Tuscan Sun

1 09 2008

.. (B)etween Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.


Flying Standby

24 08 2008

I fly ona  tight schedule, usually fly out straight from work and fly in hours before I am due in my cube. The joy of catching an earlier flight (so I can run in the dawn in Beijing) or forsake a seat for complimentary upgrades or vouchers is infinite with adequate planning. This is not possible if I am flying in a group.

  • Before you leave home, check the airline website for any earlier direct flights identical to yours (you cannot fly standby if you have an itinerary with more legs but you can standby on separate legs independently)
  • If you find flights before yours that you could take, check online at Seatcounter if the flight is full. If you see more than a few red Os next to your flight, it’s not worth your time. Look carefully at your ticket as you need the booking code/class. Or call the airline.
  • Inquire at check in if they can confirm a standby seat. This is increasingly difficult for domestic flights and you will be directed to the gate. This is also some incentive to get there early. You could also get an exit row.
  • If you cannot confirm standby at the gate, give them your name and hold on. You cannot check in luggage in this case. They might call your name just before the jetway closes.
  • Separate your reservation into single-person itineraries. This actually works.
  • You’ll get bumped to the top of the standby list if you have elite status with an airline.
  • Be prepared as oftentimes standby seats are the worst, next to fatties near the lav.
  • You could be standby on any flight at any other time during the day OTHER than your own. Be careful if you opt for a later flight as if it is full, they have no obligation ot take you.
  • An earlier flight is a gift but just do not count on it.

Weather Modification

23 08 2008

Through a friend’s window in Beijing six months ago:


Earlier today:


Chinglish Error

22 08 2008

The characters read “Dining Hall” but clearly nobody took the time to check if the English translation meant the same.

China Lodging

31 07 2008

Beijing: Ascott Beijing Hotel. No. 108B Jiano GUo rd, Chaoyang Dist. (86-10) 6567-8100. $250

Chengdu: Shangri-La Hotel. 9 Binjiang Dong rd. 86-28-8888 9999. $150

Xi’an: Xi’an Hyatt Regency. Dong Da Street. 029-727 4334. $145

Shanghai: Eton Hotel. 535 Pudong Ave, Pudong New Area. 86-21-3878-9888. $202

All rooms were superior or suites, with club level or breakfast included.

Karaoke Night

14 07 2008

Matt’s Back

12 07 2008

If you’re wondering “Where in the Hell is Matt Harding“, you are not alone.