5 Fun Ways To Spruce Up Your Deck, Patio, or Lawn

Houses with outdoor areas have increased value; however, many homeowners underutilize their decks, patios, and lawns. If you aren’t sure what to do with your exterior space, here are five ideas to give you inspiration.

1. Retractable Awning

Everyone loves having fun in the sun, but a little shade is swell as well! A cable suspended awning will give you the best of both worlds. These awnings come in a variety of materials and styles, and many are retractable. Installation is easy and available for decks, patios, pergolas, trellises, and more.

2. Potted Plants

Plants are a wonderful addition to any outdoor space. Flowers offer a variety of pleasant sensorial stimuli, including beautiful colors and delightful scents. Offer nectar-rich and seed-shedding plants to attract birds, butterflies, and bumblebees to your yard.

3. Sitting Area

Invest in some quality deck furniture. Wooden or wicker furniture gives off a rustic charm. For a modern approach, try metal furniture with easily removable cushions. Don’t forget the coffee table – you need somewhere to put your iced tea as you leisurely leaf through your current novel.

4. Fire Pit

Who doesn’t love freshly roasted marshmallows? A metal fire pit will make a simple yet unique addition to your patio. Your family and friends will love gathering around a cozy hearth during breezy summer evenings. Make sure to follow fire safety precautions. Never place a fire pit on a wooden surface.

5. Lawn Games

Classic lawn games are lots of fun! Bond with your family over a game of bocce ball. Host a garden party and let the croquet champion eat the last cupcake. When you are done with your festivities, store your frisbees, lawn darts, and cornhole sacks in a weatherproof cabinet so you are ready to enjoy them the next time you are outside with your loved ones.

The exterior of your home is just as important as its interior. You should enjoy it to its fullest potential. Keep these tips in mind as you create the outdoor oasis of your dreams.

HIPAA Compliance: Who Should be Concerned?

Staying compliant with every applicable rule and regulation implemented by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is not easy. Nevertheless, compliance is a legal requirement for all parties officially designated as covered entities, as well as their business associates. Before discussing how the covered entities are affected by HIPAA regulations, let’s first take a quick look at which parties qualify as covered entities.

Doctor, Medical, Medicine, Health, Stetoscope

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Who are the Covered Entities?

There are three broad classifications, under which all covered entities are enlisted automatically. These are as follows:

Health Plan Providers

Covered entities listed under the Health Plans section are health maintenance organizations (HMO), health insurance providers, employer’s health plans, and government-sponsored healthcare plans (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.).

Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers such as the following are common examples of covered entities, but they are not the only ones:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Chiropractors
  • Diagnostic clinics and healthcare clinics
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Pharmacies


The definition of a clearinghouse is not exact, but it would include any third party in charge of processing non-standardized patient data related to patients and insurance claims into standardized, checked and corrected information. They are the third and final type of covered entities on whom the HIPAA standards apply.

Who are the Business Associates?

All applicable business associates must also comply with the established HIPAA standards, but only through association. These would be the companies and individuals who gain access to patient records, as a mandatory part of the services which they provide to covered entities. Medical transcriptionists, cloud storage service providers, medical record keepers, CPA firms, attorneys, consultants, bill collection agencies and medical equipment manufacturers are just some of the common examples of business associates.

What are the Penalties for Noncompliance?

Failure to comply with applicable HIPAA regulations is one of the most common insurance company errors. Depending on the specifics of a particular case, a noncompliant party would face either civil penalties or criminal penalties. General reputation, prior records, circumstances, damages caused, etc., play important roles in deciding how the guilty party will be penalized.

Civil Penalties:

  • $100 per violation (capped at $25,000 max) if the party was aware/should have been aware of the HIPAA laws they have broken
  • Civil penalties can be avoided if the violations were not instances of willful neglect, and were corrected in 30 days or less

Criminal Penalties:

  • Minimum to maximum fines for criminal violations range between $50,000 – $250,000 (inflation rate adjustments might be applicable)
  • Compensating the affected patients and/or victims adequately may also be deemed mandatory, depending on the damages caused
  • Possible prison time, ranging from a few months to 10 years, depending on the violations’ nature and effect

It should be noted that all mentioned parties only become a covered entity after they partake in transmission and/or exchange of health records during interactions and transactions. However, an exception can be cited if the transaction in question is not covered by one of the established HIPAA standards. However, such instances are now quite rare, since HIPAA standards have grown over the years to cover almost everything.

4 Reasons Why Businesses Might Need to Outsource Legal Services

Over the past few years, more and more businesses have been looking to outsource legal work due to the increasing prices and fees for accessing in-house legal services. Today, it is almost impossible for any company to function without getting legal advice at some point, whether it’s regarding setting up the business, product and public liability, hiring employees, or something else. Outsourcing legal work allows companies of all sizes to save money on getting the legal services that they need from reputable professionals that they can trust. Here are some of the main advantages that businesses can benefit from when outsourcing legal services.

Outsource Legal Services

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Significant Savings:

One of the main reasons why an increasing number of businesses are looking to outsource legal services is that it can save a serious amount of money. Outsourcing means that your business does not have to pay the same as you would expect to pay for an in-house legal team, freeing up cash that can be used on improving other aspects of the business such as hiring more employees, marketing, or improving products. 

Round the Clock Support:

Unlike in-house legal counsel who probably won’t be available at any time of the day or night, outsourcing your company’s legal needs often means that you will be able to access legal support at any time of the day. No matter what kind of emergency situation you might find your business in at unsociable hours, legal companies are available with experienced attorneys who’re ready to help you as soon as you get in touch. 

More Flexibility:

Law firm outsourcing allows businesses to take advantage of a range of different firms, which in turn allows them to gain access to a tailored and wider-reaching service compared to hiring an in-house legal team. For example, outsourcing means that you can pay for the work that you need at the time, so if there are no legal problems for your business right now, you don’t have to continue paying full-time employees just in case anything goes wrong and you need them. Outsourcing gives you the flexibility to choose which firm is right for the moment based on the issue that you are experiencing and the kind of help that you need. 

Focus on the Business:

Last but not least, outsourcing your company’s legal services means that you can rest assured with access to legal help as and when you need it, freeing up your time to focus more on the mission and bottom line of your company. Rather than spending your time concerned about the legal aspects of your business, you can confidently leave that side of things to the professionals and invest your time and efforts into growing your brand, products, and/or services and building strong relationships with your customer base

Outsourcing legal services is definitely cost-effective for the majority of businesses, allowing them to save money on legal support and focus on business growth and development. To take advantage of all the benefits on offer, conduct thorough research before choosing a legal company to outsource to.

Building a Greener Future

Solar Panel Future

Once you recognize that global climate change is a real problem, the next hurdle is how to handle it. It’s a complex and global problem, so it can be hard to know where to even start. The answer is deceptively simple; if carbon in the air is creating the problem, then you need to stop putting carbon in the air, and that means green energy production. 

Green Energy

There has been a lot of discussion about green energy over the last few decades. Green solutions don’t stop with wind turbines in Pennsylvania or solar panel installation New Jersey. Carbon emissions come from more than coal-burning power plants; they come from cars, factories, and food production.

Carbon Capture

Even if all energy productions was magically green and sustainable tomorrow, that would not solve the problem of the carbon that has already been released into the atmosphere. It is essential to start taking carbon out of the air as well as reducing what we put in. Carbon capture is still relatively new, but it is promising. Many companies are looking at ways to remove carbon from the air and either store it away or find a way to repurpose it. 

Sustainable Production

The good news is that the best green solutions create more opportunities than they curtail. Carbon is a useful molecule when it isn’t trapped in the air as carbon dioxide. That’s why all life on Earth is carbon-based. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to turn that carbon into something useful instead of something deadly. 

There are no easy answers to the problem of climate change, but there are answers. It likely won’t be one solution, but many solutions working together that helps to resolve the impending climate disaster. The only question is will humanity move fast enough to save itself?

How Do You Get a Commercial Driver’s License?

If you intend to drive for a living, a commercial driver’s license is often a necessity. If you lose your license, you could also lose your livelihood, which is why CDL driver protection plans may be a good idea. However, before you can protect your CDL, you have to have one in the first place.

Because a CDL is such a big responsibility, there are several steps you need to take to obtain one.

Commercial Driver's License

1. Determine the Class of CDL

Different types of vehicles require different classes of CDL. For example, there are different classes for tractor trailers, tank trucks, and school buses. The kind of driving you want to do and the type of vehicle you want to operate determines the CDL you need to get, so give some thought to this before attempting to get the license.

2. Get the CDL Manual

The CDL manual explains all the rules that commercial drivers must abide by. This resource is what you need to pass your knowledge tests to get the commercial license permit so you can start practicing on real trucks. Be sure you get the relevant CDL manual because it is different in every state.

3. Enroll in Training

An accredited training program provides both theoretical instruction and practical driving experience to qualify you to get your CDL. Some programs require you to have your commercial learner’s permit first, so be sure to check this before enrolling. In certain programs, obtaining the CLP is part of the curriculum, so you may not always have to have it going in. In either case, you should find out before you enroll to avoid confusion.

4. Obtain Medical Qualification

Driving a large commercial vehicle is physically demanding. You need to be able to demonstrate that you meet the necessary medical qualifications. The requirements for this vary by state.

The process of obtaining a CDL can take a while. You have to be patient.