I flew back to the States yesterday to have some holiday time with my family. Some (rather cranky) observations:

  1. Noise seems to be inescapable; especially in American airports, there seems to be the constant drone of music and announcements. Many tend to be ominous pronouncements about security, “If you value the lives of your children, please do not leave them unattended at any time; unattended children may be confiscated and destroyed by the Transportation Security Administration.” I had a several hour layover in Chicago (which is not all that bad of an airport considering); and felt like I was under a constant aural assault from loudspeakers, squealing carts, televisions, and all manner of buzzing bleeping things.
  2. People in America are fat; every time I leave and return, I’m shocked. I’ve just finished critiquing a report on the increase of obesity in Britain; but the UK can’t yet compare with the US. For some reason, many of the TSA screeners seem especially overweight. Several of them had great globules of flab hanging over their belts; this does not bode well for their ability to chase down random baddies (though, since security are not all armed, perhaps falling perpetrators is a strategy—some sort of soft enforcement).
  3. The sensors in toilets need better artificial intelligence. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on a toilet that prematurely flushed. One yesterday flushed three times whilst I was on it. I finally discerned that, if I remained completely motionless, it would not flush. I wonder if there is a ready solution (i.e. affix a post-it-note® over the sensor)?
  4. Food on airlines (American Airlines yesterday) can, indeed, taste as horrible as food in hospitals.