Worlds Largest Game of Chicken

So it seems that since I am a bit of an avgeek its time for me to weigh in on this lovely Qantas drama. After getting home from work yesterday I was bumming around on the net when all of a sudden my twitter feed started going crazy. Thanks to @winglets747 and his coverage of the drama as it all unfolded in Sydney I was able to keep up to date on everything. But thankfully I was not at work! God damn I was lucky with that i swear.

For those who don’t know or have been living under a rock the last 12-18 hours, Qantas has grounded its entire fleet in preparation of a lock out that goes into effect Tommorrow morning. So in essence, Qantas has shutdown all mainline and international services. The only ones still operating are Qantaslink, Trans tasman Jetconnect and Jetstar services (in other words stuff not run by Qantas themselves). This is the world’s biggest game of chicken with the Unions on one side and Alan Joyce (ceo of Qantas) on the other.

While we wait to see who flinches first, this is going to be a rough week I think. I hope it won’t last that long but seriously, anything more than that and we are going to have mass problems here. I think it is a ballsy move to do what Qantas management are doing but I just don’t know if it’s going to work. The pilots union have caused problems in the past and the Transport workers union I am sure won’t flinch easily, but who knows what is going to happen.

I see this getting majorly messy if it lasts more than a week with total and utter choas and confusion. Work is going to be a crazy mix of hell this week I can guarantee that. Thankfully I have tuesday off! So who will know what is going to happen. I hope it just dissapears off the radar within a few days, but i doubt it. I really do!

Book Review – The Black Sheep

Well it has been a few weeks since my last review and now that I am back reading real books, I have plenty to get through.. so without further adew

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The book today is “The Black Sheep” by Bruce Gamble. This book is a good old Non Fiction. Exactly what I have been wanting for quite some time. But like you would expect with me it’s about one of two things. Planes or Military History. Or in this case, both at the same time.

The book looks into the story behind VMF-214 – The Black Sheep. A famous World War 2 Fighter Squadron (VMF Stands for Marine Fighter Squadron) that had a very “checkered” past. At one point the Squadron was lead by Greg Boyington who was the highest scoring ace in the United States Marine Corp (although this fact is disputed in the book with proof) and follows the history of the unit from its inception through to the end of the war.

The book is a pretty good general look at the lives and times that followed these men as they flew F4U Corsairs in the South Pacific (mainly around the solomons) Campaign. Now for me this book was fantastic as one of my favourite aircraft from this era is the Corsair. It just draws me in with its gull swept wings. I don’t know what about it draws me but I just love it, so reading this book was a dream really. The book covers a lot of history as the squadron had a bit of a past as they had several different versions during their time but to be honest it made it feel all the more real.

At the end of the War, this Squadron became even more famous as during the 70s a TV Show was made about them (Funnily enough called Baa Baa Black Sheep) and their famous CO. Although I have never seen the TV show part of me wants to hunt down a copy of it now because I would just love to see it. The Squadron still exists to this day (albeit with a different title as they are now an Attack or Strike Squadron whatever way you want to look at it) as VMA-214 flying out of Marine Corp Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

If you like this kind of thing, this is a good read. It’s not long (about 300-400 pages) but to be honest it was a good light read and the right size to read while travelling (which is what i did quite a bit of with this book).

De Ja Vu

Well this scene looks familiar to me. It’s cause i was here less than 7 days ago. I write this to you from the Alaska Airlines Board Room at LAX. After a stellar flight down from Seattle with Virgin America where I managed to snipe (an ebay term) my way to a First Class upgrade. It was such a good flight, watching college football the whole way down while chilling out and enjoying the big white comfy leather seats.

Now I just have another 12-14 hours onboard ahead of me and I am home.. to spend the rest of the day awake (I will so not be driving as I will probably be living on caffeine, adrenalin and absolute stupidity) to resync my body ready for work tuesday morning. I know that I am going to get slammed with jetlag but not much I can do about it. Time to suck it up!!!

I had the most amazing time in Seattle. I am sure my waist line took a solid beating over the last week with restaurant week in full effect (went to 3 restaurants that were serving it) and then had some amazingly good sushi and last night a fantastic evening of fresh pasta and some warm Marionberry Pie with Snickerdoodle (lols) Ice Cream. And then today filled with even more goodness after having the wierdest of breakfasts that was just amazingly good (although I had plate envy of everything else that went out).

My time working in Seattle was awesome and the people I was working with were fantastic. I wish I did not have to leave them but sadly time does come to an end. They were so generous to me that I wish I could do more for them. I know that i will stay in touch with them as I am sure I left a great impression.

Anyway i have to start the caffeine drip direct into my arm soon. I dunno if I will get any sleep on this flight at all, but i tell you what, I will be running on empty either way by the time i make it to the other end. I will probably skip the inflight breakfast on the other end though as I wasn’t a fan of the one given us on the way over, so at least i know what to expect when i get home… a yummy warm bowl of oatmeal … i mean porridge :D

Catch you all on the flip!

No Sleep Lost here…

Well being back in Seattle is awesome (although technically right now I am not in Seattle i am in Kirkland). I am loving being back in this city. The scenery is stunning, the coffee good and the food even better than I remember it last time.

So far I have had 2 restaurant week dinners (Steelhead Diner & I Love Sushi) and they have both been great (big props to Steelhead for the dessert mix up that netted me 2 desserts) and then lots of coffee consumed.

After a nice safe flight across the Pacific I managed to scam my way into the Alaskan Airlines boardroom at LAX and just to my luck the first thing I see on the runway… A Retro Jet… damn it! I searched for 2 months for this damn thing and it just randomly shows up. Bugger!

The scenery here is just stunning. The first couple of nights I had a room at the Marriott Waterfront overlooking Puget Sound and the sunsets were just amazing with the sky turning a beatiful orangey red both nights. Now I am staying at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland with views over Lake Washington and again it has been amazing. The sunset last night was great with again a slight red hue lighting up the sky.

Although it is coming into winter it is a little bit cold (low double digits) I can cope. A good jacket definately comes in handy!! But to be honest , I have been in worse and it is winterish… so i shouldnt complain cause im in a city I love!

Anyway i should get ready for work… time to earn some $$$

Off again

I have kept this one pretty quiet but I am off again!.  This time I am flying out to Seattle to do some work with a company we work with.  Flying for the first time with V Australia, so that Velocity Gold is already coming in handy.  Only thing is, since it is work, I am flying economy.  This will be my first flight in almost 4 years in long vial economy.  Not looking forward to that point all that much but to be honest I am not complaining.

To be back in the air is totally exciting to me and I am really looking forward to trying out new airline products and new hotels.  The other thing is it is restaurant week in Seattle.  That means uber cheap dinners st the best restaurants in the city.  The choices!

No trip report this time as it is a work trip but look out for plenty of photos, plus some spotting at SEATAC next Saturday.  Temps in Seattle don’t look good though. 13c max yesterday Ouch!  If the jacket I have (my trusty Vancouver Saloman) isn’t up to the task ill just have to do a bit of shopping, horrible thought that.

Anyway my ride to the airport is turning out to be shorter than expected… Catch you on the flip side

RTW Trip List – Finished!

1. Drink a glass of French Champagne in France – link
2. Drink a glass of Champagne onboard a long haul flight – link
3. Run Through Central Park – link Runkeeper Link
4. Pastrami on Rye at Katz’s Deli NYC – link
5. In’n’Out Burger – link
6. Drive a car in the USA – link
7. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge – link
8. Ride a “Bullet Train” in Japan – link
9. Hot Dog from a Cart – link link2
10. Food from a Truck in Portland – link
11. Sushi for Breakfast at Fish Markets in Tokyo – link
12. Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace – link
13. Visit Borough Market – link
14. Fly Upper Deck on an A380 – link
15. Visit Hiroshima (Japan) – link
16. Visit Normandy (France) – link
17. Touch the Berlin Wall – link
18. Ride a Train on 3 Different Continents – link link link
19. Sit in a Backwards Facing Airline Seat – Failed
20. Plane Spotting in San Francisco, Vancouver & Narita – link
21. Catch a “Flying Fish” in Seattle – link
22. Visit Alcatraz – link
23. Ride a Cable Car in San Francisco – link
24. Go Hiking in the Rockies – link
25. Ride a Bike – link
26. Go White Water Rafting in Canada – link
27. Visit a Location where Macgyver was filmed – link
28. Eat a Celebrity/Celebrity Chef’s Restaurant – link
29. Eat Chicken Rice in Singapore – link
30. Buy Clothes at a store in New York – link
31. Visit Macys – link
32. Go to the Rodeo in Canada – link
33. Drink a Glass of Wine in the Napa Valley – link
34. Visit a Brewery – link
35. Visit a Temple – link
36. Visit a Cathedral – link
37. See the Mona Lisa – link
38. Make new friends – link
39. Go Airline Lounge Hopping – link
40. Try to Meet a Flyertalker/Milepointer – link
41. Do Something Crazy – link
42. Go to a Baseball Game – link
43. Eat a Voodoo Donut – link
44. Visit the UN – link
45. Walk up the Eiffel tower – link
46. Wasabi Kit Kat – link
47. Buy Football Jerseys in the USA – link
48. Visit “China” – link
49. Buy a Fake Rolex – link
50. Spot a Retro Jet – Failed
51. Pay Tribute to a Flyertalk/Blog idol – link
52. Write a Trip Report – link
53. See a Broadway Musical/Show/Colbert Report – link
54. Meet up with some “Tweeps” – link
55. Go to a Whole Foods Market – Top Chef Style – link
56. Eat a “Giant Cob of Corn Husk on” at Calgary Stampede – link
57. Eat a Canadian Baked Potato at Calgary Stampede –Revised see 68
58. Spend the entire day at Calgary Stampede all the way to closing time – link
59. Walk the Highline in NYC – link
60. View a Ceremony that not many people ever get to experience – link
61. Eat in Restaurant that was famous for a General/President who ate/stayed there – link
62. Eat a “Concrete” – link
63. Visit a Crumpler Store Overseas – link
64. Drink some Siphon Coffee – link
65. On my birthday find a good looking stranger and tell them “it’s my birthday” – link
66. Go Spotting in LAX with an online Travel Blogger – link
67. Dennys Grand Slam – link
68. Find the most random food & eat it – link
69. Pretzel M&Ms – link
70. Climb a Mountain – link
71. Stop at a roadside Diner & have a slice of pie – link
72. Eat a Nutella Crepe in France – link
73. Macaron in Paris – link
74. See the Eiffel Tower Sparkle – link
75. Pretzel in Germany – link
76. Schnitzel in Germany – link
77. Go spotting in the middle of a city – link
78. Eat Fugu – link
79. Buy a Tailor Made Suit in Hong Kong – link
80. Have a Drink at the “Long Bar” in Singapore – link

Book Review – War & Peace

Well It’s about time i finished this book it has only taken me almost 2.5 months.  I mean seriously this is like the biggest book I have ever read at almost 2300 pages.  I started reading this book somewhere in Canada and had aimed to finish it before returning to Australia…. Wrong!

The book is one of those classics that people just try to avoid purely cause of the sheer size of it.  I al not sure if it was a history book or a novel as st times Tolstoy blurs those lines and you are not sure if you are reading a novel about life during the war of 1812 or of a histroy book on the event.

In saying that it is a tough read.  The book in the first half jumps around a lot back and forth making things confusing as hell, but by the time it settles down your over half way through and by that stage so dedicated to finishing it you won’t stop.  By the 1800 page mark you see the end and by 2100 your seeing those last 200 as though its 10 or 15 pages (my tablet battery died with 4 pages to go and no access to a power port or charger meant had to wait :( ).

I am happy to of finally finished the book and can cross it off my list of classics so that in essence I have started another item on my bucket list (reading the classics), but if it was not for the tablet I would not of even tried probably.

Return to the sky!

Well tomorrow is a good day for me.  A 3 day weekend essentially but not an ordinary one.  It’s the annual reward weekend for the top staff and since I came out at #1 I get to go.

Unfortunately it clashed with an event that I was booked into (sorry Trent & Bianca) and it pained me to have to cancel but I worked super hard for the last 12 months and the trip is to my favourite place in Australia.

Tomorrow, around OMG o’clock, I am off to Sydney and continuing on to Ayers Rock!  I love the fact I get to add another 4 pages to the log book along with a flight into an airport with a carrier I haven’t had a chance of using to that destination before (last time flew Qantas who had the monopoly till last year).  Add that to the fact I’m a newly minted Gold Velocity with Virgin and we have the makings of some fun!

I am looking forward to getting out into the desert and getting some photos taken to both panos and some HDRs which I haven’t shot in a while.  Get to travel with a few friends as well who made the top sellers so that is always more fun.

Can’t wait.. expect lots of tweeting if I have data range and plenty of photos on my return (although might have to wait till I’ve finished the current list of touch ups)

Now to get home, pack and sleep before getting up super super early

Status!!!

As part of my little hobby of collecting points and travelling one thing that makes it all worth it is Airline Loyalty programs and the status that comes with it in the higher levels. The higher the status the better the perks and its the same with levels that come with hotels as well.

Unfortunately the only program I don’t hold status with at the moment that i wish i did is Qantas. I have almost 200,000 points with Qantas yet i have no status at all. However the programs where I have little to no points I hold status… wierd huh. I have over the years obtained Silver Status with Virgin Atlantic of BMI thanks to website problems or mistakes but the two I currently hold I have earned, one the hard one, the other from an offer.

So thanks to all my recent tripping around the world I managed to earn Star Alliance Gold with Aegean Airlines. This level of status gets me into any Star Gold Lounge world wide when flying, free bags/extra bags and priority boarding and check in on Star Alliance Airlines. Big big big perks when travelling that is for sure. Thankfully obtaining this was a lot easier than getting it the hard way on other airlines that require 60-70 thousand miles flown, with Aegean its only 20! Easy++

Then because I was star gold I was able to status match my way over to Virgin Australia Velocity Gold which means I get pretty similar benefits over here when flying with Virgin (which i am sure i will be doing more of while I have this lovely gold status). Being an Elite flyer sure does make travelling easier!

I also managed to pick up Silver Status in some hotel programs including Marriott & Carlson Hotels, Gold with Hilton for a while (back to Silver for a little bit) and also Gold with Accor. All come with lovely benefits which make hotel stays so much more comfortable and fun!

I am enjoying this hobby and my next 12 months of travelling should be all the more prosperous (Although my Star Gold with aegean expires in 2014 w00t!).