Author Archive: Miriam Rice

Number One Desert Island Book Of All Time: High Fidelity

Nick Hornby was a middle aged British guy before I entered college. Yet somehow when I read the book High Fidelity in 1997 long before I ever had anything like a real girlfriend it seemed to predict my worries and concerns around subjects that were important to me. At the time of course there was only two subjects that were actually important to me at all, girls and music. (Maybe three if you count drugs.)

The book is about a lead character stifled by his rampant opinionizing and his inability to get over his own hang-ups and give himself over to his own pursuits, be those pursuits artistic or in matters of the heart. Somehow, and it begs the chicken or the egg thing, the book laid out clearly to me what my problems might one day be when I had the opportunity to date and fuck people. And somehow it all turned out the exact same way.

High Fidelity is my favorite book ever. At once relatable, easy to read, funny and touching. I would recommend it to anyone but I am obviously biased.

Read more: To Kill A Mockingbird Study Guide

Work environment

Sarting any new employment is challenging. You must decide on the best way to get to work, and which mode of transportation is best. The work environment is new. You are adjusting to new people and new surroundings. And you are dealing with the many uncertainties of achieving stable employment and a steady income. This week we will address something to make any new employment easier and more enjoyable – assuring that you have sufficient resources to do the work.

“Ask and You Shall Receive”

The Lord said this in John 16:24. There is a parallel, but in the new work environment, you may only be in this unique position for a few days or weeks. Your boss, and even his superiors understand there is an adjustment period. Often, its actually very easy for them to think back and put themselves in your position. But you have to ask. So think carefully, what have you been asked to do? Reasonably and practically, what resources do you need to do the work, with high quality and efficiency? Ask now, after a few days or weeks you may not have the favor you do now; in fact later, your boss may even ask, “Why didn’t you tell me you needed… sooner, when you first started?”

Physical Resources

For example, maybe you need a better chair at your desk; the present one just is not comfortable. You are used to a split computer keyboard (one with “QWERTY” on one side and “YUIOP” on the other). You also could use a couple portable USB flash drives for bringing important electronic documents to meetings. There is only one chair in your office for clients and other visitors; you really should have two or three. And a whiteboard would be very helpful as you explain a new theory or process to clients.

Obviously, the list of possible examples could be long. But ask early, not after weeks of struggling without such resources. Additionally, show some discretion. Do not make a physical list, except for your reference. Unless your boss asks to give him or her a list, usually the items should be communicated verbally, just a few at a time. Do not be demanding; rather, say something like, “You know, I really could use a whiteboard and some markers in my office.” If the items have been given some thought, usually you will not even have to explain why you need them.

Human Resources

Do you need an administrative assistant or secretary? Is one even mentioned in your “work description”? If the answer to one or both of these is “yes,” inquire politely but immediately, “When will I be assigned my administrative assistant?” Give your boss some time. He or she, and the company, may be in a period of adjustment also. This may be especially true if you are filling a new position. Look over and study the organizational chart. Who do you report to? Who do they report to? Who is under your area of responsibility? You need to know these answers immediately and definitively. Also, if you report to more than one person, you are being put in a very difficult position.

At the appropriate time and place, try to get this changed. Everyone should have only one superior; otherwise, you will always be deciding which one’s work should be given priority – a very untenable and awkward situation.

The Job Description

Do you have a work description? If not, and you are working for an established company, especially a large established company, ask; there probably is one somewhere. Or, do not hesitate to ask if you can create one. Your boss, and his or her superior, will most likely welcome your help and appreciate your initiative in asking. However, be sure you already have some expertise in this area and have significant confidence in the work you will be performing. Unless you have had an extensive period of internship or “on-the- job training” this may not be the case, especially if this is your first employment out of college.

Thank you for reading!

Babylon A.D.

Movie Review

Mathieu Kassovitz adapting Maurice G. Dantec. It was a dream combination: a sulfurous filmmaker for a sulfurous author. A dream for those of us who read “Babylon Babies”, and a dream for Kassovitz, who’s been working on the project for many years, A dream Kassovitz wanted to create out of Hollywood, after the difficult experience that was Gothika. A dream he envisioned for European cinema. But it was too big a dream.

In a not so distant future, Hugo Toorop, a mercenary more or less hiding in Eastern Europe, accepts a job offered by a Russian mobster, to smuggle a girl to New York City. It’s a high-risk task and a long journey (by road and by sea), while the intriguing girl interests a lot of people along the way. But what makes her so precious is a mystery Toorop fears to discover.

“Babylon Babies” is a 600-page, futuristic punk ride greatly influenced by the actuality of its time, the late nineties, a dense, intense, complex geopolitical adventure and a visionary portrait of the future at the same time. The kind of book you can’t let go easily. But adapting it to the big screen was probably an ill move.  Kassovitz’s dream would have necessitated more freedom from his financiers, more money than his $60 million budget, more work on the script, more length, and a different actor. And that’s a lot, folks.

Back when I read “Babylon Babies” (which was some time before Kassovitz became attached to a film transposition) I remember imagining Toorop with the face of Vincent Cassel, a strong, mysterious, cynical warrior not quite at ease in a corrupt world that is falling to pieces. When Kassovitz announced his desire to put the book on the silver screen, everyone expected him to cast Cassel, his fetish actor, in the lead. It seemed natural, and for a long time the actor was rumoured to have been cast. But Kassovitz preferred to cast an international action star (probably advised by his foreign financiers, including 20th Century Fox), Vin Diesel, a choice symptomatic of Babylon A.D.’s defects.

The film should have been a dense, dark, complex, epic and trippy two-and-a-half hour adventure. What it was instead was just a quick sci-fi road movie lacking boldness, character development and ambition. This wasn’t Kassovitz’s dream,  as it so clearly feels like the film has been truncated in the editing room to conform to a more standard “Vin Diesel action movie” (like xXx, for example). An actor who, as efficient as he can be as a big guy you don’t want to mess with, is an evident casting mistake, as his Toorop is more like a killing machine with a nice side, a reductive and unengaging approach of the character.

Kassovitz had already adapted a cult novel in the past, Crimson Rivers, who already showed his uneasiness with capturing the essence of the novel, but at least showed what a great director he was, after his remarkable work in the nineties with Cafe au Lait, La Haine and Assassin(s). Babylon A.D. is a failure, which indicates that for the past few years the French filmmaker seems a bit lost. Let’s hope his future (a return to French-speaking films with the political action film L’Ordre et la Morale) will see him get back on track.

2 / 5 stars

Top LSAT Tips Part 3

On Test Day

Prepare your zip lock bag at least a day in advance

Let’s face it, this isn’t a weekend trip to New York. You’ve been studying for months (hopefully at least weeks) and the last thing you want to happen is you realized you left your eraser or extra pencils at home. That way, take advantage of what LSAC allows you to bring into the room and be prepared.

You’re allowed up a 1-gallon or 3.79 liter zip lock bag. Find one of these at your local grocery store and make sure you pack your:

  • LSAT admission ticket
  • Valid government issued ID
  • 4 sharpened wooden #2 pencils
  • Analog (non-digital) watch
  • Highlighter
  • Eraser
  • Tissue
  • < 20 ounce beverage
  • Snack

Eat a light breakfast

In order for you to get to your local test center on-time, sit through the standard administration protocol, and taking the actual LSAT, LSAT test day could take up well beyond 7-hours. That’s why it is absolutely imperative that you have a nice energetic and light breakfast. Skip the bacon and sausage and go for some cereal, fruit, or oatmeal to provide you the solid energy and focus to get you through test day.

Bring a snack

You arrive at the test center, you sit through the standard ID checks and administration, and after the first three 35-minute sections you’re on break. During this time, take a stroll outside (as far as the administrators let you go) and grab a snack to power you through the last two sections and the writing sample.

When I took the test, I recommend bringing something easy to carry like a granola bar or yogurt with a plastic spoon.

Note: Officially, in addition to ll of your testing materials, you’re allowed to place your snacks and beverages in the 3.79 liter zip lock bag.

  • Beverages: Up to 20 ounces in a plastic container or juice box

During The Test

Fill out every bubble

Every right answer counts, but every wrong answer doesn’t take away from your score either. The LSAT does not punish wrong answers and therefore if you’re ever short on time or have a 6-7 questions left with just a few minutes, spend your last few seconds filling out the remaining bubbles.

Now I know a ot of you, me included, have some tendency to try and rationalize guessing. Whether it’s filling out all Bs and Cs or just filling out the least amount of bubbles. The point is, it doesn’t matter. It’s all statistics and everything you would like to think about the best way to guess it doesn’t matter.

Instead, decide on a method ahead of time on how you want to guess, if you want to fill out all As, then do it, Bs, then do it. Want to do a pattern? Sure, go for it. But whatever method you decide, pick one ahead of time, practice it during your preptests and just do it. The last thing you want to do is waste valuable seconds during the LSAT on how you want to guess. It’s just silly.

Don’t talk about the test with others during break

Not because you shouldn’t discuss games or talk about answers, but most people that take the LSAT have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Most of the people you will talk to during break will either be completely confused about the past logic game or stressed that they didn’t finish the last logical reasoning section.

Since you will be prepared and in tip-top shape, there’s no need for sharing in the anxiety of others nor getting yourself worried. Relax during the break and make sure you’re fresh for the final stretch run.

After the test

You’re finished! Relax! After all your careful preparation, take some time off and don’t even think about the LSAT. Begin preparing your law school applications if you like, but it’s time to relax and FORGET about the LSAT.

DO NOT obsess overwhen your LSAT score will come out or refresh your LSAC profile page 5 times an hour to see if the score will miraculously appear a week earlier. It won’t happen.

Top LSAT Tips Part 2

Knowing why answers are wrong is as important as knowing why they are right

It goes without saying that after each practice tests you take that you should review all of the questions and answers in-depth. However, it’s just as important for you to figure out why the answer choices are wrong as much as they are right. As you review each wrong question type, you will begin to notice patterns, traps, and common characteristics of wrong answers.

With enough practice, you will develop an eye for quickly identifying wrong answers. This skill help tremendously and not to mention improve the probability of gaining points from questions you have to guess on.

Learn from your mistakes

Initially, any studying will likely boost your baseline LSAT score by 5-points. However, to truly move beyond this initial LSAT plateau, you will need to break down the test by section and question types in order to capitalize on your strengths and to work on your weaknesses.

To do this, study up on the different logical reasoning question types, take a logical approach to reading comprehension, and prioritize logic game types based on ease or with what you’re most comfortable with.

After each test, review how you did on each logical reasoning question type, reading comprehension question type (very similar to logical reasoning), and logic game type. From here, refer to your trusty question book and continue working on your strengths to maximize your points from what you’re already good at. But also, to realize where the most gains can be made by improving upon your weaknesses.

Simulate testing conditions

With most of us, we like to lock ourselves away for 4 hours at a time to take our preptests or find a nice remote area in the library stacks to work on our LSATs. However, as much as you’d like to practice in solitude, the official LSAT is not offered solitude. On test day, you will hear construction outside, the air conditioning turning on and off, a room full of 15-100 LSAT takers flipping through pages, and a number of possible distractions that come up on test day.

Instead, studying for the LSAT not only includes studying the for the test itself, but also for you to mentally prepare yourself for the center and also how well you can tune out everything around you.

Therefore, to prepare and be ready for test day conditions:

  • Take preptests in places where there are people and an reasonably expected amount of noise. Maybe a smaller Starbucks or Borders store.
  • If your LSAT test center is near you, go take a tour of the building and classrooms that the test will be held. Without trespassing of course.

Top LSAT Tips Part 1

Throughout the course of your LSAT preparation, you’re going to find numerous tips, approaches, and strategies to the LSAT. Whether it’s the order to approach the questions, method in attacking reading comprehension, or use of formal logic in games, the following are the top tips that have proved their value over time.

While Studying

Take a diagnostic exam

Before you start your LSAT preparation, take a diagnostic exam cold (don’t study for it). This exam will serve as your benchmark in identifying your weaknesses, your strengths, and act as your point of reference to track your progress. LSAC offers a free LSAT with the answers for you to self-proctor your own exam. Another way to receive a free proctored exam is to contact a local test prep office near you.

While taking practice tests, do 5 sections

As only 4 sections (2x logical reasoning, 1x reading comprehension, and 1x logic games) actually factor into your LSAT score (the writing sample and a random experimental section is not scored), people often fall into the trap of only taking 4-section practice tests while studying. While you will deduce a score, this will only provide you a minor glimpse at the endurance required on test day.

Instead, grab a random section from an older LSATs and mix it in with your preptest. Also, to really build your test-day endurance, complete the writing sample at the end of the test as well.

Take as many prep tests as you can

There are now over 50 prep tests available. While LSAT prep books and LSAT prep courses are terrific at aiding you to hone in on certain test sections or questions, the best way to actually prepare for the LSAT is to take as many timed LSATs as possible. This way, you continually work on your pacing, timing, and simulate test day conditions as much as possible.

Warning: While another one of our tips is to take the LSAT once, there are instances where illness or a horrific test center experience may lead you to cancel your score. In these situations, it will be great to keep 10-15 available LSATs that you haven’t taken before to prepare again for the next LSAT.

Time yourself            

Although earlier in your test day preparation, it’s perfectly fine to take a few tests or complete a few test sections untimed in order for you to familiarize yourself with the test. However, as you’re within 1-2 months of your test date, it’s imperative that you take timed tests. Guessing on 7-8 LSAT questions because you ran out of time could be the difference between a 168 and a 161 LSAT score.