many of my family Christmases consisted of my brother and I ripping into the wrapped packages handed us by our excited mother; my grandmother taking the occasional picture; my stepfather looking quietly on; and my grandfather sitting at a table, smoking a cigarette and commenting, with every gift opened, “You kids don’t know how spoiled you are . . . Why when I was your age we were lucky if we got anything for Christmas.”

I laugh when I think about it now. At the time, however, my grandfather’s commentary was a bit annoying. It was as if he was appointed the role of Scrooge. But, as I would discover growing up, he was right. And he was very much more like Santa, instead.

We were lucky, too, that we got anything for Christmas—much less all that we were blessed with. The first Christmas we spent after my parent’s divorce, I was five and my brother three, was with those grandparents. My mother couldn’t afford to get us anything for Christmas so, I believe, my grandparents did.

That morning we were finally allowed to get out of bed to find a virtual city of Hot Wheels and nearly the entire He-Man collection—with both the castle of Grayskull and He-Man’s castle. As my brother and I opened our gifts and played with them, my grandfather sat in his customary spot at the dining room table smoking a cigarette. That morning, however, I don’t believe he had anything to say about our Christmas fortunes.

Instead, as I recall, he just sat at the end of the table staring ahead and watching us occasionally with little expression. As I have come to know him now, however, I can almost guarantee that beyond that expressionless exterior was a man filled with pride, his heart swelled, with the joy that those Christmas surprises brought us. I don’t know why when I think about that Christmas morning the only person I can remember is my grandfather. Perhaps that is reason.

The next Christmas, my mother found herself in the same hopeless position. She told me years later: a couple weeks before Christmas she sat at her desk, working for an after-hours answering service, and cried because she had nothing to give us. Apparently this caught the attention of her boss and a couple co-workers. As she tells it, these people volunteered to give her kids a Christmas. They didn’t have to; they wanted to. They would take nothing in return.

I remember that being one of the best Christmas mornings I have ever had.

My mother believes Christmas is entirely about giving. Looking back, I can understand why. Her boss told her that year: “Don’t worry about paying me back; someday you can do the same for someone else.” To the best of her ability, I know she has.

And those weren’t the only hard years. Though my stepfather probably would rather I didn’t know, my mother tells me one Christmas he pawned a few of his most valued possessions so that he could afford to buy us Christmas. Another year he borrowed from a loan shark. That was probably not the most astute financial decision.

Needless to say, however, my brother and I very rarely went without. I suppose that is one reason why, at the age of 26, I am beginning to feel some guilt at not yet having “Paid It Forward.” I just don’t give enough; I just don’t have enough to give. I look forward to the day when I will.

People have commented before on my unabashed conservativeness and assumed that “conservative” equals “heartless.” If that were true then one could assume every liberal were a bastion of compassion and giving. I know that is not true either when I can watch a Hollywood star on a primetime news show, plugging his new movie while lamenting the fact that the government doesn’t want to take more of his money to give to the poor. Yet, I don’t see him offering to take that money, which by his own admission he is not entitled, and give it directly to the poor and needy himself.

No. Politics is politics. What’s in a man’s heart is another matter altogether. There is no better time for giving us a better glimpse into this reality than Christmas. That is one reason “The Christmas Carol” is such a timeless classic. Nearly everyone has a little Scrooge but what becomes of that Scrooge during the Holidays is most important.

And, just as the Scrooge can come in all shapes, sizes and political affiliations, so can the Santa in us. If you want an example of this: pay attention to who rings the bells for the Salvation Army. (Just don’t look for them at Target anymore.)

As for me, this will be my wife’s first Christmas away from family. She is a CNA at a local nursing home and she will be working Christmas eve and Christmas day. So my first priority is to attempt making her day better. I have plans to don a Santa cap on Christmas day and spend it with the elderly residents in her care. Instead of lying lazily around a house littered with shreds of wrapping paper and filled with the smell of a Christmas turkey, we will be with those who also are without family.

I will bring my Bible and read the story of Christ’s birth to whoever will listen. I also plan to hopefully get a copy of “The Night Before Christmas” to share. And the rest of the time I will sit with these people in front of a television playing TNT’s 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” while simply enjoying the day in an unconventional way.

“Deck da hars wif bows of horry. Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra. Tis da season to be jorry. Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra.”

Thank you to all the people in my life who have taught me what Christmas is about.

It should be a nice Christmas, indeed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Contracts Today

In approximately one hour I will begin taking my first real law school exam.

Prof. Contracts likes to be different. So instead of giving us as much writing space-- and limiting the time to 4 hours. . .

He says 4 hours is more than enough time. But he has limited the space to one page per question. In that space, we are to identify the issues HE believes are the most important and argue for and against a position. Fun Fun.

First Christmas Wish: More space on the Contracts exam.

Second: More time on the Torts exam.

Third: Oh, wait, Prof. CivPro is giving a multiple choice test. I'm cool with that.

On a lighter note:
Over the past two days I have listened to every Contracts lecture since October 1st.

Prof. Contracts is a very amusing guy. Too bad we miss half of his jokes while we are actually in class . . . attempting to stay awake.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Today's "Wake Up & Smell the Coffee" Moment

It has been repeatedly said, “you can’t legislate morality.”

This is absolutely false.

Morality has been the foundation of nearly every law created since man learned to write. Laws are nothing less than morality codified.

The question asked is not, “can we legislate morality?”

The question has always been: “Whose morality will we legislate by?”

(This has been another "Wake Up & Smell the Coffee" moment brought to you by your very own "I'm-tired-of-people-continuing-to-delude-themselves-so-that-they-can-feel-good-and-always-be-right" Law Student.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Few Thoughts

The week before finals begin.

Tomorrow is my last day for classes. Then begins what ought to be a furious studying frenzy where I amass and read stacks of old tests from my Profs, make flashcards, finish outlines, then re-do outlines, then finish them again, then re-do them, then finish them again, check notes, do practice questions, watch my hair begin to fall out, forget the sound of my wife's voice, forget the sound of my own voice, begin thinking the voice in my head is being heard by those around me, simultaneously forget that Christmas is nearly here while contemplating the following: (1) Does the letter I wrote Santa amount to an offer to be good, or an acceptance of his gifts, (2) if Santa is attacked by one of my dogs, am I liable? (3) Is Santa a trespasser . . . or could he be a business invitee? (4) If Santa fails to leave me any gifts, can I bring a type b class action claim against him on behalf of everyone else on the naughty list, seeking an injunction to get the gifts or would it be a type (c) while we seek remuneration for not having jack under our trees Christmas morning. There could also be some hazard posed by the coal left in my stocking.

But . . . the thing is, you see, I won't be doing any of that.

I haven't made any outlines.

I have neither the money to buy, nor the time to stare at, the commercial study material.

Half the time, the more I study-- the more I tend to forget.

I just found out my score from my Legal Practice final (which I took on my birthday, no less). I didn't make outlines or buy commercial materials or hunker down with study groups. I read the material assigned. I paid attention in class.

I made the highest score of the entire 1L class. (Along with one other 96%, that is).

I do feel a tinge of panic; perhaps a slight prick of insecurity as I watch my classmate's heads spin uncontrollably. But I have to wonder why they feel the need to expend so much energy.

I have a sneaking suspicion their efforts are made for one of 3 reasons: (1) Insecurity; (2) To look impressive [and intimidating]; or (3) Because they failed to do the work when it was assigned and/or failed to work at understanding the concepts when they were taught.

I am not claiming I will take home the highest scores on any of the three remaining finals. I know I will pass, however. I will, more than likely, maintain my scholarship. Of course I will study. And I won't resent those people who score higher than I.

In the meantime, between studying, I will enjoy helping my wife bake Christmas goodies. We will go to the drive-in movies this weekend. I will watch King of the Hill every night and the West Wing every Wednesday. And I will read the books I just received from

Aside from the 3 4-hour long tests I will be taking, this should be a good Christmas.
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