Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And a Happy Snow Day to All, and to All a Good Day!

It is our first snow-day of the season! And I'm glad they finally closed things -- I went out to get my paper and promptly fell on my butt. This is definitely not a good day to go anywhere in a car. It's supposed to continue snowing through tomorrow, which is no doubt when they will finally decide to do something about the roads. They usually don't do anything until after it stops snowing.

The puppies are loving it. Betsy still is trying to eat all of the snow. I'm not sure why, but apparently, it's more fun than just drinking water. She eats chunks of ice, too. Oh, and Adagio gets to come live with us after the holidays! Her family is moving, and they can't take him with them. I was going to hold off before getting Betsy another puppy to play with, but I can't let them put Adagio in a shelter. They're such good buds, they'd miss each other a lot if they were separated. Adagio's been staying over the past week in an effort to get them used to living with each other.

It seems to be going fairly well. Betsy's still getting used to the idea that Adagio is now allowed in the house. There haven't been actual fights, but Betsy's making a concerted effort to keep me to herself. If I pay attention to Adagio, especially in the house, she will try to start a game with him to get him outside. She then sneaks back in, while he's outside. This is getting less, though. Adagio doesn't seem to mind this at all. He does whatever Betsy wants him to. He's so easy-going, he'll let Betsy chew on his ears all day, so long as he gets his head patted on occasion! That's a retriever for you! So far, my solution is to call Adagio over to me and give him pats, and if Betsy interferes, both dogs go behind the gate in the kitchen. They come in when both are calm and Betsy's allowed Adagio back through the dog door. If Betsy does not interfere, both dogs get pats. If they are both lying quietly in the same room with me, I periodically give individual pats.

Adagio has also been getting some remedial training. He's surprisingly good in the house, for as much time as he's spent outside. He is house trained, and does not get on furniture, nor does he steal things off counters or tables. His main problem is that he just gets so excited about everything, especially human contact! He knows "sit," so he'll sit at you until you pet him. By this, I mean he sits so close to you that if you're not careful, your knees will buckle. He pushes with his head, and prances all four feet (a strange sight, while he's sitting!). If this fails to get your attention, he jumps up, and actually pushes at you with his forefeet. In an approximately 60-65 pound dog, this is not good. (Yes, he outweighs Betsy by a fair amount, but they're about the same height. Betsy weighs under 50 lbs.) So Adagio and I have been working on the jumping up, and it is getting better. Ignoring him is the easiest way: when calm, he gets pats. When excited, he does not! He's not stupid, he's figuring it out. Anything for attention!

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Liberalism and Knitting

No, there is nothing connecting these topics together, other than I happen to have been thinking about them both a lot lately. Perhaps if I were an English professor, I would be able to come up with something that links these two ideas together. But since I'm not, I won't try.

I've been wondering for a while now, when did the word "liberal" become "bad"? I mean the word "liberal" means open-handed and generous, not literal or strict, according to Merriam-Webster. But all I seem to be hearing about for the past election cycle is how horrible it is to be liberal: how liberals are pro-abortion and even pro-death. Now I've known many, many people in my lifetime who identify themselves as "liberal," politically. But, I know of not one person who thinks abortion is a "good" thing to do. No one recommends everyone have one. And as for "pro-death," isn't it those horrible liberals who oppose the death penalty? Oppose the war in Iraq? Even try to save such things as tree-frogs and spotted owls? All as a result of their dislike of death. It is my opinion that it is myopic, and even mean-spirited to say that anyone is "pro-death," regardless of your opinion of another's view of the death penalty, abortion, or the tree-frog.

Personally, I am opposed to abortion: I believe it to be a sin, immoral, and I believe life begins at conception. However, as I do not run the world (and I have no wish to), I recognize that not everyone will agree with me. Scientists and doctors cannot agree on when life begins! And, as my belief regarding this comes from the Bible, I do not feel that I am in a position to impose my views regarding this upon others. I certainly do not believe it is the place of the government of this country to impose its views on this either, especially not when based primarily on religious philosophy. So, yes, I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. Both.

This country needs liberals. Without liberals, schools could still legally be segregated, the Voting Rights Act would not have been passed, it would be perfectly legal to discriminate against a person because of their race in private establishments, and none but the first ten amendments to the Constitution would be in existence. All were the results of "activism," and flew in the face of strict adherence to the letter of the law, then in existence. However, change for the sake of it is not good in government, either. You can't be changing the Constitution every ten minutes on a whim, and the Court cannot decide to depart from the current law, "just because." It would create the most unstable government in the world!

So, yes, this country needs conservatives, as well, to hold back and say, "Look! This is the Constitution, and this is why these things were put in there in the first place! This is what our country was founded upon." But keeping things the way they always have been, just because "this is the way it's always been" is a danger as well. Nothing makes me more angry about office procedure than the following conversation: "Why do we do this in this way?" "Because it's the way we've always done it." "But wouldn't it be more efficient to do it this other way?" "Sure." "Then, why can't we do it that way, instead?" "Because we've always done it this way." We need both parties in government. Liberal and conservative. We need the liberals trying to move forward and change things all the time, and conservatives trying to hold things the way they are. This way, we never get too far ahead too fast, but yet when change is needed, it can be done.
End of sermon: Now the knitting! These are my July and September socks!

Here's a better view of the green ones, so you can see the pattern, hopefully.

Now, I'm all excited about my winter project: a fisherman's sweater. Cozy and cabley. I got a really light caramel color brown for it. (I only paid around $25 for the yarn!) And, it's the kind of pattern that lets you figure out measurements and shaping and stuff for yourself! I'm thrilled.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans' Day!

One of the perks of working "in government" is that you get random days off work: Veterans' Day, for example. So today, Betsy and I had our yearly vet appointment to update her rabies, bordatella, and parvo shots (I think there are a couple more in there, too); test her for heart worm; get more chewies; and an all-around check-up. She's apparently in excellent health -- her temp was a little high, due to excitement, and her heart rate was somewhat low. The vet attributed the heart rate to her "athletic" lifestyle. While I'm not particularly athletic, with the exception of a daily walk and an occasional hike, Betsy is. She plays and runs randomly around until she simply collapses. Every moment not playing is wasted, according to her! When she was teeny-tiny, she'd be so sleepy by bed-time that she would sit there in her crate swaying back and forth trying to stay awake! And today at the vets, she made friends with all the techs and one of the other canine patients. She tried to make friends with a large German Shepherd, but he was a little large and loud. She was a little frightened of him, and he wasn't so much in the mood to make friends. No one still has any clue what breeds she might be comprised of, although everyone I've asked about it is pretty sure there's either Australian Shepherd or Border Collie or both in there somewhere. The face, ears, body-size and behavior make that pretty clear. Everything she does screams "I am a herding dog!"
So, after the vets, I had lunch with a friend, went shoe-shopping, grocery shopping, and bought another video game. It was the most efficient shoe-shop I've ever had. In and out in 15 minutes, with two pairs of shoes. I generally hate shoe-shopping, but if it was like that every time, I'd do it more often! It was definitely time, too. My tennis-shoes are 13 years old! (But they are so comfortable! Who needs treads?)
Oh, and a couple weekends ago Adagio re-appeared. I discovered this upon going to investigate a huge commotion of thumping going on at the back door, and I saw two fluffy dog-heads in the dog-door. Eventually, they sorted out who was to come in first (which was what the problem was, apparently) so here's the both of them, panting up a storm, both with soggy chewed-on ears. And yes, Betsy's nearly as tall as Adagio now, but weighs somewhat less. Sadly, Adagio's latest escape resulted in the neighbors finding it necessary to lock her in an ex-pen with a piece of plywood for a floor (so she can't dig out, presumably) during the day. Normally, I'd say that's not so bad, but there's a doghouse in there, in addition to their other dog, making for not much room. Plus, it can't be comfy for a dog to have to "potty" on plywood so close to her bed. However, just as I finished the last sentence, Betsy went over to sit at the baby gate, intensely interested, and I hear this surreptitious "clink, clink." Lo and behold Adagio has come in my dog door, all the way across my house, looking for Betsy! I took down the gate to let Betsy out, and they both went straight outside for their romp. What fun!! I'm now going to try out my new game.

Monday, November 03, 2008

If I Won the Lottery

I think everyone must think about this from time to time: What would you do if you did not have to work for a living? If you could do anything you wanted, without regard for the cost, what would it be?

My answer is probably quite unique: I'd go back to school! Not to "better myself," necessarily, but to learn stuff. I'd get a masters in history, and maybe a doctorate. American history, probably focusing on either the civil war or the decades between 1917, when we entered World War I and the end of 1941, when we entered World War II. And I'd probably want to teach some classes. Probably high-school or college.

Why in the world do I want to study history? I'm not entirely sure. All I know is that I find it interesting. I don't think memorizing a bunch of dates and places is interesting -- so many people seem to teach history badly. History is not about that. History also isn't about minutia, either: it's not this corps of that army occupied that hill, and this other army sent these guys in this formation to take it with these types of guns, and there were this many thousand casualties. That's not history either. History is about humanity. The decisions people make while they are suffering. Have you noticed that those dates people memorize are always about when horrible things were happening? When you learn your dates in ninth-grade history, it's always about "December 6, 1941 was the bombing of Pearl Harbor" or "October whatever-it-was in 1929 was Black Tuesday the stock-market crashed and began the Depression." The events one learns about are usually incredibly difficult times that shaped those times that came afterward.

What I find interesting about history is how people of those times responded to the crises in which they found themselves: from the small to the great. Some despaired, others made momentous decisions that changed the course of events for better or worse, and yet others simply survived -- living on from day to day as best they could. I think that's why I find the American Civil War intriguing. Those four years -- April 1861 until April 1865 were crucial in shaping our country: probably more crucial than any other event in this country's history, with the exception of the drafting and signing of the Constitution. This country, itself, was tested more than it has ever been before or since. People don't think about it now, but had things turned out differently, we would not have a Federal Government, it would likely be more of an advisory board that coordinates the supreme governments of the States. People would not now have bumper stickers on their cars about "Proud to be an American." It would be "Proud to be a Virginian" or a Rhode Islander, or a Wyoming-ite? Each state would have decided for itself whether to go to Europe during World War I, rather than the U.S. Congress. There would be no federal taxes, nor federal programs.

But unlike the Constitution, the Civil War directly affected the lives of every single person alive in this country. From the end of slavery to food shortages to the massive percentage of men in this country who were away from their families for four years and returned ever-changed, if at all. Everyone felt the impact of war. And one of the most exciting things to a historian, if I may be so bold, is that so many people wrote about it. They wrote diaries and letters. Those that couldn't write often had others write letters to family members for them. Soldiers would dictate to their more literate fellows heartfelt letters to wives, sweethearts, sisters and mothers about being cold or homesick. Sometimes there were just scrawled, poignant notes of missing home and loved ones, but lots of these letters went on for pages and pages. They wrote about why they fought: the Cause, as termed by men on both sides. And there was a Cause -- a higher purpose for those on both sides. The Cause was ironically the same for those on either side. Both sides believed God had pre-ordained their victory. Both sides believed they were fighting for their country, and their freedom. People on each side believed that should they lose the war, the ideals for which their fathers' fathers fought King George would be destroyed, forever.

And so, should I win the lottery, I'd want to learn more: dig deeper, read more. And then I'd want to teach: that is what history's about. It's not about "In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Oh, and about 1917 through 1941 -- I'd want to learn a lot more about that. I know next to nothing about that era. And that was the time the United States grew up. The Civil War made the U.S. a real nation, as opposed to a collection of small nations. The time between WWI and WWII was when we came into our own as a world power: economically and militarily. That is the time during which we went from a new nation, admired but yet to be tested on the world stage, to a nation to which all other nations look.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Presidency of the United States

I just watched the debate. And I watched the VP debate last week. Here's the thing. The President of the United States must be a visionary. He must see the country as it should be, and then strive to make it so. It's this whole thing about "experience" that I don't understand. I mean, experience doing what? Being president? As far as I can tell, there is no job in the world that gives a person "experience" with the types of decisions required of the President of the United States. What other job requires a decision about whether to exert the entire military might of the most powerful nation in the world in a given situation? What other position brings with it the sole responsibility for the welfare of an entire nation, and a nation as diverse and great as this one? While the actual welfare of the nation is likely outside the control of the president, he is the one held responsible for it. Who else can launch nuclear missiles? While I admire Senator McCain: his service to the country, his patriotism, and even his dedication to the American People, I don't get the point of his tallying up voting records. And I don't believe that he has the vision required of the next president. How much "experience" did John F. Kennedy have? How much did Reagan have? F.D.R.? George Washington?

Electing anyone, whether known in politics or not, is a risk. While you may know what they did previously, you will never know what they will do in that round room when the proverbial phone rings at 3 a.m. until it actually happens. I don't care how close you are to what is going on in the Oval Office, until it's your decision, it's just not the same. I think the thing is, the President must have the inherent ability to listen to advice from the Joint Chiefs, the House and Senate, his Cabinet, and anyone else he sees fit; he must then process the monumental amount of information at his disposal, and make the right decision, whether it polls well or not. He must do so with the welfare of the American People always at the forefront of his decision, and he must do so with as full as possible an understanding of the global consequences of any course of action.

Another thing the President must do, that seems to be often overlooked these days, is that he must be the standard-bearer for the United States of America. He must give the People confidence in this country, and the core values upon which it was founded: the unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all. He must also be able to convey this to American citizens and to the world. The President must have a certain...gravitas.

These are unquantifiable things. The citizens of this country have made good decisions in this regard, and bad ones. I have a soft spot for Woodrow Wilson. He was a great visionary. However, he lacked the second requirement: the ability to convey to others what in the world he was talking about. No one could get behind him or his plans, because no one could understand what his goal was, or why. Other presidents have had the opposite problem: they were all about charisma, and people were completely behind them, but they never ended up actually leading anywhere.

My favorite president in American history? Well, I like Taft, but more on a empathetic level, than as a great president. He was never cut out for that job. But yet, he "busted" more trusts than the "Trust-Buster" (Teddy Roosevelt). He wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice, never president. (His wife and mother ganged up on him to make him run. Twice!) He was a jurist. He liked figuring out fine points of the law, and making case-by-case decisions. He didn't like the publicity, pressure, or the grey areas of leading a country. He didn't like that his decisions affected so many people. He finally got to be a Supreme Court Justice! Under Coolidge, I think.

The greatest president in American history? Easy. Lincoln. Why? He was a rags-to-riches story. The epitome of the American Dream. And he was perfect for that job, in that time. In another time, I don't know. But he made many monumental, and often unpopular decisions. Those decisions both kept the country in one piece, and righted an unconscionable wrong that had pervaded through centuries. By the way, how much experience did he have upon assuming the presidency? I think a term in Congress? I leave you with that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Really Strange

Ok, so I checked my email and discovered a "comment" waiting to be moderated on a post from over two years ago that has completely baffled me. (The comment baffled me, my post did not.) It had to be "edited for content," as I would like to keep this blog at least "rated PG." I can't, for the life of me, figure out what this guy's point is. It certainly had nothing to do with my post, other than brief mention of "public pretenders" and private attorneys. See what you think:

K has left a new comment on your post "Public Pretender": If the Public
Pretender is loyal to the same zionist/neocolonial typeregimes as the judge and even your defense lawyer
then how the f*** isthat justice?Justice is that if about twenty
percent of Americans say F*** THE POWERand would consider having long hair or do have
long hair... then abouttwenty percent of this nations municipalities
and counties should startbeing handled by such folk who wouldn't waste
public funds on some uglyrobe and will tell it like it F***IN' is... when
we say that we wouldrather see our sons smokin' joints then
signing their life andconsciences away to the occult orders that have
been running most ofthis nations criminal justice system.

So what, exactly, is a "Zionist neocolonial typeregime"? I mean I recognize "Zionist" and "neocolonial," but have any of you heard of a "typeregime"? I mean I'm not Jewish, and I certainly don't want to colonize anything. Is he saying that all that is needed to achieve justice, is to say, "F*** the power" in court (I'm sure that will help my clients a lot) and have long hair? I've got long hair, and, thus far, it seems to have had little impact. And who (or what) are "occult orders"?

Anyway, in spite of his vehemence, I think I'll stick with my own efforts to achieve justice. While it may be less exciting than pumping one's fist in the air and raving against the Establishment, at least I can see the justice I am able to get for my clients, from time to time. And I can avoid going to jail! (an extra bonus!) Well, to each his own!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

an update

It has been around six weeks since I posted last, and a rather strange six weeks, at that. I guess the strangeness began when my good friend left our office to be a public defender elsewhere. We still email and talk regularly, but it's just not the same without her around the office.

Further strangeness occurred when the cold I came down with mutated into pneumonia. I was out of the office for a week and a half, and was becoming quite annoyed with remaining in the house so long by the end. I've never taken more than one sick-day in a row before, and this was a really odd experience for me. Betsy tried her best to help, but was quite unsure how. Her first instinct was to try to engage me in a fun game, involving running around and such. Obviously, that wasn't happening! She then tried to cheer me up by licking my chin and my ears. A slight improvement, but still... I did get quite a bit of knitting done, and I read a lot.

Oh, and the prairie dogs are back! Well, one of them anyway. A couple years ago, the prairie dog town had to re-locate to the other side of the field (out of view) due to workmen with large machinery digging near their town. But this spring, one came back to reside in the old holes. I was initially concerned, as it struck me as unusual for a prairie dog to live by himself. They're so social with their town and barks and romping around together. But I looked it up and apparently, it is usual for a prairie dog to set up house a short distance from the main group when he's a year or two old after mating season, but before the new pups arrive. It prevents over-crowding in the town, and in-breeding. According to my reading, he'll still make social calls back to the main group. And maybe in the spring, he'll entice a mate from the town to join him and start his own group. Currently, he's concentrating on getting fat, so he can hibernate comfortably through the winter. (He's doing very well at that.)

Saturday, August 02, 2008


I'm in a somewhat meloncholy mood -- Billie Holiday's on the stereo. I'm trying not to sing along, as Betsy seems to get confused when I sing.

I'm mainly avoiding household chores. Fortunately, one of said chores is not attending to the swamp cooler again. It seems to be doing its best, in spite of it being around 100 outside for the past few days. My cooler seems to be keeping the house in the 80-85 degree range, which is standard for the things, I'm told. I'm still working on my lacy scarf, but it may actually come to an end at some point. I'm around 2/3 done. I'm eager to get it finished, so that I can start my July socks. They're fantastic! There's self-striping yarn in various shades of blue and white, and the pattern is a sea-shell type of lace.

Betsy is doing great. She turned a year old sometime in early- or mid- July. She is a good buddy to have around for cheering a person up! She's getting much less spastic now that she's approaching dog-hood and leaving puppy-hood. Although I think she will always love a good play. She would play with me twenty-four hours a day if possible! But she is becoming less insistant upon this, and will resign herself to the fact that this is not possible more quickly these days. Currently, she is chewing her new toy under my chair. It had been a while since she's had a new toy, and this one seems quite exciting. It looks kind of like a bright red octopus: fringy at the bottom, and hard-ish on top to facilitate chewing. And it squeaks and bounces. And, it's not stuffed, so we can avoid the de-stuffing - there's a rubber ball type thing in the top. Her favorite games are still fetch and tug. (She'll chase anything tennis-ball sized or smaller.) She's also getting the hang of wrestling without using claws or teeth. She's also a fairly old-fashioned dog: The toy that has managed to keep her attention for the entire time I've had her is Nylabones! I guess they're a classic for a reason.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where is it?

Where is it? That feeling that the reason it's great to be a citizen of the United States of America is we value all human beings and the inalienable rights they possess: to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Where is the pride we had in our ability to look beyond our fears of the unknown and to gladly recognize in all mankind the right to be innocent until proven guilty? To be free of State intrusion into our homes? To speak out our thoughts and opinions as far as we can reach? To be treated with respect and fairness? To be given the benefit of the doubt? Where is our willingness, even eagerness, to stand up for these inherent rights in all others, even those we despise? Where is our conviction that it is better that ten guilty men go free rather than one innocent man sent to jail? Have these things disappeared? Has this Great Experiment failed? Has the Government Of the People, By the People, and For the People truly perished from the earth? Have we been so harmed that we no longer desire these things? Have we forgotten? Or did these lofty ideals ever truly exist in the general populous? Were they simply a bunch of fancy words crafted by Founders and Fathers that did not reflect the popular opinions of that time either?

"Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing.... They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow; The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow." (The Two Towers: J.R.R. Tolkien) I hope this is not the fate of the true American dream as well...

Saturday, June 28, 2008



There's a hole in the (bucket?) fence! Dear 'Liza, dear liza! Eureka! I've found it! Ok, so it took a lot more looking than I thought to locate the culprit (hole). Naturally, said hole is behind a bush, and not easily noticed. Betsy apparently squeezed through the bush, dug only a little bit, and pushed out the chain link. Solution: One big (for Betsy) rock outside fence, one big rock inside fence, voila! Maybe things can get back to normal! (more or less)

Original post:

Ok, so vacations' over, Company has left, and Betsy and I are once again settling into our regular routine, with a couple additional hassles. Betsy escaped again, so I had to make another trip to the pound to bail her out. And, I've been doing battle with my swamp cooler every weekend. (You know, the thing the plumbers were supposed to fix...)

For those of you unfamiliar with Out West, most private homes are cooled with evaporative (swamp) coolers. These are box-type devices that perch on the roof of your house, a pump pumps water to the top of the box, where it trickles over pads, and then a fan blows air from outside, through the wet pads and into your house. Thus, cooling your house (in theory). Well, the plumbers did replace the pump, the float, and some tubing (that takes water to the cooler), and fixed the fan. However, they failed to affix the float tightly enough, so it did not, in fact, float. Rather it filled with water and sank. (The purpose of the float is that when the bottom of the cooler has enough water in it, the float reaches a certain height. This float is attached to a shut-off valve for the water. If the float does not float, the water does not turn off, and thus spills all over my roof.) So after solving that problem last weekend, I then had to determine why the cooler was not cooling as well as it had previously, but was cooling a little. Answer, the pads were not becoming saturated with water because they were in the wrong place. (I had gotten a size too small, and they were at the bottom, rather than the top and so were not catching all the water that was meant to be running over them.) Strangely, the plumbers did not apparently notice this. So, I fixed the pads. Then this weekend, I noticed the thing was not cooling at all. I go to investigate and discover that the hose that's supposed to be taking the water from the pump to the top of the cooler had fallen off its fixture. Don't ask me how this happened. I just hope this won't be a regular occurrence. I'm getting kind of tired of climbing onto my roof all the time!

In addition, Betsy somehow escaped this week, and I had to go bail her out again. I have scrutinized the fence for the past 2 days, and still have no idea how this could have happened. (Adagio's family and I have plugged up all the holes under the fence because they're trying to landscape their back yard.) There are no new holes under the fences, and the shortest fence is about 4 feet. And she doesn't even jump the baby gate in my house, and that's only about 3 feet. The only thing I can think of is that someone must have let her out and then closed the gate behind. There were kids playing near the gate at that point. The last couple times she escaped were because she went next door and the neighbors had left their gate open.

In other news, I am patiently (or not so patiently) awaiting my socks-of-the-every-other-month-club yarn. My throw has not been progressing, due to my swamp cooler problem, and I had to start my lacy scarf over. It's going much faster this time around, though.

Well, that's about the news. Work is, well, work.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

More on Pollyanna

So, it's been a whole week back, and I'm still in an unbelievably good mood. There's still some nonsensical junior high stuff going on at the office, but strangely, I don't care. I mean, I do, but it seems not to bother me at all. I am perfectly capable of avoiding people I wish to, and being civil to them when I'm unable to avoid them.

Even my issue with a certain private attorney, which upset me for the entire two weeks before I left, isn't affecting me much. The issue is this: I received a fax from this attorney a couple weeks before I left saying that he'd raised competency on one of his private clients and wished me to handle the competency portion of his case. (The cover sheet simply said "FAX" in at least 20-point font, as if he was the sole possessor of this new technology.) After speaking with my supervisor to confirm that we do not represent clients who already have private attorneys (duh!), I called the attorney's secretary to inform her that under the public defender enabling statute, we cannot represent clients who have already retained counsel, unless that counsel withdraws and the person qualifies as indigent. Upon my return to the office, I received another FAX from this attorney with another letter telling me if I would handle the competency portion of the case, he would take the case back if he was found competent. Now I have already had experience with this attorney's dealings with competency issues. There have been several cases I know of in which he raised competency with no basis whatsoever, and even tried to raise competency in a couple of mine. (I leave it to your imagination why he might do this.) In any case, my supervisor then emails this attorney informing him that the case is either a pd case or this attorney's case, but cannot be both. If the client wants a pd, he applies, and we enter our appearance, and we handle the case as we see fit. Otherwise, he's stuck with it. So our application person goes over to the jail to see if the guy wants to do an application for a pd. The guy says (quite sensibly) that he doesn't need a pd, he hired privately! My supervisor then emails the attorney again, telling him of this. Hah! I haven't received any further FAXes, and this attorney had better figure out how to handle competency cases, or kiss all that money goodbye!

In other happy news, I finished my happy green lace socks! They're really, really comfortable to wear. I did get my next installment of socks-of-the-every-other-month club, but I was less enthused with them. The yarn's nice, but the pattern is altogether too fancy for footwear. There are 2 cables running up the sides, in addition to a whole lot of lace. I think I'll save the yarn and do something else with it. Meanwhile, I am stalwartly avoiding buying this nifty self-striping sock yarn that is on sale. I should probably finish this lace scarf I've been dealing with on-and-off for around a year. I need to take out a few rows, because Betsy stole it a while ago, which is why I've been avoiding it.
In yet more happy news, Betsy loved her vacation at least as much as I did. She went to this great kennel, where instead of locking the dogs in crates, they split them up in 3 groups by size and temperament and just let them romp about. And believe me, there's nothing Betsy likes better than a good romp! She'll be thrilled to discover that she gets to go back this weekend.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gotta Love Vacations!

So, I got back Monday from a whole week away. There were no judges, prosecutors, clients, or courtrooms! It was wonderful! The best part is that the coming back thing wasn't nearly as horrendous as I thought it would be. I'd originally had 5 trials set for this week, but all except one went away, and the last is probably going to. The State lost their complaining witness, and it will be impossible for them to proceed without her. They just haven't figured that out yet. One pled (which she said she would two weeks ago, but didn't then); one got dismissed, as it is the exact same case as is set for trial at the end of the month it just got filed twice, for some reason; and two got continued because the cops are out of town (of course why it took this long for them to figure that out, I don't know).

So I am currently at leisure (somewhat) to wait for the silly plumbers to get back here with their plumbing parts. Apparently the part they were trying to put into the swamp cooler needed additional parts to attach it to the thing, which they had not had the foresight to bring with them in the first place. I must say I'm on my way to losing patience with these guys. They were supposed to come yesterday at 3. However, I got a call at 5 that they were "running a little late," and could they come tomorrow at 8:30? A little late? I got a call this morning at 9, saying (surprise) that they were again running late, but were on their way. At 9:30, they finally showed up, putzed around for an hour, and then came to this discovery about the parts they did not have. They've now been gone over an hour! I'm in a fairly generous mood, as a result of my vacation, but come on, guys! I can't indefinitely with this waiting around for them to get themselves together! Wait a minute...oh good, they're back. Hopefully they have everything they need, this time.

Vacation clearly worked. I'm not even mad at them! I really think I should be. But I seem to be in some strange pollyanna mood, whereby nothing can upset me too much. Such a pleasant change from pre-vacation, when everything drove me crazy. I just hope this mood lasts a while! It's kind of fun.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Because I haven't posted in a while...

rather than because I have anything interesting to say, I am blogging now. Most of what I have to say is too case-specific to put on a blog, and the rest is too unflattering to people that I work with.

I did notice that my last post was my 100th post! Happy anniversary to my blog!

At work, I'm working on a motion about collateral estoppel. This one requires serious research, as I haven't thought about the concept since taking the bar exam in 2001. How many criminal lawyers even encounter this, do you suppose? But it does make a nice change from the traditional unlawful search and seizure motions. Maybe it'll get granted just for being so original? I doubt it, though.

I came home directly after court today because of a horrendous and inexplicable back-ache. It's the kind where it hurts to move as well as to stand, sit, or lie still. My co-worker brought me some OTC meds, but they have not made a dent. If it's this bad tomorrow, I will swallow my aversion to doctors and make them give me the real stuff.

Betsy's enjoying the spring time immensely. Walks are fun when there are flowers to sniff and other people and dogs and kids on bikes to investigate!! She and Adagio also collaborated to re-form the tunnel under the fence. It is now at least 18 inches deep, as the neighbors keep trying to stop this behavior by putting things like logs under the fence. The ingenious dogs solved the log problem by Betsy pulling the logs out of the hole and bringing them into the house through the doggie door. She seems to take great joy in dragging enormous things around with her. She took my kitchen rug out through the doggie door so that she could place it in the hole she dug for it. She did not bury it, per se, as she did not cover it with dirt. She just thought it needed to be in a hole. Don't ask me how she got it through the doggie door.

Well, I'm going to stop now, as my back is now protesting the sitting posture. I will try the recliner chair.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Good Puppy, Proud Mommy

Betsy is now, officially, a Canine Good Citizen. She passed her test last night! It was actually pretty amazing. We missed class last week because I had this eye problem and as a result, was unable to think. During the class I missed, it was apparently decided that the test could be moved up a week because everyone did so well at class. Also, Adagio and her family have not been home the past couple of days, so she's been extra rambunctious when I get home from work. I tried to run some of her energy out of her by a quick game of "fetch" in the yard before class, but we didn't have time for much. As a result, she was extra-distractable when we got to class and discovered it was the actual test. Fortunately, 3 or 4 other dogs tested first, so we could walk around the Petco for a little while before it was her turn. She did her sitting and downing very well, and the lady conducting the test laughed at her a little during the "accept grooming" part when she rolled over on her back so her tummy would be brushed. She tried to play with the brush a little, but it didn't seem to count against her. I was mainly concerned about the "walking on loose leash" part, during which she often has a tendency to try to say hi to everyone she meets, rather than walking nicely next to me. But she actually did quite well. I think she'd gotten back into the "class mode" by then, since it was after the down-stay for a minute and a half on the 20 foot lead. The test lady was very complimentary of her "down-stay," too, and said I did a good job! She was surprised at how young Betsy is. She's about nine months old, now.
All in all, Betsy did great, especially since she was much more of a mind-set to play with all the dogs who were testing, rather than actually do her test. Kaily's mom and I let them play together for a treat after the test. And, I got her a big special treat and a new collar for a reward. (She's now outgrown the "medium" size, and is now on "large.") I think I'll see when they start the agility class this summer. Both the test lady and another lady said I should think about it. They're doing that one in the park. Betsy'd love it! It's like being rewarded for playing.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Perfect Puppy

It never ceases to amaze me how lucky I was to have picked such a perfect puppy. I must admit, I was frightened the first few weeks that I would not be able to handle such a bundle of energy. I actually picked her because she seemed so calm in relation to the other puppies who were whining and barking and jumping on the fence at the pound. She just sat quietly in the back of the group with her head cocked to one side. Now I know that this is her response to anything she's unsure of. Any strange sound or smell or anything she can't immediately determine whether to be frightened of she responds to by sitting. Her natural inclination generally is to play with anything or anyone available. She loves to fetch and any kind of tug game. She usually lets me win at tug. I can tell when she's not pulling as hard as she can, because she's quite strong and I wouldn't stand a chance! I think she lets me win partly because she is always mindful that I am the top dog, and partly because if I win I throw the thing for her to chase. We've never had a battle of wills, and she has never questioned that I am in charge. And, if I am not available for a game, she's quite content with chewing toys or shaking them or simply running laps around the house. She loves big floppy toys to shake. I've figured out why she de-stuffs all her stuffed toys. She doesn't eat the fluff, it's just easier to make the thing flop satisfactorily without stuffing.

She definitely has Aussie characteristics. I've even seen her doing the "Aussie stare" and creeping up on her toys at a crouch. She guards her "pack" against outsiders as well. She's usually very quiet, but she has two barks she does. One is a warning growl-bark to "intruders" (usually either her own reflection or Adagio coming in the dog-door while we are together in the other room). The other is a kind of barking howl. It's an alert to me that something is occurring. Usually, it's someone at the door or the neighborhood dogs are barking for some reason.

She's also much more into cuddling than Bo ever was. She follows me around the house and loves to curl up on the couch with me. And once the required face-licking is concluded, she'll usually fall asleep there. She really is the sweetest little dog. She definitely needs a buddy, though. She'll be more comfortable with a slightly bigger "pack" (or flock?) to look after. She'd also like to have someone to cuddle and play with when I'm busy but she wants to stay inside with me instead of going outside to find Adagio. But I do wonder if I'm going to be able to find a beastie as perfect as Betsy?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On Spring and Things

I really have nothing substantive to report, but I'm in a really good mood. Maybe it's because of spring being nearly here. My socks of the every-other-month club yarn arrived, just when I had completely given up on them, and it is so pretty. And the pattern is pretty, too, but apparently very shiny. I am unable to get a picture of the pattern, and instead end up with a big glare. But it's a kind of zig-zaggy lace-type thing. I think the official name for the pattern is something like wandering vines, or ivy, or something. Whatever it's called, it looks very fun. I'll have to cast it on tonight.

I also got an email from my violin teacher that she wants me to play in a chamber group this summer. (To have performances where people have to buy tickets and everything!) I have been kind of in doldrums with orchestra lately, as we haven't played any "real" music since last summer. (I don't consider snippets of great orchestral works with silly words added to be real music.) This chamber music thing should be a blast. I know my violin teacher will pick good stuff to play.

I've also been watching chick flicks. Though not actual chick-flicks, my sister tells me, because none of them star Hugh Grant. More like Much Ado About Nothing and Pride and Prejudice. I think it must be my sister's fault anyway, as she's the one getting married, and getting me into this mood. It's fun and non-think-y, anyway. Just the thing for spring.

Betsy's doing splendid. She loves the warm weather, and we've been taking many more walks than we did when it was cold. I've got her on one of those no-pull harness things to try to convince her that we'll get there eventually, she doesn't need to pull me along like a horse-and-cart. She's in her class now for the Canine Good Citizen test, so she might one day get to have a title! Although I'm not sure whether the AKC gives official titles to mutts. It really doesn't make that big a difference to me, and I'm sure she could not care less. She just likes class. She made another friend, by the way. A highly peppy and playful 3-year-old Golden Retriever named Reggie. They get on great!
I was in such a good mood today that I went by the pet store and saw the cutest little 8 week-old Corgi, and was reminded that Betsy would love a buddy in a little while. But I'm certainly not going to pay $600, and Betsy's not quite ready yet: she's a little over 8 months old. (For you dog people out there, no, I don't know which kind of Corgi: it was the kind with a little tail stub.) I think I'll wait until Betsy does not want to eat everything anymore. When she's over a year, I'll start hitting the pound again. But she definitely should have a buddy of her very own. One that is allowed in my house, and isn't told to "go home" when I come back from work. I'll probably get another puppy, to ease the fitting-in process. Besides, she loves puppies. When there's a puppy at PetCo (where class is) she whines and whines, and wants to make friends.
The only really entertaining work news is that I got another competency guy. I've had this one before. Last time, he was a butterfly and Jesus Christ. (I'm not sure how the two mesh, but there you go.) This time, he needs his bail lowered because he is Medieval. An angel told him he wasn't very evil, just Medieval. He wanted to know why the judge couldn't set him bail commensurate with being only Medieval. (I suggested privately to the judge afterward that he set 3 chickens and a sheep for bail, which would have worked out fine, since he can post that. Ten percent would be like a part of a chicken, right?) Also, two of my competency guys are now cell mates. The good news is that they keep each other company, and both get along with each other, and neither are subjected to the mean-ness of the other inmates. The bad news (for me, anyway) is that they have a phone in the cell with unlimited legal calls, so they pass the phone back and forth to take turns talking to me indefinitely. Both are somewhat paranoid and need constant reassurance, and one has extremely poor memory as a result of traumatic brain injury. You would not believe how circular a conversation can be with these two guys! Especially when the guy not on the phone with me keeps shouting reminders for the other one to tell me stuff that he already told me. I still like them, though. They're a whole lot better clients than some of my "normal" ones!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Woes of Treatment Court

I blogged some time ago about the mental health court a judge was intending to start. Well, it has been started, more or less. The basic premise of the thing (contrary to my suggestion) is to make the mental health court a "special condition" of probation, similar to drug court. The participants are required to come to court weekly, attend individual and group counseling sessions throughout the week, show proof of taking medication as prescribed, do community service or keep a job if able to, and take drug tests. Initially, they are required to see a psychiatrist who would (hopefully) prescribe medication and/or adjust it as needed. As we initially had no (read "zero") funding from any source for this program, we began with five participants. Of the five participants, three were "non compliant" with the program. Two went to a 28 day drug treatment facility, and one disappeared before he actually began the program and is pending probation violation procedures.

Now, warning bells should go off. If 60% of the participants cannot "make it" in this program, there is either something wrong with the screening process to admit them into the program, or something wrong with the program itself. There are a couple reasons I see for what is going on. First, the most successful of those in the program (the 2 who both showed up and didn't end up in drug treatment) have traumatic brain injury, as opposed to an illness related to brain chemistry such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which can be treated with medication. The only reason the two of them could not make it in regular probation is that they have memory and cognitive problems and just cannot process how to show up once a month at probation. These people do not need their medications monitored, etc. Further more, we (the committee) had decided at the beginning that a mental health court would not be of assistance to people with such a disability. They probably could make it through the program fine, but the program would not help them.

The people the program is intended to help are those other three people, two of whom are bipolar and one is schizophrenic. They get into trouble because they either self-medicate (usually with meth), or steal (for the thrill when they're manic, because they believe the things to be theirs, or because they can't hold a job due to their disability), or both. So, the program intended to help the mentally ill get back on track with their meds and housing and SSI is turning out to be simply drug court with extra conditions. The irony is that the service provider is the same as for drug court. My question: Why not just put them in drug court, since that's what's happening anyway? The personnel involved are exactly the same, it's just the participants that are different. This way, the federal grant we just got can be used for a diversionary type of program, which is much more acutely needed anyway.

Here's what I think a mental health court should look like: When a criminal defendant is transferred to district court "on competency," they might be referred to mental health court, especially if they are only facing charges for resisting an officer or battery on an officer. (Many of my competency clients have the police called on them because they are acting strange or creeping people out, the cops show up and they freak out.) If it is decided that such a defendant would be fine if properly treated, they would start the program. Their criminal case would be dismissed without prejudice. They would get a caseworker (which we do have available) to help them apply for SSI and set up housing. They would see a doctor to give prescriptions and monitor the meds and check in with someone to be sure they're on their meds. They would only have to give drug tests after they're meds are fully adjusted and have been allowed to take effect (say a couple or 3 months). Only then would they be punished for using meth or other drugs. The program would last 6 months to a year, and if they completed, their criminal case would remain dismissed. If not, it would be refiled, and we would deal with the competency issue at that point. The incentive to the client would be that they wouldn't have to sit in jail for 3 to 9 months waiting for evaluations or risk a 9 month trip to the state hospital to be treated to competence. (i.e. forcefully medicated) (Note: SSI is discontinued if a person is incarcerated for more than 30 days. Thus, if they had SSI before their arrest, they no longer have it when they're finally released.) The incentive for everyone else would be that we would save the county money by not having them in jail, we would save the state money by not sending them to the hospital, and (with any luck) we would help them break the cycle of committing new crimes as soon as they get released from jail on the old ones. If a defendant is found incompetent, the cases are ultimately dismissed anyway, except for the most heinous.

I mean, it makes no sense for my little competency guys to keep getting arrested, their cases (mostly misdemeanors, property crimes, or tangling with police or jail guards) dismissed once they're found incompetent, released from jail, then arrested again for the same or similar charges with no treatment in the interim. The best example I have of this is my guy that steals cars. He's clearly schizophrenic: he has auditory hallucinations (apparently quite a benevolent person, as my guy laughs a lot when listening to the voice). His cases (he stole 2 cars the same day) got dismissed when he was found incompetent and not dangerous (mandated by statute). Six hours after his release from jail, he stole another car, led the cops on a chase, and returned the car to the police parking lot. He also was arrested for the charge of "pedestrians in roadway," because he was apparently caught when whe was walking down the middle of the road, talking to his invisible friend after dumping the car. He has not been on meds since 2004, when he was committed to the state hospital. Now, there are two solutions to this: Either we can get the cops to quit arresting him no matter how many cars he steals, or we can give him an incentive to take his meds, and adjust them if they make him too listless (his problem with taking them is he doesn't like being sleepy all the time.)

Here's my main point (finally). We don't need "drug court plus" (as I've taken to calling it). We need some way to help my guy with the car problem to stay on his meds so he will quit stealing cars!

End of sermon.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Show Must Go On

It has always worked this way: I'll go months without having any trials, or even any trials set, and then suddenly, I have tons! By this time tomorrow, I will have had three trials in two weeks. The way our judges calendar things, usually about one in three trials set actually "go," so you do the math. In addition to being in court constantly, I have three of the neediest clients in the office. They're really sweet, and very incompetent, but they tend to leave about ten messages a day on my voicemail, each. And when they happen to catch me in the office, I'm on the phone with them for a half hour. This is when "Evercom," the jail phone system, cuts them off. Usually, when a client is on the phone with me for that long, I can do something else, while still following what they are saying. But with them, it takes all my focus to figure out what they are talking about.

For example, one of them told me today that his mother is a blackmailer. I'm quite sure he's got no clue what the word means, but I finally figured out what he meant by it. He thinks his mother is preventing him from "being a man" by paying his bills and taking care of his trailer. He just doesn't want to be taken care of in this fashion, because he is a grown-up. His schizophrenia apparently only started manifesting a year or two ago, and he has not figured out that he is just not like everyone else. He wants to work and to drive and to pay his own bills, thank you very much! The problem arises when he comes into contact with law enforcement and ends up in jail because he's scared of them, calls them terrorists, and fights with them. It's hard to hold down a job when you're in jail that often!

Meanwhile, I have been having last-minute plea hearings, trials where the client doesn't show up, trials that get continued at the last minute, and actual trials. My trials actually haven't been that crazy. No interpreters going on strike, or ADAs going completely crazy during closings, or anything. My one last Wednesday was fairly straight forward: possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. (Here, that carries up to 9 years, plus any habitual offender time.) It looked like it would be a decent case, at first. My guy was the driver and only occupant in a car, registered to someone else, and in a fanny pack on the floor was 27 grams of meth, scales, empty baggies, syringes, etc. In addition, there was a purse with a glass pipe. No identifying documents were found in either. (My guy and the registered owner of the car were both male, and thus unlikely to be caught dead with a purse!) My guy had an empty plastic baggie in his pocket, that was not tested for the presence of controlled substances. (He was arrested for misdemeanor DWI, and pulled over for expired tags.) The problem was that the baggie in his pocket had a "brand" on it: a symbol usually used to distinguish a particular dealer. Empty baggies in the bag with the 27 grams of meth had the same symbol. Surprise! I kept the jury out for a couple hours debating it, though! And we have a couple appeal-able issues.

My trial this past Tuesday was just confusing. It was an embezzlement case, where my client was alleged to have stolen $1000 dollars from the deposit at her job in a convenience store. I have never heard of a place that handles cash with such shoddy cash control policies! (And I have worked at several.) No one double-counts the money! Ever! Not the registers, and not the daily deposits. Once the "drawers" (registers) have over a certain amount, they are totaled, balanced, and the money is put in a cash bag, and dropped into a safe. Every morning, the prior day's cash bags are re-counted, totaled, and entered into a computer manually by a manager (in this case, my client). Later in the morning, the same person who did the computer entries re-counts the money, prepares a deposit slip for the bank, and takes it to the bank. The sum total of the State's case against my client was that the computer entry for a particular day's total exceeded the same day's deposit slip total by $1000, and my client was the one to do the deposit that day. The other manager testified that there had "never" been a disparity between the computer print-out and the deposit slip before. And that my client had worked there a year. Now, if I were going to embezzle money, I certainly wouldn't start with $1000! And I would certainly not do it in such an obvious way, when I was the one creating the disparity between the amount of money deposited and what the computer print-out says that I should deposit, when I controlled what the computer said! It makes no sense! The jury came back after an hour with a whole list of questions: Was there a camera on the drop box (no), who had access to the key for the drop box (everyone) what are the cash control procedures, etc. Twenty minutes later, they came back guilty, but with three or four jurors looking seriously disgruntled. I have never seen jurors look so angry coming back with a verdict before! A couple, especially, looked extremely irate. Anyway, very strange. And for once, likely to get overturned on "sufficiency of evidence," since there was nothing more than a manually entered computer total to show the extra $1000 ever existed!

Anyway, this is quite long enough, and I have trial again tomorrow: possession of meth again. My guy's girlfriend says it was hers. Great if they believe her. Horrible if they don't, since my guy's looking at the possibility of 8 years of mandatory habitual offender time if they convict. Well, the show must go on!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Return to the Normal (more or less)

Betsy got her stitches out today. Woohoo! She has now been released by the vet to "go out and play" in any fashion she sees fit. So, she celebrated our return from the vets by running laps around both my yard and the next-door-neighbor's yard, with Adagio close on her heels. She was ecstatic! No more being locked in the house!

In other news, court has been very strange lately: We have more than one judge who do not care for the Rules of Criminal Procedure and have decided to make up their own, always to the detriment of our clients. One has decided that she may dismiss defense appeals that are trial de novo, due to failure to preserve issues in the lower court. The lower court is not a court of record, and thus you can't preserve issues anyway. Another has decided that she is able to revoke the probation of people who are not actually on probation anymore, but have been discharged. A third has decided that she does not like the various time limits outlined in the Code, and sets her own, frequently without telling anyone until her new time limits have expired. I have also been dealing with ADAs who seem to enjoy lecturing me about how to do my job, and how unethical it is for me to try to get my clients out of jail. I don't think all these people realize that what they are doing is only motivating me to fight harder in court: a motivation that has been ebbing of late.

I also have a whole pack of competency clients. These cases for some reason seem to come in waves. I love my competency clients. They are (mostly) really sweet and lost. And more than one of them seem to have a crush on me. Normally, something I'm not wild about, but in them, it's quite poignant. After all, how many people have they ever had try to help them in their lives? And it just makes me angry that some police officers seem to just follow them around waiting for them to get afraid and violent. I have one poor guy who was charged with filing a false report. Honestly! The guy is so delusional, they had to have been able to figure something was not right when they took the report. He called me all upset and afraid today because the judge made him "stand in the oaths and give up his rights and his lefts!" Even the not so sweet ones I don't mind. I find I have the patience to listen to their convoluted stories and reassure them and call their mamas and girlfriends. A strange thing of late. Even the guy who wants to kill me because I "raised his incompetence" I have patience with. After all, it's not his fault. No one wants to be thought of as either crazy or stupid. (Though I'm careful to not to say the words "incompetent" or "evaluation" in his presence. I was quite angry when the ADA brought it up when there was no need.)

And, I can look forward to six trials set for next week, with no idea at this point which may be going and which not.

So, things seem to be returning to normal. As normal as they ever get around here, anyway.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Under the Knife

Betsy had her surgery yesterday, so she is now spayed and micro-chipped! She gets her stitches out next week, and after that, no more vet visits for a whole year! The surgery went great, and today she was her usual cheerful self. Last evening, she was fairly out of it, and confused. She slept from the time I got off work and picked her up at the vets, until morning. I stayed home with her today, except for a witness interview at the DA's office, so I could keep an eye on her. But she's back to her playful normalcy. She even tried to play with Adagio, but I couldn't let that happen. She's supposed to be "taking it easy" for a week. (Fat chance!) While she hasn't been chewing her stitches yet, she has been scratching them with her hind legs. I, at least temporarily, solved the problem by putting her in an old t-shirt of mine and tying the slack in a knot in the middle of her back. She hasn't managed to get it off yet, but she was playing with it for a while. At least it distracted her from the suture line!

Below, she is modeling the shirt, and being trained to "leave" the shirt alone!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Betsy Update

Adagio, the next door dog, has returned! Apparently she was recuperating from being spayed, as there is a shaved patch on her tummy. But no stitches, and she looks fine, so she and Betsy celebrated by having a boistrous play.

****Original Post****

So, Betsy is still growing like the proverbial weed. We went to the vet's last week for her pre-spay blood work, and she now weighs a whopping 40.7 lbs. It actually made me kind of nostalgic. The first time I took her to the vets, she was 8 weeks old, weighed just over 13 pounds, and was so frightened that all she would do was sit straight up on my knee and watch the people and animals come and go. I could pick her up with one hand easily. This time, she's 7 months old, over 40 pounds, and wanted to play with everyone who came by, whether they had 2 legs or four (including a pretty calico cat). This wasn't at all to the liking of the minute boxer puppy, who was plainly terrified of the entire situation, even without the rambunctious Betsy play-bowing and yapping, and doing everything in her power to make the boxer forget her fear and have a fun romp. This seems to be Betsy's solution to every problem. When I had the flu, she decided that what I really needed was a fun play time. So, she licked my face, nibbled on my ears, and pawed at me. I reacted similarly to the boxer puppy, and tried to get across that play was not needed at that point.

Betsy's also maturing. She doesn't jump on strangers anymore (mostly) and she's figured out what she is allowed to play with and what she's not. (Of course, she sometimes takes things that are not hers in attempts to start a game with me, or simply to see how far she can get away with something.) She has also started exhibiting some guard-dog characteristics. However, at this point, she seems mainly interested in guarding against reflections in the glass door and dogs on t.v. It's really quite funny to hear her with her growling and warning-bark and her nose pressed against the glass door to the entertainment center waiting for the "other" dog to make a move. She also guarded me against someone that had been in the house for a couple hours, but she had apparently forgotten he was there. It was hilarious. She greeted him at the door like a long-lost pack member, and then 2 hours later didn't know who he was.

She's also finished her six week obedience class (the grown-up one), and I think I'll put her into the next one, too. That's the one where at the end of it she gets to take her test to get the first AKC obedience degree. (I forget what it's called). She loves class so much, and she's got a special play buddy, Kaily who's going to take the next class too. Kaily's at least as much a mutt as Betsy is. She looks like a coyote. They're such good buds that Kaily's mom and I traded phone numbers so we can set up play dates for them. Kaily loves playing even more than Betsy, and doesn't have much of an opportunity. She's driving her mom quite crazy and is becoming fairly destructive, apparently. And now that Betsy's next door buddy has disappeared, she needs to expend some energy as well!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Snow Day, Take Forty-Four

Well, not really forty-four, but that's what it seems like. You know, I never thought I'd get tired of having spontaneous days off work. But even I have to admit, this is getting old. You get all in gear to go to work in the morning, have planned the courts you need to be at, and the office work you're going to do, and suddenly you can't. Unless, that is, you feel like playing bumper cars with people who have no clue how to operate a vehicle in the snow. And then, you spend the rest of the week trying to catch up!

I compensated this morning by joining a "sock-of-the-month" club. Well, actually the sock of the every-other-month club, since I know I can't knit a pair every month! We'll see how it goes. (You can cancel any time.)

I believe I have now given up on trying to guess Betsy's ancestry. I even watched the Eukenuba National Championship dog show to try to figure it out. (And also because I like to watch dog shows.) She's still got mosly the coloring of a Rottweiler (her head's turning black again, like it started out), but she's much fluffier than either a Rott or German Shepherd. Her outer hair's coarse like a Rott, but a little curly, and she's got a double coat. So, she's pretty much her very own breed. I did figure out one thing from the dog show: The next door dog, Adagio, is almost certainly a Flat-Coated Retriever. Betsy's much more of a cold-weather dog than I would have thought. Her latest thing is flopping down in the snow, and then eating all the snow in reach, and then picking a new spot to lie down.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Sunday

Happy Super Sunday to everyone! For those of you who do not know, I am a football person. I've watched football on t.v. for almost as long as I can remember, not really caring who won at all. When I was in elementary school, I pulled for the team with pretty uniforms, and in middle school I pulled for the team with the cutest quarterback. (Joe Montana was still playing then, so I rooted for the 49ers.) I tend not to make a big deal about the Superbowl, because "my" team never is in it. But today, I have wings in the crock pot and friends on the way.

Also, it's snowing again, so I'm content to knit my throw, (see below), watch football, possibly with a fire in the fireplace, and stay inside. If it turns out to be too much of a blow-out, we can always switch to the puppy bowl. Betsy will love it. Below, she is watching animal planet.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snow Day, Take Two

And it's snowing again! Usually, we only get one good snow fall a year, with a couple of additional dustings. On our last snow day, we had six inches by the time it was through, and that was unusual enough. But today, it looks like we're going to have that much again. There are about three inches on the ground now, and it's overcast, which means here that there will probably be more. There does seem to be a temporary lull in the snowfall now, though. Maybe I will be able to make it in to the office this afternoon. It's fairly strange: I was kind of looking forward to going in today. I don't have hearings scheduled (they were cancelled anyway) so I was going to do some trial prep and write some suppression motions that have been waiting for weeks for me to get to. I even put some stuff in the crock pot to be ready when I got home! But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men do something or other, and since all the schools and courts and everything else are closed, I know there will be no plowing of the roads. Thus, here I sit.

It's weird for me to not go somewhere due to snow. Where I come from a few inches of the white stuff isn't unusual, and we carry on. Places don't usually close unless there are at least 8 inches on the ground, or an ice storm. But in places like that, they actually plow the roads as the snow falls, rather than waiting until the next day like they seem to do here. Thus, again, here I sit.

At least Betsy's enjoying herself. She's curled up under my desk chewing a Nylabone sleepily after playing with the snow for the past 2 1/2 hours. I believe she was trying to eat all the snow in the yard. Her buddy's inside still, so she made do by herself. She's quite good at entertaining herself, so she chased snowflakes, dug holes in the snow, unearthed ice chunks to eat, and for some reason started snorting snow up her nose. On purpose! But now, she's nearly asleep after the excitement.

(Betsy in repose below. It's rare, so I figured I'd best capture it!)

So now, I just have to think of something to do with myself all day. (It's snowing very hard now, so I don't think I'll be able to make it to work, or anywhere else, for that matter.) I actually cleaned house last weekend, and I don't need to do laundry. I don't even have any knitting to occupy me. I finished my last project: My first experiment with "stranded" knitting. Not stranded like on a deserted island, stranded like with different strands of yarn. I do have a lace scarf that I'm about half finished with, but Betsy stole it and I need to fix it. Fortunately, I rescued it before it was demolished, but I will need to pick out a fair number of rows due to dropped stitches. That's just too picky for me right now. What I really want is the yarn and needles for my next project to arrive. I order online a lot, because the yarn selection around town is quite limited, especially if you're doing a big project. I'm going to make this throw in a dark reddish brown color. Ten balls of a gorgeous alpaca blend. Super bulky! (Translation: thick and fluffy and very soft yarn)
I seem to have written a lot, so I think I'll go make oatmeal for breakfast.

Monday, January 07, 2008

On Puppies and Snow

I am not what you'd call a cold weather person. I live in a desert, after all. I dislike winter and cold weather, and I tend to dislike snow as well. It's cold and wet, and it is usually accompanied by clouds. I need my sunshine! However, I will grudgingly admit that today, I like it. It means that although I did have to go to court this morning, I'm not about to drive accross the county to the office, since the roads have not been touched by plow, sand, or salt, and it's snowed about 2 inches in the last hour. It was all I could do to make it home. I'm also liking the snow because it's the first real snow Betsy's seen in her short life. She loves it. She tries to pick it up in her mouth and play with it, but of course this does not work well. She also periodically looks up into the sky as if to find the source of this strange form of precipitation. But the most fun seems to be just playing with her buddy from next door in it. Partly because her buddy seems to be more clumsy than she does and keeps falling down. This makes her easier than ever to catch!
P.S. In case you're wondering, Betsy's the one with the brown legs, and both she and Adagio have Betsy's tail in their mouths. If you look closely, you can see Betsy's face peeking out from between Adagio's head and her own rump.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Musings on Time

And so, 2007 is gone and 2008 is ahead. I realize that many people make resolutions to do better for the following year. For some reason, I've never been one to set personal goals like this. I mean I can think of things about myself that I would like to improve upon. But it has never made sense to me to wait until New Year's Day to set about improving upon them. To me, a person's life journey is just that: A journey. One goes along and makes decisions as they come up about who one is and what one does, and these decisions rarely, if ever, coincide with a date on a calendar. Many people also seem to like to look over the past year and evaluate it in some way. I tend not to do this either. The past year hasn't been one I particularly enjoyed, although I did enjoy some things that happened. But why would one evaluate a year? There were some things that happened this year that I will remember forever because they either brought me joy or sadness, and there is nothing wrong with remembering such things. They form a part of who I am and who I will be in years to come. But what is the purpose of an evaluation of a year? As in a good year, or a bad year, or the year when some event happened, or the year of the ______? A year cannot be summed up and evaluated like a test, just like a person or place cannot.

My faithful dog, Bo, died in 2007. That was sad, but that does not mean that 2007 was sad. I also got my first ever puppy, and am learning how to raise her. That is fun, but that doesn't mean that 2007 was a "fun year." I started knitting and playing my violin again this year. And these things will probably be part of who I am and what I do for years to come. But this does not mean those things are the year.

I guess I tend to view years (and weeks and decades) much as I imagine Betsy would. I tend to ignore them. I live my life as it comes: taking pleasure in things of the moment that are pleasurable to me and sorrowing for losses that occur when they occur. I don't feel the need to analyze things that have been, or strategize about things that have yet to occur. The things that have happened, both good and bad, are past. I will remember them, but not dwell on them. The things that have not yet happened, may never happen. But when they do, either good or bad, I will deal with them when they occur, and either enjoy them or not. There is no point to worrying about them until then.
Time is a strange thing. It is moving and constant, but it does not seem constant. Over Time, we have no control. It controls us, in some respects, but we do not need to be enslaved to it. We cannot turn back the clock or move it forward. But why does that matter? Why should we want to? We should see Time as a puppy sees it: It affects us, but it is irrelevant to who we are.
And with that, puppy pictures! See how time flies for a puppy. It is the same toy that she has in both pictures, by the way, so you can see how big she is now. And yes, she de-stuffed her stuffed toy, and that's what all the white fluff in the second picture is about.

And Now: