Monday, September 29, 2014

Who Didn't See This Coming

Heading to Shanghai this AM. Lovely 6am flight to EWR then on to PVG.

Five minutes into boarding they stopped and took everyone off.
"Maintenance Issues".

I am about to lose every bit of my charm and decorum.
I can guarantee an ugly scene if I miss my connection to PuDong.

Film at 11.

TBG, pissed.

Friday, September 26, 2014

This is now going on a full year of travel issues-
Last year at this time there was a bomb scare at JAX that caused me to have to drive to Orlando in the middle of the night to catch my early-morning flight to Newark and on to China...

I had issues with that trip and the subsequent trips to Krasnodar, Sochi, Sydney, the second trip to Sochi, and the other trips all thought the year.

Really... Is it just me?
Or is it United Airlines and/or travel in general that is just getting worse and worse.

I'm going to ask American if they'll match my United status to convert all my travel over to them... I wonder if they'd go for it?

It can't be any worse.


Aaaand - Canceled!




Changing The Name of This 'Blog -

It's going to be called:
"United Airlines Sucks And Other Travel Issues"

(Of course, it's been delayed even more now....

Never gonna make that connection.

This is just getting out of hand...


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rise of the Machines

After writing up this post, I got to thinking...

Maybe it's not...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arena Technology

No wonder arena hardware is always FUBAR...

Dark Matter?
One of these days, the clock will hit zero and the entire city of Chicago is going to collapse into a black hole.



Seen on Racine St in Chicago.

No sign or anything...

But I did find out what it was.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Signs Of Our Times

I think this is the place Borepatch goes in Roswell...


Notes from the Road - Food

There were some opportunities for tasty chow...
We hit several really good places...
If in Phoenix and you want a great meal, I highly suggest The Arrogant Butcher. Awesome...well, everything. (menu)

If you're looking for great regional food, I suggest The Fry Bread House on East Indian School Rd.

We really overdid it.

I had this frybread taco filled with chorizo and cheese. That bowl of lava red beef stew was a mistake.
A big, evil, hot, spicy, mistake that I paid for over and over for the next 36 hours.

Jason had 2 fry bread tacos and the green beef stew (even hotter, if you can believe it) along with some hatch chilies.

We continued taking our lives on our forks as we transited to Chicago...
I was not impressed with the famous hot Italian beef (dipped, wet)...
It just wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

That night Kui and I joined AdiW from the NBA at a pub near our hotel called The Exchequer for a Chicago deep-dish pizza...  (When in the Windy City, do as the Windians do.)

Chi-town deep-dish is insane.  It's more like a lasagna with crust.

The next night we decided on something more exotic...
We wound up at a place called Yum Cha- a dim sum place on East Randolph.
Nice xiao long bao... (one of my weaknesses).

We also had some great pork belly, and Singapore chicken & rice,
and some lovely bone marrow.

The one thing that none of us had ever had prior to this was jellyfish.
A cold dim sum dish...

It was...uh, different.

Cold, very elastic. Tasted like sesame oil and rubber bands.

Ok... I can check that one off my list.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Who had 'Flight Delay' in the pool?

I'm pretty much done with United...

Flight won't make ORD in time for my connection to SFO.
I'll spend the night sleeping in the mud, blood and beer in the food court in the C Concourse then catch the 7am flight to SFO.
I'll arrive at SFO right when my meeting is supposed to be starting in Oakland.

I think this is the last nail in United's coffin for me.

True Dat

From Hope n' Change


On Second Thought...


Hey Road Warriors-

I know this is tempting, but you could probably drive some Honduran housekeeper into apoplexy with this kind of shit.

Don't do it.

Except maybe on your last day when you've been living in a Russian bordello.


Allegiances - Which House Are You?

Prospecting for Hidden Gems

When going to a new place I have a habit of combing through Google Maps and looking at restaurant reviews for places near my hotel or work site.

Thought I had found a winner in the form of a small cafe for breakfast...
...until I saw the name of the menu .pdf in the Interweb.

Either a completely clueless Do-It-Yourself restaurant manager-webmaster came up with this, or a malicious 12-year-old neighbor who built the site for said clueless restaurant manager is the culprit.
I betting on the latter, based on the rest of the website.


The Betting Window Is Now Open

Getting ready to fly again today...
Based on the last few trips, I am girding my loins and anticipating getting bent over the back of the couch by United Airlines yet again.

Item:                                                  Odds

Flight delay:              70% 
Equipment Issue:           40%
Irritating seatmate:       90% 
Bulkhead seat:             50%
Baggage Loss:              10%
Harpy Flight Attendant:    60%
Missed Connection:         45%
Broken entertainment unit: 65%
Adjacent seat empty:      .05%
Complimentary upgrade:    .0061%
This one's not so bad: 2.5 hours then 4.5 hours to destination.
Next week, though... That's gonna be a bite in the ass - 2 hrs, then 15 hours.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Notes from the Road - Phoenix

I was in Phoenix a while back... too damn busy to blog very much.
Just a few pics here and there on Instagram.

While we were there it was pretty nasty at one point...

We had a sandstorm come through one afternoon... Howling winds and a grit in the air that was all-permeating.

We took refuge in a local watering hole...
The Palomar Hotel has a breastaurant, the Tilted Kilt, as part of the complex.

There are a couple things about that place that I greatly admire...


Um, Yeah, I Guess...

From our "Don't spend too much time thinking about it" Department:


Sunday Musical Interlude

How about something fun...?
(And perhaps a little silly).
Everyone remember those damned Six Flags commercials?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where Is Your S.O. On The Hot/Crazy Matrix?


Friday, September 05, 2014

AAR - Singapore - Monday Night Walkabout & MBS

After the rain subsided late Monday afternoon I went back out instead of succumbing to the lure of the soft bed and air conditioning...
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 dining eating at some of the little alfresco eateries on the street in Chinatown.

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, 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.
No regrets.

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".

Seriously- nofuckingway.
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...


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Best Sellers

Want to know what the best selling magazine in the Middle East is?


Exit Row, Baby.

Certainly can't complain about legroom on this flight.
I'll need to take a taxi to get to my bag, though...

Letters To People Unlikely To Respond: Clueless Traveling Mom

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.

Annnnd....another delay.

Whoda thunkit?

Every. Damned. Time.

Its like a law of nature or something...
I fly on United, I get delayed.

En Route

25,000' 6:17am.
Heading to Phoenix via Chicago.

AAR - Singapore - Work Work Work

There's nothing more boring than details of someone else's job.

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


Words of Wisdom

Still thinking about the medicalert bracelet.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Self Preservation

Know where the nearest exit is.

And in this case, bring a hammer.


AAR - Singapore - Dinner

We arrived at the same time- Mark's a big ol' boy from Georgia (State of, and a UGA grad to boot) who works for a big intentional manufacturer.
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.
Sooo good.

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.
Remember these?

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:

5:30 Alarm
6:00 Breakfast
6:30 Walkabout
7:30 SSS
8:30 Head to the Arena.

Tomorrow was going to be another bite in the ass...


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Welcome to the Party, Y'all

Re:  Seat reclining on flights, either long or short.

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."
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."
YT: ""
His wife just shut up- she wasn't getting involved.
He rang for the Flight Attendant (who had already had enough of his shit).-
C: "Thatguy behind me won't let me recline!"
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."
Curmudgeon's position was that it was his seat, to be used in any way he saw fit.
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!?"
YT: "It's my AC nozzle. I can use it whatever way I want."
He buzzes for the FA again.
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.



We has it.

To which every parent will reply: "Yep. Pretty much."


AAR - Singapore

The site survey to Singapore sucked out loud...

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 Masters A Nice Golf Course lives in Singapore, so in advance of the trip we arranged dinner for Sunday night... He selected a Szechuan place not too far from the hotel.

Up Next - Dinner


*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.

Eugene Stoner's Contribution to Freedom