Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Fiction: The Rise of Sleighrider

"It's less than a week before Christmas!" Santa exclaimed. "This is the busy time. We have last minute preparations. We don't have time for this!"

"I'm sorry, Santa," said Blinky the Elf. "I know the timing is not good. But it needs to be today. The elves won't wait."

"I just don't understand it," said Santa. "I treat the elves wonderfully. They get great benefits. Plenty of vacation time. All I ask is that during the busy season I get their best work. And the elves usually love their work!"

"It's true, Santa," Blinky replied. "It's just that this time there are extenuating circumstances."

"More important than their work?" Santa asked.

"Yes," said Blinky. "As much as the elves love their work, they hate spoilers even more."

"It's just one week," Santa begged. "Can't they wait until the 26th? My golly, I'd even let them watch it on the 25th, once I get back with the sleigh!"

"Sorry, Santa. It's Keebler. Even as we speak the entire company has shut down and they are having a private screening. Those cookie-baking cretins would love nothing more than to send spoilers our way!" Blinky had a rare look of disgust on his face.

"Keebler!" exclaimed Santa, angrily. "You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy! That Ernie Keebler has just earned his way onto the naughty list! But wait--how did Keebler manage to get a private showing?"

Blinky blinked, then stated, "Simple bribery. Let's just say that J.J. Abrams won't be running out of E.L. Fudge anytime soon."

Santa looked defeated. "Is there no way to get around this?"

"No, Santa," said Blinky. "They all want to see the movie, and they all want to see it now." Blinky thought for a second. "Well, 90% of them, anyway. There are some who say they'd rather watch old Star Trek reruns, and a few weird ones who prefer Doctor Who. And there's also a small percentage who brag about the fact that they haven't seen any of the Star Wars movies like it's some kind of badge of honor. But there's not enough of them to make it worth keeping the production floor open."

"Fine, then," Santa said. "I'm not a monster. I'll let them watch the movie. But, as soon as it's over, they'll go right back to work, right?"

"Yes, Santa! Oh, yes!" Blinky was jubilant.

"Go set things up," Santa told Blinky, who ran off hurriedly.

Mrs. Claus, who had been listening the entire time, hugged her husband. "It's a good thing you are doing today. The elves will be happy," she said.

"They will," Santa replied. "I just hope, for their sake, my sake, and the sake of J.J. Abrams, that this movie is better than The Phantom Menace. The last thing I want is a bunch of angry elves."


Now choose a title that best fits the story.

O A. Santa vs. Star Wars
O B. J.J. vs. E.L.
O C. The Spoils of Keebler
O D. Star Wars: The Rise of the Sleighrider
O E. Harry Potter and the Phantom Menace
O F. The Angry Elves

Edited from a post originally published on 12/18/2015. (The day Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens opened in theaters.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

When Your Kid Needs That ONE THING for Christmas

Every year the news will run a story about that ONE THING that every kid is clamoring for; the ONE THING all the kids just must have; the ONE THING the stores are sold out of and that you can't find anywhere.

I've always laughed at those stories. I've scoffed at the idiotic parents driving all over town to try to find that ONE THING. I hadn't really worried about it, because it wasn't going to happen to me. Why? Because I'm not a very trendy person, and neither are my kids. And even if my kids did say they wanted that ONE THING, we often don't have enough money for it. I had never experienced the hunt for the ONE THING.

Until this year.

A few weeks ago I was walking through Walmart with my three year-old boy. He likes dinosaurs, and he loves monster trucks. (Sometimes he'll call them "monstrucks!") On the toy aisle we walked past some little monster trucks that were shaped like dinosaurs. I know--dinosaur monster trucks make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Dinosaurs were extinct before the cavemen invented the wheel (or so they'd like us to believe), and definitely long before the redneck invented the monster truck. But, toys don't really have to make sense to a kid. I made the mistake of pointing them out to the boy. He, of course, was pretty excited. "Dinosaur monster trucks!" he exclaimed.

Dinosaur Monster Truck!!!
I didn't think much  of it at the time, but as the days and weeks passed, whenever anyone would ask him what he wanted for Christmas he would say, rather emphatically, "Dinosaur monster trucks!"

It soon became apparent that, for my three year-old, this had become his ONE THING. (I have no idea what the real ONE THING is this year for most of America. I'm too backwoods to know.) So, I returned to the Walmart to get the boy some dinosaur monster trucks. Of course, they weren't there anymore. The problem is, when I first saw them, they weren't in the main toy section--they were in the seasonal toy aisle. The products in the seasonal toy aisle get swapped out frequently. To make matters worse, the dinosaur monster trucks were not a name brand product, they were the generic Walmart brand, so that made it difficult to look them up online.

I searched the store. No dinosaur monster trucks. My wife scoured the interwebs. She couldn't find them on her mothership, Amazon. She eventually tracked them down on, but they were not something that could be ordered, and it said that none of the nearby stores had them in stock.

The hunt continued. My wife and her mother searched an out of town Walmart. No dinosaur monster trucks. Then, after getting the kids to bed, I went for a late Saturday night hunt. I tried a Walmart about 20 miles away. They had some monster trucks that were bigger, and looked a little like dragons, but they were not the ONE THING. (I bought them anyway, to have as Plan B.)

There was only one more nearby Walmart I hadn't yet searched. It was my last chance. I was desperate. I went up and down the toy aisles and found some monster trucks that looked like sharks. So close! But not the dinosaur monster trucks I was looking for. It was approaching midnight, and I was about to give up, when a kind, courteous Walmart employee sauntered into the area. She had a shopping cart full of items that she was restocking to the shelves. I grabbed the shark monster trucks and asked her--no, begged and pleaded with her--if there was any chance they had some monster trucks similar to the shark ones, but shaped like dinosaurs instead.

She looked at me and didn't say anything. She held up her finger, motioning me to wait, and walked to her shopping cart full of go-backs. She reached in and pulled out a package of dinosaur monster trucks and--with a look of uncertainty on her face--handed them to me. "Yes!!!" I shouted. I didn't hug her, although I did think about it. Instead, I just said "Thank you!" to her about 17 times.

The hunt was over! After spending many, many hours searching through four different Walmart stores, plus the time my wife spent digging through the internet, we finally had our son's ONE THING! I was so relieved.

Four days later I was back in the neighborhood Walmart where I had first seen the dinosaur monster trucks. (I needed some Pepto-Bismal, possibly because of the stress from the search.) For no other reason than out of sheer habit, I walked past the seasonal toy aisle. There, on the shelf, were a dozen more packages of dinosaur monster trucks. The ONE THING was now overstocked.

The ONE THING, many times over.

Because, of course.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Quick and Easy Family Christmas Letter

Does anyone ever look forward to writing the family Christmas letter? It's one of those things that starts nagging at the back of your mind as Thanksgiving approaches, and stays there until either you get it written or it's New Year's Eve and you can free your mind by declaring "not this year, but maybe next year." (Then the whole cycle starts over again next Thanksgiving.)

It shouldn't be that hard to write a family Christmas letter, should it? It's not like it's ever original. You could say the exact same thing every year, with the exception of the kids' ages, and no one would ever notice. (Except maybe for Aunt Beverly. She's a stickler.)

So, to fix this problem, I have created the easy solution: a form letter you can use every year! All you have to do is fill in the names, ages, and a few other simple details. It's simple and effective!

The family Christmas letter doesn't have to be difficult. (Or any good.)

To use my Family Christmas Form Letter, all you have to do is put your personal information in the blanks between the brackets (these things: [    ].) That's it!

So, without any further ado, here is the SlowJoe40 Family Christmas Form Letter:

Dear [friend, family member, casual acquaintance, random person],

Merry Christmas! [Happy Holidays/Happy Hanukkah/Festive Festivus, or other salutation] I hope all is going well for you and your [family/significant other/cats/imaginary friends]. We are doing [great/fantastic/better than you].

We had a wonderful year! We did [Exciting Thing #1]! We also did [Exciting Thing #2]. And, we also did [Optional Exciting Thing #3]. It sure kept us busy this year!

[Child #1] is [ ? ] years old now. Time sure does fly! [He/she] [is in ? grade/will start school soon/just got married/just got engaged/had another baby]! [He/she] really is becoming a mature young [man/woman].

[Child #2] is [ ? ] years old now. [He/she] is doing great [at school in ? grade/at work/with his/her wife/husband]. [He/she] really enjoys it. [He/she] likes to [favorite activity] and [other favorite activity].

[Optional: Child #3 through Child #?? (Just make sure you don't forget any.)]

[Wife/Mother] had another big year, taking care of all [specific number of] children, and working on [job/hobby/community service/church calling], and [job/hobby/community service/church calling], and [job/hobby/community service/church calling] [Note: Must have at least three items listed in order to be doing an acceptable job as Wife/Mother.] It sure keeps her busy, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

[Husband/Father] keeps busy with [job]. He also spends time doing [hobby/household project/church calling]. [Note: A second hobby/household project/church calling is optional, but not necessary.]

We send you our warmest greetings and best wishes this holiday season. May you have a [Merry/Happy specific holiday] and a Happy New Year!

[With Love/Sincerely/Seasons Greetings],

The [    ???    ] Family

(Wasn't that easy? You're welcome!)

Edited from a post originally published on 12.19.2017.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Time Out

Why is my five year-old daughter in time out?

Time out!

She was sniffling, so I told her to go get a tissue to blow her nose. Her three year-old brother, attempting to be helpful, pulled a tissue from the box and tried to hand it to her. She wanted nothing to do with it. She insisted that she get her own tissue from the box. He stood between her and the tissue box, still trying to give her the tissue he had pulled from the box, but purposely blocking her from getting a different one herself. She yelled. She screamed. She stomped her foot. I told her to just take the tissue from him. I told her he had been trying to be nice. She yelled. She screamed. She stomped her foot. Because she was now crying, more snot oozed from her nose. She really needed a tissue now, but she would rather have a face full of snot than accept a tissue given to her by her little brother.

I sent her to time out. She stood in the corner. She yelled. She screamed. she stomped her foot. She still did not have a tissue.

If you ever come to my house and notice snot stains on the wall, this would be an explanation.

[Please note that I said "an" explanation, not "the" explanation. I make this distinction because I cannot guarantee this story is the only reason there might be snot on the walls of my house. I have four kids.]

Friday, December 6, 2019

"So, What Do You Want for Christmas?"

"What do you want for Christmas this year?"

That's the big question, isn't it? We'll get asked that question many times over the course of December, and we'll probably ask it ourselves to several people. It can be a tough question, or it can be an easy question. Some people know exactly how to answer it. "I want an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!" And some people have no idea whatsoever what they want. In her letter to Santa (as dictated to my wife) my youngest daughter once said, "Please bring me a present, not a froggy. I want a froggy and a toy dinosaur and a toy lion in the present." (She got a froggy. She liked it.)

Merry Christmas to all!!!

So, what do I want for Christmas this year? Not much. Just a few things like:

*I would like an end to partisan bickering, so that members of both parties could spend more time working to continue to make this nation a wonderful place to live instead of calling each other names and worrying about getting re-elected.

*I would like the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl this year. (Just one championship. That's all I'm asking for! C'mon, if Tampa Bay can have a championship why can't the Vikings?)

*I would like automatic computer updates that update at convenient times for me, and don't mess up my computer.

*I would like all television commercials to be rated "G." I shouldn't have to have the "birds and the bees" talk with my kids because of an advertisement during a timeout in the basketball game.

*I would like some egg nog.

*I would like good health for me and my family. And my friends. And other people, too.

*I would like world peace.

*I would like lettuce to taste like bacon.

*I would like to be able to tell my children something once, and have them hear me and do the thing I wanted them to do after only telling them one time.

*I would like happiness for me and my family. And my friends. And other people, too.

(I don't want to be too greedy. I'll settle for any one of these things.)

Edited from a post originally published on 12/12/2017.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

No Turkey on Thanksgiving?

My wife's family is weird.

(They'd have to be--they accepted me into their ranks.)

Did you know that there is no law that says you have to have turkey on Thanksgiving? It's true! If you wanted to, it would be perfectly legal to have Cap'n Crunch for your Thanksgiving Day feast. Sure, you might be pegged as being odd, but it's not a requirement to have the traditional Thanksgiving foods.

Our family usually gets together with my wife's parents and her two sisters for Sunday dinner two or three times a month. When we do get together, there's always an abundance of food. Every two or three months or so, we'll even have a big turkey dinner on a random Sunday. So, when they were contemplating what to do for Thanksgiving, my wife, her sisters, and her Mom decided that we didn't really need to do the big production of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, they decided to make soup. Their thinking was, "Why do we spend so much time making a big deal out of the meal while the men sit around and watch football all day." And so, soup it was.

Soup for Thanksgiving? Sounds good to me!

Yes, we had soup for Thanksgiving dinner--and I was perfectly happy with that. Everyone made a soup and brought it for the Thanksgiving get-together. There was some butternut squash soup, some chili, and some corn chowder. My wife made some Zupa Toscana, the sausage/potato/kale soup like they make at Olive Garden. They were all really good soups, or so I assume. (I filled myself on my wife's soup, because I knew it was fantastic!)

I enjoyed the soup, and I was perfectly satisfied with it as my Thanksgiving meal. Fortunately, my wife's family also enjoys desserts, so while there was no Thanksgiving turkey, there still was an abundance of pies. Five different kinds of pie, plus a pumpkin-chocolate chip cake, to be precise. All delicious! (Yes, while I didn't try the different soups, I felt it was my obligation to try at least one piece of every pie.) (Someone had to do it.)

There's always room for pie!
So, while our Thanksgiving didn't include the typical turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, we still had pie, and we still enjoyed watching the Dallas Cowboys lose. (Some Thanksgiving traditions are always enjoyable!)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ranking the Names of the 12 Players Who Scored In the Auburn-Alabama Football Game

You've got to love college football! It's a great sport, where every game matters (except for 92% of the season-ending bowl games.) It's a game where every team has a chance to win the national championship (except for the teams that don't play in one of the five elite conferences--and even most of them don't have much of a chance.) But mainly, it's a game where the players have some really cool names.

I'm talking about names like "Jarvis Redwine," "Malakai Rango," or "Jake Butt." I once heard a sports radio host joke that he wasn't sure if "Pope Benedict" was the leader of the Catholic church or a wide receiver for Florida State. (I couldn't talk about this subject without mentioning this incredible skit from Key and Peele.)

Auburn and Alabama played an important football game this weekend. I wasn't able to watch it. (I was doing grocery shopping, putting away laundry, and other things that happen when you are a father of four.) But, after the game was over, I looked at the box score, to see how the game went. That's when I came across the names of the twelve players who scored during Auburn's 48-45 upset victory over Alabama. They are twelve of the best names you'll ever see light up a box score for a college football game.

Be on the lookout for Hingle McCringleberry!
I decided to rank these player names, from least to most interesting. Here they are:

12. Mac Jones--Alabama quarterback (four touchdown passes): Mac Jones? Sounds like a country singer. (Didn't he sing "Baby, Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me?")

11. Najee Harris--Alabama (one rushing touchdown): A combination of two exclamations--Nah! Gee!

10. Anders Carlson--Auburn kicker (four field goals, four extra points): His name sounds like he's a kicker from Sweden. (He looks like it, too.) But, his hometown is listed as Colorado Springs.

9. Joseph Bulovas--Alabama kicker (six extra points, one field goal; missed a potential game-tying field goal in the final minutes): The Bulova "Accutron" watch is noted for its accuracy, which would be a very good quality to have in a field goal kicker.

8. Shedrick Jackson--Auburn (caught two-point conversion): How does Rick's "Shedrick" compare to Cheryl's she-shed?

7. Zacoby McClain--Auburn (100-yard interception return for touchdown): I wonder how many times a day Zacoby is mistakenly referred to as Jacoby?

6. Sal Cannella--Auburn (one touchdown reception): Sounds like either a common bacterial disease of the intestinal tract, or the name of one of Tony Soprano's henchmen.

5. Shaun Shivers--Auburn (one game-clinching touchdown run): What does Shaun do when his wife steals all of the covers? (Great points for alliteration.)

4. Bo Nix--Auburn quarterback (one touchdown run, one touchdown pass, one pass for two-point conversion): Now that's getting maximum use out of a minimal amount of letters! Just five letters, and you've got game-winning quarterback Bo Nix. Go, Bo!

3. Henry Ruggs III--Alabama (one touchdown reception): Is he called "Henry Ruggs three," or "Henry Ruggs the third?" What's the story on Henry Ruggs I and Henry Ruggs II? Will there be a Henry Ruggs IV? What kind of flooring does Henry Ruggs III have in his home?

2. Jaylen Waddle--Alabama (three touchdown receptions, one kickoff return touchdown): No one named "Waddle" should be able to run so fast.

1. Smoke Monday--Auburn (one interception return touchdown): Smoke Monday--What do they call the start-of-the-week sale down at the Smoke Shop? Smoke Monday--How do you want your brisket cooked, and when do you want it? Smoke Monday--What you better do, because they're canceling our cigarette breaks on Tuesday. Smoke Monday--What'll they find if you burn down Cheryl's she shed late Sunday night?

Actually, "Smoke" is just a nickname given to him by his grandfather. His real name is "Quindarious." Which explains why his coaches and teammates call him "Smoke."

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What Are the Kids Thankful For?

It's officially Thanksgiving break, so I'm letting the kids take over the blog for the day. (They thought this was a good idea.)

Roll call:
Thing 1--11 year-old girl
Thing 2--9 year-old boy
Thing 3--4 year-old girl
Thing 4--3 year-old boy

I asked them what they were thankful for, and here's how they answered:

"I'm thankful for science."--I'm not sure if Thing 1 was trying to be a smart aleck, or just trying to be smart. (She is often very good at being both.)

"I'm thankful for outer space."--This was Thing 2 trying to give a "smart" answer like his big sister.

"Prentcils!" exclaimed Thing 3. "Prentcils!" yelled Thing 4 in agreement. I asked what that meant. Thing 3 was talking about lead-filled writing utensils, but Thing 4 was referring to crunchy, salty snacks.


"Fruit!"--Thing 3 loves her some fruit.

"Fast food!"--Thing 2 likes to eat.

"Mac and cheese."--Thing 4. (He likes to eat it, and he likes to wear it.)

"I'm thankful for dogs that can dance."--Sometimes Thing 1 tries a little too hard to be funny. (She's a lot like her Dad in that way.)

"Windows. Blinds. Light switches. Piano benches. Table cloths."--In lieu of creativity, Thing 2 decided to just name things within his line of sight.

"Cats that meow when you meow at them."--Thing 1, trying to be funny again.

"School buses!"--I'm not sure which kid shouted this, because they all like school buses.

"School bus drivers who drive us to school even though half the kids scream at her all the time."--This is odd enough that it requires further questioning. Apparently, half the kids (mostly boys) scream at the bus driver, even though she really doesn't like it. Sometimes the bus driver yells back at them. (I'm thankful for patient bus drivers.)

"I'm thankful for Mommy!"--And with that, Thing 4 speaks for all of us.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Advertisements Are the Original Fake News

Advertisers make a lot of outlandish claims, like "Red Bull gives you wings," "these tacos are made with real beef," and "our service is Comcastic!" So, I was a bit skeptical when I saw this:

It's on a billboard, so it MUST be true!
The billboard says, "Biscuits are spoons you can eat." Despite my trepidation, I was very intrigued. Why? Well, I like biscuits. And I like to eat with spoons. So, using a biscuit as a spoon could be a good thing. (One less dish to wash!)

I thought I should give it a try.

The next time I went to have a bowl of cereal, I decided I'd try to eat it with a biscuit instead of a spoon.

It didn't work so well.

I tried to scoop up the cereal with the biscuit, like I usually do with the spoon, but all it did was push the cereal around. None of the cereal actually stayed on the biscuit. I ended up with cereal all over the table and a biscuit that was a bit soggy from the milk. Yes, I could eat the biscuit, but I couldn't really use it as a spoon.

Maybe if I had tried to eat soup instead of cereal the biscuit would have been a better spoon. But even then it wouldn't have been optimal; it's very difficult to slurp a biscuit.

So, once again I am forced to come to the conclusion that an advertisement has made a false claim. They tried to pass off a lie as if it were the truth. It's almost as if advertisements were fake news before "Fake News" was a thing.

Edited from a post originally published on 11/28/2017.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Are You Sure That's a Good Idea?

We all make choices every day. Some of those choices aren't the best.

*Getting sushi at a gas station.

*Letting you children cut each other's hair.

*Going shopping at Costco in a little two-seat convertible.

Where will they put the three-gallon jar of mayonnaise?

*Buying a house on a busy five-lane highway.

*Eating a McRib.

*Playing baseball in the church parking lot.


*Reposting some horrible meme about someone you disagree with politically without first checking to see if it is actually true. (For example, Bernie Sanders did NOT say, "Any NBA player who scores more than 30 points should be forced to share those points with someone who has not scored that many points, regardless of which team he plays for,"--even though it appears on the internet, seems legitimate, and comes from a reliable-looking source like "")

*Sour Patch Kids cereal.

It's as delicious as it looks!
*Shopping around for the least expensive vasectomy.

*Electing the same people to Congress again and again, then expecting them to change things for the better.

*Electing a reality-television show host as President of the United States and expecting him to change things for the better.

*Giving your Social Security Number to someone over the phone because you got an official-sounding message saying it had been suspended for, and I quote, "some reason."

*Eating out at Taco Bell on the first date.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Sleep? Good Luck with That

Sleep: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Parenthood. Its five year -- ten year --twenty year --lifelong mission: to explore the inside of your eyelids, to seek out sleep wherever you can find it, to boldly snore where no one has snored before!

[Wait. Did you say lifelong mission? Really? Lifelong? Shouldn't it be just "five-year?" By the time your kids are five years old they should be sleeping through the night, so the parents should be able to sleep just fine, right? Are you trying to tell me that your children can effect your ability to sleep for the rest of your entire life?!? That's something they certainly did not put in the brochures! I didn't know I was signing up for that!]

Sleep is something we definitely take for granted as single people. Before you become a parent, your thoughts on sleep are basically, "Sleep? Yeah, I'll catch some of that whenever. It's no big deal. There'll always be time for sleep later." Ha! If only you knew! When you are a parent, that far-flung future known as "later" doesn't actually exist, and it probably never will.

Sleep? Why would I sleep when I could be climbing on the couch and knocking the mirror off of the wall?

The ways in which a child can keep a parent from getting that much-needed sleep are numerous:
Talking to their stuffed animals.
Arguing with their stuffed animals.
Peeing the bed.
Pooping the bed.
Barfing the bed.
Jumping on the bed.
Clicking the light switch on and off in rapid succession.
Pounding on the door.
Pounding on the wall.
Climbing up the wall.
Waking up their sibling.
Climbing on the furniture.
Knocking over the furniture.
Making too much noise.
And, oddly enough, being too quiet.

And when the kids wake us up, we'll do just about anything to get them back to sleep. The other night The Wife and I piled sleepless kids in our bed with us and watched an episode of Reading Rainbow about comedy. (Because when it comes to making people laugh, the first person I think of is LeVar Burton.) Later, I sat in the living room at 3:30 AM feeding pop tarts to my youngest as he forced me to play with a fidget spinner. (And if I wasn't playing with it the way he wanted me to, he most certainly would let me know.)

Of course, once kids become teenagers we don't need to worry about them anymore, and we can count on a peaceful sleep every night. (I don't know this for a fact, but it's got to be true, right?)

There's a lot of talk about the zombie apocalypse. I don't think it will happen, but if it does, it won't consist of the undead, it will be a zombie apocalypse featuring sleepless parents slowly going through their daily motions without any visible sign of higher brain functions.

Kids daydream about all kinds of fantastical, wonderful things. Parents daydream about sleep. It truly is the final frontier.

Edited from a post originally published on 11.7.2017.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Bad Math of College Football

Colleges are supposed to teach our kids to be smarter, not make them more stupider. (Or is that more stupid?)

My nine year-old son is getting excited about possible going to his first college football game this week, so he's been asking me a lot of college football questions. He's been quizzing me about which conferences different college football teams play in. It came up that the University of Utah used to play in the Mountain West Conference, but moved a few years ago into the PAC-12 Conference. I told him that the conference was formerly known as the PAC-10 before the University of Utah and the University of Colorado agreed to join it in 2010.

He found this interesting, and we started talking about other college football conferences. That's when we stumbled across the mathematical incongruities of these major institutions of "higher" learning.

Do you know how many teams the Big 12 Conference has in it? You would think the answer would be 12, wouldn't you? You would be wrong. The Big 12 Conference consists of ten football teams. Does this make sense? No. No, it does not. But, it gets more confusing, because the Big 12 Conference is not the worst offender, thanks to the existence of the Big Ten Conference.

At this point, if I ask you how many teams are in the Big Ten Conference, you know that the answer is not going to be ten, because why would it? The Big Ten Conference added an eleventh team (Penn State) in 1990, then they added a twelfth team (University of Nebraska) in 2011. That meant that for a while the Big 12 Conference had ten teams and the Big Ten Conference had twelve teams, which is idiotic, but somewhat easy to remember (if you tilt your head just right.) But, since then, the Big Ten Conference went and added two more teams to reach a total (for now) of 14 teams!

And I thought college algebra was difficult to understand.

These are institutions of higher learning! These are the places we send our children in order for them to get educated, and yet these universities seem to be unable to count to 14.

My nine year-old was confused and amused. He might never count things the same way again.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Who Touched My Gas Station Hot Dog?

Every time you go inside at the gas station you see them. They are rotating in their display case. They've been cooked (probably), or at the very least warmed. They are waiting to be sold and eaten. They are the gas station hot dogs.

Who eats these things?

There they are, ready for you (or anyone else) (or everyone else) to grab!
They're slimy. They're greasy. And, worst of all (or is that wurst of all?) they're out there in the open where anyone can touch them! Have you taken a good look at the customers inside a convenience store? Are these the type of people you want having free and open access to touch your food before you eat it?

Now, having said that, I don't really think these openly displayed hot dogs get touched very often. I've never seen anyone touching a gas station hot dog that they weren't purchasing. But, the fact that they're out there in the open where anyone could touch them is enough to keep me away. 

They must sell these hot dogs to someone, or they wouldn't have them in every gas station. Maybe people only buy them when there are no other customers in the store, too ashamed to let someone else see their purchase.

And while I won't eat a gas station hot dog, I might eat a gas station burrito. The tortilla around the meat might make enough difference, depending on how hungry I am. And I definitely would be willing to eat a gas station sandwich that is wrapped. As long as that wrapping keeps the unwashed masses from touching my food, I'm just fine.

No problem!
But, I'm not going to be having any of that jerky-in-a-jar by the cash register, unless they are individually wrapped. And those weird eggs floating in a jar--what the heck are those things? I am never going to find out!

Interestingly enough, while I won't even consider eating a gas station hot dog, I eat gas station donuts all the time. The donuts are behind a little see-through plastic door. Someone could touch all of the donuts just as easily as they could all of the hot dogs. And yet, I grab my tiny piece of wax paper, wrap it around the donut (or apple fritter) of my choice, and have exactly zero qualms about eating it. Why the difference? Am I putting that much faith in the use of the donut wax paper? Is it the fact that the donut isn't as slimy as the hot dog? Is it because I need the sugar fix? I'm just not sure.

No, there won't be any gas station hot dogs for me. I'll get all my food through the fast-food window, where I know the food preparation conditions are pristine and all of the workers wash their hands at least twice a day, whether they need to or not.

Edited from a post originally posted on 11/14/2017.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Nerds Are the Worst Halloween Candy

Halloween is over. (Thank goodness!) But, the Halloween candy is still around. Oh, the good stuff is already gone--the KitKat and Twix were devoured quickly--but there are still plenty of Smarties and Tootsie Rolls. Some Halloween candies will hang around for a while.

A recent survey said that candy corn is the worst Halloween candy. Candy corn is tri-colored sugar wax. It is not good. But, it's certainly not the worst Halloween candy. That spot belongs to Nerds.

If you don't know what Nerds are, consider yourself lucky. Nerds first appeared in 1983, making them a relative newcomer to the Halloween candy community. (Candy corn, by way of contrast, have been around since the invention of candles.)

As sands in the hourglass, so are the Nerds on the floor.

Why am I so down on Nerds? For one thing, they don't taste good. Nerds not only look like tiny little pebbles, they taste like tiny little pebbles. How many teeth have been broken by biting down on a Nerd? (I don't have an answer, but I'm sure Nerds have helped pay for many nice cars driven by many dentists.) And it's not just that Nerds are hard, they are also very small, so they get stuck in and around the teeth.

But, the biggest problem with Nerds is that they get everywhere. If you have kids, and those kids have Nerds, those kids will spill those Nerds. You can try to pick up all the Nerds that have spilled. You will not succeed. Even after you have picked up the spilled Nerds, there will still be spilled Nerds on the floor. They are the candy equivalent of sand from the beach. They are all-encompassing. They are everywhere. Once a package of Nerds has been opened in your house, there will always be Nerds in your house.

Also, each individual Nerd looks like a kidney stone. (Believe me, I know.)

If Nerds tasted good, they might be worth it. We put up with the sand from the beach because the beach is a fun place to be. Nerds aren't worth it. I'd rather have a waxy candy corn any day of the week.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Escape to Walmart!

I have a secret that I'm going to confess to you. It's a bit shameful and embarrassing. It's not something I'm proud of. I don't really understand why I do it. But here it is:

Sometimes I'll escape the world by going to Walmart.

I know what you're thinking: Walmart? Really? I have my reasons. For one thing, there are (at least) four Walmarts between where I live and the nearest Target, which is a half-hour away. The one hour round-trip drive to Target can't compete with the ten minute round-trip to Walmart. (And for those who think I should be more manly, Cabela's is an hour and a half round-trip.)

But still, Walmart, you ask? Walmart is a place you go on purpose? To get away from it all? Yes. Yes, it is.

The place to go to get away from it all?

Let me explain, if I can. I'm a stay-at-home Dad. (Not a Mr. Mom!) I have four kids, including two that require near-constant attention. If I can get thirty minutes to myself by going to Walmart because we're out of dishwasher soap, then by heck I'm going to take advantage of that!

[Before you feel too sorry for me, I should point out that my wife works full-time as a junior high math teacher. She deals with hundreds of kids a day, then comes home to our four kids and me. I hope she finds an occasional escape at school, because she doesn't get nearly as many "girl's nights out" as she deserves! (Not even to Walmart.)]

So, what do I do on my Walmart getaways? First of all, I have to get the thing (or things) I went there for. Walmart has just about everything, so anything can be used as an excuse to go. The other day we needed some light bulbs, so I used that as the reason for my Walmart trip. Once I had the bulbs, I was free to hit some of my regular spots. I'll stop at the DVD section and look at television show seasons that I might be interested in, but probably can't afford and wouldn't have the time to watch anyway. I'll browse down the book aisle and see if I can figure out how many new books James Patterson has written and released since the last time I was at Walmart. (Usually at least three.) I'll glance down the toy section to see if there's anything there my kids might like, and smile when I see toys they already have and think of how much fun they've had with them. I'll look at the egg nog (if it's the right season) and probably determine that it's just too expensive. And I'll get some bananas. We always need bananas (because the ones we had either have been eaten or gone bad.)

20 checkout lanes! (At least two of which are open.)

You never know what might happen at Walmart. You might see a neighbor or an old friend and get a chance to visit. You might see one of those "people of Walmart" and get a good laugh. You might be one of those "people of Walmart." (The other day the song "Fox On the Run" by Sweet started playing over the intercom, and before I knew it my head was bobbing up and down and I was loudly singing, "I--I--I--don't wanna know your name," as I pushed my cart through the store. Hopefully I'm not going viral somewhere as "Singing Walmart Guy.")

And, hey, you obviously don't need to get dressed up to go to Walmart.

Now, I know that Walmart isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of getting away from it all. Normally you might think of the mountains. Or the beach. Or the spa. Or the lake. Or the cabin. But, next time you need a getaway, maybe you should think of Walmart. It's close. It's convenient. It really is a great value. (And, they have bananas. You always need bananas.)

Edited from a post originally published on 11/10/2017.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Grandchildren Are the Best (Or So I've Been Told)

The other day my three year-old son and I were checking out at the Walmart. The cashier smiled at my boy, who is very cute, and said to me, "Aren't grandchildren the best?"

I nodded my head and replied, "I'm sure they are." I decided to leave it at that--agreeing with her point without acknowledging she had misjudged my relationship to the child who was with me. Sure, I could have said, "I wouldn't know because this is my son," or "I look forward to finding out in ten or fifteen years," or "Please stop talking and just give me my receipt," but I decided there was no need to make her feel bad about making a perfectly reasonable assumption.

I should be offended, shouldn't I? It should really bother me that someone thinks I'm so old that this three year-old must be my grandkid, because he couldn't possibly be my son. But, I don't mind. I understand. When most people my age are hanging out with a three year-old, that three year-old is usually a grandchild.

Kid or grandkid?

My doctor wasn't sure. Last week I had to go in to take care of yet another of those maladies that occurs with advancing age. I took my youngest son with me. Armed with the information on my chart, the doctor asked, "Is this your son or your grandson? Because based on your age it could be either one."

It's true. I'm old enough that if I hadn't been so socially awkward in my teens--and twenties--and thirties--I could have been a grandpa by now. But, I'm not. My kids are 11, 9, 4, and 3. They're great! I'm still in "enjoy them while you can" mode with them. It'll be several years before I get any grandchildren that I can enjoy. I'm looking forward to it. I've been told they're the best.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Halloween Candy Keeps Getting Smaller

Are they making the Halloween candy smaller every year? It sure seems so.

To be fair, I do have very large hands.

 It used to be (a long, long time ago) that no one ever gave any thought to what size a candy bar was. Candy bars came in whatever size they came in. Some were bigger than others. The Three Musketeers bar was bigger than an Almond Joy, but that was okay. They were all "full-sized" or candy bar sized. Size didn't really matter.

But then someone decided that smaller candy bars might work better for times like Halloween. They started off calling these shrunken candy bars "Snack Size." It made it sound as if a full size candy bar was some kind of large meal no one could ever finish in one attempt, so instead they were offering smaller bars that people could eat as a "Snack." And, it worked. People loved the "Snack Size" candy bars, which were usually one-half to one-third the size of a regular candy bar. They were a great size to give away for Halloween, and you could eat two or three of them without feeling too guilty about it.

Full-Size, Fun-Size, and Mini-Size. (Eat them all and you'll need to Exer-Cise.)

Of course, over the years, full-sized candy bars have gotten smaller and smaller. And the same thing has happened to "Snack Size." In fact, most companies have changed the name of these smaller bars from "Snack Size" to "Fun Size." Apparently, they aren't big enough to be considered a snack anymore, but they are still fun! The "Fun Size" bars are now only about one-fourth the size of a full-sized bar. But, people still love them. "Fun Size" is fun!

Three "Fun-Size" bars atop a full-sized one.

Unfortunately, someone decided if shrinking bars down to "Fun Size" was a good idea, how about making them even smaller? So now they are offering "Mini-Size" candy bars. The "Mini-Size" candies are less than half as big as the "Fun Size." They're about the size of a fingertip!

Two "Mini-Size" candies on top of a "Fun-Size."

In fact, the "Mini-Size" are so small that I don't think they should be called candy bars--they're too small to be considered a bar! You can call them candies if you want--they're about the same size as a Hershey's Kiss. No one calls a Hershey's Kiss a candy bar.

And, like a Hershey's Kiss, the "Mini-Size" candies are hardly worth the effort to unwrap. If you are larger than a standard elf, your hands will be so much larger than the "Mini" that it will be difficult to grasp the wrapper to unwrap the treat. The candy is so small that I wouldn't be surprised if the wrapper weighs more than the actual candy!

Sometimes I'm tempted to not even bother unwrapping these little things.
This needs to stop now! If left unchecked, the candy companies might keep making their candies smaller and smaller, until they are the size of Pop Rocks. (And I don't mean a package of Pop Rocks, I mean as small as each individual rock that pops.) How long until they start individually wrapping each Smartie?

We need to say no to the "Mini-Size" candies. Don't buy them. Don't give them out as Halloween treats. "Fun Size" are acceptable; full size is preferable. Sometimes size does matter!

Edited from a post originally published on 10/31/2017.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

10 Things You Find In Every Doctor's Office

I recently had to go to the doctor's office. While there, I realized that almost every doctor's office looks the same. It's like they all have a subscription to Doctor's Office Decor magazine. Here are just a few of the things you'll find in every doctor's office:

The Waiting Room:

*A coffee table full of magazines--These are mostly magazines you would never have in your home, like Diabetic Living, Parents Today, Highlights, and, of course, Doctor's Office Decor. Oh sure, there will occasionally be something almost useful, like Sports Illustrated or Time, but mostly it's Eating Well, or AARP: The Magazine.

All the magazines you would never read--unless you are bored out of your mind.

*A corner designated for kid toys--And when I say "kid toys," I mostly mean those bead mazes that features colorful beads on curvy, bright colored wires--the kind of toy that kids will play with for two minutes before getting bored.

*A television showing a kids' movie--Gotta keep those kids quiet and entertained.

*A screen (television or computer) showing some kind of health infotainment--This will show about ten or fifteen minutes of "how to stay healthy" information on a loop. Most people will pay attention to it for about 45 seconds.

It's the kid corner, complete with bead mazes and a Pixar movie.
(Back when I was a kid, all we had was a darn Highlights magazine.)
*Large, soothing framed pictures on the wall--Whether they are photographs or paintings, these pictures are usually either nature scenes or abstract art. (Because pictures of sick people probably wouldn't be the best idea.)

The Examination Room:

*Little glass jars full of tongue depressors and cotton balls--Someone, somewhere, thinks that there are a nearly unlimited amount of tongues that need to be depressed. (But why glass jars? Does a doctor need to be able to see the tongue depressors to know that they are there?)

"If only I could find those tongue depressors," said no doctor ever.

*A small desk with a computer and a short little chair/stool on wheels--Apparently, it's important for the health care professionals to be able to roll to any spot in the examination room. Also, would it kill them to have some internet access on those computers? It might help keep the patients from losing their patience as they wait for the doctor.

*The medical waste disposal box for old syringes--If you touch this, you will die!

*Rubber glove dispenser--Strangely enough, the rubber gloves just stay in the box they came in, unlike the tongue depressors.

Rubber gloves on the wall. (In three convenient sizes.)

*The three-and-a-half foot long examination "bed"--This is the centerpiece of every examination room. And don't worry, it's got an extension that can be pulled out to make the "bed" four-and-a-half feet, so you can get really comfortable. It's so comfortable, in fact, that I'm thinking about getting some wax paper to cover my bed at home. (It would save a lot of time and effort in washing the sheets.)

So high off the ground that if you sit, your feet dangle.
So short that if you lay down, your feet dangle.
(Apparently, they really want your feet to dangle.)

[NOTE: Earlier, you probably thought I made up some magazine titles like, Eating Well, and AARP: The Magazine. I assure you, I did not. Here's proof:

I'll let you think what you will of Doctor's Office Decor.]

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Return of the McRib

You never know when horror will strike.

Recently I was minding my own business, driving down the road. I was having a pretty good day, and life was treating me well. But then, I saw it. My mood immediately changed. A sick feeling hit me in the pit of my stomach. I started to sweat, and my skin went clammy. I thought about stopping to catch my breath, but decided it would be better to just press forward and get as far away from it as I could.

I looked again to make sure I had seen what I thought I had. It was true. The sign had nothing on it but the three words sure to strike terror in the hearts of all people with good taste:

"McRib Is Back."

Thanks for the warning!

There are a lot of things in this world that I don't understand, and the existence of the McRib is one of them. What exactly is a McRib? Back in 2015 I turned to the McDonald's website on the interwebs to find out. At the top of the McRib page it said:

What's in your McRib patty?

Then, it answered it's own question with this:

Pork! Our McRib patty starts with ground pork from the pork shoulder.

The first thing that stands out to me here is that they say "Pork!" like we'll actually be surprised that it contains meat. It's as if they're saying, "Ha! You probably didn't think there was real meat in this thing, did you? Well, there is! It's pork!!!"

Then there's the second, and probably more important thing that stands out about their statement: "ground pork from the pork shoulder." Now, I'll admit that I may not be as familiar with pig anatomy as maybe I could be, but I'm thinking that the pork shoulder is not actually located in the rib. I know enough about human anatomy to know that my rib and my shoulder are not exactly the same thing. They're not even particularly close. So, I suspect that the same is true for the pig.

The next, obvious, point is: If it's made from the shoulder, not the rib, shouldn't it be called the "McShoulder?" I think "McRib" seems a bit deceptive, doesn't it? It's not made from the rib! (Maybe they should just call it "McPork." Or, maybe not.)

I'm not sure how they can call it "McRib" if it's not actually made from the rib. It's like how they can call their chicken sandwich a "McChicken," because it is made from chicken parts, but they can't call it a "McBreast" if it's not made out of chicken breast. (Of course, there are probably other reasons why they shouldn't use the name "McBreast," but I won't go into that here.)

Unfortunately, there's still one more thing that stands out from the McDonald's statement. They say, "Our McRib starts with ground pork…." Starts? So, apparently there is more to the McRib than just ground pork from the pork shoulder. Yes, there is. McDonald's continues:

A little salt, water and dextrose (a type of sugar made from corn), are added to help the patty maintain its McRib shape and preserve its flavor. Finally, we add a small amount of preservatives — BHA, Propyl Gallate and Citric Acid, which help maintain taste.

The scary things about this statement are how it throws around words like "flavor" and "taste" as if they apply to the McRib. Having personally "tasted" the "flavor" of the McRib, I'm not sure that these concepts actually exist. 

The important thing that these added ingredients really do is "help the patty maintain its McRib shape." Because isn't the fact that it's shaped like a rib the most important thing about a McRib? Without its "McRib shape" it's just another slab of pork shoulder and preservatives warmed up and slapped on a bun.

The McRib sounds like it should be good. Ribs, slathered in tasty barbecue sauce and made into a sandwich? It sounds great! Unfortunately, they are not ribs, and the barbecue sauce is not tasty. I'm not even sure it qualifies as food. I don't understand why, after trying it once, anyone would ever attempt to eat another McRib.

Maybe we just need to get the word out: It's not really a McRib, it's a McShoulder. Because I don't think we'd ever see a McDonald's sign loudly proclaiming: "McShoulder Is Back!"

Edited from a post originally published on 9/22/2015.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Santa Claus Pooped In Our Yard (And Other Truths I've Learned from My Kids)

The other day I walked outside with my three year-old son. He stepped onto the grass, turned to me, and said, "Santa Claus pooped in the yard." I laughed at the image of a jolly man in a red felt suit stopping to drop some personal fertilizer on our lawn, but I knew immediately what my son was trying to say. There are deer who occasionally wander through our yard (they really like the peach tree), and they sometimes leave little piles of poop pellets. My son saw the deer poop and attributed it to Santa.

I didn't feel the need to correct him, but apparently his older brother and/or sister must have, because later in the evening the three year-old reported to my wife that, "Santa's unicorns pooped in our yard."

When in doubt, blame Santa.

Kids know things. And, sometimes kids think they know things. They will hold as facts things that they have been told, things they think they have been told, things they hear, things they sort of half hear, things one of their older siblings may or may not have said, and/or things they make up on their own, but decide should be true. (After all, what's really the difference between a unicorn and a reindeer, anyway?)

Here are a few of the "facts" I've learned from my kids:

*English muffins should really be called "French Toast Bagels."

*"Mermaids don't fart." My older daughter stated this one day, very matter-of-factly. We weren't talking about mermaids. We weren't talking about farts. Why she believes this and/or why she brought it up, I may never know.

*My younger daughter has declared that beef is, "dead cow chicken."

*A better name for ketchup is "tomato mustard."

We'll need to pick up some Tomato Mustard the next time we go to the store.

*My younger daughter once told me, "When you have bad breath, you talk louder." I'm not sure if she meant me, specifically, or everyone in general. Either way, I probably shouldn't yell so much.

*When a toilet in a public restroom flushes automatically because of a motion sensor, she says it has an, "audio flusher." (In her defense, they are rather loud.)

*My older son thinks that the big "G" in the middle of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin stands for "Geico."

*And, according to my younger daughter, we celebrate Easter because, "Jesus didn't want to become a ghost."

Kids know a lot of things. Maybe I should pay attention.

Friday, October 11, 2019

I'm Mr. Important

Let me just state the obvious right here at the start: I'm more important than you. I really shouldn't have to say it. I mean, I'm me and you're you; of course I'm more important.

We have rules for a reason, and that reason is to keep people like you in check. The rules apply to everyone except me, because I'm too important to follow the rules.

Don't scratch my mini-van!
I'm going to park wherever I want. Those yellow lines painted on the ground don't mean anything to me. (Well, except for when I park on top of those lines and take up two spots to make sure no one scratches or dings my car.) Handicapped parking? There's never enough really handicapped people to fill all those spots, so I might as well use them. Fire zone? When's the last time you saw a fire at a store? Of course I can park there.

As far as I know those yellow lines were painted there as someone's abstract art project.
The carpool lane is for vehicles with two or more people in them. Or for me. (Because I'm more important than you.) Don't cross the double white lines? Good advice...unless it's convenient for me. Speed limits mean nothing to me. Are two lanes merging into one? Well, obviously I should be allowed to keep going forward until the last possible moment before I merge, crowding ahead of all you idiots who got over when the sign told you to.

I don't wait in lines. Ever. I'm far too important for that!

I'm glad you people shut off your phones before the start of the movie. But, I'm not going to shut mine off. How will I know when I get a call if I turn my phone off? Besides, I might want to check the scores or play a game if the movie gets boring. Can't do that with my phone off!

20 items or less? Who's got time to count? If it's the shortest line, that's where I'm going.

No, I'm not going to clear my tray and throw away my garbage at the fast food restaurant, I'll just leave it sitting on the table. And no, I'm not going to push my shopping cart to the return area, I'll just leave it by where I parked. They have people they pay to do those kind of things. Why should I bother to do it?
Oh, paid servant! Come fetch my cart for me!

Yes, I'm more important than you. I'm not sure how I can put it in a way that will make sense to you. Maybe if you pretended every day was your birthday you might understand. But probably not, because I'm way more important than your birthday.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/13/2017.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

How To Get All the Laundry Done (In Less Than a Week!)

As it stands right now, I am a stay at home dad. I have a wife, who is a junior high math teacher, and four children. Including me, that's a total of six people. (I was able to do that math all on my own, without the help of my wife.) While I'm staying at home, I do the laundry. I wash all the clothes for all six members of our household.

I do the laundry once a week, and sometimes I'm actually done with the laundry before I have to start on the laundry again. Some of you might find that statement a bit confusing, but if you've ever done the laundry for an entire family, you know exactly what I mean.

Recently, I decided to keep track of one week's cycle of laundry to see how exactly it went. Here is that laundry log:

Wednesday, DAY 1:
11:11 AM--Start gathering the dirty laundry to sort it into loads. (Whites, darks, brights, delicates, etc.)
11:14 AM--Actually begin sorting laundry.
11:23 AM--Put first load (LOAD 1) into washing machine. (HINT: If you put the first load in while you still have sorting to do, you'll get a headstart on getting all the loads through the washer and dryer.)
11:29 AM--While gathering dirty clothes hampers from around the house, pick up clothes strewn about the floor of the girls' room.
11:32 AM--While sorting clothes, continually have to separate underwear from the pants that they were worn with. (Surprisingly, this again is more of a problem with the girls than it is with the boys.)
11:37 AM--Finish the sorting of the dirty laundry. Counting the load that's already in the washer, there are a total of 7 loads of laundry.
11:39 AM--Take all of the separated baskets of dirty laundry downstairs to the laundry room.

Some of the laundry.
12:56 PM--Take LOAD 1 out of the washer and move some of it to the dryer. Put LOAD 2, which is the load of delicates, into the washer.
12:57 PM--Take my wife's shirts, which were part of LOAD 1, and hang them on the in-house drying rack.
2:20 PM--Take LOAD 2, full of delicates, out of the washer. Put LOAD 3 into the washer. (LOAD 1 is still drying.)
2:21 PM--Hang the delicates from LOAD 2 on the in-house drying rack.
5:17 PM--Remove LOAD 1 from the dryer. Move LOAD 3 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 4 into the washer.
9:43 PM--Remove LOAD 3 from the dryer. Move LOAD 4 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 5 in the washer. [NOTE: The large interval of time between putting LOAD 3 into the dryer and removing LOAD 3 from the dryer is due to a variety of factors, including a) length of time for dryer to get a load dry, and B) being distracted by kids and life in general.]

Thursday, DAY 2:
6:24 AM--Remove LOAD 4 from the dryer. Move LOAD 5 from the washer to the dryer.
6:53 AM--After showering, put LOAD 6 in the washer. (Didn't want the washer running while I showered.)
8:40 AM--Check dryer. Clothes not yet dry. Set it for another hour.
9:54 AM--Remove LOAD 5 from the dryer. Move LOAD 6 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 7 in the washer.
12:50 PM--Remove LOAD 6 from the dryer. Move LOAD 7 from the washer to the dryer.
1:01 PM--Put surprise LOAD 8 (towels) in the washer.
2:52 PM--Check dryer. Clothes not yet dry. Set it for another thirty minutes.
3:24 PM--Remove LOAD 7 from dryer. Move LOAD 8 from washer to dryer.
5:25 PM--Check dryer. Towels not yet dry. (Towels are never dry.) Set it for another hour.
7:05 PM--Check dryer. Towels are dry!!! Remove LOAD 8 from dryer. The laundry is DONE!!! (But no, it's not actually done.)

Friday, DAY 3:
6:41 AM--Go downstairs. Dig through baskets of clean laundry for clean underwear and socks to wear for the day.
6:42 AM--8:54 PM--Busy day with kids, school, and life in general. Totally forget about clean laundry waiting in baskets downstairs.
8:55 PM--Start separating clean laundry into seven baskets, one for each member of the household, plus one for towels and etc.
10:12 PM--Finish separating. Start sorting (pants, shirts, pajamas, etc.) and folding clothes in each persons' basket.
10:57 PM--Finish sorting all of the laundry to the point that it is ready to be put away. The laundry is DONE!!! (But no, it's not actually done.)

Saturday, DAY 4:
7:42 AM--Bring wife's clothes (including shirts from the in-house drying rack) upstairs for her to put away.
7:44 AM--Bring my own clothes upstairs. Put away the clothes in the closet and the dresser.
8:01 AM--Bring clothes for Thing 1 (oldest daughter) and Thing 2 (oldest son) upstairs. Tell them to put away their own darn clothes.
9:04 AM--Bring clothes for Thing 4 (youngest son) upstairs and put them away myself.
9:16 AM--It's Saturday. We've got a busy day and things to do. Don't think about laundry.

Sunday, DAY 5:
7:29 AM--Thing 4 has peed through his diaper, all over his pajamas, sheets, blanket, and pillow case. Throw emergency LOAD 9 into the washer.
12:11 PM--Move LOAD 9 from the washer to the dryer.
2:50 PM--Remove LOAD 9 from the dryer.
8:13 PM--Put away LOAD 9, making Thing 4's bed so he can sleep with his favorite blanket.

Monday, DAY 6:
9:08 AM--Realize that clean clothes for Thing 3 (youngest daughter) are still downstairs and need to be put away.
9:10 AM--Put away clothes for Thing 3.
The laundry is DONE!!!
(But no, it'll start back up again in a couple of days. The laundry is NEVER done.)