Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Stop the Silence: Scientology vs. the Headleys

06 September 2012

I have mentioned Marc Headley’s excellent book, “Blown for Good,” more than once. (iBooks) (B&N) (Amazon)
The first chapter is about Marc’s escape and being run off the road by Scientology goons. Here are pictures of what he was escaping from.
If you’ve heard the story recently about the split up between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and how the CofS interviewed potential brides for Tom — well, Marc broke that story. Given that, they want the book buried.
No, really. Here’s the PNG of Scientology asking for all rights to the book (so they can alter and/or bury it). Also note they are asking for the Headleys to be silent about Scientology and spy on other people who’ve left the fold.
Marc and his wife Claire managed to escape, and many do not — or if people do, they aren’t able to make it out as a couple. The Headleys filed a lawsuit about human trafficking, and you can see part of their story at the Human Trafficking Press Conference. It was tough being in the audience of that conference, let me tell you.
Catch is, the Headleys’ case got all the way up to the 9th Circuit, who said that religions aren’t subject to the federal trafficking laws. (ruling is here)
As a consequence of the lawsuit, they now owe Scientology around 43 grand in court-ordered costs. They have started a GoFundMe site to help raise this. In less a day, it’s half funded. If you can do anything to help, these are, in my opinion, people worthy of help.
They have two kids (after she experienced coerced abortions while in Scientology) and are expecting their third child soon.
If you do nothing else, for whatever reason, will you please go to your book vendor of choice and read just the first chapter about his escape? Thank you.
(As always, it’s okay to repost or link to my public posts. Please do so if you feel inclined.)

Read More

Am I The Only Holdout on Marriage Proposals?

06 September 2012

Several of my friends have, over the months this came out, held this up as a cool marriage proposal.
I have to admit, I think it’s creepy.
Why?
Because, in my book, any marriage proposal designed to “sell” the woman into the thing, especially one that leverages a celebrity (e.g., Patrick Stewart) or family (as in the earlier proposal) is not a proposal between peers. It is potential husband + club + possibility of public shaming, especially given the prevalence of these things on YouTube.
Now, true, it’s always possible that the couple arranged the whole thing to make it look like a surprise. If so, go them.
It’s also true that Rick proposed to me in front of others on a mailing list, but it probably wasn’t generally known that Rick asked me if that would be okay first.

Read More

Earth: Time Lapse from the ISS

09 August 2012

Great music (I recommend headphones), and if you have the bandwidth, do it high def and full screen.

</param></param></param></embed>

Link to BoingBoing notes.
Only place I could definitively identify from this video without slowing it down was the Sea of Cortez, with Baja California closer to the center.
Sea of Cortez from teh ISS

Read More

When Airships Tweet

16 July 2012

I love some of the rhetorical perspectives on Twitter, especially parody people and pets, but I’m kind of new to forces of nature and inanimate objects tweeting.
So imagine my joy the other day when I saw our very own @AirshipEureka blipping about the neighborhood. She’s sporting a new side (to me) with a twitter hashtag: #ZeppMe.
Being the person I am, I leaned out of the car, snapped a photo with my iPhone, edited it in Snapseed, uploaded it with the right hashtag and got a reply. From an airship. I mean, how cool is that?

Read More

How Much Did it Cost to Go Around the World?

12 July 2012

A lot of people who write about aspirational travel talk about getting big sign-up bonuses for credit cards — okay if you’re that kind of person, but I have a mix of cards I like. I also don’t necessarily like to be beholden to any given chain. In the last year, I made two changes: I changed my Hilton American Express card to the Surpass version, which has an annual fee and offers me Gold status for one year. Additionally, I upgraded my American Express Green card to a Gold Rewards card before going to Bermuda. Those were the only two rewards cards I used on this trip.

Thus, I felt I had the flexibility to stay where I wanted to: Conrad Hong Kong for the best Hilton value, then I booked the Park Hyatt Dubai through American Express, giving me double Membership Rewards points, and I’d booked the Eden Au Lac in Zurich directly as American Express didn’t have availability for my dates.

Flights

San Francisco to Hong Kong Cathay Pacific: 35,000 British Airways Avios + $150.40 in taxes and fees. Coach. Approximate cash cost of this ticket: $772
Hong Kong to Dubai Cathay Pacific: 40,000 British Airways Avios + $142.17. Business class. Typical flight cost: $3388.
Dubai to Zurich Swiss: 27,500 United miles + $21.80. Business class. Typical flight cost: $3340.
Zurich to Luxembourg (and back) Swiss: 32,500 United miles + $47.95. Business class one way (all I could get), economy the other. Typical flight cost: $888.
Zurich to San Francisco via New York Swiss and United: 50,000 United Miles plus $65.10. Business class on Swiss, First on United. Typical flight costs: $5863 for the Swiss flight, $1722 for the United flight.

All told, $15,973 of flights for $427.42 + 185,000 frequent flyer miles. Good deal. Because I used two programs, I booked them segment-by-segment due to stopover rules.

I left San Francisco on June 10, my first day of travel.

Hong Kong (June 11- very early on the 14)

  1. Cash taken with and converted: $100, which was partly used for airport express train, taxis, and one lunch at the Macau ferry terminal
  2. Conrad Hong Kong (3 nights at Points + cash rate of $85 a night + 25,000 points, plus one dinner): $347.32
  3. Spaghetti 360: lunch on Victoria Peak: $17.92
  4. Macau ferry: $37.51 round trip

Since there’s only one Hilton property in Hong Kong and I had lots of Hilton points, the choice of place to stay was super-easy. Due to my Hilton status, I was upgraded to an Executive Peak View room, which was amazing. Also, the exec room offered free breakfast and light snacks later in the day, so this helped save on my budget.

Dubai (June 14-18)

  1. Cash withdrawn from ATM: $136.13 (500 dirham)
  2. Brunch: $72.74 Park Hyatt Dubai: $816.88 (three nights, one half night for coming in very early, breakfast daily and one dinner) — this was booked as a regular summer special; the base hotel rate was ~170/night.
  3. Ski Dubai: $59.90 At the Top (Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building): 28.73

Initially, I’d booked at the Hilton Dubai Creek, but most everyone was staying at the Park Hyatt, so I went with the flow even though the room was more expensive. In the long run, not having to take my own taxis saved some money.

Zurich and Luxembourg (June 18-20)

Note: I changed my remaining currency from Hong Kong and Dubai into Euros

  1. Hotel Eden au Lac: 863.48 (two nights, two breakfasts, one dinner, base hotel rate ~355/night)
  2. Zurich Transit and museum pass: $41.94
  3. Luxembourg airport lunch: $18.03
  4. Hot chocolate at Sprungli: $8.44
  5. Gogo wifi for flight home on United p.s.: $12.70

Zurich hotels, especially in summer, are extremely expensive, and I picked a boutique hotel that I knew was good with a great location. It was less than all the major chains, but not incredibly outrageous. The view was phenomenal, though the view from my room was what we’d call “adjacent office building view.”

Total for everything — 11 (well, really, 11-1/2) days of travel — $2989.14.

I had a working budget of $2300 during my trip; I had prepaid several items (including flights), so I actually came out almost $200 under budget. All told, my expenses ran $271.74 a day — not bad for business class (save for one leg in economy and one in first) and staying at some of the nicest places in the world for a week and a half. Part of this is the long flights, though: I traveled for 11-1/2 days, but paid for 8-1/2 days of hotels.

Read More