Jet Lag in Process
My nephew Ben is an engineer for Boeing in Seattle. (Hi, Ben). I'm currently aboard a Boeing 747, loaded with over 400 passengers (and who knows how many tons of luggage,supplies, and fuel), flying at an altitude of over 15,000 feet at better than 500 MPH non-stop to the far side of the globe. No matter how many times I fly, and no matter how many times I hear the principle of "LIFT" explained, I marvel that the whole unbelievable idea works and that man can temporarily part ways with earth and stare down at a blanket of clouds.
I had heard that we would be flying north and mistakenly thought that meant near the arctic north (which struck me as out of the way but what do I know?). Turns out that we did go north but it was in a huge arch across Canada's tundra to Alaska. When there were no clouds, we could see no signs of human life below for hours and hours. In the U.S., we say we're going "up north" for vacation. I don't think Canadians say that. Help me out, Josie and company up there.... How far north do vacationing Canadian parents drive before their kids start saying, "Are you sure this is the way, Dad? Can we at least go back to where trees grow?"
Then somewhere far north of Vancouver, it got very mountainous and snow-covered. I think maybe that was Alaska, but not the parts you see in the travel brochures.
After that, the long, sweeping arch in the air continued pretty much along Russia's north-eastern shoreline, but it was not until the last few hours of the flight that we saw nothing but blue ocean below until we got to Japan.
On the tarmac in Tokyo, the pilot said we were now free to "dis & bark" so all the American passengers began insulting each other and barking like dogs. I didn't, of course, but evidently the others thought it was some sort of Asian custom--you know... sort of like a Chinese fire drill. "Wow!" I thought, "We haven't even gotten to Thailand, and already I've learned something new on this trip."
I was just about to "dis" the lady beside me by telling her she looked like an angry pug as she barked in my direction, but a stewardess picked up the microphone and clarified that they did not say "dis & bark" but "disembark." Everyone was so embarrassed as we got off the plane, but it was an understandable mistake. "When in Rome do as the Romans do" and all that.... It served as a good reminder that in our desire not to offend, we sometimes too hastily adopt customs we do not understand. I'll try to remember that in the days ahead.
Please forgive the silly fabrication above. We've been en route now for about 20 hours and we still have about ten hours to go. I hope I don't regret downloading this in Bangkok. I will give a much more serious update in a day or two. Oh, by the way, we are exactly 12 hours AHEAD of EST in the U.S. So noon here is midnight there. It seems like I should be able to tell you who wins Sunday's NFL Play-off games before they happen, but I've been told that doesn't work.