Second Semester

Monday starts the new semester.  What in the world will school hold in store this semester?  I must confess, I feel some anxiety in starting again.  I feel comfortable with what happened last semester.  I have learned my lessons and just need to be diligent in implementing the changes.  Ultimately education is about time and review.  Making sure I incorporate that understanding into my studies should make me more successful.

Torts is a thing of the past, unless I decide to further that line in the 2nd and 3rd years.  Unfortunately, contracts starts again on Tuesday.  I don’t think it is so much the subject, as exciting as contracts sound, it is more the professor.  However, he looks past my idiosyncrasies, if he knows them.  Legal Writing and Analysis I really like but it is diminished to one less credit hour.  As much as I like it though, I feel it takes too much of a back seat with all the other classes.  I hope to rectify that this semester as well.  Hopefully I can deal with that appropriately too.

Civil Procedure is the old stand by.  I really enjoy Civil Procedure and the professor makes much of the experience.  I am really looking forward to more of it this semester.

This semester adds two new classes.  Property, which sounds dry anyhow, and everyone assures me it is.  The second is Criminal Procedure which sounds fascinating.  Now I have two dry classes, one that I really like but just consumes loads of time in writing, and the other two I am looking forward to.  Hopefully I can maintain optimism throughout the semester accordingly!

In other news, I have spent the week working on the bathroom.  I am happy to say I have replaced the floor, ripped out the divider wall, tore all the walls down to the studs, and have sheetrocked the entire bathroom.  The plumber came in and installed the shower and replaced the ventilation pipe behind the toilet.  I did not do this myself.  I am happy my good friends Brian Peters and Andrew Curtis came to help.  Some of it just cannot be done by yourself.  Some of it we worked through and we are learning more and more.  Tomorrow we start the mudding process in preparation for plastering.  Mudding and taping I have done before.  I have never plastered.  We have to plaster to make the walls match the two walls I did not replace.  Besides, who doesn’t like that textured look?  From what I have read online, plastering takes a day or two, so it won’t be finished this weekend.

After removing the divider wall, I have discovered this country does not have two sided tubs!!  I had them in two of my missionary flats and never considered they were not available in this country.  Geez!  I might end up building a pony wall at the end of the toilet.  However, due to space problems, I don’t like that option.  We will have to see.  I hope to have a functioning shower in place for when Don and Lolane Andra stay with us in February.  I think that is a good goal.  Even if there is not floor covering or painted walls by that time.

We also had an electrician come and look at the home.  To fix everything the inspection said needed to be done, we will be out about $2,500.  That will consolidate the two breaker panels, close all the junction boxes, get all the wire off the ground in the crawl space, find and remove the useless wires laying in the attic, and secure all wires throughout the home properly.  We have wires laying all over under the house and in the attic.  We don’t know which are hot, which are not, and where they go.  Plus they should be secured properly, not just laying around.  This $2,500 itself will increase the value of our home at least that.  We will get a return on that investment.  He also gave us an estimate for about another $1,000 for fixing plugs that don’t work, putting in switches where they should be, and miscellaneous items.

It was actually pretty humorous the night the electrician came.  The plumber was working in the bathroom.  The nurse was in the kitchen filling out paperwork for life insurance.  I was trying to coordinate everything.  Andrew had just left from helping and I was putting things away.  I ended up giving the plumber and electrician a tour of the attic for everything that needed to be fixed up there and Amanda was calling for me to have my blood drawn.  It was pretty hectic.

Anyhow, life continues on in the Ross household.  I have been pretty busy outside of school.  Oh, I pruned all the trees and keep building up the compost pile with leaves and flowerbed scraps.

The ward and missionaries have kept me busy.  We organized the ward mission over the past two weeks.  We secured permission from the Mission President for exchanges in the ward.  We organized the Elders and High Priests to go on the exchanges and who they would be meeting.  We organized the goals for the entire ward and how we are going to achieve them this week.  Additionally, we are jumping on the new member discussions for the new members who have been neglected in the past.  Hopefully we have the ball rolling in such a way that things will work since I will be MIA during the semester.  Hopefully everything I can take care of through e-mail.  Sunday will still be busy, especially since we will be meeting in a school for the entire year of 2009.

Time to sign off.  Amanda and I have renewed our goal for the year for reading the scriptures.  We decided to start with the Doctrine and Covenants to be on for Sunday School.  When we finish D&C we will start the Book of Mormon.  Ultimately on that schedule of one chapter a day, we have about 20 chapters left over at the end of the year.  We will have to read two chapters a day for the last 10 days of the year and we will complete the goal proper.

2008 in Review

This morning while everyone sleeps, I thought I would give a quick year in review.  Wow, what a year.  Probably the best year of my life.  I hope I can continue to say that every year!

One year ago, it was the first day of being laid off in my life.  Good ole Bank of America laid off the entire Wholesale Division.  My life as a underwriter came to an end as the mortgage industry was obviously in signs of trouble.  I decided to leave the entire industry.  Boy, am I glad I did!  1 January 2008 brought a month of trying, scrambling to find out what to do.  I had severance for a year and my job working professionally as a genealogist.  That carried us through.  I have been doing genealogy for the same family over the Christmas Break to supplement our income.  That is certainly a great blessing.  I know it is a blessing to their family and those who have gone on before as well.  I have probably added more than 2 or 3 generations on each of their family lines.

The first week or two of January I received an offer for employment in Pasco, Washington covering the states of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming for Inlande Environmental Resources.  I would be making more than 10K more, have my own vehicle, card, and a whole lot more.  The only downside is I would be in Idaho most of the time while Amanda would remain in Virginia to finish her education.  We decided it was a great offer, much better than our options in Virginia, and could help open doors for the future.  The end of January, Brad Hales flew out, and we made a cross country trek in my pickup.  Brad has always been a very generous, kind friend.  Who would have thought a mission to England would have such long lasting repercussions?

February through June found me working for IER working with existing customers and making new sales.  The only big contract I found was with J.B. Swift in Hyrum, Utah.  It was 2 or 3 truckloads a month at present.  They were having so many problems with Thatcher Chemical that it was a fairly easy sell.  Honestly, I was just at the right place at the right time.  I really don’t think I personally did anything that really made the sale but it made me a favorite with the bosses.  We opened quite a few doors.  The big thing I enjoyed was the travel.  Salem, Portland, The Dalles, Weston, Pendleton, Gresham, and more in Oregon.  Toppenish, Yakima, Zillah, Sunnyside, Grandview, Pasco, Kennewick, Wenatchee, and Colfax Washington.  Wenatchee was another example of just being in the right place at the right time.  We were solving a foaming problem with apple concentrate waste.  We just had the right chemical but became known as the defoaming expert!  I also traveled all over Utah, Vernal being the most exotic visit.  I sure enjoyed Inlande Environmental.  They were really good to me and I enjoyed working for them.

May rolled around and I decided to accept an opening at Oklahoma City University for Law School.  I announced it to my bosses and they were more than accepting.  They knew when they interviewed me for the job I was seriously considering law school.  They were so good to me!  In fact, they let me keep my salary through to August while Amanda and I took our trip to Europe and here to Oklahoma City.  Amanda also graduated in May.  Amanda’s parents and I flew out for the big occasion.  We sure had quite a bit of fun!  During the time there we packed everything to move all our stuff to Oklahoma City.  We did a little sight-seeing as well.  Monticello was probably my favorite place to visit and I was fortunate everyone else wanted to go as well.  In the end, I flew back to work in Idaho and Amanda with the in-laws drove to Oklahoma City in a moving truck, and from there to Kaysville in the car.

A big first for the year.  We purchased our first home!  A quaint little 30’s home near 23rd Street NW in Oklahoma City.  A wonderful little home with plenty of things to keep me busy but still liveable.

June rolled around and then Amanda and I went on our very expensive weight loss program.  I can boast losing about 20 pounds running around Europe.  We spent six weeks in Europe.  Many, many firsts for both of us.  We visited friends in Belgium and they were very kind to treat us.  Primarily, it was perfect for getting over jet lag!  We then went crazy in traveling for the next 6 weeks.  About 4 days in Belgium.  We attended a Stake Conference in Antwerp and attended dedicatory prayers in Dutch.  That prepared us for Brugge, and where we spent our next few days in Amsterdam.  We saw the sights and even made a trip to Den Haag.  Off we shot across The Netherlands, across Germany to Berlin, and down to an ancestral home in Dresden.  I still think Dresden was probably my favorite place.  Even better than Vianden or the rest of Luxembourg.  Dresden is also near to Meissen which was another ancestral home.  I would love to spend a week in Dresden.  We shot across Germany through Leipzig down to Augsburg.  There we were based to hit Munchen, Dachau, and Fussen for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.  Then we headed off to visit Stuttgart with Neuffen and Holzgerlingen (ancestral towns) before heading to Salzburg.  Salzburg was definitely another favorite.  Gorgeous town.  Then off to sweltering Venice via Innsbruck.  There we spent time in a very different culture and climate in a city on the water with no water to drink!  After Venice, up through Padua to Zurich and down to Bern.  Bern was definitely another favorite.  I really wish we could have spent some good quality time there.  Then off through Lausanne and Geneva for a few wonderful, long, unorganized days in Paris.  If there was ever a point Amanda and I were getting tired it was in Paris.  More with each other than with the city.  But we really enjoyed Paris nevertheless.  If we had been stuck in Amsterdam during this time, we may have been in marital breakdown, but Paris made it bearable.  After Paris, we headed back to Belgium for a day or two before flying off to Prestwick, Scotland.

We then were in a car for the next 3 weeks!  That day we made our way through Glasgow before ending in Edinburgh for some wonderful times there.  We really liked that city.  I could certainly feel we were back in the United Kingdom.  There is a flavor in the air that reeks of Britain.  From there we worked our way down through Manchester, Liverpool, Northern Wales, Birmingham, Bath, Dorset, and finally to London.  In the UK we spent two weeks of it in the old stomping grounds of the England Manchester Mission.  We visited loads of people I knew and tried to balance that with seeing the sites for Amanda.  I think we did a good job.  We also caught up with some long time friends, the Gores and the Byroms.  We also met up with my old missionary companion Elder Gheorghe Simion and his wife who now live in Liverpool.  After the mission we visited ancestral homes near Birmingham, even stumbling on a cemetery in Halesowen with plenty of ‘my’ Coley line.  It was fun.  Bath was quite a bit of fun crashing that night with a cousin in Milton Abbas, a gorgous little Dorset town.  They treated us very, very well.  Then off to London crashing with the Jeppesen’s in Weybridge.  We spent our remaining time with them in their posh house until we flew out.  All in all, we loved our entire trip.  Paris could have used a bit more planning, but the trip as a whole was utterly marvelous.  We feel very, very blessed to have been able to take the trip.

We landed in Utah and the gears started grinding in different ways.  I tried to make sure everything was a successful transition for IER and we headed out for Oklahoma City.  We arrived here the very last week of July.  Before August had arrived we had moved all our possessions into the home and started setting up for the next few years.  I went to work on the yard, Amanda went to work on the inside.  We came to know our ward, get lined up for school, Amanda a dental hygiene license, and job.  Everything fell into place within a month.  I was rolling with law school and Amanda had a job blocks from home.

The rest of the year was fairly uneventful.  I sat trying to recoup some of my weight lost in Europe (I have been unsuccessful, not that I really want it back) in the law school library.  I picked up squash here again.  Amanda works her days away.  I am slowly remodeling a bathroom with all that extra time.  Amanda took up sewing our Halloween costumes and organizing Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then the year was over!

All in all, what a year!  I feel highly blessed of heaven.  Who could ask for anything more?  We have started paying off student loans for Amanda.  We are also paying for some work done on the house and what little remains of our trip to Europe.  We paid off the washer and dryer, now the refrigerator next.  Then we can start socking it away for retirement (since our retirement took quite a hit in October and since!).  Plus there will be plenty more to do to the house if we should really want to invest.  But all in all, God has been very good to us.  May he continue to light our paths and may we continue to do what is needed to bring down the extra blessings!  I am looking forward to 2009, although I think it will be much less eventful than 2008.  But hey, who knows?

Season’s Greetings

A few notes on the life of the Ross Family in preparation for Christmas 2008.

All the presents are wrapped and to be found under the tree.  The presents have been there for a couple of weeks so we have avoided the last minute panic.  Well, almost.  Amanda has a present she ordered for me several weeks which has to arrive.  But that is ultimately out of our hands.  We are ready and awaiting for Christmas morning to dawn.

Christmas should be interesting.  We have invited over the missionaries, Elder Martin from Bountiful and Elder Clark from Spring City, for Christmas lunch.  Ultimately it is for the use of our mobile phones.  They both have about an hour in which to speak and with two cell phones, they can both make their calls at the same time.  We don’t mind, we have racked up over 1000 rollover minutes.

We have the Institute missionary couple over for dinner on Sunday.  Elder and Sister Twiss are from St. George.  They will be joining us for dinner.  I invited them.  Neither Amanda and I remembered we already had Elder Martin and Elder Clark for dinner that same day.  Now we will have 4 full time missionaries at our dinner on Sunday!  We need the blessings.  We have determined to feed them curry, rice, and pompadoms.  Amanda is going to make some Naan Bread as well and I will make an English Trifle.  Should be fun!  To add to it all, Amanda and I have both been asked to speak in Sacrament on Sunday.  It is going to be a full day!  We are both speaking on goals.  We have known about this for more than two months.  I am going to dedicate the week to writing that talk and working on family history for my kind patron.  I hope to put in a good 40 hours over the next few weeks.  Hopefully that will pay for next semester’s law books and some other bills.

We took our beloved Rhonda in today.  For those who are not aware, that is the name of our little Camry.  Not long after I purchased her, somebody asked what her name was.  I stated I did not know.  The classic Beach Boys Song, Help me Rhonda, came on right after that.  Since I have a long history with the song, I thought it would be perfect.  Anyhow, we took her in for an oil change this morning.  She has been making some strange noise on the passenger side of the car in the rear wheel and some in the front wheel.  I was hoping it would be a small, easy job.  But alas, my fears were realized.  Both shock absorbers on that side of the car have started leaking.  Upon further inspection, all four shock absorbers need replaced.  Seeing how they are all inside MacPherson Struts, that puts at about $1600 to replace all four!  The one is leaking bad enough they suggested replacement within the next 6 months.  To add to that, they were kind enough to point out where one of my engine mounts have cracked.  Well, I have another $400 in replacing my engine mounts to look forward to.  I can break the forward and rear struts into two visits.  The engine mounts will probably last me another 9 months, they will have to.  It is still cheaper than purchasing a new car.  Additionally, the engine and body are in great shape.  Hopefully we can still get another 150,000-250,000 miles out of her.  I sure hope so!

Some more news on our little abode.  The weather has turned particularly cold the past week.  Our poor little furnace just can’t seem to keep up with it.  Amanda and I have accepted we will probably have little communication from our feet in the upcoming months.  The floors just don’t seem to want to stay warm.  I will look forward to insulating the attic and hopefully the walls this summer.  It will surely help with air conditioning as well.  Our poor air conditioning unit on the warmest days struggled to keep the house below 80.  We normally set the air conditioning at 75.  Some days it got as warm as 83 in the house.  It just couldn’t keep up.  We have the heat set at 72 but our feet don’t really gain their feeling back as it seems the lower portions of each room never warm.

On a good note, I ripped out much of the lathe, plaster, and sheetrock from two walls of the main bathroom this past week.  Now we are ready to start looking at installing the new sheetrock.  I still need to pull off the top layer of rotten wood on the floor.  We have a company coming tomorrow to give us an estimate on installing the new tub and gear with it.  I am looking forward to it.  Their ideas and products will determine whether I pull out the dividing wall of the bathroom.  Hopefully we can pull out the wall to really open up the room.  It just depends if we can get a product to enclose the shower/tub without requiring a wall.  Then I can determine whether I need to rip the rest of the sheetrock off that wall so we can do the whole thing at once.  (That remaining portion still has the lathe under the sheetrock so it would need to be pulled out to make it all level.)

The plumber came last week and finished most of the plumbing job.  We are going to wait until spring to replace the outside spigots and redo the gas line.  He will also come back to hook up our new bathtub and shower.  That job is mostly done.  I am glad.  What next?  We will see.  We have electrical work before we insulate.

A little update about finals and school.  I have never experienced anything quite like finals in my life.  As I have written previously, it was nothing like I had experienced.  The actual examinations, the three hours of finals, was really nothing new.  As I have written, it reminded quite a bit of some of my exams at Utah State.  However, the studying and understanding everything in such a way as to be able to explain it under a new set of facts and apply it to the situation was new.  Anyhow, I feel I have been successful.  Contracts was done and left me with no surprises.  I feel like I nailed the first question squarely on the head.  The rest I feel I did a good job on, but not excellent.  I expect I did at least average and can hope I at least made the C range.  I am hoping I made it into B or even possible A territory.  Torts came next.  Boy, that one was a bear!  Four hours of exam, three questions.  It just about killed me.  I had a headache and my left eye ached very badly after such intense attention for 4 hours.  My eye pain was enough I am considering going to the eye doctor for fear of eye fatigue.  But after the exam, I again felt I did well.  Nothing was new and I felt I did a good job of covering each of the issues and explaining the reasoning on the outcome I was predicting.  I am confident enough in Torts to hope I am comfortably in the B range.  Lastly, we have Civil Procedure.  This is the one that was so simple it is frightening.  Honestly, it didn’t seem very challenging.  If that is the case, if all excel on it, we all get C’s!  I have yet to hear of anyone who thinks it was not easy.  What is more, I analyzed the right method on the first question, but I took the wrong line of thinking with relation to how I got there.  I covered all the material but two sentences segue was wrong and I am hoping it doesn’t penalize me.  The same for another question, I made a comment as if the judgment was a default judgment.  I knew it wasn’t but that comment could hurt me.  Therefore, if the exam was that simple, my mistakes could put me in the C- range, or even D!  I surely hope not.  I feel like I really mastered the information, but my mistakes under pressure might be what cost me the points.  I can hope!  Too bad I cannot amend my final answer like you can a pleading in the real world.  Oh well, I am confident I am at least average and will not flunk out after my first semester.  There is still hope I can pull a B out of Legal Writing and Analysis.  I doubt I or anyone I am close friends with will pull an A in any of the classes.  Hopefully I will be surprised.  We made an agreement with some of us.  If anyone gets an A, we are going out for sushi.  If a B, then we will just go out to eat.

Anyhow, we are happy.  We were planning on going out to Idaho/Utah beginning in 2009.  However, with costs, time away from potential work, and now needed car work, I doubt we will make it.  I would like to finish as much of the bathroom before school starts again as I can.  Plus, there is always other things to work on.  Plus I can do family history to make sure some money continues to come in while Amanda is off work.

Time to sign off.  We will see what this coming week holds for us.

Contracts down, Next?

Just a few lines in my time down before crashing for the night.

What a couple of weeks!  I have been spending 12 hours a day at the law school.  Amanda drops me off at 7:30 or 8 depending on the day.  She picks me up at 8 or I get a ride home.  They are long days and I really feel more mentally exhausted than anything else.  However, things seem to be falling together very nicely.

Yesterday we had our first final.  Contracts was one I initially feared a month ago.  After working out the outline and spending an inordinate amount of time in memorizing, reviewing, and studying it worked out.  It is quite the chore to make sure you are fully familiar and understand all the material for the past three months.  It is a challenge of pure endurance.  I could have done much more to prepare during the semester which I am sure many of us will do from now on.  I am happy to announce I felt prepared for the exam.

The Contracts examination arrived yesterday morning.  A quick review of the outline, cases, and restatements before class and the race was one.  It was supposed to start at 9 but of course it goes one room at a time.  We finally started at 9:47.  The exam started, I read the first question, and I felt like I was ready to go.  Interestingly, it reminded a great deal of Anthony Peacock’s Constitutional Law classes at Utah State University.  His tests are essay and we are expected to discuss the question at hand.  I know where he picked up the exam style.  It was one of only a handful of classes that tested us in such a way.  I was very comfortable with the format.  Except this was 3 hours long and covered the whole semester.  Peacock’s were only the last month or amount of info covered from the last exam.

The first question was 90 minutes in length.  It was a duress question.  I feel like I nailed it right on the head.  Everyone I visited with in my group feels like we nailed it on the head.  Hopefully the whole class didn’t nail it on the head because then I am right back to being average.  Either way, as long as I stay above a C- I can pass the class.  I can hope I am not average but will be happy with the results if I am.  The question was actually a bit of fun.  I covered the set-up lines pretty quickly and jumped right into all the nuances of governing law, duress, the restatements, and on through the implications approaching unconscionability.  When the time ran out, I felt like I had a well written examination answer.

Then the next question rolled around.  It was quintessentially a UCC Statute of Frauds question.  While I know now I confused some of the language initially, I hope I made it clear what I meant as I explained the rest of the answer.  I feel like I hit the issues and covered the topics even though it was not as well as I would have liked.  I feel like I did a good cover of the question.  The others in my group feel about the same as I did which means I am still with the average bunch.  Okay in my book.  It was a 75 minute question.

Next found a 5 minute question on the Dean’s 7 C’s.  A bit of a trick question.  I knew he would ask but forgot to review it very well.  I explained the jist of the document but could not list all the 7.  Half of my buddies were successful in listing them all which puts me below average.  Hopefully it is weighted according to it’s minutes!

Lastly, a 40 minute multiple choice section.  7 multiple choice with answers that were all correct but only one that really fit if you understood the governing law.  For the most part I felt I did well but multiple choice can be funny.  It never quite works out how you think.  We will just have to wait and see.  But I can hope I did at least average!

Anyhow, we are deep in the trenches in quizzing each other about Torts.  We spent a good portion of the day hashing through the nuances between Assumption of Risk, Comparative Negligence, Contributory Negligence, and Negligence in general.  I am ready for sleep tonight.

My poor wife is a law-school widow in nearly every sense.  She has decorated and worked on the house nearly by herself.  The house is changing solely from her initiative.

I am still enjoying myself.  It is especially rewarding when at the end of the day I really feel like I understand a principle and can explain it to another.  I can come home and sleep.  Some of the hours are drudgery and I wish it was more productive but I am pretty thick.  Finally the break through comes though.

The past couple of weeks have added some more fun.  My computer decided to crash Thanksgiving Day.  In the meantime with all the studies I have reset up my computer.  New hard drive and reinstallation of all the programs.  Meaning, somebody else did most of the work while I studied without a computer.  Which was difficult since all my information was on the computer.  In good news, I did not lose the information on my hard drive.  It was all able to be successfully transferred over to my computer.  Now I just need to back it all up!

Well, time to sign off.  Life goes on in the very narrow world I live in.  I can say I played Squash after the Contracts Final.  Andrew Curtis and I ran away to play for an hour or two.  It was a great stress relief and exercise.  Back to the grind!

What Thanksgiving Break?

A quick update is in order.  A week off for Thanksgiving.  Well, not really.  We didn’t have any classes beyond Tuesday.  All day Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday were spent at the law library mostly wrapping up the Contracts Outline.  Those days really were not full days.  I took some sleep-in time until about 8 or 9 each day.  Arrived at school around 10 and then worked until about 5 or 5:30.

Contracts is really falling together for me which I am much relieved about.  I really need to alter my Torts Outline as I put too much emphasis on the cases.  I need to put more emphasis on the Restatements and rules.  It isn’t bad, but I think I am focused too much on case names.  Some ideas, like Duty and Causation are still fuzzy to me so I need to focus on them some more.  Civil Procedure has been sorely neglected.  Hmmm, when will I get to it?

Legal Writing & Analysis is done!  I handed in my Memo on Tuesday.  It was a relief to see it go.  I did the best I could.  I am sure I could have gone over it a few more times.  Alas, I would have gone crazy.  So it is best I could not.  I am content with my final version but apprehensive as to the myriad ways our dear professor may spill her ink.

We went in for Tithing Settlement today.  It was a good little meeting.  Sadly, I have been offered a calling.  I cannot disclose it yet as the congregation may still not sustain me.  It is a calling that could take as much time as I wanted to allow it.  I don’t know how well it will work with school.  I may have to confine it mostly to the weekends and coordination during the week.  Plus I have no clue how the calling really works since they completely altered the program in the past decade.  Here I thought I was doing a great job of finding the Lost Sheep and staying under the radar.  President Uchtdorf rings in my mind as I realize I was trying to avoid a calling.  Either way, it didn’t work.

Thanksgiving was great.  We did a little communal Thanksgiving Dinner with a number of law students from the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.  All of the food was tasty and filling.  Wonderful turkey, sweet and regular potatoes, and a whole heap more.  Very, very good.  I wish I had taken the time to get to know some of the other students more.  Hopefully there will be another chance.

It is definitely a good thing they are renovating the ward buildings here.  It has been a long time since my feet were so cold in Sacrament my feet were almost numb.  The Edmond Building where we had Thanksgiving Dinner was the same way!  We still don’t know where we will be meeting for church in 2009.  Looks like an elementary school is the best option at the moment.  I surely hope not.  I wish they could work something out with the Seventh Day Adventists (they don’t use their building on Sunday!!) or the Baptists down the street.  Either way, if we were diligent, it could turn into a brotherhood!

This will be a busy week.  Classes through Wednesday and then the final race for finals preparation begins.  I should mostly be missing in action from the 3rd-19th.  Good thing I secured all the Christmas presents for Amanda already.  I got her three.  Two are under the tree she already decorated.  The final should arrive at a friends house this week!

Just so all know, I do still squeeze in at least one Squash game a week!  I wish it was more but I cannot seem to justify the waste of time if feels like.  Who knew law school would so rule my life.  Amanda is a poor law widow consuming multiple books a week to fulfill her time and sorrows.

Lastly, a cousin paid a visit to Dad this past week.  His name is James Ross.  I don’t know where he is from yet.  Dad passed on James’ e-mail to me and I have been corresponding.  Interestingly, he has found the journal for my Great, Great Grandfather!!  Apparently it states exactly who his father is!  I have previously covered the topic of the elusive Meredith Clan in Western Virginia.  I was unable to nail down which James Meredith is my Great, Great, Great Grandfather.  Well, apparently Mr. James “Jim” Ross has found the journal somewhere.  I am looking for confirmation before I reveal the revelation.  It appears the census is wrong despite how incredible it seems from our culture today!

The Count Down

The count down is continuing.  I am not stressed.  I am not disorganized.  I keep marching the best I can.  What else can I do?

A little over three weeks and I have my first final in Contracts.  I feel like I have no confident grasp on the material.  At least in Torts and Civil Procedure I feel like I have an idea of what is going on.  Contracts leaves me frustrated and irritated.  Part of it is the professor who I feel is trying to dumb it down and in the process has made it so convoluted it isn’t making sense.  I learn more in reading outside material in Contracts than I do in class.  Unfortunately, the professor is the one grading my final and he is my audience.  I am performing for him and have to do it in a fashion acceptable to him.  Well, that isn’t entirely true.  I just have to do average on it to be safe.

I never considered myself above anyone else.  However, I have seen a couple come crashing to reality this week.  I do feel my pride pricked in a number of ways.  I received my first C on a test.  I did better in Calculus.  It didn’t hurt because I was not making it my major!  I actually received a C+ for whatever that is worth.  It was kind of the professor to remind me that C is average so I did slightly better than average.  My first memo squeaked in with a B-.  Fortunately I was not one of the 7 F grades out of about 25 or so students in the writing section.  There were a couple of A grades, but I have yet to put a face with those individuals.

All those years in educational theory.  They worked so hard to convince us our system had become watered down and grades did not mean what they used to.  Those policy wonks obviously never experienced law school.  The C grade certainly still stands for average here.

The 2L and 3L students are quick to remind us all final exams really should receive an F grade but the professors have to curve it up.  So the average F becomes a C.  I find it somewhat pleasing to know the grades actually mean what they are supposed to mean.  The harsh reality is I will have to work for that elusive A.  The sad thing, I am realizing that it may be unattainable.

The C+ was received on an examination that really doesn’t amount to much.  It was citation for crying out loud.  I cannot even score an A on a citation exam.  How encouraging is that three weeks out from finals?  The best part, all examinations are timed.  Just like the citation exam, it is nearly impossible to do a sufficient job if you understood the material.  It is like swimming in a swamp at nighttime trying to follow the moon.

The old saying that these are the times that try men’s souls.  I do not feel doubt or fear.  But more acutely than any point in my life I sense urgency.  The mission always brought the watch cry, “Do you feel the urgency of this work, Elder?”  Every moment I am less than diligent I feel like Walmart.  Rather than prices dropping, every second away from diligence in studying I see my grades dropping.

The Dean attempts to console us in reminding us that 90% of lawyers out there were not the top 10% in their class.  We all roll our eyes at the platitude remembering the bottom 10% probably never graduated law school.  Even more do not pass the bar exam.  Meaning, only about 70% of lawyers out there were not in the top 10% of their class.  While I am confident the rest are not pumping gas in Oregon, they nevertheless are not lawyering!

My final examination for Legal Writing & Analysis is due on Tuesday.  I must have spent nearly 40 hours so far in researching, writing, editing, and working on the paper.  The worst part?  I cannot show it to anyone!!!!  The grammar is all mine.  The sentence structure is all mine.  The word choices are all mine.  The tense, passive voice, adverbs, and all the rest are solely mine.  It is highly frustrating to know a class is based solely on my previous knowledge!!  I cannot get help or attempt help from a writing lab.  I cannot read a book on grammar, there is no time.  The document is of such a nature they don’t let me assign my name to it.  I have an examination number, supposedly to make it subjective for grading.  Meaning, that document cannot give any direct impression it belongs to me or I will lose all credit.  I have to be especially careful it conforms to my classmates and yet has to be above average.  How is that for a standard?  My professor especially warned me to not use any Britishisms.  The best part, I cannot show it to anyone to make sure I did not slip up on one single word which might disclose my identity.  My professor is British and she knows I lived there for several years.

Despite what others joke about an Idaho education, I feel very blessed.  For the most part my teachers taught grammar, sentence structure, and all the rest.  At least I have the background.  Damn them and me for not making more of an effort.  If I had paid attention then I would be less average than I am now!  How strangely I appreciate Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Suhr, Mrs. Workman for the lessons I remember then giving.  I am sure other teachers covered but their lessons were less memorable.  If only I had understood then how seriously it would be breaking me now.

August through December have been nothing but classes.  Each class has covered 100’s of pages of material.  We are to understand the rules, nuances, ideas, and law emanating from the combined 1000 pages of information.  I have to outline it, brief it, understand it, know it.  But when that examination comes I cannot just attempt to waste ink on 1000 pages of material.  The professors then give us a scenario and we have to analyze it, apply it, understand it, and predict it.  If I could regurgetate the entire 1000 pages in the combined 9 hours of testing, I would still fail.  I have to present it in such away around the facts the professor has given in a manner in which they approve.

This might as well be the military in some small way.  The old line they break you down before they break you up.  Only from what I hear they just keep breaking you down.

There is solace for me.  Thousands have walked the trail before and lived to tell the tale.  I am not walking this path alone.  I never have walked any path alone.  I never have been the first down any road.  I have never have been a pioneer, just followed in the tracks of those who went before.  The road is before me, shining in the sun.  Okay, I am exhausted and terribly thirsty.  I sure want to sit down and take a rest for a couple of weeks but that would be death.  That would literally kill my career and hopes for the future.  So I press on like weary saints who walked over 1,000 miles.  We all have our roads to walk, I am aware of mine at present.

As long as I continue at least average I will make it to the valley.  Just a few more weeks to walk.  Oh, and how exciting, I get to start the journey all over again in January!  Even better, I get to do it with even a heavier load!!

We watched Atonement this evening.  Boy am I glad I am not carrying stones like that.  How difficult to go throughout life with that on your shoulders.  I do not believe it is from a true story, but I am in a better situation than that.  Okay, back to the memo.

MTC anniversary

The 28th was the 10 year anniversary of when I was supposed to enter the MTC.  Time has certainly flown!  Who would ever have thought then I would be in law school 10 years later.  I wonder how many people even thought I would attend law school.  Who knows what they thought I was going to end up doing.  I was glad to be able to go on a mission.  The first eggnog of the season found its way into our refrigerator.  Boy does it bring back memories of may Christmas’ from long ago.  I know, we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet.  I guess the eggnog is just early.  I had a happy tummy for a day or two, regardless of the season.

One of my school buddies is looking at the home next door.  Wouldn’t that be great to have neighbors who I went to school with?  We could work on our homes together, we could have parties.  I could ride to school with Andrew and Amanda could sleep in for another hour.  She would be happy about that.  We will have to wait and see.  Since they probably cannot get into the home by themselves, we are taking about signing with them.  The great thing is the house is owned by a trust.  Both of the parents have died and the family really just wants to sell it, even for about 2/3rds of its value.  So we worked it out that in signing with them, they would share a portion of what they make on the house when they sell it in a couple of years.  All the more incentive for me to help when they are fixing it up!

Last night was the last of my classes.  I did not mind it was on Halloween.  I never cared much for the holiday.  Besides, what better way to remember the dead on Halloween than teaching a class on family history and new FamilySearch?  There was wonderful attendance all 4 classes.  I am relieved it is completed.  On that note, the temple work continues forward at a wonderful pace.  I received over 75 completed cards in the mail this week.

It has been a quick, but dragging week.  I have felt somewhat oppressed in soul.  Nothing I can attribute it to other than just weariness and exhaustion.  A good number nights of sleep have helped me recover.  However, I fear I will not completely recover from Contracts.  I really like Torts and Civil Procedure.  I could do with more understanding in Contracts and perhaps I would enjoy it more.  I started outlining it today.  We got about 1.5 chapters completed.  I got a headache by that point so we called it for the day.  I am not sure if it was Contracts or the salty pretzels.

We watched The Kite Runner last night.  I really enjoy shows like that where I get to see some insight into other cultures.  I enjoyed it.  The insight into Afghanistan and Pakistan were very interesting.  I would really like to learn that language and travel those nations.  A whole world to learn.

I finished Deuteronomy this week.  I enjoyed it.  The end reminds me much of a General Conference talk.

Here are a couple more of updates on stories about the family.  Here are some more stories I received about the family from two individuals.  Most of them are about my Grandparents, but I also included the one about an experience with the church.  I am so completely disappointed in those who did this.  This is not at all what the church teaches.

“[Colleen] loved dancing.  She taught me how to be a better follower.  [My husband] put an extra step in his 2 step, I would stumble every time.  When I watched her and [my husband] dance, it was always smooth.  She taught me how to relax and follow his lead.  I am sure that she had much pride watching you grow into a man.  Dancing with all the “old ladies.”  Can you imagine how special and young they felt to be dancing with you.  That is a very special thing you gave to them.”

“Once we moved to [a small town in Idaho], [my son] was old enough and began his religious education at our small mission church in town.  I was very involved with “taking care of my church.”  It was during this time that I met and interacted with “practicing” mormons.  People were not afraid to tell me that I was wrong.  Of course, everyone knew [my husband] was LDS.  The church rolls tracked every one and missionaries, relief society, and elders would stop by before I could finish unpacking.  I had some disagreeable things said to me.  Especially about how awful I was to cheat my son of a greater life.  I felt I was treated meanly by many.  At cub scout functions, no one wanted to sit near us.  Sometimes, we were even told the wrong times for things so we would be very late.  Every one would stop and stare, whisper.  I felt so bad.

“Our ward president’s wife had no difficulty telling me I was an awful mother, but that “scouting” could be for everyone.  Blah, blah, blah…  In order to survive I asked for permission to attend Seminary.  Which I attended at Soda Springs High School.  I had my mother find me out of print books in San Francisco.  I began to read everything I could.  Pro and Con.  I was asked to not return to seminary, it was because I asked too many questions.  I was disruptive to the education of the young people I was told. My father’s youngest sister converted to Mormonism.  She lives in Clearfield, I think.  I don’t have much contact due to the way she treats my father.  She and I had a relationship back then.  She is still very active in the church and assisted in my education.  She wanted me to convert.”

“Colleen had said something about being disappointed in the “church” in Preston.  That Grandma and Grandpa Andra had given land to the “church.”  That the trade-off (my word) was that they would be “taken care of” by the church.  Some one else will have to fill in these blanks.  Something to do with the church wanting the rest of their property.  She spoke harshly at this time and used the term “church” in general.  Not a specific Ward.  Sandy was very upset about the Temple marriage to Evan because she did not like him and the “celestial kingdom.”  Her family would never be together again.  She would yell at Grandma about this, they both yelled.  I really do not remember anyone in the family attending church at all.  [My husband] always welcomed the missionaries, he would have conversations at length.

It was not really a topic of discussion between Colleen and I.  She never openly criticized me or anyone regarding religion.  She did express regrets about her children and Norwood. I don’t remember her expressing regrets about herself.  I felt sometimes that lack of religion in the household was used as an excuse for the way things were.  An excuse for the choices made.  It seemed to always be in a negative reference.  I did find it interesting the times that the “church’ was brought up.  When a person did not want to assume responsibility for a choice made.  It was blamed on the “church.”

“I know that Norwood was always pretty mean to Colleen.  He scared me a lot, but I was pretty little.  I did hear my parents talking about how he did hurt your grandmother and they were not impressed.  I will talk to [my sister] and ask if she remembered more than me.  He was awful when he had been drinking, I did see that myself when we stayed at Colleen’s for a week.”

“[Doug and Linda's wedding reception] took place in the basement of the library in Richmond.  [Colleen] had made all the arraignments.  She did the decorations.  I remember the spiral staircase with the gifts displayed.  It was very nice.  I had met most of the family that was there at Norwood’s funeral.  [Doug] wore the Tux that his folks had bought him in High School.  I remember how handsome he looked.  We stayed at Sandy’s.  I think she was living on Main St in Logan. I just don’t remember the fine details.  For a Jonas gathering, you might say it was uneventful.”

“The initial call from the police came to [Colleen's, about your mother's wreck].  Colleen was not there.  I asked about you, the police said there was no baby.  I had seen you with her prior to her drinking.  Sandy was not above leaving you in the car when she would drink.  So the police began the search.  By the time [we] arrived at the wreck, they had found the dog, I think he was under the jeep.  It was dark, I remember the field, the tumbleweeds.  The shadows cast.  The jeep upside down.  Sandy was at the ER.  The baby carrier that she used had been found, but no Paul. I remember hearing someone say, if you were out there, you were dead.  The smell of the blackberry brandy all over the carrier, the inside of the jeep. (I am crying right now.  This is hurting my stomach a little.) Okay…  I remember [your Uncle Doug] yelling, “I’m going to kill her.”  Typical of the family, he rambled about every single thing she had done wrong in the past.  Making himself madder and madder. I was freezing, terrified, my stomach hurt so bad.  One of the deputies radioed and we were told that Colleen was at home and that you were with her.  [Doug] was so angry by the time we got to you.  He fought with his mom about Sandy.  All I could do was hold you and cry.  Grandma was concerned about Sandy and Doug did not want her to go to the hospital.  Colleen had been spared the emotion that Doug and I had just gone thru.  I think Colleen had run into Sandy and had taken you so she would not leave you in the car while she drank.  Probably because it was cold.  I am curious about Doug’s memory of this.  Your mom would probably not remember, she was drunk.  I don’t remember anyone but the police and Doug and I looking for you.  I believe we looked for a little over an hour before the call.  Thing is, you were never missing.  No one else really lived the terror, so this would not be a story connected with the rollover.  There would/should be in the police report, we did search for you.”