Jun 092014
 

Today was my fourth completion of 4.4 mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. I’ve described this event is previous articles and won’t repeat the details here, except to say that it continues to be, for me, a thrilling and satisfying thing to do.

Other people do not always understand this.

Bay Swim rescue boat with swimmerI came out of the water near a woman who told me that she thought she may have saved someone’s life during the swim. A man near her was suddenly in distress and she motioned for help and assisted in getting him into the boat. This event has something like 80 boats standing by to assist if needed, so help is never far away from anyone. Sadly, we later learned that the swimmer’s distress was due to a heart attack and despite the emergency responders’ efforts he was dead on arrival at the hospital.

Robert Matysek from Bay SwimsHis name was Robert Matysek and he was 58 years old. A native of nearby Baltimore, he came from his home in South Carolina to attempt this swim for the 20th time. Several of his family members were also swimming. His family testified that “This weekend was always like Christmas, Fourth of July, and his birthday all rolled into one. He passed doing one of the things he truly loved.”

I was reminded of my East Tennessee hometown days. One of our local physicians loved the hike to Mt. LeConte in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He had a ritual of making this hike on New Year’s Day with friends and family members. He had done is for years, when one year he had a heart attack and died on the trail. “He passed doing one of the things he truly loved.”

A high school classmate of mine started and owned a large and successful business. But his passion is hiking and climbing mountains in the Sierras. That is the thing he truly loves.

A few weeks ago I did an open water swim across the Tred Avon River from Oxford, Maryland. The distance across the river was only a mile. But “only” is a relative term. As the group of us were walking along the street in Oxford to begin the swim, we passed some local residents standing in a yard and eyeing us curiously. One of them solemnly pronounced: “You people are crazy.”

“Crazy” is also relative. Diana Nyad, who swam from Cuba to Florida, sounds crazy to some. NFL linebackers and Navy Seals and skydivers and Mt. Everest climbers are only a few of those whose passions are far out of line with those of “normal” people. Just riding a motorcycle is judged to be crazy in some estimations. Riding one is okay with others, but riding without a helmet is not, or riding one up steep rocky hillsides is crazy. All is relative, and we each make up our own minds about adjusting the balance of risk and reward.

I do take risks, but not unmeasured ones. I drive my car carefully and avoid crazy drivers if I can. I get health checkups. I do not want my life ended by doing something stupid if I can help it. I started preparing myself to swim across the Chesapeake Bay in early January and kept at it religiously. Robert Matysek had also prepared, being a veteran of this event. He had completed a demanding open water swim in South Carolina just weeks before.

The bay swim was tough for me this year, tough as always. It took me almost three hours to finish. The waves kept pounding in my face and I swallowed no telling how much bay water. Toward the end, where you have to turn directly toward the incoming tide flow I could barely make progress to get past the bridge and around the jetty to the finish. I finished in position 551 out of the 628 of us who started.

I may never do better than this, but I will likely keep trying.  It’s like Christmas and July 4th and my birthday all rolled into one.

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Mar 032014
 

When my mother died in 1970, my father purchased burial spaces in the Grandview Cemetery of Maryville, Tennessee. Maryville was our home town, and the location of Maryville College, where my father and mother had met as students, and where Dad returned to spend most of his life teaching.

slide02Grandview Cemetery is well named. The “grand view” is its view of the Appalachian mountain range, locally bounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Out town has changed a lot over the years, but the grand view of the Smokies does not change. If you want your body buried in a cemetery, this is a good place.

Besides Mother and Dad, our family included myself and two brothers. My oldest brother is buried in France in a U.S. Military Cemetery. My other brother is buried in Grandview, as is Mother. My father’s ashes were interred in Mother’s grave when he died.

The last time I was in Maryville, I visited Grandview and tried to find these graves. I thought I could do this, but much has been added to the cemetery in recent years, and I never wrote down any locations. I tried to find someone in the cemetery office who could help me, but found no one.

What I did find the other day, while looking for something else, was the original purchase document for these cemetery lots. Included was a map and location information. Dad had paid $1,142 for 6 spaces in Grandview. He had made a down payment of $342 and agreed to make two payments of $400 each over the next six months.

As I glanced over the remainder of this old document, one of the “purchaser agrees to the following” statements stood out. I was stunned. The following was a legal and binding condition of the cemetery lot purchase:

“He, She or They are of the White and/or Caucasian Race and will make no attempt to obtain internment and/or internment rights for any other than of that Race in or on said plot and/or in or on the cemetery.”

I know, of course, that I could break this agreement now and no harm would come to me. I know that likely by this time there have been non-white burials in Grandview Cemetery. I assume that new purchasers of grave sites in this cemetery no longer sign such a statement. So is this just a relic of the past? We are now a multicultural society, and prejudice and discrimination are behind us, right?

Not so fast.

What of Arizona and the other states that today are passing laws allowing businesses to refuse their services to same-sex couples. Is discrimination based on sexual preference any better or worse than basing it on race? How much better is a law allowing a cemetery business to refuse burial sites to same-sex couples than one that does so based on skin color? And this is in 2014, not 1970.

Of course, the discrimination needs to be on “religious grounds” under terms of these laws. The business refusing the service must profess that gayness offends its religious beliefs. (This raises the question of how a business has a religious belief, and whose religious belief it needs to be, but no matter.) In passing these laws, the states say they are upholding the principle of religious liberty, which, they say, is under attack today. Thus do the victimizers portray themselves as the victims.

I can tell you from my personal experience growing up in Maryville that religion was the rationale behind segregated cemetery lots. It was the rational behind separate toilets and signs reading “Colored to the rear” on the White Star Line busses. Preachers preached about the Old Testament “curse of Ham” and used it to justify all types of discrimination against persons of color. They preached that god made black birds and blue birds and red birds, and that these do not inter-breed. They observed that god placed people of different races on different continents and obviously meant for them not to mix.

The days of that preaching is largely gone. But the idea that a business serving the public can discriminate against people based on religion is obviously not.

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Jan 122014
 

Our state has finally passed a law making it a primary offense to not wear a seatbelt when driving your car. That means they can stop you and give you a fine without any other reason. Not wanting to be stopped and given a fine I have been trying to train myself to always buckle up. I put a yellow velcro strap around my steering wheel when I park the car. This reminds me to put on the seat belt when I get back in the car to start driving.

Buckle_Up_Its_The_Law_GWT26When I tell you that I have not done this very gladly, you will wonder what is wrong with me. Shouldn’t I be happy that people are looking out for my welfare and making laws that force me to do things for my own good? They say that seat belts save lives and that they want to save mine. They want to keep me from hurting myself.

Currently they are also working to pass laws about using cellphones in the car. This will also keep people from hurting themselves and others. Perhaps someday it will also be illegal to drive while eating a sandwich or drinking coffee. Or fiddling with the GPS. Or listening to the radio. Perhaps someday we will be required to wear crash helmets while driving, like the NASCAR drivers all do. That would save lives too. So would wearing those fire-resistant coveralls.

If it seems that I am being ridiculous here, I submit that the same rationale for requiring a seat belt also applies to requiring a crash helmet. A large percentage of automobile crash injuries involve head injuries. These would be greatly reduced by a mandatory crash helmet law. No one can reasonably deny that. So if we want a society that passes every law that can possibly keep people from hurting themselves, this should be on the list.

When I visited Cape Town, South Africa, I rode the cable car up Table Mountain and hiked around with all the other tourists. Besides the breathtaking views, the thing that struck me was that the mountain top had been left in its natural state. There were no fences or ropes or barriers to keep you from the cliff top edges. I don’t even remember a lot of warning signs.  This was in contrast to a park my family used to visit which we named “The Do-Not Park.” Everywhere you went in the park there were signs warning you what not to do there.

There are two main entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee side. Gatlinburg is the main one, but my favorite is the less traveled one at Townsend. Just inside the park at the Townsend entrance is a beautiful swimming hole we always called “The Y” because there the park road forks in two directions. When I was a young boy there were two things we loved to do at this swimming hole. We would try to swim upstream against the rushing current and see how far we could get. And we would climb up the steep cliff on the far side, as high as we dared, and dive down into the clear deep water. In the summer there was often an audience gathered on the bank to watch this diving. Young boys impressed a lot of young girls here.

This diving has gone on for generations, but now it is no more. Now there is a park sign on the side of the cliff saying it is illegal. The rangers will give you a ticket and a fine if they catch you doing it. This is to keep people from hurting themselves.

I know that all these laws are well-intentioned and have merit if we want a society that regulates the details of our lives for our own good. But the glaring contradiction for me is that the greater harms are often left untouched.

We force a worker to wear a safety helmet on the job but do not force his employer to pay him a living wage for his work. Fast food workers are required to wear hair nets to protect our food, but their employers may pay them poverty-level wages. Predatory lenders are free to scam the poor, the elderly, and the uninformed. The banks may gamble with our savings instead of keeping them safe as a bank is supposed to do. And, of course, don’t even suggest regulating the sale of deadly weapons. And regulations to protect the environment are always under threat. Laws intended to protect the poor and minorities are deemed an infringement. Tax laws allow billionaires to pay half the tax rates of working people, to shelter wealth from taxes by investing it overseas, and for large corporations with teams of smart lawyers to avoid all taxes whatsoever.

Do you see my point? We regulate the smaller threats and leave the greater ones alone.

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Mouse Trap

 Posted by at 9:15 am  No Responses »
Nov 272013
 

Being the last of November, the weather is thinking ahead to winter here in the DC area. That sometimes means an appearance of mice into our homes. So the other evening, while peacefully watching a movie in the family room, I saw one run around the corner of a sofa. It was startling and somewhat embarrassing. Something had to be done. mouse trap

When I think of catching mice, I think of the wooden Victor brand mouse trap that you bait with cheese. You bait it carefully, especially after you’ve attached the cheese to the small bait holder and you bend the wire frame back over and secure it with the flopping metal pin. If you’ve done this before and had a trap spring on you and scare you half to death, you be sure you hold the trap from the harmless end and not the end that catches the mouse. To have a finger caught in a snapping mouse trap would not be fatal, but would hurt like hell. Which is considerably more than you would want something to hurt.

Our local supermarket did not have any wooden Victor brand mouse traps. They had a strange round plastic thing I bought two of because there was nothing else. The plastic things have caught no mice. It is unclear to me how they would ever do so. If someone thought this was a better mouse trap, then this is a case where better isn’t better and is actually silly.

The local hardware chain store did not have wooden Victor brand mouse traps either.  Instead they had “catch and release” mouse traps. You are supposed to trap your mice, transport them somewhere, and release them unharmed. The instructions do not suggest where this might be: a neighbor’s yard, the school playground, hardware store where you bought these traps, the desk drawer of a co-worker–use your imagination.

I love most animals and am opposed to the cruel treatment of animals. But the idea of catch and release as applied to mice that take up residence in my private home raises issues. Am I also obligated to catch and release termites, roaches, stinging wasps, bed bugs, and poisonous snakes? Yes, in theory these are all god’s creatures, along with the mice. But I don’t want them in my home. My neighbors don’t want them in their homes, either. Catch and release makes no sense. I will not attempt to bother these creatures in other locations, but if they invade my living space I will do away with them if I can.

I’m sure that whoever believes we should catch and release mice is a good and well-intentioned person. I would actually love to speak with such a person and suggest a future project. The project I have in mind relates to the killing of fellow human beings.

We now have laws in an increasing number of states that permit you to kill someone who feels threatening to you, someone in your yard perhaps, or passing by, or even walking in your neighborhood. These are known as “stand your ground” laws and they can allow people to get away with murder.

My plainspoken Tennessee friend put it this way: “If you ever need to get rid of a black guy, just take him to Florida and shoot him.”

That should be more troubling than the use of traps that kill mice in the home. It should trouble us that we would treat animals like people while treating people like animals.

By the way, you can still find the original wooden mouse traps.  Just Google on the words “victor,” “mouse,” “trap,”and “wood.”

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Communication

 Posted by at 4:10 pm  No Responses »
Jun 252013
 

The man walking to his airport gate with a cellphone at his ear is giving final instructions to someone with a tone of importance. Sitting in the splashing jacuzzi does not deter the bathing woman from talking on hers. And even the hotel maid waiting at the bus stop for her ride to work is talking, talking, talking.

How can she afford this? Something has convinced even our lowest wage earners and their children that their phones and talking on them is a necessity of life.

Switchboard-OperatorsI can remember when placing a call in our small town meant picking up the receiver and waiting for an operator to say “number please.” The phone numbers were three digits and all calls through this operator were local. A long distance call was needed even for another town just a few miles away. For those you needed to ask for a long distance operator. The reception on longer distance calls was often marginal. And because of the costs, long distance calls were considered a luxury and used sparingly. Often they brought bad news: a relative dead or a soldier killed in action. When the phone system was upgraded to rotary dial models that needed no operator, that was high technology. It was also the end of their jobs for a lot of women.

If this sounds like along time ago, it really wasn’t. It was not so long before those days that nothing like a telephone or telegraph existed. Or railroads or automobiles. Or a postal system or newspaper with wide circulation. It is not that far from when the fastest way to spread the word was someone riding on a fast horse or running on foot if they lacked one.

The trend, the ever-accelerating trend, has been toward universal connectedness. People talking with more and more people including those farther and farther away. News arriving from more and more sources, and faster and faster. Information arrives constantly today, as does misinformation. Important information arrives along with the unimportant. The process overwhelms the content and the purpose. The process becomes an addiction.

Do we really need all the information that comes at us constantly? We thumb through a stack of magazines and find nothing at all of use or interest. We flip through a hundred channels on the TV without finding a single one we want to watch. Broadcasters try to entice us with “breaking news,” but we have grown accustomed to the fact that it is neither breaking nor news. Most times it is just the same things repeated over and over.

As a result of our constant communicating, things that would never have been heard about in previous human generations now seem close at hand. A woman raped in India, a famous person arrested somewhere, a few miners trapped, or a shooting in Texas. A clothing factory burned in Bangladesh. A newspaper cartoon deemed offensive and setting off riots far away. Suddenly the business of everyone else in the world has become our business.

There is the potential for great good in this, or for great harm. All of these means of communication are essentially neutral. Digital signals do not discriminate between the voices planning a happy family reunion or those planning a deadly bomb blast. Good news can be spread by our media, but bad news seems to predominate. Spreading the news can mean help is on the way, or death and destruction.

We are made spectators and almost participants in every conflict going on anywhere in the world. Also every tragedy, injustice, uprising, and downfall. Also every notable achievement, scientific advance, and humanitarian success, although these tend to be ignored or underplayed.

A country makes war on another country, and all the other countries feel compelled to take sides. Sometimes they offer assistance and the fight becomes wider.

Unhappy citizens communicate their anger and organize themselves using mass communications. They rise up against their own governments, who respond with deadly force. Then everyone else in the world seems called on to take a side and join in. Poor Obama, who has tried to keep out of the civil war in Syria, and now is getting swept toward it like a stick in a rushing river.

Like it or not, we are all becoming participants in an emerging global community where someone’s business becomes everyone’s business. Someone’s disease becomes everyone’s disease. Someone’s bad economy becomes everyone’s bad economy.

Like it or not, we are citizens of the world we live in. Any war among us is a civil war.

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Nov 262012
 

This is a followup to a post of 2011-01-01 titled "How Many Socks?"  To review, just search for it or click the following link – http://edbriggs.com/2011/01/01/how-many-socks/  

Continuing on the subject of socks, let me mention the Thorlo brand. I first became aware of Thorlo socks when I started running in the '80's. The Thorlo running sock was bar-none the very best to be found. They were cushioned, well fitting, and lasted almost forever. They did cost a lot, but since running requires little besides shoes in the way of equipment, the cost seemed incidental. I have had Thorlo athletic socks perform for many years despite constant service.

Over these years, Thorlo has expanded its line again and again. It now includes a sock for every activity you can think of, and in multiple styles and colors and configurations.

If you search for "thorlo socks" on amazon.com you will get 681 results. These include socks for running, tennis, walking, hiking, boots, fatigue boots, distance walking, breast cancer awareness, everyday outdoors, uniforms, basketball, safety steel toe shoes, western dress, backpacking, golf, skiing, ironmen and women, hunting, sensitive feet, calf roping, everyday comfort, extreme cold, diabetics, enduro running, military physical training, snow boarding, mountaineering, and postal uniforms. There are also some results needing  research for me to understand, such as the "women's Xhale speed diva socks."

Would you agree that it's a good thing to have 681 choices if you're shopping for a pair of socks?

I decided that it isn't when I went online and tried to get another pair of the socks I already have. My favorite sock cannot tell you what it is. I'm sure the cardboard sleeve that came around it had a name, but that is gone and forgotten. Among the 681 Thorlo choices, there are many that look like my sock, and I have not way to know which one it might be or even if they still make my sock.

Fellow consumers, we are not being blessed by 681 choices, we are being duped and manipulated by them. The designed complexity of our choice will shortly frustrate and overwhelm us. Then we will rightly conclude that researching all these choices is a task we do not need and probably a game we cannot win. We end up just picking something that ends up not being what we wanted, and soon we are back to picking again. 

I saw this recently at the Verizon Wireless retail store where early holiday shoppers were being shown their opportunities to move up to the latest and greatest smartphones and tablets. Shoppers were nodding their heads as if they really understood the meaning of 3G, 4G, retina displays, 1080p, megapixels, download Mbps, VPN capability, and countless others. And this does not even get into the choices and charges for the cellphone plans needed for every new phone you purchase. The information overload is designed to get us to a state where we give up on understanding and just go with the sales pitch. How many of us would undertake to read and analyze a 33-page credit card agreement from the bank and then intelligently compare it with others before making a decision? 

I once spent a week at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, working on a training film. Aberdeen is a center for military intelligence and has a collection of captured weapons brought there for analysis. A friendly intelligence officer gave our team a guided tour of this facility, and a summary of military intelligence historically. He told us that the problem of early commanders was not enough information to go on. (I once read that the Battle of Gettysburg could have easily been won by either side if they just had a few of the walkie talkies now sold to children as toys.)  But the problem today is the opposite – too much information. The problem is how to process it and deal with the overload.

And there's another problem. In addition to all the people informing us, there are others who make their living misinforming us. The misinformation gets mixed in with the information. Deception poses as enlightenment. In political campaigns it gets more and more blatent. In advertising the mix of fact and fiction is usually more subtle. At times there seems to be more misinformation than information. The fictions outnumber the facts.

I once attended a national convention where matters were debated that I had little knowledge of. It was confusing. I was expected to participate in the voting, and I sincerely wanted to do the right thing. Each time a new speaker presented his point of view, it sounded good to me and I was ready to vote in support. But then a new speaker would rise up and speak in total disagreement. And that sounded even better. I was tossed back and forth, like driftwood in the waves. I felt foolish, inadequate, and out of place.

This is the result of our information and disinformation overload.  We feel foolish, inadequate, and out of place. And it will likely get worse, not better. We must somehow learn to cope, to "sort things out" as the Brits like to say. Let me know your thoughts.

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The Nickel Effect

 Posted by at 5:53 pm  No Responses »
Nov 212012
 

For as long as I can remember, there have been "grocery bags."  First they were paper, then they were also plastic, and often now you have a choice. But for the past year in Montgomery County, Maryland, you also have another choice. You pay a nickel for every bag you get from the store. But you have a choice of bringing your own reusable bags and avoiding the 5 cent charge.

The logic behind this policy is fairly evident. When bags were all "free," we bagged things wastefully and created mountains of trash. Also paper bags are made from trees and plastic bags are made from petroleum. Petroleum is a resource the world is running out of, and burning it creates gases that contribute to global warming. Cut-down trees can be replanted with seedlings and replaced over time, but we are cutting our forests much faster than we are re-growing them. Saving our wood and oil just makes sense.

The transformation in people's shopping habits during this first year of the new law has been remarkable. In the early months, few people brought bags from home and just paid the extra charges. But every 5 cent charge you paid was a reminder. You began to notice more and more people bringing their bags, and you made mental notes to do the same. When you forgot, you scolded yourself and felt stupid. As you carried your groceries out in plastic, you imagined people staring at you disapprovingly. Then you became a regular.

Social distinctions then appeared. The "better" stores have their own better bags including their branded snob appeal. Not many people are seen bringing Wal Mart bags in to shop at Whole Foods. (Bill Maher's name for Whole Foods is "Whole Paycheck.") But the new law applies everywhere and is no respecter.

I have not seen figures on the amount of wasted wood and petroleum saved by this one law in this one county, but it has to be significant. I do not know the effect if the law became a national one, but the result would have to be huge. 

Like others, I was resistant to this law at first. But in these few short months, I have become a willing supporter. Bringing my reusable bags is easy and has become second nature. I feel good about saving our resources and the impact of all the waste we used to create.

I know this is one small step, compared to all the steps that are needed to bring our lifestyles into harmony with the evident strains of our economies and environment. But it is something, and it is easy. 

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Nov 042012
 

I am from the South: Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina. Perhaps Maryland, where I now live, is not usually counted as southern, but people here still comment on my southern accent. When I travel down home I do notice the accents there, and I find that instinctively I can revert back and talk just like the local folks. This is handy for blending in.

I was down in North Carolina recently and went out for dinner to a popular local restaurant. Very local. Great food and great prices, but nothing fancy like cloth on the tables or someone taking your order and bringing you your food. You get in line, study the menu on the back wall, and place your order at the counter. You pay right there. wait on your tray of food, and take it to the table of your choice. After you finish you clean up after yourself.

A large group was cleaning up after itself and leaving as I got my food. They had on red tee shirts identifying themselves as "Tea Party Patriots." They carried political signs and paraphenalia from their meeting. They seemed happy and enthused. It was the evening of a presidential debate, and I thought they might have been heading out to gather somewhere else and watch the debate together.

Having never been to a Tea Party party, I listened in on what conversations I could as I paid for my tray and sat down at my table. Close by my table near the door, the owner of the restaurant was shaking hands with two members who appeared to be leaders. The owner did not have on a red tee shirt, but he was clearly a supporter. I knew this for sure when I heard him say the following:

"You know, if we just had George Wallace, none of this would have happened."

He did not elaborate on what he meant by "this," nor did he need to.

As a southener, I knew exactly what he meant. His listeners nodded in agreement. Then one of them confided that although he certainly planned to vote for Romney, he wasn't sure things would be any different. I thought to myself that he had good reason to be unsure. The Romney of late is far removed from the one who participated in the 20 primary debates and cast himself as the most conservative choice in the race. The Tea Party man was right to wonder which candidate he would be putting into office.

In case you are not southern and uncertain about the coded reference to "none of this," let me tell you plainly what it was about. "None of his" meant "this black man in our white house." That is why the memory of George Wallace was invoked. He would have stood in the way of "this" like he blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama in 1963. He would have stood up for our way of life:

"It is very appropriate that from this cradle of the Confederacy, this very heart of the great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom as have our generations of forebears before us time and again down through history. Let us rise to the call for freedom-loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." (From his first inaugural speech as governor of Alabama, 1963)

Wallace ran for president as a third-party candidate.  In a campaign speech in 1968 he appealed to his constituency:

"And it is a sad day in our country that you cannot walk even in your neighborhoods at night or even in the daytime because both national parties, in the last number of years, have kowtowed to every group of anarchists that have roamed the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles and throughout the country. And now they have created themselves a Frankenstein monster, and the chickens are coming home to roost all over this country." "Yes, they’ve looked down their nose at you and me a long time. They’ve called us rednecks — the Republicans and the Democrats. Well, we’re going to show, there sure are a lot of rednecks in this country."

As a southerner, I dislike the term "redneck." I dislike the stereotype, and the fact that southerners are one of the few groups in the country that are still fair game for crude jokes that would be off limits for others. But Wallace did show in the '60's that there were a lot of them around. And the fond calling of his legacy made me realize there still are.

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Advertising

 Posted by at 2:13 pm  No Responses »
Jun 292012
 

I can remember a time when no lawyer would advertise his services. It was considered unprofessional to do so. I think it may also have been forbidden by the American Bar Association’s Code of Conduct at the time. Now lawyers advertise. Some thrive on offering lawsuits related to automobile accidents and medical malpractice. They can win you a big, fat settlement for your personal injury, lost work time, and mental suffering. Continue reading »

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Jun 152012
 
  • Wax museums where you can marvel at artificial human beings
  • Fireworks stands with stuff that can liven up a quiet vacation
  • Motels competing to see who can have the most unusual names
  • Uncounted businesses calling themselves Smoky Mountain this-or-that
  • Dolly Partin’s “Dixie Stampede,” and, yes, Dolly did grow up nearby Continue reading »
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