I’ve been known to state that during any given week at work I’ll enjoy my job 4 days and on the fifth day want to either throw myself or somebody else off a building.
What I’m saying is from time to time things can be a bit stressful.
Additionally, one of the lesser known aspects of my job is being feted at dinners – and occasionally banquets – all over the world. In America that means you can look forward to a fantastic steak and high-priced cocktails. In Asia that means seafood and whores.
During my recent trip to Germany I achieved three major milestones in my life all within two hours:
I drove a Mercedes for the first time
I drove 200 KPH on the Autobahn
I received a sarcastic parking note from an unknown German
The Autobahn was lots of fun. It felt quite strange to be blowing past cars in the slow lane without needing to worry about the po-po. It was also disconcerting to never see a posted speed limit. What a wondrous country!
We went to an outlet mall and I might have parked the Mercedes with a tire or two over the line… but we got there early and I didn’t want to risk dinking a coworker’s car! Well, when we left several hours later there wasn’t an empty spot in the lot and I had the post-it under my wiper. This is way better than a parking ticket though, which is what I thought it was at first glance! I love the competing smilie/frownie faces…
A picture conveys one thousand words … we all know this old bit of wisdom. What’s rarely discussed, however, is which one thousand words.
Monday morning’s first rays of sunshine found me queuing bleary-eyed at the departure terminal McDonalds in Hong Kong International Airport. I had been awake since 0400 and looked it. At that moment nothing in the world was more important to my frazzled, sand-in-the-gears neurons than acquiring a cup of hot, black coffee.
After placing my order I had a few moments to contemplate my existence (there was quite a horde of us twilight zombie travelers patronizing the Golden Arches) while my order was prepared. It was then that by chance I gazed downwards directly into the eyes of a darling little girl…
Now, I’m not here to cast aspersions on RMHC. It seems they are a legit humanitarian operation. However, I am here to shame whoever designed this particular advertisement…
…because the thousand words that materialized into my consciousness were decidedly not the thousand words the marketing and advertising design team intended!
Let’s look a little more intently at that sweet cherub:
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Ronald around these parts. He doesn’t feature so much in the advertising campaigns anymore. McDonalds propaganda in China focuses on happy teenagers and young twenty-somethings having exhuberant, musical meals at sparkling franchises. I guess that’s down in Shanghai? Because it sure as hell isn’t what happens in Shenyang.
In Hong Kong I was subjected to an overly long video about a couple holding their wedding reception at a McDonalds! All I could think about was serving BigMacs for the main course and having a hot apple pie wedding cake (ok, actually that second part sounds pretty awesome). How would you even invite people to an event like that?!?
Anyway, the point is that when I looked into that girl’s face, her appearance definitely did not call to mind Ronald himself, but instead a rather … different … personality.
Being neither elderly nor born yesterday, I have a reliable internet and email scam detector installed between my ears. And yet, to quote an old soccer coach, “we must give the credit where the credit is due.”
Today I received an awfully compelling scam email:
Let’s break down the points of interest:
I frequently use Booking.com and that email address for business travel.
The email’s visual design matches a standard Booking.com email.
I have a real reservation with Booking.com that starts on August 8th.
The room rate is exorbitant.
You can change or cancel before August 6th (the day the scam was delivered).
One cannot say whether the timing and content was dumb luck on the scammer’s part, or if they somehow got some of my personal data and crafted a targeted email that at first glance looked like a reservation screw-up for my next business trip. Either way, it 100% got my attention…
Ultimately, though, the scam needs a hook – a way to snag the fish – and the method they chose to use is a bit dated:
A zip file attachment? You’re gonna have to do better than that, lads!
The Parents of the Drew will arrive in China on Monday night to lay gifts at the feet of the Exalted One.
To help them better navigate the currents of Modern China, I have prepared a concise list of handy phrases, both English and Chinese. The bearer of this list need only select the appropriate phrase needed given the situation (or desired situation), and point to the matching Chinese equivalent.
For the greater good of all Mankind, I have deigned to post said list here on Drew’s Journal. Behold:
Drew’s Handy Phrases for Travelers in China
Where is the bathroom?
I need to use an ATM. Is there one nearby?
No ice in my drink, please.
This is a medical emergency.
Ha ha, no. I’m from Canada, eh!
I need a receipt.
Can you change my airplane seat to one in the Emergency Exit row?
Does this taxi have air conditioning?
I would like a massage, but not the sexy kind. I just want a regular massage.
I would like a sexy massage.
Is there any place offering that around here?
Could you please make sure the dog I am about to eat is happy before you kill it? They taste better if they are. Perhaps you could tell it a funny joke beforehand? That one about the poodle and the mastiff?
I swear I’ve never done this before… but I saw you sitting there at the end of the bar and I just, well, I felt something. Like electricity just shooting through my body… what am I saying? Look at me I’m acting ridiculous! Hmm… Hey, tell you what – I’m in town on business for a few days and staying in a really expensive hotel… how about you and a few of your hottest girlfriends come and stay with me for the weekend? Here’s my room key…
From the moment my flight left Tampa at 7am Saturday morning the 10th, to the moment I stepped off the bus and into the blinding mountaintop sunlight at the entrance to APU, I logged exactly 44hrs of travel. Mind you, it needn’t have taken that long. My travel agent got a little carried away with the flight scheduling and took me on a minor jaunt to Osaka when I could have flown directly to Oita from Tokyo. However, spending the night in Osaka was a mini adventure in itself.