Social Security Errors That Can Cost You Thousands

Social Security Errors That Can Cost You Thousands - Social Security benefits are the bedrock of most Americans' retirement security. So it's well worth your time to learn how to get the most from these valuable benefits -- and avoid making mistakes in how you collect them.

To help you in this endeavor, I checked with two of the nation's foremost experts on Social Security: Andy Landis, author of "Social Security: The Inside Story," and Jon Peterson, who wrote "Social Security for Dummies." Between Andy, Jon and I, we came up with four common errors that you should avoid and that will help you optimize your Social Security benefits.

Mistake #1: Starting retirement benefits too early

Half of all Americans claim Social Security at age 62, the earliest possible age with the lowest monthly benefit. But most workers can significantly boost their lifetime payout of Social Security income by delaying the start of their monthly benefits. By how long? At least until age 66, and to age 70 if you can wait that long. For many married couples, this strategy will also improve the financial security of widows who, when their husband dies, will step up to the Social Security income their husband was receiving before he died.

I realize that many people lose their jobs and claim Social Security benefits early to make ends meet. But personally, I'd take any job that would pay me an amount equal to my Social Security benefits in order to reap the advantage of delaying my benefits as long as possible. I'd work at Wal-Mart (WMT), Starbucks (SBUX) or any other part-time job that pays enough to replace my Social Security benefits, while giving me enough free time to look for a better-paying position. In the long run, it's a financially smart move.

Mistake #2: Claiming Social Security now before program changes are made

"Some people think they must hurry to apply now, before Social Security runs out of money or before reforms make them ineligible," Landis said. "In fact, Social Security is projected to have the money it needs to operate at the current level for over two decades. And nearly all reforms on the table will apply to younger generations, not those currently retiring. So calm down and follow your best plan for claiming Social Security benefits."

Mistake #3: Not coordinating benefits for spouses

"Many people fail to coordinate claiming benefits with their spouse, and they miss opportunities for married couples to optimize their payouts," Peterson pointed out. These strategies usually entail starting Social Security benefits at different times for the husband and wife, whereas many married couples start their incomes at the same time.

One common strategy is to delay benefits as long as possible for the highest earner -- often the husband -- for the reasons described above. The wife might then claim benefits at an earlier age to have some retirement income coming in. Whether the optimal age to start the spouse's benefits is age 62 or age 66 (the official retirement age to collect full benefits) depends on your particular circumstances, such as the age difference and relative career earnings history of each spouse.

Mistake #4: Under-reporting of income by self-employed individuals

Many self-employed people under-report their taxable income for Social Security purposes, or use tax deductions to minimize their taxable income, on the assumption that paying any taxes is bad. But "This can hurt if you want Social Security benefits one day -- including disability benefits, in the case of unexpected illness or accident," Peterson said.

I know a number of self-employed people who've minimized their Social Security taxes over the years and are now reaching their retirement years with little or no retirement savings and severely reduced Social Security benefits. Now they regret this strategy and will need to keep working indefinitely.

According to one analysis, Social Security taxes are actually a good investment, so don't automatically think it's a good idea to avoid paying these taxes.

These are just a few of the mistakes that people routinely make in drawing Social Security. Stay tuned for future posts on how best to use the federal program.

It's well worth your time to learn all you can about Social Security benefits; it can result in increasing the lifetime payout for both you and your spouse by many thousands of dollars. ( CBS MoneyWatch )

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How women want to be kissed

How women want to be kissed - Kisses are more than a meeting of the lips. When done well, they’re a form of communication, a surefire way to tell a woman “I want you” and “I love you.” When done badly, kisses can be... well, the kiss of death for a new relationship. So, forgive us for asking, but how do your kisses rate? You’ve probably been smooching for so many years that you take your skills for granted. Stop for a moment and think about it, though: Are you really good at it? Could your repertoire use some refreshing? 

To help any man become an even better kisser, we went on a fact-finding mission. Below, nine women reveal what makes them go weak at the knees. (Is some of this information contradictory? Well, yes; what can I say? One woman’s thrill is another woman’s turn-off. Love is like that sometimes.) Now go ahead and read their stories, and then put these insider insights to work for you. 

Put some passion in it
“We want to be kissed slowly, constantly, and passionately, all over... like you really mean it! We want to be kissed long, slow, deep and hard — all at once.”
– Cynthia Garrett, actress/television host and “Hip Girl” blogger 

Inch on over and make that move... slowly
“Never ask a woman if you can kiss her. If you really can’t read the signs, you are better off not even trying. What does work? Getting closer and closer without touching builds tension, and that leads to the ultimate lip-lock.” 
– Amy Sacco, owner of NYC clubs Bungalow 8 and Lot 61 
Watch out for the nose!
“A deep, hot kiss for me means mouth on mouth, the perfect alignment of noses, and a hand inching up to hold the back of my neck.”
– Elizabeth Lippman, photographer 
Try a kissing bandit technique
“A kiss doesn’t have to be face-to-face to be breathtaking. When my husband and I first started dating, I was standing at a bar ordering a drink when he came up behind me, put his arms around my waist and kissed the side of my neck, right under my ear. It literally sent shivers down my spine. I remember thinking: ‘Wow! I hope this relationship lasts!’”
– Kimberly Lewis, magazine editor 
Always be a gentleman
“A man needs to have the right amount of confidence and gentleness to deliver a good kiss. Being over-confident is a big turn-off for me. I hate when a guy is so full of himself that he goes in for the kiss when you haven’t given him a single signal yet to do so. Yuck!”
– Danna Weiss, fashion expert and founder, 
Put your fingers in her hair
“I like to have my hair stroked while kissing or having him pull my head closer. Men taking control is a total turn-on.” 
– Melissa de la Cruz, best-selling author of the Blue Bloods series 
Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact
“I love it when a guy stops kissing me for a moment, places his hand on my face, and then just stares at me like he could devour me before going in for another kiss — that is just heaven.”
– Carmindy, author and makeup artist/beauty expert for TLC’s What Not To Wear 
Pull off the perfect PDA
“An intense kiss when you’re not expecting it is so sexy. I was on a date with my now-husband and we were walking down the street, when out of nowhere, he pressed his body up against mine and began making out with me passionately. He didn’t care who walked by or if anyone screamed, ‘Get a room!’ That was a while ago, and I still think about it all the time.”
– Alexis Karl, painter and creator of the cherry bomb killer perfume line 
Deliver the sweetest series of smooches
“After a make-out session, end it with a hint of sweetness... like a tiny peck on each cheek, then the tip of the nose, and then the forehead. That mix of naughty and nice sends chills up my spine. Yum.”
– Alexandra Bellak, real estate agent ( )

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New, Colorful Monkey Species Discovered

New, Colorful Monkey Species Discovered - A shy, brightly colored monkey species has been found living in the lush rainforests at the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a find that utterly surprised the researchers who came upon it.

"When I first saw it, I immediately knew it was something new and different — I just didn't know how significant it was," said John Hart, a veteran Congo researcher who is scientific director for the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation, based in Kinshasa.

An adult male lesula, a newly-identified monkey species native to a limited area of central Democratic Republic of Congo.

The picture that started it all: Georgette with her monkey friend.

In fact, the find was something of a happy accident. Hart first spied the suspect monkey in 2007 while sifting through photographs brought back from a recently concluded field expedition to a remote region of central DRC.

Yet the image that caught his eye hadn't been taken in the field. It was snapped in a village, and showed a young girl named Georgette with a tiny monkey that had taken a shine to the 13-year-old. 

What is that?

It was a gorgeous animal, Hart said, with a blond mane and upper chest, and a bright red patch on the lower back. "I'd never seen that on any animal in the area, so right away I said, 'Hmmm,'" he told OurAmazingPlanet.

Hart decided to get to the bottom of the mystery. Fast forward through five years of field work, genetic research and anatomical study, and today (Sept. 12) Hart and a list of collaborators formally introduced to the world a new primate species, dubbed Cercopithecus lomamiensis, and known locally as the lesula. Their work is announced in the online journal PLOS One.

It turned out that the little monkey that hung around Georgette's house had been brought to the area by the girl's uncle, who had found it on a hunting trip. It wasn't quite a pet, but it became known as Georgette's lesula. The young female primate passed its days running in the yard with the dogs, foraging around the village for food, and growing up into a monkey that belonged to a species nobody recognized. 

Further investigation revealed the full story of the strange monkey. It turned out that C. lomamiensis, a cryptic, skittish primate, roams a swath of dense rainforest some 6,500 square miles (17,000 square kilometers).

"For a big mammal to go unnoticed is pretty unusual," said Kate Detwiler, a primatologist and assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University, and an author on the paper. Yet one visit to the area that the lesula calls home reveals why the monkeys escaped scientific notice for so long, Detwiler told OurAmazingPlanet. This region of the DRC is remote and vast.

The trees tower overhead, blocking out the sun, and the forest floor — the chief domain of the lesula — is steeped in a permanent gloom. The forest is full of sounds. At first light, the lesulas raise a lilting chorus of booming calls, distinct from the cries of their monkey neighbors who pass their lives in the trees high above the forest floor; at dusk, the cries of African grey parrots echo through the canopy. The earth is wet and soft, and feet sink into the ground with each step. There is a gentle, steady thud as fruit falls from the trees.

One gets the feeling of being on a ship very far out to sea, Detwiler said ?only here, the ocean is the endless expanse of the trees. "I felt so privileged to be there," she said. "I wish everybody could have that experience."

Blue buttocks

The lesulas live in this isolated region in groups up to five strong, and feeds on fruit and leafy plants. The males weigh up to 15 pounds (7 kilograms), about twice the size of the females. They also have some rather arresting anatomical features.

"They have giant blue backsides," Hart said. "Bright aquamarine buttocks and testicles. What a signal! That aquamarine blue is really a bright color in forest understory."

"So in terms of monkey viewing, females can definitely find males," Detwiler said.

"We don't really know what this means because it's very uncommon for monkeys in this lineage," she added.

The only other monkey to share this feature is the lesula's closest cousin — the owl-faced monkey, a species that lives farther east. At first it was thought the monkeys were close kin, but genetic analysis suggests the two species split from a common ancestor about 2 million years ago.

Now that the new species has been formally identified, Hart said, the next task is to save it. Although the lesula is new to science, it is a well-established sight on the dinner table.

What's for dinner

There's a thriving market for bush meat, particularly in urban areas, Hart said, and the monkeys are just one of dozens of species, from snakes to elephants to apes, that are targeted.

"People have disposable income, and this is the cheapest meat," he said. "Bush meat is a go-to item because it's less expensive than chicken or beef. This is not a new problem, but it's a problem that doesn't have a solution yet."

Hart and his wife, Terese, are partnering with local people to try to set up a national park in the lesulas' territory, but it's still a work in progress. In the meantime, researchers have set up camera traps in the dense forest to try to better understand the habits of the shy animals.

Georgette, the girl whose lesula companion started it all, is now 18. "The animal was very attached to her," Hart said. But one day the monkey disappeared.

"It was suspected that somebody in town had taken it in," Hart said. "And it ended up in their cooking pot." ( )

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Dino-Killing Asteroid Sparked Global Firestorm

Dino-Killing Asteroid Sparked Global Firestorm - The huge asteroid impact thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago may have painted the sky a blazing-hot red and sparked a cataclysmic global firestorm, researchers say.

Most scientists believe the mass die-off known as the K-T extinction — which saw up to 80 percent of all species vanish — was caused by an asteroid or comet that carved out the 112-mile-wide (180 kilometers) Chicxulub crater in what is today Mexico.
An asteroid believed to have smacked Earth some 65 million years ago likely caused a global firestorm that led to extensive plant and animal extinctions, a new study shows.

Researchers who created a new model of the disaster say the impact would have sent vaporized particles of rock high above the planet's atmosphere, where they would have condensed into sand-grain-sized bits. Falling back to Earth, the hot ejected rock material may have dumped enough heat in the upper atmosphere to cause it to bake at 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,482 degrees Celsius), turning the sky red for several hours.

This infrared "heat pulse" would have acted like a broiler oven, igniting tinder below and cooking every twig, bush, tree and basically every living thing not shielded underground or underwater, the researchers say.

"It's likely that the total amount of infrared heat was equal to a 1 megaton bomb exploding every four miles over the entire Earth," study researcher Douglas Robertson, of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, said in a statement.

To give an idea of the staggering amount of energy unleashed by this heat pulse, the researchers note that a 1-megaton hydrogen bomb would be the equivalent of 80 Hiroshima-type nuclear bombs, and the Chicxulub event is thought to have produced about 100 million megatons of energy.

The global firestorm theory has been put forth before, but some scientists have questioned it, claiming that much of this intense radiation would have been blocked from Earth by the falling rock material. Even after accounting for this shielding, however, the model created by Robertson and his team found the sky still would have heated up enough to set the world's forests ablaze.

Adding to the team's evidence is a layer of excess charcoal found in sediment at the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, boundary (dated to about 65 million years ago), which would be consistent with global fires. Other scientists had suggested the soot was debris from the impact itself. But there's too much charcoal in this layer to have been dumped on Earth by the asteroid crash alone, according to Robertson and his colleagues.

"Our data show the conditions back then are consistent with widespread fires across the planet," said Robertson. "Those conditions resulted in 100 percent extinction rates for about 80 percent of all life on Earth."

There is still some debate about whether the Chicxulub impact triggered the K-T extinction. Some researchers link the catastrophe to volcanic activity in modern-day India and others have pointed fingers at different impact sites, such as the Shiva crater in India.

CIRES is a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The new research was detailed this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences. ( )

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President Obama’s Vanity Fair feature details his (hollering) obsession with pickup hoops

President Obama makes sure you're not taking a ridiculous long two-pointer (Getty Images)

President Obama’s Vanity Fair feature details his (hollering) obsession with pickup hoops - As a fan of American history or American politics, no matter your political leaning, Michael Lewis' Vanity Fair profile on President Barack Obama will rank as a must-read. Stuck in the middle of our own working day, we're looking forward to giving it a lengthy run-through once the whistle blows.

As a fan of basketball? Reading an NBA blog in the afternoon stuck in the slowest point of the NBA's offseason? An insight into President Barack Obama's personal influence on the game he appears to enjoy above all others is nearly as fascinating as reading Lewis' borderline-unprecedented access into Obama's day-to-day affairs as sitting president. And between an NPR interview from Wednesday and Vanity Fair's nine-page feature there are unending sources of material to glom on to just within the realm of The First Fan, governing aside.

Obama doesn't play as much as he'd like to anymore, those year-old Under Armour kicks he debuted last fall are apparently still court-worthy nearly a year later, but the caliber of opponent and his apparent devotion to efficiency (and, apparently, teeth-rocking physical play against players that were sometimes half the president's age) appeared to surprise Lewis.

Lewis, who counts the fabled "Moneyball" and "The Blind Side" amongst his works within the realm of sportswriting, did hand over quote approval to the White House for his story. The quotes, scrubbed though they may be, are still worth a look. From the NPR interview:
And he had kind of orchestrated himself to - he had worked very hard to get to the point where he could take the shot and get a good shot. He also screams at you if you - if you're on his team and you take bad shots, he doesn't put up with it. He was hollering at me.
In fact, he hollered at me so much - he hollered at me - he was so - I was so embarrassed by being outclassed and feeling like he was going to be pissed off at me if we lost, that I, at some point, I kind of snuck out of the game and went and sat with the scorekeeper. But the first time I jacked up a shot that he thought I shouldn't take, he started screaming at me.
And at that the - when the game was over and it was clear his team had won four of the six games, you could see that the reason that his team had won was that the players on his team didn't take stupid shots because they were afraid the president was going to scream at them if they did.
The president, according to Lewis, doesn't want to be counted on as the president once he steps between the lines. Lewis relayed how Obama didn't pout when taken advantage of by younger, better players on defense. He apparently was keen to make the extra pass, even while open himself, and doesn't enjoy counting kowtowers amongst his practice mates. "If you defer to him," Lewis told NPW's Terry Gross, "you're not invited back."

A welcome respite, no doubt, from a political life spent either discussing affairs of state with those attempting to only tell the president what he wants to hear, or those saturating every bit of advice or counsel relayed to the commander in chief with agenda and bias. Those unfortunate realities are explained in detail in Lewis' Vanity Fair feature.

After briefing, President Obama was now aware that 80 percent of misses rebound to the weak side (Getty Images …

For now, though, we'll highlight the hoop-centric aspects of his piece. Such as the caliber of opponent Obama likes to choose for his run.

From Vanity Fair:
A dozen players were warming up. I recognized Arne Duncan, the former captain of the Harvard basketball team and current secretary of education. Apart from him and a couple of disturbingly large and athletic guys in their 40s, everyone appeared to be roughly 28 years old, roughly six and a half feet tall, and the possessor of a 30-inch vertical leap. It was not a normal pickup basketball game; it was a group of serious basketball players who come together three or four times each week. Obama joins when he can. "How many of you played in college?" I asked the only player even close to my height. "All of us," he replied cheerfully and said he'd played point guard at Florida State. "Most everyone played pro too—except for the president." Not in the N.B.A., he added, but in Europe and Asia.
Overhearing the conversation, another player tossed me a jersey and said, "That's my dad on your shirt. He's the head coach at Miami." Having highly developed fight-or-flight instincts, I realized in only about 4 seconds that I was in an uncomfortable situation, and it took only another 10 to figure out just how deeply I did not belong. Oh well, I thought, at least I can guard the president. Obama played in high school, on a team that won the Hawaii state championship. But he hadn't played in college, and even in high school he hadn't started. Plus, he hadn't played in several months, and he was days away from his 51st birthday: how good could he be?
To start, the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes is former George Mason head man Jim Larranaga; and he has two sons. Jay, a former Bowling Green point man who played alongside longtime NBA journeyman Antonio Daniels in college, is now an assistant coach under Doc Rivers in Boston. The second, and more likely candidate is Jon Larranaga — who played at George Mason and currently works out of the Washington, D.C., area. Either way, these are relatively young college veterans, and hardly a group of golden-oldies meant to make Obama's uneasy jump shot look true.

As if he could fire one off against that competition, anyway. From Lewis' NPR interview:
So he took, in the course of five games we played, or six games, he took maybe five shots and made all but one of them.
This, according to the Vanity Fair feature, is by design. In his advancing age, Obama is trying to turn himself into a no-stats All-Star:
"What happens is, as I get older, the chances I'm going to play well go down. When I was 30 there was, like, a one-in-two chance. By the time I was 40 it was more like one in three or one in four." He used to focus on personal achievement, but as he can no longer achieve so much personally, he's switched to trying to figure out how to make his team win. In his decline he's maintaining his relevance and sense of purpose.
All of this is revelatory, but it pales in comparison to the overall work Lewis has done here; both in his recounts on NPR, and the Vanity Fair piece. We might be uneasy with the White House's filter on Lewis quotes, and you might be uneasy with Obama's politics and the idea that he could be re-elected to a second term. Vote how you will, make pointless comments however you see fit -- as a document, this is something worth taking your time with. Both his interview and the feature are something you must work through if you have any interest in domestic or international politics. Or leadership within that realm.

On a smaller scale, as always, is the basketball. And Obama's style of on-court politicking, and leadership, is pretty telling as well. ( Ball Don't Lie )

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New World's Hottest Temperature Declared

New World's Hottest Temperature Declared - El Azizia, Libya, no longer holds the title for "world's hottest temperature." Today, that record passes to Death Valley, Calif.

No, a heat wave didn't pass through the notoriously baking area yesterday. The new record-setting temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) was actually recorded in Death Valley on July 10, 1913.

The temperature is only now being recognized because the previous record high temperature of 136.4 F (58 C) in El Azizia has been overturned by the World Meteorological Organization after an in-depth investigation by a team of meteorologists. The record temperature had long been thought dubious, but this new study has finally made the persuading case to overturn it, 90 years to the day after it was made.

New World's Hottest Temperature Declared 
This is a drawing of the Six-Bellini thermometer, the antiquated type used to make the observation of the former world's hottest temperature in El Azizia, Libya.

A measurement in doubt

The Libyan temperature had been recorded on Sept. 13, 1922, at an Italian army base. It had long stood out as an oddity, even though Libya certainly sees hot temperatures: El Azizia is located about 35 miles southwest of Tripoli, which lies on the Mediterranean coast. The waters would have a tempering influence on temperatures in the area, all of which weren't nearly as high as the record temperature.

"When we compared his [the thermometer reader's] observations to surrounding areas and to other measurements made before and after the 1922 reading, they simply didn't match up," said team member Randy Cerveny, of Arizona State University, in a statement.

Cerveny and the other members of the international team dug through historical records to evaluate the plausibility of the temperature.

The team was able to find and locate the original log book in which the temperature was recorded. From it and other sources they were able to identify five major problems with the record temperature: it was made a new and untrained observer; it was measured with an instrument that was antiquated even at that time; the observation site wasn't representative of its surroundings; it didn't match other temperatures measured in the area; and it didn't match later temperatures taken at the site.

"We found systematic errors in the 1922 reading," said Cerveny, who also is the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO, the person responsible for keeping worldwide weather records.

Essentially, the case likely boiled down to someone inexperienced incorrectly reading a thermometer that could easily be misread, the team concluded. The resulting reading was too high by 12.6 F (7 C), they found.

Not just for bragging

Officially, the "new" world record temperature extreme is 134 F (56.7 C), recorded on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley, Calif. 

Of course, the record isn't just good for bragging rights. It also helps communities that experience extreme temperatures to properly plan and build for such extremes.

Accurate measurements of past temperatures also help scientists better understand the Earth's climate and weather.

"The end result is an even better set of data for analysis of important global and regional questions involving climate change," Cerveny said. ( )

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Lessons from the 'World's Ugliest Woman': 'Stop Staring and Start Learning'


Lessons from the 'World's Ugliest Woman': 'Stop Staring and Start Learning' - Lizzie Velasquez, author of Be Yourself, Be Beautiful.When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed "The World's Ugliest Woman" in an 8-second-long YouTube video. Born with a medical condition so rare that just two other people in the world are thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds.

In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her "it" and "monster" and encouraged her to kill herself. Instead, Velasquez set four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself.

Now 23 years old, she's been a motivational speaker for seven years and has given more than 200 workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She's a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend. Her first book, "Lizzie Beautiful," came out in 2010 and her second, "Be Beautiful, Be You," was published earlier this month.

"The stares are what I'm really dealing with in public right now," she told Dr. Drew Pinsky in an interview on CNN's Headline News this week. "But I think I'm getting to the point where… instead of sitting by and watching people judge me, I'm starting to want to go up to these people and introduce myself or give them my card and say, 'Hi, I'm Lizzie. Maybe you should stop staring and start learning'."

Velasquez was born in San Antonio, Texas; she was four weeks premature and weighed just 2 pounds, 10 ounces. "They told us they had no idea how she could have survived," her mother, Rita, 45, told the Daily Mail. "We had to buy doll's clothes from the toy store because baby clothes were too big." Doctors warned Rita and her husband, Lupe, that their oldest child would never be able to walk or talk, let alone live a normal life. (Her two younger siblings were not affected by the syndrome.)

Instead, she has thrived. Her internal organs, brain, and bones developed normally, though her body is tiny. Since she has no fatty tissue in which to store nutrients, she has to eat every 15 to 20 minutes to have enough energy to get through the day. One brown eye started clouding over when she was 4 years old, and now she's blind in that eye and has only limited sight in the other.

"Some days life doesn't make sense," she writes in "Be Beautiful, Be You." "You just have to change what you can, ask for help and pray about the rest."

She notes her triumphs and posts inspirational messages on Tumblr, and says that she's learned to embrace the things that make her unique. Instead of trying to retaliate against people who have made her feel badly, she sets goals for herself and pushes herself to succeed in spite of the haters. She's even reclaimed YouTube, video blogging about everything from bullying to hair-styling tips to staying positive.

"I feel really glad that I don't look like the celebrities out there that are so beautiful," she told Dr. Drew. "There's a lot of stereotypes attached to that." Not looking like a supermodel "gives people the opportunity to know you personally," she explains. "If they're willing to take that extra step they'll get to know the person you really are."

Of course, the horrible comments left on that old YouTube video stung (the video has since been removed, but Velasquez says she read every single comment). Now, she says, she understands that they're "just words."

"I'm human, and of course these things are going to hurt," she said. "Their judgements of me isn't who I am, and I'm not going to let these things define me."

"I didn't sink down to their level," she said in a follow-up video on YouTube last year. "Instead, I got my revenge through my accomplishments and determination. In the battle between the 'World's Ugliest Woman' video vs. me, I think I won." ( Secrets to Your Success )

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