The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

April, 2014:

Let’s Fix our State Bar – Vote in the BoG Election! Here’s Who Made My Short List.

Starting May 7th, Arizona lawyers in Maricopa County will get to vote for our representatives on the State Bar Board of Governors (BoG). Make sure you vote in this election – it matters!

Arizona State Capitol by Willem van Bergen from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Arizona State Capitol by Willem van Bergen from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The BoG “oversees the policy making and operation” of the State Bar of Arizona – including whether our bar dues go up. In Maricopa County, we will be voting for the nine people who will represent us on the BoG. In the last full BoG election, only 2,500 of the 12,000 eligible lawyers in Maricopa County voted and the difference between who was/wasn’t elected came down on handful of votes – so your individual vote makes a difference.

Here’s what I know about the dues increase that was just passed:

  • It passed by only 1 vote. (As my lawyer friend put it, “We are only one Board member away from rationality.”)
  • The financial committee met the day before the vote and determined that the proposed increase would result in a $3.7 million cash surplus by 2019. What does the State Bar need with $3.7M?! And this money is not earmarked so who knows how they’re going to spend it.
  • The BoG has an executive committee made up of five board members and wields significant influence. They all voted in favor of the dues increase. It appears they agreed to vote as a united front, which makes me question their integrity. There is one guaranteed opening on the executive committee with Whitney Cunningham moving out of the presidency. There are other executive committee members who are up for re-election (Lisa Loo in Maricopa County and Alex Vakula in Yavapai County). If these two aren’t re-elected, a majority of the executive committee will change which will have an enormous impact on what the Bar does moving forward.

Thirty-three people are running for the nine BoG openings in Maricopa County. I read their profiles and made my list of potential votes based on the following criteria.

  1. Every candidate who gets my vote must be an incumbent who voted against the dues increase or spoke about fiscal responsibility, transparency, and keeping dues down. Finances are such a hot topic in the Bar right now. If a candidate didn’t mention money, I feared they would be too afraid to take a stand when it mattered. I need a BoG who will speak for me. Bonus if they mentioned keeping up with changes in technology.
  2. I eliminated any candidate who’s had something in their profile that raised a red flag for me.
  3. I took the resulting list and sent it to my fellow lawyers whose judgment I trust and who have been in the legal profession significantly longer than I have. I asked them to tell me if any of them violated the “No Jerks” rule and if they had any specific endorsements.

Here’s my short list of Maricopa County BoG candidates who might get my vote:

  • Chad Belville
  • Stephen Brower
  • Ted Campagnolo
  • David Derickson
  • Nick Dranias
  • Richard Erickson
  • Greg Gnepper
  • Isaac Hernandez
  • Melissa Ho
  • Steven Keist
  • Michael Kielsky
  • Clarence Matherson
  • Bert Moll
  • Christopher Raddatz
  • Jennifer Rebholz
  • Sam Saks
  • Geoffrey Trachtenberg

If you practice in Yavapai County, the choice is easy. Vote for Andre Carman, who is running against an incumbent that voted for the dues increase (while serving as the BoG’s secretary-treasurer).

Voting for the BoG will be online from May 7th until 5 p.m. on May 21st. Look for an email from the Bar with instructions. Please make sure you take a few minutes to vote and encourage other eligible lawyers to vote too. We have an opportunity to vote for people who are motivated to make significant changes in our Bar. Let’s vote in some people who will work for what we want.

The Record Reporter published the vote on the bar dues increase, including the list of how each BoG member voted.

For more information about how important this election is, please visit Sam Sak’s site, Moving the Bar Forward and Mo Hernandez’s site Transform the Bar.

Will I Minimize my Star Trek Autograph Collection?

I’m reading (& loving!) Everything That Remains by The Minimalists. I’ve been trying to minimize my life since the beginning of last year. I did a big clean out last year and I’m doing another pass this year. As I read The Minimalists’ new book, I felt the urge to clean out my glove compartment, use up perfumes  that only have a few drops left in the bottle, and get rid of things I don’t actually use anymore.

I really enjoyed reading about Ryan Nicodemus’ experience embracing minimalism. He packed up his entire apartment as if he was moving and then for 21 days he only unpacked the things he needed. At the end of the 21 days, with few exceptions, he sold, donated, or threw away everything that was still in boxes.

I don’t think I would ever do something this extreme, but it made me more mindful of what I actually use on a day-to-day basis and what takes up space in my life and mainly collects dust. One of the things I started thinking about was my Star Trek autograph collection.

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection

I love Star Trek. I’ve been a Trekkie for over 20 years. I’ve collected 46 autographs from various Star Trek actors from conventions, eBay, and sending requests for autographs directly from the actors. When I was in college, I put them in cheap frames on my dorm room wall but now they’re in plastic sleeves in a binder on a shelf. Some of my favorite autographed photos are DeForest Kelley (died in 1999), George Takei, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg, James Cromwell, and Mark Allen Shepherd (Morn from Deep Space Nine). Reading The Minimalists’ book made wonder what value these autographs add to my life. They sit on the shelf and I rarely look at them.

Last year, I started minimizing my Star Trek collection. I’ll admit I still have most of my Trek items I want to get rid of because it hasn’t been a priority to make an appointment with my comic store to see what they’re interested in buying. It’s important to me that my Trek items find new homes with fans who will enjoy them rather than donating them to a thrift store. I wonder if I should bring my autograph collection with me to see if they’d be interested in some of those too.  Twenty-two of my autographs came with certificates of authenticity; I’m not sure how much the value drops without a certificate.

If I part with my collection, it wouldn’t be about the money. It would be about getting rid of things that add no value to my life. When the space around me is clean and uncluttered, I feel more relaxed and it’s easier to focus.

Ruth & Rosie – 2 Years and Counting

Rosie and I have officially been together for two years. In some ways it feels like longer and in some ways it feels like I just got her from the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue.

Rosie's First Thanksgiving - November 2013

Rosie’s First Thanksgiving – November 2013

My life is completely changed because of her. If you want to get to know your neighbors, get a dog and take a walk every day. Rosie and I have walked over 1,000 miles together and I know way more people in my neighborhood as a result. We only skip a day if she’s sick, the weather’s really bad, or she’s at the kennel. I think it’s so cute that some people only know me as “Rosie’s Mom.”

We had a lot of adventures this last year. One that wasn’t so fun was valley fever. I was tickled to learn that the doggy pharmacy delivers but not the human one. Thank goodness I figured out early on that she’ll eat anything off a spoon with peanut butter on it. Shoving those pills down her throat was not fun for either of us. We recently got the good news that her titer is staying low without outside intervention.

Rosie’s always gone to work with me, so when I decided to get an official office space, one of my requirements was that Rosie had to be able to come to work. Thankfully we found a great space that we share with a handful of other lawyers. They’re so cute when they pop by my office to say hi to me, when really they’re there to pet Rosie. I had to get a baby gate to make sure she stays contained which is hilarious given how un-maternal I am; and yet, now I own and can operate a baby gate. My clients love her.

Rosie Snoozin' at the Office - March 2014

Rosie Snoozin’ at the Office – March 2014

Rosie’s become quite the car traveler, complete with her own car harness and back seat cover. We went on a big road trip last year, but I don’t think that will become the norm for us. We try to hit the dog park at least once a week. It’s adorable watching her try to keep up with the big dogs. If they’re running in a circle, she’ll take the inside track. And man can she bark. I have one of the loudest dogs at the dog park.

Rosie Watching "Dog TV" - November 2013

Rosie Watching “Dog TV” – November 2013

Did I mention my dog is a ninja? She wears four tags on her collar so she typically jingles when she walks, but if there’s something she wants – like to get on the couch or to snag a bite of something at the edge of the table, she can jump up without making a sound. When you see the evidence of her wrongdoing and look at her accusingly, she gives you this look that says, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I love my baby girl. At six, sometimes I think she’s starting to show her age, but that’s hard to tell given how mellow bassets are in general. She definitely lets me know she can still run and frolic with the best of them . . . when she feels like it.

Running Commando

Women might understand this better than men, but when you find a brand and cut of underwear that fits your body, you stay loyal. I discovered my perfect underwear about 10 years ago – I was perfect size medium low-rise bikini brief. I’d tell you the brand, but it’s a Secret, and irrelevant and you’ll soon see.

No Pants AZ 2014 by Patrick McLeod from Flickr

No Pants AZ 2014 by Patrick McLeod from Flickr

My underwear was perfect – it was low enough that they stayed inside my pants and provided enough coverage and elastic that they didn’t go up my butt. And then two things happened:

#1 – I lost 10 pounds during law school.
#2 – My brand changed the template for my perfect underwear.

My mediums in the old cut still fit but they’re starting to wear out and their replacements (same cut, size small) provide sufficient coverage and comfort except when I go running when they give me a wedgie.

I’ve only been running for a few years so I jumped on the running Subreddit to see what others had to say about underwear and running. I was surprised to see so many women reporting that they wore a thong or went commando when they ran.

Now, I don’t really get thongs. They have a purpose in my life, but it’s more about fashion than function, and that’s pretty short-lived. Since I don’t wear them in my real life, there’s no way I’m wearing one in my running life.

Asics Compression Shorts

Asics Compression Shorts

So I thought I’d give running commando a try. I have running shorts with a built-in liner so I suppose it was always obvious that they didn’t need underwear. My shorts have the loose liners (sewed in at the top but not snug to the body) so there’s plenty of movement in the fabric with each step – including the possibility that the liner could go up my ass. Bah! All three pairs of shorts did this and they’re all different brands/cuts/etc.

So back to the drawing board I went. Luckily someone suggested wearing compression shorts as underwear. Compression shorts are very tight and come in a variety of lengths. Given that I wanted mine to double as underwear, I was only interested in the ones with the 2.5” inseam. I tried on every pair available at my sporting goods store and I jogged in place in each pair in the dressing room to test which pair was right for me. I walked out with a pair of Asics low cut compression shorts.

Talk about tiny! These are shorts that will never be worn as a pair of stand-alone shorts outside my house. They work pretty well layered under my shorts but they need to be adjusted occasionally.

Asics Running Shorts with a Built-in Brief

Asics Running Shorts with a Built-in Brief

A few days later I was at my favorite running store, Runner’s Den, for new shoes. Now that I’m back into running 3-4 days a week, I needed shoes that can support my arches and accommodate how much my feet swell when I run. Runner’s Den has an awesome deal where you get a 20% discount on apparel when you buy shoes. I told the clerk about my challenges with underwear and running and he showed me Asics running shorts that have a built-in boxer brief.

I love these shorts! This is a pair you can wear commando because the built-in boxer brief makes underwear superfluous. The brief is snug but comfortable and stays in place when I run. They are a bit pricey, but I could see myself slowly switching out my old shorts with 1-2 more pairs of these and take advantage of the discount that comes with replacing my shoes.

Minimalist Packing

I went to a wedding last weekend and I used it as an opportunity to practicing minimalism in packing. Historically, I’m the person who goes on a 9-day trip and brings 20 shirts. Once I learned that rolling your clothes lets you fit so much more into your bag, I filled every nook and cranny of my suitcase with wardrobe options – just in case.

For this trip, I decided to try to only bring what I thought I actually needed for the 3 days I was gone. Here’s what I brought with me: 1 pair jeans, 1 pair yoga pants, 2 tank tops, 2 t-shirts, 1 long-sleeved shirt, 1 zip-up sweatshirt (aka a “zippy”), 1 windbreaker, 1 dress, 1 cardigan, dress shoes, sneakers, 1 set workout gear, 1 bra, 2 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of underwear, pajamas.

Here’s what I actually wore:

Friday’s Activities:
Fly out: Jeans, t-shirt #1, zippy, socks #1, sneakers.
Meet friend for lunch: Add windbreaker (it was raining).
Dinner with coaches: Remove windbreaker; exchange t-shirt for long-sleeved shirt & bra (it was cold).
Sleep: Pajamas.

At Lindsey's wedding with my Teammates - Photo by Erika Brown

At Lindsey’s wedding with my Teammates – Photo by Erika Brown

Saturday’s Activities:
Lounge around friend’s house: Yoga pants, tank top #1, zippy, socks #2.
Lunch with other friend: Exchange yoga pants for jeans (I rarely go out in yoga pants); add sneakers. (Note: I was going to wear t-shirt #2 to go out but it was warmer than I expected. I also realized I forgot my glasses case so I used t-shirt #2 to wrap my glasses instead so it was still used.)
Wedding: Dress, dress shoes, cardigan.
Sleep: Pajamas.

Sunday’s Activities:
Workout: Workout gear (shorts, shirt, sports bra, running socks, sneakers).
Brunch and fly home: Jeans, tank top #2, zippy, socks #2, sneakers. (I thought I’d wear my running socks all day but they were way too sweaty so I wore socks #2 instead.)

Post-Brunch Handstand - Photo by Erika Brown

Post-Brunch Handstand – Photo by Erika Brown

Since every garment I packed on this trip was used, it made unpacking fast. Everything was tossed in the laundry basket except my cardigan and the shirt that protected my glasses. It was easy to unpack my toiletries because I only brought things I knew I’d use.

The only things I packed that didn’t get used were my laptop and my Kindle. I brought my laptop so I could write and my Kindle was to read if I finished reading Everything That Remains by The Minimalists. So I still bring tech gear with me just in case and I suspect that’s not going to change – and I’m OK with that.

This post was inspired by the The Minimalists who recently released a video about how they packed for their 100-city book tour.

Arizona Health Stats – The Good, Bad, & Disturbing

When I heard that the latest Arizona State Health Assessment was out, I had to poke around to see how my state’s doing. Most of it was bad; some of it was disturbing; but there were a few glimmers of hope in the mix.

In some areas, Arizona is doing better than the national average.

AZ Better than Nat'l Average

The fact that more than 1 in 4 people in Arizona is obese is disturbing, as is the fact that that makes us better than the national obesity rate. To put this statistic into context, Arizona has had 19% increase in the number of overweight and obese people since 1993 – the largest increase in the U.S.! The stats also show an increase in adult diabetes in Arizona from 7.5% in 2005 to 9.1% in 2010.

Thankfully not everything about Arizona’s health is bad. We’ve had a 29% decrease in teen pregnancy since 2007. I don’t care if it’s abstinence or birth control that made this happen, but good job kids for being responsible!

So how are we killing ourselves in Arizona? In 2010, cancer was the leading cause of death followed by heart disease. Accidents were the #4 cause of death overall (2,834), mostly due to poisoning/overdose (879), falls (762), and motor vehicle accidents (711); but there are always some weird accidental deaths:

  • Aircraft accidents = 16
  • Railroad accidents = 12
  • Hit by lightning = 1
  • Electrocuted = 4
  • Venomous snake or lizard = 1
  • Choked on food = 39
  • Choked on some other object = 57 (What are you putting in your mouths?)

This was scary – accidents were the leading cause of death for people under age 45 and the cause of disability for all age groups. (If you don’t have disability insurance, go get some!)

Suicide was the 8th leading cause of death (1,070), but the 5th leading cause for men – likely due to the fact that more men use firearms to commit suicide than women. Women were also more like than men to get routine check-ups (71.3% vs. 59.7% respectively); which hopefully is helping medical professionals identify and refer people who need mental health services.

I think the saddest statistic I read in the study was 20% of Arizonans reported that they have no social-emotional supports. That’s 1 in 5 people saying they have no one. That is beyond disturbing! In our digitally connected world, we don’t have to know our neighbors to have someone to talk to anymore; but on the flip side, it can lead to physical and social isolation.

I will say that Phoenix is not the easiest city to get to know new people, but if you put yourself out there and get involved (and there are tons of ways to do that), you’ll make friends.