Sunday, May 28, 2006

I'm Challenged

One of my favorite places to eat in Charlottesville when I last lived there was Big Jim's. Big Jim's is a barbecue joint that seems to have a catering contract of some sort with U.Va. Their food is always showing up at various events on Grounds. Their pulled pork barbecue is sticky sweet and delicious, and their cole slaw is pretty good despite the fact that it's way too smooth, like they put it in a food processor. They also have the best baked beans in the universe.

However, my favorite Big Jim's item must not be part of the catering menu. It's the Big Jim Burger. I can't put my finger on what's so special about it, since there are a lot of half-pound hamburgers in the world today, and this one doesn't have any odd toppings or anything (except a huge slice of onion, which is a plus for me). Maybe it's the fact that it's huge and delicious and cheap. Or that I have so many memories of so many Big Jim Burger Platters (with a heap of shoestring fries) eaten around those weird faux-wood tables with Than and Peff and John. Nowadays my appetite is a lot smaller, but when I was 19 I could devour the whole burger and all the fries, along with a crock of beans and a couple of glasses of sweet tea. I'd be lucky to finish the burger now, but I sure would like to try.

I've been back to C'ville many times since I graduated in 2002, but I've never been back to Big Jim's. Because I can't find it. I know it's just off 29N somewhere -- you take a left and then a quick right, and it's right there. I think there might be a Shell station across the street. But 29 is so overwhelming for me now that I can't drive and look for places at the same time, so I haven't managed to find it. Complicating matters is the fact that my townie friends generally took the back way to get there so they didn't have to drive on 29. I have no idea what the back way involved. Have I mentioned that I have no sense of direction?

Upon my triumphant return to C'ville, I'll swallow my pride and consult a map before setting out for Big Jim's. It's worth the struggle.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Adventures in Cell Phones

So, after two years, my $75-a-month Sprint contract (don't ask) is finally up, and I'm using my new Alltel phone.

I hate talking on the phone. I would rather send an email than make a phone call any day. But I love having a cell phone because it makes everything so easy. If I'm stuck in traffic, I can call for takeout and have it be ready by the time I get there. I can make plans with friends such as, "Let's hang out Wednesday. What time do you get up? Okay, I'll call you at noon and see what you're in the mood for." And so on. (I'm sure I don't need to enumerate all the uses of cell phones.)

My problem is that I almost never use my phone. I could easily go five days without placing or receiving a call. So monthly service plans, which, in C'ville, seem to start at $40, are a huge rip-off for me. I'm going with a prepaid phone. $15 for the phone, $35 activation fee, and 15 cents a minute for all my calls, anytime, anywhere. And no contract, which is nice. If I try this for, say, two months and it's awful, I will have spent less than two months' worth of $40 service with a regular plan, and I can jump ship. I've had no problems with reception so far in Pittsburgh, except in the middle of the furniture section at Target, where I could never get a signal on my old phone, either.

One of my summer-before-law-school activities is catching up on all the "24" I never saw. I watched six episodes of season two today. Why must I always get immersed in shows that demand to be watched marathon-style? I want to go out and get the next couple of DVDs tonight, but I'll try to do something productive. Like maybe that laundry I've been putting off for a week or so.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The "Academical Village"

From the Virginia Law Forum (students only) comes this link to yesterday's New York Times Magazine article on the trials of redesigning the University's South Lawn. Highlights include a knock or two at U.Va.'s stubbornly archaic terminology (e.g. Grounds, Board of Visitors) and the author calling John Casteen "a solemn, doughfaced man." I love it. My one quibble is that it refers to there being a shortage of student housing in C'ville. With the amount of expansion and new construction that's been going on in the past five years, can that possibly be true? Just how much has the student population grown during that period? True, living off-Grounds meant signing a lease by January if you wanted to move in in August, but my cheapskate housemates and I never had any trouble finding a place to live.

It's hard for me to imagine New Cabell Hall being demolished, although its charms are questionable. Its climate control doesn't work, and its design always confounded me: the bathrooms are in different places on each floor, the staircases are randomly located, and I never got the hang of the room numbering, but then, I'm not good with spacial relationships. I just love that building because of the classes I took there, and I hate to lose it. On the other hand, I know U.Va. has to build new buildings to keep up with other universities, and it sounds like the committee working on the new plans is at least as picky about architecture as I am, so I'm likely to enjoy the new construction if I'm around to see it. And I sincerely hope I will be.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Not Quite Comatose

I've been a Law School Discussion junkie since the day I discovered the site last October. Now that most everybody knows where they're going to school in the fall, the boards are full of advice for 0Ls and people discussing their summer plans.

One interesting thing about law school is that people start it at different points in their lives. With few exceptions, first-year undergrads are 18 or so, have finished high school a few months before, and are moving out of their parents' houses for the first time. Incoming law students are coming from all sorts of different situations. There are people who are married, with kids, and quitting high-paying jobs to go back to school. There's the straight-from-undergrad crowd, piggybacking student loans on top of each other. There seems to be a huge number of people in roughly my situation: out of college five years, sick of being broke and moving every six months, ready to make a larger commitment.

I'm very lucky to be in the position to take the summer off. From what I've read, this is a good thing to do 0L summer. I'm getting myself as relaxed as possible, while trying to work through some lingering personal stuff that I haven't had the time to process over the past few years. I just spent a week with my parents, which was great. I can't remember the last time I did that. I'm listening to Mark Kozelek, which is hard to do unless you're really relaxed (his pacing tends to be very slow, but there's a great intensity in his songs if you have the patience to wait for it). I've been knitting very simple things. It's good.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Home Sweet C'ville

Having finally been waitlisted by Harvard Law (was that so hard?!), I am now officially a double Hoo, heading back to U.Va. this fall. Unfortunately, I won't be advertising that status on my vehicle when I move, as the Virginia vanity plate "DBL HOO" has already been taken, as well as "HOO X2" and various other permutations thereof. Apparently I am not so clever after all.

Charlottesville seems to be pretty good to those who return. I got my old U.Va. Computing ID back from my undergrad days, and ITC is still letting me read my mail with PINE. Being again feels good.

I quit my job, so I have plenty of time this summer to get everything configured the way I want it. James and I just got back yesterday from a quick trip down to C'ville to sign the lease on our downtown apartment. Am I crazy for deciding to live downtown, even though it's way more expensive than living near the law school? I think not. I do much better work when I'm happy, and I can't imagine living where I'm going to be living and not being happy. Plus, I just learned that yet another decent coffee shop is opening on the mall soon, as well as another Five Guys location. It's a good place to be.

I had to get a new cell phone, too, since my old contract with Sprint is expiring. I went with a bare-bones prepaid phone from Alltel. No contract, so I figure if it turns out to be crummy, I haven't lost much. I don't like talking on the phone anyway.

I'm changing all my contact info: phone, email, address. As well as moving several hundred miles. This is the first big transition for me in several years.