Friday, December 28, 2007

Safer Sex Supplies

If you're worried about getting sick, or you're worried about getting pregnant when you don't want to be pregnant, then sex probably isn't going to be completely fun no matter what you do. So in other words, gaining confidence in your safer sex and birth control arrangements is one of the sexier things you can do for yourself.

Latex Condoms

From a public health perspective, using latex condoms for penile->vaginal and penile->anal penetration, in any case where one partner may have a transmittable STD which the other does not, is the one habit which would make the biggest difference in the fight against STD's.

A terrific latex condom for most men is the Kimono Microthin: they're thin and transmit sensation well, they're well-constructed, and having no taste that we can discern they're as suitable to oral sex as they are to intercourse. If after trying one you decide you'd like a snugger fit, then try Lifestyle Snugger Fit. If after trying one you decide you'd like a roomier fit, then try Pleasure Plus. On the other hand, if you're looking for inexpensive condoms not to go around a penis but rather to go around the head of your Hitachi Magic Wand, then pick up a pack of Trustex. If none of these options seem to suit you, then try a condom sampler pack to continue your search.

Tips: Condoms are most comfortable and effective when what they're surrounded by is slippery rather than dry - so either keep a small bottle of water-based lube with your condoms, or failing that a few single-use packets of water-based lube. Also, as an STD prevention measure the uncomfortable and generally questionable chemical Nonoxynol-9 has definitely fallen out of favor - Babeland won't carry any condoms or lubes that contain this substance, but if you're buying at a drug store or supermarket you'll need to avoid them on your own.

Latex Dams

Dams are thin rectangles of latex intended for safer oral sex when going down on a woman (cunnilingus), or for safer and cleaner oral sex when licking someone's anus (analingus). For these purposes, far and away the best product is the Glyde Dam. One important tip: putting a bit of water-based lube on the recipient's side of the barrier can help a lot more sensation be transmitted to them.

Unfortunately, if you're used to performing cunnilingus without a barrier, but now feel you must for the sake of your own safety or that of your partner, then making the transition to using a dam can be hard. If this remains true for you, even with practice, then please understand there's no shame in learning to use your hands instead: particularly if you take the opportunity to passionately kiss someone or whisper nasty things to them as you're pleasuring them, sex with hands rather than mouths really can feel awfully good...

Latex Gloves

Particularly if some of the skin on your hands is damaged (or if there is any chance you'll come into contact with blood) and your partner is of unknown STD/HIV status, latex gloves may make sense for finger or hand penetration. They may also make sense if you want to penetrate your partner's ass with your fingers but you have cleanliness concerns (since after you're done you can just peel the glove off and throw it in the trash).

The black latex gloves offered by Babeland are great choices, since by virtue of the fact that they're black latex they also look cool.

Alternatives for People with Latex Allergies

Although in each case the latex safer sex choice is probably the best choice if you can use it, for partners who are allergic to latex (an allergy particularly common amongst medical professionals) alternative safer sex materials may be needed.

If you or your partner is allergic to latex, then for penile->vaginal or penile->anal intercourse the Avanti polyurethane condom is certainly one option (though please understand it is by no means ideal: since polyurethane doesn't stretch as well as latex the reliability and fit is probably just NOT going to be as good for you). An alternative to Avanti is the Reality female condom, which is also usable for anal sex if you remove its inner ring.

For cunnilingus or analingus, if you or your partner is allergic to latex but some sort of barrier is still needed, your best bet is probably to use regular (i.e. non-microwaveable) kitchen plastic wrap instead.

For hands and fingers, Nitrile gloves are available as a substitute for latex gloves in cases where gloves are needed.

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Sex Toys for Either Women or Men


For almost any kind of penetration (whether with fingers, a penis, or a dildo, and whether vaginal or anal), slippery is sexy and dry is usually uncomfortable. So basically, a bottle of lube is a fundamental thing to have on hand if you're sexually active. Since oil-based lubes destroy latex condoms and silicone-based lubes are only good for very specific situations, a water-based lube is almost certainly what you want.


Water-based lube is your basic, recommended type of lube. It works beautifully with latex, it won't harm any of your sex toys, and it feels natural. For any kind of sex involving vaginal or anal penetration, it can make sex 1000% more fun.

Basically, try BabeLube if you'll mainly use it for vaginal penetration, and try Maximus if you'll mainly use it for anal penetration. Both of these water-based lubes are also glycerin-free, which means they're less likely to feel sticky. If neither of these lubes suit your needs, then try a lube sampler to figure out which kind works best for you.


We hesitated to mention silicone lubes in this guide at all, since the overwhelming majority of people actually shouldn't buy them: if you accidentally use a silicone-based lube with one of your silicone toys, an adhesive reaction results which will destroy that toy. Furthermore, since silicone-based lube doesn't feel like natural vaginal lubrication, for most people it wouldn't be the preferred choice for any kind of vaginal penetration.

However, there are two specific situations in which silicone-based lube might make sense: when having sex underwater (since water dissolves water-based lubes but not silicone-based lubes), and for lengthy and intense anal penetration.

Right now, the most commonly-recommended brands of silicone-based lube are Eros and Pink.

Anal Toys

A good anal toy can be a revelation: assuming you have some water-based lube so that inserting the toy is comfortable, it can provide stimulation to the nerve-rich anus while going in, and once in can intensify in a very interesting way the feeling of the whole pelvic region during sex. There are two broad categories of anal toys: those meant to be left in during play, and those meant to be gradually pulled out or pushed in during play.

Toys Meant to be Left in During Play

These are otherwise known as "butt plugs." They have a special shape that helps them stay in once they're inserted, and can be left in while you have other kinds of sex. Choices include the Little Flirt (small), the Ryder (medium), and the Severin (large).

Toys Meant to be Gradually Pulled Out During Play

You may have heard of "anal beads." The more durable alternative is a dildo with a series of bulbs shaped like beads, but without a string running through them that can weaken or break. But either way, the point is the same: you insert them, and gradually pull them out during intercourse or masturbation, perhaps leaving a few for the moment of orgasm itself. The impact of this kind of sensation on your orgasm can be dramatic. Right now, the best anal toys created with this kind of play in mind are the Ripple and the Flexi Felix.

For Cleaning Beforehand, if Desired

To start with, even though the ass is generally cleaner than you might think, if the nature of ass play still leaves you uncomfortable, there's nothing stopping you from using latex or Nitryl gloves for penetration with fingers, dams for rimming, and condoms on any toys that are going to be inserted. There's also nothing stopping you from using the bathroom well before playing, or taking a shower before playing.

But for an additional level of cleaning, or perhaps for an interesting sensation in and of itself, a cleansing douche is always an option.

For Blindfolded Play

Blindfolds are sexy for good reasons: they're a consensual way for the receiver to completely focus on what they're feeling, and they're a way to remove any ambiguity as to who is "running the scene." Unfortunately, despite what you may have seen in the movies, just tying a bandanna around someone's head usually doesn't work very well, so you'd probably want something more secure and simpler to apply. This blindfold is one good choice.

For Bondage and Sensation Play

The range of play which falls under the heading of "BDSM" is vast. Stated poetically rather than technically, it's a way to take the freedom to struggle and strain without hurting anyone, combine that with intense sensations which produce the same endorphin and adrenaline rushes you might get from sports, and bundle the whole thing together with sex.

Just by way of example, if your main interest as a couple is one of you being able to prevent the other from moving, then take a look at the Kookie Cuffs (both wrist and ankle).

Similarly, if your main interest is creating different kinds of (possibly intense) sensations for your partner, then examples of things to look at depending on your interests would be nipple clamps and paddles/floggers.


Don't forget: candlelight is the most flattering form of illumination you're likely to find, and when used safely is probably the single easiest way to upgrade the appearance of wherever you and your partner play.

Sex Games

Most of the "sex games" you see advertised are pretty cheesy, but we've found a few which seem to have value: the Sex Questions game for helping partners learn more about each other, and the Pervartistry game for having fun with a group of open-minded adults.

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Sex Toys for Men

For Penile Stimulation

Most men have their first orgasm with the help only of one of their hands, and throughout life this may remain a perfectly enjoyable and comfortable way to reach orgasm. However, there's definitely no harm in experimenting with new sensations to see if you like them. For example: the Hugger Vibrator, which focuses sensation on the head of the penis, or the Cybersleeve, which distributes sensation all along the shaft of the penis.

For Prostate Stimulation

For some men (though certainly not all), ass play in general, and prostate stimulation in specific, is the one thing they discover in late adulthood that they wish they'd discovered in early adulthood.

The "Toys for Either Women or Men" section below will cover most butt toys, since most of them are designed equally for men or women, but one toy deserves special mention in this section: the Aneros. It's specifically designed for men for the sake of prostate stimulation, either on its own or accompanying masturbation, and is basically the men's equivalent of the "Archer Wand" toy mentioned earlier.

Something Often Overlooked...

We realize this suggestion may seem out of place in a sex toy guide, but we can't help but mention it: finding clothing that expresses who you are. The increased feelings of sexiness which you gain from wearing clothes that you feel you look good in, and which you feel confident in, is very real regardless of your gender.

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Sex Toys for Women

For Having Orgasms With: Vibrators

If you're female, or have a female partner, a vibrator is the toy most likely to make the biggest difference to your sex life. Many women have their first orgasm with a vibrator, and most women find it easier to reach orgasm with a vibrator then by any other way. Furthermore, most women cannot reach orgasm through intercourse alone (not through any lack of appreciation or love for their partners, and not through any failing at all on their partner's part, rather just through how the female body is constructed), so if you're a male with a female partner and think it would be sexy and hot for her to have an orgasm while you're having intercourse, a vibrator could be the best present you could get.

Note that in this section we're just talking about vibrators that are meant to stimulate the clitoris, i.e. which are used externally, rather than inserted into the vagina. Regardless of what image may pop into your head when you hear the word "vibrator," the external kind is by far the most effective for having orgasms, and by far the most commonly recommended (not to mention that they can then also be used during intercourse with a partner).

Outlet-Powered Vibrators

If you buy only one vibrator, we recommend buying one that uses an electrical outlet rather than batteries: they last longer (potentially decades), they never run out of power just as you're about to have an orgasm, and since they're made by mainstream electronics companies and sold in everyday stores (people actually DO use them on their aching backs and feet) you don't even have to be embarrassed if someone else finds it.

Of the outlet-powered vibrators, the preferred choice is still the Hitachi Magic Wand: in comparison to other plug-in models the Hitachi Magic Wand is easier to use during sex with a partner, it's easier to put a condom over the end in case someone else wants to use it, and the optional penetrative attachments that you can get for it are higher-quality.

Tips: Use it through panties, sheets, or a thin towel if the vibrations are a little too intense for your bare clit. If you want to go for multiple clitoral orgasms, then after the first one back off on the pressure while keeping the vibrator moving, avoiding direct contact with your clit until your arousal level builds again. Moving your hips while using your vibrator - perhaps also squeezing and relaxing your "PC" muscle in time with your breathing - is something else that can enhance the whole experience. And finally, when it comes to using your vibrator during intercourse with a partner, you'll probably find that "doggy style" is the most convenient position to use the vibrator in.

Battery-Powered Vibrators

Even if you already own an outlet-powered vibrator, picking up a separate battery-powered one can still make sense: the smallest of them can easily be kept in a purse, you can use them more discreetly and spontaneously, they may be more convenient for partner sex if you and your partner like to change positions a lot, obviously you can use them when you're not near an electrical outlet, and some of them can be used in or near water (which is nice if you have a hot tub, or if the bathroom is the only place in your house where you have some privacy).

Right now the most versatile choice is probably the Waterdancer: it's very small, very well made, and completely waterproof, with a design similar to that of the famed (but non-waterproof) "Pocket Rocket."

Tip: Make sure you have spare batteries.

For Enhancing Your Orgasms: G-Spot Toys and Dildos

Once you've become comfortable using a vibrator on your clitoris, there are two different directions it might be fun to explore: either using a firm G-spot toy to also deliver firm pressure against your G-spot, or else using a dildo so that you can enjoy a fuller and more satisfied feeling while using your vibrator. Before beginning, please keep in mind that any toy you penetrate yourself with is going to feel better if you first apply a little water-based lube to it: good lube choices are covered a little later in this guide.

G-Spot Toys

We realize a lot of fuss gets made about the "G-spot," and not every woman finds pressure on this area of their vagina to be enjoyable, but the people who like it often find that they really like it, so please bear with us for a quick recap...

Basically, the G-spot is an area on the forward wall of the vagina (i.e. in the direction of your belly) about two to three inches in (i.e. just beyond the pubic bone), which particularly when you're very aroused may feel a little different from the area around it. One way to find and stimulate your G-spot is with a partner, using his or her first two fingers inside you to press firmly upwards, and perhaps stroke the area of the G-spot with a slight "come to me" motion. The other way to find and stimulate your G-spot is with a rigid curved toy.

So, if you own a Hitachi Magic Wand, one way to get started is to pick up the Gee Whiz attachment for it. If you own a clitoral vibrator other than the Hitachi Magic Wand, then get the Archer Wand toy instead (which is also the best choice if you either already know you like extremely firm G-spot pressure, or are having trouble finding your G-spot). On the other hand, if you don't own any sort of vibrator but know you definitely want something that can stimulate your G-spot as well as your clit, then the G-Twist may be your best bet.

Although G-spot stimulation isn't something that's enjoyable for every woman, if it works for you then the point is to either deepen and intensify the orgasms you get from your vibrator by stimulating your G-spot as you approach and go through your clitoral orgasm, or else to enjoy the G-spot stimulation as a sensation and source of orgasmic release completely on its own (maybe after first having one clitoral orgasm to warm up, or maybe not).

Tips: the first big tip about G-spot stimulation is that it's probably only going to be fun once you're aroused, and the more aroused you are the more fun it may be. The second big tip about G-spot stimulation is that the pressure may need to be quite firm and focused in order to work for you.


While G-spot toys are designed to intensely stimulate one particular part of the vagina, most dildos are designed to give you a more generally satisfying feeling of fullness, and perhaps feel good when gently moved in and out. When you have a clitoral orgasm with your vibrator or fingertips they give you something firm and satisfying to clench your vaginal muscles around, and if you like having sex with men they give you a feeling at least a little bit like intercourse with your partner which may help you fantasize. They're also available in a wide variety of shapes and textures, so you never have to get bored.

Your first choice in selecting a dildo is the material you want it to be made out of, and these days that's a no-brainer: you want silicone. Silicone is hypoallergenic and non-porous (meaning that if you like you can either clean it with hot water and anti-bacterial soap or else completely sterilize it by boiling it for five minutes), it feels warm to the touch and retains body heat, it transmits vibration beautifully, it can be made into toys that range from floppy to almost completely rigid, and if taken care of (i.e. not exposed to anything sharp that could puncture or tear it, and not exposed to silicone lubes) your toy could last a lifetime. In short, it's the perfect material to make a dildo out of.

Your second choice is selecting a width and length, and of these getting the right width is by far the more important (since you can always just not insert the dildo as far, or else wrap your fist around the base, if it would otherwise be too long). One way to pick a width is to use a rule of thumb: if you know that having two fingers in you feels just about right then select a dildo between an inch and an inch and a half in diameter, but if three fingers feels better to you then pick something slightly larger than an inch and a half in diameter. If you'd like to be more sure than this, you could first purchase some inexpensive non-silicone dildos in a variety of widths (such as these), and then choose the width of your silicone purchase based on which felt the most comfortable to you.

Your third choice is whether or not you want your dildo to resemble a human penis (though note that the "non-realistic" models are available in a variety of abstract textures and shapes, so in other words you don't have to miss out on any interesting kinds of friction just because your dildo doesn't have fake veins).

Your final choice is shape. Do you like the slightly eye-popping feeling of first being penetrated? Then pick something with a slightly pronounced head or knob at the tip. Do you like pressure against the forward wall of your vagina? Then pick something with a curve. But in general, it's probably simplest to just look at the shape and imagine what it might feel like inside you, and what it might feel like entering you, and make your choice from there.

So, with all that in mind, here are the links to the silicone dildos that Babeland carries.

For Having Harness Sex with a Partner

A harness is something you strap onto your pelvis to hold a dildo just over your pubic bone, which you can then use to penetrate your partner either vaginally or anally almost as if you had a flesh-and-blood penis. This is a powerful fantasy for some men and women, though certainly not all. However, like anything else in life that's safe, if you're not sure whether you'd like it or not then you're probably better off trying it at least once, so you and your partner can have more time in your lives to enjoy it if you find that it's something you both enjoy.

Right now, the preferred harnesses definitely seem to be either the Terra Firma or the Jaguar. Examples of dildos they can be paired with include the Mistress (medium), and the Leo (medium-large).

Tips: When using a harness, imagine that the dildo is actually part of your body (for most people this makes it easier to control). Also, if you have problems with your dildo slipping out of your partner, select a dildo with a slightly bulbous "head" so that the increased resistance will alert you when it's about to pop out.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Male Multiple Orgasm


What follows is a summary of some of the techniques presented in The Multi-Orgasmic Man. Please keep in mind that this is just a fraction of the information presented in the book: a lot of supporting material is left out, along with ALL the material related to "energy" techniques. Specifically, this summary will see you through only the first part of The Multi-Orgasmic Man: if you like what you experience based on the material below, then by all means buy the book and try the rest.


This book's basic approach for male multiple orgasms is that men stop or change the stimulation they are creating/receiving just prior to reaching the point of ejaculatory inevitability. If done close enough to ejaculation, one may experience the muscular contractions that accompany what the authors call "contractile phase orgasms" without moving into "expulsion phase orgasm." Expulsion-phase orgasm is accompanied by ejaculation and erection loss, while contractile-phase orgasm is accompanied by the normal feelings of "coming" (including the 3-5 sec. "fluttering" muscular contractions in the pelvis) without ejaculation and without erection loss.

The Multi-Orgasmic Man suggests that men "peak" to this contractile phase orgasm many times over the course of a lovemaking session or masturbation session. After experiencing each orgasm, one pauses for a few seconds and then resumes whatever pleasurable stimulation one was engaged in.


The first step this book discusses is learning about breathing. By breathing deeply and regularly (without hyperventilating) one can gain more control over orgasm, and enhance one's ability to skirt along the contractile side of things without falling over into the expulsionary side of things. Here's how to practice:

Exercise 1

  1. Sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet touching the floor about shoulder width apart.
  2. Place your hands over your navel and relax your shoulders.
  3. Inhale though your nose and feel your lower abdomen expand at the navel area (below and around it) so that it bulges outward. Your diaphragm will also descend.
  4. Keeping your chest relaxed, exhale with some force to pull the lower abdomen back in, as if you were pulling your navel back toward your spine. Also feel your penis and testicles pull up.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 eighteen to thirty-six times.


The following exercise enhances the ability to concentrate. The ability to direct attention to one's partner is an important part of sex.

Exercise 2

  1. Slowly inhale (expanding your belly) and exhale (flattening your belly). Count each complete inhalation and exhalation as one breath.
  2. Continue breathing from the belly and counting from one to one hundred, thinking only about your breathing.
  3. If you notice that your mind has strayed, start again.
  4. Practice this exercise twice a day until you can count to one hundred with ease.


The PC (pubococcygeus) muscle is responsible for the rhythmic contractions in the pelvis and anus during orgasm. In women, PC muscle contractions may be used to contract around the penis, causing further stimulation. In both men and women, a strong PC muscle is associated with stronger orgasms. Besides this effect, conscious contraction of the PC muscle around the prostate gland is one technique this book recommends men use in helping to avoid ejaculation.

Exercise 3

  1. When you are about to urinate, stand on your toes and the balls of your feet. If necessary, you can use the wall for support.
  2. Inhale deeply.
  3. Exhale slowly, forcefully push out the urine while pulling up on your perineum and clenching your teeth.
  4. Inhale and contract your PC muscle to stop the flow of urine midstream.
  5. Exhale and start urinating again.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 three to six times or until you have finished urinating.


This exercise is designed to strengthen the PC muscle. Although one could conceivably stop doing exercise 1 when proper breathing becomes second nature during sex, and one could stop doing exercise 2 when one is capable of directing and maintaining attention, and one could stop doing exercise 3 when one is familiar with one's PC muscle, one should make a habit of doing exercise 4. The more it is done, the stronger the PC muscle will get, and the better sex will feel.

This exercise may also be done by women to receive similar benefits. Please note that in the exercise below the only really important contraction is the PC contraction. You may skip the mouth and eye contractions if you wish, as well as any pelvic contractions unrelated to the PC muscle.

Exercise 4

  1. Inhale and concentrate on your prostate, perineum, and anus.
  2. As you exhale, contract your PC muscle around your prostate and around your anus while at the same time contracting the muscles around your eyes and mouth.
  3. Inhale and relax, releasing your PC, eye, and mouth muscles.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, contracting your muscles as you exhale and releasing them as you inhale, nine to thirty-six times.


This is where the core technique of male multiple orgasms is learned, before they're incorporated into lovemaking with a partner.

Exercise 5

  1. Start by lubricating your penis. Lubricant will increase your sensations. Oil is generally better than lotion, which dries up more quickly. [Though keep in mind that this is just for self-pleasuring - for sex with a partner, oil will break down latex condoms, and isn't the healthiest thing for the vagina, so it's not what you'd want to use with a partner.]
  2. Pleasure yourself however you like, remembering to massage and stimulate your entire penis, your scrotum, and you perineum, including what the book calls the "Million-Dollar Point" (a point on the perineum just forward of the anus). Continue to breathe deeply and regularly, as you learned in exercise 1.
  3. Try to notice your increasing levels of arousal: notice the tingling at the root of your penis, notice the stages of erection, notice your heartbeat rise.
  4. When you are getting near ejaculation, stop and rest (possibly breathing in deeply and holding the breath for a second or two). Try to notice the contraction of your PC muscle and anus that occurs at contractile-phase orgasm, although don't be surprised if it takes some time to experience this without ejaculating. You can also try to squeeze your PC muscle around your prostate if the prostate starts contracting and you are afraid you might fall over the edge.
  5. After you regain control, you can start again as many times as you like and continue for as long as you like.

In this exercise, one should experiment with getting as close as possible to ejaculation without ejaculating. The PC muscle contraction part of this technique is what allows you to get MUCH closer to ejaculation (and hence experience a fuller non-ejaculatory orgasm) than mere stopping would allow.

If you manage to achieve contractile-phase orgasms (without ejaculating) twice or more in one masturbation session without losing your erection, then you should pat yourself on the back: you're multi-orgasmic!


Once the proper feelings are identified and experienced in Exercise 5 (contractions of the PC muscle that WOULD have led to ejaculation but don't because you stopped and/or clamped your PC muscle around your prostate) they can be carried over straight away in to sex with a partner. The only difference is that with a partner you generally stop thrusting or else (verbally or non-verbally) ask your partner to slow down/stop whatever THEY are doing rather then slowing down/stopping your own hand as you did in Exercise 5.

Note that in sex with a female partner, it's often a good idea for the woman to experience an orgasm or two first (manually or orally) so that any stopping/starting is not as disturbing, and so that the intercourse in general is more pleasurable. Even so, if it's necessary for the man to slow down to avoid ejaculating, but the woman is close to orgasm and doesn't want thrusting to stop, there are a few options. Obviously, the man can stop thrusting and massage the clitoris or vagina with his hand. Another approach is to just change the thrusting style: instead of moving in and out, while all the way in move up and down or in circles while pressing your body against her clitoris. This movement is driven by the pelvis, and can be a lot of fun.


"Man on Top" (missionary) position allows good eye contact, which is valuable if both partners are multi-orgasmic and they want to do some of the "energy" stuff mentioned in this book. Although this position isn't the best at enabling G-spot stimulation, this kind of stimulation can be increased by putting a pillow underneath the woman's hips, or by her bringing her legs up to drape over the man's shoulders (also, the higher the legs, the deeper the penetration).

"Woman on Top" (straddling) position is an easy one for men to control ejaculation in. Gravity assists in ejaculatory control, and because the man can relax his pelvic muscles it's MUCH easier for him to pay attention to what's going on and slow things down if ejaculation is too close. This position also allows the woman to stimulate her clitoris during sex. The fact that the woman can control rate and type of stimulation, and the fact that she can stimulate her clitoris during sex, make this position a relatively easy one for multi-orgasmic women to be multi-orgasmic in.

"Man from Behind" (doggie) position is good if strong stimulation is desired, or if desire is flagging. Deep penetration is very easy, and becomes deeper the more "forward" the woman bends (i.e. leaning into the bed with the legs and torso at a sharper angle to each other). Clitoral stimulation is easy, and G-spot stimulation is pretty direct. The lack of eye contact is the only real drawback, though if you have a mirror by the bed you can see each other's eyes by looking to the side into the mirror (which some people find erotic).

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fitness Safety Tips

fitnessWe’re always up to our toes to lose the extra pounds. The problem is, others tend to overdo it to speed up getting back into shape. Here are just a few reminders on how to keep sweating towards a healthier you – less the injury and risk factors:

* Consult a health professional.
If you’re starting out on a new Fitness routine, remember to consult a health professional to provide expert advice before you begin. This is a must to foresee possible health risks posed by the exercise, especially for those with medical conditions. It is best to seek professional guidance rather than risking your health and safety.

* Warm up and stretch.
The vital parts in every exercise routine are stretching or warming up. Often overlooked when starting out one’s exercise regimen, stretching actually prepares your muscles to the impending rigidity of your workout. A good pointer is to do a less strenuous version of the exercise you’re about to do. Warming up prevents you to feel the strain of your activity by gradually increasing your heart rate, and puts off the buildup of lactic aid that causes soreness and tiredness in your muscles. A good 5- to 10-minute warm up is necessary before you exercise.

* Drink plenty of fluids.
Dehydration is one of the common problems suffered by individuals who frequently exercise. This may pose as a serious problem as water is a vital component of the human body, making up almost 78% of our body. Make sure you hydrate by drinking plenty of fluids so that which is lost from sweating is restored back to your body. Fluids help muscle endurance, as dehydrated muscles easily get sore and tired.

* Work with a Fitness partner.
A Fitness partner or a buddy may be helpful especially if you are not exercising under the watchful eye of a Fitness Trainer. A Fitness friend can be your spotter, motivator, or warn you in case you are overtraining. Besides, working with someone is better than exercising alone. It makes all the exercise much more fun.

* Wear the right kind of clothing and footwear.
Wearing the wrong shoe is usually the common cause of exercise injuries. Make sure that you’re wearing the right shoe size, and provide much needed support for your feet. Appropriate clothing is also a must. Wear comfortable clothes that are quick to dry and allow you to move freely during your regimen.

* Know your limitations.
Most of us tend to overdo our Fitness regimen just to shed off those extra calories we have gained. Try resting for a day in between your Fitness regimen to allow your muscles and body to recover. Muscle soreness and discomfort may lead to burnout and you may have to give up on your regimen all too quickly.

Remember these Fitness Safety tips so you can stay healthy and out of harm's way.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Best SUVs 2007

SUVPrinting a story on the best sport utility vehicles two weeks after An Inconvenient Truth won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature is perhaps a bit politically incorrect.

On the other hand, the people at the Oscars who made such impassioned pleas for a greener world with lower carbon-dioxide emissions--folks such as Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and Melissa Etheridge--would probably feel a bit smug if they saw SUV sales reports from 2006.

DaimlerChrysler's (nyse: DCX - news - people ) Chrysler Group saw passenger-car sales decline by 3%, while sales of trucks and SUVs declined 8%. At General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ), car sales declined 7%, while truck and SUV sales declined by around 9% or 10%.

Among American automakers, Ford Motor (nyse: F - news - people ) produced the most dramatic discrepancy between car and truck/SUV sales last year.

The company's passenger-car sales increased 5%, while truck and SUV sales declined 14%. In a January statement announcing its 2006 sales figures, Ford said "higher gasoline prices and long-term demographic trends drove SUV sales lower, and a soft housing industry weighed on full-size truck sales."

But the sales picture is changing in the first two months of 2007.

Balancing Act
The arrival of such new, car-like "crossover" SUVs as Ford's Edge, Lincoln's MKX, GMC's Acadia and Saturn's Outlook are helping even the scales a bit--even perhaps tipping them back toward good news for SUV manufacturers.

GM reported in a recent statement that the Acadia and Outlook "drove a 97% retail increase in the mid-crossover segment" for the company in February, compared with that time the year before. Such other new SUVs as Jeep's redesigned Wrangler have also been well received.

These new, car-like SUVs, as well as steadier gas prices, could make 2007 a better year for builders of the practical but socially maligned vehicles--but American automakers aren't placing their bets yet.

In that January statement in which Ford blamed declining truck and SUV sales on gas prices, demographic trends and the housing industry, it added, "Ford believes these factors will continue to weigh on these segments in 2007."

Still, the best new SUVs really are quite something.

Winning Wheels
Cadillac's overhauled Escalade, which the company introduced in 2006, has the nicest interior of any American automobile.

Mercedes-Benz was quick to follow with tough competition for the Escalade: the plush, full-size, $53,000 GL-Class SUV, which saw 19,000 sales in 2006--a better performance than that of Mercedes' more-affordable R-Class SUV.

The GL and the Escalade are among the best SUVs, but 2007's fourth quarter will see the arrival of an SUV unlike any other: the Dutch-built, 12-cylinder, 500-horsepower Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris: the world's only exotic SUV.

Post- Inconvenient Truth, is it gauche to be excited about a few SUVs? We know that plenty of people still love the vehicles for their cargo utility and commanding views of the road, so a guide to 10 great ones, we think, is perfectly acceptable.

Sorry, Mr. Gore.

Source @

Monday, December 10, 2007

Walking as a Cardio Exercise

walkingThe following is a short description, the targeted body muscles/areas, and suggested ways to Incorporate Walking in your Fitness Plan.

Walking is one of the easiest, most versatile, and most profitable cardio exercises to be fit. All you Need to Walk is a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothes, and desire.

Walking is a great way to learn about how your heart rate reacts to different exertion levels since it's easy to monitor and control how hard you work. It doesn't matter if you Walk Outside (e.g. Hiking) or Indoors on the treadmill (especially if the weather is poor) since you will get just as much exercise.

Targeted Fitness Goals: works the gluts and all the muscles in the leg - quadriceps and hamstrings in particular.

Incorporate Walking in your Fitness Plan: Walk for at least 30 minutes, 3-4 days a week. If you get the hang of it, add five minutes to your walks (total walking time of 35 minutes). Keep adding 5 minutes until you are walking as long as desired.

Keep in mind that the more times you do this Cardio Exercise in a week, the higher your health benefits will be.

Source @

Monday, December 3, 2007

Fashion For Men

men fashionDressing sense is a necessity as the fashion rule. A man should be aware about the color combination of his trouser, shirt, neck-tie, and shoes etc. A man should choose the light colored shirt and dark trouser color. You can select printed or plan shirt according to the trend. Men can choose the matching and stylish neck-ties. There are a large variety of ties in the market that you can select the suitable one. Your ties should be slightly lighter than your shirt’s color or it can also contrast of your shirt or it can be matching of your trousers color.

A man should wear a good looking or luxurious watch, if he can afford, because watch is one of the most important accessories of the man. You can choose a watch according to your lifestyle. The one thing is noticeable as the rule of fashion that your shoes and belt should be of the same color as your watchband.

A man should not wear different colored belt and shoes rather the color of the belt and shoes should be the same. You can choose brown, black and golden brown colored shoes; those can match with any colored dress while other colors can be difficult to match. Without a belt your trouser fitting will not look better.

Eyeglasses also express the personality of a man. Sunglasses not only protect your face and eye from the sunrays but also provide a admiring shape to your face.

Source @

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Basic Fashion Rules

Gender differentiates the behavioral norms of a male and female. Society also transforms biological sexuality into the products, which are used by the human for the life activities. A society expects that dresses of the male and female should be according to the physical difference of the body. There can be some cultural and creative changes in the dresses of the males and females. The people who are wearing the dresses should have the sense about what to be wearing according to their gender and a professional dress designer should also have the sense to design the dress according to the gender of the client.

Men wearing dresses those are designed for women can look nonsense and humorous. A female should wear the dresses according to her physic. In the same way a man should wear dresses according to his body structure and the personality. Women can look more beautiful in wearing the designed cuts in the dresses while men wearing should be sincere and smart looking. There can be some changes in the men wearing according to the fashion trend but it should have a basic difference from the female dressings.

The males and female consumer should also select dresses according to their body structure as if his/her height is short then choose the lined cloths and it can give you a tall look. A slim consumer should not wear the tight fitting dresses but choose loose cloths then your physic and it will give you a soft look. So, body differences and gender differences play an important role in the fashion world.

Source @

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Lying, Flirting (with Someone Else!) & Fighting Can Make You Closer

Raise your hand if you've ever gotten into a stupid fight with your guy and stormed off in a huff. Or if you get a secret rush from flirting with a cute waiter, even though you adore your husband. Or if you occasionally tell your guy blatantly untrue things, like, "Sure, I think your bald spot is sexy!"

Sound familiar? Fighting, flirting, fibbing — these are all habits that conventional wisdom says are big, fat no-no's in a relationship. But guess what: Everyone does this stuff sometimes — yes, even that couple you know who looks so perfect from the outside. And here's the really good news: A lot of supposedly bad love habits not only aren't bad for you, they just might do your long-term bond a whole lot of good. Read on to learn how these five love fouls can actually make your relationship stronger, closer, and better than ever.

t's dangerous, it's wrong — it's the gateway act to cheating. In fact, to some, it is cheating. But the truth is, a little innocent flirting with someone other than your steady can have serious relationship benefits.

First of all, the ego boost you get from flirting with someone new can make you feel as sexy as you did when you and your guy first got together. "Over time, couples get so used to each other, they become complacent," says Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a psychologist in Los Angeles. "Flirting with other people brings out the 'Wow!' factor again. It reignites your sexiness and boosts your confidence." The key is that you share the benefits: "You can take that sexy energy home to your husband and use it in the bedroom," says Thomas.

What's more, if your guy bears witness to another man showing some flirtatious interest in you now and then, that's not always a bad thing. "A little jealousy is like a wake-up call," says Ted Huston, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of When the Honeymoon Is Over: Why Some Marriages Succeed and Others Fail. "It reminds you of how lucky you are to have what you have."

IBut when does innocent flirting cross the line? Thomas's rule: If you wouldn't do it with your partner present — whether because you think it would embarrass him or because it would cross trust boundaries — don't do it when he's not. And when you do flirt, be honest with yourself about what's behind it: If you find yourself constantly looking forward to flirting with the handsome neighbor you see on your evening jog, you could be sprinting toward trouble.

"Flirting is just part of my DNA and my husband knows it," says Heather, 31, a mother of one in Georgia. "For me, what makes it okay is the intention behind it and what is in my heart. I know my husband is the greatest man and father in the world, and I feel infinitely blessed to have him in my life. Knowing this, I don't feel ashamed to let the flirt in me out every now and then."

Being Selfish
Compromise doesn't mean finding the exact middle ground in every single situation.

If there's one piece of relationship wisdom we hear over and over, it's compromise, compromise, compromise. So how can being selfish possibly be good? Here's the key: Compromise doesn't mean finding the exact middle ground in every situation. "Compromise can also mean that this time, you do it 100 percent your way, and next time, you do it 100 percent his way," says Thomas. And it's the doing it your way you should stop feeling bad about.

"Couples think that both partners should give the same amount," says relationship coach Susan Page, author of Why Talking Is Not Enough: 8 Loving Actions That Will Transform Your Marriage. "The problem is, you have no control over what your partner gives." Yes, in an ideal world, you're each giving the other just what's needed: You cede the remote on Monday nights; he hands over the arts pages on Sunday mornings. But many of the big and small needs we have aren't always obvious, and your man can't read your mind. That's why pinning your happiness on whether or not he gives you what you need when you need it — be it a compliment, time alone, affection that doesn't have to lead to sex, or even a sink that doesn't drip anymore — well, that's a recipe for frustration and resentment, no matter how much love and how many good intentions you both have.

So instead of waiting for him to give you what you need every time, get a little grabby now and then. "Doing some taking as well as giving," says Page, "is a way for you to keep your relationship perfectly balanced." No, we're not talking about blowing the kids' college funds on a trip to Vegas. We're talking about small gestures that make a big difference to you. If he's stuck at the office when you want to go to your friend's birthday dinner, don't wait for him — just go. If you haven't been getting to watch your own shows lately, TiVo his and tell him he's going to have to wait an hour tonight. If he still hasn't fixed the sink, just hire a plumber already. Don't feel guilty about choosing to put yourself first at moments like these. Taking things for yourself will make you feel satisfied with what you've got, instead of leaving you brewing and stewing over what you're not getting from him. And that'll make you a happier, more loving partner in the long run.

Arguing is actually one of the healthiest things you and your guy can do for your relationship.

It's true that nonstop battling isn't great for your love. (See the movie The War of the Roses.) And some couples are so worried about the possible negative effects of arguing — Are we tearing apart our bond? Does it mean we're not meant to be? — that they pride themselves on never arguing. But here's a surprise: Never fighting can be just as bad as constant conflict. In fact, arguing is one of the healthiest things you and your guy can do.

Think of fighting as relationship Drano: Once in a while you have to clean out the pipes. Sure, it gets ugly, but afterward, things flow more smoothly. If, on the other hand, you stuff your anger, it eventually builds up so much that it can sabotage your entire relationship. "We are not clones of one another," says Sam R. Hamburg, Ph.D., a Chicago marital therapist and author of Will Our Love Last?: A Couple's Road Map. "It is inevitable that we will disagree from time to time. So either you verbalize your disagreement, or you don't verbalize it and you harbor resentment, which eventually tears you apart."

Executed correctly, a fight can even be a tool to advance your cause as a couple. "Arguing doesn't always lead to a consensus," says Huston, "but it's useful to your relationship because it can lead to a clarification of your differences and a solution on how to move past them together." Just remember the "right" way to fight: "The key to a good argument is that you can disagree all you want, but you still show respect to your partner," says Huston. Stacks and stacks of research have shown that partners who use arguments as an opportunity to criticize each other or show contempt (by, say, rolling their eyes) are far more likely to separate or divorce.

"Here's the golden rule I tell my clients about fighting," says REDBOOK Love Network expert Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free. "You should only talk about the problem long enough that you both understand what the problem is. Then start working on the solution."


Okay, so you're having a "healthy" argument with your guy, and things have gotten superheated. You're getting angrier, your voice is getting louder, and you're saying the same things over and over in an attempt to hammer home your point. Stop and walk away, now. When the fight reaches that fevered pitch, you experience an increased heart rate and a surge in stress hormones, a phenomenon REDBOOK Love Network expert John Gottman, Ph.D., has dubbed "flooding." "Flooding is a physiological response to the stress of an argument that sends your body into fight-or-flight mode," explains Tessina. "The emotional side of your brain is so aroused that it overtakes your logical side, and you're no longer capable of being productive in the fight."

When either of you is flooded, the fight can stray onto ground that isn't just off-topic, but destructive. "Once couples open the floodgates, they start bringing up things that happened years ago, tapping into old feelings of pain and hurt," says Thomas. "It's in these moments of fury that you blurt out hurtful things you would never say in a calm, clear state of mind."

To avoid saying or doing something you might regret, recognize when you're getting flooded and take a time-out. And since flooding is more typical in men, according to Gottman's research, if you sense that your guy is losing it first, you might use your less-flooded female mind to suggest the time-out yourself.

"My husband is so bullheaded that we'll get to a point in an argument where nothing is being accomplished, and we're getting madder and madder," says Jennifer, 33, a mother of one from New Jersey. "I finally started telling him I needed a break, and I leave the house for an hour. When I come back, he's always much calmer and he actually listens to my side."

If your fights often escalate quickly, try establishing a cease-fire code. "Make a rule that if one of you makes the time-out hand signal, you'll just stop fighting, no questions asked, and step back until you've both calmed down," suggests Tessina. If it's late at night and you think you're better off sleeping, do that. Yep, you heard us right: Sometimes you should just go to bed angry.

One caveat: When you walk away from a fight, don't walk away for good. "The problem for most couples isn't that their fights are too long, but that they're too short," explains Hamburg. "They walk away from the fight because they're worked up, but then abort the fight altogether because it makes them uncomfortable to restart." Make a commitment that you will discuss the issue again when you both have clearer heads.


Sometimes telling a little white lie is easier than telling the truth. But watch out for lies that keep things smooth now but lay minefields that could explode later.

"No, of course your haircut doesn't make you look like Pee-wee Herman." "I love your mother's tuna casserole." "My ex? Oh, he was terrible in bed." Yes, sometimes telling a little white lie is just easier than telling the truth. And you shouldn't feel too guilty over the occasional fib — when it comes to love, honesty really isn't always the best policy.

Let's say your husband meets your new six foot-tall, blue-eyed, former-model coworker Brian at a company party. "Do you find that guy attractive?" he asks on the way home. What should you say? "Sometimes the subtext of a question is more important than the question itself," says Huston. In this case, what your guy may really be asking is, "Do you still love me and do I need to be worried about our relationship?" That's an easy one, right?

Next, ask yourself, Who am I protecting? If a lie would mean protecting yourself and your attraction to Brian, it's unhealthy. If, on the other hand, you're protecting your husband's feelings and want him to feel assured of your love, it's not only understandable to say, "Brian? Ugh, he's boring," it may actually be more truthful than if you said, "Sure, I think he's gorgeous — who wouldn't?" "A white lie is beneficial if it is preserving honorable feelings within your relationship — in this case, that you love your husband and would never betray him," says Thomas. "You're lying to uphold a greater truth for a greater good."

Just watch out for lies that keep things smooth now but lay minefields that could explode later. For example, "It's not okay if you're lying to avoid a confrontation that needs to happen," says Tessina, or if not knowing the truth will harm your partner — like if you lie about your personal spending when you and your husband are on a tight budget and saving to buy a house. "Sooner or later the truth will come out," says Tessina. "Not only will the problem be exposed, but the deception will be too, and the deception is the worst part. That's what makes your partner wonder, How can I ever trust you again?" Think about what your partner deserves to hear and "do right by him," says Thomas. If that means saying his beer gut has never looked better, then smile and fib away!

Source @ RedBook

Monday, November 12, 2007

Smoking Boosts Blood Pressure in Women

Women who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day have a 21 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure, increasing their risk for heart disease, a new study found.

Women who smoke less have less of a risk, but even those who smoke a pack a day significantly increase their risk for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, the study said.

The findings are published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Women who smoke a pack a day are at increased risk of developing hypertension," said lead researcher Dr. Thomas S. Bowman, who's with the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Women who smoke two packs a day are at even greater risk," he said.

For the study, Bowman's team collected data on 28,236 women who took part in the Women's Health Study. During a follow-up of 9.8 years, 30.4 percent of the women developed high blood pressure.

The researchers found that women who smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day had a 11 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure, compared with women who never smoked. Women who smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day had a 21 percent greater risk.

For women who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes a day, the risk for high blood pressure was a relatively insignificant 4 percent, the researchers found.

Whether quitting smoking reduces the risk of high blood pressure isn't known, Bowman said, but he suspects that the longer a person smokes, the greater the risk.

Bowman noted the high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke. "Hypertension may be the pathway to strokes and cardiovascular death and heart attacks," he said.

Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, said the study findings are yet another reason not to smoke.

"We really don't need another reason for people not to smoke," he said. "This study adds to the information about another potential mechanism by which smoking contributes to adverse outcomes."

Aside from the 5,000 chemical and known carcinogens in cigarettes, high blood pressure is another threat that comes with the habit of smoking, Krumholz said.

Krumholz said the new finding should have meaning for girls thinking about taking up smoking. "They know about the risk for cancer and heart disease, but this is something more for them to consider as a reason to stay away from cigarettes," he said.

More information
For more on smoking and heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.

Source @ Forbes

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Successful Breast-Feeding

SATURDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- More American women are choosing to breast-feed. That's the good news.

breastfeedThe discouraging news is that the percentage of women breast-feeding still falls short of national objectives, often because they experience problems or difficulties that are easily overcome, according to lactation experts.

Seventy-four percent of women who gave birth in 2004 initiated breast-feeding, up from 70.9 percent of women who delivered babies in 2000, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that was still a bit short of the objectives set by the federal government's Healthy People 2010 initiative, which had hoped to have 75 percent of new mothers breast-feeding in 2004.

The number of women who were breast-feeding exclusively was even smaller. Just 30.5 percent of the women who delivered babies in 2004 breast-fed exclusively through age 3 months of age, although the national objective was 60 percent.

So, why aren't more women breast-feeding and for longer periods? Experts say that even new mothers who know all about the benefits of breast-feeding for their baby -- including protection from lower respiratory and middle-ear infections as well as a reduction in the risk of childhood obesity -- can get discouraged and give up.

Some of the most common reasons cited for stopping breast-feeding include sore or cracked nipples, not producing enough milk, a baby having difficulty feeding, or the perception that the baby wasn't satisfied by breast milk.

But breast-feeding also provides the mother with benefits. It helps speed the recovery of her body after birth, and recent studies have suggested that breast-feeding may lower a woman's risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Here are some experts' best tips on succeeding with breast-feeding -- even if you're a beginner:

* Don't assume breast-feeding is "innate."

"Breast-feeding is not instinctive," said Katy Lebbing, a board certified lactation consultant in Villa Park, Ill., and a leader for La Leche League International, which promotes breast-feeding. "That's a myth. It's kind of like thinking all men can fix all cars."

Mothers who choose to breast-feed need education and support, agreed Karen Bonuck, associate professor of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, who has published studies on breast-feeding practices.

* Get help -- early.

Ask your health-care provider for information about breast-feeding early in your pregnancy, Bonuck advised women. Don't wait until you're six months or more along, she said. Too many other activities -- baby showers, getting the nursery ready, thinking about names -- take your attention during those final months of pregnancy.

* Take a breast-feeding class.

breastfeedAsk your doctor if your hospital has one. Or see a lactation consultant -- you can ask your doctor or the La Leche League for a referral. You should make these preparations before you'll be ready to breast-feed, Lebbing and Bonuck advised.

Just a few sessions with a lactation consultant can pay off, Bonuck said. "You will understand the normal physiology of how the milk is produced," she said. The consultant, working with a doll, can help women practice the best positions to breast-feed and get comfortable with the concept.

* Be sure the hospital personnel know you want to breast-feed.

"Make your wishes known," Bonuck said. "Some [hospitals] have cards that say, 'Breast-feed only.' " That reduces the risk of confusion and your baby mistakenly getting a bottle of formula, Bonuck said. She also advises mothers-to-be to tell the hospital staff about other preferences, such as no pacifiers.

* Breast-feed as soon as your baby is born.

Breast-feeding immediately after birth -- even before the baby is cleaned up -- is preferable, Bonuck said. "Bring an advocate with you," she suggested. This person will help to make sure your wishes are carried out.

* Keep the baby with you as much as possible while in the hospital.

"Make your wishes known," Bonuck advised. She prefers keeping the baby in the mother's room, not in the nursery, because it gives mother and baby a chance to practice breast-feeding. "It's not a spa," she said of the hospital stay.

* Get help once you return home.

Enlist the support of family members or friends once you are back home, Lebbing advised. "You need someone to cook and help around the house, especially in the first month," she said. If you have other children, get some child-care help. Relieving some of the stress of a newborn can help new moms focus on the important task of breast-feeding, Bonuck and Lebbing said.

To learn more about breast-feeding, visit La Leche League International

Source @ Forbes

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How To Live Rich Without Going Broke

While very few of us will reach the ranks of the world's billionaires, it doesn't mean we can't live like them.

And we don't have to shell out several million to do so.

That's because a number of companies are offering temporary use of high-end products and services such as yachts, exotic cars, luxury handbags, and even personal chefs and stylists.

So while you may not be able to call it your own, you still get every benefit of living the rich life.

"We call it the Luxury Access Revolution," says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a research company that provides luxury information to high-net-worth individuals and the companies that cater to them. "It makes it easy for you to say, 'I'm not going to buy it. I'm going to carve out the experience and buy the experience,' because [people] don't want the hassle of owning the possession. You're seeing it across many more categories."

NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway-owned company that began offering fractional jet ownership in 1986, caught on to customer desire for the luxe life with minimal commitment in 2001. That's when it introduced the Marquis Jet Card, which allows the user to sublease a NetJets fractional share of which Marquis Jet Partners is the owner. Individuals may pre-buy 25 hours of yearly flight time for $119,900 (excluding additional charges like tax, fuel, etc.).

Several other companies are following suit.

Home Cooking
Private Chefs, which has staffed the homes of Richard Branson and Madonna, will dispatch a personal cook to yours for as little as a day. Be prepared to pay a $100 agency fee plus $35 per hour, and everything else is taken care of, from the shopping and cooking to serving and cleanup.

"This is the part of our business that's been increasing steadily in the past year," says Christian Paier, PCI president. The company gets an average of 10 requests per week in each of its eight offices located in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Dallas; London; New York; Las Vegas; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. "It appeals," Paier continues, "to a lot more people than the full-time thing. It's affordable; anybody can do it." His customers often "want to splurge and have a wonderful experience, whether it's just them and their spouse, or a small dinner for six or eight friends. People absolutely love it."

It's hard not to feel privileged when an executive chef is serving you gourmet food, but when it's not simply your primary residence, but rather your only one, cabin fever tends to set in.

Solution? Get an apartment in Paris.

Ooh-La-La Life
Yes, it may be temporary, but opt for one of the exquisite, fully furnished pieds-a-terre available through, and you're practically guaranteed an authentic experience. The company offers short- and long-term rentals in select neighborhoods, including Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Ile St. Louis, Le Marais and the Latin Quarter. To live like a local without the hassle, the company offers an optional daily or weekly housekeeping service, and an optional car and driver.

A 2,000-square-foot apartment, for example, which is considered very large for Paris, would run for about $3 million, and that's without taxes and the cost of maintaining such an investment. However, a brief stay in one of's similarly sized dwellings, which combine the spaciousness and privacy of an apartment with the amenities of a hotel, might only cost about $10,000 per week at the higher end of the spectrum.

"It's a place of their own," says CEO Claude Nederovique. "They live like Parisians. They can really participate in life, [which is] a completely different experience [from a hotel]."

Nederovique saw the number of people requesting his service double last year. 90% of his clientele come from the U.S., and most rent from one week to one month, though some stay as long as three months.

Handbag Heaven
Even those who just want to dress like a socialite, but can't bring themselves to part with $1,200 for a Gucci handbag, can do it affordably with Bag Borrow or Steal, a site that lends customers high-end bags and jewelry from designers like Chanel, Versace and Dior, for a weekly or monthly fee.

"Borrowing is really about freedom, access and convenience," says Lynn Ridenour, senior vice president of marketing. "It gives [customers] greater access to a vast inventory of luxury accessories and the opportunity to indulge in more, more often."

Is there a downside? Of course: In the end, you do have to give it all back.

Still, says Pedraza, "There's no question that [the trend of temporary use] will grow. It is such a great convenience where you can buy the experience, not the depreciating assets.

Source @ Forbes

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hyundai's Concept Genesis

Once known for building economy cars of dubious quality, Hyundai has been moving upscale with such well-appointed, near-luxury cars as its recently overhauled Santa Fe SUV and its all-new Veracruz SUV.

Hyundai's unveiling of its Concept Genesis prototype last week at the New York International Auto Show was a turning point in the company's history, because the Concept Genesis is the first Hyundai that is a bona fide luxury car--a sedan with faux-Lexus styling and the size of a BMW 5 Series. The prototype, which previews a production model that will go on sale next year, puts Toyota Motor (nyse: TM - news - people ) on alert: Hyundai is about to challenge not only Toyota but its upscale Lexus subsidiary as well.

The rear-drive Concept Genesis will spawn a car that will cost "well under $30,000," says Hyundai Motor America Vice President John Krafcik.

The other most important detail about the car is that it will feature a V-8 engine--the type of power plant widely used by such luxury automakers as Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. The highest-caliber sedans, such as BMW's 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz's S-Class, use V-8 or V-12 engines, so Hyundai's first V-8 is a step into the big leagues for the automaker. Not even Acura has a V-8 in its lineup.

In a recent statement, Hyundai said the Concept Genesis' 4.6-liter V-8 delivers "well over 300" horsepower. The V-8 comes with a six-speed transmission, and in future applications, Hyundai could enlarge the engine or equip it with supercharging. "Concept Genesis," the company said, "marks the beginning of premium performance for the Hyundai brand," adding that the car has a zero-to-60 time of "well under six seconds."

Americans have never seen a rear-wheel-drive Hyundai before. Rear drive, in which the transmission sends the engine's power to the rear wheels, provides superior steering and sportier driving dynamics, compared with front-wheel drive. Premium sedans, such as the 7 Series and S-Class, are rear drive, as are such sports cars as Porsches and Ferraris.

Hyundai says the Concept Genesis uses "ultra-high-tensile steel" in its construction, giving the car a stiff, light, large body that compares favorably to those of BMW's 5 Series and Mercedes' E-Class midsize sedans. Hyundai also says it tuned the Concept Genesis' suspension to be sporty and responsive. The driver can select settings for the car's ride and steering characteristics.

The car also features such upscale amenities as adaptive cruise control, which can make the car follow the vehicle in front of it at a fixed distance; heated and cooled seats; a push-button starter; a navigation system with a rear-mounted camera to assist in parking; Bluetooth technology; and an Infinity audio system.

The Fact
The closest thing Hyundai has to a luxury sedan right now is its $25,000 Azera, which is one of the market's best values. The Azera has a 263-hp V-6 engine, and its interior volume compares favorably to that of the most expensive sedans from Mercedes and BMW. The Azera's interior looks remarkably like that of a Lexus and features standard upscale amenities, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. Last year, Azera sales increased by 50% to 27,000 units.

Source @ Forbes

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Secret sex turn-ons every couple should try

It's Just a Fantasy … but what do those racy scenarios you love to imagine really say about you?

sex fantasyJust because you fantasize about sex atop the Eiffel Tower doesn't mean you want to get arrested in Paris. So what are you really lusting after? Sex therapist and REDBOOK Love Network expert Laura Berman, Ph.D., author of The Passion Prescription, interprets some common sexual fantasies and offers tips for how to (safely!) bring them to life in a bedroom near you.

YOUR FANTASY: Sex in public
"Imagining an audience that's lusting after your own sexual excitement is empowering," says Berman. "Plus, the idea of having sex in an off-limits place is titillating because of the forbidden factor." Incorporate a little exhibitionism into your sex life by making out passionately with your partner in public or slipping into the bathroom during a party for some surreptitious everything-but. At home, share with him your thoughts of being watched, or just imagine there are peepers present for your private party.

YOUR FANTASY: Experimenting with another woman
sex fantasy"It's fun and natural to embrace the fluidity of your sexual interest by imagining becoming sexual with another woman," says Berman. Just sharing these thoughts with your partner can spice things up, but to go beyond that, Berman suggests spotting women you're attracted to while out and telling your partner what intrigues you about them. Hang on to these visuals for when you're back at home in bed.

YOUR FANTASY: Handcuffs and whips
Bondage scenarios are often about power, says Berman. "It's thrilling to think about being tied up and at your partner's mercy — where your only option is to receive pleasure, without responsibility, guilt, or self-consciousness," she explains. "And for those who imagine playing dominatrix, it can be exciting to envision taking total control." Even if you're not ready for whips and chains, try tipping the balance of power in bed: One partner can blindfold the other or tie his or her wrists together with a silk scarf. Or trade off being completely in charge — first your partner does everything you say, then next time you do his bidding.

YOUR FANTASY: A threesome
"Imagining a three-way scenario allows you to mix up your sex life with someone new, without actually cheating," says Berman. "And monogamy can be a real challenge for any long-term relationship." You can enjoy this fantasy on your own during masturbation or share it with your partner. "You or your guy can pretend there's a third person present, then narrate the imagined scenario," says Berman. A few things to explore: Imagine being serviced by your husband plus another man, with all attention on you; or identify potential thirds when you're out together, then take those images back into the bedroom.

YOUR FANTASY: Sex with a stranger
"The idea of being with a stranger is exciting because it's a clean-slate, no-complications situation," says Berman. "You can allow yourself to really let loose when fantasizing about sex with someone you're never going to see again." You and your man can become strangers to each other by role-playing. "Head separately to the same bar and then have fun flirting and picking each other up as if you've never met before," says Berman. "When it comes time to go 'home' together, try taking the party to the bar's bathroom or to a hotel — anywhere but where you usually make love." Take it up a notch by wearing disguises or trying on pretend personalities to really become unknown to each other — and to yourselves. Stepping back and looking at your man as if for the first time is also a great way to rediscover the heat that originally brought you two together.

REDBOOK readers share just how wild their imaginations can get.

"When I'm on my own, I fantasize about being intimate with another woman. Together, my husband and I talk through what it would be like to have a threesome — our descriptions really turn us on."
—Katherine Becker, 31 Chandler, AZ

"I dream about having sex on the beach. Sex in public seems so adventurous, and hearing the roar of the waves in the background would be sexy and special."
—Stefanie Schmidt, 29 Las Vegas

"I think about a teacher I had a crush on in high school. I'm a schoolgirl again and we're alone in his room. He compliments my perfume and things escalate from there!"
—Barbara Stanley, 52 Blairsville, GA

"I fantasize about being seduced by one of the hot guys on General Hospital. He meets me in a candlelit room, and as soft music plays in the background, he undresses me slowly and then makes love to me."
—Destiny Eve Pifer, 25 Bedford, PA

"I think about a 22-year-old cabana boy who works at my beach club. He's tall, tan, and extremely good-looking, and he struts around the pool area wearing next to nothing. Let's just say I've gotten quite the fodder for my daydreams!"
—Suzanne Coppersmith, 43 East Rockaway, NY

"In my fantasy, I imagine myself in a thong, Manolo stilettos, and a couple of yards of diamonds dripping down to my tanned navel, parading around an ultrachic beach in Saint-Tropez. A billionaire picks me up, licks Cristal off of my hot, wet body, and then makes savage, wild love to me."
—Gerri Ward, 45, Detroit

"Whipped cream and chocolate syrup — plain and simple!"
—Kristi Zieger, 39 Yakima, WA

LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH: Having sex with a current partner is the number one fantasy for both men and women.

WE KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT: Sex pops into women's brains an average of 4.5 times per day, according to a study of college students.

Source @ MSN

Friday, August 17, 2007

How To Stay Healthy On Vacation

Whether it's a visit to an Ecuadorian rainforest, a stay on a secluded Caribbean beach or a South African safari, you've undoubtedly been planning your winter escape for months.

trevelingBut while you've thought through everything from flight reservations to beach reads, you probably haven't planned how to prevent the one thing that could suddenly and easily ruin your whole trip--getting sick.

Think it won't happen to you? Experts estimate that traveler's diarrhea alone, which is usually contracted via contaminated food or water, affects up to 50% of all international tourists for some period of time. Countless others catch nasty bugs from infected insects or simply by using public transportation.

"Traveling without taking some precautions is like driving without wearing a seatbelt," says Dr. Susan McLellan, director of the Tulane University Travel Clinic and associate professor of medicine in infectious diseases at the Tulane University School of Medicine. "You're probably going to be fine--unless something bad happens."

Preventive Measures
If you'd like to spend your hard-earned vacation abroad seeing more than the inside of your hotel bathroom, before you leave, schedule a trip to a health-care provider who specializes in travel medicine. Aim for two months in advance of your departure date, although even a last-minute visit can offer a lot. You'll get more than a shot in the arm. General education about smart traveling behavior, McLellan says, is one of the most important things a specialist can provide.

For instance, you may already drink strictly bottled water when traveling outside of North America, Northern and Western Europe, Japan, Australia or New Zealand. But it's far more likely, McLellan says, that you'll get a dose of bad bacteria from contaminated food that isn't boiled, cooked or peeled.

Additionally, the more your meal is handled between being cooked and making it to your plate, the higher the risk. That's why you might be better off eating something straight from a street vendor's boiling pot than off a swanky hotel buffet that's been sitting around for a while.

Travelers heading on safari or to exotic, tropical destinations should talk to a doctor and check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site to see if mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as malaria or dengue, are a problem, says Dr. R. Doug Hardy, associate professor of infectious diseases at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. If so, they might need to take a preventive medication.

Other precautions include regularly applying an insect repellent containing about 30% DEET, which will provide hours of protection at a clip. It's also worthwhile to wear long pants and long sleeves; prior to a trip, consider dipping or spraying clothing with the repellent permethrin, McLellan says. Sleeping under a net that's been treated with insecticide is smart too.

For those planning as far out as a trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, experts from The Methodist Hospital Wellness Services in Houston recommend a six-month series of three shots to prevent Hepatitis A and B. They also suggest a typhoid vaccine for people who have adventurous palates or plan to explore beyond the tourist areas.

If you're headed for the high seas or just an afternoon of sailing, prepare to spend time above deck in the fresh air or gazing through a porthole on the horizon to avoid getting seasick. An ailment that can happen to anyone, seasickness is caused by a conflict in sensory input from the eyes and inner ear to a person's balance center. When your ear says you're bouncing around but your eyes say you're standing still, the result is nausea, says Dr. Michael Jacobs, author of The Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine.

Jacobs recommends eating foods that are low in fat to minimize nausea and experimenting with treatments such as ginger root capsules, drugs and pressure bands until you find something that works.

And no matter where you're going, pack the medications you might want access to if you do get a bad headache, cold or gastrointestinal illness. Better to be safe than try to find an all-night drug store in the outback.

"I always bring along what I'm sure I'll need," McLellan says, "and hope I don't need too much else."

Source @

Monday, August 13, 2007

The How of Happiness

You don't have to change much. Here, surprising ways to feel better every day.

I'm a nonstop happiness seeker. On long drives, I don't ask my husband, "Are we there yet?" I meditate on life and ask myself, "Am I happy yet?"

Here's my happiness inventory: I have a great house, but the toilets gurgle incessantly. My 9-year-old son is adorable, but has nerve-shredding sleep habits. My husband of 21 years is worth at least his weight in Godiva, but I'm pretty sure I see my dry cleaner more often.

My main happiness inhibitor is that if the glass is half full, I often empty it, puncturing good moods by imagining worst-case scenarios. If everything's fine but I have the sniffles, I immediately envision my illness escalating. I picture myself bedridden for days, with my house, son, and husband all hideously neglected.

So do I have a serious shot at becoming happier? Yes, say researchers, who've found new scientific evidence of what really boosts our moods. Here, their best strategies:

Take a Pass on Perfection
When surveyed in the 1970s, most women reported being happier than men. Today, the opposite is true. What gives? One theory is that, over the past few decades, females have gone from holding one job (running the house) to two jobs (working full-time plus handling the housework). And a fast way to trigger unhappiness is bigger to-do lists — not to mention mounting pressure for women who want to do it all.

What's more, striving for an out-of-reach goal (like trying to be a star employee; patient, positive parent; and ever-understanding wife — all at the same time) can backfire if you blame yourself when you fall short, explains Alice Domar, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of the upcoming Be Happy Without Being Perfect.

Striving for constant contentment is equally unrealistic. Domar lays it on the line: "If you think you should feel happy nearly all the time, it's going to make you miserable."

Your strategy: Manage your expectations. A new study led by the University of Virginia looked at how everyday events (both positive and negative) affected people's overall daily satisfaction. Researchers tracked four groups: European Americans, Asian Americans, Japanese, and Koreans. The study showed that European Americans reported feeling happier than the other groups did, but needed double the number of positive events to help them rebound from negative ones. The study authors suspect that a downside of feeling happy most of the time is that you expect to feel that way all the time. So when good things happen, it seems normal, but when bad things happen, it can seem catastrophic.

Find Your Balance
Psychologists generally describe happiness as a sense of well-being or satisfaction with your life. They say there's fun without meaning (think foot massages) and meaning without fun (like 2 a.m. feedings), and happiness comes from some combo of the two. If you consistently choose fun without meaning, you'll likely feel empty inside. But if you too often focus solely on lofty goals, you could wind up depleted and resentful. (Note to self: I will not feel guilty the next time I devote my morning to catching up on episodes of Grey's Anatomy.)

Don't Try to Buy Happiness
Sure, money helps, especially if you start out poor and then do better. But a nationwide study published last year in Social Indicators Research found that those who avidly pursued possessions were less satisfied with their friendships, families, jobs — even their health — than participants who were less materialistic.

Switch Gears
A study at the University of Missouri-Columbia tracked hundreds of subjects who experienced a change in their circumstances (like moving to a nicer place) and in their activities (like pursuing a new hobby). A few months later, those who changed their activities reported more gains in well-being. One possible reason: A shift in circumstances often involves a onetime event, which can fade into the background of our lives, says study author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., who wrote The How of Happiness. Exploring a new interest, on the other hand, is inherently entertaining, and may lead you to discover other activities over time.

Lose Yourself in the Moment
If you're in a bad mood, try to find your "flow." The word describes a "state of effortless concentration and enjoyment," writes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., a leading expert in positive psychology, which focuses on increasing one's joys and strengths. For some people, achieving flow means whooshing down a ski slope; for me, it's working my way through a crossword puzzle. What delivers the most happiness: whatever activity energizes you and makes you feel like time is flying by — or even makes you lose track of it.

Source @ MSN

Sunday, August 5, 2007

8 Things No One Tells You About Marriage

The surprising, enlightening, and sometimes hard truths we all face after we walk down the aisle — and how they teach us about what love really means.

"...And they lived happily ever after." You're smart. You know life is no storybook. But admit it: Somewhere deep in your subconscious lurk romantic visions of Cinderella, or maybe Julia Roberts. The images may be sketchy and a little outdated, but you can still make out the silhouette of the bride and Prince Charming riding off into the sunset.

In real life, sometimes your Disney fairy tale ends up feeling more like a Wes Craven horror flick — and you're the chick who keeps falling down and screaming for her life. I've been there.

Let's face it, marriage is not for the faint of heart. You want to believe your pure love for each other will pull you through. And it does. But it ain't always pretty.

That may sound grim. But here's a secret: Sometimes it's the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love. Read on for some simple truths that will unlock the surprising treasures and pleasures in your imperfect, unstorybook, real-life love.

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?

When you get married, you think that as long as you pick the right guy — your soul mate — you'll be happy together until death do you part. Then you wake up one day and realize that no matter how great he is, he doesn't make you happy every moment of every day. In fact, some days you might wonder why you were in such a hurry to get married in the first place. You think to yourself, This is so not what I signed up for.

Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills.

That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.

Waking up from a good dream to face the harsh morning daylight may not seem like a reason to celebrate. But trust me, it is. Because once you let go of all the hokey stories of eternal bliss, you find that the reality of marriage is far richer and more rewarding than you ever could have guessed. Hard, yes. Frustrating, yes. But full of its own powerful, quiet enchantments just the same, and that's better than any fairy tale.

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.

Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naiveté, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.

If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths — and from where he sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married doesn't mean you're done — it just means you've advanced to graduate-level studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material, he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the process.

"It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo, NY. "You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever thing." So don't be too hard on yourself — or him — on those days when you feel like you're struggling through remedial math.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).

Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.

You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling underappreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out, sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and more wound up.

Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself — let the emotions settle a bit — and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight the next day."

4. You will go without sex — sometimes for a long time — and that's okay.

There are few men in the Western world sexier than my husband. And I don't say this because I know he may read this article. I've seen women checking him out when they think I'm not looking. (Honestly, ladies, you don't have to sneak a peek. I don't mind if you stare.) That said, there are times that I just don't feel like having sex — often for reasons that have nothing to do with Genoveso. (See? Even his name is sexy.) I can't lie and say this is always okay with him. But the fact is, there are also plenty of nights when he's not in the mood. So maybe a few days go by when we don't do it. And then a few more. And....

Sexless periods are a natural part of married life. A dry spell isn't a sign that you've lost your mojo or that you'll never have sex again. It just means that maybe this week, sleep is more important than sex. (I don't know about you, but between work, 3 a.m. feedings, the PTA, soccer, T-ball, and everything else, I sometimes crave sleep the way a pimply, hormonal adolescent longs to cop a feel.)

And don't kid yourself; no one in America is doing it as often as popular culture would have you believe. Instead of worrying about how much you think you "should" be having sex, keep the focus on figuring out your own rhythm. "I used to think, What's happened to us? We always used to be in the mood," says 35-year-old Kim Henderson of Oakland, CA, who's been married for five years. "Now I know better. Life happens. My husband just started a new job. He has a long commute, and we have two small children. I think we're good."

The key is to make sure that even if you're not doing "it," you're still doing something-touching, kissing, hugging. Personally, my heart gets warm and mushy when my husband rubs my feet after a long, tiring day. He may not be anywhere near my G-spot, but that little bit of touch and attention keeps us connected even when we're not having spine-tingling sex.

Source @ MSN