The Montague Paratrooper Pro is the best damn bike I've ever owned

When you live full-time in a motorhome, no matter how big it is, there’s not a lot of room for extras. In order to have enough space to be comfortable, its necessary to strip your belongings down to the essentials. A library full of books gives way to e-readers and tablets. Full-sized anything? You’re gonna want to swap it out for a compact model or, better still, a version of it designed to collapse down to a smaller size to store when its not in use. My Montague Paratrooper Pro mountain bike does that. I love it.

Bike designer David Montague put together the original Paratrooper folding mountain bike for the U.S. Military. It was designed to accompany parachutists out the door of a flying airplane and, once on the ground, be used to get the soldier riding it to an objective far more rapidly than if the approach were made on foot. I’d known about these bikes for years. I was obsessed with them. Moving into an RV gave me an excuse to finally get one: it’s a full-sized bike that collapses down small enough that I can stow it in one of our rig’s basement compartments, out of site and out of mind.

The bike I ride, the Paratrooper Pro, comes with a few bells and whistles that the original Montague Paratrooper lacks. It’s front forks can be locked for riding on pavement in the city, or unlocked for a smooth, suspension-aided ride down trails and dirt roads. It’s got 27 gears to the OG Paratrooper’s 24. Read the rest

Vintage British travel posters improved with added fantasy monsters

Chet Phillips (creator of the Monster Zen book, the Steampunk Monkey Coloring Book and the Steampunk Monkey Cigarette Cards) sends us his Fantasy Travel Poster Series, "Paying tribute to vintage railway posters, this series re-imagines landscapes with fantasy elements such as giants, dragons, trolls and more." Read the rest

The shortest commercial flight in the world is less than one minute long

Singapore Airlines just launched the longest nonstop commercial flight route in history -- 20 hours between New York City and Singapore. On the other side of the coin though is the shortest international commercial flight in the world: Anguilla Air Services' 12-mile route in the Caribbean between Saint Martin's Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) and Anguilla's Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport. Flight time is 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the shortest domestic commercial flight is from Westray to Papa Westray, Scotland. From CNN:

A narrow stretch of water separates the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray, off the north coast of Scotland. Scottish airline Loganair has been running an air bridge between these two tiny Scottish islands for around 50 years, making it the shortest nonstop regular flight anywhere in the world.

The flight, operated by a Britten-Norman Islander eight-seater aircraft, takes just over a minute, but on occasions has been as short as 53 seconds, depending on tail wind.

"This route is used mainly by the people of the Orkney Islands going about their daily routines," says Andy Thornton, Loganair's director of flight operations. "It is used by teachers, the local police officer, the banker and children going to school. However it is also a keen route for tourists and aviation enthusiasts."

"A 10-minute flight? World's shortest airline routes" (CNN) Read the rest

I owe Anthony Bourdain so much

I’ve always felt the urge to leave. Any place. No matter how beautiful. I want to go. When I was 18 and finished with high school, I attended my graduation ceremony, for the sake of my family, but I skipped my prom – Canada’s east coast was calling. I’d never been there before. I didn’t know what I’d find. But I was going. I made a life for myself out there, with university, work and music. I traveled up and down the coast. Cape Breton feels like a second home to me. I love the people of Maine. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have a place in my heart.

But eventually, I left the east. Rage, the self-entitlement that sometimes comes from surviving a shitty childhood and a need for control left me very much out of control. I destroyed a fine long-term relationship looking for who I was. I burned bridges. I did terrible things to myself and others. It was time to move on. My travels took me back home to Ontario. My father was dying. I loved and hated him for who he was and what he had done to our family. Coming home was a terror.

Uneasily settled back into my hometown, I fought to push the dogs of my recent past down into the cellar of my soul where their bark did not seem so loud. I’d gone to university for journalism, but felt too shattered by life to write. I took on a job I despised and worked it for years. Read the rest

Baggage handler gives zero f*cks

This baggage handler looks like she's been at her job for a long time, effortlessly tossing luggage down the slide as if they were bags of marshmallows. Hopefully, marshmallows are what's in that luggage because anything else is likely to break. Read the rest

The Passport Index: a beautiful guide to the passports of the world

The Passport Index features beautiful high-resolution images of the covers of all the world's passports, with interactive features ranking passports by how much visa-free travel they entitle their bearers to, and the ability to assemble grids of the places your passport(s) permit entry to. (via Dark Roasted Blend) Read the rest

Howler Monkeys are coming for your soul

Beautiful beaches. Lush jungles that thrive in volcanic soil. Friendly people and amazing local cuisine. You can keep 'em all. One of the things I enjoyed most about my last trip to Costa Rica were the calls of local howler monkeys. It didn't matter that I knew what was making their horrific calls. Hearing their low, simmering rage-filled grunts and screams never failed to make the lizard bits of my brain insist that my face was about to be eaten and that I would soon be dead.

  Read the rest

Surfer hotel in a modded truck

The Truck Surf Hotel is a modded Mercedes Actros outfitted with a hydraulically-expanding two-story inn. Inside is a living room, kitchen, four double rooms with bunk bed, one double room with a single larger bed, bathroom, and shower. Over the course of a week vacation package, the hotel travels to surf destinations in Portugal and Morocco. The trip is around $700-$900 depending on the destination and season; airfare not included.

Truck Surf Hotel (via Uncrate)

Read the rest

BBC journalist has earwax cleaned out by hungry jungle grub

Will Millard visited the jungles of West Papua to hang out with the Korowai, a local group of hunters and gatherers late to the uncertain benefits of modernity. They reportedly use small grubs to clean their ears, and in this video Tribesman Markus offers him a hungry one.

In filming its new documentary, the BBC learned that earlier ones about the Korowai (including one of its own) contained fabricated elements.

Also:

Read the rest

What airplane cabin depressurization looks like

I was expecting to see an explosive worst-case scenario, a can-opener at 30,000 feet. But this simulation of a less explosive leak has a nightmare quality all of its own. Read the rest

These standing airplane "seats" may be tomorrow's economy class

Following other proposals for standing "seats" on airplanes (link and link), the Skyrider 2.0 saddle seat "is the new frontier of low-cost tickets,” according to Italian company Aviointeriors. Rather than pitch the Skyrider as an inexpensive option for fliers, I think they'd do better positioning it as a healthy luxury like standing desks. From the Boston Globe:

For airlines that have been trying to shed weight and save on fuel costs by introducing thinner seats and eliminating seatback screens, the Skyrider 2.0 makes perfect sense. According to Aviointeriors, the design allows a 20 percent increase in passengers per flight. It also weighs 50 percent less than a standard economy seat, lowering the fuel cost per passenger...

The reduced legroom brings the seat pitch (the distance between one seat and the next in front) down to 23 inches. By way of comparison, the seats on low-cost, low-rated Spirit have a seat pitch of 28 inches.

Read the rest

Airbus is making bunk beds in jet cargo holds

European jet manufacturer Airbus is going to add bed modules to the cargo hold of its Airbus A330 widebody jet starting in 2020. I'm getting sleepy just looking at the photo on Bloomberg.

Under Airbus’s plan, the sleeping berths would be installed as modules that could be quickly replaced with regular cargo fittings during an aircraft’s typical airport turnaround. Holds have in the past been designed as cabin crew rest areas and for ablutions.

Airlines will be able to retrofit old planes with the modules or build them into aircraft coming off the production line, according to the manufacturer. Airbus is also studying the possibility of offering similar sleeper compartments on its A350 airliner.

Read the rest

Finding a "secret" Chinese restaurant in Madrid

The folks at Great Big Story went to Madrid to find a hidden Chinese restaurant known as "The Underground."

Underneath a plaza in Madrid lies one of Spain’s greatest culinary secrets. Cafetería Yulong Zhou is home to some of the best Chinese food in the country. Getting there, however is another story. With no exact address or email, trying to find the restaurant takes some expert sleuthing. With the help of a friend and a hint, we embarked on the journey. Spoiler alert: the dumplings made the trek totally worth it.

Read the rest

Your passports are full of tech

In close to a decade of work as a full-time journalist, I can't recall a single instance where I referenced my work for one outlet at another. There's a few reasons for this.

First, outside of an occasional mention of something I've written on Twitter, self promotion's always felt awkward and kind of gross to me.  When I'm not online, I live a quiet, nomadic life. I don't like a ton of bother and my Imposter Syndrome assures me that I'm not worth it. Second, the moment my work's approved by an editor for publication, I cease to consider it mine. As a freelancer, I'm employed on a pay-for-work basis.  I don't own the words I write for Macworld or USA Today. They do. I take pride in the work I do, but most of the companies I work for have talented social media specialists that do a better job at getting the word out about something that I penned than I ever could. So, I leave it to them.

That said, I wrote something that I thought was much more interesting than the work I typically get asked for by joints aside from Boing Boing. So, here I am, sharing it with you.

Earlier this month, I interviewed officials from the Department of State and an ethical hacker for AFAR Magazine to get the skinny on what the hell's actually on a passport's RFID chip, who can read it and whether it's being read is anything we need to be worried about. Read the rest

How to get food in Japan without knowing how to speak Japanese

This is a fun video introduction to feeding yourself in Japan, even if you don't know Japanese. Really, it's pretty easy to get food in Japan if you're a foreigner, but this video shows you different options, from konbini (convenience stores, which are much better than the ones in the US), to chain restaurants (again, usually tastier than US chains), to shopping mall food courts (beautiful and mind bending), and actual non-chain eateries. Read the rest

DoNotPay bot launches a cheap airline ticket that automates the nearly impossible business of getting refunds when prices fall

The DoNotPay bot (previously) is a versatile consumer advocacy chatbot created by UK-born Stanford computer science undergrad Joshua Browder, with its origins in a bot to beat malformed and improper traffic tickets, helping its users step through the process of finding ways to invalidate the tickets and saving its users millions in the process. Read the rest

Learn to speak like a New York City subway conductor

As anyone who travels frequently by bus, plane or train can tell you, important service announcements are best when they're utterly incomprehensible: being able to hear and understand that your gate has changed or that you left your phone at a security checkpoint denies people of that rush of adrenaline and feeling of vitriol that makes getting from point A to B such a rewarding experience.

If you've ever wondered how the men and women behind the microphone are able to ensure that no one EVER has a clue of what in the hell they're saying, you'll want to head on over to Paste Magazine – they've got the goods on how New York City subway conductors warm up their voices before going on shift. It's all useful stuff. Knowing this one handy hint alone could help speed you on your way to a new career in the transportation industry:

When used correctly, your tongue can make any vital service change announcement sound like it’s dialogue in a movie where an explosion just happened and everyone’s ears are ringing. As a warm up exercise, try to keep your tongue completely still, hovering in the middle of your mouth. Now try announcing, “F trains are now running along the A line.” With your tongue motionless, you won’t be able to articulate a single consonant sound. Your passengers will have no idea what the hell is going on. Feel free to also try this exercise while holding your tongue between two of your fingers.

Read the rest

More posts