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Archive for The Human Spirit

Excuses and Spins

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

In yesterday’s blog, I noted a defense lawyer’s creative defense for his client. It hardly even amounted to a creative excuse.

If you watched 60 Minutes on CBS the last two Sunday nights, you saw the Presidential candidates and their VP picks being interviewed. Both interviews provided reminders of how politicians have the ability to spin their stories with great excuses and ways of dodging responsibility. Who knew that filing bankruptcy or being criticized for email security breaches could be portrayed as something that is not important… or actually a positive lesson.

Which brings me to Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.   Jack Handey, as seen in that attached website, is a real person. But, Al Franken played the character of Jack Handy on Saturday Night Live, who supposedly dispensed wisdom for everyday living. Except, that it was nonsense wisdom. And, it was back in the day when Al Franken was a comedian who wasn’t funny, instead of a Senator  who isn’t funny. (If you saw his speech at the Democratic National Convention) But I digress.

Some of Handey’s supposed wisdom was directed at why he drank wine… or shouldn’t have. And then the excuse. It reminds me of the defense lawyer’s nonsense of a defense… just sayin’

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this wine, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, ‘It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.”

“See… there’s always a way to spin it”, says every politician.

And for pic o’ day, it’s all about the hug!



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Fake it… Till You Don’t Make it?

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Barry Bremen (wiki) was an insurance and novelty goods salesman. He became famous and known in the sports world as The Great Impostor.

During the years of 1979-1986, he pretended to be a Major League Baseball umpire during the World Series, a baseball player during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a player during an NBA Basketball all-Star Game, a National Football League referee, a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and even a professional golfer.

ESPN 30 for 30 films even did a story on his escapades. A guy from Detroit who was able to con his way into amazing situations in just about every sports venue. That’s why I thought of him when I read the following story about a “Pennsylvania Lawyer”.

A Pennsylvania “lawyer” has been exposed as a fraud. ( Kimberly Kitchen, who was supposedly an estate-planning partner at BMZ Law, was recently sentenced to two to five years in prison.  Here’s why.

She had practiced law for 10 years and was also a former president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association. Her biography listed that she was previously a legal secretary at the law firm of Reed Smith. That is a firm that has been on the other side of our law firm, in recent pharmaceutical litigation.

She claimed that she had graduated first from her class at Duquesne School of Law and even taught estate planning at Columbia Law School. She also claimed that she was “the best and biggest around”.

It all worked for 10 years until the winter of 2014. That’s when the Huntington Bar Association decided to create a listing of their lawyers, including their years of practice. Another lawyer compiling the listing stumbled upon her lack of a law degree. So no “biggest and best”.

Kitchen was convicted on charges of unauthorized practice of law, forgery and felony records tampering. She was accused of lying about graduating from Duquesne University’s law school and also faking documents to prove her bar membership. She fooled the entire community.

What was the defense of her lawyer? That she had provided good legal work and that her clients were happy. I guess if she had been a bank robber, he would have said that she drove a clean car away from the scene, and that she left everyone behind with a smile on their face. Gracious!

For pic o’ day, this one makes me laugh. It also makes me wonder who was taking the picture? As they say, “only hug a lion tightly”.



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Dog Lessons for a Friday

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Not everyone is a dog person, but the following did make me smile when I saw it. So, even if you are more of a cat person I hope you enjoy Some dog lessons for people:


I hope you have a great weekend!!!

And for pic o’ day, it seems appropriate to post one that I have posted before. This one always makes me laugh!

Dogs at beach

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The First Battle of Bull Run

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

This is one of those “history anniversary” days that I enjoyEd reading when it popped up today. On this day, July 21, 1861, the First Battle of Bull Run was fought. It is considered the first major land battle of the Civil War.

Although the Confederate army was outnumbered and found themselves at a distinct disadvantage, they managed to slow the Union army until reinforcements arrived. Then, they retreated to high ground at nearby Henry House Hill. That’s where Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson and his brigade of Virginians from the Virginia Military Institute stood their ground to meet the Union advance.

Confederate General Barnard E. Bee, in a shout to rally his troops, shouted, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!”.

From that point forward, Jackson was known as “Stonewall Jackson” and his brigade was called the Stonewall Brigade. IMG_0222

In the attack, the Union soldiers fled east toward Washington D.C., and it was then that the Union knew that they had a fight on their hands and that the Civil War would not be over quickly.

It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a Yankee or Rebel, you have to respect that grit!

And for pic o’ day, there’s always 2 ways of looking at life!


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The Mug Shot Curiosity

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Mug shots have taken on a life of their own. No, this is not a blog on coffee! It’s those pictures that are taken of people when they are arrested. In fact, newspapers sometimes even have an online section. (Example from Daily Press)

Public relations agents for celebrities are apparently telling their clients to make sure that they smile if they are arrested. Such as:








And then the infamous Nick Nolte:



If you click here, there is a whole collection of smiling celebrities. If you didn’t know where the pictures came from, you would think that these celebrities are the happiest that they have ever been. In fact… not so much.

That brings me to a recent Court of Appeals opinion from the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals . In a close 9-7 opinion vote, the court ruled that suspects have a privacy interest in preventing disclosure of their criminal mug shot photos that should be weighed against the public interest in receiving them. (Detroit Free Press)

This ruling only relates to Federal requests, and not to state courts. This federal appellate court noted that freedom of information requests (FOIA) allow federal agencies to refuse requests for law-enforcement information if the release could “reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The court ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Detroit Free Press, which had sought photos of four Michigan police officers charged with bribery and drug conspiracy from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The opinion of the appeals court said.

“A disclosed booking photo casts a long, damaging shadow over the depicted individual,” Circuit Judge Deborah Cook wrote for the majority. “In 1996, when we decided Free Press I, booking photos appeared on television or in the newspaper and then, for all practical purposes, disappeared. Today, an idle internet search reveals the same booking photo that once would have required a trip to the local library’s microfiche collection. In fact, mug-shot websites collect and display booking photos from decades-old arrests.”

In the dissent, Judge Danny Boggs wrote that, “Today’s decision obscures our government’s most coercive functions—the powers to detain and accuse—and returns them to the shadows.”

This is one of those blogs where the words get boring… but the pictures are interesting!

And for pic o’ day, some lion humor!


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Real Life in the Moment

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Sunday afternoon I was sitting in my office at home, at my computer, doing “a little work”. At the same time, I was watching the Baltimore Orioles play Tampa Bay. I find major league baseball relaxing… as long as the Orioles are winning. I admit that I was also periodically turning the channel to watch some golf. Maybe even a “periodic text”.

The Orioles are currently in first place in their division with the season a little over halfway over,.But on this day, they were struggling. They ultimately lost 5-2.

However, there was one encouraging moment in the game that became a human interest story. It made me stop and watch without distraction. It was the major league debut of Orioles lefty reliever Donnie Hart, who had just gotten called up after several years in the minor leagues .

Hart’s entire family was sitting together in the stands. The television cameras from the MASN network kept focusing on them. Hart’s sister was showing the excitement and stress of the moment. His parents were taking cell phone pictures and nervously rocking back and forth.

They saw the left-hander Hart retire two Tampa Bay hitters on six pitches, including a looking strikeout of the second batter. For them, in that moment, nothing else mattered!

I am often extremely irritated by insurance adjusters who belittle client claims. Many times, they merely view the case related to the medical bills. They forget that life revolves around the moments and cannot be measured by simply adding up medical bills with some pitiful multiplier!

And for pic o’ day, feeling positive:


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Some Politics

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

We are truly in the political season. Trump picking his Vice President, and soon Clinton will pick her VP. So I thought it would be timely to reference some of the words of John Adams, in letters to his wife Abigail:

First, Adams once complained that the task of cleaning up the President’s House, the first family’s official residence before the White House and after George Washington’s term:

Last night for the first time I slept in our new House. But what a Scene: The Furniture belonging to the Publick is in the most deplorable Condition. There is not a Chair fit to sit in. The Beds and Bedding are in a woeful Pickle. This House has been a Scene of the most Scandalous Drinking and Disorder among the servants, that ever I heard of. I would not have one of them for any Consideration. There is not a Carpet nor a Curtain, nor a Glass nor Linnen nor China nor any Thing. Dont expose this Picture.”

Despite using a bit of old English, it’s still a bad thing to have to stay in a place that is a “woeful pickle”. Like one of those scary hotels where you sleep with your clothes on!

Second, as to the office of Vice President,  Adams once described the office of Vice President as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”

And that’s some politics! I hope you have a great weekend!

Here’s a pic o’ day for the weekend that describes a “bad decision”:



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Yoga Viewership Lesson

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

This pic o’ makes me smile and feel positive on a Monday!


The Washington Post tells the viewing habits of  a popular video series ”30 Days of Yoga“. The article titled  This is what 5.8 million failures look like, also serves as a reminder about the difficulty of “sticking with it”.



Whether you are a fan of yoga or not, there’s an interesting life lesson from the human behavior of the viewership. The videos are a a collection of 30 tutorial videos that are meant to be viewed sequentially over the period of one month. The first video in the series has been watched over 6.2 million times. But as you look at the viewership count through the videos, you start to notice something: The number of viewers drops as the videos proceed through the “course”.

For instance,  there are 2.7 million views for video 2, which is half as many times as day 1. By day 3, viewership is down to 1.6 million.. By day 4, viewership falls more. The day 30 video has been watched only 323,000 times. That’s a drop of roughly 95 percent, compared to the number of people who watched the first video.

These statistics remind us of our New Years’ resolutions. We start out with enthusiasm and many times fail to follow through. Hard to have the compunction to finish!

Television shows usually tell a story in an hour or half hour. Whenever I see court/legal shows, I am always reminded that “it’s not like that in real life”. The real work on a case usually starts a year or two before it gets to the courtroom, and sometimes more. Last year, we finished up a project that lasted almost 10 years. In my world, you can’t lose interest or get lazy, or you will lose the case!


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No Jousting on Independence Day?

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Won’t it be exciting to attend the jousting this weekend. Wait? What? No Jousting?

On June 30th, 1559, King Henry II of France was celebrating his daughter’s wedding and that they were at peace with the Habsburgs. It was jousting! This would be his final match, as he was struck by a lance fragment to the head, which caused him to die a few days later. The death of a king was part of the motivation that caused jousting to be fazed out.

Today, July 1, is one of Canada’s most important national holidays. It’s called Dominion Day because on July 1, 1967, the Dominion of Canada was formerly created.

I point these out because we feel disassociated from both of these days. Neither effect us. The fact that the Battle of Gettysburg started on July 1, 1863 and became a turning point in the Civil War, doesn’t have much effect on us today.

Admit it, you were not thinking about the Battle of Gettysburg, right? And that had impact on us. You learned Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Right? Or, did you think that he just received mail at that address? See, no Gettysburg holiday.

I write this blog as the last, before July 4. It’s a day that means something to us. Partly because we all have off. But, most importantly, it’s Independence Day. The anniversary of the Second Continental Congress who adopted the Declaration of Independence that declared that the American Colonies were free and Independent states. Clearly, that has impact on us today!

So, there will be no jousting on the 4th, but we have lots to celebrate!

Have a great weekend and a great Independence Day!!!!!! These are the good days and it’s only going to get better!

And a holiday of independence causes me to go a bit pic o’ crazy…


















And finally….


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Mother of Invention

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Necessity is the mother of invention. I’ve heard that expression many but no one knows who came up with it. Maybe it was Plato. I guess it’s so necessary, it was just “invented”.

We just signed up a new client, who was knocked out at the scene of the crash. She does not remember how the crash occurred. It’s not unusual to have to investigate… and find out how. It’s the expression in action. Even when we don’t know how it happened, it’s our job to find out. Which leads me to a couple of examples of things that are still in our lives.

Benjamin Franklin had poor vision and needed glasses to read. He got tired of constantly taking his reading glasses off and then putting them back on.

He decided to figure out a way to make glasses that let him see both near and far. He had two pairs of spectacles cut in half and put half of each lens in a single frame. Today…we call them bifocals.

Here’s another example: Where did mayonnaise come from?

Mayonnaise is credited to the French chef to the Duke de Richelieu in 1756. While the Duke was fighting the British at Port Mahon, his chef was creating a victory feast that included a sauce made of cream and eggs.

When the chef realized that there was no cream in the kitchen, he improvised by substituting olive oil for the cream. A new culinary masterpiece! The chef named it “Mahonnaise” in honor of the Duke’s victory.


And for pic o’ day:


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