Category Archives: Adventures

We got to meet the President!

Image:  President Obama next to Tim Fox (white man in suit and tie sitting in wheelchair) and Amy Robertson (white woman in suit and scarf).

For all the griping I hear on the left and right, I remain a huge fan.  It was an amazing moment for me, so I’ll be enforcing a “Thumper Rule” for comments:  “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Extra bonus Father’s Day waffle photo

Image:  older white man in a flowered shirt sitting at an outdoor restaurant table, smiling with his arms outstretched.  On the table in front of him is a plate of waffles and bacon, with ice cream on top.

My father-in-law Denver Fox celebrates Father’s Day by ordering*

Image: cropped photo of menu item: "Bananas Foster Waffle: Buttermilk Waffle, Banana Rum Caramel Sauce, Pecans, Pecanwood Bacon"

with a side of whiskey brickle ice cream.  Because Father’s Day!

Tim and I had an amazing omelet with a crawfish pepper sauce.

None of us ordered but all of us were entertained by

Image: cropped photo of menu item:  "Gator Benedict: Alligator Sausage, Johnny Cakes, Marinated Green Tomatoes, Poached Eggs, Hurricane Hollandaise, House Potatoes."

All at Fourteen Seventy-Two on South Pearl Street in Denver.

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* I had to find a way to include the name of the dish, because I kept reading it “Bananas Foster Wallace.”  You too, right?

Yes, this was a business trip.

This post is a long-overdue recognition of the amazing work Kmart has done to make its stores more accessible.  But perhaps I was just waiting for the opportunity to include the words — and a photo — “crocodile statue.”*

Once upon a time … yes I feel like the roots of this post are sufficiently deep in the past that it justifies that opening.  Once upon a time, there was a chain of department stores, many of which were pretty inaccessible.

{Image:  A woman in a wheelchair wheeling away from the camera down a store aisle, the sides of which are clutered with boxes and a hand-truck.}

We sued them.  A class was certified.  The company declared bankruptcy.  The company emerged from bankruptcy.  No one, including the judge, could figure out the status of the litigation.  Many motions with creative titles were exchanged.  The company hired new lawyers, then more new lawyers.  And then, finally, in 2006, the case settled.

In the settlement, Kmart undertook to survey all of its then-1,500 stores over eight years and bring them largely into compliance with the DOJ Standards.  They also committed to make rack spacing more accessible and — this  was crucial — to maintain the stores so that people who use wheelchairs could get around them.

Kmart and its team threw themselves into the project with skill and enthusiasm.  It has been a privilege to work with Lori Miller, from the general counsel’s office, and Mark Conway, from the construction side.  Although we spent days during the settlement negotiation laboring over a dispute resolution process, there has not be a single dispute that required access to that process.

OK, I’m rambling without getting to the crocodile part of the blog.

As part of the settlement process, several times each year, Mark and Tim and I travel to a city and survey three or four Kmart stores, both for the accuracy of the physical fixes and the maintenance of the fixes and the accessibility of the stores in general.  We’ve traveled to such glamor spots as Riverside, CA, and Schaumberg, IL.  This time we tossed out the idea of surveying stores in the Florida Keys and, well, here we are!

We surveyed three stores, all remodeled pretty early in the process, and found them to be very accessible.  There were, as always, a couple of notes, but we were very impressed both by the number of fixes that were being maintained and the general accessibility of the stores.  That latter feature has been a consistent source of delight when we do these surveys and when I simply enter a Kmart store:  they have taken seriously the commitment to making the store more navigable in a wheelchair, one of the primary complaints motivating the litigation.  When we started the litigation, there were many aisles in many stores that looked like the one at the top of this post.  Now that scene is very rare.

But what made these surveys especially fun was the added Florida Keys flavoring.

{Image:  orange and blue plastic kayaks displayed in front of a Kmart store.}

 

{Image:  Coral Cactus, that is, a cactus plant that is wavy and looks like coral.}

I think I’m going to order the Crocodile Statue from kmart.com.  Hope it’s still on sale!

{Image: : Cardboard packing box with the words "crocodile statue" on the outside.}

 

{Image:  A garden-sized statue of a crocodile.}

Most Kmart stores have a Garden Center; the one in Marathon — uniquely — had a Fishing Center

{Image:  Exterior of a large brick building with red letters that read "Fishing Center."}

What would be the entire garden center area of an ordinary Kmart was given over to fishing gear and — given our lead plaintiff’s love for fishing — Carrie should be happy to know it was very accessible.

{Image:  on the right side of the photo, the display racks on one side of an aisle of a Kmart store, all showing fishing gear of various types.  The left side of the photo showing a clear path down the aisle.}

 

But my favorite feature of this store was the giant ocean mural on the front.

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{Image:  close up of part of the mural showing a single teal-colored fish.}

{Image:  close up of part of the mural showing a five small teal-colored fish.}

This led to my unsolicited but genius design idea:  paint the floor of the main drive loop aisle around the store like a lazy river pool full of tropical fish!  Wouldn’t that make shopping more fun?  I did originally suggest sharks — hey, I’m a lawyer, what did you expect? — but the store manager pointed out that that might scare the kids.  Good point.  But what kid wouldn’t love to go shopping when they could walk on a stream full of tropical fish?  Imagine the fun this could be around the country:  ski slopes in Colorado; beaches in California; forest scenes in New England.  Maybe I have a future in store design!

 

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* Edited to correct typos.  I originally had “crocodile statute.”  Once a law nerd; always a law nerd!  (Thanks, Terri!)

Holly and Amy’s Big Adventure

I got to do one of my favorite things on Friday:  talk about the ADA to a bunch of disability rights advocates.  Even better:  the advocates were with the Southwest Center for Independence, and were in Durango, Colorado.  I had the choice of six* hours of driving (each way) through the amazing Colorado countryside, or an hour (each way) bouncing over the mountains in a regional jet.  I chose the drive without a second thought.

Denver to Durango

So Friday morning early, I lit out for Durango and because Holly still isn’t fully house-trained, and thus can’t stay alone with Tim, I brought her along for the ride.

 

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It’s almost as if I bought the CRV with the dogs in mind!  Oh, right.  Turns out it has an added feature I hadn’t even known about.  For those awkward moments when she poops in the middle of a scenic overlook that lacks a trashcan:

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Always pack out your trash!

Anyway, I chose the southeastern route in the map above — down I25 and across Route 160 — because I’m not a big fan of pass driving.  Google Maps helpfully sets out various routes, and then lets you choose your mode of transportation:  car; bus; on foot.  To accurately calculate our time, however, they need another option:  traveling with puppy.

 

Google maps composite

We stopped every hour and a half to two hours to find Holly a grassy spot.  Besides that slight inconvenience, though, she was the perfect traveling companion.

Driving in Colorado:  breathtakingly beautiful.

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Breathtakingly scary:

 

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Breathtakingly . . . obvious?

 

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Got to Durango without a minute to spare before the talk.  That is, though I didn’t have any minutes to spare, I spared a couple, and ended up about 5 minutes late.   It was my favorite kind of talk:  with interested advocates who had great ideas and great questions.

After the talk, Holly and I set out to explore Durango a bit, and found a path by the river that was perfect for a post-driving-trip stroll.

 

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Obligatory “Holly Posing Because She Knows Just How Cute She Is” photo:

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Dinner was yak stew — a first for me! — and lamb dumplings at The Himalayan Kitchen, then back to the hotel, where Holly checked out the accommodations.

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For the drive back to Denver, I chose the more direct route — in blue in the map above — that took me on Route 160 as far as Del Norte, and then Route 285 northeast through the mountains.  There were a couple more passes, but either they were relatively easy passes or I’m finally getting use to pass driving.  Or possibly exchanging the 1988 Accord for a 2013 CRV just makes the whole thing feel safer.  But I also took the time to stop for photos.  These first four were processed in HDR:

 

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AR056492_3_4_tonemapped b&w

Wildlife!

 

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Colorado life!

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Uh oh!   Better behave myself!***

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I arrived home, tired and happy, yesterday afternoon, very grateful to live in a state of overwhelming natural beauty and kick-ass disability advocates.

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* Actually, I have to confess, when I first learned I would be going to Durango, I thought, “it’s in the same state; how far can that be?”  Having grown up out east**, I assumed that anywhere you had to go within a single state couldn’t be more than a couple of hours’ drive.  Soooooo it turns out they make states bigger out here.  So the six-hour drive was a bit of a surprise, but ultimately a pleasant one.

** I’ve been overthinking the phrases “back east” and “out west” recently.  I use the phrases mostly because they reflect my path.  I started life on the east coast, and I’ve migrated out west.  But it occurs to me that these common phrases are not only sort of east-coast-centric, but also reflect a European-American-centric path (my peeps mostly entered the U.S. from the east coast and headed west) as opposed to an Asian-American path, as many Asians entered the U.S. from the west coast.  So I thought I’d try “out east” for a while and see how it sounded.

*** Tim’s uncle Pete Palmer is sheriff!

Art Appreciation: Dustin McNa

Tim and I and our friend Kevin Williams decided to get cultured and appreciated some art last night.  Tim’s assistant Dustin McNa is a talented artist whose work is on display for the month at the Europa Coffee House.

The artist in residence:

{Image:  photo of a white man with short brown hair and a beard sitting in an upholstered chair looking toward the camera.  Above and to his right is a painting perhaps 3 feet high by 2 feet wide of a person standing facing the viewer with his hands held out in front of him as if to show something.  In the background of this large painting are buildings.  In the background of the photo are additional, smaller paintings and other chairs and tables in a coffee shop.}

I wish I had the vocabulary to describe his work but sadly that part of my brain is completely overwhelmed by the parts that think in outline format, answer Jeopardy questions about word origins, and remember to feed the dog.  But I really enjoy Dustin’s work and have purchased one piece that — when the part of my brain that should be in charge of organization gets organized — I plan to hang on my wall.

Dustin explains his work to Kevin:

{Image:  Interior of a coffee shop with table and chairs (some wooden; some upholstered).  In the left side of the photograph, a man (same man as earlier photo - white man with short hair and beard) sits on the arm of a chair looking up toward a painting on the wall. One arm is extended toward the painting as he explains it.  To the left side of the photo is another white man, with a knit cap, glasses and a beard.  He also looks at the painting as he listens.}

More photos from Santa Fe

Taking photos in Santa Fe is like cheating.  You just point the camera out the back door and voila!

{Image: two bare trees, very slender with white bark against a very deep blue sky.}

Disc Golf Henge:

{Image:  snowy field with four small (approximately one-foot-tall) rock formations each in the shape of an inverted "U"}

Fence.

{Image:  fence made of vertical pieces of natural wood of varying heights.  In the bottom half of the photo, the wood slats are backed by a solid piece of wood.  In the top half of the photo, there is nothing behind the vertical slats, and the sun peeks through between two of the slats.}

Fence, HDR.

{Image: fence made of vertical pieces of natural wood of varying heights. In the bottom half of the photo, the wood slats are backed by a solid piece of wood. In the top half of the photo, there is nothing behind the vertical slats, and the sun peeks through between two of the slats.}

Barbed wire, HDR:

{Image:  close up of a photo of a single barb in a strand of barbed wire.  In the background, and out of focus, is the side of an adobe building.}

I couple of friends we met on our walk.

{Image:  A goat peers around the corner of a wood and wire fence.  To his left are three chickens, two black and one white.}

Window.  Almost anything looks good in adobe.  Ask Santa Fe!  I think it’s in the building code!

{Image:  a window in an adobe wall.  The window reflects a very blue sky.  Tree branches enter the photo from the right.}

Water spout:

{Image:  a flat water spout protrudes from an adobe wall with several feet of frozen water suspended off the end.}

The same water spout, an hour later:

{Image:  a flat water spout protrudes from an adobe wall with several feet of frozen water suspended off the end.  The adobe is much darker than the previous photo because of the setting sun.}}

Hubble the Golden Retriever discovers that Rodney has a snack.

{Image:  in the left side of the photo, a man sits at a table working at a laptop computer.   To his right, a golden retriever stares intently at him.  The corner of another laptop shows in the foreground; kitchen appliances are in the background.  The table  has a candle, a water bottle, a card and envelope, a french press with tea and a mug,}

And it wouldn’t be my blog unless I took the opportunity to go just a bit Andy Rooney on your ass.   My rental car was a Prius.  Even after I learned the sequence of button pushing and gear shifting that was necessary to make it go, and adjusted to the fact that it sounded, at every light, like the car had died and I’d need to call a tow truck, there were two more very disconcerting things.

(1)  You don’t need a key to drive the car but you do need a key to unlock it.  This means that when you get in the car, you have to figure out what to do with the key, since it’s not sitting in the ignition.  If I owned a Prius, I would lock the keys in the car at least once per week.

(2) You not only get the general warm, fuzzy, superior feeling of driving a really fuel-efficient car, you get a constant, real-time, animated demonstration of just HOW efficient you’re being:

{Image:  photo of a diagram of a car showing three unnamed parts with arrows going from one to another.  The diagram is labeled "Energy Monitor."  The display also contains the time (3:16 PM) and  the odometer (2837.4 MI).}

This little animated diagram changes as you drive, showing — near as I can tell — which direction the little energy hamsters that power the car are traveling.   The diagram is (a) designed for the driver to monitor the car’s energy situation in real time, and thus incredibly distracting and unsafe; (b) not designed to convey anything to the driver, and thus pretty pointless; or (c) designed solely to show the passenger what a cool, energy-efficient person the driver is.

More from the photo archive

This time, from my Dad’s experiences at the Sebago School and Camp Ironwood, run by Matt and Margaret Werner in St. Louis (school) and Harrison, ME (Ironwood).

From the camp — I just loved these first two:

{Image: black and white photo of a person diving off of a dock into a lake.  The diver's image is reflected in the lake.}

{Image: black and white photo of a person diving into the water, but all we see is the person's legs, perfectly straight, angled from their toes at the center of the photo to the bottom right where their torso disappears off the edge of the photo. To the left are several canoes, and in the background, a boat.}

{Image:  black and white photo, taken from above looking straight down on two people sitting by the side of a stone building.  The person on the right is wearing saddle shoes and has their feet extended in front of them, with a plate of food on their lap.  The person on the left is wearing a sleeveless undershirt and holding a drink  (coffee?) in his left hand.  The photographer's feet on the edge of the building above are visible in the foreground.}

The next few are from a driving trip the school/camp took through the western United States:

{Image:  1940s wood-paneled station wagon parked at the side of the road.  Five teen agers lean against it, one of whom is looking through a lens of some sort; the others facing the camera.}

{Image:  black & white photo of Garden of the Gods, which is a series of rock formations in a high-desert landscape.  A man is in the foreground looking at the scenery.}

{Image: black & white photo of a narrow alley with brick buildings on either side and passageways overhead.}

{Image:  Black & white photo of a small log church with a cross on top.}

{Image:  black and white photo of a rectangular window with a cross silhouetted against the middle.}

{Image: black & white photo of a large bear crossing a road.}

{Image: black & white photo of a large bear resting by the side of a wooded road.}