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Signs on the Boardwalk

It’s more usual than exception. As I pull up to a stop light, there is someone standing in the median who is asking for money. In fact, close to the Richmond office is someone who looks like a VCU student, with her SUV parked nearby. Why is she asking for money?

Sometimes I wonder if these people in the medians are addicts, or scam artist panhandlers, or people on disability who are trying to supplement income. Perhaps they have a mother at home who is in need of medication, with it beyond reach to get help or get better. I suppose they all have their story.

A 1999 government study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development  determined that the homeless need something more than money. In the survey, 42% said that they need a job; 38% needed housing; 30% said that they needed help to pay rent or utilities; and 13% said that they need training or medical care.


On the Virginia Beach boardwalk, you can find signs that tell you:

VB poor


I’m not sure that the “government” has a better solution. I guess that’s why I was initially bothered by these signs, until I thought about them a bit. Then, I thought about what it does for me when I reach out of my car window to give money. It’s why I have blogged on it before. The reality is that I feel good when I give money, with no strings attached. Even if there is a possibility that the person receiving does not have the correct motives.

As I write this blog, I realize that I have more questions than answers. I am reminded that Acts 20:35 tells us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.

I guess as long as I look and I see, then it’s still important for me to give. When I stop seeing, then I’m the one that needs the most.

And for pic o’ day, this answers the question whether you can phone a dog:



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:


The Interest Catches Professor

     A true “if only” story from Or, it could simply be called a story about stealing and getting caught.

     In 1975, James Hardigan became a dental professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1980, he became the associate dean for administrative affairs for VCU’s Dental Faculty Practice Association. In 2004, he retired from VCU and subsequently moved to Florida. What happened in between just caught up with him.

     Records show that in 1995, Hardigan opened up an investment account in the Dental Association’s name using the Association’s funds, for an initial deposit of $500,000. In 2004 when Hardigan retired, he transferred the account balance of $137,553 into his own personal account. The discrepancy of the 500K used to open the account versus what was transferred is still unclear.

     At the time of the amount transferred, apparently there was still a few cents that had not been credited for the monthly statement. Those pennies remained in the account after the transfer. In 2013,  the investment firm where the account had originally been opened contacted VCU and the Dental Association about the account. By now, 63 cents of interest  had accrued in the account. 

     Because the Association knew nothing of the account, school officials began looking into it. Soon, they learned about the funds and the transfer that went into the retired professor’s account.

      This past Thursday, Hardigan was in Richmond Circuit Court where he pled¹ guilty to felony embezzlement of $137,553. The details of his past caught up with the 69-year-old former professor. He probably once thought, “if only I had waited until the end of the month to get those remaining cents”. Or, maybe now he is saying, “If only I had not done it”.   The retired professor now awaits sentencing on August 9, which could be as much as twenty years.  

(¹ ABA Journal says that pleaded is also correct.  In US Supreme Court opinions “pleaded” was used 3,000 times and “pled” was used 26 times )

     This pic o’ seems appropriate for a Monday morning:


Ole Fashioned E-lectricity

Because of the storm in Richmond yesterday, we had to close our Richmond office. Virginia Beach and South Carolina offices probably had mixed emotions. Nice to close, but thankful that they had power. It’s the first time that I remember closing “because of rain”. It also slowed down the blog this morning.

As a kid, I used to be excited to know that I was going to a Tidewater Tides baseball game. One time, it was raining; but it was still early in the morning. I called the ballpark and the receptionist said that the game had been canceled.

I know that it was canceled because of rain, but a twelve-year-old who is excited about going to the game cannot  accept that. I called a few more times until I got the Assistant General Manager on the phone. I think his name was Pat Mooney.

“Come on Pat, why have you canceled the game”, I said. I could tell that he didn’t feel like dealing with a kid. “Grounds too dry”. I still laugh at that one.

Yesterday, the ground was definitely not too dry. But, this morning, I saw business success in action.

I like coffee in the morning… I need coffee in the morning!  So, I headed off to find a coffee place. I had to travel a few miles because, just like my house, there was no electricity. Finally, I saw a stop light that was lit up. It was unusual to feel some excitement in seeing a red light.

I could see cars in front of the stores. Side by side stands an Einstein Bagels and a Starbucks. I am one of those “anything but Starbucks”.

When I got up close, I quickly saw that Einstein’s was closed. But, there was Starbucks doing a booming business. Had to give Starbucks credit. A good reminder on how to beat the competition. Someone at Einstein’s had decided early that they were not going to open, because of the lack of power. Sometime during the night… good ole fashioned e-lectricity.

Last night without even a fan, it felt like camping. Well, except for the 500 thread count sheets.  I was like pic o’ day, I finally just collapsed:

Justice Scalia’s Words on Words

    I just added a new app for my IPhone. It gives you all kinds of useless information. Did you know that Betty Rubble made her debut as a Flintstones Vitamin in 1996? How about that Coca Cola sold 25 bottles, in its first year of sales; Or that pumpkins used to be recommended for the removal of freckles and curing snake bites?

     I could just keep typing them. Unfortunately, they are all about that useless for everyday life. That’s why I was reminded of that “Cool Facts” App when I saw the Richmond Times Dispatch story on Justice Anthony Scalia.  

      This past week, Justice Scalia told Richmond lawyers to stop wasting time in writing and speaking and start communicating better.  “Use good English” was one of his top tips to the Richmond Bar Association.

     “Why are lawyers such lousy writers?” he asked. He answered his own question with ” because what you read from the time you entered law school was judicial opinions”. His basic premise is that what you read is what you write.

     He was encouraging lawyers to stop using “empower” and “impact” or other statements like “Reason is paramount”. He went on to add that lawyers should never use “aforesaid” or “fatally flawed”. I guess it’s kinda like “Two Twins”. 

     Waste of time words in the English language has probably harnessed us all. One lawyer that I once worked for, would constantly start his sentences with “insofar as that is concerned”. It was his wind-up response. One of those that has stuck with me. 

     A lot of people add “in terms of” or “at the end of the day”as their sentence starters. To me, I think lawyers seem to be some of the greatest language offenders and I sometimes find myself writing and speaking that crazy stuff too. Why do documents need to start with “Whereas” anyway? That’s why Justice Scalia’s talk brought laughter to the room. The Times Dispatch writer picked up on the fact that it was hitting close to home.

     One good thing about the ending of the blog is that I don’t need a bunch of nonsense words. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then pic o’ day must be worth more! Especially when it’s a picture to prove that everyone is blogging now.


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