Monday, February 20, 2012

The Price of Other's Success

As a supervisor, one of my most rewarding roles is in helping those under my charge to reach their full potential.  Sure, they do all of the hard work, but sometimes I can offer some mentoring, guidance, or at least try to take care of them when it comes to putting in a well-deserved awards package or crafting their annual evaluation report.

In the past I have found my attempts at getting my charges recognized to be less than successful, but this year I finally got the pleasure of having one of my senior non-commissioned officers (or SNCO as we call it in the miliary, since we love acronyms) recognized for his superior performance over the past year when he was announced as the SNCO of the year for the staff where we work.  Even better yet, he gets to compete for the annual award for all of 14th Air Force, which is a large organization and will be a great win for him.  Unfortunately for me, this means I will have to attend the annual awards banquet with him.

I'm not a huge fan of things like awards banquets, but I realize sometimes it comes with the job.  What I didn't realize, was that the uniform I will have to attend in is not my normal AF service dress (think civilian suit), but the mess dress (think tuxedo).  It's not so much that I mind wearing formal wear, although the last time I wore a tux was at my wedding 17 years ago; it's the cost involved.

When I first entered the AF, realizing the mess dress uniform is pricey, I found one online near my size, bought it and had it tailored to fit me.  I've never actually worn it in the decade since, and I've got some things I have to buy to get it ready to wear.  The shoulder boards with rank alone will be close to 50 bucks.  Then there's the shirt, bow tie, and cummerbund (pretty sure it came with a couple of those but if so they've been misplaced over the years), cuff links (I don't think I've ever worn cuff links), and a handful of medals.  Needless to say, I thought I was being forced to buy a $40 dinner, but it's going to cost several times that when it's all said and done.

On the bright side, one of my other NCOs has an awards banquet the very next night that I will have to attend, so at least I'm getting my money's worth a little bit, (and his dinner is only $25).  Also, Heather enjoys formal wear as little as I do, or else I could be looking at a dress purchase equal to all the money I'm spending on my uniform.  So the damage could be higher, but I feel like I'm in one of those Visa commercials where everything adds up, but I can't figure out what the "priceless" payoff is.  I guess supporting my troops is the priceless part, because it's the only thing that makes all this worth it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

We Interrupt These Commercials to Bring You the Following Game

Last Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday, one of my favorite Sundays of the year.  The Super Bowl was founded in the mid 60s to create a venue to determine the best team in football, and also to create a venue for multi-million dollar advertising spots.  Over time, the commercials have taken an increasingly prominent share of the post game conversation and have become in some ways even bigger than the game.

For many the iconic Super Bowl commercial involved a football player named "Mean" Joe Green, a young boy, a bottle of coke, and a souvenir jersey.  Even if it aired before your time, you have probably seen this 30 second clip of commercial gold.  Unfortunately, awesome advertising is difficult to create.  This can be proven by the number of commercials that businesses spend incredible amounts of money to create, which range in quality from mind-numbingly lame to exquisitely unmemorable.

While there were many duds to choose from again this year, Coca-Cola gets my nod for "biggest waste of money" this go round. Lacking any real inspiration, the team at Coke decided to pull the semi-iconic polar bears out of the closet.

Unfortunately, they were unable to create a story line with any semblance of meaningfulness or humor.  I suppose watching a computer animated bear stumble across the ice, juggling a bottle of coke the whole way while juking and jiving around other bears was supposed to be some sort of homage to football, but I couldn't get past the fact that Coke isn't sold in glass bottles anymore, unless you get them from Mexico, and I doubt polar bears would be importing their sugary beverages from that far south.  Plus, just how shook up would that bottle of soda be by the time he was done flipping it around?  It should have looked like he dropped a Mentos in that thing when he finally popped the top off.

So here's my polar bear commercial, with an homage to the past.  Polar bears are finishing a game of football out on the ice.  One of the bears is walking into the entrance of the cave.  A young polar bear stops him and hands him a plastic bottle of coke to quench his thirst.  He looks around for something to hand the cub, but realizes he has nothing to give him, as polar bears don't wear jerseys.  Polar bear looks off into the distance.  We see some seals lying near the water.  Camera zooms in on one of the seals.  Back to the Polar bear, with a look on his face that says "problem, I just found your solution".  Polar bear hands cub his coke and walks away.  We hear a roar and some struggling.  Polar bear walks back into frame, takes coke back from cub, and heads into the cave.  He stops, turns around, and throws the lad a seal skin.  The end.  If that doesn't tug at your heartstrings I don't know what will.