The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
How To Organize A 50th High School Reunion. 

I've recently helped three different high school classes with their 50th reunions, and some of my friends have asked for tips, so here's what I've learned:

First, you'll need a Point Person, and the PP needs a disposable email address - Gmail.com, Ymail.com, whatever.

Second, the PP needs helpers (a "reunion committee"), so s/he can delegate the scut work, and shift the blame, when things get screwed up. Because you know things are gonna get screwed up. ;-)

Third, the organizing effort for each of "my" three reunions (see above) started in a Facebook Group, but I have come to believe it's a mistake to rely solely on FB as a way to disseminate information. Only about 20 to 30 percent (at best) of your affinity group will use FB with any regularity. The rest are either [1] disgusted with FB, or [2] "taking a break" from FB. And if you create a FB Event listing for your reunion, you'll be tempted to associate the Event with your FB Group, or create a Private Event. Resist this urge. Make it a Public Event. Don't force potential attendees to join your FB Group, or to become your FB Friend, just to get access to reunion info. Some of them may still hate your guts because of that thing you did in the high school gym many years ago. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. ;-)

Fourth, you can try posting a reunion announcement on Classmates.com, but only about 30 percent of your classmates will have an account there, and only about 10 percent of the ones who have accounts will respond to the announcement. (After you post the announcement, tell Classmates.com to send out a reminder email or update alert to everybody.) Classmates.com may not be a total waste of time, if they have a scanned copy of your yearbook, but that's becoming less and less likely as more yearbooks start appearing on the Internet Archive.

Fifth, you'll eventually need a public website, because most people won't want to input usernames/passwords into FB or Classmates.com, just to get reunion details. Some of your classmates won't even own a home computer! So if someone in your class knows HTML and can put up a simple page, great. Otherwise, you might try Google Sites, Wix, Weebly, etc. The reunion website is where the majority of your classmates will get their info, but they will probably visit it only once or twice, so KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Sixth, nail down your venue. A hotel is good, because that will keep a lot of drunk people off the road.

Seventh, start updating your names/addresses database from the previous reunion. This site was very useful to us - FastPeopleSearch.com - but I'm sure other free people-locator sites will pop up from time to time.

Eighth, establish a timeline: [1] upload the public reunion website about 8 months in advance, [2] mail out Save The Date cards (w/website address) the next day (affix full letter rate postage so undeliverables will be returned, and you can learn which addresses are wrong), [3] mail out invitations (prices, times, order form, website, etc.) about 4 months in advance.

Ninth, don't be disappointed if only about 30 to 40 percent of your surviving classmates show up. And at the 50-year mark, about 15 percent will not have survived. It might be nice to set up a memorial to honor them.

That's about it. Have fun! And here are some examples: reunion website and online memorials.
 
Suicide By Taillight. 

Our relatively-new Mazda CX-5 has all sorts of standard-issue bells and whistles, most of which are designed to be VERY high-maintenance. Take the headlights, for example. The adaptive front lighting system (AFS) automatically adjusts the headlight beams to the left or right, depending on which way you turn the steering wheel. This means there are left-right adjusting motors on each headlight, just waiting to burn out. The auto-leveling headlight motors (up-down adjustments) are also secretly waiting to malfunction. You can turn off the AFS with a button, but you have to remember to push the d*mn button every f*cking time you start the car. I don't want twitchy headlights that dart around, left and right, up and down, like some nervous serial killer. I just want a set of basic headlights that make the road a little less dark.

I work at night, and one night, I noticed a motorcyclist following me, just a few feet behind the car. At first, I thought it was a cop, but then he pulled up beside me. My peripheral vision could see a leather-clad dude on a chopper. Three feet away from my driver's-side window. Was it road rage? I studiously avoided making eye contact, and my mind raced, trying to remember if I had cut him off. But then, I could see that he was smiling, and indicating that I should roll down my window. Was it a trick? Against my better judgment (it was 9:54pm, in a sh*tty part of town), I opened the window. A crack. He yelled, "Your taillights are off - you need to change the settings!" So I ruefully thanked him, then pulled into the parking lot at my workplace. Sure enough, he was right. The external lights have three settings, and each setting (even the default position) turns on the headlights when the car is moving. But the default position also leaves the taillights OFF.

WHAT THE F*CK?! What kind of madness is this?!! I had assumed, since the headlights were on, that the taillights were on, too. But noooooooooooooooo! Mazda has thoughtfully provided me with a carefully-designed set of Kamikaze Taillights®.

So this morning, I took a look at the owner's manual. The problem seemed to be connected to the Daylight Running Lights (DRL). In Europe, they require headlights to remain on, all the time. But DRL are optional here in the States, and the manual said that only a dealer could turn them off.

F*ck that sh*t. I emailed Mazda USA, and they sent a do-it-yourself Procedure (below) for disabling the DRL. However, trying to read the instructions was, for me, much like attempting to learn the Macarena. I can't dance at all, but I practiced by doing the Hokey Pokey, then patting my head and rubbing my tummy.

OK, deep breath, GO!

Procedure:
1. Apply the parking brake.
2. Set the ignition switch to the ON position (engine off).
3. Press and hold the brake pedal.
 • Continue to press the pedal until the procedure is completed.
 • The entire procedure must be completed within 23 seconds after pressing the brake pedal.
 • Start Step 4 within 2 seconds after pressing the pedal.
4. Turn the headlight switch from OFF to the parking light position 5 times and end with the switch in the OFF position.
 • DO NOT turn the switch all the way to the ON position.
 • Step 4 must be completed within 5 seconds.
 • Start Step 5 within 2 seconds.
5. Press the hazard warning switch 10 times within 5 seconds (on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off).
 • Start Step 6 within 2 seconds.
6. Turn the headlight switch from OFF to the parking light position 5 times and end with the switch in the OFF position.
 • DO NOT turn the switch all the way to the ON position.
 • Step 6 must be completed within 5 seconds.
7. Confirm DRL setting is changed by releasing the parking brake.
 • If DRL is activated: - PARK BRAKE OFF = DRL ON, - PARK BRAKE ON = DRL OFF.
 Note: The setting will not change if the DRL procedure is not completed within the time limits noted in the above procedure.


So I carefully perform the above Procedure TEN F*CKING TIMES, with and without a stopwatch, but no dice. I then check the owner's manual again, which says I can ask any "Authorized Mazda Dealer" to turn off my daytime running lights. But when I take the car over to CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa, the dealership's service manager tells me it can't be done. I respond: "It says right here..." The manager confides in me that the owner's manual covers a lot of different model types, and that on my model, it simply can't be done. So I write to Mazda USA again, and they say the procedure is a bit difficult, but they'll send instructions to CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa. I think: "Sure, and replacing an oil filter is a bit difficult, if you haven't been f*cking trained on how to do it." Then Mazda USA sends me another email, saying the service manager at CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa refuses to perform the procedure. REFUSES?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! AND YOU STILL LET HIM CLAIM TO BE AN AUTHORIZED MAZDA DEALER?!!!

Moral: I'm left with a car that lulls me into a feeling of security during my nighttime commutes, when the headlights turn on automatically. But unless I remember, every d*mn time, to also turn on the TAILLIGHTS, someone is very likely to come speeding up behind me and buttf*ck/ram into the a**-end of my non-taillighted car.

Consolation: As I drive down the freeway at night, I notice several other makes and models of new cars, driving without taillights. Are automakers really that stupid? This is a class-action lawsuit, just WAITING to happen. And I want a piece of that action. Remember, you heard it here first.

Update: My apologies. I think some of you may have mistaken this rant for a How-To article. It's not. It's a What-The-F*ck article. ;-)