Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “December, 2014”


Usually, I get up while it is still dark to let the dogs out. I know my way down the stairs and we have a nightlight on the landing. This morning was different. I smelled smoke and there was a haze in the front room. I let the dogs out the front door, then checked the wood-burning stove. I thought maybe smoke was leaking from it, but there were no smouldering embers from the night before. So I went into our sunroom/dining room (there is a photo on my About page showing the view from that room) because there is another fireplace there, a propane one with fake logs encased in glass on both the inside and the outside, so the fire can also be seen from the deck.

The glass compartment was filled with smoke. I had turned off the fire before we went to bed, so that was alarming. I turned off the propane. I went upstairs and awakened my wife. I told her to go to the bunkhouse. I called 911. We opened windows. Sugar wisely got a fire extinguisher and sprayed fire retardant on the bottom of the fireplace. I opened the gate for the fire trucks. I forgot it automatically closes when a vehicle passes over a loop in the lane. Sugar remembered and disabled it before the trucks got there.

The firefighters tore out the fireplace and the charred floor below it. There were never flames, just smoke. They extinguished the source of it. However, that left a hole in our wall about 5 feet by 5 feet. The temperature was very cold. Tonight it is 9 below zero. We will be sleeping in the bunkhouse.

I can guess what you are wondering, especially if you saw Lassie warn humans of fire and other dangers, and if you have read about dogs and even cats saving families sleeping during a fire. You are wondering why our dogs did not awaken us. Me too.

You are wondering why our smoke alarms did not go off. Me too.

We are grateful to the firefighters who saved our house and to God who saved us. Now about those dogs — not so much.

Magic Words

In my previous post, The Enabler, I wrote about a young woman who failed to take responsibility for a fatal traffic accident that she caused. Her attitude caused even more emotional pain. Today I am sharing a couple other stories from my law practice.

I represented a woman I will call Tessa (not her real name). Tessa is a grandmother who has been married to her husband since they were teenagers. Her husband is retired. Prior to the accident, she was working part-time at WalMart. The subject accident was caused by a young man driving over 100 miles per hour, who side-swiped Tessa’s car and sent it into a ditch along the highway, “de-gloving” her right hand and causing back and hip injuries. Her medical bills exceeded $200,000.00. I won’t describe the details of her case. You will just have to use your imagination about what an excellent lawyer I am. Although I like to talk about that subject, I am writing to make another point, which is that there was another aspect to this case as well. In addition to my dealings with three different insurance companies for the civil case, the young driver at fault also faced criminal charges. I accompanied my clients to his sentencing for the “victim impact statement” to the judge.

At the sentencing hearing, after we addressed the court, the young defendant was given an opportunity to speak. He turned to my client, her husband, adult children and even some grandchildren who attended. He told Tessa and her family how sorry he was. He wept with remorse about the damage he had caused. That meant a lot to Tessa. She told me how much better she felt after meeting him and hearing him say he was sorry. Her attitude toward him changed. She lost the bitterness that she had been feeling. She forgave him. And that did her heart good. And his.

As another example of the healing power of forgiveness, I represented an older woman who had a premises liability case against Albertsons, a supermarket. Albertsons had fought the claim. We filed suit. We went through the litigation process, which included a settlement conference with a mediator prior to trial.

The vice president for risk management for Albertsons flew to Colorado from corporate headquarters in another state. He wanted to attend the settlement conference. He wanted to meet my client. He was a nice man in person. He told my client how sorry he was about what happened to her at his store, which was a bad fall into a display case, causing injuries that required back surgery. He came up with enough money to settle the case. After we settled, my client remarked, “Now I can shop at Albertsons again.” That was her neighborhood grocery store, but during the case against them she felt that she was not welcome there.

The settlement involved more than money. It allowed her to feel regarded as a person with a valid claim that Albertsons wanted to make right.

There is power in a sincere apology and acceptance of the apology with forgiveness.

The Enabler

They were friends and classmates, each girl 18 years old and two weeks from high school graduation when they went for a ride after school.  The driver inexplicitly pulled out from a stop sign on a county road and started to cross a busy U.S. highway into the path of a semi-tractor trailer, which crashed into the passenger side of the car, instantly killing the passenger.  The driver survived.  Her injuries were not serious.

The parents of the girl who died belonged to our church.  They came to me to represent them in the wrongful death case.

Understandably, they were grief-stricken.  Their Christian faith and community of friends comforted them.  Still, they struggled to come to grips with the tragedy. They wisely went to grief counseling.  Their out-of-pocket charges amounted to something around $400.00.  Money well spent.

We recovered all the liability insurance available.  That is my job.  They generously used the money to set up a foundation in honor of their daughter.  The foundation provides scholarships for students at the university she would have attended;  the driver did attend that same school where the friends had planned to go together.  They had planned to stay friends in college.  They had looked forward to that next stage of life.   Sadly, that was not to be.

The young driver faced some charges.  I think it was “careless driving resulting in death.”  At the sentencing hearing, the District Attorney asked for some restitution.  Although we had recovered substantial money in the civil case, the criminal case is separate.  The settlement money came from the insurance company for the driver who caused the collision.  The criminal case is for punishing the defendant driver.  The parents of the girl she killed attended the sentencing.  They did not want revenge.  They told the D.A. they did not want their daughter’s friend to go to jail.   I told the D.A. before the sentencing that it would be a nice gesture for the defendant to be required to pay for the grief counseling as a condition of probation.  It was not much money, but would be appropriate and even symbolic.  The D.A. agreed.

So, at the sentencing, the D.A. recommended that the defendant pay $400 to the parents as restitution for the grief counseling sessions.  The mother of the defendant was also present.  She addressed the court, “My daughter can’t pay that.  She is in college and is in a sorority.  She needs all the money she made this summer for those expenses.”  Apparently, this mother had no empathy for the mother and father who lost their daughter through the fault of HER DAUGHTER.  Apparently, she saw her daughter as some kind of victim for being asked to pay $400 that she would rather spend on sorority fun.  And that is what she is teaching her daughter, rather than the hard lesson that there are consequences to one’s actions, rather than the importance of remorse.

The daughter who died in the accident did not get to attend college and party at a sorority.

Parents, teach your children, starting when they are around two years old, that when they hurt someone, they need to learn to say, “I’m sorry.”

Easier Said Than Done









Governor Lamm’s Speech on Destruction of America

How To Destroy America

By: Dick Lamm | Sat, Mar 25, 2006

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(Editor’s note: A 2004 speech on the dangers of multiculturalism in the United Stated titled “I Have a Plan to Destroy America”, became famous after being frequently forwarded as an email. With the immigration debate again heating up, it is time to revisit the speech. Reprinted with permission.)

We know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Recently there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American’s finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Davis Hansen talked about his latest book, Mexifornia, explaining how immigration – both legal and illegal was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, “If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'”

“Here is how they do it,” Lamm said:

“First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country.” History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.’ Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.”

Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, “Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

Third, “We could make the United States an ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.’ Lamm said, “I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.”

“Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high. school.”

“My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.”

“My sixth plan for America’s downfall would include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. E. Pluribus Unum — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘pluribus’. Instead of the ‘Unum,’ we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.”

“Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobe’ halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.”

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, “Lastly, I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book, Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.”

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Even barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate ‘diversity.’ American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America – take note of California and other states – to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell’s book, 1984. In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.”

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that the future of our great nation is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don’t get this immigration monster stopped quickly, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

Christmas Morning Memories

Up at dawn, awakened by dogs shaking collars, the signal for wanting out, I got the message and obeyed.

While they were outside per their request, my lovely wife was still asleep, and I dutifully started the coffee.

Then, a model of efficiency, as coffee brewed, I fed the dogs on the deck and even ventured barefoot to the woodpile.

I started a fire in the wood-burning stove, which I especially like because it has glass doors in front for viewing the flames.

The front room was still half-dark, the light half illuminated by the fire, the orange dawn in east windows, and the tree.

There is something about a Christmas tree’s lights in combination with the burning logs for a cozy Christmas feeling.

I let the dogs back inside and poured a cup of coffee.  The three of us went to the loveseat in front of the fire.

As I sipped my coffee, one Yellow Lab laid next to me on the loveseat while the other laid at my feet.

In this quiet time, my mind recalled memories of other Christmases, and the people who share particular memories of them.

The sleeping lady upstairs is of course one of those people and will share this Christmas with me too, for which I am glad.

Other people are far away today, in other places, including Heaven.  My earthly father art there now, greatly missed here.

This pleasant experience in this place on this Christmas morning has now become another Christmas memory.
Christmas call

Institutional Racism in Denver

The chief of police in Denver is a black man.  The mayor of Denver is a black man.  He is not the first black mayor of Denver.   The president of our country is black.  So is the attorney general.  It should be encouraging to black youths that there are opportunities for high office regardless of race.  What is so unfair about these examples of successful black leaders is that it has become much more difficult to make race an excuse for lack of achievement.

Sorry Ride

I did not have a bicycle yet, but I wanted one.  I did not know how to ride a bike yet, but I wanted to.  My cousin, Don, four years older, had a cool bike.  It was quite a bit bigger than my tricycle.

Don lived on a street that was on a hill.  I knew about gravity, just not what it was called.  I had a wagon that rolled down hill but not up hill.  Sleds work on the same scientific principle.

So, I pushed the bicycle up the hill a few houses.  Don’s house was second from the bottom, right before the busy cross street that connected to the highway.  Don’t worry, I knew better than to go on the highway.

It was difficult to get onto the seat and to reach the pedals.  In fact, that might have been the problem — difficulty reaching those silly pedals.  Of course, one does not need pedals for a tire to roll downhill.  One does need pedals to apply the brakes on the type of bicycle Don had.  I am not sure that made a difference.  My trike did not have brakes.  Neither did my wagon nor my sled. I did not know to push back on the pedal to brake. Of course, that would have required long enough legs.

Somehow, I got onto the seat of the bike and got the bike to head down the hill.  Excellent balance I suppose.  Brains, not so much.

As the speed accelerated and the highway approached, I had to figure out how to stop the dang thing.  Brilliantly, I crashed the bike into a tree.  Unfortunately, the collision damaged the bike and also my self esteem.

There was no hiding what had just occurred, nor who was at fault.

Don came out of the house.  He was very nice, very forgiving.  My parents were less understanding.

Among other things they said, they told me to tell Don that I was sorry.  That was easy.  I was sorry.  I was very sorry.  I was as sorry as I had ever been in my life.

It was wrong of me to wreck Don’s bike.  I did not intend that result, but I was responsible for that damage.

Recently, an adult friend who caused damage to our friendship explained that he did not mean to hurt me by what he did.  He was not remorseful because his motive was pure (like mine in not meaning to wreck the bike).  So I told him that, regardless of intent, damage was done.  Then he said that he was sorry.  I appreciated it because it seems that I am not as nice as Cousin Don, who forgave even before the apology.  He is more Christ-like than am I.  It is easier for me to forgive a person who says he is sorry.

About Ferguson – Things I Told My Sons

Life In The Gym

*Warning – This is another off topic post but something that has been on my mind.  Actually, I do a lot of thinking while doing cardio so I suppose it’s related, albeit distantly, to my workouts.

Racism exists in this world. That’s an indisputable fact. America has waged a long and reasonably successful struggle against institutional racism but if you look you will be able to find instances where you can rightly point to someone who has been treated badly solely because of their race. If those cases come to your attention, you can throw your energy behind peaceful efforts to see that the wrongs are righted and to help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

That’s correct action. That’s working in the right direction and it’s doing what our Christian faith asks of us. We are to be defenders of innocents who can’t defend themselves.

Michael Brown…

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Puppyback Ride

Yesterday, I wrote about experiences with eagles and a dog.  Another day, another story.  This one involves two dogs and a cat.

Beau, the subject of many stories, disappeared for awhile.  We have trained him to come when called.  Usually he does.  Today, he did not.  The Yellow Lab was missing.  Sugar was worried.  I was worried too and mad.  Sugar thought someone stole him.  I thought that a far-fetched theory.  For one thing, we have very little traffic.   For another, who would want him?

We called and whistled.  Sadie was home.  Beau was out of sight.

He had been with me when I fed the horses at the barn earlier.  I had fed the dogs and cats too.  Then I went inside to shave and shower.  Sugar interrupted my tasks.  So I went outside with shaving cream on my face.  I hiked along the irrigation ditch.  I saw paw prints, but I am not a good tracker.  I failed to locate Beau.  Sugar was successful.

She had called a neighbor.  The neighbor is half a mile away.  He had seen Beau heading up the road, then into a cow pasture.  Sugar got into her car.  She met the dog as he headed home.

He was glad to see her.  He had no guilt.  He is unrepentant.  He always thinks that he is funny.  What was not funny is that he seriously delayed my departure to the office.  He did not care.

That was this morning.  You won’t guess what happened this afternoon.  Sugar was outside with the untrustworthy dogs.  She came into the kitchen laughing.  Here is what she told me:

“I was walking with the dogs when something jumped out of the tall grass and landed on Sadie’s back.  It was our cat, Jiggsy, and he rode Sadie for at least eight feet.  Sadie did not do anything to get the cat off except to trot and then the cat fell off.  I think he has ridden her before.”

We have all heard of piggyback rides.  Maybe the cat has too.  Should we get him a pig?

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