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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
By Joe Brancatelli
September 27, 2012 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

Today marks the 11th anniversary of JoeSentMe, a site I "designed" to last a month. No wonder I spent yesterday in bed with a mystery ailment.

If I'm ever remembered for anything, I am much more than okay if it's for the first column I wrote for JoeSentMe.com on September 27, 2001.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I started JoeSentMe because the business-travel publishers went into hiding in an undisclosed location right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and many of us, me included, were literally stranded on the road with no way to communicate with each other. Memo to the mainstream publishers: It's okay to come out of hiding now.

On the other hand, maybe they should stay in their holes. If things like Premier Traveler or Frequent Business Traveler are the best that they can do, maybe they should continue to ignore us.

Nobody asked me, but ...

A JoeSentMe member sent a note he received from Starwood Preferred Guest decrying the fact that "it's been a while--10,260 months, in fact--since you've stayed with us." Even I know that is wrong because the member E-mailed me while he was staying at the Sheraton Runnymede for the signing of Magna Carta in 1215. That's less than 9,600 months ago.

Speaking of Magna Carta, didja see British Prime Minister David Cameron punt the Latin translation on David Letterman's show last night? You can watch the show here, complete with a funny Top 10 List of words that almost rhyme with Mahmoud. You know, as in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I can summarize this election: Romney's best chance was when the campaign was a referendum on Obama's record. The moment Obama's team turned the election into a choice between Obama (and what he says he wants) and Romney (who they've painted as Bush III), the dynamic changed.

And have you noticed that Romney has stopped asking "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" That's because a large enough number of undecided voters are answering "Yes." They apparently feel that ending the Iraq war, saving GM and Chrysler, stabilizing the banks, beginning the process of health-care reform and rising home values and stock prices factor into the answer. Besides, who asks that question matters. Regardless of what else you may think of him, Romney's no Reagan.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Don't assume the election is over. It's just not. The potential outcome is still anything from an Obama electoral-vote landslide to a Romney electoral-vote landslide. Besides, a decade of gridlock should convince you that your votes for Senator and House member matter, too.

I'm not sure I understand the right wing's claim that the so-called "liberal media" has cooked the polls as a way to depress the Romney voters and keep them at home. I don't know about you, but I vote regardless of polls. I always have, always will. Participating in the process is at least as important as who wins.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Have you noticed that Frontier Airlines, now run by David Siegel, has cracked down on its frequent flyer program with a collection of dumb-ass new restrictions if you don't book directly with Frontier? (See them here.) Because, you know, a similar collection of dumb-ass rules worked so well for Siegel when he was running US Airways. (See my commentary on those here.)

Delta Air Lines has changed SkyMiles' rules again. Without notice, it has upped some award levels by 5,000 miles each and once again refuses to offer last-seat availability no matter how many miles you're willing to spend. And when you ask Delta to explain itself, Jeff Robertson, who runs SkyMiles and claimed the carrier's three-tier award chart was specifically designed to protect last-seat availability, says he's traveling and too busy to talk.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Business travelers are thrilled when their plane is equipped with in-flight WiFi. But actually using it? Not so much. Gogo, which dominates the market, reports that the "uptake" rate in the first half of the year is just 5.4 percent on planes wired with its WiFi. That's up just one percent from last year and about half of the number Gogo had been leading some media types to believe.

Speaking of things that seem more important than they are: Is Chick-fil-A's 15 minutes up yet?

Nobody asked me, but ...

So much for good vibrations now that the Beach Boys are feuding and three of the founding members, including Brian Wilson, have been booted from the tour.

As much as I miss Grace Slick and her primal-scream vocals on Jefferson Airplane classics like White Rabbit, Somebody to Love and Volunteers, she might have been right when she said: "All rock-and-rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire." Of course, you might not agree if you listen to Tempest, 71-year-old Bob Dylan's new album.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Eleven years of JoeSentMe.com and nearly 30 years of covering business-travel and, you know what? I feel like Grace Slick, but hope I'm still relevant like Dylan.

More than 11 years ago I wrote a column that joked I always wanted to be mentioned in the same sentence with Sondheim so I wrote one. Now I notice I just wrote a sentence that mentioned me with Grace Slick and Dylan. I should quit while you're only mostly convinced that I'm an egomaniac.

But, you know, I do think I'm as good as Johnny Mercer--except for the singing, piano playing and songwriting bits ...

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.