Tuesday, April 27, 2010


So which hotel is the best? rooms wise and price wise???

The mains ones off know off the bat are

Marriott Chains, Hilton Chains, Best Western, Embassy Suites, Ramada, of course there many more but these are the ones i used the most in my experiences. its a tie between:

My first should would be the Hilton Garden Inn Hotels, I tried one in Charlotte,NC and Miami,Fl there Suites was a good price at 109.00 a night. which includes a nice jacuzzi:) Heres more info on the room

Guestroom Suite featuring 1 king-size bed and a whirlpool tub. Enjoy the comfort of this elegantly appointed room featuring all of the touches of home plus the latest in technology! Each guestroom features a 27" television, a large work area equipped with oversized desk, ergonomic desk chair, complimentary high-speed internet access, two-line speakerphone, adjustable lighting, and desk-level electrical outlets. When you are ready to relax, sink into your easy chair to enjoy something prepared at your hospitality center, featuring a refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker with complimentary coffee and tea. Each guestroom is also equipped with an iron and ironing board and an alarm clock radio with an MP3 jack. The bathroom has a beautiful granite vanity, curved shower rod, and hair dryer.

My second choice is Embassy Suites Hotels these are 1 bedroom rooms with all the kitchen stuff the rooms are nice but there Atrium set is very nice and relaxing to read a book or enjoy a good book you will feel like your on vacation just relaxing there or taking a swim in there indoor pool more info at http://embassysuites1.hilton.com/en_US/es/index.do

Thoses are my top 2 hotels i like to chill at when on vacation now if i'm in my favorite Asian city which is Pattaya,Thailand. This is not a hotel chain but a perfect place for frequent visitors and new ones is the Vault www.thevaultpattaya.com
I mentioned this place before nice set up of there suites and the owner is a friendly American and always approachable. So those are my top 3 :)

On a side note if you happen to be in Pattaya Thailand and like Mussels check out Bar Italia at the Central shopping mall. the best I've tasted in a while luv them with a Heineken.

Multiple Pedestrians Ignore Dying New York Hero

Sad story, Hopefully someone will come forward and help find the guy

(April 24) -- A homeless man who was stabbed while saving a woman from a knife-wielding attacker lay dying in a pool of his own blood for more than an hour while several New Yorkers walked past without calling for help.

Surveillance video obtained by the New York Post shows that some passers-by paused to gawk at Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax early Sunday morning and yet kept on walking.

One man came out of a nearby building and took a cellphone photo of the victim before leaving. Another leaned over and vigorously shook the dead man before walking away. But most people never stopped.

Firefighters arrived more than an hour and 20 minutes after Tale-Yax collapsed. By that time, the 31-year-old was dead.

"They needed to help and call the police. I don't get it," resident Ramon Bellasco, 46, told the Post.

The incident happened at 7:21 a.m. almost a week ago at 88 Road and 144th Street in the borough of Queens, but police didn't have a clear idea of what happened until recently.

Tale-Yax is seen on the grainy video approaching a man who was threatening a woman with a knife. The man turned and stabbed Tale-Yax but most of the action is out of the security camera's field of vision. Both the stabber and the woman then fled in different directions and Tale-Yax stumbled a few paces before collapsing face-down on the sidewalk.

Within a minute or so, the first of a long series of people begins walking by Tale-Yax without going to his aid.

Police told the Post they received four 911 calls at around the time of the attack reporting a woman screaming, but found nothing. They said they received no other 911 calls.

The incident is reminiscent of the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese, also in Queens, in 1964. In that case, dozens of people witnessed some or all of the attack and yet no one did anything to stop it.

No arrests have been made in the latest slaying, and police have been unable to identify the woman Tale-Yax was trying to help.

more @ http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/multiple-pedestrians-ignore-dying-new-york-hero-hugo-alfredo-tale-yax/19452892?icid=main|hp-laptop|dl1|link2|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aolnews.com%2Fnation%2Farticle%2Fmultiple-pedestrians-ignore-dying-new-york-hero-hugo-alfredo-tale-yax%2F19452892

Troubles in Thailand

Most of you know i like Thailand, But i would recommend until the government gets these protesters at ease you might want to stay away from Thailand before they decide to close the airport again like they did last year and you will be stuck out there for an extra month.. for those of you taking that risk the beaches area( Pattaya, Phuket, Chiangmai) seem to be safe areas from the protest, but Bangkok areas seems to be the hot zones, read more below and posted some news links i look at after that. so if you go made sure you have extra money and credit cards.

From news.com

US cautions travelers to Thailand

The United States on Tuesday urged its citizens to exercise caution when visiting Thailand after violent protests, but stopped short of telling them to stay away.

In updated travel advice, the State Department warned that political demonstrations were expected to continue "indefinitely" in Bangkok and that they could suddenly escalate into violence.

"US citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok," the State Department said.

However, the State Department said that incidents in Thailand "appear to be motivated by domestic politics and do not appear to be acts of international terrorism."

"Travel to Thailand remains generally safe," it said.

The travel advice is similar to guidance given to US citizens a week ago except the updated statement does not specifically ask travelers to avoid Khao San Road, a backpacker haven where the protests spilled over.

The travel alert was issued as Thailand toughened its stance against protesters, warning that security forces would use live ammunition and tear gas in any fresh clashes.

The anti-government demonstrators, known as Red Shirts, canceled a rally in the financial hub.
more @ http://news.ph.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4042141

Thailand news sites:



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Worst Case Travel Scenarios

Good read:

From Yahoo news

Everyone expects that their vacation will be fantastic. The sun will shine every day and the most unexpected occurrence will be the discovery of an extra cocktail umbrella in your Daiquiri. But travel mishaps can -- and do -- happen. No matter how impeccably the itinerary is planned and how perfectly the bag is packed, some situations are out of your control. You can't keep that storm forming off Africa from making a turn into to the Caribbean just after your plane lands. Or that determined thief from lightening your load. But lots of situations can be made much easier by taking some simple precautions before setting off. And if disaster strikes far from home, knowing what to do can mean the difference between a catastrophe and a holiday hiccup. Here are seven worst-case scenarios, and what you can do to protect yourself.

I lost my passport abroad!

In advance:
Make copies of the ID page and leave one in the hotel safe and one with someone back home. You can also email the ID number and the issue and expiration dates to yourself in a password-protected zip file. It's always smart to note the contact details and locations of the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest your destination.

If it happens:
Report the loss immediately to the U.S. State Department and inform local police. Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate -- they are the only ones who can get you home. Consular personnel are available 24-7 to provide emergency assistance. The photocopied ID page will make proving citizenship easier and it may even allow officials to issue you a limited-validity passport within 24 hours. But be aware that once a passport is reported lost or stolen it is invalidated and won't get you back in to the U.S. if you happen to find it hiding under the bed.

My wallet was stolen!

In advance:
If you are traveling abroad, make sure you have the international contact numbers for all your credit card companies and banks. Note the numbers for bank accounts and travelers' checks and consider emailing details to yourself with the information divided between several emails. Write down the contact details of the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest to your destination. It's always good advice to divide your money and keep emergency cash in a few separate places.

If it happens:
Report the loss to local police and cancel bank and credit cards. If you still have vacation time left, your bank may be able to send you a new card via priority shipping. Call the DMV to report your lost license and arrange for a new one to be waiting for you on your return. Someone back home can easily wire money to a Western Union office, but if you find yourself without any access to funds, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate.

My luggage was lost!

In advance:
Keep medications, cash, jewelry, and vital documents in your carry-on and tuck a change of clothes in there for good measure. List the checked bags' contents and make sure your insurance covers expensive items. Add up-to-date nametags on your bags inside and out, using sturdy, plastic or leather tags on the outside. Put an itinerary in your bag and make sure you know the suitcase brand name. Tie an identifying ribbon or strap to your luggage to make it easier to locate. Avoid tight connection times when booking, check-in early, and make sure the right destination and flight number are on the checked bag tag before it goes on the conveyor belt.

If it happens:
Millions of bags are delayed, lost, damaged, or stolen each year, but most bags are reunited with owners within 24 hours. The airline will usually deliver bags to your home or hotel once they are located. If your bag is not bobbing round the carousel, take your bag check stubs to the airline's baggage agent, describe your bag in detail, and fill out lost luggage forms. Ask for a written claim for damages. You can also ask the agent whether they can assist with petty cash or even coverage for rentals if ski equipment or golf clubs are delayed. Keep all receipts for replacement items; compensation varies from airline to airline, but all offer some.

I was overcharged!

In advance:
It may seem extreme, but an alibi can be helpful. Receipts that prove you dined elsewhere -- or are a teetotal vegetarian -- may help you contest that charge for someone else's filet mignon and Merlot from room service. If not planning on drinking in-room, decline the mini-bar key and don't move anything in the electronic fridge. Never assume anything is free -- always call and check with the front desk before using hotel services.

If it happens:
Deal with the overcharge as soon as possible. If bringing the matter to the attention of the front desk clerk does not resolve things, ask to speak to management. If the situation is still not satisfactorily sorted, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.

My hotel room was robbed!

In advance:
If in any doubt, check online travel forums to make sure you will be staying in a reputable hotel. But even if you are staying at a four-star resort you should never leave cash, electronics, or credit cards in plain sight. Be sure to make good use of your hotel room safe (or the safe at the front desk). Lock your luggage when you head out for the day or, if this isn't possible, arrange strategic items on top of your bag so you can keep an eye out for tampering.

If it happens:
Alert hotel management immediately, file a police report, and cancel any cards necessary. Even if credit cards remain when you return to your ransacked room, numbers may have been written down by your uninvited guests. If any personal identification was taken, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

I have a medical emergency!

In advance:
Check health conditions and available medical services at your destination and fully investigate your insurance coverage. Do you need to make any changes for destinations with a State Department advisory in effect? Are you insured for that hot air balloon trip? Does your policy cover medical evacuation? If not, consider joining a company like MedjetAssist that offers worldwide medical evacuation for an annual or weekly fee. Make sure you have adequate medication for your vacation plus an extra week's supply in case of delays and keep all meds in their original containers. Carry a letter from your physician outlining immunizations, medical conditions, and allergies to prescription medications, like penicillin. Always wear a medical alert bracelet if you have a serious condition such as diabetes. Go further and make wallet-sized cards with allergies and medical information in the language of the countries you will be in and make sure traveling companions know the details. And always carry your insurance card with you.

If it happens:
Injuries caused by activities like scuba diving or bungee jumping are often excluded from medical evacuation back home so you may find yourself having a longer stay overseas. A U.S. consular officer can help with finding medical services and will let friends or relatives back home know what has happened. Be aware that many insurance companies require a phone call before expensive procedures are carried out or a traveler is admitted to the hospital.

I am being forced to evacuate!

In advance:
With 2010's particularly active hurricane season forecast, take out travel insurance with an inclement weather clause if you are traveling to storm-prone destinations. Keep in mind that insurance is only valid if purchased before a storm is named. Check your accommodation's weather-related emergency policy and register with the State Department's online travel plans registry -- if disaster strikes, consular officers look for missing Americans and help them get home. If a tropical storm looks like it's about to get promoted to hurricane strength, prepare an emergency bag with medications, food, water, and first aid supplies and leave it by the door. If driving, check evacuation routes and fill up on gas.

If it happens:
Follow local authorities' advice when told to evacuate and do so immediately. Bring medicines, documents, blankets, water, and food (this may be the time to raid the mini-bar). Once the storm has passed, wait until authorities declare your hotel safe and drink only water approved by emergency personnel. Your hotel's weather emergency policy usually decides whether your stay will be reimbursed. That travel insurance you smartly booked in advance will also help get you home and reimburse you for unexpected expenses.

More @ http://news.travel.aol.com/2010/04/02/worst-case-travel-scenarios/?ncid=AOLCOMMtravdynlprim0901&icid=main|main|dl6|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fnews.travel.aol.com%2F2010%2F04%2F02%2Fworst-case-travel-scenarios%2F%3Fncid%3DAOLCOMMtravdynlprim0901


Quick Reference Guide for Travelers

If you've lost your passport, know the location and number of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Click: www.usembassy.gov
Call: If you can't get online, call the Department of State's Overseas Citizens Service. Dial 1-317-472-2328 (if calling internationally) or 1-888-407-4747 (if calling from the U.S. about a family member abroad)

If you've lost your wallet and need money, know that Western Union's are almost everywhere. Transactions tend to be pricey, but can be made online or over the phone in as little as an hour.
Click: www.westernunion.com
Call: 1-800-325-6000 to find an agent location

Before you leave, check your insurance policy. If it doesn't cover medical evacuations, consider joining MedjetAssist, where you can get coverage for a weekly or annual fee.
Click: www.medjet.com
Call: 1-800-5-ASSIST

If you're having an emergency (whether it's medical, financial, or legal), the American Citizens Services can help.
Click: www.travel.state.gov/law/citizenship

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

8 Old Wives Tales: Which Should You Believe?

I'm sure you all heard of some of these and wonder if there true....

Just like your mom didn't need a thermometer to know if you had a fever, we bet your grandmother or other homegrown expert didn’t let the lack of a medical degree stop her from issuing health directives. But which of them are worth following?

1. Grandma's wisdom: Ginger is good for upset stomachs.
Science says: Yes. Good evidence shows ginger reduces nausea.

2. Grandma's wisdom: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Science says: Granny's overstating this fruit's potency. Still, the peel is a good source of quercetin, an important antioxidant that, studies suggest, helps lower blood pressure, fight asthma and allergies, and prevent heart attacks.

3. Grandma's wisdom: Honey speeds healing.
Science says: Yes. Mild to moderate burns (but not other types of wounds) heal faster if you spread honey on them -- maybe because it creates a moist, antibacterial environment that promotes tissue growth.

4. Grandma's wisdom: Put butter on a burn.
Science says: No. There's no evidence of a benefit from butter.

5. Grandma's wisdom: Sleeping in air-conditioning can give you a chill.
Science says: She may be onto something. Air conditioners dry out the protective layer of mucus along nasal passages, which likely allows viruses to infect you more easily. Viruses reproduce faster inside a cold nose too.

6. Grandma's wisdom: If you go out with wet hair, you'll catch a cold.
Science says: Maybe. Some research indicates (but doesn't prove) that a wet head helps cold viruses take hold, by tightening blood vessels in the nose and making it harder for white blood cells to reach the viruses and fight them off.

7. Grandma's wisdom: Swimming after eating can lead to cramps and drowning.
Science says: Not exactly, but not completely wrong either. After you eat, blood gets shunted to your digestive tract and away from exercising muscles. That can lead to a buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, so swimming a few laps too soon after lunch could cause a sudden (though not fatal) cramp.

8. Grandma's wisdom: Chocolate gives you pimples.
Science says: Not quite. Chocolate bars might trigger an acne flare-up, but if so, the culprit is probably the sugar, milk, and gooey fillings, not the cocoa.

More @ http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/8-old-wives-tales-which-should-you-believe-1240485/

Monday, April 5, 2010

How the Credit CARD Act Will Affect Types of Credit Cards

Good Read here from Yahoo Finance

One by one for each of 10 types of cards, here's how experts see the CARD Act's impact:

Bad Credit Credit Cards

The CARD Act's crackdown on extremely high fees will severely curtail the ability of issuers to offer so-called "fee harvesting" credit cards -- cards with hefty upfront fees and extremely low credit limits -- geared toward people with bad credit, experts say.

"I think the more reputable issuers, if they were issuing these cards in the past, are going to be much more reluctant to do so now," Moroney says. Issuers that do market cards geared toward consumers in the subprime market will have to strike a balance between charging enough to cover the increased risk and following the new law, according to Ken Paterson, vice president, research operations/director credit advisory service for Mercator Advisory Group, a consumer payments industry research and consulting firm. One immediate impact was the introduction of high-rate cards to replace high-fee cards: One card issuer, First Premier, experimented with. To date, no one has followed its lead.

"One of the silver linings of the CARD Act is that it has built in more protections against some of the more egregious pricing that sometimes creeps into that market," Paterson says. In the future, Moroney predicts customers with shaky credit will gravitate toward prepaid cards and secured cards.

Balance Transfer Cards

For most consumers, being able to get a balance transfer card that offers a 0 percent, 1 percent or 2 percent interest rate on a transferred balance for much more than a year will become a thing of the past.

"Teaser rates aren't going to go away, but they're probably not going to be as lucrative for the consumer as they were -- you're going to see a higher rate and a shorter introductory term," says Jerry Straessle, president and CEO of JLS Associates, a consulting firm specializing in the credit and debit card industry. Even before the act's passage, card issuers were retreatingn from one-year introductory periods and toward the minimum of six months mandated by the CARD Act. Expect introductory rates of 7 percent to 9 percent or higher, Straessle predicts.

"The CARD Act is going to have upward pressure on rates simply because the ability to adjust rates on outstanding balances is severely limited now," Straessle says. Issuers "can't do anything about accounts that have protected balances, so they will book new accounts at higher rates of interest to make up for lost revenue from penalty fees and penalty interest."

However, there will always be issuers bucking the latest trend that make it worth shopping around. Citi, for example, just extended one of its 0 percent balance transfer card offers from a maximum of 12 months to a maxiumum of 15 months.

Business Cards

None of the provisions in the CARD Act apply to business credit cards. "So far, small business cards are unaffected by the Act -- only consumer cards were included," says Mercator's Paterson. "But it wouldn't surprise me if some of the improved disclosure that was legislated on the consumer side eventually found its way to the small business side too."

Though business owners should keep personal and business expenses separate, Paterson says the increased protections on the consumer side might push very small business owners away from business cards. "I haven't seen data evidence of this, but a one or two-person business -- a freelance programmer, artist or Web designer -- might say, 'My personal card works just fine for business purposes. I don't need a small business product.'"

Debit Cards

Debit cards have never been all that profitable for banks, but new rules on overdraft charges mean banks will make even less. Starting in July 2010, new customers will not be allowed to overdraft using their debit cards unless they opt in ahead of time. Overdraft fee income had been a big profit center for banks.

To help make up the lost revenue, many banks may start charging annual fees for debit cards, probably in the $20 to $30 range, Moroney says. Or, banks might charge for other services, such as financial planning or linking accounts to help customers avoid the embarrassment of having their card declined at a store, Robertson says.

Banks probably will get innovative; for example, providing more rewards debit cards and more hybrid credit/debit cards, as well as cards geared toward students who now cannot get credit cards because of the new law, experts say. Also, banks will reinforce responsible management of personal finances -- maybe with more programs similar to Bank of America's BAC Keep the Change, in which the bank automatically rounds up each check card purchase to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference to the cardholder's savings account. "We'll see more products that tap into consumer appeal," Moroney says.

Gas Cards

The CARD Act will indirectly influence the most popular type of gas card -- the co-branded card, which typically is issued by a bank in partnership with an oil company, and offers perks and rewards to the customer, experts say.

"If there's a revolving feature, it's going to be more expensive," Straessle says, noting that there has been a lot of talk in the industry about controlling costs by paring down rewards. "If you get 5 cents in fuel credits per gallon of gas now, you can probably expect in the future it's going to be a lesser amount -- maybe a penny or two pennies less," Straessle says.

Low Interest Cards

In the near future, interest rates on fixed rate low interest cards, as well as cards with low introductory rates, likely will go up several points, and issuers will be even more selective about who gets these cards, experts say.

"Low interest is a lot less desirable for most card companies because they don't have the ability to change rates as readily as they did in the past" because of the CARD Act, says Beth Robertson, director of payments research for consulting firm Javelin Strategy & Research. "So low interest cards will be more for very valuable and very creditworthy transactors -- people who carry high balances, pay regularly, have good credit scores and have a high volume of transactions, probably more than $1,000 a month. Often someone in that category is someone who travels a lot on business and is purchasing airfare, hotel rooms and meals out, but it could also be someone who is especially wealthy and is spending money on higher-ticket items."

Prepaid and Gift Cards

The Credit CARD Act imposes prepurchase disclosure of certain fees, such as inactivity fees, associated with prepaid cards -- and mandates that the cards not expire before five years. The new rules for prepaid cards -- including gift certificates, reloadable prepaid cards and gift cards -- go into effect Aug. 22, 2010.

"In the past, some expired after a year -- if you still had money on it, you lost it," Straessle says. He predicts that, to make up for this lost revenue, issuers will start charging a higher upfront fee to get a prepaid card and also a higher fee to reload the card -- as high as the market will bear. "It will depend what they think they can do competitively," he says. "It's the logical place for additional revenue to happen because there are not many revenue sources in a prepaid cards program."

Reward Cards

Rewards card issuers already have started to move away from a mass-market mentality in which the goal is to create buzz around a rewards program and get as many people as possible to apply, according to John Bartold, vice president, Loyalty Solutions for Epsilon, a marketing services firm. "Issuers already have tightened up requirements for who gets into a loyalty or rewards program," Bartold says. "The recession and the indirect impact of the CARD Act are making issuers look at these things a little differently and a little more smartly."

Credit card companies have reams of data on their customers and probably will start using that data they've collected to target their customers in a more relevant way, Bartold says. "It's not going to happen right away, but I think we're going to start seeing cards more focused for certain types of lifestyles -- where consumers can find a card that matches them rather than a generic spend-a-dollar, get-a-point," Bartold says.

Card issuers might do that by creating a general program customers can tailor to their own preferences -- similar to the Discover CardBuilder approach -- or by creating a card targeted toward a specific group of consumers such as sports fans, eco-conscious consumers or music lovers. "For example, with music and entertainment, you could have a site where customers could download music, you could have a newsletter that reviews artists by genres, you could look at sponsoring a concert," Bartold says.

Student Cards

The days of the big credit card issuers setting up tables on college campuses and offering free pizza to entice throngs of students to sign up for easy credit are over. The CARD Act prohibits that type of marketing and requires anyone under 21 to prove a source of income or have a parent co-sign to get a card.

"We probably will see fewer student cards out there because the CARD Act restricts a lot of it," says Greg Meyer, community relations manager for Meriwest Credit Union in San Jose, Calif., who predicts more issuers will offer debit and prepaid cards geared toward teens and young adults.

New student cards probably will have higher interest rates and lower credit limits and will be treated more as a vehicle for building financial responsibility, according to TowerGroup's Moroney. "They might offer little things that will reinforce responsible behavior," he says. "'You paid your bill on time this month, Bob or Sally -- let us treat you to half off your next latte at Starbucks.' Or, it could be a discount on textbooks. To a college kid, that's a big deal. They could send the merchant promotions directly to a PDA with a bar code and the student could spend it immediately."

more @ http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/109236/how-the-credit-card-act-wil-affect-types-of-credit-cards?mod=bb-creditcards

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Surprisingly Underpaid Celebrities and Other High-Profile People

Good read on salaries:

From Yahoo news

Here are some high-profile jobs that probably don't pay as well as you think:

Local news anchors
Since they often become local "celebrities," many people assume their favorite news anchors earn an enviable salary. That's often not true, especially in small markets. Entry-level news anchors earn approximately $27,000 a year upon entering the profession, and can earn as little as $30,000 after 5 years of service. Of course, wages depend on the viewership and network range, but even midsize city "celebrities" often maintain multiple jobs to provide for themselves. In Cincinnati, for example, reporters typically earn only $40,000, while salaries for those in the big leagues can be as much as half a million.

Local and state politicians
Sure, New York City's mayor officially makes $225,000 a year--although billionaire Mike Bloomberg declines to take all but one dollar of that--and Barack Obama has a $400,000 salary, but their small-town counterparts and state politicians usually make a fraction of that. In Mississippi, for example, state legislators make $10,000 a year (plus a per diem rate to cover expenses while they're in session). The pay level is even lower in small towns, where the mayor and council members often make very little.

Stand-up comics
Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld make a fortune now, but that certainly wasn't the case in their early days, when they were doing stand-up at small clubs. Many TV audiences' perception of stand-up salaries is skewed by well-known comedians of late night television. However, people trying to get into the industry often have to settle initially for unpaid amateur nights and, once they have been accepted into the community, must compete with other comedians for event slots.

According to the Princeton Review, the average stand-up comic earns around $50 for two 20-minute sets at a comedy club. Many comedians start out by doing "open mike" nights, where they get no pay at all. Unfortunately, very few comedians actually maintain a consistent schedule.

"Lots of people think chefs are multimillionaires," says Eve Tahmincioglu, columnist for MSNBC's Your Career. "But if they don't have book deals and they're not on TV, they're pretty much living paycheck to paycheck. Cooks probably make about $13 an hour, and unless you're an executive chef, you probably make under $50,000."

Minor-league athletes
They may sign autographs and perhaps even have their own trading cards, but these athletes don't earn big-league bucks. Minor-league baseball players, for example, have a $1,100-per-month maximum rate for their first contract season. Even a major-league athlete isn't necessarily guaranteed a big payday--Canadian Football League players often have second jobs during the off season.

Furthermore, Olympic athletes get the glory, but unless they are lucky enough to star in commercials or have endorsement deals, they don't bring home the bacon. In Canada, it's estimated that 70 percent of amateur athletes live below the poverty line.

For every J.K. Rowling who hits it big, there are thousands of authors (and aspiring authors) toiling away for little or no money. "There are many would-be authors still writing their first book and thinking they will make millions for it," says Weiner. "Think again. Writing a book, unless you are a big name in the business, doesn't make the 'pay grade.'"

Comic-book artists or video game animators
These jobs may have some nice perks--the opportunity to work on cool projects, the potential to develop a cult following, and even the occasional Comic-Con appearance--but the pay is usually not as high as people might think. According to Animation Arena, a video game artist with a few years experience will make around $41,500 on average. For animators and artists, the real money comes if they work on a project that attracts attention from Hollywood, a major game company, or a big publisher.

The bottom line
Becoming a small-town "star" can be very cool, but it doesn't guarantee a big paycheck. So don't assume that a local celebrity or a high-profile personality is making the big bucks. In reality, they may earn less than you.

More @ http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-surprisingly_underpaid_celebrities_and_other_high_profile_people-1190

Apple iPad (64GB, 3G)

I personally is going to wait before i purchase one of these but CNET has a review out there - here is a short GOOD and BAD review with a link for a full review of the Apple iPad (64GB, 3G).

The good: In an act of aggressive tech convergence, Apple has consolidated your Netbook, e-reader, gaming device, photo frame, and iPod into an elegant, affordable supergadget. Features such as Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi, movie rentals, 10 hours of battery life, optional 3G wireless, and the most-celebrated App Store on the planet have us pretty worked up.

The bad: The iPad's large size is as much a hindrance as it is an advantage. As a jack-of-all-trades and a master of few, the iPad can't entirely mimic many of the specialized products it seeks to replace. The iPad's limited multitasking capabilities and lack of integrated video camera, Flash support, and HD video output already have us pining for next year's model.

The bottom line: The Apple iPad is the first affordable tablet computer worth owning, but it won't (yet) replace your laptop.

More @ http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/apple-ipad-64gb-3g/4505-3126_7-33960299.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pay Garnishments Rise as Debtors Fall Behind

Interesting read.. Read up if your not paying your credit cards..

PHOENIX -- When the bank sued Leann Weaver for not paying her credit card balance, her reaction was typical for someone in that situation. Personal and financial setbacks weighed her down, and she knew she owed the $2,470. So she never went to court to defend herself.

She was startled by what happened next. When she swiped her debit card at the grocery store, it was declined. It turned out Capital One Bank had taken $224.25 from her paycheck, a quarter of her wages for two weeks of work at a retail chain, and her bank account was overdrawn.

"They're kicking somebody who's already in the dirt," she said.

One of the worst economic downturns of modern history has produced a big increase in the number of delinquent borrowers, and creditors are suing them by the millions. Concern is mounting in government and among consumer advocates that the debtors are not always getting a fair shake in these cases.

Most consumers never offer a defense, and creditors win their lawsuits without having to offer proof of the debts, much less justify to a judge the huge interest charges and penalties they often tack on.

After winning, creditors can secure a court order to seize part of the debtor's paycheck or the funds in a bank account, a procedure called garnishment. No national statistics are kept, but the pay seizures are rising fast in some areas -- up 121 percent in the Phoenix area since 2005, and 55 percent in the Atlanta area since 2004. In Cleveland, garnishments jumped 30 percent between 2008 and 2009 alone.

Debt collectors say they are being forced into the action by combative debtors who dodge attempts to settle. "I think there's a lack of accountability among debtors, and a lack of interest in reaching out to their creditors to resolve things amicably," said Fred N. Blitt, president of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys.

Bankruptcy can clear away most debts. Yet sweeping changes to federal law in 2005 -- pushed by the banking lobby -- complicated that process and more than doubled the average cost of filing, to more than $2,000. Many low-income debtors must save for months before they can afford to go broke.

In some states, courts allow creditors to charge high interest rates for years after a lawsuit is decided in their favor. In others, creditors can win lawsuits by default and seize wages and bank accounts without a case ever appearing before a judge.

Lack of participation is the most fundamental problem. Some consumers do not even know they are being sued; the people who are supposed to serve them with formal notice have sometimes been caught skipping that step and doctoring the paperwork.

In far more cases, consumers are served but still do not offer a defense. Few can afford lawyers; others are intimidated or confused. In their absence, judges can offer little relief.

In the rare event that a consumer battles back, creditors frequently lack the documentation to prove their claim, and cases are dropped. That is because many past-due debts are owned not by the banks that issued them, but by debt collectors who bought, for cents on the dollar, a list of names and amounts due.

"If the consumers were armed with more education about how to defend against these debts, they'd be successful," said Jeffrey Lipman, a civil magistrate in Des Moines.

The case of Sidney Jones shows how punishing the system can be. In January 2001, Mr. Jones, 45, a maintenance worker from California Crossroads, Va., took out a $4,097 personal loan from Beneficial Virginia, a subprime lender now owned by HSBC, the big bank.

He fell behind, and Beneficial sued. Mr. Jones did not appear in court. "I just thought they were going to take what I owed," he said.

By default, Beneficial won a judgment of $4,750, plus $900 in lawyers' fees, with the debt accruing interest at 27.55 percent until paid in full. The bank started garnishing his wages in March 2003.

Over the next six years, the bank deducted more than $10,000 from Mr. Jones's paychecks, but he made little headway on his debt. According to a court order secured by Beneficial's lawyers last spring, he still owed the company $3,965, a sum nearly equal to the original loan amount.

Mr. Jones, who did not graduate from high school, was baffled. "Where did all this money go that I paid them?" he said.

Dale Pittman, a consumer law lawyer in Petersburg, Va. , took Mr. Jones's case without charge, and found that all but $134 of his payments had gone toward interest, fees and court costs. "It's a perfectly legal result under Virginia law," Mr. Pittman said.

HSBC said it ceased collection shortly after Mr. Pittman took the case, but declined further comment. "We are confident we are treating our customers fairly and with integrity," Kate Durham, a spokeswoman for HSBC North America, said in an e-mail message.

The rare debtors who press their claims, and catch a sympathetic judge, have a shot at a result more to their liking.

Ruth M. Owens, a disabled Cleveland woman, was sued by Discover Bank in 2004 for an unpaid credit card. Ms. Owens offered a defense, sending a handwritten note to the court.

"After paying my monthly utilities, there is no money left except a little food money and sometimes it isn't enough," she wrote.

Robert Triozzi, a judge at the time, heard the case. He found that over a period of several years, Ms. Owens had paid nearly $3,500 on an original balance of $1,900. But Discover was suing her for $5,564, mostly for late fees, compound interest, penalties and other charges. He called Discover's actions "unconscionable" and threw the case out.

Discover defended its actions. "This account was placed with an attorney only after all other efforts to reach the card member were exhausted," Matthew Towson, a bank spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

Going to court is no guarantee of victory, of course. Consumers who do go are sometimes intercepted by collection lawyers, who press them to sign papers settling without a trial. These settlements may be against the interests of debtors, but they sign anyway.

"We're signing off on a lot of settlement agreements where we shake our heads and ask, 'Why is this person settling to this?' " Judge Lipman said.

For the working poor, losing a lawsuit can mean disaster. A 1968 federal law exempts 75 percent of a worker's wages, or 30 times the minimum wage per week, from being taken in garnishment -- whichever is less. But increases in the minimum wage have failed to keep up with inflation. As federal law stands now, just $217.50 a week is exempt from seizure. (A few states set higher cutoffs.)

The working poor "have difficulties maintaining payments on life's necessities with their full paycheck," said Angela Riccetti, a lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid who represents indigent clients whose wages are being garnished. "You lose 25 percent of it and everything folds."

For Leann Weaver, the woman at the grocery store, Capital One's lawsuit made a bad situation worse. After being evicted from her apartment, she moved in with her grandparents. Without them, she might have ended up on the street or in a shelter, she said.

Capital One declined to comment on Ms. Weaver's case. "We encourage anyone facing difficulties meeting their financial obligations to contact us right away," Tatiana Stead, a bank spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message.

Ms. Weaver said she repeatedly asked Capital One for more time to pay her $2,470 debt, but last year the bank filed suit. She failed to show up in court, and a judgment was entered against her, swollen by $1,800 in interest and lawyers' fees. Then the garnishment began, almost $500 a month, or a quarter of her pay.

"I can't even look at my paychecks any more," she said.

More @ http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/109247/pay-garnishments-rise-as-debtors-fall-behind?mod=bb-creditcards

Connections problems with Linksys WRT54G Router

I recall some of you having problems with there Linksys Routers disconnecting on them, I myself have had the problem this last month and figured out it was because one of my neighbors also had a Linksys Router and we both has the same Name(SSID) for our routers and even with the latest firmware from linksys i would still get dropped from my router from time to time, after i change my SSID name to a different name the drops stopped so you might want to do a search of wireless providers that come up besides yours and if its another with a similar name change yours and that should do the trick, below are other steps you can follow.

Open an Internet Explorer browser page on your wired computer(desktop).In the address bar type -
Leave username blank & in password use admin in lower case...
For Wireless Settings, please do the following : -
Click on the Wireless tab
Click on the Wireless tab on the Setup page- Here Wireless Network mode should be mixed- Provide any non linksys network name .... Name (SSID) box- Set wireless channel to 11- And wireless SSID broadcast should be Enabled and then click on "Save Settings" >>Now Click on the Sub tab under wireless > "Wireless Security" Change the Wireless security mode to "WEP"...and put a 10 digit key in ke1 and keep a note of the key and click save settings ...

Click on Advanced Wireless Settings...
Change the Beacon Interval to 75 >>Change the Fragmentation Threshold to 2304 Change the RTS Threshold to 2304 >>Click on "Save Settings"
Now see if you can locate your Wireless Network and attempt to connect...

For more support and to get the lastest Firmware(updates)for your router go here


Friday, April 2, 2010

U.S. announces new airport security measures

Washington (CNN) -- All flights entering the United States now will be subjected to increased levels of security screening, the federal government announced Friday.

A senior administration official said racial or religious characteristics could be used to identify passengers requiring a more thorough review, though the official insisted the system would not constitute racial profiling.

Race or religion could be part of "fragmentary information" being used to select passengers but will be used "only when we have reliable intelligence that suggests that someone with that characteristic is a potential terrorist," the official said.

Among other things, passengers entering the U.S. from international destinations "may notice enhanced security and random screening measures throughout the passenger check-in and boarding process, including the use of explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, or pat downs, among other security measures," according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

The new security measures are the result of a review President Obama ordered after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25.

The new rules will supersede emergency measures put in place after the failed Christmas Day attack.

"These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

"The terrorist threat to global aviation is a shared challenge and ensuring aviation security is a shared responsibility. I commend our many partners around the world who have taken steps to increase their own security measures through deployment of new technology, enhanced information sharing and stronger standards to keep air travel safe."

The new security steps, which will begin Friday, will take a short period of time to implement fully, the senior administration official said.

The new level of screening will augment the no-fly and selectee lists. Those lists require a full name, a date of birth and other information.

This system will use "fragmentary information" that might include travel itinerary, age, partial passport information and a partial name, the official added.

The U.S. intelligence community will determine, based on threat information, which characteristics should be used to select passengers for secondary screening.

The air carriers and foreign countries -- when they are the ones administering screening -- will have responsibility for pulling and screening passengers who meet the criteria.

The official said there is no concern about providing too much intelligence to too many people. Security partners will be given what they need to identify people for additional screening and no more.

The new security regime requires cooperation from the airlines and some foreign governments, but the official does not anticipate compliance problems.

"It is in their interest to ensure the safety of their flights," the official said.

The United States will do inspections, and there will be penalties for not complying.

The recent case of David Headley showed how "fragmentary intelligence" can be used to help stop a potential terrorist, two administration officials said.

Last month, Headley pleaded guilty to helping plan the November 2008 Mumbai, India, terror attacks and another attack that was never carried out on a Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons about the prophet Mohammed.

Based on intelligence, including a partial name and travel information, Customs and Border Protection did additional screening to travelers entering the United States and was able to identify Headley.

Since the attempted Christmas Day attack, Napolitano has participated in aviation summits in Spain, Mexico, Japan and other places to forge agreements and to strengthen ways information can be shared around the aviation community, a senior administration official said.

Napolitano has suggested the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, set standards that would apply to all international airports, strengthening weak links in the security chain.

European privacy laws have stymied previous U.S. efforts to gain access to passenger information.

Last month Napolitano announced another effort to bolster airport security when she said the federal government was starting to deploy full-body scanning machines to 11 more airports across the United States.

Full-body scanners improve security, TSA says

Before the new scanners, 40 of the body-imaging machines had been put into use at 19 airports nationwide, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Transportation Security Administration expects to deploy 450 units by the end of the year.

Plans to deploy these scanners were given added urgency after the failed Christmas Day attack.

More @ http://www.tsa.gov

Make Your Trip Better Using 3-1-1

TSA and our security partners conducted extensive explosives testing since August 10, 2006 and determined that liquids, aerosols and gels, in limited quantities, are safe to bring aboard an aircraft. The one bag limit per traveler limits the total amount each traveler can bring. Consolidating the bottles into one bag and X-raying them separately from the carry-on bag enables security officers to quickly clear the items.

3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 will ensure a faster and easier checkpoint experience.

3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.