Why You Need to Visit Seattle

Tucked away in the Northwest corner of the United States (which some jokingly refer to as “South Alaska”), Seattle is often described by outsiders as an embodiment of grunge music, dreary weather, and hipsters. That all may be completely accurate, however, there is much more to it than that. Now, as an Emerald City native, I may be biased, but with everything Seattle has to offer, it should never be defined by so little.

The Views

What ‘visit Seattle’ list would be complete without mentioning the Space Needle? On a clear day (which is surprisingly common despite the city’s reputation), the top floor of one of Seattle’s best known landmarks provides seemingly endless views in every direction. Both Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier can be seen cutting through the skies, as well as Elliott Bay harboring ships from all around the world.

If the Space Needle is a little too high for you, the Seattle Great Wheel, the largest ferris wheel on the West Coast, is a great alternative despite that fact. At a maximum height of 175 feet, a revolution around this attraction could still provide incredible scenery at roughly 1/4th the height.

Downtown

The historic Pike Place Market sits right along the coast of Elliott Bay hosting seafood, vegetable, and cheese stands, and so much more. One of the market’s most popular events that draws tourists from all over is simply the vendors’ ‘flying fish’ strategy. Throwing salmon, halibut, and cod over counters and stands to each other, employees here know a thing or two about a fish’s aerial abilities.

The waterfront downtown is another sight worth seeing, hosting a variety of shops, restaurants, and piers. The Seattle Aquarium sits here as well for those interested in learning about the city’s aquatic life and the Pacific Ocean’s.

Food and Drinks

Like any great city, Seattle has an enormous array of restaurants and cafes ranging from Vietnamese food to vegan donuts, and everything in between. Seattle is filled with neighborhood cafe’s that focus on organic, locally produced food such as Oddfellows Cafe. But, it is important to note how synonymous Seattle and coffee are. Street Bean Espresso, a nonprofit coffee shop providing opportunities for homeless and at-risk youths, is both a hub for amazing coffee and a testament to the city’s philanthropic efforts.

If you’re seeking more of a unique dining experience, The Pink Door offers 5-star Italian food with a twist. Trapeze artists and burlesque shows are also held within these doors, giving a truly particular ambience that can’t be found anywhere else in the city, and with some of the best wines to offer, it may be difficult leaving.

Art

Both indoor and outdoor art museums can be found all around Seattle, with perhaps the most popular being the Seattle Art Museum, which has an eclectic collection of pieces. Ancient Asian artwork, Native American carvings, and European paintings can all be found in the huge number of exhibits this museum offers, and those are just to name a few.

Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor exhibit, is giant sculpture garden spanning 9 acres just north of the downtown area, and it’s free. A stroll through here would surely clear one’s mind with its 1.2-mile walk connecting it to Myrtle Edwards Park.

Outdoor Essentials: What to Pack When Backpacking

Whether you are ready to brave the great outdoors, or preparing for months of traveling abroad, I can tell you there’s nothing in the world that compares to a true backpacking experience. However, It can be pretty overwhelming when thinking of the things you want to take with you on your next backpacking adventure, but you should always bear in mind that what you need to take can spell the difference between a nice trip and a search and rescue party. In order to set yourself up for the safest, most enjoyable backpacking trip of your life, be sure to only pack the essentials.

I’ve found that taking the minimal amount of belongings is the ideal way to travel. Not only in terms of necessity, but the amount of weight you have to carry. I’m compiled a list of the basics you may need.

Finding Your Way

Accurate navigation is one of the most crucial components of backpacking, as getting lost in the wilderness is most likely the last thing on your outdoor itinerary. To prevent this, make sure you bring the following:

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Watch

Even if you plan to bring your smartphone, you should assume that in most places, especially in the more remote regions of the world, you may not get any cell phone service. You never know if you won’t receive reception, or if your phone dies. So be prepared for the worst.

Protecting Yourself

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Regardless of where you’re going, whether it be deep into dense forests, high up into a mountain range, or across a scorching desert, you are bound to face any number of outdoor dangers when backpacking. To avoid succumbing to extreme heat, you should pack:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Protective hat
  • Chapstick

One thing people often forget is appropriately preparing for hazardous weather conditions. Even if you’re going to a warm climate, you must keep in mind how the weather can shift, particularly at night. I always try to bring the following items:

  • Jacket
  • Protective vest
  • Waterproof shoes/boots
  • Waterproof pants
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves

Campsite Essentials

Once you’ve reached a point in your journey where you’re able to settle down and set up camp, there are a number of things you should have ready for optimal safety and comfort. Be sure to bring multiple sources of light including a flashlight or headlamp, and materials to build a fire. You’ll want to have:

  • Matches or lighter
  • First-aid kit
  • Food (amount depending on the duration of your trip)
  • Water (a canteen and several bottles)
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Swiss army knife

Before heading out for your backpacking adventure, be sure to have a checklist of the most essential items you’ll need beforehand, most of which have been listed above.

3 of the Most Unique yet Successful Marketing Tactics

Cards Against Humanity

By now, most people have experienced the vulgarity and outrageously humorous card game Cards Against Humanity. The premise is to match one of your white cards with the given black card to create the funniest possible phrase or sentence. The ensuing results are a mix of hilarity and awkwardness. This game alone is enough to attract quite a wide audience, but the marketing team at Cards Against Humanity didn’t want to stop there. One of their more unique tactics employed involved actually increasing their prices on Black Friday. CAH went against the traditional decrease in price like every other business, and managed to earn just as much, if not more sales than the Black Friday prior to that year’s. The company has sort of prided itself on going against the norm in terms of advertising, and it seems to pay off nearly every time.

Volkswagen

Car companies in the early 20th century advertised their automobiles with a typical standard that can be seen all over the world: better performing than the rest. However, Volkswagen took a different approach in 1960. The “Think Small” campaign was arguably one of the most successful and controversial car advertisements during that time, and is still seen as a standard in the history of marketing. During this time, many Americans avoided the small, German-made cars following the United States’ issues with the country, so Volkswagen played off of just that. This was a perfect example of selling your product for exactly what it is, and not pretending to be anything else.

Snickers

One of the most satisfying candy bars out there, Snickers targeted their slogan after exactly that. “Snickers Satisfies” was the company’s slogan up until 2010, when they launched one of the most successful rebranding campaigns in candy bar history. As the first commercial aired during the first break of Super Bowl XLV, Snickers took advantage of this spotlight to launch their new slogan “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” The commercial featured senior stars Betty White and Abe Vigoda as two representations of fatigued football players, taking hard tackles throughout the game. Upon eating Snickers bars, they effectively become “themselves” again. The humor incorporated greatly benefitted the company, as global sales following the ad campaign increased by 15.9%.

How to Spark Your Creative Genius

Losing your sense of creativity or simply failing to find the inspiration needed to to create the best work possible is something all writers face. It can be frustrating and debilitating, which can lead to a forced piece of written material lacking in passion. If you as a writer are struggling to get in touch with your inner creative genius, just know that everyone goes through the same thing, even the best of us. Consider any of the following strategies to wake that sense of imagination and originality.

Understand and Practice Monotony

This seems entirely counterintuitive, but taking part in an activity, or not, that is mundane and downright boring can lead to a wandering mind. A study published on Sage Journals stated that this mindlessness and attempt to subconsciously entertain one’s self can actually promote creative thinking. Some monotonous tasks you could take part in include cleaning your house or work area, counting the number of items on your desk, or simply staring at a wall! Don’t get too excited.

Void Yourself of Distractions

All writers seek to eliminate distraction to some extent, so this is nothing new, but it can do wonders for your creativity. Depending on the area in which you prefer to write, make sure any televisions are off, your phone is on silent, and you are left with nothing but your thoughts. This free-thinking mindset will spark thoughts that you may not have been able to access with distractions or background noise.

Fill the Room With Distractions

I know what I said. While eliminating all possible distractions is a good way of promoting creativity, conversely, distracting yourself with a variety of activities can have the same effect. When you are deeply focused on a single task, your brain effectively ignores all other stimuli around you, which can limit your mindset to that one specific project. Actually delving into the distractions around you can spark ideas for a number of different solutions to one problem. Read a magazine, listen to music, or watch a brief amount of television to get the creative juices flowing.

For the entire blog and more, check out my site LeonardRaymundo.com!

How Twitter Can Improve Your Writing Skills

The title of this blog alone may seem like a contradiction given the amount of Twitter users that seem to have a tenuous grasp on the English language, but hear me out. As one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, Twitter allows anyone and everyone to voice their opinions for the world to hear, which isn’t always a good thing. However, utilizing everything this site has to offer can actually improve your writing skills.

First, and perhaps most obviously, tweeting allows you to practice brevity. Because of that fact that you are only given 140 characters to tell everyone how you feel about President Trump or what your thoughts were on last night’s game, you are forced to cram all of these ruminations into one concise tweet. This is where your editing skills come into play. Trim the unnecessary details, and include only what you want your audience to read and understand; a skill applied to creative writing every day.

Second, many people seem to forget the networking possibilities that come with communicating on a platform used by hundreds of millions of people every day. By intelligently using hashtags to hone in on who you want seeing your tweets, you can reach users in countries on the other side of the planet, and share a few thoughts if you feel so inclined. Get your followers, as well as people within your industry, to engage with you. Ask questions in your tweets for feedback or starting discussions, and respond as often as you can to show your audience that you care about their opinions, and actually want to hear back from them.

Going off the notion of practicing brevity, the more you tweet, the better you’ll get at it. That is to say you will quickly learn what works best in the Twitter universe in terms of engagement. For example, strong, intelligently-worded one-liners can immediately grab an avid Twitter user’s attention. Most people on this platform don’t want to read paragraphs of information. Cater to the masses. Whether you incorporate humor, sorrow, or shock, someone is bound to react to what you put out there so long as it is brief and impactful.

Another pretty obvious advantage that comes with using Twitter is marketing your already-written content. Grab a quote or two out of your latest blog or novel, and link back to your website. Before you do this however, make sure you audience actually wants to read it. Incorporate some emotion. Sounding robotic on social media is a great way to lose followers. Tell people why you’ve written this piece and why you think they’d like it.

Experimentation is yet another beautiful part of Twitter for writers. If you tend to stick to one genre when writing, try tweeting a few things ranging in genres to see how your audience responds. Because of the conciseness of tweets, very few people are going to judge what you put out there. Get creative. Try something comedic if you commonly write dramatic content, or write a two-sentence horror story if you tend to do the opposite. Your opportunities are endless.

The Best Places to Boat This Summer

Few activities can give you a true sense of summer as much as boating. Regardless of whether or not you are an owner of any kind of boat, there are countless travel destinations in the world that allow you to experience life at sea, and embrace the sun during the summer months. Today, over 50% of the global population lives less than 2 miles away from a body of fresh water, not including those living along coastlines with access to the world’s oceans. With that said, no matter whether or not you are a part of that demographic, here are some of the best places in the United States to go boating.

Marina del Rey, California

In terms of boating destinations you must experience, Marina del Rey is the Mona Lisa of harbors in the United States. It is the largest manmade small craft harbor in the country, and is only a short drive from Los Angeles. The general crowd that flocks to this marina is typically that of great wealth, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. Despite the million-dollar yachts situated along this California coast, anyone can rent a boat for the day, or even hire your own captain to guide you and your friends or family through the Pacific waters.

Seattle, Washington

Yet another shoutout to my hometown, the ports of Seattle are surprisingly fantastic destinations for naval enthusiasts. Lined with hundreds of miles of saltwater, the Emerald City is a common city for locals to travel by boat to their waterfront homes, restaurants, or harbors. Seattle is also home to the Seattle Boat Show, a number of yacht clubs, and centers offering classes for first-time boaters.

Tokyo’s Best Restaurants

I’ve been to Japan about 3 times now, and I feel confident enough to say that Japan has some of the best foods in the world (in my humble opinion). Tokyo, Japan has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world. If that fact alone isn’t enough to convince you to visit for a culinary revelation, it should also be known that they are among some of the most diverse restaurants as well. If a trip to Tokyo, or anywhere in Japan for that matter, is in your future, make sure you write down the following restaurants to experience all that Tokyo has to offer.

Narisawa

Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa earned his culinary stripes in the countries of Italy, Switzerland, France, and of course, Japan. His unique skills are displayed in the experimental dishes served at his restaurant, with their biggest emphasis being environmental conservation. Through this, Chef Narisawa has created dishes like moss butter, soil soup, and water salad. This vastly unique dining experience is something that should be considered by anyone with an open mind, especially for those passionate about the environment.

Joël Robuchon

Aptly named after the world-renowned French chef, the cuisine is what you’d expect; exquisite modern French. Joël Robuchon offers a number of set menus featuring visually stunning dishes, as well as a la carte options to match. If you still crave some form of Japanese cuisine at the end of your meal, the restaurant also offers Kyoho graph mochi and almond ice cream for dessert.

Ginza Kojyu

One of Tokyo’s finest dining experiences with a quaint atmosphere, eating at Ginza Kojyu almost resembles a dinner party at a friend’s house. Offering kaiseki dining, servers prepare each dish right before your eyes, and even give detailed explanations before serving. The restaurant primarily focuses on traditional Japanese cuisine, and doesn’t require you to pay too hefty of a bill at the end of the meal.

For the entire blog and more, visit LeonardRaymundo.org!