Happy Independence Day

Hello everyone,

Firstly, I’d like to wish everyone a happy independence day weekend. I hope you all are enjoying some vacation time. There won’t be a new post this week (other than this one) because I’m taking some time off. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and stay tuned for new posts every Sunday starting back up next Sunday, July 9th.

Have a great week!

The Globetrotting Scientist

Learning a Language Part 1/3: How to Pick A Language

Welcome to the first installment of a new summer series: Learning a New Language from our guest author, David Anthony.  David is a senior at North Carolina Central University, a novice computer programmer, rock-climber, and huge language nerd.  This series will explore the how-tos of learning a new language on your own, no college courses required.  The first of three articles will focus on choosing the right language for you.  Look out for new installments on the last Sunday of every month. Enjoy!

PART 1:

Want to know what you can do right now that will make you richer, smarter, and sexier? Fluently speaking a foreign language! I know a lot of millennials and travelers dream of being able to order in a Mexican restaurant in perfect Spanish, or debate Descartes in flawless French. While I can’t promise those results, this guide should help you get started on the path to fluency much faster than traditional methods. Nothing I’m mentioning is voodoo or snake oil, but it’s not obvious to most people when they’re trying to learn a foreign language. It sure wasn’t to me when I first started learning.

My name’s David, and I’ve been studying foreign languages for close to 9 years now. I’ve taken language classes in high school, as well as studying on my own using various methods. As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m also on my way to India with the Critical Language Scholarship. In terms of languages I know in descending order: English is my native language; I’m pretty comfortable in Swedish and Norwegian, conversational in German, and I used to be conversational in Russian and Serbian, although those have atrophied quite a bit. I’ve also casually studied at least a dozen others, including Urdu, Japanese, and Egyptian Arabic. Perhaps not an impressive list from a polyglot standpoint, but enough that I feel qualified to write up this 101 style how to guide.

So, I think the first question that needs to be answered is “Which language should I learn?” The answer: whichever one you are passionate about. Don’t get swept up in whatever “sounds beautiful” or will be most useful. The most useful language is the one you know well. Say you want to learn a language so you can be more competitive for a job in business. Chinese, Hindi, and German are all obvious ones that come to mind. But what if none of those interest you? What if you’re really interested in learning about Cambodian culture, and would rather study Khmer instead? That’s totally okay. If you’re truly passionate about it, you’ll make quick strides and will develop fluency much more quickly. Fluent Khmer is better than phrasebook Chinese on your resume. The same rule applies if you’re just learning for personal reasons. When you learn a language, you’re really learning a culture. Languages don’t exist in a vacuum. Find a specific, concrete reason to learn a language. Don’t be discouraged if it’s a smaller language. Using the Khmer example from earlier (and I’m betting you probably didn’t even know Khmer was a language), Khmer has 16 million native speakers. Even though it’s a “small” language, there’s absolutely no way you’ll ever run out of people to talk to. If you’re willing to work hard enough, any language is an attainable goal.

Next post, I’ll dig deeper into some resources you can use to get started. In the future, I’ll also start talking about some tactics for learning quickly. Hope you enjoyed the post!

Thanks for reading! Are you multilingual? What made you decide to learn another language? Tell us about it in the comments below! Did you enjoy this post? Share it via Facebook or Twitter. And, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

At-Home Genetic Testing–What Information Should Companies Be Able to Provide?

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When asked about your origins, do you tell others you’re 50% German and 20% Irish and a little bit Polish, Dutch, and French? Have you ever wondered exactly where your family is from? For around $200 you can unlock the secrets of your own genetics. Many online services including 23andMe, Ancestry.com, Orig3n, and others offer kits to test your genes. Simply spit in a tube and send it off with the fee and they’ll send back stats about your roots. Pretty cool, right? But what about the other information they can provide? Your risks for certain cancers, diseases, and other disorders could be given to you in hard numbers. But what do you do with that information?

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When these tests first came out, they handed you an armload of information, but no means to interpret it. The FDA realized that this information was causing people unessescary panic, so they froze the ability to provide information about genetic predisposition to diseases, only allowing companies to provide the public with their family history of origin. This past April (2017) the FDA partially lifted this ban, allowing 23andMe to provide you with your risk for 10 diseases. According to CNN, these diseases are: “Parkinson’s; late-onset Alzheimer’s; celiac disease; a movement disorder called early-onset primary dystonia; a disorder that elevates your risk for lung and liver disease called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; a blood clotting disorder Factor XI deficiency; an organ and tissue disorder called Gaucher disease type 1; a red blood cell condition known as G6PD; hereditary hemochromatosis, an iron overload disorder; and hereditary thrombophilia, a blood clot disorder.”

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While it’s amazing that this information is available to you at a low cost, what do you do with it? So you find out you have a 90% of developing Alzheimer’s. There is no cure, no treatment, nothing you can do about it. I would highly recommend talking to a genetic counselor. They can discuss with you what these numbers mean, and what you can do about it. Always keep in mind that your results are not a diagnosis. Even a high risk of a disorder does not guarantee that you will develop it.

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Genetic testing is an amazing scientific advancement. If you can afford it, I would recommend getting your genes tested. You can learn so much about your family history and yourself. Just be aware of the accuracy of the tests and what to do with the information you receive. Happy learning!

Did you like this post?  Have you ever gotten your genes tested?  Tell us about it in the comments below!  Share via Facebook or Twitter, and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Resources:

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/health/fox-medical-team/261335319-story

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/06/health/23andme-fda-approval-genetic-disease-test-bn/index.html

Spontaneous Beach Trip

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I had a hard week at work the other week. I won’t go into details, but I was feeling very overworked and underappreciated. By Thursday I was a big ball of stress. My husband brought me dinner at work, and somehow we decided to go to the beach that weekend.

We live about 2-2.5 hours from the nearest beach, so it’s easy to do for a weekend. He wanted to go for just the day, but I didn’t think it would be worth it. So Friday evening we booked an Airbnb. Less than 24 hours in advance we booked accommodations for Saturday night. We packed in a flurry, thinking “are we really doing this?”

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Now, I don’t believe in fortune-telling and I firmly believe you make your own destiny. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy fortune cookies! A couple of weeks before this spontaneous trip, I went with some coworkers to a Chinese restaurant where I got a fortune cookie. My fortune was “there are unexpected adventures in your future.” I loved it. I taped it to the mirror in my bathroom. No, it doesn’t actually predict unexpected adventures, but perhaps it inspired them?

After a flurry of packing and a good night’s sleep, we got up and headed for the coast. This was before summer, so it wasn’t peak season yet and we were going to be among the only tourists around.

We arrived at the address of the Airbnb. We called our host who helped us with parking and brought us up to his apartment. Let me pause right there and say the idea of staying with a stranger makes me uncomfortable. Our previous Airbnb stays have always been whole apartments, and this time we were just renting a room from some guy off the internet. However, our host turned out to be a really nice doctor who showed us our room and pretty much left us alone.

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After dumping our stuff in the little bedroom with adjoining private bathroom, we changed into swimsuits and headed for the beach. It was a quick 10 minute drive, and getting out of the car, smelling that salt air and hearing the crashing of waves, I could already feel the stress of my crazy week fading away. While my husband braved swimming in the cold water in March, I set up my towel on the sand with a novel. After who knows how much long I woke up to my husband asking if I wanted to leave or if he should feed the parking meter. “Mmm I can stay longer” I answered sleepily. He kissed me and left to feed the meter. I tried to go back to my book, but ended up just soaking in the sun.

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That evening our host was at work, so we got some food to-go and ate at the counter in the kitchen of our Airbnb. We had talked about going to some bars, but ended up having a couple of glasses of wine at “home,” relaxing, and enjoying being away from home for the night.

The next morning we went to a cute bagel shop across the street from our Airbnb. It was predictably packed, as it was Sunday morning. The bagels were to die for! That’s why you should always try the local shops and restaurants when you travel–you might find the best bagel of your life!

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After our bagels, we drove about half an hour away to the aquarium. It’s a great aquarium, and we had a lot of fun looking at the fish, and feeling like kids again. Our stomachs started rumbling again, but we didn’t want to pay for overpriced food at the aquarium so we just started driving back home with the plan to stop when we saw something that looked good. A little burrito place caught our attention. We stopped and went in. It was probably 2-3pm, but we still had to wait for a table. The restaurant had kind of a Dia de los Muertos skulls theme. We were finally seated and found out we got unlimited access to their salsa bar. They had about a dozen different salsas and I think we tried most of them. Then came our meals. Oh man. To die for. The service was great, the food was great, the atmosphere was casual and cool, and the prices were low. Always. Eat. Local.

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After stuffing ourselves with burritos, the last thing we wanted to do was drive back home, but alas, our spontaneous beach trip was coming to an end. We dragged our full bellies back to the car, and drove home. Would I take a spontaneous trip again? Hell yeah. But when? Who knows…. 🙂

Have you taken a spontaneous trip? Tell me about it in the comments! Did you enjoy this post? Share via Facebook or Twitter. And, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

The Anniversary Party

In April of 2012, my grandparents celebrated 50 years of marriage. My dad and his two brothers got together (despite living in different cities) to plan a (partial) surprise 50th anniversary party for them. A local staple restaurant had recently re-opened, so they chose it for the venue. A date was set, word was spread, out-of-town guests made arrangements to visit, and unbeknownst to me, my now-husband was purchasing an engagement ring.

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After a whirlwind of planning, the day of the party arrived. My boyfriend had met my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and 1st cousins, but had not yet been introduced to my extended family. I was nervous, but excited.

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My dad and uncles had booked a private room at the restaurant, and told my grandparents they were taking them out for their anniversary. My grandparents had no idea that us grandkids would be there, nor that their siblings (some of whom came in from Texas and Georgia) were in attendance. They were thrilled, to say the least. We all had a nice dinner and anniversary cake and took some photos.

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While in line for the salad bar, my now-husband ended up in line behind my dad. (I honestly have no idea where I was at the time or how I missed this exchange.) Not being the most formal or wordy guy, my now-husband said “hey, can I ask you a question?” My dad turned to him and said “yeah, sure.” “Can I marry Allegra?” My dad, also not being the most formal or wordy guy, smiled and said “yeah.”

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Around a month later, while hiking in a local park, he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. But that’s another story for another day.

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Did you enjoy this post? I wanted to share a personal post to mix it up a bit and help my readers to get to know me better. Do you want to see more posts like this? Let me know in the comments below. And as always, share via Facebook or Twitter and follow me here on WordPress!

Indian-inspired Naan Pizza

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This is a ridiculously easy recipe created by my amazing husband! Thanks, Hubs :*

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Serving size: 2 individual pizzas
Prep time: 10-20 min
Total time: 30 minutes or less

Ingredients:

2 pieces Naan bread (generally naan comes in a 250g 2 pack)
¼-½ cup Indian inspired curry sauce (you can purchase a variety of sauces at Target)
¼-½ Bell pepper (or any veggies you like)
5 oz Chicken (we used pre-cooked grilled chicken strips)
½-¾ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Instructions:

  1. Spread curry sauce onto center of naan bread, moving outward from the center.
  2. Sprinkle on cheese, covering the curry sauce
  3. Chop bell pepper and cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces
  4. Add peppers and chicken onto both pizzas to taste
  5. Bake at 250F for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted

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That’s it! This can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. It’s one of our go-to easy weeknight meals, and we use pre-made naan, sauce, and even pre-cooked chicken. However, if you have a fantastic curry recipe, try it out with this pizza. If you want to throw some chicken on the grill, save a few pieces for the pizza. Our recipe calls for a bell pepper, but when we made the pizza last night, we found we’d run out of bell peppers, so we just threw on some of whatever vegetables we had in the house. It worked pretty well, but I think bell peppers work best. Other suggestions for additions are: onions, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms.

Did you like this recipe? Did you make any changes? Tell me about it in the comments below!

If you liked this post, share via Facebook or Twitter and follow me here on WordPress for more great content like this!

DIY Gifts for Dad

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Dads are so difficult to shop for! What do you get the man that has everything? Below are 7 DIY gift ideas to make father’s day special for your dad (Or stepdad. Or grandfather, uncle, father-in-law, mentor, or whomever.).

    1. Coffee bean soap
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      Is your dad a big coffee drinker? He’ll love this DIY coffee bean soap! Find the instructions here.
    2. Gift in a jar: Cleans up wellPhoto Collage Maker_xO7jSz.png
      My grandfather loved his “shaving kit” a few Christmases back. To a mason jar I added a razor, homemade sugar scrub (“Manly Hand Scrub”), nail clippers, lip balm, and moisturizer. Add in cute labels and it’s a sweet, simple gift. You could also add a mini cologne, rosemary mint shaving cream, homemade hair pomade, or anything that can fit in the jar! (Find the original “Cleans up Well” gift in a jar post, instructions here.)
    3. Grill Kit
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      Does your dad love to host cookouts in the summer? Put together everything he’ll need for the perfect barbecue.

    4. Scrabble coasters
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      These are cute, simple, and easy to personalize! Find the instructions here.
    5. Gift in a jar: Energy BoostPhoto Collage Maker_KzmCpM.png
      Put together a little energy boost for Pop in a cute mason jar! I recommend adding:

       

      (Find the original “Energy in a Jar” post that inspired this here.)

    6. Wine and glass holder
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      Build this classy wine bottle and glasses holder with a few materials and a little hard work!
    7. Loves to Cook Kit
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      My dad is the best cook in my family. He loves to experiment in the kitchen (USUALLY to great success.) Put together a gift basket with:

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