The Sharp Firm - May 2020

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MAY 2020

Remembering What Really Matters A Mother’s Day Shoutout to My Incredible Mom

These last few months have been tough, but for me, a bright spot has been spending time with my family. I have more appreciation than ever for my wife, Laura, and everything she does for us, and I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about my kids, my siblings, and my parents, who live a few hundred miles away. With Mother’s Day coming up this month, I wanted to put all that worrying to good use and give a shoutout to my mom, Kathleen. It’s funny to say I’ve been worrying about my mom because, for as long as I can remember, she’s been the worrywart of the family. I’m the oldest of four siblings, and when we were growing up, it seemed like my mom was always fretting about something and making things seem worse than they were. Every situation was a worst-case scenario. I’m sure you know the drill — if one of my siblings was even five minutes late to something, she’d think they were dead in a ditch somewhere. That said, my mom was also great at coping when times were tough. No matter what went down, she was the one who could always find a light at the end of the tunnel. I admired that ability then, and I respect it even more now! Considering my dad was away serving in Vietnam for a year and a half while my siblings and I were growing up, it’s possible my mom felt she had to cultivate that mindset. Raising three kids alone (my youngest sister didn’t come along until later) couldn’t have been easy,

As the oldest in my family, I feel responsible for checking in on my siblings and parents, particularly when things get tough. I’ve been making the rounds a lot lately to talk to everyone and make sure they’re doing okay. I’ve even tried to get my mom onto Zoom so we can video chat! Hopefully, I can help her master the platform in time for Mother’s Day. It’s going to be strange not to see her in person to hand over gifts and take her out to lunch, but I’m grateful for any contact we can have. Now more than ever, her ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel is a gift. Don’t forget to text, call, or video chat your own mom this Mother’s Day if you’re able. By leaning on each other, we’ll get through this crisis and come out stronger.

but her grit and strong faith in God helped her out when things got difficult.

Another thing I admire about my mom is that she never let motherhood stop her from pursuing her other dreams. She has an undergraduate degree and a master’s in library science, and when my siblings and I got older, she went on to law school. Funnily enough, the two of us actually went to law school at the same time, just to different schools! That might have seemed weird to some people, but it never bothered me. I was just proud of what a hard worker my mom was.

“By leaning on each other, we’ll get through this crisis and come out stronger.”

–Lance Sharp

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THE PROS AND CONS OF BUYING A HOME IN A 55-PLUS COMMUNITY

Depending on your wants and needs, buying a home in a 55-plus community might be a financially savvy way to set yourself up for retirement. But is it the right decision for you? Here are a few financial pros and cons associated with moving into one of these neighborhoods. PRO: THE HOMES ARE IN EXCELLENT CONDITION. Oftentimes, 55-plus communities provide maintenance services, including housekeeping and landscaping. Also, it’s likely that only a handful of people have occupied the home since it was built, so buying in a 55-plus community means you’ll get a property in excellent condition with less wear and tear. CON: YOU’LL HAVE TO PAY A MONTHLY FEE. Unfortunately, all the great stuff doesn’t come free. Usually, you’ll have to pay an extra monthly bill, similar to a homeowners association fee, to live in a 55-plus community. Some communities include all maintenance and amenities in the monthly rent or mortgage (some even cover utility bills), but make sure you understand what is and isn’t covered before you sign a contract! PRO: AMENITIES ARE INCLUDED. Most 55-plus communities include amenities like exercise classes and educational programs for their residents. They also invite community

organizations and leaders to speak about local issues or upcoming elections. Some even have a clubhouse or dining hall for social gatherings. Save money by taking advantage of these programs instead of paying for a gymmembership or a course at the local community college. CON: IT’S A LIMITED BUYER’S AND RENTER’S MARKET. Most people who buy in a 55-plus community plan to retire there. If this is your original intention but your plans change down the road, you might have a harder time selling your home here than in a community that is open to people of all ages. Make sure to budget for those potential holding costs and plan accordingly.

Regardless of where you decide to buy, be sure to consult an experienced real estate agent and a financial planner. Here’s to living out your golden years in comfort and convenience! THE $60,000 HEISTYOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF Crimeless Theft in Cyberspace

Because of the risk-reward nature of the game, many players unite in huge factions for safety and to pool their resources. One of these groups, Circle of Two or CO2, was the target of the 2017 attack. Within a matter of hours, CO2’s bank accounts were drained and the space stations holding their fleets of ships were sold to their enemies. It was clear from the beginning: This was an inside job. The thief was CO2’s own head diplomat, a player called “The Judge.” For years he’d worked his way through the alliance’s ranks, only to use the access he eventually gained to rob it blind. But greed may not have been his only motivation. He’d had public disagreements with CO2’s leader called Gigx, and a rival faction was able to capitalize on this internal conflict. During an in-person EVE Online summit held in Iceland, representatives from The GoonSwarm Federation convinced The Judge to leave CO2 and commit the single largest robbery in gaming history on his way out. In the real world, The Judge’s actions were completely legal — currently, international law doesn’t treat such virtual objects as personal property. But this perception may be changing. As in-game purchases become more widespread in video games, legal lines have blurred, causing an increasing number of lawmakers to rethink what constitutes “ownership” in the digital age. But, for now at least, it seems like a good time to be a space pirate.

In 2017, sometime between Sept. 11 and 12, a total of $60,000 worth of digital assets were stolen from people around the world. The conspirators didn’t hide their identities, and they faced no criminal charges. As it turns out, there are no laws against stealing spaceships in a video game — even if they’re worth thousands of real-world dollars. EVE Online is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that was launched in 2003, and it was on this game that the theft occurred. This science-fiction game is all about spacefaring, but one notable feature of the game is that it allows players to purchase in-game assets with real money. This attracts players who can spend large sums on the game, with some of the game’s largest spaceships costing $9,000. But one thing to note in EVE Online is that no matter how much you pay, once you lose an asset, it’s gone forever.

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TAKE A BREAK

When cats are orphaned as kittens, they don’t get the chance to develop all the skills needed to become successful cats. Just like human children, kittens need older role models too. The most famous cat role model had a rough start in life but became an inspiration for kittens and humans alike. His name was Grandpa Mason, and during the last years of his life, he stepped up and gave love, care, and guidance to the orphaned kittens that lived with him. The Canadian animal rescue group TinyKittens rescued Grandpa Mason in 2016 from a property that was scheduled to be bulldozed. The poor feral tabby was suffering from many health problems, including severe dental issues, a badly injured paw, and advanced kidney disease. Since TinyKittens is a no-kill rescue organization, euthanization was out of the question. Given his health conditions, veterinarians predicted the battle- scarred Grandpa Mason didn’t have long to live, so TinyKittens’ founder, Shelly Roche, took him in and provided him with a comfortable place to sleep, plenty of food, and time to relax in the last months of his life. Grandpa Mason had a hard time adjusting to domestic life and would often shy away from being petted. In an interview with The Dodo, Roche described him as “an elderly gentleman [who] lived his whole life a certain way, and then, all of a sudden, [was] forced to live completely differently.” After Grandpa Mason grew accustomed to his home, Roche took in several foster kittens, and those new roommates completely altered Grandpa Mason’s behavior. Roche expected him to hiss, swat, or growl at the kittens when they invaded his space, but he didn’t. Instead, he allowed them to crawl all over him and appeared to enjoy it when they licked his ear. Suddenly a playful, affectionate, and gentle personality came out of Grandpa Mason as he played with, bathed, taught, and cared for the orphaned kittens that Roche welcomed into her home. Potentially due to the kittens’ influence, Grandpa Mason surpassed his prognosis by more than two years. During the last few years of his life, Grandpa Mason passed on important lessons and good manners to the kittens he looked after and adored, as a true grandfather should. He passed last September, but he spent his last night in his ultimate happy place: snuggling in his bed surrounded by kittens. THE STORY OF GRANDPA MASON How a Feral Cat Came to Care for Orphaned Kittens

STICKY AND SWEET PORK ‘RIBS’

Inspired by Bon Appétit

Whether you’re celebrating your mom or those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, there’s no better recipe to grill up than these delectable country-style pork ribs.

Ingredients

1/2 cup chili oil

2 heads garlic, cloves separated

1/3 cup oyster sauce

3 thumbs ginger, chopped

1/3 cup toasted sesame oil

1 cup hoisin sauce

5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, flattened

3/4 cup fish sauce

2/3 cup honey

3/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup rice wine

1 tbsp molasses

Directions

1. In a blender, purée garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, honey, rice wine, chili oil, oyster sauce, and toasted sesame oil until smooth. 2. Reserve and chill 1 1/2 cups for later use. 3. In a bag, add the remaining mixture and pork shoulder. Marinate for at least 8 hours. 4. Using a convection plate on the grill, cook pork until the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 140–145 F. 5. In a large saucepan, simmer brown sugar, molasses, and reserved marinade for 6–8 minutes. 6. Baste the pork with the brown sugar glaze for 2 minutes before serving.

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512-407-8800 www.SharpFirm.com 3307 Northland Drive, #302 Austin, TX 78703

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1

Family Will Get Us Through

Is a 55-Plus Community Right for You? A $60,000 Robbery With No Jail Time

2

Sticky and Sweet Pork ‘Ribs’ The Best Grandfather a Kitten Could Have

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Technology Saves the Day

HOW TO STAY IN TOUCHWITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHILE FOLLOWING SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES

SPRUCE UP EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES.

Get in touch with other parents to set up virtual play dates over video chats for your kids. They can even watch a movie or TV show together.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging communities across the U.S. to practice social distancing. While this will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, it also means that social interactions will be minimal. In addition to impeding many industries and businesses, this has significant impacts on families and friends who can no longer visit each other in person. Luckily, the technology we have today allows us to stay in touch while still practicing social responsibility.

Hopping on the phone or your laptop to video chat is a great way to reach out and catch up with loved ones. While folding laundry or doing other mundane chores, give a friend or your parents a call to idly chat; it can make your tedious tasks much more enjoyable. Video calls are also beneficial if, for example, you’re missing out on your daily workouts with a friend. Hop on a video chat to practice yoga, cardio, or other simple exercise routines together.

HOST A MOVIE NIGHT.

Speaking of movies, Netflix developed a unique way for people to watch movies and shows together: Netflix Party. If you have a desktop or laptop with a Chrome browser, visit NetflixParty. com to download the application. Once downloaded, open the movie or TV series you’d like to watch, create or join a “party,” then relax and enjoy the show while chatting with friends. These are only a few examples of how we can stay in touch during these concerning times. Talk with your family and friends and see what other creative ideas you can come up with together. Even though you may be apart from loved ones right now, virtual communication has never been easier or more plentiful.

LET YOUR KIDS CHAT WITH FRIENDS.

Kids can benefit from video chatting by staying in touch with their friends while school and other activities are canceled. Letting your kids connect to social media is a pretty big step, so consider signing themup for Yoursphere or Kidzworld, kid- friendly networks that let them keep in touch with their friends while you canmonitor their activity.

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