Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 11, 2009 in NotFail

Every now and then it’s nice to know The Big Man Upstairs is keeping an eye out for you :)

I had to give some friends a ride to campus this morning (they go to a certain university in an adjacent town) so naturally I was significantly late for CivPro. Unlike Professor Contracts, the standing rule for late people in CivPro is that you don’t enter if the door is shut and/or MDG has started the lecture.

And as much as I love talking about venue, I wasn’t going to press my luck ;)

So I finally make it to campus, end up parking in a lot now thoroughly muddy courtesy of the ongoing wind/rain leftovers from Hurricane Ida, slowly trudge to the law building… and hear a sound over the wind.

It’s faint. But distinct.

I look up from under the umbrella, and think I can see 1 lone strobe light flashing.

The sound gets a little louder as I walk a little closer.

In disbelief, I pick up the pace and walk as fast as one can with a wind-tossed double canopy umbrella in one hand and a 5″ binder + 3 textbooks in the other. I get to the granite porch outside the entrance and can’t believe my good fortune.

The fire alarm is going off :D

For a couple brief seconds I feel bad for my classmates who had to evacuate the building in this miserable weather (mid-40s and pouring rain a mere day after we broke 70ºF), but then I realize folks will have to be walking back into class and I might have an opportunity to sneak into CivPro. I double time it to the classroom, and sure enough see a pair of my classmates walking in.

I head to the door. MDG sees me, and gives me a raised eyebrow like he doesn’t remember seeing me in class before but he isn’t 100% certain. I give him a look along the lines of “Of course I was here earlier, I love CivPro!”  I walk in, make it about a fifth of the way to my chair…

…and apparently the rest of my classmates noticed I wasn’t there when class started, because the whole room busts out laughing.  MDG lets me slide though since I’m in my chair before he can say anything, then he starts laughing too and goes “Well I guess we know who pulled the fire alarm.” And the rest of class went off without a hitch… though I still didn’t sign the attendance sheet, out of recognition I was 30 minutes late to a 50-minute class :beatup:

He did hit me with his trademark wit before class was out though, the price I paid for being late. My left-side neighbor Karl(a) raises her hand to answer a question, and in recognizing her he slips and goes “Mr. TDot. Miss TDot. I mean Miss Karl(a). I’m so so sorry, I done married y’all. And let me tell you, y’all would make some uuuuuuuuggggllllllyyyyy babies.”

The words can’t articulate how hilariously funny it was, both in terms of timing and delivery — even though it was a (well-deserved) swipe at me, I was laughing for a solid 2-3 minutes (as was Karl(a) and everyone else in class).  The man is hands-down, without any sarcasm in this statement, my favorite professor this semester.

And all because of a serendipitously-timed fire alarm :D

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The (imaginary) “Big Fish” vs “Small Fish” divide…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 10, 2009 in Randomness

Earlier this morning I was talking with a section-mate about yesterday’s entry on my IRS mess, and he brought up my loss in the 1L SBA Rep election to ask why I wasn’t bothered about it — especially given my deep-seated competitiveness streak.

There are a few reasons why I wasn’t surprised or upset:  above all I didn’t earn the victory (my opponents campaigned harder than I did); I think both of the winners are competent and will do a great job; and I have a habit of failing first-time campaigns, losing races at NC State both pre-dropout and post-return.1

But I’m also still at least a marginally well-sized “fish” in the law school aquarium (at least until April 30th :) ).

People seem to have an almost pathological habit of trying to sort and rank the folks around them.  It’s part of why we have law school rankings in the first place, even though they’re not exactly paragons of logical selection.

The problem is that creating a fictitious pecking order in law school ignores a fundamental reality of human life — everyone’s better at something than someone else.

Take the Gang of Eight as an example.  Without going through everyone in total detail, in our group we’ve got a former Student Body President, a member of the armed services, a musician, and a business owner.  Multiple people have multiple degrees apiece.  Several of them play several sports.  And as far as I know all of them had a higher college GPA than I did.

So who are the “big fish” in the group?  It depends.  If you need to lobby a politician, talk to DMoff for tips.  Write a love song?  Rockstar’s your guy.  Can’t fix your broken Microsoft Windows installation?  My CSC degree and I will be glad to help you (or you could just do us both a favor and buy a Mac ;)).

And remember we’re just 8 people out of a 1L class of nearly 200.  That’s not even getting into the academic über-achievers, and the different subjects where each of them will have their own respective strengths.

I consider myself fortunate that the North Carolina Central University School of Law doesn’t seem to have the “gunner” types you constantly hear about at places like LSD.  But even if we did, those types of folks inevitably lose out to everyone else because they have a fundamentally wrong zero-sum view of the world.  There are a *lot* of different skills and experiences that carry weight out in the “real world,” and no one will ever significantly outperform everyone else on more than a couple of them at most.

And if anyone significantly underperformed everyone else on those same metrics, odds are they’re not in law school.

So instead of stressing about my class rank or fuming over an election loss, I’d much rather support my classmates and enjoy being in the presence of people who do things better than I do.

Besides, I know I’m usually the first one they’ll call when their computers gets hit by the latest virus ;)  Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. In the post-return case, being the 4th place finisher in a 3-seat Student Senate race — losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign.  And who, ironically, had become one of my best friends and biggest supporters when I ran for Student Senate President the next year. []

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TDot’s Mailbag v2.0

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 7, 2009 in Mail

Before diving in, I just want to note I ran out of nails while finally building those bookshelves today. Nails.  Shiny 7/8″ nails.

I didn’t even know that was possible.  Nails are like the pennies of the carpentry business: they’re generally worthless individually, you inadvertently amass hundreds of them in a fairly short amount of time from totally different projects, and if you ever need one but can’t find any in the usual locations all you typically have to do is go poking around the house.  But there I was in the middle of shelf building, about to nail in a base board to a drawer, I reach for another nail, and… nothing.  I go to the toolbox, and… nothing.  I look around the apartment, in the kitchen, in the closet, in the storage unit, and… nothing.

My mind was blown as I had to go on a building hiatus to trek up the street to Lowe’s and buy a 1lb box of new ones.  Should be another few years before I run out again though :)


Anyhow, moving on:  for those of you who have been supporting this blog since the beginning, or new folks who happened to trudge through the archives, every now and then I take the questions I’ve gotten via email / Facebook message / text / etc and throw them into a blog entry — usually when I’m either lacking 1) time or 2) content to write something better ;)  I actually got 2 LSAT-related questions in the same day yesterday, so I’m combining it with 2 earlier questions for a second installment of TDot’s Mailbag:


Q: Ginger1 asks:

So did you, like, you know, have a bunch of study materials and stuff for the LSAT?  When did you start studying before taking it?

A: The only thing I had for preparation was the TestPrep book or whatever it’s called that you can get from LSAC. I ordered it when I ordered my LSAT admission ticket.

The book still sits unopened on my bookshelf though because I never actually studied for the LSAT.  The lack of studying wasn’t intentional, and I don’t recommend it — at all.  But in my case I had an academic backup plan in place (if I didn’t make it into any law schools I’d stay at N.C. State and start a Ph.D. in Economics), so the urge to prepare tended to evaporate if I was stressed about other stuff.  My plan was to take the test just to experience it, then re-take it this past June and start law school in Fall 2010.

For the folks I worked with at N.C. State who are going the law route, I’d give yourself at least a month or two to prepare — and the best preparation is taking an old test under the same type of rigid time constraints you’ll have during the test itself.  I’m fairly certain my score took a hit since I had to guess on the last half-dozen questions in the logic games section, all because I did a poor job managing my time.  You’ll want to get a feel for the time you’ll have to work with before going in to the test.  And make sure not to stress :)


Q: Michael, a fellow blawger, writes:

How well did you do on the LSAT?

A: Well enough to have options.  I don’t really tell folks my LSAT score because it was an unexpected blessing I owe more to good fortune than to preparation.  That and it’s a bit priggish — it’s kind of like winning the lottery and constantly going around telling your friends “oh, by the way, did I mention to you I won a million dollars yesterday?”

And coincidentally the LSAT has no bearing on the traits that make the best lawyers ;)


Q: Jennifer sent an email wanting a political update:

How did you do on your election for 1L SBA representative?

A: I’m 99.9% sure I lost.  None of the classmates I’ve asked have been able to find a listing of all the results, but at least one candidate wrote on her Facebook that she got elected so I’m assuming the SBA folks just emailed the winners.

I was lucky to meet some some cool people during campaigning though, so I’m more than satisfied :)


Q: We’ll close with one of the Legal Eagles of the North Carolina Central University School of Law, Robert, who happened to find the blog on his Facebook wall and asks:

You keep mentioning this Gang of Eight. How’d you come up with this group? And who’s in it?

A: I didn’t really come up with it intentionally, we all just happened to sit in the same vicinity and realized none of us were uptight gunner types.  There were only 7 of us that originally talked during classes, but given the varying political ideologies in the group I was determined to tie in a reference to this Gang of Eight, so we adopted Pimp Daddy.  Their company definitely helps me get through the day :)

Here are the nicknames and a little background for the group members (listed alphabetically):

  1. DMoff:  mountain man who loves baseball, was Student Body President at his alma mater, and the only person I knew well going in as a 1L with me at NCCU after working together in the UNC Association of Student Governments
  2. Karl(a):  I had a different nickname originally for this young lady, but in our very first discussion about something other than law the first thing she says to me is “I’m actually a big fan of Karl Marx”… I almost had a heart attack, but enjoyed the ensuing debate :)
  3. Monica:  Love & Basketball reference for the ball players out there; her personality reminds me of the main character
  4. MP:  profoundly unoriginal nickname choice on my part — a Military Policeman in one of the Armed Services; big sports fan and graduate of UNC Wilmington (but loves UNC Chapel Hill athletics)
  5. Pimp Daddy:  fairly quiet guy, business-like and definitely “old school” (e.g. takes all his notes by hand); picked that particular name because he looks similar to an actual pimp I met once when I worked for the Wake County court system
  6. Rico:  reference to the 1991 hit song Rico Suave; a very chill guy who several of my classmates are secretly swooning over
  7. Rockstar:  an independent musician (cool) who knows an insane amount of stuff about various topics like sports (also cool)… but is a graduate and admirer of UNC Chapel Hill (fail)
  8. TDot:  yours truly of course :D


That’s everything I’ve got for tonight.  Have a great evening folks! :D

  1. Remember these are all pseudonyms, picked at random from a website that lists common American names.  Don’t be shy about writing in! :) []

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