On the flight from LA to Albuquerque today, I was quite excited to see Batman walk onto the plane and sit directly behind me. I had a brief reverie about serendipitously finding myself on the Batplane, filled with awesome technology. Then I was sobered by the thought of how long it would take flight attendants to explain Bruce Wayne designed technology when they had taken decades to memorize the patter about seat belt buckles. My excitement further waned when I realized that it was not Batman but was, instead, just a pony-tailed Val Kilmer.
I'm new to New Mexico. It is, as my son points out, neither. New nor Mexico, that is.
New Mexico is on fire. Today the Los Alamos Lab was shut down for evacuation. The sky is ugly when - a local assured me - it is normally a big sky, blue and unencumbered by an excess of architecture. Smoke was billowing off the peak of the mountain range between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
One little known fact about Santa Fe is that it is only 40 miles away from Las Vegas. An (apparently) better known fact about Santa Fe is that it is not 40 miles away from that Las Vegas. (That Vegas is 630 miles away.)
The older I get, the more puzzled I am that more communities don't do what Santa Fe seems to have done. The city obviously has zoning ordinances that dictate a particular style, the flat roof, pueblo building that one associates with the southwest. People travel from all over to see this unique city which is not exactly surrounded by natural beauty. It is colorful, has some great buildings, fascinating art galleries and a plethora of shops and restaurants. Unlike a trip to, say, Ohio, a trip to Santa Fe actually takes you to some place you haven't been before.
Back to the flight. Planes are oddly intimate places where one is in close proximity to strangers. My favorite moment in the flight today was when the little girl across from me put down her Harry Potter book and calmly buckled her doll into the seat beside her. As we took off, the woman across the aisle and one row ahead grew visibly agitated as we taxied. Then, when the pilots accelerated, she squeezed her eyes closed and crossed herself, as the man across from her looked over at her. He did not need to cross himself for assurance: he was wearing a yarmulke. Dolls, signs, and holy hats as a way to deal with the anxiety of modern technology. No wonder we create super heroes, even if they look very ordinary without their makeup and special effects team.