2007
02.27

 

I’m way, way behind on keeping track of my biking milage (something I used to be very obsessed with, as you can see from these posts), but I thought I would least try to make a rough estimate for last year, and then get back on track for this year.

Here are my estimates of miles riden since that last report in July 2006…

Drove the pedicab on about 30 nights with an average of 25 miles per night = 750 miles (this also includes riding a Pedicab in the OKC Streak ride)

Miles rode on rented bicycle in San Francisco in October = 15 miles

Miles rode on brother’s bike while visiting Austin = 6 miles

Miles rode on my own bike (New Schwinn Hybrid) on a different trip to Austin = 10 miles

Estimated other miles rode on my own bike (New Schwinn Hybrid) during those months = 65 miles (this includes a few intermodal round-trips between Newcastle & OKC)

Estimated miles riden in New Orleans on rent bike (actually back in May, but I never wrote these miles down) = 25 miles

This would bring my 2006 year totals to:

Total mileage per bike: 1060.8 -New Schwinn Hybrid; 2.8 (plus lots unrecorded) -Old Schwinn MTB; 8.0-Graziella Folding Bicycle; 1275 – estimated miles on the Pedicab; 46 miles – estimated miles riden on rented/borrowed bikes

Total 2006 miles to date: 1,840

Unfortunately, despite my pedicabing, I fell far-short of my 2006 goal of 2,400 miles.

2007
02.23

 
LATimes.com:Anti-doping case against Landis may be in jeopardy — Possible errors by French laboratory could compromise findings that have threatened U.S. cyclist’s Tour de France victory (thanks to Mennonite Weekly Review for this link)

MSNBC: Lab mishandled Landis’ urine samples — Technicians allowed improper access to alleged Tour de France doper

FloydFairnessFund.org

I’m glad to see the truth is getting out. I never did believe that Floyd was a doper, and I must say that the Tour de France is increasingly becoming a joke. I have nothing against the French in general, but I must say that the French cycling establishment is increasingly hostile towards American cyclists (remember that Lance Armstrong was continually harrassed too). Maybe it is time for the US to create its own bicycling super race to compete with the Tour de France, and for American cyclists to boycott the Tour de France until reforms are made of the drug testing regime.

2007
02.22

 

I’m making another big step in my law practice (which is exciting, but also kinda scary), as I’m starting to establish a virtual presence in Lawton/Fort Sill (and hopefully eventually a physical presence there as well, if I can find some shared office space).

The main things I’m doing are getting a yellow page ad in the upcoming edition of the Lawton Yellow pages, a local phone number in Lawton (that forwards to my line in OKC), as well as a new website focused on Fort Sill:

FortSillAttorney.com

2007
02.16

 

Recently a friend told me about some trailers she saw last summer while camping out in Colorado, and after having seen them online I must say that they seem like the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Wikipedia.org: Teardrop Trailer

A teardrop trailer is a compact, lightweight, convenient travel trailer, which gets its name from its teardrop profile. Teardrop trailers first became popular in the 1930s and remained so until the mid 1970s, when they were supplanted by larger recreational trailers. As baby boomers begin to approach retirement, teardrop trailers have made a resurgence and are growing in popularity today.

There is room inside a teardrop trailer for two people to sleep comfortably, as well as storage for clothes and other items. Outside, in the rear under a hatch, there is usually an area for cooking (galley). Teardrop trailers tend to have lighting and other electrical power supplied by battery, although some have power hookups like regular travel trailers.

Most teardrop trailers are from 4 to 6 feet in width and from 8 to 10 feet in length. They are usually from 4 to 5 feet in height. Wheels and tires are usually outside the body and are covered by fenders. Larger teardrop trailers can have the wheels inside the body. . .

Reading about these trailers, I’m seriously thinking that this might be the way to go. I love tent camping, but I must say that I don’t do much camping in the winter time at all. I think a tiny trailer like a teardrop that was well insulated would be far more comfortable.

I also kinda dig the idea of being able to move temporarily to a new locale on the cheap. If I had a trailer like this I could go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, spend a couple of weeks in the Texas Hill country during bluebonnet season, spend a week living in a small town in Nebraska, whatever I wanted really. Home could be whereever I parked at, and I found a place to stay for a week or so I could just park the car and get around locally by bicycle. And thanks to the internet and cell phones, I can do most of my GI rights legal work remotely anyway.

Anyway it sounds kinda nuts but I’m really getting stoked about the idea. Right now there are some really good teardrop trailers for sale on Ebay in the $5-10,000 range. I’ve also read about how many folks can build their own for around $1000-2000, using plans you can buy online. However all of that said, I’m pretty tight for cash and unless I want to wait several years to get my trailer I may have to go cheaper than that. One thought I’ve had is that I may try to hunt down a used flat utility trailer (4×8 would be a perfect size). I could then build floors, walls and a roof out of plywood (maybe a double-layer with insulation in between). The teardrop shape would be way cool to do, but I could go simpler and maybe do it more boxy. As for the outside, I’m thinking I would just use the best quality paint I can find and seal the corners with alunimum tape. If I went this route, I bet I could build a trailer for less than $500.

And of course down the road I could use the chassis of the trailer to build a true teardrop trailer as finances permit.

Anyway here’s some more links about teardrop trailers…

Tinytears — Teardrop trailer information site

Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers Discussion forum — a great website with lots of pictures of teardrops that folks have built themselves

Mikenchell.com: The weekender — this might be along the lines of what I might be doing, as this is a simplified design made for easy construction.

Teardrops.net Classified ads — here’s a good source for used tear drops. I really like to look at the wide diersity of styles

Teardrops and other trailer designs — great resource showing the basic styles of teardrops (and teardrop-like) trailers

Tinytears.cc: “Tiny Tears” Teardrop Camping Trailers — Scans of the Old How-to-Build Teardrop Plans and Magazine Articles — a really, really neat resource of scans from old magazine articles on how to build these trailers

2007
02.09

Cherokee.org: Information about the upcoming election to deny Freedmen Cherokee citizenship

Cherokee.org: Information about Cherokee voter registration and absentee ballot voting

This is a sad, sad situation. Seeing one group of oppressed people attack another group of oppressed people is a horrible thing. The Cherokees unfortunately and tragically participated in the enslavement of African-Americans (as did many other Indian tribes). They brought these slaves with them on the Trail of Tears, but also in somes intermarried with free slaves who also came to Oklahoma. Later during Reconstruction the tribe was forced to adopt the former slaves as citizens through the treaties signed with the US government. However since then the tribe has repeatedly (and shamefully) acted to keep the Freedmen from taking an active role in Cherokee life.

I can’t vote in this election (my full-blood Cherokee ancestor’s white husband refused to allow his wife and children to be listed on the roll, which is why I don’t have citizenship despite my Cherokee ancestry), but for those Cherokee folks who can vote, please vote against this measure. Our ancestors committed a wrong by enslaving folks. The wrong can’t be undone, but at least we don’t have to continue to oppression.

Here’s some more information on the story of the Black Cherokee Freedmen and what is happening to them today…

Wikipedia.org: Cherokee Freedmen membership controversies

Indianz.com: Judge rules Freedmen can sue Cherokee Nation

Cherokeebyblood.com: Black Indians

African-NativeAmerican.com: Celebrating the Estelusti ~ The Freedmen, Oklahoma’s Black Indians

Freedmen5Tribes.com: News about the Cherokee Special Election

2007
02.08

HPV Vaccine

 

Reagan4Rushmore:Mandatory HPV vaccine in Texas

I think that Rick Perry’s mandatory HPV vaccine for girls entering 6th grade is upsetting.

* Parents should have the right to decide whether to give their teens this vaccine. The government should not take the place of parents.

* This is a weak bow to big company and Perry campaign donor Merck, which will benefit financially from this decision

* Rick Perry made an executive order and thereby circumvented the legislature and the public on this issue.

* Tax payers have to pay.

* Giving parents the option to “opt out” does not constitute a return of control to parents. Having to go through paperwork and red tape removes autonomy from parents. . .

I normally don’t make a practice of defending Republican Governors, but I agree with Rick Perry on this issue. The HPV vaccine will be unavailable to many young women unless it is required (and is paid for by either insurance or the state), and this vaccine will likely save far more lives than the other required vaccinations.

I’m glad of course that there is a religious exemption to the vaccine (in fact, I used such an exemption in law school. The new required meningitis vaccine cost $200+ which I didn’t have, so I used the religious exemption since my “religion” prohibits me from spending $200 I don’t have for a vaccine that is only really needed for folks who live on campus in tight quarters).

2007
02.07

Here’s something that my friend Lance and I are organizing. Please feel free to come…

We need more peace, we need more dialogue, we need more community….

What is it? : A Potluck

Where is it? : 4400 NW Expressway (Park in the south parking lot)

When is it: 7:00 p.m. February 8th

Who is invited?: This potluck is for anyone who is hungry and would
like to talk.

What do I need to bring?: Anything you like to eat. This is a true
potluck, luck of the draw type meal. Feel free to cook, feel free to
bring a bucket of chicken, feel free to bring a bag of chips, feel
free to bring a casserole, just bring something or nothing at all. We
are just planning on sharing from what is brought.

Why a potluck?: We all need to eat, we should eat together. These potlucks
provide a venue for people to talk about peacemaking and they foster a
way for people to meet others and dialogue about what peace and
community mean in this strange world.

Other info: Potlucks for the Promotion of Peace and Community will be
providing the drinks, plates, and utensils for this potluck.
We look forward to seeing you at this event. There is no agenda
other than the promotion of peacemaking and community building. Feel
free to bring musical instruments, perhaps a hootenanny could break
out….

Where is it?:

OKC 1st Church of the Nazarene

4400 NW Expressway

Oklahoma City, OK

Contact:

Contact name: Lance A Schmitz

Phone: 405.843.9588

E-mail: lanceschmitz(at)gmail.com

Or

Contact name: James Branum

E-mail: jmb(at)jmbzine.com

Please feel free to invite all of your friends.

2007
02.06

 

Sorry I haven’t blogged much lately but there’s a lot going on in my professional and personal life. I thought I would give a bit of an update for friends who are interested…

My GI rights law practice has really taken off. I had assumed that I would get a rush of new business around the holidays (an after Christmas rush, with lots of folks going home on leave and not wanting to come back) but thanks to Bush’s Surge plans (and a lot of ridiculous decisions by the command chains of some of my clients) I’ve been very, very busy lately.

Here’s my current stats…

34 total cases since September ’06 where I’ve done some work or provided consultation to a soldier. 16 of those cases are open (still being worked) and 18 of those are closed (either the client had success in their case or the client decided to not pursue things further at some point in their case) So far, all of them have been either Army or Army National Guard.

So, thanks to the new caseload I had to adjust my work schedule with my other job (I practice Consumer Bankruptcy and Criminal Defense at my father’s law firm), so now I’m working for him on only Tuesday & Thursdays (except for criminal court appearances that sometimes are on other days). The new schedule so far is working really well, as it allows me to be more focused on my work with him on those two days, but leaves me with plenty of time to work my military cases. And the other big plus is that it cuts my driving in half (which is a big plus financially and environmentally).

The other big challenge I’m having is that it is harder than I thought to work at home. I’m not sure why, but for for some reason it seems that when I put on a jacket and tie and go to the office I’m much more focused and in a “work mode” as compared to sitting at home with my laptop working in a flannel shirt and pajama pants. If I had the money I would think about getting an office but I really don’t have the funds. I’ve thought some about using a room next door at the church (our church meets in an old house, I live in the garage apartment there) as I’m already renting a room over there for storage. If I could get it a little cleaner and set up better, maybe it would make a good office for me.

As far as other stuff in my personal life, I’m looking forward to the return of nicer weather hopefully very soon. I haven’t bicycled much lately and I really miss that. I’m also thinking ahead towards tomato season. I had hoped to grow and sell tomato plants this year but I got to get moving fast on it as I need to have my plants started indoors around Feb. 15.

I am blessed right now though with lots of good friends and I feel closer to my family than I have in a long time. All very good things. My romantic life as usual is pretty much non-existent. I know I should get out there more but it is hard to think about connecting to women in that way when your own life is so unsettled. I guess everyone feels that way.

2007
02.01

Missing Molly Ivins

 

I added the second article to this post on February 5, 2007

Statesman.com:Molly Ivins, queen of liberal commentary, dies — Austin resident battled breast cancer.

Truthout.org/The Nation: Remembering Molly Ivins – by John Nichols

Molly Ivins always said she wanted to write a book about the lonely experience of East Texas civil rights campaigners to be titled No One Famous Ever Came. While the television screens and newspapers told the stories of the marches, the legal battles and the victories of campaigns against segregation in Alabama and Mississippi, Ivins recalled, the foes of Jim Crow laws in the region where she came of age in the 1950s and ’60s often labored in obscurity without any hope that they would be joined on the picket lines by Nobel Peace Prize winners, folk singers, Hollywood stars or senators.

And Ivins loved those righteous strugglers all the more for their willingness to carry on.

The warmest-hearted populist ever to pick up a pen with the purpose of calling the rabble to the battlements, Ivins understood that change came only when some citizen in some off-the-map town passed a petition, called a Congressman or cast an angry vote to throw the bums out. The nation’s mostly widely syndicated progressive columnist, who died January 31 at age 62 after a long battle with what she referred to as a “scorching case of cancer,” adored the activists she celebrated from the time in the late 1960s when she created her own “Movements for Social Change” beat at the old Minneapolis Tribune and started making heroes of “militant blacks, angry Indians, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers.” . . .

Molly holds a dear spot in my heart because I first started reading her when I was making my own metamorphisis from a conservative to a liberal. She will definitely be missed for not only her standing up for what is right but for also making folks laugh so hard while she did it.

CNN: At Molly Ivins’ memorial: Laughing and clapping

. . . Bush, whom Ivins referred to as “Shrub,” issued a statement after her death that said he respected her convictions and “her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase.”

Journalism colleagues packed the church Sunday a block from the Texas Capitol, where so many of the politicians who she poked fun at spend their days. The celebration then moved to Scholz Garden, a famous spot for telling stories and drinking beer near the University of Texas campus. . .

Ahh… I wish I could have been there. Scholz’s is one of my favorite Austin places and definitely was a good fit for a place to drink beer and tell stories about Molly.