Monday, December 28, 2009

Airline Security - My Take

I do a fair amount of travelling as part of my job. I've been in and out of foreign airports (including Lagos) and my name (not ME) was once on the no fly list. (It was fun to watch the expressions of the gate agent when checking me in. Some would go white in the face until they verified that I wasn't the guy on the list) I think I can speak with some experience about the recent airline security issue.

Think back to 9/11. The hijackers gained access to a major airport by first passing through security at a small regional airport. When they got to Boston, they were considered to be secure and no further screenings were done.

This guy passed through security in Lagos - an airport whose security is notoriously poor (there used to be warnings about security there at all of the other airports in the world). Once he got to Amsterdam, he was passed on through to his connecting flight.

Do you see the similarities here? The problem exists when passengers transiting between flights in a secure area of the airport ARE ASSUMED TO HAVE BEEN PROPERLY SCREENED!

I have made connections all over the world, and while there is usually a x-ray machine, the screening is not nearly as thorough as the initial screening I received at my departure point. Therefore, if the screening at the departure point is poorly done, the chances are good that someone could pass any further screening.

FWIW, my recommendations are that all passengers transiting from airports with known poor security should receive extra screening before boarding their connecting flight. Airlines should allow more time for connecting flights to allow for the extra time in security screening.

That makes more sense than restricting my access to urinary facilities prior to landing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Travels of Red Dog

Hi! My name is Red Dog. Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa take me along when they travel. Grandpa took me to Korea with him.

I like Korea but the hotel was weird. Lots of mirrors on the wall. Grandpa said it was a place for Monkey Business. Here's a picture of me sending an email to Grandma.

I really liked the bath tub, although it was too small for Grandpa. Here's a picture of me enjoying a bath in the jacuzzi. After a nice hot bath, I like to enjoy the vibrating bed.

I like Korean food, too but there are somethings that I will NOT eat!

On the way home, our flight was cancelled and we had to spend the night in Tokyo. While Grandpa was handling the problems, I was meditating at the Zen sand garden.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Freedom Bird FAIL

I left Seoul for Tokyo and the cross Pacific hop. The notice board said "New Date"next to my flight connection. I thought it was a Japanese mis-translation for "New Gate", but I was wrong. The plane was not there due to mechanical problems in Houston and we then stood in line at the connection desk waiting for the airline to make new reservations. After about 2 hours I button holed a supervisor to ask what was going on and could they make a general announcement. I was told that the flight would leave tomorrow and that they would put us up in a hotel for the night. OK, but since we have to enter Japan no, could you pass out the entry forms for us to fill out while we wait? Three hours later, I finally get to the hotel. In short, the whole episode was poorly handled by people who are supposed to be the most organized in the world.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Freedom Bird

My mal-adjusted internal clock woke me up in the wee hours of the AM. But as I am catching the Freedom Bird at noon, and want to sleep on the plane, I stayed up reading and web surfing. How I managed to stay awake for 2 days of meetings, most of which dealt with structural engineering esoterica, in a hot and cramped meeting room, is beyond me. And why they had us sit through two presentations, one on architectural concepts and another on landscape design, both given in Korean without translation, is also beyond me.

The meetings reminded me of my past experience with Korean engineering firms. They are great at analysis but short on concept. If you give them a basic design, they can analyze it until their calculator burns up, but if you give them a blank sheet of paper and ask for fresh ideas, they get that panicky deer in the headlights look. The architectural concepts were basically copies of another design. Variations on a theme, if you will. (they are designing a flood gate, and as it is 3 football fields long, they want it to look pretty)

I have to prepare some documents on the mechanical lift systems for them over Christmas and then return in mid-January for a follow up.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Heeeere!

I have arrived at my hotel in Seoul. There's a reason that western businessmen frequent the popular chains. The hotel room is small. There is no closet, only a couple of hooks and some hangers on the wall. Everything is in Korean so I needed a tutorial to be able turn on the lights. The room is hot but as it's winter, the air con is turned off. I can fit in the tub if I hug my knees. The TV is all Korean. I haven't trried to make an international phone call yet. That is next.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Travel Plans

I usually make my own travel reservations. Just tell me where I need to be and when I need to be there and I will make the arrangements. That way, I know it has been done, I have all the confirmation numbers and if something is wrong, I have only myself to blame.

But the client for this Korea trip wants us to stay at a hotel nearby the office in Anyang-Si, a small city abutting Seoul. Unfortunately, there are no international hotels in the area. The first hotel they tried did not have room so they booked us into the second choice. I went to their website to look them up. It appears to be some sort of a Love Hotel. The interior decor is waaaay over the top. The decorations are garish red and gold, the rooms all have Jacuzzis and large screen TVs. I doubt that the staff speaks much English and I didn't see a business center or executive lounge anywhere in their information. Check them out here.

There is a meeting this afternoon about the trip. I'll let you know if I am successful in changing the arrangements.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ROK Bound

I received a panicked phone call last Wednesday while I was driving home.

"We have a client that wants someone in Korea next week. Can you go? He needs to know tonight!"

Well, of course I can go. That's what we troubleshooters do. It took them several days to iron out the contract terms but approval was given yesterday. So, this weekend, I am on the big bird for the trip to Korea, Republic of. Purpose of the trip is to attend a kick off meeting for the design of probably the worlds largest lift gate for flood prevention. The turnaround is quick. I will probably spend more time in the air than I will in the meeting.

The beginning of this week was taken up with Hazard Identification meetings on my other project. The client is replacing 5 motor drives with the same units that Cajun is having so much fun with. The biggest hazard? Working on, and around, cables carrying 4160 V as they swap out individual drives while the others are running. Discussions were very detailed and filled with stuff only an electrical type would love. Boredom ensued. Sleep was fought but I used the time to read up on the Korean gig.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pelosi's Stamp Act

Nancy Pelosi supports a global transaction fee, first proposed by Gordon Brown (the wanker!), that would add a 0.25% tax to securities transactions. Want to cash in some of your 401K? Pay a tax. Want to buy some stock? Pay a tax.

Go look up HR 4191.

It seems she forgot the Stamp Act of 1765 and the near riots that caused. It also led to the American Revolution. I wonder how Nancy would look in Tar and Feathers?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Finland!

On this day in 1917, Finland declared its independence from Russia and the Czar. About one month later, the country erupted into a 5 month civil war between the Whites and the Reds. 37,000 died in the conflict.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Engineer Shooters Wanted

I opened my email this morning to find this notice from ASME's International Petroleum Technology Institute. Its a fund raising event for scholarships and such and sounds as if there will be a lot of shooty fun. So if you are going to be in the Houston area around 22 Jan, you might want to put together a team and go shoot.

Ya gotta love the oil field!