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Friday, October 14, 2011

Back to Blogging!

It's been a long time since I've posted an update.  It's not that I haven't been active: Check out my facebook page, find me on LinkedIn, read my tweets, etc. etc.  If you're closer to me, you've emailed, called, texted, instant messaged or connected through gchat or skype.

Doesn't that underscore the amount of activity we are now responsible for?  Whew!  It is a good explanation for why we never seem to have enough time in a day to complete a to-do list.

I remember the days when I would eagerly await the mail.  I was always an avid letter writer who, at any given time, worked on a draft to someone in my head.  At the next opportunity, I wrote it down and sent it out.  I kept track of letters and waited for the responses.  The ones to Korea would take longer but the ones to Massachusetts could respond within a week!  

Eventually, the mail truck rumbled to the end of the driveway and it was like the lottery--sometimes a reply appeared, sometimes not.  

Fast forward to today: It is entirely possible to have 200 messages awaiting a response.  Business email messages demand answers and clients need feedback.  Bills, invoices, complaints, praise, you name it, it's in there.  Even if there is some spam or marketing, you still have to sift through those items to get to what you need.  Can you imagine 200 pieces of mail in your mailbox?

So now, in place of those one or two reminders your brain carried around, we now carry the uneasy feeling of having batches and batches of unread messages.  Or updates or blog posts or unfinished chats . . .. 

It's really amazing.  Of course, it is draining and time consuming and incredibly distracting but also amazing.  We can communicate instantly with someone in Korea!  Sharing information has never been easier as we all forward links to interesting articles or broadcasts.  We send whatever crosses our minds as they occur.  Gone are the days of drafting long letters and in their place we send rounds and rounds of paragraphs or sentences.

And it has all changed within such a short period of time.  Scientists have only begun research on how we humans have adjusted, if we have at all.  

In the meantime, there's a nice social contract out there that recognizes this new chapter in our human experiment.  Generally, it seems most everyone agrees that the methods of communication are more art than science.  Like art, we respect other people's methods and, most importantly, different speeds.  It is how, if we message someone respectable and they do not reply right away, we ascribe a delay to a robust schedule and not an inherent flaw like laziness.  (Although, the busy probably do deserve a few lazy days.)
Thank goodness, right?  Otherwise, we'd all end up raving maniacs anxiously awaiting  responses and overwhelmed by the pressure to respond instantly. 

It is immensely comforting to think that, while we utilize hard edged technology to deliver our messages, we exercise the gentleness of our squishy humanity to manage it. 
I'm going to rely on that grace to apologize for the delay in posting and promise to do so more frequently in the future.  

Thank you!  :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Volunteering, Inspiration, Community . . ..

One of the most compelling reasons to participate in a community organization is the perspective it provides.  Recently, I volunteered to write a short article on Judge Sakuma, who passed away in late January.  

Before this assignment, I'd never heard of Judge Sakuma. How that was possible, I do not know!  His inspiring life story reads like an action drama movie.  
Mamoru Sakuma was the first Japanese American to be named to the  Sacramento County bench.  It all started in 1918, when Judge Sakuma was born in Oroville, a city 70 miles north of Sacramento.  His parents were first generation Japanese immigrants who ran a small business in the neighborhood.  
Judge Sakuma attended UC Berkeley and graduated with a degree in political science.  He was accepted to study law at UC Hastings.  I remember not loving my first year of law school but I'd do it five times over rather than have it interrupted by a war and have my family interned
Incredibly, Judge Sakuma left law school while the government relocated his family to Tule Lake at the California-Oregon border.  If you've ever moved, you know how inconvenient and unappealing it is.   Imagine being forced to move and not knowing when you'd return or to what.  
Instead of moping about missing Criminal Procedure with his class, he enlisted with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Asian American unit that earned the distinction of becoming the most decorated military unit in U.S. history.  
Then, he returned from service, went back to UC Hastings and earned his JD in 1949.
It's as if he wanted to be my hero by passing the bar and then opening his own practice!  In 1950, he opened an office in Sacramento as a litigator whose practice included civil and criminal matters.
Governor Pat Brown appointed Judge Sakuma to Municipal Court in 1963.  The next year, he was elected to serve on the Superior Court.  Twenty one years later, in 1984, he retired from the bench and then . . . returned to private practice for the following 20 years. 

By the time he retired in 2005,  he totaled more than 400 trials in state and federal courtrooms and argued before both the California and U.S. supreme courts.

The last line of my article reads: "Judge Sakuma’s professional and personal life decisions challenged anti-Japanese sentiments and, ultimately, his contributions paved the way to better the legal and social climate we enjoy today."  Not many people have the opportunity to make such a large contribution to history.

Researching his life was uplifting.  As you can see from my remarks, my imagination connected with the details of his life.  That's the beauty of remembering history and the giants that paved the way for us.  We see all the accomplishments framed by hardship compelling us to keep going too.

And the inspiration would not stop!  Civil Rights attorney Dale Minami, Judge Hom and the State Bar's own Ruthe Ashley graciously contributed to the article, heartening readers by representing the strength that has developed since Judge Sakuma's early days.

He passed away this year on January 29, 2011.  At 92, he left a legacy of distinguished service and was, by all accounts, gracious and amiable as well.

Volunteering seems like extra "work" at times but believe me, sometimes you receive much more in return.  

The short biography was written for AABA's January/February issue: http://www.aaba-bay.com/aaba/docs/AABA-0111.pdf.  Thanks to Dale Minami for the suggestion!