There’s More Than Oil in Texas

For more than a century, there’s been an assumption that there’s nothing more to Texas than cowboys and oil. If you asked the average person from outside the region what Texas stood for, it would be some combination of those two. The word Texas itself brings to mind vast oil fields, refineries, off-shore oil rigs, and of course, horse-riding, gun-loving cowboys.

The truth is, though, that Texas has a lot more to offer the business world than just oil. First of all, there are the other associated industries. Natural gas is quickly replacing oil in Texas as a major energy source, and one that causes less damage to the environment. There are also vast mineral deposits in the state, many still untapped.

Beyond energy and other resources, Texas is also a driving force behind the tech industry. While places like California’s Silicon Valley tend to get all the credit, Texas is also a state with a lot of technological know-how. In fact, Dell, a computer company everyone on the planet knows about, is based in Texas.

Texas has also been listed among the top states for innovation and entrepreneurs. The state has a thriving STEM program, some of the best colleges in the country, and a tax system that is designed to help future businesspeople thrive in a difficult economy.

Though it doesn’t get the credit that Florida, California, or Hawaii get, Texas also has a strong tourism industry. As the original home of Six Flags, the state knows how to build an amusement park, and with miles and miles of coasts, there are plenty of beaches to enjoy as well.

With a booming economy and an accompanying booming population growth, Texas obviously also has a lot of jobs for the construction industry. A massive state with lots of roads to maintain and lots of homes to build, Texas has a lot of need for construction.

Beyond all these industries, Texas also has several of the biggest cities in the country, all of which are flourishing. Whether it is Houston (the country’s fourth biggest city), Dallas, or crazy, artistic Austin, there are all kinds of interesting businesses popping up throughout the cities in the state.

With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Texas is the fastest growing state in the country. All of those residents know what the rest of the country ignores: Texas isn’t just a state for the oil industry or for cowboys. It’s a state that can accommodate any sort of dreamer or any sort of talent. It’s a state where brand new businesses open their doors every day, and many of the country’s best innovators are dreaming up the next great invention that will change humanity forever.

Oil is an important part of Texas’ past, but it’s been a long time since it was the central part of the state’s business. Nowadays, Texas concentrates on bringing in the best and the brightest to change not just the state, but the world.

America Is Riding Bikes Again

America is getting back on the bike. That’s what recent statistics suggest at least. In the last five years, the number of bicyclists in America has jumped from about 50 million to about 66 million. That’s an increase of about a third in just five years. What’s brought about this change?

There are likely a number of factors that have contributed to the increase in bicycling.

First, there is an economic incentive. Cities are becoming increasingly expensive to live in, and while the economy is improving, wages are not increasing at a comparable rate. One way to make ends meet in a city would be to ride a bike.

And that option has become easier in recent years because more cities are making big efforts to make their streets bicycle friendly. With more bike lanes, more pathways through parks, and more places to rent and store bikes, the biking option has become much more attractive.

Cities are going this route because bicycles are great for their streets and their air. More bikes mean fewer cars, which keeps the air cleaner and reduces traffic.

A final potential reason could be increasing awareness of global warming and a desire in some areas to make some reduction in pollution, both on an individual and city level. While much of the country continues to debate the issue of global warming, cities tend to be unequivocally in favor of doing more to stop warming effects. This, obviously, transfers to the beliefs of the citizens. Biking is an easy way to get a “win” on this issue for all involved.

While much in the culture has changed to increase the use of bikes, it will be interesting to see whether the trend continues.

For instance, will people continue to bike if wages begin to rise faster or (less likely) rent begins to go down in big cities?

Or, will cities develop even more infrastructure for bikes (such as indoor lanes during inclement weather) to further increase the use of the vehicles, particularly in winter.

It will also be interesting to see whether there is an increase in the number of bicycle accidents that compares with the number of riders. Theoretically, there should be about an equal growth in accidents, but with better infrastructure in place, the statistics may not show this.

A further point, it is not clear whether this will be a fad, or whether the newer technology will change this dynamic. As cars become more energy efficient, for instance, there may be less of a pull on the climate issue. Should the electric car become more affordable, will as many people choose to bike?

With so little data, there are still many questions to answer. For now, though, the one thing that is clear is that America is riding bikes again, and for the most part, that seems to be a positive on many levels. 

The Dangerous Slippery Sidewalks of the University of Minnesota

One of the inherent dangers of working late is not being able to see where you’re walking when heading home after a long shift. This is especially true whenever inclement weather is a factor in one’s journey home. Non-ideal conditions and a dark night never made a good combination and can often lead to injury. When most people think of worker’s compensation, they think that the injury has to be incurred at work to count. However, if somebody experiences an injury to or from work are they still under the umbrella of liability?

This is essentially the situation surrounding a painter employed at the University of Minnesota. Josephine Hohlt was leaving her work early one December night in 2013, citing bad weather as her reasoning. She ended up breaking her hip after slipping and falling on the icy sidewalk on her short walk back to where her car was parked in the garage. She was unable to work for a full year and had many fees in hospital visits and bills to account for. Her case went all the way up to the State of Minnesota Supreme Court.The University fought desperately against the court’s ruling citing that there was nothing differentiating her from any other student that would have been walking that night. Here we can already guess the verdict since the University is basically taking the side of their nefarious sidewalks and throwing their students out in the cold. Justice Lillehaug countered the University’s assertion by stating that Hohlt was put in harm’s way not as an average citizen walking through the campus at night but as a painter leaving the premises of her employer. Ultimately the supreme court came to the conclusion that Hohlt’s injuries sustained as a result of walking home from work fell under the University’s liability to compensation. By concluding this ruling, the court essentially expanded the liability of workers compensation greatly. Much in favor of employees.

Agreeing fully with the court’s ruling I believe that Josephine deserves full financial compensation for her medical bills and incurred pain and suffering. The worker’s compensation attorneys at Robert Wilson & Associates believe that no employee should have to financial suffer from any burden obtained as a cause of going to work. This expansion of workers compensation has been desperately needed. Companies need to realize that they can’t just overwork their employees or work them into dangerous situations. Or at least, if they do put their work them into dark hours or unsafe conditions that they need to be held responsible for the consequences.

Having to make your employees work late on nights of inclement weather is putting their health and safety at risk. It is always unfortunate that good people have to get seriously hurt or injured for laws to change for the better. Thankfully Josephine Hohlt will be taken care of but the pain and suffering from her broken hip will follow her around for years to come.

Patents and Intellectual Property

Do you have a novel idea or invention? If so, you might consider trying to patent the idea in case you ever want to make money from the profits it accrues. There are many nuances and challenges when it comes to patent and intellectual property law. In hopes of making this process a little clearer, I have written this article. Throughout, we will explore the purpose of patent law, the process of obtaining a patent, and finally some of the implications that can accompany a patent. Please note that this article is by no means exhaustive and to make any fully informed decisions, you should seek the advice of a professional IP attorney.

Is my idea patentable?

First and foremost, you must have an idea that is original and has not already been patented. You couldn’t, for example, patent a microwave since it has already been invented and patented. There have been some cases of people “inventing” things that have actually already been invented or natural processes that can be considered the property of everyone. In these cases, the specifics would typically be determined in a court of law and, usually, only if someone sues. It is hard to know if an idea has already been used or if it is distinct enough from similar ideas that it can rightfully be considered “new.” For this reason, the United States Patent and Trademark Office was created to consider patent proposals and legally grant rights to people deserving of proprietary benefits. If you are unsure that your idea is patentable, the next step would be to ask an attorney or the Patent and Trademark Office.

My idea is patentable! How do I patent it?

If you have an original, patentable idea, the next step is to apply for a patent. The patent process includes an application. First, you will need to determine which kind of patent your idea needs. There are three categories of patients; Utility, Design, and Plant. Utility patents are granted to novel ideas or machines. Design patents are granted to novel design modifications to existing process or machines. Plant patents are granted to people who discover or “invent” a new plant or genetically engineer one. After you determine the type of patent you want, you will need to complete an application. This usually consists of general paperwork with as much relevant information to your idea and why it should be considered new. For an effective application, you will generally want to include schematics, technical explanations of processes, etc. More is better. It is also important to know that there are usually pretty hefty application fees and the application process is rigorous. You should be relatively certain of success if you wish to pursue a patent. For more help with the application process, you might consider hiring a Dallas Intellectual Property attorney who can guide you through the steps and help you overcome any challenges you might encounter on the way. Good luck!

Social Security

Being unable to work is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. Lost wages lead to debt, which lead to stress, which adds to a worsening health condition that put the victim in this position in the first place. The victim needs time to heal and recover, so during that time, they need their social security disability compensation to cover their cost of living. Unfortunately, the process to get the benefits owed to the victim can be lengthy and complicated. In fact, nearly 7 out of every 10 of these claims are denied.

What can help in this time is expert legal advice. Getting a trained attorney, such as the Indianapolis Social Security lawyers at the Hankey Law Office, in the first place can help avoid all the extra paperwork of getting an appeal for the claim. They can help with social security:

  • Disability insurance
  • Supplemental income
  • Claim filing
  • Claim appeal
  • Representation

Since so many claims are denied, it is important to make sure all information is accurate and up to date for the first filing. If the claim is still denied, an expert legal team is exactly what could help make a difference in the appeal process. The victim should not have to go through the added stress of learning the entire legal process while they try to regain their health.

The victim has a claim to their proper compensation in the case they are disabled and unable to work for some time, getting expert legal help is crucial to keeping their mind focused on recovery.

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