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Lincoln’s Wisdom

If you received a message from Amazon in your email in-box that advised you of Abraham Lincoln’s new book, would you download it on your kindle. I know, your answer might be that you don’t have a kindle. Or, your answer might be that you would be surprised to learn that Lincoln was still writing.

Well, circumstances don’t stop us from some of Lincoln’s wisdom. From the magazine Inc. , author Ilan Mochari provides us with thoughts from Lincoln on how to keep a good temperament when dealing with people, during difficult times. He uses references from another author of the past, Andrew Carnegie.

First, here is a letter that Lincoln wrote during the Civil War, to a General who had disobeyed his orders:

“I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so South of the river, when you can take with you very few more than two thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasureably because of it.”


It’s a pretty scathing rebuke. However, Lincoln never sent it. It was found among his papers after his death. Why he never sent it is a bit speculative. Still, according to the author, the following three things can be gleaned about Lincoln that can be good reminders for us.

1. When delivering feedback, think how it will effect the recipient and whether it reaches your ultimate communication goal.  That letter might not have been sent because of the damage it would have ultimately done to the morale of the general.

2. Before you criticize, put yourself in their shoes. Second guessing/Monday Morning Quarterback evaluation may not be the best position for evaluation. As someone once said to me, “There is no constructive criticism. Those words don’t go together”.

3. If you’re angry about an outcome, give yourself an outlet for venting. Maybe the letter writing helped Lincoln deal with his anger. General Meade would have been the recipient of the letter. Instead,  he is now best known as the General who defeated General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg.

DID YOU KNOW that during the Civil War, glasses with colored lenses were used to treat disorders and illnesses. Yellow-trimmed glasses were used to treat syphillis, blue for insanity and pink to treat depression. That’s where the expression originated “to see the world through rose-colored glasses”.

And for pic o’ day, some unusal plans:

Cat plans



Birthday Plus Blog Anniversary


Some of my blogs are just different from the others and this qualifies as personally different. By coincidence, my 1000th blog also happens to fall on my birthday.

I’d like to pretend to be three chess moves ahead in having that line-up of events. Of course, I guess it could also fall on the anniversary of the invention of the Internet. Not quite that planned.

I remember deciding that I wanted to start blogging. My first few attempts were solely related to law and they were so boring. I think that the first several were normally read by a crowd of 2-3 people on a daily basis. Now, there must be at least 4 or 5! Plus, pic o’ day added a few. Some have even admitted to scanning through the blogging just to see pic o’.

In the coming days, we will post some blogs of the past. I hope that you enjoy those, even if you remember them. Maybe we will add new pictures. Thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully,  my blog experience will make the next 1000 full of useful tidbits.

For me, I thought I would celebrate this blog by posting some pictures that were sent by Amy M. All three make me laugh. So, I guess these are pics o’s!

First is a dog’s heaven:

Next is “Thinking Cat”:

And finally, the Pizza Delivery Pup:


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.


Clues of Kagan

     We were huddled around our high school basketball coach. He looked us in the eye and congratulated us on another victory. Then, he grabbed the scorer’s book and began reading the point total. “Crombie had 20 and Saxon had 23; Good job guys.” The rest of us just looked at each other. We didn’t dare shake our heads or say anything but I knew what everyone else was thinking.

     My high school senior year, I worked in the school Printing Department. I can’t say that it was good money.   I was being paid under the guise of “great experience”.  I did learn how to operate a printing press. My job was to basically clean the ink on each of the presses. I’m not sure that anyone even does the old fashioned printing anymore.   

     Anyway, I came up with this “great” idea that I would publish a paper and sell it at school. A couple of my buddies decided they wanted to go in on it. We would all write articles, I would print the paper, and we’d  sell the papers to the other students. We were emerging journalists.

     We called the paper “B-Ball Probe”, because we were going to do stories about the basketball team. I haven’t yet seen any copies pop up on PBS’s “Antique Roadshow” as collectors items; We only lasted 3 publications.

     We reported on the emphasis on scoring,  and how the Coaches put no emphasis on defense, assists or rebounding. This blog isn’t making me look real good, is it? Anyway, I can’t really say that it was “Bernstein and Woodward” reporting,  but apparently it got under the coaches’ collars. (Imagine that?)

     It was great to be a player/reporter because you got the inside story. Unfortunately, there is no freedom of the press when a coach tells you to “knock it off”. I think there might have even been something about a reward of getting to run extra laps everyday,  before practice. I did learn that there is “power in the pen”. I also learned that no one likes criticism; especially from some high school kid. I also learned a new term,  “rabble rouser”.

     Where am I headed with this rabbit trail? Well, I can’t really remember what I wrote back then, but I’m glad I don’t have to be accountable for it today.  That’s why I am always fascinated with the  machinations and process, when a Supreme Court nominee is facing scrutiny by the US Senate. 

     Everyone wants to find anything that has been written by the nominee. They pull out every writing and study it like the FBI studied the Unabomber’s manifesto, looking for clues. Well, maybe that’s not such a good metaphor for law. OK, they study the nominee’s past writings with a fine tooth comb.

     On Friday, 160,000 pages of documents were being readied and about half  were released  from the Clinton Library, which represents  the writings and works during Kagan’s tenure as a Clinton White House lawyer. Now, Senate clerks will begin “combing” over these documents to look for clues that might suggest the thinking and moral compass of nominee Elena Kagan.

     Historically, nominees have repeatedly surprised, when they have become Justices. Some supposed liberals show conservatism and some conservatives become “middle of the roaders”. It may be that the clues are not in past papers. Maybe it would be better served to talk to the everyday people that interact with the nominee and have personal relationships. What influences them today?

     I’m glad that I am not judged by my sophomoric writings of “B-Ball Probe”. Past writings probably show state of mind at the time, or even mood. In fact, maybe they show a leaning toward what an employer was seeking. This nominee’s writings might be  more about President Clinton than about her. Well, I guess it gives something for Senate clerks to work on,  late into the night.  Soon, our airways will be filled with those golden nuggets that were penned back then.

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