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April Fool's Day & Other Nonsense Holidays

Uncategorized Apr 02, 2021

I totally got got today by fake news. A friend sent a link to me, and I was completely taken—hook, line, and sinker. It was wonderful!

April Fool's Day can be a delightful holiday. Except that it is not actually a holiday. That's why we all still went to work.

Some speculate that the day stemmed from the changeover in France from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Others tie it to the ancient Roman festival, Hilaria, or to the vernal equinox. Somehow, the result is that we try to catch each other by lying or, in the most fantastic cases, by staging elaborate hoaxes with full-on support. (Like in 1998 when Burger King advertised "a left-handed Whopper" and people started ordering the fake sandwich.)

So, to contribute to the nonsense, but with an eye toward education (as always), I have listed a number of other nonsense holidays happening this month in addition to the real holidays of Easter and Tax Day (whoops, that's not a holiday, though we spend an awful lot...

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Some Things You May Not Know About MLK and His I Have a Dream Speech

Martin Luther King is one of only three Americans to have his birthday declared a federal holiday. A brilliant orator, he had tremendous influence, but he strived to wield that influence in a manner that always held to the high road.

During the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, for example, his house was bombed, endangering his wife and infant daughter. A crowd gathered. His response: "I want you to love our enemies." The crowd calmed down.

Here are a few unknown facts about his I Have a Dream speech:

Unlike other speakers that day, Dr. King didn't have copies of his text ready to distribute to the audience, which numbered more than 250,000. Rather, he was making revisions the night before, in his hotel room, and didn't finish his draft until after midnight.

The word "dream" almost didn't make it into the speech. In fact, one of Dr. King's advisers told him, "Don't use the lines about 'I Have a Dream.' It's trite, it's cliche. You've used it too many times...

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What's Your Number? Hint: You want it to be lower

My oldest son, Liam, is heading back to BYU Idaho for his second year of college. He's a smart kid. In a recent conversation, he commented that about 85% of statistics are completely made up. Like I said, smart kid.

But that's why, for the purpose of making specific decisions, I think statistics can be dangerous. You see, statistics can be manipulated. A number of things matter when developing statistics: How do you define your pool? How do you word the inquiries? How do you define the words? And depending on the answers to those questions (and many more), you can dramatically change the resulting statistics. And so, I'm careful not to rely on statistics too much in making specific decisions.

That said, I LOVE statistics for big picture analysis. Because that's what statistics are really good for—giving us an idea of the big picture. What's generally going on? How are things trending? What is the most likely result in a given set of circumstances?...

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4 nonsense things we learn from Knives Out that are completely wrong and will cost you thousands

I saw Knives Out on Saturday. It was brilliant. I loved it. And don't worry. No spoilers here (but if you don't want to know anything about the movie until after you see it, you should stop reading now).

I was excited to see it because  the trailers feature what I have for some time referred to as the "dramatic reading of a will" scene. You know the one. The family's all there. The lawyer is there. And there is a dramatic reading of the will. Chaos ensues. Conflict. Drama. Delightful cinema. I wondered how this one would go.

I was not disappointed. It was spectacular. Meaning it was spectacular cinema. According to Rotten Tomatoes, I'm not alone. Critics and audience members alike find Rian Johnson's whodunnit a delightful romp. I'll go see it again. You should, too. It's fun.

But you should know that it's just cinema. Duh. But too many people think that the "dramatic reading of a will" is real. We "learn" things from that scene that too often people accept as true....

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What Do You Do with 140 Heirs?

True story: A man dies. He has a will. In his will, he names two beneficiaries. Two people are going to get his stuff. Pretty simple, right?


Because when all you have in place is a simple will, that means a probate case. And that means court requirements. For example, you must give notice of the case and the will to all of your heirs.

For most people, that's pretty straightforward. Your kids are your heirs. And if they've died before you, then their kids (your grandkids) are your heirs. But what if you, like the man in our story, have no kids.

Then your parents are your heirs. But what if you, like the man in our story, are elderly and your parents died long ago?

Then your siblings are your heirs. But what if you, like the man in our story, have 11 siblings, but you're the last one living?

Then we look to your siblings' kids, and their kids, and their kids, etc. With11 siblings and a family history and dynamic like that, you can see where this is going.

The man...

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13 Truly Scary Things That Happen All the Time When Someone Really Dies

On this Halloween day, when everyone is dressed as ghouls and goblins and talking about death and scary things, I thought I'd let you know 13 truly scary things that really happen all the time to innocent people and their families after someone dies in real life.

The courthouse can be a real scream if you don't know what actually happens there. Ask yourself if you want these horrors to plague your kids and loved ones when you're gone. They are all real. I've seen them all in the real world. Don't let these things happen to you.

1. Your family (usually your kids) pays thousands of dollars in legal fees unnecessarily. When someone dies either without a plan or with a will, there is a court case called probate. Yes, there is a probate case when you have a will. A lot of people don't know that. Some probate cases are simple. Some are complicated. Some become nightmares. Most people hire a lawyer to help them. It's a lot easier that way.

Most lawyers bill by the hour. Just last...

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Is Your Family Too Young for an Estate Plan?

A lot of people think estate planning is for the old or the rich. "I have a young family and not very many assets," I hear people say sometimes. Don't cheat yourself or your family just because you haven't yet "arrived" in your financial life or because your life is filled with "childlike" activities.

I have a young family, too. See?

Teenagers and Littles together, just trying to make it through some days. But we have an estate plan. (I realized what would happen if I didn't and I wrote about it in a prior blog post.)

Here's some information to start you thinking about it . . . .

Is Your Family “Too Young” to Need an Estate Plan?

If you are a family with small children, your day-to-day is probably a mix of wiping spills, picking up toys, and somehow stumbling towards the end of the day hoping your kids are fed, bathed, and in one piece! Each day can seem exhausting and time may seem scarce. Estate planning is probably not at the top of your priority list. And you might...

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Keep the Drama on the Stage!

The dramatic reading. The lawyer opens his briefcase or top desk drawer and takes out the folded parchment paper. It is the Will. All the family is there. Some look worried. Some look smug. Some look guilty. (Some are.)

The lawyer begins. "I, Now-Dead-Patriarchal-or-Matriarchal-Figure, declare this to be my Last Will and Testament. I bequeath [some small item of nominal significance] to [the lowly servant or nobody-relative]. And then the fun begins. The money goes to one child. The property goes to another. The business to another. The spouse takes (or is left out of the mix) in a big way.

The meeting descends into chaos. There is an argument. Then a fight. A stabbing or a gunshot. A plot twist. One of the daughters was abused. One of the sons is illegitimate. One of the others is a complete fraudster. The spouse is the murderer. And we can't wait for episode two.

This delightful scene is what most people rely on for their knowledge of estate planning. "Of course," everyone...

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Nap Time with the Littles

We call our two youngest kiddos "the Littles" because, well, they're little. And we have three teenagers who aren't little. The picture above was taken right around last Christmas-time just a few weeks after Aidan was born. Dad and Mom weren't sleeping. But Dad caught a short nap with the two Littles. A moment of precious peace. I love times like that. They seem so rare.

It's nearly a year later, and everywhere I go I'm hearing about the upcoming Holidays. The mad rush to get the best deals on Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, or whatever (I can never keep track). And I keep thinking, "I don't want this year to be a crazy year." I want it to be simple. And meaningful. I want to have some more nap time with the Littles. And maybe some real quality time with the Bigs. How do I do that?

It seems to me that part of what turns the holiday season into chaos is the lack of a plan. Things keep getting thrown at us. Our friend hosts a party. Our work hosts a party. Something goes on sale. One...

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"Is It Okay to Search Your Car?"

On Saturday, I was visiting a public county park on a lake. I was driving our Honda Odyssey minivan with my wife and four of my five kids. The Sheriff's office was there conducting a "random alcohol check." 

"Hi," said the friendly police officer outside the park entrance as we were waiting in line to pay the $7 parking fee. "We're just conducting a random alcohol check today. Do you have any alcohol with you?" 

I know my rights, so I know that I don't have to answer that question, but I figure it doesn't matter, and there's no reason to cause a stir unnecessarily, so I respond with a smile: "We don't even drink," and my kids add loudly from the back seat, "We're Mormons!" I figured that would be the end of it. It wasn't.

"I'd just like to go ahead and check your car, then. Is that okay?" he asked. It was so subtle. It was so unassuming. My wife said, "sure" at the same time that I said, "no," with a furrow in my brow. The inconsistency was not lost on the police officer,...

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