Long Weekends -- 08/22/03

I've been taking long weekends this month, sticking vacation days in on Fridays and sometimes on Monday as well. Today is one of those Fridays....

Americans work longer than anyone else in the world. We passed the Japanese for total hours worked per year back around ten years ago and continue to outpace everyone -- especially Europeans, who get extravagant amounts of vacation time. I think Americans average about two weeks of paid vacation per year -- although, that being the average, it means that many get less time, some getting none.

I have always liked saving enough time to be able to have Christmas week off, to be home with my family at that time. We've never been much into going off on long summer vacations, although we have taken a few family vacations to places like Toronto or a tour down through Washington DC and Virginia. We were more likely to take day trips (like to the Baseball Hall of Fame). When the kids were very young we did rent a cottage on the Connecticut shore for a week each summer (but then the cottages were sold and replaced by a big condominium complex). Mostly, however, we did trips to Grandma & Grandpa's house -- trips to visit my parents and trips to visit Nancy's parents. (From those points we would visit parks and beaches, etc.)

The past couple of years I have ended up having to squeeze in more vacation days at the end of the year than I had wanted to -- because I had been too busy to take them earlier and my company does not carry over vacation time from one year to the next; it's strictly use it or lose it. I said I had been too busy to take the days earlier in the year but also the ability to work from home contributed to that -- for example, if someone needed to be home because of a visit from a plumber or a carpet-cleaner or the delivery of a new refrigerator, etc., I did not need to waste a vacation day on that kind of thing, just work from home that day. In 2001, partly because of being in France for two weeks in December, I wasn't able to squeeze in all of my vacation time and ended up throwing away a half day of vacation. Last year it was a close thing, but I managed to get them all in.

This year I am eligible for four weeks of vacation and I came into July having only used one week. Thus, I decided to take long weekends in August. It is very pleasant. I think I may take some long weekends in September as well. *grin*

I got what felt like an early start on my vacation day last night -- one of my co-workers and I got together with three former co-workers at Coddington Brew Pub for beer and dinner (wonderful beer, brewed on the premises -- big windows let you see the brewery from the restaurant -- I especially recommend their Oatmeal Stout).

My "to do" list for today:
  • Run. (I think Nancy and I are going to go to a beach, where she will sit and read while I go for a run. Maybe we will also go for a walk on the beach together. Maybe we will eat lunch out or maybe we will come home and I will fix something we can eat on the back deck.)
  • Cook. (I have a lot of boneless chicken breast I had bought and have not had time to cook so I am going to cook it and freeze it for future meals -- earlier this week I made two large pans of lasagna with spinach and ground turkey -- also made a pasta sauce with ground turkey and made a meal of sausage and peppers, so there was no room this week for chicken. No need to cook dinner tonight, going to friend's house for a dinner party.)
  • Shop. (Not a large shopping, just things like cereal...also need to pick up cash from ATM)
  • Eyeglasses. (My glasses -- purchased in February -- have an anti-glare coating, but that coating has become very scratched. I need to find out if they can be recoated or have the coating removed -- Given a choice, I would prefer to have it removed because it will just get scratched again and I think it is more trouble than it is worth, but I would prefer not to have to spend four hundred buck or so on new lenses. Remind me never to order anti-glare coating again.)
Tomorrow Nancy and Jennifer and I (Sean has to work) are catching an early morning AmTrak train to New York City for a grandson visit. This is just a day trip, we'll be returning on an evening train. Yes, there is a chance I might post a baby picture on Sunday.

Friday Five

1. When was the last time you laughed?
An hour or so ago while eating breakfast and reading the newspaper with my wife, sharing little bits of news, etc. And a chuckle a few minutes later when she checked her email and began laughing at a note I'd sent her just before leaving work yesterday.

2. Who was the last person you had an argument with?
Probably my 18 yr old son -- one of those usual parent-child discussions regarding an appropriate time to return home when out with friends, the importance of exercising caution when driving, and the need for the lawn to be mowed.

3. Who was the last person you emailed?

My wife. (But if you are on my notify list, as soon as I ftp this to Geocities, I'll be sending you a note, which you have probably already read. Hmmm, just like the tense troubles from time travel tales.)

4. When was the last time you bathed?
Bathe, as in sit in a tub full of water in order to clean oneself? .Probably in May of 1976. Otherwise, I'm a shower person. Our bathroom has a separate shower. The tub is very large, a nice soaking tub -- and sometimes Nancy enjoys a long relaxing soak in the tub after a strenuous tennis match -- but usually it serves as a convenient place to put the laundry hamper.

5. What was the last thing you ate?

A bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats (bite size) with sliced banana and skim milk. Glass of orange juice. Black coffee.

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