I’m Too Much of an Idiot to be Successful

On November 16th, 2014, an email account that I never check punched me in the face so hard, I still have tears in my eyes.  Here’s why.

I have a moderately successful YouTube channel called “Tips4Running”.  As the name suggests, the videos I produce are focused on running tips.  I also like to use my GoPro camera when I run in Tough Mudder races, and I post these videos too.

I’ve been busy with school and with writing lately, so I haven’t uploaded a new video in some time.  Over the weekend, I found some free time, and I made a new running video.  While it was uploading, I was checking the different pages on the Tips4Running YouTube channel, I visited the “About Tips4Running YouTube page”.  On this little page, I wrote, and I quote, “Coach Tief is currently seeking sponsors, partners and product samples to review. Contact him at the following email.”  Then there is a link to an email account that I haven’t checked for six months.

So, I thought, let’s check out that email address while I wait for my video to load.  I get on the email account, and there are 364 emails I haven’t read.  Quickly I filter through them.  Most of them are spam, but once I get past about 200 emails, I find an interesting one sent to me on August 15th.  It was sent by Tina Theriot, with a title of “Edge of Tomorrow – Tough Mudder”.  I open the email, and this is what it said, word for word.

Dear Coach Tief,

On behalf of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and EDGE OF TOMORROW, we would love to invite you to participate as a member of our team at Tough Mudder: Seattle on September 27th and 28th.  Our goal is to create a version of the “J-Squad” as seen in the film, with a range of team members from celebrities, YouTube personalities, top tier media, fitness gurus and even contestants from American Ninja Warrior.

As a participant on the EDGE OF TOMORROW team, we will pay for air travel to and from Seattle, hotel accommodations for two nights and the ticket entry fee.  In return, we ask that you help promote awareness of the Blu-ray/DVD release of EDGE OF TOMORROW and the great time we guarantee you will have by participating with us!

We think you would be a great addition to our team and would love to discuss this opportunity further.  Please let us know your interest and availability by Friday, August 22nd. Please feel free to email us any questions or concerns you may have.

Thank you!

Tina Theriot

Associate Marketing Specialist

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

“NOOOOOOO!”  I screamed to myself.  How could I be so stupid?  How could I miss out on something like this?  This is the whole reason I make the running videos!  I want to do cool things like this, get footage of it, and then share the videos with my viewers.  I pay a lot of money to run Tough Mudders, and I could have ran one for free, not to mention I could have done it with American Ninja Warriors and other YouTubers!  Plus they were going to pay to fly me out there, and pay for the hotel.  I’m such an idiot.

Hi.  I don't like to check my email.  I'd rather run in mud.

Hi. I don’t like to check my email. I’d rather run in mud.

Needless to say, I’ll be checking that email account daily from now until forever.  I’m going to try and make this right somehow.  I know I’ll be running another Tough Mudder in 2015, and I’ll make a video for that.  Tonight, I’m going to rent or buy the movie EDGE OF TOMORROW and watch it immediately.  Then I’m going to email back Tina from Warner Bros. with my sincerest apologies.  They probably didn’t miss me at all, but I still feel really bad about the whole thing.  I only have myself to blame.  I hate me!

Pokemon – Gotta Catch ‘Em All. Actually, Don’t!

Something very dangerous, and downright sinister has happened in the Tiefenthaler household.  Pocket monsters have infiltrated our walls, and we’re surrounded by them.  For the uninitiated, Pokemon is a Japanese word, that means “pocket monster” in English.  It started as a video game for Nintendo, and expanded into a cartoon show, movies, and a trading card game.

Here’s why it’s such a big problem.  On the bus, a kid named Sean introduced my 3rd grade son, Bob the Builder, to the Pokemon card game.  Bob loved them and decided he needed Pokemon cards.  It sounds nice on the surface, until I realized that one pack of 10 cards costs $4.10 cents.  That’s ridiculous!  This hobby could be wicked expensive.

F you, Pikachu!

F you, Pikachu!

Side note:  I want my kids to grow up normal, but I wish they didn’t ride the school bus.  In addition to learning about Pokemon cards there, they also learned some very colorful language.   I’m so glad they are expanding their vocabulary.

Anyways, I caved and bought Bob the Builder a pack of cards.  Of course, he opened them in front of my seven-year old daughter, The Flower Child.  Now she needed some cards.  I don’t remember all of the persuasion techniques she used, but I’m pretty sure there was some crying involved.  That didn’t make me cave.  What did was she also complained so much about the cards that my five-year old, Ivan the Terrible caught wind of this injustice.  He needed some cards too.  I wasn’t about to get between Ivan and some Pokemon.

Back to the store I go for another pack.  In order to save money, I bought a three pack of cards for $11.98.  If I bought three separate packs, it would have been $12.30.  Hooray for saving 32 cents!  I’ve you’re keeping track, that is now $16.08 spent on pocket monsters.

I handed over the packs of cards upon my return and thought it was finally all over.  I was wrong.

The Flower Child had a special “EX” Pokemon card that was more powerful than any of the cards that Bob the Builder or Ivan the Terrible had in their packs of cards.  Joy.

After some kicking, screaming, crying, and more crying, I said they could get some more cards on one condition.  They could all have their own three pack of cards, but only if they let my wife and I take them out to eat at a Mexican restaurant.  I needed a beer, and my wife demanded a margarita.

Back to the store we go for $33.94 worth of stupid Pocket Monster Cards, and that’s before taxes.  The running total is $590.76 for cards now.  Actually, it’s not that much, but I didn’t feel like doing any more math.  I’m a writer.  Leave me alone.

Here’s the real danger in this situation.  I like collecting cards.  Somewhere in the basement, I have stacks of baseball cards.  Even worse than that, I still have Magic the Gathering cards under my bed.  In college, I played that game a ton.  I remember cashing my monthly check from Hollywood Video when I worked in college and then spending it all on Magic the Gathering cards.  Granted, I only got paid about $41 per month, but I needed more cards!  Will I get sucked into this card craze?  Please, no!

At the restaurant, they tore into their packs.  The first thing Bob the Builder and Ivan the Terrible looked for was if they got any special “EX” cards.  They didn’t get any, but the Flower Child got another.

So, do any of you readers want to give me your old Pokemon cards?  Specifically any “Mega” cards or “EX” cards.  For the love of all things sacred, give me your Pokemon.  I’ve got to catch them all!

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. 

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)