2008-12-29

American Kids These Days Are Lazy




I mean I wasn't living in poverty when I was a child. I bet when they reach 18 they'll want some sort of free government money instead of enrolling in a good college or university like I did. If only they'd take some personal responsibility like the good people at Bear Stearns AIG Fannie Mae GM Ford the banking industry... ok I'll have to get back to you on that one.

This chart also confirms that we are not in the least like those crazy socialists in Scandinavia. And thank God because next thing you know someone will try and link education level to household income and we all know that's crazy.

2008-12-24

12 Firms A Failing


In case any of you are out shopping and can't find your favorite store or walk in to work after the holidays and see that your company logo has changed, I thought I'd send out a list of new firm logos to watch out for in the upcoming year.

It's funny because it's true.













2008-12-23

Top Tracks of 2008


The only thing that generally comes out of making a list is that everybody will think your list is bollocks (sorry for the Brit slang...just saw Oasis a couple days ago). I have seen the list by Pitchfork of best albums of 2008, and despite being a music snob myself, I have heard of maybe 10% of the bands they picked. They honestly must pick albums that nobody has heard of simply to be difficult and try to put themselves on a pedestal. I'm not taking the bait, Pitchfork. On the other end of the spectrum, you have your bubble gum pop magazines like Blender, who basically pick the top ten selling albums as their albums of the year. Well, im going to try to land somewhere in between.

If you disagree, you are wrong.

10) You Won't Be Fooled By This- Albert Hammond Jr.- A very solid second effort from Hammond. This guy has been great on two albums, which makes me fear the Strokes are officially done forever. If that's the case, I hope Hammond has a few more albums. This album is perfect driving music.

9)The Kooks- See The Sun- nothing mind-blowing, but a catchy tune by a very solid band

8) Counting Crows- You Can't Count on Me- a very honest song about explaining to somebody that despite your best efforts, you still are (sadly) unreliable

7) TI (feat Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye, MIA)- Swagger Like Us- For two reasons

a) the beat is absolute smoke
b) Jay Z rips the best rap verse of the year

6) Sigur Ros- Gobbledigook- The background drums are relentless, the guitar chords catchy, the words unintelligible. There is no possible way you don't love this song.

5) Bon Iver- Skinny Love- the most popular song off a very emotionally raw and emotive album.


4) Kings of Leon- Sex on Fire- While I disagree with most critics that this album was one of the top of the year, I do agree that this song is a stellar track.

3) Kanye West- Street Lights- anyone that says the new K. West album is bad is plain wrong. West really allows his vulnerable emotional side to shine through in this effort. Street Lights is a reflective effort that will make you think about your life.

2) Oasis- I'm Outta Time- Despite largely being ignored by the US, the Gallaghers continue to churn out better rock and roll tunes than anybody else. If they interacted more with their fans, they would be bigger and more loved than Coldplay, because their music is far superior. The songwriting talent is top notch in this track.

1) MGMT- Kids- These guys couldn't possibly have been more tailor made for ipods of hipsters and hipster wannabes. Their synthesized music is catchy and enjoyable. I can listen to this song thirty times in a row and be just as excited about it the thirtieth time. I guarantee you will catch yourself singing "control yourself....take only what you neeeeeeeeed from it," for at least a week after listening to this track.

2008-12-18

Forgotten Christmas Songs That Should Never Have Been Forgotten


So it seems earlier and earlier each year that the sounds of Christmas music can be heard wherever you go. Whether it be flipping through the radio while waiting in the Long John Silver's drive-thru, or through the tinny speakers of your local barber's radio from 19-dickety-2, December is a time to unabashedly hum along to your favorite Xmas tune (personal vote for rockin around the Christmas tree).

On top of the classic Christmas songs, it seems that every year more recording artists try to pad their pockets by releasing a Christmas album. In fact, the past two months alone have seen Christmas releases from both Weezer and Aretha Franklin. But why should we leave the holiday tunes to Tony Bennett, John Tesh, or even Brian McKnight??? Since the holidays are all about sharing, or something like that, shouldn't everybody be able to record a holiday album and sell it for $18.99. The answer is a resounding yes, and they have in droves. We at OSS have compiled a list of holiday music that while no less desirable (probably more desirable) is a bit left of center.

1) Ying-Yang Twins- The Ying and Yang of the Holidays

It would be a shame if the young men who brought you "Shake it Like a Salt Shaker," "Wait (The Whisper Song," and "Whistle While You Twerk," did not put out a Christmas song. You can stop worrying....they have...and it's glorious!




2)Nate Dogg- Be Thankful (from the Christmas on Death Row Album)

The man who has made a career of singing hooks on Regulators, 50's 21 Questions, and Ludarcris' Area Codes has taken the time out to Be Thankful. Is he thankful for other people making music so he can sing a hook and collect a check? Is he thankful for Warren G giving him his start? The answer is it doesn't matter because this song is so intoxicatingly good that all these questions will fall on deaf ears.



3) David Hasselhoff- We Wish You a Merry Christmas

It is absolutely one hundred percent imperative that, especially when singing Christmas songs, you must never hassle the man called Hoff.




2008-12-17

What is Your Favorite Christmas Special?


Throughout my childhood, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season (besides celebrating the birth of Christ, getting out of school, family, and food) were the Christmas specials. The mid-90's were a little too saturated with Tim Allen flicks for anyone's liking, so hopefully that didn't spoil your taste for the genre. Whether it was watching TBS' 24 hours rerun-a-thon of "A Christmas Story" or taking part of the annual "Grinch Watching Party" in college, Christmas specials will always hold a special place in my heart. So on that note, here's a few compilations for you to enjoy this holiday season.

If you are at work and unable to access Youtube, then I apologize. For everyone else, enjoy!


Most Under-Appreciated Childhood Specials:


The Christmas Toy


This clip is reason #1001 why I love youtube. I've been trying to remember the name of this movie for years, and finally found it. There is only one clip available online unfortunately, but even this quick 30 second clip should jog your memory for this often forgotten childhood favorite (assuming you were a child in the mid-80's).



It's available here for purchase in case you're looking for a last minute gift.



Frosty the Snowman

I think I speak for all of us when I say that the part when Frosty melts in the end brings a tear to my eye even to this day.




Mickey's Christmas Carol

The way Charles Dicken's would've wanted it.




Most Overplayed:

A Christmas Story

Though "You'll shoot your eye out" is the more often quoted scene, the first time I saw the Asian man in this clip cut the head off of the duck when I was young is a memory I'll never forget.





How the Grinch Stole Christmas
In case you're tired of this holiday classic, try taking a drink everytime you hear the word "hoo" or "who". For an added bonus, watch it twice and invite all your friends over for an annual get together (this idea was stolen from my old roommates in college... thanks Rob and Mike).





Home Alone
I love this movie just as much as the next guy, but it is definitely overplayed these days. Thankfully no one replays Home Alone 3 (that movie was terrible).





Christmas Movies That Will Never Get Old:

Christmas Vacation
A movie so good, it deserves two clips.








Elf
Will Farrell. Bob Newhart. James Caan. What more could you want from a Christmas movie?




Love Actually
This clip is a little cheesy, but the movie still holds up. Plus I figured I'd allow at least one romantic comedy into the mix. Andrea was on movie probation for a month after choosing "The Holiday" as a rental when we first started dating. Most of those things are trite, cliche, and absolutely terrible.





It's a Wonderful Life
This movie always reminds me of Christmas at my grandmother's house as a kid. It's a great movie, but more nostalgic in nature than anything else.





A Charlie Brown Christmas
Is there a more well-remembered tv moment based almost entirely on scripture? I think not.





Favorite Christmas Related TV Episode:

Seinfeld
A Festivus for the rest of us!

2008-12-16

On The 4th Day of Christmas... LIGHTS!


Well not lights in the traditional white or multi-colored twinkling kind (I always preferred the multi-colored ones) but lights in the sense of awesome, 3D, projection moving kind.

I bring to you the genius of Easyweb.

You have to click on that link to view their video, but it is worth it. They take large performance type art to a whole other level by taking the shapes and angles of a building and projecting moving images onto it, creating a sense of objects moving behind or out of the physical building.

One of the most impressive effects they create are huge bouncing balls being poured over the top of the building, hitting the windows and ledges that are actually on the building.

Forget the neighborhood techy synchronizing his house lights to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, let's get these guys over to the States to show us how it is really done.

Simply amazing.

2008-12-15

The Santa Con


I was in New York City this weekend, and it changed my world.  However, my epiphany was not because of the City itself, it was because of Santa Clause.  On Saturday night I went out to get some food and a drink, and as I was walking around I noticed a group of people all dressed in Santa outfits.  I didn't think much of it at first, but I found out later that they were part of something incredible, something spectacular, something called Santacon.   


This yearly "convention" happens in cities all over the world, from Boston to Belfast to Beijing. Essentially, a large group of otherwise unaffiliated people get dressed up as St. Nick, and stumble around whatever city they happen to be in, to spread good cheer and drink good beer.  Santa's are encouraged to bring gifts for children they see as they migrate from bar to bar and, in New York this year, participants were asked to bring a canned food item to donate.  

The Rules and Guidelines of the convention are all hilarious, and as I read them, I felt pretty certain that each year one or all of them gets broken.  My favorites: "Don't be 'that' Santa" and "Santa does not get arrested."  

Those of you who are more culturally savvy than I am might have known about Santacon for years, but if not,  Santacons are still happening over the next week, so check to see if and when the joy is being spread in your city.  According to the site, I missed the DC Santacon by a week, but it's already on my calendar for next year.

So it turns out that Santa really does exist, and even he enjoys a pint every now and then.        


2008-12-14

We've resorted to throwing shoes??


I found this incident too good to pass up, although it is not Christmas related.  President Bush makes a surprise trip to Iraq, and gets a pair of shoes hummed at him by a crazy Iraqi reporter.  While both shoes missed, this could have had very interesting implications.


What if the shoes had hit him square in the face and bloodied his nose?  He would have had an interesting impasse.  Would the leader of the free world ended the press conference and simply made a press statement.  Or would he simply have wiped his nose with a towel and adamantly demanded that the interview go on as scheduled.

Much like a hockey player, I believe W would have chosen the latter.  However, it is definitely clear that Austin Powers never made its way to Iraq, because, honestly who throws a shoe???

2008-12-13

On the First Day of Christmas


Today marks both the official 12 days before Christmas countdown as well as the beginning of the 12 Days Before Christmas posting spree here at the OSS. Over the next 12 days, your favorite blogging foursome will strive to bring you some of the best Christmas shopping ideas/tips to help alleviate some of the tension that holiday shopping inevitably places upon all of us. Now I do realize that many of you have already completed your shopping, but many others (including myself) have only just begun. So with that in mind I bring you Day #1...


Amazon's Free Lunch Program

One of the most ubiquitous phrases used in public education is that there is no such as thing as a free lunch; with the basic idea being that everything comes with a price. Well, thanks to the likes of Amazon's Affiliate Program that idea has been stretched to it's absolute limit... at least for those of us who feel obligated to thoroughly research every major purchase.

The basic premise of this program is that affiliates (websites, blogs, etc...) recieve a percentage of all purchases made through their referrals. And what this means to you and I is that we can get paid for taking the time to write a referral or post a link to a product that we like, enjoy, or think would be worthwhile. You could even start a blog with the sole purpose of putting up links to some of the top selling items online.

Here's how the program works, let's say you have a book lover in the family? Well perhaps they'd enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's latest work "Outliers" detailing (among other things) how luck and one's natural environment can predispose each of us for greatness:




Have a teenager living with you at the moment? I realize that another video game system may be the last thing you want to buy, but it's a safe assumption that Rockband 2 for the Xbox 360 is probably on their list:




Or maybe you are shopping for a guys' guy who really wants nothing more than to simply watch NFL games on a 46 inch flat-screen TV while checking his fantasy football stats:





The program requires nothing more than people shopping as the would otherwise, with the only added step of clicking on the referral links above. The point I'm making with this initial entry is to raise awareness to the fact that the internet now provides those who are willing to put in the extra effort to receive a reward for your time and effort.

During tough economic times like we're in at the moment, isn't it nice to think that you could receive a reward simply for telling others what products are worth buying this Christmas season? So with that in mind, check back here over the next 11 days and hopefully you will find something that tickles your fancy.

Merry Christmas!

2008-12-12

Dallas Date Night Extravaganza!


This post is brought to you in part by Kristi (soon to be Mrs. Knight) Dansereau

Since this is Friday and most of you are currently sending out emails/texts and frantically making plans for tonight or trying to think of something unique for you and your significant other to do, here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing. Though this post is specifically for anyone within shouting distance of the 214 area code, please feel free to tailor the following ideas to the city in which you reside. It should also be noted that all of the restaurants or activities noted below come highly recommended by those of here at the OSS. Any further ideas should be added to the comment section below.


Idea #1: Named Deep Ellum Delight

Dinner: Twisted Root (burgers, but they have buffalo burgers too so you don't have to be TOO unhealthy)

After: Double Wide for some Yahoo Yoohoos and Lonestars!


Idea #2: Named Kristi's Christmas Cookie Bonanza!

Dinner: Dinner at the apartment

After: Christmas cookie making and decorating / movie


Idea #3
: Named Date Night Doozy

Dinner: Pizza at Coal Vines

After: A movie at Northpark


Idea #4: Named Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Rewind

Dinner: Pizza at Louie's

After: Drinks and Giant Jenga at Barcadia


Idea #5: Might Be Freezing Freezing-fest

Dinner: Royal Thai

After: Top Golf


Idea #6: Oak Cliff Cool Fun

Dinner: Bolsa or Cliff Cafe

After: Lee Harvey's
#77403

2008-12-11

A Cautionary Tale


So there are generally two ways to walk home from the metro stop that I live near. One goes past normal row houses (the safe way), and the other passes a 7-11 and lots of projects (the unsafe way). Last night, on my walk home after procuring some Potbelly, the traffic lights didnt align to go the safe way, so I impatiently decided the unsafe way was a fair option. Mistake.

I get a block down the street when I see a man about thirty feet in front of me making erratic movements and shouting "I gotta get some money before I go to jail!" Interesting. i continue on my path when I was passing in front of the 7/11 doorway, this crazy guy says "hey man give me some change!" Now, I already have a bit of distaste about being hassled for money due to my time living near Tompkins Square Park in NY (look it up on wikipedia), so I was not in the mood to waste any time with this guy. Plus, I had a hot Potbelly sandwich in my hand, and a cold Mountain Dew waiting for me at the house that needed much more urgent attention. I half-heartedly fished in my pockets while still walking, and said "sorry brah, no change," without giving it a second thought. This did not suffice for the crazy man.

Said man then stepped in front of me and gave me a two handed shove and shouted "give me some dollars then!" After briefly wondering why he didn't ask for what he really wanted in the first place, I sort of froze for a minute out of shock. I said, "here brah, have my chips." He then looked at my hands...one of which was toting a sandwich and the other, chips. He then swipes at my hands and takes my Utz brand Salt 'n Vinegar chips which I love so dearly. I found this a bit odd since I had just offered to give him my chips, yet he found the need to "steal" them from me. I tell the gentleman, "take the chips, but you aren't getting any money from me," or something like that in what in my mind was a very stern and threatening tone, but in actuality was probably a startled, crackly voiced, unintelligible whimper. I start walking back from whence I came to go the safe way, and he follows, yelling at me to give him money. I turned around to continue the diatribe I had previously begun, when this man went for the knockout blow and took a swipe at my sandwich.

However, little did this kook know, I have reflexes like a cat. If fact, my reflexes are so quick my brain often can't keep up with my body, forcing such unfortunate events as tripping over my own feet and making numerous typos. Whilst in mid-swipe for my sandwich, he left my view of the bag of chips wide open, much like a boxer throwing a haymaker and leaving his body open for a huge uppercut. I capitalized on this mistake and quickly moved the sandwich out of the way, and in the same motion, swiped back the delicious green and yellow bag full of fried potato goodness. At this point, he realized that his overzealousness had left him with no money, no sandwich, and absolutely not a single trace of salt 'n vinegar chips. I stared him down, and defiantly continued on my path down the unsafe way home.

What have I learned from this? First and foremost, I have learned that I still love salt 'n vinegar chips. I have also learned that the unsafe way is the unsafe way for a reason. What did he learn from this? Well, he's left with only questions. Why wasn't I fast enough to get the sandwich? How was he quick enough to grab the chips back? Am I that much slower than I used to be? Should I have taken his word when he said he didn't have any change? How did I get pwned so badly??

These, as well as countless others, are questions that will keep him up at night.

Me....well....I slept well with a belly full of Potbelly goodness that tasted just a bit better than normal.

Keeping my head on a swivel so you don't have to,

Chris

2008-12-08

Tis the Season


OneStopSchop Editor's Note:

Occasionally there are those we come in contact with whose story bares repeating. With that in mind comes the following guest post by first time blogger and personal friend Jacob Born. I asked if he would be willing to share his story here because I think it’s a story that would inspire many as well as one that most people could identify with, as it is based on a calling for something greater. The difference though is that his story begins where so many others end; with a response.


When we first met to discuss his new career path, I realized that the least I could do, in addition to supporting him through my own gifts and prayers, would be to share his story with those who follow this site. I have no connection with NEXT Worldwide, and I only ask that you read through the following post and consider whether this is something that is on your heart to support. All donations are tax deductible.



To God be the Glory

by Jacob Born


I grew up probably like most American kids, in an average family with big dreams to make a whole lot of money someday. I went to college, got a degree, and set out to make the big bucks. I got a well-paying job in the financial industry and figured that it would be just a matter of time before the Lord put me in touch with the “right people” who would then put me on the fast track to success. I had my vision and then God could work within it. After all, couldn’t I reach a lot more people for the Lord if I held a place of prominence and wealth in the world? (Not to mention, I’d be comfortable as well). That was my mindset.


Well, the problem for me was that God didn’t make me to be a banker and I knew it. God had given me a desire to impact the world for Him, and though I knew something in the ministry might be what He had in mind, if it didn’t involve me being wealthy I simply ignored it. After many conversations with Him and long nights spent lying in bed telling Jesus how my plan would work, I finally turned my will over to the Lord and began asking what His plan was. You see, I believe God gives us windows of opportunity in our lives where we have the opportunity to affect people of certain age groups the most. At age 25, I am just now entering my prime to make an impact on the youth of America, and I finally realized that I would rather look back on my life 10 years from now and know that I had used that time to point hundreds of kids to Christ rather than look back and say, “Hey, I’ve got a great house, some cool cars, and all these things.” I didn’t want to miss out on this window of opportunity in order to selfishly pursue things that will not fulfill me. I want to make an eternal difference.


So, after several months of searching into a number of different organizations, the Lord brought me to Next Worldwide. Next Worldwide is a church-planting organization that partners with churches across the US to take their youth groups abroad to practice door-to-door evangelism and to plant churches internationally. Our goal in taking these youth groups abroad is to give them a new perspective on their Christian faith and to see that actively living out the gospel is what we are called to do as Christians. There is more to it than just making a personal decision that they keep to themselves, it’s about being ready and willing to give people an answer for the hope that is in them --- Christ!


Our hope is that they would overcome their timidity and/or fear of telling others about Christ as a teenager so that they have the rest of their lives to make an impact. So many kids walk away from these trips with a new outlook on their Christian walk. We plant churches in other countries by partnering with local church bodies that agree to lead and help shepherd new church plants in their respective communities. The churches are then comprised of the new believers that result from the door-to-door evangelism. We are currently focusing on Central / South America, Africa, and Europe (we are also currently starting a domestic mission branch and an Asian branch in the near future).


Leadership development training is another avenue by which Next Worldwide prepares the next generation to spread the good news. On each mission trip, the youth will complete a training course designed to help them to see who God has uniquely made them to be, and we then show them how they can use their God-given personalities and gifts to impact others for Christ. Our goal is not to make all of these kids into full-time missionaries; that’s simply unrealistic. Rather our focus is on helping each person understand how they can use their gifts to impact the kingdom of God. Our desire is for these kids to live missionally so that wherever they end up, they will help bring others a living hope!


So that’s where God has brought me. My wife and I have spent a great amount of time praying about this and we are confident this is where the Lord is calling us. NEXT is based out of Frisco, Texas and I will live here in the states to organize and lead these trips abroad. It’s a full-time job but I have to raise my own support to live, just like everyone else in the organization. This has been a huge point of spiritual growth for my wife and I, as we now (more than ever) have to literally trust that the Lord will provide for us financially through the giving of others. It’s a scary thought but it is an exciting place to be.


If what we are doing at Next is something that resonates in your heart and you would like to help support us in this ministry it would be a blessing to have you on our support team. We have been raising support for the past 2 months and still have a long way to go. We believe that God has called us to this and as a result will provide the funding for us to live, and my hope is that God would bring us at least 1 new giver as a result of this blog posting. If you don’t feel called to give that’s fine, but would you take a moment to pray that God would use this ministry to positively influence thousands of people for Christ and that He would provide the support for us?


Also, if you know of a youth group or youth pastor that you think would like to partner with us then I would be happy to contact them. Next does not have an affiliation with any particular denomination but partners with all evangelical Christian churches.


Please let Mike know if you would like to get in touch with me and he can give you my contact information. (OSS: If it is please email me at onestopschop@gmail.com or visit http://www.nextworldwide.org/donate.php, and select “I would like to give to a Next Staff Member”, and type in Jacob Born).


Thanks and God Bless!

-Jake



UPDATE: This experience has led me to start a website based around the idea of what it means to be a "cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7) by focusing on donating to those who are immersed in missional living. The website is called MissionalGiving.com, and if you know of or are someone who works in this field, please direct them to the site. My ultimate goal is to create a network that seamlessly connects potential donors with those working in the field of missions and are in need of financial assistance.

2008-12-06

OU-Texas BCS Controversy


In honor of tonight's Big 12 Championship Game, via the DMN:

Karaoke Rage



A lot of things that are normal occurrences in Asia would be simply unbelievable anywhere else.  Karaoke Rage is one of them.  According to this article, "There have been several reported cases of singers being assaulted, shot or stabbed mid-performance, usually over how songs are sung."  What?  Although, you do have to give some respect for people who take the art of ridiculous singing seriously.  I mean, is there one of us out there that has not fumed over our favorite Pat Benatar song being butchered by some amateur?  I know I have.  But then again,  I have never thought about stabbing the jerk because of it.  Outrageous.    

2008-12-05

Happy Ivey Day


5 years ago on this day, a cymbal clock was promised to one man by three roommates as a celebratory offering for his day of birth.

Sadly, that clock never came to be. Probably because of laziness and drinking. What can we say, it was college.

But today I would like to offer a metaphorical clock of my own.

We should all take a second to wish the founder of OSS and resident politicite/drummer/tall man/chocolatier Mike Ivey a happy 27th birthday today.

While Mike's coming to this world trumps all other, here's a quick rundown of events taking place on Dec. 5th:

  • Walt Disney was born (1901)

  • National Prohibition came to an end (1933)

  • The first US fraternity was organized (1776)

  • 8th President, and founder of the Van Buren Boys, Martin Van Buren was born (1782)


Happy Birthday Buddy, you're a true master of karate and friendship for everyone.

2008-12-04

I Was Just Accepted to MIT!!


OK not really, but thanks to the wonders of the open-source web we can now all at least feel like we have graduated from one of the nation's top technical universities. And it doesn't come a moment too soon, as the graph below (via Barry Ritholz) reveals just how high the cost of higher education has soared over the past 25 years.

As anyone in Med-school could probably attest to, maybe education reform should trump healthcare reform in the Obama administration.

Happy Hova Day



Every year on this day, people come together to celebrate the coming of the great man, Shawn Corey Carter. Otherwise known as Jay Z.


So get that dirt of yo' shoulders and bust out the Cris'. Here's to you, J.

2008-12-02

The Perfect Honeymoon


The past several weeks have been extremely chaotic for me personally. Partly because of the market, partly due to work related issues, and partly because I've spent the better part of my free time researching honeymoon locations now that my wedding is just under 4 months away. Trip Advisor has been my best friend throughout this process, however their biggest failure is that you typically can't tell if a bad review is nothing more than an old person getting all cranky because someone forgot to bring them their coffee at 5:30 am or if the restaurant wasn't ready for dinner at 4 pm. Friends have helped along the way, but I also tend to want to experience something new and have purposefully sought to avoid visiting a place that someone just returned from. With that in mind, I've devised a short list of 5 steps to ensure that your honeymoon research goes a bit more smoothly than mine. 


1. Timing 

It is everything as they say and since clearly it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to go on a honeymoon in July if your wedding is in January, be sure to double check with your bride to be and MIL (mother in law) prior to paying thousands of dollars for something that could very well end up getting you into trouble. So tip #1 is simply, finalize the wedding date first. More importantly however, DO NOT get married before April. 


Why? Because peak season ends March 31 and you'll end up spending at least $100+ more per night than you would on April 1. The rates get more exaggerated on the higher end resorts, so if you are young and want to stay at a 5-star in St. Lucia, heed this warning. Conversely, you run the risk of traveling during a hurricane if you get married in late summer so talk to your future spouse and figure out which is more important, money or hurricanes. 


2. Expectations

After you get engaged, the #1 most often repeated bit of information you receive is the importance of open and honest communication. If you or your future spouse can’t say things like “I want to lie on the beach and sip cocktails” or “I want to take a cruise through the Mediterranean” or “I want to go camping” then maybe you should re-evaluate some things. Set a clear expectation on what you want out of what will almost without a doubt be the most expensive vacation you'll take up till then. 


Plus the last thing you would want is for your future wife to expect a week at a private over-water villa in Tahiti when all you can afford is a week on the Gulf Coast in Alabama. All-inclusives are great but usually restrict you to the resort and are more expensive. It is worth noting that if you do not plan on drinking a lot or eating until you're blue in the face, all-inclusives may not make sense for you. Plus by avoiding the added cost, you'll save yourself some scratch if you plan ahead and/or simply opt for the Euro-Plan. Which leads me to my next tip...


3. Stick to the Budget

If you are like me then you have the misfortune of constantly weighing the marginal cost of every purchase. This is why I drive a used car, live in an apartment, and watch a 30" TV. This is also one reason why Andrea and I are so great together; things don't really excite us very much. But we both love to travel and don't mind spending a little more to ensure that we have a great time. If you do not share this trait or are strapped for cash, then budget, budget, budget. As a CPA I cannot stress that enough. Plus the last thing you'll want to do is argue about money while you're lying on a beach or ignore the budget all together only to realize that you've maxed out your credit cards.


If you are horrible at budgeting, then I strongly recommend you head over to Mint.com and sign-up for their free service. It is a fantastic site, though you may want to avoid looking at your investment account right now. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.


4. The Location

Prior to booking any vacation, you have to research them on Trip Advisor. I mentioned their downside at the top of this post, but reading through a handful of reviews should give you a good idea of what to expect. If money is no object however, then you can simply stick with Conde Nast's list of the Top 100 Hotels in the world. Click on the location you desire, and book the hotel at the top of the list. 


However if #3 above is an important factor for you (and these days how can it not be), then cost will ultimately drive your decision. In that case I strongly recommend checking out The All Inclusive Outlet. They have a great range of selections and are significantly cheaper than booking through the hotel directly. Right now their #1 choice is the El Dorado Royale which has come highly recommended by a few friends of mine as well (the casita suite is well worth the extra $$). 


If Europe is more your cup of tea or if you are looking for a private villa instead of a crowded resort, then I'd strongly recommend checking out VRBO.com. They have the best selection of apartments for rent within every city center and typically provide the best alternatives to 5-star hotels which run upwards of 500 -1000 Euros / night.


For everyone else who simply wants the most bang for the buck, then you should check out Unforgettable Honeymoons. Whether you are considering a trip to the CaribbeanCentral AmericaFiji, or Bora Bora, they've got you covered. They have vacation packages ranging from $500 / person to over $5000 / person, and one of their extremely courteous staffers will walk through your budget and expectations to generate a convenient list of ideas for you to look through at your leisure.


5. Reaching Your Destination

The lion's share of the work put into honeymoon research is focused on the hotel itself, and rightfully so. However, once you've booked the perfect honeymoon at that remote eco-friendly resort in Central America, you have to consider how to get there. At this point you have to consider flight times, connections, and hotel transfers. Long flights and remote locations may be beautiful once you're there, but remember how tired you'll feel at 6am the morning after the wedding. Here's a quick story that best exemplifies the problems created by remote destinations...


The Maldives Islands are spectacular and are typically voted as the #1 honeymoon destination in the world. The only problem? The flight (and it's sinking). A former colleague of mine was recently married in San Francisco, and then set out for her honeymoon at one of the Maldives 5-star resorts. The only thing separating them from their destination were their 6 connections (San Fran - NYC, NYC - London, London-Dubai, Dubai-India, India-The Maldives, and a Ferry ride to their resort)


A couple delays on legs #2 & #3 and their Tuesday arrival was pushed to Thursday. The importance of the flight cannot be overlooked. Weigh your options carefully, and be sure to include flight times when you are setting your expectations for the trip. 


5a. Relax and Have Fun

Congratulations, you've just gotten married to the person of your dreams. Don't forget that when you're sitting in an airport on 4 hours sleep, or if you're spending your honeymoon in Mexico during Spring Break. All that planning paid off, your guests had a great time, and now you get to drink a Miami Vice while sitting on the beach. So take a deep breath and realize that no matter where you end up going, the honeymoon is not about going to the best or the most exotic location, it's about spending time with the person you love... or something to do with drinking mead for a month. I'll leave that decision up to you.

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