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Augustus | Roads-2-Roam.com

Author Archives: Augustus

Egypt Air MS804 and the tourism crash


Back in the days when ISIS was cool

We’ve been following the terrible news of flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo that went into the sea with 66 lives lost. Our thoughts go out to the families.

The obvious thought is that it is terrorist related.

It appears there was a fire in the toilets and area underneath the cockpit based on telemetry transmissions. Some news sources are also saying that the pilot spoke to Egyptian air traffic control after the said fire happened.

The Greek Government is saying that the plane turned 90 degrees then spun around 360 degrees. Today, the Egyptian Government is counter claiming that the pilot talking to traffic control and the spin didn’t happen.

Some off the wall tabloid stories are even saying UFO’s were sighted an hour before the crash.

It is likely that we will not get the real story soon especially will take some time to retrieve the black box and there are politics involved in controlling the story.

Nevertheless, what we do know is that this is another catastrophe for the Egyptian tourist industry especially at the Sharm-El-Sheikh resorts where rooms at Radisson Blu Resort are going for less than 20 UK pounds per night. The area already impacted the Russian aircraft bombing and then cutting off of flights from UK.

We guess this is what the fundamentalists want – They need to destroy  the village to save the village – and our thoughts go out to all those in Middle East whose livelihoods depended on tourism.  In Cairo, the tourism had already been hit after the Coup D’Etat against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, we don’t see this sorry story ending anytime soon. Either in the Middle Eastern tourism industry or in the terrorist attempts by ISIS or their affiliates.

Cravings for Spargelzeit

An Asparagus Queen : Source BBC news

It’s spring time and I am craving Asparagus.

This time of year has me thinking about “Spargel zeit” in Germany where in many restaurants in Germany from Mid-April to June, you will see special items on the menu celebrating fresh Asparagus. Note that the Germans prefer white asparagus over the green asparagus that Americans eat.

I remember visiting Augsburg and finding a restuarant that had dedicated “Spargel Fest” menu of nothing but Asparagus items. Multiple soups, appetizers and main courses. I had Spargel mit schinken accompanied with a good Hefeweizen.

If you are in Munich, check out the viktualienmarkt to see some traditional food grocers – see the picture. Just look how fresh it looks.

Buying fresh asparagus at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt.

Still hungry for more, here is a discussion by an Austrialan lady on Spargel Fest. It contains a good recipe for Asparagus soup or Spargelcremesuppe as it is known over there.

To add our 2 Eurocents on best way to cook ’em : The best way is to blanche it but shave them with a European vegetable peeler first.

I name this ship…Boaty Mc..Wait a minute

I am sure you will all be heartbroken to hear that UK Government has scotched the popular vote to name the polar research ship “Boaty McBoatface” : The ship will now be named “RSS Sir David Attenborough”.

Serves you right plebians for even thinking that your opinion counts for anything.

We at Roam very much like David Attenborough and if you are unfamiliar with who he is, here is a clip. We have enjoyed his many natural history programs over the years. Congratulations David or should I say Davy McDaveface.

See our previous posts: Giving the people what they want !  and McBoatface wins the boat race

Happy Sinkhole de Mayo !

Party ? I Mayo Maynot attendNew Orleans : On April 29th a large sink hole appeared on Canal Street near a tunnel running underneath Hurrah’s Casino. For those not familiar with the place, Canal street is one of the City’s busiest streets. Not good if you ask me.

The location of the collapse was a few feet from where Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his infrastructure team had been a few hours previously. From Nola.com:

“This is nothing short of incredible,” Landrieu said. “Unfortunately, it’s not a surprise,” given the city’s creaking infrastructure and unstable soil, he said. “Still, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The cost to repair is estimated at $3 and will take 6 months.

A day before the Canal Street incident, there was there was a sink hole at Constantinople Street (Why isn’t it Istanbul street you may ask?).

To complete the Fleur de merde, on 4th of May there was a recent one at Taft Place.

However, that is not why I am posting – After all, sink holes around the US are pretty routine news unless that is it manages to envelope the Mayor and it’s infrastructure team with them – but since New Orleans is a party town, what better way to face up with the City falling apart than to have a party : Sinkhole  de Mayo” – see their facebook page. If  number of accepting is correct, 1600 people will attend.

The original intent to have it near the Canal Street hole has been scotched due to safety reasons. It will be held at Woldenberg Riverfront Park, in front of the Aquarium of the Americas.

Enjoy !

Postscript: This is not the only time that Sink Hole has been turned around to be a tourist attraction – see “The money Pit” and the National Corvette Museum.

Crying over spilt milk

What 1 Gallon of frozen breast milk looks like. Copyright Jessica Thomas

A story lighting up the internet is of a US mother-of-two has vented on Facebook that she was forced to dump 500oz (14.8 litres) of breast milk at security at London’s Heathrow Airport.

In a long facebook post, Jessica Coakley Martinez posted an ‘open letter to to Aviation Security in Terminal 5’ where said she felt “humiliated”. “You made me dump out nearly two weeks worth of food for my son,” she said.

Some key parts of the story : Her 8 month old baby was not with her; She had a mix of liquid and frozen milk – 2/3rd being frozen; After being told it would be confiscated and then said she wanted to check it in instead, the security said that she could not as she had now passed the border (ie/ it was after passport control). She had not checked rules and regulations ahead of time.

To put this in context, 14.8 litres is almost 4 gallons. That alone will be 32 pounds not counting any cooling aids or insulating container.

This is one mom’s tale , Jessica Thomas of flying with 1 gallon frozen milk in the US where she flew with Southwest. Both Southwest and TSA were sympathetic in handling this but look at how she travelled with 1 gallon cooler. Look how big it this cooler is and this is just for 1 Gallon. Jessica provides some help full information in how to pack insulation and gives some guidance about dry ice. It gets complicated in that dry ice needs to be vented and sealing it could problems..

So what are the rules? From the IAH website you see liquids are limited to >=100ml. There is exceptions for exceeding the 100ml limit for baby milk but the mother must be traveling with an infant.

LHR : The 100ml rule exceptions for breast milk IF the baby is present.

LHR : The 100ml rule exceptions for breast milk IF the baby is present.

Going above this, they recommend checking it into hold luggage. Now as for Terminal 5 and additional controls, it is somewhat hidden on their website but it does point out that in T5 North has additional restrictions that other terminals do not have namely the inability to return to check in as your have now passed immigration. They strictly separate incoming passengers from outgoing passengers and even if Ms Martinez wanted to come back, she’d have to come back in through immigration. Good luck explaining this on your immigration form : purpose of visiting Britain – check in breast milk. How long will you be staying – 2 hours? Place where you’ll be staying – T5. Yeh, pull the other one.

For Terminal 5, you're screwed once you've passed immigation

Note that it says that you can use MailandFly but I very much doubt this would have been applicable here. Firstly, the milk would not keep. Secondly, why would a shipment company handle this : It is a potential bio-hazard if it goes off or leaks during transit.  Third, how would customs have treated this?

Seeking input from an experienced Mom I asked my youngest daughter, Noela, who has 2 toddlers – a 3 year old and a 2 year old where she breast fed both and would often fill up our refrigerator when visiting.

I asked her about this story specifically pumping and freezing it. She said she would freeze it in regular freezer but when I asked her about transporting it, she said she’d do it with dry ice. She then said it would only be good for about 6 hours.

I then asked about transporting 4 gallons on a plane. She burst out laughing and said that is a LOT of milk to be transporting and if traveling transatlantic, would likely go off. I then mentioned that the mom was from California to which she then rolled her eyes.

Noela lived in California and particated in mom groups. She described some as being militant breast feeders and obsessive about their kids. She then added that she didn’t see what the fuss was about. She could simply breast feed the traditional way or heaven forbid, give the kid formula milk.

So in this case, our sympathies do not lie with Ms Martinez. What she was doing -14 litres of milk- was highly irregular especially since you did not have your kid with you. She should have done her homework.

That being said, I’ve had my runs ins with Heathrow security before. Once was when I had my SLR Camera over my neck as there was no room in my backpack and I had a carry on bag of other items. They said 1 carry on so I simply opened my backpack put SLR on top but didn’t close it. After Security, I then removed my SLR and put it back over my neck.

Another was when one of my shoes fell out during the xray screening. The ‘not my job mate’ screeners would not look for it until I found a supervisor.

T5 is also one with occasional problems with the luggage.

However, T5 is an exclusive BA terminal but the bigger issue here is that British Airways has a stupid policy of  charging you to select a seat ahead of time, may make you want to think twice about flying from here. You may getter better deals with the other US airlines. For example, United seems to be cheaper at the moment but this may change in time.

Water water everywhere

StormyMcStromface in Houston

Stormy McStromface in Greater Houston: Roads-2-Roam

Today greater Houston got drenched with up to 16 inches of rain and we have more to come in the next few days. Roads were submerged causing city wide chaos and many bayous breached their banks.  Many cars were lost in the water and unfortunately some people drowned. Houston Metro shut down – no buses,  no trains.

I was due to fly out to Dallas this morning and since the continuous thunder storms had kept me awake every other hour, I was easily awake before my alarm so I listened to radio to got a feeling of what awaited me: Floods, floods and more floods.

A text from Southwest told me my flight was delayed until 10:55 which may just still get me to my intended afternoon meeting – Dallas Love Field is great for getting in and out of the airport. DFW forget it !

As I listened to more radio news, daylight revealed a cop car with it’s lights on my main road out of my place. Since I noticed no traffic whatsoever on an otherwise busy road, it indicated my road was flooded. Killing two birds, I took the dogs out and verified it. Yep, Flooded with even a few stalled out cars.

I told my boss I couldn’t come and went online to cancel my ticket only to see my flight already cancelled. I requested the refund and made breakfast. Some time later, I get the auto email notifying me that my flight is cancelled. Yeh, thanks for nothing SWA especially as I could have been traveling to the airport.

Around the same time, the radio announced that Houston International had cancelled 300 or so flights (Almost 500 in the end) and roads around both airports were flooded. Thus, even if I had tried to drive to Houston Hobby airport, I would not have not made it. It turned out that SWA had cancelled all their domestic flights from Hobby until 4:00 pm – I’ve lived here 17 years and never seen anything like this before. Normally SWA are super at working with storms !

Patricious’ school ISD had cancelled all classes. This I heard from the radio around 6:30 (and getting myself ready to leave for the airport and about to wake him up) , I told him so he could sleep in. As I walked past his room about 15 minutes later I see a light on in his room. Is he watching TV to find out what is going on? Nope, playing Video games. So much for the sleep in. Didn’t even want breakfast.

Before lunch, I drag Patricious to walk in the rain with me and look at the all flooding around us. He was excited to see such as an adventure. The picture taken is outside Patricious’ school. Not very often do you see kayaks in the streets.

McBoatface wins the boat race

It’s official – ‘Boaty McBoatface‘ has won the ask the plebians to name a ship. It got over 124K idjits I mean votes. See Cleo’s prior post “Giving the people what the want“.

The chief executive of the NERC, Duncan Wingham, now faces the hard choice of choosing between the credibility of his organisation and public opinion.

Duncan, as we were have to deal with the masses, let me give you a hint: I am sure the public will not really care what it is named.  Watch”Life of Brian” and fast forward to “Welease Woger” to see why they titter so.

Continuing the trend, I see there is now a horse in Australia called “Horsey McHorseface“. Afterall, it was the Aussies who originated this a few ago when a Tazmanian zoo asked primary school kids to adopt an name an owl. And so they did…”Hooty McOwlface”.

This was much better than the name they gave to an Emu -Spazzy McGee ! Kids eh.

Days when it is a zoo at the zoo

One Trip Advisor review of Houston Zoo - avoid Free day !

One  recent Trip Advisor review of Houston Zoo – avoid Free day !

The other day there was a major brawl in Houston Zoo parking lot between a few mothers that hit the interweb. Fights in Houston parking lots are usually not newsworthy but it does bring up something we have been wanting to talk about – Free days.

Many of Houston’s children attractions – Zoo, Children’s Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science – run Children’s day or free days which naturally lead to a surge of people taking advantage of it. While it is free, the crowds (and the caliber of the public) that accompany this may ruin your day out. So what are the Free days for places that normally charge in Houston:

While some of these like the Holocaust museum are unlikely to attract the hoi polloi, some areas do so if like me you’d rather pay to avoid the crowds, make note that this.

And this is not just a Houston thing either. Many cities have such free days for museums or their zoos- This post on Trip Advisor gives advice for Chicago free museum days. Here is another about Kansas Zoo free day. And if you still don’t believe us, another on the Bronx Zoo free day.

Finally those who want to see the zoo scrap, here is the local news report.

Weird Houston – Video of the Orange Show Foundatation

We’ve been expanding Roam and branching out into the video making game. While I don’t think Steven Spielburg will be worried about any competition, this is our first video,”Weird Houston”. It oveview the four unique attractions (or repulsions,depending on how you’d view bizarre art) of the Orange Show Foundation.

You may recognize some of these from our post ‘Oranges are not the only fruit‘ from the Summer of 2015. We have a follow on video in the works on the 2016 Art Car Parade so watch this space.

My big fat Greek Hijacking

The most bizarre selfie ever?

Stockholm syndrome: The most inappropriate selfie?

What a complete bizarre story the hijacking of the Egyptian airliner and having it divert to Cyprus is turning out to be. [See Daily Mail]

The hijacker was not a Jihadi but some run of the mill fruitcake who apparently had strapped explosives around himself and threatened to detonate it. He chose Cyprus in order to deliver a 4 page letter to his ex-wife who now lives in Cyprus.

It all turned out well, if you can call it that, in that the explosives were fake and he is now in custody.

Now what makes this even more strange is the selfie of a a hostage with the hijacker. I don’t think I’d be smiling if there was a suicide bomber next to me unless it turns out he was forced to do so.

Then we have a statement from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry official, who said: ‘He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.’

And to cap it all of, then was have the Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades telling reporters ‘..the incident appeared to be motivated by personal reasons and ‘is not terrorism-related’  Asked about reports that the hijacker had demanded to see a Cypriot woman, Anastasiades laughed and said: ‘Always there is a woman.’

Oh Boy.

But seriously, this event makes asks a lot of questions about Egyptian airport security.