September 30th 2004

LawMom writes about Banned Book

LawMom writes about Banned Book Week.

In honor of fine literature everywhere, go read a banned book. Some that I’ll recommend:

  1. The Catcher in the Rye (the classic banned book)
  2. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  3. Anything by Judy Blume, if you like young adolescent fiction, which I do. Her books appear on the most challenged books list yearly, and she is one of the most challenged authors. I particularly like Iggie’s House, Blubber, and Tiger Eyes.
  4. A Wrinkle in Time, which I can only imagine was challenged because it suggests that there may be life elsewhere in our universe, and does not attribute creation to God? Fact is, Madeline L’Engle is a remarkable author who, like C. S. Lewis, imbues her work with good old-fashioned Christian morality without coming out heavy-handed-ly and shoving it down the reader’s throats. In the last book in the series begun by Wrinkle, titled A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the entire Murray family sings dona nobis pacem around the Thanksgiving dinner table, while they pray for peace.
  5. Any book with frank discussion of adolescent physical changes. This would include number 2, above, as well as the What’s Happening to my Body? books.
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, which I imagine is on the list because of its use of a particular ethnic slur. (Huckleberry Finn is on the list for that reason, too.)

Note a theme? Young adults, adolescents, children, are the ones whose literature is most affected by book challenges. Adults have the freedom to choose what to read and what to ignore, and the freedom to be as closed-minded as they wish. But children—children have such a small voice in these matters. Bless the American Library Association for recognizing that all books are worthy of being on library shelves, even those that parents may object to for ridiculous reasons.

September 27th 2004

last minute preparations

Today I panicked and realized that I did not have a timer I could use for the LSAT—the one I’ve been using for study is my kitchen timer that has a very loud beep.

$32 later (32 DOLLARS?? Unbelievable!!) I have The Silent Timer. Now I have to get used to it. I certainly has several features I won’t be using, notably the “push the red button after you’ve answered each question” thing, allowing you to track how many questions you’ve answered and how many you have left. That’s assuming you take the time at the beginning of the section to see how many total questions there are and plug it in. Mrph…that’s funny. Almost as funny as expecting me to push the red button after answering each question.

September 26th 2004

short “hiatus”

Since I sit for the LSAT in less than a week, and since my friendly writing and editing prof really wants to meet with me soon (like last week, so I’m seriously overdue) don’t expect much from me this week.

I’ll post my LSAT impressions on Saturday, sometime, since I fully expect that I’ll go from the test to either 1) the remainder of [Big Unnamed State] University’s football game (which starts at 11:30, damn them, rendering worthless my $55 ticket which I probably can’t even scalp for face value due to the opponent), or 2) the remainder of my friends’ tailgate party.

In either case, I will drink (somewhat) liberally, if only because it will be OVER. I’m looking forward to having the test behind me so that I can begin to concentrate on applications and my personal essay. No matter how much I say I’ve been working on it, I haven’t really been able to look past the damn standarized test. I think once I’ve taken it and the results are out of my hands, I’ll have a little more impetus to work on the rest of that law school stuff.

Meanwhile, if you have Payton Manning on your FF team, you are a lucky bitch/bastard. That’s all I have to say about that.

September 24th 2004

Mildly shocking

In today’s Straight Dope column, Cecil Adams writes two things I don’t thing I’ve ever read from him before: a small bit of profanity (mild: “son of a bitch”) and a psuedo-extreme sexual reference (”Does he give great head?”).

It was the latter, which comes first in the column, actually, that caused my jaw to drop open. I know that The Straight Dope is published in lots of papers—mostly of the free, alternative variety—but still, it’s published in many papers. The phrase “give great head” is not one I ever would expect to see in a newspaper of any stripe.

I’m not saying I’m offended—in fact, I think it’s hilarious, particularly in the context of the response (yet another reason to eschew vegetarianism, particularly the vegan variety)—I’m just a little astounded.

There’s your thought for the day.

September 23rd 2004

seriously, these internet quizzes are spooky

I’m Dogbert!

Dogbert’s not-so-secret ambition is to conquer the world and enslave all humans. He anointed himself St. Dogbert, and as such takes special delight in exorcising the demons of stupidity.

Which Dilbert character are you?

September 22nd 2004

glargh!

Gmail is still pestering me with invites. If you don’t already have Gmail (and if you don’t, what rock have you been under? Unless, of course, you think Gmail is too creepy.) please, please, PLEASE take them away from me.

Oh, and if you’re going to ask for an invite from me, please have the courtesy to use it. Seriously, I want to get rid of them, and when I send you one and you let it expire, well, that’s just rude.

Bitter? Rich?

Last night I went to study for the LSAT at one of my favorite watering holes—I was hungry and they have good pub food, and I also really wanted a beer.

So there I was, on the patio, drinking my beer and munching on my chicken strips, slogging through Kaplan’s LSAT 180. The table next to me was populated by two guys having a drink together, and I didn’t even notice them until one of them got up to leave and said something about having a mediation today. Ah, I thought, lawyers having happy hour.

The next thing I know, the remaining fellow intones over my shoulder, “Don’t do it.” I turn to look, and he’s got a sort of wistful smirk on his face. He says it again, “Don’t do it.”

Continuing, “We noticed as soon as you pulled out your books. We’re both 10-year litigators, and we’re already bitter. Don’t do it.”

I said, “Oh, I want nothing to do with a courtroom. I just want to teach.”

He replied, “Just watch out. We’re bitter. We have lots of money, but we’re bitter.”

What I can’t figure out is why anyone would go through the hassle of three years of law school, BarBri, junior associateship, and thousands in student loans if they don’t actually want to do what they are doing. Or, rather, I get it, but I don’t know that I appreciate the bitter species intruding on my happy (perhaps delusional) desire to teach lawyers to write better.

September 21st 2004

one of THOSE weeks

I’m having difficulty remembering what day of the week it is. This does not bode well for my productivity.

I may have topped out

Another practice LSAT and, despite actually finishing the games section, I didn’t get any more questions right and pulled off the same exact score as my last practice LSAT.

I keep reminding myself that this particular score is a GOOD score, that it will get me into many schools, if not the schools I most want to get into. I keep reminding myself that I have a good GPA that will help, and my personal statement will be stellar. I am, in other words, pumping myself up. I worry that I may be setting myself up for a fall, in fact.

So in the back my mind, I remind myself that if I get into a school that is not at the top of my list, I can always attempt to transfer.

It’s hard to have grand ambitions that will be at least slightly thwarted by not attending one of my top choice schools. I am optimistic, but I am also trying very hard to be realistic.

September 20th 2004

reviews

I’m not generally very good at reviews, but I recently enjoyed two movies and a novel that I’ll share some general comments on.

First—and I admit it’s a little out of date, but I didn’t really make it out for the summer movie season—we rented 50 First Dates this weekend. I should preface by saying that, in general, I can only take so much Adam Sandler. He’s funny and endearing and all that, but often the humor gets to be a little too much. Still, this was a cute movie—a good rental, in fact. Sweet and charming, and there were some damn funny lines, one in particular delivered perfectly by Dan Ackroyd. (Who is another comedian I can usually only take so much of. Thank goodness he seems lately to be restricting himself to small, juicy roles.)

Second movie: Hero. We saw this last night at the local have-dinner-while-you-watch-the-movie movie theater. (We had some free tickets and a buy-one-get-one free dinner coupon. A cheap evening!) OK, I like kung fu movies. I loved Crouching Tiger. I don’t really have an opinion on Jet Li, but he’s certainly talented. My one beef with this film was that it seemed like a flim version of a story that might have been recounted by one of the main characters in Crouching Tiger. (Or, even, with a stretch, Kill Bill.) It hardly seemed worth a whole movie. Very symbolic throughout, though, with some beautiful cinematography. I’m glad we didn’t pay regular movie prices for it, but it was nice to see on the big screen.

Lastly, the novel: The Time-Traveler’s Wife. I am only 3/4 of the way through this book and I already have the feeling that I may cry at the end. I have a sinking suspicion that, while it may not have an unhappy ending, it probably won’t end with sweetness and light. But it’s marvelous, nonetheless. The writing is really excellent, particularly the author’s use of dialog. I am eating the book up, far too quickly, really, since I just started it Saturday afternoon, and I wish I weren’t almost done with it. I’ll probably reread it.

So there are my opinions on three things, and, if you think about it, a brief recap of my weekend.

September 18th 2004

The end is in sight

My meeting to go over my personal statement went swimmingly. My prof thought what I’d written was “300% better than the others.” It has nice structure, some lovely sentences, and lacks commentary on two or three things. (I expected to be told it was missing certain elements. But I didn’t want to keep writing and writing and writing unless I knew it was going in the right direction. My writing confidence needs a boost, I guess.)

The meeting went so well that the discussion of my statement lasted only about 15 minutes. Maybe that’s not good, now that I think about it—it probably indicates there wasn’t anything substantial enough to work on yesterday. In any case, I have a draft to work on, instead of trying to start something new again. Whew!

After we’d discussed my statement, the appointment devolved into my giving him some computer advice. We discussed fonts, putting pictures in Word effectively, and a number of other tidbits. Sometimes I think this particular professor likes me because I help him with his iMac.

At any rate, my mood—which for most of last week was wretched—is dramatically improved. I slept the good sleep last night, and I’d been missing that. Something must be going right for me.

September 17th 2004

free stuff!

A friend of mine who works for a spa just called me and asked if I wanted to “model” for a salt scrub and massage next week. They just hired a new masseuse and she needs to train on spa procedures.

Hella yeah, I want free spa stuff! Are you kidding? I was just thinking to myself that I needed to take some birthday money and go splurge on a massage. Now I don’t have to.

My angst right now is

My angst right now is not divine at all.

I am meeting with my writing prof (who is helping me edit my personal statement) in less than four hours. I currently am in love with what I’ve written; I can see some of its weak points, but mostly, it’s pretty good.

I am petrified, however, that he will hate it. Or think it’s wrong for law school, or think it’s wrong for me, or something equally awful.

Yargh! I need to get some work done, and I can’t really concentrate at all since I’m so worried about this meeting this afternoon. Oh, and I spent the morning reinstalling my system software because for some reason Firefox stopped opening. And Mozilla. And Netscape. You know, all the good third-party browsers.

September 16th 2004

OK

I reread the statement again, after thinking last night that it dwelled too much on “this” or “that.” After all, my other statements seemed great when I wrote them, but on revisiting were just wretched.

But, no—it’s still something I’m proud to have written. Sure, it needs some good old-fashioned editing, but it’s essentially the statement I wanted to write. I’m proud of it.

Whew! What a relief!

September 15th 2004

the time wasn’t right

I sat down last night and started a new draft of a new personal statement.

This time, I think I got it right.

As a sign that I wasn’t meant to write it before now, the first sentence that appeared on my screen related to something that happened to me last weekend.

Finally, finally, I have gotten past the need to explain myself, to almost apologize for not “getting it” until now. And I found the words to express what’s really been going on in my overheated brain. I even found a structure that works really well for what I’m trying to say.

In other words, I’m glad I walked away from the damn thing for close to a month. It helped. Of course, this is a lesson I’ve learned a million times before: walk away from your writing when you can’t see it clearly anymore. Distance=perspective.

I think this is going to be a good month.

September 14th 2004

wahoo two!

Another practice LSAT Games section tonight. Finished with 1:45 to spare, and I answered everything right.

The law school gods are telling me this means I need to write my personal statement.

evacuation

My best friend, who just started culinary school in south Louisiana, is evacuating.

She just moved into her new apartment this past weekend—her landlord needed an extra week or so to get it ready for her. She called bright and early yesterday morning to set up her renter’s insurance and was told, “No. It’s too late for you to get insurance.”

Honestly, this sucks for her. I have no doubt that there are unscrupulous people who would forgo insurance until a natural disaster was impending. L., however, is legitimately in need of renter’s insurance for the next two years. And she can’t get it right now because of that damn hurricane.

So, think many happy thoughts for my friend L. and all of her furniture and clothing. She and her computer will be weathering in Baton Rouge.

Computers?

Over at Blawg Wisdom the request of the day was for laptop recommendations. And Nuts and Boalts had this response. I threw in a comment, wondering why people always advise other people against getting Macs.

Nuts responded:

Mac’s have the windows platform available to them, so compatibility with respect to exams is not that much of an issue (especially since now you don’t turn exams in on floppy’s). Compatibility with the network is. I know of only one Ibook user and he’s had a bit of trouble using the wireless connection. So far as I understand it, using the windows platform on Mac slows the computer down, which defeats the purpose of having a Mac in the first place. Factoring in cost, the lack of heavy graphics use during law school, I see no reason to purchase a mac given the PC alternative, unless as I said before you’re just too accustomed to the Mac OS.

My first response to this response is: “IGNORANCE!!”

See, people who don’t know anything about Macs assume that it must be the OS itself that causes problems when, in fact, it’s usually user error—as in 99% of all other computer problems. But Mac OS X is supposed to be so simple to use, I think many people assume that when problems do occur, it must be that the operating system can’t handle sophisticated usage.

So here’s my slightly longer, more in-depth response:

First, about this mythical student who can’t get on the wireless network because Virtual PC is too slow…well, the wireless network, for internet connectivity, should never require Windows. So if he’s using Virtual PC to connect to the network, well, there’s the major problem. A wireless network is a wireless network, and the operating system doesn’t matter as long as you have a wireless card.

But perhaps the real issue is that this fellow can’t print to network printers—that could, indeed, be a problem, particularly if the printers use protocols that are not Mac-friendly. This doesn’t mean the Mac user can’t print to a Windows network printer. He doesn’t even need to go bother the IT department in most cases. Usually, if he downloads an open-source UNIX driver for these kinds of problems (gimp-print is one), he should be able to print to his heart’s content.

I also think it’s interesting that many people assume the only reason to get a Mac is because they’re better with graphics. Don’t forget, please, they’re also more stable, less vulnerable to viruses, and, let’s not forget, very snazzy looking.

I think the most important thing anyone looking to buy a laptop should consider is, “What are you comfortable with?” Sure, there are other, law-school-specific issues to consider. But if you’ve been using a Mac since your freshman year in college and like it, don’t run out and buy a Windows machine just because the law school says they don’t support Macs. They may not support them, but you shouldn’t need much help anyway. As for the cost difference, laptops are all pretty expensive. A low-end, new, Windows laptop from a big-name company (Dell, IBM, etc.) is going to cost you as much as the same, low-end Mac laptop (the iBook). A high-end laptop from a big-name company will cost you as much, if not more, than the same, high-end Map laptop (PowerBook). Do the cost comparison, making sure you equalize all the components (optical drive, hard drive, RAM, sound card, ethernet card, USB and FireWire ports, etc.). I think you’ll find that the Mac is competitive. (Where Macs aren’t competitive is in the desktop arena, but most people who spend lots of money on the high-end Mac desktops are in graphics, video, sound or other industries where a Mac is more appropriate than a PC, so Macs don’t have to be as competitive price-wise.)

Remember—a Mac can do anything a Windows machine can, and everything you might need in law school (except perhaps use platform-specific exam software). Buy what makes you happy and what you will be comfortable with.

more change

I’ve made the full switch over to Haloscan comments as well as trackbacks. Old comments are still available for viewing, but new posts won’t have Blogger comments anymore.

I think making changes on my blog is a safe way to dramatically alter things about my life without actually having to change. All the impending change in my life has been making me nervous lately.

I say impending, but really, I’ve already had some big shifts this year. I got married, for one. Then my mother, who has been within an hour’s drive for the last five years, moved several hundred miles and one time zone away. My best friend, who was also within an hour’s drive, also moved several hundred miles away—in the other direction. Suddenly, my nice framework and support system got hugely shakier. I find myself calling my mom three times as often as I used to when she lived close, just because I know I can’t hop in the car and drive on down. It’s been rougher than I expected.

Along with these recent changes, we’re both planning for graduate school and a move that will take us even farther away from here. The rest of my family is all here, or near here, so I’ll be stretching that support system even thinner. We’ll have no jobs, lots of debt, little security, and absolutely no idea what we’re doing. All this change smells scary to me today. What on earth could we be thinking?

I know the answer—we’re thinking that we need to do what is right for us. And some days, I am exhilarated by the thought of stepping out into the unknown. Other days, though—days like today—I’m petrified.

So I dabble with easy change, like blog change, or hair color change, or putting on a pair of earrings I haven’t worn in two years. Because on a day like today, that’s the only change I can handle.

September 13th 2004

is this legal?

Help me out here, fellow blawgers.

Moulton woman says she lost job for sporting Kerry sticker on car

Can an employer legally fire someone for having a political sticker on their personal vehicle? What about in states where employment is “at will”?