Automate Airplane Drink Ordering Service

Quick idea for making airplane drink service more efficient.

Instead of flight attendants taking drink orders row by row as they go back in the plane, and serving them row by row—speed things up by allowing passengers to use the seatback screen to select from a list of items. The attendants will see the orders on a handheld device they carry. No need to explain which juices or sodas are available, or the cost of alcoholic drinks. It’s right on your screen. With the order details and seat number in hand, service will be much quicker.

Bonus idea: allow ordering your drink type ahead of the flight—when booking, for example—so flight crews can stock and prepare the drinks ahead, saving inventory and time.

Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves.

—Bertrand Russell

(Via Oprah Magazine.)

Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery Series (Review)

I discovered M. L. Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series via Erin, who heard it on NPR’s Crime in the City series: Mystery Writer Weaves Intricate Puzzles In Sleepy French Town. The books are a delightful mix of mystery, travel writing, and memoir.


The 3 books in the series so far—a 4th is due out, and a 5th is in writing—pleased me on multiple levels. The writing and characters are engaging and interesting, full of daily details about food and drink, city life, and poignant regional commentary about Provence and France.

The mysteries are thrilling and exciting, echoing other classics in the genre that showcase a lead investigator and his team of sidekicks—both official and otherwise.

Most of all, since I spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence as a college student, I connected with the regional and linguistic side of the stories as the narrative and descriptions brought back memory after memory, both sensory and geographical. I know these streets! I know these people!

Superbe, Mme Longworth.

August Mystery Photo Revealed

Congrats, Lisa! You were right – the critter up in the tree was a raccoon. The sun was long gone and we were finishing up an afternoon of birding at Sweetwater Wetlands. So, the only other photo I have is not a very good one either but at least you can see that distinctive mask.

The photo I used for the Challenge was taken with my flash on (worth a try) and I was rewarded with a classic case of eyeshine.

Eyeshine is pretty common in nature since most creatures (except humans) have tapetum, a special membrane behind the retina that reflects light back through the eye. This light recycling feature helps nocturnal animals see better in the dark.

One of the neatest things about eyeshine is that the color differs between species. So, it could help you identify just exactly which critters are going bump in the night. As we saw in the Challenge photo, raccoons eyes glow yellow, deer eyeshine is white or bright yellow, cows and horses glow blue-green, coyotes and mountain lions shine greenish-gold, rabbits and bears reflect red. Obviously, you will need to consider other features such as size when using eyeshine. I would hate to mistake a bear for a rabbit, if you know what I mean.