Monday, October 28, 2013


VACATION – one of my favorite words in any language.
We enjoy going on vacation quite a bit.  In fact, we try to make it happen more than once every year.  We do however make it a point to go on vacation by ourselves only. 
Our friends used to ask us to go on vacation with them or they wanted to come along with us.  We always politely refused their requests.  They got the message and now they don’t even bring up the subject of travelling with us.
I know there are many advantages to going on vacation with friends.  It’ll be a lot of fun with more people than just the two of us.  I believe the phrase is – “The more the merrier” right?  Yeah well, we still prefer to go by ourselves.
Here is my reasoning:
When we travel, we do not adhere to a pre-planned schedule while on vacation. Not every hour of every day is planned out and we don’t follow a strict schedule.   If we plan to leave the hotel at 8am to start our fun filled day, but we decided that morning that we are not in the mood to leave so early, then we will wait and relax in the hotel until we are ready to leave (whatever time that may be). Can’t do that if you’re travelling in a group.
When travelling somewhere people have different interests in what they want to see and experience and for how long.  If we go someplace and we absolutely love it there, then we will spend extra time there.  On the flip side, if we don’t like where we’re at then we will cut the trip short. Again, this may not be doable when travelling as a group.
Another issue could be the hotel and where to stay at while on vacation.  When we travel by ourselves, we can stay at any hotel that we like and not wait for the approval of our accompanying friends.  We may not like the hotel they prefer and vice versa. The same holds true for restaurants and the type of food that we want to eat while travelling.  Mexican or Italian or Chinese – no problem for us. Hey, once in a while we might not even want to go out for dinner.  Just order some room service and have an extra glass of merlot.
The bottom line is that when you travel with a lot of people you lose some flexibility.  That is a key ingredient for us while on vacation…because after all it is a VACATION right?  And you are planning on having a good time.  Without flexibility our vacation becomes less fun.
Don’t even get me started on the whole privacy thing when travelling with others. Is it really a good time when you have no privacy while on vacation? Now instead of just the two of you travelling, you have 4 other couples in tow with you.  Again, I’m sure this works for some people (and that is totally fine)…but we do place a premium on that.
Is it really a good time when you have 10 people trying to figure out what to do for dinner every night?  Of course there are always leaders and followers and stand firm decision makers…but at the end of the trip there will be 9 complainers.  Sometimes it’s already hard enough making TWO people come to an agreement on what to do, where to go, what to see, and where to eat.  Now when you add other people (albeit close friends) to the mix – forgetabout it!  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Many people hanging out together for waaayyy too long will surely put a strain on your relationship.
Hmmm, I do have some “friends” that I don’t want to be friendly with anymore. Maybe I will go on vacation with them so that I never have to see them again.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wedding Crashers

No…this is not a review of the Owen Wilson / Vince Vaughn movie that came out in 2005 with the same title.  I am talking about real life people who actually attend weddings uninvited (aka wedding crashers). 
There are two types of wedding crashers.
Type 1 - Invited guests who bring along a few extra people with them to a wedding.  Those few extra guests are not on the guest list and were not mentioned during the RSVP head count.  They are just last minute people who showed up unexpected and uninvited to the wedding.
Your “know it all” uncle is in town and staying at your place boring you with his knowledge of politics.  You have to attend a wedding and when you mention it to him, his response is “I love weddings.” Shaking your head in disbelief, you know what you have to do.  Congratulations you are now bringing along a wedding crasher – type 1.
I guess a single wedding crasher (or two) is ok if 500 people are going to attend the wedding/reception with no specific seating arrangements at the event.  However nowadays it’s not ok, as every wedding detail is accounted for (including seating arrangements). At the reception, cocktails are followed by dinner and dinner tables have seating arrangements with name tags at each table (yep - this is the norm over here nowadays).  Congratulations once again – you have now put the host in a difficult situation.  Where would they seat these “extra guests” who are really guests of the invited guests?
Type 2 – The more interesting type (bold and daring).   Complete strangers who show up uninvited to a wedding/reception.  They are there only for the free alcohol and hors d'oeuvres.  They won’t stay for dinner because they know they don’t have a reserved name tag.  The will however drink alcohol and munch on some goodies and then leave.  If this happens to be a reception that has no specified seating arrangement, then you can bet your bottom dollar that they are staying for dinner and beyond.
Type 2 Wedding Crashers don’t come alone.  If they come alone then they won’t have anyone to talk to and they will stand out in a crowd.  So they usually come in pairs - two guys or two girls.  Sometimes even two couples (four people).  During the entire cocktail hour, they will just talk amongst themselves and no one will suspect anything. The bride’s side will think they are part of the groom’s side. And, vice versa.
These wedding crashers are always well dressed.  Excellent conversationalists.  Never get drunk. Never create trouble.  I actually met a guy who does this frequently.  He told me he gets a kick out of doing this.  Total thrill ride for him in his own mind.  He told me that if he gets caught, the maximum penalty that he has ever faced is that the host will politely ask him to leave. And, he will leave without causing a scene.
He also said that sometimes it’s not just the wedding or reception that he is interested in.  When he has to travel, he likes staying at nice hotels for a really low rate.  How does he do this?  Well…
Wedding Receptions are held in very nice hotels.  The host usually blocks out a number of rooms in bulk for their out of town guests at a deeply discounted rate.  Out of town guests make their reservations through “event booking” and then pay for the room at a discount.
So the wedding crasher just finds a hotel, enters a date, and searches for a block of rooms associated with a wedding and then makes a reservation. Hotels don’t know and don’t care because it’s better to sell a room than it going empty (even at a discounted rate). The only problem is if invited guests can’t reserve a room because the entire block is taken already.  Then the host can ask for the names of the people who booked under their blocked reservation.  If they find an unfamiliar name, they can inform the hotel and the hotel will cancel the reservation.
Pretty clever…in a twisted sort of way.
So now I ask you…
Q1 – Have you ever been a wedding crasher?
Q2 – Do you know a wedding crasher?
Q3 – Have you ever taken with you an uninvited guest to a wedding/reception? May be even in an unavoidable circumstance.
Q4 – Would you want to (but will not) experience being the wedding crasher Type 2?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

College Major

Universities have opened for Fall Semester.  Since I have nothing to do, I was looking at the “majors” offered at a few universities.  I was surprised to find strange majors.  Here are a few examples:
Winemaking – Cornell University
Golf Course Management – Ferris State University, Michigan
Bakery Science (how to operate a bakery) – Kansas State University
I just remembered I wrote a post 3 years ago about college majors.  I am re-posting here:
                                                                   (Courtesy: Yahoo)
Many readers of this blog have already completed their education and have started their career. But if any young student ask for advice, they can give something along the following lines.
They should not select a major in any subject that involves dealing with real facts. These include math, chemistry, physics or biology.
Let us say you choose math as a major. The professor may ask the following question: A goat is tied to the outside corner of 4 yards by 4 yards pen on a 16 yard leash. How many square yards of grass can he eat? If you do not come up with an answer that the professor has in his/her mind, he/she will flunk you.
Same goes for chemistry major. Calculate the pH of the solution that results from mixing the following four aqueous solutions together. You don’t come with a correct answer you fail.
Same is true for physics or biology major and subjects like that.
My advice is to select a major in subjects like English, psychology, philosophy or sociology. These are the subjects no one understands what others are talking about and there are no real facts.
Take for example Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. If you have to write an essay on Pip, you can write about Process Industry Practices. The professor who reads hundreds of similar boring papers on Pip will think you are very different and creative. He will also view you as an “out of the box” thinker.
It is easy to major in philosophy. All you have to do is sit in a room and do nothing all day. Wear a t-shirt that says “Sh*t Happens” and take some drugs like MDMA.
It is easy to major in psychology also. In later years, when you become a psychologist, all you have to say is only one sentence. For example:
Patient: I hate my mother
Psychologist: Thank you for sharing that with me
Patient: I am depressed
Psychologist: Thank you for sharing that with me
Patient: I want to kill you, you fat slob
Psychologist: Thank you for sharing that with me
Finally, seriously, nowadays they don’t want any “expert” as a CEO. The multi national corporations are looking for liberal arts majors to be their leaders. (I am talking about U.S. companies only.) They are considered “out of the box” thinkers and having leadership qualities. They will be supervising the “experts”.