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The Holiday Closeout

by on December 20, 2016 5:00 AM

As we approach the end of 2016 I thought I would share a few of the holiday season thoughts sugar-plumming through my head…

  • “All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.” This line from How The Grinch Stole Christmas went through my mind as I drove through downtown on Sunday night – and I think I know how he felt. Multi-story apartment buildings with every single window dark. Residence halls on campus exactly the same. Except in this case all the Whos were probably not all dreaming sweet dreams without care. Or, at least, I don’t recall spending the first few days of my holiday break sleeping and dreaming sweet dreams.

  • The Penn State football team is finally getting a modicum of respect from the Big Ten. Perhaps you heard rumblings around town last week that on the Big Ten’s website the conference’s football rankings of the two divisions somehow listed Ohio State above Penn State in the East Division -- most likely because Ohio State’s overall winning percentage is higher than Penn State’s. But this is a conference ranking and most every other conference all use the conference results, not overall results, to determine the rank on their conference website. Someone at the Big Ten must have gotten the memo because Penn State is now rightfully listed above Ohio State.

  • One month from today – Jan. 20, 2017 – the United States will inaugurate POTUS No. 45. The President of the United States and the 45th leader of our country is Donald J. Trump. Raise your hand if on Jan. 8, 2004, as you watched the first episode of The Apprentice, you thought to yourself, “That man’s going to be President of the United States someday.” Times sure change in 13 years, don’t they?

  • On Sunday morning I walked down the driveway to retrieve the mail we hadn’t gotten from the mailbox on Saturday. I was in a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt – my normal mail-acquiring attire as our neighbors will attest – and it felt balmy. I checked the thermometer when I went back in the house – 48 degrees. Why, it was balmy!

  • That 1-inch or so of whatever it was covering everything on Saturday morning…  wasn’t it the hardest shoveling job you’ve had in awhile?  You would have thought there had been 12 inches of snow judging by how long it took me to get our sidewalk and driveway clear.

  • Orchard Park Lake reappeared as a result of that weather system. And with the temperature drop yesterday, today, and the next few days, I’m wondering if Orchard Park Ice Rink will become a reality. Maybe the wonderful folks at the Pegula Arena will let Centre Region Parks and Rec borrow a Zamboni while the hockey teams are on break?

  • The amount I paid Penn State for a ticket to the 1983 Sugar Bowl: $20. The amount I paid Penn State for a ticket to the 2017 Rose Bowl: $210.

  • Our daughter binge-watched Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI this past weekend in preparation for seeing Rogue One. I have a confession to make. I have never seen any Star Wars movie in a movie theatre. I won’t be breaking that streak anytime soon. Jar Jar Binks isn’t coming back, is he?

  • I wonder how much gas I’ve wasted in my life driving cars with tires that were low on air but I didn’t know it? Now that our vehicles have tire-inflation gauges on their valve stems, as soon as a large temperature drop takes place we all get indicator lights glowing on our dashboards. Thank goodness Sheetz and Giant offer free air, unlike those stations that charge $1.50 for air and only give you 3 minutes – which is never enough time to get all your tires checked and filled.

  • Holiday cards. Many years ago we started a tradition in our family of printing our own holiday cards. It was something that used to be difficult for the average person, but with digital cameras and computers and online services it’s now very easy for anyone to do it. However, you still have to create the “content” which in our case means a photo or photos of the kids with the Christmas tree. Except this year we had a moral/spiritual/philosophical time of indecision that pushed back our tree cutting until recently – meaning our holiday cards this year will once again be slightly post-holiday. That email option is looking better and better and better.

  • As I sift through the many wonderful local charitable solicitations we receive every year I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ever-popular Mike Lynch Overlook on Mount Nittany is, after decades of use, going to get a much-needed professional facelift in 2017. As I am the president of the Mount Nittany Conservancy this is just an early heads-up – in the coming weeks we will release a lot of information on this year-long project. The short and sweet version is we want to conserve this iconic view for generations to come. After 35 years of volunteer labor realized we needed help from specialists. So we and the Mountain are going to get it.

Well, I think that about clears out the stream of consciousness dancing through my mind – or as Martin Mull would say, “Puddle of consciousness. I have trouble with moving water.” Have a great holiday season, a wonderful New Year, and enjoy the spirit and company of whoever you’re with and wherever you are. As Ferris Bueller stated, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”


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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