28 1/2 Hours

I made it to Hangzhou, China, last night. I had a good night’s sleep and figured out how to make tea this morning and I ate some snacks I brought with me for breakfast. Life is good. It is lightly raining outside, so this is a good chance to chill, manage the jetlag, and write.

It is amazing. I woke up in my bed at 5:30 am in Tennessee, showered, made a cappuccino, and arrived at the airport at 7:00. My flight departed at about 8:30 and landed in Detroit a little past 10:00. I had a nice long layover, then boarded my 13-hour flight for Beijing. I successfully navigated customs, immigration, baggage claim, and health quarantine. I arrived in Hangzhou at 8:30 pm China time, my driver was waiting for me, and about an hour later we arrived at my hotel. I was in my room at about 10:00 pm China time. That would be 28 1/2 hours if I did the math correctly.

And that’s the amazing part when you think about it. Just over a day’s travel and I’m 12 time zones away…half the way around the world! Let me repeat: half the way around the planet in only 28 1/2 hours! It’s easy to think of the world as this big place, almost limitless in size and scale. But it isn’t. Silly little planet.

When I was a kid, my family made frequent trips to see my great-grandmother Richards. I remember her well. She was born in the 1880s just 20 short years after the end of the Civil War. Think about that…I knew someone who was born when the Civil War was fresh in the minds of Americans. Could anyone have imagined then that in four short generations it would be possible for people to travel half the way around the infinite planet in 28 1/2 hours? And then write about it on a computer the size of a book and then share the story electronically with a global community? I don’t think so.

One way to measure progress is by how much smaller the world gets as time passes. Think about it. The world shrank with trains, automobiles, airplanes, spacecraft, and the internet. I am reminded of Carl Sagan’s famous speech about the “pale blue dot” based on an image of the Earth taken from the Voyager spacecraft (Google it).

It’s fascinating to think of this silly little planet four generations from now. Perhaps someone in 70 years who knows me today will say, “I remember as a kid this guy named Steve who told me that it took 28 1/2 entire hours to go half the way around the Earth. Can you imagine it taking that long??” Only people way smarter than me can predict how much smaller the planet will be then, but I bet people then will look back on autonomous cars the way we look back at buggy whips today.

OK, enough philosophy. Time for my first shower in China and then I’m off to see if there is a cappuccino out there with my name on it. Surely there is. It is just a silly little planet after all! While I search for that, here is a shot of the Milky Way that I took several years ago. I know I’ve posted this one before, but it always reminds me how small this silly planet is. Enjoy!

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