10 Things You Didn’t Know About NASCAR Pit Crews

Pit crews are instrumental parts of the NASCAR team. Functioning in the pit and behind the scenes, each member plays an important part in ensuring the car reaches the finish line. A well-oiled machine can consistently push a driver to the front of the race, but poor teamwork can break him when he's running neck and neck with his opponents. The following interesting facts are both fun and surprising for those who've never really paid close attention to the stuff that happens off the track.

  1. Pit crew routines are not regulated by NASCAR

    Although each crew essentially does the same routine, making a few minor changes of their own, they're not required by NASCAR to conduct the same sequence of actions. Because they don't have time to perform major work, strategy revolves around fueling and tire changes — the latter involves determining whether all four tires should be changed, or just the outside tires, which bear the most weight and pressure.

  2. Crew members use liberal amounts of duct tape

    The pros are always looking for a quick fix. During a race, a pit crew will use the strong, versatile tape to adjust body panels, hold parts together, fix hoses and hanging wires, and merely to mark where the jack post, left-front tire, and sign board will be located after the car hits the pit. It's such an important tool for the crew that it has earned its own nickname — "200 mph tape."

  3. Crew members pound their cars with baseball bats and hammers

    Another seemingly primitive way pit crews adjust their cars during races is to make use of baseball bats and hammers, pounding their uber-expensive machines when the situation calls for it. A misshapen body can affect how a car performs, causing it to fail to generate a sufficient amount of down force. With little time to spare, the strongest, quickest-swinging crew members take their best shots at the problem areas, impersonating their favorite baseball sluggers.

  4. Crew members love piano bars

    A heavily damaged car that's difficult to lift needs more than just the jack man. Instead, piano bars — long, sturdy bars; not the bar you visited during your last hotel stay — provide leverage for the crew to get the car off the ground so the members can do their work. Like duct tape and baseball bats, it's a simple tool with plenty of might.

  5. Crew members exhibit higher heart rates on asphalt tracks than concrete tracks

    Given the demands that come with being a member of a pit crew, it shouldn't come as a surprise that dealing with stress is a part of the job. But, as with any job, levels of stress can vary depending on the setting and the problems it presents. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, members exhibit higher heart rates on asphalt tracks than concrete tracks. This may have to do with the heat of the tracks caused by the blacktop surface.

  6. Crew members can earn close to six-figure salaries

    Of course, pay varies by position and responsibility. For example, Jason Myers, the car chief for Carl Edwards until his termination in 2009, earned $140,000 in 2008 not including bonuses and other compensation. He was second-in-command to the crew chief, who boasted a salary of $500,000. Guys in lower positions but with lots of responsibility — such as those who work in the shop, travel to the races, and work on Sundays — can earn in the neighborhood of $75,000.

  7. Crew members may frequently change teams

    A pit crew change for the second consecutive season enabled Kevin Harvick to take the lead in this year's Chase. Out of the running, Clint Boyer, a Richard Childress Racing teammate, lent his crew to give Harvick a boost for the stretch run. An efficient crew can make all the difference in the world, which is why of the best crew members in the biz are highly recruited by opposing teams. Essentially, they can play the field, seeking the best possible offer.

  8. It's a year-round job

    Like modern athletes, pit crew members train year-round, sparing just a couple of weeks for rest in December. Beginning in January, they practice pit stops before the start of the season, and then take it up a notch during the season, practicing two times per week and working out rigorously. It's a constant battle to improve their efficiency so they can reduce pit stop times.

  9. Many pit crew members are former athletes

    In recent years, NASCAR pit crews have emphasized athleticism to meet the physical demands of pit stops. As every aspect of the sport has become more competitive, shorter pit times have become essential for crews, so meticulously crafted routines have become the norm. Tony Stewart, for example, employs Mike Casto, a former wide receiver from Glenville State College. Mark Martin employs Aaron Walker, who spent five seasons in the NFL. It's a great way for ex-athletes to stay in a competitive field and utilize their physical strengths.

  10. Pit crews have their own all-star event

    Held annually in Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena, the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge is a competition featuring seven pit crew members from each team. When given a signal, each team lifts the car, changes the tires, unloads 18 gallons of water substituting as fuel into a fuel tank, and upon approval from NASCAR, pushes the car 40 yards to finish the sequence. If "fuel" is spilled, too much "fuel" is left in the dump can, a jack isn't raised high enough, or lug nuts are improperly tightened, then penalties are given. Through the years, the notable pit crews of Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, and Dale Earnhardt have won multiple times.

10 Most Mysterious Celebrity Deaths

When a celebrity dies, the whole world takes notice. Police officers work diligently to get answers and the media goes into overdrive. But just like the people that die every day, there are sometimes holes in the story of how a celebrity died. The recent reopening of Natalie Wood's case brings to mind the dozens of mysterious celebrity deaths that have gone unsolved or should be revisited. Here are 10 celebrity deaths surrounded by mystery.

  1. Marilyn Monroe

    The tragic death of Marilyn Monroe has led many to wonder if it was in fact a suicide, or if it was actually a murder. On Aug. 5, 1962, Monroe was found dead in her home after allegedly overdosing on barbiturates. Although the coroner's report called Monroe's death a probable suicide, many people still believe she was murdered. At the time of her death, the 36-year-old starlet was allegedly involved with John F. Kennedy and possibly his brother, Robert, which has led to various conspiracy theories about her mysterious death. Others believe it could have been the work of the CIA or mafia.

  2. Notorious B.I.G.

    The death of rap legend Notorious B.I.G. has continued to mystify those investigating the 14-year-old murder case. On March 9, 1997, Notorious B.I.G. and his entourage attended an after party following the Soul Train Awards. After leaving the party, a black Chevrolet Impala SS pulled alongside Notorious B.I.G.'s GMC Suburban and its lone driver fired at the men. The man shot Biggie four times in the chest and the rapper was pronounced dead shortly after the incident. The murder remains unsolved, but there are many theories as to what happened to Biggie that dark night. Many believe it was an act of the West Coast rap rivals, while others suggest corrupt LA police officers were behind the shooting.

  3. George Reeves

    The mysterious death of TV's Superman, George Reeves, has caused a great deal of debate over the events of June 16, 1959. After a night of dinner and drinks with friends, Reeves was found lying naked on his bed with a gun between his feet. His house guests made a delayed call to the police and were unable to give officers clear or coherent witness accounts of the night. Police labeled Reeves' death a suicide. Reeves' fiancé, Leonore Lemmon, said he was depressed from his "failed career." Some have attributed his alleged suicide to being type-casted as Superman and not being able to find new work because of his well-known role.

  4. Tupac

    The unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur has remained a subject of controversy over who killed the rap artist and why. On the night of Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur was shot multiple times by drive-by shooters in a white, late-model Cadillac. Shakur was taken to a Las Vegas hospital, where he was sedated and placed on life support machines. Shakur remained in the trauma center for six days and died of internal bleeding on Sept. 13, 1996. Several theories surfaced about who was responsible for Tupac's death. Rival East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G., Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, and the Southside Crips have been linked to the attack. Tupac's killer or killers have yet to be found and the case remains unsolved.

  5. Brittany Murphy

    On Dec. 20, 2009, actress Brittany Murphy collapsed and died from a combination of multiple drug intoxication, pneumonia, and an iron deficiency. At the time of Murphy's death, the 32-year-old was battling laryngitis and flu-like symptoms and was taking a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medications, including an antibiotic, cough medicine, and several prescription pain killers. Although the death was ruled as an accident, many questioned the cause of her death and if her husband was somehow involved. Adding to the mystery of Murphy's death, her husband, Simon Monjack, died five months later from natural causes. The English screenwriter also apparently suffered acute pneumonia and severe anemia. Theories circulated about other possible causes of the deaths, including toxic mold in their house, which was vehemently dismissed by the coroner and her mother.

  6. Bob Crane

    The unsolved murder of Bob Crane, the star of Hogan's Heroes, has left many wondering who was actually responsible for the brutal killing. While working on his play, Beginner's Luck, in Scottsdale, Ariz., Crane was found bludgeoned to death with what was believed to be a camera tripod. A day before his death, Crane allegedly called John Henry Carpenter to end their friendship following an argument they had in person. Carpenter was an electronics salesman who videotaped Crane's sexual escapades with women. Carpenter was the accused murderer, but his name was cleared due to insufficient evidence.

  7. Elizabeth Short

    The unsolved murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short has sparked an enormous amount of interest in her life and subsequent death. On Jan. 15, 1947, Short was gruesomely murdered, stripped naked, mutilated, and severed into two pieces. The incident became known as the Black Dahlia murder. The public was fascinated by the murder and detectives were on a mission to find her killer. The alleged killer sent some of Short's belongings to the editor of the Los Angeles Examiner, and wrote letters to the newsroom calling himself the "Black Dahlia Avenger." Although more than 50 men and women have confessed to Short's murder, the murderer has not yet been caught.

  8. Bruce Lee

    The death of martial arts movie icon Bruce Lee shocked the world and left the public with many questions surrounding his untimely demise. On July 20, 1973, Lee was found unconscious and later pronounced dead after allegedly experiencing an allergic reaction to the prescription painkiller Equagesic, which was given to him by his colleague Betty Ting Pei. The coroner's report ruled "death by misadventure." A few months before his death, Lee suffered from seizures and headaches and was diagnosed with cerebral edema. Lee experienced the same symptoms on the day of his death, which has fueled differing views of why he died. Some of the popular theories about Lee's death include that it was a murder involving the triads, and someone was out to curse him and his family. Others believe it was a delayed reaction from a deadly fighting strike.

  9. David Carradine

    Kung Fu star David Carradine was found naked and dead in his Bangkok hotel suite on June 3, 2009. The 72-year-old's body was hanging by a rope in the closet of his hotel. His wrists, neck, and genitals had been tied up, leading the media to point to suicide or an accident during autoerotic asphyxiation. Some of Carradine's ex-wives confirmed that the actor liked to engage in dangerous self-bondage and sexually deviant behavior. Autopsies concluded that Carradine did not commit suicide and asphyxiation was the likely cause of death. Although some still speculate that Carradine committed suicide or was murdered, the investigators did not find enough evidence to back these theories.

  10. Thelma Todd

    On Dec. 16, 1935, movie star Thelma Todd was found dead in her parked car in actress Jewel Carmen's garage. Carmen was the former wife of Todd's lover. The cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, but was it suicide or murder? Todd had blood on her head and dress, which indicated that she may have been knocked unconscious before being poisoned, while others believed she was targeted for extortion and decided to end her own life. Two years later, Todd's ex-husband was murdered and the mystery continues.

12 Turkey-Less Thanksgiving Meals Everyone Will Love

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner is centered on the almighty turkey and the sides that complement it nicely. Although the turkey has an important role in American heritage and Thanksgiving celebrations, there is no reason why we can't spread our wings and try other main dishes this year. There are plenty of tasty alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Whether you decide to go meatier or meatless, one thing's for sure: No one will miss that bird. Check out these 12 turkey-less Thanksgiving meals everyone will love:

  1. Cranberry-stuffed Cornish game hens

    This Thanksgiving, hold the turkey and opt for the incredibly elegant and delicious Cornish game hens. This mouthwatering recipe uses cranberries, shiitake mushrooms, and zesty herbs to bring out the rich flavors of this delicate chicken.

  2. Vegan vegetable spread

    Believe it or not, not all vegan Thanksgivings are bland. This chef's heart-healthy harvest-stuffed Portobello mushrooms and maple-roasted Brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts sure beat tasteless tofurkeys and other vegan meatless products. And best of all, these easy dishes can be prepared all year long.

  3. Roast leg of lamb with rosemary

    Roast leg of lamb is a delightful holiday dish that can easily make its way into your Thanksgiving lineup. This zesty version should be marinated overnight to absorb all of the rich flavors and keep it moist. Be prepared to share this popular recipe with others!

  4. Butternut squash lasagna

    If you're looking for a tasty and healthy alternative to turkey, consider making butternut squash lasagna on Thanksgiving. This delectable dish is packed with nutrient-rich butternut squash and topped with mozzarella cheese, making it a favorite among adults and kids.

  5. Honey-mustard pork roast with bacon

    Pork roast is a favorite around Christmas, so why not give it a whirl this Thanksgiving? Better yet, try this scrumptious honey-mustard pork roast topped with bacon to satisfy the carnivores. Your taste buds won't know what hit them!

  6. Cola-basted ham

    If you're more of a ham fan, then you'll definitely want to try out this savory and sweet ham dish by Paula Deen. Doused in cola and brown sugar and topped with pineapples and cherries, this decadent ham is a sweet-toothed carnivore's dream.

  7. Perfect roast beef

    Jamie Oliver's perfect roast beef is a hearty dish that really lives up to its name. Seasoned to perfection and roasted in a medley of onions, carrots, celery stalks, and garlic, this roast beef is a zesty dish that can be made for Thanksgiving and all of your holiday get-togethers.

  8. Roasted salmon with cranberry-mustard sauce

    Salmon has become a fan-favorite among Thanksgiving turkey replacers, and this particular recipe really aims to please. The flavorful combination of sweet cranberry and salty Dijon mustard keeps the salmon moist and incredibly delicious.

  9. Coriander-crusted duck

    Spice up Thanksgiving with this savory coriander-crusted duck recipe that is sure to impress the guests. After one bite of this robustly flavored duck, your family will forget all about the tired, old turkey.

  10. Prime rib and oven-roasted potatoes

    If you want to upgrade from traditional turkey, you can't go wrong with a delicious prime rib like the one listed here. Seasoned to perfection and paired with potatoes, this flavorful prime rib recipe will make your Thanksgiving dinner a memorable one for the whole family.

  11. Steaks

    If your Thanksgiving party is small and your budget is flexible, why not turn your dining room into a five-star steakhouse? Steaks are simple to cook and loved by many people. You can really take it up a notch and get fancy with filet mignon, as recommended by this Food Network recipe.

  12. Garlic-schmeared rosemary roast chicken

    If you're tired of turkey, shake things up with this delicious garlic-schmeared rosemary roast chicken recipe from Chef Emeril Lagasse. The rich flavors of garlic, rosemary and freshly ground black pepper will satisfy the taste buds and have your guests asking for seconds.

Just in Time for Twilight: 10 Movies With Monstrous Pregnancies

With the latest installment of the Twilight franchise out in theaters, not only are viewers given another dose of the sickeningly romantic (and bizarre) relationship between Edward and Bella, but also a healthy amount of birth control as Bella gets pregnant with a monster baby. The miracle of life is said to be a beautiful thing, but when a pregnant woman is carrying a non-human child, birth is typically a lot more grotesque. If you're thinking of having a kid anytime in the foreseeable future, skip these movies involving murderous, mutant infants and seriously traumatizing births.

  1. Twilight: Breaking Dawn

    Though the Twilight saga is drawing to a close with part one of the last novel in theaters, it's not lacking any of the drama audiences (made up of swooning girls) have come to know and love. After Bella and Edward get married, she becomes pregnant with his child — but when the pregnancy starts going at a freaky fast pace, they are afraid she's going to have a scary demon baby. Even Edward, a bit of a weirdo himself, wants to end the pregnancy. What they end up with is a half-human, half-vampire child that makes a mess of Bella's insides, nearly killing her. If any fans were still dreaming of getting it on with Edward (or any vampire, for that matter), this violent birth will make them think twice.

  2. Rosemary's Baby

    It's scary enough to find out you're pregnant, but when you were only semi-conscious for the baby's conception and thought you experienced a demon having sex with you, there's a good chance that your pregnancy is going to be horrifying. Rosemary just wants a normal child with her previously normal husband, but she begins to suspect he has made some sort of agreement with her strange neighbors. She has an awful pregnancy, with terrible stomach pains, weight loss, and bizarre cravings. Rosemary eventually discovers that her whole apartment building is part of a witch's coven and her son is actually the offspring of Satan. Every mother's dream.

  3. The Brood

    This seriously disturbing Canadian horror flick doesn't deal with conventional pregnancy, but a mentally ill woman does produce the creepiest, murderous offspring you'll ever see. After undergoing untraditional therapy in which patients' psychological issues manifest themselves in a physical way on their bodies, this woman starts producing children that kill people the "mother" doesn't like. Small, toothless, dwarf-like kids are born through disgusting external wombs that grow on the woman, and their psychic connection to her lets them know who to destroy. You might need therapy after watching this movie, but make sure to avoid the kind this lady got.

  4. Inseminoid

    As you might guess from the title, the whole plot of this British sci-fi/horror film revolves around a pregnancy. A team of scientists travels to a distant planet to research an ancient civilization that once lived there. An alien creature rapes and impregnates one member of the team, Sandy, who has now been given superhuman strength and is somehow controlled by the alien civilization. She goes on a rampage, savagely murdering the members of her team. After her mutant twins are born, Sandy loses her power and is killed, but that doesn't stop her half-alien babies from chomping on the necks of her remaining human friends. Their mother would've been so proud.

  5. Howling III: The Marsupials

    Australians apparently have a completely different set of fears to play on than Americans, but that doesn't make this film's pregnancy any less troubling. The movie's Australian clan of werewolves is somehow related to the now-extinct carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian tiger, which was a large dog-like animal that had a pouch like a kangaroo or koala. When a werewolf woman and a human dude fall in love, she gives birth to a marsupial werewolf baby. To help it crawl up into her pouch, she makes a pathway on her fur out of spit across her furry belly to the pouch opening. Though she's not technically a human giving birth to a monster, this pregnancy is repulsive enough to qualify for this list.

  6. Dawn of the Dead

    In the 2004 remake of this film, the director deviates from the original in a few ways. While the situation is basically the same as the 1978 movie (you know, zombies taking over civilization and all), the characters are different and you can't guess their fates just from seeing the original. In the new version, a man and his very pregnant wife, Luda, are among the people seeking refuge from the undead in a mall. Luda received a zombie bite as they fought their way into the shopping center, and it starts to take effect as she goes into labor. She dies before the baby is born, but in true zombie-mom style, comes back and finishes the delivery. Did you know that a baby born to a zombie is also a zombie? This poor child didn't have a chance; in the world of the undead, the living aren't taking any chances even on adorable baby zombies.

  7. It's Alive

    Most couples are proud of the babies they bring into this world, but this movie features a man who fears he has created a monster, much like Dr. Frankenstein. You'd probably think the same if your child emerged from the womb with fangs and claws. Imagine the inside of that poor woman's uterus! When a doctor tries to suffocate the newborn, the baby goes on a killing spree, mutilating the doctors, nurses, and everyone he meets on the way to his house. The kid's father completely disowns him and joins in the effort to find and destroy the infant. A pharmaceutical executive reveals that the baby's mutation was caused by a prescription drug given to the mother — just another reason to say "no" to drugs.

  8. Species II

    In the first installment of Species, a female alien walks around topless for 90 minutes in her quest to mate with a genetically adequate human in order to create a new, unbeatable race. The second movie, however, features an astronaut infected by alien DNA who wreaks havoc on the reproductive systems of unsuspecting human females. Against the orders of his earthly superiors, he has sex with lots of women immediately after returning to Earth. These unlucky ladies get pregnant with rapidly growing alien babies who are born by splitting the mother's stomach open, killing them. The little monsters are kept in a shed until they can cocoon and emerge as full-grown alien people. Hopefully, this isn't what the future looks like.

  9. Slither

    This horror-comedy is supposed to be a little bit stupid and weird, and it succeeds on both counts. A man in a small town is taken over by a slug-like alien overlord, and he creates thousands of creepy-crawly babies that find townspeople to use as their puppets. The production of the offspring is among the most disturbing parts of the movie. The now-overlord, Grant, rapes a woman he had met at a bar (before stupidly getting shot by the infectious alien dart) and she becomes a meat-craving ball of flesh. Picture the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka, but 100 times bigger and more disturbing. After growing to the size of a barn, her skin splits open and hundreds of the alien leech creatures spill out. In this film, men can also become impregnated with the slithering beings, but the audience luckily doesn't have to endure another side-splitting birth scene.

  10. Alien

    The scenes from this movie are probably what haunt astronauts' nightmares. Some space workers who are towing a refinery back to Earth stop in on an alien planet, where one guy gets a weird creature stuck to his face. For some reason, his companions bring him back to the ship and their fellow crew members let them inside, even though the guy's unconscious and toting a potentially dangerous life form on his head. Later when the guy appears to be better, an alien bursts out of his chest, killing him, and escapes into the ship. This is definitely far from your traditional pregnancy, but that's what makes alien births so frightening; you never know how they're going to happen. If this scene's too scary for you, you could always try the more entertaining version in Spaceballs where the alien does a darling song and dance after emerging.

Why Are Legal Fees So High

In the United States, it is considered illegal to practice law without having the proper license. The laws governing what constitutes the practice of law, and thus what requires a license, varies by state. While the laws may vary, it is generally understood that practicing law involves one individual representing another in a legal matter, with some form of compensation exchanged.

For example, Tom's neighbor accidentally damages Tom's fence, but refuses to pay for the damages. John, another neighbor, offers to file a civil lawsuit on Tom's behalf and represent him in court. In exchange for doing this, Tom pays John $100. Unless John has a license to practice law in that state, he would be guilty of the unauthorized practice of law. Depending on the state, John may be subject to criminal charges, fines, even imprisonment if he fraudulently presented himself as a licensed lawyer.

Are We Really Protecting Consumers or Lawyers?

Attorneys argue that requiring licensure for all lawyers acts to protect consumers. Most states require an appropriate legal education, as well as admission to the American Bar Association, in order for individuals to obtain a law license. Attorneys argue that this protects consumers from inept or uneducated legal representation. Unfortunately, that also means that consumers must pay for the added expense of the lawyer's initial education, malpractice insurance and ongoing educational requirements. Since law firms cannot hire an attorney unless the attorney is licensed, this also limits competition regarding the legal fees charged to consumers. Admission to the bar does not, however, guarantee quality representation.

Consider the example of Kathleen Sullivan, once the dean of Stanford Law School and a graduate of Harvard Law School. Sullivan was once a professor of law at Harvard, publishing numerous articles on constitutional law in various American legal journals. In fact, the National Law Journal named her as one of the top 100 most influential attorneys in America. Even with her years of legal experience, knowledge of constitutional law, and status as dean of a major American law school, Sullivan failed the California bar exam in 2005, making her ineligible for a law license until she passed the test.

By their very nature, the bar exam and similar licensure requirements are meant to weed out a certain percentage of candidates. In limiting the number of candidates available from whom consumers can choose, practicing attorneys can charge more for their services. Demand remains constant, yet supply remains limited, allowing for increased prices. Unfortunately, limiting candidates does not necessarily mean that the quality of legal representation improves, as evident by Sullivan's example. It only means that competition is limited. Licensing requirements create barriers to entry, so fewer candidates make it into the legal profession. Adopting a free market approach could change that, and subsequently, how much lawyers charge.

What Would Happen if Legal Representation Became a Free Market?

Free markets allow for open competition. A car mechanic, for example, does not have to be ASE certified in order to repair someone's car. As such, the number of mechanics who can enter the marketplace equals what the market can support. Too many mechanics mean not enough business and someone will likely close up shop. Not enough mechanics creates an increase in demand, which attracts more mechanics. Competition, the cornerstone of a free market, means that each mechanic has the same opportunity to attract business, but must moderate their fees to maintain an appropriate market share. If one mechanic charges far more than others in the area, he or she will lose business to the less costly shops. Since no license or certification is required, new mechanics can more easily enter the marketplace to help maintain an appropriate level of competition.

Lifting the restriction on practicing law could have the same effect on legal fees. Fewer restrictions make entry into any industry easier. Less restrictive barriers to entry mean an increase in the number of professionals from whom consumers can choose. More choices encourage competition, whether those choices are for auto mechanics or attorneys. In a highly competitive market, the fees charged have to stay within market tolerance; otherwise, consumers will shop elsewhere to save money.

What About the Problem of Inept Representation?

Ineptitude is not necessarily prevented by requiring licensure, as evident by Kathleen Sullivan's failure of the California bar exam. Other notable legal minds have likewise failed the bar exam on more than one occasion. For example, Franklin Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton both failed the bar exam. Even Jerry Brown, Attorney General for the state of California, initially failed the bar exam. Failure to pass the bar and obtain a law license does not mean an individual is not capable of good legal representation. Alternatively, passing the bar and gaining licensure does not guarantee good representation.

Just like a bad mechanic will eventually have to improve or close up shop, bad legal representatives would eventually be weeded out of the industry. Just as legal fees and other monies paid for products or professional services would have to stay competitive, so would the quality of a lawyer's services. After all, when there is increased competition in the marketplace, price is not the only competitive advantage. If given enough choices, consumers consider not only the cost, but what they get in return for their money. By default, quality lawyers who offered good legal representation in a free market would naturally retain a higher percentage of the market share. If they failed to maintain quality standards, consumers could simply go elsewhere.

What Students Need to Know about Financial Aid

By: Madeline Sanders

A college education can be expensive, but it is certainly not out of financial reach for anyone. There are a tremendous number of resources available to students that can help to relieve some of the financial stress involved with completing a college education. The first step to pursuing financial aid to help pay for your college is evaluating your individual situation and educating yourself on the options you have.

Begin by familiarizing yourself with the different types of financial assistance that exist. There are two basic categories of financial aid: gift aid, which comes in the form of scholarships and grants, and self-help aid, which comes in the form of student loans and work-study programs. Some financial aid is provided by the federal government and other financial aid is provided by the school. It is common for students to utilize both federal and school aid. You must educate yourself on financial aid before you can determine whether it is right for you.

The next step in the process is to do the math. You need to figure out approximately how much your education will cost before you can be sure whether you want to take on financial aid. There are several tools online to help you determine how much your college education will cost, but all of it depends on the individual school you choose to attend. Next, determine how much money you will have to spend on your education during the time you are in college. Once you calculate these two numbers subtract the cost of your college education from the amount of money you have to spend on it. This end number will be roughly the amount of financial aid you will need.

If you have decided that financial aid for your college education is something you would like to pursue, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is also used by the college you select to determine what financial aid they will offer you. So, even if you do not wish to utilize financial aid through the federal government, you will still have to complete the FAFSA. After your FAFSA is competed the government and the school you decide to go to can offer you financial aid. You may choose to accept or deny any or all of the offer as you deem necessary.

Financial aid can be a great option for students who are concerned about the cost of a college education. Understanding that you have multiple options for aid is essential when you are considering taking on the investment of college tuition. Educate yourself on the many options available to you and remember that going to college doesn't have to mean taking on insurmountable debt.

Mental Health Crisis: Tips for Coping Until Help Arrives

Mental health issues create a great many challenges for the person suffering from a particular condition. Family and other loved ones, unfortunately, must also face numerous challenges when dealing with the myriad of symptoms, behaviors and day-to-day struggles of a personal with a mental illness. One of most difficult and stressful challenges for friends and family is dealing with a loved one in the grips of a mental health crisis. Depending on the type of mental illness, a mental health crisis can range from simply acting out in public to more severe, risky or truly dangerous behaviors.

When a loved one is exhibiting dangerous or threatening behaviors, the situation is more than just difficult for family or other loved ones. Emergency situations involving self-harm, threats against or potential injury to others, extreme distress, suicidal ideation, or hallucinations require immediate assistance from trained professionals. A study released in 2007 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that slightly more than ten percent of adults experience some form of mental health crisis. Unfortunately, less than half of those adults get medical or psychiatric assistance. That leaves friends and families with the burden of helping their loved ones get through a crisis.

Since few families or loved ones are equipped with an in-house psychiatric professional, most must call for emergency assistance when a crisis gets out of hand. The problem for many is figuring out when a crisis warrants seeking help. Unfortunately, for others the problem is managing a crisis until help arrives. The frustration for most friends and loved ones lies in finding the balance between calming a crisis to keep everyone safe, while still getting professionals to see the seriousness of the person's problems.

Often, friends and family simply do not know how to respond to someone who becomes a threat to themselves or others. For close friends or family with prior experience, it may be possible to detect potential problems and de-escalate the situation before it reaches a critical or dangerous level. Those without prior experience, however, seldom know how to identify a problem before it reaches a level that requires emergency attention. Even friends and family with experience can easily be caught off guard with a mental health crisis, as warning signs are not always evident.

 
Responders

Responding to a psychiatric crisis is truly situational. What might be the correct response for one individual may not be appropriate for another. Likewise, what works for the individual in one instance might not have the same effect the next time a crisis arises. As such, friends and family should have something of a toolbox of approaches for dealing with break downs. Having multiple options and plans in place can help eliminate some of the stress and anxiety associated with helping a person in crisis. Developing a plan should include choices that are not only appropriate for the individual's condition, but that also consider the patient's age and cognitive abilities.

For example, children experiencing a psychiatric crisis have slightly different needs than an adult in crisis. Parents can help their child and other family members get through the crisis by first recognizing, and then avoiding triggers. Triggers are those environments, situations or stressors that are known to exacerbate the child's condition. Having knowledge of those triggers can help prevent or de-escalate a crisis, before it reaches the point of needing emergency help. If the situation does reach critical mass, parents do have options for helping their child until emergency assistance arrives. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, has published a helpful pamphlet on helping children in crisis, with advice on determining when to seek outside help.

Adults in crisis typically require different handling than children, owing to the many differences in legal status, conditions and available resources. The specific steps for helping an adult family member or loved one in crisis will vary, depending on individual circumstances. Naturally, the first step in helping a loved one in crisis is to call for appropriate assistance, such as a suicide hotline for anyone threatening self-harm or local mental health hotlines for anyone experiencing hallucinations or threatening harm to others. Until help arrives, however, the best thing friends and family members can do is manage themselves and their approach toward the individual.

  1. Keep a calm, even-toned voice in all communications. Screaming or otherwise displaying intense emotions can exacerbate the situation.
  2. Remove anything the individual could potentially use as a weapon. Knives, guns and similar weapons are obvious, but consider too any furnishings or other items that could potentially cause harm to the patient or others.
  3. Do not leave the individual alone if self-harm is a concern.
  4. If the individual is threatening harm to others, back off or leave the premises. Remove anyone who appears to cause the individual more distress.
  5. Try offering the individual options or alternatives, rather than giving the appearance of trying to take control.
  6. Use short, easy to understand sentences, but without personal pronouns like “you,” “me,” or “I.” For example, rather than using a phrase such as “you need help,” use phrasing such as “help is on the way.”

 

Calling for Help
 
When calling for help, be sure to tell 911 operators, hotline attendants, or counselors about the individual's current crisis as well as history, medications, diagnosis, or any other information that would help provide appropriate services. Likewise, when law enforcement or emergency responders arrive, give a thorough history of the current and any previous crisis situations, hospitalizations or other pertinent information. Explain any triggers the individual is known to have, or that have been observed to create increased distress. For more information regarding how to handle a mental health crisis or what to expect, NAMI also offers a guide for helping individuals in crisis.

 

10 Awesomely Revealing Political Gaffes

There's no doubt that politicians have a way with their words. Whether it's a speech or a casual conversation, all ears are listening carefully to what they have to say. Every slip of the tongue, bad joke, and below-the-belt comment that is recorded or overheard gets scrutinized by the media and public, as with Rick Perry's majestically awkward brain fart during the CNBC GOP Presidential debate this week. These embarrassing political gaffes might excite us and stir up a range of emotions, but they also remind us that politicians are humans, too. Here are 10 awesomely revealing political gaffes.

  1. Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy's mic mishap

    Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy got more than they bargained for at the G20 summit in Cannes. The politicians were privately discussing their distaste for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but their comments were picked up on an open microphone. Sarkozy voiced his opinion about the prime minister by saying, "I cannot stand him. He's a liar." Obama replied, "You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day."

  2. George W. Bush's major league slip

    George W. Bush had an embarrassing gaffe at a 2000 presidential campaign speech in Illinois. An open microphone on the podium picked up Bush's not-so-nice remark about a New York Times reporter. He whispered to his vice presidential running mate, Dick Cheney, "There's Adam Clymer, major league a—— from The New York Times." Cheney responded, "Oh, yeah, big time." This wouldn't be the last of Bush and Cheney's infamous gaffes.

  3. Prince Charles' bloody people

    Prince Charles shared his true feelings about the media during a 2005 interview, just days before he wed Camilla Parker Bowles. Prince Charles posed with his sons William and Harry during questioning from BBC Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell. When asked about his feelings on the wedding, the prince snapped back by saying, "I am very glad you have heard of it, anyway." Then, he muttered to his sons, "These bloody people. I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is." But, Prince Charles was unaware that his comments were picked up by the microphone.

  4. George W. Bush G8 summit slip

    As mentioned earlier, George W. Bush has had his fair share of political gaffes, but one of his most embarrassing moments was getting caught using an expletive at the G8 summit lunch in 2006. An open microphone picked up Bush's comment to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that Syria should get the Lebanese militants to "stop doing this s—."

  5. Jesse Jackson gets nutty

    Rev. Jesse Jackson voiced his distaste for now-President Barack Obama on Fox's show Fox & Friends. Before the interview, Jackson whispered to a guest that Obama was "talking down to black people" and he wanted to "cut his nuts off." Jackson almost got away with his below-the-belt comment, but an employee who transcribed the tape found this gem of a gaffe.

  6. Sarah Palin on Paul Revere's wrong ride

    Sarah Palin had one of the most unforgettable campaign trails as the vice presidential running mate to John McCain during the 2008 election. During this time, we learned everything there is to know about Alaska and its proximity to Russia, but the best lesson of all was her recount of Paul Revere's midnight ride. Historians had a heyday with Palin's story that Revere warned the British and rang the bells to alert them that Americans would be free, which many experts say is completely wrong.

  7. Joe Biden tells Chuck to stand up

    Vice President Joe Biden has earned a reputation for making funny, but embarrassing gaffes on a regular occasion. One of his best political gaffes happened during the 2008 presidential campaign, when Biden asked State Senator Chuck Graham, a paraplegic, to stand up so he could recognize him. Unaware of Graham's condition, Biden shouted, "Chuck, stand up, let the people see you," before covering up his blunder by saying, "Oh, God love ya," and had the crowd stand up for him instead.

  8. Howard Dean's scream

    Howard Dean may be known for being a fiery guy, but no one saw the infamous primal scream coming. The Vermont governor wanted to fire up the audience, but his excitement got the best of him and he let out an unfortunate scream that cost him the nomination.

  9. Gordon Brown's rant

    Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown has had a bad reputation for running his mouth when he thinks no one is listening. One of Brown's worst gaffes took place when a woman confronted him on the election campaign trail and he berated her in the car ride home, forgetting that his microphone was still on. Brown called the campaigner a "bigot," and told his aide that their exchange was a "disaster."

  10. John Kerry's botched joke

    John Kerry stepped on many toes, including those of then-President Bush, when he told a botched joke to a group of California students in 2006. Kerry gave a not-so-uplifting message that if they cannot navigate the country's education system, they'll "get stuck in Iraq." Kerry was accused of "troop-bashing," but the senator said his comment was actually directed at President Bush and his "broken policy."

Staying Healthy as an Online Student

By: Madeline Sanders

College is a time full of new and exciting experiences. You get to learn new things and explore new aspects of life. For many students, college is the time you stretch beyond your comfort zone and become a truly independent person. While college can be fun and exciting, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. All too often, college students spend so much time researching for papers and cramming for exams that they end up neglecting their health.

The first step to remaining healthy while in college is eating right. As a new college student it is likely that this is the first time you have had to cook for yourself. Between classes, homework, studying, and a social life finding the time to cook a balanced meal can seem impossible (if not pointless). As a college student, you need your mind to be working at its fullest capacity. Without the proper nutrients, your mind may suffer and, therefore, your grades may suffer. Be sure to eat breakfast every morning to prepare you for the day. It's impossible to stay attentive during a lecture when all you can do is think about your empty stomach. Junk food is a popular choice among students who don't have time to spare for a proper meal. This can be okay sometimes, but do not make a habit of it. Eat regular meals with a lot of variety everyday to ensure that your mind is working at its greatest potential.

The next step to staying healthy in college is exercise. Again, as a student, you are busy. You have class, homework, studying, tests, group projects, clubs, meetings, parties, the list goes on, but fitting in a time for regular exercise may make all the difference. Finding time to exercise throughout the day will help you stay physically, mentally, and psychologically healthy. College is an extremely stressful time in a person's life. You are constantly busy with class and studying and on top of all that you are trying to decide who you are and who you want to be. Regular exercise allows you to relax and de-stress a little away from the crazy world of college academics. Much of college is spent in a stationary state. You sit in class or sit and do homework. Getting up and getting active keeps your body healthy and your mind attentive and alert.

Lastly, it is endlessly important to get enough sleep when you are in college. This can be hard, but is essential to succeeding academically. Sleep deprivation results in decreased immune system function, problems with concentration, problems with memory, irritability, and depression. All of these things deter you from performing your best in the academic world. Find time to take naps in-between classes or simply go to sleep earlier. Remembering to eat right, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep at night is key to becoming a truly successful student and eventually a truly successful working adult.

Common Sense to Cell Phone (SMS) Texting

Using your cell phone to check the time and send SMS text messages are the top two reasons people use their cell phones. SMS, or simple message service, text messages make it incredibly easy for someone to send a short message to a friend or family member without having to talk on the phone or be near a computer. People who are in the library or any other situation where talking on a phone is not possible can benefit from SMS texting.

While SMS text messaging can be convenient in the right kind of situations, it can also create problems that could lead to your information being stolen, damage to your personal property or an injury. When you understand the smart ways to use SMS texting and how to avoid scams, you can benefit from the convenience of instant communication any time you want.

Dangers of SMS Texting

The biggest challenge to using SMS texting is that it causes you to break your concentration on important things like the road in front of you or the shady character that is eyeing up your purse. Driving while texting is dangerous and can cause you to get into an accident that can hurt you, hurt someone else and cause property damage.

Texting while out in public causes you to lose track of things like your children and your belongings. Your children could wander away or get taken by someone you don’t know while you are texting. Your purse, wallet or any other valuables could be scooped up by a sneaky criminal while you are texting.

The best way to deal with these kinds of situations is to make some rules for yourself. If you need to text while you are on the road, then pull over or make the person wait until you are parked. It is okay to take the occasional text while out with your children or out shopping, but never get involved in a texting conversation when you are supposed to be focused on other, more important things. Let the other person know that you will contact them later when it is more convenient for you.

Unwanted Messages

If you use texting a lot, then you may start to get messages from people you do not know. One of the first things you should do is join the “National Do Not Call Registry” to make sure that marketing companies cannot send you messages you did not ask for. 

The next thing you need to do is understand the differences between unsolicited and solicited text messages. An unsolicited SMS text message is one that you receive from a company that you are unfamiliar with. You did not ask for information about this company’s offer and you do not want the information. Every SMS marketing text should give you the option to refuse future messages. Just follow the instructions to prevent future unwanted texts. If you still get unwanted texts from the same sender, then report it to your cell phone carrier.

Solicited text messages come from companies that have permission from you to send you marketing texts. If you do not want these texts any more, then go to the company’s website and have your phone number removed.

Protecting Your Phone and Yourself

In the UK, there is a program called immobilise that helps police track down stolen cell phones and prevent criminals from using your phone to send text messages to your friends and family. In the US, you need to keep better track of your phone to prevent criminals from stealing it or sending messages to your phone.

One of the ways to protect yourself from criminals or others that may want to send you threatening text messages is never post your cell phone number on the Internet. Even if you think that only your friends will get your number from a particular web page; that will not prevent your number from getting posted elsewhere for criminals to find.

You can also have unwanted calls blocked from your phone to prevent unwanted texts and prevent cyber bullying. Some people feel that cell phones offer anonymous platform for bullying and intimidating people. The truth is that every text can be traced, and you can protect yourself by reporting all instances of SMS bullying to your service provider.

SMS bullying can be especially prominent in high schools and other settings where bullies look for new ways to intimidate people. Use the blocking feature on your phone and report intimidating text messages to your provider to help stamp out SMS bullying.

SMS Scams

Texting scams have been around as long as texting has been available, and people need to know how to identify a scam to protect themselves from them. A SMS scam text message is a quick message that often indicates that if you do not respond to the message then you cell phone account will get charged a monthly fee for a service you do not use. It can get expensive and, unfortunately, it is legal.

The first thing you should do to protect yourself from these scams is to always read your text messages. Take the time to understand what they are saying and respond appropriately. If you get a scam SMS text that tries to add monthly charges to your phone, refuse the service and then report the number to your service provider.

Speaking the Language

SMS texting has its own language that some people may not understand. The word “are” is replaced by just the letter “r” and the word “to” is replaced by the number “2.” In some cases, words have the vowels taken out to shorten it up. For example, the word “example” in SMS would be “xmpl.” The reason for this is because SMS only allows 160 characters per message. So if you want to get your message across, you need to learn the lingo.

The fastest way to learn the SMS language is to put your messages through an SMS translator and start getting familiar with how the words and sentences look. You may want to get started soon. All the kids are doing it.

SMS texting is like anything else in the world of instant communication; you need to learn balance. You need to understand when it is time to text and when it is time to keep your eyes on the road. Texting can save you time and help you get more things done. It can also help your favorite vendors keep you up to date on the newest products and pricing specials. But if you want to avoid being a part of an SMS scam or having a bully try to intimidate you over the phone, then you need to understand how to properly use SMS texting and know how to protect yourself.
 

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