Friday, March 29, 2013

Personal Security Device - Gear Review

Whether I'm strolling around my NYC neighborhood, traveling domestically, or visiting a far-flung land, personal safety is always a concern. Being a savvy traveler, especially as a woman traveling alone, means always being aware of your surroundings and sizing up those around you. I'm often asked to talk or blog about women's travel safety tips that include dressing culturally correct, avoiding hotel rooms on the first floor, and checking the elevator before you get in. Because I'm so focused on travel safety and security, that's why I decided to review and highly recommend a new personal security app: LifeLine Response.
Available for the iPhone or Android, LifeLine Response is unique among personal security devices. If you're about to be attacked – and, as we know from news reports over the past 12 months or so, assaults against women are on the rise in the U.S., especially on college campuses – you need something that doesn't require you to do a whole lot to prevent the attack from taking place. After all, when attacked, your mind may go blank or you may not have time to push a button on an alarm, take out pepper spray, fumble while trying to dial 911, or even open up an app on your phone. Enter LifeLine Response that launched in September 2012.
When it's set on “Thumb Mode,” it operates like a “dead-man's switch. In other words, your thumb comes off your smartphone's touch pad – as would surely happen with an attempted assault – and the countdown starts. (If your thumb accidentally came off your phone's screen, you can still enter a deactivation code.) But, if it's a real attack and you don't enter the proper code, the process is set in motion, no matter if the phone is confiscated by your attacker. The result: an alarm sounds and a male voice “Lawrence” announces that the police have been contacted and are on the way. LifeLine Response's verification center will contact you to find out if it's really an emergency. If you're being forced to say everything is fine, when it's not, you can enter the silent alarm code, instead of the deactivation code. The attacker will think you've disarmed the app. What they don't realize is that entering the silent alarm code or not responding at all tells the center that it's truly an emergency and they will call local 911 who will have your location based on GPS coordinates. In addition, all your contacts (life lines that you had entered into the system initially) will be alerted with a text message and your GPS coordinates. And, if you're a college student, the system can alert campus security.
This “Thumb Mode” is perfect if you're just walking to your hotel, for example. But if you plan to go jogging for an hour or so, you can set it to “Timer Mode” so that you're not forced to holding your thumb on the screen. Again, if you don't use your disarm security code, the alarm will go off with the same results as above.
I recently conducted an interview with Peter Cahill, the CEO and Founder of LifeLife Response. Here's what he told me:
It took two years to develop a prototype. We want to empower people to prevention. There's an epidemic of assaults in the U.S., with with one in four women and one in 15 men assaulted every day. The idea of LifeLife Response is to prevent the attack from happening. We developed it with psychologists. And we also spoke with prison inmates - pedophiles, rapists - to find out what would scare them. We found that 40% to 50% of attackers will leave if they hear an alarm, and 40% to 55% will leave if they hear a voice. We're trying to get 99% of the attackers. With LifeLine Response, if you're attacked, we will know where you are and the police will be there. The lifelines are part of the redundancy. We know your lifelines will not wait to act. With other products on the market, you have to press a button on your phone, or dial 911. It's just not realistic.You can't react responsibly during an assault, unless you're trained. So we take the thinking out of it. All you need to know is your four-digit code. We are the 21st Century 911.
I feel strongly that women, men and teens living or traveling in the U.S. should seriously think about getting this app on their smartphone. There's no reason not to. Cost? It's not free but the cost is minimal (a one-year subscription is $21.99) especially considering the risk. Pocket phone? Cahill says false alarms are 0.00002%. Visit the website and see how it works. You'll be impressed with its sophistication, as I was.
continue reading "Personal Security Device - Gear Review"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Winners of High-Tech Sunscreen Giveaway

We have the three winners of the high-tech (and expensive) sunscreen that I'm giving away. Congratulations to Pat, Roxanne Hawn and Ellen Burke. (I hope you all enjoy using this product for ultimate UV protection whether you're hanging out in your neighborhood or traveling to far-flung lands.) Pat, Roxanne and Ellen will each receive a bottle of Anthelios 50 mineral manufactured by the same company whose product I recommend in my travel tips e-book.

Thanks to everyone for entering this sweepstakes that I blogged about here.

continue reading "Winners of High-Tech Sunscreen Giveaway"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cuba - Choral Music Video

In the bayside town of Cienfuegos, there's plenty to get excited about, whether the waterfront promenade that's perfect for jogging or the petite sculpture garden across the street featuring contemporary, and sometimes whimsical, works in various media. A giant dragonfly fashioned out of metal wire and a crimson hued rhinoceros are just two of more than a dozen creative pieces that beckon to be inspected. (Curious that so few people visit this artistic enclave.)

But, perhaps the most enthralling thing about Cienfuegos was my visit to the Museo Historico Provincial one evening to attend the performance of Cantores de Cienfuegos, a versatile, 23-member choral group. Under the direction of Honey Moreira Abreu, who became their conductor originally as part of Cuba's required community service and loved it so much that she stayed on, the choir has an eclectic repertoire, singing everything from Renaissance to Japanese fisherman's folk music.

Listening to them even for a few moments, you can't help be impressed. But it's no wonder they can perform at this stellar level: they practice for three hours every day. In fact, singing in the choir is their job -- though some may take on a second job -- with the oldest member performing with them for 20+ years and the youngest, a mere five months. 
continue reading "Cuba - Choral Music Video"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Super Sunscreen - Gear Review + Sweepstakes

As you may know if you read my travel tips e-book, I am all about ultra sun protection, especially if you'll be cycling, skiing, or hiking all day, as I often do. The company that makes the sunscreen I wrote about, Anthelios with Mexoryl SX, also manufactures a product that's perfect for everyday use (because it blends in so well) and for those who want a physical, rather than a chemical, sunblock. Let me introduce you to Anthelios 50 Mineral.
Its main ingredient is titanium dioxide that, in other products, usually gives you a ghostly opaque appearance. Not with this product, if you blend it in properly. Plus, it doesn't feel greasy or heavy and absorbs well. Yet, you'll get plenty of protection (the SPF is 50) from both UVA and UVB, which contribute to skin cancer and skin aging. 

In addition, the product contains antioxidants -- they are plant derived -- which add another layer of skin protection since the sun's rays also lead to the production of damaging free radicals in the skin.

When I've tried some other sunscreen products on the market, I found that they would contribute to me breaking out or they would irritate my skin. That was not the case with Anthelios 50 Mineral.

Sure, the retail price for this product is steep: around $30 or so. But, I'm holding a sweepstakes where three people could each win a bottle of Anthelios 50 Mineral. All you have to do is post here where you would love to travel to use the sunscreen. And include your email address, twitter handle or FB info. (Please do not post your mailing address.) I'll randomly draw the winners and contact those who won. The contest ends midnight, March 17, 2013.

It's only open to those 18 years old, and who have a U.S. mailing address. 


continue reading "Super Sunscreen - Gear Review + Sweepstakes"