Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Puzzling, hilarious, and downright bizarre laws that are still on the books in the U.S.

In the United States we have so many laws on the books that they’re impossible to count. In fact, each new calendar year sees around 40,000 or more new laws enacted between federal, state, and municipal governments. The federal criminal codes by themselves fill 51 volumes with over 3,000 laws, and they are constantly being amended and added. With that much fine print to read and paper to push, it’s no wonder that lawmakers and legislators don’t always have time to go back and clean up outdated and irrelevant laws. The result is that we have some extremely questionable statues still in force, some of which go back a couple hundred years. Some of them seem like such common sense that it's disturbing you'd even need them. Though they are never enforced and even police and politicians don’t know about them, they are still technically legally binding – which can be downright scary in some cases!

While researching these myriad unusual laws, I noticed a trend – they mostly applied to the roads, animals, food and drink, women, and “Blue” laws that regulate activity on Sundays. I don’t really know why or what to make of that, but I categorized them as such, and added a few categories for the bizarre and scary, and even laws that are actually good ideas and should be enforced!

Laws involving animals:

Citizens of Farmington, Connecticut have to share the road with cows because they have the same legal rights to use the roads as motorists.

In Montana, if you guide sheep onto a railroad track expressly with the intent of injuring the train, and the conductor ends up being harmed, you can be charged a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

California has a law on the books that dictates a frog that dies during a frog-jumping contest can’t be eaten. The law originated from health codes enforced around the annual Frog Jumping Jubilee in Calaveras County.

You can’t snap a photo of a rabbit without a permit from January to April in Wyoming.

In Alabama, it’s a Class B felony to purchase, possess, or train a bear to wrestle.

If you’re walking your elephant around in Orlando, Florida and it wants to rest in one place for a while, you’re expected to deposit coins into the parking meter just like it was a motor vehicle.

In Norman, Oklahoma, it’s illegal to tease dogs by making scary and ugly faces.

Alaska has made it illegal to tie your dog to the roof of your car.

Laws about food and drink:

North Dakota bar owners can’t legally serve beer and pretzels at the same time.

In Gainsville, Georgia, you’re not legally allowed to eat fried chicken any way but with your bare hands.

Indiana has a great law on the books that prohibits attending a public event or using public transport if you’ve eaten onions or garlic within the past four hours!

In that same state, liquor stores can’t sell chilled water or soda, but can sell soda at room temperature.

Although federal prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933, Kansas outlawed alcohol sales and consumption all the way until 1948. Even today, each county has the latitude to prohibit the sale of alcohol in public in venues where 30 percent or less of their gross income comes from food sales.

Laws of the road:

It’s illegal to drive down the road with an uncaged bear in your car in Missouri.

Likewise, in Massachusetts it’s illegal to drive a car while there’s a gorilla in the back seat.

In Alabama, they decided to turn the most base common sense into a statute, making it illegal to drive with a blindfold on.

In West Virginia, motorists can collect and eat any road kill they hit.

Swearing out loud while driving a car is a misdemeanor in Rockville, Maryland.

In Galesburg, Illinois, bicyclists are legally prohibited from “fancy riding.”

Glendale, California residents will be breaking the law if they jump from any car that is traveling 65 mph or more.

In Oklahoma, you’ll be arrested if you’re caught reading a comic book and driving a car at the same time.

“Blue” Laws:

In Rhode Island, it’s illegal to sell toothpaste and toothbrushes to the same customer on Sundays.

It’s illegal to eat candy less than half an hour before Sunday church service in Salem, West Virginia.

In the town of Winona Lake, Wisconsin, they made it illegal to eat ice cream at a counter on Sundays.

Even worse, you can’t eat cherry pie a la mode on Sundays in Kansas.

Dog owners in Hartford, Connecticut can’t take their pets to obedience training on Sundays.

There is actually a law on the books in Florida that prohibits unmarried women from parachuting on Sundays!

Laws attempting to regulate female conduct:

In Cleveland, Ohio, it’s still technically illegal for women to wear shiny patent leather shoes in public.

Women in Florida can be fined for falling asleep under a dryer in a hair salon.
Even more ridiculous is a law in Michigan that says a woman’s hair technically belongs to her husband, so she has to get his permission before changing her hairstyle.

Women in Pittsburgh who sweep dirt under their rug when cleaning could be subject to a fine.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a law mandates that a woman can’t drive a car unless a man is in front of the car waving a red flag as a warning to other motorists.

Laws that maybe we should start enforcing again:

In North Carolina, it’s illegal to sing off-key in public.

Any motorist entering Washington D.C. who has criminal intentions is mandated to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police with the news.

In Hawaii, commercial billboards are outlawed on all islands with only 18 exceptions, part of their urban beautification initiative from 1927.

Academic fraud committed by selling a term paper, essay, dissertation, etc. at any education facility in Connecticut illegal.

In Iowa, if you serve or sell margarine and claim it’s butter you’re committing a misdemeanor.

In Michigan, adultery has been a felony since 1931, which can land you in prison for up to four years and a $5,000 fine.

Even better, any male over 16 years of age in South Carolina who seduced a woman by falsely promising to marry her can be charged with a misdemeanor and do up to one-year jail time!

Laws that are just plain weird:

It’s illegal to sell your own eyeballs in Texas.

If a man in Idaho gives his fiancĂ© a box of candy that weighs more than 50 lbs., he’s breaking the law.

In Eureka, Nevada, it’s illegal to kiss a woman if you have a mustache.

In Paulding, Ohio, policemen may legally bite a dog if they think the dog is a threat and it will calm the animal down.

North Carolina residents who want to play Bingo may run into some legal problems, as games are restricted to five hours, only once in any 48-hour period, and for no more than a $500 prize.

In Washington State, you’ll be arrested and fined if you harass Bigfoot.

It’s spelled out in the New Mexico state constitution that idiots can’t vote in state elections.

Scary laws:

In Arizona, cutting down a cactus can land you in prison for 25 years.

In Louisiana, Jambalya prepared in the traditional manner for sale to the public – which means on an open wood fire – isn’t subject to sanitation regulations, health or safety codes.

In Virginia, there is still a law in existence that makes it illegal for any couple to have sex unless they are married, resulting in a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Of course cannibalism is illegal in Idaho, punishably by up to 14 years in prison, but there are lawful exceptions on the books in the case of life or death situations.

In Reno, Nevada, it’s illegal to place a bench or chair in the middle of the road.

In Florida, dwarf tossing is illegal in commercial establishments where alcohol is sold. It’s terrible they even need such a law, but what’s most scary is that a Florida state legislator tried to repeal the law in 2011 but wasn't successful.

In Marshalltown, Ohio, horses are prohibited from eating fire hydrants.

It’s amazing there isn’t a long line of trains stuck at every junction in Texas because a nonsensical law states: "When two railroad trains meet at a crossing, each shall stop and neither shall proceed until the other has passed."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Everything you wanted to know about our beloved Sacramento River Cats.

“A good friend of mine used to say, 'This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.' Think about that for a while.”
 -Ebby Calvin LaLoosh in the movie Bull Durham

Sacramento, the queen city of California, is home to a thriving professional sports scene. While you may be thinking about our favorite NBA franchise, the win-challenged Sacramento Kings, we have another sports treasure in the region: the River Cats. In fact, catching a ball game at charming Raley Field on a toasty summer night is a Sacramento ritual. And with a major league quality stadium, ticket prices so low you can bring the whole family, and a winning brand of baseball with future major leaguers, you can’t go wrong supporting our ‘Cats.

Here’s a quick snapshot so you’ll enjoy games this summer even more!

Sacramento River Cats


Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

The River Cats play in the Pacific Northern division along with the Reno Aces, Tacoma Rainiers, and Fresno Grizzlies.


Team affiliation:
The River Cats are now the affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, but prior to 2014, they were the Oakland A’s Triple-A team.

Attendance records:
Remarkably, Sacramento's franchise has led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance over the past 14 seasons, making it the most fan-friendly and successful model for minor league baseball. They’ve averaged about 10,000 fans throughout their history. In 2001 they averaged an incredible 12,516 fans per game, a record for Minor League Baseball.

Winning pedigree:
The River Cats have enjoyed unparalleled success on the field, taking home two Triple-A Championships (2007 and 2008) and four Pacific Coast League Championships (back-to-back PCL Championships in 2003 and 2004 and again in 2007 and 2008). The team has also won 11 PCL South Division Championships (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Players who went on to major league success:
The River Cats have an enviable history of “graduating” players to the major leagues, over 200 at last count, many of whom went on to storied big league careers.

Some notables include:
Barry Zito, 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner
Eric Hinske, 2002 American League Rookie of the Year
Bobby Crosby, 2004 American League Rookie of the Year,
Eric Byrnes,
Nick Swisher
Mark Bellhorn
Joe Blanton
Mark Ellis
Carlos González
Rich Harden
Gio Gonzalez

Raley Field:
The home of the River Cats was built with private financing in 2000 and is often called the Crown Jewel of Minor League Baseball. The ballpark is located at 400 Ballpark Drive in West Sacramento, California, 95691.

Raley Field is also the home to many community events, festivals, and concerts. The annual Brewfest kicks off Friday, June 12, and the Fourth of July extravaganza and fireworks show is always a hit. You can rent out Raley Field for your own party or business event, or make special arrangements for in-game promotions or visits.

For more information:

Our current River Cats team has roots all the way north in Canada, where the team operated as the Vancouver Canadians in 1978, even winning the Triple-A World Series in 1999.

In 2000, Art Savage bought the franchise and relocated them to West Sacramento, where they built Raley Field with private financing.

But the River Cats wasn’t Sacramento’s version taste of professional baseball; for many years, the Sacramento Solons played in the Pacific Coast League. The Solons operated in 103, 1905, from 1909 through 1914,from 1918 through 1960, and from 1974 through 1976.

The 2015 season will the River Cats 16th in Sacramento.

In 2012, Forbes Magazine listed the River Cats as the most valuable team in Minor League Baseball. The River Cats organization has also been given kudos for their outstanding involvement in local communities.

The Upcoming 2015 season:
The home opener for the 2015 season is on April 9th at 7:05pm, with 144 games on tap. With some sensational young prospects and seasoned baseball veterans in the mix, the team looks to build on its past success and contend for the Triple-A World Series Championship!

Ticket information and prices:
One of the best things about the River Cats is that it’s still affordable enough to bring the whole family and come every week – or every game! Tickets start at only $10 and season tickets offer great discounts. Children under 23 months can attend for free as long as they sit on your lap and don’t take a seat. Parking is convenient and inexpensive, and there are plenty of great concessions in the ballpark so you can enjoy a hot dog and a beer as you watch.

For ticket information visit:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

5 Crowdfunding campaigns that will renew your faith in humanity!

Crowdfunding is a a relatively new phenomenon that has changed the way we connect with causes, fundraisers, and business ventures searching for support. Whether we want to offer our 2 cents, 20 dollars, or 2 grand, we can make a donation  with just the click of our mouse. FundMe, IndieGogo, Kickstarter are some of the most popular crowdfunding websites among many others, and there are now more than 10,00 new campaigns started on crowdfunding sites every single day!

Of course anyone can post any project on these sites, so there are plenty of whacky and hilarious cases of the public embracing and funding someone as a novelty – like Zack Brown, the guy who started a Kickstarter campaign as a joke, asking to raise just enough money to go to the store and buy the ingredients to make potato salad. Months and worldwide recognition later, he ended up with $55,000!

The good news is that a lot of campaigns on crowdfunding sites are set up to help people in need. And although we may not hear about all the media may not cover them as much as, say, $55,000 for potato salad, there are plenty of cases of complete strangers funding these campaigns just because it’s the right thing to do. 

Here are 5 crowdfunding campaigns that will renew your faith in humanity:

Dance party for a man who was shamed via social media.

Dance party for #dancingman

A gentleman named Sean likes to dance but he doesn’t necessarily look like a male model (like most of us!). So when a photo of him dancing was greeted with mean-spirited mockery from bullies, a big-hearted stranger named Krista started a GoFundMe campaign for Sean. She wanted to raise enough money to throw him a huge dance party to make him feel better but also support body acceptance and anti-bullying message. She never anticipated how successful the dance party crowdfunding campaign would be, both in donations and worldwide awareness. Not only are there enough funds to fly Sean to Los Angeles for his own personal dance party with thousands of donors and admirers, but they just donated $10,000 of their funds to anti-bullying campaigns.

High schoolers give back to their beloved custodian.

Raised: $36,725
Campaign: OUR Ollie is sick & needs your help
Ballwin, MO 

At Parkway West High School in Missouri, their 72-year old custodian, Ollie, was a beloved fixture in the lives of students, always lending an encouraging word or making people smile. But Ollie was diagnosed with cancer, with medical insurance that falls far short of paying for the treatment he needs. To make matters worse, Ollie’s wife landed in the hospital at the same time with her own illness to battle. Not only did the children of Parkway West High miss seeing him in the hallways, they wanted to do something to help. So they started a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe and rallied the community, raising $36,725from 965 donations to pay for medical care for Ollie and his wife!

More info:

The man who walks 21 miles to work every day gets a car.

Raised: $349,904

Campaign: Help James Robertson Get a Car
Troy, Mi

You think your commute is bad? James Robertson, a factory worker, goes 21 miles each day to and from work. While that might not seem like a long drive, Robertson, 56 years old, doesn’t own a car. There are no bus lines that run right to his work, and he doesn’t own a bicycle, nor can you ride one in the snow and bad streets. So Robertson has to walk 21 of the 23 miles every single day. And he’s done that for a decade after his car died and he didn’t have enough money for a new one. (By the way, Robertson also has a perfect attendance record at work!) Some times, generous strangers see him walking and give him a ride, but someone saw his story on a local news station and had a bigger idea. A 19-year college kid, Evan Leedy, set up a GoFundMe page for James, though he almost stopped before he posted the campaign because he thought, “Who is going to donate money to a 19-year old kid to buy someone a car?”

Leedy got his answer quickly: a lot of people would. In fact, more than 13,000 people have donated, bringing in an astounding $349,904 to date, $200,000 of that coming in the first hour! Not only did James get a new car and the story make world headlines, but corporations have gotten involved with donations and pro bono work and the mission, and the money, is spreading to others who need help.

More info:

Saving a dog shelter from eviction right before Christmas.

Raised: $81,655
 Campaign: Shelter Evicted For Christmas!!
Joliet, Il

The Cache Creek Animal Rescue shelter received an auspicious piece of mail right before Christmas last year – an eviction notice. They’d paid their lease on time every month, but complications from a building inspection led to the order for them to vacate by January 10. Of course that meant they’d have to find something to do with the hundreds of dogs they keep there. Cache Creek rescue is a no-kill rescue facility, but they had to consider the unthinkable if they couldn’t find a new home or a lot of money to pay for the building repairs in short order. So an employee took to GoFundMe, posting a campaign to save the shelter and the dogs.

People responded with the spirit of giving to the needy K9s, donating over $80,000 to find a temporary place to keep the dogs safe. The shelter is planning on using the funds to find a permanent, safe property for the shelter and a new van for them to expand their reach to save even more doggies.

More info:

Little boy’s special wheelchair is stolen so strangers fund a new one.

Raised: $3,970
Campaign: Pediatric Chair For Riley!
Atlanta, Ga

Successful crowdfunding campaigns don’t always have to involve hundreds of thousands of dollars and worldwide attention. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count the most as people stand up for those in need – or, in this case, sit down.

Single mother Kristi Thomas juggles all of the responsibilities and stresses that most moms do, including work, keeping up a home, paying bills, and caring for her child. But Riley Thomas, Kristi’s son, lives with cerebral palsy, limiting him to a very specialized wheelchair, called a Kid Kart. But one chilly morning last January, Kristi turned on her car and left it running in the driveway of her home as she went back inside to get her son and take him to school. When she came out, the car was gone; stolen by thieves. She didn’t only lose the car – inside was Riley’s special Kid Kart, so he was without the means to get around or attend school, and Kristi didn’t have the money to purchase a new one, which cost about $1,500.

So a family friend started a crowd funding campaign to help Riley. It gained regional news coverage and attracted more than 100 caring folks in only 2 months, raising $3,970 – more than enough for Riley to get his new Kid Kart and a very deserving single mother to pay some bills and get to breath a sigh of relief.

More info:

Do you have a crowdfunding campaign or cause that's near and dear to your heart? We'd love to make this a regular monthly series for our blog to keep spreading the positivity, so please let us know!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

8 Things home buyers should understand about title insurance.

1. What is title insurance?
Title insurance is a policy that protects against loss if there’s a problem with the condition of the title of the land (and residence, lot, building, etc.) that was purchased in a real estate transaction. Title insurance is a protection for you and your lender that the property is what it claims, is yours, and no one else has a claim, lien, or encumbrance. Think of it as your proof of ownership.

2. Why is title insurance necessary?
Your home will probably be the biggest investment you make in your life (along with “buying” your mortgage) so you want to make sure there are no problems with legal ownership. A title insurance policy will legally ensure you receive benefits of ownership including the right to occupy and use the property, it’s free from debts or obligations not yours, and that you’re able to sell or pledge the property as security for a loan without issue.

3. How does title insurance differ from casualty or other types of insurance?
With most other types of insurance, you pay premiums every month or year on an ongoing basis, as long as you hold the property or benefit being received. But with title insurance you pay only once – when the policy is originated and before the real estate transaction is concluded. All of the work to identify and eliminate risk with the property occurs before you assume legal ownership.

4. Why does a homeowner need a title insurance policy and a lender need its own policy?
Both the buyer and the mortgager need a title insurance policy in any real estate transaction. Two different policies mean that both interests are protected against title defects. Of course there is great overlap in interest in the property, but remember that most mortgages don’t equal the full replacement cost of the property.

5. What would title insurance do for a homeowner if there were a problem after the sale?
Most problems are identified and resolved before the transaction every closes (as title insurance is supposed to do), but in rare circumstances there are issues that arise. A homeowner’s title insurance would cover the legal cost of defending their interest in the property and resolving the matter. It would also cover indemnification against losses causes by any claims. Remember that anyone can make a claim against title or take a case to court – whether or not it’s right or justified – so it’s essential to be insured.

6. Who pays for title insurance?
It’s mostly customary for the real estate buyer to pay for their own title insurance policy in California, though in some counties the seller may split the cost. The cost of a title insurance premium is written into the closing costs of the transaction. It's usually the buyer's choice what title company they'd like to use.

7. How long does coverage last?
Your title insurance policy lasts as long as you have an interest in the property. When you pass away the title coverage automatically extends to your heirs. And if you sell the property, your title insurance policy adds a level of warranty or protection to the next buyer, like links in a strong chain.

8. What exactly is covered by title insurance?
There are several types of policies, but these are some of the basic risks covered:

Forgery and impersonation;
Lack of competency, capacity or legal authority of a party;
Deed not joined in by a necessary party (co-owner, heir, spouse, corporate officer, or business partner);
Undisclosed (but recorded) prior mortgage or lien;
Undisclosed (but recorded) easement or use restriction;
Erroneous or inadequate legal descriptions;
Lack of a right of access; and
Deed not properly recorded.
An extended coverage policy may be requested to protect against such additional defects as:
Off-record matters, such as claims for adverse possession or prescriptive easement;
Deed to land with buildings encroaching on land of another;
Incorrect survey;
Silent (off-record) liens (such as mechanics' or estate tax liens); and
Pre-existing violations of subdivision laws, zoning ordinances or CC&R's.
Subject to availability in your locale, First American's EAGLE Policy covers all of the risks listed above, plus:
Post-policy forgery;
Forced removal of improvements due to lack of building permit (subject to deductible);
Post-policy construction of improvements by a neighbor onto insured land; and
Location and dimensions of insured land (survey not required).