December 21st, 2005

krazy koati

Sometimes this old farm feels like a long-lost friend

Home again, safe and reasonably sound. These round-the-world flights are almost getting routine, but I still somehow expect the in-flight movies to be directed by Erich von Stroheim. In fact, however, one was directed by Michael Bay -- in this case The Island, on a 757 which either had a faulty connection so that the picture kept getting visual glitches and popped as if it had a defective vertical hold, or maybe it was just supposed to look like that since it was a Michael Bay movie. I do wonder how that plagiarism lawsuit from the Parts: The Clonus Horror people is going, since they've definitely got the grounds for it, although The Island is more generally interesting. Plus it features the guy who played Neelix really breaking out of stereotype by playing a character so genial yet annoying you feel a little bad about wanting to slap him.

The other movie I really noticed was Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which was playing on the Singapore-to-Tokyo leg. The movie opens in Singapore a week from Wednesday. Still, I was quite delighted by the whole thing and I expect I'll probably see it in the theater, where I can watch on a screen more than four inches wide and where more than one second in every four can be heard through the airline speakers.

A sign at Changi Airport reads, ``Please collect your odd-sized baggage from the odd-sized belt.'' Now, that's the kind of organization and discipline that makes a real world-class airport. In contract, at San Francisco's airport was Powerpoint slides from the Office of Homeland Insecurity explaining that they have ``Diverse Responsibilities -- Which We Can Do Well'' if, I presume, we all give 110 percent towards a team-oriented solution generating synergy enterprise. They advise people can being in up to 50 units of prescription medication if, among other conditions, it is ``in it's [sic] original packaging''. The screen also invites those entering the US to watch a short video about fighting FMD, but since there's no audio, all they do is encourage people to watch pictures of cattle and sick pigs, and leave the exact problem to the viewer's imagination. More to come after I've slept a lot.

Trivia: The Apollo 8 Command Module panel display had 24 instruments, 40 event indicators, 71 lights, and 566 switches. Source: ``A Most Fantastic Voyage: The Story of Apollo 8's Rendezvous with the Moon,'' Sam C Phillips, National Geographic, May 1969.

Currently Reading: Science from your Airplane Window, Elizabeth A Wood. It's a reprint of a 1960s popular science book, with that peculiar and wonderful tone such books had back then. It divides into neat topics like how to determine the space between the interior and exterior windows, or measure sizes of things on the ground, or how to study the geology below; or how to do some simple estimates of flight characteristics. Features a goniometer on the back, for if you want to crudely check the bank angle or descent rate.