Tag Archives: flying

Airplane, leaving me to my own devices

I started writing this on an airplane about to take off. In the time between my outbound flight and return trip, United took advantage of new FCC rules to draft a new policy allowing passengers to continue using (if I can remember the phrasing) “lightweight personal electronic devices set in non-transmit mode.”

I did have to stop as a matter of practicality during the takeoff itself, and being in a window seat I spent a lot of the next few minutes staring out the window.

Something I found interesting on the way up is how similar open space and water look at night from far enough up when you’re near a city, especially if the city just stops…especially at a natural boundary like a range of hills. In both cases you have a brightly lit region next to completely dark area. It’s only when you can identify patterns like docks, or roads through the empty space, or occasional lighted areas (though they could be boats) that you can really tell.

If you’re low enough, you can sometimes see the reflections of lights in the water. That made for an interesting illusion on the flight in. I’m not sure which bridge it was across the San Francisco bay, but it’s lit by regularly spaced white lights underneath the roadway. For some reason it looked like the lights were moving along the bridge as I flew past it, like the pulses in  a Mac progress bar.

Something else that struck me: most areas along the California coast, seen at night, appear as darkness with islands of light. Greater Los Angeles is light with islands of darkness.

No wonder I can hardly see any stars these days.