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21 Random End-of-the-Year Musings

by on December 22, 2015 6:00 AM
State College, PA

As I sit at home preparing our cards for mailing, the holidays are in full swing and the spirit of the season is all around us.

The year 2016 is about to begin and I find myself in a reflective mood. 

Looking back on life in Happy Valley in 2015 a mélange of notions come to mind.

As I am not one to engage in New Year’s resolutions -- other than running the 5K Resolution Run downtown on Dec. 31 -- I am here instead to share with you 21 random end-of-the-year musings. Without further ado they are…

1.  My holiday-mix CD has been inserted in the players in both our mini-van and SUV since Thanksgiving. If you see me driving around town mouthing something inside the vehicle that looks like, “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch…” it’s probably because I am.

2.  I mowed my lawn in the month of December for the first time since 1999, when we lived in Orlando. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

3.  It’s wrestling and ice hockey season!

4.  I’m still sad three years later about one good friend who is no longer with us. However, I am extremely happy for all our friends who ARE still around, and that both sets of our parents are alive and well.

5.  I was glad to see Lewis Lapham recently write a piece in Harper’s magazine again. Even more excited to see he started it with one of my favorite movie lines regarding news writing. Journalism students everywhere should take note. To wit: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

6.  I look forward to the day when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board starts satisfying us unpeated scotch drinkers by carrying Glengoyne or Bruichladdich in their stores.

7.  I’m grateful for the years Jim Pawelczyk dedicated to the State College School Board. As the district embarks on the largest building project in its history -- all of which will be built by the lowest bidders -- Jim was a great spirit to have on the board. He knows a little something about putting his life in the hands of the lowest bidder.

8.  Someone in the borough and/or Penn State should consider installing the parking system Disney uses in their new Disney Springs (formerly Disney Village) parking garage. Each space has a sensor which detects a vehicle’s presence, and as you drive in to the garage automatic sign boards tell you the number of spaces available on every level and then LED arrows direct you to each available space. Oh, and if they want to name it the “Hook Parking Lot” the way Disney did with one lot at the Magic Kingdom, I would be humbled.

9.  Countries that incorporate siestas into their work day are on to something.

10.  There are a LARGE number of very generous people living in Happy Valley.

11.  I am constantly awed by the quality and quantity of artistic talent in these here parts.

12.  Speaking of artistic talent… if you haven’t watched Lady Gaga’s live cover of the 4 Non Blondes hit "What's Up" on YouTube, you should give it a try. Helen Reddy would be impressed.

13.  Note to the post office: Anyone at the counter asking for two rolls of stamps on Dec. 16 probably wants the holiday design and not the Fourth of July design. My apologies in advance to recipients of our holiday card.

14.  Holiday lights on houses and apartments at night really do make me feel all warm and fuzzy. And I offer a special “thank you” to those in the area who really do it up -- you know who you are! If your house is visible on approach or departure from the airport, you’re doing it right.

15.  It’s really wonderful to live someplace where we have five good options within 20 minutes of our house that we can cut a fresh Christmas tree.

16.  They’re renovating the Creamery? Wasn’t it just built? Dang, time flies when you are having fun!

17.  I am proud to say that I have never gone to a movie theater to watch any of the Star Wars movies. However, I have been known to use Yoda’s quote: “No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.”

18.  I still have my ticket to the only Penn State vs. Georgia football game ever played (until two weeks from now that is). Aside from the non-existence of bar codes and the presence of a tear-off strip they actually tore off, the most interesting thing to me is the price we paid for what was the de facto Division I college football national championship game -- $20.00.

19.  Congratulations to the Penn State women’s soccer team on their first-ever national championship! And yes, I admit I screamed at the TV when Raquel Rodriguez scored her goal.

20.  Our community is losing one of its shining light spiritual resources as the irreplaceable Joel Blunk and his wife move to Richmond, Va. A great man that Joel.

21.  Yes, we’ve all seen the internet ads and stories about the company shaking up a billion dollar shaving industry. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You want a tip? Trader Joe’s shaving kit is available during the holiday season at a price that shocked even me, a seasoned bargain-hunter. I grabbed several. And as I write this I think I might go back and get a few more.



Thanks for tagging along in 2015, I wish you a wonderful holiday season, and a safe and happy New Year! Unless of course you are one of the 500 people ahead of me in the 5K downtown on New Year’s Eve -- in that case please slow down and let me pass! You exceptional athletes you!

John Hook is the president of The Hook Group, a local management consulting firm, and active in several nonprofit organizations. Previously John spent 25 years in executive, management and marketing positions with regional and national firms. John lives in Ferguson Township with his wife Jackie and their two children.
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