Automatic Bathroom Apparatus

“Work Smarter…and Sometimes Dumber”

We’ve all been there. You’re in a bathroom that has some fancy new technology that makes it so you don’t have to touch anything to wash your hands. Most of the time these situations occur to me at the airport. You go to the sink, patiently place your hands underneath the faucet, and wait for a soothing jet of water to moisturize your mitts.

Instead, you wave your hands like a madman, while simultaneously glancing around to see if anyone else is seeing your embarrassing technology predicament. After 13.5 seconds of futile flailing, it’s time to abandon hope, and either:

Just walk out with soapy hands or quickly move to another faucet and hope for the best.

I love the advent of new technology in our lives to make the little things that much easier. I marveled at the genius who created the automatic hand paper towel dispensers and spent hours upon hours contemplating how much money that company made with each whirl of a towel.

At one point in college, I sketched a design of a urinal that would use low powered suction fans to drastically reduce (and hopefully eliminate completely) splashback. A frenzied search for patent lawyers resulted in a very patient old man explaining to me the cost of patent applications. And so, the dream of Joey’s Unbelievable Urinal Ward was dead.

The use of hands-free technology in wash closets is a small upgrade that makes bathroom experiences that much better. But we haven’t perfected it yet, which results in everyone frantically waving at a sink or a toilet at least once in their life.

And in those moments of true vulnerability, the desire to be seen, to be acknowledged is never stronger. I came here to go to the bathroom, not have an existential crisis. But as I waggle my palm with increasing nervousness at a thin black square of infrared light, I find myself asking myself, “Am I really here?”

Then the toilet flushes, and all is right with the world.

Automatic Bathroom Apparatus – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Visiting Hospitals

“Where the Beeping Matters Most”

When you’re in a hospital, it’s the sounds that are the most important.

The mood and the moment can all be deciphered by one singular sound – the beep of various life-saving machines.

When they’re beeping at a regular interval, you can breathe easy. It’s never truly silent in a hospital, but one can be lulled to relaxation by the measured meter of machines at rest.

Staccato bursts are when it’s time to take notice. To take measure and hear nurses and doctors spring into action. Rapid beeping can be the final crescendo to well-lived years or the opening stanza to a song of new life.

Coughs, groans, moans, shouts, and sneezes all fade into the background bubble of noise in hospital.

But the beeps ring clear – diligently singing their song of observation.

Visiting Hospitals – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Ignoring Alarms

“Snooze is the Button Of the Proletariate”

There are three types of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.

Bumper sticker jokes finished, there are two ways of approaching life. Waking up when your alarm goes off or snoozing through the next hour.

Unless it’s a special occasion, I’m almost always in the camp of the snoozers. Those spurts of 9 minutes between blindly slapping for my cell phone are what I live for.

Those minutes of stolen sleep seem so much more fulfilling. Which is why (to the annoyance of Kate) I’m a person who will set an alarm an hour before I need to rise out of bed, so I can have a chaotic (but emotionally) fruitful 54 minutes.

But when it comes to other alarms, I’m alert and aware. When I hear a chirp or a beep, I become a human prairie dog, scanning the horizon for trouble.

At the airport last Friday, while waiting for our flight to San Antonio, an ear screeching whoop began going off at our gate. Eyes wide, ears perked, I popped up, examining the scene. A door appeared to be ajar on our skyway.

The nauseating noise continued, and to my growing terror, no one reacted. Not the gate agent, not the people walking by, not even the other passengers sitting next to us. People continued talking on the phone, reading the paper, whatever.

As the alarm went on for almost five minutes, I wandering frantically around the boarding area. Finally, I walked over to a man wearing a USMC hat, and asked: “You’re hearing this too, right?”

He smiled and nodded. Okay, I’m not crazy.

After nearly ten minutes of the alarm going off, someone came and…closed the door.

In the battle of alarm reactions, we’re now at a draw. I’ll end with a final moment that happened just last night. Kate came home, and I had a candle burning on our main table. Late night snacks were on Kate’s mind, so she sat down next to me, inadvertently covering the candle with two sheets of Bounty Paper Towels.

It’s hard to tear away my gaze from Kate’s olive eyes, but your living room suddenly taking an “on fire” look will do it. I yelped, grabbed the burning Bounties and tossed them in the sink, heroically averting disaster, and most importantly, another alarm.

Ignoring Alarms – 3 out of 5 Stars

Rapid Fire Reviews

“Because Snackable Content Sticks”

To stop living in a festering pool of guilt and internal tension, I’m going to reset the clock. Here are 18 rapid fire reviews.

Travel Edition Part 3: Amsterdam

Trains to Work – The only time the world can hit “snooze” on your perfectly timed morning is with a late train. Still, it beats driving.  – 3 out of 5 Stars

Zoos – Whenever I have a moment while traveling, I’ll visit a zoo in a weird place. Animal rights tabled for the moment, the zoo in Amsterdam is my favorite cuddly jail, it had wide awake animals all over the place. Talk about instant gratification! – 4 out of 5 Stars

Envy – A fancy restaurant Kate and I went to in Amsterdam. We sat at the Chef’s Table and had an 11-course meal, four of which were mostly foam based. Do I want to eat most food in foam form? No. Was it cool though? I dunno, is eating bubbles cool? Absolutely. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Misc

Our Current Political Climate – 0 out of 5 Stars

Jicama Sticks – They lack the crunch of carrots, and yet have the weird texture of watermelon. – 2 out of 5 Stars

Bohnanaza – A card game where you’re a bean farmer and have to trade with other farmers to reap the best bean harvests. You know it’s a good game when you’re standing up and shouting across the table “HOW MANY STINK BEANS DO YOU WANT FOR ONE CHILI BEAN GODDAMMIT” – 4 out of 5 stars

Twitter – I’ve gotten back into the word whirlwind that is Twitter. Avoid all Kanye tweets. – 2 out of 5 Stars

Chia Pods – We were mistakenly given a bagful of these in our last Instacart order. They’re like if you mixed bad pudding with the gelatin portion of pomegranate seeds. – 1 out of 5 Stars 

The Good Place – What a brilliant show, and what trust in the writing staff. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Cheers – Speaking of Ted Danson, this show is uncomfortably misogynist. However, that seems like a great bar to hang at. – 2 out of 5 Stars

A Career in the Postal Service – I’ve often dreamed about is being a mailman in a nice walkable neighborhood. You get to exercise every day, you could listen to podcasts at work (learn French!) and most of the time you’re delivering something important to people’s lives. – 3 out of 5 Stars

Jazz Flute – When Kate and I were in Spain, the only music we had at the house were a stack of CD’s her family had left. Most of them were classical, except one was an album that had crazy good jazz flute renditions of Brazillian music. An Absolute Banger. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Silent Discos on the Beach – If time permits, I try to run after work before the sun goes down on the beach. Recently I’ve been coming across a group of Burner types who all wear headphones and gyrate wildly in silence on the beach as the sun goes down. Whatever works I guess. – 3 out of 5 Stars

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes – A recipe taken from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings, put this in your weekly rotation now. It’s the deliciousness of mashed potatoes, sans the Irish guilt. – 5 out of 5 Stars 

Bad Blood – I just finished this book about Theranos, the Silicon Valley startup that tricked investors out of a billion dollars, and then immediately made Kate read it. I’m usually not one for nonfiction, but this is a fascinating and fast read. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Wearing My Suit to a Wedding – Got to finally break that bad boy out for a trip to DC a few weeks back. While people weren’t throwing money or their bras at me, I did feel like a million bucks (at a 40% discount, thanks Atta!) – 4 out of 5 Stars

Pumpkins for Decoration – It’s October again, which means I start stressing about my Halloween costume, and Kate goes overboard on decorating. Our house now contains a pumpkin that we will never eat. It will just slowly rot until I throw it in the garbage. – 1 out of 5 Stars

Crossing Things off a List – Every Monday morning I sit down and make a list of thing I need to get done for the week. Some of them are ongoing projects, but some of them are gimmes. I literally write “make a list” and then when I’m done, cross it off. I encourage endorphin manipulation at all opportunities. – 3 out of 5 Stars 

TSA PreCheck

This is the beginning of three-part series that documents the two-week journey that Kate and I are embarking on. We’re going to a beach town in Spain for a week, then heading to Amsterdam for work.

PART ONE: TRAVEL PREPAREDNESS

“Not Elite Enough In My Opinion”

The first time Kate and I flew together, I learned something about the woman who had stolen my heart.

She’s a flying elitist, and I am (was) not.

See, I think I’m an excellent traveler. I’ve crisscrossed South East Asia by myself. I’ve bribed custom agents to get through immigration quicker (okay one time, and I was told to), and I’ve taken 12-hour van rides through the windy backroads of Northern Thailand. I’m good at traveling.

But perhaps I’m not that good at flying well.

When Kate and I flew somewhere together for the first time, she learned that I didn’t have TSA PreCheck. She did. This transgression did not sit well with her.

In a past life, Kate spent a year and a half flying back and forth between New York and Cincinnati. This experience taught her the value of high-end flying and racking up points.

Before we started dating, I had never signed up for a membership rewards program or frequent flyer deal. The less data corporations had on me, the better I thought I was.

I’ve since realized that all the data on me is already vacuumed up and in a server somewhere, so might as well make it work for me.

So when Kate found out I didn’t share the same airport echelon aspirations as her, she remedied the situation. Her solution? While I was going through security with the other plebians, she was signing me up for global entry, from the very airport we’re sitting in now.

Now this plan was created in a moment of passion, and with passion comes a blindness to mistakes. Her biggest mistake? When I received my global entry ID card (I found it, by the way), which not only gave me TSA PreCheck, but fast entrance back into the country, my gender is listed as “F”.

My plan if ever quizzed about it? Fake ignorance and pretend like I never noticed.

Back to PreCheck though. It’s great, and it lets you breeze through security. However, the secret is out, and now more and more…people are using it.

So now we’re back to the crux of the problem, standing behind a person who A. Has not been listening to the speeches, reading the signs, and apparently has never had to function in modern society before. Suddenly shoes are flying everywhere, Blackberries are being left on waists, and it’s general mess. What, are you new?

Oh shit. Turns I’ve become the flying elitist.

Well, as long as the lines are short, might as enjoy the better things in life!

TSA PreCheck – 3 out of 5 Stars

Cereal

“Breakfast Crackers”

Millennials. We get a bad wrap. We’re the cause of…all of the world’s problems. We’re entitled, lazy, and are constantly destroying solid American pillars.

One of those institutions? Cereal. Depending on who you believe, we’re either too lazy to clean up after ourselves to eat cereal, or we’re focused on healthy breakfast options more than the previous generation – long story short, cereal sales are down.

To be fair, ever since I left the nest at the ripe old age of 18 (and then summarily returned at the age of 24, only to fly again at 25), I don’t buy cereal. Buying cereal means I have to buy milk, and I don’t drink enough milk to not have it go bad in my fridge. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing or smelling bad milk, but word on the street is that it’s an unpleasant experience.

Don’t get me wrong, cereal is absolutely delicious. Especially the kind we ate as children. Who wouldn’t want marshmallows for breakfast? Growing up I had three favorite types of cereal.

Honey Bunches of Oats – This combination of oat clusters and nuts always felt like it was the healthiest. No wrong could come to my body as long as I started the day with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Kix – Kid Tested, Mother Approved. A bowl of these plain colored orbs were a true treat. Especially when you threw them at friends.

Lucky Charms – Obviously Lucky Charms makes the cut. I considered putting Golden Grahams as my third option, but the magical mystery of clovers and rainbows were too enticing to pass up. Holy shit this was just a bowl full of sugar crack. I feel like Lucky Charms may have been the root cause of a lot of ADD diagnoses.

So we’re killing cereal, but like a magnificent forest, sometimes there needs to be destruction for greater growth to occur. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m all about fiber. And you know what is a great source of fiber?

Cereal, that’s what. So while I’ve traded in my horseshoes and tasty red balloons for brands that help me poop, it’s nice to feel like a Millennial that isn’t killing something.

Cereal – 3 out of 5 Stars

Tevas

“Like Sandals for Really Really Cool People”

It’s been very very hot in California this summer. In a gross way. In a way that our state has burst into flames all across the mountains and valleys.

Right now, the largest fire in state history is burning, it’s called the Mendocino Complex fire, and it’s the size of the entirety of Los Angeles.

Fire PSA over, I’m just trying to make a sympathetic point that it’s hot.

Now that I’ve got you freaked out by wildfires, and in an emotional state of support, let’s talk about Teva Sandals.

My first encounter with Tevas was when I was 13 years old, and with a group of Boy Scouts and parents (Thanks Dad!) I backpacked into the Grand Canyon and spent 4 days in a magical place called Havasupai.

This is not to be confused with Lake Havasu, the popular spring break destination. A grueling 10-mile hike is the only way to get to this secluded and beautiful destination. We wore hiking boots to get in there, but once there all of us enjoyed the heavy duty protection of Tevas, while still being able to swim in waterfalls and the lake without wearing wet socks.

After that moment, I thought Tevas were basically the Dippin Dots of shoes – the future. High school and college quickly proved me wrong. Since I didn’t go to UC Berkeley or live in Boulder, Tevas weren’t commonplace.

Senior year of college, I took an ill-fated canoe trip through the Everglades. I ended up being hospitalized for five days, but that was completely unrelated to my footwear choices. My roommate and I wore Tevas, and passed the time by getting in hotly contested debates with the trip leaders about the superior merits of Tevas over the other mainstay of what I like to call “Tactical Sandals,” Chacos.

I hung up my Tevas for almost half a decade after that, until I took the free trip to Israel known as Birthright. I traipsed all across the contested holy land in my Tevas, and while feeling no stronger ties to religion, I was struck with holy fever for my sandals.

All of these moments led up to yesterday when the local news told me yet again that it was going to be a scorcher in Los Angeles. I work in a fashion-forward office, so I decided to roll the dice and rock my trusty Tevas to my job.

Turns out Los Angeles wasn’t the only thing that got roasted yesterday. My fashion choice was met with a small section of support, but the overwhelming vibe was that I shouldn’t mix Tevas with Trabajo.

Tevas – 3 out of 5 Stars