Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Origin of Life

How could the 1st cell have come about?

This is not a fancy, fancy video; it just explains things that I'd never really figured out in a nice clear way.

There's more to the series and when the video is over, it tells you how to continue.

Quite apart from the content, I'm impressed with how easily YouTube makes stuff like this available. Formerly, an explanation like this might reach 100 students at a time, maixmum; and once you're out of school, you basically stop learning except for stuff pertaining to your work. Now stuff like this can be seen by anyone, anytime, and we never have to stop learning!

So, while 98% of the internet may be games, gossip and porn, that other 2% is making us, as a whole, a lot smarter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rule 34 vs. Rule 35 Explainer

Washington State Supreme Court
Our Washington State Supreme Court is considering two changes to its general rules with confusingly similar names and aims: GR ("General Rule") 34 and GR 35. The purpose of this explainer to summarize each so you can decide how you stand and make a helpful comment if you so choose.

Basically, it's about money, and under what circumstances a court can or will charge people for access to justice. One rule (34) provides a systematic option for judges to waive fee; the other (35) prohibits court clerks from imposing fees without going through a certain procedure.

Both rules have advocates for and against, and I'm not going to get into that save to say that money is a problem both for people seeking to use the legal system and for people who have to support the legal system. Here's the bare facts, and then some links to where you might find more.


GR 34

GR 35


GR 34 establishes the process by which judicial officers may waive civil filing fees and such other costs for which judicial officers have authority to grant a waiver.

GR 35 ensures that only those fees and charges that have been specifically authorized by statute or the Supreme Court will be assessed as a prerequisite to access to the judicial process.


GR 34
(a) Any individual, on the basis of indigent status as defined herein, may seek a waiver of filing fees or costs from a judicial officer in the applicable trial court.
(1) The application for such a waiver may be made ex parte in writing or orally, accompanied by a mandatory pattern form created by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) whereby the applicant attests to his or her financial status or, in the case of an individual represented by a qualified legal services provider (“QLSP”) or an attorney working in conjunction with a QLSP, a declaration of counsel stating that the individual was screened and found eligible by the QLSP.
(2) The court shall accept an application submitted in person, by mail and where authorized by local practices, electronic filing.  The process for presentation of the application shall conform to local court and clerk processes for presenting ex parte orders to the court directly or via the clerk.  All applications shall be presented to a judicial officer for consideration in a timely manner and in conformity with the local court’s established procedures.  There shall be no locally imposed fee for making an application.  The applicant or applicant’s attorney filing by mail, shall provide the court with a self-addressed stamped envelope for timely return of a conformed copy of the order.

This rule establishes the process by which judicial officers may waive civil filing fees and such other costs for which judicial officers have authority to grant a waiver.
(3) An individual who is not represented by a qualified legal services provider (as that term is defined below) or an attorney working in conjunction with a qualified legal services provider shall be determined to be indigent within the meaning of this rule if such person, on the basis of the information presented, establishes that:
(A)  he or she is currently receiving assistance under a needs-based, means-tested assistance program such as the following:
(i) Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF);
(ii) State-provided general assistance for unemployable individuals (GA-U or GA-X);
(iii) Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
(iv)  Federal poverty-related veteran’s benefits; or
(v) Food Stamp Program (FSP); or
(B)  his or her household income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty guideline; or
(C)  his or her household income is above 125% of the federal poverty guideline and the applicant has recurring basic living expenses (as defined in RCW 10.101.010(4)(d)) that render him or her without the financial ability to pay the filing fees and other fees or costs for which a request for waiver is made.
(D)  other compelling circumstances  exist that demonstrate an applicant’s inability to pay fees and/or costs.
(4)   An individual represented by a QLSP,  or an attorney working in conjunction with a QLSP that has screened and found the individual eligible for services, is presumptively deemed indigent when a declaration from counsel verifies representation and states that the individual was screened and found eligible for services.
(5)   As used in this rule, “qualified legal services provider” means those legal services providers that meet the definition of APR 8(e).

GR 35
Court clerks shall neither charge nor collect any fee or charge, except as authorized by statute or by the Supreme Court.

None (yet).


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Planted This Week - Ending March 14, 2010

  • Carrots - St. Valery. From the huge lot of heirloom seeds we ordered from Baker Creek, as are the items below unless otherwise noted.
  • Potatoes - Purple Fingerlings, from the West Seattle Farmer's Market. We had a good chat with the potato vendor, two guys who really seemed to like talk growing spuds. We have hopes of building a potato box to get lots of taties in a small space (see picture below, and read the article)
  • Oregano - Vulgare. These seeds are so very fine that I couldn't really tell, but I think I planted some.
  • Strawberries - Variety Unknown. These seedlings were from a potlach at the Mercer Island recycling center, which is now closed. RIP old friend! You served the community so well that the community demanded even more recycling; now there's curbside pickup of recycling so in a sense, you succeeded. But now what community gathering place will replace you?
  • Sunflower - Mongolian Giant. I figured I might as well get one started in a cup so as to get a headstart. The seeds are more than an inch long!

wheelbarrow holding waterA Word on Water

So far, all our plantings have been supported by water reused from dishwashing or captured from the sky in various ad hoc containers. I was turned on to this possibility by the accident of leaving a cooler outside with the lid up; one rainshower later and I had over a gallon of rainwater, utterly free.

I set out a few more containers and discovered that this can serve multiple purposes. First, Puget Sound Country is anticipating water difficulties later in the year because our snow pack is so low; a gallon saved today is a gallon we might want later. Second, runoff goes into our Puget Sound and in intense storms, it can overload the system, allowing untreated water into the wild, negatively impacting our fish and so on. Finally, I like to save money; water is cheap but if I can get it for free, why not?

I have not had time to get fancy with collecting rainwater yet, but anyone can see that our buildings' roofs act as natural rain collectors. I therefore positioned a few containers under the edges of unguttered eaves and, as common sense would tell you, collected far more than in more randomly positioned items. In the long run, I'll want to work out a guttering solution but let's take advantage of what we can.

This can't go on forever; when the mosquito season starts, that'll be an end to open containers. I hope that by that time, we will have moved into the Hummingbird House where improvements will be permanent, so I can experiment with attaching flexible bladders to downspouts, the reuse of clothing wash water, and so forth.

Thanks to my bloggy friend Small Footprints for suggesting writing about water conservation for the current Change the World Wednesday!

Potato Box

From the "TipNut" article "Grow 100 lbs. Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet: How To" comes a great diagram that really needs no explanation (but read the article anyway!).potato box
I love how this item can be built from found materials; you just start small and expand as needed, which is often a good design philosophy!