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Thinking Through the Argument?

How about this for some Monday motivation?


I have previously posted Thomas Jefferson’s Canons of Conduct, also known as Jefferson’s 10 Commandments. I always find something new in these, when I come back to reading them.

  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap: it will never be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
  6. Never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. Don’t let the evils that have never happened cost you pain.
  9. Always take things by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to 100.

I enjoy each of these. But, let me focus this blog on #9.

There has been some debate about what Jefferson meant by “always take things by their smooth handle”. Beyond what Captain Obvious would say, many interpret it to relate to the way we should properly handle opposing opinion and disagreement.

Jefferson probably was taking the concept of how to resolve an argument from a saying originally credited to Greek Philosopher Epictetus; who said, “Everything has two handles, one by which it can be borne and another by which it cannot”.

Epictetus was born a slave, and was granted freedom upon the death of Roman Emperor, Nero. He is credited with many sayings and thinking related to self control. That self discipline helps us, if we are able to control our opinions, impulses, desires and aversions.

This is a blog that I am really writing to me. How to resolve conflict? A good reminder is… not to grab the sharp handle! It’s all in my control. As Epictetus put it, “We are all travelers at an inn“. We win or lose, based on the battle within those 4 inches above our neck.

And for pic o’ day, this really is some good camping humor!!


Richmond is Saving History

Writer Brandy Brubaker of Richmond BizSense recently wrote about the Historic Richmond Foundation and its decision to bring history back to life in the restoration of a 200-year-old church. The article is titled Saving History Does Not Come Cheap.Monumental church

The Monumental Church has significance to the community because it was originally constructed as a symbol of hope from a terrible disaster.  On December 26, 1811, a fire destroyed the Richmond Theatre where hundreds were inside for a play. Nearly 600 people had packed the theater for a triple-bill benefit for the theatrical company.(Richmond Times-Dispatch) As the curtain rose on the second act, a candle on a chandelier brushed against the backing of the stage scenery.

The flames spread and one of the actors raced to the front of the stage and shouted, “The house is on fire”. A later Supreme Court opinion written by Oliver Wendall Holmes noted that such an exclamation, when not true; is not a form of protected free speech. In this instance, it also led to people being crushed in a mob-like exit.

As the fire grew, it didn’t take long for the sap-filled pine roof to catch fire. As patrons rushed to escape, the rising flames and poor design of the building, coupled with the heavy smoke; made it difficult to escape.   At least 72 people died including the governor of Virginia, George W. Smith and U.S. Senator Abraham B. Venable who had been named President of the Bank of Virginia.

On that fateful night, it was difficult to determine who had died in the fire. Everything was so burned beyond recognition. Officers went door to door to try to determine who had not come home from the night before, in an attempt to ascertain all the victims. The remains of the fire victims were buried together in a crypt underneath the church.

Then Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, John Marshall, led a campaign to build a church on the site as a tribute to the victims. Architech Robert Mills, who formerly studied under Thomas Jefferson, was hired to design the church. He would later be hired to design the Washington Monument.

The church was built and held its first service on May 4, 1814. The church counted Chief Justice Marshall and Edgar Allan Poe among its members.

Over the years, the church fell in disrepair. It also sustained tremendous water damage. It was deeded to the Medical College of Virginia which later turned it over to Historic Richmond. Several years ago, the Foundation conducted an ultasound on the brick crypt and determined that there are still two boxes which are believed to contain the remains of the fire victims.

The Foundation then made significant repairs and the church is now used as a popular wedding venue. There are still remaining repairs to be done that include such things as landscaping, roofing and painting. A marble monument at the church bears the names of those who died in the fire.

The newspaper story attached also details acts of heroism which led to the majority of attendees escaping the fire, despite the single narrow staircase to the box seats; as well as only having three exits from the building. The front door also opened inward which contributed to the difficulties of escape. Now, fire and building codes would never allow such design and construction.

DID YOU KNOW that the fear of vegetables is called lachanophobia? It is estimated that approximately 30% of Americans report real symptoms at the mere mention of certain vegetables that include nausea and shortness of breath.

And for pic o’ day:


Thomas Jefferson Reminder

     I like to post “thinking” lists. A great way to start a Monday. This list is a “way back”. Here’s a hint, assuming you haven’t looked at the blog title!

     President John F. Kennedy hosted a White House dinner of Nobel Prize winners. He started the dinner by complimenting the attendees with a special welcome. He told them that this much genius had not dined at the White House, since President Thomas Jefferson dined alone. So, we turn to the founding father who also truly trusted the jury system when he said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution”.    

     The Ten Commandments of Thomas Jefferson:        



1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have earned it.
4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.
5. Pride costs more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain evils have cost us that have never happened!
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count to ten before you speak – if very angry, count a hundred.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For pic o day, worrying about who is behind you: 




A July 4th Wish and Remembrance

     For Independence Day, Wikipedia gives us the following history:

“In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on this memorable day. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.”

     How can those dates be so randomly historical? Still, that’s fun history to me. I made reference to this in our July e-blast newsletter. If you did not receive it and want to be on the e-blast email list, you can send a request to (shameless plug!) 

     Blogging note: I will be off a few days. So, no new blog until Monday.  I hope you have a time of fun and celebration for July 4… our day of Independence!

Happy July4

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