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October, 2013:

Memorial Tattoo for Rocky

Rocky Kees (December 20, 1949 - August 14, 2013)

Rocky Kees (December 20, 1949 – August 14, 2013)

As you know, my gymnastics coach and mentor of 24 years – Rocky – died earlier this year. Shortly after he passed away, I started thinking about whether I wanted to get a memorial tattoo in his honor. Surprisingly, I’m still leaning towards “no,” but I’m entertaining the thought process.

I had a conversation with Rocky’s daughter and my teammates about some of the imagery that we associate with Rocky. This list we came up with definitely showed what a unique and special guy he was:

  • Leg warmers (that he would wear over his sweatpants)
  • Coffee in his left hand, cigarette in his right
  • Baby duck (his nickname for a lot of us)
  • Altoids (that he would eat 6 at a time)
  • Dancing – he was always dancing

And there are the great lines he gave us:

  • “Get a helmet.”
  • “Turn the page.”
  • “It’s only hard.”
  • “Do what you know how to do.”

The hard thing about picking a tattoo is it’s challenging to capture a feeling in an image. What I loved most about Rocky wasn’t the way he looked like or what he said, but how I felt when I was around him. He knew how to make everyone feel special. When you were talking with him, you knew that he genuinely cared about how the topic affected you. We talked for hours and I always felt that unconditional positive regard from him. How do I put that into a tattoo?

I recently saw a video from best-selling sci-fi author Scott Sigler. He’s an incredible guy with a loyal fan base (called Junkies). These guys love his work so much they get tattoos of images from his book. (If you get a Sigler tattoo, he’ll write you into one of his books.) Two of his fans have had Scott sign their skin with a Sharpie and they immediately got it tattooed into their bodies. It’s pretty cool actually.

Rocky SignatureThis got me thinking – I have Rocky’s signature. My gym did a big annual show and I had my coaches and teammates sign my program each year. I could, if I wanted a memorial tattoo, get his signature inked into my skin. He had such a profound influence on my life that it would be an appropriate way to honor him. Like an artist gets to sign their paintings, it wouldn’t be weird to say Rocky get to claim his impact on me, and so many other people.

So where would I put it? Probably on the back of my left leg, just above my ankle. Rocky always had my back and usually stood just over my left shoulder so it would be sweet to put his name on my left side.

I would probably add “1949-2013” beneath it so anyone who saw it would know it’s a memorial tattoo, not a love interest. We’ll see if I get the sign that I’m supposed to get this.

What’s the Better Rush: Skydiving or Litigation?

Last Friday, The Namby Pamby tweeted:

Namby Tweet

My response: “You know there’s this activity called skydiving – does the trick too with a lot more fun.”

Namby claims he won’t “jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” but I think he’s denying a parachute its destiny.

The closest things I’ve done to litigation is trial advocacy classes where the final was a mini fake trial, so I can’t say whether litigation prep or skydiving is a better adrenaline rush. But here’s the breakdown of the experiences from my perspective and based The Namby Pamby’s and The Mrs. Namby Pamby’s tweets.

SKYDIVING LITIGATION
It’s Saturday I’m doing whatever I want You’re working
The View Amazing view from the plane and on the way down I hope your office has a window
The Company Handpicking my group, including inviting the awesome Peter Shankman if he’s in town Dealing with potentially annoying coworkers, opposing counsel, and clients
The Significant Other Can come too Has trouble remembering what you look like
The Money Paying for the experience Getting paid – but how much do you really make per hour?
The Risk I could die – but it will be fast You could be dying a slow death – due to stress, substance abuse, poor diet, etc.
The Social Good Probably minimal Righting a wrong

Created with the HTML Table Generator

I asked my legal eagle friends whether skydiving or litigation had a better rush and they agree that skydiving is better than litigation.

Mike: “Skydiving. I’ve done both, and there’s no comparison.”

Chad: “I am going to say skydiving. After several years I began to dread litigation. I can’t imagine skydiving losing its appeal because the other skydivers are unprofessional poorly trained ass hats.”

A criminal defense attorney recently told me that hearing the phrase “Not guilty” was better than orgasm and I get that given that that might be a live-or-death situation. However, I remain unconvinced that doing litigation prep all weekend has a better adrenaline rush than skydiving.

What do you think?

 

Just When I Thought My Book Was Finished . . .

Everyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter knows I’ve been writing up a storm this year. I did a revision of my self-published ebook The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed and published Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans through the American Bar Association (ABA). (I’ve got to get shorter subtitles.) I finished the first draft of the manuscript for The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers in August and I thought the majority of my book writing obligations were done for the year. I was wrong.

Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

My book is being published by the Law Practice (LP) section of the ABA. (For you non-lawyers, this is the section that’s all about how to run a law firm more effectively.) When you write for them, you get a team of people who work on your book. Here’s a glimpse of who I’m working with:

  • Shawn my project manager
  • Evan and Dennis my peer reviewers (who make sure everything I wrote is legally sound)
  • Tom the head of the LP publishing department (who makes himself read everything before it gets published)
  • The copywriter (who will fix all my bad grammar)
  • The marketing team who is charge of my cover and promotions

I got to see a lot of my team at the recent LP fall meeting in Phoenix. When I turned my manuscript over to them, I thought I was basically done except of approving my cover art and proofreading edits. The team loves my book and said it’s a great first draft, but they’ve asked for a re-write which might include a re-arrangement of chapters, a new forward, and changing the forward into an afterword. I appreciated the feedback and I’m all for putting out the best book possible, but it’s going to be a challenge timewise.

The LP section wants my book done and published by the ABA TechShow in March 2014. I responded that I’m meeting Gary Vaynerchuk in person when he does his book signing for his new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook in Arizona in December and I promised him a paper copy. (Yes, I’m fully aware and embrace the fact that I have a massive professional hard-on for Gary Vaynerchuk.)

My mug from the Space Age Cafe in Gila Bend

My mug from the Space Age Cafe in Gila Bend

My calendar is pretty full for the rest of October and November that I’m at the point where I have to think hard before agreeing to go to any events or activities that aren’t already on my schedule. And now I need to figure out how I’m going to do a re-write by Halloween on top of all that so it can get through peer-review, copy editing, and get a galley printed and shipped to me by December 5th.

This is going to be fun . . . and by fun, I mean high-caffeinated. 😉

I had a chance to speak with Tom at the LP fall meeting. He said he really liked that my first draft was easy to read and then he asked if I had more books in me. That was a very flattering statement coming from him, but at the same time my first thought was to punch him in the face. After working on three books this year, I’m going to need a break from book writing once this book is done before I start thinking about the next one.

Road Tripping with Rosie

Heading out at 4 a.m. - Rosie with her car seat cover.

Heading out at 4 a.m.

A few weeks ago, Rosie and I went on our first long road trip together to Sonoma, California to attend a friend’s memorial. Rosie regularly goes on errands with me when I go to dog-friendly places (PetSmart, Gangplank, my aunt’s house, etc.) but this was our first multi-hour drive. Since she’s a frequent rider, I got her some nice car gear – a quilted seat cover and a car harness to keep her from going flying if I have to slam on the brakes.

We pulled out of the house at about 4 a.m. and headed north. I don’t know how other drivers sit for 6 hours at a time; my legs get too sore and my bladder is too small for that. Having Rosie in the car made it even easier to make sure I stopped every 2-3 hours to let her stretch her legs, go to the bathroom, and have a drink and a snack.  I learned Rosie doesn’t like hard dog treats while driving. She wasn’t even interested in having some of my apple slices. Her preferred road trip snack is pieces of boiled chicken.

Watching the World

Watching the World

It was also funny to watch her react to the different types of grass at each gas station. We have short dry grass in Phoenix but the farther north we got, the grass was taller and more lush. You could barely see her feet at one place we stopped. We also passed a dairy farm on the drive. You can smell that place miles before you get there. Rosie was immediately standing up with her nose in the air trying to take in the new (and very strong) smells.

In ideal conditions the drive takes about 11.5 hours. Unfortunately, we hit a bit of traffic in L.A. which made us hit rush hour traffic in the Bay Area, so it took us 13.5 hours. She was so tired by the time we arrived at my parents’ house and confused about where she was but she settled in after a good night’s sleep. Rosie loved the cooler climate, especially when I opened the front door and let her watch the world through the screen. (Note to self: get a screen door for the front of the Phoenix house.)

No Rosies Allowed . . . or Fun

No Rosies Allowed . . . or Fun

We definitely knew we were in a small town when we out for our first walk to the plaza. There’s a beautiful park in the town square, but we were greeted by signs that said, “Dogs, Horses, Skateboarding, Bicycling, Climbing Trees or Monuments Prohibited in Park.” A park where you can’t bring your dog and you can’t climb trees? WTF?! (Apparently they’ve had trouble with people’s dogs killing ducks; I’m not sure why they’re anti-tree-climbing.) We walked around the edge and visited with people who were out for their morning coffee.

I hoped to take Rosie to a dog-friendly beach to see how she’d react to sand beneath her feet and the sound, sight, smell, and cold of the ocean waves, but it rained the morning we were planning to go. So we decided to have a mellow morning instead. I made a run to the grocery store and when I got back I saw she had found a Rosie-sized seat for herself on the couch. She knows she’s not supposed to be on the furniture, and she usually respects this rule, but I couldn’t help but say, “Aww…” when I saw this.

Bad Dog . . . But So Cute

Bad Dog . . . But So Cute

Our drive back to Phoenix was faster and uneventful – 12.5 hours total. I thought about breaking the drive up over two days but I was ready to get home so we pushed on. Rosie was very happy to be back in her familiar environment.

Traveling with a dog requires extra time, extra planning, and it limits how much time you can be away from them. I’m glad I had this experience with Rosie, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again. Rosie handled the drives really well, but I think she’d rather go to camp (aka the kennel) instead of road tripping with Mom.

Boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics and its Sponsors

Like many of you, I’m disgusted by the Russian law that prohibits discussing “non-traditional” sexual relationships in the presence of minors or suggesting that such relationships are equal to “traditional” ones. Russian officials claim the law is designed to protect minors.

Bullshit.

When laws are written to “protect the children” when their physical safety isn’t at risk, it’s the government’s way of trying to justify their closed-minded assholery.

Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge by Jon Curnow from Flickr (Creative Common License)

Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge by Jon Curnow from Flickr (Creative Common License)

This law pissed me off and I’m proud of anyone who is standing up against it. I was really pissed off this week when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claimed that they have no grounds to challenge the Russian law and that they are satisfied with the situation as long as “the Olympic charter is respected.”

Let’s look at the Olympic charter. Page 11 contains the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” which include the following:

  • “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” and
  • “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Tell me again how the Russian anti-LGBT law doesn’t violate these principles?

I can understand why the IOC doesn’t want to call off the games or try to move the venue but to say that there’s nothing they can do about the Russian law suggests that their scared of what will happen if they speak out against it. But by staying silent, they are condoning it. How can they claim to have fundamental principles in their charter if they won’t stand up for what they believe when they are challenged? And I understand why countries aren’t boycotting the games – I don’t think the athletes should be punished because the host country is run by bigots. If the athletes want to boycott the games, that’s their prerogative.

When the anti-LGBT law was passed, the boycott of Russian vodka started. I don’t drink, but I fully support this effort. When I heard that the IOC wouldn’t speak out against the law, I was angry and disappointed. My friend ask what I was going to do about it and I said I was going to boycott the games – and I love to watch the Olympics. She suggested that I boycott the Olympic sponsors too.

That makes perfect sense! They have money on the line and are expecting a good return on their investment. For people who feel strongly about this issue should put their money where their mouths are and not patronize the companies who are sponsoring the games – at least for the duration of the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics (February 7-23 and March 7-16, 2014). The 2014 games sponsors include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, and Proctor and Gamble. If you want to join the boycott, you may be paying cash for everything and you’ll have to read the labels of your personal and household products for that month.

I’m a huge fan of spending money with companies who represent your values. I don’t shop at Walmart because of the way they treat their employees; I don’t patronize Barilla because of their anti-gay stance; I won’t shop at any store during the holidays that has a Salvation Army bell ringer outside because they discriminate against the LGBT community; and even though Chick-fil-A doesn’t support anti-gay groups, I still can’t bring myself to go there.

One thing that will convince me not to boycott the Olympic sponsors is if the companies add pro-LGBT images (same-sex couples, rainbow flags, etc.) to their Olympic marketing materials. I understand why a company can’t back out now, but they would have an awesome effect if they said “fuck you” to the Russians and filled Sochi and the Olympic TV coverage with rainbows.