Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Buxton Bound: Second leg, Kuala Lumpur-Dubai (23/7/13)

We're back on the same plane, which is nice because it has in-seat power points for charging up laptops and phones and stuff. We haven't had that in previous years, A6-ENG must be one of the newer birds in the fleet. Thanks Emirates!

Lunch has just been served and curry was on the menu. [voice="PFY"]CURRY![/voice] And coffee at the end. What kind of coffee do they serve on an airline based in an Arab state? Arabian coffee. [voice="Danny Kaye"]Doing doing doing![/voice] OK I'm awake now!

The "airshow" on the in-flight entertainment system shows our flight path, with an icon of a plane showing where our nose is pointing. They're about 45 degrees apart... strong cross-winds at altitude. If we were back in the days of astro navigation and dead reckoning our navigator would have his work cut out right now. It's also been quite bumpy - the seat belt light has been on for most of the flight, and several times the captain has piped "Cabin crew please take your seats". That's pretty awkward when they're trying to serve our lunch, all the people behind us had to wait about 20 minutes to get theirs. Note to self: booking early and getting the seats at the front of the cabin is a good idea, keep it up. We had the empty trays on our laps longer than usual, but it wasn't too much of a problem because there's a vacant seat in front so I used my go-go-gadget-arms to open the tray table and put my empty tray there in order to get Clippy out and start typing up this post. And to continue dissecting pages 139-144 of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link Study. Can you believe they'd decide the route and stations and then after that start thinking about which population centres and designated business districts it's going to serve? Town planning first, transport planning follows - you promised that in 2006!

During the turbulence I had a full cup of coffee and decided to entrust it to my hand rather than the tray table. I thought my own on-board device driver would be more of a stable platform than the fixed tray. That led to a discussion about the nature of brain function and reflex actions, which eventually came to the conclusion that God designed us with a Just In Time compiler that binds directly to EPROM. Seriously cool tech. It's a self-learning algorithm, the actions used most often are the ones pushed down toward the hardware layer for maximum performance - the conscious brain doesn't have to select the "Add to favourites" option. God is the most ubercool system designer. Creation vs evolution is like The Story of Mel vs a script kiddie's drag and drop programming prowess - except that evolution somehow expects the script kiddie to use drag and drop to create the drag and drop programming environment and all the libraries too. Like the story of Richard Dawkins telling God "Hey it's not that hard to create life, let's have a contest!" So God gets some dirt off the ground and creates Adam and then carves a rib out of him and creates Eve. (We leave time lines out of this story - somehow God takes Dawkins back to creation week and shows him how his great-great-etc-grandparents were made.) So Dawkins says "Doesn't look too hard, let me have a go," and picks up some dirt and starts making a person. "Hang on a minute," God says, "that's my dirt, go make your own!" Moral of the story: you can't design a system from inside it.

Well how else do you pass the time on board a bumpy plane.

From the highly intellectual we swung full circle and started playing games. Chris (of course) had a short length of Cat-5 in his backpack so we set up an ad-hoc network between our two laptops and played multi-player Anno 1602. It was only a short length of cable, and both our laptops (being Thinkpads) had network ports on the left side. So we took turns sitting sideways with the laptops arranged carefully on the seats and tray tables. It worked fine except when I had to go to the toilet - you've heard of the pas de chat, well I did the par der shuffle, with a lunge and a jump at the end.

Funny thing about the toilets - even though it was a brand new plane and smoking has been banned on all international flights for years, it had a pull-out ash tray in the back of the door!

By the time we'd turned the corner in the game it was time to descend so we paused the game and packed our stuff. Very carefully. Losing important things on the way home is bad enough, but losing them on the way out is worse because we need to find replacements in an unfamiliar environment.

So here we are in Dubai International Shopping Centre. The WiFi is flawless, the air conditioning makes it hard to believe it's 40 degrees outside, and after scanning through several hundred flight numbers all starting with either EK or QF, we now know which gate to hang around outside. So all we can do is wait.

And refill our water bottles of course. A good water bottle which really seals is quite amusing to take flying. In flight it's a pressure vessel, so the only safe way to open it is with your teeth - and you get a spray of air and water into your mouth. Then of course if you close it in flight it ends up squashed in when you get back on the ground. For this leg it was empty because I hadn't found anywhere to fill it in KL. That meant I was REALLY thirsty, so when we found our gate I dug it out of my backpack with a raspy "My precious!" - which I amended mid-speech to "My pressure vessel!" Ehee! I made a funny! >SPLAT<

That'll do for now. next stop, Manchester!

No comments: