Qantas Frequent Flyer “rewards” are a joke

24 05 2006

I've been invited to speak at a conference in Sydney at the end of October. I booked the flights on the weekend, and, as I'm a Gold Qantas Frequent Flyer member and a Life Member of the Qantas Club, I knew I could request an upgrade a lot earlier than others can. And, according to their marketing 'spin', that I would have preference over other QFF members. Crap!

I have at least one upgrade certificate left (from when they had those) and some 400K QFF points. But do you think I can get an upgrade? No way! I called Qantas and requested a points/certificate upgrade on one or both legs of the trip. "Sorry, there are no Business Class seats available for upgrade at this time." So I asked whether that was because all the seats were sold (some 5 months out – unlikely), or because they hadn't released seats for QFF members yet. "Sorry, you'll have to call back closer to the time of departure." So then I asked if I could be put on a waiting list for when seats are released. "Sorry, we don't waitlist points upgrades; you'll have to call back closer to the time of departure." No reason, no explanation, no waitlist. Meantime, I have 400,000+ points I can't use.

And while I'm on about Qantas and the Frequent Flyer points thing… The fine print always says that Qantas "may have blackout periods" for QFF award flights with points. Yeah right. For the past few years they've had a blanket blackout period for ALL flights from Australia to the US taken between December 1 and February 1. Too bad if you're a teacher or in some other occupation that forces you to take your holidays over the Christmas break – you can NEVER go to the US on points between those dates. That sucks.

Hurts like hell

24 05 2006

The general malaise I was feeling on Sunday – and that I attributed to the return of the cold – blew out to pain in the jaw area on Monday and a call to the dentist to see if I could get in. Nothing available that suited us both until June, so I thought I’d see if it was all just related to the cold and would go away by itself. By Tuesday the general jaw pain had centralised to a particular tooth and was overwhelming.

Another call to the dentist to fit in an urgent case (I didn’t care what time at that stage!) and I went in yesterday afternoon to find out that I had an abscess that had to be killed with antiobiotics first and then would require root canal treatment! But first the pain killers…

I called in to the pharmacist on the way home and got the prescription filled for the pain killers and the antibiotics, and took both as soon as I got home. We were going to have steak for tea, but that changed quickly as I couldn’t eat anything, let alone a steak! Besides, about 10 minutes after taking the pain killers my limbs were feeling floppy and I was feeling light-headed. Once I lay down I felt like I couldn’t lift my limbs at all – I’m glad I didn’t take these before driving or ‘operating machinery’. They didn’t make me feel particularly drowsy, but I was sure woozy. Despite taking two, the pain didn’t really start subsiding for a couple of hours. I took another one before going to sleep so I had an OK night.

This morning I took another one and got the wooziness back again, so no work for me today. There’s no way I could safely drive a car! That first pain killer from early this morning is now wearing off, so I’ve just taken another one. I wonder what the reaction will be this time… The dentist said that the antibiotics may take ‘a day or two’ to kick in, so it looks like I’ll be on the pain killers for a couple of days. I hope I’ll be OK to go in to work tomorrow.

Oh, what a beautiful morning

22 05 2006

I'm looking out my window at the moment and the sky is grey and cloudy, and rain is predicted tonight. But the grey reminded me of the 15 minute drive to work this morning and the most beautiful sunrise you could imagine!

It only lasted for a few minutes, then faded out. But for those few minutes the colours were simply amazing – every possible shade of orange, yellow, pink, and mauve, with patches of clear blue between the light fluffy clouds, and the city skyscrapers blackly silhouetted by that magnificent sky.

It was one of those times where you wish you had a camera to try and record the brilliant colours. But by the time you got a camera, the moment would have passed. (Actually I did have my camera with me, but it was in its bag in my briefcase and I was driving along the freeway in four lanes of fast-moving early morning traffic heading over a bridge at the time… not a good time to be trying to take a photo!)

We’ll take the 4 points

22 05 2006

To say that the footy game between the Dockers and the Kangaroos on Saturday was good would be an extreme overstatement. It was boring, and at times, ugly football. Not a good spectacle at all. Ball handling, kicking, passing skills – all were pretty horrible. But the Dockers won despite all that. And got the four points for the win. 

We'll take the four points, but this was not a game that will go down in memory – or appear in any highlights reel. After the brilliance of the Derby against the Eagles, you'd be hard-pressed to even think this was the same team.

A bit of a worry!

22 05 2006

Some years back an Australian telephone database on CD had ‘reverse entry’ lookup for phone numbers, but it was pulled by the powers that be and that was the end of reverse lookups (i.e. enter a phone number and find the name and address it belongs to). Privacy issues were cited as the reason. I was always a bit of a fence-sitter on this one – yes, I can understand the privacy concerns, but equally, I can understand why you might have a number without a name and want to find out who it belongs to (thinking back to the days of beer coasters in bars…).

Well today I was sent a link to a website that threw all that out the window. The site is the unfortunately-named You can enter details into one or more fields and get listings of matches. It’s very fast – and quite scary!

I tested it with my street and suburb, and it listed everyone in the street, with their names, addresses, and phone numbers. Then I searched on my surname without entering anything else and got all Australians listed who have that surname. I did a reverse lookup on my dentist’s phone number (as I had just called it) and got her details. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to list silent/unlisted numbers – I tried a couple of those too and got no results.

I guess what makes it both brilliant and scary is that it is SO quick and you don’t have to jump through all the search criteria that searching the White Pages puts in the way. Nearly all the searches I did you cannot do – or cannot do easily – using the standard White Pages.

I wonder how long before it is shut down…

(And yes, I know that the US has had reverse number lookup for some time – but we haven’t.)

Update: 24 May 2006: On the TV news last night this site was mentioned and the authorities were trying to find the owner/host to shut it down. I went in again today and the site has changed name, but it’s still there…

Update: 26 May 2006: Well, both sites are down now. The first one is now a parked domain name available for purchase from GoDaddy, and the second brings up a “Server not found” error in Firefox. It didn’t take long.

Update: 11 July 2014: Discovered another one today while looking for something else, and this one is reasonably accurate too: Wonder how long it will last…


16 05 2006

OK, I know that the greatest incidence of car accidents and loss of life is with those aged 17-25, and I know that SOME of them are hoons (a small percentage), but why target ALL P-platers (probationary drivers) with the same draconian laws? Western Australia's "nanny" legislators are bringing in some very tough measures designed to reduce the likelihood of injury to our young people. But I have some serious doubts.

Where is the evidence to show that such measures actually DO reduce the death and accident rate? What other countries have implemented such measures successfully?

Where is the evidence to show that the incidence now is any different to what it was 10 years ago, or 15, 20, 30, or even 50 years ago?

So what are these laws?

Well, the ones that I questioned on hearing about them the other day are those concerned with curfews and number of people in the car of a P-plater. With these new laws, P-platers cannot drive between midnight and 5:00am, and they can't have more than one passenger in the car with them at any one time. Oh, and they have to have their driving supervised by a 'responsible adult' for longer after actually gaining their license and will have to have much longer supervised log book time when they are on L-plates (Learner plates).

I'm not so fussed about the length of time for supervised driving, but I am concerned about the curfew and the number of passengers aspects. Why? Because for MANY young people – who ARE responsible kids – these measures will stop them from getting employment and getting an education, further alienating a group who already feels alienated from society.

With the current cost of fuel, how can a struggling uni student who does the right thing by the environment and their pocket, now deal with the fact that they can no longer car pool and share rides to/from uni? Please don't say "Use public transport" – in Perth, this is NOT practical for many kids because it would entail at least a 2-hour trip each way, with changeovers at bus/train stations etc. So what will be the result? I can see a few scenarios – kids will risk not being caught and continue to share rides; perhaps kids will drop out of uni because catching public transport is too hard or the cost of fuel (when not shared) is too high; maybe they'll become more dependent on their parents for rides at a time when their independence is so paramount.

And the curfew… how does that help kids who have part-time jobs working in the hospitality industry, for example? If they have to be home before midnight, they could easily lose their job. Those who pack the supermarket shelves in the middle of the night will be similarly affected. All because someone decided that midnight was somehow different to any other time of the day and that these kids had to be tucked up in bed by then. Unfortunately, these 'kids' aren't 'kids' any more – they are at least 17, and seeing as though you only have to be 18 to vote and to drink, I can't see them complying with these draconian laws for very long.

Dirty rotten cold

16 05 2006

Somewhere on the flights from the US to Australia I picked up a cold. It didn’t manifest itself into anything until last Sunday night – a week after we got home. First symptoms were a horrible sore throat with an inability to swallow, followed by a very rough voice that went in and out over the next couple of days, then the sinus congestion, and now the cough. Some 9 days after it started (and with 2 days off work last week) it seems to be waning… but now my husband has it. So here’s hoping it doesn’t come back to revisit me. It’s a nasty, filthy thing that lays you low.

Shocker Dockers!

16 05 2006

I wasn’t going to write about the 3 hours I wasted on Saturday afternoon watching the footy live on TV, but I am… What a disappointment after the phenomenal game last week against the Eagles. In the Derby, the Dockers played well and as a team, with heart, passion, and soul. This Saturday they had a flash of brilliance in the first 90 seconds, scoring 2 goals (including Jeff Farmer’s 400th milestone), then…. nothing! Their next goal came about 15 mins into the second quarter. It’s not that they didn’t get it into their 50 – they did; they just couldn’t convert those forays into scores on the board. Invariably a long bomb into our 50 landed beautifully in the hands of a Melbourne player.

Did they play with heart, soul, and passion? No! Were the fans and supporters disappointed? You bet! Do I want to talk about it any more? No way. Let’s move on to this week…

Back to work…

8 05 2006

It was hard going back to work today. After 5 weeks away from the normal day-to-day, slipping back in was relatively easy, but my head wandered off occasionally to what we were doing ‘this time last week’… which was swimming with the fishies out on the Great Barrier Reef!

And after two conferences where I ‘swam with my own kind’, coming back to the normal world was a bit of a let-down. At conferences I get to discuss all sorts of things with like-minded colleagues from around the world – and they understand the issues without the level of detailed explanation required by the rest of humanity. One example that springs to mind was the editing mark-ups made on the sample menu provided by the hotel where we had the Trivia Night last Thursday. No-one else would’ve understood, but we all understood perfectly how a plural that is turned into a possessive gets up our collective noses! (The menu had possessive “Pasta’s” and “tomato’s” when it should have used the plural “Pasta” and “tomatoes”; and “corriander” for “coriander”, and other spelling errors too numerous to remember. Shudder.)

Ah well. I’ll work on the “work to save for the next trip away” scenario and get back into work mode all too soon and the memories of the trip will become distant ones.

The Derby!

6 05 2006

Wow! What a roller-coaster ride it is being a Fremantle Dockers member!

I went to my first home game today after five weeks away, and it was the Derby with the West Coast Eagles. This is always a good game with friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) cross-town rivalry between supporters. It was a Freo home game so the purple passion was out in force, although there were quite a few Eagles supporters in amongst the record crowd of 42,200+.

By the end of a classic game where the lead changed about 70 times (or so it seemed), the Dockers had won… but only just. At one stage there were 10 pts separating the two teams, but mostly there were only 2 or 3 points in it. A heart-stopper, especially the final few minutes when the lead changed 4 times. A goal from Paul Hasleby (Dockers) less than 50 seconds before the siren gave the Dockers a 5 point lead, which the Eagles couldn't match.

A great game – made even more sweeter because this is the first defeat the Eagles have had so far this season. Go the Dockers! (but a pox on those Freo supporters who boo-ed Chris Judd – he played a great game and was quite magical when he had possession of the ball; just because the team wins doesn't mean that the Best on Ground has to be from the winning team.)