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It’s Not My Birthday

Despite what Google or Wikipedia tells you, today (April 4th) is not my birthday. Last year on this day I got a flurry of messages from people all wishing me a joyous celebration.

“Thanks,” I’d reply, “but it’s not my birthday."

I finally developed a working theory of what happened. I’m not positive it’s true, but it’s something that feels comforting, so I’m going with it.

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Instead of Manufacturing Hype, Just Start Doing Great Work

I got a call to do some filming for a marketing agency in Los Angeles. I had the date open and it sounded interesting, so I decided to go.

The filming took place in a Beverly Hills mansion, probably the largest single-person home I’ve ever been in. On the way in I waved awkwardly to the car valet who was hosing down a Porsche, then said hello to the personal chef chopping vegetables in the kitchen.

All over the studio, which looked a bit like what I’d imagine a porn set to be, there were whiteboards set up with verbal cues. Most of them related to the science of persuasion: scarcity, limited-time offer, feel better about yourself.

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If You Can’t Learn Math, Maybe It’s Not Your Fault

My experience in higher education was unusual and erratic. I eventually earned a master’s degree in International Studies, but long before that I was a high-school dropout.

One thing I haven’t talked about much is that I’ve never been able to learn higher math: algebra, geometry, calculus, or anything of the sort. It’s not for lack of trying, or at least it wasn’t for a while. (I have zero interest in trying to learn it these days.)

No, I tried and I just couldn’t learn. I tried over and over and it never got any easier. Lots of people tried to help. I read books and went to study groups. But no matter what I did, it didn’t sink in.

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How to Travel to Random Places and Work on a Project

Greetings from the sky, on board Cathay Pacific’s longest flight. There are 16 hours scheduled for my “air world” time today, although it looks like we may arrive one hour early.

I love flights like these. I’ve already taken a three-hour nap (hey, I was tired) and am now up to work for several hours while I drink espresso and Perrier. It’s dark outside now, but eventually the sun will come up in-flight. A few more hours later I’ll land in Hong Kong, a full 12-hour time difference from where I left. Travel is life.

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Woman Finds Her Dream Job in the Land of Milk and Honey

After 10 years, multiple career moves, and dozens of job titles, Nicole Buergers has finally found her dream job as an entrepreneurial beekeeper and cheesemonger. Have you ever heard of such a combination? Here's how she tells the story:

While I have my dream job now, it’s taken quite a peculiar journey to get here. Throughout my life I've juggled multiple jobs at once and been "the queen of the side hustle." Normally, I would have a 9-5 job to pay the bills and at least one part-time passion job on the side.

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If You Have No Challenges, Maybe It’s Time to Change Your Life

Have you ever walked around endless airport highway ramps for more than a mile? When it’s after 10pm and you’ve got your carry-on bags with you?

Yeah, so I did that the other night. Short version: when you arrive in DFW and are staying at the off-airport Hyatt Regency, you’re supposed to take the SkyTrain to the C gates, and then hike through the parking garage to the entrance. I’ve done it that way before, and it’s not terribly difficult.

This time I was hanging out in the D terminal, working from my favorite U.S. airline lounge, and I decided to walk outside and skip the whole SkyTrain thing. How hard could it be? I’ve been to DFW, oh, I don’t know—several hundred times if not more. Sure, it’s a big place, and there was that time I got lost trying to return a rental car and missed my flight, but still.

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There’s No School for What You Need to Do

At one of the stops on my current tour, the bookstore host introduced me by saying in part “... and Chris earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington.” It surprised me a little because no one else has ever mentioned that in any introduction that I can recall.

Sure, it’s public information, but who cares? No one reads my blog because I went to college. No one buys my books or comes to an event because I earned an advanced degree, or any degree for that matter.

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California Man Buys an Entire Cow and Feeds His Family for a Year

Sometimes the best part of a quest is when you wind up somewhere you never would have expected. For Jared Stone, he didn’t even think he’d be on top of Mt. Whitney because he bought a cow to feed his family.

One Saturday afternoon, I was watching a food show on TV. Being a television professional (I’m a producer), I have a pretty nice setup — 1080p, high refresh rate, lots of HDMI-ins. I know a fair bit about both television as an industry, and televisions in particular as specific pieces of technology. That afternoon, it occurred to me that I knew more about the television on my wall than the food that goes into my body – the stuff that actually becomes “me.”
JaredSteer

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I Flew in an Apartment in the Sky… and It Was Awesome!

EYapt - 1 Earlier this year I identified a new travel goal: to fly in the Etihad "Apartment,” a full-on suite that’s included on their A380 aircraft on certain routes.

Well, as of last week I can now say “mission accomplished”—I flew in The Apartment from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, a 15-hour journey. The short version of the flight is: it was amazing.

Here’s how it all went down.

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My New Travel Hacking Goal: Book an Apartment at 30,000 Feet

16256196535_84d50ed2e1_z It’s a brand new year, and that means it’s time for change—both in life (because why not?) and in travel.

Every year I earn more than one million miles and points, which I then use for free travel all over the world. For a long time, travel hacking was my primary tool for going everywhere.

These days, I don’t jet off to Kinshasa or Katmandu very often, but I’m still in the game. Even without paying attention all the time or doing crazy things like making a hair-loss appointment to earn miles, I’m still able to get more than enough miles and points to have experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible.

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Adventures in Envelope Stuffing: Weekend Update

Yesterday afternoon, I headed to Office Depot for an important mission: I had to buy 100 envelopes, stamps, and index cards. I then spent the next several hours diligently writing the same information over and over and each of the cards, before stuffing them in the envelope and affixing a stamp.

It was actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

As detailed last week, if you’re up for your own envelope stuffing adventure, you can receive at least 47,000 IHG hotel points for your time and trouble. These points can then be used for up to 9 free hotel stays anywhere in the world.

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How to Spend $46 and Receive Up to 9 Free Hotel Nights

envelopes1 Want to do something fun that will help you travel for free? Just want to make fun of me and a couple of friends who are out to earn points? Here’s a chance to do either or both of those things.

On December 4, I'll meet up with some travel hacking friends to stuff 94 handwritten index cards into envelopes in hopes of receiving at least 47,000 hotel points that we'll use for free stays. If you’re as crazy as we are, you can do this, too.

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Would You Pay $60 to Sit in a Hot Tub? First Look at the First Class Al Safwa Lounge in Doha, Qatar

IMG_0001 Yesterday I had the opportunity to be one of the very first passengers in an exclusive airport lounge that finally opened after a year’s worth of delays. This was the Al Safwa lounge in Doha, Qatar, operated by Qatar Airways.

I didn’t go on a press junket or anything ridiculous—I just happened to be staying in Doha for a few days this week. When I heard that the lounge was actually opening (it’s been rumored for months, but with many false alarms), I changed my outbound travel plans a bit and was able to spend four hours hanging out before hopping over to Dubai.

Despite not being a real travel blogger, I thought I’d share a few impressions from the perspective of someone who flies more than 200,000 miles a year, typically 70% international, and who’s been to just about every premium airline lounge in the world.

In other words, this wasn’t my first time in a nice lounge, and I’m not easily impressed. Do keep that in mind, as well as the fact that I was there on literally the first day it was open. I’m sure some things will change and (hopefully) improve over time.

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Sometimes It Doesn’t Work, But You Still Have to Try Anyway

16484981468_a7a7c1e677_z You always hear about the people who took a chance that paid off. You always hear the try, try again stories—those case studies of overcoming what seems to be an insurmountable challenge.

You know how the story goes: so-and-so encountered failure a dozen times, but on the thirteenth attempt, they made it!

Then so-and-so says, “Thanks, everyone. I’m so glad I kept going. Victory was never guaranteed, but look at me now."

Sometimes, though, you head into a situation knowing that there’s a high likelihood of failure. I'm not talking about the possibility of failure, I'm talking about odds that would make a free-wheeling Las Vegas roulette player back away from the table and head straight for the buffet.

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