Open letter to Turkish Airlines

This is an open letter to Turkish Airlines, a Star Alliance member, regarding how my baggage has gone from lost to stolen in 12 days. It is time they take responsibility.

I need all the support for all of YOU reading this message. Please share, comment, like, and tag Turkish Airlines.

I traveled with Turkish Airlines from Stockholm (Arlanda), Sweden to Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport), India via Istanbul (Ataturk Airport), Turkey on the 29th of October with flight TK 1794.

I checked in my bag at the Stockholm airport and was told to expect my luggage directly in Mumbai airport.

When I arrived on the 30th of October at 05.30, my baggage was lost. I was first told by the Mumbai Airport ground staff after she looked in some list that my bag was not loaded from Istanbul and will be loaded and my bag will be sent with the next flight out the next day. I also filed a PIR report at the airport and left with an empty hand luggage.

At the same time the information provided for compensation was not clear. When my baggage did not arrive as promised, I called the Turkish airlines baggage department and was told that the information provided to me was incorrect. The reality was that they could not trace my bag.

I have since called every day for updates, and on the 2nd I was sent the wrong bag. I refused it, and the search continued. Both my husband and I kept calling every day, but no new updates were given. The File Reference Number I have for this is (omitted). I have till date not been able to get in contact with any Turkish Airline staff at the Mumbai Airport, which I find deplorable. The only contact I had was the Airport ground staff.

During this time I had to purchase things to replace the items that were lost, as I didn’t have anything. I have the bills for the things that I had to buy, and I expect to be compensated in full for these purchases.

I have been told by ground personnel at Mumbai airport (not belonging to Turkish Airlines) that I would only receive 300 USD as compensation for the duration baggage was lost, but this is far from sufficient to cover the costs I’ve incurred even though I’ve limited myself to essentials. When I have been in contact with the Lost Baggage telephone support, they have said that the amount is not fixed, and instead the list of lost items will be evaluated and that compensation for an appropriate amount will be made without any upper limit, as they are responsible for the baggage when it is in their custody. I need clarity in this.

On the 8th of November I was told that there would be a bag matching my description sent from Istanbul to Mumbai on the flight TK720 that had been sent to ‘unclaimed’. I was also asked about a number of items in my bag, which I took as confirmation that the bag was mine. At first I was told that they had screened the items and therefore they knew what contents were in the bag. On further questioning it was revealed that the bag had been BROKEN INTO since it was UNCLAIMED.

I called the Airport staff and told them that I would come to the airport and collect my bag so I could make sure nothing was missing. When I arrived in the morning of the 9th of November at the airport, together with my mother and representatives from Turkish Airlines, the bag was in tatters.

The lock was broken, the wheels of the bag are not working correctly, and ALL my valuables, even the ones that had been mentioned to me on the 8th, have been stolen. Even my dresses, jeans and tops had been stolen, in addition to my jewellery (imitation), presents and other items. Please see further down in this letter for a complete list together with estimated values for replacing the items. Everything has been stolen and this is UNACCEPTABLE. The contents of the bag has been ransacked through and even the under garments were not spared.

This whole ordeal has been a HUGE pressure for me, and I feel my vacation has been destroyed. I have had to cancel various smaller trips that I had been planning to go on, due to missing presents and things I had specifically brought for those trips. This has caused additional financial and emotional loss, which I expect to be compensated for. I am very upset and disappointed with this entire situation, and it has left me emotionally drained. I am now having panic attacks and can not deal with this trauma.

This whole situation is disgusting and not something i would expect from an international airlines company.

List of items lost: All amounts are in Swedish Krona
(List omitted as this is an open letter)

I also would like to add that my bag is completely destroyed and you have to replace that as well.

This ordeal has shaken up my whole family and left me extremely miserable. I had to not only shop for my necessities during the 12 days I have been without any luggage, but now I have to buy a new bag as I have a family trip planned next week. In addition to this, I will have to purchase the items that have been stolen from me.

I solely hold Turkish Airlines responsible for this ordeal. I feel extremely unsafe now and am extremely worried for my Husbands travel plan to India and later our flight together back to Sweden.

I am looking forward to a quick resolution to my worries with concrete answers.

Regards,
Mehek Wigren

Swedish Classic – The Beginnings

ESK_banner1I have decided together with a good friend of mine to complete one of the toughest series of endurance races available in Sweden, called A Swedish Classic (webpage in Swedish). It consists of four separate races that you have to complete within a 12 month span, in order for you to be able to say that you have completed a Swedish Classic. So far the Swedish Classic diploma has been awarded to 23’486 men and 4’959 women since it started in 1972.

Update: As we were too late to book ours slots for Vasaloppet 2014, we will start the Swedish Classic with the Vätternrundan race and complete Vasaloppet in 2015 instead. A positive thing about this is that we will get more time to prepare for the various different races, but it is too bad that we won’t be able to complete the whole thing during 2014.

Update 2: We were lucky enough to get tickets for an earlier race called Engelbrektsloppet, which also is a part of the Swedish Classic race, which means that we will be able to complete the Swedish Classic in 2014! This is so exciting! On another note, I have needed to buy new gear for almost all of these races, such as new skis and a racing bike for the 300 km long Vätternrundan!

The Swedish Classic races are:

Vasaloppet

logotype.vasaloppetThe race that we will be starting with is the ‘Vasaloppet’ cross country ski race, which is 90 km long. It is the oldest, the longest, and the biggest (in terms of participants, normally with over 15’000 people in the main race and an additional 60’000 in related races the same week) cross-country ski race in the world and has been a Swedish traditional race since 1922. The race is held in memory of the Swedish king Gustav Vasa, who fled towards Norway in 1521 on skis. Read more about Gustav Vasa here. The race annually has millions of people in Sweden as well as around the world hooked to the TV or radio and is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Sweden. Read more about Vasaloppet on Wikipedia. Vasaloppet is held annually on the first Sunday of Mars.

Vätternrundan

VätternrundanVätternrundan is the world’s longest recreational bicycle race, 300 km or 186.4 miles long, circling the second largest lake in Sweden. The race isn’t officially a competition, but instead everybody receives an RF transponder so that they can find out their own race time. In 2011, 27’973 cyclists passed the finish line in the 30 hours that the race is going on for. During the race you can stop at any of the nine stop locations to receive water, food and a free massage and once you have completed the race you are awarded a medal, a diploma and a warm meal.  Read more about Vätternrundan on Wikipedia. Vätternrundan is held during the weekend before midsummer, ever since 1966.

Vansbrosimningen

VansbrosimningenThe Vansbrosimningen is a 3 km long race has been going on since 1950, with participants swimming with the current for around 2000 meters and then up against the current in an adjoining river. For the race in 2014, there are already 3643 people who have signed up as of the time that I’m writing this article. Read more about Vansbrosimningen on the official website (in Swedish).

Lidingöloppet

LidingoloppetIn 2014 Lidingöloppet celebrates it’s 50th anniversary, which makes it an even more special event. The race is a 30 km long cross country running event. During 2013 there were 43’500 participants in the race, making it the largest cross country running event in the world. Read more about Lidingöloppet on Wikipedia. Lidingöloppet is held annually on the last Saturday in September.

Preparation

As these races are all endurance races, we have both been training conditioning a lot, in addition to strength training during the summer. The summer’s training culminated in a short 5 km race on the 14th of September, where I due to stomach issues only was able to complete the race with a time of 29:56. Still, for my first ever race, it felt good to have finished in under 30 minutes.

I’m really excited to having committed to this project, so now I can’t wait for the snow to come so that I can start training skiing in anticipation of Vasaloppet. Of course I will keep you all update on the progress and the results of the races. Wish me luck!

Korean Hangul in 20 minutes

If you have never tried to learn another script, anything that you see in a different script looks mysterious, strange and difficult to understand. There are many different kinds of scripts in the world, but few as simple as the Korean Hangul.

Creating Hangul

If you’ve seen the writing systems that look like strange scribbles from the far eastern countries, you probably also come across the Korean writing system known as Hangul. Hangul is actually a proper alphabet that was created rather than developed over time. The story goes that a Korean king named Sejong the Great wanted to promote literacy in Korea, especially among his own soldiers, and thought that the Chinese writing system (called hanzi in Chinese, hanja in Korean) was too complicated and didn’t properly correlate to the way Korean was spoken. He set up a competition for linguists to create a writing system specially designed for Korean, which was to be as simple as possible so that anyone could learn it. There were many scripts that were developed in this competition, and the Hangul we see now was elected the winner of the competition.

Well, if the idea was to make a simple writing system, why does it look so complicated, you may ask. Well it really isn’t complicated at all. You just haven’t tried to learn it yet, and as you know, anything you haven’t tried to learn could either be extremely complicated or very easy to learn. In this case, you just don’t know how easy it is just yet.

Hangul is Easy

I believe that anyone can learn to read and write Hangul in less than an hour, no matter what excuses you may come up with, that you just don’t have a mind for languages, that you are too old, or anything else. I also firmly believe that most people can learn it in 20 minutes or less. How cool wouldn’t it be if you could learn a completely new writing system in as much time as it takes to watch an episode of The Simpsons? Continue reading Korean Hangul in 20 minutes

How to Tie a Tie – Exotic Style

In my previous post about classic tie knots I showed you how to tie the four classical tie knots. In this post we will go well beyond the basics and focus on a few really cool looking tie knots that can best be described as exotic and definitely will draw attention.

Exotic tie knots that draw attention!

Never heard of a tie knot drawing attention before? Well, now you’re going to learn several that do. I have found these knots in various places on the internet and just like with the classic knots, I haven’t invented them myself, but they are nevertheless very cool.

The Eldredge Knot

We start off with my new favourite knot; The Eldredge knot. It looks pretty amazing, don’t you think?

eldredge-knot Continue reading How to Tie a Tie – Exotic Style

How to Tie a Tie – The Classics

There are basically four tie knots that can be classified as the classics, namely the Four in Hand, Half Windsor, Full Windsor and the Shell Knot. I will describe how to tie them individually in this post as well, but feel free to copy the following diagram to your computer, print it and put it up on your wall or memorize it if you like.

Classics

1. Four in Hand

The easiest one of the classics is the Four in Hand knot, doesn’t take much time at all to learn. It looks alright and is a handy one to know. The negative thing about the Four in Hand knot is that it is asymmetrical, which gives you a slanting line at the top.

four-in-hand

Here is how you tie the Four in Hand:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end over the narrow end.
  2. Fold the wide end underneath the narrow end.
  3. Pass the wide end horizontally over the narrow end again.
  4. Take the wide end up and through the loop around your neck.
  5. Take the wide end through the knot in front. Proceed to tighten the knot and pull it up to your collar.

2. Half Windsor

The second one of the classics that everybody should know is the Half Windsor. It looks fantastic, it’s symmetrical and it suits almost all occasions. This is your go-to knot most of the time. The Half Windsor works very well for ties made of thick fabric.

half-windsor

Here is how you tie the Half Windsor:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end over the narrow end.
  2. Fold the wide end underneath the narrow end.
  3. Pull the wide end up.
  4. Take the wide end back down through the loop.
  5. Move the wide end horizontally over the narrow end.
  6. Take the wide end up through the loop.
  7. Pull the wide end through the knot in front. Proceed to tighten the knot and pull it up to your collar.

3. Full Windsor

The third classic knot is the Full Windsor. It looks great, it’s symmetrical and it suits almost all occasions and looks more business style than the Half Windsor knot. This is the one to use when you go to the office or if you have a thin fabric tie.

full-windsor

Here is how you tie the Full Windsor:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end over the narrow end.
  2. Take the wide end back through the loop around your neck.
  3. Take the wide end over the narrow end in the same direction you crossed it at step 1.
  4. Fold the wide end underneath the narrow end.
  5. Take the wide end up…
  6. And back through the loop in the same direction as step 4.
  7. Fold the wide end horizontally over the narrow end.
  8. Bring the wide end up through the loop once more, like you did in step 2.
  9. Pull the wide end through the knot.

4. Shell Knot

The last of the classics is the Shell Knot, also known as the Shellby Knot and Pratt Knot. It’s easy to make, it’s symmetrical and doesn’t feel as imposing as the Windsor knots. This knot can be used almost at any time. In size it’s roughly between the Four in Hand and Half Windsor knots.

shell-knot

Here is how you tie the Shell Knot:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end under the narrow end, while the tie hangs inside out around your neck.
  2. Pull the wide end up over the narrow end.
  3. Take the wide end down through the loop and tighten the knot.
  4. Move the wide end horizontally over the narrow end.
  5. Pull the wide end back up through the  loop.
  6. Pull the wide end through the knot in front. Proceed to tighten the knot and pull it up to your collar.

These are the classic tie knots that everybody should know. There are several ways of tying the Half and Full Windsor knots, so if you’re interested, feel free to roam the web in search of more.

I hope you have learned a lot! However, there are still a lot of other styles of tie knots, if you are interested. In the next post I will teach you how to make even fancier and more exotic knots! Check it out here!

The Art of Drinking Water

Drinking is something that everybody does, what most of us don’t do is drink enough, or drink the right things.

As you might already know, our bodies consist of about 55-70% water. To further break it down, your brain consists of almost 78% water, your lungs are about 90% water, blood around 83%, and lean muscle contains about 75% water by weight. Body fat contains around 10% water and bone 22%. As you can see, this adds up to quite a lot of water. If you weigh 80 kg, that would equate to between 44 and 56 liters of water. One of the biggest factors of how big a percentage of water you are made up of is your body fat percentage. Body fat contains much less water than lean muscle does.

So, what does all of this mean?

Why is all of this important? Well, part of knowing gives you context to knowing why drinking is so important. Maybe you’ve heard from parents, partner or friends that it’s important to drink a lot of water. This is why. You consist of so much of water that if you don’t properly rehydrate, your body simply can’t function as effectively as it otherwise would.

 Water also lubricates your joints and cartilages and allows them to move more fluidly. When dehydrated, the body rations water away from the joints. Less lubrication equals greater friction and that can cause joint, knee and back pain potentially leading to injuries and arthritis. Even your eyeballs need plenty of lubrication to work well and remain healthy.

The scary thing is that as little as a 2% drop in hydration could lead to showing signs of dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Fuzzy short-term memory
  • Decreased urine output
  • Few or no tears while crying
  • Trouble focusing on small print (such as a computer screen)
  • Trouble with basic math
  • Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Constipation

Chronic Dehydration

If you keep going dehydrated even after seeing signs of dehydration, you could even become chronically dehydrated. Over time when the body is not properly hydrated chronic dehydration occurs which can lead to high/low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, repertory problems, and many other severe problems. But even still, many will walk around dehydrated, most of the time unknowingly, because thirst is a poor indicator of dehydration. By the time you get thirsty, it is too late!

In addition to avoiding a lot of negative things by drinking, you introduce a lot of benefits by drinking.

Benefits of drinking a lot of water

  • It helps your body get rid of waste, it helps your body transport nutrients to your cells.
  • Water helps to maintain healthy body weight by increasing metabolism and regulating appetite.
  • Water leads to increased energy levels.
  • Drinking adequate amounts can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50%, and breast cancer.
  • Drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain.
  • Water leads to overall greater health by flushing out wastes and bacteria that can cause disease.
  • Water can prevent and alleviate headaches.
  • Water naturally moisturizes skin and ensures proper cellular formation underneath layers of skin to give it a healthy, glowing appearance.
  • Water aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation.
  • Water is the primary mode of transportation for all nutrients in the body and is essential for proper circulation.
  • Water helps regulate your body temperature as water has a high heat capacity.

So how much should I drink?

Every day you have replace around 2.4 liters of water that you lose through breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. Around 20% of this volume will be provided through food, but the rest is needed to be ingested through fluids.

That doesn’t mean that you can go around drinking just anything and count it to the total amount of daily intake. Drinks such as alcohol, sodas and drinks with caffeine (such as coffee) may feel nice going down, but they are not meant to hydrate you, in fact they promote urination and makes you lose water, which means that for every cup of coffee you drink, you have to drink at least one glass of water to make up for it.

Also the amount of water you need depends on your physical activity, the climate you live in and a lot of other factors, but drinking at least 2 liters of water every day is a good goal to aim for, after all.

Is it possible to drink too much?

In one word; yes. But it is very difficult to drink too much, as it is not how much you drink that matters as much as how fast you drink. Of course I’m not saying that you should start drinking more slowly, it’s when you drink enormous amounts at one time that it becomes dangerous. Your body can process as much as 15 liters of water per day, so there is no extreme danger that you’d drink too much unless you start chugging instead of spreading fluid intake out over the day.

Then what is dangerous drinking?

When you drink a lot in a short timespan, that is dangerous because essentially you dilute your cells and can lead to a condition called Water Intoxication and to a related problem resulting from the dilution of sodium in the body, hyponatremia. Water acts like a solvent and breaks down minerals to transport to your cells, and when the water to mineral concentration becomes too small, your cells start behaving the same way they would if you were drowning in fresh water. Water intoxication and hyponatremia result when a dehydrated person drinks too much water without the accompanying electrolytes.

Electrolyte imbalance and tissue swelling can cause an irregular heartbeat, allow fluid to enter the lungs, and may cause fluttering eyelids. Swelling puts pressure on the brain and nerves, which can cause behaviors resembling alcohol intoxication. Swelling of brain tissues can cause seizures, coma and ultimately death unless water intake is restricted and a hypertonic saline (salt) solution is administered. If treatment is given before tissue swelling causes too much cellular damage, then a complete recovery can be expected within a few days.

What to drink and not to drink (more about this in a later blog post)

During long bouts of intense exercise, it’s best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia (loss of Sodium), which can be life-threatening. Also it’s very important to continue to replace fluids after you are finished exercising.

There are three important rules when it comes to drinking water:

  1. Drink twice as much as it takes to quench your thirst.
  2. Drink frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  3. Drink at least eight glasses daily (around 2-3 liters).

 

How Language Exchange is like Tug of War

Tug of War

How language exchange is like tug of war

When you learn a language you will eventually come to the stage where you want to practice what you have learned and start using it in real situations. When you come to this stage, you might start looking for a native speaker of your target language, who is in turn learning your native language. When you do find someone who is willing to practice with you, it can lead to a mutually beneficial language exchange and even good friendship. More about this in a little bit.

When should I start with language exchanges?

Some people will tell you that you should start speaking right away, using what you know and push yourself to gain better understanding through putting yourself out there, while others will tell you that you should first internalize the language, the rhythm, the sounds and gain a lot of vocabulary  before you speak. Some even go so far as to say that you shouldn’t speak at all  until you have a better understanding of the language you’re learning. Whatever way you choose to go, there will at some point come a time where you need to start speaking, if you want to be able to use the language.

You probably will benefit the most from language exchanges once you reach an intermediate level in your languages (due to being able to express yourself better and being able to understand explanations and replies given in the language), but in my experience, it is good to get speaking practice even from when you are in the early stages of your learning, just to get used to producing the sounds of the language. If you keep putting it off for later, when you know the language better, you might get caught in the trap of understanding a language, but not being able to speak it at all. It’s good to progress your level evenly over the different areas of learning a language, so make sure that you don’t only build up a passive vocabulary. This is where you need practice speaking the language.

Finding a language exchange partner

Finding someone to practice with can be quite difficult, if you are learning a rare or exotic language, but the most difficult thing is to find someone who you enjoy talking with and who can help you with your language learning. There are many websites for getting in contact with people who want to practice languages such as sharedtalkbusuu, and livemocha. There are a lot of them, so you only have to search on Google for language exchange and you will find more sites than you’ll ever be able to go through.

Once you have found a language exchange partner, the initial session is in my opinion the far most important one. That’s where you decide what languages are going to be practiced, and you get to know each other.

Tug of war

When you start talking to each other, it’s usually the one who has the biggest vocabulary or has the most confidence in speaking their target language that sets the common communication language (or the language that you use to talk, most of the time). Of course, you will want to practice your target language and your language exchange partner will want to practice his/her target language. This can lead to a conflict of interests, like a tug of war. Usually the language that you use to communicate between yourselves will be set in the first few sessions, after which it will be a bit more difficult to change the dynamics of your exchange, unless you address the issue directly and talk about it.

So, let’s say that you are learning Hindi, and you meet someone online and start talking. After a while you will have used up much of your vocabulary in the language you are practising and you might fall back on your native language, so that the conversation will have a better flow. Do this, and you will be doing yourself a disservice in the end. Once you start getting more comfortable and get back to your native language, you are on a slippery slope and it will take more energy to get back to the language you want to practice again. It is better to struggle a bit, and taste the sweet taste of victory when you find that you can express yourself in your target language. If you don’t try, you might get stuck talking in your native language with this person for as long as you know him/her.

Solution

There are many ways to deal with this issue, but the best thing you can do is to be prepared for a language exchange and have a clear idea of how it can be the most beneficial for you and what things you need specific help with. Make sure that you know for yourself what it is that you need from the language exchange. Maybe you need to practice some grammar points or want to make sure with a native speaker that you’re using the grammar correctly; this could be a much more fun way to go through grammar exercises. Or maybe you need to practice reading out loud and want to make sure that you are pronouncing things correctly and have the correct speed and intonation for the language. If you really want to work on your pronunciation I would recommend that you record yourself as well when you read out loud, that way you would also be able to tell from listening to yourself where you need to improve. Communicate your needs and expectations to your language exchange partner in the beginning of getting to know each other, and he/she will be able to help you out a lot more as well.

A language exchange can be a great thing and it should be both fun and beneficial for the both of you. Take turns talking in your native language and the language you want to learn, and use a timer, if you want. Make sure that you speak equally much in both languages and make sure that you know what your language exchange partner expects from you as well. That way the exchange will be beneficial for both of you, and you wouldn’t need to feel like it’s unnatural to switch between languages, talk about grammar exercises or just read texts out loud to each other. Just set the guidelines when you get started and you will benefit a lot more from language exchanges. Also, make sure that you update your goals regularly, so that you don’t start feeling too comfortable talking about only one thing, but push your limits as well. You will become more productive and will help your language exchange partner a lot more too!

I would also like to add that if you are feeling adventurous or feel very confident, the best kind of language exchange partner is not a language exchange partner at all, but a friend who doesn’t share any common language with you, except for the language you are learning. That way, you force yourself to stay with the language and you will most definitely get the best kind of practice there is. It is more challenging and especially in the beginning it can be quite tiresome, but it will leave you feeling amazing. (I still remember the first time I talked with a guy from Vietnam who didn’t know any English at all. We were talking about shopping and buying shoes or something like that, something that I’m not interested in at all, but it still made me feel really good about myself, being able to express myself in Vietnamese for the first time.) Just do what you feel you are capable of, and have fun!

Summary

To sum it all up

  • Look for a language partner you feel comfortable talking to. There are many websites available to look for people to talk to.
  • Make sure you know what it is that you need to improve on in the language.
  • Agree on how you will divide your time between your languages and stick to it.
  • Stick to the language you are learning even though it’s difficult at times and slows the conversation down, you will thank yourself later for doing it.
  • Use a timer to divide your time if it makes you more comfortable.
  • Change to more difficult topics when you start getting comfortable at the level you are right now, to push yourself to learn.
  • The best language exchange partner is someone who isn’t interested in learning from you, but talking to you naturally (in his/her own language).
  • Have fun and enjoy your progress! Savour the moments of breakthrough!

I had originally written this article as a guest blogpost for my friend Luca on his blog www.thepolyglotdream.com

The biggest secret of learning a new language

The most difficult step in learning a new language is getting started. I have heard countless people say that they wish they knew how to speak another language, but that they don’t have the time, don’t have talent for languages or a million other excuses.

Have you have ever dreamt about being able to speak Spanish fluently, being able to follow Anime completely without subtitles, or understanding the songs in your favourite Bollywood movies? I am here to tell you that you CAN! You don’t have to be a genius, move to a different country or set aside hours every day to learn. My point is, if you want to learn another language, you can!

The only thing holding you back from being able to is that you haven’t started yet.

The problem is not that you can’t find the perfect material, find the perfect teacher or having the right circumstances to learn. If you want to learn, the only thing you have to do is start. Start right now.

Take a moment right now and think of what language you want to learn. This article can wait, just write it down somewhere. Write “I am learning” followed by the language you have decided on.

Now that you know what it is that you want to learn, you can start acting on it. Don’t give excuses for why you can’t, or why you should wait with it. You have been carrying it around for quite some time already, so why would you want to push it further into the future? Today is the day you start! Go on, tell a friend about it, write it on your Facebook wall, tweet it out, make it public!

Congratulations! You are now enrolled and you owe it to yourself to take the next step in learning, to find material. I promise you, it’s not that difficult. Google is a great place to start. Just start by typing “Learning [language]” and see what you get. You can even get a lot of material on YouTube nowadays, so you might want to check that out too. 🙂

Now suddenly you are not stuck in the limbo of wanting to learn. You can with confidence say that you have taken the first step. From now on, you just need to continue doing what you have started.

The next biggest secret to learning a language is to continue doing something every day. As long as you show up, you win. The day you stop, you lose. Don’t lose your language.

5 Ways Martial Arts Improves Your Life

There are many ways that you can benefit from different forms of exercise, and for me Martial Arts of any kind really sums up a good workout. I have been doing different Martial Arts for many years, off and on, and I have been helped greatly in many areas. Martial Arts was the first “sport” that actually stood out to me, and that I enjoyed doing so much that I was looking forward to going back again and again. Below I have listed a few of the things that I have noticed that Martial Arts have helped me the most with.

For me, what really stands out about Martial Arts is how many aspects there are to it. I have always focused on the physical side of the workout, the expression of the human body. I have since I got into Martial Arts, kind of wandered between different schools, such as Karate, Bujinkan, Iaido, Jiu-Jutsu and Tae Kwon Do, and all of them are great in their own ways and all bring their own specific benefits. But there are a few things that most Martial Arts incorporate, which make them very beneficial, no matter who you are.

1. Coordination

In any kind of Martial Art, you have to be able to control your body, to be able to avoid attacks, whether you are doing the Martial Art for self-defence purposes, as a sport or as a workout. There are many techniques that you will learn that will push you to recognize how you can move in a better way, how to position yourself and coordinate your movements with your opponent. You will learn to use both sides of your body, how to coordinate strikes, kicks and other movements, and retain your balance at the same time.

2. Strength and Endurance

If you have never been doing Martial Arts before, you might not think that you need to be strong to start with Martial Arts. This is completely wrong. Actually, once you get past a certain point, the more muscle mass you have, the slower and more sluggish you get. So in Martial Arts, having lean strength is more valued than huge muscles. Another thing that you will improve is your endurance. You will be asked to do the same things over and over and over and over ad nauseum, until you are so tired you want to curl up into a ball and cry, but you will be doing it, and that in turn will build up your endurance and skill. Repetition is key to anything you want to become good at or improve.

3. Improved Reflexes

When faced with new situations, we adapt. When faced with punches and kicks and locks that hurt, you adapt by learning how to counter them, or how to avoid them, but most importantly, you learn to react quickly, assess the situation and act accordingly. You basically teach your reflexes to become faster, by putting yourself in the line of fire. This improvement of reflexes and reaction doesn’t only apply to Martial Arts, but also computer games, when driving, cycling and any other kind of situation where you need to react quickly.

4. Relaxation

Paradoxically you can become a more peaceful person by practicing Martial Arts. It is a great source of stress relief for many people to be able to kick, scream and get their frustrations out through Martial Arts practice, and in turn that leaves you more relaxed and focused than when you started your workout. And the more peaceful you get inside, the easier it is to cope with stress

5. Self-confidence

Through learning self-defence and being able to be confident in yourself even in pressured situations you gain enormous self-confidence. Being able to trust yourself that you will be able to handle any situation that you will come to face is another thing that Martial Arts can bring. Knowing how to defend yourself is an enormously comforting feeling to have, even if you never end up needing to use your skills. Your goal should never be to get into a fight, but to be able to get out of one, and feel secure with yourself no matter what situation you are in. That is the goal with Martial Arts.

Now that I have listed a few of the things that I find the most beneficial with Martial Arts, it is your turn! Tell me what you think about Martial Arts in general, what you benefit from the most and anything else you want to discuss in the comments. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Aurora Borealis Watch

A colourful display of Aurora Borealis in Finland

Aurora Borealis is a very beautiful phenomenon, but a lot of people have never seen it and don’t know when or where to look out for it, so I created this page so that it will be much easier to know when to keep an eye on the skies.

There are a few weather websites that show data on solar activity and a couple of websites that show aurora borealis predictions, so I want to collect the best of those sites and try to make the content available here, collected in an easy manner, so that it will be easier to overview and know when to look up to the sky to be able to see something some people only dream of seeing.

Aurora can be seen throughout the whole year, not only when it is cold, as some people believe. The only thing that is required is that the skies are clear because Aurora Borealis is not a weather phenomenon, it occurs high above the clouds, and dark skies. Sunlight and even bright moonlight can make the Aurora difficult to see though, so keep a good lookout!

The red “View Line” 1000 km equatorward of the aurora shows from where it is possible to see the aurora during good viewing conditions. The chart is updated roughly every 10 minutes or so. View a larger version of this image.

To see the current Aurora Forecast, you can either refer to the image above or go to the Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast which also includes a description of what is to be expected during the current conditions. Click here to visit their webpage.

The activity or intensity of Aurora Borealis is measured on a scaled called the “Kp Index” which goes from 0-9. This scale also relates to how far equatorward it is possible to see the Aurora. To see examples of how the activity looks during the different points of the scale, click the picture gallery below.

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11-Year Solar Cycle

Aurora Borealis has it’s peak roughly every 11 years, and have been measured for more than 400 years, since the time of Galileo! To see this graph go all the way back to the 1620’s, check this link out. It’s calculated that we will have the top activity of Aurora Borealis in 2013-2014, but we are already seeing a lot more activity than just a couple of years ago.

How to predict Aurora Borealis

There are many metrics that are used for predicting Aurora Borealis. For example, you can measure the solar activity and the solar storms and get a kind of prediction from that, which is much like weather prediction here on earth, not completely correct, but at least a guideline. This kind of solar-weather prediction is done with measuring the x-ray radiation that comes off from the sun. You can view a graph that gets updated every 5 minutes of the current Solar X-ray Flux here.

This chart is updated every 5 minutes

In the lowest section of this picture you can see the estimated current Kp level.

Here is another chart that shows the current aurora activity. It is not as clear, but it is still kind of interesting:

Be sure to check back to this page often, as I will update it with more information and data later. Happy Aurora hunting!

For more reading, check out these webpages: