Monday, November 08, 2010

Compare and Contrast, Part II

The last time I flew was in 1994.

International flights still had a smoking section. A very few passengers in Business or First Class had laptops or cell phones, since laptop computers cost a thousand dollars and more, and it took good credit to get a cellie. When I finished my book, I played Tetris on a Game Boy after listening to the two CDs I'd brought for my Discman. Security consisted of strolling through a metal detector while your purse got x-rayed; your friends could accompany you to the gate.

This time, I was admonished by the stern voice over the speakers that the entire airport grounds of Indianapolis International Airport was a no-smoking zone, parking lots and all; please help us keep Indy healthy! (Burning tobacco apparently being injurious to your health in a way that burning kerosene isn't.)

At the gate, a full third of the passengers were using laptops, and another third had smartphones of some sort; I counted. And the hippie chick with the "COEXIST" sticker on her MacBook and the ring in her eyebrow didn't look like she was going to be sitting in Business Class. The cell phone I used to call my roommate when I landed cost me $15.99 at Target.

When I finished my book, I played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on my Nintendo DS; my iPod had I-have-no-idea how many hundred songs on it, but I never used it, except as a clock.

Security stopped just short, but only just, of full probulation. My driver's license was scrutinized under UV light and compared to my boarding pass. I received one of the shiny new pat-downs at Manchester from a polite and apologetic, but earnest, TSA agent young enough to be my daughter. "Why are you wearing two fleeces?", she asked with a puzzled glance.
"It's New Hampshire out there and I forgot to pack my coat."

Sixteen years ago, Demolition Man was funny-ha-ha. Now it's funny-hmmm.

I'm not going to complain about the little Embraer or the flight experience itself, though, because...

36 comments:

Ed Foster said...

Damn, Tam, you left too soon. You're missing out on a kickass sleet storm. Real Yankee weather.

Anonymous said...

It's sunny and 70 in Indiana today.

We'll have our sleet storms soon enough.

Shootin' Buddy

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Sixteen years ago, Demolition Man was funny-ha-ha. Now it's funny-hmmm.

Yes, but did they have the 3 seashells in the plane's restroom?

Security stopped just short, but only just, of full probulation.

Don't worry, full probulation will come shortly after the next terrorist gets caught with a Semtex suppository. The we can all feel safe once again - because only terrorists will be willing to fly.

Meanwhile, they continue to require the pilots to undergo the VR strip search, as if they couldn't down the whole plane with no weapons whatsoever. Pure security theater, and, perhaps, a way of getting the populace accustomed to deeper levels of .gov intrusion and control.

Joanna said...

Then we can all feel safe once again

Is that what that feeling is called? More to the point, will they respect me in the morning?

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

More to the point, will they respect me in the morning?

Nope.

Anonymous said...

More to the point, will they respect me in the morning?

Or better yet, buy you dinner and/or a drink first.

Borepatch said...

Louis CK's rant is perhaps the greatest of all time.

The only thing he didn't point out was that none of these things came courtesy of the gubmint.

staghounds said...

Miracles and wonders. I'll put up with a probe, to get across the sea overnight.

Bubblehead Les. said...

I'm just glad I've reached the stage where Commercial Flying has become a non-issue for me. But since that guy snuck into Canada from China wearing his old man disguise, I expect the TSA to immediately to start yanking on old folks cheeks as a new method to Stop Terrorism. God help us if Al-Queda gets its act together.

Rob K said...

Everything's amazing and no one's happy, because things -- amazing or mundane -- don't make people happy. Liberty makes people happy.

Mr Evilwrench said...

May be sunny today, but I'm sure that was me driving down College in a sleet storm Friday night. My last flight was a couple of years ago. I'm glad I don't have anyplace I need to go.

Joanna said...

If I have to go overseas and time isn't an issue, I'm taking a freighter. It's cheap and, from what I've read, I'll have most of the time to myself.

Tirno said...

Joanna said, "If I have to go overseas and time isn't an issue, I'm taking a freighter."

Well, there's an idea. We have all these container ships moving around, and quite a lot of them are not entirely full. They move at about 25 to 30 knots, assuming they're not parked in the South Pacific.

What's to keep a 40' container from being refitted with bunks, kitchen and lavatory facilities, an inflatable life raft and bring back steerage class sailing? Depending on who you rented your container from, that could be some nice digs.

The ship's crew would only need be involved if there was a medical emergency. I presume that there is already infrastructure in place to power refrigerated containers from the ship's mains, so that power could easily be used for lighting and climate control as well. A clever shipping line would wire in ethernet and sell satellite bandwidth.

I sense an opportunity.

Tam said...

Tirno,

Dude, that is effing brilliant!

Seriously, I'd think about a business model and chasing down some venture capital; that's the Tramp Steamer of the New World Order right there!

Billy Beck said...

In 1987, I boarded an Alaskan Airlines flight at Seattle, bound for Anchorage. At the time, I had a briefcase (made by Anvil Cases -- this thing was not about the executive aesthetic), and for reasons that I don't recall, I had a small selection of tools in it.

I walked up to the security clown, who was, even then, searching carry-ons. He went through my case, looked at every single thing, and selected a small claw hammer. Holding it up with an air of calm and controlled suspicion, he said, "You cannot take this aboard the airplane. It's dangerous. I'll give it to the flight attendant, and she will return it to you when you step off the airplane in Anchorage."

I rolled my eyes but didn't argue. It played exactly the way he said it would. The poor flight attendant received my little claw hammer in a manila envelope, and took good care of it for me, in addition to all her other duties.

I didn't tell her about the screwdriver that the security moron left in my case, which was almost long enough to pin her to the cabin wall with it, and I did not stab her to death with it or otherwise employ it to its worst potential.

~~~~~

This riduclous bullshit was cranking up long before 9/11.

og said...

Travel by freghter is already common, and relatively inexpensive. You don't want to be in a container. Trust me on this.

Most freighters have adequate passenger accomodation and decent food. Some let you bring firearms.

containers are locked to one another like lego bricks and most cannot be accessed without cranes which the ships don't have.

Joanna said...

I've been wanting to take a freighter cruise for a while now, actually. The most expensive ones I've found were about $4,000, but that's for six months at sea. Some three-month cruises are less than a grand.

Tirno said...

containers are locked to one another like lego bricks and most cannot be accessed without cranes which the ships don't have.

This is true. I roll through the port of Seattle twice a day. There are two ways I can think of to get around this.

First, the cabin/containers could be loaded only at deck level on the outboard container racks. That allows for the passengers to get out and stretch their legs via side-mounted doors.

Second, if you design the container with a 5' corridor right in the middle, you could occupy the entire deck-level with dual cabin containers. Each container would have a 7.5' by 15' cabin at each end, a couple more feet for mechanical stuff, and a central walkway that lines up with the next container's walkway.

A little research reveals that a ship can't have more than 12 passengers without a doctor being on board, so it shouldn't be a problem to rig up one of those containers as a half-cabin, half-medical-office.

og is right in that freighter travel is relatively common, but a not very well advertised fact. I'm just thinking along the lines of "why fly when you can hitch a ride"? You could pitch it as a 'green' option to patchouli wearers, but you'd have to charge them extra to get the pong out of the cabins afterward. If the passenger is a college grad on his wanderjahr, a few days on a cargo ship is better than hundreds of dollars on an airplane ticket.

Tirno said...

Oh, as a bonus, you can pitch used cabin/containers as instant low-income housing or disaster relief housing.

See? SEE??? I'm out to save the WORLD! Nobel Prize, here I come.

John Stephens said...

Just how do you do freighter travel, anyway? Do you contact the main office, or just show up at the gangplank with a seabag and a wad of cash, or what?

Joanna said...

Sometimes you can arrange things through travel agencies (some specialize in freighter travel), but I think a lot of it depends on how much you're willing to pitch in during the journey, how much you're willing to look the other way on certain things, and probably how cute you look in deck shoes.

Tam said...

At this point I must recommend Heinlein's account of his round-the-world voyage via freighter, Tramp Royale.

Ed Foster said...

Ahem. Friends took a honeymoon on a Serbian frieghter for less than $250 per week, so that makes me a second hand expert. New York to San Francisco through the Panama Canal.

It seems that international law requires a ship's doctor if you carry more than 12 passengers. 12 or less and the only cost to the line is their food and laundry, both of which are taken care of by the officer's stewards.

Downside of two weeks abord a tramp steamer (O.K., diesel)?

If they have to divert to pick up a cargo you get to the end of the line late, which in Rudy and Mary's case ment a few extra days on the Carribean, and a free day in Caracas. Awww.

Anonymous said...

> Liberty makes people happy.

If only that were true.

Anonymous said...

"Miracles and wonders. I'll put up with a probe, to get across the sea overnight."
Planes have reliably crossed the Atlantic overnight for over fifty years. The probulation is not the price you pay for this wonder, but rather the additional cost your are forced to endure to experience it.

Anonymous said...

They've been shipping folks around in containers for years. From time to time they locate one at Port Everglades from which the uh, hosts, forgot to release the um, guests. Amazing how many desperate dumb people you can fit in an eight by twenty foot space...

AT

reflectoscope said...

I'd avoid the sunny Somali supercruise though.

Jim

w/v: rhambo. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Anonymous said...

That video made me smile. Thanks. -- Lyle

Old NFO said...

Meh- Glad I'm not ferrying military airplanes anymore... We used to fly back commercial with all our gear, including parachutes, LPAs, knives, flares etc. in our carry on bags. And yes, you can still do the tramp steamer thing...

http://www.shipsandcruises.com/freightertravel.htm

Ted said...

There is another reason you do not wish to travel by container. One of the more interesting tools they use to track sea currents is by the flotsam that turns up when one of those containers just plain falls off of the ship.

As for how amazing the world is... Yes. Yes it is. But we were promised a moonbase and flying cars.

Anonymous said...

I'm a licensed pilot, but I cannot stand flying commercial, not just because security makes me grumble, but because I don't have much of a usuable horizon to keep my inner ear and brain sane.

There is not much view out that little window, and I don't have my old friend the artificial horizon in front of me, either. I flew commercial for the first time the other weekend ago, and I went "Oh shit, this is going to be a problem" upon pushback, because even that messed me up and felt very wierd. Didn't get sick, but I was rather uncomfortable.

Tam said...

I'm not a pilot; the closest I ever got was hanging out the window of a Cessna 152 up to my waist with a camera in my hands while the pilot held my belt.

You do what you gotta do to collect your paycheck.

Buzz said...

"I'm not a pilot; the closest I ever got was hanging out the window of a Cessna 152 up to my waist with a camera in my hands while the pilot held my belt.

You do what you gotta do to collect your paycheck."

Was this some freaky version of the "mile high club?"
(sorry, it was my first warped vision from your description)

Buzz said...

"More to the point, will they respect me in the morning?

Or better yet, buy you dinner and/or a drink first."

The best part is that they don't pay you for the encounter, but the other way around.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not a pilot; the closest I ever got was hanging out the window of a Cessna 152 up to my waist with a camera in my hands while the pilot held my belt.

You do what you gotta do to collect your paycheck."

I don't know about you, but I'd take that ride, pay check or no.

1894C said...

Anonymous
4:23 11-09

+1

1894C

III