A massive solar storm, part of a normal 11-year cycle of activity for the sun, may upset air travel, knock out some power grids and black out some radio transmissions until early Friday morning, say space weather scientists. It may also affect GPS users and certain types of applications, including high-frequency communications used by airplanes. “Power grid operators have all been alerted, as well as the regulatory agencies that all pay attention to this,” says Joseph Kunches, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The solar storms will interact with the Earth’s magnetic field throughout today and “we think there will be more coming,” says Kunches. Want a positive take? Some areas may experience a heightened display of the Northern Lights.
Expected to Be Low
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will use personal dosimeters to assess the amount of radiation that its employees are exposed to from x-ray technology, including airport body scanners. The devices will be worn by those that work at selected federalized airports, the Office of Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) writes in a report posted in December. These will measure exactly how much radiation a person receives and will be compared with limits set by the government. While the radiation doses employees receive are expected to be low because airport scanners are tested annually to check radiation emissions, Michael McCarthy, spokesman for the TSA says the amount employees are exposed to should still be confirmed.
Bugs Hitched a Ride
Attorney Harry Marsh and his fiancé Kaitlin Rush are suing AirTran Airways for infliction of emotional distress caused by cockroaches crawling out of air vents and overhead bins used for carry-on luggage. The couple is also suing for nuisance, false imprisonment, negligence and recklessness, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. CNN reports that they want $100,000 and the price of their tickets. During the flight from Charlotte to Houston in September, Marsh and Rush allege that the roaches and other pests caused a great deal of distress to several passengers on the flight. They also say that flight attendants did nothing to help.
Stay Away from US Airways Food
While meal offerings on airlines have recently become quite scarce, if you are traveling this holiday season (or beyond), nutritionist Charles Stuart Platkin suggests flying United Airlines if you are hoping for healthy food. The assistant professor at CUNY School of Public Health contacted 8 US airlines, analyzed their menus for coach passengers on domestic flights, and gave each a score between one and five, with five stars indicating the most number of healthy offerings, including fruits and vegetables. United was given 4 stars for their snack boxes, which include tapas, tuna, or a turkey sandwich. JetBlue Airways came in second at 3 and one-fourth stars, particularly for their “Shape Up” meal box. American Airlines was a close third.
TSA Agents Get to Second Base
Some large breasted women are writing about the special problems that they encounter when clearing security at airports. Larger sized underwire bras can trigger metal detectors, leading to, as a commenter at BFDBlog.com described it, the TSA agent's "getting to second base." Another commenter described how the TSA agent's "check of [her bra] and my chest/ribcage was the most thorough of any part of my body. If you are wearing a bra that creates cleavage (or always have cleavage due to your dimensions), I have no idea how they manage the between-boob check other than sticking their hand down in there." And if all this weren't enough, traveler Eliana Sutherland has charged TSA agents at Orlando International Airport with singling her out for enhanced screening simply because of her breasts.
Panniculus May Conceal Bomb
Transportation Security Agency staff are subjecting obese air passengers to hand searches inside their "flab rolls," looking for concealed weapons and explosives. A flab roll search involves inserting a gloved hand between the layered fat tissue of an obese passenger, or pushing the hand under the overhanging panniculus or belly pannus of the passenger. Although this is a necessary part of a TSA staff member's job, they are not happy about it. "It is not comfortable ... to try and feel inside the flab rolls of obese passengers, and we seem to get a lot of obese passengers," said a TSA staff member. In all fairness, from media photographs we've seen, most TSA employees could stand to lose a few pounds themselves, and most really obese travelers have already learned to avoid air flight.