Cats & Mental Health.. — Anxious Ramblings Of A Fragile Mind.

In the UK alone 46%, nearly half of all households own at least one pet. Traditional the dog has always been considered the ultimate companion, and having owned a dog myself I can see why. But in recent years cats are overtaking them as the most popular pet. I adopted my kitty 5 years ago. […]

via Cats & Mental Health.. — Anxious Ramblings Of A Fragile Mind.

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On Tacos, Toilet Paper, and Turning Twenty-seven

The Wondering Wandering Woman

This past Sunday I turned twenty-seven and celebrated the first of two birthdays that will occur during my Peace Corps service. Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven. Man, do I feel old! I’m almost thirty. Ouch. It actually hurt to type that a little bit. Twenty-seven… Twenty-seven actually became a significant number in my life almost a year ago. No, it wasn’t because I had just turned twenty-six, but rather because last December was when I started thinking about joining the Peace Corps: a twenty-seven month commitment of voluntary service abroad. A year later here I am: twenty-seven years old and writing this blog from my site in the Philippines, officially a Peace Corps Volunteer! Time is a wonderfully, peculiar thing, isn’t it?

Anyway, enough philosophizing and on to the celebrations! I started my birthday like any other day of the week, with a sunrise run to the pier. I followed this with…

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How To Get Cheap International Flights

I’m not sure if 3 months before on a Tuesday is always right but I know it’s true for the most part. Around 3 months before I was trying to go to Asia a friend of mine found tickets to South Korea for 450 USD and we bought them right away. I’ve never seen lower than that. From there it was between 100 to 300 to almost anywhere in Southeast Asia. I ended up going to over 5 countries over the course of 2 months and spent less than 1000 USD on plane tickets total.

Alesia's Affordable Adventures

Yes. The secret formula exists. It is true.

After researching and researching and researching a kajillion articles on Google, Pinterest and Facebook I read multiple different answers to the question “When are international flights the cheapest?” It was frustrating. So I tested it myself.

I used Expedia to help me with this – they compare hundred of flights to find you the cheapest and fastest route for you. All the articles said, “6 months before your trip! 2 months before your trip! 6 weeks before your trip!” I didn’t know who to believe. I didn’t want to risk to buy my ticket at the 6 month price only to find out it’s cheaper at 2 months.

Here’s what I learned: I stumbled upon some great information from an article on Pinterest one day. (I wish I could find it but it’s hidden somewhere deep in the internet haha) That the…

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Scientific Proof Our Minds Are All Connected — Science PRIMAL

Are our minds connected to one another? Some phenomena people point to for evidence of this include telepathic experiences and psychic abilities. We all know what it’s like to know what a friend is going to say right before they say it. But there is an entirely new field of evidence that exists which gives serious […]

via Scientific Proof Our Minds Are All Connected — Science PRIMAL

Important Steps for International Backpacking

If you want to travel, the first step is to figure out the reason you want to leave. Know in your heart why you’re doing it. That doesn’t mean you need to know yourself deep down or have a master plan, it could be as simple as, “I want to see the Milky Way,” or “I want to go where I’ve never been.” You’ll also want to know what your main focus will be, usually either sightseeing, culture, or adventure. To make that more clear, “Do you want to see new things, eat and drink new things, or do new things?” Or you may not want to do anything new at all, and just be in a new place. Although your actual trip will probably have a mixture of all these things, it’s very important that you know your goal, because everything else will stem from that. It’ll determine where you’ll go, how much money you’ll need, and how to legally and medically prepare for what’s ahead.

International travel is a true adventure. Adventure by definition is, “to engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.” Some people want to go full throttle and risk their lives into the unknown with all the dangers and mysteries still present. Although that might be what you desire, that’s not what I’m going to suggest, and it’s not what I’ll be explaining. What I’d like to explain are the steps to experience international travel like it’s a rollercoaster in which you can experience the invigorating sensations and adrenaline all while knowing you’re still strapped into the ride, and that no real danger is present. That being said, there will always be a danger, because the real world doesn’t allow you to strap into safety. Poverty can be a harsh reality; political uprisings, military coups, war, violent crime, parasites, disease and natural disasters are inevitable, but precautions and preparations can be taken.

BUDGETING and CHOOSING A LOCATION

With international travel you’re going to have a few unavoidable major purchases, and then the rest will be determined by what you want and what you need. The main purchase is plane tickets. Almost all international plane tickets one way in or out of the U.S. are going to be between $400-$2000 with an average of $700 on any given day. Many times if you frequently use certain travel websites or travel a certain airline regularly, these prices will go down. The easiest way to see your approximate pricing will be to use Google Flights. This will show you what major airlines have available on any given day and how much they’ll charge. Once you figure out a possible flight plan, you can click on the link and Google will redirect you to the airline’s own website where you can start booking your ticket. Many times, buying directly from the airline is cheaper than buying through a travel website such as Priceline, but this isn’t always the case. So check both.

Regardless of websites and deals, the two main things that will determine ticket pricing are: the length of your time window, and your willingness to take the “long way.” The long way involves lay overs and multiple planes. For example, let’s say you want to go to Germany for Oktoberfest next year. Oktoberfest only happens on one day a year, so your window is pretty small. You go to Google Flights and find that you could either spend $1,500 dollars (one-way) to take two planes: one from St. Louis to New York, and another from New York to Stuttgart, all in one day. Or, you could spend $700 to go two days earlier, but you’ll have to stop in Chicago before going to New York, and you’ll have to stop in London before getting to Stuttgart and each layover is 8 hours which doesn’t even give you enough time to sleep in a hotel. This is the kind of trade off you can expect and it’s almost never easy.

So, this comes back into choosing your location and why you’re traveling. Maybe you’ll decide that Oktoberfest is too expensive for such a short amount of time but you still want to go to an international party. Others such as Thailand’s Full Moon Party happen every month and last a week at a time, so your window of opportunity is much larger. It’s also a cheaper flight to Asia than it is to Europe.  The downside is that it’s a little more dangerous and the travel time is quite a bit longer. This kind of figuring out stage of the trip is a big reason people hire travel guides. In the end you may decide to skip the planning and pay a one-time all-inclusive fee for a week-long trip to Tomorrowland (a music festival in Belgium), which does all the transportation and lodging prep for you.

LEGAL, MONETARY, and MEDICAL STEPS

Passport

Once you’ve decided that you’re going overseas, it’s time to get a passport. Once you apply for one, it could take up to a month to receive, so you’ll want apply for it well before your trip begins. These aren’t very expensive, and once you have one, they last for 10 years (5 if you’re under 18) before you have to renew them. You can estimate around $160 for a brand new passport including the cost of your picture.  Getting one is just two steps: sending the application and getting the picture. You can apply for a passport online at pptform.state.gov, or you can also get the physical paperwork from your local post office. For your picture, it’s best to get your picture taken professionally or with someone who knows the precise guidelines and measurements. This can be done in just a few minutes at pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS for around $15.

Reserve Money

As a form of personal insurance, you’ll want to have reserve money. This is money that you don’t plan to spend, but that’s there in case you need it for emergencies like getting robbed or flying home unexpectedly. The amount you’ll want is really determined by you but depending on where you go, it should be at least $1000 to $2000. Keep this money in your bank account or on a credit card, never on you.

Travel Insurance

Another form of insurance money you’ll need is travel insurance. A $100,000 insurance plan will cost you between $120-$200 a month. You’ll want it though. This is for emergencies such as major injuries that would require helicopters and ambulances.  Those aren’t cheap by any means, and the last thing you want to know after a terrifying ordeal involving one is that you’re now in debt to a foreign country. You can apply for these online through travel companies such as World Nomads in just a few minutes and you can pay for it with a credit card.

Bank Cards

Be sure to let your bank know where you’re going. Simply go to your bank, walk up to the teller, and say, “I’m going overseas.” They’ll give you some paper work to fill out. Let them know whatever they ask for. This is so that they don’t get alarmed when they see unusual banking activity and freeze your account. Also, figure out what International banks they are associated with so that you know what ATMs to go to when you’re there. When you get to where you’re going, test out an ATM immediately. Make sure you don’t have any problems getting cash. There will be places to do this at the airport and in heavily populated areas such as train stations, malls, and tourist attractions. If you have a problem getting cash, your first priority should be to fix that problem, or find someone who can spot you some cash until it’s solved. It’s not that you’re going to die without money, it can just be a real hassle trying to do anything without it.

Have both a banking check card (debit card) and a credit card. Cash is necessary but you don’t want to have too much on you, ever. You’ll also want a credit card for bigger purchases and online purchases. Keep your cash for buying meals and taxis and use your credit card for booking hotels or renting cars. Make sure you don’t dip into your reserve fund.

Vaccinations

If you’re going to a really wild place, tell your doctor. They should know of certain health risks that are in the location(s) you’re heading, and they’re going to suggest that you get certain vaccinations. In some countries, it’s a requirement to get them before you arrive. If you’re unsure if your country has required vaccines, check on their government website in the “Travel” or “Immigration” section. Even though it’s rarely a legal requirement, you’ll want to get certain vaccinations in high risk places such as India and Africa where infectious diseases such as Malaria and parasites are common.

Cultural Precautions

For me and probably most of you, robbery and pick-pocketing are fairly common occurrences yet still not embedded in our minds as an everyday worry. Words like “war-zone” and “riot” are almost never thrown in front of us as a realistic thing to avoid. Overseas, these are realistic things you may have to deal with. Although that should be understood, it shouldn’t deter you, because when you’re actually confronted with these things, you’ll find that they really aren’t as frightening as they sound, and that for the most part, they are about as avoidable as staying out of dark alleys and abiding by warning signs. Before you leave for your trip, do some research on the political standings in the countries you’re going.

THE FUN PART

Now that all your planning, legal, monetary, and safety preparations are done, you can move on to the fun parts! You’ve landed, you’re here. What are you going to do?

Lodging

Lodging is one of the easiest things to figure out. Where to go and how much you’ll want to spend is really up to you. It’s not as important to book a room in advance as it is to know the area you’ll want to stay in. Generally, you’ll only want to book a room in advance for the first night you arrive overseas. There’s a tremendous sense of comfort that comes from being able to take a load off and lay down after a long plane ride. After that, you can get a little more creative. Nice hotels are something that can be avoided unless you’re in a hazardous area. Rather than a hotel, look for a hostel. Hostels are generally cheaper because they’re locally owned and operated. Most likely the staff is small; consisting of only a few people or even just one person who deals with everything on their own from management down to housekeeping. They also will offer group or dorm housing if you’re willing to stay with strangers.

Friends

Make friends. Making friends is practically a necessity, and is not only for safety, but for fun as well. One of the best experiences is finding someone (especially a possible romantic interest) who is just like you, alone in the wild. If you can, find a trustworthy local or an experienced traveler (preferably someone who is bi-lingual) who you can collaborate with on your activities.

Food

Prepare to Eat.  Eating large amounts of great food while spending very little money is one of the best parts about world travel. For the most part, almost everywhere you go, everybody will want to feed you. No matter what you do, food is more than likely going to be involved all throughout your day. Skip fancy restaurants and chain restaurants. Ask around for good recommendations, search online for good reviews, and of course, try new things. Find local vendors who you can watch cook your meal.

Party

Prepare to Drink. If you’re going to party, prepare for memory loss. If you’re in a foreign country, write down the name of your hotel on a piece of paper in both English and the foreign language, or make sure to get a business card of the hotel you’re staying at when you check in. Keep this paper or card in your purse or wallet. This is so your taxi driver or local friend doesn’t have a problem finding your hotel. More than likely, especially after a night of drinking, you won’t have any idea where you are or where you’re going.

Activities

Prepare to play. Collect brochures, research online, and find locals who really know and love the area they live in. This is where your adventure becomes a ride. Climb a mountain. Take a wind-surfing lesson. Visit castles. No matter what your reason for traveling is, these activities are the things you’re going to tell people you did. So, make sure to have fun.

In reality though, this isn’t where your memories will stem from. When you finally come home, it’s not going to be about the animals you saw or the waves you hit. You’ll remember the people you met, the strange encounters you had, and the unexpected breakdowns. You’ll remember the foods you tried and things you lost, and you’ll probably forget the souvenirs you bought.

P.S.

If you want some quick inspiration for international travel, there is a novel I’d suggest which is written by the now famous screenwriter Alex Garland titled, The Beach, which is a fictional story inspired by his own traveling experiences.

Understanding Police 10 Codes

For a few jobs in the past I had to use a two-way radio for communication. Signals were often weak so we had to use clear and quick ways of talking to each other. So, we used codes. Specifically 10 Codes (Police Codes). I was never actually trained as to what any of them meant and had to figure them out from context.

The obvious and most used was 10-4 which simply means, OK, or Copy. I used these codes so often that I found myself using them outside of work and in my everyday life. At first it was on accident or as a joke, but eventually I discovered other co-workers doing the same thing. We actually found them quite useful a lot.

So, I decided to look up their official meanings. If you ever find yourself needing to use walky talkies (or speak in code) for communication, it might be useful to know some of the basic ones.

10-4: Copy, Understood, Acknowledge, Affirmative.

10-1: Bad reception, unable to copy, change location.

10-9: Repeat. Unable to copy.

10-20: Location or “What’s your location?”

10-21: Call by phone.

The rest are almost strictly meant for police or emergency situations. It seems that each section of 10 (0-9, 10-19, 20-29, etc.) are in their own category with some overlap between categories (I’m not sure, that’s just what it looks like).

 

Here’s the list.

10-0 Caution
10-1 Unable to copy — change location
10-2 Signal good
10-3 Stop transmitting
10-4 Acknowledgement (OK)10-5 Relay
10-6 Busy — stand by unlessurgent
10-7 Out of service
10-8 In service
10-9 Repeat
10-10 Fight in progress
10-11 Dog case
10-12 Stand by (stop)
10-13 Weather — road report
10-14 Prowler report
10-15 Civil disturbance
10-16 Domestic disturbance
10-17 Meet complainant
10-18 Quickly
10-19 Return to …
10-20 Location
10-21 Call … by telephone
10-22 Disregard
10-23 Arrived at scene
10-24 Assignment completed
10-25 Report in person (meet) …
10-26 Detaining subject, expedite
10-27 Drivers license information
10-28 Vehicle registration information
10-29 Check for wanted
10-30 Unnecessary use of radio
10-31 Crime in progress
10-32 Man with gun
10-33 Emergency
10-34 Riot
10-35 Major crime alert
10-36 Correct time
10-37 (Investigate) suspicious vehicle
10-38 Stopping suspicious vehicle
10-39 Urgent — use light, siren
10-40 Silent run — no light, siren
10-41 Beginning tour of duty
10-42 Ending tour of duty
10-43 Information
10-44 Permission to leave … for …
10-45 Animal carcass at …
10-46 Assist motorist
10-47 Emergency road repairs at …
10-48 Traffic standard repair at …
10-49 Traffic light out at …
10-50 Accident (fatal, personal injury, property damage)
10-51 Wrecker needed
10-52 Ambulance needed
10-53 Road blocked at …
10-54 Livestock on highway
10-55 Suspected DUI
10-56 Intoxicated pedestrian
10-57 Hit and run (fatal, personal injury, property damage)
10-58 Direct traffic
10-59 Convoy or escort
10-60 Squad in vicinity
10-61 Isolate self for message
10-62 Reply to message
10-63 Prepare to make written copy
10-64 Message for local delivery
10-65 Net message assignment
10-66 Message cancellation
10-67 Clear for net message
10-68 Dispatch information
10-69 Message received
10-70 Fire
10-71 Advise nature of fire
10-72 Report progress on fire
10-73 Smoke report
10-74 Negative
10-75 In contact with …
10-76 En route …
10-77 ETA (estimated time of arrival)
10-78 Need assistance
10-79 Notify coroner
10-80 Chase in progress
10-81 Breathalyzer
10-82 Reserve lodging
10-83 Work school xing at …
10-84 If meeting … advise ETA
10-85 Delayed due to …
10-86 Officer/operator on duty
10-87 Pick up/distribute checks
10-88 Present telephone number of …
10-89 Bomb threat
10-90 Bank alarm at …
10-91 Pick up prisoner/subject
10-92 Improperly parked vehicle
10-93 Blockade
10-94 Drag racing
10-95 Prisoner/subject in custody
10-96 Mental subject
10-97 Check (test) signal
10-98 Prison/jail break
10-99 Wanted/stolen indicated

How to Teach English (ESL) Online With or Without a College Degree

A few years ago, I was waiting for a public bus that was late and the girl sitting next to me started FREAKING OUT because she didn’t have her laptop with her. She kept telling the other bus people that she couldn’t be late for class because she could lose the client. “Is she a teacher or a student, and who refers to either one as clients?” I thought. Nobody seemed to care or pay attention except me. I wanted to figure out what she was talking about.

I asked some questions but she got defensive (I’m pretty sure I came off as creepy rather than concerned or intrigued). All she told me was that she was a teacher online, her students lived in different countries, and it was super important that she wasn’t late for class.

Once the bus arrived I left her alone and never saw her again, but, after that incident I was determined to figure out how she was doing it. Although I never figured out exactly how she did it, I’ve discovered a method that matched her situation.

Cafétalk.com

Cafétalk is an internet service that allows anyone to teach private lessons through skype. It’s not as simple as creating a profile and clicking a button, but, it’s not too hard to get started either. You have to talk to an administrator and go through an interview so they can determine what you’d teach and whether you’d make a good tutor or not. Most of the lessons on Cafétalk are language (mainly English), and most of the students are Japanese, but depending on your teaching niche, you can find the right students for you. The students on the site range all ages from different countries who want to learn anything from playing guitar to origami.

Once you’ve created a profile (account), you have to be a unique and reliable teacher in order to gain the attention of students. There are plenty of students on the site but there’s also a ton of extremely qualified teachers too. If you’re a beginner with very little teaching or tutoring experience, it’ll be hard to get going. You’ll have to market yourself, have interesting lessons, and of course, BE THERE ON TIME.

You don’t even need a desktop; you can do it all through a smart phone. The pay is determined by you. After a few hours of set-up and research, you could be teaching at $20+/hour immediately upon finishing your scheduled interview with an administrator. The real work comes from creating your lessons and getting your students to enjoy your lessons so they’ll come back on a regular basis. If you do this, there’s no reason you can’t make a decent income with only a few lessons a day. That being said, don’t do it for the money, you have to love your lessons. If you don’t love to teach, then I suggest going somewhere else.