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.  :-)

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