Airline Service

A comment and link near the end of Relist Watch on at SCOTUS blog reminded me of a time when I passed the candy “tray” to an airliner full of strangers.
My mother had been been born and grown up on the west coast of Florida. As my grandparents aged, she would vist them. The train would have taken too long so she flew. On one occasion, she took my older brother and me. It was a late night flight, leaving from Cleveland after supper and going to Tampa with a stop in Charlotte. The equipment was probably a DC-6 although I know that I also flew that trip on a Constellation. My mom was a good mom. She knew that small boys needed something to play with and something to read so we had books and a small case full of small toys, think “Matchbox” or “Hot Wheels” although I suspect they were way older since there were Zephyr style locomotives and airplanes from the 1930’s and cars and trucks to match.
Airliners were not pressurized then as today. Or if they were, the control was not as refined as many passengers suffered ear discomfort as the plane descended for landing. To help, the airline typically distributed chewing gum or hard candy as the airplane was about to begin descent for approach.
At that time, most airline cabin attendants were men. Then as now, they were there for safety (first) and secondarily, the comfort of the passengers. But the stewards must have been impressed with well-behaved boys about 5 or 6. They let my older brother and I pass out little rolls of 4 peppermint LifeSavers in silver foil and Navy blue paper wrappers, directly from the boxes they were packed in.
Yes it is true. You should never serve food (or eat food) directly from the package that it comes in. But if someone serves you, accept the service graciously. That is what my mom taught me.


Who? What? When? Why? Where? How? Those were the questions I was taught to ask on every doubt. I had the good luck to attend the only college with a basketball court size map of the 48 states of USA. I haven’t been back for years but I understand that the space has been re-purposed. Lacking the balcony view of the curve of earth (Who needs that now with Google Earth). And lights that light up (if they were working) of the selected cities on the switch boxes. At least the Babson Globe has been restored.
I was addicted to maps long before that and still. The INTERNET can provide.
Now (when it may be vital to establish jurisdiction) I discover that my (unnamed) INTERNET provider not only mis-locates me but makes my locus a place which differs from the center determined by measurement.
Potwin, KS may be a rounding error.
Eureka, KS may be a closer center.
If you don’t know what a theodolite is please check your reply a couple of times.

Attention Air Travelers!

I do not know about you but twice a year I go to the dentist office for a cleaning. ONCE per year they take an x-ray. The sign on the wall says “If your are pregnant or think you might be…”. I am a guy so the chances are extremely unlikely but I take it to mean that even that small amount of x-ray energy necessary to penetrate my teeth and expose a sensitive film (now an electronic detector) may cause harm to a fetus, even if I were wearing a lead apron. I suspect that the TSA will not provide a lead apron to any individual.
Oh, did I mention that instead of x-rays, you my be subjected to microwave energy. While you may have a microwave oven in your kitchen, it was specifically designed so that if any leakage could expose you to microwave energy, it would fail to operate. In the late ’60’s, an article in Popular Science claimed that allowable microwave dosages in the USA were 100 times those allowed the USSR. I admit: I have not followed up on the current regulations or research.
Or you can take the physical search.
You choose.

Forbidden Fruit II

I do not claim any understanding of Nelder-Mead or anything like it, also called a downhill method of finding a minimum for a system of equations, which, if you keep up with these things, may be old news. But consider the possibility of the inverse, nearing the summit realizing that whatever your strategy and method, the climb has led you up the wrong peak. Or more to the point, in the valley, you cannot realize or see that the adjacent (or some very distant) valley is lower but not chosen because the initial solution set off in the wrong direction. The desired goal is now distant. Maybe in Step n, there could be a global check for other minima. Or maybe this accomplishes that trick.

Portland Oregon Geologic Field Trip

While looking for information on “splines”, I stumbled over an interesting article in the Community Resources section of the Resources Tab for the Geology Department of Portland State University. The pdf file is a Self-guided tour of Portland, Oregon’s geology. This field trip provides an introduction to the geology of the Portland, Oregon, area. Five field trip stops, all accessible by public transportation and walks of easy to moderate difficulty, provide opportunities to see outcrops of Columbia River Basalt, Troutdale Formation, Boring volcanic field flow and vents, Portland Hills Silt, and a small landslide. I have never had a chance to visit the Northwest but might like to some day. This paper is an exciting chance to visit the neighborhood of Mt. St. Helens vicariously. And a way to spend a day or two out and about in the Portland area.

Also exciting is the description of the floods in the Portland area on 20-15 thousand years ago. Water levels 150m higher than current sea level! What short memories humans have. Maybe the geologists should buy the climatologists a cup of coffee and fill them in on life on earth.

Tennessee Travel

A friend at work loaned me the book that I am reading now.  A Geologic Trip Across Tennessee by Interstate 40 by Harry L. Moore.  This is part of the Outdoor Tennessee Series.    This book appears to still be available and if you are a travel, outdoor, hiking, geology, or history buff in the southeast, you might enjoy this book.  I happen to like geology and hiking.  While I am not fond of driving, I like to know the trerrain I am driving through.  If you are travelling through Tennessee and looking out the window, this book will give you a good idea of things to watch for in the landscape and as you look at the ground underneath you.

Seven Chinese Brothers

Heard this song from REM  on World Cafe.  Had a flashback to the the library hour when the librarian read Five Chinese Brothers, a similar  story, aloud to the gathered children including me. We read it to our kids.  Younger folk may have heard the Seven Chinese Brothers with watercolor illustrations.  If we recognize the talents of all of our neighbors and brothers, it will help us all to achieve our maximimum,


From various sources that I have seen, there was no coup in Honduras, rather an orderly execution of legal proceedings to enforce existing law. Honduras, having put up with dictators who cannot let go (Samoza family), put a clause in its Constitution that presidents serve 1 term. If the president tries to change the law, he is out. It is in the constitution. Former president Manuel Zelaya tried to have a referendum to change the law. When the referendum was was ruled unconstitutional, he was going to hold the vote anyway as a “non-binding” referendum. The Honduran Supreme Court ruled that the former president was trying to change the law and was therefore to be removed from office. He was removed. Previously scheduled presidential elections to follow.

The Obama administration seems kind of thick here. They lifted the visa of the Honduran Supreme Court Justice that signed the removal warrant along with the visas of a couple of others. President Obama may be on the wrong side of of the rule of law. Perhaps the President is getting bad advice from a poor lawyer on his staff. Perhaps that someone needs to be in private practice instead of messing up the hemisphere.

United Breaks Guitars

And has unfriendly service besides. I heard the song behind this video on All Things Considered. An e-mail newsletter from Flight Aware jogged my memory so here is the video.

The last time I flew United Airlines, I was flying to a job interview with them. I did not know whether I was being treated liked dirt because something on my ticket let them know I was flying to headquarters or I was just another passenger to be treated like all the others. Still, I would rather fly United than Delta or American.