Sunday, February 25, 2007

Done With Financial Aid

So, after talking to the Director of Financial Aid at the uptown school last week I was able to answer the unanswerable questions and finish my financial aid applications. Now I just have to wait for the money to start rolling in. Ha! Hubby keeps saying, "maybe they'll start a bidding war over you." I told him it is not likely, but the Director of Financial Aid at uptown did say that they want to know if you get more money from a comparable school if that will be a factor in your decision.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Visiting Schools

Last week I had the opportunity to visit my top two schools. I'm not going to call them number one and number two (or first choice and second choice) anymore, because I am not so sure number one is really number one for me. So the school which was formerly known as number one I will now call downtown, and the school formerly known as number two I will now call uptown. I had a rather informal visit at downtown -- it wasn't an admitted students' day, I just sat in on a class and took a tour. The class was not that engaging, and the students didn't seem terribly interested, or prepared. Perhaps it was the subject matter (property), or the fact that it was a Friday, I don't know. But I wasn't terribly impressed. The school itself is very nice, though. I like the way the library is laid out and there are lots of quiet areas to study. I didn't really get a chance to talk to any students and I left the school feeling pretty neutral towards it.

The visit at uptown was a larger event (but not an admitted students' day either). I sat in on a class, attended a brunch with students and administrators and took a tour. The class was much more engaging, there was a lot of back and forth with the students, several of whom raised their hands to contribute or ask questions. Again, it could have been the subject matter (criminal law) that made the class more interesting, but even if it wasn't, is it really fair to compare schools based on one class led by one professor? They might not be representative of all the classes or all the professors.

At the brunch I had the good fortune of sitting at a table with the Director of Financial Aid (who helped me figure out how to answer the unanswerable questions in the financial aid application) and a student mother who told me about how supportive everyone was when she got pregnant her 1L year. I left that event feeling really good about uptown, to the point that I think I am actually leaning towards choosing uptown if the money is about equal. However, I don't feel like I really got a sense of what downtown is like from my visit there and I may be selling it short. So, I will be going back this Friday for the Admitted Student Day. Hopefully I will get a chance to sit in on another class and talk to some students. I am hoping that I end up liking it just as well as uptown after another visit, because the deciding factor is probably going to be money, and if I get the scholarship I applied for from downtown I don't want to feel disappointed that I won't be going to uptown, because there is no way I could turn that down.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Under Contract

We just signed the papers. Our house is now officially under contract. We didn't get as much as we were hoping for, but we will still be making a good profit on our two-and-a-half years of ownership and we will finally be able to start thinking about finding a place of our own here. Of course, I have to decide where I will be going to school first. More on that later.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Baby Bookmarks

In searching for ways to entertain my six-and-a-half month old when I've had enough of chasing him around the living room and he is frustrated with me for thwarting him every time he gets close to getting ahold of something interesting (like the dog toys or computer wires), I have found a couple of websites that hold his attention for a little while.

The first is the infant games page at the Fisher Price website. In these games when he hits the keys on the keyboard he is rewarded with little cartoons and cute sounds. He loves banging on the keyboard, but I have to be quick to click the mouse back inside the game screen whenever he accidently hits the Windows or Alt keys.

His other favorite site is YouTube. He enjoys watching videos like the ones in this playlist of babies talking and laughing and playing. He also likes the dog and cat videos, like this one.

Of course there is some debate over whether children under two should be exposed to TV and computer screens at all. However, I don't think that ten or fifteen minutes in front of the computer a day could really hurt, and it gives us something different to do.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Answering the Unanswerable Questions

So, the taxes are done and I have begun financial aid applications. With one exception, they are pretty easy to complete once all the information is gathered. The exception is one school whose financial aid application asks me to predict the future. They want to know what our total assets will be in September, what our credit card debt will be in June and how much child care will cost for the 2007-2008 school year (and who will be providing it). Everything is so up in the air with us right now that I have no idea how to answer these questions. First we need to sell our house -- and we have no control over when that will happen. And, in a couple months hubby will be getting a raise at work, but we don't know how much. Once those two things have happened we will see how much money we have and how much hubby is making and can decide whether we are going to buy or rent. Then we will see where we can afford to live and find an apartment, or house, or whatever. Then we will have to pay a deposit or make a down payment and then pay for moving expenses, and then, if there is money left over, pay off the credit card. Then, once we are all settled, we will need to look for a daycare, or nanny, or maybe hubby will be able to work from home by then and we won't need either. So, it all adds up to I DON'T KNOW!!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Released From Service

This week I received in the mail a lovely certificate, suitable for framing, declaring that I am honorably discharged from the US Air Force. I knew that my commitment to the Air Force was due to expire sometime in January, but I didn't remember the exact date, and didn't expect that I would get anything from them. I completed my enlistment almost four years ago, but have been in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) since then. See, when someone enlists in the military they typically sign up for four or six years, but, either way, they are actually committed for eight: a four or six year period of active duty and the remainder of time in the IRR. Recruiters tend not to mention this, but it's in the fine print.

While you are in the IRR you don't have to do drills like the regular reserves, but until your commitment expires you could be called back to active duty. It is pretty rare that members of the IRR are called up, but it has been happening more often recently. Usually they call up people with particular specialties that they need -- given my specialty I knew it was extremely unlikely that I would be called up. But, then again, when I signed up back in 1999 I didn't expect that we would be involved in any big wars, so I have been wrong before. I also naively thought when I signed up that there were jobs in the military that are strictly desk jobs; but, after September 11, I found out that, in a time of crisis, everybody in the military is a soldier. While I never had to hold a loaded gun knowing that I would be expected to use it against another human being if necessary, people that I worked with, who did the same job I did, and who, like me, had exactly four hours of training with an M-16, did. So, it's nice to know that the military no longer has any claim on me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Found Wisdom: Time Management

Over the last month or so I have been collecting links to various blog entries and web pages I have found that contain useful information or tips for law school. I am going to start posting these links under the title "Found Wisdom" so that other law students or law students-to-be can take advantage of them as well. This installment contains tips for how law school students (and others) can make the most of their time.

The first link comes from the University of Dayton School of Law's Online Academic Assistance site. Their Time Management for Law Students contains a discussion of goal setting, time perspective, and planning.

Villanova University School of Law's Academic Support site has a great article on managing your time by creating weekly and semester-long schedules.

The Law School Academic Support Blog recently posted about a variation of the weekly schedule described above, in which preparation for each class is done two days ahead.

At Top Law Student there is a great post about preparing an exam study schedule.

Finally, a couple of time management ideas that would be of use to anyone who wants to get more out of their day: Tapping the Power of Your Morning Routine and Harnessing your Interstitial Time (both via Lifehacker, another great resource for all kinds of tips).

I hope this is helpful. If anyone has additional time management tips or resources, feel free to share them in the comments.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Movie Night

Now that our son is going to bed around 7pm, hubby and I have time to watch TV or movies in the evening, so we signed up for Netflix. They have a new plan that is only $5/month and you can get two movies per month. I think it will work out well for us. I don't think we can count on being able to watch more than two movies a month, but we should be able to watch two each month, so we should get our money's worth.

Anyway, the first movie we got was The Paper Chase because I had never seen it (well, neither had hubby, but he's not going to law school). I thought it was pretty good. It felt kind of abbreviated at times -- like there was a lot left out. I didn't really buy everybody freaking out about getting good grades so they could get jobs. I mean they're going to Harvard, surely they would all be able to find jobs when they graduate. From what I have heard students at the higher ranked schools tend to be more laid back than those at lower ranked schools. But maybe I'm wrong, or maybe it was different then. Also I didn't really get why Hart threw up after the first class. Kingsfield didn't seem particularly mean. Maybe Hart had just built up Kingsfield so much in his head before law school even started that it was just too much for him to be the first one called on and not prepared.

I'm not particularly afraid of the Socratic method. In my master's program I had a professor who called on people throughout class, but he never made a big deal of it if you didn't know the answer or looked in the book, and I actually like that he did that because it really kept me focused in class. I know the socratic method is not just calling on students, but as long as the professor isn't mean about it, I think it is a good thing. It will motivate me to be prepared and pay attention in class. Also, when the professor calls on you you are forced to actually process information rather than just passively receiving it as you would in a lecture, and that helps you learn and remember it. Just like creating your own outline rather than just reading someone elses helps you learn the material. When preparing for finals in my masters program I always liked to create a study sheet which was a single sheet of paper filled with little tables and definitions and other important points that I could study from. But the real benefit of the study sheet was that in creating it I had to go through all the information from class and pick out what was important and organize it -- doing that really helped me learn it.

The depiction of the study group in the movie was clearly not very positive, but that obviously would vary a lot depending on who you group up with. I tend to prefer to work alone, so I would probably not join a study group anyway, but I also think they were wrong to try to divide up the work the way they did. The main purpose of a study group, as I see it, is to give you the opportunity to discuss the material with eachother, which is another way of actively processing it and which can also help you learn and remember it. For example I have found that I remember things better after I have explained them to someone else.

So, as you can tell, I was mostly watching the movie for its depiction of law school. From what I had heard, I thought it was going to be more negative than it was, so actually I was pleasantly surprised. And now when people bring up The Paper Chase (e.g. at admitted students events), I will get the references.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

National Pork Board threatens lactivist with lawsuit

A mother who sells humorous t-shirts that promote breastfeeding to raise money for the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio recently received a letter from the National Pork Board demanding that she stop selling a t-shirt with the slogan "the other white milk".

A copy of the letter is posted on her site, and reads in part:

National Pork Board considers your use of the slogan "The Other White Milk" to be a trademark infringement and also trademark dilution. The slogan "The Other White Milk" is an obvious attempt to call to mind National Pork Board's famous mark THE OTHER WHITE MEAT, and it is clearly likely to cause confusion as to whether the products being offered by you under that slogan are associated with or endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with National Pork Board's long-established campaign for the pork industry. Moreover, even were the use of the slogan "The Other White Milk" found to be not confusing, which we think is unlikely, the slogan nevertheless damages National Pork Board's rights in the famous mark THE OTHER WHITE MEAT because the slogan significantly dilutes the distinctiveness of National Pork Board's mark. In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board's mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan "The Other White Milk." "Dairy Diva," "Nursing, Nature's Own Breast Enhancement," "Eat at Mom's, fast-fresh-from the breast," and "My Milk is the Breast."

Huh? National Pork Board (apparently no "the") is concerned that people who see these t-shirts are going to think that NPB supports adult consumption of breast milk? That's just silly. They are giving her until Monday to stop using the slogan and destroy any products with the slogan on them. Is she supposed to have a bonfire in her front yard?

UPDATE: The CEO of NPB apologized. Many blogs posted about the whole fiasco; this one was the most informative, and this one was the funniest.

Preparing for Law School: Reading Update

So, I have set aside A History of American Law for now in favor of Law 101: Everything You Need to Know about the American Legal System, which contains a very broad overview of the subjects taught during the first year of law school. I think this book is what I was looking for -- something that will familiarize me with the concepts and terms that I will be learning, without being too heavy or going into too much detail. But I also ordered a few books to go a little more in depth on the classes I will be taking in my first semester: Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts, Torts in a Nutshell, and Civil Procedure in a Nutshell. I think these four books are going to be the extent of my preparation in terms of trying to partially pre-learn what I will be learning in law school. I also will be reading several books on skills that I will need for law school -- Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell, Getting to Maybe, An Introduction to Legal Reasoning and Academic Legal Writing:. The rest of my reading will be for background (Gideon's Trumpet), about issues I am interested in (The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care), or just for fun (The Best of Rumpole). See all the books I have so far here.