Spring is here

With the corresponding allergies, clear blue skies, spring shoures and what not. April hasn’t been too great for my health, maybe because of the allergies, I have been fighting a rather persistent flu and cough. Whatever it is, spring is pill popping time.

Spring also brings possibility of rebirth for American Airlines which has become a target for a takeover by US Airways. Seems like AA unions are pretty psyched by the idea, although their CEO is decidedly less so. As long as they maintain my status and rewards programs, I think I should be fine, although I am curious to find out how the merger/acquisition might affect service quality (assuming AA gets bought), as part of their effort to harvest synergies.

As you can tell, dear reader, I’m at the airport again.


On the plane again

As is my habit, I’m leaving on Sunday night again. Luckily my SO is not co-located with me and is instead really supportive. (I think she has been showing a keen interest in how my points and mileage are accumulating.)

I am also lucky that my manager is cool with this, and our budget for this project allows for such travel. Thanks all, you powers that be!

The weather is gorgeous outside, the doors are closing, and I’m on my way again…


High-intensity traveling

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-08/the-luxurious-lives-of-preferred-travelers

From the story:

“Our top 2 percent of travelers are responsible for 30 percent of our profit,” says Starwood Chief Exective Officer Frits van Paasschen. A single “mega-traveler,” as Starwood has branded them—“road warrior” connotes stress and exhaustion—yields as much revenue for the company as 50 ordinary guests.

“Van Paasschen does not wait for mega-travelers to choose Starwood. Having amassed reams of data on their profiles and predilections (one in three is a management consultant, for instance)…”

The numbers remind me of those of a casino: whales generate so much revenue that casinos throw all sorts of perks at them. The freebies alloted to the really intense travelers are simply “wow” but I’m not too sympathetic; the time/personal costs required to accumulate them is really high! You’d have to not have a family to rack up the points like that.

And it would be really interesting to do a study of the cost-effectiveness/ROI of these programs…


On the plane

Flying tonight instead of tomorrow morning because my body hates me for the rest of the week when I wake up at 4 am on Monday.

I also now fly in business casual even on Sundays because I fear losing my work clothes if they make me check in my suitcase (happens too often when they run out of overhead bin space).


Cell phones

The other day I was almost late to work today because I couldn’t find my 2nd phone. Unlike many peers, I carry two phones – one work phone, one personal phone. Many people have asked why I don’t just consolidate them and save on  phone bills. The reasons?
1. Low costs: my personal phone plan is a pre-paid plan and very very affordable; I spend more on a weekend.
2. Clear split between work and life: I don’t want to check both work and personal stuff on the same phone. Also, my employer is paying the bills for the corporate phone – and that means they have some form of influence over my data consumption, even though they claim otherwise.
That said, if my personal phone ever croaks I will probably switch over to using just one phone. Here I will make a plug for Google Voice – for a fee (now $20) you can have Google take over your existing number from your cellphone provider and cancel your existing plan. Subsequently when someone calls this number Google will forward the call to a second number of your choice (in this case your corporate phone).
http://support.google.com/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1065667

Reads 3/17

Updating this website has been a bit tougher than I thought. Part of the reason is my inability to organize my ideas in a way that is easy for retrieval. I just found this list of reads which I’ve been meaning to post:

  1. He now had his idea: a graphics program that would work with Windows and the Macintosh, and that would put together, and edit, a string of single pages, or “slides.”
    The program that we all love and hate.
  2. My computer has a 48K memory. Since each K represents 1,024 bytes of information—each byte representing one character or digit—the machine can manipulate more than 49,000 items of information at a time. In practice, after allowing for the space that The Electric Pencil’s programming instructions occupy in the computer’s memory, the machine can handle documents 6,500 to 7,500 words long, or a little longer than this article. I break anything longer into chunks or chapters and work with them one at a time.
  3. OK this was written in 1982. Makes me wonder which is more astonishing – that computers have developed so rapidly, or that James Fallows has been with The Atlantic for 30 years. (The Atlantic)
  4. Makes you wonder if a fortune-teller can predicts whether he/she will get sued for predictions. (WSJ)
  5. Got a Panera card recently – it’s designed to give you random freebies (not really random since they give you freebies they think you will like, based on your purchases – a little creepy, I know). An analysis of why the Panera card works as a means to raise customer loyalty.
  6. Pretty solid writing about the merits of the liberal arts – but then how do you teach people to adapt to changing situations? How do you teach employers to recognize if a person has that kind of adaptative qualities? (Bloomberg)
  7. The heuristics you can get from mining data: “In the early 1990s, when merit aid first began to flourish, the rule of thumb was that $1,000 could tip the decision for a student on the fence between two institutions; $4,000 would get him to accept his second choice, and $6,000 his third choice” (The Atlantic)
  8. As recommended by BusinessWeek: http://blog.tsa.gov/ Has gems like ““Incoming” Flight: An inert 60mm mortar round used for training was discovered in the checked bag of passenger at El Paso (ELP). The passenger purchased it as a novelty and thought nothing of packing it in his bag. Gives a whole new meaning to “incoming” flight…”
  9. While I sit in a hotel room, get room service, fly from airport to airport… (The Atlantic)

Reads 3/3/12

It’s March already, and the weather is getting warmer.

  1. A look at the people who work in unnoticed but important positions (The Atlantic)
  2. Panhandlers and charities face challenge as transactions become cashless (Slate)
  3. BusinessWeek also thinks that airport security isn’t cost-effective (BusinessWeek)
  4. “Yet the psychology of decline does not always operate in a straightforward, rational way. A strategy of managing slow decay is unpleasant, and history is replete with instances of leaders who persuaded themselves of the opposite of the obvious conclusion. Rather than adjust themselves to their slowly weakening position, they chose instead to stage a decisive confrontation.”The quote is used to describe the Republican Party, which faces unfavorable demographic trends, but I wonder if it can be applied to businesses in general… (New York Magazine)
  5. How to justify falling asleep at work (BBC News)
  6. Did you know that $700 M worth of Chobani yogurts were sold in 2011? (CNN)

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