Sunday, September 21, 2014
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Friday, September 05, 2014
Singapore's Chinatown was a few blocks away and I spent several hours wandering the narrow walkways and streets filled with kiosks of cheap souvenirs and really tempting food.
There was quite a decorative display on New Bridge Road-
I was reminded of the very dim memories of my childhood in Chicago when we would visit Michigan Avenue at Christmas time.
Except here it was 90 degrees and smelled awful.
As dinner time rolled around I made some decisions that non-adventurous folks might find questionable-
I decided on
I indulged in an appetizer of tasty char sui pork, then I bit the bullet and ordered a dish of chili crab which was really messy and very spicy-hot.
The chili crab is deep fried chunks of chopped crab you pick apart with your fingers - looking for nice chunks of succulent crab meat in the red chili sauce - a sweet/hot mixture that covers the dish and is served with little buns called mantou... I would have preferred some nice slices of French bread like we get in New Orleans to soak up all that liquid love...but when in Singapore, well,...you know the rest-
Listen to Uncle Jay-
If you go to Singapore, eschew the Raffle's Long Bar and the $40 Singapore Sling-
Hustle your ass over to Smith Street near New Bridge Road and get a Chili Crab.
The next day I had to go look at the site for another part of the event.
The festivities would be held at the Marina Bay Sands complex...
Specifically, in the skating rink, in the mall, across the street from the MBS Hotel.
I was up early anyway, and the place wasn't that far from my hotel so I figured I'd hoof it through the Downtown Core, past The Fullerton and down along the bay.
It was still early and overcast- only 80 degrees yet. What could possibly go wrong?
As soon as I left the Esplanade and got out from under cover, downpour.
I took cover in a tiny overhang near the Floating Stadium waiting for the deluge to stop.
It finally slowed to a drizzle and I made for the Helix Bridge to cross the downtown core inlet of Marina Bay.
Of course, just as I committed to the bridge- more rain.
The concrete on the bridge is glass-smooth- nice on a dry day- but deadly in the rain...
I barely made it over bridge without busting my ass- One hand on the rail for support, one arm outstretched for balance, high-stepping as fast as I can...
I got to the mall and spent 20 minutes toweling off.
(Lately, and especially in hot/humid climates I have taken to carrying a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-suggested accessory- Carrying a towel at all times.
In this case, one of the micro-cell sport towels. Really soaks up sweat (or rain) and wrings out completely.)
I was mostly composed when my meeting time rolled around.
They could barely tell I had been caught out in the deluge, except when my shoes sloshed and squeaked a bit as we did our survey.
Again- the details would bore you, but suffice to say the event will be interesting.
Kinda wish I was going to be there to see it.
We broke up - I had a wrap up meeting scheduled back in the office near the hotel later in the afternoon, but I had some time to kill, so I took a wander around the MBS before heading back to the Hotel...
The Marina Bay Sands is quite the complex...
Giant three-tier mall including skating ring, a monstrous underground two-floor casino (bottom floor=smoking, upper=non-smoking), and three residence towers, topped by a giant structure containing a bar, restaurant, and pools/spas - it looks like, for all intents and purposes, like a hurricane deposited a luxury yacht on top of a three-building hotel.
The middle portion of the structure is a huge infinity pool...
To which I would have to say "Nofuckingway, Jose".
I know a little bit about Asian construction standards, and a tiny bit more about seismology.
No. Not going there.
It sure is intriguing though..
If you want to go up and walk around and you're not staying in the hotel it'll cost you $14SD... There's a nice bar- KuDeTa - (Coup d'etat, get it? Heh) where you can go over your plans for World Domination with the rest of the cabal and enjoy an even pricier Singapore Sling ($50SD).
Interesting drink on the menu- Tony Stark's Pepper - peppercorn infused Grey Goose vodka, caramel syrup, lemon juice & seared pineapple.
One Dark & Stormy later (after a long discussion with a really cool bartender and manager regarding their rum offerings and convincing them to look into the Old Bundy line) I was outta there and back on terra firma (or in this case terra moistura) and heading back to the hotel...
The wrap meeting went off without a hitch, and I was back in the hotel working on my survey report all evening. I had a 4:00am departure for Changi on my schedule and I was not taking any chances on missing this one...
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Memo to Moms traveling with small kids:
If you're on a flight that is late arriving to a major transfer hub, how about you and your precious snowflakes stand aside on the Jetway and let the folks that are dashing to try to make a connection go past?
Mom with one in arms and two in the two to four year old age were the first ones out the door on the late-arriving flight.
As soon as they cleared the doorway at least 5 people behind broke into a run, vaulting the stanchions trying to make their flights...
Mom and her parade had taken up the whole jetbridge in a meandering stroll to the concourse, holding up the entire plane as they moseyed along...
C'mon folks... Use your head for something other than a spot to hang your beaded headband and your Prada sunglasses.
I went to the Singapore Indoor Stadium, blah blah blah.
The event is going to be interesting, to say the least...
I'm have mixed emotions regarding the event. I'd kinda like to be there-
but then again, given the technological challenges that are presented by the site, maybe not.
The inside is a bit sketchy...
They'd held a concert at the end of the previous week and still hadn't started the post-concert cleanup until the morning we arrived. If this is de rigueur for the site, things will be interesting. (And not in a good way.)
As always, I am able to find things that amuse me wherever I go...
This sign in the AV Booth was one of those things...
I took about 10,000 pictures of arena tech items, talked to the arena ops folks and generally made a pain in the ass of myself - raising flags all over the place to make the event ops guys aware of issues.
They usually run golf and UFC events- this will be their first tennis show...
We'll have 4 people on-site for this gig... I think things will work out OK.
I split the arena at 5pm- taxied back to the hotel in the rain, and after sundown I went on walkabout again...
Next up: Walkabout and MBS
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
We did cause a bit of a stir- two 6'+ Americans invading a little local joint...
Good conversation, good food-
We selected 5 or so dishes- One of the highlights of the meal was the KungPo (Gōngbǎo) chicken (which is so different that what you get in the 'States...)
You had to go prospecting through the dried chilies to find the nuggets of fiery chicken.
The other highlight was the spicy ribs-
Amazing... Spicy, meaty ribs.
Man, I wish I could find a place in the 'States that does ribs like this...
They reminded me of the ribs at DinShuiDong in Shnaghai.
After dinner I folded myself into a cab and headed back to the hotel... It was almost 10pm-
I set my alarm with following schedule in mind:
8:30 Head to the Arena.
Tomorrow was going to be another bite in the ass...
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Really, I have nothing to add, except to relate how I dealt with it recently...
(And for the four Constant Readers that keep emailing me "Was it you?" emails.
No. And it never will be. I'll suffer through someone else being an ass before I screw up everyone else's travel plans.)
On a recent flight from Austin TX to JFK, I had the displeasure of being seated behind an old asshat, get-off-my-lawn, nasty curmudgeon. The flight was full- and I (of course) was unable to get a bulkhead seat.
Nothing was right with this guy... He bitched because his wife wasn't sitting next to him, he complained about having to put his bags under the seat in front of him, he complained because it was too cold on the plane. - All items that he could have avoided- pre-select your seats when you book your tickets, get on when your section is called- not at thte last second, and ferchrissake- we're in Texas in the summer- they have to crank the AC while the door is open waiting for you, dumbass.
About30 minutes into the flight, the Curmudgeon decided to lay his seat down as far as he could... Which is not far, since my knees were holding the seat up...
So he starts banging the seat against my knees.
Yours Truly: "Hey- you're breaking my kneecaps."His wife just shut up- she wasn't getting involved.
Curmudgeon: "Well, I wanna lean my seat back!"
YT: "There is nowhere to lean back to. Please stop doing that."
C: "You can just move your knees! This is my seat and I'll sit in it any way I want."
He rang for the Flight Attendant (who had already had enough of his shit).-
C: "Thatguy behind me won't let me recline!"Curmudgeon's position was that it was his seat, to be used in any way he saw fit.
FA: (To me) "Sir, are you using a device to block the seat from reclining?"
YT: "No... Not unless you count my knees as a 'device'."
She had a look- seeing there was zero inches between the seat and my knees.
FA (to the Curmudgeon): "Sir- he's not using a device to block your seat. That's his knees you are banging your seat against."
The FA said that if there was a device being used (ie KneeDefender) the Captain would come back and confiscate it. But since it was just a physical issue, he'd have to deal with it.
He pushed and pressed and banged away- and finally got a couple inches of recline, mostly by reducing my patellas to a fine powder.
You want to play fuck-fuck, we can play fuck fuck.
I took my overhead AC nozzle, opened it full and swiveled it until it pointed it at the top of his head.
When to cold air hit his bald noggin he jumped up and turned around.
Curmudgeon: "What the hell are you doing!?"He buzzes for the FA again.
YT: "It's my AC nozzle. I can use it whatever way I want."
The FA says there is nothing she can do- it's my nozzle and I can use it any way I want.
He asked for a blanket and the FA turned him down. She said that blankets were only for the Business class passengers and they'd all already been distributed.
He fumed and fussed- his wife came up with a scarf he tried to cover his head with...
After about 30 minutes later he gave up.
He lifted his seat to almost full upright- then glared at me, then at the AC vent.
I reached up and cranked it back closed and pointed it to me...
He settled back down muttering to himself.
The capper was as the flight ended and I got up to get my bag from the overhead-
the guy was all of 5'2"- I looked down at him with my best "I'd crush you like an insect but I don't have time for the paperwork." glare...
He quickly looked away, busying himself with important post-flight activities in the seat pocket in front of him.
I could hear his wife-"I didn't know he was so big!" she whispered to him..
I supressed the urge to throw a "That's what she said" on her...
The FA gave me a nice smile and wink as I got off the plane.
I hope it was sincere- For all I know she was tired of my shit too...
The lesson of the story- United will confiscate Knee Defenders from you.
Or throw you off the plane.
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
That's not fair... Singapore is a cool city. The folks I met were really nice and went waaaay out of their way to be helpful- and in my dubious state of repair, I really appreciated their help.
If I had more time to see the city it would have been even better.
So, to rephrase: Getting to and from Singapore was a monumental bite in the ass, and I spent more time traveling than I did on the ground.
Not (never ever) doing that again.
(He said, emphatically, knowing full well that if They ask, and schedules dictate that kind of itinerary, his happy ass will damned-well be back in that middle seat for the Good Of The Company.
But my gung-ho Japanese salaryman spirit is slowly being ground to dust.)
I arrived just after noon at Changi and after finally getting through customs (33 minutes- gah) I hit up Uber for a ride...
(Have you tried Uber yet?
If you take taxis occasionally, I really suggest you look into Uber.
I have a long post coming up regarding this...)
Minutes later I was in a car heading into the city, skipping the 30-person deep queue for regular taxis.
Arriving at the hotel grabbed a quick shower and changed clothes. I really wanted to snooze, but I knew better. That way lies madness and completely fucked up time sense that takes weeks to recover from.
I went walkabout near the hotel, just needing to find an ATM to get some local dinero and a convenience store for in-room beverages.
There is not shortage of interesting signs around S'pore (as it is popularly abbreviated)...
And I took a wander thorough the Maxwell Street food market.
Lots of goodies on the menu there... Yeah. Not eating here.
One thing I didn't get a picture of was the most popular kiosk in the joint- the Hainanese Chick Rice stand... There was at least 50 people in line and they were serving up the most uninspired dish of off-color rice to everyone.
Most of the tables were fully populated and seemed to have the same array of food for the 3 to 6 people at each table:
One plate of beige rice (assuming the coloring is from the chicken element) for each person, and one communal plate of large-diced chicken that looked pretty bland. Add a large tumbler of boba tea for each person and you pretty much have it.
After my 3-hour walkabout I was pretty drenched- it was 95 degrees, 100% humidity and overcast. I took another shower and prepared to head out to dinner
One of my volunteers from the
Up Next - Dinner
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
*It has left me seriously considering dumping United as my preferred airline. An informal poll of the other traveling staff at The Company has revealed that only one in four is a StarAlliance/United victim. Most everyone else uses Delta/Skymiles. There is a smattering of OneWorld, but it seems Delta is the way to go.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
Going from bad to FUBAR now...
Missed my Hong Kong flight which would have eventually had me in Singapore just after midnight Sunday AM.
I saw the plane pull away from the gate as we were pulling in.
United Customer Service (spit) said "No problem. We have put you on tomorrow's flight."
No Fucking Way.
Trip is short as it is- I can't afford to miss a full day on the ground.
They finally put me on a shit routing-
At least I only lose 12 hours in-country.
I can't find any info on the SFO-TPE or the TPE-SIN flight... And I can't do seat assignments.
Taking wagers I'm going to be on Malaysian Air on one or both segments...
Upside: I've had several hours in Chicago to compose a scathing email to United (spit).
I hope whoever reads it has asbestos eyeballs...
(Dateline: 12:54edt, in the air over Tennessee I think)
Shit is going downhill fast...
First- flight time changed- 45 minutes earlier than originally scheduled.
Damn near missed boarding window.
Next- equipment issues at the gate- 40 minutes leaving gate, plus 10 more minutes to get off the ground.
Original landing time at O'Hare is 12:20p, my ORD - HKG boards at 12:40... I'm doing the math, and I'm a little concerned.
I have a bad feeling that a United gate agent is going to see me lose every bit of my charm and eloquence.
I might get to see what the holding cells at O'Hare are like...
One ray of sunshine- no checked bags so I can do an OJ through O'Hare if I need to in order to get to an alternate flight.
Won't be pretty...
Film at 11.
Edit- 1:13. I'm screwed.
Monday, August 18, 2014
This weekend was the Perfect Child's 21st birthday.
Big milestone calls for big celebration.
Saturday night saw a gathering of celebrants come from as far away as NYC and Philly, to about 25 or so locals. The Estrogen Palace was awash in adult libations and drinking games...
Rousing games of Quarters, beer pong, flip cup, and I think Truth or Dare since one of the Older Crowd who shall remain nameless was seen topless in the game room.
(Uncle Jay's beverage of choice- Angry Balls - Angry Orchard Cider and Fireball cinnamon whiskey. Wow.)
At Midnight we had to go to Pete's Bar in Neptune Beach to officially get "carded" and imbibe (legally).
Statistics for the house party are a little fuzzy-
6 or 7 12 packs of assorted beers, a keg of Mich Ultra (aka- sex on the beach beer- f'ing near water), 2 bottles of good vodka and a liter of Cuervo silver; handles of rum, Fireball, Cuervo gold, and a case of various wines.
Suffice to say, the PC was doing the technicolor yawn at about 3am.
Sunday found us in St Augustine at a bed and breakfast, recovering from Saturday, the heading out to a big late lunch and a 9 location pub crawl... Barleys Irish, George & Dragon, Columbia, Colonial Tap House, Pizza Time, St George Tavern, Sangria's, White Lion, and an outdoor bar with no name...
Good times- and no worshiping the porcelain god this time.
Now back to real life- airport runs for visitors, house cleanup, and for me, conference calls and prep for Singapore.
Life is good.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Take a toy novelty and some blackwash paint and a little creativity-
How to get shot by one of the Only Ones on a 'man-with-a-gun' callout.
But they look impressive as hell.
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
Thursday, August 14, 2014
There is supposed to be a big shindig at the Estrogen Palace that will probably end up in a series of drinking games like Quarters or Asshole...
I'm going to try to get them to stick with Quarters and it's permutations-
I'm had some bad experience with Asshole....
Like this and this...
Anyone remember this?:
Yeah- that's Yours Truly walking through the hotel lobby with my pants over one shoulder and shirt over the other... Listen to your Uncle Jay, kids- Don't play Asshole, ummmkay?
So- in order to keep things lively...
Drinking Game Rule Making
PhoneMaster - If any player touches their phone, the Phonemaster can send a text message of their choice to any name in the contact list.
ForeheadMaster - (Variation of ThumbMaster)-
Just like ThumbMaster but you put your forehead down on the table.
After a couple rounds, getting your forehead down before the last person leads to slamming your head down and perhaps a concussion after a few rounds.
Meow - Can't use the word 'now'... Players must use the word 'meow' instead
No Eye Contact - Players cannot make eye contact
Gummies - If you laugh, you cannot show your teeth.
Viking Rule - The Viking (rulemaker or designate) makes horn motions on his 'helmet' with his/her hands. Every one else must paddle. Last one to do so drinks.
3rd Person - No one can talk in 1st Person
T-Rex Arms - The designated T-Rex must use 'tiny arms' when they drink. Double up if they forget.
Anyone got any others to add to the list?
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
For ladies who insist on a red as their poison-of-choice whilst mooning over a lost love, just remember, red eyes and purple teeth clash. Stick with the white.
Yeah- the coconut flavor is fake, but the blinding hangover is real.
A/k/a - the Hipster's Delight. Just remember kids, it burns going down and coming back up.
Yes - at 11:00p, the bathroom is a grrrls bonding location.
At 2:00am, there are other bondings that occur in the bathroom:
1. Girls holding other girls' heads out of the toilet during dry heaves
2. Guy/Girl bonding (a/k/a hooking up) - because humping in a stall in the men's room screams "romance".
3. Viral/Bacterial - Because you can catch STDs by using public restrooms... So quit fucking in the bathroom at Skippy's Bar & Grill.
And listen to Uncle Jay- once you KNOW you are going to blow chunks- commit to it.
Because if you try to contain it, the mix of Jaeger, Kamakazi shots, iced tea and the cheeseburger & fries you had for dinner is going to get lodged in your sinus cavity.
That can really put a damper on your hookup possibilities.
"Maybe even go over" - Wow. That's a trip down memory lane.
Listen to Uncle Jay again: Nothing will sober you up faster from a night of boozing than a 9mm shot across the bow from
A/K/A - TALK LOUD & INSULT EVERYONE YOU MEET!
TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE