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Jay Thompson

Benched

“One of my favorite meditation spots” by Jay Thompson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

My hip pain flared up at the end of last week, and Coach David benched me for three days. I don’t even have a good story. It just started hurting. Only things I can do are stretch, heat, and strength work that doesn’t engage the hip. (My apologies in advance to anyone I converse with while I’m on the sidelines. I get moody and opinionated when I don’t workout.)

Yes, this is the same hip injury I’ve been dealing with off and on for over a year. It’s the one body part I didn’t blow out as a gymnast (except for a few pulled groins), so they’re making up for lost time.

Coach David has been increasing my workouts painfully slowly – like increasing my running distance by ¼ of a mile each week. (The standard is a runner can increase their mileage by 10% each week.) I’ve pushed myself hard the last few weeks, but I didn’t think I was going too hard.

As always, Coach David uses a practical and logical approach to dealing with injuries. It’s better to take a couple of days off now – over six months before race day – than to push through and be triaging a worse injury closer to race day. This morning David lovingly said, “Your body needs a vacation.”

Thankfully, I was already ahead of schedule in regards to my training, so taking a few days off isn’t a setback in terms of that. It’s just a challenge for me to be forced to sit on my tush.

I’m starting to wonder if the line between pushing hard and pushing too hard is razor thin. It’s frustrating to constantly have to deal with the possibility that my hip could flare. I felt like we were doing everything right. I was slowly gaining speed, strength, and confidence.

I was pushing myself, but not that hard.

Challenging myself, but not killing myself.

Over the last week, I spent a lot of time sitting as I was sending 500+ emails promoting my first online course on the legal side of photography.  I wonder if that has something to do with this most recent bout of soreness.

Rosie’s trying to teach me how to relax.

Regardless of the cause, I’m spending three days sitting on my heating pad, trying to get the muscles to relax and the joint to calm down. (I have two heating pads – one at home and one in the office.)

I’m on board with the plan that it’s better to deal with a minor setback now than to deal with worse pain later.

The goal is Ironman Mont Tremblant, not killing myself getting to the starting line.

On Being an Existentialist

North Star Circa RMNP by Jasen Miller

Some days I’m profoundly aware of the fact that I’m an existentialist. This is one of those days.

I’ve always had to look for the deeper meaning of things. I’m driven by the possibility that what I do makes a difference, that people or things are changed because of something I did. I need to know that what I do has an impact.

Some people have children, and through them they have an inherent legacy that will live on. I have no intention of procreating, so I’m left with the possibility that I will not know what my legacy is because we don’t always know when we make a difference.

In my professional life, I have to change jobs when it stops being meaningful. When I go too long without thinking, “This is why I do what I do,” it’s time for me to move on. Before law school, I was a mental health therapist. There were days when I knew what I did mattered and other days where I felt like I was paid conversation. There have been instances where I’ve run into my past client since leaving the profession where they thanked me for the work I did when I thought I wasn’t doing anything.

My friend told me I should have outgrown this mind set when I finished college, and I’m sure it would make certain things easier. I accept that I am what I am and that it comes with the constant questioning and searching for meaning.

Rosie!

I’m not sure what brought on this self-reflection. Maybe it’s because a friend recently had a major heart attack or the fact that the anniversary of another friend’s death just passed. Both of these people were young and vibrant when they encountered unexpected medical emergencies, and one didn’t survive. Danielle Zeder reminded us at Ignite Phoenix #12 that the only guarantees in life are birth and death. We don’t know how much time we have in between and it’s important that we use that time well.

I feel lucky that I’m crafting the life I’ve always wanted. I have my own business, a basset hound who adores me, a singing voice that’s comparable to the angels, and a host of people in my life that I love and who love me. Sometimes I worry that I’m not doing enough to create my legacy, but then I have to step back and remember that that story will be someone else’s to tell. My job is in the here and now.

Unexpected Stars of Ignite Phoenix #10

I have been involved with Ignite Phoenix since the fall of 2009.  I presented at Ignite #5 and I have been a volunteer at every Ignite Phoenix event since.  I love the Ignite Phoenix crew and the Ignite concept.    It’s hard to describe what Ignite Phoenix is because words alone do not do it justice.  The Ignite Phoenix page describes it as “an information exchange for fostering and inspiring Phoenix’s creative community.  In one evening, you hear 18 passionate speakers from our creative, technical, and business communities talking about their current projects or favorite ideas for just five minutes.  Presentations will educate and inspire you, and maybe make you laugh in the process.”  Each speaker gets 5 minutes and 20 slides to talk about their passion, and their slideshow advances every 15 seconds whether they like it or not.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

I volunteer backstage on the night of Ignite Phoenix.  My job involves wrangling the presenters before the show, orienting them to the stage and the evening, answering questions and calming their fears, putting microphones of presenters during the show, and running around doing odd jobs throughout the night.  I love what I do, but because I run around so much during the show, I only see half of each presenter’s performance at best.  I watch every presentation in its entirety a few weeks later when the videos of each presenter are posted on YouTube.

Even though I don’t get to see the show in its entirety on show night, there are always a few presenters who grab my attention.  Usually they are the people I did not expect to be captivating.  Ignite Phoenix #10 was no exception.  These women were the unexpected stars of the show for me.

  • Corri Wells:  I initially perceived Corri as a somewhat sweet and soft-spoken person.  I saw on the program that her topic was “Anger” and I expected her to talk from a psychological perspective.  I didn’t expect her to take the stage with such a powerful presence and advocate for people to use their anger to make their voices heard and create change.  “Publish or democracy perishes.”
  • Bogi Lateiner:  Bogi’s presentation was “How Learning to Change A Tire Changed My Life.”  When I met her I noted how girly she was in her skinny jeans and heels.  She is the epitome of a person you would expect not to know the first thing about cars, yet when as I listened to her speak about her experiences rebuilding her Volkswagen bug and teaching women about automotive basics, I began to picture her working on her car in a pair of faded coveralls and a smear of grease across her face.  The lesson that I took away from her was that it’s empowering to know how to do things yourself, and it gives you a sense of security.  She made me want to know more about the inner workings of my car and just how to do be more handy in general.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

It’s people like Corri and Bogi that make me love Ignite Phoenix so much.  You never know what to expect and you always walk away from the experience entertained, enlightened, and inspired.

If you want more information about what it’s like to be an Ignite Phoenix presenter, Jay Thompson was also a presenter at Ignite Phoenix #10 and wrote an excellent post about his experience of being a presenter from his application submission through to his actual performance on the Ignite stage.

Submissions are currently being accepted for Ignite Phoenix #11 on October 28, 2011 and its big sister show, Ignite Phoenix After Hours #2 on July 29, 2011.

Law Student’s Take on the Zebra TM Dispute

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  I am a law student.  In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.

(cc) respres

Daniel Rothamel, a.k.a. the “Real Estate Zebra,” is a real estate agent and blogger in Virginia.  He’s being sued by The Lones Group Inc. in Bellingham, Washington, a company that helps real estate agents market themselves.  The Lones Group writes the “Zebra Report” and “Zebra Blog.” Their suit claims that Rothamel is infringing on their trademark and their zebra theme trade dress on their website.  In its complaint, The Lones Group is seeking over $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees for violations of Washington State law, federal law, and common law.

Under the Lanham Act (federal trademark law), a trademark or service mark includes any word, name, or symbol used in commerce to identify and distinguish the source of goods and services.   Trademark rights allow a company to prevent others from using their mark in commerce because it will create consumer confusion.  When a company registers their mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), they can exclude anyone in the country from using their mark. The first person to register the mark, regardless of when they started using it, gets national protection for the use of their mark.  If someone else was using the same mark before they registered their mark with the USPTO, that company can keep using the mark, but only within the area where it was using it when the other company registered the mark.  Without registration, a company can only exclude others from using their mark where they have used their mark in commerce.

According to the complaint, The Lones Group has been publishing its newsletter, “The Zebra Report” since 2005 and has been writing its blog, “The Zebra Blog” since November 2007.  I looked up Rothamel’s domain information and it appears that he’s had his blog since October 2006.  A quick word search on the USPTO website showed that there are no registered trademarks for “Lones Group,” “Zebra Report,” “Zebra Blog,” or “Real Estate Zebra.”  If there are no registered trademarks or trade dresses, The Lones Group can’t claim automatic national protection for their marks.

It appears that The Lones Group is trying to establish priority of use of their mark of “Zebra Report” and the use of zebras on their website to claim that they can stop Rothamel from having his blog.  Rothamel has priority over the use of “zebra” in connection with a blog and the real estate industry.

I see two big issues with this case.  First, I’d argue that The Lones Group and Rothamel have products that are too different for any consumer to be confused.   Rothamel is a real estate agent and The Lones Group helps real estate agents with marketing.  There’s no likelihood of confusion.  Based on what I’ve read from the real estate industry, there has been no confusion.  Second, the marks themselves don’t look that similar.  The Lones Group’s zebras are real pictures of zebras and Rothamel’s zebra is a cartoonish drawing of only a portion of a zebra.

The Lones Group has filed the lawsuit against Rothamel and the agency he works for, Strong Team Realtors.  The Lones Group is probably going after the realty company because they have more money than Rothamel, but I think their case is weak.  Unless Strong Team Realtors is paying for his blog, I don’t think they can be implicated in this case.

Additionally, if this case goes to trial, The Lones Group may have the burden of proving that Rothamel’s blog counts as commerce.  There must be a bona fide offer for a sale to qualify as using a mark in commerce.  Rothamel writes about being a real estate agent, but I think there’s an argument that the blog itself is not “in commerce.”  Rothamel mentions his employer but it doesn’t look like his promoting himself as a real estate agent.  I have not read every blog post on his site, so I could be wrong.  He does not seem to be selling any advertisements on his blog either.  Having a website, by itself, is not sufficient evidence to be in commerce.  If Rothamel’s use of “zebra” is not in commerce, it can’t be a violation of the Lanham Act.

I also think The Lones Group has a jurisdiction issue in regards to the claims under Washington state law.  The jurisdiction rules require you to have sufficient contacts with a state in order to be sued there.  Rothamel lives in Virginia and is a licensed realtor in Virginia.  The fact that his website is accessible to people in Washington, with nothing more, should not be sufficient contact with the state for Rothamel to be sued there under the state law.

Here’s what I think is really going on.  The URL for The Lones Group’s “Zebra Blog” is http://thelonesgroup.wordpress.com.  I think they want Rothamel’s domain (http://www.realestatezebra.com) and possibly his Twitter handle (@realestatezebra), and that they’re afraid he’ll say no if they offer to buy them off him.  If that happened, they wouldn’t have a prayer if they brought a trademark infringement case.  I think they’re hoping for a settlement where they get his domain in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.  And it looks like their approach has worked because Rothamel posted a blog tonight in which he shared a letter offering to stop using his domain, Twitter handle, and any reference to himself at the “Real Estate Zebra” in exchange for them dropping the suit.

Damn it!  I hate it when it appears that people are misusing the law to try to force people to give them what is not theirs to take.  I think Rothamel had a winnable case but he I’m guessing he probably couldn’t afford the potential legal fees if the case went to trial or worse, if he lost.

While I heard about this situation through my friend Jay Thompson, I don’t know Daniel Rothamel or anyone at The Lones Group, nor do I have any personal interest in the outcome of this case.  Based on the information in the complaint, my own research, and the knowledge I acquired in my trademarks class, I don’t think Rothamel is infringing on of the The Lones Group’s trademarks or trade dress.

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