Saturday, July 23, 2011

Square One

Today was my first time really doing something about law school: I gave myself a practice LSAT.

I set aside a few hours today to retreat to the library and take a diagnostic exam from my LSAT prep book. I used the timer on my cell phone to time each section of the test, and gave myself a break in the middle, just like the real thing will be.

And after it was all done...

First, I feel the need to explain something. I now know that one of the biggest boosts I can have for next time is to just pay attention to the clock. On one of the "Analytical Reasoning" sections (that's the one reminiscent of mathematical story problems), I was stuck on the first question, for like half the 35 minutes that is supposed to be meant for 24 questions. Before I knew it, time was up and I had only answered seven questions. There's no penalty for guessing, so if nothing else I should have spent the last minute filling in circles. But, alas, I didn't, and just like the real thing I had to move on to the next question, leaving 17 questions completely blank.

But, even with leaving so many questions unanswered, I still got approximately a 151. Which is exactly average. And if I throw out the blank questions, then my score calculates to 160 - which is the median LSAT score of first-year law students at Baylor* (#56 on the U.S. News & World Report ranking), Florida State (#50), Seton Hall (#61), Florida (#47), Kentucky (#71), Maryland (#42), Miami (#77), Richmond (#67), Tennessee (#56) and Utah (#42). Not that I'm content with 160, but it's nice to know that I'm in that company. That's not half-bad.

So, with some more practice and more clock consciousness, I think I'm on the right track.

*I know my wife and her family would sure be happy about that one!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Blog Update

Good ol' Erin has been doing a fantastic job updating our family blog. There's everything since leaving New York City, including the road trip home, Trent's and Nadia's wedding, a Wake family reunion and a Despain family reunion, a trip to the Hogle Zoo, and the opening night of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.

Oh, and tons of super cute photos of Allisyn.

Be sure to check it out!

What's Next?

Back during the beginning weeks of my internship, Erin and I realized that it was time to make some decisions about our future. This internship was the culmination of my undergrad experience, so it was time to start thinking about what's next.

I loved studying and practicing journalism, but all along I didn't really bank on having a future as a newspaper reporter. If it had greater stability, higher pay and normal hours, it would be great. But with the current state of the newspaper industry, I would only really be happy if I got to write sports or write editorials (essentially, the two jobs I had at The Daily Universe). And even then, it would have to be at a major establishment like the New York Post, Sports Illustrated or ESPN.

So, the question was, should I start the process of climbing up the career ladder until landing a big job like that? Should I endure the years of grunt work and low pay? Should I do like John Grogan, and earn my stripes by writing about methane leaks at the county dump?

Or, should I do something entirely different? Maybe journalism school? Or law school? I've always loved my political science classes, and my interest in journalism overlaps with an interest in politics.

Erin and I thought, prayed, and went to the temple. I won't get into too much personal details about the different bits of revelation we received. But what led me to the answer was this talk by Elder Robert D. Hales:

Preparing for the Decade of Decision

Which led me to this talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth ("The Six B's")

When President Hinckley said, "You need all the education you can get," and Elder Hales paraphrased him by saying "Get all the education you can," it hit me. I needed more school. Of course, getting an education could mean on-the-job training, etc. But, for some reason, I knew that what President Hinckley and Elder Hales were telling me to do was to go to law school.

And as I looked more into it, I got more and more excited. I enjoyed coming up with a list of schools with Erin, and thinking about studying either immigration law, some sort of international law, or something to do with First Amendment/freedom of speech law.

The first question I always get asked when I say I'm going to law school is: "Are you going to BYU?" Well, yes, I'll probably apply there. And it's a prestigious place to go. But one of the great things about going to New York City was Erin, Allisyn and me being on our own, in a city we've never lived in before. We're excited to try a completely new place.

The short list I have in mind includes Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame (we spent a night in South Bend, IN, on our way to New York, and the campus and the town is just the sort of small town Erin would love to move to), Texas (close, but not too close, to Erin's family in Houston), Georgetown (I loved Washington, D.C. when we visited) ... and I'll apply to Utah and BYU too. Oh, and I would also like to try Stanford and/or Harvard, 'cause you never know.* I also need to think of some lower tier, smaller but locally renowned schools, something like Willamette.

Before I get too far into deciding on schools, I need to take the LSAT. I'll take it in both October and December, and I'll take an LSAT prep course through BYU. After I get some scores back, I'll have a better idea of what kind of schools I should be applying to.

This Saturday, my plan is to go to the library and give myself a practice LSAT test. I'll recreate the time limits and other rules as exactly as I can, and see what I come up with. That way, I'll know what my baseline is.

Wish me luck!

*My GPA is actually only two-hundredths away from the median GPA of first-year Harvard Law students. Either my GPA is more impressive than I thought, or Harvard is more attainable than I thought, haha.) So maybe with a good LSAT score I'll have a chance.

More than a month later

Well, now that it's been 36 days since we left New York City, it's about time I do some blogging. (And about time I get 'Rodent Derrieres' off the front page of my blog.)

So, my last few days at The Brooklyn Paper, I was super busy. I think at one time, I had six assignments at once. I didn't mind being the diligent intern who took every assignment, and some of them were pretty fun.

Here's my last few assignments at The Brooklyn Paper that I have yet to include on the blog:

Lawyer-rocker leads 10-day BoCoCa Arts Festival

I realize now that my favorite stories for The Brooklyn Paper are the ones that let me talk to really interesting people, like the Bumbys or the Austrian pillow fighters. This time, I was writing a preview for the upcoming BoCoCa Arts Festival, and found that one of the many performers, Andrew Mancilla, is a guitarist, pianist...and an attorney.

Here's a video of Andrew performing, from the BoCoCa Arts Festival website:

He was really nice to talk to. We only converse over email, but he was one of my great sources in New York who answered every question and was really helpful. And he even emailed me after the story was published to thank me, and asked me to do lunch with him sometime. (I had to let him know that I wasn't going to be in New York for much longer.)

Man, it's hot out there!

My editor asked me to do a weather update to go on the website, in the middle of a bad heat wave around June 9. But I didn't really understand what he was asking me to do, I guess, because he changed basically everything I wrote. Even though I wasn't much help, he was nice enough to put my name on it anyway.

Pay the ferryman! New East River service begins

This one was really fun. I was sent to the dock under the Brooklyn Bridge at 8 am on my second-to-last day, and I just rode the ferry all morning. There were some beautiful views, and I got some amazing photos. (I got the interviews, and Aaron Short wrote the story.)

(Photo by me:
The makings of a man

Some information I compiled for the Father's Day edition. It was a little weird for me to write about how great Brooklyn's cigar shops are, haha.

Un bagel? Qu'est ce que c'est un bagel?

For some reason, the people behind the B&B Empire Bagel Company were really hard to communicate with, like they didn't want any publicity for their brand new bagel shop. And I also had a tough time researching to find out how many bagel shops were in that neighborhood, and find information about an old bagel shop in the area that closed down. (It would have been much easier if I had lived in Brooklyn for decades, like my editor has.) In the end, it got published, but with a few mistakes that my editor emailed me about while I was en route to home in Utah. :S So, not my proudest moment at the paper. But here it is anyway.

77th Precinct Blotter - June 15, 2011

For my last time doing the Police Blotter, I went to the NYPD 77th Precinct, which is Prospect Heights.

The police reports I wrote up led me to this story:

Cops target Prospect Heights potheads

I literally was asked to write this story with only three hours left of my internship. So I didn't get a whole lot done, but Thomas Tracy finished it up.

Pole position: City says Verizon skirted the law with major totems

Even though I didn't write this story, I sure spent a lot of time on it. I spent almost all day Friday interviewing neighbors about some new Verizon telephone poles put up on Milton Street, a historic part of Greenpoint. They only used one quote I got, and they didn't put my name on the story. But they did use a photo I took.

(Photo by me:
Oh, the glamorous life I led in New York City, taking pictures of telephone poles. :P


So, there you have it. My two months at The Brooklyn Paper. The experience was invaluable. I was incredibly lucky to get to be a newspaper reporter in Brooklyn. I learned so much, and I gained so many memories that I will never forget.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BYU and the ESPYs

I didn't watch all of the ESPY awards last night, just the important parts.

First, Jimmer won the award for Best Male College Athlete. I thought he gave a great speech and handled himself very well. Of course, compared to other LDS kids or BYU kids, it might not be that special. But in the real world, Jimmer still proves to be an impressive young man. (And his girlfriend Whitney looked good and modest, way to represent.)

I can't find a video of his acceptance speech yet, except for this home recording of a news report on Fox 13:

Another big reason for watching the ESPYs is Seth Meyers, I'm a big fan. He's usually hilarious on SNL Weekend Update* and even funnier as the show's head writer, and he killed at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.

Back when the Brandon Davies news broke out in March, I was disappointed by the response from both The Daily Show (skip to 1:47) and, as a matter of fact, Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (skip to 2:53). I wasn't too offended by the jokes, I just thought they weren't that funny. Jon Stewart and Seth Meyers let me down.

But, Seth redeemed himself at the ESPYs with the first funny Brandon Davies joke I've heard. (It only took four months.)

(Skip to the 11:00 mark for the Brandon Davies joke.)

*This is Seth Meyers' rant about the Arnold Schwarzenegger sex scandal, so naturally there is some PG or PG-13 rated humor. Just to warn you.
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