Month: September 2011

Deaf Culture

One of the things I like best about deaf culture is how ALIVE people seem.  Faces and bodies are thrown into action and communication is about more than the “word.”  In fact, the word/sign is probably the smallest part of the communication. ASL is like miming with hand motions and finger motions – not to say the words are not important.

Hearing people are taught to be dignified and refined in their communications with each other. We don’t communicate as wholeheartedly as the Deaf do.  Last night at an ASL meetup I met people who were Deaf or had Deaf children and they live the language. Sometimes I don’t need to really understand the sign to get the message.  It took me longer to figure out “mainstreaming” than when someone ran into a cupboard door and cut his forehead.

Can we say that when we talk? Do we tell our story with everything we have? Or are we body non-communicators? Remember, most of communication is non-verbal. Is the problem so many have with communication is that we no longer communicate honestly with our faces and bodies?

Domestic Violence – The War On Women

I hope everyone will take the opportunity to watch this really awesome video created by Deaf Hope, Inc.  It is closed captioned for the hearing.  There’s a message there for anyone who has a woman or little girl in their life.

More women have been killed in domestic violence situations in the last 5 years than all of the American military members in Iraq AND Afghanistan during that same period of time.

I volunteer legal services for those suffering from domestic violence.  Please consider what you could do to end this problem.


I know it is probably too much to ask of the state legal system. After all, it is facing a huge budget crunch, layoffs, a cut in hours, and general chaos as of late, but it would be so nice to get just a modicum of consistency from courthouse to courthouse about weapons.

Weapons, you say?  Well, yes, indeed.  Weapons.  You know, things that slice and things that go bang-bang.

I preface this with observing that some of the older district courts are no longer in areas where one necessarily feels safe. The neighborhoods have sunk into serious disrepair and this attorney took to carrying a kubaton on a keyring for safety’s sake.  Not because I’m a martial arts maven, but because it could potentially give me a fighting chance to get away if mugged.

A kubaton – mine looks a bit like a 5 inch unicorn’s horn – is street legal in Massachusetts. I used to be able to walk into any court – state or federal – with it on my keyring.  No problem.

First it was the Cambridge Probate and Family Court.  Someone threatened a judge.  God knows, when I was a kid and my Dad was a judge he never got threatened (cough, cough) and none of the neighbors ever terrorized me when my folks were on vacation. (rolls eyes)  Threats against judges have been going on since there have been judges. Now when you go to court at Probate and Family in Cambridge the lawyers have to go through screening like anyone else AND no kubaton – apparently I might take out a judge with it.  How, I do not know, since I don’t believe they are throwing weapons. I do note we can take in pens, pencils and high-heeled shoes – all lethal in the right hands (not mine) at close quarters.

Yesterday I went to the Fenton courthouse in Lawrence and the guards politely inquired if I was carrying any weapons.  Indeedy, do you have any weapons to declare, Counselor?  Since I no longer carry a kubaton I stared at them, then asked, “My keys?”

Turns out that at the Fenton Courthouse lawyers can pack firearms and there are locked cubbies behind the guards where knives and guns are tucked away. In fact, they showed me one honking big, serrated folding knife that I’m not sure IS street legal, but whatever.

So if I go to court in Lawrence, I apparently can carry my concealed weapon (assuming I had an FID) and get it locked up while I’m there, but if I go to Cambridge, I can’t have anything resembling even a self-defense keyring without being castigated by the guards and having it thrown away.

Can I be confused now?

Legal Training – sometimes more questions than answers

This past week I went to two trainings.  One was on SSI and SSDI, the other on domestic violence and the confluence of the legal system and the role of the therapist.

I found out that if an SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) recipient is convicted and is sent to prison that s/he loses their income. This left me wondering if that applied to their minor children, assuming they had any. Minor children get a portion of the income of the parent, and it would seem crazy to deny them that because the parent is incarcerated. Then again, if a parent goes to jail they lose a job and their children also are denied an income, so perhaps – in an insane way – it makes sense. And those with outstanding warrants are also cut off – assuming there is a records check, I suppose.

I also found that is almost impossible to get SSI or SSDI and be an alien – even one in good standing – such assistance seems to be limited to 7 years in order to give the alien time to gain citizenship. It makes me wonder why so many people assume all undocumented immigrants are on welfare or getting some form of social security benefit.

During domestic violence (209A) training I found out that it is now the policy of the court to get Probation to run a CORI (criminal offender registration information) on the parties. This could mean that if the battered spouse had an arrest warrant out there the police could be called to haul her/him away.

Great, so I now have a new question to ask people seeking to obtain a TRO or those defending against one. To the best of your knowledge is there a warrant out for your arrest? If so, then they will have to weigh the chance they might be arrested against the need for protection.  Is there something wrong with this picture?

Gotta Love Driving in Massachusetts

So today I’m lost (as usual) trying to get from Revere to Woburn and got on a traffic circle somewhere on 62 when WHAM! I’m not sure what the heck happened since I don’t see a car I could have run into, but I pull over to the side of the road and watch the cars roar around a few times.  Clearly, if I clipped someone they kept on going and if they clipped me, well, they still kept on going.

I got out and walked around the car a couple of times and couldn’t see any damage, so finally I left and went on my way.

Got to a turn where I thought, hmmmm, the other cars are not turning so maybe I could turn right.  Just as I barely started to move a bicyclist flashed up next to me and almost landed on the hood of my car as he veered sharply left. He waggled his finger and pointed at a sign I had not seen – No turn on right light.  I nodded and agreed.  So then he pulled out in front of me and drove across the intersection, cutting off all the cars, and I wanted to roll around and laugh. Apparently stop signs and traffic directionals are for everyone other than bicyclists.  No one hit him, by the way.  It was like watching Moses part the Red Sea.

Left Woburn for a mall in Peabody.  The GPS got lost.  I must have driven 50 miles to get 20 miles I finally used the iPhone’s map system and turned the bloody GPS off.

Another day in vehicular paradise. It could be worse.

Dragon’s Breath

It creeps up from the rivers and streams, from the damp ground, wicking up in tendrils, coalescing into ghostly forms as it rises above the wet and damp.  It coils around the base of bushes and trees like a snake, climbing higher and higher as if in search of tasty birds. Sometimes it leaves entire groves standing unmolested in bright shades of green, red, orange and gold with a mere scarf of clammy grey around the shoulders of the trunks.

There be dragons here, lurking, powerful mist dragons. Their breath is the steam that rises from the earth, sometimes shrouding the land with watery exhalations for an entire day. Other mornings the sun is too powerful, too bright and burns away all traces of the visitations of such powerful visitors.  Which shall it be this day?