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The Power of Coffee

Coffee is a bit of a running joke at our firm. I decided long ago to purchase good coffee. Specifically, I order Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee for the office. Normally, we have about 3 pots going at any given time in the Richmond office. Accordingly, we joke that the productivity of the firm has dramatically increased since our jump in coffee expense.

This past weekend, I was visiting family in Wilmingon, North Carolina, and stayed at a hotel that provided free coffee. Unfortunately, it seemed to live up to the value of free. I guess I am also a bit spoiled by the Jamaican Blue work week coffee. I even commented  that I was feeling a little sluggish. Then, I stumbled on an article that suggests that coffee may have played a role in the Union winning the Civil War.

From the New York Times opinion pages comes an article titled How Coffee Fueled the Civil War. In it, it discusses the diaries of soldiers who regularly wrote about their coffee. As the author notes, one battle victory was directly effected by coffee delivery. In September 1862, Union soldiers were lagging. Suddenly, a 19-year-old William McKinley appeared, under heavy gunfire, with vats of hot coffee.

One soldier noted that, “It was like putting a new regiment in the fight”. This was the same coffee bearer who ran for President some three decades later. Some suggest that his coffee heroism helped his election effort.

The article later cites that Union soldiers were individuallly issued 36 pounds of coffee per year. Meanwhile, the Union was successful in setting up blockades that kept coffee from getting to the Confederacy. One observer wrote that the loss of coffee, “afflicts the Confederates even more than the loss of spirits”.

While coffee may not have won the war… it may have influenced it. And so, I continue to order our many pounds of coffee for the office!

And now some unusual TV trivia for DID YOU KNOW. In the TV series The Addams Family, John Astin played the family patriarch character of Gomez. In one episode, he acknowledged being a lawyer who had never won a case. As part of his character, Astin would place lit cigars into his pocket. To accomodate this character trait, the prop department lined his suit pockets with asbestos.

And pic o’ day:


Trying to be Productive

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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