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I was flying Southwest from Houston back to ABQ after a challenging all-day course I presented on the shale-gas revolution to a large Oil and Gas company. Waiting at the departure gate I looked up from my laptop to see an elderly man, tall and very thin, with untidy hair and poorly dressed, who was also waiting to catch my flight. I wonder how he can afford a plane ticket? was my thought.

My boarding pass was numbered A41, and so I was able to pick an aisle seat near the front of the plane. I settled in to read USA Today while the rest of the 200 or so passengers boarded. A man with a Balbo beard under a ball-cap was already seated by the window in my row, and we both were hoping a Jennifer Aniston would come and sit between us.… More

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