The Friendly Skies

I leave tomorrow for a week in Japan, courtesy of Sharp. We will, of course, visit Sharp factories, but another main event on the trip is CEATAC, the annual "Japanese CES." It actually isn't anywhere near as big as CES, but it is a show with a unique flavor all its own. And while I'm not sure we'll see anything we didn't see at the recent CEDIA Expo, you never know. Products are often introduced in Japan before they're exported overseas.

It's going to be a long flight. I'm prepared. I have my in-flight book picked out, the recently published Star Wars on Trial, edited by David Brin and Matthew Woodring Stover. It’s a pro/con discussion of the quality and significance of the movies (not the anti-missile defense!). Heavy reading! I found it recently while browsing in Barnes and Noble. Who says that brick and mortar stores are obsolete? No one has yet found a way to let you browse the shelves in quite the way in an on-line bookstore. But then no one has opened a brick and mortar store with the selection you can find on-line, either.

Of course I could just have plucked a book out of the dozens of as yet unread tomes crowding my own bookshelves. What good is a home library full of books you've already read, anyway?

The same can be said of a DVD collection. I'll never get caught up. I'm bringing my laptop, which I hope will connect to the plane's power system. I bought the adapter in a Mac store, so it probably won't work with my Mac. We'll see. I'm flying "Discount Business," which should mean some sort of laptop outlet. It also probably means a big, comfy seat with all the amenities and a peanut butter sandwich, or 12 across and filet mignon. Pass the Champaign down, please.

I hope I can get external power. My iBook's battery is good for about one hour of DVD watching. I've filled up my DVD case with DVDs I haven't yet found the time for. There are old TV shows like Bob Newhart and Hill Street Blues, newer ones like Northern Exposure, Smallville and Farscape (OK, I've seen Farscape but it's always worth a repeat visit, particularly the final episodes of Season 3). TV episodes can be digested quickly, and a lot of them fit on one DVD. But I did throw in a couple of movies and, of course, a few CDs (I'm still iPod-less). I also grabbed a few new TV episodes from iTunes—my first attempt at sampling this internet download service.

If there's one thread connecting all of these selections, it's that they really don't need to be watched on a big screen to enjoy. The only exception is Farscape, and as I said I've already seen those episodes—several times.

I even took the plunge and bought a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones for the trip. Yes, it was a tough decision; it's my first Bose-anything from the company that many audiophiles love to put down. But the QuietComfort phones may just be their best product. I'll have more to say about them—and the trip in general—when I get back.