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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hell of a

I am just over halfway through my first week back at school and already I am feeling very high stress levels. I have a lot on my plate this semester: 15 credit hours (that's 5 classes, most twice a week), law review, and law firm work.

This law review business has been a royal pain in the ass since I started on it the week before classes. So far, I've been doing my part in source checking a 100-page paper written by one of my school's professors that will be published in the next journal issue. What that entails: locate original or photo-PDF versions of the sources cited in the paper, check the citation format, and then check to make sure the source actually supports what the author says it does, on the page he says it does.

Finding my sources was pretty easy thanks to the magic of the internet. I checked out some real live books from my school's library for the first time ever. Two of my sources are unfortunately in Spanish, so I can't verify if they support the author's assertions, but I am told that someone fluent in Spanish is going to do it. Actually, I was able to verify one of those sources by using Google Translate -- artificial translators are actually getting pretty good these days! But someone else will officially confirm the original.

The hardest part has been pin-citing each footnote that quotes each source. I only have about 10 sources, but some of them are quoted in 50 footnotes, and sometimes those footnotes do not give specific pages on which the support is to be found, so I have to find it myself. Here is where Google comes to the rescue again with Google Books. Not everything is on there (yet), but luckily two of my sources which the author cited copiously were text searchable on GBooks. The biggest problem is where the author cites a 10-20 page range that is support for his assertion. I'm supposed to go in and highlight and label the support, but what do you do in that situation? I've been skimming to make sure the pages generally talk about what he's talking about and then move on with my life.

After hours and hours of work (probably between 20 and 30), I have finally highlighted all my sources. All I have to do is enter the changes to the citation format on the computer in the law review office. Only problem is those four computers are always full of other LR students doing the same damn thing. They have some ethernet ports available in the office, and I googled a video to help me figure out how I can connect to their network using my own laptop (haven't had to use ethernet since about 2004, and that was on a PC). That way I can work whenever the hell I want to work. It's better not to have to use a foreign machine anyway. I hate having to work with other people's default settings and without my shortcuts. Wastes so much time just figuring out how stuff is oriented. Maybe I can get that crap done tomorrow.

Anyway. After this part is done, I guess things should go easier as we move into other phases that are more about editing than source-checking. All I can say is it's fucking bullshit that they only give you 2 credit hours for a whole year of law review, with all the damn work you put in. I said I wasn't going to complain about it, because I got so fucking sick of hearing my friends complain about "stupid law review" last year. But what can I say? It really is a royal pain. I cannot fathom why people out there in the legal realm are so impressed with this credential. Maybe because it proves you are willing to be a little workhorse bitch. Whatever.

So classes: I think they are probably going to be alright (for law school classes). The subjects are all bar subjects. Things like wills / trusts, criminal law, income tax, and secured transactions (fancy talk for when you put up personal assets to secure a debt). Those are all pretty dry subjects, but happily, at least three of the four professors teaching them are very engaging. The fourth... I need to see her in action a few more times to be sure, but she will probably be fine. I actually have a fifth class only once a week, and tomorrow is my first session. It's a class on cyber-crime (internet fraud, child porn, online copyright & trademark infringement, online trade secret misappropriation, hacking -- things like that). It will be taught by a USDOJ guy who I heard give a presentation earlier this year. I liked his presentation, so hopefully I will like his class. This is my one "fun" class. I am slightly concerned because it's a seminar: worth fewer credits, but always seeming to have more work than a regular 3 or 4 credit hour class. But I'm pretty much all in if I want to both graduate on time AND have an easier load next semester.

This morning I woke up drenched in sweat, changed my clothes, went back to bed, and then hours later woke up drenched in sweat again. I guess that could be an indicator of stress. I also wonder if it might not be a reaction to the change in weather. In 2004 when I went to Kiel Germany on study abroad, my first week there I woke up drenched in sweat in the middle of every night. Needless to say I had a lot of laundry after that first week. I remember talking to a friend there who was experiencing the same thing. Maybe it was the weather, maybe we were both stressing. Who knows?

Anyway, it's gonna be a hell of a semester.


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