Jim's Polka

The life of a former software engineer, now a law student

Monday, January 16, 2006

Is there a better way to return to blogging after a hiatus than with a blog meme? (Absolutely not.) So, thanks to LQ for the tag and the impetus to start blogging again.

Four Jobs You've Had:

  • Bagel guy: I worked at a bagel shop through most of high school and the summer after my freshman year of college. In that time, I cut dough, rolled bagels, worked at the register, worked short-order, cut myself and burned myself on ovens and kettles. It took me years before I went back to eating bagels.
  • Office gopher: my job for a year and a half during college. I worked for the business manager of the Meteorology Department, running errands and the like. I remember that I handled the department's phone bill and that they sent me to deliver stuff to other parts of campus. That was the best part of the job, since it was a good excuse to take a walk outside. And, one of the usual destinations was right next door to the campus dairy, which sold excellent milkshakes.
  • Lab minion (researcher): my last job as an undergrad. I did research for a professor in my department and got paid for it, which was a pretty sweet deal.
  • Software engineer - that's what I was doing when I started writing the blog.

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

  • Apollo 13 - I saw this on a date in Tokyo in 1995 and, to this day it's still the most money I've ever spent to see a movie. $15 with the student discount. But that's not why I watch it every time it's on TV. I think I like how the engineers are the heroes of the movie. The scene where they have to figure out how to make the air filters fit using just the materials in spaceship is straight out of an undergrad engineering class. And, I just love it when the guys tells the geeky engineer: "You, sir, are a steely-eyed missile man."
  • Strictly Ballroom - probably the most important movie I've ever watched. It's the reason I started ballroom dancing, without which nothing would be the same. It's the movie D and I watched on our zeroth date.
  • 10 Things I Hate About You - I don't know why, but I watch this every time it comes on cable. D and I have a rule about teen movies - we'll watch it either if it's based on great literature or if it has dancing. We added the second part to rationalize a trip to see that other essential piece of the Julia Stiles oeuvre, Save the Last Dance.
  • When Harry Met Sally

Four Places You've Lived:

(i.e. the lamest list of all) Try this on for size. This is pretty much all of geographical divisions I've ever lived in, although in some cases I lived in different places in the town.

  • Baltimore, MD
  • College Park, MD
  • Arlington, VA
  • Seattle, WA

Four TV Shows You Like to Watch

  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Gilmore Girls
  • The OC
  • Dancing With the Stars (I'll be posting about this, later, I think)

Four Places You've Been on Vacation

  • Paris - Twice, in fact. The second time was with D, for our honeymoon.
  • Greece - Twice, also, but the last time was in 1994. I think I've mentioned before that we're planning another trip for right after school ends. I still think it's the most beautiful place I've ever been.
  • Ballroom dance camp, in England and in Florida.
  • Japan - twice for exchange programs and once for a plain old vacation. I like the Japanese gardens, the electronics and the fact that everything seems to be on a different scale then the US. Sometimes that means hitting my head on the top of doorways, but sometimes that means going into the largest and the second-largest department stores in the world, both on the same day. I also liked my apparently infinite capacity to get lost while I was there.

Four Websites You Visit Daily:

  • Yahoo mail
  • Gmail
  • Newsgator (way better than Bloglines)
  • lawschool.westlaw.com (I plan to get a TV from the reward points this year. It's good to have goals.)

Four of My Favorite Foods:

  • Chili - but only the good stuff.Not from a can.I make pretty decent chili, but I've had lots that's better.
  • Ethiopian food - yummy, and you get to eat with your hands. How do you beat that?
  • Thai curry from my neighbors' restaurant
  • Bread pudding - I don't know why, but I'm unreasonably obsessed with this. Anytime I see it on a menu, I have to order it. I made a version at Christmas that used panettone instead of regular bread. It was spectacular, if I do say so myself.

Four Places I'd Rather Be:

  • Hawaii - Well, it sure looks pretty in the pictures.
  • Australia - How could I not want to go, after reading In a Sunburned Country?
  • Tahiti
  • Tokyo

Four Albums I Can't Live Without:

Honestly, what I really can't live without is the 3700 songs on my iPod, but let me make a good faith effort to come up with albums, instead.*

  • Great Big Sea - "Rant and Roar"
  • Loreena McKennitt - "The Book of Secrets"
  • Loretta Lynn - "Van Lear Rose"
  • R.E.M. - "Document"

Special Jim's Polka Answer Only!!

Four Artists Whose Tapes Were Found in D's Room at Her Parents' House This Weekend:

  • New Kids on the Block - Hangin' Tough
  • Debbie Gibson (both albums)
  • Martika (hey, who didn't like Toy Soldiers?)
  • Wang Chung

Four People to Tag With the Lists:

I suppose I'll go all-techie with this one:

* Not true. I'm pretty sure that there are at least 1000 that I could live without. For example, how, exactly, did I end up with 2 whole Kid Rock albums?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The project to re-install Windows on the laptop turned into a long-overdue call to Dell tech support. The upshot is that, after 3 hours, we determined that the problem (one of the problems) was that the motherboard needs to be replaced. I'm pretty ambivalent about this, since it means being without the computer for a while, potentially including the beginning of the quarter. The real concern is that I need to be doing research on the patent laws for my journal note right now and maybe giving up my primary machine isn't the smartest idea. But, it's either now or next July, and I decided I'd better take the risk. For one, the damn thing isn't getting any more stable as time goes on. Anyway, I sent it out this afternoon. Now, everybody pray for me that all goes well.

Despite the fact that I really need to be working, I've been slacking off the last couple days. Over the weekend, we wrapped up the Christmas shopping (except that I still need to buy things for D). Then D took me out for a nice steak dinner. Yesterday, I experienced the thrill of going to the post office right before Christmas.

Oh, and after 2 weeks of almost completely clear weather, it's reverted to the norm - rain, rain, rain. That's not all bad, since the temperature is a good bit higher when it's raining (i.e. at least 10 degrees warmer). On the other hand, it's nice being able to see the mountains. When the weather's clear, you can see snow-capped mountains from the front step of the house, which is pretty nice. When my brother Andy was in town a couple months ago, he missed that view by a day. It doesn't look like it's going to be any better when he gets here this week.

Friday, December 16, 2005

And, now I'm done. I turned in all the assignments at about 10 this morning. Despite expectations, I did leave the house over the last few days. Although, I have to say, on Tuesday I only left the house long enough to put the trashcans out for pickup. Yes, it was a fun, fun couple of days.

I'm celebrating in the style of my people - by re-installing Windows. The computer's been behaving badly for months, so the time had come. I'm not sure, but I have a feeling the blame for this goes to Examsoft. Things were basically working fine until I had to install it for my CrimLaw exam last year. The good news is, I think I might be able to make it through the rest of the year without using it again.

I also celebrated by reserving a bunch of books at the city library (fiction only, of course). I'll get them this weekend and then I'll be a happy camper.

A friend just sent me this link, to what can only be described as a combination of Salsa dancing and Street Fighter cosplay.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

OK, this is too funny. Last week, one of the gadget weblogs had a meetup in town. The location was really close to my house, so I figured I had to go. (I've definitely mentioned my geekiness before, so this isn't embarassing.) It was pretty decent, as these things go, and I got to see a whole bunch of new toys that I'll be getting just as soon as I get a paycheck again (assuming I can talk D into it). Today, they posted pictures from it and sure enough, I'm right in the middle of one of them, with my geekiness on display to the world. The best part is that I first heard about it from my old co-workers who spotted me in the picture. They're making fun of me, but I know they're jealous.

Believe it or not, I actually haven't been spending the last month just going to blog meetups. I've also done such fun things as studying and outlining. Yesterday was my first exam (Evidence) and my only in-building exam for the quarter. 30 multiple-choice questions, each with 10 possible answers. Very, very intense. Halfway through, I lost interest in working on it, but still had to keep going. As it turns out, there were a few things that I didn't learn until I re-read that part of the book during the exam. Not the best time to learn, but there you go.

Now all I have left is two take-home exams and a paper, all due Friday. Which basically means that I have no reason to leave the house between now and then. I think this is going to get ugly.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Other updates... First, the job search is over. I decided to go with the same firm as last summer. They all seemed pretty happy about that, which was nice to see.

Second, Trademarks is still not good. The class isn't all that organized, for one thing. It might be different if we had a textbook, but it's all based on things that he's thrown together from treatises, plus a somewhat random bunch of cases. And, we have a guy in the class who's very, very annoying. He always has something to say, and it's rarely as close to the topic as we might like. It's like being a 1L again. Worst of all, he's a 3L, so he really should know better. I wonder why no one ever stopped him before (ESpat and LQ, I'm looking at you guys.).

Prof Evidence, in addition to moving around a lot as he teaches, has another amusing quirk. If no one answers his questions, he waits. And waits. He will not move on until someone volunteers. He seems to be counting on someone in the class cracking under the pressure before he does. It works, too, although it sometimes leaves us with several minutes of dead air. It wouldn't be such a big deal, except that he doesn't let you go with one question when you answer. People who know the answer to the first question don't want to volunteer because they know they won't know the next 4 or 5. Also, I think I've had enough of hearsay exceptions. I know the syllabus says that we have another week of it, but I think I'm done now.
OK, time for me to get a little perspective. Sure, it's going to be a pain to write my note for the journal - a lot of work and all that. Still, people have done harder things. For example, I now have my very own (electronic) copy of my brother's PhD thesis. It weighs in at 125 pages. Of course, he had a lot longer to work on it, but he also had to write to code to build the models and get the data. So, I'm thinking he had the harder task. 25 or 30 pages should be easy, in comparison.

I remain impressed by my brother's PhD. So very cool that he finished it so well. I'm about 25 pages into the thesis and I'm happy to say that I've understood everything so far. I'm still adjusting to the idea that my brother (economics major) knows significantly more math than I do (engineering major). I'm expecting that the remaining 100 pages will get harder to understand. I did appreciate being mentioned in the acknowledgements. I'm thanked one paragraph earlier than the 10-foot papier mache head. I'm so honored.

As for me, I'm getting ready to submit my topic proposal this week. I think it's a good topic, and I've already found an advisor to work with (my Patents prof), so I'm hoping it'll get approved without too much trouble. Then, Japanese law, here I come!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Oh, a few other things. I think I have a topic for my law review note now, or at least a really good idea for one. I talked to my Patents professor after class last Monday and she suggested it. It's timely, and I think I can get her to be my advisor for it.

The clinic is also coming together. It looks like we're going to be working with a policy group in DC to make bad things happen to bad people. For the public good. (Maybe I'll link to it at some point. I'm still thinking about it.)

D's birthday is this week, so I took her out to dinner yesterday. We went to this undergroud restaurant that calls itself Gypsy. Basically, well-known local chefs get together and cook for a small group of people in an undisclosed location. It's all very cloak-and-dagger. It may sound weird, but the food was spectacular. Of course, we were the youngest people there. The lady next to me guessed that we were in our early 20s.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Law-related news first...

Those of you who loved Contracts should make sure to check out TG Daily's article RTF EULA (Read The End-User Licensing Agreement). Read it. Revel in the ways that "clever" lawyers try to contract their way around contract law. In particular, you 1Ls will enjoy the first one on the third page, where the license explains that it really, truly, honest-to-God isn't including a penalty clause. No really, I promise it's just a liquidated damages clause. (Non-lawyers, please ignore this.)

Then, for a helluva a good time in patent law, check out this article about litigation over condom patents. (It's Salon, so be ready to watch an ad.) I doubt I'll ever run across anything this fun.

I have to say, Evidence is really ruining Law and Order for me. I'm hoping it's like when I first started doing ballroom and couldn't help evaluating every song on the radio for which dance you could do. At least that wore off eventually...

Last Friday's callback was ....... ok. I really liked some of the people. I had a good time answering the technical questions (and apparently did a good job). But, I don't think it was quite good enough. So, I'm left at the same place I started - almost definitely going back to the firm from last summer.