I Hate Auto-Flushing Toilets

I don’t think I’d ever used a public toilet at Wal-Mart until today. Generally, I avoid using public restrooms anywhere, but sometimes, you just have to go.

So, I parked my cart and went into the ladies’ room at my local Wal-Mart. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the new bidet! I’ve never used a bidet before, but I’ve heard they are something that rich people sometimes have installed in their home bathrooms. They are toilets that spray water on your butt, for an extra-clean bottom, right?

You’re probably thinking Wal-Mart is an unlikely place for a bidet toilet. So was I!

Guess what — it wasn’t a bidet! It was just a stupid toilet with an auto-flush feature.

auto flush toilet
Beware of the auto-flush!

I suppose auto-flush toilets are meant to keep people’s hands clean, by eliminating the need to press a flush lever manually. I presume the intended function of the auto-flush toilet would be something like this:

1. When the sensor indicates a person is seated, the toilet would not flush.
2. When the sensor detects the person has vacated the seat, it executes the hands-free flush.

However, that is not what happened to me today.

First of all, I don’t like to sit down on unfamliar toilets. The paper toilet seat cover dispenser was empty, so I fashioned my own by layering strips of toilet paper over the seat, and assumed the oh-so-graceful hover-squat. Most women who share my fear of foreign toilets are familiar with this position. Done improperly, it can result in a seat-sprinkling spray, so it requires mental concentration, a keen sense of balance, and strong thigh muscles.

What you DON’T want to happen when you’re trying to hover-squat over a dirty Wal-Mart toilet? AUTO-FLUSH.

So there I was, mid-squat, when the toilet started to rumble. Then, the water beneath me started to swirl. Uh-oh.

As the vortex of the rogue flush reached full pressure and velocity, I could feel my backside being sprayed and showered with cold, wet droplets, and a disgusting mist from the bowl. Toilet water and the leftover microscopic nasty bits of who knows how many strangers’ deposits, now clinging to my bare skin. Oh. My.

What would you have done? Of course, I started to stand up and wipe myself off. But you know what happens when you stand up from an auto-flushing toilet? It FLUSHES AGAIN.

Seriously?!

So I decided it might be safer to sit down again, because that’s how you’re supposed to tell the toilet that it shouldn’t flush yet, right? So I dried off the seat, which had also been fairly thoroughly spritzed by the flushing, laid down another layer of clean paper, and tried sitting down.

Too late! During the seat-preparation phase of my toilet transaction, the toilet must have thought I was seated, and when I turned around to actually sit, it went into geyser mode again.

Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone National Park
Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dammit! By that time, I was so frustrated and disgusted, I gave up.

I dried myself off, pulled up my pants, and went out to wash up. As soon as I got home, I threw all of my clothes into the laundry and took a shower. I hope I don’t catch death from the triple toilet unintended bidet-spray. Be careful out there, people!

Stop calling things “Artisan”

On a recent trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru, I was in the mood for a cheeseburger, but convinced myself to go with a slightly less guilt-inducing “Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich.”

On my way through Window One, the polite girl at the register confirmed my order, made change for the ten, and waved me forward to Window Two. The boy there handed me my Diet Coke and then said, “I’ll go get your Artesian.”

Artisan vs artesian
Stop calling things “artisan!”

Seriously?

This prompted a couple of thoughts for me:
1. Stop calling things “artisan.”
2. “Artesian” and “artisan” are NOT the same.

Dictionary.com provides this definition of “artisan.”
Artisan: Adjective. Pertaining to an artisan or the product of an artisan; artisanal: artisan beer.

I enjoyed my chicken sandwich. It was pretty good! But I doubt anything about it was “artisan.” The bun didn’t appear handmade. I doubt the chicken was an artisan. The people who assembled it in the kitchen? The kid who handed it through Window Two? Nope.

And while we’re talking about that kid, he’s not the first person I’ve heard say “artesian” when he meant “artisan.” In case you’re wondering, here’s what that means.

Artesian: Adjective. Noting, pertaining to, or characteristic of an artesian well.

And if you don’t remember what an artesian well is?

Artesian well: Noun. A well in which water rises under pressure from a permeable stratum overlaid by impermeable rock.

My sandwich was tasty, but it was neither artisan nor artesian.

Stop calling things “artisan!” And if you call anything “artesian” that is not well-related, you sound stupid.

A “You’ve got to be kidding!” GeekMom rant

My kids love flexible bendy straws, and I brought home a package from Bed Bath & Beyond a couple of days ago. After I opened the package, I happened to read the “Use and Care Instructions” on the back, and this is what I saw…

bendy straw instructions

In case that’s too small for you to read, here is what it says.

Perfect for rootbeer floats, sodas, cocktails and more. Three fun colors. Handwash before use. (emphasis added)

You’ve got to be kidding me! Who has the time or inclination to wash a bunch of plastic straws before use?! Sorry, but the most I can manage is a quick rinse with tap water. What am I supposed to do? Get out the pipe cleaners to scrub the skinny tubes?

I guess I’ll be looking for Made in USA bendy straws from now on, and these will go into the craft bin.

Does it have to be so big?

big RSS buttonWith the recent blog explosion, I’ve noticed a proliferation of extra-large RSS icons.

I certainly understand people’s desire to attract subscribers. I have my own RSS icons on my blog. See them over there on the right, near the top of the page? Nice little buttons with the familiar — even standard — little curvy line design. Nice, right? You know what they’re for, and you can use them if you want to.

I got them from feedicons.com, if you’re interested.

But what’s with the ginormous feed icons? They remind me of Flavor Flav‘s huge wall clock necklace pendant. Does it have to be so big? Does it tell time better than a normal wristwatch?

Now, it may be that the over-large RSS icon is being used as a design element, which is fine. But as far as function, I think these R.I.O.U.S.s (RSS Icons Of Unusual Size) are a bit excessive. Kind of like an unnecessary and too-long acronym. 😉

I doubt there is a correlation between the size of an RSS icon and the number of subscribers it attracts. Also, there is probably no relationship between the size of the icon and anything else useful. Of course, people can do what they like with their own sites and icons. But isn’t there a size at which the RSS button becomes too big to do its job, and becomes an eyesore, a distraction, or even a deterrent, to would-be subscribers? How about the “World’s Biggest RSS Button“, which is so big, it leaves no room for anything else on the page?

I think the RSS icon should be big enough to be found easily by users who are looking for it, but small enough to be ignored by those who aren’t. That’s just my opinion.

Five tips to make your blog load faster (and keep more visitors)

I have been looking at dozens of blogs lately, thanks to EntreCard and my obsessive-compulsive disorder. (That’s a whole other post.) I have found some really interesting sites, with great stories and helpful articles. I’m talking with people and making friends. I’m stumbling and subscribing. This is blogging at its best!

However, there are some sites that are so full of “stuff” that I can’t even stick around long enough to see how great the content might be, because I get annoyed waiting for all the widgets and ads to load. I just leave. Maybe I’m too impatient. Perhaps I’m being too critical. What can I say? I’m sorry.

I love a site that loads quickly and is not overburdened with junk! If you want to keep impatient clickers from leaving during loading, try these simple tips.

  1. Keep images to a minimum. If you must include photos on your front page, display a thumbnail or low-resolution image with a link to the real thing.
  2. Say no to auto-play audio/video files. Slow and annoying — not a good combination.
  3. Place the most important widgets above the fold (the portion of the page visible without scrolling down) so people can get right to the good stuff.
  4. Remember that savvy surfers are largely “banner blind.” Don’t fill your page with cumbersome ads that are just going to get ignored anyway.
  5. Resist the temptation to fill every bit of space. Leaving some blank areas is easier on the eyes, and white space takes no time to load.

I’m sure there are many more tips I haven’t included, but those are the ones that came to me just now. Feel free to throw in your two cents!

I’m not sure what to think about pay-per-post

I don’t want to offend anyone here, but I guess I might. It seems that Pay-Per-Post (PPP) badges are popping up on blogs everywhere. I understand that most bloggers are hoping to make some money. I know what kind of time goes into writing posts and maintaining a site, not to mention that most bloggers have families, “real” jobs, and lots of other things going on in their lives. I’m right there with you! I get it!

But when I read a post on a blog that has a PPP badge, or maybe a disclosure statement (explaining that some posts may or may not be influenced by sponsors), I wonder whether I’m reading a genuine article or a paid advertisement. Is it just me, or does a blog that accepts PPP writing assignments lose some of its credibility? Maybe I should read the whole blog before I decide whether it’s too commercial for me, but how many of us have time for that? Is that how you surf blogs? Probably not.

I’m not trying to sound high and mighty. Pay-Per-Post bloggers aren’t bad people. I’ve considered getting in on PPP myself, but I’ve decided against it. I’ve decided this blog is going to be all mine. Now if somebody wants to hire me to write for a separate publication, that’s a different story. But like it or not, this one’s all me. There you have it.

Why I don’t like Dora the Explorer (rant alert)


I have never been a big fan of Dora the Explorer. I don’t like to complain, but when Dora first hit the scene, I wanted to like her! I thought it sounded like a great idea to have a young Latina heroine solving problems and speaking Spanish! But right away, I noticed a couple of things I just couldn’t get over.

First of all, why doesn’t her shirt cover her belly? Isn’t it bad enough having to see grown-up women baring their tummies all over TV? Do we have to see it on preschool programs? I’m sure the animators made a conscious decision to leave her belly exposed, because it couldn’t be an accident. I mean, how many frames do they have to draw to make a single episode? Can’t they just draw her shirt a little lower? I guess it’s supposed to be cute, but the more I see it, the more annoying it is.

Secondly, why does she always shout? To me, the dialogue on the show seems so loud. Unless Dora and Boots are deliberately whispering, it sounds like they’re yelling. And then, they urge the viewers to shout at the TV! “I can’t hear you! Say it louder!” Or how about “Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping!” Stop!

I didn’t think Dora would last this long, but she’s still everywhere.

Don’t even get me started on Bratz!