Having Fun Right Now

Another Family Planning to Travel the World!

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Patti Smith & PBS

This new post from PBS’ “Blank on Blank” came out today:

And it reminded me to post about how fantastic Patti Smith last book M Train was!

If It Were My Home

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in another country?  Well, wonder no more!  A website titled If It Were My Home attempts to compare your country with another in a wide variety of data points.   For example, here’s a small number of comparisons between Canada and Costa Rica:

If It Were My Home (Canada vs Costa Rica)

Of course, the comparisons can be a bit sketchy since we’re not only talking about averages within an entire country but also comparing statistics that are collected differently in different parts of the world (e.g., unemployment isn’t counted the same way everywhere).  Nonetheless, the site is an interesting look at the grass on the other side.

Germs & Genes

I’ve just finished a course on the History of Science and wanted to share some neat resources:

Philip Ziegler’s The Black Death is a fascinating read about the spread of the bubonic plague throughout medieval Europe. Thoroughly gross (pus, pus, and more pus) and decidedly depressing (“Let’s blame the plague on the Jews, round them up and slaughter them!”), it is also useful for increasing the amount of trivia you have at the ready to gross out your friends and family. For example, to prevent contracting the plague just hang out around latrines and breathe in the fumes, it worked (not really) for the Europeans!


Continue this theme with a rousing game of Pandemic and feel completely paranoid and compelled to wash your hands repeatedly.

I was also fascinated by this great video by CGP Grey on the importance of the environment on the spread of disease:

I also wrote a paper on the controversy surrounding Watson & Crick’s Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the structure of DNA. Check out Watson’s “memoir” The Double Helix.  It is a quick and entertaining read, albeit rife with sexism. Sexism you say? Hoho! If Watson isn’t busy playing tennis or going to cocktail parties, he is criticizing Rosalind Franklin’s looks and dismissing her brilliance. Franklin was one of the many scientists that Watson & Crick took advantage of in their personal race for Nobel glories. Check out Brenda Maddox’s book on Franklin to learn more.

Scratch – How to Make Your Own Video Games

JBot and I have played the long game on this one, and this week – success!

G-Man has had a burning passion for video games for almost five years now. We have done our best to help educate him while making it fun. JBot has gone above and beyond to teach him about the history of video games, by introducing him to older styles, playing with him, and even adapting modern games to his younger sensibilities.

I was visiting the bigger downtown library last week, looking for ideas and extra reading material to have around the house for March Break and found two new books about Scratch. Added them to the pile, didn’t think too much of it. I have brought other books home before, but they were sort of dense and, well, boring. Like a “For Dummies” kind of reading experience.

Coding for Beginners

Coding for Beginners Using Scratch” by Rosie Dickens, Jonathan Melmoth & Lousie Stowell

How to Code

Super Skills: How to Code in 10 Easy Lessons” by Sean McManus

These two new books really grabbed G-Man’s attention. He read them voraciously in one night. He woke up absolutely vibrating with excitement to try programming out for himself two days in a row. I mean, hey, if you would rather wake up at 6 a.m. on your holidays to make cool stuff, go for it!

You can use this site run by MIT to try out the Scratch software.

G-Man had a lot of fun. Great stuff!

Travel Idea – Vans & RVs

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a camper van. Man, I loved that camper van. I was hoping to find something similar to take the kids on a road trip this summer but then I looked at the cost of rentals.

And then I had a small heart attack.

Soooo, that’s not happening. But I think I will file it away with plans for a later date. Sometime when I can maybe buy a van second-hand and do a diy transformation into a camper van of my own.

Something like what Christine On did here on her blog Defying Normal.

And what Lloyd Khan has been documenting in his Shelter books.


Smarter Every Day – Jungle Pilots

Destin at Smarter Every Day makes some of the best videos on Youtube. My son and I are big fans. If you haven’t seen the amazing toilet swirl videos that he did with Veritasium, CHECK IT OUT!

Destin’s newest video is about using your skills as a super power for good, in this case, pilot skills. This comes from this year’s Letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A fascinating video about flying to remote areas to help deliver aid:


Run, Baby, Run!

Okay, not necessarily specific to travelling the world, but I thought it was a fun video that’s somewhat related to this blog — below is a 3D printed animation created 100% in camera, on location, with no green-screen or digital trickery involved.  Filmmaker Eran Amir makes a 3D printed baby run over water and sand on a beach, a main street in a small town, through the avenues of a city, over a bridge and through a market. The entire thing was created on-location in three months.  Amir also has a making-of video to show how the running effect was created.

New York Times – 52 Places to Go in 2016

JBot and I had a lot of fun with this gorgeous NYT travel article. See if you can guess the locations by just looking at the pictures.  I hardly got any! Ha!

Also, props for Toronto for getting # 7!


(Road of the Seven Lakes, Argentina. Danielle Villasana for The New York Times. via http://nyti.ms/1mIf7xj)

No Excuses!

If I had a dime for each person who told me that they wanted to go back to school and learn something specific, but couldn’t because of the apparent cost, I’d have a whopping 95 cents on me (counting the nickels and dimes that were already in my pocket).  Well, now you don’t have an excuse.

The No Excuse List (http://noexcuselist.com/) gives you a variety of mostly free places on the web where you can learn almost anything that your heart desires.  The list includes categories ranging from cooking, art, music and languages.  Want to learn a particular topic in physics?  Head over to Khan Academy!  Want to learn Spanish?  Try Duolingo!  Or maybe you want to get into photography this year?  Then Cambridge in Colour might be your answer.  Check out the website and see what free things you could be learning right now.

We always complain that we don’t have enough time and money to learn new things.  Well, this solves the money problem.  What about time?  I dare you to try this out: at the end of each day for the next week, count the number of hours (in 15 minute increments) you spend watching TV, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, playing solo games, etc.  Now imagine taking that time and converting it to learning a new language or other awesome life skill?  Who knows, if you set your schedule a little better and cut out digital distractions, by the end of the year you could be speaking nearly fluent Italian or making beautiful art in Photoshop!

What are you going to learn this year?




Travel as Advertising, Advertising as Social Responsibility

I am going to admit that I had no idea who Casey Neistat was until a few weeks ago..

Evidently, he is a huge YouTube celebrity/media personality/artist/triathlete/app creator/ad maker?! I found out about him via Jake Roper (from Vsauce3) as Casey visited him while in the hospital and brought him a giant taco pinata.

I wanted to share two of his videos here on the blog as I think they are applicable to our travel plans.

The first, as stated at the beginning of the video, was made with money from Nike to make an ad. Casey “went rogue” and used the money to travel the world instead. Around the world in ten days!



The second video is in a similar vein but with a much different outcome. Casey was approached to make a video as part of the promotional budget for the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. This was just after a devastating tsunami in the Philippines and so instead Casey used the budget to provide relief in food and supply items as a humanitarian effort.



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