Christmas/Solstice/Festivus/Winter Fun Times 2012

This gallery contains 11 photos.

First off, I just need to say that I wanted to include everyone associated with the nest in this Christmas card of sorts, but the sad truth is that I don’t have pictures of everyone.  I hope you enjoy these … Continue reading

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Zombiepocalypse and the Law (A FAQ Regarding Your Legal Rights and Duties during a Zombie Apocalypse)

(By Daniel B. Peters)

***Disclaimer – this is not to be construed as legal advice, it is only provided to inspire discussion and to give you information and entertainment.  In the event you need legal advice during an actual zombiepocalypse please contact an attorney.  Also, make sure that your attorney is not a zombie.  Avoid being bitten.***

Alright, I know what you’re thinking.  I don’t have time for this.  I should be stockpiling more ammunition and learning how to make a zombie slaying robot out of a lawn mower, two shovels, mentos, diet coke and my I-Pad.  But who wants to survive the zombiepocalypse only to spend the rest of your life in prison?  Or having to sell the property you fought so hard to protect in order to defend a law suit by the family of a zombie that your I-Zombieslayer 2000 chopped up into bits?

There are other sources for information on what to do in case of a Zombie invasion, but the legal aspects are often ignored.  The CDC was off to a good start in its Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse article, but it neglected several important topics, such as do I need the I-Pad2 to build my I-Zombieslayer 2000, or will the original model do, and of course, the legal aspects of the zombie apocalypse.  The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks also has great advice, but likewise fails to include important legal considerations (as far as I know, I haven’t read it, or even skimmed the back cover).

Without further ado, here is the FAQ.

Can I Kill a Zombie (legally speaking that is – you’ll have to figure out the actual mechanics of zombie slaying elsewhere)?

First and foremost, you need to make sure what you have on your hands is actually a zombie.  After the zompocalypse there are going to be a lot of people (and not just the brain-eating, shuffling around undead kind of people) skipping showers and missing out on sleep, and maybe even missing some meals.  Real living, breathing, non-flesh-eating people might smell bad, look ugly and be easily confused for a zombie.

Is “killing” a zombie homicide/murder?  Homicide is the killing of one human being by another.  Just to point out quickly, not all homicide is criminal.  So, if you want to know if killing a zombie is homicide, you need to know if the zombie is a human, and if it is alive.  Now there are two basic theories that address the topic of how zombies are created.  There is the more traditional and mystical zombies rising from the grave theory, and then there is more modern and scientific “outbreak” theory.

Why is this important?  Well, if you’ve got a zombie that’s been dead for awhile, climbs out of a grave and has no heartbeat, it seems pretty clear that the zombie isn’t alive, and is arguably not human.  I think here you don’t have to worry about homicide (or, more to your concern, murder, which is a category of homicide, and a crime).  On the other hand, if you’re dealing with somebody who is alive, but has a nasty, brain altering flu, who happens to be hungry for human flesh, well, I’m not going to stop to check his pulse, so, legally speaking, I’d play it safe and consider these zombies to be alive.  Killing this type of zombie could likely be homicide.

So under the risen from the grave zombie scenario, I think you can get rid of your concern about murder charges after the whole apocalypse mess is over.  In the plague zombie scenario, you have to consider the possibility that just blasting away at zombies could cause you to end up in front of a judge and jury of your surviving peers trying to defend yourself on a murder charge.

Okay, I’m in front of the Judge and Jury Facing Murder Charges – What are My Arguments?

Self-Defense – In most every state you are allowed to defend yourself from an attacker using reasonable force, and you may even use deadly force to protect yourself from imminent and potentially deadly attacks or extreme bodily harm.  I can’t imagine many scenarios where, if you have a zombie charging at you ready to feast on your brains, you wouldn’t be justified in using any means necessary to stop the attack (e.g., a 12 gauge shotgun or that fire axe you remembered to grab on your way home from work).

Necessity – Necessity is a defense that works in many situations and basically says you may cause some lesser harm in order to avoid a greater harm.  For example, in order to avoid being killed in a snow storm while out hiking in the woods, you can break into a cabin to stay warm.  Most places still hold that necessity will never justify the killing of a human being (because you have to be causing a lesser harm than you are avoiding.  i.e., killing another person is not a lesser harm than you, yourself being killed.)  However, the necessity defense may protect you from other, lesser charges, for instance, the crime of desecrating a corpse.  For more discussion on this topic, and reference to a great case about sailors and cannibalism, see this site.

Can I Break Into my Neighbors House (or steal his car, or use his weed whacker) to Get Away From Zombies or Gather Supplies?  What about Taking Twinkies from Convenience Stores?

So here we are, already back to the necessity defense.  In order to avoid being eaten by zombies, you can probably take whatever steps are necessary to survive, short of killing an innocent, living human.  So taking that car, or picking the neighbors lock to hole up in his house is most likely fine.  However, if you steal your neighbors car and leave her surrounded, without transportation to escape from the zombies himself, you could be on the hook for causing her death.

One drawback of the necessity defense is that you may have to reimburse the owners of the property for any damage you cause to their property.  (However, if they’ve been eaten, what are they odds they come after you).

I am a Zombie, can I get in Trouble for Eating People?

Assuming you’re still a human, but are infected with zombie-plague, can you face prosecution for eating people?  This is an important question, because if you are a zombie, you’re really going to want to eat those brains.  First, I would advise you to do everything in your power to avoid eating and/or killing people.  However, you may be able to raise an insanity defense.  Various states use different tests to determine whether someone is insane.  One such test is the “irresistible impulse test,” if you’re in one of the states that use this test, I can’t imagine many people would find that your urge to eat brains was resistible.  I think, under any of the state’s test you would likely be able to make a strong case for an insanity defense.

Also, most crimes require that you have a certain mental state when you do an action.  For instance, in order to steal something, it’s not enough that a pack of gum just falls in your pocket as you leave the store, you have to have the intention of taking the item.  Likewise, if you’re a zombie, it may be that your mental powers are so diminished you don’t have the mental state to commit murder.

What if Looters, Street Gangs, Anarchists or a Bunch of Nuns (or other living human beings) Attack Me or Try to Take My Stuff?

Really, this just goes back to the self-defense and necessity discussions argued above under the “Can I Kill a Zombie” section.  Just remember though, you cannot use lethal force to protect your property (except probably in Texas), unless your life is in imminent danger or you will suffer extreme bodily harm.

My I-Pad, Lawn Mower and Shovel (or other stuff) were Damaged During the Zombie Apocalypse, Who Can I Sue? (Who knew my I-Pad wasn’t Diet Coke ™ Proof?)

First off, look to who caused this whole plague to begin with.  Was it witches? Satan worshipers?  Government scientists? High school kids screwing around in the cemetery trying to creep each other out who happened to stumble across a cursed scroll?  None of this crap would have happened without them.  I’d point my plaintiff’s attorney squarely at them first.

Next, was the I-Pad, lawn mower or shovel still under warranty?  Was it not properly designed to withstand zombie infestation?  Products liability and warranty claims could easily arise here.

Do I Have to Obey the Speed Limit?  Should I Wear My Seat Belt?

Every society has rules, even one falling apart and being nommed on by zombies, and it’s important that we follow them.  What would happen if every time we had a zombie outbreak people resorted to anarchy?  That being said, if you’re being chased by zombies, drive as fast as you want.

Should I Update My (un)Living Will Now?  Will it be Effective if I am Bitten? 

So imagine this:  Zombies everywhere, you and your friends are surrounded.  Oh no, you’ve been bitten!  Your friends don’t know whether they should restrain you and take you with them in hopes of finding a cure, run away and leave you behind, or decapitate you.  A little advanced planning can avoid all that.  Sign an unliving will now to protect yourself in the unlikely event this scenario comes up.  Leave specific instructions on how you want the matter to be handled.

One great idea to let everyone know of your post-bite/pre-zombification wishes is to use the ZomBalert System.

Okay, now imagine this:  You and your friends are surrounded by zombies, your good friend has just been bitten!  What do I do?  That’s easy, she has signed an unliving will, and is wearing a ZomBalert bracelet that instructs me to decapitate her.  But wait!  She’s not a zombie yet.  Most states don’t recognize physician assisted suicide, let alone friend assisted suicide.  Your friend isn’t attacking you yet, so it’s not self-defense.  You don’t want people to call you the next Jack Kavorkian!  This presents a difficult situation, one which I find myself balking at answering.  Leave your friend behind and he’s sure to be eaten and/or turned into a zombie.  Bash in his brains and you may have committed murder.  You’re on your own on this one, legally speaking.

I am the Last Living Human Being on the Planet Earth, What Should I Do? 

Don’t panic.  You can do whatever you want, elect yourself president, write some legislation that favors your political party.  Start a cloning program or invent a cure for zombification.  Avoid being eaten by zombies, and have a great day!

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Down with pages of yellow!

Do you know what we don’t have time for?  Old fashioned hard copy paper phonebooks.

It seems that every few months another stack of phonebooks arrives on my doorstep.  Usually I leave them sitting there to serve as a warning to other phonebooks that might wish to invade my home.  Unfortunately, this tactic seldom works, the phonebooks keep coming, and eventually I have to toss them in the recycling bin so that visitors don’t think I’m building a fort out of them.

If I need to look up a phone number there are many excellent and easy to find resources on the internet that will assist you – online phonebooks, “the Google,” email, Facebook, etc.  The only time I needed to use a physical phonebook in the last several years is when my internet went down and I needed to find the phone number of my internet service provider.  For a few brief moments I was glad to have a phonebook.  But then I could not find Broadstripe (who? – my ISP) anywhere in the phonebook.  Nowhere.  Not under television, cable, internet, not in the yellow pages, the blue pages, the white pages, the mauve pages or the goldenrod pages.  Maybe Broadstripe isn’t the biggest cable/internet provider in Seattle, but they serve at least several square blocks surrounding my house, so they should be in the book.  It was at this point that I decided phonebooks, aside from being responsible for the destruction of countless trees and other environmental ravages, were also completely worthless.

Finally, today, I came across this article and gained the upper hand in the war against phonebooks.  I have removed myself from the delivery list of 6 different phonebooks (I’m not exaggerating or making that number up, there were really 6 phonebooks listed as delivering to my address).  So do yourself a favor and stop the senseless waste and annoying clutter by going here: http://ww.seattle.gov/stopphonebooks, and help me take a bite out of the yellowpages!

– Dan via Sara

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We Once Had Time For This

Much thanks goes to Kristina, for capturing this moment.

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Gift and receipt

From my Facebook:

Thanks to Emily Birchman, who knitted me a stylish wool cap for a secret Santa-style gift exchange! The snowstorm forced me to ditch my car on Capitol Hill last night, so its receipt just hours earlier was uncannily well-timed.

Also, someone requested I post here a copy of the gift I made for the exchange — a crossword for Lizzie.

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Thank You for Not Letting Us Crash

I’m halfway between Hawaii and Seattle, at 34,000 ft., in a Boeing 737-800, typing on my flashy new Android G2 phone’s keyboard; my grandmother doesn’t understand how I can possibly type on and read from a device so tiny, but actually it’s quite easy to use.  I have also just been informed we’re about to fly into a storm and that the pilot reckons there will be “severe turbulence.”  A few things with that.

Before leaving, I swear I saw a nice little gap in the red blob in the turbulence map (red, of course, denotes “severe” turbulence) on www.turbulenceforecast.com that the pilots would be able to neatly squeeze through with room to spare.  Severe turbulence I have not encountered before, at least as confirmed by the flight crew.  And since severe turbulence means you’re definitely going to die, this seems worthy of a blog post, if only for morose and melodramatic reasons, and also prospective, posthumous viral entertainment purposes.  And, the only music on my phone is Mumford and Sons, which is more conducive to emphatic jumping at an organic blueberry farm mountain bike festival concert at dusk, not synthesizing my entire life story in a way that both justifies and honors my atheistic proclivities while at the same time honoring the potential for other unknowable ontologies in a horrifying vertiginous death spiral.  So: writing it is!

Also, spoiler alert, but I’ve survived, if you’re reading this.  Because even in the unlikely situation that they hire professional divers to locate and float the plane and then find my phone and then float it to the surface, and then realized I had been in fact writing this as a mere Gmail “draft,” they still wouldn’t know where to “post” it, since Facebook and Google require federal subpoenas to release user data, and even then, what would they do with it?  This is terrible logic really, but basically what I’m trying to say is that I am alive. Continue reading

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2010 – A Eulogy

Where I rang in the New Year
The pubs I spent New Years Eve at in beautiful Greasbrough: 1. The Crown, 2. The Ship, 3. The Yellow Lion (where I rang it in). A much smaller affair than I had planned/boasted, but a great time all the same

The fast and fabulous transition I have taken from 2010 to 2011 has given me pause to evaluate all that has happened to and for me in the past year ([un]surprisingly). My travels around England have almost been travels around myself, as I’ve had chance to get back to all that which I left behind in October 2008. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable and edifying process, and as such I feel moved to share it with those that care to listen, that it might offer a chance to reflect on their own traverse across life in 2010.

For me, 2010 began much as 2009 had, with an insufferable headache and a few largely benign regrets. Some of which required reparations, others merely mental strength. I won’t bore you with an exhaustive blow by blow of all the things that have happened to me, but I can hopefully skim over some of the highlights in order to illustrate how important a year this was to me.

On January 4th this year, I decided that I’d take a walk across London from Waterloo station to Euston to gather my thoughts and slow down what had really been a race against time up to that point. I set off on New Years eve to West Yorkshire, and in what can only be described as a whistle-stop tour, I traversed the greater span of the country in order to see old friends and re-visit old haunts (major kudos to the british rail system, you were the best supporting actor of this picture). Such as would take me on my return leg from London to ManchesterIt was a smashing success, and as I emerged from Waterloo station that Tuesday and gazed upon that famous sunset, I was in paradise. It didn’t matter that the actual setting sun was obscured behind the predictable grey of a British January day, an enormous feeling of wellbeing flowed over me.

HPAs I crossed that dirty old river via the Westminster bridge I mused upon what had made my 2010. A year down at the new job, more dating than ever before, new and exciting friendships, the opportunity for funs that this afforded me, an automobile accident parlayed into a triumphant arrival in Capitol Hill and more gigs, happy hours, communal meals, parties and all around joy than any one man should legally be allowed.

I stood in the shadow of Big Ben as it tolled the hour and I knew things were disgustingly good. I live where I’m supposed be, I am finding and taking the opportunities I should be. Could 2010 have been better? Possibly. But then I’d probably feel far too guilty about it.

So tonight I raise my glass to you, old friends and new. I hope we’ll have a chance to do so in person many more times before this whole thing is through. And perhaps at a greater frequency than once every two years, regardless of where we all end up.

I also got to watch Back to the Future on New Years day……that movie flippin’ ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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