Homeless and Hungry. Lessons First Learned. And the Government Can’t Feed Me

Homeless and Hungry. Lessons First Learned. And the Government Can’t Feed Me

Stories of Life
As both fists of my father’s hands hit the dining table, drinks from the three couples’ gilded glasses spilt onto the fine linen tablecloth below. “You did what?”  While his crescendo may not have matched that of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, it nonetheless made a riveting impression on those in attendance. Good guests all, everyone, including my mother and I, sat silent. I was amazed, having never before seen this side of my father’s behavior. Others had seen this type of reaction before in others, as evidenced by the betrayal on their faces. But not me. I had just witnessed what a group of incredulous people looked like. I was in the fourth grade and had much to learn. That night I would learn much. It seems…
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CAMs – Beware Mount Mulch-More

CAMs – Beware Mount Mulch-More

Stories of Life
If you are a Community Association Manager (CAM) or someone charged with the responsibility of managing landscapes, you have a rough and rugged road upon which to travel. And tradition informs us that many have lost their way; few have become independently wealthy and most dread the subject of landscape maintenance. This is especially true in warm weather regions where plants grow year-round. It does not matter what your job title or your job description is. You are the manager of a tree farm and plant nursery. You have as many or more trees and plants in your client’s property than most tree farms or plant nurseries grow in their entire inventories. The owner of the tree farm and plant nursery is your client: the association’s Board of Directors.  Your…
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A FAREWELL TO MAGGIE: FAT CATS AND BUSBOY BUCKETS

A FAREWELL TO MAGGIE: FAT CATS AND BUSBOY BUCKETS

Stories of Life
When the phone rings after midnight, it is typically bad news. This phone call was no exception.  I was driving with a million other people along an interstate trying to beat hurricane Florence to the punch and return home prior to her landfall. Had I heard that Maggie died?   My senses were immediately arrested as the chords of memory played out along a well-traveled highway with no gasoline or place to eat or sleep. And if anything went through my mind, it was the lessons learned from a waitress in a restaurant long before most readers of this post were born. Maggie was not any waitress. And the restaurant where we worked together was not just any restaurant: The Gulf View restaurant was a place where fat cats went…
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Mrs. Stanford’s Pecan Pie

Mrs. Stanford’s Pecan Pie

Legal
And so it came to pass that I found myself at trial. Not just any trial. This was eminent domain, the government’s, or any condemning authority’s, right to take our property if it can demonstrate the taking serves the most good for the most people. The authority retains experts to assess the value of what shall be taken to ensure that the offer is just compensation in the marketplace. Article 5, the Bill of Rights. Of course, one side’s opinion of just compensation differs from the other side’s idea of just compensation. And that is where the rubber meets the road, and where the mischief begins in many situations. In this matter, I was retained by the property owner’s attorney. At issue was the value of pecan trees in a grove…
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Consider the Evidence from All Sides Before Passing Judgement on the Claimant’s Validity

Consider the Evidence from All Sides Before Passing Judgement on the Claimant’s Validity

Legal
Joe Samnik, Consulting Forensic Arborist If I’m going to be honest with myself, I must admit that one of the components associated with my mental Rolodex boils down to these questions: Does this claim have merit?  Is the claimant being honest and straightforward with regard to his claim?  One of the things that piqued my curiosity when entering the accident scene itself was the serenity juxtaposed to the landscape. It was a quiet site in nature. The speed limit was 10 miles an hour. And I observed that speed limit not because it was posted but because of the calmness and peculiar layout of the entry drive. Next to the entry drive was the remnant portion of a large palm tree species called the Royal Palm tree (Roystonea regia). This…
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Acts of God and Other Silly Notions of Trees

Acts of God and Other Silly Notions of Trees

Insurance
If you are in the business of adjusting insurance claims, you have no doubt heard this scenario numerous times: “There was this incredible wind out of nowhere, and the next thing I knew my huge tree fell through my roof.” Another often repeated theme goes like this: “It must’ve been a bolt of lightning! It hit the tree by my garage and the tree crashed down on my car!”   While the story changes from time to time, the general theme is that an act of God caused my tree to fail. If you are lucky, it is “just” property damage. If you’re not so lucky, it’s a death or injury. In any and all cases, acts of God are a rare occurrence. Certainly there are the vicissitudes and inclementicies of…
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Ethics, “White Lies,” and a Red Dress

Ethics, “White Lies,” and a Red Dress

Stories of Life
My bride and I decided to step upon a path with irreparable conclusions as this slippery slope of truth was applied to our personal relationship. What if, just for 24 hours, we both applied that definition of truth? Could it even be done? And what would the consequences become? We had a solid foundation upon which to build, solid enough that I felt secure in accepting this daunting challenge of telling the truth, and nothing but the truth, for 24 hours. My bride and I are ethicists. Our upbringing in formative years and our professions hold us tightly to the matter of ethics. It’s an extremely boring subject, especially if one sits in an auditorium for a one-hour presentation and resultant CEUs. Moreover, the entire subject is boring. Everyone has…
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