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Archive for The Human Spirit

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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A Bit of Advertising Advice

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

When I first started advertising for the law firm, I received a lot of advice. Most of the advice from lawyers was… stop. Years later, I probably have gotten more conservative in my advertising ideas. Today, after many years of advertising, I am asked by young lawyers to give them some advice on whether to advertise. My advice is the same as I would have given to a first year lawyer named Joel… yes.

In that genre, here is an MBA Professor’s advice on marketing, to his students:


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Overcoming the Emotion of Revenge

Monday, June 23rd, 2014


Strength for the Journey pointed me to the story of DeForest Soaries who faced great adversity growing up. At one point, a gang of five took him to a vacant lot, dragged him out of the car, and put a gun to the back of his head. It was going to be a  drug-related shooting. Just as they were about to shoot him, one of the gang saw a police car.

Concerned that the policeman would hear the gun shot, they dragged him back to the car. Nearly five hours later, their “gang boss” told them to let him go. The five threatened that they would come back later to get him.

Years past by, but DeForest never forgot that day and his brush with death. Fortunately, he went to college and also made room for God in his life. He did not allow the emotion of revenge to set him back. He did not worry about the five returning.

The story of DeForest Soaries continued as he got a bachelor degree, Masters and a Doctor of Divinity. In fact he has also received five honorary Doctorate degrees from other institutions. He has served as Secretary of State in New Jersey. He is now the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens.

In the story of his life, he says that a time came when he saw the man that had held the gun to his head. He saw him after finishing up a speaking engagement. Instead of running, he went up to the man and hugged him. He had no revenge in his heart.

Recently, I was discussing a client’s damages from a crash. At one point, he interrupted me when we talked about the concept of mental anguish. He told me that he did experience emotional ups and downs but that he did not hold any anger against the driver that had caused his injuries. When I heard the story of Soaries, I was reminded of that client. He was not going to be held prisoner to the emotion of revenge. Instead, he was focused on getting better and moving on.

Josh Billings said that “there is no revenge so complete as forgiveness”. Douglas Horton reminds us that “while seeking revenge, dig two graves…one of them for you”.

DID YOU KNOW that Cinderella’s slippers were originally made out of fur until the story was changed in the 1600′s by a translator? I guess that’s where the expression comes from, “I love your fur slippers.” Wait… I’ve never heard that expression.

And for pic o’ day, a timely one on Facebook:


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The Injustice of Lettre de cachet

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

In our Monday morning attorney meetings, I always ask the firm lawyers, ”who has a jury trial this week?”. Then, I ask those responding to describe their cases and the witness that they intend to call .

The day before trial, we usually get the jury panel listing that describes the jurors that will be hearing the case. Officially, everyone wants a fair and impartial jury. The reality is that you really want to pick jurors that will be fair and impartial… as they rule for your client!

In all of that, I am always thankful that we have the ability  and right to try the case in front of a jury and not just in front of a judge. Out of 144 countries, we are the only country where juries determine justice.

The complete opposite of a jury trial is the form of “justice” that prevailed in France in the 14th century. It was called Lettre de cachet. French legal scholars described it as the ” king is an emperor in his own kingdom”. It was an order which contained the legal and permanent will of the king and affixed with the seal of state by the chancellor.

This order was used for determination of civil matters, but it was primarily used to initiate or imprison individuals. There was no legal mechanism for appeal. Probably the most bothersome part of this form of “justice” was that wealthy families or individuals could pay the king to issue these orders for wayward family members or for adversaries to be imprisoned. Money could truly buy “justice”.

Just another reminder of how fortunate we are to have a jury system.  It is why Thomas Jefferson acknowledged that “justice by the people” is  “the fundamental law of society” and that ”every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone”. (spoken by Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours in 1816)

And our pic o’ day:

for food

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Loving the Animals

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

A while back, I indicated in a claim settlement package that my client had suffered emotionally, when her dog was hurt in the crash. I know that it was a bit unusual to include that in a settlement package. However, when the adjuster completely discounted any consideration relating to the emotional impact of watching your dog get hurt, I knew that the adjuster was not a “dog person”. Sure enough, he did not have a pet.

That caused me to do a little research on our love of pets. Psychologists tell us that 80% of dog owners buy their dogs a present for holidays and birthdays. More than half of them sign letters and cards from themselves and their pets. When I read that, it confirmed my belief that the adjuster was in the minority!

dog sitting

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The Smiling Reminder

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

I seem to keep getting drawn to lists. Plus, the last days have included rain storms that can make you want to snuggle, read a good book, nap or just stare at the rain drops;  but it doesn’t lend itself to breaking out into a smile. In fact, some would say that it brought out a bit of anger or sadness with the lack of sunshine.

angry horse

I think that I have blogged on smiling in the past. Still, despite the rain, reading these facts about smiling from this article, reminded me of the benefits of smiling. Plus, just seeing a smile seems to pick me up a bit.



Here is  their list for reasons to smile, with facts on smiling.:

1. Smiling fights stress. When you smile, you release endorphins, aka “happy hormones, that change your mood and relieve stress.

2. Smiling makes you look more attractive.

3. Your first facial expression was a smile. Scientists believe that we are born with the ability to smile.

4. Think of smiling as an exercise. 53 muscles are used in smiling.

5. Smiling shows our range of emotions. There are 19 different types of smiles that range from polite smiles to heart-felt smiles.

6. Some scientists are so fascinated with the concept of what smiling does to the human condition that there is even a title for the study of laughter: gelotologists. (I would have guessed it was the study of jello)

7. Smiling can strengthen  your immune system and prevent colds.

8. Smiles are contagious. A Swedish study concluded that people have difficulty frowning while observing someone who is smiling.

9. Smiling is good for your career. Studies show that employers promote people who smile often in the workplace and smiling shows confidence. (I would be curious to know how they determined this finding)     AND FINALLY…

10. Smiling can reduce your blood pressure!

DID YOU KNOW that Friday October 3, 2014, is World Smile Day?

And for pic o’ day,  a bit of help in the kitchen:



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Trying to be Productive

Monday, June 9th, 2014

The Bible says in James 4:14 that, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  Accepting the reality of that should make us more focused on being productive with the time that we have.

When we try a case that includes a claim for a permanent injury, we have to introduce evidence for the jury to consider. That includes a Virginia life expectancy chart. Anyone can look at that chart and determine how many years that the law says that you are expected to live, for the purpose of calculating permanent damages over the remainder of a life.
Unfortunately, that life expectancy table is no guarantee. It usually surprises clients when I tell them that I am going to introduce it. In fact, I have had clients question the amount of time that the law recognizes as their life span and then exclaim, “Wow, I better get busy!”.
Many authors have written on the topic of productivity and efficiency. A recent article in titled “10 Lessons I Learned from a Year of Productivity Experiments”,  was written by a college graduate who decided, before joining the workforce , that he was going to make an obsessed study of articles, literature and books that discussed lessons on productivity.

I have heard that more people read lists as blogs, than other writings. In this instance, the author successfully puts together his list of ten, which does provide some thought-provoking consideration. The article includes discussion of the ten, but here is the abbreviated list:

1. Work on your highest-leverage tasks to become more productive. (the most value in each area of your life)

2. The three most effective tips are also the most boring: Eat well, Get enough sleep, exercise.

3. Always question blanket productivity advice. ( It’s ok to buck conventional wisdom)

4. Forming good habits makes you more productive automatically.

5. The three ingredients of productivity are time, energy and attention.

6. There’s no single productivity secret, but there are hundreds of tactics.

7.  Working too hard or too much shatters your productivity.

8. The best way to feel motivated is to know why you want to get something done.

9. Becoming more productive is pointless if you’re not kind to yourself in the process.

10. Productivity isn’t about how much you produce; it about how much you accomplish.

The author ends with having you ask yourself everyday, whether you did something valuable with a day of your life. Remembering that life is just a vapor is a good motivator for that thought.

DID YOU KNOW that  Confederate General Henry Heth’s life was spared because of a newspaper? In the Battle of Gettysburg, he was hit in the head by a Union bullet. At the time, he was wearing a hat that was two sizes too large. So, he had folded newspaper inside the band to make it fit. The paper deflected the bullet. The General was knocked unconscious by the force but he recovered and lived another 25 years.

And for pic o’ day:


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Two Circus Performers Sue

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

It would not surprise me to hear a judge on motion day exclaim that, “this is a circus”. A recent case listing in The Virginia Jury Verdict Reporter was right on point.  Two circus performers, whose act included juggling while riding on horses, recently brought a contract breach lawsuit against their former employer Ringling Brothers.

The two brothers from Hungary performed an act of juggling and comedy while performing acrobatics on horseback. a real “the whole enchilada” kind of performance. Their act was obviously circus-worthy.  They entered into a contract with Ringling Bros. and Barnum circus to perform. Then, the real circus began when they started performing.

Preceding the horse/acrobatics act was a tiger act. Not surprisingly, the performers were reminded that tigers and horses don’t mix well. In fact, one of the horses in the act named Cornbread, became especially spooked by the tigers and emotionally crumbled during the act (yes… I am getting carried away). During one of the shows, Cornbread became so upset that he trampled one of the brothers during the act.

The brothers knew that they had a major problem, so they went to circus management and asked to be placed in a different order of performance, to avoid the tiger problem. Management refused to move the order of their act. The brothers threatened to quit. The circus terminated their contract. The brothers sued the circus for breach of contract.

The circus defense was that it had the absolute right to determine the order of the performance of the acts. The brothers asserted that the tigers made it impossible to perform the act, as evidenced by previous performances. And, the termination of the act by the circus was not for cause; the only reason that the Circus would have had the right to terminate the contract.

The jury ruled in favor of the brothers. Each brother was awarded $57,200 in damages and an additional $26,400 more for a lease claim. The combined verdict totaled $114,200. And no, there was no offer to pay the verdict in popcorn and cotton candy!

DID YOU KNOW that President Richard Nixon banned soup from being served at state dinners because he was otherwise known to spill it on himself while eating.

Pic o’ day friendship.


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The Psychology of Us

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I am now back in the Richmond office. That just means I am in catch-up mode. Especially with a Monday holiday. So, the blog is also pic o’ day.

Take a look at the individuals tipping over versus the ladies staring and laughing. Some psychology at work. A caption for this might be, “If it’s you… that’s different than… if it’s me.”


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Lottery Winner: “Not going to change”

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

A sage lawyer told me a long time ago that when you ask a jury for money, you need to tell them how much you are seeking and what the money will be used for.  Jurors will hold the responsible party accountable but my experience has taught me that they do not believe that the jury system should be used as a lottery ticket. In some focus groups, I have even seen the word “lottery” used.

I was reminded of that lawyer’s advice that combats the concept that a verdict is an award. It is supposed to represent the jury fixing, helping and making up for what the defendant has caused. It should have no relationship to a lottery. That’s because we all have been irritated by stories of lottery winners and how their lives go south when they receive such winnings.  That’s why a recent Long Island resident lottery winner’s story caught my attention.

Cameron Finney (Newsday) recently won a New York State Lottery Mega Millions 20 million dollar jackpot. He has chosen to receive the lump sum after tax amount of 7.4 million rather than the lifetime payout. Since winning, he keeps saying that the winnings are not going to effect him. As he puts it, “I’m not going to change”. His wife even claims that he has wakened up in the middle of the night while mumbling, “I’m not going to change”. He claims that he does not want to be one of those winners who lives later reflect a life that lost.

Now, you be the judge of his recent actions. He is now going to quit his job as a hospital orderly. He is going to build his wife a new house. He just purchased a brand new Ram truck. But, he says that he is taking it slow. He is not going to buy the Bentley that he always wanted. He does want to make sure that he gives to some specific charities that have touched him. Still, he is determined to make sure that the money is “going to last until I’m gone”. Does this story fascinate you or irritate you? That’s the lottery!

DID YOU KNOW that Nutella was invented during World War II when an Italian pastry maker mixed hazelnuts into chocolate to extend his chocolate war ration? Application of the quote “Necessity is the mother of invention”.


And for pic o’ day, another funny from my Mom:

Dog on computer

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