My Life on the Road: Headed to Texas - chicken and booze in Bozeman

We left Claresholm after eating a continental breakfast of terrible coffee and decent muffins. The hotel’s owner chatted lazily with us as we noshed. He had been a manager of Woolworth's department stores, from Toronto, Ontario to Terrence, British Columbia. He served the chain loyally for decades of his life, never questioning when they sent him north, east or west. They fired him after 27 years of service. He’d become redundant.

I told him that I remembered eating grilled cheese sandwiches at the Woolworth’s lunch counter where I grew up. There was pride in his voice as he told me that, before McDonald's came along, the department store’s lunch counters were the biggest restaurant chain in the world.

The sun was high for it being so early in the day. We heated the RV’s engine for a half hour before wheeling south.

It’s a strange time to write for a living. Where normally I expect to raise an eyebrow when I tell folks what I do, my vocation of late has roused opinions and suspicions. I wasn’t sure if I would stand up to questioning at the border. I needn’t have worried: the border guard was more concerned about where we were going, how long we’d be there and whether we had any contraband onboard. In her rear view mirror, my wife saw our border guard staggering through a pee-pee dance from her booth to the border patrol facility a few feet away as we drove off.

Montana.

The mountains are different here than they are in Alberta. Read the rest

In-flight "brawl" between American Airlines stewards leads to lawsuit

An American Airlines steward is suing the airline, claiming that a colleague assaulted her during a flight and that it refused to address her complaints. A lawyer representing the airline, as quoted by USA Today, says that she had it coming: it is "not liable because Plaintiff caused or contributed to cause the harm".

An American Airlines flight attendant who says she was dragged down the aisle by her scarf by a fellow crew member has sued the Dallas-based carrier for failing to investigate the July 2016 brawl or take actions to ensure her safety.

In her lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court and obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Kathy Ida Wolfe says another flight attendant, Laura Powers, "maliciously dug her fingernails into my arm, and slammed the door of a beverage cart on my arm" and later "grabbed my scarf, choking me, and dragged me in the aisle and in front of the passengers."

Alas, there's no video of the "brawl." Dallas News has more:

Wolfe, of Irving, said she followed American's procedures by reporting the attack to the captain, other flight attendants and the flight service manager.

"I also reported the assault and battery to legal authorities after American Airlines failed to investigate and/or take action to ensure my safety," she said in the lawsuit, which was initially filed in June in Tarrant County district court.

Read the rest

My Life on the Road: Headed for Texas, crazy cold in Claresholm

With my wife's gig in north central Alberta spinning down for another year and the cold charging hard at us like a bull moose in rut, it's once again time for us to head south. This year, thanks to the two weeks it took me to replace a lost passport, we started off later than we would have liked.

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We left Calgary late in the day. No matter how much lead up we have, there always seems to be a few last things to do. Saying goodbye. Picking up snacks for the road. Double checking our rig's engine, air bags, air brakes, tires and all else. Even after receiving my passport last Friday, we waited until today--Wednesday. The weather was too coarse to risk in the rig.

We aimed at Lethbridge as a first night target. Not far, but out of Calgary and within reach of the border early tomorrow morning. As the dusk settled in, we noted that our headlights were not up to the task of leading us. The bulbs would need to be replaced. But not tonight. We made for Claresholm: a highway pass-through town on the road south. By the time we pulled off for the evening, it had already hit -10. We lurked through town, the size of a semi truck with our Jeep in tow, searching for a dark corner of asphalt to call ours for the night. On with the generator. On with the furnace to warm our dog and our bones. Read the rest

This mobile workstation is my new favorite travel companion

One of the big problems I've had with taking long drives, anywhere, has been that I'm forced into unproductive time when I should be working. This isn't a problem when I'm going on vacation. But here's the thing: I seldom take a vacation. As I'm self-employed, there's no such thing as vacation pay in my world. When I stop writing, the money stops coming in. Working on the road is possible--all I have to do is tether my laptop to my iPhone and I'm in business.

So long as I can keep my laptop, you know, in my lap.

Maintaining a stable platform to work on while my wife wheels us across the continent has proven difficult. I've tried lap desks, balancing my computer on a backpack, you name it. My computer always slides around, making it damn near impossible to type. What's more, a neck injury that I sustained eons ago makes it painful for me to tilt my head down for any length of time. This combination of poor conditions has forced me, up until now, to twiddle my thumbs for hours at a time, working only once we've come to a stop for the day.

However, I think that I may finally have figured it out.

RAM Mounts makes a wide variety of mobile work solutions to keep nerd stuff in one place while you're driving along. Cops use RAM Mount gear in their cruisers to keep their laptop secure. Their in-vehicle smartphone and tablet stands are, arguably, among the best out there. Read the rest

My life on the road: A lost passport, no ID, and bullshit paperwork trying to get back to Canada

16 October, 2018 My wife drops me at the airport in Calgary. I'm traveling to Chicago. A fancy audio hardware company called Shure invited me to the city to check out some of the new tech that they'll be releasing in the coming months.

I pass through security with no issues. As I lace on my boots, I am certain that I have my passport. It is in my hand as I board my flight. I place my passport in a buttoned pocket in my jacket before sitting down on the plane. Standing up at the end of my flight, my passport is still there. Upon landing, I pay it no further mind. I'm on the hunt for a cab ride into Chicago's downtown core.

"They say they don't have any money but Jesus: lookit alla this construction," my cab driver says to me. "It's alla the time." I tell him that we have construction season in Calgary, too. But yeah, the traffic headed into the downtown is weaponized bullshit. My smartphone says that the trip should take 35 minutes. Curb to curb, it is a 90-minute ride.

I pay the driver his due and step out of his hack.

In the hotel's front door to the hotel's front desk. I have my luggage. I have a reservation. I have a credit card for incidentals.

I do not have a passport.

I don't have a driver's license, either. I haven't had one for years: my PTSD makes my being behind the wheel a bad idea. Read the rest

Ryanair says it "will not tolerate" in-flight racial abuse after tolerating it

A disheveled, rather soggy-looking white gentleman directed racial abuse and threats to a 77-year-old black woman during a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to Stansted. Read the rest

What 'Independence Day' Is Like In Transnistria, An Unrecognized Country Inside Moldova

Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, is an Eastern European territory with a strong Soviet vibe. Technically, the country does not exist. Transnistria is considered a part of the Republic of Moldova, and isn't an officially recognized nation of its own, despite declaring independence in 1990, followed by a war in 1992. I attended this year's Independence Day celebrations in Transnistria, hoping to understand what the place and the people are all about. Here's what I saw. Read the rest

Ben and Jerry's has a Flavor Graveyard for the 'dearly de-pinted'

There's a plot of land in Vermont where ice cream flavors go when they die. Located next to the Waterbury home of Ben & Jerry's plant and headquarters, the Flavor Graveyard is the final resting place for the company's discontinued flavors such as Wavy Gravy, White Russian, and (32) more.

Travel + Leisure:

“Ben & Jerry’s is known for outrageous, chunky, funky flavors,” said Flavor Guru Eric Fredette in a company press release. “But experimentation comes with risk, and not everybody likes our edgier ideas. Like everything else, ice cream flavors have a beginning and an end.”

This year, visitors who take a Ben & Jerry's factory tour, along with a visit to the Flavor Graveyard, between Oct. 29 and 31 will be treated to a sample of a limited edition pumpkin pie ice cream available only in Waterbury.

You can also visit their virtual burial ground and, if you wish, submit a request to "resurrect" any of the dead flavors. Zombie Schweddy Balls, anyone?

Read the rest

Interactive sea level viewer shows what will happen to America's beaches

Gone, obviously. Tom Scocca:

Using our advanced technology, it is possible to look up the beaches in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Level Rise Viewer, and to imagine what will happen if we visit them, or try to visit them, in the future—when the sea levels have risen three feet, or six feet, or more, if you want. You can use your pocket phone-computer to watch them move ahead through time below.

Read the rest

Dystopia watch: Guide to spotting hidden cameras in your Airbnb

If you're worried that your Airbnb host has hidden a camera in the place you've rented, because that is a thing that garbage people do, you can use these handy tips to spot it. Read the rest

WestJet Airlines says no to drugs as Canada prepares to decriminalize cannabis

Last month, the Canadian Armed Forces announced its strict but reasonable policy surrounding the use of cannabis by service personnel. With Canada's decriminalization of cannabis nearly upon us, a lot of companies and organizations that deal with dangerous tasks or complicated hardware are following suit. Earlier this week, one of Canada's most popular air carriers, WestJet released its policy for when their employees will be allowed to use cannabis.

The short version of the rules: If you're a WestJet employee doing anything other than riding a phone for the company's customer service line or working at an airport check-in counter, chances are that you won't be allowed near the stuff.

From the CBC:

Spokesperson Morgan Bell said employees were notified of the changes on Tuesday morning.

She said cannabis is being treated differently than alcohol, which is banned for certain staff members within 12 hours of coming on duty.

Bell said WestJet's list of affected positions would be similar to Air Canada's, which includes flight and cabin crew members, flight dispatchers, aircraft maintenance engineers and station attendants.

The new WestJet policy also includes a prohibition on possession or distribution of cannabis on company property while on duty or attending a company social function.

Air Canada, Canada's flag carrier, has pretty much the same policy on dope, which makes me happy. In almost all instances, 12 hours is long enough for the blood alcohol level of most drinkers to dip back down to safe levels. Despite all the criminal bullshit that we've laden cannabis down with over the years, we still know comparatively little about what it does to a user's reflexes or how long it may continue to have an effect on judgement. Read the rest

World's longest nonstop commercial flight takes off this week

Starting Thursday, Singapore Airlines will offer a nonstop flight between Singapore to New York, becoming the longest commercial non-stop route at 19 hours in the air. That's 3 hours longer than Quantas Airlines' Perth to London long haul. To handle the distance, Singapore Airlines ordered nearly 50 of Airbus's new A350-900 ULR (for Ultra Long-Range). From CNN:

"The A350 is a clean-sheet design that has been designed for those long-range flights," Florent Petteni, Airbus' aircraft interiors marketing director for the A350, tells CNN Travel.

All A350s share Airbus' design philosophy that makes the aircraft cabin feel more like a room, rather than a long tube. The plane has high ceilings, sophisticated LED lighting, almost vertical sidewalls and a low noise level.

These features, along with a maximum in-cabin simulated altitude of just 6,000 feet, all combine to provide an improved passenger experience, according to Petteni.

Read the rest

Watch a very brave biker zip along a lakeside cliff

Nothing like a relaxing bike ride where the slightest mistake will send you careening down jagged rocks and into a lake far below. The only thing less relaxing would be focusing on filming the whole thing while riding. Read the rest

Account aggregates thematically similar Instagram travel pics

Platforms like Instagram reward users who post specific kinds of content, in some cases leading to travel largely for the photo op. Insta Repeat examines how stylistic themes have emerged in the genre of of Instagram travel photos by aggregating shots that are similar in theme, location, and type of person. Read the rest

Irishman arrested for chasing missed flight on foot during takeoff

Patrick Kehoe, 23, was arrested Thursday at Dublin airport after "running after the plane on the tarmac". He had missed his flight.

Witnesses said a man in his 20s broke through an airport door and ran toward the Ryanair plane, which was about to take off for Amsterdam, at around 7 a.m. The airport said that a man became “agitated” after he and a woman arrived at the gate too late for their flight. It said the man “broke through a door and made his way onto the apron, trying to flag the aircraft down.”

Read the rest

Mexican forces seize control of entire Acapulco police department

Mexico's governance crisis continues: beyond the clandestine mass graves, the kidnapping of elected officials (and assassination of political candidates) and coordinated attacks on anti-corruption candidates, there's the well-known problem of corrupt police officers and whole departments, including, it seems, the Acapulco police department, who have been raided and disarmed by federal forces, with two officers charged with murder and the rest under investigation. (Image: Tomascastelazo, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

'Game of Thrones' filming locations to reopen as tourist attractions in Northern Ireland

Game of Thrones fans will have a chance to walk through Winterfell.

HBO has announced plans to convert several of their filming sets located in Northern Ireland into tourist attractions, as the show ends its historic run in 2019. Read the rest

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