Friday, September 18, 2009

Control Sinners On A Weekend Away

Bloomin' Lotus
In the garden, the lotuses are blooming but we're off for the long weekend.

In the backpack
Woohoo, here we go! Oh, them undies are missing again.

We just can't let go. We need to know and we need to plan and we need to manage.

We need to "know the truth" about our destinations before we leave:
Trip Advisor
Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Forum
Travel Fish (for SE Asia)
National Geographic's Intelligent Travel
Conde Nast Traveler

especially recessionistas:
Budget Travel
The Frugal Traveler

Those with a slightly higher travel budgets who find the luscious Luxe City Guides too generically chatty need personalised travel guides:
traveldk.com
Offbeat Guides
Tripwolf Travel Guide

Photosynth might give us panoramic visuals on the place.

If we've only got a window within which to take our vacation, then Joobili is our friend.

We want to search for things to do in the city according to our mood: ifeelearth

We need to know the current exchange rates:
XE Universal Currency Converter
Oanda FX Converter

and the weather:
World Reviewer Holiday Weather Guide

We need to ensure the efficient use of luggage space:
The Universal Packing List
One Bag

We need to know that we have the most direct flights for the best price:
priceline
wego (HT: Popagandhi
)
Kayak
Airfare Watchdog
Misa Travel

and predict where those airfares are headed:
Farecast

We need to know the quality of the airlines and their inflight meals. We want to choose the best seats:
Airline Quality
SeatGuru
Airline Meals (not updated)

We need an online check-in service to schedule our check-ins to get the seats we want:
Check me in

We need to know the best places to spend lay-overs in airports:
Airport Privacy Havens

We need to know our flights will arrive:
Delaycast (offline for now)

and have someone tell others when we have actually arrived (physically in bodily form of course, not in a status-referential way - that's so 1980s):
ArrivedOK

We also need our transportation from the airport facilitated:
Hitchsters
London Luton Liftshare

We need to make sure our frequent flyer miles are put to the best use:
WebFlyer

and that our tax refunds or financial compensation for delayed flights don't remain unclaimed:
missrefund
EUclaim

or that we can sell our unused airplane tickets:
Re-ticket

Or, if we are travelling by old skool trains, we need to know the best rail journeys:
The Man in Seat Sixty-One

Even before reach our destination, we need to know the best places to lay our bodies and the best price for taking up space:
Late Rooms
Mr & Mrs Smith

choose the perfect room for ourselves:
TripKick

and to get some visuals on the hotels and the rooms:
SeeYourHotel
Trivop

For those who prefer crashing in strangers' homes or camping in their backyards:
CouchSurfing
GlobalFreeloaders
Stay4Free
The Hospitality Club
BeWelcome
Servas
Roomorama
airbnb
Single Spot Camping

For those who want/need to sleep in airports:
The Guide to Sleeping in Airports

We need directions on-call:
GPS
Google Maps
BreadCrumbz
WalkIt (Obviously, this is a rather UK-centric site.)
Simpatigo

Bonus points from the Authenticity Movement if they come hand-drawn and with insider tips:
A la carte maps

We need to make sure that we continue receive real-time updates from our contacts:
Twitter

and that we are kept informed in a crisis:
Ushahidi

and if necessary, we want to actually talk to anyone in the world for cheap:
Skype
Jajah

And why not keep track of all our travel research and have our trip itinerary well-organised:
gliider
Tripit

and have a soundtrack to go along:
Amplified Journeys

Naturally, this listing is primarily for my own convenience. Intrepid global nomads, info addicts, map maniacs, ADD wired-and-plugged-ins love these life hacks and other mod-cons for iphones (not quite perfect knowledge nor available internationally yet but getting there) because they make us feel competent and that our time and resources are being used efficiently, which is good, but they also encourage us to think we are in control of our lives, which is not so good.

Usually, it takes a plane crash or an unexpected hostage situation in a hotel to remind us that no, despite our meticulous planning, we are not in control of our vacation, nor infact, any part of our lives, really. Yet we persist in thinking that studying hard and working even harder will secure our future; we think cutting carbon emissons will save the earth; we think savvy economic policies will bring prosperity for all.

So even those of us who ought to know better still make an idol of attempting to assert complete control over our lives so that things will pan out exactly as we want them to. To that end, we manipulate and dominate and exaggerate and lie; we wear ourselves out with busyness and frustration; our waking hours are choked with preoccupations and worries.

Yet we forget that the God we claim to worship created the entire universe with a word. He marked off the heavens with the breadth of his hands (Isaiah 40:12). He sustains all reality with the power of his word (Hebrews 1:3). Nothing is outside his control. He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (Ephesians 1:11). He directs the hearts of kings like a watercourse, in whatever way he chooses (Proverbs 21:1). And he has promised that all things will act for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

So our problem is a lack of faith. But there should be no lack, for it is not blind faith that we are asked to have, but faith based on facts so solid that unbelief is unreasonable and absurd.

How can one giving serious consideration to Jesus' acts on earth, as recorded in Chapters 8-9 of the Gospel of Matthew, fail to hail him as lord and Chief Controller? We can scarcely even obey already fall far short of the tenets laid out in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). So we can't even exercise complete control over ourselves. And can we control the body of another so we can distance-heal the sick? Can we command a paralysed man whose muscles have atrophied from decades of unuse to pick up his bed and walk? Are we so in control of nature that we can tell a storm to bugger off? Do we have dominion over life and death so that we can bring the dead back to life? (Matthew 8-9)

No?

Oh,
and which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:25-31)
There is a place for planning for the efficient use of resources and the direction of one's life. But let us remember that all our scheming will come to naught if it is not God's plan for us. And actually, we already know God's plan for us, so why not spend our lives in the most efficient way possible by using our resources for the objective already laid out before us - coming into saving relationship with his Son and seeking God's kingdom.

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