How to entertain yourself on an airplane.

I’ve have spend a few hours on an airplane. If “few” could be defined as more than a 1000. When the US Banks did their big-bail out in 2008, it dumped the world into a recession, BUT it also bumped my Business class privileges to Cattle class levels. We all know that sitting in a chair for eight hours becomes a bit tedious as there are only SO much one can do on a plane. And then you might even end up in an old model WITHOUT a screen on the seat in front of you!!

For those who want to live on the wild side I’ve taken the liberty of providing a list of things that will ensure your flight is extremely exciting. I have even ranked them for entertainment value and quick reference.

1. Wear a fat suit. It’s not that I have anything against fat people, but your average economy class seat has very specific, confined dimensions. Once your girth exceeds those dimensions, the result is an overspill of your skin/fat into the next seat. This excess body will rub and touch your fellow passenger for the duration of the flight. And if you’re really lucky you would have hit the jackpot with a middle seat. I rate this one a 7.

2. Get up mid-flight and inform the air hostess that the passenger on your left has a gun and is sweating anxiously. Tell her he has been mumbling some Arab prayer. Then stand back and watch a full-blown action movie unfold within seconds. The obvious risk would be that you might not get to your destination, miss your connecting flight and spend the next few nights in some jail. You will also have the wrath of 250 other passengers on your conscience. But then again, you only live once. Bonus points if you’re sitting next to an actual Arab looking dude. I rate this one an 9 for it takes some serious balls to try this. And with balls I mean nuts. And with nuts I mean, ah man you get the picture.

3. Consume copious amounts of garlic prior to boarding your flight. For more efficient results, do this the night before boarding, but then again, don’t expect any goodbyes from the wife on your way out the door. Remember when I say copious amounts I mean a shit load, enough to make your eyes burn. Add to that smelly feet, and you have a real winner. This is a much less adventurous option so I rate this one a 4. It’s 4 da wimps…

4. Talk non-stop and loud throughout the flight. About anything, about nothing. Just let your tongue do the work. (And for those grinning now, perve…) The trick is to continue talking even if the person you’re talking to puts on headphones and would obviously prefer being dead than listening to another word sprouting from your mind. Then you know you’ve succeeded. It’s mind-blowing to see normal people descend from friendliness, move past politeness, fly past irritation and rudeness and end up in full blown state of not even acknowledging your presence. Some people do it a lot faster than others, especially hearing about your cousin’s acne or your irregular bowl movements. Bonus points if you can dress-up and act like an old lady. Or a nun. I rate this one a 6.

5. Spill everything you drink on the same person throughout the flight. Do it with exaggerated motion whilst talking, or when you’re passing drinks, man anything. Find ingenious way to spill. Water, coffee, red wine! Please note that even the most feeble, soft spoken person will get pissed off with this, so you’re guaranteed to have a fist/palm in your face at some point. The fun is to see how quickly you would be able to feel knuckle skin on your teeth. I rate this on an 9, if only for the courage required for perfect execution.

6. On the flipside, drink excessive amounts of liquids to the point that your bladder feels like Mount Rushmore. Or like you’re about to give birth to quintuplets. Then get up. It would be really bad luck if all the lavatories are occupied when you need to go, but  it’s all part of the challenge, is it not? Once your back in your seat and feel ten gallons lighter, just start the process again. Ignore the frowning, condescending looks you will receive.  It’s all about the luck of the draw, but another bonus point if you got the window seat. This is a definite 7.

7. Fight for the arm rest like it’s the last thing you’ll ever be able to do. The confrontation will start as soon as you board the plane and shove your luggage in the compartment. You’ll have to buckle quickly and take your position. If you arrive at your designated row first, it’s easy, but the real challenge come when someone is already seated. Then you will need skill, to ensure success with a subtle, quick, sneaky move. It’s about displaying dominance early on. And not the black leather, whip-carrying type, just big man-little man type. Once you taste success, see whether you can maintain that position for the duration of the flight. Also another 7.

8. When the cabin lights goes off and the shades are pulled down for the “sleep sessions”, take your blanket pull it up to your chin, snuggle in the little pillow and close your eyes. After a few seconds flip your head to the side and make sure its falls on the shoulder of your fellow man. Make cuddling noises, then wait another second or two before you commence snoring. Full on sleep hypopnea-indusive snoring. Like Barbara Streisand with a nasal infection. Another 6.

9. Whilst watching your movie, lean over and take a few glimpses of the one the person is watching next to you. If you’ve seen the movie, motion for them to remove the headphones and then give a full blown movie review, dropping hints about the ending or any other plot twists that might ruin the said movie for them. If you haven’t seen it, then just lie, blatantly. You might have to duck after that conversation. Or change seats. Or receive some immediate medical attention. And you can always try to calm them down by ordering some wine, only to spill it once again for good measure. Another 8 because no guts, no glory.

10. Masturbate. While in your seat. Without a blanket. And see how quickly you get arrested. Or thrown off the plane. Or maybe you’ll receive some assistance. Who knows? When I was finishing off during my last inbound flight… Yes, I’m kidding. What do you take me for? An average male? This is my only 10 on the list. And rightly so, for it’s all about execution, and everyone needs a climax at the end of great post, don’t you agree?

So here is me wishing you all a very entertaining flight, the next time you travel by air.

For more insanity hop over to Ah Dad… where I try and entertain a lost world AND hope my kids read my ramblings one day.

How to take the perfect selfie

If you don’t know what a selfie is then there is no hope left for you in this world. So I’ll be jumping right in.

A good selfie requires that:

1. You need to be self-aware. Or have a nice face. Or at least, think you have a nice face. Or most probably just be delusional, obnoxious, vain and a self righteous prick/bitch. (depending on your gender).

2. You need to own a smart phone, preferably one that can flip the screen around so that you can see how to pull the most idiotic expression you can come up with, before capturing it for everyone to laugh at. And it needs to be a decent smart phone for nothing says: “I’m trying too hard” like a low resolution picture. And remember if all else fails you can even use a mirror, but please be aware of what might be lurking in the background, for as with most mirrors, it will be captured in the reflection. Oh and before I forget, remember to use a flash, for that might hide your face and protect you from serious ridicule.

3. You need to be on a social network. Sorry, let me rephrase that, you need to be on every social network known to man, alien and other semi-intelligent life-forms. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and what ever else may be out there at the moment. It’s all those places where the people who lost the ability to connect in ridiculous ways, like talking for example, hang out. You see you need to cast your selfie over the vast open spaces of the Internet, and in so doing you’re spreading happiness and joy, for everyone needs something to make them forget their troubles and break out in hysterics. Besides you’re also providing a service to parents like me, who now have an indexed album of examples, of people whom my kids are not allowed to bring home. Ever.

4. You need to be able to pout. Like when your eating a lemon after being stung by a bee on your lower lip. No scrap that, on both lips. Think Extreme pouting. Or just visit any mediocre celebrity’s Instagram page for a sample. You might as well wear a shirt that says “I’m cheap” when you don’t commit and give a mediocre, half-assed pout. Technically, pouting your lips is body language for I’m a whore, and I’ll do anything for I’m desperate and alone, but that’s just my interpretation.

5. If you don’t have that much of a face, and you know it, well first off, kudos’ to you! But please don’t let that stop you, just show some cleavage. Your rack will distract all attention from the ugly features of your face, so no one will even notice. Especially if you show some real inventive ways of showing off the twins i.e covered in hair or nothing. For guys, same rule apply. Show some pectoral muscles, and if you don’t have any…Well then…I don’t know.

6. Have long arms, the longer they are the better. The problem with a lot of selfies is that it’s either out of focus or it’s cropped showing one eye and some facial hair. And then there is the numerous photos of men… Take a moment and consider how much of your face will be in the shot. If you can’t fit the whole thing, then revert to the mirror technique. People don’t want to guess which idiot they are seeing, they want the full reveal.

7. And if you can’t do any of the above, well just take a picture of yourself doing something really amazing, like hanging on a door, showing off your ass, touching your lips or eating a hot dog. Because we can all do with a little inspiration.

And with that I’m done; but seriously:

If you want to post a photo of yourself, get someone to take the frigging photo for you, at a decent angle, with some consideration for composure and lighting. Then crop and edit. It’s that simple.

It remains one of the most ridiculous things on the Internet today, in my humble opinion. Well that and the fan page for Kanye West.

For more insanity hop over to Ah Dad… where I try an entertain a lost world and hope my kids read my ramblings on day.

How to Make a New Year’s Resolution

2013 is quickly coming to a close, and with it all your crushed dreams, mediocre sexcapades, Bieber retirement announcements and dashed hopes. But there’s a brand new year on the horizon, and now is the time to set up your list of resolutions.

Follow this advice to create the greatest resolution list known to man.

1. “I will lose weight”

Nearly everyone’s New Year’s list will include the phrase “I will lose weight.” And you will go to the supermarket that first week in January and buy celery and sawdust and maybe even that Jillian Michael’s exercise ball in the shape of her mouth, and then the celery will wilt, a bird will make a nest out of the sawdust, and you will be eating a stick of butter coated in nutella on top of a partially deflated exercise ball that has become part of your ass structure. A better resolution to make is “Eat less nutella” and then don’t quantify it at all because you can always eat less nutella than the population of the world.

2. “I will save more money”

The average person owes nearly $16,000 in credit card debt and $4,000 in Candy Crush Saga charms, which makes this resolution so tempting to make. Unfortunately wages are stagnating, inflation is increasing and the bitcoin is something I refuse to learn about. A better resolution to make is “If I see a penny, I will pick it up.”

3. “I will take my blog to the next level”

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a blogger, and you likely have dreams that one day, a publisher with more money than sense will see your blog out of the 453,072,981 other blogs and give you a book deal because this publisher can not get enough of your writing about your ingrown toenail that you’ve named Fredericko. But you know that expression–why pay for writing when you can get a cow for free?–there’s a reason why that expression is so popular. A better resolution to make is “I will take care of my ingrown toenail.”

4. “I will be nicer”

Let’s face it. Everyone is awful now. They have their eyeballs glued to screens so when you bump into them because you’re busy texting “whas up, dawg?” to your dog, this jackass doesn’t even mumble “sorry.” And his supermarket cart is right in the middle of the asile. Right in the middle! So no one can pass. I’m sorry, are you the King of the Supermarket? Am I suppose to grovel at your feet until you deign me worthy enough to pass? Unbelievable. A better resolution is “I will avoid all other humans.”

And that’s it! And by writing this, I was able to fulfill a 2013 resolution that I would write more for this blog. And then get that book deal. There’s still a few days, right?

How To Survive The Black Friday Shopping

AAAAAAAtttention, shooooppers!!!

Black Friday is upon us, shoppers!  Black Friday is war, Black Friday is hell, Black Friday is chills, thrills and occasional kills, and I, drill sergeant X, am here for the drills!  I am here to make lean, mean shopping machines out of your sorry just-browsing rookie asses!!

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Did I say something funny?? DID I SAY SOMETHING FUNNY, SHOPPER?!?!? Drop and give me twenty!  Now you look at this twenty-bill very carefully, shopper!! Do you want to save those twenty dollars?  DO YOU???  Do you want to save twenty dollars AND LIVE, shopper?? Then shut up and listen to what I have to say, unless you want your dead body to be found covered with packing peanuts and stuffed in a cardboard refrigerator box marked for in-store pickup for your family’s convenience!!!

Anyone here who’s weak and doesn’t feel they’re up to the task?  Anyone here who’s having second thoughts??  Anyone here with heart conditions, who’s trample-intolerant, or allergic to stab wounds???  If you as much as had to think about it, I’m gonna give you 20 seconds to pack your stuff and crawl back home to your wussy Amazon shopping – and I do mean Amazon, because even eBay’s online auctions would pose too much danger for you, weaklings!

Now, those of you who stayed… at ease, shoppers. I see a few scarred faces of seasoned Black Friday veterans, but I see newbies, too. Why do you need to shop, you ask? You need to do this for your country, shoppers. You need to buy stuff to support the economy – Chinese economy, Indian economy, Indonesian economy, all the world economies!  The fate of the entire world hangs in balance on your shoulders, shoppers! Remember what President George Bush said after 9/11 – by going shopping is how we shall defeat the terrorists.

Why on Black Friday, you ask?  Because this is the day when you get the most bang for your buck!  You’ll spend a buck and you’ll get banged up so hard in the process that your mama won’t recognize you!  But you follow my cues, shoppers, and you just might live to see the daylight on Saturday!

Rule Number one! Do NOT go shopping on Black Friday!  Yes, you heard me right, shopper!  You take your positions AT LEAST a week before, otherwise you might as well drag your asses back to your basement and try your luck next year!  You take positions right here in line in front of the store, yes, right here at the front lines, and you take advantage of the high ground – so no lounging up in the parking lot, you get your asses all the way up on the sidewalk!

Rule Number Two! You’ll need provisions, you’ll need supplies, you’ll need rifles and shotguns. They don’t call it “hunting for bargain” for nothin’!  You’ll need a tent. What? You DON’T own a tent, shopper? This means that you gonna have to buy one this Black Friday, so you could pitch a tent for the next Black Friday! Add that to your shopping list – and I better see it tattooed on your ass, shopper! Take your cell phone with you so that you could call for reinforcements, and don’t forget the phone charger cord, because you never know when you may have to strangle somebody to move up one spot in the line!

Rule Number Three! No matter what, you DO NOT give up your position, shopper!  Not rain, not wind, not fire are to deter you from completing your mission!!! But what about Thanksgiving, you ask? What about family, turkey, cranberry sauce cylinders, you say? Forget about it, shopper. Do you realize that Thanksgiving Day is a made-up holiday, and was invented by professional Black Friday shoppers who wanted to weed out as much competition as possible! A day to get together with people you try to avoid 364 days a year, and to eat a bird-shaped blob of tasteless chewy paste, that you would never in your right mind order at a restaurant?  You call THAT a holiday, shopper???

Target Store in Springfield, Virginia. Image i...

Engage your Target, shoppers!

Rule Number Four!  Preparation is half the battle! Prior to BF-Day, scour the target store, familiarize yourself with the floor (getting a job at the store can help), map the shortest route to the shelf you need to get from the door, and practice, practice, practice some more! Do practice runs from the entrance to the target shelf at least ten times a day, and time yourself each time, until you are satisfied.  Then run, run, run again, until you can get from the entrance to the shelf, then to the checkout, then clear out to the parking lot in under 15 seconds wearing a blindfold!!!

And keep one final thing in mind, shoppers: on Black Friday, all people fall into two categories: cashiers and obstacles!

Are you ready, shoppers?? Are you ready to crush and trample your fellow man to save five bucks?? Are you ready to wreak havoc and devastation in your path when the store doors open at precisely oh-two-hundred hours?? ARE? YOU?? READY???

Three! Two! One!  ATTAAAAAAAAACK!!!!

How to Reach the 21st Century Student

This post was quest-written by Darlin’, a not-at-all-disgruntled-teacher, from keyandarrow.com

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On the same degree to which my preteen students often leave me perplexed, they almost simultaneously make it all worth while, and I must take time to ponder the ways to reach these complex creatures.  What I have discovered thus far: 

Step 1:  It’s All in the Name.  Introduce yourself as Ms. or Mr. (Insert last name first initial here).  Anything longer than that will take too long to enter into their smart devices.  Plus, it’s more difficult for them to turn your last name into an insult; i.e., Ms. Wright is Ms. Wrong, Mr. Johnson’s Johnson, and Mrs. Brown makes me frown.  See?  Easy.

Step 2:  It’s All in the Presentation.  Begin class with a video.  Make sure they know how long the video is.  This is the only thing that matters.

Step 3:  What are We Doing?  It doesn’t matter if it’s written all over the whiteboard and your forehead, you must answer this question as soon as possible, or the 21st Century student will seem to mimic spontaneous combustion or what might be commonly mistaken as a seizure.

Step 4: No, We Are NOT Having a Free-Day.  But you are free to do whatever I ask you to do.  Completely free.

Step 5:  Yes, We Are Going to Have Fun Today.  Everything we do is fun.  You must get them to understand this.  Assess them quarterly over their mastery of this topic.

Step 6: Avoid Four-Letter Words. Like T-E-S-T, for example.  Instead, use words like “assessment” or “tell-me-how-much-smart-you-are-assignment.”  You must also announce the test tell-me-how-smart-you-are-assignment every five to ten minutes, perhaps with the aid of an old-fashioned megaphone, so they don’t accuse you of not telling them about it.  If not, the risk you are willing to take must outweigh speaking into a giant cone.

Step 7:  No, Your Parent Did NOT Forget Your Homework.

Step 8: If All Else Fails, Tap Dance??

Step 9: Tangents.  They are way too skilled at this for their own good.  You must develop a thick skin, even if they ask you to describe the careful process you took to ensure the pie you baked last night for your book club in which nobody there seemed interested in how many hours you worked to get the crust just right and the tartness just tart enough but not too tart because all they cared about was “was there enough wine?”  No, not even that.

Step 10: If at All Possible, Allow Smart Devices.  It doesn’t matter how boring the assignment, it just got ten times better because you allowed them to peck at tiny keys.

Step 11. Birthday Parties Are More Important Than Your Homework Assignment.  Don’t be hard on them for this; your students may not include “priorities” in their vocabulary.   However, don’t bother them by asking them to look it up in the dictionary; “dictionary” is not in their vocabulary.  According to them, dictionaries date back to the Cretaceous period.  Instead, repeat the following helpful phrase, “GOOGLE the word, “p-r-i-o-r-i-t-y.”

Step 12:  I Lost it Sometimes Means I Don’t Plan on Looking For It.  Make friends with the copying machine.  Though, I’m warning you, she’s a beast.

Step 13:  One Direction is Your Favorite Band, Too.  Don’t know who they are?  Just say it.  You’ll thank me later.

Warning: Listen at your own risk.

Step 14:  Relate Everything to Pop Culture.  Peruse the following examples for guidance:

Language Arts Lesson: Avoid fragments in your writing, or you’ll appear as though missing an essential like that Miley Cyrus.  Math Lesson: One was recently divorced, and one recently had a child.  How many Kardashians do you have?

Step 15: Don’t Underestimate Them.  They might just create your next frustrating iPhone update.

In Jest,

Ms. W.

How To Win Or At Least End An Argument Part 1: Some Simple Techniques

Guest posting monster Dr Frood is not a real doctor, but he is a real boy. He resides in the darkest dungeon of the internet and is prone to exaggeration and lies.

In honour of the latest twists and turns in the soap opera we used to call American politics, it’s worth brushing up on your own powers of argument and persuasion. In the coming weeks, this lecture series will demonstrate the methods for winning or at least ending arguments using science.

This lecture series will avoid jargon like ‘straw man’ or ‘ad hominem logical fallacy’ except where it doesn’t, because such language doesn’t get you laid.

We’ll start things off lightly with some simple techniques appropriate for any occasion, be it pub, children’s party or board meeting.

Understand Your Opponent’s Jargon

Debating jargon like ‘cognitive dissonance’ et al should be avoided at all costs because you have some self-respect. Likewise anything that looks, smells or tastes like Latin, such as ‘et al’. But you need to understand jargon so that you can properly call your opponent a pompous douchebag when they use it.

There are many formal and informal logical fallacies, but here are some of the more common ones:

Ad hominem: if he or she calls you a twat, that’s ad hominem – it’s not about the merits or otherwise of your argument(s), but all about you personally. Example: ‘Obama was born in Kenya.’

Straw man: an argument that is misrepresented by your opponent as superficially similar to the one you actually made, but which crucially is indefensible. Example: “it’s necessary to balance civil rights and the state’s powers of intrusion.” “So what you’re saying is that you want the terrorists to win.”

False dichotomy: an apparent choice between two options, that actually isn’t. A common example would be freedom of the individual vs security of the people, but we’ve already used that one. Example: you have a choice between a burger or a pie. But the menu says that you can have a pie filled with burgers. Or lasagne.

Confirmation bias: we actually all do this so it’s good to be aware of it. Your brain retains things that reinforce your bias and edits out contradictory evidence. Example: I think that people who call themselves ‘spiritual but not religious’ are wankers – every time I meet a wanker who calls him-or-herself spiritual, that impression is reinforced. There are many otherwise lovely people who also describe themselves in such terms, but I can’t recall ever having met a single one, even if I have lived with one or two of them over the years.

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That’s enough of all that. Let’s get on with winning.

Use Jargon To Your Advantage

At some point one of you will become even more pretentious than I am. If your opponent reaches this point first, say something like ‘I’ll see your straw man and raise you an ad hominem: you’re a dickhead.’

This is an exception to the ‘no jargon’ rule because technically you’re being funny, which good-natured liars claim makes you attractive.

Use Your Words

At some point in the argument you will experience a sinking feeling, a gut realisation that your opponent is more clued-up on the subject at hand, be it who was a better space captain: Kirk or Picard, or why you should do the washing up more often.

You will find that the tide is turning against you. But at this point it is important to keep your head and use your words. It doesn’t matter that he or she can reel off statistics that prove that actually the Eurozone isn’t the UK’s biggest political and economic concern; or that he or she has taken the bins out every week for the past seven months and it’s your turn.

All you have to do is say the following:

“Ah, well now you’re talking semantics.”

Because no one actually quite knows what that word means or even if it’s a bad thing to do. Crucially, they won’t want you to know that they don’t know that a word you’re pretending to know is not in fact a word that either of you knows. Win.

Use Your Words Part 2

But say that your opponent has deployed the ‘semantics’ argument. You’re not sure how to react. Here’s what you say:

“No I’m not.”

Ball. Back. In. Your. Face. Loser.

Win.

Introduce A New Element

Men who’ve been married for a long time will know that this comes instinctively to wives.

You think you’re fighting about whose responsibility it was to buy more fabric softener, and out of nowhere she sucker-punches you with ‘well I still can’t believe that you said what you did to my aunt Sheila, you know how sensitive she is. And while we’re on the subject, would it kill you to put the toilet seat down once in a while?’ And boom, instant fluster.

Your opponent thinks you’re arguing about the merits of expanding the permanent security council of the UN, suddenly BAM! ‘Yeah, well camembert is just shit brie’.

Whoa, I just totally changed your perspective and stuff.

Use Your Fists

Pretty self-explanatory, and afterwards they’ll have quite forgotten whatever rapier-like point they were about to use to pierce through your entire argument and leave you looking like a small-minded bigot. Win.

The caveat here is that if your opponent is bigger than you, or looks like a biter, you’ll probably get beaten to a pulp. On the plus side, this will mean that your opponent has lost his or her temper and therefore you’ve won by default. Win.

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The rest of this series will go into a lot more detail about a variety of options, including the invention of fictional experts and studies and the advantage of getting your opponent very, very drunk.

Next time: the proper use of the filibuster.

“How to Get a Camel into the Eye of a Needle”

How to get a camel through the eye of a needle is a very common question that isn’t often answered very effectively. Allow me to shed some light on the subject.

1. Visit the desert. You may want to make sure you have plenty of water and a cooler full of ice so that you do not die of exhaustion or heat stroke. Be sure to bring a needle.

2. Visit a camel rental and rent a camel. Make sure the camel is well behaved and in good health. Be prepared for some spit.

3. Tie one end of a tether or rope to your camel, and the other end to the nearest cactus. You may want to purchase some thick gloves prior to doing so. This will prevent your hands from being mauled by the cactus.

4. Find your needle. This step is essential.

5. Prepare yourself for a mind-blowing experience.

6. Ensure that a distance of at least 25 yards is between you and the camel.

7. Hold the needle very close to your face, so that you can see through the hole in the top (otherwise known as the eye.).

8. Adjust the needle so that the camel appears to be inside of the eye. You did it! You got the camel into the eye of the needle.

9. Convince your traveling companions and any spectators that you are not insane. Good luck!

How To Go To The Bathroom In The Office

Many people work in an office or other workplaces where we have to share a bathroom with other people, and most people are usually potty-trained by the time we begin our careers. However, if you share an office bathroom with enough people, you’ll know that the question “how to go to the bathroom” is not as trivial as it seems.  Judging by the behavior of some of our coworkers, many of us don’t use the bathroom correctly.  Here are a few hints on how to go to the bathroom in the office properly.

Just because it says "rest" room, it doesn't mean you have to stop working.

Just because it says “rest room”, it doesn’t mean you have to stop working.

Use the time you spend in the bathroom stall to call in to a meeting or make a personal phone call.  You have more privacy there, because the walls of the stall are higher than the walls of your cubicle.  Always pick a bathroom for its cell phone reception because the rest of the stuff there is pretty standard.

Do not flush. Flushing wastes water, and you know how your company is committed to slashing costs. Also, a flushing noise can disturb your colleagues in the nearby stalls who might be in a meeting.

If you need to use the stall, don’t automatically assume that a closed door means that the stall is occupied. Shake the door a little bit. If the door doesn’t open, it still doesn’t mean it’s locked from inside – the door could just be stuck. Look under it. You may see the shoes on the floor, but once again, don’t make any assumptions, because someone could have just left their shoes there. Instead, jump up a few times until you can glance over the door and decisively verify that the stall is occupied.

If you are the one inside, the only way to prevent people from jumping over stall the door to look at you, is to call in to the meeting from inside the stall.

If you work in a place where the stalls are always occupied (for example, where Arby’s is the only lunch place within driving distance), and you are sure that your co-workers will never read this post, you can always designate your own personal stall by tightening the door and leaving a pair of old shoes on the floor.

Remember, when the money’s tight, the workplace bathroom is the place where you can stock up on some free toilet paper.

How to go to the ladies room. Do not go into the ladies room if you’re a guy. This may seem obvious, but in some offices this advice can be really tough to follow with the company’s tendency for constantly moving the bathrooms and for using really gender-neutral signs on the bathroom doors.

This is how the men's and women's bathroom door signs look at the office that requires all employees to wear business suits.

These are the signs on the men’s and ladies’ bathroom doors from the office that requires all employees to wear business attire. Men’s restroom is on the left – you can tell because there are urinals inside.

Unlike the ladies’ room, the men’s room has a designated area for having brief in-person business meetings.  Just head to the nearest urinal and wait for the person you need to talk to.  Scientific studies have shown that people are more likely to be honest with you when their pants are down.

To maintain professional appearance, do not go to the bathroom empty-handed. Print out an article from the internet (this post is a good choice) to read and carry it with you to the bathroom in a neat stack or a folder. Also, waiting to go to the bathroom until the last minute will give your face an extremely concerned and professional look, and add the sense of purpose to your walk.

If your office doesn’t care about professional appearances, bringing printed reading materials is still a good idea. You think you can just read anything from your smartphone, but let’s see how useful your iPhone will be when you belatedly find out that somebody just used your stall to stock up on the toilet paper.

And finally, don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands. That way, you can delay going back to the routine of your work.

How To Choose the Best Motel

This post first appeared on The Monkey Bellhop

motelcaliflower

 

Hello friends.  If you’re like me, you live for family road trips.  If you’re not, don’t read any further and go do something productive.  I’m the last guy to want to force you to stick around and read about something that you couldn’t give two hoots about.  I’m not being magnanimous here, I’d just expect you to do the same thing for me when you write about something on your blog that’s of no interest like “The Art of Blacksmithing is Alive and Well in Skokie, IL!” or “I Went to the Mall. It’s Crazy There!”.

Road Trips

There is nothing more rewarding or adventurous than a planned or spontaneous road trip. The exhilaration and feeling of excitement you get simply by locking up the house and yelling across the street to the neighbor you get along with that you won’t be back this way again for a few days, maybe more!  The opportunity to dust off some old organizational skills and call upon every working cell in your brain to successfully fill your car with your spouse, children, suitcases, duffel and sleeping bags, beloved pillows, stuffed animals, coolers and 275 pounds of iPods, iPhones, iPads, computers, navigation equipment, cameras, headphones and charging chords — all while leaving a postcard size space in the center of the rear windshield so you can identify whether the driver who is tailgating you is a headcase or not and whether or not you can safely give him “the look” the moment before he hurtles past you.

And of course, the steel will and determination required to not leap from the vehicle you are driving at 72 miles an hour when, 15 minutes in,  everyone begins arguing about when, where and what kind of food they will or will not eat and what type of motel they will or will not stay at for the night.

I’ve stayed in hundreds of motels across this great nation of ours, from smog encrusted California to the pristine, oil sheeny banks of the mighty Arthur Kill in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  From the Pat O’Brien’s tourist trapped, sticky red Hurricane rum soaked streets of the New Orleans French Quarter to the pristine, oil sheeny banks of the mighty Arthur Kill in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  From the Canadian owned and operated, how could they possibly be that friendly, I bet they say sarcastic things about me when my back is turned, jagged and slippery rocked Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, to the pristine, oil sheeny banks of the mighty Arthur Kill in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  Yes, I always return to NJ.  It’s not because I love it.  It’s because I’m on probation.

Why Motels?

On long trips of 500 miles or more, the need to spend a night at a motel often arises. When I travel long distances by car, outside of knowing the ultimate destination, I don’t always plan ahead.   I like managing my vacations the same way I manage my life and as far as I know, it’s sort of worked out very well.  Depending on who you ask.  Do me a favor and don’t reach out to anyone direct.  If you’re that interested, I’ll get you a list.

Selecting the right motel is never easy as the motel industry, as a rule,  has its share of nebulous characters and nefarious practices.   Or is it nefarious characters and nebulous practices?  I don’t have time to look it up.  My wife has decided we need to get the house in order today and I’m already in trouble as it is.  Anyway, while you sleep — scratch that.  While you toss and turn at night or feign sleep so you can ignore the tossing and turning and complaints of your loved ones, the motel industry plots and schemes against you.  If there was such a thing as reincarnation, and such a thing as karma, and such a thing as the entire motel industry dying and being reincarnated, it would come back as a Venus Flytrap.  Most likely a national, loosely affiliated chain of Venus Flytraps.

What to Watch For and Consider When Selecting a Motel For the Night

On road journeys, there are two types of motel “environments”.   You have what I refer to as the “Major Chain” clusters that exist in larger towns and cities and are located directly off the highway exit — your Holiday Inn Expresses, Hilton Garden Inns, Marriot Courtyard Suites, Comfort Inns, etc.  They are often situated conveniently near six or seven major chain restaurants and two you never heard of but will check out to see if there is any local charm before heading over to Ruby Tuesdays.

The other motel environment is what I refer to as the “OK, I’m Getting Off At the Next Exit” category, situated in the, “For the love of God, the kids and I need to eat something and get some sleep!” part of the country which is two towns past all the major chains you flew past in spite of the whimpering and begging of your family.   Generally, these motels are located on the outskirts of unincorporated townships where people who have faked their own deaths for the insurance money live.

Since this is not a large market area, these motels are often unaffiliated with major chains but will give themselves names that sound vaguely familiar and reputable like “Motel 6 1/2″, “Hollandaise Inn”, “Marionette Motel Suites” or “Hitler Garden Inn”.  If you end up staying in a motel in this environment, whatever happens is as much your fault as the motel’s.

Restaurants in the “OK, I’m Getting Off At the Next Exit” category are practically nonexistent so I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of “Zagat’s 2013 Vending Machine Ratings Guide” before padding down the hall and deciding whether or not to spring for a microwavable cheesesteak sandwich with a picture of Artie Shaw on the label.

To be fair, the opportunity, though slim, exists that you may stumble upon a quaint, charming, independently owned motel in a remote corner of the world which is operated by a kindly, conscientious caretaker who has never stood in a lineup or spent weekends waiting on top of a large hill, mountain or garage roof to be picked up by extraterrestrials.   Regardless, always keep your wits about you when assessing motel options.  Legions of crafty proprietors across tourist trap communities all over America have learned that an enticing sign, facade and check-in area are the only investment needed to convince weary and road worn guests to sign on the dotted line.

It is only after, upon entering their rooms while pondering the limitless depths of their exhaustion and anticipating the good night’s sleep that will restore them in the morning, that the guests realize they have have agreed to pay $119.99 plus state, local, special occupancy, tourism and variable sundry taxes to spend the next eight hours in a room so sketchy, the Joads would have walked out to spend the night in their truck.

After years of staying in bad motels, I have assembled a list of experiences to remind me to look around and ask questions up front before deciding to check in or not.   I hope this list will help you as well:

How to Tell You Are In A Bad Motel:

  1. The night clerk is also the day clerk
  2. The majority of the signatures in the guest book are signed with an X
  3. When you turn on the television all the programs are in Kinescope
  4. The shampoo and conditioner comes in soy sauce sized packets
  5. The water pressure in the shower is so low, there’s no need to dry your back when you get out
  6. When the towel you wrapped around your waist brushes against the dresser two coats of varnish rub off
  7. A sign on the air conditioner warns that if you turn it up to “high”, you must inform the front desk first and sleep under a table or doorway
  8. The desk clerk comes to your room for coffee
  9. When you hear the couple in the next room moaning and banging the bed against the wall, it’s because they’re scratching themselves
  10. When you call the front desk, the clerk says, “We’ve already been made aware of the situation” before you have a chance to speak
  11. When you meet a fellow guest in the parking lot or reception area they ask. “How long are you in for?”
  12. You can hear your spouse or kids trying to fall asleep by repeating the mantra, “What ever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.
  13. You are visited by ghosts in the middle of the night and when they scream at you to get out, somehow you can just sense they are good ghosts
  14. The outdoor, in ground pool has a 1974 Dodge Dart “play station” at the bottom of it.
  15. You’re almost 100% certain that the brown eyes in the mounted moose head above your bed were blue the day before.

My recommendation is whenever possible, to always select a nationally recognized motel within a major chain cluster area.  While a four star hotel and an advanced dinner reservation will enhance your marriage and delight your children, and a night at a clean and pleasant Holiday Inn Express will neither hurt or harm the marriage as long as there is some sort of pool to delight your children, a terror filled night in a joint called Eddie’s Hideaway Inn with an empty pool and a beagle with one eye snarling up at you from the bottom of it can lead to a request for separate vacations right in the middle of the one you’re currently on.

Negotiating the Motel Rate

The cost of any motel room is always 10% lower than advertised or stated over the phone.  In order to receive the 10% reduction simply say the following, “Do you have a?”  Before you finish saying the word “Do”, the check-in clerk will drop the rate 10%.  My understanding is that the discount could be associated with AAA or AARP but I’ve never been asked to show a card or prove membership.  I believe affiliation with AAA or AARP really doesn’t matter anyway because the motel clerk always marks up the room tax by an additional 10% .  It is widely known that there are only three people in the United States who understand how the hotel/motel room tax is structured in the first place and the odds of you being one of them are slim to none.

Using Motel Pools

An indoor motel pool is always the highlight for most children and normally the requests to go for a swim begin at the same time the clerk is jacking up the room tax to offset your AAA or AARP discount.  I have found the experience to be a mixed bag, with some motels going all out with large pools, free towels, attractive lighting and life preservers that aren’t actually bolted to the wall, while others seem to have “phoned in” their indoor pools, providing tiny, vaguely vat like cavities situated in gray, dimly lit rooms and located at the rear of the building where there is often a view of the highway you wish you were back on at that very moment.

While the shape, size and atmosphere may vary, there are two things that are common in every motel pool in every town or city in America.  The first is that there is some sort of chemical reaction that takes place between chlorine exposed skin and industrially laundered motel sheets and towels that creates the sensation that your body is either slowly being consumed by a low grade acid or being attacked by millions of tiny insects.  The second common aspect found in every motel pool in America is that no matter what time of day or evening you come in for a swim, there is a couple in the pool who are on their honeymoon.

So should you take the plunge?  I don’t see any lasting harm as long as you don’t try to soothe your skin afterward with the complimentary free lotion the motel provides.  I’m not a scientist or a chemist, but I will swear to you that there’s an ingredient in that skin lotion that reacts with the chlorine and industrial laundry detergent and believe me,  if you slather that stuff on after going for a swim, taking a hot shower, drying your body with one of those 80 grit towels and then climbing under the sheets,  you will wish you had never been born.

And as always, don’t go anywhere near the hot tub.

In Summation

Well, I hope I’ve provided you with some of the information and tools you need to choose the right motel for you and your family.  Finding decent lodging should never be a chore and road trips really are the only option people have these days if they truly want to get to those destinations the airlines say they can fly to but then don’t because God keeps messing with their weather.  If for any reason, after reading this article, you’ve decided motels are no longer an option, just remember there is always camping.

© 2013 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett