I’ve been listening to the Sawbones podcast, an often delightfully bizarre and disgusting discussion of bogus medical practices through history. (For instance, did you know that some plague doctors would treat bubonic plague by applying human feces to the wounds?) During the episode about trepanation I learned that a tumi is a blade used for early attempts at said procedure, as well as for general evisceration of sacrifices. This obviously left me wondering about the luggage company.
We took a vacation to Costa Rica. Our return trip was one of contrasts. I’m writing about the return trip first, to get the unpleasantness over with. That and I have over 6GB of photos to work through, so the rest might take a while… Costa Rica’s San Juan international airport is the most mellow and relaxing airport I’ve visited. After paying the exit taxes and collecting our boarding passes, we passed through security screening quickly and easily.
As you may have seen on the news, the UK has been experiencing some freakishly cold weather. The weekend before Christmas was marked by a sudden record breaking cold snap. Chesham in Buckinghamshire hit -26 Celsius, a temperature I don’t think I ever experienced during the years I lived in the area. Heathrow airport was engulfed in snow and ice, thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport for days, and it started to look as if our Christmas trip to see my family was going to be canceled at the last minute.
It’s July 23. I’m in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It’s a relatively small airport, rarely crowded, and with an open and airy feeling. The queue to get to security screening was short, as usual. I gave my best performance of Security Theater; my liquids and gels were pre-packaged in a ziplock bag, which I dumped into a plastic tray along with my shoes. I’ve made a habit of removing all metal from my person before I even get to the airport.
I am cheap. I don’t think I go quite as far as being a tightwad, but I’m frugal. I buy generics at the supermarket and drugstore, and when I order from Amazon, I always choose the free shipping option, even though it sometimes drives me crazy waiting for the item to arrive. I don’t mind spending money on functionality, but I find it tough to spend extra for luxury. Today, however, I did something I found difficult: I paid the extra money for seat upgrades for our trip to the UK later this year.
It wasn’t too bad when the wind stopped–only about -3 to -6 Celsius. When we arrived in Minneapolis, it was actually slightly above freezing. I managed to screw up my back somehow en route. I’m not sure how. I think it was a combination of nasty airplane seats, improvised pillows, five hours of journey, and cold gray weather. We managed to rent a Prius. The logic was that although it isn’t 4 wheel drive, on icy roads it’s better to know exactly how the car will handle and how effective the brakes are.
British Airways gave us the option of paying extra for carbon credits to make up for our air travel. We didn’t take them up on the offer. There are a number of reasons why I feel carbon offsetting is a bad thing. The first is that by removing the guilt, it encourages people to continue a profligate lifestyle, rather than actually changing their behavior. For example, if Al Gore genuinely gave a crap about the environment, he would stop flying by private jet so much.
While we were in England, we got the train from Bournemouth to visit London. London was an important part of my life as soon as I was old enough to be allowed to travel there without adult supervision. Some people are naturally country folk, some people are city people; even though I grew up in small villages and quaint towns, that was never where I really wanted to be. I was curious to see how London had changed since I last saw it, nearly 10 years ago.
I woke up on board a 747. Once I’d remembered why, I looked at my watch, and estimated we were an hour or two from landing. I took a drink of water. Soon the BA flight attendants started bringing in breakfast, and I gently prodded the spouse awake. Against all probability, I had managed to get 2 or 3 hours of pretty decent sleep onboard an airplane. Soon we landed at Heathrow Terminal 4.
It had been some four years since I had last visited England. Given how little time off Americans get, visiting my family means not actually having a proper vacation that year, so I don’t get to go back as often as everyone would like. This time the visit was for a particular event: my brother Edward was getting married. I know I have some friends who don’t really understand the whole “marriage” thing.