Earth Day 2007 Pics

I don't know if anybody cares, but I've finally got around to downloading the pictures off of the camera from back in April when we went on the Spring migration canoeing trip. Our Clear Water canoe trip out near Delta, Alaska was the start of our plan to be more active and outdoorsy together. I'll have to post on our backpacking trip soon, once I've finished recovering. You can see how close we were to the moose. It was an awesome trip.

No ASU Deferral

No deferral from ASU is their final word, apparently because I was admitted off of the waitlist, which I understand. Oh well, would have been nice to have a plan for next year already. It's a done deal now, no school for this year and my slot goes to some other anxious person. I'll have to reapply in September. Although, they did say that they might be able to give me an application fee waiver, so it will only cost $12.00. Small comfort. No official word on whether I'm off of the George Mason wait list. Although I don't think I could take their offer at this point anyway. Too close to even get airline tickets probably.

So the new plan for the year, as far as law related things goes, includes:
  • Retaking LSAT
  • Applying early decision to schools, since ASU didn't give me a deferral
  • Studying for and taking Patent Bar Exam
  • Paying off undergraduate student loans
  • Taking as many free law related classes as possible (Benefit of free tuition to University employees, whoops, now you know where I work, oh well.)
  • Saving money for move and law school

Wish me luck! I'll try and post interesting things for those of you who care about the above. I'll just be one of the longer Pre-L bloggers out there.


1L Cooking - 10 till dinner (1)

No matter how bad things get I guarantee you will have 10 minutes every day that won't be consumed with law school or reading. Cooking for me is a destressing activity. It is also something that hubby and I enjoy doing together. Assuming that we have a clean enough kitchen to cook in and ingredients for our standard fare on hand the time we spend cooking is actually pretty important to our mental health. We can talk while we prepare dinner and we don't feel like we're taking time away from other things because, hey, we all have to eat right? As much as I prefer to cook things as close to their natural form as possible, precooked meat and packaged veggies save a lot of precious time and if you choose carefully have almost identical nutritional facts.

So here's an easy 10-minute recipe for you.

Boil 12 oz. pasta of your choice. Meanwhile in a nonstick skillet saute for 2 minutes:

2 T. olive oil
9 oz. bag of fresh California stir-fry vegetables
10 oz. pkg of cooked chicken strips

Add 1 T. chopped garlic and cook another minute. Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Toss with pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4, or 2 with lunch leftovers that cost way less than eating out. Relatively healthy too. Original inspiration can be found here. We actually haven't modified this one too much except for we occasionally use canned chicken broth instead of bouillon.


Saving for Law School $50 at a Time

Watch your power bill. As an electrical engineer I play with a lot of cool toys at work, most of which I can't explain to other people. But, the Kill-a-watt meter is another matter. I can explain it to anybody, even those who don't want to know like my personal heater loving work buddies who keep their heaters running all summer long because the office AC is a tad to high for them and they don't want to through a cardigan on over their cute summer clothes. Even they understand how this tool works when I use it to show them how much their heater is contributing to the overall electric bill, not to mention the environment.

This energy meter measures electricity usage and calculates electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year. I took it home and plugged into the outlet that my TV, DVD player, cable modem and wireless router are plugged into. I was stunned to find out that these appliances consume 10% of my electricity bill every month, even when turned off and I'm not using them! I can save 10% just by turning off the power strip on these things when not using them, amazing! Over 1 month that's $9.00, over the next year that's over $100.00. I also feel more environmentally friendly by reducing my power consumption. I am also going to unplug my paper shredder, PC computer, microwave, toaster and other appliances which I don't use daily and see how much my power bill goes down.

Cable tv $49.99 a month, nothing interesting on when I want it. Blockbuster by mail $17.99 a month for 3 discs at a time with unlimited in store exchanges. I can watch an entire season of my shows at once rather than wasting time with commercials or money with cable. I can choose when I want to watch shows without needing a DVR and I won't be sucked into pointless shows that happen to be on. Savings $32 x 12 months = $384.00/year You'll save even more if you are actually in law school without a hubby who watches tv and can go without tv entirely. Also, while you're on the phone with your cable company getting rid of your movie channels you should see if you can combine your services and save money. I was able to combine my cable internet, cable tv and land line and save enough that the cable internet was basically free. Some companies even let you combine your cell phone bill as well.

Make your credit card pay you. If you are the type who is able to pay your balance in full every month get a card who pays you a cash reward. If you know that you're going to be paying for a trip home to see the family every year a mileage reward card might make sense to you. Otherwise, while you're in law school a mileage card probably doesn't make too much sense. Instead get a card that offers cash back. The American Express Blue Cash card offers up to 5.00% back on everyday purchases and 1.5% on everything else after the first $6,500 dollars spent. It offers slightly lower percentages back before you hit $6,500. If you spend a less per year you can check into the Capitol One card which offers 1% back from day one and a 25% bonus at the end of the year. Also, ask your school if they take credit cards for your tuition bill. You might be giving yourself a discount on tuition, however slight. Just make sure you pay it off at the end of the month. In other words, wait until your loans have dispersed into your savings account before paying with your card. It won't save you any money if you are paying late fees and interest every month. We used our airline miles to pay for our law school visit trip last year, saved $1,300 in airfare. This year we'll be using our cash rewards card to save up for moving expenses. This isn't the time to be getting Victoria's Secret rewards which will only do you good if you continue purchasing more stuff. Store credit cards probably aren't your best option at this point.

Contribute to abundance, if you no longer need something , pass it on. Join your local freecycle group on yahoo. You can get rid of your things in an environmentally friendly manner and score things that you really need from others. I've been able to get rid of an old computer monitor this way that would have ended up in the garbage otherwise and the person who received it saved at least $50.00 over buying one.

Some of the best money savers are also environment savers. In my community the bus is free during the winter months. Taking the bus in the winter and biking in the summer saves me $40-$60 a month in gas.

Don't spend any $5.00 bill that comes your way. I saw this tip in Women's Day magazine, one of those Mommy magazines in Dr.'s offices. Apparently the lady who sent in this tip did it for five months leading up to a vacation and saved $485. Might not work for me though as I usually use credit cards to get airline miles. I rarely have cash as it tends to burn a hole in my pocket.

Now I want to point out something else, how $50.00 grows. If you save $50.00, even with no interest at all:

$50/month after 6 months is $300, after 1 year is $600 and after 3 years that's $1,8000
$50/week after 6 months is $1,300, after 1 year is $2,600 and after 3 years you'll have a J.D. and $7,800

That should put a dent in some of your student loan interest.


1L Instant Destress

In honor of all of my fellow Pre-L bloggers who will soon be stressing out in law school I will endeavor to give you a few tools. I have been a practitioner of yoga for about 2 years now, although quite unfaithfully at times. I can always tell when I've fallen off of my yoga habit. My whole body feels more tense, I sleep worse at night and I'm less flexible by far. Throughout my time as an undergraduate I never took less than 20 credits and in one semester I topped out at 28. Crazy I know, but I was determined to get both a BA and a BS in just 5 years. So I've had to develop ways to deal with school stress. Yoga and tea are my mainstay anti-stress tools. Here are a few more which all take under 2 minutes apiece:

Silence is golden - Distractions whether they be a radio, a blowing fan, or your chatty neighbors all stimulate your senses. Take some time to turn off and disconnect from stimuli. Give all of your senses a break.

Worry notebook - If you're stressing out and staring at the ceiling at 2 am, facing the prospect of class the following morning because of worries, roll over and jot down whatever to-dos or other worries are bugging you. This helps to free your mind and let you go to sleep.

Get moving - Exercise is a great destressor. Whether you are doing chair yoga in between your cite checks at the library or a full on workout at your gym you'll get happy endorphins, increased oxygen flow and possibly combat the 1L repeat of the freshman 15.

Breathe - Yoga teaches you to be conscious of your breath. One of my favorite yoga techniques is one I thought was completely silly when I first tried it. In order to develop breath consciousness, cover one nostril with your thumb, keeping your first and second fingers straight in the air. Inhale through the other nostril. Then close the other nostril with your first two fingers, uncover the first nostril and exhale through that. Continue a few times, switching back and forth. Breathing like this through alternate nostrils makes you concentrate on inhaling and exhaling, which distracts you from stressful thoughts, while the increased oxygen calms you.

Nurture yourself with literature - I know the last thing you're going to want to do is read, but reading something well written and intriguing will slow you down as you take time to read and adsorb it. When you do this you will begin to breathe more deeply without thinking about it. Don't think best sellers list here, think classic literature or poetry. Poetry is especially good because it has a certain rhythm to it.



I just received the most beautiful school schedule ever. I was assigned to the only section without 8:30am classes.

Contracts 1:30PM - 3:25PM Mo & 3:00PM - 4:25PM TuTh
Torts 3:30PM - 5:25PM MoWe
Civil Procedure 10:00AM - 11:55AM WeFr
Legal Method & Writing 1:30PM - 2:25PM WeFr
Dean's Session on Study & Practice of Law 10:30AM - 11:55AM TuTh

And you know what I'm going to do? I'm about to call the law school and say that I won't be enrolling this year. I have plane tickets to go and the most beautiful school schedule ever and yet I'm not going. I have to wait until next year. Life simply got in the way.

We made every attempt to take the emotions out of this decision by quantifying it. Like the engineers that we are, we made spreadsheets calculating the 5 year and 10 year economic impacts of law school depending on whether I go to Schools A through J. It makes more financial sense to give up a year of engineers salary and go now because I'll get a year of lawyer salary at the end of law school sooner. It also makes more sense financially to go to a state school like University of Washington or Arizona State University than it does to go to Georgetown or Seattle University...no surprise.

So why on Earth am I doing this? Well there is the matter of the Patent Bar which I want to take and which I will have no time to study for while in law school. Then there is the fact that I have an entire household worth of stuff that I have to figure out how to move and pay to move ($5k, at least). And despite my attempts at getting financial aid all I got were loans. Then there is the Army, sitting there like a dementor out of a Harry Potter book, sucking all of the happiness out of every plan we make for our future. I have no security. I grasp at rumors and try to make the best decisions that I can based on them, only to have orders changed and rumors swept away. We were planning on October. He was going to get me all settled at school, come home and move our things in September and then stay with his parents waiting for the orders. It is now looking like Hubby won't be deployed until the new year and I just can't deal with a long distance relationship leading up to a year long deployment combined with the stresses of moving and 1L all in one semester.

If he isn't going to leave until January or February or March, then I would rather have him leave, followed by me knowing where I'm going to school, moving over the summer with plenty of time and doing 1L fall with him still gone. After the completion of 1L first semester in January or February or March he would get back and then we could get on with our lives from there. The hardest part of law school would be over without him to distract me from school and with law school to distract me from worrying about him.

There aren't any really big BAD reasons that I should go this year. I bet that any schools that I got into this year I'll get into next year again. If I retake my LSAT I might even get into a few schools that I didn't get into this year. I'll have more savings to cushion the financial blow. I'll have my patent bar under my belt so I'll be more employable.

Why am I trying so hard to justify this to myself? Maybe it's in my personality to pursue everything. I never say "no." I'm always the first one to volunteer. Once I set my mind on something I want, I pursue it immediately whether it is changing apartments, buying a car, getting engaged, anything. I'm not one to delay gratification of a future goal either. I'm very futuristic. This is hard for me. I know the "pros" list was longer than the "cons" list, but I'll always worry that I'm giving up more than the most awesome schedule in the world. I know I want to go to law school. I'm not doing this because I am bored or couldn't "hack" engineering. I am genuinely interested for many reasons and have a long list of why this will help me with my future goals. I take the debt load seriously. I'm ready. But I'm going to wait. *sigh* I guess I should probably call them and make some other applicant on the waiting lists day. I'm penning law school in my schedule for 2008 and Army you can just be damned if you think you're delaying me again.


Moggy is a purrfect mother to feathery family

Ridiculously cute story of a mama cat adopting some baby ducks.......a small break in all the bad news out there.

read more | digg story


Harry Potter Moratoriam

In honor of all of the poor law school graduates out there who are studying for the bar exam rather than running out and reading their copy of Harry Potter 7 this weekend I am declaring a Pre-L ban on all spoiler posting. I won't be posting any details, spoilers or even commenting on whether I thought it was a good book. For those of you who aren't Potter fans, ignore this post, for those of you who are, be kind and don't blog about Potter until after the July bar exam is over. Let's show our solidarity for those who are going before us. Soon enough we'll be in their shoes, stressing over the bar and wishing we had time for a little light reading. And in an extra special display for my sympathy for all of you bar exam takers I will not be reading my pre-ordered copy until Sunday. I am going camping.


New Tent

Here is our new tent. It took us 3 weeks to decide on and visits to 5 different stores. Ultimately it came down to this one as it met all of our criteria. I wanted to be able to watch the stars if we were ever somewhere warm and dry enough to leave the rain fly off. We wanted two doors so we wouldn't have to disturb one another if nature called and plenty of room in the tent to play cards if we get weathered in. Not thrilled with the color, but as I learned when I bought my sleeping bag, color doesn't matter as much as design when it comes to camping equipment. Buy what works for you. The tent is an Asp 2 if anybody is curious. I'll report back later on how it works out. We're going backpacking for the first time this weekend.

Russia to Stop Counter-Terrorism Cooperation with Britain

I know, I know, I'm probably the only one who cares, but why isn't this story on CNN at all? Why am I getting all of my news on this issue from BBC? For those of you who don't regularly troll the web for all stories involving Russian relations you should know that in response to the UK's demand that Russia extradite Alexander Lugovoi, a former KGB intelligence officer accused of murdering Kremlin-critic Alexander Litvinenko last year in London the UK has expelled 4 Russian diplomats. Now Russia has responded by making an in kind demand that says four British diplomats must leave Russia within 10 days. Moscow will also stop issuing visas to British government officials. Now Russia is upping the ante by also suspending their bilateral cooperation in the struggle against terrorism. In what was a in kind response Russia has now upped their response, something sure to damage UK-Russian relations even further. Not less than a month after Putin and Bush were glad handing at the family retreat they have withdrawn from a major arms treaty and now this. *sigh* Does not bode well. Perhaps this is because Putin, like Bush, is a president on the way out of office. Both will be replaced within the next year. Maybe this is his way of making some political and diplomatic points that he feels are important. Oh, oh, I was wrong, CNN Does have the story. Buried in their world section. Instead I get to learn how the Sopranos has 15 Emmy nominations and how a dog ate nearly 1k in cash as top headline news on the main page. *sigh* I hate US news sometimes.


3 Rainbows

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. After work we took our bikes and rode to the botanical gardens, something we've been meaning to visit ever since we were dating. We then rode to the sports store and bought a tent. Phase 3 of our transformation of me into an outdoorsy person is a two day one night backpacking and camping trip. Phase 1 (canoeing) and Phase 2 (day hiking) went pretty well, so we'll hope for the best. I have surprised myself by enjoying all of our outdoorsy time together so far. A day and night away with no facilities hopefully won't strain things too much. After the tent buying we rode home, cleaned up and went out to dinner. I ordered the same food as we had served at our rehearsal dinner and we talked as we watched the river flow by. All in all it wasn't a night on the town champagne and roses kind of anniversary, but it was very us and very good. We saw saw one rainbow on our bike ride, one in the garden and another on the drive home from dinner. Three rainbows for our third anniversary, a very good sign.


Aurora Palette - Recreate the Northern Lights at home

Sorry folks, this isn't what it looks like. I live in Fairbanks Alaska which basically means that I see the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis throughout the winter. This is a chessy gimick. Cool idea though, especially for those lonesome for the real thing.


AK License Plates

Makes people think when they drive by you!

Strange, our state is so small that I've actually seen quite a few of these driving around. I used to live near the school that the CHOCLT license plate drove her kids to. The Anchorage Daily News has a whole website for them, but here are my favorites.
Who wouldn't want to say this to their fellow drivers occasionally?
Showing their support for life's most important dessert

As read in the rear-view mirror "Smiley," cool huh?



I waiver on the issue of anonymity. For awhile there, I seriously thought that I should just come out, post photos of myself (for family to check out), use my real name and list my location and school. I am now swinging back the other direction in the pendulum. If people have been reading my blog they can probably guess where I'm going, in fact I pretty much know myself, but I don't want to make it easy for folks either. Just so you all aren't 100% sure, I do still have 4 offers on the table and 2 more that I've officially rejected.

I guess I don't have David's guts. I got into blawgs by first reading Suasponte. While it wasn't too hard to figure out ultimately that she attended the University of Chicago by her restaurant choices and other hints, she did make it so that people who don't personally know her won't be able to just google her and find her blog. That is kind of the level I'm shooting for. I don't mind if folks who know me know that this is my blawg. I'm not intending to pull a Jeremy Blachman, but I won't be swinging the other direction and posting photos up the kazoo of other people without their permission. I don't want others voyeuristically using this blog like an extension of facebook. To that end those of you using bloglines might be confused as to why a couple of my old posts have reappeared. They have been redacted...for now.


Information Fasting

TechChris is going on an information diet. This made me realize that without even trying I went on an information fast from last Wednesday to Sunday. While we were on our trip we decided not to bring laptops, not to check our e-mail (even when we had the chance) and only use our cell-phones for emergencies. Ultimately both phones died and we spent a blissful 5 days totally disconnected. When I returned I had 8 actual e-mails that required a response and 64 blog-lines to read. Nothing fell apart, the world kept going and I felt strangely recharged. I did not waste hours of my day watching tv. We did catch a special on the history channel on the history of barbecue technology which was interesting and didn't fry to many brain cells. Instead, I spent time in the outdoors, talking with my husband and enjoying good food and a good book. We should all take information fasts from time to time. In the meantime, take Chris' idea and go on an information diet. You'll be amazed how much more time you have in your day. Hmmm... maybe I'll be able to restart my thwarted Couch to 5k running plan.


Valdez Trip

Whew, that was a lot of driving. Here's our route. But, the trip was beautiful and well worth it.

We went from Fairbanks to Copper Center Lodge on the 4th where we stopped for the night at the historic lodge. Apparently back in the day they created lodges that were about a day's travel apart so that travelers could stop for the night. With the advent of cars and a more developed train system many of these lodges have closed, but those that remain have a lot of historic charm. We stopped there for the night, had dinner and then took a walk together to look at the area and watch some of the locals try to blow themselves up with fireworks.

The next day (5th) we visited the Cooper Center museum, which was basically a small collection of leftover paraphernalia from the gold rush era. The historic photographs and maps were interesting to hubby who is a big history buff. I was content to look at the old miner's cabins and wonder how people had their whole lives year after year in spaces smaller than my first dorm room.

After stopping at The Fishing Widow coffee place for my mocha and hubby's hot cocoa we hit the road again and drove the rest of the way down to Valdez, down through the mountains and past the waterfalls to our hotel. On the way down stopped for a short hike up to Worthington Glacier. After getting into Valdez we stopped at our hotel and then went to lunch at the Valdez classic Mike's Palace. I remember this place from when I was a little girl. My parents would always order the cheese pizza and I would sit at the counter and watch the Italian family make the food. All of the people who worked there were family and during the summer the extended family would come from Italy to work at the restaurant, or that is my recollection. I remember one of the guys that worked there giving me a little bowl of peperoni to put on my cheese pizza. Strange, the memories that stick with you from when you were a kid. Not much has changed, the same family still owns the place and the pizza is still great. I will say though that a large pizza is too large for two people, even when one of them is a 6'2" hungry man who has been driving and hiking all day.

Next we went to see the Valdez Museum which I also remember from my childhood. Actually I remember only one thing from the museum, the fur fish. Until I went back as an adult I believed that the fur fish was real. Alas, like so many childhood fantasies, the fur fish is not real. By reading the caption this is now obvious. In addition to the fur fish the museum also boasts the following: archives, maps, photographs, newspapers, an exhibit on the Pipeline Construction, an exhibit on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, an exhibit on the World Extreme Skiing Championships and several exhibits on the gold rush and Valdez as an all-American town up until the Good Friday earthquake wiped it out.

The next morning we took a Stan Stephens cruise through Prince William Sound for a 9.5 hour tour. We saw every type of wildlife advertised on the brochures, except for the mountain goats and bears. All of the white specks that I saw turned out to be snow when viewed through the spotting glasses. Mountain goats are now beasts which have now reached mythical status in my book. All throughout my growing up years in Alaska my Mom would insist that she saw Dall Sheep or Mountain Goats on the mountain, but I can't actually remember ever seeing one. I've seen plenty of them mounted on walls, but until I see one myself I have relegated all Alaskan sheep and goats to mythical status, like unicorns or fur fish.

But, to make up for it we saw 5 humpback whales, 29 baby seals, 107 (before I lost count) sea otters, too many sea lions to count, an eagle's nest, arctic terns, puffins, dall porpoises and so many others. On the drive we also saw moose, eagles and squirrels in addition to lots of beautiful fire weed and other wildflowers. Oh yeah, and the typical nature stuff: mountains, glaciers, forests and the like.The cruise was well worth the money, especially with the 10% off for Alaskan residents.

The rest of the trip was pretty laid back, we drove from Valdez to Palmer to visit my parents, went tent shopping at REI (still haven't found one, although I did get a sleeping bag) and then drove back through Denali Park to Fairbanks on Sunday. A lot of beautiful scenic driving and over 500 songs later on the ipod we arrived safe and sound home to two cats who wanted a lot of attention. Once I upload the rest of the photos on Flickr I'll have to add a slide show. There is a limit to how patient I am in uploading through blogger.


Happy Endings

As I posted here and here back in April and June, BBC reporter Alan Johnston was abducted on March 12th by the Army of Islam, a shadowy militant group dominated by Gaza's powerful Dugmush clan. Today, after 114 days of captivity he was freed. It is so rare in this world for things to turn out well and I can only say that I am happy. Happy for him, his family and all those around the world who have been watching this situation.


Bush commutes Libby's prison sentence

Oh my goodness, if this doesn't assure a democratic president in 2008 I don't know what will. This is going to tick off a lot of people. People said that Paris Hilton received an excessive sentence, but Arnold didn't pardon her or commute her sentence. Scooter Libby gets an "excessive sentence" and the President takes it upon himself to deal with the matter. Hmm...makes me think he was actually doing the administration's bidding as some have thought. Either way, I smell a rat!

Your Skin Isn't the Only Thing That Needs Sun Protection

I mentioned back in February that my eyes need a baby prescription, mostly when I'm in large lecture halls, movie theaters, or while driving. I'm perfectly OK without glasses, but if I want crystal clear perfect vision I could probably use a little help. My eyes are like the difference between antenna and cable, perfectly viewable vs. crystal clear. Only those who've had cable would know the difference. This past Friday marked the end of the fiscal year at my work. This meant, not only that there was a lot of scrambling around to spend all of the money that would go away at the end of the year, but that I also needed to wipe out the remainder of my Flexible Spending Account. Basically an FSA is an amount of money deducted, pre-tax, from your paycheck that you can then spend on medical or childcare expenses. I had $500.00 put into it so that I could pay my deductible tax free. Thankfully I required almost no hospital or medical visits this year so I didn't meet my deductible. I didn't even have to see the Dr. to get my annual allergy prescription and was able to make due with Claritin-D. Unfortunately 5 boxes of Claritin D only amounts to $45.00, so I was about to lose the remainder of the funds that I had set aside. Use it or lose it. Then I thought to myself, hmm... if I'm going to be somewhere warmer possibly, I'll need a pair of sunglasses to wear while driving. So I went out and bought prescription sunglasses. Boom, there went the remainder of the FSA money and I'll have nice new Coach sunglasses with RX in them to try and not lose. Must not lose, way too expensive to replace, especially as I will not have a lovely FSA account next year if I'm in school. Hmm...I'm still typing "if" and I'm still saying "if." I really mean "when," but switching to saying "when" is scary. It's so decisive.

Things You Don't See in The Lower 48

The bear appeared to be chasing the wolf in slow motion with the wolf waiting for the bear to catch up, then it would sprint ahead. After about 15 minutes the bear gave up and went another direction. Definitely something you probably don't see on the side of the highway in CA. I'll miss Alaska.
In other news I made the Law-School Roundup, cool! I was wondering if there were other Pre-L bloggers out there, looks like there are. Or at least for another 6 weeks, then we'll all be 1L bloggers and I'll be able to lament the lack again.