It’s a big deal to me:
Yesterday, I was called by LaJ up to LaGrandmother’s house because LaG was quite ill. (She is now hospitalized, and so far the docs haven’t figured stuff out. Her respiratory status has diminished.) Anyway, for about the 4th time this year, I called 911. When I do so, I remember having spent time on the other end of those phone calls years ago, and I watch what unfolds with both the personal participation in the process as a citizen accessing help and with some sort of informed-observer-effect. In the 70's, we spent thousands of hours laying the foundation for the emergency response & communication system in West Virginia and Marion County, and participation in that is something that I’m genuinely happy to have done – along with a hundred other people I could just rattle off the names of.
The hours of planning, arguing, testing, revising, rending garments and so forth produced a creature that is still evolving and which works quite well in the present. The dispatcher seeks pertinent information promptly and calmly, then bangs out the alarm. The company(s) alerted head for the vehicles as the call is going out. By the time the driver has started the apparatus engine, they know the address (or will look it up in the address book in the truck) and will respond “Code 3,” i.e., with lights & siren. The first few times you do that, it’s a helluva rush – which is why new people DON’T get behind the steering wheel for MONTHS. On the way to the call, the people on the apparatus will talk about last night’s hot date, where they will stop for lunch after this call if they don’t get another, interspersed with the person in the passenger seat helping the driver by calling traffic in intersections.
The Marion County Rescue Squad (my old company) and the Fairmont Fire Department responded to LaG’s house. And again, the years of work by lots of unheralded people have led to the “point of the spear” working smoothly, calmly and efficiently. The paramedics loaded LaG (with the help of the fire guys, who then took off on another call), took blood & started an IV, and transported her to Fairmont General. No muss, no fuss, no heroics, no drama, just people doing their job efficiently. I don’t understand the public relations process very well (that’s Bro./Preacher Joel’s profession), but to me it’s a good thing when government and quasi-government activity occurs with a minimum of press attention.
This necessitated dumping a hearing today. Many places, that’s a nightmarish process. Here, everybody gives each other personal consideration and slack, and genuinely cooperates. Opposing counsel Pete Dinardi was totally gracious and helpful, in “the best traditions of the bar.” To illustrate how this consideration works, I have an appeal about to be filed. In the hearing on the primary issue, we appeared and as we were walking into the courtroom, the Judge was called that his father had taken quite ill. Opposing counsel (my law school buddy, Dan Ringer) and I told the judge to hit the road, we’d work it out. Dan and I knew what the evidence was going to show, and we also were pretty sure what the Judge was going to do. We just filed a stipulation of what the witnesses would say and, as expected, the Judge made a ruling based on a strong proposition of law which, if it is undisturbed on appeal, is in accordance with the state of the law in West Virginia. (For practititioners, the issue is the continuing role of the Whiting presumptions in PI settlement proceeds deposited in a joint account. The argument on appeal, I think, will be that Whiting should be modified to permit a “Jesus factor,” that is, a consideration of whether the easy ruling is just so fundamentally unfair that it should be made differently. I hope that I get an chance to argue the appeal orally at the Supreme Court – my friend Justice Maynard, for whom my support created a lot of personal noise directed at me, is really going to be hard on me in argument – which, paradoxically, is why I supported him in the election, he just applies what he believes is the law.) So, no one had to testify, the disputes were clearly stated and we received a fair ruling (OK, I’m appealing - how about a ruling in accord with existing law, which I think should be changed?) and the cooperation of everyone made that work.
Remember the OJ trial in California taking 9 months? Here, it would have been a long trial, too - around two weeks.
I’m submitting a column for The West Virginia Lawyer this weekend. It’s on books and such, and has a brief discussion of online communities. I here freely admit that I have described our Beloved Bookshelf Community in the following terms:
For 10+ years, I’ve been a citizen of a sort of snarling mutant community called the “Bookshelf.” (There is a link to the community blog, but only those with strong constitutions should go there – it’s not unlike watching the “Birth of a Baby” film in high school health class, some people just can’t take the stress.) “Custom” communities like that aren’t moderated as a rule, and the frequent obnoxiousness makes the Gazette’s opinion page sound like tea time at the Little Church in the Valley.
Lest someone reach for the phone to call their lawyer, they should know that truth is a defense to an action for defamation.
Acts of kindness:
Act the First: Last week, I was sitting in the café across the street from the Courthouse with Judge Dave drinking coffee early in the morning, and as usual we were solving all the world’s problems. Dave bought a new truck a couple of weeks ago, just beautiful and blacker than the shining gates of Hell. As we were sitting there, Dave got a phone call on his cell. (Aside - If you know the learned judge’s aversion to technology, you marvel at the fact that he has a cell. He still uses a dip pen and blotting paper in his court. No kidding.) I could only hear one side of the conversation: "Oh, shit . . . Are you sure you’re OK? . . . No problem, I’ll take it to the dealer, that’s why we have insurance." La Dave and a deer collided in the new truck and, for those of you in urban areas, trust me, hitting a deer on the interstate causes a bunch of damage.
Act the Second: The next morning, same café, same time, same company –– an old lady who is a "regular" for breakfast took her plate to the garbage essentially untouched. The owner, Jeri, came out and put her arms around her, reminded her that she needs to eat, that it’s good for her (she’s a very thin lady), and spent the time to extend human kindness.
Act the Third: Pastor Josh is out of town. I am singularly unqualified to do the pastoral kind of thing, and so I called the church’s “elders,” who took care of going up to FGH to provide spiritual support to LaG.
A Bunch of Opportunistic Cretins:
The new president of the University isn’t one of the “academic bluebloods,” which the tenured faculty has trouble getting a grip on. There is a “Scandal” going on, about Governor Manchin’s daughter improperly receiving an MBA degree (before he was Governor). The president’s critics are demanding his head, the Governor’s critics are crying “foul,” and the Sunshine Patriots are ducking for cover. The press, ever hungry for scandal, is interviewing people who were in high school with the Governor’s children, to find more scandal. Hell, they ought not to stop there, they need to talk to the kids who were in kindergarten with them – maybe one of them bit another kid or something. Here, again, is an example of the deterioration of reason and discourse. It’s not enough to say, damn, we disagree with you because the new president isn’t a classroom maven, and the reason that s/he should be is x, y and z. Rather, it has to be “you’re a bad human being and obviously are acting with bad motives.” And they call themselves intellectuals? I suppose that I could argue a university faculty entering into the political process from both sides. THIS particular faculty, however, is so inept at politics that they need to get back to work.
The Taylor County retiring teachers’ soiree is this evening at the Middle School, where LaJ will be among those honored who are retiring after their years laboring in the vineyards. I’m working around the hospital schedule, because I really want to make the soiree.
A Damn Shame:
A lawsuit over the workings of the Grand Lodge of the AF&AM in West Virginia has been filed in Circuit Court in Kanawha County. That this dispute has gone so far is a great distress to most of the brethren.