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Advice From Ask Amy

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

This blog is a little different in that I have basically just pasted an answer from the column Ask Amy. It is a blog written by advice columnist Amy Dickenson. In a recent column, she answered a person who advised her that times were so tough that they would appreciate just receiving money or grocery gift cards instead of gifts or care packages.

The person asking the question did not want to offend gift givers, but she also wanted to know how to best express herself because of her need. This column and question reminded me of the difficulties that many go through during this holiday season.

In my law practice, a day does not go by where a client expresses how difficult it is right now. Sometimes they ask me just to settle their case for whatever I can because they just cannot wait. Of course, it bothers me greatly to see insurance companies take advantage of that.

With that in mind, I paste the following. An answer that made me think.

DEAR OVERLY-GIFTED: Your situation highlights the ongoing problem of hunger in this country. According to the anti-poverty group Feeding America, in 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60) were food insecure. The organization reports that in your home state of New York, 1 in 7 people don’t have enough to eat.

I hope you are doing everything possible to find sources of healthy food in your community. The Feeding America website (feedingamerica.org) has a pull-down menu listing state-by-state food resources. Many local churches host weekly food giveaways where you can pick up staples. A social worker can work with you to qualify for other benefits, including heating assistance, or help with your medications.

In terms of your generous friends, I think you should express your gratitude, and also do what you can to direct their giving in ways that will be more useful to you.

You can express to them, “Every year you are generous and send me a ‘care package’ at Christmastime. I appreciate it so much. This year, I’m hoping to receive gifts that will help tide me over during the very lean times. I’d really appreciate a grocery gift card or help with my utility bill during these cold months. Regardless of what you choose to do, I know the winter will be less cold, due to your kindness.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting another “on Santa’s lap”.

cat on lap

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Stories That Grab Us

Monday, December 15th, 2014

The first telephone book ever issued contained only 50 names. It was published by the New Haven District Telephone Company in 1878. When I write that, it makes me think of simple times. I can almost concoct a story of what it must have felt like to receive a phone book for the first time… with everyone’s telephone number and name who had a phone!

We all like a good story. In fact, good lawyers always remind that the most persuasive case to a jury is a story; not a bunch of legalese that starts with something like “Whereas” or “Wherefore”.

During my opening in a trial, I usually give some basics to start, and then I say, “Now let me tell you the story about this case”. I can physically see an adjustment in people. A good story. It reminds me of my grandmother reading storybook after storybook to me and me exclaiming, “read it again Grammy, read it again”.

Famous writer Ernest Hemingway would instruct writers on  telling a good story. Then, he would remind them that it didn’t need to be long or descriptive to be a good story. He then proved his point on storytelling when he managed to tell a complete and heart-wrenching story in just six words: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

The power of a story.

And for pic o’ day, some more holiday “joy”.

joy

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Selfies Plus

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

I am in New York City today with an up- and- back flight.    In the meantime, I thought that this “selfie” pic o’ from my Mom was right on point. And, everytime I look at it it makes me laugh.

selfie

Which brings me to The Luminary. You can also read it for some hometown feel at MuncyLuminary.com.  The Paper has a section it calls Peeks of the Past. It’s one of the sections that I always try to read because it reminds me of history as well as some things that never change.

On December 21, 1885, the newspaper noted back then as news that Mrs. S.E. Snook, in an advertisment, calls the attention of the public to her stock of home made Christmas candles, especially clear toys and French mixtures.

Of course, a peek into the past also told us that on December 21, 1877,  the hennery of DeLa Green was was visited by thieves Monday night. Mr Green hastened their departure by pistol shots from his bedroom window. Unfotunately, his aim was faulty.   

In a 1905 edition of The Muncy Luminary, it was noted that Mat Blakeless of this place recently killed two fine hogs. The one dressed 525 pounds and the other 522. Who can beat this? 

And finally, in the December 1917 edition, the community was made aware that William Opp was unfortunate enough on Wednesday to break his right arem when he was struck on the arm while cranking his auto.

There’s something about every day events making the news that grips me. Perhaps it is the reminder of routine that makes it interesting. The interest of life!

And for a Christmas pic o’

IMG_1087

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And Then Reindeer Cats

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Yesterday we emailed our December newsletter. It’s an opportunity to talk about the staff and include a favorite recipe. Admittedly, it doesn’t have much legal stuff.

I hope that you already received it in your email in-box. Just in case you didn’t, you can get it here and subscribe for it here.

And finally, to wrap up the blog for a weekend, here’s a couple “Reindeer Cats”.

R-deer Cat 1

and….

Reindeer Cat 2

 

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Thinking Chocolate

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

In Jim Valvano’s speech that he gave at the ESPY awards in 1993, he told the funny story of giving his first coaching speech to the freshman team at Rutgers University. So, he wanted to really motivate these kids to go out and play a great first game of basketball.

He researched great coach speeches and settled on one that had been given years earlier by Hall-of-Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, who had given his speech as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

So, Valvano looked at his Rutgers freshman players and started into his speech. He really wanted to fire them up!

Gentlemen, we will be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only.  Your family, your religion… and the Green Bay Packers“.

I still get a kick out of that story, whenever I see Jim Valvano’s speech. I always imagine the look on the faces of the entire Rutgers team.  So, let me segue into what some might add to that list of things of importance.

Specifically, it’s also the things that California Representative Nancy Pelosi says that keeps her going and also provides great gifts. That item… chocolate. I guess she would say to focus on “Your family, your religion… and chocolate”. Here’s what the NY Times tells us:

She doesn’t “eat chocolate once per day, but constantly,” Ms. Pelosi said, “It’s an ongoing thing.”

“If there were one food I would have in life, it would be very dark chocolate ice cream,” she said. “If it were not invented, I would have had to invent it.”

Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat, has loved chocolate since her childhood in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore, where she enjoyed parfaits at the corner store and, of course, gelato.

According to the article, Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream is her  favorite. She also keeps plenty of Ghirardelli chocolate squares on hand.

She also tells the reporter, that she keeps chocolates “In the desk, in the purse, readily available at hand,” she said of her stash. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

She also believes in chocolate diplomacy. Speaker John Boehner of Ohio “has given me plenty of delicious chocolate from his district,” she said; noting that she’s a fan of Graeter’s chocolates in Cincinnati.

What does she give Boehner in return? “I’ve sent him a number of things.”

I suspect that Boehner would say that she has given him, “A hard time”.

And for pic o’ day, I thought this was a funny elf on a shelf:

elf on shelf

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Wake Up Running!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

When I hear someone say that they are going to tell an old proverb, it makes me stop and listen. I get the same feeling when I hear the words, “So the story began with”. That leads me to an ancient proverb told in Africa. This is another thought that I came across in organizing and planning for the Firm.

Every morning, a gazelle wakes up with the thought of survival. It must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up.  It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. The morale of the proverb is that every morning when the sun comes up, you’d better be running!

 

Our pic o’ days come from Debbie K. First, the Northern Lights!

Northern Lights, dk

and then a bit of Christmas!

The Christmas Tree, dk

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The Smoking Admission

Monday, December 8th, 2014

It’s that time of year when we all start to take personal assessment. Then, we put our new year resolutions together. Then, we smile. Yes, then despite my desire to drop a few pounds, I will still reach for the bread brought to the table.

The same cycle of goal/failure occurs to smokers. Overwhelming evidence of the harms of smoking only cause it to be part of the resolutions list in the first place. Still, the history of the harms through the eyes of tobacco companies are more of a failure than the failed resolution list.

Here is some history:

A  Johns Hopkins researcher reports in 1938 that smokers do not live as long as nonsmokers. Six years later, the American Society for the Control of Cancer warns that smoking might pose dangers but said “no definite evidence exists” that it caused lung cancer.

In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general, Luther L. Terry, issues a landmark report linking smoking and cancer. That sets in motion  measures that deeply cut into smoking rates. This is unfortunate for Big Tobacco because it cuts into tobacco’s profits and influence.

The first effect is with Congress passing laws that require health warnings on cigarette packages. Then, later banning cigarette advertising on radio and TV. Then,  more regulations and restrictions on Big Tobacco.

Despite the previous findings, Big Tobacco routinely defeated lawsuits brought by smokers (and families of deceased smokers) Still, lawsuits were placing heavy attention on the ill effects of smoking. Lung cancer had once been a rare disease. Now, it was effecting millions globally at an alarming rate.

In 1998, Tobacco companies agreed to pay $206 billion to settle a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of 46 states, who were seeking compensation for costs to the public related to smoking-related illnesses.

1997 was the first time that Big Tobacco admitted causing cancer. It is estimated that in 2015, there will be about 6 million deaths from past smoking. In addition a recent study shows that smoking causes men to lose their Y chromosome. That is the explanation for why it causes cancer. Tough to get an admission of wrongdoing.

And for pic o’ day, I was looking for a Christmas picture and got sidetracked with this celebration:

haapy b day

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Needing Direction

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

December is a month of assessment and a month of planning at the Firm. It’s a good time to chart direction for the new year.

As I listened to Dr. Sherouse preach yesterday, he told about a study that confirms the notion that when we don’t know where we are going; That we walk in circles instead of a straight line. So, I decided to look for that study. One of the easy benefits of the Internet.

ABC News reported on the study that proves that humans do walk in circles when they are lost.  According to a group of scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, their experiment confirms our human behavior.

The researchers outfitted nine people with a global positioning tracking system. Then, some of the group was dropped off in a forest in Germany and other mini groups were dropped in the Sahara desert. They were told to walk in a straight line.

When they were able to use the sun or moon as guidance, there was some semblance of walking in a straight line. The findings of the study showed that our brains accumulate faulty signals about the body’s position in space. As a result, we do not have an “inner GPS system”.

Based on the study, the researchers found that it was “a reminder the we don’t have an innate sense of direction… you have to have navigation tools”. They walked in circles despite being told to walk in a straight line.

After hearing the sermon (thanks Pastor!) and then finding the study, it made me want to be more dilligent in planning. We all need direction to be successful! It doesn’t just happen.

And for pic o’ day, my mom sent me two for the blog today. One for the coffee and the second for Christmas!

coffee                   lights

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And on a Friday

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

     Yesterday after the Christmas party, we closed the office. I hope that I will hear stories of Christmas shopping today.

     I’m sorry that I’m not providing tales of cases or warnings from the FDA. Instead, another Christmas picture. This was in a blog in past years. but it just cracks me up! Someone got a bit carried away.

manger awry

 

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Our Christmas Party

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

      Today is our office Christmas Party. The Virginia Beach office has come to Richmond for our “get-together-breakfast”, and the South Carolina office is going to Staxx Omega. Yep… they have great pancakes.

     So, it’s a good morning but the blog is a shorty. Still… aren’t you thinking about pancakes just a little bit???

     And for pic o’ day, here’s one from the past that makes me laugh. Sometimes dogs just can’t help it!

Klegg

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