The most mind-blowing motorcycle trips

Motorcycle owners fit into several different categories according to how they use their bikes. Some live for the thrill of high speed races, stunts and off-road riding. Others like more leisurely, often long-distances journeys, taking in the great outdoors and the open road. Some people are sternly utilitarian – they use their motorbike to get them to work or school and back, and that’s it. Others fall in love with an image or a lifestyle. Then there are those who join biker gangs or become motorcycle hooligans.

Many bikers quickly become so attached to their bikes that they find it difficult to imagine themselves existing without them. They enjoy their time with the bike more than any other. Sometimes these people decide to quit their jobs, sell their homes and hit the road with their bikes for a life of adventure – a never ending journey in the saddle.

One such fearless adventurer is the Argentine Emilio Scotto. Back in 1985, he was living his life as an unremarkable salesman. He’d barely ever left his hometown and didn’t own a passport. One day he got home from work, thoroughly fed up and started to wonder whether he was wasting his life. He didn’t make much money, he was single, he hadn’t experienced anything remarkable in his life and he was just going through the daily grind, over and over, knocking the years off his life.

The following day, Scotto submitted his passport application documents, packed a small bag and set off on his five-year-old Honda Goldwing. After riding around Argentina for a few weeks, he picked up his passport and crossed an international border for the first time in his life. He had $300 in his pocket, no map, no plan, no contacts – just his trusty bike and the open road.

It wasn’t until ten years later that Scotto set foot in Argentina again. During his absence he had traveled over 500,000 miles, through 280 countries, including war-torn Nicaragua, Liberia and Iraq. He personally met Pope John Paul II and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. He got married in India. His adventure began to attract global media attention and Scotto featured in publications such as the New York Times. This attention helped him to secure sponsorship from corporate giants such as Pepsi. These funds were added to when Scotto returned to Argentina and received millions on the publication of his book about his travels. He showed the world that one man and his trusty bike really can conquer the world – he quit his job, saw the world, found love and made himself a millionaire in the process.

Emilio Scotto is by no means the only person to embark on this type of adventure. Several years later, 21-year-old Zenith Irfan stepped out of her front door in Lahore, Pakistan – a place so conservative that women are actively discouraged from even leaving their homes by themselves – mounted her Honda C70 and embarked on a 2000-mile journey around the stunning mountains and less-traveled roads of rural Pakistan. Her journey took her to Kashmir, the Swat Valley and the Chinese border. Her motorcycle gave her the freedom that so many other women like her craved, but couldn’t grasp.

The accomplishments of Emilio Scotto and Zenith Irfan show the rest of us that you don’t already need to be a millionaire, or have a network of contacts in order to be able to let your motorbike change your life. If you’ve found yourself wondering why you keep waking up every day, making your way to work and slaving away all day, only to be counting the pennies at the end of each month, you might eventually decide that it’s time to start living and take a leaf out of each of Emilio and Zenith’s books.

A little bit of cash, a helmet, the right boots, jacket (see for some great ideas) and protective clothing, your bike, along with an open mind are all you need to change your life forever. If you’re reluctant to go the whole hog right away, start off with long weekend rides to new places. Try to get away for a couple of weeks – cross an international frontier, and then let your heart decide whether you really want to go back or not.

Robots stealing jobs

Ever since Ned Ludd took it upon himself to smash a couple of stocking frames, people have been fearful of technological contraptions which threaten to take away their jobs. In fact, the Luddites were right in this belief – ever since the dawn of the industrial revolution, humans have gradually lost ground in the job market against robots. Factories which were once crammed with people working day and night for the big industrialists, are now lightly staffed with humans – the majority of physical work is done by their robots, which are infinitely superior than humans at their particular jobs.

This, of course, is a trend that is not going to disappear. For many people, this is quite a scary idea. Some imagine a life of unemployed misery, as they are slowly replaced by robots – from factory workers to flight attendants. To others, this is a welcome and overdue development.

The idea of people selling their time and labor en masse, in return for wages, was considered degrading and regrettable by the leading lights of early industrial times – Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln. Before the industrial revolution, people were encouraged to learn a skill and master it over the years – that way they could provide a useful service or product for which they could charge a fee. The idea of simply going to work every day, for a set number of hours, and having nothing to show for it (except for the measly wages) was considered by Smith to be degrading for humans. He wrote that such labor means the worker “becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become”.

In recent years, we have seen the accessibility of education reach a huge percentage of the population. These days, anyone who has an internet connection, can learn skills online, such as software development or a foreign language – for free. There are also more and more skill-sharing groups with a more practical focus, for carpenters, mechanics, gardeners and so on. It is in these fields, where humans can still outperform robots, through art, creativity and nuanced knowledge, that we will find the jobs of the future. Even better – once you have a marketable skill, it’s easier than ever to set up in business on your own. You don’t need a boss and you don’t need to be a boss – this eliminates the wasteful management class of people from your life entirely.

As someone whose skills are sought after, you won’t have to sell your labor and time for mere wages. The market and your quality of workmanship will be the main factors which determine how much money you make. The days of working two or three jobs to make ends meet will be long gone.

Just as industry has embraced the use of robots, you too can make the most of robots in your personal life, to free up time from the mundane tasks of everyday life, which keep you from your work, your family and your passions. In fact, the chances are that you already do this to a certain extent – you may use a dishwasher, a washing machine, a kettle, along with other contraptions that you can trust to do simple jobs for you unsupervised.

The future of robots means you can extend the range of jobs they do for you. At Vacuum Fox you can find robots that will vacuum your house for you. There are robots which will mow your lawn for you – once you’ve shown it how to do it right, that’s it – the robot will mow your lawn periodically, choosing times during the day when it knows you’re not around. Once it’s done, it returns to its storage space to recharge. There are few limits to what robots can do for you in this day and age – if you really wanted not to lift a finger for yourself during the whole day, you can find robots to do everything for you. So, rather than be afraid of the rise of the robots, it makes more sense to embrace it. Robots lift the burden off of human shoulders, and free us up to live more fulfilling and free lives.

Treats for when you run out of smoothie recipes

Taking care of your health is important, we can all understand that. If you’re unhealthy it becomes more difficult to make a living, take care of yourself and those around you. You could become a liability or die early, leaving behind people who need you. If you don’t take care of yourself for yourself, you should do it for other people.

One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to make sure that you eat well. In the modern world, despite all our technological advancements, it’s still not all that easy as you might hope to eat well. Food is everywhere but it’s processed and treated, full of additives and hidden chemicals. As a result of this, people who want to eat healthily often keep it simple and go with organic produce in its raw form – raw onions, carrots, potatoes, kale and so on. This is great, but it’s also not all that convenient – a carrot can take a long time to eat and still leave you feeling hungry. So people came up with smoothies. You can basically mix all your raw ingredients together with water, yogurt, soy milk etc. and drink it when it’s done. This also means that you can carry it with you and drink it on the go. It’s not an alternative to eating, it’s just convenient.

The thing is with the super healthy smoothies is that they can get a bit boring. There are thousands of recipes out there, all with different variations on the amount and types of kale, lime, apple and onion you should use, but after a few months of trying them all out, it can get boring. It’s the equivalent of having a sandwich menu with only choices like Lettuce Sandwich, Cucumber Sandwich and Cabbage Sandwich, and having to choose one every day.

What often happens, is that people fall off the raw, green, smoothie bandwagon. Big time. They go from sipping on a broccoli and fennel smoothie to pigging out on a bacon triple stilton and cheddar cheeseburger served with jalapeno poppers, fries, mac and cheese and followed by a triple chocolate brownie cheesecake, ice cream and maple syrup. And they chug their way through a couple liters of cola while they’re at it.

So, in order to stop people from falling so hard from the wagon, and enabling them to clamber back on quite easily, it’s worth trying out a slightly less healthful smoothie every once in a while. You don’t have to do it every day, but you won’t feel as guilty about it and the following day you can just carry on as normal, with your normal ingredients.

So, what kind of ingredients really work for a ‘taking a break from it all’ smoothie?

A really great recipe you should try is called the ‘Fresh Banana Breeze’. First, you’ll need a whole load of apples. Just kidding – you’ll need a banana, a cup of half and half milk, ¼ liter of chocolate syrup and a couple ice cubes. Mix this up in your food mixer (, if you haven’t already got one) and chug it down for breakfast. If you really want to kick back, you could serve it up over a couple of delicious waffles.

For those with more of a savory palate, you might just want to try the ‘Invigorator’:
For this one you’ll need to do a little bit of preparation before the mixing. Fry some ground beef, bacon, chillies, pepperoni, onions and garlic and throw in some chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Once they’re done, put them in a bowl. Now cook yourself some mac and cheese (with plenty of cheese), and, once it’s done, add it to the other ingredients in the bowl. Now stir in a cup of half and half milk and crack in four pasteurized eggs. Now it’s ready to be mixed up into a delicious savory smoothie, which will give you the taste of forbidden foods, but help you remember that you’re still drinking a smoothie – and therefore you shouldn’t feel too guilty about it.

You can make your own smoothie recipes, too, if you want to. Just remember to stick to food safety and hygiene guidelines.

Worthwhile products to make your life easier

How many times have you looked around your home and wondered why you bought half of the items cluttering it up? You probably have several versions of the same object taking up room when only one would do – perhaps you have three or four dresser mirrors, or a number of cabinets with no real purpose, being used as storage for junk you’d forgotten you had. A lot of it might be gifts people have given you. After all, it’s ever so easy to pass off junk in wrapping paper as a gift, instead of outing real effort and thought into giving a gift. All of these things need cleaning, too.

The next time you feel the urge to go out shopping, make a promise to yourself that you won’t bring home any junk. How will you know if it’s junk? Well, if it ends up lost in a cupboard, you forget you had it or nobody uses it a year after getting it, it’ probably junk. Don’t blow your money. Instead, spend it on something that you will get good use out of, something that will save you time and effort, something you’ll appreciate for a long time to come.

If you have a lawn, and you’ve had it for a while, the joys of mowing it every week or two may have begun to die down, especially when it’s cold or if it rains when you start. You want to have a nice lawn and so you begin to accept mowing it as a chore. It’s just another pointless task on which you continue to waste minutes and hours that you’ll never get back. If your children aren’t yet old enough to be trusted with the mower, why not invest in an intelligent mower – a robot which you can teach to mow the lawn and then let it take over mowing duties without any need for prompting from you, and requiring minimal maintenance. There are a few such robots on the market now, that can definitely make your life easier.

Another such purchase which can save you a lot of time and effort, but won’t, unfortunately, do the work entirely on its own, is a pressure washer. Perhaps you slave away washing your car with a sponge and a bucket? Or maybe you waste water by trying to wash it with a hose? Or do you throw money away by taking it down to the car wash every time a bird decides to use it for target practice? A pressure washer is a more effective and less time consuming solution. And it’s not just your car you can use it on: your fence, the exterior of your home, your grill, the garage, clearing unwanted insect nests, the patio, your deck and your boat can all be washed more thoroughly and more easily with a pressure washer. You just need to take a look at Wash Wisely to check out the range of possibilities.

The gadgets that could save you the most time are things you probably already have: a smartphone and a laptop. These two devices have eliminated the need for all other kinds of products, from maps to MP3 players, recipe books to accounting books. Access to the internet has revolutionized our daily lives, and the revolution goes on. You can save yourself time by ordering your groceries and other items online, to be delivered at a convenient time. You can save yourself the effort of holding up a newspaper and squinting at the articles, trying to find something of interest to read. Instead, you can tell your phone what kind of news you’d like to get and have it read it to you as you sip on the coffee that another machine just made for you.

You don’t have to find gadgets or ways to replace everything you do around the house, though. There are some tasks which you probably enjoy doing. You need to feel useful. Some tasks are better left unautomated so that they can be used to teach your children skills and discipline. If there is ever a Star Trek-style food replicator invented, one thing is for sure: its food will never taste as good as the home made version with that special ingredient – love.

What makes the Great British Bake off so great

This piece is going to be somewhat of an educational essay for our cousins across the Atlantic in America. By the end of it you will be familiar with and up to date with the most popular programme on British TV. It is a slightly left field choice and I don’t quite know myself how it has become so popular, but it ahs and we are all just going to have to deal with it.

What would you say are some of the most quintessentially British things there are? Having 15 cups of tea a day, watching the original (and obviously much better) version of football, and having fish and chips on the seaside are all up there with our favourite past times but a big and rather underrated one is baking. Up and down the country people love to bake cakes. Whether it be your nan for the local school fate, your brother for his football team or even just yourself for the fun of it, us Brits love to bake. But then things changed and they changed drastically. This programme made its way onto our screens and ever since people have been attempting to bake things that are well out of their range of abilities. It is exactly the same scenario as you see in every nightclub up and down the country every day of the year. Some poor incredibly average looking male with go in there thinking he has a shot with the 10 out of 10 girl who is standing at the bar. He chances his arm and goes to talk to her, trying to ask her to dance. She flat out rejects him and it is an embarrassing situation for all involved. This is the best analogy I could think of to accurately describe peoples baking efforts since The Great British Bake Off came to the forefront of the publics thinking.

People should be sticking to making simple cupcakes and Victoria sponges, but instead they are visiting websites like Stand Mixer Discount to find fancy new told to use in their kitchen and tackling things that I did not even know existed until I watched an episode. Humans who have never so much as tried to cook a packet of fries before are attempting to create triple tier pavlova cakes with a drizzle of honey accompanied by a side of profiteroles and they always go horribly wrong. The shows resident master bakers (be careful how you say that) are two very different people. Mary Berry could be anyone’s grandmother. She has a kindly looking face and can pull cakes out of places you didn’t even know were there. Paul Hollywood on the other hand is a man who is even smugger than his own name suggests he should be. Rumour has it that if you look into his eyes you will become a mirror perfect reflection of  himself, purely so he has something else to love as much as he does his own body. That being said, both of them are very good at their jobs and are about the only people in Britain who can pull of some of these extravagant cake creations.

Nobody really knows why this programme has become as popular as it has. The whole premise is based upon watching other people cook and in my mind that should be one of the most boring things ever done by man. But, weirdly it isn’t. I think the fun in this show is watching when other people fail. Now I know that that sounds mean but it is a fact of life. If you got the chance to watch someone’s soggy bottom fall out and then get berated for their peaks not being tall and firm enough then I’m sure you would love it as well. Something I should have mentioned is that the programme is also filled with innuendoes but that is story for another day. Bake Off is a weird phenomenon. It is something that shouldn’t be good but it is. I would therefore like to state on the record that all Americans should watch the programme and see which weird baking creations it inspires you to come up with. I can’t guarantee that it will make you good, but it will certainly liven up your time in the kitchen!

How to ditch your car for good

Millions of people dream of never having to drive again – saying goodbye to traffic jams, speeding tickets, parking fines, searching for parking spaces, inconsiderate and rude road users, dangerous driving conditions, accidents, gasoline prices, car insurance, theft and road tax. Public transportation systems vary from the excellent to the non-existent, and even the best of them involve an amount of walking and waiting around.

There are, however, alternatives to using the car which work in every situation. If you’re really serious about getting out from behind the wheel, you might want to consider one of these solutions:

Beijing, the capital city of China, was once known as the Kingdom of Bicycles. The bicycle was the standard means of short to medium-distance transportation for everyone who was capable of using one. They were reasonably cheap to get hold of, very cheap to run and were unlikely to be stolen. The flatness of the city also gave riders the added bonus of not having to negotiate hills on their daily commute either. All of this started to change in the 1980s, when the opening up of China’s economy saw huge growth and the availability of foreign made cars. A car became, at first, a status symbol, and then shortly after, a sign of having joined the middle class. It didn’t take long for flow of bicycles to be replaced by a jam of automobiles that even Beijing’s wide boulevards couldn’t cope with.

As a result, the bicycle is now making a major comeback in the Chinese capital. As in London and Amsterdam, the city government has introduced a free bike scheme and people are jumping back onto the saddle in the hope of avoiding the long jams of cars. If you live in an area where the roads are suitable for bicycle travel, or if there are dedicated cycle lanes, you might wonder why you ever bothered with the car in the first place, just as many Beijingers are doing today.

If you’re worried that riding a bicycle to work might just be too much effort – perhaps you have a heavy briefcase or you live in a particularly hilly area. Don’t worry, you don’t need to start searching again for your car keys. You can still ride a bike to work, only this time make it an ebike. They’re something like half-bicycle, half-motorbike in the way they ride. The more powerful ones can get you to your destination quicker than a typical motorscooter or motorbike, with the advantage that they are not usually barred from using cycle lanes, as motorbikes and scooters often are. Add to this the fact that you don’t need to stop to fill up on gasoline, and saving money in your pocket, you can simply recharge the ebike’s battery at home and when you arrive at work.

If you find yourself using the car to make lots of short journeys, for example if you work on a university campus or a spread-out resort complex, the bicycle or ebike would seem to give you a good solution to your problem. However, bicycles and ebikes take up space and can be cumbersome. It’s not much fun having to carry an ebike up a flight of steps. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, you might want to consider getting an electric skateboard. They are lightweight and easy to carry around, but can get you to where you want to go at speeds of over 20mph, without any of the hassle of parking when you get there.

It also becomes a lot easier to get around large cities using public transport with a little help from an electric skateboard. From your doorstep, hop on the electric skateboard and find yourself flying past those who decided to walk, and those who are stuck in traffic jams. When you get to the train station, simply put your board under your arm and board the train without bothering anyone – unlike the commuters who are struggling to bring their collapsible bicycles onto the already over-crowded train. Once you get off at your stop, simply hop back onto the board and let it carry you all the way to your destination. You’ll have no problem carrying it in elevators or escalators once you get there.