What Costs Do Mesothelioma Settlements Cover?

What Costs Do Mesothelioma Settlements Cover?

If you’re thinking of pursuing a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit, you should know what costs these settlements generally cover. This will help you keep better records and increase the likelihood you’ll receive compensation for all out-of-pocket costs you incur as a result of your disease.

Typical Costs Covered

Most settlements cover all medical costs resulting from mesothelioma diagnoses. This includes the medical costs of getting the diagnosis itself, which can sometimes be extensive. Travel costs incurred getting to and from medical treatments are typically included as well as the costs of home health aides, self-paid health insurance premiums and alternative therapies for symptom relief. 

Settlement Awards Over and Above Costs

It is not unusual for mesothelioma settlements to include consideration for wages lost due to time away from work as well as interest from increased debt accumulated. Many settlements also include punitive damages, which are additional monies intended to compensate claimants for pain and suffering and punish defendants when their behaviors are considered especially harmful.

Average Settlement Amounts

Mesothelioma settlements generally range from $1M to $1.4M and have been increasing over the past decades. Many factors affect settlement amounts. Competent mesothelioma attorneys can help you understand which factors may impact your claim. Your actual out-of-pocket expenses will be considered as well as factors such as the defending company’s level of negligence, your asbestos exposure duration, your diagnosis and your prognosis. Other elements that may have multiplying or limiting factors on a potential settlement amount are the number of defendants involved in your claim and possible caps on settlement awards for the state in which you file.

Tax Implications

Though awards directly related to medical costs are not generally taxable, monies awarded for lost wages and punitive damages usually are. It is important for you to consider the tax implications, especially when working with an attorney on a contingency fee basis. Attorney’s contingency fees are generally a third of your full settlement amount, so you will need to pay taxes on the full taxable amount after your attorney contingency is paid and after you’ve reimbursed the law firm for the legal costs it fronted to pursue the claim.

Though it is generally in your best interest to pursue a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit to receive relief for your medical costs, it is important to seek competent counsel to review your specific case and ensure the monies you are seeking not only cover your medical costs but are sufficient to cover the attorney’s contingency fee, legal expenses and any owed taxes.

Looking For High-Quality Oil? Choose Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Looking For High-Quality Oil? Choose Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Like wine, there are many varieties of olive oil. Unique in taste and smell, each olive oil enhances a culinary experience in different ways. While variety is the proverbial spice of life, it can also make choosing an oil potentially daunting. Many people believe that a high price tag equates to high quality. Similarly, people may think that the Mediterranean area produces the highest-quality oils. However, for high-quality oil, choose Texas olive oil! With sprawling orchards and friendly tasting rooms, Texas is a hotspot for pure, high-quality olive oil. Texas Hill Country Olive Co. leads the pack for local high-quality olive oil. Below, experts weigh in on how to select high-quality Texas olive oil.

Consider Packaging

When physically inspecting a potential olive oil purchase, consider its packaging. While fun labels are eye-catching, the makeup of the actual bottle is the most important facet. High-quality olive oil will be sold in glass bottles. They should feature a dark tint and relatively low transparency. This is done to protect the olive oil from sun exposure and heat. If exposed to too much light, air, and heat, the olive oil could go rancid. 

This preference for dark stained glass doesn’t mean that all olive oil packaged in clear glass bottles is subpar. If packaged in transparent glass bottles, the olive oil should then be kept inside a box to protect it from the elements. After purchase, make sure to keep this type of olive oil inside the cardboard packaging when not in use to maintain protection.

In addition to inspecting the bottle’s transparency, the experts at Texas Hill Country Olive Co. recommend inspecting other elements. They recommend checking the bottle for leaks, or any drips forming at the cap. This could be indicative of manufacturing issues, or a tampered seal. Additionally, look for dust on the bottle, and a visible orange tint to the oil. This can be indicative of a compromised manufacturing process, or other issues.

Choose EVOO

A trendy abbreviation amongst foodies, EVOO stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Amongst chefs and home cooks alike, it is the golden standard for high-quality oil. EVOO is typically less processed than others, and higher in quality. When olive oil is highly processed, precious flavor and aroma molecules are destroyed in the process. Due to robust natural conditions, Texas olive oil can be extracted manually. This eliminates the need for any added chemicals or solvents, allowing for pure EVOO production.

Texas Hill Country Olive Co.’s lineup of high-quality Texas olive oil includes a line of infused oils. Though these oils cannot be labeled as “extra virgin” due to the infusion process, they start at high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Infused olive oils can be very high quality, though they cannot be labeled as EVOO. Consider this when selecting infused oils. Otherwise, stick with EVOO.

Don’t Focus On Color

Some people believe that olive oil that is green is of the best quality. This perception only reigns true when the oil is freshly pressed. As soon as the oil is bottled, it turns golden in color. Thus, the presence of a visibly green olive oil can indicate that dyes were added. Additionally, there can be a wide variety in the coloring of high-quality Texas olive oils, based on inclusions, origins of olives, and even harvest timing. Experts agree that EVOOs can vary in color from pale yellow to green. The experts at Texas Hill Country Olive Co. remind buyers that the only color to look for is orange, which can be indicative of rancid or tampered oil.

Value Transparency

Wine is often considered more desirable with age. Conversely, high-quality olive oil should be fresh. In order to ensure freshness, look for packaging that indicates information related to the respective oil’s production. Texas Hill Country Olive Co. experts report that most high-quality olive oils feature a “best by” date. When kept in proper condition, this date estimates the range of time during which the respective oil will be at its peak. By adding this date, manufacturers put their stamp of freshness on the product. Without any indication of such a date, buyers could potentially be picking up oils that have surpassed their freshest date range.

Similarly, many high-quality olive oils feature a “harvest date” or “pressed date”, indicating the exact date that the olive oil was manufactured. This transparency adds a degree of confidence for buyers, presenting them with the information needed to make an informed choice. Many trusted local manufacturers also include information about the variety of olive used, the estate where olives are harvested, and other valuable information. If origins are easy to trace back to the olive, the olive oil is likely to be high-quality. Many Texas olive oil manufacturers adhere to this full transparency, believing in the value of building trust with local and national consumers. 

The Bottom Line on Texas Olive Oil

Though there are many varying flavor profiles and inclusions available in the realm of olive oil, choosing a high-quality olive oil focuses on freshness, manufacturing, and transparency. Much like choosing other food products, consumer education is at the heart of selecting high-quality olive oil. Sure, the Mediterranean is known for its excellent olive oil. However, Texas olive oil can provide connoisseurs with the same high-quality olive oils, without the trans-Atlantic trip. A long import process can render Mediterranean olive oil not-so-fresh upon arrival, making locally sourced olive oil a no-brainer.

Texas olive oil orchard

Texas Hill Country Olive Co., the Lonestar State’s premier olive oil manufacturer, reminds buyers to inspect the packaging. These experts also remind buyers to value transparency, noting that trusted local manufacturers are eager to share the origin stories of their products! In fact, many local purveyors encourage tastings, giving buyers a firsthand taste experience prior to purchase. With complete transparency, the ability to ask questions, and the ability to witness the process in action, local purveyors instill confidence in novice EVOO buyers. For those on the prowl for high-quality olive oil, choose Texas olive oil!

Jack Plotkin, Former Goldman Sach Banker, on Value vs Growth Stocks

Jack Plotkin, Former Goldman Sach Banker, on Value vs Growth Stocks

Talking about investment styles almost always culminates in the age-old debate around growth or value, and which is the most profitable. Many analyses of investing approaches rest on the inherent duality – or perhaps dichotomy – between the two. Investment managers are often firm believers in one or the other and rarely a mix of both or somewhere in between. Jack Plotkin, a former investment banking strategist with Goldman Sachs, describes the differences between value and growth stocks and why one would choose one over the other.

Growth stocks are those that the investing public believes can outperform the market because of their potential for growth over a period of time. For that to happen, a company either has to have a product or a line of products that are expected to do well on the market, or it appears to be run better than their competitors. “It’s in the name,” says Plotkin. “Growth stocks are growing quickly, meaning the underlying companies are ramping up revenues, grabbing markets, innovating products. We see growth in rapidly evolving sectors, like cloud technology, digital entertainment, and biotech.”

Value stocks, on the other hand, are those that analysts feel have been undervalued by the market, being traded at the prices below their intrinsic worth based on fundamental ratios and benchmarks. Jack Plotkin, who worked at Goldman Sachs for nearly a decade, notes that those are usually larger, mature companies that either have a slow anticipated growth trajectory or have fallen out of favor. They may have reached critical mass or are part of a low growth industry. Still, value managers are ready to bet that the market has overestimated the severity of their setbacks and that they will bounce back. “Value stocks tend to be in sleepier industries, like utilities and consumer staples, and they tend to throw off a dividend,” says Plotkin. “Value stocks is what growth stocks typically turn into once their industry matures and settles down into more predictable financial patterns.”

Growth vs. Value; two sides of the same coin

Jack Plotkin notes that growth and value are two opposing poles of the investment world. Growth stocks generally have high price-to-earnings multiples because investors expect explosive growth moving forward and are willing to pay a premium for that anticipated growth. By contrast, value stocks have low price multiples that reflect their slower growth trajectories and that may be representative of an undervaluing by the broader market.

In addition, growth stocks are usually linked to higher volatility as they depend more on the overall health of the economy. “It’s like the tortoise and the hare,” says Plotkin. “The hare generates all that excitement, but the hare is unpredictable and therefore risky. That’s your growth stock. By contrast, the tortoise is slow and steady, it has done this a hundred times before and will do it a hundred times again. It’s not as fast, not as sexy, but it’s more of a sure thing. That’s a value stock.”

If an investor cares about stability, in terms of both appreciation and dividends, value stocks are a safer bet. By the same token, growth stocks provide the best opportunity to quickly realize a significant gain. “A growth stock can appreciate in six months as much as a value stock appreciates in six years,” says Plotkin. “But it can also lose more in six months than a value stock ever does. That’s your trade-off, in a nutshell.”

The performance difference

As far as comparative performance, growth stocks tend to do better during economic expansion while value stocks perform better during recessions. “Buy growth for the upside, value for the resilience,” says Plotkin. “Also consider your time horizon. Value does better over multiple decades, but growth can be a rocket over 5-year horizons if you time it well. But these are just rules of thumb. I can show you winners and losers in both value and growth over any time horizon.”

Jack Plotkin Goldman

In recent times, growth has outperformed value. Over the first half of 2020, Morningstar U.S. Growth and U.S. Value indices have had contrasting returns, namely a 14.9% gain versus a 18.5% decline. This highlights a paradigm shift, whereby a pandemic-induced crisis upended conventional wisdom as growth stocks, powered by tech giants who had little or no issues with lockdowns, easily shook off the March losses. Value stocks, on the other hand, took a fall as many traditional industries sharply declined as a result of the virus. Even over longer terms, growth stocks have been doing better even over a longer term. One study, conducted over the last 25 years by UK-based Brewin Dolphin, has shown growth beating value by a 1,072 to 624 score in terms of percentage return.

“The problem with historical analyses is that they are not always the best predictor of future returns,” says Plotkin. “Growth has outperformed value over the last couple decades, in part because you had two massive bull markets and tech booms, first with the internet and then again with mobile. Moving forward we may well be staring into the teeth of a protracted downturn and value might do better than expected.”

Jack Plotkin and the bottom line

In general, investors tend to be drawn toward either value or growth. Some people like the risk and thrill of trying to pick the next star in an emerging industry while others prefer the certainty of steady growth and consistent dividends. “The most accomplished investors know how to pair growth and value strategies for a balanced portfolio and strong returns across the range of market conditions,” says Plotkin. “It’s the equivalent of being ambidextrous. Regardless of the volley the market sends your way, you can take it on either the backhand or the forehand.”

Going Vegan!: A Life Choice Inspired by Clean Meat Advocate Paul Shapiro

Going Vegan!: A Life Choice Inspired by Clean Meat Advocate Paul Shapiro

Throughout the majority of my adult life, I’ve considered myself a pretty healthy eater, with an average penchant for at-home cooking. I’ve dabbled in the occasional meal prepping trends. I’ve even purchased a Slow Cooker or two. Simultaneously, I’ve also considered myself fairly aware of the proverbial behind-the-scenes processes in the food industry. I’ve read up on mislabeling of products, and have made various alterations to my diet based on my findings. After following clean meat and sustainability advocate Paul Shapiro for a while, I decided to plunge into veganism. Shapiro’s informative book, “Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World” lit the spark for this transformative change.

Paul Shapiro Breakfast

How To Quit Meat

I’ve always wrestled with the strain that the traditional meat manufacturing industry places on the environment at large. I’ve adhered to multiple “Meatless Monday” victories. However, it never lasted long. The lack of tasty meat-alternatives on the market left meals lackluster. Simultaneously, my own knowledge of vegan-friendly recipes was very limited. Inspired by Shapiro, himself a long-time vegan, I swiftly found a plethora of resources to resolve these issues.

A quick internet search provided me with easy vegan-friendly recipes, ingredient substitutions, and creative ideas. A trip to the grocery store showcased the ever-growing meat-alternative section. With so many vegan-friendly offerings of frozen foods, meat alternatives, and tofu products, I found the selections to be wholesome.

What Is Clean Meat According to Paul Shapiro?

Paul Shapiro’s prolific book explores the burgeoning efforts to commercialize the clean meat movement. Unlike meat-alternatives, clean meat is real meat grown in a laboratory setting from animal cells. The process of growing (or brewing) clean meat eliminates the need for traditional meat farming of animals. Paul Shapiro has purported that “clean meat is not an alternative to meat. It is actual meat that is grown from animal cells. The primary audience for clean meat will be meat eaters, not vegetarians.”

Though “clean meat” wouldn’t fit into the traditional vegan diet, I found myself amazed at the innovation that is poised to revolutionize the traditional meat industry. By eliminating the environmental strain and ethical considerations associated with the industry through this process, “clean meat” can be a great facilitator for change. After all, these considerations are the reason behind my decision to become vegan.

Plant Power

After a few days of abstaining from all animal products, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was getting the hang of the whole vegan thing! With so much readily available information, I found all of the resources I needed to help with meal planning, shopping, and nutrition. As a bonus, I found myself consuming a wider variety of healthy foods. I ate leafy greens, legumes, and everything in between.

Overall, the process of going vegan has been positive, inspirational, and delicious!

Curatorial Expert Paula Wallace on Art in the Home

Curatorial Expert Paula Wallace on Art in the Home

Paula Wallace’s life in art began as a child, when she watched with curiosity as her father hanged two small works of art that her mother had purchased at a thrift shop earlier that day. 

“They were matching prints,” Wallace says. “Two parrots, one red, the other a lemony yellow. In every house of ours, these birds always found a place to live.” The humble prints, she says, taught her that art needn’t be grand to hold meaning for a home. The parrots eventually came with her parents, Paul and May, down to Savannah in 1978, where they moved to help their daughter create a new art school.

Some 42 years later, Paula Wallace has made SCAD one of the largest and most comprehensive creative universities in the world, with campuses in the U.S. and Europe, a Permanent Collection featuring tens of thousands of historic and contemporary works of art (which can be found exhibited in its more than 100 rehabilitated historic properties, now home to classrooms, studios, and other learning spaces), and an in-house art sales and consultancy office called SCAD Art Sales, where the work of students, alumni, and faculty are available to the public. SCAD Art Sales has placed art work in films, TV shows, corporate headquarters and offices (such as Facebook and Netflix), and hotels and private homes around the world.

“SCAD wants to help homeowners find art they love and want in their homes!” Wallace says. “This is a win-win for us. It benefits the careers of our students and alumni, and it makes the world a more beautiful place.”

But how does someone who’s never purchased an original work of art begin to build a meaningful collection? Wallace is here to help.

“First, let’s talk about price,” she says. “You are going to spend money, but you have to remember: great art is like great furniture. It will outlast you.” Her rule of thumb is that you should spend about the same on art for a room as furniture for the room. If you plan on spending $3,000 on furnishings for the living room, then that’s probably a good target for spending on art, too.

And where do you find this art? Find a gallerist. “Every city has a few good galleries. Find them. Introduce yourself.” Think of it like shopping for books, she says. Most people will ask for a bookseller’s recommendations. “You can do the same with a gallerist. Ask what they love, what they like. They know artists.”

Homeowners, she says, shouldn’t worry about pretension or feeling like they need a degree in art history just to shop for art. But you don’t have to stop at galleries and swanky exhibitions, Wallace says. “Thrift shops and flea markets and antiques stores have great pieces, if you know where to look!” Another secret: Find out when the student shows are happening at local universities, where you can engage the artist in person and see if you connect. “Going to a student exhibition—where work is for sale—is a bit like going to an author’s book launch: It’s exciting. You’ll want to buy the work just because you feel like you know and understand it more intimately, from having met the artist in person.”

What kind of art is “you”, though? Think about what you love and need. Wallace suggests asking yourself: Do I like bright colors? Large, dramatic paintings? Do I prefer something with a sense of humor or a sense of meditative calm? What emotion do I want to evoke in the space?

“It’s more about liking what you love and loving what you like,” she says, “Don’t ask why too much. Why did you select that couch and not that one? Sometimes, you don’t need to know why! What moves you?”

Extroverts, she says, tend to prefer more dramatic works—bright of color and tone, animated in style, satirical, energetic, frenetic, even. Introverts prefer the quiet and profound. And yet: “The space dictates the work, so often.” A common area for parties and hosting might call for art work with more energy and movement. A sunroom or bedroom might need more reflective, meditative colors and themes. “You want your art to reflect your personality and moods—and the function of the spaces it will inhabit,” she says.

Placement is key. “Size matters,” Wallace says. “Large rooms need big art.” This is a common mistake among new collectors, selecting art that’s too small. “Art shrinks when you install it!” She recommends measuring walls before you start shopping and making a note of the sizes and square footage of areas, which will help gallerists keep you from choosing work that might not be suited to the room.

Finally, Paula Wallace suggests that buying art is like buying clothes—the kind you want to keep for a lifetime. Your art, like your wardrobe, announces who you are and what you expect from the world. It welcomes, invites, complements, pleases, warms, and illuminates. “It took me a lifetime to see that those two parrots were my mother and father: a perfect symbol of their love.”

That’s what great art does, according to Wallace. It points to something deeper and more beautiful than what you see. “That’s why every home needs it.”

Learn more about Paula Wallace of SCAD here: https://news.furman.edu/2019/12/09/paula-wallace-2019-interior-design-hall-of-fame/

5 Must-Have Online Gifts From HalyCard

5 Must-Have Online Gifts From HalyCard

With the world immersed in a pandemic, it’s never been more fitting to give your special someone an online gift card. More people are spending time online shopping or gaming than ever before, so nothing says I care better than a present they can use at any time. HalyCard is the perfect place to buy online gifts for your special someone, and they have items almost anyone would enjoy, gamers and grandmothers included.  Yet, since there’s so much to choose from, here are five must-have online gift ideas that will leave a lasting impression. 

1. iTunes 

One place media lovers go for content is iTunes. With media available to over 119 countries, iTunes is now the number one retailer of music in the world, topping Walmart back in 2015. This is why purchasing an iTunes card is the top pick for many HalyCard users. People can use their card for music, videos, or games, making it easy to please just about anyone.   

2. Netflix

You may not know this, but according to BroadbandSearch, Netflix has been around for a while. In fact, the company was founded in 1997, and netflix.com was launched just a year later. Now, with more than 100 million subscribers, Netflix has become the go-to spot for entertainment. In 2018 Netflix spent $12 billion in original content, making up about 80% of US views. Binge-watching TV series and movies have a whole new definition, and it makes sense that buying an online gift card from HalyCard for your sister, who is addicted to watching re-runs of Friends, is the perfect gift idea. 

3. PlayStation Network

PlayStation enchants gamers worldwide and has spent over 20 years building and shaping the gaming world you know today. The first PlayStation game to make this gaming system a world contender was Ridge Racer, which was released in 1994. The 3D graphics captivated users and made it an instant hit. In 2005 PlayStation 2 sold 100 million units making it the fastest-growing gaming console at that time. Now, millions of users are enthralled by PlayStation’s extraordinary technology and content. This makes buying a PlayStation Network card from HalyCard a great gift to keep in your back pocket and one your gaming friends will go nuts for. 

4. Google Play 

Google Play has more than 1 billion users and includes more than 1.5 million Android apps. According to Android Authority, in 2017, 70% of worldwide downloads came from Google Play. Worldwide, users spent over 17$ billion in Google Play apps, and since so many people choose this marketplace for content, buying an online gift card from HalyCard just makes sense. 

5. Amazon

Many of you may know that Amazon originally started in 1995 by selling books, but you may not know that they didn’t open their first storefront until 2015. Now, Amazon makes nearly $7 billion in revenue each year, selling practically anything. Amazon even launched their delivery service in 2016, and customers love their one to two-day shipping options. Amazon gift cards are the perfect addition to any present, which anyone can use at any time.  

Giving an online gift card is not only memorable but practical and functional. With a pandemic affecting people everywhere, online shopping and gaming are growing at unprecedented rates. At HalyCard, you can buy online cards that will suit most anyone. Some of their five must-have cards make sense and fit the new normal many people are learning to adjust to. It doesn’t matter if you’re more interested in media content or shipping products to your home, HalyCard is an excellent one-stop-shop for something that is bound to fit your needs.   

Creative Stay-at-Home Date Ideas from the Relish App

Creative Stay-at-Home Date Ideas from the Relish App

Ideas for great dates can be hard to come by. Once you settle into a routine, though, your relationship can suffer. That’s so much more true when it’s hard to get out. Relish, a leading relationship guidance app, works with you and your partner to identify your challenges and growth opportunities and help you thrive as a couple. After discussing how you both felt about your week, Relish might suggest room-by-room activities like these:

Dating in the Backyard

Head outside for a Star Date. Bring light refreshments if you like, binoculars or telescope if you have them, and a star chart or app if you want to get specific. The stars are still out there, and when you see them with someone you care about, somehow this little ol’ world seems a whole lot bigger.

New Ideas for the Bedroom

Sensory deprivation date. Turn out the lights, close the curtains, and maybe put a small light in the corner. Spend time getting to know each other with the other four senses, relaxing and letting yourself be surprised at a new way of seeing your partner.

Bathroom Date Ideas

Bubbles or battleships, tub time together can be both peaceful and ridiculously fun. You choose, but either way you’ll come out squeaky clean with prune-y fingers. Not a bad outcome for a date.

Dining Room Date Encounters

Casino night! You can just use a deck of cards or get one of those cheap casino games from the toy store, but either way, do it informally like Vegas or dress up for Monte Carlo. Bet with kisses, and may the winner take all!

Kitchen Intimacy

The joy and trouble with cooking together is that you’re intimate, but you’ve got a project to do and you don’t eat if you don’t finish it. That can help you have fun, get silly, or get intensely creative and produce a masterpiece. Will one of you be a Gordon Ramsay?

Living Room Togetherness

Haiku writing spree. Write to each other, with a bit of leeway in the 5-7-5 structure of this concise Japanese style. It can be a time of romance, picturing cherry blossoms and romance in the spring, or it might expand to creative fun and joy, each trying to outdo the other in crazy images and ideas. Add sushi if you like!

Relish is a relationship coaching app that takes an active role in couples’ lives. It asks for weekly updates and discusses your relationship with you, then offers ideas about next steps and new perspectives. It personalizes mindful advice to help people turn their investment in their relationship into a source of growth, joy, understanding, and rich experience. Engaging via an annual subscription, users of the app gain from the experience and insight of a team of diverse relationship counseling professionals who contribute a broad base of ideas and insights. The results are practical, personal, and often a lot of fun to implement!

The Latest Renaissance in Design Education – VR and AR at The Academy of Art University

The Latest Renaissance in Design Education – VR and AR at The Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University has been on the cutting edge of creative instruction since its inception in 1929. From then until now, a defining feature of the Academy’s ethos has been to employ active creatives as classroom and laboratory instructors. These working artists and creators bring up-to-date and even forward-thinking trends and developments directly from industry to the classroom. This affords Academy students unprecedented and unparalleled access to knowledge that is shaping various creative fields right now and for tomorrow.

It is no surprise, then, that Academy of Art University has been on the Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) front lines from its earliest days. Beginning in 2016 with a VR Summit hosted by the Schools of Communications & Media Technologies and Motion Pictures & Television, the Academy has since sought to incorporate these emerging technologies into various curriculum and facilities to reflect how creative industries are using them in the real world.

What is AR and VR?

Both AR and VR are advanced technologies that seek to expand the experience of the human senses in a given environment. With AR and/or VR technology, users can find themselves interacting with faraway or imaginary scenes or objects as if they actually existed in the user’s present location. Instead of projecting images before a user, AR and VR project the user into the realm of the images or scenes.

Augmented Reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view that the user sees through a camera. A simple example is using Snapchat lenses on your smartphone or playing Pokémon Go and chasing images on the screen that are not really present.  

Conversely, Virtual Reality (VR) is a complete immersion experience that transports the user to another environment through the use of a VR viewing device. Wearing the device over the eyes effectively blanks out the user’s surrounding environment so that the new digital environment can be experienced to the fullest. For example, a user wearing a VR device can participate in a virtual village elders meeting by sitting between participants in a dirt-floored hut in Central Africa.

While early proponents of these technologies saw them as enhancements for the gaming world, others saw potential for other uses. Antonio Borja, Director of the School of Industrial Design at Academy of Art University, visualized how artists and other creative professionals could actually employ VR sketching as a pivotal tool for design in many industries.

In an early VR workshop for students, Borja shared, “I know at first this thing seems like a gimmick but it’s not. Because it allows you [to] think and experience your design in 3-D, true 3-D. It’s not like sketching on paper where you see a two-dimensional representation of your 3-D object. Here, you actually get to walk around it.”

AR & VR Education and Innovation at Academy of Art University

In an Industrial Design class early in the Academy’s venture into exploring AR and VR, Borja guided students in using a VR sketching software product called Gravity Sketch, pairing it with a commercial Oculus headset and handheld instruments. Students learned the basics of creating textures, surfaces, shapes, and more, including tools for ensuring exacting accuracy and symmetry in designs.

Design students quickly grasped the very real benefits of this incredible new tool as they created and manipulated various product designs in real time. In more traditional methods, product concepts are modeled with clay or other media to allow designers to see, feel, and analyze their designs from different perspectives. Using the VR tools, even the student designers could discover design problems and other ideas much faster than by creating a physical model.

Antonio Borja now conducts a more comprehensive class in VR sketching as part of the Digital Imaging 2 course (IND 363). He explains, “It’s a very valuable tool that will allow you to experience your designs in a way you haven’t been able to do until you design a prototype. It’s better to find these issues early on in the workflow and make it so that we have time to make these adjustments so that our final project is that much better.”

Normal Rockwell Museum VR Project

One stellar example of how Academy students are learning how to use AR and VR technology to produce valued projects is the Normal Rockwell Museum VR Project. This enormous undertaking took Normal Rockwell art pieces that were originally produced for and featured in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943 underscoring the four enduring ideals from President Franklin Roosevelt’s Annual Message to Congress in 1941.

Numerous pieces depicting Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms – Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want – were combined into a VR experience for a traveling museum exhibition. Users would wear an Oculus VR headset to interact with the exhibit, which opened in May 2018 at the New York Historical Society before touring the United States and France, and then returning to the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in Fall 2020.

A diverse team of 24 developers from the Academy School of Game DevelopmentSchools of Animation & Visual EffectsSchool of IllustrationMusic Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, and Web Design & New Media worked a full four semesters to complete the project. It included various testing phases that involved students as well as senior citizens from the Institute of Aging. The project was to be designed so that users from age 7 to 70 could enjoy the experience.

Phil Kauffold, technical lead for the Academy’s School of Game Development (GAM) and project lead for the Rockwell exhibit, said, “We have to design for the young kid who knows the language of video games and understand this stuff. But also, we have to design for somebody [who] is older [and] doesn’t have that intuitive understanding of what we think of as the normal visual language.”

As a result, “Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms” has been a resounding success, even being presented at the US Capital building to members of Congress during 2019.

Academy VR Featured on “California by Design” TV Show

Recently, advanced uses of VR technology in industrial design at the Academy was showcased on the TV series “California by Design.” In each of the six shows, a judging panel, which includes Tom Matano, Executive Director for the Academy School of Industrial Design, chooses finalist creations that will compete to be named the top innovation of the year.

Episode three, which aired on July 11, 2020, featured AURA, a student project led by IND student Santiago Bastidas. The featurette (watch 7:20 – 10:07) highlights how the Academy is incorporating VR technologies into the design process to reflect current industry uses in the real world. AURA is an automobile design project created for PSA Peugeot Citroën Group as part of a corporate sponsorship with the Academy.

Bastidas shared that he and his team used VR technology to design a new automobile that “extends users’ experience beyond a physical journey.” He went on to say, “With AURA, we wanted to create not only this spatial journey but to target a much deeper journey. We broaden the interactions for a much more humanistic final journey.”

In episode three of California by Design, the host, Dan Hardin, is guided through how Bastidas and his team used a VR headset and software to actually design their creation in 3-D. He is also able to experience the 3-D model of the futuristic auto itself and even create his own, rather rough, design on camera, obviously delighting in the experience.

Hardin exclaims at once point, “This is really fun, isn’t it? Just try to get this off my head now!” The Academy students in the Industrial Design program use Gravity Sketch for Virtual Reality Sketching and Autodesk VRED Pro for Virtual Visualization.

Antonio Borja, Director for School of Industrial Design explains “Incorporating virtual reality technology in the design process enables designers to execute evaluations in a shorter timeframe and find potential flaws or issues with their designs earlier in the process. This helps streamline entire projects and allows more time for making any necessary adjustments before completion, resulting in higher quality designs overall.”

Academy of Art University – Revolutionizing Arts Education

Art and creativity are often viewed as abstract concepts that are expressed on a canvas or through music. While these means of expression are valid and valued, creativity extends into many industries that produce helpful devices and objects that improve our quality of life. Safer, more fulfilling means of transportation, better medical devices, and other important discoveries all incorporate creative technologies in their development.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are finding traction in more industries as time goes on, leading to better products with streamlined processes for development and testing. Academy of Art University is a top arts education institution that offers students the chance to experience these cutting-edge technologies as they are currently being used in today’s vital industries.

Interested prospective students can obtain more information by following the links in this article or by calling the Academy Admissions Department at 415-274-2222.

Read more about other Academy of Art University workshops

Ryan Seacrest Stays in Public Eye Throughout Quarantine

Ryan Seacrest Stays in Public Eye Throughout Quarantine

Many high-profile Hollywood personalities have had a hard time remaining connected to fans while engaging in the stay at home lifestyle that has become the norm due to Covid-19. As is so often the case, however, Ryan Seacrest has bucked that trend and shown that his star power can shine even while spending his days around the house. From interviews with some of today’s most relevant celebrities, to helpful articles on his website, to the actions of his non-profit foundation, the radio host has presented a great example of how to thrive during this difficult time. Read on for a look at how he’s keeping busy.

Stars share

One of the ways Ryan Seacrest has been staying focused on work is to touch base with other Hollywood personalities to see how their daily life has shifted during the pandemic. This focus has not only helped many of us stay connected to the stars we like to follow, it has also helped share their outlook on weathering this challenging time. Topics covered in these interviews include a look at the family life of celebrities, their ability to keep working, and the adjustments that have been needed to exist within the new norms imposed by the emergence of the global health threat.

One example of this is the radio host’s recent chat with country singer Kelsea Ballerini, who joined his show via video call to discuss a variety of topics. One point of interest was the difficulty she encountered in releasing her new album just as the pandemic was hitting the world. Rather than be discouraged by this unfortunate timing, the singer sought out a creative solution that could help connect her with fans and bring her album into the world — drones. By delivering copies of her album to select fans via the drones, the singer was helping to show just one example of how creative solutions can be a boon while navigating the trials and tribulations of the pandemic.

The singer also discussed another pandemic-specific happening while on the show — her participation in a performance to pay tribute to the first responders who are risking their lives to help fight the pandemic. She spoke to the power of using music in this way while on the air with the radio host. “I feel like there’s no better time for music,” she shared. “I think it’s just like the biggest connector and I know for me as a fan it brings me so much peace to listen to music.” During the show, the singer performed a selection of her hits as well as a Fleetwood Mac cover to help show her appreciation of healthcare workers.

Family life

Another check-in with some well-known names came from an interview the radio host conducted with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. This time the topic centered around family life and the ways the couple was helping to fill their own time in quarantine. One whimsical story came from their recounting of the marriage they recently set up with their daughter Luna for two of her stuffed animals. Teigen live-streamed the event on Instagram to help others share in the fun they were working to create for their daughter. The model “officiated” the wedding as her daughter and a small group of co-quarantiners looked on.

The fun-filled ceremony helped to showcase how the famous couple was dealing with some of the same struggles as much of the rest of the country — how to keep their family life engaging in the face of the pandemic. “[We’re] just trying to find creative ways to entertain the kids,” said Legend when discussing the subject. He added that they’ve also recently purchased camping gear so they could do some backyard camping as another activity. The discussion touches on the need for work/life balance that many people are butting up against as they confront the current circumstances of life with which we are all faced.

Streaming with friends

As many groups of friends have been forced to remain distant from each other during the days of the widespread stay-at-home orders, the need to be creative in maintaining a sense of community has become heightened. Many people have stepped up to that challenge by setting up virtual hangouts with others to talk and participate in group activities. Some popular virtual activities that have emerged during this time have been group game nights, online happy hours, and weekly chats to exchange details of ongoing life in quarantine.

Ryan Seacrest, like many people, has also worked hard to maintain his personal connections as much as possible. The radio personality recently spoke about an opportunity for this when detailing his plans for the July 4th holiday. The host’s plan accompanied the announcement from Disney that it is streaming the musical Hamilton on its Disney+ subscription service. The announcement gave Seacrest an idea for a way to watch the hit musical and spend virtual time with his friends over the long weekend by streaming the musical together.

“I’m already talking to my friends like how are we going to do it?” the host shared. “I have to BBQ. I have to have brats, dogs, burgers, chicken — I have to have all of it.” Initially stumped as to how to enjoy the traditional American celebration while staying safely socially distanced, the streaming service announcement gave him the inspiration for an activity that everyone could enjoy together. Now he’s planning to combine his cookout with the musical in one single day of fun. “You can BBQ and then [stream the musical] in the evening or at night,” said the radio host. “Do your BBQ, digest, and then Hamilton!”

Virtual performances

While examining the topic of virtual streaming activities, we can also take a look at the ways in which Ryan Seacrest has managed to continue to bring music to his listeners even while navigating present world events. Known by many for his role as a radio host, the Hollywood personality is also the host of American Idol, the popular American talent show centered around singing performances. He has helped continue to bring that show to the television public while performing his hosting duties from his own home — replete with the show’s famous title font serving as his backdrop.

In addition to his work to bring singing performances to viewers through his work on American Idol, the host has also worked to continue bringing concerts and other performances to listeners via his radio show. One example of this is his recent discussion with Ben Platt, singer and star of Netflix’s “The Politician.” During the talk, Platt shared details of the show while also diving more deeply into his experience in quarantine. Part of that experience has been to collaborate on a new song about the present moment, called “So Will I.”

“I wrote this song … while I was here in quarantine, in isolation,” said Platt about the song. “I wanted to write a song that spoke to the moment and kind of the overwhelming heaviness that’s going on and hopefully provide some comfort.” The singer went on to perform a heartfelt rendition of the new track, providing listeners with a chance to experience a touching moment along with the artist and to hear a live performance of a song — a difficult thing to find at present.

The singer’s recent performance harkens back to the radio show’s rich history of hosting on-air talent. As the show awaits a time when it will be safe to bring artists back into the studio for live concerts once more, it is taking a look back at past performances to continue to bring music into the lives of listeners. Recent throwback concerts that have been featured by the show include Ed Sheehan and Charlie Puth. Listeners are encouraged to weigh in with their favorite past performances to be considered for future throwback concerts.

Digging into history

As a radio host and someone deeply involved in the music industry, Ryan Seacrest is tied to the Grammys in many ways. That’s one of the reasons it became a topic of hot discussion on his show when the long-standing award show publicly released its rule book for the first time in history. The set of rules, which detail the guidelines for the show, including the set of criteria judges should consider when voting in different categories, has long been held close to the chest. Now that the 66-page document is publicly available, revelations are coming forth that are shining light on some interesting parts of music lore.

One example of this, highlighted recently by the radio host, is the infamous story of 1990’s Best New Artist award. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, that was the year that the award was given to Milli Vanilli. The award, however, was later rescinded when it was discovered that the group didn’t sing any of its own music, and were lip-syncing instead. The controversy following that revelation only deepened when the award show did not present the award to any of the other nominees after the truth came out.

All these years later, the release of the Grammys rule book has helped to shed light on the circumstances surrounding that decision. As recounted by the radio host on his show, the rules state that “The Grammy process does not produce a ranked result with a winner and ordered runners-up. In any situation where a Grammy Award is withdrawn following the presentation, no award is given in that category for that year.” From this phrasing, it becomes clear that, although the original recipients of the 1990 award were disqualified, there is no process in place for a new recipient to be considered. This peek behind the award show’s process helps to provide answers related to a major point of contention in music history.

More on the category

Digging into the rule book further, the radio host also took time better understand other guidelines surrounding the Best New Artist category. This category is of particular interest to many music lovers as it has sometimes been the topic of additional controversy over the years. These controversies most often happen when a particular artist is presented with the award while members of the public feel another artist should have won. While these awards can be subjective, some people have called for further explanation of the process to explain some of these discrepancies.

Now, it seems, we have more of that explanation, stemming again from the release of the rulebook. Over the airwaves, the radio host helped break down the guidelines to help determine how they might have affected past awards. In this realm, the rule book states that “The primary element to consider is the artist’s performance. If the artist wrote most or all of the songs, this may be a secondary consideration. Production elements of the recording should not be considered.” 

The host noted that, while this excerpt doesn’t explain away the controversy surrounding why certain artists with multiple years of experience have won the award in the past, it does provide context for selection criteria. It remains to be seen whether or not the release of this rulebook will help clear up some of these controversies or make the process more transparent to the average viewer. As the award show is still the result of a subjective voting process, it seems plausible that some differences of opinion may exist in the future on certain selections.

Foundation work

Another story that has been emerging from the radio host’s recent online communication is the ongoing efforts of his non-profit organization known as the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. The organization works to provide access to multimedia experiences to children undergoing treatment at pediatric hospitals. This is accomplished through the creation of broadcast media centers, known as Seacrest Studios, that provide children with the opportunity to participate in the broadcast experience.

The broadcast centers help to stimulate the minds and imaginations of patients which can be an empowering experience, especially in the face of difficult treatments. The work of the foundation aims to encourage optimistic thought and cultivate hope during such hard times. The organization often partners with local journalism schools and other similar institutions by providing an opportunity to gain experience in broadcasting, programming, and operating a multimedia center.

Ongoing work

While some aspects of the organization’s mission have been difficult to keep running in their previous form during the pandemic, the foundation has been diligent in working to overcome hurdles in this process. One of the ways this has manifested is through virtual interviews between patients and celebrity guests. A recent example of this is an interview hosted by Dallas patients Caleb and Nneka as they chatted with country music singer Kelsea Ballerini.

The interview provided a great look into the inventiveness and ingenuity of kids and their ability to adjust in the face of change. To keep the interview engaging, the hosts played virtual games and quizzed the singer on some of their favorite topics. Interview questions included an exploration of favorite foods and some imaginatively posed “would you rather” topics. The singer also worked with the kids to help solve the mystery of the identity of a hidden object in a box, based only on a series of limited clues.

Celebrity visits

The foundation also often works to connect children in treatment programs with some of their favorite celebrities in order to help brighten their spirits. Though the global Covid-19 pandemic has complicated this part of the organization’s work, it is still actively engaging in visits via virtual connections. These virtual visits have been shown to have a strong effect on patient spirits and have helped kids stay in touch with the outside world, even while experiencing hardship in their own lives.

The radio host recently shared some stories of these types of visits via his social media presence. This included videos of kids connecting with Idina Menzel, known widely for her role as Elsa in the Disney animated film “Frozen.” Kids got to connect with the star over video chat and pose a variety of questions that she was more than happy to answer. One topic that featured heavily in conversation was a comparison between the first installation in the “Frozen” series, versus its sequel. The interactions, videos of which can be seen on the foundation’s twitter page, again show the resilient nature of children to adapt when it is needed.

While many high-level personalities have spent much of their quarantine hunkered down out of the limelight, Ryan Seacrest has found a myriad of ways to stay connected with fans all over the world. From brightening the experience of children undergoing medical treatments, to highlighting musical talent, to sharing the quarantine experiences of others in Hollywood, he has certainly kept busy. For those who are familiar with the radio host’s work, this probably comes as no surprise. As we all look forward to a return to normalcy in the future, the work by the host serves as a nice way to continue to connect to the world of entertainment and the arts.

Chicago’s Beal Properties’ Guide to Off-Campus Student Housing

Chicago’s Beal Properties’ Guide to Off-Campus Student Housing

Merely one year ago, college students were enjoying the throes of summer break, and casually considering their plans for a seamless fall return. From declaring housemates based on inseparable bonds already formed, to saving up cash for an upgraded sofa, figuring out off-campus housing plans was now a nostalgically straightforward process. However, with the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, the realm of college life, and real estate, dramatically changed. From cancelled courses to limited apartment showings, students’ lives were impacted vastly. Now, as this year’s summer break brings uncertainty, change, and a completely new “normal” for the imminently upcoming school year, students should take the time to solidify their housing plans for the upcoming fall semester early. With so many changes, intricacies, and evolving protocols to consider, Chicago staple in real estate development and management, Beal Properties, has provided tips for students to successfully, safely, and expertly secure housing.

Check Out Options Early

With limited inventory, and more people staying put, options for students may be somewhat limited upon the beginning of the upcoming semester. For students looking to pursue off-campus apartment living, competing with the entire local neighborhood population means that the generally witnessed market trend of limited inventory will potentially impact their choices. Beal Properties has been providing countless tenants with a multitude of apartment options spread amongst the company’s expansive 100 building portfolio, offering studio to three bedroom apartments within many of Chicago’s most sought-after neighborhoods. With varying price ranges, a commitment to tenant satisfaction, and a forward-thinking business model, Beal Properties has long been a staple for students looking for a positive apartment living experience. The professionals at Beal Properties advise students to be aware of rising demand for apartment dwelling coupled with limited inventory, and encourage students to act early.

Embrace Tech

For out-of-state students, virtually touring potential apartments, and communicating digitally with landlords and roommates may have already been a commonplace standard. Conversely, most other students may have been used to physically touring potential apartments, meeting with Property Managers, and signing leases at the local pub. With social distancing continuing to dictate behavior, and rapidly changing state regulations regarding social interaction, Beal Properties encourages students to embrace technology during their apartment search process. While Beal has already adapted and implemented technology to innovate various services, from creating a fully-functional tenant portal, to servicing client communication online, the company has ramped up “virtual tour” services. By allowing prospective tenants, including students, to virtually tour their properties, Beal Properties is safely allowing prospective tenants to ensure that properties meet their needs, and providing tenants with the opportunity to receive seamless service in light of the continued changes brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition to these forward-thinking virtual tour options, many property management companies, including Beal Properties, are offering tenants contactless applications via various virtual resources, contactless or limited contact move-in procedures, and other digitally enhanced procedures designed to maintain the safety of all parties during this unprecedented time. For students hesitant to pursue the traditionally in-person act of apartment searching, Beal Properties reminds students of the seamless implementation of technology that renders this process now digitally enabled. 

Consider Neighborhoods, Transportation, & Lifestyle

For students at the University of Chicago, DePaul, Loyola, IIT, Chicago State, or any of the other higher learning campuses within the vicinity of the city, ease of commute is an integral consideration in choosing the perfect apartment. The experts at Beal Properties point out that an easy access to the ‘L’, bus routes, bike routes, and highways can create a seamless experience for busy students. Between busy class schedules, rotating study groups, part-time jobs, and lifestyle activities, students need to have access to needed locations without too much hassle. Without such ease of access, students are more likely to forgo “non-essential” classes, seminars, and other otherwise positive opportunities. 

With many students, and professionals alike, choosing to forgo automobile ownership within bustling cities like Chicago, renters’ preferences are steering toward housing in convenient proximity to public transportation. For Beal Properties, consideration of students who rely on public infrastructure to service their needs is a factor for determining adding properties to the company’s thriving portfolio. Whether in Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, or any other coveted Chicagoland neighborhood, the majority of Beal Properties’ complexes are conveniently located within walking range to trains, subway stations, bus routes, and bike paths. For students, this provides an excellent opportunity to hop on the bus to their University, and retain a convenient commute.

In addition to the importance of considering proximity to school, Beal Properties professionals encourage students to consider neighborhoods as a whole, looking for particular “live-work-play” microenvironments that suit their unique needs. For example, active students may prefer neighborhoods with robust gym options, hiking trails, dedicated bike lanes, and community pools. Conversely, social students may prefer hyper-local communities nestled between restaurants, bars, and trendy hotspots. Since student housing is essentially home, choosing a neighborhood that is conducive to needs, desires, and lifestyle will create an easy transition for students leaving their hometown for the first time.

Consider Budgets

For students whose financial status has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through the loss of part-time work, or otherwise, budgeting is instrumental in ensuring successful living arrangements throughout the year. By creating a realistic budget for groceries, rent, essentials, and “fun” expenditures, students can stave off the potential panic of having limited work opportunities, and can safely determine which apartments can fit their needs. Recognizing the need to offer modern apartment dwellings at varying price points, the experts at Beal Properties maintain a diverse portfolio of studio apartments perfect for singular students, or 1, 2, and 3 bedroom options that are suitable for roommates who will split costs. The company encourages students to create budgets prior to beginning their apartment search, and sticking to only considering dwelling options that fall within the pre-set budgets.

While the landscape for students has certainly changed in every aspect as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative companies like Beal Properties are implementing proactive measures to ensure that the apartment hunt is seamless, easy, and direct during this unprecedented time. By following a few simple pivots, students can ensure a safe, successful, and positive return to the fall semester.

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