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Issue 2012-01 — January, 2012
This newsletter is published monthly by the Military Retiree Assistance Office outside Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Korea. It is provided primarily for the information of retirees of all services and their families living in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The information contained herein may not necessarily reflect the views or official positions of the Department of Defense, the U.S. military services and their component commands. If you are receiving this newsletter directly by e-mail, it is because you have subscribed to it and confirmed the subscription. To subscribe or unsubscribe, please follow the instructions contained at the end of the newsletter. All issues of the newsletter are maintained in HTML, PDF Print and Text formats on an index at the Retiree Activities Office web site. The index allows direct access to each news item in each newsletter. Outlook users should use the 'Print' button at the right. Others may use the 'Print' button or other print options.Print Button
Contact the MRAO: in Korea DSN 784-1441, commercial 0505-784-1441; outside Korea 82-31-661-1441;


Korea Retirees' Schedule of Events

Retirement Services Officer Update

Due to budget limitations, the two U.S. Army Retirement Services Officer (RSO) positions in Korea have been cut back to one RSO to serve retirees throughout Korea. Mr. Mark Wade will continue as Korea RSO and will continue to operate from his office at Camp Casey.

Note in the above Schedule of Events that the travel schedule to Yongsan and Daegu has changed and the monthly visit to Camp Carroll at Waegwan has been eliminated. Retirees in the Waegwan area will once again have to travel to Daegu for RSO services.

Military Retiree Assistance Office

Correction for Texas Voters, Release #34 January February March 2012 Primaries

Texas voters, please note the following correction for the validity of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA): The registration/ballot request form (FPCA) for Texas is valid only in the year it is submitted. To ensure your request is valid for all elections in 2012 submit a registration/ballot request form (FPCA) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after December 31st.

The original release can be found at

Federal Voter Assistance Program e-mail, Dec 9

VA Launches Facebook Pages for All 152 Medical Centers

Today, we are excited to announce that all of VA's 152 medical centers are now represented on Facebook — an important milestone as we reach more Veterans at the local level than ever before. "By leveraging Facebook, the Department continues to expand access to VA, and embrace transparency and two-way conversation," said Secretary Shinseki.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

In This Issue

Medical Care Matters

VA Prosthetics

[Department of Veterans Affairs] VA researchers have a prosthetic arm that patients can control just by thinking about it. It's called brain-computer interface, according to Dr. Joel Kupersmith, VA's chief research and development officer. "We have a woman who – just by her thoughts – can grab a ball swinging on a string and move it around. The thoughts are recorded with electrodes on the skull, and [patients] can drive prosthetic arms or wheelchairs." That "proof of concept" limb is just one of the 2,100 projects being developed by VA researchers, who on 15 Nov gave media a quick overview of their long-term goals and short-term successes.

The department's researchers have an impressive history in American medicine. VA doctors performed the first liver transplant and invented the first pacemaker. CT scans and multi-site research projects owe their start to past VA investments. In recent years, Kupersmith said, department officials have focused on catching up with modern technology, projects like GPS units and iPhone applications for blind veterans. Researchers have also expanded their scope, assembling a million-veteran database of DNA and genetic data for research and illness tracking.

Effects of the recent wars have also become a focal point. The VA has several investigations into women's health issues and at least five post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury studies. Many of the projects won't show dividends for years, but other projects – like clinical trials on advanced prosthetic arms – could help veterans much sooner. That doesn't mean the brain-powered limb is just around the corner. Kupersmith notes that another patient using the technology has successfully sent emails using only thoughts, but the technology is still years from becoming a practical applications. [Source: Stars & Stripes, Leo Shane article, 15 Nov 2011]

RAO (Baguio) Bulletin, Dec 1

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Osteoarthritis Finding Could Pave Way for Prevention

Challenging long-held notions that osteoarthritis is a result mainly of wear and tear on the joints, researchers led by Dr. William H. Robinson of the Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University have provided new insights into the immune-system changes that may trigger cartilage breakdown. Their report appears in the Nov. 6 online edition of Nature Medicine.

"This research can lead to a better quality of life for Veterans and others with osteoarthritis," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "This is an example of how VA's research program can lead to many significant breakthroughs in health care."

Working with samples from humans with osteoarthritis and mice, the research team found that the complement system, a group of proteins that move freely through the bloodstream, plays an important role in the development and spread of osteoarthritis. When functioning normally, the complement system is an important part of the body's immune system, killing harmful bacteria and cells infected by viruses when it is called upon to do so.

The researchers discovered that one component of the complement system, called the membrane attack complex, or MAC, is formed and activated in the joints of both humans and mice affected by osteoarthritis. They believe that when the MAC is aberrantly activated in the joints (a phenomenon called "dysregulation"), it induces low-grade inflammation and the production of enzymes that break down cartilage and result in the development of osteoarthritis.

"It's a paradigm change," says Robinson, a physician-researcher with the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Palo Alto VA and an associate professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford. "People in the field predominantly view osteoarthritis as a matter of simple wear and tear, like tires gradually wearing out on a car."

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, affects millions of people around the world, usually those who are middle aged or older. The disease is most commonly found in hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips. Currently, there are no therapies available to slow the progress of the disease, and treatment is focused on pain control. Ultimately, some patients with osteoarthritis require joint replacement surgery.

Robinson says one-third of people aged 60 or over suffer from osteoarthritis. VA estimates that more than 6 million World War II and Korean War Veterans are still living and could be affected. Finding a way to stop the disease from progressing in an aging population could potentially help millions of Veterans.

Robinson said he is optimistic about the potential of the new findings to eventually translate into better therapies to treat osteoarthritis or prevent it altogether. "Right now," he says, "we don't have anything to offer osteoarthritis patients to treat their underlying disease. It would be incredible to find a way to slow it down."

VA Press Release, Nov 21

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TRICARE Debunks Internet Rumors That Data Theft Letter Is a Scam

By Bob Brewin

Officials with the military's health care program have verified that a mass mailing informing beneficiaries they are eligible for free credit reports in the wake of a September data breach is not a scam.

The letter from contractor Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) has aroused suspicions on an Air Force Facebook page and in retiree and military spouse Internet forums. It offers free credit monitoring and restoration services for one year to TRICARE beneficiaries whose personal information was exposed when backup computer tapes with health records of 4.9 million people were stolen from an SAIC employee's car.

Postings on the official Facebook page of Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany not only called the letter a scam, but said one squadron at the base "sent out an email saying it was a scam and to turn all letters into them as they had opened an investigation" with the Office of Special Investigation."

The Scam Checker website contains numerous posts depicting the message as a fake, and others deeming it authentic, One recipient even called the FBI to determine if the letter was legitimate, which the bureau confirmed.

CincHouse, a website for military women and wives, confused the issue even more with posts that looked at different parts of the SAIC letter and came to the conclusion that there were two letters in circulation: a real one and a scam. An online forum at also mixed up parts of the SAIC letter and determined there were two versions floating around.

The SAIC letter signed by Walter P. Havenstein, the company's chief executive officer, is "NOT a hoax," TRICARE spokesman Austin Camacho told Nextgov in an email.

"Please remind your readers to double-check the letter they receive from SAIC to ensure contact information matches the toll-free phone numbers as these are the ONLY valid phone numbers to verify authenticity and obtain assistance," Camacho said in his email. Concerned beneficiaries in the United States should contact the SAIC Incident Response Call Center toll-free at 1-855-366-0140. Those abroad can call collect: 1-952-556-8312.

"We understand that some recipients of the letter are concerned that it may be a scam," SAIC spokesman Vernon Guidry said. "They may reassure themselves that the letter is genuine by accessing the TRICARE Management Activity website (at". [SOURCE: NextGov article at] e-mail, Dec 8

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Switch to Stairs to Help Weight Loss

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great choice to increase your baseline activity level throughout the day. The effect on your weight depends on how many flights a day you climb, as well as your size and fitness level. People who weigh more or are more out-of-condition will burn more calories climbing the same stairs than lean, fit people.

Although the switch to taking the stairs can seem like a big move, for most people it really adds less than five minutes of physical activity a day. That adds up to a calorie burn that probably won't result in much weight loss, but research suggests that it is enough to prevent the typical one to two pounds of weight gain most adults experience every year. That small yearly weight gain never seems like much, but adds up to real health risk.

So for a small investment in time, a switch to taking the stairs actually has a good pay-off. In addition, by improving your physical fitness, it will be easier for you to take on other more extended physical activity that has even greater weight control impact.

Finally, many people find that small bursts of activity throughout the day, such as taking the stairs, offer other benefits, like a boost in mental and physical energy. Emerging research suggests that even without making major changes in calorie-burning or weight, simple activities such as taking the stairs may have health-changing effects on insulin function and decrease the belly fat that poses greatest health risk.

Reprinted on December 6, 2011, courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research. For more information, please visit

GEHA Health eReport, Dec 2011

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Pay Matters

Credit Union Credit Cards

Bank of America's misstep with debit card fees has brought a lot of attention to credit unions. Even though Bank of America is "taking back" the fee in response to the outcry from the public, Bank Transfer Day still took place on 5 Nov. Even if you don't switch banks, you can still consider taking a look at credit cards offered by credit unions.

In most cases, you'll need to have good-to-excellent credit, but if you're turned down, call and ask if they'll look at your application again. Credit unions have been known to take unusual circumstances into consideration. Here are a few things you need to know about credit union credit cards:

  1. You have to become a member. This isn't always easy because some credit unions serve only a select group. You can join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union with a one-time $20 donation. But you can't join Navy Federal unless you're associated with the military. But there are many others out there that do allow a broader membership so you just have to do some research. You can start your search at A Smarter Choice, which is associated with Credit Union National Association. You can search by location or even do an advanced search by occupation, school and more.
  2. You usually get lower interest rates. Credit unions are non-profit organizations that are owned by the members. According to the Credit Union National Association, federally chartered credit unions have an interest rate cap of 18 percent on all loans, including credit cards. This fact helps to keep rates low. But the rates are also low because you're not just a customer, you're an investor. So many credit unions funnel their profits back to you. This results in savings on various financial products. If you revolve a balance, a credit union credit card is a good choice because you'll save money on interest expense.
  3. You still have to read the fine print. Don't assume that since it's a credit union, you don't need to worry about protecting yourself. You still need to read the disclosure statements carefully. Shop around and compare the terms to a similar card at a regular bank. When it comes to credit products, it's always buyer beware.

[Source: Business Insider, Beverly Blair Harzog article, 5 Nov 2011]

RAO (Baguio) Bulletin, Dec 15

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As I See It – Consider Yourself Warned

By Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret.

As we come to the end of 2011, many are thinking we had a successful year and dodged some really bad things that could have greatly affected the military community.

A year ago, the president's deficit commission proposed freezing military pay, whacking military retirement, dramatically raising health care costs for retired servicemembers of all ages, eliminating commissaries, and much, much more.

After 12 months of hand-wringing over how Congress might act on those proposals and what the grossly misnamed congressional "super committee" might suggest, it seems we've come to the end the year with no such changes.

But if that's what you're thinking, you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

The $460 billion defense budget cut enacted in August 2011 is going to affect you and your family. We just don't yet know exactly how badly.

A Pentagon-proposed plan to implement the cuts is sitting on the president's desk, and all indications are that a large share will come from people, compensation, and health care programs. Within the next two months, that plan will be all over the news.

And that's not all.  (more…)

MOAA Legislative Update, Dec 16

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Legislation Matters

Winding Down on NDAA

H.R. 1540, the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is poised for passage; lawmakers reached an agreement on this important bill Monday evening (Dec 12).

According to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the conference report provides $530 billion for the defense department's base budget, $115.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, and $11.1 billion is set for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Other provisions in the final bill: (To see the list of 22 specific items click on this link)  (more…)

Noticeably absent from the bill is a Senate-approved provision repealing the SBP/DIC offset. This provision was not retained in the conference report, and we are greatly disappointed with that decision. Nor does it appear to include previously agreed to House language allowing modest increases and extending the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA). Apparently that language was dropped as well.

The bill may still face a veto threat from the President over language granting military custody of terrorist suspects. This issue has been a major impediment to the bill's passage for months and lawmakers reworded the provision many times in an effort to gain the presidents approval. If everything goes according to plan, the House is expected to take a vote on the bill on tomorrow and the Senate later in the week.

AFSA On Call Newsletter, Dec 14

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Congress Sprinting to the Finish Line

Lawmakers will make a full-court press this week to complete the annual funding bills and legislation addressing other important issues. Yesterday, House and Senate appropriators announced they reached a deal on a $900 billion FY 2012 spending plan that funds the bulk of federal agencies through September 30, 2012. H.R. 2055, the FY 2012 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act will be used as the vehicle to advance this legislation, and we anticipate that package will be filed sometime today. Congress must approve it quickly however; the current continuing resolution funding the government expires on Friday, December 16.

Additionally, Congress still needs to come to an agreement on a package of extenders for the payroll-tax cut which expires at year's end, unemployment insurance, and the physician reimbursement rate issue better known as the "Doc Fix." The latter issue concerns us greatly because unless lawmakers step in, doctors treating Medicare and TRICARE patients will see a 27 percent cut in reimbursements January 1. This could create serious access problems for beneficiaries; since doctors would likely limit the number of patients they see who use these two programs. Healthcare benefits only have value if you can find a doctor that accepts TRICARE or Medicare — a point we have driven home with Members of Congress all year long. Senior congressional leaders expressed confidence that an agreement is in sight, and we continue to watch the development of that legislation closely.

At the start of the year, lawmakers projected they would complete all necessary actions by December 9 and adjourn for the year on that date. As it stands right now, Congress will remain in session through this week and probably will continue to do so into early next week.

AFSA On Call Newsletter, Dec 14

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FY2012 NDAA is Passed and Sent on to the President

Yesterday the Senate passed the previously House passed NDAA and sent it to the White House. The President has said he will sign it. The Conference Report of the final agreement is 371 pages long so there are numerous areas to check out but here are a few important parts of the bill:


It is the sense of Congress that —

As you all know, on October 1 the Department of Defense [DoD] raised the TRICARE Prime yearly enrollment fees for military retirees under the age of 65 who are newly entering TRICARE Prime. (new yearly enrollment fee is $260 for an individual and $520 for a family.) DoD wanted to raise the premiums each year by a "medical cost index" that they created. This would average 6% a year and would quickly eat up a retiree's retired pay.

However, Congress did not agree to that. Rather they said: "Beginning October 1, 2012, the Secretary of Defense may only increase in any year the annual enrollment fees described in paragraph (1) by an amount equal to the percentage by which retired pay is increased." This means that retirees in Prime will be held harmless. They won't lose any ground — but they won't gain any either. This may seem like a small point but it is really an important success. If DoD had not been stopped the premiums would gobble up the retired pay.

It is heartbreaking to report that the provisions to either end the [Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation] SBP/DIC offset completely (Senate) or to lessen its impact (House); both died in Committee. Of course, both Senator Bill Nelson's (D-FL) and Representative Joe Wilson's (R-SC) bills survive into next year — and we will continue to push them. Presently HR178 has 165 co-sponsors and S260 has 49 co-sponsors.

Happily, nothing was added in conference to resurrect the proposal to combine the commissaries and exchanges into one system and drop the $1.3 billion in annual appropriations to the commissaries. The proposal which has been supported by many members on both sides of the aisles would make the Commissaries, like the Exchanges "self sustaining." It would also clearly abolish the steep discounts at the commissaries.

Supporters said that they would make up this loss for active duty family members by giving them a yearly $400 payment. However since it is calculated that an average military family saves $4,400 a year at the commissaries the payment would not even touch the loss. And even the $400 would not be given to members of the Guard & Reserve, retirees and survivors. Unfortunately this idea is far from dead and we will probably deal with it in the future.

TREA News for the Enlisted, Dec 16

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Two Month "Doc Fix" Deal

In a classically convoluted way, the chances of a "doc fix" – which would prevent a 27% cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to medical providers starting the first of the year – went from hopeful to bleak back to hopeful over the past two weeks.

Last week the House passed a two-year doc fix along with a one-year extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits (H.R. 3630).

With vastly differing opinions on how to offset the cost of paying for this long-term fix the Senate amended the House version and reduced the fix to a much smaller two-month patch with the stated goal of hammering out a long-term solution in early 2012.

After passing this short-term patch the Senate promptly left town for their holiday recess.

The political atmosphere went from promising to hopeless when the House refused to consider the Senate's two-month patch and instead, appointed conferees in hopes of working out the differences.

After much finger pointing and with strong constituency criticism, cooler heads prevailed as House and Senate leaders agreed to a short-term, two-month bill with a guaranteed conference between both chambers for a longer-term, one-year fix.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stated that he expects both House and Senate to act on the bill today [Dec 23].

[The Military Officers Association of America] MOAA is appalled that Congress waited until the last minute and failed to come to a longer-term solution; however, we remain hopeful that a longer-term solution will be developed by the conferees after the first of the year.

MOAA Legislative Update, Dec 23

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Community Matters

Getting Cash at the Exchange is Like Money in the Bank

As banks calculate consumer's pain threshold for increasing fees, the Exchange is offering shoppers cheap access to their money with free check cashing and cash back on debit transactions.

"It's all about saving money and time," said the Exchange's Chief of Staff Col. Tom Ockenfels. "You can cash your checks and get cash on your own time at the Exchange and won't be charged a fee."

Authorized shoppers can cash personal checks up to $300 per day, per customer at no charge and as always, checks will be accepted up to the exact amount of any purchase. Customers will also be able to use their debit cards to receive up to $50 cash back at the registers.

The Exchange also cashes a wide variety of other checks and instruments for cash at no charge such as Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society and Naval Relief Society checks, U.S. insurance checks, U.S money orders, traveler's checks, Western Union checks as well as payroll checks issued by authorized government contractors and other non-appropriated fund agencies.

Shoppers can visit their local Exchange for more information about its free check cashing policy.

AAFES News Release 11-061, Dec 6

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Family Relation Register (FRR)

Effective January 1, 2008, new forms of family register certificates are issued by the government offices, Ward offices, City halls, Myun offices, Eup offices, and Dong offices throughout the country when the individual and his/her immediate family members (parents, children, or spouse) apply for the issuance of these certificates. You may apply for one or all of these Family Relation Registers (FRR) for your previous spouse in person.

The new Family Relation Register (FRR) is issued for each individual member of a family to protect personal information. According to the purpose of issuance, the certificates of family relation registers can be classified into five categories:

  1. Identification certificate (Gibon jeungmyongseo)
  2. Family relation certificate (Gajokkwankye jeungmyongseo)
  3. Marriage relation certificate (Honinkwankye jeungmyongseo)
  4. Adoption relation certificate (Ipyangkwankye jeungmyongseo)
  5. Special adoption relation certificate (Chinyangja ipyangkwankye jeungmyongseo)

Please note that the Family Relation Register certificate of family relation shows names of spouse, parents (including adoptive parents), and children (including adopted children) based on current family relationship.

The Identification certificate shows only the individual's date of birth, place of birth, current and any former names, and death.

The Marriage Relation certificate provides information on the individual's marital status only.

from US Embassy, Seoul Web Site

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New Voter Back-Up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Now Available

The online version of the revised Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is available now at If voters have registered but not received their State ballot 30 days before the election, they can still vote by using the FWAB. Since the FWAB serves as a back-up ballot, a voter should still vote and return their State absentee ballot if they receive it before the election. The State absentee ballot will be counted instead of the FWAB if received by the State deadline.

Voters can visit to use the online wizard or access the PDF fillable forms. The online wizard will populate the candidate names for federal elections 30 days prior to the date of the election.

The FWAB is a standard form accepted by all 55 States and territories for uniformed service members and overseas voters. The 2011 revised FWAB is wholly compliant with provisions of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, as amended by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act in 2009, containing space for the required information but structured in a more logical and usable flow. FVAP conducted a series of usability assessments with the previous form resulting in substantial improvements using many established best practices for election-related forms

The previous 2005 version of the form can be used by voters; however, be sure to use the current State information from to ensure your local election official receives all the information required to send the back-up ballot to you. Voting Assistance Officers should send voters to whenever possible and go through proper channels to obtain hardcopy forms. Overseas citizens groups should also stress using the online wizards to simplify form completion, but can contact FVAP directly to acquire hardcopy forms.

Federal Voter Assistance Program Release #35, Dec 13

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Federal Service Matters

Public Transit Subsidy May Drop

The subsidy that many federal employees receive for using public transportation or van pools in their commuting is due to revert to a lower level in January unless Congress acts to maintain the amount. The tax-free maximum has been $230 a month for several years, but this year it remained at that level due only to a temporary measure set to expire at the end of the year. The prior figure was $120 a month, although that would rise to $125 due to an inflation adjustment if the higher figure is not continued. Many federal employees get the subsidy in the form of transit passes, although some get cash allotments to spend on commuting. The program is not universal, though, and in places where it is available the terms vary, sometimes governed by union contracts. A separate, more rarely paid, parking subsidy for those who use public transit is set to rise from $230 to $240 a month.

FEDweek Weekly Issue, Nov 30

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Payroll Contributions Issue also Pending

Also pending a decision is the size of the required payroll deduction toward Social Security, which is paid by employees under [the Federal Employee Retirement System] FERS and under the hybrid [Civil Service Retirement System] CSRS Offset retirement systems. Typically that contribution is 6.2 percent, but under an economic stimulus provision it is only 4.2 percent this year. Proposals have been raised to continue the lower rate for another year or even to drop it further, to 3.1 percent. However, opponents note that the lower rate is taking money from Social Security just when the system is facing large outlays from the baby boom generation's retirement. The Social Security deduction is taken from salary up to a cap, which will be $110,100 in 2012. For FERS employees, that portion of their retirement contribution cuts off at that level; CSRS Offset employees continue paying the same amount, with the entirety above that point going into the civil service retirement fund.

FEDweek Weekly Issue, Nov 30

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Laughing Matters

Senior Bus Tour

A tour bus driver is driving with a bus load of Seniors down a highway when he is tapped on his shoulder by a little old lady. She offers him a handful of peanuts, which he gratefully munches up.

After about 15 minutes, she taps him on his shoulder again and she hands him another handful of peanuts.

She repeats this gesture about five more times.

When she is about to hand him another batch again, he asks the little old lady, "Why don't you eat the peanuts yourself?"

"We can't chew them because we've no teeth", she replies.

The puzzled driver asks, "Why do you buy them then?"

The old lady replies, "We just love the chocolate around them."

Moral: It pays to be careful around old people!!!

from the Internet

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Doctor's Office

While I sat in the reception area of my doctor's office, a woman rolled an elderly man in a wheelchair into the room. As she went to the receptionist's desk, the man sat there, alone and silent.

Just as I was thinking I should make small talk with him, a little boy slipped off his mother's lap and walked over to the wheelchair.

Placing his hand on the man's, he said, "I know how you feel. My mom makes me ride in the stroller, too."

Teddi's Humor by way of Christian Voices

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Aggie Hunters

Two Aggie hunters got a pilot to fly them into the Canadian wilderness, where they managed to bag two big Bull Moose.

As they were loading the plane to return, the pilot said the plane could take only the hunters, their gear and one moose.

The hunters objected strongly saying, "Last year we shot two, and the pilot let us take them both...and he had exactly the same airplane as yours."

Reluctantly the pilot, not wanting to be outdone by another bush pilot, gave in and everything was loaded.

However, even under full power, the little plane couldn't handle the load and went down, crashing in the wooded wilderness.

Somehow, surrounded by the moose, clothing and sleeping bags, Bubba and Bobby Joe survived the crash.

After climbing out of the wreckage, Bubba asked Bobby Joe, "Any idea where we are?"

Bobby Joe replied, "I think we're pretty close to where we crashed last year."

from the Internet

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Jack Terwiel, Director

Director's Corner

Reprise: Looking Back, Looking Forward

In the January 2010 Director's Corner I said the following: "Last year, this column ended 2008 contemplating the new administration asking, '... in which direction will the change take us?' We now have some of the answers. First, the country is deeper in debt and with higher unemployment than when we asked the question. That's the not-so-good news. On the other hand, inflation has not been a problem as evidenced by the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment that would be caused by inflation."

Two years on, what I said then applies now. The only change is that we received a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase at the end of 2011. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that COLA increase signifies that inflation is rearing its ugly head again. In addition to continued unemployment, the uncertainty about government regulations that continue to depress the private sector appears to be increasing rather than decreasing.

With the end of U.S. active involvement in Iraq, and the imminent end to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the budget cutters are looking at a significant cut in defense spending to continue funding favored domestic programs. As noted in Steve Strobridge's column, we may become part of the targets of the budget cutters and see the reduction or total loss of benefits such as health care and commissary, to name just two. Added to these uncertainties are the uncertainties we will surely be facing with the new regime in North Korea.

Happy New YearThe year 2012 will be a watershed as far as which road we take to the future. As some predict, will we continue to see greater and greater involvement/intrusion in our lives by the U.S. government? Or as others predict, will we continue to move closer to the European model and further from the Declaration of Independence? The voters will determine that in November. There is one certainty among all this uncertainty. I'm glad to be here as part of the Korea retiree community and Punee and I want to take the opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and safe 2012. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jack & Punee Terwiel

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Tech Tactics – The Highs and Lows of Wi-Fi

By Reid Goldsborough

One of the most successful digital technologies of the past decade has been Wi-Fi. From home networks and college campuses to coffee shops and airports, Wi-Fi is a convenient and inexpensive way to connect multiple PCs, smartphones, tablet computers, game consoles, and other digital devices to the Internet.

Wi-Fi, which stands for wireless fidelity, is the name of an increasingly popular wireless networking technology based on radio waves. Instead of communicating through a cable, devices connect over the air.

These days, most portable digital devices have Wi-Fi adapters built in. You can buy inexpensive Wi-Fi adapters for desktop PCs as well as many newer televisions. With Wi-Fi-enabled TVs, you can watch videos, movies, and shows from YouTube and Hulu for free and movies and shows from Netflix inexpensively.

More and more "hot spots" allow for free (and sometimes pay) Wi-Fi access to the Internet. According to a new study by market research firm In-Stat, the number of Wi-Fi hot spot locales is expected to increase to 1 million by 2013.

Besides the usual locales, hot spots also are found at military bases, hospitals, gas stations, department stores, supermarkets, and RV parks and campgrounds.

Wi-Fi access to the Internet isn't without its risks and problems. At the top of the list is security. Accessing the Internet at a free public hot spot, in a worst-case scenario, can allow identity thieves to steal your Social Security number, bank login name and password, and other personal information.

One trick is for crooks to set up a rogue Wi-Fi network that looks like it's legitimate but that allows them to see and harvest the information they need to steal from you.

How to avoid this?  (more…)

MOAA News Exchange, Nov 30

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Subscribing and Unsubscribing

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