2017 Christmas Letter

EXCITING CHRISTMAS LETTER ADMINISTRATIVE NEWS BREAK! I’m not allowed to hand out my Christmas letter to my UPS customers anymore. Allegedly someone called the center and complained about the 2016 letter, so now this document is purely an online publication. Happy Holidays!

I know that is pretty lame, but I’m not going to let it ruin my year in review. After considering a few novel approaches for this year’s summary, I decided to write about some random details of my life in extra detail- electron microscope detail. I could start off with my job (still at UPS) my family (we are plus one feline) or my water heater project (still working on it), but I really feel like those stories have been fully flushed out. So hold onto your hats for an in depth look into some rather inconsequential aspects of my life.

Speaking of hats– my UPS Elmer Fudd hat is missing. It looks just like my UPS baseball cap, but it comes lined with a furry material and the ear flaps fold down when it gets snot-freezing cold outside. I think I wore it one day in October, but now it is nowhere to be found. So now I’m faced with the moral dilemma of doing nothing and hope it magically appears in a random place in my house or ordering a new hat and admitting defeat. Anyone who has never lived with a six and seven year old might think the first approach is crazy, but that hat could be in a million unthinkable places in my house.

This spring I installed a new ceiling fan in our family room. Since we moved into the house seven years ago we have been slowly replacing fixtures from the random/cheap motif the previous owners seemed to have wholeheartedly embraced. We started with the low hanging fruit, and quickly agreed the fan on the vaulted ceiling was the crown peach of the project. OK, so my knowledge of fruit harvesting is a bit thin. I guess the fixtures in the bedrooms were the strawberries since they grow on the ground– you can’t get lower than that. But I’m digressing here. So I came home one day and noticed a fancy new box-o-fan on the front porch. Installing it was pretty straightforward. I followed the instructions and had it working in an afternoon. The only complaint I had– and I seem to see this a lot in my life– is that whoever wrote the instructions had never actually installed the fan. I could have cut the installation time in half by putting the entire fan together first and then lifting it to the ceiling as the last step. So I guess this speaks to instructions on instructions. I think the best approach is to assume the quality of the instructions is adequate at best and for a completely different type of product in the worst case.

In financial news, I’ve come up with a revolutionary device to help the general population save money for retirement– I call it the 401K LOTTERY! Half of the money taken in by traditional lotteries are given to individual states with the remaining assets divided up among the winners. The 401K LOTTERY! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name, as is it being all in caps.) is run by insanely large banks. Every time someone buys a ticket half of the money goes into their individual 401k and the rest goes to the pool for winning tickets. This method combines the excitement of winning wealth beyond your wildest dreams with the joy of realizing that every day you are becoming a less productive member of society and the only thing that will sustain a declining lifestyle is your meager savings until you eventually die.

Katherine and I played a fun game the other night after the kids went to bed. I would name a city and she would look up online how much it would cost to fly there and how long it would take. I guess it wasn’t so much of a game since there wasn’t a winner or an optimal strategy, but it was still an entertaining activity. The longest trip we found was to Madagascar which costs $3000 and takes the better part of two days. Perhaps your mind went in a different direction when you read “games” and “after the kids went to bed” but when we tried it while the kids were awake one or both of them would interject something along the lines of “BUT I DON’T WANT TO GO TO TOKOYO!” every time we would pick a new city.

This summer I ate lunch somewhere I have not been to in 18 years. It was a small steak house that isn’t too fancy named Wilma and Alberts. Travel directions: fly into Schipol Airport in the Netherlands, take the train west to Haarlem, and walk to the main square. It is right next to the church– you cant miss it. The only slight criticism I have is that it takes an entire day of international travel to get there. Also they don’t open for lunch until 11, so plan accordingly.

OK, I admit that our trip to Europe was a pretty “big” thing we did this year. But I would like to take a moment to explain why Holland is such a cool place. No, it isn’t the cold wet weather or the fast food herring-on-a-stick stands that are littered throughout the towns. It is actually easier to take public transportation than to own a car in Amsterdam. I could see more trains, busses, and trams from the front of our hotel than exist in the entire state of Colorado. While there are many socioeconomic forces at work that are beyond the scope of this letter to explain this disparity of public transportation, I firmly believe that the underlying root cause revolves around parking in Amsterdam. Back in the day when automobiles were making their debut in Europe, the only remaining open space in town was right next to the canals. I could just imagine citizens making a sizable financial investment in a new vehicle only to park slightly outside of the lines and see their pride and joy tumbling into an unpleasant mixture of water, sewage, and herring-on-a-stick litter. I believe this would have a largely negative effect on the car’s resale value.

So that about wraps things up for the year of details. I’ll leave things with a quote I read on the wall of the restaurant where we ate last night:

“At one point in your life you either have the thing you want or the reasons why you don’t.” — Andy Roddick.