Monday, March 31, 2008

The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life

     I just finished reading a book called The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life by Pam Grout, and quite frankly, I have issues.  All in all I am totally for the premise, and I would love to take about 75% of the vacations in this book.  But there were a bunch of them that made me want to call shenanigans and get out my broom like I was on an episode of South Park or something.  So please allow me to talk about a few of the vacations with which I have issues, in no particular order.
     #95 Spend a Weekend Listening to Silence.  In this particular section, there are several different places listed where one can take a vacation in complete silence.  Apparently this is an excellent way to find oneself. "Some folks take silent retreats as a religious exercise or because they're contemplating a major life change.  Others do it simply to strip themselves of nonessentials, to find that oasis within themselves." writes Grout.  And that's all well and good.  I am all for that business.  But here is the thing.  Once I go on the silent vacation and engage in all that introspection, I think I am going to see that I really didn't need to fork over $575 for 7 days of communal meals and shutting up.   I am pretty sure I can do silence a lot more cheaply on my own.  You want a silent weekend?  Call your girlfriend fat on Friday afternoon then turn off your phone.  Because I guarantee that no one will be talking to you then.  And as such you won't have anyone to talk to.  And you will get to contemplate a possible major life change as you do such fun activities as sleep on the couch, order forgive me flowers, and watch as she watches Lifetime and cries.  It will be just as physically fun as waking up in a Catholic monastery at 3:15 am for prayers, and just as mentally fun as spending daily counselling sessions with a counsellor who is allowed to talk all day long while you cannot.
     # 26  Help Out on the Blackfeet Reservation. This particular vacation talks about a company called Global Volunteers that sets people up on vacations where they can spend their time bettering the worlds of people who aren't as well off, and one of the major places where they do their work is on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  Well, after looking at how much it costs, I am thinking about contacting Global Volunteers to see if they want to better my world, because anyone who can afford to pay $795 to help out on the Blackfeet Reservation or $2750 to teach English to kids in China (plus they have to pay their own way to wherever they are doing their work.  Fortunately, airfare to Montana is almost as much as airfare to China so everyone ends up paying the same amount roughly) has to be better off then I am.  Because that is way out of my budget.  WAY out of my budget.  And last time I checked, there was another company that offered the same opportunities.  It was called the Peace Corps and you don't have to pay a dime.  You know who else does that?  The National Guard.  And there you get paid AND you get to play with a gun.  So suck it Global Volunteers.  I am on to your little scam.
     #55 Give it the Old College Try.  Okay, I don't personally know Pam Grout, but I think she may be very confused.  Because in my experience, going to college and vacation are not synonyms.  In fact, they are pretty much completely different in every way.  Well, maybe except for the living in crappy accommodations, eating crappy food, spending a lot of money, drinking, and trying to get laid.  Okay, so maybe they aren't THAT different.  But going to class definitely is nothing like vacation.  I did it for four years and they actually give you work to do AT HOME.  Seriously, if you were standing on vacation, and you started digging a hole through the center of the Earth you would come out at homework, because being on vacation and paying to do work once you go home from work are as far apart as two things could ever possibly be.  Anyway, according to Pam-o these summer university for adults programs  allow one to "stay in the dorms, eat at the cafeterias, and use the gyms, swimming pools, and other facilities...and take advantage of all those bright minds you failed to fully appreciate when you were 18."   Okay, I paid for that once and had a blast, but I don't think that now I want to pay Cornell University $1535 to do it again.  No thanks.  And to all you suckers who do, joke is on you.  Because there aren't going to be any co-eds there during the summer.  All you will have to do is go to class and learn.  Wow does that suck.  Seriously, this book should be renamed The 99 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life and one Really Stupid Vacation You Can Take because #55 is not a vacation at all.  End of discussion.
     Now, despite the above examples, and a couple of more that I didn't feel like digging up, this is actually a really enlightening and interesting book.  Ms. Grout did an inspired job of finding unique and enriching trips with reputable companies and nonprofits.  And the options range from the "I could afford that if I picked up a couple of extra shifts at the BK this month" type to the "Maybe I could afford that if I skimmed eleventy billion dollars off the top of Enron last year" range.  But they are all cool and all interesting even if some are slightly misguided.  And honestly, if you can't find at least one vacation that interests you out of the four categories (Arts & Crafts Getaways, Volunteer Vacations, Brain Retreats, and Wellness Escapes) you should probably take that multi-colored pencil that you got as a prize from your Lucky Charms cereal last week and sharpen it and jab it in your eye, because you deserve to spend the first half of your vacation in a hospital emergency room, and the second half picking out eye patches and playing pirate.  So go get the book and read it, but you can skip the ones I talked about above.  Because I am calling shenanigans on them.  I am going to get my broom right now.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One More Thing

     Oh I forgot one more thing.  I am a strong believer that the song "Closing Time" by Semisonic should be played at last call or bar close in every bar in America.  It just seems so right and proper.  If I were running for public office, that would be a very subtle plank in my platform.  I think it would be wildly popular.  Especially among the vital "males age 25-40 who are in the band Semisonic" demographic.  Just think about it.

Closing Time and Guitar Hero

     Okay, seriously, we need to talk.  I am not much into the bar scene, but I went out last night with Sister to go to a birthday/going away/welcome back to town party (because we're cool and we multitask like that).  I was at a bar that I do not frequent, in a town I don't normally go out in, granted, but I have noticed this phenomenon at a lot of establishments.  Okay, I understand that being a bartender probably sucks, especially at the end of the night.  You've been dealing with drunken and stupid people all night long, you still have an hour of cleanup left to do, and it's at least 2 am.  I get it.  I work in the service industry.  People suck.  But seriously, when it's time to lock the doors, screaming angrily at your patrons is not only unacceptable, it's also futile.  First of all, these people have been pumping tens and twenties into your till and singles into your TIP CUP all night long dillweed.  Second, screaming at them is like screaming at a bear that has just woke up from hibernation to get it out of its cave.  It's been there for a long period of time, it's happy there, and it's all pissed off.  Listen, the people who are left at bar close are the people least likely to be happy about being yelled at.  All the people who are going home with someone have left for their frat house, nasty apartment, local public bathroom, or their 1992 Ford F-150 extended cab.  Maybe their Audi if you live in a city.  So the people that are left are going home alone.  One reason to be pissed off.  Second, they are most likely terribly drunk, and terribly drunk people like to do what?  That's right, fight.  So bar guy, you are probably closer to getting yourself clocked every night at closing time than you know.  And the girls won't clock you, they will kick you in the sack.  Plus, you know who else is still there as you are trying to clear out the bar?  The sober designated drivers who are trying to help you with your cause.  And believe me, nothing pisses off the person who is trying to help you with your agenda and who still has to make sure all these people get into the car and get  McDonald's or Perkins or Coney Island or George Webb or wherever and then get home without puking or killing themselves or getting arrested in the process like being screamed at because they haven't cleared the bar quickly enough.  Be glad that they are sober and patient and that you probably won't meet them alone in a dark alley later that night.  Because, truth be told, the easiest way to clear your bar is not to scream at everyone, but to use a patient, constant pressure mixed with victorian Australian sheep herding techniques to get everyone and their coats and purses moved towards the door.  Work with your DD's and just be nice and it will be so much effective.  And you won't get kicked in the crotch.  It's a win-win.
     Okay, now, a quick note for you drunk people who are hopefully getting herded like sheep out of the bar-listen up! If after the bar you go home or to an after party and Guitar Hero gets turned on, take a moment, peer intently through the haze in your mind, and heed this advice.  Please, please, please make wise song choices.  Playing "Thunderstruck" or "One" by Metallica on Super Duper mode is probably not a recipe for success.  Because you aren't going to succeed, it's not going to be fun, and the only person who is going to love your rendition is the person who loves watching you get booed off stage.  And maybe the deaf girl on the futon if you are at an after party.  Seriously, play something by a pop princess, or the first half of Green Day's "Brain Stew" on retard mode.  And hey, the second half is so muddled you can probably pass by just mashing buttons like when a person with fat fingers tries to play Madden.  And whatever you do, don't even attempt to do anything in career mode, because your career will be over faster than Vanilla Ice's.  (By the way, a couple of guys when I went out were doing karaoke and they sang Queen's "Under Pressure" which everyone thought was "Ice Ice Baby." And 90% of people were disappointed and confused when they found out it wasn't.  HAHAHAHA!  But then I realized that that was because most of them weren't alive when Queen came out with that song, and that made me feel sad and old and just a touch creepy.)  So go easy on the Guitar Hero and maybe play Mario Kart or Grand Theft Auto instead, because those will be much more successful endeavors for you and you will have a lot more fun.  Plus, who doesn't love a game where you get to run people down?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Welcome!

     Welcome to Big Dave and Company!  I decided that the world needs the opportunity to see and read and hear exactly what is going on inside of my head.  Not that I am anyone special, but I thought it might be entertaining for anyone who cares.  So let's take a minute to go over how this is going to work.
     I named my blog Big Dave and Company because within these posts you will find many references to many of the people in my life.  I will never use a last name, I will always use nicknames, which means that those who know me an mine will know who I am talking about.  That being said, I will try to never tell a story that belittles, embarrasses, or in any other way is mean to anyone.  But you will appear.  Another of the reasons that I named this blog Big Dave and Company is that from time to time those very same characters will make posts of their own.  In fact I hope they will, sort of like celebrity cameos.
     As Big Dave himself, I am going to make a very serious attempt to post something every day.  I intend to make it part of my daily computer routine, like checking my e-mail, surfing my favorite parts of the web, or messing around with my fantasy baseball team.  If I slip up and miss a day on occasion, please cut me some slack.  But if I get bad feel free to call me out on it.  I am not immune to criticism.
     Anyway, that's about it.  Real blogs are tentatively slated to begin tomorrow, but they may begin tonight if I feel like it.  I hope you enjoy what you read and I hope you come back time and time again to see what manages to spew out of my noggin.  Thanks.