The STP Event and Lasting Reflections


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I began serious bike riding after participating in the 2015 Wheelmen picnic ride in which Bill Blackford rode with me for at least four hours to help me complete the ride!  That experience prompted me to take the RS101 Bike Class, which really helped me get insight and riding suggestions.  That was last fall.

A business associate and friend of mine had a picture in his office of himself riding in the STP Event.  being a neophyte, I had no idea what the STP was.  I learned that STP is an acronym for “Seattle To Portland,” a charity fundraiser for medical research and one of the most popular riding events in the country, with participation limited to 10,000 riders!  The ride is exactly what it says – 200 miles from Seattle to Portland.  The event is held each year on a weekend in the middle of July, with most participants riding a century each day.

With the support of so many of you, I began riding two or three times a week and gradually over the winter and spring, me and my Fuji Gran Fondo 2.3 got into some kind of shape.   Besides learning how to pedal, climb hills, endure heat stroke, cramps, and severe bruised ribs after taking a fall in my kitchen on wet tile, I felt ready in early July.

While training, I had to work out the logistics issues – transporting my bike and accessories to Seattle and back.  Not an easy task , breaking down the bike to ship to Seattle, building it there for the event, getting it back to Seattle from Portland to get it broken down again to ship home, and rebuilding it once back here! Whew!   Surprisingly, I learned that the most economical and  best way to ship the bike was to simply check it in as luggage on my flights.  But again, all the breaking and building and shipping was not cheap.  Then there was the accommodations in Seattle and Portland, and food and travel expenses.  Definitely an event that needs to be planned and budgeted.

I arrived in Seattle a couple of days before the event to acclimate myself to the weather, the air, and the terrain.  Here I am getting ready for a brief training ride.

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Bill lent me his San Antonio license plate as you can see in the picture.  With my Wheelmen jersey and license plate, I was known as “The Texan” on the ride!


Registration was at a local  RES sport store in Seattle .



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Working a hill in the pack!  As you can see, I was never alone.  It was a comfortable ride knowing that all the riders understood the bike passing protocols and riding signals.


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The ride was well supported and had frequent rest stops.  Seeing hundreds of various bikes and riders at stops was very interesting.


I was lucky to have a personal SAG vehicle with my wife and daughter giving me support.  At one stop they surprised me with Kentucky Fried Chicken! Crazy right!


My SAG driver, my daughter Elisa, partying with me!


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The halfway arch in Centralia, Washington.  I had arranged a hotel accommodation but many riders made it a campout at the location.


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Mid Sunday morning, after ascending a long gradual hill, I stopped at a rest stop and noticed that my front brake was rubbing against the wheel rim.  I could not fix it and neither could other good Samaritans, so I had to ride 10 miles to a major rest stop to find a mechanic tent.



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Towards the finish line.  Notice that I was not even sweating in July!  The weather was idyllic, in the lower ‘70s!



Finishing strong!



Celebrating with an event badge.

Next summer – Seattle to Vancouver?


Bankruptcy  Update

The economy in San Antonio is ever changing. The bankruptcy practice has virtually dried up. I attribute this trend to a number of factors. One, the bankruptcy statute changes enacted in 2005 are finally in full bloom making filing and maintaining a chapter 13 case difficult. The banking practices enacted after the 2008 financial crash has resulted in tight money, meaning reduced borrowing and tighter control on credit card debt. Because there is less debt, there is less need for bankruptcies to wipe it out.  Thirdly, mortgage companies have been very selective on properties they foreclosure upon, resulting in less necessity for bankruptcy protection.

So the era of bankruptcy relief has ended for the foreseeable future. Is this good?  The jury is still our, we will have to see.

Note:  The opinions expressed here are not to be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice in your particular fact situation

This articles was written by David Levinson at the Law Offices of L. David Levinson, P.C., which can be contacted at (210) 829-5033; email us at

Terrorism always wins!

Just by definition, terrorism always wins. Terrorism means uncontrollable fear. Just thinking about terror and your veins constrict and you have an urge to take your shoes off! So it seems counterintuitive that the more we try to suppress it, the more effective it is. it is the ultimate message. For example, just one man on a plane with an apparent bomb in his shoe has sent an everlasting message that is known worldwide in every civilized community in the world. Every advertising agency in the world would die to have thought of a slogan or stunt that would give their client that much worldwide recognition!

Look at the illogical reaction Sony Corporation had to the threat against their film, “The Interview.”  Did anyone in their right mind believe the threat that North Korea was going to blow up movie theaters in Waterloo, Iowa if they played the film?!  Well, as a matter of fact, there were!  Ben Stein, a washed up comedian, and now a TV commentator on CBS morning show on Sunday said that Sony was taking the correct conservative approach when Sony announced that they were not going to release the movie.  Thank G_d we have stood up to terror in the United States.

Now we are dealing with the murders of the French cartoonists and the other terrorist attacks in Paris.  Let’s hope freedom of speech and the power of the pen will prevail.  Everyone should post a cartoon caricature of Mohamed in defiance showing that we are not intimidated by bullies!  Remember, those deaths are the price of freedom.  After all, there is no resistance to the government in totalitarian states.  Look at Syria – the government has made it clear that they will kill every person in their country who is against the government – all millions of them!

To stop terrorism we must make it very clear that we will not let their senseless acts alter our lives and freedoms.  It is a very real war and we are all on the front lines and must stand strong for each other!  Good luck soldier!!!

Light Thoughts on my trip to Israel!

Everyone should go to Israel – Christians, Jews, agnostics.  The history alone is worth the trip, it being one of the origins of civilization. So let’s begin!

The flight over is fourteen hours.  Take a midnight flight and get there in the morning.  Here is how it looks when you wake up!




After landing, rent a car.  Don’t do what I did – have a family member pick me up!




Everywhere you go you see soldiers with very impressive weaponry!  Surprisingly you feel safe and protected.  Everyone speaks English, cars drive on the right, signs are in English, everyone has a cell phone with impressive technology with internet most everywhere.  I felt like I was in the United States, in the State of Israel!





All the food we ate was fresh and good.  The fruit and vegitables were extremely succulent!  At a hotel the breakfast buffet included an actual honeycomb!  The eggs and lox were the best I have ever eaten.  Any country with delicious food has to be on the top of your travel list!

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The Dead Sea, the lowest point on dry Earth, was surprisingly interesting and fun.  The water was clear, clean, and very buoyant!  There was no necessity for sun screen because of the low altitude you are too far away from the Sun to need protection!  Cool huh!   Also interesting was that you travel from desert, to mountains, and beach, all easily within a day.

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In Jerusalem you have it all.  Every culture and religion has rolled through it!  Below are Roman columns recently unearthed, next to the most sacred Jewish religious focal point, the Wailing Wall.  Both of which are next to the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Then there is the Muslim Dome of the Rock sitting practically right on top of the Wailing Wall!  So if you have any interest in any world civilization you can’t beat a trip to Jerusalem

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By L. David Levinson, at 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, telephone – (210) 829-5033, or email me at or

Probate – What is it and Should it be Avoided?

What is Probate?

Warning:  Probate is controlled by each state.  All fifty states have their own individualized probate laws.  In this article the law and process in the state of Texas is the focus.  Readers from other states can read this article for general principles but must consult the law in the state applicable to them.

Probate is a noun and and a verb.  It is a place, an action, and a process!  But again, as my style, let’s start with a little history.

In the middle ages, as we have seen in every movie set in the period, the king on his death bed, would whisper into the ear of his special confidant his dying wishes.  Well, as you can imagine that was a perilous process to pass on one’s legacy.  Enter the introduction of the written Will.

Yes, Wills were in existence since the invention of writing, but it was not until the nineteenth century that anglo saxon Wills became codified into law, with legal requirements and the creation of the probate system.  The purpose of which was to ensure one’s life long work and legacy was passed down to rightful heirs with instructions, duties, authority, and limitations.

Enter the probate system.  It is a place – a court, with extensive monetary jurisdiction and powers.  The purpose of the court is to assure the passing of assets from the decedent, (the person who died,) to the rightful heirs.  Please note the significance of the last sentence – the passing of ASSETS!  Therefore, if there are no assets there is no need for probate.  Probate is solely for the passing of assets.

The cornerstone of the probate process is the existence of a Will.  If there is no Will, the statutes of descent and distribution will be applied to determine the legal heirs.  In Texas they are found in the Texas Estates Code, Chapter 201.

After death the Decedent’s executor presents the Will to the judge of the probate court.  If the Will meets the legal requirements of a Will, it is “admitted into probate,” thus converting the Will from a wish, so to speak, into a court order.  This gives the executor named in the Will the powers specified in the Will, basically letting the Executor step into the shoes of the decedent to transfer the decedent’s property to the people or institutions as instructed in the Will.

In summary, probate is a court, an action in probating an estate, and a process of accomplishing that task.

Should Probate be avoided?

Texas has a very progressive probate statute.  When the Decedent had a valid Will, the probate system is modern, reasonably cost effective, and allows, in many instances, independence with limited court intervention.  So generally probate should not be avoided as a matter of course.

Therefore, a written Will meeting the legal requirements of law is essential for every adult.  Death is often unexpected and there may be children involved, or unexpected property.  Wills are inexpensive and most lawyers can help for a reasonable fee.  Another reason for a Will is to avoid an heirship proceeding if there is no Will.

Unfortunately to answer the question of whether to avoid probate one must consult an attorney to review the facts in each particular case.

The information in this article is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advice on your particular situation.

If you would like further information or help in these matters, please contact me, L. David Levinson, at 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, telephone – (210) 829-5033, or email me at or

Why Bankruptcies are Good!

Ever since credit was invented there has been a problem of what to do when debts are not paid back.  Killing, maiming, prison have all been tried with limited success.  Hundreds of years ago bankruptcy laws were enacted and also had limited success.  In the United States bankruptcies were authorized in the U.S. Constitution, again without much success.

Then the Industrial Revolution began world wide in the mid-Nineteenth century.  This event is one of the most significant events in world history.  It was the transition of a total change in civilization, surpassing the invention of electricity, the automobile, even the computer!  The transition was the change of society from an agricultural farming economy to an urban economic society.

Then in the late 1880’s there was a severe worldwide depression.  One of the situations economists realized was that wages were unconscionably low, and supply of newly invented products was high.  The problem was that because there was a high ratio of debt to income there was no money for people to take advantage of all the new technology and products being produced.  A large share of employee’s wages was going toward repaying old debt.  Few people had money to purchase new technology.  This caused businesses to fail and stiffled incentives for companies to create and produce new products.

Enter a new revised bankruptcy law.  A law that permitted people to wipe out old debt and free their wages to purchase new products, thus stimulating the economy.  It also gave confidence for business to create and venture out into new areas because there was the bankruptcy parachute should the venture be unsuccessful.  Gone were the days of debtor prisons and endless lifelong repayment of old debt.  Thus, bankruptcy became a factor that helped end the depression.  To this day bankruptcy is an important factor in determining the status of the economy and is a tool used to control the money supply.  So when thinking of filing bankruptcy – in the big picture – you are positively effecting the economy by freeing up the money supply!

The information in this article is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advice on your particular situation.

If you would like further information or help in these matters, please contact me, L. David Levinson, at 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, telephone – (210) 829-5033, or email me at or

Service – What Does that mean in a Divorce Case?

In the legal profession, service is a word of art.  In other words, it has a special meaning in the context of the legal field.  Divorces are legal cases.  For an explanation of why divorce cases are handled in court, see my blog, A History of Family Law in Texas.

Because divorces are legal cases, the principles and rules of court apply.  One of the fundamental concepts is “due process of law.”  This is such an important principle it is set out in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.  One of the definitions of this phrase is notice.  Due process of law means notice to an individual that there are legal proceedings pending against them.  All this means is that whenever a person is sued or accused of a crime they must be given notice of the suit or charges.  This is such an important right, it cannot be ignored.

Traditionally notice was given in civil cases by having the sheriff personally handing a copy of the lawsuit to the person being sued.  Then the sheriff would sign an affidavit saying that he completed the task.  The executed affidavit was filed in the papers of the case so that the court could see that both parties are before the court because everyone had received notice of the lawsuit.  The process of personally giving the paperwork to the party in the case is called serving the party.  Hence, service is the act of serving paperwork on a party to a law suit.  The duty of the sheriff to do this task has been expanded to allow private companies to do this work.  They are known as service companies.

Service raises a couple of issues.  There is the factor that people are disrupted and sometimes embarassed by having papers given to them at work or even at home at inappropriate times.  Therefore, at least in divorce cases, this traditional method of service can cause uneasiness from the beginning of the case.  Another issue is financial, service does add fees and expenses to the case.

To help address these two concerns the legislature enacted laws allowing the party to be served to voluntarily execute an affidavit stating that they received the paperwork and waiving the requirement of being personally notified.  This form of waiver avoided fees and expenses and avoided the uncomfortableness of being handed legal paperwork.

The information in this article is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advice on your particular situation.

If you would like further information or help in these matters, please contact me, L. David Levinson, at 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, telephone – (210) 829-5033, or email me at or




The History of Family Law in Texas

Governmental Function

Divorces, and all family law cases, by application are court cases. This is because they are handled as a governmental function.

A governmental function is a task that is very difficult for the individual to complete and assistance is required. Governmental functions can be traced directly back to the Dark Ages Feudal System where regional princes in castles provided services to the fefts that lived under the prince’s protection in exchange for providing the prince with food and other provisions to maintain the castle.

Today the government has taken the place of the castle in this concept. In exchange for taxes paid for the maintenance of the government, the government provides services to the people. Governmental functions include police protection. When a citizen has been robbed the police are called. Citizens do not take justice into there own hands.  When your house burns down the fire department is called. And when a divorce is desired, the court system is invoked.   Why?  Again, history must be reviewed.

Civilization is based on the family unit. It is the foundation for which all civilizations are built. Without families we would be running around without purpose or potential. Therefore, for the preservation of society and concurrently, the government, it is in everyone’s interest to protect the family.

A more pedestrian necessity for court involvement is that without some ultimate judge or arbiter men would beat their wives into submission or conversely wives would secret their children away from their fathers. So it was determined a very long time ago that governmental involvement was necessary. So now we know why family problems become court cases.

So aren’t we done?  Nope!  As society evolved divorce cases became more prevalent. The Problem:  Courts became inundated with family law cases.

The issues (questions) that the court must answer in divorce cases are:  1.  division of assets, and 2.  division of debts.  If there are children, then the court must determine custody, child support, and visitation for the children.

To help the court in expediting these issues the legislature enacted a child support formula  guideline to calculate the proper child support obligation a noncustodian parent should pay.  This guideline did reduce court time in determining the child support issue.  Consequently, the next time the legislature met they passed a visitation schedule guideline which set out the times a noncustodial parent would have a superior right of possession of the children.  This guideline also helped the court by reducing court time in determining visitation rights in divorce cases.

Then the legislature decided to resolve handling the custody issue.  First they changed the common definition of custody from meaning taking care of something to meaning rights.  Rights include the right to make education decisions, medical decisions, authorize a child to wed or enter military service.  Then the legislature said both parents have joint custody, which is fine except there is one right that cannot be divided – the right to determine where the children reside.  So then there were right fight cases as opposed to custody fights!  The legislature realized more work was required to solve the custody issue.  Fortunately they came up with a very ingenious solution.             They enacted an expanded visitation schedule making the possession times for each parent equal. Thus, the argument became that there is no need for custody fights if each parent gets equal access to their children regardless of who determines where the children live.

So that’s where we are today.

The information in this article is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advice on your particular situation.

If you would like further information or help in these matters, please contact me, L. David Levinson, at 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, telephone – (210) 829-5033, or email me at or

Guardianship – What You Need to Know

 As an adult you manage your own affairs.  Everyday you do something that requires your authorization, like buying groceries or gas, working, or vacationing.  You make decisions on what you do, where you live, how you make your money and how you spend it.

But what would happen if you were unable to make those decisions, either because you were unconscious or mentally incapable? Someone else would have to be in charge to act in your behalf, and that person would be a guardian.  The guardian would be authorized to make specific decisions for you.  You can see why guardianships are important.  The general public is not aware of guardianships because they are relatively rarely needed and they require extensive court involvement, which is a fancy way of saying they cost money and require time because there is a reporting requirement to the court.

Are there legal alternatives to guardianship?  Yes, and that is why it is so important to understand this topic.  A simple power of attorney avoids all court and reporting involvement.  Once executed the person named in the power of attorney can perform all the duties and obligations of a guardian, and even more so.  So please, anyone reading this, contact me or another attorney and have this done.  There are car accidents and a multitude of other calamities every hour where people become incapable of making decisions on their own.  So every adult should have one.  Additionally, the cost for an attorney to prepare a power of attorney is extremely reasonable.  There is no excuse not to get a power of attorney and every reason to protect yourself, your family, and even your career.

When a Guardianship is Required

Guardianships are required when a power of attorney does not exist and authorization is required on the persons behalf.  This occurs when young adults are in some sort of accident and severe injury.  They occur when a person loses mental capacity due to illness and no life planning documents where executed while the person was competent.  Because, please note, a power of attorney can only be executed if the person executing it is mentally competent.  Otherwise, a guardianship will be required.  Another situation requiring a guardianship is when a mentally incapacitated child turns eighteen and becomes an adult.  Since that person was never a competent adult to execute a power of attorney, a guardianship is required.  This is important because once a guardian is appointed for that person they can apply for Social Security benefits.  #Guardianship

The information in this article is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advice on your particular situation.

If you would like further information or help in these matters, please contact me, L. David Levinson,  at 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, telephone – (210) 829-5033, or email me at or

The Cost of Divorce

Making the decision to divorce a spouse is one of the most significant life changing events in your life.  it is packed with all the stress, anxiety, and emotions imaginable.  Then there are the legal expenses.

Filing fees run approximately a few hundred dollars.  Service fees are the costs to have a sherif or private company notify the non-filing spouse that a divorce action has been started against them.  Service fees are usually under a $100.00 per document.  Publication fees are required when the location of the non-filing spouse is unknown.  Publication fees are a few hundred dollars.  Many times in divorce cases other professionals must be hired.  These professionals include, other attorneys, social workers, and financial experts.  Fees for these professionals can be quite expensive depending on their services and the case circumstances.  Thousands of dollars each is not uncommon.

Lastly, there are fees to hire one’s attorney.  Fees for this vary widely depending on the time estimate the case requires, the experience of the attorney, the hourly billing rate, the location of the case, the degree opposing counsel is willing to cooperate, the number of issues that need resolution, and countless other factors.

Divorce is an emotionally painful process, but with the right help it can jumpstart your life to a whole new beginning.

For further, and specific information in your particular case, please contact me, L. David Levinson, 12451 Starcrest Dr., Suite 205, San Antonio, TX 78216, email:, web site:, tel., (210) 829-5033.