Gillette Law - June 2018

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JUNE 2018


As some of you may have noticed, we’ve begun to run a “Dad Joke” segment in our newsletter. I’ve always enjoyed them, especially ones that get more groans than laughs. But I’d never heard the term “dad joke” until recently. My 15-year-old daughter Lexi taught me the term when she started referring to my go-to groaners as “dad jokes.” My response is always, “Of course they’re dad jokes — they’re jokes, and I’m a dad!” Now that Lexi has introduced me to what is apparently an entire genre of puns on the internet, one of our favorite pastimes is trading them back and forth. We’ll race each other to find the very best of the best. Whichever joke gets the most groans wins. Here are a few favorites:

When my eldest is visiting, we’ll often all stand around telling the best (and worst) jokes we’ve heard.

“When you have four kids, you learn very quickly how different siblings can be from one another. … But humor transcends these boundaries.”

But I try my best to spend one-on-one time with my kids, as well. Taking Lexi to her riding lessons makes it easy to fit in father-daughter time. Finding time to hang out with my second-eldest, Liam, is a little more difficult, since he’s a junior in high school with a busy athletic schedule. He’s 6-foot-1 and does track and field, so I’ve been trying to convince him to come to CrossFit with me. While he’s already fit, Liam is a teaser and a joker. I figured he’d relish the opportunity to see his “old man” grinding through challenging CrossFit workouts. Last year, for his birthday, we tackled the “Go Ape” obstacle course together. He was laughing; I was groaning. Considering that CrossFit is all about constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity, this sounded right up his alley. Ironically, it’s looking like Lexi may be doing CrossFit with me before Liam does. We’ve been watching some CrossFit documentaries on Netflix, and apparently the sport is trendy among Icelandic women. Seeing these female athletes, like Katrín Davíðsdóttir and Sara Sigmundsdóttir, inspired my daughter to join a CrossFit kids program. Now I call her Lexi Briansdóttir. That may be her favorite groaner yet!

“Why do chicken coops only have two doors? If they had four, they’d be chicken sedans.”

“A termite walks into a bar and asks, ‘Is the bar tender here?’”

“How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh? Ten tickles.”

My daughter and I will go back and forth with these zingers just about anywhere. I was on a roll a few weeks back at her horseback riding lesson. I stood by the fence while Lexi and her trainer went through their exercises, burning through every horse-related dad joke I could muster. “Look at that steed,” I said pointing to a grazing mare. “She’s outstanding in her field!” That one was a real groaner.

N e x t D o o r Bu

Lexi and Spot after a lesson

All kidding aside, these jokes bring the whole family together. When you have four kids, you learn very quickly how different siblings can be from one another. They each have their own interests, hobbies, and personalities, especially when their ages run the gamut from a college junior to an eighth-grader. But humor transcends these boundaries.

To my fellow dad jokers out there, Happy Fathers’ Day.

–Brian Gillette

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IMPROVE COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN MINUTES How Meditation Helps You Maintain Brain Health

The Hippocampus Your hippocampus helps you process and form new memories, and it’s very sensitive to stress. In fact, research shows that your hippocampus will shrink in response to stressful situations and chronic stress. The remedy? Meditation. Dr. Lazar’s study showed a positive correlation between meditation and a higher concentration of gray matter in the left hippocampus.

Meditation has often been touted by New Age gurus as a way to find inner peace and stillness. But what if meditating could reduce the effects of aging on your brain? According to research, taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate may improve cognitive function. As meditation’s popularity has spread, so have studies of the practice. The results of 100 studies examining the cognitive effects of meditation all show evidence of improvements in psychological and cognitive functions. Some of the results are intuitive, such as how meditation helps us deal with stress. But other results are incontrovertible, such as scans showing that meditation causes structural changes in the brain. For people facing age-related changes like memory loss, the results of these tests are especially relevant. The studies point to evidence that meditation can strengthen certain areas of the brain — the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala — that weaken as we age. The Prefrontal Cortex Your prefrontal cortex thins with age, which is associated with decreased cognitive function in your later years. However, meditation may reduce this age-related thinning. Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist specializing in the effects of yoga and meditation on cognitive and behavioral function, reports that long-time meditators don’t show a decline in the thickness of the prefrontal cortex.

The Amygdala Often called the fear center of the brain, the amygdala is triggered by stressful situations. But unlike the hippocampus, which shrinks in response to stress, the amygdala has been shown to become denser. In one study, people who attended mindfulness meditation classes showed a smaller stress response in brain scans compared to those who did not attend the classes. Meditation may help to decrease the density of the amygdala and therefore increase your ability to handle stress. Of course, in addition to these benefits, there’s a good chance that five minutes of meditation each day will simply make you feel better. People who meditate report an increase in overall well-being. Why not give it a try?

Do you have a friend or family member who is having trouble working in a VRS-covered position due to illness or injury?

They need a copy of our free book, “15 Things to Know Before Applying for Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Disability!”

In this book, they’ll discover the following three things: 1. How they can get an estimate of their VRS disability retirement benefits 2. What they must prove to receive VRS disability retirement benefits 3. When they can (or must) apply for VRS disability retirement benefits

To request a free copy of my book, go to

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Who Is Not Eligible for VRS Disability Benefits? You are not eligible for disability retirement if you are not working in a VRS-covered position or for any of the following reasons: • You are covered under the VSDP. • You defer retirement. • You leave employment and take a refund of your member contributions and interest. • You participate in an optional retirement plan administered or authorized by VRS. • You have a disability that is not likely to be permanent. What Is Covered Employment? Covered employment is a full-time, permanent and salaried position with an employer that participates in the Virginia Retirement System. Some part-time, permanent and salaried state positions are also covered under VRS. For more information, request a copy of my free book, “15 Things to Know Before Applying for Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Disability” at

Do you know someone who, due to illness or injury, is having trouble working for the Commonwealth of Virginia or a political subdivision, such as a city, county, town, authority, commission, or school division? They may be eligible for Virginia Retirement System (VRS) disability retirement benefits. Who Is Eligible for VRS Disability Retirement Benefits? You are eligible for disability retirement if you are working in a VRS- covered position and you are one of the following: • A teacher, administrator, manager or clerical employee of a local public school division • An employee of a VRS-participating political subdivision, such as a city, county, town, authority, or commission, including a school maintenance, janitorial, or cafeteria employee or a school bus driver as elected by the school division • A state employee hired before Jan. 1, 1999, if you retained your eligibility to be considered for VRS disability retirement instead of electing to transfer to the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP) • A member covered under the Judicial Retirement System (JRS) or member of the General Assembly



If you don’t have a grill or smoker, you can use your oven to make delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs (and it makes your home smell great, too)!

Ingredients •

3 pounds beef ribs, meaty

• 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed • 1 teaspoon chili powder • 1 teaspoon salt, smoked or regular (I use 1 1/2 teaspoons, because we like our ribs a tad salty.)

1 teaspoon paprika

Liquid smoke (optional)

2 teaspoons oregano

Why did the Clydesdale give the pony a glass of water? Because he was a little horse!

2–4 tablespoons olive oil

Favorite barbecue sauce (I only used a few tablespoons of Sweet Baby Ray’s.)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning


1. Rinse ribs, and dry completely with paper towels. 2. Douse dry ribs with liquid smoke (if using). 3. Coat ribs lightly in olive oil. 4. Mix together garlic powder, onion powder, Cajun seasoning, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, paprika, and oregano, and sprinkle mixture generously over front and back of ribs. (You don’t have to use all of seasoning mix.) 5. Massage spices into ribs, adding more olive oil to help distribute the spices well, if needed. 6. Place ribs in a large Ziploc bag or covered bowl and marinate in fridge for 1–2 hours. 7. Preheat oven to 250 F. 8. Place ribs on foil-lined baking tray in a single layer.

9. Add another piece of foil on top, creating a pouch for ribs to cook in. Be sure to seal foil edges tight so steam won’t seep out. 10. Bake on middle rack for 3 1/2–4 hours. Check on ribs after the 3 1/2-hour mark. (Mine only needed 3 1/2 hours. Oven temperature is very low, so you can afford to cook it a bit longer without worry.) 11. When ribs are done to your liking, drain off excess fat. 12. Brush ribs with desired amount of barbecue sauce. 13. Broil on low until sauce is sticky. (This won’t take long, so keep an eye on ribs while broiling.) 14. Serve hot, and enjoy!

Recipe from

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INSIDE This Issue

In Defense of Dad Jokes page 1

Are You Eligible for These Benefits? page 3 Easy Oven-Baked Beef Ribs page 3 Ringo to the Rescue! page 4

How Meditation Can Help the Aging Brain page 2 Disability Book Offer page 2


Ray and Carol Steiner found Ringo, a red tabby Manx, living in a shed when he was 10 days old. Despite already having three cats, the couple decided to open their hearts to the friendly feline — a decision that would one day save their lives. Years after adopting Ringo, Ray and Carol began to oversleep and experience high blood pressure, dizziness, and headaches. The couple attributed these troubling symptoms to their recent health problems — Ray had just undergone heart surgery, and Carol was recovering from a car accident with her leg in a cast. But Ringo realized something was amiss. One blistering day in August, the usually mellow cat caused a ruckus. He meowed loudly and banged his body against the front door. Carol let him dart outside, but the moment she closed the door, Ringo began to aggressively meow again. This was unusual behavior, and Carol realized Ringo wanted her to follow him. The red tabby brought Carol around to the side of the house, where large bushes hid the air conditioner and gas and water meters. Ringo started to dig in the jagged lava-rock landscaping, cutting his paws on the sharp stones. When Carol leaned over to get a better look, she was nearly overwhelmed by the smell of natural gas.

spark outdoors could have set off an explosion that would have consumed six other houses, potentially killing 22 people. Ray and Carol’s doctor told them that even if they avoided an explosion, they would have died from methane poisoning if they’d been exposed much longer. The gas meter did not register the leak, but Ringo did. Once they aired out their home, the Steiners’ health improved immensely. Because of his dedication to his family, Ringo became the eleventh cat in history to be awarded the American Humane Association’s national William O. Stillman Award for bravery.

The gas company discovered an old steel coupler had broken open, leaking dangerous levels of gas into the Steiners’ house. A single

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