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5 Monkeys and Their Ladder

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Can monkeys figure out how to use a hotel key? The real question is whether they can figure out which room the key goes to… but I digress.

The real lesson from monkeys (for our monkeys’ blog) is told in an article from in an article titled  What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Human Behavior: From Facts to Fiction.

The article is based on a story that goes like this:

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up. After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.

The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.

The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.

What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

This story has been repeated in many motivational talks through the years, to stand for the premise that if it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on the other monkeys, what would they say? The reason the monkeys continued to beat up any new monkey trying to climb the ladder is because, “I don’t know, it’s just the way we do things around here”.

Now… that’s a wonderful life lesson. However, it just never happened. There was some studies on monkeys, but none that were this specific. I guess they could have told us stories about monkeys who eat swordfish, and we would believe it.

When I read this story… and the fiction of the story, I thought of metaphors involving pharmaceutical companies or politicians. Pharma, because they pitch drugs for headaches that they claim have been tested with, “ask your doctor if this drug is right for you” and then they go on to say that this headache pill causes everything from hives to death.

As to politicians, they tell us stories about poverty or pain that make for good stories… but just aren’t based in fact. Anything to get elected, and we are tired of it.

I said all that to say, let’s let the monkeys enjoy life.  They don’t effect us. Do they really need to teach us a lesson?


And for pic o’ day, here’s another lesson from animals… when there is too much TV watching:

IMG_0945 (2)

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Scruff Face

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

A lawsuit that involves a sniper, defamation, and a person who called himself “Jesse ‘the body’ Ventura”, makes for good blog material.

The lawsuit resulted in a $1.3 million plus $500 defamation jury verdict that was awarded to Jesse Ventura. Ventura,  a former professional wrestler who also served as the governor of Minnesota, had claimed that he was defamed by Navy Seal Chris Kyle. (

The lawsuit arose out of an alleged altercation between Chris Kyle and Ventura. According to the book  American Sniper, a memoir written by former Navy Seal Chris Kyle,  Kyle claimed he punched a man named “Scruff Face” for disparaging the war in Iraq and saying the SEALs “deserve to lose a few.” Later, Kyle identified ”Scruff Face” as Ventura.

I think Ventura was bothered by Kyle’s claims of Ventura’s statements, as well as the claim that Kyle punched him.

Ventura, whose real name is James George Janos, claims that the incident never happened, according to the Star Tribune. The federal jury in Ventura’s case came back with a 1.35 million verdict for unjust enrichment and $500,000 for defamation.

As told in the movie American Sniper, Kyle was later killed on a firing range. His wife appealed the Ventura verdict and it has now been set aside by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The unjust enrichment claim was set aside as contrary to Minnesota law and the $500k defamation verdict was overturned because the judge had allowed evidence of insurance during the trial.

For now, Ventura has not decided whether to appeal. “It is going to be back to the drawing board as to whether Ventura wants to go through this again,” said Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota.

And for pic o’ day, when this was sent to me, the song reference cracked me up:



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Too Late!

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Poker players say that if you can’t spot the sucker at the table… then you are the sucker. It’s basically the same for people who are always late. If you don’t know someone who is always late… then you are that friend who is always late. Unfortunately for one lawyer, being late was costly.

It all started when Judge Bynum Gibson had asked the lawyers for both sides to be present at 8:30 a.m. He wanted to take care of trial motions before trial started at 9. (Monticello Live) This was a murder trial and the jury was ready to be seated.

When Arkansas defense attorney Jim Morris arrived at 9:08 a.m., he tried to explain that he was late because he had to take his daughter to camp and couldn’t reach the court by phone because of poor cellphone reception issues. Unfortunately for Morris, the judge said that the case was already concluded for the day. Poor Judicial Reception!

The judge held Morris in contempt and said he even considered jailing the attorney for 24 hours. Instead of jail time, Judge Gibson fined Morris—requiring him to pay $4,000 to the court clerk. It was based on the expense of the cost of compensating 60 to 70 prospective jurors and the witness fees that were also paid for this murder case.

“I’ve had defendants not show up, but never had attorneys show up after 9 o’clock,” Gibson said. “It’s killed 3 days of court time.” Now, the murder trial has been rescheduled for July.

Better late than never was not better. You just can’t be a highway cone. Have to keep it moving and be on time!

And for pic o’ day, that ole-fashioned technology… right?


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Some Retirement Advice

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

I usually read the Baltimore Sun to get some Oriole baseball news. A letter/article written by Richard T. Seymour in the Opinion section caught my eye. It’s titled Outliving Our Retirement Funds. 

It’s a good reminder for any age. Mr Seymour starts out his opinion piece with “At 88 and 87, I’m glad my wife and I are alive, but scared we’ll live much longer. We’re out of money.

He owned his own business and says that they did plan for retirement. They paid off their mortgage with the piece of mind that no matter what, they would always have a roof over their heads.

With their savings, they felt that a conservative 6% return on their savings would give them a cushion. They didn’t count on a market crash, or that a 6% return was not happening. Now, they are faced with the possibility of living only on their social security, because of their dwindling retirement savings.

I attach this for the blog because it’s “ponder material”, no matter where you are in your journey. It’s great when life is all cake. But, here’s something to think about. Just sayin’, on a Monday.


And for pic o’ day, and because it is pool season, I thought this sign was funny:


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“Of Politics and Coffee”

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Sometimes I am asked why I don’t write more about politics. Since it’s the weekend, here’s a bit of politics. More of a parody from The Shining:



OK, I can see that you are disappointed in the politics. That causes me to revert back to one of my favorite topics. Remember, it is the weekend:


And just for some history, did you know that Union soldiers were issued 8 pounds of ground roasted coffee  during the Civil War, as part of their personal rations of one hundred pounds of food. They could also trade out food to get issued another 10 pounds of green coffee beans.

At the office, I buy great tasting coffee and have it shipped in. Sounds like the Union Generals knew my secret of the importance of coffee, long before I came along!

I hope you have a great weekend!!!

And for pic o’ day, Debbie K sent this one. It really made me laugh:

When I am old

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The Broken/Not Broken Printer

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

I learned a long time ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.“ George Bernard Shaw

I thought of that quote when I read the story (Fox News) about the man who sold a printer on Craigslist for $40, and then spent the next 7 years in a lawsuit that cost him more than $12,000 in attorney fees.

In 2009, Doug Costello of Massachusetts sold the printer to Gersh Zavodnik, who was a Ukraine-born Indiana resident. Unknown to Costello, Zavodnik was known for his propensity for filing lawsuits. Since then, it has come to light that he has filed more than 120 lawsuits since 2008. (And yes, much less than Trump’s 3500 lawsuits... but I digress)

Mr. Z (ease for my typing) filed suit for breach of contract, claiming that the printer was broken. That suit was dismissed, as were the next 26 lawsuits. However, one of the dismissed suits made it to the Court of Appeals and was then sent back for reconsideration. It started all over.

At some point, Costello failed to respond to the lawsuit  (admissions sent) and judgment was entered against him in default, in an amount of $30,044.07. He appealed that verdict. Fortunately, it was set aside. The judge wrote that he set it aside because the verdict “had no basis in reality”.  Unfortunately, Costello had won, but had spent those monies to have it set aside. Apparently, Mr. Z is till trying to revive the suit.

A word of advice: If you decide to sell a tractor on Craigslist and a man named Zavodnik contacts you. Either just give him the tractor… or run!

This isn’t a blog about lawyers. It is a reminder of the good and bad of our legal system. You don’t have to have a lawyer to file a lawsuit. (Z filed these unrepresented). The bad? Anyone can file a lawsuit who has the filing fees. That’s primarily why I think  that there should be a “Loser pays” rule. But that’s a topic for another day!

And pic o’ day gives us some silly advice:


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On Food and Fixins’

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016


ReallyFastFacts.c0m  is a food warning in their article titled “According to Their Employees, These 10 Fast Food Items Should Be Avoided at All Costs” . Something to think about when you are headed to the baseball field or the pool and want to pick up some “fixins” quickly.

Former employees, according to the article, tell us that Wendy’s Chili is made from expiring hamburger and is sometime freshened up for the next day, by just adding water. Makes your mouth water… for the wrong reason.

Those chicken nuggets? They might have been sitting for hours. Better to call them well-aged nuggets?

According to the article, it says that the Dunkin Donut donuts are frozen. Come on, can that be true? Say it ain’t so! I still remember the old commercial “Time to make the donuts”. Is it really “Time to unfreeze the donuts”?

That’s just a few of the foods. I hope it’s not all true. Still, maybe apples and a morning pepper are still the way to go instead of old hamburger! Just some food for thought… or thought for foods.

And for pic o’ day, it’s all about the food and working out:



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On Wills or Not

Monday, June 6th, 2016

In law school, I thought that I would enjoy doing estate work. I took 8 hours (two semesters) of Estate Planning. To date, I think that I have drafted a total of…. one will. That was in my first year of practice.

I thought I had a good plan for a law practice. Not so much!

Still, I do perk up when celebrity wills are discussed. Sometimes they have fascinating provisions. Leona Helmsley was the hotel owner/business woman who was known as the “Queen of Mean” because of the way that she treated her employees.

When she died, she excluded many relatives from her will. However, she did leave 12 million dollars to her dog Trouble.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry was the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. She was much nicer in her will. She left $4 million dollars to her dogs with a provision that they be allowed to continue to live in one of her mansions. In addition, she allocated an additional 1 million dollars to any loyal employee who was willing to live with the dogs.

Recently, musician Prince passed away without a will. That brought to light additional celebrities who died without a will. Here’s the USA Today article that includes Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Sonny Bono. Curious lack of planning, except for Marley. He felt that estate planning was against his religion.


And for pic o’ day, a bit of responsibility… not!


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A Wage Thought

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

On a Monday, I wrestled with a blog on wages; or, a blog on why a man would want to eat at Chipotle for  315 straight days. (USA Today) Let’s go with a wage discussion. Specifically, earnings by flight attendants. A kind of “Did you know?”.

If you climb on that crowded plane this summer, here’s something to think about. The average hourly wage for a flight attendant is $20.45 per hour. While flight attendants are helping everyone cram their luggage in the bin or grabbing those “pillows”, they really aren’t being paid their “wages”.

Flight attendants are paid for “flight hours only”. That means that the clock doesn’t start until the plane pushes back from the gate. That includes flight delays, cancellations, and layovers not counting for their income. They do receive an expense allowance of #1.50 an hour, once they sign in at the airport.

When I read about the wage scale, it made me think a little differently about flight attendants. Makes you feel that we are in it together.

And for pic o’ day, maybe some eating advice?



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And on a Friday

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

I enjoyed typing the title of this blog. Here we are!

I thought I would attach an article that caught my attention: 15 Quirks of U.S. Presidents You Didn’t Learn in School.

If you have time to read, I think it will tell you some things that will make you go hmm. Did you know that President Rutherford B. Hayes had a fear of going insane. Or that President John Quincy Adams’ pet was an alligator. I guess it would be more surprising if it had been Unicorn. Right?

Have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day, some Mrs. Potato Head humor:




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