Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Life Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

I am of the"get a bigger hammer" school of thought. I am always looking for a shortcut, a step to eliminate, a trick to minimize the clean-up. That whole "measure twice, cut once" mentality does not come naturally to me. Al says I am a "hack". But some of the most valuable life lessons and handy family and household tips I have learned came completely by chance or trial and error. Some have scarred me, physically and emotionally, but I am better off for the knowledge I have gained. Like the many uses of a hot glue gun. Did you know that piping hot glue could burn off a wart? You might be tempted to forgo that trip to the dermatologist and that ever-increasing co-pay, but I would not recommend it. So here, in no particular order, is an incomplete listing of my stumbled upon helpful hints.
  1. Don't tell your pediatrician if you still use a mercury thermometer. They work fine if still intact but are frowned upon by the medical community.
  2. Do not let your teenage son use the guest bathroom. Ever. Guaranteed, he would use it at an inopportune time and the aromatic candle has not yet been made that will clear the air quickly enough to avoid an embarrassing situation.
  3. Your eyelash curler works much better if you heat it up with your blow dryer. Be sure to use a low setting and cool the ends with your thumbs to avoid burning your brow bone.
  4. Onion skins, cucumber peels and potato peels will all hopelessly clog your garbage disposal.
  5. Rolling down all four electric windows of your car at the same time will overload the circuit and cause a short. There is usually a reset button under the dashboard.
  6. Baking soda is underused. In addition to its use in baking and as an antacid, it is a great household and personal cleanser. It is a great inexpensive teeth whitener and facial exfoliant. It will also douse most small kitchen fires
  7. Apple tart en flambe is surprisingly good.
  8. A turkey baster can double as a medicine dropper.
  9. A three-year old boy will usually pass the metal marble from a "Mousetrap" game within 24 hours.
  10. To a harassed mom, her husband's unsolicited participation in household chores constitutes foreplay.
  11. When attempting to talk your way out of a traffic ticket, "cute and plaintive" goes a lot farther than "argumentative and sarcastic."
  12. When stringing the lights on your Christmas tree, plug the light string in first and start at the bottom. Although they say to connect no more than 3 strings, you can probably get away with 5 but definitely not 10.
  13. McDonald's french fries have restorative properties. Getting tired on the road? Grab a large chocolate shake and an order of fries. Hungover? Try a large Diet Coke and fries.
  14. At a crowded venue such as an amusement park, dress your kids in bright-colored tops so they are easy to spot in a crowd if (when) they get separated from you. Surprisingly, tie-dyed shirts act more like camouflage.
  15. Add a clean sewing needle to a manicure kit and you have everything you need to get out a splinter, remove stitches or pop a pimple
  16. Tell your kids that a car's engine must be kept running after a successful jump start. Do not let the tow truck driver leave before you double check that the engine is still going.
  17. Teach your teenage driver that the burning odor they detect while driving is probably because the parking brake is still set.
  18. On a 1986 BMW, the neutral safety switch was not standard and the key could be removed from the ignition when the car was not in "Park" or "Neutral".
  19. Watching your 1986 BMW roll perfectly straight down your driveway, across the street and into the the neighbors landscaping constitutes an alignment check.
That is probably enough for now. There are many more to come.


  1. 20. Never start a land war in Asia.
    21. If someone asks you if you're a god, say yes.
    22. Nothing stops a conversation more quickly than reciting lines from movies. But if you're among a bunch of guys (who don't have real conversations), lines from movies are conversation.

  2. 23. Don't try to clean a fish bowl in a sink that is a snug fit for the bowl.
    24. Don't ever hitchhike within a 3 mile radius of where your Dad works.
    25. When backpacking, never count on a fresh meal coming from the lake.
    26. Never think bubble gum hides the smell of alcohol on your breath.
    27. Never piss your brother off to the point he feels he has to contort his face to look like a fish.
    28. Never say "I'll never say 'because I said so' to my children" because you will.
    29. Expect to sound like your parents when you become a parent.
    30. Do not think for a moment that the small stuff will stay small after you are married.
    31. Do not expect the house to stay clean for even a hour after you have cleaned it and you won't be disappointed.
    32. Baby oil used for a tanning lotion does not keep your skin young and beautiful 30 years later.
    33. No matter how much weight you lose and how healthy you feel, your skin still reminds you that you will never be as young and beautiful as you thought you were when you used baby oil in the sun in a tube top at UCSB.
    34. Ditto to Joe's #22 and it's also not fun for those that don't know the movie by heart.
    35. Your family WILL always be there for you, no matter what.