Saturday, September 15, 2018

Share Beauty

Every workday morning, on the bus, I share a photo of something beautiful to my Facebook friends. Often it's a flower I see on the walk to the bus stop, sometimes it's my cats or something I saw on the weekend (like these blossoms). A beauty break in the morning is refreshing. Throughout the day my friends thank me with their "like"s. The shocking and the bad feel urgent and are easy to share; we must remember to do the same with the beautiful and the fulfilling.

Manafort Sings!

I don't put a lot of politics in my newsfeed, but this is special...

Friday, September 14, 2018

Blue Skies

Today our skies in Seattle are grey and drizzly, but just last week they were blue like this. Good luck to our friends in the storm, the blue skies will return.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fall Crocusses

These little beauties are all over this time of year.

Angus King on Kavanaugh

Senator Angus S. King, Jr. — US Senator for Maine
I consider the vote the Senate is about to take on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court to be among the most important my colleagues and I will ever face. Unlike most of our decisions, which can be amended, repealed, or otherwise corrected over time, this is a one-time vote on a lifetime appointment which will likely profoundly affect our country for the foreseeable future. There are no do-overs or second chances on this one; each of us, including the people of Maine, will have to live with the consequences of this vote for years to come.
For this reason, I have spent a great deal of time and energy on this decision; I have read many of his opinions, attended a substantial portion of his recent hearing (even though I am not a member of the Judiciary Committee), read every article on his background I can find, talked to my colleagues (in both parties), and listened to the views of thousands of Maine people, both in communications to my office and direct conversations over the past two months.
After this intensive process, I have determined that I cannot support this nomination; here’s why:
1. There is too much is at stake. In the near future, the Supreme Court will face cases involving reproductive and other privacy-related rights, health care (including the future of the Affordable Care Act), environmental protection, voting rights, campaign finance, and consumer protection, among others. And in connection with all these issues, Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates that he subscribes to an overly rigid judicial philosophy (as demonstrated by his longtime membership in the Federalist Society) which would allow the states great leeway in narrowing the personal liberty protections afforded by a long line of Supreme Court cases, including Roe v. Wade. (He may not vote directly to repeal Roe – though I think his record indicates that he will – but he will almost certainly vote to whittle away its protections, leaving not much more than a hollow shell.) Additionally, according to this philosophy, he appears ready to narrow and restrict the powers of the national government to secure voting rights, control partisan gerrymandering, reform campaign finance, promote greater access to healthcare, or protect the environment. For example, he has ruled that the EPA cannot limit air pollution crossing state lines, a decision with a profoundly negative impact upon Maine given our geographic location at the end of the nation’s tailpipe.
2. Presidential power and his non-recusal. Judge Kavanaugh’s prior public statements indicate that he has a very broad view of presidential power and that he questions whether a sitting president can even be investigated, let alone indicted or compelled to testify in a criminal proceeding. These are difficult questions upon which reasonable people can differ, but given these statements (and his steadfast refusal to clarify his views on this point during his hearing before the Judiciary Committee), the circumstances surrounding his appointment, and the distinct possibility that such questions may come before the Court sooner rather than later, the necessity of recusal, in my view is, obvious and mandatory, and his failure to commit to do so is extremely troubling.
The Code of Conduct for United States Judges states that “a judge should avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety in all activities.” (Emphasis added). The reason for this is simple; the Code goes on to say that “A judge…should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” It’s hard to imagine anything more likely to undermine public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary than a newly-minted Justice Kavanaugh ruling in favor of the president who appointed him (quite possibly being the deciding vote) on questions involving that same president’s legal liability.
3. The documents (or lack thereof). Imagine you are interviewing a candidate for a key job in your company and he tells you that you can only see 10% of his prior work product—and that that 10% is going to be hand-picked by one of his old friends. (Oh, and did I mention that once you hire him, he can never be fired?) If this sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is; and yet this is exactly the position we are in with Brett Kavanaugh. Yes, we have his decisions in his current role as an appeals court judge, but his extensive written record in high level positions in the White House remains largely in the dark, for no good reason.
And it’s this last point that keeps nagging me; why are these documents being withheld? The only valid excuse would be national security, but there is no assertion that this is a factor in this case. Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that his proponents may be hiding something; either they are afraid there is a bombshell in his record, or, quite possibly, they know it. And the haste with which this process is being conducted only heightens this suspicion.
4. His answers (or lack thereof) at the hearing. Voting on a Supreme Court nominee is an exercise in predicting the future; we are all trying to get some idea as to what kind of judge he or she will be – and since a large portion of Judge Kavanaugh’s prior work (other than his appellate court opinions) seems to be off-limits, his hearing was the next logical place to look when seeking to learn how he thinks and might approach the difficult questions the Court is sure to face during his tenure. Unfortunately, the hearing produced virtually nothing in this regard. Saying Roe v. Wade is a precedent, for example, (which he said repeatedly) is a statement of fact, but provides no insight whatsoever into whether Judge Kavanaugh thinks it was properly decided or should be repealed or modified. In one memorable exchange with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, he even refused to confirm that his prior speeches and writing represented what he actually thinks. C’mon.
5. When in doubt, follow the (dark) money. A large part of my concern, as outlined above, is the difficulty in determining what Judge Kavanaugh really thinks. The withholding of most of his record, his evasiveness at his hearing, and his failure even to acknowledge his past statements, all leave us to guess what kind of judge he will make (although the outlines, as noted above, seem pretty clear). And spare me, please, the “umpire just calling balls and strikes” routine; deciding whether a state law severely restricting reproductive rights is “unduly burdensome”, for example – which he will almost surely have to do – is a value-laden judgement call, not some mechanical application of easily defined criteria.
But the deeply conservative dark money groups investing millions in those glossy TV ads we are seeing about what a nice guy he is know exactly what they are getting, and it’s not balls and strikes. The existence of this campaign probably tells us more about what kind of judge he will be than any opinion, speech, or Senate testimony.
As I began, there is no second chance on this, and given the stakes as well as what we do know of his record, I have no choice but to vote no.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Longfellow Creek Tree Gate

I have seen this entrance to Longfellow Creek Trail for years, but only just now noticed that along with actual trees in the background, it forms the image of a tree.

Monday, September 10, 2018

In My Neighborhood

My neighborhood has a lot of nice creative gardens.
I used to go by this one the way to the bus stop before I discovered a closer stop.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Late summer bee with pollen saddlebags

Late summer on Longfellow Creek trail the bees are still working!

Walk About Longfellow Creek (part one)

Today I walked the south end of the Longfellow Creek trail - maybe a quarter mile, starting at Westwood Village. It was short but a nice bit of nature in the city.

Maybe next weekend I'll walk the northern leg - it's much longer!

Saturday, September 08, 2018

I've been working out

It's been a couple of months now that I've been doing yoga every morning except Saturdays (when I go to the Y for an 8:15 class). Here we see results (photo taken during Site Training Day at work)

Friday, September 07, 2018


A bumper crop of Hawthorne, on the walk to my bus. — in Seattle, Washington.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Labor Day Pay Freeze Impact

On this beautiful Labor Day weekend, let me draw your attention to Trump's announcement canceling cost-of-living adjustments for federal workers on the basis of financial emergency.

This affects you and people you care about in several ways.

1. The office I work in is understaffed because the federal government does not offer competitive wages. Every work day I help 20-30 people and one of their most common complaints is that they had to wait on hold for too long. I totally agree. If we were fully staffed their wait would be shorter and my office would serve a lot more people each day.

However, inflation is restarting thanks in part to Trump's trade war imposing import taxes [tariffs]. Inflation means my real wages are falling. Personally, I may have to move to the private sector where they pay market rate. That's 20-30 people every day who would not get the service they deserve. Officewide, I don't see how we will be able to be fully staffed since there are plenty of better paying jobs out there.

The immediate impact on each individual that I serve is only that they wait on the phone longer or not get their call answered, which may be a sacrifice you're willing to make. But, in dollars-and-cents terms, it's irrational to be understaffed because my office generates income by settling debts and making payment arrangements. In the private sector, this would be called a "profit center" and what happens to private sector organizations that starve their profit centers?

2. Consider the other federal workers whose jobs affect you more intimately - like at our local VA Hospital, which is short hundreds of staffers. I'm not exaggerating: hundreds short locally and nationwide thousands short, and mostly because they can't offer competitive wages.
Why would you take a nursing job or a janitorial job where you are paid less? There are lots of hospitals around here paying more, so how can the VA Hospital fill their slots?
If you think a janitor at a hospital should not be paid well, you have never mopped up body fluids, or been a patient around a body fluid spill. You really want to be a patient where that stuff stays on the floor one minute longer than necessary?
Tell me: do you think eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment will help with that?

3. Think about the mechanism Trump used.

He created an emergency with his trillion-dollar tax cut and then declared that because of an emergency he can do what he wants.

You may love Trump.

You may feel that I am paid too much and that anyone supporting a family should stop working in the federal government.

You may decide that cutting the level of service at the VA hospital is the way to MAGA, right?

But do you really want a government that creates an emergency, then uses that emergency to do whatever it wants?

Is that really a good idea to you?

Is that really America?

Enjoy Labor Day.  I'm union and we brought that to you

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Sunflower in its Splendor

A very fun flower to grow from seed!

Part 121G

I went to O'Reilly Auto Parts Website, searching for part "121G ". They were out of stock. Anybody got a spare?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Me hat

This is from a few weeks ago, when it first got to be hot. The hat is supposed to protect my tender cheeks!

Indoor garden

My experiment with an indoor strawberry plant is a success. The cats ignore it and it looks nice.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Space Law

SPACE LAW: There's still time to register for Monday's webcast featuring Joanne Gabrynowicz, director of the International Institute of Space Law. 1.5 CLE Credit Hours.

HOPS are on the way!

Growing by my side patio

Basement Week

I took a week off work to clear my basement so I can rent it out. With that additional income I will be financially secure. I have succeeded in sorting every cardboard box but still have tubs to process, plus Kiara's gear to pack and ship, and about four cases of photos to scan, upload and discard. This is a major undertaking for I have accumulated all my life (I have ephemera from St. Ed's and even a few photos from Volasuca!) It takes a great effort to move on some of this stuff. Donating anything useful feels good; the "Mary's Place" homeless shelter gets a lot, and St. Vinny's. Many of the books I'm taking to Pegasus; they donate anything they don't buy. Magazines and books still readable but not of resellable quality go to the VA Free Library. A few things are up for sale on Facebook; I've made $10 or $20 cash, not enough to make up for the ending of my Amazon sales but Amazon was no longer profitable so it's not really a loss. Some things are recycled. That's important too. I am not going to complete the process by Sunday night but I am well enough along that it is going to sustain itself by habit. Like my morning yoga, once I repeat something often enough it becomes a habit which is more important in the long run than an unsustainable push.

Arthur Nails It!

If you can judge a cat's health by the length of his claws, Arthur leaping on my shoulder may live forever!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sherry, John and Ellan

I don't remember what this was about but it looks like we were having fun. I hope!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Smokestorm today

Well, now I know why it smells like something's burning: too much of Eastern Washington is on fire. I'll be ok because I've got great filters on my heat pump (which running in reverse does AC) but what is going to be the impact on people in rental housing, and of course wildlife, and oh yeah Eastern Washington?


I'm cleaning out my basement and passing on ephemera. This surfaced:
I knew my sister Ellen Winnie was talented in the arts, but I didn't know she was published

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Every Picture Tells a Story

I'm not longer into brewing, but a neighbor is and gave me some homemade jam in exchange yay!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A neighbor's dahlia

Everyone enjoys the flowers planted on parking strips. Perhaps they should be renamed "Planting Strips"

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Berry Near The Bus

Near the bus stop. These seem to ripen near the top of the bush first; the lower down ones are still green. Perhaps it's a matter of light.

Monday, August 13, 2018