Monday, April 26, 2010

The General Lee method

Thinking back, I learned some valuable things in college applying to unexpected areas of my life. Here is one such example.

I took a Physics class from a really old professor. The only two things I remember from that class is the professor talking about his grandma and how to solve problems. The professor would always explain solving problems in terms of the Robert E. Lee method and the Ulysses S. Grant method. As you may recall, Robert E. Lee was a very crafty and efficient general who made due with the resources he had. General Grant, on the other hand, was successful in large part because of the advantage in more resources and men. Some physics students, apparently, adhered to the inefficient General Grant approach in solving physics problems.

In another class, computer science, I learned about the same concept under a different name: the brute force technique. The technique involves a non-elegant algorithm that exhaustively iterates over and over until a solution is found. The advantage to this technique is that it's an easy way to approach solving a problem. The downside is that the implementation of the brute force technique is inefficient, drains resources, and can be so much slower in solving the problem. Some students, were a little too eager to jump into tackling the problem without thoroughly planning ahead. And without mapping out the best approach, the code turned brute.

The same dichotomy exists with everything in life. Everything (e.g. school, work, fitness, friendships) can be done efficiently or non-efficiently. Over time and with practice, one can become more efficient at anything. If you have extra time, money, or resources to burn, maybe you can afford the brute force approach. But not me; I always need more time. My name is not Robert E. Lee, but I am becoming Mr. efficiency.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Job Search

My brother Weston was in my opinion my most interesting sibling growing up. He took the most risks, was the most passionate, the most adventuresome, the most interested in other people and the most curious. Growing up, Weston would do the jobs that no one else wanted to do. When someone lost something in our oftentimes cluttered house, Weston would surprise everyone by coming up with the lost item. He eventually earned the title of "Mr. Find-it." He also seemed to enjoy fixing things. Hence the other title of Mr. Fix-it. By praising Weston with such titles, I'll admit that we older siblings might have influenced him to do things in our favor more than we deserved. But Weston was the type of brother that probably wouldn't have even cared.

Weston was also never shy about anything. He would literally do anything, even if everyone else around him thought he was weird. When we were all pretty young, we would watch "Land Before Time" a lot. In the opening scenes of that movie, different sized bubbles flash across the screen. We developed a tradition whenever we'd watch this movie to exaggeratedly say, "Whoaaaa!" whenever the big bubbles would flash across the screen. The bigger the bubbles, the louder we would exclaim "Whoaaa!" This tradition is all fine and good in the house, but in the Scera movie theater it is a different story. As we were sitting in the theater, watching the introductory scenes, the bubbles start flashing across the screen. In a moment when the bubbles were truly huge (with the theater sized screen), Weston could not help himself and literally shouted "Whoaaaaa!" to a very-much silent room full of people. The rest of the audience did not seem to be as equally impressed with the size of the bubbles. Weston would do things without really caring about what others thought of him. If we were at a store and we wanted information about something, but were too shy or hesitant to ask, we would get Weston to do it because he never got embarrassed. After a while, I think he caught on to our tactics and was less willing to go along with our enticements. But after explicitly giving him the title of "the one who never gets embarrassed," it became an honor to live up to such a title for Weston.

When I turned 16, I wanted a job. Our family was poor and I wanted money. My brother Graden and I briefly tried a morning paper route. I enjoyed driving the car (as all 16 year-olds do), but the schedule of waking up so early was awful. I had no idea how to get a regular job. My dream job Target would never get back to me. Other nearby jobs also did not show me any interest. Then, my brother Weston surprised me big-time. He said that he saw one of those trailers on the side of State street with a big Carl's Jr. "Now Hiring" sign. My brother approached the general manager, who was inside the little building, and said that his older brother was looking for a job. (See? The dude truly never got embarrassed. He just did things without thinking twice.) The manager was most likely taken aback by this 11 year-old signing his brother up for an interview. However, after I talked on the phone with the manager and later interviewed with him, I got the job, which turned out to be really good for me.

Now, as I'm finishing up my 2nd year of law school, I'm already feeling anxiety about finding a job. I've had a lot of great jobs since Carl's Jr., and I'm pretty well-qualified in my opinion. You wouldn't think that I would be too concerned about securing good employment, but the economy has never been this bad in all my life. This past year, I have seen so many well-qualified friends and family struggle with finding a job.

Now my graduation date is still a ways away and I'm going to stay optimistic, but I kind of wish Weston was in Boston looking for a job for me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


It's time to get a little reminiscent. I've now had my blog for three and a half years. I'll have to admit that the main reason I started a blog was to make money. The relationship between traffic and money is pretty direct, especially when you are good at streamlining ads onto your site. But my blog evolved into a means for me to talk about myself, and I don't necessarily want everyone to know about me, even if that means that I must sacrifice making lots of money. Maybe I will generate lots of traffic with another blog (I have already started another blog and it has met relative success). This is not to say that I make no money on this blog. This past year alone, I have made $1.62 from the ads that you see on the right sidebar. Every time someone clicks on one of those ads, it generates smooth cash.

I have discovered some interesting statistics about my blog. The top three most popular posts involve me talking about 1) taking the LSAT, 2) a very buff woman I saw at the gym, and 3) three funny words. It's strange that these would be my most popular posts, but it also makes sense considering that over a quarter of my traffic comes from search engines.