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Archive for The Human Spirit

Charles Whittlesey: What Happened?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

     Wednesday’s Our Daily Bread , with a look toward Labor Day, briefly recited the story of Charles Whittlesey.

      Whittle

      Whittlesey initially graduated from law school and joined a law firm partnership. However, he felt a duty to join the military when the United States entered World War I. He left his partnership and shipped to France as a captain.

     At one point, he and his battalion were behind enemy lines as he commanded 554 soldiers. They were cut off from supplies. At one point, his unit was dubbed the “Lost Battalion” because all contact with the U.S. Army had been lost.

     On October 7, 1918, the Germans sent a blindfolded American prisoner of war carrying a white flag toward the battalion. He was carrying a letter that said the following:

 ”The suffering of your wounded men can be heard over here in the German lines, and we are appealing to your humane sentiments to stop. A white flag shown by one of your men will tell us that you agree with these conditions. Please treat Private Lowell R. Hollingshead [the bearer] as an honorable man. He is quite a soldier. We envy you. The German commanding officer.”

     Whittlesey would not allow his men to surrender. Instead, he ordered that the white sheets that had been placed as signals to the Allied troops be removed, just in case the Germans would think that they were surrendering. That night, a relief force arrived and rescued the Battalion. Whittlesey received a battlefield promotion to lieutenant-colonel and ultimately received three medals of honor.

     He was considered a war hero of heroes. .

     His Wikipedia story summarizes the ending of his life with the following:

In November 1921, Whittlesey acted as a pallbearer at the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, along with fellow Medal of Honor recipients Samuel Woodfill and Alvin York. A few days later he booked passage from New York to Havana aboard the SS Toloa, a United Fruit Company ship. On November 26, 1921, the first night out of New York, he dined with the captain and left the smoking room at 11:15 p.m. stating he was retiring for the evening, and it was noted by the captain that he was in good spirits. Whittlesey was never seen again. He was reported missing at 8:00 a.m. the following morning. He is presumed to have committed suicide by jumping overboard, although no one reported seeing him jump and Whittlesey’s body was never recovered. Before leaving New York, he prepared a will leaving his property to his mother. He also left a series of letters in his cabin addressed to relatives and friends. The letters were addressed to his parents, his brothers Elisha and Melzar, his uncle Granville Whittlesey, and to his friends George McMurtry, J. Bayard Pruyn, Robert Forsyth Little and Herman Livingston, Jr. Also in his cabin was found a note to the captain of the Toloa leaving instructions for the disposition of the baggage left in his stateroom. He left the famous German letter asking for surrender to McMurtry.

     This life story of this hero is fitting as a remembrance, as we head into Labor Day. As Our Daily Bread referenced, Charles Whittlesey was publicly strong. Because he took his life, inwardly he must have been dealing with such emotions of despair.

     Maybe it’s a good reminder to us that just because someone says that everything is great, doesn’t mean that ”everything is great”. That they sure could use a word of encouragement. Also, that those returning from the battlefield many times need more than a welcome home.     

 

     I hope you have a great weekend. Back on Tuesday. 

     And for pic o’ day, I felt the need to go a bit on the light side… in changing places:

changing places

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Some Communication

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

During the Civil War, it was not unusual for newspaper reporters to cover the war by sending stories back to be published, while at the same time bringing news from home to the soldiers. A good form of communication.  Here’s a form of bad wartime communication as described by attorney Paul Luvera.

     President Franklin Roosevelt sent ambassador Winant to meet with Russia’s Molotov during World War II. In presenting Roosevelt’s message he opened with a few words of his own. He said he was going to “talk turkey on this issue.” Molotov interrupted with: “Turkey? What does Turkey have to do with the Baltic states?” The ambassador tried to explain patiently that “talking turkey” was merely an American expression meaning to talk seriously, but the suspicious Molotov could not or would not understand, and the meeting ended without any useful discussion of the presidents message. The ambassador never regained Roosevelt’s confidence after that.

     In our work as lawyers, I have heard the following simple communication rules:

Be calm; Be slow; Be nice.

Pretty good reminders for life. I hope you have a great weekend!

 

Napolean

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101 and Still Working!

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Here’s a story of sticking with it. (NorthJersey.com) Herman “Hy” Goldman just turned 101 over the weekend. That’s pretty amazing.

herman-hy-goldman     More amazing is that he has worked at his same New Jersey job for the past 73 years. And, he continues to drive himself to work in his 1999 Ford Contour.

Hy Goldman now works four days a week. He specializes in rebuilding items that were damaged or unusable at Capitol Lighting. Except for his brief absence from work to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II, Goldman has worked at this same light fixture company during his entire work life. The store initially hired him to sell items and stock and clean the displays.

 

DID YOU KNOW that Ivory Soap was originally named P&G White Soap? Thereafter, Harley Proctor was in church, reading the 45th Psalm and read the verse, “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.”. New name!

kitty

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Dog for Sale!

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
   This story is from my Mom… perfect for a weekender. The Talking Dog for sale!the one

 

 A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: “Talking Dog For Sale” – He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

‘You talk?’ he asks. 

‘Yep,’ the Lab replies. 

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says ‘So, what’s your story?’

first

The Lab looks up and says, ‘Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so… I told the CIA.

In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.’

 

 ‘I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running… But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in.

I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.’

‘I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.’

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

‘Ten dollars,’ the guy says.

‘Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?’

‘Because he’s a Liar.   He’s never been out of the yard’

third

 

 

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Coins of Settlement

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Insurance companies advertise how fast you can get a quote or how quickly you can get savings. But, here’s a new one. (LA Times) It relates to how they might pay.

Andres Carrasco filed suit against a California insurance company and its agent, relating to a scuffle between the man and the agent. According to the lawsuit,  Carrasco claimed that the agent physically assaulted him while removing him from his office, because of an argument over the cancellation of his insurance.

The company, named Adriana’s Insurance, decided to settle the lawsuit for $21,000. Then, they paid the settlement with buckets of loose coins. Carrasco’s lawyer,  Antonio Gallo, reported that the settlement by the insurance company was paid in more than 16 buckets of coins.

To top it off, Carrasco had recently had a hernia operation. “It’s too heavy,” Carrasco said, in reacting to why he did not appreciate the payment of settlement in coins. Gallo initially refused to accept the coin payment, but eight people delivered the coins the next day when Gallo was in court.

And for pic o’ day, speaking of a good story:

next

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Limitations

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

This week in Our Daily Bread, I was reminded of the method that some circus trainers have used to train baby elephants. Some call it the Elephant Principle.

To initially restrain a baby elephant, they tie them to a stake that is driven deeply into the ground. The elephant will strain in every conceivable way to break free, but learns that it cannot budge that stake. Finally, it gives up.

As the elephant grows older and stronger, its learned limitations cause it to no longer try to break free. It does not matter that elephants are the strongest land animal. Instead, trainers are able to tie these fully grown powerful animals to nothing but a small tent stake, because of their learned behavior limitations.

You probably can think of many applications to this principle. Those who have suffered abuse, carry that limitation with them as they get older. The simple concept of being told you can’t do something; or that you aren’t smart enough or that you don’t have the opportunities that those of privilege receive, can serve as a  limitation. You can’t do it. That voice in your head might be telling you to not even try.

A poor self image or a negative attitude can all be learned and become self-fulfilling prophecies. “I don’t get any breaks” or ”I’m just not lucky” become our emotional prison.

Instead, let me apply this positively to my life. When I am asked, “Why are you a lawyer?”, this is the real reason.

When I was seven-years-old, my T-ball baseball coach was a lawyer. I didn’t really know what that meant but I remember thinking that it was “pretty cool”. Here, I was playing for a team named the Fleas and my coach was a lawyer. I even remember that he “got stuck at the office” a couple of times.

I also remember that when the team t-shirts were delivered, there were two shirts that were defective. These two shirts had a patch over the original name where you could still see the printing of … the Wasps. So, it was the coach and me who ended up wearing the two defective shirts with a “Flea patch” . I thought that was “pretty cool” too.

By the time that I was twelve, I remember that my father used to say that I enjoyed arguing and that I should be a lawyer. As I grew older, both my mom and dad used to tell me that I could do anything and that I should be a lawyer.

They made me feel like I had no boundary or limitation. So… I didn’t. Because of the positive influence of a coach; and the reinforcement of my parents who made me believe that I could be anything and do anything  that I wanted to accomplish, I became a lawyer.  No emotional stake was going to hold me down.

DID YOU KNOW that the canning process for herring was developed in the town of Sardinia? That’s why we call them sardines.

And our pic o’ day:

brother

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The Scare of a Handshake

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Have you ever heard someone say that they wished for the good old days?  When a person’s word was their bond and that all you needed was a handshake.  Well, we are now being told what you probably suspected. That maybe we should question the handshake after all. Not for contract purposes, but for health reasons.

Here’s an article from Brewster Miller that discusses a recent British study  finding that fist bumping is better than handshaking, because it prevents the spreading of germs.  According to the study, many infections from the common cold can be passed via a handshake. Unfortunately, many people simply do not wash their hands. According to the scientists, fist bumping is only dry contact and the back of the hand has less bacteria compared to the palm.

I guess if someone sneezes and sticks out their hand to shake… it’s best to offer a fist? Maybe people will miss the old days when a person’s fist was as good as a contract?

DID YOU KNOW that the oldest known goldfish lived to be 41-years-old? He was named Fred. Yep, Fred the Goldfish.

And for pic o’ day, doesn’t this seem like a good “get-out-of bed” thought?

out of bed

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The Efficiency of Ben Franklin

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

In my practice, I do try to develop systems that make me more organized. Lists for tomorrow and my “To Do” list are regularly on my desk.  I even try to use electronic reminders from my computer and cell phone. Sometimes I accomplish the list and other times I just shake my head at the end of the day. That’s why I felt a bit encouraged when I read of Ben Franklin’s difficulties.

In his autobiography, Ben Franklin noted that he had developed a strategy to achieve moral perfection in a 13-week-plan. Each week was devoted to a specific virtue that he would track on his calendar.

He felt that his plan worked to a point, except that he felt like his organizational skills were lacking. His method of order was to “Let all your things have their places; Let each part of your business have its time”.

Franklin admitted that he had a great deal of difficulty keeping his papers and possessions organized. He tried to follow the following schedule, as recorded in his little book of virtues. This is his ideal routine that he attempted to follow.

franklin schedule

DID YOU KNOW that in 1968, the Big Mac was invented? Jim Delligatti was a McDonald’s franchise owner in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He got permission to market his new sandwich creation that he called the Big Mac Super Sandwich. It sold so well at his restaurant that it was sold nationwide the following year, in all McDonald’s.

And for pic o’ day,

hidden deer

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Nantucket Remainders

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I know this is off the beaten path of the legal blog; but now that I am back from Nantucket, I can’t help but post a couple of things that humored me along the way. Sometimes it’s the craziest things that get your attention on a vacation.

First, is this dog that was lying on the floor at the Nantucket airport.

Nantucket Dog

The dog seemed totally non-plussed when I knelt down to take his picture. I guess with hair like that, nothing else effects you.

The next picture is taken from a church  that was in the town. The message on this sign made me laugh.

Nantucket church sign

 

I think  this especially caught my attention because I was raised in churches where a thirty minute service would have been a comedy! This sign also brought back a good memory of my grandfather preaching. At some point in the sermon he would  usually say, “In conclusion”. That normally signaled that he had about 20 more minutes in the sermon. I remember that he would get some grief about that during Sunday lunch… which was always a “big roast beef and mashed potatoes”  type of meal. Such a wonderful childhood memory.

And for pic o’ day, how about a traveling cartoon.

traveling

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Traveling Ice Cream

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Ole Evinrude was sitting with his girlfriend in a small rowboat boat on Oconomowoc Lake, outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  His girlfriend told him that it was such a hot day that she sure would like an ice cream.

Ole dropped her off at a small island in the middle of the lake, and began paddling to shore. By the time that he had made it back with the ice cream… it had melted. So, Ole built a motor that could be attached to the rowboat. He didn’t want to be left with melted ice cream ever again! It also was what he credited as the reason that he started a company called Evinrude Outboard Motors that ultimately employed over 300 people.

DID YOU KNOW that Twinkies have a shelf life of about 25 years.

And for our weekend pic o’

cats tv

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