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Driving truck, and then just driving

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When I used to look for summer jobs, I always thought it would be instructive, if not entirely profound, to drive truck. I knew a few kids who had satisfied the CDL paperwork and suddenly boasted routes up and down I-5 transporting garlic and tomatoes. But the convenience of service jobs abounded, and I never got around to climbing aboard a rig; however, the romance of the job lingered until various high school classmates and then a member of my family joined the fleet and could properly devastate my illusions of the itinerant life. I had envisioned my career on the road as similar to an Altman film (more Nashville than Short Cuts), but the reported facts held me in a snare...

For the people I knew, driving truck involved abject loneliness, emotional eating, and a codependent relationship with The Flying J. I didn't even really get that you just slept in your truck, which perhaps lessened the glamor (I have a thing for hotels--the cheaper the better). So to better understand my beloved truckers, I began reading trucker blogs, such as Adventures in Trucking and Truck Driver Blog. I wanted to know how they kept themselves awake, conscious, sentient while driving such distances--I certainly have issues with road stamina, but could I improve it if trucking were my career? According to statistics, maybe not:

  • A 1995 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study found that of 107 heavy truck crashes, fatigue was a prominent factor in 75% of the run-off-the-road crashes, with 68% of long-haul drivers and 49% of short haul drivers suffering fatigue-related crashes. Working long shifts not only radically increases the risk of performance errors due to lost alertness and drowsiness, but it also impairs a trucker's ability to gain proper restorative sleep even when they have sufficient off-duty time for sleep. (Federal Highway Administration or FHWA, 1997)
  • The rist of a crash effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving alone. (FMCSA, 2000).

I'm not sure how many of you out there drive truck for a living, or know people who do, but I'm sure most of us have dealt with road fatigue. How do you stay awake? I have to listen--almost exclusively--to country (maybe it's the conspicuous narrative) and then if that doesn't work then some piston-esque energy drink and lots of deep breathing. When the breathing gets shallow and long on the exhale, you'd better pull off the road and get your Flying J on.

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iStock
Air New Zealand's London Pop-Up Restaurant Only Sells Airplane Food
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iStock

Bad airplane food is a cliché for a reason, but Air New Zealand is bucking the trend, Food & Wine reports. The airline's new in-flight menus feature culinary creations by New Zealand chef Michael Meredith and Peter Gordon, the Kiwi-born executive chef of London’s popular The Providores and Tapa Room. To promote their revamped meal options, Air New Zealand launched a free, two-day pop-up restaurant in London that serves nothing but airplane food.

The temporary outpost, called This is How We Fly, is running out of the Unit London gallery in Soho, but it's only sticking around for two days—April 25 and April 26 (which is today, which means you've only got a few hours left to give it a try). Patrons sit in airplane chairs and dine on options including “lamb with minted peas, braised lettuce with bacon lardons, and salt roasted crushed new potatoes with mint jelly" and a "yoghurt marinated chicken tikka with saffron pilaf jewelled rice, and aloo ghobi with spicy raita dressing,” according to Food & Wine.

Vegetarians were able to indulge, too, as the airline’s meatless dishes included “soy marinated tofu brown rice seaweed with sesame miso dressing and a chunky vegetable” and “tofu coconut curry with spinach and coriander green rice.” New Zealand wines and desserts like apple rhubarb and treacle tarts were also on the menu.

Air New Zealand didn’t simply wine and dine prospective flyers—they also surveyed them on their attitudes about airline food. The company questioned 1000 adults, and found that 25 percent of respondents preferred hospital menu options to airline cuisine. Meanwhile, half of respondents said they disliked airplane food. Still, customers were willing to reconsider their relationship with sky grub if it were made from fresher ingredients, or if menus featured a wider array of options.

Air New Zealand isn’t the only company in the South Pacific that's rethinking its approach to airplane food: Airlines flying out of the state of Queensland, Australia, have teamed up with a charity called OzHarvest Brisbane to collect uneaten sandwiches and snacks, which are then donated to more than 800 charities.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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AeroMobil
AeroMobil's Flying Car Could Land This Year
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AeroMobil

The flying cars of science fiction have always been a bit of a logistical nightmare: Vehicles in sky lanes zipping around, narrowly avoiding head-on collisions, and rarely meeting the ground. In other words, George Jetson probably would have needed some quality auto insurance.

The reality is still impressive, but a little more practical. This week, AeroMobil announced that their plainly named AeroMobil Flying Car—a small passenger plane that doubles as a street-legal vehicle—will be available for pre-orders beginning this year.

The four-wheeled plane (or winged car) has gone through several prototypes to get to a stage that AeroMobil says is in total compliance with current regulations for both aircraft and automobiles. A previous iteration used regular gas, could take off with 650 feet of airstrip, land on just 164 feet of strip, and reached speeds of up to 124 miles per hour. It also crashed during a 2015 test run in Slovakia. (The pilot, who deployed his parachute, survived.)

AeroMobil is keeping specs for their new, commercial version under wraps until April 20, when it plans on debuting the vehicle at the Top Marques Monaco industry trade show. The price is also TBD, but chief technical officer Doug MacAndrew told Business Insider last year that “it's not going to be cheap.”

[h/t Mashable]

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