Reading Rainbow and My Brain into a Hole

I was determined Friday night. I relaxed, staying in so that I could wake up at 8:00 AM and attack one of the old LSATs I'd picked up. But lo and behold, I didn't go to sleep until 3. Why? It was a sort of crippling fear that once I took the test for real, if I did well, there'd be no turning back. However, if I bombed it, I'd be down about the whole affair.

Nevertheless, I rolled out of bed around 10, and decided to do half an LSAT. I compromised with myself. Well, I did OK on the difficult section and TANKED the reading comprehension part. I thought they put reading comprehension on there to boost your score. Free points. I tried to forget about it, meeting my parents and nephew for a paddleboat ride in the park. I even decided to have some drinks and party it up that night, mainly because I hadn't gone out and partied hard in months. So, by some drinks I mean a barrel full of them.

The next day, after relaxing at a pool party, I dried out and started to think about what might have caused the lapse. Was it my new medicine? Was it the fact that I didn't drink coffee that morning? I decided I would have to take several more tests, under all different circumstances, much like the research done around here.

But then I realized something. It was just a problem of focus. Lately, every time I read words, I'll see something that my mind will use as an excuse to blast off tangentially, like a salvo of missiles. What caused this, I wondered. My first instinct was to blame it on my medicine, an easy target. When I admitted that isn't a side effect of this medicine, I thought, well I should just get some Ritalin, that'll drill me to the page. Then I realized that I probably shouldn't start a law career by purchasing illegal prescription drugs.

I started to think, as anyone close to Neuroscience would, about what could actually be causing my brain to do this. I actually monitor eye movements in tracking exercises and my brother in law, Mike, does in San Diego, as well. Here, a dot appears on a screen and the subject has to find the dot and touch it. I've casually observed the eye movements, and the one striking thing is that the subjects always look at more things than you expect. They are constantly scanning the screen for dots.

Mike's company has shown how people view webpages and radar screens. They view everything, showing the same quick scanning as our subjects. After reflecting on this, I thought, I'm probably just typical of your viewer today. We've been trained by television to look in the backgrounds of TV shows for details, clues. On the internet, our eyes try to catch the headlines and the pictures, all in a series of swoops.

So I resigned myself to the thought that maybe, in order to reverse this, I'd have to make some personal changes. If I stopped watching as much TV, playing as many video games, even reducing internet use, I'd be able to curb my "casino attention span." Last night I tried to read for hours on end, everything well constructed, just like the passages on the test. My brain hurts today, and it's not because of alcohol this time. Instead, I had tried to get the square peg of my brain into the round hole of reading skill. And as everyone knows, the only way to get a square peg into a round hole is by... pushing really really hard.


Innocent Until Proven Big City

You know when you realize that science has a lot more evidence than organized religion, and you start to wonder what the point is in life if no higher power exists? You get bummed for a few days, then realize all you have is a certain number of days and they have to count, because it's all you have. Then, you vow to not waste a second.*

Soon after I went through this, my dad came up to me one night and said "Drew, I know what the next big thing is- Immortality." After I made the crack that it's an old man's game, he went on some theoretical description of wireless networks and how the brain is a network, therefore you can make the brain like a hard drive and erase and refill an unlimited amount of time.

My reasoning that life is only made fun by the fact that it is limited. That if people lived forever, they wouldn't have any point in being moral. Think about it, who cares about 25 years in the state pen when you have billions of billions of years after. Also, people only do things like go to college because they don't have all the time in the world.

I didn't realize the irony at the time. Personally, due to a shake up at my lab, the last 2 years of work resulted in paltry returns. Sure I made money, but that was about it. A few days later, it hit me that I wasn't headed towards some great truth or accomplishment, the goal of men like my dad.

My thoughts drifted back to a conversation I'd had with my little sister Emily about how her friends had gotten arrested on the Golden Gate bridge for protesting because "it's private property." When I told her that seemed to be false, and the police had no right to do that, she said she didn't know. I didn't know for sure either, but we both admitted we wanted to go to law school to try to right some wrongs.**

Now my dad, brother, wingman, and ex-girlfriend all went/are going to law school. My mom works in a law office. I feel like I live in a family of factory workers in a small Pennsylvania town, where lawyering is just what you do. But sometime after the immortality discussion I had an epiphany.

I started to think that if I wanted to die happy, and without regret, I'd have to change some things. Like work towards a goal that benefits humanity. Sure, making people live a little better is good, so my job has been a cog in the great machine of progress. However, it'd be tough to argue that modern science has made people any happier. My mind drifted back to that conversation with Emily, and how change is within my grasp.

Sure, I know what you're thinking. Lawyers don't change shit, except for the traffic offense I got to non-driving. Well, I remembered a group I'd heard about in the news. A friend from high school actually worked for them. The Innocence Project is a group that has helped hundreds of inmates, including some on death row, get released based on DNA evidence.

The way I could work for them is to become a lawyer. With all my chemistry and biology classes, not to mention lab work, adding a law degree would give me a good shot to help.

Next thing you know, I'm in NYC, where the group is based, but not to visit. At some point during my vacation, I realized how I needed to experience the madness of a big city, if just for a few years. The next day I sat at my computer researching law schools in the Big Apple. NYU and Columbia both had numbers that made me wish I'd studied harder as an undergrad. A 3.0 GPA doesn't get you very far.

But then I came across Cardozo School of Law in Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is everything you've heard- vibrant, interesting, varied, and yes even a tiny bit "hip." I started looking into how it set itself apart. And what did I find? They are the location for the Innocence Project. Symmetry.

If I can get in there, I won't achieve immortality. However, I may be able to help give some mortals some of their time here back.

* And nobody keeps that vow haha
** She's in the Peace Corps now with her husband. Her blog is on my sidebar. My other sister works for change too, at Outdoor Outreach. And my bro fights the powers that be in Springfield. He won't admit it, but his cases tend to be David v. Golith-esque.


Water? You Mean Like Outta the Toilet?

Look at this hilarious bit of news.

On the heels of a competition in which St Louis was declared to have the best tasting city water in the country, it is especially entertaining. I'd have to say I could count on one hand the number of times I've bought Dasani or Aquafina. They taste like cardboard. Now if I read Evian was mined from the Mississippi, I would be floored. And for the record, I just filter the water from the tap with a Brita. Can't everybody tell the difference when they taste them?