December 11th, 2010

United flights to the North Pole

I just passed Ronald McDonald at Dulles.

United does something pretty cool every year. They take children with critical illnesses, put them on a plane, and taxi them around the airport to the "North Pole" (a red carpet club or another gate, I think) where they get to meet Santa. It's run by employee volunteers, and United donates resources.

There are lots of people wandering by in santa hats, elf costumes, and other holiday finery. Lots of photographers and videographers too. It's such a cool idea, and the kids were all terribly excited.

Duty Free

Can someone explain duty free stores to me, and why anyone would want to shop at them? Or more precisely, why I would? Every time I look at stuff (specifically scotch) in them, it's significantly more expensive than regular retail. What am I missing?

First World Problems

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend on my way to work. He found a house that he fell in love with and has been trying to buy it as his second house, but circumstances have conspired to make that unlikely-- the appraisal came in way low, the seller won't budge, and he doesn't want to fork out the extra cash. So because he can't get a big enough mortgage, he's not going to get the house.

A little while later, I was describing some chaos and stupidity that I was dealing with at work. It was nothing really phenomenal, just the usual snafus and them not being handled as well as they could have.

"You know", I said, "We have such first-world problems."

"What do you mean?"

"We have roofs over our heads, we never worry about where our next meal is coming from, we have good if sometimes annoying medical care... really, our lives are pretty good and our problems are small."

"Yeah, you're right."

A few days later he called me. "You've really changed my outlook on life. Whenever I start bitching about something, I just shake my head and say 'first world problems' and that puts it into perspective for me."

He called today as my plane was boarding. I started grumbling about being stuck in the back of the plane, not even economy+, and the transcontinental flight was full. His response was simply "first world problems." And he was totally right.

Try it sometime. The next time you start complaining about something, look in the mirror and say "first world problems" to yourself.