From the monthly archives:

April 2010

Take A Walk On The Wacky Side: Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for Take A Walk On The Wacky Side: Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade

Here’s a sad side effect of the time I spent living in New Orleans: Once you’ve been to Mardi Gras, most other parades seem downright dull by comparison. The one notable exception, of course, is Pasadena’s annual Doo Dah Parade.
This year’s event—the “34th Occasional” version of this terrifically tongue-in-cheek sendup of the city’s stuffy Rose Parade—rolls down a new route along Colorado Boulevard in East Pasadena this Saturday morning at 11. What thankfully hasn’t changed is the full-on wackiness of the festivities.
Just how oddball can a parade actually be, you ask? Well, part of what makes the Doo Dah Parade so much fun is that you never know [...]

Read More →

Birdwatching Bonanza: How To Add 800 Species To Your Life List In One Trip

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for Birdwatching Bonanza: How To Add 800 Species To Your Life List In One Trip

If you’re one of the millions of serious birders in North America, sooner or later you’ll find yourself running out of new indigenous species to add to your life list. When you reach that point, you’ll want to check out the mind-boggling array of global birdwatching expeditions put on by the nice folks at Birdquest.
This 30-year-old British operation offers tours to just about any exotic birdwatching destination you can imagine, and a few you probably can’t (seriously, how many people do you know who’ve been birding in Djibouti?). They bill their outings as “The Ultimate In Bird Tours” and, with regularly scheduled expeditions to all seven continents, it’s [...]

Read More →

Extraordinary Event: RoboGames Gives You The Chance To Say “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto”

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for Extraordinary Event: RoboGames Gives You The Chance To Say “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto”

For those of us who grew up on sci-fi movies and television shows like Forbidden Planet and Lost In Space, the idea of a world full of robots seems like some far-off fantasy. Which is precisely why this weekend’s RoboGames—a three-day event certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the planet’s largest open robotics competition—seems like such an extraordinary experience.
This six-year-old San Francisco-area geek-fest features the highly imaginative creations of individuals and teams from more than 20 countries, competing in dozens of events ranging from soccer to sumo. The stars of the show, of course, are the battling bots that come in sizes from 5.3 [...]

Read More →

Extraordinary Ecotourism: How To Make This An Earth Day To Remember

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for Extraordinary Ecotourism: How To Make This An Earth Day To Remember

Sitting here on the eve of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, I know you’re already being bombarded with endless suggestions on how to mark the occasion, from local Earth Day celebrations designed to raise awareness of the planet’s plight to simple environmentally-friendly lifestyle changes you can make to show Mother Nature some love. Unfortunately, based on prior experience, I also know that most of our friends and neighbors are likely to have forgotten all about the subject by this time next week.
Which is why I’m suggesting that you spend just a few minutes on this Earth Day considering a handful of once-in-a-lifetime adventures that offer the opportunity to feel [...]

Read More →

SeV Travel Vest: A Wearable Carry-On Bag

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for SeV Travel Vest: A Wearable Carry-On Bag

It happens every Spring: The weather at your destination is a tad too warm for a coat, but not balmy enough that you feel comfortable traveling sans outerwear. My elegantly simple solution to this recurring dilemma? Scottevest’s Travel Vest.
Unlike similar vests that make you look like you just got off the bus from Dorkville, this thoughtfully-designed garment actually looks pretty stylish. In wearing it on dozens of trips over the past nine months, I’ve also found its combination of warmth and breathability kept me from both shivering and sweating.
The real beauty of this product, however, lies inside. As part of the company’s line of “technology-enabled clothing,” this [...]

Read More →

5 “Prudent” Ways To Blow Your Tax Refund

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for 5 “Prudent” Ways To Blow Your Tax Refund

Not that you could tell it from the checks I had to write to the U.S. Treasury yesterday, but the Internal Revenue Service says the average American’s tax refund has actually grown by about 10 percent compared to last year. Which means there will be an awful lot of folks with an extra $3,000 or so burning a hole in their pockets over the next few months.
Now, I understand that prudence probably dictates it’d be wise to bank all that dough for a rainy day. But, honestly, that doesn’t sound like very much fun now, does it?
So here’s my compromise: Five affordable once-in-a-lifetime adventures you’ll be talking [...]

Read More →

Tanks For The Memories: 2 Unforgettable Tank-Driving Adventures

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for Tanks For The Memories: 2 Unforgettable Tank-Driving Adventures

Of all the extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years, the chance to take the controls of a 55-ton British Chieftain battle tank has to be among the most memorable.
Unfortunately, the Dallas-based operation that gave me that opportunity is no longer in business. The good news, however, is that I’ve found a couple places that still allow ordinary civilians to have similar tank-driving adventures:
Lazer Tanks
This small mom-and-pop shop located just north of Reno, Nevada is now the only place in North America where individuals and small groups can spend time in the driver’s seat of Cold War classics including a Soviet-era T-55 battle tank and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle.
Tanks-A-Lot
Think [...]

Read More →