IMG_3136-300x225I hired a “friend” (yes, air quotes) to do my kitchen cabinets a few years ago.  I overpaid for the entire project because it was helping a friend that needed the money.  Unfortunately, I got screwed toward the end of the job.  I could have sued.  It was so bad, I could have pressed criminal charges.   As my significant other will attest, I still harbor anger over this situation.  Yes, forgiveness would help me out some, but when it comes to getting ripped off by someone you thought was your friend, its easier said than done.

There are entire books written on “How To Forgive”, and these books make forgiveness seem like some sort of science.  Just follow the charts and checklists, and you’ll be healed.  But it’s not a science and I’ve never heard a satisfactory explanation as to what happens inside of me when I forgive.    When people say “I need you to forgive ME”, they’re just looking to gain the outward effects of forgiveness.  Let’s say a wife cheats on her husband–and consequently gets the angry cold shoulder forever–the wife’s hope of forgiveness is just that her husband will bring back the love and warmth he once had for his wife.

I get it.  The world would be a better place if we all forgave each other–but how do you do that?  Most importantly, what happens on the inside?

I don’t know.

I didn’t press charges on the contractor “friend” that did my kitchen.  Our real life example case for today involved a similar situation where charges were pressed over a kitchen deal gone bad.  In Leggett v. State, a homeowner hired a carpenter Carl Leggett to remodel her kitchen.  2018 Fla.App.LEXIS 701 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018).  The homeowner gave Leggett a $2,250 check as a deposit to start the work, and they had an agreement that this work was to be completed within 2 weeks.  So far, so good, right? Continue Reading

cardboard_box_love-300x224Do you know how many people died last year in car accidents?  Worldwide, 1.3 million people.

How safe are airplanes, compared to cars?  For the same time period, 324 people died in plane crashes.  Again, 1,300,000 people died in cars (these are 2016 stats, and yes, I know its 2018).

Now, airplanes are interesting because some planes are designed to shoot down other planes and you would think this would drive up the airplane death stats significantly.  This is what makes being a fighter pilot such a tough business.  We all know the stress involved because, after all, who can forget Tom Cruise losing his best friend “Goose” in Top Gun?  That was a true story, wasn’t it?   If not, at least Fargo is a true story, isn’t it?

There are lots of theories on how to win a fighter jet battle like those found in Top Gun.  The most famous book on the subject, Aerial Attack Study, was written by the guru John Boyd.   Boyd’s book said lots of things the military didn’t want to hear: the best pilot doesn’t win the fight.  The best fighter jet doesn’t win the fight.  Contrary to popular military opinion, “perfection” in a dog fight is not the goal.

When Boyd wrote Aerial Attack Study, there were only two fighter jets worth a damn: the Russian Mig and the American F-16.  Have you ever checked the stats of, say, a Porsche 911 versus a Dodge Dart?  The Porsche has more horsepower.  It has a higher top speed.  It is faster 0-60 mph.  Same deal with the Russian Mig fighters: the Mig won in every category.  It had a higher top speed.  It had more firepower.  Better range.

So, why is it that our F-16’s have won every fight with a Mig, ever?

Because our F-16’s change direction faster than a Mig.  That’s all.  Just that one thing.  Agility.  Sure, the Mig was a more “perfect” plane statistically–stronger, faster, blah blah blah.   But, the ability of an F-16 to change direction faster than a Mig made it so that our pilots could outmaneuver the Mig every time.  And that was the crux of Boyd’s advice–build a plane with more agility, and you win.

The lesson here?   You don’t have to be perfect.  But you must be agile.  If you’re not moving in the right direction at first, change directions before your opponent knows what hit them.

Agility wins in business too.  Was YouTube a perfect company when it started in 2005?  Hardly.  YouTube started as a dating site, with the slogan “Tune In, Hook Up.”   And, you know the rest of that story.  Continue Reading

fostex-8-track-e1516227725568-225x300I’ve been recording bands and artists since my high school days, but I sold my recording studio back in 2010.  Recently, I was going through a box of wires (junk) and I stumbled across some old ADAT tapes, and reel to reel tapes.

Now, there’s something you should know about these tapes.  You cannot play them in an ordinary reel t0 reel machine, because these tapes were made especially for use with my old 8-track Fostex recorder.  Same goes for the ADAT tapes.  These tapes are, technically, VCR tapes, but they don’t work in a VCR, they only play on an Alesis ADAT multitrack machine.  I got a little sentimental when I ran across these old band recordings, but I just don’t have the equipment to play these tapes.

These band memories captured on ADAT and Fostex are lost forever.  Maybe forever is slightly dramatic, given the fact that I can pay a ridiculous ransom to some “vintage collector” and maybe, just maybe, these old units will work.  But, you get the point.  Technology has changed so much during my lifetime that I can’t even play the memories I once made.

This whole train of thought came from an interesting article by Robby Berman, Is There Going to Be a Big Hole in History Where the 21st Century Was?   His point is pretty simple.  At some point in the future, your kids will reach “an age when they want to know who their parents were, what they thought, and what they felt.  One day the kids will come across a trunkful of these intimate messages on USB thumb drives, hard drives, or solid-state drives–and have no way to read them.  The same will be true for the thousands of digital childhood photos we’ve been taking, and which they’ll be desperate to see.  Absent a trip to a hardware archivist or local museum, all this silicon might just as well return to its original form–sand–for all the good it will do.  Experts are concerned that this time, now, in the 21st century, may well be the future’s ‘digital dark age,’ with nothing ultimately left behind to tell our story for future generations.” [Berman’s article accessed 1/17/18] Continue Reading

pouch-300x225Big charges make the news.  Defense attorneys love big cases because their egos enjoy coverage on the evening news.  Heck, lawyer egos even enjoy the bought-and- paid-for attention manufactured from incessant TV ads and billboards.  And, if you know nothing about attorneys, please know that they have quite the egos.

The ego stroking options are endless for attorneys, big cases aren’t the only way to go.  When I first started defending criminal accusations back in 1993, all the new lawyers at the public defender’s office bragged endlessly about their jury trials, even to the point of chest pounding the likes of which you haven’t seen since the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey (One of the best movie intros ever? Certainly makes the Top Ten List).  At my old PD office, when an attorney was about to begin a trial, a loud ego blast (email) would go out office wide, saying something like “picking 6, someone please cover my office conferences”.  No, this attorney never had anything to cover, but at least the whole office knew what a “fighter” he/she was.

A particularly annoying fad of late is the rash of attorneys who write “books”.   I don’t consider these books to be real “books”,  that’s why I’m using air-quotes.  Unfortunately, books are now like a business card, a marketing tool, rather than something that can add value to folks lives.  Call me old fashioned, but I say write a good book or don’t bother.

And, this brings us to an important question someone smarter than I formulated: Am I saying this because I want to sound smarter than everyone or am I saying this because it needs to be said?  Continue Reading

IMG_4561-300x225Storytelling is important.  There are books out there that claim to teach storytelling, but its more of an art than a science, so I’m not super confident much can be learned from a book.  The most common example of this is learning how to swim.  Sure, you can read a book that will “teach” you how to swim–but if you’ve never been in the water–that book knowledge may not be a safe way to go.  I’m just saying.

I owned a record studio for many years, and storytelling can make or break a recording artist.  Much like psychologists who love to study twins separated at birth, we studio geeks love to study the course of the same story told by different singers.  One classic example of this is a song Otis Redding wrote and recorded in 1965, “Respect.”  The song did well on the soul charts, but when Aretha Franklin sang Otis’ song in 1967, she told a different story with the same lyrics.  She made history with this song, really.  Same lyrics as Otis.   Absolutely owned it.  The same effect was not had when Phil Collins covered The Supremes’ classic “You Can’t Hurry Love”.  Diana Ross’ vocals are  classic on that track, and Phil Collins didn’t come close to wrestling ownership away from The Supremes.

Do you think that cops get tired of hearing everyone’s story?

The problem is, everyone thinks they can talk their way out of a criminal charge.  This is America, and even though folks have the right to have an attorney present, not everyone exercises this right.  Yes, this is a bad idea on many levels.  Remember, there is an art to storytelling, and even true stories come out sounding fishy once the police get done misquoting you.  But, every now and then the right story will get a case dismissed.  Sure, I’m spoiling the ending, but it will be an interesting ride. Continue Reading

math-300x195Tech people are a pretty cocky bunch.  Most tech believers will tell you that all of human “progress” has come via technology.  Obviously, they’re not focusing on our more deadly weapons or better ways to destroy the environment, they’re bragging about the most basic technologies–like how to start a fire.  After all, if we were still trying to figure out how to start a fire, you wouldn’t be reading this right now, and we would all be eating the original paleo diet.

Often, new technologies mean job losses to someone, somewhere.  When elevators were first invented, nobody trusted these machines to magically transport them to another floor.  So, a human being was employed full time to operate the elevator.  Eventually, the “Elevator Operators Union” (it still exists) lost 17,000 jobs with the advent of automatic elevators.  And, who can forget the autoworkers losing their jobs to bright yellow robots who could build cars smarter, better, faster?

Its not fair to single out the robots, or the invention of automatic elevators.  For example,  9,000 Blockbuster Video locations shut their doors once the internet started delivering movies.  Nobody that I know of has ever stood up for the Blockbuster store clerks that are now unemployed.

Technology seems to be bored with wrecking blue collar jobs in manufacturing.  Rumor has it technology is also after my job.  Yes, good old fashioned white collar attorney jobs.  I had a fairly wealthy friend recently do his will from forms purchased over the internet (LegalZoom, I think).  Ten years ago, he would have hired an attorney at 10 times the price.  And, hey, let’s not forget all the accountants that have lost a job to TurboTax. Continue Reading

commandments-e1479328886963-225x300There seems to be a trend toward labeling everything, so that stuff we deem unhealthy is now considered a “disorder”.  For example, it used to be that some people were just skinny, and some were fat.  Now, if you eat too much or eat too little,  we call this an eating “disorder”.

It used to be that some kids were simply more energetic than others.  Now, we say these energetic kids have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Back in the day, these kids may have simply been funneled into activities that would burn off that energy, like dancing, for example.  A good teacher knew how to handle such kids.  Now, pharmaceuticals tend to be the preferred method of addressing ADD.  Sad, I think, but I’m no doctor.

And, it used to be that if someone was an asshole, we would all just acknowledge that the person is an asshole.  Now, we have something called Empathy Deficit Disorder (EDD).  You’re not a jerk now, modern science claims you just have a disorder.  I liked the old label better.

IMG_4420-300x225I belong to a nice health club.  Just by looking at me, you wouldn’t get the impression that I actually work out, but I’m a member.  I’ve got that going for me.  It does make me feel better to buy memberships and healthy things.

Have you ever seen that guy that’s always working out, yet never seems to make any progress?  That’s me.  As an “in shape” friend once told me–you can’t outrun your mouth.

Anyway, back to the gym.  Inside the men’s locker room we have a hot tub, a cold plunge, a steam room, a sauna, and tons of showers.  All of which is just to say that we need lots of towels.  The problem is, some guys don’t pick up after themselves.  Dirty towels everywhere.  Shocking, I know.

Now, there are some really great guys working in men’s locker room, making sure the place is clean and bringing us a constant supply of fresh towels.  These workers are the nicest folks you’ll ever meet, and they work for peanuts.  The least we could do for these guys is pick up after ourselves.  Its common decency, really.

On one recent occasion (which is why I’m writing about this), a fellow gym member must have had five towels on the floor.  He then packed up his things to leave, making no attempt to pick up after himself.  Another member gently mentioned to him that the towel deposit bins are just a few feet from where he was standing.  As you might expect, the towel offender was having none of that, snapping back “I pay enough dues every month, and that’s not my job.”

Actually, our health club requires members to pick up after themselves.  That is a member’s only job outside of paying the monthly dues.

At some point, we have all worked with someone who simply will not do their job.  Sure, they show up to work.  Sure, they answer their phone.  To an outsider, nothing looks amiss.  But everyone working with them–the people who know exactly what they should be doing–we know that they’re not really doing their job.

Speaking of people not doing their job, what defense attorney rant would be complete without mentioning judges? Continue Reading

tv-old-226x300Lots of folks have a pretty positive vision of the future of humanity–so long has technology is there to save us.  Some people would even go so far as to claim that all human progress stems from technological advancements.  After all, where would we be if someone way back when didn’t figure out how to start a fire?

Technology certainly has its advantages, and I’m a big fan.  Yes, I will buy the latest iPhone at some ridiculous price, because I love it. But, I’m not so diluted as to think that the world is, somehow, a much better place because of it.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  A hammer, for example, can be used to build someone a house, or crush someone’s skull (gratuitously graphic, sorry).  Having more tools doesn’t, necessarily, make the world a better place.   Because technology is only a tool, the world may not be much of a better place unless we all use our tools to benefit others.

One thing is certain: technology is bad for folks with criminal records.  Fifty years ago, it was tough to track down some misdemeanor petit theft from Walmart.  Now, criminal arrest records are visible within hours of the incident.   One way to fix this problem is to seal or expunge the arrest.

Today’s case involves one man’s quest to have his criminal history sealed forever.  To understand what went wrong, we have to dig deep into what it takes to get a record sealed or expunged (sealing and expunging are virtually the same thing, more on that some other time). Continue Reading

Self-help is everywhere.  But, which approach works best?IMG_2925-e1508532095556-300x239

At the risk of oversimplifying things, self-help falls into two categories.  For some, the focus is on thoughts.  Change your thinking, change your life.  Flooding your mind with positive thinking will, theoretically, lead to positive outcomes (there’s some physics behind this, believe it or not).   I’ve run my own experiment, contemplating the positive that would come out of winning the lottery.  I’m sad to report that my positive thinking has had no impact as of yet.

Some self-help folks shy away from positive thinking, and believe that emptying our brains of its constant chatter helps improve things greatly (monks chanting prayers, meditation, and so forth).  I’ve tried this too, with mixed results (my prayers seem to work, but I haven’t prayed to win the lottery…).

For every Ying, there’s a Yang.  There are also self-help programs that believe changing your thoughts is useless.  A waste of time.  For them, change only comes with action.  Change what you “do”, and you’ll change who you “are”.

Is it our actions that change us, or our thoughts?  Well, it’s probably both, working together in some vicious cycle I’m unqualified to discuss much further.  But I will say this:  sometimes, the best way to help yourself is to “not” do something.  Most of my clients could have helped themselves greatly, had they just not confessed to the cops.  Or, had they just refrained from doing something illegal.  Shocking, I know.

We Americans have a privilege against incriminating ourselves.  This privilege against self-incrimination is found in the Fifth Amendment, and you’ve probably heard Miranda Warnings on cop shows where folks are being told that they have a right to remain silent because if they talk–it will be used against them. Continue Reading