Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finally! CVC 21202(a) Appeal Successful; Charges Reversed and Dismissed

It only took 15 months, but last Friday the Appellate Division of the San Diego Superior Court ruled in my favor to overturn and dismiss the “Fail to ride to the right” charges from March 2009 (full story here). From the court order:

The judgment is reversed and the charges are dismissed in the interests of justice. (People v. Kriss (1979) 96 Cal.App.3d 913.) As the People concede, the trial court erred in interpreting Vehicle Code section 21202 as requiring Appellant to ride his bicycle to the right of traffic under the conditions presented here.
It’s interesting to note that the appellate judges did not rule on lack of evidence that my speed was less than the normal speed of traffic (the City Attorney’s concession), but instead said that the trial court “erred in interpreting” the CVC 21202. I think they must have agreed on more points than just the speed argument!

I still haven’t been refunded my $165 fine. Hopefully I’ll get it in less than 15 months.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ride Report: Kitchen Creek 200K

WARNING: This entry is EXTREMELY wordy!

As of Saturday at 7:38 pm, I can officially call myself a Randonneur. That was the time that I made the long awaited left turn into Major’s Coffee Shop, and finished the most painful, disgustingly difficult, and rewarding physical endeavor I have attempted thus far; The San Diego Randonneurs’ Kitchen Creek 200K brevet.

My ride ended just a few moments before of the ride’s final finisher. I my time of 12 hours 38 minutes was the second slowest of the day, which sounds pretty shoddy, except that nine out of the original 25 riders didn’t finish. In that light, I’m pretty happy with my time. Amazingly, I still had 52 minutes before the clock officially ran out!

I learned an awful lot on this ride, and experienced numerous ups and downs. At the end, my odometer read 126 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation gain. My previous longest ride (about 4 weeks previous) was a 92 mile ride with about 5,000 feet of climbing. What a difference the climbing makes! I did not have a solid appreciation for the amount of elevation gain I would face, and I certainly didn’t understand how my body would react to the effort.

I arrived at Major’s at 6:30am, and prepared for the ride. I signed in, received my brevet card, and awaited the riders’ meeting. A wide variety of bicycles started the day. Several folks rode carbon racing bikes (Specialized was the most prevalent brand). I counted a couple of Rivendells, a beautiful Boulder Bicycles Brevet model, a few Schwinns (one was a single speed!), and even a recumbent. My friend Esteban didn’t arrive until just before the heard departed, so I didn’t wait around to start the ride with his group. Instead I just headed up the road (which was pretty steep leaving Pine Valley) and was on my way.

The first 36 miles was a pretty quick series of ups and downs. I was feeling good, and trying to pace myself, knowing I had a long way to go, and a huge climb ahead of me. I found myself riding with Kelly and Dave, a couple of experienced randonneurs, who were moving at a good clip. Kelly was riding the single speed Schwinn Madison, and was maintaining a great pace. Turns out he’d ridden to Yuma and back the weekend previous, and was hit by a car only 3 days before this ride. And still he was riding powerfully. We got to chatting a bit, as the miles ticked by, and he asked me a question that bounced around in my brain for the rest of the day; “You’re not going out to hard are you?” I said, “I hope not,” and immediately became concerned that I was. This guy obviously had years of experience, and something told me he knew an overzealous newbie when he saw one.

Determined to pace myself, I let Kelly and Dave slip away on the final climb before the control in Jacumba. I took it easy, and arrived maybe a minute behind. I felt like I had a lot left, but was a bit worried about the effort I had already put into those first 36 miles. I still had 90 miles to go, including the 12 mile, 3,000 foot accent of Mt. Laguna. I took my time in Jacumba, filled up on water, bought an apple juice, and headed back out onto the rapidly warming road.

Having been a bit slow at the control, I allowed several folks to catch up to my quick start, and eventually met up with a gentleman named Kevin on the steep climb out of Jacumba. We rode along and chatted for a couple of miles when I realized my rear tire was getting soft. I decided to stop and put some more air in the tire, hoping to make it to some shade before having to replace the tube. Kevin went on ahead, and I stopped on the sun-drenched roadside to realize I had no idea how to operate my new pump. Idiotic, I know. Luckily, Jack and Kathy, on their tandem, were not far behind, and stopped to help. Jack had a great pump and got my tire up to 90 lbs. I was extremely grateful for their help, as they allowed me to get out of that miserably hot valley.

I continued on, climbing slowly up to Kitchen Creek Road, and decided eventually that I had to stop and fix the flat. I pulled over outside of Boulevard, a “town” consisting, more-or-less, of a plywood Mexican restaurant and a post office, where I found an abandoned building with a shady porch, and a rail at the perfect height for hanging my bike. While sitting there, I enjoyed a banana and almond butter sandwich, and watched a half dozen or so riders pass by on their way up the hill. I spent probably 15 minutes there fixing the flat, and figuring out how to work my pump. I managed to get about 50 lbs into the tire, but I was very worried because I was unable to find the cause of the leak. But I needed to get back on the road. I left my porch just as William was riding past on his recumbent. I’d never met him before, but knew of William from the forum. We exchanged hellos, and I was on my way out of the dessert.

The next 12 miles went fairly smoothly. My tire pressure seemed to be holding, and I was making good time. I was trying to conserve as much energy as possible for the daunting climb that lay ahead. I turned off of Old Hwy 80 onto Kitchen Creek Road and found a group of folks huddled around a red SUV under I-8. One of the many great volunteers, Will, was set up there with Gatorade, Water, apples, Ice, and V-8. He also had a floor pump, which I thought very fortunate. I topped my rear tire off at 90 lbs, refilled my water bottles, ate some food, and thought myself ready for the obstacle ahead- Mt. Laguna.

Kitchen Creek road doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a horrendous assent. From the very beginning the incline is intense, and the heat was beginning to be unbearable. The road starts going straight up, and doesn’t seem to stop for 12 miles. Sure, there are short sections where the asphalt is forced to dip between two hills, but there is no relief from the torturous climbing and unrelenting sun. By my admittedly hazy recollection, there was no shade for probably 8 miles or so, just black pavement and white rocks marking the climb, punctuated by views that would be stunning if you weren’t suffering from heat stroke induced tunnel vision.

A group of riders all started the climb more-or-less together after the watering station under the 8, and slowly made their way up the slope. My lowest gear seemed to not be low enough, and I was forced to go a bit faster than I would have liked just to keep the wheels turning. I ended up passing several folks in the first mile or two, which I knew would not bode well for me towards the top. So it was fitting that when I was already a bit over-geared, and hot, and intimidated by the mountain in front of me, I realized my rear tire was losing air again. It got softer and softer until I had to stop and pump it up. Admittedly, I didn’t mind the break, but I was worried about having to do this several times on my way up the climb. There didn’t appear to be any decent place to stop and fix the problem, and I was getting crampy, and coming to the realization that my water supply was not going to last to the top. About 5 miles into the assent I decided I couldn’t continue on a flat tire, so I found a large rock, took off my jersey and under layer, and got to fixing the tire.

This time I knew I had to figure out what was causing the flat, as I was down to my last tube. Thankfully, I always align the tire sidewall marking with the valve stem, so when I was finally able to detect the very small puncture in the tube, I was able to quickly localize the suspect area of the tire. Sure enough, after a bit of searching in the blinding sun, I discovered a very tiny shard of glass imbedded in the tread. It was so small that it hadn’t re-punctured the tube until I had topped off the pressure at the water station, just before starting the climb. I removed the glass, made sure there were no more nasty spurs, and put the bike back together.

By the time I got back to climbing I had been passed by pretty much every other rider. The heat was unrelenting, and I took off my helmet to help cool myself. The slight tailwind, which would have been welcome, was just slight enough that when pedaling at 6 mph the relative wind dropped to zero. After unsuccessfully trying to maintain my cadence I decided to walk whenever I couldn’t keep my speed above 5mph. I figured that walking allowed the use of different muscles, relieved some stress from my feet, and lowered my heart rate while losing little time. The fact that I was wearing soccer shoes (Adidas Sambas) made walking comfortable and easy. It would have been impossible in cleated cycling shoes. Another rider, Juan, was having similar problems, and he and I leap-frogged each other several times on our way up the mountain, a trend that would continue throughout the remainder of the ride.

Kitchen Creek Road would not end. I finally made it to tree level, and was out of water, and out of hope. I was exhausted. I was cramping badly. I was very worried about heat stress, but I knew that I was still ok, as I was sweating profusely. As long as you’re sweating, you’re ok, I figure! For the first, but not last, time that day I pulled over into the woods and laid down in the weeds and dirt. I stared up at the blue sky, and the trees, and enjoyed the slight breeze, and wondered if I would be able to actually make it all the way up to the Laguna control. I still had about 4 miles to go, and no water. I didn’t want to go back down Kitchen Creek, but I didn’t know if I could continue. I just lay there and relaxed. After deciding that I wasn’t going to die in the near future, I got back on the bike and continued.

As luck would have it, soon after starting back up, I came across some campers. They were extremely generous and gave me a bottle of cold water and allowed me to fill my bottles. I drank the entire bottle of cold water right there, thanked them profusely, and headed up the mountain with renewed confidence. I now knew I would make it to the control.

As I rode up to the Laguna Lodge, Esteban and his riding partners were heading back down Sunrise Highway, apparently done for the day. In retrospect, that would have been the intelligent decision for me to have made as well. Somehow, I convinced myself that the hard part was behind me, and the rest of this ride would be easy-breezy. I checked into the control only 8 minutes before it was supposed to close. I had no idea I was so close to being disqualified! I’d never looked at a clock, or at the time constraint. I was focused solely on getting up that damn mountain.

The volunteer at Laguna, Julie, had a great stock of Coke, ice, water, cookies, and apples. I ate and drank and sat in the shade. I spent half an hour on the cool porch, chatting with other riders, and enjoying the fact that I’d survived. I’d finished 72 miles of the ride, meaning I “only” had 53 miles or so left, and I convinced myself that, except for a little climb out of Julian, it was all downhill. I’m amazed by the tricks the human mind will play on itself.

The 24 miles to Wynola, just outside of Julian, went by pretty quickly. It was mostly downhill, with bits of steep climbing mixed in, just to remind me I was stupid for continuing. I made a wrong turn outside of Julian, and had to back-track a couple miles, uphill, to find my way to the Red Barn in Wynola. I left Laguna ahead of Juan, and Jack and Kathy’s tandem, but arrived in Wynola just behind them. I was spent. I was hungry, but no food was edible. I was sore, and my leg cramping was getting pretty tough to deal with on the climbs. My lower back was killing me, and my left hand was cramping. All-in-all, I was a mess. But I knew that there were only 30 miles, much of which was downhill, until I could call myself a randonneur.

Greg, volunteering at the Wynola control, gave me some electrolyte pills and a carb/electrolyte drink mix. The drink was incredible and the pills were incredibly helpful. I am convinced that without Greg’s help I would never have been able to will my way back to Pine Valley.

The last 30 miles were the most beautiful (Lake Cuyamaca is stunning!) and the most painful of the entire ride. My seat was very sore, my back ached beyond belief, and my legs were done. And the hills kept on being there! I took another break on the side of the road when I just couldn’t stand sitting on the bike another second. I cussed out loud multiple times when the pain became nearly unbearable. But I knew it was almost over. Just outside of Julian, as the road turned up, I put on my iPod. I never listen to music while riding and have been missing out. The music really lifted my spirits, and kept my focus off of the odometer. I watched deer bounding across the road and around the glens surrounding the lake. I watched the shadows creep across the valley as the sun began to set, and enjoyed the cooling dusk. My body was on its last thread, but my mind and spirits were at their peak.

After an exhilarating decent, the last small effort into Pine Valley seemed nearly flat. I cruised along, and passed Juan, the last rider on the road, about 5 miles before the finish. I was surprised when Major’s Coffee Shop appeared ahead on the left, and was overwhelmed with satisfaction. I don’t really know how I managed to finish. Luck, certainly. Stupidity also. I received some amazing support from the volunteers, and, besides the flat tire, had no issues with my bicycle. I pulled into Major’s and Greg signed my card and gave me a Coke. I completed the ride in 12 hours, 38 minutes – 52 minutes ahead of the requirement.

God bless you if you’ve actually read this entire thing. I know it’s way to long, and full of redundant sentences and nonsense. This is my first real ride report, so I just wanted to get everything out before the memory faded. I’ll post some lessons learned in the very near future. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, April 19, 2010

T.H.E.Y. is Us

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead, American Cultural Anthropologist

Now that the cable has been off for a couple of months, I've watched about a dozen documentaries via NetFlix. The Nintendo Wii, as of last week, allows us to stream any "Watch Instantly" NetFlix selections directly to our TV, which is fantastic (I had been watching on my 14" laptop, so the 42" is a nice change). Anyway, I've been really struck by a common theme prevalent in the majority of these films.

I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent really quick: Is your film properly labeled a "documentary" if your thesis is predefined and you're just trying to argue a point? I think of a documentary as a film that explores an issue, preferably without bias, and demonstrates the findings in a cinematic format. I think of films that are trying their best to prove/preach something to me as "propaganda." But I digress. . .

I'll get back to the Propaganda discussion on a later date.

So I'm watching a variety of films, on subjects ranging from National Debt to Personal Debt to Wal*Mart's Destruction of the American Way-Of-Life, to Global Warming, to Nutrition, etc, etc. What strikes me most about the common message in all of these films is the real lack of a common message! Each film places the blame for one of the World's problems on some Big Corporation, some Intangible Entity (The Credit Card Companies, The Fast Food Chains, Wal*Mart, Congress, etc). The underlying idea seems to be, If only we could get rid of [insert evil international conglomerate here] we'd all be able to live happy, healthy, prosperous lives!

There is an immense danger in this way of thinking. Actually, "immense danger" is kind of putting it lightly. There is an inherent failure in this method of assessing a problem's root cause. By the logic presented in most activist "documentaries," the problem lies with these institutions and their immense power. The failure of this ideology is in assessing the root of their power. Wal*Mart is not, in and of itself, a powerful entity. Neither is MasterCard, or Monsanto, or even Congress. All of these organizations gain their power by the actions, votes, and purchasing habits of the millions of Americans who support them - knowingly or not. Wal*Mart is nothing if people stop shopping there! CitiBank credit cards cannot ruin your life if you don't use them! If people demand electric cars, companies will create them! If we refuse to purchase hormone injected, unethically fed and raised food Monsanto will be out of business!

Obviously I'm being a bit simplistic. It is extremely difficult to avoid Monsanto corn or Exxon oil given our current supply system. But it is possible. Rather than bitch and complain about all these corporate giants ruining our lives, we should look to take responsibility for our choices, for our purchases, and for our future. I can't stand Wal*Mart and what it represents, so I never shop there! It isn't that hard. I, like every other American, have been the recipient of an inordinate number of credit card offers and "pre-approvals." I throw them away. I am not powerless to the machine. I do not have to be in debt to HSBC just because they sent me an application.

There are lots of problems in our culture and in our world. I strongly dislike many of the practices of big businesses in our country and around the globe, and an awful lot of what's wrong is directly attributable to those entities. But the majority of those entities are not in-and-of-themselves powerful (there are exceptions, I'm sure). The majority of the institutions that are causing real harm, or are perpetuating real harm, are exercising authority founded upon the millions of individual decisions made by millions of Americans each and every day.

The real failure of the "Blame the Powers-that-Be" way of thinking is in deriving any type of solution. When CitiBank is the problem, how do you fix it? Legal action? Laws? How long do those take to implement? Banks have better lawyers than you or I!
However, if each of us, as individuals, are responsible for our own decisions, and the ramification of those decisions, then taking action to correct our collective issues becomes much easier. Only by understanding that the individual is responsible for changing the collective can real change ever happen.

Maybe at some point I'll do a bit of a review of the specific films I've seen lately, and my evaluation of where on the Blame The Man vs. Blame Ourselves scale the film maker lies.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bike Commuting as a “Life Style Choice”

A friend said something the other day that really caused me to take pause.  She said that my bike commuting was a Life Style choice, and she was really glad that I enjoyed it and got great benefit from it, but that it isn’t the choice for everyone.

This really opened my eyes to how I’m viewed by my family and co-workers.  Am I some guy who’s made a fairly radical “Life Style Choice” by getting to and from work on a bicycle?  That’s certainly not how I see it, but the more I think about it, the more I see her point. 

It’s customary that whenever someone is transferred from my office, we have a party where some small tokens or gag-gifts are exchanged.  Without fail, I always receive some sort of bicycle related thing (reflective gear, a bell, etc).  It annoys me, because cycling is just how I get to work, and a small part of how I spend my weekends.  I also love baseball, books, soccer, beer, engineering, etc.  I don’t wear spandex or cycling shoes

But is my assessment accurate?  Am I portraying to the world the person I am, or am I portraying my mode of transport?  I do spend an awful lot of time reading cycling related content.  I spend a lot of my disposable income on bicycle parts and expenses.  And I show up at work everyday slightly sweaty carrying a pannier.

What am I doing “wrong” that my friends, family, and co-workers aren’t seeing the complete me, but instead are focusing on the part of me that enjoys and utilizes cycling?  Is it my behavior, or is their view of me tinted by their lifestyle choices and prejudices?  I don’t want to be “that bike guy.”  I want to be an example of how easy it is to incorporate cycling into a completely normal life.  Clearly, I’m failing in that pursuit. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just what the Court ordered?

If you've spent any time in traffic court, or have acquaintances who have, you are probably aware that the vast majority of cases are settled by the driver accepting a sentence to Defensive Driving School, or some other form of Driver Education. They have to pay for the class, but usually get a break in their fine, and fewer points are deducted from their license. So the driver wins, and the community wins in that a bad driver is now being exposed to education (I say "bad driver" because they did something that warranted a ticket, so they can't be a perfect driver, right?). There's another entity that wins in this scenario also: The Driver Education company. They have a court-mandated steady supply of customers, they can charge pretty much whatever they want for the class, and they are able to educate drivers.

So why doesn't this happen with cyclists?

It does in a few places around the country. There's even a model here in California. Santa Cruz County, on the north shore of Monterrey Bay, has a cyclist education program that offending cyclists can be ordered to in lieu of paying a fine in traffic court.

There are so many benefits to a system like this, both obvious and subtle, that I probably can't even think of them all. First, the obvious, and already mentioned:

-Cyclists who need bicycle safety training are ordered to get it!

-The organization that gives the training has a steady supply of students.

And the not so obvious. . .

-The organization that gives the training will, indirectly, be training the police and the courts about proper and safe cycling!

-Cycling advocacy and education becomes a real and accepted entity within the city government. No longer working from the outside, but sitting at the table with decision makers.

-The groundwork is set for positive police/cyclist interaction. Police can pull over cyclists and know that they are actually helping them, rather than giving them a hugely expensive ticket for a seemingly minor infraction.

-Cycling is legitimized in the minds of police and courts (after all, there's a county/city supported education program).

There's probably more benefits that I can't think of or articulate right now. This is an idea worth pursuing. The infrastructure is there (police, education system, courts, etc). Now, how do we get them all on the same page? San Diego wouldn't be the first place to do this, so it can't be that hard!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Accepting Choice

I've been fairly negligent in keeping up with this blog. I think a large part of my hesitance to post is that I feel like it will take an hour to type what I want to say. So I'm going to try just posting small bits, rather than entire essays. I'm going to imagine that most of those small bits will turn into much longer pieces, but we'll see. So short and sweet.

Today's topic: Accepting Choice

I watch Suze Orman every Saturday night. She's a financial advisor on CNBC. I won't get into why I enjoy her show so much, but one of her guiding principles is that a person must first take responsibility for their choices before they will be able to overcome their current situation. She forces people to understand that their current financial situation is a result of choices that they made for themselves. Suze doesn't allow people to hide behind the curtain of victimization. She preaches that to overcome your problems you must accept responsibility for the problem. It's a simple message, but really presents a paradigm shift for a lot of her callers.

My belief is that Suze's principle carries over into every aspect of life. Until we accept responsibility for our daily choices we cannot understand or change, or understand how to change, our existence. And once we've accepted responsibility for our choices we become pushed to either change our behavior or be content with the outcome.

I usually ride my bicycle to work. In an average week I ride the 12 miles round trip 4 times. I usually drive once a week. I clearly understand, on that day I choose to drive, that driving is a choice that I have made, and the consequences are much less frustrating. I find that being stuck in traffic is not nearly as irritating as it used to be. After all, I knew that traffic was a probability, and I chose to participate. I may get annoyed at the lack of parking when I get to work, but then I remind myself that I chose to drive, and am getting some benefits from the decision, so I need to stop worrying about having to walk a block or two to the office.

The point is that when I view driving as a choice, the annoying things are a lot less annoying, and the bad things are trade offs I'm willing to accept. I take full responsibility for the emissions I expel on that day. I sit in traffic and enjoy the chance to listen to the radio. But mostly I regret having chosen to drive and wish I was on my bicycle.

If we all viewed our day-to-day as a series of choices, and we choose to be responsible for or content with the outcome of those decisions, imagine how our lives could change! Diet, finances, transportation, health, exercise, education, etc. We make choices every day that define our priorities and yet constantly try to push the blame off on some other entity (fast food industry, politicians, infrastructure, work, etc).

If you CHOOSE to drive your car, and it IS a choice, then don't complain about traffic, lack of parking, gas prices, etc. After all, your choices, and the choices of all your fellow Americans, are the cause.

See, that's the problem: I sit down to write a paragraph and I type 500 words.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lessons Learned from Fighting a Wrongful CVC 21202(a) Citation

In March 2009 I was cited for violating CVC 21202(a). The Police Officer understood that code as mandating that bicycles always operate as far to the right as possible. You can read the Court Transcripts, My Appellant’s Opening Brief, and the City Attorney's Respondent’s Brief. I was found GUILTY in court, but was able to convince the City Attorney that I was not in violation, and they agreed that the trial decision should be overturned. It may be several more months before the Appellate Judges actually issue a decision, but with the City Attorney’s endorsement, they will overturn the traffic court decision.

The following is a list of things I wish I had known or wish I had done differently in dealing with this entire situation. Perhaps you can learn from my experiance:

1) Make sure you know the vehicle code pertaining to bicycles, verbatim, and don’t violate it. If you aren’t operating in conjunction with the law, you don’t have a leg to stand on and you make all cyclists look bad.

2) If you are pulled over, and it is apparent that the law enforcement officer does not understand the law, do your best to not argue the point. Road-side “educating” will, most likely, not end in a handshake and a heartfelt “take care.” It will end in a ticket. Avoid the ticket and ensuing court battle by keeping your mouth shut, taking the “lesson” the officer is teaching you, and moving on. Make sure you get the officer’s name for the next step. . .

3) Correct improper law enforcement by contacting the officer’s superior after the incident. This gives you a chance to review the pertaining section of the vehicle code to ensure you are 100% correct, gather your thoughts and your argument, and present both in a much more clear and less emotional manner. You are calling the superior because you are concerned for cyclists’ safety and police misunderstanding, not as a personal vendetta.

4) Contact your City Council member and inform them that their efforts to educate law enforcement are inadequate.

5) If you do find yourself with an unjust citation you have 3 options:
1. Pay the fine
2. Contest the citation via mail-in argument. This gives you a good opportunity to write out a well-argued position, and really remove emotion from the discussion.
3. Take the matter to court. Be aware that going to traffic court requires a visit to the courthouse prior to the actual trial, as you will have to appear before a judge to enter your Not Guilty plea, and set a date for the actual trial.

****6) If you have decided to take the matter to trial, arrive PREPARED! Contact the SDCBC and attain expert witness (certified cycling safety instructor) to testify on your behalf. Do not assume that facts and logic will prevail. Assume, rather, that you are responsible for proving not only that you weren’t violating the vehicle code, but are responsible for showing why the vehicle code was written the way it is. You have to assume that the judge and police officer are anti-bicycle and don’t like bicycles in the traffic lanes. You have to prove not only that you are allowed in the lane, but WHY you are allowed in the lane. Bring cycling safety instructions. Bring expert witnesses. Be Prepared!****

7) If you are found in violation in court, contact SDCBC and appeal! The appeals process is not simple, but it isn’t impossible to navigate on your own. Legal assistance would be very helpful during the process. It can be time consuming, confusing, and difficult, but the results may prove well worth the effort; not just for you personally, but for all cyclists in California.

8) Contact the San Diego City Council and tell them what you’ve been through because of their inability to educate law enforcement.

PLEASE feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how to proceed in any situation. I’m not an expert, but I’ve been through the whole process and can certainly lend a hand or give advice on how to proceed. I am not a lawyer, just a guy who’s been through the ringer on this one. Avoid my pain.