Global Perspectives

‘Icelandic girl wins right to use given name’

BBC News link – ‘Icelandic girl Blaer wins right to use given name’

Wow! So interesting how language “laws” can dictate something so personal as naming a child! Go Blaer!

Blaer Bjarkardottir

Blaer and her mother, Bjork
Retrieved 1-31-2013 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21280101

 

 

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Categories: Global Perspectives, Loopy Languages | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

‘German teenager who flew to Red Square’

BBC News link – ‘Mathias Rust: German teenager who flew to Red Square’

How fantastically odd! I’ve never read of this until now. Thanks again, BBC!

Archive photo - 1987Retrieved 12/6/2012 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20609795

Rust’s Red Square flight. Archive photo – 1987
Retrieved 12-6-2012 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20609795

MY Red Square Flight. Archive photo - circa 2011!

MY Red Square flight. Archive photo – 2011!

Categories: From Russia with Love, Global Perspectives | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

‘The media mix-up that ruined my life’

BBC News link – ‘The media mix-up that ruined my life’

Amazing story of an Iranian woman whose life was turned upside down by the Facebook-pillaging media…

I see this as yet another reason to verify and cite your sources!

Neda Soltani and Neda Agha-Soltan

Neda Soltani and Neda Agha-Soltan; Retrieved 11-14-12 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20267989

Categories: Global Perspectives | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Wine Packing 101

Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #5:

And by request, a step-by-step guide to packing your precious wine bottles for the long trek home in your checked luggage! These tips also work for other sorts of liquids in glass bottles (e.g., spirits, sodas, mineral water, etc.). Of course there are professional methods of packing a bottle, but we travelers take what we can get. And that usually means junk and dirty clothes.

1. Gather your basic items:

  • Paper products (local newspapers, old magazines, extra brochures, tissue paper from purchases)
  • Masking/duct tape (packed courtesy of Travel Tip Tuesday #3!)
  • Dark scarves and clothes
  • Plastic bags
  • Tenderly chosen bottle of wine

    1. a packing potpourri.

2. Place your wine bottle into one of the plastic bags and wrap extensively with tape. This layer is the best protection for the other items in your bag in case there does happen to be a crack in the bottle. Better to throw away a wet plastic bag than your whole suitcase of ruined clothes!

2. bagged and taped.

3. Wrap and tape a thick layer of paper around the neck and mouth of the bottle. This gives a little extra cushioning to the narrowest and most delicate part.

3. a neck pillow!

4. Liberally wrap and tape the paper all the way from the mouth to the punt (that conic indentation in the bottom!). Go ahead and overdo it.  Tape it horizontally and vertically. The layers should feel very thick and spongy and will begin to resemble a very bizarre potato/baseball bat.

4. looking awfully weird.

5. Put the entire contraption in another plastic bag and tape your heart out. At this point I begin to feel like a tape maniac… taping faster and faster, eyes bulging, palms sweating. It’s quite a scene.

5. potato, complete.

6. Lovingly wrap your bottle in an item of clothing. Make it a dark piece in case, heaven forbid, your suitcase goes through a tornado and there is some staining. I prefer scarves because they are easy to wrap around an item a few times while not getting too bulky.

6. hush, little baby, don’t say a word…

swaddled.

7. In keeping with the theme of cushiony layers, place your baby into another item of (dirty) clothing like a sweatshirt or pair of jeans.

7. dirty jeans. I’m fine with it.

8. Pack the bottle into your checked luggage with your other clothes. Put it somewhere in the middle of the suitcase in a horizontal position so the bottle will then be standing vertically and upright when the suitcase is stood on its wheels. Don’t put any heavy objects to the side of the bottle that will then be “on top” when the suitcase is stood up. Make sure you surround the bottle on the left, right, bottom, and top with clothes. Your suitcase will surely be thrown around so provide as much padding as you can!

8. are we there yet?

9. When you finally get home and, crossing your fingers, open your suitcase, you can easily cut away the layers with a pair of scissors.

9. feels like Christmas morn.

Good luck!

Categories: Airport Aid, Global Perspectives, Tourism Trinkets, Traveling Tip Tuesdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Save the kitties!

Yahoo! News link – “Et tu Fluffy? Rome weighs evicting cat shelter”

“Heritage experts” want to close the cat sanctuary in Rome! Che vergogna! I always loved watching the cats preen and prance around when our on-site classes met near Largo Argentina. Don’t let the multitudes be ousted, Romans!

Chad and me enjoying a moment’s repose of the feline sort

Categories: Global Perspectives, Mi manca Roma!, Tourism Trinkets | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

money, money, money, money, etc.

Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #4:

Worried about your money situation while abroad? You’re not alone. Being stranded without cash is one of my biggest fears! Luckily for me (and my flummoxed family members), getting funds fast is becoming quite convenient.

3% foreign transaction fee shown listed on a credit card’s pricing information sheet. yuck.

Stores in many popular destinations (and some not-so-popular ones) are becoming more and more accepting of credit cards. Thus, taking a deep look into your current financial institution’s policies is a boring yet helpful place to start your travel prep. Call your credit card company to verify what type of foreign transaction fees are in place. The most common fee is 3% of the transaction amount (…purchasing in another currency? the 3% fee is after conversion to U.S. dollars). For example, if you have your eye on a 100€ purse in Rome, the current conversion to USD is $1.28 for every 1€. Your purse would therefore cost you $128 plus 3% of this total ($128 + $3.84 = $131.84). As you can see, the fee is not so extreme for a few gifts. It is also safer than carrying around the same amount in cash for only shopping.

Speaking of cash, gathering some foreign currency while you’re still in the States sometimes works.. but sometimes doesn’t. The ATM is becoming an über common occurrence in many countries. First thing’s first: contact your bank and check out the fees for foreign ATM usage… and not just the fee for using another bank’s ATM! Make sure there are no sneaky fees for using ATMs internationally. Of course, there are those horror stories about travelers using rogue ATMs in airports and touristy areas and then getting an extra fee charged by that exact ATM. So far, I have never experienced this type of fee because 1) I’m lucky?… 2) I first scan the machine for any posting of an ATM-imposed fee, and 3) I try to ask a native which ATM is operated by the most well-known bank. Personally, I always hit the row of ATMs in the airport as soon as I land. Having cash to pay for a bottle of water and a taxi is surely worth the $1 ATM fee my bank charges and the risk of a trivial fee by the ATM.

The 10 Georgian Lari I keep in my purse at all times! Even in Pennsylvania! You never know…

An invaluable tip is this: tell you bank and credit card companies WHERE and WHEN you are traveling. It is necessary to put notes on accounts so debit and credit cards are not blocked based on “unusual or suspicious activity” (thanks, mom, for explaining to the bank that I actually was in Kazakhstan! No stolen card numbers here!). On a few occasions I have reached my final destination all sweaty and jetlagged to then frustratingly find out that my debit card is not working in the ATM (Welcome to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport!). Thank goodness I told my bank where and when I was traveling beforehand. I fortunately was able to send an email to my dad and he contacted the bank from home. He told me later that if I had not told the bank about my travels then I would have needed to personally call and verify such transactions. What a mess that could have been!

A seriously wise international shopper would know her options when it comes to choosing credit cards and checking accounts. There are several credit card companies and smaller banks that offer credit cards with 0% foreign transactions fees (complementary plug for Somerset Trust Company of Somerset, PA! Thanks for hiring me as a bank teller! I learned a lot! Keep up the awesomely cheap products for travelers and great customer service!). Also, many banks and credit unions offer fee-free ATM usage or will reimburse any fees that may occur. Shop around online for accounts that work for you!

The best tip I’ve learned for making purchases in shops and grocery stores abroad is to use my debit card as a credit card (make sure your card is embossed with either the Visa or Mastercard logo and that you check the daily limits on in-store purchases [usually around $2,000]). My bank does not charge a fee when the debit card is used in stores so I bypass both the ATM fees for unnecessary cash withdrawals AND any 3% credit card transaction fee nonsense. No fees! Ta-da!

Categories: Airport Aid, Global Perspectives, I. WANT. MONEY., Traveling Tip Tuesdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Aral Sea. Or what’s left of it.

Al Jazeera World link – “People of the Lake”

Bodies of water have always fascinated me… But disappearing seas? It has been difficult for me to follow the changes to this former fourth-largest-lake-in-the-world because it’s rarely in mainstream English-speaking media (Keeping Up with the Kardashians in your weekly TV programming? Nay… Keeping Up with the Kazakhs sounds much more newsworthy). Finally, this Al Jazeera video is an interesting look at the destruction of the sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and the effects on land features, public health, and the economy. This is what governments are willing to do for the sake of money. Very bizarre.

1989 and 2008 (image retrieved 10/29/12 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aral_Sea)

Categories: Global Perspectives, Kazakhstan please!, Tourism Trinkets | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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