No mat­ter where you scull, win­ning does not require the stroke of a genius

Sports are an essen­tial part of my life, and I think they can be a fun and reward­ing activ­ity for any­one. Since my early child­hood, sports and other phys­i­cal recre­ation have been an almost daily part of my rou­tine, and this con­tin­ues through today. I played three var­sity sports in high school, one in col­lege, and have won com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ments in all three. I have been coached by pro­fes­sion­als, includ­ing the coach of a pre­vi­ous top 5 ten­nis player. I have per­son­ally coached in three sports, ten­nis, vol­ley­ball and hockey, and con­tinue to coach vol­ley­ball today. I truly believe that any­one can be suc­cess­ful at any sport; that’s not to say you can be a pro­fes­sional, but that you can learn a sport, play it well and reap the ben­e­fits, includ­ing the eustress might want to add a wiki or news arti­cle link here — not every­body knows what this is of a com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment, the cama­raderie of team­mates and other like-minded indi­vid­u­als, and win or lose, the sat­is­fac­tion from know­ing you played to your max­i­mum poten­tial. Read More

Angkor Wat

Ok, so your hotel won’t look like this, but we want it to feel like it does.

Things were look­ing rather bleak. Our attempts to buy air­line tick­ets from Siem Reap, Cam­bo­dia to Hanoi, Viet­nam online had failed mul­ti­ple times, and we wanted to fly out the next day. Nick and I trudged back to our guest­house to see if the man­ager, Meang, could pos­si­bly help. His response?

Sure, let me text mes­sage a friend who works in a travel office, she’ll reserve the tick­ets, and we can go over tomor­row to pick them up. It’ll be cheaper if we do it for you any­ways. Does that sound ok?”

The next morn­ing, Meang per­son­ally drove us to the travel agency to pur­chase the tick­ets at a 33% dis­count, waited until the trans­ac­tion was com­plete, and then drove us to a restau­rant he rec­om­mended for break­fast. After hav­ing the door opened for us to walk in, we were greeted by three smil­ing servers. The omelettes proved excel­lent, and each included a bowl of per­fectly ripe exotic fruit, which wasn’t even men­tioned on the menu.

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A rural road in Tanzania en route to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Ditch the tourism super­high­ways and leave the asphalt behind.

As we’re cur­rently back­pack­ing through South­east Asia for a few weeks, we thought it would be a good idea to work on a col­lab­o­ra­tive post for the first time. We’ve both been to tourist traps like Paris, and far-flung places like rural Poland, and we have found there are sev­eral ways you can avoid the crowds, see the best and least-trodden attrac­tions, and also get by on the cheap in pretty much any coun­try out there.  This post will be the first in a series of self-directed travel guides.

Why You Should Blaze Your Own Trail Abroad

There’s a rea­son every­one should see the Eif­fel Tower, the Colos­seum, and Lon­don Museum — they’re all gor­geous, and most peo­ple can appre­ci­ate these beau­ti­ful sights. And there’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to see these for your­self, in fact we encour­age it.

How­ever, along with pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions come a vari­ety of annoy­ances, frus­tra­tions, and even dan­gers. Here’s just a few:

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latte Quitting Coffee

Only you can decide if its for good or evil

Cof­fee is a reg­u­lar part of many person’s diet;  about 1/3 of peo­ple in both Europe and Amer­ica reg­u­larly drink the caf­feinated bev­er­age.  Whether this is a good or bad thing is up for debate.  I have scoured the Inter­net and pro­fes­sional jour­nals for years about a con­clu­sion on cof­fee and caf­feine, and there is none to be had.  The Olympic com­mit­tee has banned the sub­stance because caf­feine has been proven to increase ath­letic per­for­mance in skills such as dis­tance run­ning. But from an over­all health per­spec­tive, it seems cof­fee isn’t too bad, but nor is it a panacea.  There are numer­ous arti­cles out there on quit­ting cof­fee, but if you plan to quit, you will need a good rea­son to do so, for as I have found, reduc­ing caf­feine intake can be a chal­leng­ing task.

I have had an abbre­vi­ated his­tory with caf­feine, as I didn’t drink soda as a child.  I first stared drink­ing cof­fee reg­u­larly in sopho­more year of col­lege, and have been drink­ing it ever since.  Caf­feine has a pro­nounced effect on me, prob­a­bly in part due to my late intro­duc­tion and per­haps just due to my body chem­istry. The Mayo Clinic talks about caf­feine sen­si­tiv­ity, but luck­ily its effects aren’t that severe with me, but a cup at 10:30PM will keep me up until 4am.  So why stop?  When I first started work­ing a stan­dard hours job, I wasn’t get­ting enough sleep, and was con­sum­ing 1 to 3 cups a day.  The expe­ri­ence was a daily emo­tional roller­coaster, a lit­tle too much to reg­u­larly han­dle.  I cut it down to 1–2 cups a day, but I still had a rise and fall in the morn­ing and early after­noon, which would often con­clude with a cup of tea around 2PM.

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The Myth of Personality

Written by: Nick
Topics: Lifestyle
An artist looks in a mirror and paints a self-portrait.

Well, sure, that’s your self-portrait today…

If you were to describe me, you might say some­thing like, “he has blue eyes, brown hair…hmm….reads a lot, likes for­eign languages…hmm….I don’t know?” None of these things are wrong, in fact they’re all cor­rect, but after this, you’d strug­gle.  Not because I inher­ently defy descrip­tion, but because it’s dif­fi­cult to describe any­one past their obvi­ous phys­i­cal appear­ance and a few basic obser­va­tions about their likes, dis­likes, and habits.

Go ahead, try it, attempt to describe any of your friends.  You’ll feel you have a sense for what they’re like, but you will find it dif­fi­cult to attach any con­crete state­ments to their var­i­ous qualities.

Now for some­thing really mind-bending: try and describe your­self, beyond your phys­i­cal appear­ance. Be hon­est, but try and be as detailed as pos­si­ble.  Not very easy, is it? And so brings us to the the­sis of this post: for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses, per­son­al­ity is a myth.

Every­one is Always Changing

I know, that’s a con­tro­ver­sial state­ment, but nec­es­sar­ily so. The rea­son it’s so dif­fi­cult to describe your friends or even your­self in any mean­ing­ful way is that peo­ple are not con­stants, they are con­stantly in flux.

What you like one day is not what you like the next.  How you act one day is not how you act the next, and how you act in three years is prob­a­bly even more dif­fer­ent. You develop bad habits and break them, you learn new skills and apply them, you treat oth­ers poorly one day, and roy­ally the next. To describe your­self as “loyal” or “unre­li­able” or “petty” or “friendly” is really just an approx­i­ma­tion — every per­son has such a range of pos­si­ble behav­iors, opin­ions, and oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth or reces­sion that words sim­ply fall short of appro­pri­ate description.

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Seurat Dont Plan Your Trip to Europe

Make your time in Europe a walk in the park

It was the sum­mer of 2008.  I had just landed in Kiev, Ukraine with my pass­port, $20.00 US, and not much else. The cus­toms inspec­tor didn’t speak a word  Eng­lish, and I didn’t have a Ukrain­ian point of con­tact, nor an address of res­i­dency. Was I wor­ried? Cer­tainly not, and the trip proved a com­plete suc­cess. I had exper­i­mented with min­i­mal­ist travel on a pre­vi­ous trip to Europe, and extend­ing it fur­ther was a great expe­ri­ence. This time I hopped on the air­plane with no con­crete plans, no train tick­ets, and no room or board sched­uled.  Over the course of a month I got to see seven spec­tac­u­lar coun­tries, and not once had a seri­ous logis­tics prob­lem.  Although plan­ning may be a com­pul­sion, or even a joy for you, I rec­om­mend plan­ning at least one trip by not plan­ning at all.

No cash?  You’ll end up sav­ing money

In the past, my par­ents went to AAA and brought hun­dreds of dol­lars in traveler’s checks before a trip.  Oth­ers go to the bank and get large amounts in for­eign cur­rency.  Besides being a has­sle, the exchange rates are usu­ally bad, and you have the bur­den of hav­ing a lot of cash that could be poten­tially stolen (pick­pock­ets are a fact of travel).  As I have found in both West­ern and East­ern Europe, credit cards are nearly as ubiq­ui­tous as they are in the US. And given the right credit card, the exchange rates are always within 1% of mar­ket value, far bet­ter than any cur­rency exchange ser­vice will give. Read More

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