Working For The Wee Tiny Man

I often putter at exploring the various means one can make some spare cash online. Mostly I find the various options to be awkward, and at best, lackluster. This often leaves me wondering just how much my spare time is worth. When it comes down to it, the hourly rate sucks for most of the work you can just sign-up and get. Is a rubbish rate worth it because it’s spare time? Or is it actually quite the opposite?

I’m not pasting a list here of great places to make money online. I don’t even seem to know about those places. I’m simply wondering about how I assign accurate value to my time. And how much value that is.

Continue reading “Working For The Wee Tiny Man”

Remembering Your Travel Heart and Brain

I suspect we’re all similar in that we have a significantly different frame of mind while travelling than we do while at home. Life on the road takes on a semi-charmed luster that makes anything and everything just that much better. For example, kids laughing in a park in a foreign city are adorable. A charming testament to the sweetness of youth and innocence. Kids in your hometown park are shrieking cretins. And where are their parents? There could be broken glass or snakes in that sandbox, ugh! Continue reading “Remembering Your Travel Heart and Brain”

Philippines Volunteering (How it Went)

It’s been more than a month since I’ve been home from volunteering in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Sorry about the delayed update. These posts are just significantly less interesting to do after the fact. In total I spent 21 days there working with All Hands Volunteers (AHV). Mostly thanks to the generosity of others!

My main concerns about going on other people’s cash was that the trip be worthwhile. Worth their money, worth my time and money, and worth AHV giving me a spot. And I suppose to a lesser extent, if the work that AHV was offering was worth doing. So in hindsight, how did all those factors work out? Money and time (same thing) well spent?

Continue reading “Philippines Volunteering (How it Went)”

Revealing The Secret Of What Makes Canadians Different

Most people have met at least one full grown Canadian. Sometimes unknowingly! And most people have followed up their meeting with a Canadian with the sentiment that something was a bit… different. They can’t quite put their finger on it. Neither literally nor figuratively. There’s definitely something different about Canadians though. It’s in that place behind their eyes that you aren’t legally allowed to go.

As a Not-Canadian you’re not sure if you like this secret difference or not. Is it like a hint of cinnamon in your cocoa? Or more like a sense of arsenic in your pudding? What is it that makes Canadians so different?! Thankfully for you, I have the journalistic integrity of an otter. So let me reveal to you, the unwashed hordes of Not-Canadians just what this secret is…

Continue reading “Revealing The Secret Of What Makes Canadians Different”

This News Just in: People Are Quite Nice!

It turns out that my scheme to find a way to volunteer in the Philippines wasn’t that far-fetched after all. I’ve received donations from 11 super nice people! I think I’m actually more excited about how nice folks are than the trip itself. Anyway, I leave on Wednesday!

I had asked anyone making a donation to have a corresponding request so I felt like less of a freeloader. Many people had no request at all, but a few did. I got off the hook quite easily though. Here’s my task list:

  • Several postcards for various people
  • A few want photos of the work and my suffering. This one never gets old.
  • A small local piece of art, craft or handiwork.
  • An item off the ground. Not trash though.
  • Some local online contractor research.

Well, thank you very much to all you donators! I very much appreciate your help, and I’ll do my damnedest to get you your moneys worth out of this three weeks. I’ll post some updates here, and you should also check out the project and follow along on the All Hands site. Thanks!


// Shawn

Help Me Help You to Help Someone Else in the Philippines!

I’m pretty damn excited right now. I just cashed in my air miles and booked a flight to Cagayan de Oro, Philippines to do some disaster response volunteering. It’s been nearly two months since the typhoon flooding hit Mindanao, so here’s a short BBC clip for memory refreshing.

The catch here, and where you become involved, is that I can’t actually afford to go do this. What I’d like to do is offer my services to you in order to help me raise the money I need. Here’s the scenario and what I hope I can offer.

The Problem: I am planning to be volunteering in the Philippines for 3 weeks in March (3/2 – 3/20) with All Hands Volunteers (the same group I went to Haiti with!). A really short time unfortunately. The catch is that I’m also coincidentally unemployed as of the end of February. So I have no income with which to fund this. Granted, this should mean I don’t go. I figure though that I now have the spare time. And air miles covers the vast majority of the expense. Plus, it’s not like the thousands of people made homeless by the flooding are terribly convenienced by it all either. If I can cover the remaining expenses, then get some work as soon as I get home, I can pull this off. I’m totally up for the challenge if you are. By my math, I need about $600 to bridge the gap. This is for airline tariffs, taxes, medical insurance fees, and ferry tickets. All the unavoidable junk.

My Offer: While in the Philippines, I am offering to meet any request you have. Maybe you want to know something about the area, people, local food, etc? Maybe you just want a postcard? Or a picture of a cat? A poem about rice? I don’t care what it is really. I don’t like just asking for money for free, so I prefer to offer something in exchange. Whatever you think is a fair exchange for your donation. While I’m there I’ll also be working my ass off clearing mud out of houses, demolishing ruined houses and hopefully constructing some new ones.

You! Can simply chip in to make this thing work out and make a request. Most people seem to prefer PayPal, but if you don’t then just email me and we’ll figure something out. Any amount you want to give is fantastic! I’ll post lots of pics and info here of course. Plus any requests I get will be posted here. Any questions? Just ask! Please make sure to give me your email address with your request so I can let you know when it’s posted or ask follow up questions. Donate some money via PayPal here!

Thank you all very much! This idea of asking other people to help me go help some other people feels a bit awkward to me. I’m pretty excited to make it work though. Thanks!


// Shawn

Horror Movies Make Me Travel. Sort of.

I really like horror movies. And I really like to travel. And I think the two are related. Or more specifically, the enjoyment of each comes from a similar source.

When people ask me why I like horror movies or traveling I respond with such informative feedback as, “It’s cool and junk” but there’s perhaps a smidge more to it than that. There is a common element between the two for me, which I hadn’t considered until now. And no, the common element is not screaming people or giant bats. Well, maybe yea, it is those things too, but that’s not my point here. Bear with me here and tell me if my logic sounds legit.

Continue reading “Horror Movies Make Me Travel. Sort of.”

Moving My Routine From Place To Place

12:34I get up this morning and roll straight into my good old routine. Pretty normal stuff really. Kettle, cereal, and then I settle in to eat while reading my news and email. I’m going to make a fantastic senior citizen. After the news, my thoughts turn to routines and how easily they become part of my day. As a dork that is generally traveling, or thinking about traveling, I find it interesting how I set up routines in the disposable days of a traveler.

Spooning cereal into my mouth like a sugar starved automaton, I consider why I construct routines in most aspects of my life. More specifically, why I have routines at all, and why I always seem to have them. Even when I’m only in a place or situation for a couple days, I quickly fall into little repeated patterns and habits. Fortunately, research has shown that most of us are quite habitual, so I don’t feel too bonkers.

For example, earlier this year I was spending a week in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Continue reading “Moving My Routine From Place To Place”

Can A Tablet Replace Travel Guide Books?

Were I looking to replace heavy old guide books, what would I use? For anyone traveling beyond a single region, guide books can be a very real problem. They’re expensive and heavy, plus if you’re any fun at all your plans may change. Who wants to spontaneously end up in Cuba with a kilo of Japan guide books? Not this gaijin. Which leads us to the question — what is the best option for replacing heavy old guide books with nimble digital info? If you have specialized needs, then this question may not be relevant, but for the average sucker out on the road with a backpack that is already too heavy, can you save some weight and drama by instead using a tablet? Continue reading “Can A Tablet Replace Travel Guide Books?”

Can A Kindle Replace Travel Guide Books? Part 2 of 2

KindleIt’s time for part 2 of my look at whether a Kindle can replace travel guide books or not. Part 1 from December ’09 is here. I’ve received some excellent questions, plus there are some really interesting feature improvements in the past year. We also need to consider new readers, technology and options on the market now. My choice for a guide book replacement today is much different than what I would have chose a year ago, and may not be at all what you expect. Let’s take a look at how the Kindle worked, and what I would choose to replace good old guide books today. With the Google eBookstore on the market our choices look much different now. Continue reading “Can A Kindle Replace Travel Guide Books? Part 2 of 2”