Must-have travel gear – inexpensive zipper bags / Boing Boing:

Ever since I started using these nylon mesh zipper bags, my travel experience has improved. I have one bag for paper stuff and pens, one for medicine and first aid, one for tools and gear, one for cords and portable power, and one for snacks. When I get home I leave the bags in my suitcase, making packing much easier the next time I take a trip. The bags are see-through and very durable.

I just bought another set of these bags to hold components for Raspberry Pi projects. I think I have a total of 36 of these bags now.

I’m on board. The ones I have, which were labeled as makeup bags, increased over 500% since I bought them last. These seem a solid replacement.

They also work at TSA, or at least I’ve never had an issue with them. 

The New Chevy Silverado Trail Boss Stalling on Detroit’s Hockey Arena Ice Is a Perfect Metaphor:

If Detroiters know anything, they know about cars, hockey and disappointment. Their experience in all three came in handy yesterday when a brand-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss stalled on the ice at the Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Silverado was supposed to make a few laps of the ice during the second intermission before returning to dry land, but unfortunately it “ground to a halt” near center ice, breaking down just as crews were readying the Zambonis, as GM Authority dutifully reports. Eventually Chevy’s people were able to get the truck running and sheepishly limped it off of the ice before the third period start. Luckily, the Wings were working last night and beat the St. Louis Blues 4 to 3.

(Via Deadspin)

Ooph. That’s one ugly truck, which has ho bearing really. But tell me “Trail Boss” isn’t some kind of branding or label or anything but the title of the driver.

You Can Bathe In Coffee At This Japanese Spa:

Remember five or so years ago when it seemed like every specialty coffee company had an ad of some dude pouring coffee on himself (or maybe his bro) out of a Chemex in a provocative way? Yeah, it was weird. But on a semi-related note, you can now bathe in coffee. A resort in Japan offers customers a swimming pool-sized spa filled with coffee for their relaxing pleasure.

According to The Travel, the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa and Resort in Hakone, Japan is home to multiple food- and drink-based spas, including wine, tea, “ramen”, and of course, coffee. And it’s not just brown-colored water, it’s actually coffee—low heat Nel Drip style brewed coffee per the website—though I have had many a coffee that I would classify as “brown-colored water” and I can’t say one way or the other how this brew stacks up to those. I don’t plan on finding out either. The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa and Resort wisely suggests you not drink the coffee. Or the tea or wine or ramen broth.

The coffee bath is more than just a ploy to draw in the coffee obsessed. Not much more, mind you, but still more. Bathing in coffee is said to have “recharging, relaxing, skin beautifying effects.”

Even if it’s not, a photo in a coffee bath is pretty pretty pretty Instagrammable.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

Top image via Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa and Resort

The post You Can Bathe In Coffee At This Japanese Spa appeared first on Sprudge.

(Via Sprudge)

I don’t think my son will enjoy a visit here, but my daughter might at the ramen spa … I will need to keep her from drinking the broth is all.

Nissan releases all-electric camper van model:

Nissan electric cargo vans had become a favorite of people who wanted to convert them into electric campers, so Nissan has now come out with an official model.

Via Treehugger:

According to the Nissan press release, the e-NV200 camper can be ordered and customized from any Nissan dealer in Spain. And while I’ve already anticipated scorn on this side of the Atlantic for a 40kWh battery and 124 miles of range, I actually could see this being quite popular in European markets. Where I grew up, for example, in South West England, I could take a van like this to most of the South West coast, and a large chunk of Wales, and a single fast charge would open up most of the South of the country.

Yes, this wouldn’t be practical for truly long distance road trips; but man, you could have some fun, low carbon adventures in it.

People have done custom conversions of the e-NV200 previously:

Nissan launches all-electric camper van (Treehugger)

(Via Boing Boing)

Oh, sign me up! Range sucks, but I love the concept.

Don’t Fear the TSA Cutting Airport Security. Be Glad That They’re Talking about It.:

Last week, CNN reported that the Transportation Security Administration is considering eliminating security at U.S. airports that fly only smaller planes — 60 seats or fewer. Passengers connecting to larger planes would clear security at their destinations.

To be clear, the TSA has put forth no concrete proposal. The internal agency working group’s report obtained by CNN contains no recommendations. It’s nothing more than 20 people examining the potential security risks of the policy change. It’s not even new: The TSA considered this back in 2011, and the agency reviews its security policies every year. But commentary around the news has been strongly negative. Regardless of the idea’s merit, it will almost certainly not happen. That’s the result of politics, not security: Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of numerous outraged lawmakers, has already penned a letter to the agency saying that “TSA documents proposing to scrap critical passenger security screenings, without so much as a metal detector in place in some airports, would effectively clear the runway for potential terrorist attacks.” He continued, “It simply boggles the mind to even think that the TSA has plans like this on paper in the first place.”

We don’t know enough to conclude whether this is a good idea, but it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. We need to evaluate airport security based on concrete costs and benefits, and not continue to implement security theater based on fear. And we should applaud the agency’s willingness to explore changes in the screening process.

There is already a tiered system for airport security, varying for both airports and passengers. Many people are enrolled in TSA PreCheck, allowing them to go through checkpoints faster and with less screening. Smaller airports don’t have modern screening equipment like full-body scanners or CT baggage screeners, making it impossible for them to detect some plastic explosives. Any would-be terrorist is already able to pick and choose his flight conditions to suit his plot.

Over the years, I have written many essays critical of the TSA and airport security, in general. Most of it is security theater — measures that make us feel safer without improving security. For example, the liquids ban makes no sense as implemented, because there’s no penalty for repeatedly trying to evade the scanners. The full-body scanners are terrible at detecting the explosive material PETN if it is well concealed — which is their whole point.

There are two basic kinds of terrorists. The amateurs will be deterred or detected by even basic security measures. The professionals will figure out how to evade even the most stringent measures. I’ve repeatedly said that the two things that have made flying safer since 9/11 are reinforcing the cockpit doors and persuading passengers that they need to fight back. Everything beyond that isn’t worth it.

It’s always possible to increase security by adding more onerous — and expensive — procedures. If that were the only concern, we would all be strip-searched and prohibited from traveling with luggage. Realistically, we need to analyze whether the increased security of any measure is worth the cost, in money, time and convenience. We spend $8 billion a year on the TSA, and we’d like to get the most security possible for that money.

This is exactly what that TSA working group was doing. CNN reported that the group specifically evaluated the costs and benefits of eliminating security at minor airports, saving $115 million a year with a “small (nonzero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity.” That money could be used to bolster security at larger airports or to reduce threats totally removed from airports.

We need more of this kind of thinking, not less. In 2017, political scientists Mark Stewart and John Mueller published a detailed evaluation of airport security measures based on the cost to implement and the benefit in terms of lives saved. They concluded that most of what our government does either isn’t effective at preventing terrorism or is simply too expensive to justify the security it does provide. Others might disagree with their conclusions, but their analysis provides enough detailed information to have a meaningful argument.

The more we politicize security, the worse we are. People are generally terrible judges of risk. We fear threats in the news out of proportion with the actual dangers. We overestimate rare and spectacular risks, and underestimate commonplace ones. We fear specific “movie-plot threats” that we can bring to mind. That’s why we fear flying over driving, even though the latter kills about 35,000 people each year — about a 9/11’s worth of deaths each month. And it’s why the idea of the TSA eliminating security at minor airports fills us with fear. We can imagine the plot unfolding, only without Bruce Willis saving the day.

Very little today is immune to politics, including the TSA. It drove most of the agency’s decisions in the early years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That the TSA is willing to consider politically unpopular ideas is a credit to the organization. Let’s let them perform their analyses in peace.

This essay originally appeared in the Washington Post.

(Via Schneier on Security – emphasis above is mine)

Bruce knows at least as much about this as anyone outside of TSA, and one can argue more than most inside. I always appreciate his analysis.

How to Say “Happy Birthday” in 25 Different Languages:

Happy Birthday in Japanese: お誕生日おめでとうございます (Otanjoubi Omedetou Gozaimasu)

“Congratulations on your birthday!” In Japan, they celebrate Shichi-Go-San, which literally means 7-5-3. These are lucky numbers and children go to a Shinto shrine on 15th November if they had a lucky birthday that year. They pray and give thanks for their good health and strength. All children go when they are three years old, boys when they are five, and girls when they are seven.

(Via Fluent in 3 months – Language Hacking and Travel Tips)

Odds are good that I will get to say this to my son in Japan later this year when he comes to visit. The trip is my present to him (and me ☺️).

Can you travel to Japan if you’re disabled?:

OFTEN, people with disabilities or the elderly folk find it hard to travel due to the lack of facilities and services.

But with more and more people seeking good accessibility, companies are leveling up and going barrier-free to accommodate these travelers.

According to The World Bank, one billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

And of that figure, more than 26 million adults with disabilities travel for pleasure and/or business, taking 73 million trips, according to an Open Doors Organization (ODO) study.

For many, language is already a barrier. Accessibility shouldn’t be another.

(Via Travel Wire Asia)

Train stations in Japan are the worst by far for the disabled. Elevators are inconveniently placed, many stairs don’t include escalators or wheelchair lifts, and there is no physical barrier at most platforms preventing someone from falling on the tracks (though that is rapidly changing.

However, Japan has several advantages for the disabled. For example, there is almost universal walking guides for the blind, audible signals for crossings, and train station agents wearing white gloves will help anyone who needs it. The further one gets outside of the metropolises the less these measures are in place.

Read the article for the whole story. I’m curious if you have a story about this you’d like to share. If so, please do so on your social network of choice and link to this post.

Government Spying While You’re Flying Is Getting Worse: Reason Roundup:

It’s not just federal employees who are spying while you’re flying. The Department of Homeland Security has been training airline and airport staff on how to “spot the signs” of human trafficking, with a list about as asinine and broad as the above TSA criteria. So far, this has led to an array of travelers getting harassed and detained because some airline attendant had a “hunch” that interracial families are probably human traffickers.

The latest example, told in full absurdist splendor by the Daily Mail, involves Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant Wesley Hirata informing the authorities that there was an Asian man with three Caucasian girls on a flight. The Mail calls Hirata and her colleagues “heroes” for “alerting cops to [a] human trafficking suspect who boarded a flight with three young girls.”

Two of the “young girls” were adults. The FBI investigated and found no evidence of anything bad going on. “Regardless,” the Mail reports, “Hirata has said he’s pleased” with himself for calling the FBI on some totally innocent travelers.

(Via Hit & Run)

Sadly, this is only one of many ridiculous examples. There are valid, useful ways to address human trafficking on airplanes. Giving flight attendants criteria that basically describes “people” and then celebrating them for being wildly wrong is not one of them.

I am correcting one of my sins – I need to get out of Tokyo into Japan.

I want to visit more of Japan. Kiushu, specifically Yufuin for the onsen, is definitely on my list.

Japanese friends, please weigh in on where I should go, when I should visit, and where I should stay. Once I book my trip I will again reach out to find out where to visit.

I want a mix of multiple days as well as quick trips.

Please help me. I appreciate your knowledge and advice.

Tonight I’m staring down the barrel of 2018 in the same seat I occupied 365 days ago. I’m 13.5 months into my Japan stay. I don’t do resolutions, but I have some notes:

  • I forgot or didn’t realize how much Tokyo empties out over New Year’s. Next year I want to plan a trip to a non-Japan and non-US destination.
  • I still don’t own a bicycle. It’s the perfect example of a Sunday night sudden recollection. I’ve added it to my task list for next week.
  • I want to get back to a destination every weekend. I’ve been content getting all “hygge” lately. That’s fine, but I can get cozy anywhere.
  • I want to add the dimension of traveling outside of Tokyo at least once a month. I intended to in the second half of last year but failed to plan adequately.
  • I’m in a rut as to restaurants, pubs, and haunts. I should set up some SMART goals to mix things up more.

I’m looking forward to starting Japanese classes in January. I get a reset-of-sorts at work which will be interesting. I might even host some of my friends at my house for a get together in January.

There is one thing resolution-ish in my wish list for 2018: I want to do nothing that I will regret.