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!

Tips to Help Teens Find Jobs

The book is “A Teen’s Guide to Career Success: How to Get and Keep a Job”

Book cover
Book cover
My oldest kid is a 16 year old boy, who has recently decided he needs to get a job. When I was offered a chance to review “A Teen’s Guide to Career Success: How to Get and Keep a Job,” by Jim Comiskey, I thought the timing was perfect!

What’s inside?

The book follows two teenage reporters on assignment for their school paper to find out how to get and keep a job. As they interview three past graduates who have successful careers and businesses, they learn about each step of the job search process.

Along the way, the book has several worksheets for the reader to complete, which are designed to provide a self-evaluation of job-hunting and work readiness. The sections of the book address several stages of work/career, from preparing a resume and interviewing, to starting and keeping a job. It also addresses good employee attributes, such as having a positive attitude, working hard, cooperation, and time management.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

The verdict

My son thought the information in the book was definitely valuable, but found the story of the interviews to be kind of cheesey and lame. He said, “I don’t want to offend anyone, but the dialogue seems kind of childish.”

Example of graphic from book
Example of graphic from book

I thought the information was useful — not only for first-time job seekers — but for anybody trying to improve a job situation, or for people changing fields or re-entering the job market. Although seasoned employees will probably not learn anything new from this book, it will be a valuable resource for teens! As a parent, I’m happy to provide my teenager another resource that reinforces the things I’ve been trying to tell him about having a positive attitude and being willing to work hard.

The bottom line

I recommend “A Teen’s Guide to Career Success: How to Get and Keep a Job” for any teens who are starting to look for work. It contains practical information that will help kids get started on the right foot, whether they are looking for summer jobs or considering long-term career possibilities.

PS

Thanks to Blue Point Books for providing me with a review copy of this book!

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.

Silk Interactive Art Generator

What is Silk?

Since I can’t draw anything besides stick figures, I’m always excited about tools that help me create interesting and beautiful things. Silk is a very colorful and simple click-and-create artwork generator. The resulting artwork is pleasantly geeky, with a colorful, computer-generated sort of beauty. I love it!

How to use Silk

Silk controls
Silk controls

To start using the tool, simple click and drag your cursor over the blank screen. Silk will create an interesting pattern for you, which looks something like a Spirograph pattern, but more intricate and complicated.

Click on the color palette to change your ink, or click and drag between two colors to create a custom blend.

Change the way your lines are drawn by choosing different levels of rotational symmetry, mirroring, and spiral effects.

Artwork created with Silk

I had a great time playing with Silk, and I saved a few of my colorful creations. Give it a try (weavesilk.com) and let me know what you think! I’d love to see what you make.

Silk is also available for iPhone and iPad.

Silk artwork #3
Silk artwork #3
Silk artwork #2
Silk artwork #2
Silk artwork #3
Silk artwork #3

Memorial Day Thoughts – 7 photos

Memorial Day is an annual holiday in the USA, observed on the last Monday in May. It’s designated as the day we remember those men and women who died while serving in the military.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Sometimes, we forget the original purpose of Memorial Day. I’ve put together a little collection of images from our war memorials, with thoughtful inscriptions and quotations. I found these meaningful and poignant, and wanted to share them with my kids to help them understand the value of service, the price of freedom, and to help us feel more gratitude for the good things we enjoy.

Enjoy your holiday, and take a moment to remember…

From the World War 2 Memorial:

“THEY FOUGHT TOGETHER AS
BROTHERS-IN-ARMS. THEY DIED
TOGETHER AND NOW THEY
SLEEP SIDE BY SIDE. TO THEM
WE HAVE A SOLEMN OBLIGATION.”
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

(photo by William Hartz)
from the World War 2 Memorial

“WOMEN WHO STEPPED UP
WERE MEASURED AS CITIZENS
OF THE NATION, NOT AS WOMEN…
THIS WAS A PEOPLE’S WAR,
AND EVERYONE WAS IN IT.”

Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby

"WOMEN WHO STEPPED UP WERE MEASURED AS CITIZENS OF THE NATION,  NOT AS WOMEN…THIS WAS A PEOPLE’S WAR, AND EVERYONE WAS IN IT." Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
“WOMEN WHO STEPPED UP WERE MEASURED AS CITIZENS OF THE NATION,
NOT AS WOMEN…THIS WAS A PEOPLE’S WAR, AND EVERYONE WAS IN IT.”
Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
(photo by William Hartz)

From the Korean War Memorial:

“OUR NATION HONORS
HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS
WHO ANSWERED THE CALL
TO DEFEND A COUNTRY
THEY NEVER KNEW
AND A PEOPLE
THEY NEVER MET.”

"OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET
“OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET”

“FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.”

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
“FREEDOM IS NOT FREE”
(photo by William Hartz)

From the Vietnam Memorial:

IT IS OUR DUTY TO REMEMBER…
THE GALLANT AMERICANS WHOSE NAMES
GRACE THIS MEMORIAL WALL SACRIFICED
THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF OUR
COUNTRY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR
1964-1975…

IT IS OUR DUTY TO REMEMBER... THE GALLANT AMERICANS WHOSE NAMES GRACE THIS MEMORIAL WALL SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR 1964-1975...
“IT IS OUR DUTY TO REMEMBER… THE GALLANT AMERICANS WHOSE NAMES GRACE THIS MEMORIAL WALL SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR 1964-1975…”
(photo by concep007)

From the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier:

“FREEDOM IS A LIGHT
FOR WHICH MANY MEN HAVE DIED IN DARKNESS.”

(photo by Matt McGee)
(photo by Matt McGee)

How to unsend a message in Gmail

If you’re a Gmail user, here’s a tip that could be useful. Have you ever sent an e-mail that you wish you could recall? There’s a way to do that in Gmail.

Undo Send in Gmail
Undo Send in Gmail

You can enable the feature that gives you a few seconds to unsend a message by:

  1. Clicking on the gear,
  2. then Settings
  3. then the Labs tab
  4. and scroll down to enable Undo Send.
  5. Save the changes, and you’re done!

For a 30 second how-to, watch this video.

Is this useful? Share it!

Free Phone Case Giveaway for Mother’s Day

Tech21 iPhone 6 case
My Tech21 iPhone 6 case

Geek Mom’s Review

Looking for an affordable accessory for Mother’s Day? I have three new Tech21 gadget cases to give away! I’ve just slipped a new Tech21 FlexShock™ case onto my iPhone 6, and here are my first impressions:

  1. It’s hard, but flexible. Easy to slip onto the phone, because it bends a little bit.
  2. Shiny and colorful. Reminds me a bit of those plastic “jelly shoes” from the 80s. Or a phone-shaped gummy candy. Very pretty!
  3. Interesting looking texture. I can see through the case to the Apple on the back, but there is a nice polka-dot texture overlay.
  4. Excellent fit on the phone. Fits like a plastic glove.
  5. Screen protector not included. The case covers the back, sides, and buttons, but leaves the screen and ports open.

So far, I’m enjoying my free phone case. I’m tempted to taste it, because it looks like candy! It’s shiny, but not slippery. It’s hard, but not rigid.

How to Win a Free Tech21 Case

Want one for yourself? Or to give to the woman who brought you into the world? Leave a comment to enter, and three people will win a free case (for any major mobile device), provided by Tech21.

Thanks to Tech21 for sponsoring this giveaway! Tech21 is the leader in impact protection for smartphones, tablets and laptops. Tech21 has a suite of protective cases featuring Tech21’s scientifically proven material, FlexShock, and are backed by a lifetime warranty. The new Tech21 EVO range featuring FlexShock delivers thinner (by nearly 30%), lighter and more stylish impact protection than ever before. Learn more at Tech21 or follow @Tech21_UK on Twitter.

Winners will be randomly selected, and will be contacted via e-mail, so be sure to use a functioning address when you submit your comment. Winner’s choice of case will be shipped directly from the sponsor.