Saturday, December 26, 2009

Manage Your Mess and Maximize Opportunity in 2010

2010 Holds Peace, Prosperity and Promise

Happy New Year to all of you who log on and tell a friend, who tells a friend about As we step into 2010, I sincerely hope that your New Year is full of peace, prosperity and promise. We all harbor a dream that in some way has been deferred for a number of reasons, perhaps in or out of our control. There are places we'd like to visit but may not necessarily feel we'll ever get a chance to see. There are likely people in your family you really need to talk to and patch up your fragile or ripped communication hole. Let's make this year the year that YOU get some things in order that will help improve your life financially, spiritually, professionally and emotionally.

It is understandable that to accomplish your goals, you will have to eliminate excess baggage or like at the airport,  prepare yourself to pay the price for bringing extra with you. In essence, you have to evaluate your inner-circle and decide who needs to stay and who needs to go. However you decide to move forward in this new year, remember there is a right and wrong way to deal with everything. My advice is that you not only consider the consequences but grab a pen and paper, make a list of things you want to achieve in 2010, how you plan to be successful and draft an outline of your outcome, should you fail to take action.

On a personal note, through, I will continue to work harder on bringing you stories that entertain, educate and encourage you on a personal, professional and practical level.

Maniko Barthelemy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Get to Grandma's House Safely

Road Trip: 101

A heavy snowfall just days before Christmas is a treat to children and animals alike. It offers the perfect opportunity to build one of the best snowmen on the block and allows dogs to a chance to exercise in an
alternative way.

However, snow also brings with it dangerous and deadly consequences for drivers who take a chance on the roads. The recent blizzard that blanketed the East Coast, although meteorologists gave repeated warnings to drivers to stay off the road, left many drivers stuck on highways that were closed because of the snow or accidents. Between Dec. 18 and Dec. 20, Virginia State Police got 3,000 calls, regarding disabled vehicles, stuck in snow. In at least two of the four fatal crashes in the state, as a result of the blizzard, drivers lost control of the vehicles and were not wearing seatbelts. The 68-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man were thrown from the vehicle upon impact. “There’s no one single theory as to why people don’t wear seatbelts but everyone should understand the purpose of the seatbelt,” says Virginia State Police spokesperson, Corinne Geller. “Seatbelts are there to hold you in place, no matter what happens to your vehicle,” she adds.

Even more severe weather is predicted for the next few days across the East Coast and is expected to flow right into the holiday highway rush. According to AAA, nearly 80 million drivers will travel at least an hour or more, during this holiday season. It is without question that a lot of those drivers will have children onboard. While your time on the road may differ slightly more or less than someone else, if you have children in the vehicle with you, there are safety precautions you should not ignore. For some, it’s no big deal to let your child fall asleep on someone’s lap or take a nap on the floor of an SUV or minivan but that’s a temptation you should ignore and use your better judgment, according to Geller. “I can’t tell you how many accidents our officers have investigated, where they have to tell parents their children did not survive the crash,” says Geller.
Wearing a seatbelt isn’t the only safety precaution drivers should consider before taking off to get to grandma’s house for Christmas or the New Year. As you pack your suitcase and holiday gifts, AAA and Virginia State Police recommend a few vital items no one should be on the road without, especially in the winter.

In addition to coats, gloves and hats, your winter road survival kit shoud include;
• Flashlight with fresh batteries

• Blankets

• Booster cables

• Warning device, such as flares or reflective triangle

• Small bag of abrasive material, such as sand or cat litter

• Cloth or a roll of paper towels

• Small shovel

• Cell phone

• Can of de-icer

• Ice scraper

• Hand-warmers

• Cell phone car charger

• Get plenty of rest before the trip

• Bottled Water

• Snow Boots

• Booster/Car seat for children

You can call #77 from your cell phone for help if you have trouble in Virginia. You can also check Virginia road conditions by calling 511 from your cell phone.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Shoppers on a Budget, Criminals on a Mission

A woman who thought she was just giving directions to someone became a crime victim in a matter of seconds. Reportedly, when 22-year-old Julia Corker of Tennessee started talking to a young man at a busy intersection around 9:30 p.m., another man approached her Chevrolet Tahoe and ordered Corker out. Corker, the daughter of Sen. Bob Corker (R), Tennessee did not move fast enough for the criminals. According to Todd Womack, the senator’s chief of staff, the carjackers grabbed Corker by the neck and dragged her out of the SUV.

Thankfully two things happened that brought about quick relief. The senator’s daughter sustained minor injuries and police say a Global Positioning System led officers to a strip mall in Maryland. The two suspects, 25-year-old Steven Alston, of Northeast, DC and 22-year-old Dewalden Connors of Maryland, were sitting in the vehicle. They are being held in a Maryland jail and await extradition to Washington, DC. Both face charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and unarmed carjacking.
The timing of the crime and technique is a teachable moment for everyone, especially as millions of shoppers hit malls across the country buying holiday gifts. “All criminals look for two things, an opportunity and people they view as easy targets, says Baltimore City Detective, Donny Moses.

The holiday season likely rolls out easy targets with valuable merchandise. The National Retail Federation predicts the average shopper will spend around $682 on family members and friends. Maple Morgan, 34, has a holiday list and a budget. “I plan to spend about $500 this year,” says Morgan. Morgan also has a plan to ensure her gifts safely make it from the mall to her home. “I usually shop with a group of friends because it’s a lot of fun and it also protects you from being robbed,” says Morgan. Her holiday precaution is in-line with a list of safety measures police suggest everyone considers, as they are out and about buying presents.

Just as you scour retail stores, strip malls and outlets looking for a great sale, criminals think the same way. “If you exit a store with a bunch of bags in your hand and you are trying to search for keys and talking on a cell phone, what you’re giving a criminal an invitation,” says Moses. Another way to ward off robbers is to not toss shopping bags on the backseat of your vehicle and make multiple trips to stores. “Lock those gifts up in you trunk,” says Moses. “We have a lot of problems with people getting their cars broken into because they leave valuables exposed,” he adds.

Like many shoppers, Morgan may find herself alone as she narrows down her holiday to-do list. For that she has a plan too. “If I’m alone, I usually ask a mall security officer to escort me to my car,” says Morgan. “I’m more cautious about being safe around the holiday season because I think that’s when criminals are out looking to take whatever they can because they know you have money and gifts.”
“I usually shop with a group of people for two reasons. I have a lot of fun with friends and it also adds an extra layer of protection,” says Morgan.

All of the shopping safety tips seem simple and self-explanatory but with all of the distractions, holiday cheer and energy that consume millions around this time of year, the basics are easy to forget. In many cases, as with the recent carjacking in the nation’s capitol, losing sight of being safe can quickly become costly.

Please forward all comments about this story to Maniko Barthelemy at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Tis the Season to be Careful

Coming up Monday, find out how you can avoid being an easy target for robbers this holiday season.