To my Nieces and Nephews from Uncle Gary on my 70th birthday

 

Today is my 70th birthday.  I don’t feel like I am 70, but I am.  Before my father (your grandfather) died in 2016, he asked me to write to you about mistakes I have made in my life, and lessons that I have learned.  Obviously, I have a problem with procrastination about this project, but on my 70th birthday, I cleared my calendar and took a day off from work to keep my promise to my father.  Better late than never.

Know that I love all ten of you, exactly the way that you are and exactly the way that you are not.  I am not suggesting that you need fixing – you are pretty doggone perfect in my eyes.  My personalized license plate for the last twenty years is “UNCLE G” and even though most of you had already graduated from high school over ten years ago, I have kept that license plate.

Money

The basic rule is to spend less than you earn.  If you do that, your life will be so much easier.  So, what to do with the extra money?

  • You can get an IRA and put up to $2,000.00 a year in it. I suggest an “Index Fund” from Vanguard or another low commission brokerage.  Talk to Uncle Bruce about this.
  • You should give to wherever you are spiritually fed, be that a church, or a nonprofit that is close to your heart.
  • Slowly build up a reserve. Ideally, you will end up with 3 months of living expenses.
  • Avoid credit card hell. The best “return on investment” or ROI is to use a debit card instead of a credit card.  Keep a small balance on a credit card to show a positive repayment history but keep it under control.
  • Don’t do what I did. Don’t declare bankruptcy.
  • Buy a home when you are able.

Relationships

The most important thing in relationships is to avoid criticism.  A study of newly-wed couples showed that if there was not at least 4 “praises” for every 1 criticism, the marriage was usually doomed.

Learn how to express yourself without criticizing your partner.  And don’t accept a blizzard of criticisms.  How do you do that?  Well, I’ve been divorced twice, so I may not be the best person to give advice.  However, I suggest that you look to your parents who have managed to get their needs met, without being a door mat.

When your partner does something that you like, praise them.  Catch them doing something “right” and reinforce it.

Health

Walk a lot.  Keep moving.  I find that the exercise target on my Apple Watch to be a great help to me.

I have some bad news.  It is increasingly hard to lose weight as you get older.  Uncle Bruce can give you advice about that.

My suggestion is that if your weight is unacceptable to you, weigh yourself now and commit to not go any higher than that weight.  (The obvious exception is if you are one of my nieces and you get pregnant.  This is a world that I know very little of.)

If you have an addiction issue, call me 24/7 at work at (928) XXX-XXXX or on my cell at (928) YYY-YYYY.  I have 21 years of sobriety from alcohol.  (My last drink was 1/4/01.  My first day of sobriety was 1/5/01.)  If you would ever like to go to an AA meeting for yourself or to check it out for a friend, let me know.

Where do you want to live?

This is a great time to get out and see the USA.  I am so glad that in 1992 when I was 40, Janet and I moved to Flagstaff.  I hated the Phoenix area, and we moved pretty quickly after she graduated from Law School.  When we arrived here, an older lawyer told me that I would earn less money but would live longer and happier.  True on all three counts.  I am so glad to live in Flagstaff.

But I wonder about other choices I made.  In 1977, I missed the deadline to apply for the Colorado Bar exam by a couple of days.  What if I had applied a few months later?  There was a job that I could have had as a non-lawyer to sign people up in rural Colorado for oil and gas leases.  What if I had taken that job?

In 1991, I took the Washington State Bar Exam even though I had a strong hunch that I should have taken the Oregon Bar Exam.  If I had passed the Oregon Bar Exam, Janet and I would likely have moved to Sisters and I would be practicing law in Bend.

We never know about our choices.  All I can say is that I did what I did and embrace that.

Of note, Uncle Bruce moved from Iowa to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to Mountain Home, Arkansas, and now lives in Flagstaff.  Aunt Nancy moved from Glendale to Vail, Arizona.  Uncle Carl moved from Flagstaff to Madras, Oregon, to two different homes in Redmond, Oregon.  Moving is okay.  Find a place you love to live in.  You deserve that.

What do you want to do?

My father and I had an epic amount of conflict.  (Ask your parents about that.)  He was a Computer Science Professor at Arizona State University.  Of course, I went to ASU’s hated rival, The University of Arizona, despite never visiting their campus.  And I would not be a computer science major, I was a math major.

True story.  In 1977, I was living in Albuquerque, working out of a law office at Wyoming and Central Avenue.  A couple of miles away at Louisiana and Central Avenue, there was a tiny computer start-up with a dozen employees headed by a drop-out from Harvard.  Perhaps you have heard of Microsoft and Bill Gates?  They were in Albuquerque before moving to the Seattle area.

While I was in Albuquerque, I was working as a Law Clerk, doing research.  One attorney wanted to start his own version of KFC and offered for me to take over his law firm.  I didn’t.

I lived in New Jersey for several months, and they were ready to admit me to the New Jersey bar.  My girlfriend and I broke up before I could be sworn in.

Several months later, I was in another attorney’s office.  He had just gotten a call from the District Court asking if he would accept a court appointment.  He asked me if I wanted to take the court appointment.  If I had agreed, my life would have taken another route.  My practice took off in Phoenix after I accepted my first four court appointments.

These were all major choice points.  It is what it is.  Embrace your own path.  Funny how these things work out.

Your Parents

You have all been blessed with great parents.  Take advantage of spending time with them.  Visit them frequently.  Listen respectfully to their advice.  (I did not say “follow” their advice; I said “listen respectfully” to their advice, and be open to considering it as they have your best interests at heart.)

Adore your grandparents.  They will be gone before you know it.  When they are gone, they are gone.

Your Kids

I don’t have children of my own, so I have only a little bit of advice.  I was a spirited child.  Actually, I was a very spirited child.  My advice is that when you catch one of your kids doing something right, quickly praise them.

Keeping Your Word

Before he died, my father told me that he likes my writing style and asked if I would write this letter to all of you.  I agreed.  Well, my father died over six years ago.  I kept putting it off.  When you make a promise, keep your word and do it sooner rather than six years later.

Uncle Gary

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 30 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    An elderly gentleman explained age to me by the old standards:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-69 = Old
    70+ = Super-Annuated

    Happy super-annuation day, Gary.

    • #1
  2. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    Well gee, considering how backwards that appears to be in the justice system – which I believe police take an oath to serve properly, don’t they? – I can see why defense lawyers would exclude you.  Since it is, after all, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; not for the defense to DISprove.

    • #3
  4. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    I so much want to serve on a jury, but I have always been bumped.  

    • #4
  5. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    Well gee, considering how backwards that appears to be in the justice system – which I believe police take an oath to serve properly, don’t they? – I can see why defense lawyers would exclude you. Since it is, after all, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; not for the defense to DISprove.

    If a defense attorney names a different actor that committed the crime rather than his client, then the burden of proof shifts to the defense’s assertion.

    • #5
  6. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Arahant (View Comment):

    An elderly gentleman explained age to me by the old standards:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-69 = Old
    70+ = Super-Annuated

    Happy super-annuation day, Gary.

    What I had heard was the following:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-89 = Old
    90+ = Super-Annuated

     

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    Well gee, considering how backwards that appears to be in the justice system – which I believe police take an oath to serve properly, don’t they? – I can see why defense lawyers would exclude you. Since it is, after all, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; not for the defense to DISprove.

    If a defense attorney names a different actor that committed the crime rather than his client, then the burden of proof shifts to the defense’s assertion.

    Maybe to some extent.  But the prosecution’s burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, wouldn’t necessarily require the defense to prove that someone else did it, beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they can present a sufficient likelihood that someone else might have, to create reasonable doubt that the defendant actually did it, then the prosecution hasn’t met their burden of proof.

    • #7
  8. danys Thatcher
    danys
    @danys

    Happy birthday, Gary!

    Lovely letter to your nieces and nephews.

    • #8
  9. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Are all your Nieces and Nephews on Ricochet?   If not, you should give them each a membership so they can read this post!

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    The last place I owned in Phoenix, before leaving Arizona about 2 years ago now, was a townhome in an area of mostly rentals.  One family that lived across the sidewalk from me for a while, had I think 5 kids.

    The oldest girl was I think 14 when she had her first kid.  (The teen pregnancy rate for Hispanic girls is even higher than for teen black girls.)

    Below her in age were another girl, probably 12, then a boy, maybe 9, and the youngest was a girl too, about 6 I think then.

    A few months after the older daughter’s baby was born, her younger sister and brother were outside showing off the baby, playing with it, etc.  And there had been some “feuding” again, which seemed to happen fairly often with that family.

    I was maybe “only” 55 then, but I told them that, as impossible as it might seem, at some point in the future their parents would be gone, and they would only have each other as immediate family.  At that point, they wouldn’t want to be remembering how much they thought they hated each other, when they were kids.

    They hadn’t thought about that before, of course.

    But what really blew their minds was when I pointed out that, while it might be fun to play with their sister’s baby, there was also something more serious going on:

    They were now Auntie Denise, and Uncle Daniel.

    Their expressions were unbelievable.

    • #10
  11. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Are all your Nieces and Nephews on Ricochet? If not, you should give them each a membership so they can read this post!

    I am emailing this directly to them.

    • #11
  12. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    I so much want to serve on a jury, but I have always been bumped.

    Me too. Sometimes too busy. Great advice to your kin. 

    • #12
  13. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    An elderly gentleman explained age to me by the old standards:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-69 = Old
    70+ = Super-Annuated

    Happy super-annuation day, Gary.

    What I had heard was the following:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-89 = Old
    90+ = Super-Annuated

     

    Exception: Slow Joe. 79- numbskull. 

    • #13
  14. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Happy Birthday, Gary.

    • #14
  15. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Happy Birthday, Gary.

    Thank you so much.

    • #15
  16. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Hope you can make it to 76. Then will have lots of nasty back and forth on Ricochet. Until Trump drops out.  Not much chance of that huh?

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    What I had heard was the following:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-89 = Old
    90+ = Super-Annuated

    Considering that superannuation is also another term for a pension, I think that’s swinging for the fences.

    • #17
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    Well gee, considering how backwards that appears to be in the justice system – which I believe police take an oath to serve properly, don’t they? – I can see why defense lawyers would exclude you. Since it is, after all, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; not for the defense to DISprove.

    If a defense attorney names a different actor that committed the crime rather than his client, then the burden of proof shifts to the defense’s assertion.

    Maybe to some extent. But the prosecution’s burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, wouldn’t necessarily require the defense to prove that someone else did it, beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can present a sufficient likelihood that someone else might have, to create reasonable doubt that the defendant actually did it, then the prosecution hasn’t met their burden of proof.

    But saying a Martian did it might not reflect well on defense’s case. That is not reasonable doubt.

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Arahant (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    Well gee, considering how backwards that appears to be in the justice system – which I believe police take an oath to serve properly, don’t they? – I can see why defense lawyers would exclude you. Since it is, after all, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; not for the defense to DISprove.

    If a defense attorney names a different actor that committed the crime rather than his client, then the burden of proof shifts to the defense’s assertion.

    Maybe to some extent. But the prosecution’s burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, wouldn’t necessarily require the defense to prove that someone else did it, beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can present a sufficient likelihood that someone else might have, to create reasonable doubt that the defendant actually did it, then the prosecution hasn’t met their burden of proof.

    But saying a Martian did it might not reflect well on defense’s case. That is not reasonable doubt.

    Probably not, but my point was that such considerations already exist.  If some jurors might believe that a Martian did it, I consider that to be a separate problem.

    • #19
  20. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Arahant (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Congrats, and you are now longer compelled to serve on a jury. I have had an advantage on the jury selection process for a long time, at least on criminal trials. No defense attorney wants a former cop in the jury room. I don’t blame them. There was no way I could be swayed by an emotional argument.

    If you tell me a Martian committed the crime and not your client, you’re going to have to produce that Martian in the courtroom.

    Well gee, considering how backwards that appears to be in the justice system – which I believe police take an oath to serve properly, don’t they? – I can see why defense lawyers would exclude you. Since it is, after all, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; not for the defense to DISprove.

    If a defense attorney names a different actor that committed the crime rather than his client, then the burden of proof shifts to the defense’s assertion.

    Maybe to some extent. But the prosecution’s burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, wouldn’t necessarily require the defense to prove that someone else did it, beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can present a sufficient likelihood that someone else might have, to create reasonable doubt that the defendant actually did it, then the prosecution hasn’t met their burden of proof.

    But saying a Martian did it might not reflect well on defense’s case. That is not reasonable doubt.

    Interesting back and forth re: reasonable doubt in a criminal case. But agree with Doug on this one.  The reasonable doubt instructions almost all judges give to juries are the same. So else might have done normally work with  a normal  criminal defense attorney except n   big time case (i.e.murder case – see OJ Simpson) .

    • #20
  21. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Happy Birthday!

    For my wife’s 70th birthday party, we put a wheelchair on top of her cake.  Hey, it’s funnier than black balloons . . .

    • #21
  22. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Happy birthday, Gary, one day late.  Your birthday happens to be my anniversary.

    • #22
  23. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    An elderly gentleman explained age to me by the old standards:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-69 = Old
    70+ = Super-Annuated

    Happy super-annuation day, Gary.

    What I had heard was the following:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-89 = Old
    90+ = Super-Annuated

     

    This is all very complicated. I prefer “The Nine Ages of Man”( can’t remember who came up with this):

    Not old enough to know better.
    Old enough to know better. 
    Not old enough to know. 
    Old enough to know. 
    Not old enough. 
    Old enough. 
    Not old. 
    Old. 
    Not.

    • #23
  24. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    An elderly gentleman explained age to me by the old standards:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-69 = Old
    70+ = Super-Annuated

    Happy super-annuation day, Gary.

    What I had heard was the following:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-89 = Old
    90+ = Super-Annuated

     

    This is all very complicated. I prefer “The Nine Ages of Man”( can’t remember who came up with this):

    Not old enough to know better.
    Old enough to know better.
    Not old enough to know.
    Old enough to know.
    Not old enough.
    Old enough.
    Not old.
    Old.
    Not.

    Wow!

    • #24
  25. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    An elderly gentleman explained age to me by the old standards:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-69 = Old
    70+ = Super-Annuated

    Happy super-annuation day, Gary.

    What I had heard was the following:

    0-29 = Young
    30-59 = Middle-Aged
    60-89 = Old
    90+ = Super-Annuated

     

    This is all very complicated. I prefer “The Nine Ages of Man”( can’t remember who came up with this):

    Not old enough to know better.
    Old enough to know better.
    Not old enough to know.
    Old enough to know.
    Not old enough.
    Old enough.
    Not old.
    Old.
    Not.

    Chilling bit from “Day Of The Dolphin”:

    “Pa is not!”

    • #25
  26. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Happy Birthday to my Worthy Adversary, Jim George 

    • #26
  27. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Happy Birthday to my Worthy Adversary, Jim George

    You are welcome.  Your last two posts, “Starting a Tyranny?  Job One: Kill All the Lawyers!” and “Trump’s Virtues: An Important Speech” were epic.  I agree with both, but have an important caveat with the latter.

    • #27
  28. Kelly D Johnston Coolidge
    Kelly D Johnston
    @SoupGuy

    A very happy and blessed 70th birthday, Gary, and thanks for a wise post. 

     

    • #28
  29. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    There are 3 ages:

    1. youth
    2. middle age
    3. “you look great”

     

    • #29
  30. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    There are 3 ages:

    1. youth
    2. middle age
    3. “you look great”

    That is so true.  Saying “you look great” is the last thing you want to hear from friends or family visiting you in the hospital!

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.