Saturday, March 29, 2008

Law School Update

I just got accepted to Lewis and Clark Law School, a private law school in Portland.
For 2009, that is.
As far as 2008 goes, they're filled up, but I'm on the wait list.
Guess that's the problem with applying late.
Anyway, I'll keep the blog updated as other schools get back to me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Eifelheim-Highly Recommended

I just (two minutes ago) finished Michael Flynn's Eifelheim ('ei' is pronounced like the vowel in 'ice'). I highly recommend it.
It's not an easy read--it's written at an adult level, and, unless you understand German, Latin, Middle-age history, and physics, there are bound to be things that don't make sense. That's okay. I've decided a good book is a lot like a good president--smarter than me. Meanwhile, just by reading, I become smarter.
Eifelheim is German for "home of the elves". The main storyline occurs in the middle-ages (think plague time). But it's not fantasy.
And the elves aren't elves...they're aliens.
The story had a bit of an emotional impact on me (and books rarely do that, so for that reason alone I'll recommend it).
It also examines how the language of religion and the language of science interact. The aliens don't comprehend religion, and the people don't understand science (although one in particular tries). Remember, during this time period people still thought that the earth was the center of the universe. They explained just about everything with "God did it". That explanation explains nothing (although it may be true). Some people still use it today. Fortunately, however, we now (like these scientific aliens) know what causes disease and malnutrition.
Anyway, a great book. Go and read it. Meanwhile, I'll go back and read some more stuff by Michael Flynn, and hope that it's as good as this.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why kids in Finland are smarter

Compare and contrast education in Finland and the US.
US: Emphasis put on sports. Administration is made up mainly of used-to-be-coaches, and coaches are given special privileges (such as hiring priority, teaching the honors classes and better job security).
Finland: Sports are not a focus of the public schools.
US: Teachers are paid a fairly low amount of money.
Finland: Teachers are paid a fairly low amount of money.
US: There are plenty of history, English, and elementary education teachers, but there are shortages of special education, math, and science teachers.
Finland: Competition for all teaching positions is fierce. No problem with shortages.
US: Teachers are respected by some, but many students have no respect for them.
Finland: Teaching is seen as a noble profession, and many more students aspire to become teachers themselves.
US: Some parents instill love of reading into their children. Many parents don't see education as that important.
Finland: Almost all parents read to their children. Public libraries are everywhere (including inside of malls) and reading is a very popular past-time. Students know how important education is.
US: All children are put through the same classes from age 5 to age 18. Many drop out early.
Finland: Students don't start school until they're 7. At age 15 or 16, they attend either a vocational school or a university-prep school, depending on their skills or interests. Very few drop out (although they can do so legally at age 15 or 16).
US: Most students will do whatever they can to get out of schoolwork.
Finland: Students place high value on being intelligent and educated.
US: Teachers don't tend to be the smartest college graduates (according to test scores).
Finland: Teachers tend to be as smart as law school students or med school students, despite the pay (according to test scores).
US: Teachers can get a Master's degree if they want.
Finland: Teachers are expected (but not required) to get a Master's.
US: Discipline is the biggest issue for teachers. Disrespect, talking, cell phone use, etc. causes big problems.
Finland: Children are well-behaved in class (and they're interested in learning).
US: Let's face it. American kids don't compete well in language, math, science, etc.
Finland: Probably the best education system in the world, and the kids score highest or second highest on international tests.

It seems that the biggest issues are:
1. Teenagers are put into a program that makes sense for them (vocational or college-bound), and, more importantly:
2. Students have a respect for teachers and for education, which translates into less discipline problems, which means more people want to teach, which translates into smarter, better teachers (because of heavy competition).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Evidence against Empire

I posted recently about some reading I've done, including Orson Scott Card's Empire. Imagine my surprise when I read this article this morning.
Basically, the main idea of the article is this: each time a democrat becomes president after eight years of a republican president, some far-right people go crazy and start committing terrorist acts.
Interestingly enough, when the change is from democrat to republican, far-left people don't commit acts of terror.
Interesting correlation and some good evidence for what I thought was common sense: republicans fight with guns, democrats fight with words (but Orson Scott Card obviously disagrees).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Salt Lake for Easter

April and I are planning on coming to Salt Lake for Easter.
I get the Friday before off (although Thursday night I have to stay extra late at work for Parent-Teacher conferences, and since I'm in the middle of the big evolution unit in all five of my biology classes, that should be fun...)
So we'll drive down Friday morning.
The week after Easter, I have off.
Unfortunately, April works graveyards that week, starting Sunday night.
We're pretty sure she'll be able to get Sunday night off (she filled in for someone else this last Saturday night, and so he owes her a night's work). So we'll probably be able to stay in Salt Lake until Monday.
Our plans? Spend time with friends and family, celebrate Easter and my birthday, visit a law school or two (although my chances of being accepted to either Utah school are fairly low--they're both excellent schools that place a very high emphasis on the first undergraduate GPA, which is my weakness).
Speaking of law schools, I should be hearing back within two or three weeks from some of them.
My LSAT is fairly good, and it's been a while since I graduated from BYU, so that should help. I also have experience in medicine and education, and a strong second GPA (3.75 at UVSC, and that includes a bunch of difficult science classes). So hopefully I'll have a couple of decent options (I've applied to at least ten schools so far).
Anyway, we're hoping to meet up with some of you. Let us know if you'll be around, and we'll stop by to say hi.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Good reads

I haven't had a lot of time to read recently, but here's a list of what I have read:
Orson Scott Card: "Empire", "A War of Gifts", and a short fantasy story (that's supposedly being followed up by a new novel and maybe even a new series). The short story was very good (I'm excited to read more from this world), as was the short novel "A War of Gifts". "Empire" would've been good, except I never bought into a big part of the plot. I don't want to spoil the book for those planning to read it, so if you're planning to read it, skip the next paragraph.
Card basically sets up a war between extreme left-wingers and the US government. My problem...if liberals were to attack the US, it wouldn't be with guns, tanks, etc. Those are right-wing tools. So the whole scenario is screwy, with liberals guiding around amazing killing machines and killing every cop they can find. Sorry, but when liberals attack, it's with words, not with guns. And yes, the pen is mightier than the sword.
April and I have also been reading the Fablehaven books. They're fun. April loves them.
My favorite new books are by Cinda Williams Chima. I read her series out of order...I read "The Wizard Heir" before "The Warrior Heir". Not a big problem. The main characters are high-school kids, and "Wizard" reminded me early on of Harry Potter...except the school is evil and the kid's very tech-savvy. Highly recommended.
So go read the Ender's Game short novel, and definitely check out Cinda Williams Chima.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Besides being the name of a cool Jars of Clay song (I'm not into Christian rock unless it features Neal Morse of Spock's Beard, but I do like "Flood"), Flood is what happened to us a week ago, Saturday night.
I'd found a copy of the movie "The Forgotten" for $3 (I don't recommend it--it sounds kind of cool but it's not). We were watching it. April was keeping a load of laundry going.
And then we heard a knock on the door. We left the second bedroom (where we keep the TV) and found our living room and kitchen were flooded. The neighbors below us were at the door...water was leaking in through their lights. The hose behind the washing machine had come out, and water was everywhere.
This was 9:00 p.m. We spent the next four hours soaking up water with a machine from Albertson's. April's mom helped us out a bit, leaving at about 11:00. At 1:00 a.m. we were too tired to work, and we weren't getting much water out of the carpet anyway.
The landlord came and looked at the damage the next morning. We were up and working; I was trying to suck more water up from the carpet (it was coming, but slowly), and April was making sure things were dry. We decided to skip our 9:00 a.m. church to clean up, and we needed every bit of that time. The landlord rented a high-power fan from Home Depot, and I started drying out the carpet.
Meanwhile, all of our furniture in the living room, including a large desk, a bookshelf, and two heavy couches, needed to be moved. The couches are too big to move anywhere but to the kitchen (they don't maneuver easily into the other rooms).
Once the carpet was dry, I focused the fan on the pads below the carpet. Some of the wood underneath that was badly warped. This Saturday morning (almost a week after the flood), the landlord and I cut out the worst wood and replaced it. If all goes as planned, the carpet guy should be here Monday to put the carpet and the pads back down, and we'll be able to reclaim our living room.