Friday, March 29, 2013

U.S. Airways Sucks

I've followed the news. I'm not a completely ignorant man. I know that, awhile back U.S. Airways filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I also know that, recently, there was a judge approved merger for American Airlines and U.S. Airways. But one thing I couldn't understand was...why did they fail in the first place?

To be fair, the economy is bad. I'll give it that. And post-9/ have gone down. But what could have made such big companies, such cornerstones of the flight industry...financially collapse.

Then I flew with them. And I understood.

U.S. Airways is nothing like it used to be. It used to be a decent airline, back when I was a kid. Now, through subtle, shady's become a shell of it's former glory. is a strong word. It's more along the lines of "dog feces and old meat in a paper bag, lit on fire, stomped out, and then left in the Texas sun for three days".

Why the bitterness? The hostility. Well, in the words of the Aristocats...allow me to elucidate.

I am, as we speak, getting ready to fly to the ADI conference in Denver. I booked the tickets for the flights through U.S. Airways more than a month ago. Valentine's day, to be exact. Here's the proof:

U.S. Airways, being the kind and generous souls they are, decided it was more than appropriate to take my money for said tickets. See?:

And I couldn't fault them. I had seats set and I was happy dandy. Bear in mind, these flights were for MORE THAN A MONTH AWAY. One month, two weeks, two days, to be precise. I HAD SEATS:

So when I got the call to finalize things, everything was hunky dory. I went to test out the "check-in" section and got a Runtime error. Not fantastic so I contacted them on Twitter. I asked what the deal was and if they could confirm my seats (I didn't actually have a seat for the return flight). They sent me to their website to confirm the seats. Buuuuut...when I got to the U.S. Airways website, I was greeted to this:


As you can see by that picture...there are no regular seats. Apparently someone needed my seat more than I did and got it. Who knew, right? So this means two things. I could:

A) Pay extra for seats.
B) Get my seat at the counter.

Now, bear in mind a couple things. First thing is that I already paid for these tickets. They TOOK MY MONEY. They took it from my account and its theirs. Second...the plane itself. Let me put the De Haviland Dash 8 100 Turboprop into perspective. Here is the seating chart:

Thanks for backing me up,
You may note something. This is not a large plane. It's not even a medium plane. Or a medium-small plane. This is a Kid's Extra Small plane. It seats 37 and "seats 37" means "37 bodies can be, in theory, Tetris'd into this plane and you will get there with mostly everything attached". Here's the interior:

Courtesy of Colin Zuppicich and

Now...if it isn't blatantly clear to you at this point...there is NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING "Choice" about those seats. The back row of this plane is pretty much three seats bolted to the wall like a bench seat. It's a glorified public bus with wings.

So let's get back to where I was...I could do two things:

A) Pay for the "choice" seats (NOT. CHOICE. AT. ALL.)
B) Get my seat at the counter.

I talked to the U.S. Airways people on Twitter, through private message. I asked if I was guaranteed a seat at the counter because, y'know, I paid for this shit and everything. Their response?

I'm sorry. What? So let me get this straight. You can't guarantee I'll get a seat, even though I paid for it over a month ago, BORDERING on two months. Instead, you decide that it'll be a good idea to put me between a rock and my wallet: either show up at the ass-crack of dawn and pray to the gods above that I can get a seat to make my connection to get to Denver and get to the conference...or shell out MORE MONEY TO YOU.

I shelled out the money for the piece of mind. It was probably the hardest $41 I've ever spent. And dammit, I want it back. And the worst part is is that as soon as I get to that goddamn gate, I'm going to have to shell over $50 just to check my bag. Because everyone can fit their clothing for almost a week in Denver in a carry-on. light has come on. The bulb has flickered to life and I get it. The general shitty attitude of all airlines has put them in the place their in now. Continuing to inconvenience travelers for profit means people will go elsewhere. Honestly, I'd say that this would be my last time on U.S. Airways...if it wasn't the only goddamn carrier out of Stewart worth a damn. So I'm stuck with them. Let me reiterate here, even though I'm probably preaching to the hundred thousand strong choir:

U.S. Airways sucks both figuratively and literally (the money out of my goddamn wallet).

Friday, March 22, 2013


Refer to video above. Watch it. Let it soak in. ABSORB IT. Except the "bad news" parts. Those you can ignore for now. Now that you're properly prepared for the good news, in a traditional Farnsworth style...


I'm now a consultant at large for the alcoholic beverage industry. Well...I shortly will be. I'm waiting to fill out some paperwork at the county clerk's office so I can get a swanky name and a business account. But yes, I am consulting.

You may have noticed (or probably not) me sneakily add in the tab above that says "consulting". Yes, I will be available for consulting for all of your alcoholic beverage needs. It's been a long time coming, really. I'm still ironing a few kinks out, double checking things, crossing I's and dotting T's (waaaait) but it looks like it's going to happen.

It's been a long time coming, too. I've been pondering over this decision for about six months now, wondering if it's something that I can make work and can afford to do. But the ultimate decision came down to one thing:

It's what I WANT to do.

You don't know me, really. You've never hung out with me ad nauseum like my friends have. So subsequently, you don't know how hard I NERD OUT to booze. Like...embarrassingly so. My friends, I'm pretty sure, feel tinges of shame every time I do it. I go to Stockade Tavern and browse the back bar and begin rattling off formula information, legal definitions, obscure cocktails they go into, and my thoughts on them. It happens every damn time. And...I'm not ashamed of it. I genuinely love doing it. I love to share what I've garnered with the world. I mean, I don't know everything. I can't profess to being an expert. Even if others would consider me an expert I still wouldn't consider myself an expert. You call yourself an expert when you stop learning. And I never want to do that. So I figured it was time to share my unbridled enthusiasm with the world. And to be paid to do what I do anyway, well...that's just icing on the cake.

So! Over the next few weeks I will be getting all of my ducks in a row, getting the necessary paperwork filled out so I can be all fancypants and such, and I will be open to consulting offers should you or anyone you know need them. I will, once I get things worked out, be purchasing a domain and making another website that will have my CV on it and such. Don't worry, it won't affect anything here. If anything, I'll probably be posting more! Although, frankly, I don't think I could be posting less. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to that little Consulting button and hopefully we'll be able to work together in the future, immediate or otherwise.

PS: If you know anyone that needs some distilling help, let them know about Bacchus. Bacchus likes consult-ies.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Social Media and the Alcoholic Beverage Industry

This is a post I've been meaning to write for awhile and now I finally have the impetus to do it. Being part of the IBM My Smarter Commerce program for (almost) the past month has left me with a lot of thoughts. Aside from the self-depreciating ones like "why did they pick me?" and "what do I have to offer?" and "why am I talking to myself in my room?", the biggest one is "what is good social media and what has it done for me?" And then I realize.

It's built my brand. Or whatever you want to call In With Bacchus at this point.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that without Twitter, I don't think I'd be half as known as I am now and a quarter as popular as I am (maybe I'm exaggerating those two numbers but I'm just gonna say that they're small to begin with). It's allowed me to do so many things with so little monetary investment. When I first started this website, I had no Twitter followers and it was just a way for me to write down what I liked and didn't like. Now I have 3000+ followers and people actually listen to me. LISTEN TO ME! HOW WEIRD IS THAT?! But how? And why? After a month's worth of thinking, of ruminating, of pondering...I think I got it. The key is twofold: good social media practices and interfacing. Here's how they work.

What Is Good Social Media?

First off, what is good social media? I'm not talking about "what's your favorite platform". I'm talking about how it's used. For me, this ties directly into what I love so much about the beverage industry. You see, even the most industrial spirit...require something special. They require hands on. Hands on is a big thing for me. So many places these days don't make anything anymore. They ship it out, the automate it, they streamline it. But for the majority of the alcoholic beverage industry...that's just not how it goes. Sure, you may have your rectified spirits cut down to make vodka. But at the heart of that are a few guys and gals who check the grain in the grain quality office and decide whether or not its suitable for ethanol production. There are the guys and gals that mill the grain. The people that pump the grain into the mashing vats. The people that pump the water in. The people that check the strike temperatures of the water going in to make sure the enzymes convert the starches to sugars. The men and women that work in the yeast propagation labs, mixing proprietary yeast strains into nutrient media and letting the yeast divide and conquer its way to volumes suitable for fermentation. There are the men and women that dump the yeast and and watch that fermentation. The men and women that fabricate the short, squat pot stills or the stories tall column stills. All of it requires hands on. It's just the nature of the beast. No matter how industrial a company gets...there's always someone there checking, watching, waiting, and using their experience to guide the process to a better product. And that's amazing.

It is no coincidence that good social media programs should be the same way. If you follow me on Twitter (if you don't you should), you know that I spend a majority of my day on Twitter. I love Twitter because it allows me to have hundreds, thousands of micro-conversations in real time with people all across the world on topics I love. Whisk(e)y, gin, cigars, pipe tobacco, you name it. There are people out there that I get to talk to about anything I want and that's super cool. And I get involved. I get hands on. I don't send out blanket Tweets (well, very, very rarely I do), I engage people in one-to-one or small conversations, I answer questions and pose new ones. I treat it like a conversation. That's what people and companies do wrong. A lot of people complain that "Twitter is all Tweets about what people ate for lunch." Yeah, you get those. But fundamentally...that's what you want. You want it to be personal. You want to put yourself out there, get your hands dirty, and use your knowledge and expertise to put your spin on things. Everybody's got something their passionate about. EVERYBODY. You may not think it but there's something out there that when someone mentions it your eyes light up and you start to talk faster. Everybody's got it. Twitter is where you should flaunt it. Where people (mostly companies) go wrong is when they don't share that passion. They don't interact. Blanket Tweets, shilling ads, funny PR quips...they're not good. They don't add anything to the conversation that is Twitter, they just clutter it up. Are you someone super excited about plastic molding? I'm sure there's people out there on Twitter that would gladly listen to what you have to say. But you NEED to get involved. I've seen so many businesses and brands START on Twitter and become successful on Twitter just because they interact, they converse, they hang out in the e-cafe that is Twitter. And that's cool. It also brings me to my next point.

How Does It Help?

The alcoholic beverage industry is MASSIVE. It's more massive than you can possibly imagine and in ways you may not understand. Sure, you have your large companies in the alcoholic beverage industry. They produce dozens of brands, if not hundreds. That's fine and dandy. But there's also the little guys as well. The small production, locally sourced guys. The mom-and-pops of the liquor industry, I guess you could say. And this is where social media shines.

Over the course of the 4 years I've spent on Twitter, I've ran into so many brands NOT associated with large companies its staggering. I've talked with them on Twitter and watched them grow. Imbue Vermouth, Cro Magnon Cigars, Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters, Drew Estate Cigars. I've been able to interface with these brands and watch their growth as I've puttered along on the blog. Twitter is amazing for smaller brands to directly interface with their consumers and get their sweet, sweet liquor and cigars into my mind. I think about them. I want them. They maybe thousands of miles away from me and all they really have is a website and a bunch of stores that sell them but the fact of the matter is is that I've talked to the people that own them, that make their stuff, and had conversations with them. We've chatted. Kind of a big deal. I dunno, I find this part especially hard to put into words. The first part is easier because it reflects what I love about my industry but this part has that certain je ne sais quoi about it. It's awe inspiring to watch brands grow on a social media platform. Using the ability to say "Hey, what about our stuff" in an era of massive advertisements for big brand products is pretty cool. Being able to talk to the people making the stuff is even cooler. And the fact that I can do it at 2am in my sweatpants is probably the best part. But shhh, don't tell anyone that.