Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Elvis Presley song: return to seller

As a public service, I hereby present a handbook for the most important activity you can undertake this time of year.


Returning items to the store.


In Australia, they have a holiday devoted to returns. They call it Boxing Day.


Yes folks, I am a self-proclaimed expert.


Don't challenge me.


I have successfully returned used underwear for a cash refund.


Gross, but for those who appreciate a good return, inspiring.


Chapter One: attitude. Attitude is the key. Never appear overanxious. Clerks smell anxiety over returns like dogs smell fear.


Act nonchalant. The less important it seems to you, the more important it is to the store  to please you.


Chapter Two: appearance. Dress well. If you appear to have money, you are a future customer. You'll come back to spend again if you leave happy.


Chapter Three: charm. Make them like you. You are almost timid but with a big smile. Complimentary toward the friendly clerk in the beautiful store you've been shopping at for years. They'll fall over one another to help you.


Chapter Four: accept cash substitutes. Lifting greenbacks from the register is always painful. Accept store credits or gift cards. Believe me, you'll be back in that store sometime and that gift card is as good as cash.


Chapter Five: it was a gift. If asked, tell them it was a gift. No one likes to see a disappointed child who received the wrong size or the wrong color or just something that wasn't right for him. The store will wants to erase that disappointment. If you purchased the item for yourself, you're not lying: it was a gift you bought for yourself.


Chapter Six: use a bag from the store. Bring the item into the store using a bag with the store label. If you don't have one, go get one. There's something about walking into Kohl's with a Kohl's bag in hand. It lends authenticity to the whole transaction. In this same vein, return clothes neatly folded or in store hangers, if possible.


Chapter Seven: win over the manager. Most store managers are way too busy to argue with customers. They can say "no" quickly to an overbearing complainer or "yes" to a friendly, loyal customer who just can't say enough good things about this outstanding retailer. Managers have the power to take back anything so play it smart: make that manager click his heels over the chance to please you.


So there you have it. Seven rules that will allow you to return anything  without a receipt.


My track record goes back many years and is without blemish. It doesn't matter the age of the item, or the amount of use the item has received.


As you can see it all lies in your approach to the problem.


Use positive energy  when you approach that formica counter and give the clerk and the store manager the opportunity to do something that they've been instructed to do through months of training: please the customer.


Many happy returns of the day.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

lazy lawyers show indifference to their calling

Here's a chance to see inside the private professional world of lawyers.


You see, every attorney registered in the state of Ohio is required to attend 24 hours of continuing legal education(CLE) every 24 months.


Each lawyer can pick from among hundreds of  classes offered by various universities, law firms, government agencies, and Bar Association's.


The courses range from topics such as DUI prosecution to federal tax matters to estate planning.


The only mandatory courses are those that deal with professionalism, ethics, and substance abuse.


That last one, substance abuse, has become prominent as the stress of practicing law frequently drives some barristers to rely on drugs or alcohol to get themselves through the day.


The required courses in professionalism and ethics help  remind lawyers how to behave towards their clients, the courts, and other attorneys.


I attended one of these  instructionals the other day and  it was standing room only.



Here's my problem.


As you sit in these classes with your fellow lawyers, you need only look around the room to observe that only about 60% of the attorneys are actually paying attention to the professor.


The other 40% are reading a newspaper or magazine or checking their email on a laptop or an iPad.


I sat next to a woman who played solitaire throughout the entire class. The topic that afternoon was the subject of professionalism and ethics for lawyers.


I find it unethical and unprofessional for a lawyer to tell the Supreme Court which he has satisfied his  continuing legal education requirements when he was physically present for the lessons, but mentally completely absent.


If someone decides to tune out when the priest or minister is delivering a sermon, that little disconnect is between the worshiper and his God.


When a lawyer merely pretends to cooperate in the efforts of the Ohio Supreme Court to make sure lawyers remain competent and moral, something is wrong.


The disregard for the mandatory learning is blatant as the newspapers are rattled loudly by those catching up on the sports page.


Every lawyer in the state has seen this phenomena and it is growing at an alarming rate.


It's no wonder that recent polling ranks lawyers among the least respected of all professions.


We've done it to ourselves by making it seem that the almighty dollar reigns supreme above the concepts of  justice and truth.


The fact of the matter is that most lawyers are good, honorable people and most of them are sincerely attempting to participate in these required continuing legal education courses.


But those that are shirking this responsibility by merely going through the motions make me sick and I wish they would just go find another line of work.


The rest of us are trying to burnish the reputation of the legal profession and we don't need those who just don't care.


Lawyers, look up and learn.


Some of us resent your callous indifference to your responsibility.


Word is getting around.


Justice may be blind but she isn't stupid.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Man with the ears disses man of the year

Time magazine's selection of Pope Francis as Person of the Year demonstrates the importance of the Catholic Church in the world today.


In fact, the standard for selection of the annual Time Magazine award is based on the publication's standard that the Person of the Year must be someone who has had the most significant impact on the world.


Of course, it didn't hurt that Pope Francis has demonstrated a compassion  in keeping with the spirit of the original St. Francis.


What's  obvious  is that the Vicar of Christ occupies a position of immeasurable significance throughout the world.


Whenever there is an international incident or a major catastrophe, reporters turn to the leader of the Catholic Church for words of comfort and explanation.


It was no accident that two American presidents turned to the holy Pontiff in maintaining the kind of international pressure that  led to the collapse of the Berlin wall.


Lest you doubt the media's perception of the Holy Father, you should be reminded of the incredible gavel to gavel or should I say bell to bell coverage of the papal conclave.


Cameras perched high atop buildings throughout Rome were focused on the proceedings of papal succession. For weeks, time stood still as the world pondered who might ascend to the seat of St. Peter.


Which brings me to another goofy decision emanating from the Obama administration.


Last week, it was disclosed that the United States ambassador to the Holy See in Rome has been ordered to move from its own embassy building into the structure housing the American ambassador or to the country of Italy.


The State Department claims the decision is cost-saving and will enhance security.


There may be some truth in that.


But in this age where Catholic values and beliefs are discounted by an American government imposing mandatory health insurance guidelines that spit on the pro-life religious, this is a huge mistake.


Regardless of the stated rationale for this move, Catholics feel put upon by the Obama administration.


Just when the President is trying to convince the rest of the world that he respects the religious freedom of Catholics, he confirms the suspicions of those that criticize him by kicking the ambassador out of his freestanding digs  into a side room at the Italian Embassy.


The White House has been quick to point out that the ambassador to the Holy See will have a separate address, even though he's located within the Italian Embassy.


As if this somehow will make everyone feel better.


Whoever said perception is reality ought  to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the President.


Catholics perceive this maneuver as an attempt to diminish the role of the Catholic Church in the world.



Unfortunately, the President has developed a  bad reputation for saying one thing and then doing another.


"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period."


Mr. President,  Catholic views are important and the leader of the Catholic Church is  important.


Just ask Time Magazine.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Breezy Birthday suit inappropriate for receiving politicians

Another story ripped from the pages of  my former life in politics.

The first time I ran for Mayor, I focused my campaign  on the one thing I could afford to do.

Knock  on doors.

I met thousands of people on their doorsteps and it made a huge impact, despite the fact that I had no budget for fancy ads in newspapers(this was in 1987, before the age of the internet and dynamic websites).

One of the most memorable experiences involved a naked lady.

One hot Sunday afternoon in August  I came to  a home where the front door was wide open so I had to knock on the screen door. The sun was low in the sky and I can remember that the doorbell was broken.

Now some of the screen doors are made out of a soft plastic and you really have to rap hard with your knuckles to make enough noise to get someone's attention inside the house. I knocked very loudly and then peered in through the  screen.

On the La-Z-Boy recliner right in the front living room I could make out the figure of a beautiful brunette with very long hair and porcelain skin.

She must have wanted to cool off because she was lying down on the lounge chair with a fan blowing on her.


My banging on the door  so startled her that she leaned onto her side and fell right on to the floor. I guess she had been sleeping. She hit the floor with a bang and then sprang to her feet, not coming to the door, but instead darting across the room.


It was then that I noticed that this young lady was racing from her fall to another room so that she could put some clothes on. She was completely naked. I began to tip-toe down the steps of her porch to move on to the next house.


However, before I could do so she reemerged at the door wearing a robe and assuming that I had not seen a thing.


I of course acted like I hadn't observed anything and gave her my normal political pitch along with a piece of literature.


As I went up the walkway to the next house I started thinking about the way she had been looking at me while we were speaking. I could see in her face that she was wondering if I had actually seen anything. I think I concealed my observations pretty well but I remember telling my wife when I got home that there was an important lesson to be learned.


No matter how hot it is, close the front door before you lounge around naked in the living room.


Being seen naked by a stranger is usually not a good idea.


Especially when that stranger is  one of the lowest forms of life.


A politician. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mystery fans: Dial B for Butt Dial

Cell phone mania hasn't slowed down one single bit since the devices with ever advancing technology came on the scene many years ago.


Cell phone calls have become so inexpensive and the many applications they contain so valuable that we've reached the point where virtually everyone keeps their cell phone with them wherever they go.


It's not uncommon to see a girl wearing tight denim pants with her Verizon wireless device jammed into her rear hip pocket so tightly wedged in there that it looks like it's about buckle under the pressure.


I wonder if she can even get it out of her pocket to answer a call.


Which leads us to a phenomenon that developed just a few years ago called the butt dial.


This was originally referred to it as a pocket dial.


These cell phones are so touch sensitive and loaded up with instant dialing technology that sitting down or manipulating your body can cause the telephone to place an outgoing call without your knowing it.


The butt dial has led to some rather interesting events over the years.


Recently a life was saved because of a butt dial in Arkansas.


Larry Barnett unknowingly pocket dialed the intended victim of his murder plot while giving instructions to a hit man.


The intended victim heard the entire conversation and went straight to the police. Investigators uncovered a plot to blow up the poor man's  home.


Another butt dial is going to put Jason Bohn behind bars  for the rest of his life.


Danielle Thomas accidentally butt dialed a voice answering machine as Bohn was strangling her.


The chilling recording has the poor woman begging for her life throughout a 15 minute ordeal preserved as evidence in the prosecutor's case.


Lisa Meritz of the Huffington Post recently wrote about an intimate moment that she had with her husband.


The audio of that moment was accidentally overheard by one of her husband's business clients because of her hubby's inadvertent pocket dial.


My story is the way a butt dial inadvertently turned me into a hero.


I was talking to a very dear friend  about an associate who had been giving my friend a difficult time. As the conversation progressed, my friend butt dialed the very associate that was the subject of our discussion.


I was heard defending this associate ardently.


I listed several examples of the hard work and sincere effort of the gentleman who was the hot topic as I was speaking to my friend.


My friend and the associate were able to patch things up.


In the meantime, because of my kind words overheard, I was placed in very high regard.


My point is this.


The butt dial is here to stay. So watch what you say and where you say it.


And one more thing.


Be careful how you wiggle your tush.


You just might be dialing the White House and Michelle Obama doesn't need to hear how your hemorrhoids are doing.




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Long Island Medium causes extra large fear

It's high time  I got this off my chest.


On Sunday nights, The Learning Channel broadcasts a television program called the "Long Island Medium". My wife loves this show.


It features a middle-aged woman by the name of Theresa Caputo who is able to understand communications from the dead, which she then is able to pass on to the loved ones surviving the tragic loss.


I have to tell you that the program is pretty uplifting because Caputo is able to convey very important messages to those that are left behind.


The father who lost a son is  teary-eyed when Caputo explains to him that the son wants the father to know that the son's death was no fault of the father.


In other instances, a relative from the beyond, through the Long Island medium, explains why the survivor should not feel guilty for his absence at the very moment of death.


Also common from those that  cast in their chips is a directive to live one's life without fear and without guilt. The dearly departed is happy and she wants her family and her widowed husband to be happy also.


These readings in almost every instance are therapeutic for the living human who is the subject of these readings.


You can see the sense of relief and joy experienced by those who have been harboring the idea that they did something wrong or insensitive at the time a relative's death.


A great burden is lifted. The Long Island Medium preaches the gospel of forgiveness and compassion on behalf of those living beyond the grave.


In some ways, these messages really do make great sense because after all, who is more likely to be issuing forth with biblical advice than those that are  playing pinochle with Jesus.


Despite all of the positive feeling emanating from the compassionate work of the Long Island medium, I am troubled by a few aspects of this program.


And, by the way, it's not that I'm skeptical of her unique powers.


I believe that we all have a soul that lives on for eternity, so it doesn't seem  so far-fetched  to think that someone here on earth can hear messages conveyed to us by those we loved so much.


Think of it this way: we just don't have the equipment to receive the messages being transmitted.


But Theresa Caputo has a highly sophisticated radar dish so that she can hear things the rest of us are not equipped to receive.


I think her abilities are likely genuine.


What I'm troubled by is the source of her powers. I hope that her gifts come from God.


Problem is that it may be just as likely that her fantastic abilities come from a darker source.


Satanic rituals and other things occult frequently involve  receiving communications from spirits that once occupied bodies.


The Long Island Medium seems to be sincere in her desire to do good with the unique capabilities  apparently thrust upon her.


The problem that I have is that we just don't know who gave her these fantastic skills.


If it  comes from the good Lord, no one can criticize.


But maybe, just maybe, it all comes from the very dark nether world.


To me, there's no way to know for sure, and I'd rather just not take the chance.


So, Miss Caputo, you go ahead and read people so that you can hear the latest chatter from the other side.


Just in case source of your power is malevolent, I choose to stay clear of you and your abilities.


Make others happy, Long Island Medium.


But beware of the sinister that you may be unknowingly introducing or even unleashing.

Bottom line is that I am frightened by this TV show and what it might be embracing.

Caputo  I like but she  may be the dupe of the devil.

So let's  stear clear of this entertaining reader of souls.

And focus on our real problems in the real world.

We can get help from  a spiritual source if we want to.


It's called God.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Surprise the world with a spark of hope

Here's a story of human compassion that will warm your heart.


As an attorney, I have to occasionally visit a client in a correctional facility.


This past Saturday, I went to a State penitentiary.


It's dirty and old. Just what you'd expect. The furniture for visitors is molded plastic circa 1974.


Anyway, in the outer lobby of the building, there  sits a machine that accepts cash.


It's for the commissary account for the inmates.


You put cash into the machine and that cash goes into the commissary account for use by the prisoners.


This way, the jailbird can purchase extra food, snacks, socks, toiletries, or whatever the prison is willing to sell  them to make life on the inside a little more bearable.


Unfortunately, this machine requires a special identification card containing prisoner and visitor information. The device requires certain data to be entered before money is uploaded to the prisoners' accounts.


That's where the story begins.


As I waited in the lobby area, I noticed an elderly black man.


He was there to see his son.


But he wanted to put money on his son's commissary account and was having trouble navigating the device.


I was unfamiliar with this contraption and was unable to lend assistance.


That's when it happened.


A young girl, about 25, caucasian, wearing a navy wool coat, blue jeans, and a colorful knit beret, stepped forward.


She was quite beautiful in a haunting sort of way.


She was in the building to see her boyfriend who was doing time for drugs.


She had every reason to keep to herself, waiting  for the chance to see her beloved.


She had every reason to wallow in the cynicism  that was stifling in that room.


Instead, she went up to the old man to help.


She very kindly and gently assisted the senior citizen in dealing with the commissary vending machine.


He was confused but she was  patient and kind in her demeanor.


She helped him lovingly.


Everyone who observed the scene was uplifted.


There, in this dungeon where joy was never found, this young girl made us all smile with a sense of hope.


We've all heard that that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.


She lit a candle.


An old black man approaching senility confronts the sadness of his son's imprisonment, only to be embraced by an impromptu act of compassion.


I'll never forget it.


I was changed.


Yes, it's a crummy world we live in.


Filled with hate, war, poverty, and racism.


But within each of us there lurks the opportunity to reflect the image and likeness of God, in which, after all, we were all created.


Help the lonely, the frightened, and the confused when you encounter them.


Be a light in the darkness that surrounds you.





Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stubble stumbles in an effort to look cool

What's with the stubble?


It popped up several years ago, during the heyday of a show called Miami Vice.


Hunk actor Don Johnson portrayed a modern cool police detective in south Florida and he was never clean-shaven.


He went with the stubble look.


The trend continued to grow.


Brad Pitt strolled the red carpet at the Academy Awards with a whisker growth that looked like he'd just rolled out of bed after sleeping for three days. 


Look at a fashion magazine.


Male models are never clean-shaven.


Stubble means sexy.


Even those with gray hair have joined this new grungy style.


Remember Jason Giambi in his geriatric pinch hitting role for the Indians this last season?

I haven't seen so much salt and pepper on one man's face since Lucy threw the spice rack at Desi Arnez.


And how about Wolf Blitzer of CNN?


He's  the Senior News Correspondent who works hard to achieve that white whisker appearance.



What a change from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.


Back then you had the choice between clean-shaven or a full beard.


Going in between, that is, the stubble look, was considered shabby.


Remember the old hobo played by Red Skelton?


He wore raggedy clothes, uncombed hair, and he needed a shave.




But today the stubble has come into full bloom.


No wonder Gillette has increased the cost of razor blades.


We don't use them as often as we used to.


Here's something amazing.


Norelco now sells an electric razor designed not to give you a close shave.


It has a stubble setting that allows the user to regulate the stubble length.


You have the choice of three different settings:

One. I forgot to shave this morning.

Two. A wife-beater shirt would go nicely with this look.

Three.  I really don't give a crap what I look like but don't I appear a little dangerous.



Let me ask you ladies.


Is this scruffy, I haven't had a shave in 2 to 3 days look really such a turn-on?


Why did you change?


I remember when commercials used to feature a beautiful blonde stroking the  smooth cheek of a freshly shaved athlete as if to say that a close shave was the quickest route to landing a hot chick.


There's something about an Aqua Velva man!


For me, I like that feeling of a close shave.


I admit that it's a pain in the keister to shave every morning.


But it makes me feel clean and refreshed, ready to attack the day.




To me it means tired and unwashed.


So go ahead, stubble away.


I'm going clean-cut and freshly scraped of facial follicles.


Aqua Velva is in my bathroom cabinet.


Call me old-fashioned.


But I'm not rough hewn.


Not a bad boy.


A nice shave: soft as a baby's bottom.


Easy girls.


I'm taken.