Flying over Key West in early 2020. Photo by me.

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” 

— Marie Curie 

When I was a kid, my dad traveled often for business. He’d come home with the usual souvenirs he probably grabbed at the airport (my dresser was full of “Visit New Hampshire” type shirts) and would tell us about the cool places he had visited in between appointments. 

If we were lucky, there’d be a trip to the Fotomat, and in a few days, we could look at some grainy pictures of wherever he’d been. But no matter where he went, when pressed for a favorite part of the trip, he’d always give the same answer: the flight. 

It was the one place no one could reach him. It gave him time to read, think, whatever. Sometimes he’d spend the entire flight looking out the window and daydreaming, with only his thoughts and imagination keeping him company.

We like being distracted. Since the earliest days of aviation, airlines have been happy to help us with that. Food, playing cards, In-Flight Entertainment; the list goes on. 

If you’re of a certain (ahem) age, you may remember the introduction of the Airphone on airplanes. They were bulky, cost a fortune, and were mainly used to tell people… you were calling them from an airplane. Movies were played on monitors that dropped down from the ceiling.

Today there are screens at every seat and 100’s of hours of content to pass the time. The advance in technology is nothing short of amazing, really. Airphones are long gone, but who needs that when you can iMessage everyone?

Put another way, you can spend an entire trip not ever thinking about the miracle of flight, or having to notice the view unfolding 30, 000 ft. below you. You can be as busy in the air as you are on the ground. Or not.

Yesterday I took my first post-pandemic flight. I had all kinds of plans to get things done; a pile of things to read, a decent-sized to-do list, phone stuffed with podcasts, etc. 

About 15 minutes in, I decided not to do any of it.

Instead, I read a little, looked out the window, and let my mind wander. 

It’s still the best IFE there is.

5 Things I’m Into This Week #8

It’s a new day in America, and we can all collectively exhale. Watching the inauguration this week, I felt real joy and hope. I was asked what I liked best about the speeches.

My response:

“I think what impressed me most about yesterday’s speeches was what they lacked.

There was no bile or name-calling.
There was no finger-pointing.
There were no attempts at rallying people by focusing on what they’re against.

Instead, we listened to calls for civility. For coalition. For concord. It was refreshing–and it wasn’t lost on me that yesterday was the first time in days that we saw the sun up here.

The ceremony itself seemed to recognize today’s(?) America. I don’t know if I can articulate that well. It was nice to see traditional things like nods to heroism (take a bow, Eugene Goodman), but also a blend of august and novel. “Stars and Stripes Forever” got played, and someone in the audience was wearing Jordans. A 22 yr. old stopped us in our tracks with her evocative words, and Bernie became a meme. I hope that all makes sense.

 I’ve always thought what makes this crazy experiment of ours great is the people. America isn’t a corporation. It’s not it’s geographic borders. It’s us. All 330M of us. The last 4 years saw the worst of us surface. The next 4 will bring out the best in us. 

On the morning after the 2016 election, my family was returning home from a vacation in Pensacola. When you fly space-available, you get an early start, so there we were driving in the pre-dawn silence. As we crossed the Three Mile bridge, I looked over and saw my wife had tears running down her cheeks. Yesterday, she posted a picture of our flag waving in the sun. Yesterday felt less like a ceremony and more like healing.

Scott Galloway keeps telling his audience that “Everything that’s wrong with America can be fixed by what’s right with America.” Yesterday felt like the clarion call to get rolling on that, and it’s what I liked best. I’m excited.”

And I hope you are too. We’ve got work to do. Let’s get rollin’!

On to the good stuff…

Everything falls apart. On some level, we all know this, yet failures still surprise us. This week my shoulder decided to stage it’s own revolution. A much more typical—and much less painful— example can be the stuff we own. We all know quality > quantity, and most of us are aware of planned obsolescence. Maybe the better way to go is to simply own less stuff. Fewer things, less stuff to maintain. Perfect.

We’ve all spent the last year far more isolated than we wanted. Learning to make sourdough and DuoLingo can only make up for sop much of that. Here’s a beautiful short film about someone that chooses to embrace solitude every year caretaking at a seaside hotel over the winter.

Some day soon, we’ll all be traveling again. In a previous issue, I shared the 1st part of a great historical recap of United Airlines’ storied history in Cleveland. Here’s Part 2, covering the 1970-80’s. It’s a wonderful read, even if you’re not as into aviation as I am.

In the modern era, there are no shortage of people looking to hack carriers’ frequent flier programs. The goal is to never pay for a flight. Some tactics are legal, and some are…kinda sketchy. This Rolling Stone profile of one of the masters makes for a fascinating trip.

I’m currently obsessed with this clip from an Italian marble quarry. Watching the precise signals required to harvest huge chunks of rock is strangely appealing. The marriage of man/machine/earth is breathtaking.

Onward up the mountain,


P.S. Not for nothing, if we ever vote on changing our national anthem, “Stars and Stripes Forever” gets my vote. It’s a hill I’m totally willing to die on.

P.P.S. I’d love to hear what you think about this week’s list. Rants, raves, or anything in between. Let me know in the comments, and share widely!