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Ever take a trip with your spouse or significant other, and suddenly find yourself "in the mood" at 20,000 feet? You may want to keep that affection in check. Some guy from California might go to jail for getting it on with his girlfriend in the air.
Carl William Persing has been convicted of interfering with flight attendants and crew members after he and his girlfriend "made other passengers uncomfortable" by "kissing" and "embracing." After they asked him to take his tongue out of his girlfriend's mouth, Persing got miffed, threatened the attendants -- twice -- and found himself in an awkward conversation with FBI officials upon arrival in North Carolina.
Sounds like he was acting like a jerk, so fair enough. I know I wouldn't want to watch anyone suck face -- let alone when I'm stuck with them for a cross-country flight. But because it all happened on an airplane, Persing was breaking federal law, and has thus been convicted of a federal felony -- which means he'll probably serve jail time.
Wow. I can only imagine the conversation with other inmates while he's in the slammer.
"Why are you in here?"
"I robbed a bank. What about you?"
"I. Uh. Made out with my girlfriend on an airplane."
Doesn't exactly make him sound like a force to be reckoned with.
If there's one thing common to all adventure travelers, it's the drive to overcome adversity. One British man exemplifies this spirit -- flying 13,500 miles from London to Sydney even though he's completely blind.
Under the supervision of a sighted co-pilot, Miles Hilton-Baber took to the skies for 59 days in a microlight aircraft, competing with snowstorms, freezing temperatures, and torrential downpours. When the trip was completed, not only had Hilton-Barber fulfilled a life-long dream, but he'd also raised a possible $2 million for Seeing is Believing -- a charity that works to prevent blindness in developing countries.
And if you think that's impressive, you should also know that he's climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Blanc, run marathons in the Sahara and Gobi deserts, and made an attempt at the South Pole. This man is proof that people really can do anything they set their mind to.
In the old days, if you wanted to be a flight attendant, you had to be young, single and slim. That's how things were when Iris Peterson got her start back in 1946. But during her more than 60 years in the airline industry, the world's #1 Flight Attendant fought to end that kind of discrimination. Now, at age 85, she's finally retiring.
Most of her work was through the Association of Flight Attendants -- the attendants' workers' union. In 1953 she became the first official lobbyist for the organization (then called the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association), and she quickly set to work changing policy. Not only did she see the repeal of archaic regulations -- such as the one requiring that stewardesses had to leave the job when they got married -- but also worked toward increased safety on airplanes, especially when engineers were creating the world's first jumbo jet.
In fact, many of the things we take for granted on modern airplanes were directly affected by Peterson.
I'm always amazed when I read about people with such a passion and dedication to their careers. I wonder, how many travelers never realized they were flying with an industry legend?
While it may seem obvious, it's worth noting that the best experiences I have while exploring cities around the world are never to do with what's there -- museums, important landmarks, etc -- but instead revolve around how the place makes me feel.
One artist is making it easy for travelers like me, by making maps based not on an area's geography, but rather on the emotions evoked by different areas within an urban landscape.
It works like this: volunteers agree to wander around a city while wearing both a GPS device and a sensor similar to that which is used in lie detector tests. Their thoughts on what they saw and felt when the polygraph recorded a quickened heartbeat are then recorded by the artist, who in turn uses the information to create "emotional maps."
As you might suspect, a number of marketing and advertising companies want to use the findings to better target consumers, but the most interesting find -- at least for me -- is that people respond to social interactions far more than any piece of architecture. This means you're far more likely to connect with a city full of interesting people, rather than someplace that has impressive buildings or attractive landscapes.
Might be useful information for the next time you're planning that urban getaway, although -- at least for the moment -- London and San Francisco are the only cities the artist has completed.
Let's pretend you're in a relationship where gender roles are traditionally defined. Sick and tired of feeling obedient to her husband, and blindly accepting his every arbitrary decision, the woman finally cries "I wish, just once, you could walk a day in my shoes, buster! Then you'd know what I have to put up with!"
Now, thanks to a rather odd initiative by the Chinese government, you can make that dream a reality.
The country is building the world's first "women's town" -- a place where women run everything, and men get punished for disobedience. With a motto of "women never make mistakes, and men can never refuse women's requests," the town claims to be emulating the traditional male/female dynamic in the areas of Sichuan province and Chongqing, but appears to be more about having fun with a novel gimmick (or just putting men in their place).
So, by 2008 (or so), tour groups will be able to enter the town, and women in the group will immediately be given total control. They chose where to go shopping, where to eat, where to stay, and any man who disagrees is punished by washing dishes or "kneeling on an uneven board."
Sounds like this is where Chinese men are heading every time they forget an anniversary.
Ever been on safari, and wished you could get up close and personal with animals? Normally that'd be too dangerous, but one German performance artists has found a novel solution for keeping himself self while out in the elements.
He's protected by a giant ball of steel wire. Not only that, the design of the ball allows him to move at will -- propelling himself and the contraption simply by shifting his weight in a walking motion.
It's part of a 220-mile publicity stunt to raise awareness for those who need psychiatric help. Seems a little random, but according to Arnd Drossel, the artist: "the whole concept is about finding the courage to do something and inspire courage in those who have lost their confidence along with much else."
Drossel envisioned the idea after suffering a personal low, and realizing how little help there was for people in bouts with depression. So he enlisted the help of psychiatric patients around the area to build his unique traveling device, then set off at a pace of nearly 13 miles a day.
If nothing else, it certainly appears to have the tigers' attention.
Now there's yet another reason for Britain-bound travelers to celebrate -- a new sexual "theme park" is has opened in London.
In tourist-friendly Piccadilly Circus, you'll find Amora, a "love and relationship academy" featuring exhibits that explore every aspect of sexuality, from flirting to fetishes.
After a jaunt though the erotic attraction, you can wander into nearby Soho -- which not only is home to great bars, restaurants and jazz clubs, but also the city's renowned red light district. And -- while I wouldn't normally admit this, but seeing as it's pertinent -- I can personally vouch for at least one of the district's adult-themed stores. In what has been, as of yet, my only experience with a "sex shop," I entered one of the Soho's sleazier establishments at the tender age of 15, and...
Well, we'll just say it was an eye-opener.
But, at least according to an Amora spokeswoman, sleaze is the last thing you'll find at the new erotic museum, which aims to inform the more high-brow sexual connoisseur.
Seems worth a visit -- as, by the sounds of it, you might even learn a thing or two.
There's plenty of reasons to visit Amsterdam -- the people, the culture, the beautiful, walkable city -- but let's get real: the place is famous for its coffee shops, where patrons come to sit back, relax, and smoke a couple doobies. But like other European countries, the Netherlands is considering a ban on smoking tobacco in restaurants, cafes and bars -- so will this signal the end for the country's pot-smoking tourist traffic?
The answer, in short, seems to be no. Namely, because the clientele at these establishments aren't actually smoking tobacco. Those who like to smoke their marijuana mixed with tobacco (a circumstance in which the ban probably would apply), will most likely get around the restriction simply by mixing their dope with something else. "You can bring parsley or old socks if you want, cut them here and smoke them, nobody will say anything," one Dutch politician and coffee shop owner told Reuters News.
A ban -- which could go into effect at the beginning of 2008 -- might even mean good news for the makers and distributors of marijuana smoking paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, or other oddball contraptions potheads have dreamed up for the sake of improving their high.
So don't worry, it looks Amsterdam's tourists will be getting stoned wherever they like for the foreseeable future.
I remember when my family first moved from the US to the UK, one off the most obvious -- and most difficult -- parts of culture shock was driving on the opposite side of the road. There's a number of little things that make this a challenge -- for example, it's hard to know where the left front corner of your car is in relation to where you're sitting in the driver's seat. This issue led to a couple awkward explanations at the rental car place.
However, far more troubling is when you have a mental lapse, revert to old habits, and drive on the wrong side altogether (which is surprisingly easy to do when there's no oncoming traffic).
It appears Americans aren't the only ones who space out while behind the wheel. Brits driving in France are apparently having considerable trouble remembering to drive on the right side of the road, as opposed to left as they've grown accustom. So much so, that police in a small town in northern France have launched a poster campaign to remind motorists to drive on the appropriate side.
They hope that by covering the town in English-language posters that read: "For your safety, keep right on French roads," they can prevent additional tourist-related traffic deaths (there have been 2 in the last 2 years in this town alone).
Now if they could just explain how round-a-bouts work, I think we'll be in business.
Yesterday I posted about tickets going on sale for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Understandably, China wants to make a good impression on the hordes of international travelers who will descend upon their country. In an effort to control that impression, the government has made a 12-item self-improvement list for cabdrivers.
So, if you travel to Beijing for the games, you can be sure your cabdrivers won't smoke, spit or overcharge. Women won't wear big earrings or have red hair, and men's hair will be kept short. They'll also always use their meter, or they'll run the risk of losing their license.
On the one hand, I feel sorry for cabbies who are having their appearance micro-managed by the Chinese government, but on the other, taking a taxi in a country you're not familiar with -- especially when your language isn't commonly spoken -- can be daunting. Travelers who are confident they can make their way around the city -- without being taken for the proverbial ride -- are far more likely to enjoy their stay.
That being said, what does the government have against red hair?
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