Q: I fly very infrequently, but I can't sleep on a plane. To me it's like trying to sleep in a folding chair in the middle of a bus station. Instead, I like to read but notice that I am usually the only one with my light on.
Sometimes other passengers give me a discouraging look. How do I handle this, or should I not worry about it?
A: The overhead lights on airplanes are like reclining seats. With seats, you have a button to recline, so every passenger gets to decide if they want to lean back. If reclining makes you more comfortable, it's fine to do it. But if it doesn't make you more comfortable, it's polite not to recline, so the person behind you has more room. And if I could digress briefly, don't ever recline without warning the passenger behind you, and do it slowly. Otherwise, you might break their laptop or spill their drink. With the overhead light, it's fine to use it on a night flight if you want to read. But if you don't need it, turn it off.
That said, have you considered using one of those small reading lights that clip onto your book instead of the overhead light? Then you can have light right where you need it -- on your book -- instead of across the whole area of your seat and tray table. You'll want to take care to angle the light so it's not shining in anyone else's eyes, but I think that might be less obtrusive than using the overhead.
Q: I will be traveling soon and wanted to bring my holiday kolacky cookies on an airplane. Will I have trouble getting them through security? I know they don't allow peanut butter or jelly. The cookies will be filled with apricot and raspberry filling. I will be bringing several dozen.
A: I emailed TSA about jam-filled cookies like yours. They sent me information about cookies (considered a solid) and about jam (considered a liquid/gel), but not what they think of jam-filled cookies. Therefore, I would advise you not to risk it. I wouldn't want you to put loads of effort into baking delicious holiday cookies only to have TSA confiscate them. The safest thing to do is to ship them separately. Also, if you ship them, you don't have to deal with the hassle of finding space for them in the overhead bin, where someone's heavy bag could easily reduce all your hard work to crumbs.