Going Green: Solar-powered and Electric Vehicles

 

If your idea of "green" transportation is a pokey little hybrid, good for the environment and cute enough, but not with real zip and pizazz, think again. And look to solar-power and electric to add some new, peppy players to the transportation game.

For instance, for purely fun zipping around town, how'd you like a solar-powered motorbike? While it's not available yet, SunRed is working on a prototype. It won't be directly solar-powered, but will sun recharge the batteries when it's parked by way of fold-out panels. Park it in the sun, fold out the panels, and go about your business. When you come back, fold down the panels and be on your way. SunRed expects the bike to have a range of about 13 miles and hit a speed of about 30 miles, perfect for urban adventures and short commutes.

But if you're in the market for something really cool and something you can order right now and have in your possession by spring 2008, Brammo has your answer: The Enertia electric motorcycle! This sleek, efficient bike has top speeds of 45-50 miles an hour and a recharge time of 3 hours. Brammo claims that it can reduce the average commuter's carbon emissions by 92%.
The Enertia can go 50 miles without recharging. While at first it looks odd with no fuel tank, it's a real attention-grabber with it's simple, lean, uncluttered design.

What does the Enertia feel like when you ride it? According to a recent report on the MSN website, it is extremely thin and light, is almost silent, and is absolutely effortless. It starts smoothly and is a breeze to drive in traffic. Because it needs no oil or fuel, it is also odorless. Fun, eco-friendly, and easy..the Enertia is worth looking forward to. It might not be the vehicle for cross-country trips, but for day trips, it looks like a winner.

So that takes care of the motorbikes and motorcycles, but you still need a car. And you don't want just any car, you've got money to burn and you want a sportscar! There's no way you can have speed and power and beauty and also be concerned about your impact on the earth, right? You just have to go for it and carbon be damned, right?

Not quite. Take a look at the Tesla Roadster. Heartstoppingly gorgeous(it was designed by Lotus,) this completely electric beauty gets 130 MPH and can go from 0-30 in around 4 seconds. While it takes 3 1/2 hours to charge, one charge will take you 250 miles, much further than a tank of gas in a comparable traditional sports car. And the cost for that travel will be about one cents a mile. Of course, it's a sportscar and a work of art, so it's not going to be cheap. Treehugger reports that it will probably cost about $80,000 or more. But, it's a guarantee that your car will be the topic of conversation everywhere you go, and you'll be able to feel righteous about it, too. The Roadster will be available early in 2008.

Of course, if you're not in the market for that kind of showmanship and you just want practical, reliable, non-gas-guzzling transportation, Chevy and Nissan have announced in recent months that they are planning electric cars intended for commuters, at least by 2010.

So, save up your pennies. In the coming years, the "going" part of "going" green is going to get easier and a whole lot more fun.

Cigar, Pleasantly Perfect in Dubai: Two USA Horses Won Titles in Breeders' Cup Classic and in World Cup

 

The brilliant Cigar and the perfectly pleasant Pleasantly Perfect are the only two horses who have excelled in the American sponsored Breeders' Cup Classic, then traveled half way around the world five months later to score in the richest Thoroughbred race in the world, the Dubai Classic in the World Cup race festival held in the UAE (United Arab Emirates).

Both prestigious races feature world competition for three-year-olds and up.

Cigar, the Streaker

In 1995, Cigar was in his second year of invincibility and on his way to winning 16 consecutive races under the skillful hands of Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. Only one other horse before Cigar had won 16 straight contests. His name was Citation.

Cigar beat out the Breeders' Cup Classic competition in 1995 on a muddy track in the fastest time (1:59.58) ever recorded to that point. Five months later, in the spring of 1996, he went to Dubai and scored over Californian Soul of the Matter to win the inaugural World Cup Classic.

Pleasantly Perfect turned the same trick in 2003 and 2004, winning the Breeders' Cup Classic over rival Medaglia d'Oro, then turning back the same competitor in a stirring finish in the Dubai Classic.

Who Is Almutawakel?

American Thoroughbreds have done well in Dubai, bringing home five Classic championships. The biggest upset winner over an American favorite was 1999's Almutawakel.

America's Kentucky Derby winner in 1997, Silver Charm, finished second in that year's Breeders' Cup Classic, where Swain, an Irish-bred, placed third. In Dubai's 1998 Classic, Silver Charm claimed the title over Swain. Silver Charm returned to Dubai in 1999 to try to achieve back-to-back titles in the World Cup, a feat which would have assured him a place alone in American Thoroughbred history. His chief rival in the '99 Dubai field was Epsom Derby champion High-Rise. It marked the first time that a Kentucky Derby winner and an Epsom Derby victor squared off for a title.

In the way of the epic battle was a fellow named Almutawakel. A huge longshot, Al was a Godolphin Racing entry, and he came home with the bacon to even up the world scoreboard at two wins each for the USA and the UAE.

The Competition Heats Up

 

Dubai Millennium, son of the USA's Seeking the Gold, delivered for Godolphin in 2000.

In 2001, Captain Steve carried the red, white, and blue into the contest and was given favorite status. He had finished third in the previous fall's Breeders' Cup to the great Tiznow. In Dubai, he came in with his game face on, and the scoreboard was even up again at day's end — USA, 3; UAE, 3.

Ironically, the following year, Jerry Bailey rode Godolphin's Irish-bred Street Cry to the Classic title. Street Cry soundly beat his own favored stablemate, Sakhee. Either way, it was a win for Godolphin. The next year, Moon Ballad gave the UAE a 5-3 advantage.

Then came Pleasantly Perfect with his perfect stride to the wire in front by a half length. UAE, 5; USA, 4.

Roses in May came on in the stretch to put everyhoof behind him in 2005, cleanly, concisely. USA, 5; UAE, 5.

Electrocutionist regained the overall lead for Godolphin in 2006, but in 2007 a twist of fate evened the score again. Shadwell Stable, based in the USA, but owned by the brother of Godolphin Racing, fielded the nearly unbeatable Invasor. The Al Maktoum brothers brought the Thoroughbred world to a 6-6 tie as Invasor took center stage.

On March 29th, the tie will be broken. Will 2007 American Horse of the Year Curlin prevail? Or will Godolphin Racing beat him to the line?

Add a '60s Groove to Your Next Event: Spark the Evening with an Early Rock-and-Roll Twist

 

Got a flair for the old times? Enjoy the idea of rocking and rolling with company at an all-American diner? Well, the magic of the '60s era stays on after all these decades. It’s even more vibrant with musicals like Hairspray and crossover fashion trends captivating today’s young generation. Keep the retro spirit alive by infusing an oldies vibe at your next get-together with friends.

Party Like the '60s

An evening at Johnny Rockets would be a marvelous start. Tasty sandwiches and chicken wings with your choice of sauce are among the list of specialties on the menu. Take turns choosing songs on the mini jukebox on the side of the table with your friends. Feel free to sing along with the light tunes until dinner is served.

Want to experience watching a movie at a drive-in? There are places and festivals in every town that play out-door films. Checking your local listings can help you find them. If everyone is in a competitive mood, the bowling center may be a dream destination.

Is there an oldies-themed event going on at a venue nearby? If so, get ready to jive together with costumes from that era. Setting up a house party can make a great alternative. You have the freedom to decorate the place your way. It’ll be more personalized. After all, nothing beats the unforgettable taste of a homemade milkshake.

A Little Musical Inspiration

These songs are some of the yesteryear hits you can play to get everyone in the mood fast and easy:

  • The Twist – Chubby Checker
  • Blue Moon – The Marcels
  • It’s My Party – Lesley Gore
  • Baby Love – The Supremes
  • These Boots are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra
  • I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – The Four Tops
  • Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
  • Travelin’ Man – Ricky Nelson
  • Moody River – Pat Boone
  • Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
  • I Feel Fine – The Beatles
  • Peppermint Twist – Joey Dee and the Starliters
  • Stuck on You – Elvis Presley
  • Happy Together – The Turtles
  • My Boyfriend’s Back – The Shirelles
  • Sugar Shack – Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs
  • Bend Me Shape Me – Amen Corner
  • DownTown – Petula Clark
  • Hey! Baby – Bruce Channel
  • Surf City – Jan and Dean

Mix the Old with the New

If you also crave music from this era, a mix-and-match can work. Blend the old with the contemporary by listening to these tunes that very much cater to the new generation but still fit in with the old style vibe:

  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl? – Jet
  • Rock and Roll – Eric Hutchinson
  • Mercy – Duffy
  • Honey – The Hush Sound
  • Radio Radio – Brooke White
  • The Sweet Escape – Gwen Stefani
  • Rich Girls – The Virgins
  • Baby, Baby, Baby – Joss Stone

These are just ideas to get things started. There are more song options you and the group can explore.

For more inspiration, various old magazines, music videos, movies, TV shows, photography books and record shops make excellent resources. It’s about time for everyone to blast to the past.

Flying Basics – Packing for Events: Weddings and special events affect how to pack for a flight.

 

This article continues the series "Flying Basics", written for first-time fliers and others who are wondering about commercial flights, even if it is not their first time flying. If you have a fear of flying, reading enough to understand what to expect may help. The series includes:

  • Flying Basics – An Overview
  • Flying Basics – Airport Security
  • Flying Basics – Booking
  • Flying Basics – Seat selection
  • Flying Basics – Packing
  • Flying Basics – Weather Info
  • Flying Basics – Weather Matters

The example used for Flying Basics is a domestic flight of about four hours, where there are no stopovers, no border crossings, and the flight is on a regularly scheduled route with one of the major airlines, not a discount or no-frills carrier.

Other articles in this series will look closely at special needs and some of the things which arise when your flight is not exactly like the basic example.

Packing for Special Events

When you travel by airplane, the size and weight of your luggage are limited by the terms of your ticket. You can find out from the airline, usually on their website, what the limits are. On discount airlines and some charter flights the limits may be less than on regular carriers' flights. Sometimes there are money penalties for going over the limit, and sometimes you may simply be refused your request to take excess baggage.

Packing for a Destination Wedding or Formal Event

When you travel to a formal event, like a wedding, your wardrobe will probably have two components: everything you need for the event, and everything you need for the rest of your holiday. Your baggage limit doesn't change, though!

For wedding dresses and other formal wear, on the trip to the wedding, you want to keep the clothes as fresh and safe as possible. It helps if you can:

  • keep the garment in a garment bag, securely sealed against any moisture or dust
  • hang the garment up at every possible point in your journey
  • treat the garment as carry-on luggage and hang it up on board the plane

OR

  • pack the garment in a rigid container, with a minimum of folds, and check it as special handling baggage

OR

  • buy a ticket for a seat for your dress and keep it beside you for the journey (Delta Airlines explains that you can buy a seat for your fragile items, for example)

AND

  • allow time at your destination to have the garment spot-cleaned, steamed, or repaired if necessary
  • send the garmet to the cleaner and have it repacked immediately after the event.

It is not always possible to guarantee that there will be space to hang the garment up on board the aircraft. Some planes have closets, but the space in these is usually on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are travelling as a wedding party of eight people, there may not be room for all eight outfits.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The steps to try are:

  • talk directly to the airline when you make the reservation, and find out what exactly they recommend. The services available vary between airlines and according to what aircraft you are flying on.
  • find out from the dressmaker, tailor, and other references, how to best protect and pack your garment in transit. This will depend in part upon what textiles and other materials are in your dress.
  • arrange in advance for a professional at your destination to give your garments a refreshing treatment upon arrival. If you are going to a popular wedding destination, check with the concierge of the hotel and look on-line for cleaners who specialize in formal attire. Talk to the cleaners and find out what they recommend for transportation.

One risk with checking any item is that it will be lost or delayed in transit. If you take a direct flight from A to B, the chances of this happening are less than if there are stopovers.

Labelling your luggage (whether or it is checked or carry-on) is crucial. Make sure the destination is prominent. "Jane Smith, TO: LAS VEGAS" would help. If you have a local phone number at the destination, or a cell phone number, put that on as well. This is in addition to the regular baggage tags with your address.

Special Items Do Use Up Part of Your Baggage Allowance

Remember, the terms of your ticket spell out how much luggage you can take.

In addition, some airport security have limited it further. Heathrow Airport in England currently allows only one piece of carry-on baggage, no matter what the airline might allow. Check the website for the airport you are flying from (at both ends of your journey) to determine whether this will affect your plans.

Other Special Events

For most special events, you have to figure out:

  • what you need specifically for the event
  • whether it is something you must bring with you OR
  • whether it is something you can get there.

My personal philosophy is PACK LIGHT. Even if you have to pay a little extra to get the things you need at your destination, just do it.

If you plan ahead, using the internet and the phone, you can figure out what's available where you are going. For example, champagne is sold in every liquour store, but good champagne might need to be ordered in advance. Trying to carry it cross-country in your luggage is not worth the trouble.

The same goes for gifts. Even if you are giving someone a truly unique item – especially if you are doing this – you should minimize the miles that item has to travel. Are you taking a wedding gift to the new home of the bride and groom? OK. But if they are simply going to have to pack the irreplaceable item and bring it home, it may be better to give them a beautiful card with a handwritten note telling them about the gift, and let them collect it after the honeymoon.

Review: Gurkha Warlord Cigar

 

Reviewing the Warlord cigar, a super premium smoke from Miami-Based Gurkha Cigars.

This holiday season was special for me for many reasons. I got time off to travel and visit family that I haven’t seen in a long time. I got some exceptional gifts from some exceptional people. And I got to experience a Gurkha Warlord cigar that my father-in-law offered me. The lucky guy had just received a whole chest of them as a gift.

The Gurkha Warlord Review

The Warlord is a super premium smoke by Gurkha. Gurkha was opened in 1989 in Miami, Florida, and still operates there, being led by Gurkha’s president Hansotia Kaizad.

My Warlord indicated that it was manufactured in Nicaragua on the band, but I’m told that Gurkha’s line of cigars feature tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Indonesia as well. The Warlord cigar in particular is made of Nicaraguan fillers, a Nicaraguan wrapper, and Connecticut binders.

 

Upon opening the sleeve that the cigar shipped in, the first thought that came to my mind was: bold.

Construction of the Gurkha Warlord

The quality of the construction of the Gurkha Warlord is one not typically seen in cigars today.

The cigar is a 7×55, but feels thicker and heavier than a standard 55 gauge cigar. Mine felt solidly assembled and was densely packed with tobacco – there were no noticeable weak or soft spots to indicate voids left in the rolling process.

The wrapper was smooth and tight with no noticeable veins or bumpy areas.

The Gurkha Warlord features a cloth band at the foot of the cigar with a much larger band made out of cedar right above that. The labeling band with the Gurkha crest in gold lettering with a black-with-gold “Warlord” band below finish off the package. The Gurkha Warlord is not just a cigar, it’s truly a work of art.

Smoking the Gurkha Warlord

The Gurkha Warlord is regarded as a super premium cigar and smoking the Warlord did not disappoint in that regard.

The draw was well-balanced, if not a little bit on the easy side – especially considering how tightly packed the cigar is. The ash burned white, powdery, and thick like you would expect of a cigar of this caliber.

The Warlord was robust and meaty in flavor – a hint of leather perhaps – but nothing too overpowering. As I neared the end of the cigar, I was expecting the flavor to strengthen or develop a bitterness, but I didn’t notice much of any difference. The flavor remained full and satisfying.

The worst part of the cigar was finishing it knowing that I didn’t have another one to smoke.

The Gurkha Warlord was truly a pleasure and I hope I get an opportunity to experience another one in the near future.