Archive for the ‘Featured’ Topic

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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Van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Rhone

Van Gogh’s trib­ute to the night sky could give you an inspired morning

You get out of bed, blink your eyes blearily, make a weak attempt to stretch and loosen up, then head to the shower, where you lean against the wall half-asleep and hope the hot water will tease you awake. After you get cleaned up, you trudge down­stairs, inhale a cup of cof­fee, and grudg­ingly walk out the door.

Sound famil­iar?

Not exactly the pic­ture of pur­pose and moti­va­tion, is it?  Wak­ing up is hard, but espe­cially when you do so by an alarm clock (out of neces­sity of course) and by pack­ing your­self full of a stim­u­lant, namely caffeine.

In frus­tra­tion over the inglo­ri­ous way I used to wake up — i.e. very slowly for a cou­ple of hours with a pre­dictable after­noon crash — I’ve brain­stormed and used sev­eral tools effec­tively to get myself off to an inspired start. Read More

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