Travel Gear

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Five into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program

¡Hola mis amigas! This week, I was greeted by an instructional video that started the minute I signed into TOTALe. It gave a great overview of what the different parts of the course entailed, and how to navigate the various sections…and I couldn’t help but wonder why it didn’t show the first time I started the program! Of course, the likely culprit is my slow satellite connection of doom; it is totally possible that the screen tried to show when I first started the program five lessons ago, but was reset in all of the screen refreshes. Ah, country living……


Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Four into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program

¡Hola Amigos! Even though I had the new Dan Brown book, The Missing Symbol, delivered wirelessly to my Kindle DX this week, and even though I have spent every spare moment I could trying to sneak in a few chapters, I still managed to get a good chunk of my TOTALe lesson done. Yay me! Now I can tell you that “Me llamo Judie,” which will probably not sound as elegant as Julia when pronounced properly, since the J’s in Spanish are essentially H’s. Hoolia verses Hoodie…guess which one wins? 😉


The Dead Arise: Nashville Zombie Walk

After a solid week of rain in Middle Tennessee, the graves must have opened, as the undead arose to walk the streets of downtown Nashville. Tourists and natives called it the Nashville Zombie Walk of 2009. The flesh-eating mutants zombies staggered in from all directions, via train, plane and automobile.


Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Three into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program

As you will recall, this week started with me being quite frustrated when I had miserably failed the Milestone at the end of Unit One. I was also concerned about the empty checkboxes that I was seeing on my Unit 1 progress bar, but I figured I would get things straightened out — eventually. Tuesday morning, I received quite a bit of encouragement from an unexpected source…


Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Two into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program

Oh this week was harrrrrrrd. Let’s see…when we last left off my goal was to get through four more lessons this week, and be up to number seven. Well guess what? There is no seven, and it basically took me all week to get through lesson four. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the way the TOTALe program is set up, but better late than never. Evidently the lessons are broken into Units, and Unit One (at least) is broken into four major sections, each composed of separate lessons. The sections start off easily enough, and I got…


Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week One into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program

Today marks one week since I began learning Spanish with the Rosetta Stone TOTALe program, and here comes the part that you all have been waiting for – where I smugly tell you that I am now completely fluent in all things Spanish, that I am totally confident in my foreign language speaking ability, and that I am ready to go to Mexico and take up with the locals…right? Okay, obviously I’m not. And it would be completely ridiculous for anyone to expect that. But I am three full lessons closer to being fluent than I was when I started.


Learning Spanish with the Rosetta Stone TOTALe System

I have always wanted to learn a foreign language, to be able to converse fluently with people from other cultures, and to basically not feel like a total tool tourist when traveling. I’ve also always heard that the best time to easily learn a second (or third) language is during one’s formative years, and that even by high-school or college it gets much more difficult. It’s no exaggeration to say that I am well past formative, and I’ve been out of high school for 24 years. While I have never believed that one could ever reach a point where learning…


Visit David Letterman Stage Door Weekdays 5:30 – New York Tourist Tip

Have you always wanted to see a celebrity (or two or three) up close and personal? I have a secret to share. If you’re in New York City while David Letterman tapes (check the web site because he does not tape every night) – you can wait by the stage door at 5:30 pm and watch the celebrities emerge from that night’s taping. Last night I was in the city for a Toshiba event and saw Diddy, Ginuwine and Missy Elliott. All three stopped, chatted and signed autographs for a crowd of under 15 people — Ginuwine’s manager even took…


Jaybird Endorphin Rush Earbuds Review

A couple of days ago I reviewed the Jaybird Tiger Eyes earbuds, which include a microphone and are designed primarily for mobile phone users.  But what if you aren’t looking for earbuds to use with a mobile phone?  Enter the Endorphin Rush earbuds from Jaybird. These earbuds have the same titanium drivers that the Tiger Eyes, which promise similar true to life sound.  The Endorphin Rush  sound exactly the same as the Tiger Eyes.  They sounded a little tinny, but were more than adequate for use when working out. The thing that the Jaybird line of products is known for is…


Tom Bihn Tristar Travel Bag Review

It’s not everyday I get a bag like this in the mail.  Tom Bihn makes, in my humble opinion, the best travel bags period.  The new Tristar bag is no exception! I say this as a Tom Bihn owner for quite some time.  I have taken the Tom Bihn Aeronaut with me to DC on my last flight, and I used the Western Flyer and the Aeronaut when my son and I went to camp.  The Aeronaut was kind of large to take on a school trip with my son to camp.  Well, next year I can just use the…


The Tom Bihn Western Flyer Travel Bag Review

I have always read the reviews Judie has done on Tom Bihn bags, and have always wanted one.  Judie recently gave me her Aeronaut; I used it for my vacation and I really like the packing cube idea. I also think that the construction of the bag is top notch.  However, the Aeronaut is simply too large when you just have to stay one or two nights.  Also, the Aeronaut may have some issues with smaller ERJ-145 overhead compartments; that’s where the Western Flyer comes in. photos by Kevin


SCOTTEVEST Signature System Review

Last night, my friend Joel emailed to say that he thought I would be a perfect candidate for an upcoming geek/techie makeover edition of the Maury Show; I didn’t know whether to laugh or be insulted since he mentioned that I might get a new wardrobe out of the experience. I don’t think that I need a makeover (does anyone ever think that?), but I do know what the perfect wardrobe option should be for any stylish geek or techie – especially now that cold weather is fast approaching. Fellow geeks and techies, I present to you the new SCOTTEVEST…


TravelRest Pillow Review

I just recently got back from a business trip to Reston, VA.  Along with me I had meant to take the pillow I’m reviewing today, but for some reason it did not make it into my bag.  Fortunately for me, my flight wasn’t that long. When I go to Tennessee for my holiday in the Smokies, I fully intend to make sure that the TravelRest Pillow is in my bag. This is what the TravelRest Pillow looks like when it’s not in use.  Unlike most of those horseshoe shaped pillows, the TravelRest is inflatable.  When you’re not using it, the…


Balanzza digital airline luggage scale reviewed

Prior to using the Balanzza digital luggage scale I had an awkward way of weighing my luggage before leaving on a trip. In order to meet airline weight limits (typically 50 pounds) I’d try to position my fat suitcase on the bathroom scale. This was an imperfect method because it was nearly impossible to read the weight without shifting the suitcase around on the scale which in turn produced inaccurate readings. When I found the Balanzza luggage scale I had to give it a try to see whether it was a better method than the old bathroom scale.


The Tom Bihn Guardian Dual Function Light Review

There are so many good reasons why you might be interested in getting a clip-on safety light; perhaps because you ride a bike at night, or you walk in darker areas, or simply because you need a way to look inside a big gear bag in a darkened room. The story goes that Tom Bihn spent three months searching for a light that would meet his expectations, and the result of that search was the Guardian Dual Function Light. Make no mistake about it, this is no cheap flasher that will break after a few uses; the Guardian Dual Function…


TSA Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag Procedures, a Tutorial

We’ve mentioned some of the bags that will comply with their “Checkthrough” regulations the past, and now the TSA has finally posted the official procedures for getting through their checkpoints without actually removing your laptop; of course all will hinge on consumers purchasing the proper type of bag… TSA screens laptops to see if the electronics have been tampered with. TSOs know what the inside of a computer should look like, and can recognize irregularities. This is why they need an unobstructed view as the item moves through the X-ray machine. Purchasing one of these bags will not guarantee that…


Review: Ted Baker Charging Kit from Proporta

I actually received Proporta’s Ted Baker Charging Kit by mistake when asking Proporta for the Gadget Bag.  I offered to review it for them, and they accepted! 😀  So, what makes this charging kit special?  Let’s take a look. According to Wikipedia, Ted Baker is a clothing store in the UK; they are known for applying twists to their products.  I have never been to the UK, but on the Ted Baker website I learned that they are a designer clothing company, and the wikipedia entry reveals that they have been coming to this side of the pond as well. …


SkyVenture Orlando: A Safter Way To Skydive For Those Afraid of Heights, Failing Parachutes and Crash Landings

Would you ever skydive? That’s a question that I’ve always answered with a resounding “no way – no how”. My fear of meeting “Mr Earth” face first is much stronger than any thrill seeking ambitions. At least I thought so until I found an indoor skydiving center located in Orlando. Indoor skydiving offers the freedom and excitement of skydiving, but without the jump or hard fall. In the tunnel, your instructor will assist you in leaning directly into the wind flow so you will be lifted up. An instructor will be with you one-on-one while you are in the tunnel….


The Solio Solar Charger Review: Kermit Was Wrong!

Sometimes, an item shows up in my mailbox for review that I REALLY want to work well. Maybe the description of the item just sounded so cool that I hope it lives up to the hype. Other times I’m rooting for the product because I believe in their mission and am rooting for the company to succeed. But in the end, the product has to actually work for us here at GearDiary to recommend it to you, oh gentle reader. The Solio Solar Charger from CREDO Mobile is exactly this kind of gadget.


LAbesace CLASSIC Laptop Bag REVIEW

Trust me, I’m really trying my best to quit hauling around so many gadgets in my backpack. A 13” MacBook, power cable, mouse, 2 pens, iPod, iMuffs wireless headphone, JawBone headset, a smartphone of the week, Tekkeon battery charger, various cables, business cards and a legal pad are my bare minimums. Oops! I forgot the digital camera! What was I thinking! I stuff all of these items in my Swiss Army backpack to and from work. Of course I throw in a couple of books, a brown bag lunch, gloves, stocking cap, and many more items. The other day, I…


New York City Automatic Toilet: $ 110,000 for a Wet Seat?

Yesterday we made a trip into New York City. Finding a (clean) bathroom when in the city can be a challenge. In January of 2008 the City of NY unveiled a fully automatic bathroom that cleans itself after each use. Well, I just had to check it out. And I made a YouTube video to show you the high and low points of my experience.