Friday, July 23, 2010

Picking your seat on Air New Zealand

In the past 18 months or so I've been doing a fair bit of travelling for work. And I've learned some things about flying with Air NZ...

As long as you have a booking reference, and/or if you have a frequent flier account, you can log in to the website to check your booking and more importantly request your seats.

If you're flying on a Boeing 737-300 (mostly between AKL-WLG-CHC) then the closer to the front you can get the better. There's the obvious benefit of getting off faster when you land, but also, on the AirNZ layout at least, there's increasing amounts of legroom the closer you get to the front. After about row 13 (exit row) it's all the same. My personal preference is a window seat so I can watch the countryside go by, but that's definitely dependent on what you like.

If you're flying on a Bombardier Q300 which are used for flights between major town centres, I have a strong preference for row 1. It's an exit row, so you can't access your hand luggage as well, but I've found that it's often free when you go to request a seat, and again, you get to get off first.

However - if you're flying on a Aerospatiale ATR72 passengers get on at the back, so it's best to sit down that end :) For some reason these are my least favourite planes. I think it's because of the way the wings are almost level with the top of the body of the plane, which makes it look kinda... dumpy.

And then there's the good old 19 seater Beechcraft 1900D. Entry is from the front, but I don't recommend sitting in rows 1 or 2 - there are no windows until row 3. If you've been on these planes, you'll know that there's one seat on either side of the aisle, and at row five the floor goes up and down over a ramp. Which means that in row 6 there's hardly any room to put your hand luggage under the seat in front - and there's no overhead locker so it makes it pretty cramped. Personally I go for 3 or 4 if I have a short connection and need to get off fast, but otherwise I'd go for rows 8 or 9 because your view isn't obscured by the propellors.

My only other hint for now is that the belgian biscuits at the cafe in Auckland airport just opposite the security screening area for gates 28-33 are excellent, and really good when you've had a long day and have one more flight to go :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sentenced to.. read

This is a fascinating idea - people found guilty of crimes are sentenced to join a particular kind of reading group instead of being sent to jail. In Texas. And apparently it's working:

Groups are single sex and the books chosen resonate with some of the issues the offenders may be facing. A male group, for example, may read books with a theme of male identity. A judge, a probation officer and an academic join a session of 30 offenders to talk about issues as equals.

Of the 597 who have completed the course in Brazoria County, Texas, between 1997 and 2008, only 36 (6%) had their probations revoked and were sent to jail.

A year-long study of the first cohort that went through the programme, which was founded in Massachusetts in 1991, found that only 19% had reoffended compared with 42% in a control group. And those from the programme who did reoffend committed less serious crimes.

This is so scary - The guy took his kids camping and took photos on a disposable camera. When they took the photos to be developed the photo people called in the police because there were naked kids.. Cue descent into hell.

I'd like to think it wouldn't happen here, but..

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Caught up in the salmon run

I live quite close to the main train station in Wellington and often get caught up in the trail of the commuters on their way to the station in the evening.

The thing that bemuses me is the runners. Most people amble their way along the main roads, knowing they've got time to make their train. But there are some who run, because they either have an appointment at the other end, or they just must catch their routine train.

I guess that they know what time they have to leave, but get caught up by a minute or two when their computer does something weird at the end of the day. And then the lift takes a bit longer to arrive and stops at a few too many floors on the way to the ground. And those silly red lights. All conspiring to make the harrassed commuter late for their train. And so they run. They take risks with the lights. They barrel through the amblers with little care for personal space.

When they get there, I figure half the time their train is probably running late anyway.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Music on high repeat

Things what I'm listening to:

The Duke and the King - Nothing Gold Can Stay

This is a fairly quiet album, with pretty melodies and interesting stories to tell. So it pretty much ticks all the boxes for me. Lingering tunes.

The Cat Empire - Cinema

One of the guys at my workplace in Melbourne sent around an mp3 and noted that the band was playing in St Kilda and who wanted to go. The song (Hello hello) was bouncy and fun and good so I went along and have been hooked since. The enthusiasm of the first album turned into interesting musicality over time. The latest album is a bit more self-aligned that previous albums, in that a similar sound pervades through all the tracks. This is a bit of a change and so far so good.

The Magic Numbers - Those the Brokes

Just found this one a few days ago. Needs some more listening, but I like the ways the various vocalists play with each other and the tunes are pretty infectious. Random trivia: the band is composed of 2 sets of brother-and-sister.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Had a minor windfall in the shape of the work World Cup sweepstake, so decided to buy earrings. In one of the shops I wandered around, I had my headphones on. The woman in the store asked me what I was listening to. When I said Ani Difranco she said "ah, old school." I smiled and nodded and carried on.

Ani Difranco put out a studio album in 2008 (Red Letter Year) and has since released a couple of live albums. So I'm not sure her school is too old. That said, I'd also say that her older work is more well-known and better liked. I'm in the old-school-Ani camp :)