World’s first energy-positive hotel planned for Arctic Circle

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When approaching the Helgeland coastline, in northern Norway, you can’t miss the Svartisen glacier spilling down the side of Almlifjellet mountain.

Below, the gin-clear Holandsfjorden fjord — an extension of the Norwegian Sea — reflects the blue-toned mountain like a mirror.

It’s in this unspoiled environment that you’ll find Svart, which aims to be the world’s first energy-positive hotel when it opens in 2021.

Designed by international architecture firm Snøhetta and owned by Arctic Adventure of Norway and real estate company MIRIS, the futuristic circular retreat will harness geothermal and solar energy to produce a surplus of solar power that can be redirected back to the grid.

“Nature in the Arctic is fragile and pristine. We have to respect the natural beauty of the site and not ruin what makes Svartisen an attraction in the first place,” says Zenul Khan, Snøhetta’s Svart project manager.

 “By creating such a sustainable building, we aim to encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism by making people conscious about the way we experience exotic locations.”

Question: Do you think that we should try to create more structures like this or do you think we should leave nature as it is and stop building? What is the best way to preserve nature in your opinion?

Elon Musk: Mars rocket will fly ‘short flights’ next year

Elon Musk issued yet another incredibly ambitious timeline. During a Q&A at the SXSW festival on Sunday, Musk said SpaceX will be ready to fly its Mars rocket in 2019.

“We are building the first ship, or interplanetary ship, right now,” Musk said. “And we’ll probably be able to do short flights, short up and down flights, during the first half of next year.”

Musk said last year that his Mas rocket, called BFR or Big Falcon Rocket, could one day fly people from city to city on Earth in incredibly short time spans, touting that it would take 30 minutes to hop from New York to Shanghai.

He said at the time that he hopes a BFR will land on Mars in 2022, and the first missions will send cargo.

Eventually, the rocket will host convoys of people and their belongings. The ultimate goal is to establish a self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet.

Sending humans to live on Mars is at the heart of Musk’s vision for SpaceX. It’s prompted the internet to bestow Musk with the nickname “God-Emperor of Mars.”

The billionaire entrepreneur has always denied that he wants to rule the planet, and on Saturday he detailed his vision for a direct democracy in which “people vote directly on issues instead of going through representative government.”

“Maybe it requires 60% [majority vote] to get a law in place, but any number over 40% can remove a law,” Musk said.

It should be “easier to get rid of a rule than to put one in.” The text of the laws should be short and easy to understand, he added.

According to Musk, too many regulations can be harmful and keep a society from moving forward. It leads to a “hardening of the artery of the civilization,” he said.

Question: What do you think about us exploring Mars? What do you think about letting people vote for a law without congress?

The World’s Longest Cruise Hits All 7 Continents in 357 Days

The world’s longest cruise is the ultimate addition to your travel bucket list.

The new “World of Travel” package from the UK’s Mundy Cruising is the pinnacle of around-the-world journeys, clocking in at 357 days that will take you to all seven continents, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

The trip leaves from Miami in January and sets sail around South America, stopping in Rio, cruising up the Amazon, taking in Machu Picchu, and more.

From there, you’ll travel to Athens and wind your way through the Mediterranean to the UK and through the North Sea and the Baltic all the way to Russia.

ùBy late August, you’ll be sailing from Vancouver up to Alaska before going through Central America over to the Atlantic and to New England and Quebec. October will bring you to Australia, and in December, you’ll spend 33 nights traveling around Africa.

After you check out Antarctica, you’ll travel to Singapore, where you’ll set sail for China and Indonesia. The trip ends in May 2018.

Each leg of the journey is separate, giving you time to fly home and repack for the next leg of the journey or to travel on your own before meeting your ship at the next continent.

The South American and European parts of the cruise are the longest, at 94 and 92 nights each, respectively.

The cost comes in at around $155,000, including business-class flights to your departure points and back home after each leg.

If you can’t afford such luxuries, there are plenty of other record-breaking trips that will cost you a little less.

Question: Have you ever been on a cruise? Do you think this cruise is worth the money? How much would you be willing to spend for a cruise around the world?

Stunning revival of the humble shipping container

elegant-minimalist-design-of-the-prefab-shipping-container-homes-manufacturers-that-has-white-concrete-wall-can-be-combined-with-brown-wall-make-it-seems-nice-1017x683In 1937, a young trucker named Malcolm McLean was delivering a load of cotton to a harbor in Hoboken, New Jersey. As he watched workers slowly transport the boxes by hand onto a ship, the story goes, he thought there had to be a better way to do it.

It turns out, there was: a big metal box that could be detached from the truck transporting it, and put on a ship. And about 20 years after first envisaging it, McLean was ready to show his invention to the world.

He loaded a former war tanker with 58 “trailer vans,” as The New York Times called them in 1956, and set off to change history. Little did McLean know that the intermodal container, as it would later be called, would not only revolutionize trade by decimating the cost of shipping, but it would also find a second life through architecture.

Container homes are varied in style and cost. Some are affordable, configurable and eco-conscious, such as the prefab ones made by Wisconsin-based Mods International. The company sells a fully ready, no-frills, 160-foot container home on Amazon for $23,000.

Others go straight for the wow factor, such as the Joshua Tree Residence, a 2,100-square-foot house made from white containers bursting out from a central point, to be built in 2018 just outside California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

Question: Would you buy a container home?

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The problem with job titles

Job titles may make sense in a big corporation, but for startups, they can be “confusing outmoded markers of status,” says Hello Alfred CEO Marcela Sapone. They encourage people to focus on the next promotion, or a fixed idea of what the role entails, “rather than taking on whatever initiative a startup really needs to reach its next survival milestone.” Sapone’s solution: Create teams that focus on company goals, rather than use fixed titles. “Practically speaking, this means ‘titles’ and responsibilities evolve every few weeks or quarters, along with the goals and teams tasked with achieving them.”

Question: What do you think about job titles?

How Often Do You Binge-Watch a TV Series

You sit yourself down in front of the TV after a long day at work, and decide to start watching that new show everyone’s been talking about.

Cut to midnight and you’ve crushed half a season — and find yourself tempted to stay up to watch just one more episode, even though you know you’ll be paying for it at work the next morning.

It happens to the best of us. Thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, we’re granted access to several hundred show options that we can watch all in one sitting — for a monthly fee that shakes out to less than a week’s worth of lattes.

What a time to be alive, right?

And we’re taking full advantage of that access. According to a survey done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends around 2.7 hours watching TV per day, which adds up to almost 20 hours per week in total.

Question: How much TV do you watch per day? What was the last show you binge-watched?

 

How The Most Successful Night Owls Manage To Wake Up Early

If you’re a night owl, it might feel impossible to shine at morning meetings, but these tips from those who’ve been there might help.  

The stories are legend–Jack Dorsey of Square reportedly gets up at 5 a.m.to meditate before work.

Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo says she wakes up at 4 a.m. and begins her workday.

Disney CEO Bob Iger says that he doesn’t just wake up at 4:30 a.m. each day, he’s already read the news, worked out, answered emails and caught up on work before most of us have blindly reached out to smack the snooze button.

Here are some tips from successful people who often stay up all night hashing out a killer proposal but cringe on how to be more effective in the morning:

  • Pre-plan in the evenings
  • Wake but don’t work early
  • Manage your energy, not your time
  • Don’t open email until noon
  • Turn your phone off and leave it in another room

Question: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

 

Foods and drinks expats miss most

There are countless things about our homeland that Australians miss after moving abroad: the magnificent landscape, the laid-back lifestyle and that endless blue sky, to name a few.

But something as simple as a trip to the supermarket can leave us expats — according to some reports there are an estimated one million of us — feeling desperately homesick.

With its long history of immigration, Australia is quite literally a melting pot of cuisines.

While some foods are the result of cultural influences, such as the Chiko Roll, there are others that are uniquely Aussie, like Golden Gaytime ice cream.

Question: When you are away from your country, what food do you miss the most?

Man Unable to Pay Airline Baggage Fee Arrested After Trying to Wear All His Clothes Onboard

A typical flight home turned into an ordeal when Ryan Hawaii made a peculiar attempt to circumvent baggage costs.

After hanging out in Iceland for nine days, Hawaii went to the airport and realized his sister-in-law had purchased him a ticket without baggage.

Instead of paying the £90 fee, he attempted to wear all of the clothes, including 10 jackets and eight pairs of pants, on the plane home to London.

According to a series of tweets from Hawaii, he couldn’t afford the baggage fee because he was “broke from being homeless in Iceland.”

After asking staff if he could wear his clothes instead, they allegedly said yes, but upon waiting to board the plane security was called.

He told LADbible he was “manhandled” and arrested, claiming an officer “twisted his wrists and dug their knee into his back and head.” He was removed from the airport.

Question: Have you ever had problems with your baggage at the airport? If so, what happened?

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6 Classic New Orleans Cocktails Every Drinker Should Know

When it comes to drinking, there’s no city in America — and perhaps the world — that does it better than New Orleans.

After all, this is a town where bars can stay open 24 hours a day and it’s totally legal, at least in the French Quarter, to carry a drink as you’re walking down the street.

New Orleans is also rumored to be the birthplace of America’s very first cocktail, the Sazerac.

While this has been up for debate, what isn’t debatable is that the city has given rise to many of the world’s most enduring drinks:

  • Sazerac
  • Brandy Milk Punch
  • Absinthe Frappe
  • Ramos Gin Fizz
  • Vieux Carré
  • Hurricane

Question: What’s your favorite alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink?

How do you tell the difference between good stress and bad?

Feeling stressed can feel perfectly normal, especially during exam time. You might notice that sometimes being stressed-out motivates you to focus on your work, yet at other times, you feel incredibly overwhelmed and can’t concentrate on anything.

While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress — and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems — bad stress.

Stress is key for survival, but too much stress can be detrimental. Emotional stress that stays around for weeks or months can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but you can improve the way you respond to stress and avoid or change some of the situations that create negative stress.

Question: How often do you get stressed out? What do you do to get rid of stress?

Playing too many video games is a mental health disorder, World Health Organization says

The South China Morning Post reported that the World Health Organization will officially recognize video game addiction as a mental health disorder in 2018.

The symptoms of “gaming disorder” are actually not all that different from a more traditional substance abuse disorder, except for the hangovers and physical withdrawals.

If video games are more important to you than your social life, your work, and your desire to sleep and eat, or you can’t stop playing even after you’ve faced “negative consequences” for your behavior, then you have a serious addiction, the WHO explains.

Per the WHO, the symptoms of gaming disorder usually have to be present over the course of 12 months in order to justify a diagnosis, although some patients may present their symptoms in a more rapid and severe manner.

The WHO’s recognition of gaming disorder means that doctors and insurance companies will now be able to diagnose patients who can’t put their controllers down.

The South China Morning Post notes, however, that the WHO does not actually offer any solutions or treatments for gaming disorder, which is bad news for the approximately 10 percent of American children who can’t turn off their consoles

Question: Do you agree that video gaming should be considered a mental health disorder? What is something that you love doing for hours? 

How online dating suffers from this new bad trend

There’s a new online dating phenomenon you need to watch out for.

So what is kittenfishing? It’s essentially a tamed-down version of catfishing — which is when online daters pretend to be someone they’re not.

Kittenfishing, on the other hand, is when dating app users embellish the truth and present themselves in an unrealistically positive light — to try to draw in potential lovers.

Saying you’re a few inches taller than you really are, deliberately using old photos or posting heavily filtered pictures might seem harmless. But it will almost certainly leave your date feeling disappointed, which is sure to get things off to a bad start.

Some people also exaggerate their age, interests or accomplishments to make themselves seem more interesting.

According to a recent survey, 38 percent of men feel they have been kittenfished — as well as 24 percent of women.

But, surprisingly, just 2 percent of men and 1 percent of women admit to having done it themselves — suggesting most people don’t realize the extent of their own lies.

“If everyone was just honest, things would be a lot easier,” said one Hinge member. “Yeah, you might have to face some of your insecurities, but in the end, people don’t like liars, and if you lie, it probably won’t work out anyway.”

Question: What do you think about online dating? Do you prefer the traditional of meeting people offline or using technology to meet new people? 

 

The psychological importance of wasting time

There will always be an endless list of chores to complete and work to do, and a culture of relentless productivity tells us to get to it right away and feel terribly guilty about any time wasted. But the truth is, a life spent dutifully responding to emails is a dull one indeed. And “wasted” time is, in fact, highly fulfilling and necessary.

The problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks. We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.

Instead, there’s a tendency to turn to the least fulfilling tendency of them all: Sitting at our desk, in front of our computer, browsing websites and contributing to neither our happiness nor our productivity.

At the end of the day, all of us have the urge to waste time flicking through a magazine, walking around the block, or simply doing nothing. We should embrace these moments, and see them as what they are: time well spent.

Question: What’s your favorite way to waste time? How do you avoid wasting time?

Kenyan inventors create ‘panic button’ app to help save lives

According to IPSOS, crime in Nairobi is twice the national average. Incidences of muggings, carjackings and other crimes are not uncommon in Kenya’s capital city.

One unfortunate victim was developer and entrepreneur Edwin Inganji. He was attacked by a group of men who stole his laptop. “I felt hopeless and I couldn’t get any help. Luckily, they just took my stuff,” Inganji describes.

After this incident, Inganji, and his two friends James Chege and Marvin Makau — also developers, sat down and considered what they could do to help make people safer. They thought: what if people in need of help could, at the flick of a wrist, alert emergency services?

They put ideas into action and created “Usalama,” a mobile app that sends a distress signal when a user shakes their phone three times alerting emergency services of their location, as well as their next of kin, and every “Usalama” user within 200m.

The success of “Usalama” relies, in part, on the willingness of police, ambulance services and other emergency providers to sign up to the app — a pursuit which has proved difficult, they claim, especially on the part of government. In light of this, the team has sought to broaden “Usalama” — Swahili for security — to connect users themselves and generate awareness about how to be safe.

Question: Do you think this is a better solution than the traditional methods of contacting emergency services? Do we need to adapt technology now or is it too soon?

Get ready: Up to 300 Starbucks stores are coming to Italy

In good news for Americans and tourists seeking home comforts in Italy – but not so good news for those who take the country’s coffee culture seriously – Starbucks announced on Thursday that it planned to open between 200 and 300 stores in Italy.
The first stores will be opened in Milan and Rome, though the opening date of the Italian flagship store has been pushed back. Initially scheduled to launch in Milan this year, Percassi said the country’s first Starbucks would come “in 2018 after June, because we are doing a big thing here.”

The venture was first announced in July last year, with Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz paying homage to Italy’s cafe culture, which first inspired him to build his coffee empire.

During his trip to Milan and Verona in the early 1980s, Shultz said he was “inspired by the craftsmanship of the Milanese barista, the spirit of the Italian people, their passion for community, their friendliness and taste for quality”.

He acknowledged the “unique challenge” of bringing the chain to Italy, and promised that the first branch would be designed “with painstaking detail and great respect for the Italian people and coffee culture”.

Question: Do you like when International chains come to your country or do you prefer to have small local shops? What are the pros and cons?

This bond could shelter 200 homeless people

Forget stocks. These investors are putting £1.8 million ($2.4 million) toward shelter for the homeless.

Bridges Fund Management has backed a program that will finance living spaces for 200 homeless people in Manchester, England.

 The investment comes from the firm’s Social Impact Bond Fund, a £25 million ($33 million) pool of money raised from investors including foundations and wealthy individuals.

The goal is to help homeless people off the streets in the city, a former industrial powerhouse, while also generating a return.

Social bonds work like this: Investors put money towards a program designed to help society or the environment. They only make a profit if the program works.

In this case, success means the homeless must stay off the streets for two years.

“These programs are working with very vulnerable people, so they are very difficult to deliver and the outcomes are fairly unpredictable,” said Andrew Levitt, a partner at Bridges.

Homelessness is on the rise in England, and Manchester is one of the cities most affected.

Roughly 200 people were sleeping on the streets near Manchester on any given night in late 2016, according to official statistics. But charities that work with homeless people say the problem could be much bigger.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who has pledged 15% of his own salary to tackle homelessness, said that in addition to accommodation, the program will provide participants with intensive health and emotional support. They will also receive practical training and employment services.

The program will be available to people who have slept on the streets at least six times in the past two years.

Social bonds are increasingly used by governments to pay for services. Levitt said they often lead to better outcomes than standard government contracts, where money is paid upfront.

“It gives providers the freedom and the flexibility to adapt and improve their program as they go along, and a strong incentive to deliver better-than-expected results,” he said.

Levitt said his firm’s portfolio, which has invested in 20 social bonds across the U.K., is on track to hit its targets and make a profit in four years. He expects the Manchester project to deliver “a small return.”

“With social impact bonds, the hope is the project delivers its impact, and you end up with your money back plus a bit more — which you can then go and invest in a new project,” Levitt said.

The future of getting dressed: AI, VR and smart fabrics

Technology has evolved a lot, but closets have been largely untouched by innovation. Now, that’s starting to change.

From artificial intelligence and gadgets to smart fabrics and virtual reality, technology is poised to breathe innovation into not only how we dress but how we shop.

The most recognizable example is Amazon’s Echo Look, which received significant buzz when it was announced earlier this year. The gadget ($200) serves as a style assistant to help you decide what to wear.

Like Amazon’s other smart speakers, the Echo Look will tell you the weather or play music. But the oval-shaped product also has a voice-controlled camera for taking photos of you in various outfits. It works alongside an app.

After snapping photos of you in two outfits in front of the device, its built-in Style Check tool decides which one is best. It leans on a combination of machine learning technology and human opinion.

Amazon’s “fashion specialists” train the software to be a judge of style. The automated results consider “fit, color, styling, seasons and current trends.” It’ll also suggest similar styles to buy from various brands. Through testing, we found that the suggestions can be hit or miss.

Meanwhile, retail experts say the Echo Look’s success will depend on if it adds more value than just asking a friend for fashion advice.

Question: Would you use an app that advises you on what you should wear? 

Europe’s first underwater restaurant to open in Norway

Europe will soon see its first underwater restaurant, according to the project’s Norwegian architects. The planned concrete structure features a 36-foot wide panoramic window and is designed to become part of the marine environment.

It’s expected to be completed by early 2019, with construction work starting in February 2018, at the southernmost point of Norway’s coastline.

The restaurant has been designed by Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, known for its work on the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt. Called “Under,” the restaurant will stand on the sea bed five meters below the surface, its thick walls designed to withstand the most variable sea conditions.

 “One of the benefits of this building is how it links nature and land, and how you can come safe from the land and in a very dramatic way go down through this concrete tube to the nature at sea level, and experience what normally is not experienced,” said Rune Grasdal, lead architect on the project.

Visitors can expect three levels and a capacity of up to 100 people. Below the entrance and the cloakroom there will be a champagne bar, to mark the transition between shoreline and ocean.
Further down there will be a dining room, with two long tables and several smaller ones positioned in front of the large acrylic window, which will be 13 feet tall.

Grasdal, who likened the building to a periscope, said it’s important people feel secure and not claustrophobic.

To achieve this the design team took into consideration a myriad of elements, like natural materials — such as oak — and good lighting. Grasdal explains: “it should be an exciting experience but people should also feel secure and well when sitting down there.”

Environmental considerations have guided the design, which is housed in a coarse concrete shell to invite mussels to cling on.

Outside of opening hours, the unit will double as a marine biology research center, with planned experiments to study the behavior of marine life through shifting seasons.

Question: Do you think this is a good idea? Would you like to go to this restaurant?

Candela: The Italian town paying people to move there

The mayor of Italian town Candela has come up with a practical solution to its dwindling population number — paying people to become residents.

Nicola Gatta wants the small medieval town in Puglia to shine like it did in the 1990s, when more than 8,000 people lived here. Today, there are just 2,700 residents.

So, to recover the town’s lost grandeur, mayor Nicola Gatta is offering up to 2,000 euros ($2,350) to encourage people to relocate.

The churches that stand at each street corner fill up only to celebrate the very few births that occur here, or the many funerals for elderly residents.

There are dozens of dazzling white houses with panoramic terraces and ornate balconies standing empty, waiting to welcome new residents.
To lure newcomers — including foreigners — Gatta’s council has opened up its coffers in hope of boosting the town’s appeal.
“This is how it works: 800 euros for singles, 1,200 euros for couples, 1,500 to 1,800 euros for three-member families, and over 2,000 euros for families of four to five people”, explains Stefano Bascianelli, the mayor’s right-hand man.
Tax credits on city waste disposal, bills and nurseries could also be offered.
There are three main requirements to receiving the cash: New residents must take up residency in Candela, rent a house and have a job with a salary of at least 7,500 euros per year.
“We don’t want people flocking here thinking they get to live off the town hall’s revenues, all new residents must work and have an income”, says Bascianelli.
Six families from northern Italy have already settled in and another five have applied to move.
“Life quality rocks here. We haven’t had one crime in 20 years”, boasts Bascianelli.
The town has been given an expensive makeover, and is looking shiny and new. Restyled old palazzos, streets and piazzas are now open for guided tours.
Public money is used to fund folkloric costume parties, spectacular bonfires and festivals in order to reclaim ancient traditions and myths.

 

Question: Do you think is a good idea to save the city? Why or why not?

Secrets from behind the front desk

The fact that a hotel could fail to be profitable is astounding. Why? The average cost to turn over a room, to keep it operational per day, is between $30 and $40.

If you’re paying less than $30 dollars a night at a hotel/motel, I’d wager the cost to flip that room runs close to $5. Which makes me want to take a shower. At home.

That $40 turnover cost includes cleaning supplies, electricity, and hourly wages for housekeepers, minibar attendants, front desk agents, and all other employees needed to operate a room as well as the cost of laundering the sheets.

Everything. Compare that with an average room rate, and you can see why it’s a profitable business.

Question: Where is the nicest place you have ever stayed? Was it worth the money?

The power of print in a digital world

Today’s students see themselves as digital natives, the first generation to grow up surrounded by technology like smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

Teachers, parents and policymakers certainly acknowledge the growing influence of technology and have responded in kind. We’ve seen more investment in classroom technologies, with students now equipped with school-issued iPads and access to e-textbooks.

In 2009, California passed a law requiring that all college textbooks be available in electronic form by 2020; in 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring public schools to convert their textbooks to digital versions.

Given this trend, teachers, students, parents and policymakers might assume that students’ familiarity and preference for technology translates into better learning outcomes. But we’ve found that’s not necessarily true.

As researchers in learning and text comprehension, our recent work has focused on the differences between reading print and digital media. While new forms of classroom technology like digital textbooks are more accessible and portable, it would be wrong to assume that students will automatically be better served by digital reading simply because they prefer it.

Question: Do you learn better with new technology or traditional methods like books? Do you think that schools should adapt to new technology or not?

Walmart Wants To Stick Groceries In Your Refrigerator While You’re Away

Walmart is one of the most familiar brands in America, but are you ready to give them access to your home?

The retail giant announced that it is testing a store-to-door service in which its employees can deliver groceries to your home and pack them away in your refrigerator ― even if you aren’t there to supervise. What if Walmart could help busy families like mine ensure my fridge was always well-stocked?

What if we created a service that not only did my grocery shopping and brought everything to my home, but even went so far as to put it directly into my fridge? And, what if it was even more convenient because this ‘in-fridge delivery’ happened while I was at work or off doing other things?

Walmart has been testing this service in Silicon Valley, where the newest tech and services are readily accepted, with a group of volunteer customers from August Home, a company that produces keyless locks for “smart” homes.

Question: Would you use this service? If not, why not?

Convenient airports: Europe’s best and worst in 2017

It’s the added extra flight comparison sites never warn you about: How long is the airport transfer and how much will it cost me?

It’s not unusual for European budget airlines to offer flights that are cheaper than the price of the train fare into the city. Or for the airport to be in a completely different town than the city it claims to serve. And if Ryanair’s week is anything to go by, that’s if the flight even takes off at all.

So time- and price-conscious travelers will welcome a new study by booking platform GoEuro analyzing more than 70 European airports to rank the fastest and cheapest transfers to city centers.

The data reveals transfer fares ranging from 86 cents to $34 while journey fares vary from five to 85 minutes.

Question: Have you ever had a bad experience traveling between airports and cities? Of the places that you have visited, which had the worst transfer from the airport to the city?

Flight attendant photographs behind the scenes of Virgin America

Virgin America air steward and arts graduate Molly Choma started working for the popular airline straight out of college. But the decision to take to the skies didn’t mean putting her creative talents to bed — far from it.

For the past nine years, Choma has been photographing behind-the-scenes shots of her Virgin America colleagues as they criss-cross the skies.

The photo series — playfully hashtagged #TheSecretLifeOfVirgins on Instagram and Facebook — has taken off. Using the difficult lighting and the confined space to her advantage, Choma takes atmospheric and striking photographs, capturing the moments the public don’t normally see.

What started as a personal passion project has lead to an array of opportunities for Choma. Come January, she’ll be heading to the 2018 Winter Olympics to photograph the USA Bobsled and Skeleton team — and she’s been photographing the Nigerian Bobsled team.

Question: Do you have any talent or hobby that you like to do outside of work? Have you ever been paid for this talent?

The world’s least stressful cities

If peace of mind means strolling home past trees and flowers, a fat bank balance at your disposal, and with a secure job to head to the next day, then the best place to find it is Germany.

A new study has revealed the world’s most and least stressful cities of 2017, based on factors including traffic levels, public transport, percentage of green spaces, financial status of citizens including debt levels, physical and mental health, and the hours of sunlight the city gets per year.

Question: Considering the criteria used in the article, how would you rank your city? How does your city compare to the rest of your country?

The world’s least stressful cities

1. Stuttgart, Germany

2. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

3. Hanover, Germany

4. Bern, Switzerland

5. Munich, Germany

6. Bordeaux, France

7. Edinburgh, UK

8. Sydney, Australia

9. (tie) Graz, Austria and Hamburg, Germany

 The world’s most stressful cities

1. Baghdad, Iraq

2. Kabul, Afghanistan

3. Lagos, Nigeria

4. Dakar, Senegal

5. Cairo, Egypt

6. Tehran, Iran

7. Dhaka, Bangladesh

8. Karachi, Pakistan

9. New Delhi, India

10. Manila, Philippines

Filthy food habits

Researchers said bacteria latches onto food in a fraction of a second after hitting the ground. And depending on the surface, carpet versus tile or wood, can increase the amount of bacteria.

Blowing out candles on a cake transfers 14,000 times more bacteria onto the icing. Double-dipping and sharing popcorn are also top offenders.

Restaurant menus also are breeding grounds for bacteria. Researchers said germs can live up to two days on plastic surfaces.

And before you order a lemon with your water, consider this: researchers said wet lemons pick up 100 percent of hand bacteria.

A popular game among college students and sports fans is now linked to higher levels of bacteria. Researchers found samples of salmonella, listeria, E. coli and staph on items linked to beer pong.

Bacteria was detected on the ping pong balls themselves, along with the table and inside the cup.

Yum, who’s hungry for a slice of cake loaded with bacteria? A chip dipped in both salsa and bacteria? Mmm, what about a piece of toast that just fell on the bacteria-covered floor?

Getting some bacteria with your food is the risk you take if you eat birthday cake after the candles have been blown out, dip a chip in salsa after someone else double-dips or eat toast that has fallen on the floor — yes, even just for five seconds.

 

Question: How many of these are you guilty of? What bad food habits bother you the most?

 

 

This startup is cashing in on our forgetfulness

Back home in Middleton, Wisconsin, he used the corresponding app to reveal the glasses’ last known location: the Denver International Airport. (When another Tile user has the app running and passes by your missing item, you’re automatically notified of its location).

But the next day, Beddingfield was alerted that his glasses were spotted in other cities like San Diego and Seattle. His sunglasses made their way to eight different cities before the flight crew was contacted at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and found them wedged under his original seat on the plane.

Beddingfield is not alone in misplacing personal items. Americans spend 2.5 days each year searching for lost items, and households collectively spend $2.7 billion each year replacing them, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Pixie Technology, a location tracking device company.

Not surprisingly, the most commonly misplaced items include TV remotes, phones, car keys and shoes. If users are within Bluetooth range of their missing item, they can hit “Find” and the Tile will ring. Otherwise, they can mark the item as lost and see its latest location on a map.

The startup on Tuesday launched two new Bluetooth trackers, the Tile Sport and Tile Style. Both trackers, which cost $35 each, feature louder audio and a 200-foot Bluetooth range, double the capability of previous models.

Question: Would you buy a bluetooth tracker to protect some of your things? If so, what would you use the tracker for specifically? If not, why not?

 

 

Pilotless planes could save airlines billions. But would anyone fly?

The aviation industry could save $35 billion a year by moving to pilotless planes, according to a new report from UBS. Just one problem: The same report warns that only 17% of travelers are willing to fly without a pilot.

UBS said that the technology required to operate remote-controlled planes could appear by 2025. Further advances beyond 2030 might result in automated business jets and helicopters, and finally commercial aircraft without pilots.

However, contrary to popular belief, airliners do not fly themselves, even when they’re on autopilot. Pilots are continually monitoring and adjusting aircraft navigation and systems, communicating with air traffic control and preparing for the next phase of the flight.

The UBS analysts said the transition to pilotless planes is likely to happen over many years. Cargo planes would likely be first to incorporate the new technology, with commercial flights being the last to go pilotless. The number of pilots needed for each flight could be reduced along the way.

Question: Would you take a flight that didn’t have a pilot on board? What if you could save money on your ticket, would that make it more appealing to you?

How to split the tab (without losing friends)

Whether your friends are open about money or more private with their finances, splitting the bill at dinner can be tricky.

Do you have to pay for other people’s drinks if you didn’t order any? Do you chip in for an appetizer you didn’t eat? How do you split tax and tip?

The good news is that mobile payment systems like Venmo and Zelle have made splitting the bill quick and easier than ever. But they haven’t completely removed all the awkwardness from eating out with friends.

Here are a few ways to avoid looking stingy, overpaying, or ticking anyone else off. One of the best ways to avoid confusion (and later, resentment) among your friends is to definitively decide before the meal which way you’re splitting the check.

If you know one of your friends is on a limited income, try to avoid putting them in a position where they might have to pay for things they didn’t order. The tactful way to do this is to let that friend decide which way of paying works best before the meal, and sticking to it.

They may be more comfortable paying the exact dollar amount they owe instead of splitting a tab evenly.

Question: When you go out to eat with friends, how do you pay the bill? Evenly? Each person pays for his/her own?

Indian airline Vistara: Women flying solo can skip middle seat

Delhi-based carrier Vistara has launched a new service that guarantees women won’t be allocated a middle seat. It’s part of a series of measures introduced in March 2017 by the domestic airline to protect solo female fliers.

Vistara says its Woman Flyer initiative will “ensure only window or aisle seats are assigned to solo women travelers” — even if customers do not select preferred seats in advance. Upon arrival, Vistara staff will be available at baggage reclaim to offer assistance to female travelers with luggage.

Staff will also be on hand to help women book airport-authorized taxis. The airline claims the project celebrates women and encourages them to expand their horizons — and feel comfortable doing so.

However the country has a problematic international reputation when it comes to women’s safety, due to a slew of violent crimes. In an effort to tackle the problem, the country has introduced train carriages and buses reserved for women and children only.

If India wants to strengthen its position as a business travel hub, services such as Vistara’s initiative could pave the way forward.

Question: Do you think this is a good solution for women who may feel uncomfortable traveling alone?

Henn-na Hotel: inside the world’s first robot hotel

Excitement meets comfort. Introducing state-of-the-art technologies, Henn na Hotel is the world’s first hotel staffed by robots. At the front desk, you will be greeted by multi-lingual robots that will help you check in or check out.

At the cloakroom, the robotic arm will store your luggage for you, and the porter robots will carry them to your room (only available in A Wing). Mechanic yet somehow human, those fun moments with the robots will warm your heart.

Furthermore, once you register your face with our face recognition system, you will be free from the hassle of carrying the room key around or worrying about losing it.

One of the definitions of the Japanese word “Henn” is “to change,” which represents our commitment for evolution in striving for the extraordinary sensation and comfort that lies beyond the ordinary.

Staying at Henn na Hotel is filled with unexpected and delightful surprises. The unique experience will take our guests one step into the future.

Question: Would you like to stay in this hotel? Why or why not?

How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip

You know your destination, but deciding on your route and stops can really depend on your travel style. HowStuffWorks suggests you make sure everyone is on the same page before you leave to avoid being stuck in a car with unhappy passengers for 8 hours a day.

If you have to travel with someone who’s style doesn’t mesh with yours, consider planning a shorter trip. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress if you map out how you’re getting to your destination before you leave (obviously).

You need to investigate the weather beforehand too. One route may look shorter on the map, but weather can turn that short route into a long and hazardous road.

Question: Have you ever taken a road trip? How was your experience? What advice would you give someone who is about to plan their first road trip?

When is it really time for couples therapy?

Couples should seek therapy long before they think they “need” to. Most experts believe that therapy can be an important part of your relationship.

Most issues within a couple start small and then grow in size when they don’t get resolved. This is where therapy can help, by giving tools and techniques to improve conflict resolution.

There are three sides to every story: his side, her side and the truth. An objective third party can be just the ticket when couples feel they can no longer communicate effectively.

Rather than viewing therapy as the solution to a crisis, look at it as an integral aspect of a healthy life. Every couple should take preventive measures to maintain health in their relationship, just like going to the gym.

If couples don’t work their relational and emotional ‘muscles,’ they become un-toned, weak and create more of a chance of damage being done to their relationship.

 Question: Do you think that couples should go to therapy before they have a crisis?

Automated and funky: Singapore Changi Airport’s groundbreaking terminal

Singapore Changi Airport — already regularly voted the best airport in the world — is about to get even better.

The airport’s upcoming fourth terminal (T4) is promising passengers an improved travel experience with the innovative use of technology and an interior that embraces a boutique approach.

From a 70-meter-long LED screen keeping you occupied with beautiful visuals while you’re passing through passport control and security to colorful funky chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in a tech startup office, T4 is aiming to make transiting through the terminal surprisingly fun.

Amongst some of the “surprises” that passengers, particularly young ones, can look forward to when the terminal opens later this year are cute robot “housekeepers” roaming the lounge, dog-shaped chairs and a “heritage” zone featuring the architectural evolution of Singapore’s traditional shop houses (from the 1800s to the 1950s) as well as an opportunity to sample local food delights.

Question: Do you care about the airport experience when you travel? Do you remember the best airport you have been to? What about the worst?

Amazon launches a social network for spending money

Available for Amazon Prime members using the company’s iOS app, Spark is a Pinterest-like service that lets users upload images of themselves using products, or just products.

Other users can then view those images and follow links to purchase the displayed items through Amazon.You don’t have friends on the social network, though. And you can’t search for particular users.

Instead, you can follow people so that they show up in your feed more, but you won’t get any updates on their lives or anything along those lines.

So far, the majority of the images I’ve seen on Spark look like they were taken by professional photographers, while just a handful seemed like they were shot by regular consumers using their smartphones.

Spark is obviously designed to let you view products in their natural habitats (your home) rather than against a plain white backdrop. The shots are meant to make products look more inviting, so you’ll feel more inclined to purchase them.

Like Pinterest, Spark also provides you with ideas for things like decorating your home or wedding favors. The service’s social aspect is similar to Facebook’s Instagram in that you upload, comment on and share images.

When you do upload a photo of a product to Spark, you have the option to add a link to its Amazon Prime page, giving other users a quick means to purchase it.

Question: Do you like the fact that technology is always evolving and making it easier to purchase products or do you prefer the traditional way of shopping in a store?

No, poor people don’t eat the most fast food

Eating fast food is frequently blamed for damaging our health. As nutrition experts point out, it is not the healthiest type of meal since it is typically high in fat and salt.

More widely, it’s seen as a key factor in the growing obesity epidemic in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Because it’s considered relatively inexpensive, there’s an assumption that poor people eat more fast food than other socioeconomic groups — which has convinced some local governments to try to limit their access.

Our recently published research examined this assumption by looking at who eats fast food using a large sample of random Americans.

What we found surprised us: Poor people were actually less likely to eat fast food — and do so less frequently — than those in the middle class, and only a little more likely than the rich.

Question: Do you eat fast food? Should governments ban fast food restaurants? 

Donnie Wahlberg leaves a $2,000 tip for Waffle House servers

New Kids on the Block’s Donnie Wahlberg got the royal treatment at Waffle House. So he decided to return the favor. Wahlberg posted a picture showing he’d left a massive tip for the overnight servers. A whopping $2000 on the $82.60 check.

This is not the first time the actor has made an appearance at the breakfast joint. He’s been known to visit Waffle Houses around the country for years. He tweeted a picture outside one in Youngstown, Ohio, earlier this month.

Question: Do you leave tips when you go out to eat?

The diets from certain countries could help you live longer

Going on vacation could help you uncover the secret to a long and healthy life — if you pick the right destination.

It’s no secret that certain populations around the world live longer and produce a greater number of centenarians than others.

More importantly, these marvels of nature remain healthy and active as they enter the three-figure age range. Just how they do it remains something of a mystery, but the clues indicate it could all be down to the food.

Question: How would you describe your diet? Do you eat whatever you like or do you try to plan your meals? What is your favorite junk food?

6 reasons to make your bed every morning

Last year, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven — the man who commanded the SEAL team that hunted for Osama bin Laden — gave University of Texas graduates some unusual advice during his commencement speech: If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.

He acknowledges that this statement may seem “a little ridiculous,” but says, “the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to [him] many times over.” Indeed, while making the bed may take just a minute or two each morning, the payoff is long-lasting and surprisingly far-reaching.

Question: Do you make your bed every morning? Do you have a specific way you like to make your bed? Do you think that making your bed has an effect on the rest of your day and your productivity? 

The pros and cons of working into your 90s

Society often suggests that we should slow down in later life. With retirement, we can reflect on what we have achieved, get out to see the world and spend time with family.

Although some people continue to work into their 70s, 80s and even 90s, retirement age in many countries suggests they cut back around age 60 or 65.

But most research suggests that slowing down may not be the best option for your health. At first, there is a honeymoon period where people go on vacation and spend time with their grandchildren, but it wears off.

In general, people who engage in organized work have higher age of mortality. Working leads to other outcomes that are beneficial.

Question: Are you looking forward to retiring or would you like to work as long as possible? Are you doing anything now to prepare for your future?

The surprising benefits of talking to yourself

Being caught talking to yourself, especially if using your own name in the conversation, is beyond embarrassing. And it’s no wonder — it makes you look like you are hallucinating.

Clearly, this is because the entire purpose of talking aloud is to communicate with others. But given that so many of us do talk to ourselves, could it be normal after all — or perhaps even healthy?

We actually talk to ourselves silently all the time. I don’t just mean the odd “where are my keys?” comment — we actually often engage in deep, transcendental conversations at 3am with nobody else but our own thoughts to answer back.

This inner talk is very healthy indeed, having a special role in keeping our minds fit. It helps us organize our thoughts, plan actions, consolidate memory and modulate emotions. In other words, it helps us control ourselves.

Question: Do you talk to yourself? Do the people you know, who talk to themselves, seem like geniuses or crazy people? 

The best cities for expats 2017

Expat life isn’t always easy. Not everyone thrives in the world’s more challenging cities. Many expats appreciate locations where it’s an easy adjustment, especially if they have families.

Good healthcare, education and transport, with low crime and lots of cultural opportunities are often top of the list. In Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey, 2017 once again sees cities in Europe dominate.

While the highest-ranking Asian city, Singapore takes first place for city infrastructure, the clear winner overall, for the 8th year in a row, is European.

In fact this years list mirrors last years list with one exception: Sydney, Australia now shares the number ten placement with newcomer to the list, Basel.

Question: If you had to live in another city outside of your country, which city would you choose? 

Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Italy

Arguably Europe’s most enticing country, Italy charms visitors with irresistible food, awesome architecture, diverse scenery and unparalleled art. In fact, it’s so packed with possibilities it can almost overwhelm.
Located in Southern Europe, this boot-shaped country is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations for a number of reasons. Italy offers so much to see and do that it would take a lifetime to explore. 

Short on time? Start with the big three: Rome, Florence and Venice. A week is (just) enough to enjoy the country’s headline acts.

The diversity of regional cuisine alone is worth travelling to Italy for. Bistecca alla fiorentina (Florence’s iconic T-bone steak); creamy Po plains risotto; olive oil and lemon-laced grilled fish on Elba; espresso and sweet treats in Naples’ backstreets bars; fresh-from-the-wood-oven pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) in Rome.

And as for sampling Brunello, Chianti, Prosecco, Montepulciano and Soave wines in historic cellars and in restaurants just yards from the vines – that’s an experience that lingers for life.

Lastly, here are some practical tips for your trip.

  • When greeting people, shake hands or kiss both cheeks and say buongiorno (good day) or buona sera (good evening). Only use first names if invited.
  • Restaurants have a cover charge (coperto) of €2-3. If service isn’t included, a small tip may well prompt a smile.
  • When visiting religious sites avoid offence by dressing modestly: cover shoulders, torsos and thighs. Although shorts and sandals are fine for the beach, you’ll need smart-casual clothes for towns. Walking shoes make cobbled streets and hill paths more comfortable, as will a sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • In the main tourist centres English is fairly widely spoken, but in rural areas and south of Rome learning a few key expressions and using a phrasebook/phone app with a menu guide will make your visit more fun and mealtimes more enjoyable.

Which destination do you consider the best place to visit in Italy?

  • Rome
  • Florence & Tuscany
  • Venice
  • Pompeii
  • Amalfi Coast
  • Milan
  • Cinque Terre
  • Sicily
  • Lake District
  • Other

Question: Does this article accurately describe Italy in your opinion? What places would you recommend?

Sacrificing sleep? Here’s what it will do to your health

We are one groggy, cranky, sleep-deprived population. Depending on our age, we are supposed to get between seven and 10 hours of sleep each night.

But according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of us get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night.

In addition, 50 million to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome, which can ruin a good night’s shuteye.

And we’re not alone. In bedrooms around the globe, men, women and children are tossing and turning.

According to World Sleep Day statistics, sleep deprivation is threatening the health of up to 45% of the world’s population.

Question: How many hours do you sleep per night? Would you like to sleep more?

New Jersey raises smoking age to 21

New Jersey is set to become the third state to raise its smoking age to 21, after Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Friday that hikes the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 19.

“We are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” Christie said in a statement.

“My mother died from the effects of smoking, and no one should lose their life due to any addictive substance.”

A reduction in smoking-related health problems also would ease the strain on the state’s health care system, Christie said.

Question: Do you think that governments should decide the appropriate age for drinking and smoking or should families?

What do you think about families who allow their children to drink and smoke before the legal age?

 

 

 

 

Impressive Tiny Houses That Maximize Function and Style

Growing in popularity over the last decade, tiny houses are popping up around the country as more people decide to downsize their lives.

While the structures often measure less than 300 square feet, the tiny house movement isn’t necessarily about sacrifice.

With thoughtful, innovative designs, some homeowners have discovered a small house actually leads to a simpler yet fuller life, connecting them with family, friends, and nature while freeing them from mortgages and an urge to keep up with the Joneses.

 Question: What do you think about the recent trend of tiny homes and portable homes? Do you like them?

Waiting in line can be tough

Unless you live alone in the woods, waiting in line is a near-universal experience—though as any international tourist will find, the etiquette of doing so varies from place to place.

Whether you wait politely or wait in line (or “on line,” as New Yorkers insist on saying), how you wait and how you feel about waiting is more about perception than the actual time that elapses,

Not all waiting experiences are equally terrible, as anyone who’s waited in line alone before being joined by a friend can attest.

Waiting alone feels longer than waiting in a group, because you don’t have conversation to distract you. Other factors that can affect how long a wait feels include uncertainty about when the line will end, having no explanation for the wait.

Like when you hit traffic and can’t tell if it’s because of an accident or construction or just rush hour, and also when perceiving the line as unfair, such as when you see people who were in line behind you receive their food first.

Lines feel a lot worse when there’s some anxiety involved. The more uncertainties about the situation, the less secure you’ll feel about eventually getting to the front.

Restaurants are masters at putting people at ease while waiting for a table. There’s a check-in point where you can give the hostess your name, so you know the restaurant knows you’re there and will take care of you eventually.

You’ll get an estimated wait time. You can grab a menu to peruse, making the time feel productive. And often, there’s a bar where you can hang around before your table is ready, letting you distract yourself from the waiting experience.

Question: Have you ever waited in line for hours? If so, for what?

Chicago’s new requirement for high school students: No plan, no diploma

Under a controversial new requirement, starting in 2020, students hoping to graduate from a public high school in Chicago must provide evidence they, too, have a plan for the future: either acceptance to college or a gap-year program, a trade apprenticeship, military enlistment or a job offer.

But not everyone is sold on a plan that Mayor Rahm Emanuel said will steer every graduating senior in the nation’s third-largest school system on “a path toward a successful life.”Chicago Republican Party chairman Chris Cleveland, the parent of a public school student, said the Democratic mayor should instead focus on reducing a public high school dropout rate of nearly 30%.

Question: Do you think this is a good idea or not?