Las Vegas – a City of Opposites

Everyone (I think) knows Las Vegas – however, I believe the know if for its gambling and lavish shows, huge hotels, endless buffets, and overall a city which never sleeps, and has dedicated itself to all things entertainment…

On a recent trip in the area, I actually determined that this is a place of huge differences.  While we all know it as an entertainment and gambling hub, a glitzy city with modern architecture, please take a look at these photos – taken as we approach the Las Vegas airport (from the air of course) and then from several spots in the city – you will see how different the place is just outside the city and on the Strip…

Las Vegas Nevada

Las Vegas
Approaching Las Vegas

 

 

 

Las Vegas
Now above the city outskirts

 

Las Vegas
Approaching the Las Vegas Airport
Las Vegas Sky
Las Vegas Morning

Las Vegas Nevada

I will publish a photo album on Las Vegas and its surprising diversity in the next week or so,  till then hopefully the photos above give you the idea…

Interesting Photos from Recent Flights

Two weeks ago I flew Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Shanghai.   The flight is a very nice one – the flight attendants of Singapore Airlines really know what they are doing and as a result everyone on board felt very comfy.  I fly a lot – for personal and business reason – and as a result rack up around 150K – 200K miles per year on multiple European, N.American, and Asian airlines.   Singapore Airlines is certainly one of my favorite ones due to their impeccable service.

But now, back to the photos from the flights…Here we go – enjoy!

Optical effect of high speed

Clouds on Singapore flight Over Singapore

 

 

Shanghai Afternoon

Shanghai is an incredible city.  It has become a cosmopolitan metropolis no less so than New York City, San Francisco, or London.  Gone are the days of shabby buildings, blue Mao suits and bicycles everywhere.   Although, one could argue, that the bicycles may not be a bad idea in today’s hot economy as a strong measure to reduce smog and overall pollution as well as offer the Shanghai people another way to exercise…But about that some other time.

Shanghai-PorscheI lived in Shanghai between 1988 and 1991 – at the time the city was changing every six months – and now, eventhough I visit very frequently, I continue to be amazed at its progress, building of wealth, (here comes a zooming Porsche…..might as well be on the street of one of the US cities)…

 

 

Shanghai-Funny-Englishand the occasional funny English sign…Nothing like a restaurant advertising with its permanent neon lit name the ever appealing “Tomato girl rice…”

Hm… I am not sure I want to try that….but then we have seen more weird stuff.

Oh, well

 

The city skyline in Zhabei district is very interesting – here are some photos – you can enjoy and let me know if you want to see some photos of that skyline from the late 1980s…

Shanghai Shanghai-China-Train-Station Shanghai Train Station Shanghai-China China-Shanghai

 

TSA – Does It Abuse Its Power

TSA Rules or Abuse of Power

We all want to be safe when traveling.  I do believe that and follow the rules created by the TSA for what types of items are allowed in your carry on and checked in luggage.  I check the TSA Web site on a regular basis to make sure in my extensive travels (for business and with my family) both me and my family are in compliance.

Well, I had a rude awakening at the Chicago O’Hare airport this Friday afternoon.   I was on my way home after 2 weeks of travel through India and China.  While overseas, I had picked up some items – both several gifts as well as a plaque for my participation as a speaker in a conference.  I knew the plaque will generate additional inspection of my luggage so I was prepared for it, but what transpired was quite different.

As I went through TSA Pre-Check my bag was singled out for inspection – I expected that.  The TSA officer who was supposed to do the manual check of the bag disappeared as soon as my bag was set aside.   Very soon there were three passengers waiting in line.  The TSA officer at the screening machine kept shouting out “Bag check on 3” – but there was no one to hear him.   Very interesting….

Eventually, the TSA officer returned to the inspection station and brought in my bag.  He quickly asked me if I had any award plaques or something similar in my luggage – to which I responded with “Yes” and pointed to the compartment where the plaque was.  The officer obviously knew what he was looking for.  He inspected the plaque by taking it out of its box and proceeded to test it for chemicals.  All clear came and I thought I was ready to go…(that had happened at other checks on my way from India – e.g. in China)

Once that was done he proceeded to dig deeper in my luggage – next he picked up a gift I was carrying back to the States from India – actually Taiwanese origin as one of our business partners from Taiwan gave the gift to me while in Bangalore.   I had promised to bring the package – pineapple candy – back to our team in the States.

Taiwan-Pineapple-Cakes
Taiwan Pineapple Cakes in a gift box

The TSA officer asked me what the box was and when I described its nature and content, he proceeded to open it and started to paw thought its content.

Now, the box is full of individually wrapped candies, but still, what was the purpose of pawing through it???

This is where I started losing patience with the TSA officer.  Why?  Here is a long list of reasons:

  1. While the officer is supposed to be able to inspect any item in a travelers baggage, there is no reason to do so in a way which destroys the content of the item.  In my case, the officer cut through the packing of the candy box — why was that necessary???  He could have easily wiped the surface of the box with the cloth to be tested on his chemical analysis machine….
  2. Furthermore – There was no reason for him to paw through the individually wrapped candies.  Again, the officer / the TSA relies on chemical analysis by wiping the box, not on visual inspection of individually wrapped candies…
  3. Then comes the final item – to top it all off – the TSA Officer did not even change gloves before touching my items and furthermore touching the food.   He came to his station with gloves on.   Did not put new gloves before started handling my items and he DID NOT change the gloves before moving to the next person – after he was done with checking my items.

Taiwan-pineapple-candyI decided that this is beyond simple checking – the officer reached too far – so I called for a TSA supervisor.  First one supervisor showed up who kept telling me that the officer had the right to inspect my items as they detected a straight edge in my luggage.  No matter how many times I stated that this was not the reason I was voicing displeasure — I had no problem with checking the plaque which caused the issue – the problem I had was with destroying the commercially packaged candy…

Eventually, a second supervisor showed up – this new guy shocked me further – his reaction was “Get ready for more…!”   – he actually stated that in response to my description of why I was unhappy.   The first supervisor eventually took my complaint in and gave me a form to fill out.  The second one continued with statements to the effect of “we do what we have to do, you have no right to complain….”

Long story short, the TSA officers in some stations across the country certainly reach way over their responsibilities !    I say this based on my experience of going through different airports.   Eventhough, we should be able to bring food items (non-gels, non liquids) through security safely and without loss – some officers certainly do not understand the concept!

Cutting trough a box of candy which is wrapped as a present and pawing through food items like candy with gloves that have been trough several bags is not a safety inspection but a certain way to destroy food items / gifts.

My recommendation to the TSA:  Either post the requirements on your Web site and do not allow for any packaged food items to travel or better train your officers to respect the property of others.   I will certainly follow the rules, let’s just make sure they apply to both us, passengers and TSA personnel.

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