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Tag Archives: technology

20 Pro Tip Life Hacks that will Literally Save Your Uninteresting Internet Dependent Life.

If this changed your life, is it really worth living?

If this changed your life, is it really worth living?

1. Remember the name of someone you just met by writing it down in an old tattered spiral notebook you keep folded in half longwise and hanging out of your back pocket. Bonus points for asking them to spell it and give country of origin.

2. Keep track of all of the cords around your computer or entertainment center by randomly unplugging them and looking to see what device won’t work. I can’t keep up with those little bread bag holders during the 10 days I have the loaf of bread, how am I supposed to avoid losing them long enough to build a cord labeling system?

3. Keep your car from running out of gas by looking at the fuel gauge and add more when the needle gets close to the E.

4. Look thinner in pictures by going on a diet and losing weight.

5. Use stuff like a paper clip or clothes pin or scotch tape or a chip clip or rolling tightly to keep your bag of chips from getting stale. Don’t use pant hangers, what are you some kind of freak?

6. Throw a Frisbee like….you know what? If you don’t already know how to throw a Frisbee, don’t bother trying now. There are some things you should just be able to figure out without the internet.

7. Make a grilled cheese the way your mom taught you and the way that has worked for a hundred years. Do you have any idea how hard it is going to be to clean the melted cheese out of your toaster, not to mention once you turn that thing on its side guess who has 3 years of crumbs to clean up?

8. Leave ketchup and mustard in the bottle they came in and set it out for a cookout. No one wants to scoop mustard out of your rusty old muffin pan and you know what is less than one dish to wash? No dish to wash.

9. There is a right way to put your daughter’s hair in a pony tail, dads, and it doesn’t involve the dirty hose from a vacuum cleaner. Stop being a stereotype.

10. Open a banana by pealing from the stem like a normal person. Stop making monkeys your life coach, monkeys don’t care if their banana is smashed but you have a shirt on.

11. Just turn your windshield wipers on low, there is no prize for spending your entire commute trying to lock in the perfect intermittent setting.

12. If you want extra ketchup grab another little paper ketchup cup. There is a stack of like a million right in front of you and they are free. Don’t hold up the line by unrolling the top of your little paper ketchup cup to hold 1/8 of an ounce more. What are you, a serial killer?

13. Use household cleaners to clean things around the house because vinegar smells like someone just peed on a pile of rotting fruit.

14. Get free on demand movies by calling your cable company when you finish watching it and telling them that your toddler did it by mistake, threaten to cancel your service if they don’t agree. (this one only works like 1 or 100 times depending on the direction of your moral compass).

15. Wear goggles when you are chopping an onion to keep from tearing up.  They also keep blood out of your eyes when you are chopping up people because what kind of psychotic freak cooks with goggles on, Dexter?

16. Use a crayon, brown marker, or furniture polish to cover scratches on wood. Or go out and find a place that will sell you a single walnut so you can try this thing you saw on the internet.

17. Keep milk from going bad by drinking all of it in a reasonable amount of time and never ever under any circumstances believe some nonsense on the internet that tells you to keep drinking milk past the expiration date. Gross.

18. Use a toilet paper roll for an iPhone speaker because that was the one decoration you were missing in your cubicle. Congratulations, you just became the weird guy people are afraid to talk to. Good luck dodging all of the ladies when you start rocking out to your toilet phone.

19. Instead of taking pictures of your friends holding the thing they are borrowing from you, get new friends that don’t try to steal your stuff.

20. Just pour your pancake batter out with a spoon or measuring cup. We don’t need it in a ketchup bottle. Stop creating fixes for things that aren’t broken. Have you ever tried to wash the inside of a ketchup bottle? Do you know how hard it is to pour pancake batter into a ketchup bottle? Just stop it, this wasn’t a problem or life struggle before the internet saved us from it.

 

 

 

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Loving Family Dynamic Postponed due to Inclement Weather

Sweet

Last night I was up until the early hours of the morning trapped in an anticipation fueled cycle of checking the weather app on my phone and stepping out onto the back porch to monitor the various forms of winter precipitation as they fell from the sky.

Is snow a body of water? Social media loves pictures of feet next to bodies of water.

Is snow a body of water? Social media loves pictures of feet next to bodies of water.

My days are numbered

My days are numbered

Even now in my thirties I can’t help but get excited about the prospect of a snow day.  I guess it should be prefaced that I am a born and raised Georgian and in Georgia, snow is magic.  When I was a kid, snow in Atlanta was like the universe just giving you an extra day.

A free day.  A magic 24 hour period inserted between, “Oh crap, I haven’t even started that book report yet” and “Please turn in your book reports.”  It meant your parents stayed home from work and played outside with you, it meant supplementing your not so winter wardrobe with bread bags on your feet and 3 pairs of socks because you had to wear tennis shoes in the snow, it meant hot chocolate and wet gloves hanging by the fire.  Snow days in Georgia are made of happy even when your mom makes you wear a pair of tube socks for gloves with sandwich baggies on top because why would you need to own ski gloves down south?  Snow days meant rummaging through the basement looking for anything that could be turned into a sled and playing until your hands were numb, your cheeks were red and you collapsed into the house one big freezing, soaking, pile of exhausted joy at the end of the day.

Weak

We’ve Lost that Lovin Feelin

Remember that time that our kids went to school?  I think it was called 2013 and it was neat.  I admit I went a bit overboard on the whole waxing poetic about the wonder of snow up there because the truth is, when a snow day overstays its welcome, the harsh reality sets in.  This is the part when you see what you are really made of, when the loving family dynamic gets put to the ultimate test.  Cabin Fever.

I admit using a pic from The Shining is a bit too obvious but some things are obvious because they are right.

I admit using a pic from The Shining is a bit too obvious but some things are obvious because they are right.

It starts out innocent enough; a board game, an extra snack, a glass of wine or beer a bit earlier in the day than usual, a sarcastic remark to your spouse, a snap at your kid for making a mess.  We don’t catch any of the warning signs because we don’t know how long we will be here.  Somewhere along the way the sanity rope feels like it is starting to fray a bit and the local weather man showing the snow in his area becomes some bizarre backdrop back drop to your family’s de-evolution.

In what feels like an instant you are turning a blind eye to your kid eating a bowl of “skittles cereal” and you are dreaming about that Amazon droid helicopter thing delivering a case of booze to your frozen snowy doorstep.  You become a bit numb to what your kids are up to as long as they keep it down and don’t get blood on anything as you settle into your own little wi-fi fueled haze.  Cycling through social media, weather apps, and random google searches, you are suddenly curious if the U.S. just invented  slopestyle  to pad our Olympic stats.  Eventually you start to wonder how long you have been sitting there.  When did I take a shower last?  Why are my children’s collective worldly possessions all in the living room?  Did I just eat this entire can of Pringles?  How long have I been wearing these pajama pants?  Is it still snowing?  No school again?  What day is it?  What year is it?  Netflix is the only one in this house that truly understands me.  How many lunches have we had today? Is there anything left my kids haven’t fought about?

Sound familiar?  You start organizing games like the nap game and the prize is whichever kid falls asleep first doesn’t get a spanking.  You gather the family around the table to work on a 1000 piece argument.  You start wondering if you should send the internet a Valentine’s day card.  You try to make the best of it by thinking of all of the great family memories the snow storm has provided but get interrupted because now that your kids have not played with every single toy that they have, they have resorted to taking breaks from fighting and crying to climb on stuff and jump off of furniture and you are pretty sure you need to find an ACE bandage so you can tie them up with it and MAKE IT STOP.

RIP Snowman, gunned down by the glorious thaw.

RIP Snowman, gunned down by the glorious thaw.

Being cooped up for days on end can push us right to that edge but somehow we hold on.  Sibling rivalry wears itself out and sleep gives us the short respite we so desperately need.  The thaw is coming and we just have to hang on and one day we will look back and only see the happy.  When you are in the moment though, cabin fever is completely weak.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Sweet

Racing the GPS 

image via garmin.com

The dashboard GPS has to be one of the greatest inventions ever.  I mean it is right up there with air conditioning and the baconator.  For one thing, if you have a GPS you never have to listen to your wife nag  suggest you stop and ask a stranger for directions (which might as well be the same as getting out of the car wearing a shirt that says: I am only 75% of the man you are).  This little device, though often frustrating , brings a certain calming quality to our marriage when I decide to take a short cut and dare veer off of the digital pink line of safety.  Sure, sometimes we follow our digital mate precisely and put an unhealthy amount of trust into it as we wind up cursing under our breath and turning around in vacant lots or wishing we were still on the paved road but all in all, it is pretty dang awesome.

I think that my favorite thing about our GPS is that on long drives it gives me a clear competitive objective.  When I am driving and using the GPS, all of the goals in my life boil down to one thing.  Beating the arrival time on the GPS.  It is almost embarrassing how much joy I derive from beating the GPS.  I say almost because the amount of awesome clearly outweighs any shame.  One of the great things about racing the GPS is that it re calibrates as you go so if you gain a minute, it will adjust giving you instant gratification.  I went on two separate business road trips this week and am happy to say that I beat the GPS each time.  There are a couple of ways that you can beat the GPS like catching green lights or light traffic, but the best way to win is by speeding.  I drive a lot, so as a byproduct I speed a lot.  I don’t mean driving reckless like a maniac but my cruise control is most comfortable at least 8 mph above the posted limit.  I don’t know why it is, but anytime I cross back into my home state I feel a sense of relief like the state troopers here will welcome me home as a favorite son and overlook my GPS racing.  This is stupid for several reasons, mostly because  I really only seem to get tickets in Georgia.

Driving can often be a long mundane tiring task, but beating the GPS can make it totally sweet.

 

Weak

If Only I had a Portable Infrared Sauna 

image via consumertraveler.com

Have you ever heard of a plane crashing because of an iphone?  Maybe missing the runway and landing in a river because of a Kindle?  No?  Funny, me either.  I know that in my house we have computers and cell phones and regular cordless phones and baby monitors all running at the same time with nary a glitch or disruption.  So here is the thing. I don’t think that safety has anything to do with the reason that we have to turn off all electronics before take-off and landing on a plane.  I think the real reason is Sky Mall.  Unless you bring your own material, the seat in front of you really only contains 2 pieces of reading material (assuming you don’t need to read the barf bag or evacuation instructions)  some boring airline magazine that really is just about restaurants in cities you aren’t on your way to, or Sky Mall.

Sky Mall has comandeered my attention more than once below 10,000 feet.  In fact, had I not read about it only a day before Mother’s Day, my wife may have been the proud owner of one of these:

Sit back and just say ahhhhh to in-home relaxation. Portable Infrared Sauna $399.99
image via Sky Mall

Something about flipping through Sky Mall makes me feel like I am severely lacking in iphone accessories, meerkat lawn statues, and pet car-seats.  Has anyone actually ordered anything from Sky Mall?  Perhaps a plush mini staircase for your little dog to climb up to your bed, or maybe packets of the first ever protein supplemented ketchup? I mean surely you are all getting your credit cards out to order one of these:

The Traveler’s Bed Bug Thwarting Sleeping Cocoon. $79.99
image via Sky Mall

You know, thanks to 20/20 and 60 minutes, that one may actually be a good idea.  I am sure there are folks out there that needed a bunion regulator or a generic Snuggie, I just doubt that Sky Mall is their retail destination.  Have you ever met anyone that works for Sky Mall?  Tell me that wouldn’t be the best job ever, getting to decide what makes it into the Christmas edition?  That actually may be my dream job.  I want to be in charge of all of the vendor’s submissions and test products in order to deem them worthy of mile high status.

Until then, I will continue to ask every flight attendant possible if they have ever seen one of these on an actual flight:

This person is able to sleep comfortably in any Seat! Can you say the same? Probably not, unless you have SkyRest. $29.95
image via Sky Mall

It looks like that guy is taking a restful snooze, but my guess would be that he passed out from exhaustion and light headedness after the 20 minutes it took to blow that thing up.  So far zero accounts of seeing one of these in person by any flight attendant I have ever asked.  I don’t know how much longer Sky Mall will be paying the airlines in order to gain a captive audience at the start and end of each flight, but until then I will participate in the flipping ritual and wonder if I need a hot dog toaster or one of those butler statue toilet paper holders.

It is funny to joke about after the fact but when you have to bring your chair to its upright position and lock your tray tables, the prospect of looking through a Sky Mall for the next 15 minutes is totally weak.

 


What is “Cook Until Done” Divided by 30 Seconds?

Sweet

Shortcuts 

Lots of people love quotes.  I see them in your status updates and on the signature lines of your emails.  I guess I am impressed that you are a big fan of Hemingway and Voltaire, or that you got one of those quote a day calendars for Christmas.  I like quotes too, it’s just that putting a quote at the bottom of my email and crediting it to “Billy Madison” is not quite as professional.  I am not saying that I am not well read, but my favorite thing about Dr. Seuss movies is that I can finally be one of those people who say “It wasn’t as good as the book.”  One of my favorite quotes is from a movie called Road Trip.  There are several great lines but the gem is this: “It’s supposed to be a challenge, it’s a shortcut! If it were easy it would just be the way.”

Man, I love shortcuts.  Getting off the beaten path and having a bit of an adventure, all in the name of saving 5 minutes.  I like making my gps have a seizure, and sometimes it has been a while since I have seen my wife’s eyes roll.  Taking an unannounced shortcut is sure to do both.  In a world that is so digitized and matter of fact, short cuts are one of the few treasure hunt type adventures that we can still relish in.  Is there really any greater brag as a man than to make great time because you took a shortcut?

It is true that they don’t always pan out.  I questioned my own sense of adventure (and direction) earlier this month as I lead my in-laws following in the car behind me on a short cut that ended up adding 20 minutes of drive time and included driving through a deluge of blinding rain on empty praying to find a gas station in a sea of farmland.

You have to be willing to work through the occasional setback, but finding a great shortcut and going on an adventure is totally sweet.

Weak

Thought this was Supposed to Save Time 

I have cleaned instant oatmeal out of a microwave at least a half-dozen times.  For some reason when you create an oatmeal volcano in the microwave at work, you can’t just leave it like you would do at home.  It isn’t because I can’t read or follow simple instructions but I like my instant oatmeal a little less al dente than the instructions call for.  Working with unfamiliar equipment that potentially includes industrial strength wattage (or whatever cooks stuff in a microwave), can lead to inconsistent results.

I get that the microwave is a huge time saver and everything but is anyone else out there a little intimidated?  I mean that thing has like 25 buttons on it.  There are a lot of numbers and levels but if I have anything that needs to cook longer than popcorn, I just hit the popcorn button and then the plus 30 seconds button over and over until I get to the desired time.

Speaking of, I made a frozen dinner not too long ago that told me I had to cook it for 6 minutes on medium, remove film, stir, and then put back in for another 4 minutes.  Listen, if I knew you were going to expect me to be Wolfgang Puck, I would have just made Swedish meatballs from scratch. Also, I looked and have no idea how to cook on “medium”  maybe that is just popcorn minus 30 seconds or something.

In case you were ever wondering, if someone in your office cooks fish in the microwave, you have to pop 3 bags of popcorn and throw it away just to get rid of the funk. I am grateful for technology and that I don’t have to stab a stick through it to cook my hot pocket over an open flame but microwave fails are  totally weak.

*If you read my last post you might be thinking ‘this guy writes about popcorn a lot”

(There isn’t really any joke there, I am just saying you might be thinking that.)


Finding Your Inner Strength

Sweet & Weak

Roughing it

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you have to dig deep inside to muster the strength to go on and overcome sudden hardship.  It is in those times, when situations look hopeless, that families can find a way to come together and triumph.  With gritty determination, teamwork, and good old fashion gumption, my family came out on top this morning smelling like vanilla.  That’s right, vanilla.  That is because this morning’s metaphorical Everest was a 5:55 power outage and we held on tight and reached the summit together by 6:30 thanks to flashlight apps on our phones and a cabinet filled with half burned scented candles.

I will not make light of it (horrible pun), it is a difficult thing to look into your child’s eyes and explain to her that “No sweetie, I can’t turn on a kid show while we finish getting ready.”  With holiday scents released from our flickering light sources wafting through our humble abode, my brave little girl found the strength to occupy her time by sitting in the dark playing Angry Birds on the iPad.  She was scared and didn’t understand why the sink would work but the lights were dead.  It is in moments like this that a parent can take advantage of a real learning opportunity and share a pint of ice cream with his little ones for breakfast, explaining what life was like for people long ago.

I was truly proud of the resourcefulness  exhibited this morning as we made the best of things.  Make-up was applied by candle light and moose and hairspray saved the day as the flat-iron lied impotent on the counter.  Lunches were packed and coffee was replaced with caffeinated soda (even if it was a hard pill to swallow realizing the refrigerator wouldn’t drop the ice directly into our cups and we had to scoop it out with our bare hands).  Our problem solving was at its zenith as we continued to find a way where there seemed to be no way.  Garage door openers were pushed out of habit and the fear of our cars being stuck was quickly washed away as we remembered to pull down on the red hangy down thing to open the garage manually.  In a stroke of luck we even knew where a key was to our house so we were able to lock up behind ourselves to hopefully protect our possessions once the inevitable looting began.

As we drove down the streets of our dark subdivision you couldn’t help but feel a sense of community as parents escorted their kids to the bus stops flashlights in hand.  Somehow we all managed to make it out alive.  It may have taken longer to update our statuses relying solely on 3G instead of wi-fi, but we did it and we learned a few things along the way.  I like to think that our forefathers would have been proud of us this morning for pulling up our bootstraps and exhibiting the kind of determination this great country was founded upon.  In fact, I could hardly wait to share our story of overcoming hardship and roughing it like a real pioneer as soon as I got to Starbucks.

Sometimes a morning that starts off pretty weak has a way of turning out sweet after all.


Time to Decorate the Christmas Branch

Sweet

I Think it is Leaning a Little to the Left.

There is no “real or fake” debate in my house when it comes to Christmas Trees.  I have had a real tree every Christmas of my life and have no plan to stop anytime soon.  I understand the convenience of only having to “put your tree together” but as for me and my house?  We will embrace the challenge of tackling the wild outdoors and domesticating a part of Mother Nature to put into our living room for a month.  I really love everything about the entire process;  from picking out the right one, to stringing the lights, to vacuuming up needles and scrubbing the sap off your hands with that grainy soap that hurts.

I can remember as a kid how going out to find a Christmas Tree was a huge part of the season for our family and we always had a real one.  Even during times when money was tight, dad would just kind of leave the house one afternoon with a bow saw and come back an hour later with a Christmas (ish) Tree.   I learned two great Christmas tree tips from my dad growing up.  The first being that the best time to pick out a Christmas Tree is on a cold rainy day in early December because you will have the pick of the lot and not have to compete with anyone else being there.  The second piece of advice (and one I have truly taken to heart) is that the only way you can be sure that you don’t end up with wasted space between the top of your Christmas tree and your ceiling is to start with something a smidge too big and work your way from there.  I am fortunate enough to have a house with vaulted ceilings in the living room now (because it was a strict selection criteria for this exact purpose) and I love filling that usually empty space with 12 feet of wilderness.  From the wrestle to get it up and straight, to finding the “front”, to being in your own real live vacuum commercial every day sucking up needles, having a (huge) live Christmas Tree is totally sweet.

P.S.

The title of this post is from a Christmas special I remember from childhood.  “Emmit Otter’s Jugband Christmas”  anyone else remember it?

Weak

I Just Saw that Thing the Other Day 

If any of you have any idea of where the remote to the TV in our bedroom is, any clues would be appreciated.  You see, around Tuesday of this week it went missing, and things just haven’t been the same since.  We have a likely suspect who enjoys picking up objects she can reach and carrying them around our house until she tires of the object and just drops it in whatever location she happens to be at the time.  The problem with this suspect is that she is impervious to my interrogation techniques.  Instead of being coerced to come clean with what she knows,  she just looks at me funny and mashes a handful of Cherios into her mouth, eating one and dropping the rest on the floor.  Then she smiles and talks some gibberish while I plead with her to tell me where she put it.

I hate losing anything and have an uncanny knack for knowing that I just saw something somewhere in our house and now have zero ability to link any images or clues together to remember where I saw it.  I wold venture to say that rarely a week goes by in my house without hearing at least one “I FOUND IT” being shouted from the basement or down the hall by the linen closet.  Sometimes we just accept that something is lost and know that it will turn up, other times we tear our house apart like our lives depend on it.  I hate to sound shallow here but losing a TV remote always results in the latter.  I honestly have no use for the television without the remote, to me it is like a bowl of cereal without any milk.

We are still looking for it, but thanks to the late Steve Jobs I am able to control my TV with an app on my phone so that is pretty clutch.  I am sure that we will find it eventually, tucked away in a shoe deep in a closet or mixed  in with a thousand other pieces of plastic in  her toy box.  Actually, those are two really good suggestions for places to look. sometimes I impress myself.  I guess until it does show up, we will continue to rough it like pioneers changing channels with our smart phones but not being able to control the volume.  Losing stuff is totally weak.


Vessels of Delicious

Totally Sweet:
Food used as dishes.
I am talking delicious broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl and fruit salad in a watermelon viking ship.  Nothing says a cleaned plate like no more plate at all.  Is there anything better than breaking off pieces of that taco salad tortilla bowl soaked in the residual awesomeness that has trickled to the base of your edible dish and infused its flavors into your once bland taco vessel?  The ice cream cone is probably the king of edible dishes and for good reason.  Sometimes I would rather scrape the towering two scoops off into a trash can and avoid the whole liking ice cream off of my elbows as it melts to enjoy the crunchy goodness of the cone.  But alas, the cone only reaches it’s apex of cuisine once the ice cream has had the time to settle and fill every nook and cranny. Food as a dish makes me happy.  Red bell peppers full of veggie dip, halved oranges full of sweet potato souffle, ground beef plates with hamburgers on top……wait.  Food as a dish gives you a subtle assurance that once you are done with the thing you are eating, you don’t have to be done eating.  That soup was good but this soup drenched bread bowl is the piece de resistance.
Weak:
Little flashing lights.
If I dream about space it is because once the last light in my house is turned out for the night my bedroom looks like mission control for a shuttle launch.  Two alarm clocks, multiple phone, ipad, camera, computer chargers, routers, monitors, etc.  The list goes on and my wife and I often are up in the middle of the night turning things to face away from us or folding squares of paper to cover the lights.  My favorite is hearing my wife ask “why did you move that chair?’  “What chair?  I ask.” The desk chair that blocks the light from that usb thingy hanging out of the computer, you moved the chair about 3 inches and now the light is flashing right in my eyes while I try to fall asleep!” I hate to complain because I love technology (like a lot) and our household enjoys lots of conveniences and entertainment that technology brings but Jeez Oh Pete tech companies, you can design something that puts everything in the entire world in my pocket but we still have to have a little blinking green light waking us up at night?

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