Visiting Family and In-Laws During the Holidays

It’s that magical time of year when many of us drive to visit our families for the holidays. Some of us get to visit multiple families, namely our own kin and our in-laws during these wonderful days.

We endure traffic, snow and rain, mountain roads, and having to wear “itchy church clothes” so we can get to our destinations and look our best as we say our “Hello and Merry Christmas!” and peruse the cookie table at each relative’s home.

Our trip this year takes us to northern Connecticut, then to the Poconos, and then finally back to NYC. 4 days, 3 destinations and unlimited possibilities for family fun, awkward moments, sibling drama and in-law shenanigans. The stories of our family’s most colorful “Christmas Past” moments are retold often and remain cringeworthy and/or funny no matter many times they’re told.

What awaits us this year? Of course we don’t know yet, but as I mapped this year’s journey on Google maps I noticed that the plotted points felt strangely familiar. Not the towns, but their relationship to each other. After consulting some world maps and charts for patterns, it hit me like a bolt of lightning from a freak storm. Take a look and you tell me if I should be afraid.

The TriangleO

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Commuting made worse by commuters

It does matter if your commute is a 20 minute walk across town or 2 hours in the car or train, there is no reason to be a selfish bastard.

I’m amazed that there are so many idiots who have no concept of others when they travel.

People who insist on a double seat on the train, or even a quadruple seat (feet up on seat in front and wheels bag across two seats). I focus on these people and make a point of getting them To move.

And the drivers who have lane torrettes and twitch between lanes on the highway for no discernible advantage.these plonkers I avoid, as invariably sticking to one lane without changing is just as successful as any number of lane changes, as is a lot more comfortable.

But the common denominator with all these idiots is that they are causing slow downs and discomfort for everyone, and they end is lowering even their own comfort.

I still think that a cattle prod with a single change per week for everyone would encourage better behavior.

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Breakup Note Signed by “Autopen” in Question; Relationship End Delayed 2 Months Pending Inquiry

January 3, 2013: Average Angry Wire Service:  A controversy is brewing in Washington, DC around the use of an autopen to sign an important document, namely a document which would end a controversial agreement between often arguing parties.

This is a boy-meets-girl story that began well enough on a Capitol Hill bar crawl stop at the Tune Inn dive bar and evolved into a semi-commited relationship between the two long-time singles. The relationship now includes a drawer at each other’s apartment, a joint credit card and an assumed “date” each Saturday night.  But as with many boy-meets-girl stories it got ugly after one unfortunate “toilet non-flushing” too many. Screaming, name calling and a storming out followed and then a few days later the “note” appeared in the boy’s Google + account.

The autopen is mightier than the swirl?
The autopen is mightier than the swirl?
The girl in question (Nancy), states that “It’s over!” and that autopen is a perfectly acceptable way to authenticate a breakup, BFF status change or other relationship decision.  Her former love (John, but known as “Boner” by friends and colleagues), disagrees and adamantly states that the breakup “isn’t the real deal without a real quill.”  He also refuses to relinquish her drawer, end their fiscal entanglements or change his Facebook relationship status until she returns from her family vacation in Hawaii (so they can come to a resolution face to face on neutral territory in Washington).

His challenge to the validity of the “Dear Boner” letter has caused Nancy stress on her Hawaiian vacation, according to her spokesperson, and almost led to her canceling a much anticipated golf game and cliff diving tour with the newly elected president of the local American Legion hall in Waikiki Beach.  Her spokesperson also stated that she’ll deal with the problem in 2 months when she returns to DC and that her debt to him will eventually be paid off and won’t cause his Visa account to reach its ceiling and hurt his credit rating.

Sources familiar with the couple said they couldn’t elaborate on the bathroom incident but heard her threaten him with a “swirly” or similar swirl related toilet action if he didn’t “clean up his act.”

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Angry About Retirement Parties

I’m angry about retirement parties.

“Happy Retirement” keg stands in your future?

The University of Connecticut (and pretty much the state of Connecticut), just threw a retirement party for longtime head basketball coach Jim Calhoun.  He worked hard for them and stayed loyal and they stayed loyal to him during some rough times as well.  He had a hugely successful career that included 3 national championships over his 26 years as head coach at UConn.  He helped generate much success and revenue at UConn and he’ll collect a hefty pension to retire on; no one feels guilty or cheated.

My father had a retirement party when he left his employer of 45 years.  He worked relentlessly for all of those years and drove achievement of ever higher sales goals year after year.  Nights, weekends and even while officially “on vacation” for 2 weeks per year he was dedicated and “on the job” for his company and his customers.  He loved the challenge and beating the competition and overall he was well compensated enough to raise a large family and send them all to college.  The party was great and included old photos and stories about his dedication and drive as well as humorous anecdotes from co-workers, bosses, employees and his customers.  He made them a lot of money and they were grateful for his contributions, happy he would get to travel and relax, and sad he wasn’t coming in to work next week (or ever again).

My father-in-law is retiring in November and will no doubt get a similar, well-deserved send-off too.  He’s very smart (Mensa smart), hard working and dedicated, like almost all of my friends and relatives who will be forced one way or another to change jobs every 5-10 years or so in the name of “maximizing shareholder value,” “management restructuring” or something similar to make a fiscal quarter or two smell better.  My generation and those which follow it will follow a different path than the “company” men and women that preceded us in the workplace, a much more wasteful one for all involved in my opinion.

Yes, I’m angry about retirement parties.  More specifically I’m angry about the lack of real retirement parties (like Dad got) to look forward to for the rest of us.  An impromptu happy hour drink or trip to the nudie bar with a few co-workers on your last day before taking your next job doesn’t cut it.  I want a cake, a keg, bourbon, embarrassing stories and perhaps even a stripper or two in the office when I “retire” after a long career in a good firm that understands the irreplaceable value of institutional knowledge possessed by its smart, loyal workers.  Too much to ask?  Probably- (11)

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When Scandal = Opportunity

The latest scandal related to “the royals” in jolly old England has plenty of important people hopping mad and many more annoyed that telephoto photography technology isn’t better than it is.  It seems the newest princess (Princess Kate), was photographed sunbathing topless at a Chateau in the South of France last week and the grainy photos have been published in magazines in at least 3 Euro countries.

The attractive and extremely popular young princess and her family are angry and trying to fight back and contain the damage caused by this invasion of privacy perpetrated from over a half mile away by a magazine photographer (reportedly from a French magazine!), on assignment.

How is this latest scandal an opportunity?  Well, my Brit friends and colleagues have been complaining for years that adopting the Euro as their currency would be a huge mistake for Great Britain and would saddle (or is that “straddle” Joe? 😉 ), their economy with the negative effects of unstable and careless Euro countries (Greece, France, etc.), who economies are tanking (and/or are on the edge of doing so).   Perhaps this Euro-scandal plus the promise of a better, more artful British currency will be enough to ensure (for good), that the powerful government and other forces pushing the UK toward the Euro never succeed and that Brits everywhere can always savor their beloved pound notes.   For those who love tradition (and art), I believe the choice is obvious.

The “New” Old Currency in England?

 

 

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European Vacation: A National Lampoon?

What’s with Europeans (even many former Europeans), taking the month of August off?  The entire month?!!!  How is this possible in the 24x7x365 global economy?

Maybe they’ve set up a scenario in which a “backup” employee covers their ongoing projects and keeps work moving – ummmmm, no.  No backup, no manager filling in, no efficient and pleasant intern… nothing.  Just an automated message with something about enjoying being “on holiday” and a desire to follow-up sometime in September (I’m assuming 2012).

“The Wedding” drove an extra 4 Million visitors and £2 Billion in tourism revenue

European economies in the toilet, sloth-like growth compared to China, massive debt and/or trade deficits everywhere, moving toward becoming tourism-based economies, etc.  A coincidence that these things are happening where entire countries take the month off?  Doesn’t seem like it.

But is there another side to this?  Of course there is.  We deserve real time off and if we want it during the brutally hot month of August, we should get it.  And what if a great euro-friend gets an awesome place for a month in an awesome European “holiday” spot AND invites you to come stay for a week?  You do it, that’s what!  And when you do, you notice how relaxed and happy they all are compared to Americans who are afraid to use all of 2 weeks vacation all year.

The wines and wineries of Provence, France are the world’s best

So, am I angry and puzzled about Europeans taking August off or just jealous and angry because I’ve never taken more than a week off at a time… ever?  What do you think? (61)

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Pennsylvania Reboot?

The Statue Was A Major Tourist Draw

With all the unpleasantness in State College, PA related to the details of the crimes and cover-up, trials, the firing, the statue downing, sanctions, appeals of sanctions (which could actually trigger the narrowly avoided college football “death penalty”), etc., it is easy overlook the potential economic impact of everything on the Pennsylvania economy.  Large numbers of visitors have flocked to central PA for college football in the Fall for generations and they often stay longer than just Saturday night and also return to PA to experience other fun attractions and activities.  They tell friends and before you know it, Pennsylvania tourism is a model that other states try to emulate.

But what about now?  What can draw visitors to PA each month in the post-Paterno era?  Locals are worried and angry but not short on ideas.  I’ve consulted experts in marketing, local tourism and Pennsylvania (as well as potential political candidates and other locals), and here is a sampling of their plans:

-Groundhog Saturdays in Punxatawney (Can anyone really get enough Phil?)

-“Pennsylvania Steagles” football games each weekend featuring surviving members of the original, legendary NFL Steagles and their children (and grandchildren)

Noxen, PA Rattlesnake Roundups* Each Week (*”Rattlesnake Roundup Now Safer ’cause They’re Tired!”)

Mauch Chunk, PA Bought Some Bones and Became Jim Thorpe, PA

-The town of Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe, PA will now have a weekly renaming ceremony and parade with the remains of the famous athlete serving as Grand Marshall on odd-numbered weekends. “We’d like to get JoePa up there with Big Jim at some point; statue or bones is cool with us.” said one football loving PA local.

Lebanon Bologna Drops at 11:59pm each Fri/Sat in addition to their legendary New Year’s Eve Bologna Drop.  The Lebanon Bologna companies already sponsor a Bologna Fest and can easily alternate in sponsoring a weekly “Bologna & Eggs Breakfast Social!” the next morning serving the previous night’s projectile (note: a 200+ pounder has been dropped in recent years).  This new weekly charity event is a natural for big time PA college football fans, because, who is more “full of bologna” they are.  Sure, it is a letdown from their catered tailgates with lobster, pierogies with gold flakes and filet mignon, but how better to reintegrate with the regular and average folk of Pennsylvania, than to share their peasant food and traditions?

Politician, Power Lawyer and Super-Nerd Dick Thornburgh

-Dick Thornburgh look-a-like contests in the state capitol of Harrisburg to both honor the former governor and US Attorney General but also to give some glory to Pennsylvania’s nerds and other bespectacled locals and visitors.

So, keep an eye out for these and other and great new PA promotions, let us know your ideas, and remember, “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania!” (35)

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