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Vive La Revolution : Houston allows Uber and Lyft to operate with conditions

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy. [1]

The revolutionary Che’ring economy[1].

In the war against the old style Taxi and municipal regulation, Houston City council came down on the side of Uber and Lyft and voted to allow them to operate in Houston City limits.

Click2Houston.com says:

“After months of discussions, City Council has approved the operation of ride-sharing services in Houston.

Taxi cab drivers have been fighting it, but on Wednesday Houston city leaders gave the green light to companies like Uber and Lyft.

For months Uber and Lyft have been asking to operate within city limits, but city leaders have been slow to say yes because there were questions about how to regulate the new mobile app-based services.

City Council members discussed the topic for more than five hours Wednesday and focused on insurance, accessibility for the disabled and how to make sure there weren’t any gaps in regulation that could lead to lawsuits down the road.”

And this is where Mr. Devil meets Ms. Details as there are different models under the Uber and Lyft banner. Continue reading..

Game of thrones : Elizabeth II delays trip to Balmoral to allow more tourists

Bohemian Currency (http://imgur.com/1iPh5pA)

Bohemian Currency (http://imgur.com/1iPh5pA)

Dahlings, it looks as if my friend Queen Betty of Union Jackland had to slum it the other week.

Turns outs that her Maj delayed moving back to Balmoral for one week in order to allow more tourists to visit her Scottish country pad to get more pounds into the Royal coffers.

With her advert on HereditaryBnB, Liz’s advert had disclaimer of “Antiquated, creaky at night, plumbing isn’t modern, so don’t expect it to function in the modern world”.

It took me a while to realize that Liz wasn’t talking about Balmoral, but was giving a warning about Prince Philip.

Ciao for now,
Cleo.

Yelp me if you can, I’m feeling down : US guest house fines reviewers for negative reviews

One of the Opening scenes of Fawlty Towers.

One of the opening scenes of the BBC Comedy, “Fawlty Towers”

The internet outrage de jour is the story of  “Hotel fines $500 for every bad review posted online” started by NY Post. Except when you read it, you find out it wasn’t a hotel but a small guest house.

The Union Street Guest House, near Catskills estates built by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, charges couples who book weddings at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by their guests.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

If you take down the nasty review, you’ll get your money back.

For any bad reviews that do make it online, the innkeepers aggressively post “mean spirited nonsense,” and “she made all of this up.”

In response to a review complaining of rude treatment over a bucket of ice, the proprietors shot back: “I know you guys wanted to hang out and get drunk for 2 days and that is fine. I was really really sorry that you showed up in the summer when it was 105 degrees . . . I was so so so sorry that our ice maker and fridge were not working and not accessible.”

That is pretty much the article. Continue reading..

Russkies in a Flussky : Russian travel companies goes under and leaves thousands stranded

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

The after shocks of economic sanctions on Russia following their involvement in Ukraine, are starting to bite. From the BBC news:

As many as 27,000 Russian tourists are stranded abroad after a Russian tour firm, Labirint, suspended operations.

A company statement (in Russian) blamed the move on a deterioration in the rouble exchange rate and the “negative political and economic situation”.

There are signs that EU-US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis are hurting the wider economy, including Western investment in Russia.

The same story is covered by IBTimes which adds that many tourists in Greece were booted out of their hotels as a result.

Greek media reports estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Russians were stuck on Greek islands. The country’s Tourism Ministry said, in a statement: “Greece is a safe and welcoming tourist destination that respects its guests.”

However, Russia’s Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has threatened to name hotels that had “mishandled” the situation. Some tourists were reportedly evicted from hotels, while others were apparently refused entry after Labirint’s bankruptcy was announced. ATOR would be adding hotels to a “blacklist”, it said.

Russian tourists are also thought to be stuck in Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Labirint announced it was stopping operations on Saturday and that Turpomoshch (Tour Help) would attempt to help passengers that were stuck.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your tour company or chartered airline goes under when you are on vacation ? Continue reading..

Pearls of Hysteria : Reality of catching a Vibrio Vulnificus infection from the Gulf of Mexico

An old food selfie Augustus' 3rd dozen of gulf Oysters.

An old food selfie of Augustus’ 3rd dozen of gulf Oysters.

If you read the headlines “Florida resident dies from flesh-eating bacteria, officials confirm“, you may think this is an Ebola story. It is not.

It turns out that that victim died of of a seaborn bacteria ‘vibrio vulnificus’ which entered his body via an open wound. Not only that but the deceased had chronic health problems.

Is this something to be alarmed at ? No. This bacteria occurs naturally in the sea and flourishes in warmer waters. He was unlucky.

Vibrio vulnificus is also the bacteria that can sicken you if are unlucky enough to eat bad Oysters. For healthy people, this would be diarrhea only. For those who are immune supressed or unhealthy, this can be deadly.

The Emperors of Roam just love Oysters and we are well aware of the risks. We are very strict about eating Oysters in only winter months especially Gulf Oysters. Not only are they safer to eat in the cold water, but they taste better due to changes in glycogen.

Wake me up when December ends.

 

All’s Whale, Ends Whale: Southwest ditches Seaworld alliance

Photo by Robert Pitman (NOAA)

Killer Whales in the Wild where the belog: Photo by Robert Pitman (NOAA)

We at Roads-2-Roam have long had a problem with SeaWorld’s fundamental business model where we consider it a sad and cruel attraction. Until recently, we lived in San Antonio but refused out of principle to take our family or visitors there.

After seeing the movie Blackfish, it only added to our distaste.

We are pleased to see that Southwest is not renewing their advertising contract with SeaWorld where it will no longer feature “Shamu” on their planes. From U-T San Diego:

Southwest and SeaWorld, which has marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, insist that the decision was a mutual one, predicated on “shifting priorities” by both companies.

Both issued the same statement:

“Southwest and SeaWorld have mutually decided not to renew their partnership when the contract expires at the end of the year,” they said. “Our promotional marketing relationship began in 1988 and was one of the first of its kind – focused on co-marketing opportunities between Southwest passengers and SeaWorld visitors.

Continue reading..

Dark clouds for the Black Cab: Projection for London’s iconic Taxis

Future of London Black Cab?

Future of London Black Cab?

Business education classes teach a technique called “PEST analysis” to assess the market attractiveness or a health of a company. It looks at  the external factors beyond your control, that are either opportunities or threats to your business.

In this context P.E.S.T is an acronym that refers to POLITICAL, ECONOMIC,  SOCIAL or  TECHNOLOGICAL trends coming in the near future.

Eco City Vehicles (ECV) is the company that makes black cabs and they are getting hammered by a perfect storm of PESTs. These are all threats with hardly any opportunities. A market report by “This is Money” discusses the bleak outlook for ECV. Continue reading..

May the farce be with you : UK passport office refuse to accept revised middle name of star wars character

Laura Elizabeth Skywalker Matthews

Dahlings, It is not just US Government workers who have problems with names.

UK’s Home office has passport Office has rejected one applicant for a passport renewal after the person had changed her name by deed poll to “Laura Elizabeth Skywalker Matthews”. It turns out they don’t accept names that are trademarks !

From The Independent:

“We have a duty to ensure the reputation of the UK passport is not called into question or disrepute,” a spokesman said.

She has been told she may have to submit a new passport form using her old signature, but would be able to keep her new name on the document.

She added that despite the problems with her passport, she doesn’t regret changing her name.

Ms Matthews is not alone in changing her name to something unusual. Earlier in May, a man from New Zealand legally changed his name to “Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova” after he lost a poker bet five years ago.

It must suck if your last name is McDonald.

Ciao for now, Cleo.

Swissport, Swisswhine: Baggage fiasco in Gatwick airport tied to low wage contractor

Following on from Heathrow T5 fiasco where BA fliers had problems of no luggage for a few days, we now hear about luggage problems with passengers going through Gatwick. In the Heathrow example,the issue was equipment related. In Gatwick’s case, the problem is staffing. It seems that the contractor, Swissport, cannot get staff to want to work.

From the Telegraph:-

Travellers flying from Gatwick this weekend can expect chaotic scenes because Swissport, the baggage handling firm, does not have enough workers to load and unload planes. Two airlines warned that difficulties at the airport could worsen over the next four months because airlines are locked in to contracts with Swissport.

The problem is most acute at weekends because the firm is using staff on zero-hours contracts who do not wish to work anti-social hours, it is claimed.

Airlines using Swissport at Gatwick for baggage handling services include British Airways, Virgin, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.

The firm is having its contract terminated by at least one airline after it was blamed for failing to load passengers’ bags on to outgoing planes and not returning luggage to those arriving at Gatwick.

It get’s worse. Continue reading..

What the FAA..? Southwest fined $12m by FAA but good luck in understanding why

A Federal watchdog being exposed

A Federal watchdog on the job

Roads-2-Roam previously criticized the limitations of a ‘ rent an AP news story‘ model where a News outlet reports a base story such as “FAA seeks $12 million fine against Southwest“, but the details are provided by a centralized ‘news-lite’  AP release. The so called News outlet make tweak the AP release to make it appear as if it is theirs, but it many cases leave it as is.

In the 7/28 topical case about “FAA wanting to fine Southwest”, Roads-2-Roam saw the headline and wanted to learn more. We wanted to know why it was going to be fined.

Unfortunately,the top articles on new searches were the same AP base story despite it being different new sources. The more we read on different news sites despite minor changes, the more we recognized the same AP article.

Eventually we found a non-AP different article that picked apart the story under ‘aviationblog’ under Dallas Morning news, written by Terry Maxon. From the aviationblog article:

Here’s how we understand the allegations. It wasn’t that the modifications turned out to be unsafe. It was that Southwest’s contractor with Southwest oversight used a method that wasn’t approved at that time by the FAA, and that Southwest operated the modified aircraft knowing that the modifications hadn’t received FAA approval. From the FAA announcement:

“The FAA alleges that beginning in 2006, Southwest conducted so-called ‘extreme makeover’ alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The FAA conducted an investigation that included both the airline and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services, Inc., (ATS) of Everett, Wash. Investigators determined that ATS failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins on these aircraft. FAA investigators also determined that ATS failed to follow required procedures for placing the airplanes on jacks and stabilizing them. All of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest Airlines, which was responsible for ensuring that procedures were properly followed.

“Southwest returned the jetliners to service and operated them when they were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations, the FAA alleges. The regulatory violations charged involve numerous flights that occurred in 2009 after the FAA put the airline on notice that these aircraft were not in compliance with either FAA Airworthiness Directives or alternate, FAA-approved methods of complying with the directives. The FAA later approved the repairs after the airline provided proper documentation that the repairs met safety standards.”

The FAA said Southwest operated the airplanes in question for more than 30,000 flights after the FAA became aware of the unapproved methods of work and before the FAA gave its okay to the repairs performed on the airplanes. We presume many more flights were operated before the FAA realized what had happened.

Continue reading..