Change in Plans

“Wait a sec… I think I just… Yeah, I just had an idea.”

Lloyd Christmas, Dumb & Dumber

A funny thing happened on the way to Phoenix. As I was sitting in the airport in Rochester, Minn. I had finished a post previewing a series on using Facebook for qualitative market research, and promised that my next few posts would flesh out this concept step-by-step. But some First Class brainstorming on the flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix has caused me to think more expansively. I have some more details to work out, but as I do I will return to that concept of Facebook Focus groups as part of the the broader framework.

So here’s a review of my Sunday travel experience, and a look ahead to the Frost & Sullivan conference, from which I plan to be blogging.

  • Goofy TSA moment: It might not be exactly a TSA responsibility as much as a general transportation regulation issue. As I disembarked from the tiny plane that had made the puddle jump from Rochester to Minneapolis, most of the passengers were gathered around the door where the luggage that had been checked planeside (mine included) was about to be delivered. The area was packed, and I didn’t want to block the doorway, so I set my laptop bag in one of the chairs just inside the waiting area near the gate. The gate attendant noted that I had broken the plane of the doorway (as Marion Barber, III just did to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead over the Giants), so as I popped back in she said, “Sir, since you left the gate I’m going to need to have you show me your boarding pass.” Me: “You’ve got to be kidding.” Answer: “I’m NOT kidding. Regulations say that when passengers leave the gate area, they need to show their boarding pass.” This wasn’t a big deal. I pulled it right out of my coat pocket and it was quickly resolved. But to the extent that devotion to regulation enforcement has trumped common sense (she knew I had been on the plane, and watched me walk up the ramp and set my laptop bag 18 inches outside the gate and step back in), it’s a sign that Mark Steyn is right. If we’re entrusting our security to aggressive enforcement of the gate regulations instead of, say, the porous borders through which the next 9/11-type terrorists could enter, that’s a losing proposition.
  • Upgraded Seating. What led to my first-class brainstorming was being in, well… First Class. I had just gotten notification that I had achieved Silver Elite status with Northwest Airlines based on my travel for 2007. Our Carlson Travel group assistant had noticed that I had been booked in a middle seat, and sent my assistant a note saying that with Silver Elite I could book premium seats at no charge through anytime before the flight, and had changed me to aisle seats. I’m still not sure exactly how I ended up in First Class. If anyone can fill me in on how this Silver Elite thing works and what I need to do to have the best chance of getting upgrades, I’d welcome the explanation, because I’m really new at it, and it was nice to not be crowded, and to get an omelette instead of Pringle’s.
  • Spiritual Social Media. Because my first flight was at 7:15 and I didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 11:20, I didn’t get to go to church. I watched a John Piper sermon on my video iPod. I’ve written previously about how I appreciated what Dr. Piper and the Desiring God Ministries team have done with podcasts through their radio without radio initiative. Now R.C. Sproul, another of my favorites, also offers his daily radio program as a podcast.

After Dr. Piper’s sermon (and finishing another good book I’ll be reviewing soon), I was in a great frame of mind for heavy-duty brainstorming. I look forward to sharing those ideas as I refine them further. Meanwhile, the Frost & Sullivan conference is about to begin, in an hour or so, so it’s time to hit the showers after having gone for a run here at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa. It’s a really nice place, and the weather is fantastic.

My next few posts will be about what I’m learning here. I attended another of these Frost & Sullivan events last July and blogged about it. I expect this one will give me lots of material, too.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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