Making New Friends from Foreign Countries

Having been all over the continental United States, I can assure you that there is just no place like Texas. Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? It’s true. The people are friendlier, happier, and it’s easy to feel welcome amongst total strangers. You have to be careful where you eat though; the meal portions are also bigger in Texas than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

I met someone while I was out last night, and they were from Northern Ireland, of all places. I had so many questions to ask, but I will admit, I was mostly inspired to hear them speak because of their foreign accent. They said they were spending a week in Texas, and that they came here for a friend’s wedding. I wish I had friends getting married overseas! Maybe one day, but for now, I’ll enjoy the opportunity to save some cash.

We started talking about life in Northern Ireland, and how it tends to be mostly cloudy. Even though they were visiting in the middle of winter, it was a beautiful, warm evening. It’s hard to believe we were both speaking English at times, but for the most part, I could understand everything they were saying. We shared stories of what it was like growing up in our own countries, and overall it was an enjoyable discussion. I can put on a southern drawl if I want to, but I would trade my Texas slang in a heartbeat to be able to speak with an Irish accent like the one they had. I didn’t realize how slowly Texans speak until it was mentioned in our conversation. I couldn’t help but laugh after that.

It was their first time in the state of Texas. As a native born Texan, I was eager to share what I could about the culture and recommend the best places to visit. If you’ve ever been to Texas, you know that the barbeque and the hospitality are two of our most celebrated features. Since they already had tried the barbeque, I decided to share a little generosity. I bought the next round of drinks and asked them what they thought was the craziest part about Texas.

I should have expected it, but I was caught off guard. Apparently, my new friend came to Texas expecting to see lots of wild west saloons, horseback riders with lassos, and guns on everyone’s hips. There’s plenty of that stuff around the state, but it’s not something you see in the middle of the city. It sounded like they were prepared to visit a state full of outlaws with criminal defense lawyers on speed-dial. Thankfully, there were no shootouts or rattlesnakes, and we were able to enjoy the evening in peace.

I’ll have to visit Northern Ireland sometime soon. If the people there are anything like my new friend, I’m sure it would be a lot of fun. Besides, I heard that the pubs across the pond are a great place to hang out, enjoy some food, and make new friends. All I need now is a passport and a plane ticket.

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Protecting Yourself From Lawsuits

It may sound absurd, but a scraped knee really can lead to a lawsuit. Americans are notoriously touchy about issues of private property and personal responsibility. They also have a quick trigger finger when it comes to lawsuits. All that can mean that the littlest incident can lead to a massive suit.

Consider the famous example of the woman who spilled coffee on herself an blamed McDonald’s. The law was set up in such a way that she was able to successfully claim McDonald’s was a fault because the coffee was hotter than it should have been, and she had not been properly warned about that fact.

The fact that she had acted foolishly in keeping coffee between her legs was not an important enough fact to save McDonald’s.

Similarly, a neighborhood child who falls off his or her bike and skins their knee on your property could, in fact, cry to Mommy and Daddy and get them to sue you. And you would be at fault as well if you had not taken care to keep the sidewalks clear of items that might lead to that fall.

While a skinned knee would probably get dismissed from court, more serious accidents (say if the kid required surgery for some injury) may not be.

This all goes to say, everyone needs to be careful and know exactly where the law leaves them exposed. How many of us have left objects out on the sidewalk without thinking? A garden hose, perhaps a lawn gnome we intend to move, it could be anything. How many of us leave the bumper of our cars trailing out in the sidewalk area? How many of us are slow to clear the snow after it falls, even after our neighbors got up early and did so?

All those situations could leave us exposed to lawsuits if someone hurt themselves on our patch of cement.

While that may seem unlikely, the fact is it happens every day. Should our neighbors be as touchy and trigger-happy about lawsuits as some people in this country, we could be in for massive legal bills and perhaps an equally massive settlement.

The only way to avoid these issues is to be particularly quick to take care of these issues. Don’t sleep in, go clear the snow. Don’t leave the lawn gnome out there. Repark your car. Otherwise, go live out in the country where you have no neighbors or in the city where the sidewalks are maintained by the city.

There are just no other options. And this is by no means the limit of where you may be liable for accidents others have. There is any number of ways you could find yourself in legal trouble, even when you weren’t present.

It’s important to read up on the potential personal injuries others can sustain so as to protect yourself from any future potential lawsuits. That’s just the country we live in these days.

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Why Do Pet Owners Walk Their Dogs?

There are a number of factors to take into account before you decide to add a new pet to your family. Namely, dogs make great companions, but they also require a large investment of time, money, and attention. In many cases, owning a dog will force you to modify your daily routine in order to meet the needs of your pet. One such change could include walking your dog and making sure your dog gets enough exercise and movement throughout the day. New research suggests that dog owners are more motivated to move than their counterparts without dogs because they enjoy the happiness it brings their pet.

The study was conducted by researchers at The University of Liverpool, according to a recent Science Daily article. In a sense, the study discovered the obvious: people did what made them happy. In the case of dog owners, walking their dog brought them joy and improved their own wellbeing. That means pet owners were more intrinsically motivated and pursuing personal happiness than basking benefits of cardio or getting some sunlight. Researchers claim that this study is the most intensive and up-to-date evaluations of how dog owners think and feel about walking their furry friends. The study included 26 interviews that encouraged owners to write personal reflections about their dog-walking experiences.  After conducting the interviews, the researchers found that walkers take their dogs out because it makes them feel good.

However, the likelihood of dog owners taking their dog out depended on how the owner perceived the pet’s experience. Basically, if the dog seemed happy then the walker felt happy as well. On the other hand, dog owners were less likely to walk their dog if the pet was not positively receiving the experience. For example, if the pet owner felt their dog was lazy, too old, or had behavioral issues, they were less likely to walk it. In other words, problems with the dog reduced their joy and could even weaken their relationship with the dog.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Westgarth, noted: “the factors that motivate dog walking are extremely complex, yet we know they can strongly motivate human health behavior.” Researchers are hoping to use this new information to motivate all dog owners to move more with their pets. Having a dog could help people reach their weekly exercise quota. For example, if a dog owner goes for a 30-minute walk with their dog five times per week, they will meet the recommended cardio level for American adults.

Even if you do not have the time or motivation to walk your dog, your pet needs exercise and your dog benefits from daily trips outside. One great option is hiring someone to walk your dog for you.

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Oceanside Medical Malpractice

Physicians are meant to be individuals that we can trust in some of the most frightening circumstances. They are able to provide care and treatment after serious accidents or in the event of a major illness. We respect these professionals because of their years of experience, extensive knowledge, and dedication to their patient’s well-being. Most medical professionals are deserving of this trust and respect and they perform their job, with the best of their ability. Nevertheless, some take advantage of this status and use their position of medical power for their own benefit. This form of medical malpractice is particularly despicable as it involves doctor’s preying on their own patients, who are looking for trusted advice and assistance. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience as the San Diego Reader reports on two such instances that have occurred in 2017.

Both a San Diego doctor and an Oceanside doctor are facing serious consequences after engaging in medical malpractice. In March of 2017, Dr. Naga Raja Thota surrendered his medical license after it was uncovered that he was distributing highly addictive opioid medications, such as oxycodone, to patients in exchange for sexual favors. Working for the El Cajon Pain Management Center, he had access to these drugs in high doses and his prescriptions went unnoticed, among the many others at the center. Several women came forward indicating that they were the victim of his sexual advances, and feared he would stop prescribing their medication if they did not agree. One woman even indicated that Dr. Thota prescribed her increasing doses of pain medication and claimed it would help decrease her pain. However, this patient did not suffer from any medical condition that would cause severe pain, and this constant supply of opioid medication eventually led her to a heroin addiction. In an earlier case of medical malpractice, Oceanside Dr. Glen Mark Balfour was also accused of prescribing patients excessive amounts of opioid painkillers. Dr. Balfour is facing a four-year probation for his actions, while Dr. Thota has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.

In both of these cases, doctors helped provide their patients with a dangerous and addictive substance for their own gain. No matter whether these patients actively asked for opioids or were led to believe they needed them, they are the victims of a devastating medical practice, which encouraged or led to addiction. These doctors went against everything that the medical community believes in and strives for, and it is important that they are punished for their actions.

The victims of these doctors’ actions must now face the physical and financial costs of managing an opioid addiction. This is a long and difficult addiction to battle, and it will likely require significant medical treatment and rehabilitation to overcome. However, these women may seek compensation for the damage these doctors have caused with the help of a medical malpractice attorney. Although this will not undo the harm these doctors caused, it can help these individuals remain financially stable while they are recovering.

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Earthquakes and House Damages

Earthquakes are some of the most hazardous natural disasters in existence. They can result into significant injuries and even deaths. But it is important to point out that natural disasters such as earthquakes pose a threat not just to life, but also to property, especially houses.

There are generally three factors that affect the level of damage a house may sustain, and they are the following:

·       The strength of the earthquake – a stronger earthquake usually translates to greater damages

·       The distance from the earthquake source – the closer the house is to the source of the earthquake or the earthquake itself, the stronger force it will sustain, so it is likely that it will also receive more damage

·       The condition of the soil under the house – different soils react differently to earthquakes, like how soils near bodies of water are more prone to liquefaction and cause more damage to your house

The most common house damage associated with earthquakes is structural, meaning that the very structure of the house is at risk. Structural damage usually manifests in the following:

·       Wall cracks and collapse – the sheer force of earthquakes can make walls crack and even collapse

·       Uneven floors – floors can pop up or sink in, and at their worst, they may even be out of level with the other parts of the house

·       Electrical and gas line damages – structures within your house, such as wiring and gas systems can sustain damage, and the damage may even be severe enough to cause fires and explosions and may warrant replacements

·       Misalignments – parts of the house that need to close or lock, such as doors and windows, do not do so, because they can become misaligned

·       Glass breaks – parts of the house made of glass, such as windows, can break

The website of the Texas property appraisers at K2 Consulting & Services, LLC mentions that it may be hard to appraise the value of your property and assess the value of damage. For this reason, it is important to enumerate the different structural damages above, so you can have an idea what to specifically look at when checking for damages.

You should also not overlook the damage earthquakes can do to appliances, furniture, and personal belongings, especially those that have been unsecured.

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Don’t Let Emotions Get in the Way of Divorce

Don’t Let Emotions Get in the Way of Divorce

When you think about divorce, one of the first things that come to your mind is the stressful legal process, but this doesn’t change the fact that all divorces are emotional, whether the divorce is contested or not. The legal issues can be taken care of with the help of divorce attorneys, but the emotional issues are solely your responsibility. Below are some of the things you can do to not let your emotions get in the way of the divorce proceedings.

Don’t settle immediately

Divorce may involve a variety of legal issues, such as division of assets, child custody, and allocation of debts. Therefore, it is not surprising that you will find these issues too much of a hassle and just give in to the demands of your ex-partner just so you can get it over with. If you give in, remember that your life may make unnecessary compromises, and this can be particularly risky when it comes to finances and relationship with your children.

Don’t seek revenge

Divorce is filed because of many reasons, such as infidelity or domestic violence. Sometimes, these reasons make you overly emotional that it comes to the point that you will do measures to get back on your partner in the divorce process, like asking for more assets than you deserve. This is not just unnecessary, as it can also result into bigger legal expenses, coming in the form of more time in courts and more attorney fees.

Don’t rant on social media

Social media has been an outlet for us to share our lives with others, but sometimes, this sharing can also be detrimental, such as the case during divorce. Avoid posting about the divorce on social media, especially posts that give negative connotations about you, your partner, and your children.

Don’t drag your children into it

Divorce can involve your children, such as in determining child custody upon separation, but it doesn’t mean that you should make them feel that they are a significant part of the legal process. As much as possible, let them focus on other things, such as their education or recreational activities, because getting them too involved in the legalities may have negative impacts on them, and they may even feel that they are part of the reason behind the separation.

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Child Endangerment in DUI

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has severe consequences, such as fines, community services, license suspensions, and even jail times. The consequences become even more severe if the driver has an underage passenger. The reason for this is child endangerment.

Child endangerment refers to the act of putting an underage individual in danger. It is there to protect children from parents and guardians whose reckless and negligent behaviors can cause them harm. One of those reckless and negligent behaviors is driving under the influence, which puts the children at risk of unwarranted traffic accidents, injuries, or even death.

DUI in Tennessee
Driving under the influence has consequences, such as fines, license suspensions and revocations, and jail times, depending on the gravity of the offense.

According to a DUI article from the website of Horst Law, the first three offenses of DUI have fines of up to $10,000, license revocations of up to 10 years, and varying jail times that can be longer than 120 days. The fourth and subsequent offenses have worse consequences, as they are considered Class E felonies. The fines go up to $15,000, license revocations up to 8 years, and times in state prison of a minimum of 1 year.

Child endangerment
The base charge for DUI can just be misdemeanors, but they can be elevated to Class D felonies when a child is involved, especially if the child has sustained serious injuries because of the offense. If the child has been killed, the felony is further elevated to Class B, making the consequences more severe. Take note that the child here is anyone under the age of 18. The mere presence of such a person in the intoxicated driver’s vehicle is enough grounds for child endangerment.

The severity of the consequences has various factors, such as the age of the driver and the child passenger, severity of the passenger’s injury, and the number of DUI-related offenses the driver has. In conjunction with the DUI penalties that have been mentioned above, the driver may suffer from a combination of other consequences, such as additional fines, license revocation years, and jail times.

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Penalties And Consequences For Drug Possession

Drug possession is a serious crime that can have a wide range of consequences. Controlled substances are heavily regulated by the law. Illegally possessing, cultivating, distributing, or trafficking them is a violation of the law and can result to criminal consequences. Getting charged with drug possession can have life-altering consequences. The effects of drug possession may vary from one state to another.

Drug possession carries with it a wide range of penalties during sentencing. In 1986, Federal lawmakers passed mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug charges. Penalties and sentences are dependent on the type of drug, weight of the drug, and the number of previous convictions. Drug charges are prosecuted in either state or federal courts. The penalties will depend on the kind and amount of drug that was found.

Each state also has its own drug laws and they are quite different from Federal laws in the severity of the consequences. For state laws, simple possession may be charged as misdemeanor and may include probation in the sentence. Federal laws, on the other hand, usually have harsher punishments and longer sentences.

When convicted for possession, the court may require the defendant to attend a drug diversionary program before getting probation. For severe cases, they may be sentenced to serve jail time in a Federal or state prison. There are various factors that can affect the sentence that will be handed down on the defendant. The judge may look at the aggravating or mitigating circumstances such as the past record of the defendant and the type of drug involved.

Finally, it is also up to the judge to determine the sentence they will impose on the defendant. The court will look at the facts and merits of the case. The penalties will depend on the state where the case was filed.

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Police Misconduct: Examples of the Unlawful Abuse of Power

Police officers hold a lot of power as enforcers of the law. They are expected to wield this power responsibly, setting aside any personal biases and prejudice when performing their duties. This point, in particular, is becoming an important topic of discourse considering the large-scale, nationwide protests against police misconduct.

In May 2015, The Washington Post came out with data sourced from interviews, police reports, and local news account regarding occurrences of police misconduct all over the country. Based on their findings, it was found that there had been 385 fatal shootings by police at the time of the survey. One in every six of these fatalities involved individuals that were either unarmed or where carrying a toy gun. In the same report, The Washington Post established that, in terms of race, black Americans were killed at thrice the rate of fatalities for whites and other minorities. Similarly, it was found that a quarter of the shooting fatalities were known to be mentally ill.

These fatal shootings involving unarmed individuals are an example of police brutality, which is just one of the many kinds of illegal and unethical practices that some officers take part in. Police brutality encompasses the use of intimidation and verbal abuse, as well as the use of excessive force. That certain minorities are more likely to fall victim to these instances of police brutality is another example of officer misconduct. Police discrimination includes racial profiling.

Other common cases of police misconduct include sexual harassment, wrongful arrests and detention, and denying suspects from receiving emergency medical care. According to Evans Moore, LLC, all these instances are recognized by the law as explicit violations of civil rights and liberties. Committing acts of police misconduct can leave officers vulnerable to disciplinary action, as well as both civil and criminal legal action.

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Tips For Making Your Boating Trip Safe

Boating provides us with an opportunity to appreciate the wonders of the sea and other bodies of water. A boat trip can be fun and enjoyable but when someone gets hurt, the thrill of the experience will disappear. According to the website of Ali Mokaram, injuries in boating accidents can be particularly grievous and could even lead to death. Here are some tips on how you can keep your boating trip safe:

  1. Be Weather Conscious
    Prior to your boat trip, check local weather conditions. You can check the forecast from the TV and radio. If you see dark clouds and changing wind conditions, it is best to postpone your trip to some other day.
  2. Maintain a Pre-Departure Checklist
    Boating safety includes planning for any possibilities in the water. By preparing a pre-departure checklist, you can always ensure the safety of your trip. This will ensure that everything is covered.
  3. Use Common Sense
    Boating sensibly means maintaining a safe speed, staying alert all the time, and staying away from large vessels and watercraft. Also watch out for buoys and other navigational aids, which are designed to keep you safe when in the water.
  4. Wear Lifejackets
    Most drowning victims are due to not wearing lifejackets. So make sure that you have them on your boat before departure.
  5. Don’t Drink Alcohol
    Same as driving, if you plan to go boating, stay away from alcohol. Alcoholic beverages increase the possibility of boating incidents and studies revealed that the effects of alcohol can be aggravated by the sun and wind.
  6. Learn Swimming
    Learning how to swim will help keep you safe when boating. Different organizations such as the American Red Cross offer training for different ages and skills.
  7. Have Your Boat Inspected
    The US Coast Guard can help you conduct a safety check for your boat. They can conduct complimentary boat examinations and confirm if there are safety equipment in your boat as required by state and Federal regulations.

Keep these tips in mind and you can be sure of a safe boating experience during your trip.

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