Saturday, February 19, 2005

East to West

Toronto, Pearson Airport, local time, 3:41 pm

I just finished a substandard chicken burger with fries of equal quality. It is nearly six hours since I left the apartment in Halifax. It was a nice drive to the airport, both because of the weather and the price (my roommate drove me). I find the Halifax airport quite quaint. As much as I occasionally slag on the city of Halifax, I do like the lack of complexity of various things from time to time.

Once again, I waited until the line was almost empty before boarding the plane. I realized there isn’t much point spending time sitting on a plane, which I’ll be doing for the next while, when I can move around and feel less constrained. Cramped seats as usual, but hey, it’s still flight. Whenever I travel I can’t help but feel everyone is not nearly as impressed as they should be. I loved the take-off, as usual, eating an apple to help reduce the pressure in/on my ears. I started to read Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine, but didn’t get through the interesting introduction by Richard Dawkins because my ‘single-serving’ friend beside me started chatting. He was about 50, a daughter is in university and another is starting. He works in packaging. An example would be the plastic that wraps the six-pack of beer. He has travelled a lot and likes his job. I couldn’t help but think how much I dislike sales, but that I’m happy someone likes doing it. Of course, that depends on what they are selling and how they are selling it. If it is something that is actually used and has worth, then I’m happy someone else likes being involved in the organization of selling and distribution of packing products. Anyway, it was nice chat, more interesting for me to hypothesize how his lexical access and production were occurring than much of the content… but whatever works I guess. I also felt that I had so many interesting things to tell him, but that it wasn’t going to happen. First, because maybe they wouldn’t be at all interesting to him; second, because the bridge between normal conversation and that of science, philosophy, culture…etc is not a small one. Such is social protocol. After going to the bathroom near the end of the flight I was pleased with the thought that it wasn’t just the plane travelling at ~700km/h, I was too! Just imagine that! Picture, 150 years ago, going up to Charles Darwin or John Stuart Mill, and saying, “In my lifetime I’ll be travelling faster 700km/h. So will numerous other… but they won’t care.” I would think they would be stunned (but probably not by the last part if they could comprehend the first). The landing was a little rocky but it was nice to be back in Toronto, if only to transfer planes.

I would have to say that the most interesting part of the trip thus far would be the process of connecting for the flight to San Francisco. Just by going through US customs and their security I felt like I was in a different world. I realize there may be great anticipatory factors and schemes of “United States of Hegemony, Hypocrisy…etc” but things actually are more strict. They checked my bag, but happily I got to keep my shoes on. I looked out the window and saw the CN tower and actually had the thought “Hey, you’re actually in Canada.” It felt a little like a US embassy might, where it is US soil. Beliefs are powerful entities. Maybe soon I’ll have a chance to read about their transfer in the book.
Gotta go see a plane about making me fly.

Toronto to San Francisco – written on Saturday, 11:56 local time, Saira's kitchen

I read a bit of The Meme Machine while waiting to board, went through that process again, someone was sitting in my seat (18D), in the aisle, third from the window, but no worries. The man before in the ‘waiting to get to out seats line’ was informing someone that there were in the wrong seat. I noticed the woman in my seat showed a little concern. I then heard the woman in 18F (the window) say, “I know where I’m sitting” or something like that, in an unkind manner. I inferred that she was responding to a question from the woman in my seat. Ah, people, their egos and misunderstandings.

Anyway, to make the end of this story arrive sooner, I’ll say that the flight was good. I was a tired and very worried about being uncomfortable and just having a bad time. Due to some reading, some food, the entertaining but tritish Ladder 49 and talking with the nice lady who was in my seat, but now next to me, the flight was bearable. The best part was that she was interesting in hearing me talk about consciousness, philosophy and some perspectives on the world. Always a good time. :) It was what I was seeking in my last travel friend, but now reified. It was wonderfully absorbing, so much so that I didn’t really have the countdown to arrival in my head because of the chat.

It is always interesting landing in a new place. I felt this when I went to Japan. The sign says I’m in San Francisco, and I did take a plane for awhile… but I could be anywhere. Of course, my friend came and picked me up (as well as numerous other clues) so the conspiracy theory seems less and less plausible. Yet probably still tantalizing some poor information processor.

I’ll end with by saying that there was a joyous reunion with much delight and warm hugs. I've missed Saira.


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