Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 23

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 23

…”Ace Bannion is an old friend… with an airplane. A bad rabbit with bad habits…

“Where do we start Miss Caraway? There are a dozen angles to consider here,” Martin supposes

The Independence

Constance’s most urgent task is to digest this mounting mystery menagerie before it gets unmanageable. Ugh! Logistics are limiting their ability to get from here to there.

Her thoughts drift to an acquaintance, in her past of some renown that could be of great assistance to them but he is busy probably flying XF-86 jet fighters in the Korean War or flying President Truman around the world aboard the Independence.

An almost mythical human being, he would have the ability to transport them to most anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat, comparatively speaking.

“Ace Bannion,” the one solitary male in the world with which she has ever displayed the slightest interest. But his jet setting lifestyle does not mesh well with her relatively dull world, thus her relationship with Fanny.

“What or who is Ace Bannion?”

“An old friend… with an airplane. A bad rabbit with bad habits,” she references a convenience they do not possess; that and he smokes cigars. “Forget Ace, we need to nail down exactly what Willard Libby either has, or knows, or is about to expose, that has attracted so much attention.”

When in doubt, start at the beginning. “Can you get your hands on Libby’s notes and figure out what is so damned important?”

“There is the matter of professional courtesy.”

“Pardon my French Martin, but good manners and a dollar bill gets you a $1 handful of day-old crap.” This is one frank female behind those penetrating blue eyes.

“That paper was his baby, but your point is well taken. There is something in his research that has triggered an international incident.”

I don’t know about an incident, but we still haven’t identified the right clue to know where he is. This whole case is leaving an international aftertaste in my mouth.”

“I will break into his office and see what I can find; it’s at the end of the hall.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 22

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 18

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 18

…There are  stories for every occasion and two on Sundays…

“I hate to be a Scrooge, but I had the feeling someone was watching my house; there was a car with one guy in it sitting across the street. His engine was running, but he hadn’t moved all morning.”

“Maybe he was a visitor at some house on your block,” Fanny speculates about a holiday guest.

“Nah, not the Englewood type, if you know what I mean, Fan.” Con and Fan’ are the new monikers he has adapted for the girls. “Plus, plus I think I picked up a tail going west on 79th. He dropped off in Willow Springs though, so I can’t be 100% sure.

“We’re going to have to be more discreet here folks; the streets have eyes.”

streets

Constance doesn’t like being fingered. She does the fingering, thank you.

“We are going to rent an ignominious car from Hertz Car Rental at Chicago Midway Airport, so let’s go there first and then park your ‘I am bright yellow, look at me’ car for a while.” Connie is taking charge of the situation, at least as it applies to the covert nature of their comings and goings.

“Now that’s an airport! It ain’t out in Timbuktu and the City Council just named it after the Battle of Midway. The Navy really took it to the Japs with that one. If we don’t put a hurt on their fleet, we may be speaking Japanese or German right now!” Eddie is proud of the war effort, including his service with the Army. He rolls up his right pant leg, “Took a bullet in France.”

Back to the task at hand

“225 West Randolph, I know exactly which building that is? My brother-in-law works on the 23rd floor, some sort of accounting guy. He is a persnickety sort, but he does our taxes for cheap, so I shouldn’t complain.”

There are  stories for every occasion and twice on Sunday.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 17

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

…“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment  of rare wonderment…

1950 Chicago

The large two-propeller airplane from Florida approaches Chicago from the southeast and the terrain of some 15,000 feet below is changing radically as it descends; from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley to the sprawling farm fields of the Midwestern Plain.

And then out of nowhere sprouts a cluster of buildings; one taller than the next, looking like they are daring the Great Lake called Michigan to wash them away.

“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment of rare wonderment. She is well-traveled, some would say worldly, but she is accustomed to the perspective provided by a plodding train car or the rolling deck of a steamship.

“This is the view God has.” From Fanny’s perspective, that is exactly how she sees it.

Flight 12 from Tallahassee lands at Chicago Orchard, even though commercial air travel to and from Chicago is just revving up. The airfield had its beginnings as a Douglas Aircraft assembly plant, with close ties to the war effort. Just as World War II pulled up the United States by its bootstraps, out of the depths of the Great Depression, so did war-related industries create new venues for a growing nation.

Once the passengers walk down the stairs of the Pan American airplane, they are escorted to a newly built circular structure resembling giant spider; separate “legs” meant to serve the individual companies using the airport. Most of current air traffic moves cargo across the country, so the freight terminal, at the far end of the field, is actually busier.

After retrieving their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 7

Secrets About Flying – WIF Travel

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Secrets About

Air Travel

10. The tiny hole at the bottom of your window is keeping you safe

When you’re stuck in an aluminum tube for hours at a time, staring out the window at the clouds might provide a welcome diversion from the cramped seats, crappy food, and unruly fellow passengers you may encounter as part of your in-flight “experience.” And when you look out that window, you may have noticed something strange about the window itself—the pin-sized hole near the bottom. That tiny hole is called a “bleed hole” or “breather hole,” and it’s there for a reason.

As your plane makes its way up to its cruising altitude, air pressure drops. The plane’s pressurization system keeps the air pressure much higher in the plane then in the surrounding air, ensuring that oxygen levels remain high enough for the people on the plane. This pressure differential puts a lot of stress on the plane’s windows, but each window is made up of three panes of glass to keep passengers safe. The innermost layer is mainly to keep the other two safe from passengers. The middle pane is the one with the tiny hole, which ensures that the outermost pane is the one to bear the pressure (and that it is the one that would break if the pressure became too much. If anything happened to the outermost pane, the middle pane would be able to “take over” handling the pressure differential without compromising the passenger cabin. The bleed hole also serves to manage the temperature differential between the cabin and the surrounding air, keeping the windows (mostly) clear of fogging and frost.

9. Airplane bathrooms can be unlocked from the outside

Airplane lavatories have improved from their early incarnations, some of which just released waste directly into the air. Nonetheless, most people wouldn’t describe them as pleasant or seek to spend any unnecessary time in them. In recent years, aircraft bathrooms have become even more cramped, as airlines seek to maximize the number of seats they can squeeze onboard, making visiting the lavatory an even more claustrophobic experience for passengers. Those rare few who still can’t get enough of the aircraft lavatory should be aware of one fact—it is possible to unlock the lavatory door from the outside.

The mechanism for doing so varies from plane to plane. In some versions of the Airbus A380, for example, one must simply lift the “lavatory” sign and slide the knob over to unlock the door. While this might seem like a great way to prank a friend (or a helpful trick for dealing with a misbehaving child), a Virgin America flight attendant says this technique is often used in reverse, to lock the door of an empty bathroom shut during turbulence, further noting that unlocking an occupied bathroom would be done only to ensure passenger safety, in the event the occupant has been in there a long time and is unresponsive, or if the smoke alarm goes off.

8. Hot beverages are best avoided when you’re in the air

While a cup of coffee or tea may seem like the perfect way to wake up after a red-eye flight, you might be better off waiting until you’re inside the airport to enjoy a hot beverage. Not only will the diuretic effect of coffee and tea have you making extra visits to the tiny plane bathroom, the water used to make your drink may be pretty gross.

After an EPA study in 2004 showed 15% of water samples taken from more than 300 planes had coliform bacteria, new standards were introduced to ensure airlines cleaned and tested their water tanks for bacteria. However, the water systems on some planes are only cleaned and tested once a year. EPA data from 2012 shows that 12% of commercial planes still had at least one positive test for coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria won’t make most people sick, but does show that the plane’s water systems are not the cleanest water source, and that more dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli, could potentially exist in that environment. While US carriers serve bottled water to passengers, water from the plane’s system is still used to make tea, coffee, and cocoa, and it doesn’t generally get heated to the temperatures needed to kill all bacteria. The danger is likely small, but it’s enough to keep some flight attendants from drinking coffee and tea onboard, and maybe enough that you’d rather get your caffeine fix from soda or wait till you’re in the terminal to grab a coffee or tea.

7. There’s a reason why airplane bathrooms still have ashtrays, even though smoking is banned

You may have noticed an odd feature in the airplane lavatory—an ashtray on the back of the door. Confusingly, it’s often located right under the sign that reminds you that smoking is prohibited. On most US domestic flights, smoking has been prohibited since 1990, and it’s been outlawed on flights between the US and foreign destinations since 2000. But ashtrays can still be found even on brand new planes—why?

In the US, the bathroom ashtrays are there because the FAA mandates that they be. While initially, this make seem like another nonsensical law, there’s actually a pretty obvious reason why it makes sense to keep the ashtrays: not everyone obeys the law against smoking on planes. On a flight from Portland to Sacramento, one woman, who claimed she needed to smoke to deal with “anxiety,” became so violent after a flight attendant stopped her from smoking in the bathroom that she had to be restrained by passengers and crew until the plane could make an emergency landing.

Given that there are some people who are going to try to sneak in a cigarette no matter what the law says, no matter what kind of hefty fines might be assessed, it makes sense to make sure the cigarettes can be put out safely, and not tossed in a trash bin full of flammable paper towels. The legally mandated presence of ashtrays on planes has its roots in the tragic case of Varig Flight 820 in 1973. An onboard fire, possibly started by a lit cigarette tossed in the lavatory trash bin, killed most of those aboard (via smoke inhalation) before it could make an emergency landing, prompting the FAA to ensure that all commercial aircraft were equipped with ashtrays going forward.

6. Some planes have teeny-tiny bedrooms for the crew

On long-haul flights (those over 10.5 hours), you may have noticed that the crew members serving you rotate during the course of the flight. With some flights (like those from LA to Singapore and from New Zealand to Qatar) clocking in close to 18 hours, it makes sense that more than one crew of pilots and flight attendants would be needed to staff the plane, rotating between work and rest.

But where does the crew go when they are resting? While they all have seats in the main cabin for takeoff and landing, you don’t see the crew snoozing in them during the course of the flight. That’s because planes that fly these long-haul flights are equipped with special little bedrooms for the pilots and flight attendants (usually the pilots and flight attendants sleep in different quarters because of their different schedules). These sleeping cabins are either above or below the main passenger cabin, and are accessible by little staircases or, in some cases, via an overhead storage bin. Configurations vary based on the airline/plane, but generally include single beds, an overhead light for reading, and a privacy curtain. A KLM flight attendant reports that KLM crew beds come equipped with a set of mandatory KLM PJs, so that the crew is recognizable if they are called into service during an emergency.

5. Occasionally, a plane lands with more passengers than appear on the original manifest

This one isn’t as cryptic as it sounds. Pregnant passengers are generally permitted to fly up until their 36th week of pregnancy, though some carriers will require a note from a doctor or midwife after 28 weeks. However, as many moms will attest, due dates aren’t always accurate. Some babies make their entrance earlier than expected, and occasionally, these surprise preterm births happen at 36,000 feet up.

When babies are born on international flights, determining citizenship can be quite a tricky matter. Usually, the child will be accorded the citizenship of one or both of its parents. Some countries, including the US, will also grant citizenship to a baby that is born within national airspace. Additionally, 70 countries have ratified or acceded to the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which says that a baby born on an aircraft is entitled to citizenship in the country where the plane is registered, but only if that baby would otherwise be “stateless.” Perhaps out of gratitude for the positive news coverage they bring for air carriers, some (though not all) babies born in flight have received perks from the airline where they made their debuts—including scholarships and free flights.

4. Flight crews want to get the door closed and the plane pushed back as fast as possible, even if they know they’ll be a tarmac delay

We know that everyone wants to get the plane in the air as fast as possible (well, except for that one guy casually blocking aisle with the full-size suitcase he insists will fit in the overhead bin), but the pilots and flight attendants are motivated not just by the desire to depart and land on time (for which they may receive some bonus pay), but also by the fact that, on many airlines, the crew isn’t paid until the plane door is closed and the parking brake of the plane is disengaged. Flight crews may receive some pay for long delays at the gate, but the pay gets much better when the plane pushes back.

While some airlines only pay the flight crew for the time they are actually in the air, most pay them once they leave the gate. While most pilots and flight attendants want to avoid delays altogether, if there’s going to be a delay, they’d much rather it be on the tarmac (where they get full pay) versus at the gate (where they get minimal or no pay).

3. Pilots have secret distress signals, though sometimes they mess them up

Pilots have ways to communicate, both verbally and nonverbally, that their plane is in distress. Obviously, we don’t know all the current ways that pilots signal problems on board to outside observers, but we do know some of what has been used in the past.

In the air, depending on the nature of the emergency, pilots are trained to set their transponder code (or “squawk” in pilot lingo) to a number corresponding to their situation, in order to alert air traffic control. Squawking 7500 signals hijacking, 7600 stands for loss of communications, and 7700 is a general emergency signal. Additionally, for a hijacking, a pilot would add the word TRIP following the aircraft designator (for example, “United TRIP 319”) when communicating with air traffic controllers, as an indicator that he or she was unable to communicate freely (likely due to monitoring by the hijacker[s]). In 2011, on a flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, a United pilot spilled coffee on the communications equipment, resulting in an accidental squawk of code 7500. The plane’s crew was able to confirm with officials on the ground about the communications error, though the plane was still diverted to Canada because of the issue. Another in-air distress signal involves flying the plane repeatedly in a triangular pattern, a maneuver that indicates to radar stations that the plane is unable to establish radio contact.

In the past, the plane’s wing flaps have been used to communicate distress on the ground. If the wing flaps were lowered while the plane was still on the ground, or full flaps were left down after landing, this signaled a request for immobilization of the aircraft and armed intervention. In 1986, a pilot inadvertently triggered a response by a SWAT team by taxiing for takeoff with the aircraft’s wing flaps down.

While some of these above techniques have been rendered less necessary by the fortified cockpit doors that became standard after the 9/11 attacks, there are still situations where these, and other distress signals, can provide necessary information about the plane’s situation to allow those on the ground to formulate a proper emergency response.

2. Pilots and copilots can’t eat the same meal

“Fish or chicken?” This question may be a vestige of the past on most domestic flights, but many international carriers still offer passengers a choice of entrée for long-haul flights. For the pilot and co-pilot though, the answer is pretty much set: they’ll each eat a different entrée. The reason for this is pretty obvious: eating different meals reduces the chance that both pilots will be incapacitated by food poisoning during the course of the flight.

This rule is not law, but is a policy at many airlines. A China Eastern pilot reports that generally the pilot takes a first class meal and the co-pilot takes one from business class. Lufthansa also confirms that it has an “unwritten rule” that pilots and co-pilots should avoid eating the same thing before the flight (for the same reason). Not every airline has this rule (though pilots may still follow it out of common sense), and even when pilots avoid the same meals, it’s not foolproof. In 1982, 10 crew members (including the pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer) became sick on a flight from Lisbon to Boston. Luckily the plane was less than an hour from its destination, and it was able to land safely. The crew had eaten different meals, but were sickened by the same dessert—tapioca pudding.

1. Your best chance for a free upgrade is to die mid-flight

There are many purported tricks for scoring a free seat in first class, but unless you are an elite frequent flier or pay for an upgrade (with money or miles), your chances of moving up from economy to first class are remote. There’s one exception—but not one many of us would be willing to pursue. If you die mid-flight, your body is likely to get a post-mortem upgrade.

Airline protocol means that, technically, very few people ever die on a flight, since death must be declared by a doctor to be officially recorded. However, when it’s clear to all onboard that a passenger has passed away, airline personnel are trained to move the body to a relatively private location. This could mean an empty row of seats, but those can be hard to come by on crowded flights. The first class cabin generally has more empty seats and offers more room to maneuver the deceased, so that’s where bodies are often moved, and usually covered by a blanket to avoid traumatizing the other passengers. Previous solutions relied on deception: one British Airways flight attendant recalls that “many years ago,” dead passengers were simply handled Weekend at Bernie’s-style–propped up with a drink, eyeshades, and a newspaper in the hopes that other travelers would assume they were just sleeping.

Singapore Airlines used to have a so-called “corpse cupboard” on A340s it used for long-haul flights, though when the planes were taken out of service, the company noted the compartments had never been called into action. There’s one place you won’t end up if you die on a plane: the bathroom. Because rigarmortis could make it hard to get the deceased out again, flight attendants are discouraged from moving dead passengers into the lavatory.

 


Secrets About Flying –

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WIF Travel

The NULL Solution = Episode 113

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The NULL Solution = Episode 113

…Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored closely…

The devil is in the details. While Skaldic seems to think he is closing in on a solution, the Gus-Roy-Fitch team is focusing on finding the back door to the blossoming Red Planet. They are striving to circumvent the vexing brainteaser, in favor of picking the lock.

 

Manned Rover

“What if we land on the other side from Harmonia, drop our hotrod/buggy prototype, the manned-rover people are working on, and get a closer look that way,” Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored by the doves in Washington. “We will sneak up on Harmonia, quiet like.”

Fletcher Fitch is usually the voice of reason, “We have not resolved the payload issue, Gus.”

Rick Stanley

“Don’t we have the drone that hauled Space Colony 1 in mothballs? Outfit it with a crew cabin, big enough for me and Rick Stanley and let’s go!”

Roy Crippen speaks for the ever-postponed AARP generation, “Rick Stanley is retiring this year. I’m not sure he wants to spend an entire year on one last rodeo.”

“Why don’t we leave that decision to him? He’s divorced, one of his kids is an aspiring astronaut and beside that, he is our lone remaining expert on the tow-drone… oh and the sub-light assist vehicle (SLAV) to boot.”

Manned Tow Drone

After giving some thought, Roy begins to change his tune. “The SLAV could get the drone to sub-space and we could re-fit the drone engines for speed.”

“2 months out, a month to explore and 2 months back. 6 months max, including the mission prep.”

“This whole idea is a stretch; it stretches both our manpower and our budget. You realize that, don’t you?”

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Sellers sell, fliers fly.  Gus M. does both. “Just remember, the riddle doesn’t apply to the opposite hemisphere… I don’t think.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 113


page 112

The NULL Solution = Episode 75

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The NULL Solution = Episode 75

…I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase…

Illustration by Jayden and Angela Keoghan

Image result for engage jean luc picard— Mach not Warp 4 would be more like it, but 3000 mph still gets it done. Cruising at 80,000 feet, Gus swears he catches a glimpse of something round and shiny.

“There’s a lot of tin up here Gus, you know that.”

“But we haven’t spotted Lorgan since the Korean Incident. Don’t you think it’s about time?”

“We cannot lay blame or give credit for everything that goes on around here on Lorgan.”

“Hey Roy,” it is Fletcher Fitch, “we just had a Lorgan sighting.”

“Roger that Fitch. Keep our eyes peeled for it or anything else that flies, crawls, swims or runs.”

“See what I mean! I am getting a nose for bogies.”

“You have a nose for dirty diapers, that’s what I think.”

“I was looking for a good excuse to get out of the house.”

I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase.

“Quail.”

“Wild McKinney chase. If a brain surgeon can deliver a baby, two rocket scientists should be able to solve a simple case of mistaken identity.”

“He did say alien, right? Engadin Airport to starboard – dropping below Mach 1. It’s 5 km to St. Moritz by ground. Did you did say he was going to meet us here?”

“He’ll be here, trust me, the guy is no quack.”

–30 minutes after touchdown–

“Where is the damned quack?!” Roy likes flying, but he hates wasting his time on ground transportation.

“I told you we should fly into Malpensa Italy. They have trains to St. Moritz 24/7.”

“Here he comes, I think – fancy car, one passenger and 40 minutes late. Lock‘er up Gus. We need it for the blast home — Dr. Picard, we were beginning to wonder.”

“It is an honor and a pleasure to meet you President Crippen. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Call him Prez Roy, everybody else does,” Gus extends his hand, “Gus McKinney… nice little patch of flat ground you have.”

“Gus McKinney from the famous space family, I feel like I already know you.” Now that they got the star-struck segment out of the way, “Sorry I’m late Prez Roy, but my patient woke up from Recovery and wanted to see her baby, if you want to call it a baby… he has an estimated I.Q. of a five year old already.”

“Did you say he? Well, if he asked you stop for a hamburger, I’d bet your accounts receivable that he is a McKinney.” Roy would never bet his own money.

“I’ll take that bet Roy and give you 5 to 1 odds that he isn’t, too many what ifs and impossible{s},” chimes in Gus.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, please refrain from gambling my practice away until you interview this incredible female. It took her a while, but she picked up the language quickly… after hours of sounding like a flute. She has quite a story to tell, doesn’t know how she got here though, and with all due modesty, I believe that I’m the only doctor who could have separated mother from child. It took me 12 hours.”

“And I bet she left her insurance card at home.”

“We have universal health care in Switzerland.”

“Literally.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 75


page 78

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 212

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 212

…Only one new model in four thousand years, how can that be, I think we may have made a slight miscalculation…

Miscalculation by Jared Hindman

The largest of these towering edifices opens its low-level gates, in order to swallow the NEWFOUNDLANDER. The giant size sliding doors draw apart slowly and they can almost hear the creaking of the glides due to a possible drought of inactivity. The well-traveled ship both lumbers and floats in, after the gap reaches its full extent.

The adult McKinneys cannot take their eyes off the still functioning monitors. They have entered into what appears to be a vehicular {space} gallery.

“Do you remember the EAA Convention in Wisconsin?” Sampson tests his wife’s premarital memory about a yearly gathering of flying machines, pilots, enthusiasts and an accompanying aviation museum.

“Yes I do. You wanted to show off something there to your buddies.” She was thinking about her inaugural introduction to his friends and fellow airborne buffs.

“Yeah Oshkosh, by gosh, and the P-51 Mustang I had been working on for 5 years!” That comment earns him a fist to the shoulder. She meant hers-truly. “There is every type of spacecraft imaginable here.

About that he is correct.

And then some; human eyes have not seen, nor can they imagine where some of these ships came from, though there a few that look like they were made by Earth’s own rocketeers, “That looks the first liquid-fueled rocket made by Robert Goddard in the 1920s! They made a movie about that Celeste. Stick an American Flag on that one.”

Identifying the antiques is easy. Just where the NEWFOUNDLANDER fits into this collection, only the folks of Planet X  would know, although that vacant slot on the right, near the end of this mindboggling menagerie seems to have NEWFOUNDLANDER written all over it.

“There is only one ship here that looks more advanced than this one.” He is baffled. Only one new model in four thousand years, how can that be? I think we may have made a slight miscalculation.” (like Wile E Coyote)


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 212


page 251

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