Air Canada is a low integrity airline, like many others

I recently booked a flight to montreal for a reunion weekend with friends on Air Canada.  About 4 weeks ago I received an email that they had adjusted their flight schedule and I would now be on an itinerary that caused me to miss an additional day of work unless I changed my flight.

This was irritating, but not nearly as irritating as when I discovered that to change my flight online I would incur a $200 change fee.

Since receiving the email I have called their reservation line every day at least twice and only received busy signals.

They basically are extorting either a day of work or $200 out of me because they decided to change the schedule.  I've submitted a complaint via the online email form and still gotten no response.  They remind me of the customer service you'd get from TWA and Northwest just before they went out of business.

I've posted to

and of course I'll tweet and update linked in and Facebook status.


Walking in LA the great walkabout episode 1

As most of my friends know, I LOVE to walk around in cities.  I feel like you don't really get to know a place driving it as much as you do walking around ducking in wherever you feel like.  With a likeminded buddy I recently did a 10 mile walk from Santa Monica to west hollywood.  The route wasn't ideal, but it was a good first go.  I decided to put together a google map to document it.

View LA Walkabout 1 in a larger map

We were hustling a bit too much to completely enjoy it, but it was still a ton of fun and a good trial run for next time.

After the walk we were picked up by a friend and whisked off to oinkster for pastrami before the Avey Tare show in Eagle Rock.


The 6 big Social Media Lessons I Learned from my Frat

The nice thing about social networking is that the basics aren't rocket science, and you can get a lot done with a little common sense.  When you think about it, a frat on any college campus is a brand in a highly competitive social marketplace. So it turns out everything I learned about throwing good parties and BBQs finally has some real life value.

Here’s my list of the 6 Social Media Lessons I learned from being a part of a fraternity.

1.) Getting noticed is the first step, but it's not enough.  You've got a house, and you want to get cool people to come to your house and party. Why? Because you want them to tell their friends it's cool and raise the profile of the frat. Sound familiar? It's just like trying to make a facebook page popular or create an online community about a brand by finding and nurturing relationships with key influencers.  But that is just the first step. You need to attract people, but then you need a reason for them to come back.  This means you need to put on a string of events that know people will keep returning. Similarly in social, there must be enough content and engagement for them to return. (Otherwise, there’s always another place to try out, often right next door.)

2.) You have to please the people who show up every week, and really wow the people who only show up a couple times a year. At a frat, there are always the non-members of “friends of the house” who are there all the time.  Every week when you do drinks, they'll be there, and then there are the people who show up just for the giant theme parties.  In your community you'll have the regulars and contributors who become part of your community, and then there are the masses who show up every once in a while for a big event or guest post or that mention on digg. If you alienate your core community you risk losing your biggest supporters, but if you only cater to the regulars you’ll never grow.

3.) Popularity comes more from die hard friends of the house than the members.  The people who really make a frat popular are the people who show up every week, not the people who live there. Of course your team is the heart of your brand, but it's the core followers, fanboys and early adopters who will really grow your presence and recognition.  They are the ones who talk to their friends and get the message out with more authenticity than an actual member of the brand team could ever have.  They are also the people who liked you before you were cool

4.) Picking and supporting the right "friends of the house" is extremely important.   The core friends of the house are effectively brand ambassadors.  If they aren't cool they will drop the popularity of the house.  Can we say Ed Hardy douchebags? If they are cool they make you look better

5.) Popularity of Brothers in activities outside the house helps drive popularity of the frat.  This one seems obvious but it's so often forgotten.  A frat brother who's a star on the football team or in a cool band makes the house more popular.  Likewise if your brand's team has people with notoriety outside the brand context.  Your founder getting featured on apartment therapy, your chef competing on chopped, anything positive that happens to someone associated with your brand has a halo effect.  The reverse is also true so keep an eye on your team.

6.) You don't have to be the biggest and most popular house to have an awesome time, pick your niche. There's a lot to be said in being the most popular house with a certain segment on campus -  you have the various sports frats, the ethnic frats, the theme houses, the house with the best BBQs, etc.  Picking a niche for your brand and owning it is one of the best ways to grow and preserve your popularity and get the most vocal supporters who feel a closer connection with the brand.



Every once in a while I get on a music kick caused by a specific album, and Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi's "Rome" is a perfect way to slide into a nice work background score. Add a couple great 60's and 70's atmospheric instrumental movie soundtracks by guys like Ennio Morricone, and Roy Budd and suddenly the most mundane tasks like accepting an email hace this cinematic quality of walking through joshua trees for a sunset gunfight, or racing through the streets with an unsheathed katana.

Of course the first thing the wife said when she heard it was "Interesting, they did this one backwards. I'm curious to see what movie they're going to make for this soundtrack" Personally I think it's got a tarantino ramen western, or jim jarmusch dead man kinda feel to it.


Interesting hobbies....

So I had a realization today whilst talking to a friend online.  In the pursuit of lofty corporate goals I have basically lost all of my hobbies other than snark.

The friend in question seems to have nought but hobbies.

  • Seasonally she's a grunion greeter
  • She's an avid baker
  • Occasional horticulturist 
  • She's spun a few scarves, and welded some jewelry
  • She took up surfing, and dare I say it ...even blogging
  • Amateur Mycologist and Bee keeper
  • And then... she has a tendancy to go on a trip and pick up a few more
As I spoke to her, I began to realize that I really had none outside drinking and eating (at which I excel)
I used to ride a bike, go hiking, play squash, play dungeons and dragons, kickball etc.  

So every once in a while I make a plan.  This year I'm not just gonna get some hobbies,  I'm going to upgrade.  Harsh 3.0 from  Harsh 2.0 which came in college when I started working out again, started wearing better clothes, and realized I was gonna get a good job and go the corporate route.

In order to attain the next "point-oh" I'm looking at an overhaul of lifestyle completely.  Superficial and internal.  In no particular order
  • Get a couple cool bags to finally carry all my stuff for travel and walking around
  • Get a bunch of stuff to simpfy my life, and manage my junk
  • Manage my to dos
  • Learn a language
  • Write regularly.  Articles, position papers for work, whatever just something to keep the mind busy and capture my occasianal flame of brilliance
  • Stay on top of the tech I like
  • Listen to music.  I'm gonna find out new stuff I like and start buyng it on amazon
  • Hit the Gym.  I'm about 5 lbs overweight now and slow as hell.  Time to go back to the gym, play squash, take up running
  • Learn about wine
  • Improve business skills: Managment, Accounting, business models, etc
I figure I'll get about 50% of it done if I give it the old college try.