Posts Tagged: flying

On Flying, Part Deux

It is all fine and dandy to drive to San Francisco or Lost Wages or Phoenix from LA, but what happens if you need to go farther afield or even across an ocean? Not even BlkPhbe the trusted Prius can drive across the ocean.
As bizarre as I find the whole flying experience in recent years, particularly the part at the airport before departure, I do like airports. Back when one could walk one’s friends or family to their departure gate, before the advent of boarding pass folks beyond security only, I used to offer to take friends to the airport, as I enjoy the hustle, bustle, and air of possibility that pervades a good, large airport.
People are going places! I could be going places! What fun people watching!
The only problem in the post 9/11 world, the hustle and bustle has been replaced with dour faced, tired, stressed out people. And that only covers the employees and TSA folk, as for the passengers there is an air of defeat.
GW Bush’s pronouncement of “Mission Accomplished” aside, I think the terrorists have won. Instead of airports being a place of movement, anticipation, and possibilities, they are now a place of banal, mindless bureaucracy that verges on shows of soul-corroding power trips in the name of supposed security.
One wanna-be terrorist failed to blow up his shoe, now millions of people get to have their shoes inspected. One failed terrorist couldn’t get his underwear to explode, now many more innocents get to be patted down & felt up in the name of making us all safer.
Before you start thinking, “Well, I am willing to put up with ALL of that AND MORE to be secure!” Are you really that secure? I raise an eyebrow at you. You must not fly that often anymore.
As I detailed out in last night’s post, for trips shorter than 6 hours, I now drive rather than deal with the b.s. at the airport.
Flying internationally is one exception to my little no-fly rule, as I do like to get into an aluminum tube with wings and be strapped in for 10-12 hours so that I can emerge on the other side in a new world. This I like so much, I will put up with quite a bit.
I like watching Labrador, Baffin Island, Greenland, and Iceland from 35,000 ft in the air as the metal tube is getting jostled about by the turbulent air in the interstices of the North Atlantic and the North American landmass. It is even more fun to watch Greenland & Bafflin Island go by with a barf bag* in one hand while one is trying to operate a camera in the other while pressing the lens to the window.
One of these days, I will touch down in Iceland and Greenland for a proper visit rather than just fly over. For Greenland, I will even put up with the airport.
*Sometimes, if it smells real bad, no matter how hungry, don’t eat the airplane food. Yes, they still feed you on International flights.

On Driving, not Flying

Rather than fly to San Francisco this weekend to attend Cindy & Matt’s Wedding 2.0, I decided to drive.
Generally, I prefer to drive than to fly. I don’t like the expense and hassle of flying. It isn’t just the cost of the plane ticket & fees but also do I park my car at a protected pay lot or do I ask a friend or family member to drive me & pick me up from the airport? What about the time it takes to get to the aiport, through security, etc? I own a 2007 Toyota Prius that gets between 46-52 mpg when driving; yes, I can go 460 – 520 miles to a 10 gallon tank of gas. For short trips, there is a definite time savings to driving, as well as money savings.
Las Vegas from SoCal? Drive. If you plan it right, it is 4 hours door to door via the car. I dare you to beat that with driving to the airport, going through security, being at the gate 45 minutes before the flight, plus the 45min to 1 hour flight time & additional taxing to the gate & getting out of the airport & to your destination time. Get a road trip partner & just go.
Phoenix? Also, just drive.
San Francisco? Ooh, that one is hard. It usually is 4-4.5 hours door to door if you fly, plus a minimum of $110 for ticket & fees if you book two weeks ahead. It is 6.5-8 hours door to door from SoCal to SF and less than $60 total in my car, if I drive. But dang if the the drive through the Central Valley on the I-5 is not a mind-numbing haul, even if it is really shorter in the terms of time than one’s brain perceives it. In the end, it is time and how much I need my car when I am in SF that determines if I drive or fly.
The last two trips to San Francisco, I have flown, as I was only in the city for a day or two and was only at one location both times. The trip before that in April, I drove up by myself as I did need my car to get around, and I drove back with my brother who needed to visit a series of commercial real estate properties for work in the Silicon Valley. I picked him up in SF, we drove around for a couple of hours, hit Chinese food in Sunnyvale, looked at a few more buildings and then drove home to LA. Easy peasy.
I like flying Virgin America, it is fun. I like flying American, even if others don’t. I *actually* like LAX. So, if I was only going to be in San Francisco for a weekend wedding and visiting of friends, having to leave late Friday or early Saturday and then be back by Monday morning, wouldn’t flying be easier?
Ah, no.


Simplicity, Moving, and The Joys of a Window Seat

Yes, I have a few blog posts about the Ethics of Leaks, the just announced delicious Nokia N8, and my thoughts on Resources for Developing Mobile Apps, but these three blog posts may have to wait for the weekend, as I have been a bit buried in work.
In the meantime, may I direct you to a few good | interesting links:
52 Weeks of UX on Simplicity isn’t that Simple:

“John Maeda’s First Law of Simplicity states: The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. Refinement that is thoughtful, calculated, and whenever possible and appropriate, based on data is one of the fundamental tools of any designer.”

Jan Chipchase, the master of many travels and more than a few international relocations gives some of his tried & true tips on 10 Tips for International Relocation, of which I find #8 to be my experience as it was darned difficult to get a bank account set up in Ireland when I lived there in 2005-2006:

“8. Maintain at least one bank account in the country you’re leaving, because frankly its a bitch to open accounts when you’re ‘abroad’ and at some point you. will. need. it. The exception to the its-a-bitch-to-open rule are the premium banking services offered by the larger banks geared up to service international clients – allowing you to set up an account prior to departure and pick up your new, local cards on arrival. (I use and am reasonably happy with HSBC Premier)”

And speaking of travel, the NY Times’ Travel Section on Joys of the Window Seat, a visual feast of photos in a fun, but hard to scroll interface.

Putting a Face to the Flight

Driving west on Ocean Blvd to downtown Long Beach

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

I am going to file this under the category of “oh, california” when really it should be under “oh, serendipity”….
This weekend is the annual Long Beach Grand Prix, of which I had forgotten about until this morning when I went to walk the dogs and could hear the sound of screaming engines 7 or so miles away across the Long Beach bay.
Mid-morning I got a call from my brother Joe, asking if I would pick him and his girlfriend, Christine, up and drop them off in downtown Long Beach so that they could go to the Grand Prix. Sure, I said. Off I went, picked them up and dropped them off in front of the Convention Center on Ocean Ave so they could buy tickets.
About 7:20pm, this evening, I got a call asking if I could pick them back up. This evening’s pick up was a bit more elaborate as all of downtown was one big party zone, with streets blocked off and cops re-routing traffic. When I was finally able to get to Pine & 1st Street it was in the wrong direction from our pick up point and I had to yell out the open window of my car to Joe & Christine who were talking to another couple.
Luckily the light was red and they all ran across Pine Ave to jump in my car. All four of them. I was introduced to the other couple who needed a ride down to 2nd Street, which was on the way. The man of the couple was sitting in the middle and he looked vaguely familiar, when he spoke his voice was also familiar.
As we drove east on Ocean Ave down to 2nd Street, it came out that my passenger was a pilot for one of my favorite airlines and not just any pilot, but he flies two of the most prestigious routes LAX to Tokyo and LAX to LHR.
Yep, LAX to London-town, my favorite non-stop. I then asked, “Do you fly the flight that goes out of LAX at ____ and departs LHR at ______?”
He said, “That’s my plane.” He then went on to tell me various bits and ask when was the last time I flew that route, and yes he was the pilot on many of the flights that I have been on the last few years. We also agreed that the long-long haul flights should all have wifi and where he thought that flying economy was rough, I disagreed because I am short and if the airlines has a power port in economy, then I am happy, though I would be happier with wifi. etc.
I dropped him and his companion off at 2nd Street and said goodbye. As my brother, Christine, and I drove home, I geeked out and giggled a bit.
My brother, “Why are you so happy?”
Me, “Well, I love to fly to London. Love it. I love that flight and it is so nice to now have a person and a face to the faceless people behind the locked door flying the plane.”
My brother, “Oh.”
Me, “And best yet, it is much better to find out that one of your badass Glamis friends is my pilot on my favorite flight than some boring suburban dude, as he will most likely know exactly what to do in the case of an emergency.”
My brother laughed at this.
No really, I love traveling but after 9-11 flying has gotten very un-fun, so it was delightful to meet a pilot who flies my favorite route between LAX and London who is a friend of the family and is a really nice, cool guy. A guy that was at the Grand Prix, a guy who is a part of my brother’s Glamis pack of friends, a guy who pilots planes between LA and London and LA and Tokyo.
This makes me happy.