Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, January 31, 2005

I just got back from the first session of "Health Care Institutions." And something the professor said I think helped to crystallize in my mind a little about what's frustrating about law school. He started to talk through a high-level overview of health care systems and the key elements to be aware of, and a couple of times, when he got to something that sounded interesting -- health care quality, or the doctor-patient relationship, for example -- he added a disclaimer, that this course wouldn't focus much on those issues but instead be about the litigation and regulation. About the law. Of course this isn't a complaint about the professor at all -- it's a law school class; of course I should expect it's going to be about the law. But it seems like the most interesting parts of some of the subjects we can study -- the most compelling pieces of the puzzle, the most engaging angles to look at -- are not the legal ones. I think talking about how to improve patient care is a lot more interesting than talking about the legal regime surrounding managed care health insurance programs. Probably both are worth talking about. As I type this, I realize it's a silly complaint. That if I wanted policy school, I'm just in the wrong place, and how can I really be at all disappointed that *law* school talks about law. I can't. But it's a little underwhelming to sit in a class and feel like the parts of the subject that would be really interesting to learn about are all of the parts that won't be covered, and the parts that *will* be covered sound kind of dry. It's probably just me. Oh well. Looks like a decent class regardless.
First class of spring term starts in 30 minutes. I'm looking forward to new classes. Gotta write a law school newspaper column this week, and still need a topic. Maybe grades, since we got them not so long ago. Maybe snow. Maybe Iraqi elections. I hope John Kerry won. I am so woefully underinformed about anything happening in Iraq. Drudge has a picture of someone with a purple finger. I have no idea what that means. I'm guessing maybe it's how they're marking people who've voted, and maybe that's right, but, really, I just haven't read any articles or watched any TV. My first instinct was wondering why Iraqi voters have to deal with a form that involves fingerpainting. And we thought the butterfly ballot was confusing. I wonder why purple. Do they have the same red state / blue state issues as we do, and this is a compromise? Red desert / blue desert?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I bought my books yesterday for spring semester, which starts on Monday. One of the books is a 1416-page behemoth of a casebook. And yet, the first line of the editors' note: "No single volume can contain all that an instructor would like to convey to law students concerning...." Um, FOURTEEN HUNDRED PAGES. I think you came pretty close, Professor. No single volume? Is there a part two? Are we machines?

I've waited until this final semester to deal with the professional responsibility requirement. The bookstore had a whole bunch of used copies of the casebook, so I spent ten minutes flipping through looking for the least highlighted one I could find. I've heard multiple strategies on this. Some people like the highlights because it saves them reading. But how can you trust someone else's highlights? It's a very personal thing. I don't want someone else's incorrect or sloppy or distracting notes vying for my attention on the page. 1L year, my Criminal Law book was used and someone had written on one of the pages, "The person next to me sucks" or something like that (I've blogged about this before, and used the exact quote -- I'm just paraphrasing now, because it's not important, but you get the point), in really big letters, and we spent a lot of time on that page, and I had to cover it with my arm so the person next to me wouldn't see and think that I wrote it. It was quite frustrating, and something I've tried to avoid since. Anyway, I was looking through the used books and came across one that had a friend's name on the inside cover. So at first I was inclined to buy his book, just because I thought that would be cool. But I flipped through it, and he'd taken really sloppy and illegible notes in the margins and it was all a big distracting mess. I've lost respect for him (I'm kidding). I didn't buy his book. Instead I bought the book used by someone who did about 2 weeks of reading, carefully underlining the important parts of about 30 pages of the book, and then never opened the book again. Much better.

Two of my classes don't seem to have any books (yet?), which probably means a thousand-page packet, or some other monstrosity. That's okay. I like packet reading better than casebook reading. At least there's always a chance for something interesting -- a newspaper article, a graphic, something that ends a third of the way down the page. There's potential surprises in a packet. Not in a casebook. It's just cases, and notes, and questions, and problems with no answers, and answers with no problems, and... and... it's FOURTEEN HUNDRED PAGES.
If you're a baseball fan, check out Athletics Nation's awesome three-part interview with A's GM Billy Beane. The link is to part III, which has the links to parts I and II. It's really quite in-depth and interesting and a worthwhile read.

I saw the first fantasy baseball magazine of the season at a newsstand the other day and couldn't resist wasting $7. I'm kind of obsessed. I'm kind of wishing I was in at least one keeper league (people who don't have any idea what I'm talking about can just skip over the rest of this entry, it'll bore you), just to make it even cooler -- I'm in a couple of leagues with friends but we re-draft every year from scratch. Actually, if anyone's got an open spot and looking for someone, shoot me an e-mail. Awesome.

Friday, January 28, 2005

To the tune of "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls

Yo, I'll tell you what I got, what I really really got,
So tell me what you got, what you really really got,
I'll tell you what I got, what I really really got,
So tell me what you got, what you really really got,
I got a, I got a, I got a, I got a, I got a B in legal research and an A in fed courts.

If you tell me your grades, I'll tell you mine
I did somewhere in between okay and fine
Will you be clerking, or at a firm
Did you hear that one prof gave all A's this term

I'll tell you what I got, what I really really got, So tell me what you got, what you really really got, I got a, I got a, I got a, I got a, I got a B in corporations and an A in fed lit.

If you wanna get a clerkship, you gotta get only A's,
One B-plus is fatal, living barely pays
If you wanna clerk for Breyer, hope A-plus is all
One A-minus and your dreams are gonna fall.

What do you think about Torts, now you know how I feel,
Say you can handle that test, are you for real,
I'll write a paper, easy A instead
If I get a B I may as well be dead

Yo I'll tell you what I got, what I really really got, So tell me what you got, what you really really got, I got a, I got a, I got a, I got a, I got a B in mediation and an A in crim pro.

If you wanna teach at law school, you gotta get only A's,
One B means you ought to set yourself ablaze
If you wanna clerk for Posner, you have got to try
One okay semester, and you may as well die

So here's a story from A to B, you wanna nice degree you gotta listen carefully, You got A's in the course bout children and divorce, you did better than me I fumbled an Easy B didn't come for free, stole an answer key, and now they're coming after me, Grades are coming soon, I'm checking them at noon
Grades are coming soon, I'm checking them at noon

If you wanna get a clerkship, you gotta get only A's,
One B-plus is fatal, living barely pays
If you wanna clerk for Breyer, hope A-plus is all
One A-minus and your dreams are gonna fall.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sorry no post yesterday. I promise I'll make up for it Friday with something cool yet to be determined.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

CNN headline: "261 pilgrims die in stampede on way to shrine." I saw that and thought of Pilgrims, like the 1620 kind. I'm guessing that's not who they mean. 3-pointed hats, the Mayflower, what kind of shrine were they going to?

One of the undergrad alumni e-mail lists I read is for lawyers. A post the other day: "If you is a banruptcy attorney willing to answer a few questions and provide some advice to a 1st year associte, please contace me me at [address]."

Our educational system at work.
Blog updates. Congrats to Chris Geidner on buying a domain name. His very worthwhile blog has moved here. He does more law than I do. Although so does most everyone. And the two authors of Pandagon, a neat blog about politics that I've liked for a while, have split up, with one staying at the site and the other moving here.

Monday, January 24, 2005

A friend sent me an e-mail with a suggestion for a blog post about the loyalties of people to undergrad vs. law school, prompted by my post a few days ago saying that I give money to Princeton but don't plan on giving to Harvard. I think it's definitely the case that people have more loyalty, on the whole, to where they went to undergrad. Of course, half the people here went to undergrad at Harvard. :) Naw, it's only about a third. But, really, I find that people talk about loyalty to undergrad -- sports teams, etc -- more than to law school. Which makes sense, since undergrad is a more formative experience, and law school, for a lot of people, is much closer to a job. Plus we've all already done this stuff before. And, in any case, no one wants to be stuck rooting for Harvard sports teams. People wear undergrad clothing, I guess -- although I don't notice a ton of it. People also wear Harvard stuff, but, again, I don't notice a ton of it. I may just not be noticing it.

The other part of my friend's question was about whether everyone knows where everyone else went to college, and if this means anything in terms of social interaction. I know where most of friends and lots of my acquaintances went to college -- it's an easy conversation topic. I'm not sure about whether it makes a difference. I don't think I think any differently about someone who went to school X versus school Y, because we all got into law school so what's the difference. I don't know.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Boston Legal's not an entirely terrible show. I've caught the past 3 episodes. It's oddly compelling, although of no value for tomorrow's exam.
Waddling Thunder has some photos of the snow. We got a lot of it. Not enough to cancel tomorrow's exam, but that's okay. I guess.

One thing I've neglected to post about that was in the news this week was Harvard President Larry Summers's comments that women are not as good as men in math and science. I've been able to get my hands on a top-secret transcript of the rest of the speech.

"Good evening, members of the National Association for the Advancement of Women in Math and the Sciences. I was honored to be invited to speak to you this evening, and thought I would bring along the details about some new research you may not yet have heard about. It appears that women are in fact just not very good at math and science. I know this comes as a shock to all of you, since you are all quite distinguished in your fields, but it turns out you all must be men, because women and math are like oil and water or me and my ex-wife. They just don't mix. You've all taken a drastically wrong turn in your careers. You, Barbara, you should have been a factory worker. You, Janet, you should be a secretary. You, Phyllis, you should be a zookeeper. You, Susan, you should also be a secretary. You, Edna, you should be a secretary as well. Marie Curie should have been a school lunch lady. It's something we have to face. Your organization shouldn't exist, and all of you should be home ironing your husband's pants. Women just aren't much for this hard learning-type stuff. I'm sorry if I'm using words that are too big here today. I know this must be hard for you to follow. Don't be sad. We love you anyway. Thank you."

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I have an exam on Monday in my class on the Constitutional Convention. There were 55 men at the convention. Just for fun, without looking, I'm going to see how many I can name in 5 minutes. Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Rufus King, Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, James Wilson, Paterson, Ellsworth, Randolph, Butler, Gerry, Jenifer, Martin, Charles Pinkney, Col. Pinkney, Mason, Sherman, Rutledge, Dickinson. 5 Minutes up. Named 21. Now checking the list, the most prominent ones I left out: Bedford, Blair, Gorham, Pierce, Read. Eh, 21 of 55, I'll take it. Maybe I'll try this exercise again tomorrow.

Friday, January 21, 2005

We received a letter in the mail, asking for money. "We hope you will join in the tradition of giving back to the School...." Uh, law school's awfully expensive as it is. I don't know that I really understand this. Every school seems to do it, though. Asking graduating students for money, before we even graduate.* Aren't we giving enough? They've got an awful lot of money as it is. It's kind of silly. There are more worthy causes out there.

"We suggest that each class member contribute an amount of at least $20.05, but every penny would significantly help the Class Gift effort."

Not that I don't appreciate my education, because I do. But, just a comparison:

From the Red Cross website: "From floods and residential fires... to hurricanes that devastated entire communities throughout the southeast U.S.... and now preparing to support through our International Response Fund, relief efforts for the catastrophic earthquake and tsunamis that struck South Asia."

From the funding letter I received: "[N]ew furniture, wireless internet access, electrical outlets at every desk... the coffee stations before morning classes.... Alumni support... made these remarkable improvements possible."

I don't know....

*Full disclosure -- I do give money every year to Princeton, where I went to college. Not that much money ($10/year until this year, when I bumped that up to... $15), but I do feel some attachment, and want the alumni giving number to stay high... and don't want to end up on a list of people who don't give... so when I have kids they can go there too! If they want, I mean. :) For whatever reason, I feel less attachment to law school. Oh well.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Last week, the registrar e-mailed us that grades would be available online at noon today. We just received an e-mail. I'll present it in two halves.

"From the Registrar's Office, There will be a brief delay in releasing grades for fall semester on your personal on-line schedule."

Quick. Before you keep reading, I want you to guess the next sentence. How long is this delay. Any guesses? Good. Keep reading.

"Grades for fall semester will be available on your on-line schedule beginning at 1 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 20."

Was this e-mail really necessary? I mean, I've already checked for my grades twelve or thirteen times, just to see if they were up a little early, but for most people, who are more able to manage their curiosity (because at this point it really is just curiosity -- I don't think I really care if I got A's, B's, or Q's -- it really won't change my life -- but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'm curious -- force of habit, perhaps), was there really going to be a rush on the website at noon, and a riot in the streets of Cambridge if the grades weren't available for another hour.

OK, maybe there would be. And maybe, secretly, deep down, I'm really glad they sent the e-mail, because I would have refreshed the page seventy-four times in the hour between noon and 1. Not that I won't anyway. Might just be a ploy to throw us off. An evil registrar trick.

Because the registrar is known for evil tricks. See, e.g., exams that start at 8:30 in the morning.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ten Things You Don't Want To Hear A Professor Say When He's Talking About The Exam

1. "You may need a dictionary to translate some of the terms on the exam; dictionaries, however, will not be allowed."
2. "The questions may or may not relate to material we have covered in the course."
3. "There is always some amount of luck involved in whether there was enough toner in the printer to clearly print your exam questions."
4. "I just wrote the exam, and it's especially incomprehensible this year."
5. "Anyone who knows the material is likely to do quite poorly on the exam."
6. "I have no idea whether I will even bother grading the exam, or randomly assign marks instead."
7. "You will not be able to finish the exam in the time allotted, and may not in fact be able to start it."
8. "You may bring any written material except material written in English."
9. "The exam is either on Monday or Tuesday. I'm not sure I'll be able to let you know beforehand."
10. "No question is truly unanswerable, no matter how vague it may seem."

Monday, January 17, 2005

I watched "Iron Chef America" last night on the Food Network. I like the regular Iron Chef. But what makes it fun to watch is the foreign-ness of it. The dubbing. The deference of the chefs and the judges. The unusual ingredients and dishes. The campiness of it all. And what Food Network has done for Iron Chef America is stripped all of those elements out so we're left with just another cooking show. It doesn't have the same feel. It's a demonstration in how to destroy compelling TV by tweaking. I mean, it's not an awful show. But Iron Chef transcends being a food show and is interesting on sheer entertainment value. Iron Chef America is not. Someone at the Food Network apparently thought that Iron Chef worked because people care about the food. I think that's wrong. Iron Chef works because it's a glimpse into a different culture. Iron Chef America is not. Although I might imagine that Japanese-dubbed versions of it might work in Japan... maybe not....

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I saw the movie "The Woodsman" on Friday night, which was called "the feel-good movie of the year" by the National Association of Pedophiles. Kevin Bacon plays a guy who molests young girls. His real-life wife plays a woman who decides it's a good idea to get romantically involved with a child molester. And the Gods of Contrived Moviemaking decide it's totally legitimate that a child molester just out of prison should be allowed to live right across the street from an elementary school. Kevin Bacon did a fine job acting -- or, alternatively, he's actually a child molester. The movie was disturbing. I like movies about happy things. This wasn't one of them.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

How law school professors are incorporating the breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston into the curriculum

Civil Procedure: if Brad and Jen got married in New York, had a house in California, vacationed in the Caribbean, used plastic surgeons from Florida, and once had a fight in New Jersey, where can they file for divorce?

Contracts: if Jen signed a pre-nuptial agreement while under the influence of drugs, and it was later altered without her consent, is it valid?

Constitutional Law: can Brad own a gun to protect himself from Jen's violent outbursts regarding her unwillingness to have any children?

Administrative Law: which governmental body should be the one which creates rules against high-profile celebrity couples ever splitting up?

Copyright: does Brad own the pictures that US magazine published of him comforting African children in an attempt to illustrate his paternal instincts?

Law of the Sea: if Jen takes a cruise through international waters but leaps to her death after suffering a mental breakdown following the separation, can her body be exported back to the United States?

Antitrust: if Brad starts dating Angelina Jolie, will he have a monopoly on the attractive actress market and should the government step in?

Federal Indian Law: if Jen plays Pocahontas in the movie version, does that entitle her to reparation payments?

Law and Psychiatry: are Brad and Jen crazy for breaking up?

Professional Responsibility: is it ethical to spread gossip about Brad and Jen if you found out that Jen was barren while surfing the Internet in the office in your role as an attorney?

International Law: does Brad look a little bit Portuguese?
Malcolm Gladwell ("The Tipping Point")'s new book, "Blink," sounds fascinating according to this New York Times review.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I've received a number of e-mails asking me what the actual answer was to yesterday's question from class. Truth is, I have no idea, because I was paying attention to writing the weblog post, and not to what the professor was saying. I'm sorry. Mostly for myself, when it's a question on the exam.

Someone else sent me a link to a Yahoo article about Harvard hiring a "fun czar" to spice up student life.

Described by the student government chief as "a creative schemer," Corker has gone from student to administrator in a few short months. In exchange for room, board and a modest stipend, he now serves as the go-to guy for students who have ideas about social events but don't have the time or knowledge to navigate the school bureaucracy and bring them to fruition.

One week might see Corker putting the final touches on a speed-dating event; the next, he'll be working with students to organize a dodgeball tournament....

[According to Matt Mahan, outgoing president of the undergraduate student council,] "Harvard kids have planners that are booked solid from when they wake up to (when they) go to sleep, and that creates the perception that social life is somewhat lacking."
The article's about the undergrads, but I think the law school should do the same thing. We could have exciting events like Supreme Court argument reenactments, or a speed-footnoting tournament. Maybe a list that's actually about this coming tomorrow. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Why I'm glad I didn't just get called on in class.

Q: "The gun lobby's been really powerful. What does the gun lobby have that other groups don't?"

What my answer would have been: "Guns."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Federalist Papers: Readers Respond

For the class I'm taking this winter, we have to read a bunch of the Federalist Papers. When I bought my books for the class, it wasn't listed, and now the bookstore is sold out, so instead of going all the way to another bookstore (~6 minute walk, but it's cold and I'm lazy), I figured I'd check how cheap I could get it on Amazon. Of course, based on some of the reader reviews, maybe I should reconsider. I mean, I understand why reader reviews are cool and interesting and sometimes even useful. But what could possibly motivate someone to write a review of the Federalist Papers? Are people actually comparison shopping for "something by James Madison" and they want to pick the best thing they can find? I don't understand this. But it's really funny. These are all right from Amazon, from a variety of different versions of the Federalist.

"I have no idea why anyone would waste time and money on a book about the Constitution. The Constitution doesn't amount to a hill of beans! If you can move the polls, that's all that counts. Save your money on this one folks and learn how to spin!"

"The Federalist papers will become, if not already, a classic."

"Some passages are less thrilling than others but Nos. 10, 39, 48, and 51 are about as good as it gets."

"A very pleasant surprise, indeed! I am a normal, working class citizen and was given this book as a gift. My initial reaction was, "I will get to this when I can", but after turning the first 9 pages, I could not put it down!"

"I found this book to be one of the best books I ever read."

"great way to understand the original intent of the framers of the constitution... but its pretty effing boring."

"This is a very nice edition of the Federalist's Papers. An idea which was inaugurated by James Hamilton to help abate the opposition which was expected toward the newly written constitution." (James Hamilton??)

And quite possibly the most bizarre:
"DISCLOSURE: My father wrote this book. It won't be surprising that I give it five stars, but the work honestly merits it regardless of the reviewer,..."

Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm feeling better today. Just a cold. Passed a homeless guy on the street this evening, asking for change. "Spare change? No liquor." He was sitting in front of a liquor store. No credibility there. (I can't actually take credit for this observation. Thanks, Justin.) More funny I'm stealing from friends: I got an e-mail pointing out the irony of a store called Jam Paper. (Thanks, Nate.) My reply: it's better than the other store they own, Jam Plumbing Supply. Or perhaps most odd would be Jam Peanut Butter.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I feel kind of terrible today. I think it's just a cold, hopefully. It's keeping me from doing much of anything. Along with some Tylenol and Robitussin (I haven't gotten sick in a while -- I had nothing in my apartment to deal with this stuff at all), I bought a product this morning called Zicam Cold Remedy Chewables ($8.99). I'm convinced this is some sort of joke on the congested humanity. It says "actually shortens the cold" and claims to be these strawberry flavored chewables, powered by zinc, that you chew every three hours and they make you better. I've tried two of them so far. I'm completely unable to chew these things for more than fifteen seconds without gagging and having to spit it out. They're so horribly unpleasant. There's no "strawberry" flavor discernible, and the texture is simply not similar to any food item I've ever encountered. They're bizarrely unpalatable. I try to keep chewing, but I just can't. It says "satisfaction guaranteed" on the package. I'm going to test that proposal. I just sent them an e-mail. I'll let you know if they reply.

Hopefully something funny later.
I receive a couple of daily digests from undergrad alumni e-mail discussion groups. I don't know why I find this post to the career networking list so amusing:

I am researching the ice industry and am seeking information or contacts in that industry. While I am ultimately interested in Asia, I am starting with a global search, so contacts/info relating to ice in Europe or the Americas would be relevant as well. For clarity, I am talking about bagged, cubed ice, like the stuff you would pick up at your local gas station.

The ice industry??

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Houston Chronicle reports that Carlos Beltran is signing with the Mets. Assuming the story holds true, awesome. Beltran was on my fantasy baseball team in 1999, when he hit 22 homers and stole 27 bases in a pretty nifty rookie season. He was also on my team in 2000, when he hit 7 homers and stole 13 bases. Not as nifty. But he's a super player -- power-speed threat, great fielder, and just reaching his prime. I'd be really excited to see him as a Met, joining Pedro Martinez (and don't forget Miguel Cairo) as this offseason's acquisitions. Awesome.

Friday, January 07, 2005

This post is sponsored by the committee to waste paper.

Everyone got a flyer in our mailboxes today:

Important Reminder!!
The Law School will be moving from Blackboard to the iCommons MyHLS course management system for spring 2005 courses. You will receive an e-mail containing the web address for the new iCommons MyHLS course management system along with important Quick Reference Guides...

1. Why was it necessary to put a flyer in everyone's mailbox about this? There's no action we need to do. There's no way to "prepare" for this change, and no reason we would need to. Why does it matter?

2. Anyway: this is about an online thing. A computer thing. So why a printed flyer? Why *wouldn't* e-mail be OK for this? It's on the Internet.

3. There is no point 3.

4. Or point 4.

5. And yes, I'm really stretching for things to write about today.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

From the NY Times: "CNN has ended its relationship with the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and will shortly cancel its long-running daily political discussion program, 'Crossfire,' the new president of CNN, Jonathan Klein, said last night.... Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were 'hurting America.' Mr. Klein said last night, 'I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise.' He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion."

Other television programs being cancelled in response to criticism by celebrities:

1. In response to a comment by Colin Powell that he is "unsure" whether there is a such thing as a half-man, half-dragon, CBS announced the cancellation of "Two and a Half Men."

2. Recent revelations by Donald Trump's new bride have resulted in the cancellation of the ABC series, "Desperate Housewives."

3. Just a week after Mel Gibson lamented the poor treatment of kangaroos in Australian zoos, NBC has announced the cancellation of "Joey."
A high school student e-mailed me today and asked whether she should go to law school. I liked my reply, although it's really nothing revolutionary, so I thought I'd share it, in part to make up for my lack of a post yesterday. Edited slightly, mostly to hide the revelation that I wrote the response during class on wireless Internet. Which I guess I'm no longer hiding. I need to turn that switch off, I really do. Wireless Internet is terrible.

It's way too soon for you to be thinking about law school. Law school is different from medical school -- it doesn't have any requirements. You can be an English major, an engineer, a politics major, or a Romance Language and Literature major, and still go to law school. There are no course requirements. So you don't need to know now, and you don't even really need to know until 9 months before you want to start law school, whether that's right after college, or ten years from now.

If you are passionate about the law, and it sounds like you either are or are trying to convince yourself you are, law school can be an awful lot of fun. It's almost all theory at a place like here; we don't learn where people sign on a real estate contract or how to structure a deal when company A is buying company B. I'm taking a class this semester called Creation of the Constitution. As far as I can tell, there is no practical element of this class at all. We're learning today about state constitutions before the U.S. Constitution in 1776-1787. It's cool. If this kind of stuff excites you, law school is great.

That said, it's three years and a lot of money and if there's jobs in the real world you'd rather be doing, I'm not sure the intellectual passion is enough to make this worth it. Maybe it is. For some people it is, for some people it's not. The great thing is that you don't have to decide now, and you have 4 years of college to explore all sorts of passions and figure out what it is you love to do, love to think about, love to learn. Enjoy it. Don't worry about law school yet. You'll figure it out.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I was clicking around the Harvard site looking for post inspiration, and I have found it on the PIN Administration page. We use a PIN number for stuff like renewing library books, course selection, checking grades, and other thrilling administrivia. There's a page on the site entitled "Selecting A Good Pin" --

There are a number of ways to come up with a PIN that is very hard to guess. A few of the ways include:

the license plate rule (pretend to make up a vanity license plate)
use a pass phrase (a series of three or more words)
use the first or last characters of the words in a phrase or poem
combine a few deliberately misspelled words
create nonsense "words" that sound like English words but are not

The PIN system can suggest PINs if you want, or you can make up your own. You should use a PIN that you can remember rather than one you have to write down. Click below if you would like a randomly-generated suggestion.

It's this last suggestion that I find most interesting: the random PIN generator. I clicked a few times, and here's the suggestions it gave me.


Monday, January 03, 2005

On the bus back to Boston last night, I read "The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green," by Joshua Braff. Braff is Zach Braff's brother. Zach Braff is on "Scrubs" and wrote and starred in the movie "Garden State," which was pretty solid. Talented family. (Like the Epsteins in Boston -- Theo the GM of the Red Sox, his dad an English professor, his uncles(?) wrote Casablanca.) Good book. It was very engaging although I found myself getting tired toward the end. Good characters -- good quirks, good stuff going on. I liked it.

In a completely unrelated story, two of my friends have recently told me they got iPods and found the same phenomenon: compulsive song-switching. With 5000 songs on there, how can you listen to more than 10 seconds of a song without wanting to see what's next? So they switch. And switch. And switch. And can't listen to a whole song anymore. iPods are ruining the attention span of young people. There's my thesis. The people who invented video games are laughing. Although, you know, I think people's attention spans actually aren't too bad. Someone near me in class today played solitaire for practically the entire three hours. That's pretty impressive. Three hours. Red five on the black six. Wow.
I have given into temptation, at least for today, and brought my laptop to the first day of Winter Term classes. Activated my wireless connection. This is bad. Bad bad bad. Cool class so far, though. Interesting stuff. Professor sounds just a bit like Tom Brokaw, which is sort of neat.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The printer toner dilemma

When is it time to replace the toner? Toner's expensive, so I feel like I never want to do it too soon, because then I'm wasting toner. On the other hand, printing unreadably light pages isn't really very helpful. But when there's one area of the page that's getting poor coverage, when is it bad enough that it's time to address it? Is it when you find yourself changing the margins in Word to 2.5" on the right side, so there just won't be any words there to print? Is it when you use the printer for stuff you're going to just read and throw away but for "real things" like exams you have to go to the library? Is it when you've tried shaking the toner cartridge but nothing is helping? Is it when you start looking for toner coupons on the Internet, as if such a thing exists? Is it when you start seeing if a new printer costs more or less than the $70 replacement toner cartridge?

This was originally going to be a post called "Things I wish I didn't have to keep replacing," but making the list made me realize how many things we replace all the time, and it wasn't very funny. I mean, I wish I didn't have to keep replacing laundry detergent. But that's not funny. It just is.

I wish I didn't have to keep replacing the dryer sheets, actually. Because the laundry detergent is important enough that it's worth the trip out to get some more. You clearly can't do laundry without detergent. But dryer sheets -- are they really necessary? Do they really do anything, or has Bounce created a non-existent industry and convinced us all that without adryer sheet our clothes will stick to themselves and smell like -- gasp! -- we dried them inside, in a machine, instead of hanging outside on a clothesline. Maybe it's the nature of city living, but the only time I saw clothes drying outside was when I was a summer camp counselor. Clothes dried outside, or, more often, they went from wet to damp, and stayed damp, for weeks. And didn't seem to smell all that fresh, but part of that may have been that a fair number of the clothes drying were the bathing trunks that the campers were wearing in the lake, and who knows what they were doing in the lake, and whether that ought to smell fresh or not. So I'm skeptical of dryer sheets.

I'm also skeptical of anything that promises a "streak-free shine" or that claims to remove "any stain on Earth." Usually "any stain on Earth" doesn't include Earth itself, like muddy water or sleet or the other stuff that ends up getting on your pants in the winter in Boston no matter how hard you try to avoid it or how careful you are about wearing the pants you don't mind getting dirty whenever it's just rained or snowed or sleeted.

Finally, I'm skeptical of Tums. I don't really know why. I've only consumed perhaps a half-dozen Tums in my life, but I can't imagine how something that tastes so inert, so innocent, so non-functioning -- it doesn't fizz or burn or seem to have any life in it whatsoever -- can do anything at all besides pass right through one's system. At least things that are in capsule or pill form you have to swallow whole, and that makes me think something is inside that's just too powerful for the mouth, and must be saved until it reaches somewhere deeper in the system. But Tums, you just chew -- and... magic? I don't know. I don't even really know what it claims to do. But I'm skeptical.

I'm also skeptical of the Chinatown bus from NY to Boston, and whether the one I'm signed up for at 10:00 tonight is really going to exist, because it's the last bus of the night, and how many people could really be signed up for it, to make it worth running? But I'll report on that one tomorrow. Class tomorrow! Class! Class! I'm actually looking forward to class, because it has been a long, long week. Long. Week. Long. And I just finished doing laundry. And my clothes smell fresh as springtime. Thanks, dryer sheets.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The New York Times has an article about the upsurge in "spas" at vacation resorts. One that sounds particularly repulsive is The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, where, you guessed it, they rub chocolate on you. I checked out the website.

Whipped Cocoa Bath*
25 minutes, $45
Settle into our foaming chocolate milk bath for a soothing and softening signature Hershey experience. Milk will soften and renew the skin while you indulge in this chocolate experience.

Maybe I'm nuts (almonds?), but why would anyone want to bathe in chocolate milk? It sounds pretty awful.

Also note: "For your convenience, a 20% service charge will be added to your bill." Uh, for whose convenience? I think they mean for their convenience.

But, in any case, what the article doesn't go on to say is that in response to The Spa at Hershey Hotel, a number of other premium product-oriented resorts have opened their own spas. For example:

The Spa at Sherwin-Williams
Paint the town red, or just paint yourself. Our application technicians will bathe your pores in acrylic bursts of color, and you can enjoy a day feeling like a member of Blue Man Group, or one of those guys on the San Francisco Wharf who move like robots.

Relaxation Carbonation: The Spa at Coca-Cola
Relax in an effervescent sea of bubbles, as caramel-colored sparkling sugar water infuses your every body cavity. Enjoy the caffeinated sensation of a full-body immersion in one of America's favorite beverages.

Universal Studios Hollywood Spa Experience
Let your skin travel Back to the Future. Relax in a gentle Rain, Man. Or, for our larger customers, we offer Mission: Impossible, a tag-team mud bath application you'll be sure to find remnants of for weeks to come.

Ever wonder what it's like to fry in a vat of hot oil? Wonder no more. Take a dip in the tallow end of the pool. Get your buns toasted. Lettuce make this a vacation to remember.