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August, 2012:

Behind the Scenes at my Legal Rebel Photo Shoot

A few months ago, I got an email from the American Bar Association that said I was selected as one of their 2012 Legal Rebels. They acknowledge 10 members of the legal community each year for being innovative. The ABA selected me because of my knowledge and work in flash mob law. As a co-founder of Improv AZ, I’ve studied the legalities of flash mobs since 2009 – it encompasses criminal, tort, property, First Amendment, and intellectual property law. I was very honored and humbled to be selected.

The ABA needed a photo for my profile so they hired Phoenix photographer Don McPhee to take it. The ABA also sent me a pair of bright red Legal Rebel Converse sneakers and said they had to be somewhere in my photo. That was the end of their instructions to me. Don and I decided we wanted to shoot at the courthouses that had interesting architectural elements in downtown Phoenix. Don and I meshed well from the start.

Ruth Carter, ABA Legal Rebel

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

Location #1: Maricopa County Superior Courthouse
Our photo shoot started at 6am on Friday, July 6th. I met Don and his assistant Max in front of the courthouse where there’s a large statue of a horse standing on a book. Even though I didn’t see any signs that said “Do Not Climb” or “Stay Off,” I knew we had limited time. I swung myself up into the saddle and we started shooting.

I think we took about 20 minutes worth of photos before we were approached by a security guard who said I couldn’t be up there for liability reasons. He informed us that we were on camera, which made me wonder how we lasted that long. We were respectful and explained what we were doing and that we did our due diligence before climbing onto the statue. When he saw that it was a legitimate photo shoot and that we were respectful he asked, “Did you get the shot you needed?”

We finished our shoot at that courthouse with pictures on the book and some cool metal pillars that stand in the courtyard. Even though it was early in the morning, I was nervous I’d see someone who knew me and would figure out what the shoot was for.

Ruth Carter, ABA Legal Rebel

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

Location #2: Arizona Supreme Court
We took a lot of photos on the North side of the Arizona Supreme Court building. We started with some windows that were at ground level that led to offices in the basement. I sat on the ledge and Don worked various angles that incorporated my reflection in the glass. It was fun listening to Don and Max banter back and forth about lighting and angles. There were always looking for opportunistic shots. Don also explained a lot to me about body positions that feel awkward when you’re doing them but look awesome on film.

Next we moved to the stairs which I think was when we hit the court security’s radar. He had a cigarette and watched us work and he only stopped us when I tried to stand on a tall wall. I suspect he thought I was a kid taking their senior portraits. I don’t know many lawyers who show up for a professional photo shoot in jeans and a t-shirt.

Location #3: Phoenix Convention Center
Our last stop was the 3rd floor of the Phoenix Convention Center, North building to shoot my video for the ABA. It’s the same place I took the Arizona Bar Exam last summer. The convention center has beautiful architectural elements. Don and Max were meticulous about the placement of my chair and the lights. It took a while to set it all up, but it was worth it. The ABA sent me a question to answer to go along with my profile. We did four takes and we were done. Don said it came out great. I didn’t want to see it because I feel weird when I watch myself on camera.

I had a blast at my photo shoot with Don and Max. I highly recommend Don McPhee photography to anyone who needs professional photos. I’ve shared more of the photos from my shoot on Carter Law Firm’s Facebook page.

I Survived a Week Without TV

I did it – I went a week without watching TV or DVDs or mindlessly watching videos on YouTube!

Kill Your TV by Gigi Ibrahim

Kill Your TV by Gigi Ibrahim

It was definitely a mind-opening experience. I didn’t have the ability to zone out in front of the boob tube or to use it as a distraction from other activities. It was weird getting used to the quiet. By the end of the week, I often turned on music or a podcast to fill the void.

I had been using TV and YouTube as background noise, but I didn’t realize what a time suck it has become. Before if I finished a task but a video only had 5 minutes left, I’d waste 5 minutes watching it. I also wasn’t aware of how much I used these vices as a way to avoid work. Without TV and videos, I was much more productive. One day I had my to-do list done by 3pm, way earlier than I’d normally be done.

So what did I do instead of watching TV?

  • Worked on 2 projects in my backyard garden – I don’t have a green thumb, but they needed to get done.
  • Relaxed in my pool at the end of the day.
  • Attended and sang at my friend’s birthday party.
  • Worked on setting up my home video studio.
  • Caught up on reading business periodicals and building my database of professional contacts.
  • Cleaned out my bathroom and sorted my photos as part of my year-long clean-out-your-life project.
  • Caught up on sleep – I realized I would watch TV when I’m tired instead of taking a nap or going to bed.
  • Attended networking events.
  • Read a book.
  • Played with my dog.

Throughout the day I get flashes of TV shows and movies that I’ve seen. I used to think that meant I wanted to watch them again. Now I see them as fleeting thoughts.

This week also reminded me of how much I suck at sitting still. TV was good for getting me to hold still for more than 20 minutes. This past week I probably didn’t keep still except of the times I was icing my sore shoulder. (I was walking my 60-pound dog and I tweaked it when, unbeknownst to me, she decided to stop.)

The only thing I’ve watched since the ban was lifted was a YouTube video of a soldier surprising her Mom – I’m a sucker for those. I think TV and YouTube will continue to not be part of my life unless there’s something I really want to watch. I have better things to do with my time.

If you want to hear more about my clean-out-your-life project and what I found when I cleaned out my bathroom, I made a video about it.

A Week Without TV

kill your tv by philentropist

kill your tv by philentropist

I love gymnastics. I watched all the artistic competitions this year during the Olympics. Part of NBC’s failure this year was they barely gave notice about which sport they would be showing next and how long we’d have to wait to see it. So, I spent hours sitting in my chair waiting for my beloved sport. I felt like I was wasting so much time sitting there.

I enjoy TV. I always have a handful of shows that I watch pretty consistently.  But my experience with the Olympics inspired me to see what would happen if I gave up TV for an entire week, starting yesterday. For 168 hours, I will not watch TV, DVDs, or any mindless programming on YouTube.

I often use TV or TV shows on YouTube as background noise. I like to watch it during lunch and at the end of the day to unwind. It will be weird to have to find something else to do during those times. I wonder if the quiet will make me uncomfortable or if I’ll substitute it with music or podcasts.

I have friends who don’t have TV or rarely watch it. I’ve wondered what they do instead. So what am I going to do instead? I have some ideas . . .

  • Attend networking events and community meetings
  • Read – I used to love reading, but reading for law school made me not want to read as much for pleasure
  • Work out
  • Get ahead on my blog posts
  • See my friends – especially those who took the July Bar Exam
  • Clean out my drawers – my plan this year is to get rid of things I don’t use or need
  • Create videos for my law firm
  • Gardening – The evenings are the best time to do this because it’s cooler and there are fewer bugs
  • Go to the movies – Going to the theatre seems ok since I have to leave the house to do it and it’s something I rarely do
  • Sing – It’s something I don’t do enough
  • Sleep – I think sometimes I watch TV when I’m tired when I’d be better off taking a nap or going to bed early

Of course I will have a countdown going to track how many hours I have to go. This will be a fun experiment. I’ll let you know how it went next week.

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How Do You Know If You’re Too Fat To Fly?

Earlier this summer someone I know was told at the airport that, due to her size, she had to buy a second seat. She had to cancel her trip because she couldn’t afford another ticket on the spot. (The story is a bit more complicate than that, but that’s the gist for the purposes of this post.)

I fully support airline policies that state if you’re wider than the seat you purchased, you must purchase a second seat so that you’re not encroaching on anyone’s space and each customer can have the same high-quality flying experience. There’s nothing wrong with this policy. The problem is customers aren’t informed enough at the point of purchase to know whether they need a second seat.

Best Seat On Southwest Airline Flights

Best Seat On Southwest Airline Flights by Danny Sullivan

Southwest Airlines is my go-to domestic carrier. They have great prices and generally have a lot of flights to places I want to go. On a recent trip, I flew Southwest and every flight coming and going was delayed. (Grrr.) This gave me a chance to do some premier people watching. It appeared that many people in the airport were on the cusp of being what Southwest calls a “customer of size.” It made me wonder how would a customer know if they qualify as a customer of size.

I had to do some digging, but I found Southwest’s policy on customers of size. Their policy states that each customer must fit into the 17-inch seat with both armrests down or they must purchase a second seat. If their flight is not full, they may receive a refund for their second seat after their flight.

I had to search Southwest’s website to find this information. Given that over 35% of U.S. adults are obese, it makes more sense to put a notice on the reservation page that states that customers who are more than 17 inches wide when seated should purchase a second seat or they will risk being asked to purchase a second seat at the airport. That way the customer is fully informed of the policy when making the purchase and they know the risk they’re taking when if they’re a customer of size and don’t purchase an extra seat.

Apparently Southwest is being sued because they’re not informing customers of its policy or enforcing it uniformly. Kenlie Tiggeman said the reservation page doesn’t inform customers about the customer of size policy and that sometimes she’s forced to buy an extra seat and sometimes she’s not.  I agree that customers need to know upfront that they need to purchase an extra seat if they are more than 17 inches wide, but there will always be people who are over the limit who don’t purchase a seat who will be allowed to board. Every customer shouldn’t be forced to prove they’re 17 inches wide or less before boarding a Southwest flight.

To enforce the policy more uniformly, I think every airline with a policy regarding large passengers should have an airline seat in the terminal where customers can test themselves and airline personnel can check to make sure a passenger will fit in one seat.  This provides a fair and objective test for everyone involved.

I feel bad for the customer and the airline representative when there has to be a conversation about a passenger’s size and whether they need a second seat. It’s a situation that must be handled delicately. However, I won’t feel as bad for customers who knew exactly what the policy was before purchasing a ticket and risked being told they had to purchase an extra one at the airport or not fly.