Posts filed under “Travel”

Did Customs & Immigration Cost US 2016 Olympics?

Embarrassing reflection of our administrative incompetency as a nation being  discussed at the NYT’s In Transit blog: Chicago’s Loss: Is Passport Control to Blame?:

“Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

Note that these are concerns I raised 5 years ago.

As someone who regularly travels both domestically and abroad, I have no doubt that this is a very serious issue of anyone wanting to visit the USA. We have the least user-friendly entry of any country I have ever been to. Cory Doctorow noted the insane fingerprints-and-photos regime at the US Border.

I do not know why Chicago lost, but I have no doubt that Customs & Immigration is at least part of the answer.

Ahhh, the Bush administration: The gift that keeps on giving . . .


Is the balance of scientific power shifting? (January 16th, 2004)

Economics, Security, and the Decline of the US Creative Class (October 6th, 2004)

Losing Our Intellectual Edge (December 22nd, 2004)

Global Competition for Talent (June 5th, 2005)

U.S. dominance in science and engineering at risk (July 23rd, 2005)

Chicago’s Loss: Is Passport Control to Blame?
In Transit, October 2, 2009, 2:51 PM

Category: Travel

Tracking New England Fall Foliage

Yes, there is a website for this: > click for updated map

Category: Travel, Weekend

Walking Across China

The Longest Way 1.0 – one year walk/beard grow time lapse from Christoph Rehage on Vimeo. The Longest Way 1.0 – one year walk/beard grow time lapse (Via boingboing)

Category: Travel, Weekend

Vancouver . . .

Lovely town! Nice parks, outdoor cafes, plenty of tourists walking about. Flew in on an Air Canada 767 (great sleeper seats), got from the airport to downtown rather quickly during rush hour. The Fairmont hotel is quite nice, so far, the local restaurants  are very good (Azia). I am trying to figure out what town…Read More

Category: Travel

Google Moon

It was 40 years ago today . . . > click for interactive Google Moon > Other Sources: First Moon Landing 1969 Nice overview of the anniversary at the Merc A 17th century mission to the Moon

Category: Science, Travel, Weekend

Clear to Cease Operations

For you travelers whisking thru the security lines at US airports, I have some bad news: Back in line with the rest of the proles: > > Hat tip Andrew!

Category: Travel, Weekend

Travel Web Sites

Nice collection of travel web resources, via the Frugal Traveller: Mobissimo Bing Kayak (not > Source: Travel Web Sites: A Click-On Showdown NYT, June 17, 2009

Category: Travel, Web/Tech, Weekend

The NonGuidebook Version of What to Do (and Not Do) in NYC 2009

Why a “NonGuidebook Version” of What to Do (and Not Do) in NYC ?

Since so many of you have asked:  This started with friends from California who were coming to visit NYC for the very first time. They are intrepid Asian and Australian travelers, and wanted what they described as the “nonGuidebook version” of what to do in NYC.

So what began first as an email exchange turned into a longer list. They gave it some friends of theirs who emailed thanking me for the advice, and after a while, other people started emailing in around.

Thinking other out-of-towner might appreciate this — it is definitely NOT Fodors material –  I polished it up, and posted it. It was so well received last year, that I decided to turn it into an annual posting

Hence, 21 Ways to Make Your Stay in NYC More Enjoyable.


Its that time of year: New York City is flooded with tourists. With the American Peso still relatively weak, the place is just thick with ‘em.

There are lots of standard guides you might find helpful to use (i.e., NYC Guide for Tourists), but they are primarily designed for that gullible visitor, the double-decker riding, Hawaiian shirt wearing, one born every minute visitor — the Rube.

That’s not you. You are much hipper than that. You want to be in the know, plugged in, well connected. Well, kid, ya came to the right place. I’m going to give you the straight dope, the inside info that the guidebooks don’t tell you about. This is real insider trading, “Blue Horse Shoe Loves Anacot Steel” type stuff that people go to jail for. Not you or me, but people. Some people. Mostly tourists.

Anyway, instead of relying on a Fodors or Let’s Go NYC, consider these suggestions from a born and bred Nu Yawkah (Eyes gaht deh aksent dat gos wit da place). A Brooklyn born guy who works in finance, and has worked in NYC most of his Adult life, this guy knows a thing or two about Gotham.

These suggestions will help make your stay in the city enjoyable and safe. It well help you get the most out of your visit here. As an added bonus, I get to keep all of you birkenstocked, rucksack wearing, slow walking, camera snapping touristas out from underfoot of us locals.



A New Yorker’s Guide for Tourists: 20 Ways to Make Your Stay in New York City More Enjoyable


1. For God’s sake, DO NOT ALL DRESS ALIKE. This is especially true if  you are part of a big group. (Note: This does not refer to school trips of 50 fourth graders)

This is not just for your safety, it is for the benefit of the typical New Yorker’s highly refined aesthetic sense. At all costs, avoid wearing identical matching outfits. Worse than looking like buncha hicks from the sticks, you look like a group of out-of-towners begging to be mugged.

I don’t mean literally mugged by a criminal element, though that is certainly possible in these uncertain economic times. Rather, you are telegraphing your lack of savvy, thus leaving you financially vulnerable to unscrupulous taxi cab drivers and retail merchants alike. They will spot you as the rube you are, and be all too happy to roll you — i.e.,  considerably lighten your wallet.

You might as well carry a sign that says “Rob Me!” — and they will.

1.B  Enough with the NY themed garb! The corollary to this is to avoid festooning every item of clothing you have on with “New York, NYC, or Yankees” logos — No one is THAT big of a fan — for the same reasons as above.


2.  BATHROOMS:  Here’s the thing: There just aren’t many public bathrooms in NYC.

Why? Its a long story, which I don’t have time to go into, but there just aren’t that many. Make plans accordingly.

Where_to_go_2Your best bets are as follows:

Department stores
Barnes & Noble/Borders Bookstores

The nicest public toilet in the city is Bryant Park at 42nd Street between 5/6th avenues. Sometimes there is a wait.

For those of you who have serious, um, reallygottagonow issues, its best that you plan ahead. Get a copy of Where to Go: A Guide to Manhattan’s Toilets. Thats right, the NYC toilet situation is so absurd that someone wrote a book about it.

On the plus side, the Rainbow Room and the Grand Havana Club have some of the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever been in — floor to ceiling windows, right next to the urinals! Pee while delighting to the splendor of the skyline, only in NY!


3. iPod walking guides

There are lots of really cool guides to various Manhattan neighborhoods. I haven’t done all of these, but I’ve done a few — most of these come highly recommended.

-Soundwalk – – lets listeners walk in the shoes of locals for an uninterrupted hour. They have a 15-tour library includes many New York neighborhoods (Manhattan Chinatown, Little Italy, Lower East Side, Meatpacking District, Times Square, Wall Street, Williamsburg, Bronx hiphop/graffiti, Yankees, Brooklyn Dumbo) $12 to $25.

- Essex House the Central Park Walking Tours


- Soundsforsights

- Big Onion Walking Tours

- Google Mashup Walking Tour

- Turn Your iPod into a Travel Guide

- Art Mobs – – compiles the work of Marymount Manhattan College students as they look at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in
critical, cynical, and comical lights. Free (go to “browse audio guides.”)

- National Geographic Society Traveler Index

- Must See NY Guided Tours

Also worth knowing about:

Book: Manhattan on Film 1: Walking Tours of Hollywood’s Fabled Front Lot

Subway Map for your iPod

Note that Apple’s iTunes Music Store and also offer a wide catalog of audio tours for purchase and many are for no charge.

Lastly, wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers!


4. See a LIVE TV Show: This is a must do, lots of fun event. Just like Broadway, only free.

It requires some advanced planning, usually 6 months to a year ahead of time. I suggest Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Saturday Night Live (email SNL TIckets). (If you read our advice last year, you would have ordered the tickets a long time ago).

If you did not plan in advance for this year, no worries: Just diary this for next December or January to order tickets for Summer 2010.

Imagine where the US Dollar will be then — we’ll practically be paying you to come here!


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Category: Humor, Travel

20 Rules to Make Air Travel Better

Is there any other industry — other than funeral homes — that makes it so difficult to use its product? Air travel has become a self-service endeavor. Most of us plan trips ourselves and fend for ourselves; from the beginning, we’re on our own. To help travelers improve their journeys and restore some of the…Read More

Category: Travel, Weekend

Winging South (but not on Jet Blue)

It is 8:30am, and I am sitting in the Business Class section of a 7:30 am American Airlines flight to Miami. I was delighted to learn there is onboard wifi/internet. It will a race to see if this iBook G4 battery dies before the “all electronic device must be stowed” announcement is made. A few…Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Travel, Weblogs