2006
02.28

Fat Tuesday and Lent

 

I had hoped last fall that I could be down in NOLA for Mardi Gras this year but as you can see it didn’t work out. I am very glad though that the party is going on. I’m not Catholic or a Louisianan, but for some time I’ve felt a kinship with them, mostly in their celebration of life and death (sorta reminds me of the Dia de los muertes in Mexico too).

As far as Lent goes, it is interesting to me that the day I’m taking off for my trip (Wednesday) is the first day of Lent. It seems appropriate for a pilgrimage of sorts to begin this journey as Lent begins. I hope though that I can find a way to continue the journey spiritually after I come back. I so badly yearn for a sense of connection with the divine. My life seems so out-of-sorts right now, and I think in large part is because my spiritual life has been neglected too much.

2006
02.27

Depression and other fun things

 

I won’t be blogging much for the time being as I have a lot of things to sort and work through in my personal life. So very much is changing, some for the good, some for the bad, but the rapidity of it all is too much to fathom. Before this I had a certain degree of base-line depression (for lack of a better word) but the number of changes hitting all at once I have just been too much)

I am though (Lord willing) hitting the road very soon for a few days of spiritual/personal discovery and soul searching. I think I’m going to drive down to my family’s land (my mom inherited her parent’s old farm in Western Oklahoma) and then take off by bicycle from there southward to the Wichita Mountains and camp there the first night. After that I’m not sure. I’ll either just be in the mountains for a few days, or might ride west to Great Plains State Park and then Quartz Mountain State Park, before heading back east (maybe passing near Rainy Mountain, a sacred place for the Kiowas). If all goes well, I’ll be back home on Saturday night (we have a church meeting on Sunday that I do not want to miss).

As far as the bicycling end of it goes, I’m undecided whether I will just pack really light (I can fit my sleeping bag and tent in my milk crate that is attached to the back of my bike but much else, unless I just bungee cord things on), or if I will buy a bicycle trailer for the trip. I hate to spend the money but it might be a more comfortable trip that way.

2006
02.23

The Bar Exam is over

 

I’ll say more about it later (it was one weird experience) but I took the Oklahoma Bar exam on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. It went better than I expected, but my expectations were extremely low so that isn’t saying much. My guess is that I’ll be right on the line of passing or failing — which it will be is anyone’s guess?

Now the fun part starts. The results come in I think on April 7th, and then the swearing-in ceremony is on April 21st (in my case, I guess it is the affirming in ceremony because I’m not going to swear the oath for religious/ethical reasons).

Mostly though I’m glad it’s done and I’m so grateful to my family and friends who did so much of these last few weeks to help keep me sane. I owe them so much.

From here, I’m not 100% sure what my plan is going to be. Probably I’m going to take a week or so off to get myself organized and to catch up a lot of things I left undone over the last month or so. After that, I’ll probably work some for my Dad’s law office, and I hope somewhere a long the way take an extended camping trip by bicycle in March.

2006
02.18

 

Journal Record: House panel rejects $1 minimum-wage increase (registration required – Bugmenot.com (thanks to
Independent Christian Voice for this link
)

State Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said many minimum-wage earners are poorly educated. Kern also suggested that workers who live in poverty may not spend their money wisely.

“It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you spend,” she said.

I know I’m probably making this too personal but I wonder how Sally Kern might feel if her family wasn’t pulling in the money they make. (according to the State legislative website she is a teacher and husband is the pastor of Olivet Baptist Church.)
Working full-time at min. wage full-time will pull in $206 per week, before taxes. I think Sally Kern should try living on that for awhile. How dare she talk smack about poor folks like this?!

Oh and while we’re digging around, Olivet Baptist Church (Oklahoma City, OK) doesn’t have a website anymore but thanks to the website of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, I found a link to their old website and then ran that through Archive.org to find an archived version of their old website. Here’s what the website leads with…

JESUS IS LORD

GROW
Olivet Bapist Church
1201 N.W. 10TH STREET
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 73106
Phone 405.235.4696
“Touching People’s Hearts By Meeting Their Needs”

“For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger, and you invited me in,
I needed clothes, and you clothed me.
I was sick, and you looked after me.
I was in prison, and you came to visit me.”

-Matthew 25:35 (NIV)

Quite honestly, this is the height of hyopcrisy. Trumpeting Jesus’s call to take care of folks at church, but then in the legislature kick poor people while they are down and then insult them for being poor. Pardon me, but that’s wrong.

And maybe I am too hot under the collar about this, but then again Jesus ripped into the rich and the pharisees of his day for their hypocrisy, so I can’t say I’m apologetic about calling these cats on the carpet. Here’s her email address if you want to tell her what you think about her insulting poor people: sallykern@okhouse.gov.

2006
02.17

 

OKHouse.gov: Speaker Hiett and Bipartisan REDI Task Force Announce Legislative Agenda (thanks to Okiefunk.com for this link)

Due to the business of things in my life I haven’t had time to talk about this but the more I think about this REDI crap business the more angry I get. The last thing rural Oklahoma needs is a bunch of yuppies driving up land values and making things cost too much, and we certainly don’t need more pork for corporate interests. And why in the world would Oklahoma want to give income tax exemptions to out-of-state folks! Folks who’ve stayed here and stayed put deserve it more than outsiders. In fact as far as I’m concerned, outsiders should stay the heck out of Oklahoma unless they are willing to actually be a part of the community instead of seeking to dominate it.

I’m going to ask the Oklahoma Green Party and others to start agitating against this (a good friend and I are going to be brainstorming some ideas about how to do this), but in the meantime let’s starting hammering House Speaker Todd Hiett’s office with opposition to this so that he’ll understand that if pushed forward, REDI will be the end of his political career. (click here for a link to his contact info)

Also if anyone out there knows more about this goofy REDI task force, please post it as a comment. We need to know which of our state legislators are working against rural Oklahoma values.

2006
02.17

 

Well the bar exam studying is flying now and while I still feel woefully unprepared, I’m beginning to also think it might be possible for me to pull this off. For the multi-state/multi-choice subjects, I think I’m in ok shape (I have those six subjects condensed down to around 350-400 flashcards). I still plan to do more practice questions but my percentage right on the practices Q’s is much better than it was a few weeks ago.

However for the essay subjects, I’m not in good shape at all. I am pretty good at B.S.’ing so I’m hoping that this skill will serve me well, but all the same I’m nervous. Starting tomorrow though I will be moving my studying focus to those subjects (besides the multi-state subjects that could potentially be essay topics as well, my essay subjects I’ll be working on are biz associations, trusts and wills, civ pro, family law, professional responsibility, conflicts of law, admin law, secured trans and bankruptcy… of those I’m in good shape on admin law, secured trans and bankruptcy but the others I’m not in good shape for yet). Also potentially we may have a few other subjects on the exam (commercial paper, damages, creditor’s rights, and consumer law), but they are tested infrequently if at all so I’m pretty much blowing those subjects off and hoping for the best (well, I’ll do a quick skim-through of the material but that’s all).

Well as far as all of the other craziness of my life, I’m still alive and I’m still sane (at least in theory) which is a plus. Beyond that, I’ll just have to take it one day at a time for the next few days.

2006
02.16

 

NY Times: Stepping Into a Cab and Back in Time

AFTER almost 60 years of driving a cab and collecting fares in New York City, Ray Kottner decided to do something different.

Now he drives a cab and collects no fares.

“People get in and they say ‘Where’s your meter?’ and I say that I don’t have a meter, I give free rides,” Mr. Kottner said. He was driving his 1982 Checker cab down Ninth Avenue at a modest 10 miles an hour.

Free, of course, is a state of mind. Riders are free to tip, and tip they do.

There was a time when hundreds of Checkers like Mr. Kottner’s prowled the streets. Back then, pedestrians waiting to hail a taxi would ignore “newer” cabs in the hope that a roomier Checker would come trundling along.

Because the manufacture of Checkers was discontinued and it became illegal to pick up fares in old cabs, they went the way of smoke-filled bars and affordable housing. Still, as Mr. Kottner knows, the allure remains. And tipping for a trip is quite different than paying a fare.

This story made me smile because it reminded me of my own days working for tips as a pedicab driver in Austin. I think we legally could have charged fares (unlike the guy in NYC driving the old Checker cab) but it was kinda hard to calculate since we didn’t have a meter. If it was a really long ride I would quote $60/hour, but normally I just said “pay whatever you want, I just work for tips,” which normally worked out well. The average tip (for maybe 5-10 blocks) was $5, but it wasn’t unheard of for it to be more, sometimes much more (particularly for drunk bachelorette parties going from one club to another… hehehe, that was the first and only job that I had women I had never met before pinching my butt on a regular basis. You really can’t beat that.) Of course some people tipped me very little, but normally I at least got a dollar, and if things were really slow and I was bored I would give homeless people a ride for free. Anyway it was a fun time, and I miss it. So very much has changed in 5 years.

2006
02.16

 

This is an update to an earlier JMBzine post

(WARNING: The links below show disturbing pictures of American soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, including incidents of sexual abuse, extreme barbarity, and acts of utter inhumanity)

SBC.com.au: Outrage over new abuse images

The United States has confirmed that newly released photographs showing abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, aired on SBS’ Dateline program on Wednesday, are authentic, as the United Nations described the images as “deeply disturbing”.

The US Defence Department has expressed concern that the publication of the photographs could inflame violence in the Muslim world at a time when tensions are already high following the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in Europe.

The images and video footage, apparently part of an even larger collection, depict shocking mistreatment of Iraqi detainees at the notorious Iraqi jail at the hands of US military officials.

Naked men are shown forced into sexually humiliating positions, handcuffed to beds and hooded.

Some show men bleeding profusely from the head, others apparently show corpses, and yet others show men smeared with faeces. . .

Guardian (UK): TV says new images show abuse at Abu Ghraib jail

Guardian (UK): In pictures — Abu Gharib

AlJazeera.com: Iraq abuse —The “few rotten apples” claim won’t do anymore

News of the World (UK): Shamed by 42 Brainless Blows — Exposed.. squad of British soldiers beat teenage Iraqis and shame their country

CNN: U.S. slams ‘prisoner abuse’ leak — Australia’s Howard defends U.S. handling of Abu Ghraib case

What I want to know is where is the justice? Those behind this (and I don’t buy the bull**** response about a few bad apples. I think this was ordered from the top… and if it wasn’t the top command was completely imcompetent and should be fired for that) should be tried, and not by an American (or British for that matter) kangaroo court but by an international tribunal. It’s only fair.

What I also don’t understand is why in the **** this story is being practically ignored by the American press. All of the American national media outlets I’ve looked have Dick Cheney’s stupid hunting accident as the lead story right now. What are these folks smoking?!

2006
02.15

Congrats to Dan & Summer!

 

Reagan for Rushmore: In the mail..

This is pretty cool that by bro and his wife both got admitted to a really good law school (ranked ranked 17th nationally by US News), and that this only the first law school they’ve heard from. I’m definitely proud of them but I hope these schools start showing them the money. L-school is crazy whack expensive (by my estimates I’ll be paying on my student loans until 2036, no joke).

2006
02.15

 

Here’s a quick update on my studying. I’m still pretty depressed about the whole mess but am feeling somewhat more confident when it comes to the multi-state multiple choice subjects (torts, property, evidence, crim law & procedure, con law, contracts). I feel pretty incompetent though on the essay topics (all of the rest of the law — everything family law, to admin law, to commercial paper, you name it). I have been focusing pretty hardcore on the multi-state subjects since they are by themselves 50% of the potential points (plus the potential to be tested on essay questions, which in practical terms means that probably 60% or so of the points are on those subjects), but will be switching gears as of tomorrow to focus more on the essay subjects.

On a sidenote, the one thing I’ve been doing which I think has been pretty helpful is making flashcards. I’ll have around 300-400 flashcards by the end for my multi-state subjects as it looks right now. I’m not sure if I’ll do flashcards for the essay topics or not, but I’m leaning in that direction for those subjects too.

If I can stay focused I think I’ll do fine, but the staying focused part is the hard part. Half of the time I feel overwhelmed by it all and by just the depression of life. I’m hoping maybe as it gets closer to the end that my focus will come together better (it is not that I want to dodge the emotional anxieties and deep questions of life, but I do need to put them on hold for the next few days). The world sucks pretty consistently (just look at the last few of my stupid blog posts for proof of that) but it will suck whether I’m depressed or not, so maybe I should just not be depressed. But of course that is easier said than done.