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Archive for The Human Spirit

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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Bully Punishment

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

     An Ohio man claims that a Judge’s punishment has ruined his life. From WKRC-12 comes a story of the Ohio bully.

     62-year-old Edmond Aviv has feuded with his neighbor for the past 15 years. The most recent issue related to neighbor Sandra Pugh’s vent dryer which was irritating Aviv. He continued to complain of the putrid smell and decided to blow the smell back on to her property. So, he hooked up kerosene to a fan for that purpose.

     Ultimately, Aviv was charged and pled guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. His neighbor claimed that she was fearful of him because of that and many other instances. There had been evidence that he had spit on her, thrown dog feces on her windshield and once even smeared feces on the wheelchair ramp that was used by her adopted children, who live with cerebral palsy.

     After Aviv pled guilty to the charge, the judge ordered him to also serve 15 days in jail and undergo anger management classes. Aviv also had to issue an apology. He did that. What bothered him most was that the judge also made him stand for five hours at a traffic intersection with a sign that read, “I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in”.

     Aviv claims that, “The judge destroyed me”. He also felt that it was unfair that the judge made him stand in the intersection with the sign, after cars came by and continually beeped their horns at him. Several pedestrians even stopped to take his picture.

     His neighbor has still expressed her fears to the judge in a letter. She wrote, “I am very concerned for the safety of our family”. She said that she just wants to live in peace. For now, they continue to be neighbors. And, this story became a national news story.

     For pic o’ day, here is a pickpocket:


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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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Just Care and Incorgnito!

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Thursday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch had an article written by their food critic that also had a good life lesson reminder. Dana Craig wrote Richmond Servers, Please Get Your Act Together.

Her article was a challenge to restaurant servers to just care. As she put it, “ we don’t want our entrées served while one of our party of two is in the restroom. We don’t want to see you sitting at a nearby barstool, gabbing it up while we pile used plates on the edge of the table, praying you’ll notice. And we really don’t want to summon the check by breaking out flares to draw you to our table.” Then, she goes on to list some basics that servers should take to heart.

Craig concludes her article with the advice, “most people don’t return after a meal marred by bad service. First impressions matter, and servers are the front lines of a restaurant’s reputation. Your position is important, so treat it that way. Your diners — and tips — will thank you”.

The service industry includes the practice of law. These same principles apply to our firm. In fact, these same thoughts apply to most people. I nodded my head when she wrote about these basics in the restaurant business. In life, doesn’t  it feel good when you are dealing with a business that cares!

Here’s a Friday DID YOU KNOW? A child’s superman costume had a warning attached to the package that stated, “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly”… Yes, we knew that!

From the world of Facebook a couple of others comes pic o’  of “Incorgnito” that cracks me up:


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Josh Izenberg’s “Slomo”

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

This blog takes us a bit off the beaten path to an article that I am posting from the NY Times. From the Opinion pages comes a documentary by Josh Izenberg titled Slomo. (also here at Slomothemovie)

The article describes and includes the movie about a doctor named John Kitchin who had become board certified in  Neurology and Psychology, but was not happy chasing a life of possessions and materialism. One day, while in the lunch room, he saw a man in his nineties who just kept piling food on his plate and looked immensely happy.

Dr. Kitchin looked at him and asked his age. The man smiled and told him he was ninety-three. Then, Dr. Kitchin decided he would kind of poke at him by asking, “How does a strapping young man like me, get to be an old codger like you?”. The man’s response, “Do what you want to”.

That poignant answer stuck with Dr Kitchin. Sometime thereafter, he began to have vision issues and was having problems recognizing faces and reading x-rays. At some point, Dr Kitchin left the practice of medicine to pursue a simpler life that includes a lot of rollerblading along the Pacific Ocean boardwalk.


That’s a small sample of the movie. If you click on the attachment, you will see the 16 minute movie on his journey and why he is now so happy. If you can’t click on it, then I will just give you the short version: He is happy. He left behind his chase of possessions and now lives in a studio apartment along the beach. His only major expense is skates. A reminder that happiness is not found in things.

DID YOU KNOW that honey is the only edible food that will not spoil?

For pic o’ day… a dog telling a joke:

Labra humor

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Allstate’s Mayhem Story

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Yes, I admit it. I enjoy the Allstate Mayhem commercials. During March basketball, Allstate has aired the ad that tells us  ”It’s March, It’s Mayhem” during the tournament.  The campaign first premiered in June of 2010. Mayhem is played by veteran actor Dean Winters . More on him in a bit.


I enjoy the commercials of Mayhem wrecking havoc as a reckless maid, or a team flag, or a Christmas tree that falls off the car. There is also a running gag throughout the campaign;  Mayhem sports the damage and injuries that he sustained in the previous spots such as scratches on his face or rips in his suit. For instance, he has bandages on his face

Allstate claims that it airs this campaign because it wanted to focus attention on the benefit of insurance protection while adding the humor of things Mayhem says like,  ”please don’t take my aggressive tailgating the wrong way. I’m just more important than you”. Or, when a tree falls on a car, ” Yes it was a bad storm. But look on the bright side, now you get that sunroof that you always wanted.”

The topic of insurance coverage would be a good blog topic. However, for this blog, I am focusing on the story of Dean Winters and how he managed to rebound from true Mayhem in his own life.

Prior to signing on as Mayhem, Winters had appeared in many television series that included Oz, 30 Rock, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Rescue Me. For me, when I saw the Mayhem commercials, I knew that I recognized him but I could not place from any specific TV show, and I did not know his name. He had not yet arrived to a steady Hollywood income.

On June 19, 2009, following the shooting of a Pilot titled Happy Town, Winters contracted a bacterial infection. He became increasingly sick and collapsed upon the arrival to his doctor’s office. While being transported to the emergency room, his heart stopped beating for a total of two and a half minutes. After paramedics revived him, he remained in intensive care for three weeks.

Over the course of the following year, Winters continued to experience continuing problems that included developing gangrene, which led to the amputation of two toes and half of one thumb. Thereafter, he endured ten subsequent operations that included a skin graft. Because of his illness, he was replaced in Happy Town , and he was away from acting for over a year. Then, Tina Fey brought him back to work on her 30 Rock series, which led to his Mayhem character.

I do like the Mayhem character but I think I am most impressed with the Winters’ story. He has faced obstacles and overcome them and now he is playing a character that shows that we need insurance protection from these obstacles and mishaps. At the same time, it is estimated that he is earning in excess of a million a year at Mayhem. He also joked in an Ad Age interview that “I wanted to become an actor so I didn’t have to put on a suit and sell insurance”.

DID YOU KNOW that ancient Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone? The Egyptians believed that the head was an important spiritual and life center for the body. Pillows were not necessarily for comfort as much as protection. Wealthy Egyptians also had pillows carved out of wood to allow for good air circulation.

For pic o’ day, I would call this “no responsibility”.

no responsibility

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Baseball and Schedules

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Today is the first day of the Major League baseball season. There was a time that many would take the afternoon off from work to either go to the game, or go home to listen to the game on the radio. Kids would take their AM radios to school to sneak a listen. That was a time when baseball was truly our national pasttime.

Today, many don’t even know that this is the start of the season. The start of a 162 game schedule. A time when everyone starts with hope and a belief that this is the year that they can win it all. At least that’s the way a fan feels. The beauty of fandom.

A 162 game schedule. That is a lot of planning and travel. Yet somehow, all the players will get where they are supposed to be because of planning.

That brings me to a book written by Mason Currey ( titled Daily Rituals:How Artists Work. It describes how 161 of history’s most creative and influential figures structured their days. It shows that there is no one specific prescription for getting things done, but it also shows that each person had a very specific set of rituals that they followed for getting things done.

I won’t try to summarize all of the various stories; but some include author Victor Hugo, who would be awakened by a gunshot every morning and then take an ice-cold bath on his roof.  Composer Ludwig van Beethoven started his breakfast with coffee. He would first count out 60 coffee beans, as it was his belief that a cup should be made from that exact amount of beans, which he would first count by hand before making the cup of coffee.

According to Mason Currey,  creative routines  ”In the right hands, can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of limited resources… a solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies”. The attachment is worth a click, to see an interesting description of the book if you can’t read all the 161 rituals. Maybe the official baseball scheduler has an amazing daily ritual to accomplish such an organized feat.

DID YOU KNOW that there are four baseball bats that are showcased in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s traveling exhibit Baseball As America?


From left to right: The bat that Babe Ruth used to hit his 60th homerun in 1927; Roger Maris’ bat used to hit his record breaking 61st homerun during the 1961 season; Mark McGwire’s bat that was used to hit his 70th homerun during the 1998 season and Sammy Sosa’s bat used when he hit his 66th homerun during that same season. Curiously, most believe that the McGwire and Sosa bats are as close as either man will ever get to being in the Hall of Fame,  because of steroid use allegations.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting one that I think  I might have previously posted. Still I think that I need Weight Watcher Cat after all the food I ate during the seminar this past weekend!

Weight Watcher cat

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Occam’s Razor

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

I was reading a book on my iPad.  One of the characters explained his decision in the story by calling it an “Occam’s razor”. I read it again. I had never heard of that term. So, I clicked out of the kindle app and to the Internet. There, I googled Occam’s razor.

Within seconds, I knew that it was a term that stood for reasoning based on mathematics. Why to choose the simple rather than the complex. Soon, I was back to my book.

When I walked into the house yesterday, I started to wash my hands at the sink and look out the back window, at the trees. My eyes focused on a strange-looking bird with a red head.


That sent me scurrying to my iPad to look up a bird that looks a bit like a cow. No easy answer. Then, I typed in “red-headed bird” and saw images that popped up. Sure enough, there it was: the Red-headed Woodpecker!    red head

“I’m headed to the law library” is something that I used to say a lot when I was a legal intern. Usually, one of the partners had given me a motion or brief that I had to write; so I was off to the law school library. When I was first licensed as a lawyer, I still had to head off to the law library for research. Even for my own cases, always in search of that case that was in state, that could be argued as precedence to the judge. If I couldn’t find it, then I would look out of state for a case that would at least offer some persuasion. It’s what they taught us in law school to do.

Now, I can’t remember the last time that I went to the law library. It’s all easily accessible by computer. I don’t need to collect massive amounts of books that need updating each year. Instead, I just pay a fee for all the lawyers in the firm and we have access to all the caselaw. Everything is right at our fingertips. The practice of law has been changed by the ease of technology.

I guess it’s a bit like Occam’s Razor. Just looking for the simple. Now, I can use that term in a sentence… instead of wondering if Occam had a beard!

DID YOU KNOW that Abdul Kassam Ismael, the Grand Vizier of Persia in the tenth century, carried his personal library with him wherever he went?  It took 400 camels to carry 117,000 books. (That probably should be titled “How could you know”)

And for pic o’ day from Amy M:

no touching

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Five Thoughts on Social Security

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It is very difficult to make anything about social security sound real interesting for a blog. Unless you are considering whether to go on social security now, you probably have already averted your eyes. Just give it a shot!

To try to keep your attention, I thought about throwing in some discussion about whether the show Idol was going to get canceled or whether Selena Gomez is making a big mistake. Even that is not going to spice up a social security blog. Maybe those topics sound more boring than social security.

So, let’s get started and I will make it short. Maybe this is one to refer back to in 5, 10 or 35 years!

Something to think about: If you claim Social Security at age 62 you’ll get just 75% of the monthly benefit you would have received had you waited until full retirement age. But if you wait until age 70, you’ll get 132% of what would have been your full retirement age benefit. That assumes that nothing changes between now and then.

From, Robert Powell has listed “Five Strategies to get the most Social Security“. The easy thought is that it pays to wait. Still, here are his “Five” for blog thought:

1. Take it seriously. Once you choose to begin, it is very hard to take the choice back.

2. Don’t use your break-even age. The attached article lists several mathematical calculations for “when”.

3. Focus more on the longevity risk. Living longer than projected life expectancy is a great goal, unless the social security choice has created a life choice catastrophe that leaves “not enough”.

4. Consider personalized life expectancy. The article includes a life expectancy calculator for living to the age of 100.

5. Stay flexible. It is hard to be certain about something with so many uncertainties. As author Powell suggests, “The best advice someone planning their retirement income can be given is be prepared to be flexible”.  Pretty good advice for life too.

DID YOU KNOW  that the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” uses every letter in the alphabet.

And for pic o’  day:


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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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