Frozen transit

Location: Over the Pacific Ocean somewhere
Time zone: Pacific Standard Time

Turbulence, bad enough that they suspended beverage service. I shouldn't be surprised, since the flight from Seattle to San Francisco was rough and the route from SF to Beijing covers the same general area at the start. On the news this morning I saw a big weather system over the northeast Pacific, and that's where we are. Good thing I got my Bacardi and Pepsi before the crew had to strap in, though it's a challenge to pour from the can into the little cup with the ice without spilling. So far so good.

The movie showing right now is The DaVinci Code, which I saw two weeks ago on the eastbound flight, so I've got The Rough Guide to Bollywood on the Zen. I finished A Deepness in the Sky as we waited on the tarmac at SFO. Very good book - not surprising given the quality of the other Vernor Vinge books I've read. He manages to straddle big concepts and human-level things very nicely.

This is one of the roughest flights I've been on. I try to relax and smile and treat it like a rollercoaster ride where you can't see what's coming next. Whee! Rum on an empty stomach might in this case might actually be a benefit...

I hope it doesn't last too long, though, since I didn't get anything to eat in SF.


Location: Over the Bering Strait
Time zone: Approximately on the International Date Line
Sometime during Little Miss Sunshine, around the time when the family arrives at the pageant, even Kafka on the Shore couldn't keep me awake and I turned off my reading light for a nap. Not long after that, more turbulence woke me up. The credits for the movie were running, so I knew it hadn't been long. I saw that the guy next to me was out of his seat, and started to get up, taking advantage of his absence to escape my window seat. Just then they turned the seatbelt light back on. I opened my window shade to see a bizarre scene below. It didn't even look like something from this planet, but I know things often look strange from high above. It was like giant sheets of ice suspended over nothingness. And above it all, in a strange blue fading sky, was a full moon. I quickly pulled out the camera, though I have little hope it could capture the scene. When the trip display came back on the screen, I saw that we were passing over the Bering Strait.

Location: Over the Sea of Okhotsk
Time zone: Unknown

And now I'm looking down on the barren white mountains of eastern Siberia with late afternoon sun turning the snow a little pink. I'm very glad I'm six and a half miles above it. Still six hours to go. The land below is incredibly desolate, just thousands of bare mountains dusted with white. I wonder if they have a brief season of green there. The land seems so empty, and I can easily imagine that even in the long history of humankind, there are many of those valleys and ridges that no person has ever walked upon. Why would anyone? There's nothing there, and surely not much to eat for any kind of animal, and it's not on the way from anywhere to anywhere unless you get to the age of air travel.
The ice looks different here in the Sea of Okhotsk, more fragile, kind of like crumpled wax paper pressed between two sheets of glass.

Location: Over some part of Siberia
Time zone: Probably the same as China Standard Time

I’ve started seeing roads and the geometric patterns of agriculture, and I am comforted by the knowledge that I am once again traversing the world of human beings.

I would like to publicly thank the artists whose presence on my Zen made the trip more bearable: Shylock, Dizzy Gillespie, Danielle Dax, the Strawbs, Michael Brook, Miroslav Vitous, Tasavallan Presidentti, Richard Thompson and the rest. Thanks also to Vernor Vinge and Haruki Murakami for writing such enjoyable books.

Location: Beijing, China
Time zone (internal): Undetermined

I'm sure I could say more, but it's past 9:30 and I'm more asleep than awake. My coworker TG brought me some leftover pizza from the place across the street to fill the void in my refrigerator (and stomach), and CL sent an email excusing me from going to the office tomorrow.

Apparently, the internet connection from here to the US has been unreliable lately due to the earthquake off Taiwan. Oh, joy.


  1. Glad you made it back okay, shaken, not stirred. We came back from Pullman yesterday in a snowstorm and m didn't handle it very well. (she says)
    Love you and take care.

  2. Glad you made it back in one piece! I had 2 rough flights recently and we were strapped in the whole time, bouncing like crazy. Take care.