Jim Letourneau's Blog

Investing, Technology, Travel, Geology, Music, Golf. I think that covers it.

Calgary to Tokyo

I pack better than I used to. Under 40lbs for two weeks. I still don't finish packing until about an hour before the start of the journey. I even toyed with using carry on only but I try to be in sync with my wife. She knows that she can usually negotiate an option on 10-20% of my bag. I will sigh and roll my eyes but she's a wicked negotiator and I like to go with the flow. Neither of us want a dreaded airport check-in repack on the floor in front of a long line of passengers. I did pack a pair of hiking boots and a pair of blue jeans that I could do without.  I was zippers closed at 10:25AM because we agreed that we should leave the condo at 10:30AM.

Taxis in Calgary have really upped their game. Yellow Taxi has an app. If you call them on your landline they'll automatically recognize your address and ask if that is where you want to be picked up. They also give you an approximate ETA. They're also supporting a local charity that is plastered all over their cars. Uber has got their attention. I hope our taxi driver will be allowed the freedom to choose which business model he participates in.

Not many people who fly business class will blog about it. It would hurt their brand. It is not a "man of the people experience". The business check-in line must have had 6 people ahead of us. The economy class line was shorter! A temporary breakdown in the class system.

We backed out of the line and asked for assistance we were whisked away to a small office with 3 desks where they rapidly checked us in. I was expecting sighs and eye rolling but they were fast and friendly. I think we had a brief taste of what the Super Elite travellers take for granted.

We also have Nexus cards which got us into a security station with no one in front of us. It is worth the mild inconvenience to get a Nexus card. The single most useful piece of advice I have for travellers is get a Nexus card.

I'm a happy pod person on this trip. The front of the plane is a wonderland of comforts. The seats recline and offer a massage option. I had a great time trying all the buttons out. Food and wine and snacks are generously offered. My wife is also happy.

 Julia catching up on her reading.

Julia catching up on her reading.

I opt for the Japanese meal and receive a wonderful array of appetizers with at least 20 different ingredients (mushrooms, flavoured gelatin, tofu, shrimp with grapefruit, tuna, tiny cubes of pork?). If something is foul tasting it will only be a small morsel. The highlight for me was two thin strips of lightly pickled carrot that were perfectly tied together in a reef knot (the only knot I remember from Boy Scouts).

Micro veggie fly tying. Who thought of this? 

 Micro carrot sticks tied together by a reef knot. Chopstick holder for scale.

Micro carrot sticks tied together by a reef knot. Chopstick holder for scale.

Unfortunately, a boozy seemingly consequence free lunch near Calgary is the equivalent of getting tipsy at 7:00AM in Japan. I'm not against day drinking but I find it effortless to avoid alcohol in the 3AM-11AM time slot. I start my nap before they dim the cabin lights. I wake up groggy with a mild headache. Suddenly it's 9:00AM Friday morning (in Japan). Time for coffee and water and a trip to a bathroom that has a window in it! I see a glacier below.

My Spotify synchronization to my iPad was not a success. I don't know why. My guess is I tried to download too many songs at once. However there's plenty of content on my iPad including a list of juicy magazines on Texture. I really enjoy reading on airplanes.

We are flying near Amchitka. When I was 8 years old I remember seeing protest signs in Edmonton about stopping Amchitka. I could barely pronounce it. I didn't know where it was. Once I learned about nuclear testing I was all for stopping Amchitka. Yesterday I saw an interesting headline 7 Nuclear Test Sites You Can Visit Today. All that worrying for nothing. Wait, aren't we flying over Russian airspace?

Later I read a disaster porn New Yorker article about how the Alaskan Inupiat way of life is being threatened by climate change (warming). I choose to ignore the doomsayers. Will the glaciers come back? Most likely, and soon according to most geologists. "Soon" on the geologic time scale could be a few thousand years. It is currently fashionable to imagine what the world will be like when the glaciers are all gone. The other side of the coin is that most geologists believe that many northern cities were covered by a mile of ice during the last ice age and we're due for another one to start "soon". It cuts both ways.