Friday, September 26, 2008

Mileage Plus Retirement

This past week, somewhere over Da Nang, Vietnam ("The Nang!"), I rolled my United Airlines odometer by flying past the 1,000,000th mile. No credit card points, chocolate pudding, or codeshares here: This is 1 million actual flight miles on actual United-operated equipment, rapidly-deteriorating travel experiences and all. (Around the FlyerTalk forums this is referred to as BIS, or Butt-In-Seat, miles.)

Since most of the miles were accrued SFO-NRT (5124 miles), that works out to about (1000000/5124 miles * 9.5 hours per flight / 24 hours per day =) 77.25 days spent inside an airplane, most of it in Economy, over the last 20 or so years I've been signed up with Mileage Plus. Numbing. Brings shudders. But you know, slightly more bearable than earning with, say, SFO-SEA hops.

While others have reported a lackluster passing of this milestone, mine went pretty well -- since none of their systems talk to each other, though, I had to self-identify the occasion to the flight crew. No one sang, but everyone thought it pretty cool in a bemused "Oh, you're one of *those* people" way:

Hats off to Captain Mayer for finding the exact spot on the flight chart, which I got to take home!

For all this I'll now receive:

* Premier Executive status for life (big plus being reciprocal privileges on Star Alliance)
* 2 regional upgrades at the end of every year
* 3 systemwide upgrades on a one-time basis

It's a pretty dubious achievement, sadly, since it appears quite clear that I will outlive the airline.

I also learned that Singapore and Bangkok crew bases are being closed in October 2008. Yup, union contracts stipulate that the least-paid, hardest-working cabin crews get terminated first. This is a really screwed-up business.

But in the meantime, I'm now officially a liability to the company! Everyone fly United! Pay those fees!

And now, excuse me while I join the apparent bank run now in progress over accrued miles.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

When in Bangkok...

... eat tonkotsu ramen as the locals do. Of course.
From Bangkok '08

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Gyunoya WTF? FTW!

Where am I?
From Bangkok '08
Hint: People eat gyudon with a spoon in the right hand, fork in the left. Authentic-tasting 大盛り goes for THB 160.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hello from Laguna Seca

(from, where I apparently spend way too much time lurking.)

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lamborghini Tractors

In a parallel universe, we would have exotic cars made by Kubota and Yanmar.


New York for Kids: Emergency Vehicles on Demand

"Dad, when's the next building fire so we can see more firefighters?"

"Kids, I've already arranged for the police to shut down Columbus Circle station."


Monday, March 17, 2008

Dangerous Liaisons

A new hotel opening in Washington DC with, erm, a timely name.

The Liaison Capitol Hill, An Affinia Hotel

That homepage is just begging for a special package offer...


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Free Systemwide Upgrade on United Airlines

Happy New Year!

... and it's that time of the year again. If you are...

* Flying on UA before 1/31/2008
* Going far (preferably over 6 hours, bonus points for overnight flights)

... I have a handful of systemwide upgrade certificates turning into pumpkins at the end of January. Contact me for a free upgrade.

(Edited 1/3/2008 -- Wow, that was fast; maybe this wacky search result had something to do with it. I think the certificates are all claimed now, but if they fall through the waitlists I'll reach out to you folks. Safe travels!)


Friday, November 30, 2007

Open Your Own Door, Mister

So I've checked into an otherwise very nice, well-situated hotel here in Tokyo, for a wedding weekend...

Note to self: Next time, do not wear outfits that will have me mistaken as hotel doorman/staff! Doh.

Here's the outfit that I've packed:

Which will have me identified around the hotel as:

Maybe they'll let me drive away the Rolls if I act the part.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Is This Heaven?

It's Laguna Seca.

It's been said that around 60 of these Toyota 2000GTs reached the U.S. This sure looks like all of the surviving cars were here today!

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Car Geeking in Monterey

Next year, we're replacing the Maclaren with a McLaren.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


This was a darned good purchase. Went over well at both ends of our flight, although in retrospect it was kinda recklessly dangerous to let the kid ride it on the moving walkways.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Free Upgrade on United Airlines

If you are...

* Flying on UA before 5/31/2007
* Going far (preferably over 6 hours, bonus points for overnight flights)

... I have a systemwide upgrade certificate that's turning into a pumpkin at the end of May. Contact me for a free upgrade.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back in Cali

... where a whole giant tub of strawberries costs $5!

Arrived 12 Noon yesterday, went to bed at a seemingly normal time, and woke up at... 2 PM today! The older kid and I just slept FIFTEEN freaking hours. Hoping tomorrow AM would be more normal.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I am everyday people

Throughout the vacation we noticed ourselves as categorically the worst-dressed families in the residence. Most people in central Tokyo just don't loaf around in fleece, jeans, and sneakers.

On my friend Chris' advice I looked in the garage one day, and the sight there had me snapping some poorly focused cameraphone pictures. Hey, an SLR:

Great. Now our cars are fuddy-daddy too.

(Here's an supplemental link for all you non-car people.)

As a bonus, this exotic car dealership Bingo Sports was down the street from us; during our stay there they turned over a lot of wacky cars!

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Friday, April 06, 2007

My Vacation Map

Here's our Tokyo vacation map, a work in progress:

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

More Amazing Deliveries

We've been sourcing the baby's diapers from Amazon Japan, and the delivery times are just staggeringly fast. Free shipping means next day delivery. And for an extra JPY 600, you get same-day delivery. Hats off to the distribution system!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Amazing Deliveries

The laptop showed up today, and I'm back up and running with a new motherboard. (Video controller failed, replaced Planar M10-GL128GBE w/ TCPA 39T5495)

Kudos on the amazingly quick service turnaround by Lenovo Japan!


Monday, April 02, 2007


The whole town came up pink, and it's much warmer now. Gets people coming out in full-body tiger costumes.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Machine dead!

My laptop is off to IBM Lenovo for servicing. Thank goodness for international warranty service. Sabotage activities are suspected.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Hello Tokyo!

Can someone please turn the heat back on?


Monday, March 12, 2007


Our hotel room at the Howard Plaza in Taipei, oddly enough, faces the interior atrium. The windows aren't that thick, so we get to listen to an odd assortment of Asian hotel lounge music playing on the piano. Let's see, so far this morning, we've heard...

Endless Love
Sunrise, Sunset
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Everybody needs somebody sometime
Moon River
Man and Woman


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Attention United Airlines Passengers

Our family will be impacting your travel experience on the following flights. Please contact your travel professional for a seat reassignment very far away.

Or we'll make it up to you with drink vouchers.

March 8 UA831 SFO-TPE
March 14 UA882 TPE-NRT
April 17 UA852 NRT-SFO

I'm from Oaktown, yo.

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Monday, March 13, 2006


Nope, the hills above Saratoga!

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Never eat airline food again

Woo-hoo! An honest-to-goodness, made-to-order-by-a-real-sushi-chef venued called Kyotatsu just opened up next to Gate 34 at Narita Airport. I was the envy of an entire 747 cabin... until I spilled soy sauce on myself. Doh!

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