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Archive for June, 2012

How to Read a Book Faster: It’s Really a Negotiable Instrument

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

In a streamlined effort to avoid memorizing the 8 parts of required elements of a negotiable instrument, one of my friends emailed me and asked me a really good question – after he’d been trying to finish a book he started a few months ago, which is this: how do you read a book faster, and how do you finish it?  That’s an interesting pair of questions.  Here are my thoughts, and a few thoughts thrown in from my friends along the way too:

1.  Buy a book with disappearing ink – just kidding.  Sort of.  But they make books like that now.  Cool. I like the idea that a story may be ephemeral, instead of memorialized.

2.  Go to law school – just kidding. Sort of.  Nothing makes one become a world-class skimmer when reading fast than law school itself.  I’m killing myself now though, because with the bar exam coming up – I’ve GOT TO SLOW DOWN my reading instead of speed it up as I have for the past 4 years.

3.  Start with the TOC – Where is the law written that one has to read a book from cover to cover, front to back, anyway?  Sometimes, when I’m looking at a book that’s 300+ pages, I start at the TOC and look for titles and sections that really get me excited to read.  Usually, for me, that’s anything that begins with, “The Future of…” whatever subject the book is discussing.  Being the futuristic focused nut that I am, I usually go straight to that chapter and check it out first.  If it’s really really good, I keep reading.  If not?  I stop wasting my time.  Bouncing through a book, I’m here to tell you–is OKAY!

4.  Sip a few books at a time – this is one of my craziest tricks of all – I tend to check books out of the library in wads of 4-5 or more, and I tend to read a little bit of each of them at or near or around the same time. It’s like a mix tape, with books.  (And seriously – if you have no idea what a mix tape is, I weep for you.)  It mashes up the concepts a bit, but one of the key skills and most value brain possessions I’ve found in my life is the ability to mash up concepts that at first don’t seem connected at all.  If you can take disparate ideas, things, concepts or totally random stuff and see how it fits together, you’ve got an amazing skill that smart people highly covet.  By reading books this way, I try and polish this skill.  It’s THAT important – at least to me.  And that’s a skill that you don’t typically get in the classroom.

5.  Give it a few pages, and if it doesn’t hold you, chuck it – One of my friends only reads the first 75-100 pages of a book, then quits.  As a writer, I think that’s a total nightmare, because some of my best stuff and what I learned while writing the book I tend to put at the back of the book.  BUT, as a reader–I see her point.  If the book hasn’t made it’s big point by the first 100 pages, is it worth continuing on?  As a reader, maybe not.  As a writer, maybe so.  But again, there’s no law that says, “Thou Shalt Read a Book Cover to Cover or Burn in Purgatory.”

In this time restricted/crunched world we live in – who has time to sit around and read War & Peace anyway?  This gal doesn’t.  And I LOVE books, probably more than 98% of my friends and family!  But even I have my limits.  So, in conclusion (that is, if you’re still reading this post) – the world really doesn’t care HOW you read – we just care that you TRY.  That you SIP.  That you THINK.  That you ATTEMPT.  That you BOUNCE. Reading–just like everything else in life–is not one size fits all.

Now, my 8/9 required parts of a negotiable instrument:

Signed writing
Unconditional
Promise to pay
Fixed amount
Money – as in for money
Definite time
2 – “to order” or “to bearer”
Promises – other than the above aren’t included.

Yay!

Imagine

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

After watching 2.5 hours of lecture on federal income tax law after work, I just couldn’t bring myself to pound MBE sample multiple choice question practice tonight for the bar.  Instead, I thought I’d jot down some of my mixed feelings of the day.  (And no, I haven’t forgotten my rant about fixing law schools – that one is still coming, trust me.)

Back to the day.  First, SCOTUS put out a pretty surprising holding today on health care reform.  The best word I can find to describe how my friends and network feel about it is: polarizing.  On one hand, I’ve got the hard working people in my tribe who need affordable, accessible healthcare shouting from the rooftops that SCOTUS did the best thing ever today for American humanity.  Great.

But on the other hand, I’ve got my even harder* working entrepreneurs and business owners who are trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for insuring their employees when their rates went up 20% this year, and the gurus are saying to expect another 20% hike next year.  Some are saying that it’s going to be cheaper for them to pay the $2K penalty and just let their employees figure out how to get coverage on their own.  For the owners, they hate it, but they’ll probably end up doing that because they simply can’t afford to cover their employees at 20% increases each year. (*Yes, I argue they work harder in my opinion – because starting a business is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  This is just my personal opinion.)

I say–we need to back up and really think hard about what it is that we value in this country.  Should healthcare be a fundamental right?  If so, what are the limits of that right?  As I’ve said before, some countries build a right to basic health care into their constitutions (for example, China).  But, if we love our freedoms in this country – shouldn’t we be at least a little disturbed that our federal (allegedly limited) government is now forcing us to contract and buy something?  As Scalia says – we could be forced to buy broccoli next!  I’m not sure our founding fathers and mothers would have imagined this for us…but it’s not quite the same effect of throwing health care policies into the Boston Harbor as much as tea.

Last but not least, and speaking of imagination, as I cram for the bar, I’ve been trying to read something a little lighter before I go to bed each night.  Right now, I’m reading Imagine.  While I used to work in neuroscience, I still dig it – as it’s in a lot of ways one of the final frontiers when it comes to medicine.  We don’t yet fully understand how the brain works, and in Lehrer’s book, he looks at the creative process from a neuroscience light approach.  For example, if you want to be more creative – let your mind wander, sit or work in a blue room, and go for walks in nature.  Stuff you probably already know, but fun to be reminded of yet again.

In conclusion, I think Congress, SCOTUS, and even our President should think about working in a blue room. Go for walks. Really think about what they’ve done and what they’ve asked of their citizens.  Is this what we really want for our country?  I don’t know.

But I’m pretty certain we could imagine something better.

Declaring Today: Be Nice to a Bar-Taker Day

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

OK, time for a little rant before 3 hours of a negotiable instruments bar review video.  (And no, those instruments aren’t the musical kind.)  Those of you who don’t have any lawyers or law students in your life: kindly look away.  Because, for the rest of us, I’m about to go off.

First, the news isn’t good for those who go through the hell of the bar exam.  On the other side aren’t exactly rainbows and kittens right now.  Just out today via Forbes: Why Law School is the Worst Decision You’ll Ever Make.  This is not exactly feel-good reading for those of us killing ourselves to learn everything we need to know and about to sit for the July bar exam for the first (and hopefully only) time.

There aren’t many jobs out there for bright young hardworking and budding attorneys who pass.  It’s not looking good.  While that doesn’t necessarily apply for all of us bar takers, it does for my bright young hardworking and budding professional friends who chose law school to be lawyers and practicing attorneys.  I feel for them.

Second, for those of us who chose to go to law school to advocate for our first professions and who already have professional day jobs in those arenas WHILE studying for the bar–your friends, family and co-workers don’t get it.  They never will, either.  They won’t get it unless they’ve been through it.  You’re still going to have to work.  People are still going to think you have a life and can go out and do whatever you want whenever you want.  Life doesn’t stop just because you have a bar exam coming up.

Little do they know that law school doesn’t teach you half of what you need to know for the bar, so you’re trying to drink from a fire hose 8 weeks before just to try and prove “minimal competency” in areas you NEVER took in law school before when those 2-fateful days near the end of July arrive.  It’s like learning Greek, Russian, Plutonian, Venusian, and English…while landing from a different solar system, oh, and deaf and mute* at the same time–just in time for a Toastmasters National Championship.

Yes.  It’s that bad, that complicated, and that voluminous.

And, yes, I chose my fate.  My younger friends looking to become attorneys did as well, despite this flaky economy.  And while I chose this path–to take the bar exam, I would respectfully request from the universe that everyone who has a law student around them right now please do the following when approaching a bar candidate:

1. Give them space.
2. Be patient.  They can’t worry about next year yet.  They’re worried about surviving today.
3. Encourage them, but don’t automatically say “you’ll pass.” That actually just ratchets up the pressure.
4. Do NOT expect them to have answers to everything right now.  They don’t.  They need to figure it out. On their own.
5. Above all – be NICE to them.

We are exhausted.  We are freaked out.  We are cramming.  We are bar exam takers in July.  CAUTION: federal law should prohibit messing with the bar-exam taking students until July 26th or thereafter.  Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t helped us out with that one yet.

Oh, and I’m declaring today–and every day until July 24th–to be “Be Nice To a Bar-Taker Day.”

Thanks for putting up with the rant.

(*I personally have nothing against deaf mutes from any solar system.  I was just trying to find an allegory to fit the gravity of the current situation I’m trying to describe.  My apologies if I offended anyone from any solar system.  Besides, what’s a post from a law student without a good solid disclaimer?)

5 More Resources for the Part-Time Entrepreneur

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I know, I know – I owe you a post on what law school can learn from pharmacy school – no worries – that one is coming next week!

In the meantime, this post over at the other site is worth an e-pete (get it? Repeat, e-pete? I know.  I won’t leave my day jobs for a career in comedy.)

Anyway, enjoy this post on 5 more resources for part-time entrepreneurs, thanks to the ladies in the post for the inspiration–Felicia Joy, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, Kim Page Gluckie and Tai Goodwin–and happy Sunday!

What Pharmacy School Can Learn From Law School, and Vice Versa – Part I

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

So, I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed at the moment.  Just finished watching the first part of trial practice review for the bar exam, and there’s like 85 trial practice rules that I have to a. read and b. speak semi-cogently to on the bar exam, in Indiana, should I receive an essay addressing the wonderful world of civil procedure – SMJ. PJ. Venue.

Oh. My.

(And by the way, if you don’t know what those 3 aforementioned terms mean – consider yourself lucky.)

Anyway, I thought I’d take a pit stop and get something that’s been on my mind for awhile now – freshly coming off the law school treadmill by night for the past 4 years, and teaching in the pharmacy world by day for the past 6.  Here’s what I think:  the law professors should get together and go bowling with the pharmacy professors.  Why?  Because each program can learn from the other.

Here, I’m going to break this blog into 2 posts: 1. What pharmacy schools can learn from law schools – Part I, and 2.  What law schools can learn from pharmacy schools – Part II.  Part II will obviously come after part I.  Thus, today I’m going to focus on what pharmacy schools could do better, based upon my law school experience.  Ready?

What Pharmacy Schools Can Learn From Law Schools:

1.  More writing in the curriculum – pharmacy school never taught me how to write.  Nor did grad school for that matter.  However, when I hit the doors at law school, I was EXPECTED to know how to write.  While I still hack my way through each and every piece I craft, sometimes more carefully than others, I’ve learned how to write via the school of hard knocks.  And, probably more than anyone, Mrs. Drapek in 11th grade English.

Pharmacy school doesn’t focus on writing.  It should.  EVERY profession, including and especially those in the healthcare space right now, MUST have professionals within it that are master communicators.  Without those who can write their way through change and drive forward, professions get left behind.  (For example, had the buggy whip manufacturers hired Mark Twain to craft stories of their products, would they still be around?)

I think a wise pharmacy school would start some type of journal, like the law schools started law review.  It attracts the best and brightest (OK, full disclosure – I was on law review, but I wasn’t the best student academically), and it adds prestige to a resume or CV having been “published” before departing from school.  The students run the editing and publication–but professors and students alike contribute original content to it.

2.  More speaking/communication in the curriculum – While the Socratic method is somewhat antiquated and over-leveraged in the law school setting, I think the pharmacy students could DEFINITELY benefit from more speaking throughout the curriculum as well.  Public speaking was a required course when I went to college – and yes, some people feared it more than any other class, in any major on campus.  Public speaking has never been my favorite or best thing personally, but I try not to move away from it.  It takes practice, just like everything else.

Of all the things I was forced to think about in law school, it was how to more effectively orally communicate my arguments.  I think pharmacists are really just teachers – and they speak and educate many audiences–doctors, patients, other health care providers, payers, and many, many others.  But, if they can’t put their thoughts together and cut to the chase in this time crushed world, how will they be successful?  I argue they won’t.  Hence, we need to focus more on oral communication in pharmacy school.

3.  More “figure it out on your own” thinking – One massive component to my own law school training was thinking on my own.  My favorite learning opportunity in law school wasn’t a class – it was the Program on Law and State Government fellowship.  Why?  Because for me, I could do independent study.  I could go off on my own and learn things that I actually cared about.

Pharmacy school really wasn’t like that.  There’s so much pharmacology, drug information, and other things (like law) that pharmacists have to pound into their brains, they really don’t have a lot of time to be creative and host some independent self-directed learning in school.  I’m here to say that I think we should MAKE more room for that.  Why?  Because bosses need creative, independent thinkers in ALL professions – including health care.  Yes, we have a lot of rules, protocols and plans to follow – but the leaders in any profession MAKE a lot of those rules, protocols and plans.  Would you rather make the rules, or merely follow them?

That’s enough for now.  Part II will be the other way around – and trust me, I’ve got a LOT of ideas about the other way around, but I’ll try and limit my post.  That’s coming soon.  Standby…

Let’s Hear It For the Night Owls

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “morning people.” Oh, and how it ties to being “successful.” You know the type – up at 5, runs for an hour, reads every newspaper on the planet while consuming their freshly made wheatgrass shakes before heading to the office.  One of my brands even is now suddenly on some kind of crazy “GOOD MORNING!” coffee clutch on twitter.

The only thing I have to say to that?

Ugh.

I had the pleasure of meeting Laura Vanderkam this week at a conference here in Indy – and she has a new eBook out about what the most successful do in the morning.  I got her new book on money and happiness too, so I’ll probably hit that one after the bar exam first before her AM rock stars book.  But what I want to know is – where are the props for the night owls?

I am a night owl.  I’ve never, ever, in my entire life been a morning person.  Ever.  I fought my way through zero hour in high school (which started at 6:40 AM).  I dragged my butt to pharmacy school every morning at 8 am for class (while, of course, every other major started no earlier than 9:00).  A lot of jobs I’ve had in the past required me to be in Chicago by 8 or 9 am, and I wanted to sleep in my own bed, so I was up at 4.  I’ve fought it my entire life.  And until I started drinking coffee in my early 30s, morning was never, ever one of my favorite times of day.  It quite frankly still isn’t.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it may never be.

So my quiet, humble little plea is: let’s give a few props to the night owls.  Though I may not be a wheatgrass-yoga-Pilates-gunner at 5 am, I think I’ve got my own little brand of success over here.  And despite the fact that I don’t use exclamation points before 8 am: I am here to declare that I think we night owls still have a shot at success too.  Besides, we’re getting more sleep anyway.  And there’s no better cure to pretty much anything except a little more sleep in this attention-deficit world we live in.

My coffee is starting to kick in.

Note that I still have not used an exclamation point in first person.

Hoo Hoo.

2 Exciting Updates, From One Hack Writer

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Two big things happening on this Mondaze:

1.  Our scholarship winner to Midwest Invent Your Future has been notified, and all other nominees have been notified as well.  You can read about it over at the other blog.

2.  I’m watching (OK, excitedly) the Seth Godin kickstarter Icarus Project Book unfolding today.  It’s rad.  It may just change the way I publish books too.

Maybe this Monday isn’t so Mondaze or Mondane after all!

Fire v. iPad – for eReading

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

I’ve been having this conversation a LOT lately – not as a writer (the publishing side of books is a distinct and hot mess of its own right now, and that I could fill a book up with rather than a mere blog post) but more as a reader: which is “better”: a Kindle Fire, or an iPad, for reading books?

These are my opinions and mine alone.  Of course, researching for this post, I found this over at amazon, and this at a third party source, but when it comes to looking at the objects themselves, the third party vendor is right: it’s hard to compare an apple to an orange (literally, and figuratively speaking here).  BUT – for the sake of argument, I’ll throw down my thoughts on using both devices for READING and READING ALONE.  Here goes.

Amazon Kindle Fire:  well, the fire is smaller than the iPad.  It allegedly fits in one’s hand (although, after a 400 page book I read on it, my hand was cramped.) While it might fit nicely into a man’s hand, uhm, Mr. Bezos, you’d probably want to have a women’s size kindle fire that is a tad smaller so it actually fits in one hand without major cramping going on.  I also checked some books out of my library on the fire – and it was difficult to see when they were actually “there.”  That is, downloading was a little clunky.  I eventually figured it out – and while I’m no rocket scientist, I found the downloads a bit challenging.

Fire is color – if that helps.  There’s also some web access and other features on it – but I won’t get into those right now – I’m sticking to the book thing.

iPad – has a bigger screen than the kindle fire, obviously.  I use the amazon kindle app for iPad to obtain my books.  While I have NOT yet checked out books at the library from the iPad, I did read a couple of books now on it.  The fit of it obviously doesn’t fit in one hand either, but I found it a little easier to handle than the failed attempt at holding the kindle in one hand (i.e., less cramping.)  Also, I noticed that it sucked the juice out of my iPad pretty fast, but considering at the time I was reading a 400 page book pretty much straight through, I guess I should have expected that.

I did feel a little eye strain after reading on the iPad as well.  I didn’t experience eye strain with the Kindle Fire.

In conclusion, you would guess correctly that I still like good old fashioned books.  I like to know where I am in the book, and touch and feel the pages going through my hands.  I find reading on an eReader that it’s a different experience, and actually, researchers have noted that we retain what we read differently between an eReader vs. a book-book.  (If you want to know something more solidly?  Read it in a book-book.)  BUT–I also realized pretty quickly when I wanted to read the 2nd book in the Hunger Games and couldn’t find it in hardcopy at the airport, that downloading it instantly on an eReader has its advantages.

Tomato, tomahto.  Apple, orange.  But now that eBooks are outselling book-books, it’s time to get serious about eReaders too.

Invent Your Future Midwest 6/19/12 – Scholarship Details

Friday, June 15th, 2012

You all know I’m cramming for the bar.  That means I don’t get out of my cage much this summer.  But there’s ONE event that they ARE unleashing me for – Invent Your Future Midwest 2012 on 6/19/12 in Indy!

In fact, I’m so excited about it, a good friend of mine, Dr. Voci and I, are teaming up to create a scholarship to attend this event! If you’d like to apply, details are below and the video below explains a little more about the event.

Below is information on the 2012 Midwest Invent Your Future Scholarship – registration will be covered courtesy of Yuspie.com and Dr. Elaine Voci! IYFMidwest is on 6/19/12 in Indianapolis – agenda is here. Registration is here. Video below explains some of the rules of the scholarship program.  Email your application info to us at yuspie at gmail dot com by Sunday, June 17th at midnight.

This scholarship is non-transferrable, not reimbursable, and has no monetary value to the winner.  We would ask that scholarship candidates be willing to attend the entire event, and no travel and expenses are covered – just one registration fee.  Void where prohibited, and yada yada yada on the other legal stuff.  (You get it right?  It’s just for the winner, and there’s no $ involved for the winner – we’ve got the reg covered for the winner.)

Hope to see you there!

Why I Went to Law School: FLUU COOP

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I just took an Indiana essay on corporations.  How’d I do?  Terrible.  Too many factors to learn.  One I MUST MEMORIZE are the “factors” around piercing the corporate veil – where creditors can go after company officers personally if they FLUU COOP.  (I’ll let you know what those stand for at the end of this post – to see if I can memorize them.)

Also today, I was digging around in my office and a few other crazy places for a thing when–I stumbled upon a sealed letter from myself, to myself on why I went to law school.  I wrote this letter back in what seemed like yesterday, 2008.  So on the back of the seal, I had written, “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOU GRADUATE FROM LAW SCHOOL” – hey, that time has passed, so I ripped the sucker open!

What did it say?  It was hilarious!  I actually forgot what I had written.  But, I’m saving that fodder for a future publication–promise.  Meanwhile, just yesterday, a law school video also came out on why I went to law school here–you can watch it for giggles.  I certainly giggled.  (Don’t we all just think we’re hilarious on video?)

I won’t lie, either – I’m really starting to freak out about the bar.  I’m actually getting WORSE at answering MBE multiple choice questions.  And I know, I know – I need to GET BACK TO STUDYING, pronto!  But – it’s always good to talk about WHY one is doing something as a positive reinforcement.  Why did I go to law school?  Well, knowing and re-understanding that makes me study that much harder!

And here, I’ll attempt to name the FLUU COOP piercing the corporate veil factors now – ready?

Fraudulent representation
Lack of formalities (records)
Undercapitalization
Use of corporation for illegal or fraudulent acts
Co-mingling of assets
Observing corporate formalities – or lack thereof
Other shareholder acts or conduct of corporate form (I need to look this one back up)
Payment by corporation of individual obligations

I didn’t have to look up.  Too many of them.

Ugh.