Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I'm killing this blog. I don't particularly enjoy writing about myself and am pretty wary of saying something that puts me in hot water (that said, I have SO MUCH to say about certain people and certain things, oh well). From here on out, treat this thing as you would a serial killer in a horror movie; it's dead, with a chance of return.

Since this is my last post, I'll update my life to this point:

1. I graduated from law school:

Bittersweet. VERY bittersweet. I worked my ass off to graduate and did pretty well over the last few semesters, but am jobless and uncertain about what exactly I want to do now. I'd always assumed that something would click in law school and make me say: "I really want to do this for the rest of my life," but that never happened. I'm keeping my options open at this point (while excluding all private sector work...).

2. I suffered through senior week and graduation weekend:

Due to a writing project that I was working on with a professor, I did not finish until after exam period. I'd already completed the project, but we were still putting final touches on the project. That meant that when I was supposed to be celebrating with my friends, I was stuck in the undergrad library. Not fun.

By the time senior week rolled around, I was wiped and a bit under the weather. I did my best to put on a happy face, but it was a pale one.

Grad weekend itself was brutal. My parents went through an ugly divorce while I was in law school and things really deteriorated between them over the last year. I spent most of the weekend focusing on ways to keep my parents/step-parents apart in a futile attempt to keep the peace. That added up to a celebration FAIL.

3. I completed the Maryland bar application:

Like everything in life, I put this off to the last minute. I didn't have time to do it while I was doing everything I needed to do to graduate. After that, I was stuck in my senior week/graduation quagmire. So, the day after graduation, I finally started working on the sixty page Maryland bar application.

I imagine that it takes most people a significant chunk of time to complete the bar application. If you add a Saab 900 with a broken speedometer to the mix, it becomes crushingly time-consuming. Between making calls to random jurisdictions between DC and Cleveland (along my ticket-riddled drive to college...) and trying to track down notaries, I just barely got my application in time to actually sit for the bar exam.

4. I had five days without an obligation of any kind:

So, I went to the beach with my closest male friends from school. We proceeded to get hammered, eat crab, play putt-putt, get more hammered, watch The Saint, and generally destroy all hope of being well-rested for our bar classes. That was good times.

5. I began my online bar course:

I chose to use Themis to study for the bar. It was half the price of Barbri and I had read enough antitrust cases involving Barbri that I felt I should help the little guy. We'll see if I made the right choice on November 5th, when the Maryland bar results come out.

In all seriousness, I think the substance of the course was solid. I felt I learned a lot and after the test felt like I had been sufficiently prepared.

My big complaint is that they scheduled in an impossible amount of work, which I think added significantly to my level of stress. Continually failing to complete your allotment of daily tasks can be disheartening. I assume they want to be able to say to people, "well, if you had completed all of your assignments, we are confident that you would have passed."

That's exactly the sort of thinking that pervaded my law school experience. Instead of focusing on each student learning the material to the best of their ability, the focus was on forcing everyone to adhere to an archaic system of learning that may or may not have any bearing on what sort of lawyer or test-taker they produce. Just as GW adapted Harvard's use of the Socratic Method, Themis adapted Barbri's use of the Bombardment Method. Is there no better way? Are lawyers incapable of deducing a variety of methods to create better students and advocates? Meh, that's a subject for a full post of its own (if this blog wasn't facing imminent termination...).

6. I took the Maryland bar exam:

It was hard, but fair. I felt like I did a very solid job with all ten essays. As for the MPT, it was not difficult but I only left myself sixty minutes to complete what's supposed to take ninety and thus wasn't able to say everything I wanted to say. Hopefully, it wasn't a big deal.

The MBE sucked. I slept like an angel after the first day and felt that the only thing that could prevent a pass would be a complete meltdown on the MBE. I don't think I had a meltdown but had trouble focusing and as a result, I worked much slower than usual. I didn't get to ten questions, so just filled in "B," like my barbri friends told me to. Hopefully those questions will get tossed or they mercifully come up "B." We'll see, I guess.

Regardless, I'm proud of how hard I worked and how I performed on the exam day. If I failed, it will not be for lack of preparation.

7. I went to the drunken olympics:

Yes, I'm now a two-time drunken olympian. My first go-around was a failure, as I didn't drink nearly enough to compete. I put in a much stronger showing this year, but my team still came up short (I'm still not sure how that's possible, considering how many events we "won"). Although I battled some not-so-fun hangovers, I didn't get sick or commit any major crimes. Surely I deserve a medal of some sort for that.

8. What's next:

Who knows! I'm taking some short trips but not an actual bar trip. My main focus will be figuring out my career situation. Normally I would blog about any major decisions but this thing is DEAD! Thus, if you want to know what's going on with me, give me a call or find me on gchat. Thanks for stopping by Pay the Money and Take a Shot!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

More than a Coach

I have a lot to say about a lot of things. This one is worth breaking my silence over. John Wooden has died. He was 99.

I would reminisce about Wooden's championship teams at UCLA but his last championship came six years before my birth. All I know of him is what I've read about him through the years. I still have three lasting memories of him.

The first came when I was falling in love with college basketball during the early 90's. At the time, Coach K was in the process of leading Duke to back-to-back championships. I thought he was the greatest coach to ever live. I then discovered that some guy named John Wooden had won ten championships in twelve years at UCLA. I was dumbfounded.

The next was when I was in college and studying cello and pedagogy. My teacher was a monster, but also a brilliant teacher and recruiter. Somehow, he managed to assemble the greatest cello studio in the country in the middle of dank, gray Cleveland.

We talked once in a lesson about a documentary that we'd both watched about John Wooden. My teacher noted his successes and compared himself favorably to John Wooden. He was no John Wooden, because John Wooden was a far greater man than coach. I told myself at that moment that if I became a cello teacher some day, I would model myself after Wooden, not my cello teacher.

The last came when I flipped to the back of Sports Illustrated and read a column by Rick Reilly. It was about Wooden and his love of his wife Nell, who had passed away fifteen years before. The column noted that a month after she passed, Wooden wrote a love letter to her and slipped it under her pillow.

I remember crying when I read Reilly's column. I felt sick thinking about how much he must have missed her to want to write her a letter and to leave her pillow where it was when she died. That column was written ten years ago. Wooden wrote those letters every month until he passed yesterday.

For twenty-five years, Wooden wrote love letters to a woman he fell in love with over eighty years ago. That, my friends, is commitment. That is devotion. That is love.

I admire Coach Wooden for a lot of reasons, but it is his life of passion that I find most inspiring. I hope that in death, his love finds new life. I hope that all of us can find something we feel equally passionate about.

R.I.P., Coach. Gone, but certainly not forgotten.

Monday, May 10, 2010


So, I turned in my last draft of my last law school essay last Tuesday night. I then hightailed it to North Carolina for a few days of R and R with my law school crew. While I was there, my grades trickled in. It looks like I'm actually going to graduate. Really?

I think I'm still in the shock and denial phase of the seven stages of recovering from law school grief. My transcript says I'm done, but part of me won't believe it until I'm holding the diploma in my hand and it has my name on it. Until then, I'll be celebrating, but not running-through-the-streets-naked celebrating. I'll save that for when I pass the bar.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I turn 29 today at 3:23 a.m. Let's all hope that it's a golden day.

As for this blog, I have lots to blog about, most of which I'm keeping to myself until after graduation. Let's just say that it's going to get pretty saucy up in here starting on May 17th.

And what are my birthday plans, you ask? Go to my class at 3:50, maybe dinner out, and then paper writing in the libs! Yaaaaay! I love writing papers on my biiiiiirthday!!!!

It's cool, though. I threw a lovely birthday party for myself before prom and received a smashing serenade of happy birthday from my friends. That was good enough times for ten birthdays. Thanks, glorious section 12'ers!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gregg Easterbrook: America's Educator

In lieu of posting something original, I've decided to post something brilliant. Last week, Gregg Easterbrook posted his penultimate Tuesday Morning Quarterback of the season (wiping away tears). About 25,000 words in, he tackled the mislabeling of President Obama as a "tax-and-spend" President. I learned. I hope you do too:

Borrow-and-Spend Replaces Tax-and-Spent: The tea party crowd -- which calls itself a movement though perhaps one American in 10,000 actually has attended a tea party -- claims Barack Obama is a "tax and spend" president. Obama is a borrow-and-spend president, just as George W. Bush was. Federal tax rates have declined steadily for a generation, and declined sharply in the past decade. A declining federal tax burden for most people, rather than higher federal spending, is the core reason for skyrocketing deficits -- though spending surely is rising, too. Commentators who use the phrase "tax and spend" to describe Obama either don't understand recent political history or aren't being honest.

Federal income tax rates were cut by John Kennedy in the early 1960s, by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s; rose slightly under the elder George Bush; were cut twice under the younger Bush, and cut again by Obama last winter. Capital-gains tax rates have declined too; Social Security and Medicare taxes ("payroll taxes") were raised by Reagan and by Bill Clinton, although not enough to fully fund either program, meaning those taxes are lower than they need to be for fiscal discipline. This chart shows the decline of the federal top rate, to less than half of what it was under Dwight Eisenhower.

The younger Bush was hammered in the press because his two tax cuts reduced the rate paid by the rich: But the same cuts nearly eliminated federal income taxes on the working class and lower middle class. That is, George W. Bush's tax cuts were progressive. Last year, 43 percent of Americans paid no federal income taxes -- in 2009; this year, as many as half of Americans are expected to pay no federal income taxes. Yet public discourse is full of complaints about taxes, and many people claim to hate Washington because of taxes, while practically everyone demands more federal benefits and services.

As middle-class taxes are being eliminated, the top 20 percent of filers -- the well-off -- pay for a steadily higher share of federal government, last year paying 70 percent of total federal taxes. The well-off are financing most of the federal government, and that will intensify next year as taxes go up on household income above $250,000. Other than the spending paid for by the well-off, the rest is being billed to the young, via deficit spending and borrowing.

Keynesian point: It does make sense to increase federal spending when the economy is soft. But the flip side of Keynesian economics is that government should reduce spending when the economy is strong, using the breathing space to pay down debt. Congress loves to increase spending. Is there any chance that as the economy recovers, Congress will abide by the second prescription of Keynesian economics, and reduce spending? A few days ago the House quietly raised the federal debt ceiling to $14 trillion, allowing yet another round of undisciplined, unaccountable giveaways. That big number equates to $46,000 in debt for every American citizen. Since no one in the Boomer generation ever will repay a dime -- the Baby Boom's final sociological act-out may be to bankrupt the country -- the effective debt is more like $100,000 per American under the age of 30.

Fiscal policy point: Think I am exaggerating about bankrupting the country? Last week Moody's Investor Services warned that U.S. Treasury bonds may be downgraded from Triple-A status. Even if the extremely modest fiscal-discipline goals recently announced by President Obama are met, in five years the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio will be worse than it was in 1950, when America was paying off World War II borrowing.

Media point: Here are headlines from last week's budget proposal release. USA Today's main headline (underneath "What Happens to Avatar 3-D Glasses?") was "Obama Budget Proposal Draws Rapid Fire," the political-quarrel angle. The New York Times' main headline was "Huge Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power," the public-policy angle. The Chicago Tribune's main headline was "Obama Budget Proposes $100 Billion for Jobs Subsidies," the blue-collar angle. The Washington Post's main headline was "Budget Calls for Increased Spending," the angle that pleases Post readers, many of whom work for or with the federal government. The Wall Street Journal cut to the chase for its demographic: "Wealthy Face Tax Increase."

Understanding government note: Here is a fantastic graphic showing how the federal budget is spent. Entitlement spending for individuals -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, other health care -- totally dominate. The ticking time bombs are Social Security and Medicaid costs, both of which increase as Boomers retire, and "net interest," which could increase by hundreds of billions of dollars annually if interest rates rise, which seems close to inevitable. Today's undisciplined federal borrowing is happening before pension and Medicare costs will shoot up, owing to Boomer retirements. If Congress has already tapped out the national debt in order to give every interest group everything it demands today, how is the country going to finance the approaching retirement wave?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mexico Recap

1. Got off the ferry at Isla Mujeres at 1 on Friday.
2. Shots with Dan at 1:03.
3. Hitchhiked to house at 2:15.
4. Arrived at house via golf cart at 2:30.
5. Drunk by 4ish.
6. Blurry between 4-10ish.
7. Fell off roof around 10:30.
8. Got up off the ground around 10:31.
9. Thanked God that I was still alive at 10:32.
10. Thrown in pool four times between 11 and midnight (leaving me without a dry shirt...).
11. Naked by midnight (apparently, I am terrible at strip spoons, especially when I begin the game only wearing a bathing suit).
12. Blurry between 1-5 when I finally passed out on a couch.
13. Brushed my teeth with tap water at 11 the next morning.
14. Montezuma's Revenge by 12:30 (thanks to aforementioned tooth brushing).
15. In bed by 2.
16. Sweaty, vomity mess from 2 on Saturday until noon on Monday.
17. Finally out of bed for good at around 1.
18. Glorious beach day from 1:30-5:30.
19. Drunken blur from 5:30-1:30.
20. On the ferry back to Cancun at 10 am.
21. On my flight at noon.
22. Home by 9:30.
23. Still alive. Thank God.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mexico, Bitches!!!

It's 5:53AM. My flight for Philadelphia leaves at 7:30AM. My connecting flight to...wait for it...CANCUN, leaves at 9:45AM. I'm due to arrive in Cancun at 12:45PM. I then have to make my way to a ferry which will take me to Isla Mujeres (the Isle of Women...I'm not kidding).

Who/what will meet me once I get off the ferry? One Daniel James M. Well, that's if he's not too preoccupied with seeing his girlfriend for the first time since he left for Mexico (I'm not his girlfriend...yet). My instructions? Buy a bottle of liquor at duty-free. Will I survive this trip? I hope so.

While I have the floor, I would like to give some serious kudos to security at BWI. I left my brother's place in Baltimore at 4:30AM for a 7:30AM flight, because I was convinced that it would take me forever to get through security. It took me ten minutes to get through security and that was even with a line that was probably 100 people deep. I was at my gate by 5:30. Seriously, awesome. Now I just have to figure out how to kill time until my flight.

That brings me to my next point. I'm blogging for free right now because Google gave me (and everyone else at BWI) free WiFi for the holidays. I know what you're thinking, "didn't the holidays end two weeks ago?" Yes, yes they did. But Google kindly put the end date of their gift as today, January 15, 2010. Sweet.

PS- As a follow-up to my previous post, I got my grade back for my antitrust exam. I am happy to report that I did extremely well. I know that it's poor form to brag about grades, but law school has been tough for me. I've worked really hard and often not gotten the results I wanted. It was nice to finally see my hard work pay off.

The trick? I did my own outline and finished it in time to take a practice exam and go over my answers with the professor's model answers.

When I first looked at his answer key, my heart dropped a little bit. I finally figured out my problem on law school exams; I was going WAY too much into detail on individual subjects instead of plowing through all the possible areas you can get points. That means I left a lot of points on the table.

Oh well. At least I figured it out on my second to last law school exam ever. If only I'd figured it out sooner! Maybe this semester I'll figure out how to write awesome papers. I better, because I have four to write. Rough.

PPS- Happy MLK weekend, everyone!