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War of the World… and Costumes!

Let’s start out Our Monday Blog with two costume pictures from the past that make me laugh. Ultimately, for some reason, I am posting four pic o’s of Halloween costumes. And they all make me laugh!

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and these costumes are the greatest! Right?

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Let me squeeze in a quick blog before posting our last two pic o’s. I take us to a “This-Day-in History” from the History Channel.

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles caused the nation to go into an absolute panic with his radio broadcast narration of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. Listeners thought that the United States was being invaded by Martians.(Wikipedia of the book) (Wikipedia of the radio program)

The Mercury Theater company decided to do a radio version of  H.G. Wells’ 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds. At the time, Despite only being 23-years-old, Welles had been in radio for several years. He had “the pipes”, as they say.

Prior to this broadcast, he was known as the radio voice of “The Shadow”, a mystery program of the same name. “War of the Worlds” was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had no idea what was about to happen across the nation.

The radio show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice announced: “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.”

It is hard to imagine now, but Sunday evening in 1938 was considered prime-time listening, as millions of Americans gathered around their radios. History tells us that during this broadcast, a majority of Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy “Charlie McCarthy” on NBC. That even seems crazier that a ventriloquist would be a radio show, although no one was going to complain whether he was moving his lips!

Over on CBS, Welles introduced the play and then an announcer read a weather report. Then, as part of the broadcast, the announcer “took” the listeners to “the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.”

Unbearable dance music began to play. Then the scare began.

An announcer broke into the report with “Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory” had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the horrible dance music came back on, followed by another interruption where listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer’s field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey.

Soon, an announcer from the “scene of the crash site” was describing a Martian that was emerging from a large metallic cylinder. “Good heavens,” he declared, “something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here’s another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me … I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it… it … ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

The announcer continued to describe the invasion. This included Martians firing “heat-ray” weapons at the people gathered around the crash site. The Martians also annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and then released a poisonous gas into the air. The radio broadcast included sound effects with the voice actors portraying terrified news announcers. Another radio news announcer then reported that widespread panic had broken out, including other sites where Martians were also landing in major cities.

That’s when the true nationwide panic set in. There were traffic jams in New Jersey as people were attempting to escape the invasion. People began contacting local police departments to beg for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas. It was reported that one lady ran into an Indianapolis church during the evening service and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!”

During the CBS broadcast, news of the real-life panic was conveyed to Orson Welles. He went on air as himself to remind listeners that the broadcast was just fiction. But full-scale panic was already in effect.

Over the course of the following weeks, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigated the program, but found no law was broken. There was widespread outrage that a network program could cause such havoc.

One of the show’s producers later described what happened,

Our actual broadcasting time, from the first mention of the meteorites to the fall of New York City, was less than forty minutes,” wrote Houseman. “During that time, men traveled long distances, large bodies of troops were mobilized, cabinet meetings were held, savage battles fought on land and in the air. And millions of people accepted it—emotionally if not logically.”

The power of persuasion of the media or just a gullible nation?

And now back to our pic o’ day costumes:

With a nod toward the Redskins/Cowboys game yesterday, I post an old costume picture where a creative kid was dressed as Tony Romo. I understand that Cowboy fans might not be humored.

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And finally, I know it’s not Swordfish Almondine… but Lobster Pup makes me laugh! All great costumes for our pic o’ day(s):

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Einstein’s Theory of Happiness

Here’s some positivity for Our Friday blog, because how can you be angry at wanting to be a Unicorn?

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I really liked this story about Einstein! (Washington Post) His theory on happiness sold for over a million dollars.

It was around November of 1922.  Einstein was traveling from Europe to Japan for a series of lectures that he was giving.  During his tour, the 43-year-old learned that he was being awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, for his contributions to theoretical physics.

As Einstein sat in his hotel room at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, he tried to write down his thoughts and feelings. That’s when he heard a knock at the door. A messenger arrived with a delivery. Then, the messenger either “refused to accept a tip, in line with local practice, or Einstein had no change to give him”..

According to the attached article, those autographed notes where Einstein offered his thoughts on how to live a happy and fulfilling life, recently sold at a Jerusalem auction house for a combined $1.8 million.  Here is what the notes read:

A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,” reads one of the notes, written in German on the hotel’s stationery. It sold for $1.56 million.

The other note said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.  That note sold at auction for $240,000.

That is still good advice!

I hope you have a great weekend… and that you get lots of sleep!

 

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Wednesday’s History Trivia

First, some Halloween humor:

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Trivial Pursuit is a board game that involves players attempting to answer questions to demonstrate their general knowledge. Here are some facts about women that you might not know:

Alene B. Duerk, head of the Navy Nurse Corps, was the first woman in the U.S. Navy to be promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.

The designer of the Statue of Liberty, French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, used his wife as the model for the body and his mother as the model for the face. (Just a thought. Were family holidays interesting… or argumentative?)

In 1930, the heaviest a female flight attendant could weigh was 115 pounds. They also had to be unmarried nurses. ( Seems to be a bit restrictive for application. And does it seem a bit disconcerting about flying safety that only nurses could apply? Might explain why I am not a big fan of flying.)

She was born Florence Nightingale Graham but was better known by her business name, which became a cosmetics empire: Elizabeth Arden.

Here is some Kennedy family history: Rose Kennedy was the daughter of the Mayor of Boston, the wife of the Ambassador to England, and the mother of a President: John F Kennedy; and two Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy. She lived to be 104 years old, outliving four of her nine children.

And finally, former Senator and Presidential/Vice Presidential candidate summed it up, “Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law.” 

And now our pic o’ day. A bit mean, but it when it was forwarded to me “for the blog”, it made me laugh:

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It’s going to be a great Wednesday!!

 

 

A Titanic Price

First, I start with what I think was my expression as I watched the Indianapolis Colts yesterday. Not good Sunday afternoon football. Yes… I would rather have a silly grin on my face! I am happy for Monday!

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And now to the real blogging. Here is a quote about safety experience:

When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.”

That quote was said in 1907 by  E. J. Smith, the Captain of the RMS Titanic. The Titanic sank in 1914. Since then, there have been many items that have sold at auction from that fateful ship.

 The BBC News reports that recently, one of the last letters that was written on the Titanic sold for a world record price at auction. The letter was written by American businessman and Titanic passenger, Oscar Holverson. The price paid by a British buyer was £126,000 ($166,068.00)

It was sought-after because he wrote it on 13 April 1912,  just the day before the ship hit an iceberg. It is the only known letter, written on Titanic notepaper, to have gone into the Atlantic sea and survived.

Holverson, a successful salesman, wrote the letter to his mother while travelling on the ship with his wife, Mary.  In the letter, Holverson tells his mother that “the boat is giant in size and fitted up like a palatial hotel“. He also writes about seeing “the richest person in the world at that time” – (John Jacob Astor) “He looks like any other human being even tho (sic) he has millions of money,” he adds. “They sit out on deck with the rest of us.

The auctioneer is quoted by the newspaper reporter as explaining why this letter had so much value, “because of its date, the fact it went into the Atlantic and the observations it contains“.

One sentence in Holverson’s letter never came true, “If all goes well we will arrive in New York Wednesday AM.”

When the Titanic sank, Holverson, and the mentioned Astor, died along with more than 1,500 people. Holverson’s wife survived. Her husband’s body was recovered. Inside a pocket book was found on his body where the letter was found. It still bears the stains of the sea water and the water mark of the White Star shipping line.

The ultimate original destination of that letter show that it eventually was delivered to his mother. As the auctioneer said, it is “possibly, the only on board letter written by a victim that was delivered to its recipient without postage”.

What is something worth? I guess if you were an insurance company making payment on a loss, you would probably say that it’s just paper and pen. The life of profitability for insurance companies. (Yes, that is me taking a shot at insurance companies. Can’t help it!)

And for pic o’ day, I am posting one that I can relate to. Plus it made me laugh when I saw the quote with it:

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Does This Count?

I haven’t been able to blog the last two days… and in reality, this isn’t much of a blog. But, it is Friday…. which demands that I at least give it the Friday blog effort! Right? So first, we have the “ole” spell correct reminder. I have noticed this while blogging.

 

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And I know that this is a bit random, but there is something about this last “self portrait” that made me want to do more research. I had been saving it for a blog. So I am posting what grabbed me, without the follow-up research.

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And finally, here’s a little history about Short Pump, Virginia. Stories behind city names are sometimes fascinating. Although, was there a man name Charles who weighed a ton. Hence… Charleston? Probably not so much.

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I hope you have a great weekend! I promise to do better next week!!!

 

Lessons From Pilots

I am treading on dangerous territory because I am about to discuss plane crashes. I say dangerous because I don’t like to fly; which also means that I don’t enjoy plane crash thoughts. So, you can already be assured that this is a positive blog. I promise promise!

Studies of plane crashes between 1940-1990 always showed the same statistic. 65% of the time, airplane crashes were due to pilot error. It didn’t matter what the airlines did.

They increased pilot classroom training. They implemented aviation reforms. They required specific flying hour limitations. Still, no matter what the airlines did, bad decisions in the cockpit still caused crashes 65% of the time.

Then that statistic changed! In the late 1980’s, airlines introduced realistic flight simulators. Now pilots could practice landing in a sudden downdraft thunderstorm, or with only one engine. They could learn what it was like to land a plane with landing gear problems; or fly without wing flaps.

Their experience of problems was better than training by “chalk and talk”. They were doing, even though it was by simulator. Federal Aviation representatives labeled it as “the goal is to learn from those mistakes when they don’t count; so when it matters, you can make the right decision”.

This training process was coupled with a method called CRM (Cockpit Resource Management), which made flying a team effort to include the other members of the flying team. Soon, pilot error as the cause of crashes had been reduced to 30% of all crashes, which also meant that there were far less crashes. More specifically, it now became safer to fly than drive in a car. See… positive!

I believe that same thought applies to trial work. Experience and team! No matter how many seminars you attend on trial and depositions, nothing replaces actually doing it.

What does this mean at the firm? Well, I always try to make sure that our lawyers have a second chair with them. That’s part of the team concept. Also, it’s experience in the courtroom. It doesn’t mean that we don’t keep attending seminars. That’s the chalk and talk of our work.  Unfortunately, there is no substitute for experience. Right?

And for pic o’ day, this isn’t to mean that I don’t enjoy work. Still…. he makes me laugh!

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Working Together… And Then Not!

From the History Channel (History.com) comes a story from September 13, 1942, that is a feel good story until it becomes a feel bad story!

A German submarine (U-boat) sunk the British troop ship, the Laconia, killing more than 1,400 men. The commander of the German sub, Capt. Werner Hartenstein, then realized that also on that sub, there were Italians prisoners-of-war being transported among the passengers. So, he gave an order to attempt to rescue their sunken allies.

The Laconia, a former Cunard White Star ship that was being used to transport troops, including prisoners of war, was in the South Atlantic bound for England. There, it encountered  U-156, a German sub.

The sub attacked and sank the troop ship, while also sinking more than 2,200 passengers. But as Commander Hartenstein, the sub commander,  learned from survivors that they began taking on board, there were 1,500 Italians POWs still below on the sunken ship. Realizing that he had just endangered the lives of so many of his fellow Axis members, he put out an emergency call to an Italian submarine, and two other German submarines in the area, to ask for help in rescuing the survivors. (Italians)

In the meantime, a French and two British warships sped to the scene to also assist in the rescue. The German subs informed the Allied ships that they had surfaced to the top “for humanitarian reasons”.

The Allies assumed it was a trap. Suddenly, an American B-24 bomber, the  Liberator, saw the German sub and bombed it—despite the fact that Hartenstein had draped a Red Cross flag prominently on the hull of the surfaced sub.

The sub, damaged by the air attack, immediately submerged under water. Admiral Karl Donitz, Supreme Commander of the German U-boat Forces, had been monitoring the rescue efforts. He ordered that “all attempts to rescue the crews of sunken ships…cease forthwith.” As a result of the attack and then subsequent order, more than 1,400 of the Laconia‘s passengers, which included Polish guards and British crewmen, drowned.

The stick that lit the firecracker. No one trusted, despite attempting to work together for one moment during the war. No good!

And for pic o’ day, how about some funny politics!

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Thinking Through the Argument?

How about this for some Monday motivation?

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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!!

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A Message in Death

And here is a good Monday pic o’ starter:

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If you glanced at the blog title, you probably wondered where I was going. These two stories are probably more like comedy in death. So, here goes!

The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently wrote about the football fan who had the last laugh in his obituary. (Story Here)

The longtime Eagles fan’s obituary listed a last football fan request “to have 8 Philadelphia Eagles as pall bearers, so the Eagles can let him down one last time.”

Eagles fan Jeffrey Riegel was a passionate Eagles fan who owned season tickets for more than 30 years. Sadly, the Eagles never won a Super Bowl during his lifetime. He did get to see them play in the Super Bowl… so all wasn’t lost!

Which brings us to another crazy story about Jeremy Benthem (Wikipedia) He was an English philosopher and writer who passed away in 1832.

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Bentham was active as a writer, right up until his death. In his will, he left a significant amount of money to the University College London (UCL). As part of his bequest, the will also stipulated that they take his body as well. (See the picture above)

While some people donate their bodies to science,  Bentham wanted his body to be hollowed out and cast in wax, and then have his wax likeness also sit in on hospital board meetings. The Wikipedia attachment gives more specifics on the instructions for his body.

The hospital agreed to comply with the will. For 92 years, he sat in on meetings. I suspect that if I had that box above to sit in on our law firm meetings, the meeting would be a great deal shorter! Fortunately, he also donated a large book collection. He is also credited with the idea of making common law into a code of laws.

After that, it’s a little bit difficult to top a box-o-body picture. But at least pic o’ day is a lot more fun! And I am feeling positive because it’s great to have work…. right?

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The Power of Mount Vesuvius

When you saw Mount Vesuvius (hard to say that 5 times) in the blog title, did you know its importance in history? When I saw it come up in my listing of events from on-this-day.com, it reminded me. One of those times that admittedly, I’m not sure what I would have remembered.

Yesterday was the anniversary… 79 A.D. , when Mount Vesuvius erupted, killing approximately 20,ooo people and burying the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum. Pliny the Younger, a Roman administrator and poet, was  the source for historians as an eyewitness account. (And I know what you are thinking, “why don’t more parents name their child Pliny the Younger?”.)

The story of this volcanic eruption includes the fact that over 2,000 citizens of Pompeii ran into their cellars to wait until everything had ended. For 250 years, Pompeii has been a tourist destination because excavators found their bodies still there, over 1,800 years later.

Fascination with those living in Pompeii has caused archaeologists to spend a lot of time trying to figure out “why?”. Here is a portrait of Terentius Neo and his wife, that was found on the wall of a house, found in the remains of Pompeii.  Doesn’t this personalize it a bit?

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Wikipedia has a good history of the amazing city of Pompeii. (here) I am fascinated with the history of this volcanic eruption because it happened so quickly, that there was nothing that the residents of the city could do to escape.

They had been ‘lulled to sleep ‘ by prior eruptions and were unprepared for the explosion that took place after noon on that 24th day of August. Most of the victims died instantly, as the super-heated air burned their lungs and contracted their muscles, leaving the bodies in a semi-curled position.

I blog on this today because it’s a reminder that it is real easy to think that “it won’t happen to me”. The people of these cities had seen effects of earthquakes before, and thought that they could still live right there, because they could always escape. Instead, they became a footnote in history. No plan for escape.

History! If we don’t learn from it, we are destined to repeat it.

I hope you have a great weekend! I may be a bit sporadic with the blog next week because I will be in trial. I will still try to periodically post… even if only for pic o’ days!

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