Ria Goes to School

Author: Shiamak HK:

Ria was in bed at night. “I do not want to go to school!” she said. Then she went to bed. The next morning she woke up and got out of bed. Then she went to the bathroom to brush her teeth. “Should I go to school?” she asks her cat. “Meow,” the cat says.

Then she went down to eat breakfast. “I don’t want to go to school,” she said to her parents. “Oh it’s okay, you’ll find friends,” they said. “But I don’t have any.” “You’ll make some,” said her Mother. Then she didn’t complain anymore, but when she walked out the door, she slammed it extra hard. “Goodbye,” her Mother said. “Goodbye!” she yelled back.

When she got on the bus, she sat next to this girl named Leah. “Hi,” she said. “What is your name?” asked Ria. “Leah,” she said. “Do you want to play rock paper scissors?” Leah said, “Sure.” They played a couple of games. Sometimes Leah won and sometimes Ria won.

Then it came to school and Leah asked Ria if she wanted to be her friend. “Sure,” answered Ria.

Leah and Ria were in the same class. They were really happy! It was raining outside, so they had indoor recess, and the girls played more rock, paper, and scissors. Then at lunch they sat next to each other. When it was time to go, they sat with each other on the bus again. When Leah and Ria got home, they both told their parents that they had a great time in school and made new friends.

Later that day, in the evening, they had a play date. Then Leah asked her mom if she could stay for the night. It was a yes! All night they played games with each other. Then in the day they went back to school and had the same lunch, pizza. Then on the bus ride home, they played more hand games and had another play date that night. “I told you, you would make friends,” Ria’s Mom said to her when she came home. “I know you did,” said Ria. She gave her Mom a big hug. Then night came, and Ria slept with her cat. “I love school!” she said.

The above is the work of one of our avid readers, Shiamak HK. Shiamak is 8 years.

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Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights

For a very long time now air passengers have suffered at the hands of the Airline industry. The passengers are always left to tend to themselves at airports whether it is a delay due mechanical failure or pilot dozing off or waiting at the tarmac to take off or airline cancelling the flight due to low ticket sale. We always find ourselves at the mercy of these dictators.

Looks like the US government has finally taken notice. Don't get too excited, it doesn't change much. This is a small step, although small, in the right direction.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a beefed up version of the flyer's rights bill on the 20th this week, requiring airlines to treat you a little better. These new rights don't necessarily help you out too much if you're not aware of them, however. So here's a sneak peek at what's changed.

According to the bill, airlines will be required to reimburse you when they lose your baggage or you're bumped from a flight. The compensation for a bumped flight is quite a bit, actually, as airlines will be required to provide you with twice the price of your ticket (up to $800) if you're delayed for two hours or less. If you're delayed longer, you can receive up to $1,300.

Currently, if you're on a domestic flight, your plane cannot sit on the tarmac for more than three hours without letting you off. Now international flights are included in this regulation, but they have a maximum time limit of four hours. The planes are also required to provide you with water and access to the restrooms at all times—which is good, because one facilitates the other.

Airlines will also now be required to disclose all fees on their web sites so you know how much it'll cost you to check a bag, cancel your ticket, and many of the other fun fees they've come up with over the past few years. Additionally, cancellation fees will be prohibited for the first 24 hours after booking.

If you find yourself stuck on the tarmac for hours without water, without your baggage and compensation for the inconvenience, or any of these other issues, speak up. You've got the DOT behind you now. It's worth mentioning that this new bill exists largely thanks to the efforts of the Flyer's Rights organization, which can also be of help if you find yourself in a bind. They have a hotline you can call for assistance if an airline is treating you unfairly.

These new regulations go into effect on August 23rd, 2011, so they're not immediate, but later this year you'll be quite a bit better off when flying.

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Some Tips to Save Money and Stay Cool This Summer

Source: U.S. Department of Energy:

Summer usually means high electric bills. This year is not expected to be any different. In fact parts of Asia are already experiencing record heat. With the weather turning warm in the US, it won't be long before we're staring down huge energy bills related to keeping cool when the temperature goes up.

Let us beat the weather with some tips on how to save energy and money this Summer. The US Department of Energy's summer energy savings tips are designed to give you low-cost or no-cost ways to help you save on energy bills and keep cool at the same time by doing things like letting your home heat up when you're not home, and turning it down only when you're home and need to cool off.

They also suggest opening the windows in the evening to give the AC a break, which those of us with allergies sadly cannot do, but keeping your windows covered in the daytime is a great way to keep the sun from heating up your home or apartment once you've gotten it nice and cool. They also recommend not trying to cool off in front of the fridge, and to avoid using appliances like the dryer and oven on hot days. None of those ideas are particularly new or different, but they bear repeating, especially if you don't have air conditioning at all.

Another suggestion: avoid turning your thermostat all the way down to try and get your air conditioner to cool off your home or apartment "faster." It doesn't actually work, and will wind up running your AC unit heavily while it tries. Worst case scenario, it'll freeze the coolant lines to your AC, and it'll stop working until they thaw out.

Click here to access the article.

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Beware of ATM Skimming

One of our readers sent us a story about how he got scammed in New York City by so called ATM Skimming. Fortunately for him, his bank had a good fraud detection system in place. They called him within 5 hours of his first use of Debit card at the NYC ATM machine. They called to check if he had made purchases worth $1700 at 3 different stores. They cancelled the debit card immediately & issued him a new one.

The Scheme

Fraudsters have started working in groups, targeting hundreds of debit-card holders in a systematic fashion. Here's how they execute ... They begin by using plaster or clay to make a molding of the front of an ATM. Then they build a plastic facade, "sanded down and spray-painted to match the machine so that it is virtually undetectable," says the FBI's DeLeo. In one recent case, the crooks' add-on had signs on it showing how to insert a card, an improvement over the actual ATM in terms of user-friendliness. (funny, yeah?)

The facade is used to hide a magnetic-card reader, which can be purchased online. Typically, a video camera is concealed in a light fixture or brochure holder overlooking the keypad, although occasionally the device used to capture the PINs is not a camera but a fake key panel overlaid on the real pad.

The crooks return couple of hours later to retrieve the camera and the card-reading device. They download the captured ATM-card numbers from the device, match each with a personal identification number recorded by the camera. Then they encode stacks of magnetically striped plastic cards with the stolen information. With these cards in hand, the thieves could go to ATMs and merrily withdraw thousands of dollars from the accounts of unsuspecting victims.


A quick search on Google revealed that this menace is becoming widespread and costs the US banks close to $1B (yes billion!) every year. The loss to the banks is due to the fact that they have to reimburse defrauded customers. From a customer's perspective he/she may feel covered, so why bother? Well, the banks have to pass on the cost to someone. Guess who has to lift the burden - the consumer, ofcourse! At the end of the day it is the consumer (and in some cases, the shareholder) who have to pay for this theft in the form of fees (or lower share value).

Tips to help guard your debit cards

Here are some tips as they appeared in a Times article.
1. Kick the tires: Thieves put well-disguised facades on ATMs to conceal skimming devices, so steer clear of any cash dispensers that have visible glue marks. Check for loose parts by tugging on the card-reading slot.

2. Protect your PIN: Use one hand to shield the other as you type in your PIN. The bad guys typically obtain your PIN by installing a video camera in the light fixture above the keypad.

3. Be extra cautious at malls, airports and gas stations: Getting cash or paying by debit card in these high-traffic venues can make you vulnerable to skimmers because the machines there may be more easily tampered with than bank ATMs.

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What Memorial Day Means To Me

Author: Natasha HK:

When I think of Memorial Day, I think of laughter and parties, but also of those who risked their lives for our freedom. Memorial Day isn't just for fun and games, but to honor those brave veterans who gave up their lives for their country. Many people go to parades for food and a good time, but the real reason is to remember those who protected us.

To me, after a war is like having a broken wheel. It is broken because parts of the wheel have come off and gotten rusty. Though on Memorial Day, you don't think of the broken wheel, but you think of it and remember it when it was new and shiny. Before a war, the wheel is complete. During the war, we fight, and lose some parts of our wheel. After the war, our wheel is broken and dirty. On Memorial Day, I always think of the wheel when it was not broken. The parts that have been broken are all those brave soldiers who gave up their lives in various wars. The rusty parts are those who have fought in the war and survived. When we honor all these parts of the wheel, we remember what they did for us and that is what Memorial Day is to me.

All the parts of the wheel make a big difference. The spokes of the wheel are us. The outer part is the people keeping us safe from harm. We are also an important part of the wheel. Ester DeBert Reed collected money for soldiers. Mary Ludwig Hays, also known as Molly Pitcher, was a young woman during the Revolutionary War. She brought soldiers water at the Battle of Monmouth, and manned her husband's cannon when he was shot. We can also make a difference, as the spokes of the wheel. During many wars, various spokes are taken out. On Memorial Day, we also honor the spokes of the wheel, for they are as important as the outer rim.

During Memorial Day, we eat lots of food and hold parties to celebrate the lives of those who have fallen in battle. Most of them lost their lives trying to protect us. It shows how much they cared about their country, and that is why they thought it was worth dying for their country. It isn't an easy choice to make, considering all of the things that can happen to you. We are so lucky, to have soldiers that protect us from all the horrid things that can happen. That is why I always respect them, because if they didn't fight, I might not be here.

To me, Memorial Day is when we still have a broken, tattered wheel, but we are proud of it. We remember those who died, and honor them. That is what Memorial Day really means to me.

The above is the work of one of our avid readers, Natasha HK. Natasha is 11 years.

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ICC World Cup 2011 Memories

India won the ICC World Cup after 28 years; Sachin Tendulkar finally got his dream come true in his 6th World Cup outing; Yuvraj Singh found his form in the nick of time; Team-India's youngsters came out with flying colors alongside the veterans; the prayers of 1.2 billion people were answered; India break the jinx of no host country winning the world cup. All this happened in a short span of time in the 2011 ICC World Cup.

Let us go down memory lane to see the world cup that has been tagged as The Best World Cup of All Time.

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India Are The World Champions!

The Indian Cricket team today, guided by their daring captain MS Dhoni, fulfilled the dreams of more than 1.2 billion people. India won the ICC World Cup by beating Sri Lanka convincingly. With this win, the Men in Blue also achieved the #1 ICC ODI. India are now the top team in all forms of the sport. A very enviable position & certainly very well deserved by Dhoni & his Dare-Devils.

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