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.”
My father-in-law Denver Fox celebrates Father’s Day by ordering*
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
All at Fourteen Seventy-Two on South Pearl Street in Denver.
* I had to find a way to include the name of the dish, because I kept reading it “Bananas Foster Wallace.” You too, right?
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.
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.
I think I’m going to order the Crocodile Statue from kmart.com. Hope it’s still on sale!
Most Kmart stores have a Garden Center; the one in Marathon — uniquely — had a 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.
But my favorite feature of this store was the giant ocean mural on the front.
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!
* Edited to correct typos. I originally had “crocodile statute.” Once a law nerd; always a law nerd! (Thanks, Terri!)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Breathtakingly . . . obvious?
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.
Obligatory “Holly Posing Because She Knows Just How Cute She Is” photo:
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.
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:
Uh oh! Better behave myself!***
I arrived home, tired and happy, yesterday afternoon, very grateful to live in a state of overwhelming natural beauty and kick-ass disability advocates.
* 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 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:
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:
Taking photos in Santa Fe is like cheating. You just point the camera out the back door and voila!
Disc Golf Henge:
Barbed wire, HDR:
I couple of friends we met on our walk.
Window. Almost anything looks good in adobe. Ask Santa Fe! I think it’s in the building code!
The same water spout, an hour later:
Hubble the Golden Retriever discovers that Rodney has a snack.
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:
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.