Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top 10 Holidays that don't exist.

You've heard it from me before. Valentines Day is a non Holiday. Well, it's not the only one. There are tons. Columbus Day, Arbor Day, Mothers Day, St Patricks Day. Any holiday that doesn't give me a day off with pay is not a holiday, it's just a day with a name.

So these are Holidays that aren't officially on any calendar and yet get celebrated. Believe me, If I got a day off for Valentines day, I would be all over it. Ahh the heady feeling as you buy overpriced chocolates and roses. mmmmm...the sweet anticipation of obligatory affection. Wait a minute, I already went on way too long about that.

What ARE holidays however, are those 'personal' days that you get from your company. Every company is different, but on average, your sick/personal days are the ones you get every year that you will be paid for if you use them, but they evaporate at the end of the year if you don't. Of course you usually have to have some kind of excuse to take those days, or you don't have a lot of work on the hook. So you need a day off, but you don't have an illness, what do you do? The following are a list of holidays that are less known but could be more celebrated than real holidays.

10. Son of Hippocrates Day - Ferris Bueller's Day off. What a great movie. I loved it every time I saw it. It made a great study of calling sick into school. Not only did it give you a blueprint on the proper way of playing sick, it told you in no uncertain terms that these days were not to be WASTED. Well that was school, now you are at work. You look out of your window as the playful warm breeze wafts into your bedroom and realize that God simply does not want you to go lock yourself up in a cubicle today he want's you to enjoy the day...but how do you get there? you aren't really sick... your kids! nobody suspects or can verify wether or not your offspring are ill. It's the perfect ploy! You blame the kids and burn the day! Freedom at last. Used with infrequency, it is a nearly endless font of free day passes. Of course if your children are actually sick you use this day as well. The LAST thing anyone needs is their kids at home alone without supervision. Unless of course you enjoy seeing your Ice cream melted on the kitchen counter and several rather odd Pay-Per-View choices.

9. Frank Lloyd Wrightsmass - Any Home improvement will spur the use of a personal day. They are coming in to install cable/satellite. They always give you that 'we will be in some time after 8, but before 4:30 but not around noon, and only if we feel like it'. So you gotta burn a day doing it. Sprinklers, Gas Main, painting the house, we will take a day to do this. Here's the funny thing, if it's something like getting a new service, people aren't nearly as sympathetic on the day off thing as they are with say...a pipe bursting! The structural integrity of your house is at stake! Termites! Hole in the roof! All are good excuses and will warrant that precious personal day.

8. Feast of Moses...The Lawgiver - We civic minded people know that laws are there to protect us and our health. Were it not for laws we would descend into a morass of moral and physical wretchedness that could only be rivaled by illicit dancing. You Protestants know what I'm talking about. If, at some point, you run afowl of the local constabulary, you will be required to appear at court not sooner than 5 days and no later than 15 days from this day. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it's so you can have time to reflect and think about the shambles your life has become since your decision to lead a life of crime. 7 miles over indeed! You'll need a day to get to your local county seat in order to straighten out your situation and make your record white as driven snow once again. The other reason is Jury Duty. Some companies will actually give you separate and extra days if you are called for jury duty. so the hope is that you burn a day getting chosen and then on the day you are there, they dismiss the case. you are off the hook and you get a free day! EXCELLENT!

7. Weekend Eve - Who doesn't like the real holidays? Especially Thanks Giving. A lovely day between Halloween and Christmas that is a great family get together/fight holiday. Great except for that Friday that is. I gotta go BACK to work?! Who decided that Thursday was a good holiday day? Enter Weekend Eve. That Friday between the day off and the weekend. Nearly everyone takes this day, but Weekend Eve can be used any time you want to extend that holiday one more day. Thank you pagans for inventing weekend eve. Thank you. Because of you, I can stuff my fool face so full of turkey that I probably won't wake up until Sunday afternoon.

6. Florence Flatus Day - We've all had the problem where we were sick, but not sick enough to not go to work. But still, something just wasn't right. Was it that multi-grain 3 bean burrito with a side-car of liquid fiber? or was it that piece of leftover in the fridge that you really couldn't quite put your finger on. Whatever it was, the result is the same. More constant gas than the Alaska pipeline. They will be naming a candle fragrance after you...cranberry coverup. You want to go into work, but you know that you are in for a day of avoiding your co-workers and doing the one cheek sneak to the bathroom. You can go to work, but the truth is, once your office chair has reached it's saturation point, everyone in the office is in mortal peril. You should be given an extra day off, just for sparing your co-workers your particular scent.

5. Dead Spouse's Relative Day - no, no, no, I'm not talking about your mother in law actually dying. I'm talking about the believable excuse. The key to this excuse is the following 'Yeah, even though she was her great aunt, they were really close' Few people ever really talk about their spouses extended family. But If I did, that would be a WHOLE other blog. Just a sec, I gotta write that down...Anyway, nobody will question that you need a day off to assist your spouse in their grief. You only want to invoke this holiday if your company is not particularly compassionate. If they are, they will be sending flowers to a non existent funeral. Then the jigs up. This could be the kind of thing that gets you kicked off the party committee.
This day is also used when you have relatives that have invited you to their wedding and you are just close enough you are obligated to attend. That's when you hope you can get away with dropping by, eating some white sheet cake. Say congratulations to the older gentleman in the ill fitting suit and get out to enjoy the rest of the day.

4. Dudley Memorial Day - The weekend comes and you've got friends that are coming in from out of town. You know those friends. The ones that you stayed up all night playing the most intriguing drinking game you invented while watching Star Trek the Next Generation. Every time the Captain said 'ENGAGE' you took another shot, and a double shot whenever Worf said 'they have no honor' Ahhh those were the days. Well they are back in town and you will relive some old memories in a slightly older vessel. Come Sunday night you wish you had remembered the lessons learned in your youth. You are going to call in sick, but really, you'd rather not, but you will. The good news is, you will feel and sound more than sick enough to avoid a day of work. The bad news is, this illness you could have easily avoided by not drinking alcohol like some kind of cheeze eatin teenager.

3. St Chevy's Day - You've been planing this trip for the last 8 months. A cross country trip from wherever you live in Armpit USA to Wally World in sunny California, or Super Wally World in Orlando Florida. It will be a 10 day trip in all and you've invited your brother and his family along for the fun. It will be a trip that everyone will remember and likely hold grudges about for the rest of your life. When you get back from this 'holiday' you are an absolute idiot if you don't call in a sick day for the day after you get back. You have to have a day to recover from this kind of adventure. In the movies, people are indefatigable, in real life, you will be exhausted by around day 5 and probably dead by day 10.

2. The Festival of Lee Iacocca - The fresh plastic smell of a new car dashboard. The chemically protected smell of the upholstery. We all know that the bottle of 'new car smell' that you've been dousing your Dodge Dart in has never really smelled like a new car and the fact is you needed a new car when you realized that the ghost of what your dog ate still emanates from the heating vents where he left it. This will take a day, and in that day, you will feel rushed and taken advantage of in all the ways that matter. In the end you will have a new car that your dog will not get in for at least 2 months and probably your kids for 2 weeks. You will not personally eat food in this vehicle until the NEXT weekend. When you come back from the Lee Iacocca festival, you will show your co-workers the car you have started to make payments on. The temporary liscense plate marring an otherwise perfect visage of driving perfection. Yup you need at LEAST a day for this.

1. Oscar Appreciation Day - This doesn't count as an actual day off, this is when lunch goes long. More specifically lunch turns into a 2 hour movie. Those of you that are lucky enough to live close to a theater will know this holiday intimately. It is VERY easy to come up with 1-2 hour excuses that will cover up the fact that you want to see a movie that your spouse really would not be caught dead seeing, but that your like minded co-workers have been itching for an excuse to make a critical review. The great thing about a movie in the middle of work is it really breaks up the day nicely, it really flies by.

Thanks for reading! And special props for my consistent readers! Bill (thanks for the avatar!), Tracy (Scoops! you were there from near the start!), Dave H (DIO!!!!), Larissa (the swashbucklinest pirate ever landlocked), Shannon (I still don't understand slyrpycow), Mikey (remember that trip to Wally World? I wonder if dad took a day off afterwards...). If you are a consistent reader and I didn't mention you. THANKS! I appreciate it, I just don't know who you are. But I probably have a good Idea who you aren't.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Top 10 pieces of advice surrounding Valentines Day

Here it comes guys. Valentines day. yay. They should call it national girls day. Sure the girls will do the same kind of inane things for you, but the truth is Valentines is about nearly everything that men really don't like and women do. Obligation/Romance. Romance for men is a lot like looking at the menu of a fancy restaurant but then bringing a sack lunch for dinner. I will not embellish this metaphor any more because I want to keep my PG rating for this blog. As far as obligation goes, men for the most part have to be dragged kicking and screaming into ANY obligation. This being said, once a man is used to the aforementioned obligation, it's ok, it becomes a part of his overall obligation makeup. This is what makes Valentines day a very wrong holiday for men. The obligation comes without any personal involvement. At least with wife and family, obligations come with a personal note attached. After all, it's family that is the reason men go to work in the first place. If we weren't so gosh darn attached to our partners we would NEVER put ourselves in a position to have to work for 2 people, much less 2 people plus kids. But we get attached to kids too. Once we realize that we have a chance to dispense our wisdom to a group of people that will, for a short time, believe what we are saying and not think it's absolute crap, we think that it's a pretty good deal.

So this is how to make the best of Valentines day for men. This list is best used from the early dawn of the relationship and is by no means a workable plan for everyone. I really can't speak on behalf of women, though I often attempt to. I am reminded by my wife just how much I have no clue as to the inner workings of the female mind. While this may be true, I just can't help trying to attach a working model to what I believe to be factual. So ladies, If you don't want to get mad, don't read any further. If you are in the mood for a good hackle raising, read on McDuff.

10. Valentines day is for single people - In it's current format. Valentines day is really meant for Secret admirers and casually friendly people, not for married people. If you are going to try to make something of Valentines day. Try to do it thinking of yourself as a single person. Hard to do I know, but that's who it's built for. As such, it should really be taken advantage of when you are first looking to court someone. It works because the other person doesn't really expect or know that you have any feelings other than the occasional uncomfortable leer. Note: If you are predisposed to uncomfortable leering, don't bother with the Secret admirer bit, it won't work, they will already know and mock you mercilessly on the bus going to school the next day. especially if you really thought you were being clever.

9. Spend as little as possible - In every relationship beyond a few dates there emerges a points system. Men are blissfully unaware of this system until they are WAY into the game. I may spend another blog just on this point system because it is FAR too complex to fully develop in this writing. Suffice it to say. more points is better. less points is bad. The key is getting the most points for what you are doing. Valentines day is a designated point ceiling day. That is to say. The most points you can get on Valentines day will be muted by the fact that the day itself exists. For example. Say that when you give your wife flowers AND you are not in trouble with her, you get 10 points. On Valentines day, you will get only 5 points. This is because the day itself automatically subtracts 1/2 of the total point value because it's obligatory. The good news is that there is a minimum point value of 5 points for simply remembering the day with a goofy card and possibly a box of chockies (love the Brits way of putting it). If you want the most point bang for your buck, you need to save the money you would have spent on flowers in February and spend much less on something thoughtful, but cheap. You collect the 5 points for the day. yay. THEN in about 3 weeks when Valentines day is a distant memory, you spend the rest of the money you saved on flowers for a random occasion (once again, you must not already be in the dog house for this to work). The random non-occasion modifier will give you a 2 X multiplier effect on the flowers giving you 20 points. Since the flowers are much cheaper and of better quality after Valentines day, you will spend the same amount of money but really bank on the points. This works because of the 'its the thought that counts' principle. The flowers don't mean much by themselves, but the fact the you were thinking about sending them makes all the difference. Weird, I know.

8. Hey Big Spender! - If your partner works in a large office that has many witnesses, you can score HUGE points by doing the following. This tip flies in direct oposition to tip # 9 but can be done. Once again assuming you are not in any trouble. You splurge and buy the biggest bouquet of flowers they have and have them delivered to the workplace. My friend told me this strategy. He said 'the point is you want to make every OTHER woman in that office wish she had you as a husband and every other man in the office feel like a heel' An interesting strategy. But this strategy comes with risks. DO NOT cheap out on this because the strategy will fall to rule number 9 if you do not give the largest display in the office because everyone only remembers the biggest. There can only be 1 winner in this game. make sure it's you.

7. Valentines day is NOT your anniversary - Your anniversary is your private Valentines day and the actual real one. Valentines day is that shabby sham of a duplicate of your actual wedding day. Whatever efforts and moneys you expend in the pursuit of Valentines day. Make sure you spend twice as much or more for your anniversary. If you don't, you could be in for real trouble. This of course should be modified by relative proximity in the year to your actual anniversary. If your wedding day was some time in say July, then you don't have to worry THAT much. If on the other hand, your nuptuals were sealed say in March, the receipt from Valentines day is probably still in your wallet and you need to make sure you've got things taken care of.

6. Get married ON Valentines day - DOH!!!! Why didn't I think of this when we got married?! Those lucky stiffs that get married on Valentines day get so many benefits it boggles the mind. The media and market place remind you every year of your anniversary making it nearly impossible to forget. Things are pre-built for you to give to your partner. You NEVER actually have to celebrate Valentines day. That is pure genius. If I could only go back in time...

5. Sporting events do not equal Valentines day gifts - I said this list was for the guys. If you are a girl then yes Sporting events DO equal valentines day gifts. What better way of saying. I am uncomfortable doing this and it's painful at best, but I will do it for YOU because I know YOU love it. Turned around though, Unless you are married to a rare flower that actually enjoys sports as much or more than you do, you need to really think this one through. A sports bar before the game is NOT dinner. Going to the game is NOT romantic. Grabbing her as she nearly falls down the stadium steps is NOT an amorous embrace. Just stay away from this. I've always said gifts are for the giver, but in this case, they are definitely not for the receiver.

4. 'I really don't want anything for Valentines day' is a DAMNED LIE - Nearly every guy will have the opportunity to fall for this one at least once in their life. This needs to be translated for the slow witted sex of our species (I learned this from multiple TV commercials. we are surprisingly stupid). This phrase when slowed down and played through special computers says 'I don't want anything for Valentines day, I want something for ME'. This just means they don't like schlocky crap that they sell only for Valentines day. It will take a little more thought to get something understated and yet gets you through the day. If you give her a wet/dry shopvac with a post-it note on it that says H.V.D. with a smiley face and 2 to 5 hearts drawn on it. You will get what you deserve and I hope you and the shopvac are very happy together.

3. Diamonds? are you @#%! out of your &!^*# mind?! - a gift is a gift, but really Jewelry for Valentines day? I know they Jewelery folks are really trying hard to get you a great DEAL on these rocks, but seriously, the bang for the buck on this purchase is so low that you will look at those diamonds every time she wears them and think. I would be watching the big game on those diamonds. Just remember. there is a ceiling on points you will get for any gift and while you are sure to hit that ceiling, you will NOT in any way get your moneys worth. This being said. Large purchases MAY be able to get you out of trouble assuming you have come clean with whatever you have done. If you haven't come clean, your spouse may suspect that you are paying for a sin much larger than she had originally estimated and will remain suspicious. You don't want this at all. The other problem is. Big Jewelry purchases may end up serving to remind your wife of what a putz you can be sometimes and the event that triggered this purchase. Really, there aren't too many ways to win on this one. Save the Jewelry for the anniversary.

2. Vacation time!!! - If you have the time and the funds. Go on vacation. Then you can just wake up in a lovely hotel room and eat some room service and while away the day. You should take a vacation anyway and February is the perfect time to do it because it's still probably cold where you are, it's off season in most vacation destinations and you will both enjoy this event. If you can make it a tradition that every year you have a valentines day vacation so much the better. Whatever you do, DON'T put yourself in the trap of buying your wife a valentines present while on valentines vacation. You have just defeated your whole purpose. The point is being together NOT some crappy card with a sad kitten on it. I don't have any vacation yet this year, so it looks like crappy kitten card time for me :(.

1. Anything is better than NOTHING - If the day falls and you find yourself with nothing to give. Make ANY excuse and either buy or better yet make something to give. If you have put yourself in the situation that we all find ourselves in where one person has remembered and the other hasn't. We all know that there really is no recovering from it, you just have to take your lumps and move on. Remember Valentines day is a war of thoughtfulness and the weapons are cards, flowers, chocolates, and some other stuff *wink wink*. If you are not prepared for V-day. You will go down in infamy. This is what I suggest. I learned this from women and it works. You know how we are always amazed at the propensity of the female for remembering even the smallest anniversary event? It's a flim-flam, and you've been had. They buy a few instant gifts and well meaning cards WELL in advance and when they are caught with their skirts around their knees, they just whip out one of these little life savers and save face as well as the day. So go now and find something that you think will be appropriate and then get the 2nd place item (as long as it's not perishable) and store that away in the garage and that way, when you are caught unawares, you'll at least have a last line of defense.

Ladies, I don't mean to make you sound shallow, It's really the menfolk that are, but of course you already knew that. But if we don't have a plan, then we plan to fail and clearly nobody wants that.