Friday, June 17, 2016

Kevin Love Hasn't Failed Cleveland, Cleveland is Failing Kevin Love

Dear Selective Cavs Fans,

I’m a married, suburb-living, finance professional mother of two.  I’m not, nor was I ever, a professional basketball player.  I have not devoted my life to sports journalism. 

I might not be able to tell an illegal screen from a pick and roll, but my high school statistician days taught me the importance of assists, rebounds, blocks and steals.  And while I will never understand the need for a professional “flop”, I do recognize that getting a “traveling” call in the NBA is about as elusive as a Sasquatch siting. And I am a Kevin Love fan.  Not Banana Republic’s Kevin Love (though he looks sweet), but the Cavalier’s starting lineup Kevin Love.

My friends know I’m a Love fan.  I do not require my friends to be Love fans.  My co-workers, casual acquaintances, third-cousin twice removed and the dude that was in the parking lot that one day know I am a Love fan.  I have never required reciprocal adoration.

(And okay, I may have shared a tasteful semi-nude Sports Illustrated photo on my Facebook page. But damnit, he worked hard for that body.)

This week, though – a week I want desperately to be celebrating – I cannot shake the feeling that my kid is being bullied.  And not by the loser that everyone decides to ignore because they will never amount to anything.  But by some of the people that should care about his success the most.  People that claim to be “All In”. 

And before you go saying I’m just some overprotective helicopter mom, throwing the b-word around, get ahold of yourself.  It’s a metaphor. 

He’s had bad games.  He’s fallen.  And as a man, I’m sure a little tough love from teammates and coaches does him some good. It’s okay to acknowledge poor performance. I cannot begin to know what motivates him.  Because I have never actually met him before in my life.  The closest I have been is five rows behind the bench – potentially violating my restraining order. 

But here’s what I know about humans.  No matter how hard we try to ignore criticism.  No matter how many times we say we “don’t read the comment section”. It creeps in.  If you say it doesn’t, you’re a liar.

So here’s another metaphor for you.
All year you’ve been there – putting in the time, adding value to the project.  Switching it up between taking chances and playing it safe.  Covering for your colleagues if they need to work through some stuff.  And maybe you had to call in sick a few times.  But then you made up for it by working extra hard and coming alive in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Championship with 12 rebounds and 20 points (hypothetical example).

And then.  THEN.  In your end-of-year performance review, which happens to coincide just before the day of the biggest presentation of your life, the consultants came in and got to rate you.  You know.  The Bobs. The guys that don't see anything but the most recent bar graph and pie chart. And the only thing they noticed was that you called in sick a couple times.  And because you work with at least two of the most amazing people in your industry, not to mention a few other equally hard-working people that covered for you while you were struggling, you are told that you no longer meet expectations.  In fact, they're not sure there is even room for you on the project. 

You know what you would say?  You would say, “Suck it, Bobs!”  And you would be right.  Because that is horseshit. 

You know what Love is saying?  Nothing. He’s accepting your horseshit because he knows that even if we win.  Even if we blow them out of the water.  If he doesn’t play the best god damn game of his life (maybe even if he does), it won’t be good enough for you. That’s where you…you awesome Cavs “fans”…you know who you are…you start Go Fund Me campaigns, rip apart hype paraphernalia, and show up with your hilarious trash cans…that’s where you have failed him.

Mrs. Love
(Kevin’s Mother)
P.S. I’m not really Kevin’s mom. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Swigart Sisters Family Reunion (edited and formatted to fit in the time allowed)

Glossary of Terms
The Aunties – Four grown women of a certain age with tendencies towards unsolicited tears, random acts of hugging, washing dishes, and being irritated with their husbands for things they can’t possibly control.
The Uncles – Equivalent of worker bees.  All suffering from hearing loss or at least pretending.  Take direction from The Aunties while drinking Manhattans.  Actually expected to read Aunties’ minds, despite many years of not being able to do so.
The Cousins – Next generation that hold striking resemblances to The Aunties.  Affinity for rolling their eyes and mocking other family members.  Sometimes show symptoms of PTSD. 
The Grandkids – Children of the Cousins.  All beautiful angels.  They never scream, fight, whine or ask you to wipe their butts.  Of course when they do, The Cousins just direct them to the nearest grandpa (see The Uncles).
The Others – Anyone forced to be within a one mile radius of our family either by marriage, common law, or a strong arm.  Extra points if one of The Grandkids dragged you there (shout out to Brian).
The Compound – 3.5 acre Kirschner estate.  AKA The Propity.  Slightly reminiscent of a European youth hostel. Includes 2 luxurious campers on premises.  Reunion home to 2 sets of Aunties/Uncles, 6 cousins, 2 Others, and 12 Grandchildren
Camp David – small retreat a short drive from The Compound. Reunion home to 2 sets of Aunties/Uncles.  Amenities include the neighbor’s pool, but no smokehouse.
Sausage – Almost always refers to the ground meat pushed into an intestinal casing with secret recipe spices and smoked to perfection.  But sometimes referring to male genitalia.
Vulva – Ask Daniel.
Manhattan – Pre-mixed by Uncle Mike and poured into former juice containers.  Not to be confused with actual juice!  If swallowed by a minor, call poison control.

Special Instructions
If you need someone’s help and can’t think of their name, just shout Charlie and/or Ann. Odds are at least a half dozen people will show up.

One week prior to hosting:

Uncle Mark decides to put an addition on the house.  Okay, so the addition started over a year ago.  Wait. Two years ago?  It’s not finished.  Let’s just leave it at that.  In a last ditch effort to have something to show for his retirement, he adds a peach bathroom to the basement.  It leaks. 

(“Clark, I can picture it in my mind and it looks BEAUTIFUL.”)

Thursday (which I still consider prior to reunion, because I am not involved yet):

Kansas contingent arrives.  Lorain County immediately sells out of Shiner Bock.


Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina represent.

After dinner, there are what we are politely referring to as “ghost stories” from The Grandchildren around the campfire, but might be more accurately described as an extensive series of run on sentences with no discernable plot (or end, for that matter).  The Cousins whisper about anything The Aunties and Uncles have already done that would qualify them to be sent to early onset “assisted living.”

John and Barbi want to do something special in memory of Mama and Papa Swigart, but one or more of The Aunties is missing.  This will be a recurring theme anytime we want to do something remotely organized.  As Aunt Margie says, “it’s like trying to nail jello to a wall.”  (Whatever, Kansas.)

Difficulty with the symbolic lanterns results in a Cousin’s hair almost igniting.  This is related to catching the bouquet at a wedding.  The first person to catch on fire this weekend has to host the next reunion!  (The other Charlie lucked out on timing.)


I’m in trouble again because I didn’t get out to The Compound (please hold while I add to Glossary) for breakfast.  Rest assured, we had donuts, just like you did.  I promise. 

I arrive with the cornhole tournament matchups that everyone was asking me for every five minutes the night before.  Oh but wait, this person isn’t playing and these people aren’t here yet, and are we playing east coast or midwest rules, and can you make sure that her game is scheduled for the winter solstice and his game occurs only on the odd minutes.

In an effort to allow people to play at least two games, I start a Loser’s Bracket, which somehow turns into “double elimination” which I am then blamed for it “not really being double elimination”.  NO SHIT!  P.S.  This is why someone with an inferiority complex should not be asked to run something that involves highly competitive people.  The pressure is just TOO much.  The only thing I can control is how cool the brackets look drawn on a map of the state of Ohio.  Oh wait, apparently I can’t control that either. (this would be that passive-aggressive gene)

Surprise ringers: Uncle Mike, Annemarie (will come in handy at Syracuse, I’m sure)
Not so surprise semi-professional: Brian (who invited that kid?)
Most competitive Aunties:  Margie (oldest) and Becky Lou (youngest) – things that make you go hmm.

Of course we can’t get the whole first or second round finished because we have to move everyone that has been drinking for three hours (or more) at The Compound off to Camp David for a fish fry.  Best idea EVER!  I’m pretty sure this is why cousins Steve and Phil brought their licensed children.

Then there was the Manhattan incident and the vulva story. And homemade tartar sauce to feed the next 20 reunions.  Those of us raised in Ohio and Maryland have no issues with our kids shivering in the neighbor’s pool.  The rest of those growing up south of the Mason Dixon line apparently told their kids it was “too cold”. 

If there was one moment I would have liked to have had on digital download it would be cousins Adam and Katie (siblings) screaming at each other about Adam’s dog getting loose and chasing a neighborhood cat.  “They can put their cats on leashes, too, you know!”


10 am yoga session led by cousin Rebecca, accompanied on piano by cousin Andrea, commentary by grandkid Juniper.  Interruptions courtesy of pretty much everyone NOT doing yoga.

11 am devotional in which Uncle Gary read one of Papa Swigart’s sermons.  I can’t say anything else about this portion of the reunion without sounding sacrilegious.  It was lovely and a wonderful way for the Aunties to remember their father who we all loved (and taught Daniel about vulvas).

Massive clean-up effort in affect (effect?) prior to extended family (Aunties’ cousins) arriving at 3 for a “picnic.”  Three Cousins and an Uncle disappear to “run errands”.  At 1pm The Photographer shows up to take a big family shot and then grab candids of the activities which involve a Fishing Derby for the Grandkids and drinking beer for the Cousins. I’m happy to say, she did not run from us screaming.  And I thought we all looked uncharacteristically respectable.

Extended cousins show up and everybody is told how much they look like someone else (Actually, this was done the whole weekend.  It’s kind of freaky, but I’m sure true for most families.)

Cornhole tournament resumes with the not-quite-surprising result of Uncle Mike and Cousin Phil as champions.  And yes, we did have closing ceremonies.  I’m glad you asked.  It most certainly involved a podium, medals, and The National Anthem being sung in four part harmony. And just one teeny tiny injury.

9:30 pm – goodbye rounds are started for those people that won’t see each other the next day.  11:30 or later – goodbyes (round 1) have more or less ended.

I am told the cousins Daniel and Phil were still cracking cold ones open as late as 2 am, but that is pure conjecture and I don’t contribute to rumors.


Some of the gang meets me in the village to visit Lake Erie and the Nature Center.  We head back for a take out dinner and Round 2 of goodbyes.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I want to cry that Steve and Phil are not there - my oldest cousins that have grown up our entire lives with many states and years between us.  And to not have Andrea laying down the family soundtrack in the background…It’s just not the same when one of us is missing and I love you as much as the cousins I saw every other weekend (okay, obviously more than Katie).

I’m pretty sure that Aunties Priss and Charlie will spend the rest of this week sleeping (or possibly yelling at the respective Uncles for not picking up their cell phones).  But I don’t think either of them would trade even one second of the chaos and stress of having you all in their homes.  Because all the chaos and stress meant that we were all together, in one place, at one time.  And I have 356 professional photographs to prove it.

Apologies to Tess Smith Photography for writing on her beautiful picture.

Author's note: I pictured a lot of air quotes while writing this.  Sorry for the overuse.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sherlock and Irene's Dog Shaming Diary

AKA how my dogs feel about dog beds...

Day 1

I think I will just try to make this bed a little more comfortable by trying to scratch the evenly distributed cushion into various sized lumps.

Oh look.  I made the string and/or zipper come a little loose.  I’m pretty bored, so I will just chew on that for a while.  Mom gave me a bone and a dog toy, but I’m too lazy to get them.  I might actually have to get up or move my head 6 inches.

Hmm…I wonder what is in this hole that I have made now that I’ve been steadily gnawing for two hours.

STUFFING!!!  It’s stuffing!  Look, there’s stuffing in here!  It tastes really bad but look what it does when I pull it out of the hole.  STUFFING!!! I wonder if there is more in there?  I better keep gnawing on this hole.

Man, I’m tired.  I wish I could get more comfortable on this bed.  It doesn’t seem as soft anymore.  I better scratch it around some more.

Oh look.  I made more stuffing come out!  Isn’t this the prettiest stuff you have ever seen?  Blah.  Very gross though.  I think I may have swallowed some.  I better hack it up.

Now I’ll just move my bed so it covers up my vomit and Mom will never know. Sigh.  I guess it is time for a nap.  Oh wait…I think I still have a little more to throw up.

Day 2

I am sad, because Mom took my dog bed away.  I will have to scratch at the cement floor to pass the time.

Day 3

Mom got me a new dog bed!  It’s so very soft!  But I can’t find the zipper to gnaw on.  I think she might have put duct tape over it.   But I will chew on the tag instead.

Oh look.  I made a hole.

STUFFING!!!  I will try not to throw up this time.


Day 4

I am sad, because Mom took my dog bed away.  I will have to scratch the lead paint off of the cinder block wall.

Day 5

Mom actually gave us the old couch from the smaller people’s play room.  Oh wow!  Furniture.  This will be so much more comfortable.  If only I could get this cushion to move just a little to the left.  Hey, is there stuffing in here?

Man, I wish I didn’t have this nice smooth head rest.  I should probably chew it until I make it all the way down to the wood frame where the staples poke out.  That would be much better. 

Well, I was able to remove the cushions, most of the stuffing from the back, and all the fabric off the head rests.  I should be good for a nap now.


FYI - $20 for that couch at Salvation Army.  Destroyed in less than 8 hours.  Not sure I got my money’s worth.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rules of the Road

To: Enraged Motorists
From: A Bitchy Wife

Apparently, there is some concern that people who ride bikes in my small 5 mile long by 1 mile wide suburb are anarchists, at worse, and “hipsters (gasp),” at best.  Apparently, they think because we aren't “urban” we shouldn't need this mode of transportation or recreation.  Apparently, car drivers never cause any traffic delays or accidents and are saints that live to a level of expectation that the rest of the world can only hope to achieve when they reach Nirvana.

My husband is a cyclist.  He obeys traffic laws as most cyclists do (I’m imagining you only notice the ones that don’t). He has had multiple attempts by motorists to run him off the road (just for shits and giggles, not because there wasn't room to pass) and has been hit once by a truck that was making an illegal turn.  He has never caused an accident himself in the five plus years that he has been a triathlete. 

He spends his days doing:
  •   lawyery things – like sometimes defending the very motorists that are a danger to him
  •   dad things – like volunteer coaching and fixing broken toys and teaching his daughters to ride their bikes.
  •   husband things – like killing spiders and mowing the lawn and putting air in my car tires.
  •   wife things – like grocery shopping and cooking (because I suck)
  •   restoration things – like stripping old furniture and managing our vintage store
  •   training things – like swimming, biking and running so he can finish his second iron man this year.

In other words, he does more things in a single day than a lot of people do in an entire week.

I’m not saying that he’s better than anyone else. I’m just saying that this is the person you are so angry at when you have to slam on your brakes (Because I forgot to say that he often just pops out of worm holes right in front of your cars.  I’m sure it’s not because you were looking at your phone or trying to eat your Chipotle.)  This is the person you have to wait to pass because he’s only going 20 mph in a suburb that’s top speed limit is 35.  This is the person you want to ride on the uneven sidewalk where people walk their dogs and push their strollers and let their kids run next door because you would rather they stay out of the way for your Very Important Thing that you can’t possibly be another 27.3 seconds late to.

Do I ever get road rage?  Um…yes.  Pretty much every day I drive down town.  I’m impatient and yet I will look at my phone and miss that a red light turned green while I checked facebook.  I yell at the car in front of me for not warning me about the pot-hole crater that just took off my muffler.  But I always thought those were my faults.

So, I guess what I’m saying – too make a long story short – kindly shut the hell up.

To: Enraged Motorists
From: Morgan (age 8) and Zoe (age 5)

Please don’t get my dad killed because you are egotistical ass hats!


P.S.  We love unicorns.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Disney Vacation, Part 2: The Good News

As documented by my receipts...

Starting carry on bags for the girls to help give away the surprise.  Oldest did not seem to notice that hers was actually a diaper bag.  I may steal Youngest's bag for myself at some point.  Filled with autograph book and stickers to decorate it; new swimsuit, flip flops and sunglasses; swimsuit Princess barbies; magazine and snack for the plane ride.

03/06/14 09:13am

$14.99 - (2) Clear Poncho Child

Since I had been stalking Orlando weather going on two weeks, I had packed my own rain jacket. But the girls didn't really have any and I forgot to remind Dad to pack his.  Day 1 at Disney was drizzly on and off all day, which was lucky for us because it kept all the lines down.  The girls were thrilled with the extra souvenirs.  Several times they asked Dad if he wanted to get one.  Silly some point you will understand that your father would never be caught dead in either plastic or ponchos.

(I myself was a little concerned with how much I loved the new Sketcher On The Go-Bungee Shoe in Taupe I bought for the trip.  Am I one step away from mom jeans? Probably. But, damn, they were comfortable.  Five stars.)

03/06/2014 4:50pm

$119.24 (2) Adult Dinners and (2) Kid Dinners at Crystal Palace with Pooh and Friends

I had a bit of internal debate over which character meal to choose, but my Oldest is just the tiniest bit obsessed with the bear with very little brain (keep reading below) so I chose him over Mickey and Princesses.  The food was fine.  I like to think the value in the meal is spending time with the characters without having to closely associate in a 45 minute wait line with random strangers that may or may not have demon spawn.  You tell me if the smile on this girl's face was worth it?

Day 1 Highlight - (other than Pooh) - Rapunzel.  All the princesses are great, but there is a reason this girl's line is so long.  As opposed to Snow White, Aurora and Cinderella who all still carry somewhat of a regal air, Rapunzel is on the common folk level.  Who knew someone could have so much to say about hair and frying pans.

03/07/2014 9:55am

$30.02 (3) Hot Chocolates (1) Hot Tea (4) Pastries

This is our Epcot breakfast that was obtained after finding out it was a 4-5 hour wait to see Elsa and Anna.  This was at 9:30 in the morning.  Only a half hour after the park officially opened.  And no there were no early Extra Magic Hours for the Resorts that day.  That line was based on people that had early breakfast reservations at Akershus.  I have since wondered if we would have just gotten in line if it would have been only two hours?  Was she just trying to scare people off?  After all, the Peter Pan ride read 45 minute wait every time we went by, but when we finally sucked it up, it only took 20 minutes.  (All other times were pretty close to those posted on my Lines app through

I will say this put more of a damper on the trip than the rain the day before.  I think they finally perked up a couple hours later during Turtle Talk with Crush (Highly recommend this and the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor for interactive experiences.  Very funny and talented cast members.)

In case you"re wondering about Hot Chocolate in Florida.  It was COLD on our Day 2.  Not sure it ever hit 60 degrees.  But, coming from Ohio, it felt like spring. So we still benefited from the lower crowds.

Before we left for lunch we caught up with Chip and Dale, who promptly stole the Oldest's head band and proceeded to search the girls for nuts.  Girls could not stop giggling.

We ate lunch at the Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney that day.

Best value of the day is the $15 parking fee that allows you in and out of all the parks all day.  I get that the shuttles are free but you still pay for it, if you know what I mean.

Since we were in Downtown Disney anyway, we decided to let the girls poke around the largest Disney store on the planet.  The girls received several gift cards at Christmas from different family members which was very much appreciated.  Thank you, thank you.  A million times thank you.

03/07/2014 3:05pm

$69.18 - Costume Sparkle Aurora < - That's the ball gown Youngest chose.

$9.54 - Pooh Plush Keychain < - What Oldest chose.

Could I have two more different children?

Afternoon was spent at Hollywood Studios, highlights included Rockin Roller Coaster and Toy Story Mania.
Evening was spent at Magic Kingdom, which was open until 1am!  Saw the light parade we had decided to skip the day before.  Got there just in time to grab a prime curb spot and eat our hot dogs.  Youngest asked for corn dogs, which she proceeded to suck out of their breading like a vampire, leaving us with the fried shells.  Yeah.  I don't know either.

I had promised them each a set of ears.  The Oldest promptly found a set of Pooh ones and the Youngest insisted on a bridal pair, even after the sales lady tried to explain they were for grown ups.  Seriously, lady.  do you really think a five-year-old cares?

Then we hit a few rides while everyone else was watching fireworks.  Rode the Winnie the Pooh ride again and as we are exiting I mentioned that the Oldest might want to spend more of her gift cards while we were in a shop with all Pooh bears.  And then the Disney World miracle happened.  She offered to buy her little sister something, too!

03/07/2014 11:05pm

$36.11 (1) 9" Eeyore Plush (1) 9" Pooh Plush

Needless to say, leaving the park at Midnight, meant two sleeping children in the car back and a late start the next morning.  But not too late to grab McDonald's for breakfast.  That's right.  We went to McDonald's.  I am not ashamed.

We decided we might as well hit Animal Kingdom for the morning, since Magic Kingdom was open till 1 am again.  And here is where I will insert the typical dialog that ran throughout our trip.

First of all, I was convinced that the number one thing the girls would want to do would be to get character signatures.  But from the moment we hit Space Mountain (yes, the first ride I took my five year old on was Space Mountain) it was all about the rides.

In line:  How long is this wait?  Does this ride go fast?  How long does this ride last?  Is it a roller coaster?  Are you going to sit with me?  Is it scary?

On the ride:  Silent Awe or Screams of Happy Terror

As the ride pulls back in, but before we get off:  When can we do that again?  What is the next ride we are going on?  Where is it?  How long will the wait  be?  Does it go fast?  How long does it last? Can I sit with you?

I thought that the Oldest had conquered all fear once she took on the Rockin Roller Coaster.  Halfway through line she found out from another little girl that it went upside down and for a brief moment I thought she was going to bale.  But it ended up being her favorite ride of the whole trip.  Surely Everest at Animal Kingdom would be child's play.

But she had really psyched herself out of that one due to (a) the Yeti and (b) she knew it would go backwards (thank you YouTube).  In the end she relented to trusting me, but for some reason that is the only ride that both girls stated they would never go on it again.

All of us were ready to leave Animal Kingdom almost as soon as we got there.  Mainly do to the crowd levels and narrow passages of many of the walkways.  Probably in some ways we had been spoiled with the low crowds and temperatures the previous days, but something about that place made each and every one of us grumpy.

This time we stopped at Panera for lunch.  No, I am not above saving a buck or two by eating at a chain outside the resort.  Sometimes the "magic" is just too much to take.

An afternoon by the pool to wash away the morning and we were back to Cinderella's castle by 6 pm.

03/08/2014 8:05pm

$15.75 - Dinner for family of four

What?  How did we eat dinner in the park for that little?  Well, quite possibly by participating in the most unsanitary event of the entire trip (and that includes the bathrooms).  We all shared a turkey leg, bag of chips and a Diet Coke on Liberty Square.  And guess what?  We were completely full.  (To be fair, we had gotten snacks back at the hotel in between. Lest you think we are starving our kids.)

When the first parade crowd cleared out, we nabbed spot right in front of the castle for the Celebrate the Magic display that they do on the castle walls.  A-MAZE-BALLS.  And I try not to use words like that.  Better than parade and fireworks combined.  I just can't fathom the genius that went into it.  You can watch one on YouTube.  Ours was a little different because it had a Frozen part.

03/08/2014 10:05pm

$8.82 - Ice Cream for Everyone!

And that's when it happened.  We had just decided to head further into the park during everyone else's mad rush to the monorail.  Youngest was finishing her cone so Dad headed into the building we were in front to look around.  Then he immediately came back out because THERE WAS NO LINE FOR MICKEY MOUSE!!!!

I mean how awesome is it to end your trip with the big guy himself.  And HE TALKED!!!  He got them to spin around with him like they were on the tea cups.  It was honestly the perfect ending and I still contest that Mr. Walt Disney might be the single most marvelous man that ever walked our planet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Disney Vacation, Part 1: The Bad News

I'll give you the bad news first.  And isn't there a saying about bad news always coming in threes?


About two weeks out from our trip I got an email from the brand new B Resort in Downtown Disney, that they would not be making their Grand Opening deadline, and my reservation that included sheets that had never been slept in and bunk beds for the kids and environmentally conscious amenities was transferred over to the Buena Vista Palace and Spa.  They even footed the daily resort fee for which I hadn't yet paid.

On a "Bad" scale of 1-10, this was about a 3.  Disappointing, but the Palace was nice.  People were friendly.  Came with its own character breakfast.  Nobody necessarily went out of their way, but I have no complaints.  (Okay, one complaint, but I've noticed it at other places...Why do nice hotels still have analog cable?  Most of the channels barely come in.  If it had been any other type of vacation that would have been a serious point deduction, but we pretty much all fell asleep as soon as we got in bed each night.)


3:30 pm flight on a Wednesday.  Picked Oldest up from school a little early under the premise that we had to drop Dad at the airport before heading to an orthodontist appointment.  Pulled into long-term parking at about 2:00 pm and delivered the surprise before rushing them in with their new carry-ons only to be told the flight was delayed. They needed Maintenance to check the seal on the cargo hold door.  Ended up leaving the airport a little after 5:00 pm.

On the "Bad" scale of 1-10, this was a 6.  Nobody likes flight delays, but I guess delayed is better than losing my luggage over Georgia (or worse).  The main problem was that on the original plan, we would have gotten checked into the hotel just in time for a late dinner and maybe a stroll around Downtown Disney.  The new plan didn't have us even landing until about 7:30 pm.

Absolute Worst

I had pre-ordered our rental car through Priceline.  Had a good rate at Avis for a mid-sized car.

I used to be an Avis Preferred Member, back in my E&Y days that had me commuting to Augusta, GA every week. I would arrive at the Atlanta airport on a Sunday evening and my car would be running in the parking lot.  One time they even gave me a cute little Mitsubishi Spider convertible that they had sitting on the lot.  Just handed me the keys and told me to enjoy.

Now I don't know how Avis at the Orlando airport treats its "preferred customers", but I can tell you that they treat the rest of us peons like shit.

First, I stood in line for roughly thirty minutes.  It seemed as though everyone in front of me must not have already had a reservation and were completing new paperwork and making all the decisions I had already made a month ago.  This was not the case.

What was really going on, was that each customer was getting a hard-sell on an upgrade.  When it was my turn, my associate wondered if I would like to get a Lincoln Navigator instead of my Jetta sedan.  It was normally $300/day, but he could get it for only $50/day more than what I was paying. (Doing the math, that's an extra $200 Avis would like to tack on to my Disney World vacation.)

"No, thank you."

"But you will be in Orlando for only four day.  Don't you want to ride around in luxury instead of squeezed into that tiny little Jetta?"

Um, not long ago, I OWNED a Jetta that I squeezed into with my family of four EVERY DAY, so no, a frickin' NAVIGATOR is not necessary.

"No, thank you.  I will take the car I reserved."

"Oh, well, let me see if I can get you an upgrade somewhere in between."  And before I could say another word, he was gone.  Disappearing to "check with his manager" on what deal he could swing me. After I lost approximately an equal amount of time to Daylight Savings, he returned to give me his offer, which I promptly, but politely refused.

"I would just like the car that I ordered, please."

When I also refused to pay for additional rental insurance (at this point, it was on principle), the rest of the transaction was completed with an attitude that I will generously call "cool".

I should also point out that all of the above conversation had to be repeated several times, because the associate refused to speak up over the general noise of the airport.  I can only assume this was to frustrate me enough that I would finally just agree to whatever he was mumbling.

I was then told to have a seat.  They would need to bring my car up and it would take approximately ten to fifteen minutes.  He would come get me when it was here.

Excuse me?  The car I pre-ordered and pre-paid to be ready for me when my flight was supposed to land at 6:00 pm, is now, at 8:00 pm (because I've already wasted a half hour with these people), not on the premises? What. The. Hell.

I simmered in my chair with my two hungry children and not-on-his-ideal-vacation husband.  For the full fifteen minutes and then some.  My associate had not moved from the desk.  I walked back up and stood to the side not looking forward to the glares I would get from other customers if I appeared to be "cutting" in line.

A couple who's associate had just walked away turned to me and said, "You don't want this guy.  He keeps trying to upgrade us instead of giving us our car.  If I were you, I'd talk to the man with the radio.  He seems to be the only one allowed to make decisions."

So I sauntered down to the All Powerful and asked for my car.  Curiously, he didn't even know I was waiting for my car.  AP wondered who was helping me, and as I pointed the associate out, he magically walked down and handed my contract over.  Oh...I guess my car is ready now and after loosely interpreting the insufficient directions to get to said car we were finally on our way.  We ate dinner at 9:30 pm.  That was BEFORE we checked into the hotel.

On the "Bad" scale of 1-10, this hit the limit.  And because no one even had the decency to APOLOGIZE to me for my wait, I would actually push it up to 11.

Rest assured the rest of our vacation was phenomenal, if a little haphazard.  But all the goodwill that Avis had worked up with me over my many years of business travel, completely evaporated after that excruciating hour in Orlando.  Congratulations, I would prefer to walk barefoot on hot tar while carrying both my children on my back than drive one of your cars again.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Two Loves

(Disclaimer: I'm pretending that I haven't taken a year off of blogging and just jumping right back in.)

Lately I've been trying to decide which I passionately hate more:  Common Core math or PCAOB Auditing Requirements for Internal Controls around Financial Reporting.

I know there are people out there that will argue that the way we learned basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division back in the day (flashcards and School House Rock) was a gross disservice to our tiny little minds.  I know they are out there, but I haven't met them.

Yes, if you couldn't memorize math facts, you really weren't given any other option.  I get that could have left some students behind and I feel for them.  I honestly do.  But I'm not sure how making a student who DOES instinctively know a math fact learn four different ways to come up with the same answer any better?

And its no longer enough to know the answer.  You have to explain WHY you know the answer.  Math has become a creative writing assignment. (So if you aren't particularly good at spelling, grammar or expressing yourself in writing, you might as well pack up your crayons and go home.)

And then there is the constant state of distrust, second guessing and mis-communication that is otherwise known as coordinating an external audit with a Big 4 accounting firm.  Because if you didn't write it down, you didn't do it.  And if you did write it down, but nobody checked your work it can't be relied upon. And if you did write it down, and someone checked your work, it's quite possible that you're both wrong because neither of you checked to see if the system you got the information from in the first place was not compromised by disgruntled parents of common core students.

So for the fun of it I'm going to take an extremely egregious common core problem and apply the audit standards. Yes, this is an actual text book problem I got from on the line in the internets.

"Juanita wants to give bags of stickers to her friends.  She wants to give the same number of stickers to each of her friends. She's not sure if she needs 4 bags or 6 bags of stickers.  How many stickers could she buy so there are no stickers left over?"

(Disclaimer 2:  I'm not sure for what grade this question was intended, but obviously the answer is that Juanita shouldn't hand out stickers unless she has enough for the whole class.  Just for her friends?  That's horse shit!)

(Disclaimer 3:  I LOVE story problems.  They were probably my favorite part of math. I used to do brain teaser grids for fun!  You wish you were my friend.  I do NOT know the actual answer to the above problem, which I can only hope was just a large copy editor fail.)

So is she buying BAGS of stickers or is she buying INDIVIDUAL stickers? Has she consulted a working group and presented the cost benefit analysis of bags v. individual before making that decision?  Did she get the board of directors to approve for her final decision? Was it documented in the minutes and physically signed off by a member of the board?

Because if she's BUYING bags of stickers and she want to GIVE them bags of stickers, this is a no brainer.  Oh, except for the fact that we don't know how many friends she has.  Or how many less friends she will have if she doesn't buy the right number of fucking stickers.

And how much do these stickers cost?  Does she even have enough money? Has she explained the variance between the amount of money she budgeted to spend with the actual amount and escalated a variance larger than 5% of the total assets to an SVP for further review and approval?

What's the fair market value of those stickers.  Did she verify the price of stickers at Target is the same as the price of the stickers at Walgreens?  What if she buys the stickers on Friday and they are marked down on Monday?  Should she go buy more stickers or recognize the loss of value in her Income Statement.

And how do we know if the stickers that she gave out are the complete population of stickers?  Did she have an independent party count the number of stickers she gave away and balance them back to control totals around the original amount of stickers she had on hand?

What if her ass hat brother replaced the unicorn stickers with pieces of green painters tape (the kind that doesn't leave a residue when you pull it off the wall, of course)?  Because I can guarantee you if I got a bag of pieces of painter's tape I'm going to file a complaint with the SEC and Juanita's going to have a lot of explaining to do around her general access controls at the next shareholders meeting.  You suck, Juanita.  Stop buying stickers and put a lock on bedroom door!

I'll take my meds now.  And by meds, I'm referring to Oreos and milk.