Volunteering Abroad

While volunteering in your own neighborhood can do a lot to make it a better place to live, your neighborhood might already be a relatively great place to live. Maybe your passion for helping others could be used in another part of the world.

Volunteering abroad gives you a unique opportunity to travel to another part of the world and make a positive impact on the lives of people you would have never otherwise met. There are a lot of benefits to volunteering abroad, including:

  • Seeing a new culture from within
  • Living among locals in your host nation
  • Personal growth
  • Learning a new language
  • Helping people in need

Many non-profits as well as the U.S. government offer international volunteering opportunities. These opportunities typically charge for room and board, and do not include airfare in their prices. It is best to look at some of these opportunities as though they are vacations where you are volunteering part of the day and completely free the rest.

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Thinking about Building a Custom Pool? What You Should Know.

Custom pools can be much more expensive than your regular-shaped in-ground swimming pool, but there is no reason why you cannot control how much money you will fork out. The secret to good pool building is planning.

The first you need to plan for is the service providers. If you intend to build an awesome pool on your property, it is not advisable to get into DIY mode. Pool building is not as simple as it looks. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could make costly mistakes and you will end up having to redo everything from scratch. You need to employ professional custom pool builders to make sure everything goes, well, swimmingly.

Once you have seen the wisdom of turning it over to professionals, the next step in your pool building project is to get an architect to design and sketch it to scale. You can then get the total area, which will otherwise be difficult if you have an irregularly shaped, and get a rough estimate of the costs. The average cost for building an in-ground swimming pool using gunite is $50 per square foot, give or take $10, for example.

Show the sketch to different pool contractors and get estimates. Make sure the contractors you are considering have good reputations in the area. Ask neighbors with a pool about their contractor and narrow it down to three of the best ones with reasonable prices. Some pool contractors consider their work art, and may want to put in their own ideas. Listen but make sure you go with something you personally like. The artist-type also tends to charge more. Once you’ve chosen, quickly get a detailed written estimate of the work and cost.

Once you have the basic pool costs estimated, you can turn your attention to fencing and landscaping as well as other frills. Keep adding features until you wallet starts shrieking. Frills can easily double the cost of pool building. Finally, make sure you factor insurance payments into your budget, as adding a pool to your property can increase your legal liability in some instances, and as such, can affect homeowner’s insurance premiums.

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Refinery Accident Prevention Takes a Backseat

The oil and gas industries are hugely important businesses in the state of Texas, but unfortunately, refineries are inherently dangerous; the raw materials, processes and products come together to put workers at high risk all the time. Factor in the failure to comply with safety regulations in favor or productivity, and cutting corners in regular maintenance of aging machinery, and you have what can only describe as an explosive situation waiting to happen.

Texas is home to the largest refineries in the US, but size is not a major factor when it comes to the possibility a refinery accident. All refineries have the potential for serious accidents, and the workers are the first to feel it. But despite numerous incidents, big and small, that have happened in the last two decades, there has been no serious push-back from those slated to oversee and impose regulations on refineries.

Critics agree that a powerful lobby plus the almost constant demand for more end-products of refineries by a fuel-hungry population has muzzled regulatory bodies. Companies that have been brought up on charges for violations of safety regulations have managed to use the courts to delay any significant change in the status quo. This means that refinery workers have no choice but to hope and pray that the piece of equipment they are working on doesn’t decide that today is the day it will explode.

It is only when a serious refinery accident does happen, as in the case of the 2005 explosion at the BP refinery in Texas that took the lives of 15 people and injured 170 others, that people sit up and take notice. It resonates because it costs these refinery companies money. So if you or someone you know works in a refinery and suffers an injury because of unsafe working conditions, make sure that they hear your protest. Consult with a refinery accident lawyer and hit them as hard as possible where it hurts most: their pockets. Maybe then they will give more attention to protecting the people who work for them.

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Truck Accident Prevention and Hours of Service Regulations

Hours of Service (HOS) federal regulations that cover commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are designed to prevent fatigue-related truck accidents. A CMV is generally used for interstate commerce and satisfies any of the following:

  • More than 10,001 pounds
  • Weight rating of 10,001 or more
  • Transports 16 or more people without compensation
  • Transports 9 or more people with compensation
  • Transports hazardous materials in quantities requiring the use of placards

The newest version of HOS regulations was published on December 27, 2011 and was effective two months later on February 27, 2012. Full compliance is mandatory by July 1, 2013. The American Trucking Association has petitioned for a review of these rules before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The new rules include rules for the 34-hour restart, where drivers could clock in 70 hours per week after a 34-hour stretch off-duty. Two rest breaks of 30 minutes each are also mandated for night-driving (based on home terminal time) between 1 and 5 in the morning.

There are two categories for drivers under HOS regulations: property-carrying and passenger-carrying.

Property-carrying CMV

  • Maximum of 11 hours driving after 10 hours off-duty
  • Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming off duty
  • Maximum of 60 hours on duty in a 7-day period or 70 hours over 8 days
  • Sleeper berth equipped trucks: minimum of 8 hours in the berth within the 10-hour mandatory off duty

Passenger-carrying CMV

  • Maximum of 10 hours driving after 8 hours off-duty
  • Drivers may not drive beyond the 15th hour after coming off duty
  • Maximum of 60 hours on duty in a 7-day period or 70 hours over 8 days
  • Sleeper berth equipped trucks: may split the mandatory 8 hour off duty into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours

Civil penalties apply for CMV drivers who violate the prescribed time limits, or who fail to follow mandatory break periods. If it can be proven that a fatigue-related truck accident resulting in an injury occurred due to a violation of the HOS, the injured party may be eligible to file for compensation from the party responsible for their losses, whether that is the truck driver himself / herself, or the company that employs the driver.

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Online Forums and Nursing License Defense

The Internet is an extremely effective tool for discovering information, but there are limits to its usefulness. You don’t go online to have your appendix out; in the same way, you don’t get nursing license defense advice from an online forum, unless you don’t plan to practice nursing for much longer.

Being brought up on charges that could cost you your nursing license is a very serious matter indeed. You should not act precipitately based on advice you get on nursing chat rooms, boards or forums, no matter how persuasive or well-intentioned. Each disciplinary case is different, and the only legal advice you should take is that from a nursing license defense attorney who practices in your jurisdiction.

In Texas, the licensing organization is the Texas Board of Nursing (BON), and they have very specific rules for disciplining nurses in the state. No two disciplinary proceedings will go in exactly the same way, and the outcome depends largely on how the defense is handled, and how the board staffers (those who legally represent the interests and concerns of the BON) view a particular situation.

Complaints against a particular nurse can come from patients, relatives of patients, other nurses and co-workers, doctors, or employers. In many cases the defendant was innocent, made an honest mistake, failed to document properly, or was ignorant of some rules and regulations that led to the misconduct or violation. Unless the case is properly handled, what may be a dismissible case can lead to license revocation, suspension, or restriction which can have a serious negative impact on a nurse’s career.

This is a tragedy if the nurse in question is otherwise competent. In matters that involve one’s career or livelihood, it is never a good idea to be impulsive. Before you do anything decisive, such as voluntarily surrendering your license which can be difficult to reinstate afterwards, consult with a nursing license defense attorney. It may be the best move you will ever make in your professional career.

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