Tags: flying

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sparkline

100 words 003

I measure transatlantic flights in movies watched. Yesterday’s journey from London to Seattle was four movies long.

  1. The Imitation Game: a necessarily fictionalised account of Turing’s life (one of the gotchas about top-secret work is that it’s, well, secret). But couldn’t Tommy Flowers have been given at least a walk-on part?
  2. Fury: Brad Pitt plays Lee Marvin in a war story told through the eyes of the naive rookie as seen in The Big Red One and Saving Private Ryan.
  3. Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part One: The Hungering.
  4. Paddington: just right for the end of a flight.

August in America, day twenty-six

My last day in Chicago was short and uneventful. After a late check-out from the hotel, Jessica and I wandered down to Intelligentsia, had some coffee, wandered off for some lunch, wandered back to Intelligentsia for even more coffee, before wandering back to the hotel to kill time before leaving.

Brad was leaving around the same time so we shared a ride out to the airport, which went pretty smoothly considering Chicago’s infamous traffic. We made it to O’Hare in plenty of time, breezed through security and hung out in the lounge until our flight was ready for boarding.

Thus endeth my August in America.

I’m pleased that I was able to live out of a medium-sized suitcase for such an extended period.

I’m pleased that I didn’t use a byte of data on my phone for the whole trip—the trick with the offline maps helped a lot.

I’m pleased that I was able to keep my promise to myself to document the trip by writing a journal entry every day I was in America …well, except for this one, which I’m writing from my home in Brighton. But hey, 25 out of 26 ain’t bad.

August in America, day eight

Today was a travel day. It was time to leave our most excellent hosts in Philadelphia and make our way to Jessica’s parents in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

I spent most of the travel time with my headphones on, listening to music and reading on my Kindle. I finished Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, a thoroughly enjoyable—if not exactly tightly-plotted—romp around the solar system, and started in on Lauren’s latest, The Shining Girls. It’s a real page-turner. Or, in the case of the Kindle, a real button-pusher.

For take-off and landing, headphones and Kindles have to be stowed so I always make sure I’ve got a good ol’ dead-tree tome with me on any plane journey. On this occasion I started into a copy Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge that I picked up at a second-hand bookstore in Alexandria earlier this week.

There was no direct way to get from Philadelphia to Tucson, the nearest airport to Sierra Vista. Layovers were inevitable. We flew with Delta, which meant that our layover would be at their hub in Atlanta.

The flight from Philly to Atlanta was pretty straightforward, but we could see storm clouds brewing. After a stopover in Atlanta for a couple of hours, we continued on to Tucson, by which time the storm clouds were brewed and angry.

Clouds

As we chased the sunset, we flew over a landscape of explosions in the sky. Dark cloudscapes erupted with light every minute or so. It looked like a bombardment of multiple timezones. At one point, Jessica saw a shooting star. It was as if the Perseids were MIRVing to deliver angry payloads of light flashes while we flew unscathed above it all.

Explosions in the sky

Jets dream

I’m back home after a bit of a whirlwind visit to the US for An Event Apart in Atlanta (which was, as always, superb). I’m currently battling east-west jet lag. My usual technique is exactly what Charles Stross describes:

Simply put: go to bed immediately but set an alarm to wake you after no more than 3 hours. Then get up, and stay up, until 11pm. That’s around 3-5 hours. During this time, do nothing more intellectually challenging than running a hot bath. You haven’t caught up with your sleep deficit, you’ve just pushed it back a bit: you are as cognitively impaired as if you are medium-drunk. Now is a good time — if you have the energy — to load your dirty clothes into the washing machine, have a bath, watch something mindless on TV, and catch up on web comics. Don’t worry: you won’t remember anything tomorrow. Just refrain from answering urgent business email, driving, assembling delicate instruments, or discussing important matters — if you do any of these things, odds are high that you’ll get them horribly wrong due to the impairment caused by cumulative sleep deprivation.

He goes on to wish for the invention of teleportation (and to describe a jet-lag inspired RPG).

There’s another situation where we have to deal with sitting in one place through a long uncomfortable experience: dental surgery. In that situation, we rely on medication to get us through. A little bit of nitrous oxide and the whole thing is literally over before you know it.

Why don’t we do the same thing for transatlantic air travel? The equipment is already in place—those oxygen masks above every chair could easily be repurposed to pump out laughing gas.

If this is a stupid idea, you’ll have to forgive me: I blame the jet lag.

Copenhagen

I’ve been seeing the inside of a lot of airports lately. Right after getting back from XTech in Amsterdam, I flew up to Manchester to deliver a one day workshop in Ajax.

It was my first visit to the mighty Mancunian metropolis and a very pleasant visit it was, especially given the opportunity to go drinking with Patrick Lauke, James “Brothercake” Edwards, and Chris Mills in a bar that was decked out like a sci-fi version of the Hard Rock Café from parallel grungy dimension.

Tomorrow I will once again be doing the airport shuffle. This time the airport is Stansted and the destination is Copenhagen, the setting for the eighth iteration of the Reboot conference. I’ve never been to Denmark, let alone Reboot, before. I’m really looking forward to it.

I will be speaking but for once it won’t be a code-filled techy presentation. Instead, I plan to deliver the most pretentious talk ever devised: In Praise of the Hyperlink.

I also managed to solve the mystery of the missing email and figured out that the person doing the pre-Reboot podcast was Nicole Simon. We had a little chat over Skype and you can listen to the conversation if you want to get a taste of what I’ll be talking about.

If you’re going to Reboot, I’ll see you there. If not, expect the usual cascade of Flickr pics and liveblogging.