Thursday, January 25, 2007

IDT Energy Scam?? Door-to-door Salesmen??

I just read the articles here, here, and here.

Do you know these people CAME to our door asking for our electricity bill promising to save us money?

I told him that I wasn't the landlord and I don't make electricity decisions. I told him to ring another doorbell and I walked away.

Now I'm reading this article and I just realized that these are the guys I was talking to.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I *AM* the kind of guy who would support the underdog trying to make a living or trying to make a place for himself in the big business world filled with monopolies, so if this company WAS legit (which apparently it is NOT), I would support them in a second.

Then again, IDT is apparently owned by frum Jews, and I would support a company for that reason alone 1) if they were HONEST, and 2) if they provided GOOD service and REASONABLE prices. I don't know, however, whether this is the same IDT as is owned by the Jews, but if it IS and it IS a scam, then I hate them for being dishonest and making a Chilul Hashem. [I hate it when religious Jews scam other people. It makes my blood boil hot red.]


Okay, it's official. My USPTO Patent Bar Exam is scheduled for FEBRUARY 12, 2007!
Your appointment for the computer-based U.S PATENT REGISTRATION EXAM is confirmed.

Please find the confirmation details that follow:
Client Candidate Id: XXXXX
Confirmation: 00000000XXXXXXXX
Program: United States Patent and Trademark Office
Exam Date: 12 Feb 2007
Exam Time: 09:00 (8 hrs)
Prometric Test Center
Okay, so this is it. As if I weren't already in crunch time. Now we're in super-crunch time-bar-review-mode. Honestly, I feel totally panicked, as if I am going to fail and all this studying will be for nothing. Nah, then again, I've studied diligently for months.

I completed the PLI Patent Bar Exam Home Study Course, a MONUMENTAL achievement. I passed the bar exam without a sweat on my brow; another monumental achievement. This is just ONE MORE STEP on the pathway from here to where I want to be. I can do this. I can.

All I need to do is to keep doing what I have been doing, just faster and more often. I need to get my times in order and get my body used to the conditions of an 8 hour exam. I need to take exams in 4 hour blocks, ideally twice in a day. That will condition me for the exam.

This is the end of my journey. This, other than the job search and interview process, is the last hurdle before I can start working as an attorney. I am very excited about this.

- Zoe

PS - One thing that I think is cowardish of me to mention is the thought of canceling or rescheduling if my scores are not high enough to pass the exam. There is no fee to cancel or reschedule the exam date, as long as 1) I call 2 business days in advance of the exam date by 12pm, and 2) that I reschedule the exam by the middle of April 2007, the end of the window of when I can take the exam. I SERIOUSLY DO NOT WANT TO RESCHEDULE, but if I won't pass, a reschedule might be the only option. The problem -- for me, at least -- is that knowing I have some kind of an out makes me feel that it is okay to slack off just a little bit because there is a way out.

Napoleon burned his ships after he landed with his troops on the enemy's shore to show his troops that there is NO FLEEING and NO TURNING BACK. The two options are VICTORY or DEATH. I need to feel the same way.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Concerns regarding PLI's Patent Bar Review Course

Since finishing PLI's patent bar review course, I have been doing practice questions and have been taking practice exams on some PatBar StudySmart 4.0 software that a friend of mine let me borrow because my PLI Patware software wasn't working.

I am happy that I am finished with the bar review course, but I am not so happy that I am averaging 50% on the practice exams. (I need 70% to pass). Yes, on the sample final that PLI gave us, I scored a 68%, which is one question shy of the 70% needed to pass, but I have a feeling that this test was an unintended TRICK to falsely give us confidence for the exam.

What annoys me is that I did EVERYTHING the course told me to do -- in the order and depth the course told me to do it -- and I emerged from the course with a 50% test score average. This annoys me because when I took Pieper Bar Review for the NY bar exam, I was scoring WAY HIGHER than what was required to pass the bar exam, and I passed with flying colors. This course barely prepares you to pass.

What scares me further is that the PLI Patent Bar Review course that I am taking was purchased from a law school friend who bought the course in 2004 and passed the patent bar in 2005. But he was a scientist for a patent firm, so he knew what he was doing before he even listened to the first CD. Since then, the exam is using an updated MPEP (patent manual) with updated rules and updated cases. I don't know these new rules or cases, and I am relying on a 2-year old course which puts me at a slight disadvantage, but a worthy disadvantage because I payed FAR LESS than full price for the course. This was good for my marriage-life budget and was worth the risk.

To add insult to injury, the BarBri PatBar software in my opinion is flimsy, outdated, and has errors (I've looked up answers multiple times in the MPEP patent manual and have found that the answers on the patbar software were often WRONG.) This annoyed me.

All in all, I want to raise my average to at least 75% (ideally 80%) to give myself the cushion that I need to overcome any disadvantages I have from the conditions and circumstances of which I have walking into the exam.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How I was Taught to Treat My Wife in our Chassidic Marriage

Okay, Knished asked me to write about MARRIED LIFE...

Married life. Well, in my case, my wife and I have agreed to live a chassidic lifestyle which means no television in the home, whereas the home environment is centered around us spending time with each other, doing the laundry, the dishes and anything else that needs to get done, meals (sometimes with guests) and Torah learning.

[We are still watching movies, albeit outside the home because our Rav told us that it is a lesser evil to watch movies outside the home than it is to bring movies into the home and ruin the atmosphere we have chosen to have in our home.]

Generally, (and I'll try to stick to it even now,) I've made it a point NOT to speak about my wife or our relationship on this blog because even though she knows about it, I actually don't think she's been on here lately. However, I feel that it is inevitable that she one day WILL read every word I write here, and I don't want any of it to make her do anything but smile.

Yes, there are complications sometimes with our relationship. Often it is me who has the rule or the belief as to how couples in a chassidic marriage are supposed to treat each other (e.g. with respect, always remembering who we are speaking to, and NEVER cursing or raising our voice to the point of yelling with one another, cleaning after one's self, etc.) and often it is my wife who goes through life not aware of my rules until she notices that I am highly upset and often it is me who for whatever reason has let the issue build up until I'm more upset about the issue than I should be.

On my end, the trick to a happy marriage is always understanding that (B"H) I have a wonderful wife with a GOOD HEART who loves me deeply AND WHO DEALS WITH MY IMPERFECTIONS. Trust me -- I am FAR from perfect. But she deals with my ups and my downs, my messes and my idiosyncrasies, and thus since she is SO FORGIVING of my inadequacies, I have the unshakable duty to be as forgiving of hers. Plus, she is a human being just like I am; she burps, bloats, gets tired, moody, and hungry like anyone would. She is as disciplined as she wants to be in whatever areas she chooses to be, and I need to respect that about her.

Regarding our daily lives, I feel that it is important for me to be sensitive to her needs, and I often go out of my way to do things that I don't need to do, and I try to seek out what she needs and I get it for her or do it for her before she even asks me for it (even if she would never even think of me doing it for her). If I find that she doesn't acknowledge it after a while and I start to feel taken advantage of, I tell her. If she still doesn't acknowledge it, we'll fight.

I learned from my Rabbi that it is very important to always keep a line of communication open with your wife. Always, even if it is something totally embarrassing, such as me getting a 3rd parking ticket in a one-week period because I get distracted and I forget to move the car or when it is something very difficult, such as confronting her on something she did that hurt my feelings, or carefully advising her on a better way to handle a touchy subject while being very sensitive to her feelings.

I learned this lesson of having complete and open communication when I received my diagnosis and I went on medication -- I told my Rabbi and I made him promise not to tell anyone -- not even his wife -- about it and he promised. Weeks later, he told me, "You know Zoe, I have never held anything back from my wife. This has been the first thing that I have ever hidden from her since we've been married." Firstly, I felt terrible that I put a separation between them, namely my dirty little secret. Secondly, this was a big lesson for my own marriage.

There are times where I get angry, frustrated, enraged at anything or anyone -- even my wife. However, during those times, I make sure I am NOT AROUND MY WIFE when I am in those states of being. She doesn't need to deal with these, and under NO condition should I take out my frustrations on her. I certainly don't hide anything from her, but I don't take my anger out on her.

When we have an argument and I see that it is escalating to the point where I am about to lose my temper or say something that I will regret, I have learned from my Rabbi that I should do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get out of that situation before I explode -- "jump out of a window if you must, as long as you get out of there before it is too late" my Rabbi says. The goal here is NEVER TO LOSE YOUR TEMPER AROUND THE OTHER PERSON. Fights are healthy, but they should stay healthy. There is no reason to be calling each other names or using the F word or belittling the other person. Maintaining RESPECT and INTEGRITY is what is needed to keep the shalom bayis (peace in the house).

This is also super important. You should always love and respect your wife, even when you are not feeling like it. Love isn't something you have or are "in," but rather, it is something you DO. Sometimes it is difficult, especially if she is not living up to your expectations at that moment, but it doesn't matter. She is your wife and she deserves your love ALWAYS, even when you are in the middle of a fight.

Other than these tidbits of wisdom that I have learned, my wife and I (B"H) are doing well. We are learning each other's patterns and we are learning how to help the other person stay happy. We let each other be who we are, and we don't force our views of what we would like our partners to be on the other. We don't hang out 24/7, and there are times that we completely do our own thing, but at least we communicate with each other and make sure that the other person isn't feeling slighted or left out.

Most of all, it is important to appreciate who you have for the rest of your life. There will be only one person who will be there from now until the day you die (you hope) -- that is your wife. Treat her well, love her like no other, and treat her with respect.

Frumpter blog activity observation -- misleading?

I am getting quite nervous that my public blog [not this blog which is my "private" blog, but the "public" one that I put up to further disguise my blogging activities] visitation rates have gone up significantly by those I know visiting the blog, and the reason I am getting nervous is because I have been pretty much posting VERBATIM what I post on this blog on that blog...

The thing is that since I've been married and since the whole mental health issue has become quite an old one (moot), I have been posting topics on both blogs (verbatim) that are not a secret to anyone, not even to those I know or am close with.

However, with more and more people visiting my "public" blog [which has my real identity, but has significantly filtered content], I fear that one day a friend of mine who peruses my public blog will notice a similarity between the postings on that blog and the postings on this one and will figure out that I, [my real name], am "Zoe Strickman", a.k.a. "Frumpter."

I could be more discreet, but it means a lot to me that I am able to keep in touch with a large number of my friends just by pointing them to my blog. This is a HUGE time-saver, especially for someone like me at this point in my life where I have no time to keep in touch with everyone because I'm studying for the Patent Bar Exam.

Anyway, on another note, I've been looking at the statistics for this site, and it appears that this site gets some 200 visitors each week. The funny thing is that few people post comments on this site and the comment section of the blog generally seems to be dead, whereas a few months ago, I used to get a maximum of 20-30 comments per post. This lack of response to my posts is discouraging, and I am wondering whether 1) my life has just been boring lately, 2) the topics that I write about are boring and stale, or 3) maybe the statistics are wrong and really nobody is visiting the site and I'm writing to the walls.

MOCK Patent Bar Exam Results

I just finished and graded the final exam for the patent course that I've been taking. Anything between 70%-80% means that I would be ready to take the patent bar exam with minimal post-course work. (There is another 80 hours of post-course work to boost up my final score average.)

I got 68% correct. (34 correct answers out of 50 questions).

Are you psyched??? This means that I am very close to being ready to take the exam, and all that I need is just a bit of fine tuning and memorizing information.

Timewise, I finished the 3 hour exam in 1 hour and 20 mins and I still got the score that I did.

This means that since the MPEP (Patent Manual from which many questions are taken) contains most of the answers to the questions, at this rate, I will be able to use the remaining 1.5 hours to simply look up answers to difficult questions.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the news.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I just received the certification in the mail allowing me to sit for the patent bar exam! I must schedule and take the examination between 1/16/2007 and 04/16/2007.

Now the pressure is on...

Corporate Paralegal -- The Expected Rejection Letter

I am not surprised. I received a form letter from the Human Resources Manager the next day:
Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with us to discuss the position of Corporate Paralegal.

While your background and qualifications are impressive, we have selected an individual whose background is more closely related to our opening.

We will keep your application on file should a position become available in the future for which you are qualified.

We appreciate your interest and wish you the best of everything as your career progresses in the future.
Anyway, as everybody there knew, this was to be only a temporary position until I got admitted and until I passed the patent bar. Then, they would have to either (after a period of time) switch me over to work as an attorney or risk losing me to a firm or company who would be paying the appropriate salary.

I still feel that for the Company's individualized needs (they needed someone with IP knowledge to wade through boxes and boxes of patents and paperwork coming in because the company was going through a whole bunch of mergers and break-offs and they lost their IP department) I would have been an appropriate candidate, but I don't feel wronged; rather, I feel like it was some kind of message telling me that I shouldn't be wasting my time in tangential endeavors -- rather, I should do what I am supposed to do -- I should wait for the certification from the patent office to take the exam while finishing up my patent bar studying, I should schedule the exam, take it, pass it, and start working as a patent attorney -- the whole plan all along.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Over-qualified? I thought that was a cliche'.

Well, I had my interview this afternoon. I was supposed to meet with four attorneys, but one of them refused to see me. I was a little bit confused, especially since he was the head patent guy in the Company for whom I would be working.

In short, my interview was a DISASTER. The management whom I met with jumped all over the idea of training an attorney and paying me as a paralegal so that I can "get my foot in the door" and "learn the ropes of the business world while at the same time learning the real workings of a corporate IP department." However, the attorneys were appaled by the idea. They said that I was overqualified, and that I didn't belong in the Company as a paralegal. I tried to convince them that I was "starting at the bottom, like in the mail room" to no avail. They were right; I didn't belong there as a paralegal.

Further, the attorneys said that they wouldn't feel comfortable bossing me around, especially because I would be their equal and/or superior in knowledge in status, especially once I passed the patent bar. I am specialized in patent law, and it was written all over my resume. Part of me wondered whether they just didn't like the idea of an attorney (or in my case, a soon-to-be-admitted-attorney who has passed the bar exam) to work as a paralegal. Another part of me thought that I would have gotten the job if I erased the words "Juris Doctor" from my resume as if I never went to law school, ever. Most of me knew they were concerned that I wouldn't stick around in a medium-paying paralegal position after being sworn in as an attorney and so they would be wasting their time training me. I thought they were right.

On this topic, I spoke to the human resources guy about this issue before I even went on the interview -- he said that it was his (and management's) intention to train me as a paralegal for the short-term with the intention of having me move up to the ranks of attorney after a year or so of familiarizing myself with the business and the technology. I thought this was a good idea.

However, when I walked out of there, I was sure that I was walking out alone; ...WITHOUT the job.

On a positive note, today I learned a big lesson -- ATTORNEYS SHOULD NOT APPLY FOR PARALEGAL POSITIONS. That wasn't the lesson, but the rule. The lesson I learned was that I should finish up what I have been working on (namely, the patent bar) and I should take that G-d forsaken exam and get it over with and start working at a regular firm. This was the plan until I got the e-mail last week from the HR manager of the Company who saw my resume and thought it would be a good idea if I applied for the paralegal position.

Anyway, back to the patent bar.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Growing Pains and Suit Sizes

[original link here]

Sure, it's not that easy in the mornings. Waking up when all I want to do is sleep; getting to minyan, studying with a chevrusa -- we're doing Gemara Sukka. ...and then the dreaded daily studying -- guess what -- IY"H, that routine will soon come to an end. I got a job interview. The position isn't for an attorney, but it is for a IP Paralegal in a neighboring state. I'm very excited about this, because even though this job is not for an attorney, it is close enough and it gets my foot in the door so that when I pass the Character and Fitness review and get sworn in as an attorney, and when I pass the patent bar, I hope to have the option of converting my job title to Patent Attorney (after all, I'll already be working there). At the very least, the employer has acknowledged that she knows I am a lawyer and that I passed the bar exam, and so after a few months of training as a paralegal (which by the way pays more than a starting attorney here in my state), they'll upgrade me to attorney status.

I guess a benefit for them is that they train me to work for them as an attorney while paying me the reduced salary of a paralegal. I don't mind. At least I'll be working and gaining relevant experience that I can put on a resume and supporting my family so that my wife can feel that she doesn't need to work after the baby comes and maternity leave runs out.

So that's it. Everything else in order... My wife and I bought a suit yesterday. I couldn't believe that the 46L size that I have been for so many years no longer fit me. Was I heavier because of being out of shape or from having my pitty pregnancy belly? [If you can even call it that] -- the problem was not my belly, but the fact that the suit jacket kept arching out from my chest in the front, which is a sign that my chest is too big for the suit. We checked my chest -- nothing but muscle. Could I have my last puberty spurt - this one expanding the size of my chest at the age of 29?

Anyway, so we went up a size and "48 Long"s were ALSO TOO SMALL. I thought, "what the hey?" So we went up to size 50 Long and those fit the chest, but the suit itself was WAY too big. So we settled on my size being a large 48 Long / athletic 50 Long. We found a suit that was 48 Long and with some modifications to the pant size (adding 2 inches) it finally fit. Then we went to buy ties (I own almost none because I never wear them) and a belt. Since the suit was black, I bought a black and red striped tie -- the red was to suggest power and the black was to match the suit. However, while the whole appearance is very impressive, it just occurred to me that I will be wearing the colors of the militant black panther (black power) group, but I am white. Either way, the colors and pattern of the tie look quite collegiate, and now I have a suit that fits me for the interview.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Patent Bar - Sprinting to the Finish Line...

> Dear Zoe,
> Wow your ALMOST done!
> I have a question, How are you doing this? Are you following in the Study guide as you listen to the CD or taking notes or both?
> Or are you reading the study guide after you listen to the CD?
> - Danny

Dear Danny,
That question cost me 5 months to figure out.

This is the method they tell you to follow on the tapes:
Step 1) pre-read the chapter before you listen to the audio.
2) Listen to the audio
3) Then after listening to the audio, shut off tape and do questions and/or exercises / practice exams.
4) Resume tape and go over questions and answers
5) Do lunch homeworks and mini-exams when instructed.
6) Continue onto the next tape.

Believe it or not, this has been EXACTLY what I have been doing up until last week.

Since last week, I've decided to pick up the pace to finish this thing so that I can start working already. So I spoke to my wife and decided to hit this course 1000% [bar review mode] for two weeks. I hope to finish the course using the modified method below:

I've altered steps 1) & 3) and I have started to pause the tape as I get to new topic headings and skim the chapter contents, then I listen to the audio while looking at the book, all the while taking notes in the margins. At the end of the tape, I return to the study guide and go over the notes again, but this time in more detail because I've heard the overview from the tape. I make notes, transfer them out of the book, and keep going. Keeping going means not stopping for phone calls or snack breaks or anything until you have ABSOLUTELY NO ENERGY left to keep your eyes open and you must shower, daven, and sleep. This has been my life for almost the past week.

Oh, and I've found that it is SIGNIFICANTLY HELPFUL to speed up his speaking because he is very slow. The only way I could figure out how to do this was that I installed a program on my iPod mini 2g (called rockbox) that allows me to speed up his voice, because otherwise it would take me HOURS to get through a CD. So I sped his voice up using the "pitch" feature to 130% and now he goes at a respectable pace. Microsoft MediaPlayer probably has a similar feature.

Lastly, the past two days have been dedicated to transferring all my notes to Microsoft OneNote and creating mnemonics, Pieper Bar Review style.

I know this is a long answer to the short question, but I wanted to share with you the full experience. I can't wait until this is over. Soon. Very soon.

Zoe Strickman

PS - One more thing -- don't stop. Make this a marathon until it's over or else you might lose momentum and get totally bored and distracted from the density of this material. If you keep moving, you can blow right past the boring parts and not get stuck. That was my hard lesson -- don't stop or it will take you triple the time to start back up again.