What Will Start the Electric Car Revolution?

While there is no doubt that electric cars receive more publicity than they ever have before, there is growing concern that the sector may be losing momentum in the short to medium term. As a consequence governments and car manufacturers around the world are now looking at new ideas to kickstart the revolution and attract the attention of consumers across the globe. So what will kickstart the electric car revolution?

Journey capacity

Time and time again the issue of journey capacity is never far from the headlines and when you bear in mind the vast majority of electric vehicles today can do no more than 100 miles per full charge, this concern is justified. However, many motorists seem to forget that on average very few of us will do in excess of 80 miles per day, therefore one charge per day will be more than enough to cover our average journey.

It is perhaps the use of electric vehicles within the business arena and for leisure time, where we will on average travel more than 80 miles per day, which is perhaps foremost in the minds of consumers at the moment.

Increased journey capacity

There is no doubt that great progress has been made with regards to journey capacity for electric vehicles but there is also no doubt that further progress needs to be made. The Nissan Leaf will be updated and re-released in 2013 with an extended journey capacity approaching 140 miles per charge. This has been achieved by using the latest battery technology, improved aerodynamics as well as efficiencies with regards to the electric engine itself.

If we can get towards the 200 miles journey capacity per full charge then we are certainly in a different ballpark and this would open up a whole new market for electric cars. Until we get there the chances are that many consumers will, rightly or wrongly, be concerned about reduced journey capacity and more importantly the lack of electric car charging stations around the world.

Charging stations

Despite the fact that the cost of electric vehicles is significantly greater than that of more traditional vehicles this is perhaps not the major problem in the eyes of consumers. Those who have traditional fuel vehicles will never likely be more than just a few miles away from a garage or petrol station where they can refuel and extend their journey capacity. The same cannot be said with regards to the electric charging station networks available at the moment which are at best few and far between. Will this change?

Finally governments and car manufacturers around the world are now coming together to create a viable investment programme for charging stations around the globe. This will likely see hundreds if not thousands of electric car charging stations introduced over the next few years which will take away one of the headaches which is concerning consumers.

Public relations

Whichever angle you look at the electric car market there is no doubt that the public relations situation has been a disaster for many years now. Indeed the stigma of the earlier electric car market still hangs over the much improved sector like a bad smell. We need investment in public relations, we need good news from the industry and we need to see savings set out in a very simple format so that consumers can understand what they are buying into and what they can expect to save. Until the message is received loud and clear by consumers across the UK and across the world what chance does the industry have?

Conclusion

While the electric car market today is very different to that of 20 years ago or even 10 years ago, there is still much work to be done and indeed changing public opinion will not be easy and it will not be cheap. Governments, car manufacturers and green campaigners have all come together to applaud the potential for eco-friendly travel but for some reason consumers have not yet grasped this potential.

The next couple of years will be vitally important to the electric car market, the next couple of years should see with the worldwide economy improve and funds become available to consumers. It will be interesting to see whether this stabilisation of the worldwide economy will lead to better sales in the electric car market and indeed more interest in general.

Actual Facts of Self Vs The Opinions of Others

Have you ever heard this powerful statement “Do not allow the opinion of others to outweigh the actual facts”. What are your actual facts? An actual fact is a fact that is real, existing in reality, existing at this time and based on truth. An opinion is a belief based not on certainty but on what seems true or probable. Opinions are uncertain, doubtful at times, not dependable and not sure in knowledge. An actual fact should never be outweighed by someone’s opinion. The truth of an actual fact must be attached to a belief. If we do not believe the actual fact, that does not reduce or limit its truth. What it limits is our actual knowledge about us or about a thing. Knowledge and belief are related. Knowledge requires belief, yet belief does not require knowledge. I believe that knowledge of self (who we are), (actual facts) helps us avoid pitfalls made by the many that came before us. How? These facts keep us focused on the truth of who we are, which is the foundation for the principles of belief, so we are not affected or misguided by what others think about us.

Belief has Power
Why is it easy to let go of an actual stated truth (ex: you are beautiful or you are a goddess) and let come into our mind someone’s uncertain opinion (ex: you are worthless or any other disrespectful name)? We take the opinion of others and act on them, as if they are truthful. It should not be easy to ignore actual facts but sometimes the truth hurts, especially if we are not ready for it. If a person can convince us with their opinions that we are worthless, failures, unworthy of success, less than, no good, not smart, not motivated, lazy, not good wives or mothers, excuse makers, will never amount to anything, are just bad people, sometimes those opinions will block our motivation required to strive.

We mistakenly take their opinion as a belief, based on the way we feel about ourselves or we do not know who we are. Again, belief does not require knowledge. Normally, if a person states an opinion that does not represent us; we would either correct them or ignore them because we know it is not an actual fact. We would then move about unaffected. If we feel we are worthless, ignorant or unworthy of greatness, the opinions of others will substantiate our belief. What you believe sometimes controls your actions. Belief has power and this power can be used to move individuals into higher levels of consciousness. It also can alter potential and destroy dreams, lives and aspirations through inaccurate opinions, knowledge, assessments and analyses from people who dictate misinformation.

What are the Actual Facts of Self?
Knowledge is the application of lessons learned that effectively guide decision-making. It cannot be obtained without believing in something. I like to use the analogy of automobiles when describing our lack of understanding our actual facts. Many of us are traveling along the highway of life at rates of speed that are much slower than what was placed in our original design. We are created by the most excellent originator whose talent surpasses all. We are truly built with unlimited ability and potential, with specifications that are state of the art. We are also designed to travel at an expeditious rate of speed. These specifications that are placed within the original design are the actual facts of our automobiles ability. This ability is present regardless of our use of our ability. If we rely on someone’s opinion regarding our ability and do not know the actual facts of our ability, we may find ourselves being left behind by others who know who they are.

Who are we?
We are truly the Mother’s of Civilization. We are not what we do. We are not what we have achieved educationally. We are not what we have. We are not what other people think we are. We are not reduced or limited in ability based on the opinion of others. We were innately spiritual with high skills and abilities. We are exceedingly intelligent, righteous women, with the ability to be compassionate, supportive, loving, a mother, sister, aunt, teacher, grandmother, doctor, scientists, etc……….. We are the best at everything we do, only if we would like to be that. We are the Master influencers of our communities, societies, the nation and the world.

Know your Attributes
We must know what our attributes are. An attribute is an inherent characteristic or a distinguishing quality. Quality is the essence of standard that makes one person or product better than the other. The qualities of a person are the attributes that determine the person’s basic nature. What makes you a great women? Some attributes can be described as trustworthy, helpful, motivated, problem solvers, creative, detail-oriented, compassionate, caring, loving, energetic, organized, dependable, responsible, focused, articulate, kind, generous, wonderful and so on…
There are two ways we can uncover our attributes:

1) What characteristics have we demonstrated in the past? We can use our past experiences to highlight attributes or characteristics that best define us.
2) Identify the best image or attributes of the ideal self (personal)? We can also acknowledge the attributes that would represent our ideal self and strive to achieve our best image.

More importantly, what do we believe or think about ourselves? A great adage that I will always remember is “Those who control the diameter of your thinking, controls the circumference of your actions”. We must be able to see beyond the majority with our vision and imagination. We have the power of belief to achieve whatever we visualize. Know the actual facts of self. Know who you are and disregard the opinions of others that do not truly reflect the true self. Let us be patient and watch all that we desire manifest.

New Travel Sites For Those Coveted Tips on How to Get There and What to Do

To me, there’s something special about searching to discover bits of secret travel and sightseeing tips about exotic places from all over the Internet and then anticipating a great vacation that will benefit from all of them. When I research the area of the world I plan on traveling to, I’ll frequently find little hidden treasures, secret restaurants, ignored little tourist gems and little-advertised local events that no one else knows about, and of course, I’ll find some of the best fares to everywhere. I’ve come by quite a few useful travel resources over my years trotting the globe; some of them are new, and some of them have seen many travel seasons. Information being power and all, here is my list of the best travel sites that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

Let’s start with the places that will give you an edge in the race for the cheapest air tickets. Everyone knows about the mass-market ones like Kayak, Expedia, and Bing Travel (Microsoft’s relaunched travel service that’s supposed to so creative, they call themselves a travel decision engine (as opposed to a travel search engine). But how about some of the new upstarts (or should I say startups?) that have come up over the past year or two – the ones that claim all manner of innovative discount searches? There are just so many of them – Dohop, SideStep, Mobissimo and Vayama are some of the more interesting new names in this business.

In my opinion, these travel sites deserve at least one visit at least for the kind of psychedelic names they’ve managed to come up with. On a recent trip that I made from New York to London, I decided to try all of these. Still, for me, the travel giant Bing and the upstart Dohop both did better than any of the other ones. On these two sites I could hit Buy on a round trip to London at $771; not every one of the others though, if I had hits Buy, I would have taken a hit for an extra $100. There is another booking site called cFares that’s picqued my fancy recently. The first and the most intriguing part to this travel site is the fact that they try to keep the rif-raff out by making you pony up the cash for a $50-a-year membership before they let you do anything on it. When I tried looking for the same flight on cFares, it saved me a further $70 on the fare. So the moral of the story is, travel sites for low fares, as great as they are, are not perfect. They don’t all win all of the time. The best I know how to snag cheap flights now is to take the advice of Dohop and cFares, and always pick Thursdays and Wednesdays to fly – lots of fares are predictably cheaper these two days of the week.

So these travel sites can help you buy a ticket, and book a hotel room; and everyone knows about SeatExpert and SeatGuru as the people to go for the best seat on the flight you’re taking; but is there such a thing for hotels though? That should be much more useful – you spend a lot more time in the hotel. As it happens, there is.It is called TripKick and it’s a really neat idea; it has an alarming amount of information on which particular rooms in a hotel of your choice have a bigger bathroom, a better view, and so on. For my London trip, told me to take room number 218 at a hotel on Oxford Circus, for a great view out on a park. The only problem with TripKick though, is that it only covers expensive hotels, and not the budget ones.

But enough of the mundane in travel sites; how about ideas and how to enjoy your destination once you get there? For anyone traveling to Japan, I found AitaiJapan, a great well-informed tip surce for the entertaining in the obscure. It is a great site that aims to bring a touch of local flavor to your travels; anytime you visit Japan, you could get in touch with this site to find a local volunteer who will be happy to walk around town with you and show you around. It’s so much better than being part of a travel group – with a tour guide who gives you the same old spiel everyday. It’s a wonderful feeling to just show up in Japan and find a new friend waiting for you – and every volunteer speaks English too. The best part is, they refuse to accept anything for the service.

For some wonderful from-the-heart recommendations for places to go to anywhere in the world, you’ll need to try out AtlasObscura. As the name suggests, the site tries to give you ideas for places to go to that are exotic, wonderful, and just off the wall. The great thing is, it covers the whole world; and if you are traveling, it wouldn’t matter where, this is the website you need to look up – if it is the only one you ever did.

Single Mom Traveling: Central Valley, Costa Rica

The phrase ‘single mom traveling’ does have a lovely ring to it, but upon my daughter’s birth, I was utterly devastated by the thought that it would be impossible to continue my traveling ways with my child. But like the seasons- thoughts, possibilities and people change. After a year and a half of settling into motherhood, I discovered that traveling as a single mom with my nineteen month old by my side, was not impossible after all. Our very first trip was to Costa Rica for 35 days. We visited five different locations starting with the Central Valley, then on to the Caribbean Coast, the Northern Central Valley and finally to the Pacific Coast. We encountered many hours of travel, new places to adapt to and unforgettable memories.

I think that traveling remains in a child’s psyche and shapes their character in a conscientious and positive way. I saw it first-hand how truly positive the experience was for my daughter Natalia and I plan to continue traveling as much as we can. Natalia was ecstatic when we would finally arrive to our new destination after hours of travel. She would check out our new home and say “Natalia’s house” and we would both gracefully ease into every new destination and travel situation that we encountered.

The Central Valley was the first place we settled for seven days. I wanted to see where in Costa Rica we would possibly like to settle down for a year or two in the future. I would be teaching and dabbling in real estate and Natalia would be getting a bilingual education and basking in the sun. I was pining for the beach, but I did not want to limit my options to just the beach. Most of the jobs in Costa Rica are in the Central Valley and I wanted to get to know the Central Valley first hand so that I could compare my experiences once I ventured out to the coasts. I also wanted to see what would be more enjoyable as well as practical for the both of us, with a good job market, good schools and a kid-friendly atmosphere. I would then decide on the best option for my toddler daughter- discovering life and growing, and for me- a teacher, world traveler and fun-loving single mother.

The Central Valley is a massive area with many cities including San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela. When I was researching these cities, I was getting advice from people and from the internet to avoid them. I have never been to Central or South America. I did not want to overwhelm myself with a big Central American city, while I would already be overwhelmed with my small travel companion. If I were traveling single or with friends, I would gladly check out the big sprawling cities, but with a child, I felt that I should be more low-key. I wanted a homey small town feel with a two bedroom place and a kitchen so that Natalia and I would get acclimated to living daily life in the Central Valley like the locals.

We chose a small village in the country hills called Pan de Azucar which means ‘sugar bread’ in Spanish. Pan de Azucar is in the outskirts of a cozy little town called Atenas. Atenas has a central park in the center and is surrounded by quaint family run businesses and restaurants called Sodas. Atenas has a simple cathedral, Tico-style residential homes and rolling mountain ranges in the background. It is a mellow town, with kid-friendly shops, including a candy shop, toy shop and a delicious bakery right across from the park. It had treats that Natalia loved to eat, like the carrot bread. Atenas also boasts that it has “the best climate in the world”, which was the deal breaker for me. There is something very wholesome and exclusive about the “best climate in the world” and I wanted me and my baby girl to experience it.

After many dedicated nights of research, I found a cozy two-bedroom house on-line through a comprehensive website that rents vacation homes by owner. In my opinion, when staying for longer periods of time and traveling with children, a home type of environment is the best option. The property where we rented our house is Japanese owned and is called ‘Casa de Megumi’. In Spanish and Japanese, it means ‘House of Blessing’. ‘Casa’ means house in Spanish and ‘megumi’ means blessing in Japanese. Finding a Japanese run vacation rental in Costa Rica was a great coincidence for me because of my recent Japanese-oriented past. I lived in Japan for a year and a half, was pregnant in Japan for five months, and it was the last place I traveled to before going to Costa Rica. Since I have a profound fascination with all things Japanese, Casa de Megumi was automatically kindred to me. Moreover, once I got to know the earnestly helpful owner of the property, Hisano Bell, a Japanese woman from Yokohama, I knew in my gut that Casa de Megumi was the right place for us to start our Costa Rica adventure.

Hisano became like a travel guardian-angel for us in the Central Valley. Even before we arrived to Costa Rica, Hisano and I were in constant contact. She had all sorts of provisions made for us, like getting our groceries before we landed. When I sent Hisano my gorcery list, I forgot to put coffee on the list but Hisano provides local Costa Rican coffee for her guests; I did not even have to worry about that. On the evening we arrived, we enjoyed a traditional Tico meal that Hisano arranged for us with the cook at Casa de Megumi. Hisano’s thoughtfulness was endless. She would even drive us into town occasionally and offer knowledgeable travel tips, like where to exchange money for the best rate. That is what I call Japanese service and hospitality. The Japanese people pride themselves on how well they serve others. When I was living in Japan, I learned a lot about providing sincere quality services to my clients, students and anyone I chose to help, paid or not. These same qualities of good service that I observed in Japan were the same qualities that Hisano shared with us. The coincidence of Casa de Megumi was a true blessing.

Come to think of it, more coincidences followed at our stay at Casa de Megumi. I view these coincidences as omens or as indications that even though I was traveling to an unknown land with a child all alone, these omens were like familiarities along our journey, to make us feel secure and like we were on the right path. I am a huge fan of Paolo Coehlo’s philosophies and I am spiritual, so for me the pleasant coincidences at Casa de Megumi were magical and welcomed at every step.

On the Casa de Megumi property we stayed at Casa Verde, a pristinely clean and newly remodeled two bedroom house with all the amenities, access to fertile gardens with avocado trees, magnificent central valley views and a sparkling pool. Hisano lives in Casa Grande, the other house on the property with her family. I was totally enamored by Hisano’s mother. She is an elderly woman with graceful mannerisms and always dressed in traditional Japanese regalia. Natalia and Hisano’s dog, Jon-Jon were pretty much inseparable during our entire stay at Casa de Megumi. It felt like we had an automatic pet upon arrival and it was heartwarming to see my daughter creating a bond and caring for an animal. She had many more opportunities to be in contact and care for animals throughout our trip in Costa Rica. Animals and pets are part of an integrated and populated mix in Costa Rica. Kids love animals and that is one major reason that makes Costa Rica so kid-appropriate and fun.

One of the perks of staying at Casa de Megumi was getting to know Hisano’s family and having the traditional Japanese dinner at Hisano’s house. Hisano prepared an array of tempura, miso soup and mochi for dessert. Hisano offers this unique hospitality to guests who stay at Casa de Megumi for three nights or longer. It was a an exquisite treat to be in Costa Rica in the tropical mountains, having a traditional Japanese meal with a Japanese family, overlooking the vistas of the lush central valley- an experience of a life time really.

Another striking coincidence at Casa de Megumi was when I was looking for a trustworthy and good- hearted babysitter to care for Natalia, while I would be out interviewing or working at home. Hisano introduced me to Stella. As soon as she said the name ‘Stella’, again it brought up Japan in my mind. My delightfully dynamic Australian roommate in Japan was named Stella. Stella took great care of me when I was pregnant for the first five months. She went with me to every doctor’s appointment and to emergency rooms in the middle of the night if I thought there was something wrong. She was always watching out for me, buying delicious food and always being there for me and my little bump during our fun and crazy times in Tokyo. It was a striking coincidence to hear that Natalia’s potential babysitter in the Central Valley would be named Stella.

The Costa Rican Stella was not only Natalia’s babysitter but also the cook at Casa de Megumi. Stella makes traditional Tico meals with rice, beans, salad and a protein and an incredible vegetable soup. When guests at Casa de Megumi don’t feel like cooking, they can order a casado from Stella. Her food was fresh, authentic and made with love. After eating Stella’s homemade food, meeting her and spending some time with her, I knew she would be great with Natalia. She conveniently lived across the street and she would come over with her grand-daughters and care for Natalia while I was out interviewing or busy working at home. When Stella was unavailable, her daughter who was also coincidentally named Natalia and who was also a single mom, came to help out. Having Stella and her family over and getting to know them, instantly made me feel part of the community in Pan de Azucar. We were getting to know the locals and it made the adapting process familiar and easy.

Natalia and I would go out for long walks along the country road and we would meet the local farmers and spend time with them while they grazed their cows. At first we would get timid waves but eventually the locals got used to us taking walks, snapping pictures at every turn and going to the few markets in the village. We also took the 80 cent local bus on occasion down to the town of Atenas. After a while the faces on the bus became more familiar and friendly, and easy to converse with. Everyone was extremely helpful on the bus. If I had too many bags, Natalia and the stroller, people would carry my stroller in for me so that I could settle us in quickly and be on our way. On the whole, people in the Central Valley love children and are extremely respectful, helpful and tolerant of mothers and their children. I would have to say, the majority of venues in Central Valley that we visited were child-friendly. In my experience and from what I have read, mothers traveling with children are a priority in Costa Rica. Natalia and I felt very welcomed and cherished in all the parts of Costa Rica and particularly the Central Valley.

I had one great concern before going to the Central Valley with Natalia and that was, should I rent a car? I did a lot of research that said a car is not necessary. This may be true if you want to stay in one location, like the beach town Samara, where everything is accessible by foot or by a bike ride, but in Atenas, a car was definitely necessary. I was a little weary of this because of the serpentine roads that are at times unpaved or inches from cascading cliffs. For a single mom with a 19 month old in the back, it did leave a little lump in my throat. After all my research, I decided to ask Hisano about whether I should rent a car. Renting a car in Costa Rica can be quite expensive because of the insurance, which is usually as much as the car rental itself. Hisano said that maybe the better and more economical option would be to just hire a driver; and she recommended her driver Carlos. Carlos was extremely reliable and a total blast to chat and tour with. It was actually more economical to hire Carlos and his car than to rent a car and it was an ideally comfortable situation for us. Carlos took us everywhere our hearts desired, equipped with a safe car seat for Natalia. I spoke both Spanish and English with Carlos because he is bilingual. He is a local and has immense knowledge of the area. He gave us impromptu tours and treated us to some very good ginger candy.

The places that Natalia and I both enjoyed in the Central Valley were the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation and Butterfly Garden, and the renowned Zoo Ave. At the coffee plantation we took a tour, learned about coffee production, ate a delicious traditional Tico lunch and after lunch we visited the butterfly garden, all for under thirty dollars. Natalia loved the Butterfly Garden and she was very well-behaved and attentive when mommy was indulging in all the coffee knowledge and in all the coffee. Carlos even gave Natalia chocolate covered coffee beans. I know this is not as tolerable in the US, but in Costa Rica I have spoken to people who mix a small amount of coffee with milk and give it to their toddlers on occasion. I thought ‘when in Rome…’ and allowed Natalia to enjoy some coffee treats. I associate it with allowing Natalia to drink chocolate milk once in a while. She experienced no adverse reactions just a purely good time.

Zoo Ave is another place that fascinated us both. It is not a traditional zoo but a very large refuge for local rescued animals. Zoo Ave is high in the mountains with exotic animals like pumas, monkeys and sloths and thousands of exotic plants. Natalia took a long nap after discovering all the animals while I sat and took in the sights and jungle sounds. Across the street from Zoo Ave is a well-renowned resort called Resort Martino. I researched and visited the resort and it seemed pristine. Resort Martino is kid friendly, fifteen minutes away from the airport and another great option to consider when staying in the Central Valley with kids.

The Central Valley of Costa Rica was truly a picture-perfect first destination to settle in before hitting the beaches. The Central Valley had many fun activities that kept us busy discovering, but in a relaxed atmosphere at Casa de Megumi, which was safe and perfect for my daughter. In the afternoon, I would go on a few interviews in Heredia and Alajuela or we would take an excursion with Carlos or we would play at the pool. In the evenings, we would have our neighbors over or settle in for the night having dinner, skyping with our loved ones, bath time, story time and bed time; just like at home. We would wake up in the early morning and go straight to the hammock to take our time waking up and to take in the sounds of exotic birds and roosters, to be enveloped in pure nature and to enjoy the best climate in the world. Pura vida.

Our next stop was Manzanillo de Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. This was the second part of our Costa Rica journey. A kindred spirit of mine came to join us on that leg of the trip and I will get more into that in the upcoming third part of this article series called Single Mom Traveling: Manzanillo de Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.