Tuesday, December 03, 2013


From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Friends know I hate to fly.  This story doesn't help.  Medical personnel yank a passenger off a US Air flight in Phoenix because he has active tuberculosis.  (The plane had just landed from Austin). 

Dr. Schaffner said passengers on the plane should have a TB skin test done by their local health care provider. People who contract TB must take several medications for six to nine months, according to the CDC.

Hey, I hate it when the guy three rows away is coughing from a head cold.  This would drive me insane in a Detective Monk sort of way.

On the subject of flying...note the clever segue...by now you know Amazon is experimenting with delivering packages to your front door by drones.  The video shown on "60 Minutes" is now available on You Tube.

I like to think the drone pictured is carrying several of my books to a waiting customer.  (Thirty minute delivery!) 
Now, I would like to overcome my fear of flying so that I -- not my books -- can be delivered by drone.  That's right.  I'd like to volunteer to be the first author dropped on a reader's front lawn.  Make me part of the 99 cent Daily Deal.  (If the reader wants Stephen King, Lee Child, or John Grisham, they have to shell out $4.99).
When I arrive, I will attempt to entertain the buyer by spinning a tale or two.  Maybe the family will invite me in for a cup of coffee and donuts.
Because Amazon is The-Company-So-Many-Love-to-Hate, the drone proposal has already drawn flak.  My pal, the otherwise sane John Ramsay Miller opined: "Not content with destroying business like book stores, Bezos has more job killing in store for the middle class."
I have to disagree.  Amazon is merely ramping up the delivery business.  Local and chain stores will respond in kind.  If Amazon can truly deliver a $12 roller skate key (that's what's shown in the video) in 30 minutes, so can a local store.  (Does anyone still skate?)
Several Facebook friends have chimed in about the drone delivery proposal. 
Veteran newsman Tim King predicts local TV stations will start using drones instead of helicopters to save money.  Retired journalism professor Tom Berner wants to start using drones for his photography.  Wise-cracker Lynn Gard Price said, "Two words.  Target practice."
Progress is sometimes frightening.  Buggy whip manufacturers surely did not like the advent of the mass-produced automobile.  But we adapt.  Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have changed the way we live...and the pace of our lives. 
Nowadays, we take for granted activities that would have been jaw-dropping less than a generation ago.  Yesterday, I received an email from OnStar, telling me that the pressure in my car's right front tire was 31 pounds instead of the recommended 35.  That's right.  Not only does the company provide me with a navigation system and satellite phone -- useful when there is no cell coverage -- but once a month, it runs a diagnostic check on the car and informs me of the results.  I am awed.
Now, if only I could overcome my fear of flying.


  1. from Jacqueline

    I am sitting in the living room at my mother's house, reading a book, while she is sitting opposite me surfing the internet. She is 86 years old. She has just said to me, "Did you know Paul Levine hates to fly?" Because my mind was elsewhere, I said, "Who?" Then she said, "I just love his posts." So there you go! (And I thought I was the only Naked Author with a fear of flying ...) But here's the interesting thing - the book I'm reading is one I ordered for my mum from Amazon.co.uk some weeks ago. She is a voracious reader and since my Dad died it's been even more important to ensure she has a good supply of new reading material. So I go online each month or so and order up a box of books to be sent to her. It's a lifeline, in a way. She lives in a rural area with no easy access to a decent bookstore, and the library bookmobile only comes around once every couple of weeks - and she reads pretty much a book each day. So what do we do with the books she's already read? Well, it means I have some reading material waiting for me when I visit, and next week we'll be taking all the books she's done with to the hospice where my father was cared for with great compassion before he died, and we'll donate the books - which will either end up in their library, or sold in a fundraising drive. I'm not sure what she would do if a drone dropped a few hundredweight of books in the back garden, but for my part, as one who is scared of flying, I really don't want to be on a jet when it comes face to face with an Amazon delivery!!!

  2. The Amazon drone story is on everybody's lips. The future is here.

  3. Paul here: Jackie. Your mention of the Bookmobile brings back childhood memories in Hughesville, PA. The blue Bookmobile stopping in front of our tiny library. I'd get my books on dinosaurs. The dusty smell of old books and gasoline and human sweat. And....kudos to your Mum!

  4. Hey honey, knocked down three drones today. Snagged me a Paul Levine, two John Grishams and a pack of Pampers!

  5. Hi Paul,

    As an airline pilot AND a licensed therapist, I've specialized in treating flight anxiety for years. Have a new book out, SOAR, The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying. If interested in reading and reviewing/blogging about it, email me at tom@fearofflying.com and I'll send you a copy.