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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

3.14159265358979323

That's how many digits of Pi I memorized back in my 8th grade Algebra class. I was very good at math back then, and I usually finished all my tests and quizzes quite a bit early, so I spent all the extra time staring at a banner of the many digits of Pi wrapping around my classroom. I tried to go further than the 17th decimal point, but no more digits stuck. Those 17 decimal points have been with me for 12 years, though, and I can still spout them out rhythmically and robotically, with the same inflection each time, like you do with your childhood phone number.

In that same class, there was one test question that uncharacteristically stumped me. I was not in the habit of reading the chapters from our math book, even if our teacher assigned them, because I already understood how to do the Algebra without reading them. But one test question asked us to define a few terms from one of the chapters, and the one term I didn't know was apothem.

Never one to leave a test question blank, I defined an apothem as a small furry marsupial that played dead in the face of danger. Then I drew a little picture of the animal in my sketchbook. I can't remember if I had been clever enough to say the animal had a lisp. I didn't receive points for my answer, but my teacher did congratulate me on my pun.


Funny the completely useless things that remain in memory while important things slip away.

I still don't know what an apothem is, either.


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Dear Annoying Little Kids Who Wait For The School Bus Outside My Bedroom Window While Yelling Loudly At Each Other Before I Have To Wake Up,

Shut
the fuck
up!

Yours Sincerely,

Sra
aka the grouchy adult who appreciates her sleep unmolested, goddammit!



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Monday, February 23, 2009

Time to Break the Shyness Habit

So I'm shy. Not really in writing. I don't hold back much in my online world, but in real life I have a hard time in social situations. There have been a few brief periods of my life where I thought I had overcome my shyness.

One was after I started drinking. I noticed how confident I felt while inebriated, and I figured that if it's not hard to be confident while sloppy drunk, then why should it be so hard while sober? So I applied my drunken attitude to my sober self and managed to behave relatively confidently for awhile.

During this period, I presented a linguistics paper at my university's Student Conference in Linguistics, and felt very confident doing so. Part of that confidence could no doubt be attributed to the fact that I had worked several dozens of hours on that paper and knew it backwards and forwards and in my sleep. But the alcohol-attitude helped too.

Another time was when I got a new haircut that happened to look great and actually fit my personality. My outsides suddenly looked like how I felt inside, and that made me feel like I could take on the world and not be misunderstood. I think at the heart of every Shy is the desire not to be misunderstood.

So anyway, for the past few years I've regressed to my same old shy self, which is really quite a daily burden. It takes a lot of energy worrying all the time about what other people are going to think about you and whether you will look like a fool.

Nothing against medication, but I'm one of those people who likes to try to solve my problems on a psychological rather than chemical front. I know that medication can make it easier to tackle the psychological end, but I'm stubborn, and I don't just want to use medication and then use that as an excuse not to really solve my problems. So I haven't sought help in the form of Xanax or the like.

But I have got to do something, because it does not suit an attorney to be shy. There are shy attorneys, I know some of them, but it can't be easy to be shy in that profession, and I'd like not to be.

Ian started reading a book called Good-Bye to Shy. I'll give any book a try, and I'm definitely not too good for self-help books, but I was a little skeptical about the techniques Ian described from this book prior to my picking it up. Things like learning to make eye contact with people and paste a big phony smile on your face and -- eww -- learning to make small talk. Gah!

But as I've been reading the book, I've been a little bit startled to see myself in the author's descriptions of her previous experiences as a shy person. She was even terrified of the telephone when she was young! When it rang, she ran and hid in the bathroom. I was never that bad (and I'm much better now than I once was), but I still really hate talking on the phone. Placing calls is still quite difficult for me, while taking them is easier. I'm so thankful for email and texting, let me tell you. But maybe the better attitude would be to attack my telephonophobia so that it isn't even an issue. I could still email and text, but wouldn't be paralyzed at the thought of making a call.

So the method Good-Bye to Shy espouses is Graduated Exposure Therapy (GET). The idea is to take baby steps in exposing yourself to whatever frightens you. The book uses a woman with Arachnophobia to describe the method. First she is burdened with a relatively simple task -- writing the word Spider over and over again. (Doesn't seem so hard, but when you consider that thinking of the word can cause your brain to also think of the thing it signifies, it might not be very easy. Still, it's a start.) Later, she has to look at pictures of spiders, maybe even videos. And then she gets to stand across the room from a live spider in a glass cage. Eventually, she sits calmly on a chair with a spider sitting on the chair's arm. That's the idea of GET. I also have arachnophobia, but frankly I'd rather give a speech to 10,000 people than go through these heinous steps. I'll keep my arachnophobia, thank you very much.

But I stand to gain much in using the method to cure my shyness. I'm going to start with the eye contact thing. I tend to keep my eyes to the ground when walking down the street, and even avoid eye contact with my coworkers. But apparently people don't think you are very likeable if you don't look at them. So the book recommends starting by staring down a baby, because they are unassuming and less scary than developed humans, and they love to stare anyway. But even though I have a great many baby showers to attend recently, I think my friends might be a little weirded out if I asked whether I could come over to play the staring game with their babies.

But the book also recommends making eye contact with people for the amount of time that it takes you to say "I like you" in your head. This carries the added bonus of making you feel positive inside, so that might translate to a smile on your face. Who knows, I guess anything could happen. So I'm going to try that method, instead of the baby staring game. I will look at strangers on the street, and imagine to myself that I like them, and then I will look away and congratulate myself silently.

It actually kind of creeps me out just thinking about it.



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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To whom it may concern

I've written about this before, but seeing as how it is a particular pet peeve of mine, and how the internets still displays a need to learn this, I am mentioning it again.

There is a difference between the words who and whom. Namely,

Who is used to replace subject pronouns in sentences (I, we, you, he, she, it, they)
Whom is used to replace object pronouns in sentences (me, us, you, him, her, it, them)
I like to use the him/them test, since they both share the ending -m with whom. If you are trying to decide between who and whom, and you can grammatically replace your who/whom with him or them, then whom is appropriate. If you can't, then it isn't.

You don't say "I went to visit my friends, whom are very nice."

No! You don't say that! If you do say that, maybe you are confused because the who/whom of the second clause refers back to "friends" in the first clause, which is objective. You could replace "friends" with "them". I went to visit them. But the who/whom in question is in its own clause, and in that clause it takes on a subjective role. You wouldn't say "Them are very nice," but "They are very nice." So who is the appropriate choice.

Please take note of this very helpful test and use it. Or else I will come through the internets and beat you over the head with a shovel.

When in doubt, just use who, alright? It's ok to be wrong with who. Whom is kind of antiquated anyway, and I predict that one day it will leave our language altogether. But when you are wrong about whom, you just look like a wanker who is trying to be proper but doesn't know what the hell she's doing. Mkay?



In other news, for all you fellow voyeurs out there, today a Blog Share event is going on, where bloggers post anonymously on other blogs so that they can vent about something they'd never post on their own blogs under their own names. These posts are usually very juicy. Go here for a list of participating blogs.







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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dear My Ian,

Today marks our 3rd year anniversary together.

I've been thinking about what it is that I love the most about you, and I realized that what I love isn't really about you, it's about us: We can be exactly who we are in front of one another. I don't have to hide a single thing about myself in front of you. I can let you see everything good and bad about me, and you love me regardless. We share our darkest secrets and our most disgusting habits and our ugliest prejudices, and we don't think any less of each other because of these things. We also share our talents and our intelligence and our beliefs and virtues, and we support each other in these things. Our good friend Sov once told me his impression of our relationship is that we are extremely comfortable with one another. What could be more important than that?

Things haven't always been perfect. We've had our bouts of miscommunication and misinterpretation. We've had our arguments and we've hurt each other. There were times when I wasn't sure if we were going to make it. But we were willing to learn from these experiences, and have found better ways to communicate our feelings. I feel today that we are stronger than we've ever been.

You have been infinitely supportive of and patient with me in my journey toward law school. You let me run off a few hours nearly every Saturday morning for 8 months while I took practice LSAT exams, and you congratulated me when that hard work eventually paid off with a high test score. You are willing to follow me to another city in another state to pursue my legal education, even though this will mean leaving behind family and friends, and having to redefine our sense of home. You have listened to me when I spout out my fears about this move, and have provided me comfort and confidence. Just knowing that you are going to be there to back me up makes me feel like everything will be ok.

You are very bright in very different ways than me, and I think we are able to connect without stepping on each other's toes in this regard. You are a very talented musician, and have a keen business sense. I know in a way you have to put your dreams on hold while I pursue mine, but I want you to know that I believe in your dreams too. I know you can be very successful in any of the potential roads in front of you. I want our lives to be about supporting each other. This isn't all about me, it's about you too.

What can I say, Ian? I love you, and I can't imagine what my life would be like without you in it. I'm happy I don't have to. I hope we have many more years in front of us.

Love,
Your Mischief

P.S. Thank you for the beautiful springy flowers and delectable chocolates you had delivered to my office. That was a lovely surprise.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Guess what folks? I did get Presidents' Day off. Yay! We don't normally take off the holidays that they don't sell candy for, so this is a real treat. Better than Cadbury's Cream Eggs, even. Personally, I think we should be closed any day that the Patent Office is closed. It just makes sense. And really, we don't have enough celebrated holidays and festivals in America. I get so jealous when we get letters from our foreign associates announcing that they will be closed for a week or two for their national holidays. Bitches. At least I got today, though.

I've been spending it sitting around in my jammies, drinking many ounces of coffee, eating cinnamon bagels, making an appointment for a haircut (cross your fingers I don't get butched this time!), watching the UPS man fail to deliver my package, playing many rounds of Cooking Dash -- the latest game in the ever so addictive Diner Dash series --, and taking a bath. Productive day, if you ask me.

When I was washing my left leg in the bath, I noticed a new little valley on the side of my outer thigh. What the hell is this? I wondered, rubbing my hand over the valley. And that's when I realized I'm getting cut in my cycling class! It's very exciting, because I've never really had much muscle definition to speak of. But now there is one part of my body where you can distinctly note the place where one muscle is divided from the next. Rad! Oddly enough, it's only on the one leg, and it's not the side of my body that is usually stronger. I think the discrepancy is due to the fact that I injured my knee in December. Cycling has done wonders to help rebuild my knee strength, and I'd put it at 95% now, but I guess I still favor my left side. Will have to work on that in class.

I am also blaming this new muscle definition for my rather up and down weight trend over the past few weeks. One week I'll lose a few pounds, the next I'll gain them all back, and so on. I may not end up winning the Biggest Loser competition at work after all, but I think my body is trimming up a bit, and more importantly, I am getting prepared for hiking/biking season. The weather has been abnormally spring-like this February, which means that the days that are not spring-like make me enormously sad. And when the sun is out and the birds do sing, I am happy as a clam. However happy that is.



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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Berkeley's dead and I'm looking ahead

I got the Berkeley rejection today. It bummed me out, for sure, but I can't say it's a surprise. I felt like my chances were about 50/50, and I was ready for either result. It's a very selective school, and I don't think my application was very standout-ish for such a selective school. But a girl could dream, couldn't she?

On the bright side, we don't have to try to figure out how the hell to pay for Berkeley. It would have been outrageous. I was prepared to take on upwards of a hundred grand in debt on that one. Ian told me today that he didn't think we'd make it through that. He thought we'd either have to pull out or else he'd have to pull out while I stayed. That was a bit of a surprise to me. But he would have been willing to try, because he wants me to be happy. That's sweet of him. As an aside, we will be celebrating our 3rd anniversary next week. It's completely bizarre and rad to think that we've been together so long already. Here's to the next 3 years, My Love. May I not drive you completely mad while I'm in law school. Or if I do, may the madness take me with you.

So now I can zero in on the schools of most interest to me. I still haven't heard from Hastings or Oregon, but frankly, I don't care about Hastings cause I'd rather go to Davis, and I only care about Oregon if they offer me a lot of money. Otherwise, I'm deliberating between Lewis & Clark and UC Davis. Let's break it down:

UC Davis - Sacramento area
Ranked about 44
No scholarship money, still waiting on financial aid package which could include grants and/or loans.
Tuition will cost about $90,000.

Lewis & Clark - Portland
Ranked about 73
Scholarship of $22,000 per year, with the condition of maintaining a 2.95 GPA.
Tuition will cost about $80,000, but with the scholarship my debt would be about $15,000. Some people buy cars for more money than that!

In order to make the most informed decision possible, I will be visiting each school for a few days during their respective admitted student events. Lewis & Clark is offering a $500 travel stipend to visit them in mid-March, and Davis will reimburse travel expenses of about $120 in early April.

Money and rank are not the only factors to consider here. I also want to feel like the school and city that I choose are a comfortable fit for my personality. I want to consider things like earning potential, student camaraderie and atmosphere, competitiveness, how easy it will be for me to make law review, get a good job, have prospects for judicial clerkships or an academic career. There are many things to consider, and either choice could be viable, but I won't know for sure until I check them out to see if they are a good fit.

I'm excited to explore the possibilities, and I'm confident that I will end up choosing the right school for me. I want to thank everyone who has provided support and assistance so far. I feel victorious, and that is all that matters to me right now.


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Hump Day has overstepped its bounds

You know it's a bad week when Monday felt like Wednesday, and now it's really Wednesday, and it seems like this day is never going to end.

I think I might have Presidents' Day off, though. Please bless.





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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dear Cross-Walking Pedestrians,

It is true. You have a legal right to cross streets at crosswalks. But just because you have that right doesn't mean you should check your brain at the end of the sidewalk. You still should look both ways before crossing the street. That way you won't do something stupid like jump out in front of a car that is really too close to the crosswalk to stop without having to slam on the brakes. Yes, cars have to stop for you. But there is a point-of-no-return beyond which a car has a difficulty -- if not an impossibility -- stopping for you. Please take this into consideration. Your safety is still your responsibility, whether there are white lines below your feet or not.

Sincerely,

Brake Pedal of the '91 Park Ave.



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