Monday, December 31, 2007

What will happen Tuesday with the landlords...

As I sit here awake and unable to sleep, I think about all of the events that are about to unfold the day after tomorrow. Will we be given access to our apartment? or will we have to call the police to demand access? Will the landlords give over the apartment peacefully? or will they try to stop us from moving in which will force us to find another place and sue for the moving expenses?

Crown Heights is a very big town, but very small in that everybody knows about what goes on with everybody else. If we take the apartment by force, who will want to rent to us when we move out? I fear that we will be doing a Chilul Hashem by enforcing the stronghold of the law on our snake-like landlords who pretend to be helpless and weak yet are sly and quick. On the one hand, while I want to throw the book at them and teach them a lesson they will never forget, the lesson they will never forget is to never rent an apartment to a Jewish lawyer rather than mending their lying ways.

I can respect that the landlord's son moved back home unexpectedly, and I can respect the parents defending their son who wants to live in his apartment that the parents rented out, but instead of lying to us and lying about all of the details (such as about the keys, about the lease, and other elements), I wish they came clean and apologetically said, "We're sorry about this; we couldn't know this would happen. Here is your deposit back. Please stay here while you find another place. We'll pay for your moving costs and we're sorry for the inconvenience."

I honestly don't know what Tuesday will bring. I am hopeful that somehow G-d will intervene and will make everything right. However, recently, he has set his eyes on me and has been paying attention to me by hitting me with unfair penalties and parking tickets and other expenses which are totally acts of G-d (one after another), and while I am happy that I feel as if I am doing something to get His attention, I don't want him to be testing me over and over again. I can't deal with too much more stress and I wish more than anything for a peaceful and happy life with Shalom Bayis, a large thriving family, and a life with absolutely no pain, no sickness, and no poverty. I am already overexerting myself with the online courses that I am taking so that I can move myself closer to a degree along with the new job and keeping a happy wife and family, all while living the life of a frum Jew which includes going to minyanim to pray multiple times each day, and learning Torah each and every day. I can't take more than this.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apartment Nightmare (Continued)

Last week, I gave you the summary version of what happened. In the end, we did stay there last night because I refused to leave after being kicked out of our own apartment that we had just taken possession of. That evening, they were telling us that they had keys for us, but when we were leaving in the morning and we asked the landlord for the keys, she made up some story that they were their only copy when we were told the evening before that those keys were our copy to take with us. It was then that I didn’t think fast enough to refuse to leave without keys and my wife didn’t want to start another fight with them.

The only documentation that we have from them is a signed receipt from them which indicates that the receipt is for rent for the property at that address. Additionally, before this happened, we changed our forwarding address with the US Post Office to that address, and changed all our bank statements, etc. to that address so when we get there on Tuesday, I’ll have mail there in my name. Additionally, we have our U-Haul receipt and the receipt for the movers which show that they loaded our stuff from Denver and unloaded at the NY address.

Lastly, we are going there on Jan 1st to move in. There are many issues yet to be resolved where they originally agreed to various terms, and then last week, changed their minds after we moved in. My suspicion is that when we get there they won’t let us into the apartment before agreeing to their new terms which means that for the first time, I’ll have to call the police to force them to let us in. I hate the idea of occupying an apartment by force, but because they have our rent money for the month and I don’t think I can get it back from them, we’ll stay there for the month while we look for another place.

I think that as an attorney, the best thing that could have happened is that they let us move in. Had they not let us move in, we wouldn’t have possession of the apartment and the issue would be simply damages -- how to get the rent deposit back from them and how to sue them for the costs and moving fees involved in finding a reasonable replacement apartment on such short notice.

My wife thinks that I shouldn’t be thinking so negatively and that we should just hope they let us in. If (my wife says "if," I say "when") they don’t agree to the terms in the lease that they originally agreed to, she thinks that we should just live there on a month-to-month oral lease while we look for another place, and as soon as another place opens up, we should move out and sue them for the moving costs we incur because we are moving because they broke their oral lease (keep in mind that leases only need to be in writing when they are for longer than a year). In the meantime, we won’t unpack all of our boxes (only the ones we’ll need for daily living) and we won’t invest money into the place for rugs, etc. as my wife planned to.

You know that I hate a lawsuit more than anyone in the world, but between you and me, this is the first time I feel that I will be forced to be in one. This is truly a messed up situation. I wish we never took this apartment.


Friday, December 28, 2007

"Yechi" Lubavich Mishichist Camp Loses Court Battle.

By the way, I am not one to get involved in the fighting between the "Yechi" mishichist sect and the non-Yechi camp within the Lubavich movement, but I heard from a friend that on Thursday, there was a decision in the court case over which of the two groups "owned" (a.k.a. had rights to) 770 Eastern Parkway ("770").

The decision was that 770 belongs to the non-yechi camp.

In short, the two camps, both divided and both followers of the Lubavicher Rebbe, have opposing views of how to view the Rebbe now that he has passed on. The yechi camp, also known as the mishichist camp view the Rebbe as Moshiach (the Massiah). The non-yechi camp view the Rebbe as their leader, but only potentially Moshiach, (but because his body is dead and buried at the Ohel, so far he is not Moshiach).

In Chassidus (the mystical teachings of Torah), there is the concept of each Rebbe being moshiach, meaning that he brings people closer to G-d and that he reveals new aspects of Torah, etc., however that doesn't mean that he is the Moshiach (the Messiach that Jews are waiting for).

Anyway, the importance of this court decision is that since the Lubavicher Rebbe's death around 10 years ago (probably longer by now), the yechi camp has taken over 770 Eastern Parkway ("770") to the exclusion of the non-yechi Lubavichers. Most shluchim (emmissaries sent to various places in the world by the Rebbe to open up Chabad Houses and bring Jews closer to G-d) are non-yechi, regardless of what their personal beliefs are about the Rebbe and whether when Moshiach comes, whether it will be the Rebbe. These shluchim congregate in Crown Heights, Brooklyn once each year for the annual convention. The problem is that last year, one Yechi guy threw a bench at the shluchim, another threw a Gemara at one, and yet another set of them blocked entry by forming a linked-chain to prevent the shluchim from entering 770. Further, last year (or the year before, I can't remember), they blasted music that made being in 770 unbearable, and overall, have caused many problems for the Lubavich movement by infiltrating the Lubavich schools and teaching the children moshichist beliefs, some of which don't have a basis in Torah (although they will prove to you otherwise).

All this being said, the court decided that 770 belongs to the non-yechis, so this is a big victory for us. However, the meaningfulness of this though is limited, because it is almost certain that the Yechi camp will appeal this decision and it will go back to court for another round.

My personal view is that there should be no division between Jews, but the reality of it is that there are different beliefs, and often enough, both belief sets are right. G-d is infinite, and is expressed in infinite ways. It only makes sense that one group of Jews believe that he should be worshipped with fear and others to believe that he should be worshipped with love. Similarly within the Lubavich movement -- obviously the Rebbe was a great Jew and a Tzaddik in our time. Also, the Rebbe has the capacity to be Moshiach and may very well be (we will see soon when Moshiach comes). However, now that the Rebbe is dead, it makes sense that there will be a group of Jews who believe that if we call him forth to be Moshiach, that will influence him to come back sooner; thus, the yechi camps go to extremes to try to get people to acknowledge that he is Moshiach (similar to how people tried to convince others that JC was the son-of-G-d and that he had not died). Then there is the non-yechi camp who believes that following the Rebbe's teachings will bring Moshiach sooner (whoever Moshiach ends up being). This seems to me to be the essence of the division between the two camps.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Apartment Nightmare!

After being so excited about getting the New York apartment, when we got there on Wednesday night to move in, the landlord's adult kids were back from some foreign country and were living in their parent's vacant apartment that we rented; they put up a fight and did not want to move out and even tried to block us from moving in by screaming that we should turn the [one-way] U-Haul around and go back to Colorado. On top of that, we paid for movers by the hour on both ends to help pack the truck and unpack the truck, and the movers were standing there for over an hour in the rain while this whole thing was happening.

Even though in the end the landlords let us put our stuff there, they told us we couldn't stay there and had to go home. They lied about several things [including telling us that they didn't have a lease when a few hours earlier, they told us they had one and were ready for us to move in, among other things] and when we were leaving, they wouldn't give us the keys to the apartment. Stressed from the whole situation, I didn't think fast enough to demand the keys before we agreed to leave with all of our possessions locked in their apartment.

So as it stands, all of our possessions are behind locked doors and the landlord's kids are in that apartment with all of our possessions. Apparently, we were told that we could move in no earlier than this Tuesday (Jan 1), but I'm sensing that the landlords don't want to rent the place to us at all. I'm not exactly sure what to do. Between you and me, this could turn into a messy lawsuit, especially if they don't give us possession on Jan 1st, but I'm trying to avoid that and am trying to get possession of the apartment and our belongings without calling the police and demanding entry and access to our stuff. On top of that, they already have our rent deposit. Legally, I am of the opinion that we took possession of the apartment when the landlords allowed us to move in on Wednesday night before kicking us out and telling us that we had to leave.

I'll write again after the weekend to let you know how things are going.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Divine Providence Story -- We found an Apartment!

It has been quite a busy two days. Because my job is in New York, my wife and I went around New York to look for apartments. We looked in the city and we looked in Long Island, but it was too big to see in just two days. We decided to go to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and look for apartments there. We drove around looking for "for rent" signs, checked out a few horrific apartments, and stayed near the airport after our first night quite exhausted.

Day two, we drove around Long Island, but the Jewish neighborhoods that were recommended to us seemed so residential that it was so hard to find apartments for rent. We visited a few of the local Chabad houses, but it seemed that many of them were there for the non-religious community to give them an atmosphere for growth in their yiddishkeit. I spoke to one young Rabbi who told me that aside from me, there would be few Jews at morning minyan (prayer) who had a beard like me. I thought, "okay, there's a Jewish community here, although it's not a frum (religious) community, at least there are restaurants here and places to pray." The problem was that the cost of the apartments were extremely high, and we couldn't find anything respectable for less than $1200 per month when we wanted to pay less than a thousand dollars of rent per month.

Towards the afternoon, my wife suggested that we go back to Crown Heights because she saw an apartment complex online that advertised large apartments. I wanted to make sure that I was within a mile of the large Jewish community, and this one was 1.3 miles. The apartment complex was a few blocks off of Eastern Parkway, but a few blocks away from the Jewish community. However, we knew that there were thousands of Jews here, so some must have lived here. We saw an apartment complex where the rent was $850 for a large apartment -- new carpets, nice kitchen, nice bedroom. We were very excited to have found a place, and the man showing the apartment said that all we needed to get into the apartment was one of their applications and a $100 deposit. Sweet!

We drove all around looking for the post office, and finally we found on on the other side of town on Empire Blvd (the people working there were very rude, by the way), and we got a $100 money order and drove back to the apartment complex. Happy that we secured our spot, we drove over to one of the restaurants on Kingston Ave. Someone saw me and asked if I was new to the area (my bluish shirt probably gave me away, even though most days I wear white), and I told them of our success. He asked me where I found the apartment, and I told him. He stood up, walked over to me and in a quiet voice, he said, "You made a mistake. That's a dangerous part of town and there are no Jews there. That is outside the community." He proceeded to tell me about the police officer that was recently shot and the Jewish man who was killed in that area a year ago while moving his car to the other side of the street. He then proceeded to make a few phone calls to someone who knew of a few open apartments.

The restaurant owner overheard our conversation and told me that his cousin owns a home which has apartments in it that he rents out. My wife and I were happy to look into it, but we were leaving NY that evening. He made a few phone calls right there on the spot and told us that if we waited half an hour, the guy who owns the house will show us the apartment. It was a beautiful apartment right in the middle of the Jewish neighborhood, and we left a deposit, and so we will soon be Crown Heights residents.

Later on when talking to my wife, while she was very happy that we finally have an apartment (albeit still in a city -- we preferred to have chickens in our back yard), both she and I were annoyed that G-d had to have us lose $100 to find this place. Thinking about it for a moment, if we didn't spend all that time going to the post office and dealing with the rude women behind the desk, we would have gotten dinner one hour early and we would have missed the guy and the whole conversation about housing, and the owner of the restaurant might have never overheard us talking and wouldn't have suggested his cousin's apartment house to us and thus we realized that finding this apartment was completely by divine providence. After thinking about this and relating it to my wife, we both stood there stunned because we were amazed by the coincidences that happened today.

So B"H, I have my attorney job, a salary, and now we have an apartment and a community to live in. I am very excited by the stability that we hope is soon to follow. Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), We have come a very long way from being unemployed and out of law school to being a patent attorney in New York City (the job isn't patent prosecution, but it is close enough doing contract work, licensing, etc.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Resolution of fight with wife... I won.

Just as the bad turned to worse, my wife and I had it out this morning. She was angry that as soon as we got back at my aunt's house where we are staying (she is living in a Jewish boat community in another state for the winter months), I sat down in front of the TV and zoned out. She was still upset that I wasn't holding the baby so that she could look for apartments.

The fight progressed into unrelated topics (when people are angry, it is often hard to stay on topic because so many hurts come to the surface) and then when I returned to the topic of appreciation she said the biggest insult of all which was that I didn't respect her when she went to work for a year while I was home doing who knows what. I almost flipped because I feel even now that I worked harder then than I ever did to find a job because my goal was to give her the home that she deserved and the life that she deserved instead of sending her off to work each day while I did the laundry. Plus, it killed me that she had to work (aka that she had work and I didn't) while I was home and the hardest part was convincing her that while I wasn't bringing in any money, that job hunting was the biggest killer of my energy and time and that I was fully enmeshed in it while she was at work.

Anyway, back to our argument, I saw that she was past the cool and calm point that she usually fights from, and I was also past the calm but highly annoyed point because in a ferocious tone (but still controlled) I told her that she was acting like a "B-I-T-C-H" (even during our argument I spelled it out instead of saying it) and at that point, the fight escalated to her almost crying, but I didn't back off the way I usually do at that point; I wanted to hear what she had to say because I thought that maybe I was wrong.

In short, she was feeling overwhelmed with everything she was doing and she thought I was telling her that she wasn't doing anything right, when I was just telling her that she wasn't doing the apartment hunting right. I then (I was crying at this point, but she didn't notice) told her that she does things as a mother that take so much devotion and skill that I could never do them nearly as good as her and that I am always impressed by the level of love and devotion that she gives our son and that I think she is amazing for being able to do that. Then she softened in her tone, but she couldn't understand why I needed to feel appreciated when she does what she does without the need for appreciation.
I then proceeded to tell her that some people have a need for appreciation and others simply don't; I do. I went into a few examples of why I need appreciation, and that being of the male race, we need it more than females do and this is just the way we are.

As soon as I saw that she acknowledged that I work hard and that she understood that we both worked extremely hard to get to where we are, I softened up because all I wanted from our conversation was to express the need that I needed to feel appreciation because I felt that she wasn't appreciating any of the work that I have done over the time we have known eachother to get us to where we are today.

While I am never proud of fighting with my wife, and while I am not happy with the way things went last night and the majority of this morning's fight (she went to bed without saying goodnight; I slept in another room; we both woke up angry and frazzled), I would say that this turned out to be one of our best fights because I felt that the way we fought in the end made her feel as if I understood her completely without either of us budging one teeny bit from our underlying points. I am not happy that I won the fight, because all in all I did win it, not by destroying her (chos v'sholom -- I never degrade her or insult her, and I try never to even fight in anger), but by communicating skillfully and lovingly. After all, nobody will doubt that she is an amazing mother, and nobody will doubt that she spends every second of her life devoted to our son's every waking moment. She just didn't realize that I was feeling unappreciated for the things we have accomplished.


PS - As I am writing, she is sitting across from me looking at apartments. We spoke about our fight this morning and laughed at the point that I felt that I won this morning's fight -- she said the reason I was so excited about it was because I usually end up being wrong and so winning a fight is a rare thing for me. I love my wife.

Sounds from this blog?

By the way, has anyone noticed any radio, sounds, or music playing when this blog is on? I think there is a programming glitch in the web site which I need to fix.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Friction when joy should be here.

Hi all. I'm very tired from a whole day of packing and traveling back home, and now on top of everything, I am angry and frustrated so I figured I would vent my frustration here on the blog.

The trip to my mother's house overall went well; the next day after the fight it was as if the fight never happened. I thought about saying something to my mom about what happened, but I didn't think that she understood what she did wrong, and I wasn't in the mood for a rehash of the previous night's argument. Yes, calling me selfish shouldn't have set me off, but it was more the fact that my mother was insulting me and calling me names in front of my wife that got me annoyed. One thing that I have found to be paramount to a good relationship is respect by both the husband and the wife for one another, and if I let my mom step all over me, that would have sent a message to my wife that it would have been okay for her to do that too and I don't believe this is kind of interaction would be acceptable in a marriage. I got angry because firstly, she was wrong -- I am far from selfish, and secondly, her actions put me in a situation where my wife was watching how I reacted to my mother's instigations and she would have judged me negatively if I lost my temper.

Now moving forward in time... My wife and I had an argument and I am not so sure I was in the right this time. Happy news, I got a job offer which I accepted just a few days ago. As you know, I worked tirelessly applying to jobs and going on interviews for over a year and I took dead-end jobs with killer hours and sometimes non-existent salaries just to get experience and to pay the bills, and it wasn't easy. There has been a lot going on since with an enormous amount of responsibilities, I have had very little energy when I am not giving my all to the projects I have been working on, or to being a good husband and father by spending quality time with my wife and my son. Since we have been spending so much time away from our non-existent home (we moved out of our apartment as planned and have been living out of a suitcase while visiting either the in-laws or my parents since the end of November) my wife is getting antsy about the fact that we don't have a home to live in. What annoys me is that it was our plan to do this -- move out by the end of November, have a goal to find a job by the beginning of December. Well, G-d took a little longer than we expected, but we are two weeks into December and I have a new job in a new place.

I took responsibility for various things, and the only thing my wife took responsibility for in this whole slew of moving our lives to the next chapter was to find us an apartment, particularly because she had such a strong interest in exactly what it looked like, etc. so to give her what she wanted, I let her take care of the apartment searching.

Needless to say, she has dabbled in apartment hunting, but I don't think she has done anything substantial. I haven't faulted her for this, nor have I even said anything to her, but now (tonight) she started a tirade of complaining that it was my fault that she didn't find an apartment because I wasn't taking care of the baby and she can't live out of a suitcase anymore and that she wants to live in a hotel until we find an apartment.

As per her claims, I don't deny that she spends a majority of time taking care of the baby -- she is an amazing mother and devotes her whole life to taking care of our baby. She stays up at nights for him, feeds him and holds him, takes care of his napping schedule, takes care of his eating schedule, and she cottles him when he needs her attention. As things would have it, I am our son's entertainment. I hold him quite frequently and I give my wife as many breaks as I possibly can, and I play with him multiple times daily. I talk to him, play with him, and watch him, and although I sometimes feed him or bathe him or change his diaper, the quantity of times I have done this doesn't hold a candle to the number of times my wife does it regularly. However, the last thing someone would say is that I am lazy -- I am more involved in my son's life and I spend significantly more time each hour with him than most fathers would with their sons. I just feel that the way my wife and I have been built with regard to what each of us can contribute to the baby, she takes care of the things she does because she was made for this. She never let me give him formula because twice when he was an infant, he vomited from it, and so we rely on her to feed him.

Okay, I'm tired and off topic. However, in short, she is nudging me about not finding an apartment when this was the only responsibility she has taken on other than taking care of the baby in the capacity of a mother. I would be happy to go out and find an apartment, but then it is she that wanted the task and it is she that has to ultimately live in it. I am just annoyed because I feel that I have done my part by taking care of everything that I needed to and she hasn't done her part that she committed to. You can be critical of me by saying that we should be working together as a team, but that means that she should be doing her part.

All this being said, I feel that it is important for each of us to do what we are supposed to do, and while she sleeps late while I wake up early in the morning to go to minyan and to work and to learn Torah and to go back to school and get the degree and to take care of our finances and to constantly cater to her needs and to be a good father and to be a good husband, I get frustrated when she doesn't understand when I am burnt out and low in energy and when I cannot do her part as well.

I know I'm not saying much, but I am just ranting because I am not feeling appreciated. Maybe she isn't feeling appreciated either, but I don't understand how because I've gone far beyond what a husband should do for his wife on so many levels. I'm not fighting with her and our communication is open, but for the moment I am feeling a bit overwhelmed because she is causing a bit of friction between us when I feel that she should be very excited from the job we have landed and from the lifestyle I am about to provide for her. I just want her to be proud of me and appreciative of the work I have done to get us where we are.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Strained Relationship with Mother

I know it has been so long since I've written consistently and I've probably lost all of you as readers, so I suppose this blog entry will be seen by few if any.

I am in California visiting my mom with my wife and my son. We came here because I needed a break from my not-so-full-time job which wasn't bringing in any money. Actually, we came here because we thought it would be a vacation where my wife and I would give my mother who has been an absentee grandmother living all the way on the west coast next to the richest neighborhood in the country a chance to spend some quality time with our son. Obviously, having the opportunity to have a babysitter is also what we wanted, along with a chance to spend some quality time with my wife who has been so helpful and patient during these hard financial months.

My mother has been very kind to us, driving us wherever we want to go, and cooking for us and giving us her every moment of time, but something has been wrong. She has not been letting my wife and me move around and she has held us back from getting our own transportation essentially secluding us in and around her apartment. We tried to rebel by wanting to go off on our own and to rent our own car, but then she turned kind and generous and offered us her car only to revoke that offer every time we need it. We decided that this is the way grandmas house is and that we'll remember to get our own car and our own hotel next time we come to visit.

However, as nice as we have been, tonight my mom turned nasty. Over the many years we have all had issues with my mom and computers, or her intentional lack of knowledge regarding them. I learned early to avoid computer conversations with her, but my sister has always gotten sucked into them always leading to fights. Tonight she told my mom to hit "refresh" regarding one of my mom's computer problems. She asked me how and I told her "hit the F5 button." When she told me that nothing was happening, I told her that I wouldn't help her further because obviously I didn't want to get into one of those conversations with her. She then started mumbling to herself and calling me names. She called out, "you are selfish!". After calling me selfish, I walked over to her and quietly (but angrily and forcefully) said, "don't you ever call me selfish and don't you ever embarass me in front of my wife."

While she was wrong in what a mother-in-law should and should not say to poison the relationship between a mother and a son, and while I was wrong for saying a "don't you dare" to my mother because that showed lack of respect for my mother, I am hurt because I feel that my mother was uncarefully playing games with my life and with my family by trying to make me lose my cool in front of my wife, all because I wouldn't help her with her computer.

Now I am upset because I feel that my relationship with my mother is strained, and this could be a permanent strain. Between you and me, I really just want to pack up and leave this place. This environment is poisonous for my family.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Waiting for an offer...

I had one of those good conversations with my wife the other day where I felt really good that she was able to hear me. I confided in her that I was scared for us and for our son because it didn't look like a job was going to happen any time soon. [I know I wasn't going to dwell on this, but it is on my mind.]

I've been joking with myself and with G-d that maybe I'll go back to school for an EE degree. But all this time, I've been hoping to just get a job and start working. I've been going on interviews for non-patent related jobs (one even as a paralegal), but surprisingly, nothing has turned into an offer.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm annoyed (and scared) that you have a degree and you come from a top school and yet you still have problems getting an IP job.

I've received a few e-mails and comments from people who are in the same place as I am... Married with a child, survived law school, passed the bar, passed the patent bar, but have no technical science background, or at least no undergraduate degree they can use to get a job at a patent law firm.

Yet I don't want you to join my pity party. My posts are my feelings and my expressions. There is work for people who can handle the technical side of it. While I cannot (yet), I will be able to soon.

Then there are those of you who compassionately tell me "you barked up the wrong tree. Patent law is not for you, neither is IP law." While you might be right, there is nothing else I could do except knock down doors and make it happen, because being past the USPTO exam, I am too far along to just say "oh well." [RANT:] I might not be an ivy league lawyer who carries my school name as a badge in order to get ahead in life, but I *am* an authentic lawyer who worked extremely hard to get where I am.

For some reason, the world is all screwy and the prestige of the school you come from determines who will hire you or even look at your resume. I hope to G-d that one day your badge burns and employers look at you for who you are, not what school mascot is on your ring. If I could have gone to a top school, I would have, but unlike your natural talents (a.k.a. minimal effort, maximum reward), I worked day and night studying like who knows what to ace the LSATs, but instead, my score was only slightly above average, as has always been the case when it came to my schooling, my grades, and my education.

I went to a state school for college because that was all I was told I could ever attend. I applied to two schools, got into both of them, and attended the one that was more in line with my aspirations. (Believe it or not, in high school, my guidance counselor told me, "perhaps you are not the kind of person that should go to college.") Even in high school, I ambitiously reached for the advanced placement classes and the honors classes [which consequently caused my grades to decline because the work was so much harder and I even got kicked out of AP European History because I wasn't understanding the material like my classmates were] while the morons in remedial classes got into Yale.

I went to college against my guidance counselor's advice and I worked hard to survive in college. Then when it came to doing the work, I always worked as hard as I could, and the same went for the LSAT studies. But my scores were what they were and my school was the best I could have gotten into, and I am a lawyer today because I did the best I could. We didn't have curves in our school that make everyone look like they have a 4.0 like you do. We had to work hard for our grades, and one day I hope someone finds that out.

Ending my flow of feelings and anger towards those who had it easy in life (and respecting those who sincerely worked for what they achieved without shortcuts from mommy and daddy), I feel that doors into the elite world of ivy have always been closed to me because at some point in the past I chose to reach for the top and I couldn't cut it. But I always wonder why are my grades always haunting me? I was always an average student, often above average, but not by that much. I wonder how much chance I ever had at getting to my goals, or have the odds been stacked against me from the beginning. Okay, obviously I'm in a bad mood and its because I'm tired and it is 4am and I must get to sleep.

Overall on this blog, I need to get onto other topics. My job life (or lack thereof) has been quite depressing lately, and I'm sure it has been a bore for you too. Nevertheless, I have a feeling that life will be changing very shortly. This blog is meant to be for personal development, not for those to join me in a puddle of stagnation about my lack of opportunities and G-d's sense of humor.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Philips presents the future of pregnancy.

Now based on what happened with our pregnancy, I'm not exactly for probing into the womb to check in on the baby except for justified medical reasons where there is a cause for concern, however I was floored and highly impressed by the technology shown in this video.

What happened with our pregnancy was that the doctors did the usual ultrasound and did their measurements on my wife. They determined that my wife was carrying too much water and that the baby was not growing properly. We went for a second ultrasound a month later when the doctors told us that our baby most likely either had Downs Syndrome or would be a dwarf. The doctor suggested that although it is illegal in our state state to do an abortion, that we consider going to another state to get one.

Being frum, my wife and I were horrified at the suggestion and after the doctor suggested a procedure called amniocentesis where they surgically invade the womb to check for Downs Syndrome with a needle, we said thank you and declined, and we NEVER WENT BACK FOR ANY FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENTS.

For months, we were prepared for something to be genetically incorrect with our son, and Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), he came out perfect. Now he is five months old, and every time we think of that story, we cringe.

We kept this story a secret from pretty much everyone we knew (except for my mashpia who told me that this is likely not a problem because doctors typically over-diagnose just to be safe to protect themselves from a lawsuit just in case something really was wrong), but after hearing my wife speak about it openly, I felt that it was appropriate to share this story with you.

November Job Status Update

Wow, it's been three months since my last post.

To bring you up to date, nothing much in terms of results in getting a patent attorney job has changed. I've been on a few interviews, and in each interview, I've been hearing the same thing:
"So, you have a philosophy degree, eh? Do you know about X [usually something like communications]? What about Y [then something about hi-tech or biotech or something like that]? Well, if you don't know about these areas, then you will be unable to prosecute the patents for the clients we serve. We are looking for someone who has a Z degree (they usually say electrical engineering here), and without that degree, you are of no use to us. We'll get back to you and let you know."
At that point, the interview typically ends.

...So the short and skinny of it is that it doesn't look like I'll be getting a job as a patent attorney, and so I'm so close to giving up and changing fields that my heart hurts at the prospect of this move.

To adjust, the past week I've looked into patent/Intellectual Property (IP) litigation, but while it is difficult to get into it, I feel that is the best home for my skills and my abilities. However, it is a dim chance that someone will hire me without experience, so I need to find some litigation job (state/federal/general/local) that will give me experience and motion practice ideally in the federal courtroom, and once I have a few years of that experience, I'll be able to side-step into an IP litigation firm and use my patent attorney license to litigate patent infringement issues.

This is a sad turn of events for me, but the reality of it is that at least I'm realizing where I am and where I need to be. I just wish I learned this hard fact that A PATENT ATTORNEY FROM A LOW-TIERED LAW SCHOOL WITHOUT A HARD TECHNICAL SCIENCE DEGREE CANNOT PRACTICE AS A PATENT ATTORNEY.

Additionally, my wife and I are moving out of our apartment in the end of November, so we're looking for a Jewish (preferably Chabad/Lubavich) community to move into, and it doesn't matter which state we go to, as long as the cost of living is reasonable.

All this being said, I feel good. I am a tatty, and my son is 5 months old, and there is Shalom Bayis (peace) between my wife and myself, even though I know me not having a job is quite stressful for her. That being said, we are not poor, chos v'sholom, as I have always been smart about saving for a storm, and it is raining. We have literally just a few liquid dollars in the bank and so things are very tight, but I am hoping we will make it through and G-d will provide for us by somehow getting me hired at a law firm.

Lastly, I know that G-d doesn't make mistakes, and everything is done for a reason. Thus, while I cannot see His mater plan for me and my family, I know that I didn't just waste over a year taking and passing the patent bar exam and wasting my time applying to literally hundreds of patent prosecution firms. Somehow, my patent attorney license must come into use at some point in the future, because otherwise it would have been a waste and I don't think G-d would do that to me, especially since I've been working so hard to be his servant.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Follow-up: Whether to go back to school.

[I am sneakily inserting this post into my blog and back-dating it so that I don't mess up the look of the site.]

The issue I have been dealing with is whether or not to go back to school. Obviously from my discussions with literally 30-40 patent attorneys on this subject, they have all said the same thing -- a patent attorney must have a technical science degree to practice patent law.

While I have been on the dream that I can get around this because I have 40 science credits (pre-med undergrad) and because I was eligible for, took, and passed the USPTO patent registration exam, I need to face reality -- namely, that either I go back to school or I drop the crusade of becoming a patent attorney.

The main degree that law firms want these days is an electrical engineering (EE) degree, or a PhD in Chemistry/Biology/or the other hard sciences. Computer science is the next in the list, but few firms want this over an EE degree. After this, all the other engineering degrees (mechanical, etc) are next in the list.

My wife and I have determined that it makes no sense to go back to school full-time and become a student again because we have a baby and my wife is no longer working and is home full-time with the baby, so the burden of paying our rent is on me alone. Thus, enrolling full-time as a student no longer is financially an option, so we have looked into part-time and online programs, and here is what I've found.

The State University of New York (SUNY) has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering program, but it is not a 4-year program. Rather, it kicks in only once you've completed the first two-years of the program. So, I'm around 1.5 years away from getting all the pre-requisites to even enter this program, and then once I do, it is only a two-year program if you are a full-time student (15-18 credits per semester). Part time (e.g. 6 credits per semester, this program will take around 4-5 years to complete). This is a killer solution, but it is a killer on our finances and our life.

The next solution we found is a Masters in Computer Science at Ellis College (NY Institute of Technology) which could be finished in a year and a half, but it is quite expensive and I'm not sure how firms would value this degree. The SUNY program does not disclose on the degree that it was an online program, but this degree gives it away based on the school that would be on the degree which gives it a lower value. Plus, I am not sure how much computer science patent attorneys are in demand, especially from an online part-time school that is not so highly valued. Lastly, to enter this program, I also have around a year of pre-requisites to take before even being accepted into the program -- funny enough, the pre-requisite courses are the same as those for the electrical engineering program (e.g. Linear Algebra, Programming, etc.)

So far I haven't found any other alternatives. If I don't go into school, I feel as if being a patent attorney is no longer a real option as a field to practice in, and I would need to find another field. The difficult thing is that coming from my low-tiered school, I was relying on the USPTO patent attorney license to raise me up from the reputation of my school and convince a firm to overlook where I come from. Please don't get me wrong -- I love my school. However, the real statistics are that *if* a graduate from my school passes the bar exam (which I did after some real studying), there is a slim-to-none chance that he or she will find a respectable job, if ever. Without working in a specialized field, I feel like I am just another one of the pack searching for the generalist low-paying jobs, and I wonder why I went to law school in the first place.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

To go back to school or not to go??

Since my last post, my wife and I decided that since all I need to continue working is my laptop and and internet connection, that it would be a nice thing if we could go visit my wife's family in California. So we booked tickets, and since for the past week, I've been sitting in their kitchen working while my wife and her family coo, cuddle, and play with the baby.

I'm not sad about this arrangement, and although I've been working non-stop, it is nice to see my wife playing with her little sister and interacting with her parents. They are also getting an enormous amount of pleasure playing with the baby who has recently started smiling, laughing, and responding to our voices. Last night, after he wouldn't stop crying, I put him on my shoulder and he relaxed to sleep within seconds -- it was the cutest thing.

Otherwise, my life has been work-work-work, without a break. I am working remotely over the VPN, where they are sending me patents to kill, but the patents have been quite difficult lately. It is hard working day and night knowing that you won't get paid on a file you're already put 50 hours into unless you find prior patents which make the current patent obvious or invalid, and then only making $300 *IF* you are able to kill all the claims in the patent. I would do anything for a job right now, and I mean it! I've even been looking to relocate to other states to find a position as an attorney, even if that means going into another field.

Alternatively, I have been talking with my wife and considering going back to school to pick up the degree I am so dearly missing. While I have a chemistry background (through coursework only, not by major), my wife and I were talking about even going back to school to get an electrical engineering, chemistry, or related degree so that I can be more marketable within the workplace.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Resolution of Conflict

Last night after fuming to the point that I was ready to start a fight I tried talking calmly to my wife who was already defensive, argumentative, and upset at me from my previous tirades.

I spoke to her calmly, and thank G-d she's a good-hearted person. She listened to me and heard me out which is exactly what I needed. She then gave me her advice and after a bit of arguing, etc. we kind of got an understanding of each other.

Yesterday was not one of my highlights of being a husband, but it does show how one miscommunication after the other can build up to a huge fight where we were fighting and getting angry at every minute detail of the things the other was doing when in fact we were angry about something else. Namely, she was upset about me having a "poor-me" mentality, and I was upset about her not supporting me.

This morning was much better. We woke up, had coffee, talked about what needed to get done today, and she went off to the store and I went to work at the dining room table. We were very polite to each other (which is the key to getting along in a marriage -- being polite to one another) and I was happy that our fight was over.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Completed the Synthetic Organic Patent!

I can't believe I completed this patent! It was killer. In order to do this patent, I needed to understand this patent (where the chemistry was quite tough), and then I needed to find in the prior art a patent which did the same thing. After days of searching non-stop, I started to feel as if all of the chemical compounds were looking the same. Finally, I stumbled onto something that worked. I called my new (third) boss who gave me great advice on how to render the claims in our application obvious and invalid based on the prior art that I found. I wrote up the paperwork, and I submitted it around 6pm tonight.

I feel so relaxed that I got this done. It was a lot of work, but it was a triumph that I was able to complete this -- in three days, no less! I was expecting to take over a week on this. Halleluyah!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Synthetic Organic patents, here I come!

This coming week will be quite exciting for me. I will get a chance to do a prior art search / validation search on a synthetic organic patent -- one that is over 300 pages in length and is totally complex for me! I figure that if I will be able to do this, then I can become familiar with synthetic organic patents which will score me the job in the patent prosecution field I can't wait to get into! I will be devoting all week to learning how to do a search on this kind of patent.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Boss Problems

My second week wasn't so bad. I was very frustrated most of the week because I had one of my patent files due, but my new boss for the file would not return any of my phone calls. When I finally climbed the chain of command in the company, I finally got to her boss who called her at her home and yelled at her why she didn't return any of my phone calls or e-mails. She then proceeded to yell at me as if it was my fault she didn't answer her phone for days at a time when the file was coming due.

In short, I told her that her behavior was unprofessional and that if I spent the time doing research on the patent and writing my opinion validating and invalidating the claims, the least she could do is return my phone calls and read my e-mails. Or, at the very least, e-mail me or call me telling me that she is unavailable and giving me a time that she would be available. She disagreed with me and acted childish, and later on that day, she called me up and apologized for her behavior.

I worked the rest of the day and the following day and I finished up the file and submitted it. A day or so later, payment for that file AND the file I did earlier last week (the one that was pulled from my docket) was approved. This was great! I checked it out and apparently, they liked my work on the first file, even though they pulled the file from my docket. In short, they realized that I worked on the case sufficiently to complete it, but my boss did not help me out so they paid me anyway.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Job Stresses

The patent attorney position was very exciting for me because I was actually doing the work of a patent attorney. This is what I worked towards for so many years! Thank G-d I've finally been given the opportunity to work in the field I trained in.

In short, the position as I understand it is that I am a pre-examiner for a law firm who has been contracted by the foreign wing of the US patent office to examine patents before the examiners get to them. The USPTO has been quite backlogged these past few years, and so I am one of the attorneys who are working on the files that have taken quite a while for the examiners to get to. I have access to the same resources as the patent examiners, and so I can see what they see which on the one hand is exciting for me, and on the other hand is a bummer because they are a bit not yet up to date on the searching technology they use.

My first case was a killer, probably because it had so many sub-parts to it. It wasn't one invention, it was around 5 or 6 crammed into one patent. Further, above me is a boss for each of my patent files, and my boss wasn't too helpful in helping me search for prior art references. In fact, I found him to be quite on the lazy side in that he didn't want to help me in searching for the references I could not find. He just wanted to get paid his portion of what he would get paid when I turned in the file.

I worked on that case for over 50 hours before I submitted the file for my boss' review. During my prior art searching, I regularly sent my boss status updates so that he can see which references I am using and could comment (or give me constructive advice) on what I was doing. "Great job!" he said over and over again... Well, when I submitted the file, I realized that he hadn't been reading any of the work that I have been doing because he rejected my work telling me that a prior art reference that I used (and that I asked him about before I used it) had a publication date later than the priority date / filing date of the patent application that I was examining. In US law, it's the filing date that takes priority in a dispute between two applications. In foreign patent law, it is the publication date that takes precedence. How was I supposed to know this? I am a US patent attorney, not a foreign patent attorney. In short, my opinion and the 50 hours I spent was for nothing. On top of that, my incompetent boss complained to his bosses about me and told them I was incompetent.

Honestly, I will accept blame for mistakes when I make them, but I checked this reference with my boss before I used it. Had he taken any time to read my e-mails or actually do due diligence in answering me properly, he would have caught that mistake before I used it rather than 50 hours later after applying that patent to every claim in the application. I was very annoyed and the law firm removed the case from my docket, which means that I don't get paid on it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Took a job as a Patent Attorney doing VPN Remote Work

Wow, I can't believe that it has been almost a month since I've written. I can't say things are better. In fact, things have deteriorated a bit based on my mood which seems to be affecting everybody around me. Since I know I have a lot to say, I'll break this post into bite-sized parts. This is part I.

Around a month ago, I took a temporary document review job in a law firm that paid almost nothing and had a 5 hour daily commute (around 2 hours each way), but because my wife was on maternity and we lost her salary, I felt that it would be better to work so that we could pay the bills, so I took the job.

The job cut off any free time I had to apply to patent attorney positions, and because I was leaving at 6am and getting home at sometimes 10pm or 11pm, I wasn't spending much time with my wife. Further, we were starting to feel the stress of the job on our relationship because I was tired all the time. Combining all that with the fact that the document review bosses ran the position like a sweatshop, the money didn't seem worth it after a while.

Around the same time I received a job offer as a patent attorney working remotely, where I would be reviewing patent applications and finding prior art to invalidate them. I called it the "dark patent attorney" position because our job as patent attorneys is to write patents and create new patents, not to kill them. This seemed like the evil side of the coin. The only problem is that it didn't pay nearly as much as my temporary position, and it had a very steep learning curve. To become an expert searcher of patents, it would take weeks if not months of work, and the pay would not be good until I got good at it.

After talking to my wife about the fact that the document review position would be over in a few months coupled with the fact that I would be unemployed in a month or so again, we decided that it would be wise to leave the document review position and take the remote patent attorney position.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For almost two years now, I've been writing two blogs simultaneously, each with its own set of rules.

My first blog is my public blog -- that blog is the one with my real name and my real information on it. However, the problem with that blog is that my friends and family know about it, so I have to be very careful what I write on it.

My second blog is this blog -- Frumpter. This is my anonymous blog, where for the past few years I have enjoyed the liberties of having a free exchange of thought, where I can write whatever is happening in my life -- the uncensored version -- without fear that my close friends and family (and prospective employers and others with snooping eyes who might do a search on my real name) will find out what is on my mind, or what I think of them or the situations I go through when the situations may be politically, religiously, or socially charged.

I found this solution of having two blogs to be the ideal. I post pictures on one blog, and on the other, I write what I think or the private things that I need to sort out. The benefit of this is that I have you -- the readers -- who have been so helpful in giving unbiased advice which has benefited my life in ways I cannot express, and I am grateful for the feedback you have given me over the years.

Occasionally, I have some people from my private life stumble onto this anonymous site, and since the events written about on this blog are so unmistakably those of my life (coupled with my writing style), my identity is immediately exposed and the person who stumbles onto this site, smiles and thinks, "I know EXACTLY who you are."

So to those valued friends who have decided to start reading from THIS blog instead of from the blog I have made public to you, I say "welcome aboard, enjoy the juicy details of my private life, and shhhh.... please keep this site to yourself."

[The toughest thing a blogger has to do -- especially when he or she has developed a solid readership and people start telling other people who the author of the blog it and the anonymity is diminished -- is to make the blog disappear (e.g. "oops, computer failure wiped out the blog") and to sadly start anew from scratch with a new blog name and web address leaving all his or her old blog readers behind.]

Which company's questions to use during bar exam study

For those of you taking the bar exam, I received an e-mail from a friend today asking which questions he should study from to prepare for the bar exam -- Barbri questions? Pieper questions? PMBR questions? questions?

My answer was a resounding "YES."

I heard one of the bar exam speakers discussing it after a class. He said that one company legally doesn't have any leg up on any other company -- they all have access to the same questions. Of course, you've heard about the rumor of PMBR getting caught sneaking questions out from the bar exam, but know that it could have been PMBR that has circulated that rumor.

My experience is that all the questions are identical. The "Strategies & Tactics" book questions are easier to teach you how to take exam questions. The PMBR questions are your primary source for questions just because there are SO MANY of them. Barbri and Pieper's questions are about on par, each saying theirs are better. (my favorite because I used to spend countless hours on the computer in law school) 1) because their information is ONLINE, 2) because your progress is TRACKABLE (so you can see how you are doing on various topics and you can figure out which topics need work and which don't, 3) you have an online running of how everyone else did a) in your area, and b) nationally, and how many questions the average person answered -- that way you can keep up to par with everyone else taking, and 4) their questions were totally simplistic, but they would REPEAT questions OVER AND OVER, which was annoying for me until I realized that each time they ask a question, THEY VARY THE FACT PATTERN SLIGHTLY to come to a different answer -- this seriously helped me to come to the realization that IT IS NOT ONLY KNOWING HOW TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS that will give you points on the MBE, but that THERE ARE ONLY A CERTAIN LIMITED NUMBER OF WAYS that a question on any topic can be asked, and this will follow a certain pattern. This is what I learned from

So in short, your source of questions is hands down PMBR, and you will do the most good if you review the answers right after you do a group (say 20-50) of questions -- this way, you'll learn the distinctions. Your BarBri/Pieper question book is invaluable for state law because that is not covered in the PMBR book. Adaptibar is good only if 1) you will use it a lot, and 2) if you take advantage of their tracking features.

I hope this helps.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

No Science Degree... Argh.

It's very nice when everything is going your way, but when reality crashes down around you, things begin to seem a bit more dark.

I have been thinking strongly about the feedback I have been receiving over and over from law firms. They say I have no science degree, and they are right.

In college, I was a philosophy major. I am not quite sure why I did that -- perhaps I just wanted to graduate, and I didn't think that it mattered what I majored in, as long as I had the desire to succeed. I did take a science concentration, but that was to fulfill the pre-med requirements. Law school and patent law were the furthest thing from my mind -- I didn't even know they existed when I was in college.

Anyway, I've been kicking myself all day for not having the foresight to realize that a chemistry degree would have been the wise thing to do. I can't stop thinking about all those semesters I wasted on what?!? Descartes? Plato? Kant? I remember why I did the philosophy degree -- I wanted to be well rounded.

So the result? I'm having the hardest time getting employed as a patent attorney. I actually want to cry about this. This is really bothering me to the point that I spent all morning researching whether I should go back to school for a summer and a year to get my undergraduate chemistry degree. My wife and friends though say it is not feasible because I have responsibilities to attend to. I agree with them.

I'm going to write a letter to the Lubavicher Rebbe. I need help and a blessing.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Zoe Strickman... a TATTY

I have some exciting news. I am a tatty!

The baby is a boy. He was born May 19th, 2007 (2 Sivan), on my Hebrew (and English) birthday. He weighs 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and he is 20 inches long. He has beautiful brown eyes, and a cute little round head. He is totally interactive, and he loves to cuddle and sleep in our arms.

The day before the baby was born, I heard my wife tell the baby, "tomorrow is a good day to come." The following morning, she is totally excited telling me knock knock jokes ("...knock knock. Who's there? Baby Strickman is coming today!") Half awake, I couldn't tell if she was kidding or not. When it occurred to me that she was serious, we got ready, hopped in the car, and drove to the hospital.

The whole day was taken up saying Tehillim (psalms). Specifically, I learned that the Lubavicher Rebbe in wrote in the beginning of Sefer Toldos Admur Maharash that,
"According to the instructions issued by the Tzemach Tzedek to his sons during the birth of the Rebbe Maharash, the following chapters of Tehillim are recited: 1, 2, 3, 4, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 33, 47, 86, 90, 91, 92, 93, 104, 112, and 113 to the end."
So I spent the whole day by my wife's side, catering to her every need. Every moment I had free, I read the book of Tehillim, and I focused on those chapters, along with chapters 20, 23, 30 [my chapter], 27 [her chapter], and 106 [the Rebbe's chapter]. I said so much Tehillim that day I thought my head was going to explode. I did so fervently because my Rabbi said, "Zoe, you should say Tehillim all the way until after the baby is born because the words you say can affect your wife's health and the health of the baby. So, you can never say too much tehillim." Later, when my baby was handed to me, I felt that the whole experience was worth it.

Since the birth on Friday, I spent Shabbos at the hospital so that I can be there with my wife. The baby is adorable. Tonight since shabbos ended, I came back to the apartment, and I spent the evening setting up furniture, strollers, etc. My wife and my newborn son come home from the hospital tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Niddah During Pregnancy REVERSED!

After the last post, a man named Moshe wrote me this comment to my last post. B'kitzur, my 9-month pregnant wife had a medical exam, and during the exam, she was cut down in her area by the doctor. She felt pain when it happened, and later found blood on the toilet paper when she urinated.

That night as soon as it happened, I called the town Rabbi and told him the details, and he told me there was a presumption that since the blood came from that area, she is Niddah. However, after Moshe's comment which came to me by e-mail on Friday right before Shabbos, I went back to the Rabbi with his letter.

After hearing what we had to say (me and the letter), the Rabbi and I went back and forth asking and answering questions about the size of the stain of blood, the color, etc. After mentioning that she felt the pain when the cut happened, he exclaimed, "She felt pain when she was cut??? That changes the whole situation!!" Apparently I left this small detail out in our previous conversations.

A few minutes later, the Rabbi called me up and told me that the fact that she felt pain changed the whole situation. That, on top of the fact that she is pregnant and is not supposed to have a period -- AND the fact that the stain was NOT on a white cloth, but on a piece of toilet paper -- AND the fact that she didn't stick the toilet paper inside which would have created a question of whether the toilet paper was a bedika -- but rather, she just dabbed the toilet paper on the surface -- the presumption of Niddah had been broken and we had created enough coolas [doubts] by all these factors combined to safely say that my wife was not a Niddah.

This story alone is enough to justify to anyone why blogging is valuable to me and to my marriage. Sometimes I just don't know the answers and by having you review my stories and my issues when they arise, your objective opinions have helped find a valuable solution. This has happened over and over during the course of the past few years. In this case, it helped break a presumption of something as serious as Niddah.

Had Moshe not written that letter to me through his comment on my blog, my wife and I would have counted five days, after the fifth day, she would have done a hefsek tahara, and she would have had to check herself with a bedika cloth [a cloth used to check for blood] for seven clean days before she would have immersed in a mikveh. All this would have had to been done before I would have been allowed to have any physical contact - even a touch on the shoulder - with her.

Also, the difficult thing was that since the baby is so close to being due, chances are that by the time this whole Tahara [purity] cleansing process would have been finished, my wife would have already have gone into labor, and having a baby makes the wife Niddah for a six-week period before she goes to the mikveh. So if you add six-weeks to the two-weeks (give or take) it would have taken to make her Tahara again, that would have been a long time that I couldn't touch or have any physical contact with my wife. Thank you Moshe.

On a mystical side note, my rabbi mentioned that it is a Segula [a sort of mystical blessing that is brought down by a particular physical action done during a particular time] for pregnant women to go to the mikveh. When they do this, they bring down blessings for the other women going to the mikveh after them to have a child. So with this occurance, my Rabbi told me that my wife should go to the mikveh [and jokingly added "a few times"] so that she could help other women have children from this potential disaster. My wife heard this and said that she would be willing to do this, especially the night she would have gone to the mikveh had she been a Niddah, because perhaps there is a woman who would have gone afterwards that was having trouble having a child.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Niddah During Pregnancy from Medical Checkup

Okay, onto the exciting part of the evening.

My wife is expecting our first child next month, which means that she is in her 9th month of our pregnancy.

Tonight her doctor did a test to see whether she ever had strep throat, because if she did, she might pass that to the baby during labor and birth which could be dangerous to the baby.

However, when she was doing the procedure, my wife felt a bit of pressure because the doctor cut my wife inside her vaginal area. Later, my wife was urinating, and after checking the toilet paper, she saw blood. "Houston, we have a problem," she said.
Normally, religious women who are in a Tahara [ritual purity] state don't look at what comes out of them from that area because if it is blood, then she might be in a state of Niddah [ritual impurity]. The presumption is that if blood comes from the vagina, then regardless of whether it came from the vaginal walls or the uterus, she is Niddah. Pregnant women as a general rule do not get their period, therefore they do not enter the state of Niddah. However, after my wife bled from her cut, the situation was different.
We called the local rabbi and my mashpia, and after a few phone calls, my wife and I understood the situation: she is now 9 months pregnant and is in a state of Niddah. So now we have to wait 5 days, and then she does a Hefsek Tahara, where she begins counting 7 clean days using a bedika cloth. After counting 7 clean days, she goes to the mikveh [ritual bath]... or by then the delivery room.

The interesting thing about the timing of this is that the laws of family purity (Taharas HaMishpacha) help a couple bond and become closer through their physical distance from each other. By not being permitted to sleep in the same bed, to cuddle, or even to be intimate, the couple becomes sensitized to each other and as a result, they become closer. By not being able to touch, when they are allowed to touch again, the feelings get heightened and more exciting.

Our situation is that my wife got pregnant immediately after our wedding, so after our first time being separated after the wedding, we never had to count days of cleanliness, and we never had to separate for purposes of Taharas HaMishpacha more than once. Thus, intimacy became the norm and being able to touch each other whenever we wanted lost some of it's forbidden pleasure. Thank G-d now, right before the baby is born when my wife will have entered a Niddah state upon the baby's birth and we will have had to be separate for six weeks, after she goes through this cycle of becoming Tahara, we will IY"H have around a week and a half to be together physically before she gives birth to our first child.

A "Document Review" Paycheck

It has been almost a month since my last post because my life has been pretty ordinary until tonight. My days have been spent contacting patent law firms and intellectual property law firms across the United States with emphasis in the Colorado, New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia, and Minnesota states.

Additionally, I have been putting in around 12 hours daily posting my resume to job sites and e-mailing recruiters and networking.

Last week for the first time, I had a quick 25 hour job at a document review firm in Denver where I had the chance to sit in front of the computer and review documents for a second request from the Department of Justice. Basically, that entailed looking through thousands of documents and checking ["tagging"] them as to whether or not they apply to the case at hand.

This is my life. The jist of it is that since my wife will be losing most (75%) of her paycheck in a few weeks because she is going to be having our first child and going on maternity leave, I feel that the quickest way to replace her income is through these temporary document review recruiters. Unfortunately, while a patent attorney makes close to six figures, I have an interview on Tuesday to meet with a recruiter about a document review project in another state (a 1.5 hour drive, plus traffic) which pays $25/hr. This amounts to roughly $1000/wk working 40 hours per week which will be slightly higher than what my wife is currently making. The tough thing to grasp is that the average document review project pays between $35/hr to $40/hr. At least this will be a paycheck.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Admission Ceremony

The NY admission ceremony was calm and exciting. At one point, I wondered whether this is what it is like when people swear in to be a US Citizen. Then they called roll call. As they went from A-Z, they didn't call my name. I took out my admission ticket and I wrote my name on the ticket, and just as I was about to pass my name to the speaker telling him that he forgot my name, he started to call names for the next district, and I was one of the first to be called. Feeling a bit silly, I placed my written name back in my pocket and said "present". The man standing next to me giggled.

The interesting thing that I noticed was that nobody asked for my ID or my invitation card. In fact, anybody could have stood there and taken the oath to become a NYS Attorney, and nobody would have known the difference. At the end, instead of sitting down to sign the registry, he or she could have just walked out and felt good that he took the oath. While that would be fun, I was both happy and relieved that everything was over. At every step of the way -- admission to law school, getting through every semester, studying and taking the bar, studying and taking the patent bar, character and fitness review, etc., I feared that something would come up that would be a stumbling block to me becoming an attorney. But happily, the whole process is complete.

The next thing on my agenda is getting admitted as a patent attorney. I have passed the exam as you know, and as of this minute, my name is published in the USPTO's Official Gazette of potential patent attorneys -- this is their Character and Fitness portion of the admission. If nobody objects to my admission, in a few days, the deadline for sending in an objection will have passed, and one week later, I will get my patent registration number, and B"H I will have arrived at the goal I set over five years ago -- to become a patent attorney.

Have a kosher and freiliche Pesach, and I'll write some more as soon as more happens.

Now admitted as a New York Attorney

Okay, so here is the skinny on my life since my last post. In short, as of yesterday, I am now an attorney licensed to practice law in New York State. Funny enough, I'm not yet admitted in Colorado, my home state. However, my wife and I flew in and in return, now I am a New York State Attorney. We are staying by a few friends here in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and we will be flying back home to finish Pesach cleaning in our modest apartment later this week before Shabbos.

Based on my MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) scores, as you know, I am eligible to be admitted into the District of Columbia and Minnesota without taking their state bar exams. That is quite exciting for me because that means that I can be a Patent Attorney in those states -- this will make my wife happier because I hear that weather is much nicer there than here in Denver. Sadly, my argument about not being an attorney admitted in other states has now gone out the window, because now I can be one in other states. In a discussion with my wife, she told me that she would be willing to live on Long Island or in the suburbs around the city, but just like at home in Denver, the fast Brooklyn, NY lifestyle is not the kind of lifestyle she'd want to live in. However, she did agree that if I got a job here, she'd be willing to move here.

So that's pretty much it. I blanketed the United States with resumes (except for Colorado and New York -- I wanted to save those resumes for when I was admitted) and I've begun receiving rejection letters from firms around the country, just like I did in 2005. However, now that I am admitted in NY (and I hope to soon be admitted in Colorado), I will send out resumes to Intellectual Property firms in those states, and hopefully a job will come from that. Oh, I'll also do the same for DC and Minnesota when I get sworn into those states as well.

Truthfully, between you and me, all I need is to be admitted in Colorado. NY, DC, MN -- these are all extras which give my resume a boost, and allow me to work in those states, just in case we want to change our lives and move to a new place.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Automatic Admission into the DC Bar ?

My scaled score on the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) was 147, and my scaled score on the MPRE (Professional Responsibility Exam) was 97, and my law school is an ABA accredited law school.

Now look at the requirements below. That means that I can be admitted into DC as an attorney without another bar exam, right? Are there any downsides that you know of to being admitting in DC?


DC Bar Exam MBE Reciprocity

Candidates for admission may be admitted without sitting for the
exam if candidate received a scaled MBE score of 133 or higher on an
exam upon which candidate was admitted in another jurisdiction, achieved
a scaled score of at least 75 on the MPRE, and has a JD from an ABA
accredited law school. If a candidate received a 133 on the MBE but was
not admitted in that jurisdiction, candidate may waive in MBE score and
take only the essay portions of the exam. A candidate must then score a
133 on the essay portion to pass the exam.

DC Bar Reciprocity

1) Membership in good standing for 5 years prior to application from
any state bar; OR

2) Membership in good standing in any state bar and a scaled score
of 133 on the MBE and a scaled score of 75 on the MPRE and a JD from an
ABA accredited law school; OR

3) An applicant can use a scaled MBE score of 133 or better in the
past 25 months. The applicant must then attain a 133 on the essay
portion of the examination.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sending out resumes to Patent Law Firms across the US.

It has been a while, but that is starting to become usual because I don't blog unless there is something to blog about... The typical "today I went to the bathroom and played video games and saw my friend Joe" just doesn't seem so relevant to my kind of blog.

I am excited to say that since my last post, I have been diligently working on getting a job as a patent attorney. I spent a few days working with my career services adviser from law school to perfect my resume and cover letter. I also compiled a database of all of the main patent firms in the United States (yes, all of the states); I retrieved their address and contact information, including who specifically reviews the resumes and I organized it onto an excel database. Then I made a mailmerge, merging the data from the Excel spreadsheet onto Microsoft Word (which has my resume and cover letter). Then I went to print. My wife helped me with the folding and stuffing of the 65 envelopes.

With the counsel of a friend that I trust, it has come to my attention that as a patent attorney, I need to go where the work is -- even if that means that I need to move to DC or to California or anywhere else. So my wife was happy to hear that I applied across the United States.

On a Chassidic note, my wife and I wrote to the Lubavicher Rebbe (the Rebbe) in a P"N (Pidyon Nefesh -- sort of a "status update" letter) and we asked the Rebbe for a beracha (blessing) that we find the right and proper place to raise our family, even if that means moving out of our state. To make a kli (a vessel) to hold this beracha, I felt it would be wise to apply to law firms in different states, so that just in case the beracha, for example, is to have a happy family in New York, at least I will have applied to the law firms in that state so that that blessing can come to fruition through the natural course of nature (teva) and my physical acts rather than through the course of a miracle. [I learned in Yeshiva (Rabbinical School) that when a person makes a kli (a vessel) to allow brachot (blessings) to come down from the spiritual world into our physical world, and that kli will allow the blessings to come in a natural and physical way, the blessings come much easier than asking G-d for a miracle.]

Anyway, so today I plan on compiling the list of patent and intellectual property law firms in my own state and apply to these next. I am also out of resume paper and envelopes, so I need to go out and buy more.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Patent Attorney Job Search

I didn't realize that so many days have passed since my post about the bathtub. It's surprising to me that when I catch a cold or get sick, I stay sick for so many days. I'm just getting over my cold from last week now. Here are some updates on things that are going on in my life:


The "wife wanting to leave the state" issue has since been resolved. It was simply a matter of putting my foot down in a loving way, and then having my wife go through a grieving process. It was tough though, but the point I wanted to drive home to her was that wherever she is, that is where she should be living -- not in some other place. This in essence (after all the defensive reasons of why we should specifically be in this state) was what I wanted her to acknowledge.


I am starting to feel as if I desperately need a job and that I am not doing what I should be doing to get one. Until a dinner meeting yesterday with a law school friend that I trust, I was under the impression that all I had to do was pass the patent registration exam to practice before the USPTO and then all my job searching troubles would be solved.

I was informed last night over dinner that my narrow-minded ideals were off-base. If I am to get a job as a patent attorney, I have to do whatever I can to get a job because the field is so competitive in our state.

My options are to 1) apply for and get a job in another state (my wife would love this option); 2) move to Washington DC and work for the US government to defend them against patent infringement suits (to get massive amounts of experience, and to "write my own ticket" into a great job in a few years); or, 3) just start MASSIVELY NETWORKING with other lawyers and other law associations.

In short, I realize that I need to significantly change my approach and get way more aggressive in my patent law job search. I will start today.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pi (1998) and the Number 23 (2007)

12:25am Tuesday evening, now Wednesday morning. Yesterday morning, I knew I would be watching the Number 23 with Jim Carrey, and since it received such horrible reviews, I was still a fan of the plot, namely that a number rules our lives. I have such a number. I have shown it to my wife on many occasions. It has been with my family for years. Now my wife notices that three-digit number. We don't make predictions of what the number means, nor do we base our actions on seeing the number as that would be against halacha (Jewish Law) and it would amount to sorcery and idol worship. However, it is permissible to notice patterns in nature, as we have done with this number that seems to appear to us whenever we are on the right path.

Anyway, this morning before seeing The Number 23, I decided to see the movie Pi (1998) which seemed to have a similar plot. I was very amused that it seems like there were Yechi Lubavichers in that movie which were like a gang of people trying to unlock the name of G-d for their own benefit. I found the tefillin scenes totally funny because that is exactly what we Lubavichers do on mivtzoim.

All in all, however, I found the movie Pi to be quite stupid. I don't know why people have been suggesting that I see this movie for years and years. Yes, I predict the stock market based on the Elliott Wave Theory and based on Fibonacci numbers, but I don't have some weird wormy thing growing out of my brain, nor am I looking for G-d in a computer program. Plus, the idea that a computer becomes conscious of itself and then explodes after vomiting out the name of G-d seemed to be silly and pointless in relation to the overall plot.

I did like the fact that at the end of the movie, the wacko character (now bald and better looking) realized that he cannot be a vessel for G-dliness, and so he drilled a hole into his brain [through the wormy growth] which took away his abilities to "see G-d" and which made him normal, so to speak. However, the movie was still stupid.

Then, while I expected the movie 23 to be equally as stupid because of its terrible ratings, it was quite interesting. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole movie with twists and turns and a surprise ending. I was totally a fan of this movie, and I would see it again.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Telling my wife "no" to leaving the state.

I'm certainly not one to air our private laundry for the world to see (even though this seems to be exactly what I am doing), however the moving issue is not such a fight between us. Every few weeks my wife mentions us moving and I confront her telling her we are staying where we are.

That being said, I love my wife dearly and my biggest fear is that one day she may take a position such as "we're moving to state X or else I'm divorcing you and I'm taking our children with me." This is my biggest fear [rational or not], especially since I know she feels such a strong connection to her home state, sometimes I wonder whether -- if push came to shove -- she would choose California over me.

[I would also add in that the divorces of my parents and of my close friends are always on my mind, and I'm spooked by how a woman can love a man one minute and not love him anymore the next, and vice versa.]

Anyway, I've attached her response to my last letter and my reply to her. I hope this should clarify things between us, at least until I have a job here in Denver.

Mrs. Zoe Strickman wrote:
> I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO SORRY I upset you so much. I didn't
> mean to be pressuring. Not at all. I think you are doing a great
> job. You said you were applying for jobs so I didn't want you to
> forget CA. There was never a thought that you were not doing
> things the way you should. I'm sorry if I made you feel that way.

My reply:
Thank you for your supportive e-mail. I'm just feeling very pressured with everything that is going on and I just want for things to be in order. Running off to a far away place just doesn't seem to be the responsible thing to do at this point as I can't make any educated decisions about a place I know nothing about. I know it means a lot to you to be close to your family and to live in California.

Lastly, keep in mind that if we move I will have to study for yet another bar exam or else I will be stuck writing patents for the rest of my life. Moving might sound like fun but the idea of not being able to practice other areas of law (including other related areas in which I have plans to practice along with patent law) is a horrifying thought for me, especially since I just spent so much time and effort getting ready to practice.

You know that after a lawyer has worked in one state for a number of years, he can grandfather into various states by just applying and paying the fee. I don't know what the future holds, but you know I want to start here. This is where we are; this is where I have planted my seeds, so to speak. I have done so much work these past few years to set up getting a job here. Let's get by the next few years and get a bit of stability in our lives before we start jumping to other states.


All in all, I feel like a jerk for getting angry at her. Obviously with hindsight from her answer, I realize that she meant no harm by suggesting that I contact her father's friend in California. Moreso, maybe she was even being helpful and I judged her as being passive-aggressive. I guess in her mind [with the baby coming and all,] it is more important for us to get a job rather than to get a job in a particular state where I am allowed to practice.

Wife wants to leave the state.

With everything going on, I am having a difficulty with my wife on an old issue that has popped up its head again. California.

My wife is from California, and she went to University of California, and she has such an attachment with that state -- I don't understand why. Yes, her parents and sister are also still there, but her attachment is the state pride itself, and I just don't get this one.

As much as she LOVES that state, it was a condition upon us meeting that we would live in Colorado, the place where I was born, the place where I have always lived, and most importantly, the place where I graduated from law school and where I have my community, my family, my friends, my business contacts, and my law degree. Did I mention that I cannot practice law outside of Colorado without first passing that state's bar exam?

Anyway, being technical, since I am going into patent law, this is federal practice which technically allows me to practice in any state. However, that is the *only* law I could practice if we moved to California. Any other form of intellectual property, licensing, or any other form of law which would be based on state law binds me to working in Colorado where I passed the bar exam and where I will be admitted.

Anyway, we have fought over this issue for some time and I thought it was resolved until today when she made a comment that maybe I should contact a patent attorney her dad in California knows so that I can get a job there. I stayed completely cool and calm on the phone, but I was BOILING inside.

I brushed off the comment as innocent, and indeed it was -- she probably didn't realize that she offended me by that comment, but my heart physically ached for HOURS afterwards and I have been TOTALLY STRESSED OUT ALL DAY by her comment that I could function, but at a significantly diminished capacity.

So when I got home from mailing the patent registration forms and paying the fee to get registered as a patent agent, I decided to write her a letter. I am posting it for your review below. I hope I wasn't too hurtful on this letter.

Dear S****,

I want you to know that I've been upset at you all day for suggesting that I call the guy in Berkeley and get a job there. I feel that you are pressuring me and I'm highly upset that you continue to do so especially after I've made it clear to you that I have NO INTEREST in moving to California at this point in our lives.

Passing the bar was a big deal, and passing the patent bar was an even bigger deal. Let me get my registration numbers (I sent in the paperwork today) and get sworn in as an attorney in COLORADO (last week was my ethics class; tomorrow is my Character and Fitness interview), and give me some space to apply for jobs and start working as I have been waiting to do since I graduated.

Most of my friends went off after graduation, got admitted, and got jobs. I took the tough route and continued studying so that I can be a patent attorney. Out of everyone, you see I am the ONLY ONE so far who has taken or passed the exam.

I'm doing things the way I am supposed to. Give me some room to do what I need to do.


Anyway, so as you can see, I'm quite steaming. I feel that I have worked so hard to go through yeshiva, becoming frum, becoming a lawyer, and passing all of my exams and I don't want to derail all my efforts and pick up and leave just as I have accomplished everything I have been working on these past few years.

Further, I don't believe that California is the proper place to raise a family, and as things are at this moment, I don't think it would be smart to pick up and move. We agreed when we were shidduch dating that we would raise our family IN COLORADO. I don't know how to handle this issue anymore. It is ripping at me.