Ring in the New Year with our Go! Weekend Picks

Our Weekend Picks.png2012 is winding down and as we review the year in our minds, we are reminded of events both happy and sad.  There is no better time than, now, to hold closer the ones who are dearest to us. As we ring 2013, please check out our Go! Weekend Picks for events where each of us can make happy memories spending time with our family and friends.

With the Kids:

Dayton ~ Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
What: Kid’s New Year’s Eve
Want something special to do with the kids on New Year’s Eve? Celebrate at the Boonshoft Museum with an afternoon of games and fun events, contests with prizes, and plenty of hands-on activities to ring in the New Year right. The list of activities includes Make a Snack with Earthfare, Animal Talks, SpacePark 360, Dance Contests, Karaoke, Face painting, Science on a Cart and Touch Live Sea Creatures. Doesn’t that sound like fun!?!

Where:  Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
              2600 DeWeese Parkway
              Dayton, OH 45414

When:   December 31 1:00-4:00 pm.

$25.99 family 4 pack, in advance
$30.00 family 4 pack, day of the event.
$7.99 individual, in advance
$9.99 individual, day of the event
All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Reservations are highly recommended.
Online sales end Friday, December 28 at 5 p.m.

All sales are final.
Order your tickets here.

Cincinnati ~ Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
What: Happy Zoo Year
Didn’t get to see the Festival of Lights, yet? Now is your chance. The Happy Zoo Year evening is filled with plenty to entertain and delight children of all ages. Choose between the 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 PM showings of the Madcap Puppet Theatre black-light show. Meet Baby Zoo Year and Father Time. The early Zoo Year countdown at Wings of Wonder Theater starts at 8:55 p.m. Fireworks will take place at 9:00 pm.

Where:  Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
              3400 Vine Street
              Cincinnati, OH 45220

When:   December 31 5 PM- 9 PM
              However, the zoo opens at 9 am.

Pricing: The event is FREE with your zoo admission.
$15 for those ages 13-61
$10 for those 2-12 and 62+
Parking is $8.
Call 513-281-4700 for more information.

For the Grown-ups

What: Masquerade Ball: New Year’s Eve
Includes a two-room suite so you can enjoy the evening’s festivities without having to drive afterward.  Partake of cocktails, buffet dinner, and an open bar. Ring in the New Year with a Champagne toast at midnight, and a midnight breakfast. In the morning, greet the New Year with a cooked to order breakfast and enjoy a late check-out.

Where: Embassy Suites Blue Ash
             4554 Lake Forest Drive
             Blue Ash, Oh 45242

$349 per couple
Call 513-733-8900 for reservations

From all of us at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency, enjoy your New Year and may you be blessed as the 2013 year unfolds.

Our Go! Weekend Pick ~ Ice Skating and Hot Chocolate

Our Weekend Picks.pngOur Go! Weekend Pick ~ Need to get out of the house and do something active over the upcoming Christmas weekend?

Why not go ice skating? There are locations in both Dayton and Cincinnati for your frosty winter time fun.

About the size of the rink at New York’s Rockefeller center, the Fountain Square ice rink is in view of the fountain in the redesigned square. No skates of your own? Take advantage of the skate rental. 

When the skating makes you hungry, enjoy the vending machine fare in the heated tent or go to one of the restaurants (like Graeters, Ingredients, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Rock Bottom Brewery and Via Vite) within a 2 block radius of the Square.

Hours:     Rates
December 22-24 10 am – 10 pm  $3 for admission, $3 for skate rental
December 25 2 pm – 10 pm

Click here for a map.


2 options are available.

Outdoors ~
Check out RiverScape MetroPark. This 10,500 square foot rink is sheltered under a covered pavilion overlooking the river in downtown Dayton. Enjoy yummy treats from Café Velo.

Hours:     Rates
December 22 11 am – 9 pm  Admission for these dates is $7 and includes skates
December 23 1 pm – 4 pm
December 24 11 am – 5 pm
December 25 1 – 8 pm

Located at 229 East Monument Ave. Dayton, OH 45402

Indoors ~
Kettering Ice Arena is a 17,000 square foot rink located in the Kettering Recreation Complex at 2900 Glengarry Drive in Kettering. There are lockers, skate rental and concessions available.

December 22     Holiday Open Skate 1:10 pm  – 3:00 pm
                           Holiday Open Skate 8:10 pm – 10:00 pm
December 23     Holiday Open Skate 1:10 pm – 3:00 pm
December 24     Adult Skate 8 am – 10 am
                           Holiday Open Skate 12:10 – 5 pm 
December 25     Closed

Resident          Youth $3.50  Adult $4.00      Non-resident   Youth $7.00  Adult $8.00

Skate Rental Resident $2.50  Non-resident $2.50

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

5 Airport Carry-on Guidelines to Save You Time & Disappointment

The holidays find many of us traveling, sometimes by air, to visit with family or friends.  If you haven’t traveled by air recently, you need to know what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules are, so you can pack your bags, accordingly. Liquid explosives are still considered a threat and because of that the TSA limits the quantity of liquids, gels or aerosols that each passenger is allowed to bring past the security checkpoint in their carry-on luggage.

Read these guidelines, to save yourself time and avoid disappointment:

Guideline 1
Keep in mind that the liquid limitation is applicable only to carry-on bags. If you have a larger quantity of liquid, gels or aerosols that you want to pack make sure to pack them in your checked baggage.

Guideline 2
When packing your carry-on, remember 3-1-1.
 3 Refers to the fact that the bottles you bring on must be 3.4 ounces (or less)
 1 All of the bottles you bring must fit into one quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag.
 1 Each passenger is only allowed one quart-size bag.

Guideline 3
Keep in mind that the regulated liquid, gel or aerosol items do not just refer to what you would find in your personal toiletry bag. It may be surprising to know that your family-sized container of homemade cranberry sauce, or the trio of 5 ounce jars of salsas or jellies you have stashed in your carry-on aren’t going to make it past the security checkpoint.

Here is a partial list of other items to not to put in your carry-on baggage, if they are in a 3.4 ounce container or larger:
• Perfumes and lotions
• Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
• Gift baskets with food items (see other items listed for types of items)
• Gravies and sauces
• Jams and jellies
• Maple syrup
• Oil, vinegar or  salad dressing
• Salsa
• Snow globes
• Soups
• Wine, liquor and beer (purchased before the security checkpoint)

Guideline 4
The Exceptions:
Larger quantities of breast milk or baby formula or liquids necessary for medical reasons are permitted. However, they must be shown to the TSA officer for closer inspection.

Pies and cakes are allowed through the security checkpoint, but be warned that they are likely to be put through extra screening.

Guideline 5
Wrapped gifts are allowed but may slow your progress through the checkpoint. You may be required to un-wrap the gift, if the security check raises questions about the package. The TSA recommends wrapping the gifts after the flight or having them shipped to your final destination before you leave home.

Knowing the guidelines for carry-on bags will go a long way to keeping your travels in sync with the holly, jolly spirit of the season. If you wish to find out more, you can check out the TSA mobile app.

All of us here at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency are wishing you safe and happy travels.

Our Weekend Pick – Love Trains?… You’ll love this!

Our Weekend Picks.pngOur Go! Weekend Pick for this week is a double-treat at the Cincinnati Museum Center ~ ride along with the Rocky Mountain Express OMNIMAX presentation as it weaves its way through the stunning panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies and then catch the Duke Energy Holiday Train Exhibit at Holiday Junction.

The Rocky Mountain Express film features gorgeous present-day OMNIMAX® aerial views interwoven with historic photographs and maps of the nearly impossible to complete transcontinental railway project. Engineers and laborers from around the world came together to design and implement what has been called one of the greatest engineering feats of all time.

Make a day of it and visit the Duke Energy Holiday Trains either before or after watching the Rocky Mountain Express film. You’ll be in good company. Over nine million people have enjoyed viewing the Holiday Trains since 1946 when Duke Energy partnered with the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad to create this much loved holiday display.

Throughout the years the display has continued to grow. Currently, more than 300 miniature rail cars and 60 engines run along 1,000 feet of track. The train display has been created on an “O” gauge where a quarter inch is equal to one foot on a real train and the rail cars, tracks and building are 1/48th of actual size. In 2011, the entire 36 ½  by 47 ½ feet long display was gifted by Duke Energy to the Cincinnati Museum Center, thus, ensuring that the historic display will remain in the Greater Cincinnati area for all to enjoy for generations to come.

Rocky Mountain Express Show times (beginning November 2)
The film is suitable for all audiences and runs for 45 minutes.
Monday – Thursday: 2 and 4 p.m.
Friday: 2, 4 and 6 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: Noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m.
Please note: their website says that films and show times are subject to change and sell-outs. Reserve your tickets in advance or call (513) 287-7000 for the most up-to-date information.

Buy tickets.

What to Do if Your Gas Pedal Sticks

Remember the acceleration issue that plagued certain Toyota, Lexus and Pontiac vehicles from 2009-2011? Would you know what to do if it happened to you?

Normally, having a gas pedal stick does not happen often. However, it still occasionally occurs. 

As recently as August 2012, a Missouri woman was in the news for the terrifying 59 mile, 35 minute ride she endured at speeds edging on 120 mph, when the gas pedal in her Kia Sorrento became stuck.

Here is what you should do if the gas pedal in your vehicle gets stuck:
• First and foremost, stay level-headed. Remain calm and try not to panic.
• If your vehicle begins to accelerate without any assistance from you, tap on the accelerator pedal. It may just be that the throttle linkage is stuck.

If that doesn’t work…
• Car Talk experts Ray and Tom Magliozzi advise Shifting the vehicle into neutral.
• Then, steer the vehicle to a safe place out of the flow of traffic.
• As you are attempting to stop the vehicle, do not turn off the ignition if your automobile has power steering or a locking steering wheel.  Turning off the ignition will not only shut off the engine, but also the power to those functions of your vehicle and that will compromise your ability to maneuver.
• As you are getting to the safe spot, push the brake firmly with both feet. Resist the urge to pump the brake. Doing so could interfere with the vehicle’s power brake vacuum assist system.
• Once the vehicle has come to a controlled stop out of the line of traffic, turn off the engine.
• If your vehicle starts with an on/off button, hold the button down for at least 3 seconds to turn off the vehicle.
• Call 911.
• Have the car towed to a mechanic to have it thoroughly checked and serviced, before you drive it again.

As always, stay safe!

Your Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Team

Keep Your Holiday Decorations from Causing a Home Fire

bigstock-Beautiful-Christmas-lights-dis-15284504 400_225.png


Instead of adding to the joy and happiness of the season, decorations that are put up without a watchful eye to safety can leave you with a sorrowful mess. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 1,170 home structure fires start each year with decorations (and that figure does not include fires that began with the tree). 


As a reminder of what you need to watch for, check out these holiday decorating safety ideas:

Before You Put Up the Lights
      Use Only the Recommended Types

  • Double check whether your lights are intended to be used indoors or outdoors and follow the suggestions of the manufacturer. Use only lights that have either the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) designation. 

      Eliminate Damaged Items

  • Before putting up the lights, examine each string looking for frayed or damaged cords or sockets. Throw away any strings that are damaged. Using them raises the risk of electrical shock and of a potential fire.
    When replacing the damaged lights, consider getting light emitting diode (LED) decorative lights. Those use 90% less energy than incandescent lights and are considered a safer alternative because they generate less heat.

Putting Up the Lights and Decorations

      Don’t hang lights on nails!

  • Stay safe. Instead of nails, make sure to use insulated holders or plastic hooks that are made especially for electrical wires.

      Extension Cords

  • As with the strings of lights, examine the cord for frays or damage before using it. Make sure to run the cord along the baseboard to avoid creating a tripping hazard. Do not run the cord under rug that will be walked upon. The friction generated could fray the cord and cause a fire. When using a cord outside, try to elevate extension cords to keep them away from animals.

      Don’t Overload Your Plug

  • Use one long extension cord, rather than 2 or more short ones plugged into each other. When stringing miniature lights together, a good rule of thumb is to stick to no more than 3 strands.

      Outside, Keep the Meters and Outlets in Mind

  • When placing your decorations outside, make sure that access to utility equipment, including outlets and meters is maintained. For safety sake, remember that your house number needs to remain visible. So, do not cover it up with decorations.

Once the Lights are Up

      Use Them Only When You’re Home and Awake

  • Turn off the holiday lights before you leave home and when you go to bed at night. This will not only make you safer, but it is more energy efficient. Set a light timer, if you are afraid you will forget.

Christmas lights are a favorite way of many to enjoy the season. Follow these tips to be safe with your holiday decorations and continue to bring light, joy and sparkle to your holiday.

Seasons Greetings from Your Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Team!

Our Weekend Pick is a Mystery

Our Weekend Picks.pngNothing gets your mind off of the hustle and bustle of the season than unraveling a good mystery. Our Pick of the week is the unique dining experience of Mystery and Mayhem Interactive Dinner fun at the Dayton Spaghetti Warehouse.

Not only do you get to enjoy a wonderful meal, but you also become a part of the show and get to play detective to solve the crime of the evening. Prizes are awarded each night for the top three most correct answers. All of the scripts are originals written by Jerry & Tamara Francis.

For the month of December, the mystery show revolves around the hilarious antics of the Glad Tidings Players who perform a Christmas Pageant every year. Problems taint this year’s production. Will the show go on or will this Christmas be less than merry?

The mystery for January through March next year spins around a dance competition that gets into full swing as the show unfolds. Pat Sways and his partner love to dance and have an enthusiastic following of supporters. Not everyone is on their side though! Charles Stun the emcee, judge and dance teacher is on the look-out for an opportunity to eliminate them. Will he succeed? Maybe… maybe not. You’ll have to join in the mystery to find out.

For $25.95 (not including tax and gratuity) you can be a detective for an evening.  Click here for information on reservations and date availability.

Are Your Passwords Leaving You Vulnerable to Being Hacked?

bigstock-Log-in-internet-connection-wit-14255558 300_198.pngImagine these scenarios. Worse case…you sit down to do some work on your computer and all of your files are gone…vanished into the ether land.  Or, imagine the annoying and somewhat scary situation of going onto Facebook or Twitter and noticing that someone has been posting as you and what they have written makes no sense or is downright mean.

You’ve been hacked!!! Doesn’t just the thought of it, strike dread in your gut? If you are like this writer, isn’t your first thought… if they have hacked this, what other parts of my life have they hacked?

Now, is the time to protect yourself.

The first step is to ensure that you have implemented strong password strategies, which can make it harder for a hacker to wreak havoc with your banking, email accounts, Facebook, Twitter and online shopping accounts.

The foundation of your strong password strategies is knowing how to create a good one, in the first place.

Let’s begin by showing you examples of what not to do:

Do not use any information that is related to you, that could be easy to find online or retrieved by an unscrupulous hacker posing as you, such as:

  • Your name or a family member’s name,
  • Your date of birth or the birthday of anyone in your immediate family
  • Your anniversary
  • Your house number, zip code or phone number
  • The last four digits of your social security number or credit card number

Do not use any combination that is too simple (The passwords listed here all made it onto the list of top 25 worst passwords for 2012 as compiled by SplashData.)

  • 123456, 123123, 123456789 (or any other similar combination.)
  • password or password1
  • iloveyou
  • abc123
  • monkey
  • qwerty
  • welcome
  • shadow
  • mustang
  • jesus
  • ashley
  • michael
  • shadow
  • letmein

So, what password strategies will create a solid foundation for your online security?

  • Have a unique password for each of your accounts. However, do not make them unique but similar, for instance do not use appletree1, appletree2. A hacker can easily figure out one password and use it like a stepping stone to break into all of your other accounts.
  • Do not keep your logins and passwords in a Word Document or Excel file on your computer. If your computer is stolen, think of the heyday someone will have with all of your user names and passwords handed to them on a silver platter.
  • On Outlook, set up a reminder to yourself to change your passwords on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
  • When creating a password make it at least 8 characters long. The more characters you have the less likely it will be guessed.
  • When creating a new password, use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Add in a capital letter or two in the middle of your password.
  • Instead of trying to remember some odd combination of letters, you could create a password- phrase. For example, take the sentence, “my favorite book is Where the Red Fern Grows”. Make a password out of that by taking the first letter of each word and then adding symbols and numbers, so that it ends up looking like #mfbiWtRFG@3.
  • Follow the weak/strong indicator that usually shows up when you are creating a password online. They are trying to help you. The stronger your password, the tougher you make it on the potential hacker.

Your digital life is in your hands. Start building a solid foundation to your online security fortress by taking heed of these strong password strategies.