Why so much Uber Hate?

I’m going to rant, so if you don’t want to read, see you later!

Just about every day late, in amongst all the usual “Get this credit card, get points” or “This airline is crap” blog posts or news articles, there seems to be a resounding trend around the world. People for some reason, Hate Uber. What is Uber you ask? Well if you have been living under a rock, they started off as a way to get a Black Car (or Limo for you Aussies out there) to you easily, without fuss, and no handling of cash or negotiating costs using a Smartphone App. They hit it off big time and have expanded worldwide and it’s no longer just Black Cars, it’s Taxi’s, SUVs or even the occasional helicopter or Porsche.

But it wasn’t just the convenience of the service that made it popular. They were cheaper than a black car in some places (hell UberX is DC was cheaper than a cab!) and the fact that you can give instant ratings to your driver via the app was a great form of feedback. Then add on the fact that they were expanding so fast that there always seemed to be a driver around when you wanted it (sometimes as many as 5 or 6 in the one spot last time I used it) and you can’t beat it. The cherry on top was that all the payments were handled via the app. You had a pre set credit card so no money changed hands at all. The minute the car trip was over, you had a receipt emailed to you. Amazing!

But Taxi drivers don’t like this new service, and it started off that some cities just went on and on about how it was cutting their jobs, or taking their money, yet I don’t see any mass lay offs of taxi drivers, or mass issues of not being able to find a cab, there will always be a taxi driver somewhere. However it has gotten to the point that taxi drivers are now protesting the service? What did Uber do, that you should have done a long time ago Taxi service?

I am sure taxi companies are still making money, otherwise how would they still exist. For someone like me who doesn’t often carry cash, and the likelihood of getting in a cab that accepts a card when you are not sure can take one is slim. Uber is great! I can go anywhere in the world, whip out my phone (pending i have data of course) and have a trip that i don’t have to worry about cash or currency or anything sounds pretty awesome to me.

I don’t really see the point to all the mass protesting world wide, can’t the two services just get along. Surely this is a good thing for everyone in the fact that those who may have walked or caught the bus or even drove, can now do something that gets money to other people, gets them in jobs (and word is the Uber drivers are paid pretty well). Really all I can say is that if you haven’t tried Uber yet, you should give them a try.

The Final Commutes

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I complain a lot in the morning or evenings. Generally this disdain & unhappiness is generally pushed in one direction, Community Transit. Who are they? They run the bus services from Everett to Bellevue & in my general area. They are heavily trafficked, but extremely lax at times. They also have to deal with the 405 which is the worst Highway known to man kind.

So this week is my final week of commuting southbound on the 405 and I am happy about it too. Saturday I start the moving process as I pack up & head south to my new home in Renton (will post more next week on the new place). I can’t wait to get rid of dealing with Community Transit, the 405 Southbound in the morning, the badly planned SR522 interchange and continuous road works, but most of all I am looking forward to a single bus commute.

No more hurry up & wait, no more standing around, hoping a bus will connect properly (they don’t), no more giant Park & ride hassles. I will be sad to see some of the eye candy dissappear (the Russian looking girl, Miss Hooker Heals, and the infamous blonde with the ring) but maybe the new bus will bring new things. I know it  bring me one thing, less stressful commutes!

Remebering the Fallen

It is Anzac Day (well yesterday was technically but it just turned the 25th here in the USA) and it is a day of remembrance for Australian’s & New Zealender’s. For my American friends, Anzac Day commemorates the day that the Australian & New Zealand Army Corp (hence ANZAC) landed on a beach in Turkey. When they hit the shores at Galipoli it was the start of an attrocious battle, one that saw many men loose their life. That battle was 99 years ago in 1915 during World War 1. We take the day to look back on those that have served and fallen and remember them, pay tribute to them and also thank those who currently serve. I guess you could say it is our version of Memorial Day (public holiday and all).

For me personally it holds a little bit more. My Grandfather (Charles Stewart, on my mother’s side) went to fight in World War 2. He was part of the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion and along with his 2 other brothers (Jim & Gordon) all three of them went off to war. They fought in Africa at the 2nd battle of Alamein and also spent time in Gaza, Palestine & Egypt. After returning from Africa they moved up to Borneo and Papua New Guinea (sadly for a time we had thought they had been on the Kokoda Track, but when I got a copy of his pay book we found that he landed in Lae instead). As part of the Australian 9th Division they fought well and did what they had to do to protect our countries interests.

So at a time when I would prefer to be back in Australia, spending time with my family and remembering those who have sacrificed so much for us, I want to say a deep and heartfelt thank you to all those who still currently serve. Because without you, our countries would not be the way they are now. So no matter where you are, take a few moments to think about those who sacrificed their lives for us.

Lest We Forget

Ranty Ranty

It has been a while since a good rant, so while I don my fire retardant suit, you can move on if you so desire… and Begin!

This last week has been a little bit different in the Frequent Flyer (FF) world. Delta decided to change their points program and low and behold everyone in the known world has made comments about this. I can not believe just how many people have continuously talked about this change. I have seen 2-3 posts a day from some online blogs and it is just getting a little bit much. Add on the fact that the changes made it to the mass media as well, it has been a long week of the same things over and over again…. *sigh*

So while constantly over and over again I have read the same things (well not so much reading as skimming then deleting from my RSS feed) about Delta’s changes I see almost the same thing in some of these blogs. Numerous credit card links. Links to Delta’s cards, links to unrelated airlines cards, just more and more credit card links. I am starting to wonder what the main point for some of the blogs I read. Are they there to inform people about changes in the FF world or are they there now to just promote credit card after credit card after credit card. This week alone I think i have seen at least 10-15 different blog posts mentioning Chase and god knows how many other cards over how many blogs that I don’t read.

I know that all the credit card links give them referral credits (and I will also admit that I have used some of them to get the points that I have earned so they should thank me for that) but at some point it just becomes pure saturation. I feel like I am at that point already, when do i just stop reading those blogs that constantly repeat the same things over and over again? Should I just give up now or wait till all this stuff is over with and things return to normal? Who knows!

/Rant over

Ranty Ranty!

It has been quite a while since I had a good rant on the blog, so for those who don’t like rants, move on please, see you in a few days time. For now though it is time to rant away!

I recently saw this article on USA Today come through my twitter feed. it pretty much mentions that Expedia staff in the USA don’t take all their Vacation time. I mean seriously.. what the fuck. American’s barely get any leave over here as it is and they apparently don’t take it all.

I do know what it is like to feel like I am attached to the office at times, I seem to work almost 7 days a week at times with just about every day working through my work emails from home. I am usually working on my emails before I head to the office in the morning and sometimes late at night from home. The old saying “Work to live” over here is a little bit confused cause you definitely seem to “Live to Work”. I don’t quite get why americans only get 2 weeks leave (roughly 10 days) and there are barely any public holidays during the year that are 100% guaranteed (only about 5 or 6 really). It’s a tough sell compared to Australia where you get 20 Days leave and a boat load of public holidays (though most of them I worked anyway).

I don’t see how you couldn’t take all of your leave though, either your saving them up (which is hard enough to do as well as they just don’t accrue that fast at all) or you are WAY to involved in your work. A little to much working not enough spendy spendy? Although I would love to see Americans get more leave for several reasons (not just so I got more myself) but to be honest it would make my work life easier as well, purely cause struggling to fit a 2 week vacation to Australia and visit every city known to man is a bit of a challenge, more time would make it a lot easier.

But sadly I can’t really complain all that much, life over here is pretty good and I have it fairly good here compared to back home, but yet there are things I wish I could get more of (leave obviously, money as always) but yet, those are the sacrifices that I made when I came over…

/end rant

ANA Ambassador – Welcome back to Hong Kong

It’s nice to be back in Hong Kong but I haven’t even been here 12 hours yet and I am already not in a good mood. Nothing wrong with the city itself, the hotel or the service (which I will post about later) but I went for my morning run this morning along the Avenue of Stars along the promenade and I have restrained my old groin injury..

SON OF A BITCH!

It means I am going to have to behave a bit more this weekend and try and adjust a bit more but I can do it. The flight down from Tokyo was good, I got a good amount of work done, enjoyed the Japanese meal (my theory is working so far) and now I am going to go have some breakfast, walk a bit and then I have a spa treatment. Hopefully they can try and focus on my upper legs/thighs/groin and work out this problem.

Current Location: Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong

My 2 Cents

So the 787 had made all the press lately with diversions, emergency landings and grounding of aircraft it us hard to escape it right now. Everywhere i turn it seems to be Boeing bashing left, right & center.  I think I should put out what I think on a personal level and this in no way is the opinion of any company, group, website or anything that I work for. So here goes.

First up some background for those non avgeeks amongst my readers. To put it simply the 787 is a breakthrough in aviation technology and is essentially an aircraft with cutting edge materials, systems and processes that when put together make an aircraft that can offer things others can’t. I am not going to explain it all if you really want to know what makes it awesome, ask me and I will explain in terms that will probably bore you but entertain me.

Like any new aircraft (or technology for that matter) and there will be teething Zwolle problems, little things that will show their head during the first few years. Only 50 aircraft have been delivered and it has taken till the last 6 weeks or so for some of these issues to show their head.

At the moment no one else is hurt and to me that’s the main thing. Issues happen, all new aircraft go through phases like this. They have all had issues of some kind that ha en caused as much media drama if not more. This is nothing out of the ordinary and nothing to worry about in the long run. Yes I am sure the one 787 in Japan that had the emergency landing would of been a little scary for those onboard but then it is ok to fly still. A friend of mine flew on one yesterday while all the drama was underway with the ANA & JAL groundings and he safely made it to his destination (hell they even made up a bit of time). The groundings and investigations are a good thing (sort of). The airlines and boeing and the government can get in there and work out what is causing the problem and get it fixed. The sooner this happens the better! I am sure that Boeing engineers are working at the moment to get this all worked out. The sooner they can get the issue resolved, the sooner the aircraft get back in the air. Back to what they should be doing… flying.

There is no need to call the aircraft unsafe or anything like that, it is not as if the planes fell out of the sky or anything. I think that we all need to take a deep breath, step back, think for a minute, be thankful no one was killed or injured and let the people in white coats and glasses (I am sure they don’t wear them really but you know what I mean) figure out what is going on and get it resolved, quickly, promptly and without all that much hassle…. hopefully

If that doesn’t calm you down, the least you can do is take the Boeing bashing and keep it away from me, cause frankly, your boring me :P

Book Review: Satire TV

This book was an absolute shocking let down… this is going to be a major rant… be prepared

Untitled

The book is Satire TV by Jonathon Gray, Jeffrey P Jones & Ethan Thompson. The amount of “Authors” should start to ring wedding bells. This is not really a book, its more like an essay. I had originally bought this from Comedy Central back earlier in the year after seeing it online and seeing the description. It kind of read like it was a look at how Daily Show and Colbert report were affecting life. WRONG! So very very wrong. This is more like a bunch of essays on Satire TV. It uses plenty of big words I have NEVER heard of and to be honest it felt like it was mocking the people who don’t are “below” them.

Either way I think it was crap, absolute crap. Just to much like a college thesis about certain parts of television and references to South Park, Simpsons and other unknown reasons what you would consider Satire? If you come across this book for less than $1 give it a go, anything more than that… Forget it!

/Rant

It has been a while since I got my rant on, but right now I need it to release. So for those of you not interested please return to your regular morning reading, the rest of you, read on.

Seattle has the US’s 4th worst traffic and I know exactly why. It has nothing to do with bad roads, crappy weather etc. It is because the public transport here is pathetic. It is unreliable, slow and just badly managed. But let’s break it down and put blame exactly where it lies.

In my part of Seattle there are two main operators of the buses King County Metro and Community Transit. This rant is 100% targeted at the latter. Community Transit (hereafter referred to as CT) is part of Snohomish County all the way in the North and I pretty much live just inside the Southern Border. O how I wish I lived just a few miles south.

There are two main kinds of services you have the Feeder Services and the Commuter services. Both are as bad as each other but one more so than the other. The thing that pushed this rant from pet hate to “Fuck it, I’m over this shit” happened last night and until then I just kept my trap shut, even with the bad service.

As I mentioned the two different kinds of services run by CT. Usually I have no problems with the Commuter services as they are pretty good but last night took the cake. I missed my usual bus as I was tied up at work a few extra minutes, no big deal the buses (532) go every 15 minutes pretty much so I was golden, I should make it to the bus mere moments before it arrives and I won’t have to stand long in the cold. Wrong! 3 buses never came. No warning, no apologies, nothing, 30 minutes in the freezing cold with about 100 other people lining up waiting, frustrated.

Add that onto the fact that the Feeder services are always late. I have heard people mention hours delays by drivers and not a single word or apology. CT don’t seem to participate in the Seattle Transit app as they never seem to show properly, let alone that some of the drivers are just rude, annoying or drive either erratically or at a snails pace.

I want to drive into work like everyone else but the traffic is pathetic! So I guess I am stuck for a while. I can’t complain to much as work covers my Public Transport costs and that alone saves me more than the hassle probably but when incidents like last night happen, a little apology would be nice.

Right about now, I am a bit calmer after ranting but it always helps to get things off your chest. Is it going to change the way CT operate? Nope. Is it going to change anything at all? Nope. Will I keep catching the bus, yep, but then it’s either a bus where I can switch off, read a book, or blog or just tune out for the hour door to door commute or I can be stuck in the truck the same length of time.

Which would you choose?

Looking back at Vegas

All I have been talking about lately is Qatar and my trip to Vegas kinda fell by the down side. Sure I posted a trip report but it was pretty basic and I didn’t put all that much effort into it really. Mind you i was half way to Qatar while I was writing it and getting the photos ready. Hell i am pretty sure I posted the trip report from the air. But that report just doesn’t really talk about how much fun I had in Vegas.

I’ve been to Sin City 3 times now. The first two times were with Contiki and only for 2 nights. The first time I went was my first real time overseas on my own, I had been sick for my birthday the month prior and I just decided to go all out. I absolutely wiped myself out that first night in Vegas and got that true vegas experience. I was so out of it that first time that the 2nd day I was in the city it was a total write off. What a waste!

The 2nd time in Vegas was about 3 years now. At the end of my last Contiki. By that stage I had made a fantastic group of friends and was looking forward to an amazing time in Vegas. My Favourite DJ was playing that first night we were there and I was pumped to live it up big time with my friends. Then I got sick. I still made the most of my time in Vegas but I didn’t get plastered, I didn’t go to far out of it, I even ended up missing out on seeing the DJ because I felt so crappy. :( What a waste.

The first time I was in Vegas a couple of people talked me into going and visiting Blue Man Group. I saw the show, and loved it. I ended up Downloading (legitimately of course ;)) their album. Then the 2nd time I was in Vegas I had to take my friends to Blue Man Group and they loved it. We had poncho seats (which i managed to score at the last minute for no extra cost) and we were so close to the action, but didn’t get any paint on us sadly. I had the best time and even though I was pretty sick I still had enough left in me to enjoy the show with my friends and then get this photo as well:

From North America 2009 Pt 3

Blue man group had changed their show this year and it had only just reopened at the Monte Carlo theatre. I just had to go, I had to check out the new show. So I did, it was fantastic and even though I couldnt easily get the same photo again (as I had no one with me to take the photo and the staff there won’t touch your camera for some reason) I still managed to get something that I feel is the same (even though I look way way way different now)

From Vegas Avgeek Style

That’s me with a Blue Man!

The other big thing I remember from my 2nd trip to Vegas was my visit to the Gun Store with my friends. Ash, Stuart, Ashina, Michelle and I all went out to the “Las Vegas Gun Store” which at the time was pretty much the only place that allowed you to fire whatever fully automatic weapon you wanted. I went all out, i grabbed a package that was $350, it was everything you could think of and then to top it all off, you got to fire a belt fed machine gun. I remember an old saying i saw on the internet “Happiness is an Automatic Weapon with Belt Feed.” It’s not far off it. The feeling to just let that ammo fly is just indescribable.  What a thrill!  I had this photo taken off me

From North America 2009 Pt 2

So this time I went back.  But not to the Gun Store, I did things a little bit differently.  I went to a new place that had opened up, one that was a little bit more glitz and looked much nicer.  You had to make appointments rather than just walking in off the street (you could do that but they told me the likelihood of not waiting was slim.  So I booked with them, the girls that worked the counters and helped you out were pretty hot to (not that I chose it just for that reason ;)).  It was a bit more expensive, but what made it even more awesome was that they had an M203 Grenade Launcher and for $40 you could shoot off 2 rounds.  SOLD!  Even better than the M249 that I shot last time, they have a Vietnam Era M60.  This thing is old school Belt fed.  With big time rifle bullets 7.62mm.  Much bigger than the M249 which shoots standard NATO 5.56mm.  So I took that, all up it set me back about $220 for what I shot.  It ROCKED!  The M60 kicked like crazy, and I of course, got the recreated photo:

From Vegas Avgeek Style

I may look stupid holding that handle but this is right after I fired it so if I held it any other way I would have no skin on my hands and 3rd degree burns.  Pass on that!

So much good happened on my trip to Vegas.  Doesn’t mean it all went according to plan.  I had a great time don’t get me wrong but I would definately change a few things for next time and a few things I will do again.

Good Things to keep
1.  Stay off strip –  Staying at the Trump was good.  I really enjoyed staying back from the Strip, but what I think I really need to do is stay out of the main strip area around MGM, Paris, Bellagio etc.  It is way to crowded.  I would rather stay that half a block back or maybe even further down the strip around where Wynn & Encore are.  Sure they may be out but its quieter down that end and theres not so much hassle.   It meant I could run the strip and not worry about crowds in the morning or the crazy footpath system.
2.  Hire a car – I didn’t spend my days lazing by the pool or all day at the Casino tables (hell the only time I gambled on this trip was the $1 I fed into the slot machine at the airport) so I spent the majority of my time out of the hotel, out and about.  The Car made it super easy to get around.  Navigating was a bit of a pain in the ass as Vegas is a bit one way streetish, but I found my way easy enough thanks to my phone.  All the casinos have free parking and that just made it smarter in the end.  I may look out for a better deal or just priceline something next time but a car is definately the way to go imo.

Things I would do different
1. If I was to go to Aviation Nation again (entirely possible) I would probably not plan anything else but that.  Because I booked in the gun range time, I had to leave the show by a certain time.  What I didn’t expect was the crappy weather the first day compared to the second.  If I had of left it open I could of bailed on my plans of snapping all the shows the first day and the statics the 2nd when I had the reduced time.  I think what I would of done had I not booked it would of been to reverse my days and snap the statics the first day and then I would of avoided the crazy ass weather.  Mind you hindsight is awesome, so I can say this now but yeah, next time I gotta be more flexible.
2. Don’t Bother with the M203.  Sure it was awesome to fire a grenade launcher, not that I will get another chance but the let down was that it was not a proper round.  Not even a bean bag round.  All they let me shoot was essentially a shotgun round in an adaptor made out of a 40mm round.  So It made it look like I was firing a grenade but it was just a buckshot round.  So not what I thought I was going to be getting.

It was a pretty great trip and thoroughly enjoyed going.  But Vegas is way more fun with other people, that I know for sure.  So I will wait again till I end up going with someone else but unlike the saying.  Whatever happens in Vegas, you are guaranteed to hear about it!