As we enter 2009, we are faced with new challenges and new concerns. Wouldn't it be nice if you knew what was going to happen in the next 12 months? Wouldn't your job be easier if you knew what the future holds for the meetings industry? The answer to these questions is, “It sure would, Dale. Do you by any chance have these predictions for us?” Well, after consulting my crystal ball, my Ouija board, my Magic 8 Ball, and the Oracle at Delphi, I've come up with the following forecasts for 2009. Note: The accuracy of these predictions is not guaranteed by the author, this publication, or anybody else with common sense. Your mileage may vary.

JANUARY — In January the stock market will once again top 10,000 after Oprah Winfrey announces her plans to buy a new car for everybody in America. This announcement saves the auto industry, the economy rebounds, and Oprah is nominated for sainthood.

FEBRUARY — In much the same way that Pluto was eliminated as a planet, February is being cut out of the calendar because it is the smallest month and causes a problem every four years by demanding an extra day.

MARCH — In an effort to reach out to Irish Americans, President Obama changes his name to O'Bama for St. Patrick's Day.

APRIL — Due to rising airline costs, it will no longer make fiscal sense to send attendees to conventions as passengers on commercial jets. Instead, they will be shipped to the destination via UPS. Top performers will be shipped via overnight priority delivery.

MAY — Private detective opens chain of pet clinics called “Sam Spade and Neutered.” This is not really a prediction but I didn't know where else to squeeze in this joke.

JUNE — People who travel on airplanes have gotten used to paying extra for food, beverages, blankets, baggage checking, and window seats, so the airlines have decided to up the ante by installing pay toilets that charge by the minute. Paper, soap, and towels are available a la carte. They will also introduce a luggage reclamation fee whereby you not only have to pay to ship your bags but now you have to pay to get them back again; and a tip jar for the pilots.

JULY — Scientists develop a car that runs entirely on cellulite. You just plug it into your thighs, and you lose weight while you drive to the ice cream store.

AUGUST — Global warming is blamed for the disappearance of Arizona. Phoenix melted after 75 days of temperatures over 150 degrees. A new water park is planned for the site.

SEPTEMBER — Scientists report that they have perfected both human cloning and teleporting so now you can finally be in two places at the same time. Unfortunately, your pay will remain the same.

OCTOBER — For the first time in 101 years, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Elsewhere, due to an unforeseen cold snap, ice hockey becomes a popular sport in hell.

NOVEMBER — Now that the economy is back on track, the dollar is suddenly worth more than the euro. Tens of thousands of Americans travel to Paris just to rub their noses in it.

DECEMBER — Nothing is ever accomplished in December so Congress passes a law that gives everybody the month off. I'm not sure how this idea is going to work when people go to the mall to do their holiday shopping and find that all of the stores are closed because the salespeople have taken the month off, too. This will most likely give rise to the Recession Redux for 2010.

Dale Irvin is The Professional Summarizer. As your meeting emcee, he will watch, listen, and learn throughout your conference while delivering periodic comedy updates on what has just happened. For more information and to subscribe to the free Friday Funnies, visit www.daleirvin.com.

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