Some news items. New and Old:
Free 411 Calls:
"True, but there is a small catch -- you may have to listen to a few seconds of advertising before you get the information you really want.
1-800-FREE-411 is a new service offered to Internet and cell phone users in which the usual directory assistance fee is defrayed by advertisers instead of callers.
It works like this: When you ask for the number of, say, a particular local restaurant, you first hear a brief, roughly 10-second ad for a competing restaurant. At the end of the message, you are offered the option of connecting to either business.
Though some callers may find the process confusing at first, it's a safe bet that many 411 users will happily sit through the commercials instead of paying the fees -- as much as US$3.00 per call or more, in some instances -- charged by their own service providers."
Not Just Debit Fees: Other Ways U.S. Banks Cost Customers
"The era of the debit card fee may have come and gone, but plenty of bank charges remain.
Indeed, with all the talk of debit fees, it's easy to forget about all the other reasons banks will charge you. And as of October 2010, the median bank account had been issued a staggering 49 separate types of fees, ranging from $1.50 to $175, according to an April report by the Pew Charitable Trust. The report examined fees and policies at 10 of the largest banks in the United States.
Since last year, though, some things have changed. For example, while the Pew report estimated overdraft fees alone would cost Americans around $38 billion this year, Bloomberg Businessweek more recently found that number would fly in around $16 billion.
Other less-known fees, such as returned check fees and stop payment fees, cost customers an average $12 and $29 each, respectively. But with interest rates expected to remain near zero through 2013, according to the Federal Reserve, more fees may be on the horizon as banks struggle to raise revenue.
BofA has already seen one proposed fee fail this year. After announcing a five dollar debit card fee, BofA was forced to deal with widespread complaints from its customers. The bank ultimately abandoned the fee, but not after more than 650,000 people joined credit unions following BofA's debt announcement, more than in all of 2010.
And the fees continue to come, hidden or not. The Chicago Tribune reports that many big banks are instituting fees on previously-free services. Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase have upped their fees for entry-level services, according to the New York Times.
Banks have even put fees on customers who receive unemployment benefits. Surcharges paid by American welfare recipients will cost over $16 million this year, according to an analysis by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, cited by The Huffington Post.
Abraham Lincoln Sword Stolen From Tomb Statue
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — "Copper thieves have struck at Abraham Lincoln's burial site in Springfield, Ill.
An employee recently noticed that a copper statue atop the tomb was missing a 3-foot-long sword. The statue is of a Civil War artillery officer.
The sword was allegedly taken sometime between September and early November. It was broken at the handle.
Dave Blanchette is spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. He tells the (Springfield) State Journal-Register ( ) that the theft is believed to be the first to state property stolen at the Lincoln Tomb Historic Site since the same sword was stolen more than a century ago.
State officials plan to repair the statue.
A guard used to be stationed at the tomb overnight, but Blanchette says the position was cut amid budget problems."
The thief broke off the roughly 3-foot-long sword at the handle. No significant damage was done to the rest of the statue of a Civil War artillery officer.
Now about a different Island:
Sometimes Island, TX
"The Texas drought has revealed a bit of property that's known because sometimes you see it, sometimes you don't.
So-called Sometimes Island is now part of a peninsula jutting out about three-quarters of a mile into Lake Travis.
"The Austin American-Statesman (http://www.statesman.com/news/local/no-boat-needed-to-get-to-sometimes-island-1966834.html) reported Monday that the lake, for the first time since the 1960s, is so low that visitors can walk from Mansfield Dam Park to Sometimes Island. The island's name came about because the land is only exposed during droughts.
The chief park ranger, Dan Chapman, says the peninsula is pretty brushy and unappealing.
The area was part of a farm on which cattle grazed before Mansfield Dam was finished in 1941."
"Two tiny Iraqi boys are born with major birth defects during war. They’re thrown away in a shoe box. Both were suffering from limb deficiencies because of chemical warfare. When found, an Australian woman adopts them.
At 17, the older Emmanuel lives his dream by singing "IMAGINE" on X-Factor-WOW.
Sydney, Australia, Oct 25, 2011 / 06:24 pm (CNA).-
"Even though he is only 17 years old, Emmanuel Kelly has taken Australia by storm this fall with his X Factor performances. But he says all of his success could not have happened without his Catholic mom, Moira Kelly."
“My hero would have to be my mother. She worked extremely hard to change my life hugely,” Emmanuel told X Factor judges before his first performance in September.
Moira, 47, has given her adult life to helping disadvantaged children around the world, including working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta.
Because of her desire to help children in such dire straights, Moira went to war-torn Iraq in the mid 1990s. While she was there Moira came across Emmanuel and his brother Ahmed in an orphanage run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
The baby boys had been found by the nuns in a shoe box in a Baghdad park.
“It was like looking at an angel when mum, Moira Kelly, walked through the orphanage door,” Emmanuel told the talent show judges. “She brought us both to Australia for surgery originally and then mum sort of fell in love with both of us.”
Used Car Buyer Finds His Car Comes With Illegal 'Options'
These bags of surprises were stuffed inside the door panels
Charles Preston, a resident of San Jose, found a lot of cocaine in his used vehicle (Courtesy of the Mercury News)
"Every car owner aspires to own the top-of-the-line model, one that comes with options the neighbors don't have.
But few wish for the extras a California man found in his used minivan. San Jose, Calif., psychologist Charles Preston found $500,000 worth of cocaine hidden in the door panels of his used Chrysler Town & Country 15 months after he bought the car, when his car was in the shop having its brakes examined, the Mercury News reported.
The vehicle, which Preston purchased for $14,000 from Thrifty Car Sales in Santa Clara, Calif., had defective windows. That's because the cocaine was in the way, according to the Mercury News.
During the car's time in the shop, a manager at San Jose's DHT Collision & Service Center noticed something was wrong with the insulation in the window panel. It turned out to be the drugs wrapped in cellophane.
The cops confiscated the drugs hidden in the window panels, the paper said, along with the packages found in the wheel wells. Police told him to get rid of the car, fast, in case the drug runners were still looking for it, the paper said.
There are no suspects yet, and tracking them down may take some time since the minivan previously belonged to a rental car agency.
Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a San Jose police spokesman, told the Mercury News that based on the packaging, he suspected the cocaine had been a long haul, maybe from another state or from across the Mexican border.
Preston told the the Mercury News that he used the van to transport food he buys for the needy in his area, but feared he might be tracked by a drug cartel.
But he's not driving it anymore. The owner of Thrifty Car Sales originally agreed to buy back the van for $4,000 less than Preston already paid, but ultimately decided to replace Preston's vehicle with a drug-free ride." From: http://autos.aol.com/article/used-car-buyer-finds-drugs/?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl15%7Csec1_lnk3%7C112525
Scammers Send Fake Speeding Tickets To Drivers which contain Trojan.
Move over Nigerian princes; new scammers are hooking folks with tickets from N.Y. state
Email scammers masquerading as the government have been targeting New Yorkers (Courtesy of Sophos). by: Ross Kenneth Urken
"A scam that could've been developed by a kid on his bedroom computer is conning drivers into believing they owe money on an old New York State speeding ticket.
According to MSNBC, the scammers are sending out emails that say the driver got a "uniform traffic ticket from New York state. It looks legit -- the return address is @nyc.gov. But opening a zip file to pay the bill puts a Trojan horse virus on your computer, which could allow hackers to track your private information like credit card numbers and passwords.
"It wasn't very sophisticated as they spammed it worldwide, rather than narrowing the focus to the U.S. or even to New York," said Beth Jones, senior threat researcher at computer security firm SophosLabs US. "It easily could've been some kid in his room who wanted to see if he could make some 'easy money' from hard-working folks."
Because red-light cameras and speed detectors are so prevalent these days, it's no longer uncommon to get nabbed with a ticket in the mail.
The email tells recipients to print up the attachment and send it to Chatam Hall, a seemingly plausible New York name."
New Study Shows This Vitamin Helps Prevent Depression
"A study of more than 81,000 women found those with the highest intake of vitamin D from food sources had a significantly lower prevalence of depressive symptoms.
The researchers suggested that vitamin D may affect the function of dopamine and norepinephrine.
These are neurotransmitters that are likely involved in depression, while also modulating the relationship between depression and inflammation.
This adds to growing evidence showing that if you're suffering from depression one of the best choices you can make is to spend as much time outdoors in the sun as possible.
Sun exposure is by far the best way to optimize your levels of vitamin D.
This is particularly useful to know as Daylight Savings Time is now over for most and will not having access to enough sunshine to make vitamin D until spring.
Vitamin D Fights Depression
The connection between vitamin D and depression is not new. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.
In the current study, researchers found that intake of more than 400 IU of vitamin D from food sources was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of depressive symptoms compared with intake of less than 100 IU. This was a significant benefit from a very small amount of vitamin D -- as 400 IU is far too low to benefit most people (not to mention your body is made to get vitamin D primarily from the sun, not food or supplements, as I'll explain below).
It now appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the lowest they should be. Ideally your serum levels should be between 50-70 ng/ml, and up to 100 ng/ml to treat cancer and heart disease.
It's likely that vitamin D fights depression via several pathways, not only directly in your brain but also via inflammation. Vitamin D receptors have been identified throughout the human body, and that includes in your brain. Researchers have located metabolic pathways for vitamin D in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories.
Sufficient vitamin D is also imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation, and other research has discovered that depressed people tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains."
"In order to establish one’s vitamin D level, one needs to have this checked by means of a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test, the most accurate measure of the amount of vitamin D in the body.
25-hydroxy vitamin D test
The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.
In the kidney, 25-hydroxy vitamin D changes into an active form of the vitamin. The active form of vitamin D helps control calcium and phosphate levels in the body."
Antidepressants and aspirin:
Another wrath caused by Mother Nature.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Another aftershock to a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that rattled Oklahoma earlier this month has been reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports a 3.1 magnitude tremor was recorded about five miles northeast of Johnson in Lincoln County Wednesday morning, on 16th. Nov.
The Nov. 5 quake, the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma, damaged 40 homes and caused the collapse of a tower at St. Gregory's University in Shawnee.
If that was not enough, tornados followed, that damaged many areas, and killed 100 calves.
"A crumpled airplane on the tarmac shows damage from Monday nights severe weather at Max Westheimer Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, in Norman, Okla." Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
On This Day:
Nov 19, 1863:
Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address
"On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.
The Battle of Gettysburg, fought some four months earlier, was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing. The battle also proved to be the turning point of the war: General Robert E. Lee's defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army's ultimate decline.
Reception of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was initially mixed, divided strictly along partisan lines. Nevertheless, the "little speech," as he later called it, is thought by many today to be the most eloquent articulation of the democratic vision ever written."
People who live in glass houses have to clean glass.
With two patio doors in my living room, and mirrored sliding doors on the closets, it took a while to clean the finger prints and dog nose art off my doors and windows.
Even Bobbiecat's window in my bathroom, was not exempt from cat nose art. I cleaned glass until my wrist could do no more.
A bunch of junk mail was shredded in my 'new' shredder, and many emails either answered, forwarded or deleted.
It went down to 34 the night before, and warmed up to a high of 64 yesterday, with a low of 59 last night. But the weather is warming up again now, and it will be in the high 70's and even low 80's for the rest of the week.
More of my time was spent repotting some of the damaged aloe vera plants, and I didn't let the kittens back out on the screen porch at all yesterday.