Water, Water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

Hurricane Harvey hits Roam

Hurricane Harvey put a literal damper on our travel plans for September. The Labor weekend bizcation to the Bay Area was cancelled as we couldn’t get out even if we wanted to. Hobby airport was closed.

The flights were automatically refunded by Southwest and hotels were well within the cancellation window. The one item that left us about $500 out of pocket was for one family trip around San Francisco that Mrs C had booked with her debit card. Even though we had notified them of our situation they said they were non-refundable in any circumstance but they would talk to the manager. We did not get a return call after this and since we had other things to worry about, we kind of forgot about it. Probably if we had used the appropriate credit card, it could have invoked travel insurance.

The flood also totaled both of our cars. I had seen the streets outside our houses start to flood so I moved them to higher ground but ‘higher’ was only relatively higher. My insurance company Progressive, took at least two weeks to get back for me after I filed a claim. One friend who had USAA got his check in 3 days. While I appreciate Progressive were busy they could at least have sent a periodic email that I was in the queue and not forgotten. People in customer service could not give any insight into when the inspector would come. In the end, they didn’t. I just had to submit photographic evidence with the Progressive App so not sure why they couldn’t tell me that earlier.

Getting a car rental was interesting. When I first checked for any rental cars, there was none available in the area. I thought it strange that AVIS were not showing up and when I checked, it didn’t show the local depot as being open on any day. I tried again a few days later and wow, not only was it open but it had a selection of cars. I went for simple regular car and put in a noon pick up time.  When I got the store, it had lines going out the door. I was dismayed to find out that it was a 2 hour queue just to get the paperwork counter and then 1 hour wait to retrieve the car. Avis Preferred counted for nothing as they had manual sign in system. When I eventually get called the front, I hand over my licence and credit card and hear the rep saying my class of car is not available. Since I’d also heard them tell someone over the phone that they were all out of cars, I piped up with “Give me anything with four wheels” as I just needed transport. This flexibility and the fact that I had been friendly to them earlier during the sign off, got me a serious upgrade. “Would a RAM 1500 be ok?”

A pick up truck was the best thing they could have said since the area was still flooded ! Not only that but it was ready outside the office so I avoided another line. Moral of this is to be yourself (unless you are naturally a dick) and be flexible in situations like this. Having a hissy fit about a wait that is clearly beyond the control of the local staff or bitching about their particular car type that they normally get, was not helping people. I had the truck for a month and was pleased to find out I was only billed the rate of a cheaper model even after I had extended the time of return twice. I got it for about 1/3rd of the price of if I had explicitly booked that vehicle class.

One thing I didn’t check was the CDW insurance. Amex covers it when I book with my card however, it excludes certain types of cars – full size SUVs, trucks and luxury cars. I wonder if it would have been covered since I did not request that type of car and AVIS gave me that truck. Anyhow, I was pleased to find out I never needed to find out that answer.

What else? The car buying experience but that is for a future post.

The Summer of our discount tent

This about sums up our summer

This summer ended up being as Caligula would put it, ‘a complete horrible anus’. It stated going south in June when Mrs Caesar had jewelry and her laptop pilfered after Delta forced her to check it in her hand luggage at the gate at Milwaukee airport. Mrs C was travelling First Class with her dog (which she had paid quite a bit extra for) and had done the MKE to IAH route with the pampered pooch many times. This time however, the gate agent insisted that the dog in its carry bag counted as one piece of hand luggage and with her purse, she had used up her allowance. Even though the dog obviously wasn’t going to go in the overhead, it still didn’t matter. Her backpack needed to be checked in despite vigorous protestations about it containing valuables. “Don’t worry. It will be safe” the agent said.

But it wasn’t. The flight was a connecting flight and with weather delays, the luggage sat for a very long time in Atlanta. At the IAH carousel, it was obvious all  her luggage including those checked, had be disturbed. While lost luggage clerk was somewhat sympathic with a now visibly upset Mrs Caesar, the later Delta customer service agents that she delta with were far from it. After many hours dealing with Delta’s online reporting system which would go down mid-entry, the claim as I expected, was denied. “We do not cover jewelry or electronics” in checked luggage even if we forced you to check then in.  But still Mrs C flies with them despite my advice to ‘F’em: fly Southwest’. For this,  I will give Delta a “Feed them to the Lions” classification due to their lack of concern about baggage theft in their operation in their main hub of Atlanta airport. They don’t care. I very much doubt it was MKE or IAH end as there bags were mainly on the plane.

The other big event of the summer, impacted all of Southwest Texas : Hurricane Harvey. In late July we moved house. In late August, we were flooded with  18 inches of water and lost both cars. We are temporarily displaced and staying in Mrs Caesar’s sister’s villa. The Palace is being repaired but Roam lost our main computers which held my software, passwords and information. Our backup drive also got flooded.

Some things in life are bad, they can really make you sad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best…and..

Augustus.

End of the road for Travis

It was a sad to hear about Travis Kalanick’s mom passing away in an accident but we thought Uber’s statement was that he was taking a leave of absence a cop out. We nevertheless gave an Emperor thumbs up when they later upgraded that to a full firing along with a few others of his cronies.

We thought Travis was a prize dickhead and wrong person to lead a company.

However, we’ve wondered if his firing was not because because of social justice pressure with him being a dick, but was it the fact that Uber was loosing a ton of money and the Venture capitalists wanting some fiscal discipline. Uber is loosing a ton of money.

However, the gossip about getting Melissa Meyer in from Yahoo is in our opinion, a mistake. Just because someone had lucked up in riding the coat tails of success with google, doesn’t mean it means you are any good as a leader. Sometimes people are just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

On the other hand, an ex-google person may help to de-escalate the lawsuits on Uber for stealing Google IP on driverless cars. [see Waymo scandal]. We don’t think Travis is crying too much either as he has a lot of controlling stock and maybe his replacement can actually take it to a successful IPO now.

Btw, we also noticed that you can finally tip inside the Uber app. This was a ridiculous shortcoming and a source of discontentment from the riders and passengers alike.

 

Roachella Festival: Plenty of Smoke with no Fyre

Dahlings, the Fyre Festival is  the perfect example of why you should NOT believe everything you read over the internet.

In an attempt to capitalize on Coachella, Fyre billed itself as “The best in Food, Art, Music and Adventure” where it positioned itself as a Luxury Music festival is a Bahamas for the young, beautiful and rich. It was promoted by the likes of Nobel prize winner Bella Hadid, Poet Laurette Emily Ratajkowski, Rocket Scientist Alessandra Ambrosio, Inventor of the cold Fusion Hailey Baldwin and last but not least, Mother Terressa II, Joan Smalls. Oh wait, I got that wrong. They are not role models but the more mundane type of model so prized by modern society.

With VIP treatment running into the $10K’s, Fyre Festival turned out to be an outright VIP disaster! The whole event looks like one big scam with nothing and I mean nothing, going to plan. In the end it was cancelled leaving some folks stranded at the airport in Miami and perhaps, they were the lucky ones.

Let’s say you had spent $13,000 for a package that apparently included flights, ocean views and gourmet food what did you get? Continue reading..

Holy Week: Let’s cross that off my list

#maleldo2016 #cutud #lenten2016 #iskonggala #lakwatsero #crucifixionph

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Dahlings, This week is Holy week (Easter to the rest of the Christian world) to my Philippine friends which is THE biggest holiday in their calendar. It is so big, some of them turn up their piety to a eleven or even a twelve. A few even volunteer to be crucified with some doing it every year becoming minor celebrities.

Some years back, the Philippines Government sorta said ‘Crucifixation is bad ok. We don’t want you to be crucifying yourself but if you do, at least get a tetanus shot for health reasons’.

This year, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has come out a bit stronger and said in a television interview “..the best way to observe Holy Week is by doing charitable works like helping the poor and visiting the sick in hospital.” Continue reading..

Things that go bump in the night

United’s new hand carry policy – Hand carrying paying passengers off the plane.

Normally we give a “Feed them to the Lions” verdict after we have carefully weighed up the evidence of a situation brought to our attention but in this case, we are declaring it upfront with United and their involuntary bumping policy or as they call it, “involuntary boarding denial”.

Involuntary boarding’, my imperial arse.

This Sunday evening a Doctor was dragged off a Louisville plane after not enough passengers had volunteered to accept their offer of a few hundred dollars, hotel and guaranteed flight the next day. (3 pm ! – what use is that if you work). The Doctor was selected to be involuntary boarded by United and after he refused, security was called in to remove him. Someone took a video of the bloodied Doctor and it has gone around the interwebs. The Doctor apparently needed to be in Louisville to attend patients.

United are saying the flight was was oversold.  The devil in the detail is that the seats were needed for their employees to make a “downline connection” as they call it which really means, flight crew for the day after.  Oversold my arse. Continue reading..

Mind the Gap

Car dealers eh? Wikipedia commons licence

With 127k miles on the clock, my 2010 runabout was courting some major repairs. I’ve been topping up the AC more frequently now as there is a slow leak happening and with summer rapidly coming up, I needed to do something about it.  Besides, the poor old thing is looking a bit battered having survived a deer hit, a wild pig hit and a few other scrapes.  Being a realist, I decided it was time for a new car.

The problem with buying a car is that I detest the car dealers and their sales gimmicks.

To prepare myself, I wanted to go in knowing roughly what I wanted, what I was prepared to pay and how I was going to pay for it. I researched different options online, I read reviews, I checked out what prices were going at in different sales channels and looked at what inventory was out there. I’d even pre-arranged an auto loan with my credit union where I surprised to find no difference in rates given for new vs used (They used to be slightly better for new.) Continue reading..

Expedia : Keeping it in the family

Oi ! Wot the bloody’ell is all the fuss about with Chelsea Clinton being appointed to a Board Director at Expedia with a $300K salary eh? To be honest, I am tickled in my bits with an ostrich feather as I see the Ancient ways in use today.

If you ask me, it is social progress to see someone high born with no talent, experience or ability, get an appointment way above their station based on the influence of their parents. That is the way it should be and the natural reaction against this experiment known as meritocracy. Just like we used to do with filling the military with sons of Senators in making them Tribunes.

I am also impressed with Expedia in attempting to blatantly grease their influence just in case a certain person gets the purple ! But is there something else that Expedia may want to hire a Clinton?

Of course, how could I forget. Silly me. The family has some expertise in travel management and cost cutting where once Bill came into being 42, the White House travel staff got fired and replaced with “World Wide Travel”, from Little Rock, Arkansas. Oh that was smooth !

But before I forget. Chelsea old fruit, I may be almost 2000 years but even I know it is the wrong direction coming from a “$600k” & ‘journalist’ job with NBC. “Director” sound good but as for the $300k salary, you need to get a better agent.

Cali.

 

Uber Travis goes ballistic shouting is atrocious

Dahlings, somewhat bored with writing about high flying chief executives getting in air rage incidents, I have decided to write about something else.

My next topic is something completely different : it is one about a high flying chief executive in a road rage incident!

The attached video is the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, having an argument with one of his drivers who accused him of ‘ruining his life’ over Uber’s ever changing fare policy. In terms of ‘rage’ (Believe me I’ve seen worse in my previous gig) it was extremely tame but once Bloomberg gets hold of the video taking by the driver, it went viral.

After the bad headlines go around, Travis being the brave man that he is, defended his actions and stood by his words.

Oh wait, I’ve just been informed by my fellow emperor, Julius C, that I made a mistake in the last sentence. What I should have said is the OPPOSITE as a few hours after the video being posted on Bloomberg, Travis issued a trite email [source : npr]

My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away..It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up.

What a complete and utter wuss ! Continue reading..

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