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.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ultrasounds and our doctor suggesting an abortion with 12 weeks to go in the pregnancy.

It is Feburary 25th, 3:45am, and I cannot sleep. I just spent the last twenty minutes playing with my wife's belly which contains our highly-reactive kicking baby. I think the activity was too much for my wonderful sleeping wife, who consequently just kicked me out of the bed.

Our kicking baby is the subject of this blog entry, as he or she has caused my wife and I quite a scare.

The Rebbe was highly against having ultrasounds "just for fun," or "just for whatever." His reasoning was that we shouldn't disturb the growing process of the baby unless there was a significant reason to do so [especially in such a lawsuit-oriented society]. The Rebbe was against routine ultrasounds and unnecessary testing, especially since in normal circumstances, we Jews do not believe in abortion, and thus it does nobody any good to peer into the womb unless there is something that could be fixed as a result of having the information from the ultrasound.

Anyway, after having two ultrasounds and after tracking the progress of our unborn child for almost the past two months, the doctor on Friday morning suggested that we get an abortion because there is a possibility that something is wrong. I want to point out that we are late in the third trimester and we have a smart, reactive, and playful child in the womb, and the doctor suggested that while it is illegal in our State to perform an abortion at this point of the pregnancy, there are certain States that we could travel to where we could receive an abortion.

I'll tell you right upfront, while my wife and I didn't even look at each other when this was suggested, later we shared how we were both horrified at the suggestion of an abortion, especially because nothing is deformed or missing and because the organs are all in good health and are in proportional shape. The problem that the doctors were seeing is that our unborn child is not growing at the rate they feel he or she should be growing, so while the doctors think that this might vaguely point to a genetic trisomy problem, it seems that for the time being, my little "mini me" is indeed mini.

Anyway, all this in the wake of me passing the patent bar exam and finally being finished with all my schooling has led to quite a bit of stress and concern for the health of our unborn child.

After speaking to my mashpia today about the situation, he agreed with my wife that since there is nothing for certain wrong with our child, and since further monitoring with ultrasounds cannot change the genetics of our child, nor can further ultrasounds induce its growth to fall back into normal levels, it is probably best that instead of having bi-weekly ultrasounds to monitor the child's growth and dampen the pregnancy with worries and concerns, that we should let nature take its course and allow the pregnancy to proceed without bothering the baby repeatedly since in this case, there is nothing that can or would be done to change the genetics, the health, or the size of the baby by peering into the womb through yet another ultrasound checkup.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I passed the Patent Bar Exam today.

To my closest friends and family:

I wanted to share the news that I passed the US Patent Registration Exam today.

The exam was very difficult, and I felt that they were testing more on whether I knew how to search the MPEP (patent examination manual) rather than whether I memorized the thousands of rules that I did. The first half of the exam was very difficult; I wasn't sure I passed -- I didn't even quite finish or review ANY of the MANY questions I was unsure about and wanted to review if there was time. There wasn't.

During the lunch break, since most of the past exams that I took broadly covered the MPEP's chapters (with the usual weightings on Chapters 700, 2100, etc.), instead of eating lunch, I took a few bites and I looked over my notes for the topics that they DIDN'T yet ask about -- I quickly reviewed those rules. Sure enough, that was EXACTLY what they tested on. I wouldn't be surprised if I scored a perfect 50/50 on the second half.

At the end of the exam, I received the good news, along with a print out and a signed and stamped letter for my records that I passed the exam.

I wish you all the best, and I am very thankful for the support you have all given me while I studied for this exam, and all the others that preceded it.

Warm regards,
Zoe Strickman

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

6 Days to the Patent Bar Exam

I don't know if I'm ready... I've been taking past exams, going over the answers in detail, and understanding why I got wrong the ones I got wrong.

My average has moved up from a 60% (that original 68% on the mock final was a fluke, because for a week or so afterwards, all I got was an average of 50%-60% on my practice exams.

Anyway, needless to say (and I know not that interesting), I've been averaging 74%-76% lately, which is ABOVE the 70% score I need to pass.

So apparently, I am ready. Today is 6 days from the scheduled exam date, and so if my score averages stay where they are, I'll pass the exam. Today I am taking a trip over to the exam center so that I can get an idea of 1) where it is, 2) what kosher food is around there, and 3) where I can relax during my lunch break. I also plan on taking and reviewing a 1/2 length exam I will be taking when I get back home.

Other than that, one issue has popped up in my life which I don't want to talk about because I don't want to bring attention to it. I'll talk about it in the near future if it becomes an issue. All I can say about it is that it is on my mind and it might be a big enough distractor that it might cause me to fail the exam.

"The Port Condominium" in Florida STILL Prohibits Mezuzas

I read this article this morning that the board of a condo ("The Port Condominium" in Florida which is owned by Jews, by the way) has prohibited a Jewish woman from placing a mezuzah on her front door. They said that it was against their policy to allow religious articles (a.k.a. mezuzahs) to be shown on the outside of the apartments.

Note, however, that the board HAS ALLOWED Xmas wreaths and other such markings, but mezuzos? No, not allowed.

In my opinion, these practices are WRONG and should be fought at all costs. Apparently, they have gotten Chabad involved hoping that their lawyers would pick up this issue and fight for them.

It is my opinion that the fight should not only be by the attorneys, but be each one of us. Each one of us should pick up the phone, voice our opinion, write an e-mail, and do something about it. If YOU AND I do not fight this kind of injustice every time it happens, it will happen again and again.

The link is here.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Boston City-Wide Bomb Scare Video

I heard about this on the radio. There were a few guys that put up electronic advertising devices that caused a city-wide bomb scare. When the police learned about this, they shut down the roads, the highways, the trains, ...practically the whole city. The article is located here, and the video of them actually doing it (which I'll try to embed below) is located here.

While I find the protective response by the police laudable, I have mixed feelings about the criminal charges... After all, they were just trying to advertise their business. On the other hand, their tactic WAS invasive, as if someone walked around town putting up flyers or pasting sticky notes everywhere. I do this from time to time, and when I do, I know it is an invasive way to do things, but then again, doing things the regular way often ends up being quite expensive and not as effective.

The truth of the matter is that "in your face" advertising actually works. On the other hand, people want to be protected from immoral advertising that intrudes on your peace of mind at every step. A person should have the right NOT to be advertised to.