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Answer: It depends.  On a lot of things.  Your transportation costs are going to be a big one.  Plane tickets, train passes, and the associated taxes, fees, and extras are going to eat up a considerable portion of your budget.  

But it’s not impossible to travel cheaply.  That’s what the point of this is.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time.  In fact, sometimes the budget trips–staying in a hostel, eating from grocery stores, and using every student discount you can get your hands on–is the most profound, fascinating trip experience.  

When planning your trip, you need to remember that there are more than just the actual trip cost.  A big chunk of change is going to be gone before you ever get to the airport.  

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Wow…this is pretty dumb.  But I’m excited, so what’s not to love?  I’ve been incredibly busy the last week or two and haven’t had much time to write.  So I finally checked my stats today, and I definitely had over 1,000 hits!  I never thought more than a hundred people would see this.  But in only three months I’ve reached over one thousand people.

It’s a pretty small number for the internet, I know, but it’s still pretty exciting.  I just had to say something.  In a year I’ll look back at this and laugh at how excited I was to hit 1 k.  Now I’ve reached my first goal: my next is to write at least every other day, and start reaching over fifty people a day on a consistent basis.

On a travel point, my trip is definitely starting to look more solid.  My chances of getting good scholarships are high, with a 31 ACT.  So that reduces my college-paying stresses.  And I have a well-paying job for the summer at a high end restaurant.  And my parents are going to help me out with my Macbook, so there’s even less money I have to spend on that.  I’m feeling pretty golden right now!

So…question for you blog-savvy people out there: what are the beset ways to increase your traffic for free?  I think I’d like to do another article on that, but I need some new tactics to write about.

Good luck on everyone’s goals, whatever they may be.  What are your travel goals?  Let me know!

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

What do you think of when you think of Australia? 

Do you think of the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Crocodile Hunter? 

Probably.  That’s about all the West knows about the country Down Under.  As Bryson points out, according to the number of Times articles appearing on each topic, “Australia is slightly more interesting than bananas.” 

That won’t last long.  In this engaging, funny book, Bryson takes (multiple) trips to Australia to try and get a glimpse of every angle of this enormous country–the only country that is also a continent, and the only continent that is also an island, by the way, as Bryson will tell you. 

He gives a ton of interesting history on Australia while he talks about his journeys through both the coasts and the bush of central Australia–wandering through each state and many of the cities as he explores what it is to be an Australian. 

The book is hilarious–I was reading it and couldn’t stop laughing; people tended to give me funny looks, but I didn’t care.  This book is too good to put down.  I learned more about Australia than I ever have.  In fact,  I don’t remember learning about it at all in either elementary or high school, and certainly not college. 

I don’t care what kind of book you like to read, I don’t care if you hate Australia or travel or nonfiction or humor or anything like that.  Read Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country.  You’ll learn about Australia, Australians, and how funny Bryson can be. You’ll be wanting to hop the next flight there.  I just discovered him a few days ago but I’m definitely going back to library for more!  Next up: Bill Bryson’s account of backpacking (kind of) through Europe for the third time in his life. 

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

I’ve been researching this, and I’ve found some decent stuff, but I would love more information on how I can attract people to my website without spending any money.

When I found out more, utilize it and find out how it works, so on, I’m going to do a blog on it.  The one thing that I often find o nthe internet is that you can find a lot of information, if you look long enough.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to have someone write down everything in one place?  That’s what I woudl like to do, but first I need to find out about all of these different methods and see how they work.

Let me know what has worked for you and I might include it on my next How-To.

Cheers, Senoritaburrito

I finally went and read some of the Stuff White People Like blogs.  They’re funny and too true.  But I don’t get why they get so many hits?  I don’t know.  I’m still new at this whole thing. 

But anyways, I thought it was a good idea so I’m going to do some shameless copying of their idea.  At least I’m not the only one.  I heard that there’s now Stuff Black People Like too, and probably others, so I’m just getting in on the game.

Stuff College Students Like #1: Other people’s ideas

College students love to find someone else’s fabulous idea and copy it.  They will add their own twist to it, but it’s basically the same thing.  They do this because a.) they’ve seen that it worked when somebody else did it, b.) it is now socially acceptable, so they feel they can do it without being chastised by peers and/or the people who came up with it in the first place, and c.) by giving it their own twist, they can feel like they’ve created their own new thing without actually having to think anything new. 

College students will often be found talking about “their” new idea like this:  “Hey, dude, I had a great idea…yeah, it’s sweet, I really think it could be something….Yeah, I got the idea from (wahtever they copied from) yeah it’s different, though.”

This occurs most often in white college students who think they’re smart and are always on the lookout for something that will make them stand out or that they can make money on without any risk.  They want other people to think they’re the inventors of the idea, so they will quite often minimize credit to the original inventors. 

I just watched Chocolat today.  I know, I’m a little behind the times.  But here’s my impression of it anyways.

Definitely better than I expected it to be.  I’d heard that it was a love story or something of the sort, so I was not looknig forward to watching it very much.  I only watched it because Johnny Depp is in it. 

It turned out to be very different, very interesting and funny.  The plot goes like this: a woman and her daughter travel all over the place, setting up chocolate shops in different palces until the mother gets restless (always traveling with the North Wind) and they move.  When they move into a conservative French village, she stirs up a lot of trouble.  She opens a chocolaterie during Lent and introduces new ideas to the hidebound old villagers through her chocolate–her archenemy is the Comte of the town, who does everything in his power to make her go away. 

I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll stop there, but a lot more happens–you’ll just have to watch it, now won’t you?  Johnny Depp, as one of my favorite actors, played a small but interesting part as a “river rat” who becomes involved with Vyenne, the main character. 

The verdict:

The movie overall has a great blend of romance, comedy, tragedy, and new beginnings that combine to make a very nice, emotional tale different and deeper than most Hollywood films that are mass-produced.  Despite being slightly predictable (what movie isn’t?) it was sweet and had a happy ending without being overly cliched.  I give it a handful of stars. 

And Johnny Depp is hot in this movie too.  How could he not be?  I wish he would have played a bigger part. 

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

Why does everyone always cover themselves with a mask?  Not literally, but in a behavioral sense.  We are always hiding our true selves from other people.  We reflect what we think they want to see from us, and it’s not us.  It’s somebody else.  It’s a mask. 

Cultural shorthand, I believe, has something to do with it.  We expect different behaviors from different people based on their role in society, and it’s no different when it comes to ourselves.  We look at a doctor, and we don’t expect him to start dancing a jig, now do we?  But if the same man were dressed in a leprechaun costume, we wouldn’t notice anything odd.  That is cultural shorthand.  And we apply this cultural shorthand to ourselves as much as we do to other people. 

I wish we wouldn’t.  It constrain people, confines them, limits them to a narrow scope in life.  Some people can break free from that narrow prison…those people are usually the ones we admire and look up to, or think “Ai, I wish I could be as cool as him/her.” Or they’re the people labeled crazy.  It depends a lot on how you look at it and what their background is.  Some people seem entitiled to be able to do whatever they want.  The very, very rich are a good example.  They can get away with giving all their money away, hoarding it, living like a homeless man, acting “eccentric,” spending it lavishly, behaving badly in public, etc. etc.  You get the idea.  But even they almost have a compulsion to do something out of the ordinary, to act strangely.  Their cultural shorthand is to scorn cultural shorthand!  You can’t get away from it.  The instant you look at someone for the first time, you are already conceiving notions about how that person should act, think, talk, dress, and so on. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why can’t we all just live how we want to, do whatever we want to?  If a doctor likes to dance a jig, why won’t he do that?  Because he would be labeled strange by the rest of society, and there goes his career. 

We even act differently around different people, depending what their station/position is in life relative to yours.  I”m not going to start singing around a complete stranger, but I might if I were around just my friends.  I’m going to be more polite and formal when I’m around older people or little kids than I would be of people my own age.  I’m even going to act differently around people from my math class than I would in my psychology class, because I know different things about them.  If I know what their grade is in that class I might act differently yet.  Everything influences how you behave. 

I don’t think that’s right.  But really, we have no choice.  If we ignore the rules of cultural shorthand, we get labeled as an outcast in society, or worse, as insane.  Try deviating a social norm for just one day and see how people treat you.  It’s rather disturbing.  Try going up to someone in a supermarket and start talking to them as they that person were your best friend.  They will become very uncomfortable, if they don’t run away. 

I just hate this.  I wish we could stop it.  I wonder how many personalities have been repressed, how many relationships unformed, how many things have gone unsaid, how many people have even died never having done what they really wanted in life.  We are so constrained, and we need to learn to break free from the bounds of our society.  Next time you see someone interesting in a store, go talk to them.  Next time you see something you want to do but know you can’t, because it wouldn’t fit in with your image (like go to Disneyworld alone when you’re thirty, jsut for a random example…) do it!  Just break out of your shell and start living your life.  Ignore what other people think about you.  It’s so hard…it’s almost impossible.  Everything you do is affected in some way by other people.  I just want people to wake up, look outside of Plato’s cave and see the blue sky!  There’s more to life than getting a raise. 

Live your dream, everyone.  It’s all you’ve got, so find it!  Do something you want to do instead of something you should do.  Walk up the road dancing and singing.  In a perfect world, nobody would look twice.  Here, you’re going to get some really funny looks. 

If you completely ignore everything else I just said, listen to this: do one thing that you want to do that doesn’t fit your image.  Just one thing.  Learn to open the box, and maybe you’ll find there’s a whole new beautiful world out there. 

Time for a snack. 

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

Just bored…and I thought other people probably are too, or they wouldn’t be reading this. The best way to cure boredom when you’re broke and have no life is to read a book. And with the way the economy is, I’m sure there are many other people broke and without a life. And then I thought, of course, that I should tell everyone about my favorite books. I would be reading right now, but I’ve read all my books. And the library is a long way away when gas is $3.32 a gallon.

If you want to read a book but can’t really find one or can’t make up your mind, I have a few suggestions for you.

If you’re looking for funny books:

Try Terry Pratchett’s series of Discworld books. The humor is along the lines of Monty Python, and if you’re into that sort of thing, they’re hilarious and also a quick, absorbing read. Very nice for airplane rides, doctor’s waiting rooms, etc. Not so great for people who don’t get British humour. You’ll think they’re dumb. My personal favorite is Going Postal. The best thing is, they’re cheap. You can go to Barnes and Noble.com and pick a few up for six or seven dollars each. I highly recommend them.

If you like King Arthur fables, read Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. There have been thousands and thousands of remakes of the Arthur story, but this one is quite ingenious. It tells the story of Merlin (Merlinnus in the book.) Stewart’s writing style is reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings books, i.e., “epic.” But extremely fascinating. In my opinion, her best book . The others in the King Arthur trilogy are alright, but this one is really, really, good.

I loved Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. It’s Mark Twain. What more can be said? Everyone should read this book. Twain writes about a man who somehow gets transported into the past–into King Arthur’s time–and supplants Merlin as the greatest wizard with his knowledge of technology. Disaster ensues. It’s funny, thoughtful, and a little sad, like most of Twain’s work. Five stars.

For literature, read Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning. It’s a beautifully-written, poetic book, like all of Amy Tan’s work. A woman’s ghost follows her friends on a trip to Burma–she died, otherwise she would have accompanied them. She observes as calamitous things happen to them. I read this book a long time ago and need to read it again. I can’t remember what exactly happens to them. This is another one of my favorite books. For a serious read, or if you like travel, this is a good book for you.

I don’t know what category John D. McDonald’s books should go into. They’re kind of a philosophical mystery thriller adventure depressing book. His Travis McGee series is based in Florida. The hero(ish) of the books, Travis McGee, lives in a houseboat, scorns civilization, and is a kind of “rescuer” of lost money. People who have been cheated out of or who have had their money stolen come to him–he will get it back, but he takes fifty percent of the profit. In every book he gets a girl–he gets a “commission”–then there are unforeseen problems–the girl gets killed–he gets beat all to hell and still wins–he goes on a depressing philosophical rant–and it ends up with him with a new scar or two and a girl shorter, but ready to tackle the next job. McDonald’s work can most closely be compared to Carl Hiaasen’s books. Like Hiaasen, he expostulates on the industrialization and commercialization of Florida. Don’t get me wrong about the sameness of the storyline. Every book is different, and fascinating, and he is a really philosophical and thoughtful. But a lot of people die in almost every book and they are intensely depressing. Expect to be in a bit of a fug after reading one of these.

Hmmm, what else can I write about…

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. You have to read this book. In search of the American Dream… in search of pie, and Red Sharks, and giant lizards, and Las Vegas, and the Vincent Black Shadow… Hunter S. Thompson wrote this as so called “gonzo journalism” after his own drug-addled trip to Las Vegas. It’s a different look at the American system and the American Dream. I don’t know how to explain it. Just read it. You’ll never think the same way about Las Vegas again.

Well, that should get you all started and I’ll be back later with some movie reviews or whatever, maybe more book reviews, or song reviews, or something review. This was kind of fun. I’ll be back anyways. Until then,

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

What is it and what’s the story?

It felt rotten inside when I looked at it, so I tried to give it away.  No one wanted it.  It was rejected again and again.  Once it escaped and rolled and rolled and it might have rolled away to freedom, but the bars of strong sunlight caught it and stopped it.  The sunlight freckling off its dimpled skin made me remember a jewel.  The brightest jewel, glowing with tropical heat in this cold dying of the world.

It was rotting inside because it had no place.  There was nowhere to go and it knew that.  In the end it hid in a prison bar of shadow, so I felt bad for it, all alone down there among the ponderous tread of the heavy, unseeing giants.  But I’d done my duty.  I already rescued the thing once.  I wouldn’t do it again.   I made someone else pluck it from the shadow, but that person just locked it in a deeper prison.  It wasn’t my fault.  It felt freedom in the light for a moment, a moment longer than most people.

Apparently just because he only has a few months left in office, our very own President Bush has decided that he can do whatever the hell he wants.  Not that anything has ever really slowed him down, but this in particular pisses me off.

He has openly declared, by vetoing this bill, that he condones torture.  this is America!  Aren’t we supposed to stand against that kind of thing?  What kind of image is he projecting to the world by doing this?  It’s been on the news all day.

My father and I got into a bit of a tiff earlier about this, in fact.  He said, “Good.  At least they’re doing something.  If they get information from those people it’s worth it.”
I was a little upset.  First, torture doesn’t mean that the people that they’re interrogating are telling the truth.  Think about it.  If you’re under torture, are you going to tell the truth, or are you going to tell your torturers what they want to hear?

Secondly, a lot of people that they interrogate don’t have anything to do with terrorist activities.  They can just pick someone up out of the countryside in Iraq and label hi ma terrorist if they so feel like it.  Not that that is particularly happening, although I’m sure it has, but it’s possible.

Third, torture is just wrong.  How can you do something like that to another living being?  No matter what someone’s done, they shouldn’t be tortured.  Other human beings don’t have any kind of a right to do that to anyone.  Who’s judgement call is it?  On who’s shoulders does the blame lie?

If you think waterboarding isn’t torture, think again.  Go look it up online.  Heck, go try it if you’re so sure that it isn’t torture.  Maybe you’ll change your opinion .

Well, there are my thoughts on the matter.  This was a despicable action on Bush’s part, and although over these eight years I’ve done my best to be fair-minded and give him a fighting chance, this is the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.  It’s a bad political move, a bad move for the morale of our country, and a bad personal move.  He couldn’t have made a worse decision if he’d tried.

Senoritaburrito

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Turtles

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