I can’t believe I forgot to write about the Australian.

There was an Australian couple walking near me. They chatted a lot about inane topics such as viral videos and who knew their best friends the longest and wouldn’t it be neat if a monkey would climb on one of us.

The monkey park is clear that this last bit of inane chatter is best left as is. Don’t look them in the eye, don’t feed them, and don’t be a dick.

Well, the couple opted for a more liberal approach, coxing a monkey up on the man’s head. It was a cute Instagram moment, to be sure.

Then the monkey proceeded to dig into the backpack pockets. Cute!

Then the monkey proceeded to unzip the other pockets and pull things out. Monkeys do this. And they like shiny objects.

The man decided to drop his backpack and the monkey on the ground, pockets spilling all over the pavement.

The monkey decided to grab the couple’s scooter keys and run off into the park.

Cheeky monkey!

Oh, in case you care about the Australian couple and if they got their keys back … I had so little invested after the monkey skedattled that I didn’t follow up beyond pointing them to the closest park ranger.

I flew through Taipei from Tokyo to Bali.

I want to spend more time in Taipei. From what I saw from taxis and my hotel, it’s my kind of town.

Speaking of taxis: when I got mine from the stand at the airport, I asked if he takes credit cards. They said he did and off I went.

Guess what? He does, but doesn’t like to. I had no Taiwanese currency, only Yen and Dollars. He tried to get his machine to work, cursing at it or me or both. Eventually he got so pissed off he threw me and my bags out and took off.

His taxi? It had stickers for all the major credit cards.

My brief stay at the DoubleTree Hilton was fantastic. I’m looking forward to my return.

The airport there is great if a too spread out – some kind of tram system would help.

Here are some pictures to set the mood.

Oh, yeah. And “Hello, Kitty”.

Landing at Denpasar airport, one is treated to a 2-4 hour wait to pass immigration – in line, standing, with little guidance as to if you’re even in the correct spot.

Over 60? There’s a special line for you. Disabled? Special line. Traveling with small kids? Technically there’s no special line but … Yes, there’s a special line.

Not one of those? Enjoy your temporary limbo.

There are two hints as to why the lines are so long: all the flights seem to arrive in the same time window and there are too few agents processing. The agents will get up and walk away with no warning. They do not return.

After clearing immigration there’s the standard baggage claim where your luggage has been siting unattended for hours. I checked nothing so passed on to customs.

Me and everyone else flagged for secondary scanning had light luggage. It was fast but another delay to my vacation.

It’s a gauntlet to get from customs to the taxi area. If you don’t have a driver waiting for you with a sign, there are any number of aggressive men offering their taxi services. Assuming you follow the few signs and get to where the actual official taxi desk sits, you will negotiate the cost for your ride.

My driver was nice and the right one for that moment in my life. I was sleep deprived and tired from queuing. He pointed out where things are and, other than some stilted English chatter, left me to see Bali from the back of his cab.

Things got interesting when we approached Ubud, the town near where I am staying. His navigation ability (no GPS unit) went only so far. To get the last kilometer required a combination of my Apple Maps and better night vision (something that disturbed me greatly to learn). We managed to get to my resort a mere 6 hours after I landed. Sadly, Google Maps is measurably better, so I installed it.

The room at the Karma Mayura resort is nice. It’s a bit spartan but the perfect fit for my digital detox. I grabbed some food and a beer from the restaurant and then crashed in my room.

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.