Archive for June, 2007


Monday, June 25th, 2007

I talked a bit about engagement rings back here, and the topic continues to intrigue me. Within the past few weeks, advice columnists Carolyn Hax and Judith “Miss Manners” Martin have both discussed engagement ring etiquette. (I don’t read MM, but Hax mentioned it, and so I tracked it down.) The MM question was from a woman who didn’t like the ring she got, and wondered about if and how to ask about exchanging it. I thought the response was pretty lame: “In a happy moment, far from the proposal time, preferably after the wedding, she says musingly, ‘I always want to wear my engagement ring, but it’s not comfortable for every day. Do you mind if I have it reset?'”

First, it’s probably a lie that it’s not “comfortable,” except on her eyes, and second, MM suggests that the man “prefers not to be troubled” with the matter once the deal is sealed. So apparently he wouldn’t notice or care if she comes home with a brand new ring. I think that’s wrong on several levels.

I usually like Hax a lot, but I thought she missed on her take, too. In her chat last week, someone wrote in with this:

What is the proper way to let your SO know what kind of engagement ring you’d like? I’ve told him on the sly that I prefer silver over gold, and even told him specifically that I’d like a sapphire stone set in white gold or silver, but my boyfriend, sweet and thoughtful as he is, can be forgetful sometimes. Should I send him an e-mail and put “just in case” in the subject line, or leave a catalog cutout near the sports and men’s health magazines?

Hax said she wouldn’t bite on this, apparently because it made her so mad. A couple of other people wrote in with jokey replies about Bridezillas (there was another question about a woman who was “making” the mother of the groom wear a hideous dress at the wedding), and so the woman wrote back with this:

I’m really not sure why everyone feels the need to be so nasty over a simple question. If I’m the one who has to wear the ring, then it should be something that is wearable. I’m not going to play the part of the mousy miss and cower away from getting what I want because it might be rude. So, I will send an e-mail and slip the catalog cutout next to the sports pictures.

Hax just replied “Still…not…biting….” Fine, it’s clear this woman is a little nutty and showing some warning signs. Why is her definition of a “wearable” ring the only one that counts? And why is she perfectly comfortable with being “rude” (her word) if it means “getting what I want,” regardless of her boyfriend’s feelings or finances?

It would have been nice if either or both of these “advice” columnists had given some actual advice, though. For example, in MM’s scenario, what if the new husband got pissy about having the ring re-set, despite her plea that it’s “not comfortable for every day”? Then what? That’s especially true if her real problem is that the diamond is small, or the band gold instead of silver, which makes the “comfortable” dodge less believable.

MM’s answer and Hax’s non-answer completely evade the real heart of all these questions: Whose ring is it? And is an engagement ring an unexchangeable gift? I think they both suggest that women have no right to make demands (suggestions?) pre-engagement, and after delivery, they pretty much have to like it or lump it, unless they’re lucky enough to have a guy who can’t be bothered with china patterns and ring styles and such piffle. In that case, they can lie and do whatever they want anyway.

I’m not saying where I come down on all this. But it would have been interesting to hear if they had any reasonable advice for how a woman should go about expressing her desires, whether the man should seek her input, and if/how the dynamic changes after the engagement. Maybe the answers are so obvious that MM and Hax didn’t feel a need to repeat them. But having no experience in this arena, it would be news to me. So, please, dear readers, inform me: How does this process work in the real world, outside of newspaper columns?

ALL-REQUEST: Bar Exam Advice

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Coob asks for advice for preparing for and taking the bar exam. Fitz and I have written a little about this topic before. Try here and here and here.

I did BarBri and Fitz did MicroMash, and it worked out well for both of us. I needed the imposed discipline of the BarBri program, and even then I dogged it most of the summer. I went to (most of) the lectures and filled in (most of) the blanks, but didn’t do anything else for the first month. Finally, in July, I buckled down and read the outlines. Well, the short ones. Basically, I was pretty lazy. I never did even one full-length practice exam. Fitz was pretty diligent about doing a ton of multistate questions. In the end, we both passed on the first try, so I can’t really say that one method is necessarily better than the other.

The best advice I can give anyone is to not panic. You’ll remember more than you think you will, most states curve the scores, and most importantly, remember that the bar exam is a test of minimal competence. Very few states write the thing to weed out all but the very best. Think about all the lawyers you know. They’re not all geniuses. When you get to the exam, look around. All those dorks aren’t geniuses, either. You’ll be fine.

Actually, let me revise. The best advice I can give is to listen to the Derailers’ song “Bar Exam,” over and over. Trust me, it’ll help.

If you’re reading this two years from now, don’t comment

Monday, June 11th, 2007

We don’t get a ton of comments here at BTQ. So I don’t have to check Haloscan every five minutes to avoid flames and spam and the like. And before I started using Bloglines, I would only check maybe once a week or so, to make sure I hadn’t missed anything new. PG has a tendency to comment all at once on four or five posts in row, some of which might be a bit old. And that’s fine. But generally speaking, very few people scroll down past the last couple of posts to comment.

Lately, however, I’ve been seeing these weird comments at very old posts. When I see the comment itself on Haloscan’s page, sometimes I can’t even figure out which post they’re commenting on. Once I piece it together, they’re usually semi-germane, so they’re not clearly spam, even though the link the commenter uses is a commercial site.

Even aside from these quasi-spammers, every once in a while I see on-point comments from apparently real people on posts from ages ago. Sometimes the posts are years old. I don’t understand this at all. I guess they discover the post via Google or something, and decide they have to say something. I wonder if they realize that the chances of anyone seeing it are basically nil. It’s not like a bulletin board where the hot topics move to the front page. Even when I see these comments, I almost never go back in time to respond. And I’ve seen my SiteMeter numbers, so trust me when I tell you that very few of this blog’s visitors check old pages, either. If it’s not on the front page, almost no one is reading it anymore — at least not to the point of checking old posts for new comments.

I don’t want to set up complicated system to close old comment threads. And I don’t want to get one of those “most recent comments” tags so everyone can see these oddball comments. I really don’t care if those old posts fade into the misty archives and the conversation moves on. I don’t care if people comment on old posts, either, but I hope they’re not expecting any sort of response. Maybe they’re just doing to express themselves anyway, without expecting to initiate a conversation.

Am I the only one this happens to? Am I the only one who finds it weird? What do other bloggers do when a comment shows up on an old post?

Twenty-five (25) or Six (6) to Four (4)

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I’ve decided that my latest peeve is when people spell out a number and then immediately follow it with the numeral in parentheses. (For example, the subject line of this post.) I usually see it in formal or binding documents, like indictments and contracts. But I find myself seeing it crop up all over the place. What the hell is the point of this? We’re literate enough to read the rest of the document, but somehow can’t understand it when numbers are written out? And nobody does this for other words and symbols — you never see “The defendant sold five (5) kilograms (kg) of cocaine (C17-H21-N-O4).”

So can anyone explain why people ever did this? I could maybe, just maybe understand it if dated to pre-typewriter days. Kind of like making you write out the amount of a check, for clarity. But why on earth does anybody still do it? Thanks for clearing this up for me, and don’t add to my peevedness by doing it yourself!

(Title reference.)