The Problem of Being a Princess Traveller

Three and a half stars is my absolute minimum.

If you can’t tell by the travel part of Widow’s Lure, I absolutely love to travel. Seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new things… it’s all such an incredible experience. But so far, as a 24-year-old man, I have only been able to visit four countries (five if you include Australia).

But if I’m going to be honest, my country count probably won’t increase so much because I am a self-confessed Princess. And that really hinders my opportunities of travel for several different reasons.

Hanging a spreadie on top of the Rockefeller Center like a Princess.

If you want proof, just ask the people I went on my two Contikis tours with. In both End of Tour Contiki Awards, I won the Princess award. By a landslide.

Young Australians, including many of my friends, can pick up and go and travel across Europe and South America and stay overseas for months or even years. How do they do it? They stay in hostels, volunteer at organizations looking for young workers, and visit less-fortunate countries where the Aussie dollar has more value over there. I can honestly say that I am comfortable doing none of the above.

If you haven’t gathered by now, I have expensive a very specific taste in life, and my taste in life comes at a very high cost. For starters, I cannot stay at a hostel. Like point blank refuse will not do ever don’t even think about it. I don’t care how cheap the accommodation is there, why on earth would I want to share a bathroom with people I don’t know when I could have a bathroom to myself. In saying that, I can’t even stay at motels or hotels that are less than three and a half stars. I was once booked in a two star hotel in Los Angeles, and it was that traumatic that I don’t even want to discuss the finer details of it. Needless to say, I am alive and well. Also, a couple of the hotels I stayed at on Contiki had more than one floor, and no elevator. Like. I just can’t.

My style of travelling also means I can’t do it as much as other young people do. The other style of traveller can find cheap plane tickets, stay in Europe for six to nine months, live at a hostel or volunteer at an organization that offers food and accommodation, and Bobsuruncle. It’s so cheap that they could probably go back to Europe in another month or so. Meanwhile, I get flights, stay in hotels everywhere I go, eat out for every meal, and can essentially only afford to travel for five or six weeks. And that’s me done for about a year or two. My style of travelling is expensive and doesn’t last as long, but at least I am comfortable with it. I wish I could travel as long as the hostel travellers, I really do, but contradictory to what some may believe, I fund my own lifestyle. I don’t have handouts from the Bank of Daddy, and I am not swimming in inheritance money.

While I am interested in experiencing different cultures, I can’t see myself visiting the less than fortunate countries. I would like to think I am a decent person, and would love to volunteer for charity organizations in third-world countries that would need help, but the small problem of “I would have to stay there in those poor living conditions” is a red light for me. And I can’t do it. I need a bed, a roof over my head, some clean stylish clothes, and a nice meal on a dinner plate with a fork and a knife. If that makes me a snob, then so be it. I am a snob.

Culture shock for me was going to Subway in Texas and finding out that they didn’t have veggie patties. Imagine this Princess going to a country like Bangladesh… the culture shock would be so overwhelming that I may pass out. Admittedly, I will only ever feel comfortable visiting other westernised countries, like England, New Zealand, Ireland and Wales.

There will be some avid travellers out there who could potentially read this and think that I am a piece of shit for pretty much saying I am too good to visit certain countries, but I don’t regret saying any of this. It’s the fascination of humans; every human is raised differently, and therefore grows up differently. My parents raised me to appreciate the finer things in life, which means that I am too precious to stay in a motel with a single bed and a kitchenette. You are free to live your volunteering in a third-world country, but it isn’t for me, as much as I would like it to be.

Now, something that frugal travellers and Princesses alike can appreciate. Contiki. I cannot recommend it enough, even if some of the hotels don’t have elevators, and you’re stuck standing there waiting for someone to carry your suitcase up the flight of stairs because you just don’t do that kind of thing. If you’re looking for a unique kind of travel experience, and an opportunity to meet some new people, visit the Contiki website and book through your travel agent immediately.

– by Noah La’ulu

The Lazy-asses guide to losing weight: the diet edition

This lazy-asses guide is that lazy, it’s taken over a month to come out!

If you haven’t read The Lazy-asses guide to losing weight: the workout edition, I suggest you read that first before delving into the diet edition.

The greater proportion of losing weight is unfortunately in the diet. That means that no matter how much you workout, you can’t use that as a justification for eating three bowls of nachos, a cheese pizza and a chocolate brownie. (If this sentence has made you crave said nachos, pizza and brownie, I apologise).

Personally, I love eating. Food is great. Food tastes great. Even being the vegetarian that I am, I prefer to eat the fatty/sugary non animal products like chocolate, cheese pizza, chocolate, and more cheese pizza, as opposed to the obviously-vegetarian options like… vegetables, and fruit. YES: BEING A VEGETARIAN DOES NOT GUARANTEE A HEALTHY DIET. Just thought I’d get that misconception out of the way.

Because Nikki Bella didn't get that body by drowning herself in peanut butter. (CREDIT: WWE.com)

Because Nikki Bella didn’t get that body by drowning herself in peanut butter. (CREDIT: WWE.com)

The most obvious thing to do to alter your diet and make it healthier is:

Cut out the bad foods
The easiest solution to turning your diet upside down is to eliminate the obviously bad foods, or “substituting them”. Instead of having a midnight snack of chocolate and chips, opt for a bowl of yoghurt with cut up banana in it. On your lunch break? Grab a sandwich and/or a salad instead of a burger and chips. Healthy eating isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. I’ve actually come to enjoy eating salads as much as I do cheese pizza. And my relationship with cheese pizza is still going strong after all this time.

For me, substitution has played the strongest point of my change in diet. No matter how fit I am or how trim my stomach may get, I will always love eating. It’s just what I eat that plays the major factor in whether I look like Nikki Bella or Peter Griffin.

One thing that keeps me going through my diet is having something to look forward to. That something is my cheat day, which I’ve conveniently placed on a Saturday. It’s like you’re going through a dark tunnel and there’s a light at the end… only for the cycle to repeat itself, but that’s beside the point. It’s alright to have a little cheat day once a week. Just make sure you don’t splurge it. I’m talking waiting-by-the-clock-for-the-strike-of-midnight-and-then-eating-everything-in-sight splurging. Of course, if you don’t trust yourself with a full 24 hours of no dieting, then a cheat meal will also suffice, in which case, yes, splurge all you want in that one meal.

If you manage to substitute your foods, eat a cleaner diet and on top of that, work off your little butt, you will be looking as great as ever. And when you do look that great, you can refer them to Widow’s Lure as your inspiration.

I accept credit card, PayPal and boxes of chocolates (on Saturdays).

Happy weight-loss!

– by Noah La’ulu

How to Survive a Zombiepocalypse

I bet you’re all thinking about it, even if you aren’t.

Why is it that most people are scared of being left in a graveyard by themselves at night when graveyards are some of the most peaceful places on the earth? I doubt it’s because of the decorum. In any shape or form, regardless of how cynical you are, all people have some kind of belief that zombies may exist at some point. Whether it’s some sort of spooky spell that makes the dead rise from their graves or a viral infection that could turn even the most calm people to cannibalistic “walkers”, zombies are always a hot topic of conversation.

Look at that beautiful face! (SOURCE: Mark Lobo's Flickr photostream)

Look at that beautiful face! (SOURCE: Mark Lobo’s Flickr photostream)

But what if the horror came to life?

Well before that happens and Solstice Satisfaction becomes extinct due to no electrical power, I have compiled a list of things you may need to do (or may not need to do) to survive a potential zombie apocalypse based on knowledge from watching zombie movies, reading zombie books or from playing the spectacular Multiple Choice Interactive Novel Zombiepocalypse game.

1. A long extended melee weapon will do the trick
Whether the zombies you have in mind are the traditional slow type that groan, or the even scarier ones that run faster than Usain Bolt, both lots are attracted to sound. If you’re smooth sailing and you see one zombie and shoot it, don’t be surprised if a whole group of them come towards you because they heard the BANG! Therefore, it’s wise to have a non-sound-making melee weapon on hand in case you need to put away a lone zombie in your area. I say a “long extended” weapon because if you have a measly knife, you’re close enough to the biter that even before you’ve thought of stabbing it, it’s already bitten you. May I suggest a baseball bat, golf club or even a parasol? Imagine that. Putting a zombie down with a pink lace parasol.

2. Cardio (and a good pair of running shoes)
I have this irrational fear that a zombiepocalypse will break out when I’m wearing jandals or ug boots or some other form of non-running footwear. Couple that with the fact that I’m as fit as a hippo and I’d be walking bait. Unfortunately, you and your impressive melee weapon techniques won’t be enough to take down a herd of zombies, so it’s best that you make a break for it and run like you’ve never ran in your life. You will be grateful that you ignored the stitches in your sides when you have successfully escaped the herd’s attention.

3. Safety in numbers
I never understood why in Scooby Doo that the Mystery Inc gang would always split up in the most frightening situations. Sure, you’d cover more ground that way, but you are royally firetrucked if you get yourself into a pickle and there’s only one other person to save you (or no one at all). If you travel alone during a zombiepocalypse, you’re more likely to die. Soz but it’s the truth. If you travel with a partner or a group, at least you have someone to watch your back when you’re sleeping or taking a dump in the bushes. It also helps if your gang are former Marines or Doctors or something.

4. Stop for no one
One rule I personally don’t agree with but has proven time and time again to be successful is to stop for no one. Although this may contradict number three, stopping for no one can save your hide eventually. Taking someone else with your or adding another member to your crew just means one more person to look out for and one more mouth to feed. I can’t tell you how many “how long will you last” zombie quizzes I’ve flunked just because I’d stop to save a child. People also get really shady in tragic times like these and you never know what that crying woman on the side of the road will do to you when you’re asleep.

5. Have a base
I’m not talking permanent base like the farm on Walking Dead but I’m talking a mutual home ground for yourself or your gang to meet/rest at when needed. Permanent bases have been shown to be ineffective because people let their guard down and BAM! Herds of zombies. A commonly-but-not-commonly-used base is effective because, if by chance that you get separated from your group, you all know to meet at the base. Also, it’s nice to have somewhere familiar to sleep in terrible times like these. May I suggest a high-fenced area or the top floor of a secure building?

6. Be resourceful
Don’t be that douchebag that says “We don’t need more petrol, just keep going” and then the car runs out of petrol and you’re surrounded by the undead. You get even close to halfway, fill that mother trucker up. Your food source runs low, go out and find some more. Stacking up on resources isn’t greedy or anything like that. It’s wise. You never know when you may be in for a long winter.

7. Observe the undead from afar
One way to learn more about something is to examine it. Why not do the same with the zombies? You may find out if they have any weaknesses, or what they react to, or how long it takes for someone to “turn”. This knowledge will come in handy in case you need to distract a zombie… or you need to know how long you have until you become inhuman.

8. Guns, guns and more guns
In case you are surrounded by a herd and your long extended melee weapon won’t do the trick and all your exits are blocked, then it is appropriate to pull out the big guns. Literally. Guns give you safety in distance and also pull a bigger punch than melee weapons. Of course, don’t give any firearms to any minors or otherwise woefully unequipped to use a gun because nekk minnit, accidental shootings.

When the zombiepocalypse comes and you’ve survived until the end of it, be sure to write “Thank you SolSat” in big red letters with a spray can on the ground to show your gratitude for this article. Muchly appreciated.

– by Noah La’ulu

Mastering Life in Your 20s…

I recently read a blog post entitled “10 Things Everyone in Their 20s Should Be Doing.” I thought it’d be a good idea to do some research since I am turning 20 in a few weeks.

Turns out I was wrong. This list should have been called “10 Things Everyone Should Be Doing Regardless of Age Because They Are Just Common Sense”.

  1. Eat more fruit and veges
  2. Drink water
  3. Exercise at least three times a week

Blah, blah, blah.

None of this is 20s specific. I already do all of those things. Except number 7, which was “Get involved in a group sport.” The list justified this as a good way to get fit and socialise, but anyone who knows me knows that I generally don’t like people, or groups, or sports that require coordination.
I also don’t do number 10, which is “Travel” because I am an almost 20 year old arts student. I do not now, nor will I ever, have enough money to travel further than my parents’ house every other weekend.

Step Brothers: basically just an entire film about what happens when you fail your 20s…

Since I have a pathological need to be right- and to mock things I find to be outright ridiculous, like this list- I came up with my own list of 10 Things Everyone in Their 20s Should Be Doing.

  1. Learn to Cook.
    Moving away from home for uni/study/general escape from rules and CSI reruns is great until you realise that Mi Goreng and toast are not a legitimate meal plan. Mixing it up with some basics like French Toast, Bolognese and fresh soups is a really good idea.
  2. Master the Washing Machine.
    Whites, colours, darks and towels all need to be sorted, washed separately and ironed once dry.  While my brother chooses to stubbornly ignore my teachings, I have faith that you, the lovely SolSat readers are much smarter than he is.
    The next lesson here is, of course, the machine itself. Hot wash, cold wash, low/mid/high water levels, front loader vs. top loader, and what-the-hell-bloody-brand-of- powder-do-I-buy!? Relax. Set your machine to cold wash and mid water level so you’re always good to go. Get the brand of powder that smells the best and make sure to check that the label clearly matches your machine ie: if you have a top loader, get top loader powder.
    Also, fabric softener is a money making conspiracy. It does nothing. Save your $6.
  3. Learn to Change a Tyre.
    Most people get their license at 18, buy a car at 19 and have a wonderful time with it all. Super, except that about 75% of people in their 20s don’t know how to change a tyre, put water in their washer bottles or change their oil. For the women this isn’t such a  big deal because we can flirt with the guys from roadside assist or convince a passing motorist to take pity on us, but guys don’t have that option. It’s a sad stereotype, but everyone expects you to be able to do this for yourself.
  4. How To Hold A Baby.
    Yes. This makes it into the top 5 because this the point in your life when your friends/siblings/colleagues are about to start procreating and whether you like it or not, at some point you’re going to be asked to hold their offspring.
    Did anyone else play Operation as a kid? Well, babies are a lot like that. One wrong move and they start making a god-awful noise that freaks you out more than the thought of actually dropping them. Remember; tuck their head into the crook of your elbow and support from below.
  5. Tie A Necktie.
    You can’t pass for young and deliberately scruffy anymore. You are, albeit reluctantly, an adult. It’s time to start dressing like one. Leave the pre-ties to the hipster kids and man up.
  6. Master Chopsticks.
    No, not that weird piano piece. I mean legitimate, Mr Miagi chopsticks. In your 20s, you do a lot of hipster/cheap activities (because they’re basically the same thing) like hanging out in China Town or Japanese Restaurants. If you want to immerse yourself in another culture, try using their table manners, too.
  7. Dress To Impress.
    The waistband of your jeans belong- wait for it- on your waist. None of this halfway-down-my-butt nonsense. You look ridiculous, and I think your common sense has escaped, along with your dignity, through your exposed crack.
    Spots and stripes do not belong together. That’s not avant-garde or unique or cool. It’s uncomfortable to look at.
    And just a heads up, real mean wear pink. Ladies love a man in pink.
  8. Argue With Respect.
    No, this isn’t an oxymoron. In our 20s, we’ve all got really strong opinions about everything from politics to which Kardashian we like best. Some things aren’t worth losing friendships over, so make sure you keep their feelings in mind. Use phrases like “I understand where you’re coming from, but…” and “Consider this…” rather than just shutting the other person down entirely.
  9. Make a Fire.
    Not in a supermarket or anything like that – I do not advocate pyromania. What I mean is that 20-somethings should be camping and cooking and all doing all that outdoorsy shit. If the cavemen could do it without a YouTube tutorial, you should be able to do it as well.
  10. Perform Basic First Aid.
    This should probably have been number 1, but I’m not going back and changing things now. The ability to perform CPR or properly splint broken bones is incredibly undervalued. Life skills like this one, quite apart from being insanely practical, look great on resumes and first dates. First Aid Classes aren’t expensive, so they’re definitely something to look into.

Also, a mate of mine really wanted me to add “Dispose Of A Body” to this list. I’m slightly concerned as to why, but here is his justification:

“Not because I need to hide a body at the moment, or plan to at any stage, but hey – we can’t predict the future. I just think everyone should have a plan in mind. I, for example, would probably dig a big hole on a farm somewhere and just drop that sucker in. Or feed it to the pigs that live on the farm… yeah, I’d probably go with the pigs.”

And on that note, I’m off to make sure my doors are locked.

− by Blaire Gillies