City Lifestyle All about city living & entertainment! <![CDATA[ How to Bicycle in Chicago: A FAQ From a Former Bicycle Messenger]]>
I don't actually want to bicycle in Chicago. It's windy, cold, and the sky always looks like a harbinger of doom.


But I didn't bring my bicycle with me!

That's not an excuse. There are many bicycle share and bicycle rental programs floating around in Chicago, many of which will lend you a perfectly good bike for half a day or a day for a reasonable price. Dish out the cash, then you're free to use your bicycle any way you want! Ride in Critical Mass with your rental!

How do I deal with the cold?

Dress for it! Gloves and something to cover your ears with are both a big help. Wear nylon pants to keep the wind and any rain or snow off. Don't skimp on the socks.

Oh no, my bicycle was stolen! How?

You locked it up with a cable lock, didn't you? Yeah, they'll cut through those things like hot butter. You need a good padlock, save the cables for making sure the seats don't get stolen.

Why did you just smash that car's rearview?

What, did you miss the part where he cut me off, braked right in front of me, then sent a whole red light screaming at me and honking his horn despite the fact that he couldn't actually go anywhere at the time? Or the fact that he went around the block to tailgate me, or that he drove the wrong way up a one-way street? Well, rearview-smashing is our way of getting even. Motorists don't care if they kill anyone, but hit them in the wallet, and they'll think harder next time. Maybe. Hopefully. They're motorists, so you can never be sure.

Where is the best place to begin a good bike ride in Chicago?

You'll want to get on the Lake Shore Trail somewhere around the Shedd Aquarium or Soldier Field. Head north from there. When you get up to about Grand Avenue, head west until you get to Milwaukee Avenue, then ride up Milwaukee. That's a nice way to begin. Or if you're setting out on the last Friday of the month, go to Daley Plaza at 5 PM and ride in Critical Mass.

What about my plans to see the Magnificent Mile and Willis Tow-ow! OW! Why did you just stab me?!

So, are you really visiting Chicago just to see the national retail chains? Tourists visit the Mag Mile, and the drivers there all want you dead. You're insane to try cycling up the Mag Mile. The cars swerve in every last direction without warning. And the Sears Tower is the tallest building in the city, and you can see it easily enough from the Lake Shore Trail. And I stabbed you because it's called the Sears Tower, not Willis Tower, no matter what the popular news and travel outlets and insurances companies try to cram down your throat! You want to throw away money, do it in the small, local, and, you know, unique boutiques and quirky places along the Milwaukee strip in Bucktown. Or for god's sake, at least Clark Street if your tastes are really that mainstream.

Is there a good place to get a Chicago-style hot dog on the way? And… Crap, I can never remember all the proper ingredients!

Dogs in this city are a dime a dozen. Surely you can find them easily enough along Milwaukee, or back down Clark, where I'm also going to send you. And don't worry about remembering what's on top of one. The guys making the dog will remember, which makes them a step up from any of the people who don't work for hot dog joints. No one remembers all the toppings on a Chicago dog. If you're getting a dog and can't remember what the topping are, just use ketchup. I don't care what those ridiculous cultists who are all opposed to ketchup on hot dogs say. Frankly, I can't stand mustard, and among those cultists you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who actually has celery salt in their pantry. Don't worry about the Chicago dogs. Worry about a proper Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

So, back to Milwaukee, where do I go after going up that street?

You're free to hang east at Belmont, but if you want to see some of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city, wait until Lawrence. No matter which one you choose, you're heading back to Clark.

Oh god, there are hipsters in Bucktown!

Yep. They may be annoying, but look at the bright side: They're not trying to kill you.

What's so special about this route, anyway?

Good, wide bicycle zones, considerate drivers, and good asphalt. Be picky about your favorite streets because some look like they've been through a war. Parts of Lake Street were capable of ripping the treads off a Sherman when I was living here. On the subject, LaSalle is also highly reccomended. Franklin used to be really awesome until they made it two-way. Now it's merely awesome. Damen is a wonderful ride as well. On the South Side, be sure to visit Bridgeport and Bronzeville.

What about Hyde Park? That's President Obama's neighborhood!

Yes, I've had that Obama factoid drilled into my head. No, I don't know where his house is. Anyway, what are you, rich? Go to some real neighborhoods. Live a little.

Hey, it's Wrigley Field!

You don't need to be at Wrigley Field to experience the ambience of a Cubs game. Go see a White Sox game. Watch actual baseball.

Wow, this is a big city! I'm starting to hurt!

It happens.

Why are you stopping at this bar?

I need a drink.

What, now?

Hey, you said you wanted to bike like a Chicagoan. Drinking before, after, and during a good bicycle ride is a proud Chicago tradition! If you're in Critical Mass, it's practically required!

What's this Critical Mass thing you keep talking about?

A giant bicycle ride on the last Friday of every month where cyclists dress up in their peacock best and join together for a long bicycle ride! In good months, there are usually several hundred participants. Great way to see cycling as a subculture!

Who are those nutcases with the bags who keep zooming around The Loop?

Bike Messengers. Don't mind them. They have work to do. Good folks. I did that myself for awhile.

Christ, didn't you ever get hurt?

Thousands of times! Several doors, several cars, angry pedestrians, and the times when I was just carrying something big and lost my balance. That movie Premium Rush is more accurate than you would ever believe.

How long did it take to recover from all those accidents?

In the most severe cases, a day. That's how long it took me to get back to work. I couldn't go to the hospital most of the time.

What are you, crazy?

That's what everyone keeps telling me.]]> Sun, 8 Feb 2015 23:42:31 +0000
<![CDATA[ Thank you, world.]]> Four words: I LOVE VIDEO GAMES!!!!! I thank you, world for having video games in our lives, because that is the greatest invention ever. I hope you all reading this feel the same and agree with me. :)

]]> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 22:58:35 +0000
<![CDATA[Singapore Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 15:32:47 +0000 <![CDATA[Charmed Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2012 16:36:04 +0000 <![CDATA[ Epic Sound!]]>
Having been wanting a pair for a while, I was expecting brilliant sound and man was I blown away. I put on a track from the Transformers Score to test the bass and I actually teared up. Hearing the music in this new way was astonishing. With the Solo Beats, you don't miss anything; it's like listening to truly loss-less audio.  Not to mention the bass which quite literarily rocks the headphones.  The noise cancellation feature the Beats have is also fantastic; if you're listening to a track and have these on, you really can't hear any outside noise.  If you are in a high traffic area, you might hear some big cars go by, but other than that, the feature is fantastic.  I'm looking forward to testing these out on a plane because that is where the true test is.  I have purchased "noise cancellation" headphones before, but they have really never gotten the job done when on board a plane.

Despite the fact that these are on the larger side, the Solo Beats HD are actually quite light, making them more portable than some of the other larger headphones on the market right now.  Being able to fold them up and put them in your pocket is perfect and if you don't want them just sitting in there, the headphones come with a pretty decent carrying case.  I did hear from a couple of people that with the older version of the Solo Beats HD, the band was snapping where they folded in.  This is no longer the case as these have been reinforced.  Again, mobility is great with these, and if you like going to the gym, they are great for working out.

These limited edition Solo Beats HD are exclusively sold from Apple for $199.99.  I highly recommend them for any music lover who doesn't want to miss a beat of music.  5/5]]> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 23:57:04 +0000
<![CDATA[Grand Designs Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
To watch the shows, head to

]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 03:41:36 +0000
<![CDATA[Friends (TV show) Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Fri, 4 Nov 2011 19:23:42 +0000 <![CDATA[ Real Good Cutting Board and Great When You're in a Hurry With Limited Cooking Space....]]>
Leifheit 3086 Vario Board Cutting Board

                 Leifheit 3086 Vario Board Cutting Board

Let’s begin with the cutting base. It is elevated by over an inch over your table and is supported by non-slip legs that gives it stability. The base is pretty sturdy and you can use the corners to pound garlic or meat for added resistance. I pounded some garlic and hit the beef with a tenderizer at the corners and the base held up and stayed in place. The base board also has a juice groove; this means veggie juices and meat blood would stay on the cutting board before you need to rinse it. Saves me my marble kitchen top and I don‘t mind using it on my table.

                Leifheit 3086 Vario Board Cutting Board

The sheets are pretty smooth and it felt that it aids in the cutting of meat. One thing I did notice that, the harder you cut (beef) it seems like your cuts would leave an impression. They look like minor dents, but I have to say it looked exactly the same as when you cut on a solid plastic board or a wooden one. The sheets are pretty flexible and malleable as carton so you can easily transfer the ingredients into a pot, skillet or pan. Now remember, I’ve only used this for two weeks so I have yet to testify how durable it really is.

There really isn’t much to say about a cutting board and I think the price of this item is worth it. I mean I can use extra kitchen and shelf space, and this board seems to adapt to my needs. Now the question now is, how does this stand up to a real wooden board? Well, I still keep my mine handy, but I think this would perform well enough under many conditions. Good product and well thought-out as a kitchen accessory.

 Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]]]> Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:23:33 +0000
<![CDATA[News of The World Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> So, the tabloid finally has scandals of its own for other news media to report about! What an ironic ending!]]> Sat, 9 Jul 2011 06:56:27 +0000 <![CDATA[ I'm Sold!]]> Yep, no joke.

Now, we haven't got time to hear about a disaster, do we? But what to do to salvage the situation other than to call the plumber and painter in, right? So, I did.

The only problem right there and then is that I've got an open house in 3 days! Miracles are in order!
Got the workers in and in the Chinese style, we got it cheap too! We are talking about labor in Canada, folks. Not Asia or China. So, that's cheap! After my constant nagging, I've nothing better to do those few days since I've to be there in the house to oversee & "navigate" the situation, we were finally ready. 

Except, the paint was still wet and the smell of the paint was fresh!
What to do? I'd have been bombarded with a lot of questions if not for Febreze! Some angel told me to go get Febreze from the mart and to spray the affected rooms with it. Yep, the story doesn't end with the paint but that's for another day, hehe...

Febreze, here it comes! Within 24 hours, I believe the smell of paint was down to the minimum as no one actually asked about paint! Not even the agent. So, the day is saved by Febreze!

Go Febreze, Go!!! I never knew it could be this good!!!

P.S. If you have dogs or pets at home, or you need the carpet to smell clean so that you can impress your girlfriend, you know you need Febreze!!! ;-)

]]> Sat, 9 Jul 2011 04:36:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fresh as air freshener!]]> My first trial was one from Kokubo that's anti-mosquito and since I was living in China when I first got hold of this Japanese product, it was a real good one especially I did used it in the bedroom. The scent is nice, just like air freshener!

I just got the second one for anti-insect yesterday from City Super (a supermarket in Hong Kong). Apparently, Sasa sells it as well although I haven't check it out at their stores. I did google for it and found it on so for those in the U.S., it's good news for you, if you need one of these. I just discovered that there can be quite a bit of insects in Hong Kong in the summer months, something new to me! And, especially since I live by the seashore, you can imagine what's it like if my windows should be opened! For now, they stay shut in the night!

For those who are going camping, this is certainly a great one to have in your tent!

I'm happy with the brand and am testing out the one for anti-insect right now. It costs some HK$48 (around US$6) a bottle and last for at least 45 days. The beauty of it is that there is a cap on this one so you won't have to use it when you don't need to. The bottle can be sealed again and reuse at some later date (esp. if you just take it along for camping!). 

Interestingly enough, I never knew such products exist until recently. I knew there's those awful smelling insect-repellent where you spray on the insect and then there is air freshener. But, one that combines the two? Wow, only the Japanese can come up with something like this!

I also noted that Kokubo has some 41 products listed for sale on and some of it are a novelty. Check them out if you're interested: click here.]]> Thu, 7 Jul 2011 10:18:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Pura Milk Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 08:34:19 +0000 <![CDATA[Breakfast tray Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Now, I've given you some great ideas, haven't I?!]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 07:02:28 +0000
<![CDATA[Marker pen Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>

Now, I thought with the prevalence of marker pens (I remembered the use of it even back then when I was in U of T in Canada, that was long ago!), white chalks are gone and obsolete. To my surprise (and horror), I actually found professors in Peking University using those!!! Oh boy, isn't those thing "poisonous" and detrimental to health?

I haven't seen security and election markers so I don't have any idea how effective those are. In any case, I use marker pens mostly when I pack my stuff for moving! How about you?]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 06:35:25 +0000
<![CDATA[Pencil Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>

Mechanical pencil has taken over its place instead. Yet, even that figures little in my life these days! The Japanese is possibly responsible for making pencil obsolete in Asia although I notice less preference for the mechanical pencil in America and Africa. Cost could factor in the decision of the preference. In any case, I hate using sharpener!!! ]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 06:18:45 +0000
<![CDATA[Thalassemia Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>

Thalassemia originated in the Mediterranean. The world Thalassa means sea (Mediterranean Sea) while anaemia means weak blood. Both are Greek words. To read more about this condition, click here. Most people won't know they carry Thalassemia unless they are tested mildly anemic or go for further testing. There are no outward symptoms and no special treatment, be it diet or medical is needed.

By the way, there's even a World Thalessemia Day! It falls on May 19, 2011 this year!

I suspect I'm a carrier though I haven't had it confirm by the doctor!]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 16:23:30 +0000
<![CDATA[Folic acid Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Fortunately, Folic acid is cheap and abundant. Having said that, I haven't taken it for a long long time :p
For better absorption, Folic acid should be taken in conjunction with Vitamin D, if I got my fact right, that is!

]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 15:54:53 +0000
<![CDATA[Evening Primrose Oil Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Well, it's still a reasonably good product for the ladies. It's now said to show promise against breast cancer! The best part is that this capsule is small and can be easily swallowed! I hate tablets and huge capsules! I quite like the ones from Efamol.

]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 15:08:40 +0000
<![CDATA[Vitamin E Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Some food rich in Vitamin E are:
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Avacado
  • Sweet Potato
  • Olive
  • Broccoli
]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 14:53:41 +0000
<![CDATA[Osteoarthritis Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Stay clear of high heels, ladies! Excessive typing is a no-no, I reckon ;-)

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<![CDATA[Glucosamine Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
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<![CDATA[Osteoporosis Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
It seems to be prevalent in the Chinese society. I suspect it may be due to their dislike for milk, cheese and other dairy products. 

]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 10:49:25 +0000
<![CDATA[Hiking Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>

I love hiking with a camera and especially if I'm not rushing to finish a trail! Hiking alone does pose some degree of dangers, especially for woman and older people.

Having said that, hiking in national parks is one of the best experiences of life! Just so long as you're not caught in the rain ;-)]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 10:28:17 +0000
<![CDATA[Physical Education (PE) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Recently while attending a course in Beijing (China), I found out that PE is still compulsory in the first two year of undergraduate studies! Good grief!

Yet, adults pay to go gymn these days! You'll probably not catch me anywhere near the gym unless there's other attractions, haha!

]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 10:16:28 +0000
<![CDATA[Kindergarten Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Or in Asia, the rush to buy properties! What's coming of this world?! Poor kids!!! Other than learning how to play with the iPad, what else do these kids learn? ;-)

]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 10:04:25 +0000
<![CDATA[University Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Hope, friendship and carefree days... for most students, they have no idea how great that's until they enter workforce! :)

Treasure those days my friends, if you're still in University. Those are days of wine and roses!!!]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:56:21 +0000
<![CDATA[Clean Sweep Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Yes, by all means shop, but buy only what you need ;-)

Clean Sweep helps me see things differently. It changes ones perspective and values if you allow it to.
Keep, Sell, Toss... sounds great to me! It's can further be expanded to ... Do it now, KIV or Forget about it!

]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 05:08:06 +0000
<![CDATA[Little People Big World Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
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<![CDATA[Skype Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
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<![CDATA[ Behold the age of robotics!]]> what?

So I tootled off to Costco in another trip that started with one item and ended up with $500 worth of additional crap. Fortunately, I remembered the Roomba while loading up on New York strip, chicken breasts and canned tuna, got it home and took it for a spin. Setting up the bot is very easy - you just plug in the recharging base and press "Start". Check out my mad video editing skillz.

The Roomba, now christened Lucy in my parents' household, is currently the most productive family member living there. It's seriously hard core about finding and removing dirt, avoids any temptation to sweep debris under furniture, and basically leaves the house looking spotless. Put simply, you need to visit Costco immediately if don't have a Lucy since this is the beginning in the rise of robotics.

But fans of science fiction will know that it always starts this way with the best of intentions and convenience, yet this is a 3 stage path to the sort of inevitable global problems that make al Quada look about as frightening as a clown convention in a Halloween store.

I like to call Stage 1 the "wow, that's hot" part of the process:

It's hard to pick which bot should be cleaning your house to be honest. Sadly, this part doesn't tend to last very long and quickly subsides to the "holy f***ing sh** that's scary" phase, otherwise known as "Stage 2":

It's around this point that you wish you'd read the manual. Somewhere near the back of the Roomba's user guide, just after the part about cleaning the brushes every few days, it did mention something about becoming self-aware and trying to track down Sarah Connor. And that's how we get to stage 3.

Of course, it's nice to know after Judgment Day that Lucy's making sure to dust and vacuum around the piles of human skulls but it's also disappointing that it fed the map of my house back to Skynet to crush the human resistance.

If you think I might be getting ahead of myself here, just think about this: do you think it's any coincidence that a Dyson is a brand of vacuum cleaner? I think not.]]> Fri, 13 May 2011 19:13:01 +0000
<![CDATA[Capetown Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
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<![CDATA[Barcelona, Spain Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
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<![CDATA[ This cushion has been a godsend!]]>
About a month ago I saw a cushion advertised in one of those Sunday newspaper inserts.  The ad proclaimed that this product relieved back and tailbone pain.  Could this be something that would help me?  I immediately dialed the "800" number and ordered one of these cushions.  It was just $14.95.  Well, the cushion came.  It was kind of flimsy as you might expect.  After all, what do you want for $14.95?  But it did help some and I saw the wisdom of this design.  Now if I could only find something a bit more substantial I might be able solve my problem once and for all.   I logged onto and discovered the "Large FIRM Tush Cush Seat Cushion".  What an odd name for a product!  Anyway, the design was essentially the same one as the knock-off I had purchased a few weeks earlier.  Priced at around $47.00 "The Original High Quality Tush Cush is designed to relieve and prevent back pain, numb buttocks and other discomforts associated with sitting.  The cutout section suspends your tailbone (coccyx) reducing pressure on your lower lumbar discs."  Finally, the product description goes on to say "The wedge shape (slant from the back 3" down to 1/2" in the front) tilts your pelvis forward to restore your spine's natural lumbar lordotic curve.  Now the FIRM version of the Tush Cush that I ordered is designed for folks over 200 lbs.  But since I weigh 180 and prefer firm to soft anyway I ordered this slightly more expensive model.   What convinced me to buy was that an overwhelming majority of Amazon reviewers recommended or highly recommended this product. 

Well the proof is in the pudding.   I received my "Large FIRM Tush Cush Seat Cushion" on Thursday and immediately put it to the test.  I can tell you that for me this is a godsend!  No more pain and I can get off the couch normally again.  This appears to be a well-made, high quality product.  Many reviewers have mentioned that they have had their cushion for several months or more and it has hardly compressed at all.  So if you are suffering from back pain or tailbone pain this is a product that just might bring you that welcome relief that you seek.  Take my word for has sure helped me!    Very highly recommended!]]> Sat, 7 May 2011 19:17:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ After the Expo, here comes the grassroots' vengeance!]]>
Shanghaiist is owned by an American company (Gothamist LLC - no prize for figuring out where this leads!) which also operates other city blogs like BostonChicagoLASan Francisco and DC. Alternatively, if you are in Canada, check out Torontoist.

I enjoy Shanghaiist for its candor and humorous (aka naughty) way of presenting the news in the city. It doesn't cover as much political news as it does the entertainment and food picks of the city. Shanghaiist doesn't censor sensitive news as the Chinese media is often obliged to, mostly because it's possibly not hosted in China! Its editor is American and some of its writers are from Singapore and the surrounding regions.

It's latest stint? Reporting the Sperm Collecting Machine: Chinese Innovation at its best! Now, that's scandalous, you say? Not! It's for real... take a look!

If that's not queer enough for you, how about an automatic hairy crab vending machine?

Now, that's what I call interesting news coverage!!! 
Anything is possible & commercially viable in China! 
Watch out, America! You no longer dominates where innovation is concerned! ;-)]]> Sun, 1 May 2011 16:08:04 +0000
<![CDATA[Interlaken, Switzerland Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sun, 1 May 2011 14:05:12 +0000 <![CDATA[ Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Shanghaiist is owned by an American company (Gothamist LLC - no prize for figuring out where this leads!) which also operates other city blogs like BostonChicagoLASan Francisco and DC. Alternatively, if you are in Canada, check out Torontoist.]]> Sun, 1 May 2011 10:14:41 +0000
<![CDATA[The Cool Hunter Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
The Cool Hunter is simply THE BEST!
I love TCH so much so I want to give it a BIG HUG!!!]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 17:06:46 +0000
<![CDATA[Business Week (Chinese Edition) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
I'm hoping it'll be available soon on, the digital edition, I mean.]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 03:42:05 +0000
<![CDATA[Business Week Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> occasionally to see what's up in the business arena. It's sufficient for my needs and is still a very good source of information. It's free too! 

For those who like the entire magazine, you can now get them on for as low as $1 an edition!]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 03:40:10 +0000
<![CDATA[Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 03:37:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Travel + Leisure Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 03:35:07 +0000 <![CDATA[Economist Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 03:32:54 +0000 <![CDATA[Outside Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2011 15:07:59 +0000 <![CDATA[Prague, Czech Republic Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 08:06:07 +0000 <![CDATA[Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 06:05:38 +0000 <![CDATA[The Cool Hunter Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

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<![CDATA[ Glossy, lightweight and definitely good for keeps]]> iPad Buzz community) and/or other tablet (notably Androids) is its lightweight and glossy contents, specifically one that involves more pictures and easy reading. I admit, I did get the tablet more for entertainment than for serious work. Best if they are portable and ultralight.

In other words, this is a gadget for travel. And what do I do most when I travel? I read magazines (and sometimes books) in the airport and while waiting for plane to take off. However, I've often dreaded the weight associated with these materials and many a time I ended up leaving them in hotels during my many trips including "The Memoirs of Geisha" which I specifically remembered leaving it behind in the Sofitel Bora Bora Resort! So, when the iPad and tablets were introduced, I know I'd have a field day going back to reading. In fact, there are so many selections that I've yet had time to read everything I had bought!

Zinio is the apps for digital magazines while Kobo is the one for books which came preloaded with my Samsung Galaxy Tab (from hereon to be refered as Tab). It was easy to set up and before I knew it, I already had some magazines which I've never ever even seen before while browsing at the bookstores downloaded for free into my Tab. Now, that's what I could get used to, I thought!

Having said that, I prefer browsing for magazines on the Zinio website than on the PC. The clicking and typing are more habitually & easily done on the laptop than on my Tab since I don't have an iPhone to practice those texting skills (and for some reasons, 10 fingers are definitely more productive than 2!). In any case, it's just personal preference and I do browse for magazines on my Tab especially during my trips or journeys to and from another city.

For those interested, you can get the Zinio iPad apps from Zinio website or by clicking here if it is not already preloaded into your machine. It is free of charge.

To my pleasure, Zinio has a large selection of magazines covering some 11 broad categories:
  1. art
  2. automative
  3. entertainment
  4. home
  5. lifestyle
  6. men
  7. news
  8. science & tech
  9. sports
  10. travel
  11. women

In each category, there are at least 4 sub-categories. Sports has some 12 sub-categories! So, it takes you quite awhile to go through everyone of them if you simply want to browse and find some free magazines to download. For me, travel it is!

Magazines are mostly in English but other local languages can also be found. It is good to make sure you get the right one before you key in your payment information! Zinio makes it real easy to buy though as those payment info needed to be keyed in only once! I haven't actually try changing my credit card to another one so am not so sure what that entails! I do love to use just one specific credit card for my online payments (that makes it a little safer; best to use one with the lowest credit limit too!). Before you buy the magazine, you can actually browse through it online (not on the tablets but you can try your luck on iPad) and read a max of 3 pages for most magazines. Some, you can even read the entire magazine so it might not make sense for you to buy unless you want to keep a copy of it downloaded and read it offline. Downloading is fast on the PC but slow on my Tab. I do suspect this is because its the different carrier I used.

Now, for the quality of the magazine? Great, even better than the real magazines. Colors are outstanding and stunning. My only complaint is for some magazines, reading it on the Tab is a little straining for the eyes. Not most of them, just a few. That might be due to how the magazine was digitized, I'm not sure. I must say that despite the lightweight nature of the Tab, magazines might be best read on the iPad (with a larger screen) while books are better on the tablets or e-readers. Holding the Tab for hours (even though possibly about 1/2 the weight of the iPad) can be tiring, so let alone the iPad! The 7" screen does mean that you do need to scroll a bit when it comes to magazine though great for the books!

In any case, you don't have to worry about this as Zinio allows you to download one purchase about 6x, if I got it right. I had downloaded the same magazine twice to 2 different PCs and once to my Tab. Good news, isn't it? That possibly mean you can share the cost with friends if you trust your friends with the payment info and him/her that he/she won't splurge on other magazines when you're not around ;-) I think this works especially well for couples and also company accounts. Think news magazines like The Economist, Forbes, etc... Your cost goes down by 6x and the best about Zinio digital magazines? The Cost! 

Cost is a mere fraction of the real magazines. Some, the entire year subscription is the mere cost of a paper magazine!!! That translates to more magazines you can download with the same budget!!! For example, National Geographic Traveler is a mere US$10 for 8 digital issues and Outdoor Photographer is also US$10 for 11 issues! Hurry, go grab them!!! I'm getting all my magazines from different corners of the planet hot off the press!!!

Life is magnifique!]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2011 06:20:21 +0000
<![CDATA[ First Alert Carbon Monoxide Plug In Alarm with Battery Backup and Digital Display #Co615]]>
This unit is not very large, it is only approximately 10"(L) x 7" (W) x 9"(H) and only weighs about 1 pound. You will receive two AA batteries and a manual inside of the box. On the back side you will see  two prongs that will rotate so that you can install this in a horizontal or vertical outlet. There is a electrochemical sensor inside that will sense the presence of carbon monoxide. The whole case is made of a very durable plastic and on the front you will have two buttons, one will operate a test/silence function, when you depress the other button it will show the highest level of carbon monoxide that has been recorded in this unit.

Located in the middle of these two buttons you will see a green LED power indicator. In the very middle you will see a small digital display screen with a backlit  display. Located behind the cover and on the left side you will see an alarm horn the has the capability to put out 85db, and that is loud enough to pierce your ears and enough to wake you up from a deep sleep. This has a 5 year limited warranty and that is because the lifetime of the sensor is only five years. This has a life span indicator that will come up when you are approaching that time limit. This means that it has outlived its usefulness, and you should purchase another unit. You can silence the audible alarm for 4 minutes but after the 4 minutes if the problem exists the alarm will start back up again. The really neat thing about this unit is the fact that you can use your TV remote to lower the volume on the unit if you stand within 12' of it. You also have to remember that the batteries are only a back-up to remember the previous numbers that have been stored inside of this unit.

There is not calibrating to do when you get this home all you have to do with this is put the batteries inside of it and plug it in. You do have to make sure that you do not put this in a spot that is near combustible fumes such as in the garage, kitchen, crawl space, or attics. The garage of course has your car in it and it puts out this type of fumes and it will set off the alarm, the kitchen has the stove and oven that also puts out natural gas fumes,  and crawl spaces and attics usually are not frequented by us. If you do happen have to place one of these in the vicinity, make sure that it is at least 20' from any of these items. Other areas that this will not work properly in or may damage the sensor inside it the bathroom, sauna, if you have a humidifier or vaporizer in the bedroom.

You have to remember that these devices are basically used in rooms that will do not have the air disturbed by a ceiling fan or open windows. Carbon monoxide is a type of fume that is undetectable to the human olfactory senses. This also will not work in very cold temperatures such as 40°F on in places such as attics the will usually get into the hotter temperatures over 100°F. Other things that can affect the operation of this unit is fluorescent lighting and any electrical appliance noise.

The best places to install this unit is in the bedroom and hallways and making sure that you install this on each level of you home for better and more protection. If you were to divide the cost of one of these units by the five year lifespan that comes to about 5 to 10 dollars a year for a insurance policy. You will not have to worry about whether or not this is working if you do not see any numbers because of the LED light that should be on and green. If this is not that means that the out that you have plugged into does not have any power going to it. If this emits a chirping sound that means that the batteries inside are low and need to be replaced. This also will show a little picture of a battery on the digital display indicating that the battery is low.

God forbid, that you have to experience a warning alert from this unit, but if you do there is two labels that comes with this and you can write the number of the first contact to call and a qualified appliance mechanic. This way if something happens and you become unconscious, the first responder can call the emergency contact person that you have listed on your unit. If the unit does sound then do not waste any time getting to fresh air. We did have an instance where our dog was sitting by the unit and let some gas out (farted) and it was really weird because it set off the alarm. This was very funny because at least we did not have to push the test button.

If you do happen to hear the alarm you should see a PPM number displayed on the digital screen. On the digital display you will also see a visual that will look like a sound indicator on a stereo, the higher the number the more bars that will show up. Three rapid chirps tell you that a malfunction has occurred and an error message will appear on the display. If the number is to high the words evacuate will appear below the numbers.

A lot of people have never even experienced this type of poisoning, or may have and not even known that this was the cause. They might have thought that they were just a little sick. A mild case of Carbon monoxide poisoning will consist of light headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, flu-like symptoms. A medium exposure case will consist of a throbbing huge headache, getting really tired for no reason, confusion, and a really fast heart palpitations or rate. The most severe or deadly case consists of convulsions, unconsciousness, heart and breathing failure, and this exposure can cause brain damage and even death.

This alarm is set up by UL labs to go off at certain PPM, the lowest is 70 and it will alarm every 60 to 240 minutes. If the alarm is set off by 150ppm it will alarm every 10 to 50 minutes, and if this unit detects 400ppm it will alarm every 4 to 15 minutes.  The average adult can be affected with minor headaches if they have been exposed to 100ppm for 4 hours or more. If they get exposed to 400ppm they can stay healthy if only exposed for 35 minutes but if still in contact for more than two  hours death will be probable result. The one thing that you should remember, is that if you are a deep sleeper this alarm may not be enough to wake you.

After almost losing my aunt and my cousins, I made sure that since they could not afford one of these that I went out and purchased it for them. I just kept thinking that if I had left that day, that they would have went to sleep and never woke up. But because I had experienced some uneasy feeling and headaches this signaled me to call the electric company and they knew as soon as they walked through the door that the ppm's were too high to stay in the house. They automatically opened up the whole house and tagged the furnace for 24 hours. We could not relight the furnace until the problem was fixed. Once the chimney was cleared that took care of the problems and we have not had any problems since. I feel a lot better knowing that they have this unit because every time that I go over there I usually push the test button just to scare them and to make sure that the unit is still working properly.

The main thing is that if you do not get this model, make sure that you get some kind of carbon monoxide detector. Something is better than nothing, but I would highly recommend this model CO615 by The First Alert company. Some people never change their monitors, but that is because they do not know that all of these units have sensors and they do have life span.

Yes]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 18:31:56 +0000
<![CDATA[Smoking Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Oh, if you hate smoking, best not to go Japan and China. Too many smokers and it's tough trying to avoid them all the time!]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 01:49:42 +0000
<![CDATA[Zinio Digital Magazines Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Kobo Apps, this one came with my Samsung Galaxy Tabs. The apps can be used on iPad too. Buying magazines from Zinio apps or its website is easy as a breeze. Prices for a few of the magazines I bought are a steep discount to its paper counterparts. No problem with downloads and it allows you to download to your PC, iPad, Android tablets, etc... If I'm not mistaken, all in all, 6 downloads are allowed in each magazine one buys. So far, I'm very satisfied with it. 

There is a wide varieties of magazines offered, including those in foreign languages! Now, I can get my magazines from all over the world as soon as they are off the press! Cool!

You can get your zinio iPad Apps here.]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 10:35:06 +0000