Ok... first of all, I don't really know if I am at mid-life or end of life or early life. That's one issue you have when you get to my age. Could go forever. Could end tomorrow. I just don't know.
Second, it's not really a crisis. But it made for a good headline for today's post.
I did, however, take some time out yesterday from our New Years' Eve party preparations to retreat to my private toy workshop behind the house. That's a big part of the reason I didn't post yesterday. I had intended to use the time to reflect on the past year... and overall, I have to feel it was one of the better years... but I ended up reflecting on my entire life. As you might imagine, I have a pretty unique perspective on the world at large. We all have a sense to do the right thing. We all want to be good. We all also have an equally powerful pull toward selfishness. When you look across history, you can see how that struggle plays out at the macro level. And I find it fairly easy to have a non-biased view at that macro level. It gets much more difficult when I look at myself. Did I do everything I could have done? Was there one more hour I could have given? Could I have been easier on Nice/Naughty list? Or should we have been harder? Should I have seen one more child at the mall? Should I have authorized one more toy to be built? How would it have changed a life? Would it have changed the world?
I didn't find any answers in the workshop. I did find a renewed commitment. I will give more than ever in 2008. I will make a bigger difference in 2008... I'm not sure how, but it will not be from a lack of effort. The time in the workshop, I believe, has changed my own personal course in life. I hope it can help change the world...
Well, I better get going. I'll be late for my own New Years' Eve party if I don't wrap this up... not to mention this feels a little heavy for the New Years' Eve party atomosphere.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Monday, December 31, 2007
Ok... first of all, I don't really know if I am at mid-life or end of life or early life. That's one issue you have when you get to my age. Could go forever. Could end tomorrow. I just don't know.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Mrs. Claus and I leave on the 8th for our annual vacation to Maui... we are delaying it briefly to deliver gifts throughout Russia, other parts of eastern Europe, and Egypt on the evening of the 6th of January.
Since we are around anyway, we have decided to host a New Years' Eve party again this year. This is the second year in a row we have made a last minute decision to host a party. The difference this year though is that we are going to host a smaller, more intimate party. Last year's event was huge and we raised a tremendous amount of money for charity with a $1,000 a head "cover" and a casino night theme. The global "who's who" list was here. But this year, we are inviting 9 couples that represent our closest friends for a nice dinner and an evening of mingling & conversation. Mrs. Claus had me picking out appetizers and desserts earlier today.... not a bad way to spend an afternoon! I'm just glad I have my appetite back.
Of course, while I'll be at the party for most of the evening, I do have some New Year's Eve celebrations that I will be attending. So I'll do my share of darting around the globe on the 31st in addition to preparing for and attending the party. Keep an eye out for me if you are at one of the big celebrations in Tokyo, Paris, London, New York, Seattle, etc.
I hope all of you have your plans set for your New Year's Eve celebration. It doesn't have to be big plans... you may simply want to stay at home with family to reflect on the year past and dream about the upcoming new year. Whatever you choose to do, please stay safe.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I am pretty sure it was the raisin pie I had in Greece. I thought I had made it through this year without any problems but it started to hit me last night, shortly after I posted my blog entry. Yep... "stomach issues". Nothing major I am sure but I am having some fever spikes and stomach cramps. About once every 5 years or so, I end up eating something that has "gone bad" during my Christmas Eve travels and I find myself with a bout of mild food poisoning. Frankly, I am a little surprised I don't end up with it every year. Don't worry though, I am drinking plenty of fluids and following doctors' orders.
The silver lining is that its a good excuse for laying on the couch all day. I've been able to do nothing but read the papers, watch TV, surf the internet, email & text old friends, and catch up on my sleep. Not a bad day from that perspective. As long as I'm healthy in time for Mrs. Claus & I to leave on our annual Hawaii vacation in a couple of days, I am not going to worry about it or complain.
My energy is dropping a little so I'm going to cut this short for now. Wishing you a safe and HEALTHY new year!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
What a lazy day! I am almost ashamed to admit I did very little today. I slept in until after 10am and then went for a run. It was snowing heavily but it felt good to shake off the grogginess of a full nights sleep. Mrs. Claus met me with a full breakfast and a steaming hot pot of Christmas Blend coffee when I finished. We took our time over breakfast to talk... it seemed as though the first time we've really talked since last month given that we've both been burning the candle at both ends to get ready for the big Christmas Eve operation.
After breakfast and a warm shower, I did go into HQ to meet with my extended leadership team for a couple of hours. We conducted a full debrief and after action review of the Christmas Eve operation. We do that every year.. and we try to do it as soon as possible... in order to capture our learnings (i.e. What went well, want could have been improved, and what was missign) and start to build a plan to apply them for the next year. Given the world's population growth, our margin for error is shrinking exponentially each year. So even though this year's operation went really well, we have to be even better next year.
Other than that meeting, I didn't do much. I returned after the meeting and took a long nap on the sofa next to the fire while Mrs. Claus read. She said it had been about 30 days since she had a chance to read but that it felt like 30 years. After my nap, I tuned in to a few of the English Premier League Boxing Day matches. I am very excited my ManU club is back on top of the tables after Ronaldo put away the penalty kick.
This evening, after Mrs. Claus and I had dinner with some friends we haven't seen since mid-November, I took a walk down to the Starbucks in the Village Square. It was as empty as I have seen it since the same time last year. The vast majority of elves and reindeer left by mid-day on vacations to sunny locales or to visit family during this Holiday season. Those that are still here are staying close to home so they can re-connect with their loved ones after working most of the waking hours for the past 30 days. I sipped my Egg Nog Latte... probably my last of this Season... and enjoyed the still and quiet of the Village Square at night. It was beautiful with the Christmas tree lit and snow lightly falling. We all work hard but it is times like those this evening in the Village Square that I realize I might just be the luckiest man on this planet. I hope all of you can find that same peace and contentment this Holiday season.
Well... these lazy days are not going to last long. Nor would I want them to. But since they are here, I'm going to call it a night for now. Good night, everyone!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I hope it was a wonderful Christmas for all of you. I think this may have been my best overall.
My Christmas day started about four hours after we landed back at the North Pole. Mrs Claus and I had to wrap up the Operations before we headed home for our traditional Christmas brunch. For some reason, having a nice, leisurely-paced breakfast with Mrs. Claus after the long night and even longer Christmas Eve preparations seems like a luxury. I really start to relax. As I always do, I took a quick nap after breakfast. But not too long... my senior staff came over for a Christmas Day celebration. Its an intimate little gathering... just 20 or so of us (including guests), good food & drink, and a Holiday-season's worth of stories to tell on each other. In past years, I have stepped away to give phone interviews but not this year. I decided this year to completely shut down until Mrs. Claus and the rest of the North Pole team were in bed.
After everyone left, I fell asleep on the recliner as I do each year, next to a roaring fire, watching NBA basketball (Blazers vs. Sonics... I hear the Blazers won their 11th in a row). Mrs. Claus woke me up in the early evening hours so I wouldn't sleep the night away. We went for a walk, hand-in-hand, around the Village to enjoy the lights and the lightly falling snow. When we got back from our walk, Mrs. Claus made hot chocolate while I brought in more wood for the fireplace. Once we got settled, with the fire once again roaring and the hot chocolate in our mugs, we exchanged gifts. Last year I seemed to get every gift for Mrs. Claus wrong... things didn't fit or it was the wrong color or it was something. But this year I got it right. Everything was spot on. Yes, even I have problem giving gifts to my spouse! So don't feel bad if you find yourself in the returns line tomorrow morning.
Well, Mrs. Claus has retired for the evening. I'm pretty tired but I wanted to check in with you before I take a 10 or 12 hour nap for the first time in a few months and wish you a very Merry Christmas before the day is over. I hope you have some time this week between Christmas and New Years Day to relax and re-energize for the new year ahead. If you do, take the time to focus on your blessings. If you find you are truly blessed... as I believe you will... make a point to share those blessings with someone else during these last days of the Holiday season.
Merry Christmas, everyone! With Love, Santa
...and to all a Good Night! The last presents have been delivered, the last cookie eaten, the last glass of milk consumed, and the last stocking filled. Once we get the "all clear" signal from the North Pole Command Center, we'll point the sleigh due north and return home. I hope everyone has had as much fun this Christmas Eve as I have had tonight. Tomorrow is going to be the best Christmas ever!
Good night, all! I will not update my log until late in the day to day as I plan on enjoying Christmas brunch with Mrs. Claus and taking a nap.
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21
I just left Nome, Alaska. Talk about cold! Brrr. But the best news is that I'm headed south to the Hawaiian Islands. I'll make a few stops between but I can shed the jacket for a few minutes and swap out my Starbucks Christmas blend coffee for some 100% Kona coffee. At least while I'm cruising through the Islands. Love it down there. Mrs. Claus and I will be back in the Islands for our annual vacation in a little more than a week. Can't wait!
To all of you now awake across Europe, Asia, Africa, & Australia/Oceania... Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Thank you all for all of the snacks that you have left out! I have had some tremendous food this evening. I believe these are some of the best cookies, milk, egg nog, pie, etc. that I've ever had. There was some cheesecake I had in Vermont that was unbelievable. I had to call Mrs. Claus and tell her that I think someone finally outdid her on cheesecake. Until tonight, I didn't think it was possible. But.. wow!
The reindeer also want to make sure that I pass on their thanks for all of the carrots, apples, and oats.
Well... for you kids along the Pacific seaboard of North & South America, you need to be in bed. I'll be in your neighborhood very soon.
I am currently delivering presents in northern Canada. We are not too far from home but we still have a long ways to go tonight... about another 4 hours. The reindeer definitely feel much more at home in these environs. Though they were spooked briefly at a house a few minutes ago when they got the scent of a polar bear. We were airborne again though by the time we actually spotted the bear.
Merry Christmas, North America!
I am currently just outside Atlanta, Georgia. We are running a little behind schedule as air traffic control at Hartsfield unexpectedly re-routed us. But you kids along the eastern seaboard of the US should go ahead and be getting to bed. I'm working my way north and will be at your house before you know it.
All is well so far. The reindeer are doing well. Everyone is past their bout with air sickness and we're feeling good. See you soon!
I am over Europe right now. We are back on schedule. This is despite a little turbulence we ran into earlier this evening. It was severe enough that Comet & Dasher both got air sick. Not a pretty sight! The elves washed them down at the last replenishment stop and they were able to eat and drink with the other reindeer. The turbulence also spilled coffee all over me. I had just poured a cup of steaming hot Starbucks Christmas blend. It's cold up here and I needed the coffee to stay warm & alert. I should have known better but I didn't put the cup back in the cup holder while I was closing up the thermos. Sure enough... that's when we hit the first big bump. Coffee went everywhere. Fortunately all the gifts were in my water-proof sack. Just as fortunately, I'm wearing thick clothing... no coffee burns. The legal folks at Starbucks can rest easy.
Ok... all you kids across Europe, get to bed!
Merry Christmas, Everyone. I am running a little behind schedule. Nothing to worry about though.
We are currently in Indian airspace. We'll be setting down at our replenishment station in just a few moments. From there we'll cover the much of India & central Asia before stopping in the Middle East for yet another replenishment before heading down into Africa.
We have been experiencing some communication issues. We are now using our back-up communications systems that I normally use to post blogs as the primary channel back to North Pole Flight Operations. As such, some of my posts may experience a bit of delay.
Just a side note to the folks that called out the issue between the spelling of Donder vs. Donner (also, there is a Blixon vs. Blitzen debate). Donder & Blixon are the Norwegian spellings. Donner & Blitzen are the typical British & American versions.
I am at the second replenishment center in Australia. Due to security reasons, I can not tell you the exact location of the center. The flight remains on schedule. I have gone undetected through most of central & eastern Asia. The reindeer remain strong and are feeling good. We'll replenish here before delivering through out Australia, New Zealand, and on up through Indonesia.
See you soon!
I am currently at the first Replenishment Center. Due to security reasons, the exact location must remain undisclosed.... all I can say is that I am in western China at the moment. As the sleigh is being re-loaded, I'm taking a very brief break to update my web log. The reindeer have been showered and are eating before resuming flight.
So far, deliveries through most of the Pacific Islands in both northern & southern hemispheres on this side of the International Dateline have been completed as have some deliveries in Japan and other parts of Far East Asia. We are about to double back and cover the remainder of Japan before heading down the eastern coast of China and on down to Australia.
We are currently right on schedule. We'll be entering each time zone just an hour or so after dark.... so make sure you are getting to bed on-time to help ol' Santa stay on schedule. I'm being told the sleigh is loaded and ready for take-off... so enough for now. Remember you can track my travels today at http://www.noradsanta.org/
The sleigh is loaded and on the pad. All other orders are at their respective Replenishment Centers. The flight plan is confirmed. The reindeer are hitched to the sleigh. I am now on-board the sleigh and communicating my messages to this web-page via satellite communications.
We are "All Systems Go" for lift-off.
You can track my progress at http://www.noradsanta.org/. I will also use the on-board computer to write periodic updates when I have the opportunity.
"Now Dasher! now Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! on Cupid! on Donder and Blitzen!"
This is my FAVORITE day of the year! It is just after midnight on Monday, December 24th. Operation Christmas Eve 2007 is now fully underway. The entire North Pole crew is in full gear for the next 24+ hours. Many - myself, Mrs. Claus, and the senior elf staff included- started around 4am this morning and we'll just work all the way through. Close to 48 hours of no sleep. But we are powered by pure, high-octane Christmas Spirit.
I am about to walk over to the sled inspection. The reindeer are sleeping right now but will be awakened in about 3.5 hours to eat the big carbo-loading breakfast and begin their preparations. I am ready to go!
I'll be updating my log periodically today. You can also track my progress today at http://www.noradsanta.org/
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Christmas Eve Eve... The Eve of THE Eve.... December 23rd.
Last night's test run went well. We had a few minor issues and identified some route adjustments but overall it was very successful.
As far as today goes... all I can say is "Wow". 1 hour of sleep and then it was back to full speed. It was an exciting morning. I knew as soon as the alarm went off that it was about to be a mad rush to the Christmas Eve finish line. It's 24 hours a day right through the final delviery.
After breakfast, I attended church in the village. There is only one church here but everyone... and I mean, everyone... is there on Sunday mornings. The whole North Pole shuts down for an hour and a half. When church let out, everyone scurried out in different directions. By the time I had gone home, changed into my work clothes, and headed across the village square to the Head Quarters, the team was already in full force. Everyone was hustling around with last minute preparations.
In addition to the normal mall appearances, I also had staff meetings, a few media appearances, parades, and a brief tour of the production, distribution, and replenishment centers. I can tell you after the tours and staff meetings that overall readiness is very good. It may be the best we have ever been. 2007 is going to be a very good Christmas!
Well, I'm going to enjoy a nice late dinner with Mrs. Claus in a few hours (closer to 11pm), then at the stroke of midnight, Operation Christmas Eve 2007 officially kicks in. I'm not going to be the only one going non-stop... Mrs. Claus basically orchestrates the entire Christmas Eve operation from the North Pole. She is the one at the command center who calls all the shots. Jingle, as my Chief of Staff, plays a critical role in overseeing the execution of the night's operational plan but Mrs. Claus is in charge overall. She keeps an eye on the big picture, sets the priorities for the night, and approves any changes to plan. Alot of TV shows picture her handing over a scarf and admonishing me to be careful as I leave and then meeting me with hot chocolate and cookies upon my return. The silliness of the suggestion that I'd even consider another cup of hot chocolate or cookies after a night of feasting on it at virtually every house aside, Mrs. Claus is actually in the Command Center, focused on the night's activities. The night's operation doesn't end when the sleigh touches down at the North Pole. The operation is officially underway until we have verified all the gifts were delivered to their intended destinations, the sleigh is moved to the hangar, the reindeer are fed & examined by our medical teams, and all Centers except the Command Center are shut-down for the night. I am typically at home and waiting for Mrs. Claus with hot chocolate and cookies when she gets home.
Speaking of getting home, I've got a few emails to answer and a phone call to make before I go meet Mrs Claus for that late dinner. Have a good night. Go to bed early, kids!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The deadline for requests is quickly approaching. In just a few short hours, time will be up. There are a few extra hours for those of you that choose to use text messaging and/or email.
Toy production is in full swing. Bo reports that we remain ahead of schedule. We finalized the flight plan today as we have a high degree of confidence in the weather forecast. The reindeer teams and elves have been very busy today shuttling product from the North Pole to the various replenishment centers around the world. We also have cargo planes shuttling containers from the China & India production facilities. A very busy day for North Pole Inc. All indicators are that we are set for one of the best Christmases ever.
I toured a number of the replenishment centers earlier today. Between stops, I made a number of appearances in town squares and at malls around Europe & North America. It was crazy. I am glad I can fly in, land on roof tops, and fly out without dealing with the traffic out there. If consumer spending is any indication, the economy is just fine.
I have to go. We are conducting a test run tonight along with the top reindeer team and I don't want to be late. Keep your eyes in the skies if you are up tonight.... you just may see us. And don't wait to get that request in... you just have a few hours. Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 21, 2007
I crawled into bed just before 4am. The alarm was set for 5am so I would have time to eat breakfast and review the most recent toy allocation reports prior to the senior staff meeting at 6am. But the phone rang at 4:45am. I have found that the majority of people around the world tend to forget about time zone differences. I know some highly educated people who managed to pass the elementary class where the teacher explained time zones but somehow when they get focused on their work at hand seem to forget all about it until the person on the other end answers with that all-too familiar grumble associated with being awakened in the midst of REM sleep. And I should also acknowledge that North Pole Time (aka NPT) and its unique charateristics are not widely understood at all. But more on that later. I want to tell you a little about the phone call first. I initially thought it was a joke. The producers for "Dancing With The Stars" were calling!
I caught Jingle before the staff meeting and told him about the offer from "Dancing With The Stars". They made a generous offer for me to be on next season's show. Jingle felt strongly, given the boost it would give us in the "belief" metrics, that I should do it. My gut... both literally and figuratively... tell me I shouldn't do it. I have visions of Billy Ray Cyrus dancing in my head. Mrs. Claus says I definitely should decline the offer. Can you imagine me "busting a move" on international TV? Melody in Public Relations told me that an appearance on "Dancing With The Stars" is one step away from late night infomercials. I'll think about it this weekend, but I'm skeptical at this point.
I mentioned North Pole Time earlier. I am not really the right person to explain it... it is far too technical for me... but I can say that because we sit at the junction of all the time zones, there are some unique capabilities we have realized in moving easily between time zones. That - in and of itself - is not all that remarkable. But there is something magical about how we can travel within a time zone and return to the North Pole - no matter how long we have been gone - within the same hour we left as long as we arrive & depart from the Launch pad. The Launch pad is directly on the true North Pole. Time doesn't stop so much as it "re-sets". That's not the best description either but its the closest I can relay at this point. It is this capability that we leverage to deliver to 302M homes in a 24 hour period.
Speaking of time, I am pressed for it. 14 minutes until I am to meet Jingle at the Flight Operations Center. We are headed to meet with an unnamed head of state regarding last minute changes to authorized air routes. No surprises... this type of thing happens every year. So good night for now! I will see you very soon. Enjoy your weekend in the meantime.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
So just how many houses will I have to visit on Christmas Eve? That is a question I hear at least once at every mall I visit and at every media interview I conduct. The answer changes every year. And, in fact, the exact number changes right up until the Christmas Eve Launch as kids can move on & off the "Naughty" & "Nice" lists. This year, the range will be between 301 million and 303 million. As of just the last flight scenario, we had 301,871,061 qualified and targeted houses (or apartments, condos, etc... i.e. primary dwellings).
So how did I get to that number? As of Christmas Eve, there will be 1,826,754,283 children worldwide aged 14 and under. Yes, that's 1.8+ BILLION. And yes, only those 14 & under fit in the standard qualifications. This is probably the main reason we have such high "unbelief" numbers. I do make some exceptions for those 15 & older... but more on that later.
Of the 1.8B children worldwide, 609,232,003 actually celebrate Christmas. If you don't celebrate Christmas, then I don't visit. There is a very small percentage, less than 1%, that celebrate Christmas but their parents do not give us permission to visit. You may not have known this but since 1927, our legal department has required written parental consent for us to visit on Christmas Eve. Those who have not given us permission are also counted in the "not celebrating Christmas" category.
So, of the 609M children who are part of families that celebrate Christmas, only 541,202,396 still believe in me. They are the ones who understand that I - Santa Claus - am real as long as they believe. Only when no one believes will I cease to exist.
Then there is the whole Naughty/Nice thing.... of the remaining group, 392,432,379 are currently on the nice list.
And because of extraordinary belief and extraordinary goodness of heart, there are a few over the age of 14 who qualify each year. This year, there will be roughly 102M above the age of 14 who will qualify for visits from Santa.
So this represents a final number of approximately 1.3 children per household. So there you have it.... 302 million houses! What fun it is!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Some of the most often asked questions I receive when I'm out are about the reindeer. The first year I started writing this blog, a little girl at a mall in Springfield, Illionis inspired me to share a little about Rudolph. Well... wouldn't you know it? I had mentioned last week that I might share some of the more popular stories from the previous two seasons of blogging once again this year. And that's when I got an email from that same little girl... although she is now in junior high school and, disappointingly, one of the very few in her class that still believe in Santa... requesting that I once again share the story. If you were one of the original readers, you may recognize much of this story but I hope you'll enjoy it again.
I think most of you know a lot about Rudolph. Surprisingly, the classic TV show "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" is fairly accurate. The producers spent quite a bit of time up here at the North Pole researching the story and seeking direct input from Rudolph, Donder, Mrs. Claus, and others. I wish I could say the same for all the other shows about Rudolph... unfortunately, most of those are just the result of someone's creative imagination.Rudolph is the son of Donder, one of my original reindeer team members. Unlike the TV show and the song, Rudolph never was alienated by the other reindeer. Quite the contrary. Yes, we were surprised by the red nose... but as the one of on of the most respected reindeer on the ranch, Rudolph was clearly destined for greatness from the beginning. The fact that he was also a well-behaved kid and excelled at the reindeer games only made him that much more popular. Of course, there were childhood pranks... and Rudolph was occasionally on the receiving end. In fact, one of the funniest stories I remember about Rudolph was the time Cupid decided to put purple cellophane over his nose. But I will save that for another day when we have more time.
And speaking of time, I don't have much. I am supposed to meet Jingle at the main Production Center in 10 minutes. See you in just a few days!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
For Immediate Release
REQUEST DEADLINE ANNOUNCED
11:59pm on Saturday, December 22nd is the requested deadline for letters to Santa. Santa and the entire North Pole team love making the wishes and dreams of children real. As such, letters will be received and processed on a good faith effort after the 11:59pm deadline; however, for best results, you should plan to have your letter arive prior to the deadline. The requested deadlines for email and/or text message letters is four hours later at 4:00am on Sunday, December 23rd.
Please direct all media inquires to Melody in Public Relations
Monday, December 17, 2007
I absolutely love the final week before Christmas. The entire North Pole is buzzing with activity. I don't think anyone sleeps more than a couple of hours a night as we all strive to make sure this will be the best Christmas ever. It is truly exhilirating. As most of you know, I love my Starbucks Christmas blend - I drink it non-stop up until I go to bed - but it is not the caffeine that keeps me going. This final week is truly exhilirating.
I was in a full day meeting today with all of my direct reports and their management teams. We spent the entire day reviewing various scenarios for Christmas Eve. It still seems a little unreal that we are only one week away. We started with a review of the top 3 most likely global weather scenarios. After that, Bo (head of Production) provided an update on our production schedules by site. With the overarching scenario set, Bob (head of Flight Operations) laid out 2 different routing options for each of the three weather forecasts. Ollie (head of Logistics) then filled in with the plan with each of the three corresponding plans for staging product at the various replenishment sites. Candy (head of Operations... Bo & Ollie both report to her) tied it all together with a recommended plan that included a framework of how the organization could shift to respond to any of the other possible scenarios with a 36 hour notice. We'll continue to revisit the current conditions & status throughout the week. As long as we can get the weather forecast locked down by 6pm on Saturday, December 22nd, we should be able to adjust and accomodate any of the scenarios we reviewed today. And we are highly accurate with our weather forecasts within a 36 hour window. I continue to have high confidence for this year's Christmas Eve Operation. It may be the best ever!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Wow. The second to last weekend before Christmas Eve! Where did all the time go? There is so much to do and so little time left to do it. It is not that we are behind schedule... we are right on schedule... but there are so many things that just have to wait until the last 10-15 days that this happens every year. It is primarily due to the fact that we accept letters and requests until the last minute. If we ever implemented a December 1st deadline for submitting requests to Santa as Candy has advocated in the past, we would have a much easier task and have most everything completed by now. But we'd also have a lot of unhappy kids as well. And then there is the weather planning. Our routes have so many stops now that we have to optimize our routing in order to fit everything in time. Weather has a lot to do with which routes are optimal. And that, of course, determines where we pre-position inventory for replenishing the sleigh on Christmas Eve night. While technology has enabled significantly improved forecasting accuracy, we still can not start to lock into forecasts until 5 to 7 days beforehand. So in the end, there's always so much to do in the last week or two that I find myself only sleeping a couple of hours a night.
It was a good weekend. Most of the parades are completed. I only had one parade in Europe and one parade in the US; however, I spent a lot more time visiting with kids in malls, libraries, etc. When I haven't been traveling around the world visiting kids, I've been back here at the North Pole keeping a pulse on our production operations. Despite the fact there is still a lot remaining to be completed, it is looking good overall. I am expecting a fantastic Christmas Eve. Kids - be getting those milk and cookie plates ready!! I am going to be there before you know it!
Friday, December 14, 2007
This is my third year to tell this story about my "First" Christmas. Based on popular demand (my email box is filling up with requests), I'm going to publish a few of the old "classic" stories. I hope you enjoy this one again. - Love, Santa.
The first Christmas I remember was when I was 3 years old. I lived with my father and mother near the small village of Drobak. My father was an exiled king. Before I was born, he had ruled a kingdom that stretches across much of what is now Germany. Soon after my mother became pregnant with me, my father's younger brother, who had been the next in line for the throne, conspired with a neighboring king to overthrow my father. Fearing for the life of my mother and me, my father fled to Norway. Though my father remained extremely wealthy, having escaped with much of the family treasures, we lived like paupers so as not to draw attention to ourselves. Our house was just outside the Village. My father had built it with his own hands. It was probably the first thing he had ever built. It was small, drafty, and almost perptually dark as it sat under the deep cover of the forest... the only warmth coming from a stone fireplace and the only light from that fire and the candles my mother had made. Yet when we were all there together, it somehow seemed to glow with warmth. Back then, there was no Santa Claus (obviously!) to bring presents, no Christmas parades, no Christmas parties, no Sales at the mall, no TV Holiday Specials, no Christmas carols, nor gift giving. There were certainly no Christmas lights. In fact, the only semblance of a decoration for most families at that time was a small tree. Traditionally, a small tree was cut each year and brought inside on Christmas Eve to be decorated by the family. As you can tell, our Christmases were pretty "bare" by today's standards. From that 'first' Christmas, aged 3, I remember getting in the sleigh right after we finished decorating our tree on Christmas Eve. We traveled several kilometers through the woods to the closest church. I remember my father crying - a small tear running down his cheek - as the priest told the story of how God had sent His only Son to the world - not as a prince but as a poor baby sleeping in rags in a stable - in order to save the very people that no longer believed in God. After the service, he knelt and prayed for the longest time. I do not know until this day what he prayed but as I now look back, I can imagine that he gave thanks and prayed that he would have the strength to be an example of that kind of love. It was dark by the time we started our trip back home. We stopped several times. Each time my father would jump out of his seat, pull something from the sleigh, and bound through the snow towards a nearby cabin. As I grew older, and after many years of the same stops, I figured out that my father was leaving small bags of gold coins at the doors of those most needy. The next morning, the residents would wake up to find the coins at their doorstep and their quality of life changed forever. Never again would they wonder where the next meal would come. No one ever expected it to be my father and that was exactly how he wanted it. I fell quickly asleep once we returned home. As I would every Christmas after that until I moved out, I awoke to the sounds of people chattering excitedly about Christmas morning. The smell of pancakes and hot cider permeated the air. Most of the villagers were gathering at our house. We didn't have much space, but somehow, almost everyone squeezed into that small, 1-room home for a delicious Christmas morning breakfast that my mom had stayed up all night to prepare. She did not want anyone to be alone on Christmas Day. She told me that morning that she believed Christmas was a day of Hope, intended to be spent rejoicing with friends and family rather than focusing on every day trials. I will never forget that Christmas, though I was merely 3 years old. At the time I did not know it, but this was our annual Christmas tradition. My father never stopped weeping at the Christmas story. And he never stopped giving anonymously to those in need. And my mother never stopped hosting the village in our home on Christmas Day. As I grow older, I realize that my parents lived life, and approached every decision, with that same spirit of Christmas. The lessons they have taught me, will never leave me. I only pray to set the same example of selfless giving that my father & mother set before me. Merry Christmas, All!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I am going to warn you up front that if you haven't yet watched tonight's episode of Survivor: China, then you should stop reading now.
...but more on that later. What a busy day! I stayed at the North Pole HQ all day today but I had non-stop meetings. It seems like everyone wanted "just 30 minutes" of my time. Friday through Sunday I will be out of the office virtually the entire time with parades, mall appearances, charity events, TV & radio appointments, and touring our production & distribution sites. Since everyone knows I'm out of the office and we have under 2 weeks to go, everyone is trying to squeeze in a few minutes with me while I'm around.
I skipped my run this morning as I had a 5am conference call with a head of state (unnamed for security reasons) regarding a dispute we are having over air space clearance for Christmas Eve. All three potential flight patterns we have laid out over that country involve an incursion of restricted military air space and it has sparked a debate between the North Pole team and that country's military leadership. I believe we resolved the issue but won't know for sure until we talk again tomorrow morning. Then it was off to a 5:30a working breakfast with my senior staff, where each staff member provided a brief update on their area's current status. By 6:30a, we had finished and I was starting the first of 17 straight meetings in my office... all :30 in length. I skipped lunch as you can imagine. Then I walked over to Flight Operations for a 1 hour de-brief on the new features that have been added to the sleigh for the Christmas Eve route. I had to get the de-brief today as I will be taking the new sleigh on my travels this weekend so I can get used to it and shake out any issues. Then it was a working dinner with the executives from the company that runs our third-party manufacturing facilities. After dinner, I met with my senior staff again to follow-up on issues that were raised during the morning meeting. After that, I had two more 1:1 meetings, a conference call, and a remote TV interview. Whew!
I was mentally fatigued. So instead of answering emails, I decided to watch Survivor: China. I can not believe Peih-Gee was voted off! I really thought Amanda would try to turn the game around and align with Denise. And speaking of Denise... bad move not taking Peih-Gee on the reward challenge. Definite check mark for her on the "Naughty" side of the balance sheet. In fact, here is how the final 5 members stack up on my Naughty & Nice lists (I can almost hear the lawyers choking even as I type this):
Amanda = Nice
Peih-Gee = Nice (but on the jury as of tonight)
Denise = Naughty (for failing to "re-pay" Peih-Gee's kindness)
Todd = Naughty
Courtney = Naughty (mainly for her lack of regard for the culture, food, and her hosts' generosity)
The North Pole legal teams says I am never supposed to release Naughty/Nice information, but seriously, how many of you couldn't figure this one out? Oh well... regardless, it makes for good, mindless entertainment and that's just what I needed after my day full of meetings.
I am ready to "hit the road" tomorrow. See you out there!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We receive a staggering number of letters every year from kids. I make every effort possible to read them all. Every so often there are a few that really stand out. I'd like to share with you one of those I received today... (I did correct some spelling).... - Santa
Dear Mr. Claus,
I have tried really, really hard to be a good boy this year. Sometimes I was mean to my brother and I would not share my cars. I did not always clean my room when my mommy and daddy told me to. I may not have been good all the time but I hope you will still bring a gift. I do not want anything for me. Please give the Hot Wheels track and cars that I asked for at the mall to a kid who may not have any other toys. We learned in Sunday School this week that some boys and girls do not get toys for Christmas. I thought you brought presents to everyone but I guess you just run out. Mrs. Lee, Kindergarten teacher, said that Christmas is supposed to be about giving and not getting. So you can give my toys to someone else. Just please stop by my house. I am going to stay up all night so I can see you on Christmas Eve. Mommy is making fudge. We can have fudge and chocolate milk together. I can't wait to see you!
Merry Christmas Santa!
p.s. Please tell Rudolph hello!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
My morning appearances across Asia and Europe went as scheduled but I do very few visits there during mid-week, so I was done fairly early. Additionally, I had an unusually slow afternoon today since almost all of my North American appearances were cancelled due to the ice storms. I am very concerned about the people across the US & into Canada that are without power. We have offered any logistical support we can provide to local authorities as we always do in times of need.
I took advantage of having the afternoon off to hand craft a few toys of my own. I retreated to my private workshop situated behind the house. I love going back there whenever I need to think something through or simply "get away from it all". The smell of fresh cut woods, the sound of a roaring fire, and the feel of the sawdust under my feet... an instant escape. When I am there, I am no longer the CEO of a global operation but just a simple toymaker laboring in love. That is what I truly am at heart and in that workshop, that is all I have to be. I still make a hundred toys a year on my own. I usually work on them each night for 30 minutes or so before I go to bed... it was a real treat to have an entire afternoon free to work on these. For the toys I make, I still use all manual tools... wood chisel, hammers, saws, carving knives, paint brushes, etc. I had so much fun!
Unfortunately, due to security concerns, I can not reveal who all is slated to receive one of the 100 toys that I made myself; however, I can tell you that the receipents are spread across every continent. If you look on the toy, you will see the North Pole seal as well as my signature and you will know you received one of the toys made by me. On Christmas morning, check to see if you received one of the ones I made!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Below are my picks for this year's bowl season. My pick to win is in bold. Keep in mind that while I am a college football fan, I am so busy I rarely get to watch any games. So this could be ugly....
12/20 - Poinsetta Bowl: Navy vs. Utah
12/21 - New Orleans Bowl: Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis
12/22 - Papajohns.com Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Southern Miss
12/22 - New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico vs. Nevada
12/22 - Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs. UCLA
12/23 - Hawaii Bowl: Boise State vs. East Carolina
12/26 - Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Purdue
12/27 - Holiday Bowl: Arizona State vs. Texas
12/28 - Champs Sports Bowl: Boston College vs. Michigan State
12/28 - Texas Bowl: Houston vs. TCU
12/28 - Emerald Bowl: Oregon State vs. Maryland
12/29 - Meineke Car Care Bowl: Connecticut vs. Wake Forest
12/29 - Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Central Florida
12/29 - Alamo Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Penn State
12/30 - Independence Bowl: Colorado vs. Alabama
12/31 - Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. Cal
12/31 - Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech
12/31 - Sun Bowl: South Florida vs. Oregon
12/31 - Music City Bowl: Florida State vs. Kentucky
12/31 - Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Indiana
12/31 - Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Clemson vs. Auburn
1/1 - Outback Bowl: Tennessee vs. Wisconsin
1/1 - Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Arkansas
1/1 - Capital One Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan
1/1 - Gator Bowl: Virginia vs. Texas Tech
1/1 - Rose Bowl: USC vs. Illinois
1/1 - Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Hawaii
1/2 - Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
1/3 - Orange Bowl: Virgina Tech vs. Kansas
1/5 - International Bowl: Ball State vs. Rutgers
1/6 - GMAC Bowl: Tulsa vs. Bowling Green
1/7 - BCS National Championship: Ohio State vs. LSU
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Another busy December Sunday! But before I tell you about my Sunday, I need to tell you what happened last night (techinically, it was this morning as it was well after midnight). I had gone to the long-range forecast meeting after Mrs. Claus had gone to bed and I had posted to the blog. Jingle, Blitzen, and I went to the Village Square Starbucks (open 24 hours during December) just to hang out, visit, and wind down a little after the full day. I had a decaf, non-fat, sugar-free, no-whip Ginger Bread Latte... but I digress.... Before we knew it, we had been there an hour and it was really late. Despite the deep chill in the air on the walk home, I was feeling tired. My eyelids felt like they had lead weights tied to them. I must have been more fatigued than I thought because when I opened the door, I couldn't remember our security alarm code. The system is pretty new, less than a year, so I'm not completely used to it yet. North Pole Security was insistent that we put it in. But what gets me, is we have to change the code every week. We had just changed it on Friday and I was so tired, I just couldn't recall what it was. I paniced and tried a couple of combinations that seemed vaguely familiar as the system kept repeating "Disarm System Now. Disarm System Now. You have 10 seconds to disarm. Disarm System Now." Then BOOM. It went off. And it was loud! Flashing lights, screaming sirens inside the house and out. I could see lights coming on in the surrounding houses. The dog came running and growling... though he stopped when he saw it was me. And security guards came from every corner. The guards were able to shut the alarm off but not until we had disturbed most of the neighborhood. Poor Mrs. Claus said she was so startled she straight up in bed. It took her a moment to gather her senses and then when she realized I wasn't there, she hit her personal panic button... sending more guards into action and creating even more noise and confusion. By the time we got it all sorted out and settled back down, it was time for me to go for my run. So I just didn't go to bed last night.
It was a good Sunday overall. My run was a little slow... I didn't run far given the fatigue and lack of sleep. But I downed a whole lot of Christmas Blend coffee before church. The last thing I need is the papparazzi to get a picture of me nodding off in church. After church, it was off to the rounds of parades, parties, and mall appearances. I did make appearances at a couple of sporting events including Blackburn vs. West Ham in England and New England vs. Pittsburgh in the US. I always enjoy those. I didn't get to stay for the full game in either case though. Too much to do. Mrs. Claus & I closed out the day with dinner and I'm calling it an early night after I check email and finish up here. Good Night, All! Hope you had a good weekend.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Saturdays in December are always busy and today was no different. I visited 23 countries today for various reasons. I also sat in a toy design review session late this afternoon after returning from the trip. We have a new toy that we were hoping to introduce this year but it has been running behind schedule all through the summer and autumn. Alot of conflicts between what the designer wants and what the developers can actually produce. In this case, the designer is Noel. Noel is (debateably) our best and most prolific designer. Her toys routinely become the hottest of the season. The problem is that she knows she is good... so she doesn't feel like she has to compromise. It has gotten where most of the developers don't want to work with her, except for the fact they enjoy the challenges she creates with her designs. Slowly the conflicts have been resolved... Noel finally made a few minor changes and the developers have found some creative ways for the toy to be manufactured. There is only one remaining hurdle. The session this afternoon... which ran into the evening... was about understanding our options for dealing with the one remaining obstacle and determining our path forward. Given that our option forward is going to require a new set of tooling be produced, we have decided to postpone Noel's toy until next Christmas. It was mixed feelings for most everyone. We are excited to know we can now actually produce & distribute the toy but are disappointed it will have to wait until next year. I know you are probably wondering about the toy but unfortunately I am not at liberty to share any details with you. That's our standard policy here at North Pole Inc.
After the session, I joined Mrs. Claus for dinner. We don't get to enjoy dinner together that often during the Christmas season, particularly on Saturdays, so it was nice. After dinner, Jingle, Candy, Bo, and I toured the North Pole production facility while Bo provided an update on production status. Here at the North Pole facility, we are running at capacity and have had virtually no unplanned downtime. The team has been exceeding the daily qouta by about 1%. All of our raw materials for the remainder of the season have been staged here at the North Pole.
After the production floor tour, we went to one of the conference rooms, where Bo gave us an update on production at our off-shore, 3rd party operated manufacturing facilities. The China facility is exceeding production goals... though the costs are coming in 3% higher than expected. The increased cost is primarily a result of my direction to not only perform 100% inspection on all of the toys coming out of the facility but to also apply a more robust set of testing & inspection critera. My concern is not only is it a new facility with a new vendor for us, but I am also concerned about the heightened public awareness of qaulity & safety issues with items manufactured in China. It we were to have any issues at all out of that facility, it could create some significant public relations damage. Quality is so high at our North Pole facility that we only do random sampling so the costs are much lower. At the India facility, Bo tells us that we have recovered from some of the earlier issues and are back on track. He was also able to confirm that work has begun on the Disaster Recovery plan there and that he expects it to be fully implemented within the week. Overall, we are on-track for Christmas Eve and I am feeling really good about the current status.
Ok... it's late - Mrs. Claus has already gone to bed - but I need to run down to HQ for a quick meeting regarding the long-range weather forecasts and potential impacts to our distribution & flight planning.
Friday, December 07, 2007
I have been asked by several readers to re-publish the "100 Things About Me" list. I've made a handful of updates. But here it is.... Enjoy. - Santa
100. I am known by many names - Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, St. Nick, etc.
99. I live at the North Pole
98. I am Norwegian
97. My favorite food is Pizza
96. My favorite dessert is Ice Cream - Strawberry
95. My favorite marathon is the Boston Marathon
94. I love football
93. I am deeply in love with my wife, Mrs. Claus
92. I vacation in Hawaii every "off-season"
91. I secretly wish I could be on Survivor (It just wouldn't be fair for me to be on Amazing Race)
90. My annual salary, bonus, and other compensation is zero dollars. This is volunteer work.
89. I sneak away from my security detail to participate in extreme sports.
88. I once bowled a 300 game.
87. I once shot a 72... on 9 holes. I am not much of a golfer.
86. I love Starbucks Christmas blend.
85. I have a fear of flying... commercially. Not via reindeer.
84. I do almost all the cooking for Mrs. Claus and myself January through October.
83. If I were to have a second job, I would want to be a school teacher.
82. My father was a king.
81. I speak 12 languages. I use a translator for all other languages.
80. I play the piano
79. I paint. Oils... no water color.
78. I have had dinner with every American President.
77. I refuse to celebrate my birthday. I'd just rather not think about it.
76. I am very shy.
75. I dabble in day trading.
74. I do not have a drivers' license.
73. I bristle at political correctness. Why can we not just be ourselves and respect each other for who we are rather than putting up a facade?
72. I have lived in three different countries.
71. My favorite color is not red. It is blue.
70. I have a horse named "Trigger".
69. I have a dog - a German Shepard - named Joe.
68. I read every single name on the naughty list.
67. I just quickly skim the nice list.
66. I lip-sync when I am out caroling or singing in the choir. I can't sing and I don't want anyone to hear how poorly I sing.
65. I was reluctant to blog. This is my third season and I must admit I really enjoy it.
64. I realize, working my way back from 100 to 1, that thinking of 100 things to tell people about my self is actually quite challenging.
63. I will record and watch all the college football bowl games. I record them to DVD and can watch them on the sleigh while I'm in transit.
62. I had a broken arm on Christmas Eve 2005. First serious accident ever. Happened in a chimney in Hopkinton.
61. My birthday is December 25th. What a coincidence, eh?
60. My PR in the marathon is a few seconds over 2 hours 58 minutes.59. I always round down on my training & race times.
58. I always round up on my training distances.
57. Typical weight gain for me on Christmas Eve is 51 pounds. All the cookies, egg nog, etc.
56. Typical weight loss in January is 28 pounds. I lose the rest in February.
55. My current weight is 230 (I also round down to the the nearest "5" on weight).
54. I considered a podcast this year but opted not to. Too many technical challenges.
53. Despite have appeared on virtually every morning and late night talk show, I have never been invited to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
52. Even in the off-season, I only sleep 4-6 hours a night.
51. I fly over North Korea every year without airspace consent. What are they going to do?
50. I am a chef. Cooking is one of my great passions.
49. I live and work at the North Pole in order to maintain security and privacy.
48. I honestly do not know why I was chosen to have the powers of Santa Claus bestowed upon me. I don't ask. I'm just grateful.
47. I married a woman 10 years younger than me.
46. My favorite new TV show this season is Heros. I still love Friday Night Lights too.
45. I eat yogurt 3x a day. Love the stuff.
44. I joined a fantasy football league last year. I was skeptical but I must admit I love it.
43. My favorite soccer team? Manchester United. We are the Champions!
42. My favorite soccer player? Wayne Rooney.
41. I start everyday with a cup of coffee.
40. My standard coffee drink? Starbucks Venti Non-fat Almond Latte
39. My best Christmas ever... 1965. Can't top it.
38. I really would like a set of decent ear plugs for my Nano. Such a great, innovative product and lousy earplugs.
37. It's a Christmas Tree. Not a Holiday Tree. I'm not (a) offended by your holiday symbols nor am I (b) attempting to take over your holiday symbols. Please leave mine alone. It's a matter of respect.
36. I have daily subscriptions to 74 newspapers representing 53 nations on 6 continents.
35. My favorite Christmas tradition? Chimney diving. Ok, ok... besides Chimney diving? Mrs. Claus' ginger bread cookies.
34. My favorite Christmas carol is "Silent Night, Holy Night".
33. A favorite Christmas song that I might not readily admit to a five year old... "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer..."
32. My Nike+ powersong is "Rockstar" by Nickleback
31. I have done a fair amount of post-graduate work. I have a Masters of Business Administration as well as a Masters in SupplyChain Studies
30. My undergraduate degree, which I received well into my old age (and at a European University that will not be named), is in Theology
29. I am a Dallas Cowboys fan. And before you ask... yes, Terrell Owens is on the nice list. A change from last year. Way to go T.O.
28. Mrs. Claus & I do not have children of our own.
27. I have three sisters and two brothers. I am the oldest child.
26. Blitzen is my favorite reindeer. (spelled & pronounced Blixon in the native Norwegian)
25. Jingle is my best friend (not including Mrs. Claus, of course)
24. I am already growing tired of the American Presidential race politics. Imagine how bad its going to get with a full year ahead.
23. I have been stuck in a chimney. More times than I care to admit. Blitzen carries retrieval equipment in the sleigh.
22. Despite all the myths, I do not possess any supernatural powers. I'm just an average guy. I don't know why I have lived so long. From the aches & pains I feel most mornings when I get out of bed, I'm pretty sure my body is not immortal, even if my spirit is....
21. I have been known to slip in a quick nap or two along my Christmas Eve journey. I just catch few winks on the couch closest to the tree.
20. I have every house scouted for hidden video cameras before I enter. Don't even think about trying to catch me on film.
19. I work-out every day. Weights, running, and/or ab work. I have to stay in shape (I know... it doesn't look like it... But I am 15lbs lighter this year than last) in order to maintain the pace.
18. Yes.. I do stop in every country. So far, there's at least 1 person in each country that believes in Santa.
17. I think TiVo is the greatest invention ever.
16. I despise gift cards. Very impersonal. I'll give 'em if that's what you want, but....
15. I sign every letter that I send out to children.
14. As much as I love & leverage technology, I still prefer to send a handwritten letter when possible.
13. 13 is my favorite number. Not my lucky number... I don't believe in luck. Good or bad.
12. My favorite gift to give.... it's a three-way tie... first train set, first doll, and first bike. No other gifts truly excite kids like those three gifts do.
11. I still make a few toys each year. Only about a 100. Look for my signature to see if you receive one of the 100 that I personally made.
10. Thanks to my intelligence team, I know many of history's deepest secrets. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to share them as such a blatant disregard for confidentiality would jeopardize the entire Christmas Eve tradition.
9. I had a tattoo in the 70s. But I had it removed in the 80s.
8. I didn't grow the big white beard until the 1930s.
7. I secretly check my "Q" factor every so often. I shouldn't care but.... well, I do...
6. I snore. At least that's what Mrs. Claus says.
5. I get nervous before I speak publicly.
4. I watch all of the traditinal Christmas specials every year... ranging from classic movies like Holiday Inn to cartoons such as A Peanuts Christmas. I mostly watch them on the sleigh while I'm in transit. Its the only chance I have.
3. I have blue eyes and my hair was light brown before it turned white-gray.
2. It took me almost 2 months to complete the initial list of 100 things about me. Seriously, who really wants to know that much about Santa?
1. I am Santa Claus
Thursday, December 06, 2007
10. Drinking Starbucks Christmas Blend
9. North Pole Village Christmas Tree Lighting
8. Christmas Service at the North Pole Church
7. Christmas Afternoon Nap
6. Reading the Christmas Story (Luke Chapter 2) with Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve
5. Reindeer Games
4. Christmas Caroling with the Elves Choir
3. Cookies, Milk, Egg Nog, and other snacks at almost every house on Christmas Eve
2. Visiting with Children at the Mall
1. The Christmas Eve Flight & Toy Delivery
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Wow. I think all I did today was talk! I don't even want to hear myself. It started with my presentation this morning as the keynote speaker for a CEO Executive Conference in Singapore. After the presentation, I went on a media tour as part of our campaign in to raise the percentage of people who believe I exist. (I blog, therefore I am... what do they not get?!) I am happy to see that my own poll here on the blog - as unscientific as it is - is showing a high-level of belief in Santa. Nevertheless, our worldwide sampling shows that we do have a lot of work to do. So immediately following my presentation, it was off to a televised interview right there in Singapore. After that, it was off to a round of TV interviews and public appearances across Asia and into Europe before I returned to the North Pole to meet with my direct staff over a late lunch. We haven't started the media blitz yet in North America, so I did get a little bit of break and limited myself to mall appearances in the afternoon. Giving all the talking I've been doing today, I really don't have much more to say tonight... so with that, I say Good Night!
Monday, December 03, 2007
It was a tough day. Maybe it was because I stayed at the reindeer party much longer than I had planned. It was a lot of fun! Great food, hot chocolate & hot apple cider, some good music, all the reindeer, and just about everyone on my immediate staff plus their significant others. There was some great story-telling on each other too. Before I knew it, it was almost 3am. So I only got about an hour of sleep and still had to cut my run down to a mere 15 minutes (I figured something was better than nothing), in order to make my morning flight.
I started the day with a trip to Asia as I had to visit one of our new factories in Guangzho, China. The visit there went fairly well though I was surprised to learn that we do not have a sufficient Disaster Recovery plan in place. I'll be sending Candy or Bo down to follow-up with the 3rd party vendor we have running the facility there.
But the real challenges started with my trip from China to India. I went to India for the same reason... to visit a production facility. But the weather between China & India was horrible. I had to re-route, which normally wouldn't be a big deal but there were military exercises underway and we had to take a significant detour. While I was in India, we had a major power outage. The facility there struggles with consistent power all the time... and in fact, we have put in our own generators; however, a major power surge hit the grid and took even our generators offline for 3 hours. Eventually, I made my way to a handful of visits in Europe before leaving for North America. Due to some pretty extreme weather conditions, most of my North American appearances were cancelled, except across the Southern states.
Anyway, I've been behind schedule all day. In fact, I'm just now getting settled to where I can eat dinner. So that's what I'm going to do now and then spend some time prepping for a presentation I have to make at a CEO Executive Conference tomorrow. I'll be speaking to 50 of the Fortune 200 CEOs... want to make sure its impactful. Goodnight, all.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The results are in and Rudolph once again wins the "favorite reindeer" poll. He remains undefeated. I was glad to see Dancer get a big jump after my post on how his feelings were hurt. The reindeer are actually hosting a small, informal party tonight to celebrate the poll results. Blixen and Dancer's idea. Those two always enjoy a party... they just need a good excuse. I'm going to head down to the stalls to join in on the party when I finish up here.
I am going to post some new polls each week, beginning with tonight's "Do You Believe?" question. You can also expect to see some 2-3 day polls just for fun. I encourage you to share the polls with your friends. Vote early, vote often!
Speaking of polls, did you see the BCS polls and bowl results in the US? Wow. Some surprises there. As you know, I love American college football. Look for me to post my predictions in the next few days.
I hope all of you had a great early December Sunday! Time to jump back into the work week. Various public appearances drop off dramatically Monday through Thursday but my workload actually picks up with meetings, conference calls, etc. as we work through the last minute details and address the issues that inevitably arise in the last few weeks.
Well... I'm off to the reindeer party, but, I don't plan on staying long. I need to call it an early evening so I can be well-rested when I get up to run tomorrow morning. Good night, All!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
2007 12 01 04:03 NPT - The alarm clock went off about 10 minutes ago but I had hit snooze. I'm going to get dressed and go for a run. Snowing lightly outside. No wind today.
2007 12 01 04:53 NPT - What a run! I love running when the snow is drifting down. By the time I had turned around and headed back here to the Village Square the flakes were BIG.
2007 12 01 05:02 NPT - I am sitting in Starbucks sipping an Egg Nog Latte. Full fat version. If I'm going to splurge and get something other than my fat free milk, I don't want that 2% that they are using now.
2007 12 01 05:11 NPT - Time to walk back to the house.
2007 12 01 05:47 NPT - It was a nice walk back. Fire was going when I got back so it was nice and warm inside. I have showered. No time for breakfast so I'm going to grab a Powerbar and head over to the HQ to start the day.
2007 12 01 07:02 NPT - Staff meeting is over. I'm on the launch pad at Flight Operations. About to head to my first appearance of the day. Starting in Bupdapest and will head west. Due to security concerns, I can not let you know my exact destinations ahead of time.
2007 12 01 11:35 NPT - I am now at the Arsenal-Aston Villa game. Snuck into the box.
2007 12 01 14:13 NPT - I am currently in route to Romania for a tree lighting.
2007 12 01 15:57 NPT - In route over the Atlantic. The tree lighting in Romania was incredible. Most beautiful tree I have seen this year, for sure. While in route, I'm making a few conference calls with my staff to deal with a variety of issues. Don't worry though... typical stuff. Nothing major. I'm headed to the US East Coast for a parade appearance. Will update after the parade.
2007 12 01 16:37 NPT - What a fun parade. Lots of excited kids! If that won't fill you with the Christmas spirit, nothing will. I'm going to grab some food here and then its up and down the eastern seaboard of the US for mall and parade appearances.
2007 12 01 18:42 NPT - I am leaving the SEC Championship football game. What a game! I made a brief visit with a couple of CEOs of companies we do some business with in the box but I was able to catch some of the game. I did get to speak to a few kids. Did you happen to see me on TV?
2007 12 01 19:02 NPT - I am on the US West Coast for tree lightings. I am currently in the Northwest. Not too cold - at least not by my standards - but it is wet. I may have to change into a dry suit before I head back.
2007 12 01 21:17 NPT - Did you see the West Virginia and Missouri upsets? Wow. Caught the scores via text alert and just watched the highlights on my iPhone. In Peru at the moment.
2007 12 01 22:54 NPT - In a little bit of turbulence at the moment. Back in route to the North Pole. Been a good day.
2007 12 01 23:22 NPT - Just touched down at the North Pole Flight Operations Center. I am still in the sleigh. Was a rough flight in tonight... glad to be back on the ground. I see Jolly waiting for me. We're going to tour the Flight Ops facility while I'm here and then head over to the main Production facility for a quick tour and update on productivity.
2007 12 02 00:48 NPT - Just finished the Flight Ops tour. Jolly and I were headed over to the Production facility but I suggested we grab a bite to eat first. We're headed back to the house for a late night snack.
2007 12 02 01:53 NPT - Mrs. Claus was up when we got to the house. She had made some incredible soup earlier in the evening so she heated that up for us. Along with some home made bread, it was fantastic. Surprisingly, I was looking forward to a tall cold glass of water too! Feeling a little dehydrated. Jolly and I are walking to the Production facility right now.
2007 12 02 02:33 NPT - Very quick but informative tour. It's late so I'm not going to elaborate much. Bottom line is we appear to have caught up after the strike and are on-track for full production goals. I'm off to bed as the alarm goes off in about 3 hours... I'm sleeping a little later tomorrow since its Sunday. Good night!