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It All Makes Sense

The offices were closed for Thanksgiving and Friday; so sometimes after a holiday, it takes some motivation to get the engine going. Of course, I admit that I felt a little like this after my Thanksgiving meal.




I even said, “Let’s sit here a little bit. It’s going to take some effort for me to get to the car”. Clearly, we had some tremendous fixins’. As the comedian said, “the meal is not over when I’m full; the meal is over when I hate myself”.

So here comes a “mind twister” based on “mind research:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch procejt at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosnt mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe!

That research got me! But it did drive spell check crazy.  Even Mr. Frosty has to wonder… and he’s always in a good mood as long as he is cold.

On to the fun. Here’s a Monday special pic o’ that makes me smile:


And here’s our pic o’ day. It’s good to be back sitting at my desk!




After Memorial Day

I always find it a bit hard to get traction after a long weekend. I guess it’s the chicken or the egg.(That old question of which came first “the chicken or the egg?’) Is it good to have vacation to come back to lots of work… when you still feel like you are still on vacation? Maybe it’s the chicken and the egg!

Which brings me to the subject of retirement. For some reason, I periodically get asked about retirement. Now bear in mind, my parents are both still working. So, predictably, it’s a bit difficult for me to think about retirement.

So, on Friday at lunch, another attorney and I were reminiscing about the days that we used to work together in the mid-nineties. He randomly brought up retirement and how he had no intention to do so. We didn’t talk much about that topic. Just moved on to whether he was going to order the sweet potato fries.

It reminds me of the story I heard about the old English actor, Sir Arthur John Gielgud. He was an accomplished actor of stage and cinema.

Reportedly, when he was turning ninety years old, the Royal family wanted to throw him a large birthday party at the palace. To their surprise, he called back and declined. “I’m sorry I can’t” he said, “I’m on location shooting”. That story makes me smile. Better to talk about the sweet potato fries! I guess I need to get some work done… and stop blogging today!

And for pic o’ day… some billboard humor:



Signs of the Times

One summer during college, I sold vacuum cleaners. Yes… vacuum cleaners. I remember during one sales training that the manager reminded us all that we needed to be enthusiastic because no one woke up in the morning and said to themselves, “Today, I am going to buy a vacuum cleaner”.

Sometimes I feel like that about a Friday blog. So, today I am enthusiastic!

I am using this blog to attach a couple of pictures that were sent to me. I hope that you see the humor in these altered signs.

First is a man’s stubbornness… I suspect that you can guess that this was not sent to me by a man.


Second is a bit of Shakespeare:


I hope you have a wonderful weekend!



Dr. Bill

Bill Whitehurst was dressed in his “Sunday-go-to-meeting” suit because he really was in church. At the time, he was Congressman from Virginia’s second district and I worked for him in the Norfolk district office. Just as many others, I knew him as Dr. Bill.

As a backdrop, I had come to work for him as a summer intern. He then asked me to continue on staff while I attended college during my junior year. So, everyday I would race from my classes to work half-days at the Congressional office. That meant that I usually would answer mail and phone calls. Which brings me back to that Sunday morning.

He had been invited to my church that morning to briefly speak. When I saw him come through the church door, I made a beeline toward him. That’s when he greeted me and also handed a few of letters to me. They were letters that I had prepared for his signature.

Usually, he would come back from Washington on weekends and personally sign each letter that had been prepared for him during the week. He always wanted to personally sign his mail even though most other elected officials used those signature machines. It was a lot of letter signing each weekend.

These were the days before spell check and computers. When he handed me my prepared letters, I noticed that a couple had corrections on them with an attached instruction note. He asked me to make some changes that included spelling… which I did. I couldn’t help it, it made me laugh out loud because that was his personality. He actually brought the mail to church because he wanted to get it right and get them mailed out the next morning.

When I had first come to work as an intern, the office manager, Rena Wasserman, had given me some words of advice in working there. She did so with a smile. One recommendation was to never drive him in my car. Whenever he wanted me to drive, I would just hand him my key. It was true, he was a terrible “backseat driver”.

Years later, I now have a note and a letter from him that are framed together. One is the note that was attached to those letters that he gave me on that Sunday, asking me to make changes. The letter framed beside it was the thank you that he sent me after my last day of employment.

His thank you meant a lot to me and the note of corrections reminded me to pay attention to the details.

letter W.

Dr. Bill made a lasting impression on how I work. He never felt that it was necessary to stand on the floors of Congress to make speeches. Instead, he emphasized taking care of those that he represented. That was emphasized to everyone that worked for him.

He once told me that the best part of working in Washington was seeing it in his rearview mirror each weekend, as he headed back home to Tidewater. It’s too bad that there aren’t more of our elected officials less consumed with Washington and more consumed with the detail of doing a good job and taking care of those who elected them.

I decided to write about Dr. Bill when I read Philip Walzer of , who wrote an article about Dr. Bill receiving the First Citizen Award from the Norfolk Cosmopolitan Club. And, this Thursday that he is also going to be celebrating his 90th birthday.

He attributes his long life to not smoking, “pushing away” from the dinner table and teaching, because “students energize you” according to the article. He continues to teach at Old Dominion University.

You’ll learn a great deal about Dr. Bill in this well written article from the Pilot. It brought back some great memories. A man who has influenced many including me.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to attend a dinner that honored Dr. Bill. Following that night, he sent me another letter to tell me that he is proud of me. Yes… I have that letter framed too!

And for pic o’ day…



An Unusual Absence Excuse

Employees miss work for various reasons. John Beale’s excuse for missing work has now caused him to be criminally charged. (Washington Post)

Beale, 64, was a senior policy adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency. Starting around 2000 and since that time, Beale would regularly miss work. He took trips to China, South Africa and England. He would even discuss his trips with co-employees and mention a lingering problem with a case of malaria.

The Arlington County resident told collegues that all the time from the office was because he had “sensitive work for another agency”.  His co-workers would even try to get him to talk about what he was doing secretly, and he would just laugh it off. He even had “an air about him”, they said.

Beale received a salary, benefits and “retention bonuses” while missing significant time. Apparently, his office just believed that his work was truly CIA or intelligence related. Now, his long term scheme has been discovered and soon he is expected to plead guilty to stealing nearly 900K from the EPA.

I know what you are thinking. How could anyone use a “CIA excuse” and get away with it? You know!

DID YOU KNOW that the spanish word “esposa” means “wife”. The plural of the same word means “wives”;  but that same plural word is also used for the word  “handcuffs”. (I rely on those who know spanish for the truthfulness of this… and I don’t really know what to think of this… I mean it!)

And for pic o’ day, I guess it’s good to get started early with technology:


Minimum Wage and Ice Cream

     I am not a big fan of Geico. Still, I have to give them their due. Their camel “Hump day” ad makes me laugh. So, in my mind, I am imagining the camel walking around and saying, “What day is it? What day is it? Yep, it’s Joel’s Friday blog”. 

     Today’s  “Did You Know” is also a trip down memory lane for me.  What was the very first federal minimum wage that was required pay? Before the answer, my story of my first minimum wage job.

     I was sixteen and started interviewing for my first “real job”. I had cut grass, sold kool aid, the Williamsport Grit newspaper, flower and vegetable garden seeds and a host of other things for spending money. Still, this was going to be my first job where I had to “clock in”.

     I was hired at Burger King, Then, I also was hired for a night job at Roses Department Store. Each had their own life long memory experiences.

     For pay, I was paid an extra 5 cents an hour at Burger King, That 5 cents was supposedly to cover the washing of my Burger King uniform. A uniform that was red and yellow. Yes… the color of ketchup and mustard. Now that is some real marketing genius!

     At Roses, I was paid 10 cents less than the minimum wage. They had some kind of summer program under probationary hiring. At the time, it allowed them to pay less than minimum wage. The fact that I was called the Assistant Manager for Toys and Stationary just gave me a grand title. It really meant that a bunch of sixteen-year-olds were running the store.

     I used to say to the manager, “Mr Blackwelder, I want a raise. You are paying me less than minimum wage. Do you want me to do less than minimum work?”  He would just smirk and say something like, “Get those boxes out of the back”. I would just keep working… for less than minimum wage.

     And now to our minimum wage question. The first federal minimum wage labor law went into effect in 1938. (Oregon State University) Previously, some states had enacted their own minimum wage laws.  At that time,  the federal minimum wage was 25 cents per hour. The attached graph shows that the current minimum wage has not kept up with that initial rate. Some states currently require a higher rate of pay. (State labor map)

     And for pic o’ day:


A Friday of Help

For my Friday blogs, I usually set out to do something short. Sometimes, I start out with the thought of putting a bunch of little ideas together. Like a pancake “stack em” blog.

This blog started out that way until I saw two pictures that made me smile. Then, I realized I needed to figure out a blog so I could put the pictures in. I know, a bit backwards.

So, the topic of the blog is a reminder that we are still hiring paralegals for claims and litigation. We need more help! Now, I feel like I can post my two pictures. Their topic tie-in… help!

STAFFlion help

Salaries and Stuff

     Friday is National Donate Life Day. To show our support, our office staff is wearing various outfits in blue and green. You can check out pictures on (Facebook) of some of the staff! That’s the “stuff” part of the blog. Here is the salary part: reminds us that not everyone receives equal pay for equal work. That is especially true for salaries on the show “Dancing With the Stars”.

     Neither the producers of the show nor anyone that works corporately with ABC  has ever confirmed the pay scale for the competitors and dancers in the competition. However, two cases involving contestants did give us a look behind the salary curtain.

     When Shawn Johnson (season 8) was dancing as a minor, her contract had to be approved by a Judge. In that court approval, court documents showed that Johnson was guaranteed $125,000 for appearing on the show. In return, contractually she was required to train a minimum of at least 20 hours  per week for the show.

     While Heather Mills was on the show, coincidentally she was  going through a divorce with Paul McCartney. That also brought her contractual terms from the show,  into the courtroom.

     It confirmed the salary and also indicated that celebrities receive an additional $10,000 if they make it to weeks three and four. If they make it to weeks five through seven, an additional $20,000 per week is also added. Then, the dollars for dancing continues to grow.

     For weeks eight and nine, the celebrities receive an additional $50,000. That brings the sum total to $365,000 for those making it to the finale, if you are keeping salary score at home. Those numbers could be even a little greater now. Mills’ contract was in 2007. Incidentally, she apparently could not get enough dancing because she ended up on “Dancing on Ice” in 2009.

     And now the final note to wrap up the salary blogging thought. The celebrity dancing pay is definitely in contrast to the “regulars”. The professional dancers who return for each season were originally paid $1600 per episode. Supposedly, they have received a bit of a raise that may have resulted from the celebrity pay documentation. Now, they can earn as much as $5200 per episode.

     In all of the documentation, there still is no answer on how ABC chooses the celebrities. To me, it seems that maybe some have only become celebrities by actually being on the show.

     And for pic o’ day, here are two unusual “partners”:

Unusual friends

The Joel Bieber Firm Team

I reached into my sport coat pocket and found a small note from the manufacturer that said the following: “It took 121 people a total of 233 hours to complete this garment. We almost hate to let it go- wait… wait… we said almost!”

My experience with a team concept started small. I worked at a Burger King. I was called the Porter, which meant that I pretty much did it all including trash and mopping. That included getting there at 7AM to pick up trash in the parking lot. Later, I would be in charge of sticking burger patties on the broiler.

I would hear an order for two burgers, french fries and a coke come over the intercom. I just kept the burgers coming down the broiler chain. Sometimes I would have to run to the freezer to grab another box. Someone stood on the other end and would put them on a bun with include pickle, ketchup and mustard.

Of course, you could “have it your way” and hold the burger and bun if you wanted. At the register, the crowd would pay for their bag of food, and that doesn’t even include the adventure of the team at the french fry station or the apple pie station. Somehow, everyone got fed.

During college, I found myself working at Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation. As a pipefitter’s helper, I really had little to add. I was assigned to work on a new ship called the “Aquina”. Hundreds of employees all did a little bit. By the end, there was a ship ready to be taken out of dry dock and placed into the water. Low and behold… it floated. I did try to find a picture of it to post. I couldn’t… I hope it’s still floating!

We just finished moving our  Joel Bieber Firm Richmond law office. It was a reminder of teamwork as we boxed for the movers. We have that same feeling everyday as we work on cases. The lawyers might be the face of the case but its the paralegals and investigators who help build the foundation.

It is not unusual to finish the disbursement to a client and then have the client ask me if they can say thank you to the paralegal.  A reminder of  team.

For pic o’ day, I had to go with teamwork!

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