Wedding Gifts: The Etiquette Paradox

One of the things I learned recently is that the inclusion of wedding registry information on or with a wedding invitation is considered a violation of etiquette. It seems we humans like to make life difficult for each other at times in the name of social grace. The lack of directness surrounding wedding gift etiquette is one of those times. As someone getting married I see two guiding principles:

Principle 1: It is rude for me to assume you will give a gift, and it is also rude to even mention gifts.
Principle 2: It is rude for you to fail to bring a gift.

The workaround is the wedding registry. I can build a registry and leave clues how to find it somewhere (thank goodness for websites and the internet). You can then purchase things off of that list.

But this is not a perfect system. What if I wanted to say a few things directly about what would be most helpful as a gift? What if I wanted to request that things should be shipped to my address instead of brought to the wedding? What if cash gifts are really what we want? What if I wanted to write a statement about realizing that traveling to a wedding is an expensive venture and could be thought of as a gift in itself? These things are only done by tactless (at least that’s what I read).

So here is my tactless statement regarding my upcoming wedding:

I am very happy to be marrying Pamela this summer. If you are attending the wedding I am glad you will be there. Please do not feel obligated to bring a gift. Traveling is expensive, and we realize that your presence is a gift of both symbolic and tangible value. Pam and I already have two places furnished, so we’re downsizing to one as we start life together. We really don’t need very much right now. We made a small registry of things that would be helpful. Since we’re getting married in Pennsylvania and living in California, it would be great if gifts that don’t fit in a pocket were shipped directly to our address. If we are given cash gifts we will likely use them to purchase a new couch, bed, and other miscellaneous furniture (woohoo!). If you are not able to come to the wedding please don’t feel obligated to give us a gift if you received an invitation.

My general conclusion is that if a giving a gift makes you happy, then go for it. If giving a gift makes you stressed or unhappy, then don’t do it. We invited you to the wedding because we like you–not because we thought you’d bring cool stuff. We look forward to celebrating with you, and we hope you have a good time.

Yes, I much prefer a world where you can say things directly. . .

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July 4th Baseball in Oakland

Yesterday Pam and I drove to Oakland to watch a baseball game. Last year I spent July 4th at the O.co Coliseum as well (a bit of a tradition is starting). This was Pam’s first baseball game, and it was my first game of the 2014 season. We arrived in Oakland around noon, stopped by In-N-Out Burger for lunch, then walked to the O.co Coliseum. It was a cool, sunny day. We purchased tickets for section 219, row 6.

A view from our seats at the O.co Coliseum.

A view from our seats at the O.co Coliseum.

When I looked at her I could see the field in her sunglasses.

When I looked at her I could see the field in her sunglasses.

The game was cleanly played. Both the A’s and Blue Jays came into the game in first place in their divisions–so I expected nothing less. I had hoped for some offensive fireworks from the powerful line-ups, since things are exciting when runs are being scored, but instead we got a pitchers’ duel (and that was okay).

A loyal fan wearing an Athletics beanie and cape walked by us playing a banjo. I now have a new retirement plan.

An elderly man wearing an Athletics hat and cape while playing the banjo walks by.

A fan walks by.

bp2I usually sprout roots and stay in my seat throughout a baseball game–today was an exception. I wanted Pam to get a chance to see the stadium and take in the various vantage points it offered. So we walked around the concourse. On our way a team photographer asked us to pose for a picture.

We had the obligatory hot dog, popcorn, and souvenir cup soda.

When we returned from the stroll around the park the game was still tied 0-0 in the late innings. The tie lasted right through regulation and free baseball commenced. Right around the time extra innings started a flock of pigeons started flying around the field and over the seats. One of those birds managed to drop a load of what appeared to be mayonnaise and honey mustard right on Pam’s head. I was wanting Pam’s first baseball experience to be very positive, so this bird-bombing was not part of the plan. But we laughed.

A view from our walk around the stadium.

A view from our walk around the stadium.

Extra innings began. Finally in the 12th inning Derek Norris walked and Nick Punto hit a double into the left field corner. Melky Cabrera had difficulty picking the ball up, and just like that the A’s had a walk-off win. The stadium erupted with joyful sounds. The game had lasted 4 hours and 5 minutes.

So Pam got a full dose in her first baseball game: a pitchers’ duel, extra innings, and bird poop. Through this she laughed and smiled a lot, and she told me it was not a terrible experience. I had a wonderful time.

Baseball is beautiful–and so is sharing it with someone.

Postscript: Here is a link to Pam’s account of the game.

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Charter Marketing

This past fall I wrote about being badgered by Charter phone calls. I have Charter cable internet service, but I am not a cable television or phone service subscriber. This seems to bother Charter. The campaign to get me to increase my service has been running since the day I signed up. I would hear from sales representative urging me to save money by bundling services. “You can save money” they told me. The breakdown of the savings looked like this:

My Current Service: Internet: $44.99 = Total: $44.99
The “Savings”: Internet: $29.99 + Television: $29.99 + Phone: $29.99 = Total: $89.97

I stopped the phone calls by vowing to cancel my service if I received one more phone call. To Charter’s credit since I made that ultimatum they have not called me once.

Now I get letters in the mail. I started keeping the letters to track how dedicated Charter was to the cause of saving me money. It didn’t take long for me to realize the offer vacillated from $29.99 per service to $39.99 per service frequently (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Promotional offers for bundling Charter services received at my address.

Figure 1. Promotional offers for bundling Charter services received at my address.

I’m very curious why they alternate between pricing. Is it designed to make the consumer perceive a fair value of $39.99 and a bargain of $29.99? Is it to land oblivious customers at the $39.99 price? Is there a ratio between $39.99 customers and $29.99 customers that is being maintained?

Another thought: does anyone really believe internet service, cable television, and phone service have equal value? Really?

My current valuation of these services:
Internet: $50
Television: $10
Phone: $1

It seems I am not the kind of customer Charter is looking for. . .

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Pelicans on the Pismo Pier

Yesterday Pam and I heard rumors of whales being seen near Pismo Beach. We decided to spend part of the evening on Pismo Pier, talking and watching the water. As we walked toward the end of the pier we saw a pelican. I like many things about the Central Coast, and one of those things happens to be pelicans. Pelicans are a delight to watch. They are big, ponderous birds. They fly with grace, yet they land on water with a crash of reckless abandon. And it appears they like some socialization too.

A pelican on the Pismo Pier.

A pelican on the Pismo Pier.

We stopped to photograph the bird.

A Pam and a pelican on the Pismo Pier.

A Pam and a pelican on the Pismo Pier.

A pelican photo shoot.

A pelican photo shoot.

The pelican seemed to thrive on the attention. Sometimes iPhones can look like fish, at least to pelicans. The stately bird tried to eat Pam’s phone. He seemed apologetic afterwards. In the end it was no harm no foul.

When you get up close you notice pelicans have different hairstyles. This one has a faux hawk.

When you get up close you notice pelicans have different hairstyles. This one has a faux hawk.

One last shot, looking back toward the beach.

One last shot, looking back toward the beach.

When Pam and I claimed a bench on the pier and sat down, we were soon joined by birds. First the seagulls came to investigate. Soon after we were joined by one and then two pelicans. They sat on the rail, listening to our conversation, looking inquisitively at us from time to time, grooming their feathers, and enjoying the sunset.

The sun sets as a pelican watches.

The sun sets as a pelican watches.

We saw no whales, but it was still a lovely evening.

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Hiking to Marble Falls

On Saturday morning we got up early. Since we had hours before checking out at the campsite we decided to sneak in one last hike. The destination was Marble Falls. It was a round trip of 7.4 miles, with an elevation gain of ~1,400 ft. The trail winds through heavily wooded canyons, rising from the canyon floor to high above it. I knew that the falls would be visible after rounding a corner. Every one had potential. Eventually we reached the corner the revealed the scene we were waiting to see.

Marble Falls viewed from the trail.

Marble Falls viewed from the trail.

At this point the falls were still far away. We continued down the trail. The largest falls that make up Marble Falls are not readily accessible by foot, so we had to settle for seeing the upper falls and pools. Upon reaching the falls we discovered that the water level was relatively low, which revealed much of the polished marble in the upper parts of the falls.

The water-polished marble, so white it looks like salt or snow.

The water-polished marble, so white it looks like salt or snow (do you see Terry?).

I walked out to the edge of one of the falls at a narrow point. The view straight down was fun.

Looking straight down one section of Marble Falls.

Looking straight down one section of Marble Falls.

I took a picture with my camera held low, pointing up to the upper pools.

Marble Falls shot from near water level.

Marble Falls shot from near water level.

We got back to our campsite, packed up, and checked out. It was a great 2.5 days in Sequoia National Park. We hiked ~26 miles with more than a mile of elevation gain, saw spectacular scenes, had many conversations, took pictures, and savored life. Good times.

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