I wrote this the other day, before I sorted out the proxy server here and got myself completely connected to the Intertron.
Flying to Germany was remarkably painless. I've decided that longer flights are less objectionable than shorter ones, mostly because they use larger planes and sedate me with movies. However, I'm sure there's an upper time limit beyond which all the movies in the world will not make me happy. It's probably about 10 hours.
While I was allowing for several possible travel disasters, there were only three minor issues: 1) I forgot that I had my cellphone on me and set of the metal detector in Madison, 2) they didn't post a gate number for my flight out of Detroit, so I had to track down a gate agent an hour before my flight and ask where to go, and 3) for the short flight between Madison and Detroit I was stuck next to some middle-aged suit who used the entire armrest, in blatant violation of airplane-personal-space-etiquette (does anyone have any thoughts on why it's always male, middle-aged, business types who do this? If they want more space, they can certainly afford to fly first class and save me the aggravation of having to surrender two inches of my own barely adequate space to avoid touching them).
Anyway, I killed a bunch of time in Detroit by walking the full length of the terminal twice (it's quite long), eating lunch, and browsing the Borders where I ultimately bought a new book to read for the last two hours of my stop-over. Once on the plane, which left on time, we were served drinks and a normal airline snack. Then, they had to roboot the entertainment system which, as it was coming back up, displayed a penguin with all the boot messages (Northwest runs linux on airplanes! Awesome.). Then, I started watching Shrek 3 and they brought us dinner, which was reasonably sized and palatable and came with a choice of red or white wine (I decided it would probably be crappy wine and I was dehydrated by then anyway, so I got water). Then, I finished watching Shrek 3 and took a nap (or, more accurately, four), which was hard because the stupid headrest stuck out enough even with the seat all the way back that every time I dozed off my head would fall forward and wake me up (I solved this problem by leaning against the bulkhead, which was better but I woke up anyway because my neck started to hurt). Then, after my last attempt at sleep failed they served us breakfast, which was not as good as dinner but still not too bad. And, since it was my fourth meal in 18 hours, I wasn't too worried about skipping the less appetizing parts of it.
The disappointing thing was that the A330 I was on had a selection of a few dozen movies, but I only watched one because I needed to sleep to avoid being totally delirious once I was on the ground. On the flight back, when I will not want to sleep too much, I'll be on a 757 that has a different entertainment system and I'm not sure I'll get as many (if any) choices. Although, I checked my seat reservation and as of now there isn't anyone immediately next to me, so I might at least have two armrests.