Saturday, April 23, 2016

Everyone says I'm running away

Running Away? I think not!

Hi Niko,
Before we get to more articles and tips, I wanted to send you links to some suggested travel companies. I know you're excited about your trip and are probably searching for flights and accommodation, so I want to point you in the right direction.

Below are my favorite companies. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and, overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
You might find one of your favorites isn't on the list. That doesn't mean they are bad. In fact, I could like them too...but they just aren't a starting point for when I'm looking for deals!

So here is my list broken down by category:

Airfare

Kayak - A good flight search engine for fares leaving from the United States. They search a wide variety of airlines and other flight brokers (Kayak is what is known as a "meta" search engine). I think they are a great starting point for searching for cheap airline tickets.
Vayama - Another good flight search engine, especially for international flights outside the US. It's one of my main tools when I book international tickets, and I've found fares on their site hundreds of dollars cheaper than what I've found elsewhere.
Skyscanner - An amazing resource for checking airfares internationally. The site includes a great list of budget airlines that a lot of other search engines don't carry.
Momondo - My third favorite airfare booking site. I never book a flight without checking them as well.
Airfarewatchdog - This website monitors airline ticket prices and will alert you when deals occur. They find a lot of unadvertised fares, and I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter. This is one of the best websites on the Internet to find airfare deals.
Google Flights - Type in your airport and when you want to go, and Google will show you all the flights in the world. This is great for when you're just looking for the cheapest place to visit!
Airtreks - This company is a leader in round-the-world (RTW) tickets. They offer some very good deals, and if you are interested in purchasing a round-the-world ticket, it's best to call and get a quote from them first. They know their stuff. I wouldn't use anyone else.
The Flight Deal - Want last-minute flight deals originating from the United States or Canada? Check out this website. It is one of the BEST in the world.
Holiday Pirates - Want last-minute deals originating from Europe? Check out this website. It is also one of the BEST in the world.

Accommodation

Airbnb - A good accommodation alternative, this site connects you with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments. You'll get all the comforts of home, the chance to stay in a local, non-touristy location, and pay a fraction of the cost of a hotel room.
Hostelworld - The best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability. I use them for my bookings (and they are an official sponsor of this website).
Couchsurfing - This website allows you to stay on people's couches or in their spare rooms for free. It's a great way to save money — while meeting locals who can tell you much more about a city than you will find out through a hostel or hotel. The site also has groups where you can arrange to meet up for events in your city. I have used this website dozens of times.
Hotwire - This is probably the hotel site I use most. I really enjoy their blind booking process. They essentially say "we have a super rate on a 3-star hotel in New York's Times Square," and you book it without knowing the hotel name. While that sounds scary, I've never ended up in a bad hotel and have saved a ton of money in the process. Highly recommended.
Hotels.com - One of my favorite hotel booking sites, Hotels.com has a robust inventory and lots of sales. It also gives you one free night's stay for every 10 booked. This is a good starting point when looking for brand-name hotels.
Expedia - Not my favorite website but they offer really good deals on cruises, hotels, and sometimes flights. (Better flight-booking sites are Kayak and Vayama.) For cruises and package deals, you really can't beat Expedia. They also have a really good loyalty program.
Priceline - I like this website because it allows you to bid on hotels and save a lot more money than by booking directly. When used in conjunction with the bidding site Better Bidding, you can substantially lower the cost of your hotels — by as much as 60%.
Agoda - The best hotel accommodation site for Asia. If you want a good hotel or guesthouse in Asia, use this site.
TripAdvisor - Mom-and-pop guesthouses can't afford the commission that major booking sites take. If you are traveling to the "Third World" countries, use Trip Advisor and you'll find way more listings to choose from than you would from a site like Hotels.com.

Travel Gear/Products/Services

World Nomads Travel Insurance - I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I've been using this company since I started traveling in 2006 and will never switch. It is the one thing I NEVER travel without, and I urge you to stay covered on the road!
Lonely Planet Guidebooks - Everyone has their own guidebook preference. Lonely Planet is mine. I like the look of their guides, as well as their layout, size, weight, and emphasis on budget travel. Lonely Planet also redesigned their books in 2011, and they are now better organized with more photos and improved maps.
REI Backpacks and Gear - This sporting and outdoor store sells a wide variety of backpacking gear. I've had the same REI backpack with me for the last six years and it's as good now as it was the day I bought it. Their products last a long time. Because the quality has been so wonderful, I purchase all my travel gear through them. (If you're Canadian, I love MEC!) Read here for more information on what to look for in the perfect pack.
Rail Europe - If you are going to visit Europe and plan to take a lot of long train trips, get a rail pass. You will save money. I've used a rail pass on three trips and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works out for long train trips. Click here to read a breakdown of how passes save money.
I-to-I Online TEFL Course - If you are looking for a good TEFL class, check out I-to-I. They run online courses, are cheaper than their competition, are widely recognized as a reputable program, and will help you find a job. I highly recommend them over any other company if you are looking to get a TEFL certificate in order to teach English overseas.

Tours/Agents

Intrepid Travel - They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you'll get 10% off when you click the link!
STA Travel - A good company for those under 30 or for students. They offer discounted airfare as well as travel passes that help you save on attractions. I don't use them that much anymore (since I'm way over 30) but if you aren't, make sure to check them out.
Go Today - Great website showcasing highly discounted last-minute tours and hotels. Great for the last-minute planner.
The Man in Seat 61 - This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or an epic train trip, consult this site.
Grassroots Volunteering - If you are looking to volunteer when you travel and want to support good organizations, use this website. It compiles a list of good local volunteer organizations that keep the money within the community.

Travel Guides

Besides the above-recommended companies, I have a number of books and guides that can help you travel like a pro and earn money on the road:
Please e-mail me if you need anything else or want to know if a company you found is good. I'm here to help.
Until next time!
Travel Safe,
Nomadic Matt
P.S. Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission every time you use them. It doesn't cost you any extra and it helps keeps the website running and the information free. So if you would like to give back to the site at all, this is a way to do it! If you have any questions about these companies, email me.

PART I -Why alpha males and alpha females tend to lock horns

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas -- For the past several weeks, a number of visitors to this site have requested commentary on the indiscretions that have happened in the political arena. Newscast Media doesn't do celebrity gossip. However, in response to some of the emails I have received asking me to write an article about why spouses in prominent positions in society tend to stray, I will explain the relationship dynamics using research I personally conducted years back while I was a Psych major.

The alpha male

The three prominent names that have kept coming up in the past few months are Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzeneggar and  recently, Anthony Weiner, the politician from New York.  Weiner resigned last week after he admitted to having online liaisons with six women while married -- sending them photos of his crotch and exchanging steamy messages using social networking sites.
All men exhibit alpha male traits and have dominated their chosen careers.  Tiger and Arnold are self-explanatory considering the accolades and success they have experienced in sports and acting respectively.  As for Anthony Weiner, he too is known for exhibiting traits, whereby he out-alphas politicians and dominates them.  Below is a video clip of Rep. Anthony Weiner in his alpha male mode.


In relationships, it is not important to marry a good person, it is more important to marry the right person.  A good person may not be the right person to get married to.  So many times, the right person may be rough around the edges, and may not be obvious.  Most people in courtships pre-qualify their mates.  In other words, if that person meets a list of certain criteria, we assume the person may be suitable, while if someone lacks what we seek in a mate, we may be tempted to dismiss that person, even though that person might be the right person for us.
Alphas always wait for the green light
While beta males tend to be submissive or yes-men towards women in anticipation of reward, alphas tend to be assertive in the relationship.  In the many interviews I conducted, as to why some women will reject some men and pursue others, the common theme these women said was that they had little respect for men who allowed women to walk all over them.  Women want a man who can decipher their behavioral patterns --men who have internalized the art of courtship and have a clear vision of what they want from the relationship. 
Almost all the women I spoke to said they did not want a man they would have to lead, they wanted the man to take the lead, because a man who took the lead was viewed as one with confidence.  These traits are exhibited by alpha males. Another characteristic of alpha males as opposed to betas is that alphas never hit on women.  They make the initial presentation, demonstrate that they are worthwhile, then simply sit back and wait for the woman to send "buying signals" or give the green light.  By the time they are ready to close the deal, the woman is already sold out on the alpha. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months for a woman to surrender and lower her defenses.
If on the other hand a woman rejects an alpha male, he doesn't take it personally. He simply views that particular woman as someone who has bad judgment, therefore is not worthwhile, and then moves on.  Alphas believe that a clinically sane woman will see the true value in a quality male, and respond positively.

All things alpha

The biggest mistake unbalanced alpha males make is to court or marry an alpha female.  Both will eventually end up locking horns since there is a power struggle over control.  Most female executives or politicians in high ranking positions are used to taking the lead and managing large teams of people. This creates a dilemma whereby most of these alpha females fail to separate the leading role they have at work, from their role in a relationship with an unbalanced alpha male.

A balanced alpha male, however, will have great success with an alpha female because he is able to to meet her spiritual, intellectual and emotional needs, unlike an unbalance alpha male that excels in one area at the expense of another.
Out of frustration, the unbalanced alpha males tend to gravitate toward beta females who are usually less aggressive and more subdued.  Beta females tend to be less confrontational than alpha females.  When an unbalanced alpha male experiences the more relaxed atmosphere around a beta female, a lot of things can happen.  My studies concluded that beta females make the best partners for unbalanced alpha males, since there is less tension in such relationships, while the well-balanced alpha can enjoy relationships with both alpha and beta females.
I have also said to men (alpha or beta), "Never pursue a relationship with a woman who despises the kind of work you do."
If a woman doesn't think your line of work is honorable, she will begin to look down on you, and to some extent convince herself that she is doing you a favor by dating you.  Unfortunately some women fall in love with the kind of work a man does, as opposed to whom he truly is as a human being.  Some men reading this might be in pursuit of a certain kind of woman and are wondering why she stopped returning the phone calls.  The reason is because she has defined you based on the type of work you do.
The way a woman talks to and treats an investment banker is totally different from the way she treats a janitor.  Both are honorable professions, but if she perceives your job to be inferior, she will begin to believe you are inferior to her too, because she can't brag about you to her friends, co-workers or family.  I believe that's why men make up fancy job titles when women ask them what they do.
A woman instinctively views the measure of a man based on his potential as a provider.  The more prestigious his job is, the better a provider he appears in her eyes.  A man's earning potential is directly proportional to how seriously a woman will regard him as a potential mate. 
According to Tom Mortensen, as senior scholar at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, women outnumber men as college graduates. The U.S Census Bureau also shows that the number of females enrolling in college increased by 20 percent between 1967 and 2000.
 Because women graduate in far greater numbers than men, there are several well-educated women who out-earn their male counterparts. However, a woman who truly values her mate will never belittle him or despise him simply because she is more educated or has greater earning potential than he does.             Continue to PART II - Alpha males and females >>
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Veteran Owned Business Project



Friday, April 22, 2016

Screw College

college papers
I’m just like that kid who got into all eight Ivy League schools but chose the University of Alabama because it was free (only he’s way smarter). You see, I applied to a bunch of colleges and a small private one told me they’d give me full tuition. I said, “Where do I sign?” before they could take it back.
My first semester there was a disaster. I had no idea how to study, and I spent most of my time partying. The result? I got a 2.69 GPA. I had to keep a 3.4 for my scholarship, so they sent me an official letter saying I was on probation.
I thought I wanted a degree in finance so I was taking business classes. Then I met a guy who sold weed, so one day I went over to his dorm room. I’d never seen so many computers. He was getting a degree in information systems. He showed me Linux for the first time (it was Red Hat Linux 5.2). I had no idea there were operating systems besides Windows.
I got really obsessed with computers. I learned how to take one apart and put it back together. I built them for friends. I spent hours chatting online on something called IRC. I started working for the campus IT department. I became an expert in Linux. And I quit taking business classes, switching my major to information systems.
When I started college, I thought I wanted to do one thing. I wound up doing something completely different. But I needed to explore different fields to figure that out. Now I wonder if I could have explored on my own, without going to college? Let’s see.

WHY TO GO TO COLLEGE

1. You get to party and hook up

No more curfew, and drugs and alcohol are everywhere. I lived in a fraternity house for three years, and probably drank at least a case of beer a week (always “Natty Light”). By my senior year I had tried all kinds of drugs. As for hooking up? There’s no parents so there’s a lot of it.

2. Maybe an education

You pay tuition to learn stuff from professors. If you go to class, do your work, and get decent grades then they give you a degree at the end. And when you get out, if the job market has a demand for your degree, then you get a 9-5 job and get to start paying back your loans.

WHY TO RE-THINK COLLEGE

1. Loans

The average college grad has $35,000 in loans. Some have two or three times that, like if you completely finance it you might have $100,000-$250,000. I found some examples of this:
This is why some people decide their best repayment strategy is to default. Collectively, we have over $1 trillion in loans, and this doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

2. Low-cost alternatives

There are free and inexpensive options to learn anything online.  Like Code Academy,creativeLIVEKhan AcademyLynda.comUdemy, and so on. You can even learn skills you probably need that they don’t even teach in college:
  • Book writing
  • Communicating ideas
  • Critical thinking
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Event planning
  • Improvisational comedy
  • Influence and persuasion
  • Networking
  • Personal finance
  • Reading comprehension
  • Storytelling
Some colleges are opening up their curriculums so anyone can take their classes for free. Scott Young got the equivalent of a computer science degree from MIT for $2,000. And MIT isn’t cheap. It costs about $60,000 a year, for a four-year total of $240,000.
When employers were asked if they’d hire Scott without the actual degree, many said yes. It’s because companies like Google don’t care if you don’t have a degree. They want you to be able to solve problems, and having a degree doesn’t prove you can do that.
Is there more to college than a degree? Of course, but those things can’t be worth $238,000.

3. Opportunity cost

Instead of spending $240,000 on MIT, you could spend it so many other ways (this is called the opportunity cost). Here are some ideas from $5,000 to $240,000:

Start a business – $5,000

Any 18 year old can be an entrepreneur. Get a Google-backed nanodegree in entrepreneurship, and build a website to sell your service or product. You’ll learn:
  • Ideation, and how to choose a product people will buy
  • Product design and monetization
  • How to course correct when things don’t right (they never go right)
  • Maybe even how to hire and manage someone

Have an enriching experience – $10,000

In Europe, it’s common to spend a gap year traveling after high school. Pick someplace the most unlike where you’re from, maybe like Thailand or India. You’ll meet other travelers, see what poverty is, be in super uncomfortable situations (this is always a good thing), and learn how to survive.

Become an angel investor – $100,000

Instead of spending $100,000 on a Stanford MBA, Tim Ferriss created a fund for angel investing. You see, an MBA is two things: a professional network, and the curriculum. By investing in startups he’d build a network, and learn:
  • Start-up financing
  • Deal structuring
  • Rapid product design
  • How to initiate acquisition conversations

Invest in the stock market – $240,000

Let’s pretend your parents were ultra-wealthy, and at 18 you persuaded them to write you a check for the four-year cost of MIT. Because you’re smart, you invested it in a total market index fund, so by the time you’re 40 you’d be a millionaire (inflation-adjusted, too):
How many MIT alumni have $1,000,000 in the bank by 40? I have no idea. But this is the opportunity cost of using money for one thing (college), rather than another.

IF YOU’RE 18, HERE’S WHAT TO DO

My friend’s kid is a high school senior. He’s also a top performer. He just decided that he wasn’t ready for college. I found this fascinating because kids like him don’t say this. But when you learn that 40% of college kids drop out, maybe more seniors should be following his lead.
When you look at the big picture, not going to college right away is negligible. If you make this choice, go explore fields that interest you. Do you like good food? Get a crappy job in the kitchen of a top restaurant. Medicine? Volunteer at a hospital. Investing? Intern at JP Morgan. Politics? Volunteer on a political campaign. This is your life, remember that you get to make it what you want.

Overcoming Indoctrination


When a child is taught a set of beliefs and values from birth by people on which he or she is dependent for basic survival, the beliefs and values tend to endure. This appears to be the case even when the beliefs are false and the values are morally suspect. Take something like overt racism or sexism as an example. A child who is raised in an environment where racism or sexism are modeled and taught will adopt these beliefs and values at least temporarily. This should not be surprising to us, as we generally agree that hate and bigotry are learned. The young child does not know any better, and he or she has little choice other than to trust the primary caregivers.

Fortunately, the effects of such an upbringing are not necessarily permanent. With age and life experience, the individual can question aspects of his or her upbringing. Parental values can be critically examined, rejected, and replaced with healthier alternatives. And yet, this process is often lengthy, difficult, and dependent on environmental events. That is, such an individual may need prompting of some sort in order to begin such a critical examination in the first place. This is probably one of the reasons that racist beliefs tend to be a bit more difficult to maintain when one has regular contact with members of various racial groups.

Religious Indoctrination

What does this have to do with atheism? Quite a bit. I tend to think that religious belief and values work in much the same way. The child who is raised by Christian parents and taught from an early age to accept Christian dogma is likely to do just that. And why wouldn't they? People they trust and on whom they depend are presenting this stuff as true; of course the child is going to accept it. While we know that the effects of such indoctrination are not permanent (many of us are former Christians), we should not expect people raised this way to discard their religious beliefs until they have had an occasion to examine them critically. I know quite a few adult Christians who have never critically examined their religious beliefs, and I suspect you do too.

How should we feel about such adults? Well, I don't think that despising them makes much sense. After all, they are doing what we should expect them to do. If they have never seriously questioned the beliefs and values into which they were indoctrinated, I'm not sure why we would expect them to be any different from how they are. Could the same be said of the person who was brought up with racist or sexist beliefs and values? Probably.

This brings us to our central question: if we would like to encourage the religious individual (or sexist individual or racist individual) to critically examine and ultimately discard these beliefs and values, how should we do so? I recognize that some atheists see encouraging religious individuals to discard their religious beliefs as an important goal, and others do not. To the degree that we do accept this as a goal, how do we attempt to accomplish it?

Helping Others Overcome Religious Indoctrination

I would suggest that we begin by realizing that changing someone's mind like this (i.e., helping them realize that what they learned through years of indoctrination is false) is not an easy task and that it must be something they want to do. We cannot simply erase someone's religious beliefs (or racist or sexist beliefs) in an instant and against their will. We might be able to shame, threaten, and humiliate an individual into keeping such beliefs private, but it seems unlikely that such tactics would bring about the sort of changed mind we say we want. Instead, we must encourage and facilitate the process of their critical examination of these beliefs. And in order to do this, we probably need to begin from a place of empathy.

What I mean by beginning from a place of empathy is making an effort to understand the person's experience and worldview. Empathy does not entail agreement; it is merely an effort to see the world from the perspective of the other party. For a quick example of why this is so important, I encourage you to consider the possibility that some religious individuals would feel terribly guilty about questioning their religious beliefs because they would interpret such questioning as a rejection of their parents' values. If their religious beliefs are wrong, this suggests that their parents were wrong. This can certainly provoke guilt and interfere with the process of critically examining such beliefs.

When I see atheists verbally attacking Christians on Twitter, I can interpret it in one of two ways. First, I can tell myself that the atheists are trying, however crudely, to push the Christian to examine his or her beliefs and realize that some of what he or she learned from an early age is likely false. In the best case scenario, perhaps the atheist is simply saying, "I'm an atheist and have managed to live my life free of gods. You can too." I think this can be helpful, especially if the atheist can refrain from personal attacks. Alternatively, I can interpret many of the statements I see from atheists as reflecting strong anti-Christian attitudes and a lack of understanding of how belief works. Those who do little more than angry name-calling may be strengthening the religious beliefs of their audience.

Indoctrination is an effective process that typically unfolds over several years of someone's life. To think we can undo it in a flash - especially in the form of personal attacks - is not just wrong but probably counterproductive. If we are truly interested in changing minds, we need to think in terms of how best to encourage the critical examination of one's beliefs and then support those engaging in such a process. A little patience and empathy might go a long way.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The One Way Project w/ Video



One Way Guest Blogs

I started the One Way Project to share stories from my journey abroad and it could not have been more fulfilling. Being able to share my stories, not only let people live through my stories, but it also gave me a platform to relive those moments all over again.
Now I would like to provide that platform to you! 
I will be accepting guest blogs from those all over the world. You can be traveling now, or it can be a story from the past. Please read the following criteria below before submitting a post. 

GUEST BLOG CRITERIA 

  • Guest blog MUST be about a trip abroad
  • Blog should be between 450 - 1000 words (if longer, please split into two or more parts)
  • Please provide a profile picture for your post
  • Please provide the name of the country you are from
  • Please provide 1-3 photos for your post (if available) 
  • Please provide a link to your own website if available
  • Keep language and stories appropriate, not too explicit
  • Posts will be reviewed and you will receive a notification with a post date once your post has been approved

Cool Stuff

Innovative Thinking


IDEAS AND INSIGHT

Looking for some fresh ideas or new perspectives that you can use to improve your company’s performance? If so, we can help. Start by taking our quick “IQ” test to gauge your ability to innovate consistently. Then take a journey through the other resources here. And if that doesn’t help, give us a call or send us a email and we’d be glad to point you in the right direction…

BOOKS

We believe that some of the best life lessons were learned when we were young…
In Lessons from the Sandbox, learn to rediscover the gifts you had as a child and use them to improve corporate performance.
Learn more »

GREAT MOMENTS IN INNOVATIONS

Looking for a touch of inspiration from others who looked at the world with different eyes…
If so, here’s a timeline of some of our favorite innovations. Use it as a starting point for your own exploration of a world full of ideas, opportunities and possibilities
Learn more »

TESTING YOUR CORPORATE IQ

How innovative are you? How innovative can you become. Take the test…
We’ve designed a fun and straightforward “test” that provides a snapshot of your company’s ability to nurture the right new ideas.  It’s fast, easy to take, and doesn’t require any studying in advance!
Learn more »

IDEAS TO SPARK YOUR GENIUS

Looking to spark innovation and growth in your organization? We have a few resources to start you off…
We’ve outlined some of our favorite quick start activities and places around the web that offer plenty of insight nuggets. We’ll bet you can’t eat just one.
Learn more »

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My New Akita Blog Link

 For those who have been around for years, once again I'm creating and expanding my blogs.  Some may find my "Akita' blog in...

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