29 June 2012

How do I use you, internets?

You know, I haven't the slightest idea how to work the internet.
I try: I literally sit around reading blogs about running blogs, I really did do several google and bing searches on the merits of each, and I ask around, god help me, about what the fuck coding and HTML and CSS are. But for the love of shit, man, there are just some things that I cant figure out.

  • Traffic. This is apparently vital. I will die, and my blog will die, without traffic.
  • Coding. What do I have to code? How do I do that? WHY?
  • Ads control the internet, and therefore the free world.
  • Loyal followers. Who are they? How do I find them? 
  • Seriously. Loyal readers. Followers. Where are yall?
  • I'd like several million dollars for typing this, please.
  • Search engine optimization. That really is a thing.

Life is confusing. But I shouldn't complain, for this has been a learning process.
In the few days that I've been a professional blogger and have been fighting to gain control of the internet, I've picked up on a few things (mostly from my idiot friends):
  • Getting people to comment is something that will happen over time, perhaps.
  • I will literally spend the rest of my life being a few steps behind on technology lingo.
  • Blogs take, like, 10 or 20 years to even WORK. And even then, probably not.
  • Bookclubs don't work if the other person doesn't want to have a Jewish Lit Month (ahem, Benito)
  • Wordpress? THAT'S HILARIOUS. Pfffffffffffffft. Wordpress. Ha.
  • Comment on other blogs to get them to comment on your's
  • Traffic is vital: how to actually get traffic, however, is a mystery
  • I really want to watch that Traffic movie, with Benicio Del Toro
  • It is absolutely unheard of for anyone to use digg, ever.
  • No one I know knows anything.
  • I remind Benito of Nora Ephron
  • Everyone I know sucks. (AHEM, BENITO)
  • All of my friends are dumb.
  • Uphill battles. All the way.
Maybe things aren't so bleak. I am learning stuff, after all. Shit, I'm even watching a documentary about Caravaggio right now, as we metaphorically speak. And while I'm not taking in a whole lot about the guy's actual life, I do now know how his name is actually pronounced. Maybe.

     Napoli, Italy (where Caravaggio lived and we were both imprisoned), November 2009

So, I propel myself forward with the knowledge that this blog probably won't get any worse, it may get better, and it probably will fulfill my insane and massive need to rant and rave about things my boyfriend really will dump me because of, if he has to listen to it anymore.

So, what, do any of you actually get the internet? Please explain how the cats have come to rule what was once ours, by commenting below.

26 June 2012

open jaw vs round trip

When I'm preparing for a trip and I start to get all panicky and crazy and no one in my life wants to hear my insane problems anymore--"the night bus from Sevilla to Lisbon arrives at 4 am but buses out of the station don't start until 6!!"--I usually turn to forums for advice. My two favorites so far are Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum and Trip Advisor.
Now with the risk of offending any of the 3 people who've found my site via Lonely Planet, I find that Thorn Tree people tend to be a little meaner. I get the impression that there are a few core people who are on there frequently, giving advice to the masses....so I guess it's pretty understandable to be frustrated when some 18 year old gets a wild travel hair up his ass and starts a new thread saying "Hi, I'm going to Europe! Where should I go? What should I do? Where should I stay?" Because the advice normally goes along the lines of, "hey well go fuck yourself. With a guide book." 
On the other hand, those dudes offer some pretty amazing advice....it's like a mixture between having a practical, knowledgeable travel agent, and a local with an insider's perspective, to ask personalized questions to. And since I guess travel agents no longer exist, except in Mexican shopping centers, Thorn Tree kicks ass.
Just make sure your questions aren't really fucking stupid. 
With all that being said, I asked them a pretty stupid question recently, and got a great response-that made me feel really stupid. Basically I posted about both the hypothetical itineraries mentioned here, and the good people of LPTT replied "well, that's too much, but if you fly open jaw, you don't have to double back." To which I said "alright but isn't that, like, crazy expensive?" and they were all, "nah, it's like, half the price of both of the round trips for your dates," and I was like "sweet man."
I'm partly really glad that this was mentioned to me, and that I now know that I don't have to pay for the convenience. On the other hand...I am, like, really good at planning routes that loop around deliberately for single city round trips. I mean, look at a map of Central Europe. Look how pretty of a loop it is from Munich-Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest-Krakow-Warsaw-Wroclaw-Prague-Munich. See how annoyingly far away Prague is if I just went East, then North, from Munich to Warsaw? This is what keeps me up at night.
Now, I know guys, I am really jumping the gun, it's silly to worry this much about a route when it's a year away. But I LIKE it, okay?! I have a serious fetish for staring at maps and imagining the best and most convenient route between the places I want to go. I get off on it. So leave me alone. 
But I've actually been reading a lot about the history of my upcoming Central European countries. About how Austria is all "Bonjour France, we're best friends! Oh nevermind. Oh wait. Oh nevermind." And France is all, "Get your life together you putain." About how Hungary is all "fuck this, this sucks, fucking Trianon."
No, seriously. That's what wikipedia told me. If you don't believe me, ask my friend Benito, who discussed the Austro-Hungarian Empire at length with me after laying by the pool drinking beer all day.

Then this happened:

Did you know that if you are reading this, you are part of only .00000003% of internet users? I think that this makes you the rarest creature in the world. Take that, fucking Yangtze River Dolphin.
Endangered readers, please share your delight at being better than tarsiers below by commenting that there are some of you still left in the wild. I know you're out there somewhere. 

21 June 2012

Skinny Dipping As An Important Life Goal

Basically, my purpose in life, and items 3-21 in the Water section of my Lord of The Rings-sized bucket list, involves being naked in public. Skinny dipping is one of my favorite things, and I aim to do it in every major body of water on the planet.

The List:
Pacific Ocean-CHECK!
Atlantic Ocean-CHECK!
Indian Ocean
Southern Ocean
Arctic Ocean (this one probably isn't happening)
Mediterranean Sea
Caribbean Sea-CHECK!
South China Sea
Bering Sea
Gulf of Mexico
Okhotsk Sea
East China Sea
Hudson Bay
Japan Sea
Andaman Sea
North Sea
Red Sea
Baltic Sea

Obviously, one of my biggest regrets is that I did not realize the gravity of being naked inside of bodies of water until after backpacking along the Mediterranean.
In fact, Skinny Dipping as a Goal only became a crucial part of my life on April 20th of this year. For those of you who don't know, 4/20 happens to be an important national holiday among productive members of society, in which groups of like-minded people get together and hatch brilliant ideas on how to better humanity. It's fucking momentous.
Anyway, for me, 4/20/12 happened in Dominical, Costa Rica. (Anyone reading this who's thinking of visiting Costa Rica: FUCKING GO TO DOMINICAL RIGHT NOW. It's the most amazing place, I want to live there for forever, I love it.) After a skype date with Jonathan, I headed over to Tortilla Flats, which seemed to be the pregaming bar while I was in town. On the way there I overheard some people speaking English, so naturally we all ended up getting completely hammered, searching for mushrooms, and skinny dipping in the Pacific. My sun damaged and beer drenched brain was able to make the connection that I had already done the Caribbean, a week or two prior, and so.....skinny dip every ocean and sea in the world became an important life goal for this go-getter.

                                                     The Pacific at night, 4/20/12

Now as you can see from the list above, I still have quite a lot of stripping and swimming to do. Luckily, on my next trip, along with such Bucket List staples as Visiting a Cafe in Amsterdam, Seeing Auschwitz, and Bathing in the Budapest Bathhouses, I will be able to check off not one, but two skinny dip related goals-the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea.

Hey! If you happen to be one of the 7 people who read this (one day I'll reach double digits), comment below telling me what you think about skinny dipping. Or bucket lists. Or pizza toppings. 

bucket lists

When I was little, I was super weird. I loved to make lists. I made lists of books I had read, books I needed to read, pet I've owned (I went through a lot of hamsters), people I knew, all sorts of OCD shit.
As a quasi-adult, and still super weird, I love bucket lists. Almost as much as I love itineraries. A few years ago I found an old notebook and set about writing a bucket list, to be checked off periodically as I fulfill my dreams. Because, I don't know, I guess I expected to skydive or climb Mt Everest each weekend. It ended up reaching, like, biblical proportions, filling half the notebook, categorized into continents and activity types.
While I actually got to check some of them off in Central America, like learning to surf and going snorkeling in the Caribbean, there are still about 700 more I need to go ahead and get done.
It looks a lot like this one, actually. I've already done a few, but 25, 28, 38, 47, 78, 88, 133 140, 159, 163 are top priorities....so I guess I'm going to busy for the next 200 years or so. 

                                          jumping off a 265ft bridge outside of San Jose, 04/12

What have you done that scares you? 

20 June 2012

tshirt scarf

I knit this back in March, it was supposed to be a light, springy scarf. I took the picture with my phone while waiting at the bus stop, and I really like it. Not the scarf, I mean. I never wore the scarf. But I like the picture.

19 June 2012

thinking out loud, and finally spelling itinerary right

I'm aiming for Central Europe next year, and right now I'm thinking of either April & May or August & September.

Pros of Spring travel:
I'll have made a lot of money throughout the winter
It's lovely and mild and Europe will be coming alive
My birthday, which symbolizes my imminent death, is less depressing when celebrated in foreign countries
Cheaper prices
Cons of Spring travel:
Less time to save up
Europe will still be chilly

Pros of Autumn travel:
I will have a few more months of savings
Weather will be warmer
Tree colors, and that awesome crisp fall feeling
Cons of Autumn travel:
Can't miss Jons birthday on Sep 15
Prices will be higher

So, I don't know, it's pretty even and I'm sure I'll just end up playing it by ear. All money and practical issues aside, I don't really have a  preference. 

One of my favorite things to do is look at maps and create stupid plans, so I've really enjoyed coming up with these-

Completely Crazy Itinerary: 
Fly into Amsterdam: 4 days, 
-overnight train-
Munich: 3 days, train-
Prague: 4 days, train-
Vienna: 4 days, boat-
Bratislava: 2 days, train-Budapest: 4 days, train-
Krakow: 3 days, train-
Warsaw: 2 days, fly-
Brussels: 4 days, train-
Amsterdam, flight home
total: 8 countries, 9 cities, 30 days

Yeah, I do totally get that that is moving way too fast and I'll likely be miserable and exhausted by Munich, but I don't get over to Europe very often, and I can sleep when I'm dead, and all that.

Less Crazy Itinerary:
Fly into Prague: 5 days, train-
Cesky Krumlov: 2 day, train-
Salzburg: 3 days, train-
Vienna: 4/5 days, boat-
Bratislava, 3 days, train-
Budapest: 4/5 days, train-
Krakow: 4/5 days, train-
Auschwitz: 1 day, train-
Wroclaw: 3 days, train-
Prague, flight home
total: 4 countries, 9 cities, in 30 days

I'd only get to check off 4 more countries, and who know's when I'll ever be able to see the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany again, but I'd be able to spend more time in each city, stop and see the little places in between, and get to know each country a little better. 
BUT, since I'm going to pack as much as I can into whatever I do, the number of train rides is going to be about the same-they're just shorter trains. So it will be almost as expensive to see less countries. 
BUT I'll probably regret not knocking off more must-sees...I mean, I'm likelier to visit Germany for the first time in a few years that Poland for the second. 
Again, this is going to be determined, really, this winter when I start seriously looking for plane tickets. So right now my strategy is to read up on my core countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia. I'm learning the history of these places, and about the cities I'll definitely be visiting-probably, the more I find out, the more places I'll wanna visit in each one, a la less crazy itinerary. 

the first one

Apparently I have lost the ability to talk about anything else but traveling. I mean, I'll be with a group of people, talking about normal people things, and someone will say something along the lines of "I found the coolest thriftstore downtown, their dresses are like $3," and where my mind goes, what I have to reply, even though no one at all cares, is "oh man! I just found the coolest Polish budget airline! Their flights to London are like E20." 
I'm pretty sure it's called travel verbal diarrhea, and it's become a burden for my friends and loved ones. 
So maybe, this being my outlet, I can be a normal person in human society, and a travel obsessed psychopath on here.  

Plus, my goal here is to track the planning of a backpacking trip. Within the next year and a half, this is essentially going to be a diary spanning from "Oh, I think I'll go to (blank)," to "(Blank) was super cool, now I'm home." It will be interesting to read afterwards, and maybe help when planning future trips. Also I like to listen to myself talk, and I guess this is the next best thing. 

Pub-n-knit because for a while I would go to my favorite pub and knit things. I don't anymore because I moved, and I don't have a favorite pub in my new city, Raleigh. Maybe one day.