Finally made it to Germany

Our flight from Singapore to Frankfurt boarded at the expected time of 22:40 (after the 23 hour delay). However, there was a further delay once we were on board. The captain told us in an announcement the reason for the initial delay. Two members of the crew independently fell sick in Singapore. Apparently they have capacity for one crew member to be incapacitated, but not two, so they had to fly out an extra crew member from Germany for our flight. And then that person had to have a legally specified rest period before working on our flight, thus resulting in the total delay of 23 hours.

We noticed on the departure boards that there was another flight leaving for Frankfurt at 23:40 as well – Saturday’s regular flight. Apparently some other passengers on our flight got confused, thinking that was the delayed flight, because once we were on board and had been waiting for some time without any movement, the captain announced that we couldn’t leave because three passengers had checked bags on the flight, but had not boarded or shown up at the gate. They assumed they were at the gate for the later flight and were trying to find them, but not having any luck.

After almost an hour of sitting motionless at the departure gate, they announced that they’d located two of the missing three passengers and they had boarded, but they were still missing one. As a result, they were now searching through all the baggage in the hold, looking for that passenger’s luggage to remove it from the plane. This was supposed to take another twenty minutes or so.

It took longer than that. We finally pushed back from the gate at 24:15, an hour and 35 minutes after our rescheduled departure time, for a total delay from the original departure time of 24 hours and 35 minutes. We were actually leaving after the next day’s regular flight. In other words, if we’d departed Sydney a day later, we would be arriving in Frankfurt sooner.

Our flight landed at 07:10, over 49 hours after we left Sydney. We went to the Frankfurt Airport train station and bought tickets to Würzburg. Our pre-bought tickets were Flexpreis tickets which allowed us to take any train on the same day, in case our arrival was delayed a few hours. We hadn’t reckoned on being delayed a whole day! So we had to buy new tickets (another claim to Lufthansa/travel insurance). The train dropped us in Würzburg about two hours later. We walked the few blocks to our hotel. We checked in and made it to our room at 10:45. Door to door it was something like 56 hours from home to our hotel.

We had time to visit my aunt in her nursing home – the whole reason we came to Würzburg in the first place. We saw her in the afternoon and that was really good.

Tonight we had dinner in the Bürgerspital Weinstube, which was recommended to us by our hotel check-in lady. It was delicious and a very Franconian way to end our first day here. Now, time to sleep… hopefully, for about 9 hours. We have to get up early and hop on a train to Cologne for the first of my standards meetings tomorrow afternoon.

Singapore transit part 2: Changi Prison

We’re still in Changi Airport in Singapore. We found some seats in the Singapore Airlines lounge, which was very crowded when we arrived. But as the evening wore on past midnight the lucky people slowly dispersed to their flights, leaving us behind. We moved to a quiet corner where there was a sofa. They had blankets, and other people were sleeping on other sofas, so we figured they allowed this. My wife took the sofa, but there was only one available, so I made do on an adjacent armchair. I closed my eyes and struggled to try and sleep but couldn’t really get any sleep.

My wife woke up at about 05:00 (being what would be a normal rising time of 7am back in Sydney). She went to get some breakfast from the lounge food area. When she came back she said she’d checked her email and there was a message from Lufthansa that our flight had been delayed further, with departure pushed back from 08:40 to 22:40 – a delay of another 14 hours! This made the total delay now 23 hours.

I had some muesli for breakfast too, and then we took stock to decide what to do. The new arrival time in Frankfurt would be 06:00 on Sunday. I’d found through some searching a couple of places in Würzburg that are open for COVID testing on Sundays. So we figure we can still get to our hotel, check in early on Sunday (around 09:00 maybe by the time we get the train from Frankfurt), go and get a rapid COVID test, then head to the nursing home to see my aunt. They don’t want us to arrive between 11:30 and 14:30, because that’s lunch time and often when the residents take a nap. Our plan had been to pick her up before 11:30 to go out for lunch together, but I don’t think we’ll be able to make that any more. So I emailed the nursing home to tell them we were delayed and would probably arrive after 14:30 on Sunday. I’m really hoping there are no further complications which mean that we end up not being able to see her. She’s living in Germany all alone with no family and was probably really looking forward to seeing us.

I also emailed our hotel to say we’d be arriving a day late, but that we want to keep the full booking so we can check in and use the room when we arrive early in the morning.

This done, we decided to see if we could get Lufthansa or Singapore Airlines to get us a hotel room for the day, so we could shower and try to sleep a bit. We spoke to the Singapore staff at the transit counter, but they said that they couldn’t do anything for us because, even though our flight was booked through Singapore as a codeshare, the flight is operated by Lufthansa, so they bear all the responsibility for any delays. So we asked where we could speak to someone from Lufthansa. They called the other transit desk (that we’d seen last night where everyone was waiting to see the Lufthansa staff) and then told us that there was currently nobody from Lufthansa there, and nobody would be arriving until 19:30! Presumably because they don’t normally operate flights out of Singapore except late in the evening.

We asked if there was any hotel we could stay in at our own expense. The Singapore Airlines woman mentioned the transit hotel that we’d tried unsuccessfully last night. She called them, and they told her they had rooms available from 10:00. So we walked over there again and put our names on a waiting list for rooms. They hire rooms out in blocks of 6 hours, so we figured a 12 hour block would give us 10:00 to 22:00, just before our flight is currently scheduled to leave. It was very expensive, about AU$430 for 12 hours. But we checked our travel insurance policy online and we’re pretty sure it covers unexpected expenses due to delays. My wife also suggested we should first try to claim the money back from Lufthansa as well.

They told us to come back around 09:45. We left and went back to the lounge to sit for a bit. We had some water, but it was busy and noisy, so we decided to go back to the hotel and sit there in the reception area because it was quieter. It was lucky we did, because a room became available from 09:00, and they even let us in before that time. We went in, had showers to freshen up, and then tried to get some sleep. My wife managed to sleep, but I was just lying awake unable to fall asleep for 2.5 hours, despite being so tired, probably since it’s daytime in Sydney and my body thinks it should be awake.

We went out and got some lunch and came back for another unsuccessful attempt to sleep. But at least we’re in a private room and able to lie down on a bed, rather than hunched up on a chair in the public area of the terminal.

Our flight has just shown up on the departure board, and it looks like there are no further delays at this point. We may get to leave Changi Airport after spending 26 hours here…

Oh, one nice thing is we had plenty of time to visit the famous butterfly garden here in the airport terminal.


Singapore transit

It’s Friday night and I’m writing this from Changi Airport in Singapore. We have a bit of a story to tell.

The day began with getting up early, at 06:30 – earlier than I normally get up. We had to have breakfast and then take Scully to our friend’s place for dog sitting duty. It’s a bit if a drive away, so we left around 07:40 to be there by 08:30. Traffic was light and we got there a bit early but that was okay as they were ready anyway. Scully was super excited to be there, as she loves our friends and (mostly) their dog, and has stayed with them before. The two dogs went berserk and exhausted themselves running around excitedly and playing.

After a bit we left to drive home, leaving Scully with our friends. We got home and did last minute things like watering the plants, taking the rubbish out, and packing toothbrushes into our otherwise complete luggage. Then we left to catch a train to the airport.

There have been news stories lately about huge queues at Sydney Airport, as people have started travelling again after COVID, but apparently all the staff that were laid off haven’t been replaced yet, so there are staff shortages, leading to long queues at security and customs. However, when we arrived the international terminal at least seemed fairly dead. I’ve never seen in that quiet. And a lot of the shops and food places were closed. So we didn’t have any queue trouble.

We relaxed in the Singapore Airlines lounge, which we had access to. This was nicer than sitting in the public terminal area, and we took advantage of the complimentary food and drinks. Our flight departed at 15:00.

It was a smooth flight, just over 7.5 hours to Singapore. I watched the movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which I thought was really fun. And then watched some comedy things since my attention span wasn’t up to another movie. Our plan was to stay awake on this flight and sleep on the second leg from Singapore to Frankfurt.

We landed around 20:45 local time (22:45 Sydney time). Our connecting flight to Frankfurt was scheduled to depart at 23:40, so we figured we had close to three hours to wait. Not too bad, although by then it would be 01:40 in Sydney, so we’d be feeling very tired, having been awake since 06:30. We disembarked from the plane and checked a departure board in the Changi Airport terminal to see what gate our next flight would be departing from. It was in the middle of the board… scheduled departure time 23:40… Delayed until 08:40.

A nine hour delay. So instead of three hours here at Changi, we have twelve hours. We confirmed the worst with some airline staff and asked if there was a hotel here in the terminal that we could stay in to get some sleep. They pointed us at the transit hotel, but said it was usually full. We went over there and inquired about any possibility of getting a room, and were told they were booked out. We noticed several other people asking the same thing, having also been caught by the same flight delay.

So, we’re stuck here in the airport, extremely tired after having already been awake for 18 hours now as I type this, and unable to find a place to sleep for the next nine and a bit more hours.

This may not be the worst of it. We were supposed land in Frankfurt at 07:00 on Saturday. From there we catch a train to Würzburg, where we were going to get a COVID test before visiting my aunt in her nursing home on Sunday. They won’t let us visit without a COVID test. But now we won’t arrive in Frankfurt until 16:00, and won’t get to Würzburg until probably 18:00 or later. And the place we were planning to get a COVID test from doesn’t open on Sundays. So if we can’t find another place that’s open on Sunday morning to do a rapid COVID test, we won’t be able to see my aunt. Because we have to leave first thing Monday morning to go to Cologne for my ISO photography standards meetings.

So, in summary, today was great up until we arrived in Singapore. But now it’s all fallen to pieces.

(I won’t be posting the usual new comic links at the end of each blog post while I’m travelling.)

Pre-trip preparation

One day until my wife and I fly out to Europe. The past few times we’ve flown, it had become sort of routine and we were a bit blasé about packing, with the result that we ended up rushed at the last minute. So this time we did everything a day early. We’re pretty much ready to go now, apart from things like taking out the rubbish and watering the plants last thing before we leave.

First thing tomorrow morning we take Scully to our friends’ place for petsitting while we’re away. Then we drive back home, grab our bags, and go to the airport.

I’ve decided to take two lenses with my DSLR, rather than just one. Because I’m taking my camera backpack as one piece of carry-on luggage, and it had room after I took most of the lenses out, so I threw one back in – a wide angle. I figure that should come in handy in Amsterdam, with all the urban architecture and scenery.

New content today:

Pre-pre-trip planning

It’s two days before my wife and I fly out to Germany. I’ve been doing a few things to prepare: getting the luggage out of storage, making sure we have enough toiletry supplies (a small travel toothpaste, floss, etc.), making little piles of things that need to be packed. This will turn into full-on packing tomorrow. I’ve also emailed the nursing home where my aunt lives to confirm our arrival plans for visiting her. And bought some gifts of Australian sweets for a friend we’ll be visiting.

Also tomorrow I’ll need to prepare a laptop to take with us. I need to make sure I can log in to a bunch of sites, to make sure I’m not stranded overseas and unable to log in to something I might need or want. This has happened before, when I told friends and family I’d update Facebook while travelling, only to land in a foreign country and realise I wasn’t logged in on my phone, and couldn’t log in because I didn’t remember my password.

Tomorrow we’re also getting Scully groomed and washed, prior to dropping her off at our friend’s place for petsitting on Friday morning. And there’ll be other things like discarding perishable food, watering plants, and so on, so that things aren’t dead or rotten when we get back. I also need to prepare my sourdough starter to survive 2 weeks without being fed. Apparently you can do this by mixing in flour with a lot less water to make a really stiff paste, which will sustain the culture slowly.

In between all this I spent time making more comics for buffering over the trip. I now have enough done to last through the full two weeks, so that’s another prep item ticked off.

New content today:

Starting ethics of employment

Today I started my new ethics topic: Employment. I made the following diagram, showing how many hours Alice, Bob, and Carol work at the same travel agency, and how many customer bookings they make in a typical week:

Alice, Bob, and Carol's work

Alice gets paid $1000 a week for her work. I asked the kids in the first three classes tonight how much Bob and Carol should be paid.

Most kids said Bob should be paid $500, since he’s only doing half the work (despite the fact he’s working the same hours). A couple said a bit more than $500, two said $750. Exactly one said that he should be paid $1000, as long as he’s actually working the whole time and not just goofing off. Maybe he’s just a slower worker, but if he’s putting the time in he deserves the same pay.

Most kids thought Carol should be paid $1000. Two of them actually argued she should be paid more than that, because she’s doing the same work as Alice, but doing it more efficiently so she deserves more.

This is kind of a very simple toy example, but it was enough to get the kids thinking. I pointed out afterwards that there’s no one “right” answer, and in real employment situations things are more complex because people are doing different mixes of different tasks and they will all have different skills. So deciding what’s fair pay for everyone is not easy.

In trip preparation, today we got the suitcases out of storage. We’re starting to put aside things we know we want to pack. We’ll be packing bags on Thursday, because Friday morning will be busy dropping Scully off at a friend’s place for petsitting, before we return home and then head straight to the airport.

And also today I’ve been churning through generating enough comics and annotations to last through the trip.

New content today:

Ending ethics of ghosts

I finished the Ghosts topic with my online ethics classes today. It was a very interesting and fun topic to discuss with the kids. When asked if people’s spirits should go on to the afterlife or whatever happens after we die as is natural, or if it’s okay for a spirit to hang around on Earth as a ghost, about half thought being a ghost was okay, while half thought it was unnatural and people should just do the normal, expected thing when they die. But when I turned the question around and asked what they would prefer to do if they died, nearly all of them said they’d like to stay on Earth as a ghost.

A surprising question to me was when I asked them the following scenario: You’re a police detective investigating a murder, but you have no clues or evidence or suspects. It looks like you’re not going to find the killer. But then the victim’s ghost appears to you one night in your home, and tells you they saw the person who murdered them. They tell you the name of the murderer. What do you do with this information?

A few kids said they’d arrest the named person, a few said they’d start looking for evidence, maybe search that person’s home. But what surprised me was that most of the kids said the ghost’s testimony was essentially worthless, because they could be lying.

A divisive question was about people who claim to be clairvoyants, and “pass messages” from dead loved ones to people – people who pay the clairvoyant money to contact them. If the client believes that the clairvoyant is contacting their dead loved ones, and so gains comfort from this, is it ethical for the clairvoyant to pretend to be able to do this? And charge money for it?

Most of the kids had a tough time thinking about this one. Most eventually concluded that helping the client was a good thing, even if it was done through deception. But if the clairvoyant charged money for this, then they were taking advantage. Essentially it was okay to do it for free, but not to charge money for it. Although a good fraction of the kids thought it was outright bad to lie to people about this, even if it made them feel better.

New content today:

Stranger Things, on TV and in comics

I’m currently partway through watching the new season 4 of Stranger Things on Netflix. And really enjoying it – a lot more than I liked the previous season. I think I need to go back to the start of season 1 and rewatch everything again, and maybe season 3 will feel better this time.

Besides watching the show on TV, today I also got out my Stranger Things Lego characters and photographed a batch of new comics. This is 4 weeks’ worth of new strips, to cover this week, the next two weeks when I’m overseas in Europe, and a week after getting back. Hopefully that will give me time to make a new batch to follow directly on.

So here’s a question I was wondering about today: Here in Australia we use the word “overseas” to refer to any international travel. Do people in countries with land borders use the word “overseas” the same way? Do Americans use “overseas” to describe travel to Canada? Or Brazil? Or only for travel to Europe/Asia/Africa/Australia?

New content today:

Gaming and comics

Friday was online games night with my friends, so I neglected to update here. I actually won two games of 7 Wonders, which is highly unusual, although I did exceptionally poorly at 6 Nimmt to make up for it. We had an absolutely hilarious game of Gartic Phone, with some truly ridiculous drawings and descriptions.

I’ve been spending time yesterday and today doing more prep work for my trip next week. Yesterday I got caught up on a lot of ISO standards material that had arrived in my mailbox over the past several weeks. I’ve also been making comics as fast as I can manage, to make sure I have enough buffer to cover the time away.

Yesterday I also received my Kickstarter reward for Filth & Grammar, a book about editing comics. I’ve only had time to have a quick flick through, but I’ve already learnt something about preparing comic dialogue layout that I’ve now been consciously applying to the Darths & Droids strips that I’m working on.

Today I used some more bunya nuts in dinner, making a mushroom, leek, and feta tart to add them into. It was pretty rich, but delicious.

New content yesterday:

New content today: