The need for speed

Planes are funny things. Actually I guess it is the physics that is odd. Planes are quite comprehensible when they are on the ground. But planes flying around are quite another thing.The theory is easy. Air speeding over the specially-shaped wing will create a region of low-pressure above and a region of high-pressure below, effectively pushing the plane in the air. Uh huh. Sure.

The practice is pretty easy too. Fasten your seatbelt. Straighten your chair. Fold away your tray table (they just could not decide on what to call it right? so they settled for calling it both). Try to relax. Feel the plane accelerate. Hope there is no other plane in the way and that they have turned onto a long runway and not one of those shorty little stumpy connecting ones that wouldn’t be long enough for a Cessna to take off. Glance around at the cabin crew to make sure they are looking happy and relaxed. Wonder if we are ever going to get off the ground. Start thinking about how heavy the plane is. Look around at the other passengers, wishing they were a few kilograms lighter, or they had bought a bit less duty free swag. And then it happens. Just when you are starting to think that if they built roads like runways they would not need planes. A little bit at first and then quickly. Up up up and away.

This plane is going higher and faster as the flight gets older. Less fuel I guess. The passengers are likely getting heavier what with consuming all these tasty comesitables and high-sugar drinks.

I am reading the manual for my new camera. Not duty free swag. But Singapore swag. And so reasonably priced. If I had rememberd I could even have got the GST on my purchase back. But I didn’t. Ah well, another $20 for the Singaporean machine.

This is a particularly good manual. It occurs to me that if everyone read the right manual, everyone would be able to programme their vcrs. So why can no one programme their VCRs? Perhaps they throw the booklet away with the packaging. Always a risk. Perhaps they like to test their flatmates’ patience by ringing up every Thursday evening to ensure someone is there to record Coro. Or perhaps just reading the book is not enough. Perhaps congitive processing is what is wanting. Not information. It makes you wonder why they do not think up easier ways to make vcrs programmable. Or maybe it is not cognitive processing. Maybe no one really cares to learn how to programme the VCR. Maybe because of the specificity of the learning. I mean, learning how to programme your VCR does not help you with setting the time on your microwave or with figuring out how to put your stove in auto-bake mode (but who ever uses that anyway?). So maybe if VCRs were made to look and feel like other devices, like a PC, for example, programmability would take a great leap forward.

But I digress. I am sitting at the back of the plane. I like being back here. You can see what is going on. And you get a longer ride – although you have to walk a little further to and from your seat as well I guess.

How quickly it travels. More than a thousand kilometres an hour just now. Makes me dizzy. Almost six months it took me to go the first 16000kms around the world (admittedly with the assistance of several planes at the beginning), and the last 8000kms or so takes less than half a day.

I find it very exciting to discover that New Zealand is still where it should be. I always find it wondrous that maps are correct and that these tiny little islands of green are still in just the right place, floating in the sea of blue.

The screen that updates me constantly on how far away we are also tells me which direction is Mecca. I guess if I flew for long enough it would switch to being east.

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