Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Those Safety Seals Are Out of Control

I just wanted to do the dishes. Okay, so I didn't want to do the dishes. The dishes needed to be done. I was not expecting to end up in a fight with the bottle of dishwasher soap additive.

I thought it was a pretty simple task. I loaded the dishwasher, and I got out a little pod of dishwasher soap to put into the machine. (Yes, the pods are similar to those Tide Pods people use for their clothes.) (No, I have never tried to eat one of the dishwasher soap pods. I'm not stupid.) (Yes, I am stupid. But I'm not that stupid.) (Yes, I keep the dishwasher soap pods out of reach of the children.) (No, I don't think they would try to eat them, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.)

Unfortunately, for our combination of dishwasher and hard water, we need to add a "dish detergent booster" in with the dishwasher soap pod, or our dishes end up with spots and hard water stains on them. I had finished off a bottle of the stuff on my previous load of dishes, so I needed to open a new bottle.

Lemi-Shine Dish Detergent Booster!
(It works...if you can actually get into the bottle.)

Easier said than done.

"Tear Here," it says.
The lid had some plastic all the way around it, making it impossible to open the bottle. There was a spot on the plastic which was labelled, "TEAR HERE." Unfortunately, there were no perforations at the "TEAR HERE" mark (or anywhere else along the top of the plastic), so it was difficult to tear at the "TEAR HERE" mark--or anywhere else.

I couldn't tear where it said, "TEAR HERE."
Since I was unable to tear anything at the "TEAR HERE" mark, I had to get out a pair of scissors and cut the top of the plastic near the "TEAR HERE" mark. Once the plastic was cut a little bit, I was able to tear the rest of the plastic covering off of the lid. I popped open the pouring spout on the top of the bottle, hoping to pour some of the product into the dishwasher. Nope! There was a seal under the lid. (I thought I was opening some dishwasher detergent additive. It had more seals than Sea World!)

Another seal.
In order to get to the seal that was under the lid, I first needed to remove the entire lid. I wasn't sure if it was a twist-off or a pop-off lid. I tried popping, but ended up twisting it off.

Take the lid off to get to the seal.
Once I got the lid off, it was time to remove the inner seal. Some seals have a pull tab on them to help you remove the seal. This one did not. Some seals have three little tabs around the edge which can be used to grab and pull the seal off. This one did not. It was just one solid seal.

Sealed for your protection. (And aggravation.)
Thankfully, there was a little bit of the seal hanging out over the edge of the bottle, just enough that I could get a grip on it with a pair of pliers and remove it.

Seal removal!
Once I got this seal off, I was worried there might be yet another seal to deal with. Nope! I could actually get to the product! Now, all I had to do was put the lid back on, open the pouring spout, and add my dish detergent additive to my dishwasher.

Ready to pour!
Yes, I was finally able to wash my dishes! And all I needed was a pair of scissors, a pair of pliers, and twenty minutes of my life that I'll never get back. But hey, it was worth it because I can do my dishes with the peace of mind of knowing that no one was able to tamper with my dish detergent additive.

Friday, February 22, 2019

8 Times We Can't Say "No" to Kids

As parents, we spend an awful lot of our time saying "no" to our kids.

"Can I have candy for breakfast?" "No."
"Can I get my nose pierced?" "No."
"Can I have a pony?" "No."
"Can I drive the Ferrari to school?" "No."
"Can I have $200?" "No."
"Can I give my brother a haircut?" "No."
"Can I put baby in a corner?" "No." (Nobody puts baby in a corner.)

You get the idea. Sometimes we get so conditioned to telling our kids "no" that we find ourselves shocked when they ask us something that we can actually say "yes" to. It doesn't happen often, but there are occasionally times when it's hard to say "no" to your kids.

Here are a few of those times:

1. "Can I have some more broccoli?" Sometimes it's hard to get the kids to eat their vegetables.They'd rather eat candy or chicken nuggets or cookies or fries or macaroni and cheese or candy or more candy. So, when they ask if they can have more of a vegetable, it's almost impossible to say "no." In fact, our girls love broccoli so much that we've actually said things like, "No more broccoli until you finish your chicken nuggets." But whenever we say something like that, it just feels wrong. More veggies? Sure!

2. "Can you read me a book?" We want smart kids. We want to instill in them a love of reading at a young age. So, when they ask if you can read them a book, it's hard to say "no." Even if you've read that very book to them 14 times in a row! Getting the little ones to love books is a good thing. (Of course, we might have done this too well. We have some kids who need to be reminded to put the books down and interact with the real world occasionally.)

You can never get them started too early on reading books!

3. "Can I have a bath?" If you have a child who volunteers to get and/or stay clean, by all means encourage that behavior!

4. "Can I please have ____(fill in the blank)___?" When your child is first learning how to talk, and they ask for something saying "please" (or "pwease"), how can you say "no?" You can't.

5. "Can you kiss it better?" Your child is in pain. They have an owie, but just one kiss from you can take away all their pain and make them feel better. Go ahead and pucker up!

6. "I need to go potty!" Every parent has had to clean up a child who has pee-peed or poo-pooed their pants. No parent ever wants to have to do that again. A child who says "I need to go potty" has an enormous amount of power.

7. "I need a hug." Hugs. Cuddles. Nuggles. These are all good things that should not be denied.

8. "Talk on the phone?" This one can go both ways. If you are on the phone with your parents and your child wants to talk to Grammy or PopPop, you let them. Also, if a child has a toy phone and wants you to talk on it, you will do so.

Because there are times when you just can't say "no" to your kids.

Edited from a post originally published on 2/24/2017.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Giant Junior Bacon Cheeseburger: Is It Giant or Junior?

I like cheeseburgers. I like bacon. I like bacon cheeseburgers.

I like bacon cheeseburgers of all sizes. I like regular bacon cheeseburgers. I like junior bacon cheeseburgers. I like double bacon cheeseburgers. I like triple bacon cheeseburgers. I like giant bacon cheeseburgers. Heck, I even like giant junior bacon cheeseburgers!

Hey! That looks pretty good! It looks pretty big, too. (It might even be a giant!)

Wait. What? Giant junior bacon cheeseburger? That makes absolutely no sense. Is it giant or is it junior? How can it be giant and junior at the same time? I'm very confused.

We have Wendy's to thank for this confusion. I heard an ad the other day for a Giant Junior Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's. When I heard the ad, I wondered if I heard it right. I looked it up online (because everything online is accurate.) Sure enough, my ears didn't deceive me. Wendy's is messing with my brain.

Yes, it's true--it's Giant Jr.
Wendy's used to be the simplest of the hamburger chains. Their burgers didn't have fancy names like "Big Mac," "Whopper," or "Quarter Pounder." The names were simple and descriptive: the Single, the Double, and the Triple. You could have them with cheese or without cheese. Ordering at Wendy's was easy. But then, they started adding things. The Baconator. The Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. Son of Baconator. The Double Stack (which is not to be confused with the Double--oddly enough the Double Stack is smaller than the Double, despite the fact that it is "stacked.") For crying out loud, right now they even have something called the "S'Awesome Bacon Cheeseburger Triple!!!" (I added the exclamation points. At 1,170 calories, I thought it merited at least three.)

So, having them call something a "Giant Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger" is about par for the course now at Wendy's. The problem is, when I went to Wendy's to order one, I had a hard time finding it on their menu. Why? Because I couldn't find the words "Giant Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger" anywhere.

It's the GIANT JBC!!!

Finally, I found it down in the bottom right corner of the menu. They called it a "GIANT JBC." Really? What the heck is a "JBC?" Does anyone call the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger a "JBC?" When I googled "JBC," two of the first things that came up were the "Journal of Biologogical Chemistry" and the "Jewish Book Council." Junior Bacon Cheeseburger didn't come up on any of the first ten pages of my google search.

Come on, Wendy's! You make very good burgers! Why can't you just give them names that people can understand? At this rate you're going to force me to eat my lunch at Taco Bell, where I can get myself a nice Grande Gordita Quesalupa.

Friday, February 15, 2019

I Am Sick (And Tired)

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Don't you think they should make things easier for sick people? Yes, they should. But, they don't. They definitely don't. (Who are the "they" that I'm speaking of? I'm not really sure, but I think "they" know who "they" are.)

I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I got sick a couple of weeks ago. It was the usual cold symptoms: runny nose, cough, fatigue, sore throat, general feeling of "blah." So, I did what millions of Americans do when they get sick: I whined to my wife.

But then, it was time to do something about it. So, it was off to the store to get some cold medicine. My main go-to medicine when I get sick is DayQuil. Almost. Because I am a cheapskate, instead of purchasing DayQuil, I bought the store brand generic equivalent.

DayQuil (and its store brand generic equivalent) comes in two forms: pill or liquid. I buy the liquid. The Wife makes fun of me because I won't try the pill form, but have you seen the size of those things? They say "size doesn't matter," but I tend to disagree. Those pills are huge! I've already got a sore throat, and they want me to force that giant orange pill down my gullet? That pill is the size of a Twinkie! My kids have toy footballs that are smaller than that pill!

Sticky orange goo.
No, I choose the liquid. I can at least get that down past my sore throat. Eventually.

Eventually? Yes, because first I have to get the package open. I attempted to open the store brand generic equivalent of DayQuil, but there was a plastic safety seal around the top of the bottle. I tried to take it off. There were perforations where I was supposed to be able to tear it off. I still couldn't. (Remember, at this point I am a sick and feeble person. The plastic was winning.)

So, I had to grab some fingernail clippers and use the file part to rip at the perforation until I was finally able to get the plastic safety seal off. I took the plastic dosage cup off of the top, then removed the lid to get to my liquid elixir, but, of course, there was another safety seal on the top of the bottle.

Sometimes the safety seals on the top of bottles have a large flap on top to make it easier to remove the seal. This one did not. Sometimes the safety seals on the top of bottles have three small flaps on the edge that make it slightly easier to remove the seal. This one did not.

So, I was left to use the file from my fingernail clippers again, this time to puncture the safety seal. Of course, then I had to dig into the bottle to grasp the seal so I could remove it from the top of the bottle. In order to get the seal out, I had to submerge my finger a bit into the medicine. (I don't think they recommend that.)

The only time I ever have trouble with the squeezy lid is when I'm sick--you know, when I actually need to get the darn thing open!

Finally, I could pour my store brand generic equivalent of DayQuil into the dosage cup that comes on the top of the bottle! So that's what I did. And that's when I learned why sometimes it's better to pay a bit more for the actual brand name. The dosage cup had a hole in the bottom of it, so as I poured out the medicine, sticky orange goop oozed all over my bathroom countertop. (I realize now that I probably cracked the dosage cup while struggling to get the first plastic seal off.)

And yes, while I was attempting to get some actual medicine in me, I was sick, tired and more than a bit cranky. And by the time I did get some medicine in me, I was sicker, more tired, and a whole lot crankier.

Unfortunately, two weeks later I was still sick, so I eventually ended up going to the doctor. He diagnosed bronchitis, and gave me a subscription prescription for an inhaler to use when I am having a coughing fit. So, I went to the pharmacy, picked up my subscription prescription, and brought it home. (And why is the pharmacy always at the back of the store? Just to make sure the sick people have to walk as far as possible?)

I had never used an inhaler before, so I needed to look at the instructions. I pulled the little paper with the instructions on it out of the box, unfolded it, and this is what I saw:

Yes, it is all in English! And so is the other side!

The "small" folded paper that came with the medicine was eight folds high and three folds wide. (That's 24 fold sections.) And, the other side was just as full of "important information." (That's 48 total fold sections!) And yes, it's all in English. I counted the words in one of the average fold sections, and there were 200 words. Multiply those 200 words by the 48 fold sections, and that's 9,600 total words!

My gosh, that's as many words as a Tom Clancy novel!!! Do they actually expect a sick person to read all of that before taking the medicine? Really!?! I'm sick, dagnabbit!!! I'm having coughing fits! I can barely focus, and they want me to read The Da Vinci Code?

I just wanted to figure out how to use the inhaler. And drink my sticky orange medicine goop. Why must they make it so hard?

Maybe it's a ploy by the pharmaceutical industry. They already have you sick, so they are trying to keep you sick so you will continue to purchase their medicines that you are unable to open and/or confused as to how to use properly. The longer they keep you sick, the more of their products you will buy.

It seems to be working. Because I'm still sick and tired. And I'm still sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Edited from a post originally published on 3/2/2015.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Kids Want to "Help"

I never thought anyone would want to watch me clean a toilet. But there I was, cleaning the toilet in front of an audience.

Who would want to watch someone clean a toilet? A janitorial supervisor? Cinderella's stepmother? That's about the list, or so you'd think--unless you have kids.

Yes, my two youngest children were mesmerized as I tried to scrub the toilet. They creeped up so close to look that I elbowed one of them on my scrubbing follow-through. "Please leave the room," I said. "Go play with your toys," I said. "Can I please just clean the toilet in peace?" I begged. No. And then, they started to nitpick my work. "You missed a spot right there, Daddy." I feel pretty confident when I say: no one wants to be heckled while they are cleaning the toilet!

Look, I'm glad that my kids love me. It's wonderful that they want to be close to me. I just wish that occasionally they could stay more than two inches away.

Of course, it's not just when I'm cleaning the toilet, it's when I try to do almost anything. When I sit down to write, they will often try to climb onto my lap--or into my laptop--"helping" me by hitting random keys. (Some might say their writing would be an improvement on my usual blather.)

Daddy, I think you should change that word to, "O&*%#$&Bm98Y!"

Loading and unloading the dishwasher can also be an adventure. "Daddy, I want to help," they'll say. It's very sweet, until they drop a plate and it shatters all over the floor! (That hasn't happened, but it is my fear every time they "help" with the dishes.)

"Helping" me do the laundry by slamming my arm in the hamper.
Cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, shoveling snow--all of these things are made more difficult when the kids try to "help."Yes, I realize that they have to learn somehow. They'll never know how to do these things unless I let them hinder me by "helping." It's just that I don't like doing most of those things, so I want to do them as quickly as I can, and that usually means doing them by myself.

The irony, of course, is that once they are finally capable enough to actually help, they won't want to anymore. At that point I'll be having to order, beg, and cajole them to get anything done. It'll take me as much or more effort to get them to do something as it would take for me to do it myself (with or without their "help.")

But, at least at that point I'll be the one who gets to do the heckling!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Take a Toddler to Dinner!

Are you planning a dinner party? Do you want it to be memorable? Yes? Well then, I've got a very important tip for you: Make sure you invite a toddler (or two.) Why? Because toddlers make the best dinner guests!

Here are just a few of the fun, exciting, and memorable things you can experience if you invite some toddlers to your dinner party:

*Who needs polite and interesting dinner conversation when you could be listening to a toddler scream "More boobies! More boobies!" over and over again? (And for added fun, don't explain to your dinner guests that when your toddler yells "boobies" what she really means is "blueberries.")

*Do you want to figure out which of your dinner guests are the smartest? It's certainly not the ones who choose to sit next to the toddler. (Unless, for some reason, they want to have food stains on their clothes.)

*Will any of your other dinner guests wear their plate as a hat, or comb their hair with a fork? Not likely.

You'll know for sure that the food was good when your dinner guest licks his plate!

*Is your favorite scene in the movie Animal House the food fight scene? You're in luck! Toddlers can fling food like you wouldn't believe!

*Do you want to see some of the most hard-line negotiating skills ever? It might go something like this:

ADULT: If you take one bite of this cheese, I'll give you a blueberry.
TODDLER: No! More boobies!
ADULT: But, you love cheese. I see you eat cheese all the time. You usually ask for cheese. If you just take one bite of cheese I'll give you a blueberry.
TODDLER: Noooooo!!! More boobies!!! More boobies!!!
ADULT: If you just touch the cheese I'll give you a blueberry.
TODDLER: Boobies!!! Boobies!!!
ADULT: I'm sorry, but I can't give you a blueberry unless you eat some cheese.
TODDLER: Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!! Boobies!!! Boobies!!! Boobies!!! Boobies!!! Boobies!!! Boo...
ADULT: Fine. Here, have a blueberry.
TODDLER: Boobies!!! (Smiles and eats the blueberry.)
ADULT: Now, will you eat some cheese?
TODDLER: More boobies! More boobies!

*Have you ever had someone poop in their chair at a dinner party? Invite a toddler and it'll probably happen.

*Would you like your dinner guests to fall asleep at the table? It's a toddler specialty!

Did she fall asleep because of the food or the conversation?

So, yes, if you want people to be talking about your dinner party for days (saying things like, "How did I get mashed potatoes on the back of my shirt?") be sure to invite a toddler.

Because toddlers make the best dinner guests!

Edited from a post originally published on 1/31/2017.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

I Want an Oversized Check!

We all have things we want to check off of our bucket lists. Maybe we want to go to Hawaii. Maybe  we want to write a novel. Maybe we want to climb Mt. Everest. Maybe we want to visit the Loo. [Editor's note: "Visit the loo" is another way of saying "go to the toilet." I think you mean visit the Louvre, which is the famous art museum in Paris, France.] (Writer's note: Hey, maybe I'd really rather visit the loo instead of some fancy art museum!) [Editor's note: I think visiting the loo is something you should be able to do any day. It shouldn't be on your bucket list.] (Writer's note: I used to work at a place where the loo literally was a bucket.) [Editor's note: I think you are getting off topic.]

Anyway, what I was going to say was that one of the things that's on my bucket list is that someday I want to get paid with an oversized check. You know, one of those big, giant novelty checks that they give to people who win the lottery or Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes.

It doesn't have to be a big check, but it needs to be a big check. What I mean is, it doesn't have to be a lot of money. Heck, I'd be happy with an oversized check for ten dollars, as long as it's so big that it takes two people to hold it up on a windy day.

That's a big check! (And it's also a big check.)
(This particular oversized check is available  here on  Amazon.com.)
I want a check so big that it's too big to take to the drive-thru window at the bank. I want a check so big I'll need to go into the lobby. I want a check so big it will confuse the bank teller, and she/he will have to bring in the bank manager to make sure it's okay to cash it. And the bank manager will act like they know what to do with it, even though she/he really won't have any idea what to do with it.

Why do I want a big check? I don't really know. Maybe because it looks like fun. Maybe because it will make me feel like a winner. Maybe because I'm a very odd person.

I can't really explain why, I just know that if I get paid via an oversized check, that's one thing I could check off of my bucket list. And then I can move to the next thing on my list: I want to go to the loo at the Louvre. [Editor's note: Yes, you are a very odd person.]

Friday, February 1, 2019

It's February: Let's Have a Water Fight!

It's February. Do you know what that means?

If your answer is, "It's time to get out the squirt guns and beach toys," you just might work for Walmart!

The temperature outside is in the 30s. (That's on the Fahrenheit scale, because, you know, 'Merica!) And while 36 degrees is much warmer than what they're dealing with in North Dakota right now, I'm still not thinking, "Hey, let's go to the beach!" Or, "I think we should have a water fight!" Or, "I wonder where I could purchase 42 different varieties of squirt guns?"

Weapons for a winter water war.
Valentine's Day is almost here, so obviously they should fill the store with squirt guns because what couple doesn't celebrate the most romantic day of the year with a big water fight?

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to having a big beach party to celebrate President's Day. (As long as they remember to plow the snow off of the beach parking lot.)

Retailers are so worried about staying ahead of their customers that sometimes they get a little too far ahead. Does anybody ever really think, "Hey, I might get to the beach on Memorial Day, so I'd better be sure to load up on beach toys the first week of February." 

The problem is, in order to make room for these far-flung future items, the stores clear the shelves of things you might actually want or need right now. Have you ever tried to buy a winter coat in the middle of winter? Good luck. If you need a coat in February, you better have a time machine that can take you back to October, because that's when they stopped selling winter coats. 

Gloves, mittens, scarves, snow shovels: all these things are extremely hard to find in a store in February. Why is that? Didn't they see that some rodent in Pennsylvania said we're going to have six more weeks of winter?

Oh well, there's not much I can do about it. I'd better just go ahead and get my summer supply of squirt guns and beach toys now, because before March rolls in they'll all be replaced with the "Back to School" supplies.

Edited from a post originally published on 2/7/2017.