The Thing About Writing a Blog Rather Than a Book

Blogging is an interesting medium.  It offers instant feedback on your posts and there is little room for error if you are writing a factual blog rather than a personal blog.  I think this is great because you get to talk to people who are interested in your subject matter.

Recently, I was asked to write an article on the nature of tipping in restaurants for a public forum called Helium.com.  I was not the only one who wrote an article.  Generally, the consensus was that it is never a good thing to leave a  restaurant without leaving a tip for your server.  It is the amount of the tip that depends on the type and quality of service.  My article was only one of 86 that expressed the same viewpoint, just in different ways.

I posted the article on my blog Traveling On My Stomach as well.  Yesterday, someone left a comment to the post that I ended up deleting.  It is not that I think I should have the only say.  I am absolutely thrilled to have an open, adult talk about any subject you could name.  What I didn’t care for was that the person leaving the comment left one 5 times longer than the original post, which was pretty long to start with.  They ranted and raved on and on about how wrong I was.  Every other sentence was in caps and has exclamation points galore.  Essentially the commentor was screaming at me.  I have no interest in this since it is not commenting but preaching and yelling.

I deleted the comment and left one of my own that stated that such tirades were not welcome and that they needed to start their own blog.  Although I would be interested in hearing intelligent debate on the subject, I am not interested in someone who doesn’t listen to the other side of the argument, regardless of the subject.  Sadly, this has resulted in the necessity to moderate my the comments on ALL my blogs.  I sincerely wish I didn’t have to do that, but I won’t provide a soapbox for someone else.  They can start a blog for that.

In the meantime, if anyone else is interested in commenting in a calm manner, I am happy to talk.  This is especially important because I’m a travel writer and everything about vacations and traveling is subjective.  So please, say hi, if nothing else.

Indie Travel Podcast Rules!

My newest friends over at Indie Travel Podcast, Craig and Linda are giving away all sorts of cool travel stuff to celebrate their first birthday. Check out the contest pages here.

They are giving away guide books and Bedbug Bed covers and even a Gorillapod! Check ‘em out.

Which reminds me, I accidently made a typo in the link url sorry.

Fun Stuff to See and Do in Seattle

The Pike Place Market: I know this is a tourist thing but not the way I do it. Follow me: Get up at 4am. Bundle up in layers that you can remove after the sun comes up. Stop at Starbuck’s and get a HUGE latte. Arrive at the market at 5am.

It is a lot more fun to watch the fish throwers in the morning and the stalls being set up. Plus the air is crisp and clean, everything smells fresh and you can talk to people without the crowds. Most vendors are thrilled to sell you something before they open, if you are so inclined.

Kells’ Irish Pub – This is one of those upscale pubs that charges too much for the trendy food but the music on the weekends is great! About 1 block from the Pike Place Market. Down a very interesting alley.

The Owl & Thistle – An old school and well established pub 1 block from Pioneer Square. The doormen are hilarious and the music is from the house band headed up by the pub owner. Celtic music the way it should be. Have a black and tan or a Guinness alone and you’ll be transported to Ireland in an instant.

Art enthusiasts: Go to Pioneer Square in the evenings after the local businesses have closed but before it gets dark and watch something amazing happen. Street artists set up on blankets and sell their art. You’ll be stunned by the beauty of some of the artist’s work, as I was. It’s hard to keep from spending all your money.

Also in Pioneer Square- There is a tiny office at the foot of the stairs of an antique shop. This is where you can buy tickets and wait for a guide to take you on a tour under the city. It’s interesting in a weird way. But beware, the tour is advertised at the airport and all the hotels so it can get way too full of tourists.

For the book of the day try The Seattle Barista Killer. The book description from Amazon sounds so ridiculous that it has to be a fun book.
“Two Seattle espresso baristas, both young women, have been battered to death, and the Seattle Police have no clues. When a third victim is found murdered at midnight, her body lying in a rain-soaked alley, the SPD bring in their consultant on tough cases, Harley Wolf. They are envious of his astounding ability to sniff out clues, but if they knew the secret of his psychic-like deductions, they would persecute him more than the killer he hunts. Harley Wolf is a werewolf, a mythical monster of the night, but he is no killer. Haunted by the werewolf myths, he became a vegan at a young age, vowing to never hurt the innocent; instead he stalks the city’s dark, rainy streets for killers who do. But even with his wolf prowess, he finds few initial clues to the Seattle Barista Killer, other than the faint trail he sniffs out of someone he calls, “The Marlboro Man,” for the scent of the brand of cigarettes he detects on the body of the last murdered barista. That trail takes Harley deep into the murky world of the cutthroat espresso business, putting in danger even those closest to him. It pushes his caffeine-driven dark side to the edge, as he stalks a real monster that must be stopped before it kills again. “

More Later…

Traveler, Vagabond, anything but a tourist

Tourists are those loathesome creatures that insist that they stay in fancy, expensive hotels, eat at American style restaurants no matter where they are and go to the places recommended in their guides. Places like the Statue of Liberty, the Space Needle and the Sphinx. They rarely actually experience a location. I have yet to understand this tourist. They could just as well save the money and stay home.

I once was invited to Brazil with a boyfriend and was thrilled. After I found out that his idea of a vacation in Brazil was to spend the two weeks in the hotel naked, I declined. If that was what I wanted, I could do that here. If I’m going to Brazil, I want to see Brazil.

My brothers go to Mexico a lot. This is the way they travel. They get suites in huge hotels and order room service. They go to the beach. They eat Mexican food from the American style restaurants. It’s a little gross.
I think people who travel like this also tend to view their home town in the same way. So as I relate these adventures across the US, I will be talking about the interesting parts of life, not the plastic ones.

Seattle Stuff Part 1
The Space Needle is not all that exciting. I went to the revolving restaurant for my birthday once but other than that it is just a tourist spot. There are other, more interesting things to see.

Places to stay:
The Vashon Hostel:
This is technically not in Seattle but on a large, beautiful Island in the Sound. You can take a ferry to the island. Then immediately get on the bus to town. They won’t wait, so don’t dawdle. Get off the bus at Thriftway Grocery Store. Call the hostel, they’ll pick you up there. At the time of this post, the beds are $17.00. You are given pancake fixins for making breakfast the next day, everything else should be bought at the store before you call the hostel.
Buses and ferries run frequently so it isn’t difficult to go back and forth to Seattle itself. The ferries run until about midnight. But the buses only run until 9:30pm depending on the bus. This could be a pain if you want to stay out late.

Freaky name thing!

Recently I ran across a website with my name, only it isn’t me. What is weird is that it turns out the other Jaci Burton is also a writer (she writes romance novels) but her name is a pen name. I was born with mine. She is roughly the same age I am and we both have red hair. Although hers is much tamer than mine. She told me that her color changes with her mood but still it is so weird. Especially, when you realize that we both lived in California for a long time.

I hope it doesn’t cause confusion in the future but it is odd that we are remarkably alike.

You can read all about her here. www.jaciburton.com

Real jobs and travel writing

I had to quit my job at the restaurant last night. It was too awful making people wait while the kitchen screws up their order and I get yelled at by both customers and kitchen staff. 30 minutes is too long to wait for terrible Mexican food in an unsanitary restaurant.

Yesterday, I was feeling quite confident and sent out about resumes for actual travel writing jobs instead of freelance. When I got up this morning, I already had a response. I have been requested to send some writing samples, which I will do today. Wish me luck.

Suite 101

Last night I got an email stating that my application to writer for Suite 101 was accepted. I will be writing on lots of subjects at first. But later I will narrow it to travel.

Unfortunately, they only pay with PayPal. Paypal screwed me out of $1400.00 and I hate them. I may have to decline the job.

Finally, A Camera!

Okay, the camera has been replaced. I will start adding pics again. But for posts from places I’ve already been will have to wait for pics until I get back there.

Tonight I will be using it to document the filthy conditions at the restaurant I work in so that I can report them to the Health Department.

To read up on sanitary conditions and food: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Talk about gross.

Oh the Joys of Living In Paducah

As most of you know, I am in Paducah Kentucky until I can replace car, camera and laptop in order to move on. Paducah is a strange place.
The buses only run every 90 minutes, there are more churches than any other establishment and there is a strange distinction of social class that I really don’t care for. Plus racism is very common and racist remarks are part of everyday conversation. This, I hate.

But the city has it’s quaintness and charm too, not to mention weirdness. For example, there is a chain of gas station/mini marts that frequently advertises fried bologna sandwiches 2 for $3. This is not a handmade sign. These are professionally made business signs complete with picture of said sandwich.

Then, I took one of my cats to the vet a couple of days ago. On our way out we passed a woman with an animal in a carrier. Ever the nosy animal owner, i wanted to see what kind of cat she had. Wasn’t a cat. She was bringing her chicken to the vet in the carrier. I can’t even begin to explain this.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals. I will fight anyone who hurts an animal in my presence BUT I can’t imagine why you’d bring a chicken to the vet. Don’t farm vets come to your farm? How does a vet treat a chicken for, say, arthritis? And how much does that treatment cost? How do you know when your chicken is sick enough to take it to the vet? When the doctor comes into the room, how does he keep from laughing when he asks, “So, what brings Cluckie here today?”

These are questions that don’t come up in California or Seattle. At least I never SAW anyone bring a chicken to the vet before this. It is possible that it’s a common occurrence that I missed previously. So I put it to you.

What would make you take your chicken to the vet?

Book to go along with this adventure in weirdness: All Creatures Great and Small. About a small town vet. Great read.

Is Price Line Worth the Trouble?

When we travel a lot, we are always looking for the cheapest airfare. Everyone I know is always recommending that I use Priceline. I never do. I have tried on many occasions, but they NEVER have the cheapest fare for me.

Last week, I was looking for a flight for my mother from Paducah, KY to Santa Fe, NM. On Travelocity, the flight was $257. On Priceline for the EXACT same flights, $596.

Whenever I have tried to bid on the ticket, my offer is turned down. I am then asked to raise my requested price to one that is WELL OVER the amount of a ticket through Travelocity or Expedia. Usually by several hundred dollars. I am not sure what they are going for here, but it surely can’t be the goal of selling me a ticket. I have emailed them on several occasions to find out why this is happening and have not received a single reply.

I also find it invasive that, since the day I requested a ticket for Santa Fe, ads from Priceline come up every day on my browser telling of the great deals I can get on a flight from Paducah to Santa Fe.

In the past, I have first checked Travelocity or Expedia for a baseline price, then gone to Priceline to see if I could get it cheaper. I no longer even bother. It seems to me that the original idea of naming your own price for flights is no longer valid or even possible. In the last 6 years, I have never been able to get a better price through Priceline. Now naming my own price is just extra time added to my search for a good flight.

Note: The fares in this article were accurate at the time of posting. However, since airfares change constantly, I won’t guarantee that they are accurate now.

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