sleeping alone and starting out early

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Archive for the ‘plane crash’ Category

Actually, "Snakes on a Plane" wasn’t that bad… jk jk jk

Posted by Jenna McWilliams on June 8, 2009

Coming late to the game, I finally watched that Samuel L. Jackson vehicle, Snakes on a Plane, this weekend on cable. It was–turns out the critics were right on this–the worst kind of bad movie: schlocky without wanting to admit it, seemingly unaware of how to spin absurd lines like “we have to put a barrier between us and the snakes.”

Back in 2006, paying ticketholders could at least endure by holding out the hope–indeed, the certainty–that they would get one crystalline moment of Jacksonesque indulgence when they would hear that immortal one-liner uttered by Jackson himself. My version of the line, as viewed through the dubbers of basic cable, was this:

Actually, I think I got the better end of the deal. Pre-release publicity efforts spread the original, unedited version of Jackson’s line across the entire interwebz, and the only uncertainty left for moviegoers was when Jackson would say the line. I got the extra layer of anticipation in wondering–since I knew the language wouldn’t pass cable censors–how they would dub the line, since they certainly couldn’t just edit it out entirely.

The dubbed line was one of two bright spots in what was otherwise a thorough waste of time. We–basic cable subscribers–get the joy of knowing what Jackson really says, even if we hadn’t had access to the pre-release hype. We also get the added layer of pleasure in knowing that the dubbers, knowing we know what Jackson actually says, decided to get a little playful. I expected Jackson to say “motherfreaking” or “motherfragging” or something of that ilk; “monkeyfighting” and “Monday to Friday” were such a surprise that I felt something that may have come close to the kind of joy the filmmakers were hoping for in writing the line–and, indeed, the entire movie–in the first place.

The second bright spot comes just after Samuel L. Jackson has had enough of the monkeyfighting snakes. (I don’t remember the name of the ‘character’ he ostensibly ‘plays’ in this film, and really there’s no point in pretending it’s worth my time to find out.) It turns out the plane is lacking a pilot and the surviving passengers need to find the most qualified person to try to lane the plane.

It also turns out the most qualified person is a young man named Troy, a bodyguard for the rapper 3Gs. As 3Gs points out, Troy has logged thousands of hours of flight time–though admittedly, it was all on a flight simulator program for PlayStation2. It doesn’t matter, though, because by the time this fact is revealed Troy’s already at the controls–and his command of the language of air control is nothing short of pure beauty. See, because it would be one thing if he had only enough competence to manipulate the controls, but his embodiment of the language, the body movements, the mindset of a pilot demonstrates near-mastery. It’s just…so well played.

Here’s the unedited version of the final minutes of the film. If you want to skip ahead to Troy’s landing, it’s at 5:25.

While you’re watching, do NOT question why Samuel L. Jackson thinks it’s a good idea to shoot the windows out of an unsteady airplane. Do NOT question why the flight attendants choose not to strap themselves in before the windows get shot out. And actually, don’t worry too much about why there might be monkeyfighting snakes on a Monday to Friday plane. It really doesn’t matter.

Posted in awesome, creativity, humor, joy, movies, plane crash, Samuel L. Jackson, snakes | 1 Comment »

How to survive: A public service announcement for the readers of sleeping alone

Posted by Jenna McWilliams on February 26, 2009

Because I’m here to serve you, today I offer you a plethora of help-sites and advice for surviving extreme accidents.

Surviving a Plane Crash: Sit in the Back
Common wisdom dictates that if your plane starts plummeting to earth, it doesn’t matter where you’re sitting&#8212you’re gonna be incinerated, smashed to bits, fully submerged in the ocean, perhaps eaten by sharks or crocodiles. In fact, a study of recent plane crashes suggests a high rate of survivability, as Tim Jepsen explains in the London Daily Telegraph:

[T]here were 568 plane crashes in the US between 1993 and 2000, involving a total of 53,487 passengers and crew. Of these, 51,207 – or over 90 per cent survived. Even on the 26 crashes deemed the worst, the study found that more than half the passengers and crew survived.

How to survive? Well, Jepsen writes, “you can be lucky, like the 155 passengers and crew of US Airways Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed on New York’s Hudson River, and enjoy a combination of luck, superlative flying and excellent staff training. Or you can take matters into your own hands.”

First, always book your seat in the rear of the plane. A Popular Mechanics study examined all commercial jet crashes in the United States since 1971 and found that the odds of survival are far greater for passengers sitting in the back of the plane.

Aside from booking a seat in the rear, there are other things you can do to increase your odds of survival in case of disaster. The folks over at HowStuffWorks offer the following tips:

  • Identify exits and count the rows between them and your seat–that way, if the plane descends into darkness you’ll be able to find your way to the exit.
  • Prepare for impact by assuming the official FAA crash position:

    extend your arms, cross your hands and place them on the seat in front of you, and then place your head against the back of your hands. Tuck your feet under your seat as far as you can. If you have no seat in front of you, bend your upper body over with your head down and wrap your arms behind your knees.

  • Wear crash-appropriate clothes: long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toe shoes. This can protect you from crash debris and, in case of survival, the elements.
  • If you’re flying with your family, discuss an emergency plan, including dividing any children between responsible adults.
  • Pay attention to the preflight emergency instructions&#8212all planes are different, and knowing the details of emergency procedures can drastically increase your odds of surviving a worst-case scenario.

If the above are too vague for you, Jepsen <a href="
” target=”_blank”>ponders air-crash survival strategies in greater detail, including a description of what to do during the “golden period” of escape, which he identifies as the first two minutes after impact. He also considers various conspiracy theories, including the argument from some skeptics that the established crash position is actually intended to kill you quickly and efficiently by breaking your neck and back&#8212″a deliberate ploy, they claim, to make your death as quick and painless as possible and reduce insurance costs.”

Surviving a Sky Diving Accident: Be the Right Kind of Person
On Feb. 2, Army Private Daniel Pharr, in his first-ever sky dive, survived through quick thinking when his instructor suffered a mid-air heart attack during their tandem jump. Though Pharr was a novice, he had paid attention during the instructional video and used what he had learned to direct the parachute to safe ground. This was harder than it seems, explains Ben Sherwood, the author of The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life:

It’s not easy for a newbie sky diver to land safely, especially with a dead man strapped to his back. If he had pulled on the handles too hard, for instance, Pharr might have gone into an uncontrollable spin. And yet, when everything went wrong, Pharr somehow did everything right.

Sherwood interviewed Christian Hart, a psychologist and veteran skydiver, who believes that in time of extreme stress, people emerge as one of two kinds of personalities: Either they refuse to quit, even as the odds of surviving dwindle to just above zero; or they resign themselves to death and wait for it to happen.

So there’s your tip: Be that first kind of person.

Second tip: Get really freaking lucky.

In 2005, Shayna West’s parachute and reserve failed to open and she plummeted thousands of feet before landing face-first in a parking lot. Not only did she survive, but the fetus she hadn’t known she was carrying survived as well. She carried the baby to term and gave birth to a healthy boy. To review: West landed on her face and presumably also on her stomach; she and the baby survived. She does appear to be the first kind of person&#8212she explains in an interview with CBS several months after the accident and 15 facial reconstruction surgeries:

Of course, as high up as I was, I was still about 3,000 feet off the ground, I was gonna give it a try. I was doing everything I knew to do to correct the malfunction. But, ultimately, I was prepared for it to be a fatal accident.

There is no other explanation of how West could possibly have survived a fall that, logically, should have ended both her and her child.

Surviving a Zombie Invasion: Take Refuge in a Country Farmhouse
Just kidding. There is no way to survive a zombie invasion.

Surviving a Shark Attack: Don’t Pee in the Ocean
Seriously. The smell of ammonia has been known to attract sharks, and when it comes to sharks, the best way to survive is to avoid them altogether. The Discovery Channel also advises avoiding defecating or vomiting in the ocean; if you really can’t hold it, try to fling whatever comes out of your orifices as far from yourself as you can.

If you do spot an approaching shark, try to splash and yell and make as much noise as you can. Though this runs counter to my common sense, Discovery explains that if sharks perceive their prey to be extremely large or powerful, they’re likely to look for easier hunting.

If a shark does attack, don’t play dead. Fight back by punching the shark in the eyes or the gills (not the nose), the shark’s most sensitive parts. If you’re bitten, get out of the water as soon as you can and find a tourniquet.

National Geographic offers many more tips for avoiding and surviving shark attacks here.

Keep in mind, however, that the risk of dying of a shark attack is small&#821215 times smaller than the risk of dying from a falling coconut.

Surviving a Falling Coconut: Cut Down the Offending Tree
In the late 18th century, British missionary William Wyatt Gill recorded the death of a concubine to King Tetui of Mangaia, an island in the Cook Island chain, due to a falling green nut. The king immediately had the tree cut down. No further deaths due to falling nuts, green or coco, were recorded on this island.

Posted in open education, plane crash, shark attack, sky diving, zombies | 3 Comments »