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Archive for Misc.

Unknown History Figures

Monday, April 21st, 2014

I admit it. I am feeling blog lazy. Yes… more like a blob than blog. So, I am taking the blog shortcut: list posting.

I thought that a list from  that lists  10 of the Most Influential Historical Figures You’ve Never Heard About,  might be a good blog read. How many of these folks do you know? How about Cesare Beccaria or Bernard Mandeville. Bernard, with a birth of 1670 A.D., is basically the father of “this is business, it ain’t personal”.  History… it’s a grabber!

And for pic o’ day, how about “Squirrel News”.

squirrel paper

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Categories : Current Affairs, Misc.
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A Relationship Maze

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

I feel like the following is a bit like watching Wheel Of Fortune and hearing Pat Sajak tell us to “solve the puzzle”. So, let’s put this puzzle together:

At age 47, the bassist for the Rolling Stones band was Bill Wyman. At the time, he began a relationship with 13-year-old Mandy Smith. The publicist for the group quickly issued a press release that it was okay… because the relationship had her mother’s blessing. (I am trying to write this puzzle without commentary)

Six years into the relationship, Wyman and Smith were married. The marriage lasted only a year. Soon after the divorce, Wyman’s son, Stephan, married Mandy’s mother. The mother was 46 at the time. (no word whether this marriage had the daughter’s blessing)

So that creates the following: That made son Stephen, a stepfather to his former stepmother. If the original relationship, Bill and Mandy, had remained married; Stephen would have been his father’s father-in-law and his own grandfather!

DID YOU KNOW that author Frank L. Baum was trying to figure out what he should call the land where the Wizard lived?  So, he looked over at his filing cabinet and saw “A-N” and “O-Z”. He then had his title for his children’s novel,”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.

And for pic o’ day, it’s finally getting to be that time. (I thought that was a better introduction than ‘Cat on the griddle’)

Cat on the griddle

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The IHOP Big Tip Receipt

Monday, April 14th, 2014

During my first couple years of law practice, I would do different cases including contract disputes. I remember receiving a call from a restaurant owner who wanted to meet about an American Express issue. A patron had paid for a bill and left a tip for the waitress in an amount of $500. That night, the waitress closed out all of her receipts and collected her credit card tips that included the $500 in cash, from the restaurant.

In a couple of days, the restaurant received notice from American Express that they were being charged back for the $500. The “Big Tipper” had claimed that he did not mean to leave a $500 tip; that he had been “over served” too much  drink that night, and that the waitress should have known that he did not intend to leave a monster tip on a $75 bill.

I was reminded of that story when I heard a very similar “tip story” from the Glen Allen IHOP, in Virginia. ( In this story, an Henrico waitress claimed that she lost her job over a $200 tip. When she looked at the receipt that showed a $200 tip, she couldn’t believe her eyes. “This is amazing. This is crazy”, she told her friends.


IHOP receipt

A week later, she lost her job. The waitress said that the manager called her in for a closed-door meeting about the customer’s tip. The manager told her, “that’s his handwriting. That’s his signature. But he only meant to write down $2.00″. Then, the manager told her that she needed to pay the $200 back, and gave her a deadline.

On  the receipt, you can see that the patron had not  oddly totaled the bill. Almost makes you think that he was playing games.

After the employer confrontation, the waitress refused to return the money. Then, she was fired. As noted in the story, legally she didn’t have to return the money… but the restaurant could terminate her in Virginia; a right to work state.

As a footnote to this story; after the news of the termination, IHOP has invited her back to work without having to return the money. To date, she hasn’t decided if she wants to return.

As a second footnote; in my restaurant case, American Express and the restaurant decided to split the difference as a settlement. American Express didn’t want to lose the restaurant as a customer and the restaurant wanted to continue to accept American Express. The original diner/customer… no longer welcomed for service!

DID YOU KNOW that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a fear of the number “13″? (known as triskaidekaphobia) He would even invite his secretary to a meal, if he heard there would otherwise only be 13 people eating at the table.

If he was scheduled to travel on the 13th of the month, he would change his departure for 11:50 p.m. on the 12th or at 12 a.m. on the 14th. In death, the superstition continued. He passed away in April, 1945 … on Thursday afternoon the 12th. (certainly not on Friday the 13th!)

And for pic 0′ day, a bit of rest:

a bit of rest


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Rockefeller and Bumper Cars

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Here are two random thoughts on life. Yes, not quite as random as a voice controlled piano playing polar bear. Are you asking what I am talking about? Exactly! In Devon, Connecticut, it is against the law to walk backwards after sunset. Let’s move forward in the blog.

I just saw a note that compared life to bumper cars at an amusement park. You get in your car, knowing that you are going to get hit. When you get hit, you step on the gas pedal and chase the car down that hit you. You hope that you can exact some revenge. You feel good when you hit the person harder than they hit you. Quite a life philosophy!

I have always liked John D. Rockefeller’s thought on success. He once noted that the key to success is get to work early, stay late and it also is important to strike oil often!

DID YOU KNOW that the name “Jeep” came from the abbreviatiion used for vehicles in the army that were designated for “General Purpose” or as a “G.P.”?

And here is a pic o’ day from my Mom that made me laugh:

Inbred cat

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Another Health List

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

There are always lawsuits that give new subject matter for the blog. You probably saw the L.A. man who sued a casino for getting him drunk and causing him to lose $500,000. (LA Times) Sure, why not fail to accept any personal responsibility?

I decided that I really didn’t want to blog on that kind of negativity nonsense. Instead, how about another positive list?

Al Wentworth blogs for Yahoo with a list of 7 Simple ways to Get on Track to Better Health.  If you click the attachment, it will give you more discussion on this list. These are good reminders. Here are the seven; a much more positive blog topic!

1. Eat more produce

2. Learn how to locate sugar. “Sugar is a skin wrecker”.

3. Don’t skip meals. Helps get the metabolism revved up.

4. Snack strategically. Don’t snack more than 600 calories per day.

5. Track your progress. This is a reminder that I need to get a Fitbit!

6. Avoid liquid calories. Your body doesn’t even register them to fill you up. An orange is better than orange juice.

7.  Substitute sweets with better choices.

In my business, I see the effects of health difficulties. We may not be able to stay out of the way of someone who ignores a red light. We can put the brakes on bad choices for our health.

DID YOU KNOW that you can make a clock by using a copper wire, a penny and a lemon or potato. (Honestly, I read this and included it in the blog, but I wonder if someone is being funny. Otherwise, wouldn’t we hear the expression of “making clocks out of lemons” instead of “turning lemons into lemonade”?) When I typed “DID YOU KNOW” I felt like I should type “DO YOU BELIEVE?”.

For pic o’ day, I have posted this before. I am posting it again because it is one of my favorites.

Gift costume

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World’s Oldest Person Tips

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

If you are looking for advice to long life, you could certainly look  to a book or go to a doctor. You could also seek out the world’s oldest living person to ask her for the secret to long life.   That is exactly what one reporter did. (Yahoo News)

World's Oldest Woman Turns 115

Misao Okawa is a Japanese woman who just celebrated her 116th birthday on Wednesday. She has no special tricks to share, for a long life.  Her secret: “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time. You have to learn to relax”.  She also makes sure to eat Sushi at least once a month, so perhaps she could throw something in there about her life-long eating habits.

When she was asked by the reporter for the U.K. Telegraph to describe her happiest and saddest moments in life, She described her marriage and the birth of her two children as her happiest. The saddest was when her husband passed away in 1931.  Her surviving children are 92 and 94 years of age. She obviously passed some longevity tips on to them.

DID YOU KNOW that David Prowse was the actor in the Darth Vader suit in the Star Wars movies . Throughout the filming of the first movie, he spoke all the lines in each scene. It wasn’t until he saw the movie that he realized that his voice had been fully dubbed over, and James Earl Jones was the voice of Darth Vader.

And for pic o’ day:

Late for work


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Habits of the Happy

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

The snow coming down from the sky has a refreshing feel to it. Then, as you look out the window, the white across the yards and trees looks like a postcard picture. Yes,  that was my initial reaction. Then, I soon tired of that sight when we had to close the Richmond and South Carolina offices. At that point, I just wanted “normal”. Enough of the snow.

Admittedly, I experienced a rollercoaster of moods during our snow. That “cabin fever” feeling.  My escape to Virginia Beach was a welcome respite. It was interesting to see almost a line of demarcation where the snow started and stopped.

Because of my moods, I admit that I went looking for some happiness articles. Plus, for the blog I do enjoy lists because even when I skim them later, I seem to always find something.  I wish I could claim this as my own original list. Instead, it comes from a website called  that always includes some positive articles. This article is titled  ”7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People”.

Author Gregory Ciotti has listed his list of 7. I suspect that we all would have a different list. Still, looking at the Ciotti list that I have condensed just a bit, gives some positive thinking material on this Monday.


1. Be Busy, But Not Rushed

Research shows that being “rushed” puts you on the fast track to being miserable. On the other hand, many studies suggest that having nothing to do can also take its toll, bad news for those who subscribe to the Office Space dream of doing nothing.

The porridge is just right when you’re living a productive life at a comfortable pace. Meaning: you should be expanding your comfort zone often, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. Easier said than done, but certainly an ideal to strive towards.

Feeling like you’re doing busywork is often the result of saying “Yes” to things you are not absolutely excited about. Be sure to say “No” to things that do not interest you. The goal is to say “Yes” to the right things.

2. Have 5 Close Relationships

Having a few close relationships keeps people happier when they’re young, and has even been shown to help us live longer, with a higher quality of life. True friends really are worth their weight in gold. But why five relationships? This seemed to be an acceptable average from a variety of studies. Take this excerpt from the book Finding Flow:

National surveys find that when someone claims to have 5 or more friends with whom they can discuss important problems, they are 60 percent more likely to say that they are ‘very happy’.

The number isn’t the important aspect here, it is the effort you put into your relationships that matters. Studies show that even the best relationships dissolve over time; a closeness with someone is something you need to continually earn, never treat it as a given. Every time you connect with those close to you, you further strengthen those bonds and give yourself a little boost of happiness at the same time. The data shows that checking in around every two weeks is the sweet spot for very close friends.

3. Don’t Tie Your Happiness to External Events

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. —C.S Lewis

Self-esteem is a tricky beast. It’s certainly good for confidence, but a variety of research suggests that self-esteem that is bound to external success can be quite fickle. For example, certain students who tied their self-esteem to their grades experienced small boosts when they received a grad school acceptance letter, but harsh drops in self-esteem when they were rejected.

Tying your happiness to external events can also lead to behavior which avoids failure as a defensive measure. Think of all the times you tell yourself, “It doesn’t matter that I failed, because I wasn’t even trying.”

4. Exercise

No matter how much you hate exercise, it will make you feel better if you stick with it. Body image improves when you exercise (even if results don’t right away). And eventually, you should start seeing that “exercise high” once you’re able to pass the initial hump: The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time.

5. Embrace Discomfort for Mastery

Happy people generally have something known as a “signature strength” — At least one thing they’ve become proficient at, even if the learning process made them uncomfortable.

Research has suggested that mastering a skill may be just as stressful as you might think. Researchers found that although the process of becoming proficient at something took its toll on people in the form of stress, participants reported that these same activities made them feel happy and satisfied when they looked back on their day as a whole.

Struggle is the evidence of progress.

6. Spend More Money on Experiences

Truly happy people are very proficient with what they spend on physical things, opting instead to spend much of their money on experiences.  “Experiential purchases” tend to make us happier, at least according to the research. In fact, a variety of research shows that most people are far happier when buying experiences vs. buying material goods.

Here are some reasons why this might be, according to the literature:

  1. Experiences improve over time. Great experiences trump physical items, which often wear off quickly.
  2. People revisit experiences more often. Research shows that experiences are recalled more often than material purchases. You are more likely to remember your first hiking trip over your first pair of hiking boots (although you do need to make that purchase, or you’ll have some sore feet!)
  3. Experiences are more unique. Most people try to deny, but we humans are constantly comparing ourselves to one another. Comparisons can often make us unhappy, but experiences are often immune to this as they are unique to us.
  4. We adapt slowly to experiences. Consumer research shows that experiences take longer to “get used to.” Have you ever felt really energized, refreshed, or just different after coming back from a great show/dinner/vacation? It is harder to replicate that feeling with material purchases.
  5. Experiences are social. Human beings are social animals. Did you know that true solitary confinement is often classified as “cruel and usual” punishment, due to the detrimental effects it can have on the mind? Experiences get us out of our comfort zone, out of our house, and perhaps involved in those close relationships we need to be happy.

7. Don’t Ignore Your Itches

This one is more anecdotal than scientific, but perhaps most important.

When the magazine Guardian asked a hospice nurse for the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, one of the most common answers was that people regretted not being true to their dreams:

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

And for pic o’ day, I am including a picture from my Mom. Certainly,  love is a good emotion for happiness!

Singing Love Dog

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Nobel Remembered

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Let’s start out the Monday morning blog with something unrelated. When you read that first sentence, does that make you feel like this is Groundhog Day because I regularly have unrelated stuff in my blog?

This weekend I was at Virginia Beach, where the snow was still built up around the roads and down on the sand. When I looked out my window, I saw a snowman down by the water. I took a picture that is very difficult to see but still proof.



I realized that a snowman deserves to go to beach like everyone else. Isn’t that quite the discovery? My snowman discovery segues to the personal discovery of Alfred Nobel.(Wikipedia)

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist/engineer. He had initially devoted his life to the study of explosives and to the safe manufacturing of nitroglycerine. In 1867, after several experiments that even included the death of his brother in a shed explosion, Nobel invented and then patented dynamite as a safer explosive alternative to nitroglycerin.  It was used in mining and had use in war.

In 1888, Nobel unwittingly learned what others thought of him, when his brother passed away. A French newspaper mistakenly thought that it was Alfred Nobel who had died and erroneously published Alfred’s obituary. In the obituary, it described Alfred Nobel as “the merchant of death is dead”. Nobel  was greatly saddened when he “read his obituary” and realized  that dynamite and explosives were going to be exactly how he would be remembered.

When Nobel signed his last will and testament, he set aside the bulk of his wealth and estate to establish Nobel Prizes to be awarded each year. These prizes were to be awarded  in a number of categories that relate to cultural and/or scientific advances, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

Between 1901 and 2013, I count 869 Nobel Prizes being awarded. Each recipient  receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that amounts to about 1.2 million dollars in U.S. money.  Now, Nobel has accomplished his wish.  He is no longer remembered for his invention of destruction. Rather, for his long-lasting contribution in honoring those who have accomplished and made great discoveries in their specific fields.

DID YOU KNOW that over 7000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians bowled on alleys similar to our bowling alleys of today.

And for pic o’ day, some would say that shoes are the greatest invention:


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Finding an Excuse

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

When I say “a life of excuses”, does someone automatically pop into your head? Always an excuse for being late, not arriving or not bringing something, and it seems to be the same person.

Last week, I was in our South Carolina office. It is a reminder of how technology has changed. No matter where I sit, even at my kitchen table, I can look at the activities of a file and even negotiate a case. It’s why we work so hard to make sure that notes are documented. As an old lawyer used to say, If it’s not written down… it didn’t happen.

The American Bar Journal put a together a list of reasons that have been used by lawyers. There were many, but they streamlined these excuses that were used in court or related to a court filing:

• Bales of hay fell off a trailer, blocking the road.

• My dog ate my filing.

• I picked up a stray coonhound that had been “skunked.”

• I broke a bone in my hand after angrily hitting the steering wheel.

• There was an eviction notice on door of my kids’ day care.

• There was a live bat in my bathtub.

• A small plane went down at the one entrance / exit of my apartment complex.

• I was holding my cat when he got spooked and slashed my neck.


And, for Pic O’:




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Categories : General Law, Misc., Web/Tech
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A Friday “From the Notebook”

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Several people have recently asked me, “where do you get the ideas for your blog?”. Well, this Friday blog is a perfect example. I regularly come across things that are blog possibilities and I put them in an email folder for later reading. Then, this happens. I find several things that just never made it to the blog, so then I have “stuff” for a Friday “Smorgasbord”.  Here we go:


Recently Canadian resident Micahel Hallatt was sued in Federal Court in the state of Washington, by grocery store chain Trader Joe’s. Hallat would buy thousands of dollars of merchandise and drive it to his store and then resell the items for a profit.

His store name… Pirate Joe’s. Trader Joe’s has filed a lawsuit alleging federal trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive business practices. According to Trial Magazine, when Hallatt was asked whether he was worried about the lawsuit, he told the reporter, “This is a little bit David versus Goliath and a little bit Occupy Grocery”.

Let’s change directions. According to, golfer Gary Player has settled a million dollar dispute. His former friend (not paying money probably caused the former) was going to sue Player for 3.3 million if he did not pay him. He claimed that he loaned Player money in 1999 and he would not pay him back. Now, it is all resolved… confidentially.

A total of 1146 applicants passed the recent Virginia Bar exam. That was a little over a 75% pass rate.

I could keep going with stuff, but that’s enough for now.

DID YOU KNOW that reindeer like bananas. Now that is some real Friday randomness!

And for pic o’ day, this just made me laugh:

poodle owner

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