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Saturday, 27 August 2011


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Welcome home Mike.

We just made it out of New York ahead of the storm. It would have been terrible to have gotten stuck in the city - more great restaurants and swanky wine bars, more time in the ICP bookstore...terrible...

I don't fly, can you guess why?

"From My Window," by Mike Johnston. Were you using your Polaroid camera?

Yes, and the paperweight on the left reminds me of my late wife Elizabeth....


(P.S. Lest anyone be left in the dark here, Andre Kertesz made a famous monograph called "From My Window" at the end of his life, and many of the pictures featured a paperweight which had a certain graceful curve that reminded him of his late wife and lifetime love Elizabeth.)

Glad you got home eventually Mike and out of harms way of Irene. I remember 9 years ago my partner and myself visiting my friend in NJ your side of the pond, turning up at the airport to be told we didn't have a flight on the plane due to overbooking. Substantial financial compensation and a night all expenses paid at a 4-star hotel just outside the airport seemed to take the sting out of the situation. Was eventually a great holiday as well!

So where were you in Maine? You coudda stayed at my house near Portland head lighthouse, I've been in Acadia and Campobello for the last few days!

I used to dread Detroit airport almost as much as O'Hare, but I really like the new terminals in Detroit. If it wasn't for the security I might actually enjoy flying frm there.

Dear Mike,

Welcome back! Two questions:

1) Were you REALLY asked to turn off your digital camera?

I've always kinda wondered about that-- in principle it's one of the "electronic" devices they don't want operating during takeoff and approach. But in practice, I've never had anyone ask me to turn mine off. Have the airlines finally figured this out?

2) I thought we had an 800 pixel maximum dimension for photos in articles. How did you manage to post such large images?

pax / Ctein

Glad you missed Irene. Now, about that salmon...


You ever make your way around Casco Bay in Portland? The islands there are rather charming, especially Long Island. If you visit do so early or late to avoid the summer people, the regular islanders are very kind.

I should have thought of you Dale! But I ended up not having to stay in Portland overnight--just an afternoon waiting for the Boston bus to leave.

Someday we should do a visit, though.


" 1) Were you REALLY asked to turn off your digital camera?"

Yes indeedy, that quote is a real quote. Yet another reason for a quiet shutter, too--I could have gotten away with some more pictures except the stewardess might have heard the shutter from where she was sitting. She was giving me a bit of an evil eye as it was.


I have to admit I'd like to see the look on their face when I pull the battery out of the old F-1 ("here, hold this for me please?") and keep on shooting using the mechanically controlled shutter speeds.

Am I a bad person?

I'm confused - how can you have access to the 'net, but no email?

Glad you're back!

Before Detroit (Detoilet in airline lingo) built their new terminal I remember watching mice boldly scamper across the floor during the thanksgiving airport rush. The new terminal looks great. Too bad it's now Delta running DTW and not Northwest. Northwest's red tails made for good photos. Especially with snow on the ground.

"Milwaukee ("Sir, that device has a battery! You'll have to turn it off!")"

Time to play the 'look no battery' mechanical rangefinder card - also handy to have around in proximity to UFOs which emit Electro-Magnetic dampening fields ;-)

" 1) Were you REALLY asked to turn off your digital camera?"

I flew back from France to London yesterday, and had my phone in "Flight Mode" and was using it to take pictures. I too was asked to turn it off (about 20 minutes before landing), and when I said it was in flight mode was told that it was an electronic device and so had to be switched off.

I fantasised for a second about taking out both of my (electronic) hearing aids and then continuing the conversation with him, which from my side would have been mostly "What ? I am sorry I can't hear you at all. What ? I am sorry I can't hear a thing you are saying because I have had to switch off my hearing aids. SPEAK UP MAN."

It is nonsense and yet because it happens on aeroplanes, it is a nonsense that if argued against runs you the risk of being wrestled to the ground, handcuffed sent to Guantanamo and generally otsracised from polite society.


Re: (I had internet in Maine, but no email.)

Isn't that the same thing? Internet IS email isn't it?

You had to turn the camera off, and yet United and other airlines are already switching from paper charts and approach plates to iPads with electronic charts--which they don't turn off for approaches.

Penobscot - as I recall that was the name of Hot Lips' Houlihan's ever-absent husband in M*A*S*H, first name Donald. And your trip is a steal from the plot of Plains, Trains and Automobiles, by the late great John Hughes. Gotta hope you were playing the Steve Martin part. And being in Maine, you could have visited Crab Apple Cove, which was where Hawkeye came from... oh the weight of history.
Glad you made it through the tempest.

As it was explained to me once, a blanket precautionary ban on electronic devices (when approaching landing) does not just have to do with interference with the plane's systems. There's another more pragmatic issue: passengers notoriously get so preoccupied and absorbed footling around with such things - or travel "somewhere else" through the medium of headphones - that they will be oblivious to any necessary safety instructions; may not hear them. A book or newspaper seems to be considered less likely to monopolise the attention.

Boston and Maine. My old neighborhood. Sometimes I miss Maine. Poor Texas is roasted, dried out and parched. Suppose to be 108 today. Yes I miss Maine.

Then again ask me in Dec when it's still hitting 70 here. :)

As you mentioned about your "tired doggie" being by your bedside it reminded me to finally ask you about your dog's surgery and how it's all turned out?
Keith Trumbo

Thanks for asking. It seems to have all worked out fine. She is as close to normal as makes no difference; the recovery period was quite long (about 10-11 weeks), but it went well at every stage. Her scar, which was enormous, has now shrunk to invisibility, all her shaved hair on her lag has grown back, and she's running and jumping fine.

Last week we started playing "fetch" again, meaning she's putting full pressure on the leg while running. So far, so good: no signs that it's causing her discomfort or lameness later.

An interesting thing about this surgery: the left ACL had blown completely, so she was heavily favoring her left hind leg and putting additional strain on it, which was causing damage to her RIGHT ACL as well. The vet noted that once you fix one leg, you can, if need be, let the right ACL blow out completely as well. The dog will then limp for the rest of its life, but it will be able to function because, as the vet said, "a three-legged dog is fine; a two-legged dog is in serious trouble."

Additionally, the dog needs one good leg in order to recover from the surgery to the bad one. A dog with both ACL's blown has a much more difficult time recovering from TPLO surgery. It's a *lot* more work for the owner.

What this means in practice is that the first surgery is far more necessary than the second, assuming the other ACL will eventually go bad too. (It might not; it might heal, once the dog can put a normal amount of weight on the once-bad joint.)

All this isn't academic; the surgery costs $3,000, for a dog who was a rescue from a park. Some people naturally can't afford that much, and to do both legs is of course double the burden. People really do have to put their dogs down in some situations when the dog has one or two bad legs and they don't have the wherewithal to deal with it. Very fortunately, the problem coincided with possibly the first time in the past decade and a half when I could actually afford to pay for the surgery, so I'm grateful for that.

And not coincidentally, the total amount that TOP readers have donated to me with the "recurring donations" from the tip jar is just about exactly what the surgery cost. So I can really thank those generous TOP readers for all the healthy, happy years my dog has left (she's five now, soon to turn six).

"Internet IS email isn't it?"

Lazy Aussie and DerekL,
Not quite. I just bought the iPad right before I left, and didn't realize I needed to set up email from my home computer. I was easily able to access the web through my parents' wi-fi in Maine, but I didn't have the settings information for my email account (which is rather complicated, as my ISP is Yahoo but the email account I use is the old dot-mac service from Apple, which has migrated several times now).


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