My summer vacation: London public transportation
> The two main forms of mass transit are the tube and buses. Passes are good for both systems, except where noted. There aren’t many options, which is good, because it makes decision-making easier. I’ll start by focusing on tickets for zones 1 and 2, which is where the major tourist attractions are. Prices are as of summer 2019.
A visit to the Large Scale Systems Museum
> I didn’t expect to find two floors filled with vintage computers in a sleepy town outside Pittsburgh. But that’s the location of the Large Scale System Museum, housed in an abandoned department store. The ground floor of this private collection concentrates on mainframes and minicomputers from the 1970s to 1990s featuring IBM, Cray, and DEC systems, along with less common computers. Amazingly, most of these vintage systems are working. Upstairs, the museum is filled with vintage home computers from the pre-PC era.
St. Helena Airport
> Your average flight from Washington, D.C. to St. Helena Island, located in one of the most remote parts of the world, would be a very arduous affair, a flight that would take nearly two full days, and at least three distinct layovers along the way—first in Ghana, then in Johannesburg, then a refueling stop in Namibia—before you got to your destination. If there’s a delay at any of the three stops, it might compromise the entire trip, because if you don’t make your connecting flight, you’re screwed. And once you’re there, you’re not leaving for a while. I’m endlessly fascinated by these far-off connections, these obscure airports that few people would ever think to travel to—and St. Helena is somehow more hopelessly obscure than the rest. But you’re going to know a lot about it by the time you finish reading today’s Tedium. Strap in—we’re talking about odd airports.
Vitamin drips and cryotherapy at Manhattan’s Equinox Hotel
> So began an unusual stay at the first luxury hotel to grow out of a cultish New York gym. Soon to follow would be other health-enhancing treats, including a deep-tissue massage with CBD oil and a flash freeze in a cryotherapy chamber at minus 100C (minus 150C, if you include wind-chill).
The Stranding of the MV Shokalskiy
> Mawson’s experience distills the Victorian age of Antarctic exploration to its essence, combining an unbelievable personal fortitude with the overall pointlessness of the endeavor. Even by Antarctic standards, George V Land was unexciting. The best thing you can say about it today is that sometimes a meteorite lands there.
> But Mawson left behind a hut, and by the iron laws of Antarctic nostalgia that apply to any human structure below the 70th parallel, that hut is now an object of veneration, and must be visited.
> In 2011, the Australian climate scientist Chris Turney heard the call of the Antarctic. As readers of this blog know, that can be an expensive call to hear. But the approaching centenary of Mawson’s expedition gave Turney a unique fundraising hook.
And then things went a bit sideways.
The New York City passport office
> The New York passport office. Wow. Where to begin?
> My other visit here was thirty years ago, and most of all I am surprised by how little has changed. The architecture now looks all the more retro, the alleyways all the more noir, and the motorbikes have by no means vanished. Yes there are plenty of new stores, but overall it is recognizably the same city, something you could not say about Seoul.
Expedia: from software bug to customer service nightmare, a modern Odyssey
> Instead of keeping an account and my data private, Expedia created a fake account. Instead of deleting the fake account, Expedia deleted both accounts. Instead of reactivating the account I had to create a new account. Instead of adding points to the new account, Expedia deleted the new account again. After 30+ interactions over two months with the massively incompetent support, I lost about 10,000 points, my status, but received $75 and 3000 points (about $100 total) in compensation. Go Expdia!
Mirrored Ceilings and Criss-Crossed Stairwells Give a Chinese Bookstore the Feeling of an M.C. Escher Woodcut
> Zhongshuge bookstores, designed by Shangai-based architecture firm X+Living, feature incredible rooms coveted by book and illusion lovers alike. Each location in this chain of Chinese bookstores has uniquely designed spaces with reflective elements that immerse guests in parallel environments. In the Chongqing branch, criss-crossing staircases and a mirrored ceiling double the room for an effect that seems straight out of an M.C. Escher woodcut or an infinite Indian stepwell.
Rain Much on Your Vacation? One Italian Island Offers Hotel Refunds
> But beginning this month, the Italian island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany, started offering tourists an unexpected guarantee: Hotels will refund guests if it rains.
For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene
> My first culinary encounter was with pizza, a mysterious kind of baked tlayuda, covered in macerated tomatoes and milk coagulation, and occasionally smothered with a type of thinly sliced lap cheong called pepperoni. The odd dish, sometimes referred to as a pie, washed ashore from Naples some years ago. While the taste takes some getting used to, pizza can be enchanting when done properly.
> Look no further than Roberta’s in up-and-coming Brooklyn, a dangerous, brooding suburb accessible through the city’s antiquated system of underground metal cars (similar to Los Angeles’ Metro system, but more expensive). It was, nevertheless, worth the arduous trip to enjoy a Lil’ Stinker pizza ($18), covered in tomato mash and curdled milk, along with garlic and tangy peppers.
Airbnb and Miami Beach Are at War. Travelers Are Caught in the Crossfire.
> “It came as a shock,” Airbnb says in its lawsuit, that the city “expected home-sharing platforms to comply both with the registration-number display requirements and the geofencing provision.”
Robot Hotel Loses Love for Robots
> Turns out, robots aren’t the best at hospitality. After opening in a blaze of publicity in 2015, Japan’s Henn na, or “Strange,” Hotel, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s first robot hotel, is now laying off its low-performing droids. So far, the hotel has culled over half of its 243 robots, many because they created work rather than reduced it.
The Man in Seat 61
> This site explains how to travel comfortably & affordably by train or ferry where you might think air was now the only option.
Gluten Free Antarctica
> Far below the Antarctic circle, I watch a woman cry real tears because she can’t get gluten-free toast.
> Mary is a plummy old English lady traveling alone, an Agatha Christie figure who I expected would spend her time solving mysteries on the ship. When people started disappearing in the Ross Sea, Mary would work the case and gather everyone in the ship’s saloon for the spectacular reveal.
> Unfortunately, Mary turned out to be a bit of a shipboard bully, bad-talking the other passengers instead of helping to solve their murders. But I am still not ready to see her go to pieces over toast.
When a Chain Breaks
> What a blogger learned from a year of traveling to restaurants that used to be part of much larger chains before being forced to fend for themselves.
Tourism is Changing the Face of Iceland
> With tourism growing 500% in Iceland over the past decade, western tourists have placed higher demands on the country than it’s been capable of adsorbing without affecting the country’s foundations. While the economy in Reykjavik has no doubt experienced a boost, this has come at the expense of cultural and geographical changes that are not necessarily welcome by many Icelanders.
Who’s Murdering Residents of the Blustery Faroe Islands? Crime Writers
> But Jens Jensen, a veteran detective in this isolated North Atlantic nation, was perplexed. Tjørnuvík? “It’s a very quiet village,” he said. “I don’t know of any murder happening there, or any crime happening there.”
Play the Forgotten Arcade Games of the Soviet Union
> The games aren’t just for entertainment—they also provide a window into Russia’s political history. While some were simplified versions of Japanese and American arcade games, every machine was required to align with Soviet ideology. Fantasy games were forbidden in favor of games that promoted “real-world” skills that the government thought would train the next generation of the Soviet military. The games were even created in military factories, which meant the manuals were classified documents. This made repairs and maintenance especially difficult after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Carnival Scam Science and how to win
> Summary: I collected data at the carnival for a full day. Then I used that information to figure out which games are the biggest scams using science to analyze them and show you how to beat them. I also figured out how much the carnival actually pays for the prizes so even if you win, you lose. And then I visited the carnival with my professional baseball playing buddy to dominate all the games. It worked well.