Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Clear program comes to Denver...

...and we can each get a free month. Read on...

If you travel with any type of frequency, and if you fly out of an airport which participates in Clear's Registered Traveler program, you really have no excuse for not belonging to Clear.

Assuming you value your time, of course.

If you're not familiar with Clear, you can learn more at their website. I've been a member for more than a year, and have saved a huge amount of time and worry, particularly at my home airport of San Jose. I've used Clear probably thirty times, and have saved anywhere from a minute to an hour on each occasion. Clear pays for itself with a single use on a Monday morning at San Jose--by allowing me to sleep a little later, to not worry (as much) about traffic, and/or to avoid queueing in an hour-long line stretching to the parking garage to get through security.

Of course, if you don't mind spending an extra hour per trip trying to waste time (er, be productive) at an airport, be my guest. Otherwise, join Clear.

Some folks have stated that they have concerns about the fact that the Clear program gathers a bunch of information to perform background checks on potential members. That's an accurate statement. However, having studied Clear's data privacy policy, and also knowing a little bit about the background of Steven Brill (Clear's founder), I have minimal concern about Clear's ability to keep my data safe. Are their systems unbreakable, or unable to be compromised? Anyone who believes a statement like that is a fool (whom I pity), and obviously knows little about information assurance or risk mitigation. But, do I believe that they're taking more than the necessary precautions to ensure the continued security and privacy of member data? Yes, I do. In life, everything is a tradeoff. Trading off a bit of personal data (which other locations like my bank, employers, and others already have) for Clear's efficiency and convenience benefits is more than fair.

(Anybody catch the Mr. T and Mike Ditka references in the same paragraph? Wow.)

Clear's Refer-a-Friend program allows new enrollees to receive an extra month on their membership, while also providing me an extra complementary month, too. THAT, my friends, is how referral marketing is supposed to work.

So, if you decide to sign up for Clear, please use my Refer-a-Friend code of SCA74333. We'll each earn an extra month.

See ya airside.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maybe I need to join a union...

I wonder if there's a union for self-employed consultants. I ask this in light of today's brouhaha between the Boston Red Sox, their management, and Major League Baseball. In case you missed it, the Red Sox chose not to take the field for their exhibition game today, and stated that they wouldn't board their flight to Japan for the season opening series unless their demands were met.

I applaud the Red Sox players for taking a stand to ensure that coaches and other non-playing personnel were compensated to make the trip, particularly since A) the players are receiving an additional stipend above and beyond their salaries, and B) non-players received stipends for the two previous season-opening trips to Japan. Particularly cool is that fact that when the league and management only offered to come up with an amount equal to half each player's stipend, the guys pooled their cash to ensure that everyone in the travel party received an equal share.

What I'm not cool with is the amount of the stipend the players are receiving. $40,000 each.

Forty thousand dollars each.

FORTY FRICKIN' GRAND. EACH.

I mean, I don't think I'm turning into Lewis Black here, am I? Doesn't this seem like an exorbitant amount of money to be paying guys who already make a good wage to get on an airplane, do their jobs for a few days, then come home? Hell, this would be a perk in my book. But, what do I know? I'm just a guy who's used to traveling internationally for work, I guess. Oh, and I like sushi.

I don't know the exact schedule, but I'm guessing it plays out something like this...

Thursday: Fly to Japan on chartered 747 (or equivalent) with either all business class seating or an entire row of economy seats per person.

Friday: Arrive Japan; board chartered buses for ride from Narita into town. In fact, since this is such a big dealio, maybe they'll even be able to fly into Haneda, shaving 45 minutes off the trip to the hotel. Speaking of hotels, I doubt that the teams are staying at a Quality Inn...somehow, the Grand Hyatt Roppongi seems more plausible.

Saturday: Workout at Tokyo Dome, get out to get some air, play exhibition game at Tokyo Dome. Head to Ginza or Roppongi to shop. Alternately, hole up in hotel room and play PS3. Complain about food.

Sunday: See Saturday.

Monday: See Saturday, minus the exhibition game.

Tuesday: Morning workout, air, play night game.

Wednesday: Morning workout, air, play night game.

Thursday: Fly home, arriving back in the U.S. prior to the time of Thursday's departure. Tell press either A) how much you enjoyed the trip, that you believe everyone should make such a trip, and that you were honored to be part of the delegation, or B) complain about the food, mention that you stayed in the hotel the whole time playing PS3 because Tokyo is too crowded.

Is that worth $40,000 to you? Heck, I think a lot of us would do it for $4,000. Or a plane ticket, a room, and a sashimi moriawase. This year's major league minimum salary is $390,000. Now I can do the math and say that a $40,000 bonus for the "hardship" of "having to travel to Japan" for a couple of games which count (and a couple which don't) is less than a 10% bonus for even the lowliest rookie. I can also say that these guys are making enough money that maybe just showing up and honoring your contract is compensation enough.

Another way to do the math is that the traveling parties are gone for 8 days; on a $40,000 stipend, that's $5,000 a day. Now, granted, that wouldn't cover Governor Spitzer's outlay, but for pretty much anybody else, an extra $5k a day to do your job is a pretty decent bonus.

Kudos to the players for taking a stand, particularly to even out the stipends for all the non-playing travelers. But, c'mon...I don't expect to hear a peep out of anyone about what a difficult trip this is.

And if you're a rep for the self-employed consultants union, feel free to drop me a note.

I'm not suggesting that it WAS a problem...

The proper response to "Thank you" is "You're welcome".  The proper response is NOT "No Problem".  If I wanted that response, rather than saying "Thank you", I would've asked "Was that a problem?"

Am I the only one annoyed by this usage?

P.S.  I've heard "competency" used at least a half-dozen times this week.  Kill me now.  And, ironically, killing is something Marines are good at...part of their competence.  Which shouldn't be a problem.

Thank you.

Another word which doesn't exist...

"Operationalization", which was used in a briefing today at the Marine Corps Information Assurance Conference. The content of the conference has been extremely good, but seeing that word made me want to go out and purchase an $800 hammer.

And use it on my head.