20 July 2006

Sweet Jesus, I need a job

I can't make this stuff up.  Yesterday (Wednesday), was one of those days where I just didn't have it.  I had no desire to do a damn thing.  So I didn't.  I just existed in the realm of my own protoplasm and wasted a day.  And yet, I won't forget it for quite a while.

I'm trying to think of a way to describe the process that I put upon myself every once in a while, where I go off onto different tangents that somehow piece themselves together at the end.  On days like yesterday, I tend to wander around the Internet a lot.  And yesterday, I ended up here, reading about a guy who appreciates mechanical airplane delays (he makes a good point).  While reading this, I got distracted by his reference to other airline crashes, and found myself wandering over to Wikipedia, where I read the details of some spectacular aviation disasters.

Why?  Well, mostly because I find it fascinating.  I know and understand the physics of air travel, but that doesn't mean I am not blown away by the fact that it exists.  I fly a few times per year on average, and every time I am in the air, I spend the flight wondering how this is possible.  I'm not afraid to fly at all, but I am amazed that more accidents like United 232 don't occur more often.

(And it was only later in the day, when I was reading the paper, did I see that July 19th was the 17th anniversary of that accident.  Sure, it's no Ethel Rosenberg moment, but still.)

Then I wandered over to the details about JAL 123.  I remember that I was asleep with the television on when the news of this crash broke.  I thought I had dreamt it until I saw it on the news later that evening.  And since this entry referenced Tenerife, I had to go over and read about that as well.  How is this for obscurity: I recall being bored out of mind on a crappy weather day, watching a basketball game between the Kansas City Kings and another team that I (horrors!) cannot remember, when news of this disaster broke. 

So I spent more than an hour reading about horrifying airplane disasters, and I was left even further amazed about flight.  And then I was done, and I thought my aviation session was over for the day.

Oh, little did I know.

Remember, it was one of those days.  So around one in the afternoon, I started wandering through the television offerings.  On our cable system, IFC is channel 503, and Sundance is 505.  I tend to gravitate to these channels.  Most of the time, I will just scroll up to 505 from 503, which means that I pass 504 as well.

504 is a worthless channel.  For reasons that will soon be obvious, I will refrain calling it by name.  Let's just say that it is a movie channel, and that this movie channel starts with "L", ends with "E", and has a "IFETIM" in the middle.  As I went from IFC to Sundance, I noticed that the channel that shall have no name was starting a feature entitled "Panic in the Skies!" According to the listing, the movie was made for tv and was first shown in 1996.  I had never heard of it before.  At the beginning of the movie, a 747, loaded to the gills with people in non-aviation related crisis, takes off from New York to London.  Within seconds, the plane is hit by lightning.  The cockpit takes a direct hit, and the pilots are ejected from the plane (I think-there is never any explanation to this.  They were either tossed out or became piles of ash).

No pilots seconds after takeoff.  You'd think the plane would crash, but that would make for one short film.  Lucky for the folks on board, this appears to be the only plane around that engages the auto pilot immediately upon takeoff.

I'm not going to run down the plot of this movie.  Suffice to say that is was bad, so bad, and I could not look away.  A bevy of B-list talent (Kate Jackson!  The woman who played Marcia Brady!  Ed Marinaro! The guy who played Benson!  Erik Estrada! The obligatory-pregnant-woman-traveling-alone!) finds itself at the mercy of an autopilot that searches for any airport that it can land at.

Smack dab in the middle of the movie, the autopilot "recognizes" an airport and starts to take the jumbo jet on final approach, to the horror of the FAA, who realize that the airport is way too tiny to land a 747 at.  We're told that this airport is at a place called "Farmington" which is "just outside Chicago." 

I've lived "just outside Chicago" for the past 39 years.  Never heard of Farmington.  But I digress.  Back to the gripping action-the plane is shown on final approach to Farmington, and it is a beautiful shot.  The snow-capped mountain in the background really brings out the beauty of Chicago.

It was here that I became aware that no one fact-checked this "movie."  Certainly, I should have come to this conclusion much earlier, like say, ten seconds into the flight.  And it was also at this point that I realized that if I was going to watch the rest of this thing, I better be doing something menial as well, so I cleaned the kitchen.

It's just bizarre to me that I would spend time in the morning reading about actual airplane disasters and then be treated to such a ridiculous presentation a few hours later.  This is what it is like being me.  Enjoy.

And for the love of God, someone tell me what the name of that big mountain is that sits "just outside Chicago."  I have to know.



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