The Famous Branches of Your Family Tree

Jason English

Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. Very casual. On to this week's topics of discussion...

1. I haven't done much dabbling in genealogy. It's on my list of future projects, along with touring the Pacific Northwest, learning the harmonica and watching The Wire. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, though, my aunt discovered we were (just barely) related to Gold medal-winning speedskater Casey FitzRandolph. Being related to a Gold medalist was the kind of thing I didn't want to disprove, and since I remembered visiting the Randolph family farm in Illinois as a kid, that was (and is) good enough for me. [Photo: FitzRandolph with Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, to whom I'm not related. See the resemblance?]

What famous people are in your family tree?

2. Let's dredge up a question I first asked in 2007, when I was still working at an ad agency and _flossing at night:

In an unfortunate case of office planning, I sit within shouting distance of the freight elevator—the shouting of the person with the shipments, locked inside. If I knew the ins and outs of our shipping and receiving policies, I'd spend half my day dealing with deliveries. Lucky for me, I'm baffled by the whole situation.

Who knew there was a term for this? Let me turn things over to Jared Sandberg of the Wall Street Journal:

Strategic incompetence isn't about having a strategy that fails, but a failure that succeeds. It almost always works to deflect work one doesn't want to do — without ever having to admit it.

What tasks are you pretending are too complicated?

3. What's the most incredible event you've witnessed/attended live?

(While stuff like "the birth of my twins" is obviously incredible, I'm talking about events everyone else witnessed, too—Woodstock or Super Bowl XXV or Woodstock '94.)

4. I usually spend the first hour on Monday at a Starbucks, getting a handle on the week ahead and jotting down unnecessary notes in my planner. This particular Starbucks is located near a university and often serves as a meeting place for companies interviewing college students. A few weeks back, a frazzled job-seeker burst through the doors and launched into an apology. "I can't believe I'm late," she said. "I got caught up watching Family Guy!"

I didn't stick around to see if she got the job. What's a terrible excuse someone has given you (or you've used yourself)?

Have a wonderful weekend!

[See all the previous Friday Happy Hour transcripts.]