Monday, December 22, 2014

A Little Photo and Programming Therapy

I marvel at flying. Lost luggage, TSA hassles, late planes, long lines--these are all insignificant when one considers the amazing accomplishment of mass airline transit. Not only can I cover hundreds of miles in an hour or so, but I can do so in relative safety and comfort. And the system does this day in and day out with barely a hitch. Not to mention I get to see the world as our ancestors (and probably most of the planet) could only imagine.

There's just one tiny hitch to my love airline travel: the actual flying part can trigger an unhealthy dose of anxiety. When the plane hits a patch of turbulence, all my rational thoughts are abandoned and my lizard brain takes over: holy smokes, we're in a metal tube thousands of feet above the ground, this isn't right!

So I do what I can to keep the lizard at bay. I watch the flight attendants (if they're happy, I'm happy). I count in my head the seconds after takeoff (knowing that within 60 seconds or so, our steep assent will be completed). I ponder the thought that just a few minutes ago a flight took off the same run way I'm on now, and after we depart, another one will closely follow.

And then there's my attempts at aerial photography attempts. I've found that if I stare out the window and try to focus on just how amazing the scenery is, I can trick my brain into not thinking of falling to certain death. And when I see something amazing, I just have to take pictures of it. Lots of pictures. Call it photo therapy. Here's a few photos our last flight:

To catch a sunrise at 20,000 feet; what a treat!

Another trick I've been using of late: solving programming-praxis problems mid-flight. This last trip I tackled the free-time exercise. You can find my finished solution here. Apparently I can't multi-task when it comes to coding and being terrified; it has to be one or the other. So if I can get deep into a problem, I forget that I'm supposed to be worried about falling out of the sky.

One of these days perhaps these gimmicks won't be necessary. In the mean time, I'm going to keep trying to outsmart myself to a more comfortable flight.

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