Mocha & The Frozen Mocha @ a coffee shop!

Ok, when I go in and request a mocha at a coffee shop, I expect it to be espresso, chocolate, and milk.

Well, it turns out that is not always the case this was brought to light recently when I went into a coffee shop called Royal Blend its a New Orleans coffee shop on Royal Street in the French Quarter (They do have a store in the suburb of Metairie too)

I asked for an iced mocha, and I saw them putting iced coffee in the drink. I was not happy. (More on that in a sec–Very last paragraph… after “NOTE”) They proceeded to say that the way a [an iced] mocha is normally made. I believe they make there iced different from hot. To me, they seemed to think that is the way they are always made everywhere. (I’m not sure if that is an aspie interpretation)

This goes all the way back to the time I first started coming back to NOLA after Katrina. I was traveling between the midwest and New Orleans, as I grew my market in the city, and remained responsible to my employer in Missouri.

Around that time, I started asking if the mocha was Coffee or Espresso based. I don’t remember why, other than a coffee shop made there mocha with coffee.

Perhaps it was just there Iced Mocha. I have not in recent memory re-found a place that makes a mocha with coffee*. I had started adding mocha latte or cafe mocha (though some may interpret cafe as coffee while other as espresso, but that is more of a regional thing North America/Northern Europe/France).

Why ICED? It seems that many of the places differentiate iced from hot as to weather they used cold brew vs espresso.

  • Royal Blend (NOLA): ICED = Cold Brew; HOT = ?
  • PJ’s (NOLA): ICED = Cold; HOT = ? “PJ’s Famous iced coffees are brewed daily using a special cold-drip process that protects the flavor and strength of the beans while producing a coffee that is 2/3 less acidic. PJ’s has been using this technique for more than 30 years”
  • 1369 Coffee House (Boston): Hot = Espresso; Iced = Espressp; Specialty Blended Frozen Drink = Cold Brew — There blended drink “MochaSlide is a specialty drink, and they clearly state the cold brew in the brief description.

Please make note that I can tell a definite difference in the cold brew vs espresso in these drinks, and I feel the cold brew while it may be 2/3′s less acidic, sure seem (?)more bitter(?) or less yummy.

Plus, starting hot makes more sense. First, espresso is more dense than a brewed coffee, thus once diluted, it  can still taste good. Yes, PJ’s point “pouring coffee over ice [results] in an inferior beverage” is valid for coffee vs espresso, but starting with a warm beverage allows you to better dissolve the chocolate. Of course, in a blended drink, dissolving the chocolate may be less of an issue as the blades of the blender thoroughly mix all ingredients, and even if not dissolved, are still thoroughly mixed.

Machine freezing is another matter. I am not making an opinion at this time on frozen drinks that come out of a machine.

I will however comment on CC’s “Mochasippi” ™. It is there term for a frozen coffee drink i.e. frape.  It uses the word Mocha in the name. If I ask for a plain mochasippi, I am asking for a Mocha. DO NOT make me say a “MOCHA MOCHASIPPI” Plain mochasippi should be enough. Frappe should also be enough. NO frappe is not trade marked. Yes, Frappicino beer was mistakenly assumed by starbucks to be a coffee too similar to there trademarked “frappuccino” name, but Frape is a description first coined in Greece in the 1950′s. If you want to say frozen or blended, use those plain English terms.

In conclusion, though regional vs national chains, these crappy cold brew, and misuse of “mocha” are reasons I avoid PJ’s and CC’s Coffee houses.

NOTE: I am not a barista, but I have been to probably 100+ coffee shops from dozens of owners. Most independent, as I’m not a huge fan of the big business. In fact, I can taste the burnt flavor of some like Starbucks. I am told that Starbucks both over roasts and over heats the brew to gain consistency (no reference for that).

Continued: MORE on that… I was already a little trigger happy when I sternly said “NO you are not making that with iced coffee are you” because I ran into someone who had assaulted me as I entered. When the manager did a very good job supporting both me and the barista by quickly ensuring that the drink would be made the way I wanted. The good or bad response on the interaction at the door was interesting none the less. “Its New Orleans that’s not unusual” (That was the feeling of the response. NOTE, this was probably 4-6 months ago. I think I did write it down, and will correct it if I come across it and its different.)



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Traditional Neighborhoods (New Orleans Style?)

I’d like to hear from some people living in Lee’s Summit’s new traditional neighborhood (well almost 8  years old now, so we have some outcome real life to talk about)



New Longview…. I thought was going to be more new orleans like… Some of the homes are, the yards are a bit smaller, and no front driveways (satalite view seems kinda like NOLA‘s new Mixed income housing, but the homes are more $$$) See New Longview: Now like always, they push Traditional neighborhood …. homes and shops in a walking friendly area.

now if only there were some parts made like the FQ balcony area perhaps Tower Park (Blocks from New Longview) should have the limited access inner block like the quarter, and garages like perhaps like the saulet is perfect if they don’t want stores under the apartments. (I know land in Missouri is cheap, and cars are loved, but I hate the lots) — for lower income (Like tower park strives for) the style around Boettner Park/St Thomas area of NOLA is perfect.


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Hurricane prepared-ness (Sheltering in place, and 3 types of go kits for either evacuating from or riding out a disaster)

Click to skip why I finally posted this, and get to the preparation discussion

This post is inspired by an early morning (Early for New Orleans, Early for a Saturday) financial Talk Show. I think it was about 10 days ago. (July 26, 2013?)
DISCLAIMER: While providing good advice, being  put on by a for profit group I feel the show sometimes boarders on an infomercial sales pitch. (Yes, many radio programs have experts which got to be experts because they work in the industry not just as reporters.)

Anyway, they were talking about 3 levels of financial security. Not just the typical distribution of assets, but actual savings.

  • emergency income X months to coverof no income,
  • Emergency expenses — To cover replacement of things, and cover deductibles,
  • Retirement savings — All the other things in the packages for life after work.

They related this to savings for hurricane protection, and they failed to break it down well. They started to come across as promoting preparedness. They started to provide an information package, but quickly left for the discussion of financial savings (It is a financial show). But its in New Orleans* and I feel it is important to provide the public service of describing 3 levels of preparing for a hurricane:

*Ok, the show/sponsor/show’s host/speaker is based out of Metarie.

  • Shelter In Place
  • Go Kit
  • Long term, recovery, weathering the storm

Ok, he didn’t use those terms, and I don’t remember what he used, or how he suggested to prepare, but those are the terms I suggest you keep in mind.

Continue reading

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Religion (And Politics on the first date and in the workplace) — With a little tidbit on how your method of spreading your religion may be the cause of Gods rejection.

Ok, there are two things you don’t talk about. Politics and religion. Ok that’s at work, and on a date. (Yea yea passive speech in here)

So, on the first one, to anyone that may hire me, remember if you care about it, you talked about it somewhere. As such remember that while your money supports me, I support you. Its all an argument where points are made. If yours makes more sense, you win more votes. I just say what I say to make you think, and make a decision. Interestingly enough, I am a small guy I am not followed blindly or smartly by the masses. Thus, in general, because I am just making people think, buy product for product. I live close enough to the poverty level that any funds goes to prevent me from taking from the system. The only difference is that you got a service, product, or other benefit other than just knowing your dollars went to someone that needs them. ((NEEDED: Link to who am I))

Now, on the second one, religion….

On a first date, if you are compatible enough to go on a second date, your social, personal, and thus religious beliefs are at least somewhat close. Why? First, 3/4 of the US population is of Christian tradition. I like there term of tradition because while not practicing, they come of that persuasion, and while there are differences between different churches, there is a common history of which a common ground may meld you into a common ground on beliefs. The problem comes with someone so compelled that they speak of there religion. First, you are not going to convert me on a first date, and may even push me from your church for all future encounters. Second, not only have you lost a potential convert, you lost a potential life partner of love. (Yea, being PC — See a post on hating being overly PC ((LINK NEEDED)) ). If you want to let people know about your religion, wear a cross, say you got to get up for church in the morning, but make it your whole conversation all the time. Especially with someone not at your church. You can talk about an amazing parable the preacher told this week, or what the homily talked about. Just as you would a story in the paper.

On using “Life Partner of Love” vs. “Husband or Wife” A husband and wife are a life partner of love. If using that term is a turn off, you now know A: how preaching puts someone off, and B: how you can gain knowledge of compatibility from communication without mentioning religion.   (There is only a 5 character difference in terms only one addresses a larger percentage of the population) Either way, I may proved my point to those it matters to. In general, I have found that those that it matters to are also the ones that speak trying convert people — Thus the point being made.

In the workplace, the same things go.

First, unless it affects your business, its personal, and should not be a part of the business.

Second, just as with a person, sell your product not your religion. Yea, you get quick and easy marketing, but you get that just from socializing in your religious circles, and in reverse, you have just lost the business of the rest of the world. While I am sure you can say I do not want to be associated with the rest of the world, you also can not convert them. Just as with dating, unobtrusive a single cross on you or in the corner may be ok. Hosting a church meetup equally as other groups, and you are good. Starting with non-religious groups is probably a better way to start if you want to be welcoming.

I know, preach your faith, spread the word… the good news… The Gospel, your mission to convert all what is requested of by god. I must say that the way people preach is not conducive to conversion (Except of those doing the preaching - not sure if thats the best link, but it is interesting). Sometimes the best conversion is by example, by leading, by being one. If you are not converting, are or your methods what they are rejecting? In fact, are you the path causing a rejection of God and your “faith”. Jesus walked with the meek. Yes usually openly, but not forceful unless you count the temple.


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WiMax should never have been a mobile technology. Even in current versions…. heck i wanted to use it for its proper use 10 years ago (Plus a little rant on how the CDMA carriers should have gone voice over data years ago as it has been possible.)

WiMax should never have been a mobile technology. Even in current versions.

I remember wanting to put it in my old loft in 2000, and every neighborhood building creating a wireless communications cloud. No need for Fiber or Copper. It was a sad day when Lucent bought out there competitor…. Alcatel they were the first commercial (and even to this day there switch was the only true competitor to Lucent’s 5ESS telephone switch) Those were the days anyone could easily be there own phone company (CLEC if you will). 5E switches were the way to do it. and VOIP like today would have been the way to get it to the consumer correctly. (VOIP/SIP/DSL/PRI/ISDN are last mile–to the consumer options). In 1996 (Or later revision) when congress forced access, they also forced a separation of powers (now combined again) They forced Data to be separate. They should have forced ALL communication to be separate from the hard lines. Think we got here fast? Think about how fast we would have gotten here if Data and Voice were one to begin with, and copper and wireless were the open range .


When I say 5ESS that is a generic Class 5 switch (including Nortel DMS-100 or the lesser used GTE 5 EAX) these are true telco grade switches with 99.999 Quality up-times with redundancy, and high quality & capacity equipment and standards. Standards which offer interoperability between equipment and thus companies across the globe.

Now I get a little technical, and not even talk about the standards or data format carried.

Notice above, I mentioned not an end user setup like ISDN. These Class 5 switches use SS7 communications, and carry more data than even ISDN or SIP (a VOIP standard) The beauty of all three SS7, ISDN, and SIP is that calls can be connected without using the data space of a call. In the first two that is very important because data space was fixed. DS0 (first a hard line, then became a digital line either at full quality that a 56 or 64k — Kilobits), Multiple can be in a DS1 (Typically 23 or 24 channels/lines in a 1.544 Mb DS1, Europe typically uses a 2.048 Mb standard, and thus uses 32 channels two of which are used to control or maintenance)

A little carrier grade info….

These DS1′s can be combined into DS3′s. Rarely DS2′s because T1/DS1 were able to be easily used on copper in typical distances of said copper (up to 6000 feet – Farther with repeaters every mile).

Going to a tangent for the sake of new technology – The 6000 foot T1/DS1 limit is kinda a moot point with newer technologies DSL (DSL=Digital Subscriber Line -ADSL= Asynchronous or unequal bandwidth used for consumer internet/HDSL-High Speed /SDSL-Synchronous, and more) – HDSL & SDSL are typically used for T1/DS1 with HDSL being more common for quality service. It has a distance of 12,000 feet, and with repeaters it can go about 60,000 feet. — DSL services may offer longer distances, but because they are not hardpoint fixed (my term for my other term direct service/connect/brute force connections–Think physical handshake vs imaginary) they have some less reliability. Some of which actually comes from distance. The technology allows more noise thus more allowed distance. In the end, it does not matter, but if you get it make sure to get a SLA (Service level agreement i.e. guaranteed up-time). The SLA is important, because while its a cheaper technology, if you request the cheaper technology, and due to the “imaginary handshake” the Telephone company may also cut corners by not offering the guaranteed up-time. Kinda makes sense, because any cable cut is an issue, and longer distances increase the likelihood of a cable cut, and time to trace said cut.

NOTICE for my tangent, I said moot for 6000 foot limit not the bandwith limit. They did not focus on higher bandwidth. They would just run multiple lines, and jumped to a DS3 for higher bandwith. Higher bandwith on copper was reserved for short distances. While DS3 is native on Copper, once you went to DS3 you generally went with fiber. DS3 typically holds 44-45 Mb or 672 DS0′s/lines

Tangent II — Optical

These DS3′s now just a consumer grade product and were a common speed on one of the first fiber systems OC1 … with SONET based STS1 encoding. (OC1 was about a 50Mb system)

Once into OC – Optical Carrier you have levels OC-1/OC-3/OC-12/OC-48/OC192 being common. These are frequently SONET based for distances in a carrier environment. Gigabit Ethernet over fiber is often similar, but different. Because of its differences, it does have variants that fit within the SONET bandwidth constraints.  Higher bandwidth systems are available, but generally for short distances i.e. in-house or in a carrier environment used in transatlantic cables. Many carrier grade systems are often made in rings for reliability. SONET ring technology offers fail-over technology for reversing the direction of data in the ring when one segment is cut or loses connectivity (note the data is bi-directional {i.e. synchronous}. its just redundant).

Because copper and optical fiber are different technologies and have different capacities, the numbering system of DS/T systems and OC systems are not related. The number and type of DS trunks on optical may vary depending on provisioning.

Various methods of encoding DS0 lines are available depending on the quality needed, codec involved, and processing power available. However, the telco standard is 64 bit connections. 56k for older technology, traditional T-1′s, and consumer grade POTs lines (Plain Old Telephone-Analog)

This 56/64bit telco standard is important for interoperability. As we move to digital voice, there is not a single standard for compressed connections, and interconnections typically default to the standard. In house — In this case in carrier or on your own network which can be global — you can carry CD quality (high quality voice) or low quality to save bandwidth  i.e. when buying bandwidth between locations either within a city, country or another such as seen in typical outsourced call centers in other countries.

In the years after 2010…. We are starting to see SIP interoperability though some carriers still separate voice from data. This brings us full circle to the topic of WiMAX. First, WiMAX while wireless even in cloud form is not good mobile, but with the right digital voice codec handles both carrier grade and cloud voice. (See below)

WiMAX as defined on Wikipedia only dates back as a standard to 2005, but I’ll have to look back at my marketing materials to see what the previous version was. Either way both are designed mostly as fixed wireless.

WiMax Speed vs Mobility graph comparing Wi-Fi, HSPA, UMTS, GSM

WiMax in 2000 may have been available in unlicensed radio spectrum… Oh I think I found it…. MMDS  (Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service) sometimes called Wireless Cable.

Notice the Low Mobility level. Its not designed for moving signals, quick reconnects, or low power. This is the reason its not good for mobile uses. Phones with it quickly ran batteries down especially where connectivity to towers changed.

This feeds back into the voice circuit technology. WiMAX is data. It can handle the DS circuits as true DS data circuits carrying voice in the provisioned data circuit  or as VOIP via SIP.

in 2000 I was looking to use T-1′s for data and voice input into an Alcatel Class 5 switch (5ESS comparable) To offer true CLEC (Competitive local Carrier quality voice) along with internet to nearby neighborhoods via MMDS (WiMAX of the day). The voice would have been VOIP using SIP. So yea, I would have been like a local version of Vonage, and once on network, those voice end users could have been anywhere like Vonage. Not just in My MMDS neighborhood network.

Thus the cause for me to write my rant….  someone complaining about 3g cellular speed, and how slow it was in there neighborhood compared to 4g, and the link someone posted showing what 4g vs 3g is. . .

Followed by my own crazy thoughts that the CDMA carriers long ago should have gone to data voice over wireless in an always on data situation vs circuit switched data which uses the voice line. Granted all CDMA & other 2g technologies was digital. It just dedicated the line to voice or data not VOIP (or Voice over Data of any form) with priority over non-voice data.

There is no reason Sprint should not have gone with VOIP for voice. Whether it be CDMA2000, WCDMA, or WiMax, it should have been done. Yes there current CDMA network can do it. I am not sure what codec they are using for voice, but at one point they were using Qualcom’s PureVoice, Qualcom also developed CDMA. PureVoice is compatible with VOIP (inside a network or if both ends use it) Thus is can be used within sprints network. Or they can use another standard Codec.

This had put them way behind the other wireless carriers that use GSM standards. GSM added simultaneous voice and data years ago. Though as Sprint moves to LTE the standard many carriers are going to, we will see the ability to use simultaneous Voice & Data.  NOTE: While I dog Sprint, I think they are great and have had them continuously for over a decade. I have worked with 4 other carriers ATT (and there variants), T-Mobile, Verizon (quality and good service, but you pay for it), and some smaller ones most have been wrapped into other carriers. I still prefer Sprint except for the no simultanius data & voice




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Gifts — What to buy or not buy (generalities & etiquette)

How do you know what to get your friends and family. This is for things like: Holidays, birthdays, and special events like graduation, baby showers, and milestones i.e. religious/personal/etc

First, communicate…

It solves a lot of issues. You want to make sure you get what they want, while not getting what others are getting them. In general, its best to get it strait from the horses mouth. Remember playing telephone when you were a kid? By the time the phrase makes it back to you, the words have drastically changed. Sometimes they change to the point of meaning the opposite of what they started as.

Ways to communicate:

  1. You can still communicate via friends; just use caution, and take it with a grain of salt.
  2. Check out wish lists. Amazon, blogs, registries, etc. These are ways to make sure you get what they want, and avoid duplication — Often they have a way to mark down that you got an item even if it wasn’t at the store.
  3. Be direct.
  4. Find out why!!!!

Follow there requests!

  • Often there is a reason behind there choices. If they have an MP3 player on there list, they may want that specific one.
    • Do they already have one?
    • Perhaps they want to splurge on something they might not otherwise.
    • Maybe they just need a backup?
    • If you can get a cheap one it may be a let down, and you just wasted your money!
    • Heck, if you get the top of the line, they may not want that one. Remember communicate, there may be a specific feature they want. i.e. portability, extra storage, or something else only that one model has. Perhaps they just don’t want to feel obligated or in debt because you spent so much. Sure its a gift, but they will still probably feel like they owe you something… That is NOT good!!!
  • Never buy something living!!!
    • If they request it, then its ok, but communicate, and get there request. Find out why? What they want, etc.
    • If you want to teach them, i.e. kids, communicate the options. You may push them to an easy animal, but if its not what they want, you might as well not get them anything.
    • Buying kids something is like buying something for someone else… So now you are buying mom, dad, brother sister, etc something living!!!
    • Your best bet is to let them go with you when you pick the creature out! Make it there choice.

What to avoid… or not avoid… to do:

Gift cards: cash and gift cards are great. They can be used in any way, but its the lame way out. Sure you can direct them to something, but if they don’t use it, you just wasted your money. Gift cards often sit there unused. They have fees, or can not be completely used. If you are going to give cash, give cold hard cash.

Instead, give them a day with you. It may or may not work well. Again, feel things out. It works with my dad. I didn’t live with him, but shopping together gave us a day together. Perhaps a good dinner.

Living things are a big no (see above)

Something is better than nothing. Sometimes socks and underwear are great, sometimes they are in insult. Sometimes they have particular things that they can’t stand. Boxers vs briefs (what kind of briefs)… Fun vs. Functional. What about that seam in the toe some people can’t live with?


This is a first draft. Its something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but finally started actually putting in the written word.

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Randomness — The fun, the stress, my quirks, and how it affects me

I am pretty random, but I must do it at my own pace, with moderation, some planning, and a little give & take

What does that mean? Well, random and planning don’t exactly go together, but for me there are a couple of particular concerns. While I like to be sporadic, my brain is in a form of constant stress. Its just the way it interprets things. It needs a little time to adjust, and get in the mood.

Things/Factors that affect this include: A: who’s idea it was; B: how locked in other choices were; C: other stress & issues; D: time & proximity.

For instance, I can’t be forced. That screws with all the factors. While there are ways to help me along, try not to trick me. It may backfire!

The reason I write this:

The interesting thing the finally got me to write about this is an incident that happened the other day. Someone asked to join me for dinner near my house because I was letting a friend from out of town crash with me. I had already talked to the friend about taking at least an hour…. or just an hour to chill somewhere in the neighborhood we were all at.

The important thing to note is that my friend said yea lets do that. I suggested that we find a place near here. This area is: 1, where we were already at; 2, where my chilling event was; and 3, where our other common friends lived anyway.

Sure, no one had really planned on doing the chill thing, but they had not planned on anything else either. Or were they trying to coerce there way into coming to my house. That would be non-consensual.

NOTE: My house is cramped, messy, and not setup for a bunch of guests. Plus, my roommate doesn’t like a bunch of guests. Sure, we use different entrances and do not cross over much, but still.

Later, after I had settled into the thought that ok, we are going to the thing I wanted to do. Not only was that now the plan. (I was not forcing anyone to do it — Even with the person who was my guest, I asked if it was cool if we did xyz) Everyone was getting excited about it. They wanted to show off there moves, etc. Then, after dinner, and the building excitement about xyz, someone outside the group said hey you all should come over for zyx another event. I probably would have been ok doing zyx either after xyz if I were not too tired (remember I only asked for an hour), if I were given time to adjust, and especially if we had not been hyping  & planning for xyz… zyx is an event I would love to do, but at this point I was already looking forward to xyz.

As it turns out, I don’t think any (many) in the group even ended up doing zyx. Instead, they wandered around. They went to another friends house (like they wanted to secretly do to my place???). On the way, they said they drove by where I was, and didn’t see anyone. I’m sorry, but I left something their and had to pick it up, and it was still clearly visable from the road they drove down.

What makes this especially disappointing is that I had stayed twice as long as I wanted to because I was allowing them to party it up.  Something they didn’t even do.

Next, they wanted me to come over and party it up more (At least that is what it seemed like). Sorry, but my guest really needed to get some rest. I probably would have joined if they had actually stopped where I was at (xyz).

The Lesson:

Ok, what does this mean?

A: who’s idea it was; If its my plan and every says yes, it becomes extremely hard to change.

B: how locked in other choices were; If there is hype, excitement, and the deal is pretty locked in, it takes a bit more effort/time to change (see time below)  [NOTE: I wander and change my environment frequently -- see other blog note]

C: other stress & issues; If I have a lot going on, I need a little extra time to reset my mind to the changes.

D: time & proximity; If the whole night is random, I don’t need much time to adjust, but if something was pretty locked in, I need more time. If we are headed somewhere I kinda need to be headed there. We can probably stop along the way, but it all depends on timing. I try to be pretty laissez faire, I understand nothing happens “on time”, but since I procrastinate so much, I want to be prepared. (nothing…. bar, club, music, etc. Especially in the Big Easy, but there are enough events that are, we should at least swing by find out what the schedule is, and go from there)

The Why – Etiquette – Backfire

No one likes to be “tricked” but to work within a set of paramaters, is good. More so as you get to know peoples restrictions. This is why I write this. As people get to know me, people get closer, and the issue comes up, I can now point to this. I find that there are some generalaties that if people follow them they can get along with most people. The things here if followed will allow most anyone to participate.

For me, there may be extra sensitivities as I do have Aspie Tendencies. When dealing with each other at arm’s distance, these don’t matter, but as people get closer they must realize how I am affected, react, etc. See some of my other AS (asperger) posts to see other aspects that may or may not become apparent.

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A letter sent to someone thinking of bringing there bike to NOLA

HI, you mentioned that you were planning to bike in NOLA. It is an interesting city, and biking allows you to take it in.

It is a fairly flat city. While elevation changes, you don’t notice it, and the biggest hills are the levy’s and bridges. Depending on where you are planning to stay and go you may not encounter them.

We have one trail on the levy from the zoo up to baton rouge.

This city has some horrid roads, and many joke that you need a mountain bike to keep from getting flats. A few years ago, we had a bike map project map the city for smooth roads, traffic, and safety. This is what google has used to list bike routes. Some roads have been redone, and marked with bike lanes and shared lanes.

The drivers don’t necessarily respect bikers. They will tailgate, honk, and try to pass when they should not. The police occasionally enforce no bikes on bourbon, sidewalks, Jackson square, and disobeying other laws such as running lights, stop signs, and going the wrong way. — The last time I really heard of strict enforcement was after a critical mass when they as a group didn’t follow laws.

Drivers will often think that bikes should only be in designated bike lanes. Part of the lack of respect is the lack of respect earned by bikers. They are the worst here. We don’t use lights, wear dark clothes, ride the wrong way. and take up traffic lanes even while not riding with purpose.

I live way uptown, hang out in the Marigny i.e. the area between the lower ninth and canal street. I’ve ridden out to Chalmette a way off Redneck suburb (unlike what people say, its not really that far), and also up to the Huey p long bridge ( in the richer county of suburbs). As the city is built on a curve, and given my location, I don’t always follow google’s suggested routes, and do take public transit. Its not the best, but You can ride all day for $3. The busses can hold 2 bikes, and the street cars can’t hold any.

I hope that helps.

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Amtrak — Ticket Refund / Replacement Policy and inability to account for tickets is a breach of National Security, and poor customer service

I have an issue with the ticket and replacement policy.

I purchased a round trip ticket on Amtrak. I went to the station for my trip and I was told that I could not separate my tickets… “both had to be printed at the same time” i.e. my return ticket must be printed with my originating departure.

When I showed up for my train on my return trip, I asked for a reprint/replacement, I was told that if I didn’t have the original ticket to give up, there would be a 10% penalty and $75 fee. It did not matter the if it was lost, stolen, damaged, etc. I was then told that if I was going to ride today, I must purchase a new ticket.

I was given a form for lost ticket refund and told that I had a year to submit the form. I was told that it generally takes 6 months to process the form (verify that the ticket had not been used). The form also included a waver stating that Amtrak was not responsible if they could not prove that it was not used, or used by someone else. (even though they require id’s, and I reported it missing/stolen)

This whole process is first a customer service issue, and a second, a homeland security issue that I am sure the news media would love to hear about.

First, customer service, this is just plane poor customer service for the passenger involved. Plus, since it took so long to deal with at the station, several other passengers had longer waits for an agent ( I should have been able to just print my ticket for the trip at the kiosk when I arrived at the station… if both tickets were not printed initially. Since they were, a replacement should have been printed invalidating the other one).

Not only this, but poor customer service may continue to other passengers as you have agitated the passenger(s) involved, and stressed them out. They are now wandering less forgiving when they must navigate a stressful environment. The train need not be stressful, but with the poor customer service, delays, and Chicago’s busy union station, it is stressful. The passenger may be less likely to step aside when another stressed passenger is passing by [Either A: in the terminal where the line is the entire length of the corridor including past the restroom or B: in the train]. They may be less likely to fit entirely into there seat when barked at by a conductor. Heck, with last nights news, (Airplane annoyance leads to brouhaha in the skies over D.C.  By Ashley Halsey III, Published in The Washington Post: May 31 — We see that two stressed passengers ended up fighting costing more customer service and homeland security issues, and tens of thousands of dollars – Amtrak DOES seem concerned about money loss…. Hence the $75 replacement ticket fee.

This incident could even cause medical issues. Ranging from heart attacks to seizures. Heck this one incident has caused me to have numerous prodromes which are potentially precursors to an aura which precedes a seizure. These incidents could cause further delays, stress, expenses, and a poor customer experience affecting hundreds of passengers if an ambulance is needed. This could even affect / trigger passengers with mental health issues.

The poor customer service continued but was better when I called on June 2. It continued because I spent 45 minutes on the phone. It improved because the customer service representative offered to send a voucher valid for one year – No confirmation number (something the counter agent should have done).

Second, this affects Homeland Security / National Security. This occurs in multiple ways:

A: lack of reporting missing tickets (due to cost, and agent’s attitudes)
B: Lack of security… Amtrak apparently is unable to track tickets. They can not invalidate tickets, or note that it has or has not been used or stollen. They can scan barcodes on reservations, but they can not do what every ticket taker at every concert I’ve been to in the past 3 years can do, and that is scan your ticket with a hand held scanner to verify its authenticity, and mark it as used.

C: Distraction: If TSA agents, and conductors are busy dealing with stressed out passengers – or potentially, a cascade of stressed out passengers, they are less able to direct there attention to potential security issues.


How can this be solved?

1: Issue scanners to the conductors. Whether used when boarding, or once on board – when the tickets are taken or processed in bulk after the walk through, it would be an improvement.

2: Check ID’s when entering a secured area. i.e. boarding? Or when a flagged ticket is used.

3: Reprint tickets at the station, let people print the tickets at home, or just don’t print all the tickets for the entire trip until they arrive at the station for that departure – a multi leg trip is different than a return trip days or weeks later.

4: Anything other than being told by an agent that they can’t replace your ticket unless you wave your rights, pay $75, and wait 6 months. I can understand being issued a voucher for future travel. But even then, not everyone can pay over a hundred dollars while waiting in line waiting to board, if they want to opt for an immediate replacement, and you still want to discourage irresponsibility, charge $5 or 10 to replace it on the spot, but even that is cheaper than mailing a voucher. Heck Email the voucher as you do the confirmation number, and weekly specials / offers. – Either way, replacing a ticket would not be required if you waited to print the ticket until the passengers arrival at the station for the scheduled departure – If you continue to issue all [departure and return] tickets at once you would not need to wonder if the replacement was fraud if you scanned tickets (see 1 above).

P.S. BTW, I did not agree to the replacement policy in the terms and policies when I purchased my tickets (I just double checked), and if it were buried in the terms, they may not be enforceable in court unless it is line item checked.


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Biking (and a bit on driving) in NOLA update June 2011 — Routes from areas of town-including Earhart, Magazine, Lafitte, and Jeff Davis .

I live pretty far Uptown. Just past Tulane University, but also pretty central.

I live so far up that cutting across the center of the circle/wheel/crescent is quicker than other ways.

St. Charles and Magazine are always slow routes due to traffic. Claiborne is lately just because of all the construction. Why are the not adding turn lanes when they are adding curbs and trees?

Anyway, by car, Tchoupitoulas is not too bad if you are already on that side of town.

But I have found out that Magazine is not too bad to bike down. I just don’t try to pass cars. I can keep pace with them, and they can’t complain about going slow due to me.

NOTE: when I bike I bike, I don’t wander. I hate people wandering in the quarter if there are cars around.

St. Charles is not bad at night… late.

I avoid central city though I have biked in parts even at night. (Yea, I’ve done Oretha C Haley at night)

Years ago, I was shown Earhart its a nice diaganal route from way uptown avoids the extra loop of going around central city towards the river. It avoids the heavy traffic of Claiborne. It has a great shoulder (concrete). There are some cars parked by some shops around lopez (there parking lot is not big enough–argh), and the projects (yea I feel pretty safe riding by there, but wish they had parking). It also gets pretty messed up just after the Home Depot on your way into the city. The shoulder goes away, and you ‘could’ take the sidewalk for a block or so, but its very winded, and kinda disappears when you need to cross by the train station/simon bolivar.

I have recently been shown Lafitte St. from the quarter to Bayou St. John. I’ve heard about the trail they are wanting to put in. Still no progress after 3 years or so. I had wondered about safety, but on the street, I feel pretty safe, it pretty smooth, and angled towards uptown. (safer than Orleans Ave) but I must wonder about when it either gets enough bike traffic to draw attention (but not enough to have a ton of good eyes), and also when the projects (er….. mixed income) get rebuilt.

When taking Lafitte, it drops you off at Jefferson Davis Pkwy, its great because it has a great trail on it, and so far feels pretty safe too. There are a few spots its rough i.e. why have a sidewalk that has a 6 inch ramp cresting in the middle. Just keep it street height. To keep water going somewhere? Well when it hits the end of the median (yea its a median there not neutral ground) it/water crosses anyway.) The trail, I believe its intended for biking as well as jogging and walking. (as do the cars who honk if I am on the road instead of the trail — yea honking is reckless driving, as its a known safety hazard for bikers–it causes them to look, and looking often causes the biker to lean and swerve into the lane. Be careful if you feel the need to honk to let them know you are there — Yea cars are quieter than ever. Perhaps you the car driver should just wait a second, or truly pass as you would a car.)

Anyway, back to the jefferson davis trail, it is nice to be separate from traffic going up the hill/bridge over I-10, but between Tulane Ave, and Washington, it swerves too much, and has too many ramps. I end up taking the road over the bridge. Coming from uptown I must cross traffic to get to the trail only to swerve and meander a lot on the trail. Going either direction, I want ride out room. I’m going 20+ miles per hour going down the hill and want all the momentum I can get after peddling up the huge bridge, and going uptown, I want all the help I can getting up the incline approaching the canal at Washington.



Things I came across when writing this:

Cop ticketed driver tailgating and honking at me today!

$1400 ticket for reckless driving on a bicycle — From the comments: Washington state says police should assist not ticket drunk bikers. Interesting since they ticket you for DUI on nearly anything in most states. It sounds like it is intended for those walking, but also covers those riding….

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