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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

Getting Lost

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Famous for it, but I've resisted bringing a GSP along with me for a number of reasons.
  1. Cost. Who wants another multi-hundred dollar gadget?
  2. Power. Right, another power cord. And please don't tell me to "get a tip" for my portable power supply. Those d*mn things just don't last long enought to find the tips for my laptop, my US phone, my GSM phone, MP3 Player, etc, etc. Plus I have to remember to seperately expense a dozen tips.
  3. Complexity. Duh
Well, perhaps this be the bomb then? Solar powered, hundred bucks (a magic expense number!), simple to interface with your PDA/Phone/laptop via bluetooth.


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Comfort In The Air

One of those little tricks to be more comfy on the international runs is to get a seatbelt extender from the FA. Basically it lets you stretch and turn without getting all tangled in your seatbelt. It can also make it easier to tuck in your blanket or run cables.

Some people say it makes you less safe in a crash, but I'm with Bill Cosby - the helmet is so the ambulance guys can identify the body easier. The seatbelt (when it works) just lets them figure out what DNA was in what seat.

Anyway, now you can own your own seatbelt extender for between $60 and $75. I also think it's neat that they send you an FAA id for your belt.


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They Made Me Take Off My Shoes

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On a recent trip to India, my human rights were severely violated. Let me describe my day:

I started off in the morning wanting to take a swim. When I showed up at the pool area, there was a huge sign that said "No shoes allowed." When I tried to wear my sneakers into the pool the attendant became very agitated and required that I take them off. I explained to him that I had a human right to keep on my shoes and that he was repressing me, but all I got was a head bob.

Later that day I played tourist and went to visit a temple. The security staff at the temple accosted me and required that I remove my shoes in order to enter. I pointed out that I had a right to enter because it was a public place and that there were lots of people walking around barefoot in there and that it was disgusting. I didn't get much sympathy; the jackbooted thug at the temple gate just looked at me with a puzzled expression.

For dinner I was invited over to a friends house. As I went through the front door, he indicated that I should take off my shoes. I screamed "Not you too! I'm being repressed! This is an outrage!" at him, but he didn't seem to understand the importance of my God given right to wear shoes wherever I wished.

In short, India is a facist state. Clearly, Kip Hawley has managed to take over the country and institute his ridiculous shoe carnival throughout the nation. I was very glad to get back to the US where I'm only required to remove my shoes for about 20 feet as I pass through the metal detector at the airport. I'm so glad to be back in the land of the free. Tonight I'll be in a nice hotel room where I can wear my shoes the entire time. I think I'll even sleep with my shoes on.


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Fingerprints to go Down To Pub?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Say it ain't so! England is rolling out fingerprinting of pub patrons. Yes, that's right. You'll have to present your digits in order to enter a bar.

The government is is funding the roll out of fingerprint security at the doors of pubs and clubs in major English cities.

Funding is being offered to councils that want to have their pubs keep a regional black list of known trouble makers. The fingerprint network installed in February by South Somerset District Council in Yeovil drinking holesy is being used as the show case.
Now you'd think that this would just push the hooligans over to the pubs in the next town, but no such luck:
Bradburn could not say if fingerprint security in Yeovil had displaced crime to neighbouring towns, but she noted that domestic violence had risen in Yeovil.
So instead of fisticuffs down at the local, it's now stay home and drink and beat up the missus.

The UK isn't exactly a bastion of freedom with CCTV cameras at every corner, but getting fingerprinted just to have a pint? This seems a little over the top, mate.


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Fasten Your Seatbelts

Monday, October 23, 2006

Airline crews routinely advise us to keep our seatbelts fastened, even when the seatbelt light is not on. BA flight 2166 out of Tampa found that out:

BA flight 2166 carrying 175 terrified passengers, three pilots and 11 crew plunged 600 feet in a bid to avoid collision with another plane above it....

The emergency collision avoidance system on the Boeing 777 plane kicked in over the Atlantic Ocean, causing lights to flash and an alarm to sound in the cockpit, with the pilot hearing the words "descend,descend,descend."

The descent was so sudden that some of the crew members left the floor, went into "freefall" and hit their heads on the ceiling of the plane as it plummeted.

Others slammed into the bulkheads. All four crew were stood down from their duties while being treated for bruises on board in the Club cabin for the remainder of the flight.

So a couple of things: First, keep your seatbelt fastened, because you never know. I saw a guy in a sleeper seat the other day with his seatbelt between his knees and ankles -- that looked like an injury waiting to happen.

And Secondly, be thankful for the collision avoidance systems. I didn't see anything in the article about the traffic that caused this, but it there really was an imminent collision, isn't it nice that all that technology works when you need it?


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New Regular Contributor

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Regular readers know we've posted several items from TierFlyer - someone who feel the same way we do about travel gadgets (summary: YES!) and business travel in general.

Anyway, he's agreed to start contributing regular postings about his travel, how he uses gizmos, and how it all works (tm).

Welcome, TierFlyer!


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We Love the Tumi

Ok, that was a weak Manolo imitation, but this is pretty neat. You ever been in DFW or some other airport and desperately looked for a plug *or* as seat out of the sun? Nothing, right?

Ok, plonk $695 down for this Tumi and you get a great computer bag.

But, you say, why is it so expensive and why were you blathering on about sunlight and power plugs? Ah-ha!
Yes, that his a solar panel. And, yes, the bag has a internal power distribution system so you can leave your laptop, iPod (Zune, whatever), and cell phone plugged in. And, yes, that is a big picture, but you get your money's worth here at Find-The-Boots!

Oh, and all the money goes to Doctors Without Borders. (Personally I like a little border between my doctor and me!)


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Ideal Traveller?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ok, as regular readers of this blog and FlyerTalk (more of one than the other, eh? :-) know there are different theories about how, when, and why to fly.

We fly to get to work. Period. Mileage Runners are terra incognita to us. I recently heard someone describe flying to get frequent flyer miles to fly on vacation (did you follow that?) as similar to winning a pie eating prize where the prize was more pie.

Anyway, I recently got some email from FlyerTalk talking about an article on Dean Burri, so-called super flyer with 400K miles/year. Early money quote:

Burri doesn't even own a car - he rents one when he lands at home in Clearwater, Fla., where he lives with his wife and six kids. "I would just as soon fly to Hong Kong for Chinese food than order delivery from the place around the corner"

Ok, perhaps that is hyperbole, we can only hope.


Later this month, he tells me, he's flying from L.A. to Honolulu to Guam to Manila to Taiwan to Macao to Hong Kong to Seoul to Tokyo to Newark and back to Tampa, all in seven days. What's more, he's doing it for fun: The idea is to hit airports he hasn't been to before.

Read the first quote: wife and six kids. Flys 400K/year on business. So he's taking 7 days off from home to fly to airports he hasn't been to.

So this part won't surprise you:

Shadowing Burri in an airport is like following a Porsche around in a Toyota Corolla. Though he's 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, he has the agility of a left tackle. When I ask how he always manages to be first in line for everything, he looks at me quizzically.
Hint: it's because he's pushing in front of the rest of us, cutting us off, and generally snarling traffic.

Let's take a look at Dean.

Look, we at FTB are not going to make fun of someone looking like a dork - we're not exactly breathing down Brad Pitt's neck, you know?

But, dude: get a hair cut somewhere besides SuperCuts, ditch the bowtie with that moon pie face, and the 80's are NOT back for those glasses.

I got more good news for those of you who have to sit next to or near Dean - he smells like an old cigar. He carries two of these (in his suit coat pockets!) and apparently smokes 'em pretty good. Nice.

Here at FTB we suggest Dean get a life - it's at home with his wife and kids.


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My Boots Are Shinier Than Yours

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I was recently showing off a new new purchase to a friend who also works at a (different) MegaCorp. My new little gizmo-tronic toy was a 1 Terabyte NAS workstation for, er, well, for backups. Yep, that's why I got it.

Anyway, he apparently went running out and bought the 2 Terabyte version. Probably for backups as well. Whatever.

My point is, and I do have one, I think I have discovered The Shiny Boot Race.

The bad news for tech companies is that this desire to one-up first-adopter friends means you have to be a second adopter. Or a 1.5 adopter.

Anyway, he has a nice shiny new Motorola Q and I just read that they're coming out with a Q Professional. So double doo doo on him - my phone will be a slimming shade of black AND labeled Pro.


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Woot Rip Off

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Love the woot.

Love the rip off, tanga.

Just wish I could figure out a way to pull that off.


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Best Ever Boot Store Now Online

Diligent booters know that Fry's is the best store ever. Thousands and thousands of barely justifiable gadgets lying about. If they tood Amex it would be the perfect store.

For years they've owned Outpost.com but now they've integrated their catalog with their store.

Let's see: Yummy 1G NAS (with RAID) for $700 buckaroonies.

Oh, and the online guys take Amex. I'm in heaven.


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BA Business

Monday, October 16, 2006

Regular Reader TF sends us his latest posting on FlyerTalk:

I just flew over to blighty on American in business - what a crap service, as usual. Luckily it was on one of the older 767's as their business class seats aren't quite as crappy as the newer 777's. And how did AA pull that trick off?

Anyway, connected to BA to India and what a nice ride that was - but we all know their lie-flat seats are prime. What struck me was that they'd switched over to a new blanket - call it a duvet. It was bigger, padded, and warmer/softer.It can't have cost them a fiver, but they cemented their relationship with me once again.I do give AA props for finally introducing some new food items - crab cakes and a kind of cheese anti-pasta. Both quite good.

We concur. How can an airline miss the boat on business class?


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TSA Continues to Not Suck

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sorry, but it is true. Plus their counterparts in Europe and India are not sucky either.

Back to FlyerTalk, where you can find out that using your Library of Congress card raises suspicion in an airport.


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Kip Hawley Is An Idiot

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Or, you know, not. It's pretty clear what we think here at Find The Boots, but if you're so inclined then you won't want to be seen at a checkpoint without some great tshirts and apparel. These are pretty funny. It's amazing how much time some people have on their hands.

Of course, you'll probably get the extra long secondary search, but that's up to you. Please just step aside so I can get to my plane on time.


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Worst Jet Lag Ever

Monday, October 09, 2006

So I arrive in Nowhereistan and check into the hotel - around 10am or so. No sleep on the overnight flight over, too many drinks in the Upper Lounge (ahem), and I'm a bit cranky.

Then they tell me that I can't check in until 3pm. At a 190/Euro per night room rate. Then they say that for an additional 75 quackers I can get in now. So I decide to pony up and then, right before the run the card, they find out they have no clean rooms.

I finally get into my room, but it is too late for a nap, so I take several shots of Vodka and walk around the town, eat dinner, go back to the room at 10pm and crash.

Which is when I find out that a tram car runs outside my window, four floors down, going beep beep every 45 minutes.

More posting tomorrow after I blow up the trolley! :-)O


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TSA Still Not Goons

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Just got off a transatlantic flight and, while sitting in the BA/Upper lounge enjoying a nice large glass of Johnny Walker Blue (at 7:24am) thought I would give an update on the horrible TSA and their troglodyte brothers at Gatwick.

They were all fine - unfailingly polite and helpful.

As usual.


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Seriously Strange People Who Fly

From regular reader TF comes these links from FlyerTalk. We've pulled the juicy bits, but go read them all. After our pithy comments, please.

Start it off Herbert!

My wife was arrested for standing against a wall

Well, actually, she was yelling at the TSA because the mom had

been a widow for 25 years. As far as we know, she has never had any intimate contact with anyone (except for a TSA screener) in that amount of time. Mom is very religious and objects to being touched by homosexuals. So, she always relates to the screener that if the screener is a homosexual, that she would prefer that another screener be brought over.

Right on. Anyway, apparnetly this is genetically inherited because in an earlier post we find that he's:

Flying with my daughter and no "government issued" ID

The scare quotes around government are usually a good sign that someone is living off the grid in Montana, waiting for TEOTWAWKI. (Google it, but don't be drinking while you read the results). My favorite money quotes are:

I do not possess "government issued" ID. First, because I see no reason to make application for permission to exist, second, because this is the land of my birth, and third, because most states "require" a Social Security Account Number (SSAN) to make application, I never made application for one.

So, the ID that I have, I make myself. It has my picture, name, mailing address (PO Box), height, weight (still fluctuating) and signature on the front, and is in the form of an affidavit on the back. I do not put a date of birth on it, as first, it's none of anyone's business, and second, because I cannot swear to the exact date from personal knowledge (Do you remember the day you were born and did you have an understanding of the calendaring system at that age? For that matter, do you even know that the people that you believe to be your parents actually are your parents?)

All I can say is, can we get a baloon on this guys hat so I can choose a different screening area?


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All Your ATM Are Belong To Us

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Well, they do. (People younger than 30 may have to google that phrase.)

Remember what a pain it was before when you had to change money or travellers checks? When I was in Turkey in the 80's you had to do it at a bank if you didn't want to get savaged - and six people and twenty pieces of paper were involved.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. The point is that, while we aren't a big multi-media kinda site, this video is amazing.

Amazing because if they're this easy to hack then what else is going on when we get the local Tilapia out of the Rumanian ATM?


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Screaming Cell Phones

Sounds like a cross between pax travelling with infants and talking on their cell phones, but actually it's a technology developed by a UK company. It's a cell phone security system that sets off a high pitch scream, permanently locks the handset and wipes all data if stolen.

Sounds like a great idea. But I remember the time back in the 90's that I dropped my cell phone in a New York cab on my way back from an excellent steak and several martinis at Sparks. I called it the next morning and a very nice lady answered it and told me that she found the phone. She was nice enough to drop it off at the hotel. And she didn't even call her nephew in Mumbai. I suspect that lost phones that are screaming would be thrown into the Hudson.

And, imagine for a moment, the TSA's reaction to a cell phone, inadvertently left in the plane, starting to scream.... Yes, they'd clear ORD faster than you could say: technology solution in search of a problem.


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Unlabeled Containers

Friday, October 06, 2006

The latest trick from the TSA is that some checkpoints are requiring that the 3 oz bottles in your ziplock bag be in labeled containers. Of course there's nothing in the regs that say that, but why create problems? Just reuse your hotel containers and fill them with what you want.

Of course, this reminds me of the story of a friend that returned to his hotel room rather late and rather drunk. He awoke the next morning with a horrible taste in his mouth. To his shock and horror, he discovered a tube of Preparation-H next to the sink with his toothbrush, and his tube of Crest still in his shaving kit...


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All We Are Saying Is

Give Centronics a chance.

Yes, that is a stretch, but so is paying $70 to be able to print stuff on your old Okidata printer.

This is kind of like one of those gadgets where you put a lawnmower engine in the rear basket on a GOMER trike.

Or teach a bear to dance.


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The Great Treasure Hunt

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I saw a great idea over on FlyerTalk in the AA forum. Somebody had extra drink coupons, so instead of throwing them away, they hid them in the back of the menu on a table in the bar. Other FT readers now know to check the menu for drink coupons.

Frankly, I've never had the problem of having drink coupons left over. And if I did, I don't think it would be that hard to find some members of our military around to take care of them for me. I've been leaving magazines and paperbacks in the seat back and on tables in airlines clubs for quite some time. I have no idea if someone else picks them up before a cleaning crew throws them away, but at least there's a chance they'll get reused.

So I've had an idea. Email me with the location of any "treasure" you find yourself leaving behind in an airport or a hotel. If I get enough items, I'll throw together an application and maintain a list. If you find something, you'll be able to go on line and report it. How cool would it be to find out there are drink coupons waiting for you in the Admirals Club at ORD when you go online and find out that your flight has been delayed by 2 hours?


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Yet Another Gadgetized Watch. From Fossil, available in a few months for $250 (no contract, heh), and it is also decent looking.

I think it's great they're starting to hook our cell phones into our other devices, but I'm not sure a OLCD status panel on a watch would be my first choice.

And, since I'm over 40, I'm not sure I could actually see it were I to wear it!

Now, if there was an app you could load into your phone to make the alarm on the watch ring/vibrate when there was a calendar item due.....


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The NYT Makes Sense

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

[Editors note - this is a guest column by regular reader TierFlyer and it's not about boondoggles, but about aviation security. He's going to crosspost it at FlyerTalk too. We'll try to get the link for that.]

Ok, could not find this story anywhere, and even though it violates two rules I thought I'd post it for everyone to read.

What rules? One: trusting the NYT. Two: The TSA is run by communisty idiot Hawley, his drooling lackeys, and other assorted eeevil Bushiterites.

Anyway, here :
In a canyon in New Mexico, technicians detonated beaker after beaker of liquid explosives. In laboratories in Florida and New Jersey, scientists concocted dangerous brews. In drugstores and supermarkets in the Washington area, government officials shopped for tiny containers of shaving cream, shampoo and toothpaste.

Since a London-based plot to bomb airliners was broken up seven weeks ago, aviation security officials in the United States have pushed to assess how serious that threat was and what safeguards should be taken. The revised checkpoint rules announced last week by American, Canadian and European authorities were the result of that frenzied effort....
Then some more details and a money quote:
But the changes also provoked some skepticism by the public about the reasoning behind the decision.
Uh, yes, if you hang about on FT! :-)
Aviation security officials said they were confident they had settled on a sound course. "We looked at it from the chemistry point of view, the physics point of view — which kind of operational tactics one might use, with different scenarios," said Kip Hawley, the assistant secretary for the transportation agency. "The arrangement we came up with does have a good margin of error."

The testing, Mr. Hawley said, confirmed that the risks posed by the London plot were real. "This was a serious, serious, serious threat — chilling is the word,” he said in an interview last week. But extensive work by government and university scientists showed that the threat could be largely counteracted by limits on the size of containers", he said.
Oh, my god, Comrade Hawley can sound reasonable! Man the barricades!

But wait, there is more (after the usual NYT duelling experts with differing opinions about speed and wisdom) about the London plot:

With the seal on a sports drink called Lucozade intact, the plotters apparently intended to remove the drink with a hypodermic needle and replace it with highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide, a syrupy liquid once used as rocket fuel.

Another bottle would be filled with a common household substance, which The New York Times agreed not to disclose at the request of Homeland Security officials. After the two were mixed, a detonator hidden in a hollowed-out AA battery would be used to set off the bomb, according to this theory.
Gee, I thought I had read on FlyerTalk many experts talking about how that was impossible.

Please note that the NYT reporter and editors do fly on commercial airliners - they kept details of the explosive mix secret - unlike the NSA wiretap program they exposed. Hypocracy, they name is J-School.

So, what is the explanation behind what people at FlyerTalk are calling the "Freedom Bag Rodeo?" Well:
Taking into account the possibility that terrorists might act as a team and pool ingredients, officials arrived at the limit of one quart-size plastic bag per passenger. That amount of liquid explosives could still cause damage or harm passengers, but it would be unlikely to destroy a plane, officials said.

"It is well within the comfort zone of what we need to protect the public," Mr. Hawley said.
And a great ending quote:
Mr. McHale, the former T.S.A. deputy administrator, said he thought the agency had made a reasonable decision.

"You have to act on the info you know, not fears of what you don't know," he said. "People who aren't faced with the pressures of keeping the aviation system running might prefer to just shut the system down or have everybody fly naked. But obviously, you can't do that."
Actually, I can say for sure that here and on FT the mood is quite a bit not "more restrictions" and that anyone who travels things we need more cloth coverage and less partial nudity!


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The New Mini

No, not the newest BMW iteration of the Cooper, but a USB adaptor that holds mini-SD cards.
The thing I like about this adaptor is that it is small enough to throw into the "misc" bag in your computer bag and keep it for that twice-a-year need. Weighs two grams.


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Free Violates Booting

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well, no, never pay for something you can get for free, but never pay for something you can (reasonably, ahem) expense.

So, anyway, Glenfiddich is offering a free hip flask if you fill out this silly long survey. Use code GLEN000001.

And maybe someday we can bring some 'Fiddy home from LHR in our carryons.


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One of our new friends from FlyerTalk sent us this gem - we took the front half, but click through for the last half....

It wasn't planned that way.

It just happened.I had French fries in France, a frankfurter in Frankfurt, a hamburger in Hamburg, a Danish in Denmark, a Polish sausage in Poland, Swiss chocolate in Switzerland, and in Sweden, yup, you guessed it... I walked through an IKEA listening to ABBA.

French fries in
France... no matter what else you think or say about the French (or how hard you
hit them -- more on that in a minute) they have great food. I once worked long
hours on a job in Brest, so long that by the time I got back to the hotel the
kitchen was closed. So I just drove up to the BP Petrol station, bought a couple
of sandwiches, some fruit, maybe a pastry for desert, and some fruit juice. But
unlike "gas station sandwiches" elsewhere in the world, these were great! Fresh,
tasty, and packed with the good stuff. Not like some of those crappy oversized
loves with a paper thin sheet of meat or cheese. No, these were real sandwiches,
and I looked forward to them each evening.Frankfurter in Frankfurt... well, I've
always known them as "European weiners" (which I think is another name for the
French). I've always liked them, and this one was no different. Not too
exicting, but a nice change.Hamburger in Hamburg... OK, so it was MacDonalds. We
were in a hurry, OK?Polish sausage in Poland... pretty damn good, and cheap too.
So was everything, including this great sidewalk stand where you could get a
huge Belgian waffle (hmmmm... note to self: next time stop in at Belguim),
loaded with about 10 different kinds of fruit, fresh whipped cream and ice
cream, for about CAD $4. Brilliant, and delicious.Swiss chocolate in
Switzerland... well, tasted just like the same stuff in the office vending
machine. Not surprising I suppose, since the airline was handing them out for
"desert."Danish in Denmark... WOW! These are to die for. There's nothing rotten
in this part of Denmark. I just couldn't believe how good they were. I'll be
travelling to Denmark on a regular basis from now on (a la Mexican Hat Dance)
just to stop in for a Danish. More brilliant than Polish Belgian
waffles.Sweden... don't ask. (But I'm told that if you don't pay Swedish
gangsters protection money, they come around to your house and take your
furniture apart.)

Bump and update - LMAO means Laugh My Apples Off. Ok, not really apples, but this is a family blog.


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Update: The TSA Will Love This

Monday, October 02, 2006

What every traveller needs, a suspicious looking device. It doesn't actually do anything, just looks suspicious, has LED's and diodes and knobs. Very 60's Brit Sci-Fi.

How long before all FlyerTalk readers have one?

==== Bump and Update ====

Ok, I got a buncha emails about this. I am not advocating trying to take something like this through security. It just struck me that right after some self-righteous wanker scrawled some juvenile doodles on his ziplock bag (and the TSA and local police handled it badly) and got his 15 minutes of fame, it was interesting to see someone with some *style* think about the same result.

So if you buy or build something like this and Bertha Big Fingers gives you the whole monty search, don't complain to FTB!


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Attacked by a Little Old Lady

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why do people go crazy when they travel? A few months ago I was going to a meeting in San Francisco. I was on the train to the rental car after 9 hours of travel, standing in a crowd, with a suitcase and a backpack, fairly oblivious to what was going on around me.

There was a little old lady about three rows of people behind me and was evidently very concerned that she wouldn't be able to get off the train first. As the train is stopping I hear a commotion and, she's pushing her way past two passengers.

Then she JUMPS OVER MY SUITCASE to get to the then opening door. Not expecting an arial attack and slightly off balance from the backpack hanging on my shoulder, I couldn't get out of her way so she knocked me into the door as it was opening. This was enough to drag my left elbow into the space between the door and the car. There's not much space there, so the door gave me a good yank and then closed while I extracted my numbing limb.

I'm a pretty big guy, so she had to hit me pretty hard to knock me off balance. This wasn't a gentle nudge, it was a body check that would get you a roughing penalty for leaving your feet in the old NHL. She just kept going and didn't even offer an apology.

I got to spend the rest of the week with a sore arm and shoulder, and she got to be first in the rental car line. One would think that people leave their common sense, decency, and manners at home when they travel.


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The TSA Will Love This

What every traveller needs, a suspicious looking device.

How long before all FlyerTalk readers have one?


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