Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food Trends for 2007 and Beyond

Suddenly, from the depths of an otherwise peaceful evening, a story idea stirred across my imagination. I sprang to my feet with exuberance.

In artistic abandon, I tossed aside the original article that I had penned for today's column. My thoughts raced ahead in favor of a daunting new idea.

Today's column is going to explore some new taste trends for 2007 and beyond.

Trends are an indicator of the direction that a society is moving towards. From a curious student of life and sociological perspective, it is fascinating to watch how cultural trends evolve through periods of history. We experience "AHA" moments that help us to better understand the times in which we are living.

Food trends, like other trends of a society, paint a picture of interconnection.

Here is my take, a kaleidoscope view if you will, of some current and/or future trends that I envision will flavor the culinary landscape in future days.

Vintage Cuisine

We will see a revival of foods that were popular in our parents and grandparent's day, however, these foods that I've labeled Vintage Cuisine will excite the palate with new twists in presentation and interpretation. The artery-clogging components will continue to be lightened up in fresh and exciting ways. Slow-roasted meals with rich depth and intriguing flavors will become increasingly popular and will be interpreted in ways that merge the goodness of the garden with global tastes in a continually evolving synergy and fusion.

The Slow Food Movement will continue to pick up speed. Tried and true rustic-flavored farmhouse favorites like pot roasts, shepherds pie, savory stews, cassoulets, meat loaf, lamb and veal shanks, and other succulent slow roasted meats and vegetables will tickle our taste buds.

Regional, Local Ingredients

We will see a continued movement towards locally produced agricultural products. Neighborhood farmer's markets and regional green markets that sell organic products will continue to find popularity as the "in place" for conscientious shoppers. There is a trend to want to know where our food comes from. We want to know how our food is grown, and some of us like this writer, want to understand the landscape and know that contaminated water is not flowing down a hill into the fields where the crops are growing.

After watching news reports that some bagged spinach leaves, green onions and alfalfa sprouts had turned deadly with E.coli bacteria, we started asking more questions of our food purveyors. As a result, we will see the introduction of smart-packaging technology that will be debuting sometime in 2007. This new technology will allow a big red 'X" to appear on a bag of produce if the bag contains E.coli, salmonella or any other strain of bacteria present inside the bag.

Fusion Cuisine

We will see more flavorful interpretations of the fusion between regional and global cuisine. It's a small world, after all. Creative cooks will explore the endless possibilities that fusion cookery offers. Watch for South American, Spanish and Mediterranean foods to be especially hot trends.

Multi-Tasking Antioxidants and Performance Boosting Foods

Antioxidant foods that are packed with multi-tasking nutritional dividends will continue to be popular. We want to know what our foods can do for us. What happens inside our bodies when we eat a particular food? The war on trans fats will continue and we will become more aware of the ingredients and additives that are slowly killing us one spoonful at a time. We are becoming more empowered to read the ingredient lists on a package and Google the names of ingredients that we don't recognize.

Passionate Cooks with Great Entertaining Personalities will continue to be the face of food television

Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, and Ina Garten are three faces that have become synonymous with the Food Network. However, with the boom of cutting-edge digital technology products, the possibilities for a great cook with a great personality on video are wide open.

Home Entertaining Trends

The art of entertaining well at home will continue to be a driving force connecting family and friends in inspiring ways. We will see more ways that entertaining and hospitality can be used for a greater common good. A perfect example of this is being done by Florida's new Governor Charlie Crist who is opening up the Governor's Mansion to everyday folks for informal discussions about Florida's future.

As is often the case, I have many more delicious and festive ideas to share. For a continued dialog on the subject of Food Trends for 2007 and beyond visit my newly set-up Taste Trends blog at

Nokia X3-02 - Remarkable Blend of Captivating Looks and Rattling Features

Nokia X3-02 or Nokia X3-02 Touch and Type is affably advised buzz and it can be the dream of appearance acquainted humans because they will adulation it for its beautiful architecture developed in white silver, aphotic metal, petrol blue, blush & lavender colors.

Charming Looks

This affably advised buzz does backpack a failing case just of 77.4 grams abundant with altitude of 106.2 x 48.4 x 9.6 mm. The convenient Nokia X3-02 is anchored with a TFT arresting touchscreen of 2.4 inches size. This adorable touchscreen is accepting 240 x 320 pixels awning resolution with 256K colors. Apart from case accommodation and touchscreen display, beautiful alphanumeric keypad and committed music key appearance are aswell abacus added account to it.

Mesmerizing Connectivity

Nokia X3-02 Touch and Type is actual affable to Internet because of owning 3G HSDPA & HSUPA, Wi-Fi, GPRS and EDGE techniques with WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML web browsing and RSS feeds services. And this alarming accoutrement is accordant with YouTube, Facebook & MySpace amusing networking websites. In adjustment to accomplish your abstracts administration requirement, Bluetooth and USB access will play a big role. Moreover, SMS, MMS, Audio Messaging, Flash Messaging, Instant Messaging (Ovi Chat) and Email (Nokia Messaging Service 3.0) with Committed Messaging Key will be there to accumulate you affiliated anytime with added users accepting aforementioned services.

Assortment of All

The congenital camera is of 5 MP with 2592 x 1944 pixels resolution adeptness to bang still photographs and videos can be recorded of VGA @ 15fps. And if you are on a barbecue again audio and video players of this handset will absorb you by arena MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+ & WMA audio and MPEG4, 3GP, H263 & H264 video files. Besides it, Album Art Support, Equaliser, Internal Speaker, Volume Key and Committed Music Key accessories are abacus added stars to the ball administration of this widget. Nokia X3-02 is adored by stereo FM radio that is too with RDS adeptness as able-bodied as 3.5 mm audio jack and few built-in amateur are accessible with downloading ability. And to save the important abstracts in your phone, 50 MB user accessible anamnesis and anamnesis agenda aperture can be activated on Nokia X3-02 Touch and Type that can access up to 32 GB amplitude by inserting microSD agenda in it.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Should You Create a Power of Attorney?

There are some few exceptions as the right to get married or vote. As an individual and principal you can grant unlimited power known as a general power of attorney.

The attorney-in-fact generally can only carry out an action if the individual and principal can exercise the same power. This stops the attorney-in-fact from acting when the principal is incapacitated. If an individual is unable to sign a contract the attorney-in-fact is also unable to sign a contract for the principal. But if you have a Durable Power of Attorney the attorney-in-fact is allowed to execute the powers granted by the principal even after the principal becomes ill.

At the Time of Death A Power of Attorney Ends

Whether you have a Durable Power of Attorney or you do not, at the time of death all power of attorney ends. If the individual and principal has granted attorney-in-fact rights to perform certain tasks, upon death all those rights are terminated.

How A Power of Attorney is Revoked

As long as you are alive you have the power to revoke the power of attorney. To revoke the power of attorney you must contact your attorney-in-fact that the power of attorney has been revoked. You can also detail at what date the power of attorney will expire.

A Springing Power of Attorney

A power of attorney can be designed to spring into effect if you become disabled or at some predetermined time or event. This is a springing power of attorney. The springing power of attorney prevents your attorney-in-fact from using the powers while you are able to take care of them yourself.

The attorney-in-fact must prove that the individual where your powers are concerned is in fact disabled and can not perform the tasks needed. You will need a written document from the physician or hospital that you are incapacitated.

It should be a current document and not several days old or it could be questioned as to whether you are still ill or disabled. So to save yourself, added turmoil, and be required to furnish a more current document take care of it the same day.

Instant Power of Attorney

Your powers of attorney can become effective immediately, as soon as it is signed, This is the type of power of attorney people use when they will be in another country for a long period of time and will not be available to handle such matters. It is generally a durable power of attorney that will expire in one year. You can also have provisions built into the powers of attorney will you can extent it. If you become incompetent or ill when the power of attorney expires, and you're attorney-in-fact or agent, will need to go before the court to get approval to continue.

Medical Decisions

When you have a durable power of attorney it can be used to allow your attorney-in-fact the power to make medical decisions in case you become incapacitated. Most individuals have separate power of attorneys for medical and financial affairs. Sometimes the same person handles both powers of attorneys.

How to Choose your Attorney- In-Fact

Since this is one of the most important documents of your life it goes without saying it should be the most trusted of people with impeccably credentials who understand your wishes And how to handle your business. One other thing to bear in mind is when you give someone this power they have the ability to do as they wish, and may not follow your instructions. That's why you must be very careful. When it comes to money sometimes people do things for their own interest. Your attorney-in-fact is a fiduciary. Which means that they are there to manage your assets to help you, and not themselves. The person you choose will be called under difficult circumstances. So generally it will be a family member or a close friend and sometimes an attorney you trust and respect. If you do not have a power of attorney in place it will fall to the laws of the state.

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now!

Planning for unfortunate events such as serious illness or injury is rarely on anyone's list of favorite pastimes. Sometimes, though, enduring the small discomfort that may accompany preparing for the unexpected will avoid untold anguish on the part of your family and friends. This is certainly the case with the Durable Power of Attorney, an often simple document that becomes so very important if sickness or injury renders you unable to take care of your own affairs.

Power of Attorney Defined

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you (as the "Principal") allow someone else (the "Agent" or "Attorney-in-fact") to act legally on your behalf. The Power of Attorney may be limited to very specific actions that the Agent is authorized to take on your behalf. On the other hand it may give the Agent very broad powers. In either event, the Agent you appoint in the Power of Attorney should be someone that you trust without reservation. That could be a family member, an advisor, a trustworthy friend or a bank or similar institution.

The "Durable" Power of Attorney

The significance of having a "Durable" Power of Attorney is best understood if you know what can happen with the plain old garden variety of Power of Attorney.

If you sign a Power of Attorney that is not "durable," the document remains effective only while you are alive and competent to handle your own affairs. If you become incompetent or die, the Power of Attorney is automatically revoked by law and your Agent is no longer able to act on your behalf. This prevents a Power of Attorney from becoming irrevocable inadvertently, and, until recent times, it was the only way a Power of Attorney could be prepared.

The non-durable Power of Attorney has limited usefulness for family and estate planning purposes, though, because the Power of Attorney is often most needed when you have become incapacitated! That is when you really need someone else that is able to make legal decisions or take other actions on your behalf.

All fifty states now permit the use of a "durable" Power of Attorney that is not revoked simply because the Principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This makes the Durable Power of Attorney a far more reliable document, particularly for family and estate planning purposes, since you may now authorize your Agent to act on your behalf even after illness, injury or other cause has rendered you unable to manage your own affairs. Even with a Durable Power of Attorney, however, the Principal's death causes an immediate revocation of the document and termination of the powers that are given to the Agent.

A Matter of Convenience

The Durable Power of Attorney is often used as a matter of convenience.

Suppose, for example, you have your home listed for sale. You have also planned a long awaited trip to visit Aunt Trixie in Deadwood, South Dakota, and you are concerned that an interested buyer may come along while you are on the road. A Durable Power of Attorney would be handy here to appoint someone you trust to act in your absence to negotiate the sale and sign any documents that are needed to make the deal binding.

The Durable Power of Attorney could be prepared so that it is effective only until the date you plan to return from your trip, and it might describe specific terms that your Agent must include in the sale, such as the minimum sale price that is acceptable to you.

A Matter of Protecting Loved Ones

What happens if, from illness, injury or another cause, you become physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that you are no longer able to handle your own legal affairs?

Let's suppose again that while you are incapacitated it becomes necessary to mortgage your home to pay your medical bills. Who will sign the mortgage? Even if your home is jointly owned with your spouse, he cannot obtain a mortgage without your signature.

In those circumstances it would be necessary to request the local probate court to appoint a guardian for you that has the power to handle your legal affairs. In many states, this type of guardian is referred to as a "conservator". Included in the conservator's powers might be the power to borrow money and sign a mortgage on your behalf making it possible to obtain the funds needed to pay the medical bills.

However, you may have heard that it is advantageous to avoid probate whenever possible, particularly if there is a good alternative available. The delay and expense associated with probate proceedings and the fact that they are conducted in the probate court, a public forum, make that good advice in most circumstances. And there is a better alternative than probate, but it requires you to act before the incapacity arises - you need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.

When used in this estate planning context, the Durable Power of Attorney is generally worded very broadly to give your Agent the power to step into your legal shoes in almost any circumstance. In effect, you tell your Agent "You can do anything I can do."

Now, if you have prepared the Durable Power of Attorney and then become incapacitated, no one has to go through a probate proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator to act for you - you have already given your Agent the power to do so. As you can see, the Durable Power of Attorney can save precious time and expense in critical situations and avoid having your personal affairs become the subject of a public proceeding.

Appointing a Successor Agent

It is often a good idea to appoint one or more successor Agents. The Agent you appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney may die or for some other reason become unable or unwilling to act as your Agent. In that case, you may be left without someone to act for you when you most need that assistance.

Appointing successors to your first choice of Agent helps insure that someone is always available to handle your affairs. Of course, each successor that you appoint should be someone that has your complete trust.

Revoking a Power of Attorney

As long as you are competent, you have the power to revoke your Durable Power of Attorney. To do so, send written notice to your Agent notifying him or her that the document has been revoked. Once the Agent has notice of your revocation, the Agent may take no further action under the Durable Power of Attorney. However, your revocation will not undo any permissible actions that the Agent has taken prior to being notified that the Power of Attorney has been terminated.

You must also notify third parties with whom your Agent has been dealing that the Durable Power of Attorney has been revoked. For example, if the Agent has been dealing with a stockbroker, you must notify the stockbroker as soon as possible. Do this in writing, as well, and do it immediately. Third parties who do not receive notice of the revocation are entitled to, and probably will, continue to rely on the Durable Power of Attorney.

Making the Durable Power of Attorney Effective upon Incapacity.

It is possible to have a Durable Power of Attorney that only becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated. This document is referred as a "springing" Durable Power of Attorney because it "springs to life" on the occurrence of a future event - your incapacity. The document should include a detailed definition of "disability" to make clear the circumstances in which your Agent may act on your behalf.

Knowing that your Agent is unable to exercise his or her powers until you are actually unable to do so yourself may make using the Durable Power of Attorney more comfortable for you. Unfortunately, even with a good definition of incapacity in the springing Durable Power of Attorney, your Agent may find that third parties are simply not willing to make the judgment that you are indeed disabled. If they are wrong, they may be held liable to you for any damages that you sustain as a result of the error in judgment. You may therefore find the springing document cannot be relied upon in all circumstances.

Don't Procrastinate!

Estate planning is easy to put off. But don't! Advance planning, such as executing a Durable Power of Attorney, may make a horrible circumstance for you and your family just a bit more bearable.

Auto Accidents: Step by Step, by the Right Attorney

I have written this article with the "average" case in mind, as that imaginary "average" case is the one which occurs most often. I believe that there are absolutely "rights" and "wrongs" in the handling of a personal injury claim. At the conclusion of this report, if you have questions, I will tell you how we can connect to try to get them answered.

Problem Presented:

You have just been involved in an automobile collision which was not your fault. Your car is all banged up; you are hurt; you are probably worried about many of the consequences this collision has now created, and as the expression goes: "this just wasn't a good time for this kind of thing". There are 101 things racing through your mind. Certainly, the last thing you need is to worry about finding a good attorney to handle matters for you. Hopefully this article will give you a leg up on making that search a bit easier, by allowing you to know what to look for, and by allowing you to know what questions to ask.

Plan of action to solve the problem: find an attorney to help!

Finding an attorney is easy. Finding the right attorney might be a little tougher. First, understand that there is nothing immediately critical about hiring an attorney. I recommend, however, that you do so within 2 - 3 days of the collision. In this fashion you can avoid being hassled by insurance adjusters, and an intelligent course of action for you and your case can be formulated. Back to finding that attorney. If you have a good case, there are hundreds of attorneys who will be thrilled to work for you. I would be less than honest if I didn't admit that legal fees for "personal injury" cases can be very handsome. Such fees for the right attorney however, are well worth it. Read on, and you'll see why.

You should be able to recognize a sincere appreciative attitude on the part of the attorney you select. Again, there are hundreds of attorneys who'd be very happy to have you as a client. If the attorney you select isn't one of them, find one who is. That attorney will work very hard for you. Keep reading, and I'll help you learn how to pick the right attorney.

The Initial Stages and the first contact.

Your car is in need of repair, you are in need of medical treatment, and your ability to go to work at this point is in doubt, both because you now lack transportation, and because you don't feel physically able to do so. Insurance adjusters are calling. What should you do? A good attorney can tell you. A good attorney will also find out many important things, such as: did police investigate? was the other party given a ticket? who is the other guy? is there insurance? is there enough insurance? Again, a good attorney will advise you about what to do, and find out the answers to all of these questions. You need to concentrate on getting better. Investigating these matters and spending hours on the telephone are the last things on the doctor's prescription pad for you.

Good attorneys can be found in many places. If you don't know anyone who has used an attorney for a personal injury matter, there is probably a local bar association referral service. If there isn't, or if they're not open and you want contact now, internet search engines will offer the names and website addresses of all types of attorneys, from single practice attorneys up to large firms. I encourage a good look at the lawyer's or the law firm's website: read about their experience and see if the website "speaks to you." I do not recommend telephone book ads to find a lawyer, nor do I recommend television ads, because really, they don't tell you much. Once you select an attorney or two or three to interview, don't jump without asking a lot of questions, no matter where the attorney's name came from.

The first call to the attorney's office.

You select an attorney and you want to call him or her. Pay attention to several things: Is the number you are calling advertised as 24 Hours? If so, who answers the call? Is it a tape? Is it the staff? Is it the attorney? Any may be acceptable, but clearly, you should be looking to talk to the attorney within a reasonable time if that first call doesn't get you connected to him or her. Next, should you call "off-hours", or wait until business hours Monday through Friday, 9 - 5? My feeling is that an attorney who practices personal injury law must recognize that potential clients are calling, often very traumatized, often very confused, and often in need of some good solid advice. Accordingly, that attorney should be available whenever the potential client calls. So you call, and you are generally pleased. The attorney sounded okay, and invites you to his or her office for an appointment. Before you go in, ask some questions:

How long has the attorney been in practice? You want someone with experience.

What percentage of the attorney's caseload involves handling personal injury matters? It should be over 50%.

Does the attorney regularly go to court and try cases involving personal injury matters? Yes is the only acceptable answer.

Is the attorney accessible? Get a commitment that you'll be able to speak to the attorney, if you want to, within a reasonable time, every time you want to. Promise to respect the attorney's off-hours privacy, but ask if the attorney will give you a home telephone number for emergencies.

Will you be kept informed of all significant developments? This means that you'll routinely get copies of important correspondence, and that you will be consulted before decisions beyond the mere routine occurs.

How money is handled? Don't be shy about asking about this!! This is the primary reason you are hiring an attorney. Think about it... The mechanic is going to fix your car. The doctor will get you back to good health... You'll certainly ask them questions... The attorney is the person who will help get you the money from the other guy's insurance company to pay for all of this!

The first meeting with the attorney.

You're satisfied and you agree to meet with the attorney you've called. At this meeting you should meet the attorney, talk with him or her for as long as you want, and the entire process should be explained to you. This includes explaining all of the possible insurance benefits available to you from all sources, including your own insurance company, and how and when such benefits are to be expected. It also means explaining, at least in summary fashion, the applicable law which governs your case. Different states have different laws which control "liability" issues and ultimately affect compensation. Ask your attorney if your state follows no-fault, comparative negligence, or contributory negligence principles.

At this first meeting, which is really the beginning of your case, your attorney CANNOT predict how much money you're going to get for your injuries. Nobody knows, at the early stages, how badly you are hurt, how much medical care you're going to need, how much time you might miss from work, or even the potential legal theories which might be available. Can you predict the final score of a baseball game in the first inning? IT IS RIDICULOUS FOR AN ATTORNEY TO ATTEMPT TO ESTIMATE HOW MUCH YOU'RE GOING TO GET AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CASE.

At the initial meeting a paralegal or other staff member may take "administrative" information from you. The attorney should explain the legal contract, or fee agreement, with you. Attorney's fees in this type of case are almost universally "contingent fees", which means the attorney only gets paid when the case is settled; that is, the fee is "contingent" upon resolution. Usually attorneys charge one-third of the recovery, and usually contracts of this sort detail a higher fee, perhaps 40 - 50%, if the case goes to trial. This is fair; because going to trial is a lot more work for the attorney, and involves the attorney taking on a lot more risk. Recognize that every "contingent fee" case an attorney takes on is a case where the attorney is working for free, and at great risk of getting nothing, until (and unless) the case resolves.

How the first meeting should end.

Your initial meeting with your attorney should conclude with you receiving a copy of the fee agreement, and with a very concrete list of things which should be set to happen.

1. You should have a list of things the attorney needs, such as a copy of your insurance policy, pay stubs, tax returns, photographs, etc.

2. Telephone calls should be made promptly for the resolution of the damage to your car. The two most typical scenarios are as follows:

a) The car is repairable. If it's in a tow-lot, plans should be set to get it out, as storage charges accrue quickly. Next, insurers should be notified of the location of the car, so an appraisal of damage can take place. If the insurers can be notified quickly, often they will move it out of the towing lot. In any event, discussion as to what's going to happen one way or the other should be presented to you.

b) The car is destroyed, or "totaled". If there is an outstanding loan on the car, you must supply the lender's name and account number to your attorney so they can contact them to discuss payoff. Again, insurers must be notified of the car's location, so it can be moved and they can appraise the value. You will have to sign over the title to the car, so be prepared to make it available quickly. If there's a loan, usually the lender has the title, or a part of the title.

3. Plans should be set for you to get alternate transportation. Any good personal injury attorney should be able to recommend a reputable rental car company.

4. Plans should be set for you to get "the right type" of medical care. This means, in most cases, that you should be treating with an orthopedic physician, a chiropractor, or a general practice physician who provides physical therapy services. If you don't have a family doctor who can refer you to "the right type" of doctor, or if you don't know someone who knows such a doctor, your attorney should be able to give you the names of several reputable physicians near where you live or work. It is essential that you receive medical care if you are hurt, and that you get this care as soon as possible. Medical study after medical study shows that individuals who start medical treatment later end up needing more medical treatment than they would have if they had begun that treatment soon after the trauma occurred.

a) Good personal injury attorneys have many medical "contacts". If needed, arrangements often can be made through your attorney allowing you to receive medical care without payment up front (or as you go). This is accomplished by a document called an "Assignment". Both you and your attorney sign this document, and thereby agree that the doctor will get paid at the end of your case, from the proceeds recovered. In this fashion, the doctor is satisfied, because of the attorney's reputation, that payment will probably be forthcoming. Your attorney should tell you that the signing of this document does not eliminate your responsibility for payment.

5. Your attorney should send out several letters within the first 24-48 hours after meeting with you. At a minimum, these letters are:

a) to insurers, advising you are now represented, and advising that all contact about your case should go through the attorney's office;

b) to medical care facilities, requesting records, reports and bills;

c) to the accident witnesses, asking for statements, or requesting appointments to review what they saw or what they know;

d) to the investigating police, requesting the accident report.

The "middle stages", where you get better.

Your attorney and his or her staff are now acting as both a "collection facility", gathering records and bills from medical care providers, and continuing as a shield, keeping the insurance company representatives away from you. I often have clients call me and ask me "how's my case going"? If case liability is not an issue, that is, if it's clear that the collision was "the other guy's" fault, and his/her insurance company has "accepted" responsibility, then my answer to the question is simply "fine, how are you feeling?" I say this because at that point, assuming we've "secured" the liability issue, all that remains is waiting for the client to get better.

A good personal injury attorney is able to review medical records and spot problems, either in the way the records are written (mistakes?), or in the overall medical course. I have called doctors when I have felt that certain diagnostic tests were questionable. I have called doctors when therapy seemed to be continuing endlessly without any improvement in my client's condition. I have called doctors when bills seemed out of line. Your attorney should be knowledgeable enough to do the same, and should have the gumption to do so if and when appropriate.

The ending stages: evaluation of the case, and the settlement process.


Having said that, there are a few notable exceptions. First, the "statute of limitations" provides a limit on how long you have to either settle your case or file a lawsuit if your case cannot be settled. So, if you are not medically resolved, but the statute of limitations date is approaching, your attorney should meet with you and explain your options. Next, in many cases the total amount of insurance funds available (policy limits) will not be enough to truly fully compensate you. Thus, no matter how badly you have been injured, no matter how much your medical bills are, the insurance coverage available simply won't be enough. Accordingly, the question presents as to whether it is reasonable to "settle" now, given that waiting will not produce any more funds for you. It may be reasonable to attempt to resolve the case, assuming all options have been explored, if this situation presents itself. Your attorney should explain your options.

Show me the money.

I recognize that most people do not voluntarily position themselves to be automobile accident victims. People generally don't get hurt just so they can collect. Please don't have misgivings about seeking money here. This isn't about getting rich. This isn't about fraud or trying to take advantage of the system. When an accident occurs and you are the victim, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling an entitlement to money. Our system of civil justice provides this, MONEY, as the only remedy. You are entitled to be compensated for medical expenses you incurred, for wages you lost, for mental and physical pain and suffering, for disfigurement, for aggravation, for inconvenience, for disrupting the quality of your life, and for more.

Any good personal injury lawyer will tell you his or her opinion concerning the value of your case, now that you have gotten to that "settlement-ready" posture. If they don't know, or have an opinion, what are they there for? Your attorney should set out several things in writing to you BEFORE going to the insurance company to discuss settlement. These are:

1. How much the attorney thinks your case is worth.

2. How much the attorney is going to demand. Clearly, in the upcoming process of discussion with the insurance adjuster, the attorney must have room to negotiate.

3. How much you owe in outstanding medical bills. This will affect the "net funds" you receive.

4. Whether there are liens against the proceeds of your settlement. Health insurance, worker's compensation, or a federal, state or local agency (Medicare, Medicaid) may have made some payments for your medical bills or to you for wages you lost. These groups may be entitled to be reimbursed. Again, this will affect the "net funds" you receive.

5. What options are available if settlement negotiations aren't successful.

Is the lawyer going to attempt to mediate? to arbitrate? to litigate? You should know what all of these options are, if they are available, and what the pluses and minuses are with each. AND THESE should be compared to the settlement possibilities. It should be pointed out to you that if you get 95% of what you want through settlement negotiation, it probably isn't a stellar idea to file a lawsuit, which forces delay, causes extra expense, and leaves the case unresolved.

6. Who is going to negotiate. I believe that if you hire an attorney, it is fine for the attorney to delegate non-legal, administrative matters to non-lawyer staff. On the other hand, I believe the attorney you hire should be the one who gets on the telephone and negotiates your case for you.

The very end, hopefully: a successful settlement.

Once the case is settled, the attorney should receive a check from the other party's insurance company. You should see this check. It should have your name on it as a payee. It's okay if it also has the attorney's name as a payee. You should sign the check. The attorney should present to you a document similar to what I call a "Settlement Memorandum". This document should detail the "money in" (the insurance check for settlement), and the "money out", that is, all of the things which are going to be paid from that check. These will include the attorney's fee, outstanding medical bills, any liens, and a "net" for you. The check should be placed into a special bank account which the attorney should have, called either an "escrow" account, or a "trust" account. This is an account where client funds are held, and attorneys are held to the highest of standards for the accounting of these bank accounts by attorney licensing authorities and bar associations. Routinely funds should be deposited immediately after the check is fully endorsed, and thereafter, funds should be disbursed within 5-10 days, the delay simply to allow the funds to "clear".

After care.

Your attorney should complete all legal matters relating to your case. This means sending payment for all outstanding medical bills and liens. This means providing you with a copy of all of the checks written for those purposes. You should also either be given copies of the important items in your file (medical records, for example), or your attorney should advise you that he or she will keep them for your future needs.

Some Final Thoughts.

Good luck to you. Please drive safely. Wear your seatbelt. Put your kids in car safety seats. Don't even think about drinking alcohol or using drugs and then getting behind the wheel. I hope you never get into an automobile collision. If you do, I hope you don't get hurt too badly. Remember to keep your perspective. Remember that you are more important than your car. Take your time with the legal matters ahead of you.

Inpatient Opioid Detox Center: Why Stop Taking Opioids?

Inpatient Opioid Detox Choices

When an addict is sick of using opioids, they sometime go to an inpatient opioid detox center to get off their medication. Families and patients are tired of the many problems that opioid addiction has caused including financial devastation, weigh loss, unemployment, and legal problems. The first impulse for those wanting treatment is to seek an opioid detox center and get off the drugs.

If you or a loved one is thinking about going to an opioid detox center for opioid detoxification, think again about this choice. Opioid detox usually leads to a relapse of narcotic addiction. Inpatient opioid detox does help relieve some of the symptoms of opioid withdrawals, but is remains a very uncomfortable process for most. Finally, there are other options available for the treatment of opioid addiction including opioid maintenance treatment.

Avoid Relapse By Going To an Opioid Detox Center

Opioid addiction is a severe illness and in some ways is very different from other drugs of abuse. The relapse rate over time for those with true opioid dependence can reach to over 90%. This means the odds are the majority of people with an opioid addiction will restart their addiction. Most do it within the first month or two of stopping the narcotic. The cycle of getting off and then restarting a narcotic addiction is demoralizing and physically exhausting. There are, however, some benefits of attending an opioid detox center.

The there are other services available in an inpatient detox. Psychologists and therapists will be available to help deal with emotional issues related to drug use. Social services can be very helpful in getting you set up with the needed aftercare appointments and counseling that will be needed. Finally, there are Physicians available to assess the physical status of the addict, see if there is a need for treatment of other mental health related issues, and they can review with you the medication options for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Getting On Opioid Maintenance While In The Hospital

Detoxification is not to only option while in the hospital and being treated for opioid dependence. There are a number of medication options. All the opioid centers will have available medications to ease the withdrawal process from opioids if one chooses to detox. They will have at their disposal other medications to treat depression, schizophrenia, bipolar illness, along with medication for detox form alcohol. If abstinence from opioids is wanted, then there is medication (Vivitrol) which can be started in pill form or a longer term injection that will stop any subsequent narcotics from working for several days to weeks. It is not a cure, but I is a deterrent from restarting opioid use impulsively.

The other medications mainly used are methadone, buprenorphine, and buprenorphine/naloxone (also known as Suboxone). The treatment center needs to be approved to begin methadone and this is less frequently done unless the center is part of a methadone maintenance program. Another choice is buprenorphine alone or buprenorphine/naloxone combination. These medication basically are a supervised form of dependence. While taking them one becomes dependent on them and will be required to see a physician for followup as well as continue counseling on an outpatient. There are many advantages to these medications.

It is very easy and fast to get started on methadone or buprenorphine in the hospitalization. Stabilization can be done in a few days for most. In fact, most of the time it is done as an outpatient. While on these medications addicts are more likely to have improved employment, more stability in their family life, and they are then able to work on reducing or quitting other drugs of abuse. For the moderated to severe opioid addict, maintenance treatment is becoming the best treatment choice.


Opioid dependence can be treated with abstinence or maintenance treatment. While in the hospital, both these options can be explored. With the advent of methadone, and more recently buprenorphine, maintenance treatment is becoming the treatment for choice by patients and doctors. Most opioid addicts do not do well without a narcotic and maintenance treatment helps prevent falling back into addictive patterns. These medications are easily started both as and outpatient an inpatient (for those needing closer supervision and immediate intervention.

Drug Detox Q&A - Opioid Pain Killers Actually Cause Pain, Say Researchers

Although it is widely accepted that taking opioid pain killers over extended periods of time can lead to "tolerance" -- needing more opioids to get the same pain relief -- there is a wealth of recent scientific evidence that opioid pain killers like OxyContin actually cause pain -- prolonging needless and excessive use of the drug, and leading to needless dependencies, addictions, and drug detox.

The standard medical view assumes that an increase in opioid dosage is sometimes required solely because of opioid tolerance. The opioid receptors in a patient's brain become less sensitive to the opioids over time, and larger doses are required to achieve the same stimulation of the receptors to produce enough endorphins to mask the pain.

For example, many patients in drug detox for opioid dependence who were originally prescribed 20 milligrams of OxyContin per day report that they eventually were being prescribed over 200 milligrams per day a year later -- but their pain was worse now than when they started taking the drug. And after a year or more on opioids, patients are nearly always dependent or addicted and wind up needing drug detox.

The new research does not question the reality of opioid tolerance, but rather reveals compelling evidence that a significant amount of the increased pain experienced by people taking opioids over time is actually caused by the opioids themselves -- not just because of tolerance to the drug.

Dr. Steve Gelfand, a board-certified rheumatologist with more than 30 years of experience in the field, wrote a letter to the FDA recently citing twenty-one separate articles and studies in the medical literature that point out the dangers of opioid treatment for pain, and the growing agreement among medical scientists that opioids actually increase pain.

A November, 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reported that "long-term use of opioids may also be associated with the development of abnormal sensitivity to pain." In the March, 2006 issue of Anesthesiology, a report stated that there is "evidence that opioids may cause hyperalgesia [heightened sensitivity to pain] and that this can negatively impact early pain outcomes."

In a 2006 issue of the Journal of Pain, Dr. Eriksen states that " is remarkable that opioid treatment of long term / chronic non-cancer pain does not seem to fulfill any of the key outcome opioid treatment goals: pain relief, improved quality of life and improved functional capacity."

In the May, 2007 issue of Pain Physician, Dr. J. C. Ballantyne made several key points:

There is no strong evidence supporting the long-term use of opioids for pain.

There is strong evidence of opioids increasing pain.

The idea that it is all right to increase opioid dosages when tolerance increases is in serious doubt.

Epidemiological studies are even less positive, and report failure of opioids to improve quality of life in chronic pain patients. (In fact, there is plenty of evidence that opioids are doing exactly the opposite - witness the number of people who are now living life as a drug addict and can't even stop taking the drugs without going through a drug detox program.)

And finally, in the February, 2008 issue of PAIN, the publication of the International Association For The Study of Pain, an article states that physicians should always consider opioid-induced pain sensitivity before increasing patients' dosage, because "increasing opioid dose may not always be the answer to ineffective opioid therapy, and under certain circumstances a smaller amount of opioid may lead to more effective pain reduction." Smaller amounts also may prevent addiction and the need for drug detox.

It seems clear that Big Pharma's interests in keeping people on opioids has finally found some important scientifically-supported professional opposition. We can only hope against hopes that the research reaches the right officials at the FDA. If it is broadly explained to the public that their painkillers are probably increasing their pain, and that alternatives to opioids exist, we might see fewer people needing a drug detox program to get their lives back.

Opioid Dependence and Withdrawal

A person is said to have physical opioid dependence if they have high 'tolerance' of opioids, meaning they need more of the opioid to get the desired effect. Opioid withdrawal symptoms occur when the substance is stopped. Most patients who seek treatment for opioid addiction also have some degree of physical dependence. However, physical opioid dependence alone is not sufficient to make a diagnosis of addiction. A person can be physically dependent - like a cancer patient might be when prescribed opioids for severe pain - and not be addicted. The term 'addiction' refers to certain behaviors.

What are the Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawal can occur in both the addicted patient and the patient who has opioid dependence but is not experiencing total opioid addiction. When an opioid is stopped or the dose is suddenly reduced, both types of patients experience withdrawal symptoms - sweating, chills, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness and insomnia. 'Goosebumps', which commonly occur during opioid withdrawal, give rise to the term 'cold turkey'. Fear of these unpleasant and painful opioid withdrawal symptoms makes it difficult for the addict to stop using and begin the recovery process.

Who is Prone to Develop Opioid Dependence?

Although the specific causes vary from person to person, scientists believe that our heredity (our DNA) is the major factor in an individual's susceptibility to the development of the disease of addiction. We also know that psychological factors (feeling stressed, anxious or depressed) and our social environment also play important roles in the development of opioid addiction. The unpleasant effects of opioid withdrawal lead many users to continue abusing prescription or illegal opioids, leading to prolonged dependence.

Opioid abuse has risen dramatically in the United States over the past ten years. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that more than 5.2 million Americans misused a prescription painkiller in 2008 for non-medical reasons. Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. are addicted to heroin today. About 1 out of 8 people (13% of the population) who are exposed to a mood-altering substance that can cause an intense euphoric effect (like alcohol, opioids and other drugs of abuse) are prone to develop the behaviors of addiction with repeated use.

What Happens to the Brain in Addiction?

Opioid addiction is a disease of the brain. Repeated use of an opioid leading to opioid dependence causes long-term changes in both the structure (the architecture of the brain) and the way the brain functions (the biochemistry of the brain).

The most important structural or architectural change takes place in the circuitry of the brain - particularly in the wiring of the reward pathway. Our brains are wired to ensure that we will repeat life-sustaining activities - such as drinking water and eating food - by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain records that experience making us likely to do it again. Memories that have an intense emotional component (like pleasure) may be permanently 'hard-wired'.

In the person with opioid dependence who is prone to opioid addiction, the excessive stimulation of the reward pathway by an opioid 'tricks' the brain into believing that an opioid is as necessary for survival as food and water. The effect of such a powerful reward motivates people to repeat that behavior again and again, even when it is clearly harmful to do so. This is why drug abuse is something the person prone to opioid addiction can learn to do very, very well.

Chemical changes also take place in the brain as it tries to adapt to the excessive stimulation of the reward pathway. During opioid dependence and opioid addiction, the brain tries to 'turn down the volume' and compensate for the vicious highs and lows that occur during repeated opioid use and opioid withdrawal by reducing the number of opioid receptors in the brain. This is what leads to tolerance in people with opioid addiction - more and more of the opioid is needed to achieve the same effect. The result is that eventually the addict may feel lifeless, depressed, and may be unable to enjoy activities that usually bring them pleasure. By the time most opioid addicts seek treatment they no longer get a euphoric effect from taking an opioid - they are taking opioids just to function normally.

To complicate matters further, the repeated use of an opioid has a profound impact on the intellectual portion of the human brain that is involved in judgment and decision making. Since this part of the brain is still developing in adolescence, opioid dependence leading to addiction which begins during the teen years is often more severe and more resistant to treatment. Unfortunately, the impairment in the thinking part of the brain - the part that serves as the 'brake pedal' for addiction - is so severe that the addict may flatly deny that they have a drug problem, try to justify their use to family and friends, or minimize the consequences of their behavior. A person with opioid addiction (and less often, opioid dependence) can find themselves saying or doing things they would never have believed themselves capable of - including lying to family members, stealing from loved ones, or even committing criminal acts - all in pursuit of the drug their brains are telling them they must have.

As a result of opioid dependence or opioid addiction, these changes in the structure and function of the brain result in powerful and long-lasting cravings for opioids. Cravings can last for months and even years after an addict has stopped using opioids, and has gone through the initial opioid withdrawal period. Persistent cravings explain why the relapse rate is so high with this disease. The need to satisfy cravings can be so intense that even people who try as hard as they can to remain abstinent find it difficult or impossible to do on their own.

Is Opioid Addiction Really a Disease?

Yes, opioid dependence can lead to opioid addiction, which is a chronic and progressive disease if untreated--just like heart disease, asthma and diabetes. These diseases have a lot in common with addiction--they are seen more frequently in those with a family history of the disease, they cause changes in the structure and function of a major organ system, they improve with behavior modification, they can be treated with medication, and they all require daily management. And like these other diseases, addiction is chronic - a condition for life, as there is no known cure. Fortunately, addiction can be managed, and a person suffering with opioid addiction can regain a healthy, productive life by seeking assistance with managed opioid withdrawal in an addiction treatment program.

The myth is that opioid addiction or opioid dependence is a result of poor will-power, a lack of self-control, or low moral standards. In reality, if it was that straightforward most people who are addicted would be able to stop using on their own. The changes in the structure and function of the brain are so powerful that stopping and remaining abstinent usually requires professional help.

How Serious is Opioid Dependence?

Opioid dependence is a behavior disorder that is potentially fatal. Sudden opioid withdrawal is an unpleasant experience, and many individuals continue to use opioids to avoid the negative physical effects. Individuals who use heroin intravenously are about 7 to 10 times more likely to die on any given day than someone of similar age who is not a user. Accidental overdoses are on the rise because the potency of street drugs like heroin are unpredictable from one dose to the next, and the potency continues to climb (7% purity in 1980 to 75% today). Overall, patients with opioid dependence die at a much higher rate than non-users from a number of medical complications. The incidence of Hepatitis C is on the rise due to the sharing of needles - even those that are supposedly 'recycled' and 'clean'. About 2% of those who are opioid-dependent die each year because they don't seek treatment or assistance for opioid withdrawal. The message here is that there is a good explanation for why we don't see a lot of old opioid addicts walking around.

What is Opioid Addiction?

To first understand opioid addiction, you must first understand what opioids are. The term opioid refers to any drug or chemical that attaches (like a key fits into a lock) to sites in the brain called opioid receptors. The human body makes its own opioids (called endorphins) but the opioids we are concerned with when we talk about opioid addiction are those that are manufactured in a laboratory or made by plants. For instance, morphine and codeine are found in the extract (the opium) of seeds from the poppy plant, and this opium is processed into heroin. Most prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone are synthesized in the laboratory. When a person becomes dependent upon these drugs, they need opioid addiction treatment.

What are Common Types of Opioids?

Opioids may be prescribed legally by doctors (for pain, cough suppression or opioid dependence) or they may be taken illegally for their mood-altering effects--euphoria, sedation, "to feel better", or for some, opioids are taken "just to feel normal". Not everyone who takes an opioid is at risk for dependence requiring opioid addiction treatment, but these drugs are commonly abused.

Examples of prescribed medications that sometimes lead to opioid addiction, but that can also help patients battle other types of substance abuse include:

  • Codeine--the opioid in Tylenol #3, Fiorinal or Fiorecet #3, and in some cough syrups.
  • Hydrocodone--the opioid in Vicodin, Lortab, and Lorcet.
  • Oxycodone--the opioid in Percodan, Percocet and OxyContin.
  • Hydromorphone--the opioid in Dilaudid.
  • Oxymorphone--the opioid in Opana.
  • Meperidine--the opioid in Demerol.
  • Morphine--the opioid in MS Contin, Kadian and MSIR.
  • Fentanyl--the opioid in Duragesic.
  • Tramadol--the opioid in Ultram.
  • Methadone--the opioid in Dolophine.
  • Buprenorphine--the opioid in Suboxone.

Although not entirely accurate, the terms opiate and narcotic are generally used interchangeably with the term opioid.

The great majority of illicitly used prescription opioids are not obtained from drug dealers. Family and friends are now the greatest source of illicit prescription opioids, and the majority of these opioids are obtained from one physician--not from "doctor shopping". More than 90% of the world's opium and heroin supply comes from Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. 'Black tar' heroin comes primarily from Mexico. Opioids are the most powerful known pain relievers, sometimes leading to opioid addiction requiring treatment. The use and abuse of opioids dates back to antiquity. The pain relieving and euphoric effects of opioids were known to Sumerians (4000 B.C.) and Egyptians (2000 B.C.).

What Happens When an Opioid is Taken?

When an opioid is taken into the body by any route (by mouth, nasally, smoking or injecting) it enters the blood stream and travels to the brain. When it attaches to an opioid receptor in the brain, our perception of pain is reduced (if we have pain) and we feel sedated. Most people also feel at least a mild pleasurable sensation, or a sense of well-being when opioid receptors are stimulated. Some report feeling more energized or motivated after taking opioids. A few experience unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting or irritability. Unfortunately, those who are prone to develop an opioid addiction seem to experience an intense euphoric or pleasurable feeling when they take an opioid - leading to prolonged dependence requiring opioid addiction treatment.

An opioid seems to do something for their mood that it does not do for most people. Their experience with an opioid is quite different than it is for the person who is not prone to develop an opioid addiction. Drugs of abuse (like opioids, cocaine and alcohol) are addictive for the susceptible person because repeated use of those substances--in an effort to reproduce that intense euphoric feeling--results in long-term changes in the structure and the function of the brain. These changes in the brain start to drive their behavior, and when someone is suffering from opioid addiction, they want the drug even when the drug no longer provides pleasure.

Opioids that can be snorted, inhaled or injected reach the brain in a high concentration rapidly and result in an even more intense high, or a "rush". As a result, drugs that can be abused by these routes are often more appealing to the person seeking euphoria, and are therefore more addictive for the susceptible person.

What is Opioid Dependence? Is it the Same as Opioid Addiction?

Yes - opioid dependence and opioid addiction mean the same thing. Opioid dependence is a disease affecting the brain that involves both a physical and a psychological need for an opioid, and requires opioid addiction treatment. An individual is considered "dependent" or "addicted" when he or she exhibits this behavior--compulsive use despite obvious harm. The addicted person can't seem to stop using opioids even when it is obvious to himself or herself and others that he or she should stop. The two major signs of opioid addiction are cravings--an intense and overwhelming desire for a drug--and a loss of control--it becomes harder and harder to say no to using a drug, or controlling the amount used, and thus use becomes compulsive. Behaviors which signal a need for opioid addiction treatment include:

  • Denial that a problem exists, or minimizing the severity of the problem.
  • Impaired control over use--using more than planned.
  • A lot of time is spent obtaining, using or recovering from using opioids.
  • Important obligations like school, work, or childcare are reduced for the sake of use.
  • Multiple prior unsuccessful attempts to quit, or a persistent desire to quit.
  • Continued use despite obvious harm to one's health, job, finances or family.

What is Physical Dependence?

A person is said to have "physical dependence" on opioids if they have high "tolerance", meaning more of the substance is needed to get the same effect, and they get withdrawal symptoms if the substance is stopped. Most patients who seek opioid addiction treatment also have some degree of physical dependence. However, physical dependence alone is not sufficient to make a diagnosis of addiction. A person can be physically dependent--such as a cancer patient might be who is prescribed opioids for severe pain--and not be addicted. Again, addiction refers to certain behaviors.

Patients who are being treated for chronic pain can develop what we call "pseudo addiction". They may start to exhibit some of the same behaviors we see with addiction when they don't get adequate pain relief. When their pain is controlled, the behaviors that we associate with opioid addiction disappear. They do not need opioid addiction treatment. They need better pain management.

Private Schools - What Types Are There?

You've made the decision to begin searching for a private school for your child. With 25 percent of all the elementary and secondary schools in the nation listed as private or independent, where do you begin? A good place to start is understanding the different types of private schools.

Independent vs Private Schools

Although "private school" and "independent school" are often used interchangeably the two are different. Usually a private school is part of a larger organization such as a church or religious community. In contrast an independent school is just that, independent of other organizations with its own board of governors or trustees. What they have in common, is that both are funded with tuition, fees and donations.

Private School Grade Levels

Most private schools are divided by grade levels. Students in kindergarten through grade five attend an elementary school, while those in grades six through eight go to a middle school. Junior high is a variation of that idea since is serves students in grades seven through nine. Private high schools are for students in grades nine through 12 or freshmen through seniors. College Prep are just that: schools with a heavy emphasis on academics which prepare a student to go to college.

Day Schools/Country Day Schools

Day or Country Day schools are private schools which students attend during the day and then go home at night. Usually Country Day Schools are located in the country or suburbs.

Boarding Schools

When many people think of a private school, they think of boarding schools. Although only one type of private school, boarding schools where students live in dorms or halls on campus, are the stereotypical independent school portrayed in movies or books. A residential school, where students live on campus Monday through Friday or all week long, these institutions offer students a highly structured day with set times for classes meals, athletics, study and recreation. Most American boarding schools are for students in high school. The con of going to a boarding school is being away from home and having the faculty and advisers making some daily decisions usually left to parents. Being away from home is also an argument for boarding school since it allows students to exert their independence and build confidence. Some parents also like the daily supervision their child will receive.

Special Needs Schools

Special needs private schools serve a wide range of students. Some are geared for those with learning or physical disabilities, while others focus on those with emotional needs. Still others offer students who are extremely bright an atmosphere where they can blossom or those who want to focus on one talent - a place where they can hone their ability. Searches for these types of institutions are very specific and should be done with the needs of your child in mind.

Single Sex / Coeducational Schools

At one time most private schools were single sex schools where boys went to school with boys girls went to school with girls. That has all changed. Most private schools are now co-educational with boys and girls going to school together. Some single sex schools remain and many parents and educators are again interested in this type of program, especially for older students. According to some educational experts the single sex school create opportunities that don't exist in the coed classrooms as long as teachers are trained to capitalize on the difference by employing strategies geared for girls in an all-girls school and those for boys in an all-boys school. Administrators and teachers both believe the major benefit of single sex schools is decreasing the distractions to learning with a corresponding increase in student achievement. Educational research has shown the benefits of single sex schools are greatest for at-risk students and some ethnic minorities. More modest benefits are realized for other students. In contrast many educators believe we live in a coed society and students need to learn how to interact with each other.

Military Schools

Is your child dreaming of a military career? Then one of the 30 military schools in the United States might be the perfect fit. This type of private school, which are primarily boarding schools for those in grades nine and up, focus on personal and team discipline along with academic curriculum and technology. Leadership and patriotism are emphasized at these selective private schools. Many include a JROTC or Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps and are a path to the country's military academies.

Religious or Parochial Private Schools

If you have a strong faith or want your child to receive religious instruction, a religious school might be the right choice. Religious schools are supported by one faith and usually teach the tenets, philosophy and practices of that religion. Generally they also offer a strong academic curriculum. Some religious schools are more relaxed, providing classes in world religion or philosophy instead of those about their faith. Others are stricter, requiring students and families to be members of the religion, signing a profession of faith and adherence to its religious practices and beliefs. Catholic schools are sometimes called parochial schools and are the most common type of religious school in the United States. But almost every faith has  religious schools in this country.

Montessori Schools

Based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori, a medical doctor and educator, this type of private school works to teach the whole child in classrooms filled with hands-on materials that stimulate students' senses and motor skills. Emphasizing multiple-intelligences, Montessori schools promote self-directed learning, independence and individuality. Students of various ages are mixed in classrooms with flexible, non-competitive environments and a lack of grades, rewards or punishments. Most Montessori programs in the U.S. are for elementary age children.

Waldorf Schools

Emphasizing discovery and imagination as a basis of learning, Waldorf schools were created by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and writer. Steiner's philosophy, anthroposophy, states that to understand the universe an individual must understand humanity first. Stressing music, art and language along with traditional subjects, Waldorf teachers encourage students' creativity in learning. Based in a roomy, homelike classroom with a teacher who has progressed through the grades with them, students may focus on one subject for as long as a month as they slowly learn all about it. Students often create their own toys and learning objects in this type of private school and are not graded on their work. Waldorf schools go from preschool through grade 12.

Will Private Schools Survive?

The surest way to improve public education in this country is to close down private schools. Invested parents, committed to having their children properly educated with manageable class sizes, innovative programs, inspired teachers, and up to date facilities, would storm the gates of the public schools demanding better instructional delivery. Given the current economic trends, and the growing challenges for parents to make overblown tuition payments, this reality just might come true.

It won't happen overnight, but more and more private schools, living at the margins of balancing budgets with tuition, are staring at stark decision-making about faculty, staff, and programs. Some private schools have placed a freeze on salaries, others have limited tuition increases to 2 percent, and even others have cut staff and part-time faculty. Professional development funds have dried up, school heads are scrambling to come up with inventive ways to raise revenue, and faculty face parents demanding to know that they are getting their money's worth in the classroom. Will private schools survive the current economic storm?

The answer is yes, but it won't be easy. As state budgets shrink, with California as the most extreme case, public school class sizes will balloon, up to as many as 40 per classroom in some areas. Budgets for "specials" like art and music will disappear, after school programs will no longer be able to absorb cost of care for working parents, and facility maintenance and improvement will fall into further disrepair without a strong boost from the gargantuan education stimulus package. President Obama has made the case for change.

He boldly stated that he did not come to Washington to continue with business as usual. These are strong words and have many Americans bracing with excitement at the possibility of a clear overhaul of education, health care, and even energy policy. However, it will take time, and for those families torn at the seams over whether to make their tuition payments for private school, the President's plans may be too slow in coming. That is good news for private schools.

The sacred cow for private school families is education. Some parents will risk going into foreclosure, just to make sure they can pay tuition for their children. These parents know what is on the other side, if they fail to keep their children in private school, especially in urban centers like Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco. President Obama has his daughters at the elite Sidwell Friends School, after all. DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee has decided to wage holy war on the public schools, and she has the moral support and good wishes of many, while at the same time infuriating the entrenched bureaucrats, who have driven public school policy into a 10 car pile-up for years. She simply will not stand for anything less than excellence.

In fact, her metric for determining acceptable classroom teaching rests right where many private school families stand - their children. As she cold calls on schools, and steps into classrooms to observe teaching, she asks herself whether she would want her own children in that classroom. If the answer is no, there is hell to pay for the teacher. Not surprising, then, that teachers' unions are up in arms. But, Chancellor Rhee is only doing what private school parents do every day - asking and demanding excellence in the classroom. Of course, Chancellor Rhee is not being asked to donate hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to help keep school running, but she is invested in the education of her own children and all of the children in the grossly under performing DC public schools.

Private schools have a unique opportunity to soar through the economic crisis. Because they are not bound by state standards, classroom teachers have a greater degree of flexibility with curriculum design. Many private school teachers are drawn to teach in this type of environment because they have freer reign to develop creative lessons. Private schools can also cultivate a niche, choosing to serve the needs of gifted learners, or emphasizing environmental stewardship.

Charter schools have this same freedom, which is why they are increasingly the school of choice in urban centers. Class sizes are smaller, and will remain so. Even if private school class sizes swell to account for budgetary woes, parents know that their children receive more individualized attention. At many private schools, parents are invited to participate in the life of the school in productive, meaningful ways, whether it is on school committees and task forces, or running book and math clubs for students.

Navigating the financial mess may prove to be more challenging for many private schools, especially for those schools that are primarily tuition-driven. Only the very few have the ridiculously high endowment numbers of Exeter and even those schools have witnessed a sharp decline in their endowment monies. Financial aid asks are up this year, particularly from current families, who previously did not have to put in a request for aid. Schools are being especially sensitive with these families, since many have been at the school for several years and have more than one child enrolled.

Auctions and annual funds will walk along a cliff this year, and many schools count on these additional dollars to balance budgets. To mitigate the rise in financial aid requests, coupled with the dip in auction and annual fund dollars, schools can take several steps. First, they can rebid all service contracts and construction projects. Contractors are desperate to keep their clients, and are more than willing to negotiate to maintain relationships. Second, schools can seek alternative sources of revenue, through developing summer camp programs, and renting out facilities for corporate meetings, weekend weddings, local athletic leagues, and clinics.

Third, schools can be prudent with budgets and curb classroom spending by modest amounts of 10-15 percent. Fourth, the time is right to move in a greener direction, through electronic mailings, and careful unplugging of machines and equipment at night, to stem electricity costs. Fifth, and perhaps most important, schools can systematize their communications to ensure that each family receives word about how their child is doing on a daily basis at school. Classroom teachers, specialists, administrators, and staff can and must coordinate their efforts to build even stronger connectivity with their families.

Private schools won't shut down tomorrow. Parents will still stretch to send their children into the outstretched arms of independent school education. Even Oprah Winfrey is on board, and has taken the leap with the start of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa. Private schools can stand apart from public schools, and with careful budgeting, smart messaging, and lasting personal connections, private schools can swim through the current financial waters and arrive safely on dry land.

Leaving a Private School? Consider Distance Learning

Schools can fail students just as much as a student can fail in school. Sometimes, for reasons ranging from teacher-student conflict, to issues with safety, a child simply does not "fit in" and succeed at a particular school. Most of the time, the solution often involves enrollment in a different school. What if the problem though is not the school, but the system and the approach in general? Parents often wrongly assume that paying for an education automatically translates to academic success.

What happens when the decision to attend private school backfires and a student does not succeed? Besides losing out on a significant amount of money, parents whose children have to transfer out of private school have to make a decision as to whether or not their child will now move on to public school, or find another alternative.

For most parents, the reason why they enrolled their child in a private school in the first place was because of the many benefits it offers, both in terms of a general education, as well as for the preparation it gives students who are looking to pursue their education beyond high school. So what is a parent to do? If private school is just not working out, do they have an equivalent option?

The answer to this question is a resounding "yes". There are in fact many advantages to attending a distance learning private school that make the change from a traditional private school not seem like such a huge transition. Regardless of the reasons for why a student has to transfer from a traditional private school, distance learning private schools can offer a student many benefits. To start, distance learning private schools have a curriculum that is aligned to state standards, meaning that the classes that a student will take while enrolled will be worth the same in the eyes of a college or university when compared to the classes at a traditional private school.

Distance learning private schools also offer their students something that a traditional private school would never offer - the opportunity to go to class when time allows them to. Scheduling is just one reason why transitioning to a distance learning private school from a traditional one. Additional benefits include no longer having to deal with many of the environmental conditions that plague traditional schools, public or private, such as safety and overcrowding.

Distance learning private schools also offer students the opportunity to receive one-on-one attention, a perk that might not be available at a traditional private school. Other benefits that can make transferring from a traditional private to a distance learning private school worthwhile include freedom from having to drive to and from school, self-paced studying and learning, a schedule that is very flexible, as well as the ability to attend classes regardless of the student's geographic location at the time.

Whether the reasons are economic or academic, having to leave a private school is often a difficult decision to make. However, with the option of attending distance learning private schools now being more viable than ever, students and parents who have to experience this transition now have an option that will not force them to compromise their education.

Why Private School? A Look at the Potential Benefits

The question of how to educate a child is one of the most important a parent can ask. A basic choice that many parents struggle with is that of public vs. private school. Parents do not want to take on unnecessary expenses if they will not ultimately benefit their child. After all, many public schools do an excellent job of educating students. But while it is true that public schools do not have tuition costs (and a private school can run, on average from 12,000 to 30,000 dollars a year), the benefits of a private education can still far outweigh the costs depending on the local options parents may face.

Students who attend private schools can be more academically challenged, exposed to clearer value systems, given greater access to teachers, and may simply feel safer than local public school options. If you do decide to pursue private schooling for your child, start the research process early. Admission to private schools can be competitive, and finding a school that is a perfect fit for your child where he or she will be also be accepted, may take some time.

A Higher Bar:

A major advantage to private education is that your child will likely be challenged to a higher academic standard. Private schools can be more academically rigorous than public schools, and private school students may have to meet more criteria to keep up their grade point averages. According to The Condition of Education 2001, from the National Center for Education Statistics, Private high schools typically have more demanding graduation requirements than do public high schools.

Compared with public schools, private schools required more coursework (in 4-year high school programs). More can be expected of private school students in terms of quality of work, course workload, and special requirements such as community service or Arts participation. In some schools, what would normally be considered extracurricular activities, are prerequisites for graduation, which ultimately round out students' high school experience. The push to meet this higher standard often results in a greater level of student performance. In a recent NAEP report it was found that, 'Students in private schools scored significantly above the national average in grades four, eight, and twelve.

As the report put it, 'Performance results in 2002 show that, at all three grades, students who attended nonpublic schools had higher average writing scores than students who attended public schools.' In general, a student given the opportunity to attend a private school will most likely reach a higher level of academic achievement.

Student Teacher Ratio:

Private schools also tend to focus on controlling their class sizes. The NCES Schools and Staffing Survey found that, 'Private high schools on average are less than half the size of public schools. In central cities, for example, the average size of a private high school is 398, compared to 1,083 for a public school.' Students of private schools may have more opportunities to form relationships with their teachers, which can lead them to greater academic success. In such cases, a student is given help for his or her specific academic problems, which can allow the issue to be resolved quickly and correctly.

Once any issues inhibiting a student's progress have been addressed, the child can go on to achieve at his or her highest level. In The Condition of Education 2002, it was found that, 'Placing students in small groups tends to foster close working relationships between teachers and students, thus enhancing learning, particularly among at-risk students and those in the early grades.'

Also, small classes allow the teachers to have a better sense of who your child is, and what his or her specific strengths and weaknesses are. Your child will also have more opportunities to speak up and participate in class discussions. In addition, students may be offered office hours during which the teacher will be available. Students who have worked closely with their teachers are less likely to feel intimidated about using such time to actively seek help from their teachers directly.

Exposure to the Arts:

Private schools have the ability to create their own curriculum. Although, they must ultimately prepare students with the same basic course as any other school, private schools also have the option to add various elements to their programs. Private school administrators often develop programs that emphasize the Arts, perhaps more so than local public schooling options.

Schools may choose to produce elaborate plays and musicals, giving students unique opportunities to explore their talents and express themselves. Government regulations on public schools prevent them from spending more than a certain percentage of school funds on the Arts. Private schools, however, are not subject to the same regulations, and they have more freedom to develop and expand these programs as they wish. Some private schools may even offer filmmaking or video production courses which are opportunities normally reserved for college students.

Potentially More Funds:

The tuition that you and the other parents of a private school contribute often will go toward developing and funding special programs that would be restricted in public schools. The school may be able to offer other activities such as special field trips that reinforce the school's curriculum. Such trips can give your child opportunities to form close friendships and build independence. The school may have more funds available to provide supplies to student-run clubs. The school also may create programs that better tie the arts or sciences into the overall general curriculum.

A Push Towards College:

Private high schools can instill their students with the expectation of attending college. Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, 'Fourth Follow-up' (NELS: 1988/2000) show that, 'Students who had attended private school in 8th grade were twice as likely as those who had attended public school to have completed a bachelor's or higher degree by their mid-20s (52 versus 26 percent) and far less likely to have had no postsecondary education.'

With college as a focus, students can be more goal oriented, and often elements of the schools curriculum will be specifically aimed at preparing your child for college. Many private schools are even referred to as 'college preparatory.' Private schools often encourage their students to take an active role in their own college admission process. Students may be given more access to information about college options, and they may be made more aware of the requirements they must fulfill to qualify for a specific school.

Community Service and a Sense of Values:

Private schools often put a major emphasis on personal values. When choosing a private school for your child, it is possible to find a school that incorporates a great deal of your own values into its everyday curriculum. Private schools often have honor codes and stricter behavioral standards that help students develop into mature adults.

According to The Condition of Education 2001 from the National Center for Education Statistics, 'At private schools, a greater percentage of children had parents who were very satisfied with order and discipline than with the school or teachers in 1999.' Parents are often given greater say in school policies at private schools.

Many private schools require that their students complete a mandatory number of community service hours. This not only provides the obvious benefit of instilling a sense of respect for the community and the importance of making a contribution to society, but it also happens to be something colleges especially favor. Students may also find possible career options while fulfilling this service requirement such as political involvement to aid the community or counseling for endangered teens. Community service experiences teach students that education goes beyond the walls of the school, and that it sometimes requires action and initiative.

Discipline and Safety:

Beyond the fact that smaller classrooms are by their very nature easier to control, most private schools put special emphasis on discipline. Even if your child does not have discipline problems, disruptive peers could take away from your child's valuable learning time. The Condition of Education 2002 states that, 'Private school teachers were more likely than public school teachers to say that they had a lot of influence on setting student performance standards (63 versus 38 percent) and on student discipline policy (48 versus 30 percent).'

The push for discipline in private schools teaches children self control, which will ultimately be a requirement in college where the student will be far more responsible for his or her own attendance, and achievement. Also, stricter disciplinary policies mean that any major problems will be handled and eradicated quickly. Typical crimes that plague public schools are less common at private schools. The School Crime and Safety Report found that, 'Students in public schools (37.3 percent) were more apt to see hate-related graffiti at school than their counterparts in private schools (16.8 percent).'

A Word About Teachers:

Because teachers at private schools are not required to earn the same certifications as public school teachers, some parents worry that the teachers are not as qualified. This is not necessarily true. Private schools must maintain their reputations and create positive word of mouth to survive. Toward this end, private schools are generally very selective about who they place in front of their students, and they choose educators with training specific to the subject they will be teaching.

A Community in Itself:

When you decide to enroll your child in a private school, your family becomes part of a network of families with the same goals. Parents at private schools are more involved in the lives of the students and various school events. As a parent, you may have the opportunity to connect with other parents to discuss the lives of your children. Such relationships allow parents to learn from each other and support each other.

The students also benefit from the community atmosphere of private schools. The very specific personalities of private schools often lead the students to have a strong sense of pride and loyalty to the school and its community. The student may also benefit from affiliation to the school far beyond graduation day. Many private schools have alumni mentoring programs that connect older alumni with newer ones. Recent graduates may find internship opportunities with alumni who have been working in their field of interest.

Every Family is Different:

Despite the numerous benefits of private schooling, it must be said that private school is not for every child. Some children would benefit from the diversity a public school can offer. Some parents would prefer their children to be more focused on the core subjects rather than the arts and extracurricular interests. And, of course, the financial burden that a private school brings is considerable. No student is exactly the same as another, and only a parent can know what the best option is for his or her child. Any child, whether in private or public school, will need the active participation of his or her parents in order to achieve true success.

School Choice:

The major advantage of private schooling is choice. Rather than sending your child to a public school that is required based on geography, now you have opened up a selection of several schools that may have very different educational styles and emphases, simply because you are deciding on private education. Every private school has a unique personality, and with a little research, certain schools will emerge from the pool as having more features than that will benefit your child.

Perhaps the school is affiliated with your family's religious faith, and your child can be given a religious education along with his or her core studies. Perhaps the school emphasizes writing, or it pushes self-expression. With the vast variety of private schools available, it is easy to select a school that will help your child to shine and develop the values you find most important.


No choice can guarantee that your child's formative years will go smoothly. Parents should always remain highly active participants in the education of their children. Still, in the interest of giving a student the most advantages and opportunities possible private school can be an attractive option.

Private schools can reduce worries about safety, increase a child's exposure to discipline, offer reduced class sizes, and offer a good environment for high academic achievement. In many cases, a private school can prove to be much more than that, providing a community environment for your family and special opportunities that your child would not have otherwise.

Dog Rescue - Is it Right for You?

Ever had a hankering for a certain breed of dog? Not an obsession, mind you - not the sort of longing that would send you rushing to a breeder, thousand-dollar-bill in your sweaty palm - but just a gentle appreciation for the virtues of the Poodle, Pug or Pyrenean Mastiff?

Let's say you have -- but you thought buying a purebred pup was a less-than-ideal use of your family's resources. If that's the case, it might be time to look up your local Dog Rescue organization! Dog Rescues are organized by breed, so prospective parents can sign up to be notified when new poodles or pugs come in.

What's the advantage of adopting a rescue dog, instead of a breeder pup? A rescue dog isn't always cheaper than the breeder's (though it usually is). The main difference is this: your money equals a new life for a dog that completely lost out on his first roll of the dice.

How do I adopt a Rescue Dog?

Dog rescue organizations are volunteer-driven, and loosely organized. Your best bet is to "Google" for the one nearest you, using the breed name. So poodle lovers can search for "Poodle Rescue" or "Poodle Rescue Florida," if they live down south.

Once you find an organization, you'll want to apply as an adoptive parent. This may involve a down payment. It also usually involves a form in which you describe your history of animal ownership, and supply references. You'll provide some information on your beliefs about dog discipline, your house and yard, and where you plan to keep your newest family member.

The dog rescue foster moms and will want to talk to you in person, too, to get a feel for your compatibility with their particular pup.

What will I pay for a Rescue Dog?

On average, you'll pay between $200 and $300. If you thought "rescue" adoption was cheap, this might seem like a lot, but the fact is it simply covers basic procedures to bring the animal back to health. Most dogs arrive at the Rescue with skin problems, tartar-coated teeth, out-of-date vaccinations, possible parasites and other issues.

How will a Rescue Dog differ from a breeder or pet store dog?

In a number of ways. Your new adoptee is likely to be:

Older. Few dogs are rescued as puppies. A few are 'adolescent.' The vast majority are middle-aged.

Cautious. Your adoptee may have a lot of fear and yes, grief, to process. If he felt like a part of his former family, he may be grieving his sudden "ejection." He may need time and patience to take an interest in food, play, or his general surroundings. If he was starved or kept isolated, he'll need time and patience to learn to socialize.

"Readable." Buying a puppy means taking a wild guess at the eventual adult. When you rescue a grown dog, you get a much better idea of his personality. It's easier to make the perfect match.

Am I the right type of owner for a Rescue Dog?

An important question! You, the owner, are the last and most crucial link in a chain. The chain's only purpose is provide a "happily-ever-after" for a dog that desperately deserves one. Can you be that happily-ever-after, even for a dog that may have some rough edges?

Ask yourself these questions:

- Do I really care what color the coat is, what sex it is or how many pounds it weighs?

If so, you really want a puppy from a breeder, not a rescue. Rescue dogs rarely conform to an exact type.

- Am I looking to save money?

You may not save money buying a rescued dog, even though the initial cost could be $700 or $800 less than from a breeder. Rescue dogs often need more medical care because of the abuse and neglect they suffered before.

- Is my life relatively stable and my household relatively quiet?

All abused creatures, whether dog or human, crave and need an unusually organized household. Many people can be good parents to a rescue dog. But perhaps the best potential parent of all is an older person or couple whose children are grown, and who has time and patience to devote to the dog's mental and physical healing.

- Can I provide regular medical care and regular grooming?

The deepest wish in the heart of the Dog Rescue folks is each of their dogs never has to go through another minute of hunger, discomfort or pain again.

When dogs are starved, they sometimes have incontinence problems that heal only slowly. They may need more regular teeth cleaning than a continually cared-for dog. Some need a house training refresher when former owners didn't bother. Most were never clipped or groomed, even in the non-shedding breeds. Do you have the time and resources to keep your dog totally safe and comfortable?

- Can I consider the need and adopt a boy rescue, or an older rescue?

For reasons not entirely clear, many potential adopters go for girl dogs. There's no logic to this: all rescue dogs are spayed or neutered, and boys are as intelligent, witty, loyal, well-behaved and loving as their female counterparts. Perhaps it's just that the rescue impulse leads us to think of "damsels in distress"!

At any rate, that adorable boy that needs a home really deserves your attention. Someone less educated might pass him by for reasons they don't fully understand.

The upshot is, a rescue dog can make the best pet you've ever had. He understands exactly what you're giving him, since he didn't have it before. Your newest family member will offer you an overabundance of loyalty for the rest of his days.

How can I help with Dog Rescues?

Dog Rescues are always looking for help. Of course, they need financial contributions, and kennel and medical supplies. They also need 'foster moms' who perform the difficult task of patiently rendering a dog adoptable, then giving it up to its final owner! So if you have skills in this area and want to help, contact the small and amazing group of volunteers that make up your local Dog Rescue.