Saturday, July 9, 2011

Oh Grindstone...

To be perfectly honest, I have very little to talk about today.

I holed myself up in my dorm room early this morning after discovering that I could access Columbia's law library from the Internet in my room. I realized late last night, when I actually sat down and wrote a proper draft of my paper instead of the rambling paragraphs and outlines from before, that my research wasn't as thorough as I'd thought. There were still gaps missing, and a read-through of my draft showed that I relied much more on court philosophy than on precedent and legal arguments, a big no-no in the legal arena. Some court philosophy is good as it adds flavor and dimension to an otherwise-dry paper: but too much hurts more than helps. I spent most of my morning (counting the pre-dawn AMs) trying to remedy that, pouring through Lexis Nexis (an utterly wonderful research tool) for opinions and decisions to back up my arguments.

I've stepped outside my suite a grand total of five times today. Twice was for food: once in the morning, to pick up coffee (my breakfast) and some cheap sushi to save for lunch, and once in the evening to grab a 3-dollar slice of pizza down the block to wolf down for dinner. The other three times? Trips down to the basement for laundry. Thrilling, I know. Well, at least my clothes are clean now.

I've actually requisitioned much of my argument from the debate on Friday (was that really only yesterday?) for use in my paper, as they both involve the right to free speech. Fixing up a few sentences here and there, changing “pornography” to “KKK literature and symbols,” rewording and juggling about to make the ideas flow within the larger essay. Not cheating, I think: after all, I'm not just copying-and-pasting and besides, I wrote the thing in the first place. The argument applies, and since its my own opinion, what I would end up writing off the top of my head would sound almost exactly the same anyways.

I wouldn't be locking myself in my room today and most of tomorrow if I didn't want this thing finished. I could be leisurely finishing the paper at my own pace, taking up more time but allowing myself proper breaks at frequent intervals. But I plan on actually enjoying myself tomorrow night, not frantically pressing my nose to the grindstone in the hope of coming up with some brilliant genius to hand in on Monday. It doesn't work like that. Or, if it does, only on rare occasion when Fate decides you've earned a lucky break and some inspiration. And I find counting on her to rule in my favor can get messy real quick. Like I said, I'm planning on enjoying tomorrow night, as I've got tickets to go see Billy Elliot: but, if I'm not finished by then after devoting almost 48 hours straight to the paper, then I've still left myself wiggle room to complete it on time.

Anyways, good night to all of you, and its back to work for me!

Long Shots and Long Nights

Future career discussions are always awkward for me. It's not because I'm indecisive or undecided. It's not because I have to many interests. It's because people say I swing for the fence.

"That's a little out of your reach," said someone today. Really? Granted, it is a stretch, a reach even--I'd agree to that. But, to say I can't reach it is an entirely different statement than I am unlikely to reach it.

It goes beyond doubt. It's more like a declaration of proposed failure to whom you are speaking to. And, that's a lot worse than a skeptical remark.

I don't quite understand the concept of pessimism. Sure, I get the definition of it, but I don't understand why people feel the need to apply it to their everyday life, especially when it comes to a life outside their own. Who dares to claim failure or success for the life of another? I think the only ones who can get away with that are parents, and even then they aren't appropriate.

So, whether I want to a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher, or an astronaut, or a researcher, or an engineer, or an architect, or an actor, or a singer, or a dancer, or an artist, or a chef, or anything else my heart desires, it should be free of judgement from the outside looking in. I'm the only one capable of making such an executive decision about my future and my life. And, that's why I'm bothered by such statements as, "I think that's a little out of your reach." I don't mind that they firmly believe what they say, but their audacity to say it astounds me, because that means that they feel the need to share their opinion as if it had any bearing or significance pertaining to what I felt, wanted to do, or thought.

Don't misinterpret me. I'm not angry at this guy. I'm not worried, or doubtful, or saddened. or discouraged, just thoughtful. But, it's interesting to talk about.

No matter how likely my chance at being what I want to be is, or will be, or was, I think I am perfectly within my own right to pursue such, if I so choose. So, when I say, "I want to run for President someday." I expect wary looks, but not doubtful comments.

It is a stretch, and many things need to happen (and not happen) along the way. But, it'll be fun to think about in the time between then and now. I think so, at least. It also happens to be one of the most effective motivators to not do anything stupid.

I'm just saying.


Today was again, one of the best days of my life. It was amazing!

It started out with a subway ride at 8 AM in the morning to buy tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera. At first I was skeptical about going to see it, because it was at the same time as the Harry Potter Exhibit, but in the end I made the choice to see this Broadway production. We were the second ones in line and waited for 2 hours to get tickets for half off, which is a really good deal when you take into consideration that tickets are normal in the hundreds. Luckily, we all managed to get seats together which is very rare because they tickets they sell at Rush are tickets left over so they usually aren't all together.

We headed back to Columbia where the UPENN cohort was visiting! I hung out with Alex and Brian and wandered around campus for a while. It was nice to see Alex, a familiar face to me. It made me at ease because someone from home and one of my closest friends was there with me. AFter we joked around for a bit the group left to see Times Square and I retreated into my air conditioned room. Many people would be mad to know that I took a nap on a beautiful day in NYC. The truth is that after running around all over the place and staying up late for school work, your body runs out of energy. That's exactly what mine did. I crashed a good 4 hours and woke up to find myself something to eat and go to the play.

The play was by far one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. After watching the movie I was obsessed with trying to see the play and now it was right before my eyes. The acting was so good and their voices were phenomenal. What made this show different from other minor plays I had seen was the way it made you feel like you were in another world. I didn't feel like I was watching a play I felt like I was a part of it, taking in all of the emotions that the actors felt.

So, I guess I have taken step one in becoming "cultured". I do not regret going to see this instead of the Harry Potter exhibit. The two hours of waiting in the sun were definitely worth it! Tomorrow my trip to El Museo del Barrio was cancelled, so we'll see what other adventure I might get myself into!

Magical Day

I could not wait for today. Being a avid Harry Potter fan, the opportunity to see close up the costumes and props used in the movies was truly amazing. When we arrived, I was not surprised to be met by a long line for tickets, which minutes after we arrived stretched out of the building.

When we finally we allowed into the exhibit I was enthralled by how amazing the props looked like up close. I could recall the same outfits that he actors and actresses wore in the films. While every aspect of the exhibit was amazing, I must say that the part I liked the most was the Quidditch section because I loved the detail J.K. Rowling used when she wrote about the epic Quidditch matches. I was particularly happy when I got to see the equipment and even use one of the balls, the Quaffle, to throw into a hoop. As we moved through the exhibit I was amazed by each case of props and by seeing each prop, I remembered the part of the movies when it was used. With the series ending in the coming week, this was truly a morning to remember.

Once we arrived on campus, I set off to my dorm room to work on my final paper about whether the government should be able to regulate racial speech, literature, and other objects of groups such as the Klu Klux Klan. My stance is that the government should have the power to regulate the racial speech because in the eyes of the law, speech is speech, racial or not. If it can be proven that the object or speech at question poses a "clear and present danger" to society then the government has the right to prevent such speech. If the government didn't have this power then all havoc could break loose because it would be legal to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. In my paper, I added quotes from previous cases such as Schenck v. United States and Abrams v. United States where the Supreme Court applied the "clear and present danger" test to support my claim. I argue that because the Supreme Court has already ruled that if speech poses "clear and present danger" the government can regulate it, then the judges should refer to the past decisions and allow the government to regulate speech from racial groups if and only if it presents a clear and present danger. After working for the afternoon, I was hungry and looking forward to dinner.

For dinner, Beilul and I went to a Russian restaurant dubbed Uncle Vanya's. I found the food to be overpriced and not as good as I thought it would be. In order to help us, the students, my RA, Pavel, had the waiter provide the theatre menu which gave customers one soup, salad, and entree for $20. When I heard about this I was excited to have found such a bargain, but as I looked at the bleak menu I realized it as too good to be true. The portions were small and I learned that Russian food isn't my thing. Regardless, I'm glad I got to taste a different type of food.

Super Saturday

This weekend started off wonderfully.

In the morning, Eric and I went on an RA trip to see the Harry Potter Exhibit at Times Square. As a HP enthusiast, I can honestly say I loved it. The exhibit included all of the costumes and props from my favorite Harry Potter scenes including Hermione’s time turner necklace, the Golden Snitch and a replica of the hippogriff Buckbeak. Some of the parts of the exhibit were even interactive. The Sorting Hat “sorted” some of the visitors into the different houses of Hogwarts based on their preferences (though no one chose Hufflepuff), allowed guests to pull out a screaming mandrake and play a hoops Quidditch game. The exhibit was fairly crowded as it is New York and it was a Saturday morning.

Later in the evening, I went on an RA trip with the Presidential Powers TA Pavel to a Russian restaurant called Uncle Vanya’s for dinner. The food was delicious and the restaurant was great. This is the second cuisine I have tried in New York City, the first being Cuban.