Start Your Year With A Smile – 2014 Edition

Welcome to Year 5 of my annual photo review. Once again, I went into the year afraid that I’d get nothing and once again I got lots. Once again, I had help from friends and family.  And once again there’s the silly, the absurd, and the in-the-kind-of-bad-taste-that-appeals-mostly-to-inner-13-year-olds-like-me.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This year instead of themes, I’m mostly going to work chronologically. But first, here are the gifts from friends and family. With apologies to those who sent them, over the course of the year, I mostly forgot who sent what.  So I’m not going to attribute them because I would almost certainly get it wrong. Here they are, in the order received:

This school bus company decided that the best way to recruit drivers was to run a bus off the road and slap a sign on it.  Which seems like a great way to recruit exactly the people who shouldn’t be driving a school bus.

Bus Drivers Wanted!

I don’t often post things that have been posted elsewhere, but I like this too much not to.

cookie jar photo

An accurate reflection of last winter in Chicago.


I dare you. . .go ahead and figure out what you are and are not allowed to do here.

No Parking!

A new form of nightlife. . .the Raw-iano Bar?

Piano Player

OK, on to my year.  My tour of the visually absurd which started at O’Hare on January 13. I wasn’t fast enough with the phone, so I missed the actual picture.  But here’s the scene.  See the guy at the far end in the blue hat?

2014-01-13 09.40.14

About a minute earlier, he was right in front of me with his backpack on the floor, bent over, trying to find something in it.  Let’s just say that in that moment, he, umm, revealed himself to be a plumber. Not an apprentice, either. A full-on, no kidding, 100% card-carrying, can’t you at least feel the draft, master plumber.  As the saying goes, I will never be able to not see that.

I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels, and I’ve never hoped or expected to find a pre-printed, fake-handwritten Post-It like the one below stuck to the headboard of the bed.  And I hope never to see another one.  Methinks they doth protest too much.

2014-04-01 23.35.00

The former Caribou near me used tips to run informal polls.  I.e., one cup for Dogs and one for Cats.  Put your buck in the cup you favor  This poll took me a second. Then it made me wince.

2014-04-18 14.15.55

By the way, Holyfield won by a knockout.

OK, bad taste time. . .

In the spring, I found myself stuck in traffic behind this car on a Chicago expressway. (Side note: now, there’s a misappellation for you.   There’s nothing “express” about Chicago freeways. For that matter, there’s nothing “free” about most of them, either.  Now, back to our story. . .)

The nice lady driving this car either loves horse country or she really likes to over-share.

2014-04-22 08.27.28

My money is on over-sharing.  A couple of days later, at the very beginning of the same “expressway,” I saw this sign.

2014-04-25 14.06.04

It’s a little hard to make out because it was flickering. It says “Beam Erection.” Really.  “In the event of a road construction project lasting more than 4 years. . .”

Departing from the chronology briefly (but staying with the bad taste). . .when I was in my mid-20s, I lived in Washington DC for a couple of years. Every day, page 3 of the Washington Post was graced by an ad from Fred the Furrier. One day, the ad featured a woman in a lovely coat under the headline “Joie de Beaver.” Now, I”m sure Fred thought he was being clever, but I got D’s in college French, and even I can translate that. It was the source of much amusement for my roommates and me.

My roommates have matured. I haven’t.  So I was pleased that it turned out to be a banner year for the beaver-related.

There’s this place – an institution on Chicago’s north side:

2014-05-09 19.29.18

And this street downtown Flagstaff (I’m actually not sure which I like better, the name itself or the fact that it’s one-way):

2014-08-30 13.13.35

None of which prepared me for this, which I saw in a brew pub in Idaho Falls.

2014-09-17 18.01.41

I had one, by the way. It was very good.

Back to chronology.  Years ago, my friend Chuck Nordhoff introduced me to the joys of in-bad-taste lawn statuary. So I was delighted to see this guy.  He’s about 4 and a half feet tall.  The hat and the glasses are real.  I don’t know anything about the neighborhood over which he presides.  Only that someone thought he was a good idea.

2014-06-12 17.53.08

We’re now up to mid-summer, and if the beaver thing wasn’t bad enough, please remember that I never make anything up. My friend Anne Beall invited me to view Chicago’s “Pride Parade” (a public celebration of LGBT life, but others join in).  It passes right by her house, and you can see her in the lower right corner of the picture below.  This was my first time seeing the parade. It’s quite a show.

This was the first thing I saw when I arrived.

2014-06-29 15.32.15

I guess everybody needs a cause.  Remember, a group of men and women sat around someone’s living room and decided that they were sufficiently, well, hacked off about this (there are adjectives I could insert here, but even I won’t stoop that low) issue to do this.

I passed this sign on my way home from a day with a client.  Maybe it’s me, but I’m thinking that this is a product for which no amount of advertising or promotion is really going to increase demand.

2014-07-16 18.11.35

I’ve always thought that the homeless suffer perhaps the worst misfortune among us.  So I was surprised to learn that they’re apparently doing quite well.

2014-08-10 19.19.04

I was enormously relieved to see this car. Since they treat all ends of the horse, there’s still a place for me to get medical care.

2014-08-28 18.11.45

This was next door to an office where I had a meeting with a client.  (Yes, you can see me exercising my craft.)  I was not able to get my client to move the meeting here.

2014-08-29 12.01.57

Please read the description of the Grill Room Burger. Then head straight to your local ER because just reading this puts you at risk.

2014-09-10 11.11.49

I saw this just before I heard that Family Dollar had put itself up for sale.  It’s a little dark and you may not be able to make out the sign on the far right.  It says, “New!  Everyday Low Prices!”  Really?  This is Family Dollar.  What the hell have they been doing for the last 25 years?

2014-10-04 18.59.53

Jimmy Hoffa may still be missing, but at least we found Miley Cyrus.

2014-10-10 17.38.07

This place is closed.  I don’t know anything else about it, other than that they stole Dunkin’ Donuts’ tradestyle. But just try to pronounce whatever it is that’s on the sign.  I tried.  I can’t do it.

2014-10-12 12.51.50

I love this place’s definition of “foot.”  Very generous.

2014-10-25 17.31.44

Presumably, the Jew Arena is a foot-traffic nightmare.

2014-11-01 20.35.32

I could imagine this company being many different colors. Honestly, green really isn’t one of them.

2014-11-07 12.51.19

And wrapping up the year, this is the entire beef/poultry section of the menu from a wonderful Italian restaurant. There’s not a lot of beef in the beef/poultry section. For that matter, there’s not a lot of poultry, either.  Lots of lawsuit fear, however.

2014-12-01 10.19.35

And lastly, putting the fun stuff aside for a moment. . .this is the new Freedom Tower (actually One World Trade Center) in New York. From a distance, I didn’t like it very much.  But up close, it’s astounding.  From the right vantage point, It truly seems to ascend forever, touching, one might hope, the souls it honors.

2014-11-10 11.57.43

That’s what I have for you.  I hope you had a wonderful 2014 and that 2015 is even better.  For my part, I already have the first entry for next year’s edition.

7 thoughts on “Start Your Year With A Smile – 2014 Edition

  1. Dear Carp,

    I wrote a blog about the duvet covers sticky note a couple of years ago. Here’s a link .

    That still feels kinda creepy.

    BTW – I spoke with Kathy Houde today about a different issue and she is tickled you’ll be working with that company.


    Jack Altschuler Chief Alive Officer

    Northbrook, IL 60062

    (847) 772.6409 (direct)

    @FullyAliveLead Like us on LinkedIn Like us on FaceBook

    Please think GREEN before printing this email.

    This email is a private communication for my intended recipient. If you received it in error, go ahead and have a look. Click on the Fully Alive Leadership link. Explore. Give us a shout out on this contact link .


  2. Dan, for what it’s worth the attached pics seem to fit right into your post. I saw these advertisements in a junior hockey arena this past weekend whilst attending my girlfriend’s son’s game. Didn’t realize they needed insulation or that there were such calendars available!

    Happy New Year! Jv

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Jim, I’m not sure a picture can be posted in a comment. . .but I got them in the email you sent. Great stuff. I’ll post if I can figure out how.

  3. Very funny. Thanks for sending Dan.

    I hope you are well.


    Douglas B Doolittle Palmer Printing, Inc. 739 S Clark Street Chicago, IL 60605 W312-238-0295 C 773-671-5943

    From: “Carp Diem (Fish of the Day!)” <> Reply-To: “Carp Diem (Fish of the Day!)” <> Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 6:47 PM To: Douglas Doolittle <> Subject: [New post] Start Your Year With A Smile – 2014 Edition

    Dan Wallace posted: “Welcome to Year 5 of my annual photo review. Once again, I went into the year afraid that I’d get nothing and once again I got lots. Once again, I had help from friends and family. And once again there’s the silly, the absurd, and the in-the-kind-of-bad-“

  4. Dan,

    Very enjoyable as always. I hope that you had a great holiday season.

    Take care,

    Tony Chiodo
    2500 W Higgins Road | Suite 500 | Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
    o: 847-310-9200 | m: 847-738-9200 | [cid:image001.png@01D02A6A.94593A80]

    The information contained in this e-mail message may be privileged, confidential, and protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, any further disclosure or use, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this message or any attachment is strictly prohibited. If you think that you have received this e-mail message in error, please delete it and notify us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s