Simon Law Firm - April 2020


March 2020

T he $100 H ack T hat L ets Y ou T alk to Y our C ar ’ s C omputer

Buy an OBD-II Scanner!

Your car is your baby — until it's not. When things go downhill, they go downhill fast, and it usually starts with a warning on the dash and the most inscrutable light of all: the "check engine" light. Is the car about to blow up, is there a bad oxygen sensor, or is the gas cap loose? Who knows? The same light is used for each and every one of these issues, and for many people, this small light means a $100 trip to the garage to have a mechanic read the codes and diagnose the problem.

Once you find and purchase the right model, all you do is plug it in and follow the directions. We have found that the BlueDriver LSB2 model works well with most cars; plus, it uses your smartphone as the display screen. You can find it on

Amazon here: Professional-iPhone-Android/dp/B00652G4TS.

This tool will allow you to dive deep into your car's electronics and even get real-time engine data while it is running. On the simple level, you can wipe out the service light and, with some models, even reprogram replacement keys! I just bought my daughter a 16-year-old Land Rover, and the check engine light came on ominously a week after purchase. I ordered an OBD-II reader and —

Quit wasting money! For just a little bit of time and a one-time $100 purchase, you can read the codes, figure out if the light is indicating anything serious, and resolve the warning yourself. All you need is an OBD-II scanner. Go online and do some research on the make and model of your car to see what scanner other owners have used successfully. Each make and model has a proprietary computer on board, so not all OBD-II readers work on all cars. Keep in mind that fancier cars by Land Rover and Mercedes require special readers, so be sure you choose the right one. While you’re online, do some research on

shazam! — it was just a bad seal on the gas cap causing a pressure deviation. I cleared it out, and she kept on driving.

If you’re wondering what to do once your scanner reads

the code, simply go back to the internet, plug in the code, and find the crowdsourced wisdom. If it's a big deal, then you can take it to the shop.

common car problems and how other owners solved them without going to a mechanic. You will be amazed by what you find.

Happy motoring!

–Christopher Simon | 1

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Wellness and Whiskers 3WaystoWorkOutWithYourPet

Going for a Swim If you have a dog that appears to be more fish than canine, swimming might be the workout for you! Swimming is a joint-friendly cardiovascular exercise that works your entire body. If you’re not one for a dip in the pool, then kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are great for your arms and core. Meanwhile, your pet can enjoy a relaxing ride or an exciting game of fetch. Just be sure to secure your pet with a life jacket before you and your four-legged friend splash away!

Creating a healthy lifestyle is often easier with support, but if you’re struggling to find someone to join you on your path to wellness, then look to your furry friends instead. Read on for some ways to get active with your pet, and learn more about their wellness and health at Racking Up the Miles A simple way to get moving with your pet is to go for a walk. If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, then try running, biking, or hiking with your pet. Anything beyond a walk may require extra obedience training or equipment — like a specialty tool that prevents your pet from colliding with your bike — but after a few loops around the trail, your pet will be begging to go again. And how can you say no to that face? Plus, this idea isn’t just for dogs. You can find leashes and harnesses for cats, lizards, ferrets, and other pets that love to get fresh air. It takes some serious basketball knowledge — and a lot of luck — to successfully predict the outcome of March Madness. Whether you’re an average hoops fan or an expert, it’s more difficult than you might think. The Smithsonian estimates the odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quadrillion. But gone are the days of relying on the most intimidating mascot to make your decisions. Try to beat those odds with these March Madness technologies. Adobe’s Hack the Bracket What if there was a tool that could compare free-throw percentages or shot accuracy between opponents? Well, now there is! For the past two years, Adobe has offered its data analytics software with a simple-to-use system, Hack the Bracket. The program breaks down points, mistakes, fouls, win percentages, and other statistics into side-by-side comparisons. The software also calculates the percentage of a team winning or losing, giving users a closer look at the game.

burpee every time it runs away. Balance your bird on your shoulder while you squat and lunge. Mentally and physically stimulate your cat by dragging a string around your body during Russian twists. With a little creativity and a few of your pet’s favorite things, both of you can work up a sweat.

Keeping It Traditional If you want a good full-body workout while entertaining your pet, then consider including them in traditional exercises. Entertain your pup with a game of fetch and drop down for a


Google Cloud’s Student-Led Analytics It’s one thing to know the numbers; it’s a whole other ball game to understand what they mean. That’s where Google Cloud’s analytics team comes in to help. In 2018, Google partnered with the NCAA to offer live gameplay analysis, and in 2019, the tech giant hired more than 30

college students to contextualize the numbers throughout the tournament. Google’s steps for 2020 remain a mystery, but you can view past records and data at marchmadness. The NCAA’s Original Bracket Challenge In 1939, Oregon University became the first team to win March Madness, defeating Ohio State University 46-33 in an eight-team tournament. By 1985, the tournament had grown to 64 teams, and the bracket was born. With that kind of history, there’s no better place to create your bracket than with the hosts of spring’s best sporting event: the NCAA’s digital hub. offers you team analysis, real-time updates, and a home for your bracket. With an easy-to-use platform, you don’t have to be a college basketball expert or technology whiz to make your choices and follow your team all the way to the championship.

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3 ECO-FRIENDLY HOME SWAPS TO MAKE WHEN YOU DECLUTTER Your Guide to Spring- Greening It takes a special kind of person to enjoy spring-cleaning. For most of us, the satisfaction of a clean house doesn’t quite outweigh the hours of scrubbing, sorting, and slogging through heaps of unnecessary stuff. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to start your spring- cleaning, try flipping the paradigm: Instead of spring-cleaning, think of what you’re doing as spring- greening , and make some eco-friendly swaps along the way. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 1. Swap your plastic spray bottles for bulk or DIY cleaning products. According to a Statista report, in 2019, the household cleaners market was worth more than $31 billion, and it’s continuously growing. You can save money on cleaning supplies by taking the green route. When your current stock runs out, try buying bulk cleaners or making your own. Both options will save plastic because you can reuse your bottles, and they can help you avoid the harmful chemicals found in most cleaners. Visit and read the blog post “Zero If you’re used to using a plastic jug of liquid laundry detergent, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone. This spring, try exploring greener alternatives like plant-based bulk laundry powder (Molly’s Suds is an excellent source). Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even try adding all-natural cleaners like soap nuts or English ivy to your laundry loads. For more on the former, search “soap nuts” on, and read up on ivy detergent at 3. Say goodbye to paper towels. Paper towels are a mainstay in American homes, but do we really need them when a good old-fashioned rag can do the job? According to the Ocean Conservancy, 13 billion pounds of paper towels are tossed in the U.S. each year! This spring, quit paper towels and keep a stash of dish rags under the sink to do your dirty work. When you’re cleaning out your closet, you can even cut up old T-shirts and add them to your rag stash! If you’re brave, try giving up tissues, too — an old-school hanky does the trick. Waste Cleaning Supplies + Recipes” to get started. 2. Explore alternative laundry detergents.




Pesto Chicken With Blistered Tomatoes

Brighten up after a cold, dark winter with this fresh and flavorful springtime dish. INGREDIENTS

• •

2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, pounded to a 1-inch thickness Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted 6 tbsp spinach pesto 2 cups cherry tomatoes 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced 1 tsp red wine vinegar

• • • •

• • •


In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil. 2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add it to pan. Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side, then remove pan from heat. 3. In a bowl, combine panko, Parmesan cheese, and butter. 4. Spread pesto over chicken and top with panko mixture. 5. Broil chicken for 2 minutes on high heat until browned. 6. In a skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. 7. Add tomatoes and cook for 6 minutes. 8. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 9. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, and add red wine vinegar. 10. Serve tomatoes with broiled chicken.

If you’ve made all three of these swaps, don’t stop there! To continue your green journey, visit any of the blogs mentioned above and start browsing. | 3

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i H ow an OBD-II C an S ave Y ou H undreds on Y our C ar 1 G et F it W ith F ido M arch M adness T ech to M ake Y ou a P redicting G enius 2 3 E co -F riendly H ome S waps to M ake D uring S pring -C leaning P esto C hicken W ith B listered T omatoes 3 I nfluential F reedom of I nformation A ct L awsuits 4 The Freedom of Information Act, commonly referred to as FOIA, has been a crucial part of the democratic system for decades. It was designed to improve public access to governmental records, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work as intended. In most cases, requests are only answered if a lawsuit is filed. Nevertheless, FOIA has had a crucial role in many high-profile legal cases. Here are a couple of the most significant ones in American history. A Journalist’s 16 Years in Court California-based journalist Seth Rosenfeld has had some serious contention with the FBI. In 1985, he filed his first lawsuit against the FBI for ignoring his requests for information about the Berkeley protests of the 1960s. The case was eventually settled in 1996, and Rosenfeld was awarded $560,000 in fees. In their settlement agreement, the FBI agreed to be more thorough with FOIA requests.


Rosenfeld filed a second lawsuit in 2007 accusing the FBI of withholding information during former President Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Five years later, he was awarded $479,459 in attorney fees. Rosenfeld is known for having some of the longest-pending FOIA requests and has received over 300,000 pages of FBI documents since the 1980s. The SCOMM Scandal In a landmark FOIA settlement concluded in 2013, the federal government paid $1.2 million to settle a suit brought by several civil rights groups over the Secure Communities (SCOMM) Immigration and Customs Enforcement program. The litigation exposed a plan to create a multi-agency database focused on collecting DNA, a person’s gait, and iris scans. When evidence was uncovered during the litigation, governors of New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts tried to opt their states out of

the program, but the Department of Homeland Security determined SCOMMmandatory, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. The case also changed how the government is required to identify, collect, and produce data for all FOIA requests. Thanks to FOIA and these important cases, the people’s right to government information (and honesty) will continue to progress in America’s democracy.

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