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12 of 12, May edition
This month 12 of 12 finds us in lovely Eureka, CA. bilunabirotunda and I go to Eureka every Memorial Day, but because I'm going to be in New Orleans all summer we're here a bit early.

Heather's hands
Heather's hands across the table at Kristina's Coffee Shop where we had breakfast (or lunch, if you're going by the clock, which we weren't).

Trinidand State Beach
Trinidad State Beach.

barnacles at Trinidad State Beach
Barnacles at said beach.

H.R. Geiger-inspired rock at Trinidad State Beach
Veins in a rock at Trinidad, reminds me a bit of H.R. Giger.

moss and pinecones at Patrick's Point
We then went off to Patrick's Point, which is as rich in photographic subjects as anyone could hope for.

fern unfurling at Patrick's Point
Patrick's Point is big on ferns and always adding to the collection.

banana slug, profile
Go slugs!

dinner at Mazzotti's in Eureka!
Eureka means dinner at Mazzotti's on two of our three nights in town. Bread, garlic-herb butter, and oil and balsamic vinegar with every meal.

Heather posing for the dinner-time camera
bilunabirotunda posing for the camera over dinner.

feeding the seagulls
After dinner, a walk down to the Eureka boardwalk.

downtown Eureka
Eureka is very proud of its Historic Downtown district.

candy at Bon Boniere Ice Cream
This day ends, like every day in Eureka, at Bon Boniere Ice Creamery.

One free scoop with each case
I went to pick up my client (age 9) from school today and before leaving we stopped to buy some ice cream from a stand the school runs to raise money. I stood with her and her friend, the only adult in line, so of course some of the other kids were looking at me. One was staring at me and her eyes got really big when the friend leaned over and whispered, "That's her lawyer!" I didn't bother to point out that I'm still a student.

Heather thinks she must have been wondering what my client did to need a lawyer. I think she was wondering how she could get a lawyer who would buy her ice cream.

Whenever I take some time to think about what I want to do after I finish law school I try to list the things that I really care about. There are always specific positions such as ending the death penalty or promoting marriage equality, but I keep finding the word "civilization" cropping up on these lists, and I often find my reasoning for certain positions (law-related and not) passing through that concept at some point: transparent government policies are more civilized; abolish the death penalty because it is uncivilized; etc.

It crops up often enough that I worry I am using it as a shorthand for "Because I like it." There is always a certain amount of this in value statements, but I hope that I mean something more than that. But what?

To me civilization means values and institutions geared for long-term success for as many people as possible. This means being smart. It means systematically trying to encourage the best in people. It means an emphasis on compassion and reason, habits of thinking (and rethinking) about how systems and individuals work, and constant practice at taming our base instincts such as revenge, greed, and laziness when they interfere with our long-term goals.

Without compassion a society fails to maximize benefits for those with less power. This harms them directly but it is also bad for society: too unstable. Too unpleasant. Too inefficient.

Without reason a society has a hard time understanding the world and planning for the future. The world is a volatile place and we need to keep on our toes if we're going to survive.

Without control of our base instincts society becomes unable to follow the dictates of reason and compassion. I'm currently re-reading Njal's Saga and I'm struck by how many characters can see clearly that there will be terrible consequences for their choices yet they make them anyway, feeling bound by unchecked ambition or a desire for revenge. They can see, but when overcome by their passions they can not translate their vision into wise choices.

This is another post written primarily for me to clarify or organize my own thoughts rather than to make any real point or convince anyone of anything. I think I've at least started to get my head in order here.

another language quibble
I can see both sides of legalizing prostitution but isn't it insulting to women to speak of prostitution as "buying women"? We don't speak of builders as "buying men" when they hire day laborers. At most prostitution is renting women, paying them for an admittedly intimate job. This suggests that the transaction pays for the entire woman ("buys her") whenever her sex services are solicited - and thus that this is the entirety of womanhood.

I admit this sounds horribly deconstructionist and for that I should do penance by reading some Martin Gardner and Bertrand Russell.

using best practices in performing due dilligence
I don't mind when law, business, or other subcultures create their own lingo but it drives me to distraction when words are re-appropriated ungrammatically. The two examples on my mind are:

due diligence
'Diligence' is a characteristic, not an action, so you can "employ due diligence" but you can not "perform due diligence."

best practices
'Best' is a superlative so there can be only one: you can use "good practices" or "the best practice" or even "the best practices" if you want to suggest the top few but you do not "use best practices."

What bugs me about these is that it would cost nothing in time, money, effort, or attention to do it right. I think it happens when people start hearing and using a phrase so often that the meaning becomes divorced from the words and what they themselves mean. I like paying attention to what words mean and I think it's good for thought and communication to do so.

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12 of 12, March edition
Rain nearly interfered with 12 of 12 plans, but my camera and I persevered.

rainy day at the vet
First, a visit to the Mission pet Hospital to pick up medicine for Clyde.

Hot chocolate and Njal's Saga at Wicked Grounds
I had some time to kill before my next appointment so I stopped by animedarling's cafe, Wicked Grounds, for a nice cup of hot chocolate and some cozy time reading Njal's Saga - Hallgerd has goaded a slave into stealing butter and cheese from his former master, who then refuses Gunnar's generous offers of compensation.

my client, Sedrick
One of my clients through the Child Advocacy Clinic whom I was dropping off at the BART station.

Sedrick's photo of me
His photo of me.

a dog named Bird
After dropping him off I went for a couple of walks, the first at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, where I met a dog named Bird.

mysterious wrapped package
Then I went over to the Albany Bulb, which I've wanted to explore for years. Found this on the shore.

Southern path
The path along the Albany Bulb. The place is full of folk art/art installations/neat things like this.

tree of shoes
A tree full of shoes at the Albany Bulb.

Mad Mark's Castle
One of the most prominent items at the Albany Bulb is Mad Mark's Castle, which has certainly seen better days.

guard dog that nearly bit me
There's a very large homeless population on the bulb, large and permanent enough that it might be fairly called a colony. I guess I got a little too close to someone's encampment because this dog came out and let me know in no uncertain terms that I was not welcome, barking and even nudging at my ankle as I walked away.

Cyde looking appalled
Back home to domestic bliss: bilunabirotunda and cats.

green daikon
Furthering our domestic bliss, an experimental green daikon about to be oven-roasted with other root veggies.

my new hero
Heather and I went to Santa Cruz today. We were sitting out front of Zoccoli's having sandwiches when I saw this little kid a couple dozen meters away trying to get into a store. He couldn't have been more than three, still a toddler, and he was out on the sidewalk with his own stroller (empty without him) and another double-wide stroller with two kids inside. He was having the hardest time trying to push and pull the double-wide stroller into the store because the swinging glass door kept pulling shut and getting in his way. After about 20 seconds of this the kid goes over, grabs his own empty stroller, parks it sideways against the swinging door to prop it open, then ambles into the store pushing the double-wide.

an afternoon at the Exploratorium
Heather x 2

steel spark

bubble sheets

car rental economics
I'm considering renting a car for when I go to the south this summer. Looking on the Budget site, I selected a five day rental and accidentally checked the "I'll be returning the car to the same rental location" box, giving me a price of $178.99. Noticing my mistake I went back and changed the destination, then got a new price of $845.99. Whoa!

So I did a little experimenting. Going from Oakland airport to various locations got these prices:

New York, NY: $717.99
Los Angeles, CA: $700.00
Jackson, MS: $845.99
Yuma, AZ: $445.99
Miami, FL: $717.99
New Orleans, LA: $845.99
Memphis, TN: $625.00

Then I tried the reverse, Little Rock to Oakland: $423.99.

Here's the real kicker - after noticing an "airport concession fee" I changed pick-up location from Oakland airport to Gilman Street in Berkeley, dropping off in Little Rock. New price: $329.99.

Lesson: don't rent your a from Budget's airport location (same trick made no change when looking at the Avis site), or if you do be sure to return it there!

P.S. This and the previous KTC Death Penalty Project posts are friends-only because not all applicants have been told whether they got in so we've been asked to keep it quiet.

Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt
Kim, Kaye, and I did the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt tonight. Much puzzle solving, walking, and fun. It's always enjoyable to see two friends meet for the first time and get on really well.

dragon head
Dragon nearly gets the ball

Kim looking for a clue
Kim looking for a clue

lions and dragons and firecrackers
Lions and dragons and firecrackers

this way to the black blood of the earth
This way to the Black Blood of the Earth.