Browsing Category : Culture


Riviera Maya: Seeing it is Just the Start

My wife and I have been married for about a week, and now we’re kicking back on a beach in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This vacation has been unlike anything we’ve ever done — mostly because it’s all so … well, turn-key and tourist-ready — far from the off-the-beaten-path adventures we typically seek. The area is dotted with hundreds of resorts,…

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Swiss Plunge into Texas Country

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” – David…

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Death Simulator Meets Internet

You can pay $68 to experience a simulation of death and birth in Shanghai, China. The New museum is called Xinglai, which means “awaken” in Chinese. Naturally, the mishmash of people and cultures in the Internet-sphere has had mixed reactions. One person commented, “Why do people want to try this? I mean are they so fed up with their lives that they want…

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The Secret Handshake of Language

There’s a secret to every language. Ask anyone who speaks English as a second language, “Are there any concepts in your native language that you struggle to express when speaking English?” Almost everyone will have at least one and some will give you a whole list. For example, many English speakers are familiar with the word Schadenfreude, which translates from German…

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Work in America

Once upon a while ago, I stayed with a family in the Netherlands for a couple weeks, and I remember the father spending an entire Monday afternoon in the backyard gardening. I was 16 at the time, and I asked him why he wasn’t at work, which naturally set the stage for one of those cultural learning moments that would stick…

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Samba Saved Me

For me, writing has less to do with knowing how to write and more to do with how to think. If my world is dull, my writing will be dull. But some days are like that, dull — even in amazing places, like São Paulo, Brazil. No matter where you go, the day-to-day grind will follow, all those little things…

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singapore voor

At the Nursery of Nations

The nation of Singapore turns 50 this year, meaning this place is still a total baby (the land of Singapore goes way back though, like all the way back to those good ol’ Pangea days). It’s safe to assume (“safe” as in you won’t get hurt… but possibly wrong) that almost everyone you see here is only a generation or two away from…

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The public domain is way better at taking pictures of flying foxes than I am.

Squirrels Aren’t Normal

We have squirrels everywhere in Austin, Texas. They are such a normal part of the day, that they probably go unnoticed most of the time. Sure, so the creature is taken for granted – but imagine what it would be like to see one for the very first time. You would certainly stop and take a look at this new…

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Turn up the Stereotype

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I had an obsession with snakes. I studied them, I collected them, and above all, I sought them in the wild. Whenever my family went on a vacation, I’d carry my National Audubon Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians around like a Bible. For me, different states and countries were simply different places…

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