Saturday, March 02, 2013

Sawdust And Seedlings

Cabbage Gone to Seed
Today Kris and I decided to work at home. I put in some time putting some seeds in for the garden, in the process pondering what to do with the pods put out by the cabbage I let go to seed.

Seeding for Seedlings
The pods seem to have little blacks seeds in them; some of the pods were open with some of the seeds apparently missing; I don't know what sort of creature did this but it doesn't seem to have had an enormous hunger for the cabbage seeds since a great many of them were left.
I planted a bunch of the pods and a few loose seeds in a wooden box of dirt to see if they'll sprout. I also started 5 saucers of herbs to be transplanted when they get big, and a bunch of tomatoes and marigolds - hopefully they'll grow nicely together when they get big!
Branch Of Cabbage Pods
I then went over to my brother Dan's to experiment with the new woodchipper. His neighbor had 3 or 4 balks of lumber that had sat out for years, covered in tarps that gradually tore; water got in and nature had her way. With the neighbor's permission, we were hoping to salvage enough lumber to work on Dan's garage and my shed. We started sorting last week, but found that most of it was rubbish. There seems to be at least four different ways that rot, mold or bugs can take apart of 2x4, just from what we saw. However, this was a clue that the wood was not treated with any preservative; the natural processes of biology were well underway returning the wood to the soil.
One Big Cabbage Pod
The first idea was to truck the garbage wood to the dump; it wasn't doing anyone any good where it's sitting. But that can be expensive, something like $120 a ton. Also, it violates the principle of Dispose On Site which, when practiced prudently, can minimize costs in a most frugal way!
But then I had a thought: let's make wood chips out of it for mulching! I wouldn't touch it if this were pressure-treated wood, but this was obviously just the straight stuff and pretty harmless.
We researched woodchippers. No-one I knew had one and they rented for a few hundred bucks. Dan noticed Harbor Freight had some on sale: an electric model, and a large gas-powered model. The electric was about $30 cheaper but noticeably smaller. I didn't want to go with gas-powered, because they are notoriously polluting; I figured I didn't mind doing the extra work needed with the smaller machine because, after all, I need the exercise and I wasn't doing this for pay. Dan went along with the idea and picked up the machine; we're splitting the cost and figure it's pay for itself on our various projects over the years.

Dan and the Disassembly Line
When I got to his house this morning, he had been experimenting with the machine. The maximum diameter it handles is an inch-and-a-quarter, which is a lot smaller than the 2x4s and 2x6s we were dealing with. He'd hacked some with a hatchet, which sort of works but is very slow. He pondered a minute, and then we brought out his saw. Now we had a disassembly line going: he sawed the boards down to 1-inch wide, I fed them through the chipper.
It's not a fast process but we made good progress. In an hour or two we had 10 cubic feet of wood chips, maybe $20 worth. That may be a lot of work to save $20 but remember, we also saved on garbage fees, and much of the time was spent in learning the process. The chips look great on the lawn!
The End: Wood Chips!
I learned a bit about using a woodchipper, most of which was interpreting its behavior so as to avoid clogs. The sound and the stuff coming out the bottom provides plenty of clues as to whether to hurry things up or to back off. And remember: safety first!
Another thing I learned was that if a 2x6 is rotten enough, you really can tear it apart with your gloved hands. This results in an acceptable mulching substance, sort of like wood gravel, that doesn't have to bother passing through the chipper.
It is indeed unfortunate that so much good lumber has been lost, but it is personally satisfying (and monetarily helpful!) to find this second and terminal use for it.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

William Booker Welcomed Into the VA System - A Success Story

William Booker Arrives
At Seattle VA Hospital
Yesterday  (February 27, 2013) the staff at the Seattle VA Hospital welcomed Mr. William Booker, one of the last of our Tuskegee Airmen, as he went with his family through the process of getting the VA Photo ID needed to access its resources.
Until earlier this month, Mr. Booker was having difficulty gaining access to the VA system. As blogged earlier, when making inquiries as to his eligibility, his wife Dolores had been told that their income exceeded the statutory cut-off. This didn't seem right but what could they do? Rules are rules.
As it turned out, when the Booker family tried again with the help of volunteers from Veterans and Friends of Puget Sound (yes, we are boasting ;-)   we discovered that Mr. Booker's medical expenses should have been subtracted from his pension income in determining whether he met the qualifications. With this small correction, he easily qualified. A couple of weeks ago, the Booker family, our volunteers and the VA Hospital eligibility staff worked together to get the appropriate forms filled out correctly and into the system, all right and tight.
Today (February 27, 2013) Mr. Booker arrived at the Seattle VA Hospital to get his photo ID. The parking lot was very busy, but the valet service made it possible for him to disembark in his wheelchair and enter the facility, while the valets took care of the family van. He, his family and a couple of volunteers went to the eligibility determination station on the first floor, where it didn't take long to get his picture taken.
Next, our little party took the elevator by the entrance to go to the 2nd floor to make an appointment for his initial medical checkup. As you exit the elevator, you pick a number from the machine to establish your place in line; there are four categories of visit so make sure you pick the correct category and push the correct button, so you get the right number.
I 'm not mentioning any staff members' names in this blog post, because I didn't ask them. Yes, the 1st amendment and all that means that I could list what I saw on their nametags, but isn't it best to ask first? especially since they were all being so darn helpful. They know who they are and their efforts were greatly appreciated!
We waited about 10 minutes in the 2nd floor lobby, which didn't seem bad considering that we were category "B" - unscheduled visit. The interview was in an office with a door that closed for patient privacy, and the staff member gave us all the time we needed to answer questions - and you can believe that we had multiple questions! Due to the high volume of demand, there was about a five week delay for the initial checkup, but the staffer explained that if something came up in the meantime, he could go directly to the VA Hospital's ER for help.
Afterwards, our party went to the 1st floor to meet a Patient Advocate, because it can be helpful for family members who may be advocating for the veteran to know who they're talking to, and vice versa. While the family was discussing Mr. Booker's situation with one of the advocates, an Assistant Director stopped on the way by and welcomed them.
On the way out, the guards at the front desk suggested Mr. Booker wait inside the building, where it was warmer, while the valet went to get the van. They, along with everyone else we met today, were quite welcoming and seemed pleased to have met Mr. Booker.
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One lesson to take from this story: when in doubt, apply for benefits. If you or your family member might qualify, get the form and fill it out.  It's o.k. to use a screening checklist to give you ideas as to what to apply for, but do not try to figure out yourself if you qualify; do not let someone else try to figure out if you qualify; let the system figure whether you qualify. Remember that the Bookers could have gotten successfully enrolled into the system, and gotten the help that they had earned, much earlier if only they had known. It looks like they will be taken care of from this point, but there must be other veterans in similar situation who don't know they qualify for VA help that they earned through their service.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The More You Molpus

If you're looking for how a real classy comedian handles stuff, look at Jon Stewart's apology and correction to Dick Molpus .

Stewart screwed up, apologized on the air for an entire segment, and mocked himself relentlessly for it. It's both funny and instructive.
Molpus should be a word for doing the right thing even at personal risk; watch the segment if you want to know why.
And while you're at it, read the "Remarks By Secretary of State Dick Molpus" that got Molpus the death threats Stewart mentions; it'll make you proud to be a member of the same species as him.

Monday, February 25, 2013

First Primroses of 2013

Front-Yard Primroses February 2013
Primroses are hardy and pretty. I like them to fill in places that grass might otherwise grow, such as around the base of our clothesline. We have a couple blooming now even though it's still February.
One question: what is nibbling on the petals and leaves? It's too cold for bugs, but I see several kinds of small birds hopping around picking at the soil. Maybe they like a little salad on the side.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter! February 24, 2013

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter!
February 24, 2013
In This Issue
Webcast CLE
On-Demand CLE
In California
In Massachusetts
In Minnesota
In New York
In Ohio
In Pennsylvania
In Texas
In Washington State
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Webcast CLE
Susan Helms in space
Enjoy CLE In The Comfort Of Your Space Station!
Highest quality speakers will come to your living room or office through the miracle of modern technology!
Find more webcasts at 4freeCLE's Web-Based CLE.
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IBM Tape Drives
Recordings Provide Instant Education When You Need It!
Need an introduction to a new area of law? Try free, on-demand CLE!
Find more on-demand programs at 4freeCLE's List of On-Demand CLE. If you're looking for help with a particular state, contact the publisher - we can help!

In-Person CLEs State-by-State
Painting of Lawyers
Meet & Train With Colleagues!
Many of these in-person programs are are eligible for credit in the states in addition to those in which they are held.
 
California
Massachusetts
Minnesota
New York
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Texas
Washington
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