Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Does Getting Fired From a Crappy Job Make Me Unfit to Practice Law?

One of the questions on the character portion of the bar application asks if you have ever been terminated from a job, or permitted to resign in lieu of termination. I had to answer that one "yes".

See, one of the crappy, crappy jobs I held in college was one working as a customer service representative for a certain makeup company lampooned in Edward Scissorhands. They opened a brand new central phone center just north of my hometown, offered "flexible" scheduling, full benefits, and started at $10 per hour, which sounded like a princely sum after two years of working at the cemetery for $8 an hour. This was around the time that I needed a full time job that would have evening and weekend hours so that I could start knocking out some of my gen ed requirements, many of which met in the middle of the day, making it difficult to schedule my classes and continue to work at the cemetery without getting fired for excessive absences.

At the interview, I was assured that, because the center was open from 6 am until Midnight, six days a week, as well as from 9 am until 6 pm on Sundays, I could schedule my work hours around my classes, no problem. That was only the first of many, many lies the Company From Hell told.

The stress of that job was unreal. Looking back on it, I can't believe I stayed there more than two months-- and the only reason I'd have stayed that long is because we had six weeks of training, then two weeks of supervised call taking on the floor before we were turned loose. I regularly went home in tears, cried more than once while on the phone (this was where I learned how to cry silently; I doubt any of the customers who made me cry or got me on the phone after a bad call ever knew.), developed an honest-to-god ulcer, started taking Prilosec, started having anxiety attacks, and ended up on Prozac for a while.

Our customers there were not the people who actually bought the products, but the saleswomen (and a handful of salesmen) who sold the product. And the callers fell into three groups: the good, the mean, and the stupid. The good ones were perfectly normal people who had legitimate problems with an order or a product and needed our help to fix it. They were patient and did not yell at us for a UPS driver who left a box at the wrong house or a product that looked different in the catalog than in real life. They had their ducks in a row, gave us the information we needed to fix the problem, said please and thank you, and were less than 10% of the callers because The Company makes it very easy for their salespeople to resolve most problems without needing to contact the customer service center.

The mean ones were the ones who needed to scream and yell and call us names and be abusive for one reason or another. Sometimes, I'm sure, it was out of simple frustration. Most of those people could be turned into "good" callers quite easily by listening to their problem, apologizing, then doing whatever you could do to make it right. Most of these, the quasi-mean, ended up apologizing by the end of the call for being mean. But many of the mean were looking for someone to blame, other than themselves, for a screw up. Or they were on a power trip, feeling that we lowly customer service reps should be kissing their feet because they were in the "Inner Circle" level of sales. Or they were taking out their frustration with their children or with their husband, or with their neighbors, or their customers on us. A few of these were so bad that they actually had their accounts flagged to warn the representative.

A subcategory of the mean callers is the scammers. These either start off sweet as pie, trying to sweet talk you into doing what they know they aren't allowed to do, or they start off yelling, trying to bully you into doing what they aren't allowed to do. These included people who would call and claim not to have received items, so that we would ship them out again, people who would try to get late fees and return fees refunded, and people who called with crazy stories, presumably hoping for some sort of big payoff. For example, I had a woman claim to have found a used condom in her box of lipsticks and perfumes. We offered to ship her a whole new box of stuff and she threw a tantrum, saying that that couldn't possibly compensate her for the trauma of seeing the condom in her stuff. Now, first of all, most of the boxes are packed by machine. Machines don't use condoms. And second of all, if she found anything in her box, she probably found a finger cot, which were used by the people who spot check the orders for accuracy and bears a passing resemblance (but no more than a passing resemblance!) to a condom, but would not, ummmmmm... show evidence of having been used.

Then there were the stupid callers. I feel perfectly comfortable using this description on the basis of the training we received at the beginning. We were not just trained on how to take calls. First, we learned about The Company and its products. Then we were trained on how the sales program works. We also toured the plant and the returns facility before finally starting to be trained on how to take calls. I'll get back to that part.

Anyway, the sales program could not be simpler. It is structured so that anyone can do it, at least in theory. The ordering process is incredibly simple, as is the returns process. New representatives are given a step-by-step guide that tells them how to handle various situations, and it is a marvel of flow chart simplicity. Really, any sixth grader could do it. The thing that makes it not easy is the fact that not everyone is cut out for sales. I know I'm not. But the actual process of being a sales rep for The Company is child's play. The stupid callers were incapable of handling it.

I can't begin to tell you how many calls I took from people who couldn't understand that they had to pay for the items they ordered, whether they sold them or not. Other callers would be upset at the $4 shipping fee to return non-defective products, claiming that no one ever told them that they'd have to pay to return the products, despite the fact that the manual AND the return form both advised of this fact in bold face type. Other callers didn't get the concept of ordering to begin with, calling to ask us why they hadn't received any items for that sales period only to have it become clear that they'd never sent an order to us, only written it down in their book-- and yet still be upset that we hadn't shipped it on out anyway.

The callers weren't the worst part of the job, though. That was The Company and its policies. To start, we were required to follow a very, very strict phone script. The scripts were organized as flow charts with certain phrases "required" and others "suggested". If you were audited on a call (and everyone was audited for a certain number of calls, depending on how many hours a week you worked), and you deviated from the chart or left out a required phrase, you failed the call, no matter how well you did on everything else. The scripts and a handful of quick reference guides were kept in three inch binders. I took mine home and tabbed it all to hell and back, just to be able to find the proper scripts.

In addition to the phone scripts, we were confined by a set of rules as to what we were allowed to do. For example, I could remove a late fee, provided that no late fees had been removed in the previous four months. Otherwise, I had to get supervisor approval. But I could also refuse to remove a late fee for certain reasons, such as an account that had been flagged for possible scamming. But I wasn't allowed to give a reason why to the caller. All I was allowed to say (and this was a required phrase) was "I'm sorry, I am not able to remove the fee at this time". I really, really hated that, first of all because it meant that the customer would just call back again, and hope to get someone who didn't know any better or just didn't care, and also because the use of the phrase "at this time" meant they'd keep calling to try again.

They also treated us like really stupid sheep, or maximum security prisoners. Whenever you left your desk, you had to put your phone in a "rest state"-- that is, take it out of the system for answering calls. If you went on break, you hit "Break", if you went to lunch "Meal Break", if you went to the bathroom "Comfort Break". If you went even one minute over, you got a notice. If you didn't take your break within five minutes of the time you were scheduled to take the break, you got a notice. Often, you would find yourself working a really crappy schedule with no recourse: Six hours straight on the phone, your first 15 minute break, then half an hour back on the phone before you go to lunch, and maybe your last break would be scheduled for the last half hour of your shift. And as for comfort breaks (aka potty breaks), if you took more than four minutes per shift, you got a notice.

If you got so many notices in a certain time frame, you got either a half or a full demerit. If you got more than two demerits in a rolling year, you were ineligible for merit raises or promotion. More than four demerits meant you were ineligible for all raises. More than six meant you were on probation, and eight could (theoretically) get you fired. In reality, the standard was applied rather haphazardly, with the supervisors' friends not getting demerits applied to their records, and those who the supervisors disliked being watched like hawks for any minor infraction. You also got demerits for failing a call audit, for being even one minute late for your shift, and for a myriad of other things.

In addition to the threat of getting demerits, you had to meet an arbitrary set of quotas to be eligible for raises or promotions. For example, you had to have an average call time of just over four minutes, you had to take a certain number of calls for every ten hours worked, and so on. The quotas were set so high that it was almost impossible to meet them if you actually did your job right. Many of the less scrupulous reps would do anything, up to and including faking a disconnect, in order to keep their average call time down. More than once, I found myself on a particularly long call, working on something particularly complicated, and felt my stomach tightening at the thought of what was happening to my call time.

And that flexible scheduling? The first time I tried to change my shift, I was told that I must have made that up because obviously if they hired me for that particular shift, that was when they needed me and I couldn't possibly change shifts. There was a long, complicated process to trade individual shifts, but there was a limit as to how many shifts you could trade in a certain period. Also, within a few months, staffing had become so precarious that they began scheduling us for mandatory overtime. At one point, I was working an average of 70 hours a week at The Company, as well as carrying a full time course load. Turnover was insane. Within two months of leaving training, I was the only one of our class of twenty or so who still worked at the Company.

I stuck it out for almost two years. The health coverage was excellent and paid for by the company, plus I got paid leave and stock options. During my second year there, I requested and was approved for a few days between Christmas and New Year's so that I could fly to Buffalo to visit Finbar and his family. I booked and paid for non-refundable tickets. Then I was transfered to a different supervisor's group. Maybe four days before I was due to leave, after several months of working mandatory overtime, the new guy informed me that I wasn't allowed to go because they needed me to work. I raised a bit of a stink, pointing out that the time had already been approved, all to no avail. I can only be pushed so far before I snap, and snap I did.

I took the vacation anyway.

When I got back, there was a letter in my mailbox, informing me that my employment at The Company was being terminated as a result of my failure to show up for my shift. I should have been frightened or upset at my sudden unemployment, because I had NO money and NO savings. Instead, I cried with relief. I'd already paid my rent for the month, and my parents bought me some groceries, so I just went out and found a job waitressing, which turned out to be a great job for me. I was very good at it, and made lots of money in far few hours, with much less stress. The ulcer healed, I stopped taking all of the medications, and I was able to finally enjoy being a college student for the last two years of my education.

A funny coda: Two weeks or so after being fired, I received another letter, informing me that I was being fired for failing to show up for my scheduled shift on January XX (I can't remember the actual date)-- the day after I was fired the first time. In other words, I was fired for not coming into work after I was fired.

Now, however, I find myself facing a bit of a dilemma. The Board of Law Examiners wants supporting documents to prove my version of events. What on earth am I supposed to send them? I guarantee that I don't still have the approval form or even the termination letters. That was all seven years and several moves ago. Do I have my parents sign sworn affidavits that this actually happened? Does my best friend write a letter on my behalf? I don't know who at The Company I would even contact to try and get documentation of such a thing. What will happen if I am unable to provide this documentation?


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Holy Crap, I'm a Doctor!

I was never really into the whole idea of walking at graduation. I walked in high school, which meant less than nothing to me, but was very important to my parents. I walked again in college, which was of inordinate importance to me. I went to both ceremonies: the one for the whole enormous university, where they announced entire colleges at once ("School of Engineering"-- all the engineering grads stood up-- "College of Arts and Sciences"-- all the liberal arts graduates stood up, etc.), as well as the "smaller" one for just the students in my college at the university, where they called us up by name. Several thousand students graduated at the same time, so it was a mad house. I was totally into it, though, in part because I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and in part because I had to work so freaking hard just to finish.

Law school graduation not only seemed utterly unimportant to me, I was actually dreading going through with the ceremony. I tenatively broached the idea of not walking back in the fall, and my mother was so upset, I knew I had to go through with it. I'm still the only one to finish college-- though my sister is about to finish a certificate program in office management, and I have a cousin who went to nursing school, and her younger sister just started college this fall. My finishing law school is a huge deal to them, sort of the culmination of their deepest hopes and dreams that I would be able to acheive higher things than they had the opportunity for.

So I sucked it up and rented the cap and gown, cleaned my apartment, and borrowed an air mattress from Ash. Friday afternoon, while I was waiting for my family to decend on my peaceful apartment, I decided to press my gown. When I took the stuff out of the package, I found that I had been given the wrong size cap, so I thought it might be a good idea to try on the robe and make sure I had the right size. I stood in front of my full length dressing mirror and put the robe on. And I looked at myself, standing there with the velvet stripes and it hit me: I am a doctor.

I mean, yeah, it's not that kind of doctor. But still! I am now the proud holder of the degree of Juris Doctor.

After the shock of discovering that I have not been sitting in classes for the past three years for nothing, I decided to deal with the whole cap thing by calling one of the deans. No messing around for me! And I was assured that they would have a smaller cap for me, all I had to do was come and find them up by the stage about 15 minutes before the ceremony started.

When we arrived at the hall on Saturday, the lawn was filled with people wandering around with their caps and gowns on, squealing and pointing and taking pictures, and generally in high excitement. I had left my camera at home because what on earth was I going to do with it during the ceremony? but I regretted it because I really wanted to take pictures of myself with my friends. I got to meet the Dirty Birdie's parents, and they were so cute I wanted to die. Unfortunately, I didn't get to stay and chat with them because the dean was not where she said she would be, and I needed a cap that wouldn't fall off my head.

I finally tracked down the dean's Administrative Assistant, who guided me to a small box with spare caps in it-- all of which, except for one, were the exact same size as the too big one I had been given. What. The. Hell? Why have all the same size if you're supposed to be taking care of mistakes made by Herff Jones? I ended up bobby pinning the stupid cap on.

And then we were lined up in alphabetical order in the hallways, smothering in the robes, and waiting impatiently for everything to start. I realized that I really had to pee. But there wasn't time for that anymore, so I'd just have to suffer. The line started to shuffle forward and suddenly, there we were at the door to the auditorium. I could hear the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance in the distance. As I stepped over the threshold, I saw a sea of faces, all turned to watch us walking down the aisle, taking pictures, flashes going off all over the place, and I almost stopped short because it was a little scary. Is that what it's like to walk down the aisle at your wedding? Because I'm not sure I want to do it, ever again.

The ceremony itself was quite nice, though the dean-- a novice at this Commencement thing-- kept forgetting to stay close to the microphone during her speeches, and the class president gave a speech memorable for its inanity and illogical structure and phrasing. The commencement speaker was excellent, one of the best I've ever heard, making my record two for three (Bill Cobsy gave the speech at my undergraduate Commencement and was phenomenal).

And then came the hooding ceremony. I hadn't bothered to read up on the ceremony beforehand, despite being advised to do so by the dean. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to wing it. So I was mildly surprised by the fact that you face the audience while being hooded, though I kind of liked the symbolism of it, once I got used to it. Of the three professors doing the hooding, I had been in classes with two of them and liked them both very much, so I was hoping to be hooded by one of them. Unfortunately, that was not to be. I was hooded by the former dean of the law school, who I am told is a very nice man and a great scholar, but who I do not know and have never actually spoken to. Then I walked across the stage to have my hand shaken by several people I didn't know, plus the dean and associate dean.

Back in my seat, sitting next to the girl I sat next to in first semester Legal Process, being strangled by my hood, I watched a parade of faces go by, almost all of them familiar. A few of them, I'd forgotten about ("Hey, look! Gilligan graduated after all! I thought he'd transferred!"). A few of them, I won't be too sad not to see again. Soulless Evil Goblin was the queen of tacky when she came forward to be hooded, and the Queen Bee had both colored and straightened her hair, making her look like Tammy Faye Scarecrow. But mostly, there were people I laughed with, worked with, sweated through exams with, complained about the administration with, and shared this intense experience with. People I spent more time with over the past three years than my best friend or my family.

And then the Dean presented us, the Class of 2006, to the audience. We stood together while our families and friends applauded. I felt a lump in my throat as I realized the enormity of what we'd accomplished and also realized that this was the last time we'd ever be gathered together like that. All of these people who had gathered together in the Courtroom less than three years ago for Orientation were standing together one last time for Graduation.

Circle of life and all.

We took pictures on the front lawn, me sweltering in my gown, but unwilling, really, to take it off. I wanted so badly to take pictures with Dirty Birdie, but in the crush of things, I couldn't find her, and the opportunity was lost. Finally, when almost everyone had gone to the reception, I turned in my cap and gown and my hood. It was really hard to give up that hood. I don't understand why we didn't get to keep it, or at least didn't get the option to buy it. Not that I know what I'd do with it.

And that was it. I'm officially Katze, J.D. And I have to study for the bar exam.

At church on Sunday, one of the professors from the law school came up to congratulate me and said "Isn't it a dirty trick they play, making you take the bar exam after you've graduated?" Yes, in fact, it is. The dirtiest trick there is, if you ask me.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It Should Have Been a No-Brainer

What is wrong with people? What's more important: a)someone's life, or b)getting to tell people at a cocktail party that you made it to the top of Mt. Everest? And don't give me this crap about the climb being about conquering yourself or some other metaphysical bullcrap, because not only should that NOT be more important than someone else's life, but I'd think that being able to say to yourself "That man is alive because of me" would satisfy the ego just as well.

Help for the Ignorant

My laptop needs a new battery. Specifically, my Sony VAIO PCG-V505BX needs a battery that apparently costs $140 plus shipping and handling if I order it from Sony. I'd like to see if I can't get it cheaper elsewhere. So I turn to you all for advice: who is a reliable retailer to get a Sony laptop battery from, other than Sony? Also, the laptop is now going on three years old, so I'm having trouble finding batteries for it at, say, Circuit or the like.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Ash and I ate a metric ton of chinese food tonight (and I had most of an order of Crab Rangoon because I am a pig and have no sense of what's good for me). After dinner, I was so gluttonously stuffed that I just went back to work on my research project. Ash, however, cracked open his fortune cookie, and his subsequent laughter made me waddle right back over. His fortune?

"You would make a good lawyer."

Fortune cookie baked by Professor Trelawny?


I Am An Idiot, Part 984 of an Ongoing Series

I went for a run "early" this morning (that is, around 10-ish)before settling down to do my work. It felt much earlier because I fell asleep on the couch last night at about 9 p.m., then woke up at 11 and couldn't get back to sleep. Rrrrrrr! I hate it when that happens, because it knocks me off my sleep rhythm and I sleep badly for days after.

Anyway, I came back from the run-- which was glorious, simply glorious: sunshine and a cool breeze, fresh air, birds, and so quiet!-- and did 20 minutes of stretches and abdominal exercises. Then I made some lunch. When it was finished, I started running a hot bath. It takes awhile for the tub to fill, and I planned to eat while it was running. I plated my food, then went back to check the temperature of the water. It fluctuates wildly at times, and more than once, I've drawn a bath that turned out to be just cool enough to be no fun to soak in at all. In fact, I noticed that the water was particularly cool today, so I turned the cold down and left the hot running. Then I went back to eat.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Luckily, I heard the splishy sound of the water slipping over the tub's edge and ran into the bathroom. The flooding was minimal and I mopped it up in a matter of a few minutes (one less chore to finish before the family descends en masse for graduation!). What the heck is wrong with me? I mean, the couscous and veggies were good, but not that good!

Monday, May 22, 2006


One of my recent referrals has alerted me to the existence of a product called Yahoo!Slurp. This makes my stomach turn. Who named this? Why was it approved?

My life was so much better when I didn't know about this.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bar Review, Day 6

Topics covered during the Property lecture:

  • An incident in which a lesbian couple was supposedly given free lifetime passes to all Dodgers home games as an apology for kicking them out for kissing-- which apparently inspired the lecturer to go to Dodgers Stadium with his best friend to "make out", in hopes of scoring free tickets. The vignette was described in loving detail, including the phrase "His hands were down my pants", and was entirely inappropriate for a public gathering of any sort, but especially for one ostensibly professional in nature.
  • A separate incident in which the lecturer ran into Pamela Anderson at a coffee shop while ordering his Tool Drink. She was ostensibly taken with the idea of his being a law professor, and hit on him: a 60-ish looking balding man with a terrible beard, an obnoxious voice, and freakish hands (seriously, they looked like enormous rubber gloves stuck on the ends of his shirt sleeves and pumped full of air), but he didn't pursue it.
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Cher*
  • Farting during the bar exam, requiring the use of a second pair of earplugs to stopper the nose after the proctor refused to allow him to switch seats to get away from the farter.**
*Okay, actually I'll give him this one, because it developed into an anecdote about how supposedly Cher sued someone who tried to build a home that would have impeded her view of the beach and was, I suppose, intended to illustrate the repudiated doctrine of negative easement for air, light, or view.

**He actually inserted sound effects during this story. I wanted to die.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Why I Heart My Mechanic

Everyone needs a good mechanic, but I would venture to say that this is even more important for a woman than for a man. Almost every woman I've ever spoken to on this topic has some story of being treated like a moron or cheated by a mechanic when visiting alone, and a corresponding story of receiving far better treatment when accompanied by a man. Not to say that men are never cheated or that all men know about cars, but this is one of those things, like walking alone at night, that are just different for women.

Having moved around a bit, I've not had a "regular" mechanic for awhile now. I've taken my car to the dealer quite often, paying the higher prices for the feeling that I'm less likely to get cheated (and for the very real feeling that they don't talk to me like an idiot). For a short time, I took my car to Finbar's parents' mechanic, who turned out to be an utter incompetent, creating problems that I've had to pay someone else to sort out over the past year. So I was thrilled to get a very enthusiastic recommendation for the same mechanic from two separate people in the space of a week this past fall.

I took my car in to get one of the problems created by Finbar's parents' mechanic-- an improperly installed set of brake pads-- fixed. I'd been having trouble with squealing and an odd, intermittant shuddering on braking for some time, but I kind of wrote it off at first because I'd just had the stupid things put on at the beginning of last summer, and it was only September, so how on earth could they need attention? Then the brake light came on... Anyway, when he put my car up on the rack and took a look, he couldn't see anything that should be causing my problem. Instead of just telling me that everything looked fine and showing me how I had plenty of pad left, he took the time to take the whole assembly apart and discovered that the previous work, having been improperly done, had allowed moisture to get inside the housing and a critical thingie (I can't remember the actual word for it) was gunked stuck. The nearly new pads (less than 1500 miles on them!) looked fine from the exposed side, but were entirely gone on the inside edge and if I had continued to drive on them, they would have exposed my rotors to damage-- which would have been ruinous to my finances. Instead, because he found the problem, he could install a new thingie, put on new pads, and fix the adjustment of the brakes.

When I got my car back on the road after that, I was shocked at how much better the car handled, especially the braking (of course). In fact, I was appalled at how dangerous it must have been for me to be driving the car: the distance for me to stop was many times longer before the repair, and because the deterioration had been fairly gradual, I hadn't really realized just how bad it was.

The entire repair cost me just over $300. Including parts and labor. And a loaner car. You see, when he took the brakes apart and saw the problem, he told me that he didn't really feel comfortable with having me drive the car and offered me the use of the spare junker in back of the shop. He'd gotten it to fix up for a relative. It looked horrible and had no airconditioning and things like the power windows didn't work, but it had a good engine and (most importantly) working brakes, and was otherwise driveable. He handed me the keys and told me to bring it back when I came to pick up my own car. He didn't have to do that; he could have handed me the phone and the number to Hertz, or offered to rent me a car at an extra cost.

Since then, he's done work on my exhaust and routine maintenance and each time, he's been just amazing to work with. The only downside to using this guy is that he doesn't really do appointments. Instead, he has you drop the car off in the morning and leave it there for the day-- though he's usually been done with it by early afternoon, so it's not been such a major inconvenience for me.

This week, he raised himself even higher in my estimation with a real act of kindness. My headlights both burned out last week, and I intended to change the bulbs myself. I used to do this on my old Toyota, and it was very simple. Unscrew the housing, pop out the old light, pop in the new one, screw the housing back in. Done. And much cheaper than taking it to a mechanic, too. It's one of those things, like changing your wiper blades or adjusting the tire pressure, that is so easy to do that it seems ridiculous to pay someone else to do it. So I consulted my owner's manual, saw that the procedure seemed simple enough (remove the relay box/ air duct, disconnect the headlight, remove the cover, release the light bulb, remove the old bulb, install the new bulb, and reverse the preceeding steps. Done.), and wrote down the necessary bulb.

Then I went to buy the bulb. Problem #1: the bulb number they note in the owner's manual doesn't seem to exist. I carefully and meticulously read each and every tag on the shelf, looking for the right combination of letters and numbers. No dice. So I find the little booklet they often put on the shelves that list all the different makes, models, and years in a chart showing the corresponding parts. It's how I know my driver's side windshield wiper is 2" longer than the passenger side, because let me tell you, my owner's manual doesn't tell me that-- which seemed odd when I thought about it, but, oh well... Anyway, they listed a bulb # 4003FL/ #4003EL (I made those numbers up because I can't remember the real ones now). On the shelf, I found #4003 ND, #4003 CH, and #4003 YB (I made those numbers up, too.) I dithered about for at least five minutes, trying to figure out how much the letters mattered. Was it like different varieties of the same thing or like different things that are the same variety? In other words, would I end up causing an explosion or an electrical fire if I installed one of these bulbs? I finally decided to chance it, because it seemed like the bulb number varied from vehicle to vehicle, but not the letters.

Back home, I read on the back of the package "WARNING: Bulb contains pressurized gas and may shatter or explode during installation. Wear eye protection. Do not drop bulb. Do not use if glass is scratched. Do not touch bulb with bare skin. Do not hold bulb by any part other than the base. Do not breathe on the bulb." (I made the last one up.) Now, I have been conditioned to ignore many warnings on product packages. "WARNING: Do not use your hair dryer in the bathtub" (risk of electrocution aside, wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of using the hair dryer if you were getting your hair wet at the same time? And no matter how high you make the ponytail or how carefully you tuck your hair into a shower cap, your hair *will* get at least a little bit damp in the bath.) "WARNING: The inflatable couch is NOT a floation device" "WARNING: Do not use these hedge clippers to trim your hair. (That last one was NOT made up, but it was paraphrased from the warning sticker on my dad's hedge trimmers.) And it's not like I was planning to toss the bulb at the light receptacle, bocci style, or maybe attempt installation blindfolded, or something. Still, the warning got my attention because, dammit, I like being able to see. But, Problem #2, I don't have any of those little plastic safety glasses, like you wear in chemistry lab.

So I borrowed Ash's swim goggles.

Yes, I know. Swim goggles are not the same as safety glasses. But I figured they were better than nothing and might perform the essential function of keeping shards of glass out of my eyeballs.

So, there I am, in front of my apartment building, with the hood of my car up, the owner's manual laying open on the ground, my toolbox open next to it, and a pair of swim goggles on. The neighbors were probably wondering if they should call the cops or what. And I'm staring at the diagram in the manual and trying to figure out why the relay box isn't where it says it is. I look and look and, Problem #3, nothing anywhere near the damned right headlight looks like a relay box. Not, mind you, that I really know what the relay box is. Except that I figure it must be some sort of a fuse box, and I know what the fuse box under the driver's seat looks like, so I figure it must look like that, and the sketch in the book seems to confirm that, so WHY CAN'T I FIND THE RELAY BOX?

I finally decide to try the other headlight and come back to the right one. Let's see... left headlight is behind the air duct. OK. I went over to the other side and looked at the stuff over there. But I don't see anything that looks like an air duct, so I'm starting to question my intellect and sanity. I go back over to the right side and look, and suddenly it clicks: they mean right and left as seen from the car's point of view. How could I be so stupid? I mean, why would they right a manual from the point of view of the person doing the repairs? Of course it's written from the machine's point of view!

Having finally located the proper item to remove, I pull out the air duct. This is not easy because, Problem #4, it is very difficult to squeeze my hands into the space and manuever it off the connector. Next, I try to disconnect the headlight, but the connector is (Problems 5a-c) a)behind something, so I can't see it, and am forced to try and pull it out without actually seeing what I am doing, and b)covered in grease. Oh, and c)wedged in tight. The owner's manual has the helpful instruction "If connector is tight, wiggle it." Gee, thanks. That clears it right up!

I finally get the stupid thing disconnected and am forced to run inside and get paper towels and wet wipes to clean up the mess on my hands (Problem #6)so that I can continue with the operation. Next, I am to remove a rubber cover. It is helpfully labelled "TOP: OPEN", and I take hold of it and try to pull it off, it does not budge. Not even a little. (Problem #7). I am unsure if there is a special trick to this, since the owner's manual doesn't tell me to wiggle it, but the air duct required a squeeze and twist motion much like a childproof cap, and that wasn't in the manual either, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility. I pry at it ever so gently with the edge of a flat head screwdriver, and it moves ever so slightly, so I methodically continue prying at it until I get it off.

Now I am supposed to release the bulb from its housing. The manual shows an incomprehensible, IKEA-esque illustration with an arrow that doesn't seem to communicate anything to me at all except that it's supposed to come out. And this spring is behind everything, so you can't see it at all, but are simply supposed to feel it and somehow know how to release it.I, however, do not seem to have the proper touch (Problem #8), so I can't get it to release. It moves, just a little, but does not release. I study the diagram intently, hoping to figure out the secret motion that will unleash the bulb, and by dint of trial and error, finally get the latch to unhook.

Now I have to pull out the bulb. Wait. Have I mentioned that the swim goggles keep steaming up because I am sweating profusely? (Problem #9) So I am trying to remove the bulb while the edges of my vision are going blurrier and blurrier. I snake the bulb out from behind all of the machinery carefully, like I'm handling a bomb, which I suppose, in some small way, it is. I get it out of the engine compartment and lay it gently on the grass next to my car. Then I take off the goggles so that they can de-steam while I read the manual again.

It's time for the moment of truth. Goggles back in place I carefully unpackaged the new bulb and inspected it for scratches and such. Then I very slowly and carefully insert it into the receptacle, but it just won't sit flush, the way it's supposed to (Problem #10). And I am afraid to force it, or even apply much pressure at all, because I am afraid that it will explode and cut me up, and I don't have proper health insurance just right now, so that would be bad. Oh, and it's starting to get dark (Problem #11), because the operation that I thought would take maybe 10 or 15 minutes for both sides together has now taken a good hour longer than that for just the one side. I carefully move the bulb around, peering through the cover of the headlight to try and discern through the prism what I cannot hope to see behind all of the other engine stuff, and suddenly it sits flush for no reason that I can understand. Whatever! It's in!

Putting everything back together isn't too hard, but as I'm pushing the air duct back into place, one of the three clips-- which are plastic-- snaps off (Problem #12). The other two seem to be holding it in place firmly, so I don't worry too much about it. Got to get the other headlight in quickly because it's getting dark.

Back on the car's right side, I see the relay box right where it's supposed to be, and take out a wrench to remove the two bolts. 3/8" is too small... aaaand 1/2" is too big. (Problem #13). I don't have an adjustible wrench. Or metric sizes. Sigh. I wonder if I can get it off with a pair of pliers? Nope, I can't. Well, alright, I didn't really think it would work. On closer inspection, I see that the bolts are also rusted closed anyway (Problem #14).

That's enough for one day, so I quit and shut the hood of the car. The next day, Ash got his trusty can of WD40 and his own set of wrenches. He gave each bolt a little squirt of miracle juice, and then located the proper size wrench for the job. I stood at the ready with the new light bulb, and he gave the first bolt a twist-- and the head of the bolt snapped right off.

That was my breaking point. I called my mechanic and explained to him what had happened. He asked me to drive right over if I could-- and given that I can't drive the car at night until I fix the headlights, I definitly could. When I got there, he popped the hood, took a quick look, and pulled out his own tools. In the space of maybe 5 or 6 minutes, he pulled off the second bolt, knocked out the broken piece, removed the old light, and installed the new one. Then he said "Have a nice day!" I asked him what I owed for his help and he rolled his eyes. "Nothing at all. Have a nice day!"

That was mighty, mighty nice of him. He performed a service, and I was perfectly happy to pay for it, but he didn't charge me because, I guess, it seemed like a neighborly thing to do for a customer. And because he's a nice guy and a good mechanic.

If any of you in Our Fair City are ever looking to take your cars for work, let me know and I will be happy to give you this guy's number. He's phenomenal and I heart him-- and more importantly, I trust him.

Smart Aleck

One of the Yahoo! News top stories right now is Bush Wants Newcomers to Learn English, and every time I see it, my internal voice says "People in Hell want ice water".


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Far More Than The Daily Allowance of Irony

I've been hired on a temporary, part time basis as a research assistant in the law library and I had to go in and fill out all the paperwork to be placed on payroll. There was the usual W4 and I9, plus a University form for demographic information. The university form annoyed me because it required you to choose from limited lists of possibilities for each answer, and under "Race", it listed "White", "African-American", "Asian", "Native American" and "Hispanic". Nothing for those from the Middle East, nothing for those who are of mixed heritage, very rigid and out of date concept of race.

What really took the cake, however, was the I9. For those who don't know, the I9 is the form you fill out that proves you have the right to accept work. You have to present some sort of documentation along with it, proving that you are who you say you are and have the status you claim to have. There are two sets of documents. Those documents in Group A are sufficient on their own-- for example, your U.S. passport proves that you are a U.S. citizen and also has your picture in it, so it's good enough. The documents in Group B require two different documents to be presented-- for example, your Social Security card and your driver's license. One proves you have the right to work and one proves you are who you claim you are. At the top of the form in big, bold letters, it says:

Employers CANNOT specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee.

Now, I should have been prepared, really, but to be honest, I'd totally forgotten about the I9. so I didn't bring my documents with me.The secretary processing my forms asked me for my school ID and my Social Security card. Now, I don't carry my Social Security card and I wasn't entirely certain that I knew exactly where it is, so I asked if I could just bring my passport instead. The secretary very kindly said no, the University requires your ID and your Social Security card and won't accept any other documents.

I gaped at her for a moment and started to say "But it says right on the form..." and she gave me a funny little half smile that told me she was perfectly aware of how stupid this was, but also perfectly powerless to do anything about it, and said "Yes. I know."


Monday, May 15, 2006

Bar Review, Day 1

Taken from my notes*:

"A student said to me over the break, 'I don't know the difference between burglary and larceny'. That's just sad." Hey! Way to insult the audience! And if we're all supposed to know everything already, why should we pay your company almost $1,000 for this course?

What is the difference between "willful blindness" and "deliberately refrained from looking"? The lecturer claims the latter is an exception to the former. That doesn't make any sense...

"I used to be a D.A. and I do a lot of defense work in D.C., so I know all of these defendants are guilty." Exactly the kind of man I'd want in my corner if I'm charged with a crime. Innocent until proven guilty, indeed.

"Self defense is a good defense for her. It's not a good defense for the hit man she hired." Yes, I get that. The problem is, none of the answers speaks to that fact.

"I'm not justifying the $795 you spent to be here." No, no you certainly aren't.

"Cliff Claven would do very good on the bar exam." Leaving aside the strangeness of that comment, apparently grammar is not your strong suit. "This kid in the review course I taught at Law School X pointed out where I'd spelled words wrong." Hmmm... You mean like the second word you wrote on the whiteboard today? Copying it from your pre-written notes? Guess spelling's not your thing either. (Note to self: Make sure to spell check this entry. Mustn't be hoisted on your own petard.

"Unreasonable mistake is a defense to specific intent crimes, so I can stand up and throw any kind of bullshit I can think of at the jury as long as I can say it with a straight face." Dude, they have these things called "Professional Responsibility Statutes". It seems like knowingly lying to the jury might, just might be on the wrong side of those statutes.

"That woman, who like, killed nine of her kids? What other defense could she offer? And now they let her off on a technicality, so we have to listen to her defense all over again." 1. If you're going to use a case "ripped from the headlines" to illustrate your point, try to get the basic facts straight. 2. Technicalities are also known as "protections built into the system to make sure innocent people don't get wrongly convicted." 3. She didn't "get off". That would mean an acquittal. They ordered a new trial for her so that the prosecution could have a chance to try and follow the rules. 4. Yeah, you know, that whole "right to a fair trial" thing is a bitch, isn't it? I mean, since all the defendants are guilty anyway, we should save a lot of time, money, and effort and just lock them up straight away.

"Monk would do great on the bar exam." What, do you watch TV at night and try to guess which characters would be admitted to the bar? Don't you have a life or any interests outside the law?

[The lecturer spent a lot of time advising us to compartmentalize our thinking when taking the MBE. He uses the phrase "Make sure you know what hat you're wearing" to describe it.] "If you don't know the Rule Against Perpetuities by July 15, that makes two of us." That statement may actually be the definition of "non sequitur". Plus, hello! Take your own advice!

"You're not going to be tested on first degree murder." Really? Promise? What will you give me if I am?

"I've got a roster with all of your names and addresses on it, and I will come and get you if you get this wrong." [Cornholio] Are you threatening me? [/Cornholio]

Are you killing the woman in this hypothetical because she didn't have your dinner on the table or because she's sleeping with the neighbor? Because to be honest, you sound more upset about the dinner part.

"For Involuntary Manslaughter, you get a nickel. Five years. I could do that on my head." No, you couldn't. In fact, I don't think you'd make it five days in a maximum security prison before you'd be crying for your mama. That attitude is one of the things that is really, really wrong with a lot of prosecutors: you have no idea what the sentences you're advocating really mean.

"I had the crime scene boys reconstruct a 54 pound boulder for me, which I picked up and dropped on the table over and over in front of the jury." Yeah, right, I'll bet you did. If you're going to lie, why make it about something so obviously false?

"The Model Penal Code will be tested twice, tops, on the bar exam." Oooo! Double or nothing this time?

Why on earth is throwing a baseball off a fourth story balcony "depraved heart murder", but pushing a nine year old into a swimming pool only "negligent homicide"? The second one seems far worse to me.

"That's crazy! A woman can't rape another woman!" YES. SHE. CAN. What is wrong with you???

"You need to check your common sense and emotions at the door when you take the bar exam." There's something very, very wrong about that sentiment. I mean, really: do we want to produce lawyers that can't or don't employ common sense in their practice of the law?

"You can't stop to feel good, bad, or indifferent about these questions." Ummmm... didn't you just specifically instruct us to be indifferent to the questions? And if you don't feel good about something, and you don't feel bad about it, either, doesn't that BY DEFINITION make you indifferent?

[Homer] Mmmmmm... murder cake [/Homer]

"Does it matter that they didn't intend to batterize that woman?" Batterize? Is that the technical term for that?

"I don't care if he's ten years old, I'll try him as an adult." Great attitude! Just the kind of person I want prosecuting crimes! Doesn't use common sense, thinks that same sex rape isn't possible, and finds it perfectly appropriate to prosecute children in adult court for felonies.

This one's for the Section A1 Alumni out there: "Blake sells the cop a bag of something, not cocaine, but--" Schmocaine?

"Am I going to show the cop my dime bag? Say 'That's my accomplice'?" Your dime bag is your accomplice? Dude, you should totally cut back.

Answer A is flat out wrong, Answer B is applicable to civil cases but not to criminal cases, Answer C deals with issue preclusion only, therefore Answer D, being the least crappy answer, is also the right answer. I am so ready to take the bar exam.

*All quotes are from the lecturer


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Repetitious Redundancy

It's NPR Pledge Drive time here in town, and the announcer begged the listeners to "help us get the full entirety of this challenge grant!", and I tried not to giggle because it must be difficult to come up with patter for these stupid pledge drives, but it was pretty funny anyway.

True Love in Action

Monday, May 7, 2006:
Katze: You know, one of the great joys of being an adult is that no one makes me eat my pizza crusts. I hate pizza crusts.

Ash: [snatches pizza crust from Katze's plate] I love pizza crusts.

Katze: It's a match made in Heaven!

Friday, May 12, 2006:

Ash: [Having finished his own lunch, reaches over and grabs the large chunk of cheese and pepperoni that has fallen off of Katze's slice of pizza and pops it into his mouth]

Katze: Hey!

Ash: [grins, very pleased with himself]

Katze: That's my lunch!

Ash: Anything that's yours is mine!

Katze: Remember how I told you about not liking pizza crusts?

Ash: Yeah...

Katze: Well, you've just turned my entire slice of pizza into a big soggy piece of crust!

Ash: [snickering] Yeah!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Law School Wrap Up, Part I

Courses Under My Legal Belt
Legal Process (known in every normal law school as "Civil Procedure I)
Criminal Law
Legal Research and Writing
Criminal Procedure
Constitutional Law
Civil Procedure (known in every normal law school as "Civil Procedure II")
Comparative Legal Cultures
Conflicts of Law
Adoption Law
Federal Income Tax
International Law
Copyright Law
Trademark Law
European Union Law
Family Law
International Dispute Resolution
Business Organizations
Immigration Law
Mental Health Law
Commercial Transactions
Spanish for Lawyers I
Spanish for Lawyers II
Estates and Trusts
Legal Profession (aka Ethics)
Education Law
Elder Law
Legal Research Practicum (or something like that: basically I worked as an unpaid research assistant and got credit for it.)
Swedish 5
Swedish 6

By The Numbers

Number of courses in which I got a grade that wasn't a B: between 11 and 15, depending on how this semester's exams turn out.

Number of courses for which I received zero credits toward my J.D.: 2

Weeks of classes: 90

Weeks of exams: 12

Total weeks of class missed due to pneumonia: 3.5

Total weeks I attended classes while battling pneumonia: 3

Number of pieces that have broken on my laptop (including little doors, keys, and any "dings"): 84,505

Number of times I've had to replace the AC Adapter due to a defect in the manufacture that Sony refuses to acknowledge: 3

Minutes that my laptop battery currently holds a charge: between 15 and 25

Time spent working on write-on competition for law review: 10 minutes, tops.

Time spent regretting not participating: 2 seconds, tops.

Value of free samples obtained from Student Health Clinic for treatment and prevention of various things: approximately $700, or about three times what I paid in student health fees.

Value of free food scrounged from various law school events: approximately not nearly as much as I paid in overpriced tuition.

Times I moved (including the original move to Our Fair City): 3

Number of times I had a breakdown of some sort over exams: 1. The damned Rule Against Perpetuities just would not go in my head, no matter how many times I reviewed or how many practice problems I did. Of course, maybe it was because I just didn't have the right professor for it.


Friday, May 05, 2006

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

Ash's new apartment is close to a railroad track. The trains go by sporadically throughout the day, but they aren't really disruptive for the most part. My apartment is about a block further back from the same tracks, so I've long since gotten used to the sound and don't really notice it for the most part. There is one particular train that comes through at 10:43 p.m. that is particularly loud-- I often notice it, and know without looking at the clock that it's almost 11 p.m. and time to get ready for bed-- but mostly they form an innocuous background, no more noticeable than the sound of cars on the road. There's always a couple of days when I start sleeping with the windows open where the noise is more obvious to me, but I adjust quickly and stop hearing the trains again.

It's mostly the same at Ash's place. The trains are sort of soothing, like the sound of a familiar clock. There's surprisingly little increase in the decibel level between his place and mine. But the train that just went past actually startled me a little. I could feel the floor of the dining room vibrating under my feet and hear the window rattle ever so slightly. I wonder why that train was so much louder?

Don't Be a Weenie

Start here. Then read this. If this blog wasn't already dedicated to whining about law school and telling pointless stories for my own amusement, I would totally copy this guy. I've bemoaned the fact that cars don't come with bullhorns as standard equipment for years now. ("Hey, you! Yeah, you in the blue Accord. Turn signals are standard in all vehicles. Yours are probably located on a long black stick attached to the steering wheel." "Yo! You in the red Corvette! Try actually stopping for the stop sign. And that combover isn't fooling anyone, brah."

Until those actually start showing up as standard equipment, this is a great substitute!


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Membership Card for the AARP Will Be Here Any Day Now

The Lifestyles section of the Sunday paper contained a series of articles on Prom, including a list of the Top Ten Prom Songs. I only recognized two of the ten: Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, and This I Promise You, by NSync. In fact, I didn't even recognize the names of most of the artists. It would appear that I have officially gotten off the popular music train.

For the Love Of...

I don't know which part of today's exam was my favorite:
  • The part where the professor wrote in the instructions of the exam "There are two questions, each weighted equally", but then when you turned to question #2, it turned out to consist of six different parts, each addressing a distinct issue and requiring its own separate answer. I don't know where this professor took math, but in my book, that's a total of seven questions, not two.
  • THe part where, one hour and twenty-odd minutes into the three hour exam, my computer suddenly and with no warning whatsoever died. The screen went blank. I checked the plug and lo and behold, the outlet at my seat had just stopped working at some point after I started the exam. Luckily, no one was sitting in the seat directly behind me, so I plugged in there and pushed the power button, which is how you come out of hibernate mode. If the battery runs out, the laptop is supposed to go into hibernate mode until you get some juice to run it on and turn it back on. However, instead of simply restarting, it started to reboot.
I nearly puked.

Was my exam lost? Would I be able to reopen it? What the heck just happened, anyway? Then I found that the exam software wouldn't let my computer complete the rebooting process. I felt the jaws of panic closing in on me. I looked wildly around for the proctor, in hopes that they had some magic cure, but there was no proctor in the room.* I didn't really know what to do at that point, but there was no time to dither about, so I tore upstairs to the Registrar's Office, waited impatiently behind two other students turning in take home exams, then dumped my tale of woe on the Nice Registrar Lady, who in turn called one of the lazy tech guys from upstairs. She sent me back to the room with some Kleenex and a quick pat on the arm, and the assurance that the tech guy would be right down.

I waited in the hallway just outside the door to the room, not wanting to unnecessarily disturb the other students taking the exam. It seemed most considerate to tell the tech guy my story outside the room. And I waited and waited, and started to wonder if he was coming at all, or if he had decided to step outside for a smoke (since, as far as the students can tell, that's how they spend at least four hours every day)-- in fact, I decided to step over to the windows to see if they were, in fact, smoking (for once, they weren't). Finally, finally he showed up and did some sort of mumbo jumbo that I couldn't see because I was busy trying to find my train of thought again, and then he turned my laptop back around and my exam was there OH JOYOUS DAY. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of relief I felt at the sight of my work, still there! still intact!

I lost about fifteen minutes to this crap, plus the time that it took me to calm back down and get my train of thought-- thouroughly derailed by panic-- back on the right track, and I could have really used the time to answer the seven questions posed, but what can you do?

Really though, I'm not too worried; to be perfectly honest, I didn't spend much time studying for this exam at all. My motivation isn't as high as it used to be. As several of us 3Ls have grown fond of chanting: D stands for Diploma!

*Damn, I guess I missed my chance to cheat my way to an A. Oh, wait: it was open book. Guess cheating wasn't really an option anyway.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Now I Know My ABCs...

Accent: Slight Midwestern twang? I've had people comment on how I pronounce "o" before, and I do use the word "y'all" on a regular basis.

Booze: Yes, please! I like me some dry, dry red wine, single malt scotch, B&B, and Belgian beers (pass the Corsendonk!). I hate cheap American beers, and [whispers]I'm not a real fan of German beers, either.*

Chore I Hate: Doing the dishes. I'd rather scrub the toilet than wash dishes. I dream of the day when I finally live somewhere with a dishwasher.

Dog or Cat: Cat.

Essential Electronics: Laptop. I don't even want to send it out for the minor repairs it needs because I love it and cannot live without it.

Favorite Cologne: Red Door. I've worn it since high school, though I wear other things sometimes, too. I used to have a bottle of Jil Sander No.5 and I would love to get my hands on a bottle of it again.

Gold or Silver: White gold, thank you. Or (if I ever, you know, make some money) platinum. Which means: silver. Because it's all I can afford.

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio.

Insomnia: Occasionally. I can usually cure it by moving to a different location to sleep, like the couch. Sometimes I just move so that I'm horiztontal across the bed instead of vertical and that does the trick. Reading (even something deadly dull, like Federal Income Taxation) or getting up to do something else just makes me more awake.

Job Title: This week: Law student. Next week: Unemployed law school graduate.

Kids: None. But I like 'em. Well, some of them. Not the one in Target yesterday, though.

Living Arrangements: My very own 1BR, 1Ba, with a fake FP and Hwd Flrs.

Most Admirable Traits: I will do anything for the people I love.

Number of States Lived In: 4.

Overnight Hospital Stays: Surprisingly, no. Though, technically I've spent the night in the ER a couple of times, I've never been admitted as an inpatient.
Edit: I've been reminded that I spent the first six weeks of my life in the hospital because I was born at 30 weeks. Having no conscious memory of that time, I tend to forget about it.

Phobias: Spiders and needles. The kind you get a vaccination with, not the kind you mend your socks with.

Quote: "I'm just sayin'..."

Religion: I believe in God and in the general precepts of Christianity, but I have a major problem with organized religion.

Siblings: A younger sister who I never get along with, even though we're both adults now. That makes me very sad. I'm really quite jealous of my girlfriends who've become friends with their sisters over the years.

Time I Wake Up: Around 7 a.m. or so on days I have class and by 9 a.m. or so on days when I've got other crap to get done. Usually before 11 on days that I don't. I am usually very cranky when I first get up, too. Sooo not a morning person!

Unusual Talent or Skill: Speaking Swedish? I don't know, really. I can cook very well, but that's not an unusual talent. I'm a pretty good knitter, but that's not unusual anymore. I am the Queen of Parallel Parking. Come to think of it, if the streets around here are anything to go by, that's a very unusual skill.

Vegetable I Love: White asparagus. I love almost all vegetables, except brussels sprouts and carrots. Brussels sprouts I really dislike. Carrots I'm just not particularly fond of-- raw are better than cooked, but I'd choose other veggies if I had my druthers.

Worst Habit: Procrastination. I am the worst procrastinator in the world.

X-Rays: Every part of my body has been x-rayed at some point, though not recently. I think my last x-rays were of my teeth, and they were made at the dentist back in 2002.

Yummy Foods I Make: Poppyseed cake, chicken curry, lasagna, mashed leeks, lamb with a red current glaze, Semmelknödel (though it's difficult to get the right kind of bread here in the U.S.), Jägerschnitzel, stuffed mushrooms, baked brie... I love to cook and I think I do it pretty well.

Zodiac Sign: Picses.

*They are never going to let me back in the country again.