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5 Tips for Solo Women Hikers

Hiking is not just good for your body. It can also be good for your soul and mental health. How so? When you hit the trails on your own, it gives you time to reflect and enjoy the soothing sights and sounds of nature. And it can also give you an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, especially after completing a more difficult hike.

Though hiking solo is generally just as safe (if not safer) than walking in an urban setting, it’s always a good idea to take some precautions. The following are 5 tips for women who want to enjoy hiking alone. 

Always Let Someone Know Your Hiking Plans

Share your hiking itinerary with a close friend or relative. Let them know the times you plan on leaving and returning home and what trail you’ll be hiking. But be careful who you tell. For instance, it’s not uncommon for women on hiking forums to announce that they’ll be hitting a trail at a certain day and time, and then ask if anyone would like to join them. That is never a good idea. You never know who may be reading those forums. 

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Download a Good Hiking App

Hikers today have several excellent apps to choose from, including Kompass and AllTrails. These apps will provide you with valuable information, such as the difficulty and length of a trail, elevation gain, and directions. Most apps also have trail reviews, so you can read about firsthand experience from hikers. This information could help you determine if a particular trek would be safe to do on your own. Some apps also have a feature that will allow you to share your hiking itinerary with a close friend or family member.  

Stay Connected

Although you may want to get away from it all, it’s important to stay connected when you’re hiking solo. Whenever possible, stick to trails where you’re sure to have good cell phone coverage. You never know what can happen on a trail. You could fall and injure yourself or get lost. And when you’re by yourself, the only way to reach out for help may be to call someone. 

Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario

As the saying goes, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” When it comes to hiking solo as a female that means bringing:

  • A lightweight rain jacket
  • An emergency blanket, in case you get caught outdoors overnight
  • A whistle to alert others that you may be in danger or to help rescuers find you
  • Bear spray (if you’ll be in bear country)
  • Protection against a potential attacker, including but not limited to a dog, a knife, or mace

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

For the most part, hiking is a very safe hobby. But it’s never a good idea to let your guard down. For example, do not wear ear buds or headphones. On the trail, your ears can alert you to many potential dangers. And if you’re wearing headphones, you won’t be able to hear such things as an approaching bear or a human. You could also miss the sound of a rattlesnake alerting you to its presence or the angry buzz of a hornet’s nest. 

 

Making a Permaculture Keyhole Garden

No matter how serious you are about self-sufficiency, you probably don’t want your backyard to look like an industrial farm – and you may not have the space, anyway! Fortunately, there are ways to make any homestead look visually appealing, while also  requiring less square footage than you thought. One such method is the keyhole garden.

What Is a Keyhole Garden?

The basic shape of a raised-bed keyhole garden is that of a circle that’s half-bisected by a path that’s narrow from the edge almost to the center. In that center, however, the path ends in a smaller “circle within a circle.” That leaves the rest of the larger circle to be filled with a U-shaped bed of plants. From above, the whole thing resembles the classic “keyhole shape.” 

In practice, this shape allows the home gardener full access to any part of the bed from the center. (Of course, the plants on the perimeter can also be accessed while walking just outside of the circle.)

Advantages of a Keyhole Garden

The many advantages to permaculture keyhole gardens include:

  • Space-saving. Keyhole gardens eliminate the amount of ground taken up by access paths between rows of plants. In fact, a keyhole garden path requires only about a quarter of the space that a traditional bed of the same size does. 
  • Creates a microclimate. Keyhole beds can act as “sun traps” because of the U-shape of the plan. That helps northern growers, in particular, extend their growing season. To create this warmer microclimate, place taller plants at the northern edge of the circle, with the entire keyhole garden facing south.   
  • Aesthetically pleasing. Whether you’re growing veggies, herbs, a rose garden – or a happy mix of all of these – keyhole gardens create curving shapes that are “fancy” enough for even a street-facing yard. (And if you have the space to have several keyhole gardens on either side of a narrow path, you’ll create a truly inviting and productive garden space.) 
  • Encourages pollinators and confuses pests. The shape of the keyhole garden allows pollinating bees, birds and insects to fly from plant to plant without having to be as exposed as they would a traditional multi-row garden. In addition, having several types of plants within one small place discourages pests like the tomato hornworm or bean beetle, which prefer to chomp on the same kind of plant in large groups.

Making a Keyhole Garden

To get started, mark a circle that’s about 10 or 12 feet in diameter.Shovel out a path to the center that’s about 1 foot across, along with a smaller circle at the end of the path that’s about 18 inches wide. Put that removed soil into the non-path parts of the circle. 

Next, work the remaining part of the circle – the U-shaped garden – until the soil is loose, with any remaining lawn or weeds removed. Add any necessary soil amendments at this time, building up enough layers to make it raised, and mulch the center pathway. 

Finally, plant seeds and seedlings in the non-path parts of the circle. Taller plants should go to the northern, back edge of the circle. The shorter and more frequently-picked plants can take up the remainder of the U-shape, closer to the access path and inner circle.

5 Worst Major Airports In Europe

Few people enjoy air travel. The idea of being cramped on an airplane for hours can be daunting. However, your experience at the airport can make or break your travel plans. Canceled flights, delays, and lost luggage are all things that can make the airport the worst. So what are the five worst airports in Europe? 

1. Heathrow Airport

London’s Heathrow is at the top of many “worst” airport lists. According to a survey conducted by Priority Pass, airline passengers agree. This airport is known for its lengthy flight delays and lost bag problems. They also top the list for flight cancellations.

Getting to Heathrow will cost you, too. It’s a long journey via the tube. You can take the Heathrow Express from Paddington station in West London and get there in just 15 minutes, but it is an expensive ride. 

The good news is if you get stuck at Heathrow Airport, there is plenty to do there. It is a little like a shopping mall inside, which also serves as an airport. 

2. Gatwick Airport

You won’t fare much better at Gatwick Airport in London. It is the city’s second busiest, and reviewers say it is just as bad. It has some of the same problems, too. It is known for its flight delays and cancellations. It has warned people against bringing luggage to check because of their staff shortages. Gatwick has notoriously tiny waiting rooms, and on a recent hot day in London, people were passing out due to the lack of air conditioning. 

Transportation to and from the airport isn’t much better at Gatwick, either. You can take a long bus or train ride and pay less. If you want to take the Gatwick Express, it will get you to Central London in just 15 minutes, but the ride will cost you almost twice as much. 

3. Lisbon Portela Airport

Lisbon is facing the same delays and cancellations that are plaguing Europe airports. Passengers also complain about long lines at immigration with some waiting hours to get through. On top of all that, Lisbon is an older facility, and an increase in passengers creates chaos. That is exactly what happened as Europe lifted its COVID-19 restrictions. The queues at Lisbon backed up, and people stood in lines for everything. 

4.  Chania International Airport 

Chania Airport in Crete, Greece, is described as “chaotic.” Passengers there report having to stand in lines for hours at a time and sometimes even queuing outside the airport. If you are stuck there, there is little to do but wait. This airport doesn’t offer much dazzle and entertainment. What food you can get isn’t the best and is costly. There is also minimal seating. 

5. Crete Herakleion International Airport

Unfortunately, you won’t do much better at the Herakleion in Crete. It has a reputation for having long lines and no air conditioning. While you can find something to eat there, you will pay top dollar for it. Also, the bathrooms are dirty and unkept. 

Flying is taxing at best. When the airport is the worst, it impacts your whole trip. 

 

How To Help Your Kids Learn About History

History is an exciting subject that can take you through time to experience the world from other people’s perspectives. It is not just a list of names and dates, but rather the story of cultures, including the rise and fall of empires, the introduction of new inventions, and how our modern cultures came to be. 

Introducing history to children well can help them appreciate this exciting subject. Here are some key strategies to help your kids learn history and build a love for the subject.

Introduce quality historical fiction

Good historical fiction books can bring time periods alive. Rather than just reading boring recitations of who did what and when they did it, historical fiction creates a world that the child can envision and better understand. They can see the historical world through the eyes of someone they can relate to and start to see their own place in history. It will help them imagine what it might have been like to live during different periods, which will then help them make sense of all the changes and events that took place in the lives of the characters. 

Use hands-on learning

Some of the best memories people have of their school days come from exciting projects, and history can be full of them. Hands-on learning experiences, such as using heavy whipping cream to make butter in the classroom or learning how to knit, can help children better appreciate the type of chores children their age may have done a few hundred years ago. They will then find it easier to relate to the children of the past and associate fun and excitement with this subject. An interest in history inspired by projects can then carry the students through other types of learning. 

Use timelines

Timelines can be a great way to help children organize dates. Often, history classes cover so many different cultures and events that everything can start to feel muddled together. A timeline helps to lay everything out so that people can see and understand what was going on in China at the same time as Rome and South America. History will start to make more sense. 

Visit museums

Explore and visit museums so children can personally see items from earlier eras. Rather than looking at pictures, they can see objects that people hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago touched and used. This will also help history come alive and inspire interest in the student. 

Speak to those who have lived it

First-hand accounts are immensely beneficial in history. For modern history, find community elders who lived through certain events. They can tell their story about different wars and the historical events and changes in their lifetime. 

If you want to teach children about events older than modern history, you can seek out first-person accounts of the targeted events. They can also help the historical narrative become more alive and interesting for children as they start to imagine what living back then was like.

History is an exciting subject, helping to educate current generations about the past so that we can all better understand our place in history. If you want to inspire children about the subject, consider incorporating some of these ideas to make the subject more engaging and interesting for these younger learners.

 

How To Hack Your Subconscious Mind To Improve Your Life

Your mind dictates your happiness levels and how you see the world. In a rut? Want to change? Luckily, this is possible because the brain is very flexible. With the right strategies, you can easily hack your subconscious mind and improve your life. Check out these five ideas.

1. Meditation
Meditation isn’t hard. You just lie there and let your mind go. If your mind tends to wander, you can pop on a guided meditation video or use a mediation app.

Clearing your mind offers a lot of benefits. In the moment, it’s relaxing, but the effects last much longer than the few minutes you devote to this practice. Regular meditation reduces stress and anxiety. It helps your concentration. It also makes you a kinder and more compassionate person.

2. Gratitude
The practice of gratitude can also reshape your brain. Start every day by writing down or saying three things that you’re grateful for. If you’re getting stuck on the same item, try to be more specific. For instance, if your dog is the first thing that jumps to mind every day, just get a little more granular. Note that your are grateful for the feel of their fur, the way they greet you after work, or how happy they are when they see a squirrel.

Over time, this practice will effectively create new patterns in your brain. You might start to think,”Ugh, I don’t want to do the laundry or cook dinner.” But, then your subconscious will go, “But I sure am grateful for my wardrobe or the fridge full of food.” Over time, your brain may even stop the complaints and jump straight to gratitude. This will change your life.

3. Positive affirmations
Your brain develops grooves between your neurons, and the easiest thoughts are the ones that are well grooved into your brain. But here’s the good news — you can make new grooves in your brain.

Often, people train their brains to think negative thoughts about themselves. Their brains may be accustomed to thinking, I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, or I can’t do x. Positive affirmations can help you get beyond these destructive thoughts. Choose a perception that you want to change about yourself and repeat it every day.

This can be a very simple affirmation such as “I am a good person.” Or it can be a more pointed thought such as “I am motivated to work hard.” Just by saying and feeling this thought every day, you will create a new pattern in your brain. Affirmations also help people to eat better and exercise more.

4. Hypnosis 

Hypnosis can affect your brain in very powerful ways. It can help you lose weight, quit smoking, or make other positive changes in your life. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis cannot make you do something that you don’t want to do. Hypnosis is a form of guided meditation that can change how your brain processes information.

For instance, if you want to quit smoking and are having trouble on your own, hypnosis can alter how your brain thinks of smoking. It can help you see yourself as a non-smoker, and once you truly believe that, you’ve kicked the habit.

5. Exercise
Your brain doesn’t exist on its own. It’s part of your body, and if you want to hack your subconscious, you need to think about yourself as a holistic person with an interconnected brain and body.

Exercise can help your brain in many ways. It can help you learn and think more effectively. This is true for people of all ages. You can’t just sit and learn. You need to punctuate your day with physical activity. Staying active can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.

How To Maintain Your Retro Computer: 5 Tips for Longevity

Whether you consider yourself a computer collector or are simply nostalgic for the “good old days,” having a retro computer can be quite the experience. Older computers can take you back in time—and they can also hold a fair amount of value. At the same time, retro computers tend to have a lot of delicate parts that could fail at any time. The good news? By following a few practical tips, you can keep your retro computer running like new.

1. Avoid Too Much Natural Light

Many older computers have towers, keyboards, monitors, and other major components that are made of plastic. And while it’s true that plastic is quite durable, it can also break down over time. This breakdown can be accelerated by prolonged exposure to harsh UV light. 

To avoid discoloration and deterioration of plastics, try to keep your retro computer out of direct sunlight. This means storing it away from a large window (or using shades/curtains to protect your computer from light) whenever possible.

2. Take Control of Dust

Dust is another common problem for electronics, and this is especially true for older computers. Even a small amount of dust buildup could cause a piece of hardware to break down completely or cause a bad connection on the motherboard. Being diligent about dusting in rooms where retro computers are kept can make all the difference, as can using a high-efficiency air filter in your home.

3. Protect Against Power Surges

Unfortunately, an unexpected power surge can cause serious damage to a retro computer that’s been left plugged in. Even if your computer isn’t on at the time of a power surge, its hardware and other components could be damaged. The good news? Avoiding this is as simple as either unplugging your retro computer when it’s not in use or plugging it into a surge protector.

4. Be Mindful of Humidity

Moisture is among the worst enemies of electronics, regardless of age. You should be especially careful when it comes to moisture and retro devices, however. Take humidity readings regularly and make sure that relative indoor humidity doesn’t surpass 50%-60%. If you live in a climate that sees higher humidity, you may want to consider running a dehumidifier in your home (or, at the very least, in the room where your retro computer is kept).

5. Stock Up on Backup Parts

Inevitably, the parts on a retro computer will fail over time. Because these parts can be difficult to come by, it’s always a good idea to keep a stock of common replacement parts on hand. This includes a motherboard, graphics card, hard drive, and similar hardware components. This way, you won’t have to scour for a replacement and wait for shipping when the time comes.

Keep Your Computer Running Like New

Taking care of a retro computer does take a little more time and effort than caring for a modern device, but by following these tips, you can keep your older computer running well for years to come!

Is Landfill Mining the Future?

Across the globe, more than two billion tons of waste is dumped into landfills each year. And while landfills are certainly a necessity for the disposal of waste, the reality is that they often contain high percentages of material that could have been recycled or reused. As landfills run out of space and the ecosystem suffers, a new practice known as landfill mining aims to alleviate concerns.

What is Landfill Mining?

Specifically, landfill mining refers to a practice where existing landfills are mined for recyclable and/or reusable materials that were dumped there. As these materials are extracted from landfills, they can be sent to recycling centers, sold to scrap markets, or otherwise repurposed. The idea is that by removing recyclable/reusable materials from landfills, it is possible to free up space for additional waste while also helping the environment. In some cases, landfill mining can also be used to remove potentially dangerous materials (such as batteries and other hazardous waste) from landfills.

There are various methods for landfill mining, ranging from the use of large magnets and mass excavators to vibratory screens and trommels. The technique used in any given landfill mining project will depend on the exact type of waste being pursued, as well as the size and makeup of the landfill itself.

The Potential of Landfill Mining

There are many possible benefits to using landfill mining as a means of extracting recyclable and/or hazardous materials from landfills across the globe. In removing materials that should not be in landfills to begin with, it is possible to free up space. Because density/space issues are a real concern within landfills across the globe, this could be a huge benefit.

Meanwhile, removing materials from landfills through mining can also help to protect the environment by ramping up recycling efforts. Groundwater quality can also be protected, as hazardous materials that would otherwise break down and leach into groundwater can be removed through effective landfill mining practices.

What the Future May Hold

Only time will tell how practical and cost-effective land mining efforts will be, especially in the long run. There are currently a lot of concerns about the cost of land mining as a practice, as well as the potential implications of disturbing landfills and moving waste. There is some concern, for example, that disturbing landfills through mining could generate additional methane gas emissions, which could undermine the environmental goals of the practice. Ultimately, more studies will need to be done to determine whether landfill mining is a practical long-term solution for the planet’s waste crisis.

In the meantime, however, everybody can do their part by participating in a local recycling program; this can help to keep waste out of landfills. Likewise, following proper disposal procedures for hazardous materials can keep landfills safer and protect the environment (including local groundwater supplies). If everybody works to do their part, even the smallest of gestures can add up to make a huge difference for our planet and its future generations.

How To Get Started Surfing

Have you always wanted to learn how to hang 10 like Duke Kahanamoku and other surfing legends? If that’s your dream, you need to learn how to crawl before you can walk – so aim to start with the basics. To get started, you’ll need a 10-foot-long soft-top surfboard and the leash to match. Then, don your wetsuit and head out to where the waves break in your area. Upon arriving, just follow these four simple steps to start tackling the waves and move ever closer to realizing your dreams.

1. Practice on the Shore

Timing is everything when it comes to surfing like the pros. So, you need to have your muscle memory dialed in ahead of time to avoid missing out on wicked nice waves. To do that, you’ll want to practice popping up onto your board well before you leave the beach.

Start by laying on your belly in the sand in the paddling position. Then, pretend the wave is coming your way and push off with your hands while jumping to your feet. Repeat until the motion feels as smooth as butter.

Note where your feet naturally land, too. If you have your left foot out front, then you have a regular stance. Right foot out instead? Then, you’re goofy-footed. Either way, attach that ankle strap to your rearward foot before hitting the waves.

2. Watch and Learn

As a beginner, you need to watch the surf for about 30 minutes to get the lay of the land.

While gazing at all the action on the water, you’ll get to see:

  • The overall size of the waves
  • Where the waves break
  • Overall skill level of the surfers

You’ll also get to see how the surfers paddle out and give each other the right of way for each wave. Only one surfer usually gets to ride each wave, so everyone has to take turns.

The only exception is when waves peel in both directions, causing surfers to call out right or left before taking their turn. In that case, two surfers will ride each wave – one going in each direction.

3. Paddle Out to the Wave

Once you understand how things work, take your board into the water and paddle out to the lineup. As you do that, be courteous always and try to stay out of the way. Pay attention to the surfers ahead, so you know when it’s your turn.

4. Pop Up at the Right Moment

On your turn, watch for the wave you want to ride, and then turn toward the shore while laying down on your board. From there, start steadily paddling while saving a burst of energy right at the end.

As soon as you feel the wave start to lift up the tail of your board, put your full effort into paddling. Keep it going until you feel a roller-coaster-like sensation in your stomach as the wave lifts you up.

Then, at just the right moment, pop up onto the board like you practiced. Keep your eyes up and knees bent while balancing with your arms. If you just end up falling over, you likely did not paddle long enough to fully catch the wave.

With enough time and effort, you’ll slowly master the movements needed to expertly surf the waves. After that, it’s just a matter of adding fun tricks to the mix until you’re hanging ten like the pros. 

How To Make Key Life Decisions Without Getting Stressed: 5 Core Principles

If you are facing a major decision and who isn’t, you need to have a way to handle the choice with less stress. The Benjamin Franklin method is a way to start thinking about a difficult choice. Then, you can apply five core principles of planning, seeking advice, tapping the subconscious mind, flexibility, and taking a test drive.

Good Ole Ben

Benjamin Franklins’s method for approaching a major decision is to make two columns of line items about the decision. In one column are the pros. In the other, the cons. Then, add a weight to each factor according to its importance.

Eliminate the pros and cons that have equal weight by pairing them up to cancel them out. Then, if the weight of two pros equals the weight of one con, eliminate all three. Do the same in reverse. If the weight of two cons equals one pro, eliminate all three.

This method helps you think about the possibilities and reduces the extra concerns, so you can focus on the key elements.

You can use the Benjamin Franklin method with these five core principles to improve your key life decisions.

1. Take Time to Plan

Major life decisions may be stressful because so many things are involved. Rather than make a rash choice with insufficient information, take time to understand all the ramifications. Investigate your idea, and then plan for the change.

2. Work with an Advisor

You do not have to make these major life decisions alone. If you have someone you trust, confide in them and ask for their advice. You don’t have to follow their advice; however, it is good to know what they think.

Speak to a professional who has expert knowledge about the decision you are facing. You may benefit from the insights they learned from their experience.

3. Sleep On It

Find the inner voice that guides you by letting your subconscious mind work on the decision overnight while you are asleep. Some believe that they have contact with angels. Others call these helpers spirit guides.

Put a pen and notepad on the side of your bed. Right before you go to sleep, write down the question that you want to be answered. If you wake up in the middle of the night, jot down everything you can remember before you fall back asleep. Read your notes in the morning. Notice any feelings or reactions you have about them.

Take a nice relaxing warm shower in the morning and let your mind wander. You may find sudden clarity and realization that you know what to do in this relaxed state of mind.

4. Be Flexible

Suppose you decide to try out for the Navy Seals. What if you fail to make the grade? Many fail. Rather than give up, you might consider expanding your decision from specifically joining the NavySeals to joining the military in another capacity.

Don’t get stuck in any predetermined cultural modes when exploring options. Find your purpose. You may find it just as interesting to enjoy a disciplined life as a Buddhist monk instead of being a soldier.

5. Take a Test Drive

Many life decisions have the possibility of trying out a smaller commitment before making a major one. Want to work for a certain firm? Consider interning there for a few months first. Think you might like to live in another place? Take a working vacation to a place you think you may want to live and work there for a short time to get a feel for the locals and the lifestyle.

Correcting Your Posture Is Hard: 5 Steps To Help Make It Easier

The modern world conspires to make us slouch. We hunch our shoulders to use our phones. We droop in chairs while we labor at desks. We sprawl on sofas to watch TV.

Poor posture leads to spinal weakness, back and neck pain and even bad digestion. It isn’t easy to correct your posture in today’s world, but here are five steps to put you on the path to better body position and better health.

1. Stand Up Straight

You’ve heard this before, and you know you should, but that doesn’t make it easy. Ideally, if you look at yourself side-view in a mirror, your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders should line up. If they don’t, try this: build your posture from your feet up, starting with the feet pointed straight, hip-width apart. Align your knees over your ankles the best you can. Continue through your hips and shoulders as you’re able.

Some people say to pull your shoulders back. Instead, tighten your abdominal muscles, pulling up through your groin, and extend your back, and your shoulders will go back naturally.

2. Practice Healthy Sitting

For desk workers, sitting is unavoidable. Sit without leaning forward or to one side. Keep your feet flat on the floor, pointed forward, hip-width apart. Every few minutes, roll your hips forward and straighten your back. Describe a nice curve in your lumbar region. If you wear glasses, they should correct so that you comfortably read with your back straight.

Stand, stretch and walk occasionally. Consider a sitting alternative such as a knee chair or a sit-to-stand desk.

3. Practice Healthy Device Usage

Our phones may be responsible for more neck and back pain that any other modern invention. Visit any sidewalk and you’ll see people bent over as if their phones are tugging on them. Instead of bending to your phone, bring your phone to you. Look down at it by moving only your eyes and not your head. Again, the right prescription is critical for glasses-wearers.

Occasionally straighten up, extend your neck and look back overhead. You can also pivot your head and lean it left and right.

4. Be Active

Just about any exercise, from walking to dancing to sports, will improve your posture. Yoga, tai chi, Pilates and different strength and stretching exercises can work wonders. If you sit most of the day, learn some exercises you can do in your desk chair.

Try to maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds work your abdominal muscles in a stressful way.

5. Remind Yourself To Straighten Up

Most people can stand or sit straight for a few minutes, but fewer can do it indefinitely. If you’re intent on a task in your chair, it’s easy to go an hour or more with slumped posture and not even notice.

Use reminders. Put a “Sit Up!” sticky note on your monitor. Set a recurring 10-minute timer on your phone or watch to beep and remind you. Be deliberate of posture as you sit down and stand up and when you go up or down stairs. Find a “posture buddy” to keep each other accountable.