Weddings can be very stressful, not only for the people who are getting married but also for the people who are part of the wedding party.  The Wedding Industry doesn’t help by making things redunkulously expensive.  But there are some things you can do to help mitigate the stress.



Here’s some more good wedding advice.   If you liked this post you’ll love this  one and this one.

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Life Lessons, Practical Life Lessons, Social Maintenance

Planning a Wedding? Don’t do these things

Dark Matters, Getting It Off Your Chest, Life Lessons, Social Maintenance, This Week on Facebook, Two for Tuesday

When History repeats itself, it’s an opportunity to take the other path

Like most people, I periodically clean out the friends list on the ole Book of Faces, removing people who don’t interact with me,  log in very often or not make one of the Bucket Criteria.  In general I’m unfriending people that don’t fit one of the criteria for being a friend/connection on FB.  I discovered doing that breaks the FB algorithms and I see more of my active friends stuff.

I guess I was caught by surprise that anyone would reach out to me to confirm if I unfriended them.    Sidenote: is it unfriend or defriend?  hypen or no?  Discuss in the comments.

It probably seemed arbitrary to TGC that I un-friended them.  So why would I unfriend TGC but keep TG or FG who I know from the same circle?  Well FG and I have a common thing now as we are both parents of twin toddlers.  That is a connection.  Plus he was one of the few attorneys at BigName Law Firm 1.0,  that treated me like a human being.  TG was always a decent person to me and even came to one of my house parties back in the day.

TGC on the other hand didn’t always treat me like an equal.  In 2000 or 2001 or so, while working for the No-Name Software Company, I was a training class around the corner from where we use to work.  I emailed to see if TGC was free for lunch and if it was no trouble to meet.  TGC accepted my invitation but asked if SM could join because SM only worked part time at that point and would also be in the office that day.


Being the naive inclusive person I was, I said sure.  But that was a mistake becuase after 5 minutes of catching up on my latest and greatest life unlocking achievements, TGC and SM started talking about things that didn’t’ include me and made no effort to bring me into their conversations.  And the thing is, it’s not like TGC and SM didn’t hang out already.  They probably could have had this same conversation over drinks that evening or the next day that SM was working downtown or  they could have been less rude and brought me into the conversation somehow.  It was truly a case of why the fuck did we bother?

After that I never emailed TGC again and I only connected on FB because that’s what everyone was doing back in 2008.

After I explained to TGC my motivation for culling my friends list, they wrote back “That’s too bad. I enjoyed seeing pics of your kids and cute family. Take care.”

Talk about not getting it.  Let me translate:  “That’s too bad.  I enjoyed putting no effort into maintaining our relationship or acknowledging any of your Life Event Unlocking Moments, but when the fancy struck me I enjoyed being able to jump on FB and see your kids.”

News Flash: I already that with my Friends That Really Matter.  In other words, you’re not offering me anything I already don’t have but are expecting something from me.  Seriously?  Even a dog expects to be fed.  You don’t have to wish me happy birthday or High Five me for unlocking every Life Achievement, but over the course of a year, I’d expect some acknowledgement that I exist and have value.

About that History Repeating Itself Thing:

A similar thing happened recently at an event that reunited me with many from the No-Name Software Company.  Someone else I thought was a friend decided that it was better to spend the company dime on catching up with a friend they just spent the last weekend with and will likely spend some time with in the near future instead of sucking it up and talking to me for 30 minutes during the dinner portion of the event — even after promising that we would do so and I burned one of my rare hall passes to be out instead of home putting my kids to bed.  Yes technically it was my decision to stay out but it was influence by a promise someone apparently never intended to fulfill.

I did not wait 8 years to unfriend that one.

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Life Lessons, Social Maintenance

High School Reunions: I think I’ll sit the next few out

Photo Credit:  Jon Hanson

We have no F-ing clue who these people are Photo Credit: Jon Hanson

According to my Facebook feed this is High School Reunion time. A few years ago, I had to skip my 25th high school reunion because my wife wanted to go to Michigan to see her family. Everyone was going to be in the same place, ironically, because her parents were home for their high school reunion.  I’m not upset or even terrible disappointed at that outcome. In fact, it’s given me the perspective to consider skipping all of the future high school reunions.

My 30 year is coming up in 2017 and while I haven’t ruled it out, I’m fairly confident I won’t bother going.

In Heaven and at High School reunions, most of the interesting people are missing.* While high school was certainly better for me than junior high and grade school, it was a transition point, not an end station. Many people I know peaked in high school or college and then failed to launch.

My high school class started out with 409 members and ended with 217 making it to graduation. I’m not sure why we had such attrition at a Magnet high school that emphasized math and science and recruited/accepted only some of the best and brightest of students in the city. Our gangbanger population was a minority in and of itself.

What is the purpose of having so many reunions, 5 years apart. The 5 year is really just a last chance to hook up with your unrequited HS Crush. The 10 year is traditional, but after that, the next one should be 25 and then after that it’s essentially a Hunger Games version of graduation.

I missed the 5 year reunion because I had to work. Apparently 95% of those 217 had better things to do as well because more friends joined me for drinks afterwards than at the reunion picnic that afternoon.

Someone's unrequited HS Crush Photo Credit: Colin Charles

Someone’s unrequited HS Crush Photo Credit: Colin Charles

I think I skipped the 10 year because I was not in a “brag about your life at reunion” place in my life, although I think whomever was in charge screwed the pooch so to speak and the 10 year didn’t get the momentum you’d expect. It might have been one of those combo year reunions that are more popular: doesn’t matter what year you graduated or if you even graduated at all. Heck if you dated someone from our school for more than a semester, you’re welcomed.

Because of that disaster, I don’t think we held a 15 which is too bad because life was good for me 15 years after graduation. Some of the facts have been subsequently contested, but that was the version I read.

We got together informally for our 20th and a small contingent showed up. This was about 10 minutes before everyone was on FB so it was kinda cool. I even re acquainted with my HS biology lab partner though just like in high school, she disappeared after freshmen year.

The week of our 20th reunion I was changing jobs from the No-Name Software Company to the Low Rent Consulting Firm. So it would have been nice to see everyone and let them know that things have improved a lot. Except with FaceBook, I already am connected to the people I wanted to be — plus I get to avoid the one or two douchebags I would have had to deal with at the reunion.

 * Quote modified with respect to Friedrich Nietzsche


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Life Lessons, Pop Culture, Social Maintenance

Happy Birthday to me and Happy 100th Post on ChicagoNow

So today is my 45th Birthday and this is my 100th* post on ChicagoNow. When I started blogging on ChicagoNow, my wife Nightingale and I were in the process of seeking a larger, more family-friendly abode. So I was blogging about that. Then we found a house and I tried writing “in delay” about those experiences but it just was easier to go rogue and write about whatever strikes my fancy: Technology, Chicago Bears, Do It Yourself projects, Life in Corporate America, whatever. All with the blessing of the ChicagoNow Management.

“Another thing that became a habit after that year – When something funny, sad, silly, stupid, happy or ridiculous happens, don’t just stand there, write that blog post in your head. And then write it for real when you get home. Everything is blog material, once you start paying attention.” Fern Roney

ChicagoNow is kinda like Hogwarts for Bloggers. Before CN, many of us had personal blogs on Blogger, Typepad or even WordPress where we practiced our wizardry writing craft without really knowing what the hell we were doing. CN has given us a chance to hone our magic skills and flex our writing muscles while providing positive feedback, best practice advice and lots and lots of support. Many ChicagoNow bloggers have either abandoned or virtually ignored their previous blogs in lieu of the ChicagoNow ecosystem because Blogging is a lot of work. I still post on my personal blog when I have something to say that doesn’t fit in here or when I want to flesh something out first before bringing it here. I guess that’s the engineer in me, doing something in Beta before bringing it to Production.

It's so hard to find good free photos that I am exploiting my future children

It’s so hard to find good free photos that I am exploiting my future children

Blogging is a lot of work. I know I already said that, but it is so true.  Most of us are like SAHP, we don’t earn a salary but the rewards are immeasurable. Another difference between our private blogs and CN is that there is a slightly elevated formality that hopefully prompts you to up your writing game.

I’m not saying every post is gonna be the works of Shakespeare, Hemingway or Some_Other_Author you respect, I’m just posing that you definitely want to bring your best. For one thing, the ChicagoNow ecosystem has its own audience comprised mostly of twentysomethings who are reading your stuff on their phones while riding the El, hoping avoiding contact with other humans as long as possible (unless they are extremely TotsMeGoats, as the kiddies say).

To that end, you have post, like, share, tweet, rinse and repeat. It helps to collaborate with others in the blogging community if they are willing. You will wonder why they don’t like your page back when you like theirs. Sometimes it’s their security settings and you don’t see it. Other times, people suck, bloggers are people, and ergo ipso factor yolo!

Promoting your blog is almost if not more work than writing posts. Technically you don’t have to promote your blog and you certainly control the level of effort you put into it. However, I feel since CN gave me a platform from which to post, the least I can do is attempt to bringing pageviews so that the Mothership Tribune Corp doesn’t kick us to the curb.  [So please subscribe, share & like the fuck out of my blog!  Seriously, I’m asking for a like, not a kidney.]

And that brings about another important point. While the blog is ours, the platform belongs to someone else and it can be taken away at any time for any reason. On Superbowl Sunday, for instance, two of my blogger siblings duked it out using their blogs as the backdrop for their personal rivalry and paid the ultimate price: banishment from the ChicagoNow Universe.

Milestones and Small Victories

Here at ChicagoNow we have friendly contests each month for best post and gallery, and I’ve won each one once. I’ve also made it into the top 20 visited blogs a few times. And a couple of posts have been placed on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s online edition. I think I’ve even had the trifecta of making the Top 20, being the Community Manager Pick and being on the Tribune Front Page on the same day. Or maybe I imagined that. While it definitely is bragworthy and certainly means you’re doing something right, you should also act like you’ve been there before.  Besides, I’m happier when a reader simply  comments, or shares our post or likes our page or re-tweets or subscribes.  So please do that!


Things don’t always go as planned

*Confession: while I’m calling this my 100th post, it’s really number 102, not counting a post or two I deleted. The reason: I have some news to share and thought it would be cool if I timed it with my 100th post and posted on May 1. That didn’t happen for a variety of reasons which I’ll file under Life Gets in the Way.  I started drafting this post weeks ago as a “advice to new CN bloggers” onboarding post.  Instead, I’m using this post to share some personal news:  my wife and I are expecting Twins in October…or late September as I’ve learned from all the mommy bloggers here that twins come early.

As of right now I don’t plan to become a Daddy Blogger although I will most likely write posts about that.  My hope, like a lot of bloggers, is to someday write a best selling book or three. However, it’s more important that I be a Decent Dad instead of a Famous Father. So for now I will just blog whenever I can about whatever I have something to say all the while exercising and toning my writing muscles.

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Holidays, Social Maintenance

Holiday PSA: Evite Etiquette

Quick Quiz:  When you get an invitation that requests an RSVP, do you:

  • Immediately check your calendar and respond accordingly,
  • Wait until the last minute to make sure something else doesn’t suddenly pop up,
  • Something in between depending on who/what the sender/event is.

Most of us fall in that last category myself included. But I always strive, though sometimes fail, to be classy and graceful in my response, especially when the answer is “no.”  Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to be considerate of the hosts feelings when it comes to responding, or not responding, to an invitation.

EVITE Pet Peeves

Some people receive an EVITE, click on the URL, check their calendar and RSVP appropriately. These are healthy, well-adjusted people and I fear I don’t know many among the legions of people I call my friends. For others, responding to an EVITE seems to require an act of Congress.  As if responding too soon  might be perceived as too available.

Some people RSVP’ing by not RSVP’ing.   They figure you’ll figure it out when they don’t show up.

Others like to play the I’m too busy to even open the EVITE (probably because they know or EVITE lets the host know when someone has viewed the invitation). Unless you are working on the cure for Cancer, putting the finishing touches on your cold fusion generator, or solving World Hunger, your busy isn’t any more important than anyone else’s busy, Chester.

Finally there is the too-good-for-EVITE person. They get the EVITE, click on it but instead of just saying yes|no|maybe they send you an essay about why they cannot attend. Seriously, please get over yourself and quit being a drama queen.

People tend to overshare on their No-RSVPs. In some cases, they feel the need to come up with a good excuse like the dog ate their homework. In other cases, I would say they were raised by wolves, except that would sully the good reputation of wolves.  Listen, I know your probably thinking that it’s just a stupid invite to a dumb party and you don’t owe the host anything.   But that is what is wrong with society today.  This cavalier attitude.

Actually, you owe them a modicum of thoughtful consideration for their effort.  And not just the kind that doesn’t require getting up off the couch.  Even if the invite is from someone you barely know, who perhaps just invited the “whole group” so as not to leave anyone out, the polite, gracious thing to do is to decline without hurting the hosts’ feelings or insulting their intelligence.

Look at the following two responses:

Sorry, we can’t make it. Dennis is off hunting this weekend and my family and I are celebrating my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. Have a fabulous party and thanks for the invite!! Happy holidays!!!

Would be fine if she skipped the part from Dennis to birthday. It’s extraneous, unnecessary and a much classier response without it.

Sounds like fun, unfortunately I’ll probably be packing for my end of year getaway. Hope the tree turns out fantastic!

Okay so you’re missing a party because you have to pack? What he’s really saying is that he’s so busy that the only time he has to pack a suitcase is this particular evening, it’s very understandable but at the same time, you’re saying a suitcase outranks a party.

Sorry,  can’t make it. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

This one is perfect. Can’t make it, no need to mention why not. Wishing you well.

Here’s a clue hint: Unless you are trying to not-so-subtly send the message that you want to be left off the invite list next year, simply say something like “thank you for the invite but unfortunately I cannot make it” or “so sorry to miss it.”

Unless you are out of town, posting what you are doing instead of attending someone’s event isn’t cushioning the blow, it’s insulting the host. You’re basically boasting that you are choosing to do something else. Hey, if you want to stay home and masturbate that’s your prerogative, but you do not need to share it with everybody on Evite.

And the 11th hour cancellations! Please.

We live in a Don’t have a Good Excuse so I’ll Make you listen to a Bad One Society. When you decline an invitation you’re not obligated to provide a reason. If you must, be polite, considerate and graceful. Don’t say you’re just gonna stay in and get some things done or go see a movie. Simply say that you aren’t able to make it.

…but thanks for the invite is invitation-ese for “please don’t invite me to anything else.”

Let me know when your next event is” is invitation-ese for “I’m sorry for being such a donk, please invite me next time and I’ll do a better job of making it.’

I’d write more but I have a stack of EVITE to look through!
Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below. Here’s the part where I beg for stuff because we get paid in likes, shares, re-tweets and feedback. Please also do any and all of the following:

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