f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 31, 2009

the (swift-sluggish-frozen-thawing-swollen-dammed) fickle river of time

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 5:32 pm

Prof. Yabut is almost sixty years old.  By now, he should have resigned himself to the strange and subjective elasticity of time; or, at least ceased to be surprised by it.  Nonetheless, over the past few days, as January rushes/drags to a close, he’s been heard mumbling each of the following notions (and a few more that I can’t remember):

  • “the Holidays aren’t even a dim memory any more”
  • “no, I haven’t had time to get those Christmas cards written”
  • “the Inauguration seems likes months ago”
  • “Chinese New Year snuck up on me again”
  • “I thought that two-hour concert would never end”
  • “those 60 minutes on ‘24‘ zoom by much too quickly”
  • “weren’t you supposed to fill out those W-2’s this week?”
  • “it can’t possibly be February already?”

Speaking of time and its mysteries, Eric Turkewitz wrote this week about trying to use his time more wisely by avoiding “Twitter and the Age of Information Overload” (Jan. 25, 2009) Unlike our foray into the topic of Twitter, Eric has been able to voice his skepticism without being called a naive dinosaur, or worse, as has Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice.

On a related note, I clearly thought of Twitter and Info-Source-Glut when I saw the Trailer from “He’s just Not That Into You”. At 2:12 of the Trailer, Drew Barrymore’s character says:

“I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my Blackberry, and so I text it to his cell, and now you have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”

Before January deserts us, here are a few poems from

Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar 2009 .. ..

Colonel Mustard
in the library . . .
winter night

… by John Stevenson (winner, January)

oyster shells
a boy asks where
the wave began

…. by Peggy Willis Lyles (Hon. Men., January)

white wind the eyes of the dead seal missing

… by Carolyn Hall (winner. February)

ice floes
coming and going
the ides of March

… by David Giacalone (Hon. Men., March)

spring break —
the pale legs
of the motel spider

… by Roberta Beary (Hon. Men., April)

January 29, 2009

from sad to silly to sublime on a wintry thursday

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:53 am

.. .. No Room in the Shelter for Sex Offender:  Thomas Pauli, 52, of Grand Rapids, MI, was “at least the eighth person found dead in the cold between Jan. 17 and Monday [Jan. 26]” in the Metro Detroit area. [Detroit News, Jan. 29, 2009] Each of the hypothermia victims deserves to be mourned, but Pauli is rightfully getting the most attention.  A Grand Rapid Press headline describes his death, “Man found dead in cold was turned away from shelters in past because he was sex offender” (January 28, 2009), an columnist Tom Rademacher explains further this morning:

“He apparently froze to death because of a crime he committed nearly 20 years ago, and a niggling law that’s dogged him ever since his release from prison.

“In the days prior to the discovery of his body Monday morning at a recycling operation in the 600 block of South Division Avenue, he reportedly attempted to score a bed at either or both the Guiding Light Mission and Mel Trotter Ministries, just blocks away.

“But officials at both facilities reluctantly acknowledge they would have turned him away because registered sex offenders can’t reside for even one night within 1,000 feet of a school, in this case, Catholic Central High.”

Workers at both shelters noted that “their missions risk fines and loss of license if they admit sex offenders.”  We’ve complained often about the Scarlet Letter that our society has been branding on sex offenders.  Because they are treated as less-than-human bogeymen, politicians pander to unrealistic fears of sex offenders with restrictions that are unlikely to increase the safety of our children (and many experts argue will make matters worse) — and, they draft laws without including exceptions otherwise demanded by common sense and common decency.  I’d like to think that Thomas Pauli’s unnecessary death will help bring a touch of humanity and logic to the discussion of sex offender residency restrictions, but I am afraid that Rademacher is right when he says:

“I’ll bet that even before readers got to my fourth paragraph, some were thinking that Thomas Pierrie Pauli, who was born on Christmas Eve 52 years ago, got what he deserved. OK, so he spent time [11 yeras] in the joint. Big whup. A sex offender should pay forever.”

Given such consistent voices of fear, will the voices of compassion and reason be loud and long enough to affect needed changes?

.. .. Test-taking “Burgler” — Love or Money? Deandre Ellis was arrested for burglary yesterday here in Schenectady, for taking a New York State Regents exam on The Living Environment.  As the Gazette reports, in “Police: Regents taker an impostor” (January 29, 2009), Ellis “allegedly disguised himself as a girl to take a Regents exam for a current student.”  His skill as a disguise artist are somewhat lacking; it appears he wore a wig but other details of his make-over have not been released. Although he’s only 17 years old, Ellis is a former Schenectady High Student, so I’m not sure just how successful he has been in the past with taking Regents exams.  We’re not told whether he was taking this test out of romantic or entrepreneurial motives.  The unidentified “female student’s status — the real student — is under review, an official said.”

We are rather surprised that Deandre Ellis is charged with one felony count of third-degree burglary.  As the Gazette describes the rationale:

“Burglary is defined as knowingly entering a premises that you’re not supposed to be in with the intent to commit a crime, Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Clifford said.

“In Ellis’ case, he was not supposed to be at the school and he intended to commit the crime of forgery, Clifford said.”

Apparently, Sgt. Clifford told the Gazette they were using “a strict interpretation of the burglary statute.”  There are no criminal law experts in the f/k/a Gang, but it sounds more like a loose interpretation of the statute to us.

update (Feb. 19, 2009): The print version of the Daily Gazette has an article today on p. B3 titled “Imposter suspect in Regents exam faces lesser charge”.  It says District Attorney Robert Carney won’t be charging Ellis with burglary for entering a Schenectady school to take a Regents exam in disguise for another student.  Instead, Ellis is being charged with misdemeanor criminal impersonation, which he denied at his arraignment yesterday. DA Carney explains that “There has to be some sort of notice or communication to [a] person that ‘you’re not welcome’ to convert [entering a public building like a school] to a trespass,” on which to hang a burglary count.  According to Gazette reporter Steven Cook:

“But Carney likened the case to a shoplifter.  Anyone is allowed in a store, until they’re asked to leave. But a shoplifter isn’t charged with burglary, Carney said, even though they may have entered with the intent to steal.”

Tonsorial-forensic experts should note a mystery raised in the case:  Ellis wore a wig when posing as a female student in January.  As you can see above, he has short spiky hair in his mug shot.  But, three weeks later, he appeared in court with “long hair, past his shoulders.”  Neither Ellis nor his public defender were willing to comment on the issue.   Could it be Ellis will claim he always goes around in the long wig and therefore was not trying to impersonate the female student?

.. ..  Before & After Bellies: The human belly can be a most lovely sight.  Unfortunately, as we are all-too aware in modern America, it can also be a dreadful eyesore — and, one that the f/k/a Gang attempts to avoid as much as possible, whether be they dressed or undressed.  [Thus, you won’t find Prof. Yabut nor dagosan hanging out near the food courts of large shopping malls.]  We’re getting very tired, therefore, of being bombarded with all the internet ads lately for diet supplements and exercise machines that promise flat stomachs, and that somehow feel they have to depict bulging, pastey, toneless “before bellies“.

To Jacky and all the other hucksters of such products, we say “after bellies only, please”  (and, preferably, aspirational models who never really needed the products anyway).

You might not get the results promised in those Flat Stomach ads, but we try to keep our promises here at f/k/a.  So, here is another installment in our new project to present haiku and poetry from the back issues of the mostly-offline Modern Haiku journal.

The following haiku and senryu from our Honored Guest poets all appeared in ..  Modern Haiku XXVII:1 (Winter-Spring 1996; above cover image by John R. Reynolds):

the paisley lampshade
by the broken cabin window,
dusted with snow

shadowy barroom–
dirt in the wrinkles
of the saddlemaker’s hand

…. by Michael Dylan Welch

fast water–
our shadows cross
the melting snow

the doctor’s office still air–
my name written down
as I spell it

…. by Gary Hotham

a robin
on the oak’s bare branch . . .
cold morning sky

… by Peggy Willis Lyles

First light
the white moths on the screen
turning white

… by George Swede

new bed
a foster child’s
recurring dream

hugs everybody
never putting down
her drink

… by John Stevenson

back from vacation . . .
fiddling and fiddling with
the combination

minimal order–
the waiter looks out
the window

… by Tom Clausen

January 27, 2009

dead flowers and other messages

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 11:08 pm

..  Modern Haiku XXVII:1 (1996; cover by John R. Reynolds)

Last weekend, I brought home a box with back issues of the Modern Haiku journal, borrowed from my friend Yu ChangModern Haiku is not available online, except for a few sample poems from each issue that appear at its website. My plan was to start culling haiku and senryu written by our f/k/a Honored Guest Poets from the pages of Modern Haiku and share them here at f/k/a.

The first Honored Guest poem that I found as I opened the oldest volume in the box yesterday morning was this senryu by John Stevenson:

not dead roses
she corrects me
. . . dried

.. by John Stevenson – Modern Haiku XXVII:1 (1996

As always happens, I was soon distracted by an email and then a link on the f/k/a statistics page.  The next thing I knew, I was at Sui Generis, where blawger Niki Black pointed me to a posting at Stephen Bergstein’s Wait a Second! weblog. It was titled “Bouquet of dead flowers is free speech, not illegal death threat” (Jan. 21, 2009).  With simple serendipity, a posting theme was born.

After numerous additional, time-consuming distractions, I finally spent a couple hours at the end of yesterday afternoon putting together a “dead flowers” piece.  At about 6 PM, I moved my cursor to click “Publish,” but missed the button by an inch, and instead hit “Delete post.”  It was gone.  Gone.  And I was far too irked (at myself) and dispirited to start again last night.

a happy little horror 
the headless

…. by David G. Lanoue – Dewdrop World (2005; free download)

A full day later, I’m dragging out the dead flowers again, oblivious to any message my webserver might have been sending yesterday.

fresh grave
the bare earth covered
with cut flowers

… by Tom Painting  – The Heron’s Nest (Aug. 2003)

newspaper roll –
crushed crocuses just below
the headlines

… by Yu Chang – Frogpond 31:2 (Spring/Summer 2008)

At his civil rights weblog, Stephen Bergstein tells us why Mama Holley was being crass, not criminal, when she left dead flowers for the Orange County probation department:

“The case is Holley v. County of Orange, [S.D.N.Y.,] 06 Civ. 3984, decided on January 14. (The case is not yet reported). The plaintiff is a 69 year-old mother who was upset when the local court revoked her son’s probation and the probation officer laughed while leaving the courtroom.  So mom walked into the probation office undetected and left dead flowers on the receptionist’s desk with a message for the probation department reading, ‘Thinking of you, your ‘HELP’ will be long remembered.’ . . . Plaintiff’s follow-up email to a probation supervisor stated that she was sick and tired of the way that office had humiliated her family.  She also said the bouquet was ‘serving notice’ and that the ‘gift spoke for itself’.”

Apparently, the probation folk were very scared by the flowers and notes and, as Stephen explains, “Holley was arrested for menacing, which makes it illegal to intentionally place another person in imminent fear of physical injury or death.”  However, the federal trial judge looked at the situation and concluded Holley’s arrest violated the Fourth Amendment, because there was no probable cause that the flowers placed the “victims” in imminent fear of injury or death. In addition, while Holley’s gesture was “crude” and “offensive,” her arrest also violated her First Amendment right to free speech, because there was no “true threat” of violence. Instead, the court held that:

“[The bouquet and card] were neither unequivocal nor unconditional insofar as plaintiff expressed her dismay with the Department of Probation and asked for an apology.”

Moreover (and surely to Walter’s dismay), Ms. Holley is entitled to have a jury determine any damages caused by the denial of her civil rights.  Stephen concludes that “some criminal prosecutions are really First Amendment violations in disguise” and “irate citizens have the right to express profound dissatisfaction with official decision-making.”

Not unexpectedly, the Holley case reminded lawyer Bergstein of “a Rolling Stones classic from 1971” that he hadn’t heard in years.  It’s “Dead Flowers,” of course, which we discussed at f/k/a in 2005, after first reading John Stevenson’s “dead roses” poem, in his book Some of the Silence.  Indeed, we invited anyone sittin’ back in a rose pink Cadillac,

“to mail the f/k/a gang some dead flowers.  There’s no need to wait for a wedding or funeral.”

.. The Rolling Stones sang “Dead Flowers” on their 1971 Sticky Fingers album. [Click for the lyrics, and also for a 1972 performance by the Rolling Stones found on YouTube.]  Before he headed north in 1980 to NYC and  Cleary Gottlieb, my friend Martin Welling also sang “Dead Flowers” at night spots around Metro D.C. — often at my request.

after her death
composing roses
instead of words

.. by Pamela Miller Ness

Sending dead flowers without a more direct and deadly threat might not amount to menacing, but another cultural icon from the same era as the Stones’ song raises a similar legal issue.  In 1969, when recording began on “Dead Flowers,” Mario Puzo published his novel The Godfather.  In 1972, the movie version of The Godfather gave actor Lenny Montana’s face, voice and hulking presence to the Don’s loyal enforcer Luca Brasi, and gave us the immortal line “Luca Brasi dorme coi pesci.” Which leaves us with a question we can’t refuse to ask:

.. What about sending dead fish? Judging from this YouTube clip from The Godfather, young don Sonny Corleone was rather upset by that package with Luca Brasi’s vest wrapped around dead fish.  It’s clear message was that hit-man Brasi “sleeps with the fishes,” and it didn’t come from a 69-year-old miffed mother.  Please discuss among yourselves whether New York’s criminal menacing statute should have applied when Sonny got those unflappable fish.  We hope Scott Greenfield will share his vast criminal defense experience and NYC savvy to help answer this question.

first date–
the little pile
of anchovies

.…… by Roberta Beary – from The Unworn Necklace (Snapshots Press, 2007); Frogpond (Winter 2007), 1st Place, Haiku Society of America’s 2006 Gerald Brady Senryu Contest

first-date daisies
she never mentions
they’re wilting

.. by dagosan [Aug. 6, 2005]

No, I haven’t totally forgotten Modern Haiku XXVII:1 (1996).  It has a full bouquet of poetry from the f/k/a haijin family, and I’ll get back to them soon.  Until then, here are another pair in keeping with our floral theme.

in the rain
from the car to the house —
wide open chrysanthemums

… by Gary Hotham – Modern Haiku XXVII:1 (1996

a mist at dawn
moonflowers’ fragrance

…. by Peggy Willis Lyles – Modern Haiku XXVII:1 (1996

Flowers: once they’re picked, they’re all dead.

January 24, 2009

white lies: RMA 2008 is released

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu,Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 2:17 pm

.. “white lies: Red Moon Anthology 2008” (by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Press Editorial Staff, January 2009; ISBN: 1-978-893959-80-4; 182-pages, $17.00)

We’ve said it before: the publication of the annual Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku is a much anticipated event in the haijin community.  The annual “RMA” attempts to collect “the best English-language haiku and related writings from around the world” published in the prior calendar year, as selected by Red Moon Press owner Jim Kacian and a distinguished panel of editors.  Poets and readers of the genre love to see which poems and essays have been included.  Lately, there has even been some welcome controversy about the contents of RMA.

.. .. The f/k/a Gang was, therefore, very pleased to learn yesterday that the 13th volume in the RMA series is now available, “white lies: Red Moon Anthology 2008.”  It contains “133 poems, 18 linked pieces and five critical works which encapsulate the very best writing of the haiku world in English this year.”  Jim Kacian has held the line again on price, which is still $17.00.

Because we do not yet have a copy of RMA 2008 in hand, we can’t offer an overview nor yet present all of the works written by our Honored Guest Poets that were selected for inclusion in white lies.  I’m hoping that members of our f/k/a family of poets will let me know which of their poems have been chosen for this year’s RMA.  Here are the selected poems that I know about right now; I’ll add to this list as I learn of others.

to-do list done
the day softens
into dusk

…. by Billie WIlson
orig. pub. Upstate Dim Sum 2008/II

funeral dirge –
we bury the one
who could carry a tune

….. by  David Giacalone (in mem. Arthur P. Giacalone)
orig. pub. Frogpond – Spring 2008 (Vol. 31: 2)

the cool kids
walk arm-in-arm
. . . wild narcissus

hunger moon –
the words
i meant to say

winter dusk—
when dad
would phone

… by Roberta Beary
“the cool kids” – pub. credit: the heron’s nest 9:11
“hunger moon” – pub. credit: Haiku Ireland Kukai 10
“winter dusk” – pub. credit:  Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Contest 2008

a cold cup
from a cold cupboard
morning moon

a new teacher
adjusts the globe

the smoothness
of a river stone
slow-moving clouds

….. by Peggy Willis Lyles
“a cold cup”– Acorn 20
“equinox” – Acorn 21
“the smoothness” – Valley Voices 8:1

— you’ll find more poems from white lies in our posts “quickies and white lies” (Feb. 3, 2009); “GAL’s alternative universe” (Feb. 5, 2009; “stein and hull and more white lies” (Feb. 9, 2009) —

January 23, 2009

preemption sinks Rockland County sex offender residency law

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 11:59 pm

update (Jan. 26, 2009): Click for the decision in Peo. v. Oberlander. (via Kathy Manley)

afterwords (Feb. 20, 2009) See our post on Peo. v. James Blair, in which an Albany City Court judge follows the Oberlander precedent.  follow-up (March 27, 2010): The Schenectady County sex offender residency law was voided yesterday by State Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer, who held that the law was pre-empted by New York State laws covering restrictions on where sex offenders may live. See “Sex offender law tossed out” (Albany Times Union, March 27, 2010).  The case was brought pro bono by the Albany law firm of [Terence] Kindlon Shanks & Associates, which has successfully challenged similar laws in Albany, Resselaer and Washington Counties.  Attorney Kathy Manley handled the Schenectady County case for the Kindlon law firm.

We’ve been lax covering sex offender residency news since our marathon posting in 2007.  I’m pleased to report tonight, however, that Supreme Court Justice William Kelly struck down the Rockland County sex offender residency law, in a decision released today. Peo. v. Oberlander (Jan. 22, 2009) It is the first case in New York decided on the basis that the State has pre-empted the field, leaving no room for a county or other government unit to impose further restrictions.  See “State judge throws out Rockland’s housing law for sex offenders” (The Journal News, Jan. 23, 2009; via David Hess, TheParson.net).

According to The Journal News

“Justice William Kelly, in an eight-page decision, found that state has specifically taken the responsibility for sex offenders.

“Kelly also wrote the state law specifically empowers local probation officers to decide where sex offenders can live without any borders. He also cited a similar decision banning residency boundaries in New Jersey by a judge in the Garden State.”

Attorney David Goldstein represented the defendant in the case of People v. Yoel Oblerlander, which charged a Violation of Probation based on the defendant’s having  “moved to a residence within 1,000 feet of a ‘Rockland County pedophile-free child safety zone’ in violation of Local Law No. 1 of 2007.”     Under the Rockland County law, sex offenders were prohibited from living, working, and loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, libraries or any facilities. Goldstein told the Journal News that Rockland’s 1,000 feet restriction, or any boundary, is arbitrary and meaningless as far as protecting the public.

“The state law of letting probation officers use their discretion is more effective,” Goldstein said. “The county law was an over-reaction with a nebulous 1,000-foot magical line.”

There are 80 similar laws across the state that could be affected if challenged under the preemption doctrine. (See our prior post from October 2007, discussing a lawsuit challenging the Albany County sex offender law under preemption doctrine).

Rules passed by counties and towns often cause ripple effects. Ulster County is currently considering its own sex offender residence restrictions, after a sex offender moved there from Rockland County (see, Sex Offender Issues weblog, Jan. 15, 2009).  Ulster County Legislator Glenn Noonan told the The Daily Freeman that:

“I’m trying to get Ulster County on board with several other counties who have passed similar legislation. Then it forces the (state) Assembly to get off their butts and do something about this on a state level.”

More thoughtful minds will hopefully remind our state leaders that our current State laws and policy work well, and that there is no reason to believe banning offenders from particular zones protects our children. (see, e.g., our post “Sunday papers question sex offender laws“)

update (Jan. 28, 2009):  At his Sex Crimes weblog, Prof. Corey Rayburn Yung points out that “As was the case in New Jersey [G.H. v. Township of Galloway, 401 N.J. Super. 392 (App. Div. 2008)], the state could cure the conflict by either expressly allowing localties to implement residency restrictions or by adopting a statewide residency restriction law.”

update (Feb. 2, 2009): State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith has already proposed a bill — S.1300 — that would impose 1000-foot no-residence “safety zones” around schools, parks, day care centers.  See our post “don’t let a bad idea go statewide” (Feb. 2, 2009).

January 22, 2009

a few new ku from Bottle Rockets #20

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 8:41 pm

haikuEsq has been nagging me to find more new poems by our f/k/a family of poets — particularly haiku not appearing elsewhere online.  Happily, Issue #20 of Bottle Rockets (Vol. 10, no. 1) landed in Ed Markowski‘s mail box last week, and he was thoughtful enough to dig out the haiku and senryu written by a few of our Honored Guest Poets.  There’s a trio by Tom Painting, and three from Ed, too.  Plus, a couple of our stalwarts contribute one each.  Enjoy!

Bottle Rockets #20 (Vol. 10, no. 1; subscription information) ..

community playhouse
turns out
i know the fool

family reunion
a new generation
of war stories

my neighbor’s garden
gone to seed

… by Tom PaintingBottle Rockets #20

rhododendron blossoms-
small boys brandish
their samurai swords

.. by Carolyn Hall – Bottle Rockets #20

Valentine’s Day 
we pass the lip balm
back & forth

reflecting pond
its purity renewed when
i raise my head

water street
her house looks just like
her house

.. by Ed MarkowskiBottle Rockets #20

medical report
i start to weed
my bookshelves

.. by George Swede – – Bottle Rockets #20

.. Bottle Rockets #20 (Vol. 10, no. 1; subscription information) ..

January 20, 2009

Obama dawning: sober words of hope and duty

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 7:27 pm


Inauguration Day dawned with high expectations.   The weather forecast for Schenectady called for partly cloudy skies this morning — the perfect setting for a glorious sunrise (pink-painted clouds in a crisp winter-blue sky) to celebrate the opening of the Obama Presidential Era (in contrast to yesterday’s Bush sunset). Therefore, the f/k/a Gang was up and about much earlier than usual, in order to be caffeinated, bundled up, and out in Riverside Park for the 7:15 sunrise, Canon PowerShot in hand.  Outside my front door, however, it became clear that a thick blanket of gray clouds covered our Eastern sky.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

.. Inauguration Day 2009, at sunrise, Riverside Park, Schenectady NY; photos by D. Giacalone ..

After a quick moment of disappointment, I thought: A stately, subdued sunrise is just fine.  We don’t need a flashy show, nor rockstar fireworks today.  No drama, just the real Obama.

And, Barack Obama did not let us down, after being sworn in as our 44th President.  He gave a speech that was sober, not splashy — the goals soared more than the rhetoric.  In his Inaugural Speech (text, video), President Obama chose to focus on responsibilities over rights, community over clannishness, public spirit over party spite.  He chose to be himself and ask us to be our best selves.

For too many decades, politicians have told Americans that we can demonstrate our freedom with selfishness and our liberty with callousness.  So, I want to thank President Barack Hussein Obama for asking us to join him in a “new era of responsibility.”  This line is surely being quoted around the world and the web:

“There is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

Imagine if “only” a few million of us discovered the truth in that sentence?  Then, imagine if the majority of us did?

Frankly, as one of the “nonbelievers” in the “patchwork heritage” of America, I thought there was a little bit too much of the obligatory “God talk” in the inaugural ceremonies.  That’s not because I begrudge others their beliefs (although, I do wish they had a bit more respect for my choice to base my moral code on the dignity of man, not the commands of a deity).  It’s because I know — as does Barack Obama — that it won’t be God doing “the work of remaking America.”  It will be each of us, alongside our leaders.  As Pres. Obama correctly noted:

“God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.”

Barack Obama impressed and inspired me in his first national appearance, on July 27, 2004 (see our prior post, “Obama, O mama“).  He no longer needs to impress me to have my support and best wishes.  But, I hope he will continue to inspire all of us — to “put away childish things” and grow into a mature citizenship, within a national community ready to work, learn, and face our joint future together.



a pretty kite soars
a beggar’s shack

the war lord
forced off his horse…
cherry blossoms

a mountain cuckoo sings
“Don’t fall off
that horse!”

a war lord too
draws near our fire…
Oi River

… by Kobayashi Issa (19th Century, Japan), translated by David G. Lanoue

January 19, 2009

the sun sets on the Bush presidency

Filed under: q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 5:58 pm

After years of troubled and cloud-covered skies, a subtle sunset marks the last day of George W. Bush’s presidency.

.. …. along Riverside Park

moving day
dust bunnies and shadows
left behind

. . . by dagosan

sunset, along the Mohawk River, at Schenectady, New York, Jan. 19, 2009; photos by D. Giacalone

.. an ice fishing parent and kids on the Mohawk .. ..

. . Cucumber Alley, dead end, at the Mohawk River

it’s pink! it’s purple!
sunset inspires
more bickering

… by David Giacalone Frogpond Vol. XXVIII, #2 (2005) – click for a subsequent haiga

MLK & BHO: let’s make it a year, not a day, of service

Filed under: viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 10:58 am

. . . please: not just one Day of Service

With sincere thanks to the millions of Americans who are making Martin Luther King Day “a day on, not a day off” — and especially to those who will be going to work and then going to an MLK service project later today — I want to nag my fellow Americans to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and the spirit of the Obama Nation by making an At-least-a-year-of-service Pledge.  Head over to www.volunteer.gov for suggestions and links to volunteer opportunities.

the monochromatic
winter sky

…. by Ed Markowski

A lot of us folks in the legal profession are woefully short on handy-man skills.  And, frankly, we can achieve a lot more Value Added for our volunteer efforts if we use both our minds and our hearts, rather than our backs and sweat, in service to others.  Although law-related “pro bono” work comes readily to mind for many with law degrees, I hope a lot of lawyers and law students will consider mentoring a child or young parent — as a human being wanting to touch the life of other human beings. I agree with the folks at National Mentoring month:

“When you serve as a mentor, you enrich your own life as much as you do the life of a child. Mentoring leads to new experiences, new connections, new insights, and new satisfactions.”

… January 2009 is National Mentoring Month ..

Learn more about mentoring here.

We’ve talked about MLK Day themes before. And, we have already thanked America for choosing Barack Obama last November.  But, the f/k/a Gang is feeling terribly short on the kind of eloquence that seems adequate to mark the concurrence this week of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the Inauguration of Barack Obama.  So, we’re going to leave the eloquence to our new President and others better equipped for the task.

Like many postings at this weblog, this one is as much an exhortation to myself as to others — putting words on the public record that will help move me to thoughtful, heartfelt, meaningful action in my everyday life, in service to the community (local and national).   Actions are far more important than words; and I believe that quiet individual actions are in the end more important than the rush that comes from being in a crowd in support of a good cause or to be part of a moment of history.  I’m going to mark today with a few rare minutes — away from this addictive and often inconsequential weblog and internet — of focused contemplation as to the best use of my limited time and energy in service this year to others and to our nation.  Something tells me that I’m going to decide that less blogging and more mentoring is a far more productive and satisfying use of my time.

— photo of the Mohawk River at Schenectady, NY, Jan. 18, 2009; by D. Giacalone —

p.s. Don’t forget to join Yolanda Young’s Blawg Review #195, her special Martin Luther King, Jr. Day edition of Blawg Review.  In addition to providing commentary and musings on this year’s celebration, she links to MLK stories from around the blawgosphere.  (I love the tagline at her On Being A Black Lawyer weblog; it’s a quote from Charles Hamilton Houston: “A lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite.”)

January 17, 2009

mortimer, morden, and miracles

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:25 pm

A few “quickies” that took too long to write this Saturday morning afternoon:

Thank you, John Mortimer, for creating Rumpole:  As today’s New York Times reports, “John Mortimer, Barrister and Writer Who Created Rumpole, Dies at 85” (Jan. 17, 2009).  The famous “champagne Socialist” will be much-praised and discussed in the media.  I want to thank him for creating, Horace Rumpole, who Bloomberg‘s appropriately describes as “the curmudgeonly London trial lawyer renowned for his roguish way with the law, his love of small cigars and cheap claret, and his fear of just one person, his wife Hilda, a.k.a. ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’.” No other fictitious character has given me so much enjoyment over the decades as Rumpole, on television and in novels.

As a lawyer and observer of the legal profession, I particularly appreciate Rumpole’s battles with the folks we call the Dignity Police.  As we said here three years ago, after listening to the audiobook of John Mortimer’s novel Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders:

Throughout this enjoyable memoir of Rumpole’s first big case, he is chided by Queen’s Inns and Equity Court versions of the bar’s dignity police – pompous Heads of Chamber, like Wynset and Ballard, worried more about their own perquisites and appearing in “the finest traditions of our great profession” than in working diligently to keep a client from the death sentence or in helping to nurture the career of a young “white wig” lawyer.

Rumpole, of course, refuses to see his role as being “a safe pair of hands” wearing the correct color of pants.   Yes, he never does become rich or famous, or even Head of Chambers, but he serves his clients and profession with his zeal and his soul intact.

As for Mortimer, I particularly enjoyed Clive Davis’ remembrance yesterday in The Spectator, which includes this passage from his autobiography “The Summer of a Dormouse” (which Davis calls a “beautiful, slender book about the tribulations – and occasional – rewards of old age”):

After this encounter with various religious beliefs, I remember that C.M. Bowra wrote, “A people gets the gods it deserves. The grinning, gloating ogress of the Aztecs mirrors a race brutalized by incessant war.” So the Greek gods are as louche, and often as charming, as their worshippers. The God of Israel is extremely nationalistic and frequently cross. The Scotch God is prim and meticulous and the American God, at any rate on the Networks, wishes to be taken literally, lacks a sense of irony and prefers large financial contributions to burnt offerings. When I was at school I was introduced, in the Chapel, to the Church of England God, a well-intentioned old gent who doesn’t care too much for religion.

A final thought from Prof. Yabut: If you’re thinking of giving me a lifetime achievement award, please don’t wait until I’m 85.  If I don’t deserve one before then, I don’t deserve one.  Googling about John Mortimer today, I discovered that the mystery magazine The Strand announced it was giving John Mortimer a Lifetime Achievement Award on January 14, 2009, two days before the author died.

Flight 1549’s Landing Was Not a Miracle:  As we wrote two days ago, the f/k/a Gang was grateful and impressed by the outcome of the collision of US Airways Flight 1549with a flock of geese.   But, in response to the verbal reaction of America’s politicians, press and public, we voice a hearty “no!” to the headline in Rex Huppke’s Chicago Tribune article “Have we set the bar too low for miracles?” (January 16, 2009).  Huppke notes:

“The safe Hudson River landing of US Airways Flight 1549 was remarkable enough to push passengers and public officials, headline writers and talking heads straight into the realm of the supernatural. . . .  It was a tragedy narrowly averted, but was it really a miracle?

“The pilot, we now know, is highly trained and has years of experience. From a pragmatic standpoint, with an expert at the helm, the result was just what it should have been.”

Using the word more precisely in a religious context, John C. Cavadini, chair of the theology department at the University of Notre Dame, told the Tribune: “Strictly speaking, the term ‘miracle’ would be reserved for an event for which there is no natural explanation.”   And, Loyola University theology professor Dennis Martin noted that the Latin root from which “miracle” is derived merely means “a marvelous thing.”  He adds:

“I think it comes down to whether you believe in God’s activity in the world or not. Those who do would say that even with the skill of the pilot, if just a little something goes the wrong way it could all turn out quite differently. When a person of faith says it was miraculous, really what he’s saying is, ‘I believe God was involved.’ “

In response, Ruppke asks a very logical question: “[W]hat of the Canada geese officials think flew into the jet’s engines, causing the plane to go down? If there were divine intervention in the safe landing, why were the geese there in the first place?” And, Prof. Martin replies:

“No mainstream theologian would say God either directed those geese into those engines or that God didn’t act to stop them. God permits this to happen. The birds did what they did. The pilots did what they did.”

The skeptics here at f/k/a do not believe in divine intervention in human affairs. (If we did, we would have quite a few bones to pick with a supposedly all-loving but demonstrably arbitrary and capricious Supreme Being.)  For us, the safe landing of Flight 1549 was a “miracle” using the meaning of “an unexpectedly marvelous thing”.  It was not the result of divine intervention — nor angelic assistance.  We’ll leave you with two points to ponder:

  • If a reasonable God were going to choose to grant a particular airliner a death-free crash, why in heavens would he choose one filled with employees of the Bank of America, just one day before BofA got a $20 billion bailout (and two weeks after it charged Your Editor a $39 fee for being a few hours late making an $18 minimum charge card payment)?
  • To those who always tell me God allows evil and unfair things to happen, because he gave humans free will and has to respect it, I ask: “Did he give the geese free will, too?”

update: Almost miraculousErik Turkewitz has been watching to see whether lawyers are complying with the New York ethics rule banning the solicitation of victims of a mass disaster within 30 days of the event. [DR 7-111 (22 NYCRR 1200.41-a)] So far, Turk has found only one lawyer looking for client with a Flight 1549 ad.  Only one!  Really.  Follow-update: Eric has done a great job explaining some of the problems that exist with the NY 30-day solicitation ban, in the post “New York’s Anti-Solicitation Rule Allows for Ethics Laundering and Must be Modified”  (January 22, 2009).

Marvelous but not unexpected: It’s only halfway through January, and Matt Morden has already posted more memorable poems and photos at his Morden Haiku weblog this year than I can fit in one post.  Here’s a sample:

lingering frost
i paint a wall
a new shade of white

.. [orig. Jan. 11, 2009]

winter breath
enough to obscure
the stars

all day in the ice
on fringes of the river
colour of the moon

down from the hills
a taste of mist
on my beard

… by Matt Morden at Morden Haiku

Matt’s year-end sunset inspired dagosan to dig up one of his own:

year-end sunset
we head East
into pinks and blues

……. by dagosan
(photo taken at Riverside Park, Schenectady, Dec. 28, 2009)

January 16, 2009

making wind farms eco-friendly neighbors

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 8:42 pm

.. Wind power is a popular and growing source of “green” and clean energy.  Back in the summer, we wrote about New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo trying to assure that the process of getting wind-turbine “farms” approved by towns and villages is also clean — free of conflicts of interests, dirty tricks, and anticompetitive practices.  See this post on the launching of a statewide investigation, and this one on a voluntary Code of Conduct.

Lawyer Arthur J. Giacalone (who finally has a small website) is my brother (as well as my haiga collaborator). Due to the nature of his law practice, I’ve been more aware than many proponents of Green Energy that large industrial-scale “wind farms” are often not good neighbors. Art’s zoning-development law practice has long focused on helping residents protect their quality of life, property values and community character.  More and more over the past decade, homeowners have come to him deeply concerned over proposed wind farms in their towns, villages and rural communities. Arthur has been working hard on their behalf — with some wins and some losses — to help assure that law makers and public officials use their planning and development powers to require large-scale wind farms to be eco-friendly neighbors.  As Art says at his website:

. . . Art Giacalone  . . .

They may be touted as “green and clean,” but inappropriate siting of industrial-scale wind turbines can adversely impact the health of nearby residents (“wind turbine syndrome”), the community’s rural character, and the value of properties within the towers’ viewshed.

Last week, Art had a well-deserved victory in the case of Hamlin Preservation Group v. Town Board of the Town of Hamlin (NYS Sup. Ct. for Monroe County; Index No. 2008/11217).  In a decision dated January 5, 2009, the Hon. David Michael Barry “set aside and annulled” The Wind Energy Law adopted in April 2008 by the Monroe County Town of Hamlin.  Judge Barry said that the Town Board violated the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it neither took a “hard look” at the relevant areas of environmental concern, nor set forth a “reasoned elaboration” for its determination that the wind energy law would not have a significant impact on the environment.  See “Hamlin wind power decision blown down in court” (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Janl 12, 2009).

The facts are instructive. As Art explained in a press release last weekend:

The wind law nullified by the court would have allowed construction of 400-foot- tall wind turbines within 600 feet of property lines and public roads and 1,200 feet of residences.  In adopting the local law, the Hamlin Town Board chose to ignore the recommendations of the town’s Wind Tower Committee for 1,500-foot setbacks from roads and property lines, and 2,640-foot [half-mile] setbacks from residents.  The Town Board also disregarded the WTC’s recommended noise standards intended to protect the health and wellbeing of nearby residents.

The Board had argued (rather lamely, methinks) that it didn’t have to explain its conclusion that there would be no environmental impact, because its legislation only imposed restrictions and did not actually allow any specific project.

As my brother knows, I’ve always been a bit worried about the NIMBY phenomenom.  With all its open space and wind potential, I believe it should be possible for New York to play an important part in achieving our national goal of developing green energy and moving toward energy independence, while helping with needed economic development.  But, I’m also convinced (again, because of all that space) that large-scale wind production can and should be done in a way that minimizes or eliminates environmental damage to the surrounding communities — and thereby eliminates opposition from reasonable people acting in good faith.  Art is right when he argues:

“If a town chooses to allow, rather than prohibit, industrial-scale wind development, it must, at a minimum,  protect its residents’ health, maintain the town’s rural character, and preserve property values by  establishing meaningful setback requirements and noise standards.”

According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Hamlin Town officials want to move quickly to put a new law on the books. (See “Hamlin to consider new wind power laws,” Jan. 13, 2009)  Let’s hope this time they listen to their own Wind Tower Committee and other experts who have come up with workable standards to make windfarms good (if a bit standoffish) neighbors.

For more on these issues, see:

p.s. Just a little bit of haiku on a frigid winter night:

withering wind…
the scarecrow’s jacket

… by ed markowski

the narrow place
between my neck and my collar
November wind

. . . by DeVar Dahl – A Piece of Egg Shell, Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar 2003

sudden blast of wind –
borrowing the snowman’s
hat and gloves


a few new haiku for a frigid January day

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 10:06 am

.. warm up with Snowdays haiku from 3LightsGallery .. ..

Liam Wilkinson at Three Lights Gallery felt deprived of school-free snow days when he was a wee lad.  In the near-universal lament of schoolboys, he felt all the deep snow came on weekends and holidays where he lived in the North of England.  Liam tells us:

“whilst I was sloping off to school in the light flurries of my northern winters, I couldn’t help but envy those who were staying home to enjoy the snow.”

As an adult with an “online haiku gallery,” Liam had a solution — ask your haijin friends to contribute a blizzard of snow and cold haiku and senryu.  He did:

“So, welcome to Snowdays – pour a cup of something hot, wrap up, sit back and enjoy the snow.”

You’ll find poems by over three dozen haiku poets, including Liam’s talented buddies Alan Summers and John Barlow. Two of our Honored Guests poets, Roberta Beary and Laryalee Fraser, appear in Snowdays.  Here are their offerings:

morning mail—
sunlight slides down
an icicle

the last rose
still attached…
four degrees of frost

… by Laryalee Fraser  – from Snowdays (3LightsGallery, January 2009)

my resume disappears
from the screen

frigid morning
under the covers
i enter your warmth

whirling snow
divorce papers fall
from a red folder

winter stars  without you  to name them

.. by Roberta Beary – from Snowdays (3LightsGallery, January 2009)

Here’s a wintry haiga from the Giacalone twins, who also never seemed to get enough school days off in snowy Rochester, New York:

morning shadows –
the gunslingers wait
for high noon

…….. photo by Arthur Giacalone, Esq; poem by David Giacalone, Legal Studies Forum (Vol. XXXII, No. 1. 2008). Click for a B&W version of the haiga (photo with poem) at HaigaOnline, Issue 7-2 (Autumn-Winter 2006).

phoenixes and beginner’s mind

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:50 am

reprise (from Dec. 13, 2007):
Marilou Awiakta says “I think most of what I learned about being a woman and a poet can be summed up in one poem”:

On Being a Female Phoenix

Not only do I rise
from my own ashes,
I have to carry them out!

by Marilou Awiakta, from Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom (Fulcrim Publishing, 1993)

.. Despite my allergy to Blawg Review themes, so many people have mentioned Susan Cartier Liebel‘s phoenix-themed version of Blawg Review #194, with its focus on innovation in the practice of law, that I had to head over there, even if belatedly.

Although there’s nothing new about the f/k/a Gang flying around from topic to topic, that’s what we’re gonna do in this post about fresh starts and fresh eyes.

January storm
last year’s snowbank
slowly whitens

………… by dagosan

Kinky’s Presidential Phoenix:  After Hurricane Katrina, former presidential candidate (and chronic comic, author, and canine rescuer) Kinky Friedman had a few words to say that I would like to recycle and edit slightly, as the GWBush Administration ends and Barrack Obama’s rises:

A Message from Kinky

I wish to express my sincerest sympathy to those who lost loved ones, homes, jobs or hope as a result of hurricane Katrina [8 years with George W. Bush as President]. We should keep in mind that from every tragedy emerges valuable knowledge for our future, allowing us to correct those things that didn’t work as well as they might have. There also arises a Phoenix-like renewal of faith in the human spirit, when people give of themselves and their resources to help.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

the uneven edge
of a quahog shell

a spring wind
coins in the cup
of a sleeping beggar

……. by paul m.
“unemployed” – The Heron’s Nest Award (Sept. 2005)
“a spring wind” – The Heron’s Nest (June 2000)

Chuck Newton on Clear Speech: Blawg Review #194 and some of its fans have mentioned third-waver Chuck Newton’s weblog posting “Clarity (Or The Lack Thereof),” as a plea for lawyer innovation based on the use of plain English.  Chuck says:

“What is wrong with some lawyers (many lawyer) (maybe most lawyers).  We are suppose to be the epitome of argument and persuasion, and we just lack clarity.   Argument is not the opposite of clarity.  Clarity should be the basis for any good argument.”

He then skewers a lawyer he calls Bob for his lack of clarity in a telephone conversation that related to a settlement negotiation, where “The Defendant had previously offered $2,000.00 to resolve the matter and I countered at $4,000.00.  The cuss never had the resolve to call or email me back as promised, so I called him.”  Here’s the core of the discussion:

Chuck: “Where do we stand on the settlement offer”.

Bob: “Presently, all I have authority for is $2,000.00”.

Chuck: “What does that mean, Bob?”

Bob: “What do I mean?  I do not know how I can be more clear”.

As an early proponent and practitioner of mediation, I agree with Chuck that gamesmanship is rarely good negotiation.  But, I’m not at all sure that the problem with Bob was lack of clarity.   Here’s my take:

  • This is not a “Plain English and Lawyers” issue. The Plain English in the Law movement is about “legal information without the legalese.”  See Adam Freedman’s Party of the First Part weblog.  When legalese is not the cause of the lack of clarity, we’re in the realm of everyday unclear, obtuse bad writing or speech.
  • Bob seems to me to have said exactly what he meant — and to use words that had the correct connotation and denotation for the context.  He told Chuck loud and clear that he could not go above $2000 at that time.  For Chuck, the problem was that he was not hearing what he wanted to hear, and the negotiation was not progressing, but that is different from blaming unclear speech.  Indeed, Bob really wasn’t using “argument” either — he wasn’t trying to explain his situation, and indeed did not want to explain.
  • Unclear on Purpose: Thirty years ago, in a minor management position at the Federal Trade Commission and as a supervising attorney, I reviewed the work of hundreds of lawyers — usually memos in which they were trying to persuade the Commission to sue somebody or pass a particular rule.  It very quickly became clear to me — even using my neophyte cross-examination skills — that lawyers writing ambiguous or otherwise unclear sentences were almost always hiding something.  They didn’t want to lie, but they were willing to fudge and obfuscate, in the hope that no one would notice that the facts or the law weren’t quite as strong as they were insisting.  Despite Bob’s answering Chuck’s direct question by saying he had so spoken with his client about the $2000 offer, I would not be the least bit surprised to hear that, in fact, he had not, and that was why he could not go higher than his client’s first offer.

Yes, we need more Plain English from lawyers (who need to remember their audience), and in our laws and regulations.  Yes, win-win negotiation is usually in the best interests of our clients (and our sanity), while zero-sum negotiations using gamesmanship is often counterproductive, and not (despite what some swaggering and blustering attorneys seem to believe) the sign of Lawyer Mastery.  But, gamesmanship is not necessarily an example of unclear use of the English language.  If you want to improve your Plain English skills and your general ability to write clearly, see Adam Freedman’s essay “Can I Write Plain English?“.

………………. Fresh Eyes and Beginner’s Mind:  Susan Cartier Liebel picked a winner when she included “Fresh Eyeglasses” (What About Clients, Jan. 7, 2009) in her list of recent posting worth noting, and she was clearly right when she said:

“Sometimes innovation comes from simply putting on ‘Fresh Eyeglasses‘.” In another wonderful post over at What About Clients, Dan Hull talks about his ideal:

“Few of us can have Albert Einstein’s talent for Western logic, or IQ. But Einstein’s advantage over other physicists may have been that he was a “new soul”; he looked at everything as if he were seeing it for the first time.

“Work. He approached it from a wellspring of joy. There are others like him in that respect. Those are the kind of people I want as friends to inspire me, and as co-workers to solve clients’ problems. I’ll take an IQ a lot lower than Einstein’s (for associates, though, Coif or Law Review would be nice). Reverence and a child’s awe. That’s the outlook I prize. Energy, intensity and creativity always seem to come with it.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

blind date
she never mentions
my stripes and plaids

… by dagosan

Despite my sitting on Einstein’s lap thirty years ago, and writing and sharing haiku for over 5 years, I surely haven’t yet figured out yet how to see the world every day with “fresh eyes,” nor how to bring joy to my work (much less to infect others with joyous wellbeing).

.. But, Dan Hull’s praise for fresh eyes and new souls reminded me of the related (and perhaps nearly identical) characteristic taught and lived by many zen teachers: Beginner’s Mind.  I know virtually nothing about zen, but I have known from the moment I heard about beginner’s mind that working toward it is a journey I need to take in my far-too-opinionated and judgmental life.  And, finally giving up weblog punditry — which, frankly, brings me little joy — is probably where I need to start.

The tagline of the Beginner’s Mind weblog is this quote:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi

Here’s a beautiful description of Beginner’s Mind, that I hope will whet your appetite (and re-kindle mine). It’s an excerpt from “A Lecture on Beginner’s Mind” by Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman (emphases added), to a class of zen students:

“Beginner’s mind is Zen practice in action. It is the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgements and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see “things as-it-is.” I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. “I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?” Without approaching things with a fixed point of view or a prior judgement, just asking “what is it?

” . . . I don’t know about you, but when I started to sit [in zazen meditation] I really began to see how many fixed ideas and fixed views I had. How much judgment was ready right on the tip of my tongue. How much expectation, how much preconception I was carrying around with me all the time, and how much it got in the way of actually noticing what was happening. I don’t want to tell you that after thirty years I’m free of all that, but at least I notice it sooner and I sometimes don’t get caught in believing it.

” . . . In her poem “When Death Comes,” Mary Oliver has a few lines that say, “When it’s over, I want to say I have been a bride married to amazement, I’ve been a bridegroom taking the world into my arms.” This is beginner’s mind: “I’ve been a bride married to amazement.” Just how amazing the world is, how amazing our life is.  . . . This is our effort. This is our work. Just to be here, ready to meet whatever is next without expectation or prejudice or preconceptions. Just “What is it?” “What is this, I wonder?”

“So please, cultivate your beginner’s mind. Be willing to not be an expert. Be willing to not know. Not knowing is nearest. Not knowing is most intimate. . ..”

naughty child–
instead of his chores
a snow Buddha

“Gimme that moon!”
cries the crying

….. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

this summer night—
she lets the firefly glow
through the cage of her fingers

in both hands–
the water she carries
from the ocean

…. by Gary Hotham from breathmarks: haiku to read in the dark

Tonko Rises Again and the Gazette Reiterates:  Congratulations to Paul Tonko, (Dem.-NY. – 21st Distrist), my new Congressman.  After two dozen years in the NYS Assembly, Paul resigned in 2007 to become President and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  At the time, I think he considered his days seeking and serving in elective office to be behind him.  But, the surprise retirement of Mike McNulty from Congress opened up a much-coveted seat, and brought Paul Tonko’s political career back to life in a new form.

I’ll be keeping tabs on Cong. Tonko’s new career, and I hope he manages to bring both his lifetime of experience and a beginner’s mind to Washington.  But, tonight (despite my having just written about cultivating non-judgmental Beginner’s Mind) I want to note a phenomenom related to his new job that I have never seen in a half century of reading newspapers: The Schenectady Daily Gazette apparently thought it so important that “Tonko snags House panel slots in science, education” (by Edward Munger, Jr.), it printed the 12-column-inch article in full on both page B2 and the facing page B3 in the January 15, 2009 printed edition.  Why, however, it simultaneously failed to post the article at its website, I cannot say.

after renting the house
moon-gazing there…

my world–
rice pounding echoes
over evening snow

….. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

January 15, 2009

flight 1549: fatalities — a big goose egg!

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 7:09 pm

US Airways Flight 1549:  It’s very cold here in Upstate New York, but I’m still taking off my hat to praise the pilot (Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, of Danville, Calif.), crew and passengers of US Airways Flight 1549, and all of the rescue workers (fire department, police department and Port authority police).  Together, they were able to bring today’s plane crash into the Hudson River to a remarkably happy ending — with all aboard surviving (most not even getting wet) and no apparent serious injuries. “All 155 survive plane crash in NYC’s Hudson River” (AP/Charlotte Observer, Jan. 15, 2009); “Jet Ditches in Hudson; All Are Said Safe” (New York Times, Jan. 15, 2009) [Click for “latest updates on the Hudson jet rescue” from the NYT City Room weblog.]

NY Gov. David Paterson got it right, when he said:

This is a potential tragedy that may have become one of the most magnificent days in the history of New York City agencies.”

Apparently, the plan encountered a flock of geese. We now know what a “double bird” means to airline and safety workers — a bird or several birds entering engines on both sides of the plane.  According to a side article in the Charlotte Observer, there were at least 6 bird-plane collisions in 2008 — geese, hawks, owls and more.

— we’re left with yet another perspective on flocks of geese —

update (Feb. 12, 2009): The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board reported today that experts at the Smithsonian Institution have determined it was indeed Canadian geese that brought down Flight 1549, after examining 25 samples of bird remains found in the plane’s engine.  See AP report on CTA.ca, and CNN.

Master Issa wrote hundreds of haiku about geese, in the 19th Century.  Here’s a sample (find many more here)

another year
they’re back for the massacre…
rice field geese

wind is blowing
and so the geese
are honking

settling back
to dead silence…
rice field geese

finalizing the divorce
leaving my house behind…
departing geese

the departing goose
drops an enormous

after many nights
telling me bedtime stories
the geese have left

straight out of a full moon
the geese depart

evening wind–
the geese turn around

after the geese depart
back to normal…
Sumida River

…….. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

honking at my window –
geese above
cabbie below

… by dagosan

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