10 things I do to survive airports and flying


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My work means that I’m often at airports and flying from place to place. Sometimes I love it and other times I hate it. Here’s a list of things that I do very self consciously to try and stop myself either going crazy, getting sick, or getting frazzled and worn down:

  1. Avoid alcoholI love a glass of wine (or two) especially in the evenings. However, if I’m flying I’m convinced that any alcohol (even a small amount) makes me terribly dehydrated and hungover. So now I have a rule: If I’m flying I won’t drink any booze. This includes at the airport, in a lounge, or on the plane.
  2. Drink only water or juice: Usually at the end of a couple of days of training I’m tired, sleep deprived, and dehydrated. Drinking lots of water, juice, or tea helps me get on top of this.
  3. Avoid high carb foods: I’m not totally committed to this, but I think I generally feel better if I stay away from bread, biscuits, pasta, and other high carb foods if I’m on the move. Instead, I’ll pick out stuff that I know is not going to sit like lead in my stomach. I’ll snack on bits and pieces or the nuts I pinched from the mini bar at the hotel.
  4. Change into comfortable clothes: I’ve been caught a few times with cancelled flights or other disruptions following training trips where I’ve been wearing my work clothes and shoes. This sucks. If this happens and I have to suddenly get on a bus or take other actions I want to be wearing something comfortable like jeans and a sweatshirt. And really comfortable shoes that I can walk in if necessary. This means I need to think about getting changed before I check my luggage.
  5. Don’t touch anything: This is not actually possible, but I have become a bit of a germ freak. I got really sick last year and now I am extremely conscious of what I touch and about washing my hands. It’s not rocket science really…
  6. Check in with family: This is probably a no brainer as well. I always txt home and let them know I’m at the airport and that everything is going to plan. And if anything changes (like the weather) I’ll update family immediately just so there are no surprises later on. That way if I have to make alternative arrangements we’ve all had time to think through the implications of me not being home when I had planned.
  7. Not delude myself about how much work I’ll get done: I used to be convinced that I’d get so much done when I was waiting in the Koru Lounge or in the couple of hours of downtime on the plane. I know this really works for people too, but I’m pretty much useless at working in these kinds of places, especially if I’m tired. So now, I set myself pretty much zero expectations of getting anything extra done. And then I don’t feel frustrated or disappointed.
  8. Joined the AirNZ Koru Club: To be honest, I don’t really like the “free” food… it’s all pasta and sandwiches and stuff that I’m happy to eat sometimes, but don’t really need to eat. I also don’t drink the “free” booze either. What I’m paying for is a comfortable place to sit, relax, leave my stuff while I use the bathroom, and use the internet. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it, especially just to have access to a power point to plug in my laptop and charge my phone.
  9. Charge all devices: There is nothing worse than having a cancelled flight and being stuck somewhere like on a complimentary coach ride to nowhere with flat mobile phone. If my phone is charged I have access to the internet, to my family, and to things like audiobooks to pass the time. I always charge everything up while I’m waiting for the plane. Then I can at least live tweet that insane midnight coach trip from hell for my own amusement.
  10. Have great carry on luggage: This probably sounds crazy but I am obsessed with carry on luggage. I have a couple of great bags that I use depending on what I’m doing. I’ve got two soft laptop bags – one medium sized Waterfield Cargo and one skinny Defy Bags Recon Messenger, and a very cool Goruck GR1 backpack. All three can take up around the carry on limit of 7kg for laptop and other gadgets. I love this gear so much I’ll probably have to write them up in a separate blog post…

Any tips on how you survive airports and flying? Hit the comment button and let me know…

Cool blogs I read from time to time: Altucher Confidential, Gapingvoid, Austin Kleon


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Procrastinate much…? Here are some of my internet heroes and favourite places to waste time reading:

  • James Altucher’s Altucher Confidential: This guy is one of my favourite internet characters. He’s really smart, has a great sense of humour, and has failed at just about everything you can fail at in business. He’s also just started a podcast radioshow. I listened to the first episode today which I downloaded from iTunes for free. Fantastic. I’ve got all his ebooks as well.
  • Hugh MacLeod’s Gapingvoid.com: Hugh is one of the internet’s coolest cartoonists. I read his blog, and I buy his books and art from time to time. He has some of the keenest insights on the web on marketing and creativity. Go and have a look… you’ll be inspired.
  • Austin Kleon is a writer who likes to draw. He’s also writing some great stuff about creativity at the moment. I’ve got his two most recent books and a couple of his prints on my walls at home. Like his buddy Hugh MacLeod, his work is highly visual, not academic, and highly easy to read and engage with.

None of this has anything to do with literacy and numeracy, but (and perhaps probably because of that) I find myself inspired in my own work by these guys…

Good News: TEC’s Report to the Minister on Adult Literacy & Numeracy Qualifications


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Just in… Great to see hear that the TEC has been able to report the following good news to the Minister of Education. Thanks to the TEC for supplying this information:

Assessment of the 2013 Adult Literacy Educator (ALE) Grants is complete and the results show good demand for the Grants with 97 per cent of the Grants assigned to providers by the TEC, allocated to students.

100 per cent allocation was achieved at Level 5 and with a small number of students to complete their National Certificate in Adult Literacy Education in early 2014, 100 per cent achievement is also expected.

For the Level 6 to 9 programmes, 88 per cent allocation was achieved.  Based on trends from previous years, we expect a high percentage to complete their qualification over the allocated timeframes.

Increased demand for ALE Grants to complete literacy and numeracy qualifications has been partly due to the changes to Youth Guarantee and Levels 1 and 2 SAC funding, with extra demands on small private providers to qualify their existing staff with adult literacy qualifications.

As there is still a shortage of tutors with the necessary specialised knowledge of literacy and/or numeracy learning skills to teach adults with major difficulties in literacy and numeracy learning, a good up-take of the ALE Grants at Levels 6-9 is expected to continue in 2014.

Embedding literacy and numeracy into basic trades training in prisons


Ok… just one more since I can’t stop showing off the success of our fantastic ALEC graduates and their work. Here is Andy Wood – Literacy and Numeracy Ninja – discussing how he uses a basic framing task to embed literacy and numeracy.

What kinds of literacy and numeracy skills do you think the learners would need to focus on in order to create this? Here’s a few for starters:

  • A high enough level of reading comprehension that they can read a plan.
  • A working vocabulary that includes the names of the tools and materials.
  • Number and measurement skills that would allow them to calculate, measure, and cut the timber

What else can you think of? Hit the comment button and let me know.

And another ALEC All-star graduate embedding literacy and numeracy into building and painting in the prison system


This another of our NCALNE (Voc) graduates discussing how he embeds literacy and numeracy into pre-trade building training. Great to hear the prisoners’ voices as well here.

If you need further evidence that embedding literacy and numeracy into trades really works, then look no further.

Of course, it certainly helps when the tutors and the organisation are highly motivated to make it work as well… This is how we reduce reoffending in New Zealand.

Andy Wood ALEC All-star Graduate Embedding Literacy and Numeracy into Carpentry Training in Prison


Here’s another of our all-star ALEC graduates talking about his work embedding literacy and numeracy into trades training in prison in New Zealand with the Department of Corrections. Awesome work Andy…!