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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
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
This book was an absolute shocking let down… this is going to be a major rant… be prepared
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!
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?
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!
Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!
Yeah thats very american of me but its a day that you need to be “American”. Today is a day for being thankful and grateful for everything we have, spending time with family (if possible) and just enjoying yourself with the traditional things for this time of year, Pumpkin, Turkey, Football & Parades. But is that really the true meaning of it all? Probably not, but to be honest that is how it seems.
A sure fire thing though, today is a big day for everyone over here. Most things are shut in preparation for Black Friday tomorrow (biggest shopping day of the year, so I am soooo avoiding it), everyone is wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving (who says americans are not friendly) and its celebration time everywhere. With a lot of people spending their time with their family, it kind of sucks that mine is on the other side of the world, but it’s a little bit easier when it isnt really a holiday I have celebrated before. I think Christmas will be tougher.
The hardest thing about today though for me is, What to eat. I have some roast Turkey leftover from last night, maybe some lovely pumpkin soup (will keep the pie for Saturday night I think to cap off a truly busy week). I will take it easy after the last couple of weeks of indulging while on my trip (I don’t feel right calling it a holiday), so will keep it all on the down low.
Pretty much I want to take this time right now to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, happy holidays. But I also want to say that I am thankful for the opportunities I have had (especially as of late) and that I am thankful for the friends I have over here in the USA, along with the friends and family I have spread over the world. I truly miss all of my friends back home, and miss my family, but those are the choices I made and I have no regrets for making those decisions.
Well it was bound to happen. Swiss Airlines cancelled my ticket. They decided not to honor the fare (shock horror) and just outright cancelled the ticket.
They did apoligise and sent me the following email:
Dear Sir/Madam,We are writing in regards to the travel you recently booked with Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. from Yangon (RGN), Myanmar. Unfortunately, as you must have been aware of, the fare you purchased was incorrect and resulted from an inadvertent error that was out of our control. While SWISS honors its commitment to the highest level of customer service and safety in air travel, it must also honor its obligations to its employees and shareholders. We are not obligated to provide our services for compensation that is obviously erroneously published and commercially infeasible. We are aware that good travel bargains are quickly recognized and booked, however principles of fare bargaining dictate that a service provider does not give away its services for almost free or at a loss. Because the fare you booked was not valid, we will unfortunately have to cancel your reservation and ticket. We are extremely sorry for this error and we are not increasing the price of your ticket; rather we will promptly issue you a full refund for the total price you paid for the ticket. The full amount will be automatically credited using your original form of payment. In the event that you would like to rebook your itinerary at the appropriate price, please contact your nearest SWISS service center or your travel agent. SWISS deeply regrets the inconvenience caused by the publication of the erroneous fare to the passengers who may have thought they had booked and purchased a valid ticket for an erroneous cost. We apologize for this unfortunate situation and trust your future travel on SWISS is comfortable. Sincerely,
Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. Malzgasse 15, Basel/Schweiz
Handelsregisteramt des Kantons Basel-Stadt
Not exactly the most nicest of emails, not even addressed to me personally. Total fail there. The booking is still showing live on Travelocity, so i will give it a few days to see if it dissapears, my card hasn’t been refunded yet. I sent a complaint to Swiss, not demanding they honor the fare but more the usual “blah blah blah i thought it was real, blah blah blah”. What i did ask for is that they cover the foreign currency fees if I get charged any by my credit card due to the refund. But I doubt they will do that, but hey.. worth a shot right?
It is totally crazy when events like Yesterday happen. Now when I moved over here, a few of the sales reps back home who looked after the USA, knew I was heading over and knew to say hi when they came over for an office visit. But then there was going to be times of those who looked after the USA and i didn’t know about it.
Like yesterday. Our Hamilton Island rep came into the office, I haven’t seen her in a while and all of a sudden shes in our office. She didn’t know I was working over here, I didn’t know she was our rep. I gave her the shock of her life and it was great to see a familiar face from back home! Even got the comment “how come we don’t get a greeting like that”
To be honest, the last few days have been rough, its my mum’s birthday so a bit of homesickness involved and seeing a familiar face or chatting to a familiar voice back home totally helps, makes things all the much better.
I don’t regret anything from over here, its just a matter of dealing with those little bouts of home sickness, dealing with the times that I would normally have a network of people to fall back on. Cause there are going to be struggle moments and its the little things that count!
One year ago I was stepping foot in Japan, starting off the 3rd and final phase of my round the world journey. It had been about 2 years since I had last stepped foot on Japanese soil, but this time it was to be a much longer stay. I was excited, yet scared at the same time. To be in a country where I have no possible way of communicating, or being able to even understand half of the crazy customs was just overwhelming, yet to this day, I want to go back.
Japan for me was a truly epic eye opener. I experienced a whole new world of things that I had never before seen, tasted, thought about or even smelt. I was there to try everything I could and just let it all sink in. I got to spend time with old friends, make new friends but more often than not, I spent that time by myself exploring. There was time for reflection and time for amazement. It is a country that makes me lost for words just sitting here trying to describe it. Out of all of the countries I got to explore during that trip, to this day Japan has been the #1 country that I have thought about since I got back. To be honest, I think it may have been almost my favourite country to visit.
Since getting back I have been thinking so much about returning it is not funny. Part of me just wants to get back there, yet part of me wants to do it right and go back and explore more. Can i Justify a simple weekend trip, can I use any excuse for just a 1 or two night stop. I so badly want to get back to experience the food, the culture, the atmosphere. To see my friend and do things I should of done before. Hell to do some of the things I did last time.
Often I am emailing my friend, who has almost the same obsession I do, about all the little japanese things we come across. Just the other day she tells me she found Red Bean in india. This instantly makes me want to find some redbean and eat it, right that very second. Why am I like this! Why does it have this over powering nature that is probably borderline obsession. What did I do to make this ever so overwhelming. I had been trying to plan a trip to use up some points on Cathay Pacific on something I could easily do, yet now that has been pushed aside for another time. Now I want to push a trip to Japan to the front of this. How I do this I don’t know but I can tell you one thing. I want to get back… now. If I don’t I am sure this obsession will take over a bit to much and then it will all be to much… way to much.
There’s two different topics I want to cover with this post but I will try and explain myself a bit first. It is political season here at the moment and after watching meet the Press in the gym this morning I wanted to talk about it a bit, but I also was going to post today about my comparison of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.
Let’s talk about planes first. The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds are the two air demonstration teams of the US Navy and US Air Force respectively. The blue angels (obviously the Blue part) have always been that little bit more of a dream sight for me than the Thunderbirds (red for the nose of their aircraft though they are predominantly white). Both teams are pretty similar to each other but each has their own unique attributes.
Unfortunately I can’t say one team us better than the other as they both have pros and cons. They both fly Jet Aircraft (F/A-18C for the angels, F-16C for the Thunderbirds) which have unique attributes of their own, but they are fairly even. The demos were pretty similar to each other with each having a few unique stunts of their own.
The cons though are pretty minor. The Blue Angels didn’t have as much of a ground show as the Thunderbirds did, but that made the Thunderbirds show, slow starting and a little bit boring at the beginning. I felt that the Angels had a bit more speed at times over the Thunderbirds but again this is probably due to the aircraft and not the team as such. Either way I can’t complain about either.
The one thing that seals the deal for the angels in my book is Fat Albert. The Marines who support the Blue Angels are not left out, they have their own show stopper a large C130 transport plane which they show off and it just makes for something that the Thunderbirds don’t do at all.
But the reality of the situation is that both teams are amazing at what he do and there is no real winner other than the public who get to watch amazing demos either way (better than the Roulettes anyway).
The other red and blue at the moment is the Battle between the Republicans (red) and the Democrats (blue) in the lead up to the presidential election. It’s been all over the media right now and to be honest I wish I could have a say.
Not being and eligible voter really means I can’t or shouldn’t say much but it’s a big thing over here. It feels like the elections are 1000 times more complicated than back home and always so full on. There are the primary votes where they choose who will be eligible for each party then the general election comes into it.
Last night the Republicans announced who will be Romney’s VP for the “ticket” but god Damn what a spectacle they make it out to be. The news covers everything minor little detail of the announcement like where he lives, what he does in his personal life, hell even what he cooks (apparently he makes his own sausage).
It’s going to be a fun few months I suspect in the lead up to the election in November, should be interesting to watch along, I won’t say who
I think should win cause I don’t have a say but I have a feeling things could be “hopeful” in November