Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

Animal’s Daily Airline Seats News

Be sure to check out my latest over at Glibertarians – this week’s entry is five guns you should consider in the event Something Bad Happens.  Now then:

Wow – the airlines can cut your odds of contracting the Kung Flu on an airplane by eliminating middle seats!  Sounds great, eh?  Well, maybe not so much.  Excerpt:

Eliminating the middle seat on planes may help cut already low on-flight coronavirus risk even more, a new research paper from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested.

The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, pegs the risk of contracting COVID-19 from nearby passengers on a full flight at about 1 in 4,300. According to the research findings, that risk drops to 1 in 7,700 when the middle seat is not booked.

The research paper, titled “Covid-19 Risk Among Airline Passengers: Should the Middle Seat Stay Empty?” was penned by award-winning MIT statistician Arnold Barnett and published in MedRxiv earlier this month.

The calculations, Barnett writes, “do suggest a measurable reduction in COVID-19 risk when middle seats on aircraft are deliberately kept open.”

“Measurable.”  Well, sure; electron orbits are “measurable,” too.  That’s a word that really carries little meaning in this case.

Let’s measure this another way.  The elimination of middle seats – something I’d love, by the way, for purely selfish reasons – would reduce your risk of a Kung Flu infection from 0.233% to 0.130%.

Well, that sure is measurable.  As in, it can be measured.

By way of comparison, your odds of being hit by lightning, over an 80-year lifespan, are about 0.0065%.  So you’re more likely to catch the Kung Flu on a plane trip than you  have of being struck by lightning. You have similar odds of being killed by “exposure to excessive natural heat.”  Your odds are far higher of dying in a “pedestrian incident” (0.599%) or in a fall (0.787%.)

So, yeah, don’t look for the airlines to keep the middle seats un-booked for very long.  My own airline of choice, United, has already started refilling these seats.  So has America.  Much as I’d love to see them remain empty just to feel less crowded on a flight, it doesn’t appear to make good sense.  Not in a time when all of the major airlines are already bleeding cash.

Rule Five Future Airliners Friday

Mrs. Animal and I do more than the average amount of air travel, and it is as it has been of late:  Uncomfortable and inconvenient.  But there are ideas floating around to make air travel at least a little uncomfortable.  To that end, Airbus may have a neat new concept for air travel.  Excerpt:

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has unveiled a model of what it believes may be the future of passenger-aircraft designs.

The Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovate Controls, or Maveric, made its debut at the Singapore Airshow 2020 on Tuesday. The new aircraft design seeks to upend the long-standing tradition of tube-shaped aircraft fuselages.

The model reflects what a “blended-wing” design, a concept used mainly in military aircraft, would look like for commercial planes.

Maveric is in the initial stages of development. Airbus quietly launched the project in 2017 and began tests on a small remote-controlled model in 2019.

Though it looks like something out of a science-fiction movie, aircraft with designs like the Maveric may become a reality if Airbus, one of the largest commercial-aircraft manufacturers, has its way. 

Take a look at what may be the aircraft design of the future. 

Here’s the neat bit:

A wider aircraft could also allow for a more open concept on board and make the cabin feel less congested compared with current-generation aircraft designs.

Less congested would be awesome.

One of my major peeves with air travel is how damn tight everything is on a typical airliner.  On international flights, as Mrs. A and I took earlier this week, we generally spring for United’s upgraded Premiere Economy seats, which are roughly the equivalent of the old Business Class; with this section selection we get wider seats and fewer people per overhead bin.  But those seats involve a not-insignificant extra cost, and while Mrs. A and I are empty-nesters and owners of a reasonably successful business and so can afford those seats, that’s not an option for everyone.  And the standard Economy seats are a trial for someone of my 6’1″ stature.

These concept art depictions (and, by all means, go look at them) literally paint quite a different picture.

Here’s the catch, though:  While the shorter, wider layout does seem to give a sense of more breathing space, I’m damned certain that the airlines would capitalize on that by cramming in the same crappy, undersized seating.  That’s not a problem without compensations; adjusted for inflation, air travel is cheaper now than it has ever been in the past, and the price we pay for that is crowding, rude one-time travelers and three-year-olds kicking the backs of our minimum-pitch seats.

So, this Airbus concept may be neat – and neat it is – but will it make air travel significantly more comfortable in practice?  Color me skeptical.

Animal’s Daily Auf Deutsch News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  Also, be sure to catch the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians.

Now, with that said:  Mrs. Animal and I took advantage of the long weekend to fly the Friendly Skies once more, this time to Frankfurt.  Continue reading Animal’s Daily Auf Deutsch News

A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland

Take a guess where we went.

Before we begin, thanks to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links, and make sure to catch the last in my Thirty-Something Rifle Cartridges series over at Glibertarians.

This long weekend just passed, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. made a whirlwind trip to bonny old Eire.  We took a red-eye flight Thursday night, arriving rather the worse for wear early Friday morning.  After picking up our rental car, I had a journey of discovery in which I 1) had to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, and b) navigate Dublin’s rush hour traffic to find our hotel.  Continue reading A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland

Rule Five 2019 Reflections Friday

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is only a few days from being over.  It seems like we just got here.

The year began on a sad note with the loss of my Mom, only a few months after Dad left us the previous spring.  But my siblings and I chose, instead of mourning, to reflect on and feel good about the long, long, happy lives our parents had together in their seventy-one years of marriage.

And as if to show that the wheel always keeps turning, in October we welcomed a new grandson to the family.  This makes five grandchildren Mrs. Animal and I have to spoil, with the oldest graduating high school in a year and a half.  Grandparenting is, as they say, the revenge we get for having been parents; but I think it’s a lot more than that.  Being Grandpa is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever done, along with being a Dad; fortunately I learned about both things from the very best.

A few things about 2019 were frustrating.  We spent too much of the year in the leftist’s paradise of New Jersey, although I have to admit I’m kind of fond of Raritan, where are temporary lodgings are located; if only it wasn’t in New Jersey it would be a nice little town.  As a result of this, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at the gun club as I would have liked, and the trips I did get to make out there to the trap stands tell me that my shooting has slipped a little.  I should have more time in 2020 to get back in that groove.

Because of that, there are probably a few high-country trout that lived to swim another day rather than ending up in my stream-side frying pan.  Let’s hope that changes in 2020 as well.

Mrs. Animal have started taking advantage of our empty-nester status to check some boxes off on our travel bucket list.  March saw us in Tokyo for a week; it’s odd that while I’m an unrepentant country boy with very little love for cities, there are a few big cities I have always enjoyed.  Boston is one.  Tokyo is another.  Fortunately Mrs. Animal is competent in conversational Japanese, which makes things a great deal easier.

In July we took advantage of the east coast location and drove up north of Montreal to the little town of Ste. Agnes du Mont in Quebec, up in the Laurentides.  While the fishing was disappointing, the folks were very friendly, the food and beer was great, and the country was beautiful.  Mrs. Animal got to practice her high-school French.  It was fun.  We’d like to go back.

So, looking ahead to this year:  2020 promises to be interesting.

We have some more travel plans laid on; details will follow, so look forward to some insights and stories from some interesting places.  Hint:  Our travelogues will probably include discussions of food and beer.

Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder elk/deer hunt down in southern Colorado this year, somewhere down along the New Mexico border; after last year we decided that a change of scenery was in order, and the September black-powder season comes along with some pretty nice shirt-sleeve weather.

The current project I’m on is going to last a while.  I’m expecting it to last at least through December of 2021, but our current lease on the temporary New Jersey digs ends in May.  We’re hoping that at this time we’ll be able to pull out of there and return home more or less full-time, with me spending maybe a week a month on site.  But I’m a long-time consultant, and one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I will always do what’s best for the project, rather than what suits my own druthers; so, we’ll see.

In summary:  2019 was pretty good.  2020 promises to be better still.  Mrs. Animal and I both sure hope that every one of you True Believers will have a great 2020; and I do appreciate, very much, all of you.  Thanks for reading (even if you just came for the pretty girls and stuck around to read my ramblings) and thanks for sticking around.  We’ll try to keep up to snuff in 2020 and points beyond.

Happy New Year!

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Mrs. A and I have to head for the airport in a little while, to head home to Denver; on Friday morning, loyal sidekick Rat and I answer the call of the bloodwind once more, as we set forth in pursuit of deer and elk.  But in the meantime:  Time for the links!

Number One for today’s links:  Feds have hurriedly dropped a case against a black-market gun builder because of a tentative judicial ruling that may have overturned much of the 1968 Gun Control Act.  No shit.  Go read, and try to ignore CNN’s pearl-clutching.

This scientist thinks we may already have found strong evidence of life on Mars.  I’m not so sure, but my biology credentials are a few years out of date; I have tried to, as they say, keep current, but that’s a long ways from working in the field day to day.

Joe Biden may actually be senile.

Liz Peek thinks the 2020 election is still President Trump’s to lose.  The history of incumbents seeking re-election bolsters her argument.

Guess what?  Our schools suck.  Welcome to 1977.  The answer?  Get government out of education.

Californians may be going collectively insane.

This might be interesting.

Well, that escalated quickly.

These three countries tried socialism and rejected it.  It sure would be nice if some American pols would learn from their example, but as my dear departed Grandpa was fond of saying, “you can teach ’em, but you can’t learn ’em.”

The Washington Examiner’s Adam Brandon points out that the Constitution is what is keeping us from Hong Kong’s fate.  I’d feel better about that assertion if it weren’t for the fact that the Imperial government has been wiping their asses with the Constitution since about 1860.

U of WA professor Holly M. Barker is an idiot.

Adam Schiff is an idiot.

Princess Spreading Bull Warren is an idiot.

Have a read about the eccentric wonder that was Thomas Edison.  One of my favorite quotes is from Edison:  “People frequently don’t recognize opportunity when it arrives, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.”

A Deep State bureaucrat cashes in.

Bill Maher finds another acorn.

On that nutty note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Rule Five Schadenfreudalicious Friday

It was with some slight regret that Mrs. Animal and I have returned from Japan, especially since we return not to our own increasingly-loony but still beloved Colorado but instead to my temporary work site of (ugh) New Jersey.

That slight sadness is, of course, attenuated by last week’s long-awaited release of the Mueller report and the accompanying meltdown by the political Left and their accomplices in the legacy media.  Some samples follow:

No collusion; no surprise.

Flashback:  Media predicts indictments, prison times, treason charges, RHEEEEEE!

Apologies to President Trump? From The Hill?  This one deserves an excerpt:

We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence.

We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”

As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment.

And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered.

So, a round of apologies seem in order.

Wow.  A moment of clarity.  Didn’t see that coming.

The collapse of Hillary’s Big Lie.  Well, one of them, anyway.

Trump:  Told you so.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of backbiting, and a lot of whining, and a lot of RRHEEEEE about further investigations which will almost certainly also come to naught.  Someone might advise the Democrats “do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.”  You’d think they would learn from the Bill Clinton impeachment episode in the 1990s, when what was widely viewed as an unfair persecution of a sitting President actually helped him win re-election (aided, of course, by the GOP’s unerring selection of the worst candidate in the 1996 field.)

And, of course, Lindsey Graham 2.0, who I have to admit I really like, is calling for the shoe to be placed on the other foot.  Excerpt:

Now that Robert Mueller’s investigation is over, Graham said he plans to “get answers” about how the Russia probe was started and whether it was used as an excuse to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign. He urged Attorney General William Barr to appoint a new special counsel to examine the issue.

“Was it a ruse to get into the Trump campaign?” Graham, a Trump ally, said at a news conference Monday morning. “I don’t know but I’m going to try to find out.”

Good luck to him.  One thing, at least; the ultimate target (let’s say it softly) of this probe, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, is no longer the primary leader and rallying point of the Democratic Party.  That role seems to have been taken by the young nutbar Left like Alexandria Occasional Cortex, and while they are succeeding in dragging the Overton Window a little to the left, they aren’t going to win national elections with a platform that includes universal income for people unwilling to work, abolishing air travel, and doing away with cattle.  Hillary in the crosshairs wouldn’t bother them much; most of them are already wishing that Her Imperial Majesty would shut up and go away.

It’s still a long time until November 2020.  But things sure look like they’re breaking Trump’s way right now.

Animal’s Daily Tales of Two Cities News

There’s a lot to like about Japan.

Be sure to check out the latest in my History of Lever Guns series over at Glibertarians!

Unless you just haven’t been paying attention recently, you’ll know that Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been enjoying a semi-working vacation in Tokyo these last few days.

If you’ve been reading these virtual pages for a while, you’ll also know that we spent 2017 in the ever-more-loony San Francisco Bay area.

So, with that being the case, I can’t help but to draw some comparisons between the two cities.

I’m generally not a fan of big cities.  I grew up in rural and small town environments, and the hustle and bustle of big metropolitan areas has never appealed to me.  But even so, I love Japan, and I love Tokyo.  I like being out in the countryside and in the small towns in Japan more than being in Tokyo, of course, but on this particular trip we stayed in the Tokyo metro area the entire time, and had a ball.  But I can’t abide most major American cities (although I’m rather fond of Boston), I really can’t abide the nutbar Bay Area, and in that year in the area I came to downright loathe San Francisco.

So what’s the difference in these two cities?  Why is San Francisco now a literal shithole, littered with human feces, used needles, and derelicts sleeping in doorways?  Why is Tokyo a clean, prosperous city that young people from all over Japan want to come live and work in?

An apartment high-rise in Kinshicho.

A big part of it is housing.  The suburb we are staying in, Kinshicho, like many of Tokyo’s neighborhoods has a pretty fair number of high-rise apartment buildings.  In our travels around Tokyo and indeed other places in Japan, we’ve seen a lot of these and more going up.  In other words, Japan deals with a population density and housing cost issue that America cities can’t imagine by vertical filing.

Why can’t American cities do this?  Why can’t the Bay Area, a place notorious for horrifying housing prices, build some similar high-rise developments to provide affordable housing?  “Affordable Housing” is a shibboleth of the political Left, which has a hammerlock on this city; why then do they insist on restrictive land-use and building codes that make this almost impossible?

“But Animal,” some of these same left-leaning folks might say, “we shouldn’t force people to live in massive high-rises!”  Well, sure, I quite agree.  But why not open up the possibilities for developers to build some of these efficient, small-apartment high-rises and see if people might choose to live in them?

You know – like a free country might?

Tokyo isn’t a perfect place.  The cost of housing is still high; you’re starting to see little acts of hooliganism like graffiti, which you never saw a few years ago.  But Tokyo also houses several orders of magnitude more human beings than live in the Bay Area, and manages to find ways that young folks starting out can afford to live.  And Tokyo is a clean city.  You rarely see discarded trash in the streets, much less spent needles and human shit.

We could learn a thing or two from Japan.