Alec Baldwin Revisited

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My internist Bruce Yaffe, MD is good friends with Alec Baldwin. He insists that the Words With Friends fiasco aboard American Airlines was not a PR stunt. I didn’t want to debate that point because I was naked on the examination table. The only thing between me and him was my paper gown. I was feeling very vulnerable. I didn’t want him to see my extra pounds. I agreed with him immediately.

But I know better. My cousin Harvey Oshinsky bumped into Alec in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan soon after AA threw him off a flight because he wouldn’t turn off his cell while playing Words with Friends. Alec told Harvey the incident was for real. I argued the point with Harvey for an hour. He was relentless. It runs in my family. The day after Alec made headlines, hundreds of thousands of people downloaded the word game. Hmm?

Meanwhile the controversy over whether we should be allowed to use our cell phones and/or other electronics when the doors close on an airplane continues. The New York Times just reported a study released by two industry groups, the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association that takes a look at the whole situation. Thirty percent of all passengers said they had accidentally left a device on during takeoff or landing. When asked if they turn their devices to “off,” 59 percent of passengers said they do fully turn their electronics off and 21 percent said they just rely on airplane mode.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently said it would begin a review of its policies on electronic devices in all phases of flight. The study also found that four out of ten passengers would like to use their devices during all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing.

To date, there has been no proof that electronic devices interfere with the operation of an aircraft.

Maybe Alec wasn’t working with Words with Friends after all. Rather he was paid by a group of deep-pocketed businessmen who want to see the rules changed. Ever since Alec was almost arrested, the subject has certainly been a topic of discussion.

Doug Denoff Update

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A few readers inquired whether Doug made it to the Grammys. I just received this email from him:

“3:45 flight – last one out. even got upgraded (not because of my post…just normal luck).
flight crew was very nice. in spite of management’s decisions

“PS from inside the plane, you can’t see the fancy expensive paint job….’cept from here.”

Denoff Fires CEO of AA

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We are about to get three feet of snow in New York, maybe much more. Everyone is in prep mode. Everyday schedules are being disrupted. Most airlines are canceling flights in and out of NY. Digital savvy people are flocking to Twitter and Facebook to tell their woes. The following was posted on Facebook this morning by a Broadway producer friend, Douglas Denoff. I just had to share it with you. Many of you have expressed similar frustrations.

Doug Denoff gave me permission to share his post from Facebook this morning.

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Don’t Write Another Letter

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Writing letters to big companies to complain about a product or service is a big waste of time. The majority of the time, your letters get thrown on a never ending pile, and eventually an intern, PR person (that’s me), or a mail room guy will answer you with some standard response. Yes, there are times you will receive a free meal, additional airline points, or a gift certificate to Pizza Hut or some other large chain which is easy for most people to access. But usually not.

If you want to get immediate satisfaction, learn to use Twitter. In the last few months, major companies have staffs of up to 50 people monitoring this particular social media platform to immediately cure any nasty comments someone has posted about them. The last thing a company needs is a disgruntled customer airing his or her complaints in front of millions of viewers.

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We’ve Been Grounded

We were supposed to fly out to Miami tomorrow morning. American Airlines just cancelled our flight because of Isaac, the tropical storm that may turn into a full-fledged hurricane. While Miami still has beautiful weather, AA doesn’t want to send too many airplanes there because they might have trouble getting them out. The winds are starting to act up.

We are so disappointed but are happy that AA had the good sense to give us fair warning. Friends of ours just called to ask if we wanted to take their private plane into Ft. Lauderdale. It was very sweet of them but I don’t take flights where I have to bend down when I stand up. They also never quite spelled out if we would have to pay the $7,000 needed for fuel.

Of course the offer prompted Eliot to once again ask why I am so scared of small planes. He considers them much safer. I consider them a toy. I don’t want to be in any aircraft where I see the pilot and what goes on in the cockpit. Eliot feels that if I did understand what makes the airplane function, then I might be more relaxed.

We decided to put it to the test. We will be going to Hammacher Schlemmer, the novelty store on East 57th Street, to try out the new Cockpit Flight Simulator which coincidentally has a price tag of $7,000. Boy, the dollar figure sounds familiar.

The flight simulator is installed into a cockpit that equips players with the same flight controls found in actual aircraft. The retailer claims the flight simulator is as close to the real thing as you can get, The fore/aft and left/right movement of the yoke controls pitch and roll just like real airplanes. Its toggles and buttons provide authentic control of navigation and radio options. Thrust levers and dual rudder pedals control realistic throttle and yaw.

The padded flight seat adjusts for optimal seat angle and distance to the rudder pedals while the sound system surrounds the player in realistic audio using five speakers and a subwoofer beneath the seat. Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X Gold, the world’s pre-eminent flight simulation software for PCs, comes on the included Dell Studio XPS computer with Windows 7. The software includes 23 flyable aircraft ranging from the ubiquitous Piper Cub to the daunting Boeing 747-800, challenging players to complete over 70 simulated flight missions, all geographically and topographically correct. The missions range from dropping bags of flour onto waterborne targets from an ultralight to taking off from an aircraft carrier aboard an F/A-18 Hornet. Realistic graphics are displayed by a 28″ wide-screen LCD monitor that provides 1080i high-definition resolution. A second 20″ LCD monitor sits below, providing instrument panels that simulate a faithful flight experience. Ages 14 and up. 57″ L x 32″ W x 53″ H. (110 lbs.)

I am getting dizzy already thinking about this mock flight. My heart is already skipping a beat from anxiety. I will let you know how well I do.

Blogging On A Jet Plane

Sarah and Max

I am 38,000 feet up in the air on my way to LA from NY. The wifi service on the plane has made this trip so much easier than ever before. While it is expensive at $17.99, I tell myself I would have wasted the same amount on something else. I am not a great flyer…even though I’m on an airplane at least once a month.

By the time I read a few newspapers on my iPad, answer a dozen or so emails, check in with Facebook and Twitter, write this blog, drink, eat, go to the bathroom and do my safe walk around the plane twice, the wheels of this bird will have hit the ground at LAX.

I am looking around the airplane and see virtually every passenger using some sort of electronic equipment. I chuckle to myself. What a modern world we live in.

Some people hate what technology has done to society. I love it. I get what the 50-plus crowd is saying about the lack of conversation and socialization that exists today between young people. To that I say, “I don’t think the conversations between most seniors and their children are that stimulating either. They are usually just inquisitions by the parents who want to know their kids every move so they can control, judge, and pass along the information in their own social circles.”

And to those who claim that kids can’t write an English sentence because of texting, my response is, “They are probably the same group of people who couldn’t write an English sentence themselves years ago. At least smartphones and ebooks have more people reading today than in recent times.”

Call me crazy but my most glorious moment on this flight just came a half hour ago when I met Sarah from Prospect Park, Brooklyn.  Her infant son Max was on her lap and her laptop was on top of  both of them. That picture was worth thousands and I’ve posted it here. If you are reading this blog post on an email alert and the picture is not showing please go to http://www.digidame.com to see it.

I introduced myself to Sarah and promised that I would not identify both of them. Many parents today are fearful of Internet exposure. Sarah wasn’t worried. It turns out that she is a  mommy blogger and a publicist.  Max has his own Facebook page and Twitter account. I gave Sarah my business card.  I just got back to my seat and Sarah has already sent me a cute email with her contact info. I guess she has wifi too.

I am sitting in my seat now just beaming. This couldn’t have happened a year or two ago. I just met a modern day mama, had a fascinating 10-minute conversation and we connected forever on email.

I don’t know about you, but these tech situations are so awesome to me. I feel so fortunate to be alive, experiencing them firsthand.