RSS Help please?

The RSS feed on this blog is broken. I don’t know how to fix it. Can anyone help?

Somewhere along the way, I think when I moved from Moveable Type to WordPress, I thought it would be an awesome idea to sign up with Feedburner to handle my RSS feed. The idea, as I recall, was I could somehow keep the same feed regardless of where my blog lived so that anyone subscribed to my old feed would remain subscribed to my new feed. Magic. Awesome. Great.

Except… not, because now it doesn’t seem to work and I’m really not sure what to do. Feedburner’s troubleshootize page is not really helping me. Any other suggestions?

Oh, also, this may have to do with how my WordPress template describes the feed, but, well, what should I change?

I’m getting too old for this stuff. Playing around with the guts of a website/blog was just much more fun 10 years ago when I started a blog. Things were so much simpler then! And yes, I know I sound like an old grump, but, well, grr….

Click with caution!

I believe there may be two or three people who actually visit this page once in a while to see if there are updates (others read on RSS, which I think is the better way). This message is for those of you who actually load the page: Don’t click on the random photo near the top of the page. It will take you to my now-retired photoblog, and then you’ll quickly be redirected to some sort of pr0n site to which you probably don’t want to go. I will try to fix this soon, but first I have to figure out how the heck some hacker made this happen. I assume it’s some sort of exploit of the randomization code that makes the photos change. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

Meanwhile, you spell meringue m-e-r-i-n-g-u-e. Just so you know.

Also, this writ of supervisory control was the highlight of last week.

In search of case management

So one of the resolutions for the new year was to keep better track of what I’m doing. I don’t understand it, but I can’t escape my need to document. I should have been a journalist because I just want to record everything — images, sounds, words, and every little move I make. Ok not every move, but after a year of being a PD I’ve learned the value of having good notes, both to cover your ass if the need arises, ((I did tell him about that 10-year mandatory minimum before he entered his guilty plea, didn’t I? Didn’t I? Yikes!)) and so you can jump in and out of 100 different cases at will without losing a step on any one of them.

The problem is, I can’t figure out how to keep track of what I’m doing on all these cases in a meaningful and still manageable way. Our technology people decided to invest gazillions of dollars ((I exaggerate, but I know it was a lot and way way way too much, considering the total budget of the PD’s office)) in the latest and supposedly greatest version of Justware Defender. Huge mistake. It’s a worthless, bloated, glacially slow kitchen sink of features. Trying to do too much, it does absolutely nothing well. ((Oh wait, it’s built on Microsoft “.NET” technology. No wonder it sucks!))

So here’s what I need: I need a very lightweight database that runs on Windows that I can customize to allow me to enter a string of notes all day long, associate those notes with names, and have each note tagged with a date and time. I need to be able to arrange the data in chronological order so if I want to go back and see everything I did on a given day, I can do that. Just as important, I need to be able to narrow my view to just one client so I can quickly and easily see all the notes I’ve taken/interactions I’ve had w/that client — also preferably in chronological order. Ideally I could also characterize the type of interaction I had with the client or related to the client’s case — was it a phone call, a visit at the jail, an office appointment, a court appearance, or what? That way, if I wanted to see all the dates/times I saw a client in jail, I could quickly focus in on that.

What I need is sort of like what you can do w/email. You can view your inbox by date messages were received, or group by sender. You can sort based on whether a message has an attachment. You can sort based on whether you replied. You can sort by message subject, etc. I need to be able to take case/client notes quickly and then save them in a way that allows me to use the data in more than one way later on.

So tell me, wise readers, does anything like this exist?

Greener Grass? What do you think?

I really like my job. In fact, I love it. Where I do my job? Well…. It leaves much to be desired. So of course I’m interested in what the experience of being a public defender is like for people in other places, and especially what it’s like to be a newly graduated PD in other places. So I was fascinated to learn that about these three new hires in Victorville, CA. Apparently they start out with “an extensive four-week training course” and then they go to trial. That sounds pretty cool. The fact that the local paper profiles them prior to their first trials so that their clients are likely to know that their attorney is fresh off the pumpkin truck? ((This would be assuming that public defender clients read newspapers. Your instinct might be that the average person who can’t afford a lawyer probably also does not read the newspaper. That may be true so long as that average client is not in jail. If your clients are in jail, be prepared: They probably know more about local news (especially as it relates to criminal justice) than you do. )) That’s not so cool, yet it is cool because it shows a community interest in public defenders that certainly seems absent here.

One of these new public defenders said that one reason she wanted to be a public defender is the quality of people she works with:

“I think that public defenders in general are great people to work with,” Dyerly said. “They have huge hearts.”

Sounds like a bright-eyed, idealistic, newly-graduated law student, doesn’t it?

How about it, folks? I know just about every public defender out there w/a blog is the kind of person Ms. Dyerly describes, but is the same true of the people you work with? Are public defenders big-hearted in general, or are they just as petty, selfish, and egomaniacal as any other attorney? Inquiring minds want to know…

Dull Boy Jack

We just had a three-day weekend. L. and I both went to work every single day of that three-day weekend. Sad.

I don’t know how to get all my work done in a 40-hour week, but I’m realizing I have to try harder b/c I don’t actually end up getting that much done when I go in on weekends. How do other people do it? How do you do the best job you can for my clients and still have a bit of a life?
[tags]work, balance[/tags]

MBE: How low can you go? (and still pass!)

I finally forced myself to do a full practice MBE yesterday and it confirmed what all my other practice question sessions had already indicated: If I took the test today I’d get about 60% of the questions right. That seems awful, yet I’ve heard it’s usually a passing score for the MBE once everything is scaled. So my question:

Is it true that 60% on the MBE is usually a passing score? Can anyone fill me in anymore on how the “scaling” works? Do they scale the test according to all results nationwide, or do they scale each state independently?

I don’t really want to do just the bare minimum, but at the same time I don’t need a good score, I need a passing score. The MBE is worth 35% of the total exam score here so doing well on it can help cover mistakes on the essays and MPT. My hope was to be getting about 70-80% correct on the MBE by this point for just that purpose, but alas…

Aside from the score, the practice exam did seem valuable in that it showed just how very tiring it can be to sit for three hours straight doing question after question after question. (It’s especially hard if you’re getting almost half of them wrong; talk about discouraging!) A good night’s sleep before the real thing is going to be critical!

DSL Modems: Aren’t they all the same?

Question for any tech-minded readers out there: I’m trying to sign up w/Qwest for DSL service at our new house. We had DSL w/Verizon at our old place so I still have the DSL modem that Verizon made us rent/buy. Qwest tells me I have to have one of the modems on their list of compatible modems, but I don’t want to buy another modem. Are they right that if I don’t have one of the modems on their list the service is not going to work? Could Qwest-provided DSL really be so different from Verizon-provided DSL that they require different modems? I mean, I’m sure it’s possible, but I’m skeptical. Anyone know?

Pre-prep bar issues: Are books enough?

Although we’re moving next week and I won’t be able to get down to serious bar study until about June 5th (that’s the goal, anyway), I still can’t help but think about this monster every single day. For a prep course I’m currently debating whether to pay for the Bar/Bri books-only option, or to spring for another $150 and have the option to attend classes if the urge strikes. ((The Bar/Bri course for Montana only costs $795 for books-only, $945 for books plus classes. There is no tape, cd, or iPod option.)) I’d definitely prefer the classes, but I’ll be living a 5-hour drive from where the classes are offered so it seems unlikely I’ll be able to attend many of them. Mr. Montana Bar/Bri (who has been very nice and helpful) says that some people do make the drive to attend classes in those subjects about which they’re most concerned. My costs could skyrocket if I started doing that, though. ((Gas each way would probably be about $30, plus a hotel if I wanted to stay overnight. That means attending two classes in a row would cost me about $100, three classes in a row about $140, a whole week $220). And how often will I really want to take 10 hours of potentially valuable study time to make that trip?

On the other hand, I’m pretty far from the world’s most self-disciplined kind of studier. ((Yeah, sure “studier” is a word. One who studies. I don’t need no stinkin’ dictionary!)) Grr.

So do any of you who have grappled w/the bar exam and Bar/Bri have any thoughts on this dilemma? Are the books pretty good? Were the lectures very helpful?
Continue reading Pre-prep bar issues: Are books enough?

Loan Consolidation Time again

One of the best things about being finished w/law school is facing all my debt.


But face it I must. Interest rates are going up again July 1 so if you’ve got student loans you might want to consolidate. Of course, if you have student loans, I’m sure your lender has made sure you know all about consolidation—perhaps much more than you ever wanted to know. ((Access Group must have called me a dozen times in the last couple of month before I finally told them that if they called me one more time I would go elsewhere to consolidate. They haven’t called since.)) However, in doing my own second consolidation I’ve learned a couple of interesting bits of new info, including:

  1. Private loans have 9 month grace period from date of graduation. You should get a letter 45 days before repayment begins. That letter will tell you when payments are due and allow you to choose your payment plan.
  2. Make sure your lender has your correct address for that 45-day letter! You never want to miss any payments or pay late, obviously, but being late in the first couple years can have even worse consequences than you think. I think. ((Can anyone verify this? I remember something like this from my loan exit info session, but, of course, I didn’t write it down. I remember learning something like if you make all your payments on time in the first three years (or something like that) the lender must (by law) reduce your interest rate by some amount—like a half or quarter percentage point. Does anything like this ring a bell w/anyone? This came in the part of the lecture where the “expert” said that the most common payment to miss or be late on is the first one and that it’s our responsibility to know what’s due and when b/c the lender wins if we ever mess up. Please please comment if you know anything about this b/c, while I’m planning on paying everything on time, I still want to know I’m not remembering things that didn’t happen.))
  3. If you’d like to learn a bit about your loans you might want to with the Student Loan People. Once you login there you should be able to get a list of all your loans, including details about amount you owe, interest rate, and whether the loan is in repayment or deferred, and when your next payment is due. Try the NSLDS for info about your federal loans only.
  4. Judging by the change in my loan amounts from yesterday to today, it looks like I’m paying at least $10/day in interest. That amount will only grow until I start repayment…
  5. The loan consolidation interest rate a year ago was 2.7%; the current consolidation rate (before July 1, 2006) should be 4.7%.
  6. If you consolidated any federal loans last year and you graduate(d) this spring, those loans will go into repayment about a month after you graduate. If you don’t have a job (like me) and you’d like to defer repayment until you do, check w/your loan servicer to get an Economic Hardship Deferment Request.

As interesting as all that is, I’m still not sure what to do about consolidation this time around. Since my last consolidation I’ve borrowed another $18,500 in federal loans I could now consolidate. Those loans have an interest rate of 5.3%. If I consolidated them, they’d only be at 4.7% (but probably a couple tenths more b/c I probably won’t get the lowest available rate). So is it even worth my while?

Loans. So not cool. [tags]debt, loans[/tags]