Friday, October 28, 2011

Finished evidence, on to real property

The last couple of subjects, criminal procedure and evidence, have been slow going.  They are very mechanical, rule based subjects, something that my background in engineering should find interesting, but just looking at all the rules, traditional common law exceptions, federal rules, etc., made simply covering the material exhausting.  I don't look forward to having to go back and start memorizing all that stuff.

Real property and torts left in the main outline.  Real property has always been fun.  Similar to every other subject, it has lots of rules, but for some reason I enjoyed property - one of my favorite 1L subjects (first year law).  I think I'm a bit behind my original study plan, but nothing to make me worry so far.  My goal is to have the outline read by next week and move to the Florida specific outline.  Once all that is read, go back and start memorizing, which should lead right into the lectures.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Older movie spoiler review: Source Code

Jake Gyllenhaal is
Captain Colter Stevens
And here we have another chapter in our older movie spoilerish reviews.  This time around, we have the pseudo sci-fi movie Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga.  Source Code is a well crafted movie with an interesting premise.  The movie opens with Gyllenhaal awaking with a start in a commuter train.  Monaghan sits across from him and she's chatting with him, thanking him for his previous advice.  Gyllenhaal is disoriented, has no idea who Monaghan is, and says to her that he is Captain Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot serving in Afghanistan.  Monaghan laughs, as she had been addressing him as Sean, and asks him whether he is fine.

Gyllenhaal then catches a glimpse of himself on the train window, and is suddenly even more confused.  He dashes to the restroom, and discovers that his face isn't as he remembers.  He returns to his seat, and after a brief conversation, the train explodes suddenly.  Gyllenhaal then awakens inside a dark chamber, strapped into his seat by a military style seat belt.  He is a bit gaunt, paler, and seems in distress.  A voice calls for him, saying that "this is Beleaguered Castle," and issues him commands.  Gyllenhaal is still confused, and doesn't recognized the person on the screen, a Captain Goodwin, played by Farmiga.  She then begins a cryptic sequence, involving cards and a woman, and suddenly Gyllenhaal remembers who Farmiga is, but is still confused about his whereabouts.

GTI unleashed

The new Serron wheels available only
in the autobahn package for the GTI
So...the standard GTI sold by VW in the US is rated at 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque.  It is a nice looking car, with superior interior and exterior build quality, and if you splurge on the top tier package, the Autobahn, you get leather seats, navigation, sunroof, fancy LED daylight driving lights, and a new kind of allow wheels, known as the Serron, which were introduced first in Europe in the Adidas edition of the GTI.

It is no slouch on the road either.  It can get to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, but if driven conservatively, yield a generous 25 mpg combined for the manual transmission.  Fancy pants DSG (a hybrid automatic/manual transmission) yields 27 mpg combined.  However, these numbers fall short of other import competitors such as Subaru and Mazda.  Of course, the Japanese imports lack some of the finesse, in both interior and handling, that the GTI brings to the table, but the GTI still falls short.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Amy Winehouse cause of death determined

Amy Winehouse during
better days
Amy Winehouse, the British blues singer with the powerful, soulful voice, who was found dead at hear apartment last July, has been examined by London's St. Pancras Coroner's Office.  Their official determination is that she died as a result of consuming "a very large quantity of alcohol," a level of "416 mg per decilitre" of blood, which is the equivalent of a 0.42 blood alcohol level, or over 5 times the legal limit in Florida, which is 0.08.

The singer, who rose to prominence with her Back to Black album, had been in the forefront of a blues revolution in England.  A number of female singers have followed on her path to success, most notably Adele, whose single "Rolling in the Deep" has reached number one in a number of countries.  Winehouse won five Grammys for her album, including Best Pop Vocal, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year.

10 years of Windows XP

Hard to believe that Windows XP was released ten years ago.  It was the mainstream 32-bit OS from Microsoft (Windows NT, their enterprise OS, was also 32-bit and was released earlier, but Windows 98, the version most people used, was still 16-bit), and rock solid.  So much so that it became the standard operating system for businesses and households everywhere.

It introduced a variety of changes to the OS, from ClearType, the display smoothing mechanism that makes fonts look better on LCD monitors, to the revamped Start button and the taskbar, XP brought game-changing features into Windows, and has an installed base of over 400 million, and probably many millions more of unofficial installations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Echo chamber

It's been a little over a month since I've started this blog, and it helped me put a lot of thoughts on paper.  Nonetheless, I sometimes wonder whether I'm just writing a diary - I seem to have some traffic, but no comments thus far, so in a sense, this is an echo chamber where my thoughts are on display, but no one to talk back.

I have also been feeling a bit under the weather again.  My flu seems to have returned, and I have that general sense of malaise.  Hopefully I'll get better by the end of the week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich...yum

I know that this is becoming more of a tech blog than a studying for the bar blog, but honestly, there is not much drama going on during my current studies.  Therefore, to spice things up a bit, here are some news from Google, android, and Samsung.

For those that are not obsessed with tech news, Google has a mobile OS platform named android that launched some 3 years ago.  They partnered up with a variety of carriers and manufacturers, in a broad approach similar to Microsoft in the computer world.  This OS is currently the dominant one in the smartphone arena, with notable examples being the Droid line of smartphones from Verizon, and the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II from Samsung available on most major carriers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nerf Vortex series in one word: awesome!

The rapid-fire Vigilon:
my weapon of choice
I was at Target today to pick up a gift, and as I wandered the toy isle with my son, we saw the new Nerf disc guns, their vortex line.  After a second's reflection - after all, we must be responsible parents - I got two pistols, one for me and one for my son.  I chose the Vigilon, a quick-reload pistol that holds 5+1 discs.  My son opted for the smaller Proton, a single shooter that reputedly shoots farther.

As soon as we got home we proceeded to lose 2 discs after a brief shoot-out.  I have to say, these guns are awesome.  The Vigilon, specially, with the quick reload function, can dish out massive damage in short order.  I wasn't as impressed with the Proton.  You have to hold the spare discs on your hand, and after every shot, you need to pull our the loading tray, load a disc, and press a side lever to load.  A bit clumsy, specially when you have to dodge discs being fired by a maniacal father.

Friday, October 14, 2011


When it comes to my children, I'm way overprotective.  My eldest is 14, and she just took her siblings walking to K-Mart, which is essentially one block away.  Curiously, I believe this is the first time they have walked by themselves to a store...ever.  Well, this can be easily explained by the fact that when we lived in Los Angeles, our house was on the hills, and the nearest store, a Whole Foods, would be literally a couple of miles downhill, on a winding, one lane road without sidewalks.  Obviously we never allowed our children to go walking to the store by themselves.

Here in Central Florida, everything is flat.  There are no hills, dips, valleys.  You can see for miles, it feels like.  Since we live near a major street, there are lots of shops and markets around us.  As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks after moving here, I recall taking one of my children and we walked to the local Publix supermarket.  It was muggy and hot, but fun as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Android or iOS?

Tandy's TRS-80
I consider myself a "geek" and lover of gadgets.  My very first computer experience was a TRS-80 from Tandy - go ahead and google it, I will wait.  Pretty odd looking device, no?  Very basic, too.  We actually had a primitive computer lab at my school in the early 80s, and by the mid-80s, it became a full-on computer lab with a few Apple II+.

Anyway, I haven't tinkered around computers as such for a while now.  I'm typing on a computer that I put together about 5 years ago, although I've upgraded the motherboard, CPU, and the graphics card in the interim.  Lately, I have enjoyed playing around with my phone, an android device I got last year.  The modern smartphone is a truly wondrous device, capable of so much more than those early computers - actually, they seem to be more powerful than even computers from a few years ago.  They have multitude of sensors, from GPS, to ambient light, to magnetometers, and so on.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Qwikster no more

The red envelopes will still
say Netflix for the near future
And they back-tracked.  Netflix has announced today they will no longer be spinning off their DVD rent-by-mail service into its own website.  Customer backlash has been loud - Netflix has lost a reportedly one million subscribers due to their latest price increase fiasco - and they were primed to lose even more if the proposed split had taken place.

Why split up video streaming and DVD mailing?  The costs associated with physical media delivery had always been high, with buying disks, postage, lost disks, etc.  Netflix had decided that streaming was the wave of the future, even though licensing costs have been on the rise the last few years, and will probably rise even more in the future.  Netflix has already lost Starz streaming programming due to licensing disputes.  Splitting the DVD service would mean that there wouldn't be as many visible gaps in their streaming inventory (since you won't see the missing items on the list as opposed to now).

Alas, Netflix has to figure out a new way to navigate future waters.  Competition from Hulu, Amazon Prime, Redbox, and other alternatives is only bound to get worse.  I still enjoy the service, and I've been on board since the beginning (I might still have that DVD tray Netflix mailed years ago), but I wonder whether I will still be a subscriber two, three, of four years from now.

Adventures on the way to getting passports

The key to travel overseas
Ah, passports.  Those little blue booklets that enable you to cross borders, travel to distant places, become a source for potential ID theft (for those fancy, RFID tags).  Since we're planning on travelling overseas at the end of the year, we decided that we have to renew our children's passports.

For those that don't know, the renewal process for an adult passport is ridiculously easy.  Fill out a form, online if you want and print it, write a check, put your old passport, completed form, and filled check in an envelope, and mail it.  About five weeks later, a brand new document that makes you feel like Jason Bourne or James Bond arrives in the mail.  That's it.  No hassles, no pain.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The next deluge

No one is singing right now
In Los Angeles, we were used to long dry spells followed by a few days of rain.  When it rained, it was usually an all-day affair, with stronger bursts during night followed by drizzle all day long.  In Florida, in typical tropical weather style, there would be sudden bursts of heavy rain that would stop after a few minutes.  I was told by the locals that this was the usual pattern.

Well, much to my surprise, I find myself sick - sore throat and now coughing - and in the third day of a continuous rainstorm.  Not light rain, either.  The children had tomorrow off for Columbus day, so we were planning to go somewhere, but with the weather acting up, we are just holed up.  Odd weather, I must say.

Criminal law and Castle

My latest find on Netflix has been Castle, a solve-the-crime-of-the-week television show with a bit of humor and a likable cast.  It stars Nathan Fillion of Serenity fame, and newcomer Stana Katic.  Fillion is a crime novel writer who teams up with Katic, a detective for the NYPD, and together they solve crimes.  I believe the show has just started its fourth season, but I'm at the beginning of season two.

This brings me to my current subject, Criminal Law.  I always enjoyed this area - my criminal law professor, Laurie Levinson, might be partly a reason why I like it.  She had been a member of the US Attorney's office in Los Angeles, and has been teaching for a couple of decades.  Her no nonsense attitude, and simple love of the law were contagious, and her lectures were always interesting.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New car stereo finally brings me to the 21st century

The RNS-315 VW stereo/navigation
unit - my new pride and joy.
Like most people (my age, I believe), I do most of my music listening in the car.  I remember when cars first started having CD players, and later on, when I discovered the joys of CD music burning.  I could put in 6 of my favorite mix CDs, about 20 songs each, for a total of 120 songs!  Plus, put them on random play, and it would just go on and on.

My previous car, I had a little adapter for an iPod, and in it most of my music library.  Nonetheless, I couldn't control the iPod via radio, and it was a bit hazardous to my health to control music playback while driving, so it ended up being playlists or auto-playlists.  Not so fun, and I never really liked using iTunes, specially on Windows computers, which I prefer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Being sick is no fun

Looks like I caught a nasty bug sometime recently.  Yesterday evening my throat started to feel a bit scratchy, so I took some vitamins and medicine before going to bed.  Woke up in the morning with a full blown headache, very sore throat, and feeling generally miserable.

I'm going to take the rest of the week off studying to see if I can recover faster.  The kids are off on Monday for Columbus Day, so we might do something this weekend, which hopefully won't make me worse.

Gratefully I have a lot of time before the exam.  More medicine before going to bed tonight.

P.S. In looking for pictures of thermometers, I realized that most of them are for the digital type.  I suppose the dangers of mercury have relegated the old glass types to the dustbin of other things from my past.  I still remember playing with little pools of mercury that came with a chemistry set I got when I was a little kid...ah the good old days.  I'm surprised I can even remember them with all the poisonous stuff I must have handled/eaten when I was a kid.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rest in peace, Mr. Jobs

Strange coincidences.  The day after the unveiling of the product he pioneered, Steve Jobs has been declared dead at age 56.  Remarkable that a man so young had such a profound influence in his own industry and through society in general.  His legacy is great, his impact on home computing and later on personal devices is undeniable, and his relentless pursuit of his singular vision once cost him his job at Apple, only to return triumphant and make his company the largest company in capitalization value.

One of the original "pirates of Silicon Valley," Jobs will be remembered as the creator of the Apple computer, along with Steve Wozniak and others.  The prototypes, originally built in his garage, went on to become a huge hit with consumers, because of affordability and versatility.  The Apple II computer was the original home of PC gaming.  Years later, during the 80s, Jobs introduced the Macintosh computer, or Mac, as it became known, an all-in-one computer that featured an integrated display and floppy drive.  Eventually, he was ousted from the company and went on to found NeXT computers, which used a modified version of Linux to run powerful desktop computers.

iPhone 4S...disappoints?

The new Apple flagship phone,
looking the same as the old
Over a year after the original, ground breaking iPhone 4 was introduced to the world, Apple has unveiled their newest offering, the iPhone 4S, to an eagerly awaiting world audience yesterday, Oct. 4.  As the name implies, their new flagship phone is but an evolutionary advancement over their previous phone, rather than an original.

The specs that have been announced so far, for those that are interested, are a new dual core processor (unknown clock speed), up to 64GB of internal storage, a new 8 megapixel camera, and the ability to record 1080p video at 30 fps.  Again, nothing far ahead of the pack in terms of raw numbers, with older phones from Samsung, such as the Galaxy S II, which was introduced months ago, actually besting the iPhone 4S in many categories.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Older movie spoiler review: Dylan Dog

First a preface.  When you have younger children, it is rare to be able to watch movies in the theater unless they are some cartoon extravaganza or 3D concoction.  Therefore, most of my movie watching comes from ever reliable Neflix (or soon to be Qwikster), and as such, my movie reviews will be for slightly older fare.  Thus, given the somewhat stale subject matter of my movie reviews, they will be peppered with spoilers, so be forewarned.  Anyhow, among my favorite genres are campy horror movies, of which Dylan Dog is a somewhat sub par example.

Dylan Dog - should have
skipped and saved room in
my queue.
Dylan Dog stars Brandon Routh of Superman Returns fame, the fantastically bad homage to the Christopher Reeve era Superman movies that basically resulted in a total reboot of the franchise, which is currently filming.  In Dylan Dog, Routh stars as the eponymous detective, who has a mysterious past.  OK, it is not so mysterious, just a little head scratching:  Dylan Dog used to be a human investigator/intermediary between the various factions of the undead in New Orleans.  Basically, in the universe of Dylan Dog, your vampires, werewolves, and zombies are all real, and to prevent an all out war between these different factions (more probably between vampires and werewolves, since the zombies are mostly pretty harmless in the movie), they have a human act as arbiter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Profiteering and the bar exam

I could use a few of these by the
time I'm done with the bar exam
We all know there is a large industry surrounding the bar exam.  Starting with law school tuition, which is a few tens of thousands of dollar, to the bar review courses, which run in the thousands of dollars, to even applying for the bar exam itself, which in my case cost me about two thousand five hundred, you have to pay to play.  Now that I knew the time and place for the exam, I decided to book a hotel in the vicinity so I wouldn't have to worry about making the hour drive from Orlando to Tampa twice and on time.

Well, it looks like hotels are in the game as well.  Every hotel within walking distance of the Convention Center has conveniently increased their prices on the days around the bar exam.  My bill, after taxes, is about seven hundred and fifty dollars for a two night stay.  That is like paying Club Med rates, without the food and fancy amenities.  Oh well, we're all after the all-mighty-dollar, I suppose.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ongoing application

Just when I thought everything was set for my application, now that my fingerprints were done, I got a letter from the Board of Bar Examiners informing me that a couple of items had incorrect information in them.  Apparently the California Bar has me listed as a female - I'm pretty sure I've always been a guy - and one of my school transcripts is missing some information.  Great, now I have to make some phone calls on Monday and hopefully have everything ironed out promptly.

Looks like the bar exam will take place at the end of February, in Tampa, which is about an hour's drive from Orlando.  I will have to book a room to ensure I won't have to drive back and forth.  I guess things are turning more real by the day.  Last time I took the bar, there was major construction going on next to the exam location, which was a big distraction.  This time I'll be using a laptop, so I'll probably be in a room full of people typing away on keyboards: I think investing in some earplugs will be a good idea.


So, I've been driving my car for about 2 months now, and I still don't have a clear picture as to the car's gas consumption.  Off the lot, with unknown gas and new engine, I managed about 220 miles and put in 10.6 gallons (why, yes, I do keep a fuel log).  That's about 20.8 mpg.  It crept up slowly over the next few fill-ups, with mostly the same driving habits.  On a week when I drove a bit out on the highway, I got about 25.9 mpg!  The last fill up has been disappointing at 20.8 mpg again.

The window sticker says that I should get about 20 mpg on streets and about 30 mpg on the highway.  The GTI is one car where having a manual yields less fuel efficiency than driving the automatic, which in the GTI's case is the DSG - a "manumatic" type transmission where you can control the up and downshifts.  I opted for the old fashioned stick shift.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Florida bar results for the July 2011 exam

Well, looks like the results for the previous exam have been out for a couple of weeks.  The data shown was for only first time takers, and the passing rate was good, 80% of 2,890 first timers passed the test.  It seems to be similar to California bar exam passing rates.  Looking at published results, released by the Supreme Court of Florida, Florida International University and University of Florida graduates had the best passing rates, at 89.6% and 89.1% respectively.  If you are currently attending Ave Maria School of Law, you might want to reconsider your law school choice: only 47.8% passed, which is rather dismal, although to be fair, their total number of exam takers was only 23.  For out of state graduates (like me), the passing rate was 75%.

The results are only for first time bar exam takers.  Traditionally, if you haven't passed the bar on your first try, your chances during the subsequent exams are much lower.  Usually, the aggregate passing rate is about 70%, with a specially bad year in California being the 2004 exam with only a 56% passing rate.  Hopefully when I take the bar exam this February, it won't be similar to the 2009 February exam, which saw whopping 30% year to year pass rates for University of Miami exam takers, 24% drop for UF graduates, and 20% drop for Florida State University alums.  Looks like that year some of the essay questions were on topics that are not usually tested.

Musings on Contract law

I decided to press ahead on my reading during the daytime and make flashcards in the evenings, so I'm on to the next topic, contract law.  I prefer contracts - it is more relevant to my background in business - but I realize that here, again, I've forgotten so much material.  Mailbox rule, battle of the forms, parol evidence rule...on top of that, differences between common law and Art. 2 of the UCC, first and second restatements.  Good times.

I'm not yet in desperation mode, but I have a feeling that as I move into property, torts, etc., the full extent of what I have ahead of me will hit me.  Of course, once bar review begins, I think the day to day nature of it will smooth my jitters.

On an aside, I went to another Barnes and Noble today, and this is one is a lot bigger than my usual hangout.  It has two stories, and best of all, it has those larger tables I had been reminiscing on a previous post.  It is far from home, however, so it will not be my primary study location, but it is nice to have an alternative.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We're not in LA anymore - 2nd in a series

I didn't plan to write a second part to this particular series so quickly.  However, yesterday we had a "visitor" in our home that requires a post: there was a huge American cockroach in my bedroom yesterday night, which was promptly dispatched.

One thing that I find disturbing in Florida is the abundance of insect and lizard life.  In LA, I don't think we had more than a couple of roaches in more than 15 years of married life.  The very first night in Florida, I think I saw about three of these evil insects in a relative's home we were staying for a couple of days.  After we moved to our townhouse, we cleaned everywhere before the movers brought our stuff.   Since then, we had almost weekly encounters with the little creatures.  We tried spraying pesticide outside, put traps inside, and finally relented and hired an exterminator.  Still the little things appear, although now with much less frequency.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We're not in LA anymore - first in a series.

Our country has gone through a long and slow phase of homogenization.  Doesn't matter where you are in this great land of ours, you will inevitably run into a McDonald's, Burger King, Denny's, and other fast food joints.  Then we started having national chains of clothing stores, such as The Gap, The Limited, Victoria's Secret, and the like.  We also have national department stores, such as the now waning Sears, Target, Bloomingdale's, and K-Mart.  I still remember when Bloomingdale's made their entry into California, and everyone was a buzz.  After all, Angelenos are only truly jealous of New Yorkers, and now we had their department store, too.

However, in many ways, things are different as well.  Walking down the grocery stores, I see varieties of food that reflect more of the local flavor, such as Cuban, English, and Caribbean items, as well as more variety of pork, sweet tea sold by the gallon, and the like.  Most supermarkets don't sell hard liquor because Florida law requires a separate liquor store for distilled beverages (so if a supermarket wants to sell spirits, it needs a "store within a store" thing).

Monday, September 26, 2011

They ID you before you can get in the bar

I don't know if I have purposefully blocked out all memories of my previous bar exam, but I don't recall having to be fingerprinted before taking the exam.  I can understand having to show identification, because otherwise, I'm sure there would be a travelling troupe of bar exam takers that would sit in for the exam for you for a nominal (or expensive) fee.  The Board of Bar Examiners wants to be sure that you are who you claim you are.

But going as far as gathering your fingerprints sounds a bit too...suspicious?  Are they going to run my prints against a large database from the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, DMV, ad infinitum?  They already did ask me tons of private questions regarding my background and past criminal activity.  I guess no one wants to take a lawyer at his word.

Driving impressions and making it go faster

As I mentioned earlier, I have a new car, only two months now.  It is a Volkswagen GTI, a nice, slick four door hatchback (so technically called a five-door, but they also make a three door version).  Volkswagens are nice, predictable, and well put together German cars.  They don't have the same "ooooh" appeal as a BMW or a Mercedes Benz, neither the sleek look of the Audi, which is also part of the VW family of cars, which includes Bugatti and Bentley.

Original GTI Mark I
Off the dealer lot, the car is quick, handles nicely, and looks, in a sense, timeless.  The basic look of the current model, called the Mark VI, is nicely reminiscent of the original Mark I, introduced, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, in 1974.  The current incarnation is about three years old now, and retains a playfulness and fun-loving attitude that seems to have been lost in most modern vehicles.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Animal Kingdom

This Friday I took my son on a field trip to Animal Kingdom which his school sponsored.  First time in an Orlando area amusement park, and I must say, I'm impressed.  I have been to Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood, etc., so I have a frame of reference, and Disney has really done a nice job with their Animal Kingdom park.

For starters, the place is huge, has many rides as well as places where one can see animals.  Their "safari" is particularly interesting, as well as the walk one can do in the area around it and see the gorillas, birds, and other animals.  The park also has some well done live action shows, of which we saw two: the Lion King show and the Finding Nemo show.  The Lion King show is a circus type show, with acrobats, singers, a rope artist a la Cirque du Soleil, as well as dancers and large animatronic puppets of Simba and other characters.

Finding Nemo is a stage version of the movie, abridged, of course, but still seemed to run a good 30 minutes.  The way they present the characters on stage is particularly clever.  Actors hold large puppets of the various fish, sharks, turtles and others above or in front of themselves, and move the mouth and eyes with little hand levers.  The action is mesmerizing, and soon you lose track of the person and fix on the puppet.  Truly enthralling, and the scene with the turtle is amazing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Continuing adventures in constitutional law

I finally finished reading the Constitutional Law outline.  In my original plan, I was going to move on to the next topic, but I think I'm going to make flashcards on this subject while it is not totally hazy in my mind.  Frankly, it is already a jumbled mess of standards, rules, and cases in there, anyway.

Fancy logo for a handy app
I'm going to try using this program called Anki, which has Windows, OS X, iOS and Android versions, and flashcards you make in one platform can be used in another.  It is all freeware, which is big plus in my book.  I tried making some cards with it, but I haven't tried doing an entire subject.  If it all progresses well, I will write a review on it later on.  I will be using the windows version to make the flashcards, and go over them on android devices, of which I have a few.

Lactose intolerance

Like a lot of people, I'm lactose intolerant.  I don't think my condition is extreme - I can drink milk, but it definitely affects how I eat.  Take, for example, my love of ice cream and milk shakes.  One thing that I've noticed is that if I eat something with my milk - e.g. cereal - I will be ok.  If I drink it straight up on an empty stomach, I'm doomed.

The Royale at Steak n Shake
Same for ice cream and milk shakes.  If I have ice cream right after a meal, I'm fine.  Ice cream as an afternoon snack, and I'm in pain a few hours later.  Milk shakes are trickier; even if I have them with a meal - the classic burger and shake combo - I will usually pay the milk tax afterwards.  Maybe the way the milk is shaken in a milk shake?  The combination of all that goodness being simply too good, and thus it has to be bad for you to balance it out?  I don't know, but it has changed the way I enjoy my burgers.  Which is specially sad, since, after moving to Florida, I discovered the greatness that is Steak n Shake.  They seem to be this local chain of hamburgers a la Johnny Rockets from California, where they have this old-fashioned look to it (but looking at vintage photos, they are probably a lot more authentic that Johnny Rockets, which was founded in the mid-80s).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Children and sports

I was never a very active person back in school, or through most of my life, as a matter of fact.  Even now I have to constantly push myself to even do a basic 20 minute run on the treadmill.  My hope, therefore, is that my children will be more involved in sports and learn good habits from an early age so that they can continue looking after themselves as they grow up and into adulthood.

Yesterday was my daughter's middle school volleyball game.  It brings me untold pride that she has struggled through try-outs, stuck through practices, played for most of the season in the "B" squad, but finally managed to make it to the "A" squad for yesterday's matches.  She is by no means the biggest girl - as a matter of fact, she is the smallest in the team, nor the most athletic, but she is tough minded and works very hard, as well as listens to her coach.  She is also extremely happy and proud of her accomplishments.

She serves as an example to myself, during these days of studying, to keep pushing myself.  That I can accomplish things if I put my mind and body into it.  I think I will go study now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Constitutional law or motivational law?

I'm about halfway into my constitutional law outline for the multi-state exam.  I can honestly say that I've forgotten more about law in general that I remember.  The words sound familiar, the concepts are not that hard, but just the sheer quantity of information is daunting.  Did I ever really know all this material?  Amazing.

The Supreme Court
Reading through the outline is fairly mundane work.  The way the outline is set up is nicely repetitive, with constant reinforcement of key concepts, lots of references to previously mentioned topics, etc.  In a sense, the material builds upon itself, so there is a sense of progression, of advancement.  However, the material is by no means compelling or gripping reading material.  The words drone on and on, and attention starts to wander.  Of course, the tricky part will be remembering all the material.  Hopefully I will have finished this outline by the end of the week - I need a motivational push to get over the first subject.  The idea is that once I finish with con law, the other subjects will move faster - at least that is the fiction I've build for myself.

Barnes and Noble or the library that sells coffee

Good old Barnes and Noble had been my favorite study hall for many years.  It is relatively quiet, the muzak is inoffensive, good air conditioning, and they used to have really nice desks and chairs.  After the latest round of book store closures and downsizing - Borders being the latest, most visible failure - B&N has mostly remained the same, although the nice big tables are nowhere to be seen.

Home away from home
Nonetheless, they still have tables at the Starbucks found in most B&N stores, and although small, they are good enough to hold a big outline book, a marker, a pen, and your beverage of choice.  I must admit that I was never a big coffee drinker, although I would pick up a cup of frosty coffee drink before lectures and during studies.  So I picked up my first cup of frappuccino that I've had in a couple of years, and even though I drank it in the early afternoon, I was up until 3 am.  Wow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Family or how no one wants to go to the bar alone

Studying for the bar exam with family is different.  The first time I took the bar, we were married and our first child was born a couple of weeks after graduation, smack in the middle of bar review.  As you can imagine, things were hectic, nights were short, days were long, and dirty diapers were everywhere.

Wish my car was this nice.  Do they
give frequent miles to Dad drivers?
Through all that, my wife has always been a steady presence.  She is blessed with near infinite patience, a kind heart, and a true love for her children.

This time around, we have more than one kid, they are older, can basically take care of themselves.  As a matter of fact, they are busier than I am.  Their homework load seems a lot larger than what I had to do back in the day.  They pretty much stick to their own schedules, do their own thing, but we try to leave weekends as family time.  There is more house work to be done for us adults, but the children help more and more.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meditations and car washing

As you can tell from my previous posts, I've been trying to set up routines for my otherwise unstructured life to get myself in the proper mindset to study.  It has been a week since I've received the books from BARBRI, and my current plan is to read the major outlines cover to cover first, go back and start making flash cards, and hopefully I will finish this process before classes begin.

Wash the mitt after ever
car wash to keep it free
of debris for the next time
In the meanwhile, I have started a very simple exercise routine - basically run every other day and a few reps in the machine of torture.  Another part of my routine has been car maintenance.  Or at least, washing the outside and trying to keep the inside clean.

I was going to wait until next year to buy a car, since we had purchased a car for my wife as soon as we arrived, but with the beginning of school for the children looming, it became impracticable to wait.  So I bought a brand new car, and have been trying to keep it in that "as new" condition for as long as I can.  My current plan is to try to wash it every other week (every week seems to border on OCD), and touch up the interior in the interim.  To tell the truth, it has been a long time since I've washed the car by myself - in Los Angeles, car washes litter the landscape, there were literally about 10 car washes within a 5 mile x 5 mile area around my house.

Playing with Blogger

I'm really liking Blogger.  There is a lot of customization, things are reasonably easy to do.  I guess I am an incorrigible geek.  I've been playing with the layout, fonts, colors, etc.  Clearly I'm not gifted when it comes to aesthetic choices, but I'm liking the overall look of the blog.  Finally figured out how to use some simple CSS to make the widgets on the side have a background so that the text is legible over the fancy background.

I will probably be tinkering with the blog as I go along, so don't be surprised if things look radically different from day to day...or maybe just some subtle changes here and there.  You can never tell.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Exercise in futility and opening Pandora's box

It hurts...a lot!
So, since I've found myself with extra time on my hands, I have decided to start exercising more (as opposed to never exercising).  I had originally begun a simple "100 push up" routine using my handy-dandy android tablet - I might do an actual review of the device for a future post - but after about 3 weeks, I think I might have pulled a shoulder muscle, because it became excruciatingly painful to do the push ups.  I switched to doing them inclined by simply doing the push ups while leaning on a piece of furniture, but after about 3 days of that, the pain was again getting worse.

Therefore, I switched to doing a bit of treadmill running and some light weight exercises.  I didn't have to join a gym because the complex where I live has a little gym facility which is included in the rent, and it has a treadmill, elliptical running machine, and a multi-exercise device.  Started doing the treadmill for a couple of days, doing about 25 min of jogging followed by a few reps on the weight machine.  Of course, now my knee is starting to hurt a bit, so I think I will do the elliptical next week.

Three (now four) posts in one day?

Some of you might be wondering how much actual studying I have been doing if I have the time to put up 3 posts in quick succession.  The truth is that I had started a blog in a "will-not-be-named-blogging-alternative" site, but didn't like it too much, so I moved the first couple of posts over to Blogger, which I like, so far.  Bye!

BARBRI or "How did I find myself paying for tuition all over again"

Ah, the joys of bar review.  After receiving my credit card bill for the month (not a pleasant sight), vivid memories of tuition payment times come rushing back.  Law school was not a cheap experience.

UPS said that these weigh 9 lbs
I find myself in a curious situation, although given the current economic conditions, not unique by any stretch of the imagination.  I am currently, shall we say, "between careers," and thus, without a steady source of income.  Happily, the last decade or so between bar exams has not been spent on endless binge drinking and visits to that other, more common type of bar.  I had a steady career, managed people, and tucked away a few pennies here and there.  Bought a house a couple of years after taking the California bar, and since it was before the bubble, it appreciated well - not in the triple digits, but nicely.  So, when we sold the house recently, even with the downturn in prices, we made enough of a profit to give ourselves a small cushion.  Moving to Florida also cut back on a lot of expenses (cost of living in Southern California is out of control).

So, since the bar exam is not until February of next year, and BARBRI classes don't start until December, I decided to pay the full tuition up front and get my hands on their many tomes of knowledge (shout out to all D&D fans out there) and get a head start in the review.

Filling out the application

Every journey must have a beginning, the first steps on the road.  I suppose those steps were in the packing of our belongings, selling our previous home, booking the flight to a new state.  However, the journey became real after I’ve begun my application to the bar…and things really have changed in this last decade and a half.

2 more years and I would have paid $3,000...
For starters, everything is done online.  Question after question delving into the minutia of my life.  Bad credit…traffic violations…taxes paid…past residences since I was 16!  I honestly don’t remember the California bar application to have been this…comprehensive?  Intrusive?  And expensive, too: $2,400 for the application fee, since I fall in the convenient “admitted more than 10 years, but less than 15 years” bracket.  If I had waited a couple of years more, the application fee gets bumped up to the $3,000 level.  Yowza.

I think I have filled out everything satisfactorily, and now I have to get everything notarized, take a couple of passport pictures, and get fingerprinted…surprised the TSA is not somehow involved.

Hello World!

Hello world…another person with an opinion and a voice joining the internet.

Well, it has been 14 years since I’ve taken the California Bar Exam…the most gruesome test I’ve ever taken.  I’m proud to say that I’ve passed on my first try.  Honestly, I never wanted to take it again, so I’m unsure of what I would have done, all those years ago, if I had not passed.  Since then, I’ve done lots of things, raised children, businesses, etc…but never practiced law!

Now, with a sudden move to the opposite side of the continent (the warmer, more humid, with more bugs side of the continent), I find myself with time on my hands (i.e. no work), a bit aimless, and planning the next decade or two of my life.  So, what better than taking the Florida Bar Exam?

I’ve always wanted to practice law, but various circumstances conspired to keep me away from that path.  Now, in my mid-40′s, I decided that it is time to unleash my inner Matlock, Perry Mason, or Atticus Finch and practice law.  Of course, before I can hang my shingle, I need to be licensed by the great state of Florida to cross the bar and speak in front of the judge, the jury, and opposing counsel.

So here I am, about to embark on my masochist quest to re-learn the many black-letter legal facts and rules, all those random case names, and the many new developments of federal law, plus all the variations that Florida law has compared to California law.  I honestly don’t know how I will do this time around, but I guess this is why I’m writing this, to see what I learn in this journey, and how it will all turn out in about 5 months…stay tuned!