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Unusual Traffic Violation

KLAS (CBS Las Vegas) reports that a Las Vegas woman is complaining after receiving a $200 traffic ticket for applyingg ChapStick lip balm on her lips while driving.  State Trooper Lloyd Hixson cited her under a local ordinance categorized as Full Time Attention.

I have attached the article here because the story seemed a bit  unusual in driving safety enforcement. I thought it was like the old folklore story of the man who was supposedly  cited after he got up  from his Winnebago driver’s seat and caused a car crash. As the story goes, he put the vehicle on cruise control to go back and make a sandwich.

This is not like the old Winnebago sandwich story. It really is true.

According to the Trooper (Hixson), each ticket is issued on a case by case basis. Their intent is to stop distracted drivers and get their attention. According to Hixson, “One time I was driving down the highway and I saw a lady watching a movie on her iPad, and the iPad was attached to her steering wheel with Velcro”.

I guess that Velcro incident made him intolerant of Lip Balm and driving.

So, that’s the story of distraction and ChapStick. It seems pretty tough to lump that in with texting and driving but these national headlines may have a beneficial effect toward distracted driving.

And for pic o’ day, I can’t remember if I have posted this “Curmudgeon” before, but he makes me laugh:


The John Alleman Reminder

     This is a sad blog of personal responsibility. reports that John Alleman has been taken off life support and pronounced dead at age 52.

     That sentence probably doesn’t mean much to you if you don’t know who he is. I didn’t, until I read the story. Then, I realized that it was a story that was predictable and probably preventable.


     John Alleman loved the Las Vegas restaurant, Heart Attack Grill. In fact, the restaurant had designed T-shirts and logos that featured him. He was their unofficial mascot and even  featured in a cartoon for the restaurant as “Patient Joe”.

Heart Attack Joe

    The nighttime construction worker was never a paid employee, but he became famous because of his love of their food and that he was always there to encourage everyone else to eat the unusual items on the menu.

     The restaurant’s menu includes  the 9,952 calorie Triple Bypass Burger; the Flatliner Fries and the Coronary Dog. The Flatliner Fries are deep fried in pure lard.  For dessert, you can order the Butter-fat Shake made from butter fat cream, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors. In fact, the burger is listed in the Guinness record books as the “most calorific burger” and the menu even warns customers against eating it more than once a month.

     Despite all the warnings including being featured as a patient because of the menu, John visited the restaurant to eat there every day. A while back, the local newspaper interviewed the restaurant’s manager. He was quoted as saying that he had told Alleman that, “if you keep eating like this, it’s going to kill ya.”

     Alleman is the second Heart Attack Grill spokesman to die. In 2011, 29-year-old  Blair River also died from a heart attack. Still, the restaurant encourages anyone that weighs more than 350 pounds to eat unlimited free food; as long as they agree to publicly weigh themselves on an electronic platform in front of  all the other diners.

     It is this kind of mentality that has explained why people smoke cigarettes, despite the warning on the side of the packet. “It’s not going to happen to me”. This story is a sad reminder. Instead, it will probably cause the restaurant to do more business, sell more t-shirts and cause them to make a bigger burger.  Shouldn’t the restaurant have some responsibility or is it just a case of  “you don’t have to eat here”.

     For pic o’ day, Amy M. sent me another funny:


Legionnaires at the Luxor


      A few years back, I received an unusual phone call. The caller said that an injury happened at a hotel, while in a hot tub. I immediately assumed that someone had fallen.

     A husband and wife were in a hotel hot tub and had contracted Legionnaire’s disease from bacteria in the hot tub. The one was experiencing some significant symptoms including memory loss and dizziness. 

     At that time, I knew only a little bit about Legionnaires and how it attacked the immune system. I quickly googled it and was reminded that Legionnaires ‘ disease derived its name from a 1976 Philadelphia American Legion convention, where an outbreak occurred. Completely unexpected.

     After some quick research I was retained on the case. We ultimately resolved the case a couple of years ago. The injuries included of pneumonia and permanent problems of brain injury and  neurological deficits; all from a hot tub in an expensive hotel.

     Recently, the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, has been in the news relating to claims that guests have been diagnosed with Legionnaires disease. The Southern Nevada Health District has reported three cases in the past year. One man has even died.

     Water samples from the Hotel/Casino found traces of the bacteria in their water. Typically, the disease takes the form of a fever/pneumonia or an upper respiratory illness. Symptoms usually become prevalent within 2 weeks of exposure, which makes it harder to figure out the source. If antibiotics are not started quickly, then the mortality rate can be as high as 30%. Even worse in a hospital, where a person’s immune system is already potentially weakened.

     Usually during treatment, doctors ask about travel history. Poorly ventilated areas around water; or showers, hot tubs or heating/air conditioning  sytems can all be high exposure areas.

     Luxor Hotel has predictably gone into defense mode by quickly outlining all the steps that have been taken since the bacteria has been discovered. I blog on this because, after handling that case, it has made me much more aware during travel, to try to pay attention to ventilation issues in the room. Plus, I never consider it “an upgrade” when a hotel front desk tries to move me to a room that includes a hot tub. No thank you. I’d rather sleep in a closet size room.

     If you click on the disease attachment above, it will give you a much better description of the disease. It just wasn’t something that I thought about before that original phone call.

     Sometimes I find it very hard to switch to pic o’ day after a serious issue. But, then I realize I need a good smile.

The Sum of a Life

     The largest glistening Rhinestone Baldwin piano that is  in the world, a 1962 Rolls-Royce covered in mirrors, a hot pink turkey feather costume and a multitude of flashy capes, rings and matching shoes are just some of the items at the Liberace Museum. From room to room, there are bright items on display, that are collected from performances of the man that called himself  “Mr Showmanship”.

     Liberace turned piano playing into concerts where he ” played classical with all the boring parts left out”. Wikipedia describes his rise to fame and wealth, including  that he earned a record $138K in 1954, for playing one performance at Madison Square Garden.

     Critics would write about how simple his piano playing really was and that they could not understand anyone attending his show. He repeated that criticsm to a laughing audience on Johnny Carson, when he said that such reviews caused him to cry “all the way to the bank until he was able to buy the bank”.

     During the height of his popularity, he was earning large sums of money performing, while also selling such things as “Liberace Lasagna” and “Liberace Sticky Buns”. His television show regularly had over 30 million weekly viewers and he received in excess of 10,000 letters per week.

     Liberace had more money than he could spend and his possessions were only limited by his imagination. As a result, he opened up the Liberace Museum, in 1979, with his brother George serving as the Director.

     When I went to visit the museum, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I rode by taxi, with my wife, to a rundown strip mall on the outskirts of the Vegas strip. The tour guide told me that Liberace had wanted the public to share in his possessions. I felt like I was stepping back in time. The kind of feeling like I was living in black and white.

     The Museum had been endowed with 10 million dollars to make sure of its continued existence. There was a time that more people went to the museum than went to see the Hoover Dam. Now, few people speak of Liberace. Last year, less than 50K went to the museum. The endowment has shrunk to 1 million and last week, the museum announced that it was closing. After having gone to the museum a few years back, and now seeing this press release, caused me to blog about these events.

     If you go to the attachments to this blog, or google the many stories of Liberace, you will find a life lived in excess. Now, things are just left and apparently, people no longer want to pay to see those things.

     At the conclusion of a jury trial, the jury is asked to consider damages suffered and harms caused. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life are just a few of the losses considered. In a trial, the size of the verdict is usually not very large, when based on property damage or a loss of possessions. Liberace is an example of what happens when all is built on things. 

     Liberace owned 9 homes and bought anything he wanted.  Now, none of that matters. A personal endowment to his museum has no lasting impact.

     There is a movie in the works, that was to have featured Michael Douglas as Liberace. and Matt Damon was to have played his companion, Scott Thorson. The project is on hold until Douglas recovers from his current illness.

     You probably have the same reaction to this, as I do.  When was the last time that you even thought about Liberace or do you even remember him? It’s why Solomon wrote that “one generation passeth away and another generation cometh… and all is vanity”.

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