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Ruth Carter

Minimalism Project Update – Cleaning Out My Photos

I’ve been on a roll with my minimalism project lately. I cleaned out my CDs, got rid of most of my Star Trek collection, and most recently I scanned and threw out most of my photos. I got rid of a lot of my photos last year when I cleaned out my dresser, but I still had about half a drawer of photos.

During my down time for about a week, I sorted my photos, sent them through my scanner, and saved them to my hard drive. I kept the prints of the ones that were the most important to me and I threw out the rest. I have less than a shoebox of photos left.

I also threw out all my negatives. I kept all of them for years, taking comfort in the fact that I could reproduce an image if necessary. But really, what’s the likelihood that I’m going to want a photo that I only have a negative of and that I’ll remember that I have a negative of it? They all got tossed.

Scanning all my photos was a fun trip down memory lane. Here are some of the highlights.

I was an adorable baby. (1980)

I was an adorable baby. (1980)

Always an athletic kid (1987)

Always an athletic kid (1987)

USAIGC Regional Gymnastics Championships (1995)

USAIGC Regional Gymnastics Championships (1995)

The Psychotic Friends Network (2000)

The Psychotic Friends Network (1999)

Undergrad Graduation (2001)

Undergrad Graduation (2001)

 

 

I Minimized My Star Trek Collection

It took over a year to fully go through with it, but I finally minimized my Star Trek collection.  I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I saw my first episode of The Next Generation in 1992. Throughout high school and college I bought a ton of Star Trek memorabilia. I got so much Trek stuff from the Star Trek online store and eBay. One of my goals was to get an autographed 8×10 from every regular cast member.

And then I became a minimalist, or at least an aspiring one.

Part of my Star Trek collection - I only own 1 of the items now.

Part of my Star Trek collection – I only own 1 of these items now.

As I started my minimalism project last year, I realized that most of my Star Trek collection was collecting dust, sitting on shelves, or worse, sitting in boxes where I didn’t even see it.  I slowly started getting rid of my Star Trek collection, but I didn’t want it to go to a thrift store. It was important to me that these items would end up in the hands of fans who will enjoy them as much as I did. I also didn’t want to put a ton of energy into getting rid of my collection, which would have been required had I put each item up on eBay.

My Star Trek Pez dispenser set and Uno game went to a local charity auction and were sold – hopefully to a fan. But the rest of the items I was thinking of parting with just sat for about a year. It just wasn’t a priority to find a local shop that buys sci-fi memorabilia and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get rid of my Star Trek autograph collection. I wasn’t a fan who put their autographs on the wall – at least I haven’t for years. They were in protective sleeves in a binder where I almost never looked at them.

Reading Everything That Remains by The Minimalists reminded me that my autograph collection does not add any value to my life sitting in a binder on a shelf. So a few weeks ago, in a fit of minimalist motivation, I got rid of most of my collection at the Collectors Marketplace. They took my Star Trek autograph collection, Klingon dagger, Star Trek mini lunch box, assorted pins, my Captain’s uniform that is too big for me, my Star Trek Encyclopedia, and a few other things. Why did I even have the Star Trek Encyclopedia? I am a walking Star Trek encyclopedia!

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection - that I Don't Own Anymore

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection – that I Don’t Own Anymore

The shop got a smoking deal on my collection. I didn’t put that much effort into the negotiation because I cared more about getting rid of this stuff than the price. When I told the shopkeeper that I was becoming a minimalist, he told me not to say that too loudly in the store because “We want people to be hoarders.” When he asked me if I’m still a Star Trek fan, and I told him I still love Star Trek, but I don’t need all this stuff to tell me that I love it. More stuff does not equal more love.

Will I ever by Star Trek gear again? Probably. But I will be very selective about it and get things that are high quality and do something to improve my life. This is the first time in a long time that I don’t have a Starfleet uniform in my closet (yes, it’s a uniform, not a costume) so I can foresee myself getting a high-end uniform someday.

Minimalism Project Update – Cleaning Out my CDs

When I started systematically cleaning out my life last year, I got rid of a lot of the obvious clutter in my life. Now I’m going back through my possessions and asking myself what truly adds value to my current life. In the last few weeks, I cleaned out my CDs.

My CD Binder

My CD Binder

Like a lot of people, I saved space in college by getting a CD binder and throwing out most of my jewel cases. I had a big binder – 26 pages, 8 CD slots per page – that was mostly filled with CDs I’ve acquired since high school. When I de-cluttered the house last year, I moved that binder from the top of the dresser into a drawer.  I also had two smaller CD cases that I used when I traveled.

I suspect I haven’t purchased more than 10 CDs in the last 10 years. I certainly haven’t opened that binder since it went into a drawer over a year ago. I probably could have simply taken that binder and moved it to the pile of stuff to be donated to charity. But there was a voice in my head that was afraid that I might regret doing that and that there might be a song that hadn’t burned that I’d want to listen to later. (Because buying it on iTunes would be so expensive.) So I spent my downtime for the better part of a week going through my CD binder and burning CDs.

Some of the CDs I used to Own

Some of the CDs I used to Own

When I first got iTunes, I went through my CDs and burned the songs I loved and enjoyed off each album. Unfortunately, when I put the CD into my computer last week, it didn’t tell me which songs had been previously burned, so I had to re-burn everything if I didn’t want to check what songs I downloaded previously. I probably wasted a lot of time burning songs I’ll never listen to, but by the end of the process, all the albums I wanted were burned into my computer and I had no trepidation giving the originals away.

Burning a binder full of CDs takes a long time. I played a lot of solitaire during this process.

My Current CD Collection Fits in Here

My Current CD Collection Fits in Here

My CD binder and two travel cases have been reduced to one travel case that holds up to 48 CDs – and it’s not even full. I have a CD player in my car and there are handful of albums I rotate through it. I also kept a couple of podcasts that I’ve burned to CDs that aren’t available iTunes anymore and the backing tracks that came with sheet music books. Everything I’ve kept are albums I regularly listen to and expect to continue to listen to in the future.

Cleaning out my CDs allowed me to reclaim about half of a drawer. It doesn’t seem like much but every little bit of de-cluttering makes me feel that much more at peace.

And since I know someone’s going to ask, here are my thoughts about the legalities of burning CDs and getting rid of the originals. A lot of minimalists suggest doing this.

How Could Anyone Not Love This Dog?

My baby girl doesn’t cry. And by “baby girl” I mean my basset hound Rosie. Yes, she howls when the phone rings and she’ll bark when she gets excited, but she rarely cries.

Rosie Bone

Sweet Rosie

Last week we were out for a walk and she walked through a patch of dirt and pebbles. She’s walked over this area many times before without any problems. Unbeknownst to us, a recent storm blew a bunch of dry stickers into the rocks and we didn’t realize it until she stepped in them. She didn’t make a sound, but picked up one of her back paws. It had at least five stickers in it. I removed them, and gently put her foot down on clear ground. I picked up each of paws and removed several stickers from each one. I pulled at least fifteen stickers out from her feet. She didn’t make a sound, not even when one of them drew blood. When her paws were sticker-free again, she looked up at me, turned around, and headed for home. She was done.

Rosie almost never cries when she’s in pain. She didn’t cry when she pulled a muscle in her leg. She didn’t cry when she had valley fever. She didn’t cry when she had tumors in her gums that had to be surgically removed. She didn’t cry when she got a bug bite between her toes that had swelled up bigger than a nickel. It makes me wonder what her life was like before I adopted her and if she learned not to cry because she was punished when she did or because no one cared.

I adopted Rosie from the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue a little over two years ago. She was four years old at the time. As the story was told to me, her first owner took good care of her. I have her AKC registration and her records that show she got a check-up every six months. Then something happen and he gave her away. Rosie ended up with someone who was neglectful for about six months. I don’t know all the details but I know by the time the Basset Rescue got her, one of her nails had grown so long it curled under her paw and was pushing into the pad of her foot. Her teeth were so bad she needed surgery.

Sleepy Rosie

Sleepy Rosie

How could anyone treat my baby girl so badly? How could her first owner never check on her? I can’t let her go to the kennel for more than a few days without checking on her. Rosie is one of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet. Even people who aren’t fond of dogs in general love her. All she wants is to be loved.

The other day I was getting Rosie’s dinner ready and I added a few bites of chicken to her kibble. She was sitting at my feet and I decided to see if she could catch a piece of chicken if I tossed it at her. I took a few steps back, got her attention, and gently lobbed a piece of chicken at her. Instead of trying to catch it, she cringed. It makes me sick to think that this reaction means that someone used to throw things at her.

I hope Rosie’s forgotten what her life used to be like.  I try not to think about what it used to be like, because it makes me sad and disgusted.  I just try to give her the best life I can from now on. Few things make me smile faster than seeing that tail wag.

New Kicks!

In my last post I talked about my latest running injury. Today, I’m going to share the culprit behind my pain – dead shoes.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my short life as a runner from the staff at Runner’s Den and the physical therapists at Endurance Rehab – running shoes have a lifespan of about 400-500 miles. If you run particularly hard on your feet, it’ll be shorter. If you live conditions that are hard on your shoes, like the desert, it’ll be shorter.  And the soles of a pair of running shoes will rot in about a year even if you never wear them.

Usually the tell-tale sign that I need new shoes is pain in the arch of my foot, but since I added SOLE insoles this year, my arches have held up really well and have been virtually pain free for months. When I started experiencing leg pain last month, my first thought wasn’t that my shoes had worn out, especially considering how fast it came on. With minimal improvement after 2 weeks of home treatment, I headed to Runner’s Den for their weekly injury clinic.

Matt from Endurance Rehab confirmed the inflammation in my leg and speculated that my shoes were dead. Something was letting my arch roll in when I ran which pulled on my soleus and my post-tibialis, which caused the inflammation and pain.

Nate at Runner’s Den confirmed that my shoes were dead. He popped out my insoles and easily bent them in half. Runner’s Den does a great job fitting people for shoes – they watch how you walk, talk about your specific needs, and make you run outside in every pair you try on. Nate noted that the wear pattern on my shoes looked really good so we probably had the right shoe for me. Even then, we tried on another type to confirm that we had the best shoe for my needs – the Asics GT-2000.

My New Shoes

My New Shoes – Asics GT-2000

When it comes to running shoes, function surpasses fashion. I don’t care what color my shoes are as long as they work. And Runner’s Den usually carries my shoes in only one color. Last time, they had the GT-2000 in black, purple, and a touch of yellow. This time they had it in white, hot pink, and neon yellow.

There is something about these white and hot pink shoes that make me smile.  They’re so happy. And I wanted to document how pretty they are because they won’t stay white for very long on my feet.

I think there was something more than the color of my new shoes that made me happy. Buying something usually does not make me giddy, but these shoes did. And I think it’s because these shoes embody hope for me. Running pain-free in these shoes keeps me dream of running the marathon next year alive. It was hard sitting out the 2014 race with injuries and now that I’m so close to getting back into the training groove, I didn’t want to be sidelined again.

I’m excited and optimistic about taking care of this injury and getting back to pounding pavement.

Old-School Icing Techniques for my Running Injury

I’m using this summer to get my legs ready to train for the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon – Arizona in January. Training will start in mid-September and I want to be comfortably running 18 miles a week by then.

A few weeks ago I did an easy 4-mile run. I felt good, until about 8 hours later when I felt a searing pain in my left post-tibialis (inner calf). It was the strangest thing. I figured I pushed a little too hard (even though it didn’t feel like I did) and I rested it for a few days – but the pain didn’t go away. I emailed my physical therapist who suggested ice and stretching. It was kind of hard to get my gel pack to mold to this part of my leg so I decided to go old school for this.

(My gymnastics family knows I much prefer the suck-it-up-ibuprofen-and-tape approach to injuries and if I’m icing something, it must really hurt. And in this case, I’m thinking about the long game. I’ll take care of myself now to be able to have the race I want in January.)

Ripped Cup

Ripped Cup

I opted to go back to using ice cups instead of gel packs. I learned about ice cups when I was a gymnast. It’s what my club used for the communal ice needs – mostly by the team kids who were there the most and got the most injuries. Ice cups are fairly simple to make – fill a disposable cup (styrofoam or high-quality paper) with water and freeze. My drug store only had styrofoam cups so I went with those. Their smallest package had 51 cups.

Double Cup

Double Cup

I ran into a small a problem right off the bat – the ice ripped through the bottom. I think what happened was the top (not being insulated by the cup) froze first and when the ice at bottom froze and expanded, had nowhere to go but down and out. Paper cups are less insulated by nature and may not have this problem as much – and probably freeze faster.

The solution: add a second cup before using.

Using an ice cup is simple: tear off the top edge of the cup and apply to the injured area is a smooth motion. It’s essentially a big ice cube and the cup protects your hand from getting cold and wet. It’s best to do this outside or with a thick towel folded several times beneath the area you’re icing because it drips a lot. As the ice melts, tear off more of the cup as needed.

Icing my Leg

Icing my Leg

My physical therapist friend reminded me to only do this for 5-7 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite. I’ve frostbitten myself several times over the years (I usually call it an ice burn) and those things hurt like hell.

I can usually get 2-3 ice jobs out of each ice cup so I’m going through about one a day. This makes me wonder how often my club had to make these when people were icing every day.  I’m on the road to recover and hope to be back pounding pavement in the next week.

Going old school with my injury treatment has supplied a nice trip down memory lane. In gymnastics, somebody is always hurt so it was a regular sight to see a team kid sitting the sidelines, moving an ice cup against their skin, with a paper towel soaking up the drips and little pile of styrofoam pieces next to them. Ah . . . fun times.

Finally! Funny Legal T-shirts that are Comfy to Wear

This is the first time I’ve found legal eagle t-shirts that aren’t cheap and itchy.

RP shirt2

Anyone who knows me knows I love t-shirts. My law firm even celebrates T-shirt Friday every week where I wear a t-shirt not matter what’s on my calendar. I love shirts that are witty, have beautiful artwork, or are affiliated with an event or cause that’s important to me.

There are lots of fun legal t-shirts out there. I thought it was hilarious when my lawyer friends told me that he and his buddies all wore t-shirts that said “Reasonable Person” to their bar exam.

Hal Cohen rocking his Reasonable Person shirt during a study break

Hal Cohen rocking his Reasonable Person shirt during a study break

(For those of you who aren’t legal eagles, like the unicorn, the Reasonable Person doesn’t exist. It’s a fictitious person who acts in a reasonable manner in every situation. In many cases, the court compares what a person actually did to what the Reasonable Person would have done under similar circumstances to determine if the person should be held responsible for causing harm.)

Unfortunately, most legal t-shirt aren’t worth buying because they’re cheaply made, uncomfortable to wear, and horribly overpriced. I have seen or can think of at least six legal t-shirts that I would wear if I could find them. I’m contemplating having a shirt made with a quote from my Administrative Law professor: “Most of law is totally flawed.  Just go with it.

Posita shirt2Thankfully, Brand X in Tempe has stepped in to fill the void.  They recently created their own version of the “Reasonable Person” t-shirt. I love Brand X. They make all the shirts for Ignite Phoenix and they’ve made at least eight custom shirts for me, including my “Life is Blog Material” shirt and my “GeekLawFirm.com” shirts. Their base shirt is super soft and the quality of their work is top-notch. I’m so glad someone is making shirts for legal eagles that I can wear. I may have to ask them to make some more legal eagle shirts for me for some of my upcoming projects.

At the request of one of my patent-enthusiast friends, they’ve also made a “Person of Ordinary Skill in the Art” shirt. (And yes, you can buy both shirts online and have them shipped to you if you want.)

For full disclosure: I am not a paid spokesperson for Brand X. I receive no financial benefit from either of these shirts. I just love Brand X, and I want people to know that there are high quality legal t-shirts available so we don’t have to settle for the crappy ones anymore.  

 

You Know There’s A Story Behind This

A Sign in my Neighborhood

A Sign in my Neighborhood

I took this photo while I was walking my dog, Rosie.

Every time I see this sign I can’t help but grin.

I bet the original sign said, “Animal Waste Must Be Removed By Pet Owner” and then someone got out of a pooper-scooper ticket by proving that they weren’t the owner, just merely the dog walker.

Independents Week 2014 – Who’s In?

I’m excited for Independents Week next week (6/29 – 7/6) and I hope you are too. This is the week where you’re encouraged to spending your money locally. When you spend locally, more of your money stays in the community compared to when you shop at big box stores – a lot more. I participated last year and had an awesome time shopping at some of my favorite businesses in the valley and trying out some new ones too.

Independents Week is also Golden Coupon week. Members of Local First Arizona will be offering 20% discounts when you shop with a Golden Coupon. (See their site for details and limitations.) Over 260 businesses all over the state are participating. It’s a great reason to try a new place in your neighborhood.

Golden Coupon 2014

These are some of the places in metro Phoenix that I’m excited to see are participating. I’m sticking to Phoenix area places because, well, I live here.

  • Arizona Fun Services – where my partner-in-crime and I got our root suits
  • Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange
  • Brand X Custom T-shirts – makes all my custom t-shirts and running shirts
  • Changing Hands Bookstore
  • Nobel Beast – great pet supply shop
  • Practical Art on Central – I’ve never been here but it looks interesting
  • Phoenix Art Museum
  • Write Ons – where I get all my greeting cards
  • Zia Records

If you’re looking for a new place to eat, there are awesome restaurants that are accepting the Golden Coupon, including:

  • Duck and Decanter
  • Fez
  • Scramble
  • Sun Up Brewing
  • The Dhaba
  • The Refuge

Some of you might be asking, “How does being a minimalist comport with Independents Week?” To me, being a minimalist means I try to only buy things that add value to my life. I still need to buy things. I think Independents Week is a great reason to pop into places you wouldn’t ordinarily visit to get to know them. (It’s important to me to spend my money locally when I can.) These places might have things that would add value to my life – now or in the future. There’s no pressure to buy anything this week, but if I do, I get a nice discount.

If you do participate in the Local First Independents Week Golden Coupon program, you’re eligible to enter to win a staycation in Flagstaff. Why am I telling you that? Shop with the Golden Coupon but don’t enter the contest. You’ll be hurting my chances of winning.

Happy Independents Week! Who’s in?

Gender Inequality Under the Arizona Decency Law

It’s officially summer in Arizona . . . and it’s hot. (Yeah yeah yeah I live in a desert. Suck it up.) I got home from work one day recently and when I changed out of my work clothes, I threw on a pair of workout shorts and that’s it – no shirt, no sports bra, nothing from the waist up. I’ve been known to hang around my home dressed like that. It’s not sexual, it’s just comfortable.

2013 Go Topless Day Protest with Evo Terra. Photo by Sheila Dee, used with permission.

2013 Go Topless Day Protest with Evo Terra. Photo by Sheila Dee, used with permission.

Then I realized I needed to walk down the street to get the snail mail so I had to put a shirt on. That got me thinking, “I wouldn’t care if my male neighbor got his mail in just a pair of shorts, but if I did that, I’d be breaking the law. What’s the difference?”

How can we say that men and women are equal when the law clearly treats us differently? It’s only an issue if we make it an issue. I’ve heard of cities where it’s legal to be naked in public and it’s a novelty for the high school kids to sit in the park in their birthday suits but otherwise no one cares.

I’ve had guy friends try to explain that women’s chests are more sexual than men and I don’t buy that. I think that guys may be more visually stimulated than women, but that sounds more like their issue than mine. In my experience, if someone is turned on by a body part, it really doesn’t matter if there’s a layer of fabric over it. They’re still going to look (though some of you need to learn to be more discrete about it).

And I don’t buy the argument that a woman’s breasts are more sexual than a man’s chest. I know lots of guys who get uber turned on if you touch their nipples. And given how big some guys’ man boobs are, you can’t say that women’s boobs should be covered up because they’re bigger.

What are we telling girls about their bodies by having different laws for men and women? I’m concerned that this law teaches girls that they should be ashamed of their bodies and tells heterosexual and bisexual boys that it’s ok to treat women like sex objects. Are we telling girls that showing your body could result in people not being able to control themselves? I think we’ve long established that no one has a right to touch or harass you regardless of what you’re wearing.

When I posted the question about gender inequality on Facebook, a friend responded that women going topless would result in traffic problems. And that pissed me off. What happened to personal responsibility? If you get too distracted by pedestrians to safely operate a vehicle, you shouldn’t drive. We had the same questions come up with the No Pants Light Rail Ride. If we are lawfully standing on the platform in our underwear, and someone causes an accident because they were looking at us instead of where they were going, that’s not our fault.

I know we have bigger legislative fish to fry in Arizona than changing the Decency Law, but gender equality should be a priority. It will be an important milestone, more important than most people realize, when we treat men and women’s bodies equally and with the same level of autonomy and respect.

There is an International Go Topless Day every August to bring attention to this issue. My friend and I participated last year and I did a video rant about the news coverage of the event.