Friday, May 29, 2009

What’s Eating Up Your Phone Card Minutes?

Before I defected to PC calling, I used to buy phone cards from local grocery stores to place some long-distance or international calls. Oddly enough, for my supposedly 500-minute calling card, some weekly 10-15 minute calls would eat up the card in just a couple of weeks. It’s only after I worked for OneSuite, did I learn that most calling cards have different fees and hidden charges calculated to consume your minutes in no time.

Here are some fees that consumers should know about:

Maintenance fee: The most common of all fees that ranges from 50 cents per month to $1 per week.

Connection fee: Though calling cards are slowly getting rid of this fee, some still charge up to $1 per call.

Communication fee: I am really baffled by this fee. This fee in all its essence is unjustified, yet calling card companies charge up to 25% communication fee of the actual call cost, effectively making the rate 25% more expensive.

Long talking fee: I have to laugh when I read this kind of fee. As if long conversations don’t help consume the minutes fast enough, the company has to charge another fee on top of it. But most consumers are not aware of this fee. The charge is usually 40 cents for every 20 minutes and again brings up the rate to additional 2 cents per minute.

Payphone surcharge: This fee is charged per call whenever you use your calling card through a payphone. The fee is mostly unavoidable as FCC regulations allow payphone companies to impose fees on outside carriers and dial-around services for using their phone. Charges vary from 50 cents to $1.

Disconnection fee: Of all the ridiculous charges, this one takes the cake! This fee applies whenever you hang up a call. Calling card companies charges up to $1 on this one. So, they’re charging you either way, if you keep talking or if you hang up. Can’t win.

I’ve grown to be a wiser since then. But that also means I am a lot more addicted to fine prints. That was until of course, I found the perfect calling card with no hidden charges in OneSuite.


Repost from Onesuite Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dealing with Swine Flu


In February 1976, an outbreak of swine flu struck Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, killing a 19-year-old private and infecting hundreds of soldiers. Concerned that the U.S. was on the verge of a devastating epidemic, President Gerald Ford ordered a nationwide vaccination program at a cost of $135 million (some $500 million in today's money). Within weeks, reports surfaced of people developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nerve disease that can be caused by the vaccine. By April, more than 30 people had died of the condition. Facing protests, federal officials abruptly canceled the program on Dec. 16. The epidemic failed to materialize.

Medical historians and epidemiologists say there are many differences between the relatively benign 1976 outbreak and the current strain of swine flu that is spreading across the globe. But they also say the decisions made in the wake of the '76 outbreak — and the public's response to them — provide a cautionary tale for public health officials, who may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease. 

"I think 1976 provides an example of how not to handle a flu outbreak, but what's interesting is that it made a good deal of sense at the time," says Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of virology at Britain's University of Aberdeen. Pennington points out that conventional wisdom in 1976 held that the 1918 flu pandemic — which started among soldiers and eventually killed as many as 40 million — was the result of swine flu (scientists now know it was in fact a strain of bird flu). Despite modern advances in microbiology, today's health officials still make decisions in a "cloud of uncertainty," Pennington says. "At the moment, our understanding of the current outbreak is similarly limited. For example, we don't yet understand why people are dying in Mexico but not elsewhere." 

In a quickly evolving situation, deciding what public health orders to make becomes as much an art as a science, and can often stir debate. On Monday, for example, health officials in Europe advised citizens to cancel all nonessential trips to Mexico and the U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that advisory was too severe. Such decisions, difficult enough to make on purely medical grounds, become even more complicated when they involve politics. In 1976, President Ford's vaccine program came during an election cycle, and some historians believe he was swayed as much by a desire to display strong leadership as by the advice of health experts. 

Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a historical consultant to the CDC on flu pandemics, says the most vexing decision facing health officials is when to institute mass vaccination programs. Vaccines carry risks of complications, leading to agonizing ethical dilemmas. In 1976, Ford offered indemnity to the vaccine manufacturers. But according to reports, President George W. Bush decided in 2002 not to administer a nationwide smallpox vaccination program — despite Vice President Dick Cheney's belief that doing so was a prudent counterterrorism step — because it could have resulted in dozens of deaths (the smallpox vaccine kills between 1 and 2 people per million people inoculated).

Markel says the political climate in the U.S. is much less combustible today than in the post-Watergate era, when Ford faced a skeptical public. Even so, he says, citizens still need to trust that the government is working for the greater good. He says, "The good news is that our surveillance, methodology and public health professionals have never been better. But we are human and mistakes may be made — as happened with the 1976 swine flu affair — and we may jump the gun in the hope of preserving life. The current outbreak is a situation in flux. The American public has to be forgiving and patient and do [their] part too."



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Never been kissed?

The 47-year-old spinster told viewers of the U.K. TV talent show that she lived alone, had a cat called Pebbles, and had "never been kissed."

But it wasn't true.

Boyle, who has competed in countless talent shows, used the line to curry favor with the audience. She told a TV interviewer from U.K. breakfast show GMTV, "That was made as a joke! Never been kissed? I've never stopped."

The blogosphere has lit up at the news.

"Angel or crazy for publicity? You decide," was how fan site CafeArjun.com responded. "I'm forced to believe it was all a planned show!"

Popwrap.com branded her a "one-trick pony," while NowPublic.com was more understanding: "Do you think a peck on the cheek counts for being kissed?" the site asked. But Boyle's admission has done nothing to dampen the ardor of her millions of new fans. Many believe Boyle, who has been nicknamed the "hairy angel" according to Britain's Daily Mail, should be declared the winner of the show right now. (She has at least one more song to perform).

"Now that Susan Boyle has been acknowledged as a singing sensation for her beautiful voice, I think it would be a good idea to declare her the winner of Britain's Got Talent," wrote C.J. Crane from Mallorca in Spain.

"I am glad Simon Cowell looks like he's going to give her a recording contract," said Raymond Rees from Wales.

British fan D.E. Atkins wrote: "The makeover squad should leave Susan Boyle alone. It is her singing and simplicity that people love. Once they start trying to change Susan's image they will spoil her."

But is it too late? Is overnight stardom already threatening to change Susan Boyle?
Since her first audition, the local council has built a fence around her home to discourage autograph-hunters. Boyle has also hired a hunky live-in bodyguard, been seen sporting an expensive leather jacket, and has agreed to go on a date with one of the judges.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Job interview that will get you the job

provided by
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In recent weeks, recruiters for Consolidated Container Co. have seen job candidates arrive up to an hour early for interviews. Other candidates have alluded to financial hardships while in the hot seat, and one person even distributed bound copies of documents describing projects he completed for past employers.

These sorts of tactics aren't exactly winners.

In today's ultracompetitive job market, even getting an interview is a feat. Yet recruiters and hiring managers say many unemployed candidates blow the opportunity by appearing desperate or bitter about their situations — often without realizing it.

"People are becoming a lot more aggressive," says Julie Loubaton, director of recruiting and talent management for Atlanta-based Consolidated Container. "They often wind up hurting themselves."


Stand Out

At an interview, you want to stand out for the right reasons. To do so, you'll need to leave your baggage and anxiety at the door. For starters, wait until 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time to announce yourself. Arriving any sooner "shows that you're not respectful of the time the hiring manager put aside for you," says Ms. Loubaton, adding that a candidate who arrived an hour early made workers uncomfortable. "Companies really don't want someone camped out in their lobby."

Signal confidence by offering a firm handshake, adds Wendy Alfus Rothman, president of Wenroth Consulting Inc., an executive coaching firm in New York. Focus your attention on the interviewer. Avoid looking around the room, tapping your fingers, or other nervous movements.

No matter how you're feeling, keep your personal woes out of the interview process, asserts Ms. Alfus Rothman. Instead, always exude an upbeat attitude. For example, if you were laid off, instead of lamenting the situation, you might say the experience prompted you to reassess your skills, and that's what led you here. "You want to demonstrate resilience in the face of unpredictable obstacles," she says.


Do your homework

Meanwhile, show you've done your homework on the company by explaining how your background and track record relates to its current needs, adds Deborah Markus, founder of Columbus Advisors LLC, an executive-search firm in New York. This is particularly important if the firm is in a different industry than the one you worked in before. To stand out, you'll need to look up more than just basics on company leadership and core businesses. You'll also need to find out — and understand — how recent changes in the marketplace have affected the firm, its competitors and industry overall. Read recent company press releases, annual reports, media coverage and industry blogs, and consult with trusted members of your network. "Companies that may have been performing well just a few months ago might be in survival mode now," says Ms. Markus. "You want to understand how [they're] positioned today."

Also, be sure to show you're a strong fit for the particular position you're seeking, adds Kathy Marsico, senior vice president of human resources at PDI Inc., a Saddle River, N.J., provider of sales and marketing services for pharmaceutical companies. Offer examples of past accomplishments — not just responsibilities you've held — and describe how they're relevant to the opportunity. "You must differentiate yourself like never before," she says. "You need to customize yourself and make yourself memorable."

Sherry R. Brickman, a partner at executive-search firm Martin Partners LLC, says a candidate recently impressed her with this sort of preparation. "He knew the company's product line and what markets it was already in," she says of the man, who was interviewing for an executive post at a midsize industrial manufacturer. "He clearly and effectively explained how he could cut costs, increase sales and expand market share based on what he'd done in his current job." The candidate was hired.


Don't over do it

Be careful not to go too far, though, in your quest to stand out. For example, it may be tempting to offer to work temporarily for free or to take a lesser salary than what a job pays. But experts say such bold moves often backfire on candidates. "Employers want value," says Lee Miller, author of Get More Money on Your Next Job ... In Any Economy. "They don't want cheap."

Your best bet is to wait until you're extended a job offer before talking pay. "In a recession, employers are going to be very price sensitive," says Mr. Miller. "The salary you ask for may impact their decision to move forward." Come prepared having researched the average pay range for a position in case you're pressured to name your price, he adds. You might say, for example, that money isn't a primary concern for you and that you're just looking for something fair, suggests Mr. Miller. You can try turning the tables by asking interviewers what the company has budgeted for the position.

In some cases, you may be looking just for a job to get you through so you might consider a less-than-perfect fit. But if you aren't really excited about an opportunity, keep it to yourself, warns David Gaspin, director of human resources at 5W Public Relations in New York. "I've had times where people come in and it's clear that if they really had their preference, they'd be doing something different," he says. "You don't want to put that out on the table. Nobody wants to hire someone who's going to run for the door when times get better."


Follow up

After an interview, take caution with your follow-up. If you're in the running for multiple jobs at once, make sure to address thank-yous to the right people, career experts advise. Also look closely for spelling and grammatical errors. In a competitive job market, employers have the luxury of choice, and even a minor faux pas can hurt your chances.

If all has gone well, don't stalk the interviewer. Wait at least a week before checking on your candidacy, adds Jose Tamez, managing partner at Austin-Michael LP, an executive-search firm in Golden, Colo. Call recruiters only at their office, even if their business card lists a home or cell number. Leave a message if you get voicemail. These days, recruiters typically have caller ID and can tell if you've tried reaching them multiple times without leaving a voicemail. "There's a fine line between enthusiasm and overenthusiasm," he says.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Confession of a Massage Therapist

A spa is not a "massage parlor"

The most common question massage therapists get asked is whether we are propositioned. Being a professional, I usually give a vague answer and move on. The truth is, it happens all the time. Las Vegas is a place where people feel they can disregard boundaries, but if you get a massage in a spa at a major hotel, rest assured your therapist is not a prostitute. The insinuation is a huge insult. That hasn't stopped people from making offers ("I'll give you $100 to finish me off"), exposing or even touching themselves, or grabbing me. If you do anything along these lines, realize that everyone on the hotel staff will know about it before you've left the spa, that your massage will come to an abrupt, unhappy ending--and yes, you will pay for the full hour!

Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene
We are happy to massage you after you've spent two hours in the gym...once you've showered. If you have something contagious, such as athlete's foot, disclose it up front. Likewise, it is never OK to come in for a massage in the throes of the flu. Your body aches and a massage sounds heavenly, but it's wrong to expose your therapist and other guests to a disease. We are paid a commission for each massage, and when we're sick, we have no income. And FYI: Your flu symptoms will feel much worse in the hours following a massage.


Common courtesy
You're sharing the facilities with others, so shut off your cell phone. And due to the revolting behavior we sometimes witness, it needs to be said: Don't be disgusting. I'll skip the graphic details, but suffice it to say guests have done things in the showers and the whirlpool that are so unsanitary it's necessary to shut them down. A classy spa doesn't guarantee classy clients.


Tips are not comped
Hotels offer high rollers complimentary gifts, or comps, in the form of casino credits, rides in hotel limos, meals, and spa treatments. The comp covers the service, not gratuities. Tips are a big part of our income, and it baffles us when comped guests fail to tip. What's $20 when you've just had a $100 massage at no cost? (The standard tip is around 20 percent, preferably in cash or casino chips, and you can put it in an envelope at check-out or hand it directly to us, whichever you prefer. Tipping with a credit card is typically fine, but some spas add tips to our paychecks and deduct taxes.) Beware that some spas automatically add a gratuity to non-comped guest bills. The spa should disclose this when your appointment is booked and again upon check-in. However, if you really appreciate the work (say, the migraine that's been plaguing you disappears) give a little extra. Only part of the automatic gratuity makes it into my hands; the rest is spread among changing room attendants and the concierge.


When we say deep...
Many guests, men in particular, don't think a woman can give a good deep-tissue massage. They'll even cause a stink when there's no male therapist available. Big mistake. That female therapist will likely go to the extreme and give you a painfully deep massage. (We know what hurts.) The guest usually whines that the pressure is too much-or is too macho to admit it, and spends what should be a blissful hour in wretched discomfort. For that matter, guests who try to direct their therapist's every move will likely end up disappointed. Have faith that your therapist is qualified to know what needs work and what doesn't.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Got a call from 509-362-9996?

Report it and help to identify who and why is calling from this number.

We got 3 calls from this number on our office land line numbers and 2 numbers on our voip based numbers at work. We can only hear voice recording in Spanish at the other line and based on what I found out over the net, its saying something like "You've won a cruise trip to Cancun" or something to that effect.
I also got a call on my mobile a few minutes later and even my Onesuite voip number wasn't spared.

Because I was curious and furious, I Googled the number and voila! Hundreds of results showed up within the past 24 hours. People were complaining that their numbers are registered under the "No call list" or National Registry. People got the same call on their mobile phones too which we all know aren't listed online or atleast it's more difficult to access than a regular landline.

Anyways I think whoever is doing this has some kind of program that dials random numbers and then fish for someone who will call them back. As a result they will have a list of valid numbers (landline and mobile) that they can sell or use again in the future.

The number has an area code of 509 (Washington state) and using a phone number look up it says its in Spokane, WA or they're only using virtual numbers and can be anywhere (say India) in the world.

I think FCC should do something about this because for the past 24 hours, this spammer has been calling thousands of numbers across the US whether your number is listed under the no call list or not.

Here's some Google results where people complains about getting a call from this number.

http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/5093629996
http://phoneowner.info/Number.aspx/5093629996
http://www.callercomplaints.com/SearchResult.aspx?Phone=509-362-9996
http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-509-362-9996
http://whocalled.us/lookup/5093629996
http://www.annoyingcallers.com/area/509-362

Kobe Bryant made history with 61 points at MSG

NEW YORK — Kobe Bryant broke the current Madison Square Garden record with 61 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers looked plenty potent without Andrew Bynum in a 126-117 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

Bryant teased and pleased a sold-out crowd that took turns booing him and saluting him with "MVP!" chants during an electrifying performance. He passed Michael Jordan's opponent record of 55 points at the present building, known as "Garden IV," when he hit three free throws with 3:56 remaining, then bettered Bernard King's mark of 60, set on Christmas Day 1984, with two more foul shots with 2:33 to play.

Bryant, who also finished with the highest-scoring game in the NBA this season, left to a loud ovation after the 24th 50-point game of his career. It was also his fifth 40-point game here.

Pau Gasol added 31 points and 14 rebounds in the Lakers' first game since losing Bynum, their starting center, for eight to 12 weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. They'll be fine without him if Bryant plays the way he did Monday, going 19-of-31 with an array of tough jumpers, powerful drives to the basket and perfect foul shooting. He also hit all 20 free throws.

It was the greatest scoring night in Garden history. Jordan had 55 points in 1995, and Bernard King had 60 in 1984 and now Bryant passes everyone with 61. Now, LeBron comes to the Garden on Wednesday night with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he doesn’t have the stomach for such single-minded shooting nights. James always wanted to be more Magic than Michael. Only Jordan did it three games into his comeback from a year and a half in minor league baseball, and Phil Jackson remembered, “He wasn’t really totally himself as a player. We just stuck him in the post that night.”

Bryant has become a better teammate, a better team player, but his core is unchanged: Ultimately, he goes it alone. As well as anyone since Jordan, he creates high drama and elevates himself to reach it. He started scoring fast and never stopped. The Knicks were props. They looked as liable to ask him for his autograph as they did try to defend him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mind Control

If you see this lady turning in clockwise you are using your right brain. If you see it the other way, you are using left brain. Some people do see both ways, but most people see it only one way.See if you can make her go one way and then the other by shifting the brain's current.

BOTH DIRECTIONS CAN BE SEEN.

Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. The following table illustrates the differences between left-brain and right-brain thinking:

Left Brain - Right Brain

Logical - Random
Sequential - Intuitive
Rational - Holistic
Analytical - Synthesizing
Objective - Subjective
Looks at parts - Looks at whiles

Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes. In general, schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain activities. Left-brain scholastic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Right-brained subjects, on the other hand, focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.

If you look away, she may switch from one direction to the other. I found that if I just look at her feet or relax and look at the floor where the reflection shows, she will switch direction! Are both of your Brains working??

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

44th President of the United States


My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Passenger plane down in Hudson river

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A US Airways jet with more than 150 people on board came down into the frigid Hudson River off Manhattan after apparently hitting a flock of geese on Thursday and officials said everyone was rescued.

The Federal Aviation Administration said "We've confirmed everyone got off." A number of people were injured and taken to New York hospitals on a day that had seen a snow storm in the morning and below freezing temperatures.

The FAA said it was investigating reports that the Airbus A320 plane hit a flock of birds after taking off from New York's LaGuardia airport. Witnesses saw it make an emergency landing, kicking up a cloud of spray on the river.
US Airways said 150 passengers and five crew were aboard the Airbus A320 when it came down.

The pilot radioed flight controllers that he had hit birds a few miles (kilometers) from the airport, law enforcement sources said.

A passenger told Reuters that a few minutes after takeoff he heard what sounded like and explosion.

"The engine blew. There was fire everywhere and it smelled like gas," Jeff Kolodjay, from Norwalk, Connecticut, told Reuters on a midtown Manhattan quay.

He said the pilot announced that the plane was going down and told passengers to brace for the impact. After the plane landed on the water, he said, "People were bleeding all over. We hit the water pretty hard. It was scary."

"You gotta give it to the pilot, he made a hell of a landing," said Kolodjay, visibly shaken from his experience. The pilot brought the plane down in a cloud of spray in the fast moving river, which runs to the West of Manhattan island.

Kolodjay said he and others climbed onto a life raft and were rescued from there.
Another rescued passenger, Alberto Panero, told CNN, "It's just incredible that everyone's alive."

As many as eight ferries and local water taxi services rushed to rescue passengers, some of whom lined up on the half-submerged plane's wings wearing yellow life vests, before police boats arrived.

EXTRAORDINARY LANDING

Aviation experts said that landing a commercial jet on water without the plane breaking apart was extraordinary.

"A water landing is typically even more destructive than a ground landing. It is amazing an Airbus jet was able to land in the river without breaking up," said Max Vermij, a plane accident investigator with Accident Cause Analysis of Ottawa, Canada.

He speculated the plane would have hit the water at a speed of about 140 knots. "Typically the wings and engines would break off on impact, water would plow into the jet and tear apart the fuselage."

At St. Luke's Roosevelt hospital in midtown Manhattan, patients arrived with one elderly couple still wearing their life preservers. A hospital spokesman said he expected as many as 50 patients with exposure and secondary injuries, while more serious injuries being sent to nearby hospitals.

Thomson Reuters employee Alex Whittaker who was in a 22nd floor meeting room at the company's Times Square building, said, "I saw the plane coming in very low but under control, it splashed down in the water. Once it cleared it was still floating on its belly.

"The doors opened and we could see life rafts and we could just about see a few people climbing out onto the water."

Flight 1549 was headed for Charlotte, North Carolina.

Nick Prisco was driving on the highway by the river when he saw the incident and pulled over.
Like many in a city that lived through the 9/11 attacks, the sight of a plane flying so low immediately revived for him memories of the attack by hijacker airliners in 2001. "It was bizarre, it was surreal. I thought it was a terrorist attack," he told Reuters.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington said there were no indications that this incident was a result of a terrorist attack.

National Transportation Safety Board records show there have been more than 200 incidents involving bird strikes since 1962.

Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of US Airways, said it was too soon to speculate on what caused the incident.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Luckiest teen on The Price is Right!

video

It was Taylor's birthday and his luckiest day at the same time. Watch what happens as Taylor's celebrates his 19th birthday.