Girl Tells Santa She Wants Dad to Come Home, Doesn’t Know Dad IS Santa (Video)


Quote of the Day

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” -Albert Einstein

Police Issue Gift Cards Instead of Tickets

A North Texas police department is handing out gift cards instead of tickets. This week, the Prosper Police Department is rewarding good traffic habits. “I have never been pulled over before, so I was like, ‘Oh no,'” Prosper resident Caitlin Woody said. Woody was surprised not to receive a ticket. She was handed a gift card — a reward for good driving. “I was like, ‘That is really awesome’. It makes my day,” Woody said.

The majority of the giving happens in schools zone. Police stop people dropping off their kids to surprise them with the $10 gift cards. “There’s such a high concentration of drivers at pick-up and drop-off times that we can safely approach those vehicles,” Assistant Prosper Police Chief Gary McHone said. “Maybe they had a safe speed coming into a parking lot, their inspections were up-to-date, they were using the safety belts in the vehicles, and their child was in a safety restraint.” McHone said it’s their way to live up to a well-known police motto. “To protect and serve — I think this is a key component in serving is to acknowledge and give thanks to our community,” McHone said.


Facebook Aims to Help Prevent Suicide

Facebook is making it easier for people who express suicidal thoughts on the social networking site to get help. A program launching this month enables users to instantly connect with a crisis counselor through Facebook’s “chat” messaging system. The service is the latest tool from Facebook aimed at improving safety on its site, which has more than 800 million users. Earlier this year, Facebook announced changes to how users report bullying, offensive content and fake profiles. “One of the big goals here is to get the person in distress into the right help as soon as possible,” Fred Wolens, public policy manager at Facebook, told The Associated Press.

Google and Yahoo have long provided the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as the first result when someone searches for “suicide” using their sites. Through email, Facebook also directed users to the hotline or encouraged friends to call law enforcement if they perceived someone was about to do harm. The new service goes a step further by enabling an instant chat session that experts say can make all the difference with someone seeking help. “The science shows that people experience reductions in suicidal thinking when there is quick intervention,” said Lidia Bernik, associate project director of Lifeline. “We’ve heard from many people who say they want to talk to someone but don’t want to call. Instant message is perfect for that.”

Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, and 36,035 a year, according to U.S Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s office. “We have effective treatments to help suicidal individuals regain hope and a desire to live and we know how powerful personal connections and support can be,” Benjamin said in a statement. “Facebook and the Lifeline are to be commended for addressing one of this nation’s most tragic public health problems.” The Lifeline currently responds to dozens of users on Facebook each day. Crisis center workers will be available 24 hours a day to respond to users selecting the chat option.



NASA Confirms First Earth-Like Planet in Habitable Zone of Its Star

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets. Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first "habitable zone" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first "habitable zone" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech


Waving Bear Becomes Internet Sensation

A waving Kodiak bear in an Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington has now become an internet sensation. It’s not hard to see why.

and another…

If it seems odd to see a giant bear wave to a human, this particular bear has show business in its blood. Its home, the Olympic Game Farm, is a park for retired show animals that have previously worked in TV, films and at theme parks. The farm worked exclusively for Walt Disney Studios for 28 years, providing animal actors for productions like “The Incredible Journey,” “White Wilderness” and the “Grizzly Adams” television and movie series, according to its website. In 1972, the farm opened its doors to the public and now offers tours, a petting farm and educational activities, in addition to caring for the animals that call it home.


CNN Announces Hero of the Year: Robin Lim

The 2011 CNN Hero of the Year: All-Star Tribute was yet again another moving night of inspiring stories. The world is undoubtedly a brighter place because of these heroes. The winner of the night was Robin Lim. Robin Lim, an American woman who has helped thousands of poor Indonesian women have a healthy pregnancy and birth, was named the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year last night. Through her Yayasan Bumi Sehat health clinics, “Mother Robin,” or “Ibu Robin” as she is called by the locals, offers free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid in Indonesia, where many families cannot afford care. “Every baby’s first breath on Earth could be one of peace and love. Every mother should be healthy and strong. Every birth could be safe and loving. But our world is not there yet,” Lim said during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” which took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and recognized Lim and the other top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

Many women in the developing world do not have access to contraception or maternal care. According to the United Nations Population Fund, three out of five women giving birth in South Asia do so without a skilled birth attendant on hand. In Indonesia, the average family earns the equivalent of $8 a day, according to the International Monetary Fund. But a baby delivery costs about $70 at a hospital, and a Caesarian section can cost as much as $700. Lim believes Indonesia’s high maternal and infant mortality rates are caused in part by these costs, which many women cannot meet. “The situation is bad … babies are unattended, deliveries have become commercialized, and mothers die from hemorrhage after childbirth because they can’t afford proper care,” Lim told CNN earlier this year.

The CNN Hero of the Year was chosen by the public after an 11-week vote on For being named Hero of the Year, Lim will receive $250,000 for her cause. That’s in addition to the $50,000 that she and the rest of the top 10 Heroes each received for making the top 10. This is the fifth year that CNN, with the help of entertainers and other celebrities, have honored everyday people changing the world.

Turlington Burns introduced Lim’s video tribute during Sunday’s show, before the Hero of the Year announcement. As founder of Every Mother Counts, she is also a passionate advocate for maternal health around the world. “Eight years ago, after giving birth to my first child Grace, I felt what could have been a life-threatening complication,” she told the audience of nearly 5,000. “It suddenly got very scary, very fast. If I hadn’t received the expert care in the hospital birthing center I was in, then I may have not been so fortunate. “My wish is that every mother all over the world has the same chance surviving childbirth I had. My friend Robin Lim shares that wish and she spends her days and nights making it so.”

Lim became a midwife after her sister — and her sister’s baby — died from complications during childbirth several years ago. She and her husband then sold their home in Hawaii and moved to Bali to “reinvent their lives,” she said. “It was there she learned she could make a difference,” Turlington Burns said. “She opened a clinic, Bumi Sehat, so poor mothers can give birth safely and be treated with dignity and respect. She has delivered thousands of babies, and that is why they call her ‘Ibu’ — Mother.”


5 Ways to Give Yourself an Education

One of the biggest reasons that people are denied the privilege of education is because they can’t afford it. Hooray for today! We live in a world where knowledge and information are at our finger tips like never before.  Technology has leveled the playing field so that anybody with an interest and an internet connection can receive a world class education. Bloggers, podcasters, search engines and digital content creators of all types of have made it possible for us to learn virtually anything we want to even if we don’t have the money. If you want to learn anything chances are there is somebody creating content about the subject and sharing it with the world at no cost.


1. Free College Curriculums: There are a handful of  traditional education institutions that have started to embrace this trend. Fortunately one of the very first to do so was MIT, a world class institution where tuition would run you a hefty chunk of change. However, through open courseware an MIT education is suddenly available to anybody who wants one.  Courses are available in engineering, management, science, architecture and a number of other areas. If other institutions start to follow suit, people who have been denied the privilege of education for financial reasons will finally have an opportunity if they want it.

2. The Blogosphere: In a recent feature, the CBS Sunday morning show said that there were approximately 50 million active blogs online. There are blogs on nearly every subject you can possibly imagine. What’s interesting about the blogosphere is that it has created a trend of unconventional education and the opportunity to study any subject you have an interest in. You’re no longer limited to the confines of assigned reading, class lectures and your major.

3. Books: In the movie Good Will Hunting Matt Damon’s famous quote was “You just spent 150 grand on an education you could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”  While it was a bit facetious, anybody who has received a college education probably had a bit of a chuckle because there was a kernel of truth to what was said.  One of the biggest expenses for any college student is textbooks.  But, the beauty of a public library is that it makes books accessible to everybody and it’s completely free. It might be tempting to dismiss the library as an obsolete resource, but today libraries have their whole book selection available online and even have audio books that can be downloaded directly from some of their web sites.

4. Podcasts: Do a quick search through the iTunes directory and you’ll find podcasts on a wide variety of subjects ranging from learning a language to online marketing. The other thing that makes a podcast a fantastic option for increasing your knowledge is the fact that you can listen to it while you’re working out, stuck in traffic or cleaning your house.

5. Online Videos:

  • TED: One of the most inspirational educational resources at everybody’s disposal is the TED web site. World class authors, entrepreneurs and scientists share their very best ideas with the world. I’d recommend watching at least one TED talk every single day. Most TED talks are an average of about 15 minutes and will inspire, entertain, and inform you.
  • Youtube can also be a great educational resource. These days just do a search for the words “How to”, fill in the blank and you’ll have numerous options at your finger tips.
  • Instructables: If there’s ones site that really provides an opportunity to type in the words  “how to” followed by whatever you want to learn how to do, it’s Instructables. This user generated community has over x videos specifically designed to teach you how to do something.

With nothing more than internet connection and a computer, you have the potential to develop a conglomerate of knowledge and skills. The great thing about seeking out your own interests is that there are no grades, no tests or requirements. It’s purely about the joy of learning.


Photo of the Day: Bliss


Looking for an inspiring film to watch? Found one! One Revolution cinematically captures Chris Waddell’s very human journey to dare greatly and ultimately to live fully. This film chronicles the heart and spirit behind an extraordinary achievement as it documents the first almost entirely unassisted paraplegic ascent of 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro.


Memphis Int’l Music & Film Fest. – Best Documentary
Geneva Film Festival – Best Documentary
Mexico Int’l Film Fest – Bronze Palm
Las Vegas Film Fest – Silver Ace
Amsterdam Film Festival – Best Sports Film
Foursite Film Fest – Best Feature Film
Breckenridge Film Festival – Official Selection
Newport Film Fest – Official Selection
Alabama International Film Festival – Official Selection
Ohio Independent Film Fest – Official Selection

Secret Santa Spreads Hope, Cheer and $100 Bills

Sitting in Reading’s Inter-City Bus Terminal on Tuesday night, Thomas Coates Jr. was out of work and out of hope. Then, out of the blue, a stranger sat next to him and restored his faith in human kindness. Identifying himself only as Secret Santa, the stranger handed Coates two crisp $100 bills and wished him a Merry Christmas. Coates, 36, who lives in Pottstown with his girlfriend and son, wept. “I was brought up to believe that you take care of your family, but I can’t find a job,” said Coates, burying his face in his hands. “This man said to me, ‘You’re a good man,’ and it felt good to hear that.” The bus terminal was only one stop on a whirlwind tour of downtown Reading and beyond, where Secret Santa handed $100 bills to people he felt needed a helping hand at Christmastime.

Reading has the highest poverty rate of cities across the nation with more than 65,000 residents, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The unnamed Good Samaritan Santa had read about the plight of Reading’s residents. Secret Santa traversed the city, handing out cash to those he thought could use it. In all, he gave away an estimated $20,000 of his own money, mostly in $100 bills stamped “Secret Santa” in red. “Cities like Reading are experiencing tough economic times,” Secret Santa said. “It’s time for us to step up, not step back.”

At the Salvation Army, Secret Santa handed $100 bills to volunteers, children, a dishwasher and a housekeeper. Leaving the building, he encountered a woman waiting in the rain to pick up her children from an after-school program. “How many children do you have?” he asked. “Six,” replied Elizabeth Colon, 37, of Reading. “You have six children?” he repeated. “Well, here, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred, five hundred, six hundred – a hundred for each child.”

Sitting nearby was Lara Walkoff, 24, a medical student at George Washington University who had been to Reading Hospital for a job interview and was waiting for the bus to arrive. Santa sat next to her, chatted briefly and gave her $100. Walkoff, who’s from Florida, had never heard of anything like it. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who can use the money,” she said. And, as a medical student who’s graduating in May, she could certainly use the cash. “I don’t have a lot of money; that’s why I’m riding the bus,” she confided. “But I think I will find someone who needs this $100 more than I do.” Secret Santa would be proud.

The current Secret Santa is continuing a tradition begun by the late Larry Stewart in Kansas City, KS. Stewart had once been down and out and received a handout from the owner of the Dixie Diner in Houston, MO. Although he went on to make millions in cable television, Stewart never forgot the kindness. Posing as Secret Santa, he gave away $1.3 million over 25 years until his death in 2006. “I promised him on his deathbed that I would continue the tradition of Secret Santa,” the current Santa said. Secret Santa will visit cities ranging from San Diego to Detroit in the coming weeks, enlisting the help of “elves” like NFL great Dick Butkus and comedian Larry the Cable Guy.