Monthly Archives: February 2013

MUSIC: Imagine Dragons at Toronto’s Sound Academy

sa_splash-logo

As an indie rock band out of Las Vegas, Nevada, one may not have expected Imagine Dragons to do what they’ve done – headline a relatively successful North American tour, gain a solid footing in domestic radio, and dominate the charts so early in their careers; their debut album Night Visions had the best first week by a rock band since 2006 with over 80 thousand units sold.

Appearing at Toronto’s Sound Academy last night, the band put on one hell of a show, providing somewhat abstract, though themed musical interlude between each song to lead into the next.  Lead singer Dan Reynolds even seemed to drop vebal hints to the audience between songs as to which might come next, and did his best to develop a special relationship with the crowd.  “We’re only back here because of you,” he said, going on to express his and the band’s gratitude for the audience members’ contributions to the band’s gaining popularity through the sharing of their music with friends, family, and social media sites.

The Sound Academy was, admittedly, not the greatest place to see a band play and, after having checked some reviews of the venue online, I was beginning to dread going entirely; 1-star reviews dominated a good portion of websites, citing poor viewing angles, horrible sound quality, and a ridiculous floor plan.  As we arrived, pulling up to the former nightclub to see a legitimately massive line out front waiting to get through security, we realized the road was a one-way-in-one-way-out kind of deal and so pulled a U-turn, went back up the street, and parked in an Asian grocery store’s parking lot less than a block away to avoid the $20 parking fee at the lot directly across from the venue.  Nicely done!

Once inside I was more impressed with the venue that I thought I’d be and, while there were some negative aspects, the night was a general success.  It seems, as a side note, that the tallest people in the known world (with afros, sometimes) attend events at which a person’s height is a general guarantee or damnation of viewing angle and thus enjoyment – this is the bane of ‘general admission,’ though, I suppose.  The sound quality turned out to be just fine, and while a simple bottle of water cost $5.25, the overall facilities were enough to impress me; that said, I can’t wait for the band to continue their meteoric rise in popularity and eventually land in a venue with tiered seating of some kind so that actually seeing the show isn’t the biggest issue of the night.

Some of the highlights?  Check out these clips (and I apologize in advance for the quality):

url

Click above to redirect to Imagine Dragons’ website.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luxor Balloon Crash Kills 19

In what’s being called the worst accident in the history of hot air ballooning, 19 people were killed near Luxor, Egypt when one of the balloon’s landing cables caught around a helium tube, causing a fire to break out. The balloon was at nearly 1000ft when the tank erupted and was in the process of landing around 7am.

Shortly after the accident, and because of the strength of the flames, one or more occupants of the balloon jumped for their lives – this created an imbalance in the balloon, causing it to shoot skyward as it held less weight. Below is footage taken, from the no doubt terrified occupant of another balloon.

Among the only two survivors of the crash are the balloon’s pilot and a British tourist. The pilot somehow jumped fom the balloon at between 10 and 15 meters from the ground amidst the balloon’s rapid and fiery descent into a sugar cane patch.

The nation, still devastated from impacts on tourism by their recent revolution, has grounded any hot air balloon trips for the time being. Still, dozens of other people mourn for the loss of their loved ones in what was likely an avoidable tragedy.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Second Funniest Thing You’ll See All Day

This needs no real intro, outro or mid-tro.  Just watch it.  Leave it to the internet to take something hilarious and, well, use it to make something else hilarious.  Also, I’m not a Taylor Swift junkie or anything like that… just a goat junkie.

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Internet: You’re Doing it Wrong

There are people out there, believe it or not, that just don’t know what the hell to do with the internet.  The average person spends several hours a day connected, and yet if asked what they did the entire time they were online most people, I think, wouldn’t even know what to say.  Everyone gets basic features like search engines, Google maps, or even Google Earth, but when it really comes to actually using the Internet to find content that we will like and appreciate I think the vast majority of people are still doing it completely wrong.  This, my friends, is your salvation: a quick guide to some of the best websites out there for using the internet as it’s meant to be used: wasting time productively and hilariously.  Don’t question my logic.

 a8cd030ee537f2337c0e2d4e5b6e076c StumbleUpon – Ever heard the phrase “surfing the internet?”  Most people take it to mean making random searches or following links on the few websites that we frequent, then stumbling into other websites that may or may not captivate us.  Unlike “channel surfing,” which is well defined by a pre-established bracket of channels (ie. 1-99, or 1-999 or what-have-you, depending on your cable provider) surfing the internet is a practice that is too often unsuccessful because of the sheer amount of content that awaits us.  Let’s face it too, a lot of the stuff that’s out there is total crap and, unfortunately, could even be a ghost from Internet’s past – that is, one of the thousands of Geocities sites that plagued our online existence for years when the internet first went mainstream.

Enter StumbleUpon – a website designed specifically for ‘surfing the internet.’  You create a profile and tick a bunch of boxes that relate to things you’re interested in.  For instance, I ticked off photography, film, entertainment, video games, etc. because these are the things that interest me most.  Once you’ve taken 2 or 3 minutes to create an online profile with the website, all you need do is “Stumble!”  Clicking the STUMBLE! button, then, uses your interests as a guide and instantly directs you to a semi-popular website pertaining to these interests.  After a cursory view of the site you can either “Like” the page to save it in your StumbleUpon history, dislike it to better teach SU your interests, or simply click Stumble! again to get your next taste.  Even better than this is the fact that the sites approved to appear on StumbleUpon are ones that are recommended and liked by the sites own users so you’re almost guaranteed to be spared anything horrible.  Amazing!

If you’ve never used StumbleUpon it is an absolute must for internet users, and I would encourage you to get on it straight away.  DO IT!

urlPinterest – Pinterest is gaining steam/popularity for all the right reasons: it is completely dependent on your own expectations and usage of the website, and can be tailored to each individual person.  Pinterest is a website for creating ‘pinboards’ online.  Simple, right?  Once you join Pinterest your first task is to set up your very own virtual pinboards – as an example, most people create a board to horde everything they find online that they think is hilarious.  Once you’ve created your board you can either browse Pinterest by category (humour, etc.) to view things that other people have pinned to the website, or you can use the “Pin it!” button that can be installed in any web browser to pin any image, video, or website to your online boards.  While this might all sound overly simple or a waste of time, consider this: have you ever found something on the internet that you liked?  Of course.  Have you ever went to look for it again, perhaps months or a year later and not been able to find it?  What about wanting to share things you find online with friends?  And what if you make your own content and want to see if it will take off?  Pinterest.  Pin it!

At the very least give it a try – there is literally something for every single person out there on this website… and if the off chance that there isn’t and you’re just that original, you can Pin It yourself and share it with the world.  Conversely, you also have the ability to make “private boards” for anything you want to keep a secret (wedding plans, baby stuff, disgusting fetishes etc.).

url-1 Reddit – Amounting to basically a bulletin board system, Reddit users post anything and everything, from pictures to video, opinions, news, and even music.  The posts are then voted on by users and the site’s main page is populate by the most popular, viewed and liked.  In addition to this, users can sort posts by hot, new, controversial, rising as well as the top posts of all time.  Suddenly internet pop culture is making a little more sense, right?

url Cracked Touted to be America’s Only Humor Site, Cracked.com is a collection of writings from highly skilled comedy and satire writers.  The articles, typically, take the form of lists and are about as funny as anything else you’ll find on the internet.  While the sort of humour is a little vulgar, to those who don’t take exception to the occasional F-bomb, Cracked’s articles are well worth your time.  From The 7 Most Ridiculous Rough Drafts of Famous Brand Logos to its mind-blowing Images You Won’t Believe Aren’t Photoshopped pieces, Cracked should be a staple in any and every internet user’s repertoire if not, simply, your browser’s homepage.  Get on it, thank me later.

Now, while I do realize the popularity of these websites, this post is written purely for those people who are not already in-the-know.  These four websites I consider essential to the internet experience, and I want to share them with you and those less fortunate… because staring at a screen without great content, online or not, is something that no one should have to suffer through.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Google: A Window into Human Ineptitude

Google is a stranger to no one these days.  It’s included in most of if not all of our cell phones’ basic search features, and many people have it set to their homepage – a place from which to start surfing the internet; but what Google has learned from us, through this close relationship, is probably in the vicinity of ‘too much.’

Every time we type into the Google Searchbar at the top corner of our internet browsers, or from Google’s main page, we are treated to suggested searches – a drop down list of searches that the rest of the world are making more frequently than anything else and, thusly, searches that we may, in fact, as well be interested in making.  The searches that the rest of the people in this world are making, however, offer a dismal insight into human thought process and, unfortunately, just what lame, creepy, and downright stupid questions we want answered.

I took the time to fuze together various word combinations in order to see what Google (and the rest of the world) would suggest that I search for…. and below are some of the best (ed. note: worst) search suggestions in the history of the interwebs.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 9.59.25 AM

So, this isn’t awkward.  Men (or women, maybe?) want to know why all those damned women as such cowards, primarily.  After this major concern, however, our collective’s next biggest concern? Why don’t our stomachs digest themselves.  This is the type of calibre person you share the internet with; and they wonder why they can’t get a girlfriend.  My God.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.00.36 AM

Why in the hell did a huge chunk of the world get married?  Why are the Kardashians famous?  Why the hell is this happening to me?  Maybe the answer is right there – Why the hell not?

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 12.06.04 AM

Topping Jesus searches were concerns over just what he looked like, assertions that he didn’t exist at all as well as the probability rates that he might of and, finally, the very plain statement (thus not a question at all) Jesus probably rode dinosaurs.  Well done, people.  Bang-up job.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.02.23 AM

I’m not a doctor or anything, but after first being concerned about our attraction to fat women, our cousins and our mothers, wondering why we’re just so damned attracted to narcissists strikes me as a little ‘you-might-have-bigger-problems.’ No?

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.04.26 AM

Why does…” yielded fairly generic responses – the world is mostly wondering why their lives suck so much, then go on to contemplate just why Bane wears that goddamn mask?!

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 12.01.27 AM

In both ‘zip a zip file’ and ‘divide zero by zero’ queries I think the answer should be fairly obvious: the complete and total annihilation of the world.  As for eating zombie flesh, who knows – but there is no way you would become a zombie yourself right?……. RIGHT?

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 12.02.25 AM

Microsoft, you’ve done it again!  No one knows how the hell to use Windows 8.  Also, people want to know how it’s possible to wake up dead or get a job, which seem like fairly contradictory searches, and just how the hell to eat a pomegranate.  The fact that people have figured out how to spell pomegranate correctly, yet don’t know how to eat one amazes me.  We have warnings on merchandise with small parts to not put these pieces in your mouth, so maybe we’ve been further conditioned to not put food in our mouths as well.  Ugh.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.07.56 AM

The world apparently a) can’t do its own makeup, b) can’t find the right way to ask a girl out and c) has a major problem with hypothermia.  See?  I knew all this global warming crap was total nonsense.  Oh and by the way, Google – how in God’s name do I approach a horse?  I just can’t figure it out for the life of me.

Google says: Not like a pig.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday’s Tweet Trends 2/22/12

As a weekly feature, should it prove interesting enough, I’ll be analyzing Twitter’s Friday trends as after a busy week people, generally, like to take to the internet to bitch, moan, or commentate on world goings-on.  Thusly, Friday Tweet Trends is born and the world (at least as far as social networking is concerned) is put under a microscope.  Here are your tweet trends for Friday, February 22nd:

#hall  –  not sure what exactly brings the fairly pedestrian word “hall” into our hashtag super-search, but here it is.  A cursory view of the trending tweets also elicits no real reason for it trending this week, however, the best tweet amongst the lot?  That’s easy:

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 10.48.19 AM

Because anything LESS than an ‘XL Fart Bomb’ would be probably smell delicious.

#TheMostAnnoyingThingsInLife – Twitter has given people the habit of finding collective ways to bitch and moan about things in group-list fashion.  Today, our most annoying things in life is the most popular group-bitch of choice.  Rounding out the best of the tweets?  Restaurant, Wendy’s official twitter account with this beauty:

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 10.53.12 AM

1. Aren’t you on a diet?      2. LAY OFF ME I’M STARVING!!

#DontBotherMeWhenIm – Our second group therapy session focusses on how precious how personal bubble and alone time is.  Responses ranged, mostly, from terribly lame stuff like “texting my boyfriend/girlfriend” or “angry, because I will actually, seriously, cut or punch you.”  The categories best response, however, is a little more… graphic.

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 11.03.17 AM

#ThingsIHateAboutSchool – Because, apparently, the only people that really use Twitter are high school teenyboppers (who are obviously filled with angst), our next category focusses on school and, well, why they hate it so, so much.  Our winner comes courtesy of comedian Adam Sandler, who probably noticed a lot of this during his forced return to school in Billy Madison.

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 11.13.14 AM

“I think it’s popcorn, but it might be apple skin.”

#NationalMargaritaDay – Last, but certainly not least is a bit of helpful information for you:  not ONLY is today Friday, coincidentally enough it is also National Margarita Day!  Who knew?!  Resident Twitter-Betty-White-Impersonator “BettyFckinWhite” had this to say:

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 11.21.29 AM

No caption needed.

Perhaps it’s best we leave it right there… yowza!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Turkey Opposes Wasting Energy, Knits World’s Largest Sweater

Check out and “Like” our Facebook page at: The Incepted Perspective

A municipality in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday unveiled what they and the Guinness World Book of Records are calling the “world’s largest sweater.”  The garment was made in an attempt to draw attention to what Turkey sees to be a major problem: the wasting of energy in many modern communities.  One business leader pointed to Canada as inspiration as we (apparently?) celebrate “National Sweater Day” on February 9th of each year, turning down our heaters in favour of a more traditional approach to staying warm: simply wearing more clothes.

Measuring 46 x 16 metres, the sweater took 90 people roughly 30 days to complete (which isn’t a waste of energy at all) and is made of over 500kg of threading, according to mayor Atilla Aydiner.  It was later hung in front of the municipal building as a warning to all other sweaters out there that may have considered fleeing the country.

n_41498_4

Now, if they’d only make one in X X X X X X X X X X X L!

Officials were asked about future plans for the sweater, including whether or not they would be knitting the world’s largest ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ in time for the holiday season, but did not reply before the time of publication.

Tagged , , , , , ,

FUTURETECH: Cinema That Adapts to its Audience

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 7.23.02 PM

In news that is damn near straight out of science fiction, writer/director/composer Alexis Kirke is producing a film called Many Worlds that interprets biosensor data collected from the film’s active audience and then changes on-the-fly to reflect their state.  The film, inspired by Schrodinger’s “quantum suicide” experiment, follows friends Charlie and Olivia on a visit to their friend Connie’s house for her 19th birthday – and this is where things get strange.

Upon arrival at the house the two find, instead of Connie, a sealed, coffin-like box in her bedroom;  the box, in turn, is inferred to contain Connie herself along with a Geiger counter (used to measure radioactivity) which is ultimately connected to a cyanide gas emitter.  What is unknown, however, is whether or not the burst has already occurred, and thus whether Connie, should she actually be sealed inside, is now in full blown corpse-mode, or remains alive.

The story’s outcome, though, is determined subconsciously by a number of audience members whose biometric data (such as heart rate, muscle tension etc.) is being measured and fed in real time to a computer which then changes the progression of the film as if it were a steaming locomotive switching tracks.  The end result is a 15-minute film that can end one of four ways, and that has several branching points leading up to the denouement.  How well it actually comes together remains to be seen, but the thought process and tech behind this is rather astounding, even if the general concept is not a new one.  Kirke himself notes that the hardest part of the process was coming up “with four different endings that wouldn’t embarrass (him).”

Check out the video link below for a more detailed explanation of the whole concept!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Bring Your Gun: 15% off. Use it: Free!

Amidst all the drama, tension, terror and sadness that happens every day due to guns and related violence, particularly in the United States of America, there is one more story making headlines in the last couple days that I think important to draw attention to.

In Virginia Beach, VA, a restaurant owner named Jay Laze has taken it upon himself to employ a 15 % discount for anyone that comes into his All Around Pizzas and Deli and shows off their firearm.  This discount also, strangely enough, applies to anyone who simply brings in their concealed weapons permit as opposed to the actual weapon itself.

While this promotion was started roughly a week ago (February 11/12 or thereabouts), and was intended to run for a limited time, Laze says that the response to it has been so overwhelming that he is considering keeping it active; an estimated 80% of restaurant patrons participated in the promotion, with one visitor going so far as to bring in an AK-47.

url

I said DOUBLE cheese!

While this is, certainly, a major component of what many American’s perceive to be one of their basic rights, it terrifies me to speculate just how long these farces can carry on before someone is seriously hurt… by which I mean, “how long will this carry on until people are killed so frequently that the government is forced into action?”

While many people retort with “this must be the safest place on Earth to eat – everyone is capable of protecting themselves,” I don’t believe we should live in a society where ‘who draws first’ is a fear that we must live with every day, and in every corner of society.

Just let me eat my pizza in piece (sic).

Tagged , , , , , , ,

5 Tips for a Jaunt Around the World

As a student, in 2010, I was lucky enough to be have the opportunity to study abroad – specifically, I did a Master’s degree in Australia for roughly 11 months before coming home to complete the last third of the degree on Canadian soil.  In this time I had the good fortune (and sense) to make the most of my time overseas by doing as much traveling and sight-seeing as I could so that, in the event that I never get back to that side of the world, I will have seen as much as possible.

Leaving Australia in late 2010 (November 23rd, to be exact), I had a gameplan for my next two and a half months of travel, but how did it all come to fruition, and what are the biggest tips that I can pass along to any would-be circumnavigators of the globe?  Below are the five biggest reasons my trip was a success – from the planning stage, to execution, to arriving home safely.

1. Develop a plan with a skeleton.

Two months before I left Australia I had the ambitious notion of an “around-the-world” trip.  After bandying this idea around with friends and testing their interest in being a travel companion, I began to realize that a) my idea was a popular one, but b) it was a “great idea” for me to do, but not something the average friend would be interested in signing up for.  It felt good to share this plan with them, and positive feedback was a boon to my spirits and ego, however, it lulled me into putting off actually booking that first flight for some time because I had already received some pre-trip praise and experienced the brief thrill of the thought of traversing the globe on my own.  Once I realized the erroneous nature of these feelings I snapped out of it and gone down to business.

I started looking into websites with Around-the-World tickets and found, very quickly, that not only were my destinations quite limited with this option, but the price for so few stops was also quite egregious.  Instead, I opted (over the course of two back-to-back days) to decide on the basic route that I would take home to Canada, and then book all the flights individually.  This meant, in some cases, that I was booking into a country in one location, then out of the same country in another (eg. in to New Zealand’s Christchurch on the South Island, and out of the North Island’s Auckland).  Figuring out the middle bit was the true adventure anyway, and the bigger details (rental cars, specifically) I worked out before my flight into the country, as a general rule.

From here I went on to book 20 flights over 16 countries, and then let the possibilities stir in my mind.  I knew only the general route I’d be taking and, most importantly, when I needed to be in certain places for departure and, ultimately, how much time that gave me to experience whichever country was at hand.

The route, for those interested, was as follows:

Gold Coast, Australia –> Christchurch, NZ  (rental car to Auckland, NZ, with a ferry trip in the middle), Auckland –> Cairns, Australia –> Bali –> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia –> Phuket, Thailand –> Chiang Mai, Thailand –> Bangkok, Thailand –> Cairo, Egypt –> Athens, Greece –> Rome, Italy (trains, busses, etc. to Florence, then Venice), Venice, Italy –> London, England –> Amsterdam, Netherlands –> Berlin, Germany –> Brussels, Belgium –> Madrid, Spain –> Marrakech, Morocco –> Paris, France –> Nice, France (bus to Monaco and back) –> London, England –> Toronto, Canada.

It was a whirlwind journey for sure, and I was criticized at times for the speedy nature of the trip (66 days), however, while I didn’t learn everything there is to know about each of my destinations, I got a taste for each place – and that’s all I was after in some cases.  Developing this basic skeleton gave me the knowledge ahead of time that would help me plan all the finer, in-between details, like what to see first and, moreover, what things I refused to leave the country before seeing.  This, then, gave me general structure to follow once I landed in each airport – that is to say, I’d hit the ground running.

2. Ask Questions, Ask for Recommendations, Ask for Advice

One of the greatest assets you have, as a traveller, is also the single most abundant resource on your travels – the people indigenous to each country you visit.  Nine times out of ten they will have useful information to share with you, and I am literally unable to count the number of times I was pointed in the direction of something totally awesome by someone just because I had the courage to ask, simply “if there are any stops nearby that I should make,” even of people whose jobs were totally unrelated to tourism. When in a country that doesn’t use English as a first language, this can be slightly more difficult, however, there is a Plan B: your fellow travellers.

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 2.45.44 PM

No big deal, right?

Showing up to a hostel after self-navigating an entire metropolis on foot or via confusing bus/tram routes (I’m looking at you, Hiroshima), only to find your 12-bed sleeping quarters populated solely with the bags of fellow adventurers can feel a tinge lonely and leave you scratching your head.  It’s tempting to sit, relax, and try and catch your bearings in this new and strange environment, but the first thing you should do is grab a book or your travel journal, and find the lounge / eating area in the hostel.  Anyone that is currently recouping from a long day of sight-seeing or just planning their evening is typically hanging out here and, perhaps not surprisingly, most speak some semblance of English.  Finding out what they’ve done so far with their time in the area can be invaluable, and they may even alert you to tourist-traps to watch out for.  If they aren’t able to contribute any of that, they may, like you, have only recently arrived and might (fingers crossed) be up for a mutual adventure in the near future.  “Fast friends” must, truly, be a term created by travellers because it has no truer basis.

Ultimately, every connection you make – whether it’s with locals or backpackers alike – means a higher chance of enjoying your trip to the fullest.  While one tip might lead you to the most extraordinary view, another might point you to the best, cheapest food in town, and yet another to a worthwhile excursion.  These, as every traveller knows, are the essential building blocks to one massively successful adventure.

3. Invest Appropriately 

While this may come as common sense, as a traveller you must understand which areas you’re willing to sacrifice, and which must be up to a certain standard.  I think, importantly, a safe “home base” to arrive at each day or night or sight-seeing is as important to me as most people, however, what different aspects constitute the definition of “safe,” and what else should we be looking for in this particular area?

While I didn’t particularly mind coming “home” to a room full of 12 or 15 strangers, snoring and talking in their sleep at different volumes, everyone has a different standard of privacy they are willing to accept.  What I think, however, is a mostly static desire of most travellers, is the desire to feel safe in this environment, not only in the physical sense, but in the monetary sense as well.  Travellers (and outright tourists especially) are some of the easiest targets for expert thieves, and you would be smart to be wary of some of your fellow travellers, and of hostel staff, on top of the general populous.  For this reason, finding accommodation with lockers or some other means of storing your valuables is downright essential in my opinion.  Being able to leave some of your most precious valuables (ie. passport, spare cash, etc.) in a “safe zone” while you’re out exploring is one of the ultimate traveller’s luxuries as it frees up the entirety of your mind for enjoying the day at hand and the sights in front of you.

Similarly, consider your tolerance for food and travel in your budget and spend accordingly in these areas too.  While I was almost always fine to grab a “take out” rice and sushi meal from one of Japan’s many 7/11’s, it may not be for everyone, and finding a cheap restaurant may be the best alternative.

In any case, figure out what is most important to you in terms of comfort, and invest accordingly.  This can be assisted by virtual trips to websites such as Hostel World.com.  I, for one, set my personal hostelworld “comfort zone” at an 80% overall user rating or higher – and that worked out just fine for me.

Furthermore, one of the greatest pieces of information that I can share is the affordability of flights around Europe.  My eight flights in Europe / Morocco between leaving and arriving back in the UK were a combined $280 CDN dollars; this, importantly, is because I travelled with only a carry-on bag and flew with carriers RyanAir and EasyJet.  Flights with these guys can start at less than 10 Euros (yes, I said 10), and while not the most comfortable experience you’ll ever have in your life, you’re riding a goddamn plane for the monetary equivalent of a couple of pints of beer.  Be advised, however, that this carry-on-only policy restricts any excess beyond your one bag: no purses, camera or laptop bags etc. – I was even made to remove my Canon T2i from hanging around my neck and cram it into my already overpacked bag just to avoid a 30 Euro surcharge!

4. Common Sense and Intuition are Your Best Friends (That Don’t Visit Often Enough)

Too often do people get themselves into terrible situations because they are too trusting, naive, or just generally lacking so-called ‘common’ sense.  We are all guilty of getting ourselves into a situation that could have gone south at any moment, then somehow escaped unscathed, but in getting into these situations we all do a form of risk-assessment that is important to making the decision to go through with something or not.

When I landed in Marrakech, Morocco, my biggest concern was finding the riad I would be staying in before the sun went down.  The streets, even in daylight, were chaotic, heavily populated, and confusing at best, and finding the one obscure doorway I needed to find in a maze of beige/brown corridors would become a near insurmountable task as twilight fell upon the city.  Once we made it to the central market we became targets for any locals looking to make a few extra bucks by guiding us to the riad – we were, for all intents and purposes, completely lost and our only option, it seemed, was to trust a complete stranger to guide us deeper and deeper into dark, twisting alleyways on our search.  When our impromptu guide got us lost and phoned his friend to help us out, thereby putting us in a two v. two situation should anything bad happen (not to mention the prospect of the two men leading us into any sort of ambush which could have lay around any of the corridor’s numerous blind turns), a feeling of unease washed over me.  We were, after all, two white dudes that were (very obviously) carrying a lot of stuff – most of which could likely be inferred to have some significant value.  We followed the men, though at a distance of three to four paces so we might have the time to react to any potential attacks, and eventually found the riad.  Luckily, our fears weren’t realized and, ultimately, seemed a bit silly in retrospect – however, people are robbed or hurt and perhaps killed in situations like this every day, and while we were lucky in how our situation turned out, not everyone may be.

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 2.37.43 PM

Hey mister, can I pet your dog?

The bottom line?  Use your head.  If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance that it isn’t, or at the very least that it could be.  If you’ve already committed to something, however, take any precautions to can to minimize your risk from that point onward; it could just save your life (or your wallet).  We avoided any kind of harm or personal loss in this story, but there were other times where I was literally scammed out of hundreds of dollars, almost had my wallet stolen from right in front of me, and was tricked into paying far more than appropriately value for something, so always be on guard!

5. You Hesitate, You Die!

One of the philosophies that I developed while traveling through Europe was the notion of “you hesitate, you die!”  This mantra had applications that ranged from something as simple to crossing the street, to more significant actions like deciding on excursions (eg. overnight camel-treks into the Sahara dessert, or using a 10 hour layover in Cairo to get to the Pyramids and Sphinx).  While this does seem to potentially contradict the previous tip, hesitation should actually be considered your number one enemy as it is the biggest reason for not doing things, meeting people, or going places.

People hesitate for any number of reasons, but when traveling it is vital to seize the time that we have, wherever we may be, and to use it create the memories of our trip that will last us a lifetime.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,