Friday, July 20, 2018

You Can't Dry Your Hands with a Wet Towel

We've all heard the saying "size doesn't matter." Well, I completely disagree.

Especially when we're talking about hand towels.

We've all had it happen. You go to the bathroom, wash your hands, then dry your hands on the hand towel. Everything's fine. Until the next time you have to go to the bathroom. Once again you take care of your business, and then you wash your hands. But this time, when you go to dry your hands on the hand towel you find that the hand towel is still damp from the last time you dried your hands on it. It's hard to get your hands dry using a towel that's already wet.

Or, worse yet, you haven't been to the bathroom for hours, but it just so happens you have to go fifteen minutes after Uncle Stinky has gone. ("Uncle Stinky" is not his real name.) (But it probably should be.) You wash your hands and reach for the hand towel, but it is moist. Very moist indeed. You try to find a dry spot on the hand towel, but to no avail. And the worst part is, that's not your moistness on that towel. That's Uncle Stinky's moistness!

(Of course, if we're being honest here, the moistness level of the hand towel might be the least of your worries if you have to use the bathroom after Uncle Stinky. But that's a topic for another day.)

They call it a hand towel for a reason. It's barely big enough to dry your hand.

I understand the concept of the hand towel. It's just fine for drying your hands. Once. But, if you have to make several bathroom visits in a short amount of time (curse you, diarrhea!) or if you have multiple people using the same bathroom (and thus the same hand towel) in a short amount of time, the size of the hand towel really does matter.

Here's a standard size hand towel versus a standard size regular towel.
Yes, size does matter!

In my own bathroom, I've taken care of this problem. On my large towel rack I have two towels: 1) My very large bath towel; and B) My very large hand towel (which is the exact same size as my very large bath towel.) So, no matter how frequently I use my hand towel, I can always find a spot on it devoid of moistness so I can dry my hands with a dry towel.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work for all bathrooms, because most of the time hand towels have a wimpy little round towel-holder or towel rack too small to handle a large towel. If you try to put a regular size towel on one of these wimpy hand-towel holders, you'll get something like this:

The standard size towel on the wimpy hand-towel rack. The towel hangs down into the sink.

So, what is the solution? Well, it depends on the bathroom. But what I would do is have as many towel racks and towel hooks as possible in every bathroom, with a full-sized towel on every rack and hook. It's all about avoiding the pre-moistened towels!

Every towel you add increases the chances of finding one that's not damp.
Is it aesthetically pleasing? No. Is it practical? No. Does it look pretty stupid? Yes.

But sometimes you do whatever you can to avoid Uncle Stinky's Moistness!

Edited from a post originally published on 5/12/2015.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Daddy, Are You a Pirate?

It really should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: Parents shouldn't use curse words in front of their children.

It's basic common sense. If you don't want your kids to swear like sailors, you probably shouldn't swear when you're around them. (You probably shouldn't swear even when you're not around them, but that's a topic for another day.)

So, you're probably wondering, "Joe, how do you avoid cursing in front of your children?" Well, I'm glad you asked. My method is pretty simple, really. Whenever I feel like using a swear word, I simply replace it by shouting like a pirate. Instead of cursing, I'll just yell, "ARRGHH!!!" That's all there is to it. It's really very easy. Since I adopted this strategy, I never hardly ever curse in front of my children!

The only problem is, I yell "ARRGHH!!!" in front of my children so often that I'm afraid I might be turning into an actual pirate. Here are a few of the trigger events that make me worry:

*When I ask the kids to clear their spot at the table, and they throw their silverware into the garbage. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When she yells at me that she doesn't want a yellow plate, she wants a pink plate, even though I am well aware of this preference and am already dishing up her food on a pink plate. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When the boy drinks a mouthful of milk, but instead of swallowing it like most people do when drinking milk, he holds it in his mouth like mouthwash for five minutes until he walks into the living room and spits it out all over the front of his shirt and the carpet. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you take the time to actually help your child do their homework, then find out she didn't bother to turn it in. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you're looking to take a selfie of yourself dressed as a pirate, but you can't find an eye patch anywhere. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you feel obligated to explain to your children the difference between a tablecloth and a Kleenex. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you ask if he's cleaned his room, he says, "Yes," and then you actually walk past his room and look inside. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you think you are reading but he thinks you are playing catch, and he hits you in the face with a ball. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When he, unbeknownst to you, decides to play catch with something other than a ball, and he hits you in the face with a Hot Wheels car. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you spend ten minutes doing her hair so it looks just right, then she immediately runs off and puts on a hat. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you feel obligated to explain the difference between a fork and a comb. "ARRGHH!!!"

*When you say, "ARRGHH!!!" so often that your three year-old daughter asks you, "Daddy, are you a pirate?" ("ARRGHH!!!")

Friday, July 13, 2018

Don't Order the Fish!

I really wish common sense were more common.

Especially for me.

We were going out to eat at a Mexican restaurant chain here in Utah. It's one of our favorite places to eat, and over the years we've been there many, many times. We've been there so often that I know exactly what I like, and I order it every single time we eat there. I've probably ordered the same thing (pork burrito with enchilada sauce) over thirty times in a row.

For the last dozen or so times we've eaten there, I've wondered if I should try something different, but I always end up getting the same old thing. As we were on our way the other night, I said, "Maybe this will be the time I order something different." The Wife voiced doubt. So, of course, I was obligated.

When we got to the restaurant, I looked over the menu to find something different. There were enchiladas, but how different from a burrito is an enchilada? Is there any difference at all?

Then I saw the salmon. I like salmon. The Wife grilled some a few weeks ago, and it was delicious. And salmon is most definitely different than pork. I was absolutely going to break my routine.

So, I ordered a salmon burrito with enchilada sauce.

We love this unnamed restaurant! I just wouldn't recommend the salmon.

I immediately knew I made a mistake. When I announced what I wanted, the girl who took my order looked confused, turned to her co-workers in the kitchen, and asked, "Do we have salmon?" When the others replied with a collective shoulder shrug, she left to go ask someone else.

It then dawned on me how unwise it is to order something they aren't even sure if they have. If they don't know if they have it, how will they know how to cook it? So, when she came back I was fully prepared to say, "Forget it, I'll just have the pork." But, she came back and was very enthusiastic to report that yes, they did serve salmon, and yes, they did have some. So, I had the salmon.

As I started to eat my salmon burrito with enchilada sauce, it dawned on me that it tasted just like the pork burrito with enchilada sauce, only fishier. And a little more dry. Probably because they cooked the salmon much earlier, and it had been sitting around "warming" for a while. The pork would have been a better choice, because so many people order it that they have to continually cook more throughout the day.

And then, I didn't even get much credit for ordering something different. The Wife said that I ordered the same thing, a burrito with enchilada sauce. All I had done was change the meat.

She was right, of course. I thought about other things, too. I thought about how lacking in common sense I had been when I ordered salmon at a Mexican restaurant in Utah. Utah is not known for its salmon, and most Mexican restaurants are not known for their fish. I thought about how next time I was going to order the pork.

I thought about a lot of things, because I had a lot of time to think about things... as I sat on the toilet at 2:00 AM saying goodbye to my salmon burrito with enchilada sauce. The salmon was not a good choice.

I wish common sense were more common.

Especially for me.

Edited from a post originally published on 8/18/2015.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

You Have Absolutely No Idea....

You think you're pretty smart, don't you? You've got everything under control. You've been around the block a few times. You know what you're doing. You know how things work. You've got it all figured out.

But, there are still some things you have no clue about.

When you go to someone else's house you have absolutely no idea how to turn on their television. Oh, you know how to turn on your own television, but when you go to someone else's house you don't have the first clue. There are somewhere between three and eight remote controls, and you don't have the faintest idea which one turns on the television. Back in the old days you could just walk up to the television and press the "on" button. They don't have those anymore. You'll have to try to figure out which remote is for which exact function. There'll be a remote for turning on the television. There'll be one for changing the channels. There'll be one for volume control. There'll be one for the DVD player. There'll be one for the VCR, which hasn't been connected to the television for about twelve years. Sometimes one remote will actually be able to perform more than one function, but you'll have no way of knowing that unless you just start randomly pushing buttons on remotes, and if you start randomly pushing buttons on remotes, you might end up signing up for Hulu, or accidentally purchasing Transformers VII: Truck Or Robot. (No one wants to accidentally purchase Transformers VII.) You'll eventually just have to hand the remotes to the person who lives there and let them turn on the television for you.

One for the "on" button, one for the volume, one for the cable box, one for the DVD, one for the surround sound, one for the VCR, one for the DVD/VCR combo, one for the....

But, other than that you really are on top of things. Except....

When you go to open a new loaf of bread, you have absolutely no idea which direction to turn the twisty tie, do you? You'll grab hold of the twisty tie and you'll start to twist it. You'll get two or three twists in, with no significant results, and you'll wonder, "Am I twisting this the right way? Am I loosening it, or am I tightening it?" You'll stop, look at the twisty tie, and try to decide which direction to twist it. You'll think, "Lefty-loosie, righty-tighty," but then you'll wonder if that's just for nuts and bolts or if applies to twisty ties, too. You'll try to remember if you've been twisting it left or twisting it right. You'll start untwisting again and wonder, "Is this the way I already started to untwist it, or am I actually retwisting it the way I was untwisting it earlier?" You'll question every decision you've made in your entire life. Eventually you might even get it open and get yourself a piece of bread or two.

I might never be able to get to that bread!

But, you've got a pretty good grip on everything else. Except....

When you go to a hotel, or a motel, or stay at someone else's house, you have absolutely no idea how to turn the shower on. And if you can get the water on, you don't know which way to turn it for hot water, and which way to turn it for cold water. You'll turn the knob in a direction that you think will get you hot water, but you'll put your hand under it, and it will still be cold. You'll wonder if that's because you've turned it to the cold setting, or if it's just one of those showers that takes a long time to for the hot water to get actually hot. You'll give up and try the other way, but it will be cold, too. After going back and forth another time or two, you'll eventually find some hot water. Then you'll try to adjust the water so that it's neither scalding nor chilling. You'll desperately attempt to figure out how to get the water to a temperature that is just right. It's as if you are Goldilocks and this shower faucet is the porridge of the Three Bears, and you just want to find that Baby Bear's porridge! After several small, precise adjustments, you'll land upon a temperature that is bearable, and you'll actually attempt to take a shower. (The temperature may or may not fluctuate several times during the course of your shower.) When you finally finish your shower and exit the bathroom, your travel companions will be wondering what the heck took you so long in there. Whatever you do, don't tell them you were looking for Baby Bear's porridge. They'll think you're stranger than they already do.

But, other than that, you really know what's going on.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Fat Dad at the PlayPlace

One of my fears in life is that someday I'll end up the subject of a headline like this:

Fat Man Gets Stuck In McDonald's PlayPlace


Lumbering Oaf Collapses McDonald's PlayPlace, Seven Injured


Missing Man Found After Five Days of Wandering In Tubes at McDonald's PlayPlace

Back in my day, there weren't playgrounds at fast food restaurants. Our biggest thrill would be to get to sit at the table with the two swivel chairs. (We would shout, "Oooo, look! Twisty chairs! That's swell!") (We said things like "that's swell" and "neato" back then. It was a long, long time ago.)

The kids really like to go to McDonald's. There are three reasons for this:

1. The food.
2. The Happy Meal toy.
3. The PlayPlace.

Of course, that's not the order in which the kids like McDonald's. That goes something like this:

1. The PlayPlace.
2. The PlayPlace.
3. The PlayPlace.
4. The PlayPlace.
5. The PlayPlace.
6. The PlayPlace.
7. The Happy Meal toy.
8-15. PlayPlace or Happy Meal toy.
16. Ronald McDonald.
17. Grimace.
18. Hamburglar.
19. The food.

Not every McDonald's has a PlayPlace. Believe me, we have scouted out all of the McDonald's in the tri-state* area, and we know which ones have PlayPlaces and which ones don't. Unfortunately for us, the McDonald's closest to us does NOT have a PlayPlace, so we don't go there very often. (It's usually worth the extra ten miles for our sanity.) [*What exactly is the "tri-state area?" I don't know. You have my permission to pick any of your three favorite states.]

"Supervised by a parent?" You do realize I can't fit in there, don't you?

We are mean and make our kids eat all (or most) of their food before they get the Happy Meal toy and/or go to the PlayPlace. Once they've eaten enough to earn their freedom, it's time to take off their shoes and attack the PlayPlace. The shoes come off and go into the "Sneaker Keeper." The "Sneaker Keeper" is a wonderful place, where kids put their shoes while they go to play, and where parents can go "shopping" for new shoes for their kids if they so choose. ("Sneaker Keeper" is also a registered trademark. I am not making this up.) One pair of shoes fits in each cubby of the "Sneaker Keeper." If two shoes don't fit into one cubby, you are probably too big to play at the PlayPlace.

Percentage of parents who read all the rules before allowing their kids to play: 0.041%

That brings me to the list of rules for the PlayPlace. The old adage is that "rules are meant to be broken." No place is this more true than at the PlayPlace. The list of rules includes things like this:

*Children must be supervised by an adult at all times--Not likely. At any given PlayPlace there are probably at least three children who were dropped off there last Tuesday.

*Equipment is designed for children ages 4-12. There is a small children area designed for children ages 2-4.--I guess I'm guilty here. I let my 2-year-old go into the bigger kid area. Often that's because 5'10", 267 pound 13-year-olds are plodding their way through the little kid area. (More than once I've been tempted to throw my weight around at a too-big kid endangering the tiny ones in the little kid area, but I'm afraid of the assault charge and the headlines that might accompany it: "Grown Man Arrested for Beating Up 10-Year Old at McDonald's PlayPlace.")

*Please remove shoes and place in the Sneaker Keeper. Socks must be worn at all times.--Go to any PlayPlace and you'll find just about every possible permutation: Kids wearing shoes. Kids wearing just socks. Kids wearing no shoes or no socks. Kids with one shoe on and one sock on. Kids with one bare foot and one in a shoe. Kids with both feet in Chicken McNugget boxes. Anything is possible.

*Slide one at a time in a forward, seated position, feet first. Please no climbing on or up the slides.--Apparently the people who wrote up these rules have never actually seen kids play on slides before. Either that or they think this will be the only slide in the world that no kid will climb up, or go down head first, or on their belly.

*No climbing or standing on the outside of the play equipment.--There is always at least one member of the Future Rock Climbers of America who feels the need to show off his climbing prowess on the outside of the equipment.

*Please no running.--Because kids at play time are well known for strolling slowly and being thoughtful and patient.

*Please no food, gum, or drinks on the play equipment.--This is a fast food establishment. French fries are known to multiply. They appear at various odd places in the PlayPlace, just like they randomly appear at the bottom of your drive-thru take-out bag. And that's not even mentioning the half-eaten burgers, ketchup (in both stain and packet form), and sticky lakes of spilled soda.

*Please do not bring any toys into the play area.--Most of these kids just opened their Happy Meal toy. So yes, they will be carrying the toy with them wherever they go, because that toy is the greatest toy they have ever played with! (At least for the next 35 minutes or so, at which point they'll realize the toy is lame.)

So, the rules are more like "suggestions" that rarely get followed. Kids will do whatever they want.

It seems like, as the years go by, the PlayPlaces get more and more advanced. More slides. More tubes and pods and portals. They're almost to the point of being as complex as the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur. I'm afraid of ever having to go in there after my kids, because, besides worrying about getting stuck or breaking the tubes because I'm too heavy, I also worry about finding my way out. (That's why I always leave a trail of ketchup stains to follow.)

When I'm with the kids at a PlayPlace, I always try to maintain contact with them, talking with them and such. I do this for two reasons: 1) So I can see where they are at all times so I don't lose them in the maze. And B) So I don't seem like some random creepy guy hanging out by the PlayPlace.

And sometimes, when I'm watching the kids in the PlayPlace, I'll sit in a swivel chair. (Because those twisty chairs are neato!)

Edited from a post originally published on 2/21/2013.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Weekend Getaway (In the Middle of the Week)

Question: When is the best time to go on a weekend getaway?

Answer: In the middle of the week!

Okay, so I know that's cheating. I don't care. I'm tired of playing by the rules.

Question: Why is the middle of the week the best time for a weekend getaway?

Answer: Oh, there are reasons. Several reasons, actually, including but not limited to:

*Less traffic. It's a proven fact that when fewer people want to get to places, there are fewer cars on the roads. And when there are fewer cars on the roads, there is less traffic to deal with. And, generally speaking, more people go places on the weekend than in the middle of the week.

*Fewer people. Most people work during the week and are off of work on the weekend. That's why things are usually more crowded on the weekend. But, if you can get away in the middle of the week for your weekend getaway, you'll find that there aren't as many people around, because many of them will still be at work.

Two people. No crowds. An excellent getaway!

*Better deals. Since there is higher demand on the weekends, places you might go for your weekend getaway can charge more money and get away with it. If you take your weekend getaway in the middle of the week when there is less demand, you might find that the places you want to getaway to will charge you less money. (For example, a bed and breakfast with five rooms will probably be full and charge full price on the weekend. But, on a Wednesday they might only have one or two of their rooms full, and they might charge less in order to entice more people to come to their establishment.)

*Less crowded. Did I mention that there are fewer people at getaway places during the middle of the week than there are during the weekend? I did? Well, I'm going to say it again, because this is a pretty big point. Why? Because people are really annoying. Not all people, but some of them. And the greater the total number of people that are around, the greater the chances that some of those people will be really annoying. In order to avoid those really annoying people, it's best to go to places where there aren't as many people around. And that's why the middle of the week is the best time for your weekend getaway.

Question: So, why doesn't everyone take their weekend getaway in the middle of the week?

Answer: Because it's not always easy to get away in the middle of the week for your weekend getaway. In order to get away in the middle of the week, you must do two things:

*Get time off from your job. This, of course, is very dependent on your job, and how much vacation time/personal holidays/sick days you have. Or how easy it is for you to sneak away without anyone noticing. (I wish you luck!)

*If you can get someone to watch your kids. Remember when I said that some people are really annoying? Sometimes those annoying people are your own kids. (Your own kids are not annoying all the time, but they are definitely annoying some of the time.) So, if  you want to have a great weekend getaway in the middle of the week, it's best if you can con someone into find someone willing to watch your kids for you.

So, to sum up, unless you really like big crowds and spending full price for things, the best time to get away for a weekend getaway is in the middle of the week.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Creepy Drive-Thru Dude

I wasn't expecting a conversation at the first window.

It had been a hectic day, and I was rushing for lunch. I had planned on making a nice, healthy lunch for The Boy and I. Probably some grilled salmon with asparagus and sliced pomegranate. (Or something.) Instead, our errands got out of hand and I found myself pulling up to the drive-thru ordering speaker of a local fast food establishment. (I don't want to shed a bad light on the place, so for the sake of anonymity I'll call it "McFastFood's.")

Most drive-thru conversations take place at the ordering speaker. And these aren't exactly "conversations," they're mostly recitations of familiar phrases like:
"Would you like any fries with that?"
"Can I super-size that for you?"
And, "Please pull forward to the first window."

I placed my order and was told to move ahead to the first window. (They didn't have grilled salmon, so I settled for a Filet o' Fish.) As I pulled around there was a car ahead of me at the first window. I waited my turn, then pulled up to the window.

I took out my credit card and reached it toward the window when the McFastFood's employee broke the unwritten rules of the Customer/Drive-thru Employee Interaction Contract: he said something that differed from the standard script.

As I reached my credit card toward him, he said, "Why is it that all the cute girls pay with a credit card?"

I was a bit befuddled. I was paying with a credit card. Did he think I was a cute girl? And if so, how offended should I be? Or how flattered should I be? (Hey, if he thought I was a girl, at least he thought I was a cute girl.)

I wasn't sure how to respond, so I think I said something extremely insightful, like "Uhhh...."

He took my card to process it, then continued, "I wish they would pay with cash." I didn't respond, but I was a bit relieved. When he said "they" it meant that he wasn't lumping me in with the cute girls.

The conversation was pretty one-sided. He had something he wanted to say, and I was the one there for him to say it to. For my part, he had piqued my interest.

As he processed my card, he went on. "When they pay with cash, I get to hold their hands a little bit when I give them their change. I just want the chance to hold a cute girl's hand. But I don't get to hold their hand when they pay with a credit card! I wish the cute girls didn't always pay with credit cards!"

Okay, that was a bit creepy.  It's like I was seeing a bad guy from an episode of Criminal Minds in his earliest stages: It started out with him holding hands with unwitting girls as he gave them change at the drive-thru, then before you knew it he was keeping girls locked up against their will in his shed out back.

I was just expecting to pay at the first window, not get a glimpse inside the mind of a serial killer.

Having finished telling me his woes, he handed me back my card. I felt like I should say something, so I shook my head and told him, "I don't know what to tell you, dude." (I don't often use the word "dude," but for some reason it seemed appropriate. For once, I was actually talking to someone who was more nerdy than me.)

I pulled forward to the second window, feeling fortunate to know that the Drive-Thru Creeper didn't have a hand in actually preparing my food.

Looking back now, I'm probably being a little hard on the Drive-Thru Creeper. He's probably just a lonely nerd who hasn't had much luck with the ladies. Believe me, I understand. Been there, done that.

But, there are better ways to meet women than grabbing at their hands while giving them change at the drive-thru window.

Ladies, I'm not sure what to tell you. If the #metoo movement has taught us anything, it's that there are a lot of creepy guys out there. I wish I could tell you which guys to avoid and which guys are okay, but I can't. I'm sorry.

And as far as you guys are concerned, let me give you a little piece of advice that would make life easier and better for everyone:

Please don't be so creepy!!!

Edited from a post originally published on 5/8/2015.