The following was written on my OLPC during the flight from San Francisco to Sydney, which boarded at 9:50pm PST, and was added to throughout the flight whenever something seemed like it was in need of being written down, and is finally being posted via a kind soul's unsecured wifi within range of our hotel.
6:45pm Thursday Sydney time:
Just finished the first of our in-flight meals, and have to report that Quantas serves some darn tasty food. Best airline food I've ever had.
Played a little bit with the on-demand audio/video entertainment system built into the back of every seat and find it incredibly awesome. They have a crapload of content on there, including a number of movies that are still in the theater. Going to attempt to hack into it later.
The lone disappointment I have with this whole deal is the crazy dual-mono headphone jack required to plug into the audio system, meaning I can't plug my nice Bose headphones into it, instead requiring the cootie-laden UNICEF-begging complimentary ones. Note to self, buy adapter in Sydney for the return trip.
This is the best travel experience of my life, partly thanks to the nice folks at Quantas. They really know how to treat travelers. Largely, though, I think the great experience is due to my brain's altered chemistry, which is something I've been too close to to really notice before. But seeing how easy-peasy and stress-free this whole trip has been thus far, my eyes are really starting to open to just how much better I'm perceiving the world now. It DOESN'T always suck. Why didn't anyone tell me?
5:16 am Friday, Sydney time:
Sleepng in Economy is rough. I really envy those lucky souls who staked out entire rows of four seats, stretching out across them, snoring loudly. Aside from the snoring, it turns out I didn't really need the pink noise; I had forgotten the ever-present hum of the jet engines lulling me into relaxation. I'm not sure if it's just hearkening back to sensations of being in the womb or my fantasies of living on the starship Enterprise, but I always greatly enjoy hearing and feeling the rumble of giant engines on ships and planes. I think perhaps I'll put a subwoofer in the bedroom and realy kick that pink noise up a notch.
I passed a little time last night with Roland of Gilead, experiencing Marvel comics's's adaptation of one of my favorite of Stephen King's creations. I'd been kind of hesitant to read it, as licensed comic adaptations are rarely ever any good, but it turns out my worry was for naught. The art is fantastic and the way they've structured the narration works really well. I greatly look forward to the new series that started on Wednesday -- you know, when it comes out in hardback a year from now; I don't doso well with keeping on top of issue release dates, and I can't stand all the advertisements in the individual issues. In any case, if you've ever had even a passing interest in the Dark Tower series, then Marvel's The Gunslinger Born is a really great place to start.
6:11 am, Sydney time:
Just finished breakfast. Potato frittata with bacon and spinach, coffee, yoghurt (with an 'h'), orange juice, fruit and a muffin. Very yummy. Oddly (to my uncultured American sensibilities) he spinach was not actually IN the frittata, but on the side like the bacon. I enjoy cooked spinach, but never once considered eating it for breakfast. It was delicious, and I heartily recommend spinach as a part of any complete breakfast I think frittatas must be different "down under," because I would have called it a quiche; a fluffy homogenous mass of baked egg, potato and roasted peppers. Whatever it was, it was sure tasty.
It just occurred to me that I neglected to talk about last night's dinner. I had braised beef in a mushroomy red wine sauce with potato mash, green beans and carrots, a feta and tomato salad, finished off with strawberry cheesecake in a vanilla sauce. Also a KitKat bar and hot chocolate with one GIGANTIC marshmallow that I think must've been the gelatinous remains of a single large hoof. Perhaps from a wallaby? Do wallabies have hooves?
Even the trays upon which the food is served are awesome. They're cute little red bento-esque sets consisting of one red kangaroo-emblazoned containment tray filled with interlocking -- ack. I need to switch batteries in my OLPC. brb. OK, where was I? Ah, bento sets. Each of the separate items are in cute little red enamel bento boxes with clear plastic lids, and there's a cute little ceramic/enamel red coffee cup and a wide-bottom chilled glass to partake of whatever beverage you desire. Even the cutlery is high-quality plastic/resin/enamel/whatever. Also, all the containers are the same height, meaning that loaded trays will stack nicely, even when you're done with your meal. I want to purchase some of these sets, but apparently they are the only thing not sold on the actual flight. Seriously, who buys things off an airplane?
The in-seat entertainment center is telling me that we're about an hour and a quarter from Sydney -- which is convenient because even if I didn't find upon packing that my GPS had died, it turns out I'd be thrown off the plane if I were using it. I always have wished to know my exact position, heading and speed whilst flying, and thankfully Quantas has accommodated my desire quite handily. I've decided that from now on I'm flying on Quantas EVERYWHERE. In the wee hours of the morning while watching the neat Google-Earth-esque GPS display, I had the opportunity to not just wave aloha to Hawaii, but also wave aloha as well in the span of a short time.
I didn't watch any movies this trip, but plan to watch No Country For Old Men and maybe The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Gerald Ford on the return trip. Or maybe Letters from Iwo Jima or 3:10 to Yuma. I did discover, though, that the new Nine Inch Nails release Ghosts I-IV is excellent 'airplane music,' complimenting my iPhone solitaire playing and Tetris training quite handily. I've seen a few kids around with Nintendo DSs that I'd like to challege to some head-to-head gaming, but sadly the authorities don't allow radio transmissions to be employed on planes. Someone needs to invent some kind of cable to connect portable video gaming systems together for multiplayer use -- that'll be the future of gaming, I tell you.
7:35am Friday, Sydney time:
We are descending to Sydney, so I need to put this thing away now.
Customs was interesting. They have these insect/fruit/plant/animal-sniffing dogs roaming around sniffing everyone for potentially ecosystem-destroying contraband, and they really seem to enjoy their jobs. This one lady kept getting targeted by dog after dog, but the handlers never seemed to investigate after the fact. I thought this odd, so I began paying attention to her rather than looking for our bags on the carousel until finally the mystery was solved. The handlers had enlisted the lady as an accomplice to testing the effectiveness of the dogs. Turns out she had a special sock stashed in her pocket for which the dog were eagerly hunting. This raised several questions in my mind: firstly, while the dogs were trying to earn treats looking for the sock, were they still sniffing out killer caterpillars and invasive plants and secondly, is it possible that since the handlers obviously knew who had the sock and kept bringing the leashed dogs by that they were influencing the dogs's decisions? It's quite a racket those beagles have set up for themselves.