Monday, April 20, 2015

10 Vacations

Vacation.  Just the word sparks the imagination of what you can do with all of your free time.  In business parlance it's called PTO or Personal Time Off.  Whatever it is, it's not working, or shouldn't be.  With any luck you have not arranged yourself into such a unique position that you can not leave without the company calling you constantly.  Here are all the vacations you will take.  Actually some of them are not vacations, but they are days where you aren't working.

- Theme park - Thanks to Walt Disney and his obsession with trains, Disneyland transformed what was previously seedy carnival parks with rides that mostly didn't kill you into theme parks with rides that mostly didn't kill you.  Sure there were theme parks before Disney, but Disney made them a household name.  After some years of refinement, Disney and parks like it are vacation destinations.  The young and young at heart find these destinations terrific and once in a lifetime experiences.  Be careful.  Theme park vacationing will often leave you with a feeling of having been on vacation for weeks and not at all relaxed.  You are burning through cash and calories walking and standing in line making memories.

- Camping - There are two types of people that choose camping as a vacation.  People that love the great outdoors and cheap people.  Very cost effective if you are actually camping.  Kind of spendy if you are camping in a hotel on wheels (Trailer).  When you have a home to go back to, they call it camping.  When you don't, they call it survival.  I'm not a big fan of camping myself.  A normal time spent camping usually has at least a minor burn as well as several bruises.  It seems you have to prepare to camp, then there is the camping, then there is the post camping clean up.  It seems a lot of trouble for the simple life.

- Not working - Having no work or being unemployed is only a vacation when you know what your next employ will be.  Before that, it's more of a strange feeling of displacement.  There you are at home, but you have no enjoyment of not working.  Once you have a job, it is usual that you will be working at some time in the future.  That time between acceptance and your first day on the job is a real VACATION.  You can enjoy the time and get your energy stored for the new job.  Better enjoy it because you won't have paid vacation for a while at your new job.  This also applies for taking comp time for overtime worked.  If you are working overtime and not taking comp time you are doing yourself and your company a disservice.

- Road trip - Everyone knows that a vacation requires you to go somewhere else to see something you've never seen.  The inescapable part of this is the road trip.  Unless of course you can fly there and have the money to do so.  So you hit the road.  One of the great movies on the subject is National Lampoon's Vacation.  A real unexpected diamond, it's full of obvious humor and funny scenes.  Often the road trip is the most memorable of vacations, not for the great times, but for the horrible things that happen.  The bad food, the flat tires, the lost keys, the detours, all of them turn into dear memories.  In my own mind, I often separate the road trip from the rest of the vacation.

- Staycation - Did I say camping was cheap?  Well the Staycation can be even cheaper.  You know what they say about great tourist locales.  They are visited by everyone except the people that live there.  Well the staycation endeavors to remedy that.  You stay at home and visit all of the touristy places that are around your own home.  It's only cheap because the hotel happens to be your home.  Whomever the house work person is will feel the least like it's a vacation, but otherwise, it's something to do that isn't the norm.

- Cruise - In my opinion, the cruise is the best possible vacation you can have.  Your hotel floats with you and you visit cities on the coast of the area you are cruising.  Yes, a cruise is expensive, but most of the time, the expense is more than worth the treatment and the memories.  The room (which you will rarely see) is of course covered.  The Food is covered.  The soft drinks are usually covered.  The entertainment is covered.  It's everything rolled up into one.  There are people there to do everything for you so the only thing you really worry about is relaxing and how soon you can take another one.   This of course changes if you are prone to seasickness.  If you are, make sure you are on a large boat, they don't rock as much.

- Death in the Family - Also not a vacation really, but it requires time off.  It's a family tragedy that requires you to take time off of work.  You will probably cancel your vacation as well as be caught offguard when you get back to work.  It's not a vacation by definition, but it is time off that your job assumes you took vacation.  If the death is close enough in your family, your employer will likely have some kind of bereavement plan that doesn't cut into your vacation time.  Small consolation really if the death is that close.

- Tournament/Convention - I put these together because there is a lot of crossover.  Sport tournaments or events often have the same kind of atmosphere as public conventions like ComicCon or CES.  It's kind of like a theme park without the rides.  You'll hang around with a lot of like minded people and look and do many of the same things.  Where tournaments are concerned, you hope your vacation lasts all week because that means you made it to the finals.  Conventions on the other hand often wrap up early for individuals.  What they both have in common is that they are time sensitive.  You can't put off this vacation for another week.  If you miss it, you won't be taking the time off.  Once you've seen it all, you're done.

- Museum - A specific destination, the Smithsonian comes to mind.  It's the Disneyland of museums.  But there are many more.  They are rarely city specific in that they don't really speak to the city they are in, but they are special draws of tourists to that city.  The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was one of my favorites.  It takes at least a day to see it and it's great.  There are many other museums around the country that are worth seeing.  Either a part of a road trip or a staycation, the Museum can become a vacation by itself.

- Adventure - You are going somewhere, but you have no plan.  No place specifically to stay, and no real direction.  You
know in a vague way that you are going to go somewhere, but you don't know how long it will take, how much it will cost, or what will really be there.  The most well known adventure vacation is the backpack through Europe.  The trains are good and fairly easy to read.  Any more you will probably get together with other groups that are doing the same thing.  Other adventures start with you going somewhere and just staying there for a while.  You get a local taste of the culture and make local friends.  This outgoing vacation is for people that aren't afraid of meeting the unknown and shaking it's hand.  When the unknown comes to my door, I usually hide behind the funiture and hope the unknown will think i'm not home and move on.  The younger you are and the less attached you are, the more likely an adventure is for you.

Well, it's vacation time again.  I have a bonus picture I couldn't quite place.  It's very important that you understand it's message.

Go and enjoy.

Friday, April 3, 2015

10 Windmill Tilters

It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  Don Quixote was the embodiment of the little guy trying against the inevitable and hence the phrase tilting at windmills.  This little phrase from the New Testament represents mans ineffective struggles against some things.  Hard to realize the value of a truth that you refuse to recognize.  These people are a lot more common than you realize.  They struggle and struggle against things that are just too big to fight.  The proverbial Davids against the worlds Goliaths except they lose and Goliath runs around doing a legendary victory dance because he was so big.

- I'm never shopping at Walmart - There are a few of these people that proudly proclaim that they don't shop at Walmart.  This lone voice in an overwhelming wilderness ends up being drowned out by the sound of people stepping into the store to cash in on their every day low prices.  Is Walmart a giant corporation devoid of conscience and willing to kill any mom and pop shop that stands in their way?  Probably.  On the other hand, I've never been that thrilled with the mom and pop shop.  Really, you go in and they don't have much to offer.  Higher prices, smaller selection, and usually someone running you out of the store if you don't buy something.  Go into Walmart and you can loiter around pretty much all day as long as you don't cause trouble.  By trouble I mean try to organize a union,  apparently they aren't too keen on that.

- I'm not Giving Disney 1 more dime - Disney has successfully positioned themselves to sell entertainment and merchandise to children from birth till they decide they are old enough to not like Disney's merchandise.  That average age is around 82.  They will start telling stories about how evil Disney is as a corporation (you know because a company's main objective is to make money and they are really good at doing that and if you are good at doing that, then you must be evil).  They will then tell you some story about how they were accosted by Disney goons after making a scene at the Carnation Pavilion, something about real animal fur being used for B'rer Fox's outfit.  So you spend the rest of your vacation days over at Universal Studios.  Good for you.

- Taxes?!  No WAY! - The non tax payer is a peculiar group.  Government as it is, is an automated sleeping giant.  It takes them a long time to notice anything that doesn't directly threaten them.  If you don't pay your taxes, you will start to be harangued by the IRS until you pay.  They do this by applying service fees and interest that is many times the amount of the taxes you owe.  They have the right to freeze your bank accounts until they get what they think is theirs.  They can garnishee your wages until you are paid up.  So the no taxes people work jobs that get paid in cash and they don't use banks.  They thumb their noses at the Should be Illegal IRS.  I'm with them in spirit.  Our government spends WAY WAY WAY too much money.  Unfortunately if you start letting people get away with not paying their taxes then pretty soon nobody will and then what do you have?  Well, whatever you have it's probably no good.  That's what they've told us.

- Libertarians - Poor Libertarians.  They like and don't like either political party very much.  They stand for an independent mode of thought. They thumb their collective noses at both political parties and proudly proclaim ownership of the TRUE spirit upon which this country was founded.  Freedom First!  Open Government, Open Elections!  Among the many phrases uttered by the Libertarian.  They claim the fastest growth of any political party anywhere!  This is where it becomes important to see that percentages for point in time numbers can be particularly misleading.  Honestly unless both other candidates are convicted felons, there is a small chance that the Libertarian candidate will be elected.  People don't like them.  They just don't fit in with the rest of the red and blue sheep.  I stand with them.  I agree with their political philosophy.  I find both the Red and the Blue to be so completely self righteous and misguided that neither of them are good for this country.  Kick.  Kick.

- Well I'll show them...-  The generic catch all of the disgruntled customer against brand X whatever it is.  This really isn't kicking though unless you actually do something about it.  Say you are still getting a bill from the Columbia record house music club for that 1985 Scritti Politti album you forgot to mail in the bill for and you now have a dark mark on your credit history (STILL).  They have you dead to rights since your little brother melted that vinyl album you didn't want in the microwave before you could send it back.  So you send them their money on a postdated check in that prepaid envelope.  The final kick is you glue that envelope to a cinder block so they will have to pay at least as much as you owe in the postage.  That'l show them!

- I'm off the grid! - The self sufficiency/minimalist group or the apocalypse group.  These folks are great with their dread locks and hacky sacks or alternatively their guns and their end of days.  Living on some plot of near worthless land in their tinyhouse, or in their bunker they dug out of their basement.  They generate their own electricity with a windmill and a solar panel or two.  They hook up a bicycle to a series of high storage batteries and carry their potty out to the 'pit' every so often.  These hippies live the simple life which of course means anything but.  There are elements of it that are appealing in the short term.  The whole minimalist attitude and getting by with what you need not what you want thing I think is probably a refreshing change from time to time.  The end of days folks are constantly preparing for and less than secretly hoping for the end of days which is code for electricity turns off and world governments are a shambles.  As a life style, it seems you spend more time avoiding the conveniences of life and showers than you spend actually enjoying life.

- We aren't watching TV/Internet - I'm not talking about cable cutters.  That trend appears to be succeeding over time.  I'm talking about the folks in the 70's and 80's that claim they didn't watch TV.  'Not in MY home!!!'  Their kids were always weird with a capital W.  Social misfits at best.  The analog to those people are the 'NO INTERNET IN MY HOUSE' people. Same idea.  They don't want to be connected.  They may have more reason than their Mennonite for bearers since the internet is now all about information gathering.  Some people are tired of the Internet or 'the beast' as they lovingly refer to it, knowing about their every move and desire.  And yet the terrific opportunities for everything that comes from the internet appears to outweigh the inconvenience of no privacy for most of us.  But they will proudly proclaim their ignorance to the Internet among other people gladly chatting with each other about the latest cat video.

- I refuse to work overtime - I try to be among these people.  There is an interesting trend in America that has gone on for decades that was started in the Protestant work ethic.  The idea is that if a company has hired you, you are their indentured servant for all of your time.  They own you and you should be glad to work and work and work.  It's bad company behavior like this that inspires unions to be created.  Yet there are many that will gladly give up their own time in order to make the company more money and keep a few more people unemployed.  I understand the point of giving good value for your employment.  On the other hand, handing away money (oops I mean time) for free to your employer doesn't serve anyone.  So I try to not work overtime (for free).  Of course there are the cases where I am compelled.  The competition for employment gives you the idea that you should show your company that you are a servant worthy of their hire.  Of course any company will gladly let you work yourself into an early grave, that's just fine by them, and when it comes time for layoffs, they will look at the person that doesn't work overtime and push them off the sinking ship first.  That's fine.  Being in a company that's on the ropes or has over extended themselves is no fun anyway.  They are probably doing you a favor.  Kick.  Kick.

- I'm going on a diet - This kick is against your own body.  Your body has told you time and again, It LIKES fats and sugars and salts and it DOES NOT like exercise.  It's not at all subtle about this message.  Every time you get up from your plate of rice cakes and carrots, it crys out for a round of frito's and chocodiles.  Every time you get up to exercise it begs you to go to bed instead.  For most of us, the dedication of healthy lifestyle can usually be summed up by vanity.  If your vanity is big enough you will continue to be healthy because for you health is a competition.  For the rest of us, it's an eventual losing battle.

- I am fighting this traffic ticket!!! - There you are going down the road just humming along.  You notice a speed limit sign and you wonder if it applies to you.  Then you see the gumball machine.  The local constabulary has decided to unfairly target you for going over the speed limit by 8 miles.  You are indignant!  you were going 10 over and he cut it down to 8, why couldn't he just let you off??  Well you won't stand for this!!!  You are going to fight this ticket.  In fact, you are going to follow this police man and make sure he stands up to all of the laws laid out in the traffic code!  You are going to be a modern day punisher execpt you don't kill peopl (comic book reference, sorry, look it up).  Then you pay the ticket.  But your intentions were right there.

Sure this blog was late and kind of wandered around, but hey, at least it's here right?  I didn't want to publish it on the 1st of april because it wasn't a joke.  Enjoy your spring.  maybe i'll be back in a couple of weeks or so.  Who knows?!?