2012-12-31

Fly Montreal-Vancouver and get a free trip to Vegas!

Bellingham-Plattsburgh rt via Vegas (Allegiant):$314 ($434 with bag) + 2 hotel nights


Vancouver, Twice a Day
On the dates I checked in February, Allegiant flies 2 flights a day to Vegas from Bellingham (Vancouver)!

Montreal, Twice a Week
Allegiant's new Plattsburgh (Montreal) service to Vegas, in February, is only 2 times a week. Plattsburgh to Vegas on Monday and Thursday, Vegas to Plattsburgh on Wednesday and Sunday. As you can imagine, the Thursday and Sunday flights are the most expensive. 

No, Just No. No, No, No. Because No. 
Allegiant won't sell you a Bellingham-Plattsburgh ticket because they don't want to. However, if you like Vegas and want to spend a couple of nights there, you can include the city as part of your transcontinental travel.

Who Flies to Vegas, Stays in Vegas
On some days, the Bellingham-Vegas and Vegas-Plattsburgh flights match up nicely (in fact, so nicely I wonder if it is the same plane). However, if it isn't the same plane, you probably don't want to gamble that Allegiant will be on time. So, "unfortunately" you will need to book 2 nights in Vegas. That's a shame.

Baggage
Like Spirit, Allegiant charges for carry-on. You need a bag, but you would save $120 if you left it at home. Study the baggage policy for applicable loopholes. You'd also save $16 by using Visa Debit (although the site says US debit only, I think that is out of date). 

The Little Airport That Could
The bus between Plattsburgh and Montreal is $40, return. The airport is close to town, but the bus station is next to the highway. Figure $15 each way for a taxi. If you live near Montreal, you know about the cheap parking at Plattsburg airport. From Ottawa-Hawkesbury, don't forget about the brand new Island of Montreal avoiding Highway 30 ($1.50 each way). 

Bellingham Airport
The bus between Bellingham airport and Vancouver is also $40, and no taxi required. Bellingham airport also has a web site, but it is not bilingual

No Toronto For You
Although you can't use Vegas as your inconvenient hub for getting to Southern Ontario, you can use it for a surprising number of destinations. You can also use an other airline from Vegas (Normal or low cost Spirit,Southwest, Frontier). Just leave plenty of buffer time in Vegas

It's a Bombardier!

2012-12-28

Free News

Shortcut: http://j.mp/news2013
We don't pay for maps or encyclopedias any more, why should we pay for news or, worse, opinions?

Pay for news if you want, but I prefer to spend my money on food, rent and the occasional beer. 

Here is my list of free news (keep in mind you might end up buying what is being advertised):

World:
-The Guardian (London, England)
-The New York Times (just delete the part to the right of html in the address bar)
-The Wall Street Journal (just google the title of the article you want to read). 
-The Daily Mail (London, England)
-Page 3 Girls (Boobs from The Sun, UK)
-The Telegraph (London, England)

Maritimes:
-The Halifax Chronicle Herald
-CBC New Brunswick (for the CBC, your taxes may be at work)
-CBC Nova Scotia
-Radio-Canada Acadie (French, mostly New Brunswick)
 
Newfoundland
Quebec in French:
-Le Soleil (Quebe City)
-La Presse (Montreal)
-Le Droit (Ottawa-Gatineau)

Quebec in English:
-The Gazette (Montreal Region)
-Off Island News (Not Montreal, but close)
-West Island News (Not Montreal, but closer)

Ontario
-Ottawa Citizen
-Toronto Star

Alberta
-Fort McMurray (aka Fort McMoney, aka Wood Buffalo)

Entertainment News
-Lindsay Lohan (TMZ)
 

Alright, this got boring. I'll finish this later. I can't believe some people do this writing thing for a living all day. ;)

Please let me know if I added one of those 5 article max sites by accident.

-My TV 2012 list of links.
 
  1. Free online news era on its way out - CNN.com

    10 Dec 2012 – Howard Kurtz says newsgathering costs money, and outlets are trimming reporters and slipping behind paywalls to raise revenue.
  2. All Indian newspapers links - read free online news

    All Indian languages newspapers links Read India's Regional Newspaper's News without downloading their fonts in Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, Telugu, Malayalam, ...
  3. Online newspaper Index - The best online newspapers in all ...

    www.newspaperindex.com/
    List of Online Newspapers - The best online newspapers all countries - All onlinenewspapers are carefully selected, all have free access to todays breaking ...
  4. Thousands of Online Newspapers on the Web : World Newspaper ...

    www.onlinenewspapers.com/
    Listing of 10000 newspapers from around the world, searchable by country and then by publication.
  5. Watch Live tv news tv channels online free

    livetvchannelsfreein.net/news.html
    Watch your favorites Online TV tv channels live online free streming watch ddnews ,ndtvnews , zee news online free streaming , english news, bbc news, star ...



2012-12-24

Ski Lake Louise Now In Google Streetview

If this view isn't enough to get you to contact your travel agent, it should at least motivate you to connect your computer to your high definition television set.

It's a bit colder in real life and it is sometimes windy. But it is always that sunny. :)

When you are done with Lake Louise you can check out Sunshine and Whistler. If you don't know where they are, you can use Google Maps.
Hat tip, Google Maps blog.


View Larger Map

2012-12-22

$29.3 Million F1 Fraud, Texas Style

"State Comptroller Susan Combs has approved payment of $29.3 million from the state Major Events Trust Fund to organizers of November's Formula One race" 
[...]
"Under trust fund rules, the amount granted to the event organizers should be equal to the amount of additional tax revenues generated by the major event." (Austin Statesman, Dec 11, 2012)

There were 117,000 tickets sold for the Austin Circuit of the Americas (COTA) race weekend. You couldn't buy single day event tickets.

The sales tax in Texas is 6%. To generate $29.3 million in taxes would require $488,333,333.33 in spending. Divided by 117,000, that is $4173.79 in spending generated per ticket. That is simply impossible. It is fraud. Texas voters, and frankly, the police, should act accordingly.

The average rate for hotel rooms in Austin that weekend: $393.69. In San Antonio: $184.20.

So lets pretend every single ticket was sold to someone not residing in Texas. That they all decided to spend 3 nights in Austin and they all had their own room: $1181.07 average hotel spend. That still leaves $2992.72 to spend on ground transportation, food and tickets. Likely? Impossible. 

2012-12-16

iPhone Maker Using Slave Labour

16 year old teens working for free, including nights. Ironically, that is the case of many teens in Ontario, where a volonteer internship is mandatory. But from a French perspective, the Chinese situation is unacceptable. The frech version of this report was shown on French TV news.



French version (same, but easier to understand if you speak French).

2012-12-14

Alberta and Atlantic Canada Should become One

As you know, many people born in Atlantic Canadians now live in Alberta. A recent unfortunate example of this is an elderly lady who's entire family is in Alberta. She moves to Alberta to be close to them. She gets a stroke. Alberta then tells her to move back to New Brunswick!

Some of the Atlantic provinces finance a high portion of their provincial budgets with money from the federal government. Its a glaring example of taxation without representation. 

Solution: merger. Atlantic Canada; Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick and Alberta should become one province. I suggest we call it Altica

Altica advantages:
-Federal government equalization payments to the Atlantic region would be eliminated
-Expensive Edmonton civil service jobs could be moved to cheaper locations out east. 
-Easier to find French teachers familiar with the local curriculum
-Rich Albertans could retire by the ocean side without worrying about different taxes and healthcare levels. 
-Beer, wine and hard liquor would be sold in convenience stores.
-Albertans would learn to relax, New Brunswickers would gain a work ethic.

What other advantages to you see?

2012-12-12

False Confessions on 60 Minutes

I had to pause the latest 60 Minutes report on False Confessions because it was getting me angry. People become bureaucratically stupid.

Remember that unilingual blind man's dog that was barred from an English immersion class at UNB? I listened to one of the staff people involved, months after the events, still defending the decision. Of course, the person only speaks English.

That was in Fredericton. The false confessions in the 6o Minutes bit happen in Chicago.


2012-12-05

The Amazing Race Visits Canada, via Australia, Cuba

The American Amazing Race has been to Montreal and other Canadian destinations, but I took significant pride in my country watching the Aussies navigate Vancouver.

Highlights include:
-Australians signing the lumberjack song (Monthy Python), the actual lumberjacks were not amused.
-Australian signing a Brian Adams song on her way up Gross Mountain.
-Australian asking if Toronto is in Canada.

The following is from The Amazing Race, Australia, series 2, episode 9. Hat tip RealityTVfan.org . If there is a legal way to watch Amazing Race Australia in Canada, let me know.



2012-11-30

The 9 Countries that Voted Against Palestine

According to Wikipedia (the UN site is down as I write this), these are the 9 countries that voted against Palestine. 40 countries, like, for example, Australia, didn't care enough to form an opinion.

Canada
Czech Republic
Israel
Marshall Islands
Micronesia
Nauru
Palau
Panama
United States

 

2012-11-17

When Governments Lie: The City of Austin and the State of Texas Exaggerate F1 Impact

The lie: Formula 1 will attract 300,000 people to Austin.

The reality:
120,000 people spending over a hundred dollars for a sporting event is impressive. The fact that many of those 120,000 will be attending the event over 3 days, requiring a hotel stay, even more so.

Facts: The Austin Formula 1 is the only formula 1 race in the USA. The nearest is in Montreal (held in June). Formula one is to Europe what Indy racing is to America: a fairly niche product, aimed at men that attracts lucrative sponsors.

Austin is a fairly small city (area wide population: 1.7 million). Obviously, just like in Montreal (pop 3 million), people from out of town will show up. People from San Antonio and Houston could do it as a day trip, but could be convinced to spend the night because of the practice sessions and qualifying on the Friday and Saturday. In Austin, the tickets are sold as a 3 day package (you can't buy them for individual days like you can for some tickets in Montreal).

Many people will also fly in from Latin and North America, free of jet-lag  Flying is expensive, but with a Saturday night stay, flights can be relatively affordable when booked far in advance.

Austin has developed a couple of music festivals that attract tens of thousands of people. Being near San Antonio and Houston, that is understandable. Even without music, it is the capital of Texas and a fairly nice place to visit.

The most successful festival, South by Southwest, has a film and software element, and attracts up to 30,000 people over 9 days (ie, there are never 30,000 people in town at once).
 
The Formula 1 race has 120,000 tickets. The state of Texas somehow concluded that 300,000 people from out of town would show up in Austin! Never mind that race fans from Houston and San Antonio could show up at the track without setting foot in the city (the track is located south-east of town, outside city limits), or that some could go directly from the airport on race day (the track is a few miles away from it), even if all 120,000 F1 ticket holders came from out of town and spent the weekend, that would still not get anywhere near the 300,000 figure.

Some say the 300,000 number came about because the event is 3 days. So 100,000 X 3 is 300,000. But clearly, both the state and the city have been spreading falsehoods about the number of people that the F1 would attract.

But why?

The State
Austin was able to land an F1 race because of the promise of 25 million dollars a year from the State of Texas. $25 million is $208 per attendee. Somehow, the state plans on extracting that amount of sales tax out of the event (there is no income tax in Texas). It's not completely out of the realm of possibilities. The 400 million dollar track had to be built, workers will have spent much of their salaries in Texas. Visitors to F1 are often well healed. So even if the numbers of people attending aren't that high, the local spending could be. 

The City
The city annexed the track (will take effect by next year's race). In theory, that is a windfall: The City of Austin has a sales tax. In practice, the city could be on the hook for things like water, sewers, road maintenance, public transportation, policing and fire prevention. So regardless of the sales tax and property tax base, there are no guarantees the city will break even.  

By exaggerating the economic impact, local officials hoped to help nudge the event out of the expense column into the revenue column. They don't have to convince all of the people, just some.

Lies can be found here:

Lies repeated in the Texas media
  1. Austin prepares for Formula 1 traffic, crowds

    KVUE-Oct 31, 2012
    AUSTIN -- The City of Austin is preparing for an influx of 300,000 Formula 1 visitors, which could make traffic congestion one of the event's ...
  2. Survival Tips For Formula One Weekend (Hint: Check The Map)

    Austinist-Nov 15, 2012
    Formula 1 has descended upon Austin, chartered DJ, gold flake ... Anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 visitors are expected to be here this ...
  3. Haulting Downtown Construction for F1

    Austin News-Oct 28, 2012
    As the countdown continues ahead of Austin's first Formula One race city ... With 300,000 visitorsexpected in Austin during F1 weekend, ...

    "Starting Grid" event kicks off F1

    1 Nov 2012 – In two weeks, up to 300,000 visitors are expected in Central Texas forFormula 1 festivities. Just a few months ago there were questions about ...

    1. Austin's Formula 1 race to bring money to San Antonio | News - Home

      1 day ago – With 300000 fans projected to attend the Circuit of the Americas and theFormula 1 United States Grand Prix, San Antonio can expect a boost to the economy. ...International visitors expected to flood central Texas ...
    2. Your Guide To Surviving F1 Weekend In Austin

      9 Nov 2012 – ... grandstanding by Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One will at last make its ... be one of city officials have said they re expecting 300,000 visitors to ...
    3. Circuit Of The Americas | Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide

      To put things in perspective, Formula 1 weekend is beyond just a large local event. 300,000 visitors are expected to come to Austin from Friday November 16 to ...
    4. Welcome to ATCEMS

      Austin-Travis County EMS Welcomes Formula One Fans! ... With an expected 300,000 visitors coming race weekend, including many from around the world, ...
    5. Others

      Lap crowds and dodge traffic at this year's Formula 1™ races ...

      31 Oct 2012 – ... of 300,000 people will visit Austin during the first Formula One™ race ...These tips from officials can help natives and visitors alike stay one ...

      1. Survival Tips For Formula One Weekend (Hint: Check The Map ...

        austinist.com/2012/11/15/survival_tips_for_formula_one_weeke.php
        2 days ago – Formula 1 has descended upon Austin, chartered DJ, gold flake ... Anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 visitors are expected to be here this ...
      2. I am a local business owner and want to find out more about ...

        ... Austin wants to ensure that local businesses and organizations are prepared to welcome the estimated 300,000 visitors coming to Austin for the Formula One ...
      3. Austin prepares for Formula 1 traffic, crowds - kvue.com | Austin ...

        31 Oct 2012 – The City of Austin is preparing for an influx of 300,000 Formula 1 visitors, which could make traffic congestion one of the event's biggest ...
      4. Buda Tourism, TX - Official Website - Formula 1

        Austin is gearing up to host the 2012 Formula 1™ United States Grand Prix on ... With an expected 300,000 visitors coming race weekend, including many from ...
      5. Maybe Texans thought they were in Australia.

         

        Tourism Australia Media Centre - Formula 1 Grand Prix

        5 days ago – Around 300,000 Formula 1 fans flock to the event, which is all ... trends and insights about Australia's top tourism markets and visitor arrivals.


Sebastian Vettel

The time zone friendly Austin Grand Prix is tomorrow and Sebastian Vettel is going to have pole position.

For your F1 enjoyment, here is a bit of humanizing.




Sebastian Vettel at Top gear - Behind the scenes par gr8manav

2012-11-16

Texas: Racing Mecca

Texas has 25 million people. In 2013, there will be 4 major car races in Texas. One  Formula 1 (Austin), two Indy (Houston and Fort Worth) and one Nascar (Fort Worth). Well, officially, there will be two Indy races in Houston on the same weekend, but lets call that a gimmick.

As you may have heard, Texas is big. But much of the population is concentrated Dalas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Although those cities form a nice triangle and are fairly close together compared to the rest of Texas, there are still significant distance between them: Dallas to Houston, for example, is 420km. Austin to Dallas is 300km.

Still, that is a high density of racing. France has a population of 65 million people and no major race in 2013. Metro Sao Paulo has a population of 20 million, and will have 2. However, Indianapolis only has 1.7 million people and yet will have 2 races. Greater Detroit will also have 2 races despite their economic depression.

By the way, the Austin F1 race is getting a 25 million dollar state subsidy, per year, for the next 10. That is about $250 per ticket!

Formula 1 season (Wikipedia). 
Round Grand Prix Circuit Date
1Australian Grand Prix[37] Australia Albert ParkMelbourne 17 March
2 Malaysian Grand Prix[38] Malaysia Sepang International CircuitKuala Lumpur 24 March
3 Chinese Grand Prix[39] China Shanghai International CircuitShanghai 14 April
4 Bahrain Grand Prix[40] Bahrain Bahrain International CircuitSakhir 21 April
5 Gran Premio de España[41] Spain Circuit de CatalunyaBarcelona[42] 12 May
6 Grand Prix de Monaco[43] Monaco Circuit de MonacoMonte Carlo 26 May
7 Grand Prix du Canada[44] Canada Circuit Gilles VilleneuveMontreal 9 June
8 British Grand Prix[45] United Kingdom Silverstone CircuitSilverstone 30 June
9 Großer Preis von Deutschland[46] Germany NürburgringNürburg 14 July
10 Magyar Nagydíj[47] Hungary HungaroringBudapest 28 July
11 Belgian Grand Prix[48] Belgium Circuit de Spa-FrancorchampsFrancorchamps 25 August
12 Gran Premio d'Italia[49] Italy Autodromo Nazionale MonzaMonza 8 September
13 Singapore Grand Prix[50] Singapore Marina Bay Street CircuitMarina BaySingapore 22 September
14 Korean Grand Prix[51] South Korea Korea International CircuitYeongam 6 October
15 Japanese Grand Prix[1] Japan Suzuka CircuitSuzuka 13 October
16 Indian Grand Prix[52] India Buddh International CircuitGreater Noida 27 October
17 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix[53] United Arab Emirates Yas Marina CircuitAbu Dhabi 3 November
18 United States Grand Prix[54] United States Circuit of the AmericasAustin 17 November
19 Grande Prêmio do Brasil[55] Brazil Autódromo José Carlos PaceSão Paulo 24 November


Indy (Wikipedia)
Rnd DateRace name TrackLocation Television
1March 24 United States Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg[28] Streets of St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Florida NBC Sports Network
2April 7 United States Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama[29] Barber Motorsports Park Birmingham, Alabama NBC Sports Network
3April 21 United States 39th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach[30] Streets of Long Beach Long Beach, California NBC Sports Network
4May 5 Brazil Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestlé[31] Streets of São Paulo São PauloBrazil NBC Sports Network
5May 26 United States 97th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Indianapolis Motor Speedway Speedway, Indiana ESPN on ABC
6June 1 United States Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix[32] Belle Isle Detroit, Michigan ESPN on ABC
7June 2
8June 8 United States Firestone 550[33] Texas Motor Speedway Fort Worth, Texas ESPN on ABC
9June 15 United States Milwaukee IndyFest[34] Milwaukee Mile West Allis, Wisconsin NBC Sports Network
10June 23 United States Iowa Corn Indy 250[35] Iowa Speedway Newton, Iowa ESPN on ABC
11July 7 United States Pocono IndyCar 400[36] Pocono Raceway Long Pond, Pennsylvania ESPN on ABC
12July 13 Canada Honda Indy Toronto[37] Exhibition Place Toronto, Ontario NBC Sports Network
13July 14
14August 4 United States Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington, Ohio NBC Sports Network
15August 25 United States GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Sonoma Raceway Sonoma, California NBC Sports Network
16September 1 United States Grand Prix of Baltimore Streets of Baltimore Baltimore, Maryland NBC Sports Network
17October 5 United States Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Reliant Park Houston, Texas NBC Sports Network
18October 6
19October 19 United States MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships Auto Club Speedway Fontana, California NBC Sports Network


NASCAR (Wikipedia)
No. Race TitleTrack Date
Daytona Shootout Daytona International SpeedwayDaytona Beach February 16[48]
Budweiser Duels February 21[48]
1Daytona 500 February 24[49]
2Subway Fresh Fit 500 Phoenix International RacewayAvondale March 3[50]
3TBA Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas March 10[51]
4Food City 500 Bristol Motor SpeedwayBristol March 17
5 Auto Club 400 Auto Club SpeedwayFontana March 24
6 TBAMartinsville SpeedwayRidgeway April 7
7 TBATexas Motor SpeedwayFort Worth April 13[52]
8TBA Kansas SpeedwayKansas City April 21
9 TBARichmond International RacewayRichmond April 27
10 Aaron's 499 Talladega SuperspeedwayTalladega May 5
11 TBADarlington RacewayDarlington May 11[51]
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race XXIX Charlotte Motor SpeedwayConcord May 18[51]
12Coca-Cola 600 May 26[51]
13TBA Dover International SpeedwayDover June 2[53]
14Pocono 400 Pocono RacewayLong Pond June 9[54]
15TBA Michigan International SpeedwayBrooklyn June 16
16 TBASonoma RacewaySonoma June 23
17 Quaker State 400 Kentucky SpeedwaySparta June 29
18 Coke Zero 400 Daytona International SpeedwayDaytona Beach July 6
19 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 New Hampshire Motor SpeedwayLoudon July 14
20 Crown Royal 400 Indianapolis Motor SpeedwaySpeedway July 28
21 TBAPocono RacewayLong Pond August 4
22 TBAWatkins Glen InternationalWatkins Glen August 11
23 Pure Michigan 400 Michigan International SpeedwayBrooklyn August 18
24 Irwin Tools Night Race Bristol Motor SpeedwayBristol August 24
25 AdvoCare 500 Atlanta Motor SpeedwayHampton September 1
26 TBARichmond International RacewayRichmond September 7
Chase for the Sprint Cup
27GEICO 400 Chicagoland SpeedwayJoliet September 15
28 Sylvania 300 New Hampshire Motor SpeedwayLoudon September 22
29 TBADover International SpeedwayDover September 29[53]
30TBA Kansas SpeedwayKansas City October 6
31 TBACharlotte Motor SpeedwayConcord October 12
32 TBATalladega SuperspeedwayTalladega October 20
33 TBAMartinsville SpeedwayRidgeway October 27
34 TBATexas Motor SpeedwayFort Worth November 3[52]
35TBA Phoenix International RacewayAvondale November 10[50]
36TBA Homestead-Miami SpeedwayHomestead November 17 [1]

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