|The Beach Shirt|
Usually we like our post to be about costal and Beach Shirt related gear, however with all of the hype Facebook has brought in the past month and its' oh so hyped IPO I couldn't help but post this after I read it! Enjoy!
By Rob Enderle
05/28/12 5:00 AM PT
Facebook's CEO has apparently always thought that users were stupid -- not exactly the word he used. Just as apparently, he has translated that belief into a ton of cash, because we weren't able to figure out quickly enough there really wasn't a fire under all that smoke. I have a feeling that is changing, and that we'll soon find that Facebook knew it was selling fool's gold and not the real stuff.
I've been up to my armpits talking about Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) for most of this month, and maybe because I'm unusually dense, just realized that Facebook is a new kind of dot-com. By this I mean its revenue and profit are based on a series of false beliefs.
Unlike the first dot-coms, which failed, Facebook does have revenue and profit, but just like them it has been built on a stack of false assumptions that I think -- if they actually had thought through -- would have had advertisers and investors questioning whether Facebook was worth US$1 million let alone $100 billion.
I'll walk through why I think Facebook is a fraud, and I'll close with my product of the week: what may be the best cellphone deal on the planet.
Foundation of Fraud A fraud is a wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. Now the "personal gain" part is a given; the initial Facebook investors, banking underwriters, and Mark Zuckerberg in particular made out like bandits -- maybe literally -- from the IPO.
Of course, the rank and file who massively bought Facebook stock at $42 and watched it crater over hours and days to $32 -- where it is as I write this -- didn't do quite as well. Losing money can be evidence of a fraud, because there needs to be a financial transfer between the folks who are allegedly committing the crime and the victims. For those who invested in Facebook, the "victim" title likely has a lot of resonance.
So out of the gate we have two elements we need to prove a fraud: Someone made a ton of money at the expense of someone else. But the third critical element is whether the buyers were misled. Let's get to that.
How Many Facebook Users Are There? The number that is officially tossed out is 1 billion users, and there are 1 billion people who in some way come into contact with Facebook. But the implied assumption is that this 1 billion is connected to making a profit, and there lies the rub. However, the person being misled, which makes this interesting, isn't the investor -- it is the advertiser.
Stop for a moment. Name one ad you have ever seen on Facebook? Just one. Now if you can, and most I've spoken with can't, name one time you have actually bought something based on that ad. I've bought things after seeing Internet ads, TV ads, magazine ads -- but I'll bet even if you remember seeing a Facebook ad, you haven't ever bought anything based on it.
Now let's back up one more step. How often do you really go to Facebook as opposed to interface with it using a social networking application or aggregator on your smartphone, tablet or PC? If you are like me, this is almost never. I touch Facebook most of the time from my smartphone, Tweetdeck or Seesmic (a really great posting tool, by the way). So even if Facebook had full page ads that were 100 percent effective, I'd almost never see them.
The numbers I've seen suggest there are really only about 250 million people who actually go to Facebook and can see ads. The number of people who actually do see them is probably less than a tenth of that -- we've learned to tune ads out, and Facebook's are very subtle -- and of that fewer than 25 million, just a tiny number convert.
This suggests that advertisers are massively overpaying for Facebook advertising, and General Motors is one of the few companies that have figured this out. In fact, there are some interesting things that come up when you search "Facebook ad fraud."
So, a tiny fraction of the 1 billion people Facebook talks about actually see advertising and use it, and I'll bet confirmation will emerge shortly that Facebook knows this. Given that GM caught on, I'll bet a large number of the existing investors, along with Mark Zuckerberg and Morgan Stanley, know this as well.
There was a well-researched study last year that clearly indicated that Facebook was worth a fraction of the $100 billion the company was pushing. Apparently, too few of us read it -- but I'll bet Facebook folks did.
Insult to Injury Now, it isn't just that people aren't consuming the ads -- there is another false belief out there. It is that given Facebook knows a ton about you, it should be able to present ads you are interested in. I just posted pictures of my new car last night; I also post on tech things I'm writing about. Now let's look at the ads I'm getting.
Top of the list is a special from AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse. Great -- that might work, except AT&T U-verse isn't offered in my area, and Facebook sure as heck has my address. This is followed by an offer for a crappy refurbed AT&T phone. Really, they think someone who reviews tech products would be in the market for a crappy refurbed phone?
Here are some of the others: There is a gout study for folks who have gout (I don't); there is a service to meet older women (think my wife would object to my using it); and a Men in Black ad that gives me a chance to get a sneak peek at The Amazing Spider-Man. Wait, what?
Not a single one is a car offer, and there is one tech ad (refurbished phones), but it isn't the kind of tech that I'd be likely to buy. In short, Faceboo isn't actually using any information that apparently everyone else sees to serve up more successful ads.
Is Facebook a Corporation? Facebook is marketed as a corporation, but it uses a unique format that lets Zuckerberg exclusively control the company. In short, it isn't really a corporation as we would think of it; it is more like a limited partnership in which the limited -- and virtually powerless -- investors are represented by a powerless board.
I would think a structure like that would need to be fully understood by investors, because they should fully understand the risks of having a 28-year-old-billionaire in charge without real oversight before investing.
We did get a warning when Zuckerberg used investor money to buy Instagram, a tiny company, for $1 billion, as if it were out of his own pocket -- no corporate oversight or board involvement.
Facebook is presented as a public corporation, but in structure the controls that are typically around a CEO don't seem to exist. That would suggest folks didn't invest in a well-managed company; they invested in a 28-year-old who makes billion-dollar impulse buys.
Wrapping Up: Facebook Fraud The dot-com market was based largely on the fact that a ton of folks got excited about the Internet and believed, thanks largely to Netscape, that it was a gold mine. Turned out it was fool's gold, and even Netscape no longer exists.
Now, more than a decade later, Facebook has discovered and renamed that same mine -- but even though it has now convinced advertisers that this is real gold, it is no more real now than it was then. The ad value that founds this company's revenue simply isn't there. Yes, advertisers are paying money, but the value they think they are getting isn't there any more than it was in the dot-com years.
Facebook's CEO has apparently always thought that users were stupid -- not exactly the word he used. Just as apparently, he has translated that belief into a ton of cash, because we weren't able to figure out quickly enough there really wasn't a fire under all that smoke. I have a feeling that is changing, and that we'll soon find that Facebook knew it was selling fool's gold and not the real stuff.
In the end, had investors made money, I doubt much of this would initially matter -- but Zuckerberg got too greedy, and he and his friends made all the money while other investors lost it. It looks like a fraud, it smells like a fraud, and we'll have a ton of folks now working to prove it was a fraud.
This is where Zuckerberg's control could come back to haunt him, because I expect these folks will use it to drill right through the corporate veil and nail his personal estate. Given what he seems to think of us, I can't help but think that will be poetic justice.
I'm reminded of the famous quotation from President George Bush "Fool Me Once etc." We may not all be the brightest bulbs in the box, but that doesn't mean we are pushovers either. I think Zuckerberg's going to learn the Bernie Madoff lesson -- that taking advantage of trust has a very high cost at the CEO level.
Clean water. Poverty alleviation. Sponsored education. And...Hammocks??
On a recent service trip to the Dominican Republic, I was blessed to connect with a righteous dude named Tim. He is the Managing Director at a revolutionary place called Doulos Discovery School (check it out). More than that, Tim is co-owner of a SoCo Hammocks. SoCo stands for Socially Conscious because they are exactly that. Twenty percent of their net profits are donated to help the poor around the world through clean water, poverty alleviation, and sponsored education via different non-profits.
These handmade hammocks are simple, durable, lightweight and set up in about 60 seconds. They come in a variety of colors from Sky Blue to Classic Red to Vintage Yellow. I had the pleasure to try one of these out during my time in Jarabacoa. The second I fell into the hammock it was like: "Holy understatements, Batman! This thing is more comfortable than it looks!" I thought maybe they should have called it SuCo for Super Comfortable, but Socially Conscious is probably more fitting. I've listed some of my favorite features below. Global impact has never been more relaxing.
~ Each hammock comes with two free 6 ft. hanging straps
~ The Bomber Buckles attached to SoCo Hammocks are the best solution for fully adjustable suspension ~ The name "Bomber Buckle" sounds bada$$
~ Hammocks have a 450lb weight capacity but only weigh a pound in it's attached pouch!
~ The silk nylon material is breathable, mildew resistent, triple stitched, and feels absolutely blissful
~ You have a choice in the cause you want to support
Find out more at www.socohammocks.com
Vacation Savings: 9 Easy Summer Travel Tips Spring fever has slowly subsided, but summer fever is swinging into full effect. While summer is always the big travel season in the United States, Americans are changing the way they take vacations. For example, look at the new partnership between Groupon and Expedia. They’re following the increasingly popular deal-of-the-day model and offering significant discounts on travel packages that can include airfare, hotels, activities, car rentals and more.
That’s not the only way to get to your destination for less, though. Try using these 9 thrifty travel tips to save some money on your next vacation.
1. Discover Off-Peak Destinations
With nearly four-million square miles of land area, the U.S. is a big country. This means there are nearly unlimited places to travel. Destinations in California, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, are some of the most popular spots, but they’re also the most expensive. If you think outside the box, you’ll find some really cool locations to have a unique vacation without the crowds.
2. Shop at Auctions
Is your heart set on luxurious accommodations, but your bank account doesn’t match up? The auctions at travel sites like LuxuryLink.com can help you find accommodations, spa credits, meal vouchers and free drinks for as much as 65 percent below the typical retail price. Auction king eBay also offers a variety of discount vacation packages in their travel section.
3. Go Back to Campus
Traveling with a large group? Often, hotels will offer discounts to large groups, but staying a whole week is still very expensive. Many colleges and universities rent out empty dorms during the summer, which can save everyone a bundle. It generates a little extra money for the college and the price is typically significantly less than hotel rates. If you’re traveling with a soccer team or church group, a college campus offers more space and freedom for the kids to play outdoors, instead of running amok around a hotel.
4. Use Discount Gift Cards
Most major travel companies are on board with gift cards. Purchase gift cards at sites like GiftCardGranny.com for serious savings on rental cars and airfare. Discount gift cards for airlines like Southwest usually sell out within minutes, so signing up for email alerts can help put you at the front of the line.
5. Make Your Own Food
Eating out at new restaurants is one of the best parts of traveling, but there’s no need to eat out three meals a day. Instead, plan to eat only one meal out. Many hotels and even hostels offer some sort of free breakfast, typically consisting of fruit, cereal and pastries. Also consider booking a hotel that offers a mini kitchenette so you can prepare meals to enjoy in-room or pack as lunch for a day exploring the city.
6. Enjoy Membership Perks
Membership in clubs like AAA or even credit cards can provide some unexpected travel benefits. AAA members can find discounts at hotels, restaurants and local merchants. They’ll also hook you up with complimentary tour books and travel maps.
Many credit cards will help with affordable travel insurance, baggage protection, rental car protection and even travel-delay protection. Find out what your card covers before you go so you don’t end up shelling out extra cash.
7. Giving Back to Get Away
If rest and relaxation are less of a priority than simply getting out of town, there’s always an abundance of volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to connect with other people who care about the same causes. It also provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Sites like VolunteerGuide.org can help you find opportunities all over the world. Many times, food and lodging are included when you commit to a term of a week or two. All you have to do is get there.
8. Find Secret Savings
Travelocity is taking a new approach to finding great hotel prices with their Top Secret Hotels. Give them a little information about when and where you’re traveling and they’ll give you a list of hotels with ratings and prices. Once you pick one and book your stay — saving up to 50% off the original price — they’ll reveal the name and details of the hotel you selected.
9. Travel With Apps
Smartphones go where you go, meaning they can help you save while you’re on vacation.
If you’re taking an old-fashioned road trip, the GasBuddy app can find the lowest prices on gas for every leg of your journey. After fueling up the car, Meal Ticket will help track down coupons and reviews for nearby restaurants.
When you still have work to do before you relax, don’t bother paying the ridiculous Internet fees at hotels. The Free Wi-Fi Finder app tracks down local hotspots in 144 different countries.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer savings expert. She has presented various consumer savings tips on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @AndreaWoroch to receive daily savings tips.
A current study has found out that the reason why travellers pick Belize to spend their vacations is because of the diversity of experiences that it offers. The culture, the scuba diving, the cave tubing, the Maya ruins -- you name it! We have it! I am not trying to brag here but take a look at the story below and find out for yourself why Belize has become a top pick for travellers.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s Larry Waight said an increasing number of travellers are looking for a combination of experiences to get the most out of their holiday dollar, and this trend is creating greater interest in Belize.
“When I ask our guests what brings them to Belize and Chaa Creek, more and more of them answer that it’s the variety of different experiences they can have on one vacation. For example, we’ve lately had several people asking how to combine an Easter break with a chance to see the annual Belize whale shark migration and visit Maya temples as well.
“Fortunately, given Belize’s small size and our network of colleagues we’re able to that quite easily,” he said.
The annual whale shark season in Belize, beginning in March, runs through April, May, June and sometimes further into the summer. Once known to relatively few people, exposure in nature publications and media such as National Geographic has made whale shark watching more popular in recent years.
With a recorded length of 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) in length and weighing in at more than 36 tonnes (79,000 lb), whale sharks are the world’s largest fish and the third largest living animal. Although a true shark and largely unchanged over 60 million years, whale sharks are peaceful, allowing divers to touch them as they lazily strain plankton and other food during their annual stopover in Belize.
Only a handful of places in the world, including Belize, Madagascar, South Africa, Australia, Mozambique, Indonesia and the Yucatan host annual whale shark feeding and mating seasons.
Mr Waight said that the chance to see the giant fish in the water, combined with exploring ancient Maya temples and archaeological sites while celebrating Easter is irresistible to some travellers.
“Easter is widely and exuberantly celebrated in Belize, so it’s a great time to be here, and while that may not be reason enough to travel to Belize, people see it as icing on the cake when considering all the other things you can do during a spring vacation in Belize.
“People are looking for more ‘bang for the buck’ when booking holidays, and we’ve responded to that trend with more variety in our all-inclusive Belize vacation packages. With specific focuses such as Maya, families, romantic getaways, inland adventure and the popular rainforest to reef packages that combine a rainforest experience with a Caribbean island holiday, we’re giving travellers the opportunity to do as much – or as little as they want when they come to Belize for vacation.
The time to reminisce about all the amazing travel memories we made with our families over the last year has passed. It's time to get moving and start planning for an exciting year of new destinations and adventures ahead! We've read through many of your recommendations, researched, and drawn from our own experiences and favorites to put together these family-friendly vacation ideas that are particularly worthy choices for 2012. Some will appeal to the budget-minded, while others are more tantalizingly extravagant. You'll find something for adventurous thrill-seeking families, as well as for those who prefer to spend lazy days on the beach with a cocktail while the kids are happily entertained.
A topnotch aquarium, a famously cool science museum, as well as a rich history and sophisticated New England charm have long attracted families to Boston, and the city that always tops the travel lists promises not to disappoint in 2012. In the summer, the new and improved Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is scheduled to reopen, 11 years after the original museum was struck by lightning and burned down in 2001. The new museum will have replicas of the three merchant ships: the Beaver, the Eleanor, and the Dartmouth, and new exhibits featuring Samuel Adams and King George III. For families with younger kids, the Boston Children's Museum is a must. Everyone will love the new "Remember When" exhibit (which runs through February) where you can dress up in vintage clothes and play with toys from the past.
In addition, Fenway Park, America's oldest ballpark, celebrates its 100th birthday in 2012. There are dozens of cool events planned at the Red Sox stadium, including a free open house on April 18th where you can check out historical artifacts and photographs and meet some of the Red Sox legends.
Consider staying at the Hotel Commonwealth or the Fairmont Battery Wharf.
2. San Francisco
Kids (and grownups) of all ages will get a thrill out of riding the cable cars through the hilly streets of San Francisco, watching performers along touristy Fisherman's Wharf, chocolate-tasting at Ghirardelli Square, and taking a winding drive down famous Lombard Street. I dare anyone not to be impressed with the stunning vistas across the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge. The number of kid-friendly attractions (don't forget the zoo, museums, Alcatraz and Union Square) are endless.
2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge; and the tourist board didn't pass up the opportunity to commemorate the occasion a variety of family-friendly events planned throughout the year. The highlight will be a two-day celebration at Golden Gate State Park in May, where there will be live music and entertainment, exhibits and bridge memorabilia on display. The celebration will go well beyond the park, where attractions like The Bay Area Discovery Museum and the Exploratorium have related events and exhibits planned, many of which will be free.
For families looking to escape the bustle of the city at the end of the day, consider staying at The Claremont; just 15 minutes outside the city, you'll get to roam across 22 acres and have access to three pools and a kids' club.
3. The Mediterranean
Caribbean cruises have grown steadily in popularity amongst families, and with good reason. They offer an affordable, convenient means of getting around the islands, with plenty of organized activities for kids and parents. Until recently, fewer families have opted to venture into Mediterranean waters, perhaps because they assume it's going to be a budget-buster. In reality, many Mediterranean itineraries are comparably priced; it's just the airfare that is expensive. But if you travel in shoulder-season and search out bargain airfares, it can be more affordable than you might think.
As more families look to discover this region, the major cruise lines are adding itineraries in record numbers. In 2012, dozens of kid-friendly ships will make their rounds through Mediterranean waters. The colossal Norwegian Epic, which has 21-dining options, Blue Man Group entertainment and a water park, will sail out of Barcelona in 2012 with 7-day western Mediterranean cruises from April 29 to October 14. Royal Caribbean is also sending more ships than ever before, 12, to the region for the 2012 summer season. Not to be outdone, Princess will also make its biggest presence ever in the region, with seven ships sailing on 57 itineraries to 116 destinations between April and December.
Central America's only English-speaking country is a great destination for adventurous families who enjoy diving and snorkeling, as well as those interested in learning about the archeology and history of this culturally rich (and affordable) country. While probably not ideal for the youngest travelers, Belize has so much to offer older kids. Caving, tubing through the stalagmites of an underground river, or zip lining through the rainforest are memories your children will never forget.
Belize is a relatively young country -- in fact it just celebrated its 30th birthday last year. The past 12 months have seen many hotel deals, festivals and activities in celebration. 2012 is an equally important year for the Maya people of Belize, as it's the year the Maya calendar comes to a close. Some have interpreted this to mean the world will end on December 21, while most are celebrating 2012 as a year for spiritual rebirth and new beginnings. There are related festivals, concerts and cultural events scheduled for every month of the year in 2012.
Looking for kid-friendly accommodations? Try the eco-friendly (and Family Vacation Critic favorite) Inn at Robert's Grove, where visiting families can stay on a private island while exploring the rainforests and Mayan ruins.
A host of outdoor activities, public parks and incredible vistas in every direction make Denver a great choice for families. In winter, hit the slopes at several nearby mountains, and in summer visit the city's Botanical Garden and let the kids wander down the Children's Secret Path. The Children's Museum of Denver and the World of Wonder Children's Museum are tons of fun any time of year.
2012 is the perfect time to visit the Mile High City. The new and greatly anticipated Elephant Passage ($50 million in the making) exhibit at the Denver Zoo is set to open in the spring 2012. The Elephant Passage will be a 10-acre complex that will house several animals including Asian elephants, Indian rhinos and leopards. When it's complete, it will be the largest bull elephant habitat in the world.
Nearby Breckenridge Ski Resort is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this ski season. Families can participate in all kinds of fun activities at Breckenridge, and take a ride on the new Gold Runner Alpine Coaster, a super-speedy, 2,500-foot mountain roller coaster that's open in summer and winter. Cool!
Set to host the 2012 summer games from July 27 to August 12 2012, London is an excitingly glitzy destination for families this year. Although most of the major events have already sold out, there are loads of free events and festivals scheduled around the city, including the triathlon and marathon races. If you're determined to get event tickets, the 2012 ticket resale program starts on January 6. People who have already bought tickets that they are unable to use can sell them at face value. London promises to be teeming with excitement, celebrities and fun, but don't expect any bargains. Hotels and flights will be expensive and hard to come by; if you haven't started planning already, get going!
Outside of the Olympics, London has an amazing array of family-friendly sights. Take the kids for a ride on the London Eye -- they'll be able to see Big Ben and Parliament as they rotate 135 meters into the sky -- awesome! (For great views of the London Eye, The Savoy hotel offers plenty, in a luxurious setting.) Older kids will enjoy a visit to the famous Madame Tusuad's Wax Museum, and all ages will get a kick out of the double-decker bus tour and the changing of the guard. Hyde Park is an excellent place to spend a warm day with the family; there's a great playground, ponds with paddle boats, and even a carousel.
Think you've been there done that and seen it all in Orlando? Think again! 2012 will bring several new attractions and events to the theme park capital of the world. Universal Studios, which has grown enormously in popularity amongst families since the addition of Harry Potter, will open a cool new attraction in 2012: Despicable Me. Despicable-Me riders will be transformed into the movie's famous little minions and take a 3-D ride featuring Gru and his lair, the adorable orphans, and an interactive dance party.
LEGOLAND Florida is expanding in 2012, with the addition of a new water park adjacent to the current attraction, scheduled to open by summer. It will have a wave pool, a LEGO-themed raft ride, water slides, and an interactive water-play area for younger children.
In the Magic Kingdom, the massive expansion of Fantasyland continues. Over the course of the next two years, this area of the park will more than double in size. Several new attractions are scheduled to open in 2012, including Under the Sea -- Journey of the Little Mermaid, Storybook Circus and the Great Goofini.
8. Nova Scotia
Having spent several childhood summers exploring the salty tide pools of Peggy's Cove, I highly recommend sea-loving families visit this region of Canada. While you won't find the shiny resorts and pre-packaged activities you will find in other popular family destinations, sometimes making your own fun is the way to go. Greater Halifax is a must; there's a beautiful harbor, shops and cafes, as well as outdoor activities galore, including swimming, camping, hiking, sailing, and whale watching.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking off the east coast of Canada. There is a long list of events planned in and around Halifax as part of Titanic 100, a project to commemorate the occasion. The goal, according to its creators, is to create a legacy in Halifax. As part of the program, there will be a marine-art festival, several concerts, a monument memorial on the waterfront, and a film festival with showings of Titanic movies. In March, The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will host "Built in Belfast -- Remembered in Halifax," a guided tour which takes visitors through a history of events, and pays a visit to the graves of some of the 150 victims who are buried in Halifax cemeteries. The museum is also expanding its permanent Titanic exhibit this year. There's another Titanic exhibit at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, which shows a model of what the wreck site looks like now.
Hawaii's third-largest island, Oahu, isn't new to family "Best Of" lists, so seeing it here should be no surprise. But a recent arrival to the island makes it an even hotter destination for 2012. Last April, the kid-friendly Mecca welcomed the master of all things family: Disney! Aulani Resort is located on the west coast of Oahu, and is Disney's first and only resort not connected to one of its theme parks. Since it's been open for several months now, they've had a chance to work out many of the kinks, making 2012 the perfect time to visit. Young families will love this beautiful 21-acre oceanfront resort, which has an awesome water park, complete with zero-entry pool and lazy river, as well as a super-cool snorkeling pool right on the property called Rainbow Reef. There's also a kids' club and a variety of family-centric activities scheduled day and night.
Of course, Disney is by no means the only reason to visit Oahu. This island offers so much above and beyond Aulani. Try snorkeling in the world-famous Hanauma Bay, lounging on the beautiful beaches, or visiting attractions like the Waikiki Aquarium and the USS Arizona Memorial.
10. The Grand Canyon
The southwestern United States is home to one of the most awesome landscapes in the world: The Grand Canyon. For those who have yet to visit this spectacular national park, it's located in the northwest corner of Arizona, close to the borders of Utah and Nevada. It's an area of the country you must see at least once in your lifetime, and it's super family friendly. Like many of the country's national parks, the Grand Canyon offers the Junior Ranger program for kids 4 to 14. Children can pick up an activity booklet at the visitor center and complete a series of activities and assignments to receive their very own Junior Ranger Badge at the end of their visit.
For 17 days in 2012, admission to Grand Canyon National Park (along with more than 100 of the country's other national parks) will be free. The free days are: Jan. 14 to 16 (Martin Luther King Jr. weekend); April 21 to 29 (National Park Week); June 9 (Get Outdoors Day); Sept. 29 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 10 to 12 (Veterans Day weekend).
Looking to make an affordable vacation even more budget-friendly? Stay at Yavapai Lodge on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and kids 16 and under are free.
By Travel + Leisure Staff Appeared as "25 Secret Island Escapes" in T+L Magazine
Hollywood scouts were on to something when they skipped over Mykonos and chose a secret island in Greece as the location for Mamma Mia. The movie was a $600-million hit, in part because it fueled peoples’ fantasies of escaping to a secluded island (and yes, those catchy ABBA tunes didn’t hurt). Surprisingly, that picture-perfect movie location, Skopelos, has stayed under the radar. When you hop off the ferry, you’ll be wowed by the view of the shimmering Aegean Sea, the island’s tile-roofed tavernas, and a decided lack of travelers.
There are still gems like Skopelos hidden all around the globe, if you know where to look. T+L editors have done the hunting for you to uncover secret islands where you can truly unwind, from the rugged Chilean spot that inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe to a tiny island in the Caribbean that was virtually deserted for decades until a luxe resort opened in 2010.
Similar high-end resorts have been popping up across Southeast Asia, where many islands are vying to be the next Phuket. So those looking to get far off the grid head to Con Dao, an archipelago 110 miles off Vietnam’s southeastern coast. Sheer granite cliffs border deserted beaches and crystal-blue water, and a private guide can lead you by motorbike to remote spots like the spectacular Dam Tre Bay lagoon.
Diving enthusiasts should opt instead for the secret island of Mabul, off the northeastern coast of Malaysia, where the marine life is on a par with the Galapagos. Even better, the native sea moths, bobtail squids, and elusive paintpot cuttlefish are some of the only inhabitants.
Travelers looking to commune with nature can also find solitude on Nicaragua’s acre-wide Jicaro Island on freshwater Lake Nicaragua. The nine casitas at Jicaro Island Ecolodge were built from storm-felled trees, and all the food is locally sourced; you can sip a passion-fruit-banana cocktail as you sit by the infinity pool.
Prefer something closer to home? On Washington’s Lummi Island, a nine-square-mile oasis on Puget Sound, you can sample the region’s bounty (net-caught salmon, spot prawns) while watching orcas ply the waters.
Whatever your daydream, you’ll find a destination to match by checking out our slideshow of secret islands around the world.
Read More @:
Dicks Cottons is an accessories and clothing brand that celebrates those who enjoy life, tell stories, and love partying with friends. They’ve created comfortable, fun, and attention grabbing sunglasses. Combining ultimate comfort and style, their gear is versatile enough for the beach, parties, and all of your stories in between.
be happy. live comfortably.
Who is Dicks Cottons? Dicks Cottons first got its start making t-shirts to help promote their friend Mike Burke’s music on Cape Cod. The shirts sold out in one day, so founder Rich “Dikkie” Amundson, who’s grandfather “Dick” owned an eye wear store for 40 years, continued to design custom clothing and sunglasses for friends. With the goal of making sure each product matched their group’s lifestyle of having fun, being happy and living comfortably, Dicks Cottons was born.
In 2009, Rich began taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and living a life similar to the cast on HBO’s hit show How to Make it in America. Dicks Cottons products became staples for every trip he and his friends went on, and demand grew quickly from friends, to friends of friends, to strangers, and eventually celebrities.
With the release of the 20ten sunglasses line in April 2010, Rich decided it was time to pursue his dream full-time. With a lot of hard work and help from their fans word of mouth marketing and celebrity love, Rich is bringing Dicks Cottons to the forefront of lifestyle brands.
This post was inspired by the documentary The Disappearing Male (2008) which highlights the frightening facts around how our society - particularly men - are being chemically castrated as a result of the poor regulations surounding the chemical and plastic industries. Since just about everything we touch, eat, surround ourselves with is petroleum-based plastics these days, this video is even more alarming and relevant. After I shared the video on my personal facebook wall a buddy of mine suggested via text that he "live in a tee pee only using animal hides for blankets and let my kids can play with squirrels for pets..." He continued, "The government is so corrupt. Aliens are real too" (we won't even start down that rabbit whole).
Watch this short (45min) documentary regardless of whether you are of the male or female disposition (and if you are anywhere in between, well, this documentary would say its because of chemicals that caused your gender ambiguity).
Link to download documentary: http://www.archive.org/details/TheDisappearingMale-CBC
4 Practical Ways to Not Lose Yer Nuts
My main criticism of this video (and many other documentaries like it) is that it leaves little-to-no suggestions for how to remedy this epidemic and the supsequent poisoning of the masses. In essence it is saying: "Here is this huge problem. But we have no practical or implementable answers for you on how to remedy it - so you are all pretty much ef-ed."
I took it upon myself to think of some practical and implementable ways that I could lessen the chemical impact plastics have in my life and on my balls. Here are the top 4 ways you can make a change in your own life that may have a significant impact on the amounts of chemicals you are polluting your body with:
Eat as close to nature as possible. If you are unwilling or unable to hunt and trap your meat, and grow your own crops then begin building your daily and weekly menus around eating as if you are. Stay to the outside of the grocery store - where there is fresh produce and meats, etc. Though these aren't entirely fool-proof ways of reducing your use of plastics and their subsequent toxins that leach into foods, comparitively they are much better than buying highly processed foods that have long shelflives where they sit for months in said plastic packaging. Stop microwaving/cooking in petroleum based plastic containers. If you are a bachelor like myself, or simply do not like to take the time to re-heat food in the oven, then you most likely store and re-heat food in plastic containers like ZipLock or Tuperware. Try replacing these food containers with glass or ceramic ones for a more effective way of cooking, storing, and re-heating your food. Ditch the bottled water. Here is just one more reason to ditch bottled water and a grab BPA-free one to refill. I recently grabbed the Brita's new BPA-free Filtered Water Bottle and I feel my sperm count growing as we speak. (For even more of a compelling argument against the use of bottled water - find the documentary Flow: How did a handful of corporations steal our water? at your local library or on Amazon)
Don't shower. Ever. Okay this really isnt that practical, unless you want to be that guy (or girl) that smells like a mixture of pee and Aqua Velva. So try bar soap - handmade or organic is prefered. I recon the bar soap has got to be better when stacked next to the body washes that are packaged, warehoused, and spend most of thier lifespan in plastic bottles. I still haven't figured out a way to ditch the shampoo bottle though. My only thought is "Go Bic or Go Home"...but I have a weird shaped dome, so I'll stick to my Head 'n Shoulders for now.
All my life I've been conditioned to think that soap, shampoo, water, juice, cans of food, milk and dairy, and everything else packaged or hermetically sealed was clean and safe because it was packaged and sealed in plastic - but its just the opposite. It is these very products being sealed in petroleum based plastics that are chemically castrating the masses! All this can be summed up with a great song - one of my childhood favs - Everything You Know is Wrong by Weird Al Yankovich (video below)...
Resources mentioned in this post:
5 Great Winter BEACH Getaways
WHERE Grand Cayman
WHY The Ritz-Carlton drafted the equivalent of the NBA Dream Team for its new Grand Cayman resort, scheduled to debut this month. The starting lineup: celebrity chef Eric Ripert, opening two restaurants (one formal, one casual); champion golfer Greg Norman, designing an environmentally sensitive nine-hole course along a saltwater lagoon; explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, running an aquatic education program; and legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, presiding over the courts. As if that weren't enough, La Prairie was also brought in to create a 20,000-square-foot spa—one of the largest in the Caribbean—featuring treatments inspired by the tropical setting.
HOW Seven Mile Beach; 800/241-3333 or 345/943-9000; www.ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $699.
WHY Celebrate three holidays in one aboard the Crystal Serenity. The special 14-day cruise departs December 21, sailing round-trip from Los Angeles to Mexico's Paciﬁc coast with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and La Paz. The itinerary incorporates a wide range of festivities and adventures—from a Hanukkah dinner (complete with latkes and matzoh-ball soup) and Christmas-tree lighting, to a zip-line adventure in the Sierra Madre mountains, to a Bloody Mary brunch on New Year's Day.
HOW 800/804-1500; www.crystalcruises.com; from $6,245 per person, all-inclusive.
WHERE Southern Maine Coast
WHY York Beach is even more atmospheric off-season—its deserted boardwalks, shuttered arcades, and often misty shores are perfect (albeit chilly) for walks in the salty air, with only intrepid seagulls for company. Just down the shore, the historic Cape Neddick lighthouse is at its most photogenic, shrouded in snow; in nearby Kennebunkport, Santa Claus arrives by lobster boat during the annual Christmas Prelude (December 1–11). Warm your beachcombing toes before a ﬂagstone fireplace in one of the three Arts & Crafts–style Wharf Cottages at the White Barn Inn.
HOW 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunkport; 207/967-2321; whitebarninn.com; cottages from $525.
WHERE Paradise Island
WHY Watching movies from a beach chair just might be the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Designed for cinéastes and snowbirds alike, the Bahamas International Film Festival (December 8–11) showcases more than 50 films from around the world, including features, shorts, and documentaries, with a special category for Caribbean productions. Screenings of films such as the underwater documentary Deep Blue and Turtles Can Fly, an Iraqi war drama, take place not only in theaters but also, after sunset, on the sand. Plus, director Spike Lee will be in attendance as this year's honoree for career achievement.
HOW www.bintlfilmfest.com. Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort, 888/528-7155 or 242/363-3000; www.atlantis.com; doubles from $270.
WHERE Ambergris Cay, Belize
WHY Get away from it all at Azul, a secluded, two-villa beach resort opened this year by a pair of expats from San Francisco. Located six miles north of San Pedro on one of the island's most idyllic stretches of sand, the property's meticulously crafted open-plan villas combine modern perks (plasma TV's, Viking kitchens) with rustic design elements (bamboo railings, cabinets carved from ziricote wood). Take a dip in the rooftop hot tub overlooking the jungle and use the old-school walkie-talkies to summon frozen mojitos from Rojo Lounge, Azul's beach bar.
HOW North Beach, San Pedro, Ambergris Cay; 011-501/226-4012; www.azulbelize.com; doubles from $695.
(Photo by BURNBLUE)
We all feel it - the busy and fast pace of summer is finally calming down with fall on the horizon. The water skis and wake boards are getting hung up. The summer party blitz of weddings and graduations are slowing down. Coronas and Landsharks are taking up less real estate at the grocers. And the lackadaisical feeling that accompanies crisp afternoons of college football is spreading faster than a cold in a kindergarten class. But who says that the celebrations need to stop completely? ...I guess no one says that. Soooo, why not grab a handful of your close friends who you actually enjoy spending quality time with and throw a fall celebration. What makes the perfect fall party? Here are a few suggestions to get those Autumn vibes flowin':
- Pumpkin carving - try turning this into some type of contest even. (click here for some cool patterns)
- Seasonal biers and ales - so many options. (click here for a list of the "Top 10 Fall Beers")
- Hot Cider (hard and/or non-alcoholic)
- Bonefire with s'mores
- Toasted Pumpkin seeds - use the ones from the pumpkins you carved. (recipe here)
- Chili or soup "pot-luck" - get creative, but keep it simple...i.e. don't kill yourself making this, let the guests help or bring their own.
- ANOTHER GREAT IDEA - Have all guests bring toys around $10 worth of kids toys to put together and wrap gift boxes for less fortunate kids around the holiday time. Operation Christmas Child is a great venue to do this with, but I am sure ther are some other charities as well that are just as good.
Below is the invite email I used...feel free to copy & paste to save yourself the trouble of word-smithing your own.
Righteous Broheims and Muchachas,
We have decided on a firm tentative Saturday, [INSERT DATE] for the first annual Autumn Festivus. Activities include (but are not limited to):
- Pumpkin Carving - BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin)
- Chili - we will be making some, and feel free to bring a crock of your own for some variety
- Seasonal biers and ales
- Hot cider - both "hard" and non-alcoholic; we will experiment with different ones
- Bonfire and s'mores to wrap up the evening (or just get it started, depending on your disposition)
- Great fellowship with friends - old and new.
Feel free to contribute in any of the above areas in whichever ways your heart desires (food, drink, balloon animals, carving tools, etc). Bringing a date is not necessary, however one will not be provided for you if you chose not to bring one. You may also invite friends - no nerds though. We are thinking of kicking off around 5:30pm-ish at my house...feel free to forward.
As always - flannel is not only welcome, it is encouraged.
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