Tag Archives: travel

TSA defends cupcake confiscation – CNN.com

It’s the “Red Velvet” jar that got them into trouble a week later. When they tried to clear security at the Las Vegas airport, the jar got seized for violating the 3-1-1 rule. “This wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake,” wrote TSA blogger Robert Burns. “Unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.”

via TSA defends cupcake confiscation – CNN.com.


Okay, so it’s the amount of frosting on the cupcake that matters. SO what would be the difference between one cupcake with a lot of frosting, and say, 12 cupcakes with 1/12 of the frosting each?

What if five people brought five individual cupcakes onto the plane? Could the five of those combined not have enough explosive frosting to blow up the plane?

The liquids rule never has and never will make any sense. Any five-year old can figure that out. 

TSA defends cupcake confiscation from Mass. woman

The TSA says travelers can bring cakes, pies and cupcakes through the security checkpoint, but should expect that they might get some additional screening.

via TSA defends cupcake confiscation from Mass. woman – Boston.com.


This would be funny if it weren’t so tragically stupid. The fact that most people will read this article and think “Yeah, I guess whatever makes us safer,” is proof that we don’t deserve to continue much longer as a species. 

Airline passengers asked for extra cash for fuel

Hundreds of passengers traveling from India to Britain were stranded when their Comtel airline flight stopped for fuel in Austria over the weekend. The charter service asked them to kick in more than 20,000 pounds ($31,000) to fund the rest of the flight to Birmingham, England.

via Airline passengers asked for extra cash for fuel.

This is obviously an exception, not the general rule. It was a chartered flight, not a typical commercial airline. But it is the extreme example of a growing problem with commerce in general these days.

The whole notion that price trumps everything needs to go away. It’s our own fault. When Wal-Mart came to town, we were all far too willing to give up customer service, sustainability, and an all around good shopping experience to save 50 cents. As a result, companies learned the lesson that being cheapest was the be-all-and-end-all of success. Literally nothing else mattered to people.

And we’ve been suffering for it ever since.

Once they dropped prices as far as humanly possible by laying off workers, cutting corners on benefits, and shipping products in from China, companies had little choice but to start giving the “appearance” of cost savings, by hiding fees and extra charges behind every corner of the experience.

And it’s no different in the airline industry. Do a flight search on Kayak, or wherever, and you get quoted a price on the first page, but by the time you’ve checked out it’s a different story. So price comparison becomes a major hassle, as you need to get all the way to the last “buy” button page before you know how much something is actually going to cost. And even that is far from guaranteed, as they’ll probably tack on some more fees down the line. So much for convenience.

What we need is a simple rule: tell me how much it’s going to cost. Period. All-inclusive. If you can’t afford to offer cheap prices, then don’t. Put the cost of bags, food, and yes, gas, into the cost of your ticket. We may all have a heart attack the first time we see your adjusted prices, but at least we won’t hate you for trying to trick us.

And customers, in the meantime. Stop always trying to nickel and dime yourself on everything you buy. I know times are tough, but what you’re saving in dollars you’re paying for far too dearly in quality of life. And so are your neighbors.

End of 2010 Road Trip: Day 5

A few surprises for what became the final day of this little trip to Portland. At a rest stop on the way south from Eugene, I checked the road conditions one last time, and realized that the I-5 was clear of any snow hazards. So we were able to visit Ashland and head down the middle of the state, after all.

Ashland is famous for its Shakespeare Festival, of course. Since we were there off season, I didn’t expect it to be tremendously lively. But we did manage to find a nice spot to grab a quick lunch, and to walk along Main Street a bit. 

Even had some ice cream, despite the 38-degree weather. 


After Ashland, it was the beautiful pass over the Siskiyou Summit, which was covered in fresh snow. Once we got into California, our next quick stop was at Mount Shasta City. We considered staying here for the night, but then thought maybe it would be better to push on to Redding, since it was still early.


Once we got to Redding and started looking into hotels, another new option came to light. Why not just go home? Considering that Lassen Park was closed for the season, there didn’t seem to be much chance that we’d do anything except sleep in Redding, wake up the next morning, grab breakfast, and then start driving again. So why not just push on all the way to San Francisco? My car’s SatNav suggested we’d be home before ten.

So that’s what we did. Ended the trip a day early with no regrets. Got to see both the coast and the beautiful mountains along I-5. Drove 1,401.4 miles in five days. Not a bad way to end the year. 



End of 2010 Road Trip: Days Three and Four

Left Portland today to get a slight jump on our big journey back to San Francisco. Having only spent two days in the city, I can nevertheless say that we got a clear feel for the place, and the reaction was very much positive.

Not a bad meal the whole time we were there. Managed to stumble upon a coffee tasting, in which the proprietor offered an amazing amount of knowledge about the process of selecting as well as trading and auctioning coffee worldwide. Got to see a film at the Living Room theatre, which is a nice place to have a drink, some light dinner, and some indie film.

Powell’s book store, of course, is a must see. Absolutely overwhelming in its size. The rain let up for a bit this afternoon, too, which was a nice break.

Would I recommend Portland for a weekend trip? Sure. Not sure there’s enough to make me want to live there, though.

Right now, we’ve stopped for the night in an amazing little bed and breakfast in Eugene. Cuts our road time tomorrow down by about two hours or so, and gives us a very quiet and dark place to rest.

Unfortunately, as I feared, it looks like the mountain pass along the 5 is going to be too snowy the rest of the week, so no Ashland, Crater Lake, Shasta, or Lassen for us this trip. We’ll have to do all that in the spring or summer.

So it’s back to the coast tomorrow through Crescent City, Eureka, etc. Still debating whether or not to stay in Healdsburg New Year’s Eve.

Connectivity hasn’t been too much of a problem on this trip. Lots of free WiFi in Oregon. And decent 3G AT&T signal in the cities, at least. And the iPad/iPhone haven’t left me wishing I had a laptop at all. Though I’m going out of my way to avoid doing any serious work on this trip.

End of 2010 Road Trip: Day One

Driving up the coast to Portland on a much needed winter vacation. Made it as far as Crescent City, CA tonight. (Highly recommend Cazadores for dinner, by the way—great flautas.) Two points of interest I wanted to share from today. First, the Avenue of the Giants. Forget Muir Woods. This is where the real trees are. I’d been up this road before, but this time we spent much more time exploring. Second, a tiny city called Trinidad, just north of Eureka. One of the best views of the California coast I’ve ever seen. And by tomorrow, I’ll be able to say I’ve seen them all. More updates along the road as the week progresses. Can’t wait to dig into the Oregon coast tomorrow. My reference iPhone photos here don’t do these places justice. Will have to post some shots from my Nikon later when I get home.

A final nature stop

Last nature stop of the trip was just north of Valencia, in the Angeles forest. Pyramid Lake was officially closed on Christmas, but we snuck down past the gates for a look.


Chinese food on Christmas Eve

The timing of our little trip left us in a hotel in Valencia, CA on Christmas Eve. As such, we were left with few Christmas Eve dinner options. Remembering the song, I suggested we go out for Chinese. Thanks to excellent 3G coverage and Yelp, we found Grand Panda in Santa Clarita. 


Sorry for the blurry iPhone pic. Low light conditions. 

This place was PACKED on Christmas Eve. And, we later learned, Christmas Day is actually an even busier day for them, typically. 

The food was, in a word, excellent. Who would have thought that a little town like Santa Clarita would have better Chinese food than anything I’ve had in San Francisco? 

Mojave National Preserve

The Mojave National Preserve is an amazing place. We only had time to explore a small part of the park (Hole in the Wall) but just that little portion was fantastic. I highly recommend this park to anyone who is in Southern California. It’s only a few hours from Los Angeles. From highway 40, it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, once you get inside the park, you immediately understand why it was protected.

When you’re traveling 1,400 miles, it’s easy to speed past gems like this one. I’m glad we didn’t this time.

Roberto’s in Needles

I wish I had a picture of this place, but I didn’t think to snap one. Best chicken burrito I’ve had in ages. Who would have thought? 

Only 1 review on Yelp so far. Might have to add another one of my own. 

Needles, California is just over the border from Arizona. It’s a strange place that actually made us all feel a little uncomfortable. Google informs me that Sam Kinison died just a few miles from there, in a car wreck in 1992.