For all you iPad users out there…

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/03/19/faa-taking-a-fresh-look-at-digital-device-use-during-takeoff-and-landing/

However, “there are some peculiar quirks to the FAA’s bureaucratic approval process. Under current guidelines, individual tablet models will need to be tested separately — on each different aircraft model. The iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3 will be individually tested, each on a separate flight, on an empty plane, for the Boeing 737, 747, 757, etc. Smartphones are not being considered for approval, which will be good news for those hoping to keep the skies a relatively quiet place…We are a long ways off from seeing iPads in use during takeoff and landing, but the fact that the FAA is willing to consider changing the regulations is very promising.”

So the next time you are waiting on the tarmac and have the itch to play something like:

You just might be able to.

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C’mon Trump…

While I was landing at LGA last week, I noticed Donald Trump’s plane was parked not too far away from the landing runway.  I have to admit though, I was disappointed Mr. Trump was only rockin’ a Boeing 757.

Donald Trump's Personal Boeing 757

Seriously, as much as he hates President Obama, cannot he at least get a better plane than Air Force One to show that he is at least trying to one up the White House?  And I am pretty sure Mr. Trump can front the ~$200 million dollars needed to upgrade to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner…

Now I have to wonder: is Donald Trump just toying with America? If so, he is doing a good job.

Why the Boeing 767 Rocks

To my the best of my knowledge, I have flown in the following aircraft:

  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Boeing 737
  • Boeing 747
  • Boeing 757
  • Embraer E-190
  • Embraer ERJ-135/140/145
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-80

But by far, my favorite plane to fly in is the Boeing 767.

Whereas the smaller planes I listed can feel cramped, and the B747 cold and sparse, the B767, at least to me, strikes the right balance between comfortable familiarity and spacious roominess.  As an example, I have never been a fan of planes with more than three seats per row, especially towards the ends of the fuselage when trying to go to the bathroom from a window seat can be a complete pain in the butt.  While the majority of the planes I listed fail in this instance [as they usually come in a 3-3 or 3-4-3 configuration], the B767 usually comes in a 2-3-2 configuration, something that makes me feel like less of a jerk whenever I need to relieve myself.

It certainly helps that the times I flew in a B767 were the result of a memorable trip:

  • Iberia: Going on an orchestra tour of the Mediterranean regions of Europe and Africa back in the summer of 2001.
  • American: Visiting my older brother on two occasions when he lived in San Jose, CA back in 2003.
  • Delta: Going on a brief study abroad stint to Firenze back in 2004 when I was enrolled in college.
  • Asiana: Travelling to Central Asia back in the summer of 2004.

It would be nice to eventually fly aboard one or more of the following planes:

  • Airbus A330
  • Airbus A340
  • Boeing 747-8
  • Boeing 777
  • Boeing 787

Until then, the Boeing 767 holds the crown in my book.

Some Lessons from Myrtle Beach

  1. Golf is not an easy sport: it requires A LOT of patience to fully understand the basic fundamentals.
  2. A trip to the South requires an obligatory visit to one of the following: Chick Fil’A and/or Waffle House.
  3. Raccoon squirrels are deadly: not only do they like to eat food scraps, but they also enjoy chewing up Longchamp bags.  Ask my Mom…
  4. The TSA agents [and airport personnel for that matter] at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) were some of the friendliest I have ever encountered, something that corroborates my experience with TSA agents and airport staff at Raleigh-Durham (RDU) in North Carolina.  I suppose it partially has to do with the Southern Hospitality [and not being in a New York City area airport too].
  5. While the experience did not totally stink, Spirit Airlines still leaves a lot to be desired [like no complementary snacks and beverages].  Oh, and all those fees…
    1. As my Dad pointed out, it would have been a better idea to fly out from Islip-MacArthur to Charleston via Southwest.
  6. As much as I hate LaGuardia Airport (LGA), this trip reminded me how the views of New York City proper you can get leaving and/or approaching the airport are untouchable.
  7. I need to take more pictures…

Photography Pains

As much as I like photography, I also hate it, especially when things break.  For example:

  • In the past three years, I had two Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lenses break on me for the same reason: a zoom barrel design flaw that resulted in my being unable to rotate the zoom ring due to a loose screw.  Both times, I unsuccessfully attempted a manual repair, only to destroy them beyond hope.
  • Of late, my first good Canon EF mount lens, the Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical, has developed a worn flex cable.  In other words, I get the dreaded Err99 every 60-100 shots or so.  If only I had known about Tamron’s spotty quality control…
  • Lastly, my Canon EOS 20D needed its shutter release mechanism replaced, which thankfully is an easy fix if you know how to solder and willing to open up what effectively is a fancy computer.

Worst of all, the money I lost on those three subpar zoom lenses (~$1100) could have been used to get something of significantly higher quality [like the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM].  It goes to show you get what you pay for.

On a related note, a friend asked me yesterday which camera, namely a dSLR, is a good one to invest in as a gateway into photography.  I implore you all to do the following:

  • Buy a used dSLR and/or one that is within your means.  A new Canon EOS 60D without a lens will set you back $900, whereas a used Canon Rebel XSi [which I think has one of the better Canon APS-C sensors made to date] with a kit lens can be had for less than $400.
  • If you want an affordable lens of good quality, go for a fixed focal length prime lens.  Consider how for the price of a Canon EF-S 17-85mm, you can get a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM that has significantly better optics and is not prone to zoom barrel design flaws.
  • Use the damn camera, and if necessary, learn how to take better pictures.  After all, what good is an expensive tool if you cannot properly utilize it?

Which reminds me: I really should get around to teaching my parents how to master a dSLR, especially if they plan on taking many pictures during their travels.

Off to Pittsburgh, and Myrtle Beach

My Mom and Dad are attending the wedding of a friend’s daughter in Pittsburgh PA next month; I might add this is the same friend that encouraged my Mom to come to the US back in the day.

While booking their travel itinerary, I learned a few things:

  • Southwest has an awesome website and Hilton has great customer service.  I say this because I somehow managed to book their plane tickets and hotel the week AFTER the wedding is to occur, and yet was able to resolve my reservation errors promptly with the help of Southwest’s intuitive booking system and a courteous customer rep from Hilton.
  • There is a reason why Southwest’s unusual routing and stopover methods are the punch line for so many cheap shots.  While it was easy to book a direct flight out of Pittsburgh back to LI-MacArthur, getting to Pittsburgh with the routes Southwest asked you to take left me scratching my head:
    • No direct flights at all?
    • And must you insist on a Baltimore-Washington stopover?
  • Trying to maintain three separate frequent flier mile accounts for my Mom, Dad, and I is much more tedious than I thought, especially registering our [government issued] names.

Additionally, my Mom, Dad, and I are planning to go on a golf vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina not too long after the wedding in Pittsburgh.  Initially, I resisted the idea because to be honest, my golf game absolutely sucks and lacks consistency.  It really does not matter how good your equipment is: if you suck and do not practice on a regular basis, not even Taylor Made drivers and Pro V1’s can save your game.  In the end though, I committed myself to try and get good enough to at least attempt to play on some of the more advanced courses down in Myrtle Beach, even if that means losing more than 100 balls from water hazards.

It helped that planning for this trip to Myrtle Beach made me all the more excited to go, although I do wish that Spirit Airlines would stop trying to make Ryanair look like Emirates.

To be fair, their flights are round-trip direct from LaGuardia to Myrtle Beach; the other option was to either take Continental Connection from Newark-Liberty direct [and most likely pay more], or stopover in Atlanta or Charlotte.

So in short, February 2012 is looking to be an active month for all of us, which I hope is a good thing.