February 28th 2005

rankings make decisions harder, not easier

I’ve been thinking a lot about the decision Mr. Angst and I will be making in a few weeks. Picking schools is going to be hard if we end up with multiple choices (which I think we will).

So I guess it’s lucky, then, that right about the same time I’ve been dwelling on this very issue, Profs. Bernstein and Kerr over at The Volokh Conspiracy have been discussing the wisdom of choosing the highest-ranked school one gets into. Bernstein starts by saying lots of his students at GMU chose it over the higher-ranked Georges in the DC area. He doesn’t offer much reasoning for it, just states it as fact. Kerr then adds that the reason everyone says students should go to the highest ranked schools they get into is primarily because such a choice opens more doors. Bernstein finishes up by agreeing with Kerr, then outlines a few reasons why someone might choose GMU over the higher-ranked Georges in DC—these include geography, cost, specific programs, etc.

It was only in that last post that I saw any recognition that non-traditional students may have different needs than fresh-out-of-college kids—particularly in the mention of geography and commuting. Frankly, the conventional wisdom—that you should go to the highest-ranked school you get into—really only applies to people who are unattached. When you’re married, or have kids, or own a home, or have a partner also going to school, picking up and moving clear across the country for a school just because it’s higher ranked seems like pure folly.

Now, Mr. Angst and I are going to move, sell our house, and uproot from this place that we love, mostly because there aren’t any programs here for him. And we’re excited about moving—it’ll be nice to live somewhere else—but we’re not exactly doing it just for kicks, you know?

If I had the freedom to choose a law school based solely on rank, I would have already sent in my seat deposit. But there are other things for me to consider—how happy will we be? How much time will we have together? How expensive will each city be and how much debt will we be in? One city has a nearby network of family and friends, the other doesn’t. Unfortunately, the social network doesn’t correspond with my schools’ ranks—but it does with Mr. Angst’s.

Of course the rankings weigh on my mind—I’d love to teach someday, and I can’t help but acknowledge that if we make certain choices, I might not be in a position to enter legal academia easily. But I also know that my dream career won’t be worth much if I have to sacrifice my family for it. And my dream career will probably taste slightly bitter if I know Mr. Angst gave up his own opportunities for me.

So I wish there was some recognition out there that not everyone can make the choice they want to, for whatever reason. And there should be more advice for people in that position. Here’s mine: don’t regret. When you decide on your school, if it’s not the decision you really wanted to make, figure out what you need to do to be content with it. Three years is a long time to walk around feeling like you made a bad choice.

Update: Chris Geidner at LawDork comments another bit of “conventional wisdom” referenced in Bernstein’s last post—that aspiring academics must go to the very top schools. Even I know this can’t be true, but it still gnaws at me. Chris puts some numbers and names out there to prove it’s not true. Thanks, Chris, for giving a hopeful future academic some…um…hope.

you know what I LOVE?

I love it when you go home for lunch, planning to empty and refill the dishwasher, start up tonight’s pasta sauce in the crockpot, and then enjoy a nice grilled-cheese sandwich—or maybe a salad—but instead, when you reach up on top of the fridge to put a big spoon in the utensil jar, you knock off a bottle of balsamic vinegar which then shatters all over the kitchen floor.

I LOVE that.

good random fun for Monday morning-ish


You are a guitar.



You are a musical genius… congratulations. Most people think you are a little obsessed with music, but that’s okay. You don’t care what other people think. You are independent, and would rather have a few good (and weird) friends than a lot of not-so-good ones. You may feel that people run down your eccentricity, but that’s only because they’re jealous. You will most likely become very successful with your musical talent. \m/ Rock on!

Most compatible with: Drumstick.

Click here — What Random Object Represents Your Inner Self?

E. McPan, you’re MINE!

February 27th 2005

Oscar’s a hottie

I’m too lazy to blog the Oscars, but Althouse is already on the ball with the pre-show stuff. I’ll be refreshing all night, even as I watch.

mmm…butter and strawberries and mmmm.

Dave! asks how to make strawberry butter.

I will tell you because…mmmm….MMMMMM….strawberry butter is the Best Thing on Earth. Ever.

Soften a stick of butter. It’s got to be nice and soft, but not melted, or it won’t work. Just pull a stick out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature. (You can speed this up by gently nuking the butter on low for 15 or 30 seconds at a time, but be careful not to melt the it.)

Put the butter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Or use a hand mixer—but the butter has to be really soft or it’ll just fly everywhere. Or you can use the food processor if you’re making more than one stick of butter’s worth (one stick usually is too little and just gets stuck to the sides of the bowl).

Whip the butter for a few seconds, to get it nice and light and fluffy. Scoop in a generous spoonful of good strawberry jam or preserves and whip that in. Pick preserves or jam that you would like on toast—it’s got to have the right amount of sweetness for your tastes.

Once the butter and preserves are all nice and whipped together, transfer into a serving dish—a little ramekin, maybe—and smear on warm croissants or other flaky bread/pastry. Store in an airtight container—I have little 8 oz. Tupperware containers for just these sorts of small things. The strawberry butter won’t keep much longer than about 2 weeks, but don’t worry—it wont last that long. You’ll find yourself sneaking into the fridge in the middle of the night to make strawberry butter toast.

(If you want to be really homemade, you can use real strawberries, macerated in sugar, but you have to let them get nice and mushy before you attempt to incorporate them. And you’ll need to make sure to add enough sugar or the butter won’t be sweet enough. And it won’t keep very long at all, since the strawberries will turn rancid after about 4 days. But doing this way will give you lots of kitchen cred.)

Sundays are the BEST

I had a morning off of choir, so Mr. Angst and I slept in. We went to his church, which has been recently renovated and has a better choir than my church. I was awash in sensory bliss between the hand-painted detailing and the Gregorian chant.

To make the morning even better, we came home and made brunch. I have this thing where I don’t really order food at restaurants that I can make myself. What’s the point, after all? I can’t always hold to this, but I try. One thing we always love to have at brunch is Eggs Benedict, but to get it at a restaurant on Sunday, you have to deal with hour-and-a-half waits. So I learned to make it myself (and rarely order it out anymore, unless it’s got something special, like crab cakes, which I haven’t mastered).

So Eggs Benedict was on our menu this morning. But because it’s Oscar Sunday, we thought we’d do it up even fancier. I made strawberry butter and we warmed some croissants; our eggs were on puff pastry with breakfast sausage instead of English muffins and Canadian bacon. And we topped it all off with homemade cappuccino and mimosas.

I am, again, awash in sensory bliss. It is sunny out, and just the right temperature, and we are listening to Nat King Cole and sipping our drinks and reading.

I love Sundays.

February 26th 2005

sometimes i hate TV

Jennifer Love Hewitt is in some new movie on Oxygen (”an Oxygen Original”) and the title of is something like, “True Stories of a Sociopathic Social Climber.”

Not only is this the worst title ever, especially since it appears that they are trying to make her a sympathetic character, but this movie also has “Joseph Lawrence” in it.

Wait, Joseph Lawrence? As in, JOEY Lawrence? As in, the doofus middle brother from Blossom? And he’s the gay best friend to (the other) J.Lo?

Wow. Guess he got a new agent. And she needs one.

travel planning without planning

GW sent me an invitation to a dinner at the end of March for scholarship recipients. It’s just before Preview Day, and I’d like to be able to go—my previous visit to GW was during finals, so I didn’t get much sense of the student population. But I don’t want to go if I don’t know that we’ll end up in DC.

I have three weeks to RSVP. Hopefully, Mr. Angst will hear something from DC by then so I’ll have time to get a plane ticket and a hotel reservation.

Blargh.

show me yours and I’ll show you mine

E. McPan has a thing for tats.

I have a tattoo of the kanji character “ai” (that would be “love”) on my lower back. Mr. Angst got it for me for our first dating anniversary. No, we don’t give each other body modifications for all of our special occasions—I had just wanted this tattoo, and Mr. Angst got it for me.

The interesting part is when we went to the shop and tried to use the gift certificate he’d bought. The guy with the half-dollar sized rounds in his earlobes looked at us in our khaki shorts and flip-flops, and told us he wouldn’t honor it.

“All our artists are independent contractors, guys, and none of them are going to be willing to take a piece of paper for that tat. That’s a really hard tattoo, and the gift certificate isn’t going to be enough. And you’ll have to wait at least an hour before someone is free, because all my people are working on more important people.”

OK, he didn’t say that last sentence, but he might as well have.

So we went to the other location of this particular tattoo shop, this time the one by campus. Presumably, they see less of the “hard-core” tattoo crowd. The artist on duty was totally willing to do my tattoo for the amount of the gift certificate, and to take the certificate, and he was free right then and there.

It hurt like hell. It was like the pain of pricking your finger for a blood test, or pulling a very small section of hair, but it was continuous for about 20 minutes. Once it was over, though, it was over and I had a nice little tattoo at the base of my spine.

Sometimes I forget I have it—it’s not like I can see it every day. And when I do catch a glimpse of it, or recall that it’s there, I always smile. It’s love! On my back! In black ink, forever and ever.

advice and thanks-ful-ness

CM has a great post on prepping for the law school adventure. If you’re pre-law, I highly recommend checking it out.

On a completely different pre-law note, I am so glad—no, wait, that’s not strong enough—SO GLAD that I do not have to find a roommate for law school. Every now and then, I see a stressed-out post on the boards about finding roomates; I see them on the accepted student sites that I have access to, also.

SO GLAD. I have a roommate, and he’s dandy. Don’t need another, thankee.

February 25th 2005

a very bad poem, brought to you out of pure frustration

oh, georgetown,
every day i statuscheck—
click: name, click: password,
status: complete

but i am not complete,
not without you.
i beg for, plead for
closure—
i see it in my dreams,
click: name, click: password,
status: decision

pining here,
waiting and hoping,
i plead—
give me relief
even if relief
is rejection

if i had something more interesting to post about, I would

I picked up a replacement coffee carafe today at lunch. Thank God for Bed, Bath and Beyond.

However, during the purchasing foray, both the cashier and the old man at the next register told me I should get a stainless steel thermos-typel coffeepot. Thanks, unsolicited advice. I never really know how to respond to those kinds of comments. “Um, thanks, but we have a coffeemaker that takes a glass carafe.”

Now to my lo mein.

February 24th 2005

I knew it was coming, but it still sucks

The University of Chicago is unable to offer me a place in their class of 2008.

As the title of this post suggests, this was not an unanticipated outcome. My numbers are WAY low for Chicago and, this year, they seem to be focusing strongly on numbers (at least, if you believe Law School Numbers).

And also, as the title of this post states, in some ways, I am very sad—I have a strong interest in teaching, and Chicago is noted for producing legal academics.

But in other ways, I am not so sad. Mr. Angst says he would have been uncomfortable with me spending so much time in a marginally safe part of Chicago, although I think if I decided to attend UoC, he would have made his peace with that. Part of me wonders also how well I’d fit in at Chicago. I’d like to think that I would thrive in such a serious academic environment but I also think I need lots of vibrance in my life. Perhaps UoC could have provided that, in the “work hard, play hard” way—but perhaps not.

I’m trying not to write things that give off an air of sour grapes—after all, this wasn’t an unexpected ding. But some of the things I hear coming out of my mouth or ringing through my mind have that tone—mostly because I’m attributing things to UoC that I don’t necessarily know are true. I hear myself saying I would be unhappy there because I have libertarian leanings; because I tend to think more like a businessperson than an academic. And I have no idea if any of these statements are true.

But I know this: I was up against some very talented people. Not getting into Chicago isn’t a huge ego blow. I’m glad I tried, even after my LSAT. I’m sorry I didn’t get in, but I’m also glad I don’t have to choose between NU and UoC.

wackadoos

Look at all the pretty colors!

Some teachers reported that Narconon instructors told students that the body can sweat out drug residues in saunas, and that as drugs exit the body, they produce colored ooze, the Chronicle reported.

Some other inaccuracies cited by the evaluation and the Chronicle — including that drug residues stay in body fat, causing people to experience repeated flashbacks and cravings — echo beliefs held by the Church of Scientology.

something to pass the time

I think I’m going to start taking a yoga class again. I found one at my gym that meets twice a week at 7pm, right when Mr. Angst is in class. I need something to keep my mind off the waiting, the waiting, the waiting.

On another note, I broke my coffeepot this morning, so I have to figure out where I can get a new one. I know I can order one online, but I don’t know that I can wait that long for a new carafe. I need my morning coffee!

Lastly, I want to apologize to the weather gods for complaining about 80 degree weather earlier this week. I’m terribly, terribly sorry—but I don’t think my ungratefulness warranted the 30 degree drop. Could you at least give us the sun back?

i love

Oh, please, can I have one of these for Christmas???

very cool

Just got a fresh install of Office 2004 for the Mac (at work).

This software rocks. I admit it, I am not a huge fan of M$, but they did some really nice things with Word. Notebook view allows you to outline your notes (much like OmniOutliner, which I love); you can also record audio and it associates with the text you’re creating at the time of recording.

I’m still playing with it, but I think I’m really going to like some of these new features. Does anyone else have experience with Office 2004? Are there other cool things I should play with?

February 23rd 2005

here’s a funny

Mr. Angst called me this morning to report that his SAR (that’s “Student Aid Report”) had flagged a particular item on his FAFSA—specifically, the item where he reported that there would be 2 persons in our household in college next year. Right under the item where he reported that there are 2 persons in our household total. (Never mind that the phrase “in college” is, in itself, incorrect.)

I checked my own SAR and, sure enough, the same item was flagged.

Now, as this information is correct, we were both a bit confused. He was more agitated than I—this is his first experience with the FAFSA. And as I looked for information on the FAFSA website, I got a little nervous myself. They say they flag information that is “inconsistent” with other parts of your application.

I couldn’t figure out how this information could be inconsistent with anything else, so I called. I actually talked to a person! And you know what she told me?

“Oh, no, don’t worry about it. It’s fine.”

This doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in the FAFSA folks. Maybe they just can’t comprehend that two people—married, independent people—would be going to school at the same time. I admit it, it’s a little insane, but it can’t be that unusual. Can it?

it’s a stereotype come to life!

It appears a hard rock musician has found Jesus.

Wow. It’s just like they always told us in Sunday school!

admissions roundup

  • Received my Northwestern admissions packet yesterday—it’s a giant binder full of information, much of which is available on their website. Still, some of it I hadn’t seen before, and it’s a nice thing to have.
  • UT’s status check remains at complete.
  • So does Georgetown’s.
  • I haven’t heard a peep from Chicago in two months.

On one bright note, our FAFSAs are turned in and our taxes are done. Still probably need to send copies of our W2s and such to various schools.

Limbo, everybody do the limbo.