The Times Dodges My Cancellation Bullet Again

I get the Times delivered at home. I’ve thought about canceling. It’s not cheap. It is a luxury–I recognize that. I can get it all online and faster.

nytlogo379x64.gifI am slutty for The New York Times. I can’t say whether it’s gotten better or worse with time. Today it’s the finest newspaper in the United States. No one comes close.

The writing is pretty good and no one matches the breadth or depth of coverage. Their reporter’s byline is on a story I’m reading about troubles at Petrobras, Brazil’s oil company. The story is datelined “Rio De Janeiro.”

I get the Times delivered at home. I’ve thought about canceling. It’s not cheap. It is a luxury–I recognize that. I can get it all online and faster.

The Brazil story is part of the reason I stay.

Online you find stories based on your interest. In print you often stumble upon stories by accident because you’re limited to exploring the paper in a linear fashion, page-by-page.

Print will die some day. When it does those paper induced accidental finds will disappear. Sad.

The Devil at 37,000 Feet

Amazingly, the very instruments that should make flying safer brought these two planes to the same point in the sky with an accuracy no human could achieve.

legacy-600.jpgBack in September 2006 I read about an air crash between a Brazilian 737 and an Embraer Legacy 600–an American registered business jet. It happened at 37,000 over the jungles of Northern Brazil. The 737 spiraled to the ground killing all aboard while the biz jet landed safely.

What made the story more interesting was the presence of Joe Sharkey, who writes about travel and aviation for the New York Times and ended up writing about the crash. And then I forgot about it.

I’ve just read a more detailed account of what actually happened in Vanity Fair. This is a long article, but if you have any interest in aviation it’s a must read.

Amazingly, the very instruments that should make flying safer brought these two planes to the same point in the sky with an accuracy no human could achieve.

Look, Up In The Sky

Since watching the video today, I’ve been reading as much as I could about the Russian rocket that burned up over the Rocky Mountain States, Thursday.

The beautiful video came from a Denver TV station’s helicopter starting its early morning run aloft. Lucky catch, and well done.

What you see burning up in the atmosphere, the rocket, had only been up since last Wednesday. That doesn’t seem very long.

NORAD says they tracked it all the way. Hey, guys, thanks for the heads up – not!

This rocket was part of the launch vehicle for a French satellite, COROT. Very international – French satellite with six international partners: the European Space Agency (Esa), Austria, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Brazil, launched on a Russian rocket in Kazakhstan. But that’s not the interesting part.

COROT will look for planets, hospitable to life, outside our solar system. There’s a practical idea! What didn’t get funded so this could?

These planets, hopefully around Earth-sized, are too far away to see. We can, however, detect their shadows across the stars they orbit. This is beyond geeky.

I’m sure in the long run, there’s important scientific knowledge to be discerned, but if we find a nice place, it will be much too far to visit. Imagine, a journey taking entire generations. The distant ancestors of the people who decided to go would be the passengers upon arrival.

Not gonna happen.

Someday, COROT too will fall to Earth. Probably a whole less spectacular then.

The Trip Continues

Getting to Philadelphia was no problem. It was leaving that seemed to be the sticking point.

I had a long layover in Philadelphia – over an hour and a half. The Embraer Regional Jet to Atlanta was in on time. We boarded on time. And then the announcement.

The pilot came on from the cockpit to tell us thunderstorms around Atlanta were going hold us up. It would be an hour until he found out when we’d be!” And, since the gate was needed for another plane, he’d drive to a quiet spot for us to wait.

I’d like to tell you the passengers protested, or the wait was interminable or some other tragic story of passenger pain, but it wasn’t that bad. We left Philadelphia about an hour and a half late.

I actually found the plane, an ERJ170, reasonably comfortable. Just like the Dash-8 I took from New Haven to Philadelphia, this plane had plenty of legroom in narrow seats. The interior was spartan and somehow European. The interior actually reminded me of a Fokker-100.&#185

Is it just me or is it weird to be on an airplane designed and built in Brazil?

The trip to Atlanta was bumpy, but uneventful. Getting off in Atlanta was another story. The terminal looked like a mall on the weekend before Christmas. It was jammed – as busy as any airline terminal I had ever visited.

Helaine had found a great deal for a medium size car from Avis. That ended up being a Chevy Malibu. It is possible there is a car that has less style, but I doubt it. It looks like it was designed and built with absolutely no anticipation anyone would actually want to own one. They were right.

My hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn – Perimeter in one of the many exurbs that ring Atlanta. This is actually a fairly nice hotel and a good value. And, along with everything else, there’s free high speed Internet service (though not enough signal at the desk in this room to use it from there).

This evening (a late evening) I joined Mark and Annie, both of whom I worked with at Channel 8, for dinner. I left it up to them and we went to Ted’s… owned by Ted Turner and featuring Bison meat!

We all had Bison burgers, which were very good. I also had New England clam chowder (could have been warmer and larger, but it was very tasty). This being Atlanta, Coca Cola’s world headquarters, I broke down and had a Coke, which was served from the glass bottle.

Next stop was CNN, where Mark and Annie now work. This is interesting because there are familiar views in the CNN Center that I’ve seen for years.

Visiting CNN at night, there were no on-air types to be seen. Most of their nighttime programming is from New York or Los Angeles (Larry King).

Actually, that gave me more of an opportunity to look around. Their newsroom, directly behind the news set, may be the most photogenic TV space I’ve ever been in.

Busy day. I’m going to bed.

&#185 – The Fokker 100 is a small, though older, regional jet. USAir used to fly them to Buffalo. They were quite comfortable, except for the low ceilings. They were low enough that I once asked a flight attendant if her assignment in this particular model was penance for something she had done?


The unnamed, South Atlantic hurricane did come onshore last night. Unfortunately, what the American hurricane experts said was right and what Brazilian meteorologists said was wrong.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – A whirling storm battered the coast of southern Brazil on Sunday, killing two people, injuring at least 39 others and destroying hundreds of homes, civil defense officials said Sunday.

American meteorologists said winds exceeded 74 mph, making the storm the first hurricane on record in the South Atlantic. Brazilian scientists originally disagreed, but on Sunday they acknowledged the winds could have been as high as 94 mph _ well above hurricane strength.

As I said yesterday, I was rooting for the Brazilians to be right. This is why!

What Are They Thinking In Brazil?

The only hurricane ever seen in the South Atlantic continues to move toward the East Coast. The National Weather Service Hurricane Center, here in the states, says it is a minimal hurricane with top winds over 75 mph. That poses a threat for Brazil’s coast.

On the other hand, the Brazilian meteorological experts say, “no it’s not.”

Here’s what the AP reported late Saturday, starting with a quote from Meteorologist Dr. Gustavo Escobar of the Brazilian Center for Weather Prediction and Climatic Studies:

“Winds and rains will not be significant, so we don’t need to alarm the population,” Escobar said by telephone.

Winds in nearby Florianopolis, a city of 700,000, were only about 12 mph, rainfall was mild, and no damage was reported, said meteorologist Kelen Andrade.

Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said the eye of the storm was near 29 degrees south latitude and 48 degrees west longitude by Saturday evening. That would place it about 50 miles east of the city of Laguna.

“To us, it has all the satellite appearance and intensity of a hurricane,” Beven said. “I don’t know what data they’re looking at. They may have data services locally that don’t go out on the national data service.”

He said no agency is sending out regular hurricane advisories on the storm.

“Down there, this is such a rare and unique event. The whole situation is strange,” Beven said. “We’re trying to help out, but because of the uniqueness of this event, it may be out of their expertise to some degree.”

Normally, here in the states, a storm this size causes little or no damage. But, we’re building to a higher standard, especially in hurricane prone areas, than Brazil. Brazil is a country with absolutely no experience in this regard.

I’m hoping Dr. Escobar is right. I’m afraid Jack Beven knows better.