Skip to main content
All Posts By


For the Long Run

By BusinessNo Comments

A couple of good articles by Jason Kottke “Asking ‘who’s the customer?'” and a follow on from John Gruber “On the Long-Term Viability of Apple’s Customer-First Strategy” that are worth reading. They both have interesting comments regarding the Church of Maximizing Shareholder Value and how that undermines serving customers well.

Jason Kottke seems to characterise the “big investment banks, mutual funds, and hedge funds who buy their stock” as something completely removed from customers. But he doesn’t go quite enough with his logic. Those entities have their own customers, be they individual retail customers buying mutual funds or institutional customers like pension funds that are paying out to their customers, like the average retired teacher, civil servant, or factory worker (if the pensions are properly funded that is, but that’s another story…). So it goes full circle and perversely this customer pressures the mutual fund (by voting with their money) or institutional investor to perform, and they in turn push on companies to maximize shareholder value by making changes that aren’t necessarily in the interest of  the person who started the whole thing.

Read More

Rebranding the Fuel Surcharge

By PricingNo Comments

I was shopping for a flight to London Heathrow in December and noticed that with the rapid drop in crude and fuel prices last Fall, Air Canada quietly rebranded their Fuel Surcharge to “Carrier Surcharge”.

From Air Canada’s site under International (emphasis mine):

Carrier Surcharges: Carrier surcharges are included in the Air Transportation Charges and are collected by airlines to partially offset certain volatile, unpredictable or fluctuating operating costs and fees, and certain fare Premiums linked to peak travel periods. These carrier surcharges can be used to offset some (among others) of the following costs: fuel, navigational charges, or select peak travel dates to/from certain destinations.

It’s not just about fuel anymore, you see? It’s about managing “fare Premiums linked to peak travel periods”! Which sounds a lot like increasing our prices when demand is high. Didn’t that used to happen by changing fares?

Read More

Learning to Fly — This is Going to Require Some Work

By AviationNo Comments

[This post was written back in October and I’m just getting around to posting it]

Three flying lessons in and two things are clear: it is very fun and it is challenging. I am not sure how many people get into airplanes and are “naturals” but I don’t feel like I’m among them them!  Clearly, developing this skill is going to require some work. And it doesn’t appear to have any shortcuts.

Each lesson has the same structure: A fifteen minute ground briefing in the classroom where we review some aeronautical principles and how we are going to demonstrate them in the air. I inspect the aircraft and run through various checklists with Nico observing. The 45–60 minute air lesson itself. And then a quick ground debriefing of what went by in a blur. It goes by fast.

Say what you will about the cost of flight training (and my credit card bill will say plenty) but there is something great about a one-to-one learning environment. When my instructor asks a question in the briefing or in the air, there is no hiding place. You better at least take a stab at it. I have probably been doing a better job pre-reading materials than in any degree courses but it is still challenging to recall a fact on the spot with the instructor waiting. And of course, sometimes I’m just wildly wrong. I have a patient teacher in Nico so far. The whole thing forces you to learn concepts quickly and then get in the airplane and use them. It’s great fun.

Learning to Fly — (Finally) Going For It

By AviationNo Comments

[Note: This was written in September 2014, just prior to my first flying lesson]

I have decided that I am going to learn to fly.

I have been fascinated with the thought of flying for as long as I can remember. As a child, one of my Dad’s friends had a plane and we went for a flight where he let me take the controls. I have always looked forward to the opportunity to fly in small airplanes when they have come up. I used to love following United Airlines “Channel 9” cockpit communications back when it was available. And I have long been an internet voyeur of aviation trying to exhaust YouTube (note to self: not possible) and reading pretty much whatever I could find on and the like even though I only had a partial understanding of it as a non-pilot.

Last year, Timberly bought me an introductory flight with a local charter operation in Squamish. It was an incredibly beautiful flight on a crisp December day, and we cruised around North of Squamish with clear views of Mt. Baker to the South and Vancouver Island to the West. I was able to take the controls, do some turns, check out crevasses in the mountains below, and generally cruise around. My pilot for the day, Carlos, explained to me some of the basics of mountain flying and reading terrain, and we experienced some light and moderate turbulence as we cruised around the leeward side of some mountains.

And then — bang! — we experienced a sudden downward movement that put my head into the roof along with the loose contents of the airplane. I’m not too proud to acknowledge that it gave me a pretty good fright. Carlos told me that it was enough of a disturbance to be classified as “severe turbulence”. We kept flying and Carlos took us in for the landing. He remarked that he would have been “worried if you weren’t a little freaked out by that”. I’m glad I passed that test. I left with an odd mixture of exhilaration and trepidation. Do I really want to do this? Because those couple of seconds were genuinely unpleasant. I was planning on doing this for fun —  aren’t hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable!

Well, a great spring and summer of 2014 passed by but flying has continued to be on my brain. A lot. I cannot explain what has been attracting me all these years but I have decided that it’s now-or-never to get started. I figure I will either love it for the rest of my life or I will have some sense beaten into me.

If Warren Miller ski movies have taught me one thing, it’s that if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do. So here we go….

Welcome to 1995

By UncategorizedNo Comments

A blog? What is this—1995?

Despite being a lover of all things technology-related, I have not embraced social media. Sure, I have all of the requisite Big Social accounts and I’m competent enough to use them. But I have always been hesitant to share much on very public forums.

Here’s the thing though—I am a secret writer of unfinished works. When I go on holiday, I write a few journal entries to myself. I have drafted op-eds related to work. I have written about mountain bike related subjects. Recently, I have been documenting my journey of learning to fly an airplane. Most of these have ended up in the same sad abandoned state on some hard drive. I don’t regret writing them. Writing has served its purpose as a relaxing leisure activity or as an outlet to vent and then delete. But I want to finish some of this stuff and publishing seems like the motivator to do it.

So what’s this blog going to be about anyway? Well, I am going to ignore advice to have a singular focus. While I am far too private of a person to bore you with the mundane details of what I had for breakfast and the like (you’re welcome), I expect that my posts will fall under the following broad categories (in no particular order):

  • Business, Marketing, and the Energy Industry1
  • Mountain Biking and Road Cycling
  • Aviation (my newest hobby)

1995, here I come.

1 A note on my employer: While I have been a proud employee of Chevron for the past nine years, this is my personal web site and the opinions expressed here are my own. While I may cover some ground related to the energy industry and fuel pricing because I have formed opinions in my professional career, I will likely not speak on behalf of the company here. If I do, I will state so explicitly.