Entry bubble Your Turn: Airport Screening

By: Jake | November 22, 2010 | Category: Travel

airport screeningJust in time for the holiday travel season, the Transportation Security Administration has come under fire about whether its Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines store images, its pat-down procedures for toddlers are too harsh and many other concerns about airport screening.

In response, TSA's Administrator John S. Pistole has released a statement and TSA's Blogger Bob posted a blog debunking many of the myths and rumors. Public response to those posts and to TSA in general has not been positive. I am not going to list TSA's myths, again you can go here to see them, because I thought this week we could have a dialogue about your feelings regarding airport screening.

I am not a fan of airport screening. Anytime I go to the airport, I get nervous because I feel my personal boundaries are infringed upon by the basic screening. I don't like the rush to put my carry on items, shoes, coat and everything else through a conveyor belt. I dread walking through the metal detector. I have yet to be selected for an AIT machine screening, but watched in horror as my fiance was scanned by one. I was relieved when she lived to tell about it, her personal boundaries, though bruised, still intact.

As concerned as these reports of TSA mistakes make me, I am more concerned when I hear about security breaches on planes like the recent printer cartridge scare. I consider airport screening an unpleasant necessity and I hope that TSA learns from the recent mistakes and implements more customer friendly procedures.

That's my take, what's yours?

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Entry bubble Weekly Picks 11/20

By: Jess | November 20, 2010 | Category: General

I hope you enjoyed this week of guest posts from our contest winners. We had fun featuring the guest writers and we'll be back to our regular blogging schedule next week.

For now, here are some great reads for your weekend.

  • Voting in the Kids.gov poster challenge closes on Monday, so head over to Challenge.gov to cast your vote. While you're there, check out some of the other contests to find a fun project to work on over the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Did you know there was an entire day devoted to toilets? World Toilet Day celebrates sanitation and efficient flushing.
  • Holiday shopping season is upon us. Here are some tips to help you pick safe toys for your kids.

Learn how the military is supporting the National Science Foundation's research in Antarctica. Check out cool photos and videos from the scientists on location.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Entry bubble Where can I find grants for...?

By: Jess | November 19, 2010 | Category: Money

For our third birthday we launched the Share Your Story: GovGab Guest Writer Challenge. We're proud to showcase our winning posts, which will run this whole week.

Sandy Pon

 Sandy Pon is a librarian with the Foundation Center who likes musicals, the scent of tea olive blooms, southern Arizona sunsets, and sunny days with temperatures in the 70s-80s. Save money…Get a public library card and use it!

 I work for the Foundation Center, an organization that helps nonprofits find foundation and corporate grants. Naturally, we also get a lot of questions from individuals who ask about money to start a business, go to school, or help with bills, home repair, and other personal expenses.

Rarely do foundations give grants to individuals. When they do, it’s usually to help pay for college tuition or an artistic or research project. So we librarians will point them to government portals because they’re content rich and most importantly, can help people zero in on related local agencies. Below are some that I refer visitors to nearly every day:

Benefits.gov is the main portal for any individual seeking assistance, be it for tuition, bills, or other expenses. Answer questions in the Benefit Finder to get matches from more than 1,000 Federally-funded benefit and assistance programs. Each program description provides citizens with the next steps to apply for any benefit program of interest. Page footers link to programs by state or category.

Business.gov is a comprehensive resources for for-profit enterprises that typically don’t qualify for grants. It even has a link for Loans, Grants, and Venture Capital. Many people think that they can get grants to start a small business. On rare occasions that may be true, but generally, one can’t get free money to start a business, especially from foundations.

See also SCORE, a nonprofit whose volunteers are working or retired business owners, executives and corporate leaders that give free and confidential small business advice for  budding entrepreneurs.

Grants.gov contains all discretionary grants offered by the 26 federal grant-making agencies and allows users to apply online at its site. Perhaps more comprehensive is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, which contains all federal programs. (Is a merge of the two sites imminent? Let’s hope so…)

Last but not least, the Federal Trade Commission also warns how to avoid the abundant grant scams that prey on people’s desperation or vulnerability. Users also can file complaints at its site.

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Entry bubble Adult Immunizations

By: Jake | November 18, 2010 | Category: Travel

For our third birthday we launched the Share Your Story: GovGab Guest Writer Challenge. We're proud to showcase our winning posts, which will run this whole week.

KristaKrista Cook has four higher-education degrees, three in government (B.A., M.P.A., and Ph.D) and she recently finished up a fourth in library/information science (M.L.S.) at Emporia State University. She enjoys helping people find quality information, especially from government sources, and considers herself an information fanatic. She currently resides in Kansas with her husband Greg.

I was 35 when I got married. My husband was substantially older. He didn't know what immunizations he had had or if they were current. I didn't want him dying on me before we'd had a chance to be married. So, I started doing everything I could to preserve him. He's been a good sport about it too. He told me, "if you are willing for me to stay healthy, I'm willing to stick out my arm."

We hear a lot about immunizing kids and teenagers but adults need to get vaccinated too. Flu season will start soon. Why not get a flu shot and get up-to-date on all the immunizations you need at the same time? The CDC provides a quiz you can complete.  It will tell you which immunizations you ought to get. The quiz only takes a minute or two and you can print off the results.   

Keeping records is easy. I use this form from Immunize.org. Health care professionals have always been willing to fill out my paperwork as well as their own. After that, I slip the form into a protective cover and store it with my health records. 

Your local public health department is usually the best place to get vaccinated. It is one of their main responsibilities and their prices are low. Visit flu.gov for flu information and to find flu shot clinics in your community.   

I discovered that people generally die of pneumonia after their body has been weakened by a flu bug so getting a pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine is important too, especially if you’re getting up there in years. 

Another important discovery was the new shingles vaccine (herpes zoster). Recommended for people 60+ it can help prevent or minimize shingles symptoms and pain. The vaccine is a little hard to find and expensive, but worth it. Insurance generally doesn’t cover it yet. New vaccines can make anybody nervous, but the shingles vaccine is actually the chickenpox vaccine (varicella) multiplied 15 times in strength. 

So, do yourself and your loved one a favor. After all, being immunized brings peace of mind. 

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Entry bubble Make More Money…Stay in School!

By: Jess | November 17, 2010 | Category: General

 For our third birthday we launched the Share Your Story: GovGab Guest Writer Challenge. We're proud to showcase our winning posts, which will run this whole week.

 Richard GrovesRichard Groves manages a public library outside Nashville, TN where he connects people with the information- both educational and recreational- that improves their lives. 

I work in a public library near Nashville, Tennessee. Everyday we help people with school projects, family histories, and finding information for work. Some days I use health information from the CDC, while other days it is as simple as checking for historic sites in a national park.

On a recent Sunday afternoon a college professor came in desperately needing information on average incomes in the United States for each level of college degree completed—bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. She explained that she was trying to convince her students that it was worth their time, effort, and money to continue their education past the bachelor’s level. The problem she was having, though, is that she needed data beyond anecdotal stories of how her life has been improved by her continued college studies, and she had no idea where to start.

Since this was a statistical question about income I headed straight to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. We found some great information in the recent “College Spotlight”, but every level of degree attainment is grouped together so as to compare incomes of those who have and haven’t finished college. I noticed that below one of the graphs it said that the information came from the Current Population Survey. I did some quick reading and found that the survey was a partnership between the BLS and the Census Bureau. So, off I went to Census.gov!

 On the Census website I headed right for the FAQ and searched “educational attainment earnings.” I was so happy that the first result was Question 337 Earnings data by occupation and educational attainment. The professor was so excited when I printed out for her the report “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” that she specifically mentioned the information she received in a recent library survey.

This is just one of many examples of how I use government information in my daily life to help the community.

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