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The Controversy of Choosing to Die

This blog reminds me of the expression of the dog trying to catch a fly. I think you might have this same expression at the end. Most of the time, I like to write on positivity. Once you read the article and blog, you tell me!

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At age 104, scientist David Goodall has decided to end his life. At BBC.com, he details why he is ready. According to the article, the well-known ecologist and botanist is not suffering from a serious illness, but he now wants to end his life. Why? Because of his diminishing independence.

David Goodall has bid farewell to his home in Australia to fly across the world. He reports that “My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights including the right of assisted suicide“.

He told ABC News that he hoped that people would understand his decision. “If one chooses to kill oneself then that’s fair enough. I don’t think anyone else should interfere.”

This is how he looks now, and this lady is accompanying him on his trip to Switzerland. That’s where assisted suicide is legal.

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He looks fully functional, but he feels like he has had enough. The article details all the things that he has done recently, including editing a 30-volume-book on the topic of Ecosystems of the World.

I thought I would post this as a topic today because it deals with something that most people want to ignore… death. Plus, there are true differing opinions on whether a person should be allowed to determine the choice of when they die… versus leaving death to determination by God. There is a lot packed into that last sentence. Pretty intense!

I found this article to be extremely interesting because this man is not terminally ill. He just feels as though he has had enough.

And now, I want to lighten up the blog a bit. So……

For pic o’ day… who doesn’t want a pony?

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A Bit of Confusing History?

It’s fair to wonder, “If they can give us an extra hour on Saturday night, why not an extra hour every night?”. I have no answer for that, but it certainly would give me an extra hour to be on my iPad each night. Right? And why wouldn’t I want to sleep more fitfully by looking at a lighted screen about 8 inches from my eyes before fading right off to sleep. But… I digress.

Which leads me to some “computer humor” that was posted by my friend, Ken Price. (must give him appropriate credit)

Boss: How good are you at PowerPoint?

Me: I Excel at it.

Boss: Was that a Microsoft Office pun?

Me: Word

As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “that’s funny right there“.

And now on to our blog about body parts. Let me post these three “thoughts” without initial comment, and then I will comment. I just couldn’t bring myself to title the blog Two Brains and a Body. The pictures/posts probably say and source it better than an attachment, so here goes:

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Next falls under once was a conspiracy but this is a real explanation on what happened that day. I can imagine that Bobby Kennedy thought that he was just looking out for his brother’s legacy:

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And finally, this is interesting history that also let’s us know what was a possible fear of George Washington, and how a friend looked out for him:

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I post these three “in death” facts without real answers as to why. They all fall under the category of the macabre. Partly because I have always wanted to use that word in Our Blog.

What do you think about this history?  I started this blog with the thought of picking up an extra hour every night. Then somehow, I managed to focus on odd things after death. I guess it’s the subconscious saying “More Time”. Or maybe I am just fascinated with it all… and I don’t really understand why we moved our clocks back.

And for our pic o’ day, after those pictures I needed something that makes me laugh.

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And now

Last Words

I always try to give you something to think about for the blog. Especially a mid-week blog.

James D. French was executed in Oklahoma in 1966He had been sentenced to jail with a life sentence but couldn’t bear it. So, he wanted to commit suicide but was but was too afraid. He concocted a solution to his fear. He murdered his cellmate so that the state 0f Oklahoma would execute him.

Sure enough, he was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. At his execution by electric chair, he was asked if he had any final words. His reply?  How’s this for your headline… French Fries.  

Steve Jobs’s sister claims that his last words were Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow. Now, people wonder what he saw before he died.

Surgeon Joseph Henry Green was checking his own pulse as he lay dying. His last word… Stopped.

Poet Emily Dickinson was famous for phrases as “it is better to be the hammer than the anvil”. He last dying words… I must go in, for the fog is rising.

Inventor Thomas Edison awoke from a coma, opened his eyes and said these words before dying, It is very beautiful over there.

Something to think about for the blog… Last words.

And our source of wisdom in pic o’ day…

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Overcoming the Emotion of Revenge

 

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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Hiding In Iraq

Greg Brown had worked in Florida in the family business of private investigation. He moved to Virginia and in 2008, he decided to open up his own  investigation company with the help of his stepson. To help ends meet, they also would serve lawsuits as private process servers.

In 2011, attorney Sherwin J. Jacobs of Harrisonburg, called Brown and asked him to come by the office to discuss some work. Jacobs then described a domestic case in which he had recently been hired. Attorney Jacobs asked Brown to follow Canadian citizen Ali Abid. Abid’s wife had told Jacobs that her husband was cheating on her and she even knew where his girlfriend lived. Abid was a former Iraqi national who now ran a construction company in the Weyers Cave area.

The plan was to have Investigator Brown actually serve the divorce papers on Abid at his girlfriend’s house. On  the morning of March 3, 2011, Brown left a voicemail for his stepson, to let him know that he would be late for their scheduled meeting that day because he was following Abid. Brown never showed up for his meeting. For the next three days, the family worried because Brown had disappeared. Then, his car was found in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Harrisonburg. In the trunk they found Brown’s body.

Brown had been shot three times. One of the shots was determined to be in close contact to the back of his head. On the same day that Brown had disappeared, Abid had withdrawn $11,376 from a bank and then traveled to Dulles Airport. There, the FBI determined that Abid had taken a series of flights to Iraq. To date, he has not been found. He is currently facing a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. In addition, Interpol has placed a computerized “red notice” to indicate an arrest warrant.

Court documents show that Abid has been in financial difficulties for some time. In 2009, American Express took a $22,000 judgment against him; In 2001, Augusta Medical Center filed a warrant in debt relating to medical bills; There is currently a case pending against him in Augusta County that was filed by Federal National Mortgage and his home is facing foreclosure proceedings. Abid’s bank was also in the process of repossessing his truck. Brown’s family (pictured below from nationalpost.com) are asking for help in the capture of Abid.

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With the information now known about Abid, Brown’s widow has now filed suit against the lawyer that hired him to follow Abid and serve him with divorce papers.  According to the lawsuit, the lawyer knew that Abid was dangerous including the knowledge that Abid had recently purchased a gun. The lawyer failed to warn Brown despite knowing that Brown had made repeated attempts to serve the divorce papers, which also gave Abid knowledge that a process server was looking for him.

Initially, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush dismissed the lawsuit against the lawyer, because she found that the allegations in the suit failed to establish a “special relationship” between lawyer and investigator that created a legal duty to warn that it was “reasonably foreseeable by Jacobs as an imminent probability of harm” to Brown, in following and serving the defendant. Now, the Brown family attorney  (former Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain) has appealed that dismissal to the Virginia Supreme Court. There is no real prior case law that would address this as a claim for failure to warn a private investigator. A case with more to follow.  (Portions of this story also came from Virginia Lawyers Weekly)

DID YOU KNOW that Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, claims to have gotten his first shoe idea after staring at a waffle iron? Bowerman credits the idea of using squared spikes from the iron, to help make shoes lighter. I wonder what he would have invented if he had been staring at a baked potato?

Pic o’ day… a pony never goes out of style!

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Energy Drink Lawsuit

A reporter at Guardian.com reminds us that caffeine is a substance that is consistently underestimated. Unless, you rely on it in the morning and you have to go without for a morning.

In addition, extra doses of caffeine have become a true economic boom to certain manufacturers. When someone discusses the amount of caffeine that they consume each day, they usually recite the amount of coffee cups that they drank that morning. In fact, that may not be a real indication of too much caffeine.

As indicated in the pasted article, a Scottish reasearcher and his colleagues bought 20 expressos from different coffee shops. They found a tremendous deviation for caffeine content.

When someone opens a can of Monster Energy drink, they can hear the hissing sound normally reserved for a carbonated soda. When they pour it into a glass, it looks like a yellow ale. Its taste is syrupy sweet with almost a hint of the can. It’s logo and slogan tells us to “unleash the beast”. In 2011, it surpassed Red Bull beverage sales as the highest selling energy drink, according to Beverage Digest.

Maryland teen Anais Fournier drank a can of Monster Energy on December 16, 2011. The next evening she drank another can while with friends at a mall. Each contained 240 mg of caffeine. A few hours later, she was home watching a movie with family when she fell unconscious. At the hospital, she was in cardiac arrest. Six days later, she was taken off life support. According to the coroner, her cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicitycomplicating mirral valve regulation in the setting of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome”. The finding was that she had a pre-existing medical condition that was triggered by the caffeine.

The article lists several stories of injury and death that are connected to energy drinks. In November of 2012, the FDA released a comprehensive list of “adverse event reports” that were customer complaints over a period of eight years. These were events and deaths that people considered to be related to energy drinks.

Despite health concerns, there are few warnings related to these drinks. They are unregulated and sales are not restricted. Teenagers are being targeted to purchase and drink these drinks and there is no oversight or accountability. That’s why the full pasted article at the top of the blog, is a good start, if you want to read about the concerns of the FDA and the events being reported.

A lawsuit styled Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier v. Monster Beverage has been filed in California. The lawsuit  against Monster  makes claims for strict product liability, failure to warn and negligence in the design, sale and manufacturing of the product.  Wendy Crossland’s mother was quoted as saying what a lot of people have been thinking, “I was shocked to learn that the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks. With their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers. These drinks are death traps for the young… I just want Monster Energy to know their product can kill”.

It’s hard to post a pic o’ after that kind of serious topic. Still, I don’t want to end the blog on such a down note and negotiations are certainly a part of it!

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“Pleased With The Outcome”

2 Timothy 4:7 Gives us Paul’s view of his life when he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”. Paul saw his life as complete.

I usually glance through the obituary sections of a few newspapers each day. Sometimes you can learn a lot about a person  in a few paragraphs. Yesterday, I felt that way about James B. Lusk,  Jr., because he had written his own obituary. It reminded me of Paul’s words in 2 Timothy.

Mr Lusk started by writing, “If you are reading this, I, Jim Lusk, have flown from this earth for the final time on Feb. 13, 2014. These paragraphs will serve the custom of announcing my death and comment on my family and my life.”

The next paragraphs included a discussion of his life and family. He then ended his obituary with, ” There should be no sorrow at my leaving for I have led my life to the best of my ability and am pleased with the outcome.”

When I read those words, it made me think. It also challenged me. Many times in my representation, I am required to introduce a life expectancy table for the jury to consider in determining damages. A measure of life.  Both Paul and Mr Lusk took a measure of their life and found it with an ending of satisfaction.

DID YOU KNOW that Roman civilization invented the arch… McDonald’s made them golden.

And for pic o’ day we have a dog who is looking for satisfaction in life:

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The 7 Million Dollar Surprise

     Walter Samasko Jr,. was known as a recluse. I typed that because it sounds like being a “friendly stranger”… but I digress.

     He passed away in his Nevada home (story) in May, but his body was not discovered until June. (I think that’s a pretty good sign that he kept to himself). What else he kept is really the subject of the blog.

     At the time of his death, he had $200 in his bank account. He had lived modestly on income that was generated from $200,000 in stock investments.

      As his house was being cleaned for sale, they found among cans of tuna fish that he had stored gold bars and gold coins in the garage and house. The coins had been minted in such places as Mexico, England, Austria and South Africa. Some dated as far back as 1872.

     There were so many coins that the Carson City court clerk used a wheelbarrow to haul the gold to a truck for deposit and safekeeping. At the time of Samasko’s death, he had no will and no close relatives. His mother has died in 1992.

     Using a list from those that had signed as attendees at his funeral, the clerk tracked down a first cousin that was living in California. When she was told about her unexpected inheritance, she could only exclaim, “oh, my God. Oh my God”.

     She had not spoken to Samasko in over a year. No one knew that he was hoarding gold among the cans of tuna. Especially shocking was that they were worth an estimated value of $7 million dollars. It’s a story that almost sounds like something from the movies.  A surprise inheritance from a man who collected coins: who took no time to draft a will and apparently lived a life where a month could roll by without anyone noticing his death.

     For pic o’ day I looked for the joy of simple things (or maybe this is just simple!) :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     And being surrounded by friends:

Wills, Estates and Frequent Flyer Miles

Imagine everyone gathering around the holiday table. Conversation turns personal. Someone asks, “Have you ever talked about what will happen to your frequent flier miles when you die?” You’re right, no one will ask it. In fact, it’s outrageous. Except, the NY Times just did an article on it suggesting that people should consider their mileage, when they consider estate planning.

Here is a short version of the discussion in the article. Some airlines allow you to transfer your mileage and some do not. Airlines that allow it: American, US Airways and JetBlue. Those that don’t allow transfer: Delta and United.

United suggests that if you know the password of a deceased loved one, that you just log in and make a reservation for yourself. Something seems a bit seedy about that.

Estate attorney Mark Gold suggests listing  in a will the passwords, frequent flyer miles and accounts, and hotel points, and then all bequethed. He suggests the following document language: “I give and bequeath the miles or points in my American Airlines AAdvantage account, my Starwood Preferred Guest account, and all other loyalty, mileage and points or similar accounts to (insert)”.

I remember interesting cases during law school that became part of our study in the class of “Wills and Estates”. Beyond that, I always admit that this is a topic of constant change. Plus, states do have different ways of treating estate divisions. Having said that, I still find this topic a bit unusual. But, I guess that it can amount to a great deal of worth. So, no reason to waste a trip!

Speaking of frequent, here is a pic o’ day of shopping:

Sorority Hazing Lawsuit

On November 20, 2010, Victoria T’nya-Ann Carter was in the backseat of a car that was headed to a pre-dawn hair appointment. That was an unusual time for a hair appointment, but it was based on her soon-to-be induction into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. (Newsobserver.com)

Unfortunately, Carter never made it to that appointment, because the car she was riding in careened off a North Carolina Road and slammed into a tree. She and another East Carolina University student were killed. Now, a lawsuit has been filed against the sorority, with a claim that this single-car accident was caused by a hazing initiation, that led up to that ride.

The driver of the car has already pled guilty to two counts of misdemeanor death by a motor vehicle. The Carter lawsuit, brought by her mother, claims that the driver was suffering from “excessive and overwhelming fatigue, exhaustion and sleep deprivation”. Ultimately, she “fell asleep behind the wheel”.

Following the crash, University officials conducted their own investigation. The investigators could not get the sorority to cooperate in providing information from its members. The sorority was immediately put on probation by the University.

It was later learned and according to the lawsuit, the following are the facts that led up  to the crash: 17 pledges were required to live together in a two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment. There, and with the specific intent, they had difficulty getting sleep. They were also required to perform exercises that consisted of doing “wall sits”, which meant holding their backs against the wall in a seated position for long periods of time.

The pledges were also forced to stand on one leg and hold heavy bricks over their heads for long periods of time, while being subjected to ridicule and humiliation from the “Big Sisters”. They were forced to rub hot sauce on their lips and drink a “Delta Apple” which was made from a large raw onion. They then were made to eat large amounts of cottage cheese and drink buttermilk.

The nights and morning before the crash, the pledges had been perfecting the sorority “probate death march” and were kept awake. Then, they were sent for  6 a.m. hair appointments. The lawsuit claims that the sorority caused the events that led to the crash and should therefore be held accountable.

I am sure that the defense attorneys for the sorority will defend the claim by pointing the finger of responsibility away from the sorority, and to the driver. When I read the lawsuit, I see peer pressure that led to the crash. It was a recipe for disaster. Hopefully, this will have some long term impact on what is condoned at Universities.

For pic o’ day, I post a picture that seems to indicate some employee anger… I’m making that mental leap.

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