Friday, October 28, 2016

Little-Known Made-Up Facts (Election Edition)

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: One of the best things about little-known made-up facts is that you can just make them up as you go.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton once stabbed Dan Rather in the hand with a steak knife when he mentioned the name of Monica Lewinsky at a state dinner.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Donald Trump has written three romance novels under the pen name of Beverly Sweet.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Tim Kaine once went through the McDonald's drive-thru, ordered three Big Macs, two small fries, seven apple pies, and a large Diet Coke and paid for it all with Canadian dimes.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: In order to run as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Mike Pence had to quit his weekend job as a college football referee for the Big 12 Conference.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton can bench press 320 pounds.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: When he was growing up, Donald Trump had an imaginary friend he called "Trump."

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin once purchased a Chevy Chevette. Brand new. On purpose.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson has stated that, in his opinion, the greatest show in the history of television is Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton involuntarily grits her teeth and mutters under her breath whenever anyone utters the words "Obama" and "2008" in the same sentence.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Over the course of his lifetime, Donald Trump has gone through 32,429 packages of Tic Tacs. (He prefers the white ones.)

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Green Party candidate Jill Stein appeared in the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta! Her role is listed in the credits as "Store Clerk."

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Because of his CIA training, Evan McMullin knows 14 different ways to kill a person using nothing but a box of Jell-O.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: When Hillary Clinton was 12 years old she got a puppy for her birthday. She named the puppy "Mine."

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Donald Trump has no idea how to use a washing machine. He has never operated one in his entire life.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: As high school student body president, Tim Kaine was instrumental in getting Corn Nuts included in all of his school's vending machines.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: The secret to Mike Pence's hair? Crest White Strips!

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really wants to be President of the United States.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Donald Trump wants people to talk about Donald Trump.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Beware the Fart-Storm

We all know that one person.

That one person who lets the stinkiest farts.

Often, these people are proud of their stinky farts. They'll needlessly draw attention to themselves as they fart. They'll announce their fart by shushing everyone before they fart, so the fart can be heard. Or they'll lift their leg or raise their butt cheek so that everyone will know they are farting. They'll smile.

I say "needlessly draw attention" because these attention-getting acts are totally unnecessary. Because once the odor of the fart starts wafting through the room, everyone will be paying attention. They'll be holding their noses, or gasping for air, or running for the nearest window. Exclamatory profanities will be uttered. At least one person in the room will question out loud if someone has soiled themselves.

It can be a very traumatic experience for all involved.

There's not much that can be done in these situations. The best course of action is to put as much distance as possible between you and the offending odor's instigator.

But, sometimes that's just not feasible. You see, it just so happens that the stinkiest farter in my life happens to be my five month-old baby son! I can't get away from him because usually I am holding him. He farts when I am feeding him a bottle. He farts when I am trying to burp him. He farts when I am changing his diaper. (This is actually his favorite time to fart. He likes to have a new, fart-free diaper to fill with fresh, new farts.)(And when I say "fresh," I mean "stanky.")

Actually, he doesn't need the gas mask. Everyone else does.

I have four children, and several nieces and nephews. I've been in locker rooms. I was once a teenage boy. I've even been around people who have eaten cabbage for several days in a row. And yet, in my entire lifetime I have never been around a person who can so consistently and frequently let such stinky farts!

The closest approximation I can think of is that I once knew a family that had a large pit bull dog. That pit bull is the only creature on the face of the planet that I have ever been around with farts that have a comparative stench to my sweet baby boy's farts.

And, even at such a young age, he's pretty proud of his farts. He smiles every time he passes gas. He does it so often we have started to call him The Fart-Storm.

I don't know what to do about it. I can only hold my breath for so long. I really hope he grows out of it.

Of course, there's always the chance he'll get worse.

When I told my wife I was calling our son the stinkiest farter ever, she disagreed. She is a junior high teacher, and she says she's smelled worse. In fact, she let me know there are a number of fart-related stories she'd like to tell me, but can't due to teacher/student confidentiality.

So, as stinky as his farts are now, they could be even nastier when he gets to junior high! I shudder at the thought. (And heaven help us all if he ever eats cabbage!)

Friday, October 21, 2016

7 Ways Facebook Makes Me Mad!

Facebook really makes me angry!

I'll be scrolling along, happily frittering away my time, when suddenly Facebook will do one of those annoying Facebooky things that drives me crazy.

Stupid Facebook!

Yes, we each have things about Facebook that make us mad, angry, annoyed, or incontinent. Here are just a few of them:

1. When Facebook changes my news feed from "Most Recent" to "Top Stories." Given these two choices, I always choose "Most Recent." And yet, often the Facebook overlords will, without my consent, switch me over to "Top Stories." And speaking of "Top Stories"....,

2. How, exactly, does Facebook determine what my "Top Stories" are? You think you know me, Facebook? You don't know me! If you did you'd know that I never would consider game requests or "copy and paste" demands as "Top Stories." Also, you would know that when my wife posts a picture of one of my kids, that would be something I would call a "Top Story," and should be put near the top of my feed, not buried beneath umpteen political posts!

And I'm still waiting for that "Dislike" button!

3. Why does that thing I was going to click on suddenly disappear before I can click on it? I'll be scrolling along and see something that I'm somewhat interested in. I'll think, "I'll go back and look at that in a minute." And then, in a minute (or twenty) I'll go back to try to find it so I can look at it, and it will be gone. Nowhere to be found. Yes, I know, I know, if I really wanted to look at it, I should have clicked on it the first time. But, I didn't. And now I might never know what that semi-interesting post about something-or-other was all about!

4. I don't want to scroll through all of the entire comments section to find out what comment my Facebook friend made! Facebook points out to me that one of my friends has made a comment on someone else's post. I like and respect this Facebook friend of mine, and I am interested to see what comment he or she made. (Or, I think this Facebook friend of mine is a complete and total idiot, and I'm interested in what idiotic comment he or she made.) Unfortunately, in order to find the comment that my Facebook friend made, I have to scroll through the entire sea of 146 comments, plus all the replies to those 146 comments. I usually try for a while, then give up. (Sorry, Andy, but I guess I'll never know what incredibly humorous, insightful, and/or idiotic thing you just posted in the middle of that long thread.)

5. Why do those old photos keep reappearing at the top of my news feed? It's always confusing when an old photo pops up on your news feed because your mom/grandma/crazy uncle has been stalking through your pictures and clicked the "Like" button on a picture that is three days/three weeks/three years old. And then other people start commenting on it because they think it is new. And the confusion sets in. ("Wait, did you just have another new baby?" "No. Look at the date! This picture is from four years ago. It just reappeared on my page because Crazy Uncle Larry was digging through my old photos and started commenting on them.")

6. Just because I clicked on something once doesn't mean I want my news feed to be inundated with similar things. Okay, so one day when I was bored I clicked on something titled "29 Interesting Behind the Scene Facts About Star Trek: The Next Generation." (It turns out only 14 of the 29 facts were actually interesting.) That does not necessarily mean I am interested in "27 Behind the Scene Tidbits About Dr. Who." Or "32 Amazing Facts About Quantum Leap." Or "23 Surprising Things the Producers of Matlock Didn't Want You To Know." (Actually, I'm a little intrigued by that Matlock one.)

7. No, I am not going to copy and paste a message to legally stop Facebook from making all of my past and future posts public. Guess what? If you didn't want all of those past and future posts to go public, you probably shouldn't have posted them on Facebook. (You do realize Facebook isn't the best place to put things you want to keep private, right?)

And there you have it. But remember, if all of these things bother you too much, you can always just drop Facebook. Ignore it. Don't click on it. You didn't actually pay anything for your Facebook, so if you just don't like it, then simply stop using it. You can always find some other way to waste spend your time! (There's a card game called "Solitaire" that I've heard about. People say it's pretty awesome!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Enjoy Them While You Can

They call me "Slow Joe" for a variety of reasons. Chief among those is how long it took me to get married and have a family. I was almost 42 years old before my first child was born. When my wife and I had our fourth baby this spring, most of the people my age (I'm forty-ten) are starting to have grandchildren.

Whenever I talk to my contemporaries, and they look at my children (ages 8, 6, almost 2, and five months), they always get a wistful look in their eyes. They'll look at their own children, in their teens or twenties, and invariably tell me, "Joe, they get big so quick. Enjoy them while you can!"

And so, that's what I'm trying to do. #enjoythemwhileyoucan. (I really don't know if that's the proper use of a hashtag or not. Remember, I'm old.)

Already things are starting to pass me by. Within the past couple of weeks my five month-old son has stopped sticking his tongue out every time he smiles. It was incredibly cute when he did it. I'm glad I was able to enjoy it while I could.

I can still get him to smile pretty much any time I want to just by smiling at him, or making a clicking sound with my mouth, or holding him up to the mirror so he can see himself. I love to see him smile, and I'm enjoying it while I can.

He has some very cute clothing. He has a shirt that says, "I'm cute. Mom's cute. Daddy's lucky." He has another shirt that says, "Daddy's Sidekick," and comes with a little cape. He has several outfits that have a cute little something sewn over his bum, including a monkey, a monster, a football, and a baseball. I'm enjoying his cute clothes while I can. (No one over the age of three should wear pants with a monkey on the bum.)

Football bum! 
But, the baby isn't the only one I'm enjoying.

My almost-two year-old and I have a routine in the morning. She'll make some noise to let me know she's awake. I'll slowly open her door and play peek-a-boo with her a few times through the crack of the door. I'll get her out of her crib, take off her pajamas, and change her diaper. I'll put some clothes on her. I'll then stand her up on the changing table, and she'll give me a BIG hug. I'll then pick her up and hand her the pajamas she just took off. I'll hold her above the dirty clothes hamper, and she'll drop the pajamas in. I'll thank her for putting away her dirty clothes. I'll grab a bib. She'll say, "Bib! Bib! Bib!" I'll take her to the kitchen and put her in the high chair. I'll grab a banana for her. I'll talk into as if it were a telephone. She'll give me a courtesy laugh. I'll give her the banana and then get her some milk and whatever else we're having for breakfast.

We do this routine almost every day. She loves it, and I'm going to enjoy it while I can!

My six year-old son has big plans. He's going to be a master chef, a dentist, a construction worker, and an Olympic swimmer. All at the same time. He's very enthusiastic about his ideas for the future. His enthusiasm is contagious, and I'm enjoying it while I can.

My eight year-old daughter loves to read, and she loves to tell us about the books she has just read. (I probably know more about the "Percy Jackson" book series than anyone who has never read any of the books or seen the movies.) She also loves to write and draw her own stories. They're great, and I'm enjoying it while I can.

I really do love my kids. They are incredible, and I'm trying my best to enjoy them while I can.

And to those friends of mine whose kids are in their teens and twenties: Sure, they might not be cute little babies anymore, but they still can bring you a lot of happiness. It's never too late to #enjoythemwhileyoucan! (There, I hope I did that hashtag right.)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cash or Credit?

I like cash. Don't we all? (And I'm not talking about Johnny Cash. Although I can't help but sing along anytime I hear "Ring of Fire.") I like the look and feel of dollar bills in my wallet. (There's not much in there right now.) There's something very gratifying about paying for something with a crisp (or wrinkly) bill, then getting a few bills of smaller denominations and some coins handed back as change.

Not a current picture.
(Man, I wish I had that much cash in my wallet right now!)

Too bad that doesn't happen very often anymore.

Credit cards have taken over. We use them at the grocery store. At the gas pump. At the hair salon. At the restaurant. At the McDonald's drive-thru. At the donut shop. At the pizza place. At Wendy's. At Arby's. At Taco Bell. At Subway. At IHOP. At Burger King. At...well, you get the idea. (Sorry about that. I'm hungry.)

As much as I like cash, I must admit that paying at the gas station is much easier with a credit card. Especially now that you have to pay before you can pump. It used to be you could pump the gas, then go inside and get a snack and a soda and pay for it all at once. Now that I have to pay before pumping, I avoid going inside at all, thus saving me money on muchies. (And helping my waistline.)

Pre-paying with cash is not fun. If you want to fill the tank it turns into a game of The Price Is Right as you have to figure in your head how much to pay (without going over) to get your tank as close to full as you can (without flowing over.) Because if you've pre-paid, the last thing you want to do is have to traipse back inside the store to get some change. (I know I said earlier that I like getting change, but not if I have to walk all the way back into the store and stand in line just to get my $1.28.)

Credit cards make things easier at the grocery store, too. Do you remember getting in line, then discovering in horror that the person in front of you is trying to pay with a check? They would always look at their checkbook as if they had never written a check before in their entire life. And why not fill everything in but the amount and signature beforehand while waiting in line? Were they somehow suddenly surprised by the fact they would be paying by check?

At least that's now a thing of the past. (I remember the first time a grocery store cashier asked me, "Paper or plastic?"  I had no idea he was asking about bags; I thought it was his way of asking if I were paying by check or credit card.)

Having said that, cash still does have many advantages over credit cards. Such as:

1. You never have to wonder if you need to swipe your cash or put it into the chip reader.

2. With cash, you never have to wait for approval.

3. No one denies cash!

4. When you pay with cash, you only pay once. Unlike credit cards, there will be no monthly bill from the cash company asking you to pay again for all the things you already paid for once.

5. There is no legendary country singer named Johnny Credit Card.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Does This Shirt Make Me Look Fat?

Some jobs are just more difficult than others.

Last year I attended the Salt Lake Comic Con with a friend of mine. (We'll call him "Chuck.") We had a great time going to some of the writing seminars, seeing some of the celebrity panels (Counselor Troi!), looking at all the merchandise for sale, and observing the people dressed up in costumes. (Note for future cosplayers: if you want to stand out in the crowd, try something besides Deadpool and/or Harley Quinn.)

One day, as Chuck and I were walking through the exhibition hall, an attractive woman approached us and began to talk to us. I'd like to say this is something that happens frequently when Chuck and I walk anywhere together, but that would be a lie. Attractive women we don't know aren't coming up to us and starting up conversations very often.

The thrill of being approached by an attractive woman was quickly muted, though, when we found out why she chose to talk to us. Chuck and I are both tall, around 6' 2", and neither of us are what could be called "petite." The woman was a vendor operating a booth that sold "big and tall" clothing. So, yes, she approached us because we were fat.

She tried to be as subtle as she could in her approach. She said something like, "Hey, guys! How are you doing? I bet guys as tall as you are have trouble finding shirts around here that will fit you. We've got some shirts right over here that would be great for you guys."

Yes, quietly emphasizing the tall instead of the big or fat was a good approach. (You don't want to insult potential customers right out of the gate.) And, she definitely had my attention because she was right: I do have a hard time finding shirts that will fit me. One of the most frustrating things about Comic Con is that so many vendors have really cool shirts that I would like to buy, but none of them will fit me because the shirts are too short! Unless my shirts are extra-tall, there's a good chance someone will be seeing my butt crack. (And no one wants that!) (See: My Crack Problem.) (Or don't.)

Once I realized what had just happened, I was filled with several different emotions. Sadness. Because Chuck and I were singled out because we are large. Happiness. Because I might be able to find a shirt that would actually fit me. Sympathy. Because I felt bad for this woman whose job it was to approach random fat people to try to get them to her store.

Fat shirt

When I got to the big and tall booth, I was a bit disappointed. They didn't have much of a selection, and the shirts they did have weren't as cool as some I had seen for sale by other vendors. On top of that, their prices were a bit high.

But, I still ended up buying a couple of shirts. Why? Well, partly because I wanted to have a couple of shirts that might actually fit me. But, I also bought the shirts partly because I felt sorry for the woman whose job it was to wander the Comic Con floor, find fat people, and bring them back to her store without telling them that they are fat.

Some jobs are just more difficult than others.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Don't Step On My Foot!!!

I really don't ask for much.

I don't ask that everyone stand up when I enter a room. I don't ask for a trumpet fanfare to be played when I enter a room, either. I don't ask for a cushioned throne. I don't ask for a jeweled crown. I don't ask for a personal food taster. I don't ask for a drawbridge or a moat.

So, what do I ask for? Very simple: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

I'm not asking for the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl (although that would be nice.) I'm not asking for the Utah Jazz to win the NBA championship (although that would be nice, too.) I'm not asking for the Seattle Mariners to win the World Series. I'm not asking for the Idaho State University football team or the BYU football team to win another national championship. (They both actually did that once! Can you believe it?)

So, what am I asking for? I'm glad you asked: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

I'm not looking for breakfast in bed. I'm not asking for pie in the sky. I'm not wishing upon a star. I don't want a pitcher or a belly-itcher. I'm not asking to see the manager.

All I'm really hoping for is that you DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

You might ask, "Why is he so worried about people stepping on his foot?" Well, it's because I frequently have this problem of people STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

It's not like I have unusually large feet. It's not like my feet are so big and take up so much space that it is difficult not to step on them. There is plenty of room on the floor for people to take steps at places that are not directly on my feet. (Having said that, my feet and hands aren't unusually small, either. I have good, normal-sized feet and hands. Nothing to get defensive about, unlike a certain well-known reality television star/presidential candidate.)

And yet, people keep STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

My little girl is the worst culprit. She's almost two years old, and she is constantly STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! She often does this in an attempt to climb up on my lap. Apparently, standing on my foot gets her a little bit closer to the place she want to be, which is on my lap so she can "help" me as I try to type on my laptop computer.

But, she's not the only one. I have a one year-old niece that we watch for a couple of afternoons a week. She's a button-pusher. She likes to get reactions out of adults. And she knows that one sure way to get a reaction out of me is by STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! So, she does this often.

My six year-old boy will also occasionally be found STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! He doesn't do this out of malice or to get attention. He usually does it because he is oblivious to the world around him. He is so busy dreaming about the restaurants and roller coasters that he is going to build that he doesn't even notice that he is STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

And it's not just people. One day the cat was STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! In the brief moment that the cat's foot was on top of my foot, something startled the cat. Instinctively he put out his claws, dug them into my foot, then raced away as fast as he could. This did not make me happy.

This is just one reason why I say DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!
To sum up, what I'm really trying to say here is simply: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!! My foot is not a stepping stone. It's not part of the carpet or the linoleum. My foot is not part of the kitchen tile.

So, please, please, please, all I ask is that you DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How To Answer: "How Old Is She?"

Our baby girl (also known around these parts as "Thing 3") just turned 22 months old this week. I know when she was born. I know exactly how old she is. And yet, when people ask, "How old is she?" I never know quite what to tell them.

She's at an awkward age where I'm not sure how to answer that question. There are a variety of different acceptable replies, but I never know precisely what kind of information the inquirer wants.

I could say:
A) "She's 22 months old."
But, some people don't like that kind of information. It makes them feel that they need to do math. "Let's see...12 goes into 22 one time with...ten left over, and then you take the ten and carry the...." Some people just don't want to do math, no matter how simple it might be. These folks will think to themselves, "Why didn't he just say 'almost two?'"

So, I could say:
B) "She's almost two."
But, this isn't precise enough for some people. In their mind, "almost two" could mean anything from a year-and-a-half to two years.

Or, I could say:
C) "She's around two."
This is even more vague, and could mean anything from year-and-a-half to two-and-a-half years. Some people might think, "Duh, I can tell she's around two. I was asking for how many months!"

I could say:
D) "She's a little over a year-and-a-half."

Or, I could say:
E) "She's between a year-and-a-half and two."
Again, while these answers would be fine for some people, they aren't exact enough for others.

I might even say:
F) "She'll be two in December."
This makes it a bit more understandable for the math-impaired.

Or, I could say something like:
G) "She's old enough to start getting into everything!"
This is a smart-alecky answer I might give if, a) I didn't want to do the math myself; or 2) I didn't feel like telling the questioner how old my girl is.

"She's two-ish."
It doesn't have to be all arbitrary. The Wife has a formula for this. She says that once a baby reaches two of anything you should stop using the smaller measure. For example, you can say a baby is 13 days old, but once it turns two weeks old you would say "two weeks" instead of "14 days" old. Likewise, you would say "two months" instead of "eight weeks," and "two years" instead of "24 months."

Of course, just because this formula exists, it doesn't mean anything is set in stone. You really can say it however you would like to say it. It's a free country.

My youngest son (Thing 4) is about four-and-a-half months old. And if people ask me "How old is he?" I'll usually say, "About four-and-a-half months." But, if I'm feeling especially snarky, I might switch it over to weeks. "Oh, he's 19 weeks old."

Why? Because sometimes it's fun to watch the look on people's faces as they struggle to do math in their head.