Notes on traveling to Argentina and Brazil (spring vacation 2014) — March 2, 2014

Notes on traveling to Argentina and Brazil (spring vacation 2014)

The first thing I would like to say about this trip is that it was awesome. Buenos Aires resembles Paris in a lot of really amazing ways (including an abundance of dogs, though BA does a much worse job cleaning up after them), and Iguazu Falls is really awe-inspiring; the several hundred (sic) waterfalls make Niagara look like a piker.

The second thing to note is that the currency situation is completely bizarre. I include this second because it unfortunately consumed a large part of our trip and our mental energy. The basic gist is that Argentina is experiencing hyperinflation, which would lead to a plummeting exchange rate with the US dollar if the market were allowed to do its thing. But the market is not allowed to do its thing; Argentina is under currency controls. The most important upshot of this for tourists is that there is a massive disconnect between the official exchange rate and the unofficial rate, the latter of which is called the “blue dollar”. The blue dollar even has a Twitter feed to track its current exchange rate; the blue rate is currently 11.3 pesos to the dollar. Contrast this with the official exchange rate, currently 7.89 to 1. If you withdraw cash from an ATM or use a credit card, you’ll get the official rate, which means you’ll be paying (11.3/7.89)-1 = 43% more for any given item than you should be.

I expected that it would be fairly easy to get the blue rate. It probably would have been if I had planned things more deliberately ahead of time. My understanding is that most hotels will hook you up with someone who can get you the proper rate. Once we had a waiter in a restaurant change $20 for us at 10 pesos to the dollar. Another time I asked a cashier at a café to change money at the blue rate, and he reacted as though I had just asked him, “Hey, do you have any drugs?” while he’s standing next to a cop. “No blue dollar,” he said; “just the official rate.”

We ultimately got 10 pesos to the dollar from Mobile Wechselstube, which delivered money to us by bicycle while we sipped cold drinks at a café. So if we were to do it again, I think we’d

1. Change a small amount of money at the airport, just to get a cab to our AirBNB.
2. Pre-arrange with Mobile Wechselstube to deliver to us at a café, or arrange with a friend to get 11-to-1.

It has to be mapped out ahead of time, though. That, I think, is the final lesson in all of this. In general, I hope I’ll be a lot more deliberate in my foreign-travel preparations from now on.

The exchange-rate situation is part of a larger story that I really need to understand in detail, given that it overlaps with a number of my interests and seems to intersect with larger parts of Argentine history. In capsule form (which is most of what I know at the moment): the current president, Cristina Kirchner, is the widow of the former president, Néstor Kirchner, who in 2007 fired the head of the agency for official statistics (Indec) when it dared to publish an estimate of inflation that was markedly higher than what the government said it was. The government has continued to insist on its inaccurate inflation numbers since 2007, apparently having gutted Indec’s autonomy in the meantime. The IMF took the strong step within the past few months of censuring the Argentine government over its statistical practices. Official statistics are in many ways central to the functioning of a modern industrial democracy; it’s a testament to the United States that our official statistics (the Census Bureau and the BLS specifically) are almost universally respected, with the exception of some cranks. I’d love to understand the institutional structures that keep our statistics collection independent. I’d also like to understand how the IMF can confirm that a nation is playing a game of funny buggers with its inflation statistics.

Back to our more-local story: if you get the blue exchange rate in Argentina, everything is really cheap. For instance, we had the best meal of our lives at Casa Felix for 400 pesos per person, including wine pairings. At 11.3 pesos to the dollar, that’s $35.39 per person for what — I repeat — was the best meal of our lives, including wine.

Indeed, flying around was the most expensive part of the trip, by far. Looking through my receipts, it looks like the whole trip cost $6500, of which about 70% was the airfare. Housing through AirBNB was only about 8% of the total cost.

We took the free walking tour around Buenos Aires, which I would highly recommend. It’s funded entirely through tips for the tour guides. We gave ours $20, and it seemed like most others on the tour did as well. Our tour guide was named Magdalena; she was charming as hell. I was concerned going into the tour that it would be propagandistic, or rather that it would whitewash the parts of Argentine history that don’t fit a pleasant narrative. Maybe I’ve been mis-trained by Boston tours, whose theme is basically “Boston was central to the American Revolution … and then a few hundred years passed.” No Joseph Rakes attacking Ted Landsmark with a flag pole there. So I was pleasantly surprised that Magdalena didn’t shy away from discussing the Dirty War.

You have to see tango while you’re there. I can’t pretend that I know The Best And Most Authentic Tango Spot In All Of Buenos Aires, but I would like to direct your favorable attention to Buenos Ayres [sic] Club. The night we went, dancing was in full effect, and El Afronte was blowing everyone’s minds. I must own their music now.

We saw something that is seemingly quite a lot less authentic the next night, having had our whistles wetted by El Afronte. This was Bar Sur. It’s run down, a little sad, and entirely surreal; I guess it’s a Porteño’s vision of what a tourist in Buenos Aires thinks tango is. I’m glad we saw El Afronte first; it was achingly intimate and lovely. (Bar Sur was 200 pesos per person after the doorman bargained himself down. I think his initial offer of 400 pesos, or whatever it was, was entirely for effect. The place was almost empty that night.)

Overall our itinerary was: first night in Palermo Hollywood, fly up to Iguazu, spend a few nights there, then fly back and spend a few nights in Palermo (near the Bulnes Subte station). Palermo is a really nice neighborhood to spend your time in; I would highly recommend it. Recoleta is also nice, but Palermo is more transit-accessible. The city has 40-some barrios, and we only saw maybe five of them, so I can’t say that we’ve landed on the one objectively correct place to stay. But we did well. We really enjoyed ourselves. If we were to do it all over again, I think I’d spend one day less — or maybe ideally half a day less — in Iguazu. And I’d probably explore San Telmo more during the day; our only encounter with it was the milonga at night, and a restaurant just before the milonga that was completely empty other than the two of us.

Speaking of which, a word on the Buenos Aires schedule: I don’t understand it at all. We’d heard from nearly everyone, guide books included, that Argentines start eating dinner around 10, and routinely go to bed around 2. You’d think, then, that their schedules would be shifted four hours or so ahead of the standard American one: Porteños would wake up at 10 or 11, get into work at noon, and leave around 8 or 9 pm. Then they’d come home, eat late, party, and start the cycle all over again. Yet in our week there, I don’t think we managed to understand exactly how the schedule worked. We definitely seemed to hop on the Subte at rush hour circa 9 or 10 am, and again at 6pm or so. And restaurants were deserted when everyone had suggested that they’d be packed. Were we picking the wrong restaurants? Or m’lady’s hypothesis: everyone who visits Buenos Aires, including guide book authors, is pulling a massive joke on the rest of us. Argentines want their restaurants to be free of tourists when it’s time for the natives to dine, so they tell everyone else to show up at 11pm. Here in Boston, a similar strategy would be to tell tourists that positively *everyone* drinks at Cheers and eats at Legal Seafoods, thereby leaving lots of free space at the bars we *actually* frequent.

If you’re lucky enough to spend more time in Buenos Aires than we did, maybe you can come back and explain to me how it works. Or maybe you’re in on the conspiracy too.

Tools for making the impossible possible — January 29, 2012

Tools for making the impossible possible

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about tools that help make the difficult easy, which has got me thinking again about probably my favorite quote of all time, by A.N. Whitehead:

> It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilisation advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.

I think about this at work all the time, because our use of SQL makes possible a lot of data-gathering and -analysis tasks which really would have been impossible without it. Answering some question about many thousands of servers (100,770 as of the end of September, 2011) would be unimaginable. Certainly getting many *quick* answers to many *quick* queries would be absolutely unimaginable. Without some tool that allows quick aggregation across many different datasets, we’d have to resort to home-brewed scripts that, say, ssh to thousands of machines in parallel and ask them questions. Or we’d have to reinvent Query, more likely.

There are two aspects to SQL that I think about constantly at work: first this trick of turning an impossible problem into a triviality, and second the sense of *playfulness* that it enables. It takes only a tiny bit more effort to turn from the question you were trying to answer into something unexpected, something more general, or something more nuanced. Often answering questions that you didn’t know you had involves finding a table you didn’t know the company published, which in turn involves asking around to see who would know best about a given kind of data. Finding answers to questions you didn’t know you had seems to me part and parcel of what SQL is all about.

The term “generative technology” gets at this. I would link to the first Google search result for this, except that I don’t really like how Jonathan Zittrain — who is, in fairness, most associated with this term — runs with it. iPhones versus non-iPhones isn’t really at all related to what I have in mind here, and I don’t think the definition he has there gets at what even he means by it. The term “generative” comes ultimately from generative grammar, which my non-linguistically-trained self understands to mean “a set of simple rules for the formation of sentences, which rules can be combined in infinitely many ways to construct infinitely many distinct sentences.” In mathematics, think of axioms and rules for their combination: there aren’t that many axioms defining the integers, but they can be combined with only a few more rules (about ordered pairs and what, exactly, multiplication of two ordered pairs means) to build rational numbers, and thence real numbers, and thence complex numbers. The simple axioms, and simple rules for their combination, lead to infinitely complex objects.

(Because I cannot resist a filthy quote when given the opportunity, it’s here that I’ll quote Stephen King’s advice on writing: ‘When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.’)

And so it is with SQL and other generative technologies. They don’t give you a single product that you use in the 10 or 20 or 100 ways that you’ve been told to use it; in this sense, I view Facebook as non-generative. A generative technology, like Unix or SQL, might have a steep learning curve, but once you’ve learned it you can do infinitely many things.

There are lots of complexities once you’ve learned the atoms, and even once you’ve learned how to combine the atoms. In Unix, for instance, your first task is learning to string together programs with pipes. Once you’ve done that, you’ll soon enough be writing your own programs. but you have to write them in the Unix Way, which often involves allowing them to sit with a pipe on their left side and a pipe on their right; in this way, they themselves become part of the generative toolkit. Again, invoking Whitehead, the point is to make complicated action reflexive and doable without thinking. Take a common Unix pattern:

[some commands] | sort | uniq | sort -nr

This takes the output of [some commands] — assumed to contain one interesting pattern per line — and displays it in descending order of frequency, with the frequency in the left column and the pattern on the right. This isn’t many characters, so typing it out becomes second nature; the smart thing to do, though, would be to put this Unix fragment in its own script, which we might call sort_by_pop (or really ‘popsort’, which would save you some keystrokes: there’s already a command that starts with ‘sort’, but no commands that start with ‘pops’, so ‘popsort’ would be easier to get from tab-completion; Unix people think this way):

(19:44 -0500) slaniel@example.com~$ cat sort_by_pop
#!/bin/bash
sort |uniq -c |sort -nr

Now you can just pipe things through sort_by_pop if you want to sort them by popularity:

(19:44 -0500) slaniel@example.com:~$ grep -o ‘^[^ ]+’ access.log |sort_by_pop |head
607 46.165.197.141
520 173.242.125.206
309 199.21.99.67
229 130.195.253.1
169 66.249.71.18
162 72.14.199.102
83 72.246.0.10
37 142.167.21.94
34 198.228.223.217
33 80.58.205.47

Hm, what’s that grep(1) bit? Looks like that bit of script could be usefully abstracted into something called ‘get_ip’:

(19:48 -0500) slaniel@example.com:~$ cat get_ip
#!/bin/bash
grep -o ‘^[^ ]+’

whence we simplify to “cat access.log | get_ip | sort_by_pop”. Now you don’t need to understand the nuances of how sort(1) and uniq(1) work if you don’t want to; in fact, you may never need to know that those atomic tools are sitting underneath your molecular abstractions. If you trust the person who wrote the tools, you can assume that get_ip gets an IP address from a suitably formatted Apache access log, and that sort_by_pop sorts a file containing one pattern per line in descending order of popularity.

And so forth. The idea is to constantly combine the atoms of your knowledge into larger and larger molecules, which allows you to forget about the individual atoms unless you really need them. (Where you often need to remember the atoms is for performance reasons.)

In SQL, one way of combining atoms into higher-order molecules is by means of views. A view is a new table (“relation” for the relational-calculus purists in the room) constructed from lower-order “base tables”. There may be some very clever way to get by without views, but I don’t know what it might be. Often you’ll end up with a query that requires you to join one complicated sub-query to itself; without views, you’d be repeating the sub-query, which would probably involve copying and pasting a bunch of text. This would make editing one of the sub-queries a hassle, because you’d have to repeat your edits once for every sub-query. With views, you create the view once, give it some shorthand name, then use the shorthand on every subsequent reference. Any edit only has to happen once, in the view. Again, the point is to make higher-order thought effortless.

(Java, by contrast, requires so much boilerplate that it gets in the way of quickly scanning a piece of code and understanding what it’s trying to do. Either that, or it requires the developer to carefully shunt his boilerplate off into a little boilerplate area of his code. Or it requires the code reader to develop a finely honed skill of skipping over boilerplate. One organizing principle for writing code of any sort ought to be that it puts the least possible distance between the task you’re envisioning and the code you write for it.)

Having developed such a love for SQL, and having long ago learned how to build high-order castles in Unix, I’m now on the hunt for other generative technologies that will make difficult tasks possible. My goal for 2012 is to discover such a set of technologies for time series. It’s not just a matter of writing formulas that allow me to manipulate time series in any way I see fit, though that’s hard enough (it will probably involve R, and may also involve [book: Data Analysis with Open Source Tools], recommended in the highest terms by my awesome friend Dan Milstein). And it’s not just a matter of manipulating them in a way that makes exploring them, combining them, and being surprised possible, though that’s part and parcel of the generative idea.

Rather, the difficulty with making these things work right starts, it seems to me, way down in the guts. Akamai’s Query system is brilliant — one of the most brilliant technologies I’ve ever seen at a company, central to everything I do at every minute of every day — and works so well because there’s a lot of stuff going on under the hood which, again, I mostly don’t need to think about. The low levels do break, just as they do in any software system (all abstractions are leaky); and when they break, I’m forcibly reminded that all my simplifying abstractions rest very tentatively on a lot of lower-level foundations. Without someone doing a lot of low-level grunt work, Whitehead’s dictum doesn’t hold. (Perhaps the grandest abstractions of all in the modern world are “the market economy” and “industrial democracy” — abstractions that we forget are based on very concrete things like cheap fossil fuels or policemen who will enforce contracts at the point of a gun.) In the case of SQL, someone has to build a backend data-storage method that allows quick lookups. In the case of time series, what will the backend storage system look like? Will we need something like MapReduce? Do we need a different high-level language to concisely encapsulate high-level time-series concepts like “the trend component” or “the spectrum”?

Here is the place to note a lesson that I find I have to repeat to myself over and over: don’t think any harder than you need to. My interest in time series is very non-abstract; I have some specific questions I want to answer about some specific datasets at work. And yes, I want to make sure that I can combine them in new and interesting ways in a reasonable amount of time. But until I’ve asked a single specific question of a single specific dataset, I shouldn’t think too hard about making an apple pie from scratch.

So anyway, there’s a general point in here, and a specific one. The general point is to hunt for abstractions that make it possible to get a lot done without thinking, and make it possible to explore areas you didn’t even know you *could* explore. The specific point is that in 2012, I want to see what I can do with Akamai’s time-series data. I imagine one of these points will be interesting to you, the other less so.

I hate the word “staycation”. However. — June 19, 2011

I hate the word “staycation”. However.

…it is probably the most accurate word to describe what will be happening in a month or so. Right around a month from now will be the start of my two-week vacation, ending in early August. I am very much looking forward to it. I planned nothing in advance for that period, and just assumed I’d figure out what to do when the time came.

My experience with planning summer vacations is that there are essentially two possibilities: either

1. Go to some lovely, exotic locale and pay a lot to get there (and probably pay a lot for housing while there). I did this in the Bahamas a while ago. I did this in Turkey a whiler ago. (Istanbul is the most amazing place I’ve ever been.)

2. Go to Cape Cod (nearby vacation destination of choice for people in the Commonwealth) and pay a lot to stay there, if you can find a place at all.

So I was mostly pleased to realize this year that I do not have the free cash to do either 1) or 2). Instead I’ll be hanging out in Cambridge/Boston [1] and in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Exeter, Portsmouth, Newburyport, Portland, and points in between). I’m very excited about this. I’m going to spend two weeks going to all the places I’ve meant to go to for years. I’m going to walk the Freedom Trail in full (it goes into Charlestown, whereas I’ve basically only walked the parts right near the Common). I’m going to hit as may restaurants as I can that people have recommended (Duck Fat and Toro come immediately to mind). I’m going to go to many bars. I’m going to spend time on many beaches with my lovely girlfriend. I’m going to buy a Boston guidebook and find anything that people always do with their tourist friends but never do on their own (minus Cheers — screw a lot of that) This will be great.

I hereby open up the comments thread to nominations for things to do during my “staycation.”

__Update (20 June 2011)__: I’ll include things here that people have suggested or have come to my mind:

* Day trip to Newport, Rhode Island. Might be annoying to get there by mass transit (commuter rail to Providence, then two buses), but I could see if my lady would like to drive with me.
* A friend reports: “You know, across the bay from Newport are the towns of Tiverton (Four Corners) and Little Compton, which are genuinely two of the most beautiful small towns in New England. Little Compton also has Goosewing Beach, a little-known gem.”
* A water park somewhere, with the lady and her son.
* Learn to sail through Community Boating, Inc.
* Lobster rolls at one or more clam shacks in Essex (see this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece about Gloucester and its clams).
* Bread in Plymouth, via Chowhound.
* Kolbeh of Kabob, 1500 Cambridge Street in Cambridge, also via Chowhound
* Museums at Harvard:
* The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, open 11 – 4 Monday through Thursday and 11-3 on Fridays during the summer. That’s for the Putnam Gallery in Science Center 136. The Foyer Exhibition Space is in Science Center 371, open M-F 9-4. Inquiries: 617-495-2779.
* The Museum of Natural History at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge. It’s open daily 9-5 with special “Summer Nights at the Museum 2011: Fourth Wednesdays, June 22, July 27, August 24, and Extended hours, 5-8 pm, with half price admission”. It’s also “Free to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to noon”
* The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at 11 Divinity Ave in Cambridge. It’s “open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
* The Semitic Museum at 6 Divinity Ave, open “Monday-Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.”
* The Warren Anatomical Museum, “part of the Countway Library of Medicine’s Center for the History of Medicine. The Museum’s Exhibition Gallery, which displays 300 cases and artifacts from the larger collection, is located on the 5th floor of the Countway Library.” The Countway Library is in the Longwood Medical Area at 10 Shattuck St.
* The Sackler Art Museum, Busch-Reisinger, and Fogg museums at 485 Broadway in Cambridge, open TuesdaySaturday, 10am5pm.

* To quote a friend:

> – Providence:
> – New Rivers
> – La Laiterie
> – Red Dog
> – check out the RISD Museum
>
> – Tiverton Four Corners
> – Gray’s Ice Cream
>
> – Newport
> – Scales and Shells
> – whatever else the NY Times said
>
> – Portsmouth NH
> – there are some good places, but I can’t remember the names!
>
> – Portland
> – Hugo’s
> – Fore St
> – Cinque Terre
> – the art museum in Portland is pretty good, too

[1] – Adam and I have been trying to figure out whether there’s a good phrase to encapsulate the urban core of Boston. Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline are in the core. Framingham, say, is not. The narrowest designation that the Census Bureau seems to work with is the Boston MSA, for Metropolitan Statistical Area, which extends all the way into New Hampshire. I will not be hanging out in something as wide as an MSA.

Wenceslas Square Google Street View happy discovery of the day — September 24, 2010

Wenceslas Square Google Street View happy discovery of the day

Years ago I went to Prague by myself and took a lot of (in retrospect very earnest and juvenile) notes in a diary. I remember very clearly being overwhelmed as I sat on the steps of the National Museum: in front of me was a very simple memorial to Jan Palach, who had committed suicide by lighting himself on fire in front of the Museum. The memorial was a tattered wooden cross embedded in the cobblestones on the street. Right across the street from the memorial … is a McDonald’s. My brain couldn’t handle the dissonance, and even now I get a little sick thinking of it.

I decided to see if both these details were in Google Street View. Indeed they are. Check out the Palach memorial, then turn about 45 degrees to your left.

The simplicity and solemnity of the one, against the ugliness and plasticity of the other, is haunting to me in a way that few other things are.

Barack Obama…for state senate! — June 22, 2010

Barack Obama…for state senate!

Back when I was in college (Carnegie Mellon class of 2000), a friend who was attending the University of Chicago gave me a placard that was posted hither and thither on Chicago’s South Side: a dorky-faced guy with a ridiculously toothy grin smiling out at us. It read

“Barack Obama

for state senate”

My buddy Josh and I thought this was hilarious. Over the years, we turned the guy on the placard into a superhero. We’d be studying for one hard exam or another and would say to one another, “You know who could ace the piss out of this test right now?” The other would respond, “*Barack Obama!*” to which the first would respond, inevitably, “…*for state senate!*” Or we’d be at the gym: “Man, these weights are *tough*! … Know who could lift them without breaking a sweat?” “*Barack Obama!*” “…*for state senate!*”

The years go by. It’s 2004. There’s a dude up on the stage at the Democratic National Convention who’s making everyone ask, “Why do I have to vote for Kerry? Why can’t I vote for this guy?” Josh and I called one another: “Uh … dude, do you see who’s on stage right now?” It was surreal.

It’s still surreal. Every few months it occurs to me afresh that Josh and I were making this obscure local politician the punchline of a joke probably a decade before he became president of the United States. Bizarre.

Google to acquire my former employer for $1 billion? — April 21, 2010

Google to acquire my former employer for $1 billion?

If so, then holy fucking shit. Seriously.

A while back, I mentioned that Google was now in the business of giving multimodal travel directions: MBTA, say, to mass-transit system to mass-transit system to Amtrak. I mentioned that it would only be a matter of time before they’d connect up to airlines, etc.

What I didn’t mention there, but have always believed, is that the airline piece is something that only ITA could handle. They’ve been working on the problem of finding the cheapest flight between two cities for their entire history; if Google wanted to add airlines to its route-finding software, it would either have to reinvent what ITA did, or acquire ITA. Given that it took ITA the better part of a decade, and a team of the smartest people you could find, to solve this problem, it’s always been obvious that Google would acquire ITA rather than build this technology itself. If Google is planning to add air travel to its route-finding software, it follows that they’d have to acquire ITA.

ITA is sitting on the best kind of monopoly you can hope for: they’ve solved a problem that no one else can solve. They deserve any success that comes their way. And they can name their price if Google comes knocking. If Google decides not to buy, but they want to add air travel to their software, they’ll have to spend at least five years trying to do it. They’ll probably have to poach large numbers of ITA employees. They’ll need to hire people away from the airlines themselves. I’m no business strategist, but it certainly seems like ITA has them over a barrel here.

I, for one, bow deeply in the direction of ITA’s headquarters on Portland Street in Cambridge. If this works out the way it’s looking, then congratu-fucking-lations to you folks.

I’m still kind of in shock, even though this all makes perfect sense.

Reasons to maybe not feel entirely confident when flying Bahamasair — April 3, 2010

Reasons to maybe not feel entirely confident when flying Bahamasair

Stephanie’s and my Bahamasair flight from Stella Maris to Nassau was half an hour late yesterday (I’ve decided to use the phrase “Bahamian efficiency” from now on), so I had time to examine the airline’s new statement of principles on the check-in room’s wall. Their principles, in order, are

* Safety
* Security
* Regulatory compliance
* Quality

A few paragraphs down, the airline affirms that these are their principles, *regardless of how the airline behaved in the past*.

First of all, you have to arch your eyebrow a little bit at the presence of “regulatory compliance” in that list. I have a number of principles, which I adhere to inconsistently, but “abiding by the law” is one that I don’t feel it necessary to list; I take that one for granted.

Secondly, the regardless-of-the-past clause seems like the sort of thing you write while walking away from the smoking hulk of one of your aircraft. “Fresh start,” you say to yourself while dusting the soot off your clothing and bandaging your bloody calves. “Yessir, Bahamasair is a *new company*, starting right now … not that we had much choice, given that our only plane is disappearing beneath the North Atlantic even as we speak. STILL, though! New company. Yep.”

We made it back to Nassau in one piece. I’m pretty sure the Stella Maris-to-Nassau plane was the smallest such vehicle I’ve ever traveled on: I had to fold my body in half to fit under the ceiling on the way to my seat. If you’re a ten-year-old child, though, you will have no problem at all flying in a Bahamasair plane.

(I wish the Bahamasair principles document were on the web, but it sadly appears not to be.)