Six of One
1. Continental Airlines busted my new piece of wheeled luggage. It was one of those things with the four independently spinning wheels. Strangely, the way the weight was distributed it was easier to push on all four wheels than pull on two. And those things really need a different sort of push handle from the pull type. Despite this, it's a marvelous innovation. Sometimes innovation is not the introduction of new technology but the application of an existing technology to a new use or context. In this case, the independently spinning wheel has been at the front of your shopping cart with either the front left or the front right one getting stuck and causing you much grief for quite a while now.
But back to the luggage, I got to use mine for four trips before one of the front wheels got busted off. A bag with three wheels is not as good as two and certainly not as good as four. However they were sufficient to get me home in one piece and the gorilla at the Munich airport can celebrate a job well done with a banana split.
Improving the robustness of the front spinning wheel would put a company at the head of the class in luggage or grocery shopping carts. It would also make me their loyal customer.
2. I have not slept for weeks and suspect that an emotional cog has gotten loose as a result. I have been crying during the in-flight movies. I am not sure whether this is because they are really moving or because I am so tired. I am pleased to report that I did not cry during "The Zookeeper" but I did cry during "Mr Popper's Penguins" and during "Monte Carlo." I even cried during a scene or two of "The Green Lantern" and not because I find it so bizarre to see Ryan Reynolds cast as a leading man (even more bizarre to see Ryan Reynolds cast as a superhero). If time had permitted me to watch the Dragonball Z live action movie, I have no doubt that it would have made me cry too.
3. Yesterday an airport security dog ( a spaniel or a beagle) was trotting around the baggage claim area sniffing things and people. I assumed sniffing for bombs. At one point I saw the officer with the dog walk up to a man and a woman wearing backpacks and start talking with them. She (the officer) asked to search the backpack of the man. In the backpack was an orange. The dog had sniffed out an orange from foreign lands deep in the backpack of a very tall German dude. It was my real time Animal Planet moment. I was waiting for the narration to kick in. And now I wonder what this dog's job is. Does it sniff for hazardous things or contraband? All of the above? If you placed that orange in a metal container full of coffee grounds, would the dog still detect it? And after an 8-10 hour flight packed in coffee grounds, would you still want to eat it?
A foreign orange is verboten. Invasive microbial species are no joke, Kids. An invasive fungus or plant virus could do a hell of a lot of damage. It would come in invisible, undetected. But if it spread to Florida or California from one European orange and if our local oranges had no natural protective strategy and if they were not being treated with chemicals that would protect them, well, it could be a very big deal. Dutch Elm disease. There, I said it.
Although I wonder if you could quarantine and decontaminate it. Maybe stick it under a UV light for several minutes. After all, we bring in agricultural imports all the time. What is the procedure in that case?
4. Waiting in line for the bathroom in the aisle of the plane, I thought about how I was standing in a big metal tube barreling through the air at speeds and distances that I can not match on foot, what a miracle modern flight technologies is. This rarely occurs to me. I mostly complain about the food and the seats and the people around me (especially the ones that hog all the carry-on luggage space and lower their seat backs all the way into my lap), the bathrooms and gas cramps. Oh, the gas cramps. But really, it's an amazing thing that I am taking for granted. Truly remarkable. A miracle of our modern times. And the fact that one such as I would have access to it, is doubly remarkable.
5. My smartphone does not have data connectivity when I am in Europe. It becomes a big heavy cell phone with very expensive service. It's mostly a big pocket watch. When the plane touches down and I can see the 3G logo in the upper right hand corner and it flashes orange and green, I get a little happy.
6. There is a grocery chain in Germany called Edeka. They have two locations at the Munich airport. I am very fond of the one in Terminal 1. I have a thing for grocery stores.
They have a contraption that will give you fresh squeezed orange juice. You put a bottle on a platform, push a button and orange juice gets freshly squeezed right into the bottle. The housing of the machinery is clear so you can watch the oranges roll up to the juicer and get squeezed. It's pretty cool.
They also have a bottle recycling deposit machine. The plastic bottles all have an added deposit cost associated with them, as is the case in some states in the US. Anywhere from 0.15 to 0.35 Euro. It's a big machine with a hole in the middle. You stick the bottles in an opening and the machine uses some kind of laser or sensor to scan the bottle and make sure that it is recyclable. Maybe scan the label? I don't know. It beeps red if it's going to reject the bottle and green if it's acceptable. Very SciFi. After you have put in all of your bottles, you push a button and it spits out a voucher for your money which you can use at the grocery store checkout. Motivation to recycle and then spend that money right there.
6. I told someone that I currently have a job but no career. I have had this job for 5 years and am growing old while doing it. He asked what my career plans were. No idea. Goddamn Steve Jobs for dying. I had seen this commencement speech before. And when he died, I remembered watching it and have watched it again a few times. What a character. What conviction. What an interesting life.
7. My plans to sleep late and spend the day puttering at home are basically destroyed. There are workmen banging on the walls outside replacing the siding. So much for unpacking and organizing. I moved about a month ago and have been so on the move that I have not had a chance to unpack yet. The sound of banging, power tools, hollering and singing makes it hard to focus. Plus walking by a window and seeing workmen standing on a scaffolding right there, is a bit disconcerting. The sleeping late did not happen. I am trying to putter through the din. They took a lunch break but I hear them walking back upstairs to resume their work. So I'm going to go out into the world.