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Spur of the Moment

Last night I was in the Las Vegas airport, waiting for boarding to start on my flight. I went there an hour early because I didn't have time to play poker, so I figured I could get on wifi and get some work done. I knocked out a couple small SETT bugs, and then remembered about getgoing.com, the YC-backed discount flight site. The way it works is you pick two deeply discounted flights that you'd be willing to take, put in your credit card, and getgoing picks one for you. You don't know where you're going until after you've paid. When I first got invited to the site I mucked around with it and found some really great fares to both Beijing and Shanghai.

Maybe I should go to China, I thought. Twenty minutes later my flight to Shanghai was booked.

I like making impulsive decisions like this. My past is filled with them, and none that I can think of have ended in regret. Actually, if I were asked what I thought my biggest strength is, I would probably say that it is making good decisions very quickly.

I wasn't always good at making quick decisions. Twelve years ago I had the opportunity to fly on the Concorde for $1000. It was usually over $10,000 round trip. I really wanted to do it, so I called a few friends to see if anyone else was interested. There was some hemming and hawing, but no one was ready to commit. Well, I thought, I'll wait until tomorrow and buy a ticket then if I still want to go. The next day came and the deal was gone. Now the Concorde is decommissioned and I'll never have the chance to ride it. Strange is it sounds, this is probably one of the bigger regrets in my life. I really wish I got to ride the Concorde before it folded.

In my dreams...

On The Tiny Octopus

In my dreams I am unfailingly optimistic...

I own a single propeller engine car/plane hybrid that I mooched off eBay and park at the side of my place. When I want to go out on a food run I back it out of the side of the house and eyeball a small stretch of road near my house. It's good enough. I turn on the engines and launch myself into the air with barely enough space before the road ends. It's OK though - I made it up into the air - and nary a negative thought enters my mind. Yes I just busted out a plane and launched it in the middle of a residential district.

As I launch higher into the atmosphere I look outside the open cockpit at the city. I look at the buildings and green trees and parks and the expanses of urbanization that go on forever. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I just look at the horizon beyond and stare at it in a sort of infatuation. I'm just going on a food run. I maneuver the plane a bit and dip low as I'm nearing my destination. I am skimming the tops of apartment buildings, trees, dipping up not to hit tall power lines and I love every minute of it.

As I'm in the air approaching my usual landing strip - a small wide stretch of park jogging trail in a forested park my mind goes thru some passing thoughts. Won't I get in trouble for flying a single engine wherever I want in post-911 paranoid America? Nah... it's just me... it'll be alright... I can explain it away. I'm not a terrorist just a guy in a single engine enjoying life. The thought passes thru my consciousness as quickly as it came. I also realize I am not wearing a parachute or have any sort of plan in place if my salvaged single engine suddenly died thousands of feet in the air. I have a passing thought about all the people who'd be sad if I suddenly passed due to any number of accidents that happened from flying this thing. My mind quickly retorts with: Sudden plane crashes are extremely rare and can be avoided with simple preparation. Don't fly in bad weather. If the plane starts failing it's a single engine prop - just glide it down to a safe landing zone. Do whatever you need to keep the plane up as long as possible. It's alright. The thought quickly exits my mind as well because in my dreams I am unfailingly optimistic. I am in my element and I am happy.

The stretch of park looms up ahead and I dip the plane hard to prepare my landing. I seem to be going a bit fast for the ground and the landing site may not be long enough. It's OK though I've done this before - I know what I'm doing. I dip the plane down hard then angle the nose upwards while applying the airbrakes. The plane's engines cut out and I'm gliding over the ground. I am slowing down somewhat in the air and the approach is perfect. I land smoothly but I am still going a bit fast and the park trail ends up ahead. I slam the groundbrakes hard and the plane screeches and spins out right before hitting the trees. It was still about 50 feet though and I was supremely confident it'd stop. I recover from the spinout and taxi down the park trail as usual into a McDonalds parking lot. What time is it? I don't know probably about dawn perhaps 5 or 6am or pm - some time when the sun is either going up or going down.

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