Lawyers often run across stuff that is, well, odd.  Curious acts and practices are the stuff of which lawsuits are made, and we get used to reading about them.  Even so, when I read about an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit against a Long Island company that allegedly requires workers to engage in a practice known as “Onionhead,” it gave me pause.

“Onionhead” is another name for a belief system called “Harnessing Happiness.”  Why does it have that name?  Who knows?  This crucial, threshold question has not been adequately answered. 

Is it because the belief system is layered, like the skin of an onion

The lawsuit alleges that employees had to follow “Onionhead” practices that included praying, reading religious texts, burning candles, and discussing personal matters with co-workers.  Ugh! 

Is it because there is some bizarre connection to the 1958 Andy Griffith movie of the same name

I hate scented candles.  And, in my work experience, the only prayers I ever heard sought deliverance from slow clocks and sadistic supervisors. 

Is it because the burning candles irritate your eyes and make you cry

But the oddest allegation is that “Onionhead” requires you to tell fellow employees “I love you.”  Whuh?  Of course, liberally dropping “I love yous” at the workplace, whether to management or co-workers, is a colossally bad idea on more levels that we can possibly count.  But among the thousands of other problems, doesn’t the “Onionhead” belief system value truth?  There is simply no way that any American worker — much less somebody working on Long Island — actually likes, much less loves, every one of their fellow employees.

Is it because, among the other unusual requirements, you have to adopt a hairstyle that includes an onion-like outcropping from the top of your head?

Does anyone know why it is called “Onionhead”?   

Rockywold Deephaven Family Camp

IMG_2658Kish’s and my road trip last week was one of the most enjoyable vacations we’ve ever had, and part of the reason was our two-day visit to the Rockywold Deephaven Family Camp near Holderness, New Hampshire.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from the hurly burly of the modern world for a while, reconnect with their family, and relax.

I’m not going to try to describe the camp, its history, or its activities, you can find that information at the RDC website.  Instead, I just want to list a few reasons why I think this place is special.

First, Squam Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen, anywhere.  Remarkably clear water, physically beautiful, perfect for sailing, canoeing, kayaking, or using the motorboat for a tube run.  We used it mostly for swimming and floating and basking in the warm sunshine.  Even better, it is absolutely, perfectly, breathtakingly quiet in the morning.

The view from Bungalow bench

The view from the bench in front of our cabin, Bungalow

Second, you have lots of lodging choices.  We were going to stay in a communal lodge, where guests share common areas, but there had been a cancellation and we got a small cottage instead.  Ours was a one-bedroom enclave called Bungalow, and the cabin options — all of which have their own names — run the gamut from one bedroom to cabins large enough to accommodate multiple generations of a family.  Our cabin had a porch that faced the water, a bench that was right on the shoreline with a great view, and its own little dock where we did our swimming.  It was ideal for us.

Third, there’s not a lot of clutter with modern amenities.  Don’t worry, there are plugs so you can recharge every one of your 50 electrical devices, and we had good cell phone and wireless coverage in our cabin, so you can still get your technology fix.  But there was no TV, no refrigerator, no stereo or radio in our cabin — which encouraged you to get off your duff, walk the grounds, breathe deep the fresh air, hike, swim, fish, read, or join in one of the communal activities, and otherwise avoid the insipid cat videos and internet mindlessness that otherwise fill so much of our lives.

The Deephaven bell tower

The Deephaven bell tower

Fourth, there was an interesting tradition and dynamic at the camp.  Many of the guests when we were visiting had been coming there for years, if not generations, and the RDC encourages that by using a kind of seniority system to assign cabins and tables at the dining hall.  And because there is some separation between the Rockywold and Deephaven parts, which have different dining halls for example, the old pros have formed strong allegiances to their respective sides.  Our cabin was in the Deephaven section, and when we got to talking to other Deepers at a picnic lunch it was clear that they would never consider the prospect of ever staying on the Rockywold side.  Horrors!

Finally, the dining was all done in a communal dining hall.  Meals were served at set times and announced by a bell ringing at the bell tower.  The food was good, and plentiful, and served buffet style, and every family sits at its own assigned table.  It was a pleasure to see parents, kids, and grandparents as they ate their meals together.  There were other communal activities, too — a chance to make tie-dyed shirts, a picnic, a family movie (Frozen, of course), a talent show where little kids were the stars for a night, boat cruises, an ultimate Frisbee match — and all of them seemed to involve kids, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  I’d wager that the families that spend a week at the RDC grow stronger and closer in the process, which is probably why they come back.

The Rockywold Deephaven Camp has been around since 1897.  It probably hasn’t changed much, while the world around it has changed a lot.  It’s part of the reason why it’s such a great place.  I wish we had known about it when Richard and Russell were kids.

The Deephaven dining hall

The Deephaven dining hall