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I’m Glad I Was Forced to Take a Paternity Test

This isn’t the article I thought I’d be writing. I was sure I’d be writing one about how glad I was to be in the clear, to be free of the fear I’d fathered a child. I was confident until a month ago that I was still a free man, free of all my responsibilities, free to go wherever I wanted, to do whatever I wanted, to be whoever I wanted.

That was what the article would have been, a joyous claim of my freedom once I was vindicated after taking a paternity test required by my ex-girlfriend. I just couldn’t imagine this kid she had had was mine. After all, our relationship was brief—only a few weeks—and we were careful, for the most part. Perhaps a few mistakes were made, but it was very few. I was her rebound relationship, and I just assumed it must be the other guy (who she’s on bad terms with, unlike me (our breakup was amicable)), and that’s why she wanted to press this responsibility on me.

I thought that’s what I’d be writing. Instead, I’m writing that I’m a father, and I’m also writing that I couldn’t be more thrilled! I never thought that’d be the case. For those who don’t know, a paternity test is a DNA test to see if you match with a child that you aren’t sure is yours. I took the test willingly enough, confident it would exonerate me of any responsibility, so you can imagine my first reaction when I heard otherwise.

Shock isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.

But after that, once I started thinking, and once I got to see the little guy up close, I saw how silly I’d been to assume the kid wasn’t mine. He’s got my nose, after all. And he’s got my smile too, though he doesn’t really know how to smile yet.

My ex- has been very good about the whole thing, I have to say. She was patient with my denials and understanding when I started to come back around.

There’s still tons to sort out now. There are custody issues and child support, and all kinds of things I never imagined I’d be dealing with, but even with those new responsibilities, I just can’t help but feel thrilled by the whole thing. Suddenly, that free life I had feels really empty and meaningless. What was I going to do with all that freedom but sit around and feel good about having options? I have fewer options now, true, but I’ve got more to look forward to every weekend. For now, that’s when I get to visit the little guy most often.

I know this isn’t the most common story in the world when there’s a paternity test involved. I always assumed the results would look more like one of those talk shows where everyone gets into fistfights. I didn’t think they could lead to so much positivity. Shows what I knew, right?

Oak Wilt and Caring for Your Trees

If you have ever visited East Texas, you will find that it does not quite fit the traditional Texas stereotype of open fields and ranches. Quite the contrary, East Texas is extremely forested and is famous for its huge, towering oak trees. Oaks are strong, hardy trees that can provide decades of shade, and their trunks make for excellent firewood. Unfortunately, these mighty trees are disappearing at an alarming rate due to a fungal disease called oak wilt.

According to texasoakwilt.org, a website specifically focused on educating the public about this deadly disease, oak wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. This fungus disrupts the tree’s ability to pull water from the soil and eventually causes its death. Red oaks, such as the Spanish Oak and Water Oak which are common in Texas, are particularly susceptible to the disease. The fungus is spread primarily through insects that feed on tree sap. The fungal mats that form give off a fruity aroma that the insects are attracted to, and they then spread the fungal spores to other trees. The fungus can also be spread through the roots of the trees, so if one tree in a cluster is infected, it is likely that the surrounding trees will be affected as well. Humans are also responsible for the spread of oak wilt by moving the infected wood to other locations, which is why learning to identify the disease is so important. Unfortunately, there is no perfect cure for the disease. Although antifungals can be used on trees to curb the effects of the disease and extend their lives, this is only a short term solution. Efforts aimed at eradicating this disease focus on prevention and the removal of infected trees. If an infected tree is in the immediate vicinity of others, some healthy-looking trees may also be removed if their roots are too close together or interconnected.

As a homeowner in Texas, there is a strong probability that you have an oak tree somewhere on your property. Even past central Texas and into the hill country, large oak trees are commonly placed on properties to provide shade. If you suspect your trees might be afflicted with oak blight, or if you have already lost one, then the first step will be to call Austin tree care professionals who can advise you on how to prevent the further spread of the disease. Without treating the fungus, more and more trees will continue to die.

The beautiful oak trees in Texas are in serious danger, and everyone should know about oak wilt and how to prevent its spread. Pruning your oak trees can make them vulnerable to insects that carry the diseases, so make sure to only prune in the winter time, or else cover the wounds with paint to protect your trees. If you a tree on your property dies due to oak wilt, take great that the firewood is transported safely so that other trees are not affected. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Dusts in Hazardous Workplaces

No matter where you work, you are not entirely safe from accidents, injuries, and illnesses. But it can be argued that some workplaces are more dangerous compared to others, like how manufacturing plants present more risk for lung and skin problems compared to office buildings, due to the increased chance of dust exposure.

Here are just some of the different kinds of hazardous dusts and particulates. The presence of these will depend on the industry, materials used, and techniques practiced:

  • Agriculture and Farming – Those in the agricultural and farming sectors may be exposed to organic dusts, such as those from animal wastes and crops, and other dusts that may result from processes like harvesting, planting, and weeding.
  • Carpentry – Carpenters are particularly vulnerable to wood dusts, especially on carpentry processes such as cutting, sanding, and scraping.
  • Construction – Construction workers may be exposed to asbestos, especially in renovating and demolishing old buildings that have utilized the material. Dusts from cement should also not be overlooked.
  • Manufacturing – Manufacturing plant workers are exposed to a variety of particles, including metal cuttings, oil mists, and welding fumes.
  • Mining and Quarrying – Workers in these industries are at risk of mineral dusts, such as those from coal and silica. They are particularly vulnerable to these dusts during extraction and processing.
  • Textile – Those in textile processing are also vulnerable to dusts, such as those from cotton, leather, and wool.

There are certain solutions to minimize the risk of dust exposure. For instance, RoboVent has ventilation systems that effectively filter dusts in manufacturing plants. Solutions can also be as simple as wearing the appropriate gear to avoid direct exposure and maintaining the premises to avoid dust buildup. The key is for the employer and employee to acknowledge that the risk of dust exposure is real and it needs an immediate solution.

Not giving particular importance to clean air in the workplace may result into a variety of illnesses, depending on the industry. These illnesses often involve internal complications, such as respiratory problems and even cancers.

The Worst Drunk Driving Accidents

The Worst Drunk Driving Accidents

Drinking and driving never go together. If they do, an accident may occur. Driving requires physical and mental functions, but these functions can be impaired because of alcohol. Physically, the driver will have limited coordination between his eyes and hands, which are essential body parts in safe driving. He may lose control of the vehicle, swerve into oncoming traffic, weave through a different lane, or veer off the road.

He will also have trouble in comprehending traffic signals and lights, potentially leading to right-of-way accidents, and in judging the positions and distances of other vehicles and pedestrians, which may result into devastating collisions.

The worst drunk driving accidents occur because of someone else’s fault, like when someone else has been careless, reckless, or negligent. The only positive thing about this is the fact that the victims can get compensation for the damages, such as for the medical bills and other injury-related expenses.

According to the website of Ravid & Associates, P.C., drunk driving accident victims have three avenues to seek compensation for their injuries. These are:

  • Driving under the influence – action against the drunk driver
  • Dram shop – action against the bar or restaurant owner serving alcohol to the intoxicated person
  • Social host liability – action against a private party or individual furnishing alcohol to the intoxicated person

Negligence is a major factor in these avenues. Drunk drivers may lose control and crash into your vehicle. Bars who fail to limit their customer’s alcohol intake may indirectly cause accidents. The same can be said to individuals who recklessly supply alcohol to you.

Even though the law will hear the voices of the victims, it is important for the victims to make the effort of avoiding drunk driving accidents as well. They should limit their drinking, or better, avoid drinking altogether. If you are planning on drinking, do not even consider driving. Use other modes of transportation or designate a driver that will take you home, instead of risking yourself and the others around you.

You don’t want to get involve in drunk driving accidents, where you can sustain serious traumatic injuries if the collisions are forceful enough. On the worst cases, the victims even end up dead.

Common Issues with Overtime

Common Issues with Overtime

You have sacrificed a lot of things for your job. Maybe you have sacrificed too much, such as your health, family and friends, and extra time for recreation. The last thing you want is to not get the fruits of this sacrifice – overtime pay.

There are several reasons why you don’t get the overtime pay you rightfully deserve. Whatever those reasons are, they leave you with more work and stress, less pay, time, and respect.

One of the most common arguments employers bring up to avoid paying for overtime is that the employee claiming overtime pay is salaried. Though it is true that there are employees who are not eligible to overtime pay, such as executives, most employees have the right to be paid when working overtime.

Another employment issue arises when you are ineligible to overtime pay but have suddenly become eligible, maybe because of an elevation in employment status. Your employer may not pay you your rightfully deserved extra pay because you are misclassified. But this is on the management, and recovering unpaid overtime is possible.

Employers will really do everything they can to prevent extra operation costs from overtime pays and maximize productivity. This ensures that they are bringing more money in and less money out. They may try operations and management tricks to get around overtime payments.

These employers may give their workers off-the-clock tasks. They may call for meetings, ask employees to clean safety equipment, or worse, they may even assign paper works to be done at home. Since these tasks can technically be out of working hours, the employers are basically getting free work from their employees. Even simple tasks, such as traveling into job sites with no computed pay, can serve as loopholes that employers can exploit.

There are more blatant techniques to avoid paying for overtime. Employers may require overtime to be approved before they make it official. This becomes a problem when no manager or supervisor is there to approve the overtime, yet the overtime is necessary because of deadlines and productivity issues.

The key to fight unpaid overtime is knowing your rights and being aware of the techniques that employers can do to get work from you without you getting paid, such as those mentioned above.