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The Power of a Toy

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

A couple of days ago, we had a photographer at the office to take updated pictures of the lawyers at the firm. They told me that I couldn’t use a picture that was taken of me wearing a cowboy hat… that was taken 10 years ago!

It’s crazy how that works. I remember looking at that picture after it was taken and thinking that it was a terrible picture. Now, it looks a whole lot better!

It’s also why I always say that people getting married should eat as often, and as fast, and as much food as they can before they get married. That way, throughout the years, as friends come into their home and see those pictures, they will most certainly hear the remark, “you look so much thinner now!”.

Despite my wishes for the cowboy hat photo, my picture was also just taken for our website. We are working on a website update.  That’s because social media and online marketing have become just as, or even more important than television advertising. And I am still a big believer in TV advertising.

That brings me to a story about advertising that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics and discussed on It’s titled Fast food TV ads influence a child’s restaurant choice. It is a researched explanation on the influence on where families end up eating, and why.

A new study shows that the more frequently that a child sees a fast food advertisement that involves receiving a free toy, the more likely that a family eats at that restaurant in that “free toy” TV ad. According to the study, 79% of all fast food ads targeting children  usually appear on only 4 TV networks.

For the study, researchers enlisted 100 children between the ages of 3-7. At the time, they found only two nationally recognized fast food restaurants that were directly targeting children in their ads.

In short, it was overwhelming from the study that children were asking to eat at those two fast food restaurants, causing the parents to also eat fast food. Out of the children in the study who received a toy with their food, those same children asked to go to both of the restaurants. Meaning, more fast food!

To further explain in the article, Jennifer Edmond of the Geisel School of Medicine says that because of the findings of the study, she now recommends that parents switch their child to commercial-free television programming to create a situation where the children will not pester their parents for fast food.

I guess less free toy advertising makes everyone healthier in the family, and it serves as a good advertisement for Netflix and Amazon programming!

And our pic o’ day:


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Rambling to Charitable Gifts

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

“Do you mind if I ask you a legal question?” I sometimes was asked that question, even before I graduated from law school.  Now I sometimes hear, “I know you don’t handle this kind of law but can I ask you a question?”.

I think that while I was in law school, I had  broader knowledge of the law. I know that as I studied for the bar, I definitely did. The bar made you brush up on all kinds of topics.

One of my bar questions sounded something like, ”a man fails to tie up his horse and it runs through the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor sees it and is angry that the loose horse is once again on his property, so he shoots it. It keeps running into a nearby yard, where it drops dead. Who is now responsible for removing the horse off the  neighbor’s property, if anyone?”

I’m not sure if I knew the answer then,. I would only be guessing now. I haven’t brushed up on property law in a while. Plus, I wish the example had been a fox. No one should be shooting a horse!… but I digress.

The law of personal injury does require keeping up with new cases and information. Along the way I still try to read about other areas of law. That includes articles that are quick reads that tell me “here are seven” or “here are five ways”, that I can skim through on a topic.

My ramblings lead me to an article in the area of tax from the NY Times titled Navigating the Tax Rules on Charitable Gifts. (article)  It summarizes topics of receipts, retirement accounts, donating used items, donating stocks and some property rules. I am attaching it if you want to just brush up  for year-end planning.

I have to admit that I still don’t read too many articles on the enthralling  topic of property!

And for pic o’ day, dog and homework pictures always get me!



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How About Some Drone Law?

Monday, November 9th, 2015

When Amazon announced that they were going to be making home deliveries by using drones (Fox News), I just kind of dismissed it. Sure, I thought, why not have Amazon pigeons deliver Fig Newtons.  Then I started receiving shopping catalogues with personal drones for sale. Now, I realize that the pigeons are out of business.

Which leads me to “whatever happened to the Kentucky man” William Merideth, who was arrested in July ( for shooting down a drone? He claimed that it was flying over his property?

By review, the “drone owner” claimed that he was taking pictures of a friend’s house for him. Meredith claimed that pictures were being taken of his 16-year-old daughter who was lying out by the pool.

Meredith got his shotgun… and boom, end of drone. Merideth was arrested for destruction of property.

At the end of October, a district court judge dismissed the charges (NBC News), on the basis that drone slayer Merideth had the right of expectation of privacy and that the evidence showed that the drone was hovering over his property. The drone owner says that this matter is “far from over”. I say, “where are the Fig Newtons?”

And for pic o’ day, it’s selfie time:


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Social Media for Clients and Employment

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

It’s not unusual to sit down at a restaurant, look around, and notice several people just looking down at their cell phones. Technology has taken over. How about this “Titanic possibility”?


Which brings me to the topic of social media in our cases, and what’s being discussed in the employment arena.

In the last few years, one of the items that we see being requested by defense attorneys is a copy of the posts of our clients’ Facebook pages. They are looking for something in their fishing expedition that might show photographs and postings of our clients’ activities.

Their intent is to try to cross examine our clients on their injuries and an explanation of their activities in the postings. Not surprisingly, clients are bothered when the defense is asking to see such personal things.

When the defense asks for such postings, we file motions to fight that discovery. It’s not unusual for a judge to allow some form of social media discovery. Recently, one judge ordered that only the defense attorney could have access to our client’s Facebook account… and only the defense attorney… for only a period of 24 hours. Still, it shows a change in what is now considered to be relevant in a lawsuit, as well as information that is now available to be discovered.

In the world of employment, now social media is garnering attention. (Pilot Online) As indicated in the article, according to VCU Professor Marcus Messner, think about what you are posting for five minutes before posting. Remember that your thoughts are going into cyberspace.

In September, the Chesapeake School Board Chairman was under scrutiny after she posted the following on her personal account, “Muslims hate pork, beer, dogs, bikinis, Jesus and freedom of speech”. Several criticized her for this personal post because they felt that it reflected poorly on the School Board, even though they endorsed her right of freedom of speech.

Last year, a Norfolk assistant principal was suspended after she retweeted a picture on her personal account that had racial overtones involving a prom picture. She was held to a standard in her position by many, despite the account being personal.

Social media is now part of the hiring process of a lot of employers. The underlying question, “should an employer be allowed to place limitations on its employees regarding what they post on social media, even if it is a totally private account?”. Ultimately, it does go to a freedom of speech question.

The city of Virginia Beach has instituted the following guidelines regarding what is posted by its employees on social media, “make sure others know that your personal opinion is just that; be careful when and where you are posting; and do not insult others online or use questionable language”.


And for some positive thinking on a Monday!


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This and That for Friday

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

During the week I get all kinds of news blurbs in my in-box, as potentials for the blog. It seems like one piece of bad news after another. I guess that’s the basis for the expression death by paper cut or death by a thousand cuts. Oh, and I get a lot of ads that apparently arrive because someone thinks I need to buy more clothes. It’s that crazy target marketing… that has me in the target.

It’s nice to sit down to write the Friday blog. I can just aimless type and be surprised!

So, here are some of my Friday thoughts:

We are working on opening in West Virginia and currently looking for potential office space. What do you think? I mean, the view is fabulous.


Are you planning on going out to eat this weekend? This was sent to me a while back. It’s a bit like TV meeting dinner!


And finally, who doesn’t appreciate a smile… and a good haircut:


Just a bit of wandering as we head into the weekend!

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Williamsport to Hershey

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

This is a story that winds through Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and then wanders through Hershey, Pa. Then, it ends with fortunately not boarding the Titanic after purchasing a ticket. How is that for wandering?

First, I went to Williamsport on Sunday, to speak at a 60th Anniversary celebration of a church that my grandfather started. You can see that the platform is on high alert because of some of my unpredictable stories down memory lane. But, it was a treat for me to remember my grandfather and grandmother.

EBC 6oth speaking

And since Williamsport is close to Hershey, (unless you measure in candy bar units), on to Hershey and why I have mentioned the Titanic.

Hershey cancelled

This is a check (taken with my cell phone) that Hershey wrote, to put down a deposit for a state room for boarding on the Titanic that launched on April 10, 1912, with 2000 passengers. This $300 deposit wrote in December 1911,  is worth approximately $7281 today.

Hershey had founded his Chocolate Company in 1894 and had just begun to mass-produce chocolates and distribute them in 1907. So, around the time that he wrote this deposit, he was just really gearing up the business. For instance, during World War II, the Hershey company provided Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars to all the troops through the entire war.

It wasn’t until after 1918 when Hershey transferred all his assets to a trust; that such things as the town, entertainment complex, the Milton Hershey School, and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center came into existence. (Milton S. Hershey Wikipedia)

I took this picture of the check while touring the Hershey Archives because one of the workers pointed it out, and then explained that Hershey and his wife were to have been on that fateful ship, but had to cancel at the last moment because of work duties that called him back home. He and his wife left on an earlier ship.

Obviously, Hershey came to that fork in the road…. and made the right choice. The Hershey company doesn’t necessarily credit the hand of God or Providence, but they do quickly mention “What if?” Hershey had been on that ship. We may not have Hershey bars today!

As a side note,  history records that there were six other prominent people who missed that fateful ride, who had been booked on the Titanic. (listed here)  These other six included J. Pierpont Morgan and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.


And then I conclude this with:  it’s good to go away… but it’s always good to come home!


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Pretend Work

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

I am in Hershey, Pennsylvania, at the Hershey Museum.  Here I am pretending to work…and I already know what you are thinking!!!!


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Sisyphus and His Pride!

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

In Greek mythology,  the story of Sisyphus is supposed to teach us about character… and that stories back then were crazy. He was smart. Too smart for his own good.  (Wikipedia)

As the story goes, he foolishly thought that his cleverness surpassed the mighty Zeus. He constantly was plotting behind everyone’s back until he made the final misstep of divulging one of Zeus’ secrets.  If you click on the link, you will see how his pride, plotting and deceit finally  caught up with him. As punishment,  Zeus had him dragged to the underworld for an eternity of punishment.

According to the story, to this day he remains there, rolling a heavy boulder up a steep hill,  just to watch it roll back down.  As he keeps pushing it up, it rolls down again; which requires him to eternally to do it all over again. I suppose it’s where people get the expression about feeling like “I just keep pushing that boulder up the hill”. The feeling  of movement, without getting anywhere.

The story even has characters like Hermes… who is really remembered as a brand or a handbag.

I am thankful to feel productive and enjoy what I do. I should also be thankful that my parents did not name me Sisyphus!

I incorporate that because I am currently am on a trip in Pennsylvania, and should be back with the blog on Thursday. The wheel keeps turning! This is a great Monday!!!!

And for pic o’ day… team reading!


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Ghost Evidence

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Doing a story on the Greenbrier Ghost seemed liked an appropriate start to this weekend! Sadly that tells you that there is a  scary ending instead of a happy ending of Zona Heaster Shue. But it does include the courtroom. (Wikipedia)


Edward Stribbling Trout Shue (In all stories, maybe we shouldn’t ever trust a 4-name person ) was a drifter who came to the County of Greenbrier looking for work. Soon he was working as a blacksmith. Not long after his arrival to town, he met Zona. They fell in love and were married… despite the objection of Zona’s mother, who had taken an instant dislike to this man.

The couple lived peacefully until January 23, 1897. That’s when 21-year-old Zona Heaster Shue was found dead in her living room.  Local physician, Dr. George Knapp, examined the body and determined that Mrs. Shue’s death was due to an “everlasting faint.” Her body had been found by a young boy who had come to the home on an errand. She was found lying at the foot of the stairs, stretched out with her feet together and her hand on her stomach. She looked “comfortably dead”.

The doctor was summoned; But before he arrived, her husband had moved her body to the upstairs bedroom and placed her on the bed. He then prepared the body for burial, normally a job for the women of the community, by washing the corpse and then dressing her in a high-necked dress with a stiff collar and then placed a veil over her face.

When the doctor did arrive, he only did a cursory examination of the body because Shue was cradling his wife’s head and sobbing. The doctor noticed but did not follow up on the bruising that appeared to be around her neck.

The doctor later amended his findings to include  that the death included “and childbirth.” Her husband of 3 months kept an amazing vigil over her body and would let no one near the coffin.  At the funeral, locals later testified that they noticed that her neck did not look normal against the pillow in the casket.The matter was “laid to rest” when Zona was buried.

According to  Zona’s mother; four weeks after the burial, she woke up in the middle of the night to a chilly room and found her deceased daughter standing at her bedside. ”Her daughter” then told her over the course of 4 nights,  “I was murdered, Momma—Trout strangled me!” She went on to describe that he had gone into a fit of rage over her not cooking meat for dinner, and he then choked her so hard that it caused her neck to break.

The  mother was so convinced that this was not a dream that she went to the local sheriff and begged him to investigate her daughter’s death as a murder by Trout Shue. The sheriff reluctantly agreed, and Zona’s body was exhumed.

Zona’s body showed that she had a crushed windpipe and a broken neck. Trout Shue was charged with murder.

At the trial, the judge was determined to keep out any evidence of the “ghost story”. The prosecutor was determined to just stick to the evidence. Despite the judge’s attempts. the mother discussed her “daughter’s visits”.

It became clear that the jury believed the mother. Trout was convicted by the jury, and sentenced to life in prison. When the story of that trial is told, it is also concluded that Trout Shue was the only known case in the U.S. where a ghost’s testimony allegedly helped to reopen an investigation, and then identify and convict a murderer.

Have a great weekend and be safe out there!


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Confusing Numbers!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

We are currently making preparations to open an office in West Virginia. That brings excitement but also many tasks which include trying to figure out what phone numbers we want to use in that market.

Because television advertisements only run for 30 seconds or even less, you strive for a number that can easily be remembered and immediately dialed. That’s what brings me to a story on the importance of remembering phone numbers.

Despite the fact that I know that anything can be googled to search for information, I was still humored when someone sent me a listing of some of the more curious 911 calls. Here is one that reminds on the importance of the number:

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is the nature of your emergency? Caller: I’m trying to reach nine eleven but my phone doesn’t have an eleven on it.

Dispatcher: This is nine eleven. Caller: I thought you just said that it was nine-one-one.

Dispatcher: Yes, ma’am nine-one-one and nine-eleven are the same thing. Caller: Honey, I may be old, but I’m not stupid.


And finally, for pic o’ day, I never get tired of ”trick-or-treat” pictures:



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