7 Good Reasons Why You Must Travel Far and Wide

Pick up a world atlas or simply browse one online. Turn to the map of your state or province and see how small your area is compared to the whole state. Now, go to a map of your country and while your area may disappear, your “big” state or province becomes a small part of the country. Continue to a map of your continent. This time you may not find your state or province, and your “big” country becomes a small part of your continent. To finish, turn to the map of the world and what do you notice? Your country may not disappear, but your “big” continent becomes a “fraction” of the world.

This exercise demonstrates that you enlarge more and more your worldview as and when you travel far and wide.

The headline events of the past century and especially the explosion of the internet in the last decades have made you aware of the diversity of the world. However, no matter how well-informed you are about the world from your couches or armchairs, nothing beats jaunts to those places for firsthand experiences.

So in the following headings, we are going to see some reasons why you must travel a lot.

1. You get not only to know but also experience great places

The media (newspaper, radio, television, the Internet), people and books show and tell you about great places. But only through travelling can you get to really “feel” the world’s great places like the Hawa Mahal at Jaipur, in the State of Rajastan, India; Venice (Italy) with its gondoliers and their crafts on the many waterways; the Pyramid of the sun at San Juan Teotihuacan, not far from Mexico City (Mexico); Downtown Casablanca (Morocco), the chief port, with the Place Lyautey in the foreground; Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest Peak, and the Southern Alps seen across Lake Matheson, on the South Island; the American Falls at Niagara Falls, New York; and a typical mosque in Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago).

2. You get to know many different people, and as they really are

Travelling is a great way to widen your circle of friends and increase your understanding of others.

My many travels have enabled me to make lots of intimate friends in many countries of the world. The close relationships we have couldn’t have been possible otherwise.

While living in Africa I hardly came into contact with white people (and never even thought of it) because we lived in different communities inherited from colonialism. But when I went to Germany for instance, I made many friends with whom I shared many loved moments. This made my perception of white people as aloof or all racist to crumble.

Some time ago, I watched a TV documentary of a French television crew which went to Mali (Africa) to film an illiterate mechanic completely dismantle an old car’s engine, repair it and assemble it again. As the roaring car disappeared into the fading distance, they concluded that the African was also capable of technological and technical achievements.

Many such instances exist to tear down barriers built by false perceptions and make people appreciate each other.

3. You get to experience more cultures and customs, and be better able to relate to different people

I once paid a visit to a friend in a rural zone in the north of Ghana, a neighbouring country. As custom demands, he had to take me to all the members of his extended family. I was surprised to have us well served at the first place. But greater was my surprise to be equally well welcomed at the other two places. We came back to my friend’s house with him disappointed with me and me too full and a big angry with him for not even giving me a hint about what to expect.

In effect, in my friend’s area it is an obligation to serve a visitor food and an honour when the visitor eats well. So I did honour to the first home and less so to the second. However my inability to eat at the third was viewed as my not appreciating their meal and my decision to cut the visits short a disgrace to my friend with his family members.

This custom exists in my area to some extent. Any visitor must be offered water to drink before asking them the reason for their visit. But you are not obliged to drink some or all of the water if you don’t feel like it. You simply take a sip or touch the container (cup, calabash, etc.) and your behavior will not be interpreted as snobbery. But to say no is tantamount to “insulting” your host.

4. You widen your horizon

An American friend came to visit me in Togo and I took him to Région des Plateaux, the famed tourist centre of my country. This is also the agricultural zone of Togo. We visited a farm where one can buy fruits harvested right before one.

“Is this a real pineapple?” my friend asked, staring strangely at the fruit the farmer had sliced from the plant and handed to him.

“Why?” I asked in surprise.

“It wasn’t harvested from a big tree,” he said lamely.

I laughed my head off.

“For its size and weight, I thought pineapples grew on trees,” flushed, my friend explained.

The curious farmer laughed his head off too when I explained our conversation to him. He offered to show my friend pineapple plants at various stages of development.

In the same way, you love mutton but I think you will appreciate it more when you visit a sheep herding region in Australia, for instance; the same is true for cotton clothes when you visit the cotton farms of Sao Paulo in Brazil; coffee when you see farmers drying coffee under the tropical sun in Colombia; chocolate when you witness farmers removing the nuts from the pods (the first stage of processing chocolate) at a cocoa plantation in Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa); canned pineapples when you see pineapples on their way to the cannery in Puerto Rico, etc.

5. You experience another environment

Germany was the first European country I had visited. My ardent desire in winter was to see, and especially experience, snow. One dark winter night, an excited friend called to tell me snow was falling. I jumped out of bed, rushed outside and arms outstretched tried to catch the flakes falling from the sky. A passing German couple walking their dog flashed me amused smiles.

While I hate the “harmattan,” the dry hot wind which blows from the Sahara right down to the coast of West Africa, bringing a lot of dust and making the mornings and evenings chilly and the day scorching, a French expatriate friend found it exotic because of the fog it brings in the morning and the hue in the evening.

6. You live “great” world history

You may feel awe on hearing about (from a person or on the radio) or seeing (in the newspaper, on the television or the Internet) the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal of India, the ancient buildings (castles, cathedrals, chateau) of Europe, museums, the castles of West Africa (slave history), the plantations of America (slave history), monasteries, and the great standing tree sculptures of the Indians of America, but a visit to the places where they are found is a totally different experience.

7. You get hospitable climates

Well-to-do people in tropical climates often go overseas when the hot climate becomes torrid and it is not a secret for anybody that people in temperate climates also rush to places where they can enjoy the sun and the warm sea.

There are many other reasons why people should travel far and wide. But I think these 7 are enough to let you pack your luggage if you had never gone on a journey or pick up your baggage again soon if you have been on one.

You don’ have the money to travel?

Maybe you are not working yet (you’re a student or out of work) or you don’t earn much so you cannot go on a journey. Don’t worry. You can earn it through simple work from home opportunities you can do in your spare time. These include data entry, taking surveys, signing up for affiliate businesses, doing MLM, network marketing, freelance writing, call centre agent, etc.

Wondering where to stay?

Accommodation comes in all sizes and prices. The resource box below gives you a place to turn to when looking for a place to stay which suits your circumstances and your budget. The company cited has rooms for you at all destinations in the world.

Changing Oil and Filter

If you live within a city-limits, be sure to check with the city manager’s office to see if they have any regulations about working on your own vehicle in your yard or driveway. Thanks!

Park your vehicle on a level surface and put blocks of wood or bricks behind the rear tires.

Jack the front of the vehicle up enough for you to get under it.

Be SURE to put jacks stands under the body (behind the front wheels) or put some timbers under the tires and let the weight off the jack.

Put a piece of cardboard, or an old blanket, underneath the vehicle to lie down on (I hate working on the *ground*). ?º

Get a pail or pan that will hold at least 6 or 7 quarts of liquid to drain the oil into.

It’s a mess having a pan that holds 4 quarts and letting 5 quarts of old oil running into it! ?¼

You will need a wrench to remove the oil pan drain plug. PLEASE, don’t use one of those “adjustable” things. All they do is “round” the shoulders on the plug. Get the proper tool.

You need a filter wrench that will fit your oil filter.

Be sure the engine has had time to cool down. Hot oil will burn you, and burn you, and keep on burning you! ?¼

Now, the best way to go about this is to see where the oil filter is. If it will be just above you, leave it until last. Old oil will *drip* on you (yes!)

Put the drain pan under the oil pan drain plug and remove the plug, slowly. Once you have it loose, you can remove it with your fingers, it’s easier.

After the oil stops running out of the oil pan, put the plug back in by hand. Don’t force it, make sure you can twist it up easy, you don’t want to “cross-thread” it (you would be looking for me then!).

Tighten it with the wrench. When you get it “snug”, put a small amount of “pressure” on the wrench. Not too much, but we don’t want it to leak, either!

Now, move the drain pan (slowly) under the oil filter.

Take the filter wrench and slip it over the oil filter, being sure you have the handle where it will tighten up on the filter when you pull the handle toward you.

Pull the filter wrench handle toward you. Sometimes this might take quite a lot of pressure. When the oil filter breaks loose you can remove the wrench and turn it with your hand.

Have on cloth gloves or use paper towels because oil will probably run down the side of the filter.

Continue to twist the filter off and put it into the drain pan.

Unless your oil filter is positioned upside-down, you want to pour fresh oil into it.

Be sure to put oil on the rubber gasket. That protects the seal and makes it easier to remove next time.

As you put the new filter onto the threaded spout, be VERY careful not to “cross-thread” it. If you can twist it easily, you’re ok.

Once you get it snug, tighten it as much as you can with your hand (unless you’re a football player).

Now, I usually take the filter wrench and turn it about an inch, or less. You don’t want to get it too tight, it will squeeze the mating material and cause oil to seep from around it.

Now, jack the car up and take the supports out and let the vehicle down on its tires.

Raise the hood and remove the oil filler cap (the 710 if your cap is backward and has OIL written on it) ?º.

Most vehicles take 5 quarts (with filter) to refill them. Some take only 4.5 quarts.

I usually put in 4 quarts, crank the engine, check the oil pressure gauge, or light; check for leaks underneath the vehicle (plug/filter), then turn the engine off.

Let the vehicle set for about 15-20 minutes.

Pull the oil dipstick out and wipe it off. Replace it and pull it back out and look where the oil level is.

If it’s just a quarter to a half inch from the “Full” mark, I’ll add only a half-quart of oil, then check it again.

You will need to take the old oil and filter to a repair shop or a disposal location to discard it.

PLEASE, don’t pour it out on the ground! EPA!!! Remember, I TOLD you so! ?º

So, you don’t have to wait in line at the *quick* places to get your oil changed anymore! Never, ever, again.

Autocross Buying Guide – Select the Right Car

In my experience, autocross can be a very fun and exciting sport. I have participated in several events in my local area. I found the hobby to be very addictive as well.

Out of all my other hobbies, I think this one is the best “bang for the buck” as far as thrills go with your car. Everybody can participate. Every car (some clubs have exceptions to this though like no SUV’s, no Trucks) can race. The nice thing about this kind of race is that you are competing against others in your class usually defined by the SCCA, however, you are on the course alone so there is minimal chance of hitting other cars.

The hardest part about autocross (aside from learning how to race) in my opinion is finding the right car. Sure, you can use a daily driver, but that is not recommended if you are going to participate in several events a year. Autocross can create wear on the tires and other components very quickly and can get expensive very fast. I would recommend to get a vehicle that you can use for autocross. This can be a “trailer car” or a car that you can still drive on the road, but use only for this hobby.

There are 4 key components to consider when selecting a car for autocross:

1) What type of car to get

2) The Price of the car

3) The overall condition of the vehicle (if used)

4) Aftermarket upgrades/modifications

WHAT TYPE OF CAR TO GET FOR AUTOCROSS:

For autocross racing, some people would assume that the car has to be very powerful, small, 2 doors and modified. This is not entirely accurate. While that type of car would be nice, it is not required to be competitive in autocross.

Remember that most autocross events and clubs have the cars grouped in to some sort of class. The club I participate with follow the SCCA Class guidelines. The classes help group the cars so the same “level” of vehicles can remain competitive within each class.

This is done to avoid the “biggest and fastest is best” state of thought. It would be unfair to put a heavily modified Porsche GT3 up against a stock Ford Focus. This is why they do that.

So, to pick the right car for autocross, you would probably want a coupe or convertible FIRST if possible. Sedans can work well too, but some sedans are not geared for modifications, although, the sport sedans of today are really starting to take over.

Manual transmission would be recommended, however, if you have an automatic that is OK too. You may want to consider trading it for a manual in the future to remain competitive. Again, there are still “sport shift” type automatics out there that are getting better and better each day.

Ideally, you would also want a rear-wheel drive car for autocross. RWD cars typically provide better control and handling in most cases. I know some enthusiasts out there will disagree with me, but that’s OK. On the other hand, I have used several front-wheel drive cars that run with the best of them.

PRICE:

The price of buying a car for autocross is always the factor for me. I, like many others, cannot afford an expensive vehicle for autocross. There are, however, those that can afford it and price is still something for them to consider.

The $0-$5000 range:

This is the range most of us beginners want to start. Of course, free is GOOD, but consider the 3rd component (overall condition) when this option comes to mind. Several cars that can perform well and have a lot of upgradable options are the following:

1989-1997 Mazda Miata – Very nice power to weight ratio. It is VERY popular at autocross. 1979-1991 Mazda RX7 – Fast small car, handles well. Many upgrades available. 1989-1998 Nissan 240sx – Several aftermarket upgrades, handles very well. 1990-1999 BMW 3 Series – Very versatile car. You can find very nice models in this range now. 1988-2000 Honda Civic/CRX – I have seen several models compete well in autocross. 1984-1999 Toyota MR2 – Low center of gravity, great performance, mid engine. 1990-1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon – Many upgrades, some models Turbo AWD. 2000-2007 Ford Focus – Very competitive cars. SVT models available in price range. 1997-2003 VW Golf – Hatchbacks always like autocross. VR6 models available in range. 1990-1999 Acura Integra – Like the Civic, very competitive with many upgrades out there.

There may be a few more cars that I missed that fall under this price range. The method I use to hunt for cars can vary depending on the type I am looking for. I will use local classified ads, Craigslist. I will also use the bigger car searches and expand my general “hunting” area. I have successfully found great cars using VEHIX, AutoTrader as well as Government Auction Sites.

But what about the autocross cars above the $5000 range? Well, I am glad you are think that because I am about to list them below.

If you have some money to work with and want to get something newer, you can consider the following cars:

The $5,001-$20,000 range:

This range can include newer cars as well as pre-owned cars that are no more than a few years old. Remember, cars usually depreciate very fast, so as the years go by, some of the newer cars can be within reach for less money and are great for autocross. The cars below come to mind in this range:

1998-Current Mazda MX-5 – Still same basic car, but more power as they got newer. 2003-Current VW Golf – Even more modified than the previous versions, compete well. 1992-1997 Mazda RX7 – 3rd Gen is twin-turbo and can compete in autocross. 1992-2006 BMW M3 – M3’s are designed for racing. Some newer models will fall in this range. 1998-2003 BMW M5 – M5’s are very powerful and compete in their class well. 1994-Current Ford Mustang/Cobra – Very versatile car. Competes well in class. 1994-2002 Camaro/Firebird – Competes well in class. Many autocross upgrades. 2007-Current Mazda Mazdaspeed3 – Turbo, hatchback, competes well in autocross. 2003-2008 Nissan 350z – Great autocross car, very popular on the track. Special Autocross Kit cars such as the V6 Stalker fall in this range as well.

Now, this price range can vary in vehicles. A lot of these cars are still new and may require loans to purchase them.

The $20,001 spectrum will consist of some of the current-day models as well as the obvious “super cars” we all respect such as the Corvette, Viper, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus and others. I will not include a list for those because if you are buying one of those for an autocross car, you did your research.

OVERALL CONDITION OF THE VEHICLE (USED):

When buying a second car for autocross, treat it like when you are buying your daily driver car. You want the car to be relatively free of major problems. Autocross racing can put stress on the car’s frame, the suspension, the brakes, the tire and the overall body of the car.

You want to be sure that the car has not been in any major accidents. Frame repair or frame damage can be very dangerous mixture when you autocross. That is the MOST important thing to check for when buying a car for autocross. I have experienced and used the service by Experian called AutoCheck. They offer an unlimited number of VIN checks for one of their service options and the price is way better than the other services out there. I have used it when shopping and comes in very handy when you are checking the history of a vehicle.

The next important item to check on the car is major component problems such as smoke coming out of the back of the exhaust, major oil leaks (small leaks are expected on most used cars) slight/major overheating of the engine. Autocross is outside and you push the car to the limit. You want the major components to be in the best shape they can be. The mentioned problems can leave you stranded at the track if you do not look out for them.

I usually have some expectation to do minor repair or preventive repairs on my vehicles when I am buying to autocross them. As I stated above, small oil/fluid leaks are “OK” and can usually be fixed very easily. Small leaks tell us that the car is just used and may not be suffering from the leak as a result. Large/major leaks tell us the car may have been neglected by the previous owner and may carry residual problems unseen at the moment. When looking at a car, start it up, drive it around with the A/C engaged (even if it doesn’t work). When you are finished with the test drive, leave it idling while you walk around the car continuing to inspect it. If the car has an overheating problem, often this is the time it will show. This tip has helped me avoid several beautiful autocross cars that had an overheating problem.

Belts and hoses are my most frequent “preventive” repair I do, even if they are not a problem. It is always best to know when an important component has been replaced rather than to “guess” and trust the previous owner. Water pumps, too, fall in this category sometimes.

One thing people always check when buying a used car are the tires. Yes, this is important for an autocross car, but not to see how “good” the tires are, but to see if the car needs an alignment. Autocross is about handling and you need to be sure the car’s stock “handling” ability is where it should be.

Why not worry about the tires? Well, tires should be one thing to consider buying for your autocross car to begin with, so the existing tires should be removed anyway. Tires are probably the most bought wear item an autocross member will buy. A lot of autocross racers will bring a set of tires for racing, one for driving home (those who do not use a trailer) and some will even bring spares for the racing tires. This is so common that Tire Rack offers tires just for autocross. I have used them and they are the best place to get tires for this.

AFTERMARKET MODIFICATIONS FOR AUTOCROSS:

If you ever look into the aftermarket world of the auto industry, you know that there are literally thousands of places to look and buy. I will list a few spots that most people do not think to look, but surprisingly have things for the autocross fans.

First and foremost, autocross cars do NOT always need major upgrades to be competitive. A driver can use a stock vehicle and compete against fellow stock vehicles and remain competitive. Once you start to modify or upgrade heavily, you may start to move into different classes and compete with other cars that are equally modified. Keep that in mind when you want to change something.

Usually, I say modify the easy things first: Intake, exhaust and general tune ups. Most autocross drivers do not go far from that. These should be the first things you try to upgrade while you participate in autocross to get the most performance out of your vehicle.

If you decide to go further to be more competitive, my next recommendation would be suspension and body roll modifications. Please remember, certain upgrades in this area may change your class. Be sure to check your club or groups rules with these modifications.

Usually, the fastest upgrade to an autocross car would be front and rear strut tower bars/braces. They are usually inexpensive to buy and easy to install. They are also very modular meaning that when you buy these, they will work with other suspension components in place (usually). This modification helps stiffen the car’s suspension and frame and helps with cornering.

The next modification recommendation would then be the front and rear sway bars and links. These parts also help the body roll while cornering and handling and can sometimes be modular to the suspension system as a whole.

The final suspension upgrade is usually the most expensive: The struts (shocks/springs). This upgrade usually works well with the above items, but ads more stiffness, more response to the handling and sometimes lower the car overall for a lower center of gravity.

Once you have modified the entire suspension, my next recommendation would be to upgrade the brakes (at least the pads). This will help your stopping ability for those moments where a tap of the brake is needed during a lap. Please keep in mind that high performance brake pads usually wear much quicker than OEM.

One of the last things I recommend to upgrade is the tires. Now, I’m not saying that you should not FIRST buy new tires when you autocross, but I am saying not to UPGRADE them to an autocross/race tire just yet. Most autocross enthusiasts will tell you to get used to the stock/regular tires on your car first.

Once you get used to stock type tires, modifying them to a race tire or softer tire will actually improve your lap times (that’s the theory anyway).

One last note. I recommend replacing the fluids in your car with as many synthetics as you can. Synthetic fluids have higher heat resistance and can take the intense moments you will be putting on the car during the autocross laps.

Vintage Car Parts Is Like Looking For A Needle In A Haystack

And so much more expensive too. If you own, maintain or are planning to buy a vintage or a classic car, you better prepare yourself to a tough time looking for the much needed parts to bring it back to life. Classic or vintage cars have a certain aura of distinction and there is so much history in them that many people spend many of their time, efforts and money just to have one in their garage. But this is not for everyone.

Vintage car parts can be very expensive because they are not manufactured anymore. And because of this rarity, many people tend to ask for a large asking price if they do have one that is in working condition. Finding a vintage car that is in good running condition is rare, and if there is one, you can expect it to have a huge asking price.

As one may expect, a vintage or classic car part would come as used, so there is still the fear that the part may work now, but in the near future, it may still conk out. This can cause a great dismay to the restorer. To a newbie, all of this may seem as a very daunting task. But for those who are willing to do the effort, here are some places where you can find vintage car parts.

Before anything else, make sure of the model and make of your car. Some models may require special parts and the part that you may find may not work with it just causing you to waste your time and money. If you’re not the one who’s restoring your vintage car, make sure that you bring it to a specialized auto repair shop to ensure that the work done will be satisfactory. These specialty shops have the proper knowledge and skills in vintage car restoration.

One of the best places to look for a vintage car part is through the internet. There are now numerous websites that offer used vintage car parts and they have been tested for their workability. Looking through the internet will allow you to save some time in your search. All you have to do is to specify the make and model of your vehicle and the car part that you need. Many search engines can direct you to a site where such part may be sold. By doing some comparisons between different car parts retailers, you will be able to find a particular vintage car part that can be well within your means.

For some people, going to a junkyard or two is the best way to find a vintage car part. This can be a very tedious chore for anyone, especially to those who are not really familiar with car parts. But in the end, some enthusiasts say that it is more satisfying and they can get the part for much less.

http://www.Consumerreportcars.com/

Once again be sure that you get the exact part that you need. Junkyards don’t have money back guarantees nor do they offer warranties and have return policies. You don’t want to lose money over this and surely you don’t want to waste your time.

Finding the vintage car part that you need can be easy or hard, depending on the method of search that you choose. But one thing’s for sure, it is a very rewarding experience.

Dealing With a Stalker Takes Firmness and Persistence

If you’ve been through the experience of being stalked by an ex-lover, then you know how scary it can be. Unbalanced people who stalk come in all sizes, shapes and colors. It can be difficult to see just how troubled they are until a relationship is formed and emotions are invested. Frequently, when you do figure out that the person you’re with is a real nut-case, it’s too late to let them down easy and they are “hooked.” Here are a few tips on getting away from someone that you no longer want to be with, when they refuse to let you go.

Be firm with your decision

If you tell the person that the relationship is over and they cry, don’t soften and try to comfort them. Say what you have to say and keep your boundaries firm. If the person sees that their getting upset sparks a sympathetic reaction from you, they’re going to try and milk it for whatever they can to “buy time.” Don’t fall for it. If you waffle, you’re sending mixed messages, and the person will think that there is hope. Show that there is no hope, and that the relationship is over. No long, drawn out explanation is necessary. It is what it is. They may want to have “closure” and try to bargain or discuss it with you. Nip it in the bud quickly and get to the point when you break it off, don’t get sucked into re-explaining it. The person knows it’s over, but wants to keep you talking.

Cut off all contact completely

Assuming you don’t have children together, cut off contact with the person you no longer want to be with. Many times, they won’t take “no” for an answer and will keep pushing. Change your home phone or cell phone numbers if necessary. Tell others that the two of you knew together that the relationship is over, and not to encourage him to reconcile because there is no hope of it, end of story. Friends will understand this and respect your wishes. The idea is to discourage anyone from giving your ex any information about you, to feed his “addiction.”

Make sure your home is secure

Put password access only on your home computer, so unauthorized people cannot use it. Stalkers may try to access your e-mail or usage history. If they are desperate enough and have a key to your house, they may try to come in when you aren’t home. Change your home’s locks if necessary. Make sure all the doors and windows are locked. You can even buy motion-sensitive lights that will go on whenever there is movement outside your house, and cheap door-alarms to alert you if someone tries to open your doors. I found some on eBay and they work really well. They are stick-on so you can put them on doors and/or windows. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to an overzealous admirer who just won’t go away.

If things get scary, call the police

Don’t let a stalking ex bully or scare you in any way. If at any time you feel in danger or afraid, call the police and ask about getting a restraining order. Remember, a restaining order is just a piece of paper, so still continue to have your guard up even after you get one. The order will, however, help you put your stalker in jail if he or she continues to ignore your wishes and rights, to try to “win” you back into his life. The person is deluded and unstable. Some stalkers get mad when they realize that all their efforts to get you back have failed. Then, they can become even more scary as they find ways to get even, or go after those they perceive as your “new love.”

Long ago, I dated a man who initially seemed to be decent in the beginning. But, he came on too hard, too fast in trying to get to know me. He asked me to marry him a week after we met, red flag number one (of course, I said no.) Then, he’d show up unannounced at places I was going to, and question me about any man I talked to. He then let it slip out that he had been in a mental hospital. And, just for fun, he liked to stalk any celebrities that came to town to get their autographs. That was it, I ended it after two weeks of knowing him.

My breaking up with this needy man triggered him to go ballistic. He began calling anyone he thought might be a “new boyfriend” (there wasn’t one) and even threatened one of them with violence. He even moved into my apartment complex and was caught looking into my window one day. I moved away and changed my phone number. He’d even asked the guy at the local donut store if he’d seen me come in there, because he was desperate to find me. I told the man to say nothing, that he is troubled and not to give him any information about me. He understood, but it was embarrassing. The guy finally was out of my life but it was horribly scary during the situation. Years later, when I was at a car repair garage getting my car fixed, he came up to me, remembering me like it was only yesterday. Lucky for me, my car was repaired and I could make a hasty exit. A chill went through my spine, though. He wanted my number, and I told him that I was then married and left. He was obviously still deluded into thinking that he could somehow charm his way into my life, even if it was twelve years later. Amazing. This shows what a fantasy world stalkers can live in.

If you’re unlucky enough to encounter someone needy and obsessed who stalks you, cut the relationship off and don’t look back. Don’t be flattered by all the attention, or taken in by their sadness. Don’t talk to, see, or write the person. Leave them totally alone and go about your life. Don’t be predictable, so your stalker isn’t sure when you’re coming or going, if possible. Refuse to be victimized by this person by being proactive. Carry pepper spray, the one I used to carry was called Sabre, it fit on my keychain and was a potent mix of chemicals to level anyone, if needed. This is not being paranoid, it’s being preventative and smart. This person has put you in an uncomfortable situation, and to get your peace of mind back, you must do whatever you can to ensure your safety, just in case. In time, most stalkers will find a new “target” and back away. The more dangerous ones won’t, though. So, trust your gut and if you feel in danger, get help immediately. It can be a matter of life or death. Never underestimate someone who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. The storm will pass, just give it time, but watch your back and take precautions to stay safe throughout the process.

Ancient Temples of Java

The ancient temples of Borobudur, Sewu and Prambanan in Java are impressive monuments to Asia’s oldest civilisations. The Borobudur temple compound was established in the 8th century. It has been witness to more than 1,200 years of history.

The Hindu temples at Prambanan and Sewu Buddhist temple date back to the 10th century. The temples at Prambanan have been ravaged by theft, decay, earth quakes and volcanic eruptions. It is testament to the resilience of the local people that they repair and rebuild each time a nature destroys or damages their community and heritage.

The temple compounds are open to visitors and devotees making offerings to the gods. It is considered polite to dress conservatively when visiting the temples. Bare chests, shoulders and skirts or shorts that come above the knee are generally frowned upon.

Arriving in Java

I flew into Yogyakarta from Singapore. Many flights are also available from Indonesian airports including Denpasar (Bali) and Jakarta. Java is mainly serviced by the budget airlines.

Check with the Indonesian consulate web page to see if you need a visa to enter Indonesia.

Australians will need to apply and pay for a Visa on Arrival at the airport. The fee is payable in USD. Always keep your boarding pass from the plane to show to immigration officials when you arrive.

I was able to arrange airport transfers via the hotel where I staying. A driver with a clean, air-conditioned car was waiting for me when I arrived.

Getting around

Motorbikes are the most popular form of local transport. Becaks (pedicabs) provide tourists with an alternative method of touring the city. Negotiate the fare with the driver before accepting a ride.

There is very little in the way of organised tours to the temples. The best method for exploring these sites is to arrange your own transport. A local guide can be hired when you purchase your tickets at the temple compound.

When I arrived the city had recently been showered in volcanic ash from Mount Kelud. The clean up was still ongoing. To avoid the worst of the dust I decided to hire a driver and a car from the hotel. Bookings could be made for either a day or half day as required.

Borobudur Temple

The ancient Buddhist Borobudur Temple is about 40 kilometres from Yogyakarta. The temple attracts both tourists and pilgrims.

Bring your walking shoes, hat or umbrella to keep the sun and rain off your head. There is a long walk from the car park to the temple. Very little shade or shelter from the weather is available.

Borobudur is a fascinating and imposing structure consisting of 100’s of well preserved statutes (506 Buddha in total), stupas and carved stone relief’s.

Borobudur is on the UNSECO World Heritage list for great cultural and religious significance. There is a UNESCO billboard with instructions for entering and appreciating the temple compound for the uninitiated.

I was in Java about a week after a volcanic eruption had dumped ash on Yogyakarta and the surrounding area. Some parts of the temple were still closed for cleaning. It was raining constantly on the day that I visited. Not to be put off by the weather, I bought a bright red rain poncho from the market stalls located near the entrance gates.

The temple compound was not crowded. A handful of people in their brightly coloured ponchos could be seen walking around admiring the ancient temple.

I enjoyed being able to take my time to walk around in relative solitude. There were times when there was no one in sight. It is eerie to stand within an ancient temple and feel completely alone.

It was very quiet until I met a group of high school children on an excursion to learn about the temple.

The students were keen to practice their English language skills with me. Talking to the students made it a very entertaining afternoon!

Prambanan Temples and Shrines

Prambanan temple compound is about 15 kilometres from Yogyakarta. It is popular destination for tourists and devotees.

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia. The three main temples are dedicated to the gods Shiva, Visnu, and Brahma. There are 240 Hindu temples and shrines within the compound.

I was able to hire a local guides who spoke many languages to walk around the site with me and point out or explain significant structures when I bought my ticket to enter the temple compound.

My guide was an excellent story teller and had many informative and amusing tales to tell about the statutes and scenes carved in the stone relief’s.

I found that having a guide ensured that I saw and understood more about the temples, local history and legends than I would have walking around alone.

The compound is huge and the ground is very uneven in places. Flat walking shoes are essential.

It was fairly quiet on the day that I visited. I was able to walk around uninterrupted and enjoy exploring the multitude of temples and shrines at my own pace.

It is fascinating to see the level of detail and workmanship that has gone into creating each stone in the monuments. Every object is designed to be a thing of beauty.

Some of the structures only had the base and a few carved stones remaining. Others looked as if they had been completely restored.

Only temples and shrines that have sufficient stones remaining (75% of the original structure) have been rebuilt.

The Prambanan temples are surrounded by a large park that includes the Sewu Buddhist temple compound.

The park covers 39.8 hectares and contains the ruins of around 500 shrines and temples. You could easily spend an entire day exploring the site.

There is a small train that loops around the temples if you are unable to walk or have young children to entertain.

I did a loop of the park in the train to get my bearings.

The best way to soak up the atmosphere of the temples is on foot.

Sewu Buddhist Temple

The Sewu Buddhist temple compound is in the same park as the Prambanan Hindu temples.

The presence of the temples so closely together is evidence of the two religions co-existing peacefully at the time.

My guide informed me that it was common for the local people of different faiths to inter-marry with the women mostly followers of Hindu and the men followers of the Buddhist traditions.

The Buddhist temple is a little more decayed, but just as beautifully constructed as the Hindu temple. There are signs that display the original layout to help you make sense of the jumble of rubble and standing structures.

The Sewu temple attracts less people and you may even find yourself alone amidst the ruins. Devotees still come to the temple to make offerings to the gods. You mind find their brightly coloured offerings in various locations as you walk around.

The restoration process at Sewu is still ongoing.

The site that incorporates Prambanan and Sewu is now included on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Sick Cars – Millions May Be on the Road

What is a sick car? I am referring to cars that are lacking normal maintenance and/or may need some type of mechanical work. Routine maintenance of a car consists of things like regular oil change, keeping your brakes in good condition, and enough tread on the tires to be considered safe on the road. Some more serious items of repair would be radiator, belts, or even transmission problems. The longer routine and more serious repairs are delayed, the more likely your sick car will either run poorly or just stop running at all.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June, the number of unemployed persons was 14.6 million; the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. We also have thousands of people that have given up looking for work, as well as families working in minimum-wage jobs. That being said, we have a lot of folks with a limited amount of money trying to maintain their vehicles.

It should be especially noted that this is a catch 22 situation for the unemployed. Without transportation, it’s difficult to find and keep a job-but without a job it’s difficult to pay for maintenance and repair of a car. If you have a sick car or finances are tight, here are some suggestions that may help:

1. Baby Your Car–This is very important. Run your car either at the speed limit or just below. Don’t slam the brakes on at stops; ease into braking. These two things will slow down the wear on your tires and car. It will buy you time until you can get the needed repairs and maintenance done. Jack rabbit starts burn more gas and use more tread on the tires.

2. Phone Calls–Make phone calls instead of driving whenever you can. An example would be calling beforehand for store hours instead of driving to the store only to find out they are closed. If you conserve mileage, you preserve the life of your car. This actually makes sense even for healthy cars.

3. Car Pool–When going to gatherings or church, you can car pool. Nobody needs to know you are eliminating some of the trips your car makes. Take turns now and then with your friends to drive. If you do have a job, this is still a great idea to cut down on the usage of your car and high gas prices.

4. Do- It-Yourself–Of course, this is not for everyone. If you can do mechanical work, change your own oil and filter. Many specs and repair manuals can be found online for those wanting the challenge. This will save labor costs. Also look for discounted parts, including parts found at junkyards. Don’t forget eBay also has cheap pricing on many auto parts.

5. Ask a Friend–Local mechanics may do small jobs for a minimal amount of money either out of their home garage or tucked away in an unadvertised locale. Sometimes, even retirees enjoy doing this type of work at a very reasonable rate. So, ask your friends for personal recommendations. This worked for me when I moved to a different state.

6. Barter or Exchange Services–If you have some type of talent or services you can trade off for car repair, try it. Perhaps you are good at cleaning. Offer to clean in exchange for car repair. You would be surprised these days what works!

7. Walk or Bike–Yes, don’t always hop in the car when you can easily walk to wherever you are going. Biking to your local store is also an option; attach a small basket to your bike for the groceries. This is a real winner since you also benefit greatly from the increased physical exercise.

8. Public Transportation–Taking the bus is another great way to cut down on the usage of your car. If you live in a big city with a great transportation system, this may be the answer. This is another favorite of mine. I met some of the most memorable and lovable people riding public transportation. I saved a lot of money too.

If you have a sick car and a limited budget, you may be able to implement some of these tips depending on your circumstances or where you live. Whatever you do though, make sure levels are full-such as oil, water, and transmission oil. Levels too low can result in engine shutdown. I know; it happened to me.

Also be aware that your car may become “unsafe” for the road if certain repairs are delayed. However, sometimes without charge, a good mechanic can tell you if your car has reached that stage. Chances are your car will not get to that point. With a little bit of ingenuity and some of these tips, you may be able to return your car back to good health.

Beware of Hurricane Damaged Vehicles!

Nearly a half million cars were destroyed by two of this past season’s biggest hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. Some of these cars may not have received much apparent damage but they were totaled nevertheless because of water, mud, and debris which flooded engine bays and the interior. Damaged cars are supposed to make their way to the junkyard for scrap, unfortunately some unscrupulous parties are gaining a hold of the vehicle titles and turning around and selling damaged cars to the public. Should you be concerned? Absolutely! Read on to learn more about this problem and what you can do to avoid being stuck with a vehicle that is certain to be a lemon.

Let me just say this: it is not illegal for weekend mechanics to buy a salvaged vehicle, repair it, and sell it to you. What they must disclose to you is this: you are buying a salvaged vehicle. This is where most of the problems begin: the dishonest purveyors are not sharing this information.

Only 22 states require that the titles of flood damaged vehicles [which were totaled by insurers] be stamped with that information. So, if you live in any one of the 28 other states, be extremely cautious about buying any used car [check your local laws to see which group you belong to].

One organization is doing its part to help fight the problem. The National Insurance Crime Bureau [NICB] this past summer and fall sent teams to flood damaged areas in affected states to work with local police authorities. What the teams did was try to catalog all of the flood damaged vehicles and enter that information in a database, which is accessible online. Because of their diligence, nearly 200,000 car identification numbers are now available for car buyers to search at http://www.nicb.org

Car shoppers should always invest in obtaining a car history report from an independent company, such as Car Fax, as a back up source to verify information about a vehicle. Although the information supplied by these types of companies isn’t always 100% accurate, it can usually reveal whether a car has been salvaged, rebuilt, is a lemon, or has been flood damaged. Some guarantee their information so check the individual contract/agreement before you use their services to see what recourse you would have in the event a lemon sneaks by them and you purchase one.

So, how can we know for sure that there will be problems? Well, if Hurricane Floyd is a measuring stick then the potential for fraud is huge. In 1999, nearly 80,000 cars were damaged by Floyd and taken off of the roads due to storm damage. About half of that number were repaired and resold, many to unsuspecting consumers.

You don’t have to be a victim, so get informed. If a car is priced well below book value that can be a big clue that a problem exists, however don’t rely on price, instead do some research first before buying your next used car.

How Easy Online Payday Loans Saved My Life!

It may be hard to believe, but easy online payday loans did in fact save my life. I’m sure there are other stories out there similar to mine, but this one is definitely an eye opener — as it shows what can happen when simply “waiting” for your next paycheck.

A few weeks ago, my car broke down and I was left without transportation. This was terrible because I, like most people, rely on my car to get to & from work. I didn’t have any money saved and it turned out that I needed some major work done on the car — it’s the price I pay for not paying enough attention to my automobile.

I had but 2 options to choose from: hitch a ride from a friend & co-worker whom lived in the opposite direction of my job & home, OR borrow the money from somewhere and take care of the repairs immediately. Like most would do, I simply decided to wait until my next payday to take care of the repairs and have my friend cart me from & to work.

When he pulled up the first day, I was already feeling guilty, especially considering that he was going WAY out of his usual routine just to pick me up. That guilt only increased when he told me he was up an hour earlier than usual in order to pick me up. Suffice it to say, I was feeling pretty bad and decided that this wasn’t going to work out for an entire week.

That following afternoon, after I got off work, I started looking into payday cash advances and short term fast cash loans. It turned out that I could apply and have the money I needed within just a few hours. Like most, I was a bit skeptical and decided not to be “suckered” into this likely scam too quickly. Rather than just believe what I read, I did a bit of research and found out that these same day cash advances weren’t scams at all and they actually help a lot of people all over the world.

In all honesty, I was blown away at how virtually anyone could apply for one of these loans within minutes — all they needed to have was a valid social security number, a checking account, and a job.

After discovering this, I started my search for a payday lender and found one in less than 10 minutes. I applied online for a loan of $500 and was approved in under an hour! I was then told that the money would be deposited into my checking account within a few hours and I would be able to use it that same day, if not the next morning. With this news, I called up a local car repair service and had them tow the car down to their shop and repair it. A few hours later, the car was completely repaired and I was handed a bill for $446.84 — which was just shy of my $500 loan. I wrote them a posted-dated check for the following day, thanked them for the repairs, and then I DROVE my car home.

How did this loan save my life? Well, you’re about to find out…..

Just 2 days later, my friend — the one that was driving me to & from work — was killed in a horrendous, freak car accident. What happened was a huge semi truck plowed into the PASSENGER side of his compact car and he was killed instantly. Had my vehicle not been repaired, I would have been in the car with him at the time of the accident. Hence, I would NOT be telling you this story right now.

Transmission Repair Shop – Sneaky Tactics

I hate to say this but transmission repair shops employ some of the most dishonest practices in the automotive industry. They are able to get away with this for two reasons.

The first reason is for every 50 general automotive mechanic shops there are may be five transmission shops. So supply and demand naturally hires the prices these companies can charge. This is nothing new but some of these transmission companies get outrageous.

Second, unless you are a a specialist in this field you most likely know nothing about transmissions. Any technician can tell you anything and you have no verifiable way of double checking.

Here are some common scams in the transmission repair industry and some common mistakes that customers make:

We need a new transmission a shop will give usually give you two options. They can either install a brand-new transmission, which will cost a lot, or they can install a rebuilt transmission, which will still cost a lot but possibly be half the cost.

You have to understand the dangers in getting a rebuilt transmission. There is a good possibility that these will not be as good as a brand-new transmission or may not last as long. If you’re dealing with a reputable shop who has capable employees they can rebuild a long-lasting transmission.

They should also factor work up with some type of warranty. Do not get a rebuilt transmission without a decent warranty of some type. Make sure you get it in writing. There have been many shops who have sold customers rebuild transmissions and they failed within a matter of days or weeks.

Those same customers, of course being irate, came back to the shop only to find that that particular shop would not honor its “verbal” or “implied” guarantee. If you do however agree to a rebuilt transmission please do not come crying to the transmission repair shop when after the warranty you have problems again. He did go the cheapest route and you must understand that it comes with inherent risks.

Beware of transmission shops that have all sorts of low cost transmission maintenance services and specials to get in. Many of the automotive companies or what I like to call “commission fee based shops.” The shops pay their employees a small hourly wage but make it so they receive a percentage of their total gross sales.

Avoid these companies at all costs! These transmission repair shops have a system where they trick volumes of people every single day into their place of business with the lower at cheap rates and then convince them into buying services and parts they do not need.

This practice has become standard among many of the big box national chains and quite recently has been adopted by many of the small local ones. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something you feel you may not need, please, get a second opinion.

I have already touched a little upon the subject but I need to bring up the matter of warranties again. Every warranty and every guarantee needs to be in writing. Do not any transmission repair facility just tell you they back up all their work.

Do not just let them tell you you can bring your car back, and they will fix it for free, if within a couple weeks or months you experience the same problems they were supposed to fix. Every agreement should be in writing including all the terms and conditions.

And speaking of terms and conditions this brings us to the most common scam that most transmission repair facilities do. It is sad that many of these companies resort to what I’m about to say but all you have to do is look online and you will hear hundreds of horror stories.

You’re having transmission problems. You go to a local transmission repair shop and get an estimate. The parts and labor cost $1200. It seems fair see make arrangements to leave your vehicle with them for several days.

Within one day you get a call from the transmission shop. They proceed to tell you that the price is going to be more than what was on the estimate. The excuses are more numerous than the sands found on the beach. It could be any excuse from the parts costing more than expected to them not being aware of the certain problem when they first gave you the estimate.

So the result is that the price that was “$1200” is now “$3500.”

Now your typical person in this position has two options at this point. He can bite the bullet and pay the $3500, in effect paying $1800 more than what was agreed upon, or he can pick his car up.

Keep in mind that the cars is most likely already torn apart at this point. Here is where shops get even worse. In order for you to pick your car up the transmission shop is still going to charge you a fee for putting your car back together, storage, towing, and trust me they will find other miscellaneous charges to add upon that.

So you end up getting the work done, but in the process getting ripped off, or you’re left with the same broken car but you paid 500 bucks just to be able to pick it back up from a shop then attempted to screw you (and they did). It’s a no-win.

This is why you should only do business with reputable transmission repair shops. How do you know if the shop is reputable? In this day and age where honesty and honor are as common as black-and-white televisions you must do your homework.

Ask family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for recommendations. The good transmission repair shops are out there. You just have to find them among the many bad ones.

Once you get a recommendation from someone you know look the shop up on the Better Business Bureau, local websites where people post reviews, and forums. Ask a transmission shop for customer references.

If they are in fact reputable they should be able to produce one or two happy customers you can talk to. A little due diligence goes a long way because once they have your car you are at their mercy.

Hopefully this article will have giving you insight about the tricks transmission repair shops employ to make a quick buck and hopefully you will be able to take this information and benefit from it.