Both Sides Now

February 20th, 2016 6:31pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

This is a true story. In April of 1993 I was going through an early midlife crisis. I was living in Omaha. I had joined the Air Force “to see the world” and had ended up spending twelve years in Nebraska. My relationship with a woman had recently ended, and my Dalmatian and I had just found new digs. I had dropped out of a graduate program in philosophy because one year of practicing law and studying symbolic logic at the same time had taken a real toll on my physical and mental health. Practicing law paid better, so I stuck with that.

Suddenly alone and with plenty of free time, I decided to cross some things off my bucket list. I began taking karate lessons. I started to write a novel. And I decided to try skydiving.

With my birthday approaching, my brother, Roy JHCIACB Cohen, decided to drive to Omaha to join me on the skydiving adventure. And so it was that on a rainy Saturday we drove to Weeping Water, Nebraska, and received training to prepare us for our jump the next day. The jump school was located at a small airstrip surrounded by cornfields.

It rained all night and was still raining Sunday morning. We were not sure we would be able to jump, but we drove back to Weeping Water anyhow. Later that morning the rain stopped and the instructor decided we could jump.

We donned our jump suits and parachutes, then climbed into a small plane. As the little aircraft ascended my brother and I looked at each other. Are we really going to do this? The plane leveled off at about 3,200 feet. It was a long way down.

Being the older brother, we decided I would jump first. I climbed out of the plane and grabbed the strut with both hands, just as we’d been instructed. When the instructor gave the sign, I let go, arched my back, and saw the plane pull ahead of me. It was a static line jump, so my parachute opened within a second or two. I floated gently down to earth, enjoying the thrill and the view. I would definitely do this again.

Back on earth, I looked up and saw my brother climb out of the plane and grab the strut. Then he let go. But for some reason he flipped over backward and was not in the proper position when his parachute opened. The many cords that connected my brother to the parachute’s canopy became tangled and his parachute never fully opened. Rather than gently floating toward earth, he was plummeting toward it and his parachute looked something like a tampon.

We on the ground could not see where Roy had landed, but the pilot directed us through the cornfields to him. When we found him he was lying flat in a soggy cornfield. Two days of rain had probably saved his life.

An ambulance took Roy to an Omaha hospital. When I saw him the E.R., he looked at me and said, “Gravity works.”

The staff took x-rays and observed that not all the bones in Roy’s back were where they were supposed to be. The most notable damage was that his L-1 vertebrae had shattered and one small piece of it was resting against his spinal cord. The doctors advised Roy to have surgery that would put metal rods in his back, but if you know my brother, you know he declined and limped out of the E.R. later that evening. After resting for several days in my apartment, Roy loaded up on painkillers and drove back to Colorado.

Roy had an MRI every four weeks for nearly two years to ensure that the bone fragment was not pushing further into his spinal cord.  Eventually the entire area calcified (self-fused) and this served the same function the metal rods would have served. It took more than two years for Roy to recover, but he did.

And so ended our brief skydiving career, but I don’t regret it because Roy eventually regained his health and I can truly say I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

Posted in: Misc.

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Why Businesses Should Not Use Arbitration Clauses

February 19th, 2016 11:41pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

Click here to read Why Businesses Should NOT Use Arbitration Clauses

Posted in: Legal

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A Palm Grows in Nederland

February 18th, 2016 8:41pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

A Palm Grows in Nederland

The time has come. Let’s face it – Nederland winters are long and brutal. A little wind in October can make for a cozy evening, but by the time May rolls around, I’m done with the wind.  And the snow. I get that we live 8,236 feet above sea level, but by the time May rolls around, I’m done with snow. And the cold. It’s nice not to have to use my refrigerator between October and May, but by the time May rolls around, I’m done with the cold.

I guess I’m more of summer person. I love Nederland summers. While folks down below endure 95 degree days, we can count on a balmy 72 degrees. I can wear shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. Listen to Jimmy Buffet and drink margaritas. Maybe even take a quick dip in Barker Reservoir if the fuzz ain’t around. It’s like Hawaii without the palm trees. Which brings me to the topic of this week’s column.

I want a palm tree in Nederland this summer. And not just any palm tree. I want a forty foot tall Canary Island Date Palm in the traffic circle by June 1st.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Your thinking, “Why in the name of God does Barb let some washed up lawyer who thinks Jack Daniels is a food group write a column for the Mountain-Ear?” I have no clue, but hear me out.

Nederland is losing millions of dollars in revenue each year because tourists don’t view Nederland as beach destination. Nederland is basically dead between the time Frozen Dead Guy Days ends and the Fourth of July. Nobody visits Nederland during that time, except to buy pot.

I’m telling you, folks, we’ve got big trouble right here in Cannabis City. Nederland’s gotta have a palm tree and I mean she needs it today. Trouble. I’m talkin' 'bout trouble, with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for palm.

Oh, think my friends, how could any poker table ever hope to compete with a Canary Island Palm?  Remember, my friends, what a handful of palm trees did to the famous, fabled streets of Los Angeles.  Oh, a palm will do it, my friends, oh, yes! I say a Canary Island Palm Tree, do you hear me? Well, Nederland’s gonna have a palm tree. As sure as the Lord made little green apples, and that palm’s gonna be tall and strong. And you’ll see the leaves swaying in the breeze. And you’ll hear the thunder of people stopping to get their photos taken beside the HIGHEST PALM TREE IN THE WORLD; the shimmer of car horns honking! And you’ll feel something akin to the electric thrill I once enjoyed when Gilmore, Liberatti, Pat Conway, The Great Creatore, W.C. Handy and John Philip Sousa all came to Nederland on the very same historic day.

Now, I can already hear the same tired old liberal arguments from the lame stream media and the secular humanists – a palm tree will die in when winter comes. Always with the negative waves.

Folks, I didn’t just pick the Canary Island Palm Tree out of my big, hairy butt. I earned a Masters in Law degree in Agricultural Law! There are more than 2,600 species of palm trees on earth. But the CIPT is perfect for Nederland. The CIPT can tolerate temperatures down to 14 degrees and has been grown as far north as England.

Sure, it will probably die by mid-December, but what a glorious summer we will enjoy. And with tourists flocking to Nederland to enjoy the new Margaritaville festival and get their photos taken with THE HIGHEST PALM TREE IN THE WORLD, we can easily afford to remove the dead palm tree each winter and plant a new CIPT each summer.

But why, some say, a palm tree? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to bring a palm tree to Nederland. We choose to bring a palm tree to Nederland in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

I’ve done the research. It will cost between $10,000.00 and $15,000.00 to bring a Canary Island Palm Tree to Nederland. And that is why I have established a GoFundMe campaign called A Palm Grows in Nederland. I’m not taking money from Wall Street or the Koch Brothers. I can’t be bought. If you’d like to see a palm tree in Nederland this summer, please make your contribution at https://www.gofundme.com/apalmgrowsinned

With your help and by God’s grace, when June rolls around we’ll be nibblin’ on sponge cake, watchin’ the sun bake, and all of those tourists will be covered in oil.

Posted in: Humor

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