A Plea For Transparency in Advertising

Panhandlers and bums are becoming more and more honest and trasparent. It’s become fashionable for them to display signs saying something like “Not gonna lie, I need beer”.

Why can’t businesses be more like today’s forward thinking beggars? I’d appreciate the honesty of a commercial stating “We really don’t care about your needs, we just want your money”?

Felix Krautbenschlasser

No one has been more ignored by history than Felix Krautbenschlasser, the inventor of the intermission. Felix never sought to give relief to sedentary opera goers. He was just looking for an excuse to leave boring shows without angering his wife, Hilda.

His first experiment came during a showing of Rigoletto when, during a lull in the singing he made a scene by crying out, “Oh, my thighs ache, I might have a clot!”

It was actually his only experiment because later that night he died from a pulmonary embolism. But after reading his obituary, people started taking breaks during shows.

From the Mouths of Babes

Said at home, it would have been funny. But when the little girl repeated her mother’s shopping list in the middle of Target, the mother was somewhat mortified.

I was in the right place and the right time to hear the exchange. The little girl was riding in the cart and holding the list. She said “Mommy, all we have left on the list is candy and alcohol”. I thought that was humorous enough but then the mother quickly responded while looking around furtively, “rubbing alcohol, it’s just rubbing alcohol”.

It’s funny how context and abbreviation can lead to misconceptions. It’s also funny how embarrased we can get on just the assumption of what other people might be thinking. I bet that mother writes more detailed lists now or just doesn’t let her kid hold them anymore.

Excruciating Circumstances

Yesterday I thought it would be funny to sneak up on my unsuspecting teenager and try to scare him. He had on an unzipped hoodie and had pulled the two sides of it up and over his head. Don’t ask why he was doing that. As I said in the first sentence, he’s a teenager. He had no idea I was behind him.

So I quickly wrapped my arms around his waist and said “gotcha”. Well, I scared him so well that he threw himself forward while my arms where still locked around his waist. That move pulled me forward and wrenched something in my back.

Since then I’ve been in terrible pain. It’s been hard to sit, hard to stand and moving is, hard. I’m so uncomfortable that I really didn’t want to to write this post. When my son heard me say this he responded “Just skip it today, you have excruciating circumstances”. 

He thought he was pretty clever with that one. Actually, I thought it was pretty clever too. So I decided to write through the pain and post this, just so I could use his phrase. 

Excruciating Circumstances

Five Book Friday #2

Once again I’m bringing you the fivebooks I’ve read or have been reading over the last week.

  1. The first one takes the reader on an 1800 mile walking trek throughout Central America. Walking the Americas by Levison Wood  is an enjoyable first person account of the still wild lands that make up Central America. From Mexico to Panama and finally ending up in Columbia, Wood and his friend find adventure and danger from both nature and their fellow man. This one wasn’t the most compelling page turner I’ve ever read but it had plenty to keep me interested.
  2. I like some of Woody Allen’s writing and maybe two of his movies. So when I saw Mere Anarchy on the shelf last week, I grabbed it to see if Allen was as funny as in Without Feathers. Once again there was a mix of laugh out loud funny material and pseudo high brow snarkiness. In all it was a quick fun read.
  3. Patrick O’Donnell brings a barrel full of first and second hand WWII spy stories in his book Operatives Spies and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of WWII’s OSS.  This book is basically a collection of anecdotes collected and combined in a generally chronological order. I enjoy learning about unknown or largely unsung characters from WWII. This book gave me just that. The OSS was a facinating group of facinating men and women who made a huge impact on the outcome of the war. If you’re interested in wartime espionage, this is the book for you.
  4. David Naimon‘s interviews with Ursula K. Le Guin were published in Conversations on Writing. This question and answer book covers writing fiction, poetry and non fiction from LeGuin’s perspective. It’s not at all a how to on writing but rather herr philisophical ideas of different types of writing. It was an interesting read but slow in many parts. I’ll admit, I skipped a few parts that didn’t interest me.
  5. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to exercise better and more efficiently as I grow older. That’s why I was ineterested when I found Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance by Jeff Bercovici on the new release shelf. Jeff travelled around to document breakthroughs in sports performance hacks and trends, talk to olympians about their training regimens and dig into health fads that promise too much.  I’m only about a quarter of the way through this one but will definitely finish it. I was especially interested in the chapter on a better way to think about conditioning. Many professional athletes like NFL players are plagued by injuries as early as the preseason. It could be that they simply don’t train smart and that they push themselves too hard too fast. Sometimes you have to slow down and actually work less to reduce your chances of injury and let your body stay fresh.

Invention 237: X-Ray Toothbrush

Kids hate getting x-rays when they go to the dentist. For that matter adults don’t usually care for it either. You have to have a big sharp piece of plastic shoved into your cheeks and then you’re told to sit in an uncomfortable chair and hold still while the hygienist runs and hides behind a lead wall. I mean, they’re hygienists, are they even qualified to use this kind of equipment?

So I got to thinking, what’s another situation where kids can have pieces of plastic shoved in their mouths where we could take x-rays without the uncomfortable chair? Then it hit me that the toothbrush is the perfect tool for this. I just have to figure out how to miniaturize a machine needing 10,000 volts to work. I’ll probably just make this a hard wired device which will require an electrician (or at least someone who kind of knows what they’re doing). I’m sure it will be very safe.

Every night this toothbrush will image your child’s teeth to check for cavities or hidden knives in their cheeks. As an added bonus your child gets a healthy dose of radiation which I once read in some random blog actually promotes stronger bones!

Just download the free app on your iPhone or Android and the images will be transferred directly to your device. You can then configure it to send updates straight to your kid’s dentist.

Each toothbrush is shipped with a lead lined parent smock.

A 10 Step Guide to a Horribly Inefficient Shopping Trip

Why would anyone want to make sure their shopping trip is inefficient, clumsy and painful? Why not? Don’t be stuck up and think you have to get in and out, only buy what’s on the list and get home quickly to take care of life’s other responsibilities. Whatever! How’s the store supposed to make any money if you don’t buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need?

So, what’s the most inefficient way to do your grocery shopping? Here’s a list of the top ten methods to ensure things don’t go your way:

  1. Go at the busiest time. This one is obvious so I thought I would get it out of the way first. The more people at the store the more crowded the isles. It’s a sure bet that every isle you turn down will be packed and you’ll quickly move on to the next one hoping it will be better. It won’t.
  2. Don’t make a list. Where’s your sense of adventure? Live a little. Don’t go prepared or you’ll be bored and will miss all of the great products that you don’t need or like but are such “great deals”.
  3. Shop at a store you’ve never been to. This way you’ll be totally unfamiliar with the layout or even the product offering. If you’re lucky, this might even cause you to have to go to a different store for the one item this one doesn’t have.
  4. Use a full size cart when a short cart or hand basket will do. The bulk of the cart will slow you down, make navigating isles more difficult and encourage you to buy more than you actually need.
  5. Use a short cart of hand basket when you know you need a full size cart. When your basket is full and you’ve only visited the deli, you’ll have to take the time to go get a bigger cart and transfer all of your items into it. You can also start with the smallest basket available and stair step your way up until you’ve reached what you actually need. See, isn’t this fun?
  6. Don’t ever ask for help finding things. That would be insane. Store clerks typically know where things are located. At the very least they would be able to point you in the general direction. But then you wouldn’t be able to waste ten minutes looking on the other side of the store where you think the item “should” be.
  7. At checkout, choose the longest line. Need I say more? Actually, I do have more to say. If you see a checkout line with only one person in it and every other line has ten, go to that line! The person is either arguing with a manager about being overcharged ten cents for a pineapple or they’re an extreme couponer who has crashed the register. Either way, this will be an excessively inefficient line.8.
  8. Wait in your long line until you’re the second person, then inconveniently forget to have bought a kumquat. Leave the line to go get it. Alternatively, if you have every item from the store in your cart, hop out of line and go to a closed lane muttering “this one looks much better”.
  9. Question the price of everything that’s scanned. Additionally, you can hand the store’s coupon book or ad to the clerk and ask them to find everything that will save you money. Even if the clerk refuses, you can probably spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about it.
  10. Finally, even if you’re a healthy 25 year old male buying only some bananas and bottled water, ask for assistance carrying your groceries to the car. The employee pressed into service to help you will almost assuredly move slowly and hold you up.

So there you have it, a ten step plan to have the most inefficient shopping trip possible. And here’s a bonus tip if you want to go pro. Wait until you’re just pulling into the garage before realizing you forgot the key ingredient for dinner tonight. Happy shopping!