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Thread: Assumptions

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Assumptions

    In my business, I run into the issue of "Assumptions" several times each day. Although I would very much like to, I won't go into another diatribe here about professional travel planning versus the travel websites. Nevertheless, assumptions "nip at us" every day. I was chatting with a colleague about this just a few hours ago. How much do we assume in our lives? The marketing of consumer products represents the most prolific use (abuse?) of this phenomenon. You guys who are as old as me... we remember "New and Improved." Well... What does "new and improved" mean? 30 years ago, consumers ate that phrase up. Nowadays, we're a little more savvy... or are we?

    I'm staring at the label on a bottle of Vodka right now. It says, "Triple Distilled" and "Ten Times Filtered." Now, that sounds awesome... but what do I know about making vodka? What do "Triple Distilled" and "Ten Times Filtered" really mean? Since about 2 years ago, the big deal with food has been "Gluten Free." Before that, it was something else. One year from now, it will probably be something else. So what does "Gluten Free" really mean? If you have done your own research, and you know what it means, then good for you. But what if you don't know? What if, next year, the big deal is for food to be "Frimfram Free?" Why did Gluten become so magically important within the past 3 or 4 years? Gluten has existed since man has been making bread, and people have lived to over 100 years old while eating it. I am reminded of the famous statement by comedian George Burns, when he was over 90 years old...

    Question: What does your doctor say about your smoking and drinking?

    Burns: My doctor is dead.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    The most common conundrum in aviation: Two Engines Must be Better Than One Engine, Right?

    Well, the answer is not quite that simple.

    First of all... to allay any fears... modern jet airliners can perform quite well if one engine fails, and airline pilots, in general, are well-trained to handle an engine failure. Nevertheless, an engine failure is always a serious situation, on any aircraft. Fortunately, airliner engine failures are very rare.

    The reality is that the simpler the aircraft is to operate, the more time the pilot has to devote to navigation and aircraft control. When a pilot has to manage 2 or 4 or 8 engines, that takes his attention away from "Flying the Airplane", which is his most basic responsibility. The fewer engines that a pilot has to manage, the more time he has to devote to the conduct of the flight. All airplanes fly, whether they have 8 or 2 or 0 engines. Captain Sullenberger flew an Airbus 320 into the Hudson River just fine, with no engine power at all. Oversimplified... Airplanes fly just fine without engines. The engines just make the airplanes go up and go fast. If US Airways Flight 1549 had been at 20,000 feet when the engines quit, it could have glided to any number of airports. The famous "Gimli Glider" had to "Slip" to lose altitude prior to landing... otherwise it would have flown too far.

    So, when we look at 2 engines versus 1 engine... the truth is that 2 engines are better under certain circumstances. Long-range flights, with large stretches in cruise flight over the ocean or other inhospitable territory, benefit from the additional safety benefit of more than one engine. However, this does not correctly translate into the false assumption that 2 engines are better than one. By splitting your available power among multiple engines, you are simply giving yourself more to manage. No airplane with 2 engines flies "just fine" on only 1 engine. However, although I love flying single engine airplanes, I wouldn't charge off on a trans-Pacific jaunt in an airplane with only one engine, without careful consideration. It's a trade-off. Never forget... no matter how reliable the engine is, whenever you add an engine, you increase your chances of an engine failure.

    I'll drive this point home... Most of the guys on this forum probably assume that an airliner flying from the USA to Costa Rica requires 2 engines. That is not strictly true. There are rules that allow a single-engine airliner to fly between the USA and Costa Rica, although that is rarely done. On the other hand, those same guys might be surprised to learn that 2 engines is Not Enough. In fact, the primary deal-breaker regarding flights between the USA and Costa Rica is... Generators. On most flights between the USA and Costa Rica, the airliner must have THREE (3) operating generators. This is due to a combination of airline and governmental rules/laws, which depends upon the flight in question. Some of you may have noticed that different types of aircraft fly to Costa Rica from the USA, depending upon the origination or destination point in the USA. There are reasons for that.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Why is it an Incredibly Bad Idea to reserve/buy your hotel room based upon the hotel's TripAdvisor(TA) reviews? Well... that's a long and involved subject that most consumers, and most certainly TripAdvisor, will never understand... but I will try to explain...

    Hoteliers... particularly "boutique" or small hotel owners... are not selling eggs, bottles of Coca-Cola, or chewing gum. They are selling an Experience... at least the good ones are. What you see on TA is simply a snapshot of tourists... just like you... who have spent 20 minutes on Travelocity and TripAdvisor, and have booked a room based upon that so-called "research."

    I am not trying to insult anyone, but I am trying to "Jerk a Knot" in you (as my father used to say). You guys don't know diddly about planning a trip. You go on Travelocity and TripAdvisor for a half-hour, and then you book your trip based upon that. Those websites have so much false information posted on their websites that I would be surprised if TA could answer a single question about any of the venues reviewed on their websites. Hotel Little Havana, right here in San Josť, Costa Rica, which no longer exists, continues to receive reviews, which are posted on TA.

    I don't hate TA. I envy TA. I wish that I had thought of their business model before they did. Brilliant.

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    The efficiency of aircraft and airlines...

    We all assume that "Efficiency" is better... but Nobody wants to have the most efficient fighter aircraft in the air. Why not? Because the most efficient fighter aircraft in the air will get its ass kicked... every time. Some efficiency is good, of course, but you can't build an airplane that is both fast and good at combat. Look at Concorde and the SR-71... Those aircraft were both long and lean. Concorde's passenger cabin was cramped, even by typical narrow-body standards... far more narrow than the cabin of a Boeing 737. Why? Because long and thin makes a good supersonic airplane. Fighter aircraft like the F-16, F-15, and even the F-22? They are shitty at supersonic flight, even though the F-22 is a far cry better than its predecessors. That's because a fighter aircraft cannot be efficient at supersonic flight and still be an effective fighter. We can make improvements, but we can't turn an F-22 into Concorde.

    Now, practically speaking, how does that relate to us, as airline passengers? Well, an efficient airliner is good, to a certain point. How much are you willing to pay for that? I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about crew base paradigm, maintenance structure, hub-and-spoke philosophy, service de-bundling, etc.

    Quite recently, and airline executive said (paraphrased), "People won't pay $110 for a ticket... but they will pay $85 for a ticket, $15 for a checked bag, $10 for onboard snacks/drinks, and $15 for preferred seating." That's a total of $125... and the guy was Absolutely Right. Of course, savvy customers will only pay the $85, and nothing else. However, many of those customers will end up paying at least $120 for the ticket and extra charges, and they will pat themselves on the back for their ingenuity. Not everyone, of course, but enough of them.

    About 2 years ago, I was having a drink at a local bar, with a hotelier whom I know. He was complaining about people constantly calling him up and asking for discounts, particularly during the green season. I responded that it was not unusual for people to request discounts during the green season. He acknowledged that, but then he told me that even his long-time regular customers were petitioning for huge discounts during the green season. I asked him if he had been giving discounts readily during the green season in past years. He admitted that he had. My response was, "You've been giving the milk away for free... Now nobody wants to buy the cow." His best customers were milking him dry during the green season, when he most desperately needed the income. I suggested a new plan, which he followed...

    Don't discount the green season. If someone... especially a regular client... asks for a discount for a stay during the green season, tell him that the hotel is already fully booked. Whenever someone asks you how business is going, tell them, " I am Swamped!" Now... you have taken away all of their leverage. Of course, a hotelier wants to please his customers... but a hotelier has to eat, too. It's cheaper to just close the hotel for 2 or 3 months, than it is to have a half-full hotel with the guests paying 70% of the regular room rates. In effect, you are "creating exclusivity." It works. Is an Armani suit really worth 10 times the price of any other suit on the rack at "Men's Warehouse?" No... but Armani has "created exclusivity." Just having the Armani logo embroidered on your coat makes the suit worth twice the price.

    Here's what you say... "I'm sorry. You are one of my very best customers, but I cannot offer you a 50% discount for October. In fact, we are already full for October. But you are a very special customer. I tell you what... I will give you a very special price of 10% off for November, if we can find some dates that are open for you. When can you visit us in November? If I have a room available in November, then I promise... 10% discount... just for you."


    ---------



    This is straight-up New York City Night Club stuff, folks...

    You ain't a HOT night club unless you have a line. In NYC, the bouncers call this the "Line Ride" (referencing the episode of "South Park"). You do whatever it takes to have a line waiting outside of your club... because if there isn't a line waiting to get inside of your club, then you are Toast.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 08-25-2016 at 02:33 AM.

  5. #5
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    I am bantering about quite a bit with a few friends who saw my post about "Assumptions."

    The current topic of conversation is "Water"

    This is a big "Assumption" topic...

    I can increase the output of a gasoline-powered piston engine by 60%... using Water...

    The typical answer, of course, is "Bullshit!"

    The reality is that engineers figured this one out long ago, during World War II, while looking for any way to give the Allies an edge over the Axis powers. Eventually, the Allies discovered that Water increases the Octane of the typical fuel used in a piston engine. Soon, P-51 Mustangs were producing 60% more power at "War Emergency Power" settings, using water injection and water-alcohol injection. Mixing the water with alcohol (specifically, methanol) made the water vaporize more quickly and efficiently. Many P-51 Mustangs used a 50/50 Fuel/water-alcohol injection to produce far more power than fuel alone.

    Of course... water doesn't burn... so, how does it work? Assumptions...

    p.s. the amount of alcohol involved is negligible, so burning alcohol is Not the answer...
    Last edited by Speedy1; 08-25-2016 at 03:26 AM.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Another aviation-related topic...

    We're all riding on propeller-driven airliners. We call them "Jet Aircraft" or "Jets"... but they are really Not... at least, not the way that the pioneers of the jet engine expected.

    So... What are today's "Jet" engines... really?

    They are a hybrid of what we call "Turbofans" and "Ducted Fans." The people who originally created the jet engine would probably call them "Ultra-High Bypass Turbine-Driven Fans"... or some shit like that.

    Basically, at some point in the early history of the Turbojet (a true jet engine), some pud-knocker noticed... "Holy Crap! Did you guys notice that the compressor fan that is shoving the air into the combustion chamber is shoving in a lot more air than we need? and that most of that air is basically being wasted?"

    What these guys basically noticed is that a compressor can shove way more air than is needed into a turbine's combustion section, and that they should probably start looking at ways to use that wasted energy. That's the modern high-bypass turbofan... a small jet engine driving a huge turbine/compressor that forces large amounts of slow-moving air around the combustion section of the engine. Bonus: The cool, slow-moving air mixes with the faster-moving hot air and reduces the heat and noise caused by the exhaust from the engine. It is also a lot more efficient, since a lot of the air is providing thrust, even though it is not being burned with the fuel.

    In effect, mankind only invented the turbojet so that it could invent the turbofan. But that's not quite true, either. What we've learned is that the piston engine, the turbofan, the turbojet, etc... Each is appropriate to its own purpose...

    For the foreseeable future, here is where we stand regarding air transportation...

    Airliners powered by twin-engine high-bypass turbofans will be around for quite a while. They are the cheapest way to move large numbers of customers around at low cost and reasonably high speeds (short duration of flight).

    Propeller-driven (unducted) aircraft are the most efficient for low-speed air travel.

    Turbojet aircraft are inefficient, and will not be seen again in commercial aviation, except possibly among the wealthy, for private supersonic transport. Efficient supersonic flight requires inefficient turbojet power and inefficient airframe design, which precludes its use in mainstream transport.

    ----------

    This is a question that I get a lot...

    "What's the future of supersonic transport?"

    The truth is that supersonic transport is DEAD. As long as people demand $88 tickets from Miami to Cancun, we'll never again see supersonic air transport. Does the technology exist? Of course it does. But travelers in 2016 are demanding ticket prices which, adjusted for inflation, are miniscule, compared to ticket prices 40 or 50 years ago.

    It costs an airline about $60 Million to purchase a Boeing 737, and about $7000 per hour to operate it (including fuel). Add to that the fixed costs of ownership (inspections, maintenance, etc.) the costs of passenger service (snacks, water, coca-cola, etc.), crew costs (salaries, benefits, and crew-handling expenses) and figure on $8000 per hour. Oh... and I gotta pay the note on that $60 Million Airplane... so let's add in $50 per hour for that. Now... I'm supposed to fly you and 150 of your buddies from Houston to Costa Rica for $400 per? But wait... a large chunk of the cost of your ticket consists of government taxes. I only collect $340 of your $400 ticket. It costs me $56,300 just to run a 737 out-and-back between Houston and San Josť... and if the 150 passengers pay an average of $400 per ticket, I collect $51,000 gross.

    And what about the expenses for the people who run the airline? The gate agents? The call-center people? My costs are mounting...

    I'm already $5300 in the hole... just for operating the flight. Of course, a couple of passengers will pay $500 - $1000 extra for the big seat up front, and then I'll trot the flight attendants down the aisles to make a $2 profit on each mini-bottle of whiskey and vodka.

    There are two approaches to this dilemma...

    The low-cost airlines will attempt to extract money from you aggressively, mostly with ancillary charges, which will hopefully result in a profit.

    The legacy carriers are a bit more subtle. They will attempt to coax extra money out of you with the promise of "exceptional" service. They are actually pretty good at it. On one particular occasion (and I am not joking at all), a Singapore Airlines flight attendant walked up to me and said, "Excuse me, Sir, but we have a seat available in First Class for you, if you would be willing to pay $500 for it." I handed her my credit card and said "Uh-Huh."


    I'll never understand this...

    People will Happily Pay $15 for a plate of Spaghetti... and Pasta costs about $4 per cubic meter...

    But they WILL bitch about being transported over 1500 miles in a $60 Million state-of-the-art aircraft at over 500 miles per hour for $300.

  7. #7
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    I have got a lot of friends and colleagues emailing me about this topic. About half of them agree with me... and about half of them do not...

    But I stand by my statement... Why do we assume so much? Why do we take so much for granted? I'm going to look around my office right now...


    1) One of my notebook computers has a sticker on it... "Enhanced Experience 2.0" ... what the hell does that mean?

    2) A bottle of juice... "No Preservatives" ... why is that a good thing? No preservatives? Maybe the juice needs preservatives. What if I drink it, and it's full of harmful bacteria, because it wasn't properly preserved?

    3) "No Artificial Colors" ... "No Artificial Flavors" ... is that a BAD thing? Maybe the artificial colors and flavors are safer than natural colors and flavors. Cobra Venom is "Natural", Right?

    4) This is one from a long time ago... I was only about 9 years old, as I recall. I was in the store with my Mom, and picked up a bottle of Orange Juice. It was actually labeled "Orange Juice." Then, I noticed that it was also labeled "100% Juice." I asked, "Mom? If it's orange juice, then why does it have to say 100% juice?" As it turned out, you can call it "Juice", even if it's not 100% juice... which is all kinds of fucked up.

    5) Shortly after the "Juice Incident", I found out about "Cheese Food." I would have been less traumatized after watching "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" than I was after this discussion...

    Back then, it was called "Cheese Food", but they can't call it that any more. Nowadays they have to call it "Cheese Product", "Prepared Cheese", or "Cheese Singles" (for slices of pretend-cheese).

    Of course, I couldn't resist, and I metaphorically put the gun to my head and cocked the hammer...

    Me: Mom? What does "Cheese Food" mean?

    Mom: Well, Son... that means that it looks and tastes like cheese, but it's not really cheese.

    Me: So what is it?

    Mom: Well, Son... it can be soy, sugar, salt, mustard, sodium stearoyl lactylate, vegetable oil, salt, coloring, whey, and various dairy by-products.

    Me: Huh?

    Mom: It's not cheese, Son.

    Me: Mom? What does "Whey" mean?

    Mom: It's the German word for "Sadness", Son.

  8. #8
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    I worked with the U.S. Government for several years, and one of the "Big Deals" with the Supervisors in all branches of the U.S. Civil Service is "Sick Leave Abuse." Basically, the supervisors review your sick leave "patterns" at least twice each year. One of the basic "Assumptions" is that if your sick leave usage equals or exceeds "50% in conjunction with days off", that is a potential indicator of sick leave abuse. The concept is that if an employee is using his sick leave "in conjunction" with his days off, he is trying to extend his "weekend."

    Now... At this point in time, I was working a 4-Day week... what the government calls a "Compressed Work Schedule." I worked 4 days, then had 3 days off, then worked 4 days, then had 3 days off, and so on and so forth. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that 50% of the days that I worked were in conjunction with my days off. Nevertheless, my supervisor, "Mister Wizard", called me in for a "counseling session" about my sick leave usage. He explained to me how he had been monitoring my usage of sick leave, and that I had used 47% of my sick leave "in conjunction with my days off." I responded, "You do know that I am working 4-Day weeks, right?" He answered, "Yes, I know that. So? What's your point?"

    [long pause... with my jaw dropped to the floor]

    Then... I finally responded... "You're absolutely right, sir. I'll definitely be more responsible from this point forward. I am so sorry for causing any problems." He answered, "Well, thank you. I'm sure that everything will be OK from now on."

    I mean... What else could I have Possibly Said?

  9. #9
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Thinking about this topic made me think of this experience, about 10 years ago...

    I was on the job, in Asia, assigned quarters in a very nice hotel/resort near the worksite. After my first night in the country, I met with my co-workers in preparation for our assignment. One of my co-workers asked me where I was staying, and I told him the name of my hotel. He immediately said, "No. You are here for 3 weeks. I cannot allow a colleague to stay in a hotel for 3 weeks." I responded that it was standard procedure, and that the hotel was quite wonderful (it really was). He replied, "Nonsense! I cannot allow a colleague to stay in a hotel for 3 weeks! It would be inappropriate for me to allow that! You will stay in my family's home!" I answered, "Well... I accept, of course."

    I didn't want to offend the guy (part of my training), but I was prepared for the worst. Oh... No...

    When the Limo pulled up in front of this guy's mansion, I thought, "What in The Hell have I gotten myself into?" As it turned out, the guy was a member of the royal family of the country in question. However, the guy was a straight-up professional. The entire time that I was in the country, he did his job exceptionally well, and he never "pulled rank" regarding his position in the royal family.

    So... for 3 weeks... I lived in a royal mansion. The huge mansion and lavish furnishings were easy to get used to. What was not easy to get used to was... the servants. For 3 weeks, I had 3 maids, 2 butlers, 2 cooks, and a concierge, waiting on me, hand and foot. That really weirded me out. The maids didn't wear those little french maid outfits. They just wore jeans and t-shirts. But they were still 20 years old and hot as a mother-fucker. Wake up to that at 8 a.m. in the morning, with the maid saying, "Time to wake up, Sir. Can I help you bathe and dress?" My first answer was, "No. And never ask me that question again."

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