TSA overkill?

So, the US TSA may be best know for forcing people to remove their shoes at security checkpoints in reaction to the shoe bomber. Mostly, this is a show of reaction more than a real security procedure. Ok, security is mostly a joke and here is something I thought was amusing until I thought about how the wasted manpower.
Ok, so I waited in security for 20 minutes while 1 line filtered passengers through. The second line was shut down, equipment not being manned. Ok, not a busy time, I thought, good to save the manpower.
Then I make it to the gate and watch 5 TSA agents stand around and watch one gate being boards to Spokane. 5 agents to watch ONE door! How dumb is that? Was each agent responsible for a certain part to the doorway? Is it an overly challenging job? It didn’t seem so because two agents were simply chatting away with each other.
Is this simply an effort to employ more people or a result of poor management?
How about this: Put one agent on the gate spotchecking and open the other security checkpoint!

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Taipei subway

The Taipei subway is pretty new and clean. Fare just lower than $1 per trip but the network is not full. It will, however, probably get you to the main tourist places just fine.
By a chip at the pay stations. It looks like a poker chip. When you go through the turnstyles, just tap the chip in the area specified. This ‘logs you in’
When you exit the system, just drop the chip into the turnstyles to return it. This ‘logs you out’ and confirms you paid enogh when you bought the chip in the first place.
Slick system because the chip is easier to keep track of than the tickets in the Tokyo subway.

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Taiwan recap

Great trip! Lots of fun. My thanks to all the alumni in Taipei that made the convention work.
Travel back out to the airport was just as easy. Another 140$ ( US $ 3.50) I’d recommend that Evergreen bus big time. Taxis were also fairly cheap in Taipei. If the bus wasn’t such a deal. Subways were also a good deal at about US$ .60-1.5 depending on distance.

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Taiwan arrival

I’ve arrived! Long trip but not too terrible. Korean Air did a fine job.
Upon arriving I like to sort out 2 things:
Find an ATM and get local currency. It’s easy and usually less expensive than money changers.
Get a local SIM card with Internet access.

I’ve done both now and got on the Evergreen bus into town. That was really easy but I suggest knowing what MRT (subway) lines are near the hotel since the biases stop there. You need to walk to the hotel from there.

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So I’m off on Monday for another USC Global conference. This one is in Taipei, Taiwan. I’ll be joining 500 friends, most of which are USC Trojans (fight on) and business leaders from across Asia.
I look forward to lots of great discussion on the state of the global e onomy and where business oppertunity is.
I’ve had a few requests to blog snipits from the conference and I will certainly try to do what I can.

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Cell / mobile in Italy

If you have a mobile phone and want to avoid the international roaming charges, consider getting a SIM card from the local mobile carrier.
Here in Italy, there are a few and I picked TIM (which I think is Telicomm Italia Mobile) it is working great! Good coverage and cheap service!
The SIM card with Italian phone number was only 5 euro! No contract. And it came with 5 euro credit for calls! I added a 10 euro data plan with 50Mb per day and I was set.
I’d mention that we did use the phone enough to burn through the credit in 5 or 6 calls so it’s not too cheap but very useful without the roaming charges and all the data I need for email and blogging.
You need a Phone that will use SIM cards. (Sorry Verizon people)

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Marketing pros

Think this product needs a name change before entering the US market?

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Is this street legal?

Here is the Fiat Panda we rented to drive around Tuscany in. It maynot look like much but it has the power to get you up the hill! Getting your passenger and luggage up the hill may be another story…

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Cinque Terre

Walking the Cinque Terre…make sure you start early and give yourself plenty of time to walk it.
“they” say that it takes 5 hours to walk all 4 trails but that may be for people that are in better shape. It took us ( I should say me) a lot longer but that’s because of the ‘warm up’ we did. More on that 3 hour trek later.
The walks are hard but at places they have great views. Really good photo shots but not many with my phone.

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Trains…VALIDATE the ticket!

Ok, this part is simple but my guess is that 60% of travelers will do this:
When you buy a ticket for the train, even if it is a specific train and seat*, you must always validate the ticket in the yellow box at the end of each platform.
If you don’t, the penalty can be around 40 euro for each person! Considering that the Flornce to Pisa to ticket is only 5.70 euro, this is a big penalty.
We watched 5 other groups in our traincar get a lacture from the conductor (he was very nice and didn’t charge the fee) so this is a common thing to forget.
You have been warned!

*- officially this statement is not correct but you need to validate a ticket with a reserved seat of you take a different train. To be safe, validate everything.

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