Crowd Reporting – Speed of Information in the Digital Age

Crowd reporting – it is real and happening all around us – whether the traditional media likes it or not…Pundits argue on its objectivity, but I believe many of us encounter it very frequently.

I was at the DFW (Dallas-Ft.Worth) international airport recently (less than a week ago) waiting for my flight in the Admirals’ Club — it was an early morning and the club was filling up with the business traveler crowd quickly…As I was waiting all of sudden a distant smoke caught my attention — it looked like something was burning at the edge of one of the runaways.

Dallas Admirals Club View of Runaway

By the time I decided to get closer to the windows in an attempt to see what was going on, a crowd of people with smart phones poised to take pictures had already gathered.  Soon enough we decided that this was most likely a training exercise of the local fire department as we can see a whole bunch of emergency vehicles and a badly burnt (from many such exercises we figured) air plane frame.   So all was well – no need to sound the alarms.

What amazed me though was the speed with which people gathered, camera phones went out and everyone was ready to record and report…

Which makes me wonder – can information nowadays travel any faster…Has this been a real emergency – the photos and information would have gone out to the community within minutes…

All in all, I believe this proves how powerful community information sharing and exchange can be and that we are really living in a digital age of information…


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Continuing to Add to This Blog’s Photo Library

I have always stated that travel and photography are very much intertwined.  It is important to provide descriptions and guidance to our readers on the special aspects of a given place around the world, but inevitably, photos from the described locations provide a lot more or at least additional insight.

Therefore I have been trying to organize a large library of photo albums from the places this blog talks about.

The newest addition to the library are albums from my several visits to Antwerp – a beautiful and history rich Belgian city – which of course I highly recommend visiting.


Belgium Antwerp
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Airline Secrets – Being Bumped on a Flight and Your Rights

Many of you have probably experienced the situation where you (and many fellow passengers) are waiting for your flight only to hear that the flight is oversold and the airline is looking for volunteers with flexible schedules to give up their seats in return for a later flight and a voucher for ‘free’ travel within the next year…

There are several things that you need to be aware of in this situation – per the US Department of Transportation:

  1. The airlines are allowed to overbook / oversell the capacity of their flights.
  2. If the airline gets you to your final destination within 1 hour of the original arrival time, there is no compensation required
  3. If the airline arranges for you to get to your final destination between 1 and 2 hours after the original arrival time (for domestic flights) and within 4 hours for international flights, the airline must compensate you with amount equal to 200% of the one way fare to that destination on that day up to $650 maximum
  4. If the amount of time exceeds the hours listed in 3 above or the airlines does not arrange for alternate flights – then your compensation jumps to 400% of the fare or $1300 maximum

Now comes the key secret many of us (me included until recently) are not aware of – the primary form of compensation is expected to be a check!  Not a voucher for a future flight – as it is usually advertised and offered by the airline…!

In other words – we are entitled to cash rather than a voucher which you will find very difficult to use in many cases…

The airline is allowed to offer you a voucher / free tickets – but You have the right to demand a check if that is your preference.

airport runway

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Chinese New Year: Interesting Statistics to Help You Learn More About China

Well folks, the Chinese New Year celebrations are (almost) behind us.  In previous posting here I provided a brief view of the Year of the Goat, and some statistics associated with this huge holiday.  In today’s posting, I would like to add some interesting statistics I have come across in searches on the Web – and leverage those as a way for all of us to build up more understanding of the customs and habits associated with the Chinese New Year.

The first stop along the road of fact discovery is one that compares the US Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year.   Can you tell “Huge Order of Magnitude” difference…

Infographic: How Chinese New Year Compares With Thanksgiving | Statista

Then we need to look at how people spend their money in order to get a feel for what drives nowadays customs.  Sure, you can talk about ancient practices but money speaks loud…So here is the next infographic

Infographic: Chinese new year: how people spend their money | Statista

Amazing, right… Huge RMB-amount spent on the event itself and associated gifts.  Now you can understand how important this holiday is and why China essentially comes to a stop during its duration.

Here are a few stats more – courtesy of The Independent


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Chinese New Year Approaching Fast

Chinese New Year in 2015 falls on February 19th — and on that date we will go into the Year of the Goat.  I get the question very often – what year will be this year? The year of __?

So to that effect here are the two things:  2015=Year of the Goat,

Year of the Goat

and a pictogram I found on the web that shows the alignment of the Chinese Zodiac

Chinese Zodiac Years

The Chinese New Year is certainly the biggest holiday on Earth – why?  Because of the sheer number of people who celebrate it, take action due to it and take a huge number of trips as a result of it.  In China and other parts of the world, people celebrate the event by having family gatherings.  It is THE norm to have the extended families travel thousands of miles to get to their ancestral homes and bring everyone together.  To that effect the holiday creates the biggest migration of people on Earth (I think).

Talking with friends and reading in the media, the holiday travel is characterized with the following statistics:

  • In preparation for the travel needed, train ticket sales reach over 1000 tickets sold per SECOND!
  • Chinese authorities expect approximately 2.8 BILLION trips to be taken around the festival
  • Expected close to 1B people on the move
  • The amazing view was the image from Baidu Maps – which showed the location based requests from mobile phone registered users in China – the image shows the intensity of travel associated with the holiday last year….Expect the same and MORE this year…

Chinese New year 2014


Posted in Living in Beijing, Living in China, Observations | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Carlsbad Caverns – Spectacular and Worth the Visit

Continuing with my previous article, in going to the Carlsbad Caverns we accomplished two goals – visit and see a spectacular set of natural wonders in the Caverns, as well as experience the open West Texas – my previous photo blog posting.

So, now, let’s talk about Carlsbad Caverns.  You could probably find plenty of documents describing in all sort of details the Caverns, so in this my posting, I will rely on the full effect of the photographs I am posting in this article

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West Texas – Open Skies, Open Road, …

Well, I have been thinking for a while to publish some of the photographs from a special set of events – our family trip to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.  I will post selected photos across two entries today and later on the weekend.  We will start with the road and views from West Texas.

As you can tell from the “big crowds” on the highways in West Texas are amazing… So, without further delay, here is

Next posting will actually be from the Carlsbad Caverns – and the weird formations in those (among many) caves.

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Florida Keys – A Photo Summary

Let me see if I can make a post just by setting up a long photo gallery of….yes, you guessed it as the title states, the Florida Keys – although this is more of the various spots along the way between the various keys….No other description :-)

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Big Bend National Park – More Views

Well, folks I had published before about the Big Bend National Park - and then I realized I have quite a few photos more.    So here they are now in this new update — and what a better way to describe the beauty of the park but a photo blog  / album


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Bangalore Palace

Here is a quick summary overview of a unique site in the city of Bangalore – the Bangalore Palace.  Now that you have figured out how to get the most cost effective and comfy seat on the plane for your next long haul trip, it is time to leverage that for a trip to distant India and one of its most dynamic cities – Bangalore.

Turns out, while the city has an incredible concentration of high tech companies and a huge brain trust powering the activities of a large number of multinational and Indian companies, one can also experience a step back in time to the days of the Maharajas – the royals of the Bangalore / Mysore.

The palace is large and very ornate and as I usually like to highlight — best described in photos – so enjoy below the set provided from my recent trip to Bangalore.  One word of caution – to set expectations – the palace is large but not massive.  At the end of the day, it offers a unique glimpse into the lives of many generations who have ruled the province.

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