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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 04, 2006

     

    Babbling about air-travel

    Busy day. So I dropped off a couple chums of mine at SFO. My cousin Frank and his girlfriend Stephanie concluded their two-week vacation in Quebec and San Francisco. They were to board Northwest Airlines flight NW027 bound for Tokyo Narita where they would transfer to another flight for Hong Kong. Northwest check-in at SFO was less than efficient and borderline chaotic. With a transpacific flight of over 300 passengers, only 5 check-in counters were open to serve both economy and business class passengers. The queue was actually not long with about 15 people but the wait was quite dreadful. Most of the passengers were not familiar with how the self-service check-in kiosks (of which Northwest seems to be very proud...) worked at the front of the check-in agents, who had to make frequent trips round the counters to assist self-check-in passengers while helping other passengers. So what was meant to expedite check-in became a waste of time. Northwest and other U.S. carriers should emulate world-class carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific (two of the four 5-star airlines in the world right now, according to Skytrax) in providing more efficient, more personal, more attentive, and smoother check-in procedures and in-flight service. One more thing, the Northwest boarding passes, do not indicate boarding time so travelers must allow more time for security check. I think it's little thing like this that separates top-notched airlines from the mediocre and poor ones.

    U.S. carriers at least for the international markets do not even measure up to the mediocre Asian carriers or Middle Eastern rivals like Emirates and Gulf Air. Food is horrible and insipid (not to mention now you have to pay $3 for some prepacked stale sandwiches and a bag of Sun Chips...are you kidding me?), not catered to passengers' creeds and dietary needs. In-flight service is indifferent to rude. Most of the aircrafts are aged and not equipped with personal entertainment system. Seats are worn...I do have to admit certain airlines like Air China should be avoided. I was once flying a red-eye 14-hour flight with Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. On flight CX873, FAs served supper about one hour after the flight took off from SFO at 00:10 which I passed because I would instantly fall asleep. A couple of the FAs were attentive enough to offer a snack when I woke up empty-stomached some 7 hours later because they remembered I had skipped the meal. After the pleasant flight with CX, why would I settle for anything that doesn't live up to the bar? Why can't airlines implement measures to improve passengers' comfort in dreadful long-haul flights?

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