Author: J. Kevin King

Dogs in the White House

Harry Truman was once famously quoted as saying, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” Now, President Truman did not have his own dog in the White House, but many canines over the years have called the West Wing home. On President’s Day, we would like to honor President’s Best Friend; their dogs.

George Washington was an avid fox hunter and kept a kennel of dogs who benefitted from having fresh water running through their kennels rather than being brought water each day. One of his dogs was Vulcan, a French hound, who brazenly stole ham from Mt. Vernon’s kitchen, running past laughing guests with his spoils. We also may never have heard of George Washington or had an America at all if it weren’t for his favorite dog, a hound named Sweet Lips. One day while out walking with Sweet Lips, Washington encountered Elizabeth, the wife of the wealthy mayor of Philadelphia. She was so taken with the dog, she invited Washington to their residence for dinner, where he impressed the mayor so much he was introduced to many powerful leaders who later remembered him when selecting a leader for the Continental army.

Abraham Lincoln had a loyal yellow mix dog named Fido who followed him everywhere around Springfield, waiting outside the barbershop and even carrying his packages. Fido did not make the trip to Washington when Lincoln was elected, instead being left in the care of the Roll family. However, Lincoln made sure his best friend was well cared for, leaving Fido’s favorite horsehair sofa behind to sleep on and making the Roll family promise to keep Fido well fed with table scraps. 

Ulysses S. Grant had a love of horses and riding, preferring to ride the largest and most powerful ones. Perhaps that helped in his choice of a huge bear of a dog, a Newfoundland named Faithful, who belonged to his young son Jesse. Jesse was a huge dog lover, and had been so heartbroken by the early death of several of the family’s prior dogs that President Grant had a stern warning when he arrived at the White House: “If this dog dies, every employee at the White House will be immediately discharged.”

Another Newfoundland soon found its home in Washington when President James Garfield arrived at the White House.  Veto proved true to his breed’s protective nature by once barking to sound the alarm when a barn caught fire, alerting the stable hands to quickly put the fire out. Another time, a visitor’s horse got spooked in the stable and began to rear wildly. Veto quickly grabbed the reins in his jaws and held the horse firmly in place until the stable hands could calm the horse. While his bravery and loyalty are worth recognition, Veto’s name is often what draws the first questions. According to stories, good-natured Garfield named Veto as such to remind Congress that he may not pass every bill they sent him.

Theodore Roosevelt is remembered as a strong character who never backed down from a fight. It makes good sense then that his dog would be of similar nature. Pete the bulldog (the breed has never been 100% confirmed, also having been listed as a bull terrier and a Boston bull terrier) was a beloved member of the Roosevelt family, even though he had certain habits the family didn’t approve of. Pete first terrorized squirrels on the property, then graduated to nipping or biting people who displeased him.  When Pete’s targets included some naval officers and cabinet ministers, Roosevelt simply said it must have been their politics that Pete found disagreeable. Pete’s reign of terror finally ended after he chased the French Ambassador Jules Jusserand down a corridor of the White House, fully tearing the bottom out of the man’s pants. After complaints from the French government, Pete was finally “retired” to the Roosevelt family’s Sagamore Hill home.

While most people enjoy reading news of presidential pets today, the honor of the first “celebrity” presidential pup goes to Warren Harding’s Laddie Boy. The Airedale Terrier was the first to receive regular coverage from newspaper reporters, seeming to garner headlines nearly daily thanks to the Hardings’ including the pup in every event possible. Laddie Boy even had his own chair at the Cabinet table for meetings, where we are sure he was the most popular member. President Harding adored his dog so much that shortly after taking office he had 1,000 bronze miniatures of the dog made that he handed out as a proud parent might hand out cigars after the birth of a child. 

Calvin Coolidge had a veritable menagerie of pets, but his favorite was a white collie named Rob Roy. Rob Roy would lead Coolidge to the Oval Office every morning, keeping a stately posture with eyes fixed forward as he walked. The dog’s name was a bit of cheeky whimsy during the time of Prohibition; originally being named Oshkosh, Mrs. Harding changed it to Rob Roy, the name of a popular cocktail at the time. He was the first dog to be featured in an official White House family photo, and was immortalized alongside Mrs. Harding in her official First Lady portrait, a striking piece of art.

When one thinks of presidential dogs, one often thinks of a little Scottish Terrier named Fala. The loyal companion of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fala was taken many places by FDR and entertained the press and countless others with his tricks. Within the first few weeks of arriving at the White House, Fala began suffering intestinal problems and was taken to the hospital. It was soon discovered that little Fala had discovered the White House kitchen on his own and was being overfed; after that, Fala was only to be fed by FDR himself. The little dog was featured in an MGM movie about the day in the life of the White House, and became an honorary “private” of the U.S. Army. When FDR passed on April 12, 1945, within minutes Fala became quickly and inexplicably agitated, tearing through the very screen of the outside door and running to a hill where he stood, unmoving, gazing into the distance, as if he knew his master was now gone. A statue of Fala accompanies one of President Roosevelt at his memorial, and is still the only presidential pet so honored. 

President George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel “Millie” was once one of the most well-known presidential dogs. She is the first White House dog to have an author credit, having “written” the popular nonfiction book “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush.” The book reached number one and spent 23 weeks on the best-sellers list, with profits being donated to a literacy non-profit. In July 1989 the Washingtonian published it’s “Best and Worst” list, and selected Millie as the “ugliest dog in Washington D.C.” The editor quickly sent a letter and dog treats to the White House apologizing for the unpopular and impolite choice. Bush good naturedly responded, “Not to worry! Millie, you see, likes publicity.  Arf, arf for the dog biscuits.” The Bush family carried on the springer spaniel when George W. Bush took office years later, bringing one of Millie’s own pups “Spot” with him.

Currently, dogs are back in the White House, as President Biden has brought his two German Shepherds, Champ and Major with him. Champ came to the family when Biden promised his wife he would get her a puppy after the 2008 election.  His name was selected to remind Biden of advice from his father to “any time you get knocked down, champ, get up!” He often gave children plush toys of Champ during his vice presidency during the Obama administration. Major joined the family in 2018 after being adopted from the Delaware Humane Association’s shelter. The origin of Major’s name is not known, but Biden’s beloved late son Beau was a major in the Delaware National Guard. Three days before Biden’s own inauguration, the shelter held the very first “InDOGuration” over Zoom for Major as a fundraiser which raised $200,000 in donations for the shelter. 

How to Evaluate Risk

social-distancingWith the information and circumstances regarding COVID19 in our current world, it’s a good time to review how we as humans consider risk. In general, humans are poor at evaluating true risk as we do not understand the elements of risk.

Most of us are raised on controlling risk with slogans and campaigns.

  • Be Safe
  • Don’t Drink and Drive
  • Click It or Ticket

While catchy, most slogans leave a lot open to interpretation. Many will say it is common sense, but what is common for you might not be common for your friend or your neighbor, or anybody else. Common sense isn’t common. So, as a society, relying upon a slogan for risk recognition is similar to building a house on quicksand.

What is Risk then?

Risk is defined as the probability of an undesired result occurring and has three main components.

  • Risk Recognition.
  • Risk Acceptance.
  • Risk Probability and Severity.

This is the scientific approach but can and should be applied to life.

Risk Recognition

Risk recognition is as it sounds. It is recognizing if there is a risk. We do this based on past experiences combined with social and behavior factors. If it’s an unfamiliar situation, we ascertain the task requirements of a situation. Then we determine the skill and ability in the task we need to conduct. Based on the information we evaluation our personal probability of success (also known as our value judgment).

In the current COVID19 world, we would say the task requirement is going out, the skill and ability needed to conduct the task would be social distancing, and the value judgement would be determining when/where to go.

Risk Acceptance 

The second component of risk is risk acceptance. Take your value judgment and ask, “Is risk worth it?”

  • Yes? Engage task.
  • No? Decline.

Many times, especially in today’s situation, we might determine more information required before we can accept the risk. Is further information on tasks requirements and skill available? It may not be available, and you would then decline to accept the risk. (Example: Not knowing the infection rate an area might make you decline going to a specific store in that area.)

When further information is available you then determine if it provides a sufficient basis for a decision of accepting the risk. If yes, go back and determine whether to accept your value judgement. If no, you would decline the engagement.

In today’s COVID19 world, this is an extremely difficult step as reliable data is hard to come by. We’re relying on the data we can find and sometimes it’s not enough to take that risk acceptance.

Risk probability and severityRisk Probability & Severity

The last component of a risk is the probability and severity. Even if the risk acceptance is yes, these two measurements are important.

Probability has five levels. This is how likely the risk is.

  1. Frequent
  2. Probable
  3. Occasional
  4. Remote
  5. Improbable

Severity has four levels. This is the extent to which the risk affects you.

  1. Catastrophic
  2. Critical
  3. Marginal
  4. Negligible

Probability in conjunction with Severity drives the acceptance level.

What muddles the risk evaluation process for human beings is personal experience in emotions. “It won’t happen to me,” and “Life is not without risk” mentalities are dangerous in our typical world and our COVID19 world. It’s a way to pass off what’s happening and ignore the risks.

The Probability for COVID19 infection may change but the Severity will always be catastrophic. No matter the probability if you think it’s catastrophic Severity, you’re off the chart, don’t do it. In system safety world, any risk with a catastrophic Severity would be required to go to top of engineering or even the company before moving forward. In our world with COVID19, it’s an indication the risk isn’t worth accepting.

Learn more; listen into Kevin King as he discusses risks on People’s Law Talk and how risk analysis applies to our current situation.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Vaping & E-Cigarettes: New Trend, New Risks

As cigarettes have faded out of mainstream use with increased education around health concerns, a new addictive habit has risen to prominence. Vaping and e-cigarettes are now a part of mainstream culture, but they still have a risk factor, just like traditional cigarettes.

Vaping proponents maintain that it is much safer than traditional cigarettes, contributing to a surge in usage, especially among youth. As many as 8 in 10 middle school students have reported seeing advertising around e-cigarettes. With ever present advertising combined with the belief vaping is less harmful, the lower cost, and the abundance of flavors, it’s unsurprising that from 2017 to 2018, vaping usage in high school students jumped from 12 percent to 21 percent.

The vaping market is primarily people ages 13 to 35 years of age. That group from 13 to 25 are still in prime brain development years. Vaping can hinder and alter this development because, just like cigarettes, it contains high levels of nicotine. Nicotine is known to harm parts of the brain that control attention, learning, impulse control, and mood control. Some e-cigarette cartridges can have as much nicotine as a full pack of traditional cigarettes.

In addition to the nicotine, e-cigarettes and vaping pose a safety risk because the cartridges and juices can contain ultra fine particles and additives like vitamin e acetate, pine oils, mineral oils, and terpenes. All these things are entering the lungs, affecting normal lung functions.

The injuries and deaths from this new trend are growing. In 2011 Poison Control reported 271 calls regarding vaping. That number rose to 4,000 by 2014. The growth is so much, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) now tracks vaping injuries on a weekly basis. Last week the reported injuries rose to 2,172, up 121 from the previous week. Deaths are also not unheard of due to vaping injuries. Indiana is currently the state with the highest vaping related deaths.

This month the CDC released a report investigating lung injuries related to vaping. This is the first step forward in measuring and addressing the safety risks of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Want to know more? Listen in as attorney Kevin King discusses the safety risks associated with the new vaping trend on People’s Law Talk.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

For more information on vaping safety, please read:

What is Your Fall Risk?

It’s fall so let’s talk about falls. While they affect the older population more than the young, fall injuries are still very real for everyone. Did you know you have a 1 in 114 chance of dying from a fall? In comparison your chance of dying in a plane is only 1 in 188,000. The probability of you dying from a fall are almost equal to the probability of dying in a car crash at 1 in 103.

More than 9 million Americans are treated in the emergency room for falls each year. One of every three nonfatal injuries in the U.S. comes from falls. With all of this in mind, it’s important to understand your risk for falls and how they can be prevented.

First, take this self-assessment from the CDC. If you answer yes to four or more of the questions, you are at an increased risk for falls. To help prevent them in your home, here is a list if things you can control:

  • Keep floors clear of clutter
  • Keep drawers and cabinets closed
  • Keep electrical cords out of traffic areas
  • Create open pathways with at least 3 feet of space between furniture
  • Ensure good lighting in each room

Next, learn how to choose and use a ladder safely for your home projects.

  • Consider the size and weight of the ladder in comparison to who will use it, what gear will be used, and what the purpose is for (Ladders do have weight limits)
  • Angle your ladder 1 foot away from the surface for every 4 feet in height where you are working
  • Extend the ladder at least 3 feet over the edge of where you are working
  • Fasten the top of the ladder to a support
  • Do not stand any higher than the third rung of the ladder
  • Have someone support the bottom of your ladder
  • Ensure cleats on the bottom of the ladder are anchoring the ladder
  • Do not lean sideways on the ladder
  • Do not wear loose clothing that could be caught on the ladder
  • Keep a 25-foot clearance from power lines
  • Choose fiberglass when you can (especially when working anywhere near power lines)
  • Maintain 3-point-control when climbing, with hands on the rungs, not the sides (Read Looking Up: An Eye on Ladder Safety)

Ready to learn more? Listen in as Kevin King discusses your fall prevention assessment and ladder safety on People’s Law Talk.

For more information on choosing fall prevention and ladder safety read:


Are You…Yawn…Tired?

Are you…yawn…tired at work? Nearly 40% of U.S. workers are sleep deprived causing them to be fatigued.

It is recommended the average adult get 7-9 hours of sleep per day, but the majority don’t. In fact, only two of every 100 workers state they get more than 7-9 hours. Eight percent surveyed said they get less than five hours of sleep per day. After 10 days of losing just two hours of sleep per day, it is like your body has lost an entire day of sleep!

When you work against biology and a body does not get the necessary sleep needed, it can become fatigued. When you have two or more of the risk factors for fatigue, the ability to perform your job at an adequate level is reduced. How many of these risk factors for fatigue do you have?

  • Shift Work
    Seventeen percent of works work a non-day-shift role. Workers who work shift work regularly report fatigue.
  • High Risk Hours
    Forty-one percent of workers work during high risk times of 9 p.m. – 6 a.m. and 3 a.m. – 7 a.m..
  • Demanding Job
    Work that requires sustained attention for prolonged time contributes to fatigue. Eighty-one percent of workers maintained having demanding or repetitive jobs.
  • Long Shifts
    The long an employee works, the more tired they are and the more likely they are to make a critical mistake. Twenty -one percent of workers work shifts 10+ hours long.
  • Long Work Week
    Twenty-two percent of workers work more than 50 hours per week but work days should be limited to 5-7 consecutive days to reduce the risk of fatigue.
  • Sleep Loss
    Forty-three percent of workers don’t get at least seven hours of sleep per day.
  • No Rest Breaks
    Ten percent of workers do not get short breaks throughout their shift, but they have been proven to mitigate fatigue.
  • Quick Shift Returns
    Fourteen percent of workers have less than 12 hours between their shifts. Shift returns of less than eight hours should be avoided.
  • Long Commutes
    Thirty-one percent of workers commute 30+ minutes. This can increase fatigue development, compounded by drowsy driving risks.

If you have two or more of these risk factors, you might experience fatigue symptoms like decreased vigilance, attention, memory, and concentration as well as microsleeps. These symptoms are experienced 27 percent on the job, 16 percent on the road, and 41 percent off the job.

It’s been proven over multiple studies that a person who only sleeps 4-5 hours a day has the same crash rate as someone with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08. Also, a person who loses just two hours of sleep from eight hours is likely to perform at the same level as someone who has had 2-3 beers.

To mitigate the risk of fatigue, you are encouraged to get adequate sleep. When that is absolutely not possible, there are some other mitigation tactics that can be utilized at work.

  • Physical Activity
    NASA says pilots with seven minutes of activity during night flights can increase their alertness.
  • Naps
    Short naps for 10-20 minutes can also boost alertness.
  • As Needed Breaks
    Allowing employees to take breaks as needed can reduce accumulated of on the task fatigue.

Want to know more? Listen to People’s Law Talk as Kevin King discusses worker fatigue risks, symptoms, and mitigation steps.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Looking for more information? The National Safety Council has a lot to share!

School is in Session: Ergonomics 101

School is back in session. The backpacks are filled, the chairs and desks are cleaned, and the teachers are refreshed. But, for all the preparations parents and teachers make for students, the environments created for learning may not be ready and conducive for learning.

According to ergonomics, the study of work in various environments and tools used to perform tasks within the environment, there is a lot that could change to improve health and learning of students. From backpacks to chairs, some simple, low-cost ergonomic changes could make great strides in the learning environment.

Currently, there are 400,000 musculoskeletal injuries per year costing $15-20 million in the United States. To reduce some of the injuries happening to children, parents and teachers can help limit the weight a child carries in his/her backpack and improve the position of the backpack for carrying. The backpack should evenly distribute weight, not sag over the buttocks, and fit the child correctly. BackTpacks and rolling backpacks are great alternative options.

Weight guidelines for children’s backpacks are:

Child’s Weight Max Weight for Backpacks
60 lbs 5 lbs
60-75 lbs 10 lbs
75-100 lbs 15 lbs
100-125 lbs 18 lbs
125-150 lbs 20 lbs
150-200 lbs 25 lbs
  *Backpacks should not exceed 25 lbs in weight.

Classroom settings:
Changing the environment of the classroom can also improve learning. Rooms with more natural light have been shown to provide physical and mental comfort, reducing stress. Classes with fresh air also help student respiration, as kids are more likely to be vulnerable to pollutants and have increased breath rates.

Classroom tools:
Children can be in class up to 9 hours a day. That’s nine hours at a desk, in a chair. Poor tools and poor posture can lead to stress, muscle shortening, stress on the spine, poor blood flow, and inhibited learning. By providing chairs and desk that improve posture with correct height and leg positioning, these risks can be reduced. Tilt desks and fidget footrests are becoming more popular in offices and schools for this reason. Some classes are also opting to dump the chair or replace traditional chairs with balls, ergonomic chairs, or fidget stools as children need to get up and move to help process more complex tasks.

In addition to chairs and desks, schools need to look at computers, keyboards, and even mice usage as well. The positioning of each of these, when used a lot, can lead to strain and injury. Simple re-positioning or ergonomically designed products can reduce shoulder and neck strain.

Learn more about the ergonomics of school and the classroom and what changes you can make to help your students. Listen in as Kevin King discusses back to school ergonomics in-depth, covering everything from backpacks to pens and pencils, on People’s Law talk.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Learn more about school ergonomics. Here are some great presentations that can help parents and teachers.