Thursday, August 26, 2010

a letter

dear security guard,

if the only thing that's wrong is that a perfectly legitimate customer that you've already checked out and let into the cage has an expired hand-scan, don't preface your phone call with "we have a situation here, and he's coming toward your office now." that, in combination with the insistent knocking on my office door that occurred when you said that, is enough to really freak me out. a "situation" would be a deranged guy with a knife who had made clear his intent to stab me. a customer with an expired hand-scan warrants prefacing your phone call with a more moderate "could you please come talk to him about what he needs." there's no need to scare me here.

no love,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

summer songs redux

livejournal's question of the day asks what the three all-time best summer songs are.

before getting into my top three, i have a weird concept of summer songs. i know i had an entry last summer about my summer songs for every summer since 1997...and most of them aren't bouncy and "summery" so much as snapshots of where my life stood during those particular summers. this summer's song is no different; i'm pretty well sure that "reclusion" by anberlin is marked indelibly as the song of summer 2010, and that's yet another anthem for the irreparably screwed-up.

counting this, i have fourteen "summer songs"...and among those, here are my top three. they're in no particular order, since they all make my list for such different reasons:
  • Summer of 2009: "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel" by Barenaked Ladies -- as much as people associate Barenaked Ladies with fun, poppy, happy tunes...i think they do the plaintive and depressing so much better. and, it doesn't hurt that i'm reminded of HAR every time i listen to this song; any song that takes me back to a hacker camp in a remote area of The Netherlands has an almost unfair advantage for any list of summer songs.
  • Summer of 1998: "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger -- this song is happier than i have any business listening to, but whenever the music at the nerd camp dances that summer was bad, one of my friends and i would hit the dance floor, sing this song as loud as we possibly could, and dance to it instead.
  • Summer of 2005: "Time To Waste" by Alkaline Trio -- the seamless weaving between the piano riff in the beginning and the guitars is awesome. seriously, i'm a sucker for that kind of thing...if i had to pick a favourite song ever, it would be "She Said" by Cold, which pulls the same kind of trick [but, unfortunately, can't be on this list because it's not indelibly tied to a summer.] this song is an awesome ode to having to deal with really, really screwed up people.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the law school scam...isn't.

i'm no longer a lawyer, but i still keep my toe ever-so-slightly dipped into the blawgosphere. i still read above the law religiously. even though it's a world i'm no longer part of, i still find it occasionally entertaining and more-than-occasionally interesting to keep an eye on that world, since i did make the mistake of dabbling in it myself for a little while.

over the last year or two, there has arisen a whole genre of "scamblogs": blogs written by law school graduates that refer to law school as a scheme that convinced people to part with large amounts of money, enticed by promises of high starting salaries and financial security. these blogs are getting quite a bit of media attention now that the Newark Star-Ledger has recently published an article about the writer of one of the older and more well-known scamblogs out there, big debt, small law [which is currently offline; the link goes to a cached version].

it's an interesting, and on some level, tempting argument made by this genre of blogs, but i think it is completely wrong. i think it's completely wrong even though law school has financially ruined me, and was by far the biggest mistake of my life for that reason and several others.

the argument that law school is a scam is rather tempting. a lot of people who go to law school are enticed by the six-figure starting salaries at Douchebag & Douchebag LLP, and sign their lives away gladly, thinking they'll make big money and be able to pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. it's really easy to blame law schools for this. law schools don't come out of this smelling like roses, since the goal of their recruiting is to bring in a full class of students each year who are willing to pay the tuition and fees...and, preferably, bring in a full class of students with higher entrance statistics than the previous year, so as to raise their ranking and justify charging even more money next year. they have no incentive to highlight the fact that not every marginally bright person who goes to law school gets one of those high-paying jobs, or even gets a legal job at all. they have no incentive to bring prospective students' attention to the bimodal distribution of legal starting salaries. they have no incentive to portray the potential drawbacks of going to law school.

but, that's not enough to make it the law school's fault that law school ruined my life, your life, or anyone else's life. the argument that law school is a scam rests on the flawed idea that it's a law school's responsibility to portray both its good side and its bad side to potential students. in short, it's not.

would it be nice if they portrayed law school realistically? sure. but, law school is a product, just like anything else. very few products are required to advertise how using them could blow up in your face; the only things i can think of that have to talk in their promotional materials about potential negative side effects are prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products. ads for subprime mortgages or credit cards always focused on what you can get, not the stress of paying them off. fleabag motels don't actually put pictures of their nasty beds in their advertisements. dicey vacation areas always show pictures of pristine beaches, not shantytowns. how do you find out what's bullshit in the advertising, and what the reality of the product is?

you do your research.

you find out what kind of work a lawyer has to do, and you find out whether you'd enjoy doing that sort of work or not. you find out what the distribution of incomes in the legal field is. you find out whether you'd be able to stand a job in biglaw if you actually managed to get one. you find out whether you'd realistically be able to pay off the exorbitant amount of debt if you can't get a job in biglaw. you assess your interests, capabilities, and life goals, and decide if being an attorney fits in with that. you decide whether making the sacrifice of going to law school is worth it. and, you ask yourself, whether you're willing to take the hit, to live with all that debt and all those years of your life, lost, if you find out that being a lawyer is not all it's cracked up to be.

for some people, it's worth it. for me and many others, it isn't.

i don't blame law school [either the specific one i went to, or the more general institution of law school] for the fact that law school was the biggest mistake of my life. i blame myself. i did some of my homework, but i didn't do all of it. i had insufficient experience in the real-world to realise how crushing all that debt would feel. i didn't take off my rose-coloured glasses and realise that the legal profession was as stodgy as it is, and that i didn't have the energy or desire to fight the good fight for weirdos in the legal profession. i didn't think critically enough about the actual work that lawyers do to realise that i'd find it unsatisfying--until i was actually out of school and faced with the reality of having to do it full-time. in short, i wasn't scammed. i did something really impulsive and stupid, and i have to pay the price for it for the rest of my life. it's my fault.

in short, calling law school a scam is an excuse. it's an attempt to shift responsibility for doing insufficient research and making a stupid decision away from yourself and onto someone else.

pure, distilled cute

along a happier line...this is just too cute not to share.

sleep schedule? what sleep schedule?

i have come to the conclusion that as long as i work third shift, i am not going to have any semblance of a "regular" sleep schedule.

i work 9pm-7am, tuesday night through saturday night. ten-hour days don't seem much different than eight-hour days when i'm at work, but i really feel the difference between having sixteen hours per workday of not-work versus fourteen. between that and the craziness that is my [lack of] sleep schedule, i don't do a whole lot during the work week other than get ready for work, go to work, sleep, and maybe veg out for an hour or two.

then, my weekends are just long enough that i decide i can unset and then reset my sleep schedule over them. since i don't socialize at all during the week, i generally build my sleep schedule between saturday morning and tuesday night around whatever social engagements arise. often they involve leaving town; sometimes (like this weekend) they don't. either way, it's a very inconsistent way to arrange a sleep schedule, but it's what i need to do to stay sane on some level. i'm willing to make sacrifices, but a complete sacrifice of my social life is not one i'm willing to make. if i have to sacrifice having any kind of regular sleep schedule, so be it. i've given up enough of my social life for various reasons lately; i'm not surrendering any more of it.

Monday, August 09, 2010


i have a free moment for blogging...and can't think of anything interesting to say. of course, this happens.

i've been pretty busy lately, between work and getting out of town for random overnight trips. last weekend, i was in Detroit for Maker Faire. i hung out with friends, and shot small children with Twinkies (thanks to the wonder of the i3Detroit Twinkiemobile. this past weekend, i was also in Detroit. [guess i just can't stay away from that city!] i got back to Chicago yesterday, and i'm feeling more relaxed and happy than i have in a while.

okay, back to drinking coffee and catching up on the intertubes.