Friday, February 26, 2016

The Instruction Manual Blues

A few months ago we started getting puddles under our dishwasher. As far as dishwasher functions go, puddle-creating is not very high on the desirable list. I would have tried to fix it, but I'm not exactly Joe Fix-It.

So, we got ourselves a new dishwasher. It's got some nice features, including, hopefully, a doesn't-leave-puddles-on-the-kitchen-floor feature.

The Wife and I have had an unwritten arrangement for most of our marriage: she usually does most of the cooking, and I usually do most of the dishwashing. Does this make me the greatest husband ever? No. But, it certainly helps keep me off the "worst husband ever" list. (And helps make up for all those times I fart in bed.)

So, since I would be using it a lot, when we got the dishwasher installed, I grabbed the instruction manual in order to learn how to properly use our new dishwasher. (This is another area where The Wife and I differ greatly. She rarely uses instruction manuals, preferring to just try things to see what happens. I'm afraid I'll ruin something if I don't follow the instructions.)

The instruction manual for our new dishwasher. (But wait, I bought one dishwasher, not three!)
Unfortunately, when I opened up the manual for our new dishwasher, I found that it was not the manual for just our dishwasher, it was the manual for four different dishwashers (even though only three are pictured on the front cover.)

So, for the instructions to have any meaning for me, I need to know which of the four models I have. For help with that, they have a handy picture showing the control panel of each model, with each model's number:
Well, that certainly clarifies things!
Well, that doesn't help. For one thing, the model number doesn't appear on the front of the actual dishwasher anywhere, so it's basically gibberish to me. So, I'm left with trying to match what the front of my actual dishwasher looks like with one of the four pictures. It's like something you'd find in a Highlights kid magazine at a dentist's office in 1978! ("One of these things is not like the other!")

For added fun, the model numbers are:
  * "x" can be any number

"X" can be any number? So, basically they've just added algebra to my little problem. Hey, I just want to figure out which dishwasher is mine, I don't want to relive freshman year college algebra!

Eventually, I'm able to figure out that the bottom picture is the same as the dishwasher I actually purchased. Hooray for me.

That leads to a little chart telling me which features each of the four dishwasher models actually has.
So many features! So many models! So much confusion!
Each dishwasher model has a little "x" by each dishwasher feature that it offers. And then it again says, "'x' can be any number." Does that mean my dishwasher can have 7 half loads, or 9 child locks? My brain hurts.

Throughout the rest of the instruction manual, it explains how each of these features work, but as it does it keeps repeating the phrase "model dependent," meaning "this is how this feature works if you are lucky enough to have one of the models that has this feature."

This eventually leads to several cases of feature-envy when you read about a great feature the dishwasher has, only to realize that your model doesn't have it. ("What? My model doesn't have the robot arm that loads the dishwasher for you? Dang, I wish I had bought the STARK3AR7xUC* model!")

So, as I read about each feature, I have to look back to the chart to see if it is a feature my dishwasher actually features. It's very confusing, but it doesn't have to be.

Really, it's pretty simple: I want an instruction manual for only the model that I purchased. I don't want an instruction manual for a bunch of models that I didn't buy!

This shouldn't be that difficult. Just make an individual instruction manual for each separate model. Done. That's all I'm asking for.

That way I can easily figure out which features the dishwasher I bought actually features. (I really hope my dishwasher has the doesn't-leave-puddles-on-the-kitchen-floor feature!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Share If You Want to be Rich and Awesome!

I'm rich!!!

Well, not yet. But I will be soon, because I shared a post on Facebook. Yup, the money will be rolling in soon!

But it's not just the money. I'm also awesome, smarter than 99% of the people, and had a great childhood.

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across this:

$100 just for sharing a Facebook post!
That's amazing!!! Now, I haven't actually shared the Facebook post yet, because there's still a little snow out in the yard and I don't really want to go out there until the temperature gets a little warmer. But, I'm really looking forward to doing this. And I'm not going to be too greedy, either. I figure if I share it ten times a week, I'll make $52,000 a year. That's a pretty good amount of money.
And if I need any more money than that, I can always type an "Amen" to supplement my income.
Amen!!! (Give me my money!!!)
So, I should be set for life financially with just a few simple shares and amens. But what about my self-esteem? Sometimes I wonder if I'm awesome or not awesome. If only there were some way to figure this out.
I love Chris Farley!!!
Wait a minute, I remember this guy! That's beloved Canadian, John Candy, star of stage and screen. And, since I remember him, that means I'm awesome! Excellent! My self-esteem is fantastic! I wonder if I'm smarter than most other people?
I've lived most of my life in Idaho or Utah.
Ha! That was easy! They bet that I couldn't name a state without the letter "e," and I did it with the first two I named! I really am awesome! [Never mind that 30 of the 50 states don't have an "e" in them, meaning in would be harder to name a state that did have and "e" than one that didn't.]

Still, I wonder how many people I'm smarter than.
"Hey" (Apparently 90% of people can't read, period.)
Wow! I'm smarter than 90% of the people on Facebook! I guess I shouldn't be surprised because I am, after all, awesome. It feels good to be in the top 10%. But, I think I'm even better than that. Let's find out:
"U ain't smart?" Ha! I is too!
Well, that certainly clarifies things. 99% fail, so I am clearly in the top 1% of people. (It really does feel good to be this awesome and smart.) And, to top it all off, I had a great childhood, too! How do I know?
"Go, Speed Racer; go, Speed Racer; go, Speed Racer, go!"
Yes, I remember the theme song from "Speed Racer," therefore I had a great childhood. And, just for further proof:
Biff! Kipper! Chip! Floppy! (Wait…who?)
Wait a minute. I don't remember who these characters are. They don't even look vaguely familiar. Does this mean I didn't have a good childhood? I better try one more of these.
Hey, look, it's Remington Steele!
Okay, now I'm a bit worried. I did not own this game as a kid, therefore I must not have had a good childhood, despite my knowledge of the "Speed Racer" theme.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to settle for being awesome and rich!

Can I get an "amen?"

Please share within 5 seconds if you, too, want to be awesome and rich.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Taco Bell Does It Again!

Congratulations, Taco Bell, you've done it again!

I really didn't think it could be done. I thought they had exhausted every word combination and ingredient configuration possible. That's what I get for underestimating the geniuses at Taco Bell.

The other day I was watching the television and I saw a commercial for a new Taco Bell product called a quesalupa. What in the world is a quesalupa, you ask? In the fine Taco Bell tradition, it's the combination of two other Taco Bell menu items, which can be summarized by a simple math equation:

Quesalupa = quesadilla + chalupa

Yes, they combined a quesadilla and a chalupa and came up with quesalupa. I'm not sure who to be more proud of: 1) Taco Bell's ingredient-combining people or B) Taco Bell's word-combining people.

What's in a quesalupa, you ask? Well, there's tortilla, cheese, meat, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. Just like every other item on the Taco Bell menu.

The Breakfast Quesalupa!!! (Because everything's better with sausage!)

I used to think "chalupa" was just a word made up by Taco Bell, but after some intense research on Wikipedia, (which is correct more than 72% of the time,) people in some parts of Mexico actually eat a food product called a chalupa. Also, chalupa literally means "small boat." (It's too bad Jack and Rose didn't have a chalupa when the Titanic sank.)

This isn't the first time Taco Bell has combined words and ingredients to make a new product. In the past they've offered the quesarito.

Quesarito = quesadilla + burrito

Also, they had the enchirito.

Enchirito = enchilada + burrito

My personal favorite, however, has to be the gordita

Gordita = gordo (the Spanish word for "fat") + senorita (the Spanish word for girl)
Therefore gordita literally means "fat girl." (The people in Taco Bell management must have been asleep at the wheel when the word-combining people slipped that one through.)

I wonder what's next? I think I'd like to offer my word-combining skills to the folks at Taco Bell. Here are a few of my suggestions:

Nachorito = nacho + burrito

Burraco = burrito + taco

Enchitada = enchilada + tostada

And, finally:

Quesomuerte = queso (the Spanish word for "cheese") + muerte (the Spanish word for "death") Or, literally, "the cheesy death."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Boy "Washes" His Hands

I was at a family get-together the other day when my brother-in-law told the story of watching his three year-old son washing his hands. I laughed until I cried. I hope this re-telling does it justice:

He approaches the sink.
He turns the hot water on.
He puts his hand under it.
He shakes the water off.
He adjusts the hot water.
He puts his hand under it.
He shakes the water off.
He turns the cold water on.
He puts his hand under it.
He shakes the water off.
He adjusts the cold water.
He puts his hand under it.
He shakes the water off.
He cups his hands and fills them with water.
He drops the water into the sink.
He cups his hands and fills them with water again.
He drops the water into the sink again.
He reaches for the soap.
He pumps the soap until a drop of soap is hanging down.

He looks at the soap.
He lets the soap drop into the sink.
He pumps the soap again.
He lets the soap drop onto his hand.
He puts his hands under the water and the soap rinses away.
He then rubs the soap, which isn't there anymore, onto his hands.
He holds his pinky finger under the water and (without soap) washes it.
He "washes" the next finger.
He "washes" the next finger.
He "washes" the next finger.
He "washes" his thumb.
He moves to the other hand and "washes" his thumb.
He "washes" his next finger.
He "washes" his next finger.
He "washes" his next finger.
He "washes" his pinky finger.
He holds his hands up and looks at them.
He cups his hands and fills them with water.
He drops the water into the sink.
He cups his hands and fills them with water.
He drops the water into the sink.
He shakes the water off of his hands.
He turns off the hot water.
He turns off the cold water.
He shakes the water off of his hands.
He rubs his hands on his dirty pants in order to dry them off.
(Elapsed time: 10 to 15 minutes.)

Contrast that with how my own five year-old washes his hands:
He turns on the cold water.
He doesn't turn on the hot water. (He's afraid of the hot water.)
He pumps the soap four or five times. (All the soap lands in the sink. None of it touches his hands.)
He darts his hands through the running cold water. (Meanwhile, the sink is filling with cold, soapy water, which he does not touch.)
He turns off the cold water.
He rubs his hands on his dirty pants in order to dry them off.
(Elapsed time: 10 to 15 seconds.)

It's a wonder there's not more disease in the world.

[Special thanks to my brother-in-law Jordan for telling me the story of his son washing his hands. My re-telling doesn't do it justice, because Jordan told it mimicking all of his son's hand motions, and it was hilarious.]

Friday, February 12, 2016

Snow Shovel Etiquette

It's February. Winter. Yes, spring is on its way, but despite what the groundhog or any other earthbound rodent has said, we can't be sure when exactly it will arrive. In the meantime, we're stuck looking at the 10-day forecasts, wondering if we'll be getting any more snow.

We've had a pretty large amount of snow already this winter. (Especially compared to last winter, when the temperature was over 60 degrees for most of February.) I've had to get the snow shovels out several times. (Yes, I said shovels. If you get any decent amount of snow, it's best to have at least two shovels, one that will push the snow, and one that will scoop the snow if it is particularly heavy.)

Shoveling snow is soooo much fun!
As I've been out shoveling, I've learned a few of the dos and don'ts of snow shoveling etiquette. I thought I'd pass some of that along today.

1. Make sure you get your sidewalk. (Especially if school kids need to use it!) The first thing we usually do when shoveling is make sure we get our driveway, so we can get our car in and out of the garage. But, oftentimes we forget about the sidewalks. I made this mistake during one of our storms this winter, and it meant that the school kids heading to the bus stop had to either tromp through the six inches of new snow on the sidewalk, or walk out in the street where the snowplows had been. Not good. Even though it can be a lot of work, those kids need a safe, snow-free path to walk that isn't out in the middle of the road.

2. If you are younger and/or healthier than your neighbor, help them with their snow occasionally. I'm not saying you need to be the complete snow-removal force for every house in your neighborhood. But, it is nice to lend someone a hand every now and then. There's nothing quite like the feeling of going out to shovel snow to find that someone else has already done all or part of it for you. (One time this winter I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "snow shovel elves" had shoveled my driveway for me!)

3. If someone helps you with your snow removal, be sure to thank them. I live in a great neighborhood where lots of people jump in to help each other out. It's always best to be polite and say "thank you" and "you're welcome." (Didn't your mama teach you anything?)

D. Don't expect people to help you. It's great when neighbors help each other, but at the end of the day you are responsible for your own driveway and sidewalks. This is the mistake I made a few weeks ago. I had a neighbor who had been clearing off my sidewalk with his four-wheeler with a plow blade. On that particular day, when I finished with my driveway I was pretty tired, and I thought, "Well, he'll probably get the sidewalk for me again." He didn't. Whose fault is that, his or mine? Obviously, it's mine. Just because he helped me once certainly doesn't obligate him to help me every time. My sidewalk is still my responsibility.

5. Don't be an ungrateful jerk. There's a guy in my friend's neighborhood who uses his four-wheeler plow to clear the snow from all the houses nearby. Until, that is, one of the neighbors called the police on him. Apparently, the one ungrateful jerk didn't approve of how four-wheeler dude was piling the snow, so he called the police to report "unauthorized snow removal." The police weren't too concerned, but were obligated to talk to four-wheeler dude. The actions of one ungrateful jerk could have made it much more difficult to remove snow for everyone in the neighborhood. Fortunately, four-wheeler dude is a nice dude, and he continues to remove the snow for all the houses in the neighborhood. Except one.

Really, it all comes down to just being polite, taking care of our own responsibilities, and doing what we can to help out each other. (Heck, that's good advice for all situations, not just snow shoveling!)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What to Get Your Man for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day will be here before you know it. And we know what that means: men buying flowers and chocolates for their sweethearts.

But, what do women get for their men on Valentine's Day? Flowers and chocolates don't really cut it. Well, maybe they'd be okay with the chocolates, but in all honesty most men would rather have a twelve-pack of Twix instead of a frilly, heart-shaped box of assorted, mystery-flavored candies.

If you look down the Valentine’s Day aisle at your local store, you won’t find a whole lot of manly things. There are plenty of stuffed animals and scented candles, but no socket sets or shotguns.

Not very manly.
Stumped? Here are a few suggestions.

Duct tape. Men love duct tape. If anything needs fixing, there’s a good chance duct tape can fix it.

WD-40. If anything needs to be taken apart, WD-40 can help. It might even work for things that have been “fixed” with the help of duct tape.

Donuts. A dozen donuts or a dozen roses, which do you think a man would prefer?

Tickets to a game. Most men would love a night out watching athletes tackle each other (football), elbow each other (basketball), or flop to the ground to draw a yellow card (soccer).

Pizza. Men love pizza. Heck, it can even be heart-shaped. Just make sure it’s got plenty of meat on it. No vegetables. It’s a pizza, not a salad.

Sweat pants. What better way to show a man that you love him and want him to be comfortable than the gift of sweat pants?

A book by Tom Clancy. There’s nothing quite like a good, macho, tough-guy novel to show your man you care.

Chocolate chip cookies. This is a good gift for men, women, or children. And the hotter out of the oven, the better!

A jersey from his favorite team. He’ll be impressed that you know which team is his favorite. (Just don’t make too much fun of him when his team loses.)

Bacon. You can make him bacon for breakfast, or bacon for lunch, or bacon for dinner. Heck, you could make him bacon for all three meals, then bacon for a snack. Bacon!

And there you have a few ideas on what to get your man for Valentine’s Day. (Or you could just forgive him for giving you a lousy gift and call it even.)

[To see more of my "The Funny-ish Files" columns from the ServeDaily newspaper, go to:]

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Joe Fix-It Actually Fixes It!

I am a man of many skills. Okay, so "many" might be overstating it. But, I do have some skills. Fixing things around the house is not one of them. "Joe Fix-It" is not something I am called on a regular basis, unless it is used sarcastically. (You know, like a really big guy that everyone calls "Tiny.")

(For more on my inability to fix things, see: Joe Fix-It Strikes Out Again.)

The Wife had been saying that we could use a new shower head in the bathroom the kids use. She especially wanted one with a hose on it for the kids so they can work on washing their own hair with the shower head instead of the dump-a-cup-of-water method.

So, back in November I saw a shower head on sale at Costco, and I bought it. When she saw it before I could hide it, I told The Wife that it was an early Christmas present. And then, I put it down and did nothing with it. Why? Because installing the new shower head would mean putting my non-existent fix-it abilities to use. What if I couldn't install it on my own and needed to ask The Wife to help me? I didn't need that kind of embarrassment, so I set the shower head down and ignored it.

Time to install the new shower head!

Yes, I realize it is now February. A fair amount of time has passed since I bought the shower head in November. It can no longer be called an "early" Christmas present, unless we are talking about next Christmas. (Remember how I said I had "some" skills? Well, procrastination is one of them. I am very skilled at procrastination.)

The first step in installing the new shower head is getting it out of its package. Easier said than done. This thing is hermetically sealed in plastic. There is no "open here" tab or anything, just a plastic package sealed up tighter than Fort Knox. It would be easier to release Han Solo from his encasement in carbonite than to get this shower head out of its plastic.
How to open the unopenable package?
Eventually, with a couple of precision cuts, I am able to get the scissors to penetrate the plastic, and I open the package. The first thing I pull out of the package is this disturbing notice:
This is not encouraging.
The "STOP" notice frightens me. It reads: "STOP Need help? Call us. We're here to help. PLEASE CALL US BEFORE YOU CONSIDER RETURNING THE PRODUCT TO THE RETAILER."

This scares me because apparently people often need help, and people often get so discouraged trying to install this product that they frequently consider returning it to the retailer. I'm already not very confident in my ability to install this thing without help from The Wife. Now, they've got me wondering if I should even try.

Next, I open the installation instructions.
Lots of instructions. (In three languages.)
There are a lot of instructions, and it seems pretty daunting. I look at the first instruction.

They didn't include the crescent wrench? I feel ripped off!
Okay, I need an adjustable wrench. (We called it a "crescent" wrench back on the farm.) I go get an adjustable wrench. (I may not be very good at fixing things, but after years of "helping" my Dad fix things, I'm very good at going to get tools.)

The instructions say to use the adjustable wrench to remove the old shower head. Sounds easy enough, except that the adjustable wrench isn't going to do any good on this shower head:
It doesn't matter how much you adjust it, an adjustable wrench will not help here.
So, I have to track down a pair of pliers to get the old shower head off. The only pliers I have are pretty small, and will barely go around the part that needs taken off. I look for a bigger pair of pliers, but can't find anything. I start to think I might have to go to the hardware store to get a big pair of pliers. But, I decide to give it a try with my little pliers. Thankfully, the old shower head isn't on very tight, and my little pliers get a good enough grip to remove the old shower head.

I then have to take the new shower head base and screw it into the pipe, then tighten it down with the adjustable wrench. The problem is that the instructions say: DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN. (That's their bold type, not mine.) This particular instruction always presents a dilemma for me. Where is that magical place between not tight enough and too tight? How do I know when it is tight but not over-tight?

I give it my best guess, then move on. Next, I have to connect the hose to the base and to the new shower head. This is simple enough.

And then....I'm done? That's it? That's all it took? That seemed a little too easy, didn't it?

I cautiously reach in and turn the shower on to see if it works, fully expecting water to come spurting out of the pipe where I undoubtedly either under-tightened or over-tightened, but nothing bad happens. The water flows from the new shower head just like it is supposed to. I have done nothing wrong! The shower head is properly installed!
Joe Fix-It fixed it!!!
In the end, it took about as long to open the package as it did to actually install the shower head! I literally spent more time opening the package and looking for tools than I did putting on the new shower head.

I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I AM Joe Fix-it!!! I successfully installed a shower head! I'm unstoppable! Who knows, maybe next I'll build a gazebo for our back yard! (Or maybe not.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

8 Things NOT To Get Your Woman For Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is coming up in just a few days. It's a very important day for anyone who is in a relationship. If you botch Valentine's Day for your sweetheart, the month of February, which is already cold and miserable, will become a whole lot more cold and miserable.

People ask me all the time, "What should I get my wife and/or girlfriend for Valentine's Day?" First of all, when I say "people ask me all the time," I'm lying. No one has ever asked me that. Secondly, if you have a "wife and/or girlfriend," you're going to be in a bit of trouble. There can't be an "and/or," just an "or." Either you have a wife or you have a girlfriend. You can't have more than one. Unless you're that guy from Sister Wives. (I have no clue how he handles Valentine's Day. It's got to be pretty complicated.)

Actually, I don't really know what you should get your wife or girlfriend for Valentine's Day. I don't know your wife or your girlfriend. But, I do know some things you shouldn't get her for Valentine's Day. Here's a few things on the "Don't get" list, and what it says about your relationship if you do:

*An iron--"I love you and I want you to iron my clothes." Or, "I love you, but your clothes are too wrinkly."

*An ironing board--See above.

Unless she specifically asks for an iron, please do not be Iron Man!

*A set of mixing bowls--"I love you and I want you to make food for me." Or, "I love you, but I don't think you make me cake often enough."

*Gift cards to McDonald's--"I love you and I'd like to go to McDonald's with you." Or, "I love you, but your cooking is so bad that I'd rather eat at McDonald's."

*Gift cards to Taco Bell--"I love you and I'd like to go to Taco Bell with you." Or, "I love you, and I want you to fart more often."

*Gym membership--"I love you, but I want you to lose weight." Or, "I love you and I want you to have awkward social interactions with strangers who are wearing stretchy pants."

*Laundry detergent--"I love you and I want you to do all of my laundry." Or, "I love you and I am the worst gift-giver ever."

*Anchorman 2 on DVD and/or Blue Ray--"I love you and I've never seen this movie but I liked the first one so I kind of want to see this one even though I heard it wasn't very good." Or, "I love you and I want you to be mad at me."

If you are thinking about getting your sweetheart any of these things: Don't! Just don't do it. If you can't think of anything more original, you can always go with flowers or chocolates. They may not be the most creative of gifts, but at least they say, "I love you, and I remembered that it is Valentine's Day." Or, "I love you and I hope you don't mind if I eat more than half of your chocolates."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

15 Blog Posts I'll Never Write (Unless I Do)

I've officially been working as a writer for nine months. Nine months. It's been just like a pregnancy: my belly is bigger and I have strong cravings for certain foods. (Donuts and apple fritters.)

In those nine months, I've posted two blog posts a week, every Tuesday and every Friday, missing only once, and that was by choice on Christmas Day. This is my 80th post since I started writing full-time. I've written on a wide variety of subjects, from not sun-bathing in the nude to Donald Trump. (But not about Donald Trump sun-bathing in the nude. The horror! The horror!)

Sometimes I've struggled for topics to write about. But, I do know that there are some things that I will never write about. Here are some blog titles you will never see from me:

1. Sun-Bathing In the Nude with Donald Trump

2. How To Become Rich and Famous by Writing a Blog

3. I'll Never Eat Another Donut As Long As I Live

4. The Ten Best Restaurants In Arimo, Idaho

5. A Minnesota Vikings Fan's Guide to Winning Yet Another Championship

6. Fashion Tips from My Mom: Is That Shirt Bright Enough?
I love you, Mom! (Nice sunglasses!)

7. Comcastic! 12 Reasons Why Comcast Customer Service Is the Best

8. The 10 Cleanest Truck Stop Restrooms In America

9. The Top 8 Reasons To Bring Back Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

10. Nine Reasons Hillary Clinton Will Easily Win Utah In November

11. Burritos, Chalupas, and Gorditas: Explaining the Wide Variety of the Taco Bell Menu

12. Straight Outta Chubbuck: Eastern Idaho's Influence On the Hip-Hop Community

13. Boss 101: How To Get the Best Out of Your Workers By Yelling At Them

14. Seven Reasons Why Tofu Is Better Than Bacon

15. Writing: Is It Really a Job If No One Pays You To Do It?

Ouch. That last one hits a little close to home. (I'm working on it!) Anyway, while I may sometimes struggle for subjects to write about, I don't think I'll ever run out of things not to write about!

(And a big thanks to a blogger named K. Renae P. and her post 15 More Blog Posts I'd Never Write for giving me the idea for today's post.) (Although I really wish she would write that one about how she won millions from sharing a Facebook post, because that sounds pretty interesting to me.)