I settled in for the 14 hour haul with some massive reading and viewing. I never sleep on long hauls — small naps and moments of narcolepsy aside — and so I need tons of mental stimulation. It all begins with packing:
Hardcopy: this is paper-based reading for those non-electronic device moments the airlines are so fond of dogmatically imposing. Why a Kindle can’t be used during taxiing is beyond me. But I am not going to argue with the Man.
- Sunday New York Times. $6 at the Hudson News in Terminal C. I repeat: SIX DOLLARS.
- Ten back issues of a newsletter from a Club that shall not be named that I am a guest of this summer for a few days
- Saints and Strangers: Being the Lives of the Pilgrim Fathers & Their Families, with Their Friends & Foes; & an Account of Their Posthumous Wanderings in Limbo, Their Final Resurrection & Rise to Glory, & the Strange Pilgrimages of Plymouth Rock, by George Williston, the best account of the Pilgrims I have read yet beyond Bradford, Mourt’s Relation and Nathaniel Philbrick.
Digital: Kindle primarily – working through William Vollman’s excellent World War II novel, Europa; the New Yorker, and a ton of other texts. I downloaded War & Peace for a re-read. Lots of Kindle usage going on in United business class from Chi-to-PEK. Saw one poor soul start off the trip with a new Apple iPad in his hands. He made sure everyone knew he had one. By Siberia the guy had a massive case of arm fatigue and was trying to prop the sucker up against something. I pitied the fool. Spied another iPad in a guy’s dutyfree bag going through immigration at PEK.
Video: loaded up the ThinkPad with some in-flight viewing. The video screens on the plane are super small, but I suffered through a historical costume drama, The Young Victoria then abandoned the in-flight options and went to my own library. Big surprise was The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke’s winner of the Palm D’Or at Cannes in 2009. Amazing, amazing movie set in pre WW-I northern Germany.
After that I started a Kurosawa flick about a bureaucrat with stomach cancer …. but that got old and I dove into the Willison’s excellent history of the Pilgrims, which had my attention all the way into Beijing.
All in all, I love flying only because I can get a ton of reading and viewing in. Sure, out of guilt I do a little work, but for the most part it’s just a lot of reading and watching, about the only such non-interrupted stint I get these days.