Thursday, December 19, 2013

Law School Finals in GIFs

Panicky Smurf (1L is tough)
After three years of law school, exams still feel just about as terrifying as they did that first semester.  I still feel the same way about the exams as that smurf - panicky - and it seems that the only thing that has really changed in this regard is that the internet is now using GIFs (and on websites other than tumblr).  Now that all my final exams are done, here is the story of law school exams, as told by GIFs.

First, finals period for law school doesn't really start during the last two weeks of the term.  It actually starts around Thanksgiving, usually during Thanksgiving break when the rest of your family is celebrating together and you have to start reviewing your material and outlining to hope to have a chance of getting it done by the time you have to take 3+ finals.  

Once the outlining commences, other things fall by the wayside.

Outlines are ridiculously long.  "Attack Outlines" are shorter (3-4ish pages), but the real deal is more like 50+ pages.

But when you finally finish that outline, it feels great.

This really isn't as good as it seems, because once you finish the outlines, then you have to start taking practice exams. 

There's not usually a lot of sleep that happens at all during the preparation for finals.  Or during finals.  Or during law school....

And things that interrupt your precious sleep, especially alarm clocks telling you to wake up for the next thing, are not appreciated.

But test day is right around the corner.  With law school, you've got your variety of in-class exams and take-home exams.  Take-homes can be any amount of time.  I usually prefer the 4-5 hour take-homes over any other kind of exam, but this semester, I had two in-class exams and one 48 hour take-home (thankfully there was a word limit on it so you can't just type for 48 hours straight - it's law school, you know someone would do that if they were allowed).  Regardless, all exams basically feel like this.

The 48 hour take-home was basically just a whirlwind of feelings.  Mostly brought on by confusion and exhaustion of how to answer an impossible question.  First opening the question was a scary experience in itself.

And the hypothetical situations posed in the exams are always totally unrealistic things that would never happen in real life.

After the initial panic died down, the outlining of your answer begins. Finally getting a draft outline of your answer together feels great.

Then you start typing.  And it takes forever to put the "genius" ideas you had in your shoddy outline into coherent, complete, English sentences that reflect thoughts relevant to answering the question.

And then, because this is Michigan, it starts snowing outside your window.  

Once you finally have significant portions of your draft typed, you re-read the question and then what you wrote.  Your subsequent realizations are not so fun.

But, you've got 48 hours.  At this point, you still have about 36 hours left to go.  And brains need to sleep sometime.  Trying to sleep that night though is a bit difficult.

Once you finally fall asleep, it's great....but, then you have to wake up and finish that exam answer.

Re-typing and re-drafting happens.  And a (hopefully) better draft starts to come together.  But you might be running out of ideas.  

Then, once you have a final draft, it's time to take a break and come back to it a bit later to proofread everything.  

After 40-some hours of living, thinking, breathing the one exam question and your answer, the only thing you want is to have the exam be ready to submit.

But then you catch a couple more typos and have to read it all over again, just to be sure.

Finally, you submit the exam.  Initial feeling:

But a few hours later, when you begin processing that you never have to think about that class again, your reaction changes.

When you realize that after you submit one short paper, you are officially done with law school exams FOREVER!

.....until the bar exam in July, that is. Whomp whomp.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cardozo the Law School Shark

Shark besos!
Ever since I was a 1L spending some long nights of studying in the reading room, I wanted to come up with something special to celebrate being done with final exams as a 3L.  Once I knew that I was going to Geneva for my last semester of law school, this meant that I would finish with all my official law school exams in December 2013.  

On one of my first visit to Michigan Law, it must have been around finals period as well because I saw that some students had taken fishing line and inflatable pool toys and strung them across the light wells above the subterranean levels of the library.  I thought it was hilarious.  Apparently, the pranksters even left a funny, polite note for the custodial staff explaining that they made it easy to clean up but asked if the staff could please leave the pool toys up for at least a day or two.  I thought I had my own pictures of the event (and I remember there being an inflatable alligator and orca whale), but there were some other pictures available on Google that I managed to find instead.

A few years ago, there were commercials on TV about a remote control helium balloon toy called "Air Swimmers."  
I thought that if the toy works how the commercial makes it seem, then it would be pretty fun to put on my shark mask (left over from a game with my 9 year old cousin) and fly a shark around the Reading Room.  Since the Air Swimmers are quiet, it would be a fun thing to do that would not really disturb other people studying and might provide a bit of comic relief during stressful finals.
Cardozo in the Reading Room
So, after finishing my last law school final exams ever (even with some pretty tough ones), I grabbed my Air Swimmer Shark, who had been sitting in a box for almost a year in preparation of this event, and booked it over to Party City to inflate it with helium.  Luckily, I read the instructions ahead of time and tied a string to the balloon part ahead of time so that it wouldn't fly away.  The air was so cold that the balloon was its full size inside the store, but shrank instantly in the car, and needed a couple minutes to regain its original size once back inside my apartment for assembly.
Cardozo in Hutchins Hall
My roommate and I assembled the shark and named it "Cardozo," after a famous judge we studied our 1L year.  Plus, Cardozo just sounds like a sharky name.  Then, we packed Cardozo into my car and managed to get him inside the law school.  We lost a fin in the process because of some intense winter winds outside.  The ceilings inside the law school were obviously much higher than those in our apartment, and coupled with changes in temperature, it was a bit difficult to fly Cardozo.  We managed to do it and not get caught, so I put the video below together.  Here is Cardozo the Shark, wishing everyone the best of luck on their law school final exams!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pure Michigan: Fall Break in the Great Upper Peninsula

For fall break this year, I took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Having family that lives there, I have had the opportunity to travel there several times each year before, but this trip was extra-special.  The U.P. is typically ten degrees (Fahrenheit) colder than the lower peninsula of Michigan, so I was crossing my fingers that the leaves had not already dropped, as I was looking forward to seeing some beautiful fall colors along the way.  
We were in luck.  The weather was perfect the whole trip and the fall colors on the leaves made the entire countryside shimmer in gold, orange, and red in the sunlight.  I mean, take a look at the highway view:
On our drive over to my relatives' home, we stopped by Tahquamenon Falls State Park and saw the beautiful upper and lower Tahquamenon Falls.  Tahquamenon is the largest waterfall in Michigan and it is always amazing to see the sheer force that the bronze colored water has as it continuously pours over the falls, mercilessly pounding the rocks below. 
Driving west toward our destination, we spent a little time on Highway 94, part of which runs along the coast of Lake Superior, the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes.  Lake Superior is always cold, but that day the water was calm and reflected the sun and autumn colors of the trees lining its shore beautifully.  It would have been a great day to kayak.  I had not driven along that route in a long time, and it was great to see all of the little roadside drive-through parks along the shoreline.  We took our time driving, and it was nice to be able to get out every so often and walk down along the beach before jumping back in the car and continuing on our way.
Our first daytrip was to Canyon Falls in L'Anse, Michigan.  There is a small roadside park off of US Highway 41.  I had never been here before - not surprising, since the U.P. has smaller waterfalls all over the place.  The roadside park is very nice.  It's clean and accessible for people of all ages and the trail over to the actual waterfall is short and easy to manage.  Along the way, you can walk on the large flat rocks by the river.  It is pretty cool to see where the river just immediately drops off into the falls.
Another one of our stops along the way to the Porcupine Mountains was driving through Henry Ford's company town in Alberta, Michigan (officially called the Ford Center).  
The Ford company town was even featured in a Smithsonian article about the Upper Peninsula:
On my final day in the upper peninsula, I drive 58 miles from Marquette to the village of Alberta, built in the 1930s by Henry Ford, who conceived of a utopian community for his workers. In 1935, he founded such a settlement, centered around a lumber mill, at the southern end of the Keweenaw Peninsula. There the men worked in a mill that supplied lumber for components for Detroit car bodies; Alberta’s women grew fruits and vegetables on two-acre plots. The community included a dozen households, two schools and a reservoir that supplied water to the mill and offered recreation for residents.
Ford claimed he had been motivated to create Alberta—named after the daughter of one of his executives—by nostalgic memories of his own village childhood. But some are skeptical. The Depression years were a time of ideological struggle, with Fascism and Communism sweeping Europe and increasing tensions between management and labor in the United States. “Ford didn’t like unions, and saw the Alberta experiment as an alternative to keep them at bay a bit longer,” says Kari Price, who oversees the museum established at Alberta after the Ford Motor Company transferred the village to nearby Michigan Tech in 1954. Today Alberta is the location of the university’s forestry research center, and its original dozen Cape Cod-style cottages are rented to vacationers and a handful of permanent residents.
The Alberta experiment lasted only 16 years. Demand for automobile lumber ended in 1951 when Ford stopped producing “woody” station wagons, which featured slats of polished wood on the doors. And farming at Alberta turned out to be impractical: the soil was rocky, sandy and acidic; the growing season was short (90 days at best)—and the deer were voracious.  Ford’s failure, however, was not without its compensations. He envisioned establishing villages throughout the Upper Peninsula, and likely anticipated increased logging to supply the mills in future settlements. Instead, the region’s sprawling wilderness has remained intact.
After Canyon Falls, we ate lunch in L'Anse and then made our way to the Porcupine Mountains.  The Porkies, as the Yoopers would say, are Michigan's only mountain range, and compared to the Rockies or Andes ranges, the Porkies look like small hills.  However, when considering how flat the rest of Michigan is, they certainly seem worthy of mountain status.
Our first stop was to the Lake of the Clouds.  It was breathtaking.  There are about 90 miles of trails in total in the Porcupine Mountains State Park, including several trails that lead to Lake Superior.  But I think my favorite view has got to be of the Lake of the Clouds.  It seemed like the trees were endless from our lookout above the lake.
Driving back down from the lake, we stopped by the ski hill in the Porcupine Mountains.  My mom used to ski here in high school with her siblings and friends.  Not much has changed since then.  The chair lifts were open for a couple more weekends for $5 a person so that you could ride to the top of the ski hill and walk around the ski hills and trails to see the autumn forest and look out over Lake Superior.  Again, more breathtaking views.
Our day trip ended with a stop for dinner at Riverside Pizza in Iron River, Michigan.  I swear, there is no better pizza in the entire world than the pizza at Riverside.  It was an amazing, amazing end to an excellent day.
It is LITERALLY the best pizza in the world.

Our other day trip (before my bigger drive back to Ann Arbor - boo) was much smaller and more relaxed, as the first one covered a lot of ground.  We drove to Iron Mountain, Michigan, and first visited Pine Mountain, a gigantic ski hill with the tallest man-made ski jump in the world.  It's scary tall.  I hiked about half way up it and just sat down on the wooden stairs because I am not yet that insane to climb to the top.  However, every February, there are ski jumpers from around the world who come and try to set records there.  See for yourself how crazy these people are:
Seriously, crazy.

These are some of my pictures of the ski jump and the (truthfully beautiful) views from being that high above everything.
Right next to the Pine Mountain Ski Jump, there is a memorial for the veterans from the Upper Peninsula who fought in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam war from each military service branch.  It is a very nice memorial in a peaceful location on top of the hill.
At the end of our Iron Mountain experience, we stopped by the Millie Hill at dusk in hopes of seeing some bats.  However, the bats had already begun to hibernate so we were not able to see any.  Apparently, August and September evenings at dusk are better times to see bats coming and going from the mine shaft.  The mine shaft is deep and has a regular temperature all year of about 48 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a perfect hanging out location for the bats.  Since the mine is no longer in use, the city of Iron Mountain put an enclosure around the shaft so that the bats could get in and out, but no one could bother them there.
Iron Mountain also has an athletic facility that was built by MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo with Steve Mariucci.  Apparently, Izzo and Mariucci are childhood friends and Mariucci was a coach on the Green Bay Packers when Brett Farve played for them and then coached a stint with the San Francisco 49ers.  Tom Izzo is from Iron Mountain, Michigan, originally and is known for giving back generously to the area, and apparently the two come back each summer for various golf outings and charity events to raise money for the area and other causes.
Driving back to Ann Arbor from along US-2 with a view of Lake Michigan was also gorgeous.  And we were even able to make a quick stop on the way back home through Escanaba to Dobber's Pasties to grab some delicious, frozen pasties to cook later back home.  Pasties are basically pasty dough with beef, potato, and rutabaga inside and were brought over from Cornwall, England, to the U.P. with the Cornish tin miners that were recruited to work in the mines in the 1860s.  The trip was timed perfectly, since within two weeks of our mini vacation, the U.P. received an early dose of winter snow flurries.

Yooper Soul Food Indeed.

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