Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Zealand 2010: Aftermath

Jet Lag

All my travelling life, I’ve never had much issue with jetlag.  Back and forth across the United States has only been a problem when I’ve had to be up for something early on the East Coast.  (Last summer in Washington DC, I was on the hook to teach an 8:00 am line dance workshop.  That’s 5:00 am West Coast time.  I don’t get up at 4:30 am for anything other than 7:30 am flights, and then I only have to be barely conscious.)  Even the recent trips to Europe were doable, adjusting in a couple days.

New Zealand is 20 hours ahead, or 4 hours behind, and only 3 hours behind since they are on Daylight Savings Time right now.  In theory, that should be no worse that East Coast to West Coast travel, but I’ve had a bitch of a time getting back in synch with Pacific time.  The first couple nights home, my sleep patterns were wonked, and I’ve still been having odd sleepiness for a week since returning.  Much worse than I expected.


Especially in the mid-size cities (Rotorua, Taupo), traffic lights were not very common.  Large intersections were dominated by roundabouts, instead.  (And here I mean the large roundabouts which serve to actually direct traffic, as opposed to the small ones we get at some regular street intersections in Seattle or the ones with several traffic lights all around them like Logan Circle in Washington DC.  Those only serve to slow traffic down to a crawl; hates them, we does.)  For the New Zealand roundabouts, you slow as you approach the entrance, look right (for incoming traffic), and then enter, go around, and exit… without stopping at all in many cases.  Traffic flows right on through.

They have put some of these in here in Washington in Snohomish and Kitsap counties, and oh, what howling there has been.  Anything different is evil, I guess.  Me, I’ve been paying attention to how much time I spend at stoplights on my way home for the past week, calculating time lost as I decelerate to a stop, wait for the light to change, and wait for traffic to allow me to accelerate back to a cruising speed.  It’s just anecdotal evidence at the moment, but I find that I have to stop or significantly decelerate for just under half the lights (and there are some lesser ones that almost never change, so some are stoppers 50% or more of the time).  And with time spent to come to a stop and come back to cruising speed (about 12 seconds with minimal car traffic) and time spent waiting or dealing with slow-to-move traffic, I’m hitting an average of about 35 seconds spent per light I stop at, or about 16 seconds per light overall.  (As much as 3 minutes of dead time in a 2.5 mile stretch of Rainier Avenue.)

I’ve also tracked stop signs a couple times.  Usually having no more than one car to wait for, these come out at an average of under 12 seconds each.  None of this takes into account left/right turns vs. straight ahead, time of day, weather, etc.  All in all, with probably under 10 seconds delay per roundabout (half that for decelerate/accelerate, the rest for when you have to wait for cars), with my handful of data points, roundabouts look very attractive as replacements for half or more of the signals outside urban cores.


When I got back and laid out all the souvenirs on the bed to show my boyfriend, one of my cats (Miss Mona) was also there.  I got out he little kiwi — about the size of a songbird — and set it on the bed.  Mona came over, sniffed once, and proceeded to try to eat it.  I took it away, set it aside, and she went for it again.  Literally, just about unhinged her jaw and tried to eat the thing whole.  Guess it was convincing enough for a cat.

Guess I’ll have to keep it at work!

Updated on March 18, 2010

Airline Safety Videos

In recent years, many airlines (the ones that have entertainment screens viewable by everyone on board) have taken to doing their safety announcements via video rather than live.  Of course, those of us who have flown many times ignore them just like the live ones.

Virgin America has gone to the next stage and done an attractive animated version of their presentation.  This has two benefits: first, they can expect even the most jaded traveler to watch it once, just for the novelty.  And second, they can put some humor into it, especially via the art, without needing to have the flight attendants crack jokes and such, which again will encourage people to watch it at least once.  Here is their video:

Virgin America also had an animated video of Richard Branson, but I can’ find it online.

V Australia has also done theirs in animated form.  In this case, computer animated.  And if I dislike the weird character models used in movies like Up, I outright fear the ones used in this video.  They look like they haven’t slept for two days and have been on a meth-influenced crying jag, and when they smile, they look like they are trying to frighten young children.  Worst.  Models.  Ever.

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