Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bus to the PBLAC Meeting

Today I hopped a bus downtown for a Pro Bono & Legal Aid Committee (PBLAC) meeting, at the Washington State Bar Association. I'm used to driving downtown and parking, and in theory the Committee will pay mileage and for parking; this would give me more control over . However, I was encouraged by Seattle In Motion to try to convert as many trips as possible to more sustainable methods; it's not just a good idea, it's also fun to try to play a little game that can net me free bus tickets as a prize!
The trip went pretty smoothly, and I caught up on my reading (I'm starting David Brin's The Transparent Society, ten years late but what the heck! it's still very relevant.)
The main subject of the meeting was some strategizing for WSBA's long-range planning. We'd gotten the materials yesterday, and when I reviewed them last night, the one thing that struck me was their use of vague language of the sort that has plagued the access to justice community at least as long as I've been around them - certainly in the last century! I snapped off a quick response in case something happened to get in the way of my attending:
"I have to say that a quick glance at these materials shows no measurable, meaningful goals: merely "enhancing" and "promoting" and similar weasel words. When you define a project by the expenditure of effort and not by the solution of problems, you cannot succeed. Why are we not setting "Closing the Justice Gap" as the central guiding principle from which all the rest hangs?"
I invested an hour or more this morning going over the material in more detail. There's a lot of specific and helpful work that could be done, but I didn't send any of that in. As it happens, that was o.k. because early in the meeting it turned out that much of what was sent us wasn't for comment; there was just the one item to work on. There were a few eyebrows raised at my message (e.g. the word "weasel"), but I put on my neutral face because, frankly, we're all grown-ups hear and blunt talk can be useful.
It turns out that some of the more long-term committee members also had concerns - not precisely those I had raised, but definitely consistent. We had a good discussion and I was gratified to see a good result, incorporating ideas about the Justice Gap and also broadened the focus from lawyers only to the broader legal profession (WSBA is the natural hub for the legal profession in Washington State; it's just silly that pro bono efforts don't systematically coordinate with paralegals etc.) It was definitely worth showing up in person; I'm not sure how this worked but it there was a lot of in-person nonverbal language that was very useful.
I was also happy to make a few connections between people and/or resources. In particular, when Andy Guy talked about the use of translators with the innovative Long Distance Lawyer program, I was able to point him to Seattle University's video on the use of interpreters; after the meeting I saw him talk with SU's Diana Singleton which may have just been a coincidence or it may have been the power of networking.
The bus trip back was just as convenient as the trip out. I could get spoiled!
Once home, I logged my trip on the Seattle In Motion website and saw I had only 1 more trip to go to be eligible for a few free bus tix. Perhaps Sunday?
I resumed my audit of the food supply, but it's going slowly: we have a lot in the fridge, and I can eat only so quickly!
Mom called to wish Ji a happy birthday - Dan has to be working out of town so it's up to us to provide birthday cheer!
Life is complicated, but it's also good!

This Is Spinal Tap, Er, Lumbar Puncture!

Today was my third visit to the Seattle VA Hospital as part of my participation in the UW Study "Effects of Simvastatin on CSF AD Biomarkers in Cognitively Normal Subjects" as a "healthy control". The earlier visits for for screening and some basic testing, both of memory and of blood, but today they wanted a sample of spinal fluid. This involves the dreaded "Spinal Tap" ...

...which I found out is not as bad as it used to be, for two reasons. First, it's now called a "Lumbar Puncture" (no umlauts) and second, they use a very slender needle so, with the help of Lidocaine, I didn't feel the procedure at all. I have a little soreness, and of course had to take it easy for a day to avoid headaches, but that's all. I wouldn't do it without a really good reason, but since I had a really good reason, it's o.k.

I use today's excursion as an excuse for not finishing my report on inventorying my food stocks, as promised last Sunday. The fine people at the Change the World Wednesday Challenge had expressed alarm when I didn't report back after a plunge into the pantry, but truth be told, I've been running around like a crazy man, between two brothers moving into town, science experiments, and what not. I'll give it another try tomorrow; in the meantime, I'm enjoying my status as a guinea pig for science!
If YOU'D be interested in trying to participate in some such experiment, you needn't start with anything this drastic. If you're in the Puget Sound area, you can choose from a variety of diseases at the UW's Healthy Volunteers Page; otherwise, may I suggest ClinicalConnection?
POSTSCRIPT: if you think a lumbar puncture is bad, think about this (from Saturday Morning Brekfast Cereal):

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Good News! We're Being Bought By Americans!

More Citizens United fallout:

Cameron Casey wanted to invest a million dollars in the Romney campaign and why not? He and Mitt were both scions of Bain Capital, which specializes in enriching its members by selling off America. Having a President overseeing the process could net a solid return!

But those pesky campaign finance laws limited Mr. Casey to a few thousand dollars. No problem! He incorporated "W. Spann LLC", gave it a million bucks; W. Spann LLC gave that million to "Restore Our Future"; and, no longer needed, W. Spann LLC dissolved.

I don't mind the Aristocracy buying our government so much as I object to their being so obvious about it. Can't we have a little subtlety?

But at least we can take comfort in knowing Mr. Casey is an actual human being, and not an entity such as General Dynamics, and an American, not a Saudi or Chinese billionaire.

Although ... they may be next! Why not?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

If You Love Some Broccoli, Set Them Free (from Plastic) - (#ctww)

It came to pass that a great Census of All The Food In The House was ordered, in response to this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:
This week, use what is in your cupboards, pantry, freezers, etc. before buying new food items.
This was, in itself, an interesting challenge but then...
"Harold Shaw is stepping up this challenge.  In his words "I would like to challenge the #CTWW group to take the time (I know that this is a busy time of year - most of us are harvesting some sort of crop or other) to do a written/computer inventory of the food stuffs you have, which will force you to actually look at what you have and then use up the stuff that should be used up this next week or soon, but if you discover food that is bad dispose of it properly before you buy new food. Remember the food you have designated for emergencies, doesn't count in this challenge.  To make it a little more interesting - that includes buying food to eat out for the next week".
This is truly a worthy challenge, both for environmental AND for economic reasons. What could be more thrifty, sensible AND forethoughtful than figuring out what you HAVE before you go looking for more?
The Plastic Decomposive
That Blew Up Our Veggies!
I decided to start with the fridge. I wanted a salad anyway, so I opened the salad drawers and took inventory.
Oops! We had multiple instances of veggies in plastic bags (clearly purchased before July's "no-plastics" challenge) that were now reverting to the primordial slime. It was sad to see such fine veggies were going to waste because of simple neglect, but the plastic sped up the damage by holding in moisture and making it harder to see what was inside.

I emptied the drawers, removed the plastic, composted what needed it and chopped much of the rest. What didn't go into the salad went back into the drawer, denuded of plastic bags.
What does it matter, really, if the radishes and celery roll together? As long as they're happy together and harming no-one, let's have some diversity!
The good news is that the quest was successful, with the addition of mixed greens from our garden, the chopped and rescued veggies made a great salad!
Tomorrow I tackle the pantry. If you don't hear from me in a week, call the police ... or possibly the National Guard!