Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Favorite Use of Toilet Paper

Working at Dairy Queen was monotonous.  Flipping burgers and blending blizzards gets a little old after a few months.  My teenage coworkers remedied this situation by playing pranks.  Jokes ranged from adding salt to soda cups to filling each other’s pockets with whipping cream.  Teenagers are also very stupid.  That’s why the walk-in freezer does not let you get locked inside.

I worked with a fun group of people:  Brian La Croix, Debbie Caulkins, Jason Mills, and our friend Perry to name a few.  Being around that group made flipping burgers bearable and even enjoyable. 

At some point a toilet paper war started.  There is some confusion as to who started the war and about how many times a pocket got filled with whipping cream to instigate the war, but it started and no one was backing down.  Most weekend shifts ended with a run to the grocery store to buy 12-packs of toilet paper. 

Now you wouldn’t think that people making $4.25 per hour would want to blow an hour’s wages on toilet paper, but when you get out of the mindset of it being toilet paper and consider it more like a badge of retaliatory honor, the value of the water soluble paper increases. 

There is an art to toilet papering a yard.  It starts with parking down the street from your intended target and preparing the rolls.  You have to open the bag and get each roll “started” so it is ready to unravel when thrown.  We got really good at gauging the perfect parabola over our friend’s trees to make toilet paper stick for months to years well out of reach of ladders and rakes.  In fact, toilet paper in my parent’s trees once took over a year and a half to break down and blow away. 

Our toilet paper war went on for months.  Keep in mind this was happening in California where there is no winter peace season.  One night the crew closing the Dairy Queen decided it was Jason Mills turn to get TP’d.  But the problem was, Jason knew it was coming.  We knew he knew.  He was really good at waiting up for us. 

This week, we changed tactics.  I ran up the driveway first and grabbed his garden hose and quietly turned on the water as everyone else flung toilet paper rolls in beautiful arching curves in the sky.  Jason heard us and came running out the front door in his white briefs underwear.  I stepped out of the bushes and pulled the trigger on the hose nozzle and hit him square in the chest.  The blast caught him off guard and the water sent him hydroplaning right off his feet.  He went down straight on his back on the concrete and landed with a thud.  Time stopped.  But then it sped up as he lept to his feet and chased after me with a speed generally reserved for Cheetahs on the Nature channel.  He almost caught me, because even with shoes on, it is really hard to run when you are laughing uncontrollably. 

OK, working at Dairy Queen was anything but monotonous. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Meeting 1993 me

I wonder what 18-year-old me would think of….me.

June 1993, I walked away from Fontana High School for one last time.  We just returned from grad night at Disneyland.  Graduating Seniors had the park to themselves from eleven at night to about five in the morning.  I was still wearing my tie, because all young men had to wear suits to grad night and Disneyland to avoid gang conflicts.  The bus ride home from the theme park was brutal.  We were exhausted.  I had to be at Dairy Queen to work at 10 am.  My nap on the bus was going to have to hold me over.  Well, the nap and the free soft drinks that came with working at a fast food restaurant. 

But what if I didn’t have to go make blizzards that day?  What if I jumped forward to today and walked into my front door and met 2017 me? 

1993 me was starting summer quarter at Cal Poly Pomona in a week.  My plans after High School included studying Pre-veterinary medicine, going on a mission for my church, getting married, getting a Veterinary medicine degree, moving to Colorado and raising six kids while hunting, fishing, and hiking during my time off.  1993 me wanted to live in the mountains and have several dogs.  I figured I’d look like Mark Harmon or Sam Elliott when I was 40.  I hoped my wife would be outdoorsy too.    

So what would that me think of now-me?  What would he say? 

Well, there would probably be some discussion about how fat I am.  In fact I think younger me would probably threaten older me about getting into shape.  I think younger me would love my garage and my house and the mountain I live by.  I think younger me would highly approve of Emily.  I’d probably have to threaten younger me to quit checking her out.  Younger me would wonder why we only had three kids, and why I didn’t get a Doctorate.  He would wonder why I’m still fixing appliances and not kicking off my next business venture.  I don’t think he would be very happy with where my business ended up.  I think he would absolutely love seeing all the cool places I’ve been able to hike and backpack over the years.

Younger me would be stoked that older me speaks Russian.  He would think that is the coolest thing ever.  He would be disappointed that I haven’t been back to the Ukraine.  Younger me would love my dog. (we didn’t have a dog for very long growing up because my brother was allergic).  Younger me would want to wrestle with older-me’s kids.  Because, who wouldn’t want a chance to get to do that on an even playing field?  And younger me would also want to go down to the track and race my kids too.

But, I wonder who would benefit more from the conversation?  Younger me learning from older me, or older me getting back in tune with younger me. 

But at the end of the day I don’t think either of us would change a thing.  I’ve got a pretty great life. After I took younger me on a tour and resisted the temptation to print off a list of companies that did well over the past 20 years, older me would tell younger me to get to Dairy Queen and start my shift.  Younger me would forbid older me from ever visiting Dairy Queen again. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016


My son did a science fair project on snow caves this year.  He built one up about 7 feet tall and 20 feet wide and dug a space out for two people to lay in.  I thought it would always be warmer inside the cave, but there is a point, even with people inside that it starts acting more like a refrigerator and is cooler inside than out.  

First we tested it with two young women sleeping inside overnight.  That night there was just a tent material front door on the cave.  These are the results:

The next experiment was with a 9 hour candle lantern inside.  It tipped over in the middle of the night and went out.  Once again, it just had a thin tent material door on the opening.  These are the results:

The next night we tried again with the 9 hour candle lantern.  This time it did not go out until 6:30 am.

Then we covered the door with a summer sleeping bag to make the cave more airtight and we tried it with no one inside and no heat source inside.  The temperature spiked during the day, but the inside temperature was steady.

The next test was with a candle and the door covered with the sleeping bag.  The candle went out at 6am, but only kept the cave a couple of degrees warmer than without it.   And it was still colder in the cave than outside.

Two boys laid inside the cave and watched part of a movie on a tablet with the sleeping bag over the door.  Two bodies only raised the temperature by about 6 degrees.  It was still colder inside the cave than outside.

Bear in mind that a snow cave protects you from wind and rain and snow, but all other things being equal, it is only warmer in the cave if it is below 23 degrees outside and you have covered the door with a sleeping bag.

He took first place in the 6th grade and 2nd place overall.  Good job, Buddy!