I'm back from my European Vacation. I have just won at getting out of the airport. I am the best at this.
I used to be quite relaxed about getting out of the airport. When air travel was novel, I wouldn't rush, but would take my time. These days, I find travel increasingly tedious (to the extent of fantasizing of a Nero Wolfe-style existence where I never have to leave my own home), and so aim to minimize the time between wheels-down and getting my backside onto my couch at home. I suppose it's a result of living so close to the airport, that I know that it should be possible that leads me to strive to optimize the journey. I think I've now almost perfected it, since on this trip I managed to get back to my home roughly thirty minutes after the scheduled arrival time. I got a little help from an early arrival, but was otherwise unaided.
There are a couple of fairly obvious steps involved. First, is to only bring carry on luggage. This means no waiting around at baggage reclaim, and also reduces the opportunity for evil thieving airline operatives for stealing your stuff. Next is to make sure you get from the plane to immigration as quickly as possible. Partly this reduces the time, but mostly because if you hit immigration at the back of three hundred people off a 767 you can have a very long wait. So walk swiftly from the plane to immigration, and you can usually get almost to the front (don't run; this looks suspicious, and they may shoot you). Because the trip is a long one (this gives the airline more time to shift baggage to reclaim, a recent trick), you can usually overtake a lot of people here. Look out for shortcuts: I haven't spotted any at EWR, but I know of two at LGW, where you can take a side route, and go up or down some stairs, instead of going along a very long and gently sloping ramp (this bit always reminds of a Doom level, at least in the abstract).
So, having set a new record for getting home from the airport, I'm still knackered with jet lag, and probably will be so for the rest of the week. Ah well.
* The woman next to me on the flight spent the entire seven hours working her way steadily through a giant book of Sudoku puzzles, all of which (that she did) were categorized "easy". Why? What's the point of that? Surely the appeal of following the very simple procedure required to solve 'easy' puzzles must pall after a few hours?
* The in-flight entertainment had an entire channel devoted to House. Yippee! Of course, I'd seen all the episodes (they had three episodes from the end of season one on a continuous loop), but it was good to see them again. Points of note: for some reason (rights?) they had changed the theme music to something that didn't even remotely sound like Teardrop. You occasionally see DVDs of TV shows where they note that they don't have the original music, but this is the first time I've really noticed it.
Second, in one episode House sends his team to check out something in Short Hills (which is close to where I live, and one of the most expensive towns in America), and they complain, since it is a two hour trip. He also intructs them to keep the receipts from the tolls. This is weird, since to get from Princeton to Short Hills is much more like a 1 hour drive, and there's no need to go on a toll road: you can do 202/206 to 287, then along 78. I suppose they are thinking of Route 1 to the Garden State, but then you spend so short a time on the Garden State, that the toll is only about 70c, so it's hard to see why it would be worth keeping the receipt. Maybe that was the joke, but I think it's just another example of the pitfalls of pretending that House takes place in New Jersey when it's made in California.