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The $20 Bill

I love good strategy. For instance, here is the story of a fake city, to avoid being bombed by Germany.


What do you know about the man on the $20 bill? The symposium that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, Newt Gingrich compared Donald Trump to Andrew Jackson. So, I had to admit to myself that I did not know much about Andrew Jackson. Then I learned about the strategy that he used to become president… which ultimately led to his picture on our $20 bill.

His parents emigrated from Ireland and settled between North Carolina and South Carolina. Today, both states claim to be his birthplace.

Andrew Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory“. He picked up that nickname from the troops that he led during the War of 1812 because he was considered tough as “old hickory”, which is considered to be the wood preferred for axe handles because of his toughness. So, during his presidential campaign, his supporters decided to use that nickname for his campaign.

Speaking of strategy, it’s probably worthwhile to have have some backbone. But maybe Jackson took it a little too far. Supposedly he participated in many duels. Estimated number ranges from 5-100. (Quite an estimate) Charles Dickinson called Jackson “a worthless scoundrel, a paltroon and a coward” in a local newspaper. So… they had a duel to settle it. (Are you still wondering what a paltroon is? So am I! Just looked it up. It means coward. I wonder how you can be a paltroon and a coward. That seems repetitive and redundant)

Back to back they faced each other. (Yes… I took a little literary license there) At the signal, Dickson turned and fired first and hit Jackson in the chest. (More strategy to let his opponent fire first) The bullet barely missed Jackson’s heart by less than an inch. Despite the bullet in the chest, Jackson measured his shot and fired. Dickinson dropped dead. Meanwhile, Jackson carried that bullet in his chest for the rest of his life.

Here’s the one final thought on Jackson and the $20 bill. It’s truly curious that we carry that picture in our wallets or pockets. (assuming you are fortunate to have a $20 bill right now) Jackson detested paper money because he took a huge financial hit when paper notes were devalued . He only trusted gold and silver. He felt banks had the ability to manipulate money. And so it goes… his fame on paper still remains.

And finally, this has nothing to do with strategy. Our pic o’ day falls under the heading of nonsense.




I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again!

Yes… this is what I call a real rule breaker!


In 1964, Julie Andrews made her movie debut in Mary Poppins. Then, she became internationally famous when she starred in My Fair Lady (1956) and then Camelot (1960).

In 1965, she played the real life Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Her voice singing the words “The hills are alive, with the sound of music” became iconic as a report 283 million people paid to see that movie. It became the biggest hit in the history of 20th Century Fox.

Julie Andrews had become a star because of her acting… but truly because of her voice. Several starring roles followed. But in 1997, she ran into a roadblock.

While starring in a show on broadway, she continued to experience hoarseness in her voice, that made it very difficult to sing. She was examined by a doctor and it was determined that she had developed nodules on her vocal cords. Fortunately, they were non-cancerous and could be surgically removed.

The surgery was scheduled and the nodules were successfully removed. When she woke from the surgery, she no longer had her singing voice and her speaking voice had a noticeable rasping noise. And, it was permanent.

After recovering from the shock of not being able to sing with her infamous four-octave soprano, years later she could finally joked that she found herself with a deep alto, only able to sing songs like “Old Man River“.

Here is the reminder for us. Once she got over the depression of losing her voice and the loss of her career that went with it, she picked herself up. She continued to perform with speaking roles and even became a “voice-over” star for such productions as Dr. Dolittle… starring as the voice of the parrot.

In 2000, she was recognized as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. In 2001, she appeared in The Princess Diaries, which was her first Disney film since Mary Poppins. She even performed voices for three of the Shrek movies and has also appeared in the Despicable Me movies and sequels. And now at age 82, she is known as an author for best-selling books for kids, having written 24 books to date.

All this was done after tragedy supposedly ended her career. And… she reports feeling great satisfaction in being a grandmother to nine, and a great-grandmother to three.

I could write this story many times about clients who have been knocked down, and then get back up. I am personally challenged every day by their courage.

Everyone, at some point in their life, has been knocked down and not felt like getting back up. When you get back up, it makes you realize that there are so many possibilities. Adversity causes some to break… and others to break records. (William Arthur Ward)

And finally, I laughed out loud!


A Good Memory From Plants

Today I am starting and ending Our Blog with dog pictures…because they make me laugh!


Today is the first day of spring. Can I wear white pants yet? Just sayin’

Sometimes I catch myself just thinking about a friend or family member who have gone on to heaven.  I think how I miss them; but I also smile, as I think of good memories.

For instance, I can remember my first bite of cheesecake.  My grandfather ordered it at a restaurant named Johnny’s, outside of Elkton, Maryland. I was eight-years-old and I was having a hard time understanding how a cake could be made out of cheese. Plus, it looked more like a pie. He asked me if I wanted a bite… and I was hooked on cheesecake for a lifetime! In many areas of my life, I am still impacted by my grandfather. Yes I know, not a serious story but… I miss him!

A story posted last year in Huffington Post reminded me of how we can be impacted by others, long after they are gone. The article was titled Woman Pulls Hilarious Plant-Watering Prank On Husband Years After Her Death. The title made me laugh, even before I started to read the content.

Here is a picture of Phedre and Nigel Fitton before she passed away.


Shortly before she lost her battle to cancer, the 69-year-old asked her husband to keep watering the plants in the bathroom of their South Africa home.

He faithfully did so for several years. Recently, his family assisted him in moving into a retirement home. That’s when the discovery was made. It was pointed out to him by family members that the plants he had been watering at his wife’s request… were made of plastic.

Here is how his daughter described it on her instagram account

Before my mum passed away, she gave my dad strict instructions to water the plants in the bathroom. He’s been religiously watering them & keeping them alive. They look so amazing he decided to take them to his new home, only to discover they are plastic! Can hear my mum chuckling.

In sadness, there is a happy remembrance. I love that story!

And for pic o’ day….


Helping Each Other

First, let’s start Our Monday Blog with a little spirit, and then on to the story:


The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It’s the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted. Of being deserted and alone.” Mother Teresa

Last year, the Washington Post wrote a story titled “He pushed an elevator’s alarm button but no one came, officials say. Weeks later, his body was found“. It is the story of a cry for help… and no one was there.

An 82-year-old man was seen in the parking lot of his Denver apartment building. He was heading to the apartment leasing office. According to the account, he walked to his mailbox, stopped by the leasing office to pick up a few things; and no one knew where he went after that.

He had been experiencing dementia issues, according to his daughter. So, immediately his family was worried. Days went by with no one seeing or hearing from him. They did know that physically he was not capable of walking far from his apartment.

Picture posters and fliers were distributed throughout the Denver area.  Firefighters scoured the area, including even searching five nearby ponds.

A month went by. Finally, maintenance workers at a nearby garage found a decomposed body in an elevator. The body was soon identified as the missing man.

Authorities began to piece together what had happened. At some point, he had stepped inside the parking garage elevator. The reason for that is unknown. Once inside the elevator, he struggled to get out.

In an attempt to seek help, He had pushed the elevator’s emergency button twice over the course of eight minutes…but no one responded.

The electronic records from the elevator’s emergency alarm show that it was pressed at 9:09 p.m. and 9:17 p.m., a day after he had last been seen.

According to officials, pushing this emergency button should have triggered an alert to an elevator monitoring company or the fire department. But no company received the alert and the fire department received no emergency calls from that elevator. No one was there to help.

I cannot end the blog on that story. Instead, here is a more recent story about a random act of kindness in another story from the Washington Post titled At the Waffle House, she cut up a customer’s food for him. It changed her life.

An 18-year-old waitress noticed that her elderly customer was having difficulty cutting up his food. He was having difficulty because his hands did not work well. Without much thought, she says that she “took his plate and began cutting his ham”.

The attached story about her act of kindness also tells how it changed her life. A reminder that helping others in need is actually a way of helping Us!

For pic o’ day today… I feel like I just need to post something completely unrelated. So here goes for all kite lovers. You are the Decider and you Decide!




“Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture”

I just felt like starting Our Friday Blog with something that made me laugh!


So let’s move to our story!

The song said, “shake it like a Polaroid picture“. Today, that is really old school because everyone is taking pictures with their cell phones. But do you know the story of George Eastman (wikipedia), who founded the Eastman Kodak Company? Eastman is the only person with two stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, recognizing him and his invention of roll film.

According to his wikipedia entry, he was one of the outstanding philanthropists of his time, donating more than $100 million to various projects in Rochester; Cambridge, Massachusetts; at two historically black colleges in the South; and in several European cities.[7] In 1918, he endowed the establishment of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and in 1921 a school of medicine and dentistry there


But the real drama of his life occurred on March 14, 1932. George Eastman who was well known as an inventor, philanthropist, and founder of Eastman Kodak, invited friends over to witness the rewriting of his will. (Yes, I know. A curious reason for a party)

He had made the decision to give a good portion of his money and prized possessions, which included his large house, to the home city…Rochester. As part of the earlier “giving math”, he was bequeathing (not a word I can normally work into the blog) his house and a $2 million endowment (about $34 million today) to the University of Rochester. Eastman also was donating money to medical and dental dispensaries across the city, to ensure that no child in Rochester would go without proper dental work. Finally, he left $200,000 (about $3.4 million today) to his niece, Ellen. (He had never married)

Cheerfully signing the will in front of everyone, he assured them that this was just a matter of confirming his wishes. Later, it was determined that he also wanted his friends to see that he was mentally alert, so the credibility of the will wouldn’t be questioned. After all the t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted, he asked if everyone could excuse themselves for a moment. When his friends had left the room he took out a pen and wrote the following:

To my friends,
My work is done.
Why wait?

As the story goes, he then took out a pistol out from his nightstand and shot himself in the heart, ending his life at the age of 74. It was well known that he had been suffering back pain for several months, which was probably related to stenosis and radiating pain from his discs.

There are many “take-aways” from that story. I am reminded that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

I don’t want to end our blog on a down note. Instead… I hope you have a great weekend. I feel like it is going to be a good one. These are the good days. Right?

And for our pic o…. weekend, this makes me laugh too:


Because I am “Cavalier” About History

The Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach is about to reopen. (Pilot Online) February is the target date. If you lived in Virginia Beach for any period of time, you probably have a story to tell about the Cavalier.

But there is real attention-grabbing history there, that includes the suicide of Aldolph Coors. It falls under the category of “I bet you didn’t know that!”. Here is how the Virginian Pilot summarized it in 2006:

Aldoph Coors, the founder of the Coors Brewing Company was born Adolph Kurs in Germany in 1847. He trained as a brewer and immigrated to the US in 1868, reportedly as a stowaway. Kuhrs settled in Chicago, and worked a variety of low paying jobs before changing his name to the more easily pronounced Coors and buying a brewery. Coors was a successful businessman who skirted Prohibition by selling near beer and malted milk, but he was not a happy camper. On June 5, 1929 Adolph Coors leaped to his death from a window of the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach for unknown reasons. Dan Baum, a writer for the Wall Street Journal who wrote a book about the Coors family called, “Citizen Coors: An American dynasty, says that the suicide was not surprising, seems the whole Coors Family is a little wacky. After Adolph’s death his son, Adolph, Jr was given the reins for awhile. Next in line was Adolph III, who was unfortunately murdered in a bizarre kidnapping event in 1960. Adolph III left his home and headed to his office one morning only to encounter a car on the side of the road. Apparently being the inquisitive type he stopped to help. Unfortunately, in the car was Joseph Corbett, an escaped convict from California. Corbett shot him. The rest of the craziness? You probably know most. There was the born again Coor’s heir who thought Elvira was Satanic, there was Joe Coors, what can we say about him? He divorced his wife of fifty years and married his mistress? Quit Coors to make wine?  And now that you know all that, you have another reason not to drink the beer besides the taste.

I enjoy blogging about history but when I heard this story, it always made me look at the Cavalier Hotel differently. And now, they reopen soon to continue making history.


For pic o’ day, here’s one that is also a grabber:


And one to think about!


Does This Coffee Have Value?

You’ve heard the expression, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure“? Or… “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder“. Well, this blog is about value, even when there are differing opinions. More on that in a second.

But first, I don’t even know why I am posting this for Our Monday Blog, but it just makes me laugh. When I saw this on instagram (I would give credit but I’m not sure where I saw it), it spoke to me about misplaced good intentions. The holiday season…A lot of giving and good thoughts, but maybe not good ideas.


(See what I mean?)

If you are in search of a tree, this might be an idea, if you have a cat. I guess it’s planning for the inevitable. (Since I’m not a cat person, I am posting this as sent to me. Makes sense.)


I always feel that a discussion of coffee on a Monday, is timely. I’d say not to read this during breakfast, but there are people drinking this coffee during their breakfast. It’s the story of Kopi luwak.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America describes its taste as “a general consensus within the industry…it just tastes bad”. Yet, it is a very expensive “bad coffee”. Why? Well, here’s the story.

Kopi luwak is the name for any coffee beans that are collected from the excrement of civets. The beans are fed to these cat-like animals, collected, roasted, aged and then brewed. Here is the wikipedia story. It makes it easier to just attach, because I really don’t want to write more about the specifics. (Much like discussing Indianapolis Colts football. Best not to discuss!)

For the point of this blog, I do need to reference the price of this Indonesian coffee. Retail prices reach as high as $700 for 2.2 pounds. I checked on Amazon for the farmed version, and it is currently selling for about $25 for a 3.5 ounce bag and marketed as “The World’s Most Exclusive Coffee“.

To me, this story shows again that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. What is the value of something? Whatever someone is willing to pay. It probably also reminds of of the power of marketing.

I have written about this concept value in other blogs. In a jury trial, when discussing losses, it requires a juror to consider the evidence of value, not what they necessarily consider the value to be.

If someone lost their entire warehouse of Kopi luwak to a flood, it would be easy to consider that there is no value, and therefore no loss. And yet… there is value because critics admit, “It’s not that people are after that distinct flavor. They are after the rarity of the coffee”.

And finally, our pic o’ day


Let Me Be Random

Here’s a starter thought for Our Wednesday! (should I add the legal disclaimer;)


I started to write a very thoughtful and pensive blog. (Well, not really) Instead, I end up wondering whether the spoon really bends. (It’s all in the Matrix) Now that’s random! And here’s more random from the collection.

There are no female characters in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. When he wrote it, he was following the instructions of his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, who wanted him to write a story “about a map, a treasure, a mutiny and a derelict ship…No women in the story.” Now that would be frowned upon today… right?

Next is a story from about a 94-year-old woman who celebrates working at McDonald’s for 44 years… and she has no plan for retirement! (Story Here)

Velcro was invented by  Swiss George de Mestral, (Wouldn’t it be wild if my name was Joel de Bieber?) who was inspired by the way that burrs attached to his clothing, while he was hunting with his dog.

The average days of school in the world is 200 days per year. (I always feel like it should be are not is…why?) That considers that the average in the United States is 180 days; Sweden is 170 days and Japan is 243 days.

And for pic o’ day, deep thoughts… from your dog? (Maybe you will be inspired to invent)


Some Thoughtful Planning

First, let’s start out the week with a Crocs cartoon. Are they shoe or sandal… or just plain wrong?


And for Our Blog today, I am posting a story of kindness. There’s something about this that just grabs me when I read it, and I thought it would be a good Monday reminder. Hard to credit it, but I have seen this story in several positive thinking books:

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. The waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

How much is an ice cream sundae?”

50 cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins that he had just removed from his pocket.

How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he then asked.

There were several people  now waiting for a table, and the waitress was growing impatient as she waited for the boy to order.

35 cents,” she said brusquely.

The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished his ice cream, paid the cashier and the left.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table. Then, she swallowed hard as she looked down at the table.

There, placed neatly beside the empty dish… 15 cents – her tip.

And finally, our pic o’ day:



The Carpenter and His Tree

Since it’s Friday, let’s just dive in… how about it!


Not long ago, a paralegal said to me after one of our clients left, “she is always so upbeat”. She was upbeat, despite the fact that life was so difficult. I knew the hardship that she was going through. Still, she always seemed so positive. It reminds me of the story of the carpenter and his trouble tree. A good reminder.

A carpenter had just finished a rough day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work. His electric saw had broken at work. His old truck refused to start, when he tried to get home from work. So, a co-worker drove him home. The whole ride he sat in still silence.

Once they arrived at his house, he invited the co-worker in to meet his family. As he walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree; touching the tips of the branches of the tree with both hands.

When he opened the door, there was an amazing transformation of his countenance. His tanned face was filled with a smile and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. He looked so happy.

Afterward, he walked his co-worker to the car. Again, they passed that same tree that he had touched with both hands. The co-worker couldn’t help it. He had to know the significance of that tree. Why had he touched it with both hands?

Oh, that’s my trouble tree“, he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job. But one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong at home with my wife and the children. So I just hang them upon the tree every night when I come home. Then, in the morning I pick them up again.”

“The funny thing is”, he continued, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging there from the night before.”

I think my client was saying the same thing with her positive attitude.

I hope you have a great weekend!  And for pic o’ day.




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