History Matters Too...

The title of this post is a nod to my wife who is currently getting a Masters Degree in History. I give her a hard time about her love of all things history related, but I caught this article below and it struck a chord with me.

One of those cognitive scientists spoke on the Tuesday panel: Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia who writes about the science behind reading comprehension. Willingham explained that whether or not readers understand a text depends far more on how much background knowledge and vocabulary they have relating to the topic than on how much they’ve practiced comprehension skills. That’s because writers leave out a lot of information that they assume readers will know. If they put all the information in, their writing would be tedious.

But if readers can’t supply the missing information, they have a hard time making sense of the text. If students arrive at high school without knowing who won the Civil War they’ll have a hard time understanding a textbook passage about Reconstruction.

I’ve always felt fortunate that in my younger years I didn’t have TV. My parents could only afford to pay for cable whenever the summer Olympics came around, and we never got the free network channels (lived in a valley). This meant that I read a TON as a kid. My reading comprehension was always years ahead of my peers as I got further in to my school years and was reading books meant for adults almost before I was a teenager.

The implication is clear. The best way to boost students’ reading comprehension is to expand their knowledge and vocabulary by teaching them history, science, literature, and the arts, using curricula that that guide kids through a logical sequence from one year to the next: for example, Native Americans and Columbus in kindergarten; the colonial era and the American Revolution in first grade; the War of 1812 and the Civil War in second grade, and so on. That approach enables children to make sense of what they’re learning, and the repetition of concepts and vocabulary in different contexts makes it more likely they’ll retain information. Not to mention that learning content like this can be a lot more engaging for both students and teachers than the endless practice of illusory skills.

I look back on all those things my mother had me do as a child during summer breaks. Keep a journal. Read certain books. Write about those books.

After reading this, I appreciate that now more than ever. Looks like I’ll have to start siding with the wife when she wants to take the family to all those historical sites now.

Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years


These are the North American Mountains You Want to Photograph

For many landscape photographers, mountains represent the pinnacle of subject matter.

Not only can you photograph gorgeous mountain peaks covered in snow, but there's also plentiful opportunities to capture things like forests, lakes, rivers, glaciers, wildflowers, wildlife, and even the Northern Lights.

The question, of course, is what mountain ranges should you photograph?

Here's a few landscape photography tips for the next mountains you need to photograph.

Top Mountain Ranges in North America That Photographers Love to Photograph


These are the North American Mountain You Want to Photograph

For many landscape photographers, mountains represent the pinnacle of subject matter.

Not only can you photograph gorgeous mountain peaks covered in snow, but there's also plentiful opportunities to capture things like forests, lakes, rivers, glaciers, wildflowers, wildlife, and even the Northern Lights.

The question, of course, is what mountain ranges should you photograph?

Here's a few landscape photography tips for the next mountains you need to photograph.

Top Mountain Ranges in North America That Photographers Love to Photograph


How to Use Instagram as a Travel Guide

Use geotags

Instagram has always allowed you to tag your location in posts and you can now tag them in stories as well. By clicking the location tag, you can not only see pinpointed where the hotel, restaurant, or graffitied wall is located on a map—you can see photos taken by other Instagrammers there.

"Any time I travel and want to check out a new restaurant, I look up that place on Instagram's geotags to see all the photos people posted at that location. Ninety-five percent of the time I choose what to order off the menu based on people's photos. It may seem like I'm overly reliant on Instagram, but it's actually saved me from ordering food that I probably wouldn't have wanted had I seen a photo of it." —Rachel Coleman, Condé Nast Traveler's social media director, @rachelecoleman

"Hashtags have become an incredibly over-saturated wasteland. You'll be searching a certain destination like China and there will be posts from all other corners of the world mixed in. Generally, geotags are more accurately tagged." —Brendan van Son, travel photographer, @brendanvanson

I’ve been saving places in a “places to go” private list on Instagram for a while now. I do like this next peice of advice for those who might try this out too.

Don't let the 'gram define your trip

As we've said before, Instagram is the highlight reel of travel and while it can provide so many good tips and ideas for your next trip, you shouldn't rely exclusively on the app for your planning.

"So many people these days focus way too hard on photogenic destinations. I used to go somewhere like Peru and people would obviously hit up Machu Picchu. But, they'd also head to places where the history, culture, and experience in general couldn't be captured in a photo, but that had a lot of personal value. Nowadays, they just head to Machu Picchu, the Colored Mountains, and leave. They definitely focus too much of their planning by using Instagram, rather than guides." —B.V.S.

How to Use Instagram As a Travel Guide


You’re Going to Want these National Parks Posters

The Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series is a project helmed by the National Poster Retrospecticus that features screen-printed posters depicting many of the US national parks. The artwork for each one is stunning, and together they truly put the diversity of these awesome places on full display. It doesn’t hurt that they got an eclectic mix of artists to apply their unique styles to the series.

For every poster sold, the project directly donates 5% of the proceeds to the National Park Service.

Um, yes please.

The Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series


The Best Thru-Hikes You’ve Never Heard Of

The Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails get all the attention—and the foot traffic—but there are plenty of long walks that aren’t crowded. These five offer the best glimpses into unspoiled wilderness, spanning each region of the country. From hot springs and vistas in the Rockies to less-frequented trails in southern Appalachia, there’s something for every thru-hiker’s skill level.

The Best Thru-Hikes You've Never Heard Of


How to Plan a Sober Vacation For Those In Addiction Recovery

When someone is seeking treatment for addiction recovery, there are a variety of options to consider. Travel might be just that solution to kick dependency habits that keep you from living the life you desire. 

When thinking of planning a vacation, the first thing that comes to mind is often the idea of letting loose from the hassles of everyday life, parties, fun and hanging out with locals. Socializing in much of the world involves alcohol in these instances. Navigating a sober life that’s still filled with excitement and adventure is absolutely possible, but you need to do some planning ahead. Here are some tips on planning a vacation for those in addiction recovery. 

Planning Strategically Before the Trip — What If I Get Tempted? 

A common worry for a sober traveler, particularly those who have recently left treatment, is the probability that he or she can avoid temptations. After all, we live in a world where drinking has become a pastime activity. However, this doesn’t mean you have to give up enjoyment just because you are abstaining from alcohol or drugs; it just means that careful planning must take place.

Most importantly, always remember that you are not alone. According to a study conducted by The Washington Post, at least 30% of Americans don’t drink and half of the world opts for an alcohol-freelife as well. Remind yourself of this, and don’t feel pressured to engage. Many places touted as party capitals are still filled with individuals who are abstinent, and you can all have a great time without the substances.

Truthfully, there is no foolproof way to avoid alcohol because it is all around us. You canscout out some places and activities ahead of time that will limit your exposure to temptation, however. Use Google Mapsand sites like TripAdvisorto scope out the area from afar, and plan your daily adventures in places that you won’t be surrounded by bars, clubs, and potentially seedy parts of town. Use the opportunity to try something new and exciting that will take your mind off of what you aren’tdoing, and keep yourself busy throughout the trip.


Planning the Trip — What Are My Options?

There are a variety of inexpensive resortsand group retreatscatered to the sober individual. This idea takes the stress away from having to avoid places on your own and will open the door for meeting new sober friends.

Shop around for a trip that you’ll really appreciate, but don’t be afraid to branch out of your usual comfort zone. If you’ve grown up on the coast your entire life, try a mountain vacation instead of the beach. If you’re country grown-and-bred, grab a sober ally and check out a major city like Seattle, Denver, or Los Angeles. The great part about city traveling is that there’s so much to do, drugs and alcohol can be forgotten as you’ll be surrounded by activity based alternatives and can easily pick a new location if you wind up somewhere that temptation is arises.


Planning for the Worst — What Should I Avoid?

If you travel with others, avoid people and situations that will tempt you. Seek out alternate routes that won’t cajole you into your old life and those that aren’t filled with bars, lounges, and other places where drugs and alcohol are consumed. Even if a city is known for this type of activity, there are always alternative options available.

A strong support system is also highly-recommended to keep you on track. Though studies show that friendships can help you live longer, it’s the quality of a friend that counts. You may even replace risky activities with healthier ones, such as joining a fitness center, volunteering or helping those with their own addictions. Try to avoid old friends who push your old life onto you. Instead, seek out new ones who will lead you in the right direction.

Leading a sober life offers a world of possibilities. If you are a recovering addict with a longing to travel, don’t put off life. Take the necessary steps in order to ensure that you continue on the sober path in your newfound adventures.


101 Ways to Fight Climate Change

Curbed searched communities across the country and around the world, consulted experts and advocates, and pulled from our voluminous coverage on sustainable cities to create a go-to guide for climate action. Our goal is to provide practical, implementable advice on an individual level, as well as to illustrate the power of collective commitments. We hope you will share more of your own ideas, inspirations, and suggestions in the comments.

Big list. Some obvious things we all do (or should) and some I hadn’t thought of. The below has to be my favorite.

  1. Visit our national parks. Many of our treasured national parks are on the frontlines of climate change; for example, Glacier National Park may be glacier-free within a few decades. Here are some environmentally sound places to stay while you visit.

I love our National Parks. Happy Earth Day.

101 ways to fight climate change

 NASA’s “Global Selfie” Earth mosaic contains more than 36,000 individual photographs from the more than 50,000 images posted around the world on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.

NASA’s “Global Selfie” Earth mosaic contains more than 36,000 individual photographs from the more than 50,000 images posted around the world on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.

The 10 Most Drivable National Parks

With more than four million miles of pavement on U.S. roads, travelers are faced with an abundance of scenic routes from sea to shining sea. And with 58 parks in the national park system, many of those roads zip straight through some of America’s finest landscapes. But which roads are the finest? We spent a summer driving across the country to find out.

These are the most drivable national parks in the U.S.

I’ve been to a lot of these parks and want to go again. This is a good list for those who may not be able to throw a pack together and camp in the woods like we could in our single days. Perfect list for a family road trip.

The 10 Most Drivable National Parks in the U.S.


10 Habits of Mentally Strong People

To increase your mental strength, you simply need to change your outlook. When hard times hit, people with mental strength suffer just as much as everyone else. The difference is that they understand that life’s challenging moments offer valuable lessons. In the end, it’s these tough lessons that build the strength you need to succeed.

Developing mental strength is all about habitually doing the things that no one else is willing to do. If you aren’t doing the following things on a regular basis, you should be, for these are the habits that mentally strong people rely on.

Very interesting list. I feel like some of these come more naturally to certain people than others, but they can definitely be learned or improved upon, if you are self aware enough.

10 habits of mentally strong people

Nat Geo's Best Spring Trips 2018


Japan’s cherry blossom season begins at the country’s southern tip in mid-January, then blooms northward to a rosy May finale in Hokkaido. There are hundreds of ways to hanami (the Japanese word for celebrating cherry blossom season): strolling Tokyo’s Nakameguro canal after house-made ramen at Kaduya; dipping into sakura (cherry blossom) hot springs in Kawazu; or boating down the kite-strung Kitakami River to Tenshochi Park where 10,000 cherry trees arc into irresistible pale pink allées. At the Takayama Spring Festival in the Hida mountains, cherry blossoms have been celebrated for over 300 years with an exquisite lantern-lit parade of antique golden floats. Go with Nat Geo: How will you hanami in Japan?

I want to go to all of them....check out the link for the pictures alone.

Nat Geo's Best Spring Trips 2018

 photo courtesy of Nat Geo

photo courtesy of Nat Geo

Climbing the Highest Peaks of 100 Countries

The highest point of the Vatican is only 75 metres, but reaching it requires a little nous. “You have to go on a tour of the gardens to actually stand on the highest point,” explains Lee Humphries, who has made it his quest to reach the highest point of 100 countries by 2020.

Similarly, the extreme of elevation in Belarus is only 345 metres above sea level, and just off a main road, but then one needs to gain entry into the last dictatorship in Europe first.


Climbing the Highest Peaks of 100 Countries


Use Fitness to Help with Addiction Recovery

Use Fitness to Help with Addiction Recovery

Welcome to Epic Beta's guest writer Constance Ray! We're very happy to find readers who are interested in contributing and willing to write about what they are passionate about. Thank you Constance for your contribution and here's hoping that your passion reaches those who read here!



Addiction recovery isn’t something you go through for a little while, it’s a lifetime commitment. Learn how to use physical fitness to make recovery part of your long-term plan and make sure it’s successful. Sobriety and exercise go hand-in-hand....
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Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award

"We had over 50 applicants, and we're excited to see and hear the stories that come out of these trips," said Andy Anderson, a close friend of Dempster and a member of the grant committee.

The descriptions of the recipients and their planned adventures below have been slightly abridged from a press release sent out by the award committee:

Anthony Marra of Salt Lake City, Utah, is receiving $2,000 for a four-month trip across the north and south islands of New Zealand. He will bike, climb and ski nine major summits along the way. He will tow a bike trailer with all the necessary equipment as well as a surfboard, which he'll use when he heads to the coast for some celebratory beach time after each peak. To prepare for this trip, in the summer of 2017, Anthony spent three months biking from the Canadian border to Mexico, climbing and skiing 26 peaks in the Cascades and Sierra.

These folks would obviously be doing these trips regardless of being awarded a small grant...but man are these proposed trips cool!

Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award recipients announced - Alpinist.com


You Want a Physical Challenge in a Far Off Place?

This list is comprised of some truly significant physical undertakings. While Outside offered plenty of amazing escapes, there were a few laid-back excursions there too, including a few that allowed travelers to chill pool or beachside and recharge their batteries. Not so much here, as The Guardian has compiled a bunch of travel options that will require adventurers to be in good shape and ready to test their physical limits.

Then you need to check this list out.

20 Big Travel Adventures for 2018


World’s Best Single Images for 2018

In the lead-up to its April awards ceremony in London, the Sony World Photography Awards has announced the 10 winners of the Open Competition categories, as well as National Award winners. Selected by an expert panel, the winners of the Open Competition represent the best single images in categories like Portraiture, Street Photography, Architecture, Wildlife, and Travel.

These are amazing.

World’s Best Single Images Revealed by the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards