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Category: Pictures and Video

What’s Up With All The Cats In Istanbul?

Anybody who’s been, lives in, or will be visiting Istanbul, Turkey, is sure to know about its resident cats. They are everywhere in neighborhoods in various configurations – draped over car roofs napping, sleeping in small homes outside of apartments, or living in city’s most popular tourist site. (With a very popular Instagram account I might add.)

It’s estimated there are over 130,000 Felis catus in Istanbul but why? You can watch the introduction to Istanbul’s cats in the video here or read on.

Classy Cats

Cats in the busiest parts of Istanbul have an outdoor but relatively good life. Neighborhood cats are often fed by the humans living around them who leave food out in bowls. Local cats may even get there own little cat houses usually at the food of apartment entrances for shelter.

istanbul cat

In many ways, the cats seem to own the city. They meander in and out of shops, sleeping where they choose, even if its a busy escalator. Watch out hoomans! One particularly popular chubby feline even got a statue built in her honor after passing away in 2016.

Collective Pets

Most of the cats are friendly particularly in the parks where they’re fed by city workers. Don’t have a cat but wouldn’t mind hanging out and petting one – many of the cats will appreciate your extra attention. As Legal Nomads noticed on her visit,

The truth is, of course, that there are many cats Turkey and Istanbul was awash in cats also. Many were well-fed and clean, and  almost all were affectionate. To be sure, the cats slimmed down and dirtied-up when I walked outside the busier zones of the city into the immigrant areas – parts of Fatih, for example. In those laundry-strewn, narrow streets the cats were more feral, more hungry and certainly less curious. But one constant remained: there were cats everywhere.

I’ve focused a lot on the cats but there nearly as many stray dogs as well. They too are fed in parks with ear tags indicating they’ve had their shots and are spayed or neutered. For cats, a small cut in the ear means the same.

Paws To Agree On

Getting a majority of people or politicians to agree on many things in a city of 15 million isn’t easy except when it comes to Istanbul’s cats. A pretty adorable part of Istanbul for a long time, these street cats have done what many indoor cats do, simply endeared themselves to their human pets.

Is DJI’s Trade Up Program Worth It?

DJI, arguably the most popular producer of consumer drones has a buyback program called Trade Up, where you can send in an old drone for credit toward a new one. It sounds like an alluring option if you’re looking to upgrade your drone but as you can see in the video here, it’s probably not your best choice.

How Trade Up Works

The Trade Up program accepts more than just drones, DJI does take back a variety of smartphones and GoPros for example, but let’s focus on the drone buyback. Visiting this Trade Up program page, you enter the model of drone, serial number, general condition, and any accessories you’ll be giving back as well. The process take a few minutes; afterward you’ll get an estimated price for your old drone. In my case, I was shown $275.60 for a Mavic Pro 1.

Assuming you accept this initial estimate, you have 10 days to send your drone back to DJI for a final inspection. Unlike Apple’s iPhone Trade-In, DJI won’t send you a prepaid box. Although they do pay for shipping, you’ll have to box and pack your drone for DJI with your own materials.

Once DJI Gets Your Used Drone

After a DJI receives your used drone, they send an email to confirm which says it will take 3-5 business. They get back to you after an inspection and in my case, the original estimate was reduced to $41. Considering they were covering shipping at $36, I rejected the offer.

dji mavic drone

In case you accept an offer, they keep your drone and apply the final amount to your DJI account as store credit. Otherwise, as they did when I rejected the final offer, they’ll send your drone back typically after 10 business days.

Alternative Ways To Sell Your Old Drone

Given the pitiful $41 DJI was offering me, I decided to try my luck on eBay. Doing so after a week I sold my drone for $448. That’s nearly double the first estimate DJI gave me and 10 times what they would have actually credited me. Selling directly on a site like eBay will typically give you better rates than manufacturer buyback programs.

To compete, companies usually make their programs quick, convenient, or reliable enough to warrant the lower rates. DJI’s Trade Up program isn’t any of those things enough to make it the best option for selling back your old drone. (Their repair service though is another story.) Sure, you can check to see their estimate online but it’s a good idea to try other sites as well. It’s very likely you’ll get a lot more back (and not just in store credit) if you skip Trade Up altogether.

What It’s Like Visiting A Gun Show In America

There are over 60 gun shows in the United States over a given weekend and I attended one that takes place right outside of Washington D.C. The Nation’s Gun Show is a large expo where people can purchase firearms but there’s a lot more than just weapons which keeps bringing people back.

You can see my experience in the video above or read on.

Pandemic Interest

Gun sales have surged since the coronavirus pandemic and every state can regulate gun shows based on their individual mandates. In Virginia, where The Nation’s Gun Show takes place, masks were mandatory indoors and most in line outside were wearing them. Signs reminding people to social distance were conspicuous as were those saying “Enter At Your Own Risk” due to Covid-19.

the nation's gun show

The large halls inside the Dulles Expo Center gave people plenty of space when walking around – the show was busy but not crowded – but most of the congregating was around the gun vendor tables. In particular, around the semi-automatic gun vendor tables.

Looking Around

None of the guns were loaded – vendors or otherwise; there were signs stating not to bring loaded firearms inside – but a few visitors wearing bulletproof vests with rifles strapped to their backs. A bit unnerving at first if you’re not used to being around so many guns but after a short while that feeling wears off. Vendors (notably younger ones) taking apart guns for assembly demonstrations, answering questions about ranges, use, gun quarks… all of what you might expect at a gun show.

the nation's gun show

Surrounding that though were booths explaining the gun laws in various states, as well the regulations for Washington D.C. Cards were handed out in line explaining the gun laws in Virginia, where you can carry a gun, open-carry, concealed, what those terms mean.

Gun Culture

Looking back at you around the gun show are soldiers from the paintings of Civil War battles, America’s Founding Fathers with quotes about freedom and liberty underneath their portraits. As you move around the show floor with the crackle of tasers being demonstrated in the background, vendors come up and ask if you’re registered to vote.

The Republican banners around the voter registration booths, not to mention plentiful Donald Trump banners around, make it obvious who most of the vendors are supporting in any given election. After registering to vote, you can vote for whoever you want in an election, but the idea is to get as many people voting as possible. At The Nation’s Gun Show though, the biggest barrier to voting in the U.S. – registration – is made easy and extremely likely to mean a vote for a Republican candidate.

Revisiting The Show

The Nation’s Gun Show is a large 3 day event but it’s not all gun sales keeping it from recurring once a month on average. There’s a lot more than weapons on a sale here, it’s a community not too unlike other forms of fandom. Guns might get you through the door the first time but everything surrounding them back over and over again.

Turkish Vegan Recipe: How To Cook Mercimek Koftesi (Lentil Balls)

There are a lot of traditional Turkish dishes that are vegetarian or vegan in their original form. A popular local dish I‘ve mentioned before is mercimek (mer-ji-mek) koftesi (kouf-te-si), which are spicy lentil balls with onions and a few other ingredients. Last time I had my mom join a live chat here on the site to show you tips on preparing lentil balls.

For this recipe, I figured it even better to make a video with my mom showing you how to make mercimek koftesi so you can cook them for yourself, friends, or family any time you like. You can see the entire process in the video here.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Adjust as needed, just make sure to keep the ratios in proportion.

  • 4 cups red lentils
  • 2 cups thin bulgur rice
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 onions
  • 3 bundles spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper paste (spicy)

Total Cooking Time

With preparation, about 3 hours.

Any Questions?

Overall these lentil balls are a good side dish you can make to go along with any meal. They’re completely vegan in their original recipe so if you’re traveling in Turkey, it’s a good best if you come across mercimek koftesi there will be no animal products in it.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below and if you’d like to see more recipes on YouTube!

How Bluetooth Trackers Work To Find Your Lost Luggage, Wallet, And Other Valuables

Personal Bluetooth trackers are small plastic devices smaller than a credit card you can use to find lost keys and other valuables. You may be wondering how these devices work, whether they’re worth using, and some of their limitations.

Here’s how Bluetooth trackers work and how you can use them to find lost items.

The Hardware

There are a couple of manufacturers of Bluetooth trackers, the largest being Tile and Chipolo. These are small devices ranging from a simple coin-sized square to the credit card shaped solar-powered Ekster you place in your purse, backpack, basically anything you don’t want lost. The only setup required is to pair them with your phone, an easy process shown in the video above.

Manufacturers tackle batteries differently; Chipolo uses small replaceable batteries, and Tile has a trade-in program for example. In both cases, batteries last at least up to a year, if not longer. Otherwise the setup of these trackers is simple, typically with a single button to pair the device and a smaller emitter for beeping sounds. Most Bluetooth trackers are designed to with in either short and long ranges.

Short Range Use

Depending on the version of Bluetooth, typically these trackers have a physical signal range of roughly 50 meters (150 feet). In these cases, you can trigger an alert using your phone to sound the beeps on the tracker to help you find your keys, for example. The associated app with most trackers will also let you visually locate the tracker when you’re in Bluetooth range and the process works in reverse too – you can use the tracker to set an alarm on your phone so you can locate it.

What Happens When You’re Out Of Range?

You might be thinking by now, “well, I often lose things that aren’t within 50 meters of me,” what now? In these cases you’ll use the Bluetooth tracker’s app to mark it as lost. Once a tracker is marked as lost, it will then activate its anonymous code so that the tracker app on everyone’s phone will be on the lookout for it.

This happens without the knowledge of the other users. So when someone else in the Bluetooth tracking app network (i.e. another user) walks past your lost keys in a cafe, they won’t know that their phone sent a signal back with its location. Once that happens, you’re notified and hopefully you can get to your lost items.

Network Importance

Outside of the short Bluetooth range, the size of the network is important. Tile has the largest network with 26 million users, Chipolo is the second largest (both have subscription fees). What that means is the chance of another Tile or Chipolo user walking past your lost stuff is higher on those networks. Densely populated areas like cities obviously will have better user coverage but in rural areas your chances diminish quite a bit.

Still, a Bluetooth tracker can help you find your lost keys or be setup to alert you if you get out of a customizable short range to prevent you from forgetting your backpack at a cafe or airport gate.

PacSafe’s LS450 Backpack Is Ultra-Secure And Pretty Useable Too

Combining storage and security isn’t easy when it comes to something that needs to be as portable as a backpack. The MetroSafe LS450 Anti-Theft Backpack gets closer than most in a very capable backpack with security features – still a divide in usability you’ll have to navigate.

You can watch my full review of the MetroSafe LS450 in the video above or read on.

Bag Basics

Made by PacSafe, a company known for making secure travel gear, the LS450 is on the bigger side of 25 liters. There are three compartments, one main and two smaller organizational pockets on the front. You won’t find a traditional quick grab pocket on this backpack, mainly because of the fortified design. All of the zippers can be latched to the bag to prevent pickpockets, although you’ll have to get used to the few extra moments it takes to get into your bag as well.

The exterior is made of 210D nylon, with a slash-proof mesh underneath. Still, despite the extra padding, the LS450 remains light at only 840 grams.

Comfort Conversion

In some ways the LS450 is a very comfortable backpack to wear. The straps are soft and padded with a contoured back to keep your back cool. It’s here where some of the security features interfere with pure design. To prevent slash and grabs, PacSafe have hidden the straps of the LS450 in a protective cushion. Those cushions make it so adjusting the straps while you’re wearing the LS450 isn’t really feasible. Also, the material used on the straps is a bit sticky to clothing and may cause pilling.

A thicker band around your neck too isn’t entire comfortable during hot weather – again another security design trade-off. One trade that’s pretty easy to make is the right strap being lockable. Basically allowing you to lock the strap around a chair, table, or other stationary point preventing someone walking off with the bag when you’re distracted.

Security Aside

Overall, the LS450 on its own is a good backpack. It’s large enough to be a capable day pack for school or work commutes. You can find comparable bags for less without the built-in safety features but for travelers who don’t carry a lot of electronics, the MetroSafe LS450 would make for a good everyday carry – especially if you’re looking for the added protection it provides.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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