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by Dallas Shipp | October 30th, 2018

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GAMERS (AND FAMILIES!) UNITE FOR READY PLAYER ONE!

by Chris Anderson | May 18th, 2018

Ready Player One is based on the hit novel of the same name by first time novelist Ernest Cline. The movie is directed by Stephen Spielberg and stars Tye Sheridan in the main character role of Wade, also known as Parzival.

Ready Player One is based in Columbus, Ohio, and when a much-loved tech genius passes away, he leaves an elaborate game to find an “Easter Egg” in the elaborate virtual world he created, called the Oasis. In this future, the Oasis is the greatest economic player in the world, and the person who finds the Easter Egg will receive control of the Oasis.

In the movie, as well as the novel, nostalgia and pop culture references (especially from the 80’s) play a big role in the clues and games of the Easter Egg, and this creates a fantastic entertainment factor in the movie. Some of the references are incredibly noticeable (like the vehicle that Wade drives in the Oasis) while some flash by very quickly. Keep an eye out during the movie!

While the main character is entertaining and like-able, there isn’t much character development in the movie. Fortunately, action sequences and visuals more than make up for it. Spielberg shows once again that he knows how to direct a family-friendly action film. With the 80’s references for parents, and video game slang for the kids, this movie appeals to all ages. It also includes a great soundtrack.

Our team really enjoyed the movie across the board, with no score coming in lower than 4/5. Go see it at your local theater for a fun, entertaining, nostalgic, and yet futuristic movie.

Best iPhone Navigation Apps

by Will Davis | March 27th, 2018

It wasn’t too long ago that we had to bust out our big, bulky maps to plot a course to a new destination. Even more recently, you could go onto MapQuest, input your location along with your destination and print out a list of directions, that even included a map of your route. Then people had the ability to purchase a GPS navigation system to install in their vehicle that provided turn-by-turn directions. These days, personal navigation technology has advanced to the point that everyone has a GPS navigation system in their pocket. Almost all smartphones come with some type of navigation software built into them upon arrival. I am going to discuss a few of the most popular navigation apps on the market these days to help ensure that you arrive at your destination on time and with ease.

  • Google Maps is a great choice for their large selection of not only driving maps, but also public transit, biking and walking maps as well. This is another app that is free to use and shows you multiple options in regard to routes along with their ETAs. Google maps offers voice guided turn-by-turn navigation to assist while you are driving. The biggest advantage of Google Maps is that Google is the go-to search engine in the world and therefore they have the most robust and correct information when looking for specific businesses and attractions anywhere you might be travelling.
  • Apple Maps is like google maps. The biggest advantage to Apple Maps is that it is directly built into every iPhone that is sold. Therefore, it integrates seamlessly into other apps, when your phone is locked, in the background of other apps and it works with other accessories, such as the Apple Watch and Siri. If you have an iPhone and you need directions from point A to point B, then Apple Maps is a great option.
  • Waze is interesting because it is a crowd-sourced maps and navigation apps that uses travel data and inputs from users to provide the most up-to-date travel information, including traffic data, and provides the quickest possible route. Waze has a social element that also allows you to communicate with friends and other Waze users to share reported road conditions, hazards and even police presence. This is probably my personal favorite app because of its real-time information, it can re-route you around traffic jams or construction, as well as its ability to provide accurate arrival times.

There are many other navigation apps available for your smart phone. Some of them are free and others may have a cost to purchase and/or a monthly subscription costs. These are worth checking out, but I believe that any of the above apps would be able to serve your needs and they are all free. Always remember to keep your eyes on the road and have safe travels!

Annihilation Movie Review by Daniel Stark Law

by Chris Anderson | March 15th, 2018

 

In February the DS Team dived deep into high concept Sci-Fi with “Annihilation.” Based mostly on the first novel in the “Southern Reach Trilogy” that goes by the same name, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac as a married couple whose lives become thrust into a government investigation of a phenomena happening in a national park, which the government simply refers to as “The Shimmer.” When Kane (Oscar Isaac) disappears and suddenly returns after a year as the only living member of an expedition that went into the shimmer, he suddenly becomes violently ill. His wife Lena (Natalie Portman) a biologist goes in with a new expedition in hopes she can find the answer to save him.

The first thing that stuck out to the DS Team in their reviews was the visuals. This movie is shot on location most of the time, which gives a refreshing lack of CGI and/or green screen for the majority of the movie. The use of practical effects is especially nice. The performances of Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac are strong, while the supporting cast for the most part are serviceable. There are strong themes that continue throughout the movie, and by the end you may be wondering aloud to yourself what this movie was actually about.

For the most part, DS team members saw this movie as a 3/5, with a couple of stronger ratings. The issues of this movie revolve mostly around the resolution of the film, along with the complex narrative. However, writing, visuals, and super creepy, and occasionally disturbing imagery, make this movie worth a look!

 

Spring Forward to More Dangerous Roads

by Kristin Farrack | March 10th, 2018

Spring forward! As daylight saving time approaches this weekend, most folks are excited for more daylight when we get home from work or school to enjoy the nice spring weather.  However, when clocks move forward in the spring we lose an hour – one precious hour of sleep!  This leaves many feeling “out of whack” or unable to adjust for a few days, or even weeks.  One hour of lost sleep can surely make us more tired, but some might not realize what that means for their safety and the safety of others.  Slight changes in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms can alter our alertness, and in some cases, increase the number of auto crashes.

There have been multiple research studies performed which show that there is a very small but very significant increase of deaths in motor vehicle collisions on the Monday after we spring forward.  There’s also research which shows that the first six days following the change in time prove to be more dangerous on the road.  People are still adjusting to the shift in time on the Monday after, and it’s been compared to the equivalent of suffering from jet lag.  People are also adjusting to the darker morning commutes, and at the same time they are less alert due to sleep deprivation.  Our driving skills aren’t the only thing in danger, as it’s also been reported there’s an increase in workplace incidences in the days after we spring forward.

The important lesson isn’t that driving on the Monday after “springing forward” is unusually dangerous, but rather that small decreases in our total amount of sleep can stress our bodies and cause incidents.  What can you do to plan for Monday and the week following the time change?  Go to bed early Saturday night, get enough sleep in the days before the clocks spring forward, and keep an eye out for fatigued drivers for the next few days.

Happy “springing”!

Top 3 Social Media Tips After a Car Wreck

by Steven Hooker | March 5th, 2018

In today’s world, with seemingly everyone oversharing on social media it would seem quite natural to make a post following a car wreck. However, this can have severe negative consequences in the world of personal injury lawsuits – especially with insurance companies looking for any angle to attack the value of our clients’ cases.

By far, the safest option following a car wreck is to deactivate all your social media accounts. However, if you can’t bring yourself to completely un-plug, the following is a non-exhaustive list of social media “don’ts” for people following a car wreck.

  1. Privacy. Set all your social media accounts to PRIVATE. This is a step that can be taken right now, before a car wreck, and applies to all social media platforms including (but not limited to) Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Tumblr. In Texas, if your account is not set to private, anyone – including the adverse insurance company and defense attorney – can access your account and use it against you. Setting your account to private does not guarantee that it cannot be used against you, but typically will require a court order to access.
  2. Requests. Along the same lines as #1, do not accept any strange friend or connection requests following your car wreck. Allowing an unknown person or entity access to your account places you at risk for sharing private information that could inevitably be used against you. This especially pertains to requests from the other driver(s), their family and friends, and insurance adjusters.
  3. Posts. Your social media sharing after a car wreck should NEVER include any information regarding the wreck. This does not merely include the circumstances of the crash, feelings about the other driver, but your injuries and treatment. If you are reading this now and have shared information regarding your car wreck, delete it immediately. Even pictures of yourself doing things completely unrelated to the wreck can be used against you by an insurance adjuster to “prove” you weren’t really hurt. This happens more than people would guess.Remember, when it comes to personal injury cases, silence is golden. There will come a time and a place to tell your story, but social media is neither. Stay off social media about your wreck and avoid unforeseen consequences!

‘The Post’ Review by Daniel Stark Law

by Chris Anderson | March 4th, 2018

The Post is the Oscar nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg, and scored by John Williams. This is an all-star cast with an all-star team behind and they create a compelling and dramatic movie. While the subject matter is interesting, you won’t be on the edge of your seat.

The Daniel Stark team got to enjoy The Post, which is about the Washington Post’s embattled decision to post the “Pentagon Papers” which revolved around studies the government had conducted on whether the Vietnam War would be successful. Meryl Streep is of course, as usual, fantastic, which is essentially par for the course for her at this point in her career. In this movie, she has been nominated for best actress, which makes for her 21st Oscar nomination, the most of any actor in history.

Tom Hanks, and all the supporting cast, play their roles very well, and the movie is very well directed by Steven Spielberg, keeping the audience engaged in the film, and even throwing in audio from Richard Nixon’s phone call conversations regarding the Post, which gives you an idea of the risk the Washington Post was taking at the time.

The team at Daniel Stark enjoyed the film overall, giving scores of at least a 4/5, take a look at the team member’s reviews below!

Spring Facebook Charity – Northway Farms

by Rebecca Malcik | March 1st, 2018

Northway Farms is a non-profit community located in Bryan-College Station, Texas. Northway Farms offers affordable housing, restorative employment, and a loving family to women and children living in extreme poverty. They use farming as an enterprise to offer sustainable employment and a source of revenue for their residents. Their mission is to break the debilitating, often generational cycle of poverty, one family at a time. By meeting the most basic needs of mind (safety of home), body (integrity of work), and soul (belonging of family) for our residents, Northway Farms offers hope to homeless families, while empowering our community into a lifestyle of service.

Justin and Kasey Van Norman were led into the dream of Northway Farms after Kasey miraculously won her battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Through their own journey of suffering and then healing, they gained understanding and deep compassion for those around them still hurting.  They worked for a local rescue and rehabilitation ranch for minors where their hearts were opened to the widespread pain and injustice suffered by families in their own backyard. The Van Normans discovered poverty and homelessness to be the common thread holding harmful patterns in place, and developed and founded Northway Farms as a way to reach these needs within the Bryan-College Station area.

If you would like to help support Northway Farms, please join us in our Facebook campaign for March, April, and May. For every New Like our Daniel Stark Law Facebook Page receives, we will match with $1 donated to this empowering organization. Please help us spread the word!

Visit northwayfarms.org to learn more!

 

2017’s Safest Cars

by Zachary Tritico | February 21st, 2018

When you think of driving a car, what is the first thought that comes into your mind?  A dream of driving your favorite exotic sports car…  The feeling of seemingly limitless freedom when you first received your driver’s license…   The endless sea of brake lights in front of you that time you were caught in the worst traffic ever…  Did anyone immediately think of fastening your seat belt? Checking your mirrors? Making sure your airbags are turned on?  Safety may not have been the first thought in your mind, and that’s okay; however, safety while driving should be one of your first thoughts.  Always.  Your life may depend on it.

In America, we are constantly persuaded, swayed, or tempted by commercial advertising to want a vehicle based on the emotions that it will invoke within us.  The allure and status of driving a particular luxury car brand.  The fuel economy of the newest electric-powered vehicle promising less maintenance and upkeep.  The notion that no other car or truck is built Ford Tough like yours was.  Far be it from me to tell you which make or model is “the best” or best fits your lifestyle and why.  My intention is merely to point out that vehicle safety should be the most important consideration when shopping for a new car or truck.

In Texas in 2016, 3,773 deaths occurred in motor vehicle accidents, up 5.45% from the prior year.  Over 17,000 people suffered serious injuries on Texas roadways last year.  Almost half of the traffic fatalities occurred in urban areas, and as such, almost half were in rural areas.  Vehicle safety is not just a concern for people in big cities, or people with enough money to buy a luxury car.  Vehicle safety reaches every corner, every town, and every person that steps foot inside a vehicle even if they don’t drive – your kids, your dog, your mother-in-law.

Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers wants to help make vehicle safety a top priority in your life.  Despite all the risks associated with driving, each year auto manufacturers continue to produce safer vehicles as technology stimulates innovative new ideas and defenses to protect consumers.  There are many publications that each claim to definitively rank which new vehicles are the safest each year – US News, Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, Car and Driver, etc. – based on their own unique ways of testing and probing the new model year vehicles.  To help with the collection, review, and comparison of each publication’s particular rankings, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers has compiled its own list of “Safest Cars for 2017” based on the voluminous reports and publications out there for consumers.  Find out if the next car you want to buy is on our list, starting with our Top 5…

 

Top 5 

#5 – Honda Accord

One of the best-selling brands of cars in America for three decades, the Honda Accord is seemingly always on a “best cars” list each year.  The Accord for 2017 is no exception, taking home prestigious rankings by US News & World Report, Forbes, and the Drive.  The Accord also received the top safety rating (Top Safety Pick +) from the IIHS – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety[1] – and a Kelley Blue Book Expert Rating of 9.3 out of 10.  The 2017 model is the first to incorporate Honda’s new HondaSensing safety features – rear-view camera, brake assist – in the vehicle as standard equipment.  The Accord is modestly priced in the $20,000’s depending on whether you need leather seats or the best new technology.

#4 – Chevrolet Volt

Chevy’s second generation plug-in hybrid is capable of going 53 miles without gasoline, or if necessary, averages 103 mpg overall (EPA).   While its fuel economy is its most prominent feature, this vehicle is also one of the safest on the road.  It comes with 10 airbags and a rear-view camera standard, with optional safety features that rival those of much more expenses luxury cars.  As with all other vehicles on this list, the Volt also received an IIHS top safety rating of TSP+ and a KBB Expert Rating of 9.0.  The standard model will start in the low $30,000’s, but you may also qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits.

#3 – Genesis G80

Hyundai’s high-end model brand, Genesis, is only a decade old, but that doesn’t preclude it from producing an impressive lineup of safe and valuable vehicles.  The 2017 G80 not only received a perfect 5-star rating from the NHTSA – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration[2] – but also received the IIHS TPS+ rating.  Needless to say, this is objectively one of the safest cars on the road, and its advanced safety features won’t cost you extra.  The standard safety features include automatic braking, blind spot warning, lane assist, lane change alerts, and rear cross traffic alerts.   With a KBB Expert Rating of 9.2, and a starting price at about $40,000, it is the most expense model on Daniel Stark’s Top 5.

#2 – Volvo S60

Volvo is a brand name synonymous with safety.  The company has pledged to have no person seriously injured or killed in one of their cars by the year 2020 in the company’s new project, Vision 2020.  The S60 is a step toward this vision.  Similar to the Genesis, the S60 boasts a 5-star NHTSA safety rating, and is an IIHS TPS+ award winner.  While its standard equipment does not include a rear-view camera (which quickly becoming the standard on most models), Volvo has included more high end safety features as standard equipment such as HID projector headlights with active cornering technology and low-speed automatic emergency braking.  If the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about driving a car is safety, then you probably already own a Volvo.  But if you don’t, and you want a vehicle produced by a company whose sole focus is on your safety, the Volvo S60 starts at around $30,000.

#1 – Subaru Legacy

Surprisingly, the Subaru Legacy is present on every 2017 customer review and award publication.  Is it because of the 5-star NHTSA safety rating?  The elusive IIHS TPS+ rating?  Great price range, starting in the low $20,000s?  While it’s certainly not the most advertised vehicle, the most popular vehicle, or the cheapest, the Subaru Legacy will give you the most safety for your dollar.  Along with a suite of standard and optional safety features, the Legacy will also give you Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive.  It’s no wonder that Subaru is ranked as one of the safest and most dependable vehicle manufacturers by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.  The Legacy takes the coveted position as #1 in our DS Top 5 due to its overall quality, dependability, and safety.

 

Honorable Mentions

While the different magazines, publications, and online lists of the safest cars in 2017 will include various types of vehicles such as minivans, trucks, or SUV’s, our list focused mainly on those vehicle models which appeared on multiple lists (some were on every list).  Unintentionally, the DS Top 5 includes all cars, so to broaden the spectrum a bit we will discuss the Safest Truck, Safest Minivan, and Safest SUV, according to their rankings and presence on national reports.

SUV – Acura MDX

While not a perfect rating in all the crash tests, the MDX received top marks from the NHTSA overall, and also took home an IIHS TPS+ designation.  Every MDX will include lane assist, emergency braking, rear cross traffic assist, and rear-view camera features.  Standard.  The “technology” optional package bumped up the safety feature to an even higher level.  At a price though, starting in the mid-$40,000 range.  No other SUV contains a higher quality package of safety features than the MDX.

Minivan – Chrysler Pacifica

The only minivan in 2017 to receive the IIHS TPS+ safety designation was the Pacifica.  It also received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA.  While most of the advanced safety features are available with optional packages, the standard package will provide a rear-view camera.   KBB’s Expert rating is a stellar 9.3 and will start out at around $30,000.  The Pacifica will seat 7-8 passengers and provide above 30 mpg on top of its high safety marks.  Clearly a perfect choice for a larger family with an eye on safety.

Truck – Honda Ridgeline

A car, minivan, or SUV will not meet the needs of many Texans’ daily lives.  The truck is king in the Lone Star State.  But which model will provide you the most safety?  It’s not Dodge, Ford, or Chevy.  Japanese automaker Honda claims the title of safest truck in Texas with its unique Ridgeline.  The only truck to appear in multiple national rankings, and the only truck in 2017 awarded by the IIHS with a TPS+ designation was the Ridgeline.  This truck can be equipped with a staggering amount of safety features – through Honda’s new HondaSensing features – and was also awarded a 5-star crash rating by the NHTSA.  No other truck has the safety features and design than the Ridgeline and is far and away the safest truck in Texas.

 

 

[1] U.S. nonprofit organization funded by auto insurers; established in1959 with the goal of reducing the number of traffic accidents in the USA and the rate of injuries in crashes.  Researches and ranks passenger vehicles and studies traffic regulations, innovations in technology, and consumer products such as child booster seats.

[2] U.S Government agency of the Executive Branch within the Department of Transportation; creates and enforces vehicle safety standards and fuel economy standards; maintains the vehicle identification number (VIN) system

Mardi Gras – Work Hard Play Hard

by Justin Jackson | February 13th, 2018

What do you think of when you hear the name “Mardi Gras”? Just the name Mardi Gras conjures up memories of amazing food, music, beads, purple, gold, and people letting loose. At Daniel Stark one of our core values is “Work Hard Play Hard”. To us, this means working hard for our clients, but also enjoying ourselves in the process. There are very few places on Earth to play harder than at Mardi Gras.

What is Mardi Gras?: Although Mardi Gras had ancient roots dating back thousands of years, most of us know it as a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on “Fat Tuesday”. In many areas, however, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival. Mardi Gras 2018 occurs on Tuesday, February 13, though many places (such as New Orleans) begin their celebrations the weekend before, starting on February 9.

Mardi Gras Locations:

Galveston, Texas: Self-proclaimed “Texas’ largest Mardi Gras celebration” has a Texas sized parade with elaborate musicians, floats, feasting, and family events. This historical Texas town is perfect for a little Cajun celebration every year!

Lake Charles, Louisiana: Lake Charles is one of my personal favorite places to visit. This Mardi Gras celebration is full of amazing Cajun food and zydeco music. My personal favorite eatery is Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake.

New Orleans, Louisiana: No other Mardi Gras celebration is as epic as the one in The Big Easy. This celebration is full of lively crowds and epic floats. Go visit and enjoy what the Cajun country call the “joie de vivre” or the “joy of living”. Work Hard Play Hard in the city of jazz but never drink and drive. Stay safe and play hard!