Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

On Sunday, the local paper ran a front page story about how $4.6M in charitable contributions was spent. It was only news because of the way some of that money was distributed to the beneficiaries.

In the aftermath of the sixth-largest loss of life for firefighters in U.S. history, millions of dollars in donations came pouring in from around the country. The donations, big and small, were meant for the surviving families of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of firefighters who died in a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona in 2013.

WTF | by ulricaloebAccording to the investigative report by the Arizona Republic’s Robert Anglen, “One of the key organizations responsible for managing those donations now questions how some of the money was used, with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on sightseeing trips, high-end restaurants and hotels for hotshots’ families.”

My point in mentioning this head-shaking story is not to pick on the surviving families who as Anglen points out, “did nothing wrong in accepting the donations.” Or is it to unnecessarily dwell upon what amounts to a pretty embarrassing and disastrous public relations snafu for the charities and their management. The paper’s investigative story does all of that and then some.

It’s merely to highlight once again one of life’s most sacred and unhappy truths. The easiest money to spend is always somebody else’s.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Portrait_of_Milton_Friedman.jpg/385px-Portrait_of_Milton_Friedman.jpg

Milton Friedman

I’ve known this all my life. And it’s one of the principal reasons that organizational, business and government transparency and the lack thereof aggravates and animates me so much. As a matter of fact, it is one of the two key drivers of my quest to reform mandatory bar associations. You don’t get any more high-handed and cavalier in spending somebody else’s compulsory dues money than the tin-eared bureaucrats running our nation’s mandatory bar associations.

The other energizer is of course, reclaiming and protecting the First Amendment freedoms of lawyers, which like the Constitutional rights of all Americans are being eroded everyday.

As for transparency and “on whom money is spent,” Nobel prize-winning economist, the late Milton Friedman said it best some 36-years ago in Free to Choose co-authored with his wife, Rose.

 

Friedman knew that if it’s someone else’s money — there’s no accountability and no real consequences as to how that money is spent.

________________________________________________________

Credits: money, at Morguefile, no attribution; “WTF,” by ulricaloeb at Flickr Creative Commons attribution license; Portrait of Milton Friedman by Robert Hannah 89, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice via Wikipedia, public domain; chart via Youtube video.

Read Full Post »

In some parts of the world, the first day of May is May Day or International Workers Day. But thanks to a proclamation during President Eisenhower’s administration, May 1st in the U.S. is Law Day. It’s meant as the day each year to celebrate the rule of law in society. So quite appropriately comes a timely news story to momentarily ease the otherwise burdened cynical heart.

The salutary tonic is administered through the story of Judge Lou Olivera, a North Carolina District Court jurist, whose extraordinary compassion provides the welcome antidote. This past April 13th, Judge Olivera sentenced former Green Beret Joseph Serna to spend 24 hours in jail for a probation violation. Serna is a retired Army veteran who served almost 20 years. Deployed four times to Afghanistan, he earned three Purple Hearts and was almost killed three times. But since leaving the service, Serna has struggled with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To cope, Serna has self-medicated with alcohol. As a consequence, he has run afoul of the law. Having violated his probation with a DUI, he appeared in Judge Olivera’s courtroom last month. Judge Olivera, himself a Gulf War veteran, runs the county’s Veterans Treatment Court.

“I gave Joe a night in jail because he had to be held accountable,” the judge later explained. But concerned that sentencing Serna in isolation for a night would trigger his PTSD, Judge Olivera did something truly remarkable. He decided to spend the night with Serna in the one-man cell. They spent the time talking about their military experiences. Serna said it felt like “a father-son conversation.”

Read Full Post »

“May I ask what you’re doing?” asked the thickly accented Germanic voice through the trees.

I’d just parked my car and planned to walk one of our dogs on a recent afternoon. After riding over 3 hours in the back seat, she needed to do what dogs do. We’d alighted in what I once thought was a friendly neighborhood, the kind of welcoming place you might be happy to live in. Indeed, the location is next to one of our favorite local golf courses.

My plastic bag was in one hand and our leashed tail wagger was in the other. She blissfully sniffed the grass next to the public sidewalk while I looked up at the unexpected questioner. Through the branches, I saw he was a tall ruddy-faced senior standing in the yard of the adjoining residence.

“I’m walking my dog,” I answered as though not patently obvious even to the half-sighted. “Why are you asking?” I inquired.

Pachuco | by gabofr

“We have a neighborhood block watch,” he replied sharply. “Well, good for you,” I rejoined now understanding what this was really about.

Not that I wear my sensitivities on my sleeve. Still, I used to wonder — but no longer do — about the point in life when age, appearance or socioeconomic status finally insulates from small-minded prejudice. It never does.

Those sculpted and fired by intolerance see what they want to see. No matter if you dress neatly or drive a nice car. Or are past your middle earlies and are minding your own business on a sunny public walkway with a contented canine. For folks partial to a preferentially homogeneous community, there goes the sidewalk. You can take the Latino out of the ‘barrio’ but you never take the barrio out of the Latino.

Ethnic stereotyping and racial profiling are part of growing up in urban America.

fp031216-02 | by fontplaydotcom

And as a son of Boyle Heights, I was no stranger to it, especially in adolescence and early adulthood. I had my share, including at the hands of L.A.’s ‘finest.’

“May I ask you not to come onto my driveway,” the stranger inhospitably admonished. “Don’t worry, I have no intention,” I answered as he turned and walked away.“And you’re a friendly one,” I added.

Not that he went away. He turned and stood in his open garage and looked on and frowned. Just another bigoted day in the neighborhood.

________________________________________________

Credits: “Pachuco,” by Gabriel Flores Romero at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution; “fp031216-02,” by Dennis Hill at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution.

Read Full Post »

“What’s black and tan and looks good on a lawyer?

A Doberman,” was the answer to an unfunny lawyer joke.

Anna

       Anna

But it was no joke for me. Our beloved Doberman, Anna, spent her last day on earth on December 26th. She was just days shy of her 13th birthday. What a sad way to punctuate Christmas.

As for looking good on a lawyer, that she did whenever she leaned on me. She was a beautiful girl. And leaning is what Dobermans do. Called the “Dobie lean,” it’s a breed trait.

Dobermans don’t give kisses to show affection. They lean on you instead. Often misunderstood and unfairly dismissed as ‘scary,’ in truth Dobermans are just as a friend once described, “They’re Golden Retrievers in Doberman skin.”  And Anna was among the gentlest souls — ever. Although watchful, there wasn’t a mean bone in her.

The past few years, Anna ailed from chronic arthritis. We’d managed it for her. But the past two months, it increased in severity. Frailer and ever more unsteady, her quality of life took a nosedive.

When that happens, those of us who bring these treasured creatures into their forever homes must at the end, honor the pact we make at the beginning.

It’s best summed up by “A Dog’s Plea,” author unknown. For years I kept a framed copy on my office wall.

“Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

“Do not break my spirit with a stick, for although I should lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.

“Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps falls upon my waiting ear.

“Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.

“Feed me clean food that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

“And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.”

On Anna’s death, a nephew said he admired the courage we have to love our dogs because we are willing to endure the pain of their loss. The reality is that losing these cherished family pets gets harder not easier. But you do it because of love as my favorite modern poet, Mary Oliver, wrote of her late dog, Percy:

———————————————————————————————————————————–

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life
Mary Oliver

“Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

“Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.”

————————————————————————————————————————————-

https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d0eb53e35fd7ff80bc2268a515adb7e2

She remains my profile avatar and muse for this blog.

I will miss Anna’s companionable presence and her soft nudges on my left elbow while I worked at my desk. I will miss her soft murmurings as she’d run in place asleep on her side, dreaming of chasing jack rabbits. I will miss her turning upside down four paws up and scratching at the air. I will miss her loud powerful barks at the start of every walk. Like a bygone town crier, she’d announce to the neighborhood “here I am” and all’s right with the world.

Next to persistently asking for never-ending pats on her head and hanging out with those she loved, there wasn’t anything better than a walk.

Years ago on our walks in No. Nevada, she’d remind me of another favorite Mary Oliver poem, “Spring” and especially the lines, “Meanwhile, my dog runs off, noses down packed leaves into damp, mysterious tunnels. He says the smells are rising now stiff and lively;

“. . . My dog returns and barks fiercely, he says each secret body is the richest advisor, deep in the black earth such fuming nuggets of joy!”

I’ll always think of Anna as our own fuming nugget of joy.

Read Full Post »

Life is more than conflict. It’s also about love, emotion and devotion.

And as regular readers know, with three rescues in our household, I have a particular soft spot for dogs and their special connections to us.

This touching, heartwarming video, which was forwarded to me just this morning says it as well anything I’ve seen in a while.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

(A heartfelt hat tip to Jay for telling me about it).

Read Full Post »

Been a while since I’ve blogged about my marginally mediocre albeit happy-go-hacking golf game. I’ll not do so here.

Instead, the other day, after watching an old guy angrily pounding his driver three times into the turf after an errant shot, I again recalled an interview of a few years ago with professional golfer Davis Love III.

In that interview, Love keenly observed, “Most golfers aren’t that good — to get that mad.”

https://i1.wp.com/images.wildammo.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/24.gif

But too bad so many golfers think they’re“that good.” Case in point from personal experience, the most commonly found lost ball on a given course is a hyper-expensive golf ball meant for professional golfers. But thanks to triumphant marketing to self-deluded high-handicappers, that’s also the golf ball most likely to be found at the bottom of a water hazard or nestled under a bush or buried in a third cut of rough. And at $60+ a dozen, rest assured my game will never be worthy enough to have that pricey ball in my bag. After all, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

“Don’t want to be rude”– but shut up.

Shut-up | by stoneysteiner

So a Saturday morning later when we were randomly paired with what turned out to be one of those oh-so-serious “good” golfers, I made the mistake of making small talk before our round with this stranger. I recounted my angry golfer anecdote. And apparently, unknowingly making matters worse, I also mentioned the Davis Love III quote.

Moments later, Mr. Good Golfer announced, “I don’t want to be rude —  but I’d rather not talk during the round.

“I can be plenty sociable afterward,” he needlessly added after tooting out that stinker on the first tee. But give the guy props for uncongenial precedent and for muzzling a blabbermouth lawyer. Evidently for some folks, golf isn’t meant to be sociable.

And as for his disclaimer, I once worked with a guy who loved saying, “Anytime someone starts out a story by telling you, ‘this is no lie’ — get ready for a lie.” Clearly the same can be said for introductory pronouncements about not being rude.

Mannerliness: more myth than reality.

Like some lawyers who think their profession is akin to a sanctified priesthood, there are golfers who claim a supposed special mannerliness that defines the ethos of golf. “Etiquette is a word that’s often heard in relation to golf, moreso than with any other sport” one golf beginner’s website proudly proclaims. I frankly doubt that. I’ve encountered enough golfers who equate etiquette with indelicate. Also see this particularly inappropriate way to handle slow play, “Golfer Pulls Gun on Group Over Golf Etiquette Dispute at New Britain Course: Officials.”

No matter that golf’s governing body, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has its comprehensive rules, including an affirmation that irrespective of how competitive players are, courtesy and sportsmanship are the watchwords of “the Spirit of the Game.”

SNC11595.JPG | by bradleypjohnson

But like most high-minded goals of decorum and dignity, too often exalted aspirations end up as low-rent aspersions.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Photo Credit: “Hey shut up,” by Urs Steiner at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution;SNC11595.JPG by bradleypjohnson at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »