Monday, July 9, 2012

Well, the Sunrise was Beautiful

Well, I'm just going to go right out and say it; I pulled an all-nighter last night working on my essay. As soon as I get into my writing, it flows easily; however, it can sometimes take me hours to get into this flow. I had spent numerous hours researching and putting some intorductions on my paper, and by 2 AM, to be completely honest, I had completed 1 page. All of the previous hours working had been spent researching and writing introductions, most of which went nowhere. Around 3 AM, though, after spending an hour talking with my roommate, who was struggling with the exact same thing as me for his business class, I finally gotta into a rhythm and was able to crank out the final 4.5 pages in 5 hours. For me, this is pretty efficient (the after 3 AM part), and although I worked fast, and I was stressed out because time had me "con la pistola a la cabeza" (time had "a gun to my head," or, in other words, I was under a ton of pressure), I still managed to turn in a product that I was very proud of. At the end of the day, how proud I am of my work is the ultimate determinant of how I well I felt I did; time really does not factor into it.
The rays of the sun spilling through the clouds, at about 5-6 AM.
That being said, I probably should have started a bit earlier. My rommmate went to sleep at about 4 AM, and as I continued working, I got to see the sunrise, which was beautiful coming up through the clouds. While staying up all night was ridiculously stupid, I am very proud, as I always have been, of my determination to do the absolute best I can do at everything I try. Around 8 AM, as my roommate begin to stir, I completed my paper and sent it to my dad for a few revisions before I turned it in.
I went to breakfast and then to class, and because I was keeping my blood flowing walking and talking, I had no trouble staying awake. As we began to go into our Supreme Court cases, though, I began to have a lot of trouble staying awake (I mean, you can't blame me, I didn't sleep). I did stay awake, though, and I paid attention as well as I could to our cases surrounding the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The cases were very interesting, it's just tought o stay awake having not slept the night before.
As soon as class ended, I sleepwalked back to my dorm, laid down and instantly fell asleep for a hour and 15 minutes nap. After I woke up, I made a few revisions that my dad had suggested to my paper and printed it, arriving to class just before 2 PM. Also, in case I hadn't made this point clear enough the first 10 times, I cannot describe to you the importance of my midday nap.
Our second class was a bit more interactive, and feeling refreshed from my nap, I participated in class discussion and my lack of energy seemed to completely disappear. We discussed some of the United States actions post-9/11, including the Patriot Act and some Supreme Court cases involving suspected terrorists being held as prisoners. After class ended, 13 of us from the class met up to go together out to dinner at a place called Max Bremmer's at Union Square. The place specializes in chocolate, and when people said we were going to dinner there I envisioned something like spaghetti with chocolate sauce, although thankfully, they served dinner items as well like BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. I had a fantastic time getting to know my classmates better; our class is already very discussion-based, but it is different talking to someone outside of a class setting. All of the kids, though, are super cool, and I can't believe this will be ending in only a few days!!!
Near Union Square
I did a few more things later in the day, but none were that significant (I played ManHunt, a giant team game of tag, and I studied) I also need to wrap it up because I am very sleep-deprived right now, and I need to get ready for tomorrow's field trip to the District Court!

Chocolate, Pasta and Scraped Elbows

I'll be honest; I did not finish my essay last night. I had it about 3/5 done, when I went to bed. Luckily, it wasn't due until the second class section.

The first half of class was based around Supreme Court decisions relating to the Fourth Amendment (Search, Seizure, and Wiretapping). All of these cases were from the 20th or early 21st century, which made them much easier to read than many of our previous cases. The Supreme Court seems to vacillate between interpretations of this amendment, and both the majority opinions and dissents have valid arguments.

I spent all of my lunch finishing and printing my essay. I was actually pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. My essay was on Affirmative Action. I argued that Affirmative Action is both constitutional and justified, but that it needs to be adapted to modern day inequality; I think that modern disparity is based more on socioeconomic background and geographic location than it is on racial affiliation.

I felt a huge weight lifted off my chest after I turned in my essay. The second half of class was much more relaxed.We discussed the significance of the Patriot Act, its justifications and the results it had. We got out early.

At 4:15 PM, about 13 people from our class (including Adrianne, Lucas, Tomi and me) met in front of our building to go to a group lunch. The destination, was Max Brenner's, a restaurant that specializes in chocolate based dinners, drinks and desserts. In short, it was a lot of fun. I had a white chocolate milkshake and some delicious penne alfredo.

We got back to campus around 7:30, just in time to change clothes before the 2nd Manhunt. The last one was so much fun, that I had to do it again. There was a slightly smaller turnout this time, but there was still a lot of people. Lucas played this time, for the other team, but we never caught each other. I tripped and fell a few times while playing, but I was never very hurt. A couple scrapes here and there never killed anybody. It was just as much fun as before.

After the manhunt, I headed up to the 13th floor of Carman Hall with a few friends, for a "party." I put the word "party" in quotations, because it wasn't a very lively event, and didn't really resemble a party. It was basically just twenty or so people in a hallway drinking soda, while fiddling with the speakers. Realizing that it was boring, I went down stairs, to the 10th floor, to watch a movie with a few of my classmates.

I had to return to my floor at 11:00, because of curfew. Tomorrow, we wake up early to go on a field trip to a court house.

The End is Approaching

Today I woke up sad. I realized that it's officially the last week of the program and in a couple of days, we'll be back to California. It's shocking how fast these four weeks have gone - it literally feels like the ILC group checked into the hotel yesterday, not nearly a month ago! I can't believe how far we've come. It's like a dream.

After breakfast I hurried to class. I didn't have the chance to print out my research paper because I had to ask Jeffrey a couple of questions about my citations (the footnote method kept on messing up on my paper). He relieved me by telling me it was fine to put my footnotes in bibliography form on a separate page instead of putting the footnotes at the bottom of each page for my paper. I definitely felt better.

Today's topic was the Fourth Amendment, mainly discussing the rights to searches and seizures. We read six cases over the weekend, and each one was interesting!
  • Chimel vs. California - Ted Chimel was suspected of a coin shop robbery, so the police came to his house with an arrest warrant. He wasn't at home, but his wife let the police officers stay in the house to wait for him. When he came back, the police searched his house and found evidence that proved he robbed the coin shop. Chimel was arrested and convicted. He claimed that the police officer's search of his house was unconstitutional because they didn't have a search warrant. The Supreme Court disagreed with him and affirmed his conviction.
  • Chimel Rule - Limited warrant-less search to suspect an area within a police officer's reach. 
  • Arizona v. Hicks - A shot went through an apartment and injured a man below. The police went through the apartment, which belonged to Mr. Hicks, without a search warrant. They discovered illicit drugs and stolen stereos. However, this violated the 4th amendment because they didn't have a search warrant.
  • Olmstead v. United States - Roy Olmstead was indicted and convicted of illegally importing and selling liquor (this violated the Prohibition Act). At the trial, prosecutors introduced evidence that they obtained by wiretapping his phone. Olmstead said this was a violation.
  • Katz v. United States - Charles Katz was convicted for placing bets and wagers over the phone to bookies on the East Coast. The FBI had recorded these conversations and introduced them as evidence.
  • California v. Ciraolo - Police got a tip that Mr. Ciraolo was growing marijuana in his backyard. However, they couldn't see over the fence, so they flew an airplane over the backyard. Ciraolo was arrested and convicted.
  • Kyollo v. United States - Mr. Kyollo was suspected of growing marijuana, so police used a thermal imager to scan his house. They found parts of the house were hot and found that Kyollo was using high-intensity lights to grow marijuana. They got a search warrant and found more than 100 marijuana plants. Kyollo claimed the thermal imager violated the 4th amendment but the Supreme Court rejected this.
After class I ate a quick lunch before going to Carman's computer lab to edit my paper and print it out. I'm proud of the finished product. When I turned it in to Luke at the beginning of the afternoon session, I was not only happy, but relieved that the research paper part of the class is over.

During the afternoon session, we had an in-dept discussion about the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush not too long after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I wrote about the Patriot Act in my research paper and I feel that it is not a constitutional bill. It violates the first, fourth, and fifth amendment. Granted, I didn't participate in this discussion too much before it turned into more of an argument between certain classmates. It was still interesting to listen to, though.

After class, 13 of us went to Union Square to have a class bonding dinner. I'm sad that we didn't do this the first week! We all had a lot of fun. We went to Max Brenner's, a restaurant and chocolate shop! I really liked bonding with my classmates and enjoying great food.

So much chocolate!
The menu
Flatbread pizza
Around the chocolate shop
Outside the restaurant
My desert - spicy Mexican hot chocolate
Mac's desert, a waffle combination
The bill...dear goodness
Ben and I
Lenny and Ben
Group Photo (minus Eli!)
Upon returning to Columbia, Tomi and I took a nice stroll and relaxed on the grass before retiring to our dorms. Later on, Lucas, Aurea, and I did laundry, something I was in desperate need of doing.

Tomorrow our class will go on a field trip to the District Court in Southern New York. I'm excited for this!

Bit Off More Than I Can Chew

It’s inconceivable to know that I only have five more days here in New York. And three of those days shall be dedicated to my research paper. Oh procrastination at its finest.

Today was a regular session day. I woke up at 8 AM to grab a shower and headed down for breakfast with Morvarid, Adrianne, Brittany, and Rowland. And as usual, the Presidential Powers students were reviewing the article from the previous night to prepare ourselves for the discussion that day. Discussion today involved Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Peace Without Conquest” speech. The article argued about the effectiveness of Johnson’s usage of rhetoric to appease the people. His speech was a middle ground that gained him praise and support from the American public about the Vietnam War. LBJ’s condition for Vietnam was a New Deal program, similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which would give $1 billion to rebuild the Mekong River. If aggression were to develop further, America would use military force. Johnson effectively settled terms for both the hawks and doves of the nation. Class today also ended a little earlier than usual; we were given student evaluations today on the class and we finished fairly fast. I enjoy my class, no doubt about that, but the only downside I find about the class is the research paper length. Twenty to twenty-five pages for a paper is fairly long, you know.
Due to our early departure from class, we were able to avoid the sudden lunch rush. Literally five minutes after we got our food, a huge mob came into the dining hall to get their share. I then made my way for my room for a quick nap before my next class.
After a somewhat refreshing nap, I headed to Butler Library for my usual session. And I once again had internal debates about my research paper. I’ve bounced back and forth between theses that each one seems the same. But I finally started on my actual thesis that will, hopefully, not change anymore. Changing theses a few days before my paper is due is not the wisest decision- a little advice for any future ILCers who want to do this course. I guess my professor was right, I did “bite more than I can chew.” Too many ideas are jumbling around my mind that I can’t even focus on one.
Since the Constitutional Law students had a dinner today, we did not have our usual meeting with Ms. L. So instead I chose to take another nap before having dinner. Once dinner was finished, Morvarid, Brittany and I made our way to the postal office to only find out it was closed. Tomorrow we shall get our stamps for our letter evaluations for our professor. We then went back to campus to get started on our homework. And my roommate left to go back to Hon Kong for a college interview. So now I have the whole room to myself. Hopefully this will help with my writing; I still have so many words to go...

Constitutional Law and the Chocolate Restaurant

After working for a total of twelve hours yesterday, I practically passed out on my bed in exhaustion. Needless to say, I decided to skip out on my early morning study session in favor of be able to sleep in. 

Today, Jeffery was the one in charge of teaching the morning class. Chimel v. California, Arizona v. Hicks, and Katz. v. United States were amongst some of the cases that we reviewed today. Each of these cases dealt with rights granted by the Fourth Amendment, specifically those mentioned within its Search and Seizure Clause. 

One case that had a very big impact on deciding what is considered to be lawful and unlawful search and seizure was Chimel v. California. The case's central issue was whether warrantless search and seizures are unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The Court held that yes, warrantless search and seizures are only permissible when concerning the immediate area surrounding the suspect; even then, this exception is only in effect when the suspect is  either in the process grabbing of a weapon or destroying of evidence. When cited in other legal cases, this reasoning is often referred to as the "Chimel Rule". 

I spent my lunch period finalizing my research paper. I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to be finally done with that paper. I worked really long and hard on this assignment, so I'm really hoping that all of that effort didn't go to waste. Even though I know that it's not for a grade, I still wanted to try my best on it for for not only the evaluation that I'll be receiving at the end of the program, but for myself and my dream of becoming an accomplished writer. 

Since Jeffery taught the morning session, Luke was left to teach the afternoon class. After collecting the everyone's research papers, Luke started a discussion based on Patriot Act and the Guantanamo Bay torture cases, which were both enacted in post-9/paranoia. The discussion was about how the government was acting upon fear rather than reason, resulting in the nation-wide compromise of privacy and or due process for suspected citizens and non-citizens alike. In relation to the various surveillances conducted under the Patriot act, the discussion lead onto how the government is allowed to demand consumer information or search history from private companies without having to notify the consumer in question before or after making the demand.

In celebration of the end of our research paper, our class went out to dinner at Max Brenner--a chocolate themed restaurant located in Union Square. Or rather, the near majority of our class went to Max Brenner to celebrate.I went with Lizzy, Caroline, Alec, Robert, Mac, Joy, Yumiko, Eli, Lenny, Lucas, and Adrianne making for a total of 13 of 29 students attending the party. 

Max Brenner is really great restaurant; it's amazing how they incorporate chocolate into literally everything they make--from french fries coated in cocoa powder to pizzas and hamburgers made entirely out of dessert! They even had chocolate filled vats and pipes decorating the interior--it was like something straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate factory! 

Chocolate pizza--it tastes just as good as it looks!
As may have already guessed, we fully enjoyed our time at Max Brenner. In fact, we ended up spending a total amount of $414.25! Scraping up the cash for all that food took quick some time and effort, but eventually were able gather enough money to pay for the meal and a tip. 

Concentration is the Game.

Yet another early morning...
I can easily resort to waking up at 8:45, but I constantly chose to wake up at 7 A.M. which is nearly two hours earlier than I should. Considering the fact that I am not a morning person, why do I do it? I clearly do not have to. Well, the answer to this question is simple; because I care a lot about my course, about my work, about this school, and lastly, about my opportunity to be here in the first place. I've been trying very hard to make the best out of all the things provided to me and take advantage of every opportunity in my way. I wake up early regardless of the inconvenience for me because I strive for excellence and I've been working diligently to not just read what is assigned, but to fully evaluate it and understand it to the best of my ability.

Every aspect of today so far has been casual, since I will not be attending any trips today or engaged in any "fun" activities. In our class, we discussed our articles like usual, then lunch followed and I only ate for 30 minutes. Time is of the essence and I'm determined to use it wisely. For the remainder of the time (an hour and 30 minutes), I went to my room and read the article for tomorrow. Color-coding the highlights of each section, I worked on the article for most of my lunch break instead of participating in the mid-day activities." Once again, I later went to the library a lot earlier than class started and I began working on my research paper.

Two things that disappoint me;

1. No matter how hard I've been working and how much time I devote with dedication to this research paper, it seems like not much is been done! This is due to the fact that I have chosen such a challenging topic that in fact, I have to conduct more reading than than writing! I knew the topic I had chosen would be a challenge, but I failed to realize that a 25 page college research paper is a challenge in itself. Even my professor agreed that my topic is a challenging one, but now that I have chosen it, I am determined to make it excellent. That right there, is the source of all my stress.

2. The fact the I cannot check out my books because I am a high school student. I have a curfew and regardless of that, the library closes so early! This limits the amount of time I can work on my paper and really frustrates me. Secondly, the times I am in the library, the people behind the circulation desk do not really help me out. In the beginning of my Butler library experience, I was always disappointed by the number of "I don't knows" I would get in response to my library questions. Today, when I approached the desk to pick up the books I had put on hold for my research paper, the individual behind the desk told me the books were not there! I was worried because a good portion of my paper depended on those and I spent an entire week gathering those sources. Luckily after 15 minutes, he found the books on the other side of the desk where they were not suppose to be. That was probably the scariest part of my day today when I felt like all the time I had been working so hard preparing my essay had gone to waste. However, I am thankful that the books were found at least.

Regardless of that, I am devoting the rest of my day (to be more exact, my entire day) to my Presidential Powers course. I am determined to finish at least half of my paper by tonight. I am almost there, but I must now go back to work and concentrate for the remainder of my day.

Wish me luck!

P.S. Did I mention before that I had deactivated my facebook account? Responsibility at it's best.