Sunday Stories for October 20th, 2013

elfast castle northern ireland

I had the pleasure of spending two weeks in Ireland, about a week’s time in Dublin for TBEX, and then another week seeing sights on the rest of the island. I had no perceived expectations of Ireland, other than the warm hospitality I had already experienced, so it was a real treat to discover how much history, culture, and fun could be packed into an island that’s home to nearly six and a half million people.

I’m still processing my thoughts about my time in Ireland and you can expect to start reading about it soon. Until then, though, here’s what else I’ve been reading and thought you might enjoy.

elfast castle northern ireland

TBEX Bids Farewell to Dublin

While in Dublin at TBEX, I had the opportunity to meet several people who were taking a first look at travel blogging. If you’ve heard me talk about TBEX and wondered what it was all about, this round up of articles about the conference and Ireland might help you decide if travel blogging, and attending next year’s TBEX events, are something to put on your calendar.

You came. You saw. You learned. You made new friends. You got business ideas and perhaps found prospective business partnerships. You drank Guinness and Irish whiskey. You managed to Go Wilde at the Expedia party. You stayed up too late and talked yourself hoarse. Then – snap – it was all over. We hope you think of the close of TBEX Dublin as a beginning and not an end. And we hope you fell in love with Ireland through it all.

The Metropolitan London Review

I love a nice hotel room, and always appreciate a review from someone who has spent enough time in hotels to know the difference between average and a place that’s really above and beyond. Travel blogger pal Anne, who focuses on family travel, had this to say about one of her favorite London options.

The modern, luxury London hotel, The Metropolitan London Hotel by COMO was a great place to start our #welltraveledfamily European vacation. Located in Mayfair, just on the edge of Hyde Park, it was extremely accessible to everything on our agenda for a jam-packed three days of sightseeing.

From Narco Trafficker to Narco Tourism: Taking the Pablo Escobar Tour

It’s been well over a decade since I visited Colombia, but at the time the ghost of the Medillin cartel (as well as the Cali cartel) still hung over the country like a cheap suit. The stories are mired deep in legends of questionable veracity, but the influence of Pablo Escobar lingers, today in the form of narco-tourism.

Colombian narco trafficker Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a terrorist and a mass murderer at the head of the Medellin Cartel, the largest and most devastating criminal empire in the world during the 1980s and 1990s. Escobar murdered thousands, made billions, attacked his own country with a flood of violence and attacked the United States with a flood of cocaine. Twenty years after his death Escobar’s grave is part of an increasingly popular narco tourism tour in his hometown of Medellin.

Read original article here: From Narco Trafficker to Narco Tourism: Taking the Pablo Escobar Tour – Medellin, Colombia

Sunflowers, Tuscany 2009

Magnificent Tuscan Food and Wine in Fifteen Photos

I love the food and wine in Italy, and probably nowhere more so than in Tuscany. I haven’t been for a couple of years now, so these photos of delicious Tuscan food and drink were a wonderful reminder of the need to get back there soon.

One of the main things that I wanted to work on while in Tuscany earlier this month was my food photography skills. I find that photographing food so that it looks as wonderful as it actually is, is one of the hardest photographic skills to master.

Space Invaders Street Art Takes Over the World

You can find street art the world over, but have you ever noticed a theme? This article makes me wonder if I should be looking a little more closely at street art.

As we were walking the streets of East London, learning about and admiring the street art scattered throughout this part of town, our guide pointed out a small tile mosaic that depicted Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. He mentioned that this was created by a street artist known as Invader, which I didn’t think much of at the time, and then we moved on with the tour.

Read original article here: Space Invaders Street Art Takes Over the World

New FCC Regs Challenge Marketers to Hang Up on Robocalls

If there’s one thing more annoying than marketing phone calls, it has to be those automated marketing phone calls – called robocalls. They’ve been a big source of complaints to the FTC, and it turns out that recent regulations may help eliminate some of them. Let’s hope the regulations have some real teeth to them.

Robocalls have long been a source of headaches for consumers. The US Federal Trade Commission logs about 140,000 to 200,000 complaints about them every month and they consistently rank in the FTC’s top three consumer complaint categories. But now they are also likely to be a new source of pain for marketers.

Read original article here: New FCC Regs Challenge Marketers to Hang Up on Robocalls

Pumpkin Mexican Hot Chocolate

The leaves are turning color and the temperature is dropping, so there’s no more denying that fall is here. This recipe is a nice turn on traditional hot chocolate with a seasonal nod to pumpkins.

With chilly uncovered hands and flushed cheeks, we laid our leaf treasures out in front of a roaring fire and I decided it was a perfect time to christen the season with homemade Pumpkin Mexican Hot Chocolate.  As simple as mixing packaged hot chocolate powder with milk and microwaving is, there is no comparison to homemade hot chocolate.  It doesn’t take long and the richness can’t be beat.

Paul McCartney opens at Safeco Field

Get that tune out of your head – scientists find how to get rid of earworms

Earworms are those catchy tunes that you just can’t seem to get out of your head – no matter how hard you try. If you find yourself humming along for no apparent reason, you might find comfort in the science behind earworms. And where science can define, there’s also hope that science can reduce or eliminate. Which gets me to thinking – what songs are running around in your head today? (A couple of Beatles tunes are on the list of most frequent earworms.)

Dr Vicky Williamson, a music psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, has been studying earworms and says that the most likely songs to get stuck are those that are easy to hum along to or sing but are often unique to individuals. She has identified a number events that can trigger these songs to intrude on our every day lives, including repeated exposure to a piece of music, recent exposure to the music, seeing lyrics from the song, moments of stress and allowing your mind to wander.

Revealing the fascinating story behind the crew on Holland America Line

Cruise ships are like a floating city, with all the personalities, drama, and joy found in any city. I loved this look behind the scenes, and the comparison to the United Nations, that fellow travel blogger Gary Bembridge brings to his time onboard a Holland America ship.

I found the story behind how Holland America recruits and builds its family of crew fascinating. They have built a small “United Nations of Holland America” that is focused on ensuring a distinctive feel and shared values. It seems to work as the crew seemed positive, focused and made the experience remarkable. They smiled, they laughed and joked with me. They remembered what I liked and kept checking I was having a good time. Pity the real United Nations is not quite as harmonious..

Pickled Jalapeno Pepper Slices

Why settle for anything but fresh when your own are so easy to make? The recipe and directions are easy to follow, and you don’t have to commit to canning with the refrigerator variety. Give them a try and spice of your menus, or perhaps work on perfecting the perfect jalapeno martini.

This recipe is WAY better than those store jars of jalapenos or the ones served on nachos at movies and ballparks. I’ve added a few seasonings that give these pickled jalapenos just a little something extra. If you like spicy hot food like me, you’ll love having a jar of these on hand in the fridge. I use them on nachos, quesadillas, sandwiches, paninis, burgers, salads, and chili. You can take an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich or burger to a whole new level simply by adding a few of these jalapeno slices.

Read original article here: Pickled Jalapeno Pepper Slices

Traditional 40′s Pinup Photos With Models Wearing High Speed Milk

There’s nothing like creative photography to make me realize how woefully inadequate my skills are. The explanation doesn’t do it justice, so click through and see how milk has replaced clothing.

London based photographer, Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz, has created a 12 month calendar inspired by retro calendars from the 1940′s pinup girl. Except the girls aren’t wearing clothes, they are wearing milk. Very fast milk. Frozen with high speed strobes, each photograph is layered from hundreds of photographs of splashes on real models using real milk.

Read original article here: Traditional 40′s Pinup Photos With Models Wearing High Speed Milk

The 7-Word Autobiographies of Famous Writers, Artists, Musicians, and Philosophers

If your familiar with LIVE from the NYPL, you’re probably familiar with Paul Hodengraber’s discussions with some of today’s more notable writers, scientists, artists, philosophers, musicians, and other luminaries. But are you familiar with his 7-word autobiography concept? Read these and then write your own; I’m working on mine.

Among Holdengräber’s signature touches are the 7-word autobiographies he asks each of his prominent guests to provide, to be read as he introduces them. Here is a selection of the best such personal micro-biographies — the literal, the abstract, the sarcastic, the poetic — from the entire run of the series so far:


Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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