Monthly Archives: November 2009

November Travels: London, Oslo, Honolulu, and More

On Sunday, November 1, I flew back to Europe, landing at Heathrow on Monday morning. Zipped into town on the Tube.

Canary Wharf, London's newer financial district, on approach to Heathrow Airport

As I often did in the years when American landed at Gatwick, I rode in while listening to the Beatles on my iPhone. It always fit – and did that day when “Love Is All You Need,” accompanied an older couple smooching next to me. Nice!

Ambled a block from the Gloucester Road station to my hotel, the Grange Strathmore. It was before ten and no rooms were ready, but the wait was not long (proof once again of the wisdom of being nice to front-desk staff, in this case a young guy from some new EU member in Eastern Europe). Unlike the June visit, the room was actually of reasonable size. I showered, changed clothes, and zipped back to the Tube, pausing to buy – as I always do in November in the UK – a remembrance poppy to benefit war veterans. I rode to Piccadilly, and walked south on Regent Street and west to Trafalgar Square.First stop was a yak with a Korean War vet selling poppies, a nice T-t-S moment, then into St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, where organ rehearsal was underway.

Detail, St. Martin-in-the-Fields


I had not been in the National Gallery in more than a decade. A huge collection must be reduced given limited time, so I made fast for my favorite European school, Dutch painting from the 17th Century. Two aspects attract: the light in the skies and on clouds (what Sir Kenneth Clark called “the light of experience”), and the comfort of ordinary domestic scenes – inside a pub, in the barnyard, on a frozen canal. Great stuff. Grabbed lunch at Pret a Manger (McDonald’s wildly successful fresh-sandwich shops), then crossed the street to the National Portrait Gallery.

I had never been there, and whoa, it was awesome. An amble through the history of the island, through the faces and bodies of its prominent citizens. For example, Edward Jenner, a West Country surgeon (1749-1823) who created smallpox vaccine after noticing that milkmaids and others who worked around cattle seldom contracted the disease. By 1853, vaccination was compulsory in Britain. Elsewhere, I admired portraits of Paul McCartney, James Watt, Queen Victoria, Salman Rushdie, and many others. Best of show, though, was an informal scene of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth I, and daughters Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. The work was completed 1950, and showed them having a cup of tea. The sense of them as more or less regular folks was striking.

George Washington, American Rebel, Trafalgar Square


At three I met aviation consultant Chris Tarry, a friend of a friend, for a cup of coffee and a brief chat, then headed north to the British Library, to see an exhibit on the origins of photography in the 19th Century, very c ool and very well presented. As on previous visits – I have lately been gravitating to the library – I admired a set of quotations on signs as you approach the entrance, all about learning and life, from sages like Samuel Johnson (“”Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”); and this gem from Nigerian musician and activist Babatunde Olatunji: “Today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”

At six, I met Robin’s old pal Scott Sage (who I see a lot when in London) for a pint or two of stout at the Porterhouse Brewery in Covent Garden. We had a good yak and some laughs. I peeled off for dinner, my second visit in as many London trips to Masala Zone, a small chain offering somewhat formulaic but really savory Indian thalis, a varied meal of small dishes served on a metal platter. As I had done in June, I asked the (Polish) waitress for extra green chilies, and she said “Wow!” when I showed the empty bowl that had the three little devils. “I’m from Texas, a land of spice,” I declared with customary pride. Headed back to the hotel, called home, and clocked out.

Up early the next day, new theory that I get more tired out on day two so will sleep better. Stay tuned! After breakfast, I took a brisk walk, then ambled over to Imperial College about ten. Met host Omar Merlo and jumped into an MBA intro to marketing course, with a bright and very engaged group of 70 students from all over. Very diverse bunch. We had lunch halfway through, and got caught up (I last saw Omar in June, when I visited Imperial the first time). Finished the talk at 2:15 to loud and long applause and again had that “like a rock star” feeling. Way fun. Rolled my suitcase south on Exhibition Road, hopped the Tube, and headed to Heathrow.

I was bound for Oslo, and the SAS flight looked (in our system at least) to be quite full. I needed to get there, so several days earlier I e-mailed one of my long-distance mentees, Peter Gabrielson from the Stockholm School of Economics, to ask him to ask his SAS-flight-attendant-mom Majvor if SAS allows airline staff to ride in jumpseats if the flight is full. Not only did Mrs. G. provide the answer, she tracked down the purser for the flight, Bente, and e-mailed her that I was on the way. Too nice, and further proof of the solidarity that has long existed in our business. Happily, I got a real seat, 27E. When I boarded, I introduced myself to Bente as “the troublemaker from the U.S. who has prompted all the e-mails.” She laughed, welcomed me on board, and even brought me a split of free Merlot halfway through the flight.

We landed about 8:30. The first impression of Norway, from the airport, is whoa, these folks have a lot of money (and they do, from being the 7th largest oil producer in the world). Hopped on the 9:08 NSB train to Oslo, then a subway to Nydalen, the station less than 200 feet from my digs at the Radisson Blu hotel.

Escalator, Nydalen subway station, Oslo

This one was a lot nicer than either the Radisson by USC or the Grange Strathmore in London. I worked my e-mail and clocked out. The breakfast buffet the next morning was abundant, and having missed dinner the night before, I loaded up, then headed out for a morning of sightseeing. I had been to Oslo only once before, in 1994, and I wanted to return to one of the coolest spaces on earth the park filled with sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943). Between 1906 and the year before his death, he created 212 human likenesses from bronze and gray granite and installed them in this wonderful large green park a few kilometers northwest of central Oslo. To describe them as human likenesses does not get it at all right. The sculptures depict our journey through life, from birth to old age, and their bodies and faces encompass a broad spectrum of emotion: the joy of parenthood; the thrill of running a footrace as kids; the awe children show toward grandparents; lots of love between men and women; and the most poignant of all, a dozen or more renditions of the sadness and grief that accompanies us at the end of life.


Indeed, the several that depict elderly consoling each other would prompt a tear in the most stoic among us (so you can imagine how your softie-correspondent reacted!). Walking back to the #19 streetcar, I marveled, and reckoned that few people-made spaces on earth are as evocative as that. Just an amazing place.

I rode the tram down to the water, arriving in time to see the #601 ferry to pull in with a couple hundred commuters (I’ve always liked the idea of getting to work on a boat). A ride around the harbor on that boat was tempting, and included in my $11 public-transport day ticket. Given the Norwegians’ long seafaring tradition, it fit, but would have taken a bit too long, so I instead ambled around the compact downtown.

Awash in resources from their offshore oil fields, the Norwegians are remaking the capital

I paused to admire Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament (the word means “big thing,” which somehow fits a place full of politicos!).

Oslo is not a big place, and you can cover a lot of distance quickly. Rode a couple more streetcars for a look-see, and headed back to the hotel. My impression from the morning was like the night before: the place was awash in wealth, with renovation and new construction and infrastructure investment in every direction (I read that the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund was the second-largest in the world.)

Faculty of Law, University of Oslo

At noon I met Tor Andreassen, my host from the Norwegian School of Management (and a friend of fellow Norsk Jan Heide from Madison). We ate lunch and got to know each other, instantly hitting it off. We walked across the street to the school’s stunning – and huge – new building, opened a few years earlier. Although Norway is a small country, it’s one of the biggest business schools in Europe.

The ultramodern Oslo campus of BI, the Norwegian School of Management

I met a few marketing profs, then delivered a long talk to a Master’s class, bright but younger and less diverse than the class the day before in London. It was the last day of class; my job way to end it on a high note, and I think I succeeded. It was great fun.

Tor, his South-Dakota-Norwegian colleague Erik Olsen, and I had a wonderful dinner at Lofoten, a fish restaurant right on the water in central Oslo, me opting for my Nordic favorite of Arctic Char. Yum. (Just to scale the cost of living there, the brownie and scoop of caramel-ginger ice cream was $18. Yow!).

Up at six on Thursday the 5th, another big breakfast, and back out to the airport. The train was packed, the airport was packed, the flight to Milan was packed. They have money. It was a good day to fly south, because the land was already dusted with an inch of snow!

We landed at Malpensa at 12:30. I hopped on the train into the city (it’s another airport far from town, 30 miles). A kindly man across from me reminded me that the Italians were my people, well a quarter of me, and I opened my iPhone to the pictures of great-grandparents Enrico and Cesira, who emigrated from the north of Italy to Chicago in the 1880s.

Office furniture showroom, Corso Garibaldi, Milan

Downtown, I caught the #2 subway two stops, then vectored north-northeast on foot along Corso Garibaldi to Princi, a bakery and simple eatery I read about in The New York Times. Their slogan translates as “in the name of bread,” and my thick-crust pizza slices (sold by weight), one ham and one zucchini, were truly wonderful. Even better was the friendly clerk, who I got to know a bit, the day’s T-t-S episode. From the start I could tell she was a happy person. I subsequently learned that she has an uncle in Houston; moved to Milan from Sicily when she was five; and that she would like to move to America: “Will you take my colleague Monica and I back with you?” It was a sweet moment. Along the way, I told her why I was in Europe, and about Enrico and Cesira. I showed them the 1917 family photo, and she said “I love this picture.” In turn, I asked to take a photo of Monica and her, but Monica said the Princi owners do not allow photos. “Fear of spies?” I asked, and they smiled.

It was a lovely way to refuel and recharge.

A sort of Italian still life: pear tart, latte, and a photo of Enrico and Cesira Frediani, my great-grandparents; I wanted to show the young women behind the counter a little of my roots, handy on my iPhone!

I ambled around a bit, then hopped the Metro to the main station, then a 5:10 train north to Lugano, just across the border in Ticino, the Italian canton of Switzerland. Third country, and third currency, in one day. But before I could get there, I had to sit through an hour in the Bozo Coach, facing a guy who kept hitting me with his foot, and the guy next to him, who picked his nose rather too much for my liking. I was sort of sorry I sprang for a first-class seat. My seatmates in steerage might have been more respectful.

Happy to be off the Bozo Coach, I muttered to myself as I ambled along the platform at Lugano. People gave me space! I rolled my suitcase down the hill to the Hotel Ceresio, which I found online. My host did not arrange a hotel, so I booked the place, which turned out as expected: a somewhat worn commercial hotel (three stars, questionable!), but with the right price and a location a few blocks from the university. As proof of their sleepiness, they offered no internet access, even for a fee. Checked in, changed clothes, and headed into the center with my iPhone as a sort of Geiger counter, searching for a free and unsecured wi-fi signal. Eureka! I found one just outside a bar, so I hung for 15 minutes, working my in-box to zero (had the signal belonged to the bar, I would have bought a beer from them). I was not too hungry, given my late and filling lunch at Princi, so I settled on a simple plate of spaghetti (no meat, nothing else) and a beer, almost 25 bucks. These places are so pricey. Worse, their wireless credit-card reader was not working (things are not supposed to be broken in Switzerland), so I had to amble out into the rain and collect cash – my plan to avoid a third currency in a single day (Norwegian kroner, Euros earlier) was dashed, and a Credit Suisse spit out Swiss Francs. Sigh.

Breakfast at the Ceresio was as expected, not a lot of choice nor quality, but the coffee was strong. Walked to the Università della Svizzera Italiana, where the entire campus offers free open wi-fi, and did a bit more work. Met my host Omar – yes, the same Omar from three days earlier at Imperial in London – and from 9:30 to 12 delivered a couple of lectures.

The view from my temporary office, USI, Lugano

Ate in the student cafeteria, the Mensa, and worked in a pleasant office that afternoon. At 6:40, Omar and his brother-in-law Sandro picked me up and we went, for the second year in a row, to the Osteria Gallo d’Oro, a sensational restaurant just above town. We three boys – all married to lawyers, as it turns out – laughed a lot. And we enjoyed a sensational dinner: marinated octopus to start, then a small course of ravioli, a main course of really-tender venison, and homemade mango gelato for dessert. All with a nice bottle of red from a tiny vineyard near Verona. Yum!

The biggest laughs of the night came from Omar’s story of his visit to his Sicilian grandparents. Like my friend from Princi the day before, his mother came north, in this case crossing the border, in search of work. Omar had only been back to Sicily a couple of times as a kid, and returned in the mid-1990s in adulthood. The story of a ride with an uncle was truly hilarious. Unk may have been mixed up with less-upright citizens. He ordered Omar to put away the video camera when they were riding from one coffee shop to another. At one point they met Mickey, “just back from Brooklyn.” And so forth. We were howling. Omar had the Sicilian facial gestures down pat, just like the guys from “The Sopranos.”

Full to the brim, we rolled down the hill into Lugano, then up the other side to the train station, where I said “Arrivederci,” and waited for the night train to Frankfurt. Like the year before, I had booked a single cabin in a sleeping car, and was looking forward to the ride. At 10:44 the CityNightLine train rolled in, and I climbed onto car 264, then to bed 21. Nice! The conductor collected my passport and ticket, and in no time I was in my pajamas, lights off, watching the scenery as we climbed toward the St. Gotthard tunnel. I stayed awake for about an hour, until we entered the tunnel, then slept hard for five hours. Unlike the previous year, the train was on time, and at 5:45 we were in Frankfurt. It was a very nice ride, and for only $50 more than the bleak Hotel Ceresio you got a clean and cozy bed and a ride 350 miles north to Germany. At Frankfurt’s enormous Hauptbahnhof, I changed to the S9 suburban train to the airport, showered, and flew home nonstop. By five, I had ridden my bike 18 miles and took MacKenzie on a long walk. Woof!
Eight days later, on Sunday the 15th, I flew west to Los Angeles, walked across the airport to Terminal 2, and flew Hawaiian Airlines to Honolulu. It was a nice ride. On board was a diverse bunch, some tourists and a lot of locals. Our 50th is a diverse state, and the 767’s main cabin reflected that mainly Asian variety. We landed just before nine p.m. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Ala Moana Hotel on the western edge of Waikiki Beach. Like most stuff in Hawai’i, the cab was pricey, $32.

Given the four hour time change, I was up by five the next morning, down to the fitness center, and onto a really nice recumbent exercise bike. Good way to wake up! After breakfast, I took a $2.25 bus back to the airport, and made my way to Hawaiian Airlines’ corporate offices. Job interviews, the first in more than 22 years!

You will recall from the last update that American, my largest consulting client, was not renewing my contract after December 2009, so I needed to find a job, and the first opportunity to present itself was at this nicely profitable, small company, known for operational excellence, the friendly “aloha” spirit of the 50th state, and a perfect safety record. On the ride over the water the night before, I got even more pumped up – on the 767 they showed a wonderful video celebrating Hawaiian’s 80th anniversary (literally the week before, on November 11), and the film depicted a wonderful heritage.

It was a long but interesting day. I met six senior execs, including the CEO, a very dynamic young Brit named Mark Dunkerley. They were all interesting and nice people (not one of them was “less than” in any respect), and the prospect of working for a nimble small company reminded me of my first two years in the business, with plucky Republic Airlines back in Minnesota. I was pressed for time, so I grabbed another $30 taxi back to the hotel, changed into khakis, and walked a couple of blocks east to meet a longtime ex-AA friend for dinner. We ambled a couple hundred feet from his hotel to an older Waikiki eatery, the Chart House, for a fish dinner, yakking across a range of topics, especially the craziness of the airline business. I was asleep by 9:30.

Downtown Honolulu from my hotel window

Rinse, repeat. Back to Hawaiian for a morning of interviews, three more, and a wrap-up with the fellow who would be my boss if I were lucky enough to get hired. We shall see! I did my best. Flew home, landing before sunrise. With four hours of sleep, I was baggy-eyed, and was into bed at 8:30 that night.

Up at five the next day, back to the aerodrome, and east to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a lunchtime talk to the local ad club, likely the last of those for awhile. The local program chair, Jim Considine, tracked me down when I was in Lugano, with a referral from folks who heard my September talk down the road in Raleigh. Jim picked me up at the airport, and we motored into town. I had only been to Charlotte once before, but it was as I remembered it – a pleasant and orderly mid-size city, and now (thanks to the Bank of America head office there) one of the largest financial centers in the nation.

Lunch venue was Bonterra, an upscale eatery and wine bar in a former church. Three dozen folks attended, a nice group. After lunch, Jim showed me around downtown (lots of stuff going on, even in recession), past the Carolina Panthers football stadium (there was a game that night, and people were already partying outside at two o’clock!). Flew home, and motored into downtown Dallas. I ambled around the recently enlarged arts district, marveling at several great new performing-arts venues and the generous spirit of Dallas’ well to do that gave them form. Met Linda and Jack at the brand-new, crimson-red Winspear Opera House, and spent nearly three hours watching Bill Crystal in his one-man show “700 Sundays,” a marvelous affirmation of optimism, family, life, and more. (I was glad I napped on the flight home; it had been a busy five days – while waiting for them I calculated my average speed (including sleep time) to be 86 mph since the previous Sunday morning when I left for Hawai’i!)

The following Sunday, the 22nd, I flew to New York for my fifth appearance at Princeton’s Business Today International Conference. Lan

Midtown Manhattan on approach to Runway 4 at LaGuardia Airport

ded at about eleven, and true to form I hopped in a cab for the short ride to Jackson Heights, then the express subway into Manhattan, saving a bunch of money and having way more fun. By 12:15 I was introducing myself to young people at the lunch table; as at previous of these meetings they were a remarkably accomplished group. The lad to my right, an economics major at Stanford, had founded a nonprofit to help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds improve their SAT scores; he still had a semester before graduating, but, not surprisingly, had already landed a job with McKinsey.

After lunch, I ambled over to my hotel, checked in, and headed back. Some guys who run SkillSoft, a subscription-based website on leadership, recorded an interview (which was a lot of fun). From 4:30 to 5:30 I gave a seminar to 15 students, then sat in a panel on financial regulation, especially enjoying the clear and basic remarks from Princeton economics prof. Alan Blinder on what the U.S. should do to prevent a repeat of the 2008 meltdown. Dinner was fun, me sitting between a young woman at NYU who had created a small dress business (yep, she designed them, sewed them, and sold them), and two guys who went to high school together in Montgomery County, Maryland, and who jointly ran a tennis-lesson business in high school. Entrepreneurship was the topic of the table! The open bar opened at ten, but by then I was worn out and had almost lost my voice (I was getting over a mild cold), so I walked back to my hotel.

Unlike previous years, there was no group breakfast, so I spent the morning working in my hotel room, followed by a short walk around midtown, focused on Rockefeller Center. It had been some years since I ambled around Rock – it’s a very cool place.

Bas relief of Mercury, the swift, wing-footed god of trade and travel, Rockefeller Center


From noon to two I ate lunch with students, answering questions about airlines, careers, and such, then reversed course by train and bus to LGA, and a flight home.

Two days later, on Thanksgiving Eve, Linda and I flew north to Chicago. We met Robin, Brett, and Dylan at O’Hare, and hopped on a shuttle bus to a hotel in Arlington Heights, where Cousin Jim and four of his siblings live. We checked in, washed faces, and Anthony the driver drove us north to Jim’s for supper and the first of many nice conversations. Jim dropped the girls back at the hotel, and the boys repaired to Eddie’s bar in downtown Arlington for beer and fun. Jack flew up after us, and joined the fun at Eddie’s.

Brett and I were up early the next morning, down to the hotel gym for some aerobics, and for me the first of many prayers of Thanksgiving that day (as you know, I give thanks every day, but I reckoned some repetition would not hurt on the official day). We headed up to Michaela’s and Jim’s after breakfast. Cousin Bob and his girlfriend Susan joined us for dinner. It was a good day.

I had picked up a Hertz car on Thanksgiving, so we had wheels for the rest of the visit. Friday morning, I drove Brett and the girls to the Arlington Heights train station, and they headed into town to Michigan Avenue. The boys motored over to Fredhots hot dog stand in nearby Glenview for lunch, then to watch Cousin Mike’s youngest daughter Julie play basketball for the Hersey High School Huskies. I had never seen high school girls’ b-ball, and that game was a good place to start. Thanks to the 1972 Federal Title IX law (which prohibits gender discrimination in any educational institution that receives national support), the quality of women’s sport at all levels has improved markedly. Julia and the Huskies took an early lead, but the 4th quarter ended with a tie, which Julia’s team broke in overtime. Final score: 85 to 78. It was big fun. Dinner was way fun, with all five of the local cousins and families at Jim’s for pasta and beer and laughs. It was great to see all of them. And they sang “Happy Birthday” to me, 58 years young!

We headed back to Michaela’s and Jim’s for a last visit, most of which was allocated to the visitors taking turns with the “Guitar Hero” video game (your correspondent was hopeless, certainly unheroic!). At noon we motored to O’Hare, said goodbye to Robin, Brett, and Dylan, and flew home. Jim and his family – and the other cousins – are really the closest kin we have, and we are so grateful that they “adopt” us from time to time.

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JDC’s Got Talent!

The view from my seat. I wish I could have captured the fun and enthusiasm of the show, but privacy is a cardinal value of the juvenile justice system, a value I deeply respect.

On Friday, November 20, I motored north to the Collin County Juvenile Detention Center (the JDC), where my wife Linda works as a juvenile-court judge. She invited me up to a talent show produced and presented entirely by participants in the center’s program for teen sex offenders. You probably have an image in your mind of what those young men are like. But if you came along with me that day, you would have had that image turned around, for three reasons. First, the program, led by a tireless and (to me) saintly woman named Terri, is incredibly effective, based on the way justice providers measure, which is repeat behavior. I knew that fact before, but it was nicely reinforced. Second, these kids, despite their county-mandated “buzz” haircuts and orange jumpsuits, look just like the kids you see hanging out at the mall, or waiting for the school bus. Third, in their choice of performance act, their tastes mirrored those of the broader youth culture, what older folks like me would see as the good and the bad.

It’s also important for you to understand that nearly all of the children who performed (or sat in the back of the room and cheered) that day were themselves sexually abused earlier in their lives. They were victims of unspeakable acts. Thus, if Terri and her team of caring souls can break that cycle, we will all benefit.

So what did we see? We saw dancers and singers, including a fellow who opened the show with a nice rendition of the national anthem. We saw a young man play the violin with skill and grace. We laughed along with “commercials” for Coca-Cola, GEICO and eTrade, inserted for realism and fun. We listened to two emcees who were poised and supportive of every youngster who performed. And we heard a kid read a poem he had written, based on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, touching in his hope for justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation. That child was eligible for release the day before the show, but he asked to stay another day so he could perform with and be there for his buddies.

It was hard to hold back tears. These were also our children.

At the end, we gave them an ovation, cheered, whistled, and yelled. I introduced myself as Judge Britton’s husband, shook hands and thanked many of the boys, and saluted their talent and their pluck. These were kids who likely have not received much praise in their young lives. To see them beam was to feel better about our world, and to appreciate the incredible commitment of the men and women who work in juvenile justice, doing their best, often against long odds, to try to get children on the right path.

When Linda invited me to the show that morning, she said she could not vouch for the talent, to which I replied, “quality does not matter to me; what matters is that those kids are in the show, that they joined.” Belonging matters.

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Dear Friends in Germany,

I send warm greetings on this, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall! I hope that you’ve had a good day. I’m sure you’ve spent some time today thinking about that amazing moment in 1989 and all that has happened in the two decades since. I certainly have.

NYT-BerlinWallFalls

Y’all know of my keen interest in, and great regard for, your Federal Republic of Germany. And you may know that I am a person who celebrates milestones, hence this note.

It was fitting that I began this note last Saturday morning while onboard one of American Airlines’ 777s at Frankfurt Airport. As we waited to depart for Texas, I cued (on my iPhone) Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #1, an older recording from the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of the great Von Karajan.

BrandenburgGate

Brandenburg Gate, 2008

BrandenburgGate-1973

Brandenburg Gate, 1973

I thought back to 1989: a few minutes after I left work, after 6 p.m. on November 9, I turned on the radio to hear the news that the Wall had tumbled. I was so astonished that I pulled onto the shoulder of Interstate 635, turned off the engine and the radio, and sat in silence, trying to absorb it all. It was an emotional moment.

You see, when I was a pre-teen I was very worried about world events, especially the Cold War. So when the Wall went up in 1961, at age 9, I was so scared. Night after night, the evening TV news showed the U.S. and allied armies on one side, and the Red Army on the other. SieVerlassenCannons, troops, tanks. A few years later – after the harrowing Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of our young President Kennedy, and other bad news – I somehow came to understand that my worry would not fix anything. That realization was one of the seeds of the fearlessness that guides me, and for which I am so thankful.

BerlinWall-1973

Watchtower, 1973

I am happy that I visited Berlin during the Cold War, in September 1973. I took a route unusual for most American visitors: flying from neutral Finland, we landed at Schoenefeld Airport in East Berlin. One simply declared that one was in transit to West Berlin, hopped on a small shuttle bus (three dozen years later, I cannot recall the currency used for the ride), and rumbled into the center, to the scary side of Checkpoint Charlie. The driver pointed toward to entry point, a couple of hundred meters west. I wasn’t scared, but ambling across a sort of no-man’s land, armament and troops still plentiful, was sobering. I was happy to cross into freedom.

A couple of days later, I exchanged my powerful Deutschmarks at par for DDR Marks, and spent a day in the Workers’ Paradise. They wanted us to see the (to them) impressive Alexanderplatz, and the imposing new TV tower. I wasn’t all that excited, but I still had plenty of Ostmarks, so up I went. Woo hoo. It was good to cross back to West Berlin again, to see people free to be hippies or businessmen, to pray to their choice of God, or whatever. And not to wonder whether some creepy Stasi agent or informer was about to bust you.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have made a couple visits to Berlin, and lots of visits to other places in Germany. Indeed, in these years I have made friends with many Germans, including each of you – and for that I am thankful. And I passed along my great regard for your land to our son, Jack, who learned German in high school and college. As an incentive for his first lessons in fall 1999, I promised to take him to Berlin that Christmas if he made an A grade. Natürlich, he did well, and off we went in December, revisiting Checkpoint Charlie and Alexanderplatz and more.

I know that reunification has not been without its challenges. It is hard to undo 40-plus years of goofy policy. What has been impressive has been the commitment, the trying. More broadly, each time I visit, I marvel at all that has been built since your land was in ruins, in 1945. My German is weak, but I do fully appreciate the word wiederaufbau, for I have seen the photographs of devastation and human want. And I have met older Germans who remember the destruction and deprivation. Wolfgang telling me how cold he was as a child. And Rolf, born in Berlin in 1943, telling Jack and me in Berlin in 1999 that his first English was “Please, sir, may I have a piece of chewing gum?”

I salute all of the German people on this historic moment!

Mit freundlichen grüssen,

Rob

PotsdamerPlatz

New buildings, Potsdamer Platz, 2008

Kollwitzstr60

Kollwitzstrasse 60, Prenzlauer Berg, Former East Berlin, 2008. Note the inscription above the door, left and right.

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Annals of Flight: Richard Whitcomb Dies at 88

Winglet On the way home from Los Angeles, in a 757 seven miles above the American West at 620 mph, I read in The New York Times about the death of aero engineer Richard Whitcomb. I looked around the cabin, and reckoned that nearly everyone on board took this amazing technology of jet flight for granted. I’m sure none of them knew that Mr. Whitcomb had passed, nor his two contributions to their journey east. Some 40 years ago, Whitcomb invented the “supercritical” wing, which was a further advance in design, creating more lift and less drag — thus saving millions and million of gallons of fuel, as well as tons of CO2 emissions. If they looked out the window, they would have seen Mr. Whitcomb’s other huge (and more recent) invention, the tail-like winglets that now grace all of American’s 757s and the wings of many other aircraft. Those also save fuel and reduce emissions. Of that invention, Mr. Whitcomb said, “It’s intuitive. I didn’t run a lot of tests to arrive at an idea, and I didn’t run a lot of mathematical calculations. I’d just sit there and think about what the air was doing, based on flow studies in the wind tunnel.”

Mr. Whitcomb was, the obit said, a quiet man. He never crowed, but we pause to thank him for his contributions to our lives and our planet. I looked out the window and smiled. Thanks, Mr. Whitcomb. I take nothing for granted.

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October: Sweden, Madison, Los Angeles, Austin

Back in Umeå, I scored a bicycle on the first day of the new quarter, and was really smiling. I sort of shamed the business-school dean, Lars Lindbergh, into it – but I didn’t think he’d hand me the key to his own bike that morning! In any case, it was great to roll down the hill from the university to my hotel that afternoon, change clothes, run a quick errand in downtown Umeå, then head off at 4:55 for a quick zip to my favorite place, the island of Bölesholmarna in the Ume River. I did four circuits of the island. The light was superb, shining the birches and pines:

Bolesholmarna

One of my favorite places, the island of Bölesholmarna in the Ume River

After work the next day, Friday (the week went quickly), a Ph.D. student, Chris Nicol from Leeds, England, invited me to beers at a pub across from campus. We yakked for a bit, and were joined by Derek and Beverly, the former a visitor from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He was a few years older than me, and we enjoyed exchanging notes about travel back in the day, especially some hitchhiking adventures. As often happens with youngsters, Chris was totally amazed that, for example, I survived a thumb journey through the ghetto in Detroit in 1970 or ’71. It was great fun. Speaking of Detroit, when I got back to the hotel room, I flipped on TV6 and there were the Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, NHL hockey in Stockholm.

Saturday was another clear, cold morning, just below freezing, but calm. After breakfast I rode a quick 12 miles around Nydalasjön, a large lake east of the city. As I have written many times, the Swedes are outdoors people, and even at eight on Saturday morning, they were out, mostly walking their dogs. It was brisk – I had gloves, but the tights I packed were Robin’s size 6, which somehow ended up on my shelf. I am skinny, but there was no way I’d fit into those! Back to town, to the bike shop to pump up Lars’ tires, then to the bookshop to buy Steig Larsson’s second novel. Sadly, the battery on my Kindle developed a short, and completely discharged several days earlier, just when I was 60% done with Larsson’s first, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sigh. But ya gotta be flexible! (And two nights later, I did some Googling, found that there was a Kindle app for my iPhone, downloaded it, and was back reading Larsson’s cool first novel.)

I did a bit of work back at the hotel room, and at 12:15 headed southeast to Holmsund, on the Gulf of Bothnia. Folks warned me there was no bike path, but I managed to stay on back roads almost the whole 12 miles, with only one dead end. Holmsund was small and quiet, not too interesting, so I grabbed a quick supermarket lunch (lots of folks staring at my shorts, though by then it was about 45 and still sunny. Road back on the highway with the wind at my back, very speedy. Time for a nap.

UmeaBridge

Bridge over the Ume River, with separate lanes for cyclists and walkers.

At five I walked next door to the gas station for a can of low-alcohol beer; the sun was already low in the west; back at the room I checked, and the days had become 45 minutes shorter in just six days since arriving. At six I was in the Lutheran Church (Stadskyrka) for an organ concert by a young organist, Lisa Eriksson, familiar works by Vivaldi (the first one zipped me back to painting the kitchen cabinets on Cheyenne Dr. in the early 1990s – the fast tempo of Vivaldi helped speed the job!), Buxtehude, and Bach. Church music, for sure. In the sanctuary, I was reminded of an illusion: it first appears that there are a disproportionate number of handicapped people in Sweden, but it is just that, an illusion; in a fair-minded and affluent society, they are helped and encouraged to live “among us.” And that is a good thing.

Filled with a bit of culture, I needed a good dinner, and headed to Angelini, an Italian place. Enjoyed a couple of Budvar beers from the Czech Republic (the original Budwesier, but way better), some astonishingly good tapenade and bread, and a lovely main course of cod with porcini mushrooms. Yum! I was feeling pretty swell, until I walked outside into pelting rain. Mercifully, it was only a mile home, pedaling fast.

It rained all night and into Sunday. I walked to church at 11 rather than pedal with an umbrella. It was “family service,” with a lot of noise and kids’ choir, but it was still a good thing to do. Before and after church I worked on some small consulting projects that arrived a couple of weeks earlier, so it was a productive Sunday, with the billing meter whirring gently. At four the rain had stopped, so I headed out on the bike for some exercise, on the north bank of the river to Backen, with its wonderful old church, built 1508.

BackensKyrka

Backens Kyrka (Church), from the early 16th Century

The high point of Monday was a small parade of four students, asking questions and asking for advice. The first was Asim from Lahore, Pakistan, a grad student interested in an airline career. His father and sister were civil servants back home, and both had encouraged him to join them for stable and secure lifetime work. But like a lot of kids I meet overseas, Asim wanted something more, to see the world, to meet others. Next was Chris, the Ph.D. student who invited me for beer the previous Friday, seeking very specific and practical career guidance. Next came Johannes, a Swede with a few simple questions.

The last was the best: A., from Teheran, who was interested in the airline business.

IranianFriend

A., an Iranian student; I cropped his image for obvious reasons.

Along the way, we talked about life in Iran – he was in the streets for the June post-election protests, and was shot in the stomach with rubber bullets. The goons broke his father’s arm. We had a nice, long chat, culminating with a slideshow of some recent trips in his country. With the background of rather tense relations between our two governments, the human connection made me smile.

The fun continued after work: I rode across town to the Umeå Arena to see the Umeå Björklövens (birch leaves) minor-league men’s hockey team take on the Bofors Bobcats (tree leaves vs. wildcats!). A few nights earlier at the All-Star sports bar, I whet my appetite for Swedish hockey by watching the Luleå team play, and when I got back to the room that night I checked the Umeå team website – I was in luck, a match was scheduled and tickets are available.

I bought a good seat for 160 kronor ($22, not cheap), then two T-shirts for Jack and me, then went foraging for a beer. It was not easy. You could not buy beer at the many concession stands, but at a bar in the corner of the arena, and could not take it into the stands.

Thirst quenched, I headed to my seat. Next to me were a couple of typically quiet Swedes. I was not going to be quiet – this was gonna be big fun, and I was gonna cheer hard for the home team, the mighty Birch Leaves of the Allsvenskan League, the second tier of Swedish men’s hockey. No national anthem to start, but a lot of video hoopla and smoke-like fog – amazing and a bit depressing that the hoopla seems to be everywhere – there, at the Charleston Riverdogs game in June, and elsewhere. Owners feel this need to add “entertainment.” We’re content to just watch the athletes!

UmeaHockey

He shoots, he scores! The puck is the blurry black line behind the goalie.

And in a flash it was hockey night in Sweden. It was fast, clean play, a lot of fun. The arena was fairly small (and nowhere close to full), and the seats were steeply pitched, so I was above but very close to the ice. Lighting was different from North American arenas, in that the stands were fairly dark, creating contrast with and focus on the ice. The rules were a bit different – for example, a goal on a power play did not end the penalty, and the Birch Leaves got two goals after a tripping call on the Bobcats. With no TV commercial breaks, the game went quickly, and ended Bofors 5 and the home squad 3.

That morning, Helena, a colleague at the business school, and a friend of hers railed about salary disparities in the local teams, women’s soccer vs. men’s hockey. More ominously, they warned about fights – not on the ice (it was quite clean hockey), but in the stands. I saw none of it. Instead, it was all orderly and quite Swedish. The equivalent of “bleacher bums” in the cheap seats did sing team songs and wave the Leaves’ green and gold colors, but there was no disorder!

The next evening, after riding the bike pretty hard, I was ready for a good dinner (the hot dog and coke at the hockey game was not much of an evening repast), so I rode into town for a plate of arctic char (röding in Swedish), mashed potatoes made with local Västerbotten cheese, and asparagus at Harry’s Bar, a chain. I was again reminded that these are a quiet people who tend not to engage with strangers – I tried to visit a bit with the waitress, but failed. The moment stood in stark contrast with a nice chat I had with my waitress at the Indian restaurant in Edmonton in late February – the “Where are you from?” led to a long chat about Canada, India and more. I do appreciate the New World for that!

But the next night, at Lotta’s Krog, a pub downtown, I had no more than walked in than a big Swede with a grin asked me where I was from. He was Kurt the Cash Register Man (he owned a firm that sold them), and was really friendly. “My family says I am the, how do you say it, outgoing.” Indeed. In 20 minutes we had exchanged views on Obama, the joys of being a grandparent, the Umeå hockey team, and a lot more. It was just really pleasant, T-t-S in Sweden! Kurt departed, I hopped on a bar stool, and ordered a plate of fish and chips to go with my microbrew, Gotlands Bryggeri Wisby Weisse. And 20 minutes later Ivonne engages me while waiting for her wine refill, commenting first on my bike helmet, then launching a nice conversation. Those little yaks were surprising, and very welcome.

On Thursday, I ran into Derek. I was getting lonely, and things picked me up when he invited me to join him and Beverly for dinner downtown, at the Bishops’ Arms. It was nice to have a table of friends from Australia, South Wales, and Yorkshire. We laughed a lot, and told lots of stories. A German living in Vancouver joined us, and two Finns chimed in from the table on the other side.

On the last day, I gave one more lecture, met a couple more students, and at 3:30 ambled over to e-Puben, the bar that HHUS, the business students’ association, runs. It was the end of the first half of the semester, exams were written, and the place was hopping. I had a series of nice chats with HHUS leaders, a nice bunch of kids, mostly continuing themes from a career-development talk I gave the day before. It might have been the beer, but at moments like that I really felt like I could connect with students, about life and values, and not just about the world of commerce. They can figure that stuff out for themselves; they often seem to need help with the stuff that truly matters.

I packed up my suitcases and hopped on the bike for a last ride into the center and a late dinner at Lotta’s. When I left the pub and hopped on my bike, I said loudly, to no one, “To the New World. I’m headed back to the New World.” It would be good to get home. Was up at six the next morning, out the door, walking a mile to the airport bus, where I met the driver, Peyman, an Iranian immigrant who arrived in the late 1970s, before the fall of the Shah. “I like monarchies,” Peyman said, “and I could see that ours was going to disappear, so I emigrated to this kingdom.” We had a nice yak for the next 15 minutes, as the #80 bus wound through town. A nice T-t-S moment, for sure. And in between words, he warmly greeted every customer who boarded. My kind of guy.

Stools

Swedish design: stools, Terminal 5, Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Flew to Stockholm, then on to London. The flight home to Texas was seriously late, and my head did not hit the pillow until 12:30 a.m., but I was home, in our bed, MacKenzie murmuring next to me (Linda was back in Charleston, touring historic houses). Back in the New World.

A week later, I met Jack at the airport, and we flew north to Madison. I was due to teach for the third time at UW, and as luck would have it, the Badger men’s hockey team season opener was the night of the 17th. Ben Grotting, son of longtime friends Jim and Ann, was in his senior year, his last on the Badger varsity team, so the game would be special.

MadisonSkyline

Madison, between lakes Monona (lower) and Mendota


We landed at two, hopped in a Hertz car, and in no time were downtown. Checked into the Fluno Center, the UW hotel, parked the car underneath, and ambled across the street for a couple of slices of pizza from Ian’s. Fortified, we set off for an amble around campus and town. We saw a lot in a couple hours. As I have written, Madison is a very cool place, something Jack quickly appreciated. And I was reminded of what fun it is to travel with our son, who shares my curiosity about, and enthusiasm for, places.

We walked back to the hotel and rested for a bit. At 5:30, I walked across the street to meet Ann Grotting and her sister Jane (down from Stillwater, Minnesota, where Ann grew up). They were at Big Red’s sandwich place, with a group of parents of Badger hockey players. We yakked a bit, and laughed a lot. A little after six, I collected Jack, and we walked two blocks south to the Kohl Center, the arena. We were pumped! Ben had lined up free tickets for us. The game was big fun. Total pandemonium in the arena, called the Kohl Center. A tight game, ended in a 1-1 tie. We met Ben afterward, gave him a hug, and I peeled off. Jack and Ben went out for some fun.

Badgers

The Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team psyching up; our friend Ben Grotting is #14.

We then went to see the Smiths, described in an earlier post. I dropped Jack at the airport, opted for the frugal $2 bus back to the hotel, rode an exercise bike for a bit, and at five ambled back to the Wisconsin Union for a beer. The late-afternoon light was gorgeous, but it was a bit too windy to drink my local Oktoberfest brew outside.

Armory

Armory, University of Wisconsin

At eight on Monday morning I met my swell UW host Jan Heide, a wonderful fellow. It would be my third time in his MBA marketing classes. We had a caloric breakfast, walked up University Ave. to the business school, and delivered two back-to-back talks. At one I headed back to the hotel, changed into bike shorts and a turtleneck, and walked a few blocks to the Yellow Jersey Bike Shop. It was a perfect fall day, sunny and 60, and time for a ride. I hired decent bike, had a quick lunch, and set off, west along the shore of Lake Mendota, then back through campus to the other of Madison’s big lakes, Monona. Rode around that, then back to Mendota along a canal and back downtown by four. It was 27 miles of delight.

At six, Jan and his wife Maria picked me up. She sat in on my class earlier in the day, and it was great fun to get to know her a little better over dinner at a small seafood place called Blue Marlin, right next to the state capitol. Maria was born in Greece, immigrating to Akron, Ohio, with her parents. She told lots of tales of Greek family life in America and back in Greece, and it was a wonderful window on another bunch of new Americans.

Next morning, I ambled around campus before my next pair of classes. I spent some time in Science Hall, a Victorian behemoth that once housed all of UW’s science departments. Today, geography is the only tenant, so I felt right at home among maps in the halls. At ten I met the day’s host, Jean Grube, a contemporary of Jan’s and a really swell person. We yakked for an hour about our backgrounds, and at eleven I delivered two back to back lectures. Ben Grotting sat in on the second one. Jan, Jean, and I headed to Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry, a bar, for a greasy burger and some laughs, and I said my goodbyes. UW is such a swell place.

I worked my e-mail, then walked east to the state house, a wonderful and imposing building. As I have written before, it is so cool that these places are completely open – no security screening, no gates, no barriers. I sat quietly in the Supreme Court, admiring the murals and marveling at the fact that four of the state’s seven high justices are women.

The Assembly (the lower house) was in session, and I ambled up the stairs and into the gallery. It looked like a “cleanup” day to pass a range of laws in rapid succession, without debate. I was thinking of the famous line from Bismarck, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made,” when I witnessed a bit of history.

I sensed that the Assembly was going to take up some matter relevant to Wisconsin’s native peoples, because several were sitting with me in the front row. Swiftly, the house passed on unanimous roll-call vote Bill 421. My seatmates smiled and filed out. I needed to know more, to talk to strangers, to find out what just happened. I caught up with the group, introduced myself, and asked about the bill. It was indeed good news, long overdue: the bill returned to Wisconsin’s 11 Federally-recognized tribes the power to determine the welfare of Indian children (prior to passage the State had that power). The bill was long overdue – doing some research, I later learned that Indian people had been trying for almost 20 years to change the law, but the Republican-controlled legislature took no action.

I congratulated all of them and shook several hands. One fellow said “it’s awesome you’re here, and that you care.” Treatment of Indian people has always been for me a sensitive matter, way back to when I was a little boy, and my mother explained the situation very sympathetically. We (and I must write in first-person plural) have not treated the aboriginal people well. This bill was a small step, but in the right direction, and for that I was happy.

Ambling around the capitol for a few minutes more, I thought about the role of government. I can be cynical, but deep down, I still believe in these institutions, if only because they are the only ones we have. We can walk away, or we can participate. I headed back to the hotel, worked a bit, then ambled over to the Union for a final beer. After a huge, greasy lunch, I sought out a small dinner, a plate of spicy ma po tofu at a wonderful small Chinese restaurant (always a good sign when nearly all the diners are speaking Mandarin). Clocked out early, got up at 4:30, and flew home.

A few days later, on Saturday the 24th, Linda and I flew west to Los Angeles, to see our USC Trojans play football. Landed and zipped away from LAX in a red Mustang convertible (I had reserved a more-reserved Focus, but Hertz upgraded me!).

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Checked into the nearby Westin, changed clothes, and headed to campus. After a lot of traffic, we finally parked and ambled onto the campus. It had been a few years since we had been to game day at USC, and had forgotten the fun and pandemonium that is the USC tribe. People of all colors and ages, united by a link to a great university. We ambled through the crowd and made our way to the bookstore for some souvenirs, then over to the Coliseum.

TrojanFans

Cardinal red and gold, a small part of the USC Trojan tribe at the Los Angeles Coliseum


We had great seats, way up for perspective. In came the marching band, way fun and way noisy. The Trojans beat the Oregon State Beavers. We headed back to the hotel, had a drink in the lobby bar, and clocked out.

Next morning, we followed the formula set earlier in the decade, and motored west (with the Mustang top down) to Manhattan Beach for a caloric breakfast at Uncle Bill’s. MB in the early morning was buzzing a bit, notably surfers headed down the hill to catch a wave. I dropped Linda at the airport, dropped off the convertible, and hopped on public transit, the Green Line train and an express bus, and was at the dumpy Radisson at USC by 1:00.

LAFreeway

Stacked concrete, Interstates 110 and 105, Los Angeles

The room was not ready, so I dropped my stuff and hopped back on the #81 bus (ride all day, all over L.A., for $5), into downtown (like the two rides in from the airport, I was almost the only Anglo on the bus.) It had been a few years since I was in the center, and I headed for the splendid new cathedral (consecrated 2002), where the 12:30 mass en Español was just ending. Took a few photos of a 17th-century Spanish retablo, and read the fascinating story of its journey from the Old World to California. I then headed a couple blocks to the Music Center complex of performance venues, its south end anchored by the new Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry. It has traditionally been hard for me to slow down (must get up to Pasadena! Soon!), but the State of California Community Park on the west side of the concert hall exercised unusual deceleration – an oasis of quiet green in the middle of this frenzied and noisy place. I decided to read the Sunday New York Times on my iPhone. It was a nice break.

OurLady

Entry, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels


RetabloDetail

17th Century Retablo (altar piece), Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles


LAProfile

Three generations of L.A. architecture: a chunk of Frank Gehry's concert hall, the iconic City Hall, and a '70s-era government building


PigeonsTurret

Pigeons guarding the turret, Walt Disney Concert Hall


SolarPanels

Solar panels above parking lot, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Chinatown

For sale? Roommate wanted? Lampost, Chinatown


I then ambled a few blocks north to L.A. Chinatown, which contrasted markedly with the Toronto version I saw the month before; although we were on the edge of downtown L A, it was suburban in density, compared with the crowded bustle of Spadina Avenue up north. I hopped the Gold Line north to Pasadena. The older neighborhoods along the way, like Highland Park, were filled with bungalows. Way cool. Downtown Pasadena was teeming, partly because of the U2 concert at Rose Bowl that night.

PasadenaNew

New transit-oriented development along the Gold (light-rail) Line, Pasadena

PasadenaOld

1920s commercial bulding, Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

I wandered a bit, then hopped back on the train, riding a few stops to Mission Street, South Pasadena, with a “mini-downtown” spreading out from the station (the tracks originally belonged to the Santa Fe Railway). I admired a 1906 watering trough erected by a women’s civic association, to water the horses – and the riders – making the journey from L.A. to Pasadena. The retail on Mission Street was now strictly New Age, yoga salons and organic cafes and such.

MissionStreet

Early-20th Century transit-oriented development, Mission Street, South Pasadena

Got back to the hotel, checked in, and washed my face. At six, I met Varun Sharma, ambitious son of a fellow guest lecturer I met 13 months earlier when I taught at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. I first Met Varun a few weeks after meeting his dad. He had finished his M.S. in computer science at USC, and now works for Activision, the video-game publisher. We had a fascinating chat; some of his best stories were about the boarding school he attended in Uttar Pradesh, in the north of India. It sounded like quite a place, a place where a small team of students, teachers, and guides could get to the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Himalayas. After Varun dropped me back at the hotel, I smiled about how lucky we are in the U.S. when people like that choose to move here. E pluribus unum.

I spent the next day teaching two undergrad classes in the Marshall School of Business, and at 7:15 met my host Kristin Diehl and my original host Joe Nunes for dinner at Rivera, an über-hip restaurant downtown. It took a long time to get a table, but when we did the Latin food was really terrific, with imaginative presentation. A fun night. Up the next morning, the #81 bus south on Figueroa to the Green Line, out to the airport, and home to DFW.

We landed at one, and a few minutes later I ambled into the Hyatt Regency adjacent to the terminals for American’s annual Fall Leaders’ Conference. It was my 22nd and last one, but that prospect did not sadden me. It was time to move on. I saw a lot of old pals, the people who played a big role in my staying two decades plus.

Rinse, repeat. I was up way early the next morning, in the air for less than 30 minutes, south to Austin. Hopped on the 75-cent Airport Flyer to the University of Texas, yakking the whole ride with a longtime American Airlines flight attendant, headed to take her freshman daughter to a birthday lunch. At 11:30 I met a new UT prof, Ying Zhang, and my longtime host Wayne Hoyer. We grabbed a quick plate of enchiladas, and at 12:30 I delivered back-to-back lectures to a remarkably bright group of business undergrads. Very impressive students (admission to the B-school is very tough). Bus back to the airport, short flight home, whoosh.

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