Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New NASCAR backpacks. CHECK them out

Boasting a CLEAR design that allows all your belongings to be seen easily.
Clear backpack from Olivet® featuring Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ideal for schools that only allow clear backpacks.  They also aid in getting through security checkpoints
Each backpack includes a spacious main compartment, a zippered front pocket, and two side pockets.

The driver's number and facsimile signature on the front.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving: Traveling Abroad

A Safe Trip Abroad

When you travel abroad, the odds are you will have a safe and incident-free trip. Travelers can, however, become victims of crime and violence, or experience unexpected difficulties. No one is better able to tell you this than the U.S. consular officers who work in more than 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. Every day of the year, U.S. embassies and consulates receive calls from American citizens in distress.

Happily, most problems can be solved over the phone or with a visit to the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. There are other occasions, however, when U.S. consular officers are called upon to help U.S. citizens who are in foreign hospitals or prisons, or to assist the families of U.S. citizens who have passed away overseas.

We have prepared the following travel tips to help you avoid serious difficulties during your time abroad. We wish you a safe and wonderful journey!

Before You Go

What to Take

Safety begins when you pack. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress in a way that could mark you as an affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry, for instance, can draw the wrong attention.

Always try to travel light. You can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.

Carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to put them each in a different place rather than all in one wallet or pouch. Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing.

If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Pack them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.

To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country before you travel.

Bring travelers’ checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.

Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.

 Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality. If possible, lock your luggage.

What to Leave Behind

Don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:

Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry

Irreplaceable family objects

All unnecessary credit cards

Your Social Security card, library card, and similar items you may routinely carry in your wallet.

Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.

Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver's license and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends at home; pack the other in a place separate from where you carry the originals.

Leave a copy of the serial numbers of your travelers' checks with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy with you in a separate place and, as you cash the checks, cross them off the list.

What to Learn About Before You Go

Local Laws and Customs

When you leave the United States, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. Good resources are your library, your travel agent, and the embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will visit. In addition, keep track of what is being reported in the media about recent developments in those countries.

Things to Arrange Before You Go

Your Itinerary

As much as possible, plan to stay in larger hotels that have more elaborate security. Safety experts recommend booking a room from the second to seventh floors above ground level – high enough to deter easy entry from outside, but low enough for fire equipment to reach.

When there is a choice of airport or airline, ask your travel agent about comparative safety records.

Legal Documents

Have your affairs in order at home. If you leave a current will, insurance documents, and power of attorney with your family or a friend, you can feel secure about traveling and will be prepared for any emergency that may arise while you are away. If you have minor children, consider making guardianship arrangements for them.

Register your travel

It is a good idea to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program --think of it as checking in-- so that you may be contacted if need be, whether because of a family emergency in the U.S., or because of a crisis in the area in which you are traveling. It is a free service provided by the State Department, and is easily accomplished online at https://travelregistration.state.gov. (In accordance with the Privacy Act, the Department of State may not release information on your welfare or whereabouts to inquirers without your express written authorization.)

Make a note of the credit limit on each credit card that you bring, and avoid charging over that limit while traveling. Americans have been arrested for innocently exceeding their credit limit. Ask your credit card company how to report the loss of your card from abroad. 1-800 numbers do not work from abroad, but your company should have a number that you can call while you are overseas.

Find out if your personal property insurance covers you for loss or theft abroad. Also, check on whether your health insurance covers you abroad. Medicare and Medicaid do not provide payment for medical care outside the United States. Even if your health insurance will reimburse you for medical care that you pay for abroad, health insurance usually does not pay for medical evacuation from a remote area or from a country where medical facilities are inadequate. Consider purchasing a policy designed for travelers, and covering short-term health and emergency assistance, as well as medical evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness.

Precautions to Take While Traveling

Safety on the Street

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in (or avoid) areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.

Try not to travel alone at night.

Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.

Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.

Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.

Avoid scam artists by being wary of strangers who approach you and offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices.

Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will:

jostle you,

ask you for directions or the time,

point to something spilled on your clothing,

or distract you by creating a disturbance.

Beware of groups of vagrant children who could create a distraction to pick your pocket.

Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.

Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from individuals in authority.

Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand.

Learn a few phrases in the local language or have them handy in written form so that you can signal your need for police or medical help.

Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

If you are confronted, don't fight back -- give up your valuables.

Safety in Your Hotel

Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.

Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.

If you are out late at night, let someone know when you expect to return.

If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.

Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. (Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.)

Safety on Public Transportation

If a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on public transport, that information is mentioned in each country’s Country Specific Information in the section about crime.


Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.


Well-organized, systematic robbery of passengers on trains along popular tourist routes is a problem. It is more common at night and especially on overnight trains.

If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform or station.

Do not accept food or drink from strangers. Criminals have been known to drug food or drink offered to passengers. Criminals may also spray sleeping gas in train compartments. Where possible, lock your compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, take turns sleeping in shifts with your traveling companions. If that is not possible, stay awake. If you must sleep unprotected, tie down your luggage and secure your valuables to the extent possible.

Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way. Extra police are often assigned to ride trains on routes where crime is a serious problem.


The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on public buses on popular tourist routes. For example, tourists have been drugged and robbed while sleeping on buses or in bus stations. In some countries, whole busloads of passengers have been held up and robbed by gangs of bandits.

Safety When You Drive

When you rent a car, choose a type that is commonly available locally. Where possible, ask that markings that identify it as a rental car be removed. Make certain it is in good repair. If available, choose a car with universal door locks and power windows, features that give the driver better control of access. An air conditioner, when available, is also a safety feature, allowing you to drive with windows closed. Thieves can and do snatch purses through open windows of moving cars. Keep car doors locked at all times. Wear seat belts.

As much as possible, avoid driving at night.

Don't leave valuables in the car. If you must carry things with you, keep them out of sight locked in the trunk, and then take them with you when you leave the car.

Don't park your car on the street overnight. If the hotel or municipality does not have a parking garage or other secure area, select a well-lit area.

Never pick up hitchhikers.

Don't get out of the car if there are suspicious looking individuals nearby. Drive away.

Patterns of Crime Against Motorists

In many places frequented by tourists, including areas of southern Europe, victimization of motorists has been refined to an art. Where it is a problem, U.S. embassies are aware of it and consular officers try to work with local authorities to warn the public about the dangers. In some locations, these efforts at public awareness have paid off, reducing the frequency of incidents. You may also wish to ask your rental car agency for advice on avoiding robbery while visiting tourist destinations.

Carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city traffic and along the highway. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car.

Criminals use ingenious ploys. They may pose as good Samaritans, offering help for tires that they claim are flat or that they have made flat. Or they may flag down a motorist, ask for assistance, and then steal the rescuer's luggage or car. Usually they work in groups, one person carrying on the pretense while the others rob you.

Other criminals get your attention with abuse, either trying to drive you off the road, or causing an "accident" by rear-ending you.

In some urban areas, thieves don't waste time on ploys, they simply smash car windows at traffic lights, grab your valuables or your car and get away. In cities around the world, "defensive driving" has come to mean more than avoiding auto accidents; it means keeping an eye out for potentially criminal pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders.

How to Handle Money Safely

To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change your travelers’ checks only as you need currency. Countersign travelers’ checks only in front of the person who will cash them.

Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.

Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs. Do not change money on the black market.

If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and as an explanation of what happened.

After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of:

Travelers' checks to the nearest agent of the issuing company

Credit cards to the issuing company

Airline tickets to the airline or travel agent

Passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate

How to Avoid Legal Difficulties

When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws and are under its jurisdiction. You can be arrested overseas for actions that may be either legal or considered minor infractions in the United States. Familiarize yourself with legal expectations in the countries you will visit. The Country Specific Information pages include information on unusual patterns of arrests in particular countries, as appropriate.

Drug Violations

More than one-third of U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad are held on drug charges. Some countries do not distinguish between possession and trafficking, and many have mandatory sentences – even for possession of a small amount of marijuana or cocaine. A number of Americans have been arrested for possessing prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers and amphetamines, that they purchased legally elsewhere. Other U.S. citizens have been arrested for purchasing prescription drugs abroad in quantities that local authorities suspected were for commercial use. If in doubt about foreign drug laws, ask local authorities or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Possession of Firearms

The places where U.S. citizens most often experience difficulties for illegal possession of firearms are nearby – Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Sentences for possession of firearms in Mexico can be up to 30 years. In general, firearms, even those legally registered in the U.S., cannot be brought into a country unless a permit is obtained in advance from the embassy or a consulate of that country and the firearm is registered with foreign authorities on arrival. (NOTE: There are also strict rules about bringing firearms or ammunition into the U.S; check with U.S. Customs before your trip.


In many countries you can be detained for photographing security-related institutions, such as police and military installations, government buildings, border areas and transportation facilities. If you are in doubt, ask permission before taking photographs.
Purchasing Antiques

Americans have been arrested for purchasing souvenirs that were, or looked like, antiques and that local customs authorities believed were national treasures. This is especially true in Turkey, Egypt and Mexico. Familiarize yourself with any local regulations of antiques. In countries with strict control of antiques, document your purchases as reproductions if that is the case, or if they are authentic, secure the necessary export permit (often from the national museum). It is a good idea to inquire about exporting these items before you purchase them.

courtesy: Travel.State.Gov

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TSA Guidance for Passengers for International Flights to the U.S.

TSA Guidance for Passengers on New Security Measures for International Flights to the U.S.

For Travelers

Q. What changes can the traveling public expect? What can passengers traveling on flights to the U.S. from international destinations expect?
A. On any given day, passengers traveling on flights to the U.S. from international destinations may notice enhanced, random security measures throughout the passenger check-in and boarding process. Aviation security is a shared responsibility and countries around the world are working together to increase the safety of air travel. Passengers traveling on flights to the U.S. from international last point of departure destinations are likely to notice enhanced measures including the increased use of the technology and processes such as explosives trace detection, canine teams, advanced imaging technology, and behavior detection among other measures.

For security reasons, the specific details of the directives are not public.

Q. Which countries are affected by the new directives?A. The security measures apply to all passengers on international flights flying directly to the U.S. worldwide.

Q. Do passengers need to do anything differently to prepare for checkpoint security procedures? Has anything changed in terms of what passengers can bring in their carry-on or checked bags?
A. At this time, security checkpoint requirements for passengers departing U.S. airports remain the same. Passengers do not need to do anything differently but they may notice enhanced security measures at international airports.

Q. Should passengers plan to arrive at airports earlier than normal?
A. Passengers may want to allow additional time to get through security on U.S. bound international flights. These times may vary by airport - check in with your airport or carrier.

Q. How long will the measures remain in place?
A. These measures are designed to be sustainable. TSA will continuously review these measures to ensure the highest levels of security.

Q. Is the list of 14 countries of concern still in use?
A. These measures supersede the list of countries of concern put in place as an emergency measure on January 3. The enhanced security measures that are going into effect are tailored to intelligence about potential threats and are focused on all passengers from all countries. They are part of a dynamic, threat based process covering all passengers traveling to the United States while focusing security measures in a more effective and efficient manner to ensure the safety and security of all those traveling by air to the U.S.

Q. How does this change the posture of the current system?
A. It’s a strengthening of the system. These new, more flexible security protocols are tailored to reflect the most current information available to U.S. authorities and are based on real-time, threat-based intelligence that will now be applied to all passengers traveling to the United States.

Q. What can passengers expect to see at airports?
A. Passengers traveling to the U.S. from international destinations may notice enhanced security and screening measures throughout the passenger check-in and boarding process which could include explosives trace detection, use of advanced imaging technology, canine teams or pat downs, among other security measures to keep air travel safe.

Q. Are you working with the international community to encourage the use of enhanced screening technology?
A. The terrorist threat to global aviation is a shared challenge and ensuring aviation security is a shared responsibility. TSA works closely with international partners to share best practices for security checkpoints, air cargo screening, employee security procedures, checked baggage screening, behavior detection and explosive detection technology. A number of nations, including Australia, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom, have followed the U.S. lead to enhance aviation security by accelerating testing and deployment of advanced imaging technologies at their largest airports, and are strengthening behavior detection, explosive detection and information sharing capabilities.

Q. If a passenger does not wish to be screened using advanced imaging technology, do they have options?
A. This technology is optional to passengers in the U.S. Passengers who opt out of imaging technology screening will go through alternative screening, including same-gender pat downs. Passengers flying to the U.S. from international destinations should check with the country from which they are flying regarding that nation’s policies. For more information on use of advanced imaging technology in the U.S., visit http://www.tsa.gov/.

Q. What if a country does not have the latest technology such as explosives trace detection or advanced imaging technology?
A. Passengers traveling internationally to the U.S. on last point of departure flights will be screened using other enhanced measures that could include a pat down and bag search among other measures.

Q. Will the majority of passengers still receive enhanced screening?
A. To more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats, the new security directive utilizes multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, and all passengers may be subject to enhanced screening.

courtesy of:  http://www.tsa.gov/

Friday, November 12, 2010

Travel Alert; U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Europe

Travel Alert


Bureau of Consular Affairs


The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from elsewhere in the world.

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country-Specific Information as well as the Worldwide Caution, which can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For further information on safety tips while traveling abroad, U.S. citizens should also consult the following website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html

This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2011.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Allstate's Teen Driver Pledge, Not to Text and Drive

Join Allstate's Teen Driver Pledge

Teens and Families Pledging Not to Text & Drive

An epidemic is sweeping across America causing drivers everywhere to blackout. It's called Texting & Driving. Join Allstate's effort to help reduce teen deaths and other distracted driver injuries by pledging not to text and drive. Download the Allstate Family Texting Pledge now. Can it make a difference? When you text and drive...

It takes your eyes off the road on average of five seconds at a time. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of a football field - completely blind.1

It's like driving after having 4 beers.2

It makes us 23 times more likely to crash.3

It results in car crashes that kill an average of 11 teens each day.4

It's results in 330,000 distracted driving injuries every year.5

Want to learn more and become more involved? Join our Facebook page or  visit www.allstate.com/teen.pdf  to create a Parent-Teen contract - a family partnership committing to safer driving. It's Allstate's effort to help keep your teen drivers safer on the road.

1. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research, available at www.vtti.vt.edu

2. Setting Limits, Saving Lives -- The Case for .08 BAC Laws, available at www.nhtsa.dot.gov and A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver, available at http://dwiwatch.org/cell-phone-texting.php

3. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research, available at www.vtti.vt.edu

4. IIHS fatality facts 2008, available at www.iihs.org

5. National Safety Council Cell Phone fact sheet, available at www.nsc.org

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Class Rules

Class Rules

Arrive on time.

Raise your hand before speaking.

Listen to others and participate in class discussions.

Use the pencil sharpener during noninstructional time.

Stay on task.

Do your assignments.

Bring materials and have them ready.

Listen to directions.

Cooperate with your group.

Pick up after yourself.

Leave other people's materials alone.

Do not interrupt other students' learning.

Keep hands, feet and objects to yourself.

Keep your hands clean and take care of personal hygiene in the rest room during breaks.

No vandalism. Don't write or carve on your desk or school property.

Treat computers with care.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Renew Passport


Your Most Recent U.S. Passport:

Is undamaged and can be submitted with your application

Was issued when you were age 16 or older

Was issued within the last 15 years

Was issued in your current name or you can legally document your name change

If the above statements do not apply to you, you must Apply in Person .

A Note on the U.S. Passport Card:

If you are a previous passport book holder and you are eligible to use Form DS-82, you may apply for a passport card as a renewal by mail - even if it is your first passport card!


From Inside the United States:

To renew your U.S. Passport by mail, you must submit Form DS-82, Application for a U.S. Passport by Mail. Locate Form DS-82 and step-by-step instructions at Form DS-82: Application for a U.S. Passport by Mail.

How long will it take to process your passport application? See Application Processing Times.


If your most recent U.S. passport has been mutilated, altered or damaged, you cannot apply by mail - you must Apply in Person.

We strongly encourage you to mail your passport application and any personal documents using a traceable delivery method.

In order to protect the contents of your mailing from the elements throughout the delivery process, we strongly encourage you to mail your passport application and any personal documents using a secure means of packaging, such as a Tyvek envelope.

Passports renewed by mail in the United States may only be mailed to United States and Canadian addresses.

If you are behind in child support payments, you may not be able to get a passport (See Child Support).

From Outside the United States:

U.S. citizens residing abroad (except those living in Canada) should renew their passports at the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.

U.S. citizens residing in Canada may submit Form DS-82: Application for U.S. Passport by Mail to the address listed on the form.


You should make an appointment to be seen at a Regional Passport Agency only if:

The U.S. passport is needed in less than 2 weeks for international travel

The U.S. passport is needed within 4 weeks to obtain a foreign visa

Contact the National Passport Information Center to make an appointment or locate a Passport Agency.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Travel Alert Tropical Storm Tomas

Travel Alert


Bureau of Consular Affairs

Print Email Haiti

November 02, 2010

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens there is a high probability that Tropical Storm Tomas may bring tropical storm force winds and heavy rains to Haiti later this week. While the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has downgraded Tomas from a category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm, NHC reports Tomas could regain strength as it moves west. The NHC tracking model shows Tomas turning north toward Haiti by the end of this week; Haiti could begin to feel effects of the storm, such as powerful winds and heavy rain, by November 4. A Travel Warning issued by the U.S. Department of State on June 24, 2010 is still in effect and advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Haiti due to limited infrastructure and access to basic services. Even storms that do not reach hurricane strength have caused widespread damage and loss of life in Haiti in recent years. U.S. citizens who nevertheless plan travel to Haiti should defer travel until Tropical Storm Tomas has passed. This Travel Alert expires on November 10, 2010.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti despite the Travel Alert and Travel Warning are urged to enroll their travel itinerary through the State Department's travel registration website. The Embassy of the United States Port-au-Prince Haiti is located at Boulevard du 15 October, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti, telephone: (509) (2) 229-8000, facsimile: (509) (2) 229-8027, email: acspap@state.gov American Citizens Services Unit office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. After hours, weekend & holidays: Please call Post One (U.S. Marine Guard) at (509) (2) 229-8000. The Marine guard will connect you with the Embassy Duty Officer.

While the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services is limited, registration will enable receipt of warden messages via email. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except U.S. federal holidays.