Friday, December 3, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Darden programming.... bring you an update from the law school.  Yes, I know I'm months behind on awarding cupcakes.  And weeks behind on posting anything interesting.  But right now, I'm stuck in the third circle of hell (i.e., law school exam studying period).  So, I'll just leave you with the following, which have made me laugh recently, even though this part of the first semester is generally pretty gloomy:

1.) A few weeks ago, the whole UVa internet system experienced problems due to a cable problem 40 or so miles north of Charlottesville.  Darden sent out a very succinct, bare-bones email right away letting students know.  A few hours later, the law school tech folks sent out the message below (originally available at, which I don't know if everyone can access).

An Open Letter to the Law School student body from The Internet
Date Posted: Monday, November 22, 2010
Submitted By: Law ITC/General
Dear Students,

It's not you, it's me. I know that we have had our troubles before but this time, it's serious. I bet that a lot of you have been blaming yourselves but, the truth is, it's me that has changed. You see, my main fiber optic connection in Culpeper was cut this morning and things just haven't been the same since. If I thought that we could get past this by talking things out, then we would. But it's gone too far and clearly I just need some time. I never meant for anyone to get hurt and I know this was sudden, but that's just the breaks. I know that you are still spending time with our mutual friends Facebook, Gchat, and Pandora but it's just not going to be the way that you remember until I can get my act back together.

I will try to take this journey of discovery as quickly as I can but it looks like it's just going to take some time to get things back to the way they used to be.

I'm sorry that I let you down.

The Internet

I was amused.

2.) Today, the law students also got an email full of exam reminders.  Written "Buddy-the-Elf Style."  A-mazing.  (Originally available at

Final Exam Best Practices, Fall 2010
Date Posted: Friday, December 3, 2010
Submitted By: Law ITC/General

Good afternoon Law School boys and girls,

It is that time of year again when Jack Frost nips at your nose and the sublime thrill of the exam season electrifies the very air around us. As a public service we are again presenting a jolly recounting of all of your favorite Exam Best Practices in order to allow all of the good boys and girls of UVa Law to stay off of the Naughty List. And, before I begin, let me share one very important administrative note. To better serve the student body, we are moving the entirety of our student Help Desk down to the exam table in the Withers-Brown hall for the duration of the exam period. So, starting on Saturday, if you have any technical questions or concerns either exam or non-exam related, please don’t trundle yourselves up to WB399 but instead just come by WB exam table for help of any sort. Without further interruption, come with me as we walk together through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly, twirly gum drops, and then emerge in a mystical land known as “Law School Exams – Buddy the Elf style.”

"First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."

Take it from Buddy…it’s important to have a plan. In the mystical world of exams, much of your advance planning can benefit from a thorough review of the Exam Calendar. Now you might say to yourself “Oooooooooo….what’s an exam calendar? I want one!” But the beauty of it is that the Student Records Office has already created one and you can review it online or in poster form in the WB Hallway. The calendar lays out all of the exam dates and times for the next two weeks. You can see that 1L exams are Fixed on Monday and Thursday morning during both weeks which means that no Flex exams can be checked out during those times. You will also see that there is no Flex exam period available on Thursday, December 16 so the last available Flex exam checkout is Wednesday afternoon. Finally, you will note that Flex exam checkout is available from 8:30-9:30 and 1:00-2:00 on eligible days and that Flex exams longer than 4 hours MUST be taken in the morning Flex period. So grab a plate of cookies with milk and start hatching your plans for a successful exam season.

"OK people, tomorrow morning, 10 am, Santa is coming to town!

For 2Ls and 3Ls picking up Flex exams, there is one important goodie that you need to bring to the exam checkout area and that is your UVa ID card. That’s the best way to make sure that none of you are South Pole elves. With your UVa ID you can just swipe the card, request your exam, and go. Anyone with only a driver’s license will be asked to go to the end of the line and will have to be checked out manually. No driver’s license and no UVa ID means no exam so please remember to bring that and Student Records will be happy to verify your existence and get out going. Especially if your name is Francisco. Frannnnncisco. Fraaaancisssscooooooooo.

"I've been to New York thousands of times.
What's it like?
Well, there are some things you should know. First off, if you see gum on the street, leave it there. It isn't free candy.
Second, there are, like, thirty Ray's Pizzas. They all claim to be the original. But the real one's on 11th. And if you see a sign that says "Peep Show", that doesn't mean that they're letting you look at the new toys before Christmas."

Just like New York City, there is something you should know about each exam that you take. Fortunately much of that information is shared through the magic of the Exam Cover Sheet! While many cover sheets might look the same, each one has been specifically crafted for you by your professor and often contains specific information such as preferred font and spacing, word limits, and allowed resources. Please take a few minutes to read each cover sheet before you dive into the hustle and bustle of your exam answers.

"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup."

We ITC types try to stick to one document format and that format is Microsoft Word. Feel free to use OpenOffice or another word processing program if you don’t like Word, but when you are saving for submission, please save as a Microsoft Word compatible format (.doc or .docx). Please don’t submit documents in PDF, WPS, WKS, or ODT format because that grinds the automated print system to a halt and then those documents then have to be printed manually. If you are using Microsoft Office on a Mac, just verify that the “Append File Extension” option is checked on the File\Save As menu in Word. And feel free to use document headers and footers to include such information as the course, instructor, your blind grading number, and page numbers. If you don’t know how to manage headers and footers, feel free to stop by the exam table for a quick demo, well in advance of your exam.

"This is the North Pole.
No it isn't.
Yes it is.
No it isn't.
Yes it is!
No it isn't! Where's the snow?!"

We would all love to trust your beloved laptops not to lead you astray or crash outright. But bad things happen to good people so you know that you should always be saving your document during the course of your exam to prevent a major catastrophe. Just like the manager at Gimbel’s, you can’t let your computer decide what is important to save in the case of a computer failure. Your laptop hard drive is the most reliable save location but you should be using Save As every 15 minutes to save to your hard drive AND a backup location (i.e. USB flash drive or Home Directory). Autosave sometimes helps if your computer locks up but often it doesn’t and is not a replacement for regular saving to multiple locations. If you find yourself wondering when your last save was and pondering whether or not it is time to save again, just ask yourself “Is there sugar in syrup?” And your answer will always be YES!

[whispering] "I think we should call security.
[whispering] Good idea.
[whispering] I like to whisper too!"

If you do encounter some sort of trouble during the work or submission portions of your exam, please don’t sit and whisper silently to yourself in the classroom. Come to the exam table so that we can try to help you to keep a small problem from becoming a big problem. If your wireless conks out during submission or you can’t seem to find the final version of your document to submit, please come and see us. We can stop your exam clock and assist you with minor items so that you don’t freak out and cram 11 cookies into the VCR.

"Who the heck are you?
What are you talkin' about? I'm Santa Claus.
No, you're not.
Uh, why of course I am! Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.
Well, if you're Santa, what song did I sing for you on your birthday this year?
Um, Happy Birthday of course. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho. How old are you son?
Now what can I get you for Christmas?
Don't tell him what you want, he's a liar.
Let the kid talk.
You disgust me! How can you live with yourself?
Just cool it, Zippy.
You sit on a throne of lies."

So you think that you have successfully submitted your final exam document but you can never be sure unless you look very, very closely. To that end, please be sure to verify each document submission by clicking the resulting blue hyperlink that pops up immediately upon submission. Only a cotton-headed ninnymuggins would submit a document without double-checking that it was the completed copy and not an outline or and incomplete answer. If you ever want to double-double check, feel free to stop by the exam table where we can pull up your submitted document and then share a pleasant conversation regarding our mutual affinity for elf culture.

Do you remember me?
I do! I didn't recognize you!
I know. I'm in work clothes!"

After you have successfully submitted and verified your exam document, go off and make gingerbread houses, eat a nice Ziploc bag of spaghetti covered with maple syrup, or maybe just hold hands. But please don’t delete, view, or modify your original exam document in any way. If a document is determined to have been modified in any way after the stated exam finish, it will be like Buddy the Elf in work clothes and will be essentially unrecognizable as a valid document in the event that your document needs to be recovered for resubmission. Feel free to make a copy and view the copy or you can view your original submission on LawWeb until it gets printed. But if your original submission gets compromised in some way and the original exam document has been modified past the end of your original submission period, you might feel like you are in a place that smells like mushrooms and everyone will look like they want to hurt you.

"Why are you smiling like that?
I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite.
Make work your favorite. That's your favorite. Make work your new favorite."

Finally, be sure to budget time for both work and smiling. Make both work and smiling your co-favorites. It will be a stressful and spirit-crushing two weeks for you if you don’t take time to study hard but also eat well, sleep well, and get a bit of exercise. I know, I know, the children love the books! But we always see some bad effects of exam exhaustion as the exam period draws nearer to its end so please keep your exam favorites balanced. And if you take a minute to sit still and be quiet you might even realize that your finger has a heartbeat!

I hope that each and every one of you is looking forward to this exciting time as much as we are. If you prepare yourselves properly and make smart choices, then everything is going to work out fine. If you have any questions or get attacked by raccoons along the way, please stop by and see us at the exam table. But hopefully, at the end of it all, we can get together and say to ourselves “You did it! Congratulations! World's best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody!”

Best of luck to all of you for exams and safe travels over the approaching winter break.

Most sincerely,
Papa Elf

Maybe nobody else is amused, or maybe 8+ hours a day of studying is getting to me....but I appreciate the humor.  A lot. 

Another reason UVa is generally awesome.  :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please vote....but leave me alone!

I love voting.  Sending in my voter registration was the most exciting part of my 18th birthday (I also had two papers due the next day, so that may shed some light on the day...).  I vote whenever I have the chance.  I think it's an important part of being a citizen in a representative democracy. 

However, I hate election season.  Hate, hate, HATE.  The last time I thought an election season was fun was when I was 17 years old and got to go to one of then-Senator Biden's victory speeches at an election party in 2002 because I was "interning" for Senator Carper and was somehow apparently "well-connected."  Since then, I've been consistently irritated by the election season process.  Sure, there are candidates that I've supported and for whom I've handed out stickers at small town parades.  I've even "staffed" out-of-state fundraisers.  I've also dressed up as a certain former candidate for Halloween (hey, the costume was basically a business suit and a bump-it, and I'm a Halloween cheap-skate).  Like I said, I like voting, and I think civic engagement is important.   But I HATE election season.

In case you haven't watched the national news any time in the last few weeks, I currently live in one of the most hotly contested congressional districts in the country.  Basically, that means that for the last several months, I've been bombarded with huge yard signs, nasty commercials, and dozens of robo-calls.  Every single time I've left my apartment in the last four days, I've come home to a Tom Perriello hang tag on my front door.  Every single time the phone rings in my apartment, it's a robo-call (Dear Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Rush Limbaugh....I didn't give you or the organization on behalf of whom you are allegedly calling my number, so that means I really don't want to talk to you.  I hate phone calls so much that I am on the Do Not Call Registry.  Trust me, I will go vote.  But please stop calling.  I don't have an executive assistant to screen my calls.  And you call at ungodly hours of weekend mornings.  Don't take this the wrong way, though.  I wouldn't want to talk to a recording of Bill Clinton at that hour either.).  Every single time I forget that I have a DVR and actually watch part of a commercial break, there's a horrible campaign ad or PAC message that makes me dislike every candidate.  Seriously.  Every time.  There is not ounce of exaggeration in this paragraph. 

I guess propagating nastiness and annoying the voting populace have been key parts of the election process for decades, if not centuries.  And I understand that it's important to educate voters and motivate them to get out to the polls.  But even I - who LOVE voting - am tempted to put my foot down and/or throw my hands up and say, "Why bother?!?!  Just leave me alone already!!!"  [Note: I am still planning to go vote in the morning.  I'm just saying that it's tempting to put on the blinders and say "screw it" instead.] 

I would say that there is a fine line between educating voters and harassing them, between pointing out your opposing candidate's weaknesses and exploiting sentiments and fear....but there isn't really a fine line.  There's a huge freakin' chasm. 

I know I'm not the only person who feels this way.  In fact, I've spoken to numerous folks at both ends of the political spectrum who HATE election season as much as I do, for exactly the same reason.  Maybe someone's done studies that have shown that you really do get more people out to the polls with smear campaigns than with anything positive.  Maybe a big part of the problem is all the non-campaign-funded (i.e., "independent"....hahahahaha) publicity.  I don't really know.  But here's something for the political campaign gurus out there to consider:  I think there are plenty of people out there who, like me, are more likely to vote for your candidate if you actually tell us something about his/her platform and what he/she actually will do if we help elect him/her rather than just slamming your opponent.  If you don't, I think we're all going to be tempted either to stay home on election day or to to walk into a voting booth and vote for whichever third-party candidate hasn't shown up on our TV screens attacking another candidate. 

Just some food for thought.

And, to all my readers: make sure you DO vote tomorrow, no matter your party affiliation!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hocus pocus and technological magic!

While I certainly don’t consider myself the most technologically savvy person in the world, I am also far from a Luddite. That being said, I got a new “cell phone” about a week ago, and I am completely blown away by the things that sucker can do. It seems like not that long ago that my parents had bag phones, and I feel like just yesterday I had an old-school flip phone that could barely send text messages and only received phone calls when I was standing at the top of a hill in a major metropolitan area under sunny skies.

I finally caved and got a “crackberry” during my last year working at The Consulting Firm That Shall Not Be Named (they weren’t willing to pay for one for a mere paralegal, but I was tired of having to drag my laptop all over creation, because they certainly expected me to be available via email outside of working hours). While my BlackBerry Storm was pretty cool for a while (I fell in love with having my email and calendar synced with my computer and being able to access Facebook while standing in cash register lines), it soon lost its novelty. Now, I could deal with a lack of novelty. What I couldn’t deal with was the outright revolt I started encountering over this summer. That 16-month-old blackberry apparently decided it was time for some teenage-style rebellion. It completely shut down when I asked it to do something for me. It decided that opening webpages was too taxing and wouldn’t respond to simple commands. It refused to recognize when it was plugged into a charger. Basically, it decided that it was grumpy with life, and I decided that I was grumpy with it. Since sending it upstairs to think about its bad behavior wasn’t really going to solve any of our problems, I decided instead to lock it in the closet until it grows up and replace it with a new child – er, phone.

Enter my new Samsung Fascinate (thank you, Verizon, for timing your buy-one-get-one-free android phone promotions at exactly the time that my mother and both were ready to throw our blackberries through a window). Although we had a moderately shaky start (for about an hour, since I refused to read the manual), I am now completely amazed by that thing. It loads full webpages in the blink of an eye. It has applications!!! It syncs my Darden emails and calendar (on an Enterprise platform) without requiring me to pay either $100 for a license or $10 a month to Verizon for the privilege of so doing. And, here is perhaps the coolest thing ever: I CAN PRINT DOCUMENTS AND WEBPAGES FROM MY PHONE TO MY HOME PRINTER. Without touching my computer. Oh, the power of wi-fi. I am completely shocked and awed.

Now, there are a couple blackberry features that I miss (e.g., enabling spell check before I send emails without having to look at the dumb “guess the word” screen all the time, auto punctuation of contractions, etc.), and none of the android phones currently have global phone capabilities, so if I travel internationally, I may need to un-ground the rebellious Storm. But in the mean time, I’m certainly glad that I’m finally the owner of a truly “smart,” well-behaved phone.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Legal MBAyhem's Guide to [Eating] in Charlottesville - Part I

[Note: I started writing this post, oh, something like six weeks ago.  Clearly, it has been sitting - unfinished -  in my blog "drafts" box for a long time.  Therefore, I've decided to publish what I have already now, and at some point when I have free time (ha!), I will post the remainder.]

In Part II of my Guide to Cville series (see Part I, on getting settled pre-school, here), I'd like to share some of my personal eating/dining/enjoying the glorious local bounty of the Blue Ridge favorites.  I've done this "Best of" style, with some runners-up.  Obviously, these are just my thoughts and opinions, and I've generally focused on foods/items that are either very convenient to North Grounds or well within the student budget.  So, I haven't focused a lot of truly "fine dining," but I think these are worth checking out!

I've broken this list down into categories that make sense to me but that may not make sense to others.  It's my blog, so I guess that's what you get...  :-)

Best Quick Lunch Near North Grounds: Bellair Market
When I was planning to move to Cville, my boss in the legal dept. at The Consulting Firm That Shall Not Be Named, a UVa Law alumna, told me two key things about dining in Charlottesville: First, a Gusburger tastes delicious after a night on the Corner, and second, the best sandwiches in town are available at a gas station on Ivy Road.  I have yet to indulge in a gusburger (fried egg+hamburger=heart attack), and I was very, very skeptical of gas station fare (though I do love me some Wawa).  However, she was right - the sandwiches at Bellair Market in the Exxon on Ivy Road are pretty darn tasty sandwiches. Plus, they are affordable and close to school.  Some of the other Exxons in the area also carry pre-made versions of the sandwiches (e.g., the Exxon at the corner of 29 and Hydraulic, on my way home), and the Exxon at Forest Lakes by Target also makes the sandwiches to order if you ever want to grab one on your way out of town. 
Honorable Mentions: Padow's Hams & Deli in Barracks Road Shopping Center - North Wing (end of Millmont Street), Abbott Center dining room to-go at Darden (can't beat the convenience), and Chipotle in Barracks Road Shopping Center (sometimes you just want a big-a$$ burrito). 

Best Indian Food: Royal Indian
For the record, there are basically three Indian restaurants in town: Royal Indian (by Target, so a little ways up 29), Maharaja (in the Seminole Square Shopping Center on 29 between Hydraulic and Greenbrier), and Milan (on 29 just before Hydraulic).  Charlottesville seems divided on which is best.  I like Maharaja better than Milan, but I've had people tell me I'm crazy.  In fairness, I haven't tried the lunch buffet at either because I have always been underwhelmed by lunch buffets EVERYWHERE.  But take-out from either Maharja and Milan is pretty good.  Royal Indian, however, is worth the drive if you want to sit down.  I went to try it for the first time the other day, and it may even be worth the drive for take-out. 
Honorable Mentions: See above

Best Thai Food: Tara Thai
Consistently tasty food, extensive menu, close to grounds, the ability to have pad see yew and a cocktail at 2 in the afternoon after finishing your first round of b-school exams....what is not to like?  Tara Thai's pad thai is only OK, but I think it's definitely better than that from other local restaurants, and I haven't been disappointed by the rest of the menu. 
Honorable Mentions: Thai 99 II and Pad Thai (I thought their pad thai itself was kind of blah, but others like it)
Stay Away From: Monsoon if you want food that actually tastes like Thai food as opposed to a sloppy concoction of random noodle-y things (you can sit outside, though, and it's just off the Downtown Mall, so decide if you're willing to consume less-than-stellar food at Downtown prices for the location/outside factor)

Best "Splurge" or Off-the-Beaten Path Lunch: Feast!
When I lived in Boston, an $8-9 sandwich was no big deal; now that I'm a student, I can't spend that on a sandwich with any sort of regularity.  However, every now and then, I need to treat myself, and the sandwiches at Feast! are truly scrumptious.  Plus, they feature a lot of locally-grown vegetables and locally-raised meat products.  Feast! is also a great place to buy tasty gourmet treats, local vegetables, local cheeses, etc. (and they would love to get more Darden/UVa law students to come in!).  Courtney of their catering staff is also fabulous and very accommodating.   It's worth the trek down West Main Street every once in a while. 
Honorable Mentions: Cville Coffee (service can be slow, though - but they also host various musical performances in the evening), Revolutionary Soup (locations both on the Corner and off the Downtown Mall)

Best "Splurge" or Off-the-Beaten Path Dinner: Tie between C&O and Tavola
Both C&O and Tavola are a bit pricier (my C&O consumption has been funded by corporate sponsors prior to interviews, and Tavolo was my one nice treat to myself this summer), but they are tasty (and maybe great places to get the parents to take you when they are in town). 
Honorable Mentions: L'Etoile, Mas Tapas

Best Frozen Concoction: Splendora's
I am a gelato snob, thanks to Caffe Gelato in Newark, DE, which I fell in love with when I was, oh, about 11 years old.  Best.  Gelato.  Ever.  Then I went away to college in Providence, where my roommate and I actually put together a business plan for a gelateria on Thayer Street as part of a class assignment (the horrible Roba Dolce actually opened the next year, but it was icky.)  There was some decent gelato in Boston, but nothing to write home about.  Then I encountered Splendora's.  It is super, super, super delicious, and it's REAL gelato, not a masquerading imposter. 
Honorable Mentions: Arch's Frozen Yogurt (those melt-y delicious brownie mix-ins are tasty, tasty morsels of evil) and Sweet Frog (which just opened on the Downtown Mall and is reminiscent of Pinkberry). 

Best Bakery: Albemarle Baking Company
You walk in, and it just smells like a bakery should smell.  Soooooooo good.  I wish they would bottle that smell.  Albemarle Baking Company has wonderful breads, melt-in-your-mouth croissants, assorted danish, and fancy schmancy cakes and tarts.  Plus, it's conveniently located in the Main Street Market (see below).
Honorable Mentions: Hotcakes (great cakes, and some tasty "gourmet" prepared items and sandwiches, as well as breakfast items and a coffee bar) and Chandler's Bakery (up 29 in Albemarle Square - tasty cookies, eclairs, napoleons, etc.)

Best Single Location to Give Yourself a Local Food Coma: Main Street Market
The Main Street Market is the home of Feast!, the Organic Butcher of Cville, Albemarle Baking Co., OrzoCalvino Cafe and Gearhart's Chocolates.  Go.  You won't regret it (well, your wallet will, but your stomach won't).

There's something about cupcakes...

I mean, you start eating just one, and you think, "This is so delicious...but a single cupcake is so very, very small.  It's smaller than a piece of cake, right?  So I can have TWO cupcakes, can't I?  Why, yes; yes, I can." 

Well, I'm feeling the same way right now, so yet again, I shall award two cupcakes at once. 

The Week 5 cupcake goes to: UVa Law! 


....the Week 6 cupcake goes to: UVa Law! [Really, folks, this shouldn't be surprising any more.]

The running count: Darden - 0 cupcakes, UVa Law - 6 cupcakes.

The calendar proof (as a reminder, purple is Darden academic/recruiting/clubs, orange is Darden social, green is Law academic/clubs, red is Law social (including softball), and blue is personal):
Darden - Week 6
Law - Week 6
Now, I bet you're thinking, "Wow, it looks like your law school calendar is a lot crazier.  I mean, there's stuff all over the place!  And last year, you got a reading day on Friday!"  Well, yes, you're right.  But if we remove all of the Darden (and JD/MBA-specific) stuff from my Law school calendar, you get this:

Yes, it is still crazier-looking, but then you realize that all that red and blue represents purely social events, such as softball, golf lessons, and dinners and outings with friends, whereas last year's Darden calendar was all important academic stuff.  Phooey on (and a cupcake to) that. 

Part of the reason this last week was so crazy was because this week was a "Program Week" for the current Darden FYs, which meant that they did not have class and instead had time to focus solely on recruiting.  To say that the rest of the SYs and I are jealous/irritated/downright angry would be understatement.   However, for me, that meant that I had law school classes, mentoring and club meetings at Darden, club meetings at the law school, social events (including a softball tournament and two regular-season softball games), AND two Darden briefings and two recruiting dinners.  Basically, what this week taught me is that you really are not intended to do your 1L year while also staying involved at Darden....oops, guess I missed that memo!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Special deal on cupcakes: 2 for the price of 1!

Obviously, I missed awarding last week's cupcake, so I need to award 2 weeks' worth this time around.  All you lucky readers, therefore, get 2 cupcakes for the price of 1!

The cupcake for Week 3 goes to: UVa Law!

The cupcake for Week 4 goes to: UVa Law!

Now, a lot of folks have seemed completely incredulous when I say that I find the first year at law school less demanding than the first year at Darden.  But take a look at Exhibit 1:
That is a snapshot of my schedule for the third week of my first year at Darden.  Things in purple are classes, recruiting events, club meetings, learning team, etc.  Things in orange are scheduled social events. You'll note that I was basically "scheduled" from 8 am to 10 pm every single day.  The "white space" was the time I had available to use for preparing cases, running errands, making food, etc.  You'll note that there is not a lot of "white space."

On the other hand, consider Exhibit 2:
This is a snapshot of my third week in law school.  Green represents law school classes, purple is still Darden club/academic events (no recruiting currently, given the new FY schedule), red is law school social events, orange is still Darden social events, and blue is personal.  You will note two things:  (1) there is a lot less time spent in class, and (2) there is a TON more white space generally.  Consider also that most law school "homework" consists of just reading, which, although dense, is generally only 10-15 pages per class.  Contrast that to 3 Darden cases a day, which involved ~20 pages of reading AND constructing a spreadsheet/model for each class, first individually and then with your learning team.  Hopefully, you're all beginning to see why I think law school is less demanding (for now at least...)!  I guess we'll have to see how this continues.

For those of you keeping track at home, the cupcake score is currently Darden - 0, UVa Law - 4. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rumor has it...

...that Darden has launched its new webpage!  Check it out here!

Also, I have it on good authority that this year's application is available now.  Ready, set, go, Round 1-ers!

Friday, August 27, 2010

This Week's Cupcake goes to...

UVa Law!

Running score:  Darden - 0, UVa Law - 2

Rationale for this week's award: I actually had to bring home work one evening, but only because I've been to Darden at least twice each day for receptions, meetings, career counseling sessions, etc.  So Darden is even more demanding than the law school for a pseudo-SY student!

(If you're confused about the cupcakes, see bottom of this post).

Sentimentality for a change

Let me state for the record that I am not, by nature, a particularly sentimental or emotional person (unless you want to count righteous indignation as an which case, I plead guilty as charged).  I generally don't develop attachments to inanimate objects (well, except maybe to my old Subaru, but we were together for 7 years, and a lot of marriages don't last that long).  It takes a lot to make me emotional enough to cry, and on the very rare ocassions when I do, it's typically because an internal tempest of rage and righteous fury bursts out of my control and starts leaking through my tear ducts, not because I'm sad.  I didn't cry at my graduation from either high school or college.  I like babies (particularly some of those belonging to my classmates), butterflies, and rainbows as much as the next person, but I got really sick of Chris L. on The Bachelor and his whole shpiel about seeing his mother in every rainbow.   Like I said, I am generally a no-nonsense, un-sentimental person.  This isn't the forum for psycho-analyzing me and figuring out why that is....let's just accept it as a fact and move on, shall we?

Given this fact of my nature, imagine my shock when I returned to school (and by school, I mean Darden) and found myself feeling...sentimental.  Shock doesn't even describe it.  I mean, I didn't really leave - I've been in Charlottesville all summer, and the scanner in the student copy center and I spent A LOT of time bonding between June and August.  Also, I've only known the people at Darden for 12 months, max (OK, so I went to high school with two of them....that doesn't count).   So why on Earth did "returning" make me feel so sentimental?  Maybe it was the fact that everyone seemed shocked to see me (note: the law school, contrary to popular belief, does NOT lock 1Ls in the library), and some even seemed fairly delighted that I was coming to help out with Orientation, to hang out at the beginning-of-school picnic, or to attend the Dean's "welcome back" speech to the second year (SY) class.  Maybe it was the fact that I've hugged more people in the last four days that I have in probably the last six years of my life.  Maybe it was just that everyone was so darn excited to be at Darden.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that's it: we're all just happy to be here (heck, I'm so happy that I've been spending almost more time at Darden than at the law school this week, despite the fact that all my classes are at the law school). 

My class (or I guess I should say the Class of 2011) has bonded a lot.  Sure, we aren't all best friends, but we generally get along, we enjoy catching up with one another, etc.  Most of all, we've all survived the first year of Darden together, and there's a sense of brother-(and sister-)hood that comes with that.  As I watch the FYs struggle with their first full week of class, stressing about building Excel models and understanding managerial accounting and debating the merits of prepping LO cases in learning teams, I remember how all of those experiences brought my class together.  My section, Section E, certainly bonded over our trials and tribulations in class.  My learning team bonded as we figured out the most efficient way to get in, get everything done, and get out so we could go about the rest of our lives.  We bonded over recruiting, over the hell that is Black November, and over our delight in finally finding some time in Q4 to start to appreciate Charlottesville beyond North Grounds.  I feel closer to some of my Darden classmates than I do to people I knew through three-and-a-half years of college. 

So, now that the powers that be have decided I am in a position to provide "advice" to the FYs, here it is: just remember, no matter how stressed out you are now, so is everyone else, and there's an opportunity in that.  The person you run by in a panic as you realize that you're late for your fourth meeting of the day may be one of your closest friends by this time next year.  Take the time to take a deep breath, say hello, and commiserate with the other person running down the hallway with you.  I hope that in 12 months, you, too, will be feeling sentimental...even if it isn't in your nature, either. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Orientation/Start of Classes, Round 2 and the Camp Cupcake Award

Eek!  It's been a crazy few weeks since I last posted.  In the last 14 days, I wrapped things up at my summer job, tried to get my life in order to start school again (e.g., organize random stack of mail and paperwork, buy school supplies and books, buy parking pass, buy groceries, starch and iron accumulated pile of washed cotton sundresses, scrub floors because I won't have time to let them see Pinesol again until next summer and the Swiffer Wet-jet only does so much, etc.), and began running around between Darden and the law school like a chicken with my head cut off.

I've gotten a lot of questions lately about "how this whole JD/MBA thing works."  The answer, like many things at Darden, is "it depends."  If, like me, somehow applies to law and business schools concurrently and gets into both, at UVa you get to pick where you start.  I chose to start at Darden because for me, business was what was "new," and I wanted to be able to graduate with one of the classes with which I did my "first" year; since there is no way to do that with any Darden class, I chose to do my 1L year with the class of 2013.  So, I've finished the Darden first year, I'm doing the first year of law school now, and next year and the year after, I'll be taking electives at both schools, sprinting back and forth numerous times during the day.  Most (but not all) folks doing the JD either apply concurrently and choose to start at the law school or apply only to the law school up front and then apply to Darden while a 1L.  I think it really is a personal decision about how you choose to do it, and I think I made the right choice for me, though there may have been some draw-backs. 

So, this past week, I've been doing Orientation, Round 2, which has been an interesting experience. Unlike most of my 1L classmates, I've been in Charlottesville as a graduate student for a year, so I know where things are, how things work, and what the grad student social scene is like.  Unlike my SY Darden classmates, I'm not negotiating class swaps and trying to schedule the least-stressful 4th quarter.  At Darden, they've restructured Orientation this week, so I can't really speak to how that worked out.  I did volunteer to help out at one of the faculty receptions (lots of fun!), and I organized one of the Activity Day trips to a couple local wineries (also lots of fun!).  I also had a couple meetings with incoming first year students.  Over at the law school, I did some community service for Public Service Day, met a bunch of new classmates, attended Section H bonding activities, sat through presentations by a bunch of administrators, and attended my first three days of class.  I generally like the faculty, and the classes (as at Darden during the first semester) were selected for me, but I think they'll be interesting.  I'm taking Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law this semester, as well as a year-long pass/fail Legal Research & Writing course.   Although my schedule is sort of wonky (bizarre gaps between classes, some M/W, some T/R/F, some M/W/R, etc.), I think it will allow me to get most of my case briefing done during the school day, so I'm going to try to treat this like a 9-to-5 job and not bring work home to the greatest extent that I can manage.  I'm sure there will be some exceptions, but for the sake of my spine, I want to leave my books at school as frequently as possible - they weigh a ton!  On the plus side, this arrangement meant that my homework was done by 5 pm on Friday, and I have actually been able to enjoy my weekend (section H potluck, polo, Darden picnic, winery tours, coffee dates, and catching up with friends - yay!).  We'll see if this trend continues.

On that of my Darden classmates' husband is a 2L at the law school, and he apparently refers to Darden as Camp Cupcake, implying, obviously, that Darden is "easier" than the law school. Apparently, this has been a point of virtually constant (and only quasi-serious) debate between people at both schools for quite some time.  Consequently, I've decided that I'm actually going to issue an "official" verdict on which school has the most difficult first year, as an "objective" party experiencing both.  I'm going to do this by assigning a weekly "Camp Cupcake" award to the school that was "easiest" for that point in the semester.  At the end of the year, the school with the most weekly awards will be officially declared "easier" in my perspective (clearly, this is a very scientific award process).  For the first week of school, Legal MBAyhem's Camp Cupcake Award goes to: UVa Law.  Rationale: no group work, finishing homework at school before dinner, more evening social events, only two days of Orientation, and no recruiting activities. 

Ongoing Cupcake Tracker: Darden 0, UVa Law 1. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

A couple resolutions for the future

I have been having several very frustrating interactions with outside counsel for the company with which I am working this summer.  What can I say, I was very spoiled when I working in-house at the Consulting Firm That Shall Not Be Named.  Such interactions, however, have led me to the following resolutions. If (or when) I become a practicing attorney, I hereby resolve to do the following to the best of my ability:

1.) To respond to emails within 24-48 hours and not to leave clients hanging for days on end without at least an acknowledgement of their message. If I cannot answer a question immediately, I will at least let the client know that I am working on it and when they may be able to expect a full response;

2.) To make sure I spell a client's name correctly and that I do not, in fact, misspell their name incorrectly in two different ways in the course of a 4-line email;

3.) To make sure that I remove one client's name and other information from "template" documents that I send to another client;

4.) To avoid misstating information previously provided by my client and uncessarily muddling the very clear questions that he/she asked;

5.) To provide information requested as succinctly as possible, and to provide all the information requested, rather than requiring my client to send me repeated emails asking the same thing, thereby enabling me to continue to bill said client for .1 hours of my time for each single email I read and then proceed to ignore;

5.) To avoid assuming that my client(s) don't know what they are talking about or that they have no legal experience whatsoever; and

6.) To appreciate my paralegals, because they generally have the important information committed to memory, with the applicable templates readily available.

I expect people to hold me to these rolutions.

Why didn't anything this exciting happen when I was a paralegal?

Many readers of this blog are aware that I spent nearly four years of summer and winter breaks (and one semester, working remotely from Rhode Island) working for College Firm, based in Wilmington, DE, in a variety of roles, ultimately as a Legal Assistant (They wouldn't give me the title "Paralegal" because I hadn't yet earned a four-year degree.  Phooey on them.).  During my time at College Firm, I scheduled countless depositions, spent hours and hours sitting in court trying to stay awake after getting 2 hours of sleep in 3 days, filed dozens (if not hundreds) of motions and briefs, and witnessed a whole bunch of legal shenanigans on the part of opposing counsel.  Unfortunately, I never got to travel to a deposition in another state while the attorney for whom I worked stayed home, and I certainly never got to click photos with my camera phone and then imbed them in the footer of EVERY PAGE of a motion to have opposing counsel sanctioned for allegedly tapping the foot of the deponent to signal answers. 

I think the whole motion is hilarious - it is written more like some sort of creative writing piece than anything I ever saw filed in Delaware, and it's full of the sort of rhetorical questions I was always told were a less-than-stellar idea to include with such high frequency in pleadings.  Its stylistic shortcomings notwithstanding, the motion still makes me wish I had had a chance to be such a bad-a$$ paralegal. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

LegalMBAyhem's Guide to [Getting Settled and Keeping Yourself Alive in] Charlottesville

One year ago at this moment (as I start to write this during my lunch break on Monday...probably not when it finally gets posted), I was sitting in the Pantops DMV for the second time in three hours.  Little did I know that it would take two more trips to finally get my license, title, and registration squared away...but that is another story for another time.  The point is, the first few days of August mark the time during which most Darden and UVa Law graduate students move to Charlottesville.  Their next two weeks are filled with unpacking, buying furniture, getting VA drivers' licenses, acclimating to new roommates, and preparing for Orientation.  Then school starts and your life is sucked away from you consumed by academic pursuits and school-related social events.   MissMBA recently offered some great advice for incoming b-school students, and I can't profess to be any sort of expert on the law school experience yet, but since I have lived in Charlottesville full-time for the last 12 months, I can claim some personal expertise on getting settled and keeping yourself alive in the Cville area.  I can also offer some personal tips and tricks for things that took me (in many cases) a disturbingly long time to realize/learn after I got here. 

Getting settled
I'll leave the actual moving logistics up to each individual person.  That totally depends on how much stuff you have, whence you are coming, and where you are living in town.  But, once you've gotten to Cville and picked up your keys, here are some tips for other things:
1.) If you haven't moved in yet (as of reading this), make sure you do things like set up an appt. to get your cable set up, putting electricity in your name, etc. BEFORE you get here.  Obviously, who your service providers are will vary by location (e.g., you have no choice in cable if you live in Ivy Gardens), but since everyone and their mother is moving to Cville in August, you'll want to try to get a jumpstart on getting on the schedule as soon as you can.  Note that if you have not previously had utilities in your name, the local utility companies may require a deposit from you.  It can be difficult to talk your way out of this if you can't get some sort of reference letter from a prior utility provider, so be sure to plan ahead. 
Useful links:
Dominion Virginia Power
Century Link (formerly Embarq)
2.) I highly recommend taking a good bit of time before you move to set up a forwarding order from your old address with the post office, to change all of your address information with your credit card companies/banks, etc.  When you set up a forwarding order with the USPS, they will send you a confirmation of your mailing address change - to both the new and old address.  KEEP THIS DOCUMENT.  It will make your life so much easier when you go to the DMV as you won't have to bring your lease (which may or may not have an actual street address on it, as I learned the hard way) or wait to get a bank statement to show residency. 
Useful links:
USPS Change of Address
3.) Don't forget to get renter's insurance (or change the insured property with your existing insurer)!  The student budget at UVa includes renter's insurance, many leases require you to have it, and it's just plain smart to have it, in my opinion.  Since money will be tight, take some time to shop around if you haven't in a while.  Make sure you ask about things like multi-policy discounts, alumni association discounts, professional network discounts, good student discounts, etc.  It's up to you whether you choose to do all of this online or with a live agent in town, but don't forget to do it! 
4.) If you have a car, make sure you get any necessary parking stickers from your landlord, management company, or the city (if necessary).  The last think you want is to get towed (and it does happen every year)!  Also, there is generally a parking waiver at Darden (and they claim at the law school) for most of August, but the lines at the Parking & Transportation Office toward the end of the month/waiver period can get to be truly ridiculous.  Decide if it's worth it to you to pay for a little bit more of the month (while the waiver is in effect) in exchange for your sanity, and just go before Orientation starts. 
5.) The DMV in most states is pretty horrific, but VA takes the cake in my opinion.  Double and triple-check the list of documents you need to bring, and plan to spend several hours there.  If it takes less time, you'll be thrilled, and if it takes as long as it usually does, at least you planned appropriately.  Also, I recommend going and getting a VA inspection (you can do it at many gas/service stations on 29 or 250) BEFORE you go to the DMV.  Then that's done.  I love the folks at the Goodyear on 29 (by Starbucks and Jiffy Lube, just south of Rio Rd and across from the Fashion Square Mall). 
Useful links:
Virginia DMV

Keeping yourself alive
1.) Try to get any and all possible doctor's appointments out of the way before Orientation starts.  You'll thank me later.  Despite all your efforts to be organized, I promise you that you will have something else pressing to do if you think you can schedule an eye exam for, say, 2 pm on October 5.  Because UVa has a medical school and teaching hospital, there are some really good doctors around.  Check out the DocFind for Aetna if you are on the UVa student plan, or check with your independent insurance company to see who accepts your plan locally.  Health Services is OK for things like sinus infections and flu shots, but I haven't had a great experience trying to get routine care from them, and if you need a specialist, you'll have to do that on your own anyway.  Plus, you can't get into Elson until school starts anyway if you haven't paid the summer fee.  Also, transfer your prescriptions from your old pharmacy NOW.  CVS is the most convenient to school, but Kroger, Walmart, Sam's Club, and Target all have generic programs that can significantly reduce your co-pays (and the line at CVS - even if you've pre-ordered a refill online - is frequently a 20+ minute ordeal).
2.)  Take an hour to drive (or walk) around and pick up take-out menus from places near school or your apartment.  You'll want to have these later (yes, many of them are online, but it really is easier to have a folder at home).  I'll be publishing LegalMBAyhem's Guide to Charlottesville Dining later this week, but figure out what is on your way home from school if you drive, and you'll be a much happier camper. 
3.)  If you want to avoid frequent take-out and think Lean Cuisines start tasting like rubber after the first or second one you eat a week, spend an afternoon preparing some of your favorite dishes.  Make 4-6 servings and then portion them out into single-serving containers to freeze.  This way, you can throw one serving in the microwave and you're only 5-6 minutes away from home-made deliciousness any crazy day.  I've found that pasta dishes (lasagna, penne with vodka sauce, etc.), saucy stir-fry dishes with rice, and many curry dishes with rice actually freeze pretty well.  The key is to make things that have enough moisture in them to help re-hydrate your starches when you microwave them, so think about adding some extra sauce relative to what you would usually make.  Red meat (beyond ground beef) can be the most tricky ingredient because it doesn't always re-heat terribly well. 
4.) Similarly to above, take some time to go to the grocery store and stock up on pantry items and other things you can prepare quickly.  I'm not saying you should live on ramen noodles (the amount of sodium in those seasoning packets is far too high!), but you'll want to have some things on-hand.   At Darden at least, there's also a lot of free food in September - first coffee, briefings, cocktails, etc.  - that can make menu-planning a challenge.  If you throw some chicken in the freezer and invest in some frozen veggies (they even freeze diced onion and peppers these days), you can whip up something homemade pretty easily without a special trip to the store if you find you have the time to do so....and you won't end up throwing out a bunch of fresh stuff you bought and then never had time to cook.
5.) Familiarize yourself with the locations of the nearest dry cleaner, ATM for your bank, the cheapest gas (I think Kroger off of Hydraulic and Sam's Club are the consistently the cheapest by far), FedEx (Barracks), the UPS Store (on 29 by Hydraulic), and the post office (Barracks and the main branch on 29 - note that the main branch accepts overnight mailings until much later in the afternoon than the Barracks branch).   Generally scope out the area and learn the lay of the land before you need something last minute and don't know where it is.
6.) If you need a new interview suit, a dress for a wedding in October, etc., go find those things now, while you have (maybe) some extra cash and some free time.  There are some nice stores (Banana Republic, White House Black Market, etc.) and boutiques in Charlottesville but not a ton, and the mall leaves a little bit to be desired at times.  However, the Leesburg and Williamsburg outlets are each about 2 hours away.  Go now!  If you're a Darden student, make sure you have a pretty solid business casual wardrobe, and if you're female, you'll want a couple good 100% cotton sundresses (that silky dress lining stuff that seems to be on virtually every nice sundress I owned before getting here is MISERABLE during August, September, and most of October) and a nice cocktail dress for Darden prom. 
7.) Do a little bit of sight-seeing.  Hit up Monticello or Ash Lawn-Highland!  Explore Richmond or DC if you aren't from this area!  Visit a winery!  Check out my posts here (at the bottom) and here to see what I've done with guests recently.  Put together a list of things you want to do (with information and websites and whatnot) that you can consult without spending a lot of time if you have friends or family visiting from out of town.
8.) Take some time to make sure all of your personal paperwork and information is organized and neatly filed before you start school.  I'm talking bank statements (if you still get paper copies), old paystubs, copies of last year's taxes, any medical records you may have, insurance documents, financial aid materials, copies of written recommendations from prior employers, etc.  Basically anything you may need to consult at some point in the next 9 months and don't want to waste precious time scrambling around finding.  It may seem silly now, but it could be super-helpful later.  If you did this before you moved, good for you.  If you just threw everything in a box that you plan to stash in a corner of your new apartment, go back and read the last three sentences again. 
9.) Try to get in the habit of going to the gym as soon as North Grounds will let you in (or start taking a regular run/bike).  If you don't make this a part of your routine very early, it becomes much, much more easy to justify never doing it.  I think I went to North Grounds a total of 5 times all year.  Not good, folks, not good. 
10.) Get sleep.  I know you'll want to go out and meet people and check out the local bars at the Corner, but don't start the school year sleep deprived.  Honestly.  Just don't.

Naturally, you don't have to take my advice on the above, and I'm sure other folks have different advice entirely.  However, I learned a lot of this the hard way, and if I can keep anyone else from making the same mistake(s) I did, I'll consider it my good deed of the day.  UVa also has a Graduate Guide that can be helpful (but I find it kind of hit or miss).  If you have specific questions or concerns, don't hesitate to email me at  Good luck!

The Hotel LegalMBAyhem

Every few months, as I'm writing my rent check, I think to myself, "Hmmmm...I could be saving so much money if I had a roommate!"  Then I realize that a.) I could also be spending a lot more money if I lived in another city/town/hamlet or even elsewhere in Charlottesville and b.) I really do love my apartment.  Particularly the fact that I have both a guest room and a guest bath, which makes hosting whole passels of family and friends from out of town very easy and enjoyable.  The weekend of my second big jam-making fest, (two weekends ago), my parents were in Cville, and this weekend, my friends and college sorority sisters M and T flew in from Boston and NYC, respectively.  For both of them, it was their first trip to the 'ville, so we made sure to pack in a lot of fun.  Luckily, the weather gods decided that Charlottesville has suffered through sufficient 100+ degree weekends, so it was gorgeous on Saturday and in the 70's and lower 80's all weekend. 

M flew into Cville's wee small airport late on Thursday night, so she spent Friday doing some work and chilling in my apartment while I went to the office, and in the afternoon, we drove to Richmond to pick up T from RIC.  M had put in a request for good barbecued southern meat products for dinner, so we stopped at Alamo BBQ before jumping back on the highway.  Very, very tasty pulled pork, and scrumptious jalapeno mac and cheese!  Then, we schlepped back to Cville along one of the most boring and uneventful stretches of highway I have experienced with any sort of regularity.  Naturally, the boring car ride made us hungry again, so we stopped for Arch's frozen yogurt (a Charlottesville institution) before making it home and spending the rest of the evening catching up. 

Saturday was a whirlwind of planned activities.  We got up early to try the breakfast tacos at Beer Run and then drove to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  They've actually added a new tour that (for an additional fee, of course) lets you do the original house tour and then a "behind the scenes" tour of the second and third floors of the house, including the family rooms and Dome Room.  We wandered around a little bit before and after our schedule tours and then headed down the mountain past TJ's grave.   I've been to Monticello a few times (both with S last August before school started and with the 'rents in April), so I've got a bunch of pictures I haven't posted anywhere else, and I might as well post them here:

Looks like the back of a nickel, huh?
The crowning moment of my photography career, right here, folks.

The hazy view from the mountain
Flowers along the path this spring

More flowers in the garden

View over the terraced gardens, which had tiny little plants in April and a jungle of produce in August

I love daffodils


Another shot of the "West Front"

Gorgeous budding trees in April

Yes, I could totally live here

The deer that greeted us on Saturday when we stepped off the shuttle

This is what happens to an artichoke if you don't drown it in butter and eat it first

T was scared of the naturally I needed to take a picture of this vicious creature
After Monticello, we grabbed a late lunch at the historical Michie Tavern (yep, totally touristy, but you've got to try it once) and then spent the afternoon doing wine tastings at Jefferson Vineyards, Blenheim Vineyards (owned by Dave, he wasn't there, and much to our disappointment, none of the bottles magically started playing "Ants Marching" when you took out the cork), and Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyards.  On the way back towards town, we drove by Carter Mountain Orchard, where we picked up some peaches (for me) and some peach cider donuts (for T).  Carter Mountain also happens to have a wine tasting room that offers $2 tastings of Prince Michel  wines, including some made from Carter Mountain fruit, with the proceeds going to charity, so of course we had to try that, too.  Duh.  When we finally made it home, we decided to spend the evening in with a Redbox DVD (which we never watched) and take-out Indian and some more wine, and H and J (local friends) came over to join us for a bit. 

On Sunday, I made breakfast (mmmm....blueberry pancakes...mmmm), then T and I dropped off M at the Cville airport, picked up sandwiches at Bellair Market, and drove to King Family Vineyards hoping to catch one of the Sunday afternoon polo matches (I'd gone with C, K, and H to the Pink Ribbon Polo match in June when it was a million degrees outside - random token photos from that below, last one of us talking to the player courtesy of C.  Note my ability to find an appropriate and color-coordinated polo hat.).  Unfortunately, the match had been cancelled due to rain the night before (and drizzle that morning), but we did a tasting and then sat outside on the patio enjoying our tasty sandwiches and the beautiful views.  Then it was back to RIC to drop off T, and the Hotel MBAyhem cleaning staff had to start doing laundry and re-making beds. 

The power of the interwebs

Like most bloggers with a little bit of free time and some curiousity on their hands, I occasionally take a few minutes to check and see if people have been visiting my little corner of the internet world.  I think it's neat to see where my readers live, and as Darden has publicized my blog, other sites have referred readers to it, too.  I've also done some shameless self-promotion by tying a blog feed into my Facebook status updates and adding my site to Hella's List and the Clear Admit business and law blog lists (and thanks for the two shout-outs in Fridays from the Frontlines a couple weeks ago, folks!).  After all, my reasons for starting this blog were three-fold: first, I wanted to keep family and friends "in the loop" while I vanished into the deep, dark depths of Charlottesville; second, I wanted to provide a perspective on student life as a JD/MBA student at UVa for those who are also considering UVa and/or a dual degree; and third, I needed a forum to vent periodically.  So, with the exception of the third reason (which is mostly for my mental health and frankly cheaper than paying for therapy would be), promoting my blog and linking it to Facebook helps me achieve my goals for Legal MBAyhem. 

Today, as I was perusing "Recent Visitor 'Came From' Activity" and "Keyword Search" information in StatCounter,  I realized that it is almost creepy how quickly even a relatively small and largely inconsequential blog can spread through the "interwebs."  (Thank you, Al Gore.  Just kidding!)  That realization led me to do some Google searching of my own - for my name (including nicknames, since I use my full name and shortened name pretty much interchangeably now), my blog's name, and various combinations of "Virginia Law," my name, "Legal MBAyhem," and "Darden."  Obviously, I expected my posts to show up at some point when I searched for Virginia Law and Darden, and I know that Darden posts my name in connection with this blog.  When I last Google-searched my name during the recruiting season, the only forum in which my name and my blog were publicly associated was through Darden.  However, when I searched for my name today, I got all sorts of links to this blog.   While I don't have a big problem with that (hey, I chose to post in a public forum, anyone who knows me knows that my online persona is a direct reflection of my real-life persona, and if a business or law firm chooses not to hire me because of something I posted here, that is their perogative), I did notice that 1.) the number of websites that aggregate all sorts of information and then try to link it to keyword searches for goodness knows what junk is OUT OF CONTROL; and 2.) a lot of people and sites seem simply to have done away with good blog etiquette (by which I mean referring to someone who runs a fairly anonymous blog by the name of their blog/online persona (e.g., referring to me as "Legal MBAyhem" or "UVAJDMBA2013"), not by whatever name you were able to uncover for them somewhere else).

So the whole searching process got me to thinking about blogs and the internet and anonymity and whatnot.  I don't slap my name all over this blog primarily because I don't want to deal with total creeps and obnoxious people using that information for some nefarious purpose.  After I go (back) into business or become an attorney, I also don't necessarily need potential clients and co-counsel or coworkers reading all of my blog posts when they Google search my name.  I also generally try to keep my blog free of specific, attributable references to otherwise innocent people or companies who may not be thrilled about the fact that I am blogging about them.  For instance, I refer to my last major employer as "The Consulting Firm That Shall Not Be Named,"  I refer to most friends (except those who also blog and use their first names to do so) by their initials or some other moniker, and there are some subjects and people I just don't blog about (yes, I have an  "I need to have a ring on my hand to blog about a man" policy). 

But of course there is a tension between keeping part of my life shrouded in mystery and anonymity and being open and honest about my experiences, thoughts, and feelings as I work through Darden and UVa Law.  Anyone who knows me (including many of my classmates) will be able to "undisguise" my disguising and concealing efforts.  In my mind, that's fine - if you actually know me AND you read my blog, you will obviously know more about the topics about which I post than the average person who stumbles across this blog inadvertently.  If you actually know me, I've probably told you a good bit more about me than I post here.  Naturally, you should "know" someone you've actually met better than someone you've only "met" online. 

On the other hand, some people have periodically accused the Darden Student Bloggers of offering a biased or censured perspective of Darden and the student experience here.  For the record, Darden has absolutely zero authority to tell me about what I should blog or not blog; we bloggers make all those decisions on our own (I have no idea if the law school knows that I blog or if they particularly care).  Sure, if I started posting daily Darden-bashing entries, they might stop linking to my blog off of their Admissions page...but the ocassional Darden-critical post certainly makes it through, with a direct link from   I can't speak for the other bloggers, but for me, my decision not to post some more critical things about Darden, certain people, life, etc. stems more from a personal desire not to air all of my own dirty laundry and to avoid preserving in perpetuity on the internet my fleeting displeasures with some experiences or individuals.  Everyone has bad days or makes mistakes; I don't feel the need to immortalize all of those - either mine or others' -  here.   I do periodically rant, and those of you who read my Cannes post will see that sometimes, I certainly do articulate my "beefs" with others.  I try to only do so when I am a.) attempting to keep my head from exploding or b.) after I've thought long and hard about it and think that someone else reading this blog may actually benefit in some teeny tiny way from my 100% honest perspective about some particularly unpleasant experience or encounter. 

Anyway....I think I started writing this post with a totally different idea of where it would go, but here's where it's ended up.  Just my random musings, I guess.  I might as well post it, since I've spent the time typing it, right?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rusticating, Part II

As I posted a few weeks ago, this has been a summer full of "rustic" activities: gardening, picking fresh local fruit, visiting the Charlottesville City Market, canning, etc.  Two weekends ago, I decided to try my hand at yet another activity that has me thinking that maybe I was actually raised on a farm and just don't remember: cheese making.  For whatever reason, I suddenly just had a burning desire to make cheese with my own two little hands.  Yes, I know, I am a freak of nature.  So, I did some digging around on the internet and found instructions/recipes for both ricotta cheese and mozzarella that seemed relatively straightforward.

I started with the ricotta cheese, which seemed fairly foolproof, even for a cheese-making novice like me.  Basically, you throw milk (which I buy in glass bottles, 1950's style, from a local dairy that supplies Charlottesville Krogers), vinegar and some yogurt into a pot and heat it until it curdles, then you dump the whole thing into a strainer lined with cheese cloth and about half an hour later, ta-da, you have ricotta cheese! 
Ricotta cheese starting to form curds (in my very poorly lit kitchen)

Ricotta cheese straining in cheesecloth-lined collander
Finished ricotta in a container!
Making ricotta was so easy that I felt motivated to try making mozzarella, which requires some slightly more exotic ingredients and a little bit more time and effort.   You need a good candy thermometer (or something else that reads temps under 100 degrees F well), twice as much milk, rennet, citric acid, and salt.  I have never in my life had to purchase rennet before, but fortunately Rebecca's Natural Foods in the Barracks Road Shopping Center carries rennet, citric acid, and cheesecloth.   There are varying "recipes" on the internet, but basically, you heat the milk to around 88 degrees, add the rennet (dissolved in some water), add the citric acid, heat to around 105 degrees, and then scoop out balls of cheese curds and squeeze the whey from them with your hands.  You then place the balls of cheese into the microwave (this is the faster way...if you are particularly industrious, you can dip them back into the whey until they soften) for a few seconds, remove them, squeeze out the whey, knead, and repeat until the mozzarella reaches the texture you want.  You add salt at the second kneading (I am kind of anti-salt, especially since I'm working for a company focused on hypertension and salt sensitivity this summer, but you can't make mozzarella without salt.  Seriously.).   I think I over-kneaded a bit....probably one too many rounds of kneading, because once I had refrigerated the cheese, it came out more like mozzarella that you could grate and put on a pizza than soft "fresh" mozzarella that you would turn into mozzarella caprese.  But that didn't stop me from making a nice caprese with some local tomatoes (only my cherry and grape tomatoes are ripe) and home-grown basil!

Essential ingredients - vegetable rennet and citric acid
Just getting started....

Some nice preliminary curdling action around 88-90 degrees F
The first ball o' cheese

Mozzarella balls, pre-microwaving and pre-kneading

Finished mozzarella balls, ready to go into the fridge

A nice fresh caprese salad platter!
After my cheesemaking, I decided to make some braided Italian herb bread (I like to pack a lot into one day, OK?), and then I packed up the whole lot to take over to Brianne's, where she was cooking up some very tasty pasta with veggies.  We enjoyed the food and then topped off the evening for a trip to Splendora's for gelato.  Tasty, local/homemade, Italian food - what more can a girl want?

That is a good-looking homemade bread if I say so myself
I took a few days off after The Great Cheesemaking of 2010, and then my parents came into town for the weekend.  On Saturday, we grabbed breakfast at Albemarle Baking Company, picked up sandwiches to go at Bellair Market, hit up three wineries (Barboursville, Prince Michel, and Sweely Estate), and topped off the day with dinner at The Bavarian Chef (totally worth the drive, but don't go on the hottest day of the year - their poor little A/C just couldn't keep up!).  Sunday, we did breakfast at a little place down the street from my apartment and then went peach-picking at Chiles Peach Orchard and blackberry-picking at Hill Top Berry Farm (they also have a winery/mead-ery) before the parents hit the road and left me to my own devices.  Naturally, once they left, the hot water canner came out again and I started canning up a storm.  In two evenings, I made peach salsa, peach pie filling, peach melba jam, blackberries in framboise, blackberry syrup, blackberry apple chutney, blackberries preserved in water (for use in baking recipes later in the year...blackberry cobbler in February?  Yes, please!), and maple walnut syrup (because I could...). 

Mmmmm....tasty canned goods!

This is what my coat closet looks like now...anyone need some canned goods?

And that, in a nutshell, is Rustication, Part II.