Let Virgin America Fly

Anyone who has known me for any amount of time knows that I've always harbored a life-long ambition to start an airline. If I was daydreaming at school or work, chances are I was daydreaming about starting an airline and all of the details like what food it would have and what the livery would be like. Well as fate would have it, I'm finally living that dream. I'm starting an airline.dl00087.jpg Since last August I have been part of the founding team at Virgin America. In fact I was the 79th employee. We're already closing on 200. In the months that I have been there I have been able to take part in the creation of what I know will become one of the biggest milestones in airline history. My official role is head of interactive marketing (aka the web guy) but I have been in pricing meetings, given my two cents about routes, interviewed people for roles throughout the company, and witnessed the creation of something I am humbled to be a part of. I've also never worked so hard in my life. A startup is a startup, regardless of the industry and I, like everyone else in the company, wear multiple hats. It has been an emotional journey too, with tentative DoT rejections, constant jabs from most of the legacy carriers, and the ever changing state of the US airline industry. But this week marked the most significant moments in my time at Virgin America. We revealed our cabin and in-flight amenities for the first time. This is what we've all been working towards. This is what it's all about. This is what I've wanted to tell you all about since I started working there but, for obvious reasons, was not able to. The most revolutionary In-Flight Entertainment system in the country (one might argue the world.) The most beautiful planes (inside and out) that I have ever seen. The most comfortable seats I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in. This is going to change the way people fly. This is going to set the new standard. But you might never get to enjoy it. For reasons that don't bear explaining here (if you want to read about it, go here) the Department of Transportation is having trouble granting us our right to fly. The tentatively rejected our application on December 28th and we replied to the rejection last week. For 18 straight days before that I, and some dedicated colleagues, worked on a campaign to let the public know about us and our situation, and to invite them to help. The end result was letVAfly.com. We created the site to show people what we're all about and allow them to help join our fight. Check it out. So I'm asking you to help. Sign the petition, write to congress, spread the word. Send this link to everyone you know...EVERYONE. Email it to friends, family, colleagues; post it on your intranet at work, post it on your blog or myspace or whatever. There's a lot at stake here.

home despot

53289157.jpgI would like to make a declaration. Let this be recorded in the annals of history, and in the chronicles of mankind.I....F**KING...HATE....HOME IMPROVEMENT. It is not fun. It is not rewarding. It is not wonderful to feel a hammer on a nail, or a saw on a piece of wood. It is not entertaining to bleed profusely after you impail yourself with the 5/16" bit on your drill after not realizing you have it in reverse and trying to drill a hole in the wall. And I know exactly where this loathing comes from. I not only hate home improvement: I'm also really, really bad at it. I mean I really suck. And most people don't enjoy things at which they suck. There aren't many people who cover the ceiling in bloody handprints when they install a ceiling fan, or use 8 screws to hang a picture to a wall. The Good Lord was kind enough to bless me with many skills I can use on a day to day basis...but when when it comes to home improvement, He decided to make me slightly retarded. Suffice to say, the last few weeks have been a maelstrom of blood, sweat, drywall, and profanity, the likes of which ye have never seen. Nevertheless, we have perservered and, incredibly, built an entire kitchen. With my father-in-law's guidance and my wife's tenacity and practicality, we have sallied forth. I know there have been a couple of times where they have both watched me attempt some minor task and thought to themselves "Wait, no, he probably shouldn't use that to..oh OH...ok that's going to need stitches." But there have been some positives out of this. I've learned some new skills, like replacing drywall, installing a bathtub (Tip: when installing a bathtub, it helps to swear at it throughout the entire process), plumbing, and how to apply a torniquet to a minor flesh wound. Although it has been, and will continue to be, a "personal growth" experience for me, next time, we're hiring someone to do it. Because I think I've said "Just need to...push...a...little...harder..........crap, we're gonna need a new one of those," enough times to have paid for several contractors.

Decaf Alex

Caffeine1.pngAbout two months ago, I completely eliminated caffeine from my diet. Why on earth would I do such a thing, you say? Well I wanted to see what would happen - that's the simple answer. The rest of the answer is that I wasn't sleeping as well as I would have liked and I had a feeling that caffeine was a contributing factor. Couple that with all the stress at work and of selling the house, etc, the last thing I needed was to be even more wired. So I decided to stop drinking anything with caffeine in it.Now for a lot of people, this wouldn't be that much of a challenge, but remember I'm a geek, and geek's thrive on caffeine. My consumption of Diet Coke had reached epic proportions, eclipsed only by that of my wife, whose Diet Coke habit keeps the Coca-Cola Company in business. So when I embarked on this endeavor, many people said I wouldn't last a week, and I must admit, towards the middle of the first week, I thought they might be right. For those of you who haven't given up caffeine, it can be a pretty brutal task. For caffeine junkies, missing a regular intake of soda or coffee during the day can result in a "caffeine headache" - a particulary nasty headache that is only tamed by, you guessed it, caffeine. "Continued consumption of caffeine can lead to tolerance. Upon withdrawal, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine, causing the blood pressure to drop dramatically, leading to headache and other symptoms.1" For the first few days of my experiment I was prone to these headaches, but I quickly discovered that a couple of glasses of water would put them at ease. I don't believe in taking pain killers for headaches - they do too much damage for the short term relief they provide. Anyway, after I got through the first week, things started getting much better. The headaches were gone and I was feeling pretty good. The most noticable and immediate benefit was that I was sleeping much better than before. I wouldn't wake up with my mind racing at 4:30am and not be able to go back to sleep. "Any accumulated sleep debt will be fully felt on withdrawal as well. 2" I was able to go to bed at a reasonable hour and not fidget for ages before eventually falling asleep. I was waking up refreshed and ready for the day. Secondly, I noticed I was able to relax more. I didn't get stressed out at work as easily, I was calmer and able to concentrate for longer. "Caffeine intoxication can lead to symptoms similar to those of panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.3" Thirdly, it's resulted in me drinking a lot more water. Before, whenever I was thirsty, I would just run down to the vending machine and grab a soda. Now, I have no choice but to drink water. I fill up my pitcher and usually end up drinking the whole thing over the course of the day. So after enjoying the obvious benefits of zero caffeine intake for a few months I decided to do another little experiment. I wanted to judge what would happen if I gradually and sporadically re-introduced caffeine into my diet. During my caffeine binge days, one soda would not effect me at all - it wouldn't make my hyper or alert or anything like that. I wanted to see if this was still the case now that I had purged my system of caffeine. Around 2pm one afternoon I was starting to drag. "I need a pick me up," I thought to myself. That's when I decided to see how caffeine would affect me. So I grabbed a Diet Coke and waited to see what would happen. It definitely had the desired "pick-me-up" effect. I was impressed - caffeine actually works as advertised.....but only if it's not coarsing through your veins already. But will that get me back to regularly drinking caffeine? I don't think so. The benefits of removing it from my system far outweigh the benefits of drinking it regularly. And the occasional "pick-me-up" actually has meaning now. 1 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine#Metabolism_and_toxicology 2 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine#Metabolism_and_toxicology 3 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine#Metabolism_and_toxicology

New Horizons

Last Friday was a milestone (albeit a minor one) in my career. It was my last day at Robert Half. After almost four years, I'm moving on. I'll let you know more about my new position after I've been there a little longer.Anyway, as I said to many people when I left on Friday, I'm not particularly sad to be leaving RHI, but I *am* sad to be leaving some great people. I made some good friends at RHI over the four years that I was there. But there were a lot of people there who just didn't get it; and to them I say this - Leave. Right now. Go write that book, go make that movie, go record that album, go on that roadtrip, go make that baby, go visit your college roommate, go call your mother, go learn how to fly/play golf/scuba dive/speak french, go work on that open source project, go to the beach and just sit there, go to San Francisco and remind yourself why you live here, go do SOMETHING that means something to you. Even if you just go on vacation, at least do it. You're not curing cancer, you're not creating world peace. Whatever you're working on, it can wait until tomorrow. Go home and spend some time with your family. Take a deep breath....and relax. It's not that important. You're all good people, and some of the smartest I have ever met in my life. Go make it happen.

All depressing, all the time

I woke up this morning feeling rather chipper for some reason. It was a beautiful day and despite having to get to work early for four hours of useless training, I had a spring in my step.Then I turned on the radio and within 15 minutes:

  • Landon Donovan officially returns from Germany and joins the Galaxy (Fuck you Landon, by the way.)
  • Terry Schiavo dies - I don't really have an opinion on this whole issue, but it's still sad when someone dies, especially under such terrible circumstances.
  • They play a 911 tape of a 5 year old girl who woke up to discover both her parents had been killed by an intruder. Wow. That killed my buzz. I'm going to stop listening to the news when I'm in a good mood.

  • Instant Karma

    I heard about this story on the radio this morning. A woman and her husband have dedicated their lives to caring for abandoned babies. She pioneered the California safe-haven law that allows mothers to give up their babies without fear of prosecution. 46 states now have similar laws. She even set up a cemetery to give abandoned babies a proper burial should they die after beging abandoned. And all of this on a modest teacher's salary.Well last month, things changed. Her and her husband won the lottery. $27million. They get $9million after taxes and they plan to set up a scholarship for each of the babies that are buried in the cemetery. Two scholarships per baby at $100,000 per year. They're giving away almost all of their winnings. This just blew my mind. I used to think that the old adage "nice guys finish last" was becoming truer and truer, but this gives me hope that good things do in fact happen to good people. I know we all say that if we won big on the lottery we'd give a lot to charity. I have one thing to say to that. Bullshit. You wouldn't give a dime. It's very easy to say that when you piss away $5 on the lottery each week without seeing a dime, but would you say the same thing when you have an oversized check for $27 million staring you in the face? Hell no. No. No. No. If you say you would, you're lying. These people are unique. They are the exception to the rule, and it couldn't have come at a more appropriate time of year. As we're being bombarded with commercialism at its lowest, it takes something like this to slap us up side the head and remind us that it's not always about the bling-bling. Take a moment to consider that.

    This is a little frightening

    From BoingBoing:Mark Frauenfelder: Is Bush Wired? is a site that speculates on whether the President has a teeny earphone that prompts him during speeches and conferences. "Television viewers have sometimes heard another voice speaking Bush's words before he says them. When Bush spoke at D-Day ceremonies in France last June, for example, viewers watching on CNN, Fox and MSNBC, including mediachannel.org's Danny Schechter, were startled to hear another voice speaking Bush's words as if to prompt him. Some said this continued into a q & a. And on the night of 9/11, when Bush appeared on television to address the nation, viewers of one television station in Quincy, Massachusetts heard another voice speaking, slowly and carefully, a few words at a time -- words which were then recited by the president. The voice was nondescript, male, definitely not the president's voice, says Quincy resident Robyn Miller. This went on for at least four sentences, she says, and then the "extra" feed was cut off." http://www.isbushwired.com/

    Why English is the hardest language to learn

    100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in EnglishI found this link over at Andy Baio's site. Having the linguistic fetish that I do, I found it fascinating. There's some great entries in there such as "bidness" (for business, "nucular" (for nuclear), and "Heineken Remover" (Heimlich maneuver). There's also the classics that are mispronounced such as acrossed, drownd, excape, excetera, Febyuary, and heighth. And my old favorite: 'erb for Herb - "Does, "My friend Herb grows 'erbs," sound right to you? This is a US oddity generated by the melting pot (mixed dialects). Initial [h] is always pronounced outside America and should be in all dialects of English." But they missed two of the ones that really irk me - clique and niche. Anybody who knows me will know how much I hate it when they're pronounced "click" and "nich". That drives me absolutely bonkers! Now I know there's exceptions to every rule, ESPECIALLY in English, but it's a quiche (keesh) right? Not a "kich". And it's technique (not teknik) and antique (not antik) right? So why would niche and clique be any different? Now I'm told that "klik" is an "accepted" pronunciation but only because of years of mispronunciation. Same with "nich". Still drives me nuts though. Ok, let me get off my high horse here for a second. Reading through this list, there were some words I didn't know I was mispronouncing. Yes, that's a public admission I've been pronouncing words incorrectly. For example, I didn't know with "diptheria" the "ph" in this word is pronounced [f], not [p]. The same with "sherbert", apparently it's pronounced "sherbet." Who knew? Anyway, an interesting collection of words and phrases. I love words. Yeah, I'm a dork.

    Walk a mile

    As I drove into work this morning, I pondered out loud how downtrodden I was. How unfair it was I had to be at work on such a beautiful day, how the traffic was so awful, and how I had another mundane eight hours ahead of me. I was really feeling sorry for myself. Until I hear this:"Ten terrorist bombs tore through trains and stations along a commuter line at the height of Madrid's morning rush hour, killing more than 190 people and wounding 900." These people were all on their way to work, too. Or going to see friends, family, spouses. They probably don't even know what happened. They wouldn't have had time to react. For those who weren't killed but injured, their lives have changed forever. I need to stop whining and appreciate the relative security in which I live.

    It just keeps getting better

    Alexi Lalas is the new GM of the Earthquakes. A guy that was a Galaxy player a few months ago is our new GM. I really hope this is some highly elaborate practical joke. I feel sick.http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/soccer/7806386.htm U.S. soccer icon Alexi Lalas will be named general manager of the Earthquakes at a news conference today in San Jose, according to sources. Lalas, 33, was a defender on the United States' 1994 World Cup team and among the most popular players in the country when Major League Soccer launched in 1996. Lalas' move into the front office will be a quick transition: He was a player on the Los Angeles Galaxy until he was released earlier this month.

    Hands off!

    Update: Earthquakes GM Johnny Moore just resigned. F*CK!!!Update 2: Manny Lagos traded to Columbus for Draft Picks "Mexican soccer giant Club America could take over the Earthquakes before the start of the upcoming season, according to Club America President Javier Perez Teuffer and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber." Oh you've got to be kidding me. Yes, this was reported in the San Jose Mercury News this morning...and it has fans like me, foaming at the mouth. We have a good investor/operator in AEG, why change things. But wait, it gets worse, look at what the potential changes might be: - Teuffer said that Mexican players would be brought to the San Jose squad. We already have a good team...a CHAMPIONSHIP team. Look, I know how international soccer works, you bring in better players to make the franchise better. But don't bring in Mexican players just for the sake of bringing in Mexican players, that doesn't make sense. - Teuffer also said the Earthquakes' name would be changed to ``America.'' Ack. Double Ack. There is no currently-used name in American professional soccer that has a longer history than "San Jose Earthquakes", and they want to dump it? - ``In the long term, we will not be able to stay in a city without a viable stadium situation,'' Garber said The only way a team is going to build up any type of loyalty is by staying in the same town with the same name and catering to the same fans. Granted, the stadium issue is problematic but AEG already talked about that when acquired the club. Several loyal fans have already cancelled their season tickets in protest (something I NEVER thought I would see) and the debate is raging over at BigSoccer. Sadly, as soon as someone protests this news, they're branded as a racist and a xenophobe, neither of which are true. We're fans of the San Jose Earthquakes, the development ground for some outstanding American players. If this happens, it's a giant step backwards for U.S. Soccer and the MLS. Update: Earthquakes GM Johnny Moore just resigned. F*CK!!!

    Governor this

    So we have a new a Governor in California. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger wiped the floor with anyone and everyone. The recall was a given. Frankly I'm not sure how I feel about it. I thought the whole idea or a recall was ridiculous and typically Californian to start off with. I also thought it set a dangerous precident going forward. No incumbent is safe, no state tax payer is immune from shelling out x million dollars to bankroll another recall election should the loyal citizens of a certain state get bored with their elected official.I've been told that our recall election was "democracy in action" - BS; it was a Republican with too much money and a series of bad events in action. What WAS democracy in action was the fact that more people voted in the recall election than in the 2000 presidential election. People were galvanized into action by this whole thing; they became personally involved. That had been sorely missing from local and national elections for sometime now. Overall though, my reaction to this election as a liberal is "meh." It could have been worse; we could have had that ghastly Bill Simon as Governor. Better to have a Republican who's a social Liberal and a fiscal Conservative - in fact, that's more likely to piss off the Conservatives. Arnie is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro domestic partnerships...the hallmarks of a fastidious liberal. How he plans to fix our current budget situation by repealing the car registration hike and without raising taxes ought to be interesting to see. In the meantime, I urge you to read this little commentary I found from a fellow Californian http://www.adamcadre.ac/calendar/10837.html

    That'll teach you to go to Disneyland.

    It's official, somebody died at Disneyland."A locomotive broke loose from a train on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster Friday, killing a man and injuring 10 other riders, officials said." I fucking hate Disneyland and people have always said to me, no one's ever died at Disneyland etc, and I would always come up with technicalities about a plane crash in the parking lot and things like that but now I've got them. No technicalities, no nothing. He's dead, he died in the park, and that's that. Incidentally, I'd like to put an end, here and now, to all the rumors and urban legends saying that no one has ever died at Disneyland. EIGHT people have died at Disney Theme parks since 1955. August 1967: Ricky Lee Yama, a 17-year-old Hawthorne, CA, resident, was killed when he disregarded safety instructions and exited his People Mover car as the ride was passing through a tunnel. June 1973: Bogden Delaurot, an 18-year-old Brooklyn resident, drowned trying to swim across the Rivers of America. 7 June 1980: Gerardo Gonzales, a recent San Diego high school graduate, was killed on the People Mover in an accident much like the one that had befallen Ricky Lee Yama thirteen years earlier. 4 June 1983: Philip Straughan, an 18-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident, also drowned in the Rivers of America in yet another Grad Nite incident. 3 January 1984: Dolly Regene Young, a 48-year-old Fremont, CA, resident, was killed on the Matterhorn in an incident remarkably similar to the first Disneyland guest death nearly twenty years earlier. 24 December 1998: In a tragic Christmas Eve accident, one Disneyland cast member and two guests were injured (one fatally) when a rope used to secure the sailing ship Columbia as it docked on the Rivers of America tore loose the metal cleat to which it was attached. ...and now... 5 September 2003 - Guy dies when Thunder Mountain derails in tunnel. Don't get me wrong, I think it's terrible that the poor guy died. I feel sad for his family and friends. But, in a morbid way, I'd like to thank him for proving my point. Oh yeah, and to anyone who says "But Alex, no one is ever pronounced dead at Disneyland...." Wrong again, bucko. There have been three incidents where people have been pronounced dead at Disneyland. It's not the happiest place on earth when you die there.

    The whole (vending machine) world sucks

    A conversation that took place between myself and our nearest vending machine (some creative license taken......obviously):Me (to myself): Let's see here, a nice frosty Diet Coke will help me through this mind numbing afternoon. Vending Machine: Hehe sucka. Me: What? Vending Machine: Nothing. Me: Huh...oh well. Ok let's see here (shuffles in pocket) hey a pocket full of silvers, alright! I put sixty cents into the vending machine and press the Diet Coke button Vending Machine: (grind grind click) That'll be sixty cents please. Me: But I put it sixty cents. Vending Machine: No you didn't. Me: Yes I did. Vending Machine: No, seriously you didn't. See, look... (grind kachunk) A old nasty penny falls into the change slot Vending Machine: You put a penny in, not a dime. Me: Dude, I didn't even have a penny in my pocket, let alone one that looked like that! Vending Machine: Yes you did. Me: No I didn't! (slap) Vending Machine: Hey! Me: Give me my goddamn soda! Vending Machine: No Me: Why the hell not!? Vending Machine: Cos....you hit me... (pause) Vending Machine:...and you didn't give me enough money. Me: Oh that's it (KICK!) Vending Machine: HEY! Y'know what? Fine. You've ruined it for everyone. Me: What? Vending Machine: Me: (Walking Away) You bastard. Vending Machine: sucka.


    So I left work at 10pm last night...second 12+ hour day in a row. We created nine new sites, translated in 8 different languages, in 3 hours. Of course by the time everyone had left for the night, the problems started appearing; the cracks in the proverbial framework. And who was left to fix them? YOURS TRULY! YAY!Of course, as it always is, other people cutting corners meant I had to clean up their shit at 9:30pm, resulting in the pulling of my hair out and the scratching of eyes at crappy code. But then you get the horrible feeling when you're looking at code and you go "What the hell was this idiot doing?!" and then you realize it's your own code. Clich