Category: Press releases and publicity

Book Review – Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth by J.D. Smith

J.D. Smith, world traveler and award-winning writer, entertains readers with an outsider’s view of people, places, and life on Planet Earth. He reminds us that there is a funny side to the most obvious things we take for granted, but have never found humor in them before. We learn new and different acceptable names for food, marketing slogans, movies, and bands, as well as names that were rejected for ice cream and cigar brands. He writes about politics and elections where words count and suggests changing the Count your Vote slogan to Count your Goat. Based on his theory, goats as a group actually resemble America since they are white, black, brown, and other combinations. In fact, he says, goats and people all want the same things, food, water, and freedom. J.D. Smith provides answers to many questions you never asked; admittedly some are absurd and quirky but always amusing.

Who would ever think of ethanol as a person, consider the possibility of other origins for greenhouse gases, or recognize the real significance of the hoodie phenomenon. Did you know, for example, that a new method of measurement based on Joe Mantegna from “Criminal Minds” could replace the conventional metric system? Who would consider meeting a dominatrix at any time, or even want to experience the complete humiliation that follows? Yet, have you ever wondered or laughed at the mysterious, usually foreign names given to these unsavory people such as Brunhilde, Dominique, and Natasha. Why, you may ask, are none of them named Amy, Betsy, Ruth, or Gail? Then, you will find information on how to be a male flower girl, what to expect from a management counseling session, and how to write fan mail to a Michelin tire.

Are you aware that dogs suffer from insomnia? According to the author, they do, but you can’t let dogs that don’t sleep just lie there. He suggests some solutions for this ailment such as after midnight snacks, better television programming, or a ruff love session with a romp outdoors. Watching the dog for hours on end may be the only answer, however.

At one time or another, we have all experienced the frustrations of airline travel, which Smith explores in depth and offers a new name, Cramped Cabin and Crying Babies Airline. He explains that because it is actually a mutual money making agreement among CEOs, high-ranking government officials, and celebrities, you should have no high expectations. If you are assigned seats with the ordinary people in the economy section, you are unofficially designated an “untouchable.” Remember that service and comfort are reserved for first class, which you probably can’t afford unless of course you’re a celebrity. According to Smith, “being a celebrity means never having to say you’re sorry. Being anyone else means apologizing for the fact that you’re not a celebrity.”

His off-the-wall approach to termination of life, which most of us don’t want to or ever think about, can make the inevitable a little less troublesome than before. You have the option for nice accommodations at the Bath and Blade Suicide Suites Hotel where you will receive personal attention. The hotel has 24-hour concierge service to assist you with their extensive knowledge of places to go such as clubs, bars, and restaurants. Perhaps you are a guest who has never called an escort service – well that too can be arranged. If you like to gamble, the hotel shuttles will take you to the Native American casinos on reservations nearby where you can spend a little of your savings or throw it all away like high rollers do. Of course, you certainly can’t predict the length of your stay, but the hotel will accept an early departure with no refunds.

This is a very unusual book, written in a refreshing, unconventional style with common, familiar language, a lot of metaphors, and considerable satirical wit. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting. Every page of clever, creative writing by J.D. Smith is guaranteed to make you laugh. The book will be appreciated by anyone who may have forgotten what it is to laugh at the ordinary, unavoidable events in life. It may have been a while since you found anything funny in everyday happenings, but you will discover that some people are indeed comical as they go about their daily routine. The variety in the author’s collection of prose, poetry, and personal observations gives readers an opportunity to escape the mundane and at times boring experiences that frequently occur in their lives. It is quite possible that you will gain a whole new perspective after reading this entertaining book and discover that Planet Earth can be an amusing place after all.

Cassowary Press (publishing arm of Cassowary Creative)
First Edition Paperback: 2013
Amazon $9.93
U.S. $10.29
$9.30 NOOK Book – e-book

Sharon L Slayton
May 2013

Review: Cornwall with Caroline Quentin DVDs

Hosted by two-time British Comedy Award winner Caroline Quentin (Blue Murder, Men Behaving Badly), Cornwall offers a lighthearted look at the Cornish coast, akin to the programs of Rick Steves and Samantha Brown. The Cornish peninsula stretches into the Atlantic Ocean for hundreds of miles of gorgeous coastline, where aristocrats live in centuries-old manors and beachcombers barbecue lobster by the water. At every turn, Quentin dives headlong into the summer festivities, joining the locals at a quaint village pub and cheering on a regatta composed of not-so-seaworthy vessels.

I’ve only watched the first two episodes and I’ve been saving the review for a while because I figured I should watch them all or at least more of them before writing this. After a few months though, I’m fairly sure I won’t be watching any more episodes unless I actually plan to spend a summer in Cornwall.

And that may be who this series is designed for, people who are going to spend a summer in Cornwall and want to know a few of the people who live there. For example I got to know the chef at a restaurant and a family that fishes. I guess they’re interesting people, but if this is a documentary about the people of Cornwall, it has to be a limited audience. I don’t plan on watching a whole series about fisherwomen and cooks I’m never going to meet.

There is some information for travelers. The cook I mentioned above gets his restaurant advertised a bunch. One of the shows talked about Cornwall cottages and offered a look at one particular company that seems to handle more expensive properties. The website I link to above seems to have more advice than the show did, which looked at one property as the owners tried to get it listed by this one company. Their effort to get their property accepted doesn’t really help travelers though.

Overall, the show is for people going to Cornwall. It might help persuade you if you’re thinking about a trip to Cornwall – lots of looks at the nice scenery and some talk about the relaxing lifestyle and food that vacationers can look forward to. If you’ve already made up your mind, the show might get you excited about the upcoming trip, and it will give you the names of a few local business you might want to try out. For me, though, it just wasn’t that exciting.

Pick up a Volvo in Gothenburg, Sweden and drive around for a bit

Here’s an interesting travel twist to the car-buying experience:

“Order any Overseas Delivery Volvo at your local dealership and get two free round-trip tickets to Gothenburg, Sweden, along with a free night’s stay at a first-class hotel. While there, you’ll pick up your new car and, at your leisure, take it for a drive through Sweden’s scenic countryside. Then, we’ll ship it to the U.S. for you free of charge.”

I have to wonder how much this adds to the cost of a car for buyers who are serious negotiators. For example when I was buying my Honda, I wanted to pay as close to invoice as possible and I got pretty close, a couple grand off the sticker and 2 mugs and 2 tumblers. I imagine that if you’re trying to take advantage of this deal you’re losing some room to negotiate, but I don’t know for sure. Still, it sounds like an experience.

Details on their website.

Book review: Lonely Planet’s Better than Fiction

Better than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers is a 300+ page collection of travel stories. So far I haven’t found many typical travel experiences – no surprise that the stuff you read in the newspaper doesn’t cut it for well-known fiction writers – the stories here are a bit more sensational. I think this is for the best. For example, Adrift in the Solomon Islands by Mark Dapin, speaks of how “Marovo Lagoon, the largest saltwater lagoon in the world, was one of the loveliest places on earth, with water like brilliant sheets of beaten silver surrounded by brilliant green rain forest and teeming with riotously vivid fish.”

I find the repetition of the word brilliant, the teeming with fish, and so on doesn’t do much for me. On the other hand, meeting a devil priest on Funafou who took the men the men’s house (where inside there were spears and skulls) and the author’s girlfriend to the bisi, “where women were sent during menstruation and after childbirth.” These people who followed the old religion tried to annoy their relatives who were Seventh-day Adventists on a neighboring island keeping their pigs in cages facing the other island. That’s sort of thing I enjoy reading about.

Grief tourism (or dark tourism) is well represented. So far I’ve read Confessions of a Coconut-Soup Eater by Steven Amsterdam and A visit to San Quentin by Joyce Carol Oates. In the first, Steven Amsterdam gets to Toraja, Indonesia, where tourists go for the unusual funeral and burial practices: “We visited burial trees and caves, looked into the balconies packed with effigies that were looking at us. I remember piles of bones and baby-filled trees.” The prison tourism story talks about how difficult it can be to cope with the reality of prison life. The one hour tour felt like sevral hours of misery and left the author exhausted, and fighting not to faint.

There are a number of other stories in here too. I haven’t read them all, but I’m looking forward to them. If you want to read about some experiences you’ll never have, this is probably a good book for you.

Who’s willing to visit Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)?

I don’t know – for me Japan is an awfully long flight from Florida. I did love Tokyo though, and I liked Osaka. It would certainly be nice to say that I had seen some of the rest of Japan.

Lonely Planet has released a fully updated Northern Honshū (Tōhoku) chapter from its forthcoming Japan guidebook (September 2013) as a free download on lonelyplanet.com. In November 2012, Lonely Planet author Rebecca Milner researched and wrote about the region affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and now Lonely Planet is offering the new chapter for free to encourage tourism to the area.

“Getting updated content to travelers as soon as possible is essential,” says Lonely Planet’s Associate Publisher Emily Wolman. “It’ll be a huge boon for the affected communities as well, who can certainly use the tourism dollars as they rebuild.”

Rebecca Milner has also written an article about Tōhoku, confirming it’s very much open for travel. She says that few areas frequented by travelers were even damaged by the tsunami and what was far more damaging than the earthquake was the sudden absence of tourists. She gives practical tips, including what public transportation lines are still interrupted and information on how to volunteer there.

For travelers looking to volunteer on their travels, either to Japan or other destinations, Lonely Planet is offering Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference Around the World as a free ebook in the iBookstore until December 31st, 2012 and as a free PDF download on lonelyplanet.com. The book is a comprehensive resource to those looking to volunteer abroad with chapters on how to choose a volunteer experience, what to expect when you are there, and how to extend your experience once you return home. It also includes a directory of organizations around the world that take volunteers. A fully-updated, new edition of the book will be available in the spring of 2013.

Product review: Dream Water sleep aid

So I recently had the opportunity to try out a product called Dream Water. My samples arrived the day before a little trip – my wife and I were driving about5 hours to Tallahassee to visit Florida State University where I might end up doing some graduate work. Anyway, Dream Water is being marketed as a travel sleep aid. I decided to try it out the night before our big trip. Normally I wouldn’t experiment with a sleep aid the night before going on a trip but I was pretty stressed (luckily I don’t remember why).

Just a note: Dream Water even warns people not to drive and juggle chainsaws and whatnot while using the product so I knew there was a possibility I’d have to start my drive to Tallahassee later than I planned. After drinking my Dream Water and laying down I was able to relax; I give Dream Water some credit for that. Sleep did not come for a while though. What little sleep I got, was deep enough I guess since I felt fine to drive.

The next night, in Tallahasse, my wife and I both tried Dream Water. My wife woke up more often than usual during the night so she wasn’t very impressed. On the other hand, I had a nice, deep sleep. I can’t say with 100% certainty that the Dream Water helped, but I think it did.

The conclusion is inconclusive. I felt that the product was useful. The first night it helped me relax even if it didn’t help me sleep. The second night I slept well, but my wife didn’t. Despite the TSA approved bottle, it’s still easier to pack a few pills like melatonin or something. Dream Water tastes better though. And it contains Melatonin, GABA, and 5-HTP. In the end, if you need a sleep aid and still haven’t found one, give Dream Water a try.

Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

Dream Water is the first natural sleep enhancer with zero calories, no preservatives and natural active ingredients that help you relax and fall asleep. Conveniently packaged in a 2.5 oz. TSA approved bottle, Dream Water makes the perfect Carry-On Companion for holiday jet setters embarking on long flights and for jet-lagged holiday travelers who want to arrive at their destination well-rested.

Travel can present numerous challenges to sufficient sleep, and inadequate sleep can lead to unwanted irritability and fatigue. Not enough leg room, people climbing over you during air travel, jet lag, strange hotel rooms, and changes in daily schedule lead to tossing and turning while away from the comforts of home. With all the distractions and hassles of travel, Dream Water is the perfect tool to help holiday travelers maintain a regular, healthy sleep schedule regardless of their destination.

Book Review – “Into the Storm” by Dennis Perkins with Jillian B Murphy

Dennis Perkins, well-known author of Leading at the Edge and CEO of the consulting firm Syncretics Group, has written another outstanding book based on the importance of teamwork. He provides the reader with an educational and motivational narrative of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania annual ocean racing event that begins on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Recognized as one of the most dangerous sailing races in the world, it represents a major challenge for sailors to cope with unpredictable weather changes, the possibility of structural failures in the boat, unexpected injuries, and many other stressful situations that inevitably occur. At first, these may appear impossible to overcome, but decisions must be made. Patience and optimism on the part of each team member are needed in the face of adversity.

The ocean race, described by Perkins, is an exciting one as we follow the AFR (Australian Financial Review) Midnight Rambler, a small 35′ foot boat, along with over 100 other larger sailing vessels on a thrilling adventure through the Bass Strait to their final destination in Tasmania. Over the course of 628 nautical miles, we learn a lot from the author’s considerable knowledge of navigation and meteorology, how wind and ocean currents affect sailing techniques, and how to recover from the unexpected 100′ rogue waves that threaten to capsize the small craft repeatedly. Team effort, communication, and cooperation are necessary to handle the problems both above and below deck.

The author emphasizes the strategies that are needed to reach a goal, in this case, to win the race. Every member of the crew contributes their own individual skills to form an effective team. We have been told by training groups and motivational leaders that there is no “I” in the word team, and this is part of the theme of “Into the Storm.” No one person is a “rock star” in this race to victory, and it is only because of their combined efforts and flexibility that they succeed. Since people handle things differently in a crisis situation, the team members must recognize the inevitable frustration and the positive and negative attitudes of each other. Experience in dealing with such situations is, of course, a plus for expert teamwork. Careful planning and preparation for a race, or any event for that matter, are necessary strategies leading to a successful result.

Ed Psaltis, the skipper, and his crew of six are a winning team, proud to claim the coveted Tattersall Cup at the end of their 3-day, 16-hour journey. The strategies that Perkins discusses in his book are important tools that should be used by teams and organizations everywhere. It is only through persistence, skill, and trust that challenges can be met, and members of the team can take pride and celebrate their achievements.

(FSB Associates – American Management Association
U.S. $24.95)

Sharon L Slayton

Air New Zealand Hobbit Safety Video: an unexpected briefing

Here’s a neat little video. At the end there’s a link to a contest – the link takes you to an Air New Zealand page where they ask you a question in script I can’t read. If you get the question right you’re entered for a chance to win tickets to the World Premier of Hobbit in Wellington. I didn’t enter, but I did enjoy the 4 minute video.

Magellan Jets CEO on fying with pets

I knew I was a bit out of my league when I got a press release from Magellan Jets, but I figured who knows? Maybe some rich folks read my blog for whatever reason. And maybe some of the people like me a re a little curious. So I arranged to have a few questions answered by CEO of Magellan Jets, Joshua Hebert. But not the one about how much it costs to reserve a private jet – if you have to ask you can’t afford it probably holds true in my case.

What are the rules for flying with pets? For example, I’ve heard stories about pets hanging out on their owner’s laps or on the next seat. I’ve also been told that federal regulations require pets to remain in their carriers the entire flight.

Yes, they must remain in carriers throughout the flight. Definitely going through security and boarding. Depending on crew, some pets can get out of the crate on board. But, must have one on you at all times.

Have you seen any recent changes in the number of private jet charters booked by people with pets?

Throughout past 10 years, people are becoming more accustomed to traveling with pets and private aviation makes it easier. A lot of people who change homes seasonally like to fly there with their pets.

What types of pets can and can’t travel on your jets?

Magellan Jets has only flown Dogs and Cats.

Do you have any advice for pet lovers who have never booked a private jet before?

If you’re going cross-country to take a plane that would stop, don’t pay for the more expensive larger plane, get a smaller plane that stops so you can stop and walk your pet around. Also, make sure your pet has no food or drink 3 hours before take-off. A doggie basket is always on board, per owner’s requests. For pet owners piece of mind, it is better to fly private because your close to your pet and they will not be traumatized. If pet is leaving the country, you need their papers making sure they have all shots. Pet beds and blankets and treats are always on board.

(Magellan Jets orders goodies for pets who fly with them from http://www.planecrazypets.com/)

What are some of the memorable pet-related requests Magellan has received?

Flying a dog by itself from Boston to St. Tropez. Magellan Jets caters to pet lovers more than the average company, we’ve been pet-friendly forever. A lot of private jet charter companies aren’t because they’re worried they will ruin the plane. Magellan Jets also just acquired SkyBridge Aviation, who is also pet-friendly. They actually have a Pet Set program, please view the details here: http://www.skybridgeprivateair.com/petset.htm.

Book Review: Lonely Planet’s Food Lover’s Guide to the World

Food Lover’s Guide to the World is the most impressive book I own. I didn’t bring too many hardcover books from Korea anyway, and I haven’t unpacked any of them. Even if I had, I don’t think they’d be this nice. This is a beautifully done book with great photography (including some full-page photos), 50 recipes, and an overview of some of the quintessential dishes in 14 countries and 9 regions.

Countries that get their own chapter: China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, USA. Regions include: Australia & New Zealand, The British isles, The Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Latin America, The Middle East, Northern Europe (Olde Hansa in Tallinn for example), Southeast Asia, & the subcontinent (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Tibet). Then there are sections on global food: Jewish dishes, coffee, cheese, Africa, best food markets, and a few more. So you’ll get read descriptions of some representative dishes from much of the world.

This book is no travel guide though – I’d say it’s best on your coffee table impressing company and there for you to flip through once in a while when you feel like reading about Kobe beef or looking at the sweet pictures. It might give you a travel idea here and there, especially the “where to eat” sections that recommend (sometimes) specific restaurants. I consider myself an expert on South Korea for example, and the restaurant recommendations they make there are really good. So you might decide to make a trip to one of the suggested restaurants a part or even a focal point of a travel itinerary.

But you won’t find and sort of travel plans – this book is mostly here to introduce you to some of the word’s cuisines; it will only be somewhat helpful if you’re actually going to travel and experience the food.

So for example, the book mentions Seoul’s Tosokchon Samgyetang (samgyetang is rice, chicken, and ginseng soup though you score points by using the Korean insam instead of the Japanese ginseng). They give you the area but no address or directions. They tell you the line can get pretty long but not that groups of 12 or more can make reservations. But the impressive thing to me is that they really did find the best restaurant to recommend for samgyetang. Makes me miss living in Korea actually.

So the content is strong; the pictures are stronger and you’ll get some ideas for good food on your travels.

With a recommended price of 39.99, getting it for around $23 seems like a pretty good value to me. I haven’t shopped around so I don’t know if this is the best price you’ll find though.