The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Dec 18, 2009

The Today Show 2009

I love The Today Show. Since we no longer watch (or have time to) TV, I don't get to see the show. I stumbled across this 2009 overview they produced and wanted to share. Enjoy!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dec 17, 2009

Apple's new Magic Mouse review...

The video review:

The short review:

The good: Sexy design; vertical scrolling works like a physical scroll wheel; pairs easily with Mac computers; ambidextrous.

The bad: Awkwardly narrow profile; doesn't work with Windows PCs; laser sensor not as advanced as Darkfield and BlueTrack competition; horizontal swipes don't feel as natural as thumb buttons; can't customize swiping functions; no pinching.

The bottom line: Apple's new wireless Magic Mouse gets a sleek makeover and even has multitouch controls, but it's better as a portable laptop companion rather than a full-size desktop accessory. The swiping gestures add interactivity to Web browsing and media, but the awkwardly narrow single button design leaves us reaching for better mice from Logitech and others.

Dec 16, 2009

Parental Revelation continued...

Last night I stumbled upon a video of Ryan in 2005. Matt & I were at the pool with Ryan, McKenna and Kayla. As I was watching the video, I was blown away by how little Ryan was. He was just a baby. Still had that adorable baby face, cheeks, talked with that sweet, inquisitive voice. He had just turned 4 a couple months before. He was in the kids pool with his towel, which was totally soaked. Matt was asking him if he'd wrestled a snake. Ryan was tickled at the thought it was a snake. You can just see his wide eyed excitement and brain working it all out as he tried to lift this huge, wet, heavy towel out of the water, wring it out & drag it to the side of the pool.

My eyes then swelled with tears. Because all I remember thinking is how angry I was at him because I had told him not to put the towel in the water. I was too concerned about him not having a towel to dry off with, the hassle of having to get in the car to drive the short distance to our apartment, the fact he would want a towel and then be upset that no one else would give him theirs. I looked at him, remembering what a handful he was at that age. Running into the parking lots without thought, constantly moving moving moving... pushing, inquiring, testing. Going through the divorce and being a single parent for a long time, I remember being tired, worn out and full of frustration in trying to quell this little bundle of pure boy energy.

I truly wished last night I could go back 5 years and do it differently. Hand out more love, patience and interest in where and what he needed to explore. Join him in his pure delight at the wet towel and the "snake" he wanted to show Matt.

My dad once told me to live a life on no regret. To make decisions that don't have consequences that you can't live with. I've thought about that often and have found myself at times living moments of regret. Sometimes regret is simply consequence of living life and learning the hard way.

I think we get so caught up in our current race we really forget to cherish the age of our children now. Even video from last Christmas, McKenna looks much younger then today. I feel time slipping away and thought this morning, I need to really try and make the most of every day with the kids from this point out. I do wish I could recapture some of Ryan's toddler years, not full of the pain & difficulty of divorce. I did not get to enjoy it very much. I wish I had been a better mom. If there is any period where I've fallen short for both kids, it's been the past 5 years as I've tried to learn to parent 5 kids, blend a family, obtain stability in life, heal the wounds of all of us and establish some order and family. This is very difficult for me to admit because being a great mom and parent is the one thing I wanted to be more than anything and to know I could have done it better, could have not failed at one simple thing - time and love and patience, at times is painful to look at.

I guess that is probably part of the constant generational change, as we stretch and grow in different or the same ways as our parents - our kids will see our failures and attempt to do it differently. In part they will succeed, in part they will maintain the same struggles - at some point in the future, will a generation do it perfectly? ;) Only in Heaven I believe.

Dec 15, 2009

Dec 10, 2009

Luce: Parenting is a Sacrifice

Parenting was never supposed to be easy. No one ever called it simple, effortless or painless.

If you ever put your kids on remote control because you have all sorts of “electronic baby-sitters” available to occupy their time, you can say that it really doesn’t affect your kids, but are you sure? The bottom line: parenting equals sacrifice.

“But I don’t have time,” a parent may say. “I have so many pressures at work; I am trying to provide for my family.” That is a seemingly rational explanation, but the question is: What are you providing?

Are you providing for all of your kids’ financial needs, but not giving them the time, attention, and love they are really hungry for? Wouldn’t you rather provide a safe, loving environment to impart your values to your kids?

It’s undeniable that as a parent, you will sacrifice something. You can choose to sacrifice up front: time, sleep, career, and hobbies while your kids are small. If you make those sacrifices early, I guarantee that you will also reap joy and delight as they grow up. You will gain a lifetime of intimately knowing your kids and the privilege of helping them grow into seasoned, productive, godly adults.

If you don’t sacrifice up front, you will sacrifice later. Think about scenarios such as your child getting pregnant (or getting someone pregnant) as a young person, multiple times. Imagine living through your child’s divorce (perhaps several times) and playing the visiting game with divorced in-laws for the rest of your life. Can you picture a 35-year-old old couch potato camping out on your futon because he can’t hold down a job?

Your kids will be old a lot longer than they are young. I know people in the older generation who have had grown kids causing them misery and regret for their entire adult life. Boy, now that is a sacrifice. Even if you do it for purely selfish reasons, sacrificing up front to raise your kids well will protect you from life-long sacrifice.

With Christmas just around the corner, I challenge you to make as many sacrifices as possible for your kids. Not financial sacrifices to get them the latest and greatest presents. Instead, sacrifice your time and your love to give them a holiday season your entire family will never forget.

Published on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 @ 9:57 AM CST,

Dec 9, 2009

Recessions Silver Lining: Man Up

Matt is great with the kids at home. If I was laid off, there probably wouldn't be any question or raised eyebrows to my time at home while on unemployment. I find it interesting people's reactions to a "man" staying home with the family. I enjoyed this article. It also addresses the pressure to maintain a "non maternal" persona in the work place. So ridiculous, the pressure we create on ourselves in society. Child rearing is important! They are the next generation so why do we have them if we as a society don't place a great importance on actually partaking in the rearing, whether mother or father? I don't think McKenna will need counseling when Matt attends her field trip in my place on Monday, or Kayla will be debilitated because I take her out to lunch instead of her dad. Parents are teams working together for the same outcome - stable, individual, directed and well loved young adults.

By Kathleen Deveny | NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 4, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Dec 14, 2009

Like many people who work in industries that have been battered by the recession, I am absolutely thrilled to have a job. And like many who fear the next round of layoffs, I am on my very best behavior at work. (Click here to follow Kathleen Deveny).

Which means that when I have to take my daughter to the pediatrician or cut out early to attend her school's winter concert, I will probably lie and say I have to go to my own doctor instead. I am lucky to have reasonably flexible work hours, and an extremely flexible boss. But in an era of rampant job insecurity, it seems indefensible to request time off to hear my kid sing an Italian folk song—or get her a flu shot. Wouldn't that time be better spent doubling my productivity or developing new revenue streams?

Other working mothers sometimes employ the same strategy. When I heard that a friend had gone home sick recently, I e-mailed her to make sure she was OK. "I just had to take [Junior] to the doctor," came the response. "What was I supposed to do?" she asked, when called on her deception. "I'm worried about my job, but my kid has had a cough for four weeks!"

With schools winding down for the holidays, the flu season picking up, and unemployment topping 10 percent, anxiety has never been more acute for many working parents. That is especially true of working mothers. America is approaching a milestone: women are about to hold more than 50 percent of jobs for the first time, in part because men have been hit harder by layoffs. And yet women still shoulder the bulk of child-care responsibilities because of retrograde family roles, school-event schedules, and employers' attitudes. All of which can force an otherwise honest woman to fib.

In part, the reaction is rational. Maternal profiling is real. When a working father takes time off to watch a ballet recital, he's seen as noble. When a working mother rushes out of the office to care for a case of head lice, she's more likely to be labeled undependable. Mothers looking for work are less likely to be hired, are offered lower salaries, and are perceived to be less committed than fathers or women without children, according to a 2005 report by Shelley Correll, now an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University. And according to a 2007 survey by Elle/, female bosses are twice as likely than their male counterparts to be seen as having family obligations interfere with work.

Sure, working dads do more chores around the house than their fathers did. But the waiting room at my pediatrician's office is still invariably packed with women. Working mothers spend 60 percent more time each day on child care and household tasks than employed fathers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And when a father faces unemployment, he is likely to spend just one minute more per day—just one minute!—on child care. (He will, however, carve out 83 more minutes to watch TV.) Unemployed mothers, on the other hand, spend nearly twice as much time as working moms taking care of their kids, all while they too look for work.

I would like to believe that for families who can get through this economic slump in one piece—without losing jobs or health insurance or homes—these hard times might encourage a rebalancing of responsibilities. Women's salaries are now critical to the well-being of more than 40 percent of American families, and so men must do better on the home front, doing the dishes, yes, but also planning the dinner that precedes them. "I hope this will lead us past the mommy wars and to the parent wars," says Stephanie Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. "We need to get away from the idea that one person has to do all the parenting."

We might also want to abandon the notion that attending every single school event is pivotal to our children's happiness. What if I told my 9-year-old that, much as I would love to attend her class holiday party, I have to work instead? She would be upset—I would be upset—and then we would get over it. I can't imagine it would come up in future psychotherapy sessions.

Maybe the recession is good for more than just rebalancing family roles. Maybe it can bring a new level of sobriety to parenting itself. "I love this recession for families," says Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and author. "It's helping kids learn to tolerate disappointment and frustration." I'm not sure I love the recession. And I'll probably go to the class party anyway. But at least now I'll admit it to my boss. Maybe.

Find this article at

The Truth About Balancing Children and Career

If the wealthy have that much difficulty, with all their "help", how indeed, do the common folk do it? We no longer live next to family. Those that I know that have family, have active participating parents in their lives, if not actually in their homes, helping care for kids while the parents work. We have 5 and we do it on our own and it's an incredible amount of work. I am thankful during the period of unemployment so one of us can concentrate 100% on home & children. It's a blessing for now.

MSN Article:

Recently, many in the media and wOwosphere have been debating whether a mom with young children has any business having a demanding job. Some say it delegates the responsibility of raising the children to other people; others have argued that it actually ends up benefiting the kids, who in turn are more independent.

What is the truth about the difficulties of balancing children and career? What are the true sacrifices? Rewards? What lessons have you learned? What would you do differently? What worked? What is your advice for women going down this path?

Candice Bergen: OK. At the risk of being politically incorrect, I think if you are going to commit to the decision to have a child, you owe that child your best. And I think the old saying "Quality time is better than quantity time" is a self-justifying adage that over-worked women use to assuage their guilt. A guilt I think is valid.

When I was doing "Murphy" and my daughter was little, I would do nothing else but her and the show. Take her to school, drive carpool, put her to bed (which took hours), take her everywhere on weekends. Sometimes just the two of us would go to Santa Barbara, or Carmel. Dates, we'd call them. The night she got chicken pox, thank God, I was with her and we sat up all night, watching movies, giving her baths in Aveeno. I went to work the next day exhausted, but thank God I was there when she needed me.

With work roles changing so drastically over the years, I think women's options have expanded while children pay the price. I was there for my daughter as much as possible. This was selfish on my part. It was where I wanted to be. But I was raised in a time when parents put their kids in the trust of nannies, and I didn't bond with my mother till very late in my life. I was always envious of caricatures of warm, close, tumbling families. Italian families. Jewish families. Unafraid to express their feeling.

I always made a point of showing and telling my daughter that she was the love of my life and I think she benefitted from that. Obviously I made huge mistakes. And there were times I wasn't there when I should have been. But not many. I do not think you can have it all without someone paying the price and that shouldn't be your child. I do think we can have A LOT, and I am grateful for that. And I didn't work till my daughter was four (and then because my husband and friends pointed out that I was getting nuts just being with my child). So it's delicate. And of course there's a balance. But she always came out on top. She always will.

Whoopi Goldberg: The truth is it is very hard to balance career and family. If you have money, of course it's easier. But it doesn't compensate for birthdays, graduations and the like. If you don't have money it is incredibly hard and you are constantly worried that you can't cover whatever costs you have. The truth also is that each family is different and it may be easy for some, except for the guilt of not fitting the perfect mother pattern.

Mary Wells: I had two daughters while I was working around the world, flying home weekends. I didn't worry about it. I took them everywhere I went when I could and when I married my husband, Harding, he involved them in everything he could. They grew up flying Braniff, my husband's Dallas airline, with the Dallas Cowboys, and are still such fans they fly to at least one game a year. They sometimes grumbled that their weekend house was in France while their friends' weekend houses were just a hop someplace but they grew up speaking French and one married a French man. My mother was their guardian angel as well as my own but my girls and I have been together on the same wave. I can't imagine two women I admire more. They, too, have two children each – great joys – and work very hard and long hours in their own ways.

Everybody has problems sometimes. Everybody has confusions and misunderstandings and hurts and furies. We had our share. But we loved each other deeply. There was never any doubt between my girls and I know that. And that mutual love got us through our share.

There are small moments I regret but would have trouble remembering. They are my greatest gift in life. Recently when I told my daughter that I love her she said, "I know you do, mom." So good. And recently, sitting in a car between the two of them I had a feeling of stunning satisfaction. I couldn't get that any other way, I know. I'm lucky.

They're lucky. We are meant for each other. There was no mistake.

Liz Smith: I am definitely a working kind of woman, always have been, since age 16. Married several times, I have never been gifted with children–However, all of my friends have children and I am the active godmother to at least one little boy in Manhattan.

So even though I only "have charge" of him sporadically, I just puzzle and wonder how women everywhere do it. His mother is one of the hardest-working women I've ever met and also one of the best mothers I've ever seen. But, look, does the average woman actually have any choice?

Most of the women I know are wage earners and always have been. Most women feel they "have" to work nowadays to get by. The stay-at-home women of my mother's "housekeeping" era are now rare. Today, the women I know who don't work and have children are usually married to big money-making guys. They can pick and choose, hire multiple nannies and help.

The lesson I've learned in making a choice between my godchild and my work is – he has to come first. This sometimes makes for sacrifices and hard choices. But children are very sophisticated these days and quite adept at understanding mom's problems and making their own adjustments. Honestly, I don't think it's much different from when my mother opened the screen door in Texas and let us out to go our own way in the summer. We never checked in back home until suppertime. Nobody suffered and we all survived and loved each other.

When a woman has inordinate work responsibilities, plus a lot of children to worry about, I am sure I don't know how she pulls it off. (Women who don't believe in birth control have to make huge adjustments and sacrifices.) With kids and work, I am certain that a woman almost always feels somehow the child is getting slighted. I know I can never "be there" enough for my little boy; I can never come up to his own mom, I am always checking my shortcomings and trying to do better for him.

So maybe that's all there is to it. I don't presume to give advice to real mothers. You just have to do the best you can if you "want it all" and most of us do "want it all."

Joan Cooney: I did the kids and career thing in stages. During my first marriage when I was building my career, I had no children. My husband was a virtually disabled alcoholic during the later years of my marriage so there was a lot of balancing, trying to run a company, travel to business meetings and cope with him. In my second marriage, I inherited five stepchildren, the youngest two of whom divided their time between their mother and father. By then I was at the peak of my career which made it a lot easier than it would have been for a woman at an earlier stage because by then I could control the amount of travel I did (as little as possible) and I could make my hours somewhat more flexible than when I was younger.

On the other hand, I didn't have the children full-time (I used to say that God actually intended for there to be two mothers so when one got sick of the kids, the other took over) and they weren't very young (nine and 14 in the beginning). My stepdaughter who eventually became my rock was hostile to me underneath a veneer of pleasantness, and my youngest stepchild, Michael, was and is one of the great loves of my life. It broke my heart when he went to boarding school in his sophomore year of high school but we remain closer than ever. I was continually distracted on the job and decided at 60 to step down as CEO of my company and become Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board. Maybe I grew up in the wrong generation but I found it very difficult to have a demanding marriage, career and children. I don't think I'd do anything differently except I wish I'd been more relaxed about it all, but I was very anxious trying to do everything well at work and home, and be available to husband and children. Having it all ain't a walk in the park.

Judith Martin: I have been answering these very questions for more than 40 years. During that time, there was a great wave of feminism, and middle-class mothers entered the work force in large numbers. (That poor mothers have always worked is usually overlooked.) Wouldn't you think that conditions might have changed just a little?

Then, as now, the working world was designed for people with no personal responsibilities, which originally meant men whose wives ran the entire domestic side of life for them. So both were short-changed: the mothers, who did unrelieved child-care during the years that they might have been building careers and were considered unemployable when the children had grown; and the fathers, who had little time to develop close relationships with their growing children. If anything, the work place is now worse, with ersatz socializing after hours and constant technological availability expected in many jobs. And then, as now, women who take care of their own children full-time were venerated but offered no help, while women who did it professionally were given little money and less respect.

Individual women must still cobble together whatever arrangements we can. I had a full-time job, a well-run house and two children who had plenty of time with un-frazzled parents and round-the-clock loving adult care. But when I was asked how I "juggled" (sometimes with admiration but more often with suspicion), I had to dispel the idea that it was because I was a clever little super-charged manager.

It took four of us adults living in the house and dividing our time between regular jobs and home: myself, my husband, our housekeeper and her husband. They were a child-loving but childless couple with whom we have had a lifetime relationship. (My daughter's fiancé is aware that their engagement is provisional until our next trip to North Carolina, when he can ask approval from our housekeeper's widower, 96 years old and living in retirement on the farm he now owns, where his parents had been sharecroppers.)

A rich couple's solution? When the children were young, we were living on one government salary and one journalism salary, which was not only pitiful in those days, but adjusted down for women. Most of it went into paying decent wages and benefits, the first our housekeeper had ever heard of – let alone received – paid sick leave and vacation and a retirement pension.

Why can such an arrangement hardly be found at any price? People who envied us often asked if our employees could find them anyone equally warm, reliable, intelligent, hard-working and devoted. But when I inquired about the salary that would be offered, the reply was always the same: "What's the minimum wage now?"

Dec 8, 2009

NYT: Millions in U.S. drink dirty water

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year.

In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.

'Top priority'
On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will question a high-ranking E.P.A. official about the agency’s enforcement of drinking-water safety laws. The E.P.A. is expected to announce a new policy for how it polices the nation’s 54,700 water systems.

“This administration has made it clear that clean water is a top priority,” said an E.P.A. spokeswoman, Adora Andy, in response to questions regarding the agency’s drinking water enforcement. The E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, this year announced a wide-ranging overhaul of enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which regulates pollution into waterways.

“The previous eight years provide a perfect example of what happens when political leadership fails to act to protect our health and the environment,” Ms. Andy added.

Water pollution has become a growing concern for some lawmakers as government oversight of polluters has waned. Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, in 2007 asked the E.P.A. for data on Americans’ exposure to some contaminants in drinking water.

The New York Times has compiled and analyzed millions of records from water systems and regulators around the nation, as part of a series of articles about worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

An analysis of E.P.A. data shows that Safe Drinking Water Act violations have occurred in parts of every state. In the prosperous town of Ramsey, N.J., for instance, drinking water tests since 2004 have detected illegal concentrations of arsenic, a carcinogen, and the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, which has also been linked to cancer.

In New York state, 205 water systems have broken the law by delivering tap water that contained illegal amounts of bacteria since 2004.

However, almost none of those systems were ever punished. Ramsey was not fined for its water violations, for example, though a Ramsey official said that filtration systems have been installed since then. In New York, only three water systems were penalized for bacteria violations, according to federal data.

The problem, say current and former government officials, is that enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act has not been a federal priority.

“There is significant reluctance within the E.P.A. and Justice Department to bring actions against municipalities, because there’s a view that they are often cash-strapped, and fines would ultimately be paid by local taxpayers,” said David Uhlmann, who headed the environmental crimes division at the Justice Department until 2007.

“But some systems won’t come into compliance unless they are forced to,” added Mr. Uhlmann, who now teaches at the University of Michigan law school. “And sometimes a court order is the only way to get local governments to spend what is needed.”

A half-dozen current and former E.P.A. officials said in interviews that they tried to prod the agency to enforce the drinking-water law, but found little support.

“I proposed drinking water cases, but they got shut down so fast that I’ve pretty much stopped even looking at the violations,” said one longtime E.P.A. enforcement official who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “The top people want big headlines and million-dollar settlements. That’s not drinking-water cases.”

The majority of drinking water violations since 2004 have occurred at water systems serving fewer than 20,000 residents, where resources and managerial expertise are often in short supply.

It is unclear precisely how many American illnesses are linked to contaminated drinking water. Many of the most dangerous contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have been tied to diseases like cancer that can take years to develop.

But scientific research indicates that as many as 19 million Americans may become ill each year due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. Certain types of cancer — such as breast and prostate cancer — have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water.

Informal methods
The violations counted by the Times analysis include only situations where residents were exposed to dangerous contaminants, and exclude violations that involved paperwork or other minor problems.

In response to inquiries submitted by Senator Boxer, the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses.

In some areas, the amount of radium detected in drinking water was 2,000 percent higher than the legal limit, according to E.P.A. data.

But federal regulators fined or punished fewer than 8 percent of water systems that violated the arsenic and radioactive standards. The E.P.A., in a statement, said that in a majority of situations, state regulators used informal methods — like providing technical assistance — to help systems that had violated the rules.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Those figures are particularly worrisome, say researchers, because the Safe Drinking Water Act’s limits on arsenic are so weak to begin with. A system could deliver tap water that puts residents at a 1-in-600 risk of developing bladder cancer from arsenic, and still comply with the law.

Despite the expected announcement of reforms, some mid-level E.P.A. regulators say they are skeptical that any change will occur.

“The same people who told us to ignore Safe Drinking Water Act violations are still running the divisions,” said one mid-level E.P.A. official. “There’s no accountability, and so nothing’s going to change.”

Griffin Palmer contributed reporting.

This story, "Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show," originally appeared in The New York Times.

Copyright © 2009 The New York Times

Dec 1, 2009

15 Life-Changing Trips - MSN

We reached out to our network of trusted tour operators to create custom itineraries for T+L readers that promise to transform travelers and destinations alike. They’ll have you seeing the globe in a whole new way.

By Yolanda Crous, Jaime Gross, and Darrell Hartman, Travel+Leisure

Volunteering: Rio De Janeiro

Why Go: Few travelers get to do more than scratch the surface of this city of disorienting contrasts, where a golden coastline and buzzing night-life districts abut gritty, overcrowded favelas—home to about 20 percent of Rio’s 6 million residents. This 10-day trip from U.K.-based operator Hands Up Holidays gives volunteers a deeper look at the city and a chance to make a difference.

The Trip: An experienced voluntourism outfitter, Hands Up Holidays excels at balancing unexpected sightseeing expeditions (sunset on Arpoador Beach; hiking in the wetlands of Marapendí; Portuguese-architecture walks) with four days of volunteering in the city’s favelas. Tours of the popular nightlife district Lapa and the bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood, where a boutique hotel of the same name is your base, add a level of luxury to days spent in the favelas of Vila Canoas, Pereirão, and Rocinha. There, you’ll help residents paint street murals, or spend your time teaching English, art, and soccer (depending on your skills). Hands Up also takes volunteers to visit Project Morrinho, an arts and culture nonprofit, to see a replica of the famous “mini favela” that was built from bricks and other recycled materials by local youth and displayed at the 2007 Venice Biennale as a way to raise awareness of the city’s impoverished districts.

The Details: T+L Transformation Vacation by Hands Up Holidays; 201/984-5372;; Dec. 9–18, 2009, March 3–12 and June 9–18, 2010; from $3,250, double, excluding airfare.

4 More Trip Ideas

Volunteering: Hawaii

The Operator: Habitat for Humanity (10 days)

The Trip: Build a house for a family in Kauai.

Highlight: Cabin accommodations in lush Kahili Mountain Park. 800/422-4828;; Dec. 6–15, 2009; $1,510 per person.

Volunteering: Mexico

The Operator: Ritz-Carlton, Cancún (1 day)

The Trip: Restore furniture and a garden at a school in a Mayan pueblito.

Highlight: Intro Mayan language lessons are included. 52-998/881-0808;; Year-round; $115 per Ritz-Carlton, Cancún hotel guest.

Volunteering: Cambodia

The Operator: Pepy Tours (7 days)

The Trip: This itinerary (by tuk-tuk and bicycle) pairs voluntourism with stays at inns and lodges.

Highlight: A field trip to Angkor Wat with schoolchildren. 914/458-4262;; Dec. 27–Jan. 2, 2010; from $100 per person per day.

Volunteering: Kenya

The Operator: Micato Safaris (12–18 days)

The Trip: Spot lions, then plant trees at a community center in Nairobi.

Highlight: Learn how the center’s advisers save lives through AIDS education. 800/642-2861;; Year-round; from $7,670 per person.

Cultural Odyssey: Vietnam

Why Go: More than two decades after Vietnam embraced free-market principles, the pace of development here is dramatic. But even as new stores and restaurants open in the cities and luxury resorts line the coast, traditional Vietnamese culture remains just beneath the surface. Asia Transpacific Journeys, a 2009 T+L Global Vision Awards winner with over 20 years experience in the region, is the ultimate guide to the country’s history and culture.

The Trip: This journey takes you to some of Vietnam’s greatest landmarks—old Hanoi; the Perfume River—along with lesser-known places such as the hill-tribe villages and markets of the northern highlands. From exploring the royal palaces of Hue, the former imperial capital, to venturing into the Viet Cong tunnels of Cu Chi, Asia Transpacific will give you the full historical tour. But what makes this trip truly extraordinary is the opportunity to engage with residents and hear their perspective on the country: you’ll meet artisans and relatives of the former royal family, participate in a cooking class with local chefs, spend time with an American Vietnam War vet who has dedicated his life to removing land mines, and attend dinners and recitals in private houses. After 17 days in Vietnam, you can opt to continue to Rangoon, Burma, and the village of Twante to see the Asia Transpacific Foundation’s award-winning clay water-filter project first-hand.

The Details: T+L Transformation Vacation by Asia Transpacific Journeys; 800/642-2742;; March 5–21, 2010; $5,395 per person, excluding airfare; $300 per day for Burma extension.

Cultural Odyssey: Santa Fe and Taos

The Operator: Classic Journeys (5 days)

The Trip: An exploration of the pueblos in the American Southwest.

Highlight: See Anasazi cliff dwellings and adobe architecture. 800/200-3887;; May 30–June 4 and Sept. 19–24, 2010; $2,595 per person.

Cultural Odyssey: Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize

The Operator: MesoAmerica Travel (14 days)

The Trip: Trek through national parks and pre-Columbian sites.

Highlight: See Mayan hieroglyphs at the Copán ruins in Honduras. 504/557-8447;; year-round; $2,550 per person.

Cultural Odyssey: Provence

The Operator: Tauck Culturious (8 days)

The Trip: Southern France through the eyes of Cézanne and van Gogh.

Highlights: The Mediterranean views and a chance to sketch a masterpiece. 888/840-1852;; year-round; $3,490 per person.

Cultural Odyssey: Japan

The Operator: Butterfield & Robinson (8 days)

The Trip: Bike rural Japan and meet bonsai tenders and kimono makers.

Highlights: Drink with a tea master and relax in an onsen. 866/551-9090;; May 12–19, May 26–June 2, and Sept. 30–Oct. 7, 2010; $9,459 per person.

Eco Escape: Glacier National Park

Why Go: Next year, America’s fourth-largest national park—more than 1 million acres running along the Canadian border—celebrates its 100th anniversary. But this milestone isn’t the only reason to head there now: it’s estimated that the park’s glaciers will vanish by 2030 because of climate change. Austin-Lehman Adventures, voted the top tour operator by T+L readers in our 2009 World’s Best Awards, guides travelers through this evolving landscape—and helps them better understand the forces altering it.

The Trip: Accompanied by Austin-Lehman’s expert wilderness guides, you’ll spend six days in the park hiking through cedar forests, biking alongside alpine meadows and 10,000-foot-high mountains, and sleeping in timber lodges that date to 1913. Half-day walks pass through the Two Medicine area (site of the 30-foot-high Twin Falls and mountain-shadowed Two Medicine Lake) and the North Fork area, home to mountain lions, bighorn sheep, black bears, and moose. Austin-Lehman guides will teach you about the local ecosystem and how to travel light, while professional outdoor photographer Dennis Coello, who also joins the trip, will instruct you on how to shoot both the park’s wildlife and its panoramic vistas, including those iconic, millennia-old glaciers.

The Details: T+L Transformation Vacation by Austin-Lehman Adventures; 800/575-1540;; July 25–30, Aug. 1–6, Aug. 8–13, and Aug. 15–20, 2010; $2,498 per person, excluding airfare.

4 More Trip Ideas

Eco Escape: Western Canada

The Operator: GAP Adventures (14 days)

The Trip: Take a greatest-hits tour of British Columbia and Alberta’s rugged wilderness.

Highlights: Stay in a tepee and a mountain lodge. 800/708-7761;; July 11–24, Aug. 8–21, and Sept. 12–25, 2010; $2,699 per person.

Eco Escape: Peru’s Amazon River

The Operator: Earthwatch (15 days)

The Trip: Help scientists gather data via riverboat.

Highlight: Play researcher for a real-life conservation effort. 800/776-0188;; Nov. 16–30, Dec. 4–18, 2009, and Jan. 1–23, 2010; from $3,750 per person.

Eco Escape: Madagascar

The Operator: Geographic Expeditions (13 days)

The Trip: Journey to the world’s fourth-largest island for wildlife seen nowhere else.
Highlight: One word: lemurs. 800/777-8183;; June–Oct., 2010; $7,300 per person.

Eco Escape: South India

The Operator: Sierra Club (15 days)

The Trip: Spend time birding and searching for the Bengal tiger.

Highlight: Talk tigers (and elephants and leopards) with Indian environmentalists. 415/977-5522;; Jan. 10–25, 2010; from $4,975 per person.

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