"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Local tragedy

The cover of the Chico Enterprise-Record grabbed my attention today. A fire in a reptile supply shop killed almost 200 bearded dragon lizards Wednesday morning. There were some very sad photos with the article, you can look if you want but I wasn't up for reposting them. As some know I have had a beardie named "Lizardora" for several years, and I'm worried that I haven't always done right by her (actually I'm not even sure that she's a "she" but she's never been one to complain about pronouns). I have realized that I am probably better suited to caring for pets who sing little songs or bite your toes or jump on your head or try to trip you on your way to the bathroom when they want your attention. Fortunately beardies are fairly sturdy, quite docile, and interested in their surroundings relative to other lizards people keep as pets. My reptile vet in San Francisco once said that beardies are the golden retrievers of the reptile world. I think Lizardora may be getting on in her years, she's about 8 I think. I don't know how much time we have left with her, but I want to offer her a bit more attention and serve up as many tasty mealworm salads as possible while she's still in our household. We've photographed her before but I can't find the photos...will take some more if I can catch her in a good mood. Meanwhile this (copyrighted) photo bears a striking resemblance.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pigskin: a new fragrance for women

I have observed a phenomenon whenever I mention football playing or football practice in "mixed" company...the male half of the other couple will scrape his toe on the ground and say to me, "well, if you ever want to toss a football around...." I had no idea that this urge / need was nearly as universal as it appears to be. We can scarcely step outside, football in tow, without some guy drooling and asking us please, will we throw to him?

Okay I'm exaggerating just a tiny bit but not really that much. I had a moment of vague concern that the late-30-something guy who asked me to throw the ball to him today was going to try to run off with it and I'd have to perform an open-field tackle, a skill I'm still struggling with at practice. Maybe some guy stealing my football would be just the thing to send me over the edge into the kind of full-throttle hit I'm supposed to do. My coaches have astutely observed that I seem to have a little mental block about hitting. Or a medium-sized block.

We ate bison steaks for dinner tonight and my prayer on the food was that some spirit of the bison would be with me that I might charge fearlessly at my opponents with GREAT momentum. I don't know if a bison would typically be interested in doing this but I imagine once they get to runnin' they don't stop for nothing no how.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tree, Tree, Tree

This isn't one of the songs I remember from watching the show, but like other songs by my late Television Friend, it sums up my feelings pretty well. If you have never felt this way about a tree, it's not too late...don't be afraid...maybe you would even like to sing this song to a special tree in your neighborhood.

You need will need RealPlayer in order to listen. There's a link on the page to download the player if you don't have it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Child-hating congressman

Whoa, Em, that's some strong rhetoric there...wasn't Rep. Nathan Deal, R-GA just trying to protect innocent taxpayers from spending their money on illegal aliens when he and the late Rep. Charlie Norwood created the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006? Some excerpts from an update on CaliforniaHealthline.org:

Proof-of-Citizenship Rule Pushes Drop in Medicaid Enrollment

March 12, 2007

Medicaid programs in seven states have reported declines in enrollment during the past year that they attribute to new federal rules requiring beneficiaries and applicants to provide documentation proving their U.S. citizenship, the New York Times reports.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 includes a provision that most people who seek Medicaid enrollment must provide "satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship," such as a passport or the combination of a birth certificate and driver's license. Applicants are required to submit original documents or copies that have been certified by the issuing agency, some state officials say.

The law, written by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) and the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), is intended to prevent undocumented immigrants from enrolling in Medicaid. However, it "has instead shut out tens of thousands of United States citizens," the Times reports. Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia have attributed declines in Medicaid enrollment to the new requirements.

In Florida, the number of children enrolled in Medicaid declined by 63,000, to 1.2 million, from July 2006 to January. Florida Department of Children and Families spokesperson Albert Zimmerman said, "Nearly all of these people are American citizens." In Iowa, the number of Medicaid beneficiaries declined by 5,700, to 92,880, during the second half of 2006 after increasing for five years.

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kevin Concannon said, "The largest adverse effect of this policy has been on people who are American citizens. We have not turned up many undocumented immigrants receiving Medicaid in Waterloo, Dubuque or anywhere else in Iowa."

So now that Rep. Deal knows that his law is keeping real live U.S. citizens and their kids from accessing health care benefits such as befit real live U.S. citizens, is he trying to fix it?

Chris Riley, chief of staff for Deal, said Deal believes that the law "has saved taxpayers money," adding that Deal "will vigorously fight repeal of that provision." Riley added that Deal will try to extend a similar provision to SCHIP. Riley also said that the requirement could be applied flexibly to minimize hardship for citizens (Pear, New York Times, 3/12).

Assuming there's genuine interest in minimizing hardship. Some states, not to name names (FLORIDA) thrive on it. So many vivid cliches come to mind...babies and bathwater...noses and faces...guns and feet...

So, I assert, either Rep. Deal hates children, or he just really hates non-citizens & non-citizen children and doesn't believe that people who need Medicaid are really citizens because he thinks there's an income requirement in the Constitution (hint: there's not). Or maybe in the war on illegal immigration, tens of thousands of U.S. citizens are OK collateral damage especially if it frees up our sacred tax dollars for other uses. Last I checked Georgia was not one of those states where nobody needs Medicaid so I reckon he's not doing such a great job of "Representing" y'all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Feeling stretched...like butter over too much bread...

Looks like we have a supply & demand problem here.

From a recent report by the California Commission on Access to Justice:

* In 2005, only 754 California lawyers worked as legal aid attorneys. That translates into one legal aid lawyer for every 8,361 low income Californians. On the other hand, there is one private attorney for every 250 Californians.
* Two of three eligible low-income clients with meritorious cases are turned away.
* IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) funding, which serves as the underpinning for many legal aid programs, declined by $14.6 million between 1993 and 2005, a 59 percent drop.
* Although core funding for legal services (from IOLTA, the Legal Services Corp. and California's Equal Access Fund) increased by $7 million from 1993 to 2005, when adjusted for inflation, the 2005 money actually represented a decline in funding.
* Self-help centers are helping to fill the gap in county courthouses, but the courts need $44 million to fully achieve self-help assistance. Current funding provides $8.7 million statewide.

entertaining the troops

Last night at practice we were playing "half-line," meaning that we were running plays with one side of an offense and a defense since our roster is a little thin. I was learning how to read the offense as Safety. I was a little bit removed from some of the main action, and left to my own devices between plays I started doing very odd things like "nataraja-asana" (though I didn't know that's what it is called--I think we called it something else back in the SF State yoga class days). My back was sore so I was trying to do every stretch I could think of that didn't require sitting or lying on the ground in hopes of working it out, including several, like this one, that aren't lower back stretches.

I looked up and had an attentive, incredulous audience who had apparently not witnessed such yogic prowess on the football field before. So 'Anything to amuse the linewomen' is my new mantra.

Remind me sometime to mention that yoga was one of the most useful classes (I dare not say THE most useful for fear of possibly alienating at least one cherished reader) I ever took in college...new uses are yet arising!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Greetings from the edge of Sherwood

¡Viva el Robin!

We put Errol Flynn on the queue to see if we could recognize any of our Bidwell Park backyard in the movie...some of the stream crossings and sycamores and oaks looked familiar, though things have probably changed a bit in seventy years.

I loved this movie when I was a kid, loved a book of Robin Hood stories I read in the sixth grade even more. I really dug the whole Robin Hood aesthetic (though now I seriously wonder what material they could possibly have made tights out of in the twelfth century). I would go out in the back yard and attack fenceposts with my quarterstaff. I wanted to be Robin Hood and fight for the rights of the oppressed, and have a feather in my hat.

Seems I have it all except for the feathered hat. Our cats would destroy it in no time anyway. Olivia de Havilland has nothing over the lovely Ce, she's as much my companion in adventure as my lady. Plus Ce's outfits are far more sensible attire for jogging through the forest.

It is good to realize this as one of the roots of my legal aid career. Tomorrow I shall attack the pile(s) on my desk with newfound zeal, if not for Richard and England then just for the sake of being a louder, buzzier bee in the bonnet of the status quo. Errol Flynn. Where is he when we need him? Was there really an America that once embraced the values of this Warner Bros. adventure? Of course the good guys all got rich in the end when their Lionheart Inc. stock went up, maybe that's the sticky part.

Friday, March 09, 2007

fear is the mind-killer

Not sure that repeating the Dune litany will be enough to help me get over this "bump" in my young football career. In the blocking and tackling drills we did Tuesday I was a bit...hesitant...just before any impact was to occur. In 99% of the situations one encounters in the course of a day, this hesitation is a fine or even helpful response. But not here. I need to convince my brain that hesitation is more likely to result in injury than if I just charge out full throttle (momentum!). My brain doesn't yet trust me on this one. Coach says once I do it a couple times I'll be over it. I might be a bit gunshy since the bouncing I got last Saturday.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Physics Lab Experiments

Or, So That's What "Full Contact" Means!

Today's practice featured our first tackling drills. We started out by running at a big cylindrical pad held from the side by one of the coaches. Upon contact we were supposed to hug it, lift it slightly and fling it and ourselves to the ground. I found this to be immensely enjoyable. That pad never knew what hit it.

Then we practiced on a real person (taking turns so that we were both tackler and tacklee) standing in front of pads on the ground so that when you knock her backwards with you on top it is a nice soft landing. This also was fun, though just a tiny bit scarier than the first drill. We were supposed to wrap our arms around the back of the other player's legs and hug them all the way down, but the reflex to let go at the last minute and put your arms out to break the fall is hard to overcome. This drill was called the "De-cleating Drill." I liked that.

THEN we moved on to a drill called Window Tackling. One person is the runningback with a ball and the other person tries to tackle her when she runs through the "window" between two pads on the ground. There was a bit more rookie anxiety about this one. Another rookie teammate who typically acts / talks fairly tough was giggling nervously as we waited our turn, trying to figure out who we'd have to face off with. My first couple tries were OK, I had a sense of collision but no big deal.
Then my turn to tackle came up a second time and across the way from me was our Center. Now I thought it through...I thought, well, she's not all THAT big, we're close to the same height, even though she's been playing three years or so and I've observed that she goes all-out yelling at the top of her lungs for pretty much the entire practice, every practice, so I'll just...stay low...hug her legs...we'll be fine...OK, ready, HIT!

I ran forward. With a satisfyingly loud crash I basically bounced backward as if I'd been standing still and a light pickup truck or small SUV had given me a friendly tap at 20 miles per hour or so. I had a nice view of the sky lying on my back. The Center was nowhere to be seen, apparently she broke my tackle somehow. The coach was smiling as I jumped up and he said we should try it again. Ok...stay low...head up...ok...ready, HIT!

Another loud crash, more bouncing backward, rolling over a few times, and gazing at the sky, but so far the trauma was pretty much all psychological so I jumped up again. I'm not sure why but I think the coach told me to have another go. I couldn't remember later for sure whether I actually did this three times in a row or only two, but my teammates say it was three. Either way the last impact seemed harder than the others and it took me a few seconds to get up again. By now it hurt a little, mostly I felt shaky in the knees and my eyes watered up involuntarily, as if perhaps I'd just survived a 6+ magnitude earthquake, but everybody seemed pleased; people said good job!, slapped me on the shoulder pads and asked if I was OK. I apparently experienced my first minor "stinger"; and one of our veteran linebackers instructed me to keep moving my arm around to shake it out. Sure enough my arm stopped tingling after a minute or two. One of our QBs asked me if I'd ever seen the movie "Rudy," which as a matter of fact came in the mail from Netflix today. We watched it after I got home. QB said maybe they should start calling me Rudy for my willingness / ability to keep getting up from repeated flattenings. Now having seen the movie I feel like I'd have to work pretty hard to live up to that compliment but I feel like I earned some respect, in addition to the enormous respect I gained for our Center. I want to be like her when I grow up.

One of the assistant coaches likes to give people nicknames and he calls me "Judge" on account of my day job; that's another nickname I'll have to work hard to live up to but it might be the one that sticks, we'll have to wait and see. Football is very character-building so far.

While looking for a tackling-related graphic or maybe a picture of Rudy to include with this post, I found this link on the physics of tackling. Note the second bullet point in the article, describing what happens when the ball carrier has more momentum than the tackler. I think I may have had insufficient momentum. No worries though, on Tuesday I will probably get to try the experiment again.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Other famous #9's

Just discovered that Shane Lechler, the Oakland Raiders' punter, is #9. Since he's the busiest guy on their team in recent seasons, having punted a total of 3,660 yards in 2006 with his longest punt at 77 yards, he's worthy of some admiration.

Also Jon Ryan, a punter for the Packers, is #9. His longest punt last season of 66 yards is 11 yards shorter than Shane's, but he racked up more total yards. He has better hair than Shane too.

Now of course not all #9's are kickers / punters. Drew Brees, the QB for the Saints, wears that number.