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Why Unlock the Technology?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

     Years ago when you checked into a motel, the front desk would hand you a key. An actual physical metal key. Then you would proceed to the room and insert the key and unlock it. It felt good. It was what everyone knew.

     The downside to the key system was that guests regularly left the motel with the metal key in their pocket. Each time that would happen, the motel would call the locksmith to change the lock. It was costly and slowed down the check-in process.

     Then the electronic key system was invented and marketed. The motel could now change locks right at the front desk. The key expense was diminished.  No one was leaving with keys unless it was the skinny economical electronic key. In fact, the motel could even place ads on these keys, such as restaurant hours or discounts on their food. It was sure to take over all motels.

     All motels should have immediately converted to the electronic key system but not all did. Motel owners did not want to expend the money or experience the down time of installing all those electronic key systems for each door. Instead, many refused the new technology. Then, guests started complaining about the old key systems and finally the electronic systems were implemented.

     Now, Starwood Preferred has announced that their chain of restaurants is adding a new feature. You don’t need to check in at the front desk nor get one of the electronic keys. You can check in through your cell phone, arrive at the hotel and go right to your room. With your phone, you can unlock your room. Will all motels go to that system?

     I was reminded of technology advancements at the trial lawyer seminar this past weekend. Several braved an early morning to attend the law firm exchange. Paperless filwa, scanning, and indexing organization were the key terms. New equipment  was discussed.

     Much like the motel lock systems, there will always be some who don’t want to use computers, insist on entirely having an all paper file system and have little or no scanning. These are the same lawyers have  big storage facilities to keep all their closed paper files.

     Our firm is determined to keep ahead of the technology curve. The other day I mentioned “getting paged” when I really meant that I had just received a text. That got a laugh from those around me. At least I didn’t say to check the weather with Poor Richard’s Almanac!

      The good news is that we don’t have storage sheds or spaces, because every document and paper is scanned when it comes in. I am surrounded with technological minds!

      I guess the day might arrive when I can even get into the office with my cell phone… or maybe my watch! 

      And for pic o’ day… some real technology entertainment:

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Not On the Lam!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

I was going to start the blog by saying that I am going On the Lam. Then, I searched it to realize that it basically relates to a criminal who is fleeing arrest or is a fugitive from the law. So… change of plans. Not On the Lam.

It’s one of those old English expression that has changed over time. It used to be more associated with leaving or departing. Hence…

Our Virginia licensed lawyers are going to the Greenbrier in West Virginia, for a Virginia Trial Lawyers conference. They move it to different locations each year but this is one of my favorite places.

As is our firm custom, we always get together for dinner on Thursday night and tonight we are eating at the golf course restaurant. Good food without having to get too dressed up.

I will try to come back with Monday’s blog with more wisdom and creativity. More realistic is that I will come back with a few more pounds because of the good food!

In the meantime, if you did not receive or read our March eBlast here, I am attaching for “quick click” ease. You can also subscribe to the monthly eBlast here or if you are not receiving my daily blog in your email, you can subscribe here.

Ok, that’s probably too many “heres”. I know it’s too early for it but it always feels good to say… I hope you have a great weekend!!

And for pic o’ day, this negativity makes me laugh:

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Not the Tricks

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

There used to be a cereal commercial for Cocoa Puffs where Sonny the Cuckoo Bird would scream that “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”.

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I imagine that part of the reason that General Mills knew that it would be such a hit as a cereal, was that they literally and proudly stated on the box that the cereal was made with real Hershey’s chocolate.

Of course, if parents really believed that they were doing a good thing by serving that to their kids…. then someone is cuckoo. However, I was reminded of that cereal advertising…

(This is kind of like a mid-blog commercial to say that I’m glad that General Mills has modified the ingredients of Cocoa Puffs  to make it almost as healthy as a Pop Tart or maybe candy corn, and yes that is sarcasm. Now back to our blog! )

As I was saying, I was reminded of that Cocoa Puffs advertising when I recently read a sales list that suggested doing the following to be a successful sales person:

The world’s best salespeople take charge of sales meetings by adjusting their chair’s seat height. They begin meetings with their chair adjusted slightly below their customer’s, which subliminally signals that the customer is in a dominant position. As the meeting goes on, the salesperson will slowly elevate his or her chair in order to sit slightly higher than the prospect—putting them in a dominant position. The slow transition subliminally stages the prospect to be more receptive to suggestions from the salesperson. And if they can’t adjust the chair, they simply change their posture to achieve the same effect.

Now, my impression of that sales recommendaton borders on nonsense and unbelievable. Or, it’s at the intersection of offensive and the advertising of a chocolate-covered cereal.

What am I saying? What ever happened to honesty and integrity? There are still people who believe that the most successful lawyers are the ones who are slick and tricky.

That’s why it was refreshing when I recently attended a trial lawyers’ seminar where the speaker stated that the most successful trial lawyers are the ones who honestly present their case and have jurors truly believing the evidence. That there is no place for tricks in the courtroom, and that jurors see through that anyway.

I guess a cereal doesn’t have to be covered in chocolate to be profitable!

And finally, because it is officially spring… our pic o’ day:

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Oh That Glove!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

During game 1 of baseball’s 1996 American League Championship series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, a fan impacted the result of the game.

The Yankees were trailing the Orioles 4-3, going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter hit a high fly ball to right field. Oriole right-fielder Tony Tarasco moved back toward the fence and waited to catch the towering ball.

Just as Tarasco was about to catch the ball, a glove from the stands appeared over the fence and snatched the ball, before it came down into Tarasco’s glove and the field of play.

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The play was ruled a home run instead of fan interference. OK… I can tell that you think that I am just a bitter Orioles’ fan. Here’s another angle.

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Now do you believe me? The baseball rule that applied states that if “a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field and touches a live ball” spectator interference is to be called.

Right field umpire Rich Garcia immediately ruled the play as a home run, which tied the score at 4-4. The Yankees ended up winning the game in the 11th inning,  showing the impact of that call. The 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier had changed the game and and the series.

The umpire later admitted that there was spectator interference, but he maintained that the ball was not catchable anyway. According to the rules, had the umpire determined at the time that there was fan interference, he would have then used his own judgment to determine the likely outcome of the way… whether it be an out or awarding Jeter a hit such as a double.

Here’s the transcript of the announcer for Orioles baseball as he called it in real time:

There’s a high fly ball to right, deep…Going back is Tarasco, to the warning track, to the wall, he’s under it now…AND IT’S TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM BY A FAN, AND THEY’RE GONNA CALL IT…A HOME RUN! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! Richie Garcia is calling it a home run, and Tarasco is out to argue! A terrible call by Richie Garcia! IT’S ALL TIED UP! —Jon Miller Orioles radio.

     The next day, that umpire was shown along the Yankee sidelines as he signed autographs for the fans. That just added insult to injury for O’s fans. Umpire Garcia instantaneously became a New York celebrity. Meanwhile Jeffrey Maier also became a celebrity. A local newspaper gave him tickets behind the Yankee dugout for other playoff games and he appeared on national talk shows.
     In February of this year, the Maier glove was auctioned by Heritage Auctions. An anonymous buyer paid $22,705 for the cowhide glove that interfered.
     Going back to that 1996 game, at the time, Orioles manager Davey Johnson came racing out to argue the call. He was ultimately ejected for arguing. A Baltimore reporter for MASN recently asked him about that call and getting ejected in light of the glove’s reported sale.

     “You need breaks and that was a big one for the Yankees. And I don’t know how I could see it from about 300 feet and Richie was right next to it, looking up, and couldn’t see that. That got me thrown out,” Johnson said.

Did Johnson consider bidding on the glove?

No, I don’t want anything to do with that glove, before or now,” he said. “It cost me money, so why would I pay for it?”

     When I read about this, I was reminded of what usually transpires at the end of cases that I handle.  I will ask my client whether they want their file; or more specifically, do they want the photographs and various drawings that might have been part of the evidence. Almost always, clients will express similar sentiment as manager Davey Johnson was about that glove. They will tell me that they just want to put it behind them and want no reminders of their claim.
     Now… I just wish I could forget about that cowhide glove!

And for pic o’ day, a bit of toothbrush sampling!

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An Apple to Court

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Apple has announced that it will start delivering its Apple watch on April 24.

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I know that Apple wants us to get all excitedIMG_1467

but my initial reaction was to simply ignore it. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to watches. I consider a watch as part of the outfit.

The watch’s sellling points include the ability to send messages, update such sites as Facebook, interact with the searching information Siri, and operate all the apps that become available. Plus, you can use it to exercise and it somewhat allows us to avoid carrying the phone in the purse or pocket.

Ok, I will stop sounding like I’m selling this watch for Apple  because I still am not sure if I will ever buy one. However, it does take me back a bit to what used to be allowed in the Courtroom.

There was a crossover time of technology. For the longest time you could not bring your cell phone to court. Some courts still have that sign. Then, phones became more than just phones. Lawyers carried their calendars on them. When the Judge would try to schedule a trial, most of us would have to say that we didn’t know if we had those dates available… because we could not bring our phone to the courtroom.

Moving forward, iPads became the item of planning choice including the ability to load trial presentations and depositions instead of bring huge boxes of files. Of course, the iPad is still in use and I skipped several technology steps including the introductory Blackberry that got us all started with emails. It became irritating to watch lawyers who couldn’t help themselves and just continually checked their emails.

The point of all this is that I wonder if that device on the wrist will be replacing all that. Will a judge be leaning over to ask someone to stop viewing their Facebook or pinning on Pinterist?

Life is changing and so is technology in the court! Calendars and quick legal research might be just a click away… on the wrist.

And for pic o’ day, just asking for friendliness between rock, paper and scissors!!!!

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Some Friday President History

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

From Yahoo comes some history on the only President who served two terms that were not consecutively served. Do you feel like you should now hear, “I’ll take political trivia for $200 Alex.”?

I admit that I have been busy with casework and… some March Madness tournament watching. So, I thought I would post this article on……… (I was hoping that you would now hear the Jeopardy theme in your head) President Grover Cleveland.

The article is titled 10 fascinating facts about Grover Cleveland, the only double President.

1. Cleveland’s real first name was Stephen, not Grover. He used the name Grover as an adult; maybe he tired of using the name “Stephen Cleveland” in grade school?

2. Yes, he’s a distant relative of the guy they named the city after. But Grover didn’t grow up in Ohio. He was born in New Jersey and later moved to New York state.

3. Cleveland was a big guy. He wasn’t called Big Steve, as one of his political nicknames, for nothing. At 250 pounds, he was the second-heaviest President after William Howard Taft. Fitness Magazine named him as the least-healthiest President, because of his penchant for beer drinking and cigar smoking.

4. His first career was as a teacher. Cleveland was a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in Manhattan before deciding to pursue a law career.

5.  Cleveland ran for office in Buffalo and New York state as a reformer. He gained quite a reputation as a fresh-faced politician who fought corruption and patronage. In 1881, he came Buffalo’s mayor and in 1882 he came New York’s governor.

6. What’s the deal with the child scandal? Republicans accused him of fathering an illegitimate child in 1874. Cleveland admitted it was possible, but his law partner, Oscar Folsom, may have also been the father. Cleveland’s honesty helped to blunt the scandal’s impact.

7. Cleveland won the first presidential election by the narrowest of margins. It was a win by just 1,200 votes in his adopted home state of New York that swung the 1884 election.

8. Cleveland actually won his second election in the popular vote. Big spending by the Republicans swing the electoral vote in New York state away from Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison took the Electoral College vote, and the presidency.

9. A third party helped Cleveland get his second term. The Populist Party took 8 percent of the popular vote, and Cleveland easily defeated Harrison in the 1892 rematch, by a 277-145 margin in the Electoral College.

10. Cleveland gets mixed grades as a President. Historians rank Cleveland as an average President at best, in the same category as Chester Alan Arthur and Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland gets credit for restoring the power of the presidency in the 1880s, but Cleveland’s misunderstandings about political systems and an economic depression in 1893 saw Cleveland’s Democrats lose power quickly and his political career end.

     See, even though I wasn’t real original in my blogging today by posting this listing from Yahoo, it fits a little within legal blogging because it’s political history and trivia. And on a Friday, trivia is a good thing!!! Of course, some of those seem a bit nonsensical.

I hope you have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day…. too much:

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Categories : General Law, Political
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Those Personality Tests

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

In ninth grade, a book circulated through our class called Spirit-Controlled Temperament by author Tim LaHaye. (Amazon) It encouraged readers to identify the personalities and do a self-evaluation.

It caused a bunch of us as ninth-graders, to talk about personality traits instead of whether the Orioles had won or who was starting for the Colts. A pretty amazing feat.

The reason it was able to do that is because we all are interested in understanding ourselves. I remember after reading that book, I became a little concerned that I couldn’t decide which personality that I was supposed to be. It seemed like I fit in all the categories… seriously.

I later read criticism about the book’s attempt in categorizing everyone into 4 types of personalities. Probably a little to intense for me in ninth grade.

There is a test called the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBPT) which some firms use relating to employment.  It also helps individuals to identify job skills that they might use in looking for employment. It divides the test results into the following:

     E (extravert) or I (introvert), in interacting with others

  • S (sensor) or N (intuitive), in processing information
  • T (thinker) or F (feeler), in making decisions
  • J (judger) or P (perceiver), in dealing with the outside world

A person probably knows that they like people and are extroverted. This testing is to indicate that they might thrive in team building tasks. The extrovert probably shouldn’t try to take a job alone on some Alaskan science station.

Part of our interviewing process includes testing for job candidates. There are no right or wrong answers but the testing does attempt to quantify energy, focus and current stress levels; and whether someone is willing to work under supervision and within a team.

When I speak to the attorney candidates about the testing, without fail they ask me, “How did I do?”. I like it that it matters to them.

That brings me to the opposite spectrum. Our firm represents several clients who have suffered brain injury from a crash or even from getting slammed in the head with an airbag. It might have saved their life on impact but airbags can sure jerk your head back when they pop out of the steering wheel.

Some of our clients are diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries. That doesn’t mean that the injury is not serious, but it generally has more to do with the how long they were unconscious or  whether they were in a coma, to be categorized differently. The National Football League has also been responsible in part for helping the public understand the significance of a concussion.

The practical side of that is that many brain-injured clients are greatly fatigued, suffer personality changes or lose interest in things that meant a great deal to them before the crash. Ultimately, I have noticed that these clients don’t call and ask “How did I do?”. Unfortunately, part of the damages in these cases involves a loss of self.

If a person breaks their arm, doctors can put a cast on the arm. The sad part in a brain injury is that there is no cast that can repair a brain injury.

And for pic o’ day… here’s some real concern!!!!

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Categories : Brain Injury, Science, Sports
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Just Another Wednesday

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Here’s some trivia. Who was the highest ranking Union soldier to die during the Civil War? Answer: Major General John Sedgwick. IMG_0129

Unfortunately, his death was the result of false confidence, bad planning and bad leadership. Part of the reason for his confidence was probably because he had previously been wounded in the Battle of Glendale and then shot three times during the Battle of Antietam. I’m guessing he started to believe that he was untouchable. Unfortunately, here’s how history records his death.

      Major General Sedgwick chastised his men for acting scared of nearby Confederate sharpshooters. He had directed the soldiers in placing ammunition and artillery around them in preparation for what later would be known as the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.  It irritated him that they were acting so squeamish.

With Confederate sharpshooters only about  1,000 yards away from them, the soldiers kept running for cover every time a bullet would be fired.

History tells us that Major General Sedgwick walked right out in the open and was quoted as saying, “What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line?” Apparently, his confidence did nothing to calm the soldiers, which only incensed him more.

He then hollered, “Why are you dodging like this? They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” (From the book Who’s Who in the Civil War and historian Gordon Rhea)  Reports then say that he was shot moments later, under his left eye. There, he fell down dead from a sharpshooter’s bullet. Despite being on the opposing side, even General Robert E. Lee expressed sadness over losing his old friend.

And for pic o’ day, just taking it easy… or something like that:

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Keeping Up Appearances

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

     Prior to becoming the infamous namesake of the Ponzi Scheme,  Charles Ponzi (wiki) committed a fraudulent act that would be a precursor for things to come.

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     He walked into the offices of a warehouse company and found no one there. Sitting on a desk was a checkbook. So, he wrote himself a check in the amount of $423.58, which was a tidy sum in 1907. Not surprisingly, the company soon learned of his “self-help” financial plan. 

     Soon, Ponzi pled guilty after readily admitting that he had done it. He was sentenced to three years at St. Vincent-de-Paul Federal Penitentiary.

     This bleak prison was located near Montreal, Canada. A long way from his mother in Italy. Rather than inform his mother of  conviction and imprisonment, he wrote a letter to tell her that he had found a job as a “special assistant” to a prison warden. This explained why the letter was postmarked from the Penitentiary. His way of keeping up appearances.

     His entire life became one scheme after another while taking advantage of people and their greed. Even after committing the scheme that later became the basis for all other “rob Peter to pay Paul” schemes, he had no remorse over his investors losing roughly $20 million dollars in 1920, which is the equivalent of  over $225 million today.

     In fact he was proud that he had stolen all that money by saying in his last known interview before dying, “Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over“.

     The Ponzi Scheme!

     And for pic o’ day, some more excuse-making!

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Those Diet Drinks!

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

This past week I watched a lot of basketball including the ACC tournament and games that featured University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth. As a sports fan, this is a great time of year.

While watching these games, you start to see the same commercials repeated over and over. So much so, that on occasion I have found myself thinking that I will never buy that car or that product being advertised. Maybe they really are just trying to irritate me into an angry purchase. Is that a marketing ploy?

There is one ad that I just cannot get enough of it. In fact, I’ve even mentioned it in a previous blog. It’s really a spokesman/animal. It’s the Food Lion lion. Here he’s even at a tailgating party:

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Seriously, I know that a lion cannot talk and dispense wisdom on budgets and shopping. Although, lions might enjoy picnics and tailgating. So there’s that!  There’s even one where he enjoys getting his hair/mane blown back like a “hair band member” from an 80′s rock band.

The Food Lion lion is a figment of our imagination and fancy televison editing. Another figment of our imagination… diet soft drinks.

According to WebMD, after eight years of collecting research data,  researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center have reported findings that a person’s risk for being overweight increases by 41 percent, for every can or bottle of diet soft drink that they drink per day.

Also in the book A Lighter You! Train Your Brain to Slim Your Body, author  Holly Stokes, a certified Hypnotherapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner, writes that drinking diet drinks are more likely to cause weight gain than non-diet soda and may lead to health problems including diabetes and heart disease.

When we take the concept of diet soda as being part of losing weight, it is true that it saves approximately 140 calories versus other sugary drinks. Unfortunately, it is linked to causing tooth decay, depression, loss of bone density and has been linked by some researchers to heart problems. Not to mention the fact that diet drinks have no nutrional value.

The above reported study followed over 9500 people to arrive at these research findings. Unfortunately, diet drinks are like the Food Lion lion.

Of course, I still am waiting to hear the Food Lion lion say the diet drinks are healthy. I might then be persuaded!

And for pic o’ day

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Categories : Uncategorized
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