the city of seattle has its priorities straight

God forbid that public property be damaged, and oh, yeah, you might get hurt.


dumb stuff i love

Check this out: water blessing labels.

There is a fellow who concluded after a five-year study that water molecules can be influenced by positive thoughts. That seems like an awful reach to me, but I've not read the book, so I can't fairly comment on the validity of that theory (I'm one of those annoying people who tries to suspend judgment until I actually understand what someone is saying). However, some entrepreneurs took this already questionable idea and stretched it beyond recognition, asserting that you can "turn your drinking water into liquid prayers!" by means of clear plastic labels with inspiring words pasted on your water bottle.

I am not making this up. I mean, I am not making up the existence of Water Blessing Labels. Not only do they exist on the web, I saw some in a store yesterday.

And I actually thought they were quite naively charming.

Not being willing, however, to have ten dollars naively charmed out of my pocket, I loaded my labelmaker with the black lettering/clear tape cartridge and started making labels of my own. Now I have my desktop water bottle adorned with the brahma viharas at no extra cost. We'll see if "liquid mindfulness," in this carefully controlled experiment, benefits me next week.

My hypothesis, which should be painfully obvious, is that it won't make a damned bit of difference, at least directly. Pasting the brahma viharas on a water bottle is the exact antithesis of the method by which their effectiveness is cultivated. For a thought to change one's mind, it has to be fixed in one's mind in the first place, not fixed on one's water bottle. If having inspirational text on my water bottle prompts me to keep positive thoughts in mind, yes, it will have an effect, but the effect is produced by the effort of thought prompted by the words, not the words themselves. And if I do not cultivate positive mental states unless reminded by my water bottle, I probably need more profound changes in my life than an upgraded drinking vessel alone.

Now I wonder...if positive thoughts have an influence on water molecules, how about negative thoughts? And does the drinker of the water have to be aware of the positive or negative words associated with the water or other beverage? The possibilities range from putting, say, "confusion" on the bottom of the coffee mugs opposing counsel gets during a deposition, to, oh, "cursing" someone's water system by scrawling the word "disease" on their water main. Sounds really creepy, but I'm not sure that a mere word is any match for chlorine.



motion practice

Okay, I am going to file a Motion to Improve Facts as to My Client.

If that doesn't work I am planning a Motion to Exchange Clients with Opposing Counsel.

If that doesn't work I have no recourse but to file a Writ of Goddammit.

living in the wild, wild west

Our drugs are legal, thankyouverymuch

still no cause of action for negligent intercourse

Massachusetts, a highly enlightened state in some ways, continues to hold the line on freedom of sexuality.

This just in:

"A woman isn't legally responsible for injuries her boyfriend suffered while they were having consensual sex more than a decade ago, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

The man, identified only as John Doe in court papers, filed suit against the woman in 1997, claiming she was negligent when she suddenly changed positions, landed awkwardly on him and fractured his penis.

The man underwent emergency surgery in September 1994, "endured a painful and lengthy recovery" and has suffered from sexual dysfunction that hasn't responded to medication or counseling, the appeals court said."

Click here for the rest of the story.

Extensive research suggests that Washington state does not recognize this cause of action either, the legislature being more concerned with weightier matters, such as goat theft, infra.

my tax dollars at work

I had to perform one of the mundane tasks of car ownership this week, having my vehicle emissions (I almost wrote "omissions") inspected, which led me to the Internet in search of the local station with the shortest wait time near the Kent courthouse.

This led me to discover that the state of Washington, or at the very least the civilian subcontractor hired to do the inspections and write about the emission tests on the Internet, appears to find it necessary to tell people to bring your vehicle to have its emissions inspected.

Rats. I was hoping I could just mail it in.



the mechanics of authorship

In a moment of weakness about six months ago I agreed to speak at a seminar next month. My assigned topics are ones on which I am well-versed, discovery and trial in family law matters. The company presenting this even provided a basic outline to structure my talk, which I took and dramatically expanded at least a month ago. I organized a planning session among the speakers to discuss time division, etc.

So what's the problem? One little sticking point. This is an intermediate-level seminar, and the advertising for the program states that the manual accompanying the seminar will be "comprehensive."

Frankly, word processing software + me + a suggestion that I be "comprehensive" is not a formula for a happy week. Back in the day, when I worked for the Home of Hundred Drafts, I did not yet have enough life experience to understand that my obsessive perfectionism about my writing would goad me to write 93 pages of materials, 1.5 line spacing, Times New Roman font...in four days. The Document Properties section (sometimes one's own metadata can be handy) of my manuscript is showing 3337 editing minutes into the manuscript since this past Friday at 9 a.m. And that's only since the last time I renamed the document.

It occurs to me that my models of the mechanics of authorship are drawn from Russian literature. Dostoevsky dictated his work at the last minute at breakneck pace. Tolstoy drove his editors crazy by revising his work even in the galley proofs. I'm just emulating my idols.


tattoos are hearsay exceptions - but why?

In which Washington is discovered to be taking a walk on the wild side when it comes to evidence.

In Washington state, statements of fact concerning personal or family
history contained in tattoos are exceptions to the hearsay rule where the unavailability of the declarant is immaterial. Washington's ER 803(a)(13) is identical to the Federal Rule of Evidence, with that one exception.

The state Comment to this rule blandly observes: "Tattoos have been added to the items enumerated in the federal rule. The drafters felt that tattoos often reflect personal or family history and are apt to be as trustworthy as the other items listed in the rule."

That got me to thinking (I love the rules of evidence). The "declarant" in this case is presumably the person displaying the tattoo, not the tattoo artist. So the witness comes in and says, "Yes, John has a tattoo on his chest that says, 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy,' " that is not hearsay. But wouldn't the observation of the tattoo be a present sense impression of the witness testifying about tattoo? I really wonder about the necessity for this deviation from the FRE.


put down the goat and step away from the car

Thank God the Washington state legislature has taken action to make goat stealing a felony. It was only today that I learned that before now, this heinous act was only a misdemeanor. Well. I wouldn't have slept nights if I'd known, and I'm sure the nice folks over at cybergoat must be relieved.

I'd hate to think what this august legislative body might enact if it had more time on its hands.

Have I mentioned before that the state insect is the Green Darner Dragonfly?


more weird linkage

This blog turns up on a page called, so help me, Laura the Lawyer (Laura being one of the Names of the Goddess). It's a list of links to websites of lawyers with "Laura" in their names. No other common thread.

Here's a hint to y'all about picking a lawyer, just in case it's not clear: being named Laura is not a good qualification for being anybody's lawyer. Find a better way to pick a lawyer. Flip a coin. Geez.


from my inbox

Now, I ask you. Does this look like a plant?

The energetic folks in the management of the Very Tall Building in which I work are at it again.

Now that we are done visualizing earthquakes for them, they are installing sculpture in our lobby for us to observe.

"We are pleased to inform you that the first of our two new lobby sculptures is scheduled to be installed this weekend, and will be on display on the south side of the [Very Tall Building] lobby. The sculpture, entitled “Bloom Cycle,” was created by Portland-native Christine Bourdette, and evokes bud and flower shapes to provide an organic complement to the lobby’s formal geometry. The idea for the piece came from the artist’s thoughts about daily rhythms and cycles, whether in nature or in the world of business, and how they change and morph through time.

Christine is a recipient of the Bonnie Bronson Fellowship Award and the Regional Arts and Culture Council Visual Artists Fellowship Award. She has received acclaim for several of her public commissions including the Mark O. Hatfield Government Center MAX Station and Inverness Jail in Portland.

[Building Management] partnered with 4Culture, a public development authority chartered by King County to manage programs in arts, heritage, historic preservation and public art, to commission the sculpture."

Organic complement. Hmmmm. Would that be like a...plant? They are putting a sculptural representation of a plant in my lobby to soften the sharp edges of the lobby's formal geometry? And paid how much? And how much would an actual living plant in the lobby have cost? When it actually grew, it would not just "evoke" bud and flower shapes, it would actually manifest them. We could call it performance art.

And my rent here is how much per month?

Cloud Mountain

Castle Rock, Washington. 4-30-2005

washington docketing information online

This is actually an amazing advance. The offical website of the Washington state court system now makes basic Superior Court docket information available online for all counties. There are limitations, of course: basically no sealed file information and no pre-1980 cases. Nonetheless, this is a great leap forward in the information readily available over the Internet to those with an interest in cases in Washington state.

Unfortunately, I can't jettison Courtlink and its expensive searches quite yet, because there's only limited information about district and municipal court available at the moment. The prudent family law practitioner is well advised to run district and municipal court searches on every opposing party in every case. In fact, I can directly attribute a flat-out victory in one of my cases to the material I was able to gather from district court docket sheets throughout the county.

Moreover, the careful family law practitioner is well-advised to run the same searches on her clients. All of them.


and the prize for coolest blawg name goes to...

me. Again (see footnote 36). As another edition of Blawg Review succumbs to my literary charms.

That and--what is it now? Two dollars?--will get me a ride on the subway.

A minor quibble. I am sorry to see the editor succumb to the mass confusion between the terms "eager" and "anxious." I am "anxious" for my accountant's opinions on my taxes. I am "eager" to see if I am posted at Blawg Review. Not the same thing at all.

post-its (r) changed my life

Well, no, not really. I have more of a life than that. April 2005, however, marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the invention of what I will generically call the sticky note, and you can read all about its fascinating history here. I speak without irony, other than my ironic honoring of the registered trademark by declining to use it.

The sticky note is what I call an elegant invention. It is extremely simple; it seems obvious in retrospect; it is incredibly versatile. I use sticky notes the way I used to use index cards as a tool for systems thinking. Index cards had the most annoying habit of sliding around and destroying all evidence of my careful analysis with one overexcited gesture as I talk on the phone (something I am wont to do).

Not resting on their laurels, those clever folks at 3M have come up with a glue stick made of the same great stuff--sticky, but not too sticky--that resides on the back of the original notes. Consider, if you will, the implications of the fact that any piece of paper can now become a sticky note. Well. I hope I don't have to spell this out for anyone.

The sticky note is another piece of evidence to support my hypothesis that simpler technologies, when used to their fullest--nay, exploited ruthlessly--are more effective than the latest gadget sitting unopened in its box on the shelf. Of course, I could simply be experiencing confirmatory bias. Nevertheless, I daresay that few lawyers leave boxes of sticky notes unopened on their shelves.