Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Why I Love Air Travel

    boarding pass
  1. Those horrid new suburbs reveal themselves as trivalent trees, their branching roads coiled to optimize the use of land.

  2. Is the check digit on my boarding pass determined mod 9 or mod 10?

  3. The altitude reveals the fractal nature of rivers but smooths the coastline. Although I didn't have words for it at the time, I always found this fascinating during childhood trips to Florida.

  4. The grids of planned westward expansion do battle with the curvature of the earth and the geographical features.

  5. Variations in the green of fields reveal the prior locations of streams and the long ago paths of glaciers.

  6. Carefully planned fields with circles of irrigation or other strict use of geometry -- someone optimized the output of the land.

  7. At night, population centers glow like a nervous system. The main city is like a brain while the suburban commercial areas are like ganglia. Parking lots and planned empty spaces glow yellow with sodium lamps. Houses are incandescent white.

  8. All those rivets holding the plane together. Before the plane was built someone decided how many there would be and where they would all be located. Same for all the wires in the electrical system.

  9. How would I design the commercial air system? Would I use the hub and spoke model? Under the current model, how do they determine the opitmal schedule?

  10. When weather or bad luck intervenes, throwing off the schedule, how do they decide how to adapt? Some flights are cancelled for obvious problems observed at the gate and the gate agents act as individuals rerouting passengers from that flight. But how is the cascade dealt with? Does it all work out on an ad hoc basis or is there a system in place? Many years ago I read an article about airline owned computers called "The Hub Slasher" and "The Cancellator."

  11. What's the longest word you can create from the letters in: CONCOURSE G. (So far my best has eight letters.)