Book Review: “The Navajo Code Talkers”

I typically don’t read history books. That said, “The Navajo Code Talkers” by Doris A. Paul was an interesting read. I was not very familiar with the role that the Navajo people played in helping the U.S. during World War II. This book illustrates the integrity of the Navajo Code Talkers and their determination to serve the U.S. during WWII. The book gives an overview of how the secret program came to fruition, how the code worked, and the role the Navajo played during the war. Finally, the book concludes with the Code Talkers’ experiences on returning from war, and how they were honored in later years.

For me, the best part of the book were the accounts of the individual experiences of some of the Code Talkers. Those individual accounts added interest to the reading, and helped show the inspiring character of the Navajo people.

I think every U.S. citizen should read this book. It shows the strength of a people who sacrificed much (including their lives) for the country that in many ways had previously wronged them. The reader comes to the conclusion that the Navajo are to be admired for their bravery, intelligence, and skill in helping the United States during WWII.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Navajo Code Talkers” as a member of the
Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit
to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.


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The In-Betweens—The Waiting is the Hardest Part

So, I’m in that “in-between” stage after graduating law school, studying for two months, then sitting for the bar exam – and now waiting for results. Oh yes, now I need to earn some money.  I could eat my degree, but I’m sure the paper won’t taste too good, and it won’t make too many meals.

It’s a weird place to be—after 7 years of studying and working part-time, I find myself without much to study, and with no work.  I have a few potential options, but nothing solid yet.  It appears that very soon my only option will be putting that JD to work in solving the analytical problems that arise during fast-food preparation.

I sure hope I passed the bar exam…

Assuming I passed, I can’t wait to start helping people sort through their legal problems.  I truly am excited about that opportunity.

As Tom Petty once said, (albeit about a different subject matter):

“The waiting is the hardest part;

Every day you see one more card;

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart;

The waiting is the hardest part.”


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Book Review of “Noah and The Ark”

Noah and The Ark by Sally Ellis

The poems:

“Noah and The Ark” is a short collection of poems loosely based on the Noah story in the Bible.  For the most part, the poems are light-hearted and clever.  The quick review is this: The poems are okay; some are clever and entertaining. Many others one will probably never think about twice.  The theology, on the other hand, seems flawed.  I’ll skip my discussion of theology for now and talk about one of the poems.

One of the more interesting and humorous poems focused on termites and the dilemma of how to deal with termites on a boat made of wood.  The termites want in, but Noah wants them out.  I won’t spoil the end of it for you, so I’ll just say that the poem is cute (as many of the poems are in this book).

One can read this whole book in about an hour. It’s only 56 pages, and many of the pages are only one-fourth filled.  Milton’s “Paradise Lost” this ain’t…

The religion:

Overall, it was the humanistic take on theology that ruined this book for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a little personification of animals for the sake of art, or some imagined dialogue between biblical characters.  I’ve read a lot of literature, and a fair amount of poetry.  But one thing that bugs me is when someone takes a traditional concept from the Bible and mischaracterizes it.  For example, the last poem in the book seems to go against what most Bible-believers would accept as an acceptable depiction of God.  The author, Sally Ellis, characterizes God as a failure.  She writes her characterization of God as saying, “My first attempt at love I blew,”. . . “How infantile the fits I threw, raging like a child of two.”  Earlier, Ellis characterizes the failures of man as being God’s fault because “I made him in My image, so it’s not his fault, forsooth.”  “It’s My imagination that dooms him to the bad; he struggles in My image.”  For me, the book edges uncomfortably close to blasphemy (and perhaps it is, but I certainly don’t assume to know what exactly was in Ms. Ellis’s heart and mind when she wrote her poems).

However, I would argue that the concept of being made in “His image” has to do with having free-will, and free-will means the ability to make choices, good or bad.  Without getting into a long discourse into theology, my point is that I think this book advocates a humanistic mindset—the “it’s not my fault because God made me this way” kind of excuse-making that inevitably leads one down a dangerous path where no person takes responsibility for his/her actions.    And that, my dear reader, is why I really didn’t like this book.

I received a complimentary copy of “Noah and the Ark” as a member of the

Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit

to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

Here’s a direct link to the publisher’s website where the book can be purchased:

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The Fulltone 70-BC Fuzz!

Here’s a quick review of the newest acquisition to my guitar gear, (thanks to a gift-card, and my selling of a bunch of older gear)— Fulltone’s 70’s Fuzz:

I ran the ’70 Fuzz into my USA made Fender Blues Junior, and played my USA made Fender Roadhouse Stratocaster.  I set the amp to a clean sound as my starting point.  To avoid uneven jumps in volume when engaging the pedal, I kept the volume setting on the pedal at about at 9 o’clock (i.e. about 1/3 volume).

So what does the 70’s Fuzz sound like?

TAKE 1:  Well, “fuzzy,” of course! With the “fuzz” control  all the way up, the “mid” control on the pedal at about 2 o’clock, and the volume knob on my guitar all the way up, the 70’s Fuzz emits a massive, thick, “fuzzy” tone, capable of sounding like about a 100 chain saws running at the same time—it’s awesome, but not for the meek. Chords sound like chunky concrete blocks of tone, and I felt like I could practically stand on the sounds coming out of the thing.  Single-note lead lines are rich and creamy, but with a bit of “fizzyness.” (which is good or bad depending on how one feels about that).

Slightly rolling back the volume on the guitar generates a very nice, clean sound, with lots of sparkle and chime, with just a little grit. This fuzz seemed a bit more responsive to guitar volume knob adjustments than other fuzzes I’ve played (including Dunlop’s JDF2 Fuzzface).  The JDF2 Fuzz Face uses germanium transistors, whereas the 70’s Fuzz uses silicone, so maybe that’s the difference.

The Bummer: The pedal picked up radio station frequencies*—yeah, that’s right, when I rolled back the volume knob on my guitar, “Adele” was singing through my amp.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Adele, and think she has a great voice, but I wasn’t planning on hearing her at that moment.  (I’ve heard that fuzz pedals can be problematic in picking up radio stations).  However, by reducing the gain (i.e., the “fuzz”) to about ¾ (or 3’o’clock), the radio interference was not as bad, but then there is the sacrifice in fuzz. Further, reducing the fuzz setting tends to “muddy” up the sound, but that can be adjusted a bit with the mid control (That said, I think the fuzz sounds best with the fuzz almost all the way up).

*Note, when I plugged my amp into a different electrical outlet, in a different room, and added the fuzz to the chain of other pedals I use, the radio interference disappeared for the most part.

TAKE 2:  I added the 70’s Fuzz to my chain of pedals. The order is as follows: guitar to (1) Fulltone OCD, (2) 70s Fuzz, (3) Danelectro Dan-Echo Delay, and (4) BBE “Boosta Grande” clean boost. With a mildly overdriven setting on the OCD, the 70s Fuzz (with the settings as earlier) added a searing lead tone that would sustain for days, even with the single-coil pickups on the Strat.  Kicking in the BBE tends to take away a bit of the “fizzy” high end, and it really helps sculpture a “smooth” tone.  Add some delay to the above, and playing solos all day long won’t get boring.

I think the best part of the 70’s fuzz though is that all by itself, it is probably versatile enough that one could get by with just it.  Rolling back the volume knob on the guitar is very effective with this pedal, and I can’t wait to try it live with a full band (Maybe I’ll add an update to this post once I get to play it live).  That said, fuzz pedals are somewhat of an acquired taste, and unlike many “distortion” pedals, it takes a bit of skill in manipulating the guitar’s volume control in order to fully utilize the fuzz pedal.

The Bottom Line: If you are into fuzz pedals, I’d give this one a chance.  Here’s a link to Fulltone’s description:

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Outlining for Success in Law School

Okay, so what’s the deal with all the talk about “outlining” for your law school classes?  Let me tell you, the “deal” is that for most people, it is an absolute necessity to outline your course material to do well on exams.  Here are some general guidelines to follow in outlining your law school course material.

TIP # 1:  The outline should be “issue” and “rule” driven, not “case” driven.  What this means is that you should structure the outline around the topics/legal issues discussed in class, and then the rules should follow.  After the rules, cases and hypotheticals from class should supplement the rules.

TIP #2:  Write rule statements as a sentence, even when breaking rules into elements.  The idea here is that you should be able to take your rule statements and transfer the language directly to an essay exam.  By doing this, you should be able to focus more on analysis on the exam, and not have to think about how to express the rules.

TIP #3:  Don’t wait until the end of the semester to outline!  Pre-Outline before you attend class.  I find it helpful to read about the assigned topic in a commercial law outline or other supplemental source before and during my reading of the casebook.  If you take a few minutes to learn about the topic generally, before reading cases, you will likely be more efficient in extracting the rules from the cases when you read them.  Type a “pre-outline” of the material, and then supplement it with your notes from class. You can even add to your outline during class, while the material is fresh in your mind.   By pre-outlining you will probably have a better understanding of the material and therefore will be able to more accurately pick up on the more nuanced areas of the law that come up in class discussions.

I have found the above suggestions to be very helpful in my own study strategies, and I recommend them to any student who wants to improve his or her academic performance.

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Spring Break, Vampires, and Law School!

So, it’s that time of the year again.  Time for Spring Break!  That said, in law school, Spring Break is really just a break from classes, but not a total break from work.  Preparing outlines, completing projects, and working through practice problems to prepare for exams is how I typically spend my break.  However, I do make time for other things.  I took most of today off and finished reading a novel I’ve been reading periodically throughout the semester: Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King.  For those of you who have never read the tale, it is a modern take on the classic Dracula story by Bram Stoker.

Here’s the premise (and admittedly corny) point of this post : Law School, if not kept in perspective, can be “vampire-like.” It will try to suck you dry spiritually, financially, emotionally, and physically.  The demands it makes are not for the weak.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve come to enjoy the law school experience, and believe I am blessed to just have the privilege of going to law school. I certainly am not taking it for granted.  However, I know that for some people (including myself the first year or so) law school is an all-consuming monster.

After almost three years in law school, I think I’ve figured it out enough to lend a little advice to those considering law school, or those already caught up in its grip:

(1) Make a study schedule for the week.   Plan on about 2-3 hours for every hour of class-time.  That means, if you are taking 15 credits in law school, you should plan on about 30-45 hours of study time in addition to the time spent in class each week.  No kidding, it takes that much work (unless you’re some-kind of genius–and please note that even having a 4.0 in undergrad won’t qualify you as the “some-kind of genius” who won’t need to spend 40 hours a week studying).

(2) Make “to-do” lists of your tasks for the day.  Making a list can give you peace; you won’t forget what you need to do for the day; you will have a sense of accomplishment as you cross things off the list; and you will be better organized as a result of planning your day this way.

(3) Take a day off.  Yeah, that’s right.  Taking a day off gives a person something to look forward to at the end of the week, a “mini-vacation” of sorts.  Trust me, you’ll need it.  For people who go to church, a day off to go to church and spend time with family can be a wonderful time of renewal and recovery from the week’s tasks.  It’s tempting to let the Law School vampire try to work at you 7 days a week, but don’t do it.  Hold your ground, and take a day off!

(4) Work hard.   When it’s time to work, WORK!  Stick to your schedule. Get things done. Don’t procrastinate. Be diligent.  Being diligent in your study habits puts the “stake” in the time-sucking Law School Vampire’s heart.

Of course, the above points are not all that is required to succeed in law school, but they are enough to keep one from being sucked dry by Law School.  I’ve put the above into action myself, and it has helped me enjoy law school, and not see it as a monster.  When put in the proper perspective, Law School isn’t scary; it becomes fun.

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What to expect from this blog.

Hello Reader,

I plan to write about things that interest me on this blog: guitars, books, and whatever I want to write about!  After all, it’s my BLOG!  More to come soon…

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