Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

4freeCLE Techniques

The Sissor and the Dollar:
symbol of 4freeCLE's
characteristic bluntness
My hobbyblog 4freeCLE catalogs free continuing legal education, using a number of shortcuts to simplify the job. Here's my notes on the process to help me to remember and you to copy.

Monitoring
  • Gmail Reader - monitors a lot of sites that have RSS feeds
  • For the rest, there's a number of change-detection sites. I use http://www.changedetection.com/log/ but have no reason to think that others might not work just as well (subject to the usual caveats of internet hygiene: don't go along with any registration process that wants too much information.)
Publicizing
  • In the beginning, there was http://groups.yahoo.com/group/4freeCLE/. This is a stone-simple listserve with nice archiving ability - something very important to people looking to see what has been available, on the theory that it might become available again. Listserves that don't include easy archive access are missing a big chunk of functionality, but I've seen them done by people who should know better.
  • When blogs became popular, I added http://4freecle.blogspot.com/. I briefly experimented with automatically updating this blog from the listserve; it was straightforward to parameterize the blog to accept email additions (subject to certain security measures) and then add the blog's email address to the listserve. Unfortunately the posts often didn't look right; typically there was some signature trash or something at the end. Still, this was pretty convenient and perhaps I'll return to it someday. As it is, I simply "BCC" the blog when I email the listserve.
  • Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/4freeCLE was amazingly easy to set up. I never post there directly, but instead use TwitterFeed to automatically post whatever goes up on the blogspot. Every now and then I log into 4freeCLE/twitter so I can "follow" a few more lawyers; this will often get them to "follow" in return and help share the awesomeness that is 4freeCLE on Twitter.
Sharing the Work
With the number of people out there looking for free CLE, you might think there would be more people interested in contributing to a catalog - but there aren't. There are rather few people who actually submit their work to me to add;  I always encourage them to post directly but so far, no-one wants the responsibility. You can see the two or three entrepreneurial types who actually send stuff - that's why Ohio and California and the Washington State ACLU have an exceptional number of entries.

That's about it for now. If I think of something else, I'll add it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Turning Gold into Gold!

Weighing the gold
With gold prices above a thousand dollars an ounce (and with a very weak idea of how much an ounce weighs) I resolved to sell the ring from my 2nd marriage the next time I went by West Seattle Coins. Why not? I'm very happy with my third (!and final!) marriage and have no need of this relic from my second (!and worst!) one.  It has no artistic value (being a plain gold band, with "ludmila" in cyrillic carved on the inside) and I can think of something better to do with its cash value.

The process was pretty straightforward. There were a couple of people ahead of me, so I looked around at the shiny shiny coins in glass cases. If I were buying instead of selling, I'd have been mightily tempted!

When it got to be my turn, the actual sale itself took about 30 seconds. The guy weighed the ring, made me an offer, and paid in cash. My ring was way under an ounce and of course it wasn't pure gold, but I had a moment of disappointment at the price. Still, upon reflection, it seemed fair and I'm glad I took the money. The gold in the old ring means a lot less to me than the gold in my credit union account!

I would suggest before selling a ring from a past marriage, that you weigh it carefully and then use the google to get some idea of what gold is selling for (...keeping in mind you won't get the "Price Of Gold" since your item isn't pure, plus the shopkeeper has overhead.) If you have some idea of the money you may be getting, then you won't have to make a spot decision whether you're happy with the offer or not.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas From The Closet

Aunt Sugar suggested we do something special for Christmas this year: give as gifts things that have sat in the back of your closet for years.

This is a pretty brilliant idea. We have boxes and boxes of stuff accumulated over the years. Some of the boxes haven't been opened in three moves, which strongly suggests we can do without whatever's inside. Best of all, "Christmas from the Closet" promises to free up space that we can use for some other purpose.

Assuming, of course, that everyone else doesn't do the same!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Duff Yard

Duff is the natural soil of much of Puget Sound country.  According to a Puget Sound Action Team report, "Undisturbed sites in the Puget Sound Lowland area consist of up to 3.5 feet of forest duff soil." This soil is so unlike the garden soil I'm working to improve around the house that I'm told that Puget Sound had no red worms in the soil when Doc Maynard came to town; decomposition into soil was handled by a huge array of native bugs, such as earwigs.

This is the sort of knowledge that sits in the back of your head all your life until, suddenly, it connects with something else. I knew that forest soil was nothing like my yard and even had memories of the springy soil of old mountain forests, but didn't connect it to the needles and branches that our Big Front Tree was raining onto our front yard until recently.

I was raking the yard and got quite a pile of needles etc that I was hauling to the back through the narrow north yard, when I thought, "Why not leave some here?" The north yard is low, and over the course of a few years, I can bring it up level with the house windows to improve insultation, plus eliminate an unneeded step-down from the front yard. I poured the first few gallons out and thought nothing of it.

I gradually added to the pile and as it started spreading east, I decided to try making the entire north yard a duff yard. This would free me from some mowing, which is nice, but more importantly, it might improve the biodiversity of our little plot of land. I'm not sure what sort of microcritters prefer Puget Sound duff to a grass lawn, but there has to be something.

The photo shows the results so far. Interestingly enough, the color scheme reminds me of the bark chips that some people like to put down in lieu of grass. However, bark chips are no fun to walk on, whereas this needle duff has the comfortable springiness I remember from camping.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

From the Garden: You Can Beet This!

Today I harvested our beets and was quite pleased with the results. We'd started with a small pot of beet starts from Village Green, and planted them rather too close to the tomatoes (in general, I planted everything too closely this year - I'd expected at least half of everything to die off, and that didn't happen) so they were heavily shaded most of the growing season. Still, the beets put out a lot of leaves so I had hopes for some greens anyway.
It turns out the roots had grown as well, enough to be the foundation of a nice soup. We added various other roots, plus bressels sprouts, to make hearty winter vegetarian chow!

We'll definitely half to plant more beets next year; they were very little work and made some satisfying food despite the crowding. The green-and-purple plants are also quite attractive!

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