Across the Atlantic... on half a battery
[I’ve had several essays partially or completely written for a while now, some as much as a month, but I’ve managed to convince myself that I’m not as good, nor as funny, a writer as I’d believed, and so it’s been hard to put the finishing touches on and actually post any of them. Nevertheless, this one (it’s actually one of two that were previously one longer essay) has been sitting awaiting posting since Jan. 13, and good or ill, I owe it two the two people who have joined the mailing list since that time to actually post SOMETHING. So here goes.
It details the final days, including the trip home and airline travails, of my most recent trip to Gent, Belgium. One of the other essays which is less complete details earlier in the week, but if I wait until I actually finish that one to post any of these, it may be quite a long time yet. – Liam]
Before I start this week’s essay, I should apologize if I have to finish this later. I’m on the airline flight heading back to the U.S. and have had a bit of trouble getting my laptop to work. I first pulled out the laptop from overhead storage about 45 minutes ago. I opened the overhead container, moved my jacket, got down three other suitcases, so that I was able to get to my laptop which had worked its way further back into the compartment than I had thought possible, kind of like when you look for the registration in your car’s glove box and find yourself buried up to your shoulder and scrabbling with your fingers trying to grasp that sucker, taunting you from just out of reach.
So, of course, you’ll understand why I was a little bit miffed to turn on my computer and find out that it had not shut itself down properly. Understand that my laptop grasps tenaciously to its life like a drowning man with some random flotsam, but less likely to attract sharks. Sometimes I’ll open the laptop in prep for booting it up, only to find it already on and laughing at me. “You can’t kill me,” it’s saying, “you can’t even slow me down.”
But of course, it’s all false bravado, because if the cord is not plugged into the wall, that defiant attitude only lasts for about 3 hours and then, like my children on New Years Eve, no matter how late it swears its going to stay up, it finds itself unable to keep its eyes open and then it’s out like a light.
My laptop battery was dead. So I spent 10 minutes wedging it back into the laptop case, overstuffed with all of the things I didn’t wish to check, such as several books (which I won’t read during the flight), my DVD and MP3 players (which I won’t watch or listen to), a large box of chocolates for my wife (which I won’t be eating) and about seven miles of random cabling, much of which I never actually use but have to carry with me or the laptop police will confiscate my machine and I’ll be charged with computer neglect. I get it all packed away, get down the three suitcases, wedge my laptop back up in there behind everything, put away the suitcases, close the compartment and start working my way into the seat… only then to notice the outlet, right there in the armrest. I kid you not. The flight attendant assures me it will work.
So it’s back out to the aisle, past the three suitcases again, get the laptop, put the suitcases back, get the laptop out of the case, find the power cable, untangle it from the headphones of my MP3 player, the network cable and an eel that has somehow managed to find its way in there, and finally get the laptop plugged into the power outlet. Unnoticed by me, the green light goes red. The laptop will not boot. Done in again by my compulsive need for the biggest and best laptop, apparently my own personal laptop consumes electricity at a rate that requires its own dedicated nuclear power station, and the average “Business Class” power outlet will at most power one of those “3 cents per month” nightlights, if you only turn it on to half brightness. And so, of course, it’s wedge, stuff, zip, grab three suitcases, stow, return suitcases, start to close overhead bin… and remember that I generally carry a secondary laptop battery.
There are certain words which are not supposed to be uttered in public. The child in the seat behind me learned most of them. Unpack it all again, and thus am I typing this essay on a backup battery that hasn’t been charged in months. I’m amazed it has power. I’m saving frequently.
I mention all of that to you, so that you understand how much I go through just to bring you these mediocre essays filled with stale jokes and an odd odor which I’ve not been able to track down, but probably means I left a sandwich at the bottom of my laptop bag again. All so that I can tell you about Amsterdam. Or, for the benefit of the child repeatedly kicking my seat back, Amsterdarn, which I will get to next week.
Or the week after. Or more likely, sometime after my next trip to Belgium, during which I will be taking the prudent fiscal step of flying to Brussels instead of Amsterdam, because (this is true), it’s $200 cheaper.
Why do I mention this? Because I’ll be flying on the same airline, out of the same airport of origin, and the way to get to Brussels is (I swear I am not making this up) to take the very same flight to Amsterdam and then take another plane to connect to Brussels. Really. I’m thinking of scheduling several extra round-trips between Amsterdam and Brussels during my time there. I figure if they’re essentially willing to pay me $200 to take this Amsterdam to Brussels flight, if I do one round trip each night after work, I should be able to pay for my entire trip.
And maybe even buy another spare laptop battery, this one i…
Copyright © January 13, 2007 and February 28, 2007 by Liam Johnson. http://liam-humor.blogspot.com