Rub Some Dirt on It – A Sledding Story Time

Whenever I got hurt as a kid, my father would always say the same thing, “Get up, Dave.  You’re not hurt.  Rub some dirt on it.”

The phrase, rub some dirt on it, is a baseball colloquialism.  Dad’s a big baseball fan, and his infectious love for the game rubbed off on his two sons, myself, and my older brother Steve.  If we got hit by a pitch, fell down on our bike, or ran into a snow fence when sledding, the message was the same.

“Rub some dirt on it.”

Most of the time, he was right.  Now, I wouldn’t literally rub dirt on a bruise or cut, but I would get up, dust myself off, and then get back out there. After a while, we started to give my father the same advice whenever he got banged up.

At Nagawaukee Golf Course, off of Maple Drive, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, there is a fantastic sledding hill.  My father, brother, and I would go there multiple times each winter when I was in middle school.

Now on one particular winter weekend, the conditions at the park were magnificent.  The day before, we were hit with a few inches of wintry mix, meaning some snow, sleet and rain.  Right after the precipitation stopped, the temperature dropped.  Snow and sleet covered the ground and froze solid.  The slippery surface provided barely enough traction to walk up the hill.

My brother and I brought our red plastic sleds, and my father brought an inner-tube.  The three of us marched to the summit of Mount Nagawaukee, hopped in our rides, and sailed down the icy terrain.

Dad sailed ahead of Steve and I, and at about the halfway point of the hill, his inner-tube started to turn.  He was going down backwards for a little bit, and near the end of the hill, he wisely bailed out.  Dad tumbled out of the tube, and Steve and I intentionally crashed our sleds right behind him.

Even though the hill flattened out, we all had to force ourselves to stop because our momentum never slowed down on the glare ice.  If we didn’t intentionally bail out, we would have catapulted over a ditch and into the road.   Also, at the bottom of the hill right in front of the ditch, only about a foot off the ground was a thick steel cable.  Running parallel to the road,  the cable was an inch in diameter, and it looped between short wooden posts, signifying the edge of the golf course.

Don't sled past me

Don’t sled past me

“That was lame.  I shouldn’t have bailed out so soon.  There was still some hill left,” Dad said as we walked back up the hill.  Steve and I shrugged our shoulders.

The second run started just like the first.  Dad quickly took the lead.  The combination of pumped up plastic inner-tube on a steep decline of glare ice allowed my father to travel at incredible speeds.  Halfway down, he accidentally spun backwards and headed down the hill blind.  Steve and I followed close behind, and shouted as he approached the end of the run, “BAIL OUT!  BAIL OUT!”

There goes the Snow Tube.

There goes the Snow Tube.

BOOOOOOOOOM!

The inner-tube exploded as Dad slammed sideways into the steel cable wire.  It wasn’t quite a clothesline because Dad hit the wire just below his armpit, but he still was whipsawed to the ground, making him crash onto his shoulder.  The weight of my father collapsing onto the ice blew a hole into the side of the tube and sent it squealing through the air like a deflating balloon.  It finally landed on the other side of the road.

Steve and I skidded to a stop right in front of him.  We didn’t know if we should laugh or not, so for a moment, we said nothing at all.

I think Steve broke the silence.  He said, “Dad.  That was… AWESOME!  But I think you broke the tube.  It flew across the road.”

Dad responded with some groans.

“Get up Dad.  You’re not hurt,” I said.

He continued to grimace in pain.

“Rub some dirt on it,” I added.

Dad managed to sit back up.  He muttered a few words, “We’ve got to go back to the car.”

Reluctantly, Steve and I agreed.  Apparently, rubbing dirt on it wasn’t going to work for Dad.  I grabbed the sleds, and Steve retrieved the flattened inner-tube.  Dad stood up and we walked a half mile back to the car.

When Dad crashed, he cracked two ribs.  I don’t remember how long it took his ribs to heel, but he didn’t move very quickly for a month or two.

Any time we retell the sledding story, Dad always says the same thing, “But it was a great ride. It was a great ride.”

This is how Story Time with David Tiefenthaler Got Started

This is how I got the idea for writing my book.

WATCH!

I told this story to my middle school students, and they loved it.  I figured, I could turn this into a video, and I did.  I actually made several stories and turned them into videos and posted them on YouTube.  I still have a YouTube channel, called “tiefsa”, but making videos like the one above was extremely time consuming.  It was more fun writing the story.

Then I figured, why not use the story of being the new kid at a school and then write a fictional tale about it.

I hope to be able to share that story with you soon…

Flu + Frozen Pipes = Doom

WARNING – If you have a weak stomach, do not read any further.

You must be brave.  I commend you for continuing.  Get ready for a gut wrenching tale.

I only ask one thing.  If you make it through, you must share this with your friends, and more importantly, your enemies.

Note – We are in the middle of a very cold winter.

The day after Valentines – Saturday, 2/15/14 – 3:00 AM – Central Standard Time

My six year old, The Flower Child, wakes up crying.  She complains of having bad dreams, so I reluctantly get up and rub her back to help her calm down.

Lisa, my wife, gets up too, but she doesn’t come into The Flower Child’s room.  Instead, Lisa walks into the bathroom and barfs in the toilet.  All the commotion wakes up my four year old, Ivan the Terrible.  I assume Ivan will ask my wife or myself to tuck him back in, but instead he enters the bathroom and upchucks into the garbage can.

“The toilet isn’t flushing,” Lisa moans from the bathroom.   Even though she is still crying, I exit The Flower Child’s room to check on the status of the toilet.  My wife and Ivan are both sprawling out on the cool tile floor like dead bodies.  “It flushed once, but won’t anymore,” my wife says.

I step over them to fiddle with the lever of the toilet because there are some chortle chunks floating in the toilet bowl, but it doesn’t flush.  I take the back of the toilet seat off and notice that the chamber in back is not filling up with water.  This is not a good sign.  I twist the sink handle to see if water will come out of the sink, but only a few drops sputter out and then nothing.  We have no running water.  Our pipes must be frozen.

Oh no.

Oh no.

2/15/14 – 3:30 AM – Central Standard Time

I can handle kids and my wife dumping out their guts.  I can handle frozen pipes.  But together, it might be too much for one man to take.  I cast my doubts aside and remember my mantra in times like this.  “Cast iron stomach! You have a stomach of steel.  You can win this battle.  Stomach of steel!”

The Flower Child hasn’t stopped crying, but her sadness must take a back seat for the moment. First up, I find every available bucket or garbage can and double bag each one.  Next, I get on the computer, find the emergency number for the local utilities, and call them.

Here is a brief transcript of the conversation.

OPERATOR:  How did you find out that the pipes were frozen at 3:30 in the morning?

ME: My wife and my four year old child are throwing up and we can no longer flush the toilet.

OPERATOR:  I will send help immediately.

ME:  Thank you kindly for your help.

2/15/14 – 3:45 AM – Central Standard Time

We set up a makeshift bed using towels and sleeping bags on the hardwood floor in the family room.  My wife and Ivan the Terrible continue to heave out their guts.  After every vector spewing episode I take the double bagged garbage can to the garage, tie the bags and dump them into the large garbage can in the garage.  It is well below freezing in the garage, so the stomach spittle remains should freeze, effectively eliminating any puke stench.

As I was transporting one load of vomit to the garage, my wife informs me that The Flower Child threw up in her bed.  I march into her bedroom and find that she blasted chunks all over her comforter, sheets, and stuffed cheetah.  I strip all the sheets and comforter from her bed, throw the stuffed cheetah in the middle of these sheets, roll it up into a large ball, carry it to the garage, and throw it on the garage floor.

I get a call from the workers, and they say that they are on route.  They tell me that they will be working from inside my house, in the basement where the main water pipe enters my home.  They also tell me to clear away anything near the pipe because they have a large machine they need to put near the pipe entrance, and they are about 15 minutes away from my address.

The Flower Child is transported to the makeshift sick bay on the family room floor.  I hustle downstairs to move my weight bench, exercise bike, turn tables, record collection, and paper shredder from the area by the water pipes.

2/15/14 – 4:00 AM – Central Standard Time

Help arrives.  Two bearded utility workers enter the home, carrying a large machine and a bunch of hoses that will inject hot water into pipes outside.  With all the commotion, my eight year old, Bob the Builder, wakes up and joins me in the living room.  He doesn’t feel sick, but I set a double bagged garbage can next to him on the couch.  Bob asks who’s making all the noise in the family room.  I inform him that Mom, Ivan, and The Flower Child all have the flu, and they are busy sending messages to the wastebasket.

2/15/14 – 5:30 AM – Central Standard Time

The utility workers aren’t making any progress.  My son, Ivan the Terrible, tells me that he might have to use the toilet because something wants to come out the other end of his body.  I warn him that the toilet Mom spilled the groceries in has already been flushed.  He has to use the other one.  Also, if he has to go, he shouldn’t flush it.  He says he can’t hold it and rushes to the loo.  Shortly after he exits, The Flower Child takes a dump in the toilet that is already loaded with fecal matter.

2/15/14 – 6:00 AM – Central Standard Time

The stench from the crap loaded toilet has wafted out into the home and mixes with the already prevalent scent of stomach acid.  I resist the urge to flush the toilet by pulling my shirt over my head.  God help anyone that has to use that toilet again.

2/15/14 – 7:00 AM – Central Standard Time

The utility workers come up from the bowels of the basement.  They couldn’t unfreeze the pipe from inside the house.  They leave, but they promise to return soon with reinforcements.  I hold my best poker face and say, “Thanks for trying your best.  I hope you can fix it when you return.”

On the inside I scream, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Already prepared for this, I call up a local hotel and immediately book a room over the phone.

2/15/14 – 8:00 AM – Central Standard Time

After haphazardly packing several outfits for my sick family, I load the clothes into the van.   Right before throwing the casualties into the van, I make my way to the bathroom to flush the brown down.  I cover my mouth and nose when entering, but I probably should be wearing goggles too.   The putrid smell of hell’s candy burns my eyes.  Tears well up as I approach the toilet.  Whatever happened in here was beyond awful.  I don’t know if the first blast or the second caused it, but supersonic sewer sewage is spattered all over inside and outside of the toilet bowl.  I flush the toilet and dive out of the bathroom.

Once everyone manages to get a jacket on their sickly frames, we get in the van and roll to the hotel.  Thankfully, no one has a wet burp in the car, but after we get out, Ivan the Terrible calls Uncle Ralph and his Cousin Hurl in the parking lot, and The Flower Child brings some fluorescent cheer to a snowbank next to entrance of the hotel.  I feel so powerless in this moment.  The only thing I can do to help The Flower Child is hold her hair back so she doesn’t get any on herself.

2/15/14 – 9:00 AM – Central Standard Time

Bob the Builder and I pick up some wet wipes and bottles of water from the store.  We return to the hotel and drop off the goods.  Ivan the Terrible looks much better, but The Flower Child and my wife are still pleading their case to the porcelain judge.

2/15/14 – 9:30 AM – Central Standard Time

We might as well get what we are paying for, so Bob the Builder and I enjoy continental breakfast at the hotel.  I put myself on the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) to hopefully avoid the same fate as my family and eat one banana and a piece of toast.  I warn Bob that he could get sick too, but he throws caution to the wind and eats a bowl of Fruit Loops and chases it with a frosted donut.

2/15/14 – 9:45 AM – Central Standard Time

Bob the Builder and I return to our home.  Reinforcements arrive and begin working outside.  The utility workers attach jumper cables to a pipe next to our driveway and run an ungodly amount of voltage through the pipe.  The electrified pipe will heat up and melt the ice block.

2/15/14 – 11:00 AM – Central Standard Time

Water starts running in the house.  I thank the utility workers for their hard work.  They inform me that pretty much all of Hartford is freezing up and they quickly leave to help the next home on their list.

2/15/14 – 4:30 PM – Central Standard Time

After scouring the house for hours, I know what must be done.  I have to clean the toilet that is covered with colon cannonballs.  Armed with a toilet wand, a scrub brush, bleach, Lysol and Scrubbing Bubble disinfectant spray, I enter the battle zone.  Step one.  I douse the whole area with chemicals.   Step two.  I exit the bathroom and hope that magical scrubbing bubbles are cleaning the toilet on their own, just like in the commercial.  Step three.  I re-enter the bathroom and find that that commercial is totally false.  Step four.  I scrub all the keester cakes and Mississippi mud off the toilet until it is sparkling clean.  Step five.  I close the lid so the cat doesn’t try to drink the toilet water.

Sunday – 2/16/14 – 2:30 AM – Central Standard Time

Bob the Builder wakes up with a bad stomach ache.  We guide him to the toilet and he immediately hits the eject button on his belly.  With running water, it isn’t very difficult to clean up after Bob the Builder.  I just flush the toilet.  Thank you utility workers!  Thank you from the bottom of my stomach.

2/16/14 – 8:30 AM – Central Standard Time

The final battle.  I think for a moment I cleaned the entire house and eradicated any sign of abdominal chum or Montezuma’s revenge, but I am wrong.  Piled in a ball in the garage, The Flower Child’s pink and white striped sheets and Butterfly comforter taunt me.  I snatch the cold boulder from the garage floor and heave it into the laundry room.  “Stomach of steel,” I chant to myself.  I unroll the ball and pull out the first of three blankets.  Only a few chunks are on this one.  I take it to the utility sink and run water over the clam chowder surprise.  It doesn’t come off.

That’s when it hits me.  The chunderspew that covers these sheets and blankets are frozen.  I have to use scalding hot water to dislodge it.  My hand trembles as I turn the knob to the hot water on full blast.  Slowly the half digested stomach purge heats up enough to peel off of the sheet.  Unfortunately, the putrid, acidic, noxious odor of Hurl and Ralph return.  The smell assails my nostrils, and I gag.  Between dry heaves, I manage to get the first sheet clean.  The comforter doesn’t have much on it, so I just chuck it directly into the washing machine.  However, the third blanket is loaded with frozen leftover lunch.  I repeat the cleaning process, but because these pieces of rainbow retch are larger, they don’t immediately slide down the drain. Some larger pieces sink and clog the drain, while lighter fare float about in the clogged utility sink.

I turn my head upward and ask for divine intervention.  Please, don’t make me reach into the sink!  For the love of all things sacred, don’t make me do it!

My prayers are answered.  The hot water works its magic and the chunky puddle begins to drain away.  I watch the remaining stomach discharge melt, break apart, and slide down the drain, never to be seen again.  I toss the last blanket into the washing machine.

All that remains is the stuffed cheetah.  I contemplate burning it, or throwing it away, but The Flower Child loves the cheetah.  With my bare hands, I scrub the oral diarrhea out of its fur, and whip the stuffed cat into the washing machine.  I win.

You made it.  Hopefully you didn’t retch on whatever device you were reading this.  Now remember to share it because sharing is caring. 

The Four Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

It’s time to dust off the tools of ignorance

Get out your athletic support

Grab the Delaware River mud

and the rosin bag, ole sport

The South paws, the hurlers, the closers,

and throwers of every sort,

the starters, side-winders, flame-throwers,

and relievers to hold the fort

Plus squatters, and backstops are coming

boarding planes at the airport

They’re all heading to Arizona or Florida,

but not to a resort

“Hope springs eternal in the dead of winter,”

my father did retort.

“The four greatest words in the English language,

pitchers and catchers report.”


 

 

Rainbow Loom College Plan

My wife and I are both teachers.  Since we value education, we think that all three of our children should go to college and get a degree.

The downside for my wife and I is we are teachers who don’t earn a ton of money.  Our dream of three children graduating college means we have to save a boatload of money for them.  Currently in our 529 college plan, we have around zero dollars saved up for the three children.

My parents paid for my college education.  My wife earned a scholarship and also received help from her grandfather when paying for her education.  I feel that we should do the same, but according to inflation and the escalating prices of a college education, it will cost us about four million dollars to pay for all three of them.  I might be a bit low with that estimate.

Enter the RAINBOW LOOM

On YouTube, I have posted a bunch of running instructional videos.  They make me a little money each month.  One day, my oldest son, Bob the Builder, said he wanted to do a Rainbow Loom instructional video.  My son watches YouTube Rainbow Loom videos and learns how to make bracelets, so he wanted to post his own creations.  I filmed it for him, and we posted a video.  Bob the Builder did an excellent job explaining how to make a bracelet, and then my daughter, The Flower Child, said she wanted to do one too.  She made a bracelet, and I filmed for her.

BAM!  A cottage industry is born.  Now we just have to wait for the money to pile up.  I checked the stats yesterday for our YouTube channel and we actually made some money.

“Hey kids,” I announced.  “We made 67 cents!”

The Flower Child screamed, “We’re rich!”

Bob the Builder replied, “He said 67 cents, not dollars.”

Wish us luck!  Here is the first video we did.

 

This video is the one my daughter made.

 

We only have to make about $3,999,999.33 more and they’ll be set for college.

New Year’s Resolutions = 8% Success Rate

I was reading an article posted on the Forbes website that said just eight percent of the people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually achieve them.  The article went on to explain how people met their resolutions, but I lost interest after seeing things like “hard work” and “be realistic”.  I came up with a different plan.

I will set twelve goals for 2014.  If I achieve one of them, statistically I will be better than average at New Year’s Resolutions.  I did the math.

Multiply this by 100 and you have a percentage.  Amazing!

Multiply this by 100 and you have a percentage. Amazing!

One out of twelve is just over eight percent.  I might as well shoot for some big things because if I hit on one, I’m the champion of 2014.  Eat it, Forbes.

Here are my 12 New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Publish my first book.

2. Go to bed before 10:00 pm every night.  Nothing good happens after 10 pm, especially for people who are 37 years old. (P.S. It’s 9:58pm right now.  You can stop reading because the rest will probably be garbage.)

3.  Buy a boat.

4.  Win the Lottery.  I know I won’t buy a boat unless I fall into a pit of money.

Before I list number five.  Here’s a joke.

Ed prays to god every night with the same prayer.

“Dear God.  Please, let me win the lottery.  I would love it if you would let me win the lottery.”

This goes on for years and years.  Finally one night, while Ed is praying, the clouds rumble, the heavens part, and God appears before the man.  Ed stares up at God and says, “God!  Oh heavenly Father.  Are you here to answer my prayers?  Are you here to tell me I won the lottery?”

God shakes his head and says, “Ed.  Would you at least meet me halfway and buy a lottery ticket?”

5.  Remember to buy lottery tickets.

6.  Take the kids tubing, skiing, or wake boarding on my new boat.

7.  Go fishing on my new boat.

8.  Go fishing with my brother on my new boat.

9.  Go fishing with the kids on my new boat.

10.  Go fishing while my wife catches a tan as she lies on the front of my new boat.

11.  Try not to hook my wife with an errant cast as she lies on the front of my new boat.

12.  Grade papers and return them to students in less than a week from when I collected them.  (This one is hilarious)

iPhone Intervention for Adults

With great power comes great responsibility – Voltaire

I have an iPhone.  This might not be a big deal for most people, but I went from a flip phone with no internet capabilities to the holiest of holy handheld devices in the world.  Apologies to people that use a different brand of smartphone.  Your phone might be the best.  This technologic troglodyte doesn’t know any better.

There is a problem though.  The soft glow, the smooth outer shell, the feelings I get when I hold it close.  Its intoxicating!  I need to develop a contract so I use this power responsibly.  But why put it down when I can do anything with it.  What’s the weather like?  Who just emailed me?  Where’s the best place for a taco in Menomonee Falls?  My iPhone knows.  I want to stare at it all day.  Oh, such beauty.  Such grace in a lacquer coated polycarbonate case.

When I pull my phone out, I have the world wide web right in my hands.

Sometimes I point it at my cat after chanting, “By the Power of Grayskull, I HAVE THE POWER!”

Furry Underwear is Comfortable

Furry Underwear is Comfortable

Unfortunately there hasn’t been an app developed yet that will transform my house cat into a beast that I can saddle up and ride to work.  I’m sure someone is coding that program right now.  Without further ado, these are the rules that I will follow so I use my iPhone responsibly.  I’ve been around other adults who could benefit from these rules too, so feel free to share this article with them.

1.  I won’t use my iPhone while driving.  Since my job doesn’t require chasing criminals or wrestling alligators, by far, the most dangerous thing I do everyday is drive my car.  I don’t need to make it harder by texting and driving.  I figure since I didn’t read while driving, or try to write notes to people while I’m behind the wheel before I had my phone, I shouldn’t start trying to do it now.

2.  I won’t use my iPhone when I’m talking to another person.  I’ve never got up and left someone in the middle of a conversation to go look at my computer to see if someone just sent me a message, so I probably shouldn’t start doing that now.

3.  I won’t use my iPhone when I’m eating with my family or friends.  Food tastes good.  I also enjoy talking to my wife and kids.  Why would I want to distract myself from delicious breakfast cuisine like Life cereal while having a conversation with Bob the Builder about the intricacies of creating a starburst pattern on the Rainbow Loom.

4.  I won’t use my iPhone to broadcast on social media where I am currently vacationing.  The reason for this is twofold.  First of all, I get really jealous when other people use their phone to post a crappy picture of some exotic location that they are vacationing.  “Look at me!  I’m really happy in Tropical Paradise,” they say.  Well, I’m not happy for you, jerkface.  Secondly, this is just an open invitation to shady characters that you or your family isn’t within 500 miles of your home, so there will be little resistance when I, umm… I mean, when someone wants to steal your stuff.

5.  I will look past my iPhone’s 1136-by-640 pixel resolution at 326 ppi and occasionally enjoy the real world.  Life beyond the screen appears in color and resolution even better than HD, and I don’t even need to wear glasses to make it 3D.  When I’m at a game, I’ll just watch the game.  When I’m at a family gathering like Thanksgiving or Christmas or a kid’s birthday party, I’ll talk to the adults and wrestle with kids.  When I’m at a party, I’ll party.  Someone else can document my activities.

6.  I won’t take any selfies.

Got a friend or family member that needs an iPhone intervention?  Get all the people that care about this individual together, take the offender’s phone away, and share these rules with them.  Then again, I wouldn’t mind if you emailed this article to people, tweeted it, shared it on Facebook, Gave it a plus one on Google, took a picture of yourself reading it and post it on Instagram…

The Fastest Way to a Woman’s Heart is with a New Toilet Seat

One annoying thing about toddlers is that you have to strap a “potty seat” to your toilet when they transition from diapers to going pee and poop on the potty.  For the uninitiated, let me quickly explain a potty seat.  It’s a smaller toilet seat that snaps onto the regular sized toilet seat.  The hole, for lack of a better term, is much smaller on the potty seat so your toddler doesn’t fall into the toilet when they are doing their doody.

There is a little less than a four year gap between our oldest and youngest child, so for several years, we had a potty seat that was contantly being snapped on and popped off of the toilet.  This put an excessive amount of wear and tear on the white seat we had.  After years of putting the seat on and pulling it off, four brown spots developed on the toilet seat.  All that happened was the white paint wore off, exposing some sort of wooden composite material.  A less technical explanation would be the potty seat made it look like there were permanent poop stains on the toilet seat.

Those aren't poop stains

Those aren’t poop stains

My wife hated it.  She constantly bugged me to replace the toilet seat.  There was nothing wrong with it.  No one was getting splinters in their butt cheeks on the rubbed down spots, so I didn’t see this as a pressing issue.  This weekend, my wife ramped up the intensity of her nagging.  It was quite impressive.  Some of her best lines were, “I’m embarrassed to even have my mother over,” and “Bacteria is growing on the seat.”  She’s dead on about the bacteria growing on the seat.  The two boys spraying urine everywhere except into the toilet bowl makes sure of this.  Seeing that the nagging was getting her nowhere, my wife appealed to a stronger urge.  My wife said, “If you go to get a new toilet seat, we can stop and pick up some bagels on the way.”

After I agreed to get a new toilet seat, I realized this meant I had to remove the old one.  This was the real reason I was dragging my heels on switching the toilet seat.  I knew this would be a brutal job.  With my oldest son, Bob the Builder, serving as a plumber’s assistant, it was time to get down and dirty.

There are two flaps at the base of the toilet seat that I had to lift up to expose the screws.  Underneath that flap was a pile of crystalized urine.  I was able to get the screws loose, but there were two wing-nuts underneath the toilet lid.  Like an idiot, I reached underneath to hold them in place while I unscrewed the bolt.  My bare hands came in contact with a greenish yellow gooey substance.  The urine was somehow melting the metal.  GROSS!

Once the seat was removed, two amber colored crystalized urine spots where the lid was attached were exposed.  I had to use the flat head screwdriver to scrape this stain off because industrial strength cleaners didn’t work.  After the base of the toilet was finally cleaned off, I took the old seat and made my way to the hardware store.  My oldest son, Bob the Builder, assisted me on this journey.

I felt a little awkward carrying around the old toilet seat in the hardware store, but Bob the Builder strutted through the aisles with purpose.  He was a little man on a mission.  We located the toilet section and quickly matched our old toilet seat with a new, pristine seat exactly the same size.

When Bob the Builder and I returned home, my wife made sure we reported immediately to the bathroom.  Quickly, Bob and I installed the new seat.  My wife was beside herself with joy.  With the exception of the birth of our three children, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her happier.  The whole day she bounded around the house talking about the new magnificent toilet seat.  She celebrated as each child broke the seat in.  My daughter took the first poop on the seat.  My youngest son was the first one to lift up the seat and pee into the toilet.  My oldest son, Bob the Builder, was held in high regard because he was the one who picked out the magnificent, glowing white toilet seat.

The Sparkling Throne

The Sparkling Throne

Maybe in a new relationship, flowers, chocolate, or diamonds are the way to impress a woman.  After ten years of marriage, the fastest way to a woman’s heart is with a new toilet seat.

Cleaning Behind a Car Seat is Disturbing

My children are disgusting.  I suppose I am partly to blame for what I recently discovered in the van, but I was reminded once again that all the food that we give to our children while we’re driving doesn’t end up going in their mouths.

My little helper

My little helper

On one car seat, the clasp broke.  I had to remove the defective car seat and put in a new one.  When I crawled into the back seat of the family van, I was horrified by the things I saw.  I lifted out the old car seat, and there were tons of crumbs and other partially eaten remnants smooched into the folds of the van.  Buried in every crack and crevice were goldfish crackers, half melted fruit snacks, blackened banana peels, apple cores, Golden Graham shrapnel, and countless Honey Nut Cheerios.

I retreated to the house for some high powered artillery:  an extension cord, and my Dyson DC41 Animal Vacuum.  My four year old son, Ivan the Terrible, came outside to help.  I plugged the vacuum in an sucked up all the debris.  Ivan joined me in the van and “helped out” by honking the horn repeatedly as I worked.  It took me quite a while to get in every nook and cranny, but I thought I cleaned up everything.  Ivan got on his belly and crawled into the back seat to inspect my work.  He squirmed out from under the back seat and held up one last Honey Nut Cherrio.  I asked him to give it to me, but he ate it instead.

I Hate Hazing and You Should Too

Hazing is the stupidest thing that any group can ever do for incoming members, and anyone in a seniority position that continues with these arcane traditions is an idiot.  If you’ve ever been hazed, you know it sucks, so don’t do it to someone else when you are in a position of power.  I was reminded of this asinine tradition that some groups allow because of a developing story with the NFL team, the Miami Dolphins.

This is Richie.  He's not nice.

This is Richie. You’ll learn more about him in just a bit.

Before I talk about the man in the middle of the incident in Miami, I’ll share two experiences I’ve had with hazing.  In high school, I was fortunate enough to make it onto the varsity team in cross country as a freshman.  Unfortunately, I was the smallest and youngest one on the varsity team, so I was what they called “an easy target.”  One senior runner thought it would be hilarious to stick me, the little freshman, in a locker.  He recruited another senior and together they picked me up and tried to force me inside one.  I resisted.  They didn’t appreciate me fighting back so they turned me upside down and stuffed me into the locker, and then locked the door.  I was stuck in a locker for 15 minutes, upside down, with my head pounding from all the pressure of my bodyweight pressing on it.  Thankfully, another freshman came down to the locker room and got me out after the seniors left.  I’ll never forget the main culprit, and I will hate him to the day I die.

A year later, as a sophomore, I made it onto the varsity baseball team.  Once again, I was the smallest and youngest kid on the team.  On a bus ride back from a game that we just won, I was invited to sit towards the back of the bus with some older teammates.  I always sat near the front because I was scared of the bigger kids.  I thought I was invited back because I had a great game.  I was wrong.  I accepted the invitation, but once I got back there, all they did was beat me to a pulp, hitting me repeatedly on my shoulders and legs before I was able to wiggle free and return to the front of the bus.

In both instances, I never told anyone.  I don’t think I’ve even mentioned it to anyone ever until now.  It’s a terrible position for a young member of any group to be in.  For some reason, I felt as if I did something wrong, like I shouldn’t be trying hard because I’m taking an older player’s spot.  Later on, I realized I shouldn’t have blamed myself, and that I was the subject of physical and psychological abuse.

The position you are put in if you get hazed is complicated.  If you run and tell, you look weak, not to mention the wrath you could incur if the coaches or group leaders don’t believe you.  If you don’t tell, the hazing continues.

Looking back, I wish I had told my coach.  It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the bullies, and it wasn’t something I had a lot of since I was new to the group.  The only thing I ever did to try and stop any hazing was to make sure it didn’t happen when I was a senior on my cross country team.  As the captain of the cross country team, I made sure I was extremely kind to the incoming freshman.  I actually mentored one of the freshman runners, which was much more rewarding than physically harming him or teasing him.

Let’s look at the current situation with the Miami Dolphins.  Jonathan Martin, a second year player, walked away from his team because of repeated hazing by Richie Incognito.  The Dolphins weren’t helping Martin deal with the situation, so Martin quit the team.  If the reports are true, Richie Incognito did some terrible things.  Here’s the story.  Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by the Miami Dolphins because he was “hazing” his teammate Jonathan Martin.  According to several reports, Incognito called his biracial teammate a “half-nigger,” bullied Martin into paying a $15,000 bill, and threatened to defecate in his mouth.  The worst part of all of this is it’s only coming to light because Martin quit the team.  If Martin would have just accepted this as how things are on an organized team, no one would know, and the hazing would continue.

Good for Martin, and good for all the reporters that helped bring this issue to light.  I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of “hazing.”   Hazing to me is just a lame excuse for allowing a person in power to show the world how much of a total ass they really are.  The Miami Dolphins organization are just as much to blame for accepting these behaviors as part of the sports culture.

Degrading someone, or simply being mean to someone because that’s what someone else did you is a pathetic excuse for inexcusable behavior.  Just because that’s how it’s always been DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.  Now bring it in for a group hug.