Monthly Archives: August 2012

Plane Stupid

“Airlines.” It’s a word some people hate, some people love. I am vaguely indifferent. I have, however, a pet hate that I am going to detail now.

Seat allocation. OK, let me start by saying I am not a serial complainer, and I will generally put up with a fair bit before I reach into my bag and put on my ugly Australian hat. But seriously, is the seat allocation computer at every airline actually just a giant chocolate wheel out the back?

My wife, daughter and I recently travelled back to Hong Kong from Paris. As we checked in, the standard problem appeared. My wife and daughter are together; I am in a galaxy, far, far away. That would be great if Missy was a teenager; she could sit wherever she wanted, and far away would probably have suited us both. But she’s two, and we really needed to be seated together, especially if Missy won’t sleep, and constant entertaining was required.

So, as we seem to do with every flight we take, (despite requesting being seated together when we booked the flights), we asked if we could get moved. “Non Monsieur, impossible” – the standard check-in persons retort to seat change requests.

So we get on the plane, and here it is: There is a 1 year old in my seat. Why? Because Madame seat allocation monkey, had split up the 1 year old from his mother, who was put 3 seats away. On the other side, another mother is desperately trying to change her seat, as she has also been spilt up from her 5 year old. To add to that confusion, she had a 6-month-old baby, and her 5 year old had been allocated the seat with the bassinet. She was put across the aisle. Two friends, who wanted to sit together, but aren’t, are then thrown into the mix.

It soon became obvious, now stay with me folks, that if I swapped with the 1 year old, mother and baby #1 were happy. Then if the man who was split from his friend and I swapped, two friends would be happy. Then if Mother #2 and I then swapped, we all would be happy. Granted I did the majority of swapping, but it had to be done in stages for my simple mind to put it together. In the end, we all worked it out.

So basically, 10 people had been mindlessly seated. By maybe using a teeny weeny bit of commonsense, all 10 people could have been seated together, and in the right order. In fact, it probably took some skill to so totally stuff the seating up. I get it that maybe it happens that my wife and daughter might have to sit together and me elsewhere, but to allocate separate seats for a mother and a 1 year old baby borders on incompetence of some magnitude.

This is not an isolated incident. It happens to parents, friends and lovers all the time. And believe me, I know. My previous job meant I travelled a lot. For 2 years, I was a top 10 frequent flyer in Asia for a large airline. I have literally been on hundreds of flights, long haul, short haul and everything in-between. “Split-ups” as I call them, happen more often than not.

Maybe there is a logical explanation, (I think not) but in any event, what would be nice, next time you are on a flight and see distressed folks who just want to spend a flight together, offer to move, if it will help. I’m not saying give up an exit row or aisle seat, but if it makes no difference, man up – and help out. You would be amazed at how many people, even if it’s a comparable, or sometimes better seat, won’t budge.

BEST BLOG IN THE WORLD! (OK, not really; just a mildly amusing blog of the day)

I was recently awarded an award. Now, that’s surprising on so many levels. Firstly, it means someone actually reads this blog, secondly, they thought it was worthy of an award. While my “chuffed” meter registers a 10, I humbly thank Expat Alien. Go and have a look at her entertaining blog.  She has even written a book, and a proper book you can buy on Amazon, and even Kindle, whatever that is. So thanks K!

The award is for “Inspirational Blogs,” so I started by looking back through my posts… I kind of think Expat Alien made a typo and included me by mistake, Peter Sellers “The Party” style, but TOO LATE! No taking it back now!


So – what inspires me?

My Wife and Daughter

Two girls who I adore and who both, in their own way, make me a better person.

Hong Kong

Without Hong Kong, my blog may not have started. This place is truly crazy. There is material here to keep a writer occupied for a millennium. From fashion, to the weird world of Canto pop stars, I love it all.

Ordinary people

I’m not interested in what Sting, or any rock star, has to say on any subject other than music. The same goes for billionaires, sports stars and rich politicians. My experience is that money doesn’t make you smarter; in fact, it makes you dumb.  That’s why I like blogs, ordinary people writing extraordinary things.


Here’s a weird thought, experiencing other cultures, and being tolerant of them, might just be a good thing. Extremism, in any form is unacceptable: be it Muslim, Christian or Atheism. Travelling to different parts of the world has tempered my own intolerance and seeing other cultures inspires me. Humans are capable of remarkable things.

I am going to pass this award on to a few blogs I love.  Blogs that make me laugh out loud and make me think.

The Blog of Funny Names

OK, I can only dream of being funny like these guys. This blog of real names is superb.

But Im Beautiful

They broke the mold when they made Rose. Witty and funny, her blog will also touch you, but not in a weird way, like a grabby uncle, in a good way, like a letter from the tax department, saying they are no longer auditing you.

Dysfunctional Literacy

I always get a laugh from this blog. Great lists and insights into topics such as Sharapova’s grunting, you know, the important stuff.


Does anyone in the world not own a mobile phone?

I recall a time, maybe a hundred years ago, when mobile phones didn’t exist.  Remember? No, probably not.  They have invaded our lives to such an extent, that it’s inconceivable to imagine life before them, nor contemplate a day without them.

Here in Hong Kong, local phone calls (landline to landline) are free. You might think that’s wonderfully generous, and a super deal – except – everyone uses mobile phones. A large percentage of Hong Kongers don’t even bother to install a fixed line telephone.  Every social class, from top to bottom, finds the means to get wirelessly connected.

I have spent some time in Africa, and I can attest – if you pay a visit to a shanty town in Zambia, a large part of the population live in mud brick houses, and if they are lucky, will have a thatched roof, if not, corrugated iron covers their meager possessions – not so comfortable in 35 C (95 F) summer heat. Yet standing outside will be groups of people, on their mobile phones.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, there are many advantages to being connected, and I believe that people should enjoy a few luxuries, regardless of their circumstances. Oh and also, for writers, it’s manna from heaven.

Years ago, a funny video was watching a dog chase its tail, or a teenager trying to jump his bike over the cat, only to see the ramp collapse… These days, it’s people on their phone – I certainly do it, I bet you do it too: total unawareness while texting or talking. Mobile phones have changed the way we perceive the world, well, actually they have taken our perception away completely.  Take note: (this is a YouTube video, not spam)

When I had a real job, my phone was my friend. I would get kind of edgy if I hadn’t checked it for more than 10 minutes for emails or messages; I needed it; it was a drug. Now, of course, as a writer, I don’t feel the same need to be ‘in the loop’. You know, it’s kind of liberating. I still won’t leave the house without it, but now, I don’t need to be constantly checking, or using it.

Sometimes, it feels as if I’m watching a movie, I get to observe the world around me without my nose stuck in my i-whatever.  The amount of people who barely glance up as they go about their day is staggering. I have endless fun watching people bump into posts, walls and each other; it’s “The Plague of the Zombies” on a daily basis. Now if only I had a phone that records video, I could…well, become one those people again.

I read the other day of a group that organizes “technology free” holidays. No phones, email, Facebook or Twitter. It’s called a “digital detox”.  Don’t believe you have a problem? Then simply leave your phone at home one day, see how you go. Don’t Twitter, facebook, sms or call anyone for, say, 8 hours.  Sit on the bus/train/ferry or tram, look out the window and admire the view, rather than play a game or answer emails, just for 20 minutes. It’s hard. We are so connected and dependent on technology that life without it is hard to do.

I’m a realist, unplugging is nothing more than temporary, but give it a go, see if it’s as easy as you think it would be.

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