Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Tag: Travel

Off to the 2010 Taiwan Cycling Festival

Today involved the first leg of my ~8,000 mile trip from home in DC to Taipei, Taiwan for the 2010 Taiwan Cycling Festival. What is that, exactly? Err, I’ll find out the details when I get there.  Taiwan is trying to promote itself as a cycling destination, and is hoping to use this event to showcase what it’s got. And, courtesy of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, I’ll be giving you my take on the reality of that effort. I’ve been lucky enough to get around a bit, so I’m hoping that my well-considered take – which will be posted here over the next couple of weeks – will be useful to those thinking of trying Taiwan for a cycling trip.

That trip, however, comes with a pretty steep initial cost for Americans. Nevermind the actual ticket cost, I’m talking about the 14 hour trip from LAX (can’t be much shorter from SEA or other northern US departure points) to Taipei (TPE). At 6’1″, and recalling my 14 hour LAX-SYD flight last year, I’m dreading it already. I did a 16 hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong some years back, and it was miserable. That said, Hong Kong turned out to be one of the most amazing places I’ve seen on this planet, and was absolutely worth those 16 hours. So while the price can be steep, it’s quite possibly worth it. We’ll see.

Great Circle route for LAX to TPE

Because I had zero interest in tying on the five hour flight from DC to LA into the LAX-TPE flight on the same day (for 19 straight hours of fun!), I decided to skip out to LA a day ahead of time. My favorite local airport, National, doesn’t do much in the way of direct flights to LAX, so I had to head out to the airport I often mock – Dulles (IAD).  It turns out that I might have to ease back a bit on knocking it.  In fact, it came off as a perfectly nice airport – one that might even eventually live up to the promise of its Saarinen-designed ticketing terminal.

Ticketing Terminal at IAD

First off, the moon buggies are mostly gone. In its place is a much improved security hall and rail transport to the terminals. And much to my pleasant surprise, Vino Volo, previously accessible only on int’l flights, now has a (much bigger) location at Terminal B. Like ATL’s One Flew South, it’s a great wine bar with good food. Much better than the usual regret-inducing airport fare.

Vino Volo at IAD's Terminal B

The departure from my airport of choice also involved a departure from my airline of choice (Delta).  This flight was on American, and since (in yet another departure from the norm) I’m actually checking a bag this trip (hard to pack clothing, cycling shoes/pedals, and a helmet in carry-on, it turns out), I experienced the joy of getting nickled ($25 for checked bag) and dimed ($39 for an aisle seat up front).  (Too many parentheticals?)  I don’t so much mind the total cost as the pettiness of dinging me for what I’ve come to expect as basics.   We’ll just avoid the matter of food entirely.  Personal thanks, though, to the flight attendant who took mercy on me and doubled my vodka tonic.

So I’m at the LAX Hilton now.  Did you know you can snag pretty much any of the standard airport hotels (Marriott, Hilton, Crowne Plaza) for ~$65/night on Priceline?  I used to mock a friend mercilessly for using them (and I still mostly avoid them), but that’s a regular and reliable halving of the price anywhere else.  I’m trying to sort out a few more last minute things before I head off to uncertain connectivity, and then get a good night’s sleep ahead of what I’m sure will be something less than that.

But I’m really really looking forward to actually being in Taiwan.

Friday Music: Temptations

The places, they call to me.   A most excellent friend just brought up the possibility of returning to Argentina.  I managed this snap on my first trip there:

Not bad for a furtive cellphone shot, eh?  But really, it captures so much of what makes me really want to head back.  As does the music of the Gotan Project:

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And Tanghetto:

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I have this silly habit of immediately imagining how I could make a life living in most places I travel.  Pick up some clients in industry X, live in neighborhood Y, and have a Z kind of life.  Predictably, that fades after a little time has been put between me and the place.  But Buenos Aires – along with Hong Kong and Cape Town – has held on much longer.

Friday Notes. Sorta.

I was going to link to Mike@Blueweed’s excellent The Tyranny of Quaint with a bit of mocking about how he needs to write more, but I think I need to take some Windex to this glass house, first.  So, here goes:

Remember, no matter what happens next Tuesday, “it’s good for conservatives“:

There is nothing, nada, zilch, zero, nothing, that is bad news for conservatives. When they win elections, it proves we’re a conservative country. When they lose, it proves it. When we pass health care bills, it proves it. When we lower taxes, it proves it. When we raise taxes, it proves it. Everything proves it always.

Always.

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Of course, Democrats do have a pretty solid claim on the suckage:

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has proposed a variety of ideas on how to advance the [DC voting rights] bill. But the reaction from party leaders, as the Web site Politico reported, seems to be “forget it.” No doubt Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), looking ahead to his own tough reelection battle, sees no gain in irritating the powerful gun lobby. In fact, Mr. Reid voted for the Ensign amendment, making it easier for other Democrats to follow suit. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says that she’s looking for opportunities to pass the bill, but to date that hasn’t involved pressing members to put principle ahead of political interests. President Obama, who sponsored voting rights legislation as a senator, has done nothing on the issue.

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This man built a Pan Am 747 First Class cabin in his garage.  I’m not saying it’s okay, but I understand.

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There are, in fact, clever people with a sense of fun in DC.

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Aww, are “good white people” are under threat in the US?:

Here’s one of the “questions” asked in the poll, tailor-made for Fox News Channel:

Federal Communications Commission Chief Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd wants the FCC to force good white people in positions of power in the broadcast industry to step down to make room for more African-Americans and gays to fill those positions.  Do you agree or disagree that this presents a threat to free speech?

It’s worth noting that this question only elicited 51 percent support.

Hilarious.

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The willingness of Redskins fans to support an organization that does this continues to be beyond my grasp.   I’m not a football – or really even a sports – fan, but I moved to DC right after Jack Kent Cooke died in 1997, and haven’t been able to escape Redskins news since then.  And you know?  It’s been uniformly shitty the entire 12 years.  Why, people?

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Former Murky Coffee owner, tax cheat, and douchebag extraordinaire Nick Cho finally got booked on tax charges.

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If you ever leave me again,
I’ll down a bottle of
baby aspirin:

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Update: Wait, forget that crap copy.  Go here and enjoy the extraordinary talents of Subtle Sexuality’s  fabulous KELLY KAPOOR (and erin hannon).

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Readability helps with exactly that.  I like it.  Very much.

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How the public lost out on the battle between Big Pharma and generics.   It’s a short but informative look into one of the many battles with big consequences for the costs of health care.

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I find my stuff in the most interesting places.  (Okay, it’s probably not that interesting to too many people beyond me, considering the dearth of entries.  But still.)

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I know it’s supposed to be satire, but I kinda wonder if Ken Cuccinelli wrote this.   Cuccinelli is the GOP candidate for Virginia Attorney General, and is such a bigot that even the normally spineless VA Log Cabin Republicans not only won’t support him, but are calling for his defeat.  That link also helps illustrate why I think libertarian support for GOP candidates is misplaced (and that’s putting it very kindly):

No real libertarian has a record (like Mr. Cuccinelli does) of
· Opposition to repealing the state sodomy law, even though it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
· Opposition to allowing private companies to offer health and life insurance benefits to domestic partners of their employees
· Opposition to prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for state and local government employees
· Opposition to allowing local governments to choose what benefits they give their local employees
· Opposition to any kind of legal protections for gay and lesbian couples, even the limited rights embodied in domestic partnerships or civil unions
· Support for banning gay/straight alliances in public high schools
· Support for state funding of abstinence programs

Each one of those stupid little Gadsen flags ought to have an asterisk at the end of “Don’t Tread on Me”, leading to a “Tread On Him, Instead.”  That would be a far more honest and accurate portrayal of the beliefs of the vast majority of “libertarians.”

Clifton Beach, Karachi

Clifton Beach, Karachi, Pakistan

Clifton Beach, Karachi, Pakistan

Click to view large.  Photo taken here.

Surf Photography

Wow.  You know, I was going to post a few of my surf shots this week, perhaps with some accompanying whinging about how hard it is to illustrate scale when shooting waves, but after this series by Clark Little?  I think I’ll just be quiet.

A Picture

How to Write a Complaint Letter to an Airline

I have reproduced, for your education and viewing pleasure, the best airline complaint letter I’ve ever read.  I’m not really one for passing viral things around, but if you’ve not seen this yet, you really ought to give in a read. And yes, it has in fact been confirmed by Virgin Airlines as authentic.  Behold its glory after the jump.

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