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How to Plan an Inoffensive Office Christmas Party

picture of the grinch

How can you plan an inoffensive office Christmas party? Read on....

Those of you who have been reading my iv's for any length of time know that I try to provide the best in good, clean humor. But you also know that in doing that, I am often not "politically correct." In fact, I have real issues with the direction that the PC crowd is striving to drag our society. I think of that right now because each year the attempts to remove Christ from Christmas become more blatant. (Imagine people trying to make some sort of connection between Christ and CHRISTmas! - tongue firmly planted in cheek....) With that in mind, I'm posting a satirical series of e-mail memos about one company's first annual "Office Christmas Party."

DISCLAIMER: today's instant vacation contains several things that I do not personally participate in, but I post this because illustrates so well why we wouldn't want a politically correct, pure democracy, especially in today's increasingly fragmented environment.

FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
RE: Office Christmas Party
DATE: December 1

I'm happy to inform you that the first of what we hope will become the annual Office Christmas Party will take place on December 23, starting at noon in the banquet room at Luigi's Open Pit Barbecue. There will be plenty of eggnog! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols ... feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!



FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
DATE: December 2
RE: Office Christmas Party

In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Chanukah is an important holiday which often coincides with Christmas. So we'll be calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to employees who are celebrating Kwanzaa at this time. There will be no Christmas tree present. No Christmas carols sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment. Everybody happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family.



FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
DATE: December 3
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, upset about the eggnog and requesting a non-drinking table ... you didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request. But if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody?

Forget about the gifts exchange, no gifts exchange are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.




FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
DATE: December 7
RE: Holiday Party

What a diverse company we are! I had no idea that December 20 begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps Luigi's can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party - the days are so short this time of year - or else package everything for take-home in little foil containers shaped like swans. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Overeaters Anonymous to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. We will have booster seats for short people. Low-carb and low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the food, and we suggest that those people with high blood pressure taste their food first. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for diabetics since the restaurant cannot supply "No Sugar" desserts. Sorry!

Did I miss anything?



FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
DATE: December 8
RE: Holiday Party

So December 22 marks the Winter Solstice ... what do you expect me to do, a tap-dance on your heads? Fire regulations at Luigi's prohibit the burning of sage by our "earth-based goddess-worshiping" employees, but we'll try to accommodate your drumming circle during a break in the band music.



FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
Date: December 9
RE: Holiday Party

People, people, nothing sinister was intended by having our CEO dress up like Santa Claus! Even if the anagram of "Santa" does happen to be "Satan," there is no evil connotation to our own "little man in a red suit." It's a tradition, folks, like sugar shock from Easter candy or family feuds over the Thanksgiving turkey or broken hearts on Valentine's Day.

Could we lighten up?


FROM: Pat Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
DATE: December 10
RE: Holiday Party

Vegetarians!?!?!? I've had it with you people!!! We're going to keep this party at Luigi's Open Pit Barbecue whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your stupid salad bar, including hydroponic tomatoes ... but you know, they have feelings, too. Tomatoes scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream, I'm hearing them scream right NOW!

I hope you all have a rotten holiday!


FROM: Teri Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
TO: Everyone
DATE: December 14
RE: Pat Lewis and Holiday Party

I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Pat Lewis a speedy recovery from her stress-related illness and I'll continue to forward your cards to her at the sanitarium.

In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay. Thanks to our politically correct celebration of "diversity," we will not be able to enjoy a simple party together! We hope that this change does not offend anyone. If it does, GET A LIFE!

Happy Chanuk-Kwanzaa-Solsti-Rama-Mas! Whatever!


Soooo... the way to have an inoffensive holiday party in some places is simply not to have one at all! Sadly, for those who get up every morning with a chip on their shoulder that they long to have someone knock off that day, that solution is what would make them truly happy - they're happy when no one's happy. Bah Humbug!

If you have some inoffensive or offensive favorite holiday traditions to share, please add your comment to this post. How do you handle those in your life who seem to be so eager to be offended?


"True adoration comes not just from lips, but from lives." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Life is just a phase ... and you will get over it!

¡Feliz Navidad!

picture of Navidad nativity scene
Can Christmas really be two weeks from today?! Tomorrow is our last day of classes for this semester. Next week is final exam week, and then vacation begins. Since I haven't done anything "Christmas-y" on my blog yet this year, here's a version of Clement Clarke Moore's beloved poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with a bit of Spanish lingo thrown in. And you don't even have to marque ocho para español!

Feliz Navidad

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa
Not a creature was stirring, and I wondered "¿Que pasa?"
I was hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado,
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado,
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
My brothers and I went to sleep in our camas,
Some in long underwear, some in piyamas.
When out in the yard there arose such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked afuera,
And who in the world do you think ¿Quien era?
St. Nick in a sleigh and a big sombrero,
Came dashing along like a little bombero.
And pulling his sleigh, instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.
I watched as they came, and this fat little hombre,
Was shouting and whistling, and calling by nombre.
"¡Ay Pancho, Ay Pepe, Ay Cuca, Ay Beto
Ay Chato, Ay Chopo, Ay Maruca y Nieto!"

Then standing up straight, with his hands on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea,
Then huffing and puffing, and a little cansado,
He picked up a bag that looked so pesado.
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos.
For none of the ninos had been very malos,
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.

And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,

"Merry Christmas a todos, y ¡Feliz Navidad!

I hope that brought some pleasant memories back to those of you who have studied Spanish in the past.

We teachers and our students at BJU would appreciate your prayers for us as we go through exam week. Have a great weekend!


"God doesn't need a placid environment to do His work." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Wife to husband: "This Christmas let's give each other sensible gifts like neckties and fur coats."

How to Start a Blog

picture of potential blogger

Why should you start a blog? In a recent blog post I stated that "some of you really need to make a New Year’s resolution to start blogging yourself." I like the way Dave, a young blogger who frequents my blog, puts it – "Just a few centuries ago, people were fortunate to be able to express their thoughts openly to others in their tiny hamlets and villages. Everyone today should at least pause and consider how incredible it is that an affordable, convenient and readily-accessible tool such as blogging exists. One person can potentially be heard by millions who are not bound by geography or time. It's all quite unbelievable to me."

(Just so you regular readers know up front – this post is rather lengthy and basically devoid of humor, but if you do not have a fundamental knowledge of what goes into blogging, you may find it an interesting read that will make you more appreciative of what bloggers have done to make their material available to you.)

On the upside, blogging gives you a forum for sharing what's on your mind, insights from your area of expertise, events big or small in your life, or whatever you want to – it's your blog, after all. Blogging is a great way to meet people outside your locale and to have mutually enriching communication on topics of interest to you. To me one of the huge benefits of blogging is that it allows me to communicate with many people I'd love to have the time to communicate with individually. A passion for communicating is not only helpful in blogging, but also essential.

On the downside, blogging comes with some costs – costs that may make you decide why you should not start a blog. Depending on the platform you use to have your blog on the Internet, there can be minor monetary expense involved (addressed later in this post). There are definitely personal costs – time, effort, vulnerability, and accountability. Good blog posts require planning, writing, and editing. That all takes time and effort, but you will find that it is worth it.

Vulnerability and accountability are the inevitable consequences of sharing personal information on the Internet. Not everyone will agree with you or even like you and your views. Can you handle that? Unless your posts are password protected and blocked from search engines (administrative settings to do that are available in many blogging platforms), whatever you post to the Internet is available to the world at large. And for that, you are personally accountable. In addition to that, you are also accountable to your family, your friends, your pastor, your neighbors, ad infinitum. It's like those sound bites we hear from public figures who didn't know they were near an open microphone — once it's "out there," it's out there!

cartoon on blame

What you post is accessible not only to your friends and family, but also to your current and future employers. Some bloggers have lost their jobs over derogatory or sensitive information they had posted. Many employers now avail themselves of information about you that can be brought up by search engines. Young people today do not seem to realize this consequence of posting things about themselves on blogs and social networks. Let the writer beware! Blogging anonymously is an option some have chosen by giving the blog a personality of its own. But ultimately, if what's published can be traced to you, it's your responsibility.

As you can see, there are great personal benefits to having a blog, but also there are personal costs to be considered. If you still want to start a blog, here are some tips to get you going:

Tips on starting a blog

As I go into this portion of this post, I hasten to say that I am not trying reinvent the wheel here. As I did research for this post, I found that there are already many good articles out there on various facets of what I'm presenting today. In many cases it was far more efficient to put links to those posts rather than giving synopses here. Linking to sites of people I don't know is a bit risky since the posts turned up in web searches and I did not/could not take the time to explore entire sites where I found the good articles. That said, here goes....

Before setting anything up online, you need to do the following:

1. Decide on your special niche. It could be unique to you or something that many others are writing on, but to which you think your blog could add a fresh perspective. The History Bluff advises, "Be patient with finding a niche. Rushing this step will lead to a disjointed theme and confused readers."

You need to decide what you have a personal passion for — something that you would love to write about. Your blog can become a means whereby you can connect with others who share your passion or who might catch your passion. I found a good article on how to find your niche that could help you with this important decision.

2. Once you've decided on your niche, you need to decide on a name for your blog. Betty over at Dappled Things strongly recommends that you do a web search for what you are considering naming your blog. She told me that after her blog was already well under way, she learned there's an extremely popular blog out there with the same name. At that point she was not willing to change the name of her blog and just decided to live with it.

Choosing a name is important as well as you try to make your eventual URL as close to the blog name as possible. Doing that helps readers remember better how to get to you. There's a good article about blog naming on performancing.com

3. Having chosen a name for your blog, you will have to decide whether to blog through one of the free platforms like blogger.com or wordpress.com, for a small fee through a platform like typepad.com, or by setting up your own domain. Since I have never used any of the free platforms available, maybe readers who have blogs using them can give their input in the comments. When I searched for comparisons of the platforms, I found that the users preferred the platform on which their review was published, citing what they had found unsatisfactory about the other platforms.

I had my own domain – ivman.com – before I started blogging. Adding the blog to my domain was easy since a young geek friend led and talked me through the process. (Thanks, Jared!) If you decide to have your own domain and aren't especially tech-savvy, I would recommend finding a young geek to help you. My webhost for these five and a half years is Brent at webnet77.com. I have found his prices reasonable and his customer service outstanding. The blogging platform I'm using is WordPress – a free download from WordPress.org. To understand the distinction between wordpress.com and wordpress.org you can check out this clear explanation.

4. You are now ready to choose how your blog will look. At this point it would be a good idea to visit a number of blogs you've never been to, with an eye towards the layout and design. Jot down what is helpful as you try to find things on the site and what you find distracting or perplexing. The theme or template that you choose should be not only eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing, but also make it easy for a first-time visitor to see what you've got to offer. Most people have limited time for surfing the web and will not stick around on a site that's annoying to look at or confusing to navigate. Among the many free themes for WordPress that are available online, you can find some attractive, easily-navigable blog themes from Sadish Bala or from freewpthemes.net.

Try to keep your sidebar as uncluttered as possible. A big offender is flashing ads. Many people find a multitude of flashing objects quite annoying – maybe so much so that they don't come back.

5. Remember that as nice as it is that your blog have an attractive appearance that doesn't drive people away, it's the content that will keep people coming back for more. Jot down ideas for future blog posts and keep some on the back burner. Dave over at The History Bluff gives some good advice on this: "Write several posts before telling friends and family about your new blog. Give first-time visitors a variety of things to look/read through. One post won't satisfy their curiosity."

6. Allow comments on your blog. Part of the fun of blogging is the communication between you and your readers. But I would strongly advise that you moderate the comments, especially if you want to maintain a certain tone and atmosphere of friendliness on your blog. Since it's your blog, feel free to edit comments or even reject them if you don't want your readers to see them. You are under no obligation to allow anything and everything to appear on your blog.

Reply to comments, either on the blog itself or by personal e-mail. If someone has taken the time to visit your blog, read what you've written, and commented on it, you should take the time to acknowledge their comment. Some of my readers avail themselves of being able to choose to be notified of follow-up comments via e-mail thanks to a WordPress plugin called subscribe to comments.

Deb over at Mountain Musings gives some good guidelines as she tells how she handles comments. "Most of my commenters are not asking questions but rather just commenting/agreeing with what I've written. I always respond to them – usually via return e-mail – to thank them for the comment. If someone has asked a question, I usually respond within the comment section or write a separate post (if warranted) to answer the question, figuring that other people might also want to know the answer. The reason I don't comment back within the comments is that I figure my reply is being wasted if they never check back to see that I've responded to them. I read so many different blogs that I have no idea which ones I've commented on and have no time to check back to see a reply. But I do read e-mails, and I figure that's a better way to respond to them and interact."

7. If you do allow comments, make sure you have good spam filtering in place. On my blog I use a great freebie made for WordPress called WP-SpamFree and never see a spam comment.

8. Once you're ready to "go live" with your blog, start putting the URL of your blog on comments you make on other blogs. This will bring some traffic to your new blog. As you visit other blogs, Betty recommends that you "pay attention to the blogs that you like reading and emulate those. Obviously you don't want to copy to the point of plagiarizing, but there are some characteristics of good blogs that you can benefit from patterning yours after."

9. Use images. Having at least one picture per post adds more visual interest than having only big blocks of text. In that regard, keep your paragraphs short. (This blog post is by no means exemplary, but there was not much I could include pictures of.)

10. Be consistent: as much as possible, stick to the main subject you've chosen for your blog. Also tell your readers how often you will be posting, and stick to it. Long periods between posts will lose you readers. It's best to start with even just one post a week rather than one or more a day. It's very hard to keep up with a daily posts — both as the blogger and as a reader. If you see you can post more frequently than once weekly, you can do so. Just strive for consistency.

11. Include an About page. This will satisfy readers who would like to know something about the person behind the blog. Be careful about how much information you share about yourself and your family. Include some basic info, like where you live, your job title, your interests, and other relevant yet purposefully sketchy biographical information. If you've chosen to be an anonymous blogger, it's still helpful to give some general information about the blog itself.

picture of my address

12. Provide some means for readers to contact you offline. Based on your blogging platform, there are plugins available for a Contact page. I'm pleased with the WordPress plugin cforms II. You are inviting e-mail spam by posting your e-mail address on your blog, unless you post it in a picture rather than in text, like the picture on the right of this paragraph. The e-mail harvesting equipment that spammers use can't get an address from an image.

(added on 27 April 2009, after having my blog hacked twice:
13. Be sure to do regular back-ups of your database. As a WordPress user, I have a great plugin available to me called WordPress Database Backup. Having gone through the nightmare of having to restore my blog and my wife's blog twice in the past three weeks, I'm glad I used that plugin.

Another thing I wish I had done more consistently is to put in a folder on my computer a copy of each image exactly as it had been uploaded to my blog. I kept copies of many of them, but not all. It's been frustrating and time-consuming to try to locate the right images. There are several I haven't been able to replace at all and many others that I have had to find, resize, and rename before uploading them. It would have been so much easier if I had kept copies identical to what I had used on my blog!)

In a post like this, it's impossible to include advice about every facet of blogging. My goal was to give advice on how to get a blog off on the right foot. I was not even able to include all the advice that I had planned nor that my kind contributors sent me. What I can offer, though, is links to several excellent posts or sites on blogging. Thanks to veteran bloggers Barbara, Betty, and Deb for the links they sent to add to mine below!




For those who've made it all the way through this post, here's a bit of humor about blogging devotion to reward you for your persistence.

blogging cartoon

If you end up setting up your own blog as the result of this post, I would love to have a link to it! If any of you readers know of a blog that is particularly well done, please post a link to it in the comments.

My wife Becka has decided to be a guest writer on my blog instead of having her own blog. I told her to get her first post simmering....


"We have only the day called 'today' to follow Christ." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Here at First National Bank, you're not just a number — you're two numbers, a dash, three more numbers, another dash, and another number.

Signs of the Times

I love funny signs! It's kind of like with the thoughtless headlines in my most recent blog post - you have to wonder if the sign maker was really that obtuse or if there was method in the madness.

Here are a dozen signs I've run across since the last set I posted. They need no commentary, but several do cry out for an explanation (which I can't give)....

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This morning we received a couple of "signs of the times" — signs that Christmas is getting near. Our daughter Megan's friend Kristen did a photo shoot to get some pictures for Meg and Jim's Christmas card. Here are two of the pictures of our grandson Drew:

picture of Drew dressed as Santa

picture of Drew in front of Christmas tree

I'm still working on that blog post on how to start your own blog. My research and writing for that one have taken me longer than I thought. If you are a blogger and have some insights to add, please send them right away - things you wish you had known when you first started blogging. If you don't know my e-mail address, use the contact link at the top of the blog.

I'm looking forward to your reactions to any of the signs posted today. If you run across any great signs, send them my way for a future post. If you like funny signs, you can see what I've already posted by clicking on "signs" in the tag cloud in the sidebar.


"Worship is not fully realized until it is expressed." - Dr. Chris Barney

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How do they get a deer to cross at that yellow road sign?

Thoughtless Headlines?

picture of headline

Have you ever laughed out loud reading the headlines in the newspaper? It certainly beats the weeping that some headlines cause! Our local writers have a special knack at coming up with punny headlines and even the occasional head-scratchers that leave you wondering if the wording was intentional.

I have collected some headlines in my files that I'm sharing today, followed by some scanned pictures of some bad headlines or opening sentences.

(Disclaimer: the humor of some of these is in how inappropriate their wording makes them sound.)

March Planned For Next August

Lucky Man Sees Pals Die in Crash

Blind Bishop Appointed To See

L.A. Voters Approve Urban Renewal By Landslide

Patient At Death's Door — Doctors Pull Him Through

Latin Course To Be Canceled — No Interest Among Students, et al.

Diaper Market Bottoms Out

Stadium Air Conditioning Fails — Fans Protest

Women's Movement Called More Broad-Based

Researchers call murder a threat to public health

Police use tear gas, SWAT team, battering ram, stun gun to oust woman 65

8 Bagels for $1.49 — Limit 3

Death in the ring: Most boxers are not the same afterwards

Ski areas closed due to snow

Chester Morrill, 92, Was Fed Secretary

Shut-Ins Can Grow Indoors With Lights

Legalized Outhouses Aired by Legislature

Difference between day and night found on tour of Torrington schools

All Utah Condemned to Face Firing Squad

Jerk Injures Neck, Wins Award

Fried chicken cooked in microwave wins trip

Tester links pygmy defect to shortness

Fire officials grilled over kerosene heaters

Lower Age for Elderly Opposed

Sewer input sought

Man shot to death in Cavalier Manor

Reader is upset over dog eating Filipinos

Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted

British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands

Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms

Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees

New Vaccine May Contain Rabies

Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing

Prosecutor Releases Probe into Sheriff

Mirror robber given 10 months to reflect

Lack of brains hinders research

'Light' meals are lower in fat, calories

Alcohol ads promote drinking

Malls try to attract shoppers

Official: Only rain will cure drought

Survey Finds Dirtier Subways After Cleaning Jobs Were Cut

Low Wages Said Key to Poverty

Man shoots neighbor with machete

Dirty-Air Cities Far Deadlier Than Clean Ones

Bible Church's focus is the Bible

Something Went Wrong In Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign To Run Down Jaywalkers

Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case

Iraqi Head Seeks Arms

Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents

Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax

Eye Drops Off Shelf

Teacher Strikes Idle Kids

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

Killer Sentenced To Die for Second Time in 10 Years

War Dims Hope for Peace

If Strike Is not Settled Quickly, It May Last a While

Cold Wave Linked to Cold Temperatures

Local Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

Red Tape Holds up New Bridge

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery, Hundreds Dead

Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

Kids Make Nutritious Snack

Clock Thief Faces Time

Hospitals Are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Include Your Children When Baking Cookies

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

Stolen Painting Found by Tree

Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Line

Deer Kill 17,000

Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed the Needy

Arson Suspect is Held in Massachusetts Fire

British Union Finds Dwarfs in Short Supply

Ban on Soliciting Dead in Trotwood

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Old School Pillars Are Replaced by Alumni

Bank Drive-in Windows Blocked by Board

4-H Girls Win Prizes for Fat Calves

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"If Scripture doesn't take me to a Christ-centered life, I've missed the point of Scripture." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Ever wonder why you don't ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?