CFR Notes – United’s Front Desk Problems


I guess that anybody with just a passing amount of interest in air travel by now will have seen the debacle over United 3411 and the violently “re-alloctated” passenger. (If not, One Mile At A Time has a lot of coverage – this one will work as a starting point.)

I am not going to enter into the specific case – but for the record, I’ll say on the issues in it that –

  • I do believe United royally screwed up
  • I am happy to hear about the suggested analysis and revision of all their customer-facing policies
  • I think that the US consumer protection for air passengers stinks

But what I will say here – and it relates to the second point above – is that, in my experience, United simply does not empower their front line personnel to do much at all for their passengers.

Case in point: my experience from a cancelled LAN-ORD flight in September 2015 (read about it here).

What happened when we had received our text messages from various services that our flight would be cancelled and rushed to the airport was … nothing much.

The United lady behind the counter there flatly told us that she couldn’t do any rebookings, any information, anything at all – and on top of all of that, that we had to call United’s service center on our own (foreign plan = expensive) cell phones because her phose system was dead.

I mean… Anywhere else in the world when I’ve had a flight delay, a cancelled flight, any disturbance, the gate agents have at least been a pillar of professionalism. I’ve had rebookings done, I’ve had information on alternatives, I’d had status updates on the situation… in rare circumstances, I’ve had a professionally compassionate and excusing explanation as to why they couldn’t do anything right now – but then, invariably, advice as to how and when I might get help.

In fact, I will usually tell people that when you find yourself in dire straits while travelling, always remember that the gate agent is your friend and maybe the only one you have. But here? She flatly stated that in our sutuation, no help was going to be available for us because her systems did not allow her to help.

Whether that was “no help in general” or “no help because you are flying, ultimately, internationally” (and Lansing is a rather small, primarily domestic, airport) I don’t know. To state the obvious, I am not directing my ire at the specific lady in question but at the policies and systems that were so inadequate that they left her in a hopeless situation.

But I do know that I felt utterly let down by United’s lack of empowering their people – through systems availability and policies – to help their customers.

So I am not so surprised that they’d end up in a situation where lack of empowerment led them with only the bad options left. As we’ve all witnessed.

Photo from
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Cobblestone Cooking Music XXXVI – Danish Classics: “Leverpostej”

There, in the bowl to the upper left next to the bacon…

Like so many other Danish staples or classic recipes, “leverpostej” or “liver paste / pate” involves pigs – well, pork – and is best eaten with a cold beer alongside. And, just to get the disclaimers out of the way: it in no way looks anyway near appetising while you make it up…

  • Bette Midler, The Rose
  • Kate Bush, Feel It

There is a Danish saying that the only thing of a pig that is not utilised in Denmark is the last squeal it makes when it is slaughtered. Surely, for some, this lunch dish is made with parts that not everyone would involve in regular cooking: lard and liver.

Liver, of course, can of course be eaten on its own – at least according to approximately half the population. In that case, fried – but never, ever beoynd pale rose. Liver, fried until it’s dry? Those doing it will be among the choices for first against the wall when the revolution comes 😉

  • Chris Isaak, Wicked Game
  • Celine Dion, Pour Que Tu M’aimes Encore

In the old days, these two items would be passed through the mincer together and end up in a paste – nowadays, we buy them separately, frozen in 1/2 kg portions. You can buy them premixed – but we prefer a bit higher a liver to lard ratio than the regular mix offers. So we use 1 kg of liver to 0.5 of lard.

  • Paul Young, Everytime You Go Away
  • Queen, My Melancholy Blues

The downside of buying it that way is that the lard is very hard – yes, yes, also after thawing it, you cheeky… 😉 It takes quite some working with a couple of utensils to split it into reasonably small chunks and I’ve always had a devil of a time mixing it evenly into the rest of the ingredients.

That, however, I solved today with a lucky mix of engineering thinking (I am a chemical engineer by education) and general methods development 🙂

  • U2, With Or Without You
  • Diana Krall, The Boy From Ipanema

See, to bind everything together and possibly also to further stretch the valuable ingredients and feed more people on the farm, you add in  a “poor man’s roux” – melt some butter or cooking margarine, add in flour and bash together, then slowly add water, bring to a boil, stir until even and repeat. For this, 100 g of butter, 3 dl of flour and 8 dl of water. Finally, let it boil for a little bit to get the most flour-ish taste out of it.

And then I thought – maybe just bring this, as it s hot, and the lard together. And presto!, it became manageable and easy-peasy to mix everything else in. “Everything” else is the minced liver, 4 finely grated onions and salt, pepper and allspice.

  • Nat King Cole, Unforgettable
  • Styx, Clair de Lune / Ballerina

And here we are, far enough down on the page for me to throw a few pictures in from the proceedings. See, told you is wasn’t really pretty…

Finally, I for one don’t really fancy tasting that mix to judge whether it’s had salt or pepper enough. The trick here is to take a couple of teaspoons of the “slurry” and microwave it for a minute or so to bake it. And taste that – also has the benefit of being closer to the end product, so to speak. It took two iterations to get it right.

Most of this rather big amount is now portioned and in the freezer – we have these ceramic bowls that can go straight from the freezer to the oven, so for a number of weekends in the coming half year or so, we can enjoy freshly baked “leverpostej”.

  • Roy Orbison & kd lang, Crying
  • Joan Jett, Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

Because that is how you prepare it – you bake it for about an hour or so at 200°C / 390°F. And serve warm on Danish rye bread with crispy (!) bacon and pickled red beets (or, as it will be today due to a sad lack of those, cornichons). Optionally, also put champignons on a pan or in the oven for a bit. And, as mentioned, with a cold beer – could well be a dark variant.

Happy cooking!

Photos by me.


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Easter Vacation

…off without electronics and data coverage 🙂

Photo by me
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Monday Motorway Music™, April 3 – Spring Is Springing

We’ve had some excellent spring weather lately – even if it’s been a little on and off (Sunday, I’m looking at you!).

The sun’s really making a difference, the light in the morning is battling the hour lost to Daylight Saving Time and there is absolutely all the something in the air that spring is known for! Of course, it helps that we’ve passed the spring equinox.

On top of everything else, I had the luxury of having this very Monday off 🙂

Most of it, to be honest, spent at all sorts of practical chores in and out of the house. But still…

The pictures are from a nice wee break in the sun late Friday afternoon.

PS What happened to last week’s Monday? Flew by like the deadlines in the Douglas Adams quote, I reckon…


What A Wonderful World – Joey Ramone
Roll Over Beethoven – ELO
Telephone Line – ELO
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra
Guns and People – Eric Serra
Rock Me – ABBA
I’ll Kill You If You Don’t Come Back – Meat Loaf

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, March 20 – A Whiff Of Royalty


We spent a long weekend in Scotland this past weekend – throwing a few days of luxury at ourselves with a two-night stay at Culzean* Castle.

* Don’t know why, but the “z” is silent…

The aim of the weekend was to un- and rewind and with the fabulous setting, the care and gentle, warm service bestowed on us by Billy and the other staff at the castle plus a couple of walks out in the Scottish terrain – and weather! – we certainly achieved what we came for.

We started, actually, even before arriving at Culzean – by having lunch at the Brig o’Doon of Robert Burns and Tam o’ Shanter fame:

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin’!
In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin’!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy commin’!
Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane o’ the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.
Excerpt from Robert Burns, Tam o’ Shanter poem

The Brig o’Doon

The castle itself was of course a lovely place to stay – and on top of everything else, the weekend guests were treated to a tour of the castle on Saturday morning. Where we learned and saw many interesting things – history, architecture, anecdotes and much more.

We learned that the other door in our bathroom actually was to a servant’s starircase – there were a handful or so of those along with anterooms etc, so that the servants of the castle’s heyday could come and go and see to their chores without unduly disturbing the family and their guests!

And there were bell calls in a lot of the rooms – in fact, in the lower floor down by the kitchen and other practical rooms, there were 31 bells all originally connected to each their room. Each bell had its own tone – so the experienced servants didn’t have to look which room was ringing down, they could hear it.

Often, the rooms had two of the small jandles for the bell call – especially if these were next to the fireplace. Only one worked – the other one was there to create symmetry. For the same reason, a door on one side of the room could well be duplicated in the other side – the second with no function other than balance.

Bonnie Scotland is indeed that – beautiful!

Since You’ve Been Gone – Journey
Real Wild Child – Iggy Pop
Leader Of The Pack – The Shangri-Las
She Bangs – Ricky Martin
Hey Good Lookin’ (Your Place Or Mine?) – Backseat Boys
I’m Gonna Getcha Good – Shania Twain

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, March 13 – Travels Coming Up!

Saw this little scene as I came driving by it the other day – and thought “They’re certainly queueing up nicely, those cows. Wonder where they’re taking the bus to…?” 😉

And I’ll be boarding a few times of my own in the coming weeks – two work related trips and one relaxation getaway in between. Should be all lovely and good, all in Europe and no real time zone fuzziers in that agenda.

But, actually, for once this is not meant as a disclaimer for non-postings to occur. I should be around on Mondays! 🙂 In other words, if posting schedule disruptions occur, it is more likely to be a regular screw-up than anything else…

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – Meat Loaf
Let’s Face The Music And Dance – Diana Krall
Missing – Everything b´But The Girl
Every Song But My Own – Sinne Eeg
Since I Fell For You – Bob James/David Sanborn/Al Jarreau

Photo by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, March 6 – Wakeee, Wakeee


Last week, Monday was a day of work and meetings and somewhat unexpected Birthday cake – in the US. So no music while driving in the morning and no post. Sorry.

The picture above also is a “semi-desparate dive into the archives” effort – even with the travelling last week, I had no news-worthy shots in stock. Especially because the last few ones I’ve made already has been posted over there ( –>) to the right, in the Instagram feed.

Oh, the perils of productivity 😉 But I must admit that I liked the torn look of these clouds, as if the sunlight hidden behind them really was trying to claw its way through. Something we can relate to in Denmark in the throes of winter.

Which links a little to the music list of today – in order to be able to reach something like productivity on this Monday morning, a certain … energy level … in the music had to be employed.

Since You’ve Been Gone – Journey
Sheena Is  A Punk Rocker – Ramones
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
All Revved Up With No Place To Go – Meat Loaf
Hold The Line – Toto

Photo by me.
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Winter Wonderland On A Friday Morning

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And the obvious music to it?

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, February 20 – Winter Flowers And A Unique Concept


We had winter. Today we’re back at +6°C or something – and rain. Ugh 😦

But while we still had winter last week and it was frosty and sunshiny and cold and everything – we also had an afternoon or two where the sun was doing what the sun does and as you walked around in the sunshine, you knew it was winter but believed that spring would come… 🙂


And this is of course where you get a lot of much needed comfort and confirmation that spring will, eventually, arrive – when the earliest flowers peek their heads over the snow. Erantis and snowdrops. Always so welcome.

How, do I hear people from warmer and sunnier and not halfway as dark places on this Earth ask – how do you manage up there in the dark and cold North?

dsc_7614We emply “hygge”. A quintessentially Danish concept. It involves warmth – physical as well as inter-human. And candles, books, blankets and duvets, food, drinks, whether hot or cold … Not all at once – that would likely be messy and impractical – but always at least some of these parts.

There are many ways to describe this “hygge” thing. Take your pick from the following or make up your own definition 🙂

The music of today probably do not feature high on the “hygge” lists – but, y’know – to wake up on  a Monday morning…

Links 2, 3, 4 – Rammstein
Stairway to Heaven – Heart
Get Over It – The Eagles
Guns and People – Eric Serra

Photos by me.
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Cobblestone Cooking Music XXXV – Basics: Curry


Up here, it would have been nice with a picture of the dish, wouldn’t it? Something digitally bad happened to it, though – and the leftovers aren’t really photogenic. So, no. Instead, you’re having a picture of fenugreek seeds – hoping that I got the translation of those done right 🙂

  • Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Mighty Quinn
  • Coldplay, Everglow

This story actually starts a little less than a year ago. Or, if you will, in the early 90s…

The 90s version of the story starts with me, in my first commercial job, starting to travel on a regular basis to the UK – more specifically, to the general Glasgow area. As a side effect to that, I soon spoke a decent Glaswegian and to this day loves that accent – I can watch Taggart just to listen to it. But more to the point, the quality and level of Chinese and Indian restaurants were – and probably still are – way better than anything in Copenhagen.

As for the more recent developments, my dear kids gave me a cooking class gift certificate last year for my birthday – at an Indian restaurant.

So – finally – today it was time for trying out curry in the kitchen.

  • New Radicals, You Get What You Give,
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer, She’s Kinda Hot

Curry base: Onions, Tomato, Ginger, Garlic – roughly 10:4:2:1. The tomatoes can easily be the peeled, canned version. Better if they’re somewhat acidic.

Peel and slice things thinly. Get the onions on the pan with oil – they need to get clear and not brown, so stir! When they’re there – add the ginger. Then the garlic, frying well and stirring until it all turns soft and nice and ever so slowly yellow, light brown.

Once things have come that far, add the tomatoes. And continue over medium heat, stirring, until the oil sort starts separating – then it’s time to similarly stir in some plain yoghurt, to the acidic side if you have a choice. And, when that is absorbed and well and ready, blend (optional, I am told).

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That altogether took maybe an hour or so. And here is a good place for a break in the procedure – you can actually make up a decent amount and freeze in portions at this stage.

For the meal itself, I got Basmati rice cooking, then cubed up some chicken breast, added salt & pepper and got that frying. For the curry, I heated up oil on a pan, added cumin, dried chili, coriander seeds and fenugreek seeds (?!), all freshly ground together in the mortar. Carom seeds are apparently essential – didn’t have any – and I forgot the turmeric. Oh well.

  • Wild Cherry, Play That Funky Music
  • R.E.M., Everybody Hurts

Put the spices on the hot pan in the oil and fry – take care not to burn! Add the curry base and heat/stir until it once again starts separating the oil. At this time, some fresh spices can go in – I added a touch of chili and some fresh ginger – garlic could have been an option, too.

  • Dire Straits, Money For Nothing
  • ZZ Top, Tush

Whenever both parts are ready, add the curry to the chicken and serve with the rice. Yum! We had a 75 cl Leffe Blonde in the refrigerator – went well with the food.

Happy cooking!

Photos by me. Fenugreek seeds photo by Sanjay Acharya.


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