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A s I write this, it’s the middle of April, and we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because our firm focuses on car wrecks, and we work with clients who have been injured or experienced damages, you might imagine things have changed for us. There has been a significant drop in motorists on the road, which means people aren’t getting into as many wrecks. As a result, we’re seeing far fewer cases than we normally do. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look into a personal injury law firm: We generally don’t get paid on cases for anywhere between 6–18 months after we sign on a new client. So from a cash flow perspective, our firm hasn’t changed much because we are still working on cases and getting them settled. Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters are working from home — just like us — and still having to do their jobs. While no one was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, we are fortunate that we had already set ourselves up with the proper technology to work remotely. Everyone at the firm has laptops and remote access to case files. The only real difference is that our team is not working at the office in order to adhere to the shelter-in-place orders. It’s just about business as usual! We have a cloud-based client management system that allows our team members to securely work on cases from wherever they have an internet connection. The office phones from each desk were also moved to everyone’s respective homes. Outgoing phone calls look as though they are still being made from the office. (This way, if you have our number saved to your contacts, then you know it’s us!) It also allows all incoming phone calls to be routed to our homes instead of the office so we don’t miss a thing. We can even transfer to each respective extension. That’s the wonder of technology for you! My house is only about five minutes from the office. I still come into the office every day, but I’m the only one in the building. Alison normally works from home and had been doing so long before the shelter-at-home order, so we already have our own home workspace set up. It’s made things very smooth. As of this writing, we haven’t eaten inside a restaurant in over a month. I miss going to eat out. I miss shaking hands and hugging people, too! Looking back, things like this seem so small and simple, and yet, when they are gone, even temporarily, I really miss them in my daily life. Weathering the Storm
One good thing to come out of the pandemic is virtual court hearings. I was able to attend court and represent my clients from my desk in shorts. I could get used to that! It’s nice not having to put on a suit and go to the courthouse on those hot Texas summer days. Maybe the court system will continue to use some of the virtual technology. I know many other businesses owners haven’t been in our position and have been crippled by COVID-19. We were blessed to be in a financial and technological position to weather the storm. Instead of focusing on the negative, we remain optimistic. We are improving our internal systems and working on some new strategies to come out of this stronger than before. That’s just what we do as Americans. This too shall pass.
–Matt Aulsbrook 1
Stay safe out there,
THE FINAL FRONTIER Commercial space travel might still be the stuff of science fiction stories, but thanks to computer programs and augmented reality, your family can still experience what it’s like to explore space. NASA and other organizations provide a wealth of free resources that make space exploration come to life for stargazers and future astronauts alike. Take some time to explore a few of our favorites today. NASA Takes You on a (Virtual) Space Adventure
THE RULES OF THE ROAD
Tailgating is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors on the road. Likely you’ve encountered it. An impatient driver comes up behind you during your commute and won’t let off the gas. Their goal is to intimidate, and in doing so, they put everyone on the road at serious risk. Tailgating is dangerous because it reduces reaction time. If the traffic suddenly slows down or there is another hazard in the road, then the tailgating driver cannot safely react. There is a high probability that they will rear-end the vehicle in front of them or swerve into another lane of traffic. The possible outcomes aren’t good. The other thing to realize is that vehicles come in many shapes, sizes, and weights. Certain vehicles, such as commercial trucks, take much longer to stop than a family car does. Heavy vehicles driving at highway speeds is a dangerous combination already, but adding tailgating or other risky behavior — such as distracted driving — to the equation may result in disaster. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic congestion is one of the primary causes of aggressive driving behavior, including tailgating. Drivers want to get through the congestion and are willing to put themselves and others at risk to do so. One of the best ways to reduce risk is to adhere to the two-second rule or the car-length rule. If you’re driving a passenger car, then you want to keep two seconds between you and the car ahead of you. Alternatively, you can keep one car length in between you and the next vehicle for every 10 mph of your speed. So, if you’re going 50 mph, then keeping five car- lengths between you and the vehicle ahead is ideal. While this isn’t always possible, especially in congested traffic, the more it is practiced, the safer you and other drivers will be. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has slightly different suggestions for larger vehicles, such as full-size SUVs and larger pickup trucks. These types of vehicles should allow for 3–4 seconds between them and the vehicle in front of them because they require more stopping time. At the end of the day, no one should ever tailgate. There is never a reason to. If traffic is moving slow, then you won’t get to your destination any faster. If a single driver is driving slowly, then navigate around them when it is safe to do so, but maintain a safe driving distance. Tailgating and You!
Touring the International Space Station
First launched in 1998, the International Space Station is a multinational space research laboratory. Nineteen different nations have sent astronauts, cosmonauts, and space tourists to the space station to conduct scientific experiments. It’s truly the stuff science fiction dreams are made of! In 2012, Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams filmed a full tour of this amazing floating lab and even included a quick lesson on how to work out in zero gravity. “Visit” the space station for yourself at Bit.ly/ISSTour.
Exploring Deep Space Via Virtual Reality
On Jan. 30, 2020, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope concluded its 16-year mission researching exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system. This data was used to create Exoplanet Excursions, an immersive virtual reality experience that lets your family experience the Spitzer’s discoveries and control the telescope yourself. These incredible excursions are available on Oculus or Steam, so visit Spitzer.Caltech.edu/vr to start your adventure and explore deep space today!
Planet-Hopping With NASA
Have you ever wondered would it be like to stand on another world? Then “book” your next vacation with the Exoplanet Travel Bureau! This program takes you on digital tours of real exoplanets NASA has discovered. Though we don’t know what the surfaces of these worlds look like, artists have used scientific data to create 3D landscapes to explore. See them all, from Kepler-16b to TRAPPIST- 1e, at Exoplanets.NASA.gov/alien-worlds/exoplanet-travel-bureau.
their opinion. The more you include them in the conversation, the less your rule feels like the law, and the more it becomes a compromise. Additionally, local law enforcement agencies or hospitals may offer simulations and classes on distracted driving. TEACHING TEENS ABOUT SAFE DRIVING HABITS THE NEW DRIVER Learning to drive is a rite of passage for teenagers, but it’s also a frightening time for parents. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of serious accidents among teens. However, there are ways to help keep your teen — and the people around them — safe. TRACK THEM
Your child has a right to privacy, but they still need your parental guidance. There are a variety of apps you can install to make sure they’re keeping up their end of the driving bargain. Apps like LifeSaver, AT&T DriveMode, and TrueMotion Family all have a variety of features for parents and are compatible with iOS and Android devices. Some insurance companies also offer monitoring devices that can be installed in your teen’s car. Technology can provide you with an easy way to monitor your children while still giving them freedom and privacy.
We all inevitably pick up on our parents’ tendencies and traits, and your driving habits will likely be repeated by your kids. So, lead by example: Put your phone in your purse or center console. If you use your phone for GPS, then install a phone stand in a safe location on your dashboard and turn your phone on airplane mode once you set your destination. Your phone’s GPS will work without cell service, and you won’t be distracted by text messages or social media notifications. Your kids will see your effort and pick up your safe habits.
TALK TO THEM
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Talk to your teen about the dangers of all varieties of distracted driving, like putting on makeup or eating behind the wheel. If they feel they have to get ready or eat in the car, then discuss ways their schedule might need to be cleared up. They might also have ideas for cutting out distractions in the car, so get
MONTSERRAT O S WA L D
GRILLED BASIL CHICKEN AND TOMATOES
Inspired by TasteOfHome.com
You can’t go wrong with grilled chicken and tomatoes on a warm summer’s evening. It’s a simple recipe that packs a flavor punch.
• • • • •
2 tbsp olive oil 1 clove garlic
8 Roma tomatoes
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1. For marinade: In blender, combine olive oil, garlic, salt, vinegar, and basil. Cut 2 tomatoes into quarters and add to mixture. Cover and process until blended. Halve remaining tomatoes for grilling. 2. In bowl, combine chicken and 2/3 cup marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Reserve remaining marinade. 3. Heat grill to about 350–400 F. Lightly oil grates. Grill chicken until internal temperature reads 165 F, about 4–6 minutes per side. Grill tomatoes until lightly browned, about 2–4 minutes per side. Discard remaining marinade. 4. Serve chicken and tomatoes with reserved marinade.
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INSIDE Weathering the Storm 1
MONTSERRAT O S WA L D
Go Planet-Hopping With NASA What Is the Most Dangerous Driving Behavior? 2 Teaching Your Teen Safe Driving Habits Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes 3 5 World Records Broken by Animals 4 Cases We Handle: • Personal Injury • Wrongful Death
• Car Wreck • Truck Wreck
Super Beagles and Jumping Llamas
“He’s a complete diva,” says Williams. “So, if there are people there to show off in front of, that’s when he’s at his ultimate best.”
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS’ MOST AMAZING ANIMALS
Didga, a Very Tricky Kitty Anyone who says cats can’t learn tricks hasn’t met Didga. In 2016, Didga, with help from her human, Robert Dollwet, claimed a world record by performing 20 different tricks in 60 seconds. Her routine started with the classics, like sitting and giving high-fives, and culminated in riding a skateboard while hopping over a low bar. Dollwet told Guinness World Records that training Didga took a lot of time and patience and that he was so proud of his clever cat.
Hearing about someone who has claimed a Guinness World Record is pretty cool, but do you know what’s even cooler? When animals make world records. Here are a few amazing animals who hold some really cool records. Caspa, the Amazing Jumping Llama Sue Williams is an animal trainer and behaviorist who specializes in dogs. One day, she was working on agility training with her dogs when she noticed her llama, Caspa, watching them. After a little time and training, Williams discovered that Caspa loved jumping, too. In 2015, Caspa cleared a bar set at 3 feet, 8 1/2 inches. He jumped right into the world record for “highest bar jump cleared by a llama.”
Purin, the Beagle Who Holds 3 Guinness World Records Nicknamed “The Super Beagle,” Purin scored her first title in 2015 for her amazing goalkeeping skills.
The beagle “saved” 14 mini soccer balls thrown by her human, Makoto Kumagai, in one minute. A year later, Purin claimed another record when she became the “fastest dog on a ball” by traveling 10 meters in 10.39 seconds while balancing on a ball. Not long after, Purin and Kumagai set the record for “most skips by a dog and a person in one minute — single rope” with 58 skips. Talk about super!
You can find videos of all these amazing record holders and more at GuinnessWorldRecords.com .
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