Sunday, April 19, 2009

the lsat chronicles - realizations

Today, I realized that I need to step up my game in order to be ready for June. I don't think I have been slack, in any way, but I feel I should be further along than I should be. This hit me when Tutor gave me back a Feedback Exercise with a comment "you know this" on one of the questions. I took that more to heart than the other exercise with all the praise written all over it.

I feel very confident about Reading Comprehension. I consistently get whole questions right in that section. But that is one section out of 4 scored sections. I can get whole games right, but I also consistently find myself guessing through 2 games in a 4-game section. I am also not where I should be with Formal Logic and Logical Reasoning.

Good things? RC, definitely. Being able to identify questions types across the board. I'm very confident about that. I like matching and both kinds of grouping games. 

I am also making some silly mistakes. Like in "except" questions. There are so many more what must/could be true and must/could be false questions that I find myself locating the wrong answer in an "except" question. It's stupid and frustrating.

So I feel I need to crack it harder. I am going to spend more time doing pacing and review. And no more days off. I've been taking it light on days I have workshops, so no more of that, either. 

I'm trying not to feel too down. I hear my classmates talking about waiting until September because they don't feel they are ready for June. LSAC also changed the deadline to change your mind so after April 25, you're locked into June. If I had it my way, I'd wait until Sunday (which is Test 4) and see how I do and use that as a gauge for June or September. 

But September is only an option for me if I don't do well in June and I want to do well in June. September isn't a fallback or anything like that. Plus, I don't think John would forgive me if we have to shell out more money to pay for another round of exams. I might qualify for Kaplan's do-over policy if I am unhappy with my score and be able to take the classes over for free, but, again, I do not want to think that way. I know they're there, I just don't want to dwell on ways out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the lsat chronicles - logic games master class

I attended what was probably the best workshop I've ever gone to. We didn't actually do questions, but went through all the different types of rules that could come up in the four game types: sequencing, matching, distribution and selection. 

The teacher was just blow-mind. I adore Tutor, but as far a subject-specific session can go, this woman was just best.

I admire how much work has gone into creating the Kaplan method. This woman has taken it one step further and actually came up with math-type rules to answer questions. I feel like I shouldn't be posting this, it's such a huge tip. But, then again, who reads this, anyway.

She got into some nitty-gritty with the rules that I have been having some trouble with. Sometimes, I wonder if something HAS to be included based on the wording of the rules. She really took the guess-work out of that.

She did it so well that, when the class was almost at the end, I noticed a mistake about a previous question and called it. Even I was impressed! It didn't look right and I couldn't move onto the one she was discussing. Finally, I had to raise my hand and call her back to it. I would have felt really dumb if she told me I was obsessing over something that was correct. But it was wrong and  I felt pleased that I was learning something.

Many people came up to her after class and thanked her personally. I've never seen that. I thank Tutor all the time. I could email Steve all day and thank him for his online coaching. Teaching is really thankless. A good teacher should be thanked well and often. 

At the end of the class, the teacher and I discovered a shared love for stationery and shared our pencil sharpeners with the class. It was funny. She gave me 2 pencils and promised more. She is teaching a Formal Logic Master class next Monday and I am so there.

This LSAT thing could be coming together, after all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the lsat chronicles - ongoing

Tutor poked fun at me and the many workshops I go to. What I think is that I am getting my money's worth. Kaplan makes all these things available and, even if I am not thrilled by the actual session, at least it is practice. If nothing else, I am ensuring I am applying the method properly and getting questions right.

We had a Logical Reasoning test at the last class and I did so much better than I have ever done before. I was very pleased. I still had some issues with "X unless Y" but Tutor said if I am getting "no X unless Y", then I am on my way. That doesn't stop me from making him explain, with examples, all the time.

The "like-girl" from the class braced me in the elevator on Saturday after class and told me I know everything. I asked her who told her that. We'd never exchanged a single word before that moment. She said I just look like I know everything. I didn't really answer: what am I supposed to say? I do the work? I go online and use the tools? I go to the workshops which no one in my class attends? 

I was curious as to why she spoke to me and took the opportunity to ask her to stop saying "like" so much. I told her I want to throw things at her because her questions are so useful but it is hard to wade through the "likes". She says everyone tells her that but I should look past it to the substance. I asked if she planned to go to law school and her friend said something to the effect of "tell it to the judge", which I couldn't have put better myself.

The next day, it was noticeable how many fewer "likes" were in her speech. 

I have much work to do. I'd like to get through another Logical Reasoning test today and maybe some Logic Games. Plus I have homework for Saturday to hand in and a workshop tomorrow. Two of Pie's friends are coming to spend the night tomorrow as they have no school on Friday. That means John gets left alone with 3 boys until I get home after 10 p.m. And they are with us all day on Friday. Off to the salt mines.

Monday, April 13, 2009

dancing with the stars - halfway

I love Ty Murray and I was hoping he'd wow with every dance and actually win this thing (even though I vote for Gilles and Cheryl every week!). He tried so hard and he always looks like he's licking it in rehearsal, but when he gets to the floor, he goes back to being so stiff. Poor guy.

I am never going to forget Mark and Kristi Yamaguchi's sexy rumba. I was wondering if he would come back with something so daring with little Shawn Johnson, but he did keep it age-appropriate, while still showing off her splits' skills. They looked very lovely together.

I'm sorry, but Lawrence Taylor needs to go home. Seeing Warren Sapp was great, but LT is as dull as dishwater. Keep Ty and send Taylor home.

Tony and Melissa look like Flavorite ice cream flavors. She is so beautiful and elegant and they have the best rehearsal footage. I am loving that Tony is having a ball. He always has to be the cheerleader with his crying partners (yes, I mean you Marissa Jaret Winokur!), so it's nice the cheerleader is bringing out the goof in him.

Lil Kim wowed me no end last week. Her waltz was something else and I never thought to look for grace in her. With the Jive, though, she looked uncomfortable all the way through. And they took a long time to get into the dance and we didn't see a kick until halfway into the performance. I can't believe Bruno said "fabulous" and Carrie was screaming. I wondered if they saw the same dance. I agree with Len. There wasn't enough Jive. I cannot believe the scores for Kim and Derek.

[Bottom of the 4th: My beloved Yankees are getting their collective asses handed to them by Tampa Bay. I just cannot believe it. John and I have been having discussions about judging players and teams in the first week and I contend that if the organization spent the kind of money that could support a third-world nation to bring players into the team, then I should expect them to reign in the moon and fence it with the stars. So far, I'd be happy if they could find the moon's reflection in a pool of still water.]

Steve-O also annoys me but I'd still take him over Lawrence Taylor. And he has a challenge with the Rumba. Big surprise. He claims a challenge with every dance. And not like the other participants. He always has to "overcome". I'm just tired of it.But I am tired of Taylor more. Lacey is clearly dancing around him. He looks like a piece of wood.

Cheryl really cracks the whip with Gilles. She is a tough cookie. Of course, now she has a partner who can actually dance and she WANTS to win! Gilles really handles it well, though. He's a real trooper. I hope he rocks the Jive, too. His dancing always makes me smile.

[My husband just called me on my phone. He is downstairs. He just called to say hi. Is it any wonder that we're still together for almost 4 years? Actually, at the end of next month, we'd be together 5 years and married for 4 in November. Huh. It is hard to believe. Also, as usual, his talking made me miss important stuff on DwtS: Gilles and Cheryl's score!]

Julianne is wearing some outfit! I could not take my eyes off her. Chuck who?

Ok, so let's start a petition to send Lawrence Taylor home!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

the lsat chronicles - fundamentals of arguments workshop

This wasn't the best workshop. Only 3 LSAT students showed up (the same 3 of us from the same class) and the rest of the class were GMAT students. 

The class was very basic and I expected a greater understanding of Assumptions and a greater examination of Strengthen/Weaken/Flaw questions. This class ended with an hour and a half to spare so that should tell you something about the quality of the work.

The teacher wasn't terrific. She should have been hammering home the method and did not. I think many of the GMAT people left more confused than when they came in. If Tutor hadn't given us some good grounding, me and my classmates would have been lost as well. We were just bored.

Monday, April 6, 2009

de beisbol

I am going to watch my first Yankees game for the year. After a tumultous off-season (maybe it just seemed that way to me because it was the first off-season I really paid attention to), the game is back and Michael Kay's voice is back and all is right with the world.

I already missed the booing of Teixeira. Game on!

sometimes it's hard to be a big boy

The Pie just couldn't wake up this morning. When he finally got out of bed, he was in tears because he was still so sleepy.

He walked into my tummy and cried. I felt so sorry for him. I asked him if he didn't want to wake up and he shook his head. I told him I knew how he felt because I didn't want to wake up this morning either. I told him I know it's hard sometimes to be a big boy.

I picked him up and held him on my hip and got him his breakfast with one hand, just like I used to when he was a baby. My back is paying for that now, let me tell you, but there was a sweet familiarity to it. I really miss him being a baby.

As I fed him his cereal, I told him I understood how hard it is to be a big boy and how sometimes you just need your Mummy to feed you breakfast. I told him I didn't have that when I was small and I told myself, even then, when I had my own children I would make sure they didn't feel like I did.

I told him that it is hard to deal with all of the new responsibilities that come with getting bigger and that I couldn't do what I was doing every day. But I wanted him to know I understand and it's okay to feel that way. Poor little guy. He felt much better after his breakfast and went off to shower. Just like a big boy.

my phone went bye-bye

My phone was just fine on Saturday morning. I used it, played Solitaire on it and the alarm went off as normal. It was fully charged from the night before. I get to class and realize the power is off. That has been known to happen and I usually just remove the battery and put it back in. That hasn't happened in a long time, but I didn't think too much of it. I did the thing and tried powering it back up but the test was about to start and I couldn't hold down the power button for the few seconds needed to start it up.

Plus, it makes some noise when it powers up and the substitute procter was a bit of a drip, so I didn't want to make a fusss.

During the break, I tried again and it didn't start. I wondered if the charge died, even though it had been charged over night. I couldn't check that in class and used a friend's phone to ring John after class, as we had arranged to meet up to take Pie to Target to get some new socks and such.

I tried charging it when I came home but the charge light wasn't coming on and the phone just wouldn't start up. John had a go at it and just told me the phone is broken. He offered to give me his phone while he is at work and I could use my sim card in it so I could keep my number. We weren't sure a new phone was in the works.

When I came home from class yesterday, he said it might be best to bite it and get new phones. i didn't want to say anything, but I go to different places in the City for workshops and I feel much safer with my phone and being able to call John. Not because he worries. Heaven forfend! But just because I like to call when I am on my way home and in case anything happens to me (I hope never!) and I don't get home, he at least knows when he last heard from me and where. It's a thing. I watched a lot of "Law and Order", what can I say? I know he's probably laughing as he reads this, but whatever. It's not like he actually answers the goddamn phone anyway.

Anyhoo, I digress.

We narrowed down some possibilities. I liked the Samsung Propel, the Motorola EM330 and the Samsung A737. We went to a store and I had a look at the Samsung A737 but didn't particularly like the flush keypad. I really liked the Motorola but it's a pretty new phone in the States and couldn't find one to look at. I had seen the Propel before and always liked it.

We went back and forth on a data plan or a text plan. I went to bed. This morning John told me he choose a slider for himself and got the Propel for me. I guess we should get our new phones by the end of the week.

I am sorry to lose my phone. It was pda as well and I loved being able to plan my life on my phone and know exactly what I was doing no matter where I was. I was quite happy to keep that phone for another year, or more. John was the one who needed a new phone as his camera had died and he was having some other problem I cannot remember.

Oh well. I'm sure I will like the Propel just fine. I even got it in green!

the lsat chronicles - test 3 and session 9

Test 3 came a week early because Tutor had to be out of town on Saturday and thought we'd prefer a substitute procter over a substitute teacher. He called it.

The SP was a bit... well... rude. He pretty much answered no one. It was a little strange. One woman said she came into the room first and told him "good morning" and he ignored her. He ignored me when I told him goodbye. He ignored the repeated questions asked about whether the writing sample was optional.

Tutor asked how we felt about him. I told him we missed him a lot but I couldn't say anything about the SP because he didn't really bring his personality to the room. Everyone else said he was just rude. I had to laugh. It was true. I said maybe he was just have a bad day. Tutor said he felt very wanted after that. I suggested maybe he should be a little meaner to us because clearly we are spoiled from his affability. He then roughly told us to turn to page so-and-so.

I didn't hear and asked him what page and he roughed me up and I apologized for not paying attention. Then I had to ask my seatmate for the page anyway! It was good to start the class with a laugh. We did miss Tutor.

The test itself on Saturday wasn't so bad. There were 3 Logical Reasoning sections, which was exhausting. Anyone of them could be the experimental section, so you just had to slog through. The Logic Games was half-and-half. There were 2 great questions and I soared through those. One was just mind-boggling but I did actually get through the sketch and, had I stuck with it a couple more minutes, I would have been able to work it out. But I was so confuffled by what the questions were asking that I just lost it. They gave you seven suspects, each questioned by the police in some kind of order, and then expect you figure out who confessed! It was just something else.

The 4th game was a lot harder than it looked. I thought it was pretty good, but I got too many wrong. I should have done better. I should have done better on both because I was almost there in the suspects question. Must learn not to get intimidated by dumb questions.

The Reading Comp was good and I was very happy with that. My overall score stayed the same and I guess that is a good thing for a test that came a week early and covered things we hadn't been taught. Still, I would have liked to see some improvement, especially in Logical Reasoning.

Sunday morning brought Tutor all cheery and bright. He went through the suspects questions with me before class started and offered to go through the next one after class. We started class with a Reading Comp quiz and I was very pleased with my score.

The entire weekend was marred by me having a bad cold. I was ok during the test but got all wooly-headed in class. We spent session 9 on Reading Comp and dealing with roadmapping the passage and identifying questions types. Luckily for me, I did a lot of that in the online workshops that Kaplan offers with the LSAT Extreme class, so I could zone out a little every now and then. And every time I blew my nose, I couldn't hear anything. I had to blow my nose a lot. I was glad I covered a lot of the class beforehand.

I have a workshop tonight and I am hoping I can spend today quietly so I can save up my energy for later. Here's hoping.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

the last chronicles - pacing

One of the books that Kaplan sends out is a Pacing book. It allows you to work on timed section without having to do any entire test. There is an Endurance book for that. Hopefully, more on than later.

This Saturday, there is another full-length test. I'm pretty okay with the long test. I take my water in my stainless steel bottle and my veggie burger with me and try not to go to the bathroom until the test is over. I am concerned that I am going to be in a testing center with over a hundred people, 75% of whom are women and a good chunk of them on the rag. Including me. Lining up to use the bathroom might not be something I'd care to be doing.

What I am trying to practice now is time and section management and the Pacing book is good for that. Sometimes I get a little discouraged, especially in the Logical Reasoning sections, where I get the same kinds of questions wrong over and over. But I still feel I am doing things the right way.

I came across this website in my online research even before I started the Kaplan class. It is chock full of terrific advice and little things that no one tells you. One of the reasons I am keeping this blog about the LSATs is that whenever I spoke to anyone who had already written it and were in or out of law school, they had trouble remembering what they went through while taking the test. I understand wanting to forget about it, but I could use the help.

This guy is just giving away all this lovely information for free and I have no idea why. It's just wonderfully helpful. I get a lot of reinforcement that I am doing things the right way from reading his blog.

Tutor said in the last couple weeks leading up to the exam, he began doing tests with music on. I try to have some kind of distraction going when I am doing a Pacing exercise. I use Pie's egg timer and the ticking can drive you mad. I sit next to the ferret cage and they are loud motherfuckers when they are running around in there and the rest of the house is quiet. Plus, they have the noisiest water bottle in the world. That thing wakes me up when I am asleep so I will be glad when we replace it. Sometimes, my neighbor has work being done in his flat so I get the joy of drilling and hammering.

Go me.

ketch my ass

I had real trouble with the previous post. Something happened in the formatting and it got entirely screwed up as I tried to transfer it from a Gmail "compose mail" form to the blogger post. Words broke up in the middle but there were no hard returns anywhere.

I couldn't fix it using the blogger tools. Mostly because there wasn't anything to fix. I copied the text to a Word doc and it was fine. I had to wind up typing everything over into new, blank blogger post.

I spent far too much time on that.

some good guys in books

I love British crime fiction. In the last year I've read almost everything by Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Caroline Graham and Paul Charles. Long before that was Agatha Christie and Colin Dexter. I've seen more television adaptations than one human being should ever see. Yet, I am always thrilled to re-read a good murder mystery. Now, I'm going through P.D. James and John Harvey. I've also read all of the Kurt Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell and some Ngaio Marsh, just to show once a good crime fic shows up, with a great detective, I'ma loving it.

I've always loved Morse. I think he is always going to be my favorite. I learned the meaning of "irascible" and would love to include it more in my daily life. I'm very loyal to Poirot and Marple because I cut my mystery teeth in Agatha Christie.

I met John Rebus quite by accident. I came across one novel in the library and couldn't put it down. I immediately found a list of all of Rankin's Rebus novels and requested them. I would up buying the last, and final, Rebus novel because I couldn't wait for the library to get it. I am desperately in love with John Rebus and I wish I owned the entire set. At least, I read them all.

Paul Charles was cool. His tea-loving Christie Kennedy was almost dreamy, certainly the dreamiest of the lot. His so-called girlfriend, ann rea, is a real dud, though, and [SPOILER] I was happy when, in the last book, she left him... yet again! Charles makes it difficult to see what Kennedy sees in her. And it always kills me when, in promos, she is referred to as "ann rea, always in mysterious lower case". It's NOT mysterious. She says it in the first book and EVERY book thereafter: she's a journalist and, in looking to boost her profile, borrowed the lower case name think from k.d. lang, who, in turn, stole it from e.e. cummings. No fucking mystery and the fellas that write the copy for the book flaps need to actually read the books.

Ok. Rant over. See why I need a blog?

I missed one Kennedy novel, "The Justice Factory", which, from what I hear, is the best one. And the one where all kinds of good stuff happens. It's almost impossible to find in the States and a new copy costs an arm. I did find one second-hand and hope to be able to get it somewhere down the road.

John Harvey is my new passion. I didn't think I'd like his jazz-loving Charlie Resnick (what is it with these guys and music — Rebus likes rock, Morse had his Wagner, Paul Charles' day job was in the music industry so his books were peppered with references). But, if the mystery was good, did I need to like him? Harvey himself described Resnick as someone who thought like Morse but "dressed like Columbo". But love him I do. I could not find all the novels in the library (most of them appeared to have been stolen!) so I've only been able to read a few in the series. Unfortunately, a lot of good shit happens in the ones I missed. Harvey is also one of the few to bring back characters (some very minor) in later books. This is also a collection I would love to own.


I am reading the very last Resnick novel, "Cold Hand". I am about halfway through when a beloved character is killed. I couldn't take it. I closed the book and put it down and went to watch "Twilight", just mercifully arrived from Netflix. I have yet to pick it back up.

I enjoyed Harvey so much, I read his Frank Elder trilogy in lickety-split time. Good stuff. Not sure I like [SPOILER] that Frank went back to his wife at the end of the last book. Still, I was hooked into those three like nobody's business.

I loves me a good British detective fiction. Can you tell?