When I started writing this personal blog it was with the intent to learn more about myself and as a consequnce share myself openly with the reader. Then the Jodi Arias murder trial took over, followed by the Aaron Hernandez and George Zimmerman thing go crazy. So I went with it. Now it’s back to me again. Back when I started this, it was the idea that I would be on a self discovery journey, a journey through life but this time through a different lens, and in a way I didn’t see things before. I would share my experiences with my battle with my son and bipolar, there is so much that I could tell you alot I did share and alot time wouldn’t allow to completely share, that one day I may continue to share. Through out this time I had been a relationship with an amazing woman, a woman to be honest I wasn’t ready for when I met her. In so many ways she was everything to me. She ultimayely was the one who pointed out to me that I didn’t need to change who I was, it was important to know who I was and she challenged me to find the man I am. If I thought I knew…I was wrong so wrong. I was the man everyone else wanted me to be, I wasn’t the true me. Yet she skillfully showed me that person. Our relationship ended late September after two years, yet we remain friends. I hurt not being able to be in that relationship but I finally understood what it is I need to be …More, more of me the true me the me I am to be. With out her I would have continued to sprial out of control in a personal and emotional kind of way. I would have lost …me. I was on the way to doing just that and didn’t realize that. So that brings me to the here and now. I am no longer in a relationship and I am on my quest to find my one and only. The next love of my life that will not be in front of me or behind me but at my side. And while I am on my journey to find that special someone …I am going to remember to continue to be me continue to be more because I am more.
By John BIERS
New York (AFP) – Amazon Thursday said it would give $20 gift cards and pay shipping costs for customers affected by problems at UPS and FedEx that delayed some Christmas package deliveries.
The Amazon pledge came after UPS in particular came under fire for late packages despite vows from retailers to meet a December 25 deadline.
Some customers took to Twitter to voice their displeasure, likening one or both delivery giants to the “Grinch who stole Christmas.”
Amazon pointed the finger squarely at the delivery companies. The online retail giant did not give estimates for the number of affected shoppers.
“Amazon fulfillment centers processed and tendered customer orders to delivery carriers on time for holiday delivery,” said Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako. “We are reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.”
Walmart also will provide gift cards to customers who did not receive packages by the promised deadline, the New York Times reported.
Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
UPS spokeswoman Natalie Black said the problems stemmed from a “perfect storm” caused by an unexpected jump in Christmas shopping the last two weeks, a compressed holiday shopping season in 2013 due to the late date of Thanksgiving and some severe weather that halted some deliveries.
“The result is that some packages that were set to be delivered on Christmas Eve were delayed,” Black said.
A FedEx spokesperson also reported a “surge” in volume, but said the rise was typical.
“We had minimal service disruptions despite the increase in volumes, and are working directly with customers who may have experienced any delays,” said the FedEx spokesperson.
Investors shrugged off the news. UPS gained 0.2 percent, while FedEx rose 0.9 percent.
The delivery woes suggested the retail sector is still adjusting to shifting customer behavior with the rise of online shopping.
More retailers have promised to execute Christmas-deadline deliveries ordered later and later in the season.
“There will be a few glitches in the next few years,” predicted Chris Christopher, director for consumer economics at IHS Global Insight. “Whenever you’re growing at double digits like this, there’s bound to be this kind of thing happening.”
Christopher expects online sales gains of 13.5 percent for the 2013 holiday season, compared with an increase of just 3.2 percent for the overall retail market.
Given its rising importance, retailers will likely increase delivery capacity next Christmas after this year’s problems, Christopher said. Consumers are also likely to take additional steps, such as ordering earlier in the season, he said.
Early data on the overall season pointed to mixed results.
An analysis by MasterCard Advisors showed US holiday retail sales improved 2.3 percent, with strong gains in jewelry and modest growth in apparel.
Online retail sales from desktop computers rose 10 percent from a year ago to $42.8 billion, said comScore. However, the report showed “considerably softer” sales than expected in the final week before Christmas.
Christopher of IHS said the sales growth was on track to be the worst since 2009, despite the strong gains in the online market.
Analysts say the retail sector typically produces individual winners and losers depending on whether a particular company falls in or out of fashion.
That said, the 2013 holiday shopping season is regarded as one of the most heavily promotional in recent years, with retailers like Walmart and Best Buy pricing aggressively.
Amazon characterized its overall holiday shopping season as the “best ever” in the company’s history.
Particularly popular was the “Amazon Prime” service, which provides free two-day shipping services and streaming of some television shows and movies for $79 a year.
Amazon said it signed up more than one million customers for its “Prime” service in the third week of December.
by Stephanie Slifer/ CBS News/
First in a series: Crimesider’s cases to watch in 2014
One of the most closely-watched murder cases of 2013 will be making headlines again in 2014, as Jodi Arias is expected to return to court for sentencing.
On May 8, Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of her one-time boyfriend Travis Alexander. But when it came time for sentencing the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether she should get life in prison or the death penalty. Her fate has since been in limbo.
WATCH: 48 Hours: “Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias”
Under Arizona law, prosecutors had the option of taking the death penalty off the table, which would have meant Arias would either spend the rest of her life behind bars, or be eligible for release after 25 years. That decision would have been up to the judge.
Instead, prosecutors decided to pursue another penalty phase with a new jury. Once seated, the new jury will be tasked with weighing whether Arias should be sentenced to death or life in prison.
“The likelihood is that a jury is not going to come to a unanimous death verdict because there are just too many factors that mitigate in favor of a life verdict for someone like Jodi Arias, who is clearly quite disturbed,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told Crimesider.
In Arizona, mitigating circumstances include “any aspect of the defendant’s character, propensities or record and any of the circumstances of the offense.” Arias’ defense team introduced eight “mitigating circumstances” in court, including her age, troubled upbringing and artistic talent, in an attempt to save her from a death sentence. Prosecutor Juan Martinez argued during the trial that none of that matters in regard to the brutal killing.
In the event that a second panel fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty would automatically be removed from consideration, and the judge would sentence Arias to life in prison or allow her to be eligible for release after 25 years.
Travis Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit from ear to ear and was shot in the forehead. Arias admitted she killed the 30-year-old Alexander, but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her in his Mesa, Ariz. home. Prosecutors successfully argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage.
In November, a judge ruled live television coverage of Arias’ penalty phase retrial will be banned and the case will remain in Phoenix despite arguments from the defense, which wanted it moved. Arias’ murder trial was broadcast live and became a four-month long television spectacle. A date for the retrial of the sentencing phase remains undetermined but is expected to take place sometime in 2014.
By Dominique Rodgers
Monster Contributing Writer
You’ve heard the rumors in the breakroom. Layoffs are imminent. Or maybe you just didn’t meet your productivity goals last quarter and you’re nervous. Are you the one who’ll be laid off? Did your mistake cost you your job? How can you tell?
Here are some signs you’re about to get the boot.
Your Level of Responsibility Has Taken a Nosedive
If you used to handle huge projects and now you’re fetching coffee, that’s bad. If you’re typically so busy that you barely have time to blink and now you have to ask for work, tasks have obviously been shifted to others. Career coach Chaz Pitts-Kyser says, “This means your boss is already preparing for your absence and doesn’t want too many of your assignments up in the air when he or she finally tells you you’re getting the pink slip.”
The Boss Is Avoiding You
“One of the biggest signs that you may be on the short list and about to be shown your way to the door is when people, including your boss or manager, begin to avoid you or become less responsive to your calls, emails, etc,” says Lin Grensing-Pophal. The human resources author advises seeking feedback in these situations rather than avoiding it. “It may represent an opportunity to turn the situation around.”
You’ve Been Disciplined Recently
Many people participate in their own discipline meetings and then fail to see it coming when they’re let go. Let’s face it, though, you know if you aren’t a good employee. If you’re constantly late, not meeting your sales or production goals, having problems with your co-workers, etc. then this should not be a surprise. The first meeting or write-up is a warning, the second is a gift to let you know you’re on really thin ice. The third is usually the end.
All Hail the Robots!
If your job can be automated, it probably will be automated. “If the type of work that you do can be done by a machine instead of a person, you may need to look for another type of job,” says career coach Cheryl Palmer, owner of Call to Career. “It’s usually just a matter of time before your company decides that a machine can do your job for less money.”
No More Professional Development
If you are no longer permitted to leave for professional association luncheons or your employer withdraws prior approval for a class you wanted to take, this is a bad sign. It may be a “back door” communication strategy, according to Leigh Steere, a management coach. Steere advises employees in this situation to ask, tactfully, what is going on — and possibly to begin looking for another job.
Your Company Was Recently Acquired
If you work at Small Widget Factory and are bought out by Gigantic Widget Factory, chances are they already have someone there who does your job. You may be asked to remain for a while to get your counterpart at Gigantic Widget Factory up to speed, but then your duplicate position will probably be eliminated.
You’ve Been Asked to Create a Job Description for Your Position
If a company is in financial trouble and cutting costs, eliminating salaries is always a possibility and the company will need to prepare for when you’re gone. “One way they do that is by making a big push to get precise, updated job descriptions for everyone. The company needs to know exactly what you do so they can possibly replace you with a lower paid employee or even a temp,” says Julie Austin, founder of Fun Job Fairs. Of course there are legitimate reasons for getting job descriptions also, so context is key in this regard.
By Mandi Woodruff
If you were a member of the college class of 2009, you know a thing or two about misery.
At the time, graduates were entering the worst job market the U.S. had seen in a generation, unemployment rates among new college graduates ballooned, and, for many young people, their diploma bought them was worth little more than a one-way ticket to Mom and Dad’s basement.
Well, here’s a bit of a silver lining for the much-maligned class of ‘09: Graduating in a recession might mean you will actually be happier in the long run.
Fascinating new research from Emory University shows that people who graduate during recessions are more satisfied with their careers than those who graduated during times of prosperity.
An extra dose of satisfaction
In her study, “The Bright Side of Bad Times,” researcher Emily C. Bianchi analyzed data from two government surveys on job satisfaction that have been administered since the 1970s, and found recession graduates benefited from an extra dose of satisfaction because they managed to land a job during hard times.
That knowledge, the study found, acted like something of a talisman for them for years to come, protecting them from disappointment even if they wound up in lower-paying careers. Bianchi found the same effect occurred even after controlling for income, industry, occupation, age, gender and work experience.
“What surprised me most about these findings was how long these effects endured,” she says. “Recession graduates were typically happier with their jobs even decades after receiving their diplomas – and even after markets stabilized, recessions slowed and hiring ramped up.”
We’ve seen a similar effect among Olympic athletes. Psychological studies of bronze and silver medalists have shown people who win bronze are happier than silver medalists because they are so thrilled to have a spot on the podium at all. Silver medalists may have won a bigger prize but they are more likely to beat themselves up over having missed their shot at gold.
“I found that much like bronze medalists, these graduates spent little time ruminating over how they might have done better and tended to be grateful to have a job at all. Those who graduated during more prosperous times, however, looked at their current jobs differently. Rather than revel in their good fortune, these graduates tended to wonder if they could have or should have done better. Much like silver medalists, they were more likely to be plagued by regret, second-guessing and what ifs.”
Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant picked up on Bianchi’s study as well, pointing to two other studies that show overachievers tend to wind up more miserable in some situations:
College seniors who aim for the best jobs earn 20% more than their peers but are still less satisfied with their jobs, and job candidates who negotiate for salaries tend to earn more but still wind up feeling unhappy with their paycheck.
“When people start their jobs with a rosy view, they’re more likely to be dissatisfied and unproductive, and more inclined to quit,” Grant says. “There’s a gap between high expectations and the mixed reality of most jobs … When people enter a job with a realistic preview, they turn out to be happier, more productive and more likely to stay.”
The bottom line: Expectations are everything.
By Jack Phillips, Epoch Times
Jodi Arias, the Arizona woman convicted of killing her boyfriend Travis Alexander five years ago, will have her sentencing phase retrial in Phoenix.
A judge denied a second motion from her defense attorneys last week, reported The Associated Press. The attorneys sought to move the trial due to intense media scrutiny.
A pre-trial hearing will take place on Jan. 3 ahead of the trial, which starts in mid-February, Alexander’s brother, Steven, wrote on a Facebook page.
“Letting everybody know, the trial isn’t due to start until mid February. We believe this is a tactic to try and get us to throw in the towel. We will not! I say again it won’t happen. Our family will come together and see it through until it is finished,” he wrote.
He added: “There is a monster that haunts us, but once the correct sentence is given, it’s her who will be haunted until the most the most humane punishment comes to her. Nothing compared to the sentence she gave to a good man. Anyhow, the entire Alexander family thanks all of you. Thank you for having our backs.”
The sentencing trial date has not been specifically set. Prosecutors are trying to seek the death penalty.
In the first sentencing attempt, jurors failed to agree on her sentence, leading to the new trial.
Arias, 33, said she killed Alexander in his suburban home in 2008, but she said it was in self-defense. Alexander was stabbed more than 30 times, his throat was slit, and he was shot in the head.
Prosecutors argued that Arias killed him in a jealous rage.
A month ago, a report said that Cassandra Collins, a woman who shared a cell with Arias, claimed Arias wanted to kill Maricopa County Attorney Juan Martinez if she got the death penalty. Her cellmate also said Arias had an odd infatuation with Martinez.
“She’s dangerous, very dangerous,” Collins told KSAZ-TV in late November. “She’s out of her freaking mind.”
Collins said she was speaking out because she feels Martinez is in danger.
“She asked me questions like, ‘Why doesn’t Juan Martinez love me?’” Collins said. “And I’m like, ‘Love you? He’s your prosecutor. He’s there to prosecute you for a crime.’
By Kwame Opam on December 20, 2013 05:15 pm
With Target already reeling from a massive hack that left up to 40 million credit and debit cards compromised, The New York Times now reports that all that data has been pouring into the black market since the break-in. With the breach taking place between Black Friday and December 15th, criminals on hundreds of illicit card-selling markets have likely had access to consumer information for weeks to date.
“Guests will not be held responsible for fraud”
Security experts, including security blogger Brian Krebs, say that criminals sell stolen credit cards in bulk, with individual cards going for as little as a quarter or as high as $100 depending on the credit limit. With that kind of access, they can then burn the information onto counterfeit cards or use them to purchase gift cards that siphon off the victim’s account.
Target issued a statement today reassuring customers that they will not be held responsible for any credit or debit fraud. While the company states that it hasn’t received many fraud complaints since news of the breach broke, it has given affected account numbers to credit card companies. In addition, the company is offering a 10 percent discount on in-store purchases — evidently to curry good will among customers.
Update: Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel added that Target will now offer free credit monitoring services as an “extra assurance.”
Hint: It’s not the mortgage, credit cards, or cable
MarketWatchBy Catey Hill
If you want to know Americans’ priorities, just look at who’s got the keys to their hearts: their cars. Unfortunately, that affection can put them on the road to financial ruin.
Americans tend to pay their car loans before their mortgages or credit cards each month, says Steve Chaouki, group vice president in credit bureau TransUnion’s financial services business unit. Consider: Among consumers with auto loans, mortgages and credit cards, the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was just 0.88% last year, while the rate for credit cards was 1.82% and the rate for mortgages was 1.91%. While overall, those rates have improved since 2009, when the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was 1.34%, credit cards 2.82% and mortgages 3.83% — the priorities are still clear: cars, then credit cards, then mortgages. And, says, Chaouki, autos are likely to again lead the pack for 2013.
So what’s behind the priority we give to our rides? “Some of this is about freedom,” says Kimberly Foss, the founder and president of Roseville, Calif.-based financial planning firm Empyrion Wealth Management. “They feel stuck if they don’t have a car, so they pay it first.” Joel Ohman, a certified financial planner and founder of CarInsuranceComparison.com, says that this may also have to do with media headlines. “People hear about others who have been late on their mortgage and still kept the house, so they think they can do it too.”
Or, it may simply be that Americans love their automobiles. There are more passenger vehicles in this country than licensed drivers, and one in four people considers his or her car “something special” vs. merely a “means of transportation,” the Pew Research Center found. What’s more, many Americans ascribe human characteristics to their cars: 31% say they think of their car as having a personality — with those ages 18 to 29 dominating that group (41% of them think their ride has a personality). What’s more, the love affair is likely to progress: Transunion predicts that auto loan debt per borrower will jump more than $1,000 from a projected $16,942 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $17,966 in same period in 2014.
On its surface, this devotion to car payments may not seem to be a problem, but financial experts say that consumers have their priorities wrong. “It’s a huge mistake to pay off the car first,” says Ted Jenkin, a certified financial planner and founder of Atlanta-based financial services firm oXYGen. Consumers should instead first set aside money for necessities, says Kimberly Foss, the founder and president of Roseville, Calif.-based financial planning firm Empyrion Wealth Management. “Pay for food and essential medical care, housing and related utilities, and transportation — in that order,” she says. “It about survival.” Once you’ve paid for those items — which should account for about 50% of your monthly spending — prioritize things like alimony, child support and taxes, which you can go to jail for not paying, as well as other debts like credit cards, Foss says.
Some experts point out that, if you can’t pay all your bills, prioritizing credit cards over both auto loans and mortgages is a mistake as well. The reason is that auto loans and mortgages are secured debts — meaning that the lender can take back the asset that’s backing the loan (in these cases, your car or your home) if you don’t pay.
Of course, that’s not to say you should skip the credit card payment either. Experts say you should pay at least the minimum, or more if you can, on all debts each month to avoid dinging your credit score. But if you find yourself in a situation where some bills might have to fall through the cracks, call the creditors and see what you can work out, says Jenkin. “They are for-profit companies and they don’t want to get nothing,” he says. “It’s better to call in advance and see if you can work something out — just be sure to get it in writing.”
Jodi Arias strongly refuted the claims made last week that she wanted the prosecutor in her case killed.
Arias’ former cellmate, Cassandra Collins, previously told MyFox Phoenix that Arias told her she threatened to have the prosecutor’s throat slit if she was given the death penalty.
The station reported that Arias attacked Collins’ credibility on Twitter.
When asked directly by MyFox Phoenix reporter Troy Haden if she denied saying she wanted her prosecutor dead, Arias tweeted “of course.”
MyFox Phoenix admits that Collins, “Like many women in jail … has been treated for some emotional and mental issues.”
Collins also said Arias, “tried to manipulate every inmate there and tries to control how they think about her case. She’ll try to suffocate you with her version and her side. When I got released out, I was like thank you God I got delivered out of hell.”
Arias was convicted of murder in May for the 2008 death of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander.
Her retrial that will determine whether she gets life in prison or the death penalty is in the pretrial stages.
Convicted killer Jodi Arias will be back in court this morning for a hearing a head of her sentencing trial. Arias was found guilty of first degree murder back in May for the 2008 murder of her former boyfriend Travis Alexander. Arias, now 33 repeatedly stabbed Alexander in his home after spending the evening with him. Some friends of the victim found Alexander dead in his shower stall a few days after the murder. Alexander was discovered with over 20 stab wounds, a slash to the throat and a bullet to the head.
Arias went back to court today for yet another hearing prior to the sentencing phase of her trial. The jury that convicted Arias of murder could not unanimously agree on a sentence. Arias is currently facing a life sentence or a death sentence. A new jury is supposed to be sworn in but Judge Sherry Stephens has yet to schedule a penalty hearing. The judge has ruled that there will be no live TV coverage of the new trial. Arias’ murder trial caught national attention and the months of testimony played out in front of a national audience.
Despite her current predicament Arias is not letting a potential death sentence stop her from speaking to her hoard of loyal followers on Twitter. Arias has been active on Twitter since her trial tweeting updates first had or with the help of a friend. Arias also uses Twitter to let followers know when her artwork goes on sale. The former amateur photographer spends her time in jail painting and then selling her art online. Arias most recent tweets let followers know a toilet has back up in a cell above her.
She also shared her latest horoscope and voiced her opinion that the new jury should be sequestered for her sentencing trial. Since the first jury was unable to come to a decision about her fate Arias and her attorneys have said they feel the jury should be sequestered. Arias believes all of the media attention her case is getting will taint a jury pool and she will be unable to get a fair trial. When Arias was first found guilty she said in an interview she would prefer the death penalty. When it came time to speak to the jury Arias asked that her life be spared for her family’s sake.