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Giving Up the Lottery Fantasy

Ever play the lottery? If you have, did you spend a few seconds thinking about what it would be like to win when you scratched off that ticket or selected your magic numbers? Don’t lie—no one is listening except yourself. Here’s my guess: If you ever bought a lottery ticket, OF COURSE you thought about…

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Site Update: May 2008

Live from British Columbia This month’s Site Update takes place from the Amtrak Cascades train heading south to Seattle after a quick trip up to Vancouver, Canada. I had to go to the Vancouver airport to pick up my next Round-the-World plane ticket, and the quick trip that began at 6:30 this morning is almost…

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Five Journeys to Cotonou, Benin

Click to enlarge photos. I went to Benin many times between 2003 and 2005—probably about five visits in total. Each time I went, I got more and more comfortable with French, my second language, and more and more comfortable with Francophone Africa, which is a different cultural experience on its own. The first visit was…

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How To Retire the Day After Tomorrow

Fed up with work? Not enough time for the things you want to do? Here’s the answer: decide to retire! You don’t have to be 62 ½ years old, and you don’t have to be rich. In fact, you can usually make plans to retire in about 36 hours. That’s the average time it takes…

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Everyone Loves to Hate a Winner

Photo credit: WordFreak I read an online article recently that listed eight annoying people you’ll meet in the typical Starbucks. My favorite, or actually my least favorite, is the guy who hates Starbucks, but ends up going there every day. In Seattle we have no shortage of Starbucks haters, many of whom go there often.…

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10 MORE Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling: Blogger Roundup

Two weeks ago, I wrote about 28 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Traveling. That post received a lot of feedback, and generated a good discussion about buying medicine around the world. But what was I missing? No one person can have all the answers, so I asked a few expert travel writers…

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Dear Silent Majority, I Need Your Feedback…

I had dinner with a couple of friends on Saturday night. While we were sitting outside on a warm Seattle evening, we spent some time talking about this writing project. One of the things we discussed was how every day I write about my own stories, but I know very little about most of the…

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The Normalization of Mediocrity

I recently came back to Seattle after traveling for two weeks, and began eating simple, organic food again. I’m a vegetarian wherever I go, but I don’t always eat very well when I’m out around the world. After getting back on track after all the travel and different countries, I started feeling better within 24…

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Candlelit Notes from a Dismal Hotel Room

I’m sitting in what may be the most dreary hotel room I have ever stayed in, which is saying a lot. My room is the size of a large closet, and no, this isn’t Japan with its neat cubicle hotels. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what country I’m in at the moment. I could…

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Art and Sacrifice: Interview with Robert Bruce

Robert Bruce says that the most difficult thing about his chosen art form is having the title poet attached to him. Yes, Robert says, he is a real-life poet, but without all the stereotypes. If you’re turned off by poetry readings and literary journals that nobody reads, don’t worry—Robert doesn’t like them either. Instead, he…

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The Land of Too Much

Two years ago I was working in Liberia, West Africa and came to Chicago for a three-day conference. Coming out of West Africa to Europe and then North America is always a huge culture shock, and when I went all that way for just a weekend conference, I felt more disoriented than ever. I stayed…

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The Road to Damascus

Sometimes it seems that wherever I go in the world, I’m always too early or too late to the party. One week ago today I was hanging out in Beirut, Lebanon, walking all over what I found to be a beautiful city, stopping for cappuccino along the waterfront and then having 40-cent falafel for lunch.…

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From Easter Island to Beirut, Lebanon

Trip Update: I haven’t had a lot of time to post reports from my trip to South America and the Middle East, so while I’m hanging out in transit today, I thought I’d post this report instead of the usual Wednesday work essay. We’ll go back to regularly scheduled programming next week. If you are…

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