Heartbroken about Notre Dame

That picture of the cathedral is from my last trip to Paris last year. I’ve been in Notre Dame once on my first trip. It’s a stunning work of architecture that was started in 1160. I’m not religious and it didn’t speak to me on a spiritual level, but always touched me on an artistic and historic level whenever I would pass by. It’s just a sad day to see her engulfed in flames. I hope that there were no injuries and that the walls and facade are able to be saved. The spire falling is just terribly sad.

(I deleted a post about my travel plans to Ireland for now. It didn’t seem right keeping that post up as Notre Dame is burning.)

Outrage as cafe in Venice charges £38 for water and two coffees

I think that coffee prices are regulated in Italy as long as you drink it at the bar. If you sit down then they can charge whatever they want. It’s one of the things I don’t like about the coffee culture there. I much prefer sitting down in a cafe then downing a cup while standing up. But when in Rome (or Venezia in this case).

A cafe customer in Venice who was stunned when presented with a €43 (£38) bill for two coffees and two bottles of water has prompted a social media outcry.

Juan Carlos Bustamente, a 62-year-old political campaigner who lives in Italy, shared a photo of his receipt from Caffe Lavena in the notoriously pricy St Mark’s Square on Facebook last week, where it was shared nearly 10,000 times and attracted worldwide media attention.
lavena outside

The steep bill was a result of the surcharge the famed eaterie collects from customers seated outside in what is regarded as the sunniest corner of the piazza, opposite the extravagant façade of St Mark’s Basilica, where they can listen to the orchestras that play there.

A spokesman for Lavena pointed out that this extra fee is stated on the menu, and that a coffee at the bar inside costs just €1.25 (£1.12).

New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material

Because keeping track of your shoes, wallet, cellphone, belt, jacket, laptop, carry-on bag, identification, and a plastic bag of your liquids (no more than 1 oz each or whatever it is now) while being irradiated and groped by TSA wasn’t enough of a hassle:

The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns.

Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said that “we might, and likely will” apply the policy nationwide. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” he told Fox News. The policy may also apply to food items.

The rationale for the policy change given by Kelly and the TSA is that the imposition of growing fees for checked baggage by the airlines has prompted passengers to more densely pack their carry-ons, and that this has made it harder for screeners to identify particular items amid the jumble of images appearing on their screens. Laptops must already be pulled out separately because they are regarded as a heightened threat and can be better examined if they are not scanned in a bag with many other objects. It is not clear to me whether books are also regarded as a special threat or whether they are hard for the TSA to distinguish from explosives. I do know from a tour I was given of the TSA’s testing facility a few years ago that the scanners highlight items that are especially dense, and items that are organic (since explosives are made of organic, i.e. carbon-based, matter). That’s probably why the agency thinks it would speed things along to pull out food and books.

Back Home


Had an amazing time in D.C. We were only there for three days so it was a bit of a whirlwind. I won’t bore you with most of the details but here are some of the highlights.


We did the usual monuments, the Capitol (the rotunda was closed though) but the Holocaust Museum really left a mark. It was extremely powerful and laid out in a magnificent manner. I almost didn’t put this on the itinerary because we were in D.C. such a short time that I didn’t want to add something this depressing, but it made an emotional impact and I’m glad that we did it.


Shrimp and grits from Founding Farmers

Thanks to everyone who suggested Founding Farmers. The food was delicious with a lot of flavors. I would have gone back but we were only there for three days and I hate trying the same restaurant twice on the same trip. The other restaurant we tried and really enjoyed was Old Ebbitt’s Grill. Good food, not too expensive and really good ambience. It was also packed to the gills. Definitely make a reservation if you want to go.


Nestled in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel near the White House is a wonderful lounge called Off The Record which we discovered from Yelp when the bar we were at was kind of dead. They made great cocktails (pictured above is their daiquiri), and perfect little snacks to go along with it. Highly recommend.


And now, much like the glass above, vacation is over. I guess we have a lot to cover. Alright, let’s begin.

Bundle Packing For Wrinkle Free Clothes


Photo from http://dianstimpanalley.blogspot.com/2012/07/hair-cut.html

Going to try this. It’s either genius or I’m going to look like this after unpacking.


So not that much ironing was involved. It’s not a bad method except my t shirts were all in the center so I had to unwrap everything to get to them. Next time I would leave at least one on the outside.