Wednesday, September 02, 2015


There are two types of women in the world.  Those that love purses and those that love shoes.  Of course it is possible to love both but one can only truly give themselves up to one obsession.

For me, it's shoes.

And here my dear friends are 10 tell-tale signs that you fall into the same category:

1. There is no better feeling than breaking in a new pair of shoes.  You've actually mastered the art of wandering around your apartment with socks on, so you get blisters long before that big new-shoe premiere night.  Oh and band-aids?  Their sole use is for your soles.

2. "Sensible shoes" aren't your mother's birkenstocks.  They're a pair that goes with everything despite the way they might pinch your toes.

3. You'd rather suffer through the pain than admit you should have brought a change of flip-flops because your feet hurt. I mean c'mon you're wearing those awesome heels for a reason!  I once wore the same heels from 9:30 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. on a drunken Vegas walking tour.  My toes were bleeding but I looked good.

4. Yes you need another pair.

5. You have so many shoes that they could totally have their own closet.  After all, that is the dream isn't it?  And lets not even talk about packing.  You're definitely going to need two suitcases just for your footwear.

6.  You wear flats one day and everyone realizes just how short you are.  I broke a heel on a night out once, so what did I do?  I broke off the other one and turned my lovely heels into lovely flats.  My friend promptly noticed the 4 inch difference and wondered just how long I had really been that short.

7.  Another pair of _________________.  Everyone has their go-to.  In fact this summer alone I've bought 4 different pairs of white espadrilles.

8. Zappos is your only real friend.

9. You find yourself hiding pairs when you've got company because you know it may seem like you've got a problem but you don't.  Seriously, no problem here.

10.  And finally is there really anything better than a new pair?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

This Is How I'll Date You

Written by Bianca Sparacino and originally published on Thought Catalog

I'll date you because I choose to.  I will desire you with every dawn and I will desire you with every dusk.  I will date you because you make me laugh, because despite your flats and your temperaments, my heart feels safe within your hands.  I will date you and I will pay no mind to the alternative, I will turn a blind eye to the people who stare because my gaze was made for your gaze.  In this generation option creeps into relationships like a dangerous siren, but I will never be swayed by it's song, for when I date you, I will date only you.

I will date you in a forgetful way. I wont be able to recall the time you were born, or your mothers middle name. I will forget mini anniversaries, I will forget appointments. However, I will never forget the way you looked when you told me you loved me for the first time. I will never forget the way you smell, the colour of the freckles in your eyes. I will always remember what makes your heart race, the moments of smaller magic that bang and clash against your ribcage when my head rests on your chest. I will immortalize you in my fingertips; I will never forget the way you make me feel.
I will date you outside of social media. I will hold your hand, I will kiss your soft mouth, I will be your biggest fan, and that will exist between you and I. Two people, unfiltered, completely unedited, simply loving each other without validation. I wont need a certain amount of likes to know that I admire you, I wont need a specific number of views to understand that I could watch you all day. Our relationship will be one that is incubated within the confines of our inside jokes, our humorous memories, our deep connection – it will never be subjected to a 4×4 square; it will never be two-dimensional.

You will not be my mcm, my wcw, or my bae. You will be my heart. You will be my home. I will not post my love for you on your Facebook wall, I will not take photos to prove to the world how much I adore the way your hair feels in the morning, or how you can never keep a straight face when you see someone fall. There will be no public evidence of our infatuation, but I will love you deeply in the most beautiful places. I will kiss you in your favourite bakery; I will brush your cheek with every tree that lines the most darling streets. We will create memories in the world, not for it. We will see our relationship dotted across the town like Christmas lights.

Most importantly, I will date you in the image of tenacity. I will endure for you, even when we fall on hard times, even when we struggle. I will not flee or abandon you when we disagree, I will not sleep within foreign arms when I feel hurt. I promise that when I date you, I will fight for you. I will fight for the beauty in which our hearts have felt, and though it will be difficult at times, like worthy things are, I will believe in you – I will believe in us.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Meeting a Coffee Master

"You know the best thing about this coffee"?  I looked at the unfamiliar barista handing me over my usual Venti Blonde Roast just after 6 a.m.  Say Something, he's talking to you.

"Oh uh... coffee... yeah it's my favorite blend". I responded half-asleep.

"Well yes, it's my favorite too.  But this particular blend, because it's so light, it adopts the taste of whatever you pair it with.  Here, take this banana bread, on me.  Just trust me.  Eat it, take swigs of the coffee between bites and pretty soon the entire cup will taste of banana bread".  I took the loaf out of his hands and smiled.  "I'm doing my Coffee Masters".

Coffee Masters?  I stared at the Barista is awe as he told me that Starbucks offers a course for bean-lovers, people who are more than just employees, but truly passionate about the brew.  I kid you not.

In fact there are more than 5,000 actives Coffee Masters in Starbucks stores around the world.  Classes teach students everything from the history of coffee to the way it is roasted and prepared.  And once you pass?  Sure there is a diploma, but you also get to wear a black apron instead of the usual green, signifying you've earned the highest honor for any Barista.

I took a bite of banana bread and washed it down with a swig of my Blonde Roast.  He was right.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's the Freakin' Weekend

In the epic words of R. Kelly "It's the Freakin' Weekend, baby I'm about to have me some fun".  And yeah, maybe Mr. Kelly was talking about drinking the night away, getting you "out them clothes", and repeat, but we're talking about something else.  Put down that glass of wine and Netflix and make the effort this Saturday and Sunday.  Seriously.  This is your chance to use those 48 hours to revitalize yourself for Monday morning.  Trust me, as someone who works their weekends away, I'd give my left hand to be able to check some of these things off my list to feel a little lighter on Monday morning.

1. Clean out your closet.  Just do it.  You're never going to wear that shirt anyways.  And isn't purging what eBay is for?  And for the things you're on the fence about throwing out, promise yourself if you don't wear it in the next week, it goes.

2. Get a massage.  Treat yourself for once in your life.  And if you schedule it early enough in the morning, you won't want to drink the night before.

3.  Get out of the house and into the community.  Your local neighborhood is always doing stuff.  Like that farmer's market you love but never get a chance to explore, or that ________ (insert strange foreign food/country/item here) festival that just so happens to be this weekend.  Where ever you are, chances are you'll find something awesome.

4. Let your creative juices flow.  Whether it's writing (all of these posts end up written on the weekend) or sitting down at a blank canvas, get it out.

5. Game Night is the new happy hour.  Seriously, everyone is dying to play monopoly even if they don't admit it.  And yeah ok there may be some drinking involved in this one, but make sure it's wine or some ridiculously awesome cocktails.  Don't forget the cheese and crackers!

6. Learn something new.  Go to a museum and actually spend time reading the little placards in the exhibits or brush off the dust that Rosetta Stone has been collecting in your attic.  You can also enroll in hundreds of free University credit classes with Edx.

7. Get in the kitchen.  Take the time to go to the grocery store, get the ingredients and make meals for the following week.  Not only will you save yourself the time to scramble to make lunches and dinner the day of, but you'll end up saving money through out the week with those perfectly packed meals. Kale chips anyone?

8. Do your laundry, especially those sheets.

9. Visit your local shelter.  Even if you're not in a place to adopt, it's seriously fun to go and see all the cute and cuddlies in need of forever homes.  Maybe you'll be inspired to volunteer or maybe if you're like us, you'll go home with a Sushi Cat.

10. Start (and finish) that book everyone has been recommending to you.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Standing Proud with WDBJ

This past Wednesday we woke up to the news.  Like most mornings, I wake up and reach for my phone.  I scroll through my various news apps and educate myself on what happened when I was fast asleep without a worry in the world.

Reporter, Photographer Killed During Live TV Report in Va.

I re-read the headlines.  This must be a mistake.  I immediately thought of my own news team.  The lovely reporters and photographers who check in with me while I'm busy working a shift.  I send them into the field, into active-crime scenes, wild fires, SWAT Stand-offs, and Police Investigations.  I send them into danger every single day, but away they go with a smile on their face.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward weren't at a crime-scene.  They were doing a feature, a nickname for, perhaps a good visual story, like an interview at the zoo or at a cupcake convention, but definitely not hard news.  They're were making the most of a "slow" morning in their local news network.  And while the camera rolled the shots were fired.  

I thought of WDBJ's version of me, watching the live shot, listening to their co-workers fall.  I thought of the men and women working in the control room, frozen in shock from what they were rolling on.  Live.  I refuse to watch the footage that has now surfaced around the Internet of what the community of south west Virginia watched on their televisions live.

We are on your side WDBJ.

We stand proud in an industry that never stops, even in the face of danger, especially in the face of danger.  We will support you, tell your story and honor those who fell to a senseless act while earning a pay check.  We will show up to work, do our jobs, provide for not only our flesh and blood, but for our communities.  We bring you the news each morning, we are the headlines that come across your glowing smart phone, we are proud.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Signs You Love Your Pet Way Too Much... (not actually possible)

While all my friends are having getting engaged, married, and having babies, I'm over here drinking wine with my cat, Sushi.  Oh did I mention how frickin' adorable he is?  Yeah, he is my baby and instead of posts about my wonderful family life, I instead am posting about the cuddles this little one is or isn't giving me.  For some of us, we're not ready to grow up yet, but we are taking baby steps with the cute fury (or scaly) things in our lives.

List originally posted by Johanna Mort on Thought Catalog:

1. Treats are less about rewarding your pet for their good behavior, and more about bribing them to give you a litter more love and attention.
2. You’ve locked them in a room with you as a way to force them to spend time with you. However, this plan always backfires because they end up hanging by the door waiting for you to get over yourself and let them out.
3. You watch them sleep all. the. time.
4. …And have taken pictures of them sleeping.
5. …Okay, maybe even a video if they’re dreaming.
6. You get high-key jealous whenever you have guests over and suddenly your beloved pet couldn’t give a f*ck about you. You just want to scream, I FEED YOU, YOU UNGRATEFUL BITCH.
7. Normal cuddling sessions generally end with your pet trying to leave and you holding onto them for dear life, begging LOVE ME!
8. You’re pretty sure you’ve caught them rolling their little pet eyes at you when you do something ridiculous for their attention.
9. You’ve woken them up from a peaceful nap simply because YOU COULDN’T HELP IT THEY LOOKED SO CUUUUTE.
10. You’re constantly showing people pictures of your pet, because it just seems unfair of you to not share such cuteness with the entire world.
11. …As a result, a large portion of Instagram, Snapchat, pretty much every form of social media is dedicated to your lil buddy, and you don’t regret it one bit.
12. You secretly love it when you come home after spending the day with other animals and your pet’s all over you sniffing and wondering where you’ve been, because you like to remind them that you have options… just in case.
13. …But then you always give them extra attention to remind them that they’re your #1 bae forever and always.
14. You don’t like to leave them alone at home for too long because you’re terrified that they’ll need you and YOU WON’T BE THERE.
15. …So your friends are pretty used to you asking if that new brunch place allows pets, that way you don’t need to worry about getting home quickly because bae is with you.
16. Whenever you see them having a good old time just chillin’, you feel the need to go over and convince them to play with you. When they just look at you likeI’m tired of your shit. Let me live, please you always try twice as hard to earn their love, because PROVE YOUR LOVE TO ME, DAMMIT.
17. You can’t imagine spending a single day without your furry friend, because they’re your world, and if anyone tries to get in between the two of you, there will be hell to pay. 

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cursing Through History

Lets face it, some of my favorite words of all time aren't the nicest to say.   Curse words, swear words, dirty words, you name it, they're great!  They help us release whatever frustration we've been holding onto, after all you don't yell "Yay" when you stub your toe.

So here you go folks, appropriately shared on a Sunday, a historical timeline of some of the best not-so-nice words in the English language.

And on that note, lets talk about some of these fantastic words and how we desperately need to bring them back into our every day language. "Crupper" for bum, "Nature's Treasury" and "Clicket Gate" for Vagina, and lets just say "shagging" will always be my go-to.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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"The Best & Worst of Europe - Ranked by Two Somewhat-Ignorant Americans"

This list was originally posted on Thrillist by Kevin Alexander and Matt Lynch, who are on point when it comes to a lot of the stereotypical "American" views for each country in Europe.  You know Europe, that place somewhere "Across the pond" where majority of people speak more than one language, value education, work ethic, afternoon naps, wine and of course stinky cheese.  But Europe and it's people are so much more than that, right?

Thanks to the boys at Thrillist, they've ranked the 48 European countries from worst (#48) to best (#1) based on what they say is a variety of factors including, cuisine, aesthetic beauty, contributions to society, how nice they are to us Americans and something about the number of "eagles owls in their bogs".  I'm going to agree with most of what they say, after all they're journalists (hardy-har-har) and they've been to at least 75% of the listed countries.

48. Belarus

If you want to go to a country that has 11,000 lakes and isn’t sure it’s totally over the whole Soviet Empire thing, Belarus is your comrade. Ranked worst in Europe in press freedom, and many other freedoms, it is essentially a totalitarian dictatorship that suppresses any non-authorized sentiments. Oh, and they’re pretty into soups made with goose blood.

47. Moldova

Come for the stuffed cabbage rolls, stay for the alleged large-scale theft of fraudulent loans to business entities controlled by oligarch Ilan Shor.

46. Liechtenstein

Europe’s version of a gated community of well-to-do grandparents who sue the neighbors for building an unsightly gazebo that blocks their view of the fitness center.

45. Kosovo

Too soon? Too soon. Might be ready for backhanded compliments in the 2035 edition of this article (written from space?!).

44. Monaco

The only people who actually live in Monaco are professional tennis players who definitely weren’t born in Monaco. It’s like the newly built luxury apartment complex of Europe, but with much more stylish HOA meetings. Another metaphor we were toying around with: it’s like a country as imagined by Puff Daddy in the director’s cut of a rosé commercial. 

43. Macedonia

The cooler part of Macedonia, you know where Alexander the Great came from and stuff, is actually in Greece. As a result, having another country label itself “Macedonia” really pisses Greece off, so that’s fun! Less fun? Being a landlocked nation with crippling unemployment that has the distinguished honor of being frequently described as “one of the less-desirable former Yugoslav republics.”

42. Latvia

If you’re going to rate Europe by best bogs full of wolves, Latvia would win going away. But that’s probably not the most efficient system?

41. Luxembourg

All the dullness of Switzerland, but with worse chocolate!

40. Slovakia

Clearly had the more “budget-friendly” divorce lawyer when it split with the Czech Republic. But at least it got to keep its decorative folk hatchets and human figurines made from corn stalks.

39. Romania

DRACULA! Was of course a real person, had a real castle on a cliff that still exists, and was not all that nice to his enemies when fighting wars against the Ottomans. But there’s much more to Romania than legendary impalers. For instance, it could give Latvia a serious run for its money in bog wolves. 

38. Albania

Snuggled in between Italy and Greece... prime location on the Adriatic... how are you not better, Albania? It’s that neighborhood that some realtor tells you is really up and coming, so you buy a condo there and then five years later nothing up and came and you’re screwed. Did you know blood feuds between Albanian families are still quite common? Because they are.

37. Russia

It really seemed for a few years there like Rocky IV had been prophetic and Russia was gonna start being cool. And then Putin happened. Shirtless. On horseback. All of Russian history is shaped by overreaching despots and misery, which explains all the vodka-drinking and how depressing Chekhov plays are. Man, even writing this is bumming us out. Free Pussy Riot!

36. San Marino

On the one hand, it’s surrounded by Italy, so how bad can it possibly be? On the other hand, have you ever traveled to Italy and had anybody tell you “Oh, you simply MUST see San Marino.” If that happened, it was probably a traveling Floridian imploring you to see DAN Marino. (Note: the year was 1985, in this scenario.)

35. Ukraine

Who knew that Kramer’s Risk-based musings about the Ukraine being weak and a sitting duck would end up being... semi-true? Also, chicken Kiev isn’t even really from Kiev, which feels kind of like a ripoff.

34. Slovenia

AKA the place you end up accidentally going when you misbook your ticket to Slovakia, but then realize is better than Slovakia, especially if you find yourself there during the Festival of Roasted Potatoes (actually a thing!).

33. Vatican City

Catholicism: the one true faith or one of history’s greatest moneymaking scams? Who’s to say?! But on the off chance that the pope (as chillaxed as the current one seems to be) communicates directly to God, we’re just going to throw it somewhere discreetly in the middle and keep going (looks out for lightning). PS... more restaurants please? (Gets hit by lightning.)

32. Cyprus

Just a little too close to Syria for your mom to be comfortable with you heading there for a few weeks of grapefruit agrotourism. But if your mom is cool/ terrible at geography, there are some lovely beaches!

31. Lithuania

It's a disproportionately fantastic at basketball for a nation of its size. This speaks to both the scrappy determination of the Lithuanian people, and the scope of leisure activities available in Lithuania.

30. Bulgaria

Imagine if Greece and Turkey had a baby that neither of them really ended up wanting so it grew up kinda strange, but in a lovable and endearing way. You have imagined Bulgaria!

29. Serbia

Despite a history that includes the frequent invocation of the phrase “war-torn” and, more recently, arguably Europe’s most problematic soccer fans (which is really saying something), Serbia has some legitimate things going for it -- parts of the mountainous countryside are legitimately beautiful and Belgrade is kind of an underrated city. But then, there’s also the other stuff.

28. Andorra

On the positive side, Andorra enjoys one of the highest life expectancies on Earth as it basks in 300 days of annual sunshine snuggled in between France and Spain up there in the Pyrenees. On the negative side, it has to deal with ski-happy tax evaders and frequently being mistaken for a less-popular wizard from a Tolkien novel.

27. Georgia

The country most often confused with Jermaine Dupri’s home state has had some semi-recent problems with a neighbor we won’t name, which is a shame, because its food is so damn good, and needs to be the next trendy thing all the hipsters eat after a vigorous debate about who makes the best fair-trade cheesecloth. Speaking of cheese, it's got bread bowls shaped like boats filled with the stuff, and uses spices other countries have never seen, because they weren’t on the spice trade’s newspaper route between Asia and Europe.

26. Iceland

Remember in the mid-aughts when everyone in Iceland became a hedge fund manager and bought Range Rovers and then they all remembered that none of them were actually hedge fund managers and Iceland’s economy broke? Man, that was crazy. Now, pass the fermented shark as I lounge in this natural hot spring while none of the locals appreciate my hilarious D2 references.

25. Finland

Scandinavia’s Ringo Starr. Rest assured this will all make sense later when you read about Norway. And remember, being Ringo still means you’re in the Beatles!

24. Austria

Germany, if Germans all of a sudden lost that famous sense of humor they're so known for, and spent all their vacation days skiing.

23. Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Hall & Oates of former Yugoslav republics (Bosnia is Hall, clearly). Did they fight about who got to have their name first, or was it just alphabetical? Anyway, if you’re someone who knows the country strictly from watching footage of violence in Sarajevo in the mid-’90s, it might have soured your opinion. But they (mostly!) rebuilt Sarajevo into a sneaky cosmopolitan destination that retains a sense of history, and they (thankfully) haven’t built over some of the most beautifully pristine wilderness left in Europe.

22. Montenegro

Montenegro is like the European equivalent of that girl who takes off her glasses in the high school rom-com and then gets to tongue kiss Freddie Prinze Jr. (RIP?) Affected by the Yugoslav wars in the '90s, tourists are just now re-remembering how damn aesthetically pleasing the coastline is, and that gives me a proper segue to talk about the fact that I once spent several days in the Montenegro beach town of Kotor eating Njeguška pršuta (essentially prosciutto) and avoiding fish soups.

21. Estonia

With an extremely tech-savvy population (Skype started here!) and a rather progressive government (especially in comparison to other Baltic states), this is clearly not your dad’s Estonia (unless, you know, your dad is actually from Estonia). Frankly, we’re pretty damn impressed, be it with its beautiful limestone cliffs and thousands of islands, 245 museums, carefully preserved Old Town in Tallinn, above-average Saku beer, or fourth-place ranking in English proficiency out of 60 countries in a 2013 poll. WE GET NERVOUS TRYING TO SPEAK OTHER LANGUAGES, OKAY?

20. Switzerland

Despite the breathtaking beauty of the Alps, various shimmering lakes, and Roger Federer’s one-handed backhand, we remain somewhat ambivalent about a country that prides itself on neutrality and making knives you can also use as tweezers.

19. Portugal

Hmm let’s see... frequently in the shadow of its more populous and celebrated neighbor... hard-partying resort towns... somehow simultaneously a bit underrated and not as good as you think it could be... dear Lord, Portugal is Spain’s New Jersey!

18. Malta

Once known primarily for being ruled by knights and producing sweet falcon statues sought by Humphrey Bogart, Malta is now known as a stable island nation where wealthy Europeans can go to enjoy pristine beaches and have gallbladder surgery.

17. ​Norway

If the Scandinavian countries were the Beatles (wait, are we sure they AREN’T?!), Norway is definitely George Harrison -- not necessarily the most heralded, but things just wouldn’t be right without him. Or it. This analogy makes pronouns difficult. Anyway, you’ve got Viking tourism, the Lillehammer Olympics, and fjords! So many fjords! No other natural phenomenon combines majestic beauty and fun-to-sayness the way “fjord” does. You’re all right, Norway.

16. Turkey

It’s ironic that this Mediterranean nation shares a name with one of the least-flavorful holiday meats ever, because its spice game is unmatched. Istanbul is an even better city than that They Might Be Giants song (and that was a REALLY good song). Try the kebab!

15. Sweden

You know how you get stereotyped for having an alarmingly good-looking population? By being alarmingly good-looking. Luckily, since everyone’s so used to the attractiveness surrounding them, it’s kind of old hat (a handsome one, though!). As a result, the beautiful people tend to be much friendlier on average than your typical conventionally attractive American who is currently berating someone on a reality show for not being there for the right reasons. It’s the kind of thing that can make you overlook quirks like consuming mayonnaise out of toothpaste tubes and occasional cripplingly depressing darkness and decide you might want to stay a while. Is that why they call it Stockholm syndrome? (Looks up Stockholm syndrome...) Nope! But the general point stands.

14. Poland

Poland’s had a rough go caught in the historical crossfire between Germany and Russia, but one benefit of all that misfortune is one of Europe’s more underappreciated cuisines, which in turn has the benefit of giving you the kind of stick-to-your-ribs, calorie-laden payload you’ll need for a long night of drinking. And you WILL be drinking, because Polish people are generally way friendly and happy that you visited, even the artsy types in Krakow, which is way more hipster than you were expecting. Poland will surprise you in ways that will finally make you realize Polish jokes are lame and submarine screen doors don’t even make a shred of logistical sense.

13. The Czech Republic

If you’re looking for a place to get fat, the Czech Republic and its pork knuckle dinners, fried cheese sandwiches with mayo, and 60+ breweries can help you do that rather easily. It's also got those pretty bridges to walk over, a pained history that ended with the beautiful Velvet Revolution, a leader in Vaclav Havel who was also a damn fine poet/playwright/keeper of a small mustache. Also noteworthy: the terrifyingly beautiful/giant Eurasian eagle-owl hybrid, which will definitely steal your small dog from you as you sit eating your mayo-laden fried cheese sandwich on that pretty bridge wearing your “Czech Me Out” T-shirt.

12. Hungary

One of the most underrated food destinations in all of Europe, we’ve previously waxed poetic about goulash, chicken paprikash, and that damn delicious turos csusza (aka, cheese noodles with bacon). If you’re looking for thermal water caves (and aren’t we all?), it's got the largest collection of them in the world. Thirteen Hungarian-born scientists have won Nobel Prizes, and on top of all that, Hungary's own Dennis Gabor invented holography, meaning hologram Tupac wouldn’t have been able to play "California Love" at Coachella if not for Hungary. OR IS THAT JUST WHAT HOLOGRAM TUPAC WANTS YOU TO THINK?

11. Greece

Greece is that friend who is TERRIBLE with money and constantly disappearing when the tab is due at the end of the night, but damn if you can’t cut him loose because he’s just too much fun. Reasons for this include, but are not limited to, a seemingly endlesssupply of island paradises, legitimate artistry with all manner of roasted meats and seafood, and shipping heirs who have sex with Paris Hilton. Also bonus points for sort of starting Western civilization.

10. France

France’s culinary contributions alone are too numerous to even begin to list... Champagne, Escoffier... NOPE! Not doing it. We’ll be here all day. And one could play the same game with art. And fashion. And philosophy. France has so enriched the planet that there won’t be any cheap jokes here about a certain propensity for post-Napoleonic military failures. As for the French people, their reputation for being occasionally... politeness-challenged, while generally overstated, is not wholly fabricated, either. Part of this stems from the fact that France has it good. REALLY good. And it knows it. France is basically that guy who was a complete LEGEND in high school and is still doing rather well to this day, but you still get the sense he’s kind of coasting on past achievements. In this case high school was sometime around 1805.

9. The United Kingdom

The parent from which America legally separated, just like the nerdy girl from Modern Family and Macaulay Culkin. Truth be told, the UK brings a lot to the table (the rich pub culture, the free museums, the music stolen from and then imported back to America), but if Scotland’s run at independence had succeeded, it would have ranked even higher (just to spite dad!). But as it stands now the UK still HAS Scotland, so, quite a package when you break it all down. Oh, sorry Wales, didn’t see you down there! You’re...probably OK?

8. Ireland

This entry won’t be wholly unbiased since both authors claim Irish heritage, not surprising since Ireland’s two chief exports are Americans who are disproportionately excited about their ties to Ireland and... slightly uncomfortable wool sweaters? But come on, the Irish pub has been adopted worldwide as a symbol for “this is a place full of friendly people who want to drink with you.” And Ireland has TONS of them! Guinness is the most massively popular beer that has fully retained its cred among beer nerds and people trying to quietly diet. Its countryside remains staggeringly beautiful even when it’s raining. Which is kind of often, but you’ll literally never find yourself more than 15 steps from a pub, so it’s all good, really.

7. Denmark

Raise your hand if you saw the whole “Denmark is the new hotbed of global cuisine” thing coming? Liar. Has a single restaurant ever done more to elevate a country’s worldwide profile? Prior to Noma's emergence, South Park’s description of the Danish as the Canadians of Europe felt pretty apt. But you know what? That’s high praise. Canada generally has its shit together, and so does Denmark. If you have mixed feelings aboutCopenhagen because of a bad chewing tobacco experience in your younger days, get over it and go there (“there” being Denmark’s capital and not to the corner store that illegally sold you chewing tobacco). There’s also a wealth of stunning geological features that will not be discussed in detail here because we can’t figure out how to make that “o” with the diagonal slash running through it.

6. Germany

Look, we all know the first half of the 20th century was kind of a rough time for everyone, but modern Germany has coalesced into a hell of a place (like, the good kind). Any culture so thoroughly devoted to beer and sausage has much to offer -- everyone should experience actual Oktoberfest at least once, as it’s far superior to when your local bar offers $4 Hofbrau drafts, blasts some Hasselhoff, and calls it an “Oktoberfest party.” Everyone should also go to Berlin, which for obvious historical reasons is truly unlike any other city on the planet. Everyone should also appreciate the fact that they keep things remarkably clean, generally speak better English than you do, and manage their money responsibly enough to keep some of your other favorite countries financially viable.

5. Croatia

Even five or six years ago, Croatia was still relatively light on the tourist train, but that has all changed as everyone discovered its crazily handsome coastlines, outstanding wine regions, and national soccer jerseys that look like pizza parlor tablecloths. Also a great destination if you’ve always wanted to meet the tallest current professional tennis player on tour.

4. Belgium

Amazing beers from 180 breweries. All kinds of waffles. Fries in fancy paper. An infuriatingly good national soccer team. Jean-Claude Van Damme. Harmonica player Jean “Toots” Thielemans.  Belgium is stacked in so many categories, you almost forget that it’s basically a nation cobbled together from three disparate factions that don’t actually like each other all that much but just coexist like tolerant, but aloof Craigslist roommates.

3. Italy

You could be a broke-ass college student irresponsibly bouncing around Europe and STILL eat gloriously in Italy on pizza and gelato alone. This is not to diminish the sophisticated heights Italian cuisine can reach, but only to say that the Italians have mastered a democratic deliciousness that puts other-worldly eating experiences constantly within the reach of the everyman. Few countries can boast so many singularly exceptional cities -- Milan’s sophistication, Naples’ chaotic charm, Florence’s enduring beauty, Rome’s... everything, and Venice’s generally disappointing, overpriced gondola rides. And that doesn’t even cover the less-metropolitan charms of places like Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and the Tuscan countryside (if you can avoid all the 30-something women who are a few years late on the whole Eat Pray Love thing). And THAT doesn’t even cover a bunch of other fantastic places we neglected to mention. Like Sicily. Oh God. We forgot Sicily. SICILY IS AMAZING PLEASE DON’T HURT US.

2. The Netherlands

There’s much more to the Netherlands than being so stoned that you don’t care that you’ve just eaten an entire 16oz jar of mayonnaise with your fries. Your country has to be pretty sweet if you’re the world’s leading supplier of flowers and decorative trees, but it also doesn’t hurt that it's got by far the largest port in Europe in Rotterdam, an elected parliament since 1848, historically tolerant and progressive laws (first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage), the International Court of Justice, and what many middle schoolers would envision as the perfect amount of bike lanes. Also favorable to middle schoolers: they LOVE putting chocolate sprinkles on bread here.  

1. Spain

When you’re simultaneously known for being at the forefront of modernist cuisine AND centuries of crafting the world’s greatest ham, you have a fairly intimidating culinary resume. What Americans started proudly calling “artisanal small plates” sometime around 2002, the Spanish just call “eating” -- except, you know, in Spanish. They are fiercely devoted to both napping and staying out irresponsibly late (which may have something to do with the recent financial crisis? We are not economists!). Still, Spain has a stunning and topographically varied landscape, two world-class cities, and its citizens only seem mildly amused rather than irritated when you mispronounce “Barcelona.” You’ve done great things, Spain. May we have some ham?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Octopus vs. Crab

Because Saturdays are meant for useless things discovered on the Internet, I give you an Australian man commentating the fight of the century; Octopus vs. Crab.  Its a reminder that anything can happen while you're minding your own business in Australia, and what life gives you with one hand, it tends to take away with the other.... tentacle.

  This is only one of his masterpieces, so if you're really bored check out Ozzy Man on YouTube.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Successful Cluster F*ck

Originally written and posted by Kim Quindlen for Thought Catalog:

1. You have a decent job, and you’re good at it. You work hard every day, and you always feel a sense of accomplishment when you leave the office.
2. But in addition to your sense of accomplishment, you also leave the office with a coffee stain somewhere on your outfit, papers spilling out of your bag, a phone that’s at 3% because you left your charger at home, and your coworker shouting at you because you left your ID badge on your desk again.
3. You’ve mastered the art of showing up to work looking put-together, but it’s only because you usually skip breakfast, you own dry shampoo, you put your clothes on while you’re still half-wet from a shower, and traffic has been on your side lately.
4. Your wardrobe would have a fighting chance, if half the crucial pieces weren’t missing at all times – under the bed, in a bag you still haven’t unpacked, in the dryer from when you did laundry two days ago, at your friend’s house, etc.
5. Even though you arrive to most places on time, you’re usually sweating profusely. This is because you’re always moving at a hundred miles an hour to make up for the fact that you always leave 10 minutes later than you should have.
6. You love doing your grocery shopping every Sunday and planning out all your meals for the week. But by the time you get home you’re usually tired, and half the time you end up ordering food for delivery and postponing your cooking until Monday.
7. Most of the time, you’re a highly productive person. But sometimes being highly productive means watching an entire season of a new Netflix release in a single weekend. In your eyes, this is a professional move because it gives you something to talk about at work on Monday.
8. People have told you before that your life isn’t real, and you’re pretty sure it has never been a compliment.
9. You’re great at taking time to yourself when you need to, and turning down a night out with your friends when you know you have a lot of stuff to get done. The only problem is that you never actually end up doing the stuff you planned to do. You’re usually so proud of yourself for staying in that you forget there was actually a reason for doing so in the first place.
10. You set really ridiculous, impossible goals for yourself. Which is why your desk tends to be piled up at all times with fifteen books that you’re half-reading simultaneously.
11. You love having a clean living space, but usually you can only give 50% of yourself to this noble cause. So if your kitchen and family room are spotless, your room is probably destroyed. And if your room is spick and span, your kitchen and living area could probably be classified as one big hazard zone.
12. On more than one occasion, a friend has texted or g-chatted you that they’re “bored” and that they’re contacting you because they know you can entertain them with a story of something embarrassing that’s happened to you recently.
13. Regardless of how well you pack your suitcase, you have at least one trip a year in which you forget to bring underwear. Or deodorant. Or everything.
14. Whenever you’re out with friends and someone needs something – ibuprofen, gum, deodorant, chapstick, tissues, whatever – you’re always the one that has it. But only because your bag is a black hole where convenience store items go to die.
15. You’re very diligent about saving coupons and awesome retail offers.
16. …But you never have them on you when you actually go to buy something at the store.
17. You have tons of Spotify playlists that you’ve curated for pretty much every single mood you could ever be in. But each playlist only has like five songs on it because you always get impatient and excited and end up moving onto the next one before you’re done.
18. You wish there was a word to sum up your existence of being consistently disheveled and levelheaded at the same time. “Hot mess” is the only phrase that has ever come close.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Always the "Home Girl" never the Girl Friend

"You're the type of girl who guys can have an awesome time with, you know, we can hang out, play video games, order a beer with you as our best friend and shoot the shit.  And yeah, we may even have sex with you, but we don't date you".

I listened, stunned that my male friend saw me as type "home girl".  And little did I know he wasn't the only one.

"He's right, you are the perfect 'home girl'". My other male friend agreed while I told him about my reputation struggles.  "Dudes want to hang out with you, you listen, you have the same interests and you're a pretty great wing man.  But you're so awesome that we forget you're a woman, you're just one of the dudes... with tits".

Was I really a "home girl" and what did that even mean?  So my research began.  The "home girl" is the female equivalent to a guy in the "Friend zone".  It's someone of the opposite sex you really enjoy hanging out with, but at the end of the day it's all platonic.  Of course my male friends insist the 'home girl' always gets laid, even by her platonic guy friends, but who knows.  The 'home girl' is that cool chick who you can talk to, go out and grab a beer, and not get judged for checking out the bar tenders ass.  And there isn't really anything wrong with being the 'home girl', unless of course you're stuck with the reputation, where even those closest to you acknowledge you're not the type of girl anyone would actually want to date.

"You're just super down to earth, most girls are so dramatic and with you, I know you're going to give it to me straight".

Thank you?

I listen to my male friends complain about the craziness in their lives and listen to them go on about how they just want a girl to shoot the shit with, but of course when that crazy girl shows up with her mascara dripping down those insane eyes; hook, line and sinker.  It got me thinking about the "nice" guys I've had in my life in the past.  We've all got that sensitive guy friend who is always there for us when the "bad boy" breaks our heart yet again.  We tell him that we want a nice guy who will treat us right, but as soon as the motorcycle engine and leather jacket come a knockin' we're smitten all over again.  It's a different cast, but the same script over and over again.

"You intrigue me".  Oh yeah?  I sat across from a friend at dinner while he told me that I was something special, intriguing, smart, classy, and beautiful.... of course in a platonic way.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong men and women having completely platonic relationships.  In fact, of the 4 people closest to me, 3 of them are male, but what happens when you're always that awesome friend?

Of course there are ways around this. I came across this website, explaining all the ways women should change them.  Instead of a messy bun or leaving my hair straight and plain, I could wake up an hour earlier and do something exciting.  I could wear more make up or let the "Girls come out to play".  And more than just physically, you can stop sharing so much, add a bit of intrigue or mystery. Instead of the dirty joke you really want to tell, try something else. But then again, that's when you tread into dangerous waters of being inauthentic and I will always tell the dirty joke.

"You're like one of those girls in every single romantic comedy ever.  You know, wearing an over sized sweater and drinking coffee out of one of those huge mugs that take both hands.  And suddenly it's raining and there he is, telling you he's realized that you're special and he'll kiss you in the rain".  I looked at one of my very few female friends and smiled.

"Rain in San Diego?"

"It's rare but so are you".
© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Judging By Your Drink...

I recently came across this article about what women really think about what kind of drink a man orders at a bar.  And as an avid reader of articles targeting men about what we women think (thank you Men's Health for instigating my obsession) of course I read on, curious to know what men are being told I might be judging them for.

They write:
Craft Beer 
You take the time to actually get to know the tastes of different beers. That Goose Island Honker’s Ale isn’t a means to a kickass drunken night for you; it’s just a refreshing, enjoyable beverage. That, or you’re trying to show off.

What I, as a woman, really think:
Well done, I'll have what he's having, unless it's wheat beer. No thanks.

Big Label Beer 
Why does a night out have to be expensive? You’d rather down a few tried-and-true Bud Lights, then use the extra cash for your cab ride home with that feisty brunette you’ve been eyeing.

I am so judging you right now.  First of all, why would you order a Bud, especially a bud lite when you've got a great selection of anything else in the world.  Maybe you don't want to spend a lot but c'mon dude, grow a pair and by 'a pair' I mean some taste buds.

Hard Cider 
You’re afraid to admit you hate the taste of beer, but don’t want to forfeit your credibility as a “guy’s guy,” so you quietly sip your alcoholic apple juice, hoping your buds—or the ladies around you—don’t notice the difference.

Ok sometimes we all crave a cider.  After all, I get it, I lived in London where as soon as the sun comes out, Bulmers seems like a great idea.  And it is a great idea, for an afternoon on a porch or by the seaside.  But at a bar?  Mmm I'll pass on you and your drink.


Michelob Ultra/Miller 64 
You like to think of yourself as that All-American, hard-bodied athlete. The only problem? You haven’t run more than three miles since the temperature dropped below 70. But hey, as long as you’re drinking low-calorie beer, you’ll always seem fit and healthy, right?

Again, why.

Bottom Shelf Liquor 
You like to drink to get drunk, and don’t really pay attention to things like quality when it comes to your booze—or anything else, for that matter.

Ok so you're out to go out, they're totally right.  But I'm not going to judge you, I've been known to have a cocktail with the house-whatever from time to time, especially if this bar is just my first stop of the night.  But if you're drinking it straight?  You can bet I'm totally judging.

High-End Whiskey 
You’re a guy who likes to savor things—the smooth taste of your Johnnie Walker Blue, the killer vibe of your favorite bar, the easy cadence of a successful date night. You know what you want—the finer things in life—and you’re not afraid to admit it.

You already interest me and I wonder if you really know what you're drinking or whether some older adult man in your life told you that this drink was the drink of real men.  Either way, bravah and give me a taste.

Old Fashioned 
You’re a smooth, confident guy who appreciates a well-constructed drink. You don’t need 15 organic ingredients to show off your amazing cocktail knowledge. You drink and do things simply because you like them. Or because you like Mad Men. Either of which is cool.

You drink that, I'll take a dirty Martini please and we'll be great friends.

This isn’t your first rodeo—you’re ready to party, and you take that very seriously. The sweet burn of a tequila shot going down your throat is your best tool, and you’re leaving all those vodka-soda drinkers behind.

So it's gonna be one of those nights for you, which is totally cool, but count me out.  The last time I drank tequila it was cheap and I'm pretty sure there was some line dancing and bad decisions that followed.  Now of course if you're sipping good tequila I'm impressed and totally down to join you, but I'll pass on the salt and limes.

You like to kick back at home with a dirty ’tini and some stuffed blue cheese olives, and that’s fine. But if you’re ordering at the sports bar, you’re telling your fellow patrons that you think very highly of yourself, and they should too. Not cool, man, not cool.

I disagree with everything they're saying.  You're ordering my drink which means you can hang.  I'm so down. Here's my number.

White Russian 
You’re the “class clown,” the witty one of your group. You’ll order this beverage just to be ironic—or because you’ve watched The Big Lebowski a few too many times.

"Milk was a bad choice". 'Nuff said.

You’re comfortable with your manhood; if you want a glass of pinot noir, dammit, you’re going to have one. Which is sexy. Unless you’re one of those assholes who sends back $20 bottles because of the “lack of legs.” You’re not a sommelier—just drink it.

Yeah, wine makes you sexy.  Especially if you know what you like.  I'm a big red wine fan, pass me an Oregonian Pinot Nior and I'm yours.  Also if you send back any drink I'm going to think you're an asshole.

Jack & Coke 
You’re a simple man. When it comes to your drink, all you need is liquor and a basic mixer and you’re good to go. And when it comes to the rest of your life, well, it’s much the same

Yup, you're simple and there are better whiskey's than Jack Daniels.  Educate yourself or let me help you.

and finally when it comes to girly drinks....

Girly Drink 
Maybe you’re trying to be funny and outrageous in hopes of capturing attention, but assuming we aren’t on a beach somewhere, what it really reads as is, well, you just don’t have a social clue.

You look like one of those kids who has a permanent Hawaiian punch stain where his moustache is supposed to be.  And no one wants to kiss that.  But to each their own, I get it, drink whatever you may, and enjoy your sugar induced hang over tomorrow.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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