Now there’s an app that lets you do a selfie as many times as you want until you get it right.
The app is called ItsEasy, and it’s free to download. Instructions walk you through the steps to get the perfect, two-inch-by-two-inch passport shot. You’ll align your face with the lines that delineate your head size and eye placement. You can preview your photo to make sure the measurements are just right.
Then, when you have the perfect portrait, submit your photo to the ItsEasy folks who will print it for you and mail it to you in as little as one day. Better yet, an ItsEasy staffer will check your photo to make sure it conforms to US passport rules–the passport office is picky about such things.
If you need a passport or one very quickly, check out ItsEasy.com on the Internet. The photo service, however, is only available as a phone app.
I know this “Travel Minute” is meant to make you smarter about traveling, but the next two tips come from what I call the Offbeat File. They probably won’t have anything to do with your next trip, but they’re mildly amusing.
Lesson number one: Don’t try to sneak a crocodile on a plane in Australia. A man did that with a baby croc on a flight from Darwin to Brisbane. The croc was in a small, cardboard canister in one of his work boots. A prosecutor argued it was illegal to bring a reptile into the state of Queensland without authorization. The man’s lawyer pointed out the crocodile was just a tiny thing, but the prosecutor noted that a grown male croc could reach 16-feet in length and weigh as much as 22 hundred pounds.
The man was fined $1,700.
Lesson #2: Don’t use those handy plugs on London Overland’s train cars to re-charge your phone. A passenger who did that was arrested and charged with “abstracting” electricity meant only for train cleaners to use.
That reminds me of the guy who jumped on a stage before a Broadway play recently to plug his cell phone into a fake outlet on a set. He said his phone had very little power left because “girls were calling all day.”
With all the recent media revolving around the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, I wondered how the city is different now to a visitor’s point of view. Recently I talked with Kristian Sonnier from the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau.
First the numbers. The hurricane claimed about 1,800 lives in and around New Orleans. Today’s population is about 90 per cent of what it used to be. The number of whites living there has gone up, the number of blacks has gone down. Rents and home prices have risen sharply. Tourism has come back strongly with spending at record levels.
The number of restaurants has grown—there are about 600 more restaurants in New Orleans now than in pre-Katrina times. More live music and live performance venues are open now, Mr. Sonnier told me.
But there is a major problem with erosion eating away at bayous where the Cajon culture that gives New Orleans its distinctive personality calls home. Communities that have been there for hundreds of years fear they’ll have to move to higher land.
That, I think, is the big test now for New Orleans, and it’s going to take a lot of money to fix. Here’s hoping.
Is Rio even close to being a suitable site to host the summer Olympics next year? The decision has already been made, but some folks are skeptical, including one 23-year-old, German competitive sailor.
A couple of weeks ago I told you about a new book by Juliana Barbassa titled Dancing With the Devil In the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink. The author is a native of Rio though she grew up all around the world before returning about six years ago to be the Rio bureau chief for the Associated Press.
In her book, Barbassa wrote about the terribly polluted waters that line Rio’s coastline. Then, two weeks ago, came news that a German sailor who participated in a regatta in Rio’s Guanabara Bay contracted a terrible skin from the bay’s sewage-filled waters. He required major surgery at a Berlin hospital.
Visitors to Rio are well acquainted with the stench that comes from the Guanabara Bay that one passes en route from Rio’s airport to downtown. The bay is notorious—folks find cadavers, hospital waste, home electronics and furniture floating in it. And that’s just what’s visible to the naked eye.
Rio promised to clean up its waters by 2016. It’s behind schedule.
Think about it.
OK, these numbers aren’t exact because I pre-taped this commentary a week or so ago. But unless things have changed drastically, gas prices at the pump are much cheaper than they were a year ago at this time. By about a dollar per gallon for regular except in California where the average for a gallon is still north of three dollars.
And if you’re considering Europe, the news is almost as good. Last year around this time it took $1.31 to buy one euro; recently it only took $1.11 cents. That’s a 20-cent-per-dollar advantage.
You can swim in the Mediterranean Sea until mid or late October. You can walk the narrow alleys of Venice without being jostled.
Plus, prices don’t go up in the Caribbean until mid-November. So this is the opportunity to take that trip you’ve been thinking about, whether it’s by car or by plane. And remember, you have until the end of September to pick up some cheap biz-class tickets to Europe between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.