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Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate
Today is one of those days (Halloween also falls under this umbrella) where I have to give a special shoutout to all the fathers out there who have daughters who went into the Instagram influencing biz or who have OnlyFans operations.
This shall pass, IG model fathers. Just remember that in June, your daughters will celebrate Father’s Day with a heartfelt message of love and admiration. The IG models don’t do that on Mother’s Day, so you should feel special, especially as your daughter prepares to dump out her Valentine’s Day content.
God bless you guys.
Valentine’s Day tips for the guy out there who need help on this day when she might say it’s a stupid holiday, but that actually means you better do something semi-nice.
- Costco flowers. Guys, trust me on this one. BUY TWO BUNDLES OF FLOWERS. The price is right and it’ll be the biggest pile of flowers she’s ever seen. And they’re high quality.
- Valentine’s Day card. TRUST ME. She’s not expecting it because you haven’t bought one in 20 years — or ever. When she says, “Why’d you buy me this?” just say “because you’re special to me and I wanted to do something nice this year.”
- Guys, if you aren’t doing something nice for the ladies during the golf offseason, then you really don’t deserve her understanding when you take off for five days of debauchery in June. You recently married millennials better be listening loud and clear to this advice. You’re going to get stupid on the guys’ trip and she knows it. You better be putting in the work this winter.
- Yes, every day should be Valentine’s Day in your house. Save the emails, fellas. I know you’re not Mr. Romantic at all times so stop acting like you are.
- Fire up those grills. You love grilling. She loves grilled food. It’s the perfect meeting of the hearts just as Hallmark intended when it came up with this holiday all those years ago.
Have a great holiday.
Would you give your employees the Monday after the Super Bowl off as a holiday if the federal government made it Presidents Day?
• Thomas V. in NC writes:
First-time emailer, love the daily hit of content, you do an awesome job.
I am a brewer, I was talking with a distributor we work with last week. He said they always have the Monday after Super Bowl off. Owner of the company figures too many people call out the day after the game. Also none of the buyers at accounts are working today.
This is a good one from Thomas. My brother works in the beer distribution business. I need to ask him if this scenario is ever discussed within the executive offices.
Southern Super Bowl snacks
• Charles F. in Arrington, TN says this is his Super Bowl grazing board:
Thoughts on a Tuesday morning
• Perry in Williams, Arizona (by the way, Screencaps seems to be picking up a huge number of readers out of Arizona…not sure why, but they’re definitely piling up):
- One huge part of the debt conversation is constantly missed. It’s the interest on the debt that is the most insidious. The debt we financed 20 years ago at 1% comes due and we print up new bonds at 3.7% (or even 5% for 1yr bonds.) We still run a “regular” deficit and then we added 5 trillion of additional debt in the past 2 years. Hockey sticks are jealous of how fast our total debt has exploded.
- Billions of people have been to the Grand Canyon. 100’s of millions have hiked it, camped in it (our planned trip) and even ran rim-to-rim. I however am in a more exclusive club, those who have been airlifted out of the Grand Canyon. Yeah, that’s a fail.
- They may not be kicking in our doors for our gas stoves (most political slogans on both sides should not be taken literally) but… The local enlightened little hamlet in these parts BANNED the installation of new gas appliances two years ago. We are in the county (25 miles away) and thank God we got to replace our 25-year old propane furnace with a new (hopefully 25-year) one and the pendulum will swing back over before it breaks. In town, your water heater breaks, tough nookie. You get electric or no permit. Also all new residential and commercial construction. The old infrastructure is wasted and decays away and the new areas get no gas infrastructure to begin with.
- Plutonium level grade-A passive aggressive snark. I love it. We love our families too. He gets it. We are 99% the same. Which is why the 1% loves it when we are at each others throats. It’s not the liberals people, it’s the progressives. The ideologues. There’s way, way too many of them in positions of power and authority. We are all equally culpable in this. Sure, you didn’t vote for Brandon, but we let them take over the school boards over the last 20 years, etc. I think many of your readers would find that they are actually libertarians.
- I agree with some of the criticisms about being a little too far right, how you stealthily lose viewers and how the column has leaned in a little more as time goes on. You guys aren’t dumb. You’re living the Dream, doing it your way like ol’ Frankie and are fully prepared to live or die by that creed. Is there anything more American than that?!?
- Finally, what made me write. The line in the sand. If this doesn’t mobilize the nation, nothing will. They are literally coming for your children’s urinals. My gal asked my the other day, “Whose watching the Proud Family anyway?” These people. Until the middle, where the insanely overwhelming majority live and breathe, stand up and don’t back down (shout out to Riley Gaines for finally saying this principle out loud recently) this will not only continue, but progress(ive.) Carry on.
You walk into an Italian grocery store…which beer are you choosing?
• Mike T. went to the grocery today and he knew exactly what I’d want to see in Screencaps:
Doing Hard Things (construction) in Venice, Italy
• Mike W. in New Mexico writes:
I’m enjoying the European chronicles of Mike T. but as a structural engineer I pay attention to other things when my wife and I travel to Europe as well. In particular, I was curious how Contractors worked on buildings throughout Venice since there are no roads. On our last two trips through Venice I caught evidence of just how work got done over there and I don’t think I’ve seen Mike T. post these type of photos so I thought I would share.
A boat-mounted backhoe and tub of concrete in one shot and what looks like a boat-mounted pier replacement operation in the other photo. All this is done directly adjacent to the traveling public. I don’t mean to step on Mike T.’s toes here but I had to share with my TNML brethren.
How to travel like a pro in 2023
• Paul R. in Phoenix, AZ travels his ass off:
Travel resume – 15 years 35 weeks per year.
- If allowed use your personal credit card instead of a company card and expense everything. With the points accumulated I did not pay for a single vacation for 15 years. I am not talking about a trip from PHX to Tucson, I mean trips like cruises, all-exclusives etc type of vacations.
- If you can expense your travel and not have to use the company card get a credit card from your airline of choice. The points add up so fast you’ll have enough points throughout the year to fly family and friends for free. Plus there are perks that come with an airline card as you accumulate points i.e. upgrades to first class, boarding first, moving to the front of the line if flights are cancelled/delayed etc.
- Sign up for whatever rewards programs are offered by the hotel chain, rental car companies you want to use. It’s double dipping especially if you are using your own credit card. It’s nice when the hotel chain you’ve chosen upgrades you to a suite for free. Used National because once you reach executive it’s fun picking your car out and they have some really nice cars.
- TSA pre-check is an absolute must and it’s like $90 for 5 years. Never did the Clear ID because as I watched people using it it never struck me that they were getting through faster than I was to make it worth the cost.
- E-bags for your luggage. They have a craftsman guarantee. Their quality is excellent and if it ever breaks, tears, whatever they replace it for free. I had to use it and they were fantastic.
- Never eat at chain restaurants unless that’s all there is. There too many fantastic
“Mom and pop” restaurants to try and it makes travel so much fun to find them. I would pick the type of food I wanted say BBQ. Then search best BBQ near me. Find three different websites with a ranking list of restaurants. Read the lists and find the highest rated restaurant on all three and give it a shot. Had a lot of fantastic food over the years.
- Leave yourself some margin for weather, traffic, delays etc. It’s not fun being stressed out while traveling.
• Brandon C. in Pinckney, MI writes:
I’ve been a traveling road warrior with lots of business trips in and through our great nation. Here’s my top 5 things:
– skip Clear, get TSA precheck. Clear is starting to be more widespread, but there are a number of airports that still don’t have them or only staff them for morning through early evening. I’ve been on multiple flights back home out of Dulles post 8 pm and precheck is still open but clear is shut down.
– travel bag: assuming you need a laptop and you’re not staying more than 1 night, invest in a good laptop backpack. You need a separate compartment for your laptop; a large middle area for one change of clothes and your toiletries; two smaller front pockets for your planner, biz cards, second cell phone if you have one; a side pocket water bottle / coffee mug holder that’s tall enough for your favorite (a lot are too short for anything besides a 18oz nalgene bottle– kids play); and I like one with a “soft case” on the top where I store my primary charging cord, battery/charger block combo, and wallet/phone when I go through security. Amazon basic 17″ explorer laptop bag is pretty close to what I recommend and it’s $40, but some of the swisstech or targus bags are pretty good too. And all these will fit under your seat if you have no overhead spots. Skip the wheeled bags.
– battery / charger block combo… This is a true game changer. Anker makes a combo battery pack that also has the wall outlet built in. Two usb-a ports and a usb-c, 2 full cell phone charges. The less amount of cords and devices you can take, the better.
– shoes… Heavily dependent on your work culture and customers, but if you can get a good pair of black / dark gray / neutral low top hiking boots without a lot of accoutrements, they match with a lot of sporcoat / khaki combos and you can wear them after hours as well. I like the made in USA Keen models.
– figure out if you value upgrades in flights or hotels and then get a credit card for that brand (if your work allows you to use your personal card to book travel) that gets you most benefits easiest.
To me those are the 5 go to’s for becoming an efficient business traveler these days. The focus is on minimizing the opportunities for your travel to go sideways — pack light, no checked bags, minimize time in time wasting areas. The only other thing I’d recommend in terms of timesavers is to get upgrade status with rental car company so that you can skip the counter and go right to the garage to get your rental car. That’s one of the #1 time sinks for the biz traveler is waiting in line at the airport rental car desk. Hope this helps.
• Bo T. writes:
Joe, Happy Super Bowl Sunday and greeting from Pure Michigan. Can’t tell you how glad we are that we moved here.
1. Thanks for the motivational reminder on Saturday. Picked up enough blown-down sticks/branches for a decent Led Zeppelin album cover while my lovely and gracious bride defused Lab land mines (ladies choice on task selection). Was too windy to burn so stacked it by the fire pit. Staged/ran all the mowing and trimming implements. Ready for opening day.
2. The pizza joint stories reminded me of going to Shakeys pizza in KC after 3&2 baseball games. Pop managed a team for TWA, and would have a pitcher of Falstaff to wash down the pizza with anchovies. Old school decor with dark wood booths and Tiffany-style lamps. Place smelled like pepperoni and stale brew, with a shuffleboard table.
3. For Andy in Knoxville: Highly recommend enrolling in TSA-Pre, frequent traveler programs for 2-3 airlines, rental car companies, and hotel chains. Make every attempt to use the same airline/car/hotel every trip to build status or points. The “high status” perks vary, but generally have separate check-in kiosks, free baggage checks, “no waiting” car pickup, and free room upgrades. Clear is good in combination with TSA-Pre when the lines for Pre are long.
The TSA-Pre lines at Dulles are usually pretty fast. For luggage, I would identify the size bag you will normally use and comparison shop. I generally go with a backpack and a soft-sided carry-on. The soft-sided bag works on regional jets that have smaller overhead bins. Finally, decide if you are a “2 hour early” or a “last minute” airport arriver. Only date/marry a girl in the same category. Trust me.
• Jobie T. writes:
1) Strong bag 23-inch roller.
Vortex 21 Flight Crew Luggage Roller
It is a little heavy but indestructible and plenty of space. Read the travelers review at link. Spot on!
2) Bose qc45 noise cancelling headset. Game changer! Aircraft noise is fatiguing. These eliminate it.
3) Clear. Cannot recommend. You are giving up huge amount of your data to an organization that gets you through no faster than TSApre. TSAPre is a necessity—-same data concerns but it works.
4) Get the credit card for the airline you fly most. Free version is fine but sometimes the top end (read this as $600-$700 per year)…gets you lounge access and TSA Pre free—-among many other perks to include earlier boarding.
I realize that the bag/headphones/card might set him back $1200 but it is well worth it for ease of travel!
• Conor A. writes:
Here to help Andy out with travel questions. My current job doesn’t allow me to travel much, but at my previous employer, I had to travel quite a bit across the country.
1. Luggage-this is entirely a personal choice. My wife and I both have Gregory. The brand Away also has great luggage products, too. You want to get durable, yet light carry-on, because sometimes you get unlucky and have to gate check your luggage, which means that thing is getting tossed more than romaine lettuce at a salad bar. I also bring a backpack with tons of pockets for ease of access to my laptop, chargers, books, earbuds, etc.
2. Clear is fine, but you’re paying about $240 per year. It’s also not available at every airport. If you want to pay a little extra to skip the security line, go with TSA pre-check. It’s $85 and will last you five years before you have to renew. The process is simple, just apply online and get a background check. Even my tiny hometown airport in Eastern Iowa has TSA pre-check. Not that you need it though because the line is about two people deep, but every second counts. You don’t have to take off your shoes, and electronics can stay in the bag.
3. Since we’re having a eulogy to the in person dining experience at Pizza Hut, I found this video that highlights the good ol’ days of the classic Midwestern restaurant. I’m only 29, but I do remember going into the local Pizza Hut on a Friday night and pigging out on pizza, salad, and sides. The parmesan and red pepper shakers are just as iconic as the red cups and pleather red seats. Root beer somehow tasted better out of those cups.
• Todd B. writes:
I travel a lot for work. Others may agree or disagree but this is my must dos top 3.
- Must be tsa pre. It is a non starter to skip. Clear only if the airport you use is super busy. Knoxville not likely needed. Dulles maybe.
1a. If you get clear it’s $200 – consider an Amex platinum card. At $650 it seems boujee and expensive. The benefits easily clear $650. TSA pre and clear alone are about $300. Lounge access. Streaming credits. Status at hotels and rental cars. Etc. Lots of info on the www.
- Pick a hotel, rental car, airline program and stick with it. consistency pays off. It’s not get rich quick, but eventually you’re on a free vacation thinking. Damn this good.
- Always bring my own snack and download something to watch/read/listen to for the flight. The food sucks. The internet won’t work and there will be delays.
• Chris B. says he’s a retired road dawg, so listen up to the retirees who made it through to the other end of the road dawg life:
- If you can, always take the first non-stop of the day. Second choice is any other non-stop. Changing flights is an opportunity for problems, especially when you’re entering the northeast corridor.
- Absolutely, positively get PreCheck or ClearID. Knoxville TSA isn’t horrific, but Dulles TSA is an outer circle of Hell. Join every airline, car, and hotel loyalty club you can because those points can add up after a while. Oh, and book directly with the hotel. You hear horror stories about people who booked through those aggregator sites like Kayak, but their rooms were given away because the hotels make a lot less money than the same rate with direct booking.
- I know we’re anti-mask here, but consider wearing one on the planes if you see anybody coughing or sneezing. I never get sick except when I fly.
- Are you using/sharing an office in DC, or are you hot-desking? If you have any way to store a suit and a couple of ties in DC, you can really go light. Maybe a dress shirt, which you can take home to wash if you have to wear it. Definitely your dress shoes if possible, so they don’t get scratched by the under-seat apparatus on the plane. Avoid hotel dry cleaning or laundering because you don’t know what you’re going to get back.
- Always take a pair of gym shorts for the room, and take your dress pants off as soon as you get in for the night so they stay clean and crisp.
- Carry white cotton handkerchiefs — and this is important: always iron your shirts through the handkerchief, because you never know when the last guy in that room used the iron to make a grilled cheese sandwich or something that will ruin your clothes.
- Buy the best carbon-fiber roller bag you can afford. They’re lightweight and will last for many a trip. You can get a really good one for about $400, or you can buy a $100 bag every year or so — depends on how long you’ll be doing this run. You don’t need the leather one, which costs more, weighs more, and will just get scratched up in the overhead anyway. And make sure to check the specs for the airline you prefer to make sure it will fit.
- The best ‘business casual’ traveler’s pants are Haggar Cool 18’s. They don’t wrinkle badly, and they wick sweat off a little bit so the staggering DC humidity doesn’t leave you soaked through like cotton chinos will. They’ll work with a navy blazer, too, if that can pass for dress-up at your shop. Then you don’t need a separate jacket when it’s cool. A simple play is to wear clothes that are either blue or black, so you look put together with only one brown or black belt and matching shoes. If you can swing it, Cole-Haan Zerogrands are a good comfortable dressy walking shoe, because you’re going to be walking a lot at both ends of the trip. Clarks are a good lower-priced alternative.
- Make sure you have an RFID-blocking wallet so you don’t have to get new credit cards every month.
- Your local library probably has lots of digital books you can download through Hoopla or Glose on your device of choice so you don’t have to carry anything extra — you can get audiobooks too so you can just close your eyes and listen.
- Always carry a few individual Wet Ones (because people are disgusting) and a little ziplock bag with a few Tylenol, Gas-X, Rolaids, Immodium (trust me), cough drops, and so on. Put pictures of any essential prescriptions on your phone — most pharmacies will hook you up with a day or two if you left them at home. It’s even easier if you use one of the big chains, because then all your records are in their system.
- If you’re going to be going out, bring some powdered Gatorade or whatever pouch you prefer. Nothing worse than a hotel hangover. But nothing says “rookie” more than going out drinking and/or to titty bars when you’re on the road.
- Speaking of which: if you’re married, never ever ever go to a bar alone. Bad things, especially awesome, life-changing bad things, can’t happen if you’re not in the place where bad things start.
- It’s easy to gain weight on the road because restaurants serve bigger meals than you would make at home. My go-to was to get a sandwich or some chicken and some fruit at the grocery and eat in the room. You can also carry some coffee singles (the sleeves, not the K-cups) and a bagel or something for the morning.
- Carry a few fives in your pocket for the hotel maids, the shuttle drivers, whoever. I know tipping is tiresome, but it works.
- Do your expense report as soon as you get home, or the next morning. Don’t wait. Get that money back before the credit card bill shows up. If you can, take pictures of your receipts so you have them just in case. You have to do that to upload the T&E, so just do it earlier.
- Bonus tip: most of the road dawgs I see these last few years are using ‘business knapsacks’ instead of briefcases. Laptops are small enough now that you have a lot of extra room for a couple more items as well — like the extra power cord and phone charger you’re going to leave up in DC. They look more or less like a briefcase but are a lot easier to maneuver.
- Other bonus tip: buy a plastic flask at Amazon for like $8 and refill it at the water fountain after you get through security…unless you like paying $6 for a bottle of warm water.
There are many more emails from road dawgs who have plenty to share with Andy from Knoxville. Your messages will be forwarded. Andy might have questions for you veterans of life on the go.
And for those of you just starting your journeys, make mental notes of those road stories worthy of being included in a Screencaps column. Tell others what you’re experiencing out there in the world.
• Alex R. writes:
For me, it’s very simple
Chili with beans goes in a bowl.
Chili with no beans goes on something.
They are both great but they are eaten differently.
That is it that’s the list.
At first, I thought Alex was shifting gears on me and writing a chili haiku.
And that’s it. Another Screencaps is in the books and the sun is shining AGAIN. 57 and partly sunny in NW Ohio this time of year just doesn’t happen.
Go have an incredible day and good luck to the road dawgs at the hotel bar later tonight.