Happy New Year’s – Celebrate Pennsylvania Dutch Style


There is a saying that goes “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” As a fellow PA Dutchman I believe that this is 100% true, okay maybe 92.3% true.  Kind of a harsh statement, let’s say that even though you may not be Pennsylvania Dutch that you are good enough, you are smart enough and doggone it people like you.

ifyouaintdutch-2Many assume that PA Dutch were settlers from the Netherlands. That would make sense since they are the Dutch. But actually PA Dutch originated from German immigrants who settled into southeastern Pennsylvania in the early 18th century. (There were earlier settlers but most came in around this time.) Most PA Dutch settled into the area ranging from Allentown out to Reading.

Yuup, that’s my home turf. Well former turf.

So where did the word “Dutch” originate for this group if not referring to the Netherlands? I’ll give you the short version and not the history lesson. Simply put, Dutch is a variation of the word Deutsche which means German person. Get it?  Pretty simple, sort of.gazette

Interesting Fact: Our little town gazette had several pages written in Pennsylvania Dutch. Not sure they still do today, but that was an interesting section.

There are many known Pennsylvania Dutch traditions such as:

  • Big Barns & Hex Signs
  • Pennsylvania Dutch Noodles
  • Moravian Star
  • Bringing prominence to the Christmas Tree in the U.S.

There is one PA Dutch Tradition that you may not be aware of, eating Pork & Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day.

From Wikipedia or some other educational site:

“A Pennsylvania Dutch tradition says that it’s good luck to eat pork for the new year because pigs forage forward for their food and don’t look back. In years past, food for winter was the equivalent of prosperity. Having a hog to slaughter and pork to eat at New Year’s meant a family would have food for the winter months. Because cabbage is a late fall crop, the most efficient way to preserve it for the winter was by turning it into sauerkraut. Bringing cabbage takes 6 to 8 weeks, which means that October kraut would be ready to eat just as the new year was arriving.”

Why not chicken?
The chicken symbolizes going backward. You don’t want to go backward entering a new year, because that invites bad luck.

This tradition is not a Pennsylvania thing, it’s a PA Dutch thing. I am now a New Jerseyan with an awesome family.  We do keep to this tradition every year but I am not sure anyone but me enjoys the pork & sauerkraut dinner.  But we at least we try…

So there you have it, a little interesting fact to help cure your New Year’s hangover.


New Year’s Eve – Do’s & Don’ts

new year

New Year’s Eve is a night to celebrate the remaining hours of 2014 and help to welcome in 2015. For many New Year’s represents a fresh start, a rejuvenation of sorts as all things are once again possible. The stress of holiday shopping is past and there is nothing but clear blue skies ahead.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where people dance, eat and partake in the favorite libation. Most people to play the evening slightly conservative and don’t go too crazy but then there are those that take this holiday celebration too far. You know who I mean.

Not sure how you should act on NYE? Take a look at the below do’s and don’ts and you will be sure to stay out of a drunk dank come New Year’s morning.

New Year’s Eve – Do’s & Don’ts

Do: Feel free to have a few cocktails and enjoy the festivities
Don’t: Over indulge in cheap booze

Do: Mix and mingle and discuss friends, family, sports and recent social events
Don’t: Talk aimlessly to anyone who will listen either telling them how great your children are or how miserable your 2014 was.

Do: Wear a novelty New Year’s hat
Don’t: Wear a lampshade on your head

Do: Wear a nice outfit, for a more formal party cocktail dresses for women and sport coats for men work. For casual affairs, wear slacks or skirts, and dress shirts.
Don’t: Wear a baby diaper and walk around calling yourself Baby New Year.

Do: Kiss a loved one at the stroke of midnight
Don’t: Don’t wander aimlessly shaming someone into kissing you. There’s probably a reason no one is standing next you at midnight.

Do: Have transportation arrangements made ahead of time
Don’t: Drink and Drive

Do: Drink water throughout the evening
Don’t: Drink toilet water at any time during the evening. Drinking toilet water any time after 6am the following day is acceptable as you will most likely be bowing to the porcelain god. Unless of course you followed the first Do’s & Don’ts above.

Do: Have fun with your spouse
Don’t: Flirt with another if you are off the market

Best of 2014 – not really


I was planning on writing a best of 2014 post this week to highlight the good, the bad and the ugly that the year had. I started to draft a paragraph or two, then I deleted it and switched over to a best of everything kind of list, like a Best Movies of 2014, Best Songs of 2014, you can take it from there. I really was prepared to give you reviews and insights so that you can officially close out your year and gear up for 2015.

What I realized after plenty of time thinking, pondering and hypothesizing is that I think that I may be pretty boring. Yes, I could tell you the Best Beers of 2014 (Marley’s Peanut Butter Ale) or the Best TV Shows (Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, The Leftovers) but I don’t think I even saw a movie in the theaters in 2014 (does Mr. Peabody count?), or heard an original band this year (I will say the band Television on the Radio released a pretty good album). And I can’t tell you the trendiest restaurants in NYC or best books to read.

Yeah, the “About Me” section on the About page of Squirrels Hate Me kind of sums it up with lyrics by Rockwell.

“I’m just an average man
with an average life
I work from nine to five,
hey, hell, I pay the price
All I want is to be left alone
in my average home
But why do I always feel like
I’m in the twilight zone”
– Rockwell, “Somebody’s Watching Me”

This is not a bad thing. Actually, I think it’s the best thing. It frees me up to do the things I enjoy most, spending time with family, acting odd, traveling, watching the Cubs lose and enjoying a good beer or two, with a mustard shot chaser.

So if you want a true Best of 2014 list, I suggest visiting People.com or something. But I think I had a pretty damn good year. Actually it was the Best 2014 it could be.

2015 here we come!!!!


The Post(s) of Christmas Past

'I expected more from the Ghost of Christmas Past than 'Let's take a look at your best bits' ...'

It’s time to spread holiday cheer by celebrating some of the best Christmas posts from the past. Enjoy!

Lottery Card Winning Etiquette
Find out how to best spend your lottery card winnings.

A Pickle Tradition
What does a pickle have to do with Christmas?

Christmas Card Etiquette
It’s that time of year to give and receive the annual tradition of the holiday card.

Top 10 Christmas Villains
Find out who tops the list of the most villainous holiday character.

Monday Morning Burn

1. I think Kate Upton was a good choice for People’s Sexiest Woman of the Year. I personally would have selected Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones, but can’t argue with the Upton call. Check out Natalie’s gallery from SI.com.

2. I think sticking with the Upton theme, that it was very interesting that Justin Upton was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres. Personally, I like the Padres and San Diego is tied for my favorite U.S. city (Chicago is the other favorite). I think there needs to be a father / son trip out west to see NuNu the Orange Bird loving boy’s favorite player in Upton.  Then possibly to a Diamondbacks game.  Spring Training with the Cubs to boot?  I think my head is spinning.

3. I think that I am already salivating over the thought of fish tacos from Tin Fish located right by Petco Park where the Padres play.

4. I think that I fell 8 visits shy of hitting my goal of 100 visits to the company gym in 2014. Not too bad considering I have four possible days per week to hit the gym at the office (leaves me with about 200 total opportunities, yes, I take Wednesday’s off to recover from Mon & Tue workouts, getting old sucks). Subtract my time out of the office for the many meetings and business travel and it’s not too shabby.

5. I think I may need more times in the gym in 2015 if I am going to still overly enjoy ice cream, Cheez-it’s, and a good tasting beer or so.

6. I think not many people actually wanted to see the movie “The Interview.”  Looked pretty bad,  Perhaps it was Sony’s way of cutting its loss?

7. I think if you are a fan of The Simpsons then you should check out these 25 little known facts about one of my favorite all time shows.

8. I think I am going to enjoy a couple of days off around the holidays. No real plans as of yet, but lots to do.

9. I think there are only three shopping days until Christmas. Are you done shopping? Am I done shopping? Thank goodness for Kohl’s being open for 24 hours!

10. I think, no, I actually know, Have a Happy Holiday Season!

5 Great Things from the 1980’s We Miss and 2 We Don’t

They say things from the ‘80’s don’t die, they just fade away. Actually that may have been Levi’s that said that.

Anyway, I am all for change. I love living in today’s world and can’t imagine living back in those prehistoric days of the 1980’s. The technology today is just incredible. I mean, can you imagine trying to read a map without the assistance of GPS navigation? Or passing time by reading a magazine and not playing Candy Crush? Or watching the big game on a television with rabbit ears?

No way, no how.

I admire today’s youth, they have so many cool technological enhancements yet to come. It’s astonishing to think how far advanced society will be in the year 2099. However, today’s Millennials and Generation Z’s missed out on some simple yet guilty pleasures from the most impressionable decade ever, the 1980’s

5 Things We Miss from the 1980’s

ghostbusters1. Novelty Mirrors – these novelty mirrors were sold at rock concerts, given away at roller rinks and offered as prizes at carnivals. Not sure what spawned this trend, but I imagine it was our vanity. Hey I need another mirror to look at my aerosol sprayed hair and three inch thick layer of make-up. Combine that with our favorite bands and movies and there you have it the perfect combination of novelty and vanity.

I was just as guilty as I had two of these novelty mirrors. The first mirror I received was at Iron Maiden night at the Edgemont Roller Rink and the second was a Ghostbusters mirror won at the Great Allentown Fair. “Who you gonna call?”

tshirt2. Concert t-shirts – call it an early version of diversity. In the 80’s all concert shirts were created equal. White body, black sleeves and graphic on the chest, pretty simple. Sometimes the white and black were reversed. Everyone had an arsenal of at least 3-5 concert tees. What was great is that you didn’t even have to attend a concert to get one of these classics, just truck on down to the local mall, Spencer’s probably had the best selection. Today’s concert tees have to compete with t-shirts from Abercrombie, the Gap and such. Back then, the hard choice was which shirt to choose. My personal favorite was my Quite Riot shirt that I wore at least twice a week until it wore out.

book3. Choose Your own adventure books – how great were these easy reading books? First off, these books were only about 100 pages long, add the fact that you skip ahead based upon which adventure you selected and they would up being a 50 page read. Also, the book is the present that keeps on giving since you tended to read these Choose Your own Adventure Books about 20 times trying to get a different adventure each time.


4. Scratch ‘n Sniff Stinky Stickers – I compare the Scratch ‘n Sniff sticker craze of the eighties to that of the Rainbow Loom fad that played out recently. Thousands of stickers existed with scents like fresh cut grass, gasoline, pizza and pickle. Kids traded these Stinky Stickers like baseball cards, teachers gave Stickers for good grades and teens sniffed looking for a quick high. Accessories were also a big thing, including your very own sticker book in which to house these circular scents. I’m actually wondering if these Scratch ‘n Sniff Stinky Stickers led to the cocaine craze as well during this decade?

run dmc

5. Cassette Tapes – digital music is so much better and easier to purchase and play than cassette tapes ever were. I love the fact I can listen to 5,000 songs on an airplane with hundreds of playlists, forwarding over multiple songs in succession. But the simplicity of the cassette, pop-in the tape to your oversized boom book or Sony Walkman, listen to five songs, turn cassette over and listen to another five songs was pure magic.

I think what was even better was actually shopping for cassette tapes at the local record store. Remember when there were at least three record stores in the mall? One would spend numerous hours sorting through rows upon rows of recent releases, classics and alternative albums all for the right to purchase a cassette for $7.99.

I think what was better than better was the unwrapping of the cassette tape.  Anxiously awaiting the contents inside; both the music on the tape and also the physical printed package. Often the packaging featured photos of the band or the song’s lyrics in which one would stare at for the longest time. I still know to this day which way to walk thanks to Run DMC. Which by the way, I played Run DMC’s Raising Hell tape so many times that the actual cassette cover wore down to a nub. Not sure how, but damn that was a good tape!

2 Things from the 1980’s We Don’t Miss

tazLooney Toon’s Tasmanian Devil – not sure how this became a trend. But people were in love with the Tasmanian Devil. For those of you that are not familiar, Loony Toon’s Tasmanian Devil was a cartoon that was shown during a half hour of Bugs Bunny cartoons. The Tasmanian Devil was a weird character that seemed overly anxious and hopped up on Red Bull (though it didn’t exist back then). Geico Insurance is trying to capitalize on this past craze by featuring it in a recent advertisement. Fail!

The Tasmanian Devil sold plenty of merchandise but what I often found bizarre was that so many people ended up with a Tasmanian Devil tattoos. How’s that working out for you? Glad this thing from the eighties was lost, wish Geico thought the same.mom jeans

Mom Jeans – what the heck people!  How awful looking were jeans back then?  Women everywhere now thank the gods (the old and the new) for the rise of low cut jeans.

Lines, Lines Everywhere There’s Lines

What to do at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom When the Crowds are Overwhelming.


We are entering some of Walt Disney World’s busiest times of the year, the Holiday Season. As you can imagine anytime schools are on vacation Disney will be crowded. Most people who are going to Disney do recognize this fact, however for each and every one of them, they hold out the hope that the park will not be “that crowded” and the believe that they will be able to ride every ride and do everything.

This is simply not true.

Nothing that I say in this post is groundbreaking; just simple strategies to use when the Magic Kingdom park is maxed out to full capacity. If you know that you are going at an extremely busy time of the year do not get frustrated. Instead maintain a flexible game plan so that you and your family have a wonderful time.

I am proving insight on this subject matter as I have been to the Magic Kingdom on the slowest of slow days but also on a full capacity day when the park temporary closed due to maximum occupancy. Note: the busiest time we visited was on Good Friday.

This post will focus on strategies specifically for the Magic Kingdom as it would be too difficult to lump all four parks together. Wouldn’t be very efficient would it?

Strategies to Ensure a Successful and Happy Time

1. Take advantage of Disney’s Fast Pass Plus system. Fast Pass Plus allows you to fast passreserve three rides or shows in advance (60 days for Disney hotel guests, 30 days for everyone else). This is a life saver. I recommend that you reserve those that usually have the longest lines and are most meaningful to you. Basically, the thrill rides; Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, etc.

2. Get to the park early. I suggest planning on arriving at the Disney Transportation Center at least 60 minutes before the park opens. Take into account the time it takes to pay for parking, parking and taking the tram to the DTC. This could easily be an additional 30 minutes.

3. Identify Must Do’s. Hopefully, your 3 Fast Pass Plus are designated. Did you identify adisneychecklist1 list of other must do’s? If not be sure to do so. I use this rule of thumb – ask everyone in your party “what is the one can’t miss thing that they want do?” If there are five in your party, then there are five to dos. Note: these must do’s do not to be just rides, parades and restaurants may be on your list. Ensure that you have an achievable list and don’t feel like you need to hit every ride. Because when it’s crowded you won’t. This will great diminish your satisfaction level.

Five must do’s used in combination with Fast Pass Plus and getting to the park early is achievable.

4. Game On. Once the park officially opens be sure to make a straight line for those rides or shows that you have identified as Must Do’s and are not part of your Fast Pass Plus. Somehow, there will already be a line, and said line may already be 15-20 minutes long. Don’t get discouraged. Simply remember the Must Do list and that you will cross this off.

Even on peak days the Magic Kingdom will not become overwhelming until around 11am. If the park opens and 9am and you use the strategy of arriving early you should have a solid two hours to achieve your Must Do list.

5. Play it Smart. So the park is now opened and you are on your way to knocking out a few Must Do’s. Don’t get caught in the early morning time sucks. Avoid these traps when you first get into the park, even if it is your first visit to Disney.


  • Taking professional Disney photos. While a snapshot may seem quick, one snapshot may lead to another and so on costing you approximately an additional 15 minutes.
  • The numerous gift shops along Main Street. I know it is hard to resist. T-shirts, balloons, pins, etc. they act like light to a moth. Be strong and keep your cash in your pocket… For now.
  • Early morning snacks. Again, the line may seem small but it may just end up costing you 15 minutes.

Get your photos taken, snacks eaten, merchandise purchased after a few rides are under your belt.

6. Give Me a Break. Make a plan to eat lunch outside of the Magic Kingdom and give yourself a 3-4 hour park break. Having a reprieve from all the people and long lines will be a breath of fresh air for everyone in your party.

Note: on average it may take 45 minutes to leave the park and drive to a spot to eat. Plus 45 minutes to come back to the park. This is similar if you are staying at a Disney property or not. The exceptions are if you are staying at the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian resorts as they are on the monorail line.

I recommend leaving the park for a late lunch around 1pm and returning to the park around 5pm.

7. All that Glitters is Not Just Gold. Even during the busiest of days when the park closes due to capacity there are rides and shows that you will not wait very long for. The reason is the following rides and shows are not the most popular rides. But they are enjoyable and since there tends to be limited lines it will make your time enjoyable.

Basically, if you can mix in your Must Do’s along with some non-thrill rides/shows and other activities, you may be able to hit quit amount of entertainment throughout the day.

Try these limited wait time rides & shows:

  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover – usually you can get ride on for thisPeoplemoverPoster relaxing ride, think open air monorail, that takes you through a bird’s eye view of Tomorrowland. Including a special peak into Space Mountain.
  • Carousel of Progress – Most people actually enjoy this hybrid ride/show once it’s over. Located in Tomorrowland the lines tend to be very minimum.
  • Tom Sawyer’s Island – located in Frontierland, this is a fun place to run around and explore. It also let’s everyone blow off some steam as they are moving and climbing and not just waiting around.
  • Country Bear Jamboree – located in Frontierland. Kids do enjoy this decent show, not great. But the best part is that it is air conditioned and that you sit.
  • Hall of Presidents – just think, animatronics were extremely innovative when they were introduced. It is enjoyable to hear from the past presidents. Besides you may learn a thing or two.
  • Enchanted Tiki Room – I am not necessarily recommending this show. I just offer tiki roomthis as an alternative to keep you busy and ensuring that you are accomplishing activities at Disney.
  • Liberty Square Steamboat – located next to the Hall of Presidents, this is a steamboat ride around Frontierland. Very relaxing and seldom crowded.
  • Swiss Family Robinson Tree House – located next to the Jungle Cruise. Trek through a facsimile version of the famous family tree house. A great activity whose walking line is continuously moving.

8. Have Fun, Be Flexible. Having a plan and using these strategies will allow you to claire disneymeander the park, soak in the sights and taste a little of the sweet fare offered in the numerous stands and kiosks.

As you can see there are several things to do when the park is crowded. Using these strategies will not alleviate the mass of people. It will however allow you to have a great time.

Enjoy. It really can be fun, even when crowded to the extreme.

A Holiday Jingle in the Making?

No, not the holiday jingle variety, the annoying commercial type.


I think I always knew that my career path was destined for marketing. At an early age, in addition to playing sports and hanging with friends, I enjoyed watching television commercials and had an eye for product logo and packaging. Still do to this day, though I tend to err on the side of sports logos and design. (I actually spent numerous hours creating mini-posters of many of the 1985 College Football Bowl Games as an early career start). I attribute many of these “skills” to my youth spent watching cartoons and studying the backs of cereal boxes.

bag a bug - best bug catcher around - for japanese beetlesI believe I came up with my first original commercial jingle around age 6 or 7 for the Bag a Bug Japanese Beetle backyard trap. So after my hopes for playing second base for the Chicago Cubs faded at age 16, I moved on to the world of marketing. I never sold my jingle to the makers of Bag a Bug but it got me on the path of marketing, advertising and annoying others with awful jingle jamming.


One of my more memorable jingles was for Ron Popeil’s Pasta Maker. (Seeing a recent Ron Popeil product this weekend led to this post.) A college roommate of mine, we’ll call him GJD, watched an entire Pasta Maker infomercial waiting for that jingle. The jingle never came. He never realized that I was the one who wrote and sung this song so many times that it got stuck in his head. It must have been that good.

Damn right! “When it’s Ron Popeil, I’ll make your pasta fresh today…”

I still work at jamming the jingle and “Slappin’ the bass” but I have moved on to more serious advertisement creation and marketing. I always have an occasional rhythm in the back pocket, goin’ jingle lingle ling. Too bad I was never musically inclined, or it could have been me who wrote the 1-877-Kars for Kids jingle. But I would never have wrote that still freaky “Wheels on the bus” commercial.

Oh, and by the way, I did end up writing and singing a Christmas Jingle on stage in high-school. An original Christmas Chemistry Rap that I performed on stage multiple times. Try that as a 16 year old.

Do you have a passion for fashion? If so, swing on down to Ideal

Here is one of the impressionable jingles and commercials that I still get stuck in my head to this day. I must have watched this commercial over one thousand times during all the Brady Bunch, Woody Woodpecker and Gilligan Island reruns. Catchy jingle, but still trying to figure out why these gals were eating a hot dog in the commercial for a retail store?

5 Lessons Learned from the Grinch

“The three words that describe you are as follow and I quote; stink, stank, stunk.”
-Thurl Ravenscroft, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

1. People are Forgiving. As much as the Grinch tries and is a jerk, as soon as he realizes that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, that perhaps Christmas means a little bit more, he accepts the kindness of strangers and in return they forgive and accept him.

Lesson: no matter if you are wrong or make a mistake, apologize for your error. You most likely be forgiven. Give it a try.

2. You are Stronger Than You Think. The sleigh full of presents were teetering on the brink of collapse, but when the Grinch finally understood the true meaning of Christmas he became determined to save Whos’ Christmas bounty by finding the strength of ten Grinches… plus two.

Lesson: challenge yourself, believe in yourself. If you think it, you can do it. You are stronger than you think you are.

3. Loud Noises are Bothersome. The Whos’ are a festive bunch and are not afraid to show it. They bang on their tong-tinglers, they blow their foo-flounders, they crash jang-jinglers. I think we can all relate that we would all hate this Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise

Lesson: invest in a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones.

4. Talking in Rhyme Makes You More Authoritative. Notice how those around the Grinch pay closer attention when he rhymes? Well, maybe they didn’t have a choice.

Lesson: It’s not hard to do, simply use a different word or two. Just make the words match, if you itch then scratch. Everyone will think your smart and it’s true.

5. It’s Not That Hard to Trick a Who. How does one get away with stealing the entire contents of the house without anyone noticing? Not sure. Then when Cindy Lou Who awakes the Grinch simply tells her that one side of the tree won’t light on one side. And that he is taking the tree to his workshop to fix it up there and bring it back here. I guess if I was no more than two I would agree this may be true. But I still can’t get past that not one Who in town knew he looted them blind.

Lesson: don’t steal, it’s just wrong.