Sunday Stories for October 27th, 2013

Sunday Stories for October 27th, 2013

It’s been nice to be at home this past week, no big travel plans on the schedule for awhile, and it gave me a chance to get a least partway caught up on email and projects, while still leaving time to surf for interesting reading on the web.

A friend asked why I did this round up every week, since my selections weren’t all travel related. So, I’m providing this information for those of you might wonder the same thing, just didn’t ask the question.

While travel is my passion – my vocation and avocation – part of what makes travel so interesting to me is having an interest in the world around me. I like lots of things, from the ordinary shopping experience to the extraordinary nature experience. I like things that make me think just as much as thinks that make me laugh. This is my personal travel blog, rather than the exclusively travel magazine I own at The Travelers Way, so these diversions are just a means of showing the diversity that goes into my travel experiences.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I did.


Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan

Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan


7 Awesome Everyday Japanese Things That the Rest of the World Should Get

I loved this article, and agree with so much of it, especially after two visits to Japan in the past year. On my first visit to Tokyo, I was a bit awe struck at how much I didn’t know about the country, but by the return from my second trip to Japan, I was wondering how to import some of these ideas myself. Take a look and see which idea you think has merit.

Part of me expected to be regularly awed by Japan’s wild inventions like pancake-making robots, and bizarre vending machines that sell everything imaginable. Instead, I’ve found that it’s the little things about Japan that impress me the most; the simple innovations that make everyday life significantly more efficient, as well as the frivolous products that are so completely awesome I can’t figure out why they haven’t caught on in the West.

Read original article here: 7 Awesome Everyday Japanese Things That the Rest of the World Should Get

These Were Made With a Simple Pair of Scissors

Do you remember those scissor designs we made in grade school. The ones where you folded the paper in half and then started cutting, creating a masterpiece that, when unfolded, looked like a snowflake. Or something. Well, just think what we could have created with this kind of talent – truly stunning designs.

Devils Tower Pictures | Devils Tower National Monument

This author of this story may only have vague memories of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but for my generation it was a defining sci-fi film. It was also the first time I’d ever heard of this rock formation in the middle of nowhere. This photo essay helps capture a bit of its majesty.

That said, photos can’t really do justice to the sheer mass of the tower, nor can it capture the multitude of colors that make up the tower, a strange jumble of moss green and brick red from the algae growing on it beige rock. At sunrise and sunset the tower seems set on fire, brilliantly red and unlike anything else I’ve ever had a chance to see.

A beach is a beautiful thing

A beach is a beautiful thing

22 Things I’ve Learned as a Digital Nomad

Becoming a digital nomad, location independent, globetrotter without a home, is not something I aspire to. I like the creatures comforts of a home, family, and neighborhood that I can come back to. But I know that it is appealing to a lot of people – whether to dream about or to create a plan to make it work. This is one of the most realistic articles I’ve read about creating a plan to become a digital nomad.

Luckily, I’ve known for a long time that the vision of life outside the real world wasn’t ‘hanging out’ on a tropical island. The vision was to build the structure that would guarantee freedom to define and execute my own goals.

This is the coolest world map, ever

The key to having fun with this world map is to realize that it was designed with fun and humor in mind. That said, can you note a little bit of truth in that humor?

A new world map created by comic website Doghouse Diaries highlights what each country around the world leads at. And the results are bound to raise a few eyebrows.

Books from Coast to Coast

And if you didn’t have fun with the map above, try out this one that identifies the most famous book set in every state. Note the emphasis on “famous” not “best” and see if you think your state selection matches up. Here in Washington that would be Twilight. And in Alabama, it’s my all time favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird.

What do you think about the book designated for your state? And which ones are inspiring you to gas up the car and set out on a road trip?

dark night with moon

What the Night Sky Would Look Like If the Other Planets Were as Close as the Moon

The night sky has always fascinated me. Last weekend I had a chance to sit in on a presentation at the planetarium of a local community college, and it once again amazed me at how dramatic our universe really is. That’s probably why these illustrations caught my eye, but even if you’re not quite as in awe of space as I am, the renderings should provide a moment (or two) of pause. And hey, get a look at Saturn!

Space artist Ron Miller has created a series of images that illustrate the sizes of the other planets in our solar system in a way that makes them a bit more accessible, showing what they would look like if they were 240,000 miles away — the approximate distance of the moon from the Earth.

13 Starbucks Hacks You Might Not Know

I don’t know if these hacks are true or not, but there are those who swear that they will help you get more bang for your buck. If you’ve tried anyone of them successfully, let me know in the comments.

These 5 Posts Will Increase Your Facebook Engagement Overnight

I hate these kind of titles implying that there’s a key to overnight success. But just ignore the title and dig into some of the ideas, and see if there’s something you can adapt to improve your social media engagement.

The ONLY way to capture the attention of your fans is to publish great posts that entice them to engage. Here are 5 posts that will do that.

How To Watch Downton Abbey Season 4 in the U.S.!

I’m late to Downton Abbey fandom. I watched the first season on my flight to Dublin in September. I watched the second season while traveling around Ireland, and the third season on the flight back to Seattle. Yeah, I’m hooked, and now understand what all the buzz has been about. I’m having a tough time holding out for season four to start here in the U.S., but now it looks like there are some hacks that won’t make me wait. What do you think – should we jump right into season four?

I know everyone is excited about the new season starting September 22, 2013 at 9pm in the UK! After last years disappointing season, I know we are all anxious for a bit of happiness, right?  Hopefully, nobody will die this season.  That would be amazing. What do you think will happen?!



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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