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January 2008

Product Managers on the Road

OK, it’s been maybe six months since I’ve been on a business trip.  So some rustiness and bewilderment over what one might encounter is to be expected.  Having said that, all of these things (save one) happened to me during one hour-long flight from San Jose to “the OC” (That’s the “Orange County” for those not in the know) today; I am not making this stuff up. 

So here I am settling in for my flight to John Wayne airport, on my way to a job interview in Costa Mesa (which is another story unto itself).  The Southwest Airlines pilot announces that the 737 we’re flying is two weeks old… which makes me wonder if it was finished on a Monday or Friday, and whether anyone else has flown on it yet.  Since the plane is brand new, I naturally notice when one of the cabin lights starts blinking like it’s about to go out or there’s a bad connection.

Mine is just the first of a multi-hop cross-country flight.  After Orange County, the plane has stops in Las Vegas, Nashville, and then Orlando.  I have to believe the person responsible for flight routing at Southwest is a big fan of Chinese Checkers.

The flight attendants come through with peanuts that are certainly older than the plane, and then collect everything wearing their latex gloves.  Now, I can appreciate not wanting to get infected by us Unwashed Masses.  But I think next time I’m going to put on my gloves before I take anything from the flight attendants.

As we’re on final landing approach, I see that the passenger to my left appears to be texting someone.  I debate whether I should strangle her or just cause extreme pain if she ends up interfering with the plane’s controls and causes us all to, let’s just say, land a bit prematurely.  She appears to be meeting her boyfriend, and completes her makeup preparation by pulling out her underarm deodorant and giving it one last swab under each armpit as we taxi to the gate.

OK… can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.  The flight attendant completes the usual post-landing spiel, then breaks into a rendition of some “thanks for flying Southwest Airlines” song, to the tune of “Your are the Sunshine of My Life”.  At this point, I’m looking around for the Hollywood talent agent, or maybe just Simon Cowell.

The company is a short distance from the airport, so I grab a cab.  I give the cabbie the address, which he punches into the GPS/navigation system.  And I then get to hear the turn-by-turn directions—in Mandarin.  Another first.

Finally, as I sit here waiting for my delayed Southwest Airlines flight (I’m going to see if it’s the same flight crew as I left this morning), I hear an overhead announcement calling a traveler back to the ticket counter to pick up their golf clubs.  Who forgets their golf clubs at a ticket counter?

All of these things make me wonder which is more odd—the fact that these things happened? Or the fact that they happen all the time and I’m just now noticing them?

No time to sort it out; I’ve got deodorant to apply.

Jumping the Shark Bowl

On this day after the Iowa Caucuses, when the seers, media, and other talking heads (with apologies to the Talking Heads) try to divine the meaning of Obama and Huckabee victories... And I'm sorry, I just can't vote for Mike Huckabee as my President--I can't envision "President Huckabee".

Yes, on this day I choose to discuss another weighty matter--what's wrong with college football bowl games.  This isn't a post about the need for a playoff system (no matter how much order that would introduce into college football betting).  No, I have a more mundane issue--when did we give up any semblance of independence from corporate sponsorships?

I'll admit I'm a bit of a traditionalist on this.  I liked the Rose Bowl Pac 10-Big 10 (plus or minus) matchup just fine, thank you.  But I was willing to change with the times; it was kind of fun to talk about the Poulan Weedeater Citrus Bowl.

But this year, I saw few Oranges, Astro-Bluebonnets, Fiesta's, Sugar's or any other "independent" bowls.  Instead, it was the Outback Bowl, Insight Bowl, Emerald Bowl (apparently for the nut, not the color of SF Bay... of course, after that oil spill it wasn't emerald anyway).  There may have even been a dot-com bowl in there somewhere [wait! an infusion of capital! let's blow it on a bowl sponsorship!].

I say that this crass commercialism, together with the sheer number of games (there's probably a Web 2.0 company right now helping us organize them all for viewing), not to mention the lack of exciting play (for any but alumni) all points to a "jumping the shark" moment for college football.

Time to focus on lacrosse!