Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Men are territorial by nature.  We live in artificially close quarters.  That leads to some unspoken rules for males.  Many of those rules apply to when it is time to urinate. 

Most public places have urinals.  In fact, I have considered putting one in the corner of my garage.  That would be awesome.  My sons think it is a great idea.

There are four cardinal rules of men's bathrooms.  1. Do not talk when urinating.  It is distracting and may cause a condition known as pee-shyness.  This condition affects many men's ability to initiate a urination.  Talking may be engaged when all parties have finished the business end of the bathroom trip.   2. Don't look anywhere but directly in front of you or at the ceiling.  3.  It is imperative that you don't touch another man while he urinates.  Even if you realize from your peripheral vision that the man peeing next to you is your long lost brother.  Patting him on the shoulder while urinating could cause a psychological disturbance making pee-shyness a permanent condition  4. Follow urinal etiquette as explained below.  (Notice there is no rule on washing hands.  There is some pressure to do this when in a group of three or more, but it is not required.)

Urinal Etiquette is based on the number of urinals and how many stations are in use when you enter the bathroom.  These rules apply regardless of how bad you need to use the bathroom, but might be broken if you are using the bathroom with a close friend or family member. 

Single Urinal Scenarios

The single urinal is the most common scenario a man faces.  If it is unoccupied, you are free to use it.  If it is occupied, one must wait in line against the wall furthest from the urinal, or use the toilet, preferably with the door locked.

Double Urinal Scenarios

If there is no metal divider between the urinals, a double urinal should be treated as a single unit.  Again, you should wait against the wall furthest from the urinals, or use the toilet.  If there is a divider and one urinal is in use the second one is fair game. 

Triple Urinal Scenarios

Most establishments that can afford triple urinals, have gone through the expense of partitioning them off.  Therefore most buildings with three or more urinals do not need to be treated as singles.  However, if you are visiting an establishment without partitions, treat the urinal array as a single entity. 

If there are three vacant urinals, it is forbidden to use the middle urinal as it makes the other two urinals occupied.  Compare this to "ghost runners" in baseball.  There isn't anyone on base, but yet there is.  So, the general rule is that there is a "ghost pee-er" in all adjacent spaces.  Therefore, the first person to enter the bathroom must use urinal one or three, leaving a ghost pee-er on the second urinal.  The second visitor can take the other side, and if a third person happens to show up, he can displace the "ghost pee-er" and fill in the middle position, but only if urinals one and three are occupied.

Four Urinal Scenarios

As with triple urinals, the outermost must be used first.  Some confusion arises for the third visitor as he must choose between urinals two and three.  Usually he will choose the station closer to the man he is less intimidated by.  If station one is occupied by a five foot man and station four is occupied by a six foot six inch man, and you are shorter than six foot six, station two is your best bet.  However, if you are over six foot six, or are extremely confident, you may choose station three.  The fourth visitor need not worry about confidence or intimidation, and can merely displace the ghost pee-er from the remaining station.

Five Urinal Scenarios

In this situation the middle urinal may be approached by the first visitor as it leaves stalls one and five open for the next visitor.  The remaining stalls can then be broken down as three station configurations with one end taken. 

Unique Scenarios

Troughs at Angel Stadium

When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, my dad took me to an Angel baseball game.  At angel stadium, we fought our way into the bathroom between innings with fifty other men.  I really had to go.  Two sodas were fighting their way though my bladder when we stood in line to use "The trough".  It was just like a horse watering station, a long trough with water running in one end and draining out the other side.  I walked up and unzipped to find the trough full of ice.  Not only was I surrounded by a dozen other grown men with no partitions, but I was expected to pee on ice.  Pee-shyness kicked in for a good two minutes as I tried my darnedest to get rid of my excess fluid.  My dad telling me to hurry up did not help.  Finally relief came and I melted an ice cube.  It was a novelty I have not duplicated at any other venue.  Thank you Angels stadium.

Harassing your brother

While on a road trip with my younger brother we stopped to get gas and use the bathroom.  He knows I try to make him pee-shy by standing in the station next to him and kicking him while he tries to go.  On this occasion he decided to use a toilet stall and he locked the door behind him.  I heard the him lift the lid and start to urinate.  Since there were no other patrons in the bathroom, and I was in dirty clothes to begin with, I rolled onto the floor in front of his stall and slid on my back like a mechanic, sliding under the opening under his stall door.  I grabbed both of his feet with my hands and screamed at the top of my lungs.  He jumped about ten feet in the air, totally unsuspecting of my attack.  I'm pretty sure urine hit the roof and the wall behind the toilet as he jumped out of the way.  I shimmied back out of the stall faster than his expletives to avoid being kicked.   That prank broke three of the cardinal rules.  I spoke, touched, and broke the stall spacing rules.  However, I did not peek. Since he is already permanently pee-shy there was no harm done. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


So we drovee our new, used-car home on Saturday.  On Monday, my wife spent her entire day fighting for government compliance.  She got a safety and emissions inspection done (about $100.00) just to license our car.  It passed.  She got the transmission flushed and oil changed (for my peace of mind, not government compliance).  Then she spent a couple of hours at the D.M.V. (the unhappiest place on earth?) to pay more money ($187.00)  for a piece of paper and two pieces of metal that let us drive the friendly Utah roads.

When she got home she handed me the receipt for the registration.  First of all, I want to rant about double taxation.  Someone bought this car from a dealership and paid sales tax to the state.  Now, eleven years and two owners later, the state requires another sales tax payment for the same vehicle.  And if I sell it tomorrow, they will require yet another. 

Lets look at what fees were assessed to make up $187.00

1. Motor vehicle title $6.00.  OK, I agree to a fee that says this car is mine.  Six bucks, not bad.

2. State Sales Tax $47.00.  Did I already mention that double taxation is crap?

3. Local Sales Tax $10.00.  Oh, there are multiple sales taxes.  That's convenient.  My hands started clamping down on the title a little harder.

4. Zoo, Cultural Tax $1.00.  What the *%@&%?  Is it assumed that I will take this car to the zoo, or is this to pay for the zoo that is the D.M.V.?  Seriously.  That is a dollar I could have used on a Slurpee on my way home today.  But instead there is a Zoo, Cultural Tax fund.  What is that for?  I mean, I still have to pay when I go to the zoo.  The zoo isn't free.  The food there isn't free.  What the *%@&%?

5. County Options Sales Tax $2.50.  Wait a second.  Didn't I just pay two other sales taxes?  There is a third one?  Two and a half more Slurpees I can't buy now.

6. Mass Transit Tax $5.00.  What?  I own a car, I don't take the bus.  Tax the people who use mass transit for using it.  Now I have to pay a tax for something I don't use?  Five more Slurpees.  So much for family night at 7-eleven.

7. County Option Transportation.  $2.50.  OK, now they are just making stuff up.  That sounds like a medical term a doctor uses to confuse his patient.  Ya, I'm gonna need surgery.

8. Supplemental State Sales Tax.  $.50  Wait a second.  Didn't I just pay three other sales taxes?  Only half a Slurpee, maybe the public won't notice.

The first eight fees come to $74.50.  That is under the heading of Title a Vehicle with a Utah title. 

Now we move on to the LE Skier passenger/LT Truck heading.

9. Uninsured motorist identification fee.  $1.00.   Are we microchipping uninsured motorists like pets now?  If I run that scanner thingy from the vet hospital over an uninsured motorist will it beep and call for the police?  I'm not gonna get any Slurpees this summer.

10. MV Drivers Education.  $2.50  OK, I took drivers ed like twenty years ago.  Can I quit paying for it yet?

11. Plate fee $5.00.  Licence plates are kind of cool.  Five Slurpees sounds like a fair price.  Maybe even six if they have that sweet new metallic shiny paint coating.

12. County Assessed Fee Current year.  $50.00 Another medical term.  Is it contagious Doctor?

13. Weber County Gasoline Passenger.  $1.00 Does my gasoline passenger have to wear a seat belt?  Does he look like the water monster from the movie "The Abyss"? 

14. Cor Fee - Weber $10.00 Now they aren't even spelling out the fees.  I think cor is short for corset.  It is the fee for close fitting undergarments.  I should tell them I'm not wearing underwear.

15. Passenger registration 7/09 $43.00  Hmmm.  Do I have to register my passengers?  What if I am the only one driving the car?  I'll even take the other seats out  for you.

Grand total, one hundred and eighty seven Slurpees.

Fifteen fees later and I was feeling violated.  It's like someone took a couple of taxes and put them in a box with plenty of food and water and they reproduced like rabbits, making a bunch of baby taxes.  And we stupid citizens keep paying them.  A dollar here, another dollar there.  Next thing you know 7-eleven is out of business. 

Wait, I propose the Slurpee tax.  Just one more dollar every time you register your car.  Brain freezes are worth it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Slurpees and Saturdays

My wife wrecked her van a couple weeks ago.  Yes, everyone is OK.  But the van is dead.  A total loss. 

She shopped for two weeks to find a car.  She put a status update on her facebook page that read, "Emily is:  looking for a good used car driven by a grandma."  Within a few hours an old friend from high school replied,  "My grandma has dementia and is getting rid of her car.  Give me a call."  It was an eleven-year-old car with 54,000 miles with a set of extra snow tires for a great price.  We agreed to come see it on Saturday.

In the mean time, my wife has been driving my van.  So much so, that there was no gas in it on Saturday when I trailered up and went to get a load of wood chips from the composting facility.  I left the house at 1:30 p.m. We needed to leave at 3:30 p.m. to go get the new car.  All the kids came with me rather than stay with mom to weed planters. 

On the way to get gas and Slurpees, my diabetic son yells out over my country station, "Dad, I only have four units of insulin in my pump." 

A silent expletive left my lips as I realized my wife left me with no gas and no insulin.  Slurpees and gas would have to wait until we were on our way home.  We didn't want the shaved ice to melt completely while we waited for my son to get an infusion of insulin to handle the tidal wave of sugar in an extra large cherry Slurpee. 

Turned out we had about six miles worth of fuel in the van.  That was just enough to get our load of wood chips and drive dead center between two gas stations on the way back.  Two miles either direction stood between us and fuel.  It was now 2:30 p.m.

"Kids, we have no gas, and mom has no car to bring us gas.  We are on our own.  We need to hustle.  Lets go."  The kids piled out of the van and started walking.  My wife's side of the family has an aversion to socks so my daughter was in flip flops, my son was in vans, and my younger son was in sandals.  I was in boots.  With socks.  Like always.

A mile down the road, my diabetic son's foot starts blistering.   I'm pretty sure another expletive ran through my head. 

Two miles later, my son was walking barefoot with the blistering foot, and I paid $9.99 for a stupid one gallon gas can.  I shook my head at the $.69 sales tax the state made for doing nothing.  My kids wanted their Slurpees, but I wanted to get back to the car in a hurry.  I thought Slurpees would deter would-be hitch-hiker picker-uppers (yes, I did just use three hyphenated words in a sentence).

We jaywalked across the road and my kids started walking like they were crossing the Mojave and were parched with thirst.  I smiled as I looked at my pathetic family.  Surely someone would have mercy on a man with three kids and a gas can, thumbing it down the road. 

Fifty cars drove past as we passed the first quarter-mile.  Barefoot son was almost crying.

Then someone stopped.

We ran up and explained our plight and they moved some miscellaneous car gear from the back seat.  We were rescued. 

My kids thanked them and explained we were walking "all day in the hot sun with no Slurpees." 

We got back to the car at 3:40 p.m.  We filled the tank the rest of the way and got the much coveted icy drinks.  My kids were silent.  We got home at 4:00 p.m. with a full tank of gas and empty Slurpee cups. 

My wife has her own car again.  Life is back to normal.  That was the second time I've hitch-hiked with my kids, but that is a story for another day.