Ten passport photos that look like mug shots

passport photos that look like mug shots - whoopsNo one really knows how to take the best passport photos. To smile, or not to smile? It’s a question we all ask ourselves, but usually not until we’re half a second from that snap of the camera which will define our official “look” for the next ten years. The result? We tend to look confused, undecided, and in some cases, mildly criminal.

Click through the gallery below for ten passport photos which look like they were taken in the clink, and the crimes the “offenders” look like they committed.

(Sorry, but if you post your passport photo on Flickr under the creative commons license, you are kind of asking for this):

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You can avoid this fate. While most of us go to the local drug store or the post office to get the picture done (we want to make sure all the guidelines are met), you can take the passport photo in the comfort of your own home. Here are the official passport photo guidelines (via travel.state.gov):Proper Lighting Arrangement

  • Position light sources on both sides of subject to avoid shadows on face.
  • Use a light source to illuminate background behind subject to avoid
  • shadows in background.

Camera/Subject Position

  • Place camera approximately 4 ft (120 cm) from the subject.
  • Have camera at subject’s eye level.
  • Position subject facing the camera.

Photograph Print Properties

  • Produce 2 inch x 2 inch (51 mm x 51 mm) color photo.
  • Print photo on thin photo paper or stock.
  • Ensure the print is clear and has a continuous tone quality.
  • Do not retouch or otherwise enhance or soften photo.

7 Steps to Successful Photos

  • Frame subject with full face, front view, eyes open.
  • Make sure photo presents full head from top of hair to bottom of chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 13⁄8 inch (25 mm to 35 mm).
  • Center head within frame (see Figure 2 in the pdf linked above).
  • Make sure eye level is between 11⁄8 inch and 13⁄8 inch (28 mm and 35 mm) from bottom of photo.
  • Photograph subject against a plain white or off-white background.
  • Position subject and lighting so that there are no distracting shadows on the face or background.
  • Encourage subject to have a natural expression.

Further instructions and a handy diagram can be found in the government pdf.

[Top image by mexican 2000 via Flickr, other images in gallery as credited.]

Habitat for Humanity building an eco-tourism village in Indonesia


Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the world’s largest paper producers, to bring a struggling village in Indonesia out of poverty in an unusual way: by making it into an eco-tourism destination where visitors can stay with families.

This controversial conversion will take place in Soran, a village where 60 percent of the resident families live below the poverty line, despite their long traditions of creating crafts and music, and their location near to one of Indonesia’s most precious attractions, Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Central Java region.

The Soran project will improve living quarters for most families by adding guest accommodations, expanding kitchens for the preparation of guest meals, earthquake proofing and adding laundry facilities. Furthermore, the project will train-to-employ over 250 villagers as laundry management workers (50), cooks of traditional foods (100) and performers and marketers of the village’s traditional arts (100 families). Over 100 villagers will also be trained in “disaster risk mitigation.”

You can watch Habitat for Humanity coordinator Johannes Sigit P. talk about this first-of-its-kind for HfH project in the video above. What do you think?
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Tin Soldier Museum in Valencia

Tin Soldier MuseumValencia, Spain is home to the Tin Soldier Museum, Museo L’Iber, the world’s largest collection of tin soldiers (they have over 80,000). They have tin dinosaurs, tin designer fashions, tin Iraq war scenes and tin royalty. The museum is actually an amazing historical resource, as important political and international scenes from across the ages are set up and portrayed as accurately as possible in tin and toys. Naturally, Spain gets the most attention. If you’re going for a visit, which costs just €4, bring a guide who can translate for you; they don’t have English descriptions for the exhibits. And, if you’re a collector, bring your wallet — there’s an impressive gift shop with miniature treasures you won’t likely be able to resist.

The Tin Soldier Museum collection belongs to D. Alvaro Noguera Gimenez. The Gimenez family bought the building which houses the museum around the time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The building has an event space and apartments which the family rents to keep the museum afloat. Pretty smart!

The Tin Soldier Museum contains reportedly over 1 million tin and toy soldiers, though just 80,000 are on display. Here are some highlights from the collection:

General Franco
Tin Soldier MuseumThe Wedding of Queen Isabella
Tin Soldier Museum

Specially-commissioned watercolor backdrops
Tin Soldier Museum

Epic war scene between Spain and Austria
Tin Soldier Museum

Nude toys in the overthrow of a Roman temple (there were more NSFW ones, but I’m “keeping it Disney”)
Tin Soldier Museum

American tin soldiers
Tin Soldier Museum

Hussein, Kennedy and Castro
Tin Soldier Museum

Teeny tiny fashion
Tin Soldier Museum

Special exhibit on India
Tin Soldier Museum

Case after case of tin soldiers
Tin Soldier Museum

The unassuming building in which the museum resides
Tin Soldier Museum

Read more about Valencia here!

[Photos by Annie Scott.]

This trip was sponsored by Cool Capitals and Tourismo Valencia, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.

Ten clear signs you’re in the wrong city for Christmas

Christmas trees - you're doing it wrong. Wrong city for ChristmasChristmastime is a special time for Christians, and also for non-Christians who don’t mind the excuse to decorate, eat, and exchange presents. One of the main chagrins of perpetual travelers is that they often find themselves in the wrong city for Christmas. Being away from family is one thing, but sometimes, December 25 can roll by without feeling like a “real Christmas” at all. I feel weird even celebrating sans snow.

I understand that not all Gadling readers observe the Christmas holiday, but I do, and this is for those of you who do, too — and who knows? Maybe even some people who don’t celebrate Christmas can appreciate this article in the spirit in which it was intended: lightheartedly. Here are 10 clear signs you’re in the wrong city for Christmas.

You know you’re in the wrong city for Christmas when…

  1. The only smell of pine is coming from the cardboard “freshening” apparatus dangling from your cab driver’s rear-view mirror.
  2. When someone says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to you, you feel insecure about not blending in well enough.
  3. You at any point attempt to decorate a palm tree.
  4. None of the shopkeepers seem to understand your impulse to “decorate” a cookie (and they certainly don’t know where you can get some of those delicious non-edible silver dragees).
  5. The only Christmas tree you can procure is below waist-high.
  6. Friends brutally mock you for having believed in Santa Claus ever, like, even if it was over 30 years ago.
  7. You at any point attempt to hang ornaments on something that isn’t a tree (or the friend who mocked you).
  8. You can look around and feel certain that not one person in your vicinity knows the trials and tribulations of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  9. You forgo inviting friends over for a few days because you don’t know how they’ll react to the oversized socks hanging from your fireplace.
  10. Every time you think you see a nativity scene, it turns out to just be a manger with people around it.

Got more ideas? Put ’em in the comments below, we want to hear!

[Photo by avlxyz via Flickr.]

Ten awesome things in the Valencia riverbed

Valencia riverbed - The former Turia River
Once upon a time, the Turia River ran through Valencia, Spain, cradling the Old Town and flowing into the Mediterranean Sea just to the east. The river was prone to floods, and in 1957, a particularly nasty one did massive damage to the city and even killed many of its citizens. The Valencians had had enough and decided to show mother nature who’s boss. They diverted the river out of the city and turned the riverbed into a fabulous eco-park.

Bit by bit over the years, they have added things to the riverbed garden park, from playgrounds to fountains and even major buildings. The influences of the Arabs, Romans and Christians are all present, and the bridges, some of which date back to the 15th century, still cross the river, so you won’t find any cars disturbing the peace.

I took a bike tour through the riverbed in Valencia and encountered all sorts of unexpected and awesome things. Here are ten of them.1. The most amazing jungle gym ever
Valencia Riverbed - jungle gym
It looks like something you’d design in math class but never actually create. I would play all over that.

2. An idyllic bower
Valencia riverbed - idyllic bower
This bower is so classical it looks like a painting, and its benches have a lovely view of a secluded fountain.

3. A cat on a tree covered in graffiti
Valencia riverbed - graffiti cat
I couldn’t resist shooting this cat. Let’s call him Freddy W.

4. A fleshy playground shaped like Gulliver
Valencia riverbed - Gulliver playground
I know, right? Believe it or not, the Valencia riverbed is home to a Gulliver playground, inspired by Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. It’s really weird-looking, and the idea of playing all over some giant’s body makes me sort of uncomfortable. I’d prefer the jungle gym.

5. Bicycles built for four
Valencia riverbed - carriage bike
That’s me in one of the kooky bike-carriage thingies you can rent in the riverbed. They have larger ones for more people.

6. An opera house
Valencia riverbed - opera house
This building is the northernmost one in the infamous City of Arts and Sciences complex, designed by Valencian Santiago Calatrava. I’m not completely certain, but I have a hunch that it can fly.

7. A dinosaur (and science museum)
Valencia riverbed - dinosaur
Brawwwrrrrrr! This dinosaur, advertising a temporary exhibit at the Principe Felipe Science Museum, is enormous. And he moves.

8. A planetarium
Valencia riverbed - L'Hemisferic
The is the Hemisferic, Valencia’s planetarium, also within the City of Arts and Sciences complex. Legend has it that it was designed specifically to look like an eyeball at night when it’s reflected in the water.

9. An event space that looks like a blue whale
Valencia riverbed - event space
This Calatrava building in the City of Arts and Sciences reminds me so much of a blue whale I thought it must be the aquarium, but the aquarium is further south. This is an event space.

10. An aquarium
Valencia riverbed - the Oceanografic
Lastly, the Valencia riverbed is home to the Oceanografic, Valencia’s fantastic aquarium. To read about it and watch some videos of the amazing marine life there, click: Night at the Valencia Aquarium – videos and more.

If you want to rent a bike to tour the gardens in the riverbed where the Turia once flowed on your visit to Valencia, you can find them at ValenciaBIKES.com.

Read more about Valencia here!

[Photos by Annie Scott.]

This trip was sponsored by Cool Capitals and Tourismo Valencia, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.