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A revised LAX post

Photo of the Theme Building at LAX, taken from my phone

Yesterday I wrote:

I’m sitting at gate 9 in one of LAX’s domestic terminals, and it’s lovely. Proper chairs, power points, carpet, nice and quiet. People have told me horror stories about LAX, but either they’ve cleaned up their act, or I’ve had a string of very good luck the last few times I’ve been through here. But I digress.

Evidently, like a proverbial fallen ladder that some inconsiderate person must have walked under, the universe couldn’t let that stand. Clara’s flight was more than ten hours delayed by the time she took off from LAX back to Sydney. Overnight.

She said she understood that planes will have mechanical issues; the bigger issue was a lack of communication. Their gates were constantly being changed, once to one that didn’t even exist. Staff had no idea what was going on, and getting any kind of status update was like pulling teeth.

So LAX is fine, until there’s a problem, and it falls apart. Sounds like Sydney Trains. My dad avoided the airport like the plague; maybe I’ll heed his advice and travel to Vancouver or San Francisco instead, and only fly LAX domestically.

The theme building is still pretty cool, though.


Positive Southwest booking feedback

Southwest logo

People are so quick to jump online and whinge about negative experiences, so I thought I’d make a specific effort to post positive ones when they occur.

Last week I booked flights for a quick trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Southwest, on recommendation from a colleague. I chose early Monday morning and late Friday evening to maximise my time there. The website was straight forward, booked, click click, got an email confirmation and an SMS, done.

Then I read the confirmation email… and my heart sank faster than the freefall lift that injured my shins back in Sydney. I’m looking at you, Eastern Elevators. I’d booked the flights the wrong way, with late night on Monday and early morning Friday!

Phone calls are the absolute worst things ever, so I had a poke around on the website. Low and behold, under Trips was a Change Flight link. Within half a dozen clicks I had the new flights booked, and at no cost, and without having to talk to anyone.

This may be normal, but it was a novelty for me how easy this was. Nice one!


Wasting writing talent on finance

I’m sitting at gate 9 in one of LAX’s domestic terminals, and it’s lovely. Proper chairs, power points, carpet, nice and quiet. People have told me horror stories about LAX, but either they’ve cleaned up their act, or I’ve had a string of very good luck the last few times I’ve been through here. But I digress.

The language on the Singapore Wealth Builder website is being wasted writing financial news. This is from their latest news on the United Overseas Bank:

Could it be the straw that broke the camel’s back? Despite the challenging operating conditions and the toxic loans from the ailing oil and gas industry, UOB stock had an enthralling fairy-tale run, surging from $17.20 in 2016 to $30 in 2018. It certainly seemed that nothing can stop the explosive form of UOB stock price, until the recent short-selling activities and property measures halted the majestic run.

6 July 2018 would be remembered as Black Friday for local bank and property stocks as Singapore government sent the market into a devastating tailspin with the announcement of additional property cooling measures. There was chaos in the stock market as bank and property stocks suffered from carnage.

Imagine if they were a sports commentator, or a science fiction writer.

As an aside, I’ll always resent UOB a little for buying the similarly-titled OUB, and thereby withdrawing one of the all time great logos to be used by a Singaporean company; this deserves its own post. And also, because the queues for UOB ATMs were always far shorter than the ones for DBS/POSB.

That was a lot of initialisms; another thing Singapore is known for. FYI.


The NASA X-59

Mockup concent photo of the X-59 flying over a rural town

I was ecstatic to sit in the cabin and cockpit of Concorde in 2016; albeit one on static display at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York. The idea that commercial supersonic planes would ever fly again in my lifetime seemed impossible.

There have been economic reasons precluding further development, but noise was as big a factor. Sonic booms generated by Concorde limited it to flying over the ocean between coastal cities; relegating it to New York to London and Paris over the Atlantic. The same route as the ocean liners of yore that I will also likely never get to experience. No Blue Riband runs for me; it’s a tough, tough life.

But there’s research being done to address the sonic boom. Jim Banke of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate announced this research last week:

NASA’s newest experimental aircraft, designed with quiet supersonic technology and intended to help open a new era in faster-than-sound air travel over land, will forever be known in the history books as the X-59 QueSST. [..]

Now under construction by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company at its famed Skunk Works plant in Palmdale, Calif., the X-59 QueSST is designed so that when flying supersonic, people on the ground will hear nothing more than a sonic thump – if anything at all.

I’m fascinated to see how they pull this off. Presumably one can’t just pull off sonic boom from a plane; it’ll take engineering prowess and ingenuity to accomplish its removal.


Santa Monica and Savage Garden

Stereotypical shot of laptop with Coffee Bean cups I've been taking here for years

I’m blogging today from Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles. This is an important place for Australians, for several critical reasons:

  1. It’s the setting for the closing song on Savage Garden’s 1997 eponymous debut album, Savage Garden. Hence my description of it being eponymous, you silly goose.

Wait, that’s only one reason. But my point stands! I was in primary school in Singapore in 1997, and heard those faux-American accented Australians singing in every shopping centre I went to. I hear it now, and it immediately takes me back.

Terrible photo of the Savage Garden cover next to the pier

From the song:

In Santa Monica, you get coffee from
the coolest places on the promenade.

Check! Well, we’re at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the promenade, not sure if that counts. But this chain means a lot to me; I spent a large part of my life hanging out in them when I was going to school in Singapore, and again in Malaysia. Most of the blog from 2005-2009 was written from those coveted tables near power points on a first generation MacBook Pro, when I wasn’t studying in Adelaide.

Those years were tumultuous, in as much they could be for a sheltered expat. Home? Where/what is that? I still don’t know the answer.

Back to the song:

In Santa Monica, on the boulevard,
you’ll have to dodge those inline skaters
Or they’ll knock you down

Those quintessentially awesome 1990s lyrics have long since given way to four new realities. First, I had to look up how to spell quintessentially. Second, self-entitled blogging experts claim you’re not supposed to start sentences with first, second, or other numbers. Third, you’re also not allowed to use skates, likely on account of the required, aforementioned dodging:

No skating!

And lastly, those skaters all gave way to electric scooters you can rent. I love scooters and badly wanted to try one, but I didn’t have a helmet. You may not need one, but I’m just enough of a klutz that it’d be a good idea.

Savage Garden, regroup and make more music. Maybe you could come back here and update your song to talk about the new Metro Line, or how while everything else looks so much different compared to 1997, chances are the jetty looks exactly the same.


Guacamole

This is my first blog post from Los Angeles! Though the topic in question is perhaps only tangentially related to the place. Like a protractor. Clara found a soft toy protractor in Little Tokyo and came this close to buying it.

I have a sinful confession: when I scrubbed my RSS feed subscriptions, I kept the foodie sections of many sites around. And I may have added others from sites I shan’t mention here, though if you know where to look you could figure it out.

Kristen Aiken collated a list in the The Huffington Post — or Huffpost a they brand themselves now — of ingredients that should never grace a guacamole, along with supporting documentation. They include:

Avocado icon from the Noto project

  1. Greek yoghurt
  2. Mayonnaise
  3. Green peas
  4. Brussel sprouts
  5. Celery
  6. Blue cheese
  7. Cottage cheese
  8. Tuna salad

All but one of these are correct. Diced celery in guacamole is amazing. I give them a free pass for cottage cheese; for while it tastes great as a topping, it royally messes with the texture if you mix it in.

The canonical Schade family guacamole ingredients are, in descending order of volume:

  1. Hass avocado; not sheppard
  2. White onions
  3. Red capsicum
  4. Celery
  5. Chives
  6. Smoked paprika; sweet is an acceptable substitute
  7. Tabasco sauce; jalapenos are a tolerable substitute
  8. Cumin
  9. Black pepper

It is your right to disagree with any of the above ingredients, just as it is for me to point out you’d be wrong.

The last avocado mentions on Rubenerd were a passing comment about trying to find my mum’s recipe in 2010, and a discussion of Avocado’s Constant in 2012.


An Oakland Blue Bottle coffee

That's a nice coffee!

Here’s somewhere I never thought I’d be blogging from: Oakland! Specifically, the Blue Bottle coffee in Old Oakland which has iced coffee and rhubarb bread. I’ve been to one of their beautiful San Franciscan branches in South Park, but I didn’t know the chain came from Oakland originally.

Nerdy confession: when I was a little kid and obsessively read atlases, I thought Oakland was where Oak Milk came from. Moving right along…

I got the 25 Muni bus to Treasure Island across the photogenic western span of the Bay Bridge, mostly to explore and grab lunch. But that’s where it stopped, so I had to venture back to San Francisco, then BART it under the Trans-Bay Tube. I’m not sure if BART can be used as a verb.

I was initially wary of venturing over, given Oakland’s reputation of being the downtrodden, dangerous brother of San Francisco. I guess in the same way tourists in Singapore are told not to venture to Johor Bahru, or Sydneysiders to Newcastle, even if they turn out to be fine.

I’m reminded of that legendary line from a Dave Chappelle standup:

When you leave, they say “oh my god, thank you SO MUCH for visiting San Francisco!!!” And when you get across the bridge, they say “Welcome to Oakland, bitch!”

But Old Oakland especially is beautiful, and I’ve counted as many people with cute anime bags as those with boomboxes. I think that may be the whitest sentence I’ve ever written, and for honesty sake I’m keeping it in there.

Old Oakland around the coffee shop

I might not stick around late, but I had to take a look given it’s right there.

It’s also noticeably warmer. San Francisco is bound by water on three sides, but I’m already a bit inland here. Clara is down in Los Angeles where its 20+ degrees warmer though, so I feel like I’m still getting off easy!

And despite that aforementioned reputation, this whole coffee shop is full of people on Mac laptops, iPads, and hipsters with paper, beards, and overemphasised hand gestures. And the Chinese American barista has a subtle English accent underneath.

Still, it’s a different world out here, even though we’re so close to SF. It’s hard to describe. If anything, San Francisco feels more like Sydney, and Oakland feels more like the east coast. Like Brooklyn is to Manhattan, though don’t make that comparison here or you’ll make enemies.

Now to find the Ask.com headquarters, which will always be Ask Jeeves to me.


Rubenerd Show 376: The Embarcadero episode

Rubenerd Show 376

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

46:01 – Working from the San Fransisco office of the company I work for the next month, so I went wandering around Mission Rock, Embarcadero, the Bay Bridge, the docks, and a bit around the office. I’d write a more detailed description, but I’m doing double Australian and American shifts right now! Recorded over a week in late June 2018.

Recorded in San Francisco, California. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released July 2018 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.


A Californian rooter van

Australian pronunciations and words are interesting. Much of what we say and spell is derived from British English, or what the internet has come to refer to as Commonwealth English. But we let slip with a few American terms that I had to get used to coming back from Singapore, like truck for lorry, soccer for football, and we also called our upper house a senate.

And then there are terms we share and even spell the same, but are pronounced differently out of varying degrees of necessity.

Take network routers: Australians pronounce them the American way like rawrter, instead of the British rooter. To root someone in Australia is to engage in sexual activities, presumably owing to a root’s vaguely-phallic shape. This is also why Americans should never encourage an Australian by saying they’re rooting for them, unless it’s for a specific risqué encounter.

A van in San Francisco with the title Rescue Rooter!

And its why my boss and I got a kick out of this van. San Francisco, where people get Amazon goods, restaurant food, and other things delivered to their doors.