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2015 January | Roads-2-Roam.com


Monthly Archives: January 2015

It’s snow joke: the historic storm that wasn’t.

NOT the Weather forecast for NYC

So the historic winter storm that was to cover New York City in a few feet of snow, didn’t happen. While it blanketed New England further up North, the storm changed course only dusting NYC instead.

However, only in New York would people moan about missing such a weather event and they cast scorn on the weather forecasters who in turn, issued a public apology.


Niziol suspects he was not to blame: earlier in the weekend, he was on the Weather Channel predicting between 12 to 18 inches of snow for the city, half that of the NWS’s direst warnings. Meteorologists, including Niziol, generally make their predictions based on the same data and a half-dozen or so internationally shared computer models.

On Monday afternoon, not long before Cuomo announced the subway would close to riders for the first time ever because of a snowstorm, Niziol rolled his prediction back to between 8 and 12 inches: snowy, but not one for the ages.

The NWS, which has the gravitas of a federal agency and whose officials directly brief civic decision-makers, continued to stand firm on a prediction of three feet.

Events would show that Niziol’s revised estimate was close enough. Most of the city got no more than 8 inches, De Blasio said on Tuesday, although some areas of Queens got 10.

As with the NWS and other meteorologists interviewed on Tuesday, Niziol also pointed out that the far end of Long Island, east of New York City, and swathes of Massachusetts and other neighboring states were grappling with an actual blizzard, more or less as predicted.

“There is no pleasure in getting the forecast right over the guy at the next desk,” Niziol said, “because, you know what, next time I’ll get it wrong and that guy will get it right.”

Louis Uccellini, the NWS director, was by turns defensive and remorseful in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“What we learned from the storm is we all need to improve how we communicate forecast uncertainty,” he said, after citing a list of places besides New York City where the NWS accurately predicted a disruptive amount of snow.

He said he was still “tracing” who wrote the service’s “CRIPPLING” and “POTENTIALLY HISTORIC” advisory, whose language was widely echoed by civic leaders as they declared states of emergencies.

Individual NWS offices are responsible for what they publish, he said. The chief meteorologist at the NWS station in the Long Island town of Upton, which is responsible for New York City, did not respond to a request for comment.

The preferred meteorologists of Cuomo and de Blasio, who both continued to cite the scarier forecasts on Tuesday as they defended their transport shutdowns, could not immediately be determined.

Cuomo’s office said his officials rely on the regular briefing services that the NWS offers to city officials. De Blasio’s office did not respond to questions on the matter.

Let the blames begin.

Sicky Mouse : Disneyland measles update

January 27th, City of Roam and a follow up Galen’s post on the outbreak of measles centered around Disneyland. The updated number of people infected by the Disneyland Measles is at least 87 in 7 states plus Mexico.

Right wing talk radio is going nuts blaming it on the illegals coming into this country un-vaccinated. Left wing talk radio is going nuts blaming it on the anti-government home schoolers not getting vaccinated. At least they’ve found some common ground to be united on: Lack of Vaccinations.

From the LA Times:

The California patients range in age from 7 months to 70 years. The vaccination status is known for 42 of the patients. Of those, 34 were unvaccinated, three received partial vaccination and five were fully vaccinated.

Of the cases in California, about one in four have had to be hospitalized, officials said.

Across California, officials have been scrambling to get ahead of the outbreak, identifying farmers markets, grocery stores, malls and other public locations where contagious people have been.

Health officials are urging people suspected of having the measles to first call their health provider before going to a clinic, enabling caregivers to make special preparations so patients don’t risk infecting others in the waiting room. An urgent-care clinic in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa was forced to shut down for a few hours when five people arrived with a rash. Anyone without proof of vaccination who came in contact with the five at the clinic was put under a mandatory quarantine for 21 days.

For those wishing to read more about the effectiveness of Measles vaccines, the overall mathematics (aka ‘Heard Immunity’) of the Disneyland outbreak, I recommend a recent Wired.com article “Why Did Vaccinated People Get Measles at Disneyland? Blame the Unvaccinated”



Taking it on the Chin

When Harry met Jimmy.

When Harry met Jimmy.

Dahlings, Julius showed me an email he got from a company he uses called Harry’s Razors.  Harry’s are promoting a limited edition razor handle that is themed around outdoors life of climbing, shooting and camping. How butch.

The razors are named after a famous adventurer….Jimmy Chin.

Tee Hee. How appropriate.

Ciao for now,

Would you like Ice with that delay? Flying in the winter

The forecast for Winter Storm Juno Copyright Weather.com

Weather.com’s forecast for Storm Juno Weather.com

January 26: Last time I  looked 5740 flights were cancelled due to the ‘Historic’ winter storm Juno that is hitting the North East today. There are all sorts of advisories about not going out where three feet of snow are expected.

I am not sure if three feet of snow is really ‘historic’ or ‘histrionic’ but as usual with the press, they just love aweather story that fills up the column inches and provide some nice videos to demonstrate how bad winter is. The Daily Mail is in it’s element over this

So why is is historic? According to weather.com

“Historic” is not a precisely defined term, but generally meteorologists reserve it for weather events of exceptional strength or magnitude. A hallmark of such events is their ability to break all-time records. For instance, Winter Storm Nemo broke the all-time 24-hour snowfall record for the entire state of Connecticut when it dumped 36 inches of snow near Ansonia on Feb. 8-9, 2013.

That said, Northeast blizzards aren’t just snowfall amounts: They’re high winds, they’re storm surge, they’re epic traffic jams, they’re days-long power outages. Arguably a storm doesn’t have to break all-time records to have historic impacts if it brings a crippling combination of disruption and destruction.

This had us thinking about which airports are ones rated for worst for flying in winter. One measurement is the number of flights delayed. Note that for all Continental US airports analysed by Hooper, all were over 20%. For the mathematically challenged, at least 1 in 5 flights were delayed in over 20 airports.

So what happens if you are delayed? Time.com has 5 Strategies for Dealing With Your Flight Cancellation.

  1. Check in Early: This avoids you being bumped.
  2. Stay informed in real-time : be ahead of the crowd and not wait for airline to rebook you)
  3. Know your options: Understand the airlines policy with respect to weather cancellations as there are no federal requirements.
  4. Photograph your valuables: Just in case your luggage disappears and you need evidence in a claim. [good advice anyhow]
  5. Turn on your charm: In other words, don’t be an a-hole if things go wrong. You aren’t the only person put out.


PS: Juno is a Roman goddess. Daughter of Saturn, Wife of Jupiter and mom to Mars and Vulcan.

top 10 worst US airports during winter

ORD 42% delay
NWR 37% delay
DEN 37% delay
DFW 32% delay
TPA 32% delay
LGA 31% delay
MCO 31% delay
JFK 30% delay
LAS 30% delay
% delay

Orbitzuary : Orbitz is having a sale – itself !

The Booking Dead

Orbitz: The Walking Booking Dead

  • the curved path, usually elliptical, described by a planet, satellite,spaceship, etc., around a celestial body, as the sun.
  • the sphere of power or influence, as of a nation or person: a small nation in the Russian orbit.

verb (used with object)

  • to move or travel around in an orbital or elliptical path: The earth orbits the sun once every 365.25 days.

verb (used without object)

  • to go or travel in an orbit.

1.An  online travel agent, small player without the benefit of economies, up for sale by vulture venture capitalists looking for  gullible suckers, uhm “Someone from the outside looking for a a foothold in the industry”.

Bloomberg is reporting that Orbitz.com is up for sale. Maybe we have missed something, but we haven’t found a reason to ever use Orbitz.com. We’ve looked around their site before and didn’t see any differentiator over other travel booking sites.
What is more, Orbitz is the weasel company who joined a law suit with United vs skiplagged.com of which Roads-2-Roam donated to Skiplagged’s legal fund.
As you can imagine, we are not fans of Orbitz.com.
1/20/15 : update on skiplagged.com legal fund: it has now raised $70.5k. Target was $60k

Running on empty: Delta cut down on air rage by flying with 2 passengers

An Empty flight as viewed from the back  row

An Empty flight as viewed from the back row

Dahlings, It seems that Delta is trying a new way of improving it’s in flight satisfaction at least with respect to interactions with other passengers.

Their idea may take a bit longer to get there but is guaranteed to be one with no air rage from fellow passengers.

What is it you ask? Are they going to drug the passengers?

Oh don’t be silly. Delta are too conservative to do this but I would bet it would be something Michael O’Leary of Ryannair would look at to make a buck or two. (Btw, Mick. If you are reading this. Love you. Mwahh!)

No, their model is of course NOT to drug up their passengers but to delay the flight for 11 hours, get most passengers on other flights and then your are left with two or less straggler passengers.

Don’t believe me read this Daily Mail report. Maybe Chris O’Leary, one of the two passengers mentioned, is fact a relative of Mick. A scout for Rynnair perhaps?

As my dearly departed friend Andy Warhol once said during his fifteen minutes of fame, “But I always say, one’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party”.

What a visionary. He could have worked for Delta in their marketing group.

Ciao for Now.

Fire in the Hole : Truck blaze shuts down Channel Tunnel, stops Eurostar train service

[BBC news 1/17/15] A truck fire  (aka Lorry in Brit speak) on Eurostar train shut down the Euro tunnel. An evacuation occurred and the good news was that nobody was hurt.

The bad news was this caused bedlam at St. Pancreas station with the cancellation of the Eurostar train service between London and Paris. Reports were over 12,000 travelers were impacted and there was 3 hour waits for refunds.

This is not the first time Eurostar has had to cancel services. In Christmas 2009, Eurostar shut down for 4 days due to snow short circuiting their train engines resulting in it breaking down in the tunnel. 2,400 passengers were stuck in the tunnel for up to 16 hours. However, this time Eurostar have nothing to do with the problem.

This incident has made me realize that I’ve roamed many times across the English Channel, I have taken the ferry or hovercraft from Dover. There is more adventure in getting on a ship and going up on deck and watching the cliffs of Dover disappear out of the view and seeing Calais appear on the other side. It is of course slower and the main drawback is the weather. I’ve been one trip that was extremely stormy where people were getting thrown around in the ship and many people were being visibly seasick. It was so bad that the ship had closed all it’s stores and restaurants and it was unclear if we could even dock at Dover.

Other ways of getting to Paris include flying – there are plenty of cheap flight options for the many London airports- but the quickest (when it runs) , is the train. You can get from St.Pancreas to Paris’ Gare Du Nord in 2h 16 minutes. That’s incredible.  I’m tired of the London airport hassles as it will take you that long to travel to airport, check in and wait for your flight. You will then have the issue of getting from Charles De Gaul or Orly into Paris itself.  Eurostar also offer connection to Brussels and Amsterdam. Next time I am looking for roaming ideas, I will seriously look at the Eurostar. I will just have to avoid getting into a train rage incident over their teabags.

Similarly, for those budget conscious- Megabus goes from London Victoria station – but that will take 9 hours total. When I was a student, that would be tolerable. Now that my time is a premium, not necessarily so.

Farewell Possum’s : Dame Edna final tour

Dame Edna quotesEvery now and again, there comes a must see event that you’ve always wanted to do but you can put off no longer.

I am a big fan of Dame Edna and with Barry Humphries not getting any younger – he is 80 – this is the farewell tour. Assuming Barry doesn’t pop his clogs by then, I really want to see this.

Since the tour is coming nowhere near my part of the US, I must travel.

Here are my choices:

Los Angeles – Ahmanson Theatre 24 January – 15 March
San Francisco – Orpheum Theatre 17 – 22 March
Palm Desert – McCallum Theatre 30 March – 4 April
Toronto – Royal Alexandra Theatre 9 – 19 April
Washington DC – National Theatre 21 – 26 April

I think Mrs Caesar and I are going to be taking a mini-break around this.

Washington in springtime sounds great but we will miss the Cherry Blossom festival which is on April 11.

Decisions. Decisions.

Wherever I go, let’s make sure I pack some Gladiolus instead of my Gladius. Homeland security will not be impressed with such misunderstandings.


Franc’enstein: Swiss currency jumps 17% after central bank stops pegging to Euro

Reaction to the Swiss currency exchange rate

The Reaction to the Swiss currency exchange rate

For those of you traveling to Switzerland, you just woke up and found your money will buy you 17% less. In an announcement that completely surprised the financial markets and business community, the Swiss National Bank announced a “decision to abandon the franc’s cap against the euro, two days after an official reaffirmed it would remain a pillar of policy”. [Good to see that a banker’s word is his bond unless it is a few days later]

The franc appreciated 17 percent to 1.02569 per euro at 8:37 a.m. New York time after earlier jumping 41 percent to 85.17 centimes, the strongest since the euro’s 1999 debut. The Swiss currency gained 16 percent to 87.66 centimes per dollar, after touching 74.06 centimes, the strongest since August 2011.

This is an incredible move in an exchange rate where a 1% move in daily exchange rate is regarded as a big move.

The Euro was also impacted by this news where it dropped a further 1.8% on the news where it is ~1.16. Some financial pundits are predicting Euro will be parity with the dollar in 2015.

We say 2015 will be a good time for Americans to visit Europe. If you don’t mind the odd riot or two.

Travel spots : Dangers of Measles

On Jan 9th, it was 19. Jan 12th, it is 26.

I refer to the recent measles outbreak that has been linked to visiting Disneyland during Dec 15 to 20th.

The first six cases showed a correlation to not being vaccinated: 3 were children old enough to have a vaccine but did not, the other 3 were adults with 1 was not being vaccinated, another partially vaccinated and the other was just unlucky.

More infections are expected as measles in so easily transmitted: “Ninety percent of people without immunity who are exposed to the disease will catch it – even if they visit a room two hours after the infected person has left”. [Forbes]

The safest protection is the vaccine.

Back in 2000, Measles was officially eradicated in the US. Now with the hysteria of Vaccines being linked to autism, more parents are not  getting it for their kids. This has led to a re-occurrence of this preventable illness in the US -see the graph – as there is now more opportunities to catch it. To stop measles outbreaks, more than 95 percent of people need to be fully immunized.

The problem with measles is not the spots. It is the other complications. From the CDC website on measles:-

Common Complications of Measles.

Common measles complications include ear infections and diarrhea.

  • Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss.
  • Diarrhea is reported in less than one out of 10 people with measles.

Severe Complications

Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die.

  • As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

Long-term Complications

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a very rare, but fatal disease of the central nervous system that results from a measles virus infection acquired earlier in life. SSPE generally develops 7 to 10 years after a person has measles, even though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness. Since measles was eliminated in 2000, SSPE is rarely reported in the United States.

Among people who contracted measles during the resurgence in the United States in 1989 to 1991, 4 to 11 out of every 100,000 were estimated to be at risk for developing SSPE. The risk of developing SSPE may be higher for a person who gets measles before they are two years of age.

Tara Haelle in her blog on Forbes raises some good points about Measles and tourist magnets like Disneyland. The first is the amount of young children below 12 months who may go to places like Disneyland but are too young to have their first vaccine. The second is that the resorts attract a large number of children with weakened immunity systems. Disney grants 7,000 wishes to 14,000 applications.

California also seems to a hotbed of parents not getting their kids vaccinated so this may be a factor here.

This is not just a US phenomenon. In 2014, the Philippines experienced a large measles outbreak. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines. The UK back in 2013, saw similar upticks due to parents not getting vaccines.

The measles uptick is the past few years is something to note and take action on.

Parents get a Vaccine for your kids. Adults get a booster.

If you have kids younger that are 12 months or younger, do NOT take them to any of the incubation places which attract hordes of kids or exposes them on international travel. Wait until they are older and are vaccinated.