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Saturday, February 19, 2005

A different perspective

I've always considered tattoos a form of self-mutilation. But comedian Richard Jeni has an interesting take on it:

"I always look for a woman who has a tattoo. I see a woman with a tattoo, and I'm thinking, okay, here's a gal who's capable of making a decision she'll regret in the future."

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Friday, February 18, 2005

Hey, United. Pfffffffbbbbbttt!

Southwest Airlines announced four flights between Chicago Midway and Pittsburgh yesterday, with initial pricing of only $29 for a one-way fare.

Contrast that to the $35 cab fare from my Chicago apartment to Midway; the $45 fare from Greater Pitt to my home in South Park; and the $190 United wanted to charge me when I booked two weeks in advance for my current trip back here.

Scroll down a couple entries for my latest experience with United.

What's so irritating about this situation is that I saw it coming back in January.

Southwest's normal one-way full fare is $79, and that's fully refundable and reschedulable. The only restriction is you have to buy a ticket one hour(!) before the scheduled flight.

Now to be honest, I'm really not looking forward to flying Southwest. I'd prefer to go United, and would be willing to pay $20-$30 more for the luxury of reserved seating and a more sedate environment.

It'll be interesting to see where United, Useless Air and American price their Chicago-Pittsburgh fares now that there's competition in the marketplace.

In any event, I'll probably use United only for business flights and hold on to my miles so I can unload them on a nice vacation trip; or dump them on a lot of quick flights back home when it appears they're going under for good.

---

Graphic of the week: behind a Daily Show story on the impending marriage of Princes Charles and Camilla- "Bride of Chucky."

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Daily Squash Regimen?

PA Senator Arlen Specter, 75, diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, is expected to beat the illness. According to his doctor, "he is in superb physical condition, particularly in light of his daily squash regimen.".

Daily squash regimen? He gets a pumpkin a day? A zucchini? Precisely how is it administered?

(Sorry. Couldn't pass that one up. Specter is a rare breed these days: a moderate Republican. I strongly disagree with many of his policies, and am very concerned about him being in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee. What he did to Anita Hill was abominable, but- he did oppose the Bork nomination, voted against Bush's inane tax cuts, and was one of the few Republican senators who voted to acquit in the Clinton impeachment. And he does fight the good fight for Pennsylvania. Good luck, Senator.)

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Quote of the day

The trial has been delayed because Michael [Jackson] had to be rushed to the hospital due to the flu. No word yet on his condition but I bet we can rule out "stable."-David Letterman

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, we are screwing you. Have a nice day.

My letter to United:

-----Original Message-----
Received: 1/31/05 11:36:42 AM
Subject: Customer Relations email from Kevin Barkes
Message type: Complaint
Response required: Yes

I flew United over 40 times last year, mostly between O'Hare and Pittsburgh. I notice that instead of the $160-$250 fare that I've normally been paying, the fare for a round-trip in mid-February is $381. I can only assume you've increased your fare because of the departure of ATA from the market. I think you'll find that screwing faithful customers for short-term gain isn't a particularly smart business move. I plan on using my MileagePlus miles for my flights between and O'Hare and Pittsburgh until the arrival of Southwest. At that point, I suspect I will become a Southwest customer.

Kevin Barkes

Their response?

Dear Mr. Barkes:

Thanks for contacting us about your unhappiness with our fares between Chicago and Pittsburgh. Most airlines base their airfares on the cost of doing business at a realistic profit. Since our customers purchase tickets for varied reasons, we offer a range of discounted and regular fares. To determine the appropriate mix of fares for any given market, we consider such factors as the number of seats offered, customer demand, date and time of travel, as well as the pricing of our competitors. We closely monitor all airline-pricing developments and make adjustments when necessary, so we can offer the most economical pricing to our customers. As with any business we monitor customer feedback. We value your comments, which will help us in establishing our pricing structure in the future.

Notes:

United wasn't the only airline taking advantage of ATA's departure. The price was the same on American and USAir as well.

United also seems to have abandoned its "Everyday Low Fares" policy. Until ATA's departure, the price for a flight booked more than three days in advance was the same as one booked three weeks in advance. No more.

On Feb 15, I priced several round trip flights from O'Hare to Pittsburgh:

Leave 2/19, return on 2/28, lowest non-stop fare: $532.40

Leave 2/26, return on 3/7, lowest non-stop fare: $148.40

United also has weekend e-fares; depart Saturday, return on Monday or Tuesday.

For example, this weekend, book by Friday:

Leave 2/19, return 2/22: $153.40.

But if you can't leave until Sunday morning, 2/20:

Leave 2/20, return 2/22: $469.80.

And United, US Airways and the other traditional airlines wonder why the discounters are killing them. I'd be willing to pay $20-$40 more than a discounter to fly on United. But $300?

Keep drinking the Kool-Aid, guys. It won't be much longer.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Only in England

"Camilla's great-grandmother was the mistress of Charles' great-great-grandfather, and her ex-husband once dated Charles' sister. You do realize that if these people were Americans, they'd be on Jerry Springer.-Jay Leno

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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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