The Tara Lipinski Theory

February 18, 2010

With the due date of the biggest paper I have ever written in my educational career just under 48 hours away, and the Winter Olympics in full force, I was reminded of a theory I created back in the late 90s: the Tara Lipinski Theory.

Back in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, a 15-year-old Tara Lipinski won the gold medal in women’s figure skating. As suprising as this was, it was more surprising that she defeated the overwhelming favorite Michelle Kwan. Many have theorized why this happened (including that Lipinski had more energy and that her program was more technically difficult), but most agree it was because Kwan skated towards the beginning of the group and Lipinski skated at the end. It has been understood that judges save room for better scores to occur as the night goes on, so although Kwan didn’t fall once and had a perfect run, because Lipinski was equally as perfect, and was one of the last skaters she edged out Kwan.

Throughout my life, I have seen this theory apply to all types of situations. For instance, say you partake in speed dating (admittedly, the only time I’ve ever actually seen this done is in the 40 Year Old Virgin, and that scene provides the best Paul Rudd scene in the movie). Obviously, you are not going to settle on the first awesome girl you meet. You are going to keep that first awesome girl in the back of your mind and go talk to the rest of the girls at this event, looking for someone even better and “saving room” for improvement. Towards the end you meet another equally awesome girl, and the odds are, because she is fresh in your mind and right in front of you, you will ask her to get coffee or take a ride in your Neo Geo, instead of asking the first girl. This situation can apply to anytime when you are picking something out (think about Halloween costumes–you look at a ton of equally awesome ones and then settle on the last awesome one because, quite frankly, nothing really stands out above the rest and settling on the first costume you see is just not fun).

This probably also applies to teachers grading papers, which is why this theory is so relevant right now. Most likely, a teacher will not give an A to the first paper he or she reads. This is because, if he or she does give an A to the first paper, this teacher has created a questionable standard and leaves no saves no room for improvement. If the paper is far superior to the rest of the papers, this will be the only A, which in undergrad or high school is ridiculously unfair, and in law school pretty much assures the rest of the class of Bs. It could also set the bar a little too low. This paper might be great, but there might be an even greater paper that is the, say, fourth paper read. Then what do you give this paper? An A+? And what about if that one is beat? An A++? Thus, room for improvement is probably given, and the first paper gets the short end of the stick. So, you better pray your paper is in the middle of the pack.

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Love and Law School

February 10, 2010

Let me first point out that yes, I did make a play on words on the famed Spike Lee movie “Love and Basketball” (let me just say that this is one of the few great sports movies that females can also enjoy. Come on, just look at the title: the basketball part is for males and the love part is for females. It works brilliantly. See also Jerry McGuire).

But on to the real reason for this post: Valentine’s Day. In the past, I have demonstrated a hate for Valentine’s Day synonymous to the hate New York has for Boston or Maryland has for Duke (man I’m just rolling with the sports commentary in this blog… probably has something to do with the fact that the rest of this post will be emasculated by talking about love). However, this year I’m going to take a different route. I’m not going to talk about how I think the holiday is ridiculous (which I have lessened my stance on), but instead I’m going to talk about the impossibility of maintaining a strong relationship in law school and the fact that those who do are god among men (and women).

First, I want you to take a look at a normal weekly schedule for me (click image for full size):

As you can tell, it’s pretty packed. There isn’t that much room for fun. Or having a girlfriend. I go to sleep at around 11:30 so there really isn’t anytime for anything really, except for Lost, of course (and the hours necessary to think about the show is left for when I’m in a boring class). According to my flawless logic (I say that VERY lightly), with a girlfriend (or for the ladies, boyfriend) in the picture, you probably need to dedicate an hour a day to them at least. You have to figure that your significant other will want to talk on the phone with you, or if you live together, have a meal with you or vent about how shitty their job is (and then you answer, “Are you serious? I’m in law school! I am in a buttload of debt, work my ass off and have no time to myself.” Then your significant other leaves the table, goes into his/her room and you have thus ruined the one hour of couple time for the day). Therefore, one must maximize the time in the day to include this lovely person.

So, what to eliminate first? It’s definitely not the gym. According to Mike’s Encyclopedia of Incredibly Flawed Theories (it’s copyrighted so don’t even think of stealing it), relationships are 40% physical. This means one thing: if you don’t look good (or don’t over compensate in some other area), your relationship is 40% closer to ending. Here are samples of what a girl or guy can end up looking like without the gym:


Would you date these people? The answer is no (unless your name is Tom Arnold). So, therefore, the gym can’t be eliminated. The next option is eliminating sleep. But, that is just out of the question. I have found that my quality of work goes down when I don’t have the proper amount of sleep. So, the only possible option (besides on Tuesdays when I can eliminate Lost, but that is the equivalent of killing a family member–you just don’t do it) is to cut down on homework and studying. This, unfortunately, also has some pretty tough negative side effects. If you eliminate the amount of work you do during the week, you will probably become a worse student. When you become a worse student, your job prospects go down (or so they tell us… I don’t believe it, but let’s say you do believe this propaganda), and then you can’t provide for you and your significant other who has the terrible job. This is just a terrible situation.

So what is the solution here? Well, besides spending all your (limited) free time on the weekend begging your significant other for forgiveness or ordering every flower possible on 1-800-Flowers.com, you have two options: sacrifice your quality of work, or have a failing relationship (I’m sure Kobe and Shaq didn’t sacrifice their quality of work so their relationship failed… sorry I had to throw in one last sports reference). It’s a tough line to toe. I don’t have a solution here, but you can see where the conundrum lies. With that, I want to salute the people who maintain their relationships in law school. Damn, homie. I couldn’t imagine doing well at both… or doing well at one by itself either.