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Where Is Your Security?

The Olympics are in London this year, but in the U.S. we're gearing up for our own non-stop spectator sport. It's a lot like a reality show, complete with advertising and corporate sponsorship. Many candidates enter, but only one remains when it's over. At the end, one competitor will win by a slim margin. The next four years will be spent fighting about what happened, all the while building up to the next installment in 2016. The competitors belong to different clubs with marginally different beliefs, but they all share the same commitment to “restoring the American dream.”

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Getting to Ashgabat

I often think in airport codes, and I know at least a couple hundred of them by memory. Name an airport, even a fairly obscure one, and there's a good chance I know its shorthand.

But even I was stumped when it came to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Until a few years ago when I had racked up my first hundred countries, I wasn't even sure where Turkmenistan was.

Answers: Turkmenistan is in Central Asia, bordered by Iran, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and the Caspian Sea. The airport code is ASB, for the two people out there who are curious.

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On the Road Again: Austin to Turkmenistan

Greetings from Austin, Texas. Later today I'll be presenting the first public debut of The $100 Startup here at the SXSW Interactive Festival. If you're around, drop by Convention Center Ballroom G at 5pm local time. Afterwards, I'll be signing my first book and giving away a few galleys of the new one. First thing tomorrow, I'm heading back to Dallas and beyond for my last overseas trip of the spring. I'll be going to Turkmenistan (definitely) and Sudan (hopefully).

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Runway Running

When I boarded the flight to Nauru, I felt like I was going into exile. The airline that flies to Nauru is called “Our Airline,” which could go down as the most comical airline name I've ever heard. (Runner up: "Jubbah Airways" in Somalia.) I had previously been informed by my visa service that no visa is required to visit Nauru. Unfortunately, that fact turned out to be untrue—pretty much everyone going to Nauru needs a visa. After an earlier failure, I regrouped and made another attempt last week. This time, the visit was successful.

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How to Write a Book

Most important: to write a good book, you need a good idea. No one wants to read a book without an idea, no matter how well written it may be. Always start with something to say.

But let's look at the practical aspect—how do you actually write a book?

It turns out it's not that difficult. You basically work with the time-and-money concept, where you break down exactly what you need to accomplish the desired goal. How much is required?

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First Steps to Working for Yourself (Follow-Up)

Last week I presented a scenario from one of our readers. Anna was recently laid off from a middle management job, and rather than look for work, she was hoping to become self-employed for the first time. What are the first steps? she wanted to know. I said that I would share my answer, but first I wanted to hear from the rest of our community. If you're in a similar situation or are just curious, you can read some of the answers and see if any advice serves your needs. I've copied a few of my favorite responses ...

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It’s Time To See the World

I said I was heading to the airport, and someone said they hate flying because of the TSA. "I just can't stand to travel anymore!"

I said I was passing through LAX, and someone else said, "Ugh, LAX. What a mess."

It's OK, I told them, I have a one-night layover in the city before moving on to Asia.

"My sister lives there," I heard, "and I don't know how she stands it. The traffic is terrible!"

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Everyday Decisions: Getting Started with Working for Yourself

Anna wrote in with a common question: how to get started working on your own?

I hear these questions a lot, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Despite the variations, most of them have a common theme. Here's how Anna put it in her message, which I'm sharing with her permission:

I was recently laid off after working in a middle management position for the past four years. The layoff was sad, but not completely unexpected. The company has been losing money, and while I'd like to think I was irreplaceable, I know the truth is that they simply had to eliminate some positions ...

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What to Do About Those People Who Sidetracked Your Life

This article doesn’t have much to do with travel hacking or unconventional work. And in fact, it will only apply to a minority of the people who read it. If you’ve always had a great life and nothing truly unfair has ever happened to you, feel free to skip this one. There’s lots of other great reading out there elsewhere. But for the rest of you—this one goes out to everyone who has had terrible things happen to them that weren’t their fault.

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The Feeling of the Entire Day Unfolding Around You

In JFK I got on the 16-hour Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. It was 3pm in the New York afternoon, and 3am in HKG—exactly halfway around the world. The Boeing 777 took off, I had lunch, and I took a short nap. I always set my watch to the destination time when boarding a flight, so it was now sunrise in Hong Kong ... with 13 hours to go. What's next?

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Questions and Answers on Travel Hacking

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had created a page on the site that lists current airline mileage credit card bonuses. With just a couple of new cards, you can earn 100,000 miles or more—and then book round-trip plane tickets all over the world. Much to my surprise, card bonuses have continued to get better and better over the past couple of years. It's never been easier to earn a large stash of points or miles that you can quickly convert to plane tickets and hotel stays.

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