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Addicted to Flight

13 Dec

Hi.  I’m Stew Campbell and I’m addicted to flying.  (HI STEW!)

As most of you I’m sure know, I’m a frequent flyer for business.  On American Airlines, I’ve logged 1.4 million miles so far, got that letter from the AAdvantage program to “congratulate” me on reaching the 1 million mile mark and bestowing permanent LIFETIME Gold status on the frequent flyer program.  On other airlines including United, Delta, US Air, Southwest and others, I probably have logged an additional half-million.

Most people abhor business travel … I openly admit that I love it.  I like going places, seeing people, but most of all, I like … being in the sky.  Professional pilots call it “The View from the 35th floor” – a reference to the view from 35,000 feet.

I think my flight mojos stem from my grandfather, Mel Campbell.  Mel was an adventurer before that term was popular.  He set himself three “bucket list” goals for his life – fly a plane, climb a mountain and skydive (they called it “parachuting” back then.)  He achieved 2 of the 3 before a heart condition curtailed his adventures. Although he once told me that after he learned to fly and owned an airplane, he decided it didn’t make a lot of sense to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  I’m not quite the adventurer he was, but I certain love the flight.

If I’m on a United flight (even though I really dislike that airline) I’m always the guy with the headset tuned to channel 9 to listen to air traffic control.  I prefer window seats to aisles so I can enjoy the view and more importantly to me, follow our flight’s progress.  The advent of onboard wifi has really increased my flying fun, with being able to follow my flight’s progress on FlightAware.com’s website.

I’ve owned every version of MS Flight Simulator, and probably have hundreds of hours of flight time there – learning procedures, understanding navigation, etc.  Which, I learned last year, directly contributed to my ability to actually fly a plane.

And, as sick and weird as this sounds, I even like airports.  Go figure.

In the last two years, I’ve really rediscovered my joy of light aircraft flight.  First, my son organized a fantastic Father’s Day/Birthday gift in 2010 – I was having a tremendous amount of stress at work, was aggressively seeking new opportunities and had been for close to three years, and well, he saw that and thought that perhaps I needed some altitude therapy.  He purchased a “total immersion” flight experience for me at a local flight school – 2 1/2 hours of aviation fun that included more than an hour of flight time where I controlled the plane from take off to just before landing.

That day was like a rebirth for me.  In that two hours, I ditched pretty much ALL the stress I had been feeling, and left it in the propwash.  It was an incredible, “severe clear” day over Chicago – CAVU in pilot talk – Clear and Visibility Unlimited.  83 degrees and sunny, barely any wind, almost no turbulence and insanely clear air.  My flight instructor spent the entire flight with his hands off the controls except for the last half mile to the landing.  He called me an “instinctive pilot” – and even wanted me to fly the landing although I didn’t choose to.   I chalk it up to years of enjoying of flight, and years of flying my computer around.

In the last few months, I’ve been the beneficiary of flights with my friend Ira.  Ira also decided it was “time to fly” in the last few years – and because he has the financial means to do so, and a business reason to support it, he earned his private certificate, purchased a Piper Arrow airplane, and he’s flying!  He’s a very careful pilot, and very skillful – always in control and always seeking to make sure he’s flying by the book – much like I would envision myself to be.  Both flights we’ve done recently have been on beautiful days, although a bit windy, so I am re-learning a bit how to tolerate turbulence in a small airplane – it doesn’t really bother me in airliners, but in the little ones, it makes me jump a bit.  But each time I’m up, I’m a bit better with it.  I like to think that if I were at the controls, it wouldn’t be an issue at all.

Will I ever spend the time and money to get my own certificate, and even better, my own aircraft?  Remains to be seen.  But know this.  I always like that view and I’ll seek to get it as often as I can.

Here’s the photo album from my flight lesson day:  FLIGHT LESSON 

And, pictures from my flight with Ira this past weekend.  ONE LAP OF CHICAGO

As you were,

Stew

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FM Technology

28 Oct

Having been fortunate enough in the last 8 weeks to have acquired both an iPad 2 and the latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, and marveling and reveling in both devices and how transforming they are in my life, I thought it would be appropriate to riff on things that we take for granted that are, in a word, “FM Technology”.

This post won’t make sense without a little back story on what I mean by FM Technology. Back when I started working for Motorola, in 1992 in the marketing department for cell phones, one of my first assignments was to create a brochure designed to tell layman (aka, our customers) how cell phones actually work – presumably in a bid to educate folks to avoid warranty claims and customer satisfaction issues. I wasn’t sure where to get started so I reached out to a guy that had befriended me on my first day, and worked in product development doing both engineering and marketing (can you imagine an engineer doing marketing? Welcome to Motorola … but I digress).

This guy was young – about my age, and when he got my call, said “Sure, I’ll help you. It’s easy – let’s meet for lunch in the cafeteria and I’ll tell you how it all works.” So, met him for lunch that day, and we talked about everything BUT the assignment – kids, families, etc. – two guys getting to know each other. As we were wrapping up, I said “Oh man, we forgot to talk about the ‘how do cell phones work’ thing!” He said “Oh, hey,that’s easy to understand. It’s FM

technology.” I look at him quizzically and said “Ok … umm, I know there’s a radio in there and all … but it runs on FM?” And he looks across the table at me as he stands up to leave and says “No man, it’s not like that. Fucking Magic! That’s how they work!” I stand there dumbfounded and he laughs and pulls out of his pocket a floppy disc (remember those???) and says “I wrote it all up for you. Give me a call if there’s anything you don’t understand.”

Generally speaking, I consider anything in the “FM Technology” category as something that was transforming to the way you live your life and the habits you have in your life. Additionally, I often think about my dad and grandpas whenever I use something that is “FM” – My Grandfathers were both passed by 1978, and my dad passed in 1992. My dad did experience cell phones in his last year, but barely – it was a device to keep he and mom safe while they drove back and forth to his cancer treatments. He never actually made a call on one. But all three men appreciated a good gadget and they knew their son/grandson to be a serial early adopter of cool stuff. I always think “wow, what would dad/Grandpa Mel/Grandpa George think of this!”.

So, now you know what FM Technology is, let’s talk about some:

Smartphones:Whether an iPhone, a Droid, a Windows phone or a Blackberry – think back just 6 years ago – 2005.  6 years ago, the Motorola RazR was the “it” phone.  It was sleek.  It was fast. You could surf the web, get email, it was small, light, and above all COOL AS ALL HELL.  But … it wasn’t FM – it was derivative of the same stuff I was selling in 1992.  Come forward just one year, however, and the iPhone was introduced – the first true SmartPhone – it was transforming.  WiFI connectivity so you could surf the web on it and do email without suffering at cellular speeds.  Cellular data for when you don’t have WiFi.  Music.  Apps, etc. etc.  An entire new lexicon entered our world – “there’s an app for that”, “SmartPhone”, etc.

iPads: Since iPads enjoy an 85% marketshare here, it’s iPads not tablets – and again, transforming. They are, more or less, grown versions of smart phones, but really what they do is bridge between a PC and a phone. It is so nice to be able to “instant on” this thing and get email, read media, watch TV, video, etc. Perfect for the business traveler. What is happening in the educational market with these is astounding – entire universities are giving them to their students. Just this week, District 214, which is a school district near us, announced that by the end of 2014, every kid will have one and that’s how they will deliver textbooks from now on. My own media habits have completely changed – I read books on the Kindle app, read online versoins of Wired, Sports Illustrated, Car and Driver, Road and Track, and browse at least 6 or 7 newspapers a day plus news sites like The Daily Beast, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Reuters, BBC, ABC, MSNBC, etc. to feed my political news “jones”.

Who saw this video last week:

 

GPS: While I still love a good ‘ol fold-up road map, and for planning and situational awareness, there’s no substitute, GPS is again, FM Tech. The fact that it is embedded in your SmartPhone/iPad, etc. even better. And even though I always said “there’s no way I’ll ever have factory GPS in my car” as I have a portable plus the iPhone, etc. for this – guess what? Now that we have it in our GTI – it came packaged with other options we wanted such as leather, heated seats, etc., I can honestly say I won’t buy another car without factory GPS installed.

HD Television and DVR: What prompted me to write this blog this morning is that I this morning, I was watching a program recorded from HD Net on our TiVo DVR on our HD plasma TV. Transforming stuff? Hell yeah! TV that hangs on a wall. Images that look better than movies, in some cases, better than reality. Being able to watch programs you want to watch, when you want to watch them. And with the addition of streaming programming from HuLu, Netflix, YouTube, etc. etc. our entire viewing habits have completely changed.

Microwave Ovens: Remember when these first came out? Again, completely transforming. Your daily behavior changed. Popcorn? ZZAP. Want steaks for dinner but they are all frozen? No problem. ZZAP. Hot cereal? Lunch? Leftovers? Etc. etc. Now, what is funny about Microwaves however, is that the market defined the usage. Remember when they first came out that they promoted that you could cook a whole turkey in one? When was the last time you saw anyone promoting microwave ovens for cooking turkey? Ever have turkey from the microwave? I did. Once. Never again. Bleah.

And of course, the original FM technology: Cell Phones. These truly did become Fucking Magic when you could carry them discretely in your pocket and be in touch from basically anywhere. When they did away with roaming fees on these, and made them ubiquitous was when they truly achieved FM status.

What other FM Technologies have you enjoyed?

As you were,

Stew

Dear Fellow Travelers:

18 Oct

As most of you know, I am a FREQUENT traveler for business. Over my business career, I have probably flown nearly 3 million miles, have stayed in thousands of hotel rooms, rented hundreds of cars, etc. On American Airlines alone, I’ve flown 1.6 million miles, making me a lifetime Gold member of the AAdvantage program – 400,000 miles away from lifetime Platinum. Right now, I’m in the middle of a big “travel jag”, so a list of notes to fellow travelers is what has come to mind.

– Dear Novice Traveler in the TSA line: The fastest way through the TSA line is to follow the rules. And they are really simple – everything comes off but your socks, shoes, pants and shirt – that means your watch, your belt, your shoes, your bracelets, etc., and you need to empty your pockets of EVERYTHING including paper. Please, figure it out – we’ve been doing this awhile.

– Dear Person With the Big Toiletries: While we’re at it – your toiletries can only be 3 ounces or smaller and they need to fit in a quart zip lock. I’m sorry you’re an idiot and brought that jumbo jar of BedHead hair product for $50 at the salon and now you have to abandon it. We’ve been doing this for more than 4 years. 3 ounces or less. If it is that important for your look, and you can’t buy it in that size, then buy a 3 oz traveler “empty” and transfer the product yourself.

– Dear Guy Wearing the Bluetooth Headset But not on a Phone Call. You look like a dork. Just sayin’. I get it, if you’re on a call, but I don’t if you’re not. You want to have the headphone in so you can take a call at a moment’s notice? Buy an iPhone.

– Dear Idiot Shouting at the Gate Agent over the Fact that your Plane Got Cancelled Due to a Thunderstorm: Guess what? She’s not going to help you. Guess what? She IS going to help me though, and that’s because instead of walking up shouting, I will walk up smiling and say “hey, crazy day, huh? Well … help me the best you can, I know you don’t have too many options for me. I’ll appreciate whatever you can do.”

– Dear Person Who Stops Walking In the Middle of the Terminal, who I then Trip Over: Do you just suddenly stop driving on an expressway because you’re lost? Or do you pull over to the side to avoid getting killed? Same idea applies here? Can’t find your gate or need a moment with your phone? Pull over. Let the rest of us go by.

– Dear Person with Group 4 on their Boarding Pass trying to board with First Class: There’s a system that we follow. They say “Group 4 can board now” and you can board. Not before. I will give you a pass if you do not speak English or truly do need extra time in boarding but take 5 minutes before flight time to figure that out.

– Dear Person sitting in My Window Seat in my Row: No, you cannot have it. I reserved it. “I figured you’d prefer the aisle” isn’t the right answer.

– Dear Person sitting at the Window seat when I DO choose the aisle: PLEASE let me get up and move out of your way, rather than you crawling over my knees and putting your ass in my face without warning (yes, this really happened, last week). Oh, and I’m sorry you have a weak bladder and need to pee every 20 minutes. Maybe you should have reserved an aisle seat.

– Dear Person Traveling Only With a Paperback Book and a Jacket: I’m sorry the flight attendant took your jacket down and handed it back to you so I could put my rollaboard up there, but welcome to the reality of travel nowadays.

– Dear Stinky Food Eater: A can of Tuna? On an airplane? REALLY? Man, there is a special place in hell for you, sir!

I have so many more I could add … feel free to comment with yours.

As you were,

Stew

A Proper Martini

9 Aug

Outside of my office – 333 West Wacker Drive in Chicago – aka “where Ferris Bueller’s dad worked”, there’s a bus shelter, and of course they have advertising on the shelter.  They just updated the ad on it with this image:


Well, far be it for me to not be inspired by this – I snapped the picture above, texted it to my pal “GASHM” who promptly replied with “Funny, I was just thinking that a “proper Martini” is the way I’m going to relax this evening.  I could shake enough for two!”

So, about 9:30 PM, it was “Martini O’Clock” on GASHM’s screened-in porch.  We solved every world problem over a couple of ice cold Ketel One Martinis.  Perfect.

Which of course inspired this blog post.  So many people seem to find the art of a proper Martini to be very daunting, but yet, it is very easy, if you just follow some simple techniques.  I thought I’d use this opportunity to teach you, my friends, the art of a proper Martini.

You know, just in case I come to visit or something.

Let’s pause a minute though to talk about what a proper Martini really is.  In my humble opinion, a proper Martini can be made ONLY with vodka or gin, Vermouth if you’d like, and some ice.  An olive for garnish or a lemon peel.  That’s it.  All those OTHER pretenders to the Martini throne – Cosmopolitans, Appletini’s, Chocomartini’s, etc. etc. are simply Martini-like cocktails.

I was taught the art of a proper Martini by none other than a woman named Tana Foreman – who was bartender in my hometown of Newton, IA back when I was in college.  Tana was the Newton Country Club bar manager – we only had a few customers that drank “up” Martinis back then and she took special care in making sure that I not only knew how to make them, but new how to make good ones.  People from Newton will remember her also from Palma’s Restaurant, and the Hawkeye Lounge at the Terrace Inn.  Hope she’s still around and kicking.

Finally, before the recipe, I have to give props to a good work friend and Martini aficionado, Lisa PF.  Lisa, who is a grand master wizard of market and language research, is a also a wizard of turning a phrase.  I LOVE the way Lisa orders a martini.  Her brand is Belvidere vodka and she orders it as such:

“Belvidere Martini up.  VERY cold.  VERY dry.  With olives.”

Of course writing it doesn’t do it justice – you have to hear Lisa’s cadence and emphasis to appreciate it.  But whenever she orders one, I’m powerless to say anything but “I’ll have what she’s having.”

The Proper Martini:

Gear:  Martini Shaker – I find that a dome-top shaker with a built in strainer and cap works well, and have a collection of them.   That said, I find that the BEST Martinis are made in a Boston shaker – which a two-part affair that most pro bartenders use – it has a metal cup that fits into a pint glass – this works great because you can get a bigger “shake” impact out of it – the shaker is larger and allows the ice to build up some speed before it whacks into the other end of the shaker.  The art though is straining it out – you can either use a separate strainer or do the “crack and pour” technique where you create a tiny slot by separating the two halves of the shaker just a bit and pouring from there.

 

Standard shaker

 

 

 

Boston Shaker

 

 

 

Cocktail strainer

 

 

 

Glassware:  the best Martini glasses aren’t those 8-oz monsters they use in restaurants these days – the best ones are 4 ounces – so you’re forced to make a smaller drink that stays cold while you drink it.

Ingredients:

  • Ice.  LOTS of ice.  My friends always kid me about how much ice I use.  But they NEVER complain about my cocktails.
  • Water (you’ll water see in a moment)
  • Premium Vodka or Gin.  Your choice on brands. My faves are Ketel One vodka and Bombay gin (but not Sapphire).
  • Premium white vermouth – my favorite is Noilly Pratt.
  • Olives – I prefer stuffed Manzanilla cocktail olives versus the big queen monsters that taste like all salt.

For ONE proper Martini:

  • 3 oz vodka or gin
  • 1 teaspoon vermouth
  • 1 olive

Pre-chill your glass by filling it with ice to the brim, then filling it with water.  Do this 10 minutes or so before you want to serve your martini.  You can also of course just keep your glasses in the freezer, ready to go.  Or, set it outside in the snow in the winter.

Fill your shaker 3/4 full of ice, and then add the vermouth.  Put the top on the shaker and shake vigorously for about a minute.  This breaks up the ice a bit and also coats the ice with the vermouth.  Pour out the vermouth and any water using the strainer of your shaker.  Remove the top of the shaker and add the vodka or gin.  Put the top and cap on the shaker and shake vigorously for a good minute, then set the shaker down to rest for a moment.  While your shaker is resting, drink the water from your pre-chilling martini glass and toss out the ice.   The water is good hydration – you need it when you drink Martinis!  Pick up your shaker again, and shake for another 20-30 seconds, then uncap the shaker and strain it into a glass.  If you’ve done it right, there will be little shards of ice floating on top of the martini.

Spear your olive with a toothpick, shake off any excess brine (don’t use those lame plastic swords!) and gently place in your glass.  Sip.  Savor.  Ahhh. Sandpaper – it takes the rough edges off.  (Right Lisa?)

Enjoy!

As you were,

Stew

The Ecosystem of Publishing for Visibility

19 Jul

Full disclosure, this is a business post:

iCrossing has posted a blog post I wrote for our company blog, Great Finds on the concept that as a marketer, WHERE you publish content is just as important as the content itself.  For maximum visibility, you should consider the Ecosystem of Publishing for Visibility – publishing in multiple places means your brand’s content can be viewed by as many people as possible, and found by those searching for it.

Great Finds – the iCrossing Blog

~ Stew

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