Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Saluting The Speechless

Yesterday at the VA Hospital I was working with a client. He was there with two family members, I was with another volunteer from Veterans And Friends of Puget Sound, and jointly we were shepherding this elderly veteran through the process of getting the basic exam necessary for medical assistance there.
He was certainly deserving; he was a member of The Greatest Generation and I won't go into the details, for the point of my story was this: he could no longer speak or write. Communication was difficult. It seemed as if he had lost mental function, and it's hard to tell whether he had, for his hearing was not the best either. People around him typically spoke of him in the third person; there seemed little point in speaking to him since he could not respond and it was not clear that he understood anyway.
This changed when one doctor was told that the client was hard of hearing. The doctor started giving directions in a loud voice: "Can you raise your right hand? Can you give me a thumbs' up with your left hand?" and so forth. The client did all that, subject to some restrictions obviously of a physical nature. It became apparent to me that he was mentally alert to a significant extent.
I didn't know what to do about that. I made an effort thereafter to speak loudly into his ear where we were going next, "We need to get a blood draw, is that all right?" But it is hard to keep this in mind, when the responses are minimal. The responses were there, but they were purely physical and difficult to feel as communication.
Then it happened. We were in a waiting area and, as often happens, struck up a minor conversation with another waiting person. When that person left, he looked straight at the client and gave him a salute. The client gave him a relatively sharp salute right back.
This nonverbal message communicated a lot: respect, presence, interaction, normalcy. It is a part of the military culture that was important to him. It was something he could do and feel good doing, and in the process receive the respect he merited.
For the rest of the visit, I made a point of encouraging those present to give him the salute. He always responded. After we loaded him into his vehicle to be taken home, I faced him and did what I have not done since the Boy Scouts: gave my best salute. He returned it with firmness.
There is nothing more to say.

You Are Here, And So Am I

New information about our Milky Way galaxy shows yet more features, but the basic lesson is the same: we really aren't that far apart.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Satellite Parking Enforcement Work System (SPEWS) Tickets

SEATTLE - Today Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn of Seattle announced the implementation of an advanced satellite-based system for detecting cars that have overstayed their parking meters.
The functioning of Satellite Parking Enforcement Work System Tickets (SPEWS-Tickets) is simple: every 15 minutes, a surplus Russian EBYUTEBYA spy satellite transmits a photo of the Seattle area to a computer center on Queen Anne Hill. Advanced photoanalysis software scans each parking space in the city and characterizes it as either empty or occupied by a vehicle further characterized by color, length and width. Any vehicle found in the same location for more than 3 hours has overstayed its parking meter, and an enforcement officer sent a Twitter message to go issue a ticket.
Critics complain the the system is vulnerable to error, especially in a city filled with small blue sedans and oversized black pickup trucks. If you leave you parking space on time and the next car in the space is close in size and color, the system may decide the 2nd car is a scofflaw. Supporters, however state that such a coincedence would be rare and, in any event, no ticket issues until an officer has manually checked the parking chit manually.
Southcenter Mall is considering a similar system, but with a different purpose. "We want to identify empty parking space so we can direct customers to them" said a spokesman, "At present, shoppers have to park as far away as Auburn or even Federal Way, and sometimes get lost walking to our mall. We aim to fix that."
A spokesman from the Mayor's office was not available for comment.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter! March 31, 2013

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter!
March 31, 2013
In This Issue
Webcast CLE
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In California
In District of Columbia
In Florida
In Massachusetts
In Minnesota
In New York
In Ohio
In Pennsylvania
In Utah
In Washington
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Starring: Leo McKern
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Is Mayflower, AR officials unconstitutionally barring press from covering spill?

Reportedly this is a backyard picture of the Mayflower, AR oil spill on that Exxon pipeline. The local authorities have denied the press access to these areas. A pilot needs to overfly the area and take pictures ... or at least check satellite imagery please!!