Saturday, February 27, 2010

We All Have Our Pet Peeves

A Pet Peeve is something that always seems to aggravate you or "get your goat" so to speak. We all have them.

A former employee used to get very irritated when shoppers did not push their carts back to a holding pin in the store parking lot. Another person I know cannot stand a pen being repeatedly clicked in and out, as some folks do habitually, anywhere near him.

I suspect your pet peeves are coming to mind. I will share with you some of mine as well. I answer a lot of questions in my law practice, Bible teaching and even personally. So here are some in that regard:

I get aggravated when someone asks me a question and then does not even listen to the answer. It does not happen much, but I really struggle with that. I mean, why ask the question if you are not going to at least hear the answer? You don't have to agree, but don't ask another question ten seconds into an answer is being given. Or even worse, turn and talk to someone else while I was giving you an answer. After that happens once, I run out of the will give any more answers pretty quickly.

In that vein, I also do not appreciate when people wrongly summarize an answer or oversimplify an answer I gave. For example, if a person asks me about a potential case and I explain that I will have to "review their medical records to determine something." And they say something like, "So, you are saying we just don't have a case." It aggravates me a bit on two levels First, they could not have been listening. Second, I make a living with my words. I certainly could have looked at the them and said, "You don't have a case" if that is what I wanted to convey.

Or, one from this week, when some insurance adjuster with a bad attitude says he calls to "discuss" a case, but then only lowballs some offer in a "take it or leave it tone." That, I am afraid, it not a "discussion" of the merits and strengths of the case, and I think it is rude. Besides, it just hurts his insured client in the long run, because I sue his client.

And, what about the pet peeves about other folks' driving? I think at lot of us have those.

Folks doing 45 mph in the fast lane. Stopping at Yield signs with no traffic. Total inability to merge. Funny, that there are so many bad drivers out there, but I have yet to meet one that admits it.

What about pet peeves at stores?

Who enjoys being in a line for ten minutes, behind someone with enough groceries to feed the Memphis Grizzlies, who only begins to look for a checkbook in her oversize purse after everything is fully checked out? Seriously, was she just surprised she was asked to pay again? They want me to pay every single time. She pulls her "purse" up and puts it on the counter with a thud. She then empties it all out, pulling out her kleenexes, make up, photos, an extension ladder and a hair dryer, but cannot find that darn wallet. Then, when we all are so happy that she has located her wallet. She wants to write a check. She needs to borrow a pen. Then she has to write out the whole check. Slowly. The clerk with electroncially fill it in. But no, she writes it out. Then she stands there computing her check register and balancing her check book. Are you kidding me?

My Great Grandaddy used to say, "There ain't nothing wrong with this ole world, its just the people in it."

We all learn to live with these irritations of daily life. No doubt, I have done my share of aggravation to others as well.

For what it is worth, it hard to stay mad at someone that you are praying for. And, we really do not know what they have been through, or are facing. My Dad used to tell me that it is calming to just "assume that everyone is doing the best they can--maybe the best they have ever done--that very day."

That is good advice. So, God bless bless the bad listeners, slow folks in the fast lane and those who check out at glacial speeds, maybe you are just slowing me down a bit to appreciate this life a tad more. Who could stay mad at that?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life Insurance

Life Insurance is an afterthought for many. It was different for me.

Originally, when I was getting married, I contacted my agent to purchase a policy. My reasoning was simple: I was about be married to my beautiful bride and she may get pregnant. If so, that child is mine and I must still provide for him or her even if something happened to me. She could get pregnant and I could die not even knowing she was a few weeks along.

I am not sure why that occurred to me then, but I have been told before I think a little differently sometimes.

When I explained all this to my agent, he said "If everyone thought like you, I'd be rich!"

At any rate, 15 1/2 years later I have bought more insurance to protect my wife and the kids if I am the first to go see Jesus.

Generally, I strongly prefer TERM insurance. Only under unusual circumstances would I recommend whole life or one of its progeny.

Term is usually so cheap, it is a good buy. I strongly recommend its purchase while you are healthy enough to buy it cheap. A good rule of thumb on amount might be:
With all your debts paid off, could they live well on 5% annualized.

So, with a paid for house, and no notes, $500,000 policy may throw off 40 to 50K per year. Most people can sustain a nice lifestyle without debt and that income, plus any possible earnings. However, for a little more per month, a 1,000,000 is even more preferable. A goal is to allow your survivors to supplement their live though interest without touching the principal.

It can only be bought cheaply when you are young and healthy. So this is the time to think about it. And, be honest on the application, or they will deny your coverage, even after you die in some cases.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Society Today


A society can be judged by how we treat the most helpless among us.

The single most helpless life is a “fetus” (Greek for “baby”). We have aborted 50 million lives in what is supposed to be the safest place on earth, their own mother’s wombs. This loss of 50 millions souls is also a loss of a large work force as well. This is one reason why Social Security is bankrupt, as many of the terminated children would be working and paying in their share during the 37 years since abortion was legalized.
Further, people are quick to blame God for things like cancer. However, it is possible that the scientist destined to cure cancer was sent, and was aborted. Ironically, many who are rabid in their support for healthcare reform do not believe in the right of healthcare for the unborn. Future generations may well look back on this as the “slavery of our time”… a time when one “race” of people had no rights. Not even the right to life.

The way our society treats the elderly is also troubling. Nursing Homes in Tennessee are the fifth worse in the whole nation. Many chronically under staff and have trouble with getting good aides when they do hire one. No doubt there are some who just cannot be cared for at home. And, there are certainly good nursing homes out there, but I wind up having to sue those that mistreat the elderly, allow infected bedsores and repeated falls.

I often say that the World War II generation was our finest generation. Too many are just shelved at nursing homes while their children’s worlds are in turmoil due to serial divorces and constant activity. The economy seems to be set up for both parents to have to work outside the home, and thus entrust the state with the education of the children. This is a very recent concept. All this hurts another class of people: our children.

Were things really better “Back in the good old days?” In the 1950’s, a couple's work schedules in the 1950s, the husband probably had a 40-hour working week. The time commuting to work was much lower and other activities probably accounted for 55-60 hours of his waking time. The mother was often a stay-at-home mother, and usually took a job as a teacher, nurse or secretary to pay extra bills from time to time. There was more time and enough money to support this home-centered lifestyle.

Now, our kids are busy too. Many parents have their children involved in a whole range of outside activities such as competitive sports. Oddly, this is in an effort to give our kids the best in life. Some of the sports actually play on Sundays, preventing church attendance as a family. What little theology is taught today to kids is poked fun of at school, as atheistic evolution is taught as fact! Parents have missed the main thing to teach children, which is how to have a personal relationship with Christ, because it was not taught to them. Lost in one generation! Families are rarely sitting down at the table to eat dinner together in our society. And if many families did, they would be too busy texting friends to talk.

The way we treat our unborn children, our elderly and our young children tell much about our society. The world was not always like this. It does not have to continue to spiral downward. No one can change things in your family until someone decides they need to change. Decide to be a family that has dinner together, that attends a Bible-teaching church together, that honors traditional marriage, that takes a stand on issues based on principles (not convenience) and that makes a difference for the short time we are here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


There is a new way for you to be rip-offed.

Check your home AT&T bill for services for voicemail or email that are form a company other than AT&T. The usual culprits are "ESBI" or "Residential Email."

Usually they are only $12.00 -$15.00 each so you might miss them, but they will claim you signed up for monthly service.

They will cancel and promise a credit --but you must insist that ATT give you a temporary credit right now on the bill. Then ask ATT to "BLOCK all third party charges to your account."

There. I feel better.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tennessee's Nursing Home at the Bottom!!

Article on front page/top fold of the Tennessean…

TN nursing homes rank fifth worst in U.S.

Staffing levels are less than half what Medicare suggests

By Christina E. Sanchez

Poorly staffed">nursing homes have put Tennessee among the worst in the nation for quality of long-term care for a second year, a federal report shows.

Only four states had worse standings, according to a Tennessean data analysis.

That's because Tennessee has one of the lowest staffing requirements in the country — less than half of what Medicare recommends.

"We don't think the standard is enough," said Traci O'Kelley, assistant administrator at West Meade Place, one of only two nursing homes in the Nashville area to earn top marks in the survey.

But it is unlikely that facilities' staffing will get better anytime soon, in part because state law would have to require higher staffing levels, and funding for nursing homes would have to increase.

60% got low ratings

About 15,000 nursing homes nationwide got ratings of one to five stars, with five being the best, from the U.S.">Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The ratings are based on inspections, complaint investigations, staffing levels and other nursing home survey data collected in 2008 and 2009.

More than 60 percent of Tennessee's 319 nursing homes got low ratings — one or two stars — for staffing by registered nurses.

Overall, the state ranked in the bottom five. Only West Virginia, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana had lower average scores. However, Tennessee fared better than it did a year ago, when the star ratings earned the state's nursing homes a third-worst designation.

Tennessee's results were better this year in quality of care, which measures such factors as the number of patients developing bedsores and infections. Staffing levels remained the biggest problem.

"We have 319 nursing homes in the state. To have one out of four rated just as one star is a sign we are not doing our job in Tennessee," said Patrick Willard, AARP advocacy director.

Staffing law faulted

Advocates say the staffing level required by state law is not enough to care for nursing home residents, and that carries consequences: ignored bedside calls, medication errors and unanswered questions.

Under Tennessee law, each patient should have at least two hours of direct care each day, including 24 minutes of a licensed nurse's time. Standards in neighboring states vary, with Mississippi requiring 2.8 hours of direct care and Arkansas mandating more than 3.8 hours.

Medicare's standard of staffing is higher: four hours of care for each patient daily, including 55 minutes from a registered nurse.

"If you increase the minimum number of hours, then you are going to be pushing those nursing homes that are trying just to get by, and by doing that, you will improve the quality of care in nursing homes," Willard said.

To get a five-star rating for staffing, a nursing home must meet Medicare's standard. No nursing home in the Nashville area achieved five stars in that category.

West Meade Place earned four stars for staffing by registered nurses and three stars for overall staffing. O'Kelley, its assistant administrator, said the home strives to have more staff than is required. The 120-bed facility, which is usually 86 percent full, adjusts staffing based on patient volume and hires more nurses if needed.

"Because of acute care and patient needs, I don't think the job would be done effectively at that minimum staffing level," O'Kelley said.

Star system has flaws

The star system is useful as a starting point for families but should not be an end in itself, O'Kelley said.

"I am always amazed at how many people show up here just because we are a five-star facility, and had never stepped foot in here," she said. "People should visit, get to know the staff and ask around."

Proponents and critics of the star system say it is a useful tool, but it has flaws. Medicare tries to streamline the standards of all states into a one-size-fits-all scenario, they say.

"You have differences between states, different ideas about what constitutes a deficiency, and a lot of information is provided by the nursing homes themselves," Willard said. "It is a worthwhile measuring stick, but it is not the only tool for finding a facility for a loved one."

'A good first glance'

Medicare officials say a one-star rating does not mean a nursing home is a bad facility. All homes must meet baseline Medicare conditions, which are often higher than state standards.

"It's a good first glance for people," said Lee Millman, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Atlanta region, which includes Tennessee.

The agency even states on its own Web site that the report has limitations, noting that state requirements vary and that some data are self-reported and may reflect only a two-week period.

Medicare "uses a system of ranking for staffing that is based on desired staffing levels, not a required or mandated level," said Ron Taylor, executive director of the Tennessee Health Care Association. "Using that staffing level, a lot of facilities that have good, quality service don't rank really high because they don't meet (Medicare's) standard. But they meet the state standard."

Keith Smith, administrator and CEO of Spring Meadows Health Care Center in Clarksville, said it's good that the government tried to keep the ratings simple, but the program needs serious work.

"The whole system was very prematurely implemented and fundamentally flawed," Smith said. "But we try to work with it."

Spring Meadows received an overall one-star rating. It moved up in the area of quality from one star to three.

The ratings for staffing and surveys focus on regulatory compliance, not quality of care and outcomes, he said.

"I'm all about the public having a good tool to evaluate, but this is not it," he said.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Free Credit Reports Not Always Free

If you watch even a bit a television, you have heard the catchy tune for
It is not really free, unless you can cancel before the subscription ensues. Otherwise, you will be paying more than $100.00 dollars a year.
There is a free way however. Our government has set up a truly free website called You can get a free report from each of the credit agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. But, you must only get one per agency PER YEAR.
This will come in very handy if you are monitoring your credit to clean up a mess, or to get in shape to purchase a home for your family. If you are disciplined enough, you can actually order one report from each agency in four month intervals. Since they mostly reflect each other’s data, this should help you monitor your situation until your goals are met.
Here is the inside track on what makes up your credit score:
35% - PAYMENT HISTORY – The longest possible history of never being late or missing a payment means a good safe risk for bankers.
30% - AMOUNT YOU OWE – The amount you owe on credit cards, auto loans, and your current mortgage, divided by the total of all credit available to you, as a percentage. The closer to 80% or higher, the worse you look to bankers.
15% - LENGTH OF CREDIT – Best scores are reserved for those who have had credit for the longest time.
10% - LAST APPLICATION FOR CREDIT – Recent credit applications can indicate a “need” for money, which hurts you. (Ordering your own credit score report from one of three bureaus does not count).
10% - THE TYPES OF CREDIT YOU USE –Installment loans are items like car loans and mortgages, which are best. Revolving loans like credit cards count less.
A good credit score can also help you get lower rates on insurance, loans, and even help you get a job. I truly hope this information is helpful to you.

You do Not have for your do not Ask

You Do Not Have, For You Do Not Ask

Throughout my life I fell that I have been rewarded by being kind but bold enough to ask for what I would like.
For instance, the recent snow canceled our flights and put us a day late getting to our hotel. Our hotel reservations where expressly “non-cancellable” and “non-refundable.” However, by gently seeking the refund anyway, it was approved for our delayed arrival.
In a legal case involving a work-related injury, I had a letter from the other attorney stating the maximum that they would ever pay. The only way that would be increased is in the unlikely event that one of the two treating doctors changed their final rating.
Again, it is rare for a workers compensation doctor to change his rating, but I both of them asked anyway. One of them did not change it, but the other did. The increased rating led to a settlement well in excess of the “maximum” that was named earlier.

How often would people work with us if we kindly but firmly asked for what we would like? The Bible reminds us “we have not for we ask not.”
This principle also applies to our marriages and other relationships.
In the church or workplace, how many times are we doing things just because “They have always been done that way.” It is good to ask occasionally “Does this help us meet our goals?”
For instance, what a husband and a wife each feel is “romantic” virtually never match up. That is why it is so important to let your spouse know what you need and not have them just guess.
The best illustration of not knowing how to help because we never even asked is an old story about a couple coming home late from their 50th anniversary party. He offers to make sandwiches and gives her the one made with the heelpiece from the end of the loaf. She explodes, “For fifty long years you have given me the heel piece and I am sick of it!” He looks saddened, and softly says, “But that is my favorite piece.”