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Friday, January 29, 2010

Bits of Good News

1) Ian has a job! After nearly six months of searching in this dismal job market, Ian has landed a job testing remote control devices built for the construction industry. He starts Monday. We are both relieved, as this takes quite a bit of financial pressure off. Ian was worried that he would have to pack it up and move back to Utah. I think if we agreed to only eat spaghetti and ramen noodles, we could have both survived on my student loans, but he was doubtful. I remember a time when I ate the last bit of food in my fridge -- a jar of maraschino cherries -- for dinner, because I only made $300 a month, and I had wasted that money on things like rent, bills, and jars of maraschino cherries. So I think we could have made it on my $1,000 per month budget easily. But luckily it doesn't look like we have to do that now.

2) I finally found a good place to buy business-appropriate clothing: Banana Republic. I have always been able to find good business slacks at less expensive stores -- Express and The Limited both make nice fitting, good quality business pants. But finding business shirts is harder for some reason. After coming up empty in canvassing the mall last weekend, I finally realized that sometimes you get what you pay for, so I broke down and explored Banana Republic. I usually avoid stores that charge more than $30 per shirt, but it seems that $60 per shirt is more likely to afford you nice fabrics with decent tailoring and no loose threads. It's better to buy something that's going to last more than a few washes, anyway. Worth the investment.

3) I am considering doing a study abroad program in Munich, Germany this summer. The program is focused on intellectual property, and includes one month of classes, followed by an optional second month of an internship. The internship would especially be good for my resume. But it would also give me a chance to return to Germany and refresh my German skills -- it has been six years since I have been in Germany! I have also never seen southern Germany, which is what most people think of when they think of German culture. You know, lederhosen, huge steins of beer, glockenspiels, etc. I love northern Germany, but I want to see the south too. This would be a good opportunity to feed my travel bug while also giving me some IP experience and some resume fodder for my job search next summer. It would probably also be easier to get into this program than to actually find a job this summer, since the market is poor, especially for 1Ls who have mediocre grades.

4) In other news, Peet's Coffee & Tea makes the most delicious chai lattes I have ever had.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paralyzed

The small IP firms want you to be able to sit for the patent bar exam (I can't), and the large firms that have patent litigation groups want you to have stellar grades (I don't).

What's a girl who doesn't have either of these things but really wants to work in IP to do? I feel paralyzed in my summer job hunt.


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Precarious

Grades are out. I am happy with two of them, and unhappy with one of them. I also have found myself once again in the precarious situation of having to save my scholarship this semester so that I don't get hit with a full tuition bill for next year.

So here's how it is: the mandatory curve at my school is 3.0. That means if you do about as well as everyone else, you get a B, whereas in undergrad you might expect sufficient performance to yield an A. Most people will get some kind of B in a class, unless their performance on the exam stands out in comparison to the rest of the class.  The requirement for keeping my scholarship is a 2.95 GPA, which is just under a B average. I got a B in torts (as expected), a B in Civil Procedure (as expected, though I had hoped for higher), and a C+ in Contracts (much lower than I expected based on how I felt after the exam). Yeah, my heart stopped a little when I saw that grade. Contracts should be lower than my other classes, because I do understand the material less well, and I didn't put as much time into its preparation as I did for the other two. But I actually thought I had aced that exam when I walked out of there, and certainly thought I did no worse than a B, so it was a shock. Of course, there is no good way to gauge how you did, because your grade is relative to everyone else's, and the problem is we are all very capable people. What might be a very good performance in undergrad could be a completely adequate performance in law school.

So anyway, my current GPA is a 2.809, which means I need to compensate for the C+ this semester in order to save my scholarship. This semester we have 4 graded classes, 3 of which are worth 3 credits, and one of which is worth 4 credits. I pulled out my trusty GPA calculator, and determined that I need to either get all B's with at least one B+ in any class in order to get a solid 2.95, or I need to get an A, two B's, and no lower than a C+ in a 3 credit class. There are other such combinations as well. But the safest thing is going to be to try to excel in at least one course while remaining at least perfectly average in the others. A tall order, that. Normally I would say I can totally pull it off, but I am seriously doubting myself right now. I doubt my intelligence and my ability to crack the game that is the law school exam. But I need to put that behind me, because, unless I manage to totally F up, literally, I am going through with this goddamned law school experience, and I would like to be able to do so while only paying 1/3 the price. If I do lose the scholarship, I'm going through with it anyway, but I will be really mad at myself.

I have been in this situation before. In undergrad, I had to maintain a 3.7 GPA to keep my full tuition scholarship. In my first semester, I sort of underestimated how seriously I needed to take my 7:30 am ordinary differential equations course, and I ended up getting a C+ or a C in that class, and I got a B in my beginning German class, and with everything else, I had about a 3.3 or 3.2.  I calculated that the following semester, I needed to achieve a 4.0 without dropping any credits in order to pull everything back up to a 3.7. I ended up having to beg my world religions professor to change an A- to an A, but I was able to do it by the end of the year, and with those credits under foot, the grades in each successive course were of less weight when it came to how they would affect my overall GPA, and I did manage to save my scholarship throughout undergrad. Granted, I had to take syntax twice in order to replace an initial C with an A (goddamned sentence parsing), but I got it done.

This time, I feel like I have less control over the situation. I can reasonably expect to get B's, because that is what an average performance should yield. But I can't say with a surety that I can get an A or even all B's and a single B+. I will do my best, and in the end, that is all I can really do.

So, anyway, I'm feeling a little more down this semester than I felt same time last semester. On the bright side, my writing professor said I have a good chance of getting an honors grade in her course. I also am hopeful that I can win the appellate brief writing competition that we are having in that course. Not that getting an honors mark or writing a winning brief will do anything for my GPA, but, I can write, right? I still have something to say for myself, I suppose.


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Choke

They say that everyone goes through an experience where they look like a total moron in law school. Most professors use some form of the socratic method for in-class discussion. Sometimes you know when you are going to be called on, and sometimes you are called on randomly. This semester, I have one class where we are called on randomly, two classes where we are called on alphabetically, and one class where we are called on sequentially by row, but randomly within the row. So sometimes you can predict when you will be up, and prepare yourself accordingly. Today I learned that knowing you will be up does not necessarily mean you won't make a complete ass of yourself.

I thought last semester I had experienced a few days of looking like a total moron, but really my day came up today, where I in fact completely choked instead of merely stumbling. It was the class where we are called on by row, and when my name was called, I began describing what had happened in my assigned case, when I quickly realized that I had the parties all confused. It was a case involving some rings found by a pool cleaner who was hired to clean a pool, and the dispute was over who could claim the rings -- the finder, or the property owner. If I had started out saying that, I might have been ok (why can I always phrase things well in writing and not in speech?), but instead I started out saying we had two homeowners with a pool who hired a guy to clean their pool... then I realized, no, these aren't homeowners, who are they? The owners of the pool were actually a company, though the property was still private. This was a detail that is so inconsequential to the turnout of the case, but trying to figure out where I was wrong on the fly caused me to become completely retarded, and, doubting myself, I asked my professor whether such and such detail was correct, and he said, you tell me, and I said I don't know. Then he called on the girl next to me to take over, and I was left feeling like a complete ass.

It doesn't really sound that bad typing it out, but it felt bad, and embarrassing to falter in front of my peers and then be denied help from my professor (which all the professors at my school have thus far been more than willing to provide), or an opportunity otherwise to redeem myself. I could have handled the rest of the case decently, I just got tripped up.

The advice is always to shake it off. They say everyone looks like an idiot sometime, and most people are so worried about how they look themselves, that they forget about how others look. I'm trying to tell myself that, but I still keep thinking about it, and am upset about it. Everyone else who was called on did really well, and I completely blew it. Even if I hadn't, I probably would have stumbled, because I don't do too well with oral communication, especially under pressure (something I know I need to work on).

I'm not concerned about what my professor thinks about me. Exams are graded anonymously, so how a professor feels about you should not impact your grade, although sometimes notably excellent or notably poor participation can manifest in half-step adjustments to your grade. I guess I feel most badly that there is the possibility of me being misunderstood. I'm not an idiot, but I looked like one. I just want to say, no, give me another chance, that's not who I am! I will get another chance. I don't know if my prof will call on me again next time, or write me off until my row comes up again later, but eventually I will have the opportunity to either redeem myself, or mess up again and make it look worse.




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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blank

I've been kind of blank lately. I think it's probably just a chronic case of brain dump following my first semester law school finals. Sometimes I think, hey, I really should write a blog post. But then I realize that I have nothing worth talking about right now.

Actually, I did write a blog post a little while ago, but I didn't post it. It's too bad, because I think it's actually a really good post. It tells a little story, and it's honest and open and free like I used to like to be. I still like to be that way, only sometimes the reality of the matter is that I can't be. My blog is not quite anonymous enough for that.

I have been having a nice three week break from school. I spent a week visiting family and friends in Salt Lake over the holiday. It was nice, but a little stressful too. Salt Lake itself has always kind of stressed me out a little, and it turns out 6 days might be too long of a visit. On the other hand, 6 days is not quite long enough to see everyone and do everything that I miss about the place. But holidays have always stressed me out more than a little bit as well, and spending them without Mister Ian (who stayed behind in Portland) made it even more stressful.

So I've been taking a vacation from my vacation for the past week and a half. Just sitting around playing Diablo II and watching The West Wing, mostly. Visited with some friends but have mostly been reclusive.

One time when we did venture out of the house to the movies, a freak snow storm blew into Portland, and by the time Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were done kicking some Satanist ass, two inches of wet snow had blanketed everything. This would have been no problem in Utah, but in Portland, people become retarded in the face of snow. What is normally a 20 minute drive home took us all of exactly 3 hours, because Portlanders simply have no idea how to drive in the snow.  It's really not that hard, either. You have to be more careful than you usually are. You have to go really slowly, and allow a lot more extra space to slow down and stop than you normally would, and you have to not floor the gas pedal when you want to drive forward, otherwise you will spin out your tires. This was exactly the problem; cars were spinning out left and right. People were stopping in the middle of the road, sometimes without even turning their hazards on, instead of pulling off to the side. People trying to go up hills (which are plentious in my neighborhood) ended up sliding all over the place and blocking off the roadway.

At one point, we were stopped at the foot of a large hill, which is really not that large absent the snow, but it was a little daunting that night. Buses and cars were strewn all over the place. Brave souls attempting to mount the hill were flooring their gas pedals and spinning out their tires while befuddled people who had already given up the chase stood next to their cars, watching dumbfoundedly. I wanted the gawkers to make themselves useful and try to help push some of the cars that were spinning out their tires, so they could either get on their way, or get out of mine, but none of the onlookers seemed to know what to do. So I resolved to do so myself. I planned to knock on the drivers' windows and explain the mechanics of accelerating on an icy surface.  I would tell them to lightly pump the gas to try to get some momentum, while I offered a push from behind. But when I stepped out of our car, my foot nearly slipped out from under me, because I had on my loafers with absolutely zero tread on the bottom, so I gave up. We eventually were able to circumvent all the stranded Portland motorists and make our way up the hill with our all weather tires and Utah winter driving skills, but by the time we got home I was three hours past hungry, and none too relaxed.

That's why we haven't been out too much since. Ian and I have designs on going downtown and procuring Doener Kababs this weekend, though. Weather permitting.

On monday, I start up classes again. That means I only have about another day of sloth before I have to start reading again. And I also have to start looking for a summer job, that I most likely won't get. But I would very much like to do something law-related this summer, even if I have to do it for free. I kind of wish I had a stand-in who would do all the things in life that I hate, like applying and interviewing for jobs (which I am terrible at), while I would do all the fun things, like go to school or actually perform at a job (which I am very good at). Le sigh.

Since this is kind of a hodge-podge of a post, I leave you with a picture of my very untidy bookshelf, which does not contain all the books that I own, but which has a fairly representative sampling of my collection.





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