Monday, June 19, 2006 ______________________________________________________________________________

Richard Branson: You Suck Balls 

And not in a good way either.

Yesterday I flew into Melbourne from the Brisbane Domestic Airport. Having researched fares on the internet, I ascertained that the cheapest flight available was on VirginBlue Airlines, Australia's youngest fleet of airplanes owned by Richard Branson's mega-corporation: Virgin. With the additional bonus of Virgin jets landing in the terminal closest to where I was going to stay the night, I booked two seats, one way, from Brisbane to Melbourne.

How bad could it be right?

The terminal was plastered with all sorts of cutesy, trying to be cool signs. Things like "Laptops must be taking out of carrying cases, Bikini tops are fine". Doors to the bathrooms were labelled "Virgin Loo". At the check-in counter however, they made very clear that they didn't really have a sense of humour with large reed signs proclaming: "We take jokes about security very seriously. Criminal charges may apply."

In other words: "We will bombard you with stupid and unfunny jokes so you think we are a cool, funky airline. Afterall, we are courting the lucrative 18-30 demographic with our quirkyness (and the older people with our supposedly amazing Velocity Points program), but we're really not funny people. Try to be funny with us and you will not only be grounded my friend, you will also be hauled off to jail and we will arrange for a large, bald, Aussie inmate to do you up the bum."

I didn't even dare to smile at the barely adequate character who was processing my check-in. (As a side note, did you know that you don't even get real tickets? You just get a number and a barcode with your name on it printed on receipt paper. What a ripoff!) She directed us to where our carry-on baggage was being checked - that's where the shit hit the fan.

For some reason, opened alcohol is not allowed on the plane - whereas unopened bottles are. Not knowing this beforehand, I had in my possession (1L each) Havana club rum and Canadian Club whisky. I had drunk about a shot or two from each of those bottles max. They were confiscated by a monkeyman who was swinging his dick around in hopes that it would look bigger. His ill-disguised glee at being able to remove 2L of premium alcohol was nauseating. Retailation was discouraged through large red signs similar to the ones at the check-in counter. When asked about the policy all he could say was "We're just following protocol". I wouldn't be as upset about losing damn near $100 (street value) of alcohol if they could give me a legitimate reason as to why opened (but not sealed) bottles were not allowed. I wasn't even allowed to check them in.

You know, I think really that the "rule" is in place merely to allow them to be able to confiscate alcohol they think they would enjoy. The guy behind me had some really premium stuff (which he had previously travelled with, opened - so this is really just a Virgin policy) which was also taken from him. The reason I think that the only alcohol confiscated is the good stuff is because Jim made it past with Absolut Raspberry. It was opened, but it also tastes like cough syrup. We ended up leaving it in Melbourne.

Since my alcohol was confiscated, I figured that the best way to recoup my losses would be to ring the hostess call button every 10 minutes requesting something to drink. Alcoholic, non-alcoholic, "could I have peanuts or crackers with that?", "when do we get a snack?"...

Upon boarding, we were all handed menus, complete with pricelists. Drinks started at $2 (soft drinks) and wound up costing about $12 if you wanted their specialty mixed cocktails. Snacks were available as well, for $3 for a small bag of chips or nuts, all the way up to $15 entrees - microwaved to order, so I hear.

Na bei ji bai.

posted by Joie! at 8:25 p.m.


Monday, June 05, 2006 ______________________________________________________________________________

Google Stalking 

I've been occupied lately with wanting to meet up with old friends. This is appropriate considering that I will shortly be in a position to meet up with everyone that I used to be the best of friends with. So I've started trying to find people. To locate them. People are elusive. For example, in the last five years (since I've moved to Canada) I have held six addresses, three cell phone numbers and three emails (two of which I still check). Having no evidence to the contrary, I can only assume that my friends are similarly mobile and that the contact information I have from what seems now like eons ago are dated, to say the least. So I turn to Google, which has never, ever failed me. There have been times where I've had a tune stuck in my head and a few well chosen phrases in the search box have led me to the song I was thinking of. Google is that good, or so I thought.

The first person I wanted to look up was one of my best friends at RGS. In the same class from sec 1 to sec 4, I gravitated toward her because I thought she was impossibly cool. I still don't know what attracted her to me. She's Thai, and after we graduated from RGS, I left for here and I assumed she left to return to Bangkok. I don't know. I wasn't listening carefully enough back then, obviously, because I cannot remember what she said about where she was going or what she was doing. If she mentioned it at all. (As a side note, it is so strange to be writing about someone you used to know so intimately as if she were a mere acquaintance, if not a downright stranger.) She has an unusual name though, and a quick googling of "Pailin Samritpricha" led me to a student website on Seattle University's student server. Her website had nothing but a picture on it, which was sufficient. Her name might be unique, but there could always be another Pailin S. out there. I've written several times to SU's Alumni Services, but they haven't replied. I think they think I'm a crazy stalker. Afterall, don't best friends from high school keep in touch? My story must sound so false. At any rate, there's a long shot, I've tried a potential email address and the good news is that the mail has not been bounced back to me.

To illustrate how important a photo on your website is, I present to you these two examples. When you Google "Johanna Tan" you get this website. While technically this person is Johanna Tan, it is immediately apparent that it is not the particular Johanna Tan you are looking for. There is also a Johanna Tan who is a 27 year-old freelance web-designer and insurance agent who buys a $3 Straits Times Charity bear in a newspaper article no longer accessible through the official Asia1 site, but which still can be viewed because Google so helpfully caches pages for internet stalkers (but this is not the second example, because the charitable Johanna Tan might be the same Johanna Tan in the picture in the website, I doubt it, however, because a freelance web-designer would not have such a sparse profile). There are countless other Johanna Tans out there in cyberspace that are not me from (quite a few) myspace users who write in Singlish, to one who writes about breeding birds in Sungei Buloh National Park. Also, there's a Johanna Tan listed in some kind of athletic league (if the Johanna Tan you know is me then you'd find this very, very funny. If not, what the hell are you doing on my blog? Oh wait, I apologize. I hate blog writers who disrespect their readers, even if their readers think they're someone else). The first "Johanna Tan" in the Google search results that actually turns out to be me has me listed with Eric on a paper presented at the Canadian Linguistics Association conference. You're not going to get much contact information from there though.

I digress. I should talk about the second example. This only shows up when you've given up on "Johanna Tan" and instead try Googling "Johanna Tan Si-en". The first search result looks promising! It's a faculty/staff listing for the UBC Arts Faculty - Linguistics Department even. So why the fuck does it list me as an Instructor in the School of Nursing with a contact number, email and office?! For some bizzare reason, I'm also blocked from editing my own damn profile. I don't know why this is a good second example for my point, actually. Because if I were able to upload a picture, but not edit the information, people will think I'm fucking training nurses. Nicole Bradner (the other undergrad TA) got an accurate listing. Noooo, this Johanna Tan Si-en has to be a bloody nursing instructor. Brilliant.

My excuse for the poor second example is that it's 3am and I am officially unable to form a coherent argument. I will, however, press bravely onward. Afterall, I haven't blogged for real in a long time (hiding behind birthday wishes and replacement memes, and interactive memes: updated for answers! and so on and so forth) so I must make up for it with a picture post (see previous post) and a rant (this post)!

So then I Google names of other friends I hope to meet on this two month holiday. No luck at all. Their names are even more common than mine. Google has a friend of mine listed as the contact for an IT course at the University of Sydney. Uhh, we haven't spoken in a while, but I seriously don't think that's her. In fact, I'm willing to put quite a large amount of money where my intuitions are on that count. Other friends don't even register a hit. So I'm reduced to sending emails to their last known email address. So far all of them have been returned. Either I don't remember the addresses properly or, like me, they've moved on to more professional email addresses. You can't exactly put schmiles84@hotmail on a resume.

I'm just hoping that the people I'm in contact with by virtue of discovering their blogs over the past years have better resources than me. There are alot of people I have lost touch with. If I had my way, I'll be in touch with them all by this fall.

posted by Joie! at 2:59 a.m.


Thursday, June 01, 2006 ______________________________________________________________________________

Not Much Pomp or Circumstance 

Actually, they didn't even play Pomp and Circumstance at my graduation, which I consider a ripoff, frankly. Who the hell wants to hear generic classical shit when they're bored to death watching hoardes of people they don't know walk across the stage to shake the hand of someone you've never seen in your life, who was dressed as though he were about to attend a renaissance fair. I'll get back to that. First, the obligatory pictures!

Just so you know, the ones that were taken indoors are really really crappy. But I'll draw your attention to the relevant details. Hopefully also the pictures will be small enough that the poor resolution is not going to be a big deal.

This is me approaching the Chancellor to shake his hand. I don't know who he is and I don't know what he does. At least his hand wasn't moist.

What you should be looking at in this picture are my feet. Notice: I am in flip flops. Man did that piss my mom off. Wait, did I say "did"? No, she's still bitching about the fact that I crossed the stage in flip flops. Like it's her business (I recall mentioning to a few friends of mine that if she caught me before the ceremony and made comment on them I would cross the stage barefoot). I guess any opportunity to be bitching at me. Bonus points if she manages to detract from any positive actions I have taken. Damn I hate my mother, although I have more than a few pictures with her. She really wanted to have pictures with me and I didn't want to start a fight. Besides, she was bringing me out to lunch and I didn't want it to be awkward. Here's a shot of me and her. I like my smile in this shot:

Is it just me or does she look like she doesn't mean it with that smile?

Moving on, pictures with my favourite people in the whole wide world (with the exception of Fort who was unable to attend):

Yes. Jon's huge. Yes. My little brother is that much taller than me. Yes. I can get him to beat you up if you continue to point out stupid things like that.

Then my profs. This is Carden. Ladies and Gentlemen, he is real and not a figment of my imagination. Troll through my archives if ever you are bored and you can read about him.

This is Stemberger (I think he's the Dept. head). He's a great guy and a really good Morris Dancer. I saw him perform this year at Beltane (an annual festival that Jim has attended since he was 5 and that I love tagging along to).

Finally, it's Gunnar, everyone's favourite Icelandic phonologist. Probably everyone's favourite Icelander (is that what you call people from Iceland?) Let's get a shout out for Gunnar!

So that was my graduation. I originally didn't want to go, but my grandparents (both sets) and my parents wanted pictures. It wasn't too boring and I did get to see Carden in that pink thing. My only major complaint is that Matt (one of my professors who is unbelievably GORGEOUS and whom I owe alot to) wasn't there. I really wanted a photo with him. For more than one reason. I'll leave you with one more picture which clearly illustrates what I'm NOT going to do now that I've graduated - that is, I'm definitely not looking over my shoulder at my alma mater. Guys, I'm outta here!

posted by Joie! at 10:19 p.m.


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