YYZ and air Canada – reinforcing my negative feelings

It’s rare, even for my very cynical self, to have so many negative things to say in such a short period of time about an airport and airline.

I am writing this in terminal 1 of toronto’s pearson airport. Not from the lounge. More on that in a minute.

Now, I fly a lot. In 2012 I will take 49 flights. About half of them on Lufthansa or others star alliance partners  – like air Canada. Most partners and airports give me something for my star alliance frequent travell status. Usually a free checked bag, or entrance to the lounge.

Air Canada and Toronto airport does none of these things. So I needed to pay for my second bag. Ok  I booked through Expedia (as I almost always do) and they had quotd me $70 for the second bag. I went to air Canada’s self service kiosks, where I as told the fee was $90. Ouch. But what can I do. Except that neither of my European credit cards would work in the kiosk (I have used them throughout my 18 day trip to Canada).

So I weren’t to check in assistance, as the kiosk instructed me.

Except here the fee was now $100. They charge you $10 for not using the kiosk. I tried to explain that this was a great way to earn money for air Canada – just turn off the credit card functionality!

So the charge went from $70 to $90 to $100.

Now I asked about lounge access. No. Sorry. And there is no buy in lounge in this brand new terminal. I would have paid, but they would not give me access, for any amount of money.

All of this makes me wonder why I bother to be somewhat loyal to an airline or alliance.


Ok, it’s not starving kids in Africa, it’s just me whining but, I have definitely learned to avoid air Canada. I could have flown on Lufthansa one hour later today, but, I knew I would already have a long wait at the airport. If I had flown Lufthansa I would have actually saved money. That will teach me.

But really it teaches me to avoid Toronto. I got extra bags and lounge access in Detroit. That will be my destination in the future to get to south-western Ontario.


Betting it all on Red… is Apple the investment of a lifetime?

For those of you who don’t follow the stock market you may not know that in the last 6 months Apple’s share price has gone from $380 to £610. That is 60%. If you (or I) had invested more just 6 months ago you’d be doing pretty well. For every 10k you’d have 16k now.

And Apple shows no signs of stopping. Or does it? Is now a good time or a bad time to buy in? Personally, I think it is always a good time to own any stock of a company that a) is at the top of its game in world dominance and b) is growing its market even when it is already a leader.

Blogging Personal SmallBiz

Professional Darwinism

One problem people of my personality type have is this love of starting things and an inability to finish them. Start new projects, blogs, businesses… anything.

I am very guilty of this, as a quick google will confirm. But recently there have been a lot of upheavels in my life and this has brought this character ‘trait’ (read: flaw) into sharp focus. It is kind of like an illness where you see every moment as having a wide blank canvas before it, enticing you to spill some paint on it. But, in truth you have about 50 canvases behind you, in various states of completion. Life is NOT a blank canvas. It is a single painting, that you can rework. Even DaVinci overpainted – started with something then covered it up, creating something new. But, the point is he was always aware of what went before.

Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do is just start something new. It’s exciting. I am a serial business-starter. (I hesitate to call myself an entrepreneur). But, whereas I do believe that a failed business can teach you almost as much as a successful one, sometimes you have to say enough is enough!

Recently I met a young guy who was driving me from the airport to my mother’s house (a very long drive indeed). He is in his mid 20s. I asked him how he got to be driving this bus and he told me of the path his career had taken. And I was impressed. He had done something that few people do in any field – created a nice evolution. He went from part time with one company, to school runs, to permanent bus driver for an institution and now he was waiting to hear if he would get into the city bus line, with all the stability that offered.

I meet a lot of people, especially in the software business, who don’t do evolution as well as this bus driver. They don’t build on their skills. They don’t move from company to company, increasing their responsibility and pay. (I believe staying at one company too long is death to your upward mobility). This evolution is something I used to do well, but recently have stagnated. This 25 year old bus driver has inspired me to look at that again and see where I can go and what I can do.

Now, you may well ask what is the difference? Aren’t you just finding another justification to start a new business or something else new? No, not really. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with starting a new business. The point is to start something that builds on your knowledge, skills, experiences. Don’t start a bakery, then fail at that and start a day care centre. Take what you learned at the bakery and apply that to something slightly different. It is about evolution!, not one great leap.

So, what does all this mean? I am going to sit down, try to get an overview of my professional evolution, connect the dots and see where that line points. Throw in a handful of dreams and off I will go!

See you soon.

Personal Writing

Forget Halloween – here comes NaNoWriMo!

For thousands of people tonight is not about the terror of Halloween… it is about the terror that tomorrow NaNoWriMo starts.

For those of you too lazy to click the link, let me tell you a little about NaNoWriMo. This bizarre words stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. The national is not really applicable as it is real InaNoWriMo (international!). Around the world, right now, thousands of writers and would-be writers are coming to the realization that tomorrow they have to start writing a book and they are not in the slightest prepared. (And if you think you are, you aren’t!)

This is my second stab at this insanity. A couple of years ago I attempted the feat – to ‘complete’ a 50,000 word novel in a month – and failed. Life got in the way and I let me project slide beyond the state where it could be revived and the target hit.

Will this year be different? Who knows! I can already see problems: on the 8th I am flying to Japan. But, a 12 hour flight is a good chance to get some writing done, right? And while I am in Japan I am making a brief side trip up to the disaster zone, as my novel has a chunk of it set there… maybe.

So, forget about the ghosts and goblins ringing your doorbell tonight. Tomorrow you will have some real demons to wrestle with!

Good luck, fellow NaNoWriMo-ers. And, to the partners and friends of this insane group of people, please, give them a chance! This is a hard enough task without someone stomping on your dreams.

See you in a month.


Person as Icon: Goodbye, Steve Jobs

Millions of words will be written about Steve Jobs today. The fact that a large portion of those will be written on devices that sprang from his imagination is fitting tribute enough.

From my first Macintosh, back in the 80s, to my news MacBook Air, I’ve been a fan of the company and its products. Since Jobs reassumed the helm of Apple I have also been an investor in their stock and wow has that done me wonders.

From what I hear, Jobs was a devout Buddhist. The search should be begin soon for his latest incarnation!

Thanks, Steve.

Blogging Personal

7 steps to a pleasing personality

I said before how I am reading (well, listening actually) to Napoleon Hill’s seminal ‘Laws of Success’. The book truly is amazing.

Right now I am on the chapter about developing a pleasing personality. So, to remember the seven steps to doing this I am going to write a sarcastic blog posting, which, while it might help me remember the steps, surely is self-undermining. Oh well.

First: Form the habit of interesting yourself in other people; and make it your business to find their good qualities and speak of them in terms of praise.

Hmm…good qualities in other people? That is going to be tough.

Second: Develop the ability to speak with force and conviction, both in your ordinary conversational tones and before public gatherings, where you must use more volume.

I think I can do that, maybe. Would you believe me if I did…I might be doing it wrong?

Third: Clothe yourself in a style that is becoming to your physical build and the work in which you are engaged.

Fat people – note the ‘style that is becoming to your physical build’. Terrycloth tracksuits, and lycra are not becoming to your physique (in the case of the former, any physique).

Fourth: Develop a positive character, through the aid of the formula outlined in this lesson.

This is a crappy step.

Fifth: Learn how to shake hands so that you express warmth of feeling and enthusiasm through this form of greeting.

Touching people? Yuck!

Sixth: Attract other people to you by first “attracting yourself” to them.

I have attracted myself to Jessica Alba… now what?

Seventh: Remember that your only limitation, within reason, is the one which YOU set up in YOUR OWN mind.

Well, there you go. I knew I couldn’t do it.

Blogging Personal

Napoleon Hill and the 17 principles of success

I am listening to the amazing audio book version of the update revision to this timeless masterpiece. True, it clocks in at around 20 hours, but it is time well worth spent (and you can’t / shouldn’t listen to too much at a time, you should let it percolate).

If you don’t know who Napoleon Hill is then read this to discover the man who pioneered self-help. All who followed have done little more than rearrange the deck chairs on his mansion.

My problem is that I have fallen at step one! (How embarrassing to admit). Step 1 is: ‘A DEFINITE CHIEF AIM’. i.e. decide what you want to do. How much is wrapped up in those 4 little words?! If I knew what I wanted to do the rest would be easy!



So much going on… so little blogging

I have been horribly remiss at this blog. Not that anyone cares, but, it seems hard for me to keep this going. Despite my busy life – work is insanely busy… recession, what recession? – and my various personal pursuits I just can’t keep it going.

Some would say ‘who cares’. Or ‘why bother’. Both of which are great questions. (The first is easy to answer… no one!). There is so much blah blah blah out in that blahosphere of the internet that sometimes I think that perhaps NOT blogging is a greater contribution than blogging.

But of course, here I am. Blogging again. It is a way of occupying my mind, or relieving the built up pressure. Writing is a good way of focusing, and maybe writing here (those thoughts I think should be public knowledge) will help with that. God knows I need focus.

My chief goals at the moment, outside of servicing my 3 major clients, are:

Improve my Japanese

You may or may not know that I bought a house earlier this year in Kyoto, Japan. I love Japan, the people and the culture (and the fooood!!!!!). But, there is an insurmountable barrier if you don’t speak the language. So I am muddling along, doing the best I can in the Nihon-deprived region called Andalucia.

Be creative

When I get stuck into a length of time where I cannot exercise my creative demons I go a bit crazy. I know that I need to do something – write, music, film… something. I can feel an immense pressure building up inside of myself. This has happened before and the resulting explosion is not pretty.

Give back

I believe that contributing to the world is important. For years I have been trying to find a way to donate myself – not my money – to a cause. It is, quite frankly, impossible. Early in the decade I contacted every NGO type organisation I could find that did work I was interested and said I wanted to come work for them. For free, if need be. Only 1 responded to me… in the form of a letter that basically said ‘thanks, but we don’t want you. We want your money’. The search continues! If anyone knows of an organisation that wants an experienced business person, with lots of practical technical knowledge, public speaking experience, etc etc… ah forget it. I know that isn’t going to happen!

Anyway, that’s all for now. That is enough despair for one day!