Gargling, air crashes, and NewsMorphosis mini update

Just pulled into Narita on my way back from Beijing. We’d been parked in a holding pattern due to high winds (and experienced one of the most roller-coaster landings I’ve ever endured), which gave my bladder extra time to fill up and stretch. It’s the damn Diet Cokes that do it. Anyway, as I was in the bathroom, the guy standing next to me hawked up three big, noisy ones. This, I thought, was good preparation for my re-entry into Beijing. A quick glance at the man-bag and fashion choices suggested that he might be joining my on my connecting flight. Assuming that happens. We’re currently delayed at least an hour.

At any rate, the sudden hawk-a-thon brought to mind the many contrasts between China and Japan, including this sign, posted over a water fountain at Kansai Airport, in kind of near Osaka:

Refrain from gargling

This made me wonder, what happens if you do gargle there? A polite warning? A ticket? A beating? I wasn’t courageous enough to try.

Something else I noticed at Kansai: In the departure lounge they were playing the documentary show “Air-Crash Investigations” over the big LCD TVs. I’m not a nervous flyer, but this struck me as an odd choice of programming for an airport departure lounge. The topic was United 232 which, you may recall, ended in a fireball in Sioux City that was caught on video. They showed this video. I was reminded of the old Leslie Nielsen comedy “Airplane”, which is probably not what your average airport administrator wants to evoke. But, hey, maybe the Japanese are different. Gargling prohibited, air crash videos allowed. It takes all kinds.

In other news, the NewsMorphosis conference yesterday morning went well. I met some really cool people, including a bevy of Hawaii based entrepreneurs and journalists, TechCrunch writer Sarah Lacy, and Michael Freedman, the Executive Director of George Washington University’s Global Media Institute and a longtime CBS newsman. There was some great discussion. Sorry that I wasn’t in a position to live-tweet it or blog it. However there should be video available soon, and I’ll post a link or embedded video as soon as I can.

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6 Responses to Gargling, air crashes, and NewsMorphosis mini update

  1. Kai says:

    LoL, I’m imagining you staring at the “Air-Crash Investigations” show playingin the departure lounge and I’m laughing.

  2. Adam Minter says:

    I think we were probably circling each other … my Delta flight was kept in a holding pattern for so long that we were diverted to Nagoya for fuel. Two hours later, we did indeed land in one hell of a windstorm … I’ve never felt a plane list like that.

  3. Will says:

    We were orbiting over the ocean for a half hour before they brought us in (also Delta as it happens – I guess they own what was Northwest’s Japan hub). I had nightmares of blowing my connections in *both* directions on this trip. But they did let us land. It was amazing. I actually thought we might drag a wingtip on the landing, but I’m sure it felt worse than it was. We were in a 747. I wonder what the smaller planes felt like.

    They told us before our takeoff for Beijing (which was delayed an hour – sigh) that the first few minutes would be ugly, but it turned out to be no problem.

  4. Elyse says:

    Every once in awhile, when I’m actually able to get some sleep in cattle class when flying long hauls (and thus I wake up and am momentarily not quite sure where I am or where I’m headed), the sounds of a nearby passenger hawking up phlegm are always a reminder that you’re headed back to Beijing…

  5. You should have gargled Will, just for the fun of it. It would have been cool to see the robots malfunctioning.

  6. Shannon says:

    Big crosswind is fun in planes of any size, but nervous fliers should take comfort from two facts: 1) the plane has a lot less fuel than when you took off, so is a lot lighter and more maneuverable; and 2) the engines are at zero when you land (actually, they’re pretty much at zero from the time the pilot says “We’re now at the top of descent into [Airport Name]“), so they have 100% of their (massive) thrust available to “go around” if the pilot is anything but 100% sure that he or she will be able to land safely.

    And I assure you, as a sometime private pilot, that from any altitude down to and including “wheels touching” if the pilot makes the “go around” call, the plane will leap into the air (and safety) faster than anything you’ve ever experienced.