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Showing posts from April, 2005

diesel and dust

Image
Random images from the last, lessee, 18 hours: 0400. (German time, GMT+1). Stepping out of a van onto the Frankfurt runway. The looming C-17, its high wings oddly twisted, looks enormous against the night. The interior is an enormous tubular cave, its ceiling covered by wires, duct tubing, crawl spaces and access platforms, the metal walls full of racks of odd tools, anchors, buttons, controls, nooks, crannies. The only windows are a few tiny portholes. The floor is all rollers, on which pallets averaging twenty cubic feet are stacked and secured by a mesh of seat-beltlike straps. It's hard to tell exactly what most of the cargo is. Passenger seats line the walls. Most of them are blocked by cargo, but there are enough free for tonight's four passengers. We listen to the lecture about our oxygen masks, life jackets, and fireproof breathing hood. I strap myself into a seat beneath an axe. The axe is mounted next to a sign that says 'FOR EMERGENCY EXIT CUT HERE'. To

a pea rolled off the table, and killed a friend of mine

Quote of the day, from a taxi driver: "Anything is normal in Germany." This explains much. What I never appreciated about the military before is that once inside its protective shield, once you wave your magic ID card, all manner of things are provided for you. Some things are free (snacks, coffee, Internet, some transport, some accomodations, the gym) and the rest highly subsidized (nearby hotels, phone cards, everything in the base's restaurants and well-stocked shops). It's downright communist . In a "from each according to his orders, to each according to his rank" kind of way. No local laundromat though. Right now that is my most compelling need. I'm sure you're fascinated. I feel kind of redundant blogging the space-a experience, what with a friend of mine having already written about it compellingly , but what the hell else am I going to talk about, right? Also, the AMC space-a passenger-service people seem to have gotten their act toget

Hurry up and wait

Outside a heavy rain falls on Germany. Let's hope it's not pathetic fallacy. I suspect I'll be typing at you a lot over the next few days, out of sheer boredom. But you never know; the gods of space-a may smile on me; I may be en route in the near future. I almost gave you a time there, but you know, security. (Kidding. Mostly.) Frankfurt Airport was cavernous, gleamingly clean, ghostly quiet. I guess Monday afternoons are not a thriving time. After some of what I expect I will grow to call "the usual military confusion" I hopped a bus to Rhein-Main AFB, on the other side of the shared runway. Taxiing after touchdown, I saw it to our left: a grid of huge bulbous cargo planes perched on the tarmac, all dull gray, opposite the sleek bright-logo jets across the way. What's most noticeable about my time so far in the military world - one hour - is how unmilitary it seems. If it wasn't for all the guys in uniform this could almost be a slightly down-at-heel
A reminder: the mass-market paperback of DARK PLACES hits Canadian bookstores on May 4th (which, appropiately, is also my sister's birthday.) I'm pleased to announce that I've come to an agreement with DTV re the German translation of BLOOD PRICE, which should go on sale in Germany sometime in 2006. Oh, and the UK paperback release for BLOOD PRICE has been moved up to October of this year.

winged beasts of procrastination

Airlines I Have Flown with destinations and amusing anecdotes, if any Spurred by the realization that I've somehow never flown Lufthansa. Aero Continente: Lima-Iquitos, Iquitos-Lima, Lima-Cuzco. Run by a notorious drug dealer and officially declared unsafe to fly by the USA. Air Canada: Bazillions of trillions of times. Have gone seriously downhill. Air China: Bangkok-Taiwan-SF. Only time I've had five seats to myself. And thank God for that, it was a transpacific flight and I was in rough shape. I forgave them the four-hour delay in the wee hours in Taiwan's airport where I was forced to reread Crichton's Timeline . Air France: Toronto-Paris-Toronto, back in '87. Air India: London-Delhi-Bangkok. Shabby but serviceable. Air New Zealand: LAX-Auckland-Sydney and back. Excellent. Air Niugini: Cairns-Port Moresby-Mt Hagen and back. Not bad by Third World standards. Mt Hagen was raked by a freak lightning storm as we approached, so we had to abort the first landing w