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Lakaw is a journey is a step is a move. I love to travel around the world and this is my travel and travel gadget site. Welcome and Enjoy!

1 comments | Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I am inside the South Dakota State University Briggs Library, right now.

The Hilton M. Briggs library is spacious and, most of the time, it offers the best place to study and to get the homework done. For those in the graduate school (MSc and PhD students), the graduate student computer laboratory might be the room for you. It is connected to the university’s licensed software like SAS for statistics. It has its own printer and scanner too.

In normal days, the room isn’t filled with students. However, during the final week, the 10 PCs are never free. Getting a space could be a problem. Getting the room free from noise is the biggest problem!

Today, 4 American guys are discussing their Statistics assignment like crazy, inside the computer lab, without minding other students around, without thinking they are with a Filipino who might put a bomb inside their mouths to stop them from uttering another single loud word, silence them once and for all. Among the 4, this Chinese/Korean/Japanese looking guy is the noisiest. Dude, shut up!

I am not even sure if they are graduate students, nobody checks the ID at the door. There should be a policy of checking IDs and making sure only grad students could access the lab. Americans with earsplitting mouths must be sent away!

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0 comments | Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I should make a travel itinerary, since I travel a lot. I should list all the sites I plan to visit so I could also budget my finances. Did I tell you that I have a bank card intended for travel expenses only? This is my way of monitoring my expenses. It is working for me!

One place not to miss this summer is the W.H. Stark House, a Victorian landmark in Orange Texas. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission, this house was built in 1894 on a 14,000 square-foot area.

The Stark House was opened for public tours on February 10, 1981, and it remains open currently for public tours, allowing visitors to view the Stark family’s original furnishings and personal effects, as well as rare 18th and 19th century decorative arts.

If you are into antique collections, this is the place for you. The original owners and occupants of The W.H. Stark House, William Henry Stark and Miriam Melissa Lutcher Stark, were both avid collectors. The impressive collection includes American Brilliant Period cut glass, antique porcelains, a rare copy of the Napoleon death mask, a one-of-a-kind tea service, and many more unique pieces.

When you visit the place, tours are available. From the one-of-a-kind sterling silver tea service on the First Floor to the rare Napoleon death mask on the Third Floor, each level of the Stark House offers an extraordinary glimpse at the lifestyle of the prominent timber family who occupied it from 1894-1936. Visitors who tour the home will also have the opportunity to view the items displayed in the Carriage House.

The next time you will be in Texas, visit the W.H. Stark House, a unique testament to Texas’ social history.

There are photo galleries representing not only the highlights of the tour but also some views not seen by visitors to the home that you can view from their site.



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What's in the smell of vinegar?

Pinoys love vinegar that it is in fact one of the main ingredients of the popular adobo, along with soy sauce. Vinegar play a role in "sawsawan" too. Isn't it exquisitely good to dip a freshly fried "dried fish" to a hot chili-filled vinegar sauce? Yummy!

But why do foreigners dislike its smell? Is it because it smells like a vaginal odor? LOL. Or is it because it smells like one of those toilet cleansing liquid?

I really do not know! Tell me.

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0 comments | Monday, April 28, 2008

My housemate is looking for a pair of khaki pants. He is going for a hiking trip next month. I may suggest LA Police Gear shop. It is a business founded by, yes, policemen from L.A. Thus, the name.

The business has grown and changed greatly over the years and now serves the general public, military personnel, security professionals, and of course police officers!

What can one get buying from them? Only three important factors: extremely fast shipping, low prices, and outstanding service! What more can one ask for?

LA Police Gear is the answer to the need for khaki pants and 5.11 tactical pants!

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0 comments | Sunday, April 27, 2008

I thought of sharing the recipes I learned while living away from home. This is the Creamy Soup Recipe as Talksmart learns how to cook foreign food!

This Creamy Soup is good for dinner while a snow storm is bothering outside. Yeah, I forced myself to learn this since there was really nothing to do inside the house during a blizzard warning in Brookings.

Enjoy the soup.

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0 comments | Friday, April 25, 2008

I had to wade through 5 inches of snow going to the office this afternoon. It is supposed to be spring season in Brookings, South Dakota. But the weather doesn't say so.
A couple of days ago, it felt like spring has finally arrived, with the blooms starting to appear. Opps, wrong. As my American friends jokingly said "There is no spring in Brookings".

They are probably right. At this time of the year, Brookings should have been enjoying sun-shinny days. But ridiculously, blizzard/severe winter storm warnings were up the whole day. Snow plus strong wind is equal to a terrible day outside. Blizzards have created a dangerous condition. Vehicles were warned of icy slash slippery slash risky roads. The roads were not shoveled promptly and pathways too.

I walked from home to the office with my head a little bowed to cover my face from the raging snow falling somewhat sideways. It was a terrible flight. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life ever!

Wishing tomorrow would be fine...

I want sunshine. I want greens. I want spring.

Here are photos of the Brookings blizzard.




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Canada is one of the countries that amazes me. Maybe because of its rich history or because it is one of the closest allies of the United States. Or maybe because I heard so many great stories from Filipino friends who had migrated to the country.

I am in the USA and a Filipino. Going to Canada still requires a visa. After I have toured the 51 States of America, Canada is my target. How much is the cost to travel to Canada?

A friend suggested I should check out DialAFlight. It is one of the UK’s top travel companies offering cheap flights, hotels, car hire, city breaks holidays, and travel insurance to help travelers create the perfect all-inclusive trip to any worldwide destination.

I visited the site and was amazed at how low the deals could get. Very affordable Flights to Canada indeed, even for students.

DialAFlight also has more than six million cheap discount flights to a wide range of destinations around the world. Whatever you need - the best economy or business class flight fares, DialAFlight has the best deal, compared to other online travel sites I visited.


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Bloggers want to receive immediate feedback from readers.
I have been searching for a free rating code or a widget that visitors can use to rate my posts. I want something that doesn't need an expertise on html coding and that I can embed easily on my blog.

I found one. The outbrain widget.

The outbrain widget is free and is very simple to add to your Blogger, TypePad, WordPress (hosted) or Drupal blogs. After adding the widget, it will automatically insert a beautiful 5-star rating widget to the bottom of every post you publish:

Curious to know what your readers think about your content? Add the rating widget now.

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0 comments | Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tag watches are luxury watches. Are you wearing one?
I haven't had any luxury wristwatch since. The most expensive watch I had so far was around US$150.00 (around P7000.00). That was precious to me already. Owning a luxury watch will be a dream come true.

I want something that will fit my "travel" attitude, something that could go along any type of trail - smooth or rough. I found one: the IWC Ingenieur Chronograph AMG Automatic Mens' Watch Titanium. It is a picture of perfection from the inside out. The maker IWC is known in making luxury watches using recent technological advancements.

Here are more info of the Ingenieur Chronograph AMG Automatic Mens' Watch Titanium:

Gender/Size: Men's
Case: Titanium
Bracelet/Strap: Titanium
Crown: Screw in
Dial Color: Black
Subdial Color: Black
Subdial Use: Stopwatch functions
Hand Indicators: Luminous and red sweep seconds
Hour Markers: Applied Arabic numerals
Crystal: Anti-reflective scratch resistant sapphire
Movement: Automatic self-winding
Power Reserve: 44 hours
Case Width: 42.5 mm
Case Thickness: 13.5 mm
Clasp Type: Push button foldover
Water Resistant: To 120 meters (400 ft)
Model # Alias: 3725-03

Other Info: Soft Iron inner casing protects against magnetic fields. Patented IWC Bracelet system can be easily sized - no special tool or screwdrivers necessary. The red highlights on the dial & an engraving on the back cover testifies to the partnership between Mercedes-AMG and IWC.

The original price of this luxury watch is a whooping $7,100. However, at watchery.com, it is only offered at $4,395. That is a saving of $2,705 (38%)! Great deal for a great wristwatch.

Purchasing the watch will mean getting to choose another one (up to $725 MSRP) for FREE. Whoopee!

Grab a luxury watch for yourself!

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I was browsing for some graduate study links online and found an interesting post from The Chronicle about the declining number of American Ph.D. degree holders. What is the trend? The U.S. is luring foreigners into taking graduate studies. You most likely notice it in action with all the foreign students eagerly wanting to get their graduate degrees in SDSU. But why the decline? Why would a young American hate science and brush aside the big opportunity of having a Ph.D. degree?

The answer is simple: it does not pay! Here are some statistics between 1993 and 2001 as gathered by E. Rubenstein, a financial analyst, economics journalist and consultant:

• The number of U.S. citizens enrolled in graduate science and engineering programs fell 10 percent

• The number of foreign citizens enrolled in graduate science and engineering programs rose 26 percent

• The number of engineering Ph.D.s awarded to U.S. citizens rose from 1,887 in 1987 to 3,516 in 1996. But in 2002, only 1,890 engineering Ph.D.s were awarded to U.S. citizens

• Non-citizens received 32 percent of all science Ph.D.s awarded in 2002, up from 24 percent in 1987

• Non-citizens received 61 percent of engineering Ph.D.s awarded in 2002, up from 55 percent in 1987

The current data suggests that the new predictions may fare no better than earlier ones.

I could see clearly the real reason why Americans hesitate to study science and engineering - pursuing an advanced degree is a bad investment! A Ph.D. for instance: their wage premium while pursuing graduate study is not high enough to compensate for the five years of foregoing an industry salary.

According to Daniel S. Greenberg, an author and writer at The Washington Post, the failure of more Americans to pursue science studies can in part be attributed to poor high school and college programs for nurturing scientific talent. But the much-lamented turn away from science also reflects sound economic calculation. The post-college route to a science Ph.D. usually takes five to seven years. Postdoctoral fellowships, now a commonplace requirement for most academic and many industrial jobs, run for two to three years. Postdoctoral wages only average around $35,000 a year, without benefits. With this remuneration in mind, for Americans, pursuing a doctorate in science or engineering could initiate a net lifetime financial damage.

For foreigners, on the other hand, an American science or engineering degree remains attractive, relative to their options at home. Ask any scientifically talented foreign student from a developing country, and you would get an answer that a career obtained in the United States is a wondrously tempting opportunity. This is why foreign students come in droves and prefer to make their careers in the United States.

However, the U.S. may not have to worry too much in this so-called crisis, as those foreign citizens who received their Ph.D.s' are more likely to stay in the U.S., according to the National Science Foundation report. Therefore, they still play a major role in the American science and technology development.

There may be a decline or shortage of American Ph.D.s, but the U.S. research or scientific enterprise is still flourishing as seen in the eyes of the foreign nationals. I think Americans should be glad of this mixture of foreign and homegrown talents on their lands. The crisis may not sound good, but at least you make the future of these foreign students from third-world countries brighter. Just think of that.

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1 comments | Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sedona Method. It is called the Bridge between "TheSecret" and "A New Earth". Sounds interestin huh! Read more.

The Sedona Method is a self-help technique developed by a physicist and successful entrepreneur Lester Levenson after a serious heart attack nearly ended his life. Lester regained his health and attributed his renewed positive outlook to a process of self-inquiry of one's beliefs and related emotions.

The process is designed to examine any emotion that one is experiencing and then "let it go" or release it in the moment. The basic premise is that all emotions naturally come and go out of experience unless one resists them.

The Sedona Method is sweeping the planet. A lot of good testimonies have been shared at how this unique, elegant, simple-to-master and very powerful tool uncovers the natural ability to "let go" of painful, unwanted, counterproductive feelings.

I tried to search for more examples of the amazing benefits the tool can achieve. Here are a few:

* Let Go of Anger
* Rapidly Improve Your Relationships
* Achieve Your Greatest Career Goals
* Eliminate Stress for GOOD
* Release Yourself from Guilt and Low Self Esteem
* Find Inner Peace and Nurture Your Spirituality
* Achieve Your Financial Goals and Experience Financial Abundance
* Stop Overeating and Finally Achieve the Health and Fitness You Desire
* Experience Boundless Energy & Be a Sound Sleeper
* Let Go of Anxiety & Fear
* Free Yourself from the Grips of Depression Forever
* End Bad Habits and Overcome Serious Addictions

Get your own dose of happiness set point. Try The Sedona Method - The Secret works with A New Earth.

If you want your FREE Sedona Method DVD and CD, all you need to do is sign-up for free by filling out a form, and your free DVD and CD will be mailed to your home.



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Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence.

One from the Philippines, another from Mexicoand an American.

They go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The American contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. Well," he says. "I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Mexican contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, "I can do $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Filipino contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers: "$2,700."

The official, incredulous, says, "What? You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure? How do you expect me to consider your service with that bid?

"Easy," the Pinoy explains, "$1,000 for you, $1,000 for me and we hire the guy from Mexico".

The next day, the Pinoy and the Mexican are working on the Fence.

****
Filipino Jokes
****

Q.What's the difference between corruption in the USand corruption in the
Philippines?

A. In the U.S.they go to jail. In the Philippines, they go to the U.S.



Q. What`s the difference among Philippine Presidents Cory, Gloria and Erap?

A. Cory can`t tell a lie
Gloria can`t tell the truth
Erap can`t tell the difference


REPORTER: Sir, kung wala po kayong evidence, witness or suspect ano na po ang next step ninyo?
Police: DNA na...
REPORTER: sir, ano po yung DNA?
Police: "Di Namin Alam "

"Naglalakad ang mag-ama, nakakita ng eroplano
ANAK: Tay! Krus! Ang laking krus!
TATAY(Binatukan ang anak): Nakita mo ng krus eh! Lumuhod tayo!"

bobo1: Pare, alam mo ba tawag sa paniki na mababa ang lipad?
bobo2: hindi eh! ano ba pare?
bobo1: Lowbat pare! Lowbat!

TEACHER: Anong similarity nina Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Ninoy Aquino at Apolinario Mabini?
STUDENT: Ma'am, pagkaka-alam ko po, silang lahat ay pinanganak ng holiday!

ERAP: Soli ko tong nabili kong DVD.
FPJ: Anong problema?
ERAP: Walang picture, tsaka sound. Sayang. Suspense thriller pa yata to.
Tsk, tsk...
FPJ: Anong title?
ERAP: "The Lens Cleaner"

PROMDI: Lam ko promdi lang ako kaya wag mo kong lolokohin! Bakit ganito ang
kwarto ko? Maliit, wala pang kamaat bintana..... ha?
ROOMBOY: Sir, nasa elevator pa lang po tayo...

Jun-Jun: Inay! Ako lang ang nakasagot sa tanong ng titser namin kanina!
Inay: Very good! Ano ba ang tanong ng titser ninyo?
Jun-Jun: "Sino ang walang assignment?"

Titser: Ano ang hugis ng mundo?
Juan: Kuwadrado po, maam!
Titser: Hindi! Ang mundo ay bilog.
Juan: Pero maam, sabi ng lolo ko, narating na niya ang APAT na sulok ng mundo. May sulok po ba ang bilog?

Boss asks sexy secretary to a dinner after overtime: Are you free tonight? The sexy secretary replies: Sir, ha... huwag naman, FREE... Bibigyan na lang kita ng discount!

Eliseo: Sobra na talaga ang katangahan ng kumare mo. Ang akala niya, ang LAWSUIT ay uniporme ng pulis!
Robert: Sus! Tanga nga! Eh di ba, uniporme ng abugado yun?

Don't forget to leave your comments below. If you want to read and laugh more, there are more jokes here.
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0 comments | Monday, April 21, 2008

My friend sent me an email warning about the "Postcard Virus". I did a little search and found out that the "Postcard Virus" is a hoax. So if you get an email like the one below, don't mind it. It is a hoax email.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND CONTACTS!

You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open any message with an attachment entitled "POSTCARD," regardless of who sent it to you. It is a virus which opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, which 'burns' the whole hard disc C of your computer. This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list. This is the reason why you need to send this e-mail to all your contacts.

If you receive a mail called" POSTCARD," even though sent to you by a friend, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately.

This is the worst virus announced by CNN. It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Drive.
Last note: It is always important to be able to distinguish between the real threats and the bogus ones. Also, protect your PC against viruses by maintaining an updated antivirus software.

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2 comments | Sunday, April 20, 2008

The popular Friendster social network is becoming like Facebook. And I hate it.
Since I became a member of Friendster in December 2003, I have accumulated 511 friends so far, mostly from the Philippines where this networking is thriving like crazy.

What I initially like about Friendster is its simplicity and, thus, easy to navigate. It is easy to find where my friends' links are or where to post a comment or how to edit my blog and profile. Social networking neophytes will find it user-friendly.

However, lately, Friendster has been introducing so many add-ons. It seems to me it is to follow its competitor Facebook in terms of the number of application widgets on its site.

Facebook is messy. I was forced to have a Facebook account due to a number of American friends who are aliens to Friendster. Facebook is America's social networking, next to MySpace. Those who have Facebook accounts could testify that it is full of applications that make the pages confusing. It takes hours of browsing and disappointments to finally get used to it.

Friendster is about to make its pages confusing too with the introduction of its own add-ons. This truth is making me so annoyed since I received more than 10 application invites every week, flooding/spamming my inbox.

Here are samples of Friendster applications:

BuboMe - Bubo yours or your friends photos, add themes, speech and thought bubbles. Be the celebrity or superhero you always wanted to be, and show it to your friends. There are hundreds of themes to choose from, come create some fun photos!

Emote - Bored, Happy, Glum? We've got an ever growing list of emoticons to show off how you feel. We keep adding them, so check back all the time =).Show off how you feel with a billion icons. It's your status message on steroids!

Amazing Slideshows - Create cool slideshows for your profile. Tons of customization options: themes, transitions, backgrounds, and music (from Chris Brown to Britney Spears)! It's easy and fun, give it a try.

Quizzes - Quizzes a fun way to learn about friends and other topics including movies, music...

Astrology Love Scope - What is in your love life? Find out with this specialized astrology widget!

Are You in Love? - Is it true love? Take the quiz and find out if you're in love! Maybe you're just crushing. Maybe you're just lonely. Take the quiz and find out!

Addicted to Prison Break - Watch Prison Break? Give some love to your favorite characters, pictures & quotes on your profile. Inside the application, you'll be able to meet other fans, chat, and view all pictures and quotes.

SpeedTyping - How fast can you type? Try this challenging game to see how you match up with others around the world. If you're fast enough, then you just might get listed in the high scores. Can you reach the top and stay there?

Likeness - Find out who you're like! Compare yourself with friends and movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Keira Knightley, and many more. Can you find a perfect match?

imeem - Add playlists, songs, videos, and photos to your profile! Browse our directory to find some cool content for your page, or add your own stuff.

GameDesire Games - +70 multiplayer online games. Snooker, pool, texas holdem poker, chess, mahjong, backgammon, dice, dominoes, word games and card games. +10000 players online in the same time.

Jewel Miner - The Gold Miner's niece, Julie, has her own game! You've never seen a matching game with this much excitement!

MyMiniLife - 3-D MiniHome! Build, furnish, and decorate your pad with thousands of hot items from the marketplace, then give a house tour to all your friends. Vote for the coolest houses and prosper on the booming virtual estate market. No moving trucks required.

And a lot more! Friendster should stop this move of application boom. Facebook has been receiving comments about the irritating applications on its pages. Friendster should learn from it!

I am hating Friendster!

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My mom has dry eyes. Once in a while I see her with excess tears running down her cheeks. Sounds confusing huh! Dry eyes yet tears are flowing. According to experts, this condition happens when the eye isn't getting enough lubrication. The eye sends a distress signal through the nervous system for more lubrication. In response, the eye is flooded with tears to try to compensate for the underlying dryness.

I was thinking of getting mom a Lasik surgery but it might be very expensive. Browsing online led me to Acuvue Oasys, the #1 lens in America.

Acuvue Oasys (commonly referred to as Acuvue Oasis) contact lenses are a breakthrough in comfortable contact lenses. They utilize the Hydraclear Plus technology to help eyes stay moist and fresh.

What is good about the lenses is that they won't change the color of your eye. Your eyes will look as if you're not wearing any lens at all. This is good for those who are conscious about it.

I have read a review of the lens from a 50 year old who says her vision feels like in her 30's. Others stop putting drops in their eyes after using Acuvue Oasys.

I might purchase Acuvue Oasys direct from 1-800-GET-LENS to save time and money. By the way, this lens is also good for those in tedious computer screen environments all the time.

Mom, here comes your lens.
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0 comments | Saturday, April 19, 2008

It is the time of year that creatures big and small come out of hiding. Spring is the season that everyone, including those we think are insignificantly small, begins to savor. Moderate temperature and sun shining, there is more to like about the season that hate.
Since anything affects everything, you cannot take for granted the co-existence of the ladybugs that like to stay in your house.

Ladybugs are the little red bugs (are they beetles?) that appear on window panes and door frames. Ladybugs are insects that, as scientists say, are useful tiny species for they fed on garden pests like aphids.
With that, I allowed them to invade my house. They are everywhere, even landing unexpectedly in my bowl of soup. Damn, I almost ate one!
Ladybugs will linger for awhile. They maybe irritating most of the time, but they decorate my windows with red dots. I just have to live with them. Is there any other option by the way?

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0 comments | Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sometimes ladies should not be trusted, even if they are your friends, even if they are so close to your heart.

They say one thing and do another thing. They will break your heart at some point.

Last Saturday, my trust with the ladies was tested. I believed in their words - in a promise, which in the end, turned out to be hollow.

The consequence was devastating. I missed a very important evening business appointment online. I was irritated and flaming with disappointment.

But I usually don't bear grudge. It takes only a day to calm me down and get me back to my normal senses. Yet, today, the ladies pinched my heart painfully all over again.

Ladies should be loved. But if loving makes your heart bleed profusely, it is time to give up and let go.

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Travel with a cell phone. This is a requirement for trippers. Even if you think you will be roaming in so remote a place, still bring a cell phone with you. You will never know somewhere behind the dead spots is a bit of phone signal that you can tap whenever the need calls.

Bring a durable phone, something that can resist the hottest or coldest of temperatures, depending of where you are. Check the free cell phones site for that. They sell the best phone deals online. Order one that you need for your travel.

Unexpected things can happen anytime. It is always good to tag along a device that may make the difference in your life. Cheers to the cell phones!
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0 comments | Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Portions of the vast fields patterned with black cows, patches of waterholes every now and then, rugged terrains devoid of vertical objects except for the catenary power cables that line the sideways of the highway - the Nebraska terrain is a graphic description of what deprivation of structural development is all about. The radio hiss is reminiscent of an ailing snake about to die in the middle of a sterile land, unable to detect the tiniest free FM radio frequency around. "Smoke gets in your eyes" graces the rather flavorless local AM radio station; a yesteryear song that I had last heard when a Filipino friend got drunk and boxed by hoodlums for grabbing the microphone inside a karaoke slash ladies-dancing-topless bar.
My Ukrainian friend Val calls the Nebraska moment as the wild, wild, west endless torture for road trippers. Deprived of an iPod (how could we have missed that), seeking a radio signal becomes a necessity, and when finally something is detected, it only permits a short relief and then retracts to the silence that kills. Just when our smiles reach the ears and we begin to sing along, the bliss is cut short again by the sound of static behind the next bend. Crap, Val says. Damn, I say.

It was our first road trip. Early that day, we packed some clothes, containers of mineral water and snatched some overnight food from the fridge, then hit the road for more than 15 hours of driving. Val and I decided to do just that, bolted the often-times dreadful weather of Brookings and headed to Moab, Utah, for the National Arches Park. We thought of lazing the weekend in a place where the season of spring is defined by a pleasant temperature, hiking, and a breeze that one could only wish that everything will last forever.
The journey from Denver to Moab changed my perception of road trips. Forget about the Nebraska part - the sceneries that transpired right before my eyes as we traversed the slopes near Denver were essentials for neo-phyte trippers to seeing the bigger picture of what road trips should be. It is not always about the annoying traffic or the come-and-go radio signal or the frequent breaks at rest areas for bathroom runs, road trips offer natural lures that are undeniable and most likely perpetual. There is richness to navigating the landscapes an inch at a time that is lacking from the ordeal of climbing into a plane and climbing out at your destination.
The more than an hour climb and descent on the mountain ranges near Denver were purely scenic. However, warnings of a six or seven-degree grade bothered us both when the weather turned sour at high altitudes. Snow began to fall, making the roads icy. We did have few little whirls from time to time. As we didn't want to wind up stranded on the side of the road, equidistant to the four corners of nowhere, Val exercised his motor skills to the fullest as our two-wheel drive car raced side by side with mostly SUVs. But it took only a couple of deep breaths for us to decide we were going no further. A quick rest in one of the towns was necessary.

Along the way, we drove between mountains of high rocks. The blackish valleys that were sprinkled with snow and evergreens that stood tall made the trek much more enjoyable. We tried to soak up the scenery from different vantage points while my camera shuttered to capture every panorama.
When we reached Moab, we had already collected adventures that we would laugh about later or remember in years to come with smiles.

This summer, I would take to the roads again for a vacation. Road trips would certainly offer the best summer. I would rather accumulate all those zillions of little bits and pieces of memories that gather as the miles wear on than to head on to the airport only to be disappointed for a delayed flight.

There is endless fun in the immense highway system interlacing the United States. So for foreign students (with vehicles), it is better to get behind the wheel and grind forward. Make your own road trip memories.

By the way, going back home simply doubles the fun.
*****
Read more of my Collegian articles.

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0 comments | Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Most likely you have already signed up with Facebook or any other social bookmarking sites. But since online social communities are extremely hot these days, why not open a new account and join join 3gb community www.3gb.biz?

The more social networks the better. In 3gb.biz, you can not only meet and chat with friends, but also listen to the latest mp3’s, create and join groups, and create your own photo albums. You can also start your own blog if you want to.

The good thing about this new social network is that, it is not cluttered with many applications unlike most social networks like Facebook or Friendster. So if you are up to a new set of friends, try 3gb.biz.

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Craving for good meal in Sioux Falls, South Dakota? Buffet is the answer.
The Royal Fork Buffet Restaurant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is the best place for daily buffet. They serve lunch and dinner everyday.
Along with some friends, I went there last Saturday for casual dining. Family-style dining is what this restaurant also offers in the heart of the Sioux Falls shopping district.

This is different from the usual buffet you probably experienced in Chinese restaurant. While the Chinese buffet offers too much oily food, Royal Fork Buffet delivers an array of food that seem to equal any fine-dining taste with much lesser "grease".
"Appetizing comfort foods fill the menu, from entrees to soups and salads. Plus, sinfully sweet desserts provide a temptation that's hard to overcome. Buffet dining is standard and includes meal, dessert, and beverage – all for one price. Banquet facilities can be booked for meetings or social events. Catering menu is also available."

Royal Fork Buffet Restaurant location (address):
4610 W Empire Pl, Sioux Falls, SD 57106

Telephone number:
605-361-1094

Opening hours:
Mon-Thu 11am-8:30pm; Fri-Sat 11am-9pm; Sun 9am-8pm

Pricing:
Average Main Course Price: $10.00

Payment methods:
Visa, Master Card, Discover

My Rating: 9/10

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0 comments | Friday, April 11, 2008

This is my second post of my recent trip to Moab, Utah. Read the first post about the Delicate Arch hiking experience.Arches in different sizes and shapes sprawl the Arches National Park near Moab. I’m certain you’d be left in total awe seeing just one arch. But if you get to see all of them, it would be a priceless experience you’d keep forever in your heart.

Val and I chose not to miss any of the arch. So, on our 2nd day at the Arches National Park, we decided to take the Devil's Garden Trail.

Most visitors, when they hike the Devil's Garden Trail, they stop and turn back after seeing the Landscape Arch. That's only about a mile of walking from the trailhead. Probably because the Landscape Arch is one of the must-see features of the Arches National Park. However, if you are up to a challenge and want to give your life some unforgettable thrills, a primitive trail awaits you after the Landscape Arch.
The primitive trail warns everyone at the trailhead of the difficult route that lies ahead. Difficult, as I had experienced, must be taken seriously. Difficult must be defined in BIG BOLD letters - to emphasize that the trail is not for the faint-hearted trekkers.
Following the trail is quite easy as it is well marked with cairns (stacks of stones).

The first few miles were exhausting as I had to adjust my pacing and breathing to keep up with Val who seemed to know the trail by heart. Most of the times we were going uphill, climbing rocks and admiring the trail, including the desert life, as it winds to the amazing natural wonders.

Few more miles, we were at the Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. These arches had to be seen off the main trail. There were signs that says where to take the side tracks. The two arches were pure hidden scenic beauties.



Proceeding to the main trail, through narrow paths, the thrill began to mount. Before reaching the next arch - the Double O Arch - I was presented with two heavy options to choose from -- go on or go back. I had to make a decision if I should continue with the hike after seeing with my two round eyes that the trail had to include balancing on a rock beam about 5-foot width. It would have been easier to cross had the sides of the beam weren't cliffs (maybe 50 feet deep or more) or the winds weren't blowing hard.

In my mind, having a thin body structure and weighing less than Val, I could easily be blown away with a little whip of breeze. Balancing that beam and getting to the other end is impossible, so I thought. With knees a little shaking, I would have wanted to just crawl. Indeed, my acrophobia was controlling me that moment. I always have the belief that this fear of height can be treated though avoidance. Val, somehow, did not believe in such treatment as he shouted at me to conquer my fear while he crossed the beam with ease, like a spider on its web.

Faced with a situation of fast heart rate, taking each pace slow and taking deep breaths worked well. I crossed the beam with flying colors! While Val was laughing, I was thinking that my acrophobic self can be outlived, and in the end, knowing my determination has beaten the jitters will take my spirit to the highest height of all.

The end of the "balancing" experience caters to the end of the trail, to the Double O Arch. After that we turned around and took the way back. However, we didn't take the same route, instead, we decided to take a full round trip (about 2 miles) until it rejoined the main trail.

The primitive trail going back wasn't easy as expected. No climbing though, mostly downhill steps. The most challenging was the descent on an almost vertical slope. The rocks were smooth, thus, getting a good grip was close to impossible. I had to do it my way - the way I thought would work [see photo]. Okay the strategy worked perfectly fine.

The rest of the trail was a walk in the park. Few complaints here and there. Few sips of the mineral water. Few hymns once in a while. After hours of hiking in the Devil's Garden Trail, the warning "Caution, Primitive Trail, Difficult Hiking" wasn't that bad at all [just allow me to pamper myself for my little feat].



Here are some facts of the Devils Garden:

Length: 7.2 miles round trip including all spur trails.
Time: 4 to 5 hours round trip.
Trailhead: 5,100'
High Point: 5,500'
Skill Rating: Moderate, there is nothing difficult.
Season: Year Round, difficult with snow.
Equipment: None
Water: 3 liters per person.
Difficulties: None. Very Minor Scrambling.
Circle Trip: Yes.

Now that you've read my story, experience the thrill yourself! Let the adventurous in you come out! Let the Devil's garden stimulate the daring in you! Oh, by the way, good luck!
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0 comments | Thursday, April 10, 2008

Most of the time that I was in Manhattan, I was just shopping till I dropped. Dude, was it good to shop at Time Square! The goodies were all tempting and had I been alone, I would have emptied my bank account for clothes and shoes. I bought two shoes actually, coughed up hundreds of bucks for personal luxuries. But there are also many things to do in New York aside from shopping.

Why is nice to visit New York? One, there is the Empire State building. It is once again the tallest building in New York after the destruction of the World Trade Center. The Empire State Building has been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

At the 50th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is the largest decorated Neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America.

Then there is the ground zero. For those who were born just recently, it is the place where the Twin Towers once existed and bombed on September 11, 2001. Even after almost 6 years after the tragic event that killed thousands, standing at ground zero is a bit spookish.

There might be a chance for me to go back to New York this summer. If you want to go with me for sightseeing tours, visit Trusted Tours & Attractions for the best information you can get about your trip. One more thing, if you sign up for the Trusted Travels eNewsletter, you will have the chance to win a Handheld GPS! Offer ends Monday, April 30th, 2008.

Oh, what are the things to do in Las Vegas? Should Vegas be my next trip?



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Last weekend, I had one of the best travel experiences ever. I was with my colleague/housemate/Big Brother/Ukrainian friend Val for a road trip from Brookings, South Dakota to Moab, Utah. Did I mention in my last post that it took us more than 15 hours of driving?
Utah, USA is home to the magnificent freestanding natural arches located in the Arches National Park near Moab [see map].

When Val and I decided to go to Utah, I never had hesitations and said yes, knowing I'd be seeing natural wonders in all its glory. I thought it was already time that I had to end the longing and the childhood dream of seeing the red rock formations only Moab can offer. I never regretted the decision.

The most widely-recognized landmark in Arches National Park is the Delicate Arch. Because of its very dramatic shape, it is the most famous of the countless arches in the park.


I've seen the Balanced Stone Arch, the Two-eyes (the North and South Window), the Double Arch, and all other naturally-formed arches, but nothing beats the Delicate Arch. Redish, made of sand-stone, curved delicately atop a mountain of rocks, the delicate arch makes people drop their jaws in awe and leaves everyone asking how it manages to stay in great curved shape for years, maybe centuries.

Have I mentioned the hiking to the Delicate Arch? Wohoho! Indeed you need to sacrifice a bit of your time and effort to see this amazing structure. It is located 1.5 mile (2.4 km) from the parking area at Wolfe Ranch. Converted to hours, that would take about an hour each way or a round trip of two hours. The trail wasn't easy as I thought it would be.


Val and I had to climb slopes most of the time. Good thing was, we were not alone during the hiking. Other tourists, young and old, were there -- just as eager as we were to see the Arch. No worries about the rugged and brushy terrain. No worries about the unmarked trail near the top [was Val lost too? LOL]. No worries about legs shakin' and sweat fallin'. I tell you, worries would vanish at the blink of an eye when you reach the peak!

The Arch cannot be seen from afar. It is hidden from sight. That makes it so very exciting for everyone.

At the top, I couldn't help but mention the words "wow", "awesome", "oh my God" at the sight of the Arch. Val mentioned the same words, however, with the word "freakin'" preceding each of them. Finally, the 52-feet tall Arch was right in front of me!

Photos. Photos. Photos of the Delicate Arch. We need to take as many photos as we could. Imagine us exchanging our cameras all the time for picture taking. We had all the views taken, all the poses made and all the possible sides of the arch shot.

The journey back to the parking lot was easier. In fact, I was singing going down the slopes. Once in a while, Val and I had this “shouting” moment, when we just have to shout in cadence without any reason at all but for fun. People looked at us. Then we giggled in silence.

As we were about to reach our car, I noticed an unpaved road that leads to a view of the Arch. But what the heck! I liked the hiking better than getting there via a short cut. If you happen to visit the Delicate Arch, get out of your car, ready your walking shoes, and follow the trail. It is worth it.

It was really good to end the day with the Delicate Arch in mind.

****
Next post later about the other hiking trip! Keep posted.

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