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..

Uber convert

You say you want a revolution. Well, there’s an app for that.

Since I’ve talked about AirBnb in my previous post, I should amention that I’ve been a user of another ‘sharing economy’ darling in the past few months : Uber.

I used Uber to drop me home after getting rid of the MB leased car.

I used them to take me to the airport where I was going to Milwaukee for thanksgiving and to avoid the parking nightmare. By co-incidence, the driver was from Wisconsin so I got a few tips from him of what to see etc. As a side note, the officials at Hobby Airport pounced on him for documentation as soon as I got dropped off and even after I’d checked in my luggage about 10 minutes later, I could see out the window he was still being questioned. Not sure what that was about.

I used Uber in Milwaukee to get to / from downtown. The ability to send the driver a text – when the GPS address for your restaurant is nonsense – worked great. On the app map showing the driver, you could see them driving to you, then obviously overshooting and going the other way.

One feature I liked was the quote before hand to do a ‘what if’. I wanted to know the price of an Uber from Milwaukee to Midway airport  – around ~$120. I compared it to AVIS one way where the car rental gave me ( with a very good AWD#) and it was around $55. Obviously with this, I went to AVIS. When I checked the car in, I was dismayed to find out that they’d charged me per mileage charge where bill came to $108. Bloomin’ bunch of Sock cutter$. If I add in tolls, gas and CDW then Uber would have been cheaper.  Even if it had been cost neutral, I would have not had the hassle of driving for 90 minutes and getting to the MKE airport to pick up the car.

As for AVIS and the discrepancy, I later I checked out why I had not flagged this earlier as I darn well knew about the potential for one way add ons. I looked and the AVIS booking site was blank about mileage but when I looked at the confirmation email, it calls it out as $0.40 per mile. Buggers.  Today, I just looked at the same AVIS website today, and it does now call it out (@ $0.28 per mile). So Caveat Emptor (or Emperor..) and all that with my miscalculation on the 1 way rental but it still illustrates why bother with that option : Just get an freakin’ Uber assuming their prices stay where they are. I mention this as they continually monkey with fare structures.

The thought of getting a regular taxi driver when Uber is an option, does not appeal any more. I’ve had my fair share of rides with filthy cars overflowing with cigarette butts going to a destination with no idea what the final charge will be and they’ll only take cash at the end. The days of taxi’s are done in areas legally serviced by Uber, Lyft or their counterparts.

Long like the revolution !

PS: I am not ready to give a full thumbs up to Uber as I don’t trust Mr Kalanick past the future IPO.

First experience of AirBnb: Big thumbs up

“I dream of Weenie” van : 5 points/ East Nashville. Copyright Roads-2-Roam

When we went to Nashville over Christmas, I used AirBnB for the first time. Christmas in Nashville is the calm before the New Year party storm when prices in hotels go nuts around 28th. We were visting the Daughter I and her family with Daughter II plus family coming in for a few days

There was plenty of accommodation in hotels around $100 per night for the dates we wanted 12/22 to 12/28. To do something different, I even thought about checking out Gaylord resort to see what it was all about. After reading some of the devil in the details from some reviews and with it being about $200+ per night plus all the tacked on fees, I decided against it.

As so it was that I seriously looked into AirBnB and saw a nice 12 bed house not too far from where daughter I lives. Price was around $200 which with 12 bed which meant that daughter II and her family could stay with us. However, by the time our wider family got our act together, it was already booked.

Liking the idea of AirBnB, I continued to look with houses around $200 or less. Looking at the maps, I found one 8 bedroom that was for $118. I almost skipped it thinking is must be a hovel but curiosity go the better of me..I looked at other dates outside my desired times and saw that it was normally double this price. I just happened to be looking for my dates and the owner had bombed rates to fill an empty block. It was in East Nashville in the 5 points district and reviews were very positive. Boy, it looks like for once being dysfunctional meant we’d lucked out !

The house turned out to be better than our expectation:  Mrs Caesar, the kids, the grandkids and our dogs (I forgot to mention that I brought the two Roaman hound dogs) all loved the house. A two story with 4 bedrooms with all the mod cons that in some instances were better than our home. The 5 points is a mixed neighborhood that it is being progressively gentrified.  It had a back garden that we took advantage of – the weather was 73F !

There were some great bars and restaurants that within 5 minutes walking distances: Thumbs up to 5 point pizza (we went there twice) and Drifter’s Tennesse BBQ. I got a kick out of seeing “I dream of weennie” –  a hot dog van that has some great ratings – but it’s opening times and our schedule didn’t work out this time.

The owner of the house was very customer orientated. I think the only thing we wanted for is milk for the coffee.

Overall, my first experience with booking with AirBnB was very positive. It was a very cost effective for groups if you stay for a few days. The cost threshold will be the one off cleaning fee which in our case was $140. I especially liked it that it was a far more personable that a hotel.

Our verdict on Airbnb: Thumbs up.

I will do AirBnB again but only the ‘complete house’ option. Can’t see I want to do the rent a room or even a couch.


 

Postscript 28th Jan 17: Maybe it is a sign of their perceived success or economic arrogance, but the same house is now asking for $292 per night on AirBnB. I think that is a a bit extreme for what we got.

Crash test dummy

“mmm, mmm. mmm. mmm.” wikipedia Creative commons 3.0

After over 30 years on the road, I blew my clean driving record by running into the back of someone in my car.

I was taking off from red light and looked down to put my hot drink in it’s holder and when I looked up, the traffic had stopped. I slammed on the brakes but knew that it was not enough distance to stop.

Wham . Thankfully no airbag.

Behind me I heard screeching of brakes and I braced for impact. The skidding sound continued and a white car mounted the median and its front appeared right next my door.

I wait a few seconds to make sure nothing else is happening then look all around and with it being silent I get out.

I first walk around to check on the driver in front of me is who was driving an old black Honda. After confirming he is unhurt and like me, pretty shaken up, I apologized and shook his hand. He was a 20 something hipster with two massive ear plug piercings.

I tell him, I’ll get my insurance details. Meanwhile I walk back to my car and see the female driver behind me inspecting it so obviously, she must have hit mine. I’ll come back to her I thought.

I gave the hipster my drivers licence and insurance card. He takes photos on his phone and since it was obviously his first accident, he didn’t know what to do next. He started routing around the car for his insurance details and said something about it being his wife’s car and didn’t know where his documents were. I told him that since I’d run into him under Texas law, there is no need for that as I didn’t need them.

We went out to inspect his car. It was surprisingly undamaged. He pointed out a few things on the back bumper and admitted that they were already there. We looked at mine and it was similarly undamaged.

Meanwhile, I looked at the driver behind me. She’d left the scene.  So much for getting her details then.

The hipster didn’t seem to want to call the cops and since I was at fault, I wasn’t going to suggest it either.

He took one final picture of my number plated for his records and I sent him a text with my phone number on it. I said that if he was to go want to claim for repairs, then contact me before hand as if it was a relatively low dollar amount, I would want to settle with him in cash rather than go through the insurance. He said he’d do that.

It’s been over a week now and I have not heard any more so I presume he isn’t going to take this further.

This bring back a memory where a few years ago, I had a young latina run into the back of me at a road junction in the same car. I suspected she was texting (or was a bit stoned since she was rather not with it). I exchanged details and photo’s of the small amount of damage with her and since I was not hurt, I did not call the PoPo.

Later in the day, her father called me to apologize and asked me if I could get it repaired ‘by knocking the dent out’. He said he would pay for that and since his daughter was new to driving, he didn’t want her driving record to get an insurance hit so early on. I agreed to look at it since it was not much damage.

I took it to some places and it became clear that to get this small amount of damage in-situ repaired was not possible: The only option was a replacement of the plastic housing and quote given was north of $1000 with labor etc. Suspecting a repair rip off, I took it to a different place came in at the same ball park amount.

After thinking about it, I decided to cut the young texter a break. I already had some damage on the front from hitting a deer, then a few days later, a wild pig. So why was I then bothered about a relatively small dent in the back. I had daughters in the same age group so forget it: I was not going to push further on the claim as > $1000 was clearly a ridiculous amount.

So perhaps this is my crash karma and I am benefiting from my no-claim it backward.  Hipster, you are next.

NYE: You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off

The mini-firework display at Sugar Land’s kids’ celebration. More mini than fireworks.

Maybe it is because they are saving their denarii for the upcoming Superbowl but Houston did not put on any official celebration activities to see in the new year.

Perhaps this is why so many people headed to Sugar Land city center for their “New Year’s eve on the square”. Friends of the Caesar’s suggested we go out to dinner then take the kids down to see the Children’s celebration which would end with a kid’s firework display at 9 am.

We ate Mediterranean food which everybody liked including the fussy kids, parked near Macy’s mall* and walked about 10 minutes which got there around 8:30. The street entertainment was something different and we liked it.

9 o’clock came and the fireworks started and they were impressive. Then it all stopped after what felt like about 1 minute. No build up. No finale. It just stopped.

Huh? While it was billed as a ‘mini’ firework display where the main one (the ‘adult’ one) to begin at midnight, it was an anti-climax.


It reminded me of the San Diego July 4th 2012 firework display where someone buggered up the wiring so where the entire 18 minute display went up simultaneously so it lasted all of 15 seconds ! See the LA  Times:

The Big Bay Boom is advertised as one of the largest fireworks shows in the nation, and boasts about attracting half a million spectators. The pyrotechnics are launched from five barges in the San Diego Bay, and this year’s show – the 12th annual spectacle – was advertised by the port as being “bigger and more intense than in past years,” and organizers set up free buses and shuttles to handle the crowds of spectators. About a dozen bayside hotels offer special Fourth of July rates just so customers can watch the show from the comfort of their rooms.

The explosion was so bright and loud that some viewers initially thought the barges containing the fireworks had caught on fire. “Oh my God. Look at that. Is that supposed to happen?” said one person, whose comments were captured on a YouTube video. “I think a yacht blew up,” @BENBALLER tweeted, along with a photo that appeared to show a breathtaking number of fireworks simultaneously exploding.

“I waited 3hrs in the cold and payd $12 for parking & got one little explosion?” tweeted @aj521z.“Best part about #bigbayboom fail is that EVERYONE has always wondered what would happen if all fireworks went off at once,” tweeted @richandcreamy.

In a statement issued before midnight, the port said that just before the fireworks all exploded, technicians sent a signal “to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction.”

Garden State Fireworks, the firm producing the show, “will be working throughout the night to determine what technical problem caused the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds. We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties,” according to a statement posted on www.bigbayboom.com.


Still, this is not the only time for some mal-event for happen on NYE ‘celebration’. In no particular order:

  • A trip to Edinburgh where we gathered at Tron Kirk to bring in New Year only to find out the clock bells didn’t work where all the crowds were left waiting arm in arm to sign “auld lang syne”.
  • A trip to New York where we could not get a taxi for love or money, and walked for hours back to our hotel leaving us cold and exhausted.
  • Broadstairs, Kent where my entourage did a pub crawl. Many in the town dressed in costume where I was Dracula. It was such a success that one lady insisted on kissing me passionately not too long after midnight. Except her boyfriend didn’t like this too much and mid-kiss, sucker punched me straight in my face splitting my nose open. Not exactly the firework display I wanted.

Now that I think about it the older I get, the more I want to stay home on the circus known as NYE but that has it’s own complications. Good luck finding a good countdown or celebration on a Texas TV channel. Many don’t even bother or get too lazy and just show New York’s celebration which sounds great except for that time zone problem.

However, this year I was disappointed to not have caught Mariah Carey doing her own San Diego 2012 firework blow up. I would have loved to have seen her lip sync dissaster as it happened. It would have been a great way to see out 2016.

We should have got an inkling of how bad this was going to be when the Diva was reported as asking beforehand ” What time does the ball drop?” and based on this,they had set up special arrangements to make sure she got to Time Square on time. [Daily Mail] Based on her performance or lack of, they shouldn’t have bothered !


Still it is what it is. As Rabbie Burns said ‘We’ve wandered mony a weary foot, Sin’ auld ang syne.’

Happy New Year.

Augustus.

PS: back to the Sugar Land event and parking. I’m glad we didn’t listen to officials saying to park in Football stadium and get a free bus ride to the event. The lines to catch that same bus back were monstrous. Something I’ve learned over the years is to plan your exit. Park just a bit further away to avoid traffic jams getting out. For big sporting events, parking away will be much cheaper.