Friday, February 27, 2009

Another Reason to Question The Obama Administration

This raises very grave concerns.

And I actually had a friend tell me that he was excited by Obama because he represented a new generation.

Hold on 'cause the world will turn if you're ready or not

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Story Of The Bar

I think taking the bar exam is its own little adventure, no matter what attendant circumstances surround it. This was certainly a more tame experience compared to last time (the link to last time can be found in the previous post. If you never read about it, check it out. It was hilarious.), but there were a couple of things that are story worthy. So here goes:

On Monday afternoon my brother-in-law picked me up to drive me to the hotel I would be staying at while I took the bar. It was just a couple hundred yards away from the St. Paul River Centre, where the test was being given, so I had no need for a car, and he was nice enough to drive me down.

On the way there I had him pull into a little store because I needed to buy a pencil sharpener before the test. I couldn't find any in the school supply aisle, so I found an employee and asked whether they carried pencil sharpeners. She was very quick with her response. "Oh yeah, normally we've got 'em next to the pens and pencils, but we actually just sold out."

Yeah. They sold out of pencil sharpeners. That was weird enough in itself, but the fact that the employee actually appeared to know with some specificity when they had sold out... certainly remarkable.

I ended up being just fine, since they had sharpeners available at the test site, and one of my fellow examinees swiped a bunch of pencils from his firm and passed them out if people wanted them. I scored two.

The first time I took the bar it was given in this gigantic crappy fieldhouse. The River Centre was much nicer. The only thing about the set-up was that each of us shared a small narrow table with one other examinee. The guy sitting next to me was a big hairy sweaty dude. Actually, he kind of reminded me of The Dude (see, Lebowski, The Big). He was super friendly, and seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn't the ideal person to share a desk with. Plus, on the essay day, his laptop broke. I felt really bad for him. He seemed okay with it, and it was broken before we even started so it wasn't like he was typing and then had to stop and start writing, he was able to just write the whole time and adjust accordingly, so at least that was good.

What wasn't so good about it was that the computer repair people kept coming up to our table throughout the day, since they were trying to fix it for him. It was incredibly distracting. Plus, given that he was a really big guy and we had a really small wobbly table, his writing shook the whole thing. So between his writing and the computer people, day one had more distractions than one would normally want. I don't think it really had an effect on my test though. Whether or not the desk was constantly shaking, I still didn't know tax law.

The hotel I stayed at for the Virginia bar was, much like the Virginia test site, an absolute craphole. This time around I had a pretty nice room. The staff were really helpful and accommodating, and the location was perfect (directly across the street from the Xcel Center). I did have one tiny complaint though: the soap/shampoo/lotion was all mint scented. It was awful. It smelled like cheap mint gum or bad mouthwash. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want my hair to smell like bad mouthwash. I don't want to rub lotion on my hands and walk around the rest of the day feeling like I was handling gum. Has anyone else ever had a hotel room that used mint as their scent of choice? If so, go ahead and vouch for me here... it's truly horrible.

Another natural comparison with the Virginia Bar came up while taking this test. When I went through it all the first time the national girls twelve-and-under softball tournament was happening at the same complex where I was. This led to all sorts of encounters with obnoxious softball players and parents. This time around the Minnesota State High School Girl's Hockey Tournament was being held at the same complex. This wasn't nearly as bad as the softball tournament, since there were far fewer people, the kids were older, and I wasn't competing with tons of SUV's to drive to the test site. Still... it brought up some painful memories.

Finally, as a wonderful example of what taking the bar can do to a person, I'll leave you with this story:

After the first day I went out to dinner with a couple of friends who worked nearby. They dropped me back at the hotel and I was waiting for the elevator next to a girl who looked, like most of us examinees, quite frazzled. We were exhausted, anxious, and only half-way done. Suspecting she was also taking the bar I turned and asked, "You taking the bar too?"

"Hmm?" She asked, and then, quickly figuring out what I had asked, "No. No I'm not."

"Oh, sorry," I said.

The elevator came, and we both got on. I was on the top floor, she was one below me. It was a really slow elevator (the only other complaint I had with the hotel), and we stood there in silence for nearly 30 seconds.

Then, just before we reached her floor she turned and said, "Wait. Yes. I am taking the bar. I just now processed your question. I don't know why I said I no."

I just smiled as she got off the elevator. "Yup," I said, "That says it all."

And they sit at the bar
And put bread in my jar

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bar Exam

Well, I'm nearly up to that time when I'll be taking the bar. I fly back to Minnesota Saturday morning, and I'll spend the last couple days studying as much as I can before the test on Tuesday and Wednesday. For some reason, I'm really nervous about flying back... I think it's because I'm so excited to be done, and I'm looking so forward to all the stuff that I'm hoping to do after the bar, that if anything should go wrong, I know what I'd be missing out on. There's always a natural fear to flying, no matter how safe it is. The recent incidents don't help. Anyway... I digress.

The point is, I'm taking the test, and there won't be any new posts here until late next week, at the earliest.

But I'll leave you know with a link back to my post about the last time I took a bar exam. It was really a pretty hilarious situation. Except for, you know, the test-taking part.

Correct life, is like eating steel or flying a plane
It’s too bright, it’s too bright

Friday, February 20, 2009

Double Standards Everywhere!

I'm not really rooting for either horse in the MN Senate race, because they should have just drawn lots a long time ago. But basically what has happened now is that Coleman is challenging that some ballots were improperly not counted. As part of that lawsuit, the judges have ruled that certain classes of ballots were properly excluded. Only, the thing is, it turns out a bunch of ballots that fit into those classes were counted in other areas. So, pursuant to the court's ruling, Coleman is saying the ones that were counted shouldn't be. This, naturally, makes Franken very angry, because he wants to count the improperly included ballots because they benefit him.

So, to sum up:

Coleman was asking for a bunch of excluded ballots to get counted. The judges said, "No, all ballots that fit into class A should be excluded." So Coleman says, "Well then, shouldn't we exclude all of the class A ballots?" And Franken says, "No, you should exclude the class A ballots that help Coleman, and include the class A ballots that help me."

It's pretty ridiculous.

Rock the boat
Don't tip the boat over

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Double Standard?

I get the whole thing about the NY Post comic being racially insensitive and all, but isn't there a pretty strong precedent for drawing a parallel between our president and a chimp?

If you want to destroy my sweater

Sunday, February 15, 2009

There's No Explanation For This.

For my siblings. Because this was the weirdest movie ever.


Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday

Monday, February 09, 2009

Comic Link

As a frequent user of (often sarcastic) parentheticals, I have for years struggled with this exact problem.

Well I think I'll talk to my analyst
I got it so bad for this little journalist

Saturday, February 07, 2009

You Have A Talent For Causing Things Pain

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I woke up in the middle of the night with significant pain. It was hard to pinpoint exactly where the pain was, other than to say it kind of affected my teeth, the roof of my mouth, and my sinuses. I've been pretty stuffed up, so I figured it was a sinus thing, especially since it's not unusual to feel pain in your teeth when you have sinus issues. Part of what made me think it was sinus pain, and not a tooth thing, was that I couldn't identify an individual tooth that was hurting - it just sort of seemed to be my right top front teeth generally.

As all of this was going on, a bump developed on the roof of my mouth. It almost felt like an extra-firm blister. It started small, but by Wednesday it had grown to fingernail-size, and was really painful whenever I touched it with my tongue.

Wednesday evening, the pain was pretty bad, so I decided I'd start WebMDing it, to see if I could figure out what kind of doctor I should be seeing (dentist, ENT, general?). I couldn't really find too much out there, only that it could be sinuses or possibly a tooth thing, but that was less likely because abscesses generally only develop between the gum and the lip/cheek, not on the inside.

Since the dentist is just a block from my office, I called in for a quick diagnostic appointment Thursday morning. The hygienist took a look at the bump location and quickly said, "oh, I've had smaller versions of that. It's probably sinus related." But since there was some pain associated with it, they decided to take an X-ray, just in case.

When the X-ray came back, there was good news and bad news. The good news was, I didn't need a root canal. The bad news was, I needed two.

Yeah, the whole bump was a gigantic abscess. The dentist said it had probably been there for months, and he was shocked that I hadn't felt any pain prior to this. He quickly wrote me prescriptions for pain medication and antibiotics, and stressed the importance of getting on them quickly. Then we scheduled an urgent appointment with the endontic specialist. I'm very glad we did too, because the rest of the day on Thursday, the pain kept getting more and more severe.

This morning I saw the endontist. He took a couple more X-rays, saw the size, and got right to work. He drilled two holes in the back of my teeth so that he could drain the infection and clear out the pulp. As he finished drilling the second hole I heard him exclaim, "What the heck is that? I've never seen that before."

That wasn't encouraging. Fortunately it all went pretty quick, though it was really pretty painful. About halfway through the infection started to drain out, and there must have been a lot because he said, "Whoa, here it comes," and grabbed a gauze from the assistant. Fun stuff. Later on in the day the bump started to leak, and I got a pretty good idea of what had been draining through the tooth too. Let's just say it wasn't pretty (or tasty), and leave it at that.

Anyway, my mouth is still really sore, but in a "there was a lot of work done on it" way, not the previous "This is so intensely painful I can't wait to see the dentist" way. It's been a rough week.

I'm pretty sure I've made this observation before, but it's remarkable how good the absence of pain can feel when you've been suffering for a while.

Anyway, it's all behind me now (until I go in for a follow up in a week, and get crowns put on sometime after that), and I can get back to the low-pressure stakes of studying for the bar. Yeah!

I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Link

Less than a month to go until the bar exam, so expect my substantive posts to slow down significantly. But I'll try to be dilligent about putting up some good links over the next couple weeks.

Along those lines, here's a fascinating read on the discourse of atheists (though the same points could certainly be made about a wide variety of religious convictions). H/T Jacob. A good number of the links I get come from Jacob, so expect to see that credit a lot.

Monday, February 02, 2009

T.V. On The T.V.

I picked up the 3D glasses the other day, for the Super Bowl commercials. Did anyone else do this? What did people think?

I was pretty disappointed with the Monsters vs. Aliens (I wanted to write Monsters v. Aliens... far to much legal background) ad. It hardly seemed 3D at all. The Sobe ad though! That was awesome. And the preview for Chuck too.

Tonight we watched the episode of Chuck, using our 3D glasses of course. I really enjoyed it. (I've been a fan of the show for a while now. It's a bit forced, and kind of obvious and redundant, but still humorous enough to be enjoyable, and the characters are likable. And they always have a great soundtrack.) The 3D stuff worked really well for most of it. Not every single scene was ideal, but there were parts that really popped out. I think they should do more shows that way. I'd definitely invest in a more permanent pair of 3D glasses.
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So who saw the "MacGruber" Pepsi ad during the Super Bowl? Pretty solid. And the appearance by (Minnesotan) Richard Dean Anderson was quality. Those sketches are pretty fun on SNL, since they're quick and a bit silly but always manage to weave in some other gag.

Turns out this MacGruber ad was actually completely bought and paid for by Pepsi. There were three ads made, all of which originally ran during the commercial breaks on Saturday night's SNL. Just like when MacGruber is part of the show, they developed the concept making it more and more outrageous in every subsequent appearance.

The first one just showed him enjoying Pepsi, as an obvious product placement, and not fixing the bomb.

The second one, which was the Super Bowl ad, had a lot more obvious Pepsi references.

The third one... Well, just go watch it. I laughed.

Turns out Pepsi hired SNL to write these ads for them, and paid the SNL writers and actors totally separately from their SNL gig. Then they bought ad time from NBC to show these commercials.

I think this is a good thing. In an environment where people are more able to avoid ads you have to be clever about how you promote your product. This isn't pure product placement, since these were separate commercials, and not part of SNL. Instead they're more like celebrity endorsements taken to a new level. Instead of some actor telling me to drink Pepsi, they've got some recognizable sketch telling me to drink Pepsi. I applaud the result.

Also, I prefer Pepsi to Coke, so that helps (but Cherry Coke to all other pops...).
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Speaking of SNL, this past week's was one of the funniest I've seen in a while. The quality has definitely improved, and this week there were plenty of really funny sketches (The Gun, Governor Patterson on Weekend Update, Laser Cats 4), and only really two bad sketches (Bernie Madoff and the Cosmetics Sales Clerk). Even the mediocre ones were pretty solid, and didn't run on too long like they used to.

Yeah, SNL has regained form. If I'm home on a Saturday night, there are certainly worse things I could be doing

The decisions underwritten by the cash in his hand