Author: Histat

Consider Invicta watches review to buy your watches

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The Invicta is the watch company from Switzerland. This company is involved with making and selling the watches. It turns out no longer a Swiss company. In 90’s it is considered as precision, high quality time pieces. Later 90’s the contingent of American businessman has taken the responsibilities of the firm and then outsourced making of Invicta watches to China. However the Invicta watches are not like any other firms doesn’t mean it is cheaply made.

Actually so many Invicta watch collection reviews beg to differ. This particular brand of time pieces are seems to provide the appearance of the unmatched quality; that will only charging you for a high quality watches. This is well known fact that the China is consisting of the replica industry, and also as big as like their originals. Moreover it is very essential to understand that the Invicta watches are the visual knock offs.

Large collection of Invicta Watch designs

The Invicta watch collections will offers you with a large collection of original designs. These type watch collections themselves are usually worth the hundreds of dollars, especially for the internal precision and also workmanships. These types of watches are very popular among several buyers due to their outstanding attributes of high quality. One of the primary things that you need to consider is regarding the most members of any collections is the sheer of the watch size. These are not truly for the slim wristed.

Actually this is one of the main reasons for that the Invicta watch collection for men is highly sought after by the buyers, even there is also huge collection for women. The color overlays and geometric precision are the other considerable things about the Invicta watches such as gold, rose-gold, emerald green, deep aqua, deepest matte blacks , emerald green and so on.

High quality watches

The design options are hovering to grow. In fact the Invicta watches are recently offered a personal line for the Jason Taylor, formal NFL defensive star called the Bolt Zeus. You can also make use of the invicta watches review to buy the best designs of watches. All in all it is worth to buy the Invicta time pieces as long as you well know that what you are getting into.

Invicta watch collection reviews

You can get a lot of invicta watches review websites online that are dedicated to offering reliable reviews on relatively inexpensive and cheap watches for women and men on the internet. These types of reviews will considered the designs, quality and prices of the Invicta watches , in order to allow their readers to make an informed decision while deciding the model that are best suits with your requirements and needs. The Invicta watch collection will features a wide range of watches that are vary greatly when it comes to its prices, designs and features. The main objectives of the watch reviews to explain the main reason behind their price factors and also feel, look and other technical aspects of each and every watch. Then you can easily compare them to buy the best one.

Fast-track your supermarket visits with these tips and tricks

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In-Store innovations

Supermarkets know you hate grocery shopping–so they’re speeding things up with new gadgets and services.

The handheld scanners at ALBERTSONS let you skip the checkout line entirely. Now available in its Dallas-area stores, and nationwide in the next 18 months, the scanners let you scan and bag as you select items. Then just swipe your credit card through the scanner to pay.

STOP & SHOP’s carts with scanner and touch-screen computer combos are like personal grocery assistants. E-mail your list to the store, then swipe your Stop & Shop card through the cart’s computer to call up your list. Scan and bag items as you go (the computer alerts you to sales), and check out by swiping your credit card through the scanner-computer. Three stores in Massachusetts have this technology; 150 more nationwide will offer it by the end of 2005.

WEGMANS has “helping hands” in all of its stores–employees on call to help with everything from pushing your cart if you can’t (screaming baby, broken leg, etc.) to loading groceries into your trunk , while you load your kids into the car.

Three PIGGLY WIGGLY stores in South Carolina have installed fingerprint scanners to speed up the checkout process (this technology will arrive in all 120 of the Southern supermarkets this year). Your fingerprint and credit card or ATM information are stored together on a secure server; after scanning and bagging items at the checkout, you can pay your total with just one touch.

Expert shopping tips

With a little organizing advice from Teri Gault, CEO and founder of The Grocery Game (, you can cruise the aisles in record time (and save a few bucks, too!).

* Know your store layout. If you don’t already have the aisles memorized, ask for a map (some stores offer them or you can make your own). Shopping is a lot quicker when you know exactly where you’re going.

* Organize your list. Arrange your list by aisle. Grouping like items together will mean less doubling back for things you forgot. Put a “C” next to items with coupons.

* File your coupons in aisle order. Use a coupon file from an office-supply store and keep the front pocket empty for the clippings you’ll use that day.

* Shop for heavy items first. Cruise the inside aisles for heavy items like dog food before you hit the perimeter, where fragile things like eggs and bread are kept. Skip aisles that don’t have anything on your list–just passing through them will tempt you to buy the high-priced, unhealthy processed foods that lurk there.

* Bag items the way you’ll organize them at home. Putting groceries away is much quicker when your frozen-food, produce, and pantry items are each in their own bag.

Softball Bat – 5 Important Factors to Check While Buying One

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Using the asa softball bats has its many advantages for players. With a good bat, you can score more runs and be able to get more hits and have higher number of wins while playing softball. When you are using good bats, you can lessen the number of ground outs and enhance the count of your single runs and even turn them into doubles. You need to consider a number of factors while picking your kind of bat. The length, weight, size of barrel, taper and grips are some of the most vital factors that you need to give importance to while picking a bat for your softball playing.


First of all, you should choose a bat which is long enough to reach the level of your waist from the ground. When you stand straight with arms on your sides, the tip of the bat should be at your waist level. With a bat of a good length, you can get more runs.


The weight of your softball bat is another vital factor to consider. The weight of the bat actually depends on the strength of the player who uses it. Naturally, a thumb rule for players is to consider the weight of the bat while swinging it during trials. If you are able to swing a bat with great speed and use your hands in a comfortable manner without experiencing any strain, you should pick it. Whether the bat is light or heavy does not matter. Moreover, your decision should not be influenced by the price, material or craftsmanship of the bat. Your bat should be light enough in weight for you so that you can swing your bat easily and can strike your ball farther.


The term “barrel” of a bat refers to the top section of a bat. The size of a barrel comprises of its diameter and its length. The standard barrel of any bat for softball playing has a diameter of 2.3/4 inch. As a player, it is actually a matter of choice whether or not you like a bat with a smaller or a longer barrel.


The diameter of the handle of a bat for softball playing is referred to as “taper”. Bats of a standard size come with a taper which is 31/32 of an inch. However, the taper can be larger or smaller on the basis of how much a bat weighs. Some players like bats with a larger taper. However, some players prefer a narrow taper which helps them to move around their wrist quickly and more easily at the time of swinging their bat.


The term “grip”, with reference to a bat for softball playing, indicates the covering on its handle. Some bats made of aluminum have a covering made of synthetic or leather. Some others consist of a covering made of rubber. Synthetic or leather covering provides players with a stickier feel and can ensure a stronger grip. A rubber covering, on the other hand, absorbs shocks from strikes in a better way.

Holiday shopping smarts: tips, tricks, and very clever tactics

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If you’ve received presents you can’t use (or, let’s be honest, just don’t like), put them back in circulation. Sixty-eight percent of women surveyed by Money Management International, a consumer-counseling organization, in 2007 had regifted or planned to, so ditch any pangs of guilt and throw a regifting party with friends. Each guest contributes, say, two or three new but utterly unwanted items (maybe an unopened DVD, bath gel, or a trendy scarf) and gets to choose the same number of castaways from friends. Best-case scenario: You score gifts just right for people on your list–think teacher, sister-in-law, or teenage babysitter. It’s a win-win: “I once received a candle set that I just never used, so I brought it to the party,” says Tanisha Warner, a mum from Houston. “The person who got it was thrilled.”


Turn those coins piling up in jars around the house into a gift card or eCertificate (starting at $5) that can be used at a favorite store or merchant. Wrap it up for giving, or use it for your holiday shopping. All you need to do is go to to locate one of 16,000 Coinstar machines at a store near you, and load in your loose change. When you exchange it for a gift card or eCertificate, you don’t pay any fees. Choose gift cards from–among others–iTunes, Starbucks, Old Navy, and Borders, and eCertificates for, JCPenney, and more.


At, you can nab secondhand gift cards (brand-new or partially used) at low prices, and then either give them to someone or use them yourself to shop away. “Many people have gift cards that they don’t want or will never use, so having cash is the better alternative, especially in this economy,” says the site’s Marc Gendron. Inventory is updated throughout the day, with 1,400-plus merchants represented. For buyers, deals are sweet–up to 40 percent off face value. We’ve seen a $1,000 Tiffany & Co. card going for $750. The site guarantees all cards listed–value is vetted, and the expiration date of and conditions for each card are clearly posted–so you don’t have to worry about getting fleeced. And if you have a card with a minimum balance of $25 that you want to sell, the site will pay you up to 85 percent of the face value.


You want an array of beautiful packages under the tree, but trimmings can get expensive. Instead of resigning yourself to one jumbo roll of red paper, throw a wrapping party. Each guest spends a little but ends up with a lot of cheerily wrapped packages. Janice Benoit of Lisle, IL, a mom of three, has held one of these parties for years with pals. The how-tos: Ask each guest to bring a couple of rolls of paper, some ribbon, and other supplies–plus several gifts in need of wrapping. Set up stations with wrapping paper, scissors, tape, ribbon, tags, and pens; everyone rotates, taking breaks to savor no-fuss treats like cheese and fruit.


A nice wine goes a long way toward holiday cheer, but you don’t have to break the bank buying it. Every December, GHRI’s Carolyn Forte buys a case (12 bottles) of Italian reds so she can get a case discount of 20 percent at her New Jersey store. “I like Italian reds because they’re often a good value, have pretty labels, and go with everything from pizza to pasta to steak,” says the home-care expert. She chooses wines that cost about $10–with the case discount, that’s a quick and simple gift for about $8 a pop, perfect for everyone from neighbors to the mail carrier. Also try, which sometimes offers one-cent shipping on any 12 bottles sent to one address. (Check the site for your state’s shipping regulations.) Affordable wine picks to consider, from GH Food Director Susan Westmoreland: red Antinori Santa Cristina Sangiovese 2008, from Tuscany, $11; Spanish white Marques de Caceres Rioja Blaneo 2008, $8; and sparkling white Spanish Cristalino Brut Cava, $8.


Of course you want your e-shopping delivered for free, and in this year’s softer economy, you are more likely than ever to get it. One smart strategy: Log onto for a range of shipping deals and discounts if you pay via PayPal service at many big sites. Some e-stores, like, offer free shipping on most items (if new customers spend $25; returning customers, $49). When buying gift cards online, seek out sites that send them at no charge, such as Lands’ End, QVC, and Nordstrom.


Quality matters, and so does a solid reputation, especially when times are tough, so check out these A-list retailers who are wooing your business: L.L.Bean ( will offer a $10 gift eard (good through February 16, 2010) with a purchase of $25 or more. Well-heeled Brooks Brothers ( will take $10 off your first purchase of $50 just for registering at their site. And at, you get two free lines of engraving on the iPod Nano, Touch, or Shuffle–for example, “You Make My Heart Sing,” when you treat your guy.

Eventide Blackhole Native Reverb Plug-In

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The algorithm at the core of the Blackhole ($99 street) evolved from presets found in Eventide’s flagship DSP4000 and H8000 processors, as well as the Space stompbox. While the Blackhole may be used to create viable earthbound reverb sounds, its raison d’être is to empower sonic adventurers to explore hitherto uncharted realms of audio time and space. The Blackhole is compatible with AAX, VST, and AU plugin formats, and it requires an iLok2 USB key for authorization. I tested the AAX version in Avid Pro Tools 10 on a 6-core Apple Mac Pro running Lion. Installation took place with the rapidity of a decaying nutrino.

Interaction with the Blackhole occurs via fully automatible knobs, switches, buttons, and sliders. An ingenious virtual Ribbon Controller lets you program two sets of parameters, and continuously morph between them by mousing over the screen-length “ribbon” (or by clicking the buttons on either side of it). Other controls include Hotswitch (which lets you instantly toggle between two sets of parameters), Kill (which mutes the input so that you hear only the reverb tail), Freeze (which captures and loops audio in the reverb buffer, and allows you to manipulate the sound using the Blackhole’s controls), and Gravity (a reverb-decay knob that sweeps from dense/quickly decaying to long/smoothly decaying throughout half its range, and from reverse reverbs to wild time-inversion effects throughout the other half).

Additionally, you can vary reverb size and wet/dry mix, equalize reverb tails with the very effective Low (a shelving filter with a corner frequency of 350Hz) and High (a shelving filter with a corner frequency of 2kHz) controls, adjust the resonance of the Low and High filters, and modulate reverb tails with Moddepth and Modrate. Up to two seconds of predelay are available. With Tempo mode off, predelay is not synced to tempo, and beat values are displayed in milliseconds. With Tempo Sync engaged, predelay tempo is synced to the host sequencer, or if you choose Tempo Man, you can tap in the tempo, or dial in a set value.

I used the Blackhole on all types of tracks, including drums and percussion, electric guitars, hammered dulcimer, and kalimba, and I always got singular and often mindblowing results. In some cases, I was actually able to generate entirely new compositional frameworks by setting the Mix control to 100 percent wet, and letting the Blackhole do its thing on a separate track. While the Blackhole is mostly about real-time control, it does come with some superb presets—although they require an inefficient four clicks to load.

The Blackhole generates multiverses of new sonic possibilities for a c-note, making it an indespensible tool for anyone looking to expand their aesthetic horizons.

Before you buy a digital camera

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Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, weddings, summer travel: If there were an official American picture-taking season, it would definitely kick off in May. And now is also the hottest time to buy a digital camera–new models are debuting at great introductory prices, while last year’s are substantially discounted. The trick is to pick one that matches your needs, so you’ll pay only for features you’ll actually use.

If you’re a Casual Snapshot Shooter …

You don’t want to fuss with camera settings. You like to capture the moment on the fly, whether it’s your daughter’s birthday party or your puppy’s first bath. You generally print 4×6 photos, and you care most about portability and ease of use, so you’ll sacrifice fancy options (like rechargeable batteries) for serious savings.

* Look for … a point-and-shoot camera. These typically offer 2 or 3 megapixels of resolution. (The more megapixels, the better the photo’s “resolution,” or detail.) Ideally, you want at least a 3x zoom lens, meaning that your closest close-up will appear three times bigger than it would without the lens. Do choose a camera that uses a flash memory card, a removable device for storing photos. Otherwise, you can take only as many photos as your camera’s internal memory can hold, which varies from model to model but is always limited and non-expandable.

* Expect to spend: $99 to $250

At the higher end of this range is the new Canon PowerShot A510, which costs less than $200 and has 3.2 megapixeis of resolution. This camera is extremely lightweight and takes a great photo with a simple point and click (but it also has a few features that can help you get the best pictures in different lighting situations, such as dim light, sun, snow, etc.). Or try the Fujifilm FinePix A340; you’ll find that it’s deeply discounted (down to $100 in May) on Internet comparison-shopping sites (see box for tips).

If you’re a Memory Keeper …

You faithfully document every event, from Uncle Joe’s retirement bash to the company picnic, and you like to make prints in larger sizes. You might save your photos on your computer’s hard drive, burn a CD to give out at the family reunion, print up holiday cards, or share your photos online.

Look for … rechargeable batteries, a powerful flash, a self-timer, a large LCD preview screen (to view the picture before taking it–the newer ones are typically 1.8 inches wide or more), and optical and digital zoom lenses (optical zooms are physical mechanisms; digital ones use software to create the “zoom” effect). Also, choose a camera with enough controls to let you shoot well in bright sunshine or a candlelit room. Go for a model with at least 4 or 5 megapixels (for 8×10 prints and larger, you need better resolution). Like e-mailing and printing photos? Pick a camera that sends shots to your PC wirelessly or comes with a printer docking station so you can print 4×6 photos at the touch of a button.

* Expect to spend: $250 to $600. One good option is the HP Photosmart R717 for $250; this camera shoots panoramic views and has automatic red-eye correction, among other features. On the pricier side, check out the Kodak EasyShare-One system for $600, which offers wireless printing or transferring of photos.

Find the best deal–anywhere

Smart shopping tip: Start your research at,, or pricegrabber .com. These sites search all digital-camera models available (online and off) and give you a list of who’s selling what, and for what cost. Just remember to figure in tax and delivery (since costs will vary), and check with the store to make sure the product’s available!

Distortion of doom: how to get that pedal to the metal synth fuzz

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I have to admit it: I never really liked the idea of plugging a synth into a top guitar distortion pedal. Lots of folks have done it in varying contexts. But every time I busted out the Boss Super Overdrive that’s been with me since 1983, something didn’t feel right. But then I heard a couple of records that turned me around. First I heard Orgy’s searing cover of the New Order classic, “Blue Monday.” Not too adventurous as cover versions go, but it had this great distorted bass guitar/synth/I-don’t-what-it-is that sure sounded mean.

Then I discovered the band Deadsy, who used a similar sound, stripped and naked, all over their debut disc, Commencement. This was really killing me. Both Orgy and Deadsy were primarily produced and recorded at the same studio; these guys all seemed to know each other. To cut a long story short, I befriended one the guitarists in Deadsy, and I had my answer. The sound I was hearing wasn’t a guitar or bass, but in fact a Roland JP-8080 synthpatched into a Boss Hyperfuzz pedal. Actually, two of ’em, for stereo. My friend Carlton was controlling all this with a Z-Tar MIDI controller for a sort of futuristic guitar vibe, which I later experienced myself when I filled in on a handful of live shows.

Since then I’ve made a practice of using this big, growling tone in a number of production styles. What’s great is that sounds sort of like power chords, but it’s deeper, darker, and fuzzier, so it’s nice for filling in the space between bass and electric guitar. Of course there are a ton of ways to distort a synth, but I’ve found some really neat ones, and some secrets along the way that I’ll share. Aren’t you lucky?

Let’s make the synth patch. This is simple, and as long as you’ve got a virtual synth with two oscillators, just about anything will do the job. Select sawtooth waveforms on both oscillators. We’ll make the first oscillator the “root” note, and then set the interval on the second oscillator a perfect fifth up; this is equivalent to seven half-steps up. The filter should be the standard lowpass variety. Cutoff frequency will need to be really low, so the distortion doesn’t sound like a total buzz saw, but it’s best to play with the setting once you set up the distortion. The same goes for the resonance setting. We don’t want any filter envelope, so make sure the filter envelope intensity is zeroed out. The amplitude envelope should be a straight on-off affair; attack at zero, decay at zero, sustain full up and release almost zero.

Now we have a relatively dull one-finger power chord patch. Here’s where you’ll want to plug this guy into a distortiondevice. Now, the fuzzbox of choice can make all the difference between blah and blazam, so choose your weapon carefully, rock soldier. What I’ve found is that the best sounding fuzzboxes usually don’t live inside a computer. And the more extreme, the better. Overdrive or tube screamer-type stomp boxes are usually intended for guitarists to beef up their tone a bit when plugging into an already distorted guitar amp–not what we’re after here. Fuzz boxes aren’t meant to preserve the natural tone of the $4,000 Les Paul you just got, they’re meant to destroy it. The aforementioned Boss Hyperfuzz is such a device, and it sounds great for power chord synth mayhem. I’ve found most octave-fuzz devices sound really awesome in this setting. The venerable ProCo Rat makes a neat synthdistorter too. And my secret weapon: the Danelectro French Toast octave-fuzz. Super cheap, super noisy. Sounds amazing with the octave switch on!

When using stomp boxes, keep in mind that their inputs are designed for electric guitars, which have meager output, so turn things down real quiet. Remember to experiment with the synth’s filter cutoff and resonance controls; you’ll be amazed at how dark the filter can get and still achieve great fuzz tones. Another neat trick: Plug the fuzzbox into a real amp or an amp simulator. No crazy gain settings; use a moderate crunch, such as on Fender Twin or Bassman models. And finally, try some stereo chorusing or doubling to widen up your wall of fuzz; always at the end of the chain; chorus plugged into distortion is bad ugly, not good ugly. Until next month, rattle those fillings with the rawk!

The right fit: new woman riders should choose their first motorcycles carefully

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Women are the fastest-growing segment of new motorcycle riders in the United States. If you’re a woman who’s recently received your motorcycle driver’s license endorsement, or if you’re still in the exploration phase, we can help steer you to some motorcycles ideal for new riders. (Of course, these bikes and considerations are also applicable to male beginners.)

First, here are some tips to remember when you’re shopping for your first bike:

* Sit on the motorcycle to assess these ergonomic characteristics: Do your feet reach the ground? Can your feet reach the gear shifter and brake pedal comfortably? How comfortable is the reach to the handlebars? How comfortable is the seat? Can your fingers reach the clutch and brake levers? Can you pull in the levers with ease?

* Once you’ve found a few motorcycles you like, test one out on a demo ride, either through your local dealer or at one of the many motorcycle rallies and shows held throughout the country. (You will need a motorcycle endorsement to participate in a demo ride.)


The Buell Blast is the motorcycle used in Harley-Davidson’s Rider’s Edge training classes. The wonderful thing about the Blast is that many riders hold onto it well beyond their beginner years. It’s quite literally “a blast” to buzz around town on, especially when its fuel consumption averages 68 miles per gallon.

The Blast is a standard-style motorcycle for those not sure if they want the laid-back riding style of a cruiser or the zippiness of a sportbike. With 500cc, the Blast has plenty of oomph to it, yet is light enough at 360 lbs. and low enough at 25.5 inches (with the optional low-profile seat) to inspire confidence in beginner riders. MSRP starts at around $4,700.


If a Harley is what you’re after, the Sportster 883L is Milwaukee’s entry-level motorcycle. With a seat height of just 25.3 inches, most riders will have no problem touching the ground flat-footed. Plus, unlike other midsize cruisers, the 883L has a narrow profile seat, so riders with shorter legs won’t lose precious leg inches with a wide saddle.

While the power and torque produced by a 883cc engine is considered aggressive for most beginners, the motorcycle’s small size makes it a breeze to handle. New riders will appreciate how easy it is to pull in the clutch. Harley reduced the clutch effort significantly in recent years.

The Sportster 883 offers a solid, fun ride on a bike that can be outfitted for touring for those who wish to go long distances. MSRP starts at around $7,000.


If you’re not ready to jump to a bigger bike just yet, the Rebel is an ideal machine on which to continue practicing your skills in a parking lot or in a quiet neighborhood. The Honda Rebel 250 is used in many motorcycle training facilities across the country, so you may have already had experience riding one.

A new Rebel starts at around $4,000, but most people opt to buy a used one because they’ll likely be selling it in a year or two. It’s very low with a 26.6-inch seat height, and light enough at 306 lbs. for most beginners to handle. It’s a 250cc motorcycle so its power is limited, although women have been known to travel long distances on a motorcycle this size.


The next step up from the Rebel in the Honda family is the Shadow VLX. This bike has been in Honda’s lineup for years because it’s an ideal first bike. It has an ergonomic setup that many beginner riders like: the seat is comfortable, the handlebar reach is just right, the pegs are in the right place, and the 25.6-inch seat height is more than accommodating. The bike is well balanced and has a low center of gravity.

There are plenty of used VLXs on the market, but many riders like to buy a new one and customize it. Saddlebags, a windshield and a luggage rack all can be bolted on for riding longer distances.

Note: this midsize cruiser only has four speeds instead of the more common five-speed transmission found on bikes of this size. However, most beginning riders won’t find this limiting, as there is a wide enough powerband to provide adequate power when needed. MSRP starts at around $5,500.


This is Yamaha’s entry-level motorcycle and is ideal for riders still skittish about handling a bigger bike. The Virago has a big-bike look, but it’s very lightweight at 302 lbs. and has a low seat height of just 27 inches. A lot of motorcycle rider training classes use a motorcycle just like this one. Some riders fresh from the class may still want to practice what they learned on a bike this size.

The Virago has been in Yamaha’s lineup since 1988 (it was called Route 66 back then), so it’s a good solid motorcycle on which to practice basic riding skills. Since most riders don’t hold onto this bike for long, you might find a used one in reasonable shape. Once you feel comfortable enough on two wheels, you’ll be ready to move to a bigger bike. MSRP starts at around $3,500.


This is the next step up from the Virago in the Yamaha Star Motorcycle lineup. While power is considerably more with a displacement of 650cc, the V Star Custom’s weight and seat height are still manageable for most beginners due to the bike’s low center of gravity. Seat height is only 27.4 inches and the weight is 474 lbs.

The V Star is the bike of choice for many confident beginners because it handles so well and has plenty of power to keep up with bigger bikes and maneuver through traffic. The V Star has plenty of style, too; you get a lot of motorcycle starting at around $6,800. Bolt on a windshield, saddlebags and other touring accessories, and the V Star can take you many miles into your riding life.


Riders looking for an entry-level sportbike motorcycle will find that their options are somewhat limited. Kawasaki’s Ninja 250R is the only 250cc motorcycle dressed in a sporty package (see photo, page 56). It’s lightweight, easy to handle and provides plenty of power through its six-speed powerband. This bike even satisfies the appetite of some experienced riders because of its zippiness at an entry-level price starting at around $3,000.

The 250R is outfitted with Kawasaki’s UNI-TRAK progressive rear suspension and high-performance disc brakes found on the company’s powerful race-inspired bikes. While the 29.3-inch seat height is higher than most other entry-level models, the bike weighs only 304 lbs., so confident beginners may be able handle the weight of the bike on tip-toes.

New riders desiring a sportbike ride should consider the Ninja 250R before hopping on a more powerful bike.


Boulevard is Suzuki’s cruiser line. Boulevard’s two entry-level models are

* the S40, a single-cylinder 655cc motorcycle (similar to the Honda Rebel and the Yamaha/Star Virago), and

* the S50 motorcycle, which has a 819cc V-twin motor. Weighing 443 lbs., S50 is 100 lbs. heavier than the S40, but has the same seat height (27.6 inches). Both are extremely easy to handle, but riders who feel a little more confident will want to lean toward the S50 due to its extra boost in power. Both offer a five-speed transmission, which is a nice feature to have on the smaller bike, but both are priced a little higher than the competition, starting at around $6,500 for the S50, and $4,400 for the S40.

Other motorcycles worth mentioning:

BMW F 650 CS–This is a fun, commuter-style motorcycle that’s lightweight and stands out in a crowd.

Ducati Monster 620–This is an entry-level Ducati for confident beginners who want a naked bike (and who want to make a statement).

Genevieve Schmitt is the founder of, a motorcycling news and information network featuring a comprehensive beginner’s guide for women.

Online shopping – dos and don’ts

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One of the major buzzwords of the late ’90s in the press is e-commerce. Most companies, if they are not selling online already, are rushing to join the mass of online merchants. You can purchase virtually anything online – books, videos, software, CD-ROMs, CDs, tapes, downloadable music, posters, apparel, musical instruments and pro and consumer audio products. You can also book travel arrangements, send flowers, buy a car and have your groceries delivered tomorrow morning. All you need is a credit card and many sites will also accept cheques electronically. Of course you can also send in payment by snail mail or place a credit card order by FAX or phone.

So far, a very small portion of Internet users are shopping online although the numbers increase daily and onlineshopping now totals billions of dollars annually. Most of the hesitance is based on fears of having your credit card information stolen or getting ripped off by some far distant unscrupulous company. A lot of the fears concerning credit cards are greatly exaggerated – I would be much more concerned with the security of the mail system and many traditional sales channels. That said, some caution should be exercised.

First, as in any purchase, be aware of the reputation and business practices of any merchants online or not. When visiting websites, be wary of companies with no phone or address listed or just a post office box. The Internet has spawned thousands of basement operations, and although most are probably honest, they will be very hard to find if you have a problem. Look for their number of years in business and such things as money-back guarantees. Call them up and speak to the customer service people and satisfy yourself that they are a real company.

If you are using your credit card online, make sure they are using a secure server that delivers your order information in an encrypted format. If this makes you uncomfortable, place your order by phone or FAX.

If you are purchasing a high-ticket item such as a musical instrument or pro audio gear, you don’t have the chance to try the product, you will have little support or backup and you may have warranty problems, especially for anything purchased in another country. What seems like a bargain may not be if you have problems and need repairs, instruction or support later.

To find products you are looking for you can type product keywords into the major search engines or major music sites. There are also many online malls that connect you to a variety of online retailers.

Shop like an expert

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By now most of us fashion obsessives know how to get our hands on an It bag: Call the store the minute it appears on the runway, pay in advance, and maybe bribe the salesperson. But when you need to stock up on all your major purchases for the season, what’s the best way to get what you want without wasting hours on multiple unsuccessful shopping trips? Is it possible to put together a new wardrobe without combing the shelves? Do only celebrities and high rollers get the attention of the sales staff? Though you may not get the store to shut down so you can shop without distractions–like, say, Jennifer Lopez can–and you would probably have to do some big-time spending to penetrate a designer’s private studio, your shopping experience can still be easy and pleasurable.

Few people realize that VIP status at stores is there for the taking. Forget trolling racks to find your size, running from floor to floor to put a complete look together, waving down an inattentive salesperson, or lugging bags around all day. Have someone else do it for you. Don’t worry–you don’t need a celebrity paycheck; most major stores offer personal shopping at no extra cost. (They’re able to afford this luxury because the hope is you’ll be spending more money than if you were shopping alone.)

“People should feel special, whether they are beginning shoppers or they have reached the pinnacle and can buy anything they want,” says Elaine Mack, Bergdorf Goodman’s head personal shopper. “And they can achieve this by working with a personal shopper.” The process couldn’t be simpler. If you are a first-timer, a private session usually entails having an initial dialogue about your likes, sizes, clothing needs, and budget. “It can be 10 to 30 minutes,” says Mack, followed by an appointment lasting anywhere from one to four hours. And when you arrive at the store, voila–you’ll have a stocked dressing room waiting. From there you’ll start wardrobe building. Your fashion pro will ensure that everything fits (or is tailored right there) and offer a how-to on mixing and matching, accessorizing, and what to wear when.


“I don’t walk up and down Madison Avenue and flip through racks,” says Vie Luxe co-founder Marjorie Gubelmann Raein, who favors classic cuts and styles. “I like department stores and working with a personal shopper. I like the variety. You can try it on all at once and get everything altered right there, and it shows up at your house a few days later.” Just as immediate alterations are key to skillful shopping, having your bags shipped or delivered to your home after a purchase is a must. Walking out of a store bag-free lets you shop unfettered for the rest of the day. “I never walk away with a bag,” says stylist Andrea Lieberman, who works with Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, and Faith Hill and, needless to say, has spent an impressive amount of time visiting stores.

Not only do department-store shopping gurus know the ins and outs of their retail territory and the best of designers’ collections, but they’re master decoders of the varying sizes of clothing (a 6 in Balenciaga isn’t necessarily a 6 in Bill Blass). They are also a direct line to the most covetable items. “We know when the good things are coming in and where they are hidden. You need our eyes when you’re going through the store,” says Mack, a 31-year veteran of Bergdorf’s. “If there’s a certain bag that’s not on the floor because it hasn’t been replenished, we know if it’s in the stockroom. We can reserve it for you before it gets out.”

The benefits of having a personal shopper don’t stop at getting dibs on the hot pieces. “We’ll arrange lunch, set up a makeup consultation, and open up the store after-hours,” says Barneys New York studio services director Laura Mannix. “We’ll even go to your house and do your closet.” Another big bonus of making friends with a store insider is having first pick of the seasonal bargains. “You can preview the sales two or three weeks before everyone else,” says Mannix.

This same doting service is found in most small high-end boutiques as well–and it can get even more specialized (think packing your bags for trips). The one caveat? Loyalty. Building a relationship with a store and a sales associate and consistently proving your allegiance to them (by spending money) are vital to getting the best above-and-beyond service. According to Kirna Zabete co-owner Sarah Easley, being monogamous with one fashion broker pays off: “We e-mail images to our good clients, we send things out on approval, we’ll come over to your house with racks, and we’ll send alterations to your office,” she says. “We have a very sophisticated computer system that records everything you’ve ever bought. We know your closet better than you do!”

Finding the right person to be your run-way-to-reality link is essential. “It’s about starting a rapport with someone you trust, whose opinions you trust, who has your best interests in mind,” says Lieberman. “It’s like any relationship: You have to find someone you feel comfortable with.” Once that bond is established, it’s all about VIP treatment. “In my stores all of our clients are celebrities,” says Jeffrey Kalinsky of his namesake fashion meccas in New York and Atlanta. “There is nothing that we do for a person who is famous that we won’t do for someone who is not.”

Ikram Goldman’s Chicago boutique is just as service-oriented. “We couldn’t make it easier for our customers. We tell them what to wear with what, we pack for them, we give them ideas on how to put their look together,” says Goldman, who’s even helped customers get ready for big nights out, going so far as arranging pre-event hair and makeup in her store. “We do whatever makes our customers happy.”

While being pampered is certainly something we could all use, many of us just want to get our shopping done as fast as possible. In the busy lives of women today, saving time is the real luxury. “Believe it or not, most women don’t love to shop,” says Mack. “They just want it done efficiently, and working with someone who knows the merchandise is probably the biggest time-saver.” If even a personal-shopping appointment sounds too high-maintenance for you, try calling ahead and having a staffer prepare a dressing room for you. “Connect with someone on the sales floor, and they can prepull for you,” suggests Mannix.

Other ways to get in and out of a store in a flash? Keep your credit-card number on file at your favorite haunt and avoid the wait at the register. Some small boutiques will even offer house accounts to their big customers. And shop at off-peak hours. “The trick is to go right when the store opens,” says Oprah Winfrey stylist and Bazaar contributor Jenny Capitain. “You have the whole store to yourself, and everything is organized from the night before.” For city shopping Capitain also recommends hiring a car to cover lots of ground.

Perhaps the ultimate luxury in shopping would be not shopping at all. Employing a stylist like red-carpet regulars do can cost thousands of dollars a day, but there’s no need to break the bank. Learning to shop deftly and efficiently can make the difference between a failed closet-restocking mission and a successful one.