Losing Time, Gaining Time

I spent fourteen hours on a plane yesterday, racing the dawn over the North Pole, getting from Dulles to Beijing. In my sleeplessness, I started thinking about how weird travel days are when you cross timezones. I lost almost a whole day, timewise, being in the air. A fourteen hour flight really took twenty-six hours off my calendar. I didn’t get to “live” that day, and on my personal calendar, it’s compressed to a tiny fraction of what it would have normally been. But, on the way home, I only “lose” an hour and forty-five minutes, so that day gets stretched out. It’s weird, and something only crazy people trapped in airplanes or pot smokers should think about.

But, since I was trapped on a plane for fourteen hours, I decided that I should keep a little diary of all the stuff I did on the plane. Here it is, minus bathroom trips and meals (they fed us twice):

  1. Read half of The Writing Life
  2. Watched Wizard People, Dear Reader version of Harry Potter
  3. Wrote a queue processor (it’s so freaking cool, I can’t believe I did it on a plane with no internet access and just my little Ruby pocket guide). This killed a good two or three hours.
  4. Listened to some CBC Radio 3 podcasts and Sunparlour Players
  5. Flew over the North Pole, but couldn’t see anything because there were clouds everywhere… total white out.
  6. Watched Ricky Gervais’ Politics stand-up special
  7. Watched The Amazing Screw-On Head (Mike Mignola series pilot about civil war robot secret agent. Yes, it’s awesome)
  8. Watched some Strongbad E-mails and Abigail’s Teen Diary
  9. Watched the first episode of The X-Files.
    • Love that they don’t wear seat belts, the smoking man really smokes in the office, and Scully has shoulder pads.
  10. Played with hbase. I got it running and created a table, but didn’t do much more than that.
  11. Worked on the blog’s admin interface.
    • Bummed that in Firefox I have to wrap HTML5 elements in order to style them. Bah, humbug.
  12. Stubbed out the blog main and entry page. Not how it’s going to stay.
  13. Played some Sudoku (Brain Age 2 on my DS Lite). I’m trying to go back and redo games where I made mistakes and get all my times on the Basic and Intermediate ones under ten minutes. I have no idea if those are good times or not…
  14. Finished The Writing Life. I love Annie Dillard. The Writing Life is a short little book, only 111 pages, but just like Holy the Firm, it’s dense, packed with lots of great quotes, thoughts on writing and life and some of the most beautiful prose you’re likely to ever read. I’m so glad I stumbled on Pilgrim at Tinker Creek last year.

Beijing is big, noisy and “hazy”. Today, it’s big, noisy and drizzling, so I don’t think I’ll be going out. Plus, meetings start soon and well, why go out when I can stay in and nerd it up with a bunch of… nerds?

I’m seriously jet-lagged. I did all that stuff above while pretty much everyone around me slept. I don’t get how people can go to sleep at one in the afternoon and sleep pretty much straight for fourteen hours, but almost everyone around me did just that. I was there, trying to be quiet, either reading, watching something or typing. I got my upgrade to first class, which made things much more comfortable. I highly recommend it.

It’s 8:30AM on Sunday morning. My internal clock is somewhere on a train between home and here. If you see it, please tell it to hurry up. I’d like to feel human again.

Categorized as travel

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. Cool list! For my flight to Beijing, I had my laptop batteries all charged up and shows pre-loaded for mucho viewing, eventually just ended up watching a bunch of stuff on an Archos player I have (Doctor Who, Stargate Atlantis, Hustle, etc.).
    Also had a chance to download and watch / listen to some podcasts that I’ve missed out on for ages (some way out of date):
    * Boing Boing TV
    * Classic ScobleShow
    * Cranky Geeks for the iPod Video
    * Diggnation (Small Quicktime)
    * GeekBrief.TV _ Video Podcast (iPod)
    * Jean Michel Jarre
    * Loaded from CNET TV
    * Mahalo Daily
    * MobLogic.tv » Video
    * Mobuzz TV_ Daily Buzz – iPod
    * Onion News Network (Video)
    * PodLeaders – Thought Leaders podcast
    * Rocketboom (QuickTime)
    * Scobleizer TV
    * Talking with Talis
    * TeXtra
    * the show with zefrank
    * The Web 2.0 Show
    * WebbAlert
    * Webnation w_ Amber Mac

  2. Kevin, they invented things like Ambien for flights like that! I can’t believe you stayed awake that long, especially in first class; don’t the seats turn into beds or something? And do they have a/c outlets, or did you take a horrendous number of batteries with you? Regardless, I’m SO jealous that you’re in Beijing 🙂

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