by: the skeptical traveler

The seat made from titanium and composites weighs just 4 kg (8.8 lbs) (in comparison the Recaro seats used by United weigh 11 kg). The seat caters to single-aisle aircraft bodies, including A320 and B737, for short and medium hauls and could save up to $500,000 per year per aircraft by reducing fuel consumption.

lightest aircraft seat

The company that is producing the seat is Expliseat, created in 2011 by three French guys. It never ceases to amaze me how small guys can come up with something better than big companies with tradition and expertise. And I mean manufacturing (not software where this is common); you would think the barrier of entry is high, especially anything related to aircraft (even if it is only a seat).

This news of the lightest airplane seat reminded me of a radio interview with a billionaire (forgot his name) who wanted to set-up a company to make electric cars (I don’t think it was Tesla) and he said his wife asked him: “What do you know what big companies don’t!?”. I forgot his answer either.

by: the skeptical traveler

This is the second show I have seen in Las Vegas, I could have not missed one of my favourite comedians Kevin James and having Ray Romano on the stage as well, that was a bonus.

A comedian, whose name unfortunately I forgot, started the show. He was good but as he told one of the guys in the front row “You don’t feel like laughing, your ticket says Ray Romano and Kevin James, so you are wondering what I am doing on the stage.” or something along this line.

I thought the same, he might have better jokes than Ray Romano or Kevin James but people come the see them and they would laugh more heartily at them even if they have heard the jokes before.

I liked the show, Kevin James was first, he left, and Ray Romano came onto the stage. Then both were on stage. Ray Romano imitated Kevin James very well and Kevin James imitated not very successfully Ray Romano who kept saying “That’s not me, I don’t sound like that.” and I agreed, the imitation was far off. “Couldn’t Kevin James imitate Ray Romano? He is an actor and moreover a comedian.” I thought. It turns out he could have imitated Ray Romano perfectly, but the bad imitation was part of the show.

YouTube Preview Image

At the end of the show the lights went up and there was a Q&A period. I did not take any photos, even if I think I should have and I could have. I understand the theater’s policy with no photos and recording during the show itself but they should allow a few photos at the end of the show. It should not be a big deal. I wanted to raise my hand and if chosen to ask “May I take a photo of you two?” but I was too embarrassed to do this. Others were not. A woman asked to be allowed onto the stage to take a photo with Kevin James. Ray Romano said he was hurt as she didn’t even pretend she wanted to have a photo with him as well. Another woman told Kevin James “I want to watch your kids!”. I didn’t get it and neither James: “I am scared now, what does this mean?”.  Another woman to James: “Can you do the <don’t know what she said here> dance?” “What am I, a monkey?” said James, and to Romano “What dance? What did she say?” Romano said he didn’t understand either.

The Q&A (and the show) unfortunately had to come to an end.

And what happened immediately after end of the show will “haunt” me for some time until I will find an answer or forget the whole matter. A group of people who were sitting in the 4th or 5th row went backstage. They were well dressed, apparently more women than men, things are blurry now so I might be wrong and I wish I could have paid more attention to all details but I was quite tired after a day trip to the Grand Canyon and the whole affair completely took me by surprise. Also, I still remember that 2 or 3 employees came to escort the guests. And a couple went backstage as well after the initial group. I vaguely remember how the man spoke to one of the employees.

I left the theater but I came back as I had to find out and while nobody was around I asked a security guard about what I saw. He told me those people were on a list of guests. This was a perfectly valid explanation I would think. However, it was more to do with the seats I thought, the employees who came to escort the guests didn’t seem to go over any list.

How does one get on such a list? Will I ever find out? I would see the show again only to watch carefully what is going on :) .

However, this is my last show “review”, next I will write about my day trip to the Grand Canyon.

by: the skeptical traveler

I have been three times to Las Vegas (because I had to for various conferences, otherwise very unlikely I would have visited the city any time soon*) and only the last time did I go to a show.

And my first show was the Marc Savard Comedy Hypnosis show, the ticket was only $20 bought at one of the kiosks on the Strip that advertise they sell tickets at half price (I have my doubts about this half price, as for example a ticket to this show on the www.marcsavard.com site is $25, but there might be some tickets at half price, who knows).

The show was amazing, I laughed and laughed and I could not believe what I saw. Marc Savard said in the beginning that some people do not believe in hypnosis but it works, same like gravity. I did not volunteer (surprised how many people volunteered as they must have known what they were going to be subjected to, lots of videos on youtube) as I did not want to embarrass myself. However my friend was among the 30 or so volunteers (he likes to experiment), but he was sent back (only “best” 8 subjects were kept on the stage). I asked him whether he realized what was happening all the time and he said he was. Do the subjects know what they are doing? was my question and it seems they do.

“One of the nine volunteers put under hypnosis included Mackenzie Blaeser, who says he’s been hypnotized a number of times and always remembers the silly acts he does on stage.
“I looked like an idiot,” he said with a smile. “Everything I did I knew what I did exactly I just really didn’t care.”
That lack of caring, Savard explains, is brought on by hypnosis.
“You don’t do certain things in public because of the fear of criticism. Hypnosis takes away that fear,” he said. “It’s kind of like alcohol but you don’t have the hangover in the morning.” From Hypnotist credits craft with saving his life

My friend is very circumspect (same like me) and he said: “Perhaps the people on the stage are his friends.” “Not possible” I said, “such a deception couldn’t have gone for so long.” However, the seeds of doubt were planted, so after the show I read more about Marc Savard, and he is real:

Q+A: Hypnotist Marc Savard — from nearly fatal car crash to entertaining Strip audiences

Marc Savard offers seven reasons everyone should be hypnotized

YouTube Preview Image

This show is a must if you come to Las Vegas and not at all expensive.

The only thing I did not like was that he hypnotized two guys to have an intense orgasm every time someone shook their hand while still in the theater. Totally unnecessary I think (and I saw strangers shaking the hand of one of those guys I suppose out of curiosity and yes it worked, I witnessed how that guy dropped to his knees).

Sometimes he does this to women as well, found this review on Yelp:

“This was a great show the the people on stage are definitly real I know this because marc told one of the girls after the show who ever shakes het hand before she exits will give her a 3second orgasm my hubby shook her hand she nearly dropped to her knees with exciment and her boyfriend got all upset and blocked her from everyone lol awesome show hilariously funny adult humor.”

 

*Nassim Taleb in ‘The Black Swan’ “Las Vegas (along with its sibling, the emirate of Dubai) is perhaps one place I’d never wish to visit before I die.”

by: the skeptical traveler

There was a long line at the MGM Grand check-out desks so I used one of  the check-out kiosks. And to my surprise there was a resort fee on the bill I didn’t remember seeing it when I made the reservation. I asked one of the MGM employees – she was there telling people in the line that they could use the check-out kiosks but they seemed to prefer to stand in line and I don’t blame them as better to wait and correct any mistakes in your bill on the spot, rather than talk on the phone with someone after the fact – what is this resort fee and I showed her a print-out of the reservation details that did not mention any resort fees (yes, I still print them out, it seems “safer” rather than on the phone). She told me what I had was not complete and I had a feeling she was right as I might have printed only what I considered was essential. Later I checked the full document I had and yes the resort fee was there:

“Room Rates shown do not include 12.00% Hotel Room Tax Per Night (subject to change) and any applicable resort fees. Total room charges presented on the website will include all room taxes, but not any applicable resort fees.”

I did not pay any attention to the resort fee mentioning, as it did not have a number associated with it. And the reservation did not say anywhere how much the resort fee would be. I think the airlines now have to disclose all fees in advance, the hotels should do the same. What is this “Total room charges presented on the website will include all room taxes, but not any applicable resort fees.” When am I supposed to find out how much it is? At the check-out!?

However, now it is too late, but this is a lesson for the future so I have found 2 pages that I will reference in the future:

www.vegas.com/incl/resortfees.html

www.lasvegasdirect.com/las-vegas-hotel-resort-fees.html

Both of them include a list of hotels that do not charge a resort fee (of course a rate of $75 + $25 resort fee is the same as the $100, but I prefer to know in advance the total cost not to come as a suprise).

MGM Grand resort fee included the daily USA Today. I never took it, but I would have got a copy if I had read the e-mail from WestJet: “Your flight from Las Vegas to Vancouver will be on an aircraft that does not have seatback television screens. We will have some reading material on board, but recommend that you bring some items of your own to help pass the time.” Nice touch here WestJet!

 

 

 

by: the skeptical traveler

I was in the security lane at the Las Vegas airport, and to my utter surprise I did not have to take my shoes off or take the laptop out or remove my belt. What!? When did the rules change (as a matter of fact I had not flown for some 6 months)? So curious as I am (too curious I might add) I looked at other lanes and people were going through without shoes. Why was I among the “chosen” ones? I remembered that my lane had a “TSA PreCheck” label that at the moment I didn’t pay much attention to but now I realized was the key clue. I didn’t want to hang around for too long, staring at the lanes and look too suspicious, so I walked away, sat down, and looked up for this “TSA precheck” as I had to find out why (thank God for the free Internet at the airport).

And I found out about the TSA PreCheck program program I didn’t know it existed. But why me? I wasn’t registered.

And after some further reading: “Last year, the agency began incorporating non-enrolled travelers into PreCheck lines as part of a policy known as “managed inclusion.” Under the program, behavior-detection officers— some accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs — analyze passengers’ behavior as they wait in security. If they display no anxiety or other high-risk behaviors, they may be invited to go through the PreCheck line.”

From the article PreCheck unchecked: why the TSA is putting more people in the fast lane
Agency says it’s trying to speed up airport security lines, but details on its selection process remain murky

There was no “behavior-detection officer” as far as I remember; a group of people including me (I was the last one in the line) were just directed to the pre-check lane.

However, it was such a good feeling breezing through the security lane, especially not having to take my shoes off, the thing that annoys me most.

P.S. I flew out from Vancouver a few days before and at the airport as I was about to go to the security check I “panicked” – Where are the resealable plastic bags? – I looked around and no-one had them. I took out my toiletries bag and put it in the tray, but now I think, no-one else did the same.

When did the rule change? A quick Internet search, and there does not seem to be anything official yet.

by: the skeptical traveler

“You can make a real difference to Aeroplan® – just by sharing your thoughts. Your opinion matters to us – so much that we would like you to join our online Aeroplan Advisors panel.
All you have to do is complete a five-minute survey and, for a limited time, you’ll get a chance to win 50,000 Aeroplan Miles.* That’s enough for two roundtrip flight rewards to anywhere in North America.”

I received the same invitation last year and again I did not join for the same reasons: I had to fill out some basic details for example the postal code and the year and month I was born in.

About the postal code they said “We collect this so we can send you surveys relevant to your local area.” Fair enough, but I filled out the province, that should do it or at most ask only for the first 3 characters of the postal code, they do not need the full postal code.

They did not give any explanations why they needed the year and month I was born in. It makes sense the year, but the month?! Do they need to know the exact age?!

Again age brackets would be sufficient for their marketing purposes.

I could have made up the postal code and year/month but I did not feel good about this so appealing as the chance to win 50,000 Aeroplan miles might be, I decided to pass and not join any panel. Perhaps next year if they change the questions.

aeroplan survey 2

aeroplan survey

 

 

 

by: the skeptical traveler

I managed to upgrade two readers after some time spent with AC on the phone.

Still many eUpgrades left for 2 nominees. See the conditions of the giveaway here.

The links to the articles go in the comments of this post.

by: the skeptical traveler

I managed to upgrade two readers after some time spent with AC on the phone.

Still many eUpgrades left for at least 1 person (perhaps 2). See the conditions of the giveaway here.

The links to the articles go in the comments of this post.

 

 

by: the skeptical traveler

I assigned numbers based on the order of comments (in fact condition 2 of participating) to the giveaway from the post 30 eUpgrades for Air Canada giveaway:

1. Dan

2. Cathleen

3. Luc-Etienne

4. Marie-Josée

5. Emerick

6. Karole-Anne

7. Ian

Then I used Random.org

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 11.43.07 AMAnd the winner is 4. Marie-JoséeScreen Shot 2014-02-08 at 11.45.30 AMThe runner up is 3. Luc-Etienne

Also, from my experience the upgrades don’t clear for a multitude of factors so I kept drawing and in case there are eUpgrades left I will contact

6. Karole-Anne

and then

4 came up again but already 4 is the winner, and after a few more draws as 4 kept coming up

2. Cathleen

I will give 40 eUpgrades to Marie-Josée and 30 eUpgrades to Luc-Etienne. I will contact them shortly.

 

 

by: the skeptical traveler

One of the conditions of the giveaway – and the easiest one :) – was the participants to subscribe to the blog.

The subscription stats shows the following for the past week
email followers

wordpress followers

and one of them is myself as I wanted to test whether the stats show the correct information so I subscribed using one of my e-mail addresses. And the information displayed is correct.

Some of the participants said they subscribed to the blog but they must have subscribed to the post itself – they must have checked the first box – as they are not in the subscription list.

notify

I asked some participants – perhaps I shouldn’t have as it was not fair to the other participants who paid attention – whether they subscribed to the blog, they said yes, but the stats say something different.

However, let’s give people the benefit of doubt. Who knows perhaps the stats are wrong.

If you have subscribed, you will receive this post :), so just leave a comment here, using the same e-mail you used for subscription. In order to make it slightly more interesting, say where you are when you wrote the comment. For example “I am in Calgary”.

Note: users from the above stats screenshots need not comment as they are already considered for the giveaway.

The deadline is Saturday 9 PM, but perhaps earlier as I have to choose soon. One of the participants has a flight soon and when I upgrade I try to do it exactly when the window opens (7 days before). I don’t know whether the chance the upgrade to clear are better but I’d like to think so. And it is one of the participants who already is in the subscription list.

 

by: the skeptical traveler

Details here:

30 eUpgrades for Air Canada giveaway

Deadline: Wednesday 5th of February 9:00 PM PST.

 

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