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Archive for The Human Spirit

Tuesday Traveling

Monday, November 16th, 2015

I am coming back from some work in West Virginia. I so enjoy downtown Charleston. Not a vacation spot but a good stop-by.

I will be back in the office this afternoon, so I thought I would post a pic o’ day that made me smile!



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The Power of a Toy

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

A couple of days ago, we had a photographer at the office to take updated pictures of the lawyers at the firm. They told me that I couldn’t use a picture that was taken of me wearing a cowboy hat… that was taken 10 years ago!

It’s crazy how that works. I remember looking at that picture after it was taken and thinking that it was a terrible picture. Now, it looks a whole lot better!

It’s also why I always say that people getting married should eat as often, and as fast, and as much food as they can before they get married. That way, throughout the years, as friends come into their home and see those pictures, they will most certainly hear the remark, “you look so much thinner now!”.

Despite my wishes for the cowboy hat photo, my picture was also just taken for our website. We are working on a website update.  That’s because social media and online marketing have become just as, or even more important than television advertising. And I am still a big believer in TV advertising.

That brings me to a story about advertising that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics and discussed on It’s titled Fast food TV ads influence a child’s restaurant choice. It is a researched explanation on the influence on where families end up eating, and why.

A new study shows that the more frequently that a child sees a fast food advertisement that involves receiving a free toy, the more likely that a family eats at that restaurant in that “free toy” TV ad. According to the study, 79% of all fast food ads targeting children  usually appear on only 4 TV networks.

For the study, researchers enlisted 100 children between the ages of 3-7. At the time, they found only two nationally recognized fast food restaurants that were directly targeting children in their ads.

In short, it was overwhelming from the study that children were asking to eat at those two fast food restaurants, causing the parents to also eat fast food. Out of the children in the study who received a toy with their food, those same children asked to go to both of the restaurants. Meaning, more fast food!

To further explain in the article, Jennifer Edmond of the Geisel School of Medicine says that because of the findings of the study, she now recommends that parents switch their child to commercial-free television programming to create a situation where the children will not pester their parents for fast food.

I guess less free toy advertising makes everyone healthier in the family, and it serves as a good advertisement for Netflix and Amazon programming!

And our pic o’ day:


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How About Some Drone Law?

Monday, November 9th, 2015

When Amazon announced that they were going to be making home deliveries by using drones (Fox News), I just kind of dismissed it. Sure, I thought, why not have Amazon pigeons deliver Fig Newtons.  Then I started receiving shopping catalogues with personal drones for sale. Now, I realize that the pigeons are out of business.

Which leads me to “whatever happened to the Kentucky man” William Merideth, who was arrested in July ( for shooting down a drone? He claimed that it was flying over his property?

By review, the “drone owner” claimed that he was taking pictures of a friend’s house for him. Meredith claimed that pictures were being taken of his 16-year-old daughter who was lying out by the pool.

Meredith got his shotgun… and boom, end of drone. Merideth was arrested for destruction of property.

At the end of October, a district court judge dismissed the charges (NBC News), on the basis that drone slayer Merideth had the right of expectation of privacy and that the evidence showed that the drone was hovering over his property. The drone owner says that this matter is “far from over”. I say, “where are the Fig Newtons?”

And for pic o’ day, it’s selfie time:


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Williamsport to Hershey

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

This is a story that winds through Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and then wanders through Hershey, Pa. Then, it ends with fortunately not boarding the Titanic after purchasing a ticket. How is that for wandering?

First, I went to Williamsport on Sunday, to speak at a 60th Anniversary celebration of a church that my grandfather started. You can see that the platform is on high alert because of some of my unpredictable stories down memory lane. But, it was a treat for me to remember my grandfather and grandmother.

EBC 6oth speaking

And since Williamsport is close to Hershey, (unless you measure in candy bar units), on to Hershey and why I have mentioned the Titanic.

Hershey cancelled

This is a check (taken with my cell phone) that Hershey wrote, to put down a deposit for a state room for boarding on the Titanic that launched on April 10, 1912, with 2000 passengers. This $300 deposit wrote in December 1911,  is worth approximately $7281 today.

Hershey had founded his Chocolate Company in 1894 and had just begun to mass-produce chocolates and distribute them in 1907. So, around the time that he wrote this deposit, he was just really gearing up the business. For instance, during World War II, the Hershey company provided Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars to all the troops through the entire war.

It wasn’t until after 1918 when Hershey transferred all his assets to a trust; that such things as the town, entertainment complex, the Milton Hershey School, and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center came into existence. (Milton S. Hershey Wikipedia)

I took this picture of the check while touring the Hershey Archives because one of the workers pointed it out, and then explained that Hershey and his wife were to have been on that fateful ship, but had to cancel at the last moment because of work duties that called him back home. He and his wife left on an earlier ship.

Obviously, Hershey came to that fork in the road…. and made the right choice. The Hershey company doesn’t necessarily credit the hand of God or Providence, but they do quickly mention “What if?” Hershey had been on that ship. We may not have Hershey bars today!

As a side note,  history records that there were six other prominent people who missed that fateful ride, who had been booked on the Titanic. (listed here)  These other six included J. Pierpont Morgan and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.


And then I conclude this with:  it’s good to go away… but it’s always good to come home!


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Sisyphus and His Pride!

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

In Greek mythology,  the story of Sisyphus is supposed to teach us about character… and that stories back then were crazy. He was smart. Too smart for his own good.  (Wikipedia)

As the story goes, he foolishly thought that his cleverness surpassed the mighty Zeus. He constantly was plotting behind everyone’s back until he made the final misstep of divulging one of Zeus’ secrets.  If you click on the link, you will see how his pride, plotting and deceit finally  caught up with him. As punishment,  Zeus had him dragged to the underworld for an eternity of punishment.

According to the story, to this day he remains there, rolling a heavy boulder up a steep hill,  just to watch it roll back down.  As he keeps pushing it up, it rolls down again; which requires him to eternally to do it all over again. I suppose it’s where people get the expression about feeling like “I just keep pushing that boulder up the hill”. The feeling  of movement, without getting anywhere.

The story even has characters like Hermes… who is really remembered as a brand or a handbag.

I am thankful to feel productive and enjoy what I do. I should also be thankful that my parents did not name me Sisyphus!

I incorporate that because I am currently am on a trip in Pennsylvania, and should be back with the blog on Thursday. The wheel keeps turning! This is a great Monday!!!!

And for pic o’ day… team reading!


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Ghost Evidence

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Doing a story on the Greenbrier Ghost seemed liked an appropriate start to this weekend! Sadly that tells you that there is a  scary ending instead of a happy ending of Zona Heaster Shue. But it does include the courtroom. (Wikipedia)


Edward Stribbling Trout Shue (In all stories, maybe we shouldn’t ever trust a 4-name person ) was a drifter who came to the County of Greenbrier looking for work. Soon he was working as a blacksmith. Not long after his arrival to town, he met Zona. They fell in love and were married… despite the objection of Zona’s mother, who had taken an instant dislike to this man.

The couple lived peacefully until January 23, 1897. That’s when 21-year-old Zona Heaster Shue was found dead in her living room.  Local physician, Dr. George Knapp, examined the body and determined that Mrs. Shue’s death was due to an “everlasting faint.” Her body had been found by a young boy who had come to the home on an errand. She was found lying at the foot of the stairs, stretched out with her feet together and her hand on her stomach. She looked “comfortably dead”.

The doctor was summoned; But before he arrived, her husband had moved her body to the upstairs bedroom and placed her on the bed. He then prepared the body for burial, normally a job for the women of the community, by washing the corpse and then dressing her in a high-necked dress with a stiff collar and then placed a veil over her face.

When the doctor did arrive, he only did a cursory examination of the body because Shue was cradling his wife’s head and sobbing. The doctor noticed but did not follow up on the bruising that appeared to be around her neck.

The doctor later amended his findings to include  that the death included “and childbirth.” Her husband of 3 months kept an amazing vigil over her body and would let no one near the coffin.  At the funeral, locals later testified that they noticed that her neck did not look normal against the pillow in the casket.The matter was “laid to rest” when Zona was buried.

According to  Zona’s mother; four weeks after the burial, she woke up in the middle of the night to a chilly room and found her deceased daughter standing at her bedside. ”Her daughter” then told her over the course of 4 nights,  “I was murdered, Momma—Trout strangled me!” She went on to describe that he had gone into a fit of rage over her not cooking meat for dinner, and he then choked her so hard that it caused her neck to break.

The  mother was so convinced that this was not a dream that she went to the local sheriff and begged him to investigate her daughter’s death as a murder by Trout Shue. The sheriff reluctantly agreed, and Zona’s body was exhumed.

Zona’s body showed that she had a crushed windpipe and a broken neck. Trout Shue was charged with murder.

At the trial, the judge was determined to keep out any evidence of the “ghost story”. The prosecutor was determined to just stick to the evidence. Despite the judge’s attempts. the mother discussed her “daughter’s visits”.

It became clear that the jury believed the mother. Trout was convicted by the jury, and sentenced to life in prison. When the story of that trial is told, it is also concluded that Trout Shue was the only known case in the U.S. where a ghost’s testimony allegedly helped to reopen an investigation, and then identify and convict a murderer.

Have a great weekend and be safe out there!


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Jury Rights and Comforts

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

An article on jury service grabbed my attention when it mentioned a judge handing out chocolate chip cookies. Plus, I refuse to acknowledge why Twitter is so fascinated with Baby Hitler. So,on to the cookie story.


But first, some background … no, not on the cookies!

It’s exciting to think that a prospective juror would show up with excitement to hear a case. The reality is that they feel inconvenienced; angry at the parking; and hopeful that they get to go home early.

In Greenville, South Carolina, a jury panel shows up to the Courthouse and is directed to the basement. There, they are asked to watch a film on jury duty that was recorded several years ago. Usually, there are at least 100 people gathered on folding chairs in that room.

Soon, lawyers with cases that might be called during that term are brought downstairs to watch all the jurors stand, and be called by name.

The first time that I participated in that process, I realized that unless I had a photographic memory, I wasn’t getting much by watching over 100 people stand and sit. I suspect that it feels very impersonal for the prospective jurors as they popped up and down while their name was called.

Arizona is the only state that I know, who formally has enacted a Juror Bill of Rights. It begins with the statement that JUDGES, ATTORNEYS AND COURT STARFF SHALL MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ASSURE THAT ARIZONA JUROR ARE… and then it lists twelve items. The first involves courtesy and respect and the last involves being paid.  Yes, that statement is printed in all caps. I didn’t want you to think that I was hollering.

A District Judge in Sioux City, Iowa, is also taking treatment of jurors very seriously. He says that he uses the acronym WWJW as an approach to jury trials, and he means by that What Would Jurors Want?

In an upcoming article that he has written for the Arizona State Law Review, he is proposing his own Bill of Rights for Jurors. Here is a condensed version of his list:

1) The right not to have their time wasted with “unnecessary, cumulative and excessive evidence.

2) The right to be told during jury selection in civil trials exactly how long a trial will last, minus the time for deliberations. Bennett and his law clerk use an online chess clock to measure time limits during the trial.

3) The right to have plain-English jury instructions before opening statements. Bennett’s instructions “come complete with a meaningful table of content, bullet points and white space.”

4) The right to have their judge “thoughtfully consider innovations that enhance their experience and the fairness of the trial.”

5) The right to “juror creature comforts.” This includes comfortable seating and nutritious snacks. Bennett bakes cookies for the jurors in trials lasting four days or more.

Not sure that the cookies count as nutritious… but I know some folks who would sit on the jury for a day. Of course, I know a few who can’t stand chocolate. For them… maybe a Flatbread pizza! Maybe there is a good movement afoot for making jurors happy!

And  now to our pic o’ day from my Mom:


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You Can Observe A Lot By Watching (Yogi)

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Have you been watching the political debates? I have been interested to see the popularity polls after each debate. The TV political pundits will tell us what we just saw on the debate, and then tell us who won. Then, the polls tell us who really won the debate. In many instances, the pundits got it wrong. (That word pundit is sometimes a slam and sometimes a compliment)

So far, during this Presidential campaign, it seems to be beneficial to have no political experience. For the Republicans, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carla Fiorina are leading the polls. Very diverse backgrounds that include everything but political office.

That brings me to Jeb Bush, who apparently is taking the brunt of having political experience. Instead of being the anointed one like most initially thought, he is now scrambling for viability.  So, he has taken on a new strategy of claiming experience… while being an outsider.

He has seen the Trump/Carson/Fiorina effect and he wants in on it. As he burns through political cash, his donors are reportedly getting anxious. They call it the campaign burn rate. How much do you spend compared to what you take in from donors. For Bush, his September rate was 85% intake to spending. That’s high! So, what’s the new strategy?

Bush recently told supporters that he is such a Washington outsider, that he wouldn’t be able to drive a car in downtown D.C. because he knows so little about the area. Now that has got to have impact for voters… if you are planning on being a taxi driver.

Since I am a Washington Wizards fan, I can navigate D.C. pretty well. Plus, it helps to have numbered and alphabetical streets, and then there’s that new-fangled thing called GPS. Of course, Jeb’s father was the Vice President for 8 years, and then the President for 4 years. His brother was the President for 8 years, so it’s understandable that Bush wouldn’t….. wait a second, it’s not understandable.

The point of all this is that being real seems to be in season right now. Most of us have just about had enough. When we hear Hilary Clinton say that she is going to be more spontaneous on the campaign trail, it made me remember that old slogan, “be sincere, whether you are or not”.

Being real… it makes me want to get up and announce that I plan on being two inches taller tomorrow. And I decide to be more spontaneous because my pants will be too short.  Of course maybe Yogi Berra had it right when he said to Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours. That’s what I call real right there!

And our pic o’ day, speaking of driving:


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A Job Well Done

Monday, October 12th, 2015

     Yesterday morning I was drinking my coffee and getting ready to jump on an exercise machine. At the same time, I was scrolling through my emails and noticed the NY Times had arrived in my in-box. I guess I was looking for distraction and delay from my workout.

      I scrolled down the stories and saw this headline in the obituaries : Jerry Parr, Secret Service Agent Who Helped Save Reagan, Dies at 85.

     Parr was just a few feet away from President Reagan when John W. Hinckley Jr.  opened fire.

                                 (From the Associated Press)


This is this part of the obituary that was lifted out of his memoir, that says his courageous thoughts and motivation when he heard the gunshots:

When he was about probably six or seven feet from the car, I heard these shots,” Mr. Parr said in a 2013 interview promoting the memoir he wrote with his wife. “I sort of knew what they were, and I’d been waiting for them all of my career, in a way. That’s what every agent waits for, is that.”

After the shots rang out, Parr grabbed President Reagan and shoved him into a waiting limousine. Parr then shouted at the driver, “Take off!”. At that point, Parr thought that they were clear of the scene and no harm had been done, until he turned to see the President spitting up blood. That’s when he told the President, “ We’re taking you to the hospital”.

Here’s the kicker to that, as listed in the obituary. His fascination with the Secret Service began when he was nine. His father took him to see a movie Code of the Secret Service. The movie starred Ronald Reagan as Agent Brass Bancroft.

When Parr’s wife was interviewed, she summarized by saying that “He felt very satisfied with his work. He felt like it was a great privilege”. A good thought for all of us!

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


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The Present and the Future

Sunday, October 11th, 2015




That starting blog picture makes me laugh. It reminds of the time that a Richmond man (Richard Sharp) told me about a new business that he had invested in, and how it was going to be big. It turned out to be the business of Crocs. Sure enough, his look into the future was telling.

The future is something that is we are told to plan for, while being mindful of the present. That means pay bills while planning for retirement. It sounds awfully mature.

Which brings me to an article in the Spartanburg newspaper ( 5 things ‘Back to the Future II got right about 2015′. That movie is now being discussed because it is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary and because of its prediction about the Chicago Cubs. So, here are the 5 things that it told us about the future that aren’t part of the future anymore:

1. Drones:  In the movie, drones are shown walking dogs. Now, with Amazon discussing drone delivery, dog-walking doesn’t seem so outrageous

2. Video phone calling. At the time, that seemed pretty futuristic. Now, almost anyone with a mobile device has the ability to see the person on a call. Of course, technology will still not change that many people do not want to be seen.

3. Hoverboards: Michael J. Fox aka Marty McFly, zoomed around on something that looked like a skateboard, above the ground. Seemed silly at the time. However, the technology is here and a company called Ax Pax has brought its Hendo Hoverboard idea to reality.

4. The love of sequels: The movie was a sequel. Still, it made fun of movie sequels by talking about Jaws 19. That didn’t come to pass, but we are all familiar with many sequels including such movies as Fast and Furious. It seems that is probably around number 19 by now.

5. Fingerprint scanners: In the movie, people didn’t need keys. Homes were equipped with fingerprint scanner doors. Now, that just seems old-school. What’s next?

What hasn’t come to pass yet is the prediction in the movie that the Chicago Cubs would finally win the World Series. And now, the Cubs are matched up against the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. (Game 3 tonight. They would need to win this series and the next series to get to the World Series this year)

What does the future hold? Well, as we continue to plan at the Firm, I am reminded that The secret of the future is hidden in your daily routine. (Mike Murdock)


And for pic o’ day I am getting started on the costume theme! Not too far into the future!!



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