A Traveller's Notes

Having had to take an unanticipated flight to Europe this week, I thought I would pass on a couple of comments about changes in flying conditions after the recent change in security levels, as well as other observations. There really was not a whole lot of change in flying, provided you packed away all your "bathroom cabinet" types of products in your checked luggage. I did and, apart from a question about taking laptops on the plane (I could) had no problems with the flight. The gentleman in front of me, however, had all the domestic products he used set out in front of us, and (at his choice) relegated to a waste bin. The flight from the US to London was as full as usual at this time of year, and London as hectic, it seemed, as the airport always is.
Passing through town on my way North, there were fewer cars in the Center of the City, perhaps because it was a Bank Holiday, though Alan will be pleased to know that the Tube was as busy as ever - if not more so. The Rigger, who occasionally has to bring equipment into Central London, is talking of using a truck running on LPG, since this, I gather, does not have to pay the congestion charge which is the real reason for the cut the number of cars and other vehicles. It made it a lot easier to get around and enjoy.

From London I rode a packed train (even pre-rush hour) up to Nottingham, and the following morning (before dawn, which still comes early in these parts) was off, by car, up the A1. Even that early the left lane of the highway was filled with lorries (trucks) moving steadily North, though as the sun rose, so the number of cars increased.

We reached the land of the Prince Bishops early and so sat and walked a little on Waldridge Fell , overlooking the original Washington. Looking over the site of the mine - now undetectable -

that used to be there , the sky now has a line of wind turbines to the East as well as the couple to the West overlooking the original Washington. That far away they were not that noticeable, but closer up their presence is very evident. Maybe that is why there were none to be seen further south.

This morning there was a major headline and article in The Independent on the battle over Drax the largest European generator of electricity from coal. Naturally there is a considerable difference between the view of the plant and that of the protestors. As the family gathered I found that one of us, now renamed Winder, works in the renewable energy field, and our personal discussions today, mirrored in some way the row over the power plant. Somehow it seems that the advent of the TV series has created this idea that technology can solve technical problems in two weeks (for a three-part episode). This is completely unrealistic but yet, the protestors seem not to recognize that the 7% of the UK's electricity needs will have to be replaced with some other solution (which might include conservation - but even that will take time). Time to achieve a purpose is an ongoing part of our discussion here at TOD. If you need to drill 300 wells to meet a target, yet have only 100 rigs to do it, rather than the planned 120, you might still drill the wells and achieve the production, but it is going to take significantly longer time than originally planned to reach full production., with only partial production being reached within the anticipated time frame.

Another short break now - as we, her children, take a beloved blacksmith's lassie finally home, across the Roman Road, and up through Dumfries and Castle Douglas to the bend in the valley of the Ken.
(Note - this was written last Thursday and delayed due to lack of Internet facilities).

"...about taking laptops on the plane (I could)..."

So...how long do you give it before someone sneaks a laptop or PDA full of SEMTEX on board a plane?

A laptop full of Semtex looks very different on an x-ray from a laptop full of logic board, hard drive, and dvd drive.   They're also pretty full--there's not much room to squeeze explosives into a laptop without removing those bits.
The key is the battery, which appears as a big black uniform rectangle on the machine.

In reality, X-ray machines aren't terribly good at bombs - they're designed to get the outline of metal handguns and knives - specifically, the outline of the FAA/TSA test handguns + knives.  We're wide open to any kind of attack from an inventive terrorist group with access to explosives and a few lives to spare.  Making people turn on their computer + such is one shallow measure to alleviate that.

Lucky I am not a bad guy, but as a writer of Mysteries and other fiction.  Give a mind a few minutes and you can get about 8 ounces of semtex or other nasties into a laptop and on a plane, and I am sure it is still scary to those that know how to do it for the good guys to know the bad guys can do about the same thing.

Give them time, and the only way to fly will be naked and baggageless.  

Ramsi Yousef did it over ten years ago. He got off the plane before his bomb exploded, too.

I wouldn't worry about it. It's just random. You've got more of a chance getting smoked in a car accident.

They're not trying to kill you. They are trying to make you worry. Once you understand that, you win.

Did you get what I just said? Stop. Take long, smooth breaths. Now read what I wrote again.

Here. I'll give you another piece of advice. If you don't want to get killed by a stingray - don't go playing with crocodiles.

"You've got more of a chance getting smoked in a car accident."

No joke.  1,000 9/11's happen every year in this country and no one hardly blinks an eye.

I was about to agree with you and reinforce your sentiment, but I think the numbers would be a little off. You are saying, if I'm not mistaken 3 million. I thought it was more like 30,000. But I could be wrong. I wonder how many involve SUVs or motorcycles(especially the fast Japanese ones which are mainly toys). But you're right. Nobody blinks an eye. All part of business, I guess. Just "accidents."
Woops!  Got a little trigger happy, thanks for catching that...indeed it's only 10 9/11's per year.  But that's every year, pretty much like clockwork and no one seems to be like "oH MAH GAWD, the automobilses are gonna get me!"
Actually, the apologies are mine. I forgot they happen year in and year out. Excellent point. Imagine how much money, gasoline and lives would be saved by lowering speed limit to even 60. And enforcing it.

And I'll go out on a limb here. No productivity would be lost. You'd just have a better world. Or, at least, a better USA.

The gentleman in front of me, however, had all the domestic products he used set out in front of us, and (at his choice) relegated to a waste bin.

A note to you travelers:

If TSA pulls you out of line for a full carry-on inspection (as recently happened to me), make the TSA agent put on a new pair of gloves. Tell him: I do not allow you to touch my stuff until you put on clean new gloves.

The TSA agent probably used those same gloves to rub through someone else's toothbrush a few minutes ago and now he/she is going to do the same for  your personal items --with the very same gloves. It protects him. Who cares about you? So demand new gloves. It's your right to do so.

Welcome back, HO.

It was a bit exciting while you were gone.

Thanks for giving a response when it was needed, and I was not in a position to do anything.


My condolences, HO.

Informative and beautifully written article - I felt like I was there. That last part made me cry.

Thank you, she had a long and happy life and a peaceful end. She lives on in our hearts.
the problem on the Nottingham train is Virgin has doubled the number of first class carriages (to 4) and thus there are only 4 standard class carriages (not 6).

In the airline industry this is called 'yield management'.

Since the price of a first class ticket is more than twice the price of a second class, this means the second class is standing room only, and first class is those on expense accounts or who do not have their own businesses (as a small business owner, I can tell you you don't throw an extra £100 away on a morning train ticket).

By the way if you try to ride in first class with a standard class ticket the conductor is under orders to call British Transit Police, who will arrest you for fare evasion.

This is typical of the 'national rail strategy' forced on us by the Tories, which Labour has not been able or willing to tackle: ie balkanisation into privatised fiefdoms, each of which runs its own little monopoly.

Every time I see Richard Branson's face (founder of Virgin)  or hear about another Brian Souter (Chairman of Stagecoach, the co operator of Virgin Trains) campaign against homosexuals I get a very red angry feeling, thinking about fighting for a seat on the morning train to the Midlands.

Forget railways as a solution to Britain's transport problems-- the system is in such shape that it is barely holding together.

Welcome back.  It's always odd to have to go visit people after a loss, at least you can say what you did about the life they lead.