Jim's Ramblings

Random happenings from my mostly boring daily life!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The end is in sight

Yes, I'm still alive... barely.  As most of you know, bar review is kicking my proverbial ass.  When they say "worst summer of your life" during the first bar review class... they definitely aren't kidding!  Sure, everyone's had a super intense period of study in their lives - but its usually a week, MAYBE two, for something like final exams.  Not 6-8 weeks.  In any case, the end is now at least somewhat in sight... a pin prick of light at the end of a long dark tunnel =P.  The bar exam is July 25-26.  I've got 2 more weeks of bar review left (3 days next week, then a full 5 day week the following week).  After that, I'll have about 8 days of pure cramming, before I head down to Roanoke for the exam.  At least I get two months off once I'm done with the exam!  That should be, well, awesome.  Assuming I pass of course...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

California trip details!

I figured its time I told you all about my California trip. But first, a little news. I am, as of May 14, officially graduated from law school. Hard to believe I'm truly done! But there's still a bit more to go - bar review begins Wed. May 24, and I'll likely be fairly busy with bar exam stuff through late July. Then my true freedom from academic things begins!

Enough of that though - time for some background on the trip. We arrived on a Saturday morning. Our trip first took us from the San Francisco airport, straight down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway (California Rt. 1) to Monterey, where we stayed the first night. The next morning, we got up and proceeded to explore some of Monterey. Mainly, we did a little shopping on Cannery Row, one of the main downtown areas. After that, we made our way down to the Big Sur Lodge, stopping to check out the Carmel Valley along the way.

On Monday, we went hiking, a 3.5 - 4 mile hike called Buzzard's Roost that began in the forest, went up to dry chaparral, and at the summit had a nice view of the ocean. We then drove south about 40 miles along the PCH, taking in the scenery along the way. We returned to the Big Sur Lodge for the night.

On Tuesday, we began to make our way back up to San Francisco. We took our time in the morning, stopped at Point Lobos State Preserve, and did the "17-mile drive" through Pebble Beach. We drove briefly through Carmel-by-the-Sea, an interesting little town. Bit "yuppyish" but it would be neat to spend a few hours in some day. We then blew up to SF and got in late, around 8:30.

Wednesday, we did a walking tour of Chinatown, and also saw some of Union Square in the process. In the evening, we tooled around various parts of the city in the car, checking out various neighborhoods and such.

Thursday, we drove through Golden Gate Park, up the pacific coast, through Lincoln Park and the Presidio of San Francisco, then across the Golden Gate Bridge. We went on to Muir Woods (Big Redwoods) and Point Reyes National Seashore, before returning to the city for a late dinner at a restaurant called "The Stinking Rose." Great place that does Italian and other food, heavy on the garlic. I had the garlic roasted prime rib - absolutely phenomenal.

Finally, on Friday, we got up and reluctantly made our way to the airport for the ride home.

As you can see, it was a whirlwind trip - we squeezed a ton into 6 days. I'm planning to go back in August, hopefully with Ryan and Phil, and see some stuff in more detail - mostly, lots more hiking. ≈

I decided to put my pics on yahoo photos, mainly because there are so many. They can be found here. Best thing to do is view the slideshow.

Monday, May 01, 2006

PC Gaming -  a one-generation wonder?

Matt's latest post on his blog about the physics cards got me thinking.  They have been talking about these things on the AnandTech forums for a few months now.  I see it almost as a negative development.  PC gaming is already heinously expensive.  Heck, a decent video card alone costs as much as a Xbox 360.  Now they are going to tell us (eventually) that we need physics cards, another 250 bucks down the drain.

I don't like console gaming but I question how long PC gaming will continue to be a viable industry when you have to sink that kind of money into it just for games to be playable.  Teens are already priced out of the market - a decent gaming PC can cost as much as some kids' first cars.  It used to be you needed a PC for non-gaming, so if you threw in an extra 150 for a decent vid card, you could then play games too.  Nowadays, a $500 computer can MORE than handle all your everyday tasks (internet, email, music, writing papers, etc).  By the time you throw in a video card and physics card, along with the super CPU needed for today's games, you are talking 3x that amount in most cases (or more).  Most parents aren't going to be able to justify sinking this kind of money for Christmas or whatever else so their kids can play games - not when Xbox 360 is 300 bucks.  And for some teens, a gaming PC can cost a whole summer's earnings (assuming they work) - also a hard sell.  And heck, we are talking a "basic" gaming
PC here.  If you want to talk top of the line, there are people spending $1200 on 2 video cards ALONE (they run them in "SLI mode").  That's just insane.  And of course, the whole thing is outdated in a year anyway.  And of course, game developers seem to insist on taking every ounce of power (and then some) with their new games - so your new machine you spent 3 grand on last year chugs on the new games unless you  turn the graphics way down.  The price of this hobby has just skyrocketed in recent years in my opinion.

Obviously people of our generation grew up with PC games, and now we are employed and have money to keep up with things to at least some degree.  But today's kids are more and more growing up only on consoles as PC gaming becomes more and more cost prohibitive.  I wonder if PC gaming will die with our generation.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Big Bad Test is Dead

School continues to wind down.  Yesterday I had what was in all probability the most difficult to study for final I've had in all my school days - Virginia Civil Procedure.  Immediately after the exhileration of being done with my last class, I had to begin studying.  I studied some each of the 4 days leading up to the final, and had to pull a near all nighter on Monday night to get through the last bits of material.  And that was the problem - SO much material, and a closed book test.

In an average law school class, I have 40-50 pages of notes (hand written, front and back counting as 1 page).  Further, a lot of it is intense detail, so the notes "compress" well when I sit down to outline.  Here, I had 90-100 pages of notes and very little of it compressed.  By the time I was done outlining, I had 47 typed pages, and I even skipped a section because the prof had handed out an outline of sorts for it!

So then came the test.  Designed to be doable in 3 hours, but he gave us 6 for good measure.  I got it home, and finished it in about 1hr 45mins!  I took a brief nap, got up, looked at it again, and spent another 30-45 min on it polishing it up and adding some stuff to my answers.  It wasn't bad at all - but I think its because I put the time in studying.  Its the sort of material that is not difficult - there are no real "tricky issues" or anythin else - its very straightforward.  There's just a TON of it.  So you either know it or you don't.. and for the most part, I knew it.  I'm pretty sure I got an A or B on it, and I'm certain I passed it.  So I am *very* pleased.  Now all thats left is about 2-4 hours of edits on my paper, and two more MUCH EASIER TO STUDY FOR finals.  Then I'm outta here, and off to the city by the bay :).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Last law school class.. DONE

That's right folks, I just finished my last law school class... EVER. Most likely my last truly academic class EVER. Oh, sure, there will be Continuing Legal Education classes to take and that sort of thing, but those are professional classes, not academic ones. And they are one day seminar type things. So yeah, my academic career is quickly coming to an end. I really don't think it’s sunk in yet. Unlike many in law school, I've been in school my whole life. I didn't take time off between college and law school to work. The longest I've ever held a full time job of any kind my entire life is about 2.5 months. Put another way, I'm 25 years old and I'm facing the prospects of the "real world" for the first time.

And I say.. bring it on. I'm honestly looking forward to it. This is a LONG time to be in school with no break. Especially when you consider that, unlike PhD programs where most of what you do is more work than school (ie, lab work, not classes), law school is *all* classes. And I'm sure there will come a time when I will look fondly back on my law school days and think how much better school is than work - but that time isn't now. Right now, I'm just glad to get out of here and do some of the things that have been on hold the past 3 years. Like getting enough sleep... like lifting regularly.. like dating.. like having money. There are certainly things I'll miss about school - the intellectual conversations in class, the collegial environment, and the casual comfortable clothes! But all in all.. I'm ready for a change in my life. I'm ready to move forward.

Of course, I may have spoken too soon when I said last class EVER. After all, I may one day return to the hallowed halls of academia - an advanced law degree? Some classes for fun in my old age? Who knows - I do know that we never stop learning, and as time presses on, it can be a good thing to return to that formal education we all must one day leave, as I am about to do.

So, what's left you ask? Final exams - I've got three. The worst is Tuesday. The other two are 9 days later. Oh, and the final draft of my paper. I don't have to do too much, just some minor changes. Then graduation is May 14. After that, I'll have my J.D. I'll be a "Juris Doctor." I'll be able to truthfully put "James H. Hutchinson, Esquire" in my email signature. Pretty crazy! Then all there is is the "simple" matter of the bar exam. Once I pass that and get my results in October, I'll have the keys to the court system.. I'll be able to file suits in Virginia and the Federal courts, go before judges, defend people's lives and property. When you think about it, its a pretty awesome responsibility.

Ah well, that's for another post. In the future, perhaps i'll pontificate on my overall law school experience. Until then, I'm just glad I don't have any 8:30am classes for a while.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lifting Blog

Hey all,

I already linked most of you this, but for those I didn't I've decided to go ahead and put up a lifting blog. On it I'll basically detail my workouts, how I'm progressing, as well as go ahead and post logs of my workouts and such. It is linked here, and you can also find a link over in the links section of this page. If you are into lifting, or just interested in my progress, check it out! I'd appreciate any comments/support people are willing to give.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The end is near

That's right folks, the end is near. No, not the end of the world... the end of law school! I can hardly wait. As some of you know I have been slaving the past few weeks on a very long paper on police excessive force - 25 pages to be precise. This past Friday (April 7, coincidentally, my birthday), I spent from about 4pm to 10pm in the library working on the paper, and managed to finish it up. Not the way you hope to spend your bday, but regardless, this is a huge relief - that paper was probably the biggest thing I had to do for the semester. It is of course just a first draft, which the professor will comment on - the final draft is due May 1 - but I expect any necessary changes to be fairly minimal and quick. The hard part was getting the main stuff down on paper. So with that thing out of the way, I've got a week and a half of class left (next week is the last week of classes), then finals. I'll officially be done with law school on May 4. This brings me to summer plans :D.

May 6 - 12, my mom and I will be in San Francisco - sort of a "hey you're done!" trip. I'll be back in Williamsburg May 13-15 for graduation festivities on May 14. Then I'll probably be up in NOVA for about a week or so, before I return to Williamsburg to begin my bar exam prep course on May 24. That will go through mid-July. In late July, I'll head to Roanoke to take the bar exam. I'll proceed to move my junk to a storage unit in Blacksburg, and then have all of August to myself up in NOVA (maybe a road trip is in order?). Looks like I'll probably move in to my apt over labor day weekend. Then of course Sept 9 is Kim's wedding. We may go to Hatteras for two weeks immediately following that (and Ryan will hopefully be able to join us!). After that, its back to Blacksburg to settle in and start work on October 2. So, yeah, definitely have a busy few months ahead of me, but I'm really looking forward to it. I'm also planning to spend a LOT of time in the gym once I'm done with finals - between classes and this paper, I've been out of the gym for a long time, so I need to get back on track. I'd like to be lifting 4 days a week anyway, so I figure summer's a good time to start. During the bar prep, I honestly think most of my time during the week will be spent studying, lifting, and sleeping - but overall I'm looking forward to it - its at least a change of pace from school. And I love pumping iron anyway, so its all good! :). I was thinking of maybe finding time for a little summer fling, but I think I'll keep dating on hold till I'm done with the bar. Between studying and the gym, I just don't see how I'll have time, much as I might like to jump the gun. :-P

So, there it is - the next 6 months of my life are pretty well planned out. All I care about now though, is getting the heck out of law school... that's gotta be one of the best feelings, well, ever.

PS: If you are interested in coming to my graduation, it is on Sunday May 14. Its roughly the same format as Tech's - a university wide ceremony at 12 where the degree is conferred, followed by a law school only ceremony at 3:30 where I get my diploma. We don't have extra tickets for the university wide ceremony, but the law school one is open to all (and its the more important one anyway). Ex-Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will be the speaker at the law school ceremony. So yeah, if you want to come, let me know and I'll get you the details (DO NOT feel obligated though, I'm not expecting anyone other than family, so this is purely an if you want to thing). As for places to stay, depending on how many (if any =P) want to come, the guys at least can probably crash at my place.

That's it for now.. I'm out!