Drama!

I was going to spare my readers on another trip report down to LAX for a same day turn. I mean how boring could it be considering all I went down for was to take photos of planes, hang out with friends and eat some In n Out. I will still post the plane photos when I get around to doing them (there are lots of them, and I am still working on Dallas photos yet). However Saturday didn’t go entirely as planned with my rental car, so let me explain.

I like renting from National Car Rental. They have good service, they allow me to pick and choose whatever car I want from the lot and the rates are pretty good. My rental in LAX for the day is usually $30 all in (the taxes in LAX are beyond stupid) and I usually get a full size car, of very good quality. In the past I have had Challengers, Maximas, Chrysler 300Cs, GMC Terrain, Chevy Equinox, Mustangs, Camaros and also a Hyundai Genesis that had all of 20 miles on the clock (i put it to 28 by the end of my day with it). I have only once had a problem with a car with them and that was a Chevy Equinox that had a tyre pressure sensor issue, but that was also probably due to the humidity in Wisconsin in the summer. They gladly swapped it out for me without a hassle.

So fast forward to Saturday. Looking forward to what is on the line in LAX when I roll up and there is a lot of Full Size Sedans to choose from. There was the occasional Tahoe, Yukon and Arcadia, but mostly it was Impalas. Both the LT & the fancier LTZ version. I went with a California Plated LTZ (I thought I grabbed the Texas plated one, I was wrong). It was a pretty nice ride. Leather seats, power everything, even a GPS sat nav that was disabled. Pretty damn good looking to:

From Dorkfest 2014

It handled the morning pretty well. After picking it up, I rolled back over to LAX and picked up Jason, then we headed off to Proud Bird for some spotting before heading over to the Ralph’s (aka Safeway)/CVS before heading over to In n Out. Parked up at In N Out (after stopping to get some water at CVS) around 11am and it was in a prime spot, right out front. From that moment on, we didn’t touch it for several hours. Here it is sitting on the street outside In n Out

From Dorkfest 2014

After scoffing down a burger around 130pm in between plane arrivals. We were betting on what was going to happen with the All Blacks 777 due to come in. It normally goes to the South Runway but a lot of the heavies were coming north that day. It was all over the place craziness and Jason, John & I flipped a coin (well Lens Cap really) to see if we would stay or head off to Proud Bird to grab the photos. It ended up saying we had to move, so off to the car I went with the boys in tow. Since I was the one who knew where to go, I was driving. Get in the Impala (and this is a version with the touch to start button), push start and expect to start driving away. Nope! Car wouldn’t start at all. It just would not turn over. Tried to get it to fully shut off (but of course being that there is no where to actually put the key it is a bit difficult) and I couldn’t. No matter what I tried it just wouldn’t kick over.

I told Jason & John to head off and I would catch up when I could. I called National and they said that they would have to come tow my car. No way to send someone to just come fix it, it would have to be towed back to the depot and replace it. The stupid thing is, I was barely a mile from the depot! I could freaking run there! (I did consider it). The kicker of the whole thing was that the National Car Rental staff told me it would take 90 minutes for a tow truck. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! An hour and a half to wait for a tow truck. When I could run to the damn depot and get a new car faster than that. I tried a few more times to get it started and it wouldn’t work, so I succumbed to the pressure. I called National back and tried to work out if there was a better way for me to get a new car faster. They told me that since I was so close to the depot. If I went back with the keys, I could swap it out for a new car and they would send someone out to get it later. Awesome! Pulled up Uber and they had cars 3 minutes away! So as I requested the car and hurridly packed all my crap up, things went from bad to worse. The Uber driver called and told me that unless I was in the terminal, he wasn’t going to come get me. Which was stupid because I was right next to the airport! So i cancelled the Uber order and re requested, got him again! Tried an UberX this time and the app kept locking up,so just as I was about to try restarting my phone, a friend came over. He saw me having problems and then right about that second the Tow Truck shows up. SAVED!

By this time I was way frustrated, had enough. Jason & John decided they would come get me and then another friend was calling me to find out where I was. It meant that I didn’t really need a car now and after a total of 5 miles this morning in the new car, and by this stage, barely 3 more hours with it before I had to go back to the terminal, I just wanted to get rid of it.

From Dorkfest 2014
From Dorkfest 2014

More fun times back at the National lot as the Tow Truck driver had no idea where to take it, and to be honest, neither did I. It was just a comedy of errors! I was so over it, so by the time I got back to the lot, the first staff member who was getting me a receipt, well I said “I’d like a full refund please” To which I got “I can’t process that, you will need to go upstairs. So off I went, but the lines were huge. REALLY huge. Wouldn’t stand that, considering they would ask for a Duty Manager anyway so that’s what I did. Pointed out into the parking lot to get the duty manager, to which he promptly gave me his card, took my rental receipt and details and said he would get it fixed.

So now the waiting game begins to see if this gets fixed and refunded. Will I stop booking with National? Nope probably not. Will I drive a Chevy Impala again, not unless I am forced to! I guess it happens to everyone eventually. In the end of the day I still got some pretty awesome photos, had a blast with my friends in LAX and came home to Seattle, sunburnt with 1200 photos and super tired. All in all a pretty decent day, Drama non withstanding.

Can’t we all just get along…

Ok so I am sure many people as of late have heard about the recent increase in Seat Recline incidents. After the first such incident, I didn’t want to really say anything. My friend David Parker Brown, put out his piece on the brouhaha that occured and I figured that was as good as it would get. Boy o Boy was I wrong!

A bit of Back Story for those who have been living under a rock. Early last week a United flight from Newark to Denver was diverted to an onboard incident. The whole thing went down because a passenger was using a Knee Defender and the passenger in front of him did not like the fact that she could not recline. What is a knee defender? Well it is a device that attaches onto the Tray Table of your economy seat and stops the seat in front from reclining, as though it was broken. These devices are not illegal and the federal authorities couldn’t care if you used it. However the airlines do not allow it, and because you are captive onboard that aircraft, what they say, goes.

So how did this cause an altercation. Well two things happened, but the best way is to read this article about the piece from the AP. Pretty much this guy is now either the most hated man in America or he is the Bravest man in America, it all depends on who you ask.

Now I am not going to weigh in on the whole seat recline issue. What I am going to do is tell people to CALM THE HELL DOWN! Ever since this incident occurred there have been 2 more diversions due to “onboard incidents” with reclining of a seat back being the reason. I mean seriously people! Can’t we just calm the hell down please. If someone wants to recline, be polite about the situation, don’t go getting yourself kicked off the aircraft. People are blaming other passengers, people are blaming the airlines. No one is directly at fault here apart from the people causing these incidents. You can’t blame the person who designed the knee defender, you can’t blame the airlines for reducing seat pitch etc. The only people you can blame is yourself. If you are going to be childish about an incident, and doing it bad enough to get a flight diverted, you have no one to blame but yourself. Your behavior is unacceptable and you are now making it hard for everyone onboard that flight. Why should the rest of the flight suffer because someone reclined!

This is pretty much just me ranting for people to wisen the hell up and act like decent human beings. If you want to play the whole “recline blame game” go fly Ryanair, or Spirit

Icy Cold

Last night I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where you dump a bucket filled with ice water all over your head. Why? Because it helps raise awareness for ALS which is a disease that affects a good friend of Heidi’s family.

wpid-wp-1409063699858.jpeg

I was challenged by Heidi’s best friend Sylvia, and after I made my $35 donation (if you don’t bucket dump, it should be a higher donation) Heidi & I both did the challenge, right in the middle of the apartment complex’s driveway. Did I mention that we had just been to the gym on a hot summer afternoon? Ice Water over my head was so worth it (Heidi’s aim though was a bit off).

Proof that I donated

Proof that I donated

At the end of your challenge you can nominate 3 people to do the same thing. I had so many people I could have called out, but then so many of them seem to just not care. Everyone has their own opinion, and they are entitled to it, so I will leave it at that. I challenged my old trainer Andy, my good friend Yena & the Sales Manager at work, Jeff, who is someone who would do this and with his endless stream of people who look to him, he could make a big difference.

But don’t let it be said that I am one to step down from a challenge. I could spout on about how some people aren’t doing it right, but in the grand scheme of things $35 tax deductible donation isn’t a big deal, and hey I needed the cool down. Yena, Andy & Jeff it is your turn now.

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