Monday, February 19, 2018

I'm Floored

I'd always been taught I was no good with tools. Dad yelled at me whenever I made a mistaken, and the first time you do anything you make mistakes, so I solved the problem by never doing anything he was interested in - which included anything to do with hand tools.
Now that I'm a homeowner there are things that have to be done. My choices are to pay someone else to do it or do it myself. I don't like spending money so I'm learning to do all sorts of things.
This weekend I finished up the flooring in the downstairs kitchen. I'm very pleased with the result. The only downside is now the walls look worse in contrast; I'll have to do some so I can at least put baseboards on. But still, this is progress both on my house and my skillset.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Not Mocking Mock Trials

Today I had the pleasure of spending at UW as a presiding judge at a mock trial contest. This was very interesting and, I hope, useful.
The contestants were undergraduates (not lawyers or law students) who were arguing either side of a mock criminal case. My job was to make clear and understandable rulings on motions and objections (everyone *loved* debating hearsay!) and to keep things rolling along, which I was well equipped to do. Attorneys with actual trial experience did the scoring - a wise division of labor.
I went away feeling very good about the next generation. They had obviously worked hard and struggled to do well, and if their strategic choices were not always the best they seemed willing to learn from mistakes and move on.
I would recommend mock trial judging to any lawyer with a little spare time. It is of course part of our job as members of a civilization to help the next generation move up, but it is also personally satisfying.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Paving the Way for Peace: Civility in the Legal System

Today I emcee'd the webinar “Paving the Way for Peace: Civility in the Legal System”, hosted by the World Peace Through Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association and featuring Tim Jaasko-Fisher of TJF Consulting. An “On Demand” version of the webcast will be available in approximately 1 day. Our speaker, Tim Jaasko-Fisher, served as Assistant Attorney General for 11 years, litigating at all levels of the justice system in Washington State, from administrative tribunals to the Supreme Court. For 8 years he was the founding director of the Court Improvement Training Academy at the University of Washington School of Law, and then for four years he was a Senior Director at the Civility Center for the Law, a private, non-profit dedicated to promoting civility in the legal system and based at Seattle University School of Law. He continues to facilitate, present, and consult internationally on leadership, civility, and engaging groups in complex problem-solving. The World Peace Through Law Section, on whose executive board I have served for several years, studies peace and law and how one promotes the other. This is a useful and satisfying thing to do, but I want to do it better! In emceeing this program, I drew upon practices developed through Toastmasters (Chapter 832 West Seattle). It's nice to see I am getting better at this!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cement Chipper Cat

First part of fixing up the basement floor is smoothing out a cement ridge left over from removing a wall some years ago. The rent-a-chipper is basically a little indoor jackhammer, and real fun! but the chips and dust go EVERYWHERE.
Ear protection is a must, not for the noise
Arthur wants to use the cement chipper,
but he has no thumbs
so much as the chips. How they get in the ears I have no idea. Tarping everything is a good idea but some of the dust quantum tunnels through, I guess. It's a mess, but I'm paying myself to do it so I can't complain about the wages. The cats don't like the noise, but Arthur and Ginny are curious about the power tools when they're off, and Arthur really does seem interested in playing with them.
AFTER TALKING IT OVER WITH CAT CO-PARENT Nessa Hudson: I should have locked the cats upstairs while working on this. They won't wear respirators and while they fled during the noisy part, some came around during break and cleanup and may have breathed dust. Plus concrete chips might be crunchy like bugs and that would not be good for them. We lucked out, it was a small job and no-one seems harmed, but I would do it differently. (Sometimes it really helps to have a cat co-parent who thinks about these things!)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Some Are Cats, Some Are Dog

I'm tinkering with this improper little essay, so don't expect it to be the same over time.
Many people are dogs. They feel the need for a master and they are not comfortable without someone to tell them what to do. They are especially not comfortable with those outside the pack.

Others are cats. We cats tolerate dogs: they are useful and amusing. We don't especially feel the need to have a master although we'll let someone think so if they feed us and shelter us.

Humans often misunderstand the situation by focusing on the small size of house cats, compared to domestic dogs. In nature, the largest land predator is the cat.

Plus: cats scream during sex. Dogs just look guilty.

Cruelty and the #TrumpShutDown

Monday I shall be working for you for free, if the #Trumpshutdown continues. No need to thank me. The fascists set this up by refusing even to vote on the bipartisan DREAM bill, and I don't mind a bit of sacrifice on behalf of 700,000 people who came here as children.
The Trump supporters among my immediate family unfriended me because they couldn't stand being contradicted, so I can't ask them at what point a 5-year-old child (now a DREAMER) becomes a criminal: when her mother approaches the border or immediately after?
Under what possible theory do they think that 5-year-old should say, "Mommy, I am leaving you because it's illegal to enter the United States."
That's what we're talking about. That 5-year-old grew up here and is now 25 and working somewhere, and my fascist friends and families want to send her back to a nation she never knew, to be absorbed. How she would then live we can only imagine. On this basis alone I call Trump supporters cruel.
This is all on purpose. Trump cancelled DACA six months ago and the Republican leadership in Congress refuses to allow a vote on DREAMER reform - it would pass if they allowed a vote, but they are cruel people. They should have re-authorized CHIP four months ago, but they are cruel people. Now they are holding CHIP hostage to their DACA cruelty and demanding the Democrats (and a few Republican allies) to make a Sophie's choice: CHIP children or DACA children.
It is a fine distraction from them picking your pockets and deflecting from Russia's continuing attack on America. We are losing the information war with Russia because our current leadership are fellow travelers.
My sacrifice is small, and I'll probably end up being paid anyway. Don't worry about me. I am content never to be deliberately be a part of cruelty.
What is the excuse of Trump supporters for their cruelty?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nixon and Trump

I supported Richard Nixon right up to the moment he resigned, and a little bit after. I simply could not believe that he was the criminal that people were portraying him as, and if he was, well it was ok because he was better than McGovern, and anyway liberals were all hypocrites who were just trying to get me to admit I was wrong.
Youth and inexperience made me wrong and foolish. These are crimes of which we have all been guilty, but we're supposed to learn our lesson.
Today my few remaining Trump supporter associates are doing the exact same thing. Some are young and will learn better. Some are old and simply refuse to learn.
Stubborn pride goes before a very hard fall. Trump is a criminal and supporting him is just like supporting Nixon. Isn't it better to admit the mistake before history rubs your nose in it?

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The Collapsing Empire: A Catastrophe Is Just Another Political Ploy

John Scalzi's latest novel "The Collapsing Empire" is another complex political space opera, in the best sense of the term. Although it has spaceships and battles and Imperial guards and all that, it's really about people and organizations reacting when scientists discover an impending catastrophe. The catastrophe itself doesn't fully manifest by the end of this novel but that's almost beside the point, as our protagonists struggle more against competing plans to turn this to advantage than against the problem itself.
The lead is an Everyman (female) thrust by circumstance into greatness and getting by, mostly by letting the professionals around her Do Their Job. I'm not sure that she makes any decisions other than to prioritize the safety of humanity, which is after all Her Job.
The liveliest character is a Merchant Prince(ss) in the role of a young Nicholas van Rijn (more profane and less restrained) whose firmly established sense of priorities includes working hard and partying harder. After one rather violent crisis she woos a survivor who objects that how can they get together after she was prepared to sacrifice him; she replies why complain about something that didn't happen, and let's get busy.
Never before have I seen a plot point hinge on whether a political faction relied upon a scientific paper that was not properly peer reviewed. Ha!
Scalzi is a master of his craft and if you expected a story that runs solidly and urgently from an explosive opening to a climactic world altering ending, you got it BUT it's obviously the beginning of a series - it sets up several problems and then doesn't resolve them. The very last spoken line points to an unwritten story to follow (or else is the author's prank.)
Don't leave readers hanging , brother Scalzi. Let's see the sequel soon!

Monday, January 01, 2018

All Is Quiet On New Year's Day

Stayed at home all day.
Did not drive car.
Did not spend money.
Tinkered with stuff, cleaned, worked on the yard.
Doing some yoga, making lunch for tomorrow and really looking forward to going back to work.
Life is not always drama.