Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mental toughness

While I still feel like a puss-ass when it comes to really hunkering down, the hourage seems to flow by rather quickly. I don't keep track of the time that well. I think I woke up around seven thirty... went down and sat in front of the commuter goat and drank my cap and read the pressdemocrap.

The commuter goat is the fast version of the flying goat. No seats except for the two steel tables sitting outside with two chairs apiece, esconced in a small shopping center off center street here in Healdsburg. It's next to the cheese shop, a place I would go if I had any money at all. Me and Deb actually thought about buying.

Then back to the grind. I did 38 micromash mbe's that I had seen before, and scored about 60%. I'm slowing down now and looking more carefully at the answers. I've decided I don't need to do as many if I take more care to see why they are right or wrong. Then an torts essay from 87...then 30 more mbe's at about 70% from the pmbr's third book.

When the sun starts to set an orange glow comes through the pumpkin colored sheet of butcher paper that I wrote part of my evidence outline on. It covers the window and stretches across the walls with some of my other old outlines and commercial flowcharts. It has kind of a calming effect, sort of like a yoga class. I don't know how long I've been at it.

I know I went down to Parkpoint and swam for at least half an hour maybe forty five minutes. I've swam since I was four, so it's easy for me to get a good workout. The sun feels good. I want to sit on a lawnchair in the sun, like a teacher on summer break. No more summer vacation for me. But then again it wasn't that great anyway. I was broke all the time. Free time and no money, or no free time and money. What a choice. I go back to my hovel and listen to the torts lecture.

I think a lot of bar prep courses start with torts because it's so easy. They want you to get your confidence up, because confidence is absolutely key to succeeding. Once your confidence goes, then so do you.

I remember walking across a steep snow slop in the Sierras. For a time in my foolish twenties, I took to going into the wilderness alone.

I stepped across the slope and tried to place each foot in the holes made by other boots. It was still midafternoon, and the snow was melting. I reached a certain point and suddenly reflected upon the steep slope, and the inevitable broken rib or leg that would result from a spill, and instantly slipped, barely managing to keep from shootin down the hill.

Never halt on a shifting slope. Even if you think you have a firm foothold, as you take time to catch your breath and have a look at the sky, the ground will settle a little under your weight, the gravel will begin to slip imperceptibly, and suddenly it will drop away under you and launch you like a ship. The mountain is always watching for a chance to give you a spill.
-Rene Daumal

Monday, May 29, 2006

This bar lecturer says

"Everybody has an issue. Figure out what yours is."

I have more issues than National Geographic. And those aren't even related to the bar exam. The biggest problem right now is getting mbe's wrong that I SHOULDN'T because I know the law and understand how the answers are distinguishable.

What I mean by distinguishable is simple. You can get mbe's correct without even looking at the question, because many of them have three answers that are clearly different from the fourth. Got that?

It isn't a good thing, however, when you get a question right and realize when looking at the answer you didn't understand it. There isn't that much room for luck in this test.

So my issue right now is when I choose an answer and don't read the call of the question carefully enough.

Examples? "IF g is prosecuted for criminal homicide and goes down for involuntary manslaughter, which answer explains that result?"

All three of the sucker answers have someone who owes some duty of care to the vic. The other one doesn't. See what I mean? I end up guessing that a mountain climbing guide is sort of like a common doesn't sound right, but that's all I got.


UFC 60

No surprise at all, Royce Gracie manages to last only four and half minutes or so against Matt Hughes, proving again that the American wrestlers have learned everything the Gracies taught us ten years ago when they whooped our asses again and again. The secret is out, so they need to evolve. We figured them out.


make flash cards from applicable law in mbe's...identify difficult and easy questions....

so far today...30 micromash new questions, property at passer ten property on conveyancing at 30% and then ten property mbe's in set four at property essay on conveyancing and recording statues, adverse possession (winter 1991). Most issues spotted....It's not even noon...

And in Kabul

Upon hearing of a traffic accident which triggered protests in Kabul, I was intrigued. Apparently some humvees ran into some traffic, and at least one person was killed. While the word "protestor" barely applies to a lot of the Islamist rioters who are constantly going berserk in the streets at the drop of a hat while throwing acid in womens' faces later on in the day for walking uncovered, it certainly doesn't apply to the stone throwers on the scene of the accident, who upon seeing Americans getting into a car accident, became not protestors, but rioters.

How exactly the western tradition of protesting by waving signs, making speeches and marching got mixed up with the middle-eastern tradition of berserk mobs rioting over some perceived injustice like a cartoon or a beauty pageant is beyond me, but I won't blame the press. They have a lot of sound-bites to turn out.


Sour grapes

One cannot read a lot of blogs by lawyers and law students without feeling a certain element of disdain, or jealousy, or simple disgust. It's a lot like reading a "ad" by a woman who would never date you.

"I work out twelve times every day and speak forty-two languages and have traveled to every country in the world..twice...I make three hundred thousand dollars a year...
blah blah blah...fuck you, you skinny bitch.

So much of who we are is where we are from. There is always the "rags to riches" Horatio Alger shit we hear, but most of it is the story of George Bush; Born on third base and convinced he hit a triple.

I won't be clerking for a judge while awaiting the bar results. I didn't learn shit at my clerkship. My girlfriend isn't a software engineer for google. There is no "inevitable silver candlestick" in my future.Slate

I'm not "doing lunch with Chelsea".

That being said, I am from an upper-middle class family. My Dad was a doctor, I grew up in a pretty little town called Napa in the wine country. I had college paid for. I screwed around and ended up a teacher. I didn't get good career advice.

The whole concept that you must go to college, without a grounding in why or how, is a recipe for disaster. Hence the last ten years of my life that I didn't find nearly as fun as Frank McCourt did. I think I identify with "the substitute" more....

I'm sitting in the flying goat the other day and some lady is talking to her friend the doctor about how she's injured because she fell off her horse. The other day a woman was eating a danish with a knife and fork. It irritated the fuck out of me.

My sister lives in a million dollar mansion and she does nothing. Her husband tints windows or something like that. His dad bought the mansion...they hardly ever make a payment.

Meanwhile I live in a 850 square foot rotting victorian in charming Healdsburg..funky...drop something in the kitchen and it will roll toward the west. The sink is cracked, the bathroom actually adjoins the kitchen! Where is the justice?

The only thing that gives me hope is watching the housing market crash, as I predicted. As everyone else is watching "flip this house" I'm watching interest rates. Grease monkeys sitting on a million dollar house who got lucky and decided to take out loans to buy SUV's and giant screen televisions are gonna go down...hard...and the interest-only loan morons are going with them, hopefully opening up some litigation against predatory lenders...

I'll do anything to avoid facing the fact that I've done hundreds of property mbe's and I still can't get more than 50%...

Sunday, May 28, 2006


May 16 I have done over 1000 mbe's...

50 Bar Passer mbe's on Torts today...72%...

The basic plan so far...

Wake up and go get a cap...
1.come home and do at least 30 mbe's...
If I'm not doing good on the mbe's then quit and do barpasser mbe's. They are easier. Come back later to Micromash or PMBR and try to get through them. If the explanation for why the mbe is wrong doesn't make sense IGNORE IT. There are a certain number of mbe's that are NOT demonstrably wrong and the explanations are nonsense.
2. outline an essay.
3. make flashcards from the sample answer of that essay of the rules of law that are general enough to be valuable. Ignore rules that are too specific and rely upon mbe's to get that. Check the Conviser mini-review or Micromash in-depth materials if the law is unclear. Higlight that section.
4. 30 more mbe's
5. another essay and do flash cards
6. 30 more mbe's
7. outline another essay and make flash cards
8. Listen to PMBR or barbri lecture. Check out Vivian Dempsey's suggestions in her binder on essay writing.
9. When you get a complete set of flash cards for a subject, review that law to make sure the set IS complete.

Take assorted breaks in between. Don't block out specific times like "twelve to twelve thirty, jog". The routine will kill your enthusiasm. DON'T allow interruptions unless they are in between. Push through the boredom but also be willing to just stop. Part of the building the mental toughness is finding pleasure in the puzzle and the challenge. Sometimes there is more going on than lack of willpower. Face that.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Degree conferred...

Got my letter in the mail today...some of the most beautiful words in the English language: "It's benign" "the test results are negative" and "degree conferred"...

Friday, May 26, 2006

The top

I'm having a tough time with the essays. The bar is it's own animal. A uniquely stylized exam for which the authors know exactly what they want. They are in some small way, works of art and beauty. Carefully crafted with facts, each of which speak to some issue. "Ever fact has a home" says cal bar exam man....

The process here, is not writing, but outlining, and my organization is poor. I think while I write. I don't conclude before I write, because the writing itself is the thinking. For the sake of ease on the grader, it must be so. I am not writing for someone who wants to read for pleasure, but someone who is pissed that they have to read. For them it is a chore.

Spot the straw man, knock it down. The really difficult thing is spotting 'non-issue' issues. They are barely related to the facts, and it's hard to see how they are, but they must be talked about. The facts don't give you an argument, but they do give rise to some type of discussion. The question is, which discussion. It's like having an argument with someone and at some point them saying "I don't want to hear that" and they won't. And they decide if you pass.


"Keep your eye fixed on the way to the top, but don't forget to look right in front of you. The last step depends on the first. Don't think you're there just because you see the summit. Watch your footing, be sure of the next step, but don't let it distract you from the highest goal. The first step depends on the last."
-Renee Daumal

Mount Shasta

This mountain is a Northern California favorite and a mongolian clusterfuck. A "gentle giant" with usually good weather, just a few steep sections, and a long, slow slog to the top. I've climbed it twice. The wind has been known to blow climbers right off the side of the mountain, and somebody dies there every year. My friends got lost in a whiteout up there...

"In the mythic tradition, the Mountain is the bond between Earth and Sky. Its solitary summit reaches the sphere of eternity, and its base spreads out in manifold foothills into the world of mortals. It is the way by which man can raise himself to the divine and by which the divine can reveal itself to man." ~ Rene Daumal

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Teacher man

I fall asleep reading Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man" every night. Even at 1:30, it's hard to fall asleep after being wound up from law study. Reminds me of being a teacher myself, of course, although I never considered the possibility of being an author about teaching. I simply don't have the inspiration he has. Or perhaps the situation is so different. Sure NY is a tough place, but things have changed. I would be willing to bet he wasn't insulted and threatened the way I was, by kids, parents and teachers. I'd be willing to bet he wouldn't be a teacher had he been born later.

The school across the street gets out and my nerves get frayed. They don't just hang out. They SCREAM. Loudly. Regularly. There sense of what is right and wrong, of simple, basic manners, is gone. Totally gone. They are a generation at war with itself. Though most of those kids are normal and nice, there are enough of them who act so horribly, it scars one.

I remember a girl walking up to a classroom I was subbing for, swearing. I asked her to stop. She said "Don't tell me what to do." "You ain't nothin'" ...."I ain't nothin'?". She repeats herself and stalks away, defiant. Mistake on her part. I ask around and find a kid who doesn't like her. Divulges she plays volleyball. Go find a yearbook.. volleyball team her name.

Call the Mom. Like most parents, pissed of. "Sir, I am SO SORRY!!" The girl approaches me the next day "Mr. Francis, I'm sorry" I look at her coldly. She's a liar. She isn't sorry. She's sorry she got caught. I know what she is like now. She isn't a nice person. Or if she is, she's picked up some habits from the wrong crowd and isn't that the way it is? The kids feed off each other. Nice kids act in ways you cannot imagine. I look back at her "I'm somebody now, ain't I?"

A rare victory. Most of the parents can't command their kids. No fear. Some parents are awful. Usually white ones and black ones. Most are wonderful. They want something better for their kids. I pick up that phone and the kid begs me not to do that. He'll get hit with a frying pan. It sounds terrible but for some of these kids, I don't see an option. Most of them don't deserve that, but a good proportion need nothing but an ass kickin'. Take them down a notch.

I'm not Frank McCourt. I don't see the charm in them telling me "fuck you" to my face. I want to teach them a lesson. I trained for hours on the punching and kicking bags...the jiu-jitsu, the Karate. I could smash a stack of five boards with my hand and four with my shin. I loved grappling. I sat around watching the UFC and worshipping the Gracies. The students knew I was not an ordinary guy. Not afraid of them. At least most of them.

There were, of course, giant, hulking kids who could crush my with their pinky. Dominique must have been 350 pounds. He was rude, but not mean. I could control him. He didn't do anything that bad. I remember him saying "Mr. F, why don't you get in my face?" I said "because your big and scary". He had me cold. I was a bit of a bully at times, but I felt bad if I was and the kids knew it. I was quick with the apology and the witty line. I gave them a lot of leeway.

I wasn't strict. But I had my limits. They had their's. It worked, for the most part, except for the sociopaths. There were some kids who went to far. I would take them outside and berate them. Or just talk to them gently. If I got them alone they wouldn't be embarrassed. They would also not have to show off. If they wanted to kick my ass, there I was. But without an audience, they weren't embarrassed enough to attack me. People can take anything but public humiliation.

Most of the time I joked with them, and sometimes tried to teach history. There were brief moments where I held them in the palm of my hand. It was "preach on, brotha". Moments of brevity.

Say "Whassup Nigga", Mr. F. "NO, I'm not going to say that". Come on, say it. NO. I could be silly. Drive the bus wheel..stir the pot...pop my colla..."sig" on people. To the kid eating the junk food with the big belly. "Ever heard of the four food groups?" I was one of them, but up there.

Every now and then I exploded. Yelled. They loved that. It made them feel powerful. They would push and push, and push some more. I would get no support from the office or anyone, usually. Then, when they went to far, I would lose my cool. It was too much. I was an angry man every day. And I hated being angry.

They would come in late. Talk back. Not do their homework. Interrupt. Ask for makeup work they wouldn't do. Can I go to the bathroom? Disappear for half an hour. Steal the x-box or dvd player I brought so they could be entertained. It was my fault for leaving stuff in the class when a sub was here. Their sense of right and wrong was warped.

The admin would show up like royalty. It's all about the tests. High scores, good. Low scores, bad. They didn't have a clue about how the tests are a function of socio-economic status and home life. The kid has been someone's kid for seventeen years and I'm supposed to change the fact that he can't and won't read in one hour? Fuck you. Those who can't do teach. Those who can't teach become Principals.

They undermined me. Didn't support me. Downright tried to destroy me because of how obvious it was that they disgusted me. Some of them were ok. Most were simply fools. Dangerous, useless fools. There was always a split in the faculty. Those who touted the part line and those who did not. The company people and the real teachers. Most schools are run by petty Stalinists, who set up Iranian rubber-stamp parliaments and such to support their decisions. Don't do what they want, you get a bad room, and bad assignments. We'll transfer shitheads into his class, but won't transfer any shitheads out.

I had a girl who set someone's hair on fire transferred in from another school. Nobody told me what she did. A lot of the kids were on probation for various crimes. One girl was on her third kid. There was a child care center across the hall. A stupid idea, I thought. Making it socially acceptable to be a welfare mom at seventeen. A stupid idea.

I left the career behind. There was no spirit in me anymore. I went through the motions, occasionally stood up for ten minutes. They couldn't handle any more than that before they started to act out. Don't try to teach too much. Give an assignment. Let them work on it our not. Busywork.

I liked teaching Francis, as my mentor said once. You don't teach history. You teach Francis. That's the way you end up. Not the topic sentence. Not the Wilmot Proviso. You teach them the story. People caught in the crush of events. People living, loving, dying, praying. Real stories. Where are we now and why are we here?

I taped Bin Laden back in 1999 and played it to the kids. This man will have an impact on your lives. Take off your shoe. Where did that shoe come from? China? Taiwan? El Salvador? You think the world is all about America but in this room we are hooked into the world. Nothing is an island unto itself anymore. Your car is made of mostly foreign parts. If you think the world doesn't matter, then you are wrong. You may not care about the world, but the world cares about you. And it will come home to you. I wonder how many people in the WTC heard that. Stand up and take notice of what is happening. You may not like history, but don't let history happen to you without understanding it, because it's sad to watch people caught up in all that. There you are, in the desert, with a gun. You can barely read. You don't know why you are here, dying, killing, in this strange land.

And then they go home to their mostly bleak lives and a home without books and just one parent. Their worries are the gang down the street. Does that girl love me? Mom has heart disease. My grandmother died.

The kid sits there in a desk, silent. Stewart says something to him. Stewart is a skinny, incredibly strong, funny kid. AN expert in the martial arts. I liked Stewart. He made a comment to the kid. "Leave me the fuck alone". I told him he had to go. He left and I never saw him again. I could see his muscles tensing up. It would have been a bad fight. He was a larger, stronger kid. Stewart a trained fighter.

I never saw that kid again. His grandmother had died. His only person. All he had. In retrospect, I wished I had been more slow to react. Less afraid of the violence. More aware of what was happening. They get lost so quickly. Like the kid in SF on Union Square. Homeless. Chad Reiswig. Homeless and addicted to drugs. His crazy dad, and I mean crazy (he heard voices)drove him away. I asked him how he was doing. He was going to get a job at the baseball stadium. I left him quickly, fearful and hurtful. He was a lost cause. Do you know how hard it is to give up on a kid? the wounded. Forget the dying.

I played the news channel all day on 911, in a sort of shocked glee. It was like a terrible earthquake for a geologist. So horrible, so much to learn. But what affects their lives, here and now, is so much closer to home. It's so hard to get people to understand how big the world is when it is already too complicated for them...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Writing and typing

One important method of memorizing the rules for essays is recitation. While most deny they do it, most do it in one form or another. That is the main essential point of an outline. Flash cards are better, as T. Wise points out. At least in his and my opinion.

Recitation, either orally, in writing, or in typing is essential, and there is some debate over which is most effective. I believe that all three in conjunction are best. Typing is fastest. Writing is slower, but that is the point. It allows you to linger over the phrases longer and thus absorb them better. Some people think if you memorize the law through writing, then you shouldn't type your essays. I think that's bs. If you know it, then you know it. It's either there or it isn't.

There was a surgeon in Canada who used electrical impulses on the brains of subjects of his experiment. He found out that it triggered random memories, and inferred from that that the brain doesn't actually forget anything, ever. It simply stores it in a manner that you may never recall it.

On another topic, the intuitive attack on MBE's also has some element of truth. If you ever read the book "Blink" you might know what I'm talking about. Guessing, as it turns out, isn't something to laugh at...


From the book:
"It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Grand Teton

That hill made my legs sore....

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place?
Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.

-- Rene Daumal

Yeah I climbed it...

But I had a guide...

Con Law revisited....

I always liked con law...I've always been able to identify with public policy law and even though much of con law makes absolutely no sense, there usually is some tenuous relationship to reality that makes it memorable. As opposed to the various arbitrary bright-line rules in existence today that one can only memorize as an abstract fact, disconnected from any logical reason. I cannot, for example, ever explain to you why future interests need to be so complex. Except to give us jobs. Or a future interest in another career.

Con law mbe's are good because you can often spot the case they are testing, or the rule. I got an answer right a few minutes ago not because I understood the question, but because I only recognized one of the answers as a statement of law I had seen before...what exactly that tests? Don't know. Don't care.

Also, my friend Brian Kelly has given me the heads-up on a website that has some helpful advice...Cal Bar Exam

I like the approach. He claims that the secret is practice over study, and keeping your mind and body together...I agree that practice is probably the key. The question is HOW you practice. But that is another post....

106 mbw'a...two conlaw essays outlined...not very well... The last thirty con law mbe's....60%

CPA exam not harder than Bar exam..

I was avoiding studying and came across a surprising statistic; while Cal bar exam pass rates hover around 48% or so, the national CPA pass rate is about 30%. This leads to the erroneous conclusion, perhaps, by many observors, that the bar is easier. Upon investigation I found a survey of people who took both (which doesn't state WHICH bar exam, I don't think, a significant omission) and who concluded that there isn't a difference in relative difficulty. The main difference between the pass rates is probably the level of education required to take the test: school and undergrad.

The California Bar exam is notorious for being one of the toughest, for a few different reasons, one of them being that it is physically the most demanding, lasting for six hours a day for three days. It is probably graded harder than a lot of other bar exams, although the material, I have heard, isn't as tough as some other bar exams in other states. That's why you will probably still be reading my blog in Feb....

CPA exam harder than the bar?

Monday, May 22, 2006

I imagine

The most generic way to approach my odyssey here would be to report daily on my mbe's...but that seems really boring. Nonetheless, it is relevant. All relevant evidence is admissible....oh, sorry...

Anyway yesterday my soul was crushed by this property mbe that I STILL don't understand. There were seven parties and fourteen dates all out of order. Mortgages...conveyancing...recording. I finally realized it was designed to waste my time, even though there were four questions attached to it. The strategy then is to spot questions like this, skip them, and return and guess on any remaining time you might have.

After struggling at the property mbe's like a mouse moving a barbell, I moved back to evidence. The strangest thing happened. Forty mbe's later I was at around 77%.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rage against the mbe...

I threw my book across the room. I'm exhausted. I can't get more than fifty percent on the property mbe's. The facts are too convoluted to get through in such a short period of time. In desperation, I checked the web and found out that, according to T.Wise, even Barbri admits with property and contracts, it's damage control. 50% is the proper score and you look to other subjects to get you through...
Contracts and property are the most difficult MBE subjects, and the average number of questions answered correctly on those topics is around 50%. As BarBri says, your goal with those topics is "damage control," not getting a high score. Torts, constitutional law, criminal law and evidence are easier, and that is where applicants can focus more of their study time to improve their score.
===================Bar Exam Primer
In the same vein "girl walks into a bar exam" has several posts explaining why she thinks the PMBR questions are artificially difficult. While it is apparent that some of the property questions are unnavigable, it's better to hear it from others...

PMBR sucks


North Palisade

North Pal is one of California's "fourteeners" and a coveted mountain. To summit, one navigates the crevasse at the bottom of the left chute, crampons up the steep slope, and then rock climbs to the top left pinnacle.

This mountain

The party was's funny what happens to people when you go through bs like law matter what you think of them, there is always this feeling of grudging respect and warm affection. It was at a small private winery in Sebastopol and we drank sangria and schmoozed, munched on roast beef and toasted to our success. Fortunately it did not rain. We took pictures and hugged and hugged more as the blood-alcohol level increased. There were the usual conversations about mbe's and whatnot which annoyed me, but what else do we have in common...the main thing law school does to you is make you a very uninteresting person. Even those convinced that they are very interesting people. Especially those people.

I have heard the quickest way to bore people is talk about yourself...of course that is what I'm doing now. But I'm not getting a lot of responses at the moment here anyway. Throw me a frickin' bone here...

I woke up early despite the excessive amounts of straight Tequila, drove down in the rain to the organic bakery on Healdsburg square and sat in the front looking at the trees, watching the intermittent rain come down.

It reminded me of all those quiet moments spent in the mountains. Waking to the sound of birds and big silence. Wet nylon, mud and dead pine needles underfoot. When I climbed mountains.

I've been a pedestrian climber for a while now. I climbed Mt. Shasta twice. North Palisade. The Royal Arches in Yosemite. The Exum route on the Grand Teton. This morning reminded me of those mornings. Getting up in the morning blackness. Pulling on your clothes and bracing yourself against the icy air. Cold metal clinking. The glowing dawn spreading in the distance. Fear. Exertion. Suffering. Moving over stone.

You go through the whole range of emotions. Elation. Anger. Sadness. The desire to turn around. Firm resolution.

Mountains are motivating. The red PMBR book is not. That is why I regard the bar exam as the hardest thing I have ever done. Not that I have done it yet, but the mental toughness required to push through the boredom separates us. Do people without an inner life do better in such situations? I can't say. I just know that the world calling to me outside my window is a glaring vulnerability, requiring serious composure.
In 1944 the French Alpinist, Poet, Surrealist, Sanskritist and pupil of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff who called himself René Daumal; told the story of eight Knowledge-Seeking artists and scholars who set out in Quest of a mysterious Mountain that unites Heaven and Earth.

This book continues the story started by Daumal who died, leaving the novel to end in midsentence. Mt. Analogue is a Vision of a cosmic axis linking the human realm of civilization to a higher order of existence.

René died of tuberculosis before finishing telling us of his own ascent of Mount Analogue; but before he died he Communicated to us one of the basic laws of this metaphysical mountain. I offer you here Renés own words:

"To reach the summit, one must proceed from encampment to encampment. But before setting out for the next refuge, one must prepare those coming after to occupy the place one is leaving. Only after having prepared them can one go on up. That is why, before setting out for a new refuge, we had to go back down in order to pass our Knowledge on to other Seekers."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Holding steady

at 60% on evidence MBE's....that means that I'm able to narrow them down to two and guess enough to garner that extra ten percent...character evidence and cross-examination seem to be a favorite of theirs because of the subtle nuances in the rules you must know...probably because it's easy to craft questions that where the answer is clearly correct and the others are clearly wrong...which if you have studied these question you know is really quite difficult to do, since very little in the law is "always" and the language of any question lends itself to ambiguities where reasonable people can differ...I don't have time to break these questions down the way I would like to demonstrate their fundamental flaws, but if you've done them, you know what I mean. And the bar graders don't care. Yes, the bar exam is unfair. Life is unfair. What is your point?

Here's a link

What works

While I make no claim about the veracity of the information, it sounds good from what I know...

Day four

I don't know what happened to yesterday. It's a blur of outlining evidence, failing miserably at MBE's (I'm holding steady at about sixty per cent) and an abortive essay attempt...something about character evidence.

I've moved away from the micromash software for a moment, because I'm focusing on evidence right now and it insists I do real property. I think a concerted effort to outline evidence, do evidence mbe's and then do evidence essays will yield greater results, and I appear to be learning the law better, rather than in the disjointed fashion the software seems to insist upon.

I rented "Oz" by HBO to take my mind of stuff, but it's boring, and I forgot it was boring. Maybe I'll go see the DaVinci code. I wonder if I'm supposed to do the "study for ten hours a day" schtick but I think it's bullshit. I think most people are lying when they say they do that; it's more like stare at the books for a couple hours and on-task for a couple of hours...bullshit with your friends, make some phone calls, and claim that that was "studying".

I don't know the studies but I would be willing to bet that anything more than six hours of direct on task learning probably gets you a net loss of information....

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

day two of studying for the California Bar

Thirty mbe's later and I'm at 46% on that one....damn....the hard thing about these question is not getting bored and trying to skim through them. They throw in one word to trick you. If people say the mbe's aren't set up to trick people, they are lying or are stupid. The hardest thing is trying to translate the awful language that is written poorly ON PURPOSE to murk up the meaning. Law students and attorneys make their living off of translating bad writing. And some of them make a living producing more bad writing. Of course, there are sometimes no easy ways to say things, but there is a substantial number of people out there who rely upon obscurantism to convince others of their brilliance. Clarity...clarity...clarity....


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Take the bar with me...'s official...I'm studying for the bar exam...I signed up for Micromash because I've seen the barbri video tapes and consider them a complete waste of time. A home study course, for the self-disciplined seems the better way to go. I work on the MBE's mainly, at this point, and occasionally look at barbri's "conviser mini-review" which I consider an absolute treasure.

The bar exam is unfair, malicious, but it's the game we have to play. I spend a good amount of time studying what people say rather than the bar itself. It's a good time waster, but it's a lot more interesting. I came across one comment from some jackass from Columbia "the bar is mere formality for us". Right. That's why one out of ten of your illustrious students fail? If your so fucking brilliant, how do you get into such a school and then fail the bar? Oh, because they have "other" things going on? Bullshit. They fail because it's hard, they didn't study hard enough, and that's the bottom line. Witness the embarrassement of the former Stanford Dean's failure on the California bar and the subsequent assholeness of her law firm, blaming the graders.

If I fail, it will because I didn't study hard enough, the test is unfair, and I didn't get lucky enough to be tested on something I knew.

Time for some MBE's....

Monday, May 15, 2006

From "anonymous lawyer"-paralegals who become law students

One of the things about attending law school is that there are a variety of people who have experience in the field. Not being lawyers, mind you, but being paralegals. They are often under the impression that they know something about the law, which is true to the extent that a nurse knows something about medicine. It doesn't mean they understand what doctors do. They don't. They have the most vague outline at best, and at worst are dangerous. Paralegals are not lawyers. Paralegals are not lawyers. Did I mention that paralegals are not lawyers?

I always tried to be nice to them when they came into the library. I told them that the what they know that is real law is going to hurt them in law school, because law students study academic law, not the real law. The two hardly ever meet.

The truth is that they are hurt by their experience because they don't know how much they don't know. Which is little different from most of the twits who roll through the library, except that their misconception of their relative ability and knowledge is bolstered by their experience and probably the words of an attorney patronizing them to get the best performance possible.

An example of such a twit? My buddy and I were sitting in the library the other day studying for the bar, and this woman goes "boy I wish I was in your position." and I looked at her, with a raised eyebrow and said "studying for the bar?" To which this brilliant rejoinder ensued. "I'd rather take the bar than study CONTRACTS". We went back to studying....

anyway, here's a good post from "anonymous lawyer".

From a reader e-mail: "Perhaps a blog post should address the topic of dealing with paralegals who are either attending or planning to attend law school."

I hate paralegals who are planning to attend law school. They're so needy. They want to learn what it's like to work at the firm, they want recommendation letters, they want to stay for a year and then go away, and then bombard us with their resume once they're at school, begging to come back as a summer associate.

Paralegals are service providers. They need to do their job and be quiet. The problem with paralegals who are planning to go to law school is that they have a different agenda than the one they ought to have to be a successful paralegal. They're reluctant to do the busy-work that their job consists of. They want learning opportunities. They want to see the kinds of things associates get to see. They want to know about the cases they're working on. They want to get a sense of what the lawyers do. But they can't. They're just paralegals. They're confused. They think spending a year as a paralegal is going to give them some special insight into how the firm operates, and help them get a job down the road. They think they'll learn things that'll help them in law school. They won't. They'll learn things that'll help them if they want to work as a professor's secretary in law school, not if they want to be a law student. It's like working as a coat check girl to learn how to be a chef. Sorry. You're not welcome in the kitchen. It's like working as a receptionist in a doctor's office to learn how to be a brain surgeon. Not going to happen.

I want paralegals who've already given up on life. Who've accepted that a paralegal is all they are and all they'll ever be. People with no hope. No pride. No ego. People who are willing to count the pages to make sure all seven thousand are accounted for, and then do it again just to make sure. People who won't talk back. People who will obey without question. Like the Germans who obeyed Hitler. Not the ones who actually hurt anyone, but just the ones who didn't talk back. That's the model paralegal. Or the average American television viewer. The ones who'll watch anything and don't want to actively change the channel. Idiots. I want idiots. Competent idiots, who can staple right, but idiots nonetheless. Maybe idiot savants, who can count a stack of cards but can't interact with other humans. Perfect.

Paralegals who want to go to law school? No thanks. Let them work at day care centers instead. That's better training for law school. Dealing with babies all day. Cry babies. "I didn't get a clerkship. I'm sad." Pathetic.

Friday, May 12, 2006