Home (and Back) For the Holidays

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Garden State

Originally uploaded by sogrady.

Greetings and Happy Holidays to you all. I say ‘Holidays’ because somehow, in a process that’s not entirely clear (or welcome) to me, saying Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah is insulting. A friend of mine at dinner a few nights ago was explaining how inappropriate Christmas trees actually are, contending that they’re intimately tied to one specific religion and thus are exclusionary. Personally, trees remind me of Christianity about as much as carved pumpkins remind me of the Samhain, but so be it. Whatever you choose to celebrate this holiday season, enjoy.

Anyhow, I spent last weekend back home in the Garden State visiting my family. Those of you who’ve come to regard uneventful travel on my part as a sign of an imminent apocalypse will heartened to learn that neither my outbound nor my return trip was without incident. The outbound was the most absurd. Here are the lessons learned from that debacle:

  1. Do not try and park at DIA two days before Christmas – get a ride, take Super Shuttle, walk – anything but park
  2. If you’re dumb enough to try and park at the airport, do not plan on arriving only an hour and a half before your flight
  3. Most definitely do not park in the off airport Pike’s Peak lot when it has been closed and has no shuttle service
  4. When there is not shuttle service at the aforementioned Pike’s Peak lot, and you’re going to have to hoof it across the lot, do not park in section WW, more than a half mile from the exit
  5. If you’re going to have to sprint through the airport, flip flops are not the ideal footwear. Not only are they poorly engineered for such activity, they make a hell of a lot of noise
  6. If you show up at the counter 40 minutes before a flight two days before Christmas, do not expect to get a seat assignment

In my defense, I was a bit preoccupied the morning of my flight with a couple of things that needed my attention, but overall the trip out can only be termed a poor start to my holiday sojourn.

Once in NJ, however, the holiday was quite enjoyable. My Mom, as she is wont to do, went crazy and baked enough cookies to kill a couple of dozen people; my brother and I spent most of the couple of days we were home locked in the grip of a powerful food coma. She also, as is the custom in the O’Grady family, decorated the house with some of our childhood art (if your curious about my artistic abilities, this is actually one of my better efforts). The day itself was quite rewarding, as I was the happy recipient of a couple of books, some furnishings for the apartment, a new GPS unit, one of the new video playing iPods, and more. My Dad was lucky enough to get a new Nikon D70S from Mom; I’ll be watching closely to see how he likes it. In the end, the gift giving process was marred only by a shocking failure on the part of Amazon.

My brother, for reasons unknown, listed a pants press as one of the items he’d like to receive for Christmas. Given my nearly universal positive experiences with Amazon as a retailer during both the holiday and non-holiday seasons, I headed there and ordered him one. According to Amazon, it would arrive prior to Christmas and all would be well. Unfortunately, upon my touchdown in NJ, I was informed that no such package had turned up. After tracking down the shipment via Amazon & UPS, I learned that it had indeed been delivered the day before – to some address in Harrisburg, PA. Given that my family doesn’t live at that address, the situation was less than ideal. I confirmed first that Amazon had the correct ship to address, and then emailed them in an effort to discover why a package intended to be shipped to the O’Grady family in New Jersey instead was signed for by someone named Farner in Pennsylvania. What did I get in response? The following note:

We’re writing to confirm that we have processed your refund for
$###.## for the above-referenced order.

This amount should appear as a credit on your next credit card statement. For more information about this refund, please visit Your Account (http://www.amazon.com/your-account) to view the
above-referenced order. Completed returns and refunds will appear at the bottom of the order summary page…

We hope this is a satisfactory resolution for you. However, if you have any questions or concerns, please use this link to contact Customer Service:


Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

Given that it was the day before Christmas, I wouldn’t really call that ‘resolution’ satisfactory. In the end, I ended up heading to a golf outlet with my brother and all was well, but the situation could have been handled better. All that said, however, this is the first time ever in my interactions with Amazon that something like this has happened, so I’ll chalk it up to a one time occurence.

Anyhow, because I’d waited too long to book my flight – I was trying to work a Maine visit in as well – I found myself heading back to Denver first thing Monday morning. My Newark to Dallas leg was more or less straightforward, apart from the standard American overbooking, but the Dallas to Denver run featured a delay of about an hour for a mechanical problem. While the initial read on said problem (a missing seal on the wing) was that it would prevent us from taking off, they concluded after about an hour that it was actually “within tolerances” so we took off with no repair. Comforting.

This week, I’ve got few trips or the like planned – except for a quick run to Cheyenne on Friday, but am instead just hanging around Denver getting some household stuff done, spending time with friends, etc. This weekend, I’ll be up in in the mountains in Grand Lake for New Year’s as I have been for the past, oh, 6 or 7 years. And next week I’ll probably try to hit Keystone or Evergreen for some outside time. What I won’t be doing is work, so if you email and/or call I hope you’ll forgive me if I get back to you after my vacation.

Meanwhile, enjoy your vacation – or if you’re working, the relative quiet of the holidays. I’ll check in if/when I have something worth reporting. If you don’t hear from me before then, have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s. – sog


  1. I’ve had a similar experience with Amazon UK. I ordered a package from them and five days later received an unrequested refund. When I followed the links, they claimed they had tried to deliver the item to me and I had not been in to accept it. I was in, there was no card left as would normally happen with a failed delivery, and there was no attempt to re-deliver. Seems to me that something bad happened and they wanted to brush over it as fast as possible. When I enquired what had happened, I just got cut & paste responses.

    Summary: When they work, they are great, but their willingness to explain and make amends is seriously lacking when they screw up.

  2. About Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan and the rest of all that, people should find real problems to worry about, IMO. this trend of being politically correct is getting ridiculous, …
    Oh, BTW, The Christmas tree is as Catholic as the act of eating bread (and, it’s probably the same age).
    As for Amazon, thanks to EU import taxes from the US, my experience is limited to amazon.co.uk but, both times (out of dozens of orders I made there) I had some problem with my order, I got the item shiped again and an appologie. Returning purshases here is a nightmare (and usually involves some level of shouting) so, my standards may be low but, amazon.uk, it’s 5 stars in my book

  3. i bet ten for 20 the christmas tree is actually pre-christian.

  4. I, for one, enjoy reading about other folks trips, too. I enoyed the “food coma” part — my wife went silly cooking cookies — and I had to decorate them!

    At the risk of broaching blog etiquette, here are are my experiences this past holiday while on the road to visit family:


  5. Hopefully your travel experiences will get a bit better now that Southwest is serving DIA. Once they ramp up service you’ll be in a good spot for a lot of reliable short to medium flights.

  6. Simon: seems that way. i don’t get in a twist when retailers screw up; but it drives me crazy when they don’t acknowledge it.

    Jaime: amen, sir, amen. i don’t mean to be insensitive to others concerns, but i just don’t see what the big deal is with Christmas trees.

    James: you’d win that bet, according to Wikipedia:

    Dennis: loved the entry. no blog violation here, as far as i’m concerned.

    Brian: that should get me options, at least. but i’m not a huge fan of Southwest since i prefer having an assigned seat rather than a free-for-all. can’t hurt, though.

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