Posted by: xtrhic | November 1, 2007

Neutrality 1

SwissflagI’m in Switzerland today. I arrived a few days ago in Zürich on a flight from Singapore. The flight was, interesting, for lack of a better word. I used the airlines’ internet check in facility. I chose a window seat at the back of the airplane, an Airbus 340-500, which was only 2 abreast. With any luck, I thought, I would be alone.
I was alone, as it turned out, but the seat did not recline. Well, it did recline just a little bit, but not as much as the seat of the person sitting in front of me. So I had an 10″ LCD screen about 7″ from my face. Not my idea of widescreen entertainment.

I do need to comment about the entertainment console. Aside from the 10″ screen, the controller, which had a mini qwerty keyboard, was placed in front of me, below the LCD screen. Usually the controller is set into the arm rest beside you. For smaller ended people, this is not an issue. For the other side of the spectrum, its a bit of an issue. You have to wrangle it out of its socket and try to find a place for it without a)dropping it on the floor or b)dropping into the lap of the person sitting next to you (unless you need a conversation starter).the new controller

Next to the LCD screen, was an RCA jack for video input. I guess you could plug in your iPod video and watch whatever movies you have on the large LCD screen. Below the RCA jack, was a USB jack so that you can retrieve and save your work (more on this later). Below the RCA jack was an RJ-45 Ethernet port. This last port I could not figure out. They didnt have any literature regarding this port at all. I tried asking the Stewards/ Stewardesses but I did not learn anything at all.

There were 3 sets of buttons on the lower part of the LCD, brightness, power and a light with several preset brightness settings. This I thought was a capital idea so that you do not need to turn on the overhead reading light and wake up your next seat neighbors as well as the row ahead and behind you to see which button was which on the remote or to search in the seat pocket or whatever.

Turning on the units was by the power button. You will then be greeted with several icons: entertainment, music, kids, work, navigation.
You could probably guess what they all mean, but i would like to pull your attention to the Work icon. Selecting the icon (via the joystick like button on the controller) will bring you to a version of Open Office provided by Sun Microsystems. You can then open, edit, create office documents and save them to your USB memory stick that you have plugged into the receptacle to the right of your LCD. You can then use the mini qwerty keyboard on the reverse side of the controller. The experience of typing on the mini keyboard is very similar to text messaging rather than real typing, but it seems to be a rather large leap in the right direction. No longer do you need to try to fit your large screen laptop on the minuscule tray table and fight with the person in the seat in front of you when he reclines and squishes you hand with your own laptop screen and keyboard. Ironically, a 220V AC receptacle is provided at the forward part of your arm rest, just below the headset jacks. I wonder if anyone has accidentally plugged in their headset into the power port.

Ok, back to the trip. I twisted in my seat trying to find a comfortable position to watch the plethora of movies and at the same time, to add distance from the LCD screen. One good thing about sitting at the very back is that you always get the food first. The flight was a bit bumpy, and they cancelled food service twice and the captain ordered the crew to return to their stations because it was so bumpy, but not until after they had served my row and the row ahead of it.

The rear end of the plane vibrated quite a bit. Not just up and down, but left and right as well. This happened several times in the flight, once as we were above the Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Caspian Sea etc. and again as we came over Greece then finally on final approach. Wasnt too fun, but for some reason, I wasnt afraid.

We landed at 7:05 in the morning, it was about 4deg C outside. Stepping out of the plane into the airport it was quite a shock. I had on only a t-shirt, a flannel shirt and a thin jacket. Got through customs quite easily, then on to the rail station. Bought a round trip ticket, then waited for the 9:13 to Geneva (direct, no changing trains). There was an earlier train, but I had to change trains which i didnt want to do since I had such a huge suitcase.

At first I did not get a seat on the train. But as we stopped at a station, some people got off, and I was able to park my suitcase and grab a seat. I curled up with a book and my iPod, and nodded off. The conductor woke me to check my ticket. It was already 11am.
It was pretty cloudy outside, so most of the scenery was a drab gray. The scenery between Zurich and Geneva was interesting, mostly picturesque small European towns, rolling hills, lots of big cows. Then as we approached Geneva, views of the Switzerland lakes came about. It was pretty. I was still to groggy to pull out my D70, so i tried using my K800i. Crappy.

We pulled into Geneva exactly as the schedule had printed. I hauled out my suitcase, put on my jacket and my backpack and stepped onto the platform. I followed everyone else to the exit and found myself out on the street. I saw my hotel from where I was standing and began to walk there. It had started to warm up a bit, but it was still windy, so it still felt like it was 4-6 deg C. Checked into the hotel and i unpacked: hung my dress shirts, put away my valuables (what little there is), setup my toiletries.

I put on a heavier sweater and then I went out to look for food. I had seen a familiar logo as I was stepping out of Gare Cornavin, one that some might associate with Global Capitalism. I decided to get a quick lunch there, take a reconnaissance tour then crash back at the hotel.

I slept for a couple of hours till about 6PM, then I woke up, channel surfed, then went back to bed sans supper. More tomorrow… if I feel up for it.



  1. Pictures please….

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