Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Friday, January 6, 2012

TSA Cares: A new helpline for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions

TSA has launched TSA Cares, a new helpline number designed to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares will serve as an additional, dedicated resource specifically for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying.

The hours of operation for the TSA Cares helpline are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. Travelers who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to contact TSA Cares or can e-mail TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

All travelers can contact TSA using Talk To TSA, a web-based tool that allows passengers to reach out to an airport Customer Service Manager directly, and the TSA Contact Center, 1-866-289-9673 and TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov, where travelers can ask questions, provide suggestions and file complaints.

How It Works
    •    When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares, a representative will provide assistance, either with information about screening that is relevant to the passenger’s specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA.
    •    TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.
    •    Every person and item must be screened before entering the secure area of an airport and the manner in which the screening is conducted will depend on the passenger’s abilities and any specific equipment brought to the security checkpoint.
    •    All travelers may ask to speak to a TSA supervisor if questions about screening procedures arise while at the security checkpoint.
For more information, click here to read TSA’s press release on TSA Cares.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We don't need no stinking passports! Canada-US border crossed by man using iPad as ID

Our wedding was wonderful, its reception a blast. I tossed the bouquet and off we went to start our honeymoon and our 35 years together. And all would have ended happily ever after if only Jorge had remembered his passport. We turned around and surprised everyone as we arrived home for a second farewell to find his passport and to take a closer inventory of needed documents to cross the border.  This scene has been lived and relived by many over many years, most recently with us over our Christmas vacation.

Today a new solution to crossing the border without a passport was tried and found successful: Canada-US border crossed by man using iPad as ID

A Canadian man who forgot his passport has said that he managed to cross the border into the US using a copy of the document he had scanned on to his iPad.
I'll leave the commentary of border security and terrorist theories for others. I on the other hand wish to explore the fact that the iPad (or other tech-toy) is well packed while the passport is easily put aside, forgotten and lost. In fact I dare say the iPad is NOT packed at all, rarely leaving the hand at all given its value of keeping us connected  to friends, family and to the wide world on the web, not to mention it costs nearly $500.

Compare that to the cost to the value of passport:
Apply for a U.S. Passport
Apply for a U.S. Passport
Application Fee          Execution Fee

Adult Passport Book & Card
$140        +                    $25
$110   +                         $25
Adult Passport Card
If you do NOT currently hold a valid Passport Book or Card
$30     +                          $25
 Plus the fact it offers up no intrinsic source of joy or entertainment. It's just a flimsy little blue book of stamps and tiny little pieces of life-controlling papers.

So what to do if you do not have your passport because it's been
  • Stored safely in the friend's glove compartment of his car now traveling miles down the road, or
  • Sitting on top of grandma's dresser, or
  • Snatched by the thief who grabbed your purse while enjoying dinner---
  • AND you have no iPad or other tech copy 
  • AND you're facing the border guard or must board your plane in a couple of hours? 
Check the travel.gov pages on passport, of course!
How to Get Your Passport in a Hurry

BUT NOT SOOOOO FAST THERE BUCKO!!  As we discovered this Christmas vacation a certified birth certificate is needed FIRST and with today's governmental service cut backs this is nearly impossible to "expedite"! 

Beginning April 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of State will require the full names of the applicant’s parent(s) to be listed on all certified birth certificates to be considered as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship for all passport applicants, regardless of age.  Certified birth certificates missing this information will not be acceptable as evidence of citizenship.  This will not affect applications already in-process that have been submitted or accepted before the effective date.

In addition to this requirement, certified copies of birth certificates must also include the following information to be considered acceptable primary evidence of U.S. citizenship:
  • Full name of the applicant
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal of issuing authority
  • Registrar’s signature
  • The date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office (must be within one year)
Now who keeps a birth certificate in their hip pockets these days? So we went online hoping to quickly
 obtain a new birth certificate:
Another source for records (birth, death, marriage) is VitalChek Express: http://www.vitalchek.com/

If you cannot obtain a birth certificate that meets these requirements, there is some hope: see Secondary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship

But all of this now takes 5-10 working days (or more)- which DOES NOT count in the fact you lost or misplaced your passport on New Year's Day and all the state and federal offices are closed.

So what is a person to do when facing the boarder guard or airline counter?
Do as we did--It works better and faster: 

Prayer to St. Anthony for lost items
St. Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (name the lost item) which has been lost. 

At least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss. To this favor, I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God.

Prayer to St. Anthony for lost items